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Frontline General

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Erwin Rommel gets up close and personal with the British in Africa.

"Look! There is Jackson standing like a stone wall. Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer. Rally behind the Virginians!"
General Barnard Bee at the First Battle of Manassas during The American Civil War.

A flag-ranked officer — though not necessarily a Four-Star Badass — who spends more time leading his men at the frontline battlefields like a junior/field officer does than sitting in the war room and working on theater-level strategic plans.

Depending on the setting or the branch of the military, this can be easily justified; a fleet of ships, or even a single larger ship such as a modern Supercarrier, will often be commanded by a Rear Admiral or higher. Pre-Radio Age armies would also be often directly commanded by generals on the field, too, to the point where it was almost common for generals to be killed in battle. In a modern land army, however, such a thing would be very unusual (excepting an officer taking a very short visit to scope out the terrain while planning a major offensive), and typically would only happen if the country gets invaded by complete surprise, and/or the enemy gets very deep very fast.

While seen as highly heroic, there are significant drawbacks to this, especially in modern settings. Battles hinge on minute-by-minute decision making and updates must be frequently provided to the general staff. If the general is on the front, he'll be moving around a lot and it will be more difficult to apprise him of the situation, not to mention him giving updated orders for those lower in the chain-of-command. This was less of a factor in earlier periods due to the difficulty of commanding troops engaged in battle, but as the range and power of weapons increased and communication faster than a man on a horse became widespread, it became not just feasible, but required. In the long run, the Confederacy during The American Civil War lost many good generals this way.

This can be justified in a Mildly Military organization, especially in the case of La Résistance, as the command infrastructure may not be deep enough and the crisis is too severe to not implement an "all hands on deck" situation.

In strategy games, they can take the form of hero units which sometimes represent the Player Character, thus averting the Non-Entity General trope in the process.

Contrast Armchair Military (a.k.a. "Chairborne Ranger" in US Army and Marine Corps lingo) and Soldiers at the Rear. See Outranking Your Job when this is taken too far. May overlap with Royals Who Actually Do Something in historical settings. Doing this increases the chance of a Keystone Army by a lot, and makes you an easier target if they want to go right after you. A Decapitated Army may result if the general dies. Often justified if Rank Scales with Asskicking, and might be a requirement of the position if Asskicking Leads to Leadership. Also, an Uriah Gambit is a not-so-uncommon reason to send a general into harm's way.

Compare The Main Characters Do Everything.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan:
  • In Bleach, Gotei 13 Captain-Commander Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto usually zig-zags this trope, only reluctantly getting involved in a fight when his subordinates can't handle it. This changes during the Thousand Year Blood War arc, where after obliterating the man responsible for the death of his lieutenant and right-hand man he jumps into the front lines and coldly declares to the enemy leader that he will annihilate them himself.
  • In Code Geass, this sums up Lelouch's view of how a leader should act, exemplified by how he always leads with his king piece when playing chess. "If the king does not lead, how can he expect his subordinates to follow?" "The only ones who should kill are those prepared to be killed!" He is often seen taking an active part in the military operations he commands, though he's usually smart enough to recognize his limits and not attempt something he cannot do.
  • Gundam:
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: Due to how Minovsky Particles work (messing up long-range communications), many high-ranking commanders had to be present on the battlefield.
      • General Revil, the Big Good of the Federation Forces, was captured in the backstory due to the Black Tri-Stars identifying his flagship and capturing his escape craft. Later still, he personally commanded the massive Federation fleet en route to A Baoa Qu... which was devastated when Gihren Zabi used the Solar Ray.
      • Each of the Zabi siblings was known to personally take to the field to varying degrees. While Kycillia normally commanded from her flagship, in the anime she once personally engaged the Gundam alongside her subordinate M'Quve. In the backstory, Dozle Zabi was known to sortie in a customised Zaku, and later met his death while pulling a You Shall Not Pass! while piloting the Big Zam. Garma Zabi was first introduced flying a customised Dopp fighter against the White Base, and later personally commanded a Gaw Attack Carrier in his final battle. Only Gihren, the Non-Action Big Bad, stayed out of the field until the Final Battle at A Baoa Qu, where he commanded from the heart of the fortress.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin: Admiral Tianem, while not an MS pilot, would often lead his sorties from his warship at the front. He was the primary enemy to the Zeon during the initial rebellion and was front and center for the battle at Loum. Even after their defeat at Loum, most of the major generals return to Jaburo to plan or Luna II, while he remained in space fighting with the Zeon soldiers occupying the Moon cities.
    • This is also what eventually resulted in Tianem's death in the original series, as he was leading the Federation Forces during the Battle of Solomon when Dozle Zabi launched a counterattack in the massive Mobile Armor Byg Zam that targeted the Federal fleet's warships.
    • Char Aznable, at least in Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack, takes to the front lines personally in most of the battles. Not out of any sense of loyalty or duty to his men, but simply because he's obsessed with defeating Amuro Ray personally. He does have the presence of mind to put his confidante/lover, Nanai Miguel, in overall battlefield command while he's out piloting, meaning the army is not completely without direction in his absence.
      • Played with in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam when (as Lieutenant Quattro Bajeena), he succeeded to leadership of the AEUG following the assassination of their original leader. He spent a bit more time off the field acting as a diplomat and rallying point, but during the final battle with the Titans, he sortied alongside the others in his Hyaku-Shiki. This was justified, as everyone recognised this was the big one and everyone who could fight was needed.
    • Commander Andrew Waltfeld of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED likes to lead his men from the front, and is happy to jump into his own mobile suit in order to square off against The Hero. This is to be expected, given that he's at least partly based on Erwin Rommel (see Real Life below).
  • In Naruto, the generals of the Allied Shinobi forces (Gaara, Kakashi, Darui, Akatsuchi) are this, as they join their forces directly on the battlefield. Understandable, given that those four were chosen for their battle prowess as well as their leadership ability. Arguably the Kages also count — though in their case the term Frontline President might be more accurate.
  • Justified in Legend of the Galactic Heroes: electromagnetic interference during battle makes communications difficult, so the admirals of both sides have to come close to the line of fire. As the firepower thrown around in the setting is high enough to cause heavy damage with every successful hit, they do so with larger and better armed and armoured dedicated flagships, and tend to stay as far from the enemy as they can afford.

    Comic Books 
  • In Oz (Caliber), Action Girl General Jinjur is always out with the rest of the Freedom Fighters of Oz; going sord to sword with the forces of evil.
  • Baron von Strucker in Marvel Comics, and especially in his early appearances in Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos. He was presented as a senior Nazi general, but not above leading his own Nazi special forces counter-insurgency group in battle against the title characters.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Star Wars: Republic: Separatist General Alto Stratus leads his men into battle regardless of how well-armed his enemies are and remains within walking distance of the battlefield to observe and coordinate things even after losing a leg.
    • Darth Vader :
      • In The Lost Command, Star Destroyer Captain Shale leaves his vessel on many occasions to go into combat at the head of a group of Storm Commandos and is also a Genius Bruiser when it comes to conceiving combat strategies and defeating enemies as part of those strategies.
      • In The Cry of Shadows, Separatist General turned rebel Atticus Farstar stands within artillery range while shouting encouragement to his men and helping lure enemy soldiers into a trap.

    Fan Works 
  • A Crown of Stars: Asuka and Shinji are the leaders of the Avalon forces deployed in their timeline. They and the other commanding officers -Misato, Ching, Bir...- take part in all battles, always taking point. Justified, since they are a relatively small force — due to be cut off — and Shinji and Asuka pilot one of their few Humongous Mechas... although Asuka would surely fight in the frontlines anyway, since she is a soldier and a warrior first of all.
  • Bait and Switch (STO):
    • Peace Forged in Fire has Romulan Republic High Admiral D'trel and Subadmiralnote  Morgaiah t'Thavrau, as well as Romulan Imperial Praetor Velal (a retired general), in the thick of the fighting against the Tal'Shiar. Justified because the Tal'Shiar attacked a peace summit where the three were lead negotiators for their respective sides.
    • Beat the Drums of War features a number of admirals and generals leading fleets in the field, two of whom die: Starfleet Admiral Yarlin Dao is killed in action when his flagship is destroyed by the Heralds, while Rear Admiral Zandra Taitt dies in a Heroic Sacrifice to foil a Herald attack on the Sol System before it can even start.
  • Child of the Storm has Odin take the field at the Battle of London at the head of an Asgardian army, with Thor and Loki fulfilling similar functions. This is to some extent justified, since the three of them — Odin in particular — represent Asgard's heaviest hitters, and Odin was the only one on the battlefield who could match Chthon in combat.
  • First Flight has a non-military version of the trope: The unofficial slogan of the nascent Kerbal Space Program is "We all build them, we all fly them!", with Werhner and Gene flying a couple of missions each and Jebediah, Bill and Bob pitching in alongside the crews in the Vehicle Assembly Building. This starts out as an Enforced Trope because they didn't have the numbers or resources for strict division of responsibilities, but the tradition continues even after they acquire official endorsement and funding because it's good for morale. They do however take precautions against the risk of losing someone critical: When the lottery to choose volunteers for the next series of missions would put Wehrner and Ornie, the second-most senior engineer on the team, on the same flight together the latter switches assignments with someone else.
  • HERZ: Even after being promoted to Captain Asuka still sorties with her troops and leads from the frontlines.
  • Godzilla: New Era: G-Force Commander Aso personally pilots the Super-X3 into the final battle at Kyoto to dogfight the Millennian UFO. Justified as G-Force had just suffered a mass attack that killed the previous pilot, Aso was trained to fly it, and as a Father to His Men he felt personally guilty the past Super-X pilots were young soldiers who died under his command. The action, which took the G-Force offensive by surprise, did have the desired effect of boosting morale.
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, General Javelin fights alongside his men and his Pokémon against the infamous criminal Twenty Gyarados Bill.
  • Queen of Shadows: When the Shadowkhan resume their conquest of Kyushu, several of the Generals are sent to oversee it, with Ikazuki being given overall command as Warlord, a position from which he in face leads from the front, hoping to find worthy adversaries. Thing is, Jade is actively trying to invoke the downsides of this trope by appointing him to the position, hoping that it'll get him killed and deal a blow to the Shadowkhan.
    • Later, when the Shadowkhan launch a strike on Awaji Island as retaliation on the forces of Tobe for infiltrating their lands and almost killing Jade, she orders General Tsume to handle the attack personally. Again, she's hoping that the negative aspects of the trope will come into play, as she's expecting a Darkest Hour turn around by the local heroes after the fall of Kyushu, and that they'll defeat whatever General shows up.
  • Discussed Trope in Rocketship Voyager when Captain Janeway goes in with the Space Marines instead of directing events from The Bridge like she's supposed to. While the latter is more effective for command & control, she knows it's important to show your men that you're willing to put your life on the line as well, especially when your Redshirts are all too often regarded as expendable Cannon Fodder.
  • In Son of the Sannin, Jiraiya (who was appointed Hokage after Sarutobi's second retirement) personally leads the raid on Root headquarters when Danzo is declared a traitor.
  • In A.A. Pessimal's Discworld-themed work Strandpiel, an adventurous General is rebuked by a junior officer in a position to be able to say these things, because he personally went on a reconnaissance mission deep into the territory of a neighbouring country where a Cold War situation applied. He accepts this was irresponsible and could have led to a lot of trouble had he been killed or captured. But he points out that being the General commanding a "special forces" operation means he had to get away from the command desk and do something that restored a sense of adventure and fun to his life, or else he'd go nuts.
  • As seen in the first chapter of Close Encounters of the Gem Kind, set in the There Was Once an Avenger From Krypton series, Yellow Diamond leads her troops from the front-lines. Pidge can't help but find this rather idiotic since it could result in a Decapitated Army scenario.
  • The Westerosi armies in Wearing Robert's Crown, being of largely medieval customs, are led by lords who fight on the frontlines, right the way up to King Robert Baratheon.
  • In Wonderful (Mazinja), Taylor fights together with her troops.
    Fight alongside me, because I will NOT ask you to do this without putting myself in the line of fire.
  • At one point in A Young Woman's Political Record Tanya fights in the war personally, though only for a single day. One of the bomber crew members grumbles about how they deserve a raise for all the work they're doing, only to see Tanya flying alongside their plane and admits he can't exactly complain about his workload if the Chancellor is picking up a rifle to fight the communists.

