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Sergeant Rock

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Private Cole: Why is it us? Why us?
Colour Sergeant Bourne: Because we're 'ere, lad. Nobody else. Just us.

Sergeant Rock is a tough non-commissioned officer (NCO), usually serving in a position of leadership. The naval equivalent is either the Bosun or the Chief (depending on the organization), who usually fills the same role on a ship.

Sergeant Rock is what The Neidermeyer and the Gung Holier Than Thou dreams he is. However, Sergeant Rock differs from The Neidermeyer in that he may be a bully and a blowhard, but he gets the job done while never ordering his troops to do anything he would not be willing to do himself, and thus the troops respect him, even if they're not always too fond of him personally. Also, unlike the Neidermeyer, even if he'd never tell them, he usually cares deeply about the soldiers he's in charge of. He won't say We Have Reserves, but if he needs any, he'll be guaranteed to get reserves when it matters. He differs from Gung Holier Than Thou in that he really has what it takes.

If The Squad is only the size of a squad, he may be the man in charge. Otherwise, he's either helping Ensign Newbie learn the ropes, or making sure whatever Colonel Badass needs done gets done (sometimes both). Either way, he's usually a lot rougher around the edges than the officer he serves under. Whatever the situation, you can be sure Sergeant Rock is right in the middle of the firefight, whatever the odds, and whatever ordinance is being tossed around.

This trope has its roots in European military structure and class divisions, coalescing in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Sergeant was the highest rank a private soldier could reasonably expect to get to. Therefore, any sergeant around was likely a Working-Class Hero who had come Up Through the Ranks, and, most importantly, he had come from the same place as the men in his command. Above sergeant, however, there was a career ceiling, and it was very rare for a sergeant to get promoted to lieutenant (although it did happen). Everyone from lieutenant on upward had likely bought their commission, came from the higher classes, and had never been a common soldier. High birth didn't mean that commissioned officers couldn't be badasses, but it did mean that they couldn't have this sort of relationship with the men under their command. The commissioned officer counterpart is the Colonel Badass - Colonel is the highest rank in which you can expect to have chances to get into a bang-bang fight.

Has a very, very high chance of being Made of Iron and also a badass. If also intelligent and/or educated, there are good chances he will make it Up Through the Ranks as a commissioned officer. Such officers are known as mustangs, or, less favourably, "johnny jump-ups". In some militaries, everyone starts as an enlisted private, so any officer may have once been a Sergeant Rock.

Named for the DC Comics character who first appeared in 1958. Rock served in the European Theater of Operations, was known for keeping his head in the ugliest situations, and for growling a lot of gung-ho sound bites. See Sgt. Rock.

Compare Drill Sergeant Nasty. The Stern Teacher and Da Editor are more or less the civilian versions. This trope is the military specific version of The Reliable One. Da Chief can sometimes serve as the rough Law Enforcement counterpart to this trope depending on the amount of action scenes the character is involved in.

This archetype is indeed Truth in Television, and many Real Life military forces actively encourage this kind of behavior and personality.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Hiruma from Eyeshield 21 acts like one to his team. He may be a serious jerkass that his teammates fear, but they all genuinely respect him and are genuinely loyal to him.
  • Full Metal Panic!: Sagara Sousuke, along with being a Drill Sergeant Nasty. Despite being a pretty harsh and sadistic teacher, he does get remarkably good results. Just look at the transformation of the whole army of girly rugby players. He's an even more effective teacher than Gauron, despite Gauron having actually been a reputable and respectable AS instructor at a camp. Sousuke's coaching of Kaname actually managed to make it so that she could best Yu Lan, the assassin that was trained since childhood by Gauron to be a merciless killer.
  • Batou and the Major can be pretty strict on their subordinates in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex but really care about them and do everything they can to protect them.
  • Combat Instructor Captain Nanoha Takamachi of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. Don't be fooled by the girly title; Nanoha can and will vaporize anything in her way, and she expects you to do the same, no excuses. She's respected by her entire unit because they know all their harsh training is because she wants them to be the strongest.
  • Lieutenant Natarle Badgiruel - in spirit if not rank - from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, as a foil to the Cool Big Sis / Team Mom Captain Murrue Ramius.
  • Lady Une from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, is called the Iron Lady for her stern and cold demeanor. However, she makes a few questionable decisions (such as holding the space colonies hostage in order to defeat the Gundams), causing her beloved commander Treize to encourage her to "act more gracefully". This causes her to develop a Split Personality which is a Proper Lady whose one goal is to serve Treize; by the end of the series she resolves the personality conflict and combines the competence with the kindness to become A Mother to Her Men.
  • Rebuild World: Shirakabe is the face of the old guard in the Private Military Contractors company of Drankam, and clashes fiercely against The Rival Katsuya for his prideful stubbornness. Shirakabe gets so used to dealing with coddled Boisterous Weakling young hunters there, that seeing Akira being a Humble Hero is downright shocking. Shirakabe prides himself on his Gut Feeling, and later serves as a Sink or Swim Mentor to the reformed New Meat Togami.
  • Sergeant Knox of the space marines in Star Blazers / Space Battleship Yamato.

