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That's an Order!

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You could have phrased that better...
"Here's the beer. Here's the entertainment. Now have fun. That's an order!"
Jean Rasczak, Starship Troopers

A Stock Phrase: Someone in command orders a subordinate to do something, and adds, "That's an order." It may be to overrule objection, such as More Hero than Thou, or to show seriousness. It may be worded differently (for example: "I wasn't asking"), but it's always to make clear that he's in charge and what he says goes.

Often used in jest, when the commander orders the friendly subordinates to do something extremely mundane, like asking for a coffee, or telling them to shut up, and jokingly adds, "That's an order."

May also be worded as "Do you need me to make that an order?" Often paired with a With Due Respect comeback on the subordinate's part.

It may lead to Just Following Orders later on if the subordinate is subsequently asked to justify his actions to others.

Commonly inverted when the situation involves risking the subordinate's life (or career), and the commander says "Now, I won't order you to do this, but..." In this case, the True Companions will invariably carry out the request anyway.


Not to be confused with That Wasn't a Request, which is said by people who have no official command over others but, for the moment, are ordering them around anyway and are about to use force to back up their demand.

Can be Truth in Television in the military, but somewhat rare. This is because technically, anything a lower ranking person is told to do is considered an order, and both people know it.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, Hayate attempts to order Reinforce not to sacrifice herself to save her, ("I'm your mistress! You have to do what I say!"), but Reinforce refuses to comply (saying "People dislike spoiled children. Please be obedient, Mistress" slightly later in the scene).
  • It's practically Ciel's catchphrase to Sebastian in Black Butler.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Roy talks with Armstrong about Hughes' murder, and when Armstrong mentions that the investigators are looking for the "individuals" responsible. Roy asks for clarification, but Armstrong is unable to say more, even when Roy orders him as a superior officer to speak, causing him to realize that people who outrank him are involved.
  • In the Pokémon episode "Snow Way Out", Ash forces his Pokemon, including the established claustrophobe Pikachu, into their Pokeballs so that they don't freeze. They ignore him and try to keep him warm.
  • Rebuild of Evangelion. Major Katsuragi cheerfully points this out when telling Asuka and Shinji that they're now roommates.
  • Dragon Ball GT: After being threatened by Pan and Giru, Dr. Gero orders Super 17 to not finish off Vegeta. In response, Super 17 turns around and annihilates him because, as it turns out, Dr. Myuu had secretly programmed Super 17 to only obey his orders.
  • Shiro to Kuroh in the last episode of the first season of K, when a situation arose where anyone who isn't a King would just get hurt. For a series about the relationships between Kings and their supernaturally-devoted Clansmen, one might expect this to come up more, but it doesn't. If anything, Clansmen order their Kings around more.

    Comic Books 
  • At the end of Marvel Comics' Civil War event, Captain America tells the anti-regs to "Stand down...That's an order."
  • At the end of the Enemy Ace story War in Heaven the head of the maintenance unit, Ubben, proclaims that he will do whatever it takes to keep Von-Hammer and his squadron's Me-262s' flying. Von-Hammer tells him to take the night off, and gives him a wine bottle he salvaged from a downed B-17 bomber and says: "Now go and get drunk Ubben. That's an order."

