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Armed Farces

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"Then he used his fight money to buy two of every animal on earth, and then he herded them onto a boat... and then he beat the crap out of every single one!"
The Soldier on Sun Tzu, Team Fortress 2

Simply put, when a work centered around military is Played for Laughs. This particular brand of funny centers on stereotypically dim-witted personnel, asshole officers, and naive recruits. And a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits.

Comes in two flavors: Wartime and Peacetime. Expect a wartime military farce to turn Darker and Edgier in the penultimate act when the "real war" comes calling for the characters (and oftentimes, but not always, a Misfit Mobilization Moment).


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In contrast to the War Is Hell stories told by most Gundam shows, the spinoff manga We're Federation Hooligans (and its own spinoff Mobile Suit Acguy and sequel Gundam Katana) are raucous comedies about cheerfully maladjusted soldiers facing the daily absurdities of military life.
  • Martian Successor Nadesico includes some military farce, even if it's only to contrast the difference between the real military and the Nadesico's crew of oddball civilian contractors.
  • In a sharp contrast to the original book's militaristic and nationalistic beliefs Maya the Bee is pretty light on army matters: the hive isn't as militaristic and Maya is free to wander around the world. What it also includes is an army of ants who is parodied as dignified and proud but is actually pretty shortsighted and thoughtless.
  • Strike Witches has a Disaster Dominoes episode due to Erica borrowing someone's underwear without permission.

    Comic Books 
  • Asterix: Roman soldiers are portrayed as a bunch of weak and incompetent losers. And quite a few centurions aren't that better. The army is very lacking in efficiency and organisation, the spirit is that everyone is only out for themselves and everyone treats their job as a chore. A good part of this stems from the fact that since everyone in the camps surrounding the village who has had an encounter with the Gauls (which is everybody except recent transfers) knows that fighting the Gauls will just result in them getting beaten up, they don't see any reason to even try to be proper soldiers.
  • George Baker's Sad Sack, which was originally distributed to military personnel in "Yank, The Army Weekly" during World War II; after the war ended, the Sad Sack cartoons were syndicated in various newspapers from 1946 to 1958, ultimately being published by Harvey Comics from 1949 to 1982. The series depicted the antics of private Sad Sack, the Sarge, Slob Slobinski, Hi-Fi Tweeter, General Rockjaw and others at Camp Calamity (sometimes called Camp Browbeat).
  • Sturmtruppen is a satiric comic telling the life and misadventures of a German battalion during World War II. To give you an idea of what Sturmtruppen is like, a story arc deals with a soldier going around naked because he has found out the rulebook doesn't say they actually have to wear their uniforms, only to keep them in perfect order, and the doomed attempts of the captain and the sergeant to make him wear the uniform before the rest of the battalion follows suit.

