troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Sociopathic Soldier
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?
Trombley: 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:
  1. The Jingo: 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). May be a Sociopathic Hero. Very, very fond of Disproportionate Retribution; one of his comrades is worth at least ten of theirs, and it doesn't matter if they're noncombatants or not. If one of his buddies dies, the likelihood that he'll randomly shoot some civilians on the street just to Make an Example of Them is quite high.
  2. The Psychopath: 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 or mass murderer. The slightly less psychopathic and/or stupid ones will skew more towards Blood Knight; civilians still aren't quite out of the water, but they're way more into the combat part of the equation and generally avoid going after civilians because they don't fight back and thus aren't exciting. He's also the most likely to get himself killed; jingos usually have like-minded comrades who will help save their asses, unwilling conscripts are solely motivated by their own survival, and broken soldiers still take pains to stay alive so that they can keep helping their comrades along. Blood-crazed maniacs, on the other hand, tend to do unbelievably idiotic things that get them offed fairly quickly, and if they don't get taken out by the enemy, there's also a fairly strong likelihood that their own comrades will off them out of disgust or (more likely) because they're a liability.
  3. The Unwilling Conscript: 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. They still exist in armies not based on conscription in a modified form, usually as a kid who technically entered voluntarily but is essentially there because it was his only viable option; expect to see the same bitter, desperate viciousness and general disregard for the lives of others. Also the most likely to defect or desert if he gets pissed off enough.
  4. The Broken Soldier: 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 or experienced 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, nor angry, just 'pragmatic'. I Did What I Had to Do is practically his mantra; if the easiest solution that has the smallest potential body count on his side is also unbelievably brutal and cruel, he'll employ it nonetheless and worry about the horror of what he did after the fact. He's fully aware that what he's doing is horrible and unforgivable, and if it doesn't haunt him and keep him up at night, he's most likely dead to the world and would probably be blowing his head off if he didn't have comrades to see through the war.

If there's a whole bunch of them, expect an Insane Admiral, Colonel Kilgore, or General Ripper in charge.

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.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

    Comicbooks 
  • 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.
  • The Punisher is usually interpreted as this to the point where he cannot even smile at the deeds he does (mentioned when he kills Bushwhacker.) He has essentially taken his war to the streets showing no pity, remorse or fear against gangsters, psychos, killers, rapists, criminals or Hired Guns. Some suggest it was his experience in Vietnam that made him this way, making a Deal with the Devil, all works show it was losing his family that made him nuts. Whatever the case he is a broken type 1 and 4, to the point where he regrets not having someone to kill, or even having a wife and kids in the first place (though this can be interpreted as if he didn't they wouldn't have been in the park, they wouldn't have been killed and they he wouldn't have turned into the sociopath he is today.)

    Fan Fiction 
  • The HLF in The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum is composed of every type save for 3.
  • 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.
  • Mass Effect Human Revolution:
    • Captain Edward Grey was broken by his experience in Akuze. Put through a Treadstone-style programme to be brought back to combat readiness, while he still wants to do the right thing, he's quick to opt for the callous, vicious Kill 'em All option against slavers, xenophobic lynch mobs and other criminal scum.
    • This is the justification given in chapter 38 for why Blacklight black ops troops are so easy to defeat, at least for elite superhuman warriors like Adam, Hannibal and Johann - The Alliance Intelligence Agency selects for the jingoistic ultranationalists willing to cross any line to protect their interests, and as it turns out being a talented combatant and being one willing to get his hands dirty are categories that rarely overlap.
  • In No Gods, Only Guns, the Crimson Lance are staffed almost exclusively with Type I Is, with the rest kept in line by being Type II Is. This is easier than it sounds, as Humanity Is Insane in this setting. In fact, being moral and upstanding is considered a detriment in the Lance, as they're essentially the heavily-armed thugs of an amoral Mega Corp., and early on Roland is put in a situation where he and his squad have to make a decision between killing unarmed civilians or being executed on the spot in order to prove their loyalty.