    Fan Works 
  • Played for angst in the Galaxy Rangers fic "Chrysalis". The Rangers are captured, and the other three believe Zach is dead, leaving Doc in charge. Doc is normally the Deadpan Snarker and wants nothing to do with command. After Niko is taken away and tortured, she is dumped back in the cell, and Doc uses this line on her to try and make sure she doesn't fall asleep and never wake up again.
  • Elemental Chess Trilogy: A Fullmetal Alchemist fic. In "Brilliancy", during a subtly emotional reunion between two military spouses, the higher-ranked one issues the directive "Never leave me again," which is followed with "That's an Order."
  • Happens a couple of times in Tiberium Wars. The first is when Commander Karrde is taking control of the battalion of GDI troops around the Pentagon, and has to verbally browbeat their commanding officer into following his orders. Later, when Nod Commander Rawne ends up at the research facility in Brazil, the local Black Hand general (who outranks him) refuses to take Rawne's advice to evacuate, and when Rawne presses him he emphatically tells him to shut up and take command of the garrison instead of questioning his orders in front of the command staff.
  • A variant borrowed from Firefly in chapter three of the Star Trek Online fic Red Fire, Red Planet, when Brokosh sees the need to reinforce his authority over his ex-gangster Nausicaan ops officer. (Norigom had just mouthed off to a Klingon general.)
    Brokosh: Norigom, you will keep a civil tongue in that mouth when speaking to a superior officer or I will sew it shut. Do we have an understanding between us?
    Norigom: You don’t pay me to talk pretty. Just because—
    Brokosh: NORIGOM!
    Norigom: (meekly) Yes, Captain.
  • A Flower's Touch: Aerith joins SOLDIER, thus finding herself in a chain of command and gets this from time to time.
    • Realizing she has not left the tower for weeks since arriving there, Sephiroth tells her to go see her mother, who she hadn't seen since the time switch, and says he will make it an order if need be.
    • She gets this again when told to go see a therapist.
  • The Night Unfurls:
    • Celestine plays this trope for laughs twice. In hopes of fostering solidarity and support from the nobility, as well as to look for anything suspicious, Celestine orders Kyril, a humanoid Black Knight, to attend a party. It works. She would later pull this off again by asking him whether she has to order him to come to her chambers for tea. It also works.
    • As Kyril and his company arrive in Rad, Kyril orders Indriga to go rendezvous with half-ling commander Shalala, while he and his apprentice hunters will press on towards the central estate to confront Shamuhaza. Indriga responds with a With Due Respect, but Kyril insists that his order would not be questioned ("Was my order unclear?"). To his credit, he clarifies that her courage is noted, but he also wants to mitigate risk amidst the deteriorating situation. He even says "please" when reiterating his order.
  • No stars in sight:
    • Ikharos to Vindica'aur when she objects to his plan to ram the Rancis Olytus into the Locus' Ketch.
      Ikharos: Unless you want to run back to your Empress with your tail between your legs, we stop them here. That is an order. Defy it at your own peril.
    • Happens between Ikharos and Vindica'aur again in Chapter 10 when she wants to immediately go after Agnisia upon learning of her location and voices her discontent with him when he asks her to be patient.
      Ikharos: You mistake me, Val. I am your commander. What I ask of you is no request but an order. I am not pleading for your patience; I am demanding it.
  • From Rocketship Voyager
    Captain Janeway: "Unhand me, you tinpot tarantula—that's an order!"
    The Autodoc: "I should remind you that I am exempt from the Second Law of Robotics in the absence of higher medical authority."
  • Played for Drama in Shell Shock, where the New Meat is forced to kill a defense fleeing enemy soldier under threat of death if she doesn't do it.
  • A comedic variation in the Mass Effect fic The Translation in Blood. Commander Shepard is trying to figure out why a whole bunch of supplies have been diverted to the Normandy SR-2 and eventually goes to her mother, Rear Admiral Hannah Shepard.
    Hannah: Leave it be. I know what's happening. Think of it as a gift, there's nothing malicious behind it. Alright?
    Shepard: (grumbles something unintelligible)
    Hannah: (in her "giving orders" voice) You want to repeat that, soldier?
    Shepard: (snaps to attention) No ma'am. (Beat) Hey, that's cheating.
  • In Yandere Sumia, Cordelia, having killed Sumia in revenge for her murdering Chrom, adopts Chrom and Maribelle's daughter Lucina, and after dying her hair and renaming her Severa, raises her as her own. Years later, Cordelia tells "Severa" to go back in time to prevent Chrom's death, but Severa refuses. Cordelia is not happy.

