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Insane Admiral

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This man is in command of a carrier group...

"I'm proud to say I've written another Insane Admiral. They must put something in the water at Federation Headquarters."
Ronald D. Moore, on his creation of Admiral Pressman for Star Trek: The Next Generation

In fictional military settings, the brass tends to be a bit unstable. Frequently they become so obsessed with their own pet projects that they endanger national security. Other times their brazenness and/or paranoia almost leads to wars breaking out between rival superpowers. They may be a Conspiracy Theorist with authority investigating the heroes, an Obstructive Bureaucrat making hell for the heroes, or they may be covering up for their own wrongdoings. These are the ones most likely to send the heroes on a dubious mission. They could be a General Ripper obsessed with the enemy, or they could be cowards who fear public exposure of their own wrongdoings.

All this insanity might make their organizations look incompetent, but presumably the Insane Admirals are just the ones we see... 95% of the brass in any given organization are probably decent folk, but spend their time rubber-stamping military contracts and attending state functions, and never do anything 45-minute drama-worthy. Please note this applies only to officers who are at command level, no one below the rank of Naval Captain/Army Colonel/Airforce Group Captain applies here, see The Neidermeyer and Sociopathic Soldier for those. If they are also completely incompetent, which may overlap, see General Failure. The trope often overlaps with Overranked Soldier, as obviously crazy people should by rights be removed from the military well before they reach flag rank.

The unfortunate combination of Bad Boss and We ARE Struggling Together. General Ripper is a major Subtrope of this. And see also Kicked Upstairs, which is frequently how they end up getting to be Insane Admirals instead of insane forty-year-old ensigns. For competent brass, see The Brigadier or Reasonable Authority Figure. Senior officers who manage to be both at once fit best under Bunny-Ears Lawyer.

Note that this trope is a Defied Trope in Real Life armed forces, especially in democratic countries and particularly in the modern era where it's less likely that mental instability would go unnoticed. Mentally unstable officers jeopardize the lives of thousands of soldiers and pose a heavy risk to the success of the operations themselves. Mentally unstable officers are usually quickly transferred to non-combat positions or forced into early retirement. In fact, citing mental instability is usually the only legal way for their subordinates to remove a superior officer, specifically because it's so dangerous. None of this necessarily has an impact on competence of the armed forces, of course, which is a different matter.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • All the members of the senior staff fall under this in Fullmetal Alchemist. Justified by the fact that Father needs willing pawns for his plotting, and this collection of megalomaniacs is the best he can come up with. Major General Olivier Armstrong on the other hand sees through Father's empty promise and would rather die fighting alongside her men.
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes mostly revolves around admirals, so it makes sense that it would have its fair share of these guys. Duke Braunschweig, who holds the rank of Fleet Admiral and commands 150,000 warships goes off his rocker after his nephew is killed. He decides to take revenge by bombing the planet his nephew used to rule, killing 2,000,000 people in the process. His second-in-command, Marquis Littenheim panics while losing a battle and confuses his supply ships for enemies, despite his chief of staff telling them who they are. He blasts them to smithereens anyway. Alliance Vice Admiral Willem Holland has some success during a battle. Rather than listening to more experienced fleet commanders, he decides to charge in outpacing his supply line and gets killed for it. Fleet Admiral Lobos accepts a deluded commodore's idea for an invasion of the Empire. The plan doesn't take supply lines into consideration and even after the fleets are starving and/or battered, Lobos refuses to allow them to retreat to their base of operations. The result is that 20 million sailors end up killed.
  • Fittingly, since the Gundam franchise is largely considered to be Star Trek's Japanese counterpart, it contains an equally disproportionate number of high-ranking nutcases:
    • Gihren Zabi of the original Mobile Suit Gundam. He's Zeon's commander-in-chief, a brilliant public speaker and the real power behind his aging father Sovereign Degwin. He's also a megalomaniacal psychopath and Social Darwinist with a fascist philosophy and a limited grasp of what it means to be a human being. This causes him to commit a number of tactical errors later in the series, and he adopts a very "Hitler in the bunker" type attitude by the end.
      • Char Aznable doesn't start out as one of these. In fact, it would be fair to say that in MSG he's about as rational as a man plotting the deaths of all his superiors can be. By the time Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack rolls around, however, this is no longer the case. Totally out of touch with the rest of humanity, and drunk on his own political ideology, he attempts to drop a meteor on the Earth claiming that this will somehow bring about world peace. Privately, he admits that he's "extremely wicked" and is endangering the world solely so that he can gain revenge on Amuro and appease the memory of his late Love Interest, Lalah Sune.
      • Zeon Rear-Admiral Ginias Sahalin of Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team is no picture of mental health. The head of the Apsalus project, his Mommy Issues, combined with his obsessive need to control his sister and claim all the credit for the project causes his mind to deteriorate over the course of the series. By the end, he's an Ax-Crazy maniac who is ready to murder everyone around him, including his sister and all of his researchers, if it means that he gains sole control of the Apsalus III. This, combined with his poor health, has caused some fans to speculate that he has Wilson's Disease, a degenerative neurological condition that often causes schizophrenia-like symptoms. The Federation, on the other hand, has Captain Isan Ryer. When we first meet him, he seems like a nice guy, not laughing at Shiro's idealistic thoughts. However, deep down, he's a man who wants nothing but power and rise up in rank and goes so far as to keep trying to throw troops at Zeon when they find their mountain base in the hopes someone shoots their suit's core so it can go critical and nuke the enemy.
      • There is something in the water at the Zeon command center. Gihren loyalist Colonel Killing from Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket murders his commanding officer and usurps his position, orders a nuclear strike on a colony, and cares nothing for his own troops, deliberately sabotaging a mission in order to gain permission for his nuclear attack.
    • Jamitov Hymem and Bask Om from Zeta Gundam are respectively the commander and field leader of the Titans, the Earth Federation security force that occupies the colonies. Jamitov is an admiral with delusions of grandeur who seeks to gain control of the entire Earth Sphere for himself and plots against civilian leaders and the rest of the brass. Bask is a Colonel Kilgore and General Ripper with a fanatical loathing of all colonials, which stems from his time being tortured in a POW camp during the One Year War. His hatred and brutality are so extreme that madness is really the only explanation that works.
    • Patrick Zala of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED is an utterly paranoid and psychotic General Ripper, with both Abusive Parents and genocidal tendencies, who wants to exterminate every Natural in existence in Revenge for an attack on a ZAFT colony. His right-hand man, Commander Rau Le Creuset is even worse, being an Omnicidal Maniac who's out to get everyone on both sides killed. On the opposing side, we have Captain William Sutherland of the Earth Forces General Staff, who masterminds the use of the Cyclops system against his own men, authorises the use of nuclear weapons against ZAFT, serves as Muruta Azrael's Dragon, and is a card-carrying member of Blue Cosmos, a hate group that seeks the deaths of every last Coordinator.
  • The two admirals from Irresponsible Captain Tylor. Their arguments always end with them trying to kill each other. (But they're really friends.)
  • In One Piece there are two cases of this:
    • Admiral Akainu: Among other things, he destroys a boatload of civilians because one scholar might have slipped on board, he's shown interest in buying and using the incredibly deadly weapons created by Caesar Clown in spite of the fact that they render entire islands uninhabitable, and forcing the soldiers at Marineford to keep fighting at the cost of their lives, even though their main objective had already been completed. And then, to make it worse, he ends up working his way into the position of Fleet Admiral, meaning he's in charge of the entire Navy.
    • Admiral Ryokugyu: In his first introduction, he seems to be laid-back and decent man and he is good friends with Fujitora whom he allowed him to stay at Mariejois despite orders from Akainu. Until in Wano arc, he is revealed to be a fanatic who believes that the World Nobles are gods and nations that didn't join the World Government have no human rights for him to exterminate.
  • Martian Successor Nadesico: Admiral Sadaki Munetake is a very self-centered, egotistical person who cares nothing about the lives of the people below him. To gain favor with the United Earth Forces, he betrayed the Nadesico and tried to hand the ship over to the United Earth Forces, and when that failed, he escaped. Unfortunately, he was spotted by Gai Daigouji during his escape, and immediately shot him, getting the murder filed as "self-defense". Once the Nadesico returned from Mars and agreed to work with the UEF, Munetake was assigned to the Nadesico, and eventually was cornered by Akito about Gai's murder. Munetake tried to defend himself, but the guilt was secretly eating him up inside, until he finally snapped and was killed when he hijacked an experimental aestivalis and overloaded its rail cannon, while trying to attackan ally ship thinking it was of Jovian origin.

