"Look! There is Jackson standing like a stone wall. Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer. Rally behind the Virginians!"A flag-ranked officer — though not necessarily a Four-Star Badass — who spends more time leading his men at the frontline battlefields like a junior/field officer does than sitting in the war room and working on theater-level strategic plans. Depending on the setting or the branch of the military, this can be easily justified; a fleet of ships, or even a single larger ship such as a modern Supercarrier, will often be commanded by a Rear Admiral or higher. Pre-Radio Age armies would also be often directly commanded by generals on the field, too, to the point where it was almost common for generals to be killed in battle. In a modern land army, however, such a thing would be very unusual (excepting an officer taking a very short visit to scope out the terrain while planning a major offensive), and typically would only happen if the country gets invaded by complete surprise, and/or the enemy gets very deep very fast. While seen as highly heroic, there are significant drawbacks to this, especially in modern settings. Battles hinge on minute-by-minute decision making and updates must be frequently provided to the general staff. If the general is on the front, he'll be moving around a lot and it will be more difficult to apprise him of the situation, not to mention him giving updated orders for those lower in the chain-of-command. In the long run, the Confederacy during the The American Civil War lost many good generals this way. Contrast Armchair Military (a.k.a. "Chairborne Ranger" in US Army and Marine Corps lingo). See Outranking Your Job when this is taken too far. May overlap with Royals Who Actually Do Something in historical settings. Doing this increases the chance of a Keystone Army by a lot, and makes you an easier target if they want to go right after you. A Decapitated Army may result if the general dies.
— General Barnard Bee at the First Battle of Manassas during The American Civil War
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- In Code Geass, this sums up Lelouch's view of how a leader should act. "If the general does not lead, how can he expect his subordinates to follow?" "The only ones who should kill are those prepared to be killed!" He is often seen taking an active part in the military operations he commands, though he's usually smart enough to recognize his limits and not attempt something he cannot do.
- Commander Andrew Waltfeld of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED likes to lead his men from the front, and is happy to jump into his own mobile suit in order to square off against The Hero. This is to be expected, given that he's at least partly based on Erwin Rommel (see Real Life below).
- Char Aznable, at least in Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack, takes to the front lines personally in most of the battles. Not out of any sense of loyalty or duty to his men, but simply because he's obsessed with defeating Amuro Ray personally. He does have the presence of mind to put his confidante/lover, Nanai Miguel, in overall battlefield command while he's out piloting, meaning the army is not completely without direction in his absence.
- In Naruto the generals of the Allied Shinobi forces (Gaara, Kakashi, Darui, Akatsuchi) are this, as they join their forces directly on the battlefield. Understandable, given that those four were chosen for their battle prowess as well as their leadership ability. Arguably the Kages also count—though in their case the term Frontline President might be more accurate.
- Justified in Legend of Galactic Heroes: electromagnetic interference during battle makes communications difficult, so the admirals of both sides have to come close to the line of fire. As the firepower thrown around in the setting is high enough to cause heavy damage with every successful hit, they do so with larger and better armed and armoured dedicated flagships, and tend to stay as far from the enemy as they can afford.
- A Crown of Stars: Asuka and Shinji are the leaders of the Avalon forces deployed in their timeline. They and the other commanding officers -Misato, Ching, Bir...- take part in all battles, always taking point. Justified, since they are a relatively small force -due to be cut off-, and Shinji and Asuka pilot one of their few Humongous Mechas... although Asuka would surely fight in the frontlines anyway, since she is a soldier and a warrior first of all.
- HERZ: Even after being promoted to Captain Asuka still sorties with her troops and leads from the frontlines.
- Bait and Switch (STO):
- Peace Forged in Fire has Romulan Republic High Admiral D'trel and Subadmiralnote Morgaiah t'Thavrau, as well as Romulan Imperial Praetor Velal (a retired general), in the thick of the fighting against the Tal'Shiar. Justified because the Tal'Shiar attacked a peace summit where the three were lead negotiators for their respective sides.
- Beat the Drums of War features a number of admirals and generals leading fleets in the field, two of whom die: Starfleet Admiral Yarlin Dao is killed in action when his flagship is destroyed by the Heralds, while Rear Admiral Zandra Taitt dies in a Heroic Sacrifice to foil a Herald attack on the Sol System before it can even start.
- Queen of Shadows: When the Shadowkhan resume their conquest of Kyushu, several of the Generals are sent to oversee it, with Ikazuki being given overall command as Warlord, a position from which he in face leads from the front, hoping to find worthy adversaries. Thing is, Jade is actively trying to invoke the downsides of this trope by appointing him to the position, hoping that it'll get him killed and deal a blow to the Shadowkhan.
- Later, when the Shadowkhan launch a strike on Awaji Island as retaliation on the forces of Tobe for infiltrating their lands and almost killing Jade, she orders General Tsume to handle the attack personally. Again, she's hoping that the negative aspects of the trope will come into play, as she's expecting a Darkest Hour turn around by the local heroes after the fall of Kyushu, and that they'll defeat whatever General shows up.
- The Westerosi armies in Wearing Robert's Crown, being of largely medieval customs, are led by lords who fight on the frontlines, right the way up to King Robert Baratheon.
- In Wonderful, Taylor fights together with her troops.
Fight alongside me, because I will NOT ask you to do this without putting myself in the line of fire.
- Prevalent in Star Wars:
- The Jedi in all Clone Wars-related media, such as Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, and the animated series Clone Wars and The Clone Wars. They are all automatically generals, and prefer to command from the frontlines. Probably because they don't fear enemy blaster fire. Pong Krell from The Clone Wars is an exception, preferring to stay in the back. But he has a good reason to do that. He's killing as many clones as possible and using Hollywood Tactics before he officially betrays the Republic. Once the clones realize this and try to have him arrested, he slaughters them by the dozens to prove he would have had no problem standing at the front if he chose to.