    Film — Animation 
  • In WALL•E, this is how McCrea is able to get AUTO to crack and tell him the classified Directive A113.
    AUTO: That is classified, Captain. Give me the plant.
    McCrea: What do you mean "Classified?!" You don't keep secrets from the Captain!
    AUTO: [reaching for the plant while McCrea keeps it away] Give me the plant.
    McCrea: Tell me what's classified!
    AUTO: The plant.
    McCrea: [pushes AUTO away] Tell me, AUTO! That's an order!
    [Beat as the two of them stare down each other]
    AUTO:...Aye-aye, sir.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Full Metal Jacket: Said by Cowboy to Animal Mother when Cowboy tells him to wait for the tank and not to try recovering the wounded Marines shot by the sniper, to which Animal Mother responds with a big "fuck you".
  • In Air Force One, the President is being held hostage and can't speak directly to the White House, but has a cell phone hidden in his pocket. He mentions to his captor that even if they wanted to, the F-15s escorting the plane couldn't shoot them down because of the plane's automatic counter-measures. When one of the officers eavesdropping remarks the President can't be suggesting they fire on Air Force One, the Vice-President replies it wasn't a suggestion. It was a direct order from their Commander-In-Chief.
  • Bridget Jones' Diary: As Bridget's boss, Daniel orders Bridget to tell him about girls teaching her French kissing, whether it is true or not.
    Daniel: Tell me about the girls teaching you French kissing.
    Bridget: It wasn't French kissing.
    Daniel: I don't care, make it up. That's an order, Jones.
  • Carry On Constable: Inspector Mills is adamant that his orders, concisely given, are smartly carried out.
    Sergeant Wilkins: Don't you think that we old-timers ought to have a little more patience with the new ones?
    Inspector Mills: Why?! Look, I want a straight answer this time, and that's an order.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Norrington orders Governor Swann to barricade himself in Norrington's office. "That's an order, sir!"
  • Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo: Doolittle says this when making it clear that the volunteers for what became the Doolittle Raid are not to discuss where they're going with anyone.
  • Wing Commander, used by Lieutenant Colonel Devereaux in several versions of the trope phrase.
  • Hitler's final Villainous Breakdown in Downfall begins with him screaming about how Steiner's attack, which he could not carry out because he didn't have enough men, was an order.
  • Gravity. Mission Control warns about the approaching Flechette Storm of space debris, so Kowalski tells Dr Stone to get inside the space shuttle immediately. She says, "Just a second" as she's securing the Hubble equipment, but Kowalski snaps "Not in a second — NOW!"
  • In Star Trek: Insurrection, Picard prepares to go rogue in order to protect the Ba'ku (complete with changing into civvies instead of his Starfleet uniform)—and his senior officers show up, ready to help him.
    Picard: Return to your quarters immediately.
    (nobody moves)
    Picard: That's an order.
    Riker: No uniform, no orders.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness has Scotty refusing to sign for the classified Starfleet torpedoes being loaded onto the Enterprise because, given that he doesn't know what's inside them, they might endanger the ship. Eventually Captain Kirk loses his temper and gives this trope. Scotty responds by threatening to resign. Unfortunately Kirk is not willing to give way and neither is Scotty, so he has to accept his Chief Engineer's resignation.
  • Star Trek: Nemesis has Picard tell Geordi to prepare a site-to-site transport when it becomes clear Shinzon is preparing to use his Fantastic Nuke. Geordi protests, but Picard cuts him off with this trope.
  • Die Hard has a rather facepalm-worthy example from the SWAT commander to his team after the LAPD's armored car gets blasted by a rocket launcher. The uselessness of this is punctuated when Hans orders his men to hit it again.
    SWAT Commander: Hang on, Rivers! That's an order!
  • In Aliens, Ellen Ripley at one point commandeers a vehicle in an effort to rescue the Colonial Marines. Lt. Gorman, their senior officer, orders her to turn back around. A few problems with this: 1) she's a civilian and technically outside his chain of command, and 2) he'd already proven to be hopelessly out of his depth by getting the Marines into their dire situation in the first place. Ripley pointedly ignores him, and fellow civilian Carter Burke eventually forces the lieutenant off of her with a quick comment of, "You've had your chance, Gorman." Later Burke tries to order Corporal Hicks around and finds that as a civilian, he doesn't have any jurisdiction over him either.
  • Black Panther (2018) has a variant. T'Challa goes to Zuri and asks him about N'Jobu's apparent disappearance years ago, but Zuri protests that he made a promise to T'Challa's late father, the previous king, not to say anything. T'Challa then bellows "I AM YOUR KING NOW!", one of the few times he pulls rank, and Zuri tells him the full story.
  • Polar. Blut demands that Vivian hunt down Duncan Vizla, even though Vivian points out it would be wiser to just cut their losses and pay him off.
    Vivian: I'm sick of giving you advice.
    Blut: I'm not asking for advice! I'm giving you a fucking order!
  • The owner’s representative of the company preparing to scrap the Poseidon does this when the captain won’t run the ship at full ahead in The Poseidon Adventure. He says he ordered it and starts talking about his legal right to have the captain relieved of command.
  • Averted in Sputnik when Colonel Semiradov recruits the protagonist, Dr. Tatyana Klimova.
    Klimova: Are you asking me, or is that an order?
    Semiradov: I don't believe in orders. It's in the human nature. Orders are not effective for highly-intelligent people.
  • Battle of the Bulge. During the climactic tank battle, Sergeant Guffy's tank loses its main gun. His commander tells him to get back to the assembly area. Guffy refuses, insisting that he can ram the German tanks. His commander again tells him to retreat, this time adding "That's an order!"
  • Under Ten Flags. A British merchant ship gets surprised by a disguised German raider, but The Captain decides to ram it rather than surrender. However the African crewmen in the engine room panic and flee to the lifeboats, forcing the captain to give the order to Abandon Ship when he realises the situation is hopeless. Of course he has to add That's an Order!, as heroic Brits would never willingly abandon ship like those cowardly Africans!
  • Mostly used in Midway (2019) to end discussion when a subordinate is trying to argue I Can Still Fight!. Said almost word for word from Admiral Nimitz to Admiral Halsey.
    • At one point Mc Cluskey has to override Best when Best wants to keep arguing tactics even as men are climbing into their planes for a mission. Best is proven to be right in the long run (though it was a moot point on that particular mission, they didn't even find the Japanese), but the time for discussion was past.
  • In Independence Day: Capt. Steve Hiller yells this at his subordinate and best friend Jimmy, who has taken his air mask off in the middle of a dogfight with alien fighters. Jimmy is too far gone in gasping panic to obey, and it quickly becomes a moot point when the aliens shoot him down.

