Private Cole: Why is it us? Why us?
Colour Sergeant Bourne
: Because we're 'ere, lad. Nobody else. Just us.
Sergeant Rock is a tough non-commissioned officer (NCO), usually serving in a position of leadership. The naval equivalent is the Bosun, which usually fills the same role on a ship.
Named for the DC Comics
character who first appeared in 1958. Rock served in the European Theater of Operations, was known for keeping his head in the ugliest situations, and for growling a lot of gung-ho sound bites
. His page is here
Sergeant Rock is what The Neidermeyer
dreams he is. However, Sergeant Rock differs from The Neidermeyer
in that he may be a bully and a blowhard, but he gets the job done while never
ordering his troops to do anything he would not be willing to do himself, and thus the troops respect him, while not necessarily being too fond of him personally. Also, unlike the Neidermeyer, even if he'd never tell them
he usually cares deeply about the soldiers he's in charge of
If The Squad
is only the size of a squad, he may be the man in charge. Otherwise, he's either helping Ensign Newbie
learn the ropes, or making sure whatever Colonel Badass
needs done gets
done (sometimes both). Either way, he's usually a lot rougher around the edges than the officer he serves under
. Whatever the situation, you can be sure Sergeant Rock is right in the middle of the firefight, whatever the odds, and whatever ordnance is being tossed around.
Has a very, very
high chance of being Made of Iron
and also a badass
Compare Drill Sergeant Nasty
. The Stern Teacher
is more or less the civilian version. Is the military specific version of The Reliable One
This archetype is indeed Truth in Television
, and many Real Life
military forces actively encourage this kind of behavior and personality.
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Anime and Manga
- Full Metal Panic!: Sagara Sousuke. Along with being a Drill Sergeant Nasty. Despite being a pretty harsh and sadistic teacher, he does get remarkably good results. Just look at the transformation of the whole army of girly rugby players. He's an even more effective teacher than Gauron, despite Gauron having actually been a reputable and respectable AS instructor at a camp. Sousuke's coaching of Kaname actually managed to make it so that she could best Yu Lan, the assassin that was trained since childhood by Gauron to be a merciless killer.
- Combat Instructor Captain Nanoha Takamachi of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. Don't be fooled by the girly title; Nanoha can and will vaporize anything in her way, and she expects you to do the same, no excuses. She's respected by her entire unit because they know all their harsh training is because she wants them to be the strongest.
- Lieutenant Natarle Badgiruel - in spirit if not rank - from Gundam SEED, as a foil to the Cool Big Sis / Team Mom Captain Murrue Ramius.
- Hiruma from Eyeshield 21 acts like one to his team. He may be a serious jerkass that his teammates fear, but they all genuinely respect him and are genuinely loyal to him.
- Batou and the Major can be pretty strict on their subordinates in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex but really care about them and do everything they can to protect them.
- Lady Une from Gundam Wing, is called the Iron Lady for her stern and cold demeanor. However, she makes a few questionable decisions (such as holding the space colonies hostage in order to defeat the Gundams), causing her beloved commander Treize to encourage her to "act more gracefully". This causes her to develop a Split Personality which is a Proper Lady whose one goal is to serve Treize; by the end of the series she resolves the personality conflict and combines the competence with the kindness to become A Mother to Her Men.
- Sergeant Knox of the space marines in Star Blazers / Space Battleship Yamato.
- Shining Armor assumes this role in Shell Shock. He's heavily implied to be special forces of some kind.
- Telny has this role in Racer And The Geek. Out of all the mercenaries, he's one of the more aggressive and skilful ones.
- In Slipping Between Worlds. junior British army officer Philip Holtack meets a lot of sergeants, both on Roundworld and on the Discworld, and finds himself concluding that however they differ in appearance, aptitude, applied life skills and personal inclination, they are all, without exception, chips off Sergeant Rock. Even, in his own personal way, Sergeant Fred Colon.
