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Military School

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A school where not only do you learn reading, writing, and arithmetic, but also how to march, stand to attention, and shoot a rifle.

Military schools are institutions which aim to instill military-style discipline in students. Often the explicit goal of such schools is to prepare students for military careers. The military school is intended for minors, as opposed to the Military Academy which trains at the undergraduate university level.

The idea of the military school is rapidly becoming a Dead Horse Trope. Military schools were more common in ages where service was a family tradition, especially among aristocrats, and large standing armies sought new manpower all the time. They were (and are) also very common in dictatorships where the school seeks to instill loyalty to the regime (such as the Hitler Youth or the Young Baath Party). In modern America, this had once varied; in the 1990's and the late 1980's, it was considered justified for "problem" kids and delinquents whose parents were oft too busy to handle raising them in a nuclear family structure with a 9 to 5 job, but thanks to massive publicity of on site abuse, deaths of internees, and extremely harsh and inhumane treatment by both incompetent and criminally aggressive individuals, even its heads,note  sending youths to military camps is viewed as borderline child abuse and most such institutions have closed.

In fiction, a rebellious teen may be threatened with one, or be sent to one if they've been Expelled from Every Other School, making it a variation on the Boarding School of Horrors theme. It is also a common basis for a Boot Camp Episode or Off to Boarding School. Compare Military Academy, which is for older students who tend to take it more seriously.

Sometimes includes an element of Ho Yay or Homoerotic Subtext, due to the fact that military schools in fiction and reality tend to either be all-male or mostly male.

Absurdly Powerful Student Council exists here in the form of a command staff.


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  • A Pacific Bell ad from the late 1990s' featuring an exasperated dad and his video game playing son, goes something like this:
    Dad: Jimmy, are you going to take out the trash?
    Jimmy: What for?
    Dad: Jimmy, grandma's on the phone.
    Jimmy: She's your mother!
    Dad: Jimmy, are you going to do the dishes?
    Jimmy: Talk to the hand! 'Cause Jimmy ain't listenin'.
    (Jimmy gets knocked unconscious by a flying phonebook that lands on the floor and opens up on a specific page.)
Narrator: "Military school." Another problem solved by Pacific Bell.

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Batman and Robin foe "The General" is a violent war obsessed kid who started causing trouble for them when he returned home to Gotham from Military School.
  • A place like this was used as a setting in a Spider-Man story where he was helping The Punisher uncover a Government Conspiracy involving a huge stash of marijuana. Turned out it was being stored there. "Makes sense," claimed Frank. "The government has control, nobody would question the presence of munitions or "supplies" and most importantly, who'd ever suspect school children of guarding the world's largest stash?" Fortunately, they managed to solve the problem without any kids getting hurt, but this was one case where Spidey got so angry at the guy in charge that Frank had to hold him back.