    Comic Books 
  • The Trope Namer is Sgt. Rock of DC Comics, of course.
  • Sgt Rock's nearest Transatlantic Equivalent was actually an officer: Captain Hercules Hurricane, Royal Marines commando and possible metahuman. He's not always the easiest guy to work with, having quite the Hair-Trigger Temper and very little patience for anyone who can't meet his high standards, but when it all kicks off he leads from the front. Especially when he has a "ragin' fury".
  • Captain Simon Savage from Captain Savage And His Leatherneck Raiders. Marvel Comics really love this trope.
  • Cherry in "Sgt. Cherry and her Squealing Commandos" in Cherry Comics #12.
  • Michael "Combat" Kelly is another Marvel character who qualified. An army boxer released from military prison to lead a squad of Boxed Crooks in Combat Kelly and his Deadly Dozen.
  • In a Fantastic Four story, while helping a team of marines to escape a timeless dimensional pocket, Ben Grimm (not the Thing at that moment) shows badass command skill. The actual marine sergeant offers him a job as drill sergeant on the spot.
  • Green Lantern:
    • Kilowog of the Green Lantern Corps also qualifies. Bonus points for also being a former drill sergeant and one of the highest ranking members of the Corps.
    • Kilowog's successor as drill sergeant, Stel, is rockier than rock, being made of metal.
    • in the Bizarro Comics story "The Few, The Proud", a literal sergeant rock is in charge of training the Green Lantern Corps Reserves.
      "Although I am a genderless chunk of stone I expect you to address me as 'sir'!"
  • Nick Fury started out as this with the Howling Commandos before moving on to become a Colonel Badass.
  • The various sergeants in Sturmtruppen are normally sadists beyond belief... Up until the battle starts, at which point they'll use their vast experience to get the soldiers to win the day or at least come out alive:
    • One sergeant is the experienced leader of the battalion's commando squad, and the rest of the squad knows he will get them back alive - and when the second lieutenant forced himself on the team, the sergeant was the only one who actually cared to bring him back alive in spite of his immense dislike for the fool.
    • In one occasion, one led a frontal attack on enemy lines, and while it's unclear if it was successful the battalion suffered exactly one casualty... Who was actually a soldier who pretended to having got killed first to skip the attack (leading the sergeant to use the "corpse" as a shield against a machine gun nest and an improvised gangway on barbed wire to protect the living soldiers). After the battle he even had the one fallen recommended for a posthumous decoration, and when it came he personally came to the graveyard to symbolically hang it on his grave (only to get a heart attack after the soldier turned out to be still alive).
    • Occasionally the sergeants actually have a good relationship with the troops, who at the very least respect their experience. The only exception to the latter bit is the pair from the 27th Armored Battalion (of Discipline), the toughest soldiers in the army who have vastly more combat experience than even the sergeants.
  • Parodied by Alan Moore in his series Supreme with "Sergeant Strong and his Gold-Brickin' Dogfaces." Parodied again by Moore in the Image crossover Judgment Day with "Battlin' Baron and his Roarin' Roughnecks." (These also parody Nick Fury and his Howlin' Commandos, but the art style is clearly meant to evoke Sergeant Rock.)
  • Tomahawk: Tomahawk was this to the Rangers, already being a veteran of French-Indian War by the outbreak of the Revolutionary War.
  • The Transformers (IDW): Kup has been reworked to invoke this image, particularly in The Transformers: All Hail Megatron.