- The plot of Old Soldiers Never Die is touched off when Harry ends up asking for help from a group of these-cum-retirees who collectively come up with a way to remove the 'retiree' from their titles, and give Harry the authority to back it.
Film - Animated
Film - Live Action
- Sgt. Apone from Aliens is practically the trope codifier.
- Tom Sizemore's Sergeant Horvath from Saving Private Ryan. His reaction to being shot twice is "I just got the wind knocked outta' me, I'm fine."
- Barnes in Platoon - at least to most of the platoon. Even the Heads respect (and fear) his abilities, even if they want him dead.
- Sgt Maj Basil Plumley, from We Were Soldiers, potrayed by Sam Elliott. Straight Up Badass with his .45 Automatic (which he carried because he felt the new, plastic M-16 to be unproven compared to his previous, much more solid-feeling weapons.)
Sgt. Savage: "G'mornin', Sergeant Major."
"How do you know what kind of goddamn day it is?"
Sgt. Savage: "Beautiful mornin', Sergeant Major."
"What are you, a fucking weather man now?"
Col. Moore: "I think you oughta get yourself an M-16."
"Sir, the time comes I need one, they'll be plenty lying on the ground."
Plumley: *standing in the middle of a hail of bullets* "Can't take no pictures from down there, sonny."
Galloway: "Sir, I'm a non-combatant."
"Ain't no such thing, today."
Plumley: *after all the fighting is done* "Now, that's a nice day, Sergeant Savage."
- Sgt Foley from An Officer and a Gentleman.
- After learning the ropes from his Drill Sergeant Nasty instructor, Carl Brashear goes on to become a Naval Master Diver and reaches the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer in Men of Honor.
- Sergeant Major Rawlins, played by Morgan Freeman, in the 1989 movie Glory.
- In Heartbreak Ridge, Gunnery Sergeant Tom Highway played by Clint Eastwood is made of this trope.
- The unnamed Sergeant played by Lee Marvin in The Big Red One.
- Staff Sergeant Nantz in Battle: Los Angeles.
- Sgt. (later Lt.) David Manning in When Trumpets Fade is a radical deconstruction of this trope. He's definitely cool under fire, and he leads his squad of very green replacements to victory. Of course, he's also a Dirty Coward who tends to get his men killed saving his own hide when he's not shooting them in the back himself.
- Big Joe (Telly Savalas) from Kellys Heroes is a veteran sergeant who's got de facto leadership of his platoon thanks to the captain being a lazy idiot who spends more time profiteering than leading. Unlike the captain, Big Joe has earned every ounce of respect he gets from his men.
- John Styker (John Wayne) in Sands Of Iwo Jima (and about any other war movie John Wayne made).
- Kevin Costner is this in The Guardian. He is a Petty Officer training rescue swimmers for the Coast Guard. He is something of a Drill Sergeant Nasty and believes in The Spartan Way, but that is because he is a perfectionist about saving lives. He is also Tough But Fair and very much Married to the Job.
- Sykes from Oblivion (2013) . Complete with one-liners, Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique, and Big Damn Heroes moment.
- Duke from G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
- 'Sarge' from Doom (Played by Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson) is an inversion - he starts out the most respected member of the crew but gradually steers his team towards immoral actions and is eventually infected by the monsters.
- Sgt Kinnie (James Whitmore) in Battleground
- Pretty much every sergeant in the McAuslan series. But particularly Regimental Sergeant-Major Mackintosh, who served twelve years in the Scots Guards and then in the Commandos during WWII, and is utterly unflappable.
- 1st Sgt. Welsh in The Thin Red Line, although several other NCOs (e.g. Bell) qualify as well.
- Literary example: In the later Discworld novels, Detritus the troll becomes the drill sergeant in charge of training new troops, also notable because Detritus is literally made of rock.