  • In one Artemis Fowl book, Root tells Foaly the Insufferable Genius to do something, so Foaly asks whether it's an order. Root says it is, to which Foaly replies that he's not a soldier.
  • Shards of Honor: Bothari is back off his rocker after assassinating Vorrutyer. Cordelia attempts to order him to attention so she can give him a sedative. It doesn't go well.
  • Full Metal Panic!: Tessa tells Sousuke he won't be guarding Kaname any more, as he's needed for an experimental mecha that only he can pilot. When Sousuke starts being difficult, the normally mild Tessa loses control and denounces him for his selfish attitude.
    Tessa: Sagara-san, please understand...
    Sousuke: Is that an order?
    Tessa: Yes it is. If that's what you'll accept, I'll make it an order, or whatever. Even if it means separating you from Kaname-san. [getting angry] You can just take the easy way out, all right? Blame it on me, alright? But I am responsible for the safety of my subordinates! You do realise the enemy's power, don't you? The next time Melissa may die, or Weber-san! Do you know how it feels to be in the captain's chair every time?
  • Honor Harrington has this on an understandably regular basis, but a notable case is when Hamish Alexander illegally orders Honor not to have a duel with a civilian. She knows perfectly well that it's not in his jurisdiction, and moreover, wouldn't especially care at the moment.
  • In the novel The Man (which takes place in the mid-1960s), the first black U.S. president (who took office because of the deaths of the president, vice president and speaker of the House) tells his bigoted general he wants something done. The general makes some lame reply and the president tells him that it wasn't a suggestion but that "I order it, I order it now!"
  • Tom Clancy uses a variation in several of his books. Military characters almost never need to be told twice when given an order. However, several characters with military backgrounds but civilian jobs occasionally deal with career soldiers who outranked them in their previous life. When these high-ranking officers want these civilians to do something, the civilians have their own opinions about it until they are told that if they don't obey, they'll be recalled to active duty, where they'll have to listen. Compliance usually follows quickly.
    • A notable example in Without Remorse: a few years after leaving the Navy, John Clark is contacted by an Admiral about a mission in Vietnam. A group of high-ranking POWs is being held in an area that Clark visited as part of a previous operation, and the Admiral wants his know-how and expertise for planning a rescue attempt. When Clark demurs, obviously reluctant to go back after two previous tours, the Admiral offers him a choice: he can do the job as a civilian contractor with relative freedom, nice pay, and an expense account; or he can be recalled to active duty status with considerably less pay and placed under the iron thumb of military protocol. Either way, he's doing the job.
  • Subverted in Atlas Shrugged, when Mr. Thompson tries to coax John Galt into sacrificing his principles to save the country without giving him orders. Galt twice asks Mr. Thompson if what he's telling him is an order, and Mr. Thompson is quick to insist it's not.
  • Jake does a variant of this once in Animorphs, telling Ax it's an order from his Prince (and a Full-Name Ultimatum) when the Andalite is balking at retreating from a Hopeless Boss Fight again. This emphasizes Jake's aggravation, since he normally tells Ax not to call him Prince.
    <Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill, you call me your prince and act like you mean and I am giving you a direct order. Morph. Do it. Now!>
    • It's also how Tobias gets around his promise to Ax that he won't tell the others that Ax is going off on a suicide mission alone. Sure, he promised Ax that he wouldn't tell Jake. But Jake is his prince. So if Jake *ordered* him to tell the truth...
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • In the first book, King Robert Baratheon orders Eddard Stark to enjoy a cup of wine: "Drink. Your king commands it."
    • A variant occurs when Queen Daenerys Targaryen loses her temper at her advisor Jorah Mormont.
    Jorah: If my queen commands...
    Daenerys: She does. She commands!
  • Overridden in The Atrocity Archive. Bob Howard's line manager Bridget starts grouching at him for being behind on his timesheets or something similarly insignificant, and demands that he tell her what he's been up to, calling the trope name. Bob's actual boss, Angleton, overhears.
    Angleton: Bridget, you don't have clearance. Drop it. That's an order.
  • In the Gor series a slave is supposed to follow any command given by her (or rarely his) master instantly. If she doesn't, whether she is being coy or recalcitrant, the master may say "must a command be repeated?" This is a hint to the slave that you better do it now or else you'll be punished. Masters realize though that sometimes a slave honestly doesn't hear an order or is confused by it, and this can be forgiven.
  • Subverted in The Little Prince. He meets a king who reigns over everything, tolerates no insubordination, but only gives reasonable orders.
    (The Little Prince yawns as he arrives)
    King: It is a breach of etiquette to yawn in a king's presence. I forbid you to do so.
    Little Prince: I can't help it, I'm tired.
    King: Then yawn again, I haven't seen anybody yawn for years. It is an order.
    Little Prince: But I can't do it now. May I sit down?
    King: I order you to sit down.
    Little Prince: May I ask you a question?
    King: I order you to ask me a question.
  • Kel does this occasionally in Protector of the Small, mostly in the last two books. She shuts down an argumentative corporal when she's abruptly made a squad leader by grabbing his shirt in Squire. Usually she delivers it more calmly; when her knight friends (who are also her old classmates) start to argue, she firmly reminds them that she's telling them what to do, not starting a conversation.
  • Bush does this to Hornblower a lot in Lieutenant Hornblower, ordering him to drink water and eat, and getting Buckland to make "get some rest" an order as well because Hornblower habitually neglects all of those things.
  • Shows up in Starship Troopers as well, but in an entirely different context than in the film. When Johnny returns from OCS, he is given all the odd jobs around the battalion, and one of them is being in charge of the library and recreational materials. He insists on doing a physical inventory before signing off on the inventory lists, and when the former odd jobs guy tries to order him to accept them as is, he requests the order be given in writing in triplicate (so he has one copy for himself, one for a court-martial and one to pass up the chain of command.)
