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Colonel Kilgore

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"You call it hell, I call it home."

"Smell that? You smell that? Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn't find one of 'em, not one stinkin' dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like... victory."
Lietuenant Colonel Kilgore, Apocalypse Now

War can often be an awful experience to live through, but seemingly not for everyone. In most if not all war movies, there's an officer who seems to actually enjoy the war. He runs into battle with a smile on his face and seems sad that the war has to end someday.

Named after Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore in Apocalypse Now, though you'd be forgiven for thinking it's a pun on "Kill-Gore" we made.

This trope is the intersection of Blood Knight with Colonel Badass. Not necessarily The Neidermeyer (who is hated by his subordinates), and usually not a General Ripper (who's paranoid and crazy), nor a Sociopathic Soldier (who doesn't necessarily enjoy war, but does love killing folks). Not necessarily mean to the troops or totally obsessed, just someone who enjoys the war a bit too much. They also tend to be very good at combat and more often than not may be on the thick of the carnage himself. Any commanding officer from a Proud Warrior Race will automatically be this trope; just expect the words "honor in battle" to be thrown around a lot more. See also It Amused Me and Blood Knight.

Superior of Drill Sergeant Nasty.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Several examples in the Gundam universe:
    • A less villainous example would be the original Mobile Suit Gundam's Ramba Ral. He's a pretty nice guy who none the less seems to genuinely enjoy fighting. The point is driven home quite nicely in the novelization, where instead of a soldier he's a secret service agent & bodyguard to Zeon dictator Gihren Zabi, a job he finds no pleasure in & which causes problems in his relationship with his love interest, Hamon.
    • Rakan Dahkaran, a Neo-Zeon Ace Pilot and mobile suit commander in Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, who shows what happens when a Sociopathic Soldier and Blood Knight gets promoted to command rank.
    • Played with in the character of Colonel Ulube Ishikawa from Mobile Fighter G Gundam. He spends the first 45 episodes of the show as a Reasonable Authority Figure before the reveal that he was one of these all along and was just quietly biding his time for his own chance to seize the Devil Gundam.
  • Major Solf Kimblee of Fullmetal Alchemist was one of these during the Ishvallan war. In a campaign in which nearly everyone else is demoralized and guilt-stricken by the atrocities they are committing, Kimblee happily does his job and speaks about loving the sound of screaming and the atmosphere of the battlefield. The Silver Alchemist, Major Giolio Comanche, was another example, entering battle with a Slasher Smile on his face.

