Quotes: The Chains of Commanding

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     Fan Fiction 

Rawne considered his troops chess pieces, but that was because he understood that if he saw them as faces, then it would become personal, and he couldn't do his job if it became personal. Jose had been forced to look into the faces of men and women who trusted him, and who had looked up to him and followed him, before he ended their lives.
No one who was still human came out the other side of that without being messed up.

"Being a leader isn't easy," Parker continued. "You get all these speeches asking 'Are you worthy' or 'know yourself to lead others' and that nonsense, but ultimately, it boils down to a simple question: can you live with condemning sons and daughters and fathers and mothers to their deaths?"
He took another long drink.
"We forge futures out of pain and grief, Commander. The computers and the communications officers and the EVAs and the displays only serve to isolate us so we can be inhuman. We're monsters, son. Cold, mechanical, rational monsters, and the only way we win is by being colder, more mechanical, and more rational than the next monster moving his little pieces on the screen. That's how war has been fought since Stalin rolled into the Allies a century ago. You point, you click, and they die. It's how it works."
Tiberium Wars, Chapter XVIII

Lieutenant Commander Reshek Gaarra: Something’s wrong?
Captain Kanril Eleya: Just pre-mission jitters, the usual.
Gaarra: You’re worried?
Eleya: I’m captain of the ship. It’s my job to be worried.
The Wrong Reflection, Chapter 3: "Best Laid Plans"

     Film - Live-Action 

If it was just me, simple old David from Tennessee, I might drop over that wall some night, take my chances. But that Davy Crockett feller... they’re all watchin' him.

Worker bees can leave
Even drones can fly away
The Queen is their slave
The Narrator, Fight Club

Power wears out those who don't have it.
The Godfather Part III

Mrs Johnson: My husband is, um. Well, he's required to speak publicly.
Doctor: Perhaps he should change jobs.
Mrs Johnson: He can't.
Doctor: Indentured servitude?
Mrs Johnson: ...Something of that nature, yes.


Uneasy lies the head that wears a Throne.
(a) Suggest remedies, or
(b) Imitate the action of a Tiger.

It's not fair. I never asked them to make me Emperor.

I look out my window each day. I look out my window at people who live and breathe. At people who have not been devoured by civil war. At people who have not been ravaged by disease. At people who have not starved to death, who have not been hacked apart by enemies of humanity, at people who are free to lie and steal and plot and complain and accuse and behave in all manner of repugnant ways because the Realm stands. Because law and order stands. Because something other than simple violence shapes the course of their lives. And I look... at a very few decent people who have had the luxury of living their lives without being called upon to make hideous decisions I would not wish upon my worst enemies, and who consequently find such matters morally appalling when they consider them — because they have not had to be the ones who dealt with them.
Gaius Sextus, Codex Alera

Steal my daughter back! Take all [the rubies] you can carry! There's more! Much more! Enough to become kings yourselves! ... There comes a time, thief, when the jewels cease to sparkle, and the gold loses it's lustre, the throne room becomes a prison, and all that is left is a father's love for his child...
King Osric the Usurper, Conan the Barbarian

He cursed himself for his refusal of their offer, even while his stubborn manhood revolted at the thought, and he knew that were he taken forth and given another chance, his reply would be the same. He would not sell his subjects to the butcher. And yet it had been with no thought of anyone's gain but his own that he had seized the kingdom originally. Thus subtly does the instinct of sovereign responsibility enter even a red-handed plunderer sometimes.

Dammit. She was sure there were thousands of people simply dying to be King or Queen! Why couldn't she just pick one of them and pass the job to someone who actually wanted it.

Xarius knew he had the galaxy's ultimate weapon - tens of thousands of soldiers, none of whom the Imperium would greatly miss. What did they matter when there were trillions without number under the aegis of the Imperium? Xarius looked at them, fresh-faced near-recruits and scarred veterans alike. None of them deserved to die in Gravenhold, but a lot of them would. They were the fuel that kept the Imperium going, of course - without their sacrifice, the Empire of Man would fall to ravening aliens, heresy, and worse. But that he should be the one to condemn them all! Him, one man out of all those trillions to have the deaths of so many laid at his door!

Iella: Poor boy. He's a perator now. He can't lavish praise upon you and beg you to teach him all you know.
Wedge: As if he would.
Iella: He would. Our profile on him says he's one of your biggest admirers. But now he's locked behind the ruler's mask and can never admit it.

     Live-Action TV 

Lennier: Then you were not thinking clearly, Delenn. The fault is not yours. The humans misinterpreted the gesture of respect. They thought it to be a prelude to an attack. You were...
Delenn: ...The one who gave the order. Nothing can change that, Lennier.