    Fan Works 
  • Dark Studios Kids Next Door: The Teen Ninjas serve in one, complete with a Russian director who's constantly giving orders. Oddly, he also treats it as though it's an internship.
  • EarthBound: The Celestial Melodies has the Snow Wood Boarding School, a special school that teaches children who show signs of PSI how to control their abilities.
  • The Karma of Lies: After his father is exposed as Hawk Moth and arrested, Adrien ends up in the custody of his Aunt Amelia, who starts him on an online homeschooling regimen. When he threatens to rebel, she calmly states that if his grades slip, she'll ship him off to a military school.
  • Pink Alert 3: After their arrival in the Republic, Squeezie went to one of these in order to ensure that he and his sister didn't wind up stuck in an orphanage or living on the streets.
  • Stories and Tales from Dimension 63: After an incident involving a drug dealer, Loki Loud was shipped off to military... willingly, as he was deeply ashamed and wanted to atone. This became The Unishment when he found out that he not only enjoyed it, but excelled at it, becoming a happy Military Brat. Lynn Sr. admits that this has done his eldest son a world of good... but regularly uses it as a threat against his other sons, telling them that if they don't look out for Linka, he'll send them next.
  • The Wolves in the Woods: While vying for Lila's favor, Kim and Alix turn into Barbaric Bullies who subject Marinette to a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown in the park. After their parents learn about this, both get shipped off to military school.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, the big threat hanging over the plot is that if Ted fails History, his father will ship him off to a military academy in Alaska, which will ruin the utopian future his and Bill's music creates. When the pair are sent to hell in the sequel, they get to see what it might be like:
    Col. Oates: Drop and give me...infinity.
    Bill: Dude, there's no way I can do infinity push-ups.
    Ted: Maybe he'll let us do 'em girly-style?
  • Cadet Kelly: When her new stepfather becomes the Commandant of a military school, George Washington Military Academy, Kelly and her family move upstate. Kelly has to enroll at the school, since it is the only school in the area, leaving behind her art school and her best friend Amanda.
  • Child's Play 3. In the first movie, the main character's living with his mother who ends up in an asylum, so in the second he's living with his foster parents who die, so in the third he gets Darrined and sent to military school where people die.
    • The movie was famously filmed at a real (now defunct) military school in Missouri.
  • Damien: Omen II. All the better to help the Antichrist take over the world.
  • In Dead Poets Society, this is what Neil, one of the members of the title group of youths, is threatened with by his Fantasy-Forbidding Father when he learns that he is playing Puck in their production of A Midsummer Night's Dream instead of focusing his energies on being the doctor he wants him to be. The prospect of being sent someplace he does not want to go and being given no real choice in life breaks poor Neil, and he is Driven to Suicide.
  • Evilspeak is set in a military school, where one student is bullied too far and he retaliates with satanic power.
  • The 400 Blows: After an incident in which Antoine accidentally starts a fire, his father threatens to send him to the Prytanée military school. After this threat, Antoine does not dare return home when he runs out of school.
  • The protagonist of The Man Without a Face actually wants to get into a prestigious military school and has sought out the title character as a tutor for the entrance exam.
  • The Ref: Lloyd and Caroline's son Jesse is coming home for Christmas from one of these, which he has seemed to take over having Blackmailed the head of his school.
  • Renaissance Man uses this is a bit of a backdrop when a new teacher played by Danny Devito has to save the Army students from flunking.
  • Taps - a Military School is to be closed down and razed. The outraged students refuse to allow it and end up in a confrontation with the authorities.
  • Up the Academy - a comedic take. At the Sheldon R. Wienberg academy, four young teens are sent to school and learn the discipline that the school teaches. Almost immediately, they don't like what is going on. Along the way, they plan their own actions from looking for girls to holding a party without the faculty's knowledge.
  • A Wedding (1978): Muffin met Dino while he was attending the military school next to her house. Her mother is disconcerted to find out that Dino was at the school because he got kicked out of his old school. Several members of the wedding party are cadets from the school.