    Fan Works 
  • The plot of Old Soldiers Never Die is touched off when Harry ends up asking for help from a group of these-cum-retirees who collectively come up with a way to remove the 'retiree' from their titles, and give Harry the authority to back it.
  • Telny has this role in Racer And The Geek. Out of all the mercenaries, he's one of the more aggressive and skilful ones.
  • Shining Armor assumes this role in Shell Shock. He's heavily implied to be special forces of some kind.
  • In Slipping Between Worlds, junior British army officer Philip Holtack meets a lot of sergeants, both on Roundworld and on the Discworld, and finds himself concluding that however they differ in appearance, aptitude, applied life skills and personal inclination, they are all, without exception, chips off Sergeant Rock. Even, in his own personal way, Sergeant Fred Colon.
  • Sarge of All Guardsmen Party is the NCO in charge of the party and is described as being the physical embodiment of what a sergeant should be - tough, cynical, thinks everyone above his rank is an idiot, and determined to keep his men alive.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Amazing Maurice, Darktan serves as both this and Drill Sergeant Nasty to the rats. One example of his Sergeant Rock side is when he leads the Rescue Squad to rescue Sardines from the Pit because No One Gets Left Behind. He takes on multiple terriers singl-pawed and, at the end of the mission, hugs Nourishing and says "Welcome to the Rescue Squad!"
  • Sarge from Cars, who is a talking World War II army jeep.
  • Ronin from Epic (2013). A seasoned Leafman warrior, leader of the Leafmen, Nod's guardian and teacher, and a friend of Nod's late father
  • Sgt.Tamara Calhoun in the Hero's Duty game in Wreck-It Ralph.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Sergeant Apone from Aliens is pretty much this. Played by Al Matthews, a real-life Marine who was the first black Marine to be promoted to sergeant during the Vietnam War, he has many memorable lines and has influenced many other sergeant characters in future works.
    Apone: All right, sweethearts, what are you waiting for? Breakfast in bed? Another glorious day in the Corps. A day in the Marine Corps is like a day on the farm. Every meal's a banquet! Every paycheck a fortune! Every formation a parade, I love the Corps!
  • Sergeant Major Rawlins, played by Morgan Freeman, in the 1989 movie Glory.
  • The Guardian (2006): Kevin Costner. He is a Petty Officer training rescue swimmers for the Coast Guard. He is something of a Drill Sergeant Nasty and believes in The Spartan Way, but that is because he is a perfectionist about saving lives. He is also Tough But Fair and very much Married to the Job.
  • In Heartbreak Ridge, Gunnery Sergeant Tom Highway played by Clint Eastwood is made of this trope.
  • Big Joe (Telly Savalas) from Kelly's Heroes is a veteran sergeant who's got de facto leadership of his platoon thanks to the captain being a lazy idiot who spends more time profiteering than leading. Unlike the captain, Big Joe has earned every ounce of respect he gets from his men.
  • The McKenzie Break: Sergeant-Major Cox is a tough, plain-spoken noncom who leads the guards in trying to break up riots. He also doesn't show any fear while giving Connor a tour of the camp as several dozen prisoners follow them in a menacing manner.
  • After learning the ropes from his Drill Sergeant Nasty instructor, Carl Brashear goes on to become a Naval Master Diver and reaches the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer in Men of Honor.
  • Sykes from Oblivion (2013). Complete with one-liners, Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique, and Big Damn Heroes moment.
  • In The Odd Angry Shot, Harry is the corporal in command of Patrol 22. He is the longest serving member, and is doing his second tour of duty in Vietnam. He does his best to keep everyone alive and keep their spirits up no matter what happens.
  • Sgt Foley from An Officer and a Gentleman.
    ... I know why most of you are here; we weren't born yesterday. Before you get to join United Airlines and sell them what we teach, you gotta give the Navy six years of your life! Lots of things can happen in six years, including another war. And if any of you are too peace-loving to dump napalm on an enemy village where there MIGHT be women and children, that's what I'm here to discover...! I expect to lose at least half of you before I'm finished. I will use every means necessary, fair and unfair, to trip you up - that is, to expose your weaknesses... both as a potential aviator, and as a human being. The prize at the other end is a flight education worth $1 million! But first, you gotta get past ME.
  • In Operation: Pacific, the character called simply "The Chief" is this. As the Chief of the Boat (a position unique to US Navy submarines), he is the senior NCO aboard, and is responsible for handling the enlisted crewmen the same way an Army sergeant is responsible for handling his unit's enlisted soldiers.
  • Barnes in Platoon - at least to most of the platoon. Even the Heads respect (and fear) his abilities, even if they want him dead.
  • John Stryker (John Wayne) in Sands of Iwo Jima (and many of Wayne's other war movies).
  • Tom Sizemore's Sergeant Horvath from Saving Private Ryan. His reaction to being shot twice is "I just got the wind knocked outta' me, I'm fine."
  • Seven Ways from Sundown: Henessey is a grizzled old sergeant of the Texas Rangers who takes the rookie Seven under his wing and does his best to teach him, guide him and keep him alive.
  • Subverted with Sergeant First Class Troy Barlow from Three Kings. Although he is a trained and capable Sergeant in his own right, he's every bit as fallible as the rest of his squad, and addresses his troops in a more polite, nonchalant manner, as opposed to the more stern and harsh way that is common for this trope. He also isn't exactly gung-ho about going into battle, and is the most reluctant about wanting to continue on with the heist after a botched first attempt.
  • Sgt Maj Basil Plumley, from We Were Soldiers, potrayed by Sam Elliott. Straight Up Badass with his .45 Automatic (which he carried because he felt the new, plastic M-16 to be unproven compared to his previous, much more solid-feeling weapons.)
    Sgt. Savage: "G'mornin', Sergeant Major."
    Plumley: "How do you know what kind of goddamn day it is?"

