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Semper Fi

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Lt. General Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller (1898–1971), patron saint of the United States Marine Corps, shows the proper response to encirclement.

"Every Marine is convinced they're the toughest guy in the room."
Capt. Nathaniel Fick, USMC (Ret.), One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer

So, you think you miserable lot of baby-faced tropers want to make a trope about us? If you work hard enough you might be good enough to lick our boots. For we are the best in the world and you better know it. When you answer me, the first and last words out of your filthy sewers will be 'sir'! Is that clear, troper?! Louder! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!

Yes, United States Marines are just better. They are a Proud Warrior Race all their own. Every Marine is a Blood Knight and they are held in check only by their Drill Instructor Nasties. They are commanded by Colonel Badasses and General Rippers, and they are the truest devotees of The Spartan Way. They are so committed to their job that they are almost a Church Militant. Do not mess with the Corps. Ooh-rah!

That is the Marine myth. Like most successful myths, it has some basis in fact. The idea is recognizably similar in kind with the myths of several other elite military units, like the French Foreign Legion or the Gurkhas. What makes the Marine myth special is simply that many Americans take pleasure in it and therefore Hollywood does, creating wider mileage.

That said, the "Marine myth" is a myth. Marines are as fallible and human as the rest of the species, and while they are invariably well-trained and dedicated, you find just as many Jerkasses among Marines as you do among every other group on the planet. While they don't always, however, they can occasionally view themselves as the epitome of the human race, even if they actually are not.

If you want to make a Marine more badass, make him a member of USMC Force Reconnaissance ("Force Recon"). If you want to make him even more badass than that, make him a member of MARSOC (Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command), which is so new (2006) that nobody even knows how badass it is yet. A Marine of recent vintage will also be proficient in the Marine Corps' own badass martial art form — the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP)... aka "Semper Fu".

Compare Space Marine and A Space Marine Is You, where most of their behaviors, practices and general worldview will remain totally unencumbered by the march of time. A subtrope of Elites Are More Glamorous. The literal trope versions of "Semper Fidelis" (Always Faithful) are My Master, Right or Wrong and My Country, Right or Wrong.


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  • As you might expect, recruiting commercials for the United States Marines do nothing to discourage the myth. One well-known and rather absurd commercial that was shown to express how badass they are is shown here.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Jormungand: The Marines show up a number of times throughout the series. Most notably when they are sent to rescue CIA operative Bookman from a local Islamic extremist group. And proceed to not only complete their mission without fail, but also completely eviscerate the aforementioned extremist group.
  • Marine Corps Yumi is a web-released manga about a Japanese girl enlisting with the Marine Corps and going through the basic training. It contains a surprising amount of Truth in Television, thanks to its former Marine adviser.

    Comic Books 
  • Billy Butcher from The Boys was in the Royal Marines.
  • Captain Metropolis from Watchmen is a former Marine lieutenant.
  • DC's Commander Steel was Hank Haywood, a US Marine who, after being injured during WWII, volunteered for special bionic upgrades that turned him into a Captain America Expy.
  • Deadshot's New 52 incarnation is a former Marine. And as rotten as he is, he does save the world as a member of the Suicide Squad.
  • David Reid, a.k.a. Lance, of the Justice Society of America. was once a member of the Marines when he's recruited and served as a kind of liaison between the two groups.
  • The ever-loving blue-eyed Thing had one of the most prestigious military careers in comic book history, having served as a pilot for both the Air Force and the Marine Corps.
  • Marvel Comics published a comic book titled Semper Fi featuring fictionalized accounts of conflicts the USMC had been involved in.
  • Not only was The Punisher a Marine in The Vietnam War, he was a Force Recon Marine and even attended the U.S. Army Airborne School, received US Navy Underwater Demolition Team training, and cross-trained with the Special Air Service. In other words he was Marine, Navy Seal, Army Special Forces and SAS all rolled into one.
    • Subverted in The Punisher: Born. The story takes place in a base filled with Marines who are amoral washouts, depicted as either apathetic or cruel, run by incompetent commanding officers. As a Marine, Frank Castle was shown to be addicted to combat, willing to indirectly kill a General in order to keep his firebase (and therefore his war) going. Overall this depiction certainly doesn't sit well with the brave, heroic image the USMC typically has.
    • General Nikolai Zakharov, a Punisher villain from the MAX continuity, uses this trope to get the message across to William Rawlins that he's not to be fucked with.
      General: You. American. Do you see these men I have here with me?
      Rawlins: Y-yes.
      General: These men are Black Sea Marines. At a word from me, they will gut and bone and joint you. Now, for the first and last time, why are you here?
    • The Valley Forge arc sees Frank hunted down by Delta Force soldiers in order to bring him to trial alive (they take him down, eventually, but only because neither was ready to use lethal force on the other). Their commanding officer Colonel Howe claims Castle's use of methods taught by the USAF to kill criminals are a stain on their legacy. That, and Frank unknowingly saved his life in Vietnam, and he proves that the generals who want him dead were behind a False Flag Operation on Moscow.
  • The modern Green Lantern John Stewart is a veteran marine.
  • In Ghostbusters (IDW Comics), as a Mythology Gag to the original script, Winston is a former Marine who at one point has to deal with the ghost of his drill instructor.
  • Moon Knight himself is a marine veteran. Which is just one of the many badass professions that he was once apart of before he became a costumed superhero.
  • Before becoming the demonic entity that he would eventually become, Spawn was a highly trained Force Recon Marine who was later promoted to a high level position within the CIA's black ops division. As a reward for saving the President's life.
  • Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman: One of the men in "Venus Rising" is a marine vetran, and exemplifies the mindset when he leaps to certain death to deck a giant monster in the face in hopes of giving Wonder Woman enough time to rescue the remaining crew.

