decorated war vet who teaches novice officers instead of advancing up the Common Ranks ladder. Probably a military legend and always gets his chance to shine in the Old Master or Retired Badass way sooner or later. There can be various reasons for him getting stuck in that position:
- He has a reputation of a Military Maverick who wouldn't make a very good commander (at least, in his superiors' eyes).
- He considers teaching the next generation more important than fighting itself, so he deliberately refuses promotion.
- He has actually already retired but was reactivated because the military needed skilled personnel badly.
- He is assigned this duty as his military's standard policy of assigning notable combat veterans as instructors since they are considered more useful teaching new recruits the skills they learned in the field. He usually hates being taken out of the action, but gradually realizes that the policy is right as he gets scores of new recruits ready for battle.
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Anime & Manga
- Nanoha Takamachi in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S is the second type. Notable in that she is already a veteran at the age of 19 due to having been on the job from the age of 9.
- One Piece: Marine Vice Admiral Monkey D. Garp becomes this in the Time Skip, retiring from his Marine duties while staying as an instructor to teach young Marines. Even before the time skip he manages to turn two wimps Coby and Helmeppo into hardened Marine officers.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, the Earth Alliance tried to do this to Mu La Flaga at Alaska by reassigning him as a training instructor in California. He was about to get on the boat leaving Alaska until he remembered he'd forgotten something and ran back to the base to get it * . The result is that he's still on-base when ZAFT attacks and the boat leaves without him, so he stays with the Archangel.
- In Judge Dredd, Street Judges who have been injured/wounded in ways that leave them no longer useful to serve on active duty are often given teaching posts at the Academy of Law to train young cadets to be future Judges.
- Sgt. Rock has pulled training duty stateside, but is so committed to Easy Company that he insists on rejoining them on his furloughs.
- Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story has the protagonist team trained by legendary (wheelchair bound) dodgeball player Patches O'Houlihan.
- Gunny Highway in Heartbreak Ridge. He is sent back to school to train a Recon squad, even though he is a highly decorated Marine. Yeah, he tends to get into bar fights and tell off his superior officers.
- Both LTC Moore and CSM Plumley in We Were Soldiers.
- SFC Clell Hazard in Gardens of Stone.
- In Top Gun, the flight instructors at the eponymous school are all experienced veteran pilots. At the end of the movie, Maverick suggests that he might want to become an instructor himself. In the novel, he does.
- Senior Chief Randall in The Guardian was a veteran Coast Guard rescue swimmer who took a teaching assignment at the training center. The movie was based on a true story.
- In The Tuskegee Airmen, the trainees - the first African Americans ever trained as pilots by the US military - are surprised that one of their lead instructors is also African American... and that the other instructors often defer to him. He turns out to be the only instructor with combat experience (having previously served in the Royal Canadian Air Force).
- Terry Pratchett has Sergeant Jackrum of the Borogravian army in Monstrous Regiment, who's been in the army so long that retirement papers have been in hot pursuit for years now, but has never advanced any further in rank. It's implied Jackrum's responsible for recruiting and training most of the high ranking officers in the army.
- Commissar Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM) becomes a Commissariat instructor in an Schola Progenium once he's reached his "retirement". The God Emperor having a sick sense of humor, being retired does not make him any less likely to be eaten, shot, or otherwise attacked than when he was still active.
- After the war ends in Animorphs, Jake works training a squadron of morphers for the US military.
- Honor Harrington spends a couple years as commandant of the Advanced Tactical Course at Saganami Island while grounded undergoing medical treatment.
- Robert A. Heinlein's novel Starship Troopers has a Retired Badass - a famous war hero In-Universe - commanding the Mobile Infantry's Officer Candidate School, even taking a (temporary) demotion from General to do so.
Rico: Yes, that Nielsen...
- Pretty much all instructors at the Mobile Infantry Officer Candidate School are this. They are not as famous In-Universe, but they are all war heroes and Retired Badasses who received invalidating wounds and refused to be discharged, and so were posted there to teach officer candidates how to do their job. The most notable of them are the History and Philosophy teacher, a blind man with a sharp brain, and a paraplegic combat instructor who can still kick the asses of the candidate officers.
- Aral Vorkosigan in the Vorkosigan Saga regularly takes time out from his duties to give the seminar at the Imperial Academy about how to know when an order is criminal and what to do then.
- For the first book of the X-Wing Series, Tycho Celchu serves this role in Rogue Squadron, helping train the next generation of pilots while serving as Wedge Antille's executive officer. He would be flying combat missions, there's just the matter of him being a suspected Manchurian Agent that has New Republic Intelligence adamantly against the idea.
