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Soldier vs. Warrior

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Osprey's entire Combat series is based on this trope.

Canderous Ordo: Carth, you fought in the Mandalorian Wars, didn't you? We may have faced each other in combat. What battles were you in?
Carth Onasi: I try not to think about my past battles too much. The horrors of war are something I'd rather not relive.
Canderous Ordo: The horrors of war? My people know only the glory of battle. I'm disappointed in you, Carth. I thought a warrior like you could understand.
Carth Onasi: I'm not a warrior, I'm a soldier. There's a difference. Warriors attack and conquer, they prey on the weak. Soldiers defend and protect the innocent — mostly from warriors.

In a story that involves a Proud Warrior Race or some other version of a fighting culture, you'll eventually have the eternal debate: Is it better to be a soldier or a warrior?

  • A Soldier is a fighter using his skills and training to get a job done or a cause fulfilled, with combat simply being a grim task to get there. He typically relies on a more structured chain of command, following orders and limiting his own initiative to those that fulfill mission or campaign goals. He is often The Fettered and may even see himself as a civilian doing a temporary duty for a greater good.
  • A Warrior is a fighter using his martial spirit and personal philosophy to fight, typically for honor and glory. To him, warfare is a contest of the fittest meant to decide a victor through either prowess, cunning, or divine providence. Warriors are often competitive, to the degree that having enemies that challenge them is more important than fulfilling objectives. Individual initiative is given more weight, and they typically look down on those who don't see combat or strength as a core virtue. Warriors typically consider themselves warriors at all times, even when not equipped for combat.

In other words, when this conflict is depicted, a Soldier fights to live, and a Warrior lives to fight.

A work that pits these two against each other typically invokes Romanticism Versus Enlightenment, Emotions vs. Stoicism or Order Versus Chaos, and either side can be shown as right or wrong — this can often be an Athens and Sparta scenario. A work favoring the Soldiers will typically portray the Warriors as a Strawman Emotional, The Horde, or some other disorganized mass of wild and barbaric creatures. A work favoring the Warriors will typically portray the Soldiers as a mindless Red Shirt Army, with no spirit or individuality. Some works may not favor either, but will simply show them as two different (but necessary) Opposing Combat Philosophies.

Despite these seemingly antithetical traits, the line between the two archetypes is not always clear, and certain individuals or even whole armies can sometimes display qualities of both. One complication that can be seen in Real Life cultural comparisons, but not as frequently in fiction, is that a more organized/disciplined force often displays more connotations associated with the Warrior; i.e. a standing army is often a sign of a society being more warlike, as opposed to one relying on civilian levies when conflict arises.

See also World's Best Warrior, which shows how a single fighter can become the best in either culture. Compare Technician vs. Performer, Force and Finesse, Chevalier vs. Rogue, Arrogant God vs. Raging Monster, and Quantity Versus Quality and Quality over Quantity. Contrast Scientist vs. Soldier.

Ironically, in the Humans Are Warriors trope, humans tend to be the soldiers while the other species are warriors, and that is why humans are better at war.

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In ∀ Gundam, there's a lot of discussion in the last arc about the proper reasons for fighting. Loran is on the Soldier side; he fights only to protect people because living at peace is nice. Gym Ghingnham believes that Humans Are Warriors and thinks endless warfare is the only way for the species to advance.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, this briefly happens when Tekkadan fights against Carta Issue. Mikazuki is on the Soldier side and is a Combat Pragmatist in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, Carta is on the Warrior side and is stuck in the Pre-Calamity War Gjallarhorn knight mindset. When Carta requested for a Combat by Champion, Mikazuki outright ignored her request, killed her bodyguards when they are outside the mechs and delivered a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to Carta herself.
  • In Attack on Titan, this is used within the Narrative, and explicitly brought up by several characters. The enemy Titan Shifters refer to themselves as "Warriors", drawing a line between themselves and the soldiers they oppose. On the surface, the trope is played straight with human soldiers serving the cause of humanity's survival and the warriors being shown to be proud and even competitive. But then it becomes more complicated, with the lines becoming blurred as the warriors' identities are revealed. Reiner Braun best illustrates the blurring of things, struggling with his conflicting loyalties/identities. Both sides have much more in common than they would like to admit, and there is plenty of debate over what it means to be a soldier. It isn't really clear which, if either, is actually better.
    • There's also an in-universe reason — in their cover identities, the shifters are normal human soldiers fighting against the Titans. At home, they're members of the "Warrior Program", which is where Marley gets its Titan Shifters. Those who have received a Titan Power are Warriors, the rest are Warrior Candidates.
  • In Bleach, Lieutenant Kira and his 3rd squad of Soul Reapers as a whole consider themselves as Soldiers while the 11th squad consider themselves warriors. Kira displays the difference wonderfully during his fight against Abirama Redder. While Redder pumps himself up before their fight and shouts with pure joy of bloodlust during the fight, Kira fights with grim determination. Kira wins, with the memorable line "A bird without wings is dinner. Farewell, warrior of the sky". 3rd Squad's motto and flower mean "Despair during fighting", while 11th squad's is "Honor in fighting". 6th squad's is neither here nor there, with "personal pride during fighting".
  • Dragon Ball: The main ideological divide between the full-blooded Saiyan characters and the rest of the Z Fighters. Goku and Vegeta are Blood Knights who revel in gaining strength and rising to new challenges, albeit for different reasons. The rest of the heroes—half-Saiyans, humans, and even Piccolo, the warrior-class Namekian—may take pride in their skills, but largely fight to protect others and the Earth. Goku makes a habit of sparing his most dangerous opponents just so he's motivated to train for a future rematch; Vegeta admonishes his son Trunks for arguing that they should interrupt Goku's battle with Cell in order to heal him, as seeing the fight through is a matter of personal pride that supercedes the safety of the planet. Having grown up in an apocalyptic future, Trunks leans heavily on the "Soldier" end and quickly destroys most of his opponents when able.
  • The competing Hero Associations in One-Punch Man emphasize this division in their structure and approach.
    • The Hero Association is a chaotic, disorganized mess with multiple factions vying for power and internal politicking prevalent. Their heroes don't work together, don't care about public perception, have no interest in organizational issues (barring a few exceptions), and are content to do their own thing. Their best assets are battle-hardened warriors including the world's strongest esper, an ultra-fast, highly trained ninja assassin, possibly the most talented scientist in the world and King, among others. They are orders of magnitude stronger than almost any threat the world faces.
    • The Neo Heroes are a heavily regimented organization who care about their image, take pains to share technology among their entire hero-list, and rely on artificial intelligence and systematic processes to assign heroes to cases according to their abilities. Their best assets, the Neo Leaders are seen struggling against monsters that the Hero Association's best would dispatch without effort (barring a few exceptions). Their emphasis on structure and rules means they are unable to hire or retain the truly exceptional talents who require flexibility and freedom. However, the Neo Heroes are later shown to be indifferent to casualties and will use the bodies of the fallen to make blind, obedient slave cyborgs. Furthermore, they stage a lot of the monster attacks. While some Neo Leaders try to actually work as team and protect their weaker members, others will fly off on their own (Blue) or use their followers as fodder to test their opponents (Suiryu).
  • In The Seven Deadly Sins, the two leaders of the Liones Holy Knights are rather unique cases. Dreyfus is a Soldier as he genuinely wants to protect people from the prophesied Holy War. However, he is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who is willing to trample down anything or anyone for his ambitions. Hendricksen on the other hand is a Warrior as he is basically a Colonel Kilgore who believes that war is the only reason the Holy Knights exist in the first place. He believes this so much that he is willing to revive the Demon Clan so that the Holy Knights can have a Worthy Opponent. Though it turns out that both are being manipulated by a demon. One who is possessing Dreyfus.
  • Macross Delta has the Chaos mercenary group as the Soldiers and the Aerial Knights of Windemere as the Warriors. The Chaos pilots use strategy, military discipline, and pragmatism to counter the Knights' ideals of chivalry and honor in combat. Ernest Johnson, the commander of Chaos, served as an instructor for the Windemerean military, working alongside King Gramia. They both discussed this trope, with Gramia expressing the importance of principles and ideals in battle, while Johnson said that as a mercenary, he couldn't afford to believe in such things because his job was to win, no questions asked.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion uses this to contrast Asuka and Shinji. Asuka is a proud, boisterous pilot who revels in fighting the Angels and the attention that comes with it, while Shinji is a plodding draftee who simply goes after the Angels when ordered.

    Comic Books 
  • This notion was raised by Marvel writer Walt Simonson as the reason why Captain America can't pick up The Mighty Thor's hammer — in Simonson's stories, that is.
    Walt: [The enchantment on Mjölnir] means someone else can pick up this hammer and get this power, if they're worthy! [...] I liked the idea of Cap walking to the bathroom and seeing it, and grabbing and just tugging, not being able to. [...] Captain America, he's too patriotic. He's too much a symbol of America to be chosen by this Norse artifact. So he couldn't get it. So I created Beta Ray Bill because he's noble, and he's designed to kill. He's got a great purpose as a warrior, and also the noble ability. That makes him "worthy" whatever that may be.
    • Demonstrated in an annual story written by Kurt Busiek, in which the Avengers and the Squadron Supreme are forced into a "Hunting the Most Dangerous Game" scenario by a supervillain called The Champion. The Champion, a Blood Knight that kills and terrorizes to prove himself the best at everything and curb-stomps both teams in individual combat, is the Warrior. Cap, who secretly contacted Ant-Man as soon as he could so he could defuse the weapon of mass destruction that the Champion was using to force both teams to play his game (thus making the whole fight a distraction) and eventually reveals that they did everything they did to save lives as he leads them into ganging up on the Champion and curb-stomp him as he's whining that it's not fair, proves himself as the Soldier yet again.
  • Played for Laughs on the Asterix comics: the Roman Legion's organization in battle (such as the phalanx) only turns them into human bowling pins for the Gaul warriors to smash through. On the other hand, it is through being this organized war machine that the Romans have conquered most of Europe and the only reason Asterix's village has been the one on the delivering end of the Curb-Stomp Battle for so long is because of the potion.
  • Hans von Hammer, the Villain Protagonist of Enemy Ace, is a Warrior through and through, with a sense of respect for any enemy pilot that he considers being a Worthy Opponent. He also places a great deal of emphasis on the chivalry and honor of aerial combat, to the point of dismissing more technologically advanced airplanes as "dishonorable".
  • Garth Ennis heavily favors the "soldier" side, and the types of characters he prefers to write reflect that. Many of his favorite characters serve in the military or are otherwise members of professional fighting forces. His dislike of superheroes partly stems from this as well, and he often portrays them — and other "warrior" characters — as incompetent glory-seekers. He has a particular distaste for Captain America, who he sees as promoting a sanitized version of history that ignores the work of real soldiers.note .
    "To me the reality of World War II was very human people, ordinary flesh-and-blood guys who slogged it out in miserable, flooded foxholes. So adding some fantasy superhero narrative, that has always annoyed me a little bit."