    Comic Strip 

    Fan Works 
  • In Worldwar: War of Equals, two battalions of US Marines land in Australia to help defend Melbourne.
  • Played with in From Bajor to the Black. The fic actually centers on a character who's joining the Bajoran Militia, but the author chose to use Marine Corps slang and ranks as a Translation Convention to draw a contrast between the pure-military Militia and the Federation Starfleet, a hybrid service of explorers and diplomats as well as soldiers, and which uses Navy metaphors in the canon show.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Resident Evil: Degeneration, a squad of Marines attempts to take down a G-Type at the Will Pharma headquarters. They don't fare all that well by virtue of their weapons simply not causing enough damage to the G-Type to bring it down before it brings them down.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The movie version of Doom, features Marines as its protagonists. It even includes the ever-memorable line "Semper fi, motherfucker!"
  • Full Metal Jacket, with a memorable Drill Sergeant Nasty played by R. Lee Ermey, who unleashes his full nastiness towards the characters.
  • Exploited in Aliens. The soldiers sent to help Hadley Colony are called "Colonial Marines", connecting them to the US Marine Corps and its reputation for badassness. And some of them, most notably Hicks, Apone, and Vasquez, are definitely badass enough to be Marines. However, in the Special Edition DVD commentary, James Cameron says that at the time he knew little about the Marine Corps, so the portrayal of the Colonial Marines was heavily driven by then-common ideas about Vietnam War-era United States Army soldiers. If Cameron had known more about the Marine Corps, especially about the differences between the Corps and the Army, the Colonial Marines would have been much less sloppy and more disciplined in their appearance, dress, and behavior.
  • What Price Glory: Discussed Trope in this film about Marines in World War I. Capt. Flagg explains to Charmaine how he has to go off into combat with the men, as the bugle calls, even though he's just been granted leave.
    Flagg: Somehow that call always finds the old Marines. Always faithful.
  • Subverted in The Rock. Ed Harris is a mega-badass who wants the US Government to own up to how badass his Marines were (or just pay their families for being super secret and thus not getting the moolah). Interestingly, when the Navy SEALs show up to kill his team (led by Michael Biehn, who didn't learn from The Abyss), the Marines kill them all, which is due to them being on higher ground with cover with better weapons. The subversion kicks in when the Marines go nuts and try to launch poison gas at San Francisco for the lulz.

    Explained in that their team had already turned its back on the government by falling in with Ed Harris' character, so they were going down either way. When they lost confidence in him by the government essentially calling his bluff and him folding, these "ex-Marines" decided to be out for themselves.
  • Taking Woodstock has a bad-ass cross-dressing Marine: "Semper-fi you little prick".
  • Jarhead, a film about a group of Marines in the Gulf War. The film portrays them as being much like any group of people: there's the one who doesn't believe in the cause of the war but is there because he signed up; there's the borderline psychotic dick; there's the withdrawn, nerdy guy; and the everyman protagonist and his friend—and, of course, there's their unit commander, a proud career Marine who loves the job. (For those wondering where the word comes from: it was originally a pejorative term for Marines bestowed because a Marine's very short haircut and tight hat make it look like the hat is screwed on to his head, like the lid of a jar. It has, to a certain extent, been adopted by the Corps itself. More poetical observers, both deriding and defending the Marines, note that it can also mean that the Marine's head is an empty jar until it is filled by training.) Then there's the old-school U.S. Navy's opinion; you can't be a Marine if you can't fit your head into a peanut butter jar.
  • The Right Stuff, both book and film, suggests ever so subtly that Maj. John Glenn, USMC, thinks he is better than his fellow Mercury astronauts from the Navy and Air Force. He's also the original Space Marine!
  • The Marine, of course, where kidnapping the wife/relative(s) of a Marine proves to be the worst idea a group of criminals ever had.
  • In The Maiden Heist, George is a former Marine who takes his military past a little too seriously.
  • The Godfather: Michael Corleone is a former Marine Captain, veteran of the Pacific War, was awarded the Navy Cross, and perhaps not coincidentally is one of the most ruthless characters in fiction.
  • Battle: Los Angeles features US Marines as its protagonists, fighting against, appropriately enough, a species of alien invaders who appear to be aquatic in nature, and kicking their ass-analogues in hard. It might just as well be called "Semper Fi: The Movie".
  • The 1957 movie The D.I. was about a Drill Sergeant Nasty's difficulty training a wishy-washy recruit in Marine Corps basic training.
  • It's never properly touched on, but Porter, the Villain Protagonist from Payback, has a USMC tattoo. Like Michael Corleone, he is a tremendously ruthless character.
  • In True Lies, USMC Harriers engage and destroy a pair of terrorist trucks transporting nuclear weapons along the Overseas Highway. After that, Harry then borrows one to kill the rest. The dialog implies that he had experience with Harriers which in turn implies that he has had access to Harrier training, possibly as a Marine pilot.
  • 1943's Guadalcanal Diary was based on the autobiographical story of a journalist who landed with the 1st Marine division on Guadalcanal in 1942.
  • A Few Good Men gives us the memorable quote, "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!" when trying to explain the idea that Marines do what only they can, and that no one could possibly understand the difficult decisions that need to be made to keep America safe.
  • Avatar:
    • Protagonist Jake Sully was never explicitly described as a United States Marine, but he introduced himself to Mo'at as "...a marine. A warrior of the...uh...Jarhead clan" so it's implied.
    • Played straight with Colonel Quaritch, who specifically mentions he did 3 tours in Nigeria as a member of Force Recon.
  • Moonraker: When the time comes to destroy Hugo Drax's space station, guess which service is sent to do it? And given that the ensuing fight demonstrates the principle "in space, there is no such thing as 'minor damage'", one suspects this is why the film-makers went with the USMC.
  • Gung Ho, not the 1986 car movie, but the 1942 movie about the Marine Raiders and the Makin Island raid.
  • In Heat, the central character on each side - Robbery Homicide Lieutenant Vincent Hanna and master thief Neil MacCauley - are both former Marines.
  • The living toy soldiers in Small Soldiers are the villains, but they're clearly based on American Marines, and they're just as tough.
  • Steven Hiller from Independence Day is a Marine fighter pilot. General Grey is also a Marine, which was a decision made by Robert Loggia.
  • In fiction this trope probably dates back to 1926 and Tell It to the Marines, in which a Drill Sergeant Nasty takes a callow, lazy youth and finally succeeds in molding him into a brave Marine.
  • In Den of Thieves, Merriman and his crew are all former Marines who have gone From Camouflage to Criminal. A big deal is made about how their military training discipline and training makes them far more organised and dangerous than your average gang of gangbangers.
  • In Scarecrow Slayer, Gavin and his frat boys refer to themselves as 'The Marines'. Other characters are at pains to point out that they are not actually Marines. It seems they are members of the ROTC.
  • Battle Cry (1955) follows a group of United States Marines from boot camp to combat as members of the Communications Platoon, 6th Marines, 2d Marine Division.
  • Spartan: Bobby, the main character, is an ex-Marine in Special Ops, and he uses his skills when trying to find Laura Newton after she's been kidnapped. It's also why he turns to Jackie Black, currently a Marine, when he has no one else he can trust.
    Jackie Black: (as Bobby is explaining the situation to her) Ain't nobody here but two people in green.
    Bobby: It goes beyond that.
    Jackie: Nothing goes beyond that.
  • No Escape (1994): Robbins was in the US Marines, having killed his CO for ordering him to kill civilians. He shows his combat skills heavily throughout the film, along with tactical knowledge.
  • Flags of Our Fathers follows the Marines (and the Hospital Corpsman) who were believed at the time to have raised the second flag on Mt. Suribachi.
  • Sands of Iwo Jima follows a Marine rifle squad through the invasions of Tarawa and the titular island.

