- Cool Crown
- Commissar Cap
- Top hat or stovepipe hat
- Sufficiently fancy turban
- A chef's hat, or toque, at least within the kitchen
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Anime & Manga
- In the Marvel Universe, Master Mold can be distinguished as the leader of the Sentinels by his oversized, crown-like forehead.
- In the Knights of the Dinner Table Hackbeard campaign, a pirate's hat size is directly linked to their level of authority. Sara gets in trouble when she turns up wearing a larger hat than the captain.
- Calvin and Hobbes:
- When they attempt a venture to the Yukon, Calvin claims leadership by dint of his snazzy commander helmet. Hobbes decides to remedy this and takes the helmet, whereupon Calvin declares mutiny and storms off.
- An iffy case is the duo's wearing of paper hats during meetings of club G.R.O.S.S. Because they're the only members the hats don't have unique significance, but are said to represent their holding various titles within the club.
- Ray Billingsley draws Curtis attending church services, and commenting on the elaborate hats that the church ladies wear, which puts his little brother Barry in stitches. It's inferred that these hats denote their social standing, with the most ostentatious hat marking the Queen Bee.
Films — Live-Action
- This was very apparent in Gangs of New York. You can tell the person's standing in a gang by the size of their top hat. Bill "the Butcher" Cutting has the tallest stovepipe hat of all.
- In Napoléon, the title character's iconic bicorne is apparently the only way people recognize his authority, as he's taken for a peasant by people who came to thank him for saving France when he takes it off.
- Pirates of the Caribbean:
- When Jack Sparrow offers to serve under Barbossa as Commodore in exchange for remaining captain of the Black Pearl, one of the things he offers is to buy him a big floppy hat. (Jack himself is also very fond of his own hat for what it symbolizes.)
- The design team very deliberately gave Davy Jones the biggest hat on the Flying Dutchman. It also has devil horns.
- In Going Postal Moist von Lipwig learns that the office of Postmaster comes with a hat, a golden one with wings no less. It also comes with a pair of winged sandals and a fig-leaf thong (basically a costume of Fedecks, messenger of the gods), which Moist passes up in favor of a golem-tailored gold suit.
- In Making Money the chairman of the Royal Bank also has a hat, in this case a rather frayed top hat. Moist immediately festoons it up with glitter and gold leaf.
- The Archchancellor of Unseen University has the sole right to wear the Archchancellor's Hat. Originally it contained the knowledge of all the Archchancellors to have come before; that hat disappeared (much to the relief of the wizards, since past Archchancellors are just as opinionated as current ones) in Sourcery, and the current version is just a Very Nice Hat, but still symbolically important. When in Unseen Academicals the Dean leaves to become Archchancellor of a rival university, there is friction between him and Ridcully over who gets the Hat, because there can be only one Archchancellor. Vetinari suggests they play football for it.
- In The Wheel of Time, Aes Sedai wear colour-coded shawls to indicate their status. Their leader, the Amyrlin Seat, and her Number Two, the Keeper of the Chronicles, each wear a stole, the former in all seven colors. As with pre-gunpowder militaries in real life, rank among soldiers is often indicated by extra plumes or crests on one's helmet.
- In Gods of Mars, the Therns wear yellow wigs as a sign of office (and to hide the fact that they're all bald.)
- On Are You Being Served?, one episode centered around that Mr. Rumbold was allowed to wear a top hat, but Captain Peacock, who worked under Rumbold, couldn't. However, Captain Peacock could wear a bowler, but the sales clerks somewhat under him couldn't, even one who was older than Peacock. They could wear caps.
- The Time Lords' headdresses on Doctor Who.
- The Syfy adaptation of Dune, having an incredibly low budget, made extensive use of elaborate hats to denote ranks and factions.
- Hook never depicts Captain Hook without his large and ornate feathered hat.
- Warhammer40000, aside from giving us the Commissar Cap has a number of other examples. For instance some Inquisitors have a fondness for high peaked and wide brimmed hats with the Inquisitorial "I" on the front, such as the Witchhunter from Dawn of War 2, as seen here (that Ork's hat probably counts too).
