Our captain has a handicap to cope with, sad to tell.
He's from Georgia, and he doesn't speak the language very well.
— Tom Lehrer
, It Makes A Fellow Proud To Be A Soldier
Hailing from the Deep South
of the continental United States, he's a stereotypical cigar-chompin' Good Ol' Boy
who thinks shootin' and blowin' stuff up
is nothing but fun or at least doesn't take it as seriously as others in The Squad
He speaks with a heavy drawl or accent and often peppers his speech with odd euphemisms or folksy sayings that leave others confused or at a loss for words. Should he earn a promotion to officer, this will manifest as addressing his subordinates as "Son" and "Boy".
His apparent lack of common sense is meant to indicate limited intelligence in general, and he's sometimes shown having a hard time understanding things that more urban-bred (and therefore educated) members of The Squad
have no trouble at all with. On the other hand, he usually excels at shootin', fightin', and findin' things in the woods — all skills you need to be a good soldier — because he's been doing those since birth back home.
He's the foil for any minority or New Meat
soldiers in the unit, as he almost exclusively gets to play the role of the insular xenophobe. Of course, if he makes it as far as participating in some foreign battle zone, you can count on him ignorantly blundering about and angering the locals to the frustration of his commanders.
Even if this character is written as an officer, it is important to remember that this is a class-specific trope. A military officer with southern accent, a good education and a genteel matter is not usually a Southern-Fried Private
, but an attempt by the writer to provide some variety among a group of characters who might otherwise speak and dress pretty much the same. Good examples of this type would be "Bones" McCoy
(DeForest Kelley) on Star Trek: The Original Series
, Surgeon Wilkins (Chill Wills) in the John Wayne
cavalry classic Rio Grande
, and Chief Engineer "Trip" Tucker on Star Trek: Enterprise
For those outside the US? Any geographical area of any country that's seen as being a bit backwards
or woodsy can breed a non-US version of this character.
Despite the title, this trope is not a cross between Groin Attack
and Kill It with Fire
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Anime and Manga
- The Black Tri-Stars of Mobile Suit Gundam were given thick Southern accents in the dub, which carry over to appearances in other media, including the Dynasty Warriors Gundam series.
- Barry Pepper as squad sharpshooter Pvt. Jackson speaks in a southern drawl and prays out loud while he blows away Nazis in Saving Private Ryan.
Jackson: Be thou not far from me, oh Lord... <Blam!> Oh my strength, haste thee to help me... <Blam!>
- Vernon Pinkley in the The Dirty Dozen. There's also Archer Maggot, but he's a genuine full-blown psychopath, not just an ignorant, insular hick.
- Averted in the film Jarhead where the character Kruger (Lucas Black) is a Texan with a very thick accent and displays some of the tendencies above, but is by far the most outspoken critic of the military operation (such as the lack of free speech for soldiers and possible health dangers of the anti-chemical weapon pills they're given).
- Hamburger Hill Sgt. Dennis "Dont mean Nuttin" Worchester.
- Chef from Apocalypse Now.
- Numerous characters in The Thin Red Line, some of them needlessly aggressive, others prone to articulate philosophizing.
- Lt. Aldo Raine. He's a Lieutenant, not a Private, but he's still a hick from Maynardville, Tennessee—he even brings up making moonshine at one point.
- Conrad in Three Kings - "I rigged the football with C-4, sir.". Although possibly subverted, as he later gains respect for the Iraqi locals, so much so that he requests to be interred by them.
- PFC Forrest Gump in the movie of the same name. Also his buddy Bubba Blue.
Lieut. Dan: Where' you boys from in The World?
Gump and Blue: Alabama, sir!
Dan (amused): You twins?
Gump (confused): No. We are not relations, sir.
- Private Cowboy in Full Metal Jacket. Subverted in the book, where they only call him that because of his hat.
- Will Stockdale, the PLO (Permanent Latrine Orderly) in No Time For Sergeants.