    Comic Books 
  • Captain Atom had General Wade Eiling, who conducted the extremely morally dubious experiments that led to the creation of Captain Atom. Later, after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, Eiling sends a military team to salvage the indestructible body of the second Shaggy Man from the Pacific Ocean where he has its body shaved, and he has his brainwaves transferred into the indestructible body.
  • Marvel Comics gives us General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross, whose obsession with capturing the Hulk endangers civilians and, regardless of how reasonable the end result may be, is nothing short of insane. And that's not counting the instances where he actually is insane.
  • Star Trek: Early Voyages: In "Futures, Part One", Captain Pike, Spock, and Dr. Boyce are sent on a secret mission (later revealed to be an undercover mission to the Temazi homeworld in "Thanatos"). Number One is left in command of the Enterprise while Admiral Robert April is assigned as mission commander. In "Thanatos" and "Nemesis", Admiral April seems to be working towards his own agenda which includes provoking conflict with the Klingons when it could potentially be avoided. Sita Mohindas appears to be taking orders directly from him. The reasons for April's behavior are never explained as the series was cancelled before the story arc could be concluded.

    Fan Works 
  • Game of Touhou: Ser Mononobe Futo uses wildfire to strike Murasa's fleet (who herself launches anchors from trebuchets). Due to the highly explosive nature of wildfire, she destroys the opposing fleet and most of her own fleet, and she's rescued by Gengetsu.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now goes AWOL and attempts to set himself up as a god among a group of locals.
  • Colonel Quaritch in Avatar shoots at anyone who non-lethally leaves his faction, and he goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the protagonist after his plans have been completely foiled.
  • The Charge of the Light Brigade depicts the British military in the Crimean War this way: Lord Raglan, the senile commander-in-chief who thinks he's still fighting the Napoleonic Wars; Lord Lucan, the short-tempered cavalry commander; and most especially the explosive, egomaniacal Lord Cardigan.
  • Rear Admiral Graham in Down Periscope goes from a "mere" asshole to this, as Dodge keeps beating him in the wargame. Not only does Graham consider Dodge and his entire crew unfit for his perfect US Navy, he will happily cheat in order to win a game, whose purpose is to determine how vulnerable the US is to a rogue sub attack (i.e. he's putting personal pride and career over his duty). It's very satisfying when Vice Admiral Winslow chews him out at the end and tells him he can forget about his promotion.
  • From Dr. Strangelove, General Jack D. Ripper and his conspiracy theories about fluoridation and "precious bodily fluids" that lead him to launch a nuclear attack on Russia of his own volition, is the most spectacular example. General Buck Turgidson, while much more grounded than Ripper, still has a tendency to let enthusiasm and Patriotic Fervor overwhelm his common sense.
  • Played for Laughs in Hot Shots! with Admiral Benson, an amicable kook who tries to order the whole fleet to turn around and go back when his Admiral's hat blows off while on deck.
  • In Little Big Man, as well as the novel it's based on, George Armstrong Custer is portrayed as a monomaniac whose delusional self-confidence blinds him to the very possibility of defeat.
  • Subverted in Mars Attacks!: General Decker seems like a raging whacko, but he turns out to be right about the Martians from start to finish and ends up, more or less, a Doomed Moral Victor. (He's still wrong about how to beat them, though.)
  • There are several characters who could qualify in Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In The Avengers (2012), Loki used the army that Thanos gave him to try and conquer Earth. In contrast to the more calculating way he carried out his plans during Thor, he was more Ax-Crazy and egotistical in this movie, which likely led to his defeat. The World Security Council could also qualify, as they unleashed a nuclear weapon on New York to wipe out the alien army without trying any other options, like sending in the military to help the Avengers or aiming the weapon at the alien ship in the first place.
    • Hela from Thor: Ragnarok, who kills nearly everyone who tries to oppose her including the entire army she wanted to lead. By the time the film ends, Asgard's population is reduced to a couple hundred civilian refugees, all because she couldn't accept that they didn't want her as their queen.
    • General Ross, just like in the comics. His obsession with containing people he considers dangerous reached a new low in Avengers: Infinity War when he ordered Rhodey to arrest some of the Avengers while they were trying to stop an alien invasion.
    • Thanos, himself, counts, seeing as he ordered his armies to wipe out half the life on every world he conquered, apparently convinced that doing so would help whoever was left.
  • Played for laughs with retired Admiral Boom in Mary Poppins as he likes to fire off a cannon every morning from the roof of his home in suburban London.
  • Mohawk: Colonel Holt, assuming you accept his rank as legitimate (which is dubious as he bestowed it on himself after Colonel Hawkes was killed). Of borderline sanity before he assumed command, he quickly slips into paranoia and bloodlust through the strain of the trek through the hostile wilderness. He refuses to listen to advice and makes multiple bad calls that get his men killed until he is the only one left.
  • Star Trek films:
    • Even Kirk veered towards this trope in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock — technically he did steal valuable Federation property to go to restricted space in order to complete a pet project, it just happened to be the right thing to do and a rather reasonable pet project.
      • Kirk had already dipped his toe into those waters in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, where after seizing command of the Enterprise from Captain Decker based on fairly dubious reasoning, he ignores Scotty's warnings about the untested warp drive and nearly destroys the ship inside a wormhole. Only after Decker and Bones call him out to his face does he start acting like himself again.
    • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: Several Federation and Klingon brass conspired to assassinate each other's heads of government to keep their Forever War going.
    • Star Trek: Insurrection: Admiral Dougherty is conspiring with an enemy power to remove an indigenous population from its homeworld in order to gain access to valuable resources. Possibly a subversion, since he was acting under direct orders from the Federation Council and tried to back out when things turned nasty. (Later EU material stated that Dougherty was in fact a member of Section 31.)
    • Star Trek Into Darkness: In grand Trek tradition, Admiral Marcus is one. He deliberately revived Khan in order to exploit his brutality and created a number of terrible weapons systems with his help. Marcus planned to start an "inevitable" war against the Klingons preemptively. He even went so far as to secretly build himself the Vengeance, an unmarked, black starship twice the size of the Enterprise and designed purely for combat. He had no compunction about murdering loyal Starfleet officers in cold blood.
  • A plot point in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Admiral Nelson comes up with a Crazy Enough to Work plan to avert The End of the World as We Know It. After most of the other UN scientists dismiss his plan an insane, he takes off in the Seaview and—after being unable to contact the President of the United States—decides to carry out his plan on his own authority. Things become increasingly tense as the world faces destruction, UN submarines are sent to hunt them, the crew are mutinous, The Captain is questioning the admiral's command decisions, someone sabotages the generator, and the admiral receives a typewritten death threat. The psychiatrist then raises the possibility that the admiral is suffering delusions and might have written the threat and carried out the sabotage himself to reinforce his persecution mania, in which case his plan to save the world is crazy enough NOT to work.