    Sgt. Savage: "Beautiful mornin', Sergeant Major."
    Plumley: "What are you, a fucking weather man now?"

    Col. Moore: "I think you oughta get yourself an M-16."
    Plumley: "Sir, the time comes I need one, they'll be plenty lying on the ground."

    Plumley: *standing in the middle of a hail of bullets* "Can't take no pictures from down there, sonny."
    Galloway: "Sir, I'm a non-combatant."
    Plumley: "Ain't no such thing, today."

    Plumley: *after all the fighting is done* "Now, that's a nice day, Sergeant Savage."
  • Sgt. (later Lt.) David Manning in When Trumpets Fade is a radical deconstruction of this trope. He's definitely cool under fire, and he leads his squad of very green replacements to victory. Of course, he's also a Dirty Coward who tends to get his men killed saving his own hide when he's not shooting them in the back himself.
  • Zulu: Colour Sergeant Bourne definitely qualifies. While he is very stern and commanding with his troops, he still shows signs of softness like comforting Private Cole's Heroic BSoD and quoting Psalm 46 to help ease his soldier's tension from the oncoming Zulu attack.

  • Gretchen was something of a Sergeant Rock to the other camp followers in 1632.
  • Dale Brown books have Ranger Sergeant Major Ray Jefferson and Marine Corps now-Master Sergeant Chris Wohl, who won't take any nonsense from their officers.
  • Valiar Marcus from Codex Alera is a somewhat odd example of this trope, because In addition to being an experienced centurion and managing to be given "Valiant" as his actual legal name, he's also Fidelius Ex Cursori, a spy.
  • Jubal Branch in the Company Z series by J.T. Edson. And Billy Jack from the Civil War series.
  • Staff Sergeant (later Gunnery Sergeant) Torin Kerr of the Confederation of Valor series lives, breathes, eats and excretes this trope. An excellent example of the trope, as the first book has her being a Sergeant Rock not just to her subordinates, but also to a newly minted second lieutenant assigned as her superior.
  • Death Star has Master Chief Petty Officer Tenn Graneet, head gunner on the Death Star, was like this to his men. He wasn't a bad boss at all provided that they did their jobs well.
  • Discworld:
    • In the later novels, Detritus the troll becomes the drill sergeant in charge of training new troops, also notable because Detritus is literally made of rock.
    • Played straight with Sergeant Jackrum in Monstrous Regiment. While Corporal Strappi (The Neidermeyer and The Political Officer) bullies the weaker members of the squad, Jackrum is protective of them, while pushing the ones he thinks will push back, at the same time making sure Lt. Blouse (Ensign Newbie) gives the right orders.
    • Sergeant-at-Arms John Keel/Commander Sam Vimes in Night Watch. The original version taught young Vimes everything he knew, and helped keep the city together during a revolution. The second version... also taught Vimes everything he knew and helped the city through a revolution.
    • Fred Colon is described by Vimes as "one of nature's sergeants," to the extent that it's more or less impossible for Vimes to imagine Colon in any other role.
    • When Vimes isn't standing in for his dead commanding officer in order to repair the timeline, he's more of a Colonel Badass. Vimes' Battle Butler, Willikins, definitely fits the trope, though, when he joins the military in Jingo.
  • The Mercenary and its sequels, part of the Falkenberg's Legion series, has Sergeant Major Calvin, right-hand man to soldier-turned-mercenary Colonel Badass John Christian Falkenberg.
  • Gaunt's Ghosts:
    • Major Rawne is an officer, but fulfills the trope perfectly: he is a ruthless and manipulative bastard who has told his commanding officer (a Colonel Badass) to his face that he intends to kill him, turns his top subordinate into an even more ruthless killing machine, and ran a black market before joining the Imperial Guard, yet is highly respected by his subordinates and his squad is considered one of the Ghosts' deadliest units.
    • Most of the Ghosts fit this trope to some extent. Corbec, despite being a Colonel, is well loved by the men and is always in the thick of the fighting. Other's who fit the trope are pretty much any of the Sergeants (Especially Mkoll) and most of the captains (especially Kolea).
  • Alaric the Grey Knight is promoted after the first novel, but he starts as Justicar — their analog of Sergeant. He is little bit more low-key than the trope's standard too. While he gets to be Acting Brother-Captain at the end of the first book, afterwards he is returned to the rank of Justicar. This was because the higher ups distrusted his unusually imaginative and curious mind.
  • Honor Harrington positively revels in this trope, with many examples, including the one of the most memorable Sergeant Rocks around — Sir Horace Harkness.
  • Earl Swagger from Stephen Hunter's novels served with distinction in the United States Marines during WWII and won the Medal of Honor for his heroism. He then returns to civilian life and becomes an Arkansas State Trooper, where he continues his tradition of badass antics. His son Bob Lee Swagger combined this with Cold Sniper during the Vietnam War until a mission went bad, sending him into a tailspin of PTSD and alcoholism.
  • Pretty much every sergeant in the McAuslan series. But particularly Regimental Sergeant-Major Mackintosh, who served twelve years in the Scots Guards and then in the Commandos during WWII, and is utterly unflappable. Although Sergeant Baxter is The Neidermeyer among them.
