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A Father to His Men

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Not all commissars lead through fear...

"Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death."
Sun Tzu, The Art of War


This commander cares deeply about their men and exhibits it constantly. A mentor to the officers under them, they take a deep personal interest in their welfare and try to keep them out of harm's way. They would never say "We Have Reserves" unless they have absolutely no choice (and even then you can expect them to privately be torn up about it). Staff officers, engineers, and the Camp Cook will be treated with respect and made to feel as valued as the troops on the front line. However, they have no patience with the Glory Hound or the Obstructive Bureaucrat. They will never lay claim to their subordinate’s work, and will even downplay any credit that is due to them. They will own up to any mistakes, even those of their subordinates. In the latter case, they often follow up with treating their subordinate's mistakes as Career Building Blunders. When their followers are on the losing end of a battle, you better believe that No One Gets Left Behind. And when their subordinates actually die, they will remember all of their names and faces.


Usually a military mastermind who disdains wave attack carnage and instead will plan so that their faction will have the least casualties possible. Strategic, operational, or tactical blunders are usually the fault of those above them or below them. Unfortunately, incompetent High Command often handicap or cut their careers tragically short, with their true worth appreciated only by the men they commanded.

This character generally cultivates a father-figure (or mother-figure) atmosphere. They are a source of morale, discipline and stability. Usually this is through a gentle reasoning tone, but sometimes they're a more strict (read: harsh) father/mother figure. In this instance, expect a new soldier transferred to the unit to hate them. However, also expect one of their older veterans to take them aside and tell a nice Pet the Dog story about the commanding officer. Sometimes all their soldiers are new; this will result in hatred until the soldiers accomplish (or survive) a difficult challenge. Then, they will realize that they would have died or failed without their strict training.


They are often utilized more as a device after they have left the scene, as an idealized counterbalance to the incompetent who succeeds them. This is probably because they’re far more effective as a saint, and it'd be hard to maintain such an image when he's actually coordinating operations, especially cursed with Hollywood Tactics like they are. Indeed, an officer who learns You Are in Command Now may find their troops are Losing the Team Spirit over this commander's death—though they can issue a Rousing Speech reminding them that the dead commander would be So Proud of You if they soldier on.

Sometimes they’re used to make the troops unhappy with their new commander. This is even if they are good—similar to the "You're Not My Mother" response given even to kind substitute authority figures.

Other times, they’re a character who gets called in to deliver an Aesop after the soldiers mess up. Or they might be a mostly off screen character who gives the main characters a reason to try and do better, and to be embarrassed when they make a stupid mistake.

When an enemy, they are often the Worthy Opponent or Friendly Enemy. If they’re a subordinate, the villain's lack of concern for their men may be a source of Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal.

Most of the movie and TV examples in The Captain are of this type.

Sister Trope to Officer and a Gentleman, and they may overlap. If they are a Blue Blood, they will not care that their soldiers are commoners. This often surprises other Blue Blood officers.

Related to The Last DJ, Benevolent Boss. Compare Papa Wolf, Mama Bear, and the aforementioned Team Dad and Team Mom. See also The Patriarch and Reasonable Authority Figure.

Compare and contrast Sergeant Rock who is also competent and cares for their followers, but has a tougher, harder leadership style. Contrast The Neidermeyer who is nasty and incompetent and Drill Sergeant Nasty who is either competent or incompetent as the plot directs. A We Have Reserves commander works in the opposite way.

Villainous examples that are Complete Monsters can never be this trope, as they do not care about anyone except themselves and will happily dispose of their allies when they no longer serve any use to them. Even if they show a sort of compassion to them, it's entirely a facade or it's because they have self-serving interests behind the supposed compassion (i.e. Emperor Palpatine only caring for Darth Vader since he enforces his Sith rule).