    Fan Works 
  • Along Came a Spider: The Clans' Warrior Caste are trained to fight in glorious single combats where a battle is a series of duels, with intense competition between individuals and entire Clans. The Armed Forces of the Federated Commonwealth are an intricately structured organisation where everyone is more or less on the same team and expected to work together like a finely honed machine.
  • Beat the Drums of War: The Klingons' tendency to charge in for glory and honor leads to bloody, disorganized head-on attacks that do absolutely no good at Qo'noS; they end up having to be bailed out by a fleet of mercenaries and their vassal races. In contrast, the Andorians, a Proud Soldier Race, use Hit-and-Run Tactics, Space Mines, and ballistic missiles to overwhelm the Heralds in stages, the Bajoran Militia (inspired by a mix of the USMC and the IDF) fight using heavy armor, airstrikes, and artillery from long range, while Starfleet uses technobabble and foils the attack on Earth altogether by forcing the Heralds to gate into a black hole. (Co-author StarSword is vocally not a fan of post-TNG Klingons.)
  • The fight between Leo and Ted in The Rise of Darth Vulcan plays out as this; with Leo being a Stout Strength Larper that was summoned in order to defeat Darth Vulcan, thinking that he would reciprocate a Duel to the Death like other supervillains would do. Ted, however, is a Combat Pragmatist who doesn't hold any values for Mook Chivalry and will take any advantage presented to him.
  • Asuka in Neon Metathesis Evangelion sees herself as a warrior, and thus is not particularly happy to have to wear a school uniform, which she equates to soldiers.
  • Davion & Davion (Deceased) sees this division as a serious problem with the Mechwarriors who are often of privileged backgrounds lording it over the soldiers of other branches. Faced with an actual war, John Davion starts stamping the former view out with proteges like Susan Sandoval as examples of disciplined and professional Mechwarrior soldiers.
  • The Night Unfurls favours the Soldier over the Warrior. The main character, Kyril Sutherland, appears to be everything a Warrior dreams of, being this single mighty individual who stomps everyone, advances relentlessly, and wields any kind of weapon (melee or ranged) with mastery. However, his philosophy is full-on Soldier — he believes that there is neither glory nor honour in combat, only a task to be fulfilled, as well as a chore to be endured. The only reward is to live another day. Apart from that, in the original version, Kyril emphasises training, discipline, and doing their job over "foolish" things like glory or bravado when leading his subordinates to battle. Meanwhile, characters with a Warrior mindset are either antagonists or otherwise punished by the narrative. Vault (later revealed to be a bad guy) is characterised as someone who likes to compete and conquer. Antagonists tend to be disorganised, lustful, and/or mindless pillagers. People who espouse honour and chivalry underperform.
  • The War of the Masters has this embodied in variations of Klingon warrior culture, with the stereotypical Klingon usually in the wrong. Characters like B'Sanos and K'Ragh are more in the vein of Soldiers, thinking in terms of achieving objectives even if that means avoiding actual battle, while Warriors such as K'Hugh are in it to emulate heroes of the past and create their own legend. The latter works well when their orders are being carried out by the Soldier-types, but not so much when they end up fighting even-more-soldierly Starfleet officers such as Admirals Stephen Alcott and Jesu La Roca. Then there's interesting hybrids such as Starfleet's Kanril Eleya (raised in Bajoran Resistance traditions) and the Moab Confederacy Defense Force, who marry Warrior ingenuity, zeal, and affinity for fighting in smaller guerrilla-style units, to Soldier discipline and objective-oriented thinking.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars
    • Clone troopers in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, the droid army in all three prequels, and the Imperial military in the original trilogy are all Soldiers, using training and unit discipline (or programming in the droids' case) and usually superior numbers to overcome their opponents.
    • The Rebel Alliance, as a ragtag coalition of insurgents, is about in the middle of the scale. While more individualized and prone to outside-the-box tactics, especially where Space Fighters are concerned they often have better equipment than their Imperial opponents. This is justified: unlike the Empire, the Rebels can't afford to think that any of their soldiers are expendable, and an X-Wing pilot can survive and learn from mistakes that a TIE pilot wouldn't because his plane has a Deflector Shield).
    • Force-users, both Jedi and Sith, are firmly Warriors. Their choice of weapon, the lightsaber, is strictly a close-range weapon, with which each has a preferred fighting style. The Jedi furthermore style themselves as diplomats first and warriors second, while the Sith are in it for personal power. In the Expanded Universe and Star Wars Legends this often led to problems when regular armies such as the clone troopers were placed under the command of Jedi "generals", who were wholly untrained for commanding units of that size (which was, of course, all part of Sidious' Batman Gambit).
  • The Last Samurai is practically a study and invoking of this trope. Samurai = Warrior, Imperial Soldier = Soldier. Soldiers at first lose due to lack of training but eventually win due to better technology once they are trained properly. However, the film's sympathies definitely lie with the Warriors, as they become Doomed Moral Victors.
  • Discussed in Patton by Generals Bradley (soldier) and Patton (warrior).
    Bradley: I do it because that's what I'm trained to do. You do it because [Beat] you love it, George.
  • In Zulu, the Zulus are warriors and the British soldiers. The British manage to survive The Siege by maintaining iron-clad discipline under fire and following orders such as mass-firing even while casualties pick up. The Zulus have a pretty good use of tactics overall with their deadly effective Bull tactical doctrine, but the moment they get in fighting distance is every man for himself.
    • However, the famous "Men of Harlech" scene might indicate the Zulus and the British might both be warriors.
  • In Midway, both are professional navies and therefore soldier-like, but the Japanese have a bit of a warrior-like feel as well, considering such "victory at any cost" tactics like the kamikaze pilots.
  • In Lawrence of Arabia, the Arabs are definitely warriors and the British and Turks are definitely soldiers. Much of the ensuing drama with Lawrence comes from being a Fish out of Water and trying to band the Arabs together as a cohesive army (including having to execute soldiers for the sake of preventing honor-smirching slights from causing un-needed internal combat)... and then starting to enjoy his role as leader a bit too much.
  • Hercules (2014): Hercules and his band compared to the Thracian Army. Hercules' group fight mostly for personal gain, makes a living out of it, are individually more powerful than small groups of soldiers, can work together to defeat larger numbers, and are better for situations that require small, versatile groups. Yet, they cannot defeat the superior numbers and tactics (specifically the shield wall) of the highly disciplined Thracian army who follow the orders of their king regardless of how corrupt he is. It's notable that Hercules and his men are quite capable of fighting as soldiers and cooperating with military units, and in fact trained the Thracian Army in shield-wall tactics. It's just that they are such elite badasses (particularly Hercules, of course) that they're more useful fighting as a band of warriors than they would be as soldiers in the shield wall.
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan has the Social Darwinist augments led by Khan Noonien Singh on the hijacked Reliant versus the Starfleet-trained (and in-training) crew of the Enterprise under Admiral Kirk. Khan may have gotten a debilitating first strike when Kirk's adherence to protocol lapses, but once he's back on his game, Kirk has the upper hand for pretty much the rest of the movie, despite the lingering damage leaving the Enterprise at a bit of a disadvantage. It really kicks in when you see the Misfit Mobilization Moment / Lock-and-Load Montage after the Enterprise leaves Regula and makes a run for the Mutara Nebula. That boatload of trainees are becoming fightin' spacemen.
  • Called out almost by name in Warcraft at the meeting between human King Llane of Stormwind and Chief Durotan of the orc Frostwolf Clan. Llane says that the orcs fighting the humans solves nothing. Durotan seems almost amused at this and retorts, "For orcs, war solves everything."
  • The Lord of the Rings, in keeping with J. R. R. Tolkien's Romanticist view of industrialization, paints the "good" races (Men of the West, elves, dwarves, and hobbits) as warriors and the orcs as soldiers. The orcs, though chaotic at times, are quite militarized, particularly Saruman's higher-quality Uruk-hai who have standardized weapons, fight in formation, and use explosives provided by Saruman to breach fortifications. Men, meanwhile, are essentially medieval knights and tend to fight as individuals in glorious battle, while elves are elite, artful fighters trained for hundreds or thousands of years who are few in number, and dwarves are, well, dwarves.
  • In The Avengers, Captain America (the soldier) and Thor (the warrior) literally duke this out in their first encounter — Cap's determined to keep the group focused on the mission, while Thor charges in to handle things himself. Ultimately, however, this actually becomes a Commonality Connection as they egg each other on during the final battle — when, notably, Thor defers to Cap in setting the team's tactics, despite having centuries more combat experience; Cap, being a soldier, thinks in group terms, while Thor focuses on personal glory.

    The subsequent films showcase that Rogers can be a Warrior as well, at least deep down inside, and this is actually his Fatal Flaw — he fears having to stop fighting for good a bit too much, and when confronted with people planning to phase him out (Ultron) or take the control of where and when to fight away from him (the Sokovia Accords), he'll quickly get on his high horse and rebel. Of course, with the Sokovia Accords he's right about the possibility of allowing vile people to take control of the Avengers (or at the very least a Head-in-the-Sand Management that refuses to deploy the Avengers because of politics even if that means allowing the possible annihilation of countless civilians), which is proven correct in Avengers: Infinity War, and with Tony's Ultron plan, well, Ultron — it's just that it's not his only reason, and Stark is right to point that out.
  • In Gladiator, Maximus goes from soldier to warrior. He begins the film as a Roman general, defeating the Germanic barbarians. But due to Commodus' commands, he is forced out of the Roman army and eventually gets sold into slavery as a gladiator. At first, Maximus' efficient fighting style is unsatisfying to audiences until his master, Proximo, a former gladiator himself, tells him to fight with more style ("Win the crowd, and you'll win your freedom."). However, he still uses his military knowledge and leadership skills, turning a historical reenactment that should've ended as a defeat for his side into a win.
  • Taps, if not presenting an outright deconstruction of the warrior ethos, at least heavily favors the soldier side of the equation. The soldiers are precisely that: trained National Guard troops led by a commander who would like nothing more than to end the conflict without any casualties — guardsman or cadet. The cadets, however, are naive kids — high school-aged at most — brought up on a dangerously romanticized view of war and combat. Most soon crack when exposed to its true horror, and the few that don't drift heavily into Blood Knight territory by the end.
  • Played with in The Man with the Golden Gun. The Big Bad Francisco Scaramanga is a dedicated and straightforward assassin who scorns Hai Fat for trying to kill James Bond by setting him against a dojo of martial artists. On the other hand, Scaramanga is gradually established to be something of a warrior at heart, growing bored with his increasingly mundane life and being happy at finally having a Worthy Opponent in Bond.
  • March Or Die: The French Foreign Legion is composed of soldiers stationed in French Morocco. Their current assignment is to safeguard an archeologist while he unearths an ancient burial site. The protection is necessary, as many nomadic tribes view the digging as a violation of their sovereign territory. When the archeologist unearths the "Flower of the Desert," this unites the disparate tribes under the leadership of El Krim, who leads a Zerg Rush of warriors against the French.

