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Respected by the Respected

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"When I come callin', the devil still answers with 'sir'."

When writers want to hint at the true extent of a recently introduced character's power or influence without going into detail about it, they instead have already established and respected characters address them in a deferential manner. After all, if a well-known badass treats this person with the utmost respect, so should everyone else if they know what's good for them. Done too blatantly, however, it may come across as Character Shilling.

Does not include regimented forms of address, such as when speaking to someone higher in the chain of command: a badass private may refer to a general as "sir", but that doesn't automatically mean the latter is a Four-Star Badass. Villain Cred is a subtrope limited to Villains. Compare also The Knights Who Say "Squee!", where younger heroes seek to emulate their older idols, "Well Done, Son" Guy or So Proud of You, where a character strives to be respected by the ones they respect. Compare/contrast The Dreaded (who is defined by the fear everyone else shows of them), Don't Call Me "Sir" (when the man who is being called "sir" wishes to be treated less professionally), and They Call Me MISTER Tibbs! (when the man demands to be called "sir" as a show of respect).

Compare Horrifying the Horror.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bleach
    • After Chojiro Sasakibe, vice-captain to Head Captain Yamamoto, is killed by the Vandenreich, Byakuya Kuchiki, a highly skilled and respected captain who tends to be dismissive of most people, expresses respect for Chojiro's Undying Loyalty to Yamamoto, particularly staying at his post and refusing to become a captain despite being able to use Bankai.
    • When a member of the Zero Squad reveals that she set foot in Mayuri Kurotsuchi's lab without permission, Mayuri simply takes it. Considering that he previously hadn't hesitated to unapologetically defend taking extreme measures without Yamamoto's position while also calling Yamamoto out on failing to deal with the Quincies, this goes to show that the Zero Squad are no ordinary captains.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, the present events in the series showed Kyojuro was very respected by his Hashira colleagues, to the point that after his death other Hashira expressed how much of an exemplary Hashira he was. The special oneshot chapter made by Gotouge after the series ended, detailing the days shortly before Kyojuro became a Hashira by killing a Lower-Two Kizuki, showed the Hashira at the time didn't think much of him when Kyojuro was just a Hashira candidate, so he had to build up the reputation he has in the main story.
  • In Fairy Tail, the eponymous guild gets a request for help from Warrod, one of the top Wizard Saints and a founding member of the guild along with Makarov's father. Makarov, himself a Wizard Saint and the current Master of Fairy Tail, knows what an important and respected person Warrod is, and immediately realizes that failure is no option.
  • Food Wars!: Joichiro Saiba is very much this to everyone who knows him within the culinary world. These include Tootsuki Dean Senzaemon Nakiri (the head of a powerful and influential family), his granddaughter Erina (who at age 15 is already a prodigy chef), Erina's father Azami (who holds a lot of power and influence in the culinary world), and Gin Doujima (head chef of Totsuki Resort and a member of the board of directors).
  • In Gamma, the world's current top superheroine, Puella Magi Mika, comes running when Yuri Kitajishi — ostensibly a muggle—gives her a call, and she even salutes her—because Yuri is actually Lily Cure, the retired top superheroine of all times and Mika's former mentor. Later on, the alien hero Mighty Blow's strength is hinted at when the freaking zoo lions bow to him out of their own volition.
  • Hayate Yagami from Lyrical Nanoha is the single most powerful mage in the multiverse and a highly decorated military officer, yet she always defers to her former mentor and commanding officer Genya Nakajima when they interact (despite the fact that she, a Lieutenant Colonel, has long since outranked him, a Major).
  • In Naruto, when Tsunade introduces Naruto to the Great Toad Sage Fukasaku, she addresses Fukasaku with the extremely respectful "-sama" honorific, a show of courtesy she shows to hardly anyone. Despite normally being somewhat tolerant of Naruto's less-than-respectful behavior toward her, Tsunade tells him to mind his manners around Fukasaku.
  • One Piece: During the early stages of the Summit War of Marineford, Luffy walks up to Whitebeard, widely acknowledged to be the World's Strongest Man, and tells him to his face that he will become the Pirate King. Whitebeard is mildly amused by his attitude and tells Marco to make sure Luffy doesn't get himself killed after watching him knock down a giant while screaming at Ace that he intends to rescue him even if he dies. Though Whitebeard seems disappointed that Luffy recklessly tries to fight the Admirals alone and nearly dies for it, he changes his tune after Luffy uses Conqueror's Haki; at this point, he orders all of his allies to back up Luffy with everything they've got, before ordering them to ensure both Luffy and Ace escape Marineford alive after the latter is released, fully expecting Luffy to become one of the flagbearers of the New Age.