    Comic Books 
  • The Punisher
    • In Garth Ennis' run, especially in the miniseries The Punisher: Born, Frank Castle is said to enjoy violence. In Born, Castle tricks a general threatening to close down his firebase into standing in a sniper's view, is said by the narrator to be in love with combat, and apparently "talked" to with a supernatural force which claims that Castle wants battle and urges him to take a deal that will make his war last forever. When everything's falling apart and the castle is surrounded by VC, he agrees to the deal. Only afterwards is it revealed that the price of survival and continuing war is his family.
    • Marvel Knights flat out portrays Castle monologuing how he wanted Vietnam to last forever.
  • Fury (MAX), also by Ennis, has Col. Rudi Gagarin. He loves war, to an almost disturbing degree. Fury himself is close to this, but tries to keep his eyes on fighting a war that will win a peace, rather than just fight them for the sake of it.
  • Fury: My War Gone By, also by Ennis (noticing a pattern here?) has Fury and Castle team up to locate and destroy evidence that the CIA is using the war to hide their drug-running operations. The specific moment is when Fury mentions to Castle that the information breaking out could put an end to the war. The reader, of course, will understand Frank's real motivation (this is the mission that led to him making captain on Fury's recommendation). Note that Fury slowly grows out of the mindset (the entire comic is about him recounting his post-World War II experience and how it completely destroyed him to see everything he'd done was All for Nothing (and subverting the hell out of the Elites Are More Glamorous trope).
  • G.I. Joe's drill instructor, Sgt. Slaughter fits this trope to a tee.
  • Superman: If Zod is a classic General Ripper, his wife and Number Two (be it Ursa Post-Crisis, or Faora in the New 52) is usually portrayed as a bloodthirsty combat junkie looking to mix it up at close range. Post-Crisis she even carried a Kryptonite knife for use on her fellow Kryptonians.
  • The paranoid Colonel Bulldog Hannigan in The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #3, who delivers this speech to the imprisoned Indy (the story is set in 1936):
    "You talk to me about evidence! Listen, boy...The winds of war will soon sweep the world. The blood of youth will be spilled into the earth and whole nations will be wracked with horrible violence—and I'm going to love every minute of it!"
  • Ultimate X-Men: Wraith enjoys capturing and enslaving mutants, and abusing of them when they are captives, a little bit too much.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • Shan Yu, leader of the invading Hun army of Mulan.
    Shan Yu: This doll came from a village in the Tung Show Pass, where the Imperial Army is waiting.
    Hun Archer: We can avoid them easily.
    Shan Yu: No. The quickest way to the emperor is through that pass. Besides, the little girl will be missing her doll. We should return it to her.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Colonel Miles Quaritch in Avatar. It helps that Kilgore was one of the inspirations for the character, right down to the coffee-drinking in the middle of an airstrike. While he loves his battle, he is also appreciative of his soldiers and it's his reason why he wants to escalate the conflict since his men get killed.
  • Battle of the Bulge has the fanatical Colonel Hessler: after disabusing his driver of the idea that the Ardennes offensive will allow Germany to win the war:
    Conrad: "I don't understand. If we have not won, and we have not lost, then what is happening?"
    Hessler: "The best thing possible is happening. The war will go on!"
  • Cadet Colonel Brett C. Shelton from Child's Play 3 is a budding teenage Kilgore, being aptly described by his superior Colonel Cochran as having "an excess of zeal" when it comes to his duty, and all things military for that matter.
  • In Crimson Tide during an early dinner table conversation, Captain Ramsey is obviously enamoured with the glory of war and destroying the enemy in the line of duty.
  • General Turgidson from Dr. Strangelove both hates the Commies and anticipates the war he is supposed to help prevent with the glee of a five-year-old playing with army men.
  • General Gore from Friend of the World is a paranoid, apocalypse soluting madman who claims "they caused exactly what they tried to prevent," referring to a war treaty.
  • Peacekeeper Commander Thread in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Already one in the book, here he starts the crackdown in District 12 by shooting his pistol into the air.
  • Sergeant First Class William James of The Hurt Locker - though he gets his fun primarily from disarming bombs. Hunting terrorists will do, though.
  • The titular Basterds from Inglourious Basterds, especially Staff Sergeant Donny Donowitz.
  • Much of the cast of Jarhead are young men raised on war movies who joined the Marines to get the opportunity to fight on the battlefield for real. Unfortunately, the war in question is The Gulf War, aka the 100-Hour War. Many of them are utterly heartbroken when the war ends that soon, with Swofford firing his gun into the air just because he didn't get the chance to shoot at enemy soldiers when the war was actually going on.
  • Staff Sergeant Bob Barnes from Platoon is this to the point of being a Psycho for Hire.
  • In Utu (1983), the British Colonel (Tim Elliot) caused the Maori rebellion by massacring allied tribes. He takes the credit for the successful defence of the stockade and personally leads a squad in pursuit of Anzac Wallace's character. His way of identifying an enemy sympathiser was to kill the suspect and count the number of flies that landed on the corpse.
  • Played with in 1917 with Colonel MacKenzie, who's foreshadowed as a glory-hound who might launch a futile attack despite direct orders not to. One officer even invokes it: "When you do get to Colonel MacKenzie, make sure there are witnesses [...] Some men just want the fight." MacKenzie looks every bit the part when we meet him: he's calmly directing an attack from a flimsy dugout on the front line, appears unfazed by the withering enemy bombardment, and even sports a small but noticeable scar under his left eye. It indeed takes some haranguing to make him even look at General Erinmore's letter canceling the attack, there are witnesses, and he's clearly bitter when he tells Major Hepburn to stand the regiment down. But when he privately complains afterwards, he sounds like he hates the war, blames indecisive leadership for prolonging it, and had hoped that one aggressive push might hasten its end.

