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That's an Order
"Here's the beer. Here's the entertainment. Now have fun. That's an Order!"
Jean Rasczak, Starship Troopers

A Stock Phrase: Someone in command orders a subordinate to do something, and adds, "That's an order." It may be to overrule objection, such as More Hero Than Thou, or to show seriousness. It may be worded differently (for example: "I wasn't asking"), but it's always to make clear that he's in charge and what he says goes.

Often used in jest, when the commander orders the friendly subordinates to do something extremely mundane, like asking for a coffee, or telling them to shut up, and jokingly adds, "That's an order."

May also be worded as "Do you need me to make that an order?" Often paired with a With Due Respect comeback on the subordinate's part.

It may lead to Just Following Orders later on if the subordinate is subsequently asked to justify his actions to others.

Not to be confused with That Wasn't a Request, which is said by people who have no official command over others but, for the moment, are ordering them around anyway and are about to use force to back up their demand.

Can be Truth in Television in the military, but somewhat rare. This is because technically, anything a lower ranking person is told to do is considered an order, and both people know it.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, Hayate attempts to order Reinforce not to sacrifice herself to save her, ("I'm your mistress! You have to do what I say!"), but Reinforce refuses to comply (saying "People dislike spoiled children. Please be obedient, Mistress" slightly later in the scene).
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Roy talks with Armstrong about Hughes' murder, and when Armstrong mentions that the investigators are looking for the "individuals" responsible. Roy asks for clarification, but Armstrong is unable to say more, even when Roy orders him as a superior officer to speak, causing him to realize that people who outrank him are involved.
  • In the Pokémon episode "Snow Way Out", Ash forces his Pokemon, including the established claustrophobe Pikachu, into their Pokeballs so that they don't freeze. They ignore him and try to keep him warm.
  • Rebuild of Evangelion. Major Katsuragi cheerfully points this out when telling Asuka and Shinji that they're now roommates.
  • Transformers Armada

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Played for Drama in Shell Shock, where the New Meat is forced to kill a defense fleeing enemy soldier under threat of death if she doesn't do it.
  • Played for angst in the Galaxy Rangers fic "Chrysalis". The Rangers are captured, and the other three believe Zach is dead, leaving Doc in charge. Doc is normally the Deadpan Snarker and wants nothing to do with command. After Niko is taken away and tortured, she is dumped back in the cell, and Doc uses this line on her to try and make sure she doesn't fall asleep and never wake up again.
  • Adds a drop of humor to what might otherwise be a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming in the Fullmetal Alchemist fic "Brilliancy." During a subtly emotional reunion between two military spouses, the higher-ranked one issues the directive "Never leave me again," which is followed with "That's an Order."
  • Happens a couple of times in Tiberium Wars. The first is when Commander Karrde is taking control of the battalion of GDI troops around the Pentagon, and has to verbally browbeat their commanding officer into following his orders. Later, when Nod Commander Rawne ends up at the research facility in Brazil, the local Black Hand general (who outranks him) refuses to take Rawne's advice to evacuate, and when Rawne presses him he emphatically tells him to shut up and take command of the garrison instead of questioning his orders in front of the command staff.
  • A comedic variation in the Mass Effect fic The Translation in Blood. Commander Shepard is trying to figure out why a whole bunch of supplies have been diverted to the Normandy SR-2 and eventually goes to her mother, Rear Admiral Hannah Shepard.
    Hannah: Leave it be. I know what's happening. Think of it as a gift, there's nothing malicious behind it. Alright?
    Shepard: (grumbles something unintelligible)
    Hannah: (in her "giving orders" voice) You want to repeat that, soldier?
    Shepard: (snaps to attention) No ma'am. (beat) Hey, that's cheating.
  • A variant borrowed from Firefly in chapter three of the Star Trek Online fic Red Fire, Red Planet, when Brokosh sees the need to reinforce his authority over his ex-gangster Nausicaan ops officer. (Norigom had just mouthed off to a Klingon general.)
    Brokosh: Norigom, you will keep a civil tongue in that mouth when speaking to a superior officer or I will sew it shut. Do we have an understanding between us?
    Norigom: You don’t pay me to talk pretty. Just because—
    Brokosh: NORIGOM!
    Norigom: (meekly) Yes, Captain.