- Invoked in Enders Game. Mazer Rackham, Earth's most successful commander against the Buggers, is forced to travel for fifty years at relativistic speeds so that he'll be able to transmit his knowledge to Ender, who was literally born and bred for the role.
Live Action TV
- At the end of one season of Bones, Booth (a former Army Ranger sharpshooter) was reactivated and went to Afganistan to train snipers.
- John Basilone in The Pacific goes from receiving the Medal of Honor to being put in charge of training Marines at Camp Pendleton.
- At the conclusion of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, O'Brien heads back to Earth to become one of these at the Academy. He'd been doing a fair bit of the Veteran Instructor schtick as part of his regular duties during the last two seasons anyway.
- In Warhammer 40,000, one Space Marines special character is Ultramarines scout sergeant Tellion, who stayed a sergeant to teach new recruits, and has even been loaned out to the Ultramarines' successor chapters to further distribute his skills. This seems to be a common occurrence among scout sergeants, see below.
- In BattleTech, Clan sibko instructors subvert this; rather than being decorated veterans sent to educate the next generation they have been removed from active duty thanks to age, poor performance or political disgrace. The majority of them are very bitter about this and are more than willing to take out their anger on the teenaged cadets they train; which is probably one of the the reasons (along with all training being done with live weapons) why Clan training programs have a 90% attrition rate.
- Jack Bartlett from Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War is Type 1: because of his actions during the Belkan War, his superiors mistrust him without any proof, so he is stuck teaching "nuggets" on Sand Island. Gets to shine late in the game when he escapes a squadron of fighters with precious cargo on board a transport plane (though, to be fair, you assist him) and then pulls off an Airstrike Impossible like your own team on his own.
- Also, an inversion in Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War: legendary ace Dietrich Kellermann, who became an instructor after retirement, is sent back to the frontlines during the Belkan War to boost the Belkans' morale.
- Master Miller of Metal Gear has served with Big Boss back when he was running the MSF, then trained SEALs and other mercenary outfits.
- Sergeant Cyrus from Dawn of War 2 is a veteran Blood Raven who prefers to teach the chapter's initiates as Scout Marines and is implied to have trained the player character and the rest of the main squad. This doesn't stop him from playing an active role during the Tyranid invasion, Chaos incursion, and chapter civil war, nor will it stop him from bringing along his Initiates - it's part of their training, after all.
- Truth in Television. During WWII, the Allies would pull their best aces out of combat and send them back to train new pilots. This served two purposes: it kept famous aces from being killed in combat, thus avoiding the blow to morale that it would cause, and it allowed new trainees to benefit from the aces' vastly greater experience, making them better pilots. It must have been a great incentive for pilots to excel, aka "Make Ace, get excused from combat sooner." Notably, Japan did not bring their aces out of combat (the idea being that they should stay where they could do the most damage against the enemy), and they were almost all killed eventually (the lone survivor was only pulled from the lines and sent to train new pilots due a stress-caused error causing him to get a bullet in the eye) — and the quality of Japanese pilots took a sharp downturn near the end of the war. This is also why the best known Axis aces had higher kill counts than their Allied counterparts.
- They did it with the snipers too. For example, the most famous Soviet sniper, Vasily Zaitsev, actually has relatively modest kill count, even compared to the other Soviet snipers, because he was pulled from the action quite early after he was made an example, as the brass realized that letting him to be killed would be a blow to the morale. So he was transferred from the frontlines and got posted as an instructor in the sniper school.
- This is fairly standard procedure for many armies around the world. Training is much more effective if the trainer actually has some practical experience in what he teaches, as opposed to purely theoretical knowledge. In a pinch, where there is no time or resources to train replacements, veteran instructors can also be re-fielded as opposed to instructors with no combat experience which are near useless in an emergency by comparison.
- This is especially true of specialist, highly skill-based support vocations such as the medics, signallers and combat engineers. The latter in particular can have a School reconstituted as an Engineer formation with very little effort.
- Additionally, for many fields that use instructors who cannot be sent into combat, every single one of them formerly did it. A lot of the instructors for US Army Special Forces formerly served in Special Forces teams, but can no longer do so for reasons such as having left the military (often due to being a now-retired SNCO) or still being in the military but having received a disabling injury (at some point early in The New Tens, there was an instructor who was blind).
- The Third Reich did quite the opposite by early 1944, by gathering most experienced Panzer instructors and veteran commanders into the elite Panzer Lehr Division and arming them lavishly with more and better machinery than either Heer or Waffen-SS Panzer Divisions. In practice it backfired, since they were expected to fight back the assault of Allied troops ten times their number, so the life expectancy in the Division was quite short. By the surrender in May 1945, the fighting men had been depleted and replaced a few times over.