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Southern-Fried Private

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"Our captain has a handicap to cope with, sad to tell.
He's from Georgia, and he doesn't speak the language very well."
— "It Makes A Fellow Proud To Be A Soldier", An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer
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Hailing from the Deep South of the continental United States, he's a stereotypical cigar-chompin' Good Ol' Boy who thinks shootin' and blowin' stuff up is nothing but fun or at least doesn't take it as seriously as others in The Squad.

He speaks with a heavy drawl or accent and often peppers his speech with odd euphemisms or folksy sayings that leave others confused or at a loss for words. Should he earn a promotion to officer, this will manifest as addressing his subordinates as "Son" and "Boy".

His apparent lack of common sense is meant to indicate limited intelligence in general, and he's sometimes shown having a hard time understanding things that more urban-bred (and therefore educated) members of The Squad have no trouble at all with. On the other hand, he usually excels at shootin', fightin', and findin' things in the woods — all skills you need to be a good soldier — because he's been doing those since birth back home.

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He's the foil for any minority or New Meat soldiers in the unit, as he almost exclusively gets to play the role of the insular xenophobe. Of course, if he makes it as far as participating in some foreign battle zone, you can count on him ignorantly blundering about and angering the locals to the frustration of his commanders.

Even if this character is written as an officer, it is important to remember that this is a class-specific trope. A military officer with southern accent, a good education and a genteel matter is not usually a Southern-Fried Private, but an attempt by the writer to provide some variety among a group of characters who might otherwise speak and dress pretty much the same. Good examples of this type would be "Bones" McCoy (DeForest Kelley) on Star Trek: The Original Series, Surgeon Wilkins (Chill Wills) in the John Wayne cavalry classic Rio Grande, and Chief Engineer "Trip" Tucker on Star Trek: Enterprise.

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Truth in Television in the sense that it is a Real Life stereotype, stemming from the fact that there are many military bases in the South, as well as the abundance of Southerners in the military and their penchant for firearms and anything military-related. Compared to fiction, however, it isn't as prevalent due to the fact that doing such behavior could get his squad captured or even killed or even worse, get him court-martialed for his antics.

For those outside the US? Any geographical area of any country that's seen as being a bit backwards or remote or woodsy can breed a non-US version of this character.

Despite the title, this trope is not a cross between Groin Attack and Kill It with Fire.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga 
  • The Black Tri-Stars of Mobile Suit Gundam were given thick Southern accents in the dub, which carry over to appearances in other media, including the Dynasty Warriors Gundam series.

    Comic Books 
  • Private Robert 'Rebel' Ralston from Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos in the Marvel Universe. After the war, he became a senator for Texas.
  • Kaintuck Jones, one of Tomahawk's Rangers in Tomahawk. He's from the Kentucky backwoods and that's about it.
  • In Hunter's Hellcats, Cracker is from somewhere in The Savage South (probably Appalachia). He is constantly questioning Hunter's orders, grumbling about his duties, and talking about his feuding cousins.