    Films 
  • Full Metal Jacket: Said by Cowboy to Animal Mother when Cowboy tells him to wait for the tank and not to try recovering the wounded Marines shot by the sniper, to which Animal Mother responds with a big "fuck you".
  • In Air Force One, the President is being held hostage and can't speak directly to the White House, but has a cell phone hidden in his pocket. He mentions to his captor that even if they wanted to, the F-15s escorting the plane couldn't shoot them down because of the plane's automatic counter-measures. When one of the officers eavesdropping remarks the President can't be suggesting they fire on Air Force One, the Vice-President replies it wasn't a suggestion. It was a direct order from their Commander-In-Chief.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Norrington orders Governor Swann to barricade himself in Norrington's office. "That's an order, sir!"
  • WALL•E: The captain of the Axiom finds out about the classified order A-113 to not return to earth by using this phrase.
  • Wing Commander, used by Lieutenant Colonel Devereaux in several versions of the trope phrase.
  • Hitler's Villainous Breakdown in Downfall begins with him screaming about how Steiner's attack, which he could not carry out because he didn't have enough men, was an order.
  • Gravity. Mission Control warns about the approaching Flechette Storm of space debris, so Kowalski tells Dr Stone to get inside the space shuttle immediately. She says, "Just a second" as she's securing the Hubble equipment, but Kowalski snaps "Not in a second — NOW!"