  • Sun Tzu's The Art of War is sometimes paired with Miyamoto Musashi's The Book of Five Rings. While both have a bit of the soldier philosophy in that they espouse a pragmatic approach to achieving victory, Sun Tzu wrote exclusively on how to manage an army while Musashi focuses on single combat and applies the strategies to mass combat almost as an afterthought, making him more of a warrior. This is, however, merely a consequence of their personal experiences representing the Strategy Versus Tactics divide: before he wrote his treatise, Sun was a general who fought and won several wars, while Miyamoto was originally a common foot soldier eventually rising to a junior officer rank. Conceptually both are firmly on the "Soldier" side.
  • The Brightest Shadow: The terms are used similarly to the trope, but with the added twist that soldiers are usually untrained in sein, making warriors unquestionably superior. In war, they're fundamentally different lines of training.
  • In Larry Niven's Known Space verse the Kzin are obsessed with personal glory allowing humanity to lure them into several traps. And they seem to have no concept of "total war" while the humans carved a ten-mile long and mile-deep trench on a Kzin-held planet.
  • Atlas Shrugged gives a surprising example: Ragnar Danneskjold is a renegade pirate modeled on a romantic image of vikings. He should be a warrior. But as the book progresses, it becomes clear that what makes him so devastatingly effective is that he is an almost pure soldier:
"One of these centuries the brutes, private or public, who believe that they can rule their betters by force, will learn the lesson of what happens when brute force encounters mind and force."
  • Chrysalis (RinoZ): The termites are individually comparable in strength to the ants, and even more numerous, but the ants are far more disciplined and coordinated. Where the termites are a horde fighting on instinct, the ants fight in tight ranks, backed by mages, making careful use of area buff auras, firing well-drilled volleys of acid and magic, and rotated out to healers as needed. Even as the ants advance unstoppably forward, they're double-checking contingency plans and anticipating threats. The result is a very one-sided slaughter.
  • In Gor, the main character of most of the stories, Tarl Cabot, is a trained Warrior. He is a member of the Warrior caste, who have their own Codes and consider their calling honorable. Even between warring cities, there is an inherent respect between them. On the other hand, any shlub could pick up a sword and become a brigand, mercenary, or soldier. They don't follow or respect the Codes.
  • Discworld:
    • A variation: Vimes is adamant that the Ankh-Morpork City Watch are not military, despite wearing swords and armor. This having as much to do with the fact that Armies Are Useless in most situations (thanks to Vetinari's diplomacy preventing most conflicts), that Vimes has a very strict code of conduct (having aided in kicking out the former, extremely corrupt Watch) that soldiers won't understand or that military leadership is composed to a man of spectacularly inept bunglers (one of them insists troops move in arrow formations like they appear on maps, others count victories by subtracting their losses from the enemy's, another is "the gods' gift to the enemy"...).
    • Interesting Times plays this mostly from the warrior's side, Cohen and his band (six old 'heroes' and a teacher, with only the latter being under 80 years) go up against five armies and are making a pretty good go of it for a while. Justified in-universe because they're Conan-style heroes, and Discworld runs on this sort of narrative. It also helps that the vast majority of the soldiers are barely trained and poorly equipped conscripts with terrible morale, with the exception of a few samurai, which Cohen kills by fighting dirty.
  • The distinction between Soldier and Warrior is explained in Cursor's Fury, the third book of the Codex Alera. The distinction pointed out by Antillar Maximus is that a warrior generally fights alone on his own skill in duels and the like, while a soldier is part of a unit that watches over the man next to him and trusts the man next to him to do the same.
  • Ernst Jünger's Eumeswil: That sounds complicated, but it is simple, for everyone is anarchic; this is precisely what is normal about us. Of course, the anarch is hemmed in from the first day by father and mother, by state and society. Those are prunings, tappings of the primordial strength, and nobody escapes them. One has to resign oneself. But the anarchic remains, at the very bottom, as a mystery, usually unknown even to its bearer. It can erupt from him as lava, can destroy him, liberate him. Distinctions must be made here: love is anarchic, marriage is not. The warrior is anarchic, the soldier is not. Manslaughter is anarchic, murder is not. Christ is anarchic, Saint Paul is not. Since, of course, the anarchic is normal, it is also present in Saint Paul, and sometimes it erupts mightily from him. Those are not antitheses but degrees. The history of the world is moved by anarchy. In sum: the free human being is anarchic, the anarchist is not.
  • In Belisarius Series, the Rajputs are warriors, with an exaggerated sense of honor, who boast of their Heroic Lineage and take delight in Combat by Champion. The Romans are soldiers with a professional organization and a capacity for engineering and the use of technology. Both consider the other a Worthy Opponent, and some of the hardest battles in the war between India and Rome occur against each other.
  • During a battle in The First Heretic where the Word Bearers fight alongside Custodes, they comment that although the Custodes are peerless warriors and superior to Astartes on an individual level, they do not fight as a unit or look out for each other the way soldiers do. Consequently, the Word Bearers stop respecting them.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Adumar in X-Wing: Starfighters of Adumar is a culture that glorifies fighter pilots, and the pilots themselves are Proud Warrior Race Guys who fight for their own personal glory, with battles between nations frequently devolving into a melee of personal duels. When Wedge Antilles et al. ally with a coalition of Adumari nations opposed to the more powerful government of Cartann, he tells them flat-out that if he catches any of their pilots flying for glory instead of victory, he'll shoot the offending pilot down himself.
    • The Yuuzhan Vong invasion of the Republic in the New Jedi Order series. The Vong had a strong warrior mindset that emphasized personal honor, refusal to retreat, and victory at all costs compared to the more soldier mindset of the Republic and Imperial Remnant (later the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances). Their unusual biotech and brutal methods served them well until their supreme leader criticized the war leader for gaining victories only over numerous dead warriors, costing a third of the warrior caste and making them unable to maintain an offensive or defend what they had conquered, compared to the The Alliance which could replace their losses much easier. The next war leader went so far as to order warriors to flee from hopeless battles. This warrior mindset eventually was one of the main factors costing them the war.
    • In The Thrawn Trilogy the trope is almost reversed at the end of the first book, in which Thrawn is described as 'not merely a soldier, but a true warrior', by which Pellaeon means he can see beyond the immediate objective to the bigger picture.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Individually, Unsullied are not particularly notable fighters and are physically weaker than most due to their castration. When fighting in formation, however, their phalanx tactics, lack of fear, immunity to pain, and robotic loyalty make them the most feared soldiers in the world. Daenerys learns this the hard way when she assigns her Unsullied to town guard duty. Their heavy shields and long spears are far less valuable on their own and are poorly suited to street fighting, and dissidents are able to easily ambush and kill them. They're wasted off on the battlefield.
    • The Night's Watch and their perennial enemies, the wildlings. The wildling are described as fighting like heroes or demons, depending on who you ask — "a shout, a slash, and a fine brave death" — but have no discipline and no organization besides individual chieftains and big names. The Night's Watch, despite being an Army of Thieves and Whores, normally has no trouble standing them off because they do still actually have training, tactics, and equipment. And the 700-foot Wall they stand on.
    • The Soldier vs. Warrior dynamic is shown most strongly in the Battle of Qohor. 3000 Unsullied stood their ground against a force of 25,000 Dothraki screamers. The Dothraki could have flanked the Unsullied, but instead charged right into them out of contempt for infantry. The Unsullied forces held out for days, repelling eighteen Dothraki charges and three attacks by Dothraki archers. By the end of it, the Dothraki had lost 17,000 of their number including their khal and his sons and his bloodriders, while the Unsullied lost 2400 of their number. The new khal and the remaining Dothraki left Qohor in peace but not before cutting off their braids and throwing them to the Unsullied as a mark of respect (and having been defeated in battle).
  • Raj Whitehall of The General Series makes a point of this distinction in conversation with a young 'barb' hostage and then proves his point when his 'soldiers' slaughter the barbarian 'warriors'.
  • In Ranks of Bronze, one of the Romans (forcibly recruited to serve as muscle for an interstellar alien MegaCorp due to interstellar law prohibiting using advanced technology against primitive worlds) highlights their status as disciplined soldiers and not barbarian warriors as the main reason why they keep winning. Their alien masters, of course, doesn't care so long as the victories keep coming in and the Romans stay loyal.
  • In The People of the Wind, the Terrans are shown as being a more pragmatic and bureaucratic force fighting for the strategic interests of the Terran Empire, whereas the Ythrians and their human allies are willful, individualistic folk fighting for "deathpride". Sympathy is on the Ythrian side on the whole but the Terrans are Worthy Opponents.
  • In The Heroes of Olympus, the Roman demigods tend to fulfill the "Soldier" archetype while the Greeks fulfill the "Warrior" role. As is often the case, the Romans are portrayed as being a much more effective and coordinated military force, while the Greeks are generally more effective in smaller numbers and tend to have more individuals with impressive accomplishments.
    • Of course Percy and Jason both kind of blow the above out of the water, basically being the Greeks and Romans' respective One-Man Army. Percy is able to cut through companies of Romans without trouble, and Jason has no problem facing down Greeks on his own.
  • Discussed in the Prince Roger series. When Captain Pahner proposes to train an army in a few weeks one of the (alien) allies protests that it takes months to train a warrior. Pahner counters that they aren't going to train warriors, they are going to train soldiers and they can do that in a few weeks. Largely justified in that they are pretty much just training the new soldiers to hold a pike and shield wall so the training is mostly about getting them to march together and follow orders.
  • From David Drake's Hammer's Slammers:
    • At Any Cost, the non-human natives have warriors who fight for glory, hunt human livestock as rites of passage, and are barely organized so despite their ability to teleport they don't make any ground in the war with the human colonists. While the humans have soldiers, who are organized but poor fighters and hampered by incompetent leadership. Then the humans hire Hammer's Slammers, a mercenary company of elite fighters with excellent organization and experienced leadership and the war is over in a couple weeks.
    • The Warrior follows the rivalry between two Slammers with opposing philosophies. Des Grieux, a Blood Knight who named his tank "The Warrior" and has a habit of taking it on rampages when he gets bored that lead to a high kill count for himself but ends up costing the company a more important strategic objective. And Broglie, a good soldier who often has to clean up Des Grieux's messes. It's made very clear that if Dex Grieux weren't such a good fighter, Colonel Hammer would have had him shot long ago.
  • Warrior Cats, naturally, discusses the trope. When cats first came to the forest, they were savage and lonely, fighting only for their own survival or that of their families. "It was a lawless, bloody time for the forest, and many cats died." After an especially senseless battle, the cats agreed to follow laws: they would not send kittens into battle, they would not kill defeated enemies, and no cat would hunt in another's territory. Cats still fought frequently (because it's in their nature to do so) but their adherence to the 'warrior code' resulted in a lot less death and paranoia.
    • During The Prophecies Begin, Firepaw learns that one of the reasons forest cats dislike pets and urban strays is because they don't follow the code. The series climaxes with the titular Warriors fighting off a horde of untrained strays/Soldiers through superior tactics and experience.
  • Shadows of the Apt: Explicitly explored with the conflict between the Mantis-kinden — a race of exceptionally skilled, honor-driven warriors — and the Wasp-kinden — a well-organized, militant empire of soldiers. One-on-one, a Mantis can almost always beat a Wasp thanks to their exceptional skill and personal drive, but in a mass battle, the more numerous, more disciplined, and better-organized Wasps have the advantage. The Mantis-kinden once routed an entire Wasp army by launching a massive nighttime ambush in which the Wasps were too confused and disorganized to fight back effectively. The next Wasp army the Mantises tried it on had learned from the mistakes of the first and slaughtered the Mantises with better tactics and new technology. In the context of the series, the Mantises are presented as the tragically doomed remnant of a bygone age, while the Wasps are a forward-thinking but tyrannical military juggernaut; both are heavily flawed, though the Wasps are much more consistently antagonistic (though not without exceptions).
  • In Ender's Game, the culture of the Battle School prizes obedience to commanding officers over individual initiative so that armies can react quickly to orders and coordinate large, army-wide formations. Ender disrupts this system by teaching his underlings to act less like soldiers and more like warriors, breaking them up into smaller units trained to act on their own initiative to accomplish limited objectives and granting the army as a whole more flexibility. In the end, after Ender destroys the Bugger homeworld, his commanding officers try to excuse him of any moral culpability by saying that he was Just Following Orders like a good soldier. Ender, who thinks like a warrior, disagrees.
