Works of fiction with a military setting often use real ranks. However, sometimes, these just don't fit right. Maybe the aliens have to seem more alien, or maybe the setting is so completely different that real ranks just wouldn't fit, maybe it's a result of bad translation
, regardless, the ranks are not the same as they are in Real Life
For real ranks, see Common Ranks
, (usually) has nothing to do with Rank Inflation
. Related to Random Power Ranking
, which is for ranking Power Levels
. Also related to Space Navy
, which often uses one of these. See also Fantastic Honorifics
, which can overlap. Compare Fantastic Naming Convention
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Anime and Manga
- In the Blue Exorcist, the ranking system of Exorcists is as follows:
- Arc Knight
- Honorary Knight
- Exorcist (which is split up into...)
- Upper First Class
- Upper Second Class
- Middle First Class
- Middle Second Class
- Lower First Class
- Lower Second Class
- One of 5 different titles (known as Meister), depending on mastery (however, Paladins must master at least two). Choices are Knight, Dragoon, Tamer, Aria, and Doctor
- Humankind Empire Abh from Crest of the Stars ranks:
- Trainee Flyer
- Flyer by memorial to the throne
- Flyer by His Majesty's decree
- In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, ZAFT has no formal rank system, though they do have a chain of command based on positions, as designated by Uniform colors. The majority of ZAFT personnel wear Green uniforms, mostly technicians and soldiers. Captains and Commanders wear Black, though so do the military bureaucrats. Individuals with considerable military achievements wear White, and act as Commanding Officers. Purple is worn by those in the PLANT's Supreme Council, and are de facto Flag Officers. Elite pilots (and top graduates) wear Red, and while they don't outrank Greens, they do serve as NCOs.
- In "MÄR" the villainous army known as Chess naturally had theme ranking.
- King - The Supreme Comander, Founder, and creator of the Anti-Human philosophy of the army.
- Queen - Second in Command
- The 12 Zodiac Knights - Commanders, Specialists, Champions, and Monsters make up their ranks, usually aquired via "Klingon Promotions"
- Bishops - Lieutenants, they are still frighteningly powerful, capable of destroying an enemy garrison single handedly.
- Rooks - The lowest officer rank, they weren't too powerful, more on the level of an expert bounty hunter or veteran soldier, but still deadly by normal standards.
- Pawn - Foot soldiers given basic weapons and matching uniforms. The equivilants to well trained soldiers, not conscripts. Not a threat to the heroes, but to the average citizen quite deadly.
- The Galactic Empire in Star Wars has "Moffs" and "Grand Moffs" which are sorts of military governors.
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe has Grand Admirals and Supreme Commanders, though many Imperial warlords kept giving themselves even more ostentatious ranks, up to Omnipotent Battle Leader.
- Iron Sky has typical SS ranks taken Up to Eleven with titles like Nachrichtenübermittlungs-Oberführer (roughly means "message flow brigadier").
- The alien race the Kur in Gor have a military organization described thusly:
"In their military organizations," I said, "six such beasts constitute a Hand, and its leader is called an Eye. Two hands and two eyes constitute a larger unit, called a "Kur" or "Beast," which is commanded by a leader, or Blood. Twelve such units constitute a Band, commanded again by a Blood, though of higher rank. Twelve bands, again commanded by a Blood, of yet higher rank, constitute a March. Twelve Marches is said to constitute a People. These divisors and multiples have to do with, it seems, a base-twelve mathematics, itself perhaps indexed historically to the six digits of one of the creature's prehensile appendages."
"Why is the leader spoken of as a Blood?' asked Samos.
"It seems to have been an ancient belief among such creatures," I said, "that thought was a function of the blood, rather than of the brain, a terminology which has apparently lingered in their common speech. Similar anachronisms occur in many languages, including Gorean."
"Who commands a People?" asked Samos.
"One who is said to be a 'Blood' of the People, as I understand it," I said.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars stories.
- Than = Ordinary warrior or seaman
- Padwar = Lieutenant
- Dwar = Captain (commands 100 men or one flier)
- Odwar = General/Admiral (commands 10,000 men)
- Jedwar = Generals of generals (warlord)
- A Jed is a noble, generally the ruler of a single city or Green Martian tribe.