    Film 
  • Maggot from The Dirty Dozen is perhaps one of the better pre-Vietnam examples in film. He's a fundamentalist, misogynistic rapist and killer of women who turns on his own team when he can't control his urges during the mission.
  • The military in most of George Romero's films. Just because.
  • Full Metal Jacket has a scene with a particularly sociopathic door gunner on a helicopter. He's had 157 confirmed kills — all implied to be civilians — plus 50 water buffalo.
    Private Joker: Any women or children?
    Door Gunner: Sometimes.
    Private Joker: How can you shoot women and children?
    Door Gunner: Easy, you just don't lead 'em so much! [laughs] Ain't war hell? [laughs some more]
    • The above scene is from Michael Herr's book Dispatches which describes his experiences as a war correspondent in Vietnam. Herr was a co-screenwriter for Full Metal Jacket and was nominated for an Academy Award for his work.
    • Animal Mother (an example of the Psycho for Hire variant) and Crazy Earl (who's "befriended" a dead North Vietnamese) also qualify.
  • Almost the entire Japanese Army in City of Life and Death. It's a movie about the Rape of Nanking, so that goes without saying.
  • In Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, the Headless Horseman was one of these in life. While the other Hessians were mercenaries, he went to fight in America for the love of killing, and loss of life, head, and will hasn't abated that love.
  • The soldiers in 28 Days Later. Besides the Only Sane Man, the CO wants nubile women to try and keep the rest of his soldiers under control. Think about that for a minute.
  • The main characters of Inglourious Basterds are a group of American Saboteurs who enter Nazi-Occupied France to unleash hell upon Nazis from the inside, and employ terror tactics. Notable however is Hugo Stiglitz, a German-born Ax-Crazy Stoic who the Basterds recruited due to his reputation of killing 13 officers in their sleep (or waking them up just before he kills them).
  • Sergeant Tony Meserve in Casualties of War. He kidnaps, rapes, and kills a young village girl, then tries to kill PFC Eriksson with a grenade in the latrine.
  • Paul Lazzaro in Slaughterhouse-Five. This is clearly defined when he recounts the story of killing a dog by putting some clock parts into a steak that he gives to the dog that bit him. Any time someone makes him angry, he threatens that person with violence, then in the end of the movie, he kills Billy Pilgrim, just as he said he would.
  • In Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The Bad, Angel Eyes, does a magnificent impression of one of these, infiltrating Union lines as a sergeant. He tortures prisoners for information, and generally runs his prison camp as though it were Auschwitz (despite the protestations of his Lieutenant). His right hand man and Torture Technician Wallace is a straight example, being a Union soldier, and a total thug.
    • However, it is averted by the Union soldiers Tuco and Blondie encounter later on, who are led by a likable, humorous fellow who happens to be A Father to His Men, making his sudden death during the ensuing battle a surprisingly tear-jerking moment for a bit character, and there's also a younger lieutenant who seems to be an ordinary man caught up in a war he does not understand.
    • Leone revisits the trope in Duck, You Sucker! (aka A Fistful of Dynamite) in the form of the Mexican soldiers serving under Colonel Gunther Reza. The Mexican army as conceived by Leone seems intent on imprisoning or killing every single person they meet, and their look is modelled on that of the fascist stormtroopers and German soldiers that Leone saw in Italy when he was a child. Reza himself is a terrifying Type II and Implacable Man to boot, despite never saying a word.