- On the flip side, General Grievous was often on the front line during the Clone Wars. Granted, he was also perfectly willing to bail if the situation turned against him and often had an honor guard to watch his back.
- He is also present at an extreme example: During the battle over Coruscant in Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine (though the heroes were under the impression he was kidnapped and a hostage), Dooku, and Grievous are all on one ship, right in the middle of the battle.
- In A New Hope, Darth Vader takes to space with his TIE Advanced to defend the Death Star.
- In The Empire Strikes Back the Empire's General Maximilian Veers not only prepares his troops for the Hoth surface attack, he's aboard the lead AT-AT that fires the shots which destroy the Alliance's power generators. He paid a price though: in the novelization Hobbie Klivian (Rogue Two) crashed his damaged snowspeeder into Veers' cockpit a couple minutes later. Veers survived but both his legs had to be amputated. His Rebel counterpart Carlist Rieekan was more cautious, commanding from an Echo Base bunker rather than the front lines.
- By the time of the Battle of Endor both Lando Calrissian and Han Solo were Generals. These men blew up the second Death Star and personally led the ground assault on its shield generator respectively. Admiral Ackbar also commanded from the front, leading to his legendary line "It's a trap!" In addition, Admiral Piett leads the Imperial Fleet from the Executor, though he is handicapped by the Emperor's shortsighted orders.
- Patton. The title general is portrayed this way several times. During the battle with the 10th Panzer he's on the front lines giving tactical orders. During the invasion of Sicily he's shown scouting out a ford across a river while under enemy artillery fire. On several other occasions he's depicted driving around in battle areas.
- In Gettysburg, Lee warns General Longstreet against his habit of going too far forward, as he's already lost a number of his generals (particularly Stonewall) to this trope and he feels he cannot spare Longstreet.
- In Captain America: The First Avenger, Colonel Phillips fits this trope and even gets involved in the fighting at the end, helping to infiltrate a HYDRA base and shooting down a few enemies.
- A civilian variant in Jurassic World. Simon Masrani, the billionaire who built and owns the now fully functional dinosaur park after his friend John Hammond's death, realizes that the Indominus Rex needs to be killed after the super-violent, highly intelligent, genetically engineered monster of a dinosaur kills nearly all members of a security team sent to recapture it. They decide to kill it from the air with a helicopter mounted chaingun. Since all the pilots are either off-island or trapped in lock down during the incident, Masrani volunteers himself to fly the chopper himself despite not quite earning his pilot license yet (he had two more days). While flying towards the I. Rex, he finds out at least one of his crewmen is ex-military and an Afghanistgan veteran. He even asks if his general ever flew into combat with him.
- Most of the Allied generals in A Bridge Too Far, especially the Americans Maxwell Taylor and James Gavin, who jump into battle with their respective airborne divisions. SS-General Wilhelm Bittrich is this as well.
- It was pretty clear right from Star Trek: The Motion Picture that Admiral Kirk really, really wants to be this trope (that is, he wants to be out in the field, and since he's ended up at flag rank now...). He gets his wish in that film (abusing his personal connections to get himself temporarily put in command of Enterprise for the crisis), but it's not a lasting thing — fortunately, circumstances conspire to move him out of a desire for this trope and back to the trope where he belongs by the end of the fourth film.
- In Star Trek: First Contact, Admiral Hayes leads the Federation fleet against the Borg, though his ship is destroyed just before the Enterprise arrives. (Star Trek: Voyager confirms that he survived.)
- President Whitmore leads the charge in the final battle of Independence Day. Justified, as he's one of the few people around who can fly a plane, and one of the even fewer pilots with combat experience, and if they lose, he won't have a country to lead anyway.
- Cohaagen in the 2012 remake of Total Recall becomes this, the sort of Big Bad who still has henchmen and a souped-up robotic bodyguard, but also has a flak jacket and prefers to execute his enemies personally rather than delegate it to an underling. And while both versions confront Quaid in the end, in the original version it was because Quaid had killed any Mooks who could get between them.
- M in the James Bond series:
- While still a fair ways from the action, Bernard Lee often set up a field office not too far from where Bond was working, particularly in You Only Live Twice and Moonraker.
- Judi Dench was captured in The World Is Not Enough and partook in the final battle of Skyfall.
- Ralph Fiennes gets very involved in the final shootout in Spectre.
- Immortan Joe from Mad Max: Fury Road is an utterly despicable Evil Overlord who keeps harems of women as Sex Slaves and brainwashes hordes of young men to be willing to kill themselves for him if necessary, but his vehicle is often shown near or at the front of the fleet throughout the chase.
- DC Extended Universe:
- Discussed in Wonder Woman (2017); Diana has greater respect for generals who lead from the front, and is appalled by Armchair Military like Field Marshal Haig who are more than eager to sacrifice men from the safety of their London penthouses. This is built from memories of her aunt Antiope, who lead the Amazons against intruding Germans who were pursuing Steve Trevor and died taking a bullet for Diana.
- Justice League (2017): Steppenwolf personally leads two separate invasions of Earth, once in the distant past and again in the present. His infantry consists primarily of parademons, which would easily overwhelm a normal army but are handled by both the various gods of mythology in the past and the Justice League in the present. What makes the invasions almost succeed is the fact that Steppenwolf is an accomplished warrior himself.
- Star Wars Expanded Universe:
- After Wedge Antilles is promoted to general in X-Wing: Isard's Revenge, he still leads Rogue Squadron in the field for at least the remainder of the book. In later conflicts (among them Kueller's uprising and the Yuuzhan Vong War) he continues to put himself directly in harm's way, though not necessarily from a starfighter cockpit.
- The prequels weren't the first time the Jedi were Frontline Generals. During the Sith Wars of 4,000 and 1,000 BBY (seen in the Tales of the Jedi comics and Darth Bane series among others), the Jedi frequently led the Republic military against Sith forces.