  • This is the default mindset for Yeerk Vissers in Animorphs, most of whom are shown to be motivated more by their personal agendas rather than military objectives. The standout is Visser Three (later Visser One), the Big Bad of the entire series. A dim-witted egomaniac with an unquenchable thirst for violence and a questionable grip on reality, Visser Three finds every excuse he can to butcher his own subordinates, spends the rest of his time playing politics with his superiors, and reacts to defeat like an angry child. His fanatical subordinate, Visser Two, is even more crazed, if that's possible to imagine. He also gets bonus points for taking an actual admiral as his host.
    • Interestingly, Visser Three actually shows far more effectiveness, restraint, and... well, sanity, in the prequel Chronicles books. He gets a narrating role in The Hork-Bajir Chronicles in which he's downright the Only Sane Man among the Yeerks invading the Hork-Bajir homeworld.
    • Subverted by the original Visser One, who seems to have taken Esplin's role as the Only Sane Man in the Yeerk Empire in the present day.
  • Area 51: General Gullick, Area 51's commanding officer in the first book, at first just seems like a very harsh, straight-edged military man involved with nefarious dealings. However, we see increasingly that he's not just bad, but mentally unstable, and grows more so as the novel goes on. It's shown to be a result of the alien computer affecting him. He dies at the end when it's destroyed.
  • Captain Queeg in The Caine Mutiny, both the original novel and the Film of the Book. His bizarre behavior eventually causes a subordinate to relieve him of command.
  • Some of the admirals in Crest of the Stars are a little off their rockers. Specifically, there's Admiral Spoor, who rejoices in the nickname "The Lady of Chaos", and Admiral Bibauth, who desperately tries to distance himself from the family nickname "The Beautiful Madness" and in the process makes himself look even worse. They are fortunately both fairly competent and aided by competent subordinates but definitely considered rather eccentric.
  • The Drowned Cities: Colonel Glenn Stern of the United Patriotic Front is a Knight Templar madman who believes he is saving America (something he barely understands the concept of) by chopping off the hands and feet of those he takes prisoner and turning children into Child Soldiers. His archrival General Sachs of the Army of God is implied to be just as crazy, as are the leaders of Taylor's Wolves, Tulane Company, the Freedom Militia, and all the other groups in the story.
  • The Flashman novels generally give this view of 19th-century British brass. Lord Raglan (his commander in the Crimea) and Major General Elphinstone ("Elphy Bey", his commander in Afghanistan) are portrayed as basically senile, while the British aristocracy that produced the Empire's generals is as eccentric as in any other literary portrayal.
  • Cold War black comedy Hullo Russia, Goodbye England revisits the character of Air Commodore "Baggy" Bletchley. It is revealed this senior Royal Air Force officer went sand-happy in North Africa and in a manner worthy of Graham Chapman's Brigadier in Monty Python's Flying Circus, he apparently took to wearing womens' clothing and calling himself "Florence of Arabia". Chapman's Brigadier was a severely pompous senior British officer from the waist up, who wore women's clothing from the waist down.
  • Most of the military high command in Jack Ryan novels are reasonable and intelligent people. However, every so often, a crazy person shows up. Of particular note is Captain Harry Ricks, who takes command of the USS Maine, a nuclear missile submarine, and runs such an incredibly strict and unbending ship that he is universally hated by his crew. When he's politely confronted by his executive officer about his less than stellar reputation among the crew, Ricks contemptuously brushes off the concerns, and when Ricks' commanding officer finds out about the morale problem and tries to help him with it, Ricks completely dismisses the concerns in a borderline insubordinate way.note  His commanding officer decides on the spot that Ricks will never get another promotion, but Ricks is killed for unrelated reasons at the end of the story.
  • Captain Sawyer from the Horatio Hornblower books is a highly decorated hero, and Hornblower is initially excited to serve under him, but disappointed to find that Sawyer is a brutally cruel paranoiac, always convinced that mutiny is only a breath away. With the ship's doctor unwilling to declare the captain mentally unsound, which he obviously is, Hornblower has no choice but to begin plotting a real mutiny.
  • In The Lost Fleet the degredation of military training during the Forever War means that most officers were promoted based on a mix of political ability and percieved agressiveness which leads to a number of admirals having questionable abilities. In particular Admiral Otropa and a number of other admirals supported the creation of the Dark Ships, a fleet of AI controlled ships which went rogue and starting attacking friendly systems.
  • Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex features the Greek General Hajianestis as a minor character. Commanding Greek forces in the Turkish War for Independence, he thinks that his legs are made of glass and that they'll shatter if he stands up. Amazingly enough, Hajianestis was a real person, though some historians suggest he was more incompetent than insane.
  • From A Song of Ice and Fire we have... just about any fleet commander of any note of the Ironborn at any point in history. The Iron Isles openly prides itself on what is considered Blue-and-Orange Morality (or just downright nuts) by everybody else in Westeros, and, in battle, this often translates to having some very... interesting... hit-and-run "tactics". As. Standard. (It's telling that the one ruling family who tried very hard not to follow this template alone are not exactly held in the highest regard: all of the Hoares have been given terrible sobriquets indicating just how little their subjects liked them for, you know, trying to use more boringly sane things like overarching strategy, diplomacy, outside marriage ties, governance and trade over things like just more random raiding and extortion.) However, when the Rape, Pillage, and Burn works, it really, really works (mainly because, despite everything, the Ironborn know how to sail better than anybody). When it doesn't, it goes very badly (doesn't matter how good you are at maneuvering in shallow waters if you're both bonkers and trying to go too far inland without changing things up: Sanity Has Advantages). Now, if you want arguably the most insanely dangerous Ironborn fleet leader of recent memory? Try Euron Greyjoy on for size. He's absolutely, unabashedly, and bloodthirstily nuts by Ironborn standards, let alone anybody else's. And, more Ironborn houses than you'd be comfortable with actually support him for this, in a dreaded kind of way. It's no great prediction to say that this is not going to go well. Which is exactly how Euron likes it. For others.
  • Star Trek:
    • Admiral Rittenhouse in the Star Trek novel, Dreadnought!. He commissioned the titular warship and named it Star Empire, and if that doesn't tell you where he stood on things, nothing will. His goal was to protect the Federation from its enemies was to overthrow the civilian government and establish a military dictatorship. It was so bad for Starfleet's reputation, that a later novel by the same author used it as a major reason Kirk was more or less forced to accept promotion to Admiral as he was something of a living legend by the end of the five-year mission.
    • In Star Trek: Serpents among the Ruins, Admiral Aventeer Vokar is the Romulan Arch-Enemy of Captain John Harriman of the USS Enterprise-B. While Vokar doesn't fit this trope, the main plot of the novel involves portraying him as one while setting up the now-infamous Tomed Incident, in which Vokar's flagship Tomed performed a suicide run at a Federation sector and deliberately destabilized its quantum singularity while at high warp. The resulting Earth-Shattering Kaboom destroyed a number of outposts and a Federation starship, costing the lives of tens of thousands of Federation citizens. However, this was actually a Starfleet Intelligence operation, involving Harriman, to infiltrate the Tomed and set up the suicide run, while the outposts and the Federation starship were actually empty. The only casualties of the operation were Vokar himself and his crew. The entire operation was meant to put the Klingons on the side of the Federation in its Space Cold War with the Romulans. It works, and the Romulans end up withdrawing and closing their borders until the Next Generation era.
    • Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations has a downplayed version with Admiral Antonio Delgado, who is very obsessive about working out how time travel works, believing it's Because Destiny Says So. Fortunately, he never goes too far, but once it's clear he's nearly pissed off an incredibly advanced race with his antics, he takes the blame and is quietly retired.
    • In the novel The Autobiography of James T. Kirk Admiral Heihachiro Nogura - who was treated as a Reasonable Authority Figure in other expanded universe works - is presented here as someone who had to be forced out of his role as head of Starfleet due to his planning a preemptive invasion of the Klingon Empire.
    • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation Relaunch novels, previously Reasonable Authority Figure William Ross was retconned first into a reluctant ally of Section 31, and then further into one of its main organic operatives until his arrest and death at the hands of a surviving spouse of one of the Section's victims.
    • Star Trek: Coda: William Riker becomes this, fanatically pursuing Picard owing to the effects of temporal psychosis.
  • Star Wars Legends isn't short of crazy senior military officers. The vast majority are in the employ of the various Sith-run empires throughout history, but that isn't surprising given the Sith not only bring their own level of crazy to anything they get involved in but encourage it in others.
    • Admiral Natasi Daala in the Jedi Academy Trilogy. She returns in the Fate of the Jedi series as a crazy head of state. It's eventually revealed that she suffered from a traumatic brain injury decades earlier and never fully recovered, which explains a lot.
    • Most of the various Warlords that broke away from the Empire following the Emperor's death in ROTJ tended to be a bit extra crazy as well. A bunch of them get out-crazied by Daala who gets them all to a peace summit and then gases them to death when they can't come together to present a unified front. ironically, this ends up ensuring the Imperial Remnant's survival, as by the end of that particular crisis its leadership ends up in the hands of Admiral Pellaeon, the Imperial Only Sane Man par excellence.
  • Admiral Bell in Varney the Vampire, while protective of his family and a generally decent guy, acts like a complete lunatic in most situations.
  • Vorkosigan Saga:
    • Shards of Honor features Vice-Admiral Ges Vorrutyer, who combines dangerous military adventurism with a brutally manipulative attitude to his companions' lives, and in his spare time is a serial rapist.
    • General Metzov is so obsessed with people respecting his authority that he dragoons trainees who aren't even in his chain of command to supervise the torture/murder of subordinates for refusing to enter a biohazard zone to try to recover spilled chemical weapons when they can be safely destroyed without endangering anyone's lives.
    • A more benevolent example is Admiral Miles Naismith, especially in the early books such as Vor Game, when his own crew call him Mad Miles.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 'Allo 'Allo!: Those Wacky Nazis, with any officer above the rank of Colonel really (resident cast members are Colonel Von Strom and General Von Clinkerhoven). Again, the insanity is Played for Laughs.
  • The Amazing Extraordinary Friends: General Quarters in "Attack of the Atomic Bombshell", who sees nothing wrong with planning to nuke City Central to stop the Bombshell. Leads to this exchange:
    Captain X: You're mad, aren't you?
    General Quarters: (gleefully) Completely insane!
  • Blackadder Goes Forth: General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay "Insanity" Melchett, whose determination to move his drinks cabinet six inches closer to Berlin inspired many a "Big Push". They also mock Field Marshal Haig's stance of We Have Reserves by depicting him nonchalantly sweeping model soldiers up with a dustpan after hearing about such a push failing, as depicted on Armchair Military.
  • Doctor Who:
    • General Carrington in "The Ambassadors of Death". A tragic example, he saw his crewmates unintentionally killed by the Ambassadors. This drove him insane, and he honestly believed he was acting in the Earth's best interest by destroying the Ambassadors, unknowing of the dire consequences this would unleash.
    • In "The Ribos Operation", the Graf Vynda-K is the perfect example.
    • In "The Armageddon Factor", the Marshal of Atrios is another fine example, obsessed with achieving victory in an interplanetary war with Zeos, which has so far devastated Atrios to the point that its surface is virtually uninhabitable due to the radiation fallout.
    • In "The Curse of Fenric", Commander Millington is insanely paranoid about the Soviets. Once things really hits the fan, he isolates the base so no one can countermand his orders, and joyfully attempts to help Fenric spread his destruction across the world.
  • While Admiral Souther of The Expanse is an honorable man and a Reasonable Authority Figure, his colleague Admiral Nguyen is a complete nutcase and a General Ripper par excellence. Throughout the series, he is quick to insist that anything strange going on is just Mars getting ready to attack Earth, and the only possible solution is to destroy Mars. He eventually reveals the full depths of his madness during his final on-screen speech. Nguyen reveals his Fantastic Racism, saying that he doesn't even consider the people who have colonized Mars and the asteroid belt human anymore, comparing them all to insects and saying that they need to be wiped out accordingly. He attempts to do just that, ordering over a hundred human-protomolecule hybrids fired towards Mars, a force that likely would have directly resulted in hundreds of millions of deaths if they had actually reached Mars, and might have rendered all of Mars uninhabitable due to contamination from the protomolecule.
  • Bialar Crais of Farscape is a frothing lunatic who drops everything and starts wasting Peacekeeper resources and troops so that he can have his revenge on Crichton for killing his brother, something that was blatantly an accident. He gets better after being placed in the Aurora Chair, which causes him to become far more personable and reasonable, albeit still dangerous.
  • Game of Thrones: Euron Greyjoy is an Ax-Crazy maniac who relishes bloodshed, whether it's the blood of his enemies or allies, and he leads the fleet of the Iron Islands, the strongest fleet in all of Westeros.
    • House of the Dragon: Corsair Craghas "The Crabfeeder" Drahar leads the fleet and troops of the Triarchy of the Free Cities and his infamous cruelty (crucifying sailors who surrender and have crabs eat them alive) ends up counter-productive as it draws the attention of House Velaryon and Daemon Targaryen against his activities.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street: "Control" centers around Bayliss and Pembleton investigating the murder of the family of a high-ranking officer in the U.S. Navy. Bayliss eventually realizes that the officer killed them himself because his ex-wife wanted to get back together after their divorce, further disrupting his sense of control over his life.
  • Horatio Hornblower: Captain Sawyer from this Mini Series adaptation, expertly played by David Warner. His case is Played for Drama. He starts as viciously critical and unjust, continues to be extremely paranoid, and ends up genuinely, tragically mad. His lieutenants are in an unenviable position, especially when the ship's surgeon is the captain's friend, an alcoholic and unwilling to pronounce him unfit for command. Whatever steps they consider to take would be ultimately a mutiny.
  • Kamen Rider V3 has Destron military commander Marshal Yoroi. Shocker may have had some nasty executives, but Yoroi is downright crazy. He positively revels in torturing and maiming people in the name of the organization he serves and displays the corpses of his victims as a means of inspiring fear.
  • The Last Ship has Season 1 Big Bad Admiral Konstantin Ruskov, who has delusions of using the cure for the Red Flu to create a new world order, and has no problem shooting his own men to make a point. He even forces his XO — his own brother — to be a guinea pig for the cure at gunpoint, even when there's a good chance it won't work and he'll die.
  • M*A*S*H: Major General Bartford Hamilton Steele from the episode "The General Flipped at Dawn". He is promoted at the end to boot, after dancing a jig to 'The Mississippi Mud' out of a court-martial. On rare occasions, his lookalike Potter showed signs of a crazy edge — but considering the camp he ran, he can be forgiven.
  • Mission: Impossible: In "Submarine" from the revival series, the IMF have to stop a U.S. Navy admiral who sank one of his own subs as a demonstration of a weapons system he was planning to sell on the black market. He did this because he felt betrayed by the government conducting weapon limitation talks with the Russians, which stopped his computer virus attack system from ever going into production.
  • The Orville: Admiral Perry, who commits treason to ensure the total destruction of an enemy species.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "Gettysburg", Colonel Angus Devine is suffering from severe viral meningitis, which causes his behavior to become increasingly unstable as the Battle of Gettysburg progresses.
  • The Professionals. In "Lawson's Last Stand", a Lieutenant Colonel goes insane after his maneuvers fail disastrously due to a simulated nerve gas attack. He steals a couple of canisters of nerve gas that the British government is not supposed to have and issues his demands: three chemical warfare research establishments blown up, two million pounds wired to his Swiss Bank Account, and the National Anthem played on Radio 2, on the hour, every hour. Forever.
  • Revolution: Bass Monroe is an unhinged military dictator of the Monroe Republic (formerly the northeastern US and parts of Canada). As the show goes on, it becomes a Deconstructed Trope, with loyal officers Mile Matheson (revealed to have been one in No Quarter) and Tom Neville (occurred in The Song Remains the Same) betraying him, because he would have had them killed. His paranoia and insanity cause a lot of competent officers to be killed off, including Colonel John Faber (Ties That Bind), a militia captain who worked under Neville (The Night the Lights Went Out In Georgia), and Jeremy Baker, who calls him out on his behaviour before his death in The Longest Day. In fact, by the The Dark Tower, Tom Neville takes over the Monroe Republic and Bass Monroe is left to run off on his own.