    Comic Strips 
  • Sweden has a long tradition of comics with the Peacetime flavour, starting with 91:an Karlsson which has been running since 1932.note  When the comic got its own magazine it would later receive guest strips about other parts of the military, such as Flygsoldat 113 Bom (the Air Force) and Flottans gossar, Frisk och Rask (the Navy). The series' enduring popularity is because Sweden used to have mandatory conscription for young adult males even during peacetime, meaning that almost all of them could relate to military humour.
  • Beetle Bailey is a peacetime variant to comic extremes, centering on a military camp located in the US which has somehow managed to remain uninvolved in armed conflict despite numerous wars over the strip's lifetime (Possibly because the Army has figured out that the best way the soldiers in that camp can aid the war effort is to stay as far away from it as possible).
  • Bluey And Curley was a WWII Australian comic strip featuring two larrikin Australian soldiers: Bluey (who had served in the First AIF), and Curley, a new recruit. At the end of the war, the strip followed the pair as they transitioned back to civvy street, and it gradually stopped being military humour.
  • Crock, which ran from 1975 to 2012, dealt with the wackiness of a Foreign Legion commandant and his troops.
  • PVT Murphy's Law: A comic about life in the US Army, starring Staff Sergeant Murphy and written/drawn by retired Master Sergeant Mark Baker. The title of the cartoon is both an Artifact Title and a Shout-Out to Murphy's Law, and how it relates to life in the military. But despite the exaggerated humor each cartoon is actually a pointed look at how the real-life Army operates both officially and unofficially.
  • Tumbleweeds: The 6 7/8 Cavalry was prominently featured, interacting frequently with both the Poohawks and Grimy Gulch, all the while showing their hilarious incompetence
  • Bill Mauldin's Willie and Joe, published in during WWII, and later collected in Up Front and Back Home. He made fun of the top brass so well General Patton threatened to stop publication of Stars and Stripes, but Eisenhower came to Mauldin's defense due to the comics' morale-boosting effect.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The 7th Company series is about the comical adventures of a trio of not very bright World War II French soldiers who get lost somewhere on the moving frontlines in 1940 as Germans start to occupy France.
  • Babette Goes to War: A war comedy about a beautiful but ditzy girl who gets drafted by the British and French forces into seducing a Nazi general.
  • Boobs in Arms: The Three Stooges join the army.
  • Buck Privates: Abbott and Costello enlist in the U.S. army and cause hijinks at a boot camp.
  • Buffalo Soldiers is a satirical comedy where a bunch of bored soldiers stationed in West Germany near the end of the Cold War pass their time by manufacturing drugs.
  • The Carry On films visited this theme several times:
    • Carry On, Sergeant is set among National Service recruits in the British Army, who comprise an assortment of buffoons, snobs, hypochondriacs, and ne'er-do-wells.
    • Carry On Jack is set in the Navy during the Napoleonic Era, with a chronically seasick captain, his scheming first mate, and an accident-prone midshipman.
    • Follow That Camel is set in the French Foreign Legion, with the usual clueless officers and naive NCOs and privates who couldn't find their way out of a sandpit, much less find their way through the desert.
    • Carry On Up the Khyber is set in the British Raj, and starts with the joke that the supposedly terrifying kilted soldiers of the local regiment (who include a motley group of cowards and clots) actually wear giant pairs of underwear beneath their kilts.note 
    • Carry On England is set in a gender-integrated military division on the Home Front in World War II, the members of which are far more interested in pursuing sexual escapades than in anything to do with the military, to the frustration of Captain S. Melly and Sergeant Major Bloomer.
  • The Dawns Here Are Quiet is a 1972 Russian movie set in WW2. A cunning and not especially militarily-inclined Sergeant has wangled a posting to the quietest part of the Eastern Front, a backwater of the Finnish Front where neither the Russians nor the Finns are inclined to do anything overly hostile to each other. In this section of the Kola Peninsular, a long way from any actual fighting, Sergeant Vaskov is sent a draft of keen recruits to, errr, person, his anti-aircraft guns. As they are all female, hilarity ensues. At least, until the Germans move into the sector opposite.
  • Delta Farce, starring Larry the Cable Guy and Danny Trejo.
  • Down Periscope is another submarine example, with a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits being assigned to crew a Korean War-era diesel submarine as part of a wargame scenario.
  • Dr. Strangelove: A black comedy about the intersection of libido and thermonuclear war.
  • Hot Shots! and Hot Shots! Part Deux; parodies of Top Gun and Rambo respectively.
  • In The Army Now: Bones and Jack, two misguided guys, join the reserves in order to put a permanent end to their unemployed status. However, they soon realise that there is more to being in the army than meets the eye.
  • I Was a Male War Bride, a Very Loosely Based on a True Story 1949 film with Cary Grant as a French army captain who ends up Disguised in Drag as a U.S. army nurse in order to accompany his U.S. Women's Army Corps wife back to America after World War II. (This was because the Pentagon had only anticipated war brides, not war grooms.)
  • Mister Roberts, which is about the Navy for a change.
  • No Time For Sergeants presents an Air Force take on the genre.
  • Operation Petticoat about a US Navy submarine's problems at the outbreak of World War II in the Pacific.
  • The Pentagon Wars: A slightly more serious example, but the movie is very openly satirical.
  • Praybeyt Benjamin: A gay man tries to prove himself to his military family by joining the military.
  • Private Benjamin a comedy about a Jewish American Princess's ill-advised decision to join the military.
  • The Sad Sack: Moroccan spies and an Army psychiatrist try to figure out a goofy GI (Jerry Lewis) with a photographic memory.
  • Sgt Bilko: A film adaptation of The Phil Silvers Show featuring Steve Martin as the eponymous huckster/soldier.
  • Stripes: Two slackers inspire their ragtag bunch of misfits to be slacker soldiers, then drive a weaponized Winnebago into Czechoslovakia.
  • Tankový prapor (1991) adapted from the book Republic of Whores, about conscripts in a Czech tank battalion during the Cold War, thought it's meant as a satire of the communist system rather than the military.
  • Up the Academy: At the Sheldon R. Weinberg Academy, four young teens are sent to school and learn the discipline that the school teaches. Almost immediately, they don't like what is going on. Along the way, they plan their own actions from looking for girls to holding a party without the faculty's knowledge.
  • The Wackiest Ship In The Army. During WW2, Lt. Rip Crandall, who was a yachtsman before the war, takes command of the USS Echo, a sailing ship, for a secret mission in waters patrolled by Japanese warships. Mores of a comedy-drama.
  • Zero Motivation is the Israeli take on this trope. A unit of female Israeli soldiers at a remote desert base bide their time as they count down the minutes until they can return to civilian life.

  • Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall by Spike Milligan. Based on a True Story, but no less farcical.
  • Captain Fatso was just one a series of little remembered but once popular navy farces written by Rear Admiral Daniel V. Gallery.
  • Catch-22: A dark comedy and satire about warfare and other absurdities in life. The story follows a range of wacky characters on an small WW2 air base who struggle mightily to do everything except try to win the war.
  • Discworld has some examples, such as Monstrous Regiment and portions of Jingo.
  • Fraser's Flashman series is a good example of the wartime kind, featuring a Dirty Coward Designated Hero as the protagonist and replete with Black Comedy throughout.
  • Hašek's classic satire The Good Soldier Švejk is about the lunatic ineptitude of the Austro-Hungarian Army in WW1 seen through the eyes of the cunning soldier Švejk.
  • Mary Gentle's Grunts! has military joking aplenty. From the hapless recruits under Gunnery Sergeant Ashnak early in the evolution of the Orc Marines to the equally hapless elf recruits and their orc trainer Sgt. Dakashnit later on. Dakashnit's advice for her recruits on what to do if their parachute fails, in particular.
  • The McAuslan series by George MacDonald Fraser consists of affectionate, semi-fictional Armed Farces stories. His Quartered Safe Out Here is a less farcical, less fictional (though still quite funny) memoir.
  • Modern readers of M*A*S*H may be surprised to find that the original book was more about military farce than social commentary. Later books in the series do include a lot of social commentary, but it's conservative social commentary.
  • Rally Round the Flag, Boys!, about the establishment of a Nike base in the New England town of Putnam's Landing.
  • "A Ship Named Francis", a short story by John Ringo and set in the Honor Harrington universe, concerns a Manticoran Corpsman who joins the Francis Meuller, a ship in the allied Grayson Navy. He quickly discovers that the whole crew are various flavors of batshit crazy.
  • The Ship with the Flat Tire: Everything on the U.S.S. Carnation was bass ackwards, so they called her "ASS-1". The worst thing that happened to the Carnation was that she left the shipyard. The next worst thing was that Ensign J. Roger Westbury was assigned to her as supply officer.
  • Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour trilogy is a story of a man who trains to be an elite commando in World War II... and spends almost the entire war dealing with pointless bureaucratic red tape and farcical incompetence. Only once in the entire war does he actually even see a German soldier with his own two eyes, and that is an indication that he has gotten hopelessly lost and accidentally gone too far toward enemy lines. This series was based on Waugh's own experience as a Royal Marine during the war, during which he participated in several military actions... all of which were incompetently-managed and utterly ineffective fiascoes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 'Allo 'Allo! The story is set in a small-town café in German-occupied France during the Second World War. It is a parody of another BBC programme, the wartime drama Secret Army.
  • The Army Game: The show centres on a group of conscripts assigned to the Surplus Ordnance Department at Nether Hopping, Staffordshire. Billeted in Hut 29, the men are determined to work little and have fun.
  • At Ease, a short-lived '80s sitcom starring Jimmie Walker of Good Times fame.
  • Blackadder Goes Forth, set in the trenches of World War I. It follows the rule that things get dark when the real war starts; in the finale, Blackadder, Baldrick, George, and Darling all get sent over the top to fight the Germans despite their attempts to stop this, and after some despairing speeches, they all die.
  • Bluestone42 is a comedy drama series about a British bomb disposal detachment in Afghanistan during Operation Herrick.
  • CPO Sharkey with Don Rickles.
  • Dad's Army is set in the British Home Guard during World War II and features an arrogant but inept platoon commander, his sensible but ignored second-in-command, and the five men under their command, three of whom are over 60 years old, one of whom is a conniving spiv, and one of whom is a wet-nosed mummy's boy.
  • Enlisted: Three very different brothers, each soldiers in the U.S. Army, find themselves all assigned to the same unit: the fictional A Company, 2nd Battalion, 618th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 18th Infantry Division (Mechanized), at the fictional Fort McGee, located in Florida.
  • F Troop is set at Fort Courage, a western frontier fort and dumping ground for the worst of the US Army after the Civil War. The commanding officer is a clumsy buffoon who only rose to high office after accidentally being in the right place at the right time during the war's final battle at Appomattox, the lookout has such bad eyesight that he can't even see the end of his own nose, and the two most prominent NCOs have various criminal enterprises going in partnerships with the local native tribe, the Hekawis.
  • Gary Tank Commander is a BBC Scotland sitcom about Corporal Gary McLintoch, who's a tank commander in the fictional 104th Royal Tank Regiment. The series is set back in Scotland, with Gary and his friends having just returned from the warzone (Iraq in the first season, Afghanistan in the second).
  • Get Some In! features a rare Royal Air Force-set example, with Upper-Class Twit officers, Drill Sergeant Nasty NCOs, almost animalistic career airmen, and gullible National Service recruits.
  • Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. featured a country bumpkin assigned to a Marine platoon, with inevitable hijinks resulting.
  • Hogan's Heroes is in a German prisoner of war (POW) camp during World War II. The premise of the show is that the prisoners of war (POWs) are actually using the camp as a base of operations for Allied espionage and sabotage against Nazi Germany as well as to help Allied POWs from other camps and defectors to escape Germany.
  • I Dream of Jeannie, with Air Force Captain (later Major) Nelson, Army Captain (later Major) Healey as N.A.S.A. astronauts and Colonel Bellows, the local psychiatrist, with the action depicted as taking place around Cape Kennedy and Cocoa Beach, Florida, but actually filmed near Edwards A.F.B. and Hollywood, CA.
  • It Ain't Half Hot, Mum has a Royal Artillery Concert Party whose CO and second-in-command are Upper Class Twits with minimal interest in actually running things, a Drill Sergeant Nasty Battery Sergeant Major who actually does run things with sadistic glee, and a motley assortment of Bombardiers and Gunners (equivalent to corporals and privates in the Army) who may have artistic talent (mostly) but no talent whatever for soldiering.
  • McHale's Navy: The basic plot revolves around McHale's crew's wacky schemes to make money, get girls, and have a ball, and the efforts of Captain Binghamton (McHale's superior) to rid himself of the PT-73 crew for good, either by transfer or court martial.
  • Major Dad inevitably included some miliary farce (as you would expect from the title) though the true focus was on Domestic Comedy.
  • The first three seasons of M*A*S*H included a lot of military farce before they decided to concentrate more on general social commentary. However, at least some military humor was inevitable, given the setting.
  • NCIS and its parent series JAG this trope only happens Stateside and not when on the frontlines.
  • The Phil Silvers Show starred Silvers as Sergeant Ernest Bilko, a huckster running a US Army motor-pool, who frequently conned the base's colonel.