- Very frequent in Tolkien's Legendarium:
- In The Lord of the Rings, virtually anyone equivalent to a general (Éomer, Théoden, and eventually Aragorn) is only too glad to be right in the thick of it with their men.
- In The Silmarillion: In the First Age, if you are a king, lord or high-ranking officer, you are liable to be leading the charge against the enemy (Thingol, Finrod, Finarfin in the Final Battle...)... and often getting killed in action (Fëanor, Fingolfin, Fingon, Huor...) or getting captured and suffering a Fate Worse Than Death (Maedhros tortured and chained to the side of a ravine, Hurin forced to watch as his family's lives went to Hell...)
- The Children of Húrin, starts when the remainder forces of good in Middle-Earth unite to attempt to destroy Morgoth once for all... and get utterly crushed. Their kings and lords were leading them, and most of them got killed in battle (Fingon, Azaghal, Huor...). Hurin and Huor particularly made a Last Stand with their whole army to protect the retreat of the forces of Gondolin -led by their king Turgon- and Hurin was the only survivor -to his regret-.
- The same applies in The Hobbit where Thranduil the Elvenking, Bard the Bowman, and the whole Line of Durin lead their troops into battle. It ends badly for the latter, all of whom are killed in either the Battle of Azanulbizar (Thrór, Thráin, Frerin) or the Battle of the Five Armies (Thorin, Fíli, Kíli). Dáin Ironfoot is the only Durin dwarf to survive... until he's killed about 80 years later protecting King Brand during the War of the Ring.
- Since J. R. R. Tolkien himself fought in World War I, it's likely that he was very aware of the danger that high-ranking officers were exposed to when leading a charge, be it in modern or fantastical warfare.
- A Song of Ice and Fire. Those commanding armies often take to the field with their men, given that Westeros is a medieval fantasy society where individual fighting prowess is equated with generalship. The extent to which this is true varies — Jaime Lannister is Lured into a Trap because his enemies know he's a Blood Knight who always leads from the front. Bored with the siege of Riverrun, Jaime hears of an attack by raiders on his supply line and leads a small force off to attack them, only to be ambushed by Robb Stark's army. King Robb also leads from the front to inspire his men but is more cautious about it, keeping a strong bodyguard and not taking unnecessary risks. Jaime's father, the coldly pragmatic Lord Tywin, leads from the rear where he can control the battlefield and judge the right moment to throw in his own efforts.
- Played with in The Wheel of Time, where it's repeatedly stated that this is a bad idea, because the general makes of himself a target and if he's killed, his command is going to collapse. However, by dint of bad luck Mat keeps finding himself in the midst of the enemy force, especially if he was trying to lead his army in a retreat at the time (though, thanks to good luck, he then turns those debacles into crushing victories), and other generals have had times when they stay in or near the front lines because of a need to keep communication lines short or just because they just need every man they have.
- Belisarius in Belisarius Series is this and often has to be urged by his subordinates to risk himself less often. The Persian emperor even makes his bodyguards at promise to arrest him if he risks himself because the Persians need a Roman general they can trust to carry out a politically delicate strategy that might threaten the alliance between the two empires, who had only recently put to rest centuries of intermittent warfare between them.
- Dalinar and Adolin Kholin in The Stormlight Archive are Shardbearers, which means that each of them is worth about a thousand regular soldiers. Therefore, leading from the front becomes the tactically sound option.
- In Outlander Leander, unusual circumstances have led Nagdecht to have two generals. General Glaive is the new, younger general, and is shown getting personally involved in missions with his private unit. When asked where General Oske is, however, General Glaive states, "At the castle, where he always is", suggesting Oske is an Armchair General.
- Justified in Starship Troopers. "Everyone drops," from grunts on up to the sky marshal who commands the entire Terran military. Taken to the logical conclusion when the sky marshal dies fighting a rearguard action.
- Also, the officers drop first. When a cap trooper hits the ground, he knows that there will be an officer there to lead him.
- In Joe Abercrombie's The Heroes General Jalenhorm is painfully aware of the fact that he got his command solely due to his friendship with the king, and tries to make up for it with personal bravery. He dies leading his division in a suicidal assault on The Children, viewing it as redeeming himself for earlier tactical mistakes.
- Stargate SG-1:
- General Hammond was more inclined to lead from the rear, but he wasn't above going into the field on occasion, most notably in "Into the Fire" where he rode second seat in a modified Death Glider to provide air support to the rescue of his troops. He also personally commanded the Prometheus during Anubis' assault on Earth, giving SG-1 time to activate Ancient chair weapon.
- After O'Neill replaced Hammond for season 8, he likewise mostly stayed in the boardroom until his ATA gene was required to fly a puddle jumper in "It's Good to Be King". He took out a Goa'uld mothership with it.
- Star Trek: A rarity for Starfleet. The majority of admirals have been far from the pointy end for too long. Nevertheless, a number do come to the defense of the Federation in combat.
- In TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds, Part 2" Admiral J.P. Hanson leads the Federation home fleet against the Borg at Wolf 359, and is killed in action along with most of the fleet.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
- General Martok, although justified in that Klingons are a Proud Warrior Race and thus they value the glory of battle. During the Dominion War, he maintains his flag on a Bird-of-Prey instead of one of the larger battlecruisers. Late in the Dominion War, Chancellor Gowron took a more personal interest in battle strategy, however as a career politician he was more interested in usurping Martok's glory and made a lot of tactical mistakes. Worf challenges Gowron for such petty behavior, and ends up killing him in combat. While he was offered the position of Chancellor, he passed that on to Martok. Afterwards, Martok took the Negh'Var as his flagship, but still got into the thick of the fighting wherever possible.