  • Subverted in Old Man's War by John Scalzi, a science fiction novel in which all the characters are new recruits in an interstellar military. The Drill Sergeant Nasty says that people who have already served in the military on Earth make bad recruits, because they have a lot to unlearn, and makes a point of mentioning that ex-Marines are the worst of all, because their attitude gets in the way. Even he gives the Marines credit, though, for the Rifle Creed.
  • In David Weber aned John Ringo's Prince Roger series, the Imperial Marine Corps are USMC/Royal Marines In Space!. They have a number of special units like Raiders, clearly named for the Marine Raiders of WWII. They draw tradition from the originals. Their pilots and medics are drawn from the Navy. And, like US Marines protect the President and Royal Marines protect the Queen, Imperial Marines protect the Empress. And her offspring, which is where the reader comes in.
  • Ex-Heroes: Billie Carter and Ty O'Neill are both Marines and members of Cerberus's original escort detail, and help her fight thousands of zombies in a brave and fairly successful way in a flashback before The Cavalry arrives. In the present, they have a strong bond and are among the more brave and dependable Badass Normal fighters.
  • The Space Marines of Honor Harrington qualify here, along with a subversion by Grayson, whose "marines" are just army troops used in shipboard actions. In another subversion, it's mentioned in a somewhat minor (compared to other examples) Infodump that at one point, the Manticoran Marines were absorbed into the army, then later separated back into their own service.
  • The Starfist series of books by David Sherman and Dan Cragg basically runs on this trope. The Federation Marine Corps is better equipped, better trained, and just outright more badass than any force they come across.
  • Applies to the future intergalactic Marines in Tanya Huff's Confederation novels.
  • The Heritage Trilogy, Legacy Trilogy, Inheritance Trilogy by Ian S. Douglas has the USMC, over a time span of about 2000 years, go from fighting the French-led UN on Mars over alien artifacts, to blowing up a stargate, to hitting a planet with sand accelerated to near the speed of light, to blowing up a star, to blowing up a Dyson sphere surrounding the central black hole of the Milky Way by throwing a star at it, to fighting a race of omnicidal aliens on their own turf and preventing them from completing a weapon that at least would have blown up a galaxy.
  • In the Legacy of the Aldenata, the armed forces of Earth are gathered into one giant military force for the Galactics. The USMC is specifically mentioned by "Mighty Mite" as the ideal for ACS troops, for their general policy of taking territory and holding it against all comers, as opposed to his native 82nd Airborne's general use as shock troops that don't stick around after their strike. Fleet Strike, the Federation's ground-forces branch, is explicitly said to be an amalgam of the Marines, special forces, and aerospace/aviation units.
  • The Terran Confederation Marine Corps, from the Wing Commander novels, is apparently modeled on the USMC, though their "airtime" is somewhat limited, given the focus of the WC universe is on the Old School Dogfighting.
  • Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers was directly inspired by the USMC (with a heavy dose of US Army Airborne for good measure), with the fight against the Bugs patterned after WWII 'island-hopping' in the Pacific.
  • The Marine mentality is discussed at length in One Bullet Away, which provides the page quote. The author, Nathaniel Fick, noted that the reason he joined the Marines is that their advertising contrasted sharply with the other services'. While the other 3 fell all over each other offering scholarships and other perks, the Marines basically asked "Are you tough enough for us?"
  • In the Garrett, P.I. fantasy/detective series, Garrett is an ex-Marine, and definitely has a bit of the attitude, especially towards "mere" Army men.
  • M'chel Riss of Star Risk, Ltd. left the Alliance Marines after her CO decided her next posting should be to his bed. Also worth mentioning: Riss is named for author Chris Bunch's friend Michelle Rice, who is a US Marine. Meanwhile, another of the Star Risk principals, Chas Goodnight, was dishonorably discharged from the Marines for theft.
  • In Sven Hassel's book about the Italian campaign, one of the German officers is a German-American and former US Marine. He is very, very tough and nasty, but the troops follow him because he can do anything he tells them to do, and has shown it.
  • Despite the name, the "Line Marines" in Jerry Pournelle's CoDominium novels are not based on the USMC, they're the French Foreign Legion with a solid layer of British regimental officer-and-a-gentleman poured on top.
  • The Rogue Warrior novels has real life Marine Steve Hartman as the only non Navy member of Marcinko's crew, and has allusions to the rivalry between the services (such as the army not wanting to mess with Hulk Hogan sized Marines when Marcinko and a friend stole the army mascot for the army/navy football.)
  • A Rumor of War (1977) by Philip Caputo, a Marine who served in The Vietnam War from 1965-66, describes in detail the author's reasons for joining the Corps and experiences in boot camp before shipping out. Among other things, Caputo recalls having to utter a chant about the Corps' invincibility before every meal, ending with "Gung-ho, gung-ho, gung-ho! Pray for war!"
  • The Vietnam War era works by Gustav Hasford - The Short-Timers (later adapted as Full Metal Jacket) and The Phantom-Blooper.
  • The Cut and Run series and its spin-off has Ty Grady and his old Force Recon team, Sidewinder. They take great pride in having been Marines and are ten kinds of badass.
  • The Fort by Bernard Cornwell recounts a siege during the American Revolution. By far the most competent and professional of the American besiegers are the Continental Marines, who are the precursors of today's USMC.
  • The Lost Fleet: The Space Marine forces attached to the titular fleet take inspiration from the USMC in the same way that its Space Navy draws on the US Navy, with the standard low-key Interservice Rivalry and (mostly good-natured) jokes about how Marines aren't smart enough to be sailors and sailors aren't tough enough to be Marines. They're treated pretty sympathetically given that the viewpoint character is himself a naval officer, because their strong espirit de corps has done a lot to keep their morale and discipline in better shape than his own sailors in the face of a decades-long war. There's probably some Reality Subtext in play here, as author John G Hemry is himself a US Navy veteran who saw service during Vietnam.
  • All incarnations of Jack Ryan depict him as having been a Marinenote  before a serious injury forced him to find another way to serve his country. Teeth of the Tiger introduces the Caruso brothers, one of whom is a Marine officer before being recruited by The Campus.
  • Dispatches by Michael Herr. Herr was a journalist who covered the Vietnam War, and often wrote about the Marines. In his experience, Marines were the sort of men who would walk across a firebase to find him a stretcher to sleep on, and shield him with their own bodies. The Marine Corps was an organisation that couldn't stop screwing up.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Barry: Barry is a Marine veteran of Afghanistan. This informs much of his character, as he came back with PTSD and didn't know what to do with himself. He became a hitman due to Fuches' influence, and the skills he'd been trained in made it quite easy for him. Over time however his PTSD came back, and he questions not only being a hitman but also his Marine service. He often flashes back to his experiences then and they serve as inspiration for acting too.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): In one of the final episodes, Starbuck uses the term, "Semper frakkin' Fi," in a scene where she's talking to Lee Adama.