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    Comic Books 
  • Jackie Estacado, head of a New York mob family, and host of a being called The Darkness, may not be the most saintly person in the world, but he will show you no mercy if you dare go after his men. Jackie is Lawful Neutral, choosing to follow a set of old-school honor and codes, one of which is "look after your people." The mobsters, in return, have Undying Loyalty to their boss.
  • If you're a Super Villain, it is a very, very, very bad idea to hurt a member of the Justice League of America when Superman's around. There's a reason he's the default leader of the team.
  • There’s a reason they call Batman and his sidekicks the Bat-Family because even if he’s only biologically related to one of them (Damien, his son) Bruce still treasures every single one of his protégés as his children in one way or another. Hurting, maiming or killing any Robin or Batgirl (as The Joker is fond of doing) is a surefire way to piss Batman the hell off and guarantees a No Holds Barred Beat Down from him if your lucky.
  • Every leader, or just high-ranking member, of the X-Men is this.
    • Xavier, the founder, was a surrogate father to both Scott and Jean, as well as everyone else in the original five, he cares deeply about them and their safety, with one issue showing, in detail, every person Xavier let die and show how it affected him emotionally. In House of X, Xavier states he can’t bare for any of his beloved X-Men to perish ever again and has “The Five” resurrect an entire team when they die on a mission.
    • Cyclops. While this is often overlooked, he has a tendency to be protective of new members and often acts as Team Dad when around younger members. He may generally suck at social interaction and he failed his actual son (though, in fairness to him, he didn't intend to abandon him the first time, and eventually he had to give him up to save his life), but when it comes to his team, he'll bromance with the older ones and do his best to keep the younger ones safe and prepared. Special mention should go to his treatment of the early-mid 2000s class (especially Pixie, Rockslide, Nori, and Anole, and to a lesser extent X-23), with it being him who noted they should reach out and try to take better care of them. Though, this depends on the writer and how they want to treat Cyclops.
    • Storm is definitely a mother to her X-Men especially in Claremont’s run, Ororo adores her “brothers” and “sisters” and will do anything to protect them when she’s the leader. Storm is also very loving to younger members and her students as she acts as a mother figure to Kitty Pryde and once took a blast aimed for Rogue when the latter joined to team. In House of X Storm is the one who heralds the newly resurrected Cyclops, Jean, Nightcrawler, Logan and co kissing their foreheads and proudly declaring them Mutants to the crowd.
    • Emma Frost is a MOTHER to her men, having been devastated to the point of a Heel–Face Turn when her Hellions all died; she expresses this by her care for her young students, such as Gen. X, New X-Men, the New Hellions, etc. Especially her care for Jullian Keller (Whose codename, Hellion, was picked for her original team) and Noriko/Surge. She once used Mind Rape on a villain who threatened her students by removing the only positive figure from their memory, effectively causing them nothing but emotional pain for the rest of their cold existence.
    • Logan, while not a leader, is almost always a father figure to young, especially female, X-Men. When placed in charge of X-Force, he takes special care over the other members. (This is probably because two of the members are only in their late teens/early twenties, while the fourth is his own child/clone who is no older than 17.) There's a reason he has one sidekick per generation.
    • Magneto much like Xavier tends to treat his Acolytes as his own children though originally he was more crueler to them as seen with his abusive relationship with Toad. Mags plays this most straight with Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and Polaris who actually his children (albeit the former two are adopted).
  • The love Doctor Doom feels for the people of Latveria is the one thing that is stronger than his hate for Reed Richards; he would gladly lay down his life or even (temporarily) ally with the Fantastic Four to protect them.
  • Captain America. Any team he gets put in charge he treats like his family, possibly because of his late Sidekick Bucky.
  • Nick Fury during his more sympathetic moments. Special Mention to the Siege event, where he makes special attention to make it very clear that the plan to stop Osborn was his idea, so that if all fails, only he will be arrested for Treason.
  • The High Evolutionary tends to treat almost everyone in a rather paternal way, but he looks upon the Knights of Wundagore moreso than others. (And seeing as he created them, one could say that he is their father.)
  • Headmaster Gentis in the comic book arc Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison deeply cared for his students. This, along with witnessing the Imperial cremation center's constantly churning dead Imperial bodies, is what led him to decide to overthrow Palpatine in order to stop the constant warmongering via a Military Coup.
  • Papa Smurf is this to The Smurfs. In fact, in the English vocal track of the live-action movie, Gargamel goes so far as to have Papa Smurf say he has 99 sons and one daughter. Papa Smurf himself says that they're his family. In the film sequel The Smurfs 2, Papa Smurf treats Smurfette like his daughter.
    • And as he claims in the cartoon, Grandpa Smurf was exactly the same when Papa Smurf was a young Smurf.
  • Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four is the father of his team. Given that their thing is that they're a family of superheroes, this is his thing, besides being The Smart Guy above all Smart Guys in the Marvel Universe.
  • You'd expect a character with a name like Deathsaurus would be hell to work for... except he's not. In The Transformers (IDW), a setting where almost all of the Decepticon leaders (and a fair number of Autobots) are Bad Bosses of terrifying calibers, Deathsaurus actually broke from the main Decepticon ranks because none of them cared about the state of the common soldier, like the ones in his division. He goes on to fight Tarn, leader of the Decepticon Justice Division, to try and preserve the lives of his soldiers when the DJD shows up on his ship. He even refuses a very generous offer on the part of Tarn to have his name removed from the DJD's target list unless all of his subordinates are also removed from that list. When Tarn offers to join forces with him, Deathsaurus instead puts Tarn through a Secret Test of Character to see if Tarn is willing to sacrifice his subordinates—and upon finding that Tarn is unwilling to throw away the lives of his team, Deathsaurus commends him and readily agrees to the alliance. And once Tarn has a Villainous Breakdown and starts attacking his underlings, Deathsaurus immediately rounds up his troops and pulls a mass Screw This, I'm Outta Here!.
  • A villainous example occurs in The Punisher MAX with Harry Ebbing, an energy tycoon who brought his struggling company to new heights by taking advantage of loopholes in financial regulations to inflate the stock price. The only thing he asks of his employees is that whenever there's a problem of any magnitude, they immediately tell him so he can handle it. In return, he frequently throws lavish, drug-fueled Wall Street parties for all his employees and makes use of his money and underworld connections to give them anything they could ever want. He's so well-loved that an erstwhile whistleblower who is beaten and left for dead for threatening to tell the FBI about one of his more dangerous schemes comes back and begs to be allowed to return to the lifestyle Harry offers.
  • In the Ultimate Marvel universe, the otherwise stoic Nick Fury began to appreciate Peter Parker and groomed him, hoping that he would become a great superhero when he grows up. And when he died, he shed Manly Tears for him.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Diana can be a mother figure for her own Amazons or even the Justice League members as she cares for both equally or anyone whose she’s close to in general.
    • Mala, who was the warden of Reformation Island in the Golden Age is beloved and looked up to by her coworkers and many of the prisoners alike, who find that her considerate and compassionate approach to her job have made her like family.
    • Philippus, Captain of the Guard and in Vol 2 later Chancellor of Themyscira, sees her guard as her sisters and has had centuries to get to know and care for each of them.
    • Steve Trevor started out working solo missions and rarely with the same group twice (outside of Di and Etta) but was always a firm believer in No Man Left Behind. With his promotions and eventually gaining a constant squad he's in charge of on espionage missions he looks after them like family.
    • The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016): Alcippe is like a strict mother to her guard, but centuries of watching her women grow old and die while she remains immortal have caused her to try and distance herself from them. It is still clear they look up to her and she is protective of them and still keeps track of each of her trainees throughout their lives.