    Literature 
  • In one Artemis Fowl book, Root tells Foaly the Insufferable Genius to do something, so Foaly asks whether it's an order. Root says it is, to which Foaly replies that he's not a soldier.
  • Shards of Honor: Bothari is back off his rocker after assassinating Vorrutyer. Cordelia attempts to order him to attention so she can give him a sedative. It doesn't go well.
  • Honor Harrington has this on an understandably regular basis, but a notable case is when Hamish Alexander illegally orders Honor not to have a duel with a civilian. She knows perfectly well that it's not in his jurisdiction, and moreover, wouldn't especially care at the moment.
  • In the novel The Man (which takes place in the mid-1960s), the first black U.S. president (who took office because of the deaths of the president, vice president and speaker of the House) tells his bigoted general he wants something done. The general makes some lame reply and the president tells him that it wasn't a suggestion but that "I order it, I order it now!"
  • Tom Clancy uses a variation in several of his books. Military characters almost never need to be told twice when given an order. However, several characters with military backgrounds but civilian jobs occasionally deal with career soldiers who outranked them in their previous life. When these high-ranking officers want these civilians to do something, the civilians have their own opinions about it until they are told that if they don't obey, they'll be recalled to active duty, where they'll have to listen. Compliance usually follows quickly.
    • A notable example in Without Remorse: a few years after leaving the Navy, John Clark is contacted by an Admiral about a mission in Vietnam. A group of high-ranking POWs is being held in an area that Clark visited as part of a previous operation, and the Admiral wants his know-how and expertise for planning a rescue attempt. When Clark demurs, obviously reluctant to go back after two previous tours, the Admiral offers him a choice: he can do the job as a civilian contractor with relative freedom, nice pay, and an expense account; or he can be recalled to active duty status with considerably less pay and placed under the iron thumb of military protocol. Either way, he's doing the job.
  • Subverted in Atlas Shrugged, when Mr. Thompson tries to coax John Galt into sacrificing his principles to save the country without giving him orders. Galt twice asks Mr. Thompson if what he's telling him is an order, and Mr. Thompson is quick to insist it's not.
  • Jake does a variant of this once in Animorphs, telling Ax it's an order from his Prince when the Andalite is balking at something. This emphasizes Jake's aggravation, since he normally tells Ax not to call him Prince.
    • It's also how Tobias gets around his promise to Ax that he won't tell the others that Ax is going off on a suicide mission alone. Sure, he promised Ax that he wouldn't tell Jake. But Jake is his prince. So if Jake *ordered* him to tell the truth...
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • In the first book, King Robert Baratheon orders Eddard Stark to enjoy a cup of wine: "Drink. Your king commands it."
    • A variant occurs when Queen Daenerys Targaryen loses her temper at her advisor Jorah Mormont.
    Jorah: If my queen commands...
    Daenerys: She does. She commands!
  • Overridden in The Atrocity Archive. Bob Howard's line manager Bridget starts grouching at him for being behind on his timesheets or something similarly insignificant, and demands that he tell her what he's been up to, calling the trope name. Bob's actual boss, Angleton, overhears.
    Angleton: Bridget, you don't have clearance. Drop it. That's an order.
  • In the Gor series a slave is supposed to follow any command given by her (or rarely his) master instantly. If she doesn't, whether she is being coy or recalcitrant, the master may say "must a command be repeated?" This is a hint to the slave that you better do it now or else you'll be punished. Masters realize though that sometimes a slave honestly doesn't hear an order or is confused by it, and this can be forgiven.
  • Kel does this occasionally in Protector of the Small, mostly in the last two books. She shuts down an argumentative corporal when she's abruptly made a squad leader by grabbing his shirt in Squire. Usually she delivers it more calmly; when her knight friends (who are also her old classmates) start to argue, she firmly reminds them that she's telling them what to do, not starting a conversation.
  • Bush does this to Hornblower a lot in Lieutenant Hornblower, ordering him to drink water and eat, and getting Buckland to make "get some rest" an order as well because Hornblower habitually neglects all of those things.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5: In the episode "War Without End Part I", Sheridan tells Garibaldi this when the latter wants to follow them to B4.
  • Blackadder: "That is an ORDER, Baldrick!"
  • Doctor Who:
    • Used in the episode "The Two Doctors: Part 1"
    • "Evolution of the Daleks"
      "Martha, that's an order."
      "What're you, then, some sort of Dalek?"
  • Many times on JAG.
  • Langt fra Las Vegas ("Show me your boobs! That's an order!")
  • Lost in Space episode "Return from Outer Space"
  • Mash:
    • "Hot Lips and Empty Arms", "House Arrest" and others.
    • "Henry, Please Come Home"
      Burns: Take it out of here; that's an order.
    • Note that use of the phrase, when directed at Hawkeye or Trapper, was no guarantee that the order in question would be heeded.
    Margaret: Frank, give them a direct order!
    Hawkeye: Oh, do, Frank; we've never ignored one of those before.
    • Hawkeye usually followed orders from Colonel Potter, as he had a lot more respect for Potter. One notable time he didn't was when Potter ordered him to fire a weapon at an unseen attacker (something he absolutely refused to do for anyone).
    Potter: That was an order, Pierce!
    Hawkeye: Oh, waiter! Take this man's order.
    • Actually, he technically did follow it, by firing it into the air so as to avoid actually hitting anyone with it, but still not violate the order. (And Potter actually found that acceptable, later admitting that even he was a hopeless shot with it.)
    Potter: You don't have to hit anything. Just fire it into the air, scare the bajeebies out of 'em! Think of it as the biggest noisemaker in all of Korea!
    Hawkeye: That I can do! ... There. I used all my bullets, can I go home?