  • Raising Steam: Unnerved by a golem horse's un-horselike perfect obedience, Moist orders it to go frolic in a field. It does so, and Vetinari says it later reported to the palace stables saying "give me livery or give me death!".
  • In Darkness of Dragons, royal adviser Qibli is shot by frostbreath and collapses. His queen- who is normally very casual- yells that healers are coming and she's ordering him not to fall unconscious, but it's too late.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In "Bad Girls" Giles has been replaced as Buffy's Watcher by the condescending Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, who discovers that teenage California girls with superpowers don't get the whole obeying orders thing.
    Wesley: Are you not used to being given orders?
    Buffy: Whenever Giles sends me on a mission, he always says 'please'. And afterwards I get a cookie! (Giles tries not to laugh)
  • Mac uses this in CSI: NY twice:
    • The first is to convince a mentally unstable man who believed he was a Marine to secure his rifle. Mac played into the man's delusion and pretended to be the guy's superior giving him an order to "Secure. Your. Weapon!"
    • In a later episode, he orders Danny to stay outside during an arrest because Danny didn’t have a bulletproof vest. Danny disobeys and goees in anyway. He’s able,to talk the suspect, who’s a former coroner and colleague, to surrender, but Mac still isn’t happy that he didn’t listen.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Satan Pit", when science officer Ida is hesitant about coming up from the underground ruins, acting captain Zach retorts "Okay, that was an order."
  • Firefly:
    • Captain Mal wants their medic-on-board Simon to take his crazy sister River for a walk because he needs to do some clandestine business and "she makes things not be smooth". Simon is reluctant to go as they are fugitives and he doesn't want to get caught.
      Simon: Still, I'm not sure it's such a wise suggestion.
      Mal: Might not wanna mistake it for a suggestion.
    • In "Out of Gas", Serenity is damaged and Mal needs his pilot Wash on the bridge. Wash's wife Zoe was seriously hurt in the accident and Wash wants to be with her. Unfortunately, the ship is dead and if Wash and Kaylee don’t figure out why, they could all die.
      Wash: I'm not leaving her side, Mal! Don't ask me again.
      Mal: I wasn't asking. I was telling.
  • Game of Thrones
    • A silent version occurs in Season One. King Robert's son has been bitten by a pet direwolf belonging to one of Ned Stark's daughters. The direwolf flees, so Robert—at Queen Cersei's demand—orders the direwolf belonging to his other daughter killed in surrogate retaliation. Because Ned and Robert are Fire-Forged Friends, Ned blurts out "Is this your command?" Robert just turns and looks at Ned coldly, before walking out.
    • Negatively discussed by Tywin Lannister after becoming Hand of the King to his grandson King Joffrey. He retorts to Joffrey that any king that feels the need to actually say "I am the King!" to get people to do what he wants "is no king at all."
    • In Season 4 someone tries to bribe Tyrion's loyal squire Podrick Payne to betray him. Tyrion realises that having turned down the offer, Pod will be murdered by the conspirators.
      Tyrion: I will not have you die on my behalf, do you hear me?
      Pod: My lord...
      Tyrion: Pod, I'm giving you an order. Go and find my brother, and tell him I need him. And get yourself out of Kings Landing before it's too late. (Pod refuses to look at him) POD! (Pod looks up) This is farewell.
  • Hogan's Heroes:
    • Even Hogan used it at least once - he was about to make a total guess at how to disable a bomb (a wrong guess would detonate it) and had already told his men to get back, but they weren't going to leave him.
    • More in keeping with the comedic tone of the show, he also pulled it on his men when they had to dress up as women (It Makes Sense in Context). To be fair, he dressed up too.
  • An episode of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger has Ahim saying this to keep an injured Gai from getting back up and fighting the Monster of the Week. It's one of the rare moments where we get a peek behind her exterior and start to understand exactly why she of all people is a Space Pirate.
  • M*A*S*H:
    • "Hot Lips and Empty Arms", "House Arrest" and others.
    • "Henry, Please Come Home"
      Burns: Take it out of here; that's an order.
    • Note that use of the phrase, when directed at Hawkeye or Trapper, was no guarantee that the order in question would be heeded.
      Margaret: Frank, give them a direct order!
      Hawkeye: Oh, do, Frank; we've never ignored one of those before.
    • In one episode, Hawkeye and Frank were arguing during triage, over a badly wounded Chinese soldier Hawkeye wanted to treat. They had the following dialogue, directing their words to the corpsmen carrying the soldier on a stretcher:
      Frank: Stay! That's an order!
      Hawkeye: Go! That's a threat!
    • Hawkeye usually followed orders from Colonel Potter, as he had a lot more respect for Potter. One notable time he balked was when Potter ordered him to fire a weapon at an unseen attacker (something he absolutely refused to do for anyone). In the end, he technically did follow the order, by firing into the air to avoid actually hitting anyone—Potter found that acceptable, later admitting that even he was a hopeless shot with it.
      Potter: That was an order, Pierce!
      Hawkeye: Oh, waiter! Take this man's order.
  • NCIS:
    • An exchange from the episode "Masquerade":
      Gibbs: Go. That's an order. Now leave.
      McGee: It's an order I'm disobeying.
    • Tony gets a few of these too, usually at around the time when Tony's frat-boy personality has made the audience forget that he in fact is Gibbs' second-in-command.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Mr. Conklin uses this phrase from time to time.
  • Red Dwarf: Played for laughs, after Rimmer demonstrates his suggestion for a new Space Corps salute to Kochanski.
    Kochanski: Rimmer, have sex with someone, that's an order.
    Rimmer: ... Yes, ma'am.
    Lister: [hands over card] Here. Call this number. Tell them I sent you and that it's an emergency.
  • Rome. Vorenus orders Pullo to return the stolen Roman treasury to Caesar. Pullo is established from his first scene as reckless, brave, undisciplined and impulse driven, so of course he starts bitching again.
    Pullo: Here's me, come to give you a gift and—
    Vorenus: AN ORDER!
    (Pullo stands to attention, terrified)