  • The Stormlight Archive: The Parshendi and Alethi play with this trope in that both sides take elements of either category. The Parshendi fight like warriors, operating in loose formations with pairs supporting one another during battles, but are philosophically more like soldiers, being united overall with common goals for the war and fighting out of necessity. The Alethi fight like soldiers, mostly working in ranks of regimented spearmen and similar close, organized formations, but are politically and philosophically warriors, being divided and competing for personal glory, seeing battle as the ultimate contest to be won. If they weren't fighting the Parshendi, they would simply be fighting someone else, even each other.
  • Discussed in the Warhammer 40,000 novel Ciaphas Cain: The Last Ditch. in response to a complaint from a New Meat commissar of a locally raised Guard regiment that the Valhallan 597th isn't doing its duty for the Emperor against a tyranid outbreak, Colonel Regina Kasteen, who notably owes her command to the tyranids and likes repaying them for it, castigates her for her Attack! Attack! Attack! tactics and points out that the 597th is doing twice the damage of the Nusquan 1st while taking a third of the casualties. In general the Cain novels paint the 597th as highly organized, professional soldiers proficient in mechanized infantry warfare, in contrast to the enemy of the week (typically orks or tyranids), and non-Valhallan regiments in the series frequently believe more in showing zeal for the God-Emperor than in tactics that do the most damage with the fewest deaths.
  • In Into the Hinterlands by David Drake and John Lambshead, the Riders are Space Nomad warriors fighting for loot and plunder and at first appear to fight as individuals, while regular soldiers of both Brasilia and Terra rely on formations, fortification, and practiced drilling. Rider raids are able to shatter an overly complacent Brasilian troop column in the middle of Into the Hinterlands. The Cutter Stream Militia start out as citizen levies with little organization, but the Power Trio forges them into a more effective military force that takes the best bits of both philosophies, codifying ad hoc Rider raiding patterns into a formal flight squadron system, adding a logistical and intelligence machine, and improvising new weapons and attack patterns to deal with harder targets like cargo trains.
  • Victoria portrays the war between the Northern Confederation and Azania as a struggle between these philosophies. Azania, a country of high-tech Amazons, use technology, communications, firepower, and careful staff planning to compensate for the lesser individual strength of their female soldiers, whereas the Confederation armies depend on loosely organized forces of brave and spirited militiamen to counter these advantages through audacity and numbers.
  • A major theme in the appropriately titled Barrett Tillman novel, Warriors, with the fighter pilots on all sides falling decidedly into the warrior camp. At one point, the novel further distinguishes between warriors and "pure" warriors — effectively, those who love to fight and those whose only love is fighting.
  • The Indian epic Mahabharata plays the Warrior trope straight for about 90% of the story, as it is about Kshatriya warrior princes jockeying for power over the kingdom of Hastinapur. They have intricate rules governing when they fight, how they fight, who they fight, where they fight, what actions are considered dishonorable during a fight. Combat between two princes is dealt with more like a duel or a sporting contest, rather than a battle. However, in the final Kurukshetra war, both the "good" Pandava faction and the "evil" Kaurava faction slowly discard these rules, and adapt more soldierly tactics such as perfidy, deception, disinformation, spying, tactical formations, usage of numerical superiority, execution of unarmed combatants, commando raids, targeting civilians, usage of divine weapons including divine WMDs and generally trying all means necessary to slaughter the other side. The victorious Pandavas are well aware of this, by the time they win their Pyrrhic Victory, and know they have a lot of atonement to do.
  • Discussed in The Saxon Stories. Uhtred, a Saxon warlord who was raised by Vikings, notes that the Vikings are individually better warriors than the Saxon soldiers, but the Saxons win through discipline and persistence, and also because the Vikings' warrior ethos means that they follow the strongest warlord, and leave him when he starts losing battles, whereas if the Saxons are beaten they retreat, regroup, and come back for more.
    • Notably, Uhtred himself over the course of the series moves from Warrior to Soldier. He starts out an arrogant glory-hound who loves battle and thinks only of the chance to show off his own prowess; as he ages and grows into authority, he shifts his focus to training and disciplining his men to stand together in the shieldwall, and comes to understand the importance of the ordinary peasants who they protect.
  • The Asterisk War leans on highly individualized warriors fighting in tournament-style duels and matches as popular entertainment. However, the Gryps Festa tourney uniquely revolves around five-on-five matches where only defeating the team leader is necessary to win the match, forcing much more teamwork. This dichotomy is ultimately what does in Team Lancelot in the Gryps Final at the end of Volume 10. Lancelot leader Ernest Fairclough, dueling main protagonist Ayato, inadvertently damages Ayato's Ser Veresta and disables it. Ayato discards the OOrga Lux for his backup weapon, and Ernest tosses aside his own Orga Luxnote  and pulls his own out of a desire to duel Ayato personally. Instead, Ayato's teammates quickly break free of their own opponents and gang up on Ernest, with Claudia breaking his badge to win the match. In his warrior desire for a climactic duel with Ayato, Ernest forgot he was supposed to be fighting as part of a team.
  • In The Arts of Dark and Light, the starkest contrast is between the elves of Elebrion and their orc enemies. The orcs have a brutal, hyper-militarized warrior culture that draws on the worst stereotypes of both Mongol hordes and Generation Kill, while the elves field a magic-heavy Elite Army of very skilled but far less bloodthirsty, mostly part-time citizen soldiers.
    • At the start of the book, the dour, professional general of what is essentially a Roman legion executes his dashing Knight In Shining Armour nephew for doing the "Warrior" thing and breaking ranks to engage an enemy cavalry commander in single combat during a battle, rather than the "Soldier" thing and holding position as ordered.
  • Also Discussed in Black Legion by two of the Ezekarion, Khayon and Lheor. Even the Space Marines don't quite agree on what makes a soldier or a warrior. Lheor favors the idea that the Space Marines were crusaders first, and now the Black Legion is composed of warriors, but they were never soldiers. An interesting Zigzag is the Black Legion itself. They focus on loyalty to the Warmaster and victory over every foe they face rather than something more esoteric, but they are still ultimately as self-centered and prone to indiscipline any other Traitor Astartes.
  • The Doctor Who New Adventures novel Death and Diplomacy has three alien races locked in war; the warriors are the savage Dakhaari, who are basically a Barbarian Tribe in space; the soldiers are the no-nonsense Czahn, who all talk like British sergeant-majors, and the third faction are the Saloi, who are a Sneaky Spy Species. This being Doctor Who, the ultimate answer to the question of which is better is that it's better to not be fighting.
  • The Legend of Sun Knight mostly consists of famously powerful warriors, but Sun sometimes notes that the strongest warriors don't make the best generals. When Royal Knight and secret Hell Knight Elijah competes in a three-way duel against the two strongest swordsmen in their respective countries, he's easily trounced, but Sun notes that if all three of them fielded armies against each other, Elijah would win.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Deadliest Warrior: Some matchups feature a fierce and wild warrior against a more professional soldier.
    • Season 1
      • "Pirate vs. Knight: A wild man who fights for himself against a noble man who fights for God and kingdom (the Pirate won).
    • Season 2
      • "Nazi SS vs. Vietcong": Pitting the stone-hearted killers of Adolf Hitler's regime against ragtag communist revolutionaries (the Nazis won).
      • "Roman Centurion vs. Rajput": The highly regimented commander faces off against the latest in an ancestral line of passionate protectors (the Rajuput won).
      • "Comanche vs. Mongol": The fearless native American horsemen against one of Genghis Khan's chosen (the Comanche won).
  • Babylon 5 example:
    • EarthForce (Soldiers) vs. Minbari Warrior Caste (Warriors, of course). In the Earth-Minbari War, the Minbari won most battles thanks to their superior technology providing greater firepower and making their ships almost impossible to hit, but EarthForce kept them at bay for two years, and even destroyed their flagship (in the early days of the war to boot), through superior skills and dishonourable tricks such as sending a distress call and then blow up the nuclear mines when the Minbari flagship came to finish off the Earth shipnote , hitting the supply lines and deactivating the hyperspace beacon network in their territory and only activating what portions they needed to move supplies when they needed it. Word of God is that without the Minbari stealth, superior Human skills would have ultimately won.
      • The first official battle of the war was a Curb-Stomp Battle, naturally, but the Minbari do end up losing one of their warcruisers because they do the "honorable" thing and let the humans come close enough to take the first shot. This allows a prototype Omega to ram the Sharlin before the Minbari are able to wipe out everyone in the Vega system.
    • The Expanded Universe introduces the Centauri-Orieni War, with (most of) the factions shifting side depending on the situation:
      • Early in the war, the Centauri were the Warriors to the Orieni's Soldiers, as the Centauri went into the war to conquer glory by destroying their old enemy while the Orieni carefully planned it, training their forces into an Elite Army with its own elite forces, trying to weaken the Centauri by supporting Drazi raiders (in fact the war started when the Centauri captured a raider ship and found an Orieni military technician and Orieni weapons), and making plans to get around the Centauri's enormous economic superiority-the Orieni's goal wasn't even to conquer the Centauri, just to take a chunk of their territory and relative resources (especially quantium-40 mines, as their own space was scarce in that resource and it showed in the Centauri's superiority in numbers and quality of their jump drives) to bridge the gap, completely integrate it, and then repeat it until the Centauri were finally weak enough to be fully conquered.
      • As casualties mounted, the Centauri shifted into Soldiers, pragmatically taking advantage of their superior numbers and production and logistically less intensive directed-energy weapons, while the Orieni became Warriors relative to that, refusing to water down the training of their forces (that slowly became too small to counter the Centauri's numbers) or to move away from logistically intensive kinetic energy weapons and wasting a large number of their forces in a strike against the Drakh as soon as they realized they were servant of the Shadows, the enemies of the Vorlon they worshiped as gods (the strike devastated the Drakh's presumed homeworld but suffered heavy losses and required to pull numerous ships from the frontline-something the Centauri took shamelessly advantage of).
      • The well-trained and disciplined Centauri Royal Navy are the Soldiers to the House Militias' Warriors, though as the war erodes the Houses' power in favor of the central government's, the Royal Navy forces the Militias to become a Soldiers' force.
      • The undisciplined Drazi raiders and mercenaries are Warriors to the Centauri's soldiers, as even the House Militias at the start of the war were much more disciplined. Predictably, the Drazi are quickly kicked out of the war by the forces of House Torra and a few subordinated Houses (as the Royal Navy pulled their forces to concentrate them against the Orieni), and their later involvement is only as mercenaries for the Centauri that find them useful meat shields.
      • House Torra and their subordinates are the Warriors to the Abbai's Soldiers, with Torra ignoring the demands of the war in favor of a strike against a perceived weak power to try and capture glory, territory, and their superior technology (specifically Artificial Gravity, that the Centauri hadn't developed yet, and Deflector Shields, that the Centauri wouldn't develop period) while the Abbai fought pragmatically in defense of their homeworld, even limiting the use of Space Fighters because they perceived them as a waste of lives and couldn't make ones capable of competing with the Centauri's anyway. In spite of numerical inferiority, the Abbai held long enough for the Centauri Republic to win the war and use the vastly superior numbers and skills of the Royal Navy and non-Torra militias to force House Torra and its allies to give up.
      • The Rogolon, who get invaded by the Centauri because their space allows them to bypass the frontline and strike at the Orieni rear, are firmly on the Warrior side, even compared to the Drazi: they have powerfully built warships but refuse to mount interception-capable weapons because they find avoiding a strike is cowardly, and start all battles by giving out individual challenges (for comparison, Drazi ships are built to dodge enemy attacks and intercept what they can, and prefer to just rush the enemy without giving them time to organize). Predictably, the Centauri (and their Drazi mercenaries) crushed them so hard the only reason the Rogolon weren't annexed was the Centauri decided not to spare the manpower to occupy their worlds.
      • The Drakh are firmly on the Soldier side compared to everyone, convincing House Torra to not support the Centauri war effort and influencing House Syma (then the strongest Centauri Great House) to the point that when the emperor died in an aircar accident (which investigations revealed caused by a genuine software flaw no Centauri could exploit-but the Drakh could) they launched a coup, feigning submission to the Orieni (who, as worshipers of the Vorlon, were automatically enemies) and pledging military forces just to get them to make an offensive that failed precisely because of the lack of Drakh support, and even sacrificing the world they used as base as the time just to weaken the Orieni more (being actually a space-based race, the actual damage was minimal).
      • The Minbari, finally, are again the Warriors for the same reasons detailed above. Given their technological superiority, they could have forced an end to the war at any time but refused to take part, limiting their involvement to threats of utter devastation if the Centauri or the Orieni violated their neutrality (both nations wisely accepted their conditions, with the Centauri reining in anyone stupid enough to even propose to use Minbari space to bypass the fortified border systems).