- A Jeddak is equivalent to a king, ruling over a nation of several cities or tribes.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, the King's advisors have titles like "Master of Laws" (i.e. attorney general or justice minister), "Master of Coins" (i.e. secretary of trade or finance minister), and "Master of Ships" (i.e. secretary of the navy). In A Feast For Crows, Cersei's paranoia and lust for power inspire her to cull the word "Master" out of everyone's titles, so that they don't start thinking that they are anything more than advisors; Master of Ships, for example, becomes Grand Admiral.
- In the New Jedi Order, the Yuuzhan Vong have an elaborate ranking system among their castes; the Supreme Overlord, a God Emperor, is at the top, followed by the four main castes (castes are equal, ranks go from top to bottom):
- Warrior Caste:
- Supreme Commander
- Priest Caste
- Most-High Priest
- High Priest
- Shaper Caste:
- Shaper Lord
- Master Shaper
- Shaper Adept
- Intendent Caste
- High Prefect
- At the very bottom is the Worker Caste, which consists of regular Workers, non-Yuuzhan Vong slaves, and Shamed Ones, who are the lowest of the low.
- Lin Carter's Thongor of Lemuria stories had the following military ranks:
- Otar: Commander of 100 men
- Daotar: Leader of 10 Otars (1,000 men)
- Daotarkon: Army commander and leader of 10,000 men
- The aliens of Animorphs. The Yeerks have Sub-Visser and Visser, both followed by number designations (Visser Three, Visser One, Sub-Visser 56) and the Andalites have Aristh (cadet),Prince, Prince Commander, War Prince and probably others.
- In the Star Trek Novel Verse:
- Cardassian ranks, from highest to lowest, are Legate (canonically established), Jagul, Gul (canonically established), Dal, Dalin, Glinn (canonically established), Gil, Garresh, Gorr. Used in Star Trek: Millennium, Terok Nor, the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Relaunch, and elsewhere.
- The Ferengi rank DaiMon (like a captain) was canonically established; Star Trek: The Lost Era established GuiMon as the next rank up (similar to an admiral).
- Breen ranks such as Thot (canonically established), Chot, Ghoc, etc, are attached to the front of a Breen's short-hand name, so that the Breen Deshinar Tibbonel, for instance, is known as "Chot Nar".
- Gorn ranks include the Ozuk, and Warrior Caste units are led by a First Myrmidon (see Star Trek: Typhon Pact).
- Kinshaya ranks include Vicar, Deacon and Bishop. Yes, they're Church Militant, alright.
- The Neyel, a human Lost Colony, have "Drech'tor" for captain and "Subdrech'tor" for commander, which have obviously evolved from the titles "director" and "sub-director", as well as "subaltern", an archaic British term for any commissioned rank below captain.
- In Beyond the Dawn, the Russian Tolkien-derivative novel by Olga Chigirinskaya, Morgoth's army has military ranks, in Ah'enn (a Con Lang of Angband's followers by Natalia Vassilieva):
- In the Dragonriders of Pern novels, the ranks of dragonrider are Weyrleader, Wingleader, Wingsecond, Rider, and Weyrling, roughly equivilent to Air Marshall, Group Captain or Squadron Leader, Flight Lieutenant, Flying Officer and Cadet. One oddity, however, is that the Weyrleader's Wingsecond is shown to effectively outrank Wingleaders, despite a technically lower rank and inferior dragon type.
- The Ankh-Morpork City Watch in the Discworld novels mostly uses real ranks (although not necessarily real police ranks). One oddity, however, is the very junior rank of "Lance-Constable".
- In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe, known ranks of the Guild of Adjudicators (Space Police with religous undertones) are Squire, Adjudicator, Adjudicator Secular, Adjudicator Spiritual, Provost-General, Adjudicator In Extremis, and Pontifex Saecularis.
- Sardaukar military ranks in Frank Herbert's Dune universe.
- Levenbrech: Roughly in between a sergeant and a lieutenant.
- Noukkers: Officers of the Imperial bodyguard who are related to the Emperor by blood.
