Soldier vs. Warrior

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Canderous Ordo: Carth, you fought in the Mandalorian Wars, didn't you? We may have faced each other in combat. What battles were you in?
Carth Onasi: I try not to think about my past battles too much. The horrors of war are something I'd rather not relive.
Canderous: The horrors of war? My people know only the glory of victory. I'm disappointed in you, Carth. I thought a warrior like you could understand.
Carth: I'm not a warrior, I'm a soldier. There's a difference. Warriors attack and conquer, they prey on the weak. Soldiers defend and protect the innocent—usually innocent - mostly from warriors.

In a story that involves a Proud Warrior Race or fighting culture, you'll eventually have the eternal debate: Is it better to be a soldier, or a warrior?

  • A Soldier is a fighter using their skills and training to get a job done or a cause fulfilled, and combat is simply a grim task to get there. They typically rely on a more structured chain of command, generally following orders and limiting their own initiative to those that fulfill mission or campaign goals. Typically, they are The Fettered and may even see themselves as civilians doing a temporary duty for a greater good.
  • A Warrior is a fighter using their martial spirit and personal philosophy to fight, typically for honour and glory. To them, warfare is a contest of the fittest, with either prowess, cunning or divine providence deciding a victor. Warriors are often very competitive; individual initative is given more weight, and they typically look down upon those that don't possess a fondness for conquest or a revelry for war. Warriors typically consider themselves warriors at all times, even when not equipped for combat.

In other words, a Soldier fights to live, and a Warrior lives to fight.

A work that pits these two together typically invokes Romanticism Versus Enlightenment or Order Versus Chaos, and either side can be shown as right or wrong. A work favoring the Soldiers will typically portray the Warriors as The Horde or some other disorganized mass of wild, bloodthirsty, and barbaric creatures. A work favoring the Warriors will typically portray the Soldiers as a Red Shirt Army that have superior tactics and equipment, but no individual "soul" or flexibility. Some works may not favor either, but simply show them as two different (but necessary) Opposing Combat Philosophies.

See also World's Best Warrior, which shows how a single fighter can become the best in either culture. Compare Technician Vs Performer, Force And Finesse, and Quantity Versus Quality and Quality Over Quantity.

Ironically, in the Humans Are Warriors trope, humans tend to be the soldiers while the other species are warriors, and that is why humans are better at war.


Examples

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     Anime and Manga  

  • In Turn A Gundam, there's a lot of discussion in the last arc about the proper reasons for fighting. Loran is on the Soldier side; he fights only to protect people because living at peace is nice. Gym Ghingnham believes that Humans Are Warriors and thinks endless warfare is the only way for the species to advance.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, this briefly happens when Tekkadan fights against Carta Issue. Mikazuki is on the Soldier side and is a Combat Pragmatist in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, Carta is on the Warrior side and is stuck in the Pre-Calamity War Gjallarhorn knight mindset. When Carta requested for a Combat by Champion, Mikazuki outright ignored her request, killed her bodyguards when they are outside the mechs and delivered a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to Carta herself.
  • In Attack on Titan, this is used within the Narrative, and explicitly brought up by several characters. The enemy Titan Shifters refer to themselves as "Warriors", drawing a line between themselves and the soldiers they oppose. On the surface, the trope is played straight with human soldiers serving the cause of humanity's survival and the warriors being shown to be proud and even competitive. But then it becomes more complicated, with the lines becoming blurred as the warriors' identities are revealed. Reiner Braun best illustrates the blurring of things, struggling with his conflicting loyalties/identities. Both sides have much more in common than they would like to admit, and there is plenty of debate over what it means to be a soldier. It isn't really clear which, if either, is actually better.
  • In The Seven Deadly Sins, the two leaders of the Liones Holy Knights are rather unique cases. Dreyfus is a Soldier as he genuinely wants to protect people from the prophesied Holy War. However, he is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who is willing to trample down anything or anyone for his ambitions. Hendricksen on the other hand is a Warrior as he is basically a Colonel Kilgore who believes that war is the only reason the Holy Knights exist in the first place. He believes this so much that he is willing to revive the Demon Clan so that the Holy Knights can have a Worthy Opponent. Though it turns out that both are being manipulated by a demon. One who is possessing Dreyfus.

     Comic Books  

  • This notion was raised by Marvel writer Walt Simonson as the reason why Captain America can't pick up The Mighty Thor's hammer.
    Walt: [The enchantment on Mjolnir] means someone else can pick up this hammer and get this power, if they're worthy! [...] I liked the idea of Cap walking to the bathroom and seeing it, and grabbing and just tugging, not being able to. [...] Captain America, he's too patriotic. He's too much a symbol of America to be chosen by this Norse artifact. So he couldn't get it. So I created Beta Ray Bill because he's noble, and he's designed to kill. He's got a great purpose as a warrior, and also the noble ability. That makes him "worthy" whatever that may be.
  • Played for Laughs on the Astérix comics: the Roman Legion's organization in battle (such as the phalanx) only turns them into human bowling pins for the Gaul warriors to smash through. On the other hand, it is through being this organized war machine that the Romans have conquered most of Europe and the only reason Asterix's village has been the one on the delivering end of the Curb-Stomp Battle for so long is because of the potion.

    Fan Works 
  • Beat the Drums of War: The Klingons' tendency to charge in for glory and honor leads to bloody, disorganized head-on attacks that do absolutely no good at Qo'noS; they end up having to be bailed out by a fleet of mercenaries and their vassal races. In contrast, the Andorians, a Proud Soldier Race, use Hit-and-Run Tactics, Space Mines, and ballistic missiles to overwhelm the Heralds in stages, the Bajoran Militia (inspired by a mix of the USMC and the IDF) fight using heavy armor, airstrikes, and artillery from long range, while Starfleet uses technobabble and foils the attack on Earth altogether by forcing the Heralds to gate into a black hole. (Co-author StarSword is vocally not a fan of post-TNG Klingons.)