  • Brotherhood of the Rose by David Morrell. The protagonists are from an orphanage where the children are raised to be patriotic cannon fodder for the US military.
  • The Confusions of Young Törless is supposed to be set at one of these, in 19th century Austria-Hungary.
  • A Chekhov's Gun in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw — a rather annoying Delinquent is sent to one of these after his parents get fed up with him early in the book, as shown by a chapter. It works, as we see him in his summer job as a movie usher, and by the looks of things, he's pretty much the platonic ideal of a good cadet. This is what causes Frank to seriously consider sending his son to it as a way of ridding his status as The Chew Toy. Greg is not amused.
  • Ender's Game with the Battle School.
  • The Executioner. In "The Fire Eaters", Mack Bolan goes undercover as a physical education teacher at such a school. Turns out he's not the only one to do so.
  • The idea of sending a child to a military school because of its bad behavior is deconstructed in Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser. Brendan, who had trouble with his classmates, would have willingly attended a military school, but they didn't accept him. See "Real Life" for possible reasons.
  • Hoot: Mullet Fingers is mentioned to have been sent to one by his mother, who wanted nothing to do with him; he promptly ran away from it and has been living off the grid ever since.
  • The Lords of Discipline: A group of senior cadets try to force freshman cadets they disapprove of to leave their Military School, including the first black cadet who was enrolled. (In fact, "Carolina Military Institute" is an obvious stand-in for The Citadel, The Military COLLEGE of South Carolina.)
    • Lords of Discipline is about more than just the Citadel. Its a fictional college that is a mash-up of Citadel, VMI, and West Point, though the author did go to the Citadel.
  • Planet Pirates: Part of the First Novel takes place at a Military School.
  • Space Cadet (Heinlein) has one in space.
  • Schola Progenium in Warhammer 40,000 takes in Emperor Servants' orphans at a pretty young age, so for several lower levels it's pretty much this trope, and this can be seen in a couple of the tie-in novels that bother to mention Schola at all, like Cain's Last Stand. For older cadets already taking special courses it's more like Military Academy, though. Unlike what one might expect, the Schola is usually not a Boarding School of Horrors. The food tends to be decent, the teachers harsh but not sadistic, and the education's about as good as it gets.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In "The Lost Weekend" episode of The Cosby Show, Cliff takes Theo (who had thrown a small party for himself and seven friends while the parents were out that somehow escalated into a Wild Teen Party for 180 people that wrecked the house) to enroll him either in military school or the Army itself, only to be turned away by a recruiting officer who outright announces to the crowd—Cliff marvels at the fact that no less than 50 people were there with their kids—this was NOT the place to dump off misbehaving children, as cited in "Real Life" section.
  • Featured twice in Cold Case in the episode "The Plan", and the two-parter "The Long Blue Line".
  • Columbo. A Villain of the Week is the commandant of such a school and when a former student-turned-businessman plans to turn it into a normal coed school (partly as a Take That! to the commandant, but mostly because he figures they're obsolete. "No-one wants to play soldier anymore") the commandant arranges an accident during the ceremonial firing of the school's cannon.
  • Dead Like Me. - A military school features as the site of a reap. Inverted in that the soon-to-be-dead cadet loves the school and constantly pushes herself to excel. She dies on the obstacle course, where a safety rope breaks just as she makes it to the top of the tower climb.
  • On The Facts of Life there is an all-boys military school nearby which serves as the girls' counterpart (and was the setting for the Poorly-Disguised Pilot "The Academy").
  • In Freaks and Geeks, Nick's father threatens to send him to military school if he doesn't improve his grades.
  • On Good Eats, in the episode "Behind the Eats," Alton explains the disappearance of his "nephew" Elton. The kid who played him grew up and went to college. The college in question? West Point.
  • JAG: Harm and Mac visit such a school in "Into the Breech".
  • A positive version of the trope appeared in Leave It to Beaver. In the first-season episode "Boarding School", Wally considers going to a military academy instead of going to Mayfield High. Wally's impressed by the military uniform, drilling, horseback riding, and rifle practice. In the end he chooses to stay behind, with his family and friends.
  • Again, a positive version of the trope appeared in The Lucy Show. In "Lucy and the Military Academy", Lucy's son Jimmy goes to military school. Jimmy is sent home, not because he's unhappy. It's Lucy makes a nuisance of herself being unable to give him up. Jimmy would later be Put on a Bus to military school when Lucy moves to Los Angeles.
  • In the first few seasons of Malcolm in the Middle, eldest brother Francis attends one of these.
  • Mr. Belvedere - In "The Cadet" episode, Wesley is sent to one after getting in trouble both in school and at home for the umpteenth time.
  • NCIS: In S12, Ep14 "Cadence" we learn that DiNozzo attended one his senior year. We get to visit it because the Victim of the Week was also an alumnus. The archetypal unpleasantness of said academies was emphasized by the existence of Honor Corps, a self-appointed and totally unregulated student organization that hazed anybody who failed to meet arbitrary school standards, talked back to people in authority (Even if it was justified), or wouldn't date one of their members.
  • On NCIS: Los Angeles, Sam Hanna's son Aiden goes to one of these. It gets taken over by terrorists at the end of Season 7, sending Sam into full Papa Wolf mode.
  • Northern Rescue: Gwen mentions that her mom sent her brother to military school (causing both kids to nickname her "the general") and once said she would have sent Gwen too if it isn't too expensive.
  • In the summer 2000 show Opposite Sex when Jed is reluctant to go to the formerly-all-girls-school his father signed him up for, he briefly attends a military school in the area but finds the intellectual rigor less than rigorous and returns to the other school.
  • An episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch parodied this, combining it with a Cinderella story. "You forgot your... boot?"
  • The Sopranos episode "Army of One". Tony Soprano and his wife Carmela disagree vehemently over whether to send their son A.J. to a Military School after he gets expelled from his original Catholic school, Verbum Dei. It turns out that A.J. gets panic attacks like his father—and, it seems, like the whole Soprano line going back generations—and couldn't go to military school for health reasons.
  • Another more positive portrayal is in the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episode "Goodbye To All That". John and Derek go undercover at a military school to protect a student they suspect is being targeted by a Terminator. Because of their backgrounds (John spent most of his childhood training to lead humanity against Skynet and Derek is from that future) they actually fit in well in the military environment. John is even seen correcting some of the students on weapons handling.
  • The Threshold episode "Blood of the Children" has the Threshold crew investigating a military school. The school itself is portrayed positively, with the principal being a Reasonable Authority Figure and all of the students seeming to be well-adjusted aside from the one who's been infected by the alien signal, but that's hardly the school's fault.
  • Two and a Half Men: In Best H.O. Money Can Buy, Charlie threatens to send Jake to one as a means to get him to actually do things like chores and homework. At the end of the episode, Jake learns that his grades are too poor to even be accepted into military school, defusing the threat.
  • The plot of a Walker, Texas Ranger episode has Walker and Trivette running the "boot camp" variety to reform wayward youth.
  • Arthur Carlson from WKRP in Cincinnati had a son going to one of these, 'Prussian Valley'. He learns that his son's flunking out, but lets him hold onto his The B Grade excuse for leaving, and enrolls him in public school.

