Patriotic Fervor

"By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality."

Patriotism is an emotional attachment to one's perceived people(s) and homeland(s), though people have used the word differently over time and in various contexts. In the 20th century it was also understood as devotion to one's nation(-state). How patriotism is portrayed in fiction oscillates between two poles.

Patriotism is Good

A patriot cares for their people over their people's nation - they treasure their people, but would never do evil in their name if it could be helped. Individual people have personalities and worth of their own - nations don't. Nations are just groupings of peoples, communities, and cultures - like paintings on a wall. Nations aren't worth of love or devotion without the context of the people and communities they're made of.

Their 'patriotism' comes from a love of their people and way of life, as well as a deep concern for their welfare. They want their people to be prosperous and happy - and if push comes to shove they will gladly sacrifice their nation's prestige to ensure that they are. They hate war and are otherwise reluctant to fight because they care about their people's well-being and want to minimize the harm done to them - even if that means waging war.

This is tends to be mostly seen as a Forgotten Trope in modern media, though it fluctuates depending on the time period and place. It still pops up occasionally (often subverting nationalist ideas of what makes someone patriotic, à la A Few Good Men, or the other attributes associated with patriotism, à la Forrest Gump). My Country, Right or Wrong usually tends to fall under here.

Patriotism is Bad

A patriot cares for their nation over their nation's people - they prize their loyalty to their nation above all else, and would do absolutely anything for it (however reluctantly or gladly). Nations have characteristics and worth of their own - individual people don't. Individual people, communities, and cultures are just disposable, unremarkable components of the nation - like the cells of a body. They aren't worthy of love and devotion like the nation is.

Their 'patriotism' comes from a devotion to their nation and its power, and a deep concern for its prestige at the expense of their own countrymen. They want their nation to be powerful and respected - and if push comes to shove they will gladly sacrifice their nation's people to ensure that it has them. They love war because they care about their nation's power and image and want to enhance them by any means - especially if that means waging war.

This is a common trope in modern media thanks to the apotheosis of nationalism in the 20th century and the enduring strength of nationalism to this day. It is usually played straight and embodied by such characters as the Sociopathic Soldier, Colonel Kilgore, or General Ripper. They are often a Tautological Templar who believes that the actions of their country are justified by virtue of being their country.

Patriotism is Good and Bad

Every now and then you get a mix, where the blowhard is genuinely loyal and commendable, despite his enthusiasm for wars with other peoples - though genocidal war-mongerers don't tend to feature in this category. On the other hand, the various strains of nationalism tend to lead writers to portray patriotism towards a certain state (i.e. their own) as good while patriotism towards all others is bad.

When done right, it can be respectful of other patriotisms and nationalism while providing a more nuanced take of the concept. Done poorly however, this can also be a source of Misplaced Nationalism and Flame Bait.

This basically becomes the Sliding Scale of Patriotism vs Jingoism.

These poles can and often do reflect the personal political philosophy of the writer (and, contrary to what the stereotypes would have one believe, being right-wing does not necessarily make one more jingoistic, nor does being left-wing necessarily make one less patriotic). We can observe, though, that there are sometimes direct relationships between the popularity of a war and the number of noble or oafish patriots portrayed, which leads to the idea that the trope is cyclic. The writer may just be putting up a character in response to the mood of the public. Of course, films like Lions For Lambs, which lambast the war they portray and yet were massive flops at the box office, provide a big counterpoint to that theory.

Regardless of the motives, the Super Patriot is often a General Ripper or the Hero of Another Story.

Captain Geographic often is like this.

It should be pointed out that this is far from being mainly an American idea, however, different cultures have different attitudes toward it. For example in British television, or in fact most other British media published after 1918, Patriotic Fervor is pretty much always an unsympathetic trait, usually played for laughs. Where the line is drawn between regular patriotism and fervor is also very different; what classifies as normal patriotism in the U.S. would be seen as jingoism among most Germans, for example.