- Captain Sisko and Admiral Ross also lead from the front in numerous battles. Sisko, notably, took command of a ground troop in "The Siege of AR-558" despite being a starship captain (Starfleet being a monolithic uniformed service rather than a collection of separate branches), and was quite effective in holding off everything thrown his way despite being cut off from reinforcements or supplies.
- Game of Thrones:
- In the Battle of Blackwater, Tyrion Lannister approves the normally inept King Joffrey's decision to join the troops on the city walls as "soldiers fight better for a king who's not hiding behind his mother's skirts". Of course Tyrion is the one actually running the battle, so this works well until the Queen Regent, worried about her son's safety, orders him brought back to the Red Keep. Joffrey (who likes giving a Badass Boast but is actually a Dirty Coward) fails to stand up to his mother. When his soldiers see the King leaving, they start to falter as well. Tyrion (who as an entirely pragmatic dwarf is the least likely person to go into battle) has to lead the sally himself in order to shame them into following him. Opposing him is Stannis Baratheon, who also inspires his men by being the first into the landing boats after wildfire destroys half their fleet, and the first up the ladder on the city walls. Note that in the novels this is actually a trait of his Blood Knight brother Robert Baratheon (Stannis is a more cold-blooded, pragmatic leader who commands from the rear) but is changed for Rule of Drama. Later, Tywin Lannister and Loras Tyrell lead the cavalry charge that wins the Battle of Blackwater.
- Robert Baratheon won his throne by slaying his counterpart (and second cousin) Rhaegar Targaryen in battle.
- Khal Drogo's only claim to leadership is his ability to be this.
- Robb and Jaime both lead their men into battle. Jaime is a bold field commander with the spirit and élan of a rank soldier. It's clear he revels in the front line aspects rather than in the generalship per-se, putting himself In Harm's Way without a second thought. This allows Robb to capture Jaime by surprising him in the Whispering Wood.
- Lord Commander Mormont flat-out refuses to sit meekly at Castle Black and takes command of the great ranging beyond the Wall.
- During the Battle of Castle Black, Alliser Thorne and Jon Snow do this for the Night's Watch while Styr and Tormund do it for the wildlings. When tasked with defending the inner gate, Grenn is also front and center among his men.
- House Umber's Lords personally lead their men in combat.
- Unlike Ramsay or Harrald, Smalljon Umber dies in the thick of battle.
- Lyanna Mormont accompanies her men to Jon Snow's camp, putting herself at considerable risk. She also is part of the parley on Jon's side before the battle.
- In the Babylon 5 episode "GROPOS" Dr. Franklin's father General Richard "Old Firestorm" Franklin hits the dirt with his men in the EarthForce assault on the fortress of Matok. He comes out without a scratch.
- In Doctor Who, The Brigadier frequently leads his men in battles against this week's alien menace.
- An actual game mechanic in Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000: the minimum to play is two units of troops and a general / HQ unit. Depending on their stats, you either keep them the hell away from attack (see Tau Ethereals) or are horrifying death machines to be rushed into melee as soon as possible (orks, tyranids, most Chaos and Space Marines leaders). In the fluff, however, the less insane armies keep their high command well out of harm's way.
- Taken even further in Dawn of War: the Imperial Guard's general is their only melee unit until they get to the later tech tiers.
- Despite all attempts to be Only Sane Man of the setting, Tau often play this trope extremely straight in case of their Fire Caste commanders. They are issued custom made Super Prototype mecha suit and are expected to make full use of it. Its not too bad if commander in question loads it out with high range weaponry. It gets somewhat crazy in case of commander Shadowsun, the highest ranking military leader of the Tau Empire who has her suit customized with close range anti tank weapons. Or renegade commander Farsight whose main armament is a sword.
- In Stratego, the Field Marshal and the General are the two most powerful pieces on the board, and are often placed on the front lines for this reason. (Of course, it's dangerous for them to get too aggressive because of the risk of hitting a bomb.)
- Lots of people in BattleTech, since it's based on a Feudal Future, where are expected to ride into combat atop BattleMechs. Indeed, it is woven into the very theme of the universe. While the universe operates more or less on Grey and Grey Morality, the farther a character is from being a Frontline General, the more likely they are to be reviled. Leaders of overtly hostile nations that are willing to take the field are usually considered a Worthy Opponent. Whereas the true villains of the franchise tend to be those who either disdain combat altogether or who hide in bunkers while gleefully sending other soldiers off to die. The principle exception to this rule is Sun-Tzu Liao. Despite being a middling MechWarrior who's most notable combat action was ejecting from his 'Mech, he avoids this due to being sufficiently Crazy Awesome.
Among the Clans, this is practically enforced. You can't win honor by sending someone else to fight for you. And someone who isn't good a fighting won't even get a command, because Asskicking Equals Authority is in full-force for the Clans. Due to this, villainous clanners tend to be of the Blood Knight variety.
- GURPS sourcebook Mass Combat allows the commander of an army to take a frontline role. It is a high-risk/high-reward option, as while the presence of their commander on he front allows to see the situation in more detail and inspires the troops to do better, the commander is more vulnerable to misfortunes of war (random injuries sustained during battle).
- The various incarnations of the G.I. Joe franchise have Hawk, a general who spends much of his time leading the G.I. Joe forces out in field. His official bio even lampshades this by saying that "When Hawk takes you into a hairy situation, he's usually in front of you yelling 'Follow me!' "
- In BIONICLE, Sidorak, the King of the Visorak horde, was known to lead his troops on the front line. Unfortunately for him this part of what led to him being blind to the schemes of his second in command Roodaka. Interestingly enough, Sidorak intentionally invoked this trope in order to show how great a leader he was because deep down he felt he never truly earned the title of King since he took credit for coming up with the impressive accomplishment of a fellow Brotherhood servant to get it and always needed to show his ability...and said fellow servant just so happened to be Roodaka.
