Miles Gloriosus

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"I hear you been tellin' about how you killed all them Jenkins brothers. With one bullet wasn't it? Ain't that right? All these good folks here believe your little stories, don't they? Why, they believe you're just a stone killer, don't they? Seems these folks trust you. They think you're gonna save their little town. They think you're gonna save their little souls! But we know better, don't we?"
Rattlesnake Jake, Rango

He's a soldier; he's a real man! Just listen to all his exploits and how the very gods are afraid of him! Admire his pristine uniform and shiny medals that prove his valour! He loves danger! He will seek out any peril to test himself against!

Just don't put him near an actual fight.

The Miles (pronounced "ME-lace") Gloriosus is usually a soldier, or claims to be one. Great White Hunter, Gentleman Adventurer, or other dangerous occupations are also possible. He is full of boasts about his many adventures, making himself out to be the ultimate badass. But when real danger rears its ugly head, Miles reveals his true colors and proves to be a Dirty Coward, anything but what his stories make him out to be, leaving whoever was foolish enough to be taken in by them to fend for themselves. Miles is Always Male. Women aren't usually expected to distinguish themselves in danger. This doesn't mean they wouldn't boast on how they brave through such quests, however.

The Foil of The So-Called Coward. Since he is invariably all talk, falling for his stories is a mark of the Nave Newcomer. Those who are not taken in may, in peace and quiet, find him more or less amusing, which depends on his skill on storytelling, but when trouble arises, he is always The Load. May be No Hero to His Valet, Type 1 only. Often considering himself God's personal gift to women, he is frequently part of a Love Triangle, his stories making him triumphant, until danger reveals to the heroine which man really is admirable.

May be a Small Name, Big Ego, but may also be running a con and may be proud of himself for reasons other than his boasted prowess. It can be hard to tell because one of his chief traits is his utter shamelessness. No matter how clearly he was reduced to quivering terror by the merest hint of danger, as soon as the danger ends he will snap back to the boasting mode, making it hard to tell whether Believing Their Own Lies is in effect. He is incapable of realizing that people might think better of him if he says Think Nothing of It. Sympathetic examples may suffer from an Inferiority Superiority Complex, and hiding their own insecurities under a braggart façade.

Any annoying braggart may be taken for the Miles Gloriosus, which is why subverting this, having them turn out to be brave and good at fighting or even just competent is a surprise. (See Boisterous Bruiser for the character most likely to subvert it.) Such surprises often fall under Glory Seeker; he may also go for glory at the expense of others: Glory Hound. Similar in ego to The Fighting Narcissist, but the latter generally has the fighting ability to back it up.

Named for a stock character in ancient Roman theater: the term translates to "boasting soldier."

Particularly annoying subtrope of Fake Ultimate Hero and particularly egotistical subtrope of The Munchausen (the latter of whom can actually back it up). Inverse of the Cowardly Lion. Similar to Lord Error-Prone. If the plot ever forces him to stand and actually act like the badass he claims to be, then it's Becoming the Boast. Villainous versions may overlap with Heroism Addict. May be inclined to say Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"!... right before saying Screw This, I'm Outta Here!

Compare Smug Super, Nominal Hero, and Phony Veteran.

Contrast Shrouded in Myth, Armchair Military and Badass on Paper. Subtrope of Paper Tiger.


Example subpages


    open/close all folders 

    Audio Drama 

    Fan Works 

    Mythology 
  • In Greek Mythology, Ares actually fit this Trope. While recognized as the god of war and embodiment of physical power, he only fought when he had a clear advantage; any time he faced anything close to a fair fight, he had his ass handed to him. To his credit (unlike others under this trope), it's not that he didn't try; he just couldn't win. He was trapped and humiliated by Hephaestus when he and Aphrodite (Hephaestus' consort) were caught in an illicit love affair, fled in fear from the monster Typhon, lost a boxing match to Apollo, was wounded by the hero Diomedes with the aid of Athena forcing him to flee the battle, was defeated by Hercules twice (stripped of his armor one of the times) was stuffed in a bronze jar by the Aloadae (Hermes had to get him out) and defeated in battle with Athena every time they came to blows. Zeus himself - his father - once told him he was worthless.
    • Ares was generally regarded as the god of carnage and bloodlust associated with war; Athena was the goddess of strategy and military prowess. The characteristics of the two were combined in the god Mars when the Romans assimilated the Greek pantheon. Consequently Mars was held in much higher regard by the Romans than the Greeks ever regarded Ares.
    • Also, note that this form of Ares is the form we have recorded from the city-states—like Thebes and Athens (which had Athena as their patron goddess)—which held Ares in relatively low esteem. Other, more warlike Greek cities had a higher opinion of Ares; Sparta—which was all about that carnage and bloodlust—had a much higher opinion of Ares, but they didn't write as much, so their myths are not as well attested.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • This is the traditional personality of a heel in Professional Wrestling. They talk a good game about how badass they are, and might be able to take on some of the lower level guys, but they turn into a Dirty Coward when facing the top-tier faces, revealing that all their talk was a bunch of hot air. In the territorial days, this was an Enforced Trope in Memphis.