  • Ewan McStarley, Vinnie Jones' character in The Condemned— an SAS operative who became a Condemned Contestant after setting fire to a Rwandan village, executing 17 men, raping 9 women, and torturing various others.
  • X-Men:
    • William Stryker. Although a superior officer.
    • Victor Creed in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, considering his attempted rape of a local during Vietnam, as well as the implied killing of civilians while firing from a helicopter during the same war.
  • All the Private Military Contractors in Avatar, particularly Wainfleetnote , as well as all the pilots other than Trudy, with them all being led by a Colonel Kilgore.
  • In the Doom movie, Sarge shows himself to be this, at one point killing the rookie member of his team for refusing his order to kill a room full of unarmed civilians. Small wonder, then, that he mutates into the protagonist's final adversary after becoming infected.
  • Lawrence of Arabia grows closer and closer to this trope as the movie goes on, finally culminating in the massacre at Tafas.
  • In Hollow Man 2, the direct-to-video sequel of Hollow Man, the antagonist Michael Griffin was one of these even before being injected with the invisibilty serum. His commanding officer kept him from being charged for war crimes committed in Iraq so he could be part of the project. Since the real purpose of the project was to create a perfect assassin to kill off the project head's political enemies, a test subject with little to no morality was just what the project needed. When Griffin becomes even crazier due to the lethal side effects of the serum which only a special chemical booster can alleviate, his former commanding officer learns the hard way that giving a murderous sociopath invisibility powers and a reason to hate you can backfire.
  • In the movie version of Jack Reacher, the gunman, an ex-soldier, who guns down several people in a Parking Garage is described as being a sociopath who went out of his way to kill civilians in Afghanistan.
    Jack Reacher: There's four kinds of people who join the military. There's the people for whom its a family tradition. There's the people who do it out of patriotism. There's the people who simply want a job. And then there's the last kind; the kind who enlist because its a legal opportunity to take a human life.
  • Andrew Scott from Universal Soldier. he was a Sergeant in The Vietnam War, where he goes renegade as he starts butchering civilians and kills his own squad when they try to stop him. He cuts off the ears of his victims and wears them in a necklace. He orders Private Luc Deveraux to kill the two remaining 'traitors', two Vietnamese children, doing the job himself when Deveraux refuses. Both are reborn years later as memory-wiped Super Soldiers. As soon as Scott regains his memories he kills his controllers and goes on a blood-filled vendetta across the States to punish Deveraux for disobeying his illegal orders back in Vietnam, graphically killing anyone who gets in his way. At the end he takes Deveraux's elderly parents and his love interest hostage, awarding all of them the death penalty. Despite claims earlier in the film that he thinks he's still fighting the insurgents in Vietnam, Scott later plainly admits that he's fully aware where he is and what he's doing, and his only motive is revenge for Deveraux refusing to partake in his atrocities.
  • Conspiracy: Deconstructed. SS Major Rudolf Lange is the closest you could get to this, as he's leading one of a number of huge death squads through the occupied Soviet Union shooting unarmed civilians en masse and encouraging racist locals to kill Jews in mobs. However, he and his men are becoming increasingly disturbed by the sheer level of inhumanity they're supposed to inhabit. Heydrich introduces the gas chambers to make the murders easier to carry out for the perpetrators.