  • Barbarians Rising:
    • Rome's legions are famously one of the first-ever organized standing armies with codified tactics, and they're usually unstoppable in set-piece field battles, as Boudica learns the hard way. With the exception of the Carthaginian General Hannibal and the Gothic leaders Fritigern and Alaric, the barbarians are invariably portrayed as warriors and, as Arminius explains, their major victories usually come simply from setting ambushes and never allowing the Romans to form up into a shield-wall: Viriathus and Arminius both destroy large Roman armies by trapping them against impassable terrain and outflanking them.
      Arminius: I have fought with them long enough, I know their weaknesses. Without their formations, they cannot fight. And I know our strengths.
      Emsger: How do we hide an army?
      Iguiomerus: We build ramparts along the tree-line. We've done it before. It'll be too late before they see us. We can slaughter them all.
    • Attila the Hun is portrayed as a hybrid. He has the mindset and outlook of a warrior and is more interested in plunder and slaughter than conquering land, but, much like Genghis Khan several centuries later, he shapes the Huns into an army with the organization to field large siege engines, enabling him to sack cities and fortresses that were previously almost impregnable to opponents such as Arminius.
  • Doctor Who: Seen in "The Sontaran Stratagem"/"The Poison Sky". Though the Doctor describes the Sontarans as "the best soldiers in the galaxy", they act more like the Warrior stereotype: they're Glory Hounds with a Martyrdom Culture and little in the way of organized tactics (fighting as individuals instead). When they go up against UNIT troops they initially force the Redshirts — sorry, Red Berets — to retreat with heavy losses, since they've used technobabble to render their weapons inoperable. But UNIT just switches ammunition, goes right back in, and utterly demolishes the Sontaran ground forces with small-unit fireteam tactics and lots of Dakka.
    • The run of the Twelfth Doctor revisits this dichotomy between rival love interests the Doctor and Danny Pink, with the added classification of "Officer". The viewer knows both of them as soldiers: the Doctor with the Time War, and Danny traumatized by the violence he was ordered to commit, and the people he could not help. These experiences weigh deeply on them both. However, rather than getting to know Danny, the Doctor almost immediately starts insulting him, stemming partly from his assumptions that Danny is a "warrior", for the worse. Danny then pegs the Doctor as an "officer", the Armchair Military type that pushes people under his command beyond their breaking points, with little regard for them as people. The Doctor is of course entirely inaccurate, but Danny is inaccurate in believing the Doctor doesn't get personally involved, as the Doctor was more directly involved in ending the time war than anyone else. Danny was right about how far the Doctor pushes people, which is a trend the families of Rose and Martha have directly stated. Danny dies to ensure Clara and the planet are safe, which the Doctor takes advantage of, having actually been forced into an officer role for the planet's defense. Danny then turns down his chance at resurrection, to save one of the people he could not help. The Doctor pretty much forgets about him after that, further proving Danny right.
  • Farscape has some unusual variations.
    • The Peacekeepers are straight-up Soldiers and have been for centuries. In a time travel episode, they're showing protecting civilians from a marauding horde of Berserkers, and they still fight in much the same disciplined manner but their morality has seriously derailed. However, taking a cue from the Warrior type, Peacekeepers are trained from birth to their militarized discipline and respect for the chain of command.
    • Main cast member Ka D'argo is of a Proud Soldier Race. While the Luxans feature a warrior-like culture emphasizing personal honor and feting ancestral victories and melee weapons (their signature weapon is a broadsword that converts to a pulse rifle), when we're shown Luxan combatants besides D'argo in the Grand Finale, they actually fight in a militarized manner, concentrating on their objective rather than personal glory. D'argo himself did serve extensively in combat but decided to become a farmer after completing his term of service. There's actually a genetic component to this; Luxan males are Hot-Blooded to the point of occasional random berserker rages when they're young adults, and D'argo doesn't reach emotional maturity until the last season. Older veterans like the squad they meet have grown past that.
    • The Scarrans are mostly Warriors. Individual Scarrans rely on their own Super-Toughness, Super-Strength, and heat blasts in combat, while the Empire writ large seems to rely mostly on mercenaries and slave armies, which are more numerous but poorer quality than the Peacekeepers or the Scarrans themselves.
      • The reason for this is that the Scarrans are naturally of a lower intelligence level than most other races. Their elite consume a special plant (somehow identical to Earth's strelitzia; possibly brought from Earth by the Eidolons) that boosts their intelligence, but there isn't nearly enough for everyone, which is why their soldiers are Dumb Muscle and why they're forced to utilize other races.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Histories & Lore are a series of animated segments that appear on the Blu-Ray releases of each season. Narrated by the actors from the viewpoints of their characters, they explain the history and legends of Westeros and serve to flesh out the back story of the series. In the Season 2 segment Greyjoy Rebellion: Stannis Baratheon, Stannis recalls the failed rebellion of House Greyjoy and the rest of the Ironborn, which took place several years prior to the start of the series. He discusses this trope at length, talking about how the Ironborn's warrior mindset and lust for glory were used against them.
      "I set a trap for the Iron Fleet off of Fair Isle. As sailors and warriors, the Ironborn are unparalleled, but they're not soldiers. They have no discipline, no strategy, no unity. In battle, each man fights only for his own glory, and their ships are built for lightning strikes and shore raids. Once the captains rushed in, I smashed them with our larger war galleys."
    • Another prominent example is the contrast between old friends and war buddies Robert Baratheon (warrior) and Ned Stark (soldier): Robert truly loved war and fighting, while Ned just saw it as a grim task and clearly does not have fond memories of it.
    • During the War of the Five Kings, King in the North Robb Stark orders his vassal (and uncle) Edmure Tully to hold the defensive line against Gregor "the Mountain" Clegane while Robb campaigns in the west. Eager for glory and not content to fight a defensive war, Edmure goes on the attack and captures an enemy-held mill. Robb castigates him upon his return: his plan had been to goad the Mountain into pursuing his forces and subjecting The Mountain's army to a Death of a Thousand Cuts. In essence, Robb needed an obedient soldier, and Edmure gave him an ambitious warrior.
    • Jon Snow and his Wildling love interest Ygritte debate this trope: The Wildlings have long had a reputation in the Seven Kingdoms as primitive, squabbling barbarians who spend too much time fighting each other to pose a serious threat to the lands south of the Wall (all true to an extent). Although they have formed sizable armies on several occasions and even taken on the Night's Watch, their warrior spirit doesn't compensate for their lack of military discipline, which has led them to be defeated in each historical encounter. Ygritte is certain that the army currently being assembled by Mance Raider will succeed, but Jon — who has actually studied the histories and received disciplined combat instruction — warns her that superior numbers and a fierce attitude alone will not seal a victory.
    • Occasionally comes up in a more nuanced form; specifically of fighters loyal to a person or cause versus those who fight for money, i.e. mercenaries. While both types arguably fit the "soldier" more than the "warrior", they can create similar divisiveness: When Stannis Baratheon is at a particularly low point, and Ser Davos Seaworth suggests hiring sellswords, Stannis bristles that the loyalty of such men can't be trusted. This prompts Davos to point out the hypocrisy of Stannis using dark magic to murder his enemies but neglecting the much more practical need to keep his army staffed and well-equipped, regardless of shifty moral standards.
  • In season 2 of Outlander, Jamie and his uncle Dougal argue over what approach they should take in the Jacobite Rebellion, with Jamie advocating for training the troops to follow orders and use discipline before fighting the British while Dougal wants to just look scary and rush the British with pure Highland spirit and fierceness.
  • The title character in Spartacus: Blood and Sand. He initially works with the Romans to protect his people. When a glory-seeking Roman officer wants him to fight an unrelated enemy, he refuses. After being enslaved and becoming a Gladiator, he fights to survive and for his freedom, rather than the glory other gladiators, such as Crixus, strive for.
    • His combat instructor, Doctore, strives to instill a fusion of both mindsets into his pupils. Yes the gladiators should fight for glory and coin, but that won't win them victory. An iron-disciplined fighter with the endurance to outlast their foes and the ability to work as a team when needed fighting in the arena. To achieve this, he subjects them all to Training from Hell. To a certain extent it works, and the gladiators eventually become unparalleled in the arena, and can later go toe-to-toe (when working together) against hundreds of Roman soldiers.
  • This is the main strength of the SGC against the Goa'uld Empire in Stargate SG-1. For all their initial technological superiority the Goa'uld approach war as an exercise in self-aggrandizement, and their armies are warriors fighting for the glory of their gods. The Tau'ri, meanwhile, are modern-day Earth humans who bring to the table an industrialized military machine and fight to achieve specific objectives, innovating as needed. This difference is specifically called out in "The Warrior" by way of comparing the two sides' main weapons:
    Col. Jack O'Neill: (hefts a staff weapon) This is a weapon of terror. It's meant to intimidate your enemy. (hefts an FN P90) This is a weapon of war. It's meant to kill your enemy.
    • After the collapse of the Goa'uld Empire, the power vacuum is filled in by various powers, with one of them being the Lucian Alliance, also largely composed of humans. The LA fights dirty, using bounty hunters and infiltrators to accomplish their goals. And when they come to fight, they don't make any threats or gloat, they do the job they came to do. They're also not above innovating, proving that the Tau'ri don't have a monopoly on that.
  • Star Trek
    • The Next Generation in particular does this with their Proud Warrior Race Guy(s), the Klingons, who love fighting for fighting's sake and have a lot of warrior-honor traditions and disdain for the weak. This contrasts with Starfleet, who fight only when they're forced into it; Starfleet prefers to think of itself as an exploration service first rather than a military. However, Starfleet's We Help the Helpless attitude eventually forged an alliance when one Starfleet ship tried to fight off four enemy Romulan ships to save a Klingon outpost. They all died, but the act of courage impressed the Klingons enough to end decades of animosity.
    • In Deep Space Nine, the Jem'Hadar are an interesting hybrid of the two, with a shift in perspective depending on which Alpha/Beta Quadrant nation they're being contrasted with:
      • To the Federation Starfleet, the Jems are Warriors. They are literally born knowing how to fight with a hyper-aggressive spirit to match and are fully-fledged grunts within a few weeks. They have a religious devotion to the Dominion's Founders, and their Badass Creed states that they are dead when they go into battle, with victory being the only way to reclaim their lives. They also have zero respect for any distinction between military and civilian that Starfleet would draw, and will happily exterminate entire species if so ordered.
      • To the Klingons, however, the Jems are Soldiers. The Klingons have a very effective army, but they still care a lot about personal glory and honor and can come into conflict with each other when in pursuit of those goals. The Jem'Hadar, on the other hand, adhere to the Soldier's credo of discipline and obedience to a degree that seems flat-out insane: they will knowingly walk straight into their deaths without batting an eye if they are told to, because that is "the order of things." There is one depicted case of a Jem'Hadar First fragging his Vorta commander for maltreatment, but another First later decries this as a breakdown of discipline.
    • The Deep Space Nine episode "Tacking into the Wind" has some of this crop up internally to the Klingons. Chancellor Gowron, a politician with limited military experience who had previously started a war with the Cardassians on a flimsy pretext in an attempt to gain credibility as a leader of warriors, begins to become jealous of General Martok, a common-born man who has been a fighter most of his adult life (having started as a common soldier who was ennobled for achievements in the field). Gowron starts ordering Martok into counterproductive frontal assaults and then belittling him as a coward when Martok points out the likely-unsustainable casualty rates (especially since, for technobabble reasons, the Klingons are the only one of the three primary Allied combatants who can safely fight the Dominion-allied Breen). Worf ends up killing Gowron in a duel and proclaiming Martok the new chancellor.
    • Star Trek: Voyager: In the pilot episode, Tom Paris explains that this trope is the reason Chakotay never liked him. Chakotay left Starfleet to join the Maquis on principle, to fight for his people when the Federation made it clear they didn't care about them. Tom was kicked out of Starfleet, which left him angry and bitter, he went in search of a fight and found the Maquis. Chakotay considered Tom a mercinary who would fight for anyone willing to pay his bar tab.
  • Andromeda: There's an interesting case with Captain Dylan Hunt and Tyr Anasazi (and most other Nietzcheans, for that matter). While Dylan is an idealist at heart, he's also very much a soldier and believes strongly in the chain of command and following the rules. Nietzcheans are not supposed to believe in ideals. They're pragmatists at heart and will do what is necessary to survive. At the same time, most of them are Glory Hounds, as such accomplishments raise their status within their Pride. While the Nietzcheans did defeat the Commonwealth when they rebelled, in large part it was because of preparation, sabotage (something like 50% of Commonwealth warships were destroyed in port by Nietzchean sabotage), and the fact that the High Guard hadn't fought in any wars for centuries.