  • NCIS:
    • An exchange from the episode "Masquerade":
      Gibbs: Go. That's an order. Now leave.
      McGee: It's an order I'm disobeying.
    • Tony gets a few of these too, usually at around the time when Tony's frat-boy personality has made the audience forget that he in fact is Gibbs' second-in-command.
  • Red Dwarf episodes "Balance of Power" and "Ouroboros"
  • Star Trek: The Original Series had this phrase in 13 different episodes.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • From the episode "In the Pale Moonlight":
      Sisko: Perhaps I didn't make myself clear, Doctor. This is not a request, it's an order. You will package eighty five litres of biomimetic gel for interstellar transport and deliver them to Cargo Bay 3. Is that understood?
    • Bashir responds with the followup listed in the Real Life folder, however, by requesting that Sisko put the orders in writing and appending his own official protest.
    • Sisko also does this to Nog in "Paradise Lost". Let's just say that he can put the fear of God into any subordinate when he needs to.
      Sisko: Cadet, you seem to be under the mistaken impression that I am asking you for a favor. I want a name, and I want it now, and that is an order! Understood, Mr. Nog?
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • "The Mind's Eye" has a memorable one: the audience knows Data has an excellent reason for this, but Worf doesn't:
      Data: Take Commander LaForge into custody immediately.
      Worf: Sir?
      Data: That is an order.
    • The actual trope title is in 14 episodes, "that is an order" in six.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: Used in the episodes "Displaced", "Relativity", "Scorpion: Part 1", "Unimatrix Zero" and "Year of Hell: Part 2". Played with in "Displaced", when it's Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres (both Lieutenants):
    Paris: On your feet, that's an order!
    Torres: You can't give me orders — we're the same rank.
    Paris: I'm a bridge officer, and I have seniority.
    Torres: Yeah, by about two days!
    • B'Elanna gets her revenge when Tom is busted down a rank in "Thirty Days".
    Torres: Rumor has it you're free for dinner.
    Paris: Gee, I don't know. Are you sure you want to be seen associating with an ex-con?
    Torres: My quarters, 0700. That's an order...Ensign.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise used the phrase in episodes "Acquisition", "Desert Crossing", "Minefield" and "Shuttlepod One"
  • That '70s Show
  • The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles episode "German East Africa, December 1916"
  • Torchwood episodes "Captain Jack Harkness", "Meat"
  • Several episodes of Stargate SG-1 and, more rarely, Stargate Atlantis. Generally only used with civilians (who will occasionally point out that they don't actually have to do what the military leaders tell them to) or with soldiers when being ordered to retreat and/or leave their leader behind.
  • Skinner tries (and often fails) to do this in The X-Files. Actually lampshaded in the episode "Triangle", in which Skinner orders Mulder to rest after being pulled from the sea. One of Mulder's friends laughs, "Not that he takes orders."
  • Barack Obama ordering General Odierno to crop Stephen Colbert's hair.
  • Hogan's Heroes:
    • Even Hogan used it at least once - he was about to make a total guess at how to disable a bomb (a wrong guess would detonate it) and had already told his men to get back, but they weren't going to leave him.
    • More in keeping with the comedic tone of the show, he also pulled it on his men when they had to dress up as women (It Makes Sense in Context). To be fair, he dressed up too.
  • Disney's The Swamp Fox had one of these, with Marion trying to prevent his girlfriend's house being burned down by ordering some of the group, who were members of his militia, to stand down and leave.
  • Mac uses this in CSI: NY to convince a mentally unstable man who believed he was a Marine to secure his weapon. Mac played into the man's delusion and pretended to be the guys superior giving him an order to secure his weapon.
  • An episode of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger has Ahim saying this to keep an injured Gai from getting back up and fighting the Monster of the Week. It's one of the rare moments where we get a peek behind her exterior and start to understand exactly why she of all people is a Space Pirate.
  • Firefly:
    • Captain Mal wants their medic-on-board Simon to take his crazy sister River for a walk because he needs to do some clandestine business and "she makes things not be smooth". Simon is reluctant to go as they are fugitives and he doesn't want to get caught.
      Simon: Still, I'm not sure it's such a wise suggestion.
      Mal: Might not wanna mistake it for a suggestion.
    • In "Out of Gas", Serenity is damaged and Mal needs his pilot Wash on the bridge. Wash's wife Zoe was seriously hurt in the accident and Wash wants to be with her.
      Wash: I'm not leaving her side, Mal! Don't ask me again.
      Mal: I wasn't asking. I was telling.
  • A silent version occurs in Game of Thrones. King Robert's son has been bitten by a pet direwolf belonging to one of Ned Stark's daughters. The direwolf flees, so Robert orders the direwolf belonging to his other daughter killed in surrogate retaliation. Because Ned and Robert are Fire-Forged Friends, Ned blurts out "Is this your command?" Robert just turns and looks at Ned coldly, before walking out.
    Tyrion: I will not have you die on my behalf, do you hear me?
    Pod: My lord...
    Tyrion: Pod, I'm giving you an order. Go and find my brother, and tell him I need him. And get yourself out of Kings Landing before it's too late. (Pod refuses to look at him) POD! (Pod looks up) This is farewell.
  • On 3rd Rock from the Sun, this phrase was often used by Dick or whoever else happened to be in command. The other aliens were only mildly more inclined to obey when the phrase was spoken. Sometimes, they grudgingly obeyed, but not without insubordinate sarcasm.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Theatre 
  • In Knickerbocker Holiday, Schermerhorn, the town marshal, tells Brom he will go to jail, without giving him a reason because no law can be found to hang him with. Brom asks Schermerhorn whether he is giving him an order, and Schermerhorn tries again: "Vill you go to jail? Please?" Brom doesn't take that as an order.