- Played Straight with Sergeant Jackrum in the Discworld novel Monstrous Regiment. While Corporal Strappi (The Neidermeyer and The Political Officer) bullies the weaker members of the squad, Jackrum is protective of them, while pushing the ones
he she thinks will push back, at the same time making sure Lt. Blouse (Ensign Newbie) gives the right orders.
- Also from Discworld, Sergeant-at-Arms John Keel/Commander Sam Vimes in Night Watch.
- When Vimes isn't standing in for his dead commanding officer in order to repair the timeline, he's more of a Colonel Badass. Vimes' Battle Butler, Willikins, definitely fits the trope, though, when he joins the military in Jingo.
- In the later Sharpe books, Patrick Harper takes on this role. Interestingly averted when Sharpe himself attained the rank - he spent his days as a Sergeant as an armory assistant in Seringapatam, then an intelligence officer' adjutant, and then as part of Arthur Wellesley's staff. He fits this trope in all but rank later on.
- "Jelly" Jelal of Starship Troopers was a sergeant and fit the trope of getting the job done, whether the troops liked him personally or not.
- Sgt. Zim also counts, once he takes to the field and captures the Brain Bug.
- From the Starfist series of books, Hammer Schultz is a perfect example.
- May be a subversion, since Schultz is a Lance Corporal.
- Gunnery SGT Bass is a more appropriate persona for SGT rock.
- Honor Harrington positively revels in this trope, with many examples, including the one of the most memorable Sergeant Rocks around — Sir Horace Harkness.
- In the Phule's Company series, there's a sergeant who literally changed his name, appearance and accent just to emulate the perfect British Sergeant-Major— and he's not even British.
- The Mercenary and its sequels, set in the CoDominium universe, has Sergeant Major Calvin, right-hand man to soldier-turned-mercenary Colonel Badass John Christian Falkenberg.
- Death Star has Master Chief Petty Officer Tenn Graneet, head gunner on the Death Star, was like this to his men. He wasn't a bad boss at all provided that they did their jobs well.
- Wedge Antilles might be softer than most examples on this page, being Mildly Military and a Reasonable Authority Figure who will handily forget regulations and rules if it's in someone's best interest. Even so, to the Ragtag Band of Misfits on their Last-Second Chance who he forms into Wraith Squadron, he can at times be extremely cruel. He berates and scorns Kell Tainer for cowardice and folding up when people need him; cuts down Tyria Sarkin for attacking another pilot; all but taunts Castin Donn for being uneasy around nonhumans; mocks Myn Donos. It actually helps them shape up, and the same people he's cruelest to, when they make the effort, he is extremely protective. He looks out for them.
- Dale Brown books have Ranger Sergeant Major Ray Jefferson and Marine Corps now-Master Sergeant Chris Wohl, who won't take any nonsense from their officers.
- Colonel TR Steele of the Tour of the Merrimack series. Not kind, not polite, but definitely the person you want watching your back when fighting a Horde of Alien Locusts.
- Gretchen was something of a Sergeant Rock to the other camp followers in 1632.
- Valiar Marcus from Codex Alera is a somewhat odd example of this trope, because In addition to being an experienced centurion and managing to be given "Valiant" as his actual legal name, he's also Fidelius Ex Cursori, a spy.
- Jubal Branch in the Company Z series by J.T. Edson.
- And Billy Jack from the Civil War series.
- Alaric the Grey Knight is promoted after the first novel, but he starts as Justicar — their analog of Sergeant. He is little bit more low-key than the trope's standard too. While he gets to be Acting Brother-Captain at the end of the first book, afterwards he is returned to the rank of Justicar. This was because the higher ups distrusted his unusually imaginative and curious mind.
- Gaunt's Ghosts:
- Major Rawne is an officer, but fulfills the trope perfectly: he is a ruthless and manipulative bastard who has told his commanding officer (a Colonel Badass) to his face that he intends to kill him, turns his top subordinate into an even more ruthless killing machine, and ran a black market before joining the Imperial Guard, yet is highly respected by his subordinates and his squad is considered one of the Ghosts' deadliest units.