  • Blue Bloods: Three of the four surviving male Reagans served in the Marines. Henry saw combat in Korea, Frank in Vietnam, and Danny in Iraq during Gulf Two.
  • Burn Notice: In one episode, Michael poses as a retired Marine in order to gain the trust of an actual retired Marine.
  • CSI: Jim Brass is a former Marine who served in Vietnam.
  • CSI: NY has Mac Taylor, who served in Beirut and Afghanistan. He left the Corps around 1991 to join the NYPD but tells a gang leader in 2005, "I'm a Marine, you little punk. I've put men in the ground on foreign soil so you can sleep at night, but you wouldn't know anything about *that*, would ya, kid?"
  • Generation Kill: This show is based on an embedded journalist's experiences with the US Marine Corps' First Recon during invasion of Iraq. The trope is subverted to some degree. Although there is an amount of "moto" chest thumping, the series does subvert parts of the Marine Corps myth. Examples: "Captain America," "Encino Man," "Casey Kasem," and who could forget the genius idea of repurposing a reconnaissance unit as a light assault unit in lightly-armored Humvees?
    Person: I hate that cheesy moto bullshit.
    Person: You know what happens when you get out of the Marine Corps? You get your brains back.
  • Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.: (Note: If you're thinking about joining the Marine Corps, do not use this series as a model for how a Marine sergeant will react to you being insubordinate or incompetent.)
  • Highlander: Joe Dawson served as Marine in the Vietnam War.
  • HUNTER: Det. Sgt. Rick Hunter served as a Marine in the Vietnam War.
  • JAG and its spinoff NCIS: Both of these shows at times can seem like recruiting ads for the Navy and Marine Corps paid for by the Department of the Navy. Which, in a way, they are. Both were also created and produced by television king Donald P. Bellisario, who served as a Marine in the 1950s, and who tends to make many of his major characters Navy or Marine vets.
  • Jericho (2006): One episode has a group of "Marines" arriving in the town to provide aid and reconstruction. They're actually impostors from a refugee camp who stole their gear from the real Marines during a food riot, and use the disguise to con towns out of their supplies. The mayor, a former Army Ranger, realizes this when they use the Army greeting "hoo-ah" rather than the Marines' "oo-rah", and when they address an NCO as "sir".
  • Kamen Rider Dragon Knight:
    • Chris Ramirez, aka Kamen Rider Sting, comes from a long line of Marines and would've been one himself if he didn't get a medical discharge for asthma. He jumps at the chance to (he believes) protect US citizens as a Kamen Rider, and is the only one of those tricked into serving the bad guys to realize he was on the wrong side and defect to the good guys.
    • It is also his final onscreen line as he dies… gets "vented."
  • In Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the hotheaded Det Elliot Stabler is a former marine.
  • The Librarian: At the end, the hero calls headquarters and requests that they send in the Marines to back him up. His rather old and bald Mentor (Bob Newhart) shows up alone. When questioned, the mentor shows him a fouled-anchor tattoo on his arm, to prove that he is a Marine. (Bob Newhart proves more than capable.)
  • The Lieutenant: A pre-Star Trek Gene Roddenberry production starring Gary Lockwood as newly-commissioned Marine officer. Robert Vaughn portrayed his commanding officer. Guest stars during its single season included Majel Barrett, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, and Leonard Nimoy!
  • Madam Secretary has Dr. Henry McCord, a retired USMC captain who entered the service via an ROTC scholarship. In an unusual version of the trope, he was a naval aviator who flew ground-attack jets in Desert Storm, rather than the more typical infantryman or Force Recon.
  • Another Donald P. Bellisario production, Magnum, P.I., includes the former naval officer's Vietnam Marine buddies T.C. and Rick.
  • Major Dad: A straight-laced career USMC officer falls for and marries a left-wing peacenik journalist and gains an instant family with three step-daughters. Half family sit-com and half love letter to the USMC.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Daredevil (2015) and The Punisher (2017): The MCU version of Frank Castle is a former Marine. He single-handedly took out 37 Taliban fighters in an ambush that cost his commanding officer's right arm, while the photographs that Karen finds in Frank's house show he was a recipient of the Navy Cross Award. Frank also made friends out of fellow platoon members like Billy Russo and Curtis Hoyle.
    • Luke Cage (2016): Before he went into Seagate, Luke was a Force Recon Marine.
    • Jessica Jones (2015): Pryce Cheng, a new PI who becomes a bit of a rival to Jessica in season 2, is a former Marine Corps captain and still has the tattoos on his arms to show it.
  • On Millennium (1996), Lara Means is shown the body of a Mercy Kill victim and Detective Giebelhouse tells her he was an ex-Marine. "There's no such thing," she replies. This is a probable Actor Allusion to Kristen Cloke having starred on Space: Above and Beyond.
  • NCIS: Gibbs is a former Marine sniper.
  • On Northern Exposure, entrepreneur Maurice Minnifield was a Marine aviator, the fictional second Marine astronaut of the Mercury Seven.
  • NYC 22: Jennifer Perry is a former Marine MP who served in Iraq, then as White House color guard (hence her In-Series Nickname "White House").
  • The Pacific: Focuses on the First Marines led by Chesty Puller.
  • Pensacola: Wings of Gold follows a group of student naval aviators aka "nuggets" as they learn to become marine fighter attack pilots.
  • Revolution: Both Miles and Bass were Marines prior to the blackout, as shown in "Pilot" and "No Quarter".
  • Space: Above and Beyond: This short-lived mid-'90's Fox SF series. In space, no-one can hear you scream... UNLESS IT'S A UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS BATTLECRY!
  • Stargate SG-1: Though most of the work is done by the Air Force, they do have a number of US Marines for combat support. Specifically, SG-3 (led for the first three-and-a-half seasons by Colonel Makepeace), -5, and -18 are drawn from the Marines. SG-25 is also primarily a combat support unit, but comes from the Army. It is quite common for General Hammond/O'Neill/Landry to order SG-1 to take a team of Marines for backup on dangerous missions.
  • The host of The Steve Wilkos Show is a former Marine, and it shows in his moments of Drill Sergeant Nasty in dealing with guests who have committed child abuse or some other criminal wrongdoing. And if said guest happens to also be a Marine, Wilkos' Reason You Suck Speeches will invariably include a mention of how said guest has disgraced the U.S. Marine Corps through his/her actions (see: Damian in the episode "Did My Boyfriend Download Child Porn?", who ultimately confessed to doing just that after feeding Wilkos a line of crap through his entire appearance).
  • Warehouse 13:
    • Pete Lattimer is a former Marine. His ex-wife is a serving Marine, as is her new husband, and her entire bridal party. Oh, and the show establishes that US Marine Corps discipline is powerful enough to overcome ancient Egyptian magic mind-control devices, at least temporarily.
    • About that last bit... In a later episode, a group of marines (in full dress) are mind controlled, and are the main adversaries for that episode. With how they move, they might as well have been from the Queen's Guard.
  • The X-Files has John Doggett and Walter Skinner, both former Marines.
  • The Vietnam War (2017) features commentary from a number of Marine veterans, including Karl Marlantes and Philip Caputo, who later became best-selling authors; Roger Harris, an African-American veteran who had to fight racism at home as well as Communists in Vietnam; William D. Ehrhart, whose early enthusiasm for the war completely vanished within months; and John Musgrave, a survivor of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder who now counsels other veterans who struggle with the same.