    Film 
  • Bradford Dillman's portrayal of Major Barnes in The Bridge at Remagen. Barnes speaks in a southern drawl while volunteering his men for increasingly dangerous missions and avoiding exposure to enemy fire himself. George Segal's character at one point imitates Barnes' southern drawl as a way of indicating his displeasure with his glory-seeking commander.
  • No Time for Sergeants, a 1958 film starring Andy Griffith as Will Stockdale, an Air Force recruit from rural Georgia, whose dad destroyed his draft notices to spare him from the embarrassment of big cities like Macon and Atlanta. By the time he gets there, he thinks that ROTC is a disease, his antics distress the sergeant-in-charge, he thinks that latrine duty is a promotion. His commanding sarge, who is in danger of being demoted to latrine duty, promises a wristwatch if he passes the entrance exam, which he does. He later attempts to get Stockdale drunk so he can look better, which backfires when Will rigs the toilets to go off like a 21-gun salute, and Sgt. King is demoted to private, later earning his sergeant's rank back. While flying to Denver in an obsolete B-25 bomber, they put it on autopilot, where the navigator thinks they're flying over the Gulf of Mexico, only to discover they're flying over a test bombing site in Yucca Flats, Nevada, when they jump out of the plane and people think they're dead. When they are revealed to be alive, Stockdale requests to be transferred to the infantry with Sgt. King and Ben Whitledge.
  • Barry Pepper as squad sharpshooter Pvt. Jackson speaks in a southern drawl and prays out loud while he blows away Nazis in Saving Private Ryan.
    Jackson: Be thou not far from me, oh Lord... <Blam!> Oh my strength, haste thee to help me... <Blam!>
  • Vernon Pinkley in the The Dirty Dozen. There's also Archer Maggot, but he's a genuine full-blown psychopath, not just an ignorant, insular hick.
  • Averted in the film Jarhead where the character Kruger (Lucas Black) is a Texan with a very thick accent and displays some of the tendencies above, but is by far the most outspoken critic of the military operation (such as the lack of free speech for soldiers and possible health dangers of the anti-chemical weapon pills they're given).
  • Lt. Aldo Raine. He's a Lieutenant, not a Private, but he's still a hick from Maynardville, Tennessee—he even brings up making moonshine at one point.
  • Conrad in Three Kings - "I rigged the football with C-4, sir.". Although later he gains respect for the Iraqi locals, so much so that he requests to be interred by them. Ditto for Walter Wogeman. Who is depicted as even more idiotic and hopelessly incompetent than Conrad is.
  • PFC Forrest Gump in the movie of the same name. Also his buddy Bubba Blue.
    Lieut. Dan: Where' you boys from in The World?
    Gump and Blue: Alabama, sir!
    Dan (amused): You twins?
    Gump (confused): No. We are not relations, sir.
  • Private Cowboy in Full Metal Jacket. Subverted in the book, where they only call him that because of his hat.
  • Pvt. L.Q. Jones from Alabama in the 1955 film Battle Cry. Full of folksy sayings and with the habit of launching into unflattering impersonations of the Drill Sergeant Nasty just as said sergeant enters the room behind him. Tellingly, he never rises from the rank of private over the course of the film.
  • The affable but sex-obsessed Marine Egan in Cornel Wilde's 1967 Pacific war drama Beach Red.
  • The titular character in the Based on a True Story biopic Sergeant York hailed from the very rural (to this day) Fentress County, Tennessee.
  • Somehow makes it into the STAR WARS UNIVERSE of all places in a deleted scene from The Last Jedi. A stormtrooper who recognizes Finn in the elevator speaks with a noticeable drawl. Especially hilarious since the character was played by the British Tom Hardy, so it's possible that he thinks all American soldiers are from the south given the trope's ubiquity in media.

    Folklore 

    Literature 
  • Ripper from The Zone WW 3 novels, who drives everyone mad with his unbelievable stories of his family's misadventures back home in Hicksville. As per this trope he is also a crack shot, but not too bright.
  • The West Virginian uptimers in the 1632 series plays with this. While the Americans are quite intelligent and adaptable contrary to the "stupid hick" stereotype, several are easy-going good natured fellows when they are not blowing things up, at times to the point of giving a Mildly Military impression to some observers.
  • Corporal Opie Dalrymple in Rally Round the Flag, Boys! was a country music star before he was drafted, but being in the Army doesn't stop him from writing new songs or weaken his drawl.
  • Cassandra Kresnov: Breakaway has Captain Reichardt of the Federation starship Mekong, a fellow with a written-out Texas drawl who gives the protagonist some much-needed help at the climax of the book.
  • A Scottish version of this trope appears in the McAuslan stories of George MacDonald Fraser. In a "Highland" regiment composed of soldiers from the big Scottish cities - Glasgow mainly, but followed by Edinburgh and Aberdeen - true Scottish Highlanders are rare and are thought of with a sort of amused acceptance by the streetwise Glaswegians. General opinion on the "teuchters"note  is that they are slow, bucolic, dreamy, and take a good run-up and lots of advance notice to get into the twentieth century. One such is Private McLeod, from the Isle of Skye, generally considered to be away with the fairies in a dream-world of his own - until his sentry skills (honed in looking after sheep on the Island) raise the alarm against a hitherto un-noticed intruder testing their defences. Private McNab, a poacher from Perthshire, is a different sort of "teuchter" to his fellows - his rural cunning is a source of admiration.

