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Commissar Cap

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Clockwise from top left: Muammar Gaddafi, Alphonse Simms, Ibram Gaunt, and M. Bison.

"It isn't the scarlet sash and the fancy hat that makes you a commissar, it's the way you wear them."
Ciaphas Cain note 

A subtrope of Bling of War. A large, high peaked cap similar to those worn by Banana Republic dictators. The Trope Namer is Warhammer 40,000, with Commissars wearing such caps.note  This headgear surely makes the wearer look badass in an authoritarian sense of the word. Sometimes decorated with elaborate silver or gold designs on the visor and/or the front of the crown, nicknamed "scrambled eggs" by military folks; the stereotypical Banana Republic leader's cap has so much of these that you can barely see the color of the actual cap underneath.

Sometimes, especially if the cap in question is black with silver piping, it's Putting on the Reich, as SS Nazi officers were also fond of them.

Sub-Trope to Dressed to Oppress. See also Bling of War. Often worn by The Generalissimo and sometimes The Political Officer. If a woman wears it, chances are she might be The Baroness, or just a dominatrix who has it on for show.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • In A Small Crime, the character Kit wears a black peaked cap.
  • In the Mass Effect fanfic series Uplifted, Hanala seems to enjoy stealing Hoch's cap. Rundstedt forces SS officer Joachim Hoch to give his hat to his granddaughter as a form of humiliation, telling him that he is not a real officer. Rommel seems to have a tendency to fiddle with his.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Frantic. Michelle wears one when she first meets the protagonist played by Harrison Ford, along with a black leather jacket.
  • Arkady Ourumov from GoldenEye, as he is an officer in the Russian military (and later, head of the Russian Space Division), wears one of these as part of his uniform.
  • In Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator, he lampoons Adolf Hitler and wears a wonderful Commissar Cap with an XX logo in place of the swastika.
  • In Lord of War many Red Army Ukrainian officers wear them.
  • One is part of the regalia of Paradorian President-For-Life Alphonse Simms in Moon over Parador. Richard Dreyfuss wears it with a jaunty tilt that makes it much less impressive.
  • General Magnus Kane of Princess Protection Program wore one. However, despite being a general who overthrew a Central American country, his cap has a double-headed Slavic eagle on the crest.
  • Seems to be part of the Star Fleet dress uniform in Star Trek Into Darkness. Particularly visible in the gathering at the end of the film.
  • Naboo guards in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace wear a stylized variant that has the band and visor made of brass.
  • M. Bison (played by Raúl Juliá) wears one in Street Fighter, and turns out to have a private hat rack with several variations on it next to the paintings of himself and such. To further stress the Putting on the Reich aspect, the metal Shadaloo symbol on the front looks rather eerily like a mix between the Nazi "Reichsadler" and the SS "Totenkopf" motif.

  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel His Last Command, when Ludd is sent to get troops to the battlefield, he loses his cap getting there — across the battlefield — and their first question for him when he said he was a commissar was to ask where his hat was. (He gets them to the battlefield anyway.)
  • Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!!!) wears one, and he does it with style, as page the quote states. Though in all honesty, he would really prefer a helmet.
  • In Honor Harrington, the Grayson Space Navy's uniforms seem to be modeled after the US Air Force, so naturally they have these, complete with gold oak leaves and lightning bolts. It's stated that they seem to weigh at least 3 kilograms and cause the title character to feel like "some comic-opera costumer's idea of a prespace military dictator".
    • The RMN also used to wear these back in Edward Saganami's time, but dropped them in favour of their current berets over a century ago.
  • Every Warhammer 40,000 book that contains a commissar will mention the cap from Steve Parker's Rebel Winter to Andy Hoare's appropriately named book Commissar.
  • Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy by Max Hastings. The author notes that South Vietnamese generals favoured this style of hat, and says that it did not help in the propaganda war.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The original pilot for Star Trek: The Original Series alluded to this; in Captain Pike's cabin, sitting on top of the captain's television set, is a forage cap. It's never seen in use, and was never seen in the Original Series (aside from a glimpse in the two-parter that made use of footage from the pilot.)
  • Illya Kuryakin donned one in an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.; appropriate for a former Soviet officer.
  • Several Soviet officers, many of them being actual commissars, wear them constantly in Soviet Storm: World War II in the East. In some cases, they also forego wearing helmets and continue wearing their caps into battle.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: Commissars' uniforms include a black peaked cap with a crown that comes to a very tall point in front and is usually decorated with a winged skull, which helps them stand out on a battlefield. This sometimes has a side effect of drawing extra attention from Orks in combat, as to an Ork, any 'umie that makes himself stand out from the others is likely to be higher ranked and thus more likely to give a good fight, and a Commissar's snazzy cap is a great trophy.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • In spite of a lot of the villain cast wearing SS uniforms, this trope is surprisingly rare in Dies Irae. The only character that is shown wearing this kind of hat regularly is Machina who is far from the authoritarian kind. Though it does help him give the kind of air that he is a man you do not mess with. The only other character ever shown with such an hat was the Big Bad Reinhard before he awoke to his true nature after which he ditched it and went bare headed instead. Other than that it only ever really shows up in supplementary materials, most notably on the main characters love interests out of all places.