    Fan Works 
  • Evangelion 303: Captain Misato Katsuragi is the commanding officer of the "Evangelion" squadron. Although she gets angry and is not afraid of reprimanding her pilots when it is necessary, she cares greatly for all of them. She even suggested Shinji moving with her as Asuka was in coma.
  • Equestria Girls: Friendship Souls: Tempest Shadow is almost universally loved by the Storm King's legions, and it's pretty clear she's the one who their true loyalty lies with. Fitting, considering her time as the former 11th Division Captain, and exploited by the Storm King in order to gather as many followers as he could.
    • Captain Celestia is also this. Sententing her (and her sister) to death was enough to cause a Civil War in the Soul Society.
  • HERZ: Misato is the Director of HERZ. She is very protective of her soldiers and cares about them. She raised two her pilots, Shinji and Asuka – although the latter moved out after the events of End of Evangelion-, and at least once she notes Shinji, Asuka and Rei are like the children she never had.
  • In Iron Hearts Silver is this to the Iron Warriors under his command. Any others (especially ponies) well not so much.
  • Erico's fanverse for Mega Man features Doctor James Cain of the Maverick Hunters, who the troops revere as a father. For some, such as X and Zero, he's the closest thing to a real father figure they have.
  • Col. Edwards in The Return combines this with Colonel Badass.
  • Battle Commander Karrde in Tiberium Wars is deeply concerned about the welfare of the troops under his command. At the same time, he also has to grapple with the necessity of ordering men to their deaths and making battlefield decisions that result in victory at the cost of his troops' lives, which forms a major part of his character's personal conflict over the course of the series.
  • In the Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfic Three Years at Sea, Shuang the Traitor is this to his crew. When Zuko sinks his ship, he says he will surrender quietly if Zuko spares his crew rather than taking them to certain torture and execution by the Fire Nation. Zuko being Zuko, he agrees.
  • Travels Through Azeroth and Outland has this in the form of Dallard Corwyn, a heroic human noble stationed in the Dragonblight.
  • Dragon Age: The Crown of Thorns has the dwarven noble protagonist during his brief time as Commander, before his deliberate Zero-Approval Gambit. In fact, even though said gambit is executed flawlessly, his men, or at least one very high-ranking military figure, never believe in his guilt, to the point where said high-ranking warrior threatens the Assembly with leaving for the surface, along with his whole house, unless they give the prince a trial, which they do, much to Bhelen's chagrin. What makes this even more interesting is that they were all proven right when Trian, who is still very much alive, revealed himself.
  • It's not uncommon in The X-Files fics for Skinner to be cast in a substitute-father role to Mulder and/or Scully, and Scully's mother, while a civilian, frequently mothers Mulder as well.
  • Elemental Chess Trilogy: The Mustangs are a father and mother pair to the men of both their old unit and their current one.
  • Stray: Big Boss fills this role, for FOXHOUND. FOXHOUND's membership includes two of his cloned offspring.
  • In the BLoSC Fan Verse of For Good, Evil Emperor Zurg is considered a twisted sort of father figure to his "freak show staff".
  • Sherlock Holmes to his Baker Street Irregulars (Wiggins, especially) in the Deliver Us from Evil Series...
    Those street Arabs were almost too loyal to their... oh, sod it, to their father. Maybe they weren't too loyal, after all.
  • In Empath: The Luckiest Smurf, Papa Smurf goes beyond this to Happily Adopting his little Smurfs after The Plague has removed their parents, with Empath being his only begotten son.
  • In the Avatar: The Last Airbender and Naruto crossover Bodyguard of Azula, Naruto is this to a huge part of the Fire Nation Army, to the point that they beg not to fight him when he is buying time for Azula and Zuko to escape the capital, and try to let him out of the prison when he surrenders. He plays this trope again by ordering them not to do it, since all of them would be killed if it failed
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series fanfic Heroes, Spock regrets that Surak will never see the side of Kirk that becomes upset whenever a crewman dies.
  • According to Momo, Aizen is this in Downfall (this isn't as crazy as it sounds; it takes place in an Alternate Universe where Aizen isn't the villain).
  • Bait and Switch: Captain Kanril Eleya cares deeply about, and is violently protective of, the welfare of her crew. She is deeply regretful that she can't know all of their names and faces since they number over a thousand, and feels guilty when they then die carrying out her orders. In "Last Rights", when one of her dead noncoms is resurrected as a Kobali, she threatens his adoptive mother that:
    Eleya: I will personally blow any Kobali ship that pursues him clear back to the Celestial Temple if I have to; I don't give a flying phekk what the treaty says. He stays here of his own accord or not at all.
    Lyndsay Ballard: Captain—
    Eleya: No, understand, after what your government pulled the word of a Kobali is worthless to me. I want your word as a sworn officer of the Federation Starfleet that you'll respect his wishes.
  • Alistair proposes doing this once the Blight is over in the Dragon Age: Origins story Shadow and Rose. He suggest that he and Elissa, being the last of Ferelden's Grey Wardens, rebuild the order from the ground up.
    Alistair: You and I - we'll be mother and father, essentially, to a whole new generation of Fereldan Grey Wardens.
  • Lelouch in Dauntless (Allora Gale) treats all of his men like family, such as reminding his villa guards that their duty is to protect everyone on the property. In return they show him Undying Loyalty, his old squad going so far as to go AWOL when Lelouch is injured, not knowing that he'd requested them so they couldn't be court martialed for it.
  • Cima Garahau in A Feddie Story to her battalion of Zeon Marines. Even before she's forced into command, she repeatedly expresses anger over the machinations of a regular military commander who's ordering the battalion into a risky maneuver; after his death and the death of her commander she adopts a stern attitude towards her troops' misdeeds, but at the same time she refuses to risk gutting her command or to spend their lives wastefully. Part of it is that her battalion was all recruited from the same colony, and she knows that she has to bring as many of them home as she can if she ever wants to go home.