- Bashar (often Colonel Bashar): An officer a fractional point above Colonel in the standardized military classification. Rank created for military ruler of a planetary subdistrict. (Bashar of the Corps is a title reserved strictly for military use.)
- Caid: Officer rank given to a military official whose duties call mostly for dealings with civilians; a military governorship over a full planetary district; above the rank of Bashar but not equal to a Burseg.
- Burseg: Commanding general.
- The prequel novels establish other ranking systems used prior to that one. The original League of Nobles titles in the Armada were Supreme Commander (Field Marshal), Primero (General/Governor), Segundo (Colonel), Tercero (Lieutenant Colonel), Cuarto (Lieutenant), Quinto (Sergeant), and Sexto (Corporal). Presumably, other titles to fill in the gaps also existed, but the books never mentioned them. During the Butlerian Jihad, a system similar to the one used by the Sardaukar was estalished. Key differences included the title of Supreme Bashar (Field Marshal), the rank of Bashar being the equivalent of a General, Burseg being a Colonel-equivalent, and the addition of the rank of Bator (Lieutenant Colonel). The rank of Immenbrech is also mentioned as being used during and after the Jihad and is a rough equivalent to a Sergeant.
- The Draka have more or less the same ranks as a regular military, but all ranks have names taken from Ancient Grome. Thus in the first novel, Eric is a Centurion, his father is a Strategos and his father's superior is the Dominarch. (Full list of ranks here. Centurion's roughly equivalent to Captain, Strategos is General, and Dominarch is Chief of Staff.)
- The Canim of the Codex Alera have one of these. Three ranks in their warrior caste are defined in the books: huntmaster (equivalent to sergeant), battlemaster (equivalent to general) and warmaster (outranks battlemaster, essentially general + feudal lord). The ritualist caste also has a rank system, but little of it is revealed other than that senior ritualists are addressed with the honorific "master" and hold a great deal of influence both in their own caste and in Canim society as a whole.
- The 9-foot-tall Human Aliens on Valennia in The Lost Regiment continuously circumnavigate the world. Each horde is divided into clans. A clan chief is called a Qarth. The leader of the entire horde is called a Qar Qarth (sort of like King of Kings). His heir apparent is called a Zan Qarth. The Tugar horde has a title called a Sword Master, which refers to the highest-ranking general, and the Qar Qarth's second-in-command. The Merki horde has a similar title called a Shield Bearer, although Shield Bearers combine general duties with that of bodyguards. At least two Shield Bearers are mentioned: one to the Qar Qarth and one to the Zan Qarth. A Shield Bearer's primary duty is to the horde, so one of his responsibilities is to kill his charge (with honor, if possible) if this will benefit the horde.
Live Action TV
- In Star Trek, several races have non-standard ranks for ship captains.
- Romulan ships are typically commanded by "Commanders" or "Sub-Commanders" ("Commander" may be a higher rank in the Romulan military than in Real Life). Furthermore, in Star Trek: The Original Series, they used "Centurion" as a non-commissioned officer rank.
- Cardassians captains are called "Guls" which may act as governors as well, "Glinns", which often act as first officers, and "Legates" which are basically the admirality.
- Ferengi captains are called "DaiMons".
- Xepolite "Hetman".
- It was a Real Life rank in Poland (second only to the monarch) and among the Cossacks (supreme commander).
- The Jem'Hadar make things simple. The commander of a unit is called the First. His second in command is the Second, below him is the Third, and so on.
- In Stargate, the Goa'uld have the rank of First Prime, which is comparable to a Real Life Field Marshal.
- In Babylon 5, Minbari ranks include Alyt and Shi Alyt. The second is higher than the first.
- In the Doctor Who story Inferno, the Republican Security Force of the Mirror Universe had ranks that were basically SS ranks translated into English - the Brigadier became the Brigade Leader, Sergeant Benton's counterpart was Platoon Under Leader Benton, and Liz Shaw (a civilian scientist in the Whoniverse) had the Captain-equivilent rank of Section Leader.