  • John Philip Sousa wrote Semper Fidelis after President William McKinley mentioned he disliked Hail to the Chief, and named it in honor of "The President's Own" (and, not coincidentally, Sousa's own) U.S. Marine Corps Band. It may just be the second best march ever written, after The Stars and Stripes Forever.
  • Stan Ridgeway's song "Camouflage" tells the story of a lone young marine private in The Vietnam War who was cut off far from his lines and facing certain death until a "big marine named Camouflage" joins him and helps him fight off a night assault from a Viet Cong force before leading him out of the jungle at dawn and warding off a final VC ambush before leaving him at the edge of the jungle near his HQ. It becomes clear over the course of the song that Camouflage is something more than he appears to be - bullets pass right through him except when he snatches one out of the air that was about to hit the song narrator - Camouflage responds by ripping palm trees out of the ground to attack the VC troops. After the narrator safely returns to camp he discovers Camouflage has been in the camp all week, heavily wounded and succumbed to his injuries last night with his dying wish being to save a young marine caught in an ambush.
  • Sodom, a German thrash metal band, has a song named Marines in their album M-16, about them during Vietnam.
  • Heck, the official hymn of the U.S. Marine Corps (properly called simply the Marines' Hymn but unofficially known as "The Halls of Montezuma") is a pretty heroic-sounding sound, not to mention perhaps the ultimate in Bragging Theme Tunes.
  • Sabaton's song "Devil Dogs" is about the US Marines in the First World War Battle of Bellau Wood. The battle is where the Marines earned the "devil dogs" nickname, as the German army described the Marines as like "hounds of Hell."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Traveller: The Imperial Marines which harken back to the Terran Confederation Marines which in turn harken back to certain famous Pre-starflight Terran military units.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Space Marines are a surprising Zig-Zagging of this trope. They are actually an army of Warrior Monks Religious Bruiser-ish Bio-Engineered (injected via a Super Serum coming from the genes of the children of a Physical God) Super Soldiers who are so detached from the rest of humanity that they are basically Human Weapons that exist only to fight, instead of the "traditional" Space Marine, which are US Marines IN SPAAAAAACE. However, there is a reason why they are named "Space Marines", it is meant to invoke the badassness from a traditional sci-fi Space Marine, which in turn are named as such to invoke the badassness of the US Marines.
    • Various elite Imperial Guard formations referred to as Stormtroopers fit the bill; they're elite well-equipped rapid-response units with strong identities and a rocky relationship with the regular military.
  • Delta Green allows you to create Player Characters who are US Marines. Professions range from FORECON (Force Recon) operator, Maritime Special Purpose Force operator, Security Force Regiment security and even a Division of Public Affairs Combat Camera personnel. USSOCOM operators can also be Marine Raiders.