  • Sabaton:
    • The latter half of Carolus Rex (2012) describes the effectiveness of Sweden's Elite Army under Karl XI and his son Karl XII (the latter of whom the album is named for). The Caroleans, as they were called, were a unique-for-the-time professional standing army whose discipline, tactics, motivation, and indifference to casualties made them very effective against the peasant levies that made up the bulk of mainland Europe's armies at the time... until operational mistakes during the invasion of Russia and scorched-earth tactics by Tsar Peter the Great led to Sweden's disastrous defeat at the Battle of Poltava.
    • "Shiroyama" and "Rorke's Drift" both describe this kind of matchup. In both cases, the soldiers win, but which side is honored is different in each song.
      • At Shiroyama, the samurai of the Satsuma Rebellion are simply too far outnumbered by the Imperial Japanese Army and go out in a blaze of glory.
      • At Rorke's Drift, entrenched rifles slaughter Zulu warriors armed with "spears and shields of oxenhide".

  • Fen Quest: Sir Zall praises Fen and the rest of his squad for their discipline, lamenting that too many of his knights are eager to "prove themselves" even if it endangers their mission. There's a bit of situational irony in this, as Fen started off as a barbarian warrior but ends up a better soldier than "civilized" knights.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the MechWarrior/BattleTech universe, this is one of the reasons why the Inner Sphere is able to hold off the Clans. Despite the Clans being a faction of humanity who embraces battle, having superior technology, a highly militarized culture, and with genetically enhanced soldiers, the clans are more like honorable combatants, fighting for individual glory and honor. The Inner Sphere, though less unified and with inferior mechs and technology, fights like soldiers, and manage to trick the clans multiple times into ambushes, one-sided routs, and more. At one point, a Clan fighter pilot pauses after damaging an Inner Sphere pilot, to salute her... and then gets blown out of the sky by the Inner Sphere pilot.
    • In-Universe, the senior commander of Com-Star forces comments (after routing the Clans at Tukkayid) that although each individual Clan warrior is better, and uses superior equipment, the Clans as a whole have spent centuries in what amounted to gladiatorial games with limited civilian fallout while the Inner Sphere factions spent centuries of total war trying to extinguish each other. This resulted in Clan leaders that could win any individual engagement but were totally unprepared to fight a campaign lasting more than a few days.
    • The Battle of Tukkayid itself was a resounding example of this trope in action, as the majority of the victories the Clans won in the battle were due to "un-Clan-like" tactics such as Clan Jade Falcon using the unorthodox Falcon Guards who fought with Inner Sphere style tactics. Clan Wolf simply discarded the normal Clan-like emphasis on quick and brutal fights and prepared for a long, drawn-out battle in which they outright suspended batchalls and other forms of honorable combat, especially after witnessing this very thing getting the Steel Vipers virtually annihilated when the defending Comstar units baited them with challenges that goaded them into charging into traps and deadly terrain. The Clans that fought like warriors generally inflicted heavy losses due to the superiority of their Mechs and pilots but were outmaneuvered strategically by the Comstar armies.
    • However, the Inner Sphere does get some of the Warrior traits depending on the Great House — House Kurita values "honor", and many commanders emphasize melee combat even when it's disadvantageous. That said, even they are not so foolish as the Clans in that regard: the armed forces of the Draconis Combine (the realm that House Kurita rules) were victorious at the Battle of Wolcott, where Clan Smoke Jaguar forces were defeated with Inner Sphere subterfuge specifically exploiting the Clan rules of engagement. The Draconis unit defending Wolcott appeared green and new, but was actually an elite unit with the insignias scrubbed off. They also deliberately lied in the batchall about the number of forces as well, leading to the Jaguars woefully underbidding against what they thought was a paltry green unit defending.
    • Referred to by name in a speech in the novel Bred For War.
    • The Hell's Horses are the only faction among the Clans that espouse a lot more Soldier traits than Warrior. Their philosophy is based on "man comes before the machine", in which the individual soldier is valued over whichever tool of warfare he chooses. Specifically, there is little to no discrimination between their military and civilian castes as their philosophy plants them as an integral part of the greater whole of the Clan. Moreover, the Hell's Horses place less emphasis on the strength of the BattleMech and more on the conventional vehicles and infantry in regard to the centuries-old approach of combined arms warfare. While this philosophy comes off as rather unorthodox and quaint by the other Clans, the Hell's Horses have surprisingly thrived with this approach throughout the later passing centuries and maintained effective stability in their society even as the other supposedly 'superior' Clans have outpaced them with their traditional "BattleMech over others" approach to warfare.
    • The Star Adders, while much more warrior-like in individual outlook, were founded on the principle of Combat Pragmatism. As a result, while they still fight as warriors, their armies put a soldier-like emphasis on groundwork, military intelligence, and preparation in any individual campaign. Notably, during the planned Clan invasion of the Inner Sphere the Star Adders were the only clan who had done wargames using Inner Sphere tactics and made a long-term plan for the logistics needed to realistically take and hold the Inner Sphere, and during the Great Refusal that ended the Clan threat for good Clan Star Adder won their trial by ambushing tactics, which the Inner Sphere had been completely unprepared for.
  • Magic: The Gathering: The designers split some synonymous roles of creatures among the five colours of Magic. It is possible for any Class Type to be in any colour, but the examples here assume where you can find the role 80% of the time.
    • Barbarians VS Berserkers: Both are classes that tend to live in the moment, and fight in the Red color pie. They are distinct, with "barbarians" being primitive and "berserkers" having some way to increase their power, or being forced to attack each turn.
    • Soldier VS Warrior: A "soldier" is a part of a formal army, in white usually, sometimes blue. A "warrior" is usually alone, or in a loose horde, in the red or green.
    • Mechanically speaking, soldiers tend to be defensively minded (they have higher toughness than power) and are often paired with abilities that help when defending, such as pumping toughness or preventing damage. Berserkers are offensively minded (they have higher power than toughness) and have offensive abilities like pumping power or trample. Warriors tend to be in the middle; they usually have good power and toughness but rarely have strong or complex abilities.
  • In Warhammer, this is the difference between Orcs and the Black Orcs. Normal greenskins are unruly brutes who have a chance to spend a turn fighting among themselves rather than following their general's orders. Black Orcs were created by the Chaos Dwarfs to be medieval Super Soldiers, and are disciplined and focused fighters able to quell lesser greenskins' animosity with a stern glare.
    • This is also one of the differences between the Dark Elves and High Elves. The soldiers of the High Elves are usually citizen-levies trained to defend Ulthuan from external threats (though exceptions such as the Dragon Princes of Caledor exist). In contrast, the Dark Elves pride themselves on martial ability and are usually raiders and warriors, using slave labor for menial labor. The difference arises from the fact that the "original" Dark Elves, the Naggarothi, were solely devoted to warfare while the rest of Ulthuan was composed of farmers, poets, scholars, etc. The most dangerous High Elves are dedicated professional warriors who have had centuries to perfect their craft and the most dangerous Dark Elves are disciplined soldiers free from Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. In short, an elf playing against the type is the one you need to watch out for.
    • Empire (soldiers) vs Bretonnia (warriors).
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Soldiers would be the Tau, Imperial Guard, and Necrons. Both Tau and humans have a strict, no-nonsense approach to fighting and winning war, just with different tactics involved: the Tau are like the late-war Red Army, carefully husbanding their forces with good intelligence and the precise application of long-range firepower, while the Imperial Guard are more like the early-war Red Army, carefully sacrificing forces to maximise their delivery of massed firepower from artillery and infantry. The Necrons are unthinking constructs with little in the way of a warrior culture but are fanatically determined to slay every living thing they can get their metal hands on.
    • The Eldar are definitely Warriors, they have a warrior culture that has been refined over thousands of years, and view war as just as much an art form as painting or singing — though this doesn't keep them from fighting dirty, and indeed as a Dying Race they prefer to. Plus as the resident Space Elves, they have formidable psychic powers, can predict what their opponents are likely to do, and also their technology is borderline magic, it's that advanced. Their Drukhari cousins take the Warrior to the psychotic extreme — all the lethality of their "good" cousins, but every single one of them is a bloodthirsty killer as their culture is based around raiding realspace to slaughter and take captives (like the Aztec Flower Wars in real life), and they leave menial tasks to their slaves.
    • As for da Orks, even the runtiest of boyz thinks WAAAGH!!! is a bloody good larf, while the only guiding principle in Ork society is that Might Makes Right. Within the Ork race themselves, this is what separates mainstream Boyz from those who join the Stormboyz. These lads have a strange preoccupation with marching around in uniforms, military discipline, and attempts to gather battlefield intelligence beyond the direction to the nearest enemy. Other Orks shake their heads at such eccentricities, but put up with the Stormboyz since they're decent assault troops — plus it's always amusing when one of their Jet Packs blows up!
    • Though there are exceptions, broadly speaking Space Marines and Chaos Space Marines are the Soldiers and Warriors, respectively. Space Marines are highly regimented and disciplined, are nominally united under the umbrella of the Imperium, are all-rounders with a slight emphasis on shooting, and are nearly impossible to remove from the battlefield by failing morale. Chaos Space Marines, on the other hand, are vicious but less disciplined, more often than not organized into nomadic warbands, capable of being all-rounders but have an emphasis on melee, and with the exception of the most fanatical worshipers of Chaos will flee if they are losing. It's worth mentioning that Space Marines have access to the Imperium's superior technology, and can bring to bear weapons and wargear that Chaos Marines simply don't have access to. The same is also true in reverse, with some Chaos Marines having exotic weapons and war machines, but these are built by exploiting Chaotic influences, including Daemons.
      • As for the variations, Space Marines, for instance, bear a resemblance to knightly chivalric orders more than a traditional army but exactly where they fall depends on the chapter: for example, the Ultramarines with their hyper-adherence to the Codex Astartes rules of organization and tactics are more like soldiers, whereas the Vikings In Space Space Wolves and Blood Knight Black Templars more resemble warriors. For Chaos, forces such as the Black Legion and the Word Bearers are more Soldier than Warrior as they remain at least fairly well-disciplined, coherent, and focused; while forces such as the Emperor's Children and the World Eaters are pure Warriors, demonstrated by these two quickly splintering into numerous small forces and fight by throwing themselves at the enemy because they love the bloodshed.
      • Despite the above, the supreme leader of the Black Legion, Abaddon the Despoiler, had been much more of a Warrior than a Soldier in past rules editions. He is arguably the most powerful close-quarters combatant in the game, but that was it. Unlike most commanders, he had no support abilities to help his army. His current has alleviated this somewhat, but his biggest strength remains to be that he's one of the meanest things in melee.
      • There's also the distinction between the Space Marines and the Custodes, the Emperor's personal troops and bodyguards. While the Marines place great pride in fighting "as brothers" with different specialists supporting each other, the Custodes fight as individual warriors. On a few occasions, this has led to Marine characters completely losing respect for them, even though the Custodes were cutting through enemies like paper.
    • The Tyranids are surprisingly Soldier-like. While their only motivation is to eat the galaxy and multiply and one might think they'd be Warriors due to their use of the Zerg Rush (they were the zerg before the actual zerg were), on the battlefield they rely heavily on the centralized coordination of their Hive Mind, to the point where one of the most effective ways to deal with their ground forces is killing the larger "synapse creatures" that act like psychic radio repeaters in order to strip the swarm of its leadership. During invasions, they also pre-prepare the battlefield often decades or centuries ahead of time by infiltrating genestealers into planetary populations, rather like a normal army might use covert operations forces to weaken a target before deploying the main army, and they use fairly sophisticated tactics while they fight.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In a full meta-perspective, the Soldier represents the Lawful alignments while the Warrior represents the Chaotic alignments.
    • The Paladin typically fills the role of the Soldier to a "tee," both in form and in theory, being restricted to Lawful Good alignment only; the Antipaladin, therefore, fills the role of the Warrior, as it's required to be Chaotic Evil — Paladins often act as The Cape, while Antipaladins are typically either dragons or Big Bads themselves.
      • A more benign pair of examples are the Monk, who is restricted to any of the Lawful Alignments, and the Barbarian, who cannot be Lawful (and are typically therefore played as one of the Chaotic alignments). While the Monk supports its teammates and strives for personal enlightenment, the Barbarian typically keeps count of the bodies it wracks up before anything else. However, either can be a hero, villain, or somewhere in between.
    • In D&D 4E, this was invoked with the enemy roles of Brute (warrior) and Soldier. Additionally, certain PC classes or builds might fall to one side or the other, such as the Barbarian being a warrior while most classes in the Defender role are soldiers (except the Fighter class which could fall either way depending on build).
    • This is the main difference between hobgoblins and orcs. While both are aggressively warlike, hobgoblins are known for their organization and discipline, whereas orcs are far more savage and wild.
    • Forgotten Realms: Tempus, the Chaotic Neutral god of war, is the warrior, and one of the mightiest deities in the pantheon since virtually every combatant on Toril prays to him before battle. His servant the Red Knight, the goddess of battle tactics, is Lawful Neutral and represents organized soldiering. Both of them oppose Garagos, formerly the Netherese god of war but now a being of pure elemental rage.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Erastil, the Lawful Good deity of family and rural communities, has a soldierly outlook: he encourages martial training as a means of protecting one's community. He deeply dislikes the setting's primary War God, Gorum, a Chaotic Neutral god whom Erastil considers a brute and a bully.
    • Gorum plays with this trope. He looks like a brute but is a tactical genius and strategy is part of his portfolio. Gorum himself is a Soldier, but he is a god of war and god of both Soldiers and Warriors. His creed includes the line, "Cowards flee, warriors retreat." Gorum does not want you to throw your life away and retreating in good order to pursue another path to victory or even survive so you can settle matters is fine with him. Gorum celebrates all martial traditions; his priests ask, "Will you fight?" Not "How do you fight?" Gorum also hates wanton slaughter. He specifically considers it anathema to kill those who surrender.
    • Rovagug the Rough Beast is a Warrior: his creed includes, "I will die standing."
  • In Nomine:
    • This is the central contrast between Laurence, Archangel of the Sword and current leader of The Armies of Heaven, and Michael, Archangel of War and former holder of this position:
      • Laurence favors a structured and formalized approach to both war in general and to the War against Hell. He runs his angels like a large, organized army, with a clear and extensive chain of command, expects his followers to obey orders without backtalk, and favors sponsoring large, hierarchical organizations among mortals. He's very good at mobilizing large forces at once and coordinating long-term strategies, and genuinely thinks that things work best when everyone knows who to look to for guidance and respects their superiors. However, he's also notoriously inflexible, has little tolerance for opinions from the ranks, and tends to find it frustrating when his fellow Archangels don't act within his idealized military structure or Hell cheats again.
      • Michael is the patron of personal struggles and of individual glory in war. He emphasizes commanding by earning the respect of your followers and structures both his angelic and mortal followers as a system of loosely connected cells and warrior brotherhoods, with only the most rudimentary chain of command. His scattered cells are very resistant to infiltration and subversion and he's extremely good at motivating individuals to fight, and his followers respect him immensely. However, he's also pig-headed, individualistic and acknowledges no superior save for God Himself, and his emphatic refusal to defer to others can make him a tremendous pain in the ass to work with.
    • Michael has a similar dynamic with his ancient enemy, Baal, Prince of the War, although this may be better phrased as Chieftain Versus General. Michael is a zealous champion who fights for glory, for God, and to show his might and prowess, and encourages his followers to strive for excellence and operate with respect and comdradeship. Baal is a calculating pragmatist who fights to win, thinks in terms of cold, dispassionate caculations and tactical analyses, and views his followers as ultimately expendable pieces who are there to follow his orders and spend themselves as he decress necessary. Where Michael insists in fighting with honor, Baal will happily use any underhanded and cheating tactic that will give him a strategic advantage.

