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Miles Gloriosus


"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"note ) Gloriosus is usually a soldier, or claiming to be one. Great White Hunter, Gentleman Adventurer, or other dangerous occupations are also possible. 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 Na´ve 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 his cleverness rather than his alleged 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.

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.

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

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    Fan Works 

  • 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.

    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!"
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s): Boasting Soldier, Miles Glossorius