  • Captain Boomerang is seen as this by his fellow Boos in Can a Boo Be Friends with a Human?. Sergeant Kung Boo thinks to himself he wouldn't know what to do without him.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide: Misato sincerely cares about her pilots. She's always trying to look after of Shinji and Asuka and help Rei, and she goes to great lengths to protect them.
  • Ice And Fire has Lelouch, in spades. He's willing to go the extra mile for his troops, even cooking for them and giving blood to the wounded. A good example of this is shown in Chapter 26, when he's talking to his men and chatting with them casually, in comparison to Zero’s dialogue with her subordinates at the same time being more professional and aloof.
  • When she is not having one of her "off-days", Pink Diamond in Fractures acts as this towards the Off-Colors.
  • In the Temeraire fanfic Black Wings, Black Sails, William Laurence maintains this tendency from his Navy days. When he has to captain a prison ship, his orders for treating the prisoners humanely and giving them medical care and exercise and such to stave off gaol-fever sow distrust and suspicion among his crew, and end in a mutiny. He continues to show similar care for his band of pirates, even once it's dozens of ships, hundreds of men, and one American Indian dragon strong.
  • SAPR: General Ironwood isn't just the leader of his nation, he's also seen as a bit of a father figure by some of those under him, and he in turn treats all those under him as if they were his children. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than with Rainbow Dash, who has known Ironwood since she was a kid and is extremely loyal to him for giving her a shot when almost no-one else would. He's extremely disappointed when she confesses to choosing to not stop Sunset during the Breach, which is even more crushing than her guilt.
  • Junior Officers: This element of Captain Barnacles' character is further developed in this fanfic, which is most strongly demonstrated by his interactions with Shellington and Deborah (barring a certain incident in "Even the Best Fall Down Sometimes") during the Kelp Forest arc.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live Action 
  • 300: Emperor Xerxes of the Persians gladly sends thousands of soldiers from his massive million-man army to death in Zerg Rush tactics, because We Have Reserves. King Leonidas of the Spartans, in contrast, knows each of the 300 men under his command by name, cares about all of them - and in return, all 300 volunteered to stand by him in this suicidal last stand. Xerxes doesn't fight but commands from behind, while Leonidas fights on the front line alongside his men. Leonidas also flat out tells Xerxes that (while he is prepared for a suicidal last stand), his one half-hope for victory is that it's only a matter of time until Xerxes's slave-soldiers grow to fear Spartan spears more than Persian slave-whips, and they'll start mutinying against him. This exchange between the two exemplifies this trope:
    Xerxes: It isn't wise to stand against me, Leonidas. Imagine what horrible fate awaits my enemies when I would gladly kill any of my own men for victory.
    King Leonidas: And I would die for any one of mine.
  • Beau Geste: Lieutenant Martin lectures Markoff for mistreating the new recruits and makes a speech about the honorable side of being a legionnaire. From his sickbed, he also tries to order Markoff not to use any violence to punish two deserters.
    Martin: The men must be led, not driven.
  • Used in K-19: The Widowmaker: Mikhail Polenin, the first captain of the K-19. All his men love him, he takes an interest in them and is a great submarine captain... then five minutes in, he's demoted and replaced by Alexei Vostrikov, who is a drill-obsessed hardass. Not only do the men hate him because he overworks them, they feel that their "rightful" captain has been wronged. Almost called out by name when Vostrikov is incredulous that the sub's crew would bring their fears directly to his predecessor.
    Polenin: A crew is like a family. The captain is the father.
    Vostrikov: My own father inspired more fear than he indulged.
  • General Waverly in White Christmas.
    Bob Wallace: We ate, and then he ate. We slept and then he slept.
    Phil Davis: Yeah, then he woke up and nobody slept for forty-eight hours.
    • The feeling is mutual, as expressed by the Crowd Song "The Old Man," where the soldiers of the 151st sing of their devotion to the General.
  • John Wayne's character in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
  • Russell Crowe seems to play these characters well. The Roman general he played in Gladiator cared deeply for his men, and in some ways even more for his fellow gladiators. Captain Jack Aubrey in Master and Commander is this even moreso.
  • In Apocalypse Now, Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) alludes to Lieutenant-Colonel "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" Kilgore (Robert Duvall) as falling into this trope. Arguably he comes across as more of a Cool Uncle or Older Brother.
  • The Captain in Das Boot is very much like this, although he is only thirty years old and the men are in their late teens.
  • It's very understated, but Captain Nemo appears to have this relationship with his men in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. This is a nod to his source material, as these men continued to follow him even after he was exiled from his homeland, where he had been a prince in the ruling family before their massacre.
  • The Thin Red Line
  • General Robert E. Lee in Gettysburg. Exemplified in one scene shortly after the titular battle, where Lee apologizes to his men for their defeat at the hands of the Union army and takes all the blame for their failure. His men, on the other hand, refuse to blame Lee and plead with him to send them back into battle to redeem themselves.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • While he might be The Stoic Nick Fury still regardless cares greatly for his S.H.I.E.L.D subordinates namely Phil Coulson, Maria Hill and Natasha Romanov aka Black Widow, as seen in The Avengers (2012) and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Fury’s apparent death was even enough to move Hill and Widow to tears, Fury also extends this trope to the Avengers as he has a strong bonds with Tony, Cap and Captain Marvel. The Russo brothers claimed Fury would’ve been a stabilising presence in Captain America: Civil War thus he was removed.