    Web Animation 
    • This trope is the distinction between Goku and Superman.
      • Goku is the Warrior. He openly enjoys a good fight and trains himself to be the strongest fighter he can be. He has always seen fighting as a way of self-improvement, only wants to fight opponents at their full strength, and even compliments opponents who help him push himself harder. He doesn't take a fight seriously unless his enemy can stand up to him or has done something to piss him off, like threatening his friends and family. Goku is a good person and a hero, but his passion for fighting can cloud his better judgment. The Warrior loses.
      • Superman is the Soldier. He fights not for himself, but to protect others. His first and foremost concern is to save people from danger; as such, he will attempt to disable his opponents in the quickest and most efficient way possible without killing them.note  Superman only sees fighting as a form of protection and will only use his full power when he has no other choice. The Soldier wins.
    • Happens again between Omni-Man and Homelander.

    Web Original 
  • The Salvation War pits the Forces of Heaven and Hell, generally Warriors, against modern-day humanity, shown as Soldiers. The point here being that Angels and Demons fight with honor, while Humans simply fight to win, while trying to minimize loss of life on their side. Humans win, partially because of above, partially because of More Dakka.
  • Loreweaver Universe on Steven Universe antagonist Jasper:
    ...her attitude speaks to her having a few conquests under her belt at least, and having grown bored with the fights she can find.
    I say "conquests" instead of "campaigns" because Jasper doesn't really seem like a soldier so much as a warrior. Soldiers accomplish objectives; warriors go in looking for a good fight. Jasper's "uuuuuuugh I'm going back to the ship" attitude doesn't speak to her being all that concerned about accomplishing her objective here on Earth; she just wanted to get into a scrap and prove her strength.
  • A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry devotes a post to this distinction, as part of a series of essays exploring how combat experience varies over time and in different cultures, a distinction the author claims has meaningful real-world consequences.
    "Encouraging soldiers to see themselves as ‘warriors’ means encouraging them to see their role as combatants as the foundational core of their identity."

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, this is the dynamic between the Fire Nation and Water Tribes. The Fire Nation prides itself in its highly structured and professional military. Their soldiers are uniformly equipped and are all about obeying the chain of command, and they fight for the purpose of serving the Fire Lord. For the Water Tribes, warriorhood is the heart of their culture. They are more free-spirited in that while one is expected to respect those above their station, all warriors are expected to demonstrate leadership and initiative, and their unique talents are often a valuable contribution. This is especially true in the Northern Water Tribe, where the wisdom of a fellow warrior must be considered. Water Tribe warriors tend to fight with a variety of skills and weaponry but have a tendency to charge into fights recklessly. By The Legend of Korra, the Northern Water Tribe eventually phased out their warrior caste in favor of adopting a professional military, while the Southern Water Tribe are still more warrior-like as they were in the Hundred Year War.
  • In She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, the Horde relies on uniformly armed and equipped squads of soldiers, with a few uniquely talented individuals allowed to customize their equipment as they see fit. The eponymous princesses, by contrast, are all unique Magical Girls who rely on their Elemental Powers to win the day. Particularly illustrated by Adora, a defector from the Horde, who initially has trouble adjusting to the lack of discipline among the princesses.
  • G.I. Joe has the Warrior Joes going up against the Soldier Cobra terrorist syndicate. Each Joe has a unique loadout and combat specialization (and are implied to be culled from an Armed Forces unit), whereas Cobra soldiers are Terrorists Without a Cause and are basically trained; about enough to aim a laser rifle and pilot a Hiss Tank, if that.
  • The Justice League Unlimited episode "Patriot Act" has a short argument along these lines between Shining Knight (warrior) and General Eiling/The Shaggy Man (soldier). Shining Knight, who follows only causes he believes in, willfully disobeyed the orders of his superior that would involve attacking civilians, and as it turned out at the time was actually a Secret Test of Character issued to Shining Knight to see if he indeed embodied the chivalric traits most Knights strive for. Eiling, who believes in My Country, Right or Wrong and obeying the chain of command, replies that makes him a lousy soldier.

    Real Life 
  • Subverted by the United States Army "Soldier's Creed," the first two lines of which state, "I am an American Soldier. I am a Warrior and a member of a team." It seems you can be both.
    • Finnish conscripts' creed Sissi on sika siviilissäkin (a Ranger is a swinenote  even in civilian life) reflects this: even when having completed one's tour of duty, a Ranger (Coastal Ranger, Parachute Ranger, Border Ranger, Frontier Ranger, Long Range Reconnaissance, etc) is assumed to keep up his fighting and survival skills to be called to duty at any moment.
  • Roman legions versus native warriors, such as Gauls, Celts, and Germans. The Romans are well-known as one of the first states to create a professional army with carefully codified tactics and organization, whereas nearly all of their opponents relied on calling up native militias. It initially went well for the Romans in most cases, but one of the things that stopped the Roman Empire's expansion was that they ran out of rich opponents to steamroll and pillage with their (very expensive) superior army. Political infighting and looming economical bankruptcy eventually sent the Western half of the empire on a path to self-destruction and the "barbarians" moved in to pick up the pieces in the 5th century.