- How commissars show authority.◊
- In fact, orks have come to realize that humans depend on hats to show authority (unlike orks, humans don't grow bigger the more orks they have under their command), and thus looting their hats is as good a sign as any of leadership. Sometimes the hat is worn on the original owner's head on a spike.
- The Inquisition hats started life on Empire Witch Hunters in Warhammer before migrating over. They have since disappeared from the original miniature range, though they still exist in Warhammer Online.
- Among the Ultramarines, you can pick out their squad leaders by their red helmets compared to the blue of their battle-brothers. Veterans get white helmets instead (their sergeants get red helmets with a white stripe).
- Empire unit leaders in Warhammer still tend to be identified by having fluffier or otherwise snazzier hats than their compatriots.
- In de Blob Comrade Black's Commissar Cap is bigger than the helmets worn by his underlings. He makes sure not to lose it, even when deprived of all his other clothes, possibly because he would be indistinguishable from any other Inky without it.
- Certain hats in Puzzle Pirates can only be worn if the pirate in question is an officer (or better) in their crew, and only the royals of a flag are allowed to wear crowns.
- Interestingly, Jack wears one of these in Cave Story.
- Hot Tin Roof The Cat That Wore A Fedora: Overlapping with Fedora of Asskicking and Nice Hat, hats are a big deal since only detectives from the Depot can wear fedoras. Franky is the first cat to join the Depot, thus making her The Cat That Wore A Fedora. Franky's fans even wear cardboard fedoras.
- In the Shantae series, Pirate Girl Risky, self-proclaimed Queen of the Seven Seas, wears a pirate hat large enough for the smaller Shantae to use as an Improvised Parachute in Shantae and the Pirate's Curse. The same game also revealed that the hat used to belong to Risky's Evil Mentor, the Pirate Master. It was part of the pirate gear that Risky claimed as her own along with his crew after he was sealed by the Genies.
- The Jaegers in Girl Genius always wear hats and consider the loss of such as an extreme dishonor. Because they're so individualistic, hat quality among them shows not authority so much as badassery, which may as well be the same thing. When they decide to doll up Gil as a sign of respect, they produce a hat of epic proportions. Gil hates it, but when he needs to get into the center of his father's command, showing off the hat is enough to persuade most of the guards.
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal's take on the pope's hat.
- In The Fairly Oddparents, Doug Dimmadome, Owner of the Dimmsdale Dimmadome, is ostensibly one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in town. Accordingly, he wears a Stetson that is so tall it usually stretches out of frame.
- The Fat Controller from Thomas the Tank Engine wears a black top hat complete with his black suit and grey trousers, which goes well with him being named Sir Topham Hatt. He is also the owner of the North Western Railway and serves as the stern but fair Father to His Men to his engines.
- Parodied in SpongeBob SquarePants during "Squid's Day Off", when Squidward gives Spongebob a "promotion" so he doesn't have to do anything. This is marked by Spongebob now wearing two hats.
- As mentioned above, hats are indicative of ecclesiastical as well as secular ranks. In most religions there are a handful of basic hat designs that only clergy can wear. Christianity, meanwhile, goes for the gusto with variations, from the galero and mitre worn by popes and bishops, to the more impractically ostentatious Papal tiara, to the capirote which has been supplanted in American understanding by the abuses of the Ku Klux Klan.
- Moreover, among churchgoers, hats are often an indicator of social status, especially among women. In this case, both size and detail help to establish the pecking order in these social gatherings.
- Abraham Lincoln is known for his tall stovepipe hat, which he used to carry his papers.
- This became a tradition for a while, with most President's wearing top hats at certain events and inaugurations until Kennedy changed the style.
- In various wars, officers in authority took to not wearing a distinct uniform and/or hat because the enemy was aware of them and would target said fancy hat-wearing people as a priority.
- The Doges of Venice were famous all across Europe for wearing their Corno Ducale◊.Translation