     Film  

  • Wookiees versus Clone Troopers in Revenge of the Sith.
  • The Last Samurai is practically a study and invoking of this trope. Samurai = Warrior, Imperial Soldier = Soldier. Soldiers at first lose due to lack of training, but eventually win due to better technology once they are trained properly.
  • Discussed in Patton by Generals Bradley (soldier) and Patton (warrior).
    Bradley: I do it because that's what I'm trained to do. You do it because *Beat* you love it, George.
  • Hercules (2014): Hercules and his band compared to the Thracian Army. Hercules' group fight mostly for personal gain, maker a living out of it, are individually more powerful than small groups of soldiers, can work together to defeat larger numbers, and are better for situations that require small, versatile groups. Yet, they cannot defeat the superior numbers and tactics (specifically the shield wall) of the highly disciplined Thracian army who follow the orders of their king regardless of how corrupt he is. They can also use their tactics to defeat the superior number of a more unorganized army.
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan has the Social Darwinist augments led by Khan Noonien Singh on the hijacked Reliant versus the Starfleet-trained (and in-training) crew of the Enterprise under Admiral Kirk. Khan may have gotten a debilitating first strike when Kirk's adherence to protocol lapses, but once he's back on his game, Kirk has the upper hand for pretty much the rest of the movie. It really kicks in when you see the Misfit Mobilization Moment / Lock and Load Montage after they Enterprise leaves Regula and makes a run for the Mutara Nebula. That boatload of trainees are becoming fightin' spacemen.
  • Called out almost by name in WarCraft at the meeting between human King Llane of Stormwind and Chief Durotan of the orc Frostwolf Clan. Llane says that the orcs fighting the humans solves nothing. Durotan seems almost amused at this and retorts, "For orcs, war solves everything."