  • Star Trek: You thought the movies were bad? Starfleet seems to be rotten to its core!
    • Star Trek: The Original Series:
      • Commodore Matt Decker from "The Doomsday Machine" is driven mad after watching the titular machine kill his entire crew, and commandeers the Enterprise in a vain attempt to destroy it. When that proves unsuccessful, he commits suicide, flying a shuttlecraft into it. That was an attempted Taking You with Me though.
      • Captain Tracey of the USS Exeter from "The Omega Glory" violates the prime directive and helps kill a great many Kohms after losing his entire crew and believing he found the fountain of youth on Omega IV. Prior to finding the Exeter Kirk remarks that Tracey is one of the most experienced officer in the fleet. It was not established if Tracey was always unstable or if the trauma of losing his entire crew pushed him over the edge.
      • In "The Deadly Years", with Kirk and the rest of the Enterprise senior staff incapacitated, Commodore Stocker (who wears a red shirt, indicating he's a flag officer from the operations division) takes command of the Enterprise, despite explicitly having no command experience whatsoever, and orders the ship into the Romulan Neutral Zone, in violation of treaty and against Starfleet regulations. The Romulans immediately attack the Enterprise, to the surprise of nobody but himself; Sulu, Uhura, and even Chekov (a greenhorn ensign who's only been on the bridge for half a season) all express incredulity at his complete inability to comprehend the situation, indicating that any of them would have done better at the conn than he did.
      • Garth of Izar from "Whom Gods Destroy", a former Starfleet Fleet Captain who develops megalomania and becomes a Galactic Conqueror! Wound up in an asylum on Elba II.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      Joe Ford: As soon as Admiral Brackett beams onto the Enterprise, Picard should clap her in irons. I don't think he's ever met an Admiral that isn't corrupt in some way and he should nip her plans in the bud before she has a chance to put them in motion. Oh... she's as innocent as she seems? Egg on my face.
      • Admiral Jameson from "Too Short a Season" violated the Prime Directive by providing weapons to the leader of one side of a war in exchange for the Federation hostages he was holding, only to provide weapons to the other side in an attempt to maintain the balance of power. Granted, he was only a captain at the time, but decades later, the now-retired and infirm admiral takes a massive overdose of a de-aging drug in order to be strong enough to face his former adversary again, in what turns out to be a revenge plot against Jameson for having helped perpetuate that war.
      • Retired Admiral Norah Satie from "The Drumhead" ruthlessly investigates the crew of the Enterprise-D, believing that there is a traitor among them. When her investigation proves fruitless, she becomes rather unhinged, causing the saner admiral presiding over the events to excuse himself immediately and halt the investigation.
      • Admiral Kennelly from "Ensign Ro" conspires with Cardassians to attempt an assassination of a Bajoran terrorist, blind to the fact that there was no way the man could have committed the crime he is accused of.
      • Admiral Pressman from "The Pegasus" conducted secret, dangerous, and illegal tests involving a Federation cloaking device and lied to other officers about it. Like Jameson, he was a captain at the time of the initial tests, but as an admiral, he wants to start them up again. (He happens to be the admiral that Ron Moore is talking about in the page quote above.) Although it's worth noting that he did have a point about the Treaty of Algeron (which let the Romulans keep their cloaking devices while the Federation gave the technology up) putting Starfleet at a serious disadvantage.
      • TNG has one shining aversion in the shape of recurring character Admiral Nechayev, who is a warhawk who will do what it takes to ensure Federation security. However, coming from that baseline, all her actions make sense, and plot-wise she functions more as Da Chief to Picard's Cowboy Cop than anything else.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • In "Paradise Lost", Admiral Leyton convinces the Federation President to declare martial law on Earth, carefully maneuvering his way into launching a Military Coup. He is the Knight Templar General Ripper type. This even includes setting up two starships to fight each other to keep one of them from exposing him and his plans.
      • Subverted by Admiral Nechayev, who agrees to insane concessions as part of a Dominion peace treaty that would make the Federation a de facto Dominion client state, in exchange for Dominion help in staving off (read: wiping out) the Romulans. It turns out this is part of a Dominion simulation to see how far the DS9 crew would go to oppose such an arrangement. Turns out, pretty far. In her only other (as in, real) appearance on DS9, she's at worst clueless regarding the scope of the Maquis objections to the Federation's dealings with the Cardassians.
      • Admiral William Ross in the later seasons presents Starfleet's brass in a better light. As a big part of the Dominion War Arc, he practically becomes part of the Deep Space Nine crew, and the audience gets to know and trust him. And yet, even Ross is not above collaborating with Section 31, a quasi-legal black ops organization that defends the Federation by betraying everything it claims to hold dear, though he's clearly not happy about it and is only doing so because he's tired of watching people die in the war.
    • Star Trek: Voyager: Even future Admiral Janeway gets into this in the Grand Finale "Endgame", pulling an extremely risky, not to mention highly illegal, bit of history-rewriting to ensure everyone gets home. Then again, thanks to inconsistent writing, there were already certain questions about Janeway's stability.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise averts this for Starfleet; the admirals tend to be Beleaguered Bureaucrats at worst, and are often more reasonable about a given situation than Captain Archer. Admiral Forrest, for example, may be the most rational and supportive flag officer in the franchise.
    • Star Trek: Discovery:
      • While Katrina Cornwell thankfully isn't quite this, she does get dangerously close to this territory when the Federation is on the brink of defeat and she approves the mission to bomb Qo'noS into oblivion, only seeing sense when Burnham points out that abandoning Starfleet principles for the sake of survival was the exact mistake she made when she committed mutiny.
      • A more straight example is Patar, a logic extremist who heads Section 31 and is adamant that Spock be captured, no matter the evidence that he did not commit murder escaping from Starbase 5. However, it later turns out that Control, the AI that Section 31 uses for decision making, murdered Section 31 High Command, including Patar, because it had developed a Skynet complex, so perhaps the real Patar wasn't quite as insane as Control's puppet.
      • Averted in the case of the 32nd century Starfleet C-in-C Charles Vance, who largely comes across as a Reasonable Authority Figure trying to keep what's left of Starfleet and the Federation together, then keeping things stable as both begin to recover in the late 32nd century. He once admitted to Saru that as a young officer he made a lot of bad calls but learned from his mistakes, and that helped him become a better leader over time.
    • Star Trek: Picard gives us Admiral Clancy and Commodore Oh:
      • The latter is a Romulan spy who is prepared to bring the galaxy to the brink of war, not to mention get millions if not billions of her fellow Romulans killed through the mass Murder by Inaction the Attack on Mars resulted in, in order to prevent any robots being built, because she belongs to a cabal of religious fanatics who think Romulan mythology proves robots to be apocalypse-bringing demons. The only reason any of her nonsense is correct, specifically the "apocalypse-bringing" part, is because her genocidal actions made them desperate; even then, the more gruesome parts of the story of Ganmadan don't gel with the robotic nature of the ch'kalagu stand-ins, and the supposed "Destroyer" backs down once it becomes clear she and her brethren are no longer in danger.
      • Admiral Clancy is presented as this, but turns out to be an aversion. When a retired Admiral who left Starfleet under less-than-amicable terms comes to her office with a far-fetched story about Romulan spies and the daughter of his long-dead android crewmate, presumptuously requesting his old job back so he can go on his personal quest despite having no concrete evidence to justify doing so, only days after shit-talking Starfleet on the news, she understandably shuts him down. And then contacts the head of Starfleet Security to start an official investigation of Picard's claims, out of "an excess of caution". She had no way of guessing that the head of Starfleet Security, Commodore Oh, was not only a Romulan spy but an AI-hating fanatic who was willing to hamper an evacuation of her own homeworld to prevent robots from being built. When Picard contacts her again later with considerably more evidence for his claims, Clancy readily dispatches a squadron of ships to help him, telling him this in the same breath she tells him to shut the fuck up.