- Pvt. L.Q. Jones from Alabama in the 1955 film Battle Cry. Full of folksy sayings and with the habit of launching into unflattering impersonations of the Drill Sergeant Nasty just as said sergeant enters the room behind him. Tellingly, he never rises from the rank of private over the course of the film.
- Ripper from The Zone novels, who drives everyone mad with his unbelievable stories of his family's misadventures back home in Hicksville.
- The West Virginian uptimers in the 1632 series plays with this. While the Americans are quite intelligent and adaptable contrary to the "stupid hick" stereotype, several are easy-going good natured fellows when they are not blowing things up, at times to the point of giving a Mildly Military impression to some observers.
- Corporal Opie Dalrymple in Rally Round the Flag, Boys! by Max Shulman. He was a country music star before he was drafted, but being in the Army doesn't stop him from writing new songs or weaken his drawl.
Live Action TV
- Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., arguably a light-hearted take on the trope. Gomer was too nice to picture him as an "insular xenophobe" though he is certainly "insular".
- Luther Rizzo from the later seasons of M*A*S*H fits in here, although he's actually a sergeant and doesn't do a lot of shooting or bombing. He hails from Louisiana, is fond of cigars and folksy sayings, and when kids from the orphanage are reluctant to try his Cajun cooking at a Christmas feast, he blames it on them being from North Korea, and the way he says 'North' suggests he's not thinking of Communists.
- Denver 'Bull' Randleman from Band of Brothers, to a certain degree. The other NC Os tease him for his "folksy wisdom," but when the replacements laugh along, they make it explicitly clear that he is one of the most intelligent men in the company.
- Truth in Television
- Let's not forget that random paratrooper from F company that Blithe and Hoobler linked up with who isn't too impressed by Hoobler calling him a yokel.
- The Pacific: Sid Phillips and Eugene Sledge are from Mobile, Alabama; Merriel "Snafu" Shelton is from Louisiana.
- A subversion is Finn Abernathy of Bones, who exhibits all of the traits above (especially colloquial speech), but is extremely brilliant, impressing even Brennan.
- Private Benjamin has a female version, Pvt. Hubble.
- Tom Lehrer's "It Makes a Fellow Proud to Be a Soldier", as quoted above.
- Beetle Bailey had one of these, named "Bammy", in its early years.
- Inverted with Dell Conagher, the Engineer from Team Fortress 2. He is referred to as a "good ol' boy" in his profile, but also has eleven PhDs and tends to engage in Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness. Also unlike most "good ol' boys," the Engie is as far from a frontline combatant as a class can be (yes, even the Sniper).
- Haggard from Battlefield: Bad Company averts this trope to an extent. One one side, he has a southern accent, is somewhat dumb, has dated a cousin, and he's only in the army because he loves blowing things up. On the other, he welcomes the new guy as easily as the rest of the squad does, is more trusting of the hostage than Sarge is, and merrily hops across a border chasing the same gold the rest of the squad has to persuade itself to chase.
- In Grand Theft Auto IV, there's a TV show Halo parody called Republican Space Rangers, in which three such characters explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, and nuke them all to hell for being weird and different.
- Just about anyone with a speaking role in Starcraft, from the main characters of General Edmund Duke, Jim Raynor, and Raynor's buddy Tychus Finnely all the way down to the Terran Marines.
- Corporal Dunn of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has a southern accent, and is a bit less serious about the Rangers' situation than Foley, at least when not under fire. He also has something of a sarcastic streak and displays some disdain towards General Shephard and his "prima donna unit".
- A Star Wars version is Smugglers' companion Corso Riggs from Star Wars: The Old Republic. Complete with drawl (yes, "Yee-Haw" is one of his battle cries), old fashioned attitudes towards women, and cheerful enthusiam towards his collection of weaponry.
- Private O'Hanrahan, a minor character from Fallout: New Vegas, is one of these. Contrary to stereotypes, he's a Gentle Giant who hates the notion of violence and thinks kindness to others is the best path. He's also one of the tallest characters in the game as well as one of the stronger minor named NPCs (at 8 Strength, just shy of Super Mutant levels).