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The Neidermeyer

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Neidermeyer: What's that on your chest, mister?
Flounder: It's a pledge pin, sir.
Neidermeyer: A PPPLEDGE PPPIN?! On your UNIFORM?! Just tell me, mister, what fraternity would pledge a man like you?
Flounder: It's a Delta pin, sir.
Neidermeyer: You'll report to the stable tonight and every night at 1900 hours, AND WITHOUT THAT PLEDGE PIN! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?! [...] You're all worthless and weak! Now drop and give me twenty!

The military equivalent of the Sadist Teacher.

A commanding officer with zero respect for his troops, and probably plenty for himself. He clearly, and often egregiously, displays incompetence, cowardice, inexperience, willingness to sacrifice his men for his own glory while keeping himself safely out of harm's way, an obsessive desire to get promoted, or is just a psychotic-level hardass. As a result, his authority is resented by the men in the trenches, and his orders are only obeyed because chain-of-command says so.

In more upbeat war shows, he's usually forced to learn An Aesop about his awful command style and adjust his behavior in a way that either changes him into a likable officer or results in his resignation, demotion, or transfer to a more suitable post. In these cases, this character is portrayed sympathetically.

In more cynical war movies, there will be no escape from this petty and obnoxious brute, and the men simply grouse and wait for the day someone on the opposing side will get lucky and catch him in the crosshairs. In some cases, he'll usually be the villain of the story. The troops might even conspire to frag him themselves if they get tired of waiting for the enemy to do the job.

If he is too tough to frag, though, the (un)lucky survivor of his tirades will become either a Yes-Man with no more backbone than he started off with, with a sense of "loyalty" to him, or The Dragon who seeks to become his successor when he dies/moves on. In a best-case scenario, the successor may show much competence and merely view the man as a Cynical Mentor or Drill Sergeant Nasty, but not always. In this case, the other troops will remain as spiteful as ever, but find that the converted will easily take care of any sort of mutiny they try to pull off.

A Drill Sergeant Nasty just acts like one, with the purpose of turning recruits into soldiers. A Sergeant Rock may act like one but is nonetheless held in high regard because he wouldn't put his men through anything he wouldn't go through himself. The Neidermeyer may believe he is either or both.

If he's a crusty, tough-as-nails long-term veteran commanding officer who has lost touch with reality and is filled with irrational hatred and paranoia against a specific foe, he's a General Ripper.

See also Miles Gloriosus for a broader application of this trope.

This trope goes often goes hand in hand with The Peter Principle: the leader has simply advanced or been promoted to a level too high for his capabilities.

Also goes hand in hand with Weakness Is Just a State of Mind, where the leader thinks that someone's lack of drive is a deliberate decision, rather than a medical problem or depletion of strength.

The polar opposite of this trope is "A Father to His Men" (into which the Neidermeyer may well evolve). There is also the Veteran Instructor, an instructor who has distinguished himself in battle and now is teaching new recruits, fully cognizant and respectful of the realities of war and training, which typically earns considerable respect from his trainees. In many cases, a General Failure is basically a Neidermeyer with greater rank and thus even more scope for causing damage. If the Neidermeyer is a temporary replacement for the usual Reasonable Authority Figure, it may also be a Tyrant Takes the Helm story. The Sister Trope - a low-ranking leader, such as a non-commissioned officer, lacking in authority or hated by his men is Gung Holier Than Thou.

Named after the infamous blowhard ROTC commander Doug Neidermeyer from the movie Animal House.

Fun fact: "Neider" in German means "Envier", making Neidermeyer's name a Meaningful Name.

Completely unrelated to the founding editor of Or the Hockey Hall of Famer.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Miwa Sakimori from Daimos is this, and a General Ripper. He mostly hides behind his soldiers or Daimos itself from danger. And when opportunity presents itself, he'll show his extreme racist tendencies by shooting actually harmless Brahmins. And all that's in his mind is... well, you guessed it, promotions.
  • Brigadier General Fessler from Fullmetal Alchemist might have set a record in shortest time between showing up and being offed by his own troops: a few pages, or a few minutes in-story time. In his few pages of life, his only plan of attack in a guerrilla war is to charge, he only thinks of glory for himself, and when the enemy attempts to surrender he refuses, at which point a very different commander archetype, Colonel Basque Grand has had enough and shoots him at point-blank range so that he can take command. Maes Hughes' immediate reaction is to deem the shot a stray bullet, and everyone agrees (no planning was involved).
  • Isen Ryer in Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team is one of these - he spends his entire time suspecting Shiro Amada of betraying the Federation and sends a GM Sniper on him when he finally deserts; has a We Have Reserves mentality towards his troops, going so far as use his own men to detonate their own Mobile Suits to destroy a Zeon base and thinks nothing but the idea of being promoted.
  • One Piece:
    • Ax-Hand Morgan gives Luffy an extra reason to kick some ass by executing dissenters and making everything about himself while abusing his authority. You even find out later the only reason he was promoted to a position of authority was because of Kuro's Batman Gambit which involved hypnotizing Morgan and everyone else into thinking he captured the notorious Captain Kuro.
    • Spandam can be considered one. He is too inept for his position, only cares about his own career, and not about whom he will sacrifice to be seen as a hero. That extends to his own subordinates.
  • Sergeant Keroro is a cowardly, lazy, egotistical Manchild who'd rather play with toys all day than actually do his job and conquer the planet. But nobody except Giroro hates him for this.
  • General Colbert from Tekkaman Blade is also a real piece of work. Much like Miwa, he too is a racist (so much so he works with Murata Azrael in both Super Robot Wars Judgment AND W), treats The Hero like a traitorous piece of filth even though he's the most effective means of defeating the Radam. Add in the fact he's also a pretty shameless General Ripper as well, and you've got a total asshole of a Neidermeyer as a result.
  • Itsuki Marude from Tokyo Ghoul is established as a loud-mouthed Jerkass primarily interested in making himself look good. Everything points towards him being this, until he's actually out in the field as Commander — when his troops are pinned down by a sniper, he berates several for not doing anything. Then he snatches a rifle from one and takes the sniper out with a single shot. For the rest of the operation, he proves to be a skilled commander concerned about the well-being of his men. He's still an over-bearing, self-important asshole, though.
  • Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid: Charlotte is second in authority only to Akira and is this trope to a ridiculous degree. Taking every possible opportunity to Kick the Dog, resorting to violence and murder for every little thing... Akira of all people really should have found a more mentally stable person to be in Charlotte's position.

    Comic Books 
  • Combat Kelly and his Deadly Dozen: In a Crossover with Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos, Captain Conner, the martinet son of a general, is given command of both the Deadly Dozen and the Howling Commandos. He cracks under the strain of facing real combat for the first, and his indecision nearly gets both the Dozen and the Howlers killed, forcing Fury to relieve him of command.
  • In the original Creature Commandos stories, Lt. Matthew Shrieve is a lot like this, though he's very much a competent soldier. He's cruel towards the "monsters" under his authority, whom he finds disgusting. He's even described them as an affront to God; the feeling is all too mutual.
  • In the Golden Age MAD feature "Sheik of Araby!", Sergeant Guillotine disciplines his troops with Comedic Sociopathy and forces them to keep fighting when they get seriously wounded:
    Soldat: Serjeant! I 'ave a bullet hole between mine eyes! May I seek le first aid?
    Sergeant Guillotine (Pistol-Whipping him): Slackair! Eet ees a superficial wound! Back to ze fight!
  • Perhaps not surprisingly, an issue of Garth Ennis's Preacher features two examples of these. One is an incompetent lieutenant who gets a VietCong bullet when he's dumb enough to wear his officer's stripes bars while on patrol, and the other is a jerkass sergeant who Jesse's father and Spaceman kill after he gets one of their friends killed.
  • Major Magnam from the Rogue Trooper story of the same name; his domineering, arrogant personality and contempt for regular soldiers lead to a Souther squad being slaughtered when they try to take a very well-fortified Nort installation. Rogue ends up sticking his biochip into a special containment device and keeping the gun on which it had been stored.
  • In the Elseworlds mini-series Superman & Batman: Generations by John Byrne, Superman's powerless son Joel Kent becomes this sort of officer and is shot by his own men in Vietnam.
  • Battle's classic World War I story Charley's War has several examples:
    • Most officers tend to fall under this category, but the worst of all the Lieutenant Snell. He actually makes Charley wait until he's had his tea before reading the message Charley had risked his life to bring him, asking for support for his overwhelmed comrades. This is just after knocking Charley out and using him as a human shield. To him, soldiers are simply expendable and the war is just a sport with him holding a Bodycount Competition with other officers while they shoot wounded Germans during ceasefires. He even gets Charley's unit wiped out on the final day of the war in one last, pointless push that finally resulted in his death after being corroded by an acid sprayer. Mills considers him the Big Bad of the strip.
    • Lieutenant "Monkey Face" Volmar is Blue's hated commanding officer in the Legion, who—according to Blue—tend to punish his soldiers for disobeying his orders even if they are often inflexible and futile to achieve. He develops a deep personal hatred towards Blue and their coming to blows is what leads Blue to desert. Not that the French officer corp was better since they sent in a group of untrained Sengelese soldiers to the front as part of the "test" to see their performance in trench warfare, which their lack of knowledge in dealing with machine guns nearly got them annihilated.
    • Sergeant Bacon is an NCO example. As a military police NCO, he makes the lives of Charley, Ginger and Weeper hell when they get temporary respite from the trenches back at the camp. He is in charge of administering "Field Punishment No.1", which involves drilling soldiers at high speed in full kit, lugging rocks over and back and lashing them to the wheels of artillery pieces for up to two hours a day. He also arranges "parties", which is basically tying the offending soldier to a tent pole and administering a beating. He's also a coward, with the implication that he joined the Military Police to avoid being sent to the front.
    • The Scholar is a milder example in that he started out as a regular Tommy and got recommended to go on an officers' training course. When he returns, he shows his inexperience and is pompous around Charley.
    • Most of the training staff at Etaples are horrible individuals, who take sadistic pleasure in putting experienced soldiers through Training from Hell to the point where the entire camp mutinies.