  • In Rick Cook's Limbo System, Major De Lorenzo. His paranoia does manage to save the ship, though he has to be killed to prevent his blowing it up.
  • In Kim Newman's The Hound Of The D Urbervilles, narrator and Villain Protagonist Colonel Sebastian "Basher" Moran was this, a talented soldier and fairly smart man who also has very few morals, he basically just enjoyed killing people and after being mauled during a tiger hunt, he's sent back to England and basically forced out of the army. He's a classic Blood Knight who takes to murder for hire quite well once he starts working for Professor Moriarty.
  • Lieutenant Sayle of The Drowned Cities is a Sociopathic Soldier who loves the ongoing warfare because it gives him the chance to hurt people. He constantly drives his men into more and more dangerous missions, promising victory, while seeking only further violence.
  • In his long military career, Flashman serves under different commanders that fit every military trope on the site, but he singles out service with the Colonel Kilgore types as the most stressful and dangerous. This is mainly due to the fact that Flashman himself has an undeserved reputation as a Kilgore, and real ones immediately assume he's a kindred spirit.
  • The Folk of the Air: Madoc is the king's most trusted general and adores war and the thrill of battle. He seeks to start them all over Elfhame and plunge the region into conflict.
  • Colonel Prentice, from The Last Kashmiri Rose made his name on the Pathan border, doing counter-raids and reprisals. He had entirely adopted the Pathan Proud Warrior Race ethos.
  • Just about every Calvarian officer depicted in The Reynard Cycle is prone to this, but Drauglir is a particularly good example. Given that Calvarian society is essentially one large armed camp, this is not surprising.
    • Ironically, the one Calvarian general who orders the sadistic torture of the civilian population in order to draw Reynard into a fight with him is depicted as being the sort of man who would far rather be home with his sweetheart, drinking a cup of tea.
  • In the McAuslan series, George MacDonald Fraser's Author Avatar, Lieutenant Dand McNeill, has a milder and more thoughtful version of this. Offered the chance of turning his war-service only commission into a regular Army career, he seriously considers this but turns it down out of an aversion to peacetime service. His stated reason is that the British Army in wartime was worthwhile because the ceremonial, spit and polish and general bullshit aspects were set aside as things nobody had that much time or inclination for. What he describes as the relaxed, happy-go-lucky attitude of wartime service was disappearing fast, as the generation of war-service-only officers he felt a kinship with were demobilising, leaving only the more austere "Sandhurst-and-by-the-book" types who would manage an Army in peacetime. He compares the two Colonels, the outgoing villainous type who led the regiment by his own rules in war and immediately afterwards, against the stiffer, more formal, new man who would manage it in peacetime. Then decides the Army is no longer for him and tears up the application forms.

    Live-Action TV 
  • While the supreme commander of the Minbari Warrior Caste in Babylon 5 is a bit of a buffoon, his second in command Neroon is a clear example of the trope. He becomes one of the most important secondary characters and one you easily come to Love to Hate. He doesn't fight for his entertainment, but war is his whole existence and purpose.
  • In Band of Brothers, Lt. Speirs is a heroic example. He immediately earns an imposing reputation for fearlessness in battle, brutality towards German POWs, and allegedly executing of his own NC Os for drunken insubordination. Each story is exaggeratednote , but Speirs welcomes his reputation and lets the stories get wilder with each retelling, and tops it off with some very unnerving mannerisms. He's a genuinely good leader when he's given command of Easy, he cares about his men in his way, and he doesn't seek pointless fights, but he's by far the character who seems the most comfortable on the battlefield.
  • In the BBC series Clone, Colonel Black (Mark Gatiss) casually kills all the subordinates who he feels have failed him and openly enjoys torturing prisoners, especially Ian.
  • M*A*S*H had several of these. Anyone above the rank of major (except for Colonel Potter (and Lt. Col. Blake), possibly the Only Sane Man among the upper brass) was kill-happy and wanted nothing more than to increase his kill count.
  • Colonel Valin Hess from The Mandalorian, an Imperial commander with a fanatical belief in the Empire, a borderline nihilistic view of democracy, an unhealthy enjoyment of violence, and a downright terrifying disregard for the lives of his troops. Former sharpshooter Mayfeld once served under him and describes — with palatable horror — how Hess once personally ordered the murder of an entire city of civilians and regularly sent units (including Mayfeld's own) into meat-grinder battles that ended with most or all of the troops dead. When confronted with this, Hess isn't just unmoved, he's proud and even brags about his intentions to perform even grander atrocities against the New Republic despite the war being over. Unsurprisingly, that's all the push it takes for Mayfeld to snap and shoot Hess dead.