    Literature 
  • Mentioned in Discworld's Night Watch, where Sergeant Carcer is described as "the sort that joins up for the plundering...the kind you have to end up hanging as an example to the men".
  • Troopers Lijah Cuu and Murtan Feygor in the Gaunt's Ghosts novels, though the latter tends to be held in check by Colonel-Commissar Gaunt.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, most knights and men-at-arms conform to this trope, particularly those assigned to pillage peasant villages for information and supplies. One character gives a sympathetic monologue that any man conscripted into war can become this way if he survives long enough.
    • Justified in that the series takes place in a medieval period. There are no conscripts or discipline; the only difference between a French or British invasion from a Viking raid was the scale and technology. In fact, a Viking raid would often be cleaner, as they would be operating on their own schedules and thus be better fed and less desperate than any soldier. Ahem--sorry.
    • Gregor Clegane is a solid example of Type 2. He only fights under Tywin for a chance to hurt people, and when he's not soldiering he's murdering and raping people for his own amusement.
  • Andrea from The Zone series of World War III novels by James Rouch. A stunningly beautiful East German woman with a Mysterious Past and a passionate hatred of communists. She bonds with various soldiers (though never sexually) long enough to absorb their specialist skills, then callously severs the connection to move on to the next teacher. Warning: Keep away from prisoners.
  • The Things They Carried has Azar, who, at one point, blows up a squad member's puppy and mocks everyone. At one point, when he's scared shitless, he claims his Jerkassery is a defense against fear, but he's probably lying again to save his ass.
    "Christ, I'm just a boy."
  • Hakeswill in Sharpe. Senior officers love him (except the ones with real integrity), everyone who knows what he's really like loathes him.
    • Brigadier Guy Loup is an example from the French side. When the Riflemen capture two of his men responsible for a particularly brutal massacre of a Spanish village, Sharpe has them executed on the spot. He has no shortage of volunteers for the firing squad.
  • Corporal Lehto in Väinö Linna's The Unknown Soldier. He is a complete sociopath, bully and ruthless to both enemy and his own squad. His end is tragic: he walks into an ambush in night fight, gets shot and wounded on his spine, gets paralyzed and shoots himself because he considers himself now as cripple and bottom of the pecking order. He doesn't give himself any more mercy or respect than to anyone else, and sees suicide as the only logical conclusion.
  • In Harry Turtledove's The Great War trilogy, one of the PoV characters is Gordon McSweeny, a charming Corporal who, being staunchly Protestant, believes himself to the instrument of God's wrath upon the Confederates, and turned down a command post multiple times. This is because he enjoys personally killing them. With his FLAMETHROWER. He's only slightly nicer to the men under his command; one time not mourning one's death, because he was Greek Orthodox and therefore a heretic, even if he was a nice guy.
    • Lieutenant Boris Lavochkin, in Settling Accounts is even nuttier, burning and slaughtering his way across the Confederacy. You don't feel particularly bad for his victims (they are after all A Nazi by Any Other Name), but he's still very much this trope, as his sergeant, Chester Martin repeatedly lampshades. On the other side, there are the Freedom Party Guards who to say the least, aren't very nice. What do you expect from SS expies?
  • This is how most of the civilians view soldiers, even regulars but especially the more common mercenaries, at the start of 1632. Fairly often they're right even and when they're wrong the armies still have to "scavenge" like crazy to keep from starving.
  • In Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising, KGB soldiers tend to be portrayed this way, as specifically distinguished from Red Army troops. This is apparent in a scene during the Iceland occupation where Lt. Edwards comes upon a farmhouse whose occupants have been raped and murdered by KGB troops. He rescues the sole surviving daughter in Big Damn Heroes fashion and then proceeds to mete out summary justice to the rapists.