    Comic Books 
  • Captain America is frequently seen this way in the Marvel universe. Cap himself sees Daredevil in the same light.
  • The Flash: Jay Garrick, the first Flash, is one of the more respected of DC's heroes. How much so? Batman will call him "sir".
  • Hitman (1993): Played for comedy when Tommy ends up facing most of the Justice League who want him off the station right now because he's well, a hitman. Then Superman shows up and warmly greets him (in an earlier issue, Tommy had ended up giving Superman a pep talk, leaving Superman unaware of Tommy's profession).
  • The Punisher:
    • While he's far from well-liked by the Superhero community, in fact both Spider-Man and Captain America actually hate him. He is well-respected by certain well-respected individuals.
    • The most obvious example is Nick Fury, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D.. He even said that while he can't approve of what Frank Castle does, he can respect it. He even respects and trusts Frank to act as his potential successor as the Man on the Wall, the One Man Ancient Order of Protectors for humanity and Earth.
    • Thor, Prince of Asgard and God of Thunder, has actually expressed his respect to Frank in person. He did this while every other member of the Avengers was trying to arrest him, Thor instead used this opportunity to talk to Frank face to face.
    • During the "War of the Realms", The Goddess and Queen of Asgard Feyja directly told Frank that Captain America didn't like Frank, but he did respect him. After a brief talk between Feyja and Castle about making hard choices and doing what needs to be done, she said that she now knew why others feared him, but she also said he now has her and all of Asgard's respect. After said war, Frank has seemly gained the respect of the Light Elves of Alfheim, likely after arming them with guns and leading them (Queen included) into battle. In Thor (2020), Queen Aelsa (Queen of the Light Elves) was actually hoping that Frank would be the one to represent Midgard/Earth in their after-war celebration.
  • Spider-Man: While Spider-Man is regularly subjected to Dude, Where's My Respect?, those who do respect him, are some of the most respected heroes in the world.
    • Captain America admires and respects Peter's dedication to heroism, especially with (or likely because of) how he started at such a young age. Through the years Steve Rogers has had some problems and arguments with some other big named heroes, Spider-Man is one of the exceptions to this. As Cap once said (in Captain America/Iron Man #5) to a Fallen Hero trying to pull off some Engineered Heroics:
      Every second of every day is a chance to prove yourself, kid. Not everyone is cut out for this line of work. Not everyone with a power has the necessary sense of responsibility. There's a young man I could have introduced you to. You spend the day with him, you'd understand. Between the jokes and the swinging around, you'd understand.
    • For all of Tony's arrogance, he knows that being a Superhero is serious and not something to be taken lightly, and he considers Spider-Man to be everything a Hero should be.
    • During The Amazing Spider-Man (J. Michael Straczynski), when Peter was slowly dying and the heroes were desperately looking for a way to save him, King T'Challa, the Black Panther, brought him to Wakanda to see what could be done. They couldn't find anything, so T'Challa's last resort was to allow Peter to consume the Heart-Shaped Herb. T'Challa considered Peter worthy of it, and described him as a "Warrior with the Soul of a King".
    • If being respected by a Living Legend and an actual King wasn't enough, Spider-Man is respected by even The Mighty Thor himself. During the War of the Realms, Thor had Spider-Man join the League of Realms to represent Midgard/Earth, when Spidey questioned him about it, Thor happily described Spider-Man as the most Midgardian person that he knew. Thor even said that this was the highest compliment he can give to someone. Thor would express his respects years earlier in "Ends of the Earth". When the UN dismissed Spider-Man's warnings about Octavius, Thor stepped in to make them listen.
      Thor: I am Thor Odinson, heir to the lord of Asgard, and this man is my most trusted counsel.
  • Supergirl: When Superman wants to make his cousin's existence public in "The Unknown Supergirl", he says the whole world that Kara is as powerful and reliable as him, and she can be trusted to protect Earth in his absence.