  • Elite Agent Rotor in Dino Attack RPG serves this role, with the bonus of also being an Ace Pilot. The Kilgore components of his character are especially evident in the scenes where he casually listens to classical music... provided he hasn't hooked it up to the speakers of his helicopter and started blaring it across the battlefield while blowing the living daylights out of his enemies. He even got to form a Battle Couple of sorts with fellow pilot Cabin. Atton Rand actually took a great deal of inspiration from Kilgore himself, initially from the infamous "Ride of the Valkyries" scene alone (this being before he actually saw the full movie), and if that weren't obvious enough Rotor becomes best friends with a surfer named Lance Williams.
    • Granted, this is probably what Rotor is at his best. At worst he's a Sociopathic Soldier (his controversial Kangaroo Court and the fact that he got away scot-free with torturing a child while the guy that actually tried to make up for it took the blame certainly didn't help).
    • It does also make for a rather bleak fate for him after the war finally ends, as Rotor is left unable to adjust to a mundane lifestyle and his relationship with his girlfriend quickly spirals downhill (the fact that she has PTSD from the same war certainly doesn't help). It would hardly be a surprise if he was Driven to Suicide.
    • Also to a lesser extent Agent Ronald "Soldier" E. Army", but nobody takes him as seriously.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Orks live for war. Every Warboss gleefully charges into the fray without a second thought (or a first), followed by countless more Orks with their choppas and gunz regardless of whether they win or lose. And seeing as they release a cloud of spores on death that will mature into even more orks, losing isn't even an option. The only thing keeping them from taking over the galaxy is that they keep fighting each other.
    • It makes them bigger and stronger. That's also how their societal hierarchy works - the bigger you are, the more fights you've walked away from. Their currency is "teef", and it's fortunate that they make shark orthodonture look tame.
    • Any Eldar Exarch has been lost on an Aspect Path is this - doubly so, because that's what distinguishes squad leaders. Their battle commanders ("Autarchs") are Eldar who went down an Aspect Path, had the raw willpower to claw their own way back into what we would consider sanity... and then rinse and repeat.
    • "BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD! SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE!" That's the warcry of the followers of Khorne the Blood God, the Chaos god of war. Much like orks, they don't really care if they win or lose, as all blood spilled in battle goes to Khorne, and his skull throne is made of the skulls of worthy warriors (regardless of original allegiance).
    • The Imperium has Warmaster Macharius, the only thing in his mind is war, and more worlds to conquer when he thought he couldn't conquer any more worlds he would fall to his knees and weep. Fortunately (for this trope and for players) the grim and dark 41st millenium is in no danger of peace.
      • It also helps that he was directly and blatantly based off of Alexander the Great: he didn't run out of worlds to conquer, he wanted to push into the outer fringes of the galaxy, past the range of the Astronomican (where his Navigators couldn't guide his ships). His officers outright refused to continue. Subsequent books make it clearer that he was actually assassinated before it could get that far, which had a huge downside: if he had brought his troops back along the way he came, he might have been able to prevent a war breaking out, but because he died so suddenly, his supporters turned on each other.
    • The Istvaanian Inquisition faction takes a more philosophical approach to the "war-obsessed wingnut" archetype, believing that the Imperium attains its greatest strength in times of conflict and thus seeking more conflicts for it to attain strength in. The Imperium is in like four separate Forever Wars that keep messily crashing into each other and the Istvaanians think that's not enough war.
  • The entirety of Khador in Iron Kingdoms. Being patriotic in the extreme they see it as their duty to fight for their country. National hero Kovnik Jozef Gregrigorvich considering any day he does not spend fighting an enemy of his country to have been wasted.