  • Seussical: To curb his overactive imagination, Jojo's parents send him to General Genghis Khan Schmitz's military academy "for shirkers and dreamers and twits". The cadets are actually conscripted into an actual pointless war that nearly costs Jojo his life.

    Video Games 
  • The Academy of Dolls in Artery Gear: Fusion trains Artery Gears to get good grades and combat experience.
  • The titular Battle School of Oscar Mike's DLC Story Operation from Battleborn is the training boot camp that all Mike clones must go through upon "birth". Consisting of a series of arena style battles, the Battle School must be completed before Mikes can be deployed into battle proper. In order to rejoin Mike society, Oscar Mike's trial is to go through the Battle School again. Due to General Mike exercising his Clonestitutional right to bureaucratically make things more difficult than necessary, Oscar Mike has to go through the Battle School 10 times.
  • The Gardens in Final Fantasy VIII are military academies. Your final exam is the tutorial mission of the game.
  • In the first The Sims game, children whose grades stay at F for several days are sent off to military school for the rest of their lives — they disappear from the family forever. This is different to later games in the The Sims series, where they're taken away by a social worker (as is the case should they're neglected from fundamental needs like food and hygiene) instead.
  • Tears to Tiara 2 has the run down Kadamia, a village school in disguise. It's run by La Résistance, teaches combat, magic, and leadership skills, and even serves as a place to recruit new members.
  • Valkyria Chronicles - As part of a national universal conscription program, every school in Gallia is effectively one of these.
    • But the real military school is Lanseal, the center of the second game. It's a mix between school and academy, in that it also accepts people well beyond their highschool years.
  • In The Adventures of Willy Beamish, if you get into too much trouble with your parents, you get a Game Over and are sent off to military school.

    Web Animation 
  • Case 2 of the Ace Attorney/My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic crossover series Elements of Justice ends with the true culprit of the case, who is a minor, being sent to one of these as punishment for his crimes. It sort of works out well for him since he already has ambitions to join the Royal Guard when he grows up, though it also means being separated from his friends and family for a long time.

    Web Original 
  • PRIVATE DIARY: Carl and Maggie own and run a military school. When they adopted Alex, they enrolled her in the school and she is the only female student there.
  • A Wham Line at the end of the SuperMarioLogan episode "Bowser Junior's Clown Car!" has developed the entire episode into one of the Pilots of an upcoming SML series where Junior goes to military school for breaking a table while playing with Bowser's old clown car in the aforementioned video. In an unrelated note, "Cody's Revenge!" serves as the second pilot and the follow-up to "Clown Car!" where Junior gets Blackmailed by Cody as revenge for all the things he did to the latter.
    Bowser: His ass's going to military school.
  • Whateley Universe: There's the optional military training organization of the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) at the Whateley Academy.
    Word of God: It's not dedicated US Military, or even a branch. Students can sign up for credit with all of the US service branches and international students can apply their studies back to their home militaries. The JROTC corps on campus is a panoply of uniforms, Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, British, French, Etc. In fact, the only 'uniform' item is the Beret the students wear which, as the fiction of the unit is a 'multinational organization' has dispensation from both the U.N. and NATO to issue sky blue UN collation force colors.

