Gung Holier Than Thou

"It's your gung-holier-than-thou attitude."
Trapper John to Col. Flagg, M*A*S*H

Any military setting is bound to have at least one person who is Gung Holier Than Thou: a Neidermeyer with little, if any, authority. Typically a non-commissioned officer who likely sleeps with a copy of their force's code of conduct under their pillow. Given their relative lack of authority, anyone who is Gung Holier Than Thou is merely an annoyance. A temporary annoyance if only visiting, like Col. Flagg. A Gung Holier Than Thou can become too much of an annoyance and end up Reassigned to Antarctica.

A subtrope of the Rules Lawyer.


Examples:

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    Comic Strips 
  • Bill Mauldin's Up Front references the trope several times, contrasting the military regulations "in the book" with the no-frills lifestyle of the front line in their foxholes. "Go ahead and drink that water, boys. The officer who ordered it used for shaving ain't coming to the front."

    Film 
  • Lt Kendrick in A Few Good Men.
    "I have two books at my bedside, Lieutenant. The Marine Corps Code of Conduct and the King James Bible. The only proper authorities I am aware of are my commanding officer Colonel Nathan R. Jessup and the Lord our God."
  • Sgt. Maj. Dickerson in Good Morning Vietnam.
    "That is humor. I recognize that. I also recognize your brand of soldier."
  • Sgt. Webster to Recon in Heartbreak Ridge.
  • Joe has a little of this compared to other characters on South Pacific.
  • Private Shimizu appears to be one when he first appears in Letters from Iwo Jima. This is deconstructed later when it is revealed that he was in fact Reassignedto Antarctica (or, actually worse, since no one was expected to come out of Iwo Jima alive) as a punishment for not being a sufficiently brutal Kenpei back in Japan.
  • The 1WO in Das Boot is fresh into the U-boat corps having come from a plantation in Mexico and knowing nothing about the horrors of the war or U-boat life. He is an ardent Nazi and a by-the-book officer and is the only one who even tries to maintain his appearance and cleanliness throughout the film, though even he winds up frayed around the edges by the end.

    Literature 
  • Colonel Olds in the Paladin of Shadows book A Deeper Blue is a Lawful Stupid stickler for the book.
  • In All Quiet on the Western Front, you have Corporal Himmelstoss who was ridiculous in his requirements for maintaining regulations, even when it is impractical (such as requiring full parade ground protocol in the trenches).

    Live Action TV 
  • Col. Sam Flagg in Mash, as mentioned.
    • Majors Frank Burns and Margaret Houlihan were this as well (although Houlihan relaxed later in the series). Burns actually slipped out of this trope in the strictest sense of the term, as he was technically in command of the unit for an undisclosed amount of time. He is quickly dropped back in as soon as Colonel Potter arrived.
  • Arnold Rimmer in Red Dwarf.
  • Nog of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is a heroic example, being exceedingly enthusiastic about Starfleet customs.=