Military School

A school where not only do you learn mathematics, but how to shoot a rifle.

Military schools are institutions which aim to instill military-style discipline in students. Often the explicit goal of such schools is to prepare students for military careers. The military school is intended for minors, as opposed to the Military Academy which trains at the undergraduate university level.

The idea of the military school is rapidly becoming a Dead Horse Trope. Military schools were more common in ages where service was a family tradition, especially among aristocrats, and large standing armies sought new manpower all the time. They were (and are) also very common in dictatorships where the school seeks to instill loyalty to the regime (such as the Hitler Youth or the Young Baath Party). In modern America, the strict discipline is viewed as borderline child abuse and most such institutions have closed.

In fiction, a rebellious teen may be threatened with one, making it a variation on the Boarding School of Horrors theme. It is also a common basis for a Boot Camp Episode or Off to Boarding School.

Sometimes includes an element of Ho Yay, due to the fact that military schools in fiction and reality tend to either be all-male or mostly male.

Absurdly Powerful Student Council exists here in the form of a command staff.


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  • Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure - Ted "Theodore" Logan was threatened with one. He also gets visions of what it would be like in the second movie.
    Col. Oates: Drop and give me...infinity.
    Bill: Dude, there's no way I can do infinity push-ups.
    Ted: Maybe he'll let us do 'em girly-style?
  • Child's Play 3. In the first movie, the main character's living with his mother who ends up in an aslyum, so in the second he's living with his foster parents who die, so in the third he gets Darrined and sent to military school where people die.
  • Renaissance Man uses this is a bit of a backdrop when a new teacher played by Danny Devito has to save the Army students from flunking.
  • Taps - a Military School is to be closed down and razed. The outraged students refuse to allow it and end up in a confrontation with the authorities.
  • Up the Academy - a comedic take. At the Sheldon R. Wienberg academy, four young teens are sent to school and learn the discipline that the school teaches. Almost immediately, they don't like what is going on. Along the way, they plan their own actions from looking for girls to holding a party without the faculty's knowledge.
  • Cadet Kelly: When her new stepfather becomes the Commandant of a military school, George Washington Military Academy, Kelly and her family move upstate. Kelly has to enroll at the school, since it is the only school in the area, leaving behind her art school and her best friend Amanda.
  • Damien: Omen II. All the better to help the Antichrist take over the world.
  • Evilspeak is set in a military school, where one student is bullied too far and he retaliates with satanic power.
  • In Dead Poets Society, this is what Neil, one of the members of the title group of youths, is threatened with by his Fantasy-Forbidding Father when he learns that he is playing Puck in their production of A Midsummer Night's Dream instead of focusing his energies on being the doctor he wants him to be. The prospect of being sent someplace he does not want to go and being given no real choice in life breaks poor Neil, and he is Driven to Suicide.

  • Ender’s Game with the Battle School.
  • Robert A. Heinlein had one IN SPACE! in Space Cadet.
  • Schola Progenium in Warhammer 40,000 takes in Emperor Servants' orphans at a pretty young age, so for several lower levels it's pretty much this trope, and this can be seen in a couple of the tie-in novels that bother to mention Schola at all, like Cain's Last Stand. For older cadets already taking special courses it's more like Military Academy, though. Unlike what one might expect, the Schola is usually not a Boarding School of Horrors. The food tends to be decent, the teachers harsh but not sadistic, and the education's about as good as it gets.
  • Brotherhood of the Rose by David Morrell. The protagonists are from an orphanage where the children are raised to be patriotic cannon fodder for the US military.
  • The Confusions of Young Törless is supposed to be set at one of these, in 19th century Austria-Hungary.
  • A Chekhov's Gun in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid novel The Last Straw — a rather annoying Delinquent is sent to one of these after his parents get fed up with him early in the book, as shown by a chapter. It works, as we see him in his summer job as a movie usher, and by the looks of things, he's pretty much the platonic ideal of a good cadet. This is what causes Frank to seriously consider sending his son to it as a way of ridding his status as The Chew Toy. Greg is not amused.
  • The Lords of Discipline: A group of senior cadets try to force freshman cadets they disapprove of to leave their Military School, including the first black cadet who was enrolled. (In fact, "Carolina Military Institute" is an obvious stand-in for The Citadel, The Military COLLEGE of South Carolina.)
    • Lords of Discipline is about more than just the Citadel. Its a fictional college that is a mash-up of Citadel, VMI, and West Point, though the author did go to the Citadel.
  • Planet Pirates: Part of the First Novel takes place at a Military School.