    • Zig-zagged among The Avengers as on the surface it seems like just like in comics Captain America is the father figure as The Leader, but apart from consoling Scarlet Witch at one point Cap doesn’t invoke this much. Iron Man on other hand does play this straight, acting as Team Dad often especially to the young Spider-Man and he even tried to calm down Starlord in Avengers: Infinity War and soothes a manically depressed Thor in Avengers: Endgame.
    • Black Widow surprisingly manages to be a mother figure to The Avengers as will readily console or reprimand her teammates but as Endgame shows she treasures them and is one who keeps tabs on all of them. After her Heroic Sacrifice, Tony asks Cap if Nat has any family and Cap just replies “Yeah us”.
    • Yondu from Guardians of the Galaxy is this for the Ravagers whom he cares greatly for especially Peter Quill aka Starlord, whose his surrogate son. In the sequel when Taserface mutinied and killed every man who was loyal to Yondu who Forced to Watch, Yondu went on a One-Man Army Roaring Rampage of Revenge killing every single foe with his Yaka Arrow.
    • Thanos is this to the Black Order whom he outright calls his “children” and they in turn call him “father” and determinedly want to please him. While a Thanos does favour Gamora, he was still upset about Ebony Maw getting killed and was completely stricken at loss of his entire army at Tony’s hand in Endgame.
  • General Kuribayashi from Letters from Iwo Jima tries to be this, but the other officers in the army have the soldiers still be Red Shirts, and the only one this has good effect on is Shimizu.
  • Hunter, in Crimson Tide, leads from the bottom up, contrasting with The Captain's lead from the top style.
  • Star Trek
    • In Star Trek (2009), Captain Pike is practically young Jim Kirk's "Well Done, Son!" Guy.
    • In the sequel, John Harrison is this, as part of his motivation is to save his crew. He even calls them his family
      Harrison: My crew is my family, Kirk. Is there anything you would not do for your family?
  • The Guns of Navarone. Miller snidely suggests that Mallory play this part when he's trying to convince Mallory to shoot The Mole.
  • In The Rock, the "being torn up about sacrifices" part leads Brigadier General Francis Hummel into the villainy. It's notable how everyone even remotely knowledgeable still talk all respect about him even after he initiates a hostage/terrorist plot. Which he intended to be just a bluff.
  • Kimberly states this in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie when she tells Zordon that he has been "a father to us all" as he is dying.
    • In an early script, Dulcea said Zordon was an inspiration. If he dies, a part of those he inspired dies with him, and the universe will suffer an "imparable blow".
  • Wolfstan in Black Death.
  • Major West in 28 Days Later is a dark version of this.
  • Col. Keith Davenport, Twelve O'Clock High. So much a father to his men that it is undermining his combat effectiveness, as he can't make the hard decisions to send men to their deaths. So beloved by his men that after he is relieved of command and Gen. Savage replaces him, EVERY pilot in the group requests a transfer out of the 918th.
  • In After Earth General Cypher Raige is respected and looked up to by his fellow rangers, including one who was apparently saved by him from an Ursa.
  • In Starship Troopers, Lieutenant Rasczak demands the best, and gives the best, supplying his men with "beer and entertainment" between deployments — which is implied to be something most platoons don't receive from their commanders.
  • The Fugitive: Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard, mother hen extraordinaire. Tells Poole to get new boots and wear two coats, keeps Newman with him whenever possible, makes sure he's okay after a traumatic experience. Whenever he praises someone, they visibly light up. He also explicitly refers to his team as his kids - speaking of which: Do. Not. Threaten. His. Kids.
    Gerard: "What can I say, sir? Mr Copeland was a bad man, he was gonna kill one of my kids. ... Well, sir, you can blame me; I'm the one that shot him."
  • In The Hunt for Red October Captain Ramius stationed many of his former officers on the Red October and they are willing to risk their lives to help him carry out his plan to defect with the submarine to the USA. One of his officers even takes a bullet for Ramius.
  • X-Men Film Series: The vast majority of the X-Men view Professor Charles Xavier as a father figure, and he in return treats them like his own children. His tendency to act as a Parental Substitute and Badass Teacher has reinforced Undying Loyalty amongst his students, starting with the boys in X-Men: First Class and extending all the way to the Bad Future of 2023 in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Old habits die hard, and Logan has him being an attentive grandfather to Laura.
  • The titular Major Payne, while definitely a Drill Sergeant Nasty and (in the words of Emily) an "an insecure, overbearing, psychopathic, edictorial, ego maniacal, frigid lunatic asshole", but in his own warped way he definitely cares about his men. Be it by breaking a comrade's finger to take his mind off the pain of being shot, shooting the closet to "terminate the Boogeyman with extreme prejudice" so the young Tiger can go to sleep, or defending one of his students from their abusive and drunken step-father. In fact, he becomes a literal example of this to one of his men in the end of the film where he marries Emily and adopts Tiger.
  • In O Homem da Capa Preta, as in real life, many of Tenório´s bodyguards and supporters were in fact close family relations or acquaintances from his state in the Brazilian Northeast and around Caxias favelas.
  • Stop-Loss plays this for drama. The protagonist, Sgt Brandon King, is respected and loved by his squad. His term is almost up - until he's informed that he's about to be sent back out there. As he flees this sentence, the rest of his men quickly fall apart without his influence. This partly plays into his decision to serve the extra time in Iraq rather than go AWOL.
  • Small Soldiers: Major Chip Hazard is one of the few villainous examples, but he shows genuine concern for his subordinates and sheds several Manly Tears at Nick Nitro's death.
  • Star Wars Princess Leia is a rare female example. She really does seem to care about the Red Shirts, which is particularly evident during the start of the Battle Of Hoth.
  • Python: Agent Parker says that he never met the flight crew who the python killed, but they were under his command, and he will avenge them.
  • Lt. Clifford in The Odd Angry Shot doesn't get a lot of screen time, but what he does get shows him to be this kind of officer: especially the scene at Vũng Tàu where he saves his men from being placed on charges and puts a REMF sergeant-major in his place.