  • In the Tom Clancy novel Patriot Games, Sergeant Major Noah Breckinridge has been in the Marine Corps for 28 years, during which time he has "been everywhere a Marine could go, and done everything a Marine could do." He's currently the senior NCO of the U.S. Naval Academy's Marine Corps detachment and the senior firing instructor at the Academy firing range. He gets a couple of chances to show his badassness during the novel, especially in the climax.
  • In the Phule's Company series, there's a sergeant who literally changed his name, appearance and accent just to emulate the perfect British Sergeant-Major— and he's not even British.
  • Sharpe: In the later books, Patrick Harper takes on this role. Interestingly averted when Sharpe himself attained the rank - he spent his days as a Sergeant as an armory assistant in Seringapatam, then an intelligence officer' adjutant, and then as part of Arthur Wellesley's staff. As the extremely rare case of a soldier making the jump from sergeant to lieutenant, he becomes this trope in all but rank as the story progresses, being a Working-Class Hero who fits in more with the lower-class men under his command than with the Upper Class Twits in the officers' mess.
  • From the Starfist series of books, Hammer Schultz is a perfect example, even thought he's a Lance Corporal.
  • Stark's War has the eponymous Sergeant Stark, and also a lot of the other sergeants we meet. They contrast sharply with most of the commissioned officers, who are on a spectrum between "useless" and "active liability", being Armchair Military who direct (or rather, screw up) combat operations via remote communications link. The troops certainly consider their sergeants more solid and reliable than their officers.
  • "Jelly" Jelal of Starship Troopers was a sergeant and fit the trope of getting the job done, whether the troops liked him personally or not. Sgt. Zim also counts, once he takes to the field and captures the Brain Bug.
  • 1st Sgt. Welsh in The Thin Red Line, although several other NCOs (e.g. Bell) qualify as well.
  • Colonel TR Steele of the Tour of the Merrimack series. Not kind, not polite, but definitely the person you want watching your back when fighting a Horde of Alien Locusts.
  • Sergeant Major Danielov in Victoria, an innovative and sometimes irreverent special forces operator who becomes a very valuable senior NCO advisor to the main military protagonist, Captain John Rumford.
  • X-Wing Series: Wedge Antilles might be softer than most examples on this page, being Mildly Military and a Reasonable Authority Figure who will handily forget regulations and rules if it's in someone's best interest. Even so, to the Ragtag Band of Misfits on their Last-Second Chance who he forms into Wraith Squadron, he can at times be extremely cruel. He berates and scorns Kell Tainer for cowardice and folding up when people need him; cuts down Tyria Sarkin for attacking another pilot; all but taunts Castin Donn for being uneasy around nonhumans; mocks Myn Donos. It actually helps them shape up, and the same people he's cruelest to, when they make the effort, he is extremely protective. He looks out for them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5 has this in the one-shot character Sergeant Major Plug. He comes aboard as the chief enlisted Marine in a battalion of several thousand, and is first seen arresting several Marines for brawling, regardless of who had the moral high-ground. He shouts constantly, seems to treat his men like trash and likes phrases like "mutant maggots," but, at the end of the episode, is decent enough to give a female Marine a minute to give her lover a kiss goodbye as they head off for combat.
  • Sgt. Chip Saunders (Vic Morrow) in Combat! Saunders is depicted as a stern, frequently grim and endlessly burdened squad leader. He occasionally entertains the squad's ideas and requests, but has low tolerance for frivolity. He does not hesitate to shut down dissent, and frequently shames subordinates, other non-commissioned officers, civilians and even superior officers to get them to abet his solution.
  • Despite being a (self appointed) captain, Mainwaring in Dad's Army has elements of this - on multiple occasions, he chose to do a particularly dangerous task himself rather than endangering his men.
  • Firefly: Malcolm Reynolds during the Battle for Serenity Valley. While a milder version of this trope, he wasn't very kind to his men at all during the battle. He did nothing to alleviate their despair at the grim future that awaited them, and he verbally berated at least a few of his men, but they still all followed him to the end, for the most part. That being said, due to Independent High Command being taken prisoner/killed he wound up with four thousand men under his command. As a sergeant.
  • Plenty of these guys appear in minor roles on JAG. Not surprising considering the fact that the creator and showrunner was an active duty Marine from 1955 to 1959. Gunnery Sgt. Victor Galindez is an example of a recurring character on the show who exhibits this trope. Both in the office and after he requests a transfer back to combat duty post-9/11.
  • In The Pacific, Sgt. John Basilone fits this trope, but not as much as badass Sgt. Elmo 'Gunny' Haney.
  • Sir Ansgar on the fantasy-themed reality show, The Quest, who starts out being very harsh with the Paladins (contestants) but gradually warms up to them.
  • Colour Sergeant Anderson in Soldier, Soldier was an early role for Robert Glenister.
  • CPO Miles O'Brien in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. While his job might change he usually sits in the middle of the command structure grumbling about his orders, trying to keep the vacuum on the right side of the bulkheads and reassuring the newbies.
  • Staff Sergeant (later Sergeant First Class) Zeke Anderson inTour of Duty, especially in the first few episodes.
  • Sergeant Major Jonas Blane in The Unit is a Sergeant Rock to a squad made up of Sergeant Rocks.