- Most of the Ghosts fit this trope to some extent. Corbec, despite being a Colonel, is well loved by the men and is always in the thick of the fighting. Other's who fit the trope are pretty much any of the Sergeants (Especially Mkoll) and most of the captains (especially Kolea).
- Staff Sergeant (later Gunnery Sergeant) Torin Kerr of the Confederation of Valor series lives, breathes, eats and excretes this trope. An excellent example of the trope, as the first book has her being a Sergeant Rock not just to her subordinates, but also to a newly minted second lieutenant assigned as her superior.
- Earl Swagger from Stephen Hunter's novels served with distinction in the United States Marines during WWII and won the Medal of Honor for his heroism. He then returns to civilian life and becomes an Arkansas State Trooper, where he continues his tradition of badass antics.
- Sergeant Breckenridge from the Tom Clancy novel Patriot Games, a United States Marine who serves as the firing range instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Live Action TV
- I pity these pretenders! Sergeant B.A. Baracus is THE real example, FOOL!
- Sgt. Chip saunders (Vic Morrow) in Combat
- Sergeant Major Jonas Blaine, NCOIC of Alpha Team, The Unit.
- Master Sergeant Ronald Greer is rapidly on his way to becoming this in Stargate Universe.
- In The Pacific, Sgt. John Basilone fits this trope, but not as much as badass Sgt. Elmo 'Gunny' Haney.
- Firefly: Malcolm Reynolds during the Battle for Serenity Valley. While a milder version of this trope, he wasn't very kind to his men at all during the battle. He did nothing to alleviate their despair at the grim future that awaited them, and he verbally berated at least a few of his men, but they still all followed him to the end, for the most part. That being said, due to Independent High Command being taken prisoner/killed he wound up with four thousand men under his command. As a sergeant.
- Staff Sergeant (later Sergeant First Class) Zeke Anderson inTour of Duty, especially in the first few episodes.
- Colour Sergeant Anderson in Soldier, Soldier was an early role for Robert Glenister - later the non-nonsense old-school policeman in Lifeon Mars.
- Plenty of these guys appear in minor roles on JAG. Not suprising considering the fact that the creator and showrunner was a former Marine.
- Gunnery Sgt. Victor Galindez is an example of a recurring character on the show who exhibits this trope. Both in the office and after he requests a transfer back to combat duty post-9/11.
- Buffer and Duchy from Sea Patrol are the ships Bosuns.
- Warhammer 40,000 has them in droves — after all, while the usual modus operandi of Imperium's armed forces in We Have Reserves, the world around is so dangerous that you need NCOs to keep their heads level.
- Gunnery Sergeant Harker of the Catachan Devils is one tough bastard, known for hauling around a Heavy Bolter that he calls "Payback".
- Colour Sergeant Jerran Kell of the Cadian 8th serves as the loyal bodyguard of Lord Castellan Ursarkar Creed and makes sure that the men under the Castellan's command obey his orders to the letter.
- Ironhand Straken of the Catachan 2nd is a Colonel, but has the demeanor and attitude down pat. So far, in fact, that he provides the bulk of the page quotes.
- The Tau Empire's Cadre Fireblades tend to be Sergeant Rocks. They are high ranked Fire Warriors who declined the chance to pilot Battlesuits, usually either because they understand the practicality of having a commander fight with the infantry or simply because they prefer to continue to fight with the lower ranked Fire Warriors.
- The Tau special character Darkstrider is similar. He's certainly brave and talented, and has a long list of battlefield successes attributed to him, but he refuses to move beyond the rank of a Pathfinder team leader. Given the Fire Caste's views on tradition and deference to authority, this is grounds for insubordination and termination, but because he's so good at what he does, they overlook it and allow him to stay in his unit.