    Manhua and Manhwa 
  • The majority of the generals in Ravages of Time but subverted with Lu Bu who, while extremely talented, thinks of his soldiers as nothing more than disposable pawns.
  • Ha Jinsung from Tower of God is a villainous version, as he dotes on his student and subordinate Viole like an overly embarrassing father.

  • The eponymous character of Dispatch's "The General".
  • Sabaton quotes The Art of War in the intro to "Union (Slopes of St. Benedict)".
    "Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys. Look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death."

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Training from Hell aside, Karl Gotch was said to be good to his students, one of which, Masami Soranaka, was his actual son in law. Ironically, the students he liked the least, Akira Maeda, Antonio Inoki and Nobuhiko Takada, were among the most successful.
  • On the first BattlARTS show, Yoshiaki Fujiwara referred to the promotion's founders as his sons. These were the same men who had left the Fujiwara Gumi promotion in droves after complaining about the management team Fujiwara had hired.
  • KENTA was this to No Mercy in Pro Wrestling NOAH, sticking by his stablemates even when he was told to go home and rehabilitate injuries, even when they were soon to leave due to not renewing their contracts and most detrimentally, even when one Maybach Taniguchi all but admitted his plans to replace KETNA!
  • The women of WWE's division from 2001-2011 state that Fit Finlay was this to them. He was given the job as the women's trainer as a demotion, but sought to work with them and encourage them to make their matches stand out. Trish Stratus in particular credits him with helping make her career. Behind the scenes, the women say that Fit would always fight to get them more time for matches.
  • The Undertaker has a sterling reputation as a locker room leader in the WWE, keeping prima-donna talent in check, giving insight and taking on a mentoring role towards the younger talent, and generally looking out for the rest of the locker room. Even wrestlers who left the company under acrimonious circumstances continue to speak glowingly of the big man, long after they've left, such as Drew Galloway and Ken Anderson.
    • 'Taker is so well respected that Triple H reportedly asked him whether it was okay to date Stephanie McMahon. And since this is 'Taker? It could very well be true.
      Mr Kennedy: There's two mountains in the WWE. At the top of one mountain there's Triple H, who's throwing rocks down at you so he can keep the top to himself. At the top of the other mountain is the Undertaker, who's constantly reaching down to help you out so you can enjoy the view with him.