  • Richard III: Richard of Gloucester demonstrates this in his opening speech, when he laments "these weak-piping times" (that is, peacetime). Ian McKellen hits it home a little more closely in the 1995 movie version, in which he delivers "Now is the winter of our discontent" as a celebratory speech, but says what he really feels in private. All of Richard's actions can be interpreted as those of a man who misses the battlefield and is whipping up a war of his own.

    Video Games 
  • Most of the Team Fortress 2 characters probably count for this. The Soldier continued fighting in World War II until 1948 because he didn't realize it had ended and was enjoying killing Nazis too much. By Nazis, we mean normal Germans—considering where he first arrived (Poland), maybe not even that close.
    • The Sniper and the Spy kill because that's their job, though they do enjoy it a fair amount. The Heavy loves "Sasha", his minigun more than life itself, and certainly more than the lives that are taken by it. The Medic needs a constant supply of wounded men to "practice medicine" on. The Engineer fights For Science! and what better way to test-run his turrets than with live targets? The Scout is just super-aggressive (and feels he has something to prove, being the youngest of nine children). The Pyro is quite literally insane, and seems to honestly think he/she is spreading happiness and rainbows rather than horrible burning death. The Demoman comes from a long line of proud explosives experts, and his skill with grenades and swords is almost In the Blood.
  • According to his bio, Bill in Left 4 Dead. He's overall a good guy, but suffered from aimlessness and general resentment of his retired life until the Zombie Apocalypse hit, at which point he became the de facto leader of a group of survivors with no military training and helped them become badass.
  • Metal Gear is full of these guys, some of them mercenaries, others black-ops — and even plain military. Revolver Ocelot is a former Spetnaz who is said to have grown disgusted with Soviet bureaucracy and gone freelance, where he was able to torture and maim without having to worry about red tape.
    • Colonel Volgin in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. He's a transparent lunatic and wannabe warlord, but he's also an efficient spymaster. Also, he's so scary that soldiers think twice about deserting.
    • Big Boss himself is arguably an example of this trope. He decides that he only feels truly alive when he has a gun in his hand and he has someone to shoot at, and so he creates his own Private Military Company where he can make a profit out of war and participate in any conflict he chooses without restrictions from military officials. The arguable part is that despite being a warrior Big Boss still has morals and doesn't fight simply because he can, he won't take missions that he views as corrupt.
  • Colonel Cobar of Killzone, whose love of war is second only to his loyalty to General Metrac. Also Colonel Radec, whose badassery goes other places as well.
  • The Hellscream lineage in Warcraft. Grom Hellscream drank demonic blood twice to defeat a powerful foe and skirmished with enemy forces even against direct orders. His son Garrosh may be even worse; he's fought Thrall for leadership of the Horde, goads King Wrynn into a fight whenever he can such as during a diplomatic meeting about an old god getting loose, and invades the Night Elf lands in the middle of the apocalypse.
  • Referenced as a weapon in Bayonetta, a pair of twin Rocket Launchers are named Lt. Col. Kilgore and are stated to have the Colonel's soul put inside them.
  • Call of Duty: World at War has Sgt Reznov, who ruthlessly kills as many Germans in his path. He may have done it for two reasons, 1) revenge and 2) spare then from being sent into prison camps.