    Video Games 
  • Rising Storm features the US 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th Marine Divisions, depicting their battles against the Japanese Army and Marines on Guadalcanal, Betio, Saipan, Otori Shima, and Iwo Jima. Two Marines are even featured on one of the game's posters. The Marines are once again a playable faction in Rising Storm 2: Vietnam, engaging the NVA and VC in several urban and jungle maps.
  • Medal of Honor:
  • Crysis features a large deployment of US Marines to the North Korean-controlled Lingshan Islands; much ass-kicking ensues. Then the Ceph show up, and everyone's running for their lives.
    • By Crysis 2 the world is on the receiving end of a gigantic Alien Invasion, and a detachment of US Marines is sent to rescue civilians in an alien-controlled, virus-infested New York after a PMC army fails to contain things. The protagonist is a Marine as well, but... special.
  • Call of Duty:
    • The primary American protagonist in Call of Duty 4 is a Force Recon Marine. This depiction, however, could be considered a subversion, as the main USMC troop is killed off, the player character's squad in particular precisely because of the "no one gets left behind" attitude, and the final missions are completed with you playing as an SAS member (albeit assisted by a few USMC troops). Of course, it could also be considered to be playing it straight, if you assume the game is saying that you need a nuke to beat the USMC.
    • Call of Duty: World at War features the US marines in the Pacific Campaign of WWII.
    • Call of Duty: Black Ops: Both Woods and Mason were Marines before being recruited into Operation 40. Mason was a Force Recon Captain, Woods a Master Sergeant.
    • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare: Jack Mitchell was US Marine who lost his left arm fighting in Seoul, he joins Atlas who provides him a new arm.
  • The Battlefield series has a fondness for the Corps, as every single game from the very beginning has featured them as one of the American factions, often alongside the regular Army. In Battlefield 2 the Marines take over entirely as the sole American faction facing off against Chinese with Chopper Support and the Middle Eastern Coalition, and they return for Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 - the only games they don't appear in in some form are the first Battlefield: Bad Company, Hardline (quite reasonably since that's Cops And Robbers rather than real warfare), Battlefield 1, and Battlefield 2042.
  • The United Nations Space Command Marine Corps in Halo is unashamedly based off of the USMC (literally, in-universe, where this was specifically chosen and done by the founders). While Marines don't have Spartans, they do have the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, plus Sergeant Major Avery J. Johnson:
    Johnson: Dear humanity: We regret bein' alien bastards, we regret comin' to Earth, and we most definitely regret that the Corps just blew up our raggedy-ass fleet!
    Marines: OO-RAH!
  • In Resident Evil 0, protagonist Billy Coen is a former Marine who was framed for a civilian massacre.
  • The game Close Combat: First to Fight (and the Wii port, Marines: Modern Urban Combat) puts the player in the role of a Marine fireteam leader during a fictional war in Lebanon fighting terrorsts, Syrians, and just for good measure, Iranian special forces.
  • In Mass Effect, the Marines and the Navy are effectively the same, and have the same non-commissioned officer and commissioned officer rank structure. The only difference is in the lower enlisted ranks. Shepard even calls him/herself a Marine during conversations with Ashley or Kaidan (who themselves are both Marines) and Captain Anderson started as a Marine.
    • The Navy pilots and maintains the ship, while the Marines are troops on board ready to deploy to a combat zone. It's the Navy's job to get them and drop them off safe. It's pretty much how it is today, Navy pilots, maintains and supplies Corpsmen (Medics), the Marines are dropped off and fight.
      • It's also worth noting that in the Mass Effect-verse humanity does not have an "Army", since all military operations depend on the fleet getting troops to where they're needed and securing orbit, and humanity doesn't, unlike the turians, maintain huge garrisons for planetary defense. The Systems Alliance military focuses on maneuver instead, and gets troops onto the battlefield by dropping them from Frigates, inside of Infantry Fighting Vehicles.
    • The quarians are the only other race in the verse to have marines. In their case, it is the Migrant Fleet Marines. The geth technically count as well, since every mobile platform is a rifleman. Turians only have soldiers, asari have huntresses and commandos, krogan don't have any military organization besides their clans, hanar rely on automated defenses and drell assassins, volus just bankroll the turian military, while salarians only have spies and special forces.
  • In [PROTOTYPE], the United States Marine Corps is presented as a Punch-Clock Villain (opposing Alex Mercer, an Anti-Hero at best), pretty much only doing their jobs in protecting the people and trying to contain the infection under the command of the Blackwatch, who are really using them as cannon fodder and as a scapegoat if things get bad. The Blackwatch are basically an army of overzealous psychopaths. In the end, the Marines are viewed as heroes by New York, so Blackwatch's plan of using them as fall guys failed and from what you can see in-game, the average Marine is a good person. The main character of [PROTOTYPE 2], James Heller, is a former Marine. He goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Mercer, who's gone all Knight Templar, ultimately killing him.
  • Fallout 2's Frank Horrigan is what happens when a Secret Service Agent is turned into a psychotic mutant and given drugs and Powered Armor. His last words are "Semper Fiiii".
  • Act of War has Marines as the basic infantry unit for the US Army faction....which is rather odd considering that the Army ought to have their own infantrymen rather than relying on the Marine Corps for their basic grunts. It is specified in the game/instruction manual that the "US Army" faction actually refers to the combined forces of the United States Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy (not to mention a bit of support from the CIA and other organizations). Why the developers didn't simply call the faction "US Military" is up for debate, though.
  • In Parasite Eve 2, the Marines arrive just in time to save you from a horde of laser-blade wielding, twelve-foot tall cyborgs. And they mop the floor with them, in what is one of the more epic cut scenes in the game. See here.
  • A few appearances the ARMA series:
    • In ARMA: Armed Assault, the USMC first appears as The Cavalry, saving the allied US Army and Royal Army Corps of Sahrani troops. The Army soldiers express embarrassment at having to be rescued by USMC air power. The expansion Queen's Gambit added the "Rahmadi Conflict" campaign, where the Marines are the main playable forces.
    • The default ARMA II campaign stars a Force Reconnaissance team, and therefore the USMC are the default "BLUFOR" for the game - hence Marine Corps weapons, Marine Corps vehicles.
  • They appear in Codemasters' Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising and Red River.
  • Subverted in Broken Helix; the marines sent to Area 51 (except Burton) are the true villains, but they're very powerful and hard to beat.
  • The Player Character in Corpse Killer. His team? Not so much.
  • Played straight with Sgt. Peterson's squad in Soldier of Fortune II.
  • All American soldiers in Men of Valor are marines.
  • In the Rise of Nations Expansion Pack Thrones and Patriots, starting in the Enlightenment Age the Americans get access to various incarnations of the USMC as unique basic infantry units, from Continental Marines up to Assault Marines in the Information Age.
  • In Slipstream 5000, the driver calling himself "Slayed" was apparently in the Marines. These days, though, he looks more like a gang leader. How he went from one to the other isn't mentioned.
  • In the first Half-Life game, the main human antagonist force is a Marine unit named HECU (Hazardous Environment Combat Unit). Interesting enough, in the first game they referred in the original game only as "the military". In the Opposing Force expansion they are given their current name and stated to be Marines, which is somewhat of a Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole as they use many equipment, vehicles, uniforms and terminology that doesn't make any sense for a Marine unit to have. The most likely reason is that the HECU became a Marine unit to emphasize their Badass Army status.
  • In The Dark Pictures Anthology House of Ashes, a Marine unit is involved in the raid that leads to several people being trapped in an ancient underground temple. Two of the Marines, Jason Kolchek and Nick Kay, are main characters and regularly reference and take pride in their status as members of the Marine Corps.