See Misplaced Nationalism for the internet equivalent. See My Country, Right or Wrong for when someone allows Patriotic Fervor to convince themselves that aiding an evil leader is their "duty". See My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting for artists who criticize their own country. See also Propaganda Piece.


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Patriotism is Good

  • Half of the commercial spots for the Mexican beer Corona (Specially during any of the soccer tournaments that the Mexican soccer team plays) that are aired on national television. The other half consists on Scenery Porn with a dash of Patriotic Fervor.
  • Molson Canadian, who produced comercials like I Am Anthem and the ever-famous I Am Canadian.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors (1945), the first feature-length anime ever made, is a rah-rah wartime propaganda piece in which cuddly animals become paratroopers in the Imperial Japanese Navy. It was a sequel to short film Momotaro's Sea Eagles, in which cuddly animal IJN pilots blow the hell out of Pearl Harbor.
  • Daitetsu Kunikida from Blue Seed reeeeeaaaaally loves Japan.
  • Heroman (which is set in America). That's all that needs to be said, really.
  • The Legend of Koizumi is made of this trope, Mahjong, and insane amounts of Hot Blood.
  • Mobile Fighter G Gundam, being powered by the Captain Ethnic trope, has a few of these.
    • Chibodee Crockett is a one-man Eagle Land who sees himself as a personification of the American Dream. He wants to win the Gundam Fight to prove to all the downtrodden Americans stuck on Earth that they can make it too, and seeing Americans use cheap underhanded tactics is a Berserk Button for him.
    • George de Sand is a French knight in SPACE. His motivation for fighting (apart from the fight itself) is to bring honor and glory to France, he's dedicated himself to Princess Marie-Louise, and his family takes pride in still living on French soil rather than Neo-France's space colony.
  • Togo from Yuki Yuna Is a Hero is very patriotic about Japan, to the point where she carries a small flag around according to the visual novel. It's portrayed as an admirable, cute trait of hers.


  • Air Force One: This is a movie about the President of the United States played by Harrison Ford fighting off Russian hijackers on Air Force One and saving hostages.
  • 300: Only to be expected. After all, that was Sparta.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger: Puts less emphasis on Steve being a super-patriot and more on him being The Cape. He just wants to help people, and the costume and Hitler-punching persona is cooked up by a propaganda machine he'd be a lot happier without. The signs pointing to Steve's patriotism are mostly subtle, the most obvious one being his willingness to serve his country by any means, including the aforementioned propaganda. On the other hand, it's also mentioned that the Captain America persona did eventually grow on him. He also buys very heavily into the fixation with being the underdog that shows up a lot in American patriotism, so it's debatable.
  • Independence Day: The president is a handsome young fighter pilot who helps save the world and gives a Rousing Speech about July 4th being Independence Day for the entire world, after America Saved The Day.
  • Once upon a Time in Mexico: The end plays this straight, with the Mariachi saving the Mexican president, and the entire city fighting a military group attempting a coup.
  • Revolution (1967): This is going through the protesters, because one sign says "U.K. 51st State Of U.S.", and the U.K. would never willingly become a U.S.A. state.
  • Tiger Cruise: This Disney movie has lots of American patriotism, being a film about a US Navy Military Brat work experience event aboard an aircraft carrier. Incidentally, it also happens to be about 9/11.


    Live Action TV 
  • Stephen Colbert is as American as it gets. Artist Todd Lockwood described the page image (the art for a tragically rejected World of Warcraft TCG card) as "I am Captain America, and so can you!"
  • Most of the main characters from Babylon 5, although they are largely a group of ambassadors. While these are the more subtle and serious form, Clarke's supporters in the Earth civil war plot are very much the loud kind.
  • Sam the Eagle of The Muppet Show runs on this trope.
  • JAG: Backed by the Pentagon
  • Reality show Counting Cars is firmly in this camp; show star and shop owner Danny "The Count" Koker is the son of a Green Beret and is a huge supporter of the troops. He enjoys doing jobs for military causes, and will go all out on said projects.
  • One Hundred Greatest Britons: A TV show by the BBC to elect the most admirable Briton of all time was patriotic in nature.