    Film — Animated 
  • Mulan had Shan Yu, the leader of the Hun army, charging before his entire army on horseback. He was probably an entire mile ahead of his army when attacking the small group of Chinese soldiers. Clearly, he wanted to spill first blood.
  • In The Steam Engines of Oz, Sir Blackburn, the commander of Oz's army, leads his troops from the front. And, even when many of his troops are breaking and running under the combined onslaught of the lions and the munchkin air force, he instead charges the the leader of the lions and takes him on single-handed.

    Film — Live Action 
  • In Apocalypse Now, Kilgore not only personally flies the lead helicopter into the attack, it's shown he's a pretty darn good pilot and an excellent shot.
  • Blood Brothersd 1973 have the three titular characters - sworn brothers leading a reformed bandit army serving the Manchurian government - leading the charge in numerous large-scale battle scenes.
  • Most of the Allied generals in A Bridge Too Far, especially the Americans Maxwell Taylor and James Gavin, who jump into battle with their respective airborne divisions. SS-General Wilhelm Bittrich is this as well.
  • In Captain America: The First Avenger, Colonel Phillips fits this trope and even gets involved in the fighting at the end, helping to infiltrate a HYDRA base and shooting down a few enemies.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • Discussed in Wonder Woman (2017); Diana has greater respect for generals who lead from the front, and is appalled by Armchair Military like Field Marshal Haig who are more than eager to sacrifice men from the safety of their London penthouses. This is built from memories of her aunt Antiope, who lead the Amazons against intruding Germans who were pursuing Steve Trevor and died taking a bullet for Diana.
    • Justice League: Steppenwolf personally leads two separate invasions of Earth, once in the distant past and again in the present. His infantry consists primarily of parademons, which would easily overwhelm a normal army but are handled by both the various gods of mythology in the past and the Justice League in the present. What makes the invasions almost succeed is the fact that Steppenwolf is an accomplished warrior himself.
    • Zack Snyder's Justice League: It's a young Darkseid himself (as Uxas) who leads the invasion in the distant past (he was replaced by Steppenwolf in the theatrical cut).
  • In Gettysburg, Lee warns General Longstreet against his habit of going too far forward, as he's already lost a number of his generals (particularly Stonewall) to this trope and he feels he cannot spare Longstreet.
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): Colonel Diane Foster, leader of Monarch's military attachment, takes point and accompanies her troops into battle in Antarctica. Same with Colonel Alan Jonah, leader of the human bad guys.
  • The Heroic Ones, a Shaw Brothers war epic, have the two heroes, Hsiao and Shih - the youngest Warrior Princes of their kingdom - leading their armies into battle.
  • President Whitmore leads the charge in the final battle of Independence Day. Justified, as he's one of the few people around who can fly a plane, and one of the even fewer pilots with combat experience, and if they lose, he won't have a country to lead anyway.
  • M in the James Bond series:
  • A civilian variant in Jurassic World. Simon Masrani, the billionaire who built and owns the now fully functional dinosaur park after his friend John Hammond's death, realizes that the Indominus rex needs to be killed after the super-violent, highly intelligent, genetically engineered monster of a dinosaur kills nearly all members of a security team sent to recapture it. They decide to kill it from the air with a helicopter mounted chaingun. Since all the pilots are either off-island or trapped in lockdown during the incident, Masrani volunteers himself to fly the chopper himself despite not quite earning his pilot license yet (he had two more days). While flying towards the I. rex, he finds out at least one of his crewmen is ex-military and an Afghanistan veteran. He even asks if his general ever flew into combat with him.
  • Immortan Joe from Mad Max: Fury Road is an utterly despicable Evil Overlord who keeps harems of women as Sex Slaves and brainwashes hordes of young men to be willing to kill themselves for him if necessary, but his vehicle is often shown near or at the front of the fleet throughout the chase.
  • Oath Of Death have it's three main heroes, Ming Dynasty swordsmen who leads the Imperial Army, where they're in front of the charge when battling against the Mongol Invaders.
  • Patton. The title general is portrayed this way several times. During the battle with the 10th Panzer he's on the front lines giving tactical orders. During the invasion of Sicily he's shown scouting out a ford across a river while under enemy artillery fire. On several other occasions he's depicted driving around in battle areas.
  • It was pretty clear right from Star Trek: The Motion Picture that Admiral Kirk really, really wants to be this trope (that is, he wants to be out in the field, and since he's ended up at flag rank now...). He gets his wish in that film (abusing his personal connections to get himself temporarily put in command of Enterprise for the crisis), but it's not a lasting thing — fortunately, circumstances conspire to move him out of a desire for this trope and back to the trope where he belongs by the end of the fourth film.
  • In Star Trek: First Contact, Admiral Hayes leads the Federation fleet against the Borg, though his ship is destroyed just before the Enterprise arrives. (Star Trek: Voyager confirms that he survived.)
  • Prevalent in Star Wars:
    • The Jedi in all Clone Wars-related media, such as Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, and the animated series Clone Wars and The Clone Wars. They are all automatically generals, and prefer to command from the frontlines. Probably because they don't fear enemy blaster fire. Pong Krell from The Clone Wars is an exception, preferring to stay in the back. But he has a good reason to do that. He's killing as many clones as possible and using Hollywood Tactics before he officially betrays the Republic. Once the clones realize this and try to have him arrested, he slaughters them by the dozens to prove he would have had no problem standing at the front if he chose to.
      • In fact, this trope is the key to the success of Order 66, spreading Jedi thinly across the galaxy and leaving them at the mercy of their clone troopers — who all unexpectedly turn against and execute their commanding officers.
    • On the flip side, General Grievous was often on the front line during the Clone Wars. Granted, he was also perfectly willing to bail if the situation turned against him and often had an honor guard to watch his back.
    • He is also present at an extreme example: During the battle over Coruscant in Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine (though the heroes were under the impression he was kidnapped and a hostage), Dooku, and Grievous are all on one ship, right in the middle of the battle.
    • In A New Hope, Darth Vader takes to space with his TIE Advanced to defend the Death Star.
    • In The Empire Strikes Back the Empire's General Maximilian Veers not only prepares his troops for the Hoth surface attack, he's aboard the lead AT-AT that fires the shots which destroy the Alliance's power generators. He paid a price though: in the novelization Hobbie Klivian (Rogue Two) crashed his damaged snowspeeder into Veers' cockpit a couple minutes later. Veers survived but both his legs had to be amputated. His Rebel counterpart Carlist Rieekan was more cautious, commanding from an Echo Base bunker rather than the front lines.
    • By the time of the Battle of Endor both Lando Calrissian and Han Solo were Generals. These men blew up the second Death Star and personally led the ground assault on its shield generator respectively. Admiral Ackbar also commanded from the front, leading to his legendary line "It's a trap!" In addition, Admiral Piett leads the Imperial Fleet from the Executor, though he is handicapped by the Emperor's shortsighted orders.
    • This carries over to the sequel trilogy. By The Rise of Skywalker, both Finn and Poe are Resistance generals, and they lead their forces in the attack on Exegol.
  • Cohaagen in 2012's Total Recall becomes this, the sort of Big Bad who still has henchmen and a souped-up robotic bodyguard, but also has a flak jacket and prefers to execute his enemies personally rather than delegate it to an underling. And while both versions confront Quaid in the end, in the original version it was because Quaid had killed any Mooks who could get between them.
  • In The War Lord, 11th century Norman war lord Chrysagon de la Cruex (Charlton Heston) leads the Normans through and through amidst the battle and siege, and doesn't hesitate to put himself at risk to defend the tower against the Frisians during said siege.
  • The Warlords, a remake of Blood Brothers (1973), once again revolves around the three titular warlords who leads a platoon of reformed bandit troops in battling rebels. The trio of warlords places themselves ahead of their armies in all the battles.