  • Played for Laughs in The Navy Lark with a parade of insane Vice-Admirals and Commodores over the years. However, the actual Admiral in charge, while being a bit out of date and overbearing, was more often than not a Benevolent Boss and on more than one occasion the Only Sane Man.
    • That, and his alcoholism dulls his interest in what's actually going on...
    • Varied by episode, really. On at least one occasion - well into the 1970s - he was portrayed as not knowing that World War Two had ended.

  • French Fries in Dino Attack RPG. Where to begin? Remaining completely oblivious to the mounting tension between the two sides, he escalated what was once a debate between realists and idealists to whole new levels of violence (and didn't get punished until long after it was over). His favorite strategy is to send the men out of Dino Attack Headquarters walking very slowly toward a hoard of mutant dinosaurs. He tried to murder a Half-Human Hybrid who was working with the team for no reason other than being a hideous abomination, and he proudly boasted about killing one of the commanding elite agents' tamed mutant dinosaurs.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Many occasionally appear in BattleTech: a good example is Khan Raina Montose of Clan Ice Hellion; she lead the Clan in their invasion of Clan Jade Falcons occupation zone. She orders her Clan to push on their invasion even though their supply lines have been intercepted by the Falcons.
  • Pathfinder: Szuriel, Horseman of War, and Angel of Desolation is what happens when you combine the worst traits of a General Ripper and a Colonel Kilgore with Psycho for Hire, We Have Reserves, War God, and Demon Lords and Archdevils. It isn't pretty.
  • These turn up from time to time in Warhammer.
  • Many if not nearly all the officers of the Imperial Guard in Warhammer 40,000. Inquisitors (especially Radicals) also fit the description.
    • It's actually kind of hard to tell when one is insane or just ruthless. While individual regiments may differ, standard Imperial Guard policy is that the life of a soldier is worth less than the weapon he was carrying. "Losses are acceptable; failure is not".
    • The prevalence of this trope in 40k is beautifully illustrated in the Gaunt's Ghosts novel The Guns of Tanith, which introduces Lord General Van Voytz. Van Voytz is reasonable, personable, and actually appreciates the talents of Gaunt and the Tanith...and a later chapter opens with a quote from Gaunt about how he doesn't know how to deal with the fact Van Voytz isn't a total bastard.
    • Orks and Chaos only avoid this kind of thing because the only difference between the violently unhinged commanders and the rest of their forces is rank.