  • Gottlieb's Spirit Of 76 is completely marinated in this trope. Justified as the pinball was released to celebrate the United States Bicentennial.
  • Similarly, Gottlieb's Rocky pinball is heavily decorated with the stars and stripes of the American flag, while the bumpers and targets are all red, white, or blue.
  • Evel Knievel, like the stuntman himself, is awash in patriotic red, white, and blue stars and stripes.
  • Bally's The Six Million Dollar Man is predominately red and blue, accented with a bevy of white stars and an assortment of jet fighters.
  • Harlem Globetrotters On Tour is awash in red, white, and blue stars and stripes.
  • There's a subdued version in Bally's Harley Davidson, which features a cross-country road trip with eagles and a U-S-A Spelling Bonus.
    • The third edition of the Stern Pinball Harley game has American flags in the playfield backgrounds.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The deeply patriotic American is a borderline Stock Character. Hulk Hogan in his prime, though, exemplified this trope. When the Hulkster left WWE in 1993, Lex Luger rather awkwardly took over his role as the All American Face.
  • The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff, whom he was Vitriolic Best Buds with, showed that this trope wasn't limited to American patriotism. (Volkoff eventually became quite fond of the U.S. as a result of his Heel-Face Turn, and ironically found himself opposed to all-American Badass Sgt Slaughter after Slaughter experienced a Face-Heel Turn and became an Iraqi sympathizer.)
  • Dennis Rivera of La Rabia in the World Wrestling League, a member of the Puerto Rico Nationalist Party whose very presence usually questions why Puerto Rican's don't rebel. He's one of the promotion's top faces and a third of their first tercias title holders(a trios champion, basically). Subverted when Carlito Caribbean Cool was in the promotion though, as the commentators only half heartedly supported him for being Boricua while otherwise favoring many of his foreign opponents such as La Parka Jr.

    Video Games 
  • Freedom Force - Minuteman and Liberty Lad are American-themed superheroes.
  • This trope is the backstory for the Korean characters of the Soul Series. Hwang and Yun-Seong are soldiers in the Imperial Navy seeking Soul Edge in order to fight Japan and prove their national superiority. Seong Mi Na is trying to prove that females can be as capable soldiers as male recruits.
  • Masakado for Shin Megami Tensei. He once was a samurai warlord who tried to overthrow the Emperor, and after his death, his spirit and devotion to the people proved so strong, he became a benevolent protector deity for the Tokyo area. The National Defense Divinities, a handful of Shinto gods, were likewise devoted enough to volunteer themselves into the local Kaiju Defense Force against invading demons.
  • In Time Crisis 4, Captain William Rush is the very patriotic sidekick of the two VSSE agents assigned to the mission. He is quite upset to find out that the terrorists are a rebellious U.S. military unit, and when he confronts one of their major figures, he lets his wrestling skills loose while he and his terrorist opponent exchange some pretty heated banter.

    Web Original 
  • Jib Jab studios released a video portraying President Barack Obama as a Superman-esque super-hero, and as such, filled it to the brim with Patriotic Fervor. The ending of the video in particular will make you want to salute the flag: Check it out here.
  • Matt of Two Best Friends Play loves to shout "America!" whenever he sees something patriotic. Or does something awesome. Or when he does something really stupid but thinks its awesome. This is despite the fact that he's actually a Canadian.

    Web Comics 
  • Shortpacked!'s Ronald Reagan has the ability to break the legs of shoplifters through patriotic fervor, which also makes him immune to bullets.