  • Girl Genius: Bangladesh Dupree.
  • In Narbonic, Mell acquires one for a while when she takes over Madblood's moonbase.
  • S.S.D.D.: CORE officers are often shown wearing blue and red pointed caps (including Tessa in her first appearance). Anarchist "leaders" tend to prefer Shakos.
  • Romantically Apocalyptic: Zee Captain boasts such a hat.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: A Danish admiral and the personel on an Icelandic merchant ship, including its captain are seen wearing such caps.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle:
    • Rocky the Flying Squirrel would occasionally wear one while announcing a commercial break.
    • It was certainly a must for Fearless Leader.
  • The "Banana Republic" in DuckTales (1987) and Thembria in TaleSpin have people wearing these hats. Baloo wears one as well, albeit a less decorated one.

    Real Life 
  • Played straight in Real Life in the 1990s with Russians with Rusting Rockets and Russian cops. Unlike Reds with Rockets, they had these as part of uniform, though they were abolished in The New '10s, being replaced with smaller ones in the older Soviet style. Soviet officers did often have this kinds of caps as part of the dress uniform (hence the trope name), though Soviet caps were not quite as large as modern ones — it actually started in The '80s (duh!) as some sort of military chic, and the style eventually got popular with the brass in The New Russia, thus entering the regulations.
    • An overview of Soviet uniform caps may be found here, showing civilian and military caps from various decades, with different designs—the collector's photos are widely copied for other websites.
    • The '90s huge peaked caps were disliked among the Russian military, derisively known as "Pinochet caps". They were also a case of Sukhomlinov Effect, becoming larger and more fanciful as the Russian army weakened and grew underequipped and undertrained.
    • As of The New '10s, Russian military funding has risen again, and coincidentally, they have adopted smaller caps lacking the double-headed eagle of the Russian federation and looking similar to Soviet caps. The new Minister of Defence, Sergei Shoigu, brought his old EMERCOM hat, quite compact and soft, into Russian military fashion. However, nowadays peaked caps are actually only worn with dress and semi-dress uniforms in Russia. In the field, or even in garrison while in undress uniform, everyone wears either a patrol cap almost identical to the US version, or a beret (the color of which depends on the branch).
  • Across the world, this is a common feature of the uniform of high-ranking officers in the military and many civilian law-enforcement agencies in many Western nations have something like this as part of the uniform (or at least the dress uniform). In most of these cases, however, they tend to be smaller and a bit more modest than the stereotypical authoritarian model.
    • On the other hand, during the Cold War, the US Armed Forces had larger-crowned caps than their Soviet counterparts, for reasons similar to above: American caps have a large insignia on the crown, almost always some variation of the Great Seal of the United States (the familiar eagle badge), whereas Soviet caps almost always had a small, less obtrusive Soviet insignia on the band (American caps also typically have narrower bands). The American caps were almost certainly a major influence on the Russian Federation's placement of their own eagle on the crown of their new caps, and when the Russian military moved away from the American style, their caps shrunk accordingly.
    • The hat worn by Royal Air Force officers is nearly a subversion of the trope. Small and with horribly bent edges that sag downwards, it harks back to the time that all RAF officers were pilots and their hats were much abused, normally stuffed away in some pocket and thus scuffed and worn. In all other words, a mess, and in contrast to the hats worn by other ranks which are rather smart.
  • North Korea loves this trope to the bone.
  • Muammar Gaddafi had some of the fanciest.