    Video Games 
  • In Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, Captain Matias Torres, the CO of the submersible carrier Alicorn, goes rogue along with his crew, whom he has indoctrinated into serving him with absolute loyalty and devotion after spending two years stranded at the bottom of the ocean when the Alicorn’s shakedown cruise went awry. In the process, Torres steals two Erusean nuclear warheads with the intent to use them to destroy the Osean capital city of Oured, ostensibly to force both nations to cease hostilities. In truth, the goal is an excuse for Torres to massacre millions of people in order to satisfy his bloodlust.
  • Admiral Greyfield (Sigismundo in the Europe version) in Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. Hoo boy, name a blunder or atrocity and he's probably done it. He hoards supplies, lives luxuriously (and this even extends to his CO power which dumps excess supplies on his units), jingoistically treats his enemies like animals, treats his own men as expendable and threatens to have them hanged at the slightest infraction ("I'll see you hanged for this!" is even his catchphrase), at a time when both resources and human lives are precious. The only reason the heroes even put up with him is because they want to end the war with Lazuria as soon as possible to minimize bloodshed (a concern Greyfield doesn't share). Greyfield then actively sabotages Brenner's Wolves in one mission when they start to upstage him by prohibiting the use of random unit classes every turn (which can completely shut down your strategy if your forces aren't diverse enough). We'd go on, but he only gets worse from there and a full account of his crimes would cover half the page in spoilers.
  • Godzilla Unleashed has Admiral Gyozen go insane due to exposure to Spacegodzilla's crystals, exacerbating his already irrational hatred of the kaiju. He realizes it but then decides to attack anyway. Even without the crystal on board his ship, he was still off his rocker due to seeing an Unknown Rival in the Big G. Meanwhile, the King of the Monsters just wants to protect his turf.
  • You can become one in KanColle: farming Isuzu, grabbing her radar units once you've raised her enough, and feeding her to other ships over and over again? Check. Disassembling or feeding on your fleet girls when they're not the one you wanted or you got bored of them? Check. If you are harsh enough, you can tire your ships under enemy fire just to risk their lives for victories. Your main ship / secretary ship cannot be sunk. And for the other ships? When they are sunk, they are Killed Off for Real. And don't forget they are young girls.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, both Darth Malak and Admiral Saul Karath could qualify, though Malak is the significantly more unbalanced of the two. He used to be a war hero who was presumably competent enough to become almost as influential as Revan, but by the time of the game, his tactical abilities seem to have severely eroded due to being Drunk on the Dark Side. At the beginning of the game, he destroys an entire planet to prevent one person from escaping his blockade, and fails to evacuate all of his troops before he does so. By the time he is killed, he has destroyed three planets (and killed most of their citizens) by completely bombing their surfaces. Admiral Karath earns this title for obeying Malak's orders and then justifying his actions as the normal loss of life during war.
  • Admiral Han'Gerrel from Mass Effect is of the General Ripper type, while his colleague Admiral Daro'Xen is this combined with Mad Scientist.
    • How bad is it? In one route, they literally end up causing the EXTINCTIONS OF THE QUARIAN RACE...through declaring war against the Geth, who would have surrendered if they literally had just asked.
  • In Shogo: Mobile Armor Division, your CO, Admiral Akkaraju, plans to use the Kato cannon against Avernus, disobeying High Command. In one of the two paths offered in the game, you can choose to stop him.
  • The Valuan admiralty of Skies of Arcadia has a problem with this. Admirals Galcian, Ramirez, and De Loco are all nuts (and evil), while Alfonso is incompetent (and evil) and Vigoro is... eccentric (and not so much evil as amoral). Small wonder the only two competent, sane admirals come off as the sympathetic villains of the lot...
  • Even in video games Star Trek doesn't escape. In Star Trek Online:
    • Admiral B'Vat wants to continue the war between the Federation and the Klingons by going so far as to find and unleash a second Doomsday Machine on the Federation just so that they have a reason to keep fighting. His past self from the Star Trek: The Original Series era is so disgusted with this, he tells the player character to go kill him. Also a case of Villain Has a Point, though - his concerns about the Klingons dissolving into internecine warfare if the war ends are probably valid given that exactly that had happened within living memory.
    • Subverted with Admiral Zelle. She comes accross at first as a violent Blood Knight with an extreme hatred for all Romulans. However, she's actually an Undine Infiltrator so she's not insane, just deliberately working against the Federation.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, the Sith Warrior companion Malavai Quinn formerly served under one Moff Broysc, an insane and senile Moff to whom he had to play the Hypercompetent Sidekick and win his battles for, only to be court-martialed and had the credit taken away from him. Eventually he starts contacting the Sith Warrior and starts raving about "Admiral Malcontent" (which he actually believes to be Quinn's actual rank and name). When it becomes clear that his rank and connections protect him from Imperial High Command, Quinn simply abducts him and has him killed.
  • Sunrider 4: The Captain's Return has Admiral Storn of the Solar Alliance. Years earlier, Storn was blown out into the vacuum of space when the ship he was serving on exploded. He survived this, but the mental and physical traumas of the experience warped him into a hedonistic nihilist who only cares about fulfilling his own whims. He secretly backs the extremist ultranationalist Hawk Faction, which seeks to overthrow the Alliance's legitimate government and reopen hostilities with PACT. Unbeknownst to the Hawks, he is using them to destroy the Alliance as part of a deal with PACT, who will reward him with enough money to buy his own private pleasure space station.
  • One of the personalities your generals can have in the Total War series is this trope.
  • In Wing Commander, Geoffrey Tolwyn is initially a Neidermeyer who doesn't get along with the Player Character. He hounds you for two games, trying to discredit you, or wrest away the control over the war effort, and only getting away with it because he's a decorated war hero. In the fourth game, he becomes the Big Bad, trying to manipulate the Confederation into a war with a splinter government and operating an illegal eugenics program. In the end, he is found guilty of war crimes and hangs himself in the cell after his appeals are all exhausted. That's what you get for being played by Malcolm McDowell.

