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Colonel Badass

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"I am Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt. I am known as a fair man, unless I am pushed. You have just pushed me."

Imagine The Captain, but instead of a ship at sea or in the stars, they have a large contingent of ground troops. Still the most kickass guy around, powerful leader, outranks everyone else in The Squad, you know the type. Chances are, they're gonna be a colonel. (which is pronounced "kernel" by the way)

This is probably because "Colonel" is the highest military rank deployable in the field, the highest rank unlikely to be noticed and Rank Scales with Asskicking on TV. Theoretically, General Ripper and The Brigadier should have more Power Levels than Colonel Badass but star ranks are for pen-pushers and quill-drivers. That's why the colonel always wins (unless you have a Four-Star Badass lurking around). The fact that an Army, Marine, or Air Force colonel and a Navy captain are technically the same rank may also have something to do with it, or it may just be coincidental.

This man is a professional, Married to the Job, and mission accomplishment is the entire purpose of his existence. He tends to be fairly young for a colonel, likely because he climbed the ranks rapidly after an outstanding performance in an earlier war or campaign as junior officer. When he's got full command of hundreds or thousands of troops, chances are he won't do much fighting himself on a day to day basis, because he's too busy managing the battlefield with a level of competence that prevents the enemy from ever gaining the initiative in the first place. If it ever comes down to it, though, his personal weapon will likely be a high caliber handgun — and while it won't be drawn often, it'll rarely miss when it is. Many have tried to kill this man, many of them extremely deadly in their own right, all of them have failed.

He won't break down over losses, but neither will he throw his men's lives away. If a General Ripper is his immediate superior, the two will almost certainly clash in styles, because not only is Colonel Badass a better leader but he's also more sane, more pragmatic, far more imaginative, doesn't give a crap about political concerns and values ability/utility wherever he finds it. In fact, chances are as good as not he rose from nothing himself, especially if the organization he's a part of doesn't usually encourage that sort of thing. He's an unstoppable force and an immovable object. He's loyalty incarnate, the best friend anyone can have; but he's also the embodiment of vengeance, and if you screw him over, your life is forfeit. Even if he dies he lives on as an ideal.

He is commonly an Officer and a Gentleman... or at least, tries to be one, as long as it doesn't hinder his badassness because this man does not suffer fools. His Evil Counterpart is the Colonel Kilgore.

For any Commonwealth Tropers out there this trope also counts for badass Wing commanders and Group captains as well. On the international stage, it applies to any badass with an equivalent NATO officer rank code of OF-4 or OF-5.

A universal trope, just like Colonel is a universal rank (Lieutenant Colonels are included, as are full commanders, the naval rank equivalent to Lieutenant Colonels in most western militaries). A subtrope of Rank Scales with Asskicking. In terms of Authority Tropes, Majorly Awesome and Commanding Coolness are just a notch lower while The Captain is its equal in naval terms, while the next step up is Four-Star Badass.


Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Board Games 
  • Colonel Mustard from Clue: he's either a murderer or among a group of people who caught one. Then there is his Manly Facial Hair.