  • Belisarius in Belisarius Series is this and often has to be urged by his subordinates to risk himself less often. The Persian emperor even makes his bodyguards at promise to arrest him if he risks himself because the Persians need a Roman general they can trust to carry out a politically delicate strategy that might threaten the alliance between the two empires, who had only recently put to rest centuries of intermittent warfare between them.
  • The Chronicles of Dorsa: When she's a Rebel Leader, Tasia personally leads her soldiers in battle.
  • Chrysalis (RinoZ): The "general" caste of ants is physically weaker than other soldiers (in exchange for better tactical and planning abilities), but typically fights on the front line regardless, acting more like a squad leader. Since they often get auras that Status Buff the ants around them, this is actually practical, as well as fitting their self-sacrificial mindset.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • When the senior council members enter a fight alongside the Wardens they lead the charge as they are much more powerful magic users. The same goes for the Wardens' Commander Anastasia Luccio.
    • Battle Ground: Marcone and Harry each take up a "banner" leading hundreds of members the makeshift militias of Chicago, and in Marcone's case his own men. They are also fighting in the thick of the battle with the two of them being embroiled in some of the heaviest fighting.
  • In the Destroyermen series, the entire high command of the Alliance is guilty of this. In some cases it's because they're some of the few humans left alive who were swept into the new world the series is set in, were originally low-ranking soldiers, and have been promoted by necessity. In others it's because they take A Father to His Men just that seriously. Others have always been that way. A few take it to Leeroy Jenkins levels, with ordinary troops literally begging their superiors to return to the rear so they don't have to worry about protecting them.
  • In Discworld, this is mentioned as one of General Lord Ronald Rust's few good points (or at least, something that means he's "just" a dangerous twerp rather than a callous monster). It would be easy to assume that a general who's known for massive losses even in the battles he won is the sort to sit back at HQ saying We Have Reserves. But Rust always led his suicidal attacks personally, and seems to have been kept alive by purely his own pigheaded belief in his own invulnerability.
  • Discussed and played with in the Everworld series. David is very much a frontline general, though he also is heavily involved in the behind the lines planning and logistics. When April, afraid of an upcoming battle with the Hetwans, asks why they can't stay back in the rear echelon, David explains that it's one of the "advancements in warfare" that she had previously been droll about.
  • Fengshen Yanyi, since Rank Scales with Asskicking, this trope is almost omnipresent, as more often than not, battles are started by generals from both sides (ranging from expert veterans to badass One-Man Army warriors to semi-divine taoist experts and monsters in disguise) having a duel, with their battle occasionally being the only military clash of the day before both sides withdraw to plan the next move (with the losing side implicitly losing morale). Usually, the death of a general is enough to force the rest of the army to surrender or flee.
  • Given Grent's Fall's medieval setting, it's no surprise this applies to leaders on both sides.
  • The Healing Wars: Jeatar, the strategist and figurehead of La Résistance, fights on the front lines in the defence of Geveg. Justified in that 1) it's good for morale, 2) it's fast, messy street fighting and he can react better on the ground, and 3) he's a capable swordsman and the rebellion needs every soldier they can get. Nya sends Vyand to try and stop him from getting killed.
  • In Joe Abercrombie's The Heroes General Jalenhorm is painfully aware of the fact that he got his command solely due to his friendship with the king, and tries to make up for it with personal bravery. He dies leading his division in a suicidal assault on The Children, viewing it as redeeming himself for earlier tactical mistakes.
  • In Outlander Leander, unusual circumstances have led Nagdecht to have two generals. General Glaive is the new, younger general, and is shown getting personally involved in missions with his private unit. When asked where General Oske is, however, General Glaive states, "At the castle, where he always is", suggesting Oske is an Armchair General.
  • Redwall: Exaggerated with Lady Cregga Rose Eyes, who leads the Long Patrol in the book The Long Patrol. She absolutely despises the evil Rapscallion army because they plunder and kill innocent beasts, and she's very, very eager to finish them off. To this end, she forges her own weapons, pushes her army to be the best it can be, and at one point, actually runs ahead of her army, hoping to cut the Rapscallions off and fight them herself. Deconstructed when she runs so far ahead of the Long Patrol that they can't find her, leaving them without a leader and worried sick. They do eventually find her, and she joins them in the final battle, even killing the Big Bad herself. May be justified, since she, like most Long Patrol leaders, is a badger, making her one of the largest and most formidable creatures in the forest.
  • In Sharpe's Tiger, Major-General Baird opts to lead his army in person during the Battle of Seringapatam. Justified in that he was held prisoner in the city by the Tipu Sultan for nearly four years and wants to kill some of its defenders for personal satisfaction. No detail is spared for how well his Scottish claymore fairs once the armies clash in bayonet range.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire. Those commanding armies often take to the field with their men, given that Westeros is a medieval fantasy society where individual fighting prowess is equated with generalship. The extent to which this is true varies — Jaime Lannister is Lured into a Trap because his enemies know he's a Blood Knight who always leads from the front. Bored with the siege of Riverrun, Jaime hears of an attack by raiders on his supply line and leads a small force off to attack them, only to be ambushed by Robb Stark's army. King Robb also leads from the front to inspire his men but is more cautious about it, keeping a strong bodyguard and not taking unnecessary risks. Jaime's father, the coldly pragmatic Lord Tywin, leads from the rear where he can control the battlefield and judge the right moment to throw in his own efforts.
  • Justified in Starship Troopers. "Everyone drops," from grunts on up to the sky marshal who commands the entire Terran military. Taken to the logical conclusion when the sky marshal dies fighting a rearguard action.
    • Also, the officers drop first. When a cap trooper hits the ground, he knows that there will be an officer there to lead him.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • After Wedge Antilles is promoted to general in X-Wing: Isard's Revenge, he still leads Rogue Squadron in the field for at least the remainder of the book. In later conflicts (among them Kueller's uprising and the Yuuzhan Vong War) he continues to put himself directly in harm's way, though not necessarily from a starfighter cockpit.
    • The prequels weren't the first time the Jedi were Frontline Generals. During the Sith Wars of 4,000 and 1,000 BBY (seen in the Tales of the Jedi comics and Darth Bane series among others), the Jedi frequently led the Republic military against Sith forces.
    • Many frontline troops and officers admired Anakin Skywalker for his willingness to lead from the front and to never ask anything of anyone he was unwilling to do himself. This carried over when Anakin became Darth Vader with such members of the military, unlike many in the high command who despised the Dark Lord and his "sorcerer's ways."
  • This is expected of Alethi Lighteyes in The Stormlight Archive, as their culture prizes combat skill above all else. The existence of Shardblades and Shardplate also means it is actually a tactically sound option. High ranking Lighteyes are the only people that own and train with Shards note , a person with Shards is easily worth hundreds if not thousands of regular soldiers, and in Shardplate they are nearly impossible to take down unless the enemy has Shards. Dalinar and Adolin Kholin not only lead from the front, but are typically the first two to charge the enemies, as weakening the enemy line themselves means that there are far fewer casualties among their regular troops.
  • Temeraire: The antagonist Napoléon Bonaparte regularly joins his troops at the front lines and on scouting missions, albeit generally with the protection of his Dragon, a literal dragon. It inspires great loyalty in his own forces and even wins the grudging respect of the protagonist, but by the end of the series, forcing himself to keep up with young soldiers in bad conditions has taken a toll on his health.
  • Very frequent in Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • In The Lord of the Rings, virtually anyone equivalent to a general (Éomer, Théoden, and eventually Aragorn) is only too glad to be right in the thick of it with their men.
    • In The Silmarillion: In the First Age, if you are a king, lord or high-ranking officer, you are liable to be leading the charge against the enemy (Thingol, Finrod, Finarfin in the Final Battle...)... and often getting killed in action (Fëanor, Fingolfin, Fingon, Huor...) or getting captured and suffering a Fate Worse than Death (Maedhros tortured and chained to the side of a ravine, Hurin forced to watch as his family's lives went to Hell...)
    • The Children of Húrin, starts when the remainder forces of good in Middle-Earth unite to attempt to destroy Morgoth once for all... and get utterly crushed. Their kings and lords were leading them, and most of them got killed in battle (Fingon, Azaghal, Huor...). Hurin and Huor particularly made a Last Stand with their whole army to protect the retreat of the forces of Gondolin — led by their king Turgon — and Hurin was the only survivor — to his regret.
    • The same applies in The Hobbit where Thranduil the Elvenking, Bard the Bowman, and the whole Line of Durin lead their troops into battle. It ends badly for the latter, all of whom are killed in either the Battle of Azanulbizar (Thrór, Thráin, Frerin) or the Battle of the Five Armies (Thorin, Fíli, Kíli). Dáin Ironfoot is the only Durin dwarf to survive... until he's killed about 80 years later protecting King Brand during the War of the Ring.
    • Since J. R. R. Tolkien himself fought in World War I, it's likely that he was very aware of the danger that high-ranking officers were exposed to when leading a charge, be it in modern or fantastical warfare.
  • Averted hard with John Rumford in Victoria who stays far away from the front and the closest he ever got to a live combat situation was a drive-by shooting, however this does not stop him mocking other officers for being intellectual cowards who have no idea what it is like at the front.
  • Played with in The Wheel of Time, where it's repeatedly stated that this is a bad idea, because the general makes of himself a target and if he's killed, his command is going to collapse. However, by dint of bad luck Mat keeps finding himself in the midst of the enemy force, especially if he was trying to lead his army in a retreat at the time (though, thanks to good luck, he then turns those debacles into crushing victories), and other generals have had times when they stay in or near the front lines because of a need to keep communication lines short or just because they just need every man they have.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Babylon 5 episode "GROPOS" Dr. Franklin's father General Richard "Old Firestorm" Franklin hits the dirt with his men in the EarthForce assault on the fortress of Matok. He comes out without a scratch.
  • This backfires on Supreme Commander Servalan in Blake's 7. She turns up at the end of a battle against an Alien Invasion hoping to get some propaganda kudos, only to be ambushed and shot down. By the time she gets back to Star Command, the Federation has disintegrated and she has to become a Frontline General for real, rallying The Remnant to save what's left of her Vestigial Empire. This means for Rule of Drama she's always available to directly confront our heroes, as The Dragon who used to do that job was killed off in the previous season.
  • Reflecting Real Life, Chernobyl features Colonel General Vladimir Pikalov and Major General Nikolai Tarakanov. The two were the senior officers sent to Chernobyl after the accident on April 26, 1986, with Pikalov and his men being sent in to help contain the initial fire, and Tarakanov commanding the Liquidators. Pikalov, upon learning that someone has approach the burning core (in a full protective suit and lead-lined truck) with a dosimeter to get an accurate radiation reading, volunteers for the task himself. Tarakanov never does anything that crazy, but he does manage the Liquidators from out in the field, and takes the time to personally thank every single man who went up to clean the Masha roof- all 3,828 of them.
  • In Doctor Who, The Brigadier frequently leads his men in battles against this week's alien menace.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • In the Battle of Blackwater, Tyrion Lannister approves the normally inept King Joffrey's decision to join the troops on the city walls as "soldiers fight better for a king who's not hiding behind his mother's skirts". Of course Tyrion is the one actually running the battle, so this works well until the Queen Regent, worried about her son's safety, orders him brought back to the Red Keep. Joffrey, who likes giving a Badass Boast but is actually a Dirty Coward, fails to stand up to his mother (he does seem genuinely torn and seems to at least want to stay, which is about the closest thing to admirable Joffrey ever did). When his soldiers see the King leaving, they start to falter as well. Tyrion (who as an entirely pragmatic dwarf is the least likely person to go into battle) has to lead the sally himself in order to shame them into following him. Opposing him is Stannis Baratheon, who demonstrates unequivocally that he leads purely by example. He inspires his men by being the first into the landing boats after wildfire destroys half their fleet, and the first up the ladder on the city walls. In fact, he has to be physically dragged away from the frontline by his soldiers after his army has lost the battle. Note that in the novels this is actually a trait of his Blood Knight brother Robert Baratheon (Stannis is a more cold-blooded, pragmatic leader who commands from the rear) but is changed for Rule of Drama. Later, Tywin Lannister and Loras Tyrell lead the cavalry charge that wins the Battle of Blackwater.
    • Robert Baratheon won his throne by slaying his counterpart (and second cousin) Rhaegar Targaryen in battle.
    • Khal Drogo's only claim to leadership is his ability to be this.
    • Robb and Jaime both lead their men into battle. Jaime is a bold field commander with the spirit and élan of a rank soldier. It's clear he revels in the front line aspects rather than in the generalship per-se, putting himself In Harm's Way without a second thought. This allows Robb to capture Jaime by surprising him in the Whispering Wood.
    • Lord Commander Mormont flat-out refuses to sit meekly at Castle Black and takes command of the great ranging beyond the Wall.
    • During the Battle of Castle Black, Alliser Thorne and Jon Snow do this for the Night's Watch while Styr and Tormund do it for the wildlings. When tasked with defending the inner gate, Grenn is also front and center among his men.
    • House Umber's Lords personally lead their men in combat.
      • Unlike Ramsay or Harrald, Smalljon Umber dies in the thick of battle.
    • Lyanna Mormont accompanies her men to Jon Snow's camp, putting herself at considerable risk. She also is part of the parley on Jon's side before the battle.
    • King Aegon II Targaryen rode his dragon into battle and against other dragons. One of the few nice things you can say about Aegon II is that at least he wasn't a coward.
    • Downplayed with Daenerys. She herself never does any actual fighting, but she's the only one who can control her dragons, and if she wants to commit them in battle she has to actually mount Drogon, and fly into a battle herself.
    • Lord Ormund Baratheon led the Iron Throne's forces on the Stepstones.
    • Euron Greyjoy. Frontline Admiral may be more accurate, but give the man credit, unlike Balon, Euron actually leads his men into battle.
  • Motherland: Fort Salem: Originally Alder was this, leading her troops personally into battles as shown by paintings in the series' opening montage.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • General Hammond was more inclined to lead from the rear, but he wasn't above going into the field on occasion, most notably in "Into the Fire" where he rode second seat in a modified Death Glider to provide air support to the rescue of his troops. He also personally commanded the Prometheus during Anubis' assault on Earth, giving SG-1 time to activate Ancient chair weapon.
    • After O'Neill replaced Hammond for Season 8, he likewise mostly stayed in the boardroom until his ATA gene was required to fly a puddle jumper in "It's Good to Be King". He took out a Goa'uld mothership with it.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Downplayed with Adar, while he doesn't fight, he leads the attack of the Orcs against the Southlanders. He obtains a decisive victory against them and takes the Southlands for him and the Orcs.
  • Star Trek: A rarity for Starfleet. The majority of admirals have been far from the pointy end for too long. Nevertheless, a number do come to the defense of the Federation in combat.
    • In TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds, Part 2" Admiral J.P. Hanson leads the Federation home fleet against the Borg at Wolf 359, and is killed in action along with most of the fleet.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • General Martok, although justified in that Klingons are a Proud Warrior Race and thus they value the glory of battle. During the Dominion War, he maintains his flag on a Bird-of-Prey instead of one of the larger battlecruisers. Late in the Dominion War, Chancellor Gowron took a more personal interest in battle strategy, however as a career politician he was more interested in usurping Martok's glory and made a lot of tactical mistakes. Worf challenges Gowron for such petty behavior, and ends up killing him in combat. While he was offered the position of Chancellor, he passed that on to Martok. Afterwards, Martok took the Negh'Var as his flagship, but still got into the thick of the fighting wherever possible.
      • Captain Sisko and Admiral Ross also lead from the front in numerous battles. Sisko, notably, took command of a ground troop in "The Siege of AR-558" despite being a starship captain (Starfleet being a monolithic uniformed service rather than a collection of separate branches), and was quite effective in holding off everything thrown his way despite being cut off from reinforcements or supplies.