- Sgt. Major Johnson, of Halo, revels in this trope. A little-known video of him introducing the audience to Halo: Combat Evolved at its release party in Chicago gives a pretty good indication of his personality:
: "Alright all you greenhorns, listen up! My name is Sergeant Johnson. When you are not in my presence you can call me anything your degenerate hearts desire, assuming your tiny brains can string together a couple of cuss-words. But while I'm here, you will address me as 'Sir, yes sir!'"
- For his full resume, click here.
- The Master Chief qualifies as well — 'Master Chief Petty Officer' and 'Sergeant Major' are the same pay grade. One's just Navy, and the other Army or Marines.
- Though people who've only played the games would know the Master Chief as more of a One-Man Army, he's shown in the Expanded Universe to be a capable leader (in fact, he's the de-facto leader of most of the Spartan-IIs).
- There's also the lesser-known Sgt. Stacker during the first game - a milder-mannered counterpart to Johnson who can be identified by his soft cap instead of a proper helmet. But he can think of some pretty funny insults against bad guys.
- Stacker actually survives through all three games (along with the Australian Chips Dubbo), and another sergeant who shows up in the third game, Reynolds. Stacker even makes a brief appearance in Video Game/Halo4.
- Sergeant Forge from Halo Wars. His men all say "He's the guy you'd want next to you in a foxhole, but you'd never introduce him to your sister." He even uses an Energy Sword to kill an Arbiter.
- Captain Narville from Killzone 2 has a zero tolerance for negativity, but he is respected by his men who knows he takes great risks, and would never ask them to do anything he wouldn't do himself.
- Captain Price of Call of Duty fame, especially in 4. He may be a jerk, but he cares about his troops, and you have to respect a man with a mustache like that.
- In the sequel, there's Sgt. Foley, is willing to put himself and his squad at risk to get the job done. In one instance, he disobeys a retreat order so that they could continue to cover evacuating civilians.
- The third one also has Sandman, a Master Sergeant. He leads his team with great skill and courage, and his men have undying respect for him. Like Foley above, he also refuses a retreat order and insists on continuing the mission.
- The first game (and its expansion) has a textbook example in Sgt. Moody, who spends every minute of screentime calming panicking privates, bawling out cowardly medics and performing minor miracles at Captain Foley's request.
- Matilda in Last Scenario, a rare female example.
- The Soldier in Team Fortress 2, although he does not necessarily lead either team. He also (mis)quotes and highly reveres Sun Tzu, which should probably qualify him for Cultured Warrior as well.
- He's also got elements of the General Ripper (violent and paranoid), Colonel Kilgore ("This is not a camping trip, Sheila! This is war, AND I LOVE IT!"), and of course, the Sociopathic Soldier ("I am going to enjoy killing each and every one of you sorry sacks of scum!")
- Musaad, the bonus squad member from Valkyria Chronicles. His ego is considerable, but the guy is a legend for a reason.
- Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark: Although he isn't a sergeant by rank, Onslaught leads the five Combaticons by assertively issuing his orders to his men. And they listen, not just because they don't have a better combat plan of their own, but because that his orders usually wins the battle.
- Sgt. Rita Torres in Exo Squad.
- Duke from G.I. Joe.
- In The Simpsons episode "Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in 'The Curse of the Flying Hellfish'", Grandpa Simpson is portrayed as a Sergeant Rock; the DVD commentary even notes that World War II-era Abe Simpson was directly based on the Trope Namer.
- Though he was underused as such, Ironhide from Transformers (the original) was intended as this kind of character. It shows on occasion.
- Captain Rex on the CG Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie and series, especially in the 1st season episode "Rookies".
- Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles version of Zim fit this mold (The film and novel versions were rather different characters).
- Gunnery Sergeant Jackson from v4 of Open Blue. Considering he and his squad had to keep up with a sword-tossing Warrior Monk and a highly agile Tyke Bomb armed with a Sinister Scythe blessed with elemental lightning, he's pretty Badass Normal indeed.