    Comic Books 
  • Col. Abernathy, a.k.a. Hawk, in G.I. Joe. After the first couple years of the comic he gets promoted to General and Duke takes over as tactical commander of the team, but he still gets into action on occasion.
  • Col. Nick Fury in the Marvel Universe. His badassery is compounded in the Ultimate Marvel universe and the Iron Man film due to his portrayal by Samuel L. Jackson.
    • Somewhat averted in the Ultimate Marvel universe though, as he's actually a four-star general there (or started out that way, anyhow), which would be much more realistic for the commander-in-chief of a multinational paramilitary espionage organization. Either way, it doesn't make him any less badass.
      • He starts as a colonel (that does not look like Samuel L. Jackson) by the end of his first appearance he's promoted as the head of Shield, and he's a 4-star general by his next appearance.
      • Of course "Colonel" isn't a rank in 616's SHIELD in the first place. His rank is a legacy from his service in the American military before leaving for SHIELD.
  • Also Marvel, James Rhodes (War Machine, and sometimes Iron Man), is an Air Force Lt. Colonel in Ultimate Marvel and the movies.
  • Col. Jennifer Sparks of The Authority. Technically, she did fight in WWII, against Sliding Albion and uses her rank and status in the British Army Intelligence to make them do what she wants.
  • Wonder Woman: Etta's gotten this treatment in several continuities:
  • The most dangerous hitman in Sin City, and the head of the foremost Murder, Inc. organisation, is a man known only as 'The Colonel'.
  • Buck Danny has been a colonel for years now despite having been a pilot ever since the 1940s (blame Comic-Book Time for that one), pretty much so he can still be allowed to fly.
  • During the "War In the Sun" arc of Preacher, Herr Starr uses his contacts in the American Military to grant him a battalion of soldiers to hunt down Jesse in the American Southwest. When Starr makes one too many dismissive comments towards the battalion's commander, said commander makes it clear that he could care less what connections or position Starr has and threatens to personally cut out Starr's liver and fry it if even one soldier is harmed.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Colonel Diane Foster gets to demonstrate herself to be this again like in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), providing this quote whilst she and the G-Team combat the Many:
    "I think I speak for everyone when I say none of us will sleep at night unless we see to it this zombie apocalypse horseshit is very definitely, permanently, finally burned to ashes, and then we burn the ashes!"
  • In the 'Daria' Fanfic series 'Legion of Lawndale Heroes', there are two Colonel Badass types - Colonel Kyle Armalin, and Colonel Franklin Davers. The latter's an Army Special Forces type, the former a Marine aviator with a LOT of covert paramilitary experience from shooting things all over the world. Just to cement his badass cred, first look at the first initials of his full name - Kyleton Isaiah Armalin... and then, also consider that he was given his middle name in honor of Isaiah Bradley - the FIRST Captain America, and an 'old-school' badass if EVER there was one.
  • Colonel Nick Parker may be "retired", but that doesn't stop him from organizing and waging a guerrilla war inside of twenty-four hours of the Nod invasion, which comes complete with hunting down and destroying Avatar warmechs, blowing up a Nod general using his own artillery, and recapturing the White House. There's a reason he's called "Havoc."
  • Played straight in Immortality Protocol Cy Fox by Dr. Robotnik's father.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Angus Beckett is this in the Robotech fanfic Scoop. Later, due to the wear and tear flying Valkyries does to his body, he becomes a Desk Jockey, and is still one when he appears as a lieutenant general in Dire Straits
  • Lieutenant Colonel Lupon Kravshera is this in the Robotech fanfic Dire Straits
  • In the Narnia fanfic King Edmund's Crusade the Colonels are not only the badass fighters of the armies but also the field commanders and the leaders of the elite bodyguard units. The senior commanders (below the Four Pevensie Monarchs themselves) are the Marshals - but two of them are explicitly more administrators than fighters. Col Elikolani (a sarcastic, flirtatious black panther) is a brutal fighter far more suited for war than Marshal Altaica (a rather effeminate and cowardly tiger). Marshal Nicodemus of the wolves is no slouch, but Col Rapine is a walking legend.
  • The Judge Dredd fanfic Aegis has Wing Commander Nicolai "Nick" Betancourt. Although he doesn't do anything particularly badass in the story, he is tapped to fly an experimental Justice Department combined platform of a hypersonic air superiority fighter and giant airship. Given the resources the Judges are throwing at this mission, he has to be the best pilot available. Later stories begin to reveal his background as a particularly famous pilot and commander and "the Hero of Pingpongyang".
  • Suzumiya Haruhi no Yaku-Asobi has Colonel Harriet Isuzu, an alternate Haruhi who works for a multi-dimensional paramilitary law enforcement agency that monitors sliding. Possible subversion in that soldiers from her home dimension's military look down on said agency and thus smugly refer to her as "agent". Her rival from the intelligence department, Colonel Sascha Sakisa also counts, being quite The Trickster.