- Red Dwarf's rank structure has never been quite clear, but Dave Lister's rank of Technician Third Class is the lowest rank with Rimmer only barely outranking him (and clearly outranked by everyone else). While a couple of different specializations of Sergeant and a few officer ranks have been established, the full rank structure has never been declared. That said, this is a universe where the cooks are officers.
- Battlestar Galactica (Classic) has a fairly straightforward system using familiar sounding ranks. A Commander commands a Battlestar. Immediately beneath him is a Colonel. A Captain leads the Viper wing, and leads a squadron, and has a Lieutenant as a wingman. Other Lieutenants command two-Viper elements, and have a Flight Sergeant wingman. There are also Flight Corporals. Weirdly, Lieutenant Zac dies to evoke pathos in the first episode, on his very first Viper patrol. Nepotism? He is Commander Adama's son, after all.
- In Warhammer 40,000, the Imperial Guard have several additional ranks, such as "Lord General Militant" and "Colonel-Commissar". The latter denotes that the character is both a regiment's commissar and its commanding officer, which is extremely rare but not unheard-of.
- Also from Warhammer 40,000, the Tau's very extensive and complicated caste and rank system. Click Here for more info.
- Warhammer 40,000's Space Marines get a lot of mileage from adding "Brother" in front of ranks (Brother-Sergeant, Brother-Captain) though it's not clear whether or not it's reserved for the Grey Knights, along with the ubiquitous "Battle-Brother".
- Various Chapters have variation on this as well: the Space Wolves replace Scouts with Blood Claws, Devastators with Long Fangs, Librarians with Rune Priests...
- Dark Eldar have the ranks of Warrior, Sybarite, Dracon and Archon for the Kabalites, and Wytch, Hekatrix, Syren and Succubus for the Wytch Cults.
- Task Force Game's Starfire.
- Nexus magazine #8 and #12 had articles on the militaries of the Khanate of Orion and Protectorate of Rigel, including their rank structure.
- Nexus magazine #11 had some information about the rank system of the Tangri Confederacy. Most ranks were a description of the holder's duty post, such as "Commander of Orbital Base 10". Some were more general, such as "horrax" (commander of a Tangri horde's military forces), "anak" (ruler of a Tangri horde) and "arn-hahorrax", the overall commander of the CFC (Confederation Fleet Command).
- Dungeons & Dragons
- Basic D&D supplement Gazetteer 12 The Golden Khan of Ethengar. The military of Ethengar has these positions:
- Akan - Leads an argam of 10 men
- Dakan - Leads a dagam of 100 men
- Orkhan - Leads a mingam of 1,000 men
- Orkhan of the Golden Hordes - Commands the tribal hordes as a whole in the Golden Khan's absence
- Forgotten Realms
- Cormyrean "Purple Dragons" (standing army) has their own system.
- The 2nd Edition Forgotten Realms Adventures supplement had the following information for the city of Mulmaster.
Bladesman = ordinary soldier.
Quicksword = commands ten Bladesmen
Captain = commands 6 Quickswords
Strikewhip = battle messengers, aides-de-camp and bodyguards
Battlemaster = general
- In Traveller Vilani noble titles don't translate on a one to one basis with Terran but there is a rough adaptation and many nobles of Vilani heritage prefer the Vilani rendering to the Terran. Vilani titles come from the days of the old First Imperium:
- Kiduunuuzil = Knight or Baronet. These are low level bureaucratic flunkeys and military officers.
- Lishakku = baron, supervisor, etc. Local planetary governor. Translated as Baron in Third Imperium.
- Shakkanakhu = satrap. provincial governor, etc. Generally translated count in Third Imperium
- Sarriiu = Perhaps "High satrap." governs several provinces. No equiv in Third Imperium but generally translated count or marquis.
- Saarpuhii = Vizier or Duke. Translated Duke in Third Imperium
- Apkallu Kibrat Arbat = Viceroy or equiv. Translated Archduke in Third Imperium
- Ishimkarun = Emperor. It will be noted that the Vilani "Emperor" might be better translated as "Chairman of the Zira Sirka" as his main duties was as head of the ruling council rather then as a holder of personal authority.