  • The Bible:
    • Abraham, a father to his people and at least four ethnicities (at least two of which are extant).
    • David, whose band of mighty men broke through the enemy's fortification just to bring him a bucket of water from his childhood well because they overheard him wishing for it. Later on, when he was older, his men refused to let him fight giants anymore because he almost got killed, and they didn't want to "quench the light of Israel." (Translation: everyone would be heartbroken if you died.)
    • God. All of his followers are his children. He guides and comforts them, and some believe He even died for them.
  • In The Book of Mormon, Captain Helaman's 2000 young soldiers call him "Father", and he refers to them as his sons.
  • Norse Mythology has Odin, who gathers fallen warriors in Valhalla and is frequently called "Valfadr", that is: father of the slain.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Iron Kingdoms: Captain Phinneus Shae, pirate captain of the Talion. As his crew are all outcasts and wanted by the Cygnaran army for mutiny, he is willing to kill himself against an undead captain, to keep his crew safe.
  • Imperial Guard commanders in Warhammer 40,000 tend to be either this or General Rippers. There's one guy who not only remembers all the men he's had under his command, but tattooed the faces of those who died onto his body. This being 40K, one wonders how long it'll be until he runs out of space.
    • As noted by Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!!!), very, very few commissars are this out of propaganda videos. However, those who rule exclusively through *BLAM*ings (outside of Penal Legions) tend to meet heroic deaths despite being nowhere near the front line at the time.
    • The Primarchs were this for the Legions under their command. Though most of the Loyalist Primarchs were definitely this trope (Mainly Sanguinius and Vulkan), the only Traitor Primarchs that seemed to have any sort of care for their Legions were Magnus and Lorgar, and of the two only Magnus has been shown to still have said care even into the 41st millenium (if only because Lorgar has more-or-less left the matters of his Legion to his highest commanders).

  • Cyrano de Bergerac: This trope is Deconstructed by Carbon de Castel-Jaloux' attitude (see the quote of Sun Tzu in literature above): He is the captain of the Cadets of Gascony, a nobleman who pays his own company, so he only is obliged to obey his superiors in military matters. He is troubled at the Siege of Arras, because all his men (to whom he refers as his sons!) are starving. His superior, The Marshal of Gassion, Count De Guiche, asks him to punish his men for disrespecting a superior officer (himself). Using his prerogative, Carbon de Castel-Jaloux chooses not to. After that, De Guiche informs him that his company is the bait in a gambit that can win the battle. Carbon de Castel-Jaloux is completely on board with the plan to send all his company to death because that is what a Gascon soldier is supposed to do. Notice that if he had punished his men –- soldiers in an army are supposed to respect a superior, no matter how despicable they find him — his company would not have been picked to fight a suicide mission.
  • In All My Sons, Chris's Army nickname was "Mother McKeller." While little is said about his commanding abilities, he respected and was respected by his men, and was prouder to see them fighting selflessly and dying honorably (almost all were lost) than of going back to work with his father, where civilians hadn't changed their old money-grubbing ways.

    Visual Novels 
  • Hiroshi Kirisawa, the leader of the Special Investigations 2nd Unit in Metro PD: Close to You, is frequently credited as the entire reason that the Ragtag Band of Misfits that makes up the unit is able to function at all, let alone as the well-oiled machine that it is. He's charismatic and dependable, encourages his men to run their investigations as they see fit, and is always prepared to back them up or take responsibility for their fumbles. He looks out for his guys off the job almost as much as he does on, doing things like regularly having the whole team over to his place for a home-cooked meal since most of them are bachelors who can't or don't cook for themselves.
  • Shi-Long Lang from Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth takes this to comedic levels. He does a roll call with his men, and when they start counting off "1! 2! 3! etc." he immediately becomes angry... because all of his men are #1 in his book! The next time he does a roll call later in the game, his men count off "1! 1! 1! etc." instead. He also gives a birthday present to one of his men, who says he is grateful, but it's not his birthday. Lang then says that he knows that, and the present isn't for him, it's for his younger brother's wife's younger brother! It's played more seriously when he takes a bullet for his second-in-command, who had just revealed herself as The Mole, because she was still his subordinate and he feels it's his duty to protect his subordinates at any cost. Then he arrests her. All of this inspires Undying Loyalty in his men (except for The Mole, obviously), who address him with great reverence as "Shifu".note 