    Fan Works 
  • Twice Upon an Age: The Lord Inquisitor himself drops to one knee almost immediately when he meets Flemeth. It Makes Sense in Context, because the Lord Inquisitor is a Dalish elf, and Flemeth is the host body of the elven goddess Mythal.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic of RealityCheck's Nyxverse, Twilight Sparkle's father Night Light, during a tirade against an especially annoying reporter, delivers a Badass Boast listing all the accomplishments of his son and daughter and the various special ponies they are involved with, and finishes up with "...and every one of them calls me SIR!"
  • In The Parselmouth of Gryffindor, Hermione, by Dumbledore, Nicolas Flamel, and many more.
  • After coming in second place at the Indigo Conference and becoming an Elite Four trainee, Ash Ketchum in Traveler is greeted with outright awe by Tate and Liza and deep respect by Flannery. About the only gym leader who doesn't show him any respect is Clair.
  • The Unknown Parahuman in Mr. Fixit has a perpetual Endbringer Truce declared on him by both the Empire-88 and ABB due to him only responding to Endbringer battles and helping with other S Class threats, along with being the single most dedicated Search and Rescue member at any one of those events. More than one hero and villain refers to him as a legend and a shining example due to his willingness to go to every Endbringer battle since he triggerednote  and refusal to even acknowledge how much good he's done. The man himself, Greg Veder, just sees it as doing his duty and doesn't even consider himself a hero or veteran of the battles. According to an omake, this caused the Simurgh to single him out at Canberra due to Eidolon being jealous that other people respected the Unknown Parahuman so much.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In a Cut Song from Little Shop of Horrors called "I'm Bad", Audrey II boasts that the Bride of Frankenstein calls him "Mr. Audrey Sir".
  • In The Emperor's first appearance in the Star Wars saga, Darth Vader—who had been the scariest bad guy until then—kneels to take a phone call from his "master".
  • In a deleted scene from We Were Soldiers, a group of soldiers are discussing their new assignment when one of them mentions the Sergeant Major they'll be working under is Sergeant Plumley. One of them recognizes the name and launches into a story about when he was a new recruit he served under a badass Sergeant Rock that was Covered in Scars, a double Medal of Honor awardee, who effortlessly humiliated an Ensign Newbie who tried to dress him down. He then reveals that said sergeant wasn't Plumley but was a guy who worked under Plumley... and was scared absolutely shitless of Plumley.

    Literature 
  • The first person to whom we see Harry Dresden, the protagonist of The Dresden Files, show genuine deference is his mentor Ebenezar McCoy. Detective Murphy is downright shocked to hear the habitually irreverent Harry call him "Sir." Much of this is because Ebenezar was a father figure to him, but he is also one of the most powerful wizards around, becoming a member of the Senior Council the first time the readers are introduced to him.
  • In He Lover of Death, Senka watches the ineffectual dandy he robbed earlier casually grill the huge constable who is keeping the entire Wretched Hive of Khitrovka in terror and realizes just how deep in trouble he is when the constable displays nothing but head-bowing humility in front of him. The "dandy", of course, turns out to be the series' overarching protagonist, Erast Fandorin.
  • In Jingo, a general of the Klatchian Army is surrounded by D'regs and asks Carrot, who's leading them, why they haven't already attacked. Carrot explains that he asked them not to attack because Commander Vimes wouldn't like it. The general promptly surrenders, telling an aide who questions him that "This man can make water run uphill, and he has a commander!"
  • In Henry Lion Oldie's short story "The Last One" (later incorporated as a chapter into the 1992 novel The Road), a futuristic martial arts competition is interrupted when a younger contestant insults an old one-armed Japanese spectator, prompting every black belt in the attendance, including the contest judges, to jump to the old man's defense. It turns out the latter is actually Gohen Miyagi, a legendary Old Master who trained most of said black belts, and whose arm was amputated after he used it to break through the supposedly impenetrable Deflector Shields protecting competitors from serious injury and to kill his opponent in a contest for insulting his own teacher earlier.
  • The Stormlight Archive: The Fused all have unique titles, and they tend to give out titles to minions who they respect, even a little. There are three notable people in book 4, however, who seem to be especially respected by them: Navani, who receives the title "Voice of Lights" despite being an enemy of the Fused; Vyre, whose title previously belonged to a Fused, and is a human to boot, and Kaladin Stormblessed, who is not only the first person to kill Lezian the Pursuer twice, but informs him that his new title is the Defeated One; a title that the other Fused accepted as Lezian's new title. In Soviet Russia, human gives title to Fused.
  • Towards the end of Watership Down, General Woundwort goes up against Bigwig, who pulls off a "You Shall Not Pass!" because "My Chief Rabbit has ordered me to hold you here." This is a major Oh, Crap! moment for Woundwort... and yet this says more about him than about Bigwig's Chief Rabbit because Woundwort lacks the imagination to realise that there might be more to who's in charge of a warren than mere physical prowess; Bigwig could handily mop the floor with Hazel in a straight-up fight, but Hazel won his (initially somewhat grudging) respect with his charisma and quick thinking.

    Live-Action Television 
  • In Supernatural Dean, who will give lip to demons, angels, and even Satan with no fear at all, and who has no problem facing any monster with a smug smirk and utter contempt, balks at even the thought of being rude to Death:
    Death: Shut up, Dean.
    Dean: Yessir.