    Comic Strips 
  • Sergeant Snorkel in Beetle Bailey, but far more so Lt. Fuzz. Whenever he gets the opportunity to command troops. Snorkel's men do respect him as a soldier - they just really don't want to be soldiers, and are rarely seen in the field (which for the strip means war games and exercises) where this becomes apparent. Fuzz tries to copy Snorkel's treatment of subordinates and adds in his complete incompetence and desperation for recognition.
    • Mort Walker admitted that he based Lt. Fuzz on himself as a young officer, who was obsessed with doing absolutely everything by the book.
  • Colonel G. Armageddon Fluster of the 6 7/8 Cavalry in Comic Strip/Tumbleweeds.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): In this Godzilla MonsterVerse fanfiction, Alan Jonah doesn't start out as this but he quickly ends up this way as his Sanity Slippage progresses. Two of Jonah's soldiers are outraged that Jonah doesn't even think about his men's welfare when refusing to get them away from the severed Ghidorah head's Brown Note, and once Jonah's Tested on Humans is exposed, one of the Mook Lieutenants is blinded by rage, whilst another of Jonah's troops doesn't need much further prompting before she pulls a Screw This, I'm Outta Here.
  • The Secret Return of Alex Mack: Colonel Leonetti of the Italian Army totally mishandles the silicates situation, dismisses Terawatt, ignores advice from everyone else who has actual experience, relies instead on Five Rounds Rapid, and gets his own men eaten. Alex promptly dubs him "Colonel Stupidetti" for it and makes sure he isn't responsible for any more supervillain situations.
  • Tarkin's Fist: The Imperial High Command is riddled with these. Convinced by their experiences in the Clone Wars that conquering a technologically inferior faction like the Earth will be an easy affair, the Imperial High Command finds itself totally unprepared for the protracted meat grinder the planet turns out to be. They largely prove unable to adapt, pushing the Imperial Army on Earth to the brink of mutiny. Imperial Commissars appointed by Theater Commander Vulnert Seco prove so incompetent and wasteful that they manage to drive the clones under their command into open desertion during the invasion of New Zealand.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Adventure in Sahara, Captain Savatt is a martinet who lives to make the life of the men under command hell. His punishments include making one soldier stand watch on the walls of the fort for two days straight; without relief and without food or water. The soldier goes blind and falls from the wall to his death. His cruelty eventually lead the legionnaires to stage a mutiny.
  • Lt. Gorman in Aliens certainly qualifies for this, due to his relative inexperience, General Failure at managing the alien attack, rear-echelon tactics and the resulting lack of respect from his troops. However, this is subverted later in the story in that he tries to apologise for being a bad officer, has no trouble submitting command to a more experienced and competent subordinate, and shows great personal bravery, even attempting to save the Marine who despised him the most.
  • Corporal Himmelstoss from All Quiet on the Western Front. He bullies Paul Baümer's squad during basic training; in retaliation, they ambush him, put a sack over his head, and beat him bloody. Himmelstoss later is transferred to the front himself, after, depending on the adaptation, "nearly killing a squad of rookies on the muddy field" or maltreating a recruit whose father turned out to have too much influence. He at first performs badly and chickens out of a charge, much to Paul Bäumer's disgust, but when an officer orders him to advance, Himmelstoss charges wildly. His eventual fate varies by adaptation. In the novel, he makes up with his former victims and while acting as substitute company cook sees to it they get good food. In the 1930 film, he is killed when following orders to advance. In the 1979 TV film, he receives an Iron Cross from Kaiser Wilhelm II for his perceived heroics on the battlefield.
  • The Trope Namer is the blowhard ROTC commander Douglas C. Neidermeyer from Animal House. The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue reveals that he ended up being shot by his own troops in Vietnam. In the John Landis-directed segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie, we even meet the soldiers who shot him.
  • Babylon 5: In the Beginning: General Lefcourt approaches Commander John Sheridan to be the first officer to Captain Michael Jankowski. Sheridan refuses, stating that Jankowski is a loose cannon and referencing how so many of his peers think Jankowski an incompetent risk-taker. In a twist, it is revealed that Hague knew this all along and wants Sheridan to take the job since he needs someone competent to keep Jankowski in line. Soon after, Jankowski is present at first contact with the Minbari when they decide to exterminate humanity. Surprisingly, this is not his fault.
  • Deconstructed in The Bounty by Lt. William Bligh. He's an unpleasant, surly man whose crew regards him with contempt, and he makes a few questionable decisions. He's mostly concerned with accomplishing The Bounty's mission with maximum efficiency, and alienates Fletcher Christian with his seeming disregard for them. However, he's actually quite lenient to his crew by the standards of his time and only starts becoming truly nasty when they become actively insubordinate after circumstances force them to take extended shore leave in Tahiti. He's ultimately mutinied against not because of anything he did personally, but because his crew simply don't want to be sailors any more.
  • Lt. Col Brett C. Shelton, his second-in-command Major Ellis and the headmaster Colonel Cochran in Child's Play 3.
  • Oberleutnant von Nogay from C.K. dezerterzy. Loudmouthed, abusive, and cruel. When his commanding officer, Major Wagner, chews him out for brutalizing the soldiers, von Nogay goes as far as to threaten him.
  • Captain Ramsey in Crimson Tide is an enormous jerk to his entire crew aboard the SSBN under his command. When informed by his XO, Lt. Commander Hunter that crew morale is low and that they might need some words of encouragement from their beloved captain, Ramsey takes the opportunity to chew them all out over the intercom for being lazy and feckless. Later, Ramsey goes into full-blown General Ripper mode when he is convinced that his orders to fire the missiles have not been countermanded, despite a cutoff in communications right when the counter-order is sent. He is even ready to start shooting officers when most of the crew mutinies to avert a nuclear apocalypse.
  • Day of the Dead (1985): Rhodes is this trope to an almost ridiculous degree. Constantly screaming at everyone around, attempting to take control of every situation by force, ordering his men to kill people for minor offenses... they really should have found someone more mentally stable to be in his position. Granted, his command has really only just started as the film opens. As at least one of the COs above him (Commander Cooper) has just died.
  • In The Dirty Dozen, Wladislaw is in prison awaiting execution for shooting his commanding officer, who, according to Wladislaw, was absconding over the hill with all of his unit's medical supplies.
  • Down Periscope:
    • Rear Admiral Graham, the admiral in charge of the wargame, is only concerned with his career and his idea of what the US Navy should be like. He specifically assigned Lt Cdr. Dodge a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits crew, all of them he personally selected for being rejects from his "perfect Navy" (although one of them is put on the Stingray because he's too good at his job). He pulls rank on the commander of the Orlando and then orders Knox's men around like a bunch of recruits, smugly claiming that "the Admiral has the con". He's also a Straw Hypocrite, as he himself cheats his way through war games in order to improve his standing but feels completely justified in that (even though the whole point of this particular exercise is to explore the potential vulnerability of the Navy to an unorthodox terrorist with an old diesel sub).
    • Dodge's assigned executive officer, Lt. Marty Pascal (Rob Schneider), is a maniacally uptight Commander Contrarian who is openly contemptuous of both Dodge, his commanding officer, and the rest of the Stingray's crew and is primarily concerned with how being associated with them will affect his career. While he raises some valid concerns (especially regarding the slovenly cook's poor hygiene), Pascal's obnoxious pedantry for the rules and highly confrontational attitude quickly alienate him from the rest of the crew. When Dodge, sick of Graham modifying the wargame's parameters to hinder him, elects to follow his higher orders and ignore them, Pascal flips out and tries to stage a spontaneous mutiny against Dodge... and when no one will support him, he's promptly given his comeuppance in true pirate fashion: being forced to Walk the Plank overboard into the net of a fishing ship that's agreed to take him back to base.
