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Miles Gloriosus

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"I hear you been tellin' about how you killed all them Jenkins brothers. With one bullet, wasn't it? Ain't that right? All these good folks here believe your little stories, don't they? Why, they believe you're just a stone killer, don't they? Seems these folks trust you. They think you're gonna save their little town. They think you're gonna save their little souls! But we know better, don't we?"
Rattlesnake Jake, Rango
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He's a soldier; he's a real man! Just listen to all his exploits and how the very gods are afraid of him! Admire his pristine uniform and shiny medals that prove his valour! Behold the physique that has been honed over years of adventure and peril! He loves danger! He will seek out any peril to test himself against!

Just don't put him near an actual fight.

The Miles Gloriosus (pronounced "ME-lace glor-ee-OH-sys", not "MYLES GLOR-ee-oh-SUS") claims to be some sort of mighty warrior or doer of the impossible. A soldier, Great White Hunter, Gentleman Adventurer, Hunter of Monsters, Superhero or other dangerous occupations are all possible. He is full of boasts about his many adventures, making himself out to be the ultimate badass. But when real danger rears its ugly head, Miles reveals what's Beneath the Mask and proves to be a Dirty Coward, anything but what his stories make him out to be, leaving whoever was foolish enough to be taken in by them to fend for themselves.

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Miles is Always Male, as women aren't usually expected to distinguish themselves in danger. This doesn't mean they wouldn't boast on how they brave through such quests, however.

The Foil of The So-Called Coward or the Cowardly Lion. Since he is invariably all talk, falling for his stories is a mark of the Naïve Newcomer. Those who are not taken in may, in peace and quiet, find him more or less amusing, which depends on his skill on storytelling, but when trouble arises, he is always The Load. May be No Hero to His Valet, Type 1 only. Often considering himself God's personal gift to women, he is frequently part of a Love Triangle, his stories making him triumphant, until danger reveals to the heroine which man really is admirable.

May be a Small Name, Big Ego, but may also be running a con and may be proud of himself for reasons other than his boasted prowess. It can be hard to tell because one of his chief traits is his utter shamelessness. No matter how clearly he was reduced to quivering terror by the merest hint of danger, as soon as the danger ends he will snap back to the boasting mode, making it hard to tell whether Believing Their Own Lies is in effect. He is incapable of realizing that people might think better of him if he says Think Nothing of It. Sympathetic examples may suffer from an Inferiority Superiority Complex, and hiding their own insecurities under a braggart façade.

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Any annoying braggart may be taken for the Miles Gloriosus, which is why subverting this, having them turn out to be brave and good at fighting — or even just competent — is a surprise. (See Boisterous Bruiser for the character most likely to subvert it.) Such surprises often fall under Glory Seeker; he may also go for glory at the expense of others: Glory Hound. Similar in ego to The Fighting Narcissist, but the latter generally has the fighting ability to back it up.

Named for a stock character in ancient Roman theater: the term translates to "boasting soldier."

Particularly annoying subtrope of Fake Ultimate Hero and particularly egotistical subtrope of The Münchausen (the latter of whom can actually back it up). Inverse of the Cowardly Lion. Similar to Lord Error-Prone. If the plot ever forces him to stand and actually act like the badass he claims to be, then it's Becoming the Boast. Villainous versions may overlap with Engineered Heroics. May be inclined to say Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"!... right before saying Screw This, I'm Outta Here

Compare Smug Super, Nominal Hero, Legendary Impostor, and Phony Veteran.

Contrast Shrouded in Myth, Armchair Military, Badass on Paper and Let's Get Dangerous!. Subtrope of Paper Tiger.


Example subpages


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    Audio Drama 

    Fan Works 
  • The End of the World: The District Two boy in the 70th Hunger Games brags about killing two raiders who attacked the tribute train, but his district partner's eye roll suggests "this may not be entirely true."
  • In Savior of Demons, Haabu is a total Glory Hound, as his internal monologues reveal. Judging from his questionable involvement in any actual fights (he only appeared on New Arcos to shout orders at the Saiyans and look important), he is likely a Miles Gloriosus as well.
  • Naturally the usual characterization of Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter fanfiction. Note however an interesting subversion in Like a Red-Headed Stepchild, where he ends up actually believing his own stories due to Mind Rape gone wrong, and actually delivering on his usual bragging.
  • In The Weaver Option Ormuz Vandire is a Naval Admiral commanding a battlegroup that hasn't seen battle in one hundred and fifty years. Despite this he boasts that his fleet could wipe out Taylor's battle-hardened fleet in just an hour. When Ormuz is actually deployed to defend Cadia against a Black Crusade, he suffers a panic attack when Magnus engages his fleet and has to be forcibly relieved of command. As a result of the delay in orders, the battlegroup suffers the most severe losses of any Imperial element in the battle.