  • A character of this sort is referenced in the XTC song "Sgt. Rock (Is Going to Help Me)" and lampshaded in the title. The singer is a Casanova Wannabe who feels being more like his fictional hero will help him become successful with women.

    Pro Wrestling 


    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 has them in droves — after all, while the usual modus operandi of Imperium's armed forces in We Have Reserves, the world around is so dangerous that you need NCOs to keep their heads level.
    • Gunnery Sergeant Harker of the Catachan Devils is one tough bastard, known for hauling around a Heavy Bolter that he calls "Payback".
    • Colour Sergeant Jerran Kell of the Cadian 8th serves as the loyal bodyguard of Lord Castellan Ursarkar Creed and makes sure that the men under the Castellan's command obey his orders to the letter.
    • Ironhand Straken of the Catachan 2nd is a Colonel, but has the demeanor and attitude down pat. So far, in fact, that he provides the bulk of the page quotes.
    • The Tau Empire's Cadre Fireblades tend to be Sergeant Rocks. They are high ranked Fire Warriors who declined the chance to pilot Battlesuits, usually either because they understand the practicality of having a commander fight with the infantry or simply because they prefer to continue to fight with the lower ranked Fire Warriors.
    • The Tau special character Darkstrider is similar. He's certainly brave and talented, and has a long list of battlefield successes attributed to him, but he refuses to move beyond the rank of a Pathfinder team leader. Given the Fire Caste's views on tradition and deference to authority, this is grounds for insubordination and termination, but because he's so good at what he does, they overlook it and allow him to stay in his unit.