  • Taylor in Animorphs is sociopathic even by Yeerk standards. Torture Technician, Manipulative Bastard, and Jerk Ass extraordinaire, she just plain enjoys hurting people.
  • Most of the once-men in Terry Brooks's The Word and the Void and The Genesis of Shannara are like this.
  • Many examples in the Malazan Book of the Fallen, but the crowning one would have to be Anaster, the First Child of the Dead Seed. He's an Empty Shell of a Death Seeker who commits atrocities in the hopes of forcing someone to kill him, and leads an army of cannibals on a rampage accross the continent, butchering everything in his path seemingly for the sake of it.
  • Dale in The Thin Red Line is a pre-Vietnam example - a rather slow-witted yet ambitious soldier who seems to take pleasure in doing horrible things to the enemy.
  • Redmond Barry a.k.a. Barry Lyndon became one of these while fighting in the Seven Year's War. It's implied that Barry's hellish treatment in the Prussian army contributed to him being this way and enthusiastically joining in "foraging" (read Rape, Pillage, and Burn). There's a kind of disturbing scene where in a surprisingly gentle tone he describes a foppish and inexperienced opponent whose skull he bashed in with his musket and whose corpse he looted.
  • Sergeant Bothari of the Vorkosigan Saga is a more complex version of this. He is a sadistic sociopath, but has enough conscience to realise that random killing is wrong. So he uses military regulations to tell him when it is OK to kill. His commanding officers learn to think very carefully before taking off his leash.
  • Most of the soldier boys in The Drowned Cities. They talk like Type Is, act like Type IIIs, and are all afflicted with shell shock in one way or another. Sergeant Ocho is a deeply screwed up and angry Type IV, hiding his PTSD behind a wall of bitterness. His commanding officer, Lieutenant Sayle is an icy Type II with a penchant for Cold-Blooded Torture. One of Ocho's men, Soa, is also a Type II, of the Axe Crazy Mood-Swinger variety. He has pretensions of being a Type I, but doesn't even really understand what the words mean.
  • In the backstory of Richard K. Morgan's Thirteen, several nations attempted to genetically and socially engineer Sociopathic Supersoldiers. The projects collectively Went Horribly Right, creating the protagonist (initially Type III shading into IV) and several of the antagonists (Types II and III).
  • In the Takeshi Kovacs Series, also written by Morgannote , the UN Protectorate's Envoys recruit borderline psychopaths with just the right mix of inhibition and sense of duty. Most end up resorting to crime after they muster out, the titular character usually works as a detective, bodyguard, or mercenary. According to Kovacs they prefer to recruit from more conventional militaries as they cultivate that mindset. Though it's not entirely clear where along the scale he falls given how often he mentions his pre-recruitment adolescence as a gangbanger.
  • In The Short-Timers, a Vietnam War era novel by Gustav Hasford, Animal Mother is THE sociopathic Marine, although by the end almost all members of the Lusthog Squad display signs of this - to a lesser degree. In The Film of the Book, Full Metal Jacket, this is somewhat overshadowed by the character of the "door-gunner" who sets altogether new levels of sociopathy.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Clone: In this BBC series, Colonel Black (Mark Gatiss) is a solid Type Two, there to enjoy all the torture and murder. Given the tone of the show, he gets a great deal of enjoyment.
  • Doctor Who: The Sontarans are an entire race of Super Soldiers who behave this way towards their enemies. The one exception is the Combat Medic that the Doctor encounters in "A Good Man Goes To War" who demonstrates that their sociopathy is learned, rather than ingrained. Most Daleks fall under this trope as well, committing genocide at the drop of a hat.
  • Generation Kill: Lance Corporal Harold Trombley is explicitly stated to be type II as the quote at the top of the page indicates.
  • JAG: Roscoe Martin, the paraplegic Vietnam veteran in "King of the Fleas" and "The Martin Baker Fan Club", is the broken soldier type who while getting himself in trouble manages to manipulate people around him (including Harm).