    Music 
  • A non-warrior example occurs in the Russian children's song "The Vaccine", which is about a kid boasting that he's not afraid of getting a vaccine because clearly, only a coward would be, right? Naturally, come the time of the actual vaccine, he finds himself against a wall with trembling knees...
  • A song from the American Civil War entitled 'the Valiant Conscript' pokes fun at this tendency among green recruits. The speaker, said conscript, spends the first several verses boasting of how he's going to whip the Yankees, and eventually ascend to command the entire Confederate Army, until 'poets sing his story'. When the Yankees actually show up he sings this verse instead:
    [On hearing a gunshot] What's that? Oh dear, a boiler's burst, a gas-pipe has exploded!
    Maybe the Yankees are hardby with muskets ready loaded
    Oh, gallant soldiers, beat them back, I'd join you in the frolic
    But I've a chill from head to toe, and symptoms of the colic!

    Myths & Religion 
  • In Greek Mythology: While recognized as the god of war and embodiment of physical power, Ares only fought when he had a clear advantage; any time he faced anything close to a fair fight, he had his ass handed to him. To his credit, it's not that he didn't try; he just couldn't win. He was trapped and humiliated by Hephaestus when he and Aphrodite (Hephaestus' consort) were caught in an illicit love affair, fled in fear from the monster Typhon, lost a boxing match to Apollo, was wounded by the hero Diomedes with the aid of Athena forcing him to flee the battle, was defeated by Hercules twice (stripped of his armor one of the times) was stuffed in a bronze jar by the Aloadae (Hermes had to get him out) and defeated in battle with Athena every time they came to blows. Zeus himself - his father - once told him he was worthless. It must be noted that Ares was generally regarded as the god of carnage and bloodlust associated with war, whereas Athena was the goddess of strategy and military prowess. The characteristics of the two were combined in the god Mars, who was held in much higher regard by the Romans than the Greeks ever regarded Ares. Also, note that this form of Ares is the form we have recorded from the city-states—like Thebes and Athens (which had Athena as their patron goddess)—which held Ares in relatively low esteem. Other, more warlike Greek cities had a higher opinion of Ares; Sparta's warlike society had a much higher opinion of Ares, but they didn't write as much, so their myths are not as well attested.
  • The Bible: In Galatians 6:3, Paul has some words on the subject: "For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself." (KJV)
  • Nicolas Chauvin is a probably mythical soldier who served in the First Army of the French Republic and later in La Grande Armée of Napoléon Bonaparte. He is said to have been very loyal and dedicated to Napoleon despite having been wounded 17 times in his nation's service, resulting in his severe disfigurement and maiming, as well as Napoleon himself awarding him a Sabre of Honor and a pension of 200 francs, as well as ridicule during the post-Napoleon Bourbon Restoration. His last name is the origin of the word "chauvinism", originally meaning extreme nationalism, nowadays meaning any kind of extreme bigotry where one's group is considered superior and others are inferior.

    Theatre 
  • In The Iceman Cometh, Boer war veterans Captain Lewis (Brit) and General Wetjoen (Boer) like to reminisce about their glory days as "war heroes" on opposite sides of the conflict. In reality, Wetjoen was disowned by his family and held as a pariah among the Boers for his cowardice, while Lewis was equally reviled by the British Army for embezzling money from his regiment to support his gambling and drinking. In all likelihood, neither man distinguished himself on the battlefield.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • This is the traditional personality of a heel in Professional Wrestling. They talk a good game about how badass they are, and usually love to smack around the lower level guys, but they turn into a Dirty Coward when facing the top-tier faces (or sometimes even when the lower level ones put up too much of an even-handed fight), revealing that all their talk was a bunch of hot air. In the territorial days, this was an Enforced Trope in Memphis.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • In the Adventures of The League of S.T.E.A.M. episode, "Tall Tails", Crackitus, Thaddeus and Jasper boast about encounters they've had with the Kraken. Until it actually arrives...
  • Captain Hammer in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is a variant: he's an arrogant blowhard, but he's also as tough and brave as he says. The only reason he's brave, however, is because he is so super-strong and Nigh-Invulnerable that he has never been injured in his life. It's telling that he flees, crying like a baby, the very second that he feels pain for the first time.
    "I think this is what pain feels like!"
  • Drea of Watch Girls Play. By far the most likely to boast and swear at the screen while playing horror games. Also the most likely to give a Girly Scream when the monster confronts her.
  • Illustrated well in this Skyrim machinima, which paints the Dragonborn as a cocky mercenary who brags about his dragonslaying skills but runs away screaming when he encounters an actual dragon (or even a wolf). Naturally, one great battle of which he was the Sole Survivor turns out to have been because he ran away and hid, only coming back after both sides had wiped each other out, before lying to the guards who'd come to investigate.
  • Manga-Waido: Sano keeps bragging about how he's a former gang member and uses that fact to bully his subordinates. When he poured beer on Maina, she revealed that she was a former deliquent and gave him a good scare, forcing him to admit that it was all a lie.
  • The Navy Seal Copypasta is a parody of the Internet Tough Guy described below. The "story" essentially involves a loser on an internet forum getting mad at the person he's arguing with and than trying way too hard to make himself seem scary to get back at the guy.
  • R. H. Talltales of World's Greatest Adventures is a massive example of the "adventurer" type, constantly boasting about "exciting discoveries" that are actually completely mundane.

Alternative Title(s): Boasting Soldier, Miles Glossorius

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