  • Colonel Pitts in The Eagle Has Landed. Piqued at being ordered back to the US (he is considered too inexperienced to participate in D-Day) he launches an attack on the church where the German Fallschirmjager (paratroops) are holed up without doing a proper recon, completely missing the germans hidden at various points in the village and wiping out his entire platoon; to top it all he gets killed by Joanna Grey while trying to kill her with a grenade; since they were played by Larry Hagman and Jean Marsh respectively this spawned a thousand t-shirts saying "Rose (from Upstairs Downstairs) Shot J.R! (from Dallas)"
  • Lieutenant Colonel Owen Thursday in Fort Apache (modeled on the real-life George Armstrong Custer) is an arrogant martinet to his own men; out of class snobbishness, obstructs the path of True Love between his daughter and a young lieutenant because the latter is the son of an Irish noncom; sees war as a path to personal glory; provokes a conflict with the Apaches that better diplomacy could have avoided; and, worst of all, gets most of his regiment slaughtered through tactical incompetence and stubborn refusal to listen to Captain Yorke, who knows the Apaches much better. For all of that, Yorke credits him with improving the quality of the regiment through his strict discipline.
  • Lt. Monroe, the quartermaster at Navrin Field in Fortress, is an asshole in every possible way. Luckily he's only in charge of the supply depot.
  • Captain Jae-oh in the 2011 The Korean War film The Front Line. He doesn't fare better than the officer he replaced by not listening to valuable advice of the more experienced non-coms, threatening subordinates at gunpoint for not listening to orders, and making terrible tactical decisions as a result. He finally crosses the line when he chooses to hold the line as ordered to by the higher-ups, essentially ordering his men to their deaths. It's no wonder he ends up with the exact same fate as the previous captain.
  • Two in Hornets' Nest:
    • Colonel Jannings, who smugly says that the Della Norte Dam that the Americans want to destroy is impregnable, over the objections of Wehrmacht officer Captain von Hecht. He insists further their "obvious" target is the Grimaldi Tunnel. Surprise, surprise, the dam is in von Hecht's district, while the tunnel is in Jannings'. Although never said outright, Jannings appears to be attempting to discredit the outspoken, anti-Nazi (or at least anti-SS) von Hecht and wrest control from a defanged Wehrmacht by insisting resources and men be sent to him, not von Hecht. We never do get to see what his reaction is when he's told the dam got blown up, sadly.
    • Major Taussig, one of Jannings' subordinates. Like his superior, practically everything goes in one ear and out the other, and even when actual evidence comes up, he ignores it if clashes with what he previously believed. Von Hecht ends up growing tired of his stubbornness and lack of foresight, and just plain frags him, 'Nam style.
  • The MP sergeant in The Inglorious Bastards. All he has to do is transport the Bastards to a prison, but he has to be an arrogant and abusive jerk about it. When some of the prisoners attempt to escape during a German air raid, the sergeant shoots them in the back. Tellingly, when the prisoners turn the tables on their captors, the sergeant is one of the only ones they kill.
  • Major Erich Kaempffer in The Keep. He's a ruthless, narrow-minded bully, even by the standards of the insanely brutal SS Einsatzkommando. When German soldiers begin dying under mysterious circumstances, Kaempffer is sent to handle what the SS believes to be the work of La Résistance. His first act on arriving is to have three people shot for unclear reasons, take over from the more experienced Captain Woermann and generally ignore everything he says. Bizarrely, after being led to believe Glaeken can be useful to him in discovering the identity of the keep's owner(s) when Glaeken resists arrest, kills an SS soldier, and is then shot and seemingly killed himself, Kaempffer not only doesn't care about his dead man but also doesn't seem to realize that the one (as far as he knew) probable link to finding out what he so desperately wanted to know just got shot off of a cliff.
  • Kong: Skull Island: Lieutenant Colonel Packard by the end. While he seems to be A Father to His Men, he has no problem with putting his obsession to kill Kong over the safety of whoever remains in his group. His men in turn are at first loyal to him, but once they realize just how far off the deep end Packard has gone and Slivko is the first one to mutiny, Packard loses all command over them.
  • Lt. Ito and Capt. Tanida from Letters from Iwo Jima, though if anything they're mild examples of what the real Imperial Japanese Military was like.
  • Col. Owen Devereaux in The Man from Colorado is regarded by his troops as a terrible martinet. (This is actually another manifestation of the Sanity Slippage that is turning him into a Blood Knight.) It is best demonstrated by his arresting Sgt. Jericho Howard for dereliction of duty for drinking instead of being on sentry the day the war ended!
  • Major Payne has Cadet-Sergeant Dotson. A mediocre-at-best troop leader who does nothing but kiss up to the Major in charge, talk down to his fellow cadets, and look out for his own interests. When it becomes clear Payne is not impressed by him and treats him as badly as the others, he quickly begins confiding alongside them to bring Payne down and has no problem whatsoever letting Stone own up to all responsibility for their antics, and when Stone is punished by being made the new Cadet-Sergeant Dotson calls it quits and whines to his dad to get transfered to a new school. He appears in the finale on Stapleton's team, the school that always wins, cheats in the footrace against Stone by kicking him in the ankle hard enough to put Stone out of commission, gets punched in the beezer by Williams for it, and his team ultimately loses when Tiger does an impressive job leading their final parade in lieu of Stone.
  • General Thunderbolt Ross from the Marvel Cinematic Universe is one too, only caring about preserving his military career and even viewed with disdain for his disgraceful actions by fellow military members who are also superheroes Captain America, The Falcon and War Machine.
  • My Way: Pretty much every single commanding officer Jun-shik follows.
    • Colonel Tatsuo forms suicide squads from his garrison and in the face of a hopeless battle against Soviet tanks, refuses to call retreat for the remnant of the Japanese forces.
    • A Russian Commissar sends a group of POW conscripts into a kill zone of the German forces, also shooting anyone who tries to retreat.
    • At D-Day, a German officer locks Jun-Shik and Tatsuo in a room with two machine guns, forcing them to fight off the American landing.
  • In Paths of Glory, General Mireau sends a division on a suicide mission to attack a heavily fortified German position just for the possibility of getting himself a promotion. After the attack fails, he blames the soldiers and orders random soldiers from the division to be executed for cowardice.
  • Lieutenant Wolfe in Platoon, the leader of the titular platoon. An incompetent coward who is unable to control his own soldiers, he lets Sergeants Elias and Barnes do as they like (and the only order he gives is to burn down the village). US Army leadership classes have used Wolfe as an example of how a junior officer should not behave.
  • Captain Harris in the Police Academy series. Like many other examples on this page, his heart only beats for the thought of a promotion and a chance to fire, or failing that, humiliate the meddlin' upshoots as well as he can. This being a humorous series, he always ends up humiliated himself.
  • Lieutenant Pavlov Dill in Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation was one of these, though he's more incompetent than mean. He's also basically The Political Officer in the unit, which makes his soldiers detest him even more. Dax is quick to call him a coward who hides behind rhetoric. Although, when Sahara confides in him about her psychic visions, he tries to help her as best he can.
  • Star Wars has General Armitage Hux. A sneaky man who is not loyal to anyone but himself, he doesn't care about the lives of his subordinates and is barely more competent than his rival, Kylo Ren.
  • Captain Stillman from Stripes. An example of his incompetence: he orders a mortar to be fired while it is still being targeted, so there is no idea whatsoever where it will go. It ends up being fired at Sergeant Hulka's squad.
  • Lt. Col. Tall (Nick Nolte) in The Thin Red Line. He has veins in his teeth. Partly subverted in that he secretly has a low opinion of himself... and his tactics work.
    Staros: We had a man, gut shot out, on the slope, sir. It created quite an upset.
    Tall: Fine! Fine! Now what about those reinforcements!
    Staros: My company alone cannot take that position, sir.
    Tall: You're not going to take your men into the jungle to avoid a god damned fight. Now do you hear me, Staros! I want you to attack. I want you to attack right now with every man at your disposal. Now attack, Staros!

