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This is after he just shot her mother first.
Trombley: Sergeant, I didn't get to shoot.
Ray: That fucking sucks, Trombley. Did your recruiting officer tell you you could just shoot anyone?
Fuckin' A he did.
The grunt version of Insane Admiral
(and sometimes Colonel Kilgore
or General Ripper
). Often people below the rank of Sergeant are all around assholes
who plunder, rape
, and massacre civilians
, or brutally torture and murder the hero's comrades, making killing them less guilt-causing.
These generally come in four flavors:
- First, the kind who are swept up in Patriotic Fervor or similar and are doing it because they're convinced their cause gives them the right to be as brutal as they please (racism, fantastic or otherwise might be involved). They might think the enemy genuinely are scum who deserve whatever is visited on them (or slightly more likely, they will not believe/not care about this but use it as an excuse anyway).
- Then there's the second kind, the Psycho for Hire who just joined up for the plunder, rape and massacring of civilians and doesn't care whose banner they're doing it under. If he wasn't in the army he'd be a Serial Killer.
- The third kind is your regular neighborhood boy who has been conscripted into the army, has absolutely no interest in war, hates it all and has only his own personal survival at stake. He's nothing but Cannon Fodder and he knows it—with nothing to gain from the fighting, the knowledge that he is expendable tips him over the edge into madness. This kind hates everybody, including his own officers, though it's the enemy civillians who will likely bear the brunt of his wrath. Expect lots of Rape, Pillage, and Burn; Fragging incidents may occur.
- Finally there's the fourth kind; he was a Nice Guy at one time, just trying to take care of his buddies and protect his home - but then he saw something that broke him inside, and now he just wants to get things done as efficiently as possible. This would be the Shell-Shocked Veteran, and he's a lot more dangerous than the other three - he's neither stupid, crazy, or angry, just pragmatic.
If there's a whole bunch of them, expect an Insane Admiral
, Colonel Kilgore
, or General Ripper
Occasionally the rest of the soldiers will be relatively sympathetic but one of these will be the Token Evil Teammate
Contrast Officer and a Gentleman
and Cultured Warrior
. Compare with the more mercenary Psycho for Hire
. Compare and contrast Shell-Shocked Veteran
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Anime and Manga
- In Watchmen , the Comedian shoots a pregnant woman to death while serving in Vietnam without a hint of remorse. And it was his baby.
- The Comedian then immediately calls out Dr. Manhattan for not doing anything to stop him despite being all-powerful. From his perspective, Dr. Manhattan is a sociopathic soldier. This has spawned MANY fanfics where Dr. Manhattan teleported the baby to X.
- Deconstructed in the Two Fisted Tales short story "Kill!", set in the Korean War. On the American side we have have Abner, who continuously sharpens his knife and can't wait to gut some Chinese, while in the Chinese camp we meet Li, who obsessively polishes his submachine gun and compares it to a beautiful woman. In the end, they meet in the field, mortally wound each other and both die unceremoniously.
- Shooting War had one of these who was also The Fundamentalist.
- In Sin City, Marv briefly mentions fighting in a war. It's possible that this could be one of the reasons for his mental state.
- Also oddly averted with Wallace. Given Sin City's penchant for violent heroes, Wallace is a former Navy SEAL, yet is one of the nicest characters in the series.
- Captain Atom and Green Lantern villain Major Force was already serving a life sentence in a military prison, before being used as a test subject for a Super Soldier experiment. The end result? Turning a remorseless psychotic murderer into a Person of Mass Destruction.
- Nuke from Daredevil: Born Again is a product of an attempt at making another Captain America. He's a Super Soldier with heightened reflexes, drug-fuelled rage, and hardened plastic under his skin. He's also totally off his rocker, thinks he's still fighting The Vietnam War, and will slaughter anyone he thinks is threatening "our boys"; his gun keeps a count of his kills.
- In Route 666, Berkely went to war just to sate his bloodthirst - when the war ended, he became a serial killer instead. He wanted to team up with Cassie just so he could kill with a fairly clean conscience again.