  • LOST: Soldier turned mercenary Martin Keamy appears to have always been sadistic and borderline psycho, but the Island really brings out his sociopathy, resulting in him murdering people left and right for spurious reasons and endangering the lives of his ship's entire crew.
  • NCIS: Has had a few of these by its nature, but Jonas Cobb (the Port-To-Port Killer) and Jonathan "Casey Stratton" Cole, both utterly broken Black Ops types, got season-spanning story arcs.
  • Person of Interest: Detective Carter's backstory has her serving as an Army interrogator in Iraq. She managed to talk a detainee into giving up the location of an insurgent supply cache in exchange for protecting him and his family from said insurgents. Then the soldiers Carter was working with killed him offscreen after he led them to the cache.
  • Red Dwarf: Kill Crazy:
    "Let's go KILL SOMETHING!"
  • Revolution: Just about everyone in the militia is this in one form or another. Miles (before he deserted), Monroe and many others are apparently The Jingoist. Miles, after he deserted, became The Broken Soldier ("Pilot"). Jeremy Baker, from the way he said he thought they were making a better world, is The Jingoist ("The Longest Day"). Strausser is certainly The Psychopath ("Chained Heat", "The Plague Dogs", "Sex and Drugs", "Ties That Bind", "Kashmir", and "Nobody's Fault But Mine"). Jim Hudson is The Unwilling Conscript ("Ghosts", "Clue"). Major Tom Neville seems to be The Broken Soldier, because he started as nice, but he changed for the worse after he had to make an Asshole Victim out of his neighbour Rob ("Soul Train").
  • Smallville:
    • Rick Flag is a sociopathic ex-soldier turned Western Terrorist. He's got a thing for Cold-Blooded Torture, bombings, and misplaced Patriotic Fervor, giving an amazing impression of a Right Wing Militia Fanatic.
      • He's also got a Complexity Addiction - he uses a missile to try and kill one person. Think about that for a minute.
    • Lieutenant Trotter is also an example. Disciple of General Ripper Slade Wilson, she willingly engages in kidnapping, brainwashing, and human experimentation in the supposed interests of protecting the US from metahumans. A Knight Templar whom even Flag believes needs stopping.
      • Her devotion to both Slade and her belief that metahumans need to be stopped gets to a point where she arrests and interrogates three completely normal people, including subtly implying that if they don't answer her questions, they'll never be seen or heard from again. Keep in mind that the only evidence she has against these three is being on Oliver Queen's payroll (Emil), writing a lot of stories about a superhero (Lois), and being Oliver's ex-girlfriend and current business partner (Tess). She badgers them about where the vigilantes are, despite the fact that she has no good reason to think any of them know anything. While she is never flat-out violent towards those three in particular during the interrogations, her orders to move Tess and Emil to a "secure location" heavily sounds like they were either going to be executed or moved to a location where she could use less conversational techniques.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Reese from the episode "The Siege of AR-558" is this. He is shown to be wearing a necklace of ketracel-white tubes (a type drug the enemy needs to survive) picked from killed Jem'Hadar and often sharpening a knife also taken from a dead enemy. He is also used to show the cruelty of war in that he survives while Nice Guy Kellin dies.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: Maquis crewman Lon Suder kills another crewmember just for looking at him the wrong way. He is Betazoid but tellingly has no empathic or telepathic abilities like others of his race.
  • The Twilight Zone: A new replacement is very eager to kill some enemies (Japanese soldiers, in this case), to the disgust of his shell shocked seniors (well, they have been fighting longer than he had). This being The Twilight Zone he gets his comeuppance when he somehow becomes a Japanese soldier and is forced to obey an Evil Counterpart who repeats his own bloodthirsty words back at him. All Just a Dream, maybe, but he gets the message.
  • Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter: Friedhelm is a Type Four.
  • Justified gives us Colton Rhodes, a Broken Soldier type whose heroin addiction and inability to cope with his Iraq and Afghan war trauma drives him into becoming a Professional Killer.

