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War Is Glorious
"You smell that? Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed for 12 hours, and when it was all over, I walked up. We didn't find one of 'em, not one stinking dink body. The smell, you know? That gasoline smell? The whole hill. It smelled like... victory."
Colonel Kilgore, Apocalypse Now.

It's exciting. It makes you a stronger, better person. It breeds Badasses. It's finer than Spring. The sacrifices may be extreme, but are extremely noble, maybe even saintly. In many ways the opposite of War Is Hell. Some people deeply enjoy waging war, rather than just endure it.

Common features:

Not all War Is Glorious works are war propaganda, but all war propaganda says that War Is Glorious. Both are marked by dehumanisation/demonisation of the enemy, censorship of the motivations for war, sanitisation of wounds and deaths, whitewashing of war crimes, dismissal of pacifism as insanity/weakness, etcetc. but these things are incidental to a War Is Glorious work. In a war propaganda work, these things take centre-stage.

War Is Glorious has a natural association with the justification of wars. For example, the cost of avoiding a war can be shown as greater than the cost of fighting it. Many serious justification of wars lie outside this trope, being no more jingoistic than a surgeon is in favour of open-heart surgerynote .

When war is part of the Back Story, former soldiers may invoke this trope by remembering the camaraderie, excitement, and purpose of their Glory Days, the war, as opposed to the greed and selfishness of subsequent civilian life, which leave them Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life.

War Is Glorious and War Is Hell are not exclusive categories. And it is perfectly possible to aim for one trope exclusively yet be received as the other.

It should be noted that sometimes this is not the work's theme, but the mentality of the General Ripper inside the work, serving as the foil to the heroes' belief that War Is Hell.

See also: Proud Warrior Race. Contrast Prevent The War.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

    Comicbooks 
  • 300
  • Private Siegfried Von Nibelungen from Sturmtruppen is a clear parody of this trope: all he want is an heroic death on a battlefield facing the sun and giving his life for the home country. He ends up exploding on a friendly mine and being horribly mutilated.
  • Ares from Marvel believes he should have a better reputation among mortals because of the positive things war brings with it.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Examples from the ball-crushingly prevalent and relevant kalash93
    • Telny from Racer And The Geek certainly seems to believe this. That is, when he's not suffering the consequences when Reality Ensues.
    • Serzhant Shining Armor comes off this way in Shell Shock. Played for horror.
    • The unnamed protagonist from Welcome To The Brothel mixes this bizarrely with War Is Hell. On one hand, he prefers killing to sex. On the other hand, it's obvious that he's traumatized from his experiences and probably not thinking all to clearly.
    • Zig-zaggedin Bratan. It's a fic for Veterans' Day 2013. The characters have had their lives shaped by war, but neither of them would give up their experiences or what they have accomplished or who they have become, despite the results not all being pretty or easy to deal with. Veterans chimed in on the page confirming that this is more or less what they feel.
  • Gundam AGE, given the nature of the Veigan and how Kio couldn't even reason with any of them. Shows how sometimes one must use violence to destroy a side of fanatics.