    Video Games 
  • Call of Duty has a few:
    • In Modern Warfare 2 there is Sgt. Foley, is willing to put himself and his squad at risk to get the job done. In one instance, he disobeys a retreat order so that they could continue to cover evacuating civilians.
    • The third one also has Sandman, a Master Sergeant. He leads his team with great skill and courage, and his men have undying respect for him. Like Foley above, he also refuses a retreat order and insists on continuing the mission.
    • Sgt. Roebuck in Call of Duty: World at War, taking up the mantle as leader of Miller's squad after Sullivan is ambushed and killed on Peleliu. He shows exceptional courage and grace amidst the chaos, and even tries to keep morale up.
    • The first game (and its expansion) has a textbook example in Sgt. Moody, who spends every minute of screentime calming panicking privates, bawling out cowardly medics and performing minor miracles at Captain Foley's request.
  • City of Heroes amazingly gives us both the Big Good, Statesman, and the Big Bad, Lord Recluse.
    • Statesman is a notorious nitpicker yet he has the same high standards for himself as for the rest of his team - his logic being having superpowers means they don't get to make mistakes or accept good-enough since people depend on them. He annoys the ever-loving crap out of his team-mates as nothing ever seems good enough for him, but he is the first to blame himself and double his training if he ever messes up too.
    • Lord Recluse is a devout social Darwinist who founded a country for his empire of evil to operate out of - firmly believing that the strong should lead the weak, but by the same token he believes subordinates should challenge their leaders if they see an opportunity, lest the people in charge become complaisant, incompetent and/or weak themselves. Everyone knows the second they become a Bad Boss Lord Recluse's laws approve of slitting the perpetrator's throat, as he includes himself as part of said system it actually promotes patriotism and team-work within his army-of-doom. All soldiers know the second they become weak or corrupt a subordinate will try to kill them to get their position and as a result both Lord Recluse and his officers tend to be homicidal-but-fair. The reason he ends up being respected is that under this system he has remained firmly in-charge despite welcoming attemptd assassinations for over fifty years.
  • Technically, Captain Haile from Diablo III is commissioned, but he's definitely got the attitude, toughness, and intestinal fortitude to qualify as a Sergeant Rock. An example:
    Recruit: [panicking] Demons! Captain, what should we do?
    Captain Haile: Private, if you need to be reminded which end of the sword goes where, you haven't been paying attention!
  • Varin, the leader of the Brutes tribe, from Digital Devil Saga is a villainous example. He's a hardass of the highest calibre but, as his offscreen decimation of the Wolves tribe shows, he's also an extremely talented military commander whose men are fiercely loyal to him - as shown when the party invades his base. It's sadly subverted when it's revealed that he truly doesn't care about them and just wants to escape the Junkyard's Forever War.
  • From the same developer, Bast and Generals Eander and Keyser from Exit Fate also count - although Bast is a somewhat more approachable version.
  • Paladin Danse of the Brotherhood of Steel In Fallout 4. Should you progress along the Minutemen quest line, Ronnie Shaw becomes this for all Minutemen.
  • Halo:
    • Sgt. Major Avery J. Johnson revels in this trope. A little-known video of him introducing the audience to Halo: Combat Evolved at its release party in Chicago gives a pretty good indication of his personality:
      Johnson: "Alright all you greenhorns, listen up! My name is Sergeant Johnson. When you are not in my presence you can call me anything your degenerate hearts desire, assuming your tiny brains can string together a couple of cuss-words. But while I'm here, you will address me as 'Sir, yes sir!'"
      • For his full resume, click here.
    • The Master Chief qualifies as well — 'Master Chief Petty Officer' and 'Sergeant Major' are the same pay grade. One's just Navy, and the other Army or Marines. Though people who've only played the games would know him as more of a One-Man Army, he's shown in the Expanded Universe to be a capable leader (in fact, he's the de-facto leader of most of the Spartan-IIs).
    • There's also lesser-known Recurring Extra Sgt. Stacker - a milder-mannered counterpart to Johnson who can be identified by his soft cap instead of a proper helmet. But he can think of some pretty funny insults against bad guys. In fact, he actually survives the entirety of the original trilogy (along with the Australian Chips Dubbo), and even makes a brief appearance in Halo 4.
    • Sergeant Forge from Halo Wars. His men all say "He's the guy you'd want next to you in a foxhole, but you'd never introduce him to your sister." He's even badass enough to go man-to-man against an Arbiter and win, using an Energy Sword to finish the job.
  • Captain Narville from Killzone 2 has a zero tolerance for negativity, but he is respected by his men who knows he takes great risks, and would never ask them to do anything he wouldn't do himself.
  • Matilda in Last Scenario, a rare female example.
  • Sabres of Infinity:
    • Sergeant Solhammond Lanzerel is tough, brave, disciplined and of course, not afraid to his hands dirty. He's also got no tolerance whatsoever for baneblooded buggers who are likely to get him or his men killed.
    • Sergeant Aethelstan Harlech fits the core of this trope while subverting a lot of the expectations. He's loyal to his men and they to him, and he's always in the mud and blood with them, but he is not The Reliable One. His "lads" are more like a street gang than a military unit (though they fight like berserkers once sabres are drawn), and he feels no loyalty whatsoever to the baneblooded officer who he has to serve under. Winning that loyalty takes some doing.
  • The Head of Security from Space Station 13 is supposed to be this, being the best equipped member of the security team and directly commanding them from the field. In practice, it can depend on the player.
  • The Soldier in Team Fortress 2, although he does not necessarily lead either team. He also (mis)quotes and highly reveres Sun Tzu, which should probably qualify him for Cultured Warrior as well.
    • He's also got elements of the General Ripper (violent and paranoid), Colonel Kilgore ("This is not a camping trip, Sheila! This is war, AND I LOVE IT!"), and of course, the Sociopathic Soldier ("I am going to enjoy killing each and every one of you sorry sacks of scum!")
  • Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark: Although he isn't a sergeant by rank, Onslaught leads the five Combaticons by assertively issuing his orders to his men. And they listen, not just because they don't have a better combat plan of their own, but because that his orders usually wins the battle.
  • Musaad, the bonus squad member from Valkyria Chronicles. His ego is considerable, but the guy is a legend for a reason.
  • WildStar has literal examples where the sizable numbers of battle-hardened sergeants on the Exiles are Granoks, who are basically rock-like warriors.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • Sarge is a walking parody of this trope. He seems more concerned with keeping up the appearance of this than actually accomplishing anything, and his competence is directly proportional to how closely his situation parallels how he thinks warfare should go (which is not often). Claims to have been personally trained by Sgt. Avery J. Johnson. (Listed above under Video Games.) Character development late in the eighth season brings him a fair bit closer to playing this trope straight, though.
    • Agent Washington is currently serving as this for the Blue Team. Trying his best to mold them into a fighting force with something resembling discipline.