  • Elite Agent Rotor in Dino Attack RPG. In addition to taking command whenever the team takes to the skies, he also happens to be an Ace Pilot, has a taste for classical music, and let's just say you don't want to be on the wrong side when you start hearing that classical music. His second-in-command Elite Agent Cabin is quite tough as well.
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, Nobuo Iwasaki and Samachi Nomura are very competent colonels although the former doesn't show it unless he's forced to act.
  • Standartenführer Rhianna von Adolph from Open Blue is a constantly smiling knife nut who is in charge of the special operations division of Sirene's intelligence agency. She is also The Captain of two ships.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Rifts has Col. Buck Murphy, a hotshot SAMAS (flying Powered Armor) Pilot who has an impressive combat record, and is A Father to His Men.
  • In order to make it to colonel in the Imperial Guard of Warhammer 40,000, hefty portions of this trope are required.
    • Colonel "Iron Hand" Straken, Commander of the 2nd Catachan Infantry Regiment. He was badass enough to begin with, being from the Death World of Catachan, known for producing some of the toughest soldiers in the Imperium. Then he was attacked by a Miral land shark that tore off his arm. Instead of dying like a lesser man would, he killed the beast with his "fang"-pattern combat knife and walked 30 miles to safety(some sources claim he tore the beast's throat out with his teeth, but that may be exaggeration). He then had his arm replaced with a bionic one and continued commanding his men. Since then he's survived multiple life-threatening injuries and his body is riddled with bionics, making him as much a machine as a man. He's as tough as a space marine and can destroy tanks with his bare hands (mechanical hands, but still, that's impressive).
      • And all this goes Quintuple for Space Marines, whose equivalent, Captain, is fully capable of going face-to-face with a genetically engineered, 18 foot-tall alien killing machine and winning.
      • And their equivalent among the Grey Knights, who are designed to eat thirty-foot suspiciously-balrog-like incarnations of the Chaos God of slaughter for lunch. Though until the Daemonhunters codex is updated, this is an example of Gameplay and Story Segregation as GK Brother-Captains technically have a Weapon Skill of 5 vs. 6 for normal SM Captains.
      • The Canonesses, leaders of the Sisters of Battle, arguably one-up the Space Marine captains because they do the same things — only they aren't genetically modified, hormonally modified, chemically modified, all-powerful superhumans... they're just biologically ordinary humans (one of the weakest races in the galaxy) females who happen to be that damn good essentially through skill alone.
    • The Tau Empire's Shas'o (lit. "Commander") are this to a man (or woman). Even ignoring the named characters such as Farsight or Shadowsun, the rank structure of the Tau requires every Fire Caste soldier begin as a lowly shas'la. After four years of service, they earn the right to take on a Trial of Fire which, depending upon their sept, may be a live-action training mission of some description, a highly realistic simulation, or a real-life mission of vital importance. If the soldier is successful, he graduates to shas'ui (sergeant). After another four years, and another, more difficult Trial of Fire, he may attain the rank of shas'vre (lieutenant); then another four years of service and another Trial to become a shas'el or "sub-commander". Shas'el may lead Hunter Cadres, but to become shas'o he has to complete the cycle one more time. Every single shas'o has at minimum 16 years experience, in everything from footslogging to battlesuit combat; he has passed four of the nastiest, most realistic tests his superiors can imagine; he is equipped with a Crisis battlesuit and the best technology the Empire can provide; and as if that isn't enough he is accompanied by a squad of handpicked shas'vre.
  • In BattleTech, this is one of the requirement for a Star Colonel in the Clans, in which they have plenty fighting experiences, or they take it by Trial of Position from another Star Colonel.
  • In the wargame The 20th Maine (later renamed ''Little Round Top''), each of the regimental commanders (a colonel) is represented by a named piece. While they are present primarily for command and control rules, the highest ratings go to Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of the 20th Maine (see under Real Life).
  • In Squad Leader and Advanced Squad Leader the leaders with the highest morale and biggest bonus to various die/dice rolls (10 -3) are given the rank of colonel. A few historical leaders who were not colonels at the time also get these ratings.