You know, there are days when I really hate this job.
Admiral William Adama, Battlestar Galactica

Joan: It's not easy, is it? Making decisions that affect your friends' safety?
Auggie: No. It's not.
Joan: Got news for you - it doesn't get any easier.

Must be a nice place to sit, at the top of the pyramid. And also pretty uncomfortable.
Anthony DiNozzo, NCIS

All due respect, you got no fuckin' idea what it's like to be Number One. Every decision you make affects every facet of every other fuckin' thing. It's too much to deal with almost. And in the end you're completely alone with it all.
Tony Soprano, The Sopranos

My personal opinion says "yes" but the government policies under which I must weight my decision say "no."
General Hammond, Stargate SG-1

You bet I'm "tired!" You bet! I'm tired of being responsible for two hundred and three lives and I'm tired of deciding which mission is too risky and which isn't and who's going on the landing party and who doesn't. And who lives... and who dies."
Cap. Christoper Pike, Star Trek: The Original Series, "The Cage"

Sisko: We don't put civilians at risk or even potentially at risk to save ourselves! Sometimes that means we lose the battle and sometimes our lives. But if you can't make that choice, then you can't wear that uniform! ... Now, all that being true, the reality is no harm has been done. There are no dead children on your conscience. You got lucky.
Worf: I do not feel lucky.
Sisko: And that's why, despite everything that's happened, you're going to make a hell of a captain some day.

Worf: Life is a lot more complicated in this red uniform...
Sisko: Wait 'till you get four pips on your collar! You'll wish you had gone into botany.


I am your leader
I am in command
The fate of all my followers
Lies in my hands
The burden of what is right or wrong
Decisions have to be made
I have to take you all
Into this burning gate...
Iron Savior, "Never Say Die"

This is the Price of Commanding-
That you always stand alone,
Letting no one near
To see the fear
Behind the mask you've grown.
This is the Price of Commanding.

This is the Price of Commanding-
That you watch your dearest die,
Sending women and men To fight again
And never tell them why.
This is the Price of Commanding.

This is the Price of Commanding.
That mistakes are signed in red-
And that you won't pay
But others may
And your best may wind up dead
This is the Price of Commanding.

This is the Price of Commanding-
The deaths that haunt your sleep
And you hope they forgive
And so you live
With your memories buried deep.
This is the Price of Commanding.

This is the Price of Commanding-
That if you won't, others will.
So you take your post,
Salute each ghost-
You've a debt to them to fill.
This is the Price of Commanding.
Mercedes Lackey, Oathbound

Revolutionaries wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh, who would ever wanna be king?
Coldplay, "Viva La Vida"


Soldier: Are we going to have to camp out?
Ludovico: That is why we are carrying tents.
Soldier: You're not carrying anything, we are!
Ludovico: I carry what cannot be seen: the burden of command!
Soldier: Does it weigh as much as this tent?
Ludovico: Watch it, you!
The Leopard In Autumn

     Video Games 

It is my duty to keep these men and women alive. It is my burden to know that I cannot.
Vadim Kozlov, Civilization: Beyond Earth

Suppose that's what it's going to take, Shepard. The ruthless calculus of war. Ten billion over here die so that twenty billion over here can live. Are we up for that? Are you?
Garrus, Mass Effect 3

The folly of leadership is knowing that no matter what you do, behind your back, there's hundreds certain that their own solution is the sounder one and that your decision was the by-product of a whimsical dart toss. I pronounce the blast sentence, and I soak the critical fallout. I make the decisions no-one else will. Leadership... I wear the albatross and the bullseye.

     Web Comics 

No. [Ruling] gives me no pleasure. Politics always annoyed me. Now I do it every day. I haven't seen my wife in years. My old friends are gone. I haven't travelled or explored. At least with the Heterodynes we had the adventures. The occasional fight. Now it's send in the armies, then the bureaucrats with mops. It's become an old formula. Well, we do what we must.

     Web Original 

Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job
The Onion headline on the day of President Barack Obama's first inauguration

     Western Animation 

Meelo: Being alpha lemur is lonely.
Tenzin: I know.

Cadet Christopher Blair: May I ask, sir, why I was ordered to remain onboard?
Commodore Geoffrey Tolwyn: So you could learn what it means to command, cadet.
Blair: Shouldn't a leader share the dangers with the people under his command, sir?
Tolwyn: Any fool can be brave, the hard thing is to be right... War doesn't like to forgive mistakes, Mr. Blair.

I'm telling you - all of you - that I am sick of being responsible for the preservation of the universe and its outlying suburbs!
Hot Rod, The Transformers

     Real Life 

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.