  • The Book of Mormon: Most of the time, kings and "chief captains" were expected to be in the field. There were exceptions, but they were apparently significant enough for the narrative to call them out.
    • Alma sends an army without him to respond to invasion — because he's still injured from the last time, where he killed one enemy leader in single combat, and fought the king's personal guard while the king ran away from him.
    • Amalickiah stays home and doesn't lead the Lamanite armies in person the first time they invade, and they get curb stomped. The second time, he accompanies them, with his considerable strategic acumen, and they make large inroads, capturing several heavily fortified cities and putting the Nephites thoroughly on the back foot.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Lots of people in BattleTech, since it's based on a Feudal Future, where nobles are expected to ride into combat atop BattleMechs. Indeed, it is woven into the very theme of the universe. While the universe operates more or less on Grey-and-Grey Morality, the farther a character is from being a Frontline General, the more likely they are to be reviled. Leaders of overtly hostile nations that are willing to take the field are usually considered a Worthy Opponent, whereas the true villains of the franchise tend to be those who either disdain combat altogether or who hide in bunkers while gleefully sending other soldiers off to die. The principle exception to this rule is Sun-Tzu Liao. Despite being a middling MechWarrior who's most notable combat action was ejecting from his 'Mech, he avoids this due to being sufficiently awesome (and, while being a mediocre MechWarrior, is still a MechWarrior, an exceptionally demanding job to qualify in).
    • In the Inner Sphere, at least, there's a whole class of 'Mechs, such as the BattleMaster, Cyclops, and Archer which are designated "Command 'Mechs," because they have extra communications and command equipment to allow their pilot to both coordinate a sizeable force and shoot any enemies that present themselves (this is largely a fluff designation, though the Quirks rule provides Command 'Mechs with an Initiative bonus).
    • Among the Clans, this is practically enforced. You can't win honor by sending someone else to fight for you, and someone who isn't good at fighting won't even get a command, because Asskicking Leads to Leadership is in full-force for the Clans. Due to this, villainous clanners tend to be of the Blood Knight variety. Though the above "not Frontline General = reprehensible character" is exaggerated for the Clans. A few Clan leaders try to not be Frontline Generals, and tend to be among the most despicable Clanners you'll ever meet. . . and the results for them are generally quite unpleasant when the truth comes out that they aren't "true" warriors.
  • In Game of the Generals, the number-Star Generals are among the most powerful pieces on the board, and are often placed on the front lines for this reason. (Of course, it's dangerous for them to get too aggressive because of the risk of getting captured by a Spy.)
  • GURPS sourcebook Mass Combat allows the commander of an army to take a frontline role. It is a high-risk/high-reward option, as while the presence of their commander on he front allows to see the situation in more detail and inspires the troops to do better, the commander is more vulnerable to misfortunes of war (random injuries sustained during battle).
  • In Stratego, the Field Marshal and the General are the two most powerful pieces on the board, and are often placed on the front lines for this reason. (Of course, it's dangerous for them to get too aggressive because of the risk of hitting a bomb.)
  • An actual game mechanic in Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000: the minimum to play is two units of troops and a general / HQ unit. Depending on their stats, you either keep them the hell away from attack (see Tau Ethereals) or are horrifying death machines to be rushed into melee as soon as possible (orks, tyranids, most Chaos and Space Marines leaders). In the fluff, however, the less insane armies keep their high command well out of harm's way.
    • Taken even further in Dawn of War: the Imperial Guard's general is their only melee unit until they get to the later tech tiers. On the tabletop this is generally discouraged as the Company Commander's statline is not especially impressive; his intended purpose is to stand just behind the line and bark out Orders. Catachan Company Commanders starting from 8th Edition however can take the Warlord trait "Lead from the Front", which doubles the leader's melee engagement range and gives him combat bonuses — Catachans are Rambo-esque hombres from a jungle world that would quite literally eat any other regiment alive, so it makes sense.
    • Despite all attempts to be Only Sane Man of the setting, Tau often play this trope extremely straight in case of their Fire Caste commanders. They are issued custom made Super Prototype mecha suit and are expected to make full use of it. Its not too bad if commander in question loads it out with high range weaponry. It gets somewhat crazy in case of commander Shadowsun, the highest ranking military leader of the Tau Empire who has her suit customized with close range anti tank weapons. Or renegade commander Farsight whose main armament is a sword. Although at least with the default commander, the justification is, that due to the lightning fast attacks that the Tau prefer, the suit is less for the commander to fight and more for him to move where he is most needed and be safe.
    • Defied by the Skaven. Lorewise the Skaven general on the field will almost never be the actual leader of the army, but the most powerful subordinate the actual general could bribe/blackmail/drug and push onto the battlefield. The race's actual leaders, the Council of Thirteen, are not present as characters and do everything in their power to avoid battle. Skaven also have a special rule called "Verminous Valour" that allows Skaven characters to lead units from the back rank and avoid all duels with no loss of face or efficiency — after all, feeding a subordinate into the jaws of death in your place is an extremely Skaven thing to do, and any Skaven would do so if put in the same position.

  • In BIONICLE, Sidorak, the King of the Visorak horde, was known to lead his troops on the front line. Unfortunately for him this part of what led to him being blind to the schemes of his second in command Roodaka. Interestingly enough, Sidorak intentionally invoked this trope in order to show how great a leader he was because deep down he felt he never truly earned the title of King since he took credit for coming up with the impressive accomplishment of a fellow Brotherhood servant to get it and always needed to show his ability...and said fellow servant just so happened to be Roodaka.
  • The various incarnations of the G.I. Joe franchise have Hawk, a general who spends much of his time leading the G.I. Joe forces out in field. His official bio even lampshades this by saying that "When Hawk takes you into a hairy situation, he's usually in front of you yelling 'Follow me!' "
  • Transformers: Optimus Prime, Megatron and most other leaders. Optimus in particular is known for commanding his troops to follow him into battle with a "transform and roll out."