    Tall: It's never necessary to tell me that you think I'm right. We'll just... assume it.

    Staros: We need some water... the men are passing out.
    Tall: The only time you should start worrying about a soldier is when they stop bitchin'.
  • Played with in What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? Captain Lionel Cash has a stick up his butt from the moment he appears onscreen, demanding instant respect and threatening subordinates with demotion at the drop of a hat. He eventually gets better after learning how to unwind, but overnight things pretty much devolve into anarchy without him enforcing the rules, creating huge problems involving an arriving American intelligence officer, so sometimes it seems The Neidermeyer has a point.

  • Two characters that are likened to each other in All Quiet on the Western Front: the psychotic, sadistic drill sergeant that the main characters train under, and the high school teacher that coerced all of his students into joining the military.
  • Bazil Broketail:
    • Porteous Glaves, the newly appointed commander of the 8th Regiment in book two, is an Upper-Class Twit who bought his current position with money (a practice thoroughly despised by professional soldiers, but allowed by authorities of Argonath as a source of income) solely and only to further his political career. He spends most of the time throwing his weight around, acting as if his position of commander allows him to do whatever he wants and being generally obnoxious and arrogant to everyone around him. When the 8th Regiment is sent on campaign to Ourdh, he quickly proves to be an abysmal and incompetent leader, abusing his troops for little to no reason, showing no commanding skills whatsoever, and acting queasy and cowardly when in real battle.
    • Turrent is a relatively mild example. He knows the rules and regulations inside and out, is overly strict when it comes to following them, and makes sure the dragonboys under his command do everything by the book, no matter how trivial it is. When they fail to appease him — even by doing something as inconsequential as not cleaning a part of equipment nearly good enough — he will gleefully punish them. Especially Relkin. On the other hand, he used to be a dragon squire himself, so he surely knows what he's doing (unlike his successor Wiliger) and eventually warms up a bit.
    • Delwild Wiliger, a new commanding officer of the 109th Dragon Squadron in book four, starts out as this. He comes from an aristocratic family and was transferred to Bazil's unit from an elite regiment at his own insistence, despite having absolutely no previous experience with dragons. As a leader, he suffers from terrible mood swings, switching between being needlessly harsh and overbearing towards his subordinates and outwardly nice and friendly. He also has a very delicate ego, and likes to vent his frustration over any slight (real or imagined) — no matter how petty it is — on his troops. However, he is still an experienced soldier in his own right, shows considerable personal bravery in combat and after watching his soldiers getting killed in a horrible manner during the battle at Tog Utbek, he undergoes a change into a genuine Father to His Men.
  • Captain Queeg of Herman Wouk's The Caine Mutiny, and the movie and play (The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial) based on it, could almost be the Trope Namer. It is often used in media as an alternate name for this trope.note 
  • Everybody in a position of authority in Catch-22 falls under this.
    • Except perhaps Major — De Coverley, he's more of a Memetic Badass with an awe-inspiring reputation and fearsome appearance, but no real authority beyond renting apartments. Like anyone who's not a complete bastard, he dies or disappears.
    • And Major Major, who really just wants to be left alone.
  • Lieutenant Bennett from The Cruel Sea. A lazy bully. Instead of being shot by his own men, he fakes illness to get out of the war.
  • Captain Hisashi Kurokawa of the HIMS Amagi in Taylor Anderson's Destroyermen series. A more extreme example of a typical Imperial Japan naval officer (see Real Life below), he is openly disdainful of his men (both officers and noncoms) and reasons that any success by the enemy must be due to traitors in his ranks. He freely allows the Grik to kill and eat a percentage of his crew to placate them and has no problems sending pilots on suicide missions (even telling them not bothering coming back if they fail).
  • Chief Inspector Snape in the Diamond Brothers series towards Tim Diamond, who used to work for him in the police force. When Tim gets arrested for acting suspiciously around a dead body in The Falcon's Malteser, Snape is thrilled to have him locked up.
  • General Lord Ronald Rust from the Discworld novels doesn't actually get shot by his own men in Jingo, but his overbearing superiority and tactical incompetence make it very tempting. As a captain in Night Watch, he is knocked unconscious by his own men when he orders them to fire on civilians.
    • Corporal Strappi from Monstrous Regiment.
    • While not in a military organization, Sergeant Fred Colon quickly becomes this after being promoted to Acting Captain in The Fifth Elephant. By the time Carrot returns to resume authority, Colon has fired or driven off all members of the Watch, with only a handful hanging around informally enforcing the law. Fred's an unusually sympathetic example because he's not a bad man, he's just been handed much more responsibility than he's qualified for and he knows it, but he's the most senior sergeant by date of rank and semi-official third in command after Vimes and Carrot so he's kind of stuck with it. The massive amount of stress he's under is impairing his judgement to the point where he's on the edge of a breakdown, and in the last scene from his point of view before the action switches back to Uberwald he's reduced to staring at the wall and whispering, "Commander Vimes is going to go spare..." Luckily for Fred, Sam is a bit preoccupied when he gets back, and by the time he arrives to reclaim his office Carrot has sorted it all out.
    • Vimes hasn't promoted Fred from Sergeant (or Nobby from Corporal) because, despite the fact they're senior to almost everybody in the Watch (Colon even has seniority on His Grace himself), they're perfectly happy in the ranks they hold and really aren't suited for anything higher anyway.
    • Actually, nearly every general in the armies of the Sto Plains (the area in which Ankh-Morpork lies) counts as this since their general battle strategy is to hurl their men at the enemy and receive "glorious casualties" since apparently the number of fallen men equals how great the battle was for them. If they actually win anything, that's a nice albeit unimportant bonus. They see the famous general Tacticus as a dishonorable military leader because he had the distinct tendency to win battles and wars and bring most of his soldiers back alive. The official metric goes something like this: First, both sides throw their men at each other. Then, you subtract your casualties from their casualties, and "if the answer is a positive sum, it was a glorious victory".
  • In Doom:
    • Lieutenant Weems from Knee-Deep in the Dead. He was so incompetent and cowardly that he ordered his men to fire on a bunch of harmless monks protesting their war efforts, mistaking them for suicide bombers even after one of his scout Arlene told him they were harmless. Fly decked him for that, and that's why he is stuck on suspension in the cafeteria on Phobos when everything goes to Hell. Throughout the novel Fly has unflattering thoughts about Weems, believing that he's the kind of guy who would side with the alien invaders if it meant saving his own skin. Fly finds the bodies of Weems and another soldier who had entered a suicide pact after the aliens trapped them in a Fate Worse than Death by fusing their heads together, after that he feels too much pity to hate the man anymore.
    • Hidalgo in Infernal Sky invokes this. He doesn't want to get close to the squad and he's the "new guy" among True Companions. Hidalgo introduces himself by stating he's not going to fraternize with them, demands proper uniform maintenance, and tells Fly that almost saving the world nearly makes up for punching his last CO. Fly's natural dislike of officers, their experience with Lt. Weems, and the high stakes of the mission lead Arlene to suggest killing Hidalgo if he's a liability. In time the whole squad warms to each other, only to suddenly Drop a Bridge on Him when a teleporter malfunction causes Fly to Tele-Frag Hidalgo.
  • The International Fleet is full of them in the second Formic Wars trilogy (prequels to Ender's Game). Colonel Vaganov is an especially dangerous example because he's very smart and good at playing the career game. He quickly singles Mazer out as a competent marine and does what he can to use Mazer for his own advancement. When Mazer disobeys his self-serving order for the good of humanity, Vaganov has him arrested and treated inhumanely, thinking that Mazer is playing his own career game and is trying to undermine Vaganov, before sending him to be court-martialed by an admiral, who's a good friend of his. Word of God is that the authors had to add this element to the prequels in order to stay true to the one-off line about Mazer from the original novel involving him being court-martialed twice and being largely unknown. The only way for someone like him to be court-martialed would be for the IF to be full of corrupt careerists, who resent competent officers and sabotage them. The Mazer in Prison comic (taking place between the prequels and the original novel) has Mazer holding himself hostage in order to force the IF to replace the careerists with competent officers. It works.
    • Notably, there are times when Vaganov isn't entirely wrong, such as when he sends Mazer and Bingwen into a dangerous situation rather than take the safer option in order to obtain more intel on the Formics. The revised mission ends up discovering that the Hive Queen is breeding daughters in asteroids in order to serve as local commanders, allowing her to focus on better controlling a smaller number of soldiers. Bingwen manages to kill one of the daughters with a crossbow bolt through the eye and then igniting the hydrogen in the asteroid. This leaves an intact Formic warship with no crew to study.
    • In Ender's Game, Bonzo Madrid, as commander of Salamander Army, proudly over-disciplines his boys (and Petra) with a sharp tongue and a quick backhand. He is particularly resentful of Ender being assigned to his command as underage and untested New Meat, and so puts him under strict orders to hang back and do absolutely nothing in battles, with the goal of gaming Ender's efficiency rating (no points will be deducted for missed shots if he never draws his gun) so he will be easier to trade to another army. When Ender sees Salamander losing one battle to Leopard Army—due to poor morale, no less—he springs into action at the last minute and inflicts just enough casualties to prevent Leopard from claiming victory. Bonzo rewards Ender for having turned a loss into a draw by beating him up because "no good soldier ever disobeys."
  • In the U.S. Army, this figure is known as a "Courtney Massengale", from the character in the novel Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer, who fits the trope to a T. For this reason, Eagle is recommended reading for young officers.
  • Seen a couple of times in the Night's Watch in A Song of Ice and Fire. Ser Alliser Thorne insults and berates all the boys he's supposed to train, without actually giving them anything in the way of instruction. Meanwhile, the few pages' worth we see of Ser Waymar Royce has him mocking the lower-ranking but more experienced rangers under his command every time they display caution or prudence.
  • Gotrek & Felix:
    • Bosendorfer is a Greatsword commander who's very jealous of his authority, and consequently very displeased at the easy superiority Felix shows over him at every turn by being more skilled, more courageous, and better-liked by his own men. It doesn't help that he has a bad case of Inferiority Superiority Complex, only being in command due to the death of his (much more skillful) older brother.
    • Gotrek once served under a Bretonnian pirate hunter, who had determined to attack a Norscan pirate in his island lair. And to motivate the men, he burned the ship once the men were ashore. But when they got to the pirate's lair, they found he'd seen the smoke from the ships and promptly cleared out. The captain was murdered that very night, and the crew survived as well as they could until they joined a passing pirate ship.
    The poor old duke birthed more pirates than he ever took.
  • Generation Kill has several: Captain America, Encino Man ("Echo Mike"), Sgt. Maj. "Fucking" Sixta, though he was only acting that way to give the troops an outlet for their frustration, and though he's an NCO, "Casey Kasem". (After the events of Generation Kill however, Kasem proved to be more akin to Sergeant Rock as a platoon sergeant when it came to combat.)
  • General George Armstrong Custer in Harry Turtledove's World War I Alternate History trilogy The Great War is like this. Although he lacks the "You're all worthless and weak!!" part, he is still more than willing to send the unfortunate men under his command into needlessly costly and bloody offensives that end up gaining little. He constantly tries to seek glory wherever he can and also is more than willing to hog it all and push all the blame on others when something fails. However, by the end of the trilogy, he later proves to be a competent officer when he disobeys the US general Staff's orders on not using tanks in a concentrated formation. This leads to the US occupying Kentucky and later forces the Confederate States to surrender once other officers begin copying it.
    • That wasn't being a competent officer. That was being the same idiot he'd always been and happened to get lucky this time. As his aide-de-camp later (frequently) reminisces.
    • Boris Lavochkin is the "psychotic hard-ass" version during the Second Great War - a brutal and vindictive officer who didn't have any qualms about massacring civilians or treating his own men with thinly-disguised contempt. He vociferously protested being ordered not to invade Charleston, South Carolina even after the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city because he wanted the glory of capturing the city that sparked the Confederacy.
  • A couple generals in Urtho's army in The Black Gryphon. Troops of all species dread being placed under their command because they're known for using tactics that would be gloriously victorious if they ever worked, but since they never work, are instead suicidally stupid. It eventually turns out they're traitors, and they plan on losing every time.
  • The Honor Harrington series is overflowing with these, including:
    • Pavel Young, and every one of his friends and/or relatives.
    • Any senior officer appointed by the High Ridge government, with the one exception of Khumalo.
    • Turned on its head by High Ridge's distant cousin Michael Oversteegen, who turns out to be an exceptional officer and thoroughly despises his incompetent, selfish relatives, and by Augustus Khumalo, an aristocratic officer who was barely middle-of-the-road until the Talbott Quadrant blew up in his face and he shocked everyone — up to and including himself — by proving himself to be a thoroughly competent, honourable leader who backed Aivars Terekhov to the hilt despite the possible repercussions and had the good sense to get out of the way of his subordinates with far better tactical ability than himself.
    • Most of the "People's Commissioners" in the People's Republic of Haven's navy, with the notable and plot-important exceptions of Eloise Pritchart, Everard Honeker, Denis LePic, and Denis Jourdain.
    • A huge proportion of the Solarian League's senior officers are incompetent morons who arrogantly keep sending fleets (also tending to be commanded by morons) of a space navy that hasn't seen a real war in centuries against a technologically superior enemy that has managed to get most of their incompetents weeded out and the good ones given a great deal of experience thanks to the war they just ended.
  • Deputy Marshal Fetlock in the Laura Caxton series at least hovers on the edge of being this. Caxton's allies Clara Hsu and Officer Glauer acknowledge that Fetlock's adherence to the rules isn't a bad thing in itself, and respect that he would have accepted his own sentence if he was ever brought up on the charges that led to Caxton being arrested, but his adherence to the law prevents him from recognising that his strategies won't work when dealing with vampires. Fetlock's determination to keep his troops alive just means that the vampires are killing innocent civilians instead, his refusal to believe Caxton when she claims that Justinia Malvern (the oldest living vampire in the series) isn't dead after a prison riot gave Malvern two years to make a new plan, and when he finally tries to go after the vampires he gets his entire team killed because he relied on a show of force rather than ask for Caxton to offer her expertise.
  • The Lost Fleet has so many examples that there's an entire battleship squadron informally designated as a dumping ground for problem captains. Captain (later Admiral) Geary has to spend as much time and energy dealing with the messes caused by their poor leadership, recklessness and occasional bouts of outright insubordinationnote  than he does fighting the actual enemy, even before one particularly extreme example decides to go the Klingon Promotion route. And then there's Captain Falco, who was a competent officer once but let a few successful engagements go to his head and became an arrogant Glory Hound underneath the charm and charisma.
  • In the Lord Darcy short story "The Spell of War", Darcy, a young officer at the time, chooses not to notice that the commander of his unit—who'd been a tyrant and endangered the men—had a bullet entry wound on his back from a pistol...received when he'd been facing an enemy sniper who was using a rifle.
    • The man responsible for this Unfriendly Fire then goes on to do a Redemption Equals Death when he learns that the Captain's orders weren't really suicidally stupid (Though this was due to chance, not any hidden genius on the late Captain's part).
  • Many Orc officers in all versions of The Lord of the Rings. It is considered quite normal for an orc to be hated by his subordinates and keep them in line largely through rigorous abuse, to the point that orcs that aren't tend to be seen as uncommonly good. Uglúk of Isengard, for instance, is actually held in decent regard by his fellow Uruk-hai, but he is utterly despised by the orcs of Mordor and the Misty Mountains that he travels with, and the feeling is nothing if not mutual—he largely maintains order in his band by decapitating a few grunts whenever they start getting uppity.
  • In the McAuslan books, the sole Neidermeyer in a mess full of Sergeant Rock types is the hapless Sergeant Baxter. It isn't entirely Baxter's fault: he's just been overpromoted and even as a Corporal lacked experience and ability. His inexperience and incapacity for the rank (bestowed after the more able Sergeant Telfer is demobilised) cause problems. It even reverses the usual relationship with his lieutenant: Dand McNeill is forced to reprimand him at least twice.
  • With the exception of the Paran siblings (Ganoes and Tavore), every single noble-born military officer in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Every one.
  • Captain Morton in Mister Roberts by James Heggen. Played in the 1955 movie by James Cagney, he is a tyrant, but the whole situation is mostly played for laughs.
  • The Sharpe books were full of these. Some of them learned their lesson (kind of), some of them just ceased to be Sharpe's problem, and some were mercilessly bayoneted by their own troops.
    • Sharpe himself was The Neidermeyer for a while after he first became an officer. And yes, his men did attempt to kill him. Luckily for him, that's easier said than done.
  • Sky Masters: An inexperienced Captain second-guesses his air defence expert and, when one anti-air missile misfires, shuts down the point defence net in his Lawful Stupidity, allowing an anti-ship missile to get through and hit the carrier they were supposed to be protecting. Said misfired missile had actually exploded and was tumbling back towards the launcher—keeping the other launch cells closed was a prudent thing to do; keeping on firing might have risked BOTH ships.
  • Captain Styles of the USS Excelsior is this in the Novelization of Star Trek III. We don't see very much of him in the movie, but the characterization is plausible from what we do see.
    • Given the rate of promotion in the Star Trek universe, could this be Lieutenant Styles from the Original Series episode "Balance of Terror"? If so, he wasn't a very nice person back then, either. The lieutenant's name was spelt "Stiles", sadly.
    • He also appeared in the Star Trek novel "Prime Directive" as the Enterprise's acting captain while Kirk was in disgrace; he didn't take it very well when Kirk returned and took the ship back; he held a grudge against Kirk forever after.
  • Captains von Pader and Meier from the novels by Sven Hassel, and quite a few other Nazi officers.
  • Captain Fisher, a.k.a. "Billy Liar," in Kim Newman's Alternate History novella Teddy Bears' Picnic. His own troops frag him with a white phosphorus grenade, a practice known as "white saucing". For the record, white phosphorous burns at 5000 degrees Fahrenheit and sticks to the skin.
  • The Unknown Soldier: Staff Sergeant Sinkkonen is both a cocky martinet and a completely incompetent barracks warrior. Lieutenant Lammio is a tentative aversion. While he is an immensely skilled tactician and brave to the point of insanity, he is just as cocky as Sinkkonen, has No Social Skills and no humanising weaknesses whatsoever. His men hate him. Corporal Lehto is another aversion: he is shown to possess psychopathic and antisocial tendencies, and he bullies Pvt. Riitaoja relentlessly, but he is not incompetent nor a coward. His men fear him.
  • Averted in The War Against the Chtorr ("A Matter for Men"). The hero Jim McCarthy, having just been made an officer after killing a rampaging Chtorran; tries to bully Dr. Fletcher out of some Chtorran specimens. First, she takes him down a peg by showing McCarthy that the Chtorran he 'killed' is still very much alive. Then she points out that everyone wants to look up to their superiors, so an officer's job is to inspire people, not boss them about. She finishes by congratulating McCarthy on his shooting and asks him to bring flowers next time. McCarthy is highly embarrassed but learns from the experience. In "A Season for Slaughter" however, when pushed too far by incompetent Major Bellus, McCarthy doesn't educate this Neidermeyer, he demolishes him. On worldwide live television.
  • Imperial captain Joak Drysso, in command of the Super Star Destroyer "Lusankya" in the X-Wing Series. Near the end, with his ship damaged and obviously beyond hope of winning the battle, he refuses an offer for surrender and orders the engines to full power, with the intention of ramming the planet and dying with his ship and crew in a blaze of glory. He is promptly shot by a subordinate, who then acts as captain and accepts the offer to surrender.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Band of Brothers had two real-life examples although the research done in the book that the series is based on has some flaws and thus doesn't fully match with the actual events as they took place:
    • Captain Herbert M. Sobel is portrayed as a petty tyrant whose harsh training earns him resentment from the men under his command. While his tactics did make his soldiers tougher and Sobel was there every step of the way during that training, his total incompetence in field exercises causes a number of his NCOs to flat-out refuse to serve under his command. It causes a big incident within the command structure that has Sobel reassigned and several of the NCOs punished & replaced.
      • The real Sobel did eventually see combat and did a good job, but he never mentally got past being relieved of his original command and the actions of those who essentially committed a mutiny to get him out. The survivors of Easy Company believed he had died soon after the war and he never appeared at any of the reunions.
    • Lt. Norman Dike, who is given command of Easy Company during the war. It is implied that he got his position due to his pedigree and family connections but is himself an "empty uniform" who can only feign competence, as well as repeatedly abandoning his troops on the frontline, relying on Sergeant Lipton to maintain order. After breaking down during an assault, Dike is immediately replaced with the vastly more competent Ronald Speirs.
      • In reality he fought bravely and well in Normandy, and then in the assault on Foy he was actually severely wounded and unable to lead the attack further rather than freezing & breaking from the strain of command.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): Crashdown attempts to lead a squad on a hostile planet surface after a crash-landing. Things go wrong. He gets two of the squad killed then is shot by Gaius Baltar when attempting to force a needless suicide mission.
    • Though his fatal flaw is more due to inexperience and inflexibility than anything else. It's not that he doesn't care about those under his command, but rather his incompetence and focus on "accomplishing the tactical mission" no matter how ill-advised that mission might be gets in the way of listening to a more experienced non-commissioned officer (who he begins to resent as undermining his authority). When doing his job as an ECO he's not bad at all. He just wasn't cut out or trained for ground combat.
  • Blackadder Goes Forth:
    • General Melchett. Melchett is distraught by the death of his pigeon "Speckled Jim", yet blissfully uncaring about the fifty thousand men a week dying in the trenches. His bizarre tactics that help expedite the latter include "doing precisely what we've done eighteen times before" and "climbing out of [the] trenches and walking very slowly towards the enemy". Sadly, both are widely thought to be Truth in Television...
    • Captain Blackadder himself is an example, albeit a mild one. His subordinates adore him, while he treats them with cold contempt and considers them useless idiots... which, in his defense, they mostly are.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer brings us...Buffy Summers, who turned into this with the way she treated the Potentials and refusal to come up with a plan that did not result in more deaths. When Faith returns and shows she's a pretty decent Sergeant Rock Buffy flips completely (Faith is described as her most hated enemy) forcing things to come to a head.
  • Chicago Fire: Deputy Commissioner Gorsch in Season 7. When Gorsch was a candidate, Chief Boden gave him a bad performance review, recognizing rightly that this guy was a desk jockey, not a smoke eater. Gorsch then slimed his way up the ranks to a position where he could hover around the firehouse and try to drive Boden to quit — and make everyone's life miserable in the effort.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Planet of Evil", Salamar seems to be like this crossing over with Insane Admiral of a sort. His orders are always wrong, he is quick to blame the Doctor and Sarah-Jane, and is over-zealous about doling out his own version of justice on them over circumstantial evidence; Especially when one of the many killings in the episode happens on the bridge, far away from the sickbay, where Salamar plans to eject them into space in caskets. Plus, he always asserts his authority as a Controller (presumably the far-future equivalent of "Captain"). Thankfully, he bites the dust when Sorenson's animalistic form drains the life from out of his body, and Vishinsky takes over as Controller.
      Vishinsky: You're out of your mind!
      Salamar: [holding a laser pistol, a handheld neutron accelerator, and craze in his eyes] OH NO...! No. This is leadership! Strong action! That's why I'M CONTROLLER! Open that hatch!!!
      [A guard moves in to incapacitate him, and Salamar shoots him dead.]
  • Enlisted: 2LT Schneeberger. He goes out of his way to be as obnoxious as possible to everyone lower ranking than him, including a Command Sergeant Major (who may be lower rank but is meant to be viewed as a mentor by junior officers). Also has a tendency to steal the credit for anything that goes well, regardless of how much influence he had over it.
  • Farscape:
    • Captain Crais. Initially, it's indicated that this is the result of Revenge Before Reason in his pursuit of Crichton for accidentally killing his brother. Flashbacks in "The Way We Weren't," however, reveal that he was always a whackjob and a jackass hated by all around him. When Scorpius steps up to take his command away from him at the end of Season 1, none of his officers so much as object, let alone side with him.
    • Commandant Mele-on Grayza, as well. She's outright incompetent in executing her attempt to recapture Moya, totally inept in managing diplomacy with the Scarrans, and is harsh and unforgiving of her subordinates, and berates Braca for actually listening to what his people are telling him (case in point: Braca accepts the explanation of a Peacekeeper weapons tech who tries to advise him that a Leviathan-killing missile is not ready for active deployment, but Grayza overrules him and forces him to order its use anyway. Sure enough, Moya's crew figures out a way to fool its tracking system. Grayza summarily sends the weapons tech to the Aurora Chair). It culminates at the end of season 4 with Grayza ordering her ship to battle when her attempts to negotiate with the Scarrans break down (thanks in no small part to Crichton and his crew undermining the whole process to make sure the Scarrans can't get wormhole knowledge from a captive Scorpius) rather than go home in disgrace. It's really telling that when Braca relieves her of command and she orders him to be shot, no one is even inclined to follow her orders.
  • Firefly: Though he isn't shown on-screen, in "The Message", Mal and Zoe recount an instance where one of their superior officers acted exactly like this. However, in this case, the man was drunk off his rocker, and passed out, at which point one of the troops cut off the man's mustache and glued it to his own face.
  • Generation Kill:
    • Captain America, a completely incompetent officer who is constantly prone to panicking and giving illogical orders during combat situations. The reporter following the unit confronts Captain America's commanding officer, asking how such an obviously incompetent man could be in his position, but Godfather insists that he's only got the grumblings of lower officers to go on, which isn't enough to remove someone from their position. He's so incompetent that he can't even successfully murder a POW with a bayonet.
    • Encino Man loses the tiny amount of sympathy he may have had in the book, with the actor playing him nailing the concept of the nickname perfectly; a man whose problem isn't lack of experience so much as lack of basic common sense. At one point he attempts to call an artillery strike on an empty position only 200 meters away from his unit, practically on top of his own head, and is only saved because he's so bad at calling for fire support that he gives an invalid order with grid coordinates in Saudi Arabia and gets ignored.
    • Sgt. Major John "Fucking" Sixta has more power than either of them — and uses it to continually insist on personal grooming standards while allowing the company to abandon their ammo supply truck in enemy territory. In the final episode, Sixta reveals that his psychotic obsession with the men's grooming standards was a Genghis Gambit to give them an outlet for their stress.
  • Hell's Kitchen: Gordon Ramsay follows this trope in this show and any of his American-produced shows. However, Ramsay's behavior in the UK original of "Kitchen Nightmares" puts him much more in the Sergeant Rock personality trope. He may be harsh on the incompetent or misguided cooks, but he's doing it so the diners get the best experience and the cooks realize their own potential.
  • Hogan's Heroes:
    • Colonel Crittendon, a bumbling and incompetent British officer whose ludicrous plans and go-getter attitude often cause the Heroes to have to try and sabotage his schemes so that he doesn't get them all killed. The Heroes' plans to murder him weren't entirely sarcastic.
    • Colonel Klink himself is this on the German side. During one of the many times Klink was sentenced to death by firing squad, the entire garrison of Stalag 13 (including Schultz) volunteered for said firing squad. In fact, three guards that had previously deserted returned to volunteer as well. Notably, Klink gets this from all directions: not only do his men (and the Allied prisoners) detest him for his incompetence, cowardice, and ego, but everyone above him in the German chain of command knows that he's massively incompetent. The only reason he hasn't been sent off to the Russian Front is that Stalag 13 hasn't had a single successful escape (thanks to the Heroes working behind the scenes) since he took command.
  • Last of the Summer Wine:
    • Had Foggy Dewhurst, a former corporal in the Army. Subverted in that he's now a civilian now, and even when he was in the Army, he was only a sign writer, and thus probably never saw any action. This doesn't stop him from constantly finding reasons to boss Compo and Clegg around, often pretending he's genuinely interested in helping other people. He's so determined to inflict his will on them that on one occasion, he started strangling Compo, completely unprovoked because he simply thought he was going to embarrass him. Too bad the vicar's wife saw him...
    • Subverted with his predecessor, Cyril Blamire, who was also a corporal in the Army and similar to Foggy - right down to the mustache - but unlike him, Blamire was content with his retirement and, despite bickering constantly, was good friends with Compo and Clegg.
  • M*A*S*H:
    • Major Frank Burns is probably the most visible example. An incompetent doctor, a stickler for draconian discipline, loud, obnoxious, entitled, bullying, and often blaming everyone but himself for his own idiocy, Burns is disliked by every single person in the 4077th MASH unit, except for his lover Margaret Houlihan, who's also one of these (as elaborated on below). This is especially notable because he's an officer and not enlisted.
    • M*A*S*H also had several Foe of the Week commanders who either learned a lesson or were otherwise removed from command by the doctors.
    • When Major Burns left the series (due to having a psychological breakdown caused by the marriage of Major Houlihan - which led to him causing havoc in Tokyo while on RnR), the Army, in its infinite wisdom, promoted him to Lieutenant Colonel and gave him a cushy job in a stateside Veteran's Hospital... which is extra disconcerting given that Major Burns was always made out to be an incompetent doctor, has no friends in high places, and the Army historically had a medieval attitude towards officers who go wacko.
    • Margaret Houlihan is this herself in the beginning. Insecure in herself because her father is a career officer who really wanted a son to follow in his footsteps, and aware that opportunities for a female officer are limited, she is harsh on her nurses and feels alienated and alone. After the departure of Burns, she mellows out and passes on from her own Neidermeyer stage, becoming a competent and compassionate officer, learning from Potter, Hawkeye, and BJ.