  • Magick Chicks: Faith Abbot is Artemis Academy's student council president, which makes her responsible for safeguarding its students against perceived threats. And she takes that to heart, as she'll go to great lengths to protect them. This is also seen on a more personal level, such as when Sandi recounts the time Faith took Sandi under her wing, when she was younger, and taught her how to properly control her powers.
  • The Order of the Stick: When standing between Miko and Belkar, Roy says that he learned in school that the commander does not abandon one of his people in the face of the enemy. He was at one point seriously considering not rescuing a captured Elan, but ultimately decided that this was unbecoming of him. The guilt he felt over being so shallow and self-centered drove him to try and be a better leader and nicer to Elan.
  • Schlock Mercenary. Captain Kaff Tagon, the founder of Tagon's Toughs, is every bit of this for his men. And disrespecting him is a good way to get a faceful of fist (or other, rather higher energy things) from his men. Even Kaff Tagon's own father, Karl, is impressed by the loyalty that his son has produced in the troops.
    • One example: after a particularly eventful mission (which included using the warhead of a ship-to-ship missle inside his own ship to repel boarders), the company decided to expand their ranks a little bit. While walking down a hallway he overhears one of the hiring interviews; the potential recruits state they want to work under him because he leads "from the front", and protects his men.
  • In Girl Genius, Jaegergeneral Gkika is a mother to her men. They even call her Mamma Gkika. Considering that she's one of only two female Jaegers that we've seen, and she's made it to be one of the eight Generals (out of thousands of Jaegers), it's quite an achievement.
  • I Don't Want This Kind of Hero: Escorts Naga from school when he's afraid of Knife targeting him; is an actual Parental Substitute to Guineung; makes it clear that even if her subordinates screw up (outside of trivial stuff, anyway), Dana will take responsibility as their superior so they don't need to worry; comforts Raptor after Young Jeong's death... Temper aside, Dana is a great boss to work for.
  • Crimson Knights: Once he becomes Grandmaster, Mot becomes very caring of his warriors, going so far as to fly into a massive rant about Itham's values when he is insulted by his step-mother.
  • Sarilho: implied to be the case of Olivia Mezzaferro, as she may seem distant but shows up to Mikhail's funeral and even has some kind words to share with Nikita.

    Web Original 
  • Despite there technically being no real cohesive team, Atlas fills this trope for the Metro City Chronicles heroes (Noted especially for Squid Kid).
  • When Robert E. Lee turns out to be unfit for a combat command in The Salvation War, General Petraeus alludes to this in assigning him to head a convalescent home for traumatized "Second Life," aka undead American soldiers from past wars.
  • Captain Flowers of Red vs. Blue isn't just a Father To His Men; he's a pathologically paternal Nice Guy. He's also Agent Florida of Project Freelancer so this is somewhat questionable as the begininning of Season 14 shows. The best example of this is Sarge. Despite his abusive treatment throughout the show, he does really care about the Blood Gulch teams, Wash, and Carolina more than he lets on. When the teams are under attack in the season 11 climax, he can be loudly heard yelling "You Bastards stay away from my men!" before he gets shot by Locus's concussion rifle, knocking him out, and the team loses it's first major battle. Mood Whiplash at its finest. He also takes Grif's departure in season 15 pretty hard. They have an awkward reunion once they meet again.
  • The founder of the Knights of Fandom is a Mother to Her Followers.
  • A very rare supervillain example is Dr. Leonides Diabolik, from the Whateley Universe. Some other supervillains gripe to each other that he's completely ruined the market for henchmen, because everyone who works for him is treated so well.
  • Deviant: Tsunami, leader of the superhero team Terminus, could be considered a team mom, often disregarding formalities and going out of her way to keep her team alive. She's also friends with most of the team, especially best friend Blizzard and husband Alpha.
  • The Mighty Jingles once referred to his commanding officer from his Royal Navy days by the words "We would have gone anywhere, fought anyone for him."
  • Kitten, Captain-General of the Adeptus Custodes in If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, was elected Captain-General in the first place because his men adore him for his caring nature. They even tell him in episode 28 that they need a father more than a Warmaster. Even Whammudes, who only listens to him when he feels like it and steals the position of Emperor's Caretaker from him, admits that Kitten works two exhausting jobs for both the Emperor and his fellow Custodes. For instance, he bakes a custom pizza pie for every Custodes (numbering around 10,000) every day, and they're delicious.
    • Magnus the Red, as above, is so beloved by the Thousand Sons that they were willing to send a message to the Emperor, their Arch-Enemy, after he disappeared.
  • DSBT InsaniT: In Alexs' own words, back when he was evil, he treated his Mooks with respect and referred to them as 'bodyguards' rather than 'underlings' or any similar word.

    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Father To His Men, A Mother To Her Men


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