- Suicida, leader of the Gang Green in Marshal Law. Like most "superheroes" in the setting, including Law himself, he and his fellow gang members are disaffected veterans of the catastrophic South American war known as "the Zone". He was trained to kill in the most brutal fashion imaginable, and resents the idea that his violent nature can somehow be turned on and off like a faucet. He wears a necklace of human ears and just wants to hurt everything he sees. Law doesn't like Suicida, but doesn't blame him for his feelings or his behavior, since very few Zone veterans are doing much better.
- Sergeant Shining Armor from Shell Shock is a terrifying example of one of these. He doesn't care. He doesn't relent. He doesn't apologize. He just wants blood. He doesn't care who bleeds.
- From the third verse of John Denver's Stonehaven Sunset:
- One of the numerous dysfunctional soldiers mentioned in Tom Lehrer's song It makes a fella proud to be a Soldier is Bill. He stabbed a cop in seventh grade, and joined the Army because they'd give him better weapons than he could get on the street. He's described as "real RA material". Although, given his platoon is lead by a Georgian ex-con, he probably is.
- The End of the Thirty Years War by Jacek Kaczmarski epitomizes this trope in extremely graphic way.
- Elite Agent Rotor in Dino Attack RPG. When he's not mercilessly blowing his enemies to kingdom come, we see him threatening to execute his own men and torturing prisoners.
- Ronald E. Army is a somewhat darkly comedic version which combines this with Drill Sergeant Nasty. Of course nobody really takes him seriously and, considering his inspiration is clearly insane.
- The sample group, "Bad Company" from the New World Of Darkness sourcebook, Dogs Of War, are a bunch of Shell Shocked Veterans deployed to Afghanistan, led by Colonel Kane. Having had his heart cut out by a Taliban sorcerer, Kane has thrown the rulebook away in the interest of tracking down the sorcerer... and, incidentally, killing every Afghani who gets in his way. Several other examples are given (especially that one Chechen resistance group), but Bad Company are the standouts. If you're playing a military setting and don't alter your Morality accordingly, it's very easy for any Soldier character to fall into this.
- Pretty much every Ork, Dark Eldar, and follower of Chaos (especially Slaanesh worshipers) in Warhammer 40000. The rest are either Knights Templar, Scary Dogmatic Aliens, the Tyranids, or the Imperial Guard. And those who qualify among the Guard are usually borderline examples of Training from Hell (Catachan Jungle Fighters) or Shell-Shocked Veteran (Death Korps of Krieg).
- The requirements for a Space Marine involve "a near-psychotic killing instinct". Granted, this is 40K, so it's not like it's uncommon.
- Even worse is that to the Orks, it's not even sociopathy, it's fun, war being to them a combination of jihad, mass migration and pub crawl.
- The "Kanonen-Song" from Die Dreigroschenoper has a refrain about soldiers turning people into beefsteak tartare.
- Specifically, people with darker or lighter skin than the British Army. They're equal opportunity racists.
- In the Xbox/PS2 game Shellshock, there are numerous times where your squad massacres civilians even if you don't take part in it. In the second mission, you go to search a village for weapons and a single Vietcong. Or, after you round up everyone in the village, you can start shooting and the others will join in and gun down all the villagers, accomplishing the same objective. Later on, you also kill wounded amputees in a Vietcong hospital. Plus, one of your squadmates (whose name is literally "Psycho") constantly kills POW's in cutscenes, and helps the South Vietnamese commissar torture people.
- Technically not Military, but the Civil Protection in Half-Life 2. Overlaps with Police Brutality.
- Also committed by the HECU Marines/Army in the original Half-Life. While, to be fair, they ARE under orders to silence everyone, a few seem to take an unnecessary glee in their task. Somewhat averted in Opposing Force - the game sets up events so it's extremely hard to get any surviving military member to meet a scientist (and if he does, said scientist is dead), but for the most part, they're more concerned with getting out and saving each other. Black Ops, on the other hand...
- That's true, A few were evil, but many of them were reluctant.
Evil Soldier: I killed 12 dumb-ass scientists and not one of them fought back! This sucks!