- Subverted in Modern Warfare 2, the first time we see General Shepherd, he's leading the Army Rangers in an assault over a bridge. He helps PFC Allen to get up and pretends to lead him at the field, only to back up and leave the field immediately, he's also responsible for sending Allen to an undercover mission to slaughter civilians in an airport, get him killed and provoke the Russians to declare war. The only two occasions where he can be seen commanding on field are when he betrays Task Force 141 and when he covers up the betrayal with the Shadow Company. "Rangers lead the way!", indeed.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, much like in other expanded universe material, Jedi led from the front in war.
- In the first game we learn before and after he became a Sith, the Jedi Revan would often lead from the front in the Mandalorian Wars, personally defeating Mandalore himself in battle (although he was not averse to sitting back and leading from the safety of the war room). This eventually caught up with him when a Jedi strike team managed to board his flagship during a battle and distract him from his apprentice Malak's treachery, who blasted the flagship's bridge to smithereens and took over as the Dark Lord of the Sith. Revan actually survived but lost his/her memory, becoming the Player Character.
- The protagonist of the sequel, The Sith Lords, was none other than a Jedi General exiled for going off to war against the Jedi Council's wishes. The Exile personally led many infamously brutal campaigns, and the game visits several locations from the Mandalorian Wars.
- Whoever is made monarch at the end of Dragon Age: Origins (Anora, Alistair, or the Warden) will personally lead the armies against the Darkspawn in the endgame.
- An Escort Mission in the flight sim Sabre Ace: Conflict Over Korea has you protecting General Douglas MacArthur's unarmed transport plane as he flies up to the front lines for a personal inspection. This is Truth in Television: MacArthur was personally reconnoitering the front lines a mere three days into the Korean War, often while his position was under heavy North Korean attack.
- Halo: High-ranking Sangheili/Elites and Jiralhanae/Brutes, going all the way up to Field Marshals and Chieftains, are often seen battling alongside their subordinates, which is kinda justified by the fact that both races promote their troops based largely on their personal kill-count and give them increasingly better equipment as they ascend the ranks. Human generals are more practical, however, and remain safely in bases or command warships instead.
- Metroid: Other M: Adam Malkovich is a General, and leads a group of five men in a special-ops mission. Sometimes he is away in a command room, other times he is personally fighting with them.
- In Radiant Historia, Field Marshall Viola spends nearly the entire game on the front lines. Although she's highly formidable in combat, many characters point out the absurdity of having such a high ranking officer in the thick of battle; she's only there because the de facto leader of the country, General Hugo, fears her popularity and wants to get rid of her.
- Words Worth: While Sharon and Ceasar are the Tribe of Shadow's top generals, it's Sharon who is acknowledged as their fiercest combatant, and spends much of the series in the thick of battle. Which is how she gains the attention of King Fabris, who also exemplifies the trope.
- The "general" support unit in Rise of Nations is best kept slightly back from the front as he can't actually fight, but he does need to be nearby to provide the bonuses to your troops.
- StarCraft likes this.
- General Edmund Duke in StarCraft I isn't just a frontline general, but fully capable of soloing the mission you get to use him in (assuming you prioritize targets correctly and are willing to patch him up frequently). Unfortunately his tendency to lead from the front eventually gets him killed in Brood War, and he's for the most part a General Failure due to his unfortunate tendency to be on the opposite side from the player character.
- Protoss Executors and Dark Templar Prelates also do this, as evidenced by Tassadar and Zeratul, both of whom appear as powerful hero units on the front lines of several levels apiece.
- General Horace Warfield in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty takes the field with his Marines and fully qualifies for Four-Star Badass, killing an entire zerg force by himself at one point and losing an arm in the process. This comes back to bite him in Starcraft II Heart Of The Swarm when the resurgent Zerg swarm retakes the planet and he dies leading a Last Stand.
- Fire Emblem:
- The Avatar in Fire Emblem Awakening can be a Frontline Tactician, depending on how much you use them. It's lampshaded in one of the DLC maps:
- It's also prudent to play the main 'Lord' type characters this way throughout the franchise as they typically gain access to the most powerful weapons and skills which are extremely useful, if not absolutely necessary, against the final few bosses.
- In-Universe, Hector, Ephraim, Ike and Micaiah are known to operate this way.
- It actually becomes a minor plot point at the end of Part 2 of Radiant Dawn. Over the objections of some of her Red Shirts, Queen Elincia personally commands her forces for the final battle against Duke Ludveck because she knows Ludveck is attempting to undermine her authority as queen and seize the throne for himself, and anything less than this trope would validate his claims.
- In Advance Wars Days Of Ruin, as a break from previous Advance Wars, the CO tend to take on a more frontline role, both in story and in game, where you can have them ride along a unit, generating a CO Zone buffing units in it, promoting the unit they tag along with to Veteran rank, and needing to have units in their zone kill enemies to charge up their CO Powers (Frontline being relative of course. Trak/Gage fares quite well in a Missile Launcher unit behind the main lines, while Zadia/Tasha needs to personally take part in the air assault to be effective. Trak/Gage is The Stoic Cold Sniper CO, while Zadia/Tasha is more Hot-Blooded.).
- A staple of the Total War games. Generals have a small unit of cavalry and they are able to inspire troops who are low on morale. However, their deaths are often enough to drive an army to rout.
- Empire introduces naval combat to the series. Admirals can be placed in command of flagships, whose destruction can shatter the confidence of a fleet.
- Every single Player Character in Star Trek Online, eventually. The top rank you get is Fleet Admiral (for Starfleet or Romulan Republic characters) or General/Dahar Masternote (Klingon Defense Force characters). This in no way alters the gameplay away from commanding a single starship flying around doing missions and getting into exciting business — it just opens a wider variety of missions (very few of which actually make more sense for an admiral over a captain, or even over junior enlisted personnel in many cases).