    Web Animation 
  • Parodied in Red vs. Blue with Sarge, leader of the Red team. So strongly does he believe in Red Army propaganda, that Grif has come to realise that if Sarge ever claims to have bad news, chances are it's going to be something good like: "Looks like those peace treaties are making progress."
    • Sarge isn't even good to his own men, with his primary strategies being suicide runs even when not necessary, and what little favor he finds in them is largely based on who's kissing up best. Thankfully, Character Development from Season 8 onward tempers him into more of A Father to His Men...or at least one less willing to shoot them.
  • Gaming All-Stars: Mael Radec, the primary antagonist of Remastered, who certainly doesn’t have a problem murdering Razorbeard and Eggman once everything goes his way.
    • Also, General Scales, the leader of the Sharpclaw army in 2. Though unlike Radec, Scales is a one-off enemy, only showing up in the episode “Dino Crisis.”

    Real Life 
  • Even though Adolf Hitler never reached the rank of colonel in the German army, this trope resumes his idea of war, hence the persecution of pacifists in Nazi Germany and World War II. Although, having been gassed in the First World War it might be safe to say he didn't so much enjoy fighting so much as he enjoyed being a xenophobic power-crazed megalomaniac with sharing issues.
  • General George S. Patton. Perhaps somewhat appropriately, he died in an accident shortly after the war ended. The movie played it up.
  • A certain Company Commander in the US Army's 2d Stryker Cavalry Regiment said this to his four platoon leaders.
    "Last time I was in Iraq, I killed three men, with my own weapon. Fuckin shot 'em dead, killed 'em. I enjoyed that. I really did, man. Killing people is fuckin fun. You get this kinda bloodlust. It's hard to control sometimes."
  • Robert E. Lee is famously quoted as struggling with this:
    "It is well that war is so terrible — lest we should grow too fond of it."
    Cpl. Joshua Ray Person, The Killer Elite
  • Early 19th century Russian Romantic poet Mikhail Lermontov. Also known as "the Demon" (that's what Chechens called him), or "Lieutenant Death" to friends. By his own account, his affair with bloodshed was very much love at first sight; he cut out a Chechen highlander's heart in a flawless, artistic manner in his first battle during a Chechen rebellion that happened while he was exiled to the Russian military in the Caucasus, and never lost his love for war ever since. Hence his nicknames.
  • Major Douglas A. Zembiec was an officer in the United States Marine Corps during the Iraq War. In interviews, he stated that he enjoyed being in combat, and that part of the reason he stood in the Marines was to fight. He was also respected by his men as an effective and compassionate leader. He was killed on May 11, 2007, in a firefight with Iraqi insurgents in Baghdad; he was 34.
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Jack Churchill allegedly declared following VJ day that "If it wasn't for those damn Yanks, we could have kept the war going another 10 years!" Churchill is credited with causing the last known bow-and-arrow war casualty (shot a German sergeant with a barbed arrow from his longbow), walked back into German-held territory after capturing 42 German soldiers to retrieve his longsword, and charged a Norwegian beach from a landing craft while playing his bagpipes. His perspective on the war, like his perspective on virtually everything else, was . . . unique.
  • King Richard the Lionheart was more interested in going on crusades than being king. He would have sold England to fund his crusades if he could've found a buyer and preferred leading his knights into battle to ruling.
  • Genghis Khan was credited with the "What is best in life?" question and answer. Given his conquests, it seemed like he really liked his work.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Tom Kratman of Carrera's Legions fame often gives the impression he wanted to be one of these, except that he never got the chance because he was invalided out of the Army for a heart condition shortly before he was to get his first combat command.
  • Walter Cowan was a Royal Navy captain in the First World War. He spent his leave periods in the trenches and cried when the Armistice was announced. In the Second World War, though grossly overage, he lied about it to join the Army and was captured by the Italians while trying to attack a tank with his revolver. After being released back to the British out of mercy due to his advanced age, he tried (unsuccessfully, at last) to join the Commandos.


Video Example(s):


Colonel Hess

Mayfeld and Din sit down with Colonel Hess as Mayfeld asks what Hess thinks about Operation: Cinder and about the soldiers and civilians Hess had sent into the grinder.

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Example of:

Main / ColonelKilgore

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