- Sarge from Red vs. Blue is a walking parody of this trope. He seems more concerned with keeping up the appearance of this than actually accomplishing anything, and his competence is directly proportional to how closely his situation parallels how he thinks warfare should go (which is not often.) Claims to have been personally trained by Sgt. Avery J. Johnson (listed above under Video Games.)
- Character development late in the eighth season brings him a fair bit closer to playing this trope straight, though.
- Agent Washington is currently serving as this for the Blue Team. Trying his best to mold them into a fighting force with something resembling discipline.
- Cry Havoc's Karcharoth is The Stoic outside of battle, but changes distinctly into a Sergeant Rock when the lead starts flying.
- The late General Esteban from A Loonatic's Tale was such an outstanding military officer in general that, even though he lacked the capacity to address his men in any tone but "enraged bellow", he was beloved and well-respected by the men and women under his command, and in death is well-regarded by both sides of a bitter war during which he served.
- Sgt. Schlock in Schlock Mercenary can be this. Sure, he's an ultra-violent and borderline sociopathic Man Child, but he's also utterly cool under fire, a sound tactician, a skilled fighter, and an excellent battlefield leader. Even though Tagon usually assigns an officer to (barely) keep him under control, once the shooting starts they inevitably follow Schlock's lead. Almost the entire arc of "Massively Parallel" had characters asking, "What would Schlock do?"
- Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller, the legendary United States Marine Corps officer whose service would take him from Haiti and Nicaragua, to the bloody Pacific in World War 2, to the frozen hell of the Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War. He would earn five Navy Crosses for his service and is, to this day, considered the greatest Marine to have ever lived. Known for the famous line: "We've been looking for the enemy for some time now. We've finally found him. We're surrounded. That simplifies things." Once he became an officer, he more than qualified as a Colonel Badass, and later, when he became a Marine Corps general, a Four-Star Badass. He is very much a Memetic Badass among the Corps and is the example all Marines aspire to.
- Another example from the United States Marine Corps would be Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock, who served as a sniper in the Vietnam War (who in addition to being a Sergeant Rock was also a Friendly Sniper). During the war he had 93 confirmed kills (although the actual number is estimated to be much higher, with some estimates running in the 200-300 range) and even participated in a highly dangerous mission deep behind enemy lines that resulted in him successfully killing a North Vietnamese general. The North Vietnamese were so scared of him that they nicknamed him "the White Feather" (due to his practice of keeping a white feather in the brim of his boonie cap) and placed a large bounty on his head. His career in the Marine Corps ended when a vehicle he was riding in hit an anti-tank mine. Hathcock heroically pulled 7 marines out of the burning vehicle, while himself receiving horrific burns that would permanently disable him. Today he is regarded as a legend in the Marine Corps, and much of the USMC Sniper Training doctrine is based on examples set by him.
- Even more awesome is the fact that when the NVA sent out their best sniper to collect Hathcock's head, Hathcock killed him! With a Scope Snipe.
- The members of Napoleon Bonaparte's "Old Guard" could all be considered a Sergeant Rock. These were men who had spent almost two decades of their lives following Napoleon across all of Europe and kicking the ass of anyone who got in their beloved General's way. Their sheer fighting abilities, loyalty, and veteran status were so respected by Napoleon that they were one of the few military units whose members could openly complain in his presence without rebuke. This led to them being known as Les Grognards (The Grumblers). They could also be considered an example of the Badass Army.
- This is the policy for unit commanders in the Israeli army. The head of the unit is the first guy in and the last guy out.
- A Troperiffic, although Real Life example: Sergeant Max Wolff Filho was a WWII Brazilian Sgt. Rock, down to the gung-ho sound bites. His last known words (to a soldier who asked him for a knife) "Krauts aren't fowl". This was 17 days before V-E day, no less. Still, it was probably his own fault that he didn't quite managed to be the last casualty in the ETO; he should have known better than to speak about returning home to his little daughter. For his deeds, not only was the Brazilian Army's Sergeants' School (among others) named after him, but also a Distinguished Service medal for Sergeants and Ensigns.