    Music 
  • It is said of the title character of the Jim Croce song "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" that
    All the downtown ladies call him "Treetop Lover"
    All the men just call him "Sir"

    Video Games 
  • In BlazBlue, Bang Shishigami is (perhaps rightly) treated as a joke by every other character... except for Hakumen (who is a legendary hero from the past... future... it's complicated), who has nothing but praise for Bang's idealism and heroic spirit.
    • In BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, Hakumen and Nine the Phantom are dismissive of most characters but they seem to like Weiss Schnee, giving advice and encouragement to the rookie Huntress with something to prove. Hakumen also respects Yu Narukami for his idealism and protectiveness towards others.
  • Doom Eternal: Even the Doom Slayer himself kneels in respect to King Novik.
  • After the five-year Time Skip in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, all of your now-former students still refer to Byleth (a common-born mercenary who got lucky to score a teaching job at a Military Academy) as Professor/Sensei — even those who have become generals, kings, and emperors in the meantime. Shortly before the mission in the Holy Tomb, one monastery NPC warns you that if you get on your students' bad sides, they could easily ruin your career, before adding that the students clearly respect you too much to do that.
  • Master Chief, the protagonist of the Halo series, is addressed as "sir" by other marines—which wouldn't raise any eyebrows, since they're in the military... except Master Chief Petty Officer is a non-commissioned rank, and noncoms are never addressed as 'sir' unless the speaker does so to show a special form of respect, which Master Chief deserves and then some.
    • The scene that cements this occurs in Halo 4 when the Chief, explicitly against the orders of Captain Del Rio, heads to a launch bay on the Infinity to take a Pelican and go after the Didact. While Del Rio is blaring orders over the PA system for the crew to stop John-117, not only do they not do so, they snap to attention and salute him as he walks by. Needless to say, non-coms aren't normally saluted, but the Master Chief is, by ship's crew, Marines, other Spartans, enlisted, non-coms, and officers. While he is, officially, engaging in mutiny.
  • In Mass Effect 3:
    • James Vega breaks regs by saluting Shepard and addressing him/her by rank as a show of respect, despite Shepard currently being suspended awaiting Court Martial and thus rating neither rank nor salute. This is lampshaded by Shepard. That said, this is just at the beginning of the game. Later on, he's a bit less deferential, which he explains is because while he does genuinely respect Shepard, he also knows s/he is still just human.
      Shepard: Not supposed to call me [commander] anymore, James.
      Vega: Not supposed to salute you, either.
    • In the same game, Garrus Vakarian doesn't really have an official rank, but he's the turians' Reaper expert and their generals salute him and look to him for advice and instructions.
    • Urdnot Wrex (provided he's still alive), the leader of the krogan and widely viewed as their greatest warrior, is Shepard's close friend and treats them as a warrior deserving of the utmost respect. This in turn leads a lot of other krogan to show Shepard respect.
  • World of Warcraft: While occurring throughout the game as players become stronger and more experienced, it truly came to a head in Legion. Rather than just offhand recognition of the player's achievements by NPCs, players are outright saluted by and give orders to the likes of Lady Liadrin, Remulos, and Rexxar.
  • Throughout the Yakuza series, Kazuma Kiryu is generally acknowledged as a legendary figure by various high-ranking members of the Yakuza as both a former Tojo Clan Chairman and for his various deeds.

    Visual Novels 
  • Kirumi Tojo of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, the Ultimate Maid, is surprisingly well-respected among her fellow extremely talented peers for her ability to carry out any request her employers ask of her, enabling her to become the group's Team Mom. In the Talent Development Plan mode, in which Kirumi interacts with her peers from this game and the previous two, she even manages to impress Byakuya, and while Celeste prefers being served by a group of handsome male butlers, she says that any butler agency that Kirumi recommends must be exceptionally good.
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice, Abbot Tahrust Inmee, a high-ranking monk in the Kingdom of Khura'in, is highly respected by the royal family. Queen Ga'ran holds the Rite of Lamentation for him after his death, and Princess Rayfa, despite being a Royal Brat who hates lawyers and is rude to most people who aren't authority figures, is completely polite to Tahrust's widow. Of course, it turns out that Tahrust was actually a rebel.

    Webcomics 
  • In Schlock Mercenary, Captain Sorlie is being asked for orders by Director-General Nguyen of the J.S.C. Sorlie is taken a bit aback, which prompts Captain Murtaugh to quote Maxim 69 : Sometimes rank is a function of firepower.
  • From Tales of the Questor, part of Quentyn's Badass Boast is "The gangs of the Tumbledowns call me 'sir', if they know what's good for them."
  • In Vexxarr, the crew is preparing to flee a space station after illegally accepting service from it. Carl asks what kind of law enforcement would be after them, and Vexxarr answers that all he knows is that the army of giant mechanics aboard the station is terrified of them.

 
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Alternative Title(s): Cred By Deference

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The Twelve Months

The personifications of the Twelve Months discuss their admiration for the kind and hardworking human Girl.

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