    Video Games 
  • In Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, as a break from previous Advance Wars, the CO tend to take on a more frontline role, both in story and in game, where you can have them ride along a unit, generating a CO Zone buffing units in it, promoting the unit they tag along with to Veteran rank, and needing to have units in their zone kill enemies to charge up their CO Powers (Frontline being relative of course. Trak/Gage fares quite well in a Missile Launcher unit behind the main lines, while Zadia/Tasha needs to personally take part in the air assault to be effective. Trak/Gage is The Stoic Cold Sniper CO, while Zadia/Tasha is more Hot-Blooded.).
  • Battlezone II: Combat Commander, as the name implies, has John Cooke leading their battalion from the front line in the cockpit of a Hover Tank — starting from the rank of Lieutenant, then receiving Field Promotions until he is promoted to Major after killing Major Manson if he sides with General Braddock. In the Scion campaign, General Braddock leads the Last Stand against the Scions, from the cockpit of an Attila LM.
  • Subverted in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, the first time General Shepherd appears, he's leading the Army Rangers in an assault over a bridge. He helps PFC Allen to get up and pretends to lead him at the field, only to back up and leave the field immediately, he's also responsible for sending Allen to an undercover mission to slaughter civilians in an airport, get him killed and provoke the Russians to declare war. The only two occasions where he can be seen commanding on field are when he betrays Task Force 141 and when he covers up the betrayal with the Shadow Company. "Rangers lead the way!", indeed.
  • Yuri, the Soviet right-hand man in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 & leader of his own faction in Yuri's Revenge can be deployed as Yuri Prime, a Hero Unit with powerful mind control & psychic blast ability.
    • Soviet general Vladimir in the same game also personally commands a Dreadnought warship.
    • Also, Emperor Yoshiro & Commander Kenji in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 has their own King Oni heavy assault robots, customized for enhanced firepower and anti-air capability.
  • This trope is the very premise of Conqueror's Blade, which is a combination role-playing, real-time strategy, and hack-and-slash game. The game puts your character, a powerful warlord, right on the front lines of battle, leading, commanding, and fighting alongside your men. You control your troops much like in an RTS even as you swing your sword (or hammer or spear or whatever) to cleave through enemies yourself.
  • In Crusader Kings, army commanders, potentially including the Player Character, are each assigned to lead either the center, left, or right flank of an army, and are vulnerable to being wounded or killed in combat. An army that goes into combat without a commander and therefore bereft of the benefits of his traits is considerably less effective.
  • Every single faction in Dawn of War. Taken to extremes with the Imperial Guard, where the general and his retinue squad is practically their only melee unit. The only probable exception is the Eldar Farseer, seeing as she's more of a caster-type hero unit who throws out damaging spells and unit buffs, but she can be fairly effective in melee as well.
  • Whoever is made monarch at the end of Dragon Age: Origins (Anora, Alistair, or the Warden) will personally lead the armies against the Darkspawn in the endgame.
  • The Elder Scrolls: With Nirn being quite the World of Badass, most military leaders seen throughout the series and in the Backstory are this. To note some specific examples:
    • Lord Indoril Nerevar, revered ancient hero of the Dunmer people, was one of these. Most accounts have him personally leading forces into the Dwemer stronghold at Red Mountain. It also helped lead to his death, either from wounds suffered there or by the betrayal of his allies within. (Again, depending on the version of the story you are reading.) His death and prophesied Reincarnation are major plot points in Morrowind.
    • Any leader of any of the Proud Warrior Races (Orcs, Nords, Redguards) qualifies. For the Nords in particular, Asskicking Leads to Leadership and any leader is expected to be able to hold his or her own in battle, if not be the most outright badass figure on the battlefield. Ysgramor, Wulfharth Ash-King, and Talos Stormcrown (aka Tiber Septim) gained great renown as both warriors and generals. Should the player side with the Stormcloaks in Skyrim, Ulfric will lead the charge in the final battle.
    • This is the case inOblivion, with both your character and Martin Septim at the Battle of Bruma. Up until that point you've been running around Cyrodiil closing Oblivion Gates, rallying troops from the other cities to help Bruma and taking the fight to the enemy while Martin remains safe and sound at Cloud Ruler Temple (this is justified as Martin is the only one who can end it all and if he dies, all is lost). When Bruma is directly threatened with destruction, however, Martin dons his Bling of War armour and sword and marches to the field with you, the Blades and the assembled guardsmen of Cyrodiil to personally defend his new subjects and prove his worth as Emperor. And since Martin is a powerful spellsword in full armour, he is more than capable of handling himself.
      • Returns in the next game, Skyrim with those on both sides of the civil war. On the Stormcloak side, Ulfric Stormcloak and his right-hand man Galmar Stone-Fist are former members of the Imperial Legion who know how to fight and have no problem doing so. The only reason Ulfric is not on the front lines more often is because he also serves as the local lord of his territory and he barely escaped capture and execution at the start of the game when the Legion ambushed him. On the Legion side, General Tullius is a Four-Star Badass veteran of many campaigns who is often posted to where trouble is brewing because he's that good at getting shit done. His second-in-command, Legate Rikke (Legate was a real-life rank in the Roman army roughly equivalent to general) more than qualifies as she serves as Tullius' go-between in Skyrim, walking a fine line between Skyrim native and Legion officer. Both Galmar and Rikke will be the ones you go to for orders in the field, as well as being in charge of coordinating the siege/defence of Whiterun depending on which side you join. The player character can also rise in the ranks to become this trope as well and will join the leaders of their side in a full-on assault on the opposing side's capital city at the end of the campaign.
    • The ancient Yokudan (Precursors of the Redguards) hero Frandar Hunding was one. One of the legendary Ansei, or "Sword Saints", Frandar was quite possibly the greatest Master Swordsman in the history of Nirn. He traveled Yokuda as a Knight Errant in his youth, slaying all manner of men and monsters, while testing his skills in 90 duels. He was never once defeated, leading him to believe that he was invincible, so he retired to Mount Hattu and wrote the Book of Circles to pass along his insights. After urging from his son and fellow Sword-Singers, Frandar reluctantly led the "greatly outnumbered" forces of the Ansei against the corrupt Yokudan Emperor Hira. Frandar and the Ansei were victorious, but were considered "red with blood" by the citizens and chose to self-exile to Tamriel following the conflict. There, he would eventually fall in battle with the giant goblins of Hammerfell while still serving as one in his 80s.
    • Uriel Septim V's reputation as a warrior-emperor is considered second only to Tiber himself among the Septim dynasty. Inheriting an Empire wracked with internal strife and floundering support in the provinces, Uriel V would lead the Third Empire back to greatness by launching a series of invasions outside of Tamriel. Over a span of 13 years, he conquered several island nations in the Padomaic Sea to the east of Tamriel. Then, he invaded Akavir itself. Despite initial successes, he would fail to conquer Akavir as he had hoped, and would fall there in battle himself, making a Heroic Sacrifice to cover the retreat of his legions.
  • Empire Earth has two types of heroes: Warrior and Strategist. While both are melee units (until the later ages when all units become ranged), the Warrior's role is to be in the thick of battle, as his damage values are the kind associated with siege weapons and he provides a 50% damage reduction aura to nearby units. The Strategist, on the other hand, has a much weaker attack (and won't even attack unless specifically ordered), but instead provides very quick healing to nearby units and has an ability that makes enemies take extra damage.
  • In Final Fantasy IV, all of the executive leaders of the allied city-states with the exception of Nanamo and The Syndicate are capable fighters who take the field during important battles. This is particularly noticeable for Hien, crown prince and later king of Doma, as he directly participates in the fight to liberate his country from Garlemald.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • The Avatar in Fire Emblem: Awakening can be a Frontline Tactician, depending on how much you use them. It's lampshaded in one of the DLC maps:
      Saias: Aren't you the enemy tactician? What kind of fool strategist puts himself at the fore of the battle?
      Avatar: The kind who knows he'll win.
    • It's also prudent to play the main 'Lord' type characters this way throughout the franchise as they typically gain access to the most powerful weapons and skills which are extremely useful, if not absolutely necessary, against the final few bosses.
    • In-Universe, Hector, Ephraim, Ike, Micaiah, and Dimitri are known to operate this way. Deconstructed with Dimitri, however, as while he's an incredibly skilled fighter and charismatic, his ability for tactics is known for being lacking compared to fellow Lords Edelgard and Claude. This is a major factor in his death in all routes other than his own (where he has Byleth act as his tactician/strategist and providing pushback to his fraying mental state). In two of them, with his mind further consumed by vengeance-crazed bloodlust he leads his army straight to destruction and to his own ignoble death. In the one where his mind isn't clouded, his plan (while not bad on the surface) is so against his usual strategy Edelgard is able to figure out the trick and exploit it to cut him down.
    • It actually becomes a minor plot point at the end of Part 2 of Radiant Dawn. Over the objections of some of her Red Shirts, Queen Elincia personally commands her forces for the final battle against Duke Ludveck because she knows Ludveck is attempting to undermine her authority as queen and seize the throne for himself, and anything less than this trope would validate his claims.
    • This is discussed in Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes within Edelgard and Caspar's Supports. Edelgard fights on the frontline along with her troops primarily for two reasons. The rational reason is that doing so provides a substantial boost in morale to her troops, who know they are fighting alongside an Emperor who is strong and courageous, and she herself can put her own strength and abilities to increase their odds of victory. The emotional reason is that she hates the idea of other people bleeding and dying for her ideals if she herself is safe and never has to lift a finger for her own cause.
  • Halo: High-ranking Sangheili/Elites and Jiralhanae/Brutes, going all the way up to Field Marshals and Chieftains, are often seen battling alongside their subordinates, which is kinda justified by the fact that both races promote their troops based largely on their personal kill-count and give them increasingly better equipment as they ascend the ranks. Human generals are more practical, however, and remain safely in bases or command warships instead.
  • Trails Series: Fairly common in the series. In Liberl, General Morgan (leader of the Royal Army) and Lieutenant Schwarz (leader of the Royal Guard) tend to lead from the front, and in Erebonia, Generals Vander and Craig fight alongside their troops.
  • Mass Effect 3 has several instances. Largely out of desperation, Admiral Anderson chooses to remain on Earth to lead the resistance against the Reaper forces. Similarly, several turian generals (Corinthus and next-in-line-to-be-Primarch Victus) are in the thick of the fighting on the front lines of Menae. Garrus, a government adviser on the Reapers (and who is high enough ranking to be saluted by the generals) is right there as well. Whether this is common practice for turian generals or is a move of desperation against the Reapers is not clear, however. It involves a bit of Surprisingly Realistic Outcome, since most of the top brass was killed off already by the time Shepard gets there.
  • In MechWarrior: Living Legends, the top few ranks (Major, Colonel, General) open up high-tech and high-firepower Humongous Mecha like the "Atlas" and "Daishi". The Atlas "E" variant, dubbed the "Master & Commander", is explicitly designed for frontline commanding; it is only slightly less armored than the heaviest brawlers, carries an advanced Target Spotter battle computer, a missile guidance beacon, a high-tech Enemy-Detecting Radar suite, and a slew of long-range direct and indirect weaponry. The Master and Commander isn't a particularly dangerous mech on its lonesome, but its ability to single out targets from a kilometer away and share it with allied cruise missiles, artillery, and bombers make it an exceptionally high-value target.
  • Metroid: Other M: Adam Malkovich is a General, and leads a group of five men in a special-ops mission. Sometimes he is away in a command room, other times he is personally fighting with them.
  • General Sonya Blade from Mortal Kombat 11 shows why this trope does not work out well in real life. During the attack on Shinnok's Bone Temple, Raiden decoys by attacking the demonic host head-on while the Special Forces infiltrate and obliterate the temple. The squad splits, with Cassie and Jacqui's team providing a defensive line while Sonya's team plants the explosive charges. Revenant Liu Kang catches on to the plan and caves in the underground access, trapping Sonya's team in the depths where she is forced to trigger the detonation sequence, leaving Cassie and Jacqui's team to escape and forward the bad news to Johnny Cage.
  • In Radiant Historia, Field Marshall Viola spends nearly the entire game on the front lines. Although she's highly formidable in combat, many characters point out the absurdity of having such a high ranking officer in the thick of battle; she's only there because the de facto leader of the country, General Hugo, fears her popularity and wants to get rid of her.
  • The "general" support unit in Rise of Nations is best kept slightly back from the front as he can't actually fight, but he does need to be nearby to provide the bonuses to your troops. The Thrones and Patriots expansion introduced the Patriot unit, a government leader who not only provides combat bonuses but also national benefits.
  • An Escort Mission in the flight sim Sabre Ace: Conflict Over Korea has you protecting General Douglas MacArthur's unarmed transport plane as he flies up to the front lines for a personal inspection. This is Truth in Television: MacArthur was personally reconnoitering the front lines a mere three days into the Korean War, often while his position was under heavy North Korean attack.
  • StarCraft likes this.
    • General Edmund Duke in StarCraft isn't just a frontline general, but fully capable of soloing the mission you get to use him in (assuming you prioritize targets correctly and are willing to patch him up frequently). Unfortunately his tendency to lead from the front eventually gets him killed in Brood War, and he's for the most part a General Failure due to his unfortunate tendency to be on the opposite side from the player character.
    • Protoss Executors and Dark Templar Prelates also do this, as evidenced by Tassadar and Zeratul, both of whom appear as powerful hero units on the front lines of several levels apiece.
    • General Horace Warfield in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty takes the field with his Marines and fully qualifies for Four-Star Badass, killing an entire zerg force by himself at one point and losing an arm in the process. This comes back to bite him in Starcraft II Heart Of The Swarm when the resurgent Zerg swarm retakes the planet and he dies leading a Last Stand.
  • Every single Player Character in Star Trek Online, eventually. The top rank you get is Fleet Admiral (for Starfleet or Romulan Republic characters) or General/Dahar Masternote  (Klingon Defense Force characters). This in no way alters the gameplay away from commanding a single starship flying around doing missions and getting into exciting business — it just opens a wider variety of missions (very few of which actually make more sense for an admiral over a captain, or even over junior enlisted personnel in many cases). Until the update of the Admiralty system, in which players of Admiral rank and higher were allowed to send their ships — all of them, even the one they're currently flying — on missions. A later update allowed shuttles to go on these missions, similar to the shows.
  • Star Wars:
    • In Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, much like in other expanded universe material, Jedi led from the front in war. Before and after he became a Sith, the Jedi Revan would often lead from the front in the Mandalorian Wars, personally defeating Mandalore himself in battle (although he was not averse to sitting back and leading from the safety of the war room). This eventually caught up with him when a Jedi strike team managed to board his flagship during a battle and distract him from his apprentice Malak's treachery, who blasted the flagship's bridge to smithereens and took over as the Dark Lord of the Sith. Revan actually survived but lost his/her memory, becoming the Player Character.
    • The protagonist of the sequel, The Sith Lords, was none other than a Jedi General exiled for going off to war against the Jedi Council's wishes. The Exile personally led many infamously brutal campaigns, and the game visits several locations from the Mandalorian Wars.
    • Star Wars: The Old Republic: Darth Malgus, rather than engage in the subterfuge and intrigue of the Dark Council, preferred to lead troops into battle. Although a lot of that was probably building support for his eventual coup.
  • In Stellaris, generals may have the Glory Seeker trait, which describes them as leading from the front and always being "in the thick of it" - translating to a morale and damage bonus for all armies under the general's command.
  • In Supreme Commander, Commanders — in their Armored Command Unit — are often shown stomping through regular tanks and mechs with impunity in cutscenes. In-game it's generally not a favored tactic except in dire emergencies due to the ACU being relatively weak to begin with, and losing it ending the game, but ACUs can be upgraded with some hefty firepower to make them almost equal to Experimental units in terms of firepower.
  • In Total War:
    • Encouraged in Shogun and Medieval thanks to a general unit can accrue so much experience and titles and become so powerful as a combatant that he can solo hundreds of men singlehandedly. Subsequent games toned this down greatly, to many players' thanks.
    • In Medieval II, generals fight as armoured knights alongside their bodyguards. Given the supremacy of heavy cavalry in this time period until firearms and better infantry tactics rendered them a sidenote, throwing the general into the fray is actually a fairly good idea in most cases, that is unless the fray involves spearmen or pikes.
    • Generally not advised in Empire and Napoleon — by the 18th and early 19th Centuries, armoured cavalry has long since had its heyday in most of Europe, generals fight unarmoured and are highly vulnerable to gunfire. However Empire introduces naval combat and admirals will fight in the thick of it, obviously as the confines of a ship leave nowhere to run.
    • Very much the case in Warhammer and Warhammer II. Generals (renamed Lords here) tend to be the most effective fighters in the whole army unless they are Squishy Wizards, and especially if that army is the Greenskins or the Warriors of Chaos — these are armies that do not tolerate weaklings as leaders. Justified because it is a fantasy setting.
    • In Three Kingdoms, either encouraged or discouraged depending on the selected game mode. In "Romance" mode, the game takes more cues from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and so more liberties with realism — generals are great heroes who can be commanded separately as individual units, accrue a panoply of war gear and score hundreds of kills in a single battle. In "Classic" mode, the game takes a more historically accurate direction, and while generals' bodyguards are still powerful units, the generals cannot be commanded away from their bodyguard units and have their powers removed.
  • Command units in the Wargame series are best kept out of harm's way, as they're vital to capturing sectors for resource points and reinforcements. However, they range from tanks to helicopters, giving them a good chance to defend themselves.
  • Words Worth: While Sharon and Ceasar are the Tribe of Shadow's top generals, it's Sharon who is acknowledged as their fiercest combatant, and spends much of the series in the thick of battle. Which is how she gains the attention of King Fabris, who also exemplifies the trope.
  • In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, depending on how the game goes, it can easily turn into one or two veteran soldiers leading a party of brand new recruits.
  • Yes, Your Grace: For the early part of the game, the only member of King Eryk's skeleton court who can be sent to deal with problems on-site is the army's general, who is usually accompanied by a few of his men. He'll also be on the frontline during both the game's major battle and the final siege.