    Film 
  • Mulan. Be a Man...
  • Starship Troopers. The subtext theoretically is otherwise but the text shouts of glorious war. See the article for the tangled reception this film received.
  • 300, in all its sadomasochistic oily pec-ed glory.
  • The Green Berets, Sergent York, Glory, Patton, Sands of Iwo Jima: Many World War II movies, especially older ones.
  • The film adaptations of Henry V (see Theater below) can't help but use this trope to some extent, Laurence Olivier's more enthusiastically than Kenneth Branagh's.
  • The Longest Day, though, according to producer Zanuck, unintentionally.
  • Apocalypse Now: Colonel Kilgore wholeheartedly enjoys the war: he does not flinch at bombs and bullets, and is shown heading a helicopter attack to the Ride of the Valkyries. The film itself though, is anti-war.
  • The Big Red One is the only major World War II film directed by a veteran of that conflict and Samuel Fuller shows by and large that War Is Hell with little time for Band of Brothers sentimentality and conventional wisdom. He does assert at the end, via Author Avatar and budding writer Zab(Keith Carradine) that,
    ''"I'm gonna dedicate my book to those who shot but didn't get shot, because it's about survivors. And surviving is the only glory in war, if you know what I mean."
  • Inglourious Basterds note 
  • Black Hawk Down: Generally discussed as a anti-war film, there is a strong positive side. Both the book and film depict the horror of the mission but also the extraordinary success and tenacity of the Americans in completing the raid: less than two hundred men engage in a firefight with several thousand Somalis kill 1,000 of them, even with serious problems in command and control hindering the raid.
  • The Star Wars films. It's right there in the title. The enemies are dehumanized (faceless stormtroopers or mindless droids) and portrayed as evil. The Rebels are ragtag bunch of heroes and the Empire as an evil oppressive regime. In any case, all battle scenes in the series are played for action and excitement.
  • The infamous Mortal Kombat: Annihilation has Shao Khan saying, "Earth is under attack, and It! Is! GLORIOUS!" This is also the sequel that amped up the Fanservice to the detriment of the plot or good filmmaking.
  • Discussed in Buffalo Soldiers, war my be hell, but waiting around as a US soldier on a military base in East Germany with nothing to do is nearly as bad. When one of the soldiers is beaten up for walking on the wrong part of the base he points out how his fathers war friends are the best of friends, how they still meet up every year, even 45 years later (the films is incidentely set against the fall of the wall).
  • The Wind and the Lion is made of this trope, with pretty much every character (be they Theodore Roosevelt, the Raisuli or the Marine Captain) eager for armed conflict. Topped off by the Captain's comment:
    "Gentlemen, if we fail and are killed, I certainly hope that the world *does* go to war!"
  • 9th Company, a Russian film about Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, has a character who mixes this with a dash of Mad Artist:
    "There was an artist called Michelangelo during the Renaissance. He was asked once how he worked. He simply said, “I take a stone and chip off all the unnecessary bits.” Got it? Beauty is something without unnecessary bits, without any rubbish. In war, there is only life and death, nothing unnecessary. War itself is beauty."
  • Parodied in Hot Shots! Part Deux. After Harbinger heroically kills a bunch of enemy soldiers, he turns to the camera with a grin and says, "War: It's fannnn-tastic!"

    Literature 
  • Tennyson's The Charge Of The Light Brigade. Like many works it's not a simple glorification of war. Tennyson notes horrible and worthless war can be, while simultaneously praising the soldiers. He certainly draws attention to the casualties suffered. Compared to his The Charge Of The Heavy Brigade (about another action in the same battle), Light Brigade is downright bitter. Nevertheless Kipling was moved to deconstruct the work in his sequel, The Last of the Light Brigade.
  • Lays Of Ancient Rome By Sir Thomas Macaulay. For instance:
    Thine Roman is the Pilum
    Roman the sword is thine
    The even trench, the bristling mound
    The legion's ordered line
  • This is a very common trope in older American war stories. It lasted about through 1900 and The Four Feathers, before The Red Badge of Courage became the Trope Codifier for War Is Hell.
  • German philosopher Oswald Spengler claimed this in his (non-fiction) book The Decline of the West.
  • Friedrich Nietzsche Inverted, subverted, deconstructed, and then played this trope straight. He was critical of war in one sense, and especially for how it was used and abused by the state for petty reasons, but he regards conflict (in a general sense) as the great mover of history and ideas, and the fount of creativity. He also saw war as a way that a broken society might find renewed purpose, though he notes that a healthy society has no need for war. He admires numerous men who were soldiers and conquerors like Gaius Julius Caesar, Caesre Borgia, Napoleon Bonaparte and Alexander the Great, and frequently invoked war imagery in his writings especially when he was attacking someone (ie. more often than not). He is strongly opposed to pacifism and in Thus Spoke Zarathustra seemed to change his mind about war and praise it, or at least praise warriors. In his insane period he declared that Germany would fall shortly due to its war-making; he was dead on right. In other words- inconclusive.
  • Parodied in the third chapter of Voltaire's Candide:
    Nothing could have been more splendid, brilliant, smart or orderly than the two armies. The trumpets, fifes, oboes, drums and cannons produced a harmony whose equal was never heard in hell. First the cannons laid low about six thousand men on each side, then rifle fire removed from the best of worlds about nine or ten thousand scoundrels who had been infesting its surface. The bayonet was also the sufficient reason for the death of several thousand men. The total may well have risen to thirty thousand souls. Candide, trembling like a philosopher, hid himself as best he could during this heroic carnage.
  • Starship Troopers, as written by Heinlein. Unlike in the film version, Heinlein's pro-military message isn't undercut with any Robocop-style over-the-top TV commercials.
  • Chaos Walking "War. At last."
  • Horace was not being sarcastic when he said, "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori." (it is sweet and right to die for the fatherland). Wilfred Owens, who fought in WWI, took the line and threw it back in Horace's face.

