-> ''"It's your gung-holier-than-thou attitude."''
-->-- '''Trapper John''' to '''Col. Flagg''', ''Series/{{MASH}}''

Any military setting is bound to have at least one person who is Gung Holier Than Thou: a person assigned to leadership role 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. Often emphasizes his or her lack of authority with loud voice, insults, yelling, complaining to superiors or representing themselves as specially skilled. They sometimes may resort to bullying or even physical violence to emphasize their role (and lack of genuine authority). A temporary annoyance if only visiting, like Col. Flagg. A Gung Holier Than Thou can become too much of an annoyance and end up ReassignedToAntarctica.

This trope is omnipresent in armies based on {{conscription}} where young conscript noncoms are ''assumed'' to be this way. GungHolierThanThou is the SisterTrope to TheNeidermeyer - the former is more likely to be a low-ranker such as non-commissioned officer, while the latter is likely to be in a higher position, such as a commissioned officer. The polar opposite is SergeantRock. A DrillSergeantNasty may ''act'' like GungHolierThanThou, but he ''has'' general authority.

A subtrope of the {{Rules Lawyer}}.



[[folder: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."

* Lt Kendrick in ''Film/AFewGoodMen.''
-->''"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 ''Film/GoodMorningVietnam''. His Karmic PyrrhicVictory was to get ReassignedToAntarctica because he was deemed too much of a petty, vindictive hard-ass by ''his own superiors'' to run a radio station.
-->''"That is humor. I recognize that. I also recognize your brand of soldier."''
* Sgt. Webster to Recon in ''Film/HeartbreakRidge''. Also a perfectly good example of TheNeidermeyer--was perfectly good as a supplies clerk but being given leadership went to his head and he tried to be a ByTheBookCop when following the book was totally worthless in a live combat scenario (his "elite" team was still stuck on the beach on the climactic battle while Highway's group made it all the way to the objective).
* Joe has a little of this compared to other characters on ''Film/SouthPacific''.
* Private Shimizu appears to be one when he first appears in ''Film/LettersFromIwoJima''. This is deconstructed later when it is revealed that he was in fact ReassignedtoAntarctica (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 ''Film/DasBoot'' is fresh into the U-boat corps having come from a plantation in Mexico and knowing nothing about the [[WarIsHell 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.

* Colonel Olds in the Literature/PaladinOfShadows book ''A Deeper Blue'' is a LawfulStupid stickler for the book.
* In ''Literature/AllQuietOnTheWesternFront'', 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).

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Col. Sam Flagg in ''Series/{{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 [[TyrantTakesTheHelm he was technically in command of the unit]] for an undisclosed amount of time. He is quickly dropped back in as soon as [[ReasonableAuthorityFigure Colonel]] [[AFatherToHisMen Potter]] arrived.
* Arnold Rimmer in ''Series/RedDwarf''.
** Kryten, being an android, is a harmless variation: able to cite any given Space Directive verbatim but with no authority whatsoever.
* Nog of ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' is a heroic example, being exceedingly enthusiastic about Starfleet customs. There's an element of overcompensation in this, since the ProudMerchantRace Ferengi are often stereotyped as avaricious cowards.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Conscript corporals and other conscripted non-commissioned officers may become these in armies which are based on {{conscription}}.
* Concentration camp Kapos.