    Web Originals 
  • In Survival of the Fittest, the oldest of Danya's Big Four is Steven Wilson, a former US Marine who has betrayed his country for unknown reasons and is implied to have had ties to Danya for a long time.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Looney Tunes Wartime Cartoon Super-Rabbit, Bugs Bunny decides, after losing his super powers, that "this is a job for a real superman!" So he ducks into a phone booth and comes out as... a Marine. The Corps were so flattered that they inducted Bugs as a private. At the end of the war he was honorably discharged as a Master Sergeant.
  • On Justice League, Green Lantern John Stewart is a former Marine. When the League got transported to WWII and his ring was running on fumes, his experience helped get him in with Sgt. Rock's Easy Company.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Homer manages to pass himself off as a Marine to a former Marine, and almost loses it when he says "Semper Fudge", prompting the guy to ask "Did you just say 'Semper Fudge'?" and Homer to respond "No, I said the right thing".
    • Homer sees a US Marine guarding the American embassy in Australia and, apparently confusing him for a British Royal Guard, dances around in front of him to get him to crack a smile. The Marine just hauls off and punches him in the face.
      Marine: United States Marine Corps, sir! We don't take that kind of crap in America, sir!
    • In "Boy Scoutz N the Hood", after Bart goes on a squishee bender, he wakes up with Hangover Sensitivity and discovers he had joined the Junior Campers. Lisa mocks him by parodying the Marine motto: "The few. The proud. The geeky."
  • On Family Guy, Lois says that the Army is weak and the Marines are the men you want to fuck.
  • Daffy Duck joins the Marine Corps in The Looney Tunes Show episode "Semper Lie". He later takes part in an armed assault on an Albanian prison in order to rescue Bugs.
  • Gung-Ho and Leatherneck of G.I. Joe. Beach Head and Sgt Slaughter too. Even Mainframe the resident computer geek is a marine.
  • Phineas and Ferb: In "Ferb TV", the Marine recruitment ads are parodied with the Fireside Girls. Their motto: "The few. The relentless. The Fireside Girls."
    Isabella: We also have sleepovers!