  • Several episodes of Stargate SG-1 and, more rarely, Stargate Atlantis. Generally only used with civilians (who will occasionally point out that they don't actually have to do what the military leaders tell them to) or with soldiers when being ordered to retreat and/or leave their leader behind. Played most straight in Col. Maybourne's first appearance:
    Gen. Hammond: If you'll step out that door, the Airman outside will show you to your quarters.
    Col. Maybourne: I think I'd prefer to remain here until my mission's complete.
    Gen. Hammond: [with barely constrained fury] That wasn't a suggestion. That was an order, Colonel!
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • In "The Siege", Major Kira is wounded after a crashlanding and orders Jadzia Dax to leave her behind. Dax replies that as Starfleet has temporarily pulled out of Bajor, Kira's no longer her superior officer and so she doesn't have to obey her orders.
    • In the episode "In the Pale Moonlight"
      Sisko: Perhaps I didn't make myself clear, Doctor. This is not a request, it's an order. You will package eighty five litres of biomimetic gel for interstellar transport and deliver them to Cargo Bay 3. Is that understood?
      • Bashir responds with the followup listed in the Truth in Television folder, by requesting that Sisko put the orders in writing and appending his own official protest. Sisko also knows how this works, since he already has his orders in writing on a PADD, which he immediately hands over.
    • Sisko also does this to Nog in "Paradise Lost". Let's just say that he can put the fear of God into any subordinate when he needs to.
      Sisko: Cadet, you seem to be under the mistaken impression that I am asking you for a favor. I want a name, and I want it now, and that is an order! Understood, Mr. Nog?
  • Star Trek: Enterprise has two examples with Archer and T'Pol.
    • Archer and T'Pol are held in a forest prison. When they are given food while bound, Archer digs in, but T'Pol does not. He tells her once to eat something, but she remains still. Archer then uses this trope to make her eat.
  • "Twilight" has Archer tell T'Pol to evacuate the Enterprise, which he is about to self-destruct to cure his chronic short-term amnesia via a Tricked Out Time Reset Button. T'Pol doesn't, and when Archer gives her this trope, she reminds him a second time  that he's long since been relieved of command, even if he has forgotten it actually happening.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
    • "The Mind's Eye" has a memorable one. The audience knows Data has an excellent reason for this, but Worf doesn't:
    Data: Take Commander La Forge into custody immediately.
    Worf: Sir?
    Data: That is an order.
    • Averted in "The Enemy". A Romulan soldier is dying on the Enterprise, and Worf is the only compatible blood donor. However the Romulans and Klingons are hereditary enemies, and Worf refuses to donate his blood. Worf makes it clear to Picard that he would give his blood without question if Picard just ordered him to, but Picard can't bring himself to violate Worf's personal beliefs, even if it's Worf himself giving him the option.
  • Star Trek: Voyager
    • In "Parallax", B'Elanna Torres is in trouble for breaking the nose of Lieutenant Carey. Chakotay orders Tuvok to drop the charges against B'Elanna as he intends to handle it off-the-record. Tuvok obeys the order, but makes it clear he will note the full details in his security log.
    • Played with in "Displaced" with Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres, who were both lieutenants at the time.
      Paris: On your feet, that's an order!
      Torres: You can't give me orders, we're the same rank.
      Paris: I'm a bridge officer, and I have seniority.
      Torres: Yeah, by about two days!
    • B'Elanna gets her revenge when Tom is busted down a rank in "Thirty Days".
      Torres: Rumor has it you're free for dinner.
      Paris: Gee, I don't know. Are you sure you want to be seen associating with an ex-con?
      Torres: My quarters, 0700. That's an order...Ensign.
    • Discussed between Paris and Neelix when they're forced to go on an away mission together in "Parturition".
      Paris: Can I make a suggestion?
      Neelix: You're the commander of this mission. You can make any suggestion you like. And if you make it an order, I'll even have to follow it.
    • Which ends up happening after they crash and Paris tells Neelix that they're ditching the shuttle.
      Neelix: Is that a suggestion or an order?
      Paris: An order!
      Neelix: Yes, sir!
    • But averted in "Coda" where Captain Janeway is experiencing The Many Deaths of You. Janeway has been infected with an incurable Body Horror disease, so the Doctor decides to Mercy Kill her using a Deadly Gas.
      Janeway: Turn it off. That's an order, Doctor!
      Doctor: Please relax and take deep breaths. It will be over more quickly that way.
      Janeway: Computer, delete Emergency Medical Hologram.
      Computer: A security code is required for that command.
      Janeway: Security code Janeway Lambda Three.
      Computer: That code is not recognised.
    • In "The Killing Game", the crew think they're characters in a holodeck simulation of World War 2. Captain Janeway (who's aware of the real situation) is amused when Captain Miller (actually her Number Two Chakotay) uses this trope on her. As her character is a civilian, Janeway just points out that she doesn't have to take his orders.
  • Disney's The Swamp Fox had one of these, with Marion trying to prevent his girlfriend's house being burned down by ordering some of the group, who were members of his militia, to stand down and leave.
  • Skinner tries (and often fails) to do this in The X-Files. Actually lampshaded in the episode "Triangle", in which Skinner orders Mulder to rest after being pulled from the sea. One of Mulder's friends laughs, "Not that he takes orders."
  • For All Mankind
    • The Apollo 11 lunar module has apparently suffered a fatal crashlanding, but the lone astronaut orbiting above in the command module refuses to return to Earth. Wernher von Braun insists they make it an order, but it's pointed out they've no means of enforcing that order on a man who is 200,000 miles away. This is shown in a later episode when Apollo 24 is ordered not to rescue their commander who is adrift in space, but do so anyway even though they risk being stranded in space themselves.
    • Used more effectively when Edward Baldwin insists on staying at the Jamestown Base, instead of returning to Earth and leaving astronaut Ellen Wilson, the only surviving member of his relief team, alone up there. Knowing Ed is a navy pilot, Ellen successfully invokes this trope, as she is now the commander of Jamestown Base and has just relieved Ed of his duties.