- Until the update of the Admiralty system, in which players of Admiral rank and higher were allowed to send their ships- all of them, even the one they're currently flying- on missions. A later update allowed shuttles to go on these missions, similar to the shows.
- Battlezone II: Combat Commander, as the name implies, has John Cooke leading their battalion from the front line in the cockpit of a Hover Tank - starting from the rank of Lieutenant, then receiving Field Promotions until he is promoted to Major after killing Major Manson if he sides with General Braddock. In the Scion campaign, General Braddock leads the Last Stand against the Scions, from the cockpit of an Attila LM.
- In Supreme Commander, Commanders - in their Armored Command Unit - are often shown stomping through regular tanks and mechs with impunity in cutscenes. In-game it's generally not a favored tactic except in dire emergencies due to the ACU being relatively weak to begin with, and losing it ending the game, but ACUs can be upgraded with some hefty firepower to make them almost equal to Experimental units in terms of firepower.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic: Darth Malgus, rather than engage in the subterfuge and intrigue of the Dark Council, preferred to lead troops into battle. Although a lot of that was probably building support for his eventual coup.
- Every single faction in Dawn of War. Taken to extremes with the Imperial Guard, where the general and his retinue squad is practically their only melee unit. The only probable exception is the Eldar Farseer, seeing as she's more of a caster-type hero unit who throws out damaging spells and unit buffs, but she can be fairly effective in melee as well.
- Mass Effect 3 has several instances. Largely out of desperation, Admiral Anderson chooses to remain on Earth to lead the resistance against the Reaper forces. Similarly, several turian generals (Corinthus and next-in-line-to-be-Primarch Victus) are in the thick of the fighting on the front lines of Menae. Garrus, a government adviser on the Reapers (and who is high enough ranking to be saluted by the generals) is right there as well. Whether this is common practice for turian generals or is a move of desperation against the Reapers is not clear, however. It involves a bit of Reality Ensues, since most of the top brass was killed off already by the time Shepard gets there.
- Command units in the Wargame series are best kept out of harm's way, as they're vital to capturing sectors for resource points and reinforcements. However, they range from tanks to helicopters, giving them a good chance to defend themselves.
- Empire Earth has two types of heroes: Warrior and Strategist. While both are melee units (until the later ages when all units become ranged), the Warrior's role is to be in the thick of battle, as his damage values are the kind associated with siege weapons and he provides a 50% damage reduction aura to nearby units. The Strategist, on the other hand, has a much weaker attack (and won't even attack unless specifically ordered), but instead provides very quick healing to nearby units and has an ability that makes enemies take extra damage.
- In Crusader Kings, army commanders, potentially including the Player Character, are each assigned to lead either the center, left, or right flank of an army, and are vulnerable to being wounded or killed in combat. An army that goes into combat without a commander and therefore bereft of the benefits of his traits is considerably less effective.
- In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, depending on how the game goes, it can easily turn into one or two veteran soldiers leading a party of brand new recruits.
- The Elder Scrolls: With Nirn being quite the World of Badass, most military leaders seen throughout the series and in the Backstory are this. To note some specific examples:
- Lord Indoril Nerevar, revered ancient hero of the Dunmer people, was one of these. Most accounts have him personally leading forces into the Dwemer stronghold at Red Mountain. It also helped lead to his death, either from wounds suffered there or by the betrayal of his allies within. (Again, depending on the version of the story you are reading.) His death and prophesied Reincarnation are major plot points in Morrowind.
- Any leader of any of the Proud Warrior Races (Orcs, Nords, Redguards) qualifies. For the Nords in particular, Asskicking Equals Authority and any leader is expected to be able to hold his or her own in battle, if not be the most outright badass figure on the battlefield. Ysgramor, Wulfharth Ash-King, and Talos Stormcrown (aka Tiber Septim) gained great renown as both warriors and generals. Should the player side with the Stormcloaks in Skyrim, Ulfric will lead the charge in the final battle.
- The ancient Yokudan (Precursors of the Redguards) hero Frandar Hunding was one. One of the legendary Ansei, or "Sword Saints", Frandar was quite possibly the greatest Master Swordsman in the history of Nirn. He traveled Yokuda as a Knight Errant in his youth, slaying all manner of men and monsters, while testing his skills in 90 duels. He was never once defeated, leading him to believe that he was invincible, so he retired to Mount Hattu and wrote the Book of Circles to pass along his insights. After urging from his son and fellow Sword-Singers, Frandar reluctantly led the "greatly outnumbered" forces of the Ansei against the corrupt Yokudan Emperor Hira. Frandar and the Ansei were victorious, but were considered "red with blood" by the citizens and chose to self-exile to Tamriel following the conflict. There, he would eventually fall in battle with the giant goblins of Hammerfell while still serving as one in his 80s.
- Uriel Septim V's reputation as a warrior-emperor is considered second only to Tiber himself among the Septim dynasty. Inheriting an Empire wracked with internal strife and floundering support in the provinces, Uriel V would lead the Third Empire back to greatness by launching a series of invasions outside of Tamriel. Over a span of 13 years, he conquered several island nations in the Padomaic Sea to the east of Tamriel. Then, he invaded Akavir itself. Despite initial successes, he would fail to conquer Akavir as he had hoped, and would fall there in battle himself, making a Heroic Sacrifice to cover the retreat of his legions.
- In MechWarrior Living Legends, the top few ranks (Major, Colonel, General) open up high-tech and high-firepower Humongous Mecha like the "Atlas" and "Daishi". The Atlas "E" variant, dubbed the "Master & Commander", is explicitly designed for frontline commanding; it is only slightly less armored than the heaviest brawlers, carries an advanced Target Spotter battle computer, a missile guidance beacon, a high-tech Enemy-Detecting Radar suite, and a slew of long-range direct and indirect weaponry. The Master and Commander isn't a particularly dangerous mech on its lonesome, but its ability to single out targets from a kilometer away and share it with allied cruise missiles, artillery, and bombers make it an exceptionally high-value target.