     Literature  
  • In Larry Niven's Known Space verse the Kzin are obsessed with personal glory allowing humanity to lure them into several traps. And they seem to have no concept of "total war" while the humans carved a ten-mile long and mile-deep trench on a Kzin-held planet.
  • In Gor, the main character of most of the stories, Tarl Cabot, is a trained Warrior. He is a member of the Warrior caste, who have their own Codes and consider their calling honorable. Even between warring cities there is an inherent respect between them. On the other hand, any shlub could pick up a sword and become a brigand, mercenary, or soldier. They don't follow or respect the Codes.
  • Discworld has a variation: Vimes is adamant that the Ankh-Morpork City Watch are not military, despite wearing swords and armor. This having as much to do with the fact that Armies Are Useless in most situations (thanks to Vetinari's diplomacy preventing most conflicts), that Vimes has a very strict code of conduct (having aided in kicking out the former, extremely corrupt Watch) that soldiers won't understand or that military leadership is composed to a man of spectacularly inept bunglers (one of them insists troops move in arrow formations like they appear on maps, others count victories by substracting their losses from the enemy's, another is "the gods' gift to the enemy"...).
    • Interesting Times plays this mostly from the warrior's side, Cohen and his band (six old 'heroes' and a teacher, with only the latter being under 80 years) go up against five armies, and are making a pretty good go of it for a while. Justified in universe because they're Conan-style heroes, and Discworld runs on this sort of narrative. It also helps that the vast majority of the soldiers are barely trained and poorly equipped conscripts with terrible morale, with the exception of a few samurai, which Cohen kills by fighting dirty.
  • The distinction between Soldier and Warrior is explained in Cursor's Fury, the third book of the Codex Alera. The distinction pointed out by Antillar Maximus is that a warrior generally fights alone on his own skill in duels and the like, while a soldier is part of a unit that watches over the man next to him and trusts the man next to him to do the same.
  • In Belisarius Series, the Rajputs are warriors, with an exagerrated sense of honor, who boast of their Heroic Lineage and take delight in Combat by Champion. The Romans are soldiers with a professional organization and a capacity for engineering and the use of technology.
  • During a battle in The First Heretic where the Word Bearers fight alongside Custodes, they comment that although the Custodes are peerless warriors and superior to Astartes on an individual level, they do not fight as a unit or look out for each other the way soldiers do. Consequently, the Word Bearers stop respecting them.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Adumar in X-Wing: Starfighters of Adumar is a culture that glorifies fighter pilots, and the pilots themselves are Proud Warrior Race Guys who fight for their own personal glory, with battles between nations frequently devolving into a melee of personal duels. When Wedge Antilles et al. ally with a coalition of Adumari nations opposed to the more powerful government of Cartann, he tells them flat-out that if he catches any of their pilots flying for glory instead of victory, he'll shoot the offending pilot down himself.
    • The Yuuzhan Vong invasion of the Republic in the New Jedi Order series. The Vong had a strong warrior mindset that emphasized personal honor, refusal to retreat, and victory at all cost compared to the more soldier mindset of the Republic. Their unusual biotech and brutal methods served them well until their supreme leader criticized the war leader for gaining victories only over numerous dead warriors costing a third of the warrior caste and unable to maintain an offensive or defend what they had conquered compared to the Republic which could much easier replace their losses. The next war leader went so far as to order warriors to flee from hopeless battles. This warrior mindset eventually was one of the main factors costing them the war.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Individually, Unsullied are not particularly notable fighters and are physically weaker than most due to their castration. When fighting in formation, however, their phalanx tactics, lack of fear, immunity to pain and robotic loyalty make them the most feared soldiers in the world. Daenerys learns this the hard way when she assigns her Unsullied to town guard duty. Lone Unsullied are ambushed and overwhelmed about as easily as anyone else. They're wasted off of the battlefield.
  • Raj Whitehall of The General makes a point of this distinction in conversation with a young 'barb' hostage and then proves his point when his 'soldiers' slaughter the barbarian 'warriors'.
  • In Ranks of Bronze, one of the Romans (forcibly recruited to serve as muscle for an interstellar alien Mega Corp. due to interstellar law prohibiting using advanced technology against primitive worlds) highlights their status as disciplined soldiers and not barbarian warriors as the main reason why they keep winning. Their alien masters, of course, doesn't care so long as the victories keep coming in and the Romans stay loyal.
  • In The People of the Wind, the Terrans are shown as being a more pragmatic and bureaucratic force fighting for the strategic interests of the Terran Empire, whereas the Ythrians and their human allies are willful, individualistic folk fighting for "deathpride". Sympathy is on the Ythrian side on the whole but the Terrans are Worthy Opponents.
  • In The Heroes of Olympus, the Roman demigods tend to fulfill the "Soldier" archetype while the Greeks fulfill the "Warrior" role. Both are shown to have strengths and weaknesses.
  • Discussed in the Prince Roger series. When Captain Pahner proposes to train an army in a few weeks one of the (alien) allies protests that it takes months to train a warrior. Pahner counters that they aren't going to train warriors, they are going to train soldiers and they can do that in a few weeks. Largely justified in that they are pretty much just training the new soldiers to hold a pike and shield wall so the training is mostly about getting them to march together and follow orders.
  • From David Drake's Hammer's Slammers:
    • At Any Cost, the non-human natives have warriors who fight for glory, hunt human livestock as rites of passage, and are barely organized so despite their ability to teleport they don't make any ground in the war with the human colonists. While the humans have soldiers, who are organized but poor fighters and hampered by incompetent leadership. Then the humans hire Hammer's Slammers, a mercenary company of elite fighters with excellent organization and experienced leadership and the war is over in a couple weeks.
    • The Warrior, when tank commander Des Grieux, who named his tank The Warrior, gets sick of letting his tank's guns be run by computer on Anti-Artillery duty during a siege and takes it on a rampage through the enemy forces, ripping them to pieces. Then, the next day he gets demoted for leaving his position and creating an opening that got many Slammers and their clients killed when- if he'd stayed put- their defense would have easily shrugged off the enemy attack until the relief force came though in 24 hours.
  • Warrior Cats, naturally, discusses the trope. When cats first came to the forest, they were savage and lonely- fighting only for their own survival or that of their families. "It was a lawless, bloody time for the forest, and many cats died." After an especially senseless battle, the cats agreed to follow laws: they would not send kittens into battle, they would not kill defeated enemies, and no cat would hunt in another's territory. Cats still fought frequently (because it's in their nature to do so) but their adherence to the 'warrior code' resulted in a lot less death and paranoia.
    • During The Prophecies Begin, Firepaw learns that one of the reasons forest cats dislike pets and urban strays is because they don't follow the code. The series climaxes with the titular Warriors fighting off a horde of untrained strays/Soldiers through superior tactics and experience.
  • Explicitly explored in Shadows of the Apt with the conflict between the Mantis-kinden - a race of exceptionally skilled, honor-driven warriors - and the Wasp-kinden - a well-organized, militant empire of soldiers. One-on-one, a Mantis can almost always beat a Wasp thanks to their exceptional skill and personal drive, but in a mass battle the more numerous, more disciplined, and better organized Wasps have the advantage. In the context of the series, the Mantises are presented as the tragically doomed remnant of a bygone age, while the Wasps are a forward-thinking but tyrannical military juggernaut; both are heavily flawed, though the Wasps are much more consistently antagonistic (though not without exceptions).
  • In Ender's Game, the culture of the Battle School prizes obedience to commanding officers over individual initiative so that armies can react quickly to orders and coordinate large, army-wide formations. Ender disrupts this system by teaching his underlings to act less like soldiers and more like warriors, breaking them up into smaller units trained to act on their own initiative to accomplish limited objectives and granting the army as a whole more flexibility. In the end, after Ender destroys the Bugger homeworld, his commanding officers try to excuse him of any moral culpability by saying that he was Just Following Orders like a good soldier. Ender, who thinks like a warrior, disagrees.
  • The Stormlight Archive: The Parshendi and Alethi are a strange contrast. While the Parshendi fight in loose order, engaging in individual combat during battles, their Hive Mind makes them fight in a regimented manner on the large scale with similar goals. The Alethi, meanwhile, fight in tight ranks of regimented spearmen, but all of the highprinces are divided and seeking personal glory on the large scale.
  • Discussed in the Warhammer 40,000 novel Ciaphas Cain: The Last Ditch. in response to a complaint from a New Meat commissar of a locally raised Guard regiment that the Valhallan 597th isn't doing its duty for the Emperor against a tyranid outbreak, Colonel Regina Kasteen, who notably owes her command to the tyranids and likes repaying them for it, castigates her for her Attack! Attack! Attack! tactics and points out that the 597th is doing twice the damage of the Nusquan 1st while taking a third of the casualties. In general the Cain novels paint the 597th as highly organized, professional soldiers proficient in mechanized infantry warfare, in contrast to the enemy of the week (typically orks or tyranids), and non-Valhallan regiments in the series frequently believe more in showing zeal for the God Emperor than in tactics that do the most damage with the fewest deaths.