    Web Animation 
  • General Dune in Plastic Apocalypse: The Sabre-Tooth lampshaded by Captain Wilson
  • RWBY: Despite his high rank in the Atlesian military, when Salem's forces cause Grimm invasions of both Beacon and Mantle, General James Ironwood quickly enters the fray; at Beacon, he fights and kills an Alpha Beowolf and his own hacked robots; in Mantle, he personally lures Arthur Watts into a trap just so he can force a single combat fight. After going through a Face–Heel Turn and turning against the heroes during Salem's Volume 8 siege of Atlas, he divides his time between Central Command and his office, co-ordinating the military operations from behind the lines; however, when he completely runs out of allies at the end of the volume, he returns to the front lines one last time to personally battle Winter Schnee for the fate of Atlas and ends up losing the battle after she becomes the next Winter Maiden.

    Web Comics 
  • Justified in Erfworld. Due to the setting's RPG Mechanics 'Verse, a general's leadership literally expresses itself as a numerical bonus to his subordinates' stats, but the unit has to be in the same squad as the general to get the bonus. (Except for the Chief Warlord, and even his bonus is biggest for his squad).
  • Fairly common in Girl Genius:
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • During the Azure City invasion, Redcloak initially leads from the rear, but later is moved by the way the Hobgoblins were sacrificing their lives, and charged personally into the battle with his war mammoth. This is able to turn the tide of the battle in his favor.
    • His Azurite counterpart, Hinjo, spends the entire battle on the front lines. Being a paladin, he even has to be talked into any sort of retreat, no matter how strategically useful.
  • Schlock Mercenary downplays this trope as a common tactic that leaders use to put themselves in the least amount of danger while looking good:
    Maxim 18: If the officers are leading from in front, watch out for an attack from the rear.
  • In Second Empire, Pturdd is only too eager to join in the glorious massacre of the Second Empire rebels. Pity he's a General Failure who led a small army of Daleks to a humiliating Curb-Stomp Battle...
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Sleipnope will usually hang back while sending its subordinate trolls and ghost against the crew to overwhelm them. However, Sleipnope will join the battle if this is not enough.