Good Soldier: I didn't sign on for this shit... Monsters? Sure. But Civilians? Who ordered this operation anyway?
- How a lot of the opposing grunts are portrayed in SOCOM US Navy Seals - but the few that you get the drop on in conversations casually talk about what their former base used to be, complaining about their Straw Feminist of a CO, or recruiting civilians onto their side with idealistic logic.
- Pale-faced shocktrooper Jane Turner from Valkyria Chronicles, who specifically joined up with Squad 7 to, as she puts it, "put holes in Imps." Yeah, she's a little creepy.
- The eponymous player characters in Mercenaries have the option of doing this. Then again, there are massive penalties for killing civilians.
- Apparently, the various grunts in Call of Duty 4, especially the Ultranationalists, who purposefully are bombing whole villages.
- And from World at War, Sgt. Reznov. He really likes killing Nazis. And also from WaW, the soldiers from the Nazi Zombies mode. They're quite involved in their zombie killing.
- Also subverted in Metal Gear Solid, to the point where one has a moral conflict in killing others. The game rewards you for using non-lethal kills.
- On the other hand, Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid is heavily implied in-story to be one. That's not even getting to the FOXHOUND members.
Solid Snake: "Unfortunately, killing is something that gets easier the more you do it."
- In the first game, the final boss calls you out on it. If you take this path in the fourth game, the same sound-bite from Metal Gear Solid plays, followed by Snake vomiting in disgust.
- Something similar happens in Metal Gear Ghost Babel, although that one does involve the players actions (kind of, although Pyro Bison's overall message is the same, the number of enemies killed changes depending on how many the player actually killed, with two being the absolute lowest due to there being no alternative for Slasher Hawk and Marionette Owl.)
- Colonel Cobar from Killzone: Liberation. When he was still a private during the formation of the Helghast military, he shot his military instructor for stopping a training operation because another recruit was wounded. His ascension to colonel made it worse: mere days into the invasion of Vekta, he captured, tortured and dismembered three ISA council members in Sedah City.
- Rico from the same series takes it up a step further, and apparently is a good guy. His questionable tactics include wielding a heavy machine gun during a hostage situation and not settling for stealth when Helghast can be killed. It gets bad in Killzone 2 when Templar decides in some strange fashion that he is worthy of not only heading up Alpha, but also getting the charge to capture Visari. Guess how it ends. In the manual for the first game, it's stated he was a Rhino Squad member, who were known for being unnecessarily violent.
- Team Fortress 2:
- The Soldier is like this.
If God had wanted you to live, He would not have created me!
I joined this team just to kill maggots like you.
You were loud and ugly and now you're DEAD! Amen.
- The majority of the team could be considered sociopathic soldiers, with some exceptions such as the Engineer (who is unfazed by most things), the Medic (who doesn't particularly enjoy killing but is rather a Mad Doctor), and the Sniper.
- Lampshaded with the Sniper, who prides himself as a professional assassin, so he's not crazy, per se. His parents think so, however.
Sniper: Dad, I'm not a "crazed gunman", I'm an assassin! What's the difference? One's a job and the other's mental sickness!
- The Pyro takes this further - even the other mercenaries regard him/her/it as being wildly socipathic. Just about the only intelligible sound he (let's just go with that for posterity) can make is a maniacal laugh as he burns everyone around him to death. His Meet The Pyro video revealed him to be far beyond mere sociopathy, and is actually completely divorced from reality all together.
- The Beast from Advance Wars: Days of Ruin might not seem like one, but Caulder addresses him as "Sergeant" at one point before noting that he no longer considers himself military. The implication is that the Beast was always the hateful, kill-crazy man he became After the End, and the only difference is that he no longer has the chain of command to hold him back.
- Pretty much all of the Sith Troopers in Knights of the Old Republic, but the students at the Sith Academy on Korriban particularly stand out in that they basically spend their time showcasing their sociopathy in the hopes of being noticed by thir superiors. Mandalorians also count, including Canderous in your party.