    Western Animation 

Patriotism is Bad

    Anime and Manga 

  • The difference in US and UK perceptions of apparent Patriotic Fervor is the reason why Captain Britain is pretty much unheard of in his 'home' country, considered equal parts sad and hilarious when people know he exists. Though this is likely due to the fact that his design (a strapping great big muscular guy emblazoned with the Union Flag) caters far more to the American tastes of what constitutes a hero. Brits far prefer their heroes a little more Byronic, cynical and witty — which is why home-grown James Bond and Sherlock Holmes have always been so well received and are the UK's counterpart of patriotic characters.
  • Parodied with "American Eagle" and "USA Patriot Act", two of the metaprodigies at PS238 school. As candidates to replace Freedom Fighter (the Captain America Expy of the PS238-verse) they constantly try to outdo each other in Patriotic Fervor, to the bemusement and annoyance of their teachers and classmates:
    American Eagle: Good citizens, can you lend a fellow American assistance? I'm in search of Mr. Alloy's classroom. I wish to further my education in science, so that I might contribute to the innovation that makes our country a leader in the quest for knowledge!


    Live Action TV 
  • The 3rd Rock from the Sun episode "Red, White, & Dick" centered on the aliens discovering patriotism. In an effort to be as American as possible, Sally, Tommy, and Harry looked over the Declaration of Independence. They latched onto the phrase "all men are created equal" and ended up creating a Does This Remind You of Anything? version of Commie Land. Meanwhile, Dick discovered that he was Canadian in his phony Earth identity and took the citizenship test (which is weird, since he was able to register to vote in the earlier episode "Dick the Vote").
  • House: When overseas job relocation comes up in a conversation between House, Adams and Parker in season 8, House dismisses patriotism with his usual cynicism:
    "Patriotism is nothing but loyalty to real estate. Real estate that's been conquered 800 times by 800 different regimes with 800 different cultures. But each time it's just the best."

  • "Waiting For The Worms" from Pink Floyd's The Wall has our protagonist use phrases like "would you like to see Britannia rule again, my friend? All you have to do is follow the worms!" to try to bring people over to his side. Keep in mind that, at this point, he's essentially a neo-Nazi skinhead.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • A FoxTrot strip had Paige claiming to be doing her Freedom homework (instead of "French homework"), to her mother's irritation.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Exaggerated with the Jerkass heel Kurt Angle, who was so patriotic that he wore a starred and striped singlet and insulted Canadian people; and darkly subverted with John Bradshaw Layfield, who merely exploited patriotism as a vehicle to seize power.
  • Rene Dupree showed French Patriotic Fervor during 2003-2004 (which, if you'll remember the current events going on at the time, was when there was a huge backlash against France due to their actively trying to undermine the invasion of Iraq). He was then joined by Rob Conway, an American turncoat "French sympathizer", forming the tag team La Resistance, and getting Heel heat not only from the fans but particularly Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler (despite Lawler being a heel, or at least a Jerk with a Heart of Gold).
    • A couple of years later, Sylvan Grenier - the third La Resistance member - became the self-appointed Ambassador of Quebec, a heel who kept telling people that Quebec was the best place in the world. This culminated in a Smackdown from Montreal, where he got massive cheers.
    • Both Dupree and Grenier are actually Canadian, and after a while (perhaps to mitigate hostility among fans in France) they were billed as French-Canadian jingoists. (For context, French-Canadians are often viewed by Anglo-Canadians with even more disdain than Mexican-Americans are viewed in the U.S.) Humorously, Rob Conway was also billed as a Canadian despite being from New Jersey.
  • Ashley America, a straw man reactionary wrestling pundit who denounces Valkyrie Women's Pro for violating American traditions like not hiring "natives" like Nyla Rose.

     Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Discussed by Chris Rock in Never Scared. He discusses how after 9/11 and at the start of the Iraq War, Americans were extremely patriotic, and there was "accepted racism" towards French and Arabs.
    Chris: Then they went to, "I'm American, I'm American, fuck all these illegal aliens!" Then I started listening, 'cause I know niggas and Jews is next!

    Tabletop Games 
  • The computer, some of the rebellions, and a lot of the players in Paranoia act on a twisted form of this trope.