- In Second Empire, Pturdd is only too eager to join in the glorious massacre of the Second Empire rebels. Pity he's a General Failure who led a small army of Daleks to a humiliating Curb-Stomp Battle...
- Justified in Erfworld. Due to the setting's RPG-Mechanics Verse, a general's leadership literally expresses itself as a numerical bonus to his subordinates' stats, but the unit has to be in the same squad as the general to get the bonus. (Except for the Chief Warlord, and even his bonus is biggest for his squad).
- During the Azure City invasion in The Order of the Stick Redcloak initially leads from the rear, but later is moved by the way the Hobgoblins were sacrificing their lives, and charged personally into the battle with his war mammoth. This is able to turn the tide of the battle in his favor.
- Stand Still, Stay Silent: Sleipnope will usually hang back while sending its subordinate trolls and ghost against the crew to overwhelm them. However, Sleipnope will join the battle this is not enough.
- This was actually fairly common until recently and is at least as old as the Roman Republic. However in armies where there were actual generals (command and control specialists) as opposed to warleaders (badasses who point swords and say charge), the custom was to ride on a horse back and forth along the line allowing the commander to personally intervene in a crises. This was dangerous work in itself, often more dangerous than being a private. But it wasn't the same as personally using weapons.
- Some frontline generals liked to demonstrate this by showing off how much they trusted their men to relieve them of the need to wield a weapon themselves. For instance Marshal Joachim Murat led the great charge at the battle of Eylau (1807) wielding a riding-crop instead of a sabre, and it was said of General Hans Joachim von Zieten, Frederick The Great's cavalry leader, that he went through the entire Seven Years' War having to draw his sword in anger exactly once.
- The trope was so common in the Revolutionary/Napoleonic era that memoir writers are quick to point those who weren't frontline generals.
- The Duke of Wellington was this; he was known to be constantly in motion in battle, moving up and down the line. His close proximity to danger (and luck in avoiding injury) is proved at Waterloo, where a great majority of his staff were wounded or killed, though he himself was untouched.
- The American Civil War especially saw a number of these. This was to a large extent due to the fact that both armies were massively expanded compared to the peacetime establishment of the U.S. Army, and in such short a space of time that junior professional officers (i. e. men who up until then had commanded at most a company, troop or battery) and politicians with a bit of pull were appointed generals for lack of viable alternatives. Also, since American regiments on both sides tended to shrink in size because their losses (due to combat and sickness) were insufficiently replaced with new recruits, American brigades tended to be the size of other armies' regiments, meaning that an American Civil War brigade commander — most of the time a general — would de facto be doing the job of a colonelnote .
- Lieutenant General Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson of the Confederate States of America received his famous moniker at the First Battle of Manassas when Brigadier General Barnard Bee, trying to rally his unit, saw Jackson sitting erect atop his horse in the midst of a barrage of Union gunfire and said the page quote. There's some debate behind the exact meaning of the statement* , however, given that Bee was ironically killed a few minutes later. Stonewall Jackson himself also fell victim to his habit of examining the battle situation with his own eyes, ending up wounded by friendly fire when a North Carolina regiment mistook him for a Union officer in the darkness and confusion towards the end of the battle of Chancellorsville. He subsequently died of pneumonia, a complication of the amputation of his left arm.
- As noted under film, Longstreet was known for often riding too far forward and coming under fire, which led to him being severely wounded in 1864.
- Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston was the highest-ranking officer on either side to be killed during the war, when he was mortally wounded personally leading an attack against the Federal positions in the Peach Orchard during the Battle of Shiloh. For the record, Johnston was commander of the entire Confederate Army of Mississippi, a position equal to Lee or Meade at Gettysburg. This was in no small part due to the Confederate practice of handing out general ranks even more easily than the Federal government. A. S. Johnston for instance had been appointed a full general by his friend Jefferson Davis at the beginning of the war; this was one rank above the highest rank given to a Union general throughout the entire warnote . His opposite number at Shiloh, Ulysses Simpson Grant, who commanded the larger army, at the time was just a major-general (two ranks lower).
- J.E.B. Stuart was mortally wounded personally leading Confederate cavalry at the Battle of Yellow Tavern.
- More generals were killed and wounded at Gettysburg than in any other engagement of the war, and largely because of this trope. Confederate generals Barksdale, Semmes, Armistead, Garnett, and Pender, and Union generals Reynolds, Zook, Weed, and Farnsworth were all killed in action. Confederate general James Pettigrew would be mortally wounded a few days after the battle during the Confederate retreat, and Union colonel Strong Vincent was promoted to Brigadier General after being mortally wounded defending Little Round Top. Reynolds was the highest-ranking officer killed, while personally directing the deployment of the Iron Brigade (Reynolds actually commanded the entire I Corps). Several other Confederate generals, including John Bell Hood, James Kemper, and Isaac Trimble were wounded leading attacks. Hood was wounded at Devil's Den, while Kemper and Trimble were both hit during Pickett's Charge. Union general Dan Sickles (commander of the III Corps) was wounded and lost his leg leading his own troops in battle while defending the Peach Orchard, while generals Hancock (commander II Corps) and Webb (2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, II Corps) were wounded personally directing their troops in defense of Seminary Ridge during Pickett's assault. Gettysburg was murder on generals.
- The 1864 Battle of Franklin was the deadliest single day for generals during The Civil War. After just 5 hours of fighting, 6 Generals from the Confederate Army of Tennessee were killed or mortally wounded: Patrick Cleburne, John C. Carter, John Adams, Hiram B. Granbury, States Rights Gist, and Otho F. Strahl. A 7th general, George Gordon, was captured, while 7 more were wounded. One reason for may be Army of Tennessee commander John Bell Hood's angry tirade against his generals the day before the battle for allowing the opposing Union army to slip past their lines in the night and reach the fortifications in Franklin. This may have made the Tennessee army commanders a little over-eager to prove themselves.