    Religion 
  • The Bible: Galatians 6:3: Paul has some words on the subject: "For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself." (KJV)

    Web Comics 

     Web Original 
  • In the Adventures of The League of S.T.E.A.M. episode, "Tall Tails", Crackitus, Thaddeus and Jasper boast about encounters they've had with the Kraken. Until it actually arrives...
  • Captain Hammer in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is a variant: he's an arrogant blowhard, but he's also as tough and brave as he says. The only reason he's brave, however, is because he is so super-strong and Nigh Invulnerable that he has never been injured in his life. It's telling that he flees, crying like a baby, the very second that he feels pain for the first time.
    "I think this is what pain feels like!"
  • Drea of Watch Girls Play. By far the most likely to boast and swear at the screen while playing horror games. Also the most likely to give a Girly Scream when the monster confronts her.
  • Illustrated well in this Skyrim machinima, which paints the Dragonborn as a cocky mercenary who brags about his dragonslaying skills but runs away screaming when he encounters an actual dragon (or even a wolf). Naturally, one great battle of which he was the Sole Survivor turns out to have been because he ran away and hid, only coming back after both sides had wiped each other out, before lying to the guards who'd come to investigate.
  • The Navy Seal Copypasta is a parody of the Internet Tough Guy described below. The "story" essentially involves a loser on an internet forum getting mad at the person he's arguing with and than trying way too hard to make himself seem scary to get back at the guy.

     Real Life 
  • The deadly, unstoppable Mall Ninja lands squarely in this category. The term "mall ninja" is a pejorative term for someone who is boastful about their abilities in martial arts and/or hand-to-hand weapon skills (especially online), but who never has any experience in an actual fight. Here are the exploits of one example of the species.
  • Military impostors have existed for as long as there have been professional armies; throughout history, people have claimed to have served with Roman legions, with George Washington at Valley Forge, or with any other fabled military unit of the recent past. For a modern example, the FBI estimates that, for every genuine former Navy SEAL alive today (about seven thousand, not counting active-duty servicemen), there are about three hundred impostors.
    • In the US, it's legal to make such claims due to the First Amendment - but if the faker then tries to also dress the part, they're in legal trouble.
  • North Korea. Despite constantly making threats against other countries and singing about their own amazing badassery and power, they have probably one of the worst military strengths in the world, and hide behind China every time someone might actually bother retaliating. The only reason North Korea hasn't collapsed in on itself is because China props it up, and even the Chinese are getting sick of the act.
  • The Internet Tough Guy is essentially this. They'll go on spectacularly long rants and speeches about how they'd kick their opponent's ass if they met in person, than crumple like wet paper the second something potentially dangerous or scary appears.
  • The infamous Westboro Baptist Church. They'll provoke, insult, and piss off anyone from average citizens to hardened soldiers, but the second someone retaliates they fall apart begging for help and file a Frivolous Lawsuit. Many believe that they do this intentionally; since they're hated by basically everyone, the only way they can get money is to play the Wounded Gazelle Gambit and provoke people into attacking them so they can than sue for damage.
  • General George McClellan of the Union forces during the American Civil War has been described like this. While he was rightly praised as talented at raising and training armies for battle, McClellan has also been lambasted as an incompetent, insubordinate braggart who was so cowardly as a fighting commander that he directly prolonged the war. Abraham Lincoln once famously asked if he could borrow the army for a short while, since McClellan didn't seem to be doing much with it.
  • Hugues De Vermendois, younger son of Henry I of France, Count of Vermendois, and leader of a Crusader army during the First Crusade. He was a terrible soldier and military leader, but thought very highly of himself; he fits this trope so much that The Other Wiki described him as 'an ineffectual leader and soldier, great only in his boasting.' He sent this laughably arrogant letter to the Eastern Roman Emperor Alexius I Comnenus demanding a proper welcome to the Byzantine Empire:
    • While sailing across the Adriatic Sea, Hugues had his fleet hit by storms, sinking most of the ships and throwing his own ship upon the shore. He quickly came under the control of Alexius, who persuaded him to become his liegemen and wouldn't let his small force of Crusaders go anywhere until he swore not only to restore to the Byzantine Empire all the territories conquered by the Turks, but to let him have all the land he took in his conquests become his fiefs (essentially, in order to possess them, they would have to swear allegiance and enter into service to Alexius). He then tried to persuade Godfrey of Bouillon, one of the leaders of the First Crusade, to pledge allegiance to the Emperor; when Godfrey pointed out that Hugues was now basically a slave, Hugues said that they wouldn't be able to progress any further without his protection.
    • Later, he was sent back to Alexius to appeal for reinforcements to siege Jerusalem; Alexius was uninterested, so Hugues went back to France, where he was promptly hated for achieving basically nothing as a Crusader, and threatened with excommunication for his failure. Throughout all of this, Hugues was convinced he was a brilliant military leader.


Alternative Title(s): Boasting Soldier, Miles Glossorius

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MilesGloriosus