  • A section specifically made for military humor has always been a tradition for Readers Digest magazine.

  • Tom Lehrer released a song called "It makes a fellow proud to be a soldier", on the album An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer, which pokes fun at the military.
    Now, Ed flunked out of second grade, and never finished school
    He doesn't know a shelter half from an entrenching tool
    But he's going to be a big success
    He heads his class at OCSnote 
    It makes a fellow proud to be a soldier!

  • Deep Trouble, set on a British nuclear submarine. They inadvertently torpedo the USS Nimitz in the opener of the first episode.
  • Hut33, set in Bletchley Park during WWII.
  • Occasional parts of The Leopard In Autumn, set in Renaissance Italy.
  • The Navy Lark, following the exploits of the crew of HMS Troutbridge; the worst ship in the Royal Navy.
  • The Ricky Gervais Show: Some of the stories involving Karl's brother Mark. He had an affair with his commanding officer's wife and was kicked out of the army for "going for a packet of fags in a tank".

    Video Games 
  • The first Battlefield: Bad Company, where three military screw-ups and their long-suffering sergeant go AWOL to hunt for mercenary gold.
  • In the second mission of Modern Warfare 2 the rest of the US Rangers don't seem to take combat seriously as they spend most of the time listening in on their phones and watching videos instead of fighting, only doing so if ordered. The sole Afghan ally doesn't even bother to fight at all and spends all day eating. Notably, this was excised for the 2020 remaster where the one Afghan ally and the other Rangers are now doing something (blindfiring from cover and mapping out coordinates respectively).
  • "Meet The Soldier" trailer for Team Fortress 2 is a perfect example. Although the Soldier was never actually in the army.
    • Team Fortress 2 in general, really. As opposed to a typical realistic military First-Person Shooter, everything uses a cartoony style and the different playable classes are larger-than-life humorous personalities.

