Military and war stories have a number of different levels of focus, from the global strategic level all the way down to squad tactics, and even the plights of individual soldiers on the battleground.
When the focus is at the smaller end of the scale, we get this trope. Very often, this is a squad composed (like a Five-Man Band
or The Team
) of interlocking character types or roles.
There are quite a few similarities with the types and roles of the Command Roster
. The main difference is the Command Roster
is a very specific combination of skills that may not be strictly military
. The Squad
may be a Badass Crew
and have a Squad Nickname
. If it's made up of women, it's an example of an Amazon Brigade
The trope's inspiration comes from the fireteam
units of infantrymen used by militaries to this day. Possibly first appearing in the Napoleonic Wars
where open order skirmishers armed with rifles at the time more accurate but slower to reload than standard muskets would depend on coordination for them to stealthily get into position for a good shot and minimize exposure to the weight of fire of much larger densely-formed musket-wielding line infantry units that were around the battlefield, the concept was codified in World War 1
where breech-loading rifles using smokeless powder (gunpowder in the Napoleonic Wars
was black powder that would quickly fill the area around a shooter firing repeatedly with thick smoke that would render firing accurately impropable) had become commonplace to render the average infantryman much more potentially accurate and quick-firing than he was before (let alone the proliferation of machine gun crews
) which granted a huge advantage to defenders in cover that would inevitably shoot first when a mass of men approached them. Military science thus experimented with infantrymen attacking fortified positions by approaching with methodical covertness in significantly smaller groups to avoid troops being quickly mostly killed at first contact from being in a large gathering until the concept eventually became the infantry's default grouping at the smallest level.
Some of those character types and roles:
If the story follows the characters through boot camp, or specialized training, expect to see Drill Sergeant Nasty
make an appearance. If the story follows them after the war, expect at least one Shell-Shocked Senior
Some works featuring The Squad
- Band of Brothers
- Black Sheep Squadron
- Brothers in Arms (essentially Band of Brothers: The Game)
- Over There
- The Rat Patrol
- Tour of Duty
- Space: Above and Beyond
- The Unit
- Gears of War
- Halo 3 ODST and Reach, as well as Halo 4's "Spartan Ops" co-op campaign.
- Clive Barker's Jericho
- Battlefield: Bad Company
- Generation Kill
- Exo Squad
- Star Wars X Wing both Rogue and Wraith Squadrons, though Wraith Squadron features more ground/Special Operations missions
- Star Wars: Republic Commando, both the Video Game and the novels
- Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles
- Gaunt's Ghosts of Warhammer 40,000
- Toshokan Sensou
- Mobile Suit Gundam The 08 Th MS Team
- Valkyria Chronicles
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS
- ''The Zone'' novels by James Rouch.
- Saving Private Ryan
- Call of Duty
- The Gold Eagle Books action-adventure series of the 1980's — SOBS (Soldiers of Barrabas, a mercenary unit secretly employed by the US Government), and the anti-terrorist groups Phoenix Force and Able Team.
- Team Fortress 2 has a squad consisting of deranged mercenaries and parodies of the above tropes.
- Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault gives us a main character with a voice and a personality, as well as a distinctive squad to support him.
- Ghost in the Shell (the Japanese-language title is really their official group designation)
- The Black Company
- All Quiet on the Western Front
- World in Conflict
- Dawn of War 2
- Pumpkin Scissors
- General Chaos, which makes players choose between four different squad types.
- Mass Effect 1, Mass Effect 2, and Mass Effect 3 all play the trope fairly straight with a few character-based subversions.
- Tomahawk: Tomahawk commanded a squad of guerrilla soldiers known as Tomahawk's Rangers.
- J Squad in Edge of Tomorrow.