    Videogames 
  • Ace Combat 6
  • Halo
  • Gods Eater Burst: Used a few times by Lindow Amamiya to cement his rule of "Don't die." Later used by him, after transforming into Corrosive Hannibal, telling his comrades to run away so that he can end his own life. The (normally) Silent Protagonist then throws it back in his face, telling him to not run away from living, punctuating it with "That's an order!".
  • X Fire
  • From Deus Ex: "You'll behave like a professional, that's an order." (Usually said in response to you tossing potted plants at your boss.)
  • In Modern Warfare 2, General Shepherd says this to Price while telling him to stand down, when the latter shows him his plan to hijack a Russian nuclear missile sub.
  • Metroid: Fusion, as Adam orders Samus to destroy SR-338: "That's an order! Any objections, lady?"
  • Metal Gear, as Snake approaches the lair of the Metal Gear: "Solid Snake! The operation is cancelled! Return at once. That's an order!! Cut power to the MSX!! ...Over."
  • L.A. Noire has Phelps use this In his final WWII Flash Back when he orders his platoon to put the burning Japanese civilians out of their misery.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines
  • G.I. Joe (1985), episode "Let's Play Soldier"
  • Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles, episode "Angels in the Night"
  • Beast Wars, episodes "Beast Wars: Part 1" and "Victory"
  • Tripping the Rift, episode "Miss Galaxy 5000"
  • Vakama Hordika to his Visorak army in BIONICLE 3, after they hesitate to disband.
  • Birdman episode "Vulturo, Prince of Darkness". After Birdman has been defeated by Vulturo he orders his eagle Sidekick Avenger to leave him and try to save some people nearby. When Avenger is reluctant to abandon him, Birdman makes it an order.
  • Jonny Quest episode "Terror Island". Race Bannon orders the boys to take the bulldozer down to the dock where they'll be safe. They disobey him and ram the building the others are trapped in, saving them from being eaten by giant monsters.
  • This happens in an episode of Adventures of the Gummi Bears ("Lower the drawbridge! That is a royal command!")
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Mr. Krabs sometimes tells his employees that something is an order.
  • The New Adventures of Superman episode "The Force Phantom". The "force creature" attacking Superman is powered by a generator on the Deimosian ship. The Deimosian captain orders that the generator be turned up to deliver more power. When his lieutenant objects the captain says "That is an order!"
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Commander Zhao is requesting use of the Yu Yan Archers, an elite Fire Nation sniper unit, to capture the Avatar, but their commander is stonewalling him, claiming that the archers are too valuable to send after just one person. Cue the arrival of a messenger hawk with a letter for Zhao...
    Zhao: It appears I've been promoted to Admiral. My request is now an order.
  • 1973/74 Super Friends episode "The Power Pirate". When the cruise ship Queen Victoria is in danger of washing up on the rocks Aquaman signals them to drop anchor. The captain orders that the anchors be dropped and his subordinate says that they'll never hold. The captain says firmly "That's an order!"
  • Nightwing and Robin in the first episode of Young Justice: Invasion.
    Nightwing: "Just don't die, okay? And no unnecessary risks to the squad. That's an order."

    Truth In Television 
  • A suggested inversion: Given that Just Following Orders is expressly not a legal defense for unlawful actions committed by military personnel, a soldier told to do something morally ambiguous or objectionable might ask if that was an order, to give the officer a chance to reconsider or pass it off as a joke or misunderstanding and drop the matter. Another suggestion is to ask for the orders in writing, so the officer would be forced to tie themselves to the crime as well, giving them motivation to drop the matter instead, or at the very least ensure he gets punished along with them.

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