- U.B.C.S. Sergeant Nicholai Ginovaef of Resident Evil 3 Nemesis, an ex-soldier turned mercenary is this trope to a "T", plotting to murder all of his colleagues so that he can receive their pay. He's also a Badass Normal who somehow manages to survive the game, making your life a living hell the entire time. U.S.S. team leader HUNK, alias "Mr. Death", of Resident Evil 2 is a totally cold-blooded version, who willingly leaves his teammates to die in furtherance of his mission, and doesn't care at all about the civillians his team guns down.
- Generally speaking the Umbrella Security Service (U.S.S.) and Umbrella Bioweapon Countermeasures Service (U.B.C.S.) seem to attract a lot of these guys. Given the nature of the work and the fact that most of them are Former Regime Personnel or professional mercenaries this unsurprising. The entire business his headed up by Colonel Kilgore Sergei Vladimir.
- Vile from the Mega Man X series fits this trope to a T. Because of an irrepairable short-circuit in his brain, he absolutely LOVES destroying Mavericks, and even moreso causing as much collateral damage as he can while retiring Mavericks, which was partially the reason why he ended up being branded a Maverick himself later on (the other being his rebellious attitude towards his superiors).
- An almost uniform trait of Caesar's Legion in Fallout New Vegas. Rape, pillaging, enslaving and burning are standard procedure. Legionares despise weakness and will kill anyone who doesn't serve the Legion - soldiers, civilians, women, children, old people. What we call war crimes, they call tactical maneuvers. Their top field commander slaughters his own troops to keep them in line. Even Caesar himself, who is regarded as a godly figure by his troops and is trying to build a better world, is sadly aware that his Legion has yet to become more than just a horde.
- Blackwatch from Prototype. The regular Marines in Manhattan view them with disgust, rightfully so; several Web of Intrigue memories show them murdering civilians for the hell of it. And laughing.
- Mass Effect: Depending on how you play the game, Commander Shepard can be one of these, especially with the Ruthless background in Mass Effect 1. Arguably deconstructed by the third game, where continuing to play this character type means you have to deliberately stab several allied characters in the back, most particularly Mordin Solus.
- Medal of Honor (2010 version): Voodoo is a very self-restrained version. He doesn't kill anyone he shouldn't, but he does give it serious consideration on more than one occasion. His teammates make sure to tease him for this.
- Most of the grunts in Schlock Mercenary fit this fairly well, minus the rape. When hiring new recruits, Captain Tagon even commends his senior officer Thurl for "hiring those [violent sociopaths] right up." To further the trope, most of the ones who get promoted beyond Sgt. happen to be a bit more rational in their thinking, with the notable exception of now-Lieutenant Shore Pibald.
- The guy in this Karate Bears "distinguishes" himself on the battlefield by mangling and eating an enemy
- In Our Little Adventure, most of the soldiers of the Souballo Empire are portrayed as the first flavor.
- In the Transformers mythos, it's harder to list a Decepticon or Predacon who doesn't fit this trope than one who does. Though, seeing as the faction was founded by a sadistic madman and his like-minded followers, it's not hard to see why.
- Even the occasional Autobot or Maximal fits, though they are usually only tolerated if they are especially effective. Even then, they're kept on a short leash.
- Deconstructed in Avatar The Last Airbender. Katara goes after the soldier who killed her mother, expecting a Psycho for Hire. What she gets is a cowardly old man, whom she angrily describes as "just empty. There's nothing inside you." The implication is that fear got him to act like one of these in the field; outside of combat he's not much of a threat.
- Another implication could of been that either that: the soldier was a Might Makes Right kind of guy, so he whimps out at the sight of more powerful figures (For example: his mother, and Katara). Or that he is a foil who shows that this (being a wimpy, cowardly, Well Done Son Guy) is what Katara would have been like if her mother was still alive.
- Yet another interpretation, is that he was a complete monster, but had some kind of crippling mother issues aside, and that years of retirement living under his mother had ground him down to the point that he wasn't worth killing. Or that he became that way as a result of the things he had done on the battlefield, becoming a Shell-Shocked Veteran.