    The Germanic tribes also famously handed Rome one of the worst military defeats in its history in 9 CE at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. The overconfident Roman governor Publius Quinctilius Varus, spurred on by Arminius, a Roman-educated German who was spying for the tribes, led three legions, auxiliaries, and cavalry into thick woods and weather (it was pouring down rain) that favored the lightly equipped Germanic warriors. Arminius used the tribes' strength to hit the weaknesses in Roman tactics, hitting various parts of the Roman line in Hit-and-Run Tactics through the woods. When the dust settled, over 16,000 Romans were dead or enslaved (Varus included; Arminius sent his head to another chief in [vain] hopes of securing an alliance) and the Empire had lost control of everything east of the Rhine. On the flipside, in an ensuing reprisal campaign, a Roman army managed to bring the Germans to battle in open-field combat, the Romans' best terrain, and Arminius was later assassinated due to tribal politics.
    • An interesting twist is that, compared to other cultures the Romans interacted with, they themselves often appeared to fall into the warrior role more often, despite their use of a professional standing army. One comparison would be the Romans and the various Greek city-states, especially during the Hellenistic period where the Roman Republic began to come into conflict with the Greeks. The difference in connotations can also be seen in the characterization of Ares versus Mars. While more popular in Sparta, most often Ares was seen as the embodiment of the negative aspects of war, whereas Mars (helped by origins as an agricultural deity as well) was seen as more positive. And complicating it further, the Spartans again interpreted Ares more favorably (though in different ways compared to how the Romans viewed Mars) and are typically perceived as the odd one out among the various ancient Greek city-states, being interpreted more as Warriors.
  • The Mongols are often characterized as a barbarous example of The Horde, but in truth, Genghis Khan organized them into a professional army of soldiers, a highly-trained, -regimented, -motivated, and therefore highly-effective fighting force. The Other Wiki explains.
    • The 13th-century Mongol invasion of Europe illustrates this. Though a European knight was no less a fighter than his Mongol counterpart, the Mongols initially had superior organization, discipline, and tactics. The knightly approach to warfare, i.e. a glorious headlong charge, made them nearly helpless against the Mongol Horse Archers' use of the Defensive Feint Trap and other Hit-and-Run Tactics. It also helped a lot that Subudei, Baidar, and Batu were the most brilliant generals of the era — the later Mongol generals were not up to their par.
    • It is also worth noting that under wiser European commanders who learned from Mongol routs and figured out Mongol weaknesses such as a need for open space to manoeuvre and, on a logistic level, vast grasslands for their horses (and the Military Orders, such as the Templars, Hospitallers, and Teutons, who promoted on merit — mostly — and trained with rigorous discipline), European armies started coming out on top — Horse Archers are not great at a) conquering the kind of heavy-duty fortifications that medieval Europe was full of, b) dealing with increasingly disciplined heavy cavalry sorties from said fortifications in confined spaces, or c) exchanging fire with squares of foot archers. The Mamluks worked out the same thing (though instead of waiting for the grasslands to run out, they just set most of the Middle East on fire and exploited fortresses developed during the wars against the Crusaders and territorial advantages).
    • Similarly, the Japanese considered the Mongols to be barbaric opponents because Samurai tactics at the time were mostly about individuals finding an opponent to duel before moving on to the next honorable contest. Mongol tactics were all about killing as many of the enemy as possible as efficiently and indiscriminately as possible.
    • In China, the southern Song Dynasty actually held out against the Mongols until the Battle of Xiangyang in 1273, when the Mongol Empire had expanded all the way into Eastern Europe and the Middle East. It helped that the Song kept a standing, professional army rather than a feudal levy, making it a case of Soldiers vs. Soldiers.
  • This is often the distinction made between the US Army and the US Marine Corps, to the point that it's considered an insult to call a Marine a "soldier". Further, commanders of Army soldiers don't like elite groups like the SEALs, Rangers, or Delta Force hanging out with their men, because soldiers tend to start trying to emulate them by improvising instead of keeping cover and formation, compromising the entire operation.
  • Generally (but not always) colonial forces versus natives, respectively — particularly US Army versus Native Americans, and the British versus Dervishes, Afghans, and most African groups (but technically not the Zulus, who also had an organized army). Exceptions largely prove the rule; after victories such as the Little Bighorn and the Monongahela, even Isandlwana, native forces were typically disorganized or shattered by casualties, and failed to follow up. This enabled the Europeans to come back later and clean up the pieces — "punitive expeditions" were innumerable in the colonial era. (Also, for what it's worth the Zulus of Isandlwana were only "warriors" in comparison to the ultra-organised, industrialised Brits; by the standards of the native southern African kingdoms, they were a highly disciplined, professional fighting force, focused on winning the battle for their king and people rather than personal glory.)
  • Native American auxiliaries vs. Scottish Highlanders, on the same side. The native warriors would find it difficult to replace their numbers and thought that any deaths were a failure. For this reason, they refused to do very dangerous jobs. By contrast, Scottish Highlanders were perfectly happy to charge straight into musket fire; they'd lose a few, but they'd slaughter the enemy in the ensuing close combat, and their professional status meant casualties could be replaced. As a result, the Scots thought the Americans were cowards, while the Americans thought the Scots had a death wish.
  • In 16th-17th century Russia, there was actually a semantic difference between old-style Warriors and new-style Soldiers (Soldaty, using the Saxon word for 'soldier') which quite neatly mirrored the real distinctions in recruitment and training between the two. Needless to say, and Cossacks aside, the Soldaty triumphed as the age of Gunpowder Warfare went on.
    • It is also neatly demonstrated in colonial warfare. The Cossack bands did pretty well in the initial clashes with the Siberian natives, but then they were actually a rather well-ordered force compared to most of the natives. But when the task turned to actually administrating the conquered lands, the Mildly Military Cossacks turned out rather inefficient, as they were more interested in living off the lands and often ended up needlessly brutalizing the locals, which is why the regular troops were brought in instead.
  • The Oka Crisis, one of the most famous post-confederation conflicts between the Canadian government and Native tribes (started in 1986 over a land dispute). Famously captured in this picture of a Mohawk warrior and a Canadian soldier of the Royal 22nd Regiment staring each other down.
  • Team sports (the Soldiers) vs. individual sports (the Warriors).
  • World War II could be considered a case study on this. Despite all combatants technically being soldiers, the Axis powers tended to ideologically shift closer to warrior while the Allies were firmly on the side of soldier. Fascist and Nazi ideas of war were all about having a glorious triumph over the enemy or a glorious death. Japan based their war effort on the samurai way of life or rather the Hollywood version of it. Their training was more about mentally preparing their combatants how to kill. By contrast, the Western allies' propaganda was all about making the Axis problem go away so that they could live in peace. Their training often ignored making combatants ready for war and instead focused on working as a group and other useful skills note .
    • In addition, the Axis powers treated their fighter pilots like warriors, keeping them in battle where they could do the most damage. By contrast, the Allies treated their fighters like soldiers: those who excelled in air combat were often pulled from combat duty to become Veteran Instructor personnel. That way, they could avoid being casualties and hurt morale, train new recruits with their experience and improve the overall standard of the air force, and perhaps encourage other pilots to excel not just for immediate survival in the field, but they could be excused sooner for that excellence.
      • The British and the Japanese at the time used flights of three referred to as the "Vic" or "Shotai" formation respectively, one leader and two wingmen. Meanwhile, the Americans and the Germans used 4 plane formations, respectively refered to as the "Finger Four" and the "Schwarm" (Swarm), one veteran pilot with a junior wingman and one slightly less veteran pilot with a slightly less junior wingman (to balance the two teams). In this case, the Americans and the Germans were Soldiers, with the two fighters in each section working together to take down enemies while covering their sixes and coordinating with each other for more advanced maneuvers, such as the Thach Weave. In comparison, the Japanese broke into three individual fighter pilots, proving devastatingly effective early on, when their veteran fighters were facing green Americans, but much less so as attrition wore them down and their opponents became more and more experienced themselves. The British, rooted in outdated cavalry mentalities, flew in rigid parade-like V formations that greatly limited their manuveurbility and reduced 3 planes to a single clumsy combat element.
    • As for the USSR it was a bit complicated. Well, the Red Army mostly wanted to be firmly on the side of soldiers. However, the political side of the thing, as in most of the actual government, was simply in love with the idea of a "revolutionary soldier" which falls more to the side of warrior. In this idea barely trained "revolutionaries" would go out and try and rally the oppressed masses to fight for the Soviet Union against the outside threat. The concept was incredibly divorced from reality but was politically a dangerous-to-deviate-from mainstream, and thus prevailed for most of the '20s and '30s. Only after the Soviets were dealt a number of very humiliating curb stomps in the workup to WWII proper, the political brass, including Josef Stalin, let the Red Army do its thing. Still, the Red Army itself was most emphatically not a monolithic structure, there's been a lot of competing concepts and approaches,note  which is why the Warrior mindset survived right to the Nazi attack, which was one of the reasons for the initial defeats. Only then it was definitely shown to be the less efficient approach, and the Soviet Military swung very heavily to the soldier side, fighting to live against an enemy that would enslave or kill them all if triumphed.
  • Fighter pilots vs ground attack or bomber pilots also has this dynamic. Fighter pilots behave more like warriors, living for the dogfight, measuring their self-worth by how many dogfights they've won, and often feeling a sense of kinship even with enemy fighter pilots who have been successful. This is best illustrated by the sheer amount of respect Baron Richtofen got, even among American, British, and Commonwealth fighter pilots (who gave him a burial with full military honours, with attendees actually weeping). On the other hand, ground attack and bomber pilots behave more like soldiers, seeing their job as not a great adventure that brings them glory but as a grim business that needs to be done to win the war. The sheer amount of intricate planning that goes into strike missions and even Air Support missions further illustrates this. For example, in an Alpha Strike on a hardened target, a fighter pilot escorting a bomber might become an Ace and feel that he had a good mission, but if that bomber ends up being shot down without destroying the target, the mission is considered failed.
    • As with most forms of warfare, the advancement of technology has turned the fighter pilots of most major militaries into functional Soldiers. They may have a reputation for being a cocky and arrogant Warrior stereotype on the ground, but when they're in the air, their job is to accomplish the mission with as few friendly casualties as possible (preferably none). Notably, modern pilots are communicating with friendly forces constantly, for better situational awareness and coordination. They often give up kills to other pilots who are better positioned to take the shot. They may even let enemy aircraft go if trying to persue the enemy involves overextending or getting out of position and putting friendly forces at risk.
  • The Arab Revolt during World War I pitted Arab tribal levies (warrior) against the military of the Ottoman Empire (soldier). British soldier T. E. Lawrence famously sent to coordinate between the Arab rebels and the Entente Powers, recalls in his autobiography Seven Pillars of Wisdom having to make concessions to the traditions of the Arabs' raiding culture and allow them to fight the way they knew rather than according to Western doctrines, including allowing them to pillage after victories, simply because they were so baked-in he couldn't stop them. Unusually for modern examples of this trope, the warriors won, though not without considerable help from Britain and France who firmly remained on the soldier side. The warriors were promptly betrayed by their allied soldiers, leaving them worse off than the collapsed Ottoman empire.
  • The Battle of the Atlantic was a fight between Allied destroyer escorts (soldier) and German U-boats (warrior). The destroyers would act as a single unit to hunt down U-boats that would try to attack their supply convoys. The German submariners measured their success in the tonnage they had sent to the bottom of the ocean.
  • North Vietnam and it's allies (warriors) vs South Vietnam and it's allies (soldiers) during The Vietnam War
  • The War on Terror usually fits this trope. While the "terrorist" side is diverse, most combatants have been motivated by ideology, and not part of regular armed forces.
  • A non-human example: sharks (warriors) vs orcas (soldiers). Sharks being generally solitary hunters who rely more on instinct and their physical abilities to make a kill while orcas hunt in highly coordinated groups and use a variety of complex strategies to dispatch their prey. However, they also go against the fictional trend of soldiers being more professional as they've been known to "play" with their food in a manner that some describe as sadistic as well as sometimes killing animals for no apparent reason, sharks typically only hunt when hungry and prefer to kill quickly while leaving other animals alone otherwise. Orcas also buck the trend by being individually stronger, being much larger than any predatory shark, being anywhere from twice to upwards of four times as heavy as a Great White. There's a reason there are entire pods of Orcas that primarily prey on sharks.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Soldier Versus Warrior


Carth and Canderous

Veterans of opposing sides in the Mandalorian Wars, a conversation between Carth and Canderous shows their differing perspectives on war.

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5 (15 votes)

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Main / SoldierVsWarrior

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