  • Sleipnir: Equine Invader from Jupiter: General Kincaid is a gleeful warhawk who's downright giddy for the chance to nuke what he believes to be an incoming asteroid, and when it's protested that Russia and China may take umbrage he sneers that they can bitch to the President about it. When Sleipnir makes Earthfall, he immediately launches an attack on them—deliberately almost destroying the Williams' ranch in the process—and wants to recruit Clint to build newer and better ballistic missiles to prep for World War III. When Fafnir and Tick Tock are spawned, General Kincaid decides to let them run rampant through Austin, Texas to bait Sleipnir back to Earth, kill Sleipnir when they're weakened fighting the "gecko" and "rabbit", and then mop up the two remaining kaiju with a nuke—threatening to strap a soldier to the bomb when he expresses reluctance to comply with the orders.

    Web Original 
  • SF Debris:
    • Chuck treats Kathryn Janeway of the USS Voyager as a supervillain while she's only a captain, but in his review of Star Trek: Nemesis, she gets the full treatment, with a nearly three-minute monologue detailing how the entire plot of the movie (including half the plot holes) was a part of her plan to take over the entire Alpha Quadrant.
    • Vice Admiral Ross gets a bit of this treatment, too. While he's still a mostly Reasonable Authority Figure in Chuck's characterization — occasionally even more so than Sisko — Ross is a crass Dirty Old Man who likes to have a good time with his secretaries and uses Starfleet funds to finance his relentless skirt chasing.
      Ross: Hey, Kira! Sit on my face and I'll guess your weight!

    Western Animation 
  • Admiral Zhao from Avatar: The Last Airbender. It's not obvious at first, as he provides a foil for the exiled prince being backed up by all the things Zuko lacks such as the Fire Nation's army and the Fire Lord's approval. He's arrogant and opportunistic but nothing exceptional. Then we see what a reckless firebender he is when Aang tricks him into destroying his own fleet with a bit of taunting and dodging. And finally he killed the moon spirit to De-power the waterbenders with no regard for how it would hurt the planet. This was widely considered a bad idea even by Fire Nation General Iroh and made a lot of people angry, including the Avatar and a very put-out Ocean spirit.
    • In The Legend of Korra, Zhao has become a literal example of this because the Ocean Spirit trapped him in a purgatory-esque part of the Spirit World that causes the humans trapped in it to be tormented by their own insecurities and failings; Zhao has become obsessed with capturing Avatar Aang so much that he mistakes his son Tenzin for his father. To add insult to injury, none of Aang's children seem to know who he is.
  • The General and the lieutenant from Courage the Cowardly Dog are humorous examples of this.
    The General: Good thing the money we paid that farmer with was made from experimental rocket fuel! (detonates cash)
  • Captain Matthew Marcus from Exo Squad, who is a Blood Knight and The Neidermeyer, costing Exofleet and, by extension, the human race severely with his tactical blunders and overly aggressive "tactics". It's telling that after he leads The Mutiny and starts making for Earth at top speed, even Phaeton notes that if this upcoming attack is what it looks like, then the Exofleet's leader must be insane.
  • 25-star general Zapp Brannigan from Futurama, who starts wars with non-violent races, or backstabs people while pretending to make peace. His favorite military tactic could best be described as "throw Red Shirts at the enemy until said enemy suffocates under a mountain of Red Shirt corpses."
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks:
    • Lampshaded by Lt. Cmdr. Ron Docent in "Cupid's Errant Arrow" when he claims that the admiral he knows is a psycho.
    • Admiral Buenamigo turns out to be this in "The Stars at Night", willing to risk lives, put the Treaty of Bajor in jeopardy by derailing negotiations with the Karemma, and ultimately commit mass murder for the sake of getting a pet project off the ground. Said pet project is a class of automated starship with a flaw in the AI that predisposes any given vessel of the class to going Ax-Crazy due to daddy issues, which ends up causing both his death and the deaths of numerous other personnel on Douglas Station, the Van Citters, and the Cerritos. It turns out the reason Starfleet admirals are so prone to this (filling up half the folders on this page) is the competitive atmosphere at Starfleet HQ — once these Admirals are stuck behind a desk, they have to do something big to stand out from the crowd, leading to these ill-advised ventures… though this is the excuse Buenamigo claims, which rings a bit hollow in light of them having worked on their particular pet project when they were still a Lieutenant Commander.
  • General Pong Krell in Star Wars: The Clone Wars always chose the most straightforward, violent approach, resulting in massive casualties and was a ruthlessly controlling leader who refused to take the advice of his subordinates into consideration, even threatening Fives with his lightsaber for questioning his orders. It's revealed towards the end of the arc that he had become a Dark Jedi and was planning to lose the battle and join the Separatists, but it's mentioned early on that he had a long history of high clone casualty rates and many victories for the Republic leaving it unclear whether he had been planning to defect for that long or he was just that bad of a tactician.
  • The Steven Universe episode "Lars of the Stars" features the hammy Homeworld space fleet commander Emerald, who's repeatedly outwitted by the Off Colors and refuses to shoot down her stolen ship because it's her "best friend".


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Mad Brass, Pointy Haired Military Boss


Admiral Buenamigo

Admiral Buenamigo reveals he did some very illegal and dangerous stuff to make a name for himself as admiral. Freeman actually lampshades this, insisting that he isn't a "bad-faith admiral up to no good" and is better than this. He bluntly says that he isn't, then turns the Aledo on the Cerritos to silence them, ignoring Rutherford's warning about how unstable the A.I. is, which ends up costing his life.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (37 votes)

Example of:

Main / InsaneAdmiral

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