     Live Action TV  
  • In Freaks and Geeks, Nick's father threatens to send him to military school if he doesn't improve his grades.
  • In the first few seasons of Malcolm in the Middle, eldest brother Francis attends one of these.
  • An episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch parodied this, combining it with a Cinderella story. "You forgot your... boot?"
  • The Sopranos episode "Army of One". Tony Soprano and his wife Carmela disagree vehemently over whether to send their son A.J. to a Military School after he gets expelled from his original Catholic school, Verbum Dei. It turns out that A.J. gets panic attacks like his father—and, it seems, like the whole Soprano line going back generations—and couldn't go to military school for health reasons.
  • Dead Like Me. - A military school features as the site of a reap. Inverted in that the soon-to-be-dead cadet loves the school and constantly pushes herself to excel. She dies on the obstacle course, where a safety rope breaks just as she makes it to the top of the tower climb.
  • Arthur Carlson from WKRP in Cincinnati had a son going to one of these, 'Prussian Valley'. He learns that his son's flunking out, but lets him hold onto his The B Grade excuse for leaving, and enrolls him in public school.
  • Another more positive portrayal is in the The Sarah Connor Chronicles episode "Goodbye To All That".
  • In the summer 2000 show Opposite Sex when Jed is reluctant to go to the formerly-all-girls-school his father signed him up for, he briefly attends a military school in the area but finds the intellectual rigor less than rigorous and returns to the other school.
  • On The Facts of Life there is an all-boys military school nearby which serves as the girls' counterpart (and was the setting for the Poorly Disguised Pilot "The Academy").
  • JAG: Harm and Mac visit such a school in "Into the Breech".
  • NCIS: In S12, Ep14 "Cadence" we learn that DiNozzo attended one his senior year. We get to visit it because the Victim of the Week was also an alumnus. The archetypal unpleasantness of said academies was emphasized by the existence of Honor Corps, a self-appointed and totally unregulated student organization that hazed anybody who failed to meet arbitrary school standards, talked back to people in authority (Even if it was justified), or wouldn't date one of their members.

     Video Games  
  • Attacking the tortoises in Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc sometimes provokes them to respond with the remark, "Your parents should have put you in military school!"
  • In the first The Sims game, students who constantly get bad grades go to military school for the rest of their lives. In the second (or, the second after the huge amount of expansion packs), you can thankfully get lost children back, albeit they must be adopted by someone else...
  • Valkyria Chronicles - As part of a national universal conscription program, every school in Gallia is effectively one of these.
    • But the real military school is Lanseal, the center of the second game. It's a mix between school and academy, in that it also accepts people well beyond their highschool years.
  • In The Adventures Of Willy Beamish, if you get into too much trouble with your parents, you get a Game Over and are sent off to military school.
  • The Gardens in Final Fantasy VIII are military academies. Your final exam is the tutorial mission of the game.
  • Tears To Tiara 2 has the run down Kadamia, a village school in disguise. It's run by La Résistance, teaches combat, magic, and leadership skills, and even serves as a place to recruit new members.

     Western Animation  
  • One episode of The Simpsons has Bart get forced into one of these. Lisa ends up joining as well because she liked the rigid structure and the fact that it was actually teaching stuff.
  • Parodied in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, where a Zany Scheme to get Billy into a prestigious school ends with him realizing the school that he just succeeded in getting into was actually Military School. The last shot of the cartoon is of him standing in front of a firing line.
  • The Exofleet Academy in Exo Squad. Although it doesn't appear in the series itself, it plays an important role in e.g. Coleen O'Reilly's Back Story (the Neosapien War began on the day of her graduation from the Academy and she was one of the few cadets to have survived the onslaught).
  • King of the Hill: Bobby attended Cotton's old military school for one episode, but it was more of a Boy Scout school than a military school. When Cotton found out how pleasant it had become, he took over so he could turn it back into a hellhole.
  • Daria: Being shipped off to one by his father was a defining element of Jake Morgendorffer's character.
  • The Smile Away Reformatory from "Phineas and Ferb Get Busted" is a cruel and rather unsettling version.

     Real Life  
  • A few still exist in the U.S. The Valley Forge Military Academy, for instance. Culver Military Academy, Indiana Military High School and last bastion of equestrian cavalry in the United States Army. Also sports the largest riding arena in the nation.
  • There are several high schools in the U.S. where the entire student body is enrolled in JROTC, such as the Marine Academy of Science and Technology in New Jersey.
  • "Boot camps" for wayward youth are something of a cruel parody of the concept, giving kids with problems (sometimes not even all that severe) a treatment that's actually worse than any qualified military DI would deal out. It's not uncommon for such camps to be shut down when word gets out, only to reopen somewhere else under a different name in a looser jurisdiction.
  • It's also generally considered that the use of military school or "boot camps" as a punishment is likely to make things worse, as more often than not a disobedient teen leaves not only with a major resentment towards their parents and adults in general, but often with the skills and knowledge to be a significantly better criminal.
  • This trope is not Truth in Television for straightening out any disobedient or out-of-control minors. Military schools are very much like private schools and don't take just anybody. Like a private school or boarding school, part of the selective admissions process is an interview where the prospective student gets questioned on why they want to attend. As a general rule, many military schools will not accept defiant applicants.