- Union General "Fighting Joe" Hooker averted this trope at Chancellorsville by setting his command center a couple miles behind the lines and using a new type of telegraph to send and receive orders. Unfortunately the aversion backfired: the bumpy ride from garrison knocked the equipment out of alignment and it would only send gibberish, and the resulting communications problems coupled with Hooker suffering a concussion from a near miss by a stray cannonball cost the Union the battle.
- Confederate General A. P. Hill, who replaced the previously mentioned Stonewall Jackson after Jackson died in 1863, was killed in action while riding up and down the front of his lines, trying to rally his men. Hill died just one week before the surrender of Lee's army and one month before the end of the war.
- To their own intense frustration, these were forced to abandon their ways fast after the first few months of World War I. This was not because they were morons or somehow Lacked Moral Fibre (LMF), but because they wanted to actually be able to receive information from and command their men. Away from a telephone-exchange, the force any one man could receive information from and give orders to within the space of a minute was limited to less than a hundred metres and about that number of men (men spread out to decrease losses from artillery fire). It was not unheard of for it to take twelve hours to physically carry a message across five kilometres of contested battlefield, and if a General wasn't in place to 'phone the artillery up and give them new orders based upon that information as and when he received it, then friendly fire and/or massive losses inevitably ensued.
- In World War Two, the proliferation of sufficiently reliable, lightweight, and numerous portable radios allowed Generals to become this once more. Above the Corps/Korps (c.20,000-50,000 men) level, however, a Frontline General was decidedly inferior to his rearward counterpart. Fewer staff and means of communication meant a weaker grasp of the overall situation, and overreliance on radio communications could allow the enemy to pinpoint the location of a Frontline General using direction-finding techniques. Well-placed artillery, airpower, and partisan attacks cut the lives of many a Frontline General short in the Second World War.
- The page picture is of General Erwin Rommel in World War II, who frequently got up front to see what was going on and was nearly captured on three different occasions. The last time he tried to reach the front lines was the most egregious: he did so as an Army commander (100,000 men), and a Royal Canadian Air Force fighter strafed his car and seriously wounded him for his folly. He seems to have thought he could get away with it despite having recently lost a Korps commander to just such an attack.
- In more recent years: the Western intervention in Yugoslavia in the early 1990's saw a race between NATO and Russian troops to control a strategic airbase. The Russians got there within minutes of the British, who were ordered by the American general officer commanding to capture the airbase, whatever it took. Fortunately the British officer leading from the front was General Jackson, a man with the clout to take the radio, point out to the Yank that odd-numbered world wars tend to begin in Yugoslavia, the next world war would be number three, an odd number, and he wasn't going to go down in history as the man who started World War III for anybody. It is possible a lower-ranking officer might have been intimidated into doing something stupid. The lower-ranking officer in question turned out to be James Blunt.
- Admirals did this through much of the history of naval combat, because admirals command from their warships and either the whole ship goes or none of it does. This happened late as World War II and a number were killed in action:
- Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, Sr., who was killed at Pearl Harbor when his flagship (the battleship Arizona) was blown apart by a magazine explosion. Decades later, he would later serve as the namesake for the Kidd-class of missile destroyers, which featured improved Anti-aircraft defenses.
- Lord Horatio Nelson, who died while leading his fleet in battle at Trafalgar against a combined fleet of French and Spanish ships during The Napoleonic Wars, shot in the chest by a French sharpshooter.
- Rear Admirals Daniel Callaghan and Norman Scott were both killed in action during the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal; Scott was probably killed by a shell from Callaghan's flagship, the cruiser San Francisco, which was trying to engage an enemy ship on the other side of Scott's own flagship, Atlanta. Callaghan in turn was probably killed when San Francisco dueled with the Japanese battleship Hiei. On the Japanese side, Rear Admiral Hiroaki Abe on the Hiei barely escaped the same fate when his bridge was raked by machine gun fire from the destroyer Laffey, leaving him badly wounded and most of the bridge crew dead.
- During D-Day, two brigadier generals landed with the American forces at Omaha and Utah beaches: Norman Cota and Theodore Roosevelt III, both of whom are credited with rallying the forces on the beaches and pressing the attack inland. Roosevelt, well into his 50s, suffered from arthritis and used a cane at the time, and would die of a heart attack a month later.
- Antonio López de Santa Anna, President of Mexico, famously traveled to Texas to personally take charge of the military's efforts to put down Stephen Austin's rebellion. Of course, had he not done this, the Texan forces would not have been able to capture him at the Battle of San Jacinto and force him to sign the Treaties of Velasco recognizing Texan independence.
- During the Revolutionary War, George Washington was famous for exposing himself to enemy fire by riding right up behind the front lines during battle. It's frankly a miracle that he wasn't killed. Later he became the first and only U.S. President to personally command troops on the battlefield during the Whiskey Rebellion.
- Also during the Revolutionary War, American general Benedict Arnold was wounded in the leg while leading his army to victory at the battle of Saratoga, one of the most important American victories of the war. Arnold's wound was so painful he later said he wished the bullet had struck him in the heart. That certainly would have been a better thing for his legacy. If he had died from his wound, he would likely be remembered as one of the greatest heroes in American history. Instead, he went on to defect to the British and his name would become synonymous with treason.
- Alexander the Great was especially noted for personally leading his troops in battle, particularly in daring cavalry attacks. It won him tremendous respect and admiration from his army, and why they stuck with him for so long even after he began degenerating into a Bad Boss. However, his tendency to personally lead his army into combat resulted in him receiving numerous battle wounds, which may have been a contributing factor to his untimely death at the age of 32.