    Web Orginal 
  • During Minecraft Civilization Experiments, being that the action is based in the gameplay of Minecraft, most army commanders actively participate in battles in order to bolster their own troops' morale, or because they are played by skilled PvPers who excell in mowing down hordes of enemy soldiers with their potent combat skills, which are often buffed by leadership being a Position of Literal Power. Notable examples include Clownpierce and Ize.
  • In the gaming clan Shack Tactical, who specialize in the military simulator game ARMA, even the highest ranking soldiers are usually involved in the action to some degree. This is justified, since the group is usually playing as an infantry platoon, and thus even the highest ranking figures would be expected to be involved in front-line combat. That said the player known as Kevb0 truly exaggerates this. While most commanding officers generally tend to either not be right at the front or to take some precautions to make it less likely that they'll be killed, (if only to avoid the potential chaos of the command having to go to someone new in the middle of a pitched battle) Kevb0 is known as the man who never met a charge that he didn't like, no matter how obviously suicidal and doomed that charge might be. Kevb0 is often the first man out leading the very point of these charges, even when he's playing the platoon commander... which often means that he's the first or one of the first men to be cut down by enemy defenses.

    Western Animation 
  • In David Macaulay's Castle, the rebellious prince Dafydd of Gwyneth is this: he is seen commanding his forces as they batter the Aberwyvern gates down and assault the castle walls, and later gives a calm explanation of his position while blocking arrows with his shield. The English commander, Lord Kevin le Strange, is an aversion as he is only seen directing the siege defense from a castle tower, though his activities off-screen are unclear.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002): King Randor was a Frontline General before he became king and he's shown a life of politics hasn't dulled his skills.
  • The Legend of Korra's Season 4 Arc Villain Kuvira personally leads her troops from the front line in major engagements, whether on the ground or from the bridge of a Humongous Mecha.