    • Hawkeye and Winchester both had their opportunity to be Neidermeyers when given the chance to command. Anyone other than Blake or Potter in charge of the 4077th ends up as this trope. The difference between them and Burns is that these episodes set up an An Aesop about the difficulty of true leadership when the rest of the main cast calls them out on it, and they see the error of their ways.
    • Not so much in the earlier seasons. In the Season 3 episode "Officer of the Day", Hawkeye's command of the 4077th was treated as little more than a day at the office; he essentially spent the whole period doing what he always did, albeit while having to deal with a visit from Colonel Flagg. Fridge Brilliance is that, since his command lasted only a day, and an uneventful one (save for Flagg's visit) at that, Hawkeye didn't have to deal with the rigors of command that Blake went through on a day-to-day basis.
    • Subverted in one episode where a group of British soldiers are brought in. Their wounds aren't life-threatening, but they're in a bad shape and need several weeks to recuperate. Their commanding officer shows up twice demanding that they be discharged and sent to the front as soon as possible, accusing them of laziness and calling Hawkeye a "mollycoddler". The third time he shows up, Hawkeye rushes to intervene, only to find him chatting amicably with the wounded, listening to their letters from home, and generally acting like A Father to His Men. When Hawkeye asks him what brought on this change, the officer replies that he would never speak the way he had to someone who was dying or seriously injured, and his men know him well enough to realise that, so when he comes in demanding they return to action immediately, it reassures them that they're going to be okay and they don't lose hope, which he describes as "being cruel to be kind". Furthermore, the officer's decency is proved when Hawkeye tells him that giving tea to soldiers with abdominal wounds is giving them peritonitis; he immediately agrees to follow the doctor's advice and stop the practice.
  • North and South (U.S.): Elkanah Bent treats Orry and George like scum. He gets Orry crippled by Mexican artillery. Orry cripples him, he murders Orry then George hangs him.
  • The Office:
    • Dwight Schrute becomes the civilian equivalent whenever he is given even the slightest amount of authority.
    • Gareth Keenan, Dwight's equivalent (and character model) in the original British series, takes it even further since he was a Territorial Army soldier (think National Guard) who insisted on his status as Deputy Team Leader after David Brent and who stood on a largely non-existent authority.
  • Over There: Both of The Squad's lieutenants. The first is nicknamed "Mad Cow" because "it's a disease that rots men's brains." The latter one is shot in the back under ambiguous circumstances, with the finale leaving it open whether he was killed by the Sergeant Rock.
  • Raumpatrouille: Lieutenant Spring-Brauner has ambitions in this direction - if he could, he would like to replace the Orion's crew with robots - but luckily he is only General Wamsler's aide-de-camp with no authority of his own.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • Arnold Rimmer is a Subverted Trope, as though having all the requisite personality traits, he lacks real authority, and the people he does outrank refuse to listen to him. Plus, he's dead already, so fragging's out of the question.
    • He does once get command of a small army and actually manages to force a draw against a numerically superior enemy... though he did it by sacrificing all but two of his troops in a charge across an open minefield in broad daylight to serve as a distraction.
    • To be accurate, he got all of his Wax Droid troops slaughtered. Most in the aforementioned mid-day minefield charge, several melted as a result of the training he put them through, and the sole survivor was dispatched as an assassin with the full understanding/intention that she would die in her mission of killing the Evil Wax Droid leaders. The only reason he was remotely able to claim this as a victory was because, while the enemy forces were distracted, Kryten was able to get to the planetary temperature controls and adjust the planet's heat so that all of the Wax Droids melted. Lister was not impressed:
    Lister: So you wiped out the entire population of this planet?
    Rimmer: You make it sound so negative Lister. Don't you see? The deranged menace that once threatened this world is vanquished!
    Lister: No it isn't pal, you're still here!
    • Further subverted in 'Balance of Power' in that Lister tried to outrank Rimmer by taking the chef's exam—the lowest rank on the ship that would still outrank Rimmer, and the one requiring the least effort to attain:
    Rimmer: Chef? You want to become a chef?
    Lister: Not really. I just want to become your superior.
    Rimmer: But a chef? A white-hatted ponce? That's not a real officer!
    Lister: It outranks you, smeg-for-brains!
    • Red Dwarf also had the ship's backup computer Queeg 500, who was installed for an episode when the crew got sick of Holly's incompetence. Queeg turned out to be so strict that even Rimmer got sick of him. And then it turns out that Queeg was Holly all along.
  • Revolution: Captain Jeremy Baker in episode 3. He sends his men into the field for the sole purpose of forcing the enemy to waste bullets cutting them down and fails to anticipate an ambush...not once, but twice.
  • The Rifleman:
    • Had one episode where an Army Major was this to his troops and the civilians of North Fork. Fortunately, everyone in North Fork realized how insane his military command was, and his superiors got a message from Lucas McCain about his incompetence, recalling the Major back to headquarters. However, the Major spun the story, claiming that his superiors needed his command elsewhere, even leaving his Lieutenant with this message: "Lieutenant, remember, the key to command is a firm hand, discipline!" Even more during the episode:
    • He refused his men water (in the deserts of New Mexico) before the events of the episode, and one of his men was shot when he did steal some water, and the man's wound was not tended to, even in the jail. He was also set to be executed the next day. (He got better.)
    • He mentioned how his men cracked under pressure from the enemy, costing him a promotion, when in fact he sent them in deliberately and they were shot to pieces.
    • He called out one of his men for "resting" after a four-hour duty shift tending the jail his deserter was imprisoned in and ordered his Lieutenant to add another hour to his duty shift. (The man had collapsed from heat exhaustion.) Even the Major's Yes-Man Lieutenant started to question his command at this time, as he actually gave the man some water behind the Major's back.
    • He attempted to place Lucas McCain, a civilian, under arrest for going behind his back to his superiors about his insane incompetence. (Civilian arrests by military officials are prohibited if you didn't know.)
    • He attempted to place the town of North Fork under martial law. (To circumvent the civilian arrest rule.)
  • Scrubs: Though a non-military example, Dr. Kelso is this to the entirety of Sacred Heart Hospital. This trope comes to the fore as a plot device in one episode when he becomes particularly inspired by this trope when a veteran lands in his hospital's care. The vet tells Kelso of his former sergeant's leadership, though ultimately the sergeant united the troops underneath him through their hate towards him. Against the backdrop of this, the hospital's productivity was falling as the staff were becoming too enveloped by an ongoing, literal coffeehouse debate around the war in Iraq. Kelso resolves the issue by suddenly announcing that he was canceling the staff discount for coffee, except for his own. When asked to explain why, his response was "Why the hell not?" and to walk away. However, ultimately subverts the trope in that he takes it upon himself to be the one they can all hate in order to unite them on a common front. After he retires, he becomes a pretty nice guy.
  • Space: Above and Beyond had a couple appear in different episodes:
    • Lt. Col. Ray Butts quickly earns the ire of every member of the 58th when he assumes command, drilling them hard in exercises that seem only to highlight his own skills. Played with, however, in that he is ultimately revealed to genuinely care about the Marines under his command.
    • Lt. Herrick zigzags this trope, in that despite his actions and attitude, the men under his command revere him, while those of equal or higher rank are disgusted.
  • General George Hammond from Stargate SG-1 was originally intended to be such a character, as this was how most commanding officers/superiors were treated in other television shows at the timenote . After talking with a U.S. Air Force consultant — who pointed out that a man who rose to Hammond's position wouldn't have got there if he had no respect for his inferiors, and vice versa — he was rewritten to be the show's Reasonable Authority Figure. Multiple times he's shown bending the rules or outright breaking them to get the job done.
  • Stargate Universe: Colonel Telford is the Neidermeyer in his early appearances. He utterly ignores not only the very immediate and life-threatening problems facing the crew in favor of the rules but also completely ignores the fact that his host body is in terrible shape the first time around. In the episode "Earth", he usurps Young's command (albeit on orders from higher up) and nearly gets the entire ship destroyed. To add insult to injury, he abandons Destiny while this happens (which Dr. Rush had actually expected him to do and thus arranged the whole show just to make him look like an ass). Thankfully, this last one does not go unpunished; Young, having learned his lesson, never gives Telford the opportunity to try again, and burns him pretty good back on Earth for his actions. It also turns out that he's Brainwashed and Crazy, explaining a lot of his actions.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In "Valiant", Tim Watters, the Acting Captain of Red Squad, has deluded himself into thinking that he is destined for greatness which causes him to lead his squad of inexperienced cadets on a suicidal mission that gets them all killed. Even worse is his second in command Farris who, instead of demonstrating actual leadership qualities, bullies and berates others into line.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Captain Edward Jellico from "Chain of Command" appears at first to be a Neidermayer, but as the two-part episode goes on it becomes clear he's a subversion rather than a plain example. His command style is hard and uncompromising compared to Picard's, he generates numerous complaints from his senior officers, and even removes Riker as first officer after Riker continually resists his changes. As time goes on, however, he spends personal moments with several of the officers and it is revealed as well that he's a loving father to his son. He points out that his job is to get the ship on a war footing, because it might well come to that, and proves himself extremely competent in this. He's also able to swallow his pride when needed. Eventually, some of his changes even stick beyond his tenure, such as having Counselor Troi wear a regular uniform.
  • The Wire: Lieutenant Charles Marimow is referred to as "The Unit Killer" and a man who "does not toss away talent lightly. He heaves it with great force." At a higher level, both Burrell and Rawls are like this to the commanders beneath them, often using the COMSTAT meetings to berate and humiliate them for failing to win the drug war each month.