    Western Animation 
  • Daria: Being shipped off to one by his father was a defining element of Jake Morgendorffer's character.
  • DuckTales (1987): In "Til Nephews Do Us Part", Millionaira Vanderbucks plans to ship Huey, Dewey and Louie off to military school after she marries Scrooge. Millionaira also plans to send Webby to finishing school, in spite of her only having moved in when her grandmother Mrs. Beakley was hired as the boy's nanny. Ironically, Millionaira plans to fire Mrs. Beakley.
  • The Exofleet Academy in Exo Squad. Although it doesn't appear in the series itself, it plays an important role in e.g. Coleen O'Reilly's Back Story (the Neosapien War began on the day of her graduation from the Academy and she was one of the few cadets to have survived the onslaught).
  • Parodied in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, where a Zany Scheme to get Billy into a prestigious school succeeds, then he realizes it's a military school he'd have no interest in attending. The episode ends with a montage of him suffering under its staff, and the last shot is Billy in front of a firing squad (he is seen digging a large hole in the ground with a spoon beforehand, giving the implication he was trying to dig a tunnel to escape).
  • King of the Hill: Bobby attended Cotton's old military school for one episode, at Cotton's suggestion, in order to learn some discipline. To Cotton's horror, the brutal hellhole he fondly remembered had gone soft (though not by choice, it had just been sued into oblivion and was forced to). Cotton takes over the school and runs it like how it used to be ran when he went there, being a Drill Sergeant Nasty and punishing Bobby relentlessly in an effort to toughen him up. To his frustration, Bobby isn't bothered by any of the punishment and just takes it all without even breaking a sweat.
  • The Smile Away Reformatory from "Phineas and Ferb Get Busted" is a cruel and rather unsettling version. Thankfully, it doesn't actually exist.
  • Scooby-Doo:
    • Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School features the Calloway Military School, a military boarding school for boys, and located right near Ms. Grimwood's Finishing School for Ghouls.
    • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated has Shaggy sent to Barnstow Military Academy by his parents, much to his dismay, after the events of season 1. He's rescued in the opening episode of season 2.
  • In "The Secret War of Lisa Simpson" on The Simpsons, Bart is forced to attend one after breaking every piece of glass in Springfield thanks to a destructive prank. Lisa ends up joining as well because she liked the rigid structure and the fact that it was actually teaching stuff. Bart ends up fitting right in and enjoying his time at the school while Lisa struggles with sexism and hazing from the other cadets.
  • In an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987), a kid was sent to one of these schools after Crying Wolf about Alien Invasions too many times; it looked legit until he found out it was under the control of two bona-fide aliens, Wingnut and Screwloose.
  • Four of the Paladins in Voltron: Legendary Defender either are or were Military School students (the fifth being an actual soldier), thus explaining how a bunch of teenagers and one Shell-Shocked Veteran are at all equipped to take on an entire Evil Empire.

    Real Life 
  • A few still exist in the U.S. The Valley Forge Military Academy, for instance. Culver Military Academy, Indiana Military High School and last bastion of equestrian cavalry in the United States Army. Also sports the largest riding arena in the nation.
    • New York Military Academy in Cornwall, New York, a private academy from which Donald Trump graduated when his parents discovered he had made frequent trips into Manhattan without their permission.
  • In some countries, schools which are not generally military in approach may have optional military training organisations as official extra-curricular activities, such as the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) in the USA or the Officer Training Corps (OTC) in British private schools. There are several high schools in the U.S. where the entire student body is enrolled in JROTC, such as the Marine Academy of Science and Technology in New Jersey.
  • "Boot camps" for wayward youth are something of a cruel parody of the concept, giving kids with problems (sometimes not even all that severe) a treatment that's actually worse than any qualified military DI would deal out. It's not uncommon for such camps to be shut down when word gets out, only to reopen somewhere else under a different name in a looser jurisdiction.
    • It's also generally considered that the use of military school or "boot camps" as a punishment is likely to make things worse, as more often than not a disobedient teen leaves not only with a major resentment towards their parents and adults in general, but often with the skills and knowledge to be a significantly better criminal.
  • Today this trope is not Truth in Television for straightening out any disobedient or out-of-control minors. Military schools are very much like private schools and don't take just anybody. Like a private school or boarding school, part of the selective admissions process is an interview where the prospective student gets questioned on why they want to attend. As a general rule, many military schools will not accept defiant or clearly unwilling applicants. The "military school is juvie for rich kids" trope is now a Discredited Trope and had its prime in the mid 20th century when there were more such institutions to the point the supply of such places outstripped the demand of willing applicants.
  • In the past, some countries had Cadet Corps for boys of noble families wanting to enter the military. This term is still used today for the pupils of some military academies.


Video Example(s):


Rommelwood Military School

Bart is forced to attend Rommelwood Military School - "A Tradition of Heritage", and after the Simpson family is shown around Lisa decides to attend too.

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