     Live-Action TV  
  • Star Trek
    • The Next Generation in particular does this with their Proud Warrior Race Guy(s), the Klingons, who love fighting for fighting's sake and have a lot of warrior-honor traditions and disdain for the weak. This contrasts with Starfleet, who fight only when they're forced into it; Starfleet prefers to think of itself as an exploration service first rather than a military. However, Starfleet's We Help the Helpless attitude eventually forged an alliance when one Starfleet ship tried to fight off four enemy Romulan ships to save a Klingon outpost. They all died, but the act of courage impressed the Klingons enough to end decades of animosity.
    • In Deep Space Nine, the Jem'Hadar are an interesting hybrid of the two, with a shift in perspective depending on which Khitomer Accords culture they're being contrasted with:
      • To the Federation Starfleet, the Jems are Warriors. They are literally born knowing how to fight with a hyper-aggressive spirit to match, and are fully-fledged grunts within a few weeks. They have a religious devotion to the Dominion's Founders, and their Badass Creed states that they are dead when they go into battle, with victory being the only way to reclaim their lives. They also have zero respect for any distinction between military and civilian that Starfleet would draw, and will happily exterminate entire species if so ordered.
      • To the Klingons, however, the Jems are Soldiers. The Klingons have a very effective army, but they still care a lot about personal glory and honor and can come into conflict with each other when in pursuit of those goals. The Jem'Hadar, on the other hand, adhere to the Soldier's credo of discipline and obedience to a degree that seems flat-out insane to the Starfleet characters. They will knowingly walk straight into their deaths without batting an eye if they are told to, because that is "the order of things."
  • Game of Thrones:
    • In the DVD extras there are segments on the history and legends of Westeros, which serve to flesh out the back story of the series. The one where Stannis Baratheon discusses the failed rebellion of House Greyjoy and the rest of the Ironborn against the kingdom discusses this trope at length, talking about how the warrior lust for glory of the Ironborn was used against them.
    I set a trap for the Iron Fleet off of Fair Isle. As sailors and warriors the Ironborn are unparalleled, but they're not soldiers. They have no discipline, no strategy, no unity. In battle each man fights only for his own glory, and their ships are built for lightning strikes and shore raids. Once the captains rushed in, I smashed them with our larger war galleys.
    • Another strong example is the contrast between war buddies Robert Baratheon (warrior) and Ned Stark (soldier). Robert truly loved war and fighting, while Ned just saw it as a grim task and clearly does not have fond memories of it.
    • At one point, King in the North Robb Stark orders his vassal (and uncle) Edmure Tully to hold the line against the forces of the Mountain while Robb campaigns in the west. Eager for glory and not content to fight a defensive war, Edmure goes on the attack and captures an enemy-held mill. Robb castigates him upon his return: his plan had been to goad the Mountain into pursuing his forces and subjecting The Mountain's army to a Death of a Thousand Cuts. In essence, Robb needed an obedient soldier, and Edmure gave him an ambitious warrior.
  • This is the main strength of the SGC against the Goa'uld Empire in Stargate SG-1. For all their initial technological superiority the Goa'uld approach war as an exercise in self-aggrandizement, and their armies are warriors fighting for the glory of their gods. The Tau'ri, meanwhile, are modern-day Earth humans who bring to the table an industrialized military machine and fight to achieve specific objectives, innovating as needed. This difference is specifically called out in "The Warrior" by way of comparing the two sides' main weapons:
    Col. Jack O'Neill: (hefts a staff weapon) This is a weapon of terror. It's meant to intimidate your enemy. (hefts an FN P90) This is a weapon of war. It's meant to kill your enemy.
  • In Babylon 5 we have EarthForce (Soldiers) vs. Minbari Warrior Caste (Warriors, of course). In the Earth-Minbari War, the Minbari won most battles thanks to their superior technology providing greater firepower and making their ships almost impossible to hit, but EarthForce kept them at bay for two years, and even destroyed their flagship (in the early days of the war to boot), through superior skills and dishonourable tricks such as sending a distress call and then blow up the nuclear mines when the Minbari flagship came to finish off the Earth ship, hitting the supply lines and deactivating the hyperspace beacon network in their territory and only activating what portions they needed to move supplies when they needed it. Word of God is that without the Minbari stealth superior Human skills would have ultimately won, and even then it's all but stated that the Minbari were on the verge of economic collapse when they finally found their way to Earth.
  • Seen in the Doctor Who Tenth Doctor two-parter "The Sontaran Stratagem"/"The Poison Sky". Though the Doctor describes the Sontarans as "the best soldiers in the galaxy", they act more like the Warrior stereotype: they're Glory Hounds with a Martyrdom Culture and little in the way of organized tactics (fighting as individuals instead). When they go up against UNIT troops they initially force the Redshirts—sorry, Red Berets—to retreat with heavy losses, since they've used technobabble to render their weapons inoperable. But UNIT just switches ammunition, goes right back in, and utterly demolishes the Sontaran ground forces with small-unit fireteam tactics and lots of Dakka.