  • In The Navy Lark Captain Povey frequently falls into this category with his obsession for hounding the Troutbridge crew out of the Navy. To be fair, the crew of the Troutbridge are completely incompetent/derelict in their duties.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Captain Jasper Stone from Deadlands was a really bad version of this. He was shanked by his own troops in the Battle of Gettysburg... only to rise as an undead and become Death's right-hand man.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons the piscoloths are described as the sergeants of the yugoloth race. They are so cruel to their subordinates that said subordinates tend to gang up and murder them whenever given half the chance.
  • Exalted:
    • Excessively righteous Blossom. His military career was marked by repeatedly getting a battalion whittled down to about company size, and he made it very clear to everyone who would listen that he viewed this as a result of the incompetence of his soldiers. Especially hilarious since he is very talented - at personal combat - but has exactly no ability to recognise what his talents are, leading to both military and civilian careers crafted from incompetence and menacing with spikes of fail.
    • Tepet Lisara also qualifies. Out of jealousy, she got her cousin, an actually competent officer, removed from command, and devised the strategy that effectively ruined her House's standing within the Realm. Though that particular failure is never realized, she is still Reassigned to Antarctica for general incompetence, where she delights in assigning up-and-coming male officers to menial or suicidal tasks for petty amusement.
  • Most of the Commissars in Warhammer 40,000. In fact, the 'Nam-inspired Catachan Jungle Fighters require a special saving roll before the game even starts to prevent them from fragging the Commissar (Oops, sorry sir!).
    • Similar to the Dinobots example listed below, one of the reasons Imperial doctrine normally prohibits Space Marine commanders from leading large-scale actions and campaigns in which the Marines and Imperial Guard fight together is that they tend to work the normal troops as hard as their Super-Soldier battle brothers, often with fatal results.
    • Common Imperial Guard tactics employed usually boil down to "throw men at it by the regiment like a battering ram until it breaks." A noted battle cry of commissars is, "We will drown them in our blood and crush them under the weight of our own dead!"
    • Every Imperial Guard officer above Lieutenant (and sometimes below) is either incompetent, a jerk, a glory hound, cowardly, or any combination of those. This goes up even into the Munitorium.
    • The officers of the Death Korps of Krieg are a weird subversion- they are possibly the most brutal commanders in the Imperium and treat their men like they're completely expendable. But the men don't care because they believe they are expendable, a Korpsman's sole purpose is to take an enemy bullet and quietly die to make room for the next one. In Krieg regiments, the Commissar's job is to prevent soldiers getting themselves killed in pointless attacks.
    • A Medal of Dishonor goes to Lord General Lugo, whose first act in Honor Guard is to order Gaunt and his men to step up their attack timetable to retake a holy temple, which subsequently explodes into a warp vortex (long story). He pins the whole thing on Gaunt and assigns Gaunt to lead a convoy as punishment. He shows up again in Sabbat Martyr, where he's playing a minor character from his previous appearance as the reincarnated Saint Sabbat. This time, however, fate bites him in the ass when the girl actually becomes the reincarnated saint (again, long story), and he spends much of the rest of the book standing around looking dumbstruck, which for him, is not much of a stretch.
    • Subverted by Ciaphas Cain, naturally, who is certainly aware of this trope. He treats his men well and while he does genuinely care about them, he finds comfort in the fact that not being like every other Commissar in the guard greatly reduces his chance of being the victim of friendly fire. He actually comments on how a great many Commissars die "heroic deaths" suspiciously far from the front lines. He spent his later years attempting to teach commissar cadets to subvert this trope, with admittedly mixed success (most who are chosen for the Commissariat are simply not the right personality type to be taught how to lead through respect rather than fear). Cain certainly wants to avoid such a fate; "I want to die in a bed, preferably someone else's."
    • Same goes for Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt, who deals with soany straight examples in his career that when he comes under the command of the competent, friendly and reasonably General Van Voytz, he responds like an animal confused why a predator isn't eating him!
    • On the other hand, there's the legendary Lord Commander Solar Macharius, whose armies conquered a thousand worlds for the Emperor in the space of seven years. There's also Lord Castellan Ursarkar Creed of the Cadian 8th, Colonel "Iron Hand" Straken of Catachan, and Commissar Yarrick, who wears a Power Klaw he ripped off of an Ork Warboss, all of whom are competent and admired by their men.
    • In the computer spin-off Dawn of War, Imperial Priests often shout "WE LOST BECAUSE YOU'RE ALL WEAK!" when their squad regains morale.
    • There was Commander Kubrik Chenkov of the Valhallan Ice Warriors is an extreme example of this. His main tactic is sending legions of his own men straight at the enemy base without tank or artillery support or using them to draw enemy fire for his other forces, but unlike most cases, his tactics really work.
    • Similarly, some Space Marine commanders are capable of commanding large-scale operations; Marneus Calgar of the Ultramarines, Azrael of the Dark Angels, and Logan Grimnar of the Space Wolves have all had success in commanding Imperial Guard troops.
  • In Warhammer Fantasy Battle 3rd Edition scenario "Fornerond's Last Stand", the High Elf general Fornerond Breezenimble (who happens to get killed immediately before the actual battle) is described to have been a completely incompetent nincompoop.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War:
    • Orson Perrault, the commander of the protagonists' airbase, is this as well as corpulent, a horrible shot (he doesn't know that how emptying the magazine into the doorway where the targets were when the lights went out is a bad idea), and without giving Wardog Squadron and Pops a chance to explain themselves he assumes them all to be spies. Somewhat mitigated by the fact that Hamilton convinced him that they were spies before they even landed, and that Pops had a past of his own that put him under suspicion.
    • Lieutenant Colonel Ford attempts to land his plane on Sand Island despite the island being under attack and being told to wave off by the base. When Chopper lets slip that he thinks he's completely nuts and/or stupid, Ford threatens to write him up when he lands. It gets cut off when an enemy plane shoots him down.
  • Colonel Mckinsey from Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is a real piece of work that makes Perrault look like a saint in comparison. Unlike Perrault, who is willing to fight on the frontlines when his base falls under attack, McKinsey would rather have a desk job than fight on the front lines. He also hoards all of Spare Squadron’s accomplishments to himself, and will throw any disobedience or criticism, no matter how minor, into solitary confinement. He’s so reprehensible, that even AWACS Bandog doesn’t like him, and in the mission Transfer Orders, Trigger can shoot down his transport plane, and even though it will end the mission in failure, the player will be rewarded 1000 points for it, and Bandog will remark that the cargo was hardly worth protecting.
  • Advance Wars: Days of Ruin:
    • Admiral Greyfield. A complete coward and a sub-par commander whose greatest skills are taking credit for victories, and shifting blame for losses. He threatens execution for any failure to follow his orders to the letter, especially the order to win the battle. His cowardice is so much that he relentlessly hunts down any that don't adhere to absolute rule no matter how many of his own men are sacrificed or caught in the blast of the super weapon used to kill a single dissenting captain, even resorting to executing enemies after surrender. Lin even implied that he was a subpar commander at best and faked his results.
    • "Captain" Waylon (Note the quotation marks), who unsurprisingly ends up working for Greyfield, is another example. After you rescue him and his unit (and he leaves), his wingmen defect and join your unit specifically because he was this but they felt following him was the only way to stay alive in the apocalyptic wasteland.
  • Sergent Reynard in Amnesia: The Bunker is utterly despised by his men for being a needlessly cruel and belligerent bully to the men under his command, with it being implied he gets away with it (and potentially only holds the rank or sergent) because he manages to look good to the officers and is friends with M. Fournier, their commanding officer. He ends up being the first victim of The Beast, actually Lambert mutated into a feral form. Not only did he kill Reynard in a spectacularly more brutal fashion than any of his other victims, but this was before he had fully lost control of himself.
  • Battlefield: We are losing this battle! Start fighting or I will find someone who can! A few games (including some in this series) offer one player on each team a "command" role. Depending on the game, this role's importance varies from pivotal to merely important. Some games (thankfully) offer mechanisms to depose commanders who fit this trope.
  • Dwarf Fortress: Sufficiently unhappy nobles act this way, ordering beatings and hammerings to any dwarf that ignores (or is incapable of fulfilling) their demands. Unsurprisingly, players tend to respond to such behavior with their own form of capital punishment.
  • Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes: Prince Shahid of Almyra sees himself as a military genius, but in truth, he's an arrogant idiot whose strategies boil down to throwing an ungodly amount of troops at the enemy until they're dead. While the army he commands is huge, he has no clue how to effectively maintain it, meaning that most of his men are starving and demotivated. He's also a domineering bully towards them, sending them to their deaths while hurling insults and threats their way.
  • Frostpunk: Your predecessor captain in the Fall of Winterhome campaign was a vicious idiot who is singlehandedly responsible for the city's ruin, and for almost dragging other settlements into it from beyond the grave. First, if you've been playing the game long enough as soon as you start you can realize the whole city's been planned, all by him, in the stupidest of ways you'