    Real Life 
  • Alexander the Great was especially noted for personally leading his troops in battle, particularly in daring cavalry attacks. It won him tremendous respect and admiration from his army, and why they stuck with him for so long even after he began degenerating into a Bad Boss. However, his tendency to personally lead his army into combat resulted in him receiving numerous battle wounds, which may have been a contributing factor to his untimely death at the age of 32.
  • Lusitanian chieftain Viriathus would explicitly give no order he couldn't carry on himself, and this included fighting in the frontlines.
  • Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, the Great Captain, sometimes surprised enemies by charging at the head of his men even in highly risky missions.
  • King Charles V did it when possible, with his conquest of Tunis featuring him at the frontlines.
  • Hernán Cortés often fought the first to inspire his men, with the consequence that he got captured by Aztec warriors in two separate occasions and to be rescued before they dragged him away.
  • France had a strong medieval tradition of generals personally spearheading their heavy cavalry. This proved increasingly dangerous with the evolution of warfare, however, and at the time of the Italian Wars, France suffered at least four decisive setbacks against Spain (the battles of Cerignola, the Sesia, Pavia and Landriano, as well as a Pyrrhic victory in Ravenna) with their general killed, incapacitated or captured in the process of leading an excessively reckless charge.
    • The battle of Cerignola featured both generals at the frontlines, only in starkly different formations. When he found the Spanish entrenched, French general Louis d'Armagnac opted to go by default for a frontal cavalry charge. His Spanish counterpart, the aforementioned Fernández de Córdoba, had placed his aquebusiers and pikemen at the front of the trench, with himself placed among them to direct personally the effort (he even refused to wear his helmet for extra morale). The clash saw the Spanish arquebusiers utterly decimating the French, killing Louis and pretty much sealed the battle.
    • After utterly wrecking the Spaniards in Ravenna, French commander Gaston de Foix got overconfident and led personally a cavalry charge against what he believed to be an imminently routing block of soldiers, only for the latter to stand firm and kill him on the spot. As Foix was the brain of the whole campaign, it became meaningless without him and their forces had to withdraw.
  • Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba, endorsed placing himself close to the front lines if possible as a mean to have an effective perspective of the battlefield and set an example for their men. His close friend Garcilaso de la Vega also did it, although in his case, in yet another example of how risky this can be if done without care, it was also the cause of his death.
  • Alexander Farnese, one of the Christian leaders during the Battle of Lepanto, led a boarding party himself.
  • During the Battle of Rocroi, French general Louis II de Bourbon led personally a cavalry charge against the Spanish lines, in an insane move that should have got him killed, but which in this case capitalized on the disorganization of the Spanish army under the incompetent Francisco de Melo and effectively managed to break it into two (and almost got Louis himself killed too, as he was peppered by arquebus shots in the process, lost his horse and only survived because his courasse resisted the impacts). Melo himself became an additional, involuntary example of a frontline general when he moved to his own frontlines to escape the rout of his reard guard.
  • Korean Admiral Yi Sun-sin, famous for leading the Korean navy to victory over a Japanese invasion fleet, without losing a single ship, despite being outnumbered more the 10 to 1 at the battle of Myeongnyang, was killed in action during the 1598 Battle Noryang under circumstances remarkably similar to the death of Horatio Nelson. His forces had just routed the Japanese fleet and were in pursuit when he was cut down by an arquebus bullet.
  • Some frontline generals liked to demonstrate this by showing off how much they trusted their men to relieve them of the need to wield a weapon themselves. For instance, it was said of General Hans Joachim von Zieten, Frederick the Great's cavalry leader, that he went through the entire Seven Years' War having to draw his sword in anger exactly once.
  • The 1759 Battle of the Plains of Abraham in the Seven Years War was notable in that the commanding generals of both opposing armies were killed in action. The British Commanding officer, 32-year-old Major General James Wolfe, was hit by multiple musket balls early in the battle. Within seconds of falling to the ground, the men around Wolfe started shouting "They run! They run! See how they run!" Wolfe asked who was running and when he was told it was the French, he said "Now, God be praised, I will die in peace", and then died. Meanwhile the French commanding officer, Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, was wounded by British fire as he retreated with his army and died early the next morning.
  • During the Revolutionary War, George Washington was famous for exposing himself to enemy fire by riding right up behind the front lines during battle. He had two horses killed while he was riding them and had four holes put through his coat. It's frankly a miracle that he wasn't killed. Later he became the first U.S. President to personally command troops on the battlefield during the Whiskey Rebellion.
  • Also during the Revolutionary War, American general Benedict Arnold was wounded in the leg while leading his army to victory at the battle of Saratoga, one of the most important American victories of the war. Arnold's wound was so painful he later said he wished the bullet had struck him in the heart. That certainly would have been a better thing for his legacy. If he had died from his wound, he would likely be remembered as one of the greatest heroes in American history. Instead, he went on to defect to the British and his name would become synonymous with treason.
  • In The Napoleonic Wars, the trope was so common that memoir writers are quick to point those who weren't frontline generals.
    • Napoléon Bonaparte himself always went close to the battlefields of some major battles he participated in. During the invasion of France by the coalition in 1814 he even stepped in to help point artillery at the Austrians, with the Badass Boast "The cannonball that will kill me hasn't been cast yet!".
    • Marshal Joachim Murat led the great charge at the battle of Eylau (1807) wielding a riding-crop instead of a sabre.
    • The Duke of Wellington was this; he was known to be constantly in motion in battle, moving up and down the line. His close proximity to danger (and luck in avoiding injury) is proved at Waterloo, where a great majority of his staff were wounded or killed, though he himself was untouched.
    • Lord Horatio Nelson had a nearly unsustainable lust for personal combat, which would not be reduced by injuries or promotions. In a 1794 battle around the French island of Corsica, at the rank of Captain, Nelson suffered a wound that resulted in him losing sight in his right eye. Three years later, at the rank of rear admiral, Nelson lost his right arm during combat operations near Santa Cruz. He also received a head wound in the 1798 battle of the Nile. In 1805, Nelson finally died while leading his fleet to victory in battle at Trafalgar against a combined fleet of French and Spanish ships during The Napoleonic Wars, shot in the chest by a French sharpshooter.
  • Antonio López de Santa Anna, President of Mexico, famously traveled to Texas to personally take charge of the military's efforts to put down Stephen Austin's rebellion. Of course, had he not done this, the Texan forces would not have been able to capture him at the Battle of San Jacinto and force him to sign the Treaties of Velasco recognizing Texan independence.
  • The American Civil War especially saw a number of these. This was to a large extent due to the fact that both armies were massively expanded compared to the peacetime establishment of the U.S. Army, and in such short a space of time that junior professional officers (i. e. men who up until then had commanded at most a company, troop or battery) and politicians with a bit of pull were appointed generals for lack of viable alternatives. Also, since American regiments on both sides tended to shrink in size because their losses (due to combat and sickness) were insufficiently replaced with new recruits, American brigades tended to be the size of other armies' regiments, meaning that an American Civil War brigade commander — most of the time a general — would de facto be doing the job of a colonelnote 
    • Lieutenant General Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson of the Confederate States of America received his famous moniker at the First Battle of Manassas when Brigadier General Barnard Bee, trying to rally his unit, saw Jackson sitting erect atop his horse in the midst of a barrage of Union gunfire and said the page quote. There's some debate behind the exact meaning of the statement*, however, given that Bee was ironically killed a few minutes later. Stonewall Jackson himself also fell victim to his habit of examining the battle situation with his own eyes, ending up wounded by friendly fire when a North Carolina regiment mistook him for a Union officer in the darkness and confusion towards the end of the battle of Chancellorsville. He subsequently died of pneumonia, a complication of the amputation of his left arm.
    • As noted under film, Longstreet was known for often riding too far forward and coming under fire, which led to him being severely wounded in 1864.
    • Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston was the highest-ranking officer on either side to be killed during the war, when he was mortally wounded personally leading an attack against the Federal positions in the Peach Orchard during the Battle of Shiloh. For the record, Johnston was commander of the entire Confederate Army of Mississippi, a position equal to Lee or Meade at Gettysburg. This was in no small part due to the Confederate practice of handing out general ranks even more easily than the Federal government. A. S. Johnston for instance had been appointed a full general by his friend Jefferson Davis at the beginning of the war; this was one rank above the highest rank given to a Union general throughout the entire warnote . His opposite number at Shiloh, Ulysses Simpson Grant, who commanded the larger army, at the time was just a major-general (two ranks lower).
    • J.E.B. Stuart was mortally wounded personally leading Confederate cavalry at the Battle of Yellow Tavern.
    • More generals were killed and wounded at Gettysburg than in any other engagement of the war, and largely because of this trope. Confederate generals Barksdale, Semmes, Armistead, Garnett, and Pender, and Union generals Reynolds, Zook, Weed, and Farnsworth were all killed in action. Confederate general James Pettigrew would be mortally wounded a few days after the battle during the Confederate retreat, and Union colonel Strong Vincent was promoted to Brigadier General after being mortally wounded defending Little Round Top. Reynolds was the highest-ranking officer killed, while personally directing the deployment of the Iron Brigade (Reynolds actually commanded the entire I Corps). Several other Confederate generals, including John Bell Hood, James Kemper, and Isaac Trimble were wounded leading attacks. Hood was wounded at Devil's Den, while Kemper and Trimble were both hit during Pickett's Charge. Union general Dan Sickles (commander of the III Corps) was wounded and lost his leg leading his own troops in battle while defending the Peach Orchard, while generals Hancock (commander II Corps) and Webb (2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, II Corps) were wounded personally directing their troops in defense of Seminary Ridge during Pickett's assault. Gettysburg was murder on generals.
    • The 1864 Battle of Franklin was the deadliest single day for generals during The Civil War. After just 5 hours of fighting, 6 Generals from the Confederate Army of Tennessee were killed or mortally wounded: Patrick Cleburne, John C. Carter, John Adams, Hiram B. Granbury, States Rights Gist, and Otho F. Strahl. A 7th general, George Gordon, was captured, while 7 more were wounded. One reason for may be Army of Tennessee commander John Bell Hood's angry tirade against his generals the day before the battle for allowing the opposing Union army to slip past their lines in the night and reach the fortifications in Franklin. This may have made the Tennessee army commanders a little over-eager to prove themselves. It didn’t help that the entire battle consisted of the Confederate troops charging uphill frontally at the forces of Generals John Schofield and David Stanley’s Army of the Cumberland, dug in at a chokepoint with extensive fortifications and a river.
    • Union General "Fighting Joe" Hooker averted this trope at Chancellorsville by setting his command center a couple miles behind the lines and using a new type of telegraph to send and receive orders. Unfortunately the aversion backfired: the bumpy ride from garrison knocked the equipment out of alignment and it would only send gibberish, and the resulting communications problems coupled with Hooker suffering a concussion from a near miss by a stray cannonball cost the Union the battle.
    • Confederate Colonel John B Gordon earned himself a promotion to General for his actions at the battle of Antietam, where he continued to lead his men after suffering two shots to his leg, one shot to the arm, and one in the shoulder before finally going down when a bullet passed through his cheek and exited out his jaw. Not only did Gordon survive all these wounds, but he was back in action just a few months later. Despite all these injuries and an additional head wound in 1864, Gordon managed to serve on for the entire duration of the war.
    • Confederate General A. P. Hill, who replaced the previously mentioned Stonewall Jackson after Jackson died in 1863, was killed in action while riding up and down the front of his lines, trying to rally his men. Hill died just one week before the surrender of Lee's army and one month before the end of the war.
  • The Majuba Hill battle of the First Boer War in 1881 shows how spectacularly this can backfire. The British commander at the battle made a series of questionable moves and was both outclassed and routed by the Boer opposition who he had dismissed as a bunch of peasant Dutch farmers with no training. The British Army was forced into broken retreat and lost 50% of its strength killed, wounded or captured. The Boers found the body of Major General Sir George Pomeroy-Colley, where, sure enough, he had resorted to Leading From The Front to try to rally his panicked broken army. Some eyewitnesses who survived suggest he had been leading from the front all along, and had thus been taken in by a flanking Boer action that outmanouevered his troops. Had he been in the rear which is the orthodox position for a commander, he would have been aware of this.
  • To their own intense frustration, these were forced to abandon their ways fast after the first few months of World War I. This was not because they were morons or somehow Lacked Moral Fibre (LMF), but because they wanted to actually be able to receive information from and command their men. Away from a telephone-exchange, the force any one man could receive information from and give orders to within the space of a minute was limited to less than a hundred metres and about that number of men (men spread out to decrease losses from artillery fire). It was not unheard of for it to take twelve hours to physically carry a message across five kilometres of contested battlefield, and if a General wasn't in place to 'phone the artillery up and give them new orders based upon that information as and when he received it, then friendly fire and/or massive losses inevitably ensued. Even then, numerous generals on both sides tried to stick close to the front lines and took according casualties; during the Battle of Loos in 1915 the British Army lost 8 generals in 3 days before they lost so many commanders they had to order them back to the rearlines. Over the course of the war, the French lost approximately 45 generals and the British 80.
  • In World War II, the proliferation of sufficiently reliable, lightweight, and numerous portable radios allowed Generals to become this once more. Above the Corps/Korps (c.20,000-50,000 men) level, however, a Frontline General was decidedly inferior to his rearward counterpart. Fewer staff and means of communication meant a weaker grasp of the overall situation, and overreliance on radio communications could allow the enemy to pinpoint the location of a Frontline General using direction-finding techniques. Well-placed artillery, airpower, and partisan attacks cut short the lives of many an overconfident general too close to battle in that war.
    • The main page picture is of General Erwin Rommel, who frequently got up front to see what was going on and was nearly captured on three different occasions. The last time he tried to reach the front lines was the most egregious: he did so as an Army commander (100,000 men), and a Royal Canadian Air Force fighter strafed his car and seriously wounded him for his folly. He seems to have thought he could get away with it despite having recently lost a Korps commander to just such an attack.
      • This was typical behaviour for Rommel. At the Battle of Arras in May 1940, where the Germans were caught off-guard by an unexpected British attacknote  Rommel was leading from the front, was caught on the wrong side of the British assault, and spent several hours cut off from his command and evading capture. In the meantime his armoured division was mangled by the British assault. Only a lack of co-operation between British and French forces prevented it from being a conclusive Allied victory.
    • During D-Day, two brigadier generals landed with the American forces at Omaha and Utah beaches: Norman Cota and Theodore Roosevelt III, both of whom are credited with rallying the forces on the beaches and pressing the attack inland. Roosevelt, well into his 50s, suffered from arthritis and used a cane at the time, and would die of a heart attack a month later.
      Norman Cota: What outfit is this?
      Army Ranger: Fifth Rangers!
      Cota: Well, God damn it then, Rangers, lead the way!
    • General Maxwell Taylor was the commander of the 101st Airborne Division and jumped alongside his men into Normandy and Eindhoven. He happened to be in America for a conference when the 101st had their finest hour at Bastogne, saying that his absence was his greatest disappointment of the war. His deputy, General Anthony McAuliffe, led the division during the battle, and famously replied to a German demand for surrender with the word "Nuts!"
  • As mentioned above, admirals tended to get engaged in battles more frequently due to specifics of naval warfare, This happened as late as WWII and a number were killed in action:
    • Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, Sr., who was killed at Pearl Harbor when his flagship (the battleship Arizona) was blown apart by a magazine explosion. Decades later, he would later serve as the namesake for the Kidd-class of missile destroyers, which featured improved Anti-aircraft defenses.
      • Kidd-class destroyers were basically the prototypes for Ticonderoga-class cruisers. The same AA armament as the first few Ticos but without the AEGIS system because they were built before AEGIS was available and used an older radar system.
    • Rear Admirals Daniel Callaghan and Norman Scott were both killed in action during the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal; Scott was probably killed by a shell from Callaghan's flagship, the cruiser San Francisco, which was trying to engage an enemy ship on the other side of Scott's own flagship, Atlanta. Callaghan in turn was probably killed when San Francisco dueled with the Japanese battlecruiser Hiei. On the Japanese side, Rear Admiral Hiroaki Abe on the Hiei barely escaped the same fate when his bridge was raked by autocannon fire from the destroyer Laffey, leaving him badly wounded and most of the bridge crew dead.
    • Günther Lütjens died aboard the battleship Bismarck before the ship sunk.
    • Multiple admirals died in World War 2 after choosing to go down with their ships; notably Karel Doorman aboard De Ruyter, Tamon Yamaguchi aboard Hiryu and Seeichi Ito aboard Yamato.
    • Downplayed with Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, Commander-in-Chief of the US Pacific Fleet during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He was at his headquarters as the bombs fell, but by then, he was completely powerless to do anything except watch as his fleet and career literally went up in smoke all around him. A spent shell smashed through the window and struck him, leaving only a dark smudge on his uniform. He then remarked "It would have been merciful had it killed me."
  • In the Português Overseas War, General António de Spínola, Commander-in-Chief of Português Armed Forces in Guiné-Bissau was known for frequently visiting the frontlines.
  • In more recent years: the Western intervention in Yugoslavia in the early 1990s saw a race between NATO and Russian troops to control a strategic airbase. The Russians got there within minutes of the British, who were ordered by the American general officer commanding to capture the airbase, whatever it took. Fortunately the British officer leading from the front was General Jackson, a man with the clout to take the radio, point out to the Yank that odd-numbered world wars tend to begin in Yugoslavia, the next world war would be number three, an odd number, and he wasn't going to go down in history as the man who started World War III for anybody. It is possible a lower-ranking officer might have been intimidated into doing something stupid. The lower-ranking officer in question turned out to be James Blunt.
  • During the September 11 attacks, FDNY Chief Peter J. Ganci Jr. remained at a command post at the World Trade Center, even when it was clear the North Tower would also collapse, and died when debris fell on him. The last thing he said was "I'm not leaving my men."
    • The FDNY also lost its commissioner, marshal, and a total of 23 chiefs of various battalions, divisions, and special departments. Chief Orio Palmer of Battalion 7 perished less than ten minutes after he led a group of firefighters to the 78th Floor Skylobby in the South Tower.
    • Lt. General Timothy Maude was killed when Flight 77 struck the Pentagon. He was the highest ranking US Army officer to be killed by enemy action since Lt. General Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr. at the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.
  • Iran's Qasem Soleimani had a reputation for fighting on the front lines during the War against ISIS in Iraq, a factor that contributed to his celebrity-like image throughout the country. It backfired on him when his notoriety and risk taking led to an American drone strike that killed him.
  • As the Russian invasion of Ukraine amply displays, this is essentially suicide in 21st century combat. Russians have lost a shocking amount of generals in their poorly executed campaign, including a retired Air Force General (Kanamat Botashev, who had actually been forced into retirement after crashing a fighter and was apparently fighting on behalf of Wagner mercenaries) being shot down while flying a fighter plane, and several others becoming targets of snipers. The frontline itself is becoming increasingly blurred and with unmanned vehicles becoming increasingly common, insanely risky missions can be taken with no concern for casualties. This means that any general who pokes out of cover to take a look around risks a guided bomb right on top of their position, or a sniper's bullet.
  • Albanian King Gjergj Kastrioti, better known as Skanderbeg, gained fame as a brilliant commander as well as a powerful fighter during his wars against the Ottoman Turks. Legend holds that he was able to cut a man in half with a single stroke of his sword and killed as many as 3,000 enemy soldiers by his own hand throughout his career. His nickname Skanderbeg, meaning Lord Alexander, is assumed to compare him to the most famous frontline general, Alexander the Great.