    Live Action Television 
  • Pretty much every one-off bad guy ever ( and most of the recurring ones) on Xena: Warrior Princess, and Xena herself before her redemption.
  • The Shadows from Babylon 5 believe this is true as part of their philosophy that growth is driven by conflict. They use agents like Morden to tempt people into making deals after asking them "What do you want?" that ultimately lead to war.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "The Family of Blood", one of the Family mocks the headmaster for instilling patriotic fervor in his students, knowing that a terrible war will occur in the near future. He asks the headmaster whether his students will be grateful to him for teaching them that War Is Glorious while they are dying in the mud. The headmaster angrily retorts that he knows War Is Hell, being a veteran himself, but he's still willing to fight for King and Country.
  • The national philosophy of Klingons.

    Music 
  • Every other song by Manowar (just look at the band's name). Look at "Call to Arms":
    Fight for the kingdom bound for glory
    Armed with a heart of steel
    I swear by the brothers who stand before me
    To no man shall I kneel
    Their blood is upon my steel
    • Similarly, Hammerfall is just Manowar with even MORE fantastical elements. While Manowar has a 'low fantasy' barbarian theme Hammerfall has a clanky Knight Templar Sword Brethren theme.
      Chorus linked above for instance:
    Here we stand
    Mighty, Glorious
    At the end of the Rainbow
    With gold in our haa~aaa~aaands
    and next we have (note that there's also a minor inversion earlier on, as well, but primarily they're on the glory side)
    Riders of the storm
    one with the wind, defenders of creation
    Riders of the storm
    aligned with the sun
    Speak the word of Nemesis
    Call for thunder call for rain
    Let us meet our Genesis
    Save us from the unholy pain
  • Every other song by Bal-Sagoth. Look at "The Splendour of a Thousand Swords Gleaming Beneath the Blazon of the Hyperborean Empire":
    Hearken, the clarion is upon the winds,
    now the call to arms is upon us all.
    The glory of battle is nigh at last.
    Our banner shall fly this day in victory!
    My warriors, a legacy shall this day be wrought by our blades.
    Decreed by the gods, blessed by the blood of vanquished foes.
    Our destiny beckons...
  • Many songs by Rhapsody.
  • March of Cambeadth is probably one of the most jovial sounding. (On the album, it's bracketed by a sad ballad about leaving your sweetheart for battle and a lament of Pyrrhic Victory, but as "Cambreadth" is by far Alexander's most famous work, this escapes most people's notice.)
  • Satirically invoked and played for all the laughs the trope is worth by Tom Lehrer whenever deemed in/appropriate.
  • Nightwish plays it straight...
    Warrior with power along the path
    A hammerheart, his gallantry to last
    Rhythm of sirens, enemies take heed
    For in this war, laws are in silent sleepnote 
    Death is the winner in any war
    Nothing noble in dying for your religion
    For your country
    For ideology, for faith
    For another man?
    Yes.
    ...
    I see all those empty cradles
    and wonder if mankind will ever change.note 
  • "Invincible" by Pat Benatar, the theme song for the 1985 movie The Legend of Billie Jean.
    We can't afford to be innocent
    Stand up and face the enemy
    It's a do or die situation
    We will be invincible
  • "Indestructible" by the band Disturbed from the 2008 album of the same name.
    Every broken enemy will know
    That their opponent had to be invincible
    Take a last look around while you're alive
    I'm an indestructible master of war
    • Their song "Warrior" definitely qualifies as well.
  • The controversial "Smoke On The Water" by country pioneer Red Foley, at the top of the folk record charts for 13 weeks in 1944 with a very cheerful tune about turning Japan into a graveyard.
    There'll be smoke on the water
    On the land and the sea
    When our army and navy overtakes the enemy
  • Jag Panzer spans both medieval and high-tech warfare, and glorifies both deliciously as their name might imply. Warning: May cause your heart to explode due to sheer manliness. Even Patton might have trouble withstanding this assault.
    On the battlefield we fight with all our might
    Valour and honour is our right
    The bloody battlefield where men and sons have tried
    To stand for what is good and what is right
    Only the steel will win the day
    Cold sword of the brave (Cold is the blade)
    Pure hearts bring us to truth
    Is it the heart of the brave
    Or the cold of the blade
    and for the second
    Upon reaching altitude earth seems so small below
    Silent, invisible black death from above
    Laser guided, automated, precise computer control
    The enemy blind and unprotected
    Pinpoint accuracy certain death sent down below
    No mercy, no regret for the unknowing foe
  • "This Is War" from the 2009 album of the same name by 30 Seconds to Mars. It is a very upbeat song giving it an enthusiastic feeling though the lyrics aren't perfectly clear one way or the other.
    I do believe in the light
    Raise your hands into the sky
    The fight is done, the war is won
    Lift your hands toward the sun
  • Pick an Amon Amarth song. Pretty much any one.
  • The National Anthem of Mexico is actually a Call to Arms Warsong. Jaime Nunó wrote the lyrics thinking about the glory of the battle and the honor of dying in the defense of the nation. Francisco González Bocanegra's military music just adds points to it. Just read the main chorus:
    Mexicans, at the cry of war,
    Make ready the Steel and the bridle;
    And may the Earth trembles at its center,
    at the resounding roar of the cannon.
    • You can check the rest here.

