Playing With / You Are in Command Now

Basic Trope: Owing to a sudden lack of superiors, a character finds himself in command.
  • Straight: Captain Smithson is assigned duty officer while all the other officers — captains, majors, colonels — go off to a concert with the country they are negotiating with. He receives a message that they were all murdered, and he must surrender.
  • Exaggerated: The officers' and NCOs' rations were spiked with poison. Private Jones, the senior private, takes command.
  • Downplayed:
    • Colonel Williams, having a stomach flu, is in no shape to give orders; Major Taylor issues them.
    • The sergeant is shot while they are retreating from a mission; the senior private has another private carry him and gives a few orders for the stretch before they return to their own lines.
  • Justified: Someone in command, no matter how inexperienced, is always better than nobody in command. Besides, there is a chain of command for a reason - when units are separated from their commanders or circumstances intervene, everyone must be capable of assuming leadership.
    • The soldiers' training is implied to strongly enforce that they follow orders while failing to exercise any sort of personal initiative in them - without someone being declared in command of a unit, inexperienced units would no doubt be rendered completely flatfooted regardless of the demands of the situation.
  • Inverted: The officers are treacherously taken prisoner for their hostage value; their subordinates are all slaughtered so they have no one to command.
    • Alternatively, a senior officer of a group is left with a unit much smaller than what the normally command. Captain Smithson ends up with only a squad at his disposal, with no Sergeant available.
  • Subverted: Captain Smithson thinks that he is a superior officer over a much larger unit for a short time, but soon they regain contact with a higher-ranking commander who takes charge.
  • Double Subverted: Captain Smithson is soon separated from the commander again and takes charge for the rest of the story.
  • Parodied: After Colonel Williams is killed, Major Taylor fakes a stomach flu, and leaves Captain Smithson in command. Smithson promptly is knocked unconscious when he accidentally gets bonked in the head by a falling tree branch, and Lieutenant Jones faints in panic, leaving a nonplussed Sergeant Rock in charge.
  • Zig-Zagged: Captain Smithson assumes command following the loss of Major Taylor and Colonel Williams, but it turns out Captain Thompson should actually be in command, due to him having more combat experience. However, Smithson was nearest the radio operator, while Thompson was pinned down in combat elsewhere, and unable to effectively lead the unit from his position, so Smithson has command. For now.
  • Averted: As soon as Colonel Williams and Major Taylor are killed, Major Fletcher arrives with reinforcements and assumes command.
  • Enforced: "We want Smithson to end up with big shoes to fill, but the timeframe of the story is too short to promote him. We have to kill off the other officers to put him in command."
  • Lampshaded: "Captain Smithson, the Colonel and the Major are dead. You Are in Command Now!" "... Roger that."
  • Invoked: Captain Smithson murders his superiors in order to take command.
  • Exploited: Emperor Magnificus deliberately places all the other officers in positions where they will be killed, because he knows the middle-class Captain Smithson is treated in a belittling manner among the aristocratic officer corps, and so will be easier to persuade — or so he thinks.
  • Defied: The Army always keeps Colonel Williams and Major Taylor separate so that when the colonel is killed, the Major is certain to survive. Therefore no Captain will ever take command.
  • Discussed: "Captain Smithson, you must learn the job of Major Taylor, and ensure that Lieutenant Jones knows how to do your job, so that an officer's duties can be carried out in his absence."
  • Conversed: "Captain Smithson is clearly the Hero, but he has so many superiors... oh the Colonel has just been shot. I give the Major 5 minutes to live."
  • Deconstructed: Captain Smithson is a newly minted officer and his lack of experience leads to issues with the troops under his command.
  • Reconstructed: Because he is forced to adapt with nobody to help him, Smithson gradually grows into a very unpredictable and nontraditional commander, far different from most other leaders.

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