- One quirk is that Vilani titles were administrative rather then beginning military and becoming honorary, in the manner of the European-Terran noble system imitated in the time of the Third Imperium. The rank system represents the bureaucratic status of the holder. Another point is that instead of primogeniture, titles were inherited by the third child. Because of this, while there were powerful dynasties in the First Imperium, the specific titles they held often shifted. The Third Imperium used a combination of the two systems; titles are usually Terran though the duties of the highest nobles in the Third Imperium are more like that of governors then like that of princes, just as in the First Imperium.
- The Babylon 5 tie-in games flesh out the rank systems for most of the races in that universe, including some of the relatively minor players. Some of this work is rather in-depth.
- In BattleTech, the Clans have their own unique rank system. This was done by Nicholas Kerensky as part of program to unite the former SLDF, by eliminating the cultural divisions that tore them apart:
- Warrior: Technically, any individual who pass training. Those warriors without a rank are equivalent to Privates.
- Point Commander: Leads a Point, the smallest Clan unit. A Point's composition varies, it can be 1 BattleMech, 2 tanks or aerospace fighters, 5 Elemental battlearmors, or 25 regular infantry.
- Point 1-5: In larger Points (such as infantry or ship crews), veteran Warriors are designated Point 1 through 5. These are equivalent to NCOs.
- Star Commander: Commands a Star, a unit consisting of 5 Points. Can also command a Nova, a combined arms unit of a Elemental Star and a OmniMech Star.
- Star Captain: Commands a Binary (a unit that has two Stars), Supernova (2 Novas), or a Trinary (3 Stars or Novas).
- Star Colonel: Commands a Cluster, a unit consisting 4-5 Binaries, Trinaries, Supernovas, or Supernova Trinaries.
- Galaxy Commander: Commands a Galaxy, a unit consisting of 3-5 Clusters.
- saKhan: Second in command of the Clan.
- Khan: Leader of the Clan and its entire military forces.
- ilKhan: Khan of Khans, a rank given during times of crisis and when the Clans are united.
- In Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time, Alister Azimuth is a "Four Bolt Magistrate".
- In Halo, the Covenant have a completely different rank system, with different ranks existing for different races.
- The Qunari from Dragon Age. The ranks go, from highest to lowest:
Outside the ranking system:
- Saarebas (Mage Qunari)
- StarCraft: The Protoss have a different rank structure, though only three ranks are ever mentioned in the original game.
- Praetor: probably close to an Army Captain, Fenix held this rank
- Executor: probably close to a Brigadier (1-star) General, Tassadar held this rank
- Judicator: member of the governing caste, Aldaris was one of them
- The Elder Scrolls series has a set of ranks for each faction. The ranks for Imperial Legion and House Redoran in Morrowind are explicitly military, and they are nothing like real-world, medieval or not. The Redoran ranks are, in fact, Dunmer titles of nobility, and they are also fantastic.
- Guild Wars: The tables of ranks of the Sunspears and the Order of Whispers in the Nightfall campaign.
- According to the Codex, the human Systems Alliance in the Mass Effect series uses following rank ladder for all its service branches (ranks in brackets are the Space Marine equivalents, who are special):
- Serviceman 3rd Class (Private 2nd Class) — corresponds to the NATO OR-1/2
- Serviceman 2nd Class (Private 1st Class) — OR-3
- Serviceman 1st Class (Corporal) — OR-4: Richard L. Jenkins was this
- Service Chief — OR-5
- Gunnery Chief — OR-6/7: Ashley Williams is this in the first game.
- Operations Chief — OR-8/9
- 2nd/1st Lieutenant — OF-1
- Staff Lieutenant — OF-2: Kaidan Alenko in ME1
- Lieutenant Commander — OF-3: Commander Shepard throughout the trilogy, Ashley in ME3
- Staff Commander — OF-4
- Captain (Major) — OF-5: David Anderson, Kaidan in ME3
- Rear Admiral (General) — OF-6/7
- Admiral — OF-8/9: Steven Hackett
- Fleet Admiral — OF-10
- Each House in the Auroran Empire in EV Nova has as its highest-ranked warriors a thurokiir and mundokiir. The mundokiir, meaning "heart of crushed garnet, the eye of fury," is equivalent to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs in stature. Meanwhile the thurokiir, meaning "obsidian heart, arbiter of reckoning," is responsible for maintaining the House's honor. In the words of Eamon Flannigan:
"He is the black-hearted winner of rough justice, the darker side of simple morality, for as any student of life must know, it is violence that is the leveler; be it physical violence, political force, or the force of justice."