    Video Games 
  • Fallout: New Vegas has Dr. Borous of the Old World Blues DLC, who like Liberty Prime has a psychotic hatred of communists. In his case however, it seems to be a mask for his petty hatred of a high school bully and a girl who rejected him.
  • The Soldier is often implied to suffer greatly from this in the Team Fortress 2 fandom. A number of his domination lines, though, cement his hilariously over the top jingoism. The fact that he has a grasp on reality that can charitably be described as 'tenuous' only makes it that much funnier.
    "Stars and Stripes beats Hammer and Sickle, LOOK IT UP." (Upon dominating the Heavy, a Russian)
    "America wins again!" (When dominating the German Medic)
    "Your white flag does not stop American bullets." (Dominating the Spy, presumably French)
  • The Jack Howitzer commercials in Grand Theft Auto's radio. All of them satirical over-the-top parody jingoism.
    Howitzer: I'm an American! AND YOU'RE NOT! SO F***ING DIE!

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • On one episode of Family Guy, Peter is swept up in a wave of pro-Americanism that ultimately leads to a crusade against immigrants, of which he, naturally, turns out to be one.
    Peter (wearing a suit made of an American flag: This is how a patriot dresses.
    Stewie: You look like the Statue of Liberty's pimp.
  • Major Glory the Superhero from Dexter's Laboratory who is a parody of Captain America and Superman.
  • The Simpsons parodied this mercilessly in "Bart-Mangled Banner".
  • And let's not get into American Dad!.

Mixed or Unclassifiable

  • Parodied in this ad for the Carl's Jr. Most american Thickburger which is seen being eaten by an all-American model wearing a Flag Bikini, lounging in a hot tub in the back of a flag-painted pickup driven by a bull-rider...on an aircraft carrier, by Lady liberty...all while "America the Beautiful" plays in the background.

     Anime & Manga 
  • America of Axis Powers Hetalia is filled with Patriotic Fervor and a passion for freedom and justice. But while it often makes him Innocently Insensitive and arrogant, it's also made clear that America acts this way because he genuinely believes his nation is good, and doesn't mean any harm by it.
    • Of course, all the Nation-tans of Hetalia feel this way about their countries, since they are their counties; America is just the most open about it.

    Comic Books 
  • While good ol' Captain America was originally conceived as essentially propaganda, over the years he's been developed and deconstructed in enough ways to remain sympathetic to foreigners and internationalists.
    • Many of his contemporary counterparts like the U.S. Agent tend to represent the more extreme side of this trope.
  • Parodied in PS238: The universe's local Captain Patriotic is getting up in the years, and both the Democratic and Republican party wants his successor to adhere to their party line. Thus, they push their own candidates, both of whom constantly try to out-patriotic the other on-screen. Did we mention both of said candidates are in primary school and none of their classmates understand anything of what they're doing?
  • Played with in Power & Glory: A-Pex is an all-American Flying Brick hero with blonde hair, boyish good looks, and is an Ideal Hero — but it's all a manufactured persona by the US government as a product of nationalist fantasy.


  • In Jingo the nobles of Ankh-Morpork have an army consisting of officers with no experience leading troops with no training, yet they expect it to take no more than a day to defeat an army several times larger with years of experience. There's also little old ladies who try to shame the city's police officers for not abandoning their posts to join the army. The set-up is more than slightly reminiscent of the popular image of World War I. The book takes its name from the rhyme (quoted in the book itself) that gave us the word "jingoism".
    • Reg Shoe is another example from Discworld. In fact, when he actually GETS involved in a Revolution (in which nobody pays any attention to him), in the final battle that is the climax of Night Watch, Reg Shoe is killed by several crossbow bolts. His revolutionary fervor is so great that this doesn't stop him, and he only gets more enthusiastic as a zombie.
  • Skippy's List has examples:
    26. Never tell a German soldier that "We kicked your ass in World War 2!"