     Tabletop Games  
  • In the MechWarrior/BattleTech universe, this is one of the reasons why the Inner Sphere is able to hold off the Clans. Despite the Clans being a faction of humanity who embraces this, having superior technology, a highly militarized culture, and with genetically enhanced soldiers, the clans are more like honorable combatants, fighting for individual glory and honor. The Inner Sphere, though less unified and with inferior mechs and technology, fights like soldiers, and manage to trick the clans multiple times into ambushes, one-sided routs, and more. At one point, a Clan fighter pilot pauses after damaging an Inner Sphere pilot, to salute her... and then gets blown out of the sky by the Inner Sphere pilot.
    • There's a notorious story about a group of Clan warriors who challenged a group of Inner Sphere warriors to individual combat. The Inner Sphere soldiers opened fire. The last words of one Clan warrior: "This isn't fair!"
    • In-Universe, the senior commander of Com-Star forces comments (after routing the Clans at Tukkayid) that although each individual clan warrior is better, and uses superior equipment, the Clans as a whole have spent centuries in what amounted to gladiatorial games with limited civilian fallout while the Inner Sphere factions spent centuries of total war trying to extinguish each other. This resulted in Clan leaders that could win any individual engagement but were totally unprepared to fight a campaign lasting more than a few days.
    • However, the Inner Sphere does get some of the Warrior traits depending on the Great House - House Kurita values "honor", and many commanders emphasize melee combat even when it's disadvantageous. That said, even they are not so foolish as the Clans in that regard: the armed forces of the Draconis Combine (the realm that House Kurita rules) were victorious at the Battle of Wolcott, where Clan Smoke Jaguar forces were defeated with Inner Sphere subterfuge specifically exploiting the Clan rules of engagement.
  • Magic: The Gathering: The designers split some synonymous roles of creatures amoung the five colours of Magic. It is possible for any Class Type to be in any colour, but the examples here assume where you can find the role 80% of the time.
    • Barbarians VS Berserkers: Both are classes that tend to live in the moment, and fight in the Red color pie. They are distinct, with "barbarians" being primitive and "berserkers" having some way to increase their power, or being forced to attack each turn.
    • Soldier VS Warrior: A "soldier" is a part of a formal army, in white usually, sometimes blue. A "warrior" is usually alone, or in a loose horde, in the red or green.
    • Mechanically speaking, soldiers tend to be defensively minded (they have higher toughness than power) and are often paired with abilities that help when defending, such as pumping toughness or preventing damage. Berserkers are offensively minded (they have higher power than toughness) and have offensive abilities like pumping power or trample. Warriors tend to be in the middle; they usually have good power and toughness but rarely have strong or complex abilities.
  • In Warhammer, this is the difference between Orcs and the Black Orcs. Normal greenskins are unruly brutes who have a chance to spend a turn fighting among themselves rather than following their general's orders. Black Orcs were created by the Chaos Dwarfs to be medieval Super Soldiers, and are disciplined and focused fighters able to quell lesser greenskins' animosity with a stern glare.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Soldiers would be the Tau, Imperial Guard and Necrons. Both Tau and humans have a strict, no-nonsense approach to fighting and winning war, just with different tactics involved: the Tau are like the late-war Red Army, carefully husbanding their forces with good intelligence and the precise application of long-range firepower, while the Imperial Guard are more like the early-war Red Army, carefully sacrificing forces to maximise their delivery of massed firepower from artillery and infantry. The Necrons are unthinking constructs with little in the way of a warrior culture, but are fanatically determined to slay every living thing they can get their metal hands on.
    • Warriors would be the Orks and Eldar. The Eldar have a warrior culture that has been refined over thousands of years, and view war as just as much an art form as painting or singing - though this doesn't keep them from fighting dirty, and indeed as a Dying Race they prefer to. As for da Orks, even the runtiest of boyz thinks WAAAGH!!! is a bloody good larf, while the only guiding principle in Ork society is that Might Makes Right.
      • Within the Orks, this is what separates mainstream Boyz from those who join the Storm Boyz. These lads have a strange preoccupation with marching around in uniforms, military discipline, and attempts to gather battlefield intelligence beyond the direction to the nearest enemy. Other Orks shake their heads at such eccentricities, but put up with the Storm Boyz since they're decent assault troops - plus it's always amusing when one of their Jet Packs blows up!
    • The Space Marines and Chaos Space Marines are a mix of both. They bear more of a resemblance to knightly chivalric orders than a traditional army but exactly where they fall depends on the chapter: for example, the Ultramarines with their hyper-adherence to the Codex Astartes rules of organization and tactics are more like soldiers, whereas the Vikings IN SPACE! Space Wolves and Blood Knight World Eaters more resemble warriors.
    • The Tyranids are surprisingly Soldier-like. While their only motivation is to eat the galaxy and multiply and one might think they'd be Warriors due to their use of the Zerg Rush (they were the zerg before the actual zerg were), on the battlefield they rely heavily on the centralized coordination of their Hive Mind, to the point where one of the most effective ways to deal with their ground forces is killing the larger "synapse creatures" that act like psychic radio repeaters in order to strip the swarm of its leadership. During invasions they also pre-prepare the battlefield often decades or centuries ahead of time by infiltrating genestealers into planetary populations, rather like a normal army might use covert operations forces to weaken a target before deploying the main army.
    • Abaddon the Despoiler is a Warrior. He is bar none the most powerful close-quarters combatant in the game, but that's it. Unlike most commanders, he has no support abilities to help his army. The only way he can help them is by killing enemies.
  • Dungeons & Dragons / Pathfinder:
    • In a full meta-perspective, the Soldier represents the Lawful alignments while the Warrior represents the Chaotic alignments.
    • The Paladin typically fills the role of the Soldier to a "tee," both in form and in theory, being restricted to Lawful Good alignment only; the Antipaladin, therefore, fills the role of the Warrior, as it's required to be Chaotic Evil - Paladins often act as The Cape, while Antipaladins are typically either dragons or Big Bads themselves.
      • A more benign pair of examples are the Monk, who is restricted to any of the Lawful Alignments, and the Barbarian, who cannot be Lawful (and are typically therefore played as one of the Chaotic alignments). While the Monk supports its teammates and strives for personal enlightenment, the Barbarian typically keeps count of the bodies it wracks up before anything else. However, either can be a hero, villain, or somewhere in between.