    Real Life 
  • USMC seen here.
  • Every other branch of the service, including the Coast Guard, tells and retells the joke about how X individual joined the Marine Corps because they couldn't match the IQ requirement of Y branch of service, where "Y" is invariably the branch that the joker belongs to. While these are just jokes (and they aren't just restricted to jokes about Marines; if you're Army, you tell that about Navy, Air Force, etc; if you're Navy, you tell it about the Army, and so forth), there is some truth to the fact that, in general, Marine Corps training creates service members who act first and think later, often to their own detriment. Of course, in the Marine style of warfare, spending time thinking things through thoroughly before acting is suicide.
    • The classic joke is that "Marine" stands for Muscles Are Required, Intelligence Not Essential.
      • Or, according to the US Navy, "Marine" stands for "My Ass Rides In Navy Equipment".
      • Also, "USMC" means "Uncle Sam's Misguided Children." This was originally another insult along the lines of the above, but then the Marines adopted it themselves.
      • “When I graduated from the Naval Academy, I tried to get into the Marine Corps, but my parents were married.” —John McCain, U.S. Senator (and 2008 Republican presidential candidate). He ended up a Navy aviator. For the record, his son Jimmy McCain enlisted in the Marines, during the Iraq War, no less — and yes, the elder McCain was married to Jimmy's mother.
      • "I already knew how to run wildly into the guns of an enemy who was shooting at me. Therefore, I felt the Marine Corps had nothing else to teach me." — General George S. Patton, on why he joined the Army and not the Marine Corps.
      • Among Marines, the in-joke is that USMC stands for "U Signed a Motherfucking Contract".
  • There are, believe it or not, other Marines in other militaries out there. Some—like the Royal Marines—are more of a dedicated special operations force more like Navy SEALs as opposed to the massive rapid-reaction force, while others are more similar to the USMC. The Korps Mariniers of Royal Netherlands Navy are similarly organized with a similar mission, as are the Russian Naval Infantry.
    • The SEALs are considerably more similar to the SBS rather than the Royal Marines. The Royal Marines could better be described as an amalgamation of the USMC and the 75th Ranger Regiment.
    • The Soviet Navy had no marines prior to the Great Patriotic war, and first marine regiments at the Black Sea were formed on-the-spot with enemy attack already underway. Nevertheless, Soviet marines proved to be utterly terrifying and mercilessly effective in battle. These sailors had, from the go, more technical expertise and physical conditioning than the average Joe; but more importantly, they had exemplary level of unit cohesion, a shitload of self-respect and professional pride, and incredibly strong morale. Therefore, Soviet marines immediately got the reputation for being relentlessly aggressive, tough to break and proficient in assault tactics (often leading the charge and bolstering the regular troops' morale). The unusually high number of semi-automatic SVT rifles in Crimea arsenals and sailors' ability to adequately maintain them, as well as their propensity to use grenades a lot, helped too (also, SVT high rate of fire made these marines routinely wear 7.62 ammo belts around their bodies, giving them a huge intimidation bonus). In the end, their all-black Navy uniforms (which earned them a Black Death / Black Devils nickname from the enemy) were later repeatedly seen at the most dire spearheads far away from any open sea. See them in their full glory here So good they were, their trademark striped seaman undershirts (telnyashka) were later adopted by VDV, the Russian paratroopers.
    • More similar to the U.S. Marines are the Republic of Korea Marine Corps, which is also an elite combined-arms amphibious/vanguard force formally under the supervision of the Navy but de facto autonomous. Explicitly modeled on the USMC (but with a lot of traditions inherited from the Imperial Japanese Army), the ROKMC has a reputation about as badass as their American models.
  • The Marine Corps spent most of its life without dedicated special forces units. When the Marine Raiders were established during World War II, many Marines were offended by the concept of an elite force within an elite force and the implication that Raiders could be tougher and more capable than any given Marine. The units were subsequently disbanded. However, Force Recon has been around for many decades, and many would consider it a special operations force in all but name. Technically it's merely a "Special Operations Capable" force. As of August 2014, the Marine Special Operations Battalions are being renamed as Marine Raider Battalions. This applies only to the units themselves, the personnel in those units are still Marines, rather than Marine Raiders.
  • India has the Marine Commandos or MARCOs who are more akin to the British SBS or US Navy SEALs as in they are a naval special operations force drawn from Navy personnel. Good luck finding any who are willing to even acknowledge their membership in this unit, as it is extremely secretive. Like the SAS or SBS, members are not allowed to acknowledge their existence in this unit.
  • This trope is one of the major causes of Marines-Army rivalry. Once upon a time, top Army commanders felt that the Marines took all the credit in wars.
  • Who were the first to ever conceptualize and deploy marines? Persians.
  • The Romans initially had difficulty dealing with the superior Carthaginian navy. That changed when they started using heavily armored infantry to board enemy ships. The Ancient Greeks did something similar with their hoplites.
  • The first specialized Marine corps were created by the Spanish.

Alternative Title(s): United States Marines