    Professional Wrestling 

  • In Knickerbocker Holiday, Schermerhorn, the town marshal, tells Brom he will go to jail, without giving him a reason because no law can be found to hang him with. Brom asks Schermerhorn whether he is giving him an order, and Schermerhorn tries again: "Vill you go to jail? Please?" Brom doesn't take that as an order.
  • Hamilton, after the duel between John Laurents and Charles Lee, an angry Washington tells Hamilton, "Go home! That is an order from your commander!" Gets a Call-Back in Act 2 when as President he tells Hamilton to resolve his argument with Jefferson, adding, "That is an order from your commander!"

    Video Games 
  • Halo: Combat Evolved: In the level "Keyes", Captain Keyes tries to order the Master Chief to not rescue him, since the former has been infected by the Flood; Chief doesn't listen, since he needs Keyes's command neural interface to blow up the Pillar of Autumn and thus destroy Halo.
  • God Eater: Used a few times by Lindow Amamiya to cement his rule of "Don't die." Later used by him, after transforming into Corrosive Hannibal, telling his comrades to run away so that he can end his own life. The (normally) silent protagonist then throws it back in his face before Dual Wielding Lindow's God Arc along with his/her own and ripping the Corrosive Hannibal's mouth open.
    Protagonist: Don't run away! Don't run away from living! THAT'S AN ORDER!
  • From Deus Ex: "You'll behave like a professional, that's an order." (Usually said in response to you tossing potted plants at your boss.)
  • In Modern Warfare 2, General Shepherd says this to Price while telling him to stand down, when the latter shows him his plan to hijack a Russian nuclear missile sub.
  • Metroid Fusion, as Adam orders Samus to destroy SR-338: "Move quickly, and stay alive. That's an order! Any objections, lady?"
  • Metal Gear, as Snake approaches the lair of the Metal Gear: "Solid Snake! The operation is cancelled! Return at once. That's an order!! Cut power to the MSX!! ...Over."
  • L.A. Noire has Phelps use this In his final WWII Flash Back when he orders his platoon to put the burning Japanese civilians out of their misery.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, the Clock Town postman wants to evacuate Clock Town due to the falling moon, but can't because "Tomorrow's delivery is still scheduled!" The only way to let him flee is to let him deliver the Special Delivery to Mama to Madame Aroma, the postmistress, who says, "Thank you. You flee now. That's an order!"
  • In Fire Emblem Fates, on the Conquest path, Xander says this to the Avatar when ordering him/her to escape while he and the others hold off the horde of attacking Faceless.
    Xander: I won't say it again, little prince/ss. As the crown prince of Nohr, my word is law.
  • Resident Evil 6: A heartbreaking example occurs at the end of Chris' campaign. The infected Piers shoves Chris into the escape pod and quickly shuts the door so he can escape alone. Chris, being Piers' captain, goes "Piers, open the goddamn door! That's an order!", but Piers refuses, knowing that the infection will eventually spread beyond his arm and make him lose his humanity.
  • Murder in the Alps: When Anna Myers and Ulli Reiter reach the Knef Gallery to rescue Iris Knef from the Dada Killer in the climax of The Dada Killer, the constable uses this line to make Anna wait outside for backup while he goes inside. She defies the order when she gets worried and enters to find Ulli knocked unconscious and Iris at the mercy of the Dada Killer.