     Video Games  
  • Carth Onasi of Knights of the Old Republic is not happy to be called a warrior when Proud Warrior Race Guy Canderous Ordo compliments the Republic as Worthy Opponents. In Carth's view, a soldier's job is to protect the defenseless, and they usually have to fight conquering warriors. In contrast, Canderous' people the Mandalorians are a culture where one constantly seeks to test one's strength against the strongest possible opponent (which they see as the Republic and its Jedi peacekeepers, which is why they're usually allied to the Sith), and committed multiple genocides in the most recent war to provoke the Republic to fight them. The Republic ended up winning a Pyrrhic Victory (the circumstances are elaborated in the sequel) that led directly to the current Sith War after several of the Jedi Knights who left to fight fell to the dark side. It was implied Revan exploited the Mandalorian tendency to go full-strength into any fight by tricking them into feints and exhausting their resources by cruel use of We Have Reserves.
  • This also applies to the distant sequel Star Wars: The Old Republic. The Republic? Soldier through and through. One of the classes you can play is the commander of a special forces unit, and several companion characters of the other classes are also military-based. The Republic takes a lot of heat for being "slow," and "inefficient," but they have a larger population, better infrastructure, and a functional (though far from perfect) government. The Imperials and their Sith leadership are certainly warriors, with a culture of ruthless survival and self-advancement, led by their Ax-Crazy theocratic cabal of Sith, with a massive hit of Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. It means that only the strong survive the brutal Training from Hell and the backstab attempts from their peers. So, yes, the average Imperial would be able to defeat the average Republic counterpart. It also leaves them with fewer experienced officers, Force Users, soldiers, scientists, etc. The officer can't trust his underlings (who may be out to murder him for advancement). The underlings can't trust their commanders (who may be advancing himself by sending them into a slaughter). Worse is that the Only Sane Employee, their Intelligence Services, get very little respect. Couple that with their Fantastic Racism policies making only two races eligible for citizenship (and a third, the Chiss, nominally tolerated), with everyone else going to the slave pits unless they're Force Sensitive, and their Third World levels of infrastructure, and it's obvious why they were able to do very well with a shock and awe attack on the Republic and make early gains, but run out of steam and be in serious trouble come the Makeb arc.
  • In Mass Effect, the two different types are reflected in the turian and the krogan races, both examples of a Proud Warrior Race but in two distinct flavors:
    • Turians are extremely disciplined, organized, and collectivist soldiers. They boast the most powerful navy in the galaxy, and every turian is expected to serve in the military once they come of age. Even those that aren't currently serving are taught the importance of following orders, performing your duties earnestly, and both understanding and following protocol. Even their civilian society is Mildly Military in structure.
    • Krogan are walking Berserkers, each one boasting nearly unparalleled strength and toughness. Their culture is extremely Darwinian, with the weak culled either by natural dangers or battle, and leaders typically chosen through Asskicking Equals Authority. They make perfect infantry and shock troops, but with an unpredictable and unreliable nature. Their extremely long lifespan and high fertility meant that they could afford to fight wars of attrition.