    Music 
  • From the third verse of John Denver's Stonehaven Sunset:
    Stonehaven sunset, the city's on fire. The soldiers just smile and say, "this gun's for hire". Give into the beast, boy, give into the thrill, it's just human nature, to hunt and to kill...
  • 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.
  • Hüsker Dü's "You're a Soldier" matches the exuberance of its titular sociopathic soldier in music/
    Patrolling the world with your little boy face
    And a grown up gun that shoots
    You've got a fresh scrubbed teenage outlook on terror
    And a khaki attitude.

     Roleplay 
  • 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.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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 40,000. 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.

    Theater 
  • 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.

    Videogames 
  • 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.
  • Sabres Of Infinity Cazarosta, his hatred of the Antari, indifference to the horrors of war and his casual disregard of the rules of engagement amount to this.
  • 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...
    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.
  • Fire Emblem Awakening gives us Henry:
    Avatar: Those deaths were necessary. We had to kill our foes or be killed ourselves. But killing the enemy isn't the same as sacrificing innocents for victory.
    Henry: Seems like an arbitrary line to me.
  • 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.
    • 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: With all nine playable characters being agents of a Private Military Contractor, this trope was bound to happen.
    • The Soldier takes it Up to Eleven.
      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) and the Sniper (a Consummate Professional; he even provides the page quote).
    • Lampshaded with the Sniper, who prides himself as a professional assassin, so he's not crazy, per se. His parents think so, however.
      Sniper: I'm not a "crazed gunman", Dad, I'm an assassin! Well, the difference being, one is 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.
    Heavy: I fear no man...but that thing...it scares me.
    Scout: I ain't talking to you about that freak, alright? He...He's not here, is he? How do I get this fricking thing off ?! *knocks down camera*
    Spy: One shudders to imagine what inhuman thoughts lie behind that mask...what dreams of chronic and sustained cruelty?
    Pyro's Mind: *A colorful Sugar Bowl land while Loving Spoonful's "Do You Believe In Magic" plays in the background
  • 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. 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.
  • Captain Martin Walker from Spec Ops: The Line is a type 4. After the White Phosphorus incident that happens early on in the game, Walker goes from being a sensible soldier to slowly cracking under the pressure and becoming a raving madman with a hero complex. How quickly he does so depends on the player in some instances.
  • In Homefront the Korean soldiers spend the first few minutes at the beginning of the game brutalizing American citizens. A group of them shot a couple in front of their own child, and the Resistance see that the Koreans are killing the prisoners and burying them in mass graves.
  • In Alpha Protocol the Veteran Combat Initiative exclusively recruits from the dishonorably discharged and "borderline types" who have difficulty returning to civilian life.
  • Agent Jack Hunter, also known as Goldeneye. He's unique in that he's sadistic and careless—he wastes time hurting his enemies. MI-6 has no use for him, but SPECTRE, on the other hand...
  • Niko Bellic from Grand Theft Auto IV says he was surrounded by people like this in the Serbian wars but he himself is not one (although a lot of the blood he shed went beyond what was required in the line of duty, which disturbs him).

    Webcomics 
  • 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.

    Web Animation 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • 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 a Type III 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 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. Mitigated when he was once recruited by the Marines, he isn't smart enough to even hold a rifle, the one they gave him only shoots bubbles.

    Real Life 
  • 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 Years' War (1618-1648) produced thousands as mercenary armies pillaged for three decades across the length and breadth of Germany.
  • 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. Both Wehrmacht and Red Army were based on conscription, so type 3 was omnipresent. 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...
  • As in the case of Argentina's Dirty War, Guatemala's long, long civil war (1960-1996) produced many of these, as the military junta became more and more brutal in its dealings with the populace. Soldiers carried out acts of mass politicide, and ethnic cleansing and genocide of the indigenous Mayan population became a feature of the war. Of the 200 000+ people who died in the war, over 90 percent are believed to have died at the hands of the Guatemalan Army; this does not even include the 45-50 000 people who were "disappeared". To pick one particularly gruesome example at the village of Los Dos Erres, the army buried civilians alive, dashed the heads of infants against walls, and kept the village's women as prisoners so they could repeatedly rape them. The soldiers involved ran the full gamut of types, from I-IV.
  • During Brazil's military dictatorship, the soldiers would torture dissidents. By itself that makes them sociopathic. Wait until you learn that they also tortured THE BABIES of dissidents. A fine mixture of types 1 and 2, with a nice little dash of Moral Event Horizon.


Shell-Shocked VeteranMadness TropesStalker with a Crush
The SociopathViolence TropesUncanny Valley Girl
Soapbox SquareAdded Alliterative AppealSolar Sail
Punch Clock VillainHired GunsThose Two Bad Guys
Crucified Hero ShotImageSource/Live-Action FilmsThe Possession
Shell-Shocked VeteranMilitary and Warfare TropesThe Squadette
Slave MooksVillainsStompy Mooks

random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
147673
2