- The iOS game Ravenmark Scourge Of Estellion includes both this trope and Fantastic Honorifics, although a few ranks are borrowed from the Romans. The Empire of Estellion's army is called the Imperial Mark. All soldiers start in the Earthbound Corps (i.e. NCOs), with the "Earthbound" being the rank of a common soldier. A Militum is in command of a Dagger (small unit). A Signum is a staff-level Earthbound and has the authority to operate without Ravenborne (officer) supervision. The Ravenhood is the officer corps composed of Ravenborne graduates on their track to nobility. A Decurion can command Dagger-level operations such as scouting or raiding. A Centurion is a mid-level officer in command of an infantry Trine (three Daggers in formation) or a cavalry Deuce (two Daggers in formation). A Magister is a support rank given to caster-type officers, which sits lower on the hierarchy than a Centurion. A Legate commands a Mark (a medium-sized force). A Rook is in charge of 5 Marks (AKA a Bannermark), and is also a Fantastic Honorific equivalent to a Lord. The Altus Rook is in command of all the Bannermarks in the Empire answerable only to The Emperor. Given that Estellion is a meritocracy (specifically created by the first Emperor in order to avoid the pitfalls of the overthrown Carsis feudalism), any commoner has the option of attaining a noble rank through the practice of Ravenhood, which requires a term of service in the Mark of no less than 22 years (or 36 as an administrator). Once one has achieved Ravenhood, the title holds for 2 generations before it must be earned again. If a family has managed to hold the title for 10 unbroken generations (very rare), it becomes a noble House. The eleventh generation's firstborn inherits the title and becomes a Rook.
- In PlanetSide 2, the Terran Republic uses relatively normal ranks (plus the Commissar). The New Conglomerate use no standard ranks - Guerilla, Maverick, Executors, et cetera. The Vanu Sovereignty primarily uses Ancient Rome ranks such as "Legate", peppered with a few made-up ranks like "Paragon"
- In BIBLE, the warrior angels have a fairly simple rank structure:
- Soldier (ordinary grunt)
- Elite soldier (soldiers proven on the battlefield, act as commandos or unofficial sergeants)
- Lieutenant (commands a platoon of ~50 solders and elites)
- General (highest combat rank, commands all platoons comprising a particular mission)
- Seraph (semi-retired warriors, act as gatekeepers to Heaven and headquarters command staff)
- In Terra the United Earth Coalition military uses a simplified version of the one used by most Earth militaries in real life, with enlisted Mobile Infantry and Navy using the same names and officers using different ones. The Asurian Empire uses one that is vaguely Roman-inspired but pretty much made from scratch.
- Transformers Animated introduced a few of these.
- Prime (Captain?)
- Magnus (Autobot Commander)
- Minor (Below Major, Lieutenant?)
- Major (Above Minor, Lieutenant Commander?)
- The British Army in India raised several Indian regiments. While the ranks roughly translate to the British equivalent, you had wonderful sounding names (and were officially designated as such) such as:
- Sepoy/Sowar (Private/Trooper)
- Naik (Corporal)
- Havildar/Daffadar (Sergeant)
- Subedar/Risaldar (Warrant Officer)
You'll note that there weren't any "native" ranks after that, mainly because the British Army would never let natives run their own armies...
- The most unique thing about the Indian Army was the class of VC Os(Viceroy's Commissioned Officers). That was a fancy way of saying "native officer". They were not quite non-coms and not quite officers and existed as a sort of liason between the Englishmen and the Asians. The class exists today in the Indian and Pakistani armies as Junior Commissioned Officers as of course there is no more Viceroy.
- The SS made up its own ranks rather than using the traditional ranks (or even the rank insignias) of the German military. Nearly every rank translates into a type of leader, such as "Group Leader," "Brigade Leader," and "Assault Unit Leader."