      In the Great Offscreen War in the franchise backstory, the turians entered galactic society while the krogan were threatening to overrun the standing government. The turians implemented a countermeasure, the infamous Genophage (designed by others who weren't actually intending the turians to use it), which removed their primary strength (We Have Reserves).
    • Among the other major Citadel races, the asari are closest to the Warrior, with their focus on elite biotic commandos and the lawkeeper tradition of the justicars. They also have a Feudal Future approach to military requisitions (this despite being governed by e-democracy), with each individual asari republic equipping their commando units and militias from its own funds rather than a single national budget. This results in a chaotic variety of capabilities as a national military, which was among several factors in Thessia's rapid fall to the Reapers (whereas the more organized humans and turians were able to slow their advances on Earth and Palaven for months and the krogans beat off the Reaper attack entirely, with Shepard's help).
    • The salarians don't fit neatly anywhere on the spectrum. Like soldiers, they avoid direct combat as much as necessary and focus on winning the intelligence war so they can rapidly and surgically defeat any adversary almost before the war starts. At the same time, their military has no concept of "peacetime" and "wartime" (in fact, they consider Declarations of War immensely stupid), so their intelligence/espionage wars are fought around the clock. They take it upon themselves to deal with threats that other races either don't know about or can't publicly attack; previous persons of interest have a habit of dying from accidents or natural causes, or disappearing outright. This also means that they are constantly trying to maintain a military advantage against everyone, including their "allies".
    • Meanwhile the Systems Alliance (the main human government) are essentially soldiers and use largely 21st century Earth doctrines ported to space, complete with fighter carriers to get around Citadel restrictions on dreadnought construction. Instead of garrisoning each individual planet, the Alliance stations fleets at strategic mass relays so they can effectively defend a larger volume of space with fewer ships (but as observed in the novel Mass Effect: Revelation, this comes at the cost of slower response time). Only a small fraction of the human population serves in the military, but they make up for it with drone and mech support.
  • Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War bases its Karma Meter on this dichotomy, although it further splits the Warrior into two more archetypes: Mercenary (Only in It for the Money) and Knight (Glory Seeker). You conduct on the battlefield decides which type you'll be assigned to, which in turn determines which bosses you face.
  • Star Trek Online puts the Klingon Defense Force, which is no longer all Klingon, on a bit of a spectrum here, which is exemplified by the command crew of the flagship IKS Bortasqu' (the Klingon counterpart to the Enterprise). On the soldier end we have Doctor Harza-Kull, an Orion, and Lieutenant Commander Tarol, CMO and chief engineer respectively and who both view "honor" more along the lines of professionalism. On the other end is the tactical officer LCDR. Hark, a straight Glory Hound implied to have his eye on Captain Koren's job.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: The dynamic between the Imperial Army (Soldiers) and the Stormcloaks (Warriors). The Imperials are often seen training and performing drills, and possess uniform equipment. The Stormcloaks are basically more free-spirited and less disciplined, and there is more variety in weapons they wield - Imperial troops usually have a short sword as standard, but Stormcloaks can be armed with swords and axes of one or two-handed varieties. It also reflects in their performance in battle: a lone Stormcloak vs. a lone Imperial usually results in a Stormcloak win, but a bunch of Stormcloaks vs. a bunch of Imperials tends to be a more even fight. Also, the Imperials are unquestionably the better archers, with better bows and greater accuracy.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has several factions which fall along these lines:
    • The NCR are the most obvious "soldier" faction, having based their government and military on the model of pre-apocalypse USA. The NCR is noted to have tons of money, greater numbers, and better equipment at their disposal.
      • After them, other "soldier"-type factions include the Brotherhood of Steel and the Enclave. Both, not coincidentally, also being remnants of pre-apocalypse American military.
      • Mr. House's robot army is also on the "soldier" side, with the robots' TV screen faces even changing from police officers to soldiers once you upgrade them. Mr. House even has a military-style testing center that looks like a training course in the basement of his Lucky 38 casino. Of course this isn't that surprising, given that they are robots, and are thus programmed to to follow Mr. House's orders and fulfill his cause.
    • Caesar's Legion is the most apparent "warrior" faction, even though their culture is modeled upon the disciplined, professional Roman Legions. Legion soldiers aren't much for individual tactics beyond Attack! Attack! Attack!, and they tend to carry much more primitive equipment compared to other factions. Legionaries are also encouraged to show their strength and courage in battle, as seniority means nothing and rewards are given based solely on merit.
      • The majority of other combatant cultures also follow a warrior culture, including the Fiends, the Great Khans, the Jackals, the Vipers, and so-forth.
    • The Boomers are kind of a mix of the two. Despite being settled inside of an Air Force Base, and equipped with all sorts of destructive pre-War tech, they have a fanatical reverence for explosives and gleefully use them when given half an excuse. They're considered the ultimate Wild Card, to the point that even the NCR and the Legion are scared of going up against them.
  • Halo plays this multiple ways.
    • Between the humans and the Covenant, humans are the soldier, using an industrialized Western-style Standard Sci-Fi Army and continuous R&D, and frequently switching up their tactics. The Covenant forces (ostensibly) see the war as a religious crusade in service to their Ascent to a Higher Plane of Existence, the Great Journey, and are prone to inflexible tactics and Honor Before Reason. Unfortunately the Covenant's numerical and technological superiority is such that it doesn't often matter (especially in naval battles: Halo: The Fall of Reach comments early on that every minor ground victory the UNSC wins usually turns into a major defeat in space), and those Covenant commanders who aren't inflexible tactically, such as Thel 'Vadamee before becoming the Arbiter in Halo 2, are all the deadlier for it.
    • Within the Covenant:
      • The Sangheili/Elites play the Proud Warrior Race Guy to the hilt. In a video in Halo 2: Anniversary Edition Thel 'Vadamee is said to have once paused a surprise attack on a human military installation and allowed the Marines to get their weapons together so they could face him in a fair fight (and then he slaughtered them to a man anyway). Surprisingly, however, their strong sense of honor is part of what prompts their Heel–Face Turn in 2: They don't like being lied to, and they don't like being betrayed, both of which the Prophets did.
      • The Jiralhanae/Brutes are chiefly Blood Knights who joined the Covenant because it means they get to kill things.
      • The Kig-Yar/Jackals are mercenaries, a mix of soldiers and pirates who were more or less hired into the Covenant and privately could care less about the Great Journey.
  • In Ultima, this is an important distinction between the fighter and paladin classes: the former fights to fulfill their passion for fighting, while the latter fights to fulfill their code of honor.
  • Crusader Kings II:
    • Most realms rely on levies of warriors for their armies, which are typically dismissed once no longer needed. Tribal governments can also call up large numbers of warriors or raiders with councilor missions or by decision (or by using the Prepared Invasion casus belli if a Germanic pagan), which disperse automatically once the war ends. With the Legacy of Rome DLC, richer, typically kingdom- or empire-tier, realms can afford to create retinues, professional standing army units which are more expensive to create and maintain than levies, but also have higher stats.
    • Also seen in the distinction between "offensive" Pagan realmsnote  and everyone else. Offensive pagans get bonuses to levy size and pay no opinion penalty for raising vassals' levies, but if you're not at war, raiding, or bound by a truce, you lose a considerable amount of prestigenote  each month. Of course, given the fact that raiding is about the only way most pagan realms can support their economy, you'll rarely face this penalty.
  • In MechWarrior, the divide between the Proud Warrior Race Clans and the soldierly Inner Sphere powers is amplified by their Opposing Combat Philosophies. In Mechwarrior Living Legends, Clan vehicles are typically geared for one-on-one combat, often eschwing armor and sensors in favor of more guns and speed. Inner Sphere vehicles, while slower typically weaker in firepower, pile on experimental equipment, sensor suites, and support equipment; they possess the most advanced scout units in the game and can easily form C3 targeting networks to guide in their indirect Long Tom artillery fire that the Clanners lack, and possess more powerful air support. In the singleplayer games, the player is sometimes tasked with fighting Clanners. In Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries, the mercenary Player Character can either engage a Clan Jade Falcon lance in an prearranged honor duel, or bring twice as many mechs and slug it out.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, this is a big part of why Cloud and Barret get on each others' nerves so much. Cloud, a former military member and mercenary, views his involvement to be a job, and finds Barret a naive, overemotional blowhard. Barret, a terrorist, views his involvement as ideological, and finds Cloud to be a shallow, stuck-up jerk. Fairly early in the game, Barret changes his mind about Cloud once he realises that Cloud does have deeply-held convictions he'll fight for, and Cloud warms to Barret once he realises how thoughtful and considered he actually is.