    Web Comics 
  • Zephyr Crow of The Wandering Ones Definitely qualifies for this trope; she is faster and stronger than the Special Forces men she trains, and before that, she and her husband single-handedly killed the leaders of over 35 Kilabyker gangs.
  • Air Force Blues: Col Alvis "Minnie" Gunnar and Lt. Col. Mike "Deadlock" Rowland.
  • Commander Badass of Manly Guys Doing Manly Things was literally created by the space future military to be this, hence the name.
  • Maxima of Grrl Power is a Colonel in the US Air Force, Arc-SWAT's field commander, and the strongest (heroic) superhuman in the setting.

    Web Original 
  • Tech Infantry has Colonel Arthur Clarke, commanding officer of the Raptors, an elite military unit tasked with chasing down and arresting (or killing) draft-dodging Werewolves and Mages, as well as other secret operations. His successor, Colonel Andrea Treschi, is quite the badass himself.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Lt. J.T. Marsh in Exo Squad gets promoted to Wing Commander around the time he becomes acknowledged as the single best Ace Pilot of the Solar System. Wg.Cdr. is the air force equivalent of infantry's Lt.Col.
  • King of the Hill's Cotton Hill. The guy took fiddy bullets to the back while lost at sea, managed to survive an ambush by an island full of Japanese troops, then proceeded to kill all of them with a piece of one of his deceased friends even though both his shins were blown off by machine-gun fire; thus completes his famous deed of having killed fiddy men during WWII.
    • The time he took out a Japanese machine-gun nest by hiding in a barrel of sake, holding his breath until the guards got drunk, then leaping out and 'hibachi-ing' the entire group by blowing sake out over his zippo.
    • Cotton is more of a subversion. True, he lost his shins, but his story...just doesn't add up. He mentioned Fatty was killed by sharks...yet he then mentions he used Fatty to beat the life out of the Japanese. Also, he claims to have fought in both Munich and Okinawa in just mere days of each other. He's more a Small Name, Big Ego than anything.
      • As Hank pointed out to Peggy, even though Cotton is fond of exaggerating his accomplishments he is still the greatest war hero Arlen had ever seen. Cotton was awarded a Medal of Honor, after all, and we know he was in the 77th Division which fought in Guam, Okinawa and the Philippines, all of which have been cited by Cotton as locations he fought at.
      • All that needs to be said: When he came back from the war, his shins were gone. Colonel Badass through and through.
  • StarCom: The U.S. Space Force: Dash, Slim, and Crowbar are all colonels, and they're all pretty badass, but it's actually subverted because this trope is more about being a badass commander, while the main trio are rarely seen commanding lower-ranked personnel.
  • Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales: If any of Commander McBragg's tales are true (which is highly debatable), he would definitely qualify.
  • Just about all of the Clone Commanders in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but perhaps with emphasis on Captain CT-7567 'Rex', especially since he would go on to become an officer in the Phoenix Squadron Rebel Cell for The Rebel Alliance.
  • Colonel K, the superior to Danger Mouse, has many accomplishments to his credit (piano throwing, climbing Mt. Everest on a pogo stick, etc.), and his mission orders are ironclad. It gets subverted sometimes as he can be as addled as DM's assistant Penfold.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Commander Badass


Man of Steel - Colonel Badass

Colonel Hardy. When he comes up against Faora, he starts in a helicopter. She crashes it. He then crawls out of the wreckage and empties two guns into her (after watching her effortlessly annihilate his men). When he clicks dry without their having the slightest effect, he pulls out a knife. She's impressed enough to let him get into a fighting stance, pass on some Kryptonian wisdom, and draw her own knife instead of just walking all over him.

How well does it match the trope?

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