    Mythology and Religion 

    Tabletop games 
  • The Clans in BattleTech hold this view, at least in regards to ritualized combat. Their entire society is based around stomping around, shooting each other in Humongous Mecha in organized battles. However, they do not extend the attitude to actual war, which they are not very good at, as being a good warrior (and thus, in charge), doesn't necessarily make a good commander, strategist, or make one good at logistics. Further, their peace-time conflicts are heavily ritualized, with plenty of Honor Before Reason. Applying their standards of ritual combat to actual war tends to turn out badly for them when up against more pragmatic foes.
    • Also a common attitude found in the Draconis Combine, which isn't a big surprise since they're basically Samurai IN SPACE!!! with a traditional belief in their manifest destiny to eventually conquer everybody else.
  • "In the grim darkness of the future, there is only war..." And awesome.
    • Even the lowly Imperial Guard are sometimes depicted as having a good time, or at least "winning glory and honor".
      • Although it should be said that it depends on the faction the narrative takes the perspective of. For the "good" races, like the Imperial Guard note , the Tau note  and the Eldar note , it tends to be more War Is Hell, although occasionally War Is Glorious crops up too. The Space Marines tend to be this trope the majority of the time as well, even though they are usually presented as the good guys. As for the traditionally evil races, like the numerous and varied forces of Chaos note , the Dark Eldar note  and especially the Orks note , it's definitely this trope.

    Theater 
  • William Shakespeare's Henry V is this trope in its purest form.
    We few, we happy few, we Band of Brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition:
    And gentlemen in England now a-bed
    Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
  • In Pippin, the number "Glory" is entirely about glorifying war. The aftermath proves a bit sobering, however.

    Video Games 
  • Many games, especially those in the First-Person Shooter genre, are included in this trope. Even those that pay lipservice to a War Is Hell Aesop can't escape these themes being undermined by the fact that the player is presumably undertaking a simulation of war for fun.
  • The Metal Gear series is notable in that while its creators clearly do not have this outlook, many of its characters do which often leads to many Do Not Do This Cool Thing moments.
  • The Mandalorians in Star Wars view wars this way. The rest of the galaxy would disagree. Ironic, since they were the ones who lost the Mandalorian Wars.
  • The Shadow-Mirrors in Super Robot Wars Advance and Original Generation held this philosophy proudly, as in their world, the lack of war causes humans to become lazy and non-progressive thus they decided to have as much war as possible, because therein lies human evolution and progress.
  • The Thraddash in Star Control II are a parody of this trope (among other things ), what with them considering never-ending fighting a viable social scheme and seeing no problem with their species having blasted themselves back to Stone Age several times over.
    "This doesn't really count as news, Teacher but War is truly magnificent, isn't it? The gut wrenching sight of molten warships! The boiling blood of depressurized soldiers! I just love it!... Don't you?
    • The K'tang Kattori in Star Control III tricked into attacking THEMSELVES For the Evulz and enjoying every minute of it. (But they'll still be pissed at you afterwards, because you took them away from their primary goal of attacking you.) They're also prone to bouts of malapropisms and Bushisms as they were uplifted from barbarian battlers with napoleon complexes (They were the smallest things on their planet but they still killed the crap out of everything with acceptable losses here and there. Their power armour is just for show, they're really the size of Daleks without it. It is implied they were on the verge of extinction because their wars were growing so consuming, when the Ploxis came and taught them how to use spaceships. Now they are in no danger of of extinction (or running out of things to shoot at) because look at all those muthabucking targets out in space man!!! They are by far one of the funnest alien races to speak with in the game. On another amusing note to any Dynasty Warriors fans, they tend to sound a little bit like Meng Huo, especially when flustered.
  • Reconstructed in Starcraft II. As Raynor says, some things are just worth fighting for,
  • The traditionalist krogan in Mass Effect hold this belief, though there are plenty of krogan either disillusioned or at least far-sighted enough to know that war is idiotic while still limited by the genophage. Some krogan did feel that the Genophage had reduced some krogans to Death Seeker types.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins most sensible characters view war very negatively, however King Cailan is eager to fight the Darkspawn because he's heard all the stories of the Grey Wardens' glorious victories... he dies fairly ignobly in the first few hours of the game, himself and his entire army betrayed by his own general Loghain.