     Web Original 

     Real Life  
  • Subverted by the United States Army "Soldier's Creed," the first two lines of which state, "I am an American Soldier. I am a Warrior and a member of a team." It seems you can be both.
  • Roman legions versus native warriors, such as Gauls, Celts, and Germans. The Romans are well-known as one of the first states to create a professional army with carefully codified tactics and organization, whereas nearly all of their opponents relied on calling up native militias. It initially went well for the Romans in most cases, but one of the things that stopped the Roman Empire's expansion was because they ran out of rich opponents to steamroll and pillage with their (very expensive) superior army. Political infighting eventually sent the Western half of the empire on a path to self-destruction and the "barbarians" moved in to pick up the pieces in the 5th century.

    The Germanic tribes also famously handed Rome one of the worst military defeats in its history in 9 CE at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. The overconfident Roman governor Publius Quinctilius Varus, spurred on by Arminius, a Roman-educated German who was spying for the tribes, led three legions, auxiliaries, and cavalry into thick woods and weather (it was pouring down rain) that favored the lightly equipped Germanic warriors. Arminius used the tribes' strength to hit the weaknesses in Roman tactics, hitting various parts of the Roman line in Hit-and-Run Tactics through the woods. When the dust settled, over 16,000 Romans were dead or enslaved (Varus included; Arminius sent his head to another chief in [vain] hopes of securing an alliance) and the Empire had lost control of everything east of the Rhine. On the flipside, in an ensuing reprisal campaign a Roman army managed to bring the Germans to battle in open field combat, the Romans' best terrain, and Arminius was later assassinated due to tribal politics.
  • The Mongols are often characterized as a barbarous example of The Horde, but in truth Genghis Khan organized them into a professional army of Soldiers, a highly-trained, -regimented, -motivated, and therefore highly-effective fighting force. The Other Wiki explains.
    • As for philosophy, the Mongols subvert this trope. Soldiers are typically employed by established, civilized entities to protect their interests. The Mongols, despite their tactical prowess and discipline, had no civilization. With their unmatched capability, they brutally destroyed every civilization they came in contact with, killing around 40 million people. It is their apparent enmity to civilization that got them characterized as an evil barbarian horde.
    • The 13th century Mongol invasion of Europe illustrates this. Though a European knight was no less a fighter than his Mongol counterpart, the Mongols had superior organization, discipline and tactics. The knightly approach to warfare, i.e. a glorious headlong charge, made them nearly helpless against the Mongol Horse Archers' use of the Defensive Feint Trap and other Hit-and-Run Tactics.
    • Similarly, the Japanese considered the Mongols to be barbaric opponents because Samurai tactics at the time were mostly about individuals finding an opponent to duel before moving on to the next honorable contest. Mongol tactics were all about killing as many of the enemy as possible as efficiently and indiscriminately as possible.
    • In China, the southern Song Dynasty actually held out against the Mongols until the Battle of Xiangyang in 1273, when the Mongol Empire had expanded all the way into Eastern Europe and the Middle East. It helped that the Song kept a standing, professional army rather than a feudal levy, making it a case of Soldiers vs. Soldiers.
  • This is often the distinction made between the US Army and the US Marine Corps, to the point that it's considered an insult to call a Marine a "soldier". Further, commanders of Army soldiers don't like elite groups like the SEALs, Rangers or Delta Force hanging out with their men, because soldiers tend to start trying to emulate them by improvising instead of keeping cover and formation, compromising the entire operation.
  • Generally (but not exclusively), Colonial forces versus natives - particularly US Army versus Native Americans, and the British versus Dervishes, Afghans, and most African groups (but technically not the Zulus, who also had an organized army). Exceptions largely prove the rule; after victories such as the Little Bighorn and the Monongahela, native forces were typically disorganized or shattered by casualties, and failed to follow up. This enabled the Europeans to come back later and clean up the pieces — "punitive expeditions" were innumerable in the colonial era.
  • Native American auxiliaries vs. Scottish Highlanders, on the same side. The native warriors would find it difficult to replace their numbers, and thought that any deaths were a failure. For this reason, they refused to do very dangerous jobs. By contrast, Scottish Highlanders were perfectly happy to charge straight into musket fire; they'd lose a few, but they'd slaughter the enemy in the ensuing close combat, and their professional status meant casualties could be replaced. As a result, the Scots thought the Americans were cowards, while the Americans thought the Scots had a deathwish.
  • In 16th-17th century Russian there was actually a semantic difference between old-style Warriors and new-style Soldiers (Soldaty, using the Saxon word for 'soldier') which quite neatly mirrored the real distinctions in recruitment and training between the two. Needless to say, and Cossacks aside, the Soldaty triumphed as the age of Gunpowder Warfare went on.
    • It is also neatly demonstrated in colonial warfare. The Cossack bands did pretty well in the initial clashes with the Siberian natives, but then they were actually a rather well ordered force compared to the most of the natives. But when the task turned to actually administrating the conquered lands, the Mildly Military Cossacks turned out rather inefficient, as they were more interested in living off the lands and often ended up needlessly brutalizing the locals, which is why the regular troops were brought in instead.
  • The Oka Crisis, one of the most famous post-confederation conflicts between the Canadian government and Native tribes (started in 1986 over a land dispute). Famously captured in this picture of a Mohawk warrior and a Canadian soldier of the Royal 22nd Regiment staring each other down.


Alternative Title(s): Soldier Versus Warrior

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SoldierVsWarrior