    Live Action TV 
  • Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., arguably a light-hearted take on the trope. Gomer was too nice to picture him as a xenophobe, though he is certainly insular.
  • Luther Rizzo from the later seasons of M*A*S*H fits in here, although he's actually a sergeant and doesn't do a lot of shooting or bombing. He hails from Louisiana, is fond of cigars and folksy sayings, and when kids from the orphanage are reluctant to try his Cajun cooking at a Christmas feast, he blames it on them being from North Korea, and the way he says 'North' suggests he's not thinking of Communists.
  • Denver 'Bull' Randleman from Band of Brothers, to a certain degree. The other NCOs tease him for his "folksy wisdom," but when the replacements laugh along, they make it explicitly clear that he is one of the most intelligent men in the company. There's also a random paratrooper from F company that Blithe and Hoobler linked up with who isn't too impressed by Hoobler calling him a yokel.
  • The Pacific: Sid Phillips and Eugene Sledge are from Mobile, Alabama; Merriel "Snafu" Shelton is from Louisiana.
  • A subversion is Finn Abernathy of Bones, who exhibits all of the traits above (especially colloquial speech), but is extremely brilliant, impressing even Brennan.
  • Murder, She Wrote: Sgt. Ray Dressler in "The Final Flight of the Dixie Damsel"; a racist, redneck Cigar Chomper from Texas (played by Clifton Webb who specialised in this type of role).
  • In Star Trek: Discovery, Jason Isaacs uses a slight southern accent to convey that Gabriel Lorca is more "military" than your standard Starfleet Captain.

    Machinima 
  • Sarge from Red vs. Blue fits this trope perfectly. He has the accent, he's loud, almost creepily obsessed with his shotgun and is probably the most mentally unstable out of the regulars, which is saying something.

    Music 
  • Tom Lehrer's "It Makes a Fellow Proud to Be a Soldier", from An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer.
    Our captain has a handicap to cope with, sad to tell.
    He's from Georgia, and he doesn't speak the language very well.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Beetle Bailey had one of these, named "Bammy", in its early years.

    Video Games 
  • Inverted with Dell Conagher, the Engineer from Team Fortress 2. He is referred to as a "good ol' boy" in his profile, but also has eleven PhDs and tends to engage in Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness. Also unlike most "good ol' boys," the Engie is as far from a frontline combatant as a class can be (yes, even the Sniper), as he has the smallest health pool in the game and weapons that are the secondary weapons for other classes - he generally relies on sentry guns to inflict damage.
  • Haggard from Battlefield: Bad Company averts this trope to an extent. One one side, he has a southern accent, is somewhat dumb, has dated a cousin, and he's only in the army because he loves blowing things up. On the other, he welcomes the new guy as easily as the rest of the squad does, is more trusting of the hostage than Sarge is, and merrily hops across a border chasing the same gold the rest of the squad has to persuade itself to chase.
  • In Grand Theft Auto IV, there's a TV show Halo parody called Republican Space Rangers, in which three such characters explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, and nuke them all to hell for being weird and different.
  • Just about anyone with a speaking role in StarCraft, from the main characters of General Edmund Duke, Jim Raynor, and Raynor's buddy Tychus Findlay all the way down to the Terran Marines.
  • Corporal Dunn of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has a southern accent, and is a bit less serious about the Rangers' situation than Foley, at least when not under fire. He also has something of a sarcastic streak and displays some disdain towards General Shephard and his "prima donna unit".
  • A Star Wars version is Smugglers' companion Corso Riggs from Star Wars: The Old Republic. Complete with drawl (yes, "Yee-Haw" is one of his battle cries), old fashioned attitudes towards women, and cheerful enthusiasm towards his collection of weaponry.
  • Private O'Hanrahan, a minor character from Fallout: New Vegas, is one of these. Contrary to stereotypes, he's a Gentle Giant who hates the notion of violence and thinks kindness to others is the best path, believing that squad could work out better if someone could just gave them a good pep talk (he's right). He's also one of the tallest characters in the game as well as one of the stronger minor named NPCs (at 8 Strength, just shy of Super Mutant levels). Unlike others, however, O'Hanrahan is not from the South but rather from the rural parts of New California Republic.
  • The Intellivision WWII game B-17 Bomber has the memetic synthesized voice that speaks in a thick southern accent. Ironically in the game's TV advert, the spokesman has a German accent.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • Wild Bill from G.I. Joe. Several other Joes, like Gung Ho and Thunder, are from the South, but Wild Bill is the only one with a Texan accent and the "folksy sayings". He gets along very well with Roadblock, and is actually pretty intelligent, in a bit of a subversion.
  • In the Futurama episode "Roswell That Ends Well," Fry's would-have-been grandfather is a mild parody of this. Also, in "War is the H-Word" one of the bit characters is one.
    "Fry, you emu-bellied coward!"
  • Although retired, Cotton Hill was obviously one during his army days.
  • When Skinner gets fired and goes back to the Army in The Simpsons, he becomes a drill instructor. When the bus arrives with his new recruits, the first one gets off the bus and asks in a heavy southern accent "Hi, where do I get my grenades at?"


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