    Western Animation 
  • Papa Smurf - of all people - gave Smurfette an order this way during The Smurfs' Springtime Special; she wanted to help him rescue their pet duck, but seeing as that required getting past Balthazar (who had a musket) he was rather insistent that they hold back while he did it alone.
  • Vakama Hordika to his Visorak army in BIONICLE 3, after they hesitate to disband.
  • Birdman (1967) episode "Vulturo, Prince of Darkness". After Birdman has been defeated by Vulturo he orders his eagle Sidekick Avenger to leave him and try to save some people nearby. When Avenger is reluctant to abandon him, Birdman makes it an order.
  • Futurama: The only reason Zapp Brannigan's Beleaguered Assistant Kif does anything Zapp says is because of this trope. It is so heavily ingrained that, in the episode where they both lose their jobs, Kif still obeys him out of habit.
    Zapp: It's time to begin our lives as civilians.
    (Zapp walks off while Kif stays where he is)
    Zapp: That's an order, soldier!
  • Jonny Quest episode "Terror Island". Race Bannon orders the boys to take the bulldozer down to the dock where they'll be safe. They disobey him and ram the building the others are trapped in, saving them from being eaten by giant monsters.
  • This happens in an episode of Adventures of the Gummi Bears ("Lower the drawbridge! That is a royal command!")
  • Spongebob Squarepants: Mr. Krabs sometimes tells his employees that something is an order.
  • The New Adventures of Superman episode "The Force Phantom". The "force creature" attacking Superman is powered by a generator on the Deimosian ship. The Deimosian captain orders that the generator be turned up to deliver more power. When his lieutenant objects the captain says "That is an order!"
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Commander Zhao is requesting use of the Yu Yan Archers, an elite Fire Nation sniper unit, to capture the Avatar, but their commander is stonewalling him, claiming that the archers are too valuable to send after just one person. Cue the arrival of a messenger hawk with a letter for Zhao...
    Zhao: It appears I've been promoted to Admiral. My request is now an order.
  • 1973/74 Superfriends episode "The Power Pirate". When the cruise ship Queen Victoria is in danger of washing up on the rocks Aquaman signals them to drop anchor. The captain orders that the anchors be dropped and his subordinate says that they'll never hold. The captain says firmly "That's an order!"
  • Nightwing and Robin in the first episode of Young Justice: Invasion.
    Nightwing: Just don't die, okay? And no unnecessary risks to the squad. That's an order.
  • One episode of Sky Dancers has this overlap with That Wasn't a Request. Skyclone has disguised himself as King Skyler (who had sacrificed himself in order to take away Skyclone's right of flight). At one point "Skyler" asks "his" wife Queen Skylanote  to bring him the Sky Swirl Stonenote . However, the Sky Dancers have their suspicions about "Skyler" and try to voice their concerns, only for Skyla to take out her personal feelings on them, and to tell them to personally deliver the stone to him.
    Skyla: That is a command, not a request!
  • Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines: As commander of the Vulture Squadron, Dick Dastardly usually employs the line. Muttley follows it grudgingly; Zilly follows it with great hesitation.
  • Transformers: Animated: Back in the early days of his command, when his crew members were prone to disobeying orders, Optimus Prime would often use this phrase to get them to follow - to varying degrees of success.
  • Looney Tunes: In "Horse Hare," Bugs Bunny is a Cavalry private reporting to his commander:
    Commander: Private Bugs, I'm taking my men out on a mission. Do you think you can handle the fort by yourself?
    Bugs: Yes sir, sir. Is that an order?
    Commander: Yes, that's an order.
    Bugs: Yes sir, sir.

    Real Life 
  • A suggested inversion: Given that Just Following Orders is expressly not a legal defense for unlawful actions committed by military personnel, a soldier told to do something morally questionable or objectionable might ask if that was an order, to give the officer a chance to reconsider or pass it off as a joke or misunderstanding and drop the matter. Another recommended response is to insist on having orders in writing, so the officer is forced to link himself directly to the controversial order as well, either motivating him to drop the matter, or at the very least ensure he gets punished along with his subordinate for any crimes this order may require to be committed.