    Web Animation 
  • Combat Devolved Follows this trope to the tee, It has stupid military personnel, asshole military personnel and naive military personnel who spend more time bitching about each other and the Covenant than actually fighting them.
  • Red vs. Blue practically embodies this trope. The one cast member with military experience even said inane discussions such as an "I Spy" game are an accurate depiction of his time in the Army. It starts getting serious (somewhat) when actual soldiers start showing up.
    Church: [after the Blue Team is sent a tank that none of them can drive] Holy crap, who is running this army?!?
    • In the 8th season, note  we learn that the Red and Blue armies are actually used for training simulations, with the soldiers consisting of the lowest-rated troops that think they're fighting a real war. When we see other Red and Blue teams, we see that they can be almost as stupid, if not even more so, than the main teams.
      Vic: Y'know, when most people talk about the Reds and the Blues, they're talkin' about my boys at Blood Gulch but, lot's of dudes forget that there's a bunch more primary coloured commandos all over the galaxy. And they're all idiots.
    • Season 12 gives us the two sides in the civil war on Chorus, the Federal Army and New Republic. The war has been going on for so long that most of the worthwhile soldiers were already killed. To put it lightly, these guys look up to the Blood Gulch Crew, which tells a lot about their standards. Most of the actual fighting is done by mercenaries, who are in fact working together to kill off the planet's population and steal the alien relics kept within.
  • Spriggs: a Halo 3 Machinima: Unlike the Reds and Blues above, a lot of the characters are real badasses, but they are stuck in Zambi 7 with nothing to do, and are placed there to rot.


    Web Original 
  • A recurring element of Campfire Stories: Mike's a retired Marine and Zach's a former US Army small arms repairman, and they have a lot of stories about the silliness of their respective branches.
  • The Duffel Blog is basically the military version of The Onion.
  • Half-Life but the AI is Self-Aware depicts the US Military as being composed of a bunch of idiots who constantly call in air strikes on their own men and whose idea of a successful military operation is to blow up all the bathrooms in Black Mesa.
  • The "Shut The Fuck Up, Carl!" meme: What happens when one member of the squad is a Cloud Cuckoolander with no brain-to-mouth filter?
  • Skippy's List has elements of this.
  • "You see Ivan": Similar to the above, except involving Russians, Reckless Gun Usage, and plenty of Insane Troll Logic.
    You see Ivan, when hold peestol like rifle, you shall never shoot the inaccurate for fear of shooting fingers.
    Observe Vladimir, when hold rifle like pistol, you stronger than recoil for fear of hitting face.

    Western Animation 
  • Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines could be considered the Air Force, considering they take orders from an unseen General. More Air Farce, based on their track record of screwing up in every episode.
  • Donald Duck starred in a series of Wartime Cartoons in which he played a bumbling private under Sergeant Pete.
  • Futurama:
  • Looney Tunes short "Forward March Hare", in which Bugs Bunny joins the army and is treated like you'd expect an anthropomorphic rabbit to be treated if inducted into the army: with disbelief or thoughts of one losing one's mind. Make what you will of the fact that Bugs also once starred in a Wartime Cartoon/recruitment commercial for the US Marines. note  It is also one of the few cases where Bugs is as blind as everyone else and screws things accidentally.
    • Daffy Duck has the time of his life putting it over on the Nazis during World War II in "Daffy the Commando" and "Plane Daffy." What better way to flummox the Axis than to unleash Daffy's cuckoolander on them.
  • The Looney Tunes Show: The B Story in "Semper Lie" involves Daffy accidentally enlisting in the Marine Corps. Bizarrely, this turns out to be the one job he is not incompetent at, but he is discharged at the end of the episode for having flat feet. (Because he's a duck).
  • The Mask once joined the marines and somehow was put in charge of guarding a battleship, to which he traded to kid for baseball cards.
  • M.K. 22 is an Israeli animated comedy that is made entirely of this trope. It follows the increasingly zany happenings at a top secret nuclear missile silo deep in the Negev desert, as seen from the point of view of two enlisted men serving as quartermasters. Over its 10-episode run, the series manages to parody and hang lampshades on pretty much every aspect of service in the IDF, and still has time to laugh as Israeli society in general.
  • Private Snafu, a series of army "training" films made during WW2.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show episode "In The Army".
  • In The Simpsons episode "G.I. (Annoyed Grunt)", Homer winds up joining the army and ends up in a squad of dimwits like him. They took part in an army exercise which involves using them as cannon fodder, then they run off and hide in Springfield, to which the army occupies the town to flush them out.
  • Hanna-Barbera effected this twice in the 1981 season on Saturday mornings with the animated Laverne & Shirley on ABC (the girls in the army with their squad leader swine Sgt. Squealy) and the Private Oyl segment of CBS' The Popeye and Olive Comedy Show (Olive and Alice the Goon in the army with their uptight leader Sgt. Blast).