    Western Animation 
  • Cotton Hill from King of the Hill and his fellow VFW members holds this view to a degree, always bragging about how he killed "fiddy men" during WWII and talking about his war experiences that may or may not have happened. This eventually comes to a head when the VFW has to include Vietnam vets in order to stay afloat, with the old guard fondly remembering their WWII days and mocking the PTSD-addled Vietnam vets for losing the war until they snap and try to kill them.

    Real Life 
  • The entire nation of North Korea has been so focused preparing for an invasion against South Korea that it's hard to imagine if the nation can survive peacefully.
  • The dominating belief in Europe throughout the Middle Ages, probably because war was a near-constant occurrence and wasn't nearly as bad as dying from illness or any other such cause that was common at the time. If a warrior ever found himself in a time of peace it was common for them to still fight in tournaments, which were often as bloody as a real battle, just to give them the illusion of fighting a war. There were, of course, subversions, condemnations of it from monks and historians.
    • The nature of society and warfare at the time also lent itself to this. For the elites who played a large role in shaping societal culture, armor and ransoms created a semblance (justified to a degree) of invincibility. Lack of literacy meant the infantry who made up the majority of soldiers could not record the horrors they experienced, and lack of effective medical treatment meant most of the maimed (and losers) would not live to tell their tale. Furthermore, elite young people had far more power than they do today, as birth had far more weight relative to experience than it now does, causing a bias toward action, and a lack of wisdom and experience in peaceful resolutions.
  • Some may argue that the purpose of physical sports (Gladiator fights, races, jousts, football, you name it) is to simulate the glory of war without all the horror.
  • This was one of the key tenets of the Futurist Movement of the early 20th century. World War One cured most of them of that notion.
    • For a good number of them, it cured them of the notion in much the same way that a guillotine cures a sinus infection.
  • Given that it drew a great deal of philosophical inspiration from futurism (see above), this is one of the cornerstones of fascist thought. In fascism, war is a purifying force, turning boys into men and purging the world of weakness by killing off undesirables. Unlike most philosophical utopias which strive for peace, an ideal fascist society is therefore defined by constant warfare, keeping the Master Race strong and vital and rooting out any impurities that might develop. Needless to say, this doesn't work so well in real life - the diaries of German generals during the last days of World War II contain a lot of grumbling about how Hitler's constant lust for violence had ground through their best troops and left only the traumatised, the broken, and the completely unready.
    • Constant drain on human capital aside, war is insanely expensive. Even the USA, with double the usual first-world percentage of GDP tied up in military spending (5%), wasn't able to just shrug off the costs of two such minor conflicts as Iraq and Afghanistan. Then again, they didn't exactly help their debt situation when they cut taxes right when they had to start spending money in such a huge way.
  • During the World War II, Winston Churchill attempted to stir a similar sentiment with his speeches, particularly before and during the Battle of Britain when the United Kingdom stood well and truly alonenote  against Hitler's Nazi Germany. He was well aware that War Is Hell, but war was the only way to bring on a glorious dawn and awaken the world from the Axis nightmare.
    Churchill: Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour."
  • Political hawks are usually accused of thinking this way and believing that war is a good thing in itself - rather than an evil thing which can (when directed with the utmost care) result in overall/net good.


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