- The Simpsons implies that Homer Simpson, had he actually been on a battlefield, would have been of this trope. When he has to be an army recruiter, one of the things he is asking people in a failed attempt at recruiting them is whether they want to kill people. Also, in "You Kent Always Say What You Want," Homer compares his elation to getting his 100th ice cream cone as being similar to gaining his first kill had he been in a war.
Every war, ever, has examples of this show up on all sides. Some have more, some have less, but no one has none. The amount varies widely depending on a whole range of factors, with the most important one usually being whether such behavior is shunned, ignored, or outright encouraged by military higher-ups and politicians (with countless examples of all three options). Scientifically tested here, especially the second page
. Also, relatedly, this article
- This video seems to go more in depth about the first kind.
- The Thirty Year's War (1618-1648) produced thousands, especially in Wallenstein's mercenary armies as they pillaged their way across the length and breadth of Germany. Rape and pillage were actually the orders of the day. To say the least, Germany came out damaged (it lost a third of its population at the time).
- World War II had many of these kind of soldiers, especially on the Eastern Front, where both sides (the Wehrmacht and the Red Army) were notorious for having these. During WWII and the Second Sino-Japanese war the Imperial Japanese Army also did some horrible things to Chinese civilians and any soldiers unfortunate enough to be captured by the Japanese.
- The participants of the My Lai Massacre.
- The Phoenix Program of the same time seemed aimed to create thousands of examples of this trope for the war effort, with tens or even hundreds of thousands of victims, alive or dead.
- This breed of soldier seems to be very common in Colombia's various military/paramilitary organizations. As the War Nerd puts it: "They kill in uniform or out, home or away, on the street or the battlefield. Equal Opportunity Slaughter: men, women, children, dogs — if it moves, they'll kill it. For any reason. For no reason. For money, for fun, for the Revolution, for the Counter-Revolution, for practice."
- Many examples, Type 1 and 2, from Argentina's Dirty War, which took place from 1976-83. Under the junta, torture, kidnappings, and mass murder were institutionalized, and carried out by members of the Argentine armed forces. Some, such as Adolfo Scilingo have repented, and asked to be imprisoned. Others, like Julian the Turk have not, and indeed seem very proud of their achievements. At least 30,000 people were killed, by leaders who claimed to be protecting them from the Dirty Communists.
General Iberico St. Jean, governor of Buenos Aires:
First we will kill all the subversives; then we will kill all their collaborators; then their sympathisers; then those who remained indifferent; and finally, we’ll kill the undecided.
- Osvaldo Romo, among other members of the Chilean DINA (secret police during the Pinochet dictatorship). But Romo stands out because he gave an interview where he goes into detail bragging about how he tortured prisoners.
- The Abu Ghraib prison guards.
- Italian,and Belgian soldiers were caught abusing Somali civilians during the peacekeeping and humanitarian operations there in late 1992/early 1993. The Italian soldiers also photographed what they did, with methods of torture and abuse comparable to Abu Ghraib a decade later.
- A group of U.S. soldiers were recently put on trial for deliberately killing Afghani civilians and planting evidence to make it look like self-defense. Not only that, but they also threatened several members of their unit that might have told in order to keep them quiet. Threats included purposefully dropping a weight on them while lifting weights.
- More recently, David Motari, subject of a memetic video where he chucks a live puppy off a cliff. The Marines were not pleased.
- Spanish "Conquistadors", there are chronicles of them (from a Spanish priest, no less) that tell how they would rip children from their mother's breast, cut them while still alive and feed them to the war dogs.
- Enlisting in the armed forces has become popular among white supremacists and inner city gangs who hope to acquire knowledge of military tactics which they could apply in their criminal activities. The problem has gotten so severe that recruits are now examined for gang tattoos that might identify a past or present association with said groups, and more than one tattoo, gang-affiliated or not, is grounds for being barred from recruiting.
- Finland ignored most drug prohibiting treaties or paid them only lip service after WWII. So many soldiers had lost their mental balance during the wars that ignoring drug prohibition was a way to keep them from freaking up. Well until the 1970s most of the drill instructors for conscripts were war veterans...