    Live Action TV 
  • Major Frank Burns on M*A*S*H was the quintessence of this trope. His Movie version adds religious arrogance to the mix.
    • Colonel Flagg (U.S. Army Counter-Intelligence Division), embodies a jingoistic, paranoid, "Americans are God" straw patriotism that is both funny and deeply disturbing at the same time.
      • During The Fifties it would not have been entirely unrealistic or entirely Straw to find Flagglike individuals in such a role. And in several other decades as well. And in Real Life they're even more disturbing.
    • In contrast, Colonel Potter's patriotism is unquestionable, serious, and very downplayed. It's also proven by the fact he's on his third war, and still faithfully serving despite being old enough to have retired.


    Professional Wrestling 
  • In 2005, Christian wanted to be drafted from Raw to Smackdown because Smackdown had Americans, Mexicans, Japanese and Frenchmen but it had no Canadians.

  • American Patriotic Fervor was the theme of the musical Strike Up the Band, which had the U.S. starting a war with Switzerland over either cheese or chocolate.
  • George M. Cohan's name was once all but synonymous with American Patriotic Fervor.
  • In the number "A Healthy, Normal American Boy" from Bye Bye Birdie, Patriotic Fervor is one device employed to avoid having to honestly answer questions about Conrad Birdie. His fan clubs also pledge their allegiance "to Conrad Birdie and the United States of America, both indivisible with liberty and justice for all."

    Video Games 
  • While travelling through Bohemia in Darklands, your party may encounter a group of Hussite rebels. When they identify your heroes as ethnic Germans, things may get very violent very soon, although, typically for the game, there are several options to avoid bloodshed if you can use certain skills or a saintly intervention.
  • Metal Wolf Chaos: President Wilson covers both poles: he's apparently convinced he can do anything because he's the American president, but uses this power to single-handedly defend his country's BURNING FREEDOM!!! which is universally badass. Apparently, the Japanese think Americans defeat their enemies through hot blooded Patriotism!
  • Street Fighter's Zangief is the poster boy for this trope. AND MOTHER RUSSIA!!
    • Guile is a subversion. He gives off this vibe, but only makes a couple of quotes about being a man and nothing about being an American. He has an American flag tattoo to mirror patches worn on soldier uniforms, and his backstory is all about finding a missing friend from the military, as opposed to Zangief who usually fights FOR RUSSIA.
  • Played with in the case of Ulysses of Fallout: New Vegas. In the Old World Blues DLC, you can hear him speak of how he still believes in America despite having been wiped out two centuries ago and his most distinctive physical trait is his jacket with the Fallout setting's version of the stars and stripes. In Lonesome Road however, it's shown that he has a disdain for all the major factions of the Mojave and plans to wipe them out using the nukes of The Divide. Nonetheless, it seems that while he is a devoted patriot, he has no "homeland" to devote himself to, having long since deserted Caesar's Legion and having his would-be home ending up destroyed by the unwitting hands of the Courier.
  • "Skyrim is for the Nords!"
  • The Boss from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, despite all that's happened to her in service of the US Government, remains loyal to America. Both out of genuine love of country and a desire to bring the divided world together.

    Web Comics 
  • Scandinavia and the World:
    • Inverted with modern day Germany, who's afraid to wave his flag too much for fear of his people becoming too prideful (because bad things happen), and even freaked out when he realized his shirt was a flag.
    • This is played straight with the main Scandinavian trio, though, since they see the flags as a symbol of joy and happiness, and like waving them around for their birthdays. Or in this case Germany's.
    • Taken to extremes with America, who has been shown to distrust every single other country. Even his own hat.
  • Parodied in the last panel of this strip of Curtailed.

    Western Animation 
  • The South Park episode Osama Bin Laden Has Farty Pants pokes fun at Osama bin Laden throughout most of the episode, but it also satirizes the paranoid atmosphere of the War of Terror and shows that the Afghans are mad at the USA because US air forces build their military bases on Muslim Holy Ground. Yet in the end the children do salute a miniature American flag.

...In America!

Alternative Title(s):

Patriotic Fervour, Refuge In Patriotism