    Web Comics 
  • Cry 'Havoc''s Karcharoth is The Stoic outside of battle, but changes distinctly into a Sergeant Rock when the lead starts flying.
  • The late General Esteban from A Loonatic's Tale was such an outstanding military officer in general that, even though he lacked the capacity to address his men in any tone but "enraged bellow", he was beloved and well-respected by the men and women under his command, and in death is well-regarded by both sides of a bitter war during which he served.
  • Sgt. Schlock in Schlock Mercenary can be this. Sure, he's an ultra-violent and borderline sociopathic Manchild, but he's also utterly cool under fire, a sound tactician, a skilled fighter, and an excellent battlefield leader. Even though Tagon usually assigns an officer to (barely) keep him under control, once the shooting starts they inevitably follow Schlock's lead. Almost the entire arc of "Massively Parallel" had characters asking, "What would Schlock do?"

    Western Animation 
  • Duke from G.I. Joe. From his profile card:
    When Duke is in command, he bellows his orders like that of a seasoned general. The troops follow him without question. He is capable of assessing situations and come up with quick solutions. Even high-ranking officers who know him well respect him and would even listen to his orders. And to think that he is only an enlisted man is to underestimate him.
  • Mr. Gar from OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes, an ex-junior member of the superhero team P.O.I.N.T. and the owner of the Gar's Bodega superhero supply shop. He's reasonably strict towards his employees, yet is earnestly appreciative when they do a good job and occasionally tries to prevent them from getting into messes they'd have trouble solving. This is entirely justified, as he used to be more rattled and believed himself to have caused the disappearance of Laserblast, due to his issues with telling Carol about his feelings for her.
  • Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles version of Zim fit this mold (The film and novel versions were rather different characters).
  • In The Simpsons episode "Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in "The Curse of the Flying Hellfish"", Grandpa Simpson is portrayed as a Sergeant Rock; the DVD commentary even notes that World War II-era Abe Simpson was directly based on the Trope Namer.
  • Captain Rex on the CG Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie and series, especially in the 1st season episode "Rookies".
  • Though he was underused as such, Ironhide from The Transformers (the original) was intended as this kind of character. It shows on occasion.

    Real Life 
  • Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller, the legendary United States Marine Corps officer whose service would take him from Haiti and Nicaragua, to the bloody Pacific in World War 2, to the frozen hell of the Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War. He would earn five Navy Crosses for his service and is, to this day, considered the greatest Marine to have ever lived. Known for the famous line: "We've been looking for the enemy for some time now. We've finally found him. We're surrounded. That simplifies things." Once he became an officer, he more than qualified as a Colonel Badass, and later, when he became a Marine Corps general, a Four-Star Badass. He is very much a Memetic Badass among the Corps and is the example all Marines aspire to.
  • Another example from the United States Marine Corps would be Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock, who served as a sniper in The Vietnam War (who in addition to being a Sergeant Rock was also a Friendly Sniper). During the war he had 93 confirmed kills (although the actual number is estimated to be much higher, with some estimates running in the 200-300 range) and even participated in a highly dangerous mission deep behind enemy lines that resulted in him successfully killing a North Vietnamese general. The North Vietnamese were so scared of him that they nicknamed him "the White Feather" (due to his practice of keeping a white feather in the brim of his boonie cap) and placed a large bounty on his head. His career in the Marine Corps ended when a vehicle he was riding in hit an anti-tank mine. Hathcock heroically pulled 7 marines out of the burning vehicle, while himself receiving horrific burns that would permanently disable him. Today he is regarded as a legend in the Marine Corps, and much of the USMC Sniper Training doctrine is based on examples set by him.
  • The members of Napoléon Bonaparte's "Old Guard" could all be considered a Sergeant Rock. These were men who had spent almost two decades of their lives following Napoleon across all of Europe and kicking the ass of anyone who got in their beloved General's way. Their sheer fighting abilities, loyalty, and veteran status were so respected by Napoleon that they were one of the few military units whose members could openly complain in his presence without rebuke. This led to them being known as Les Grognards (The Grumblers). They could also be considered an example of the Badass Army.
  • A Troperiffic, although Real Life example: Sergeant Max Wolff Filho was a WWII Brazilian Sergeant Rock, down to the gung-ho sound bites. His last known words (to a soldier who asked him for a knife) "Krauts aren't fowl". This was 17 days before V-E day, no less. Still, it was probably his own fault that he didn't quite manage to be the last casualty in the ETO; he should have known better than to speak about returning home to his little daughter. For his deeds, not only was the Brazilian Army's Sergeants' School (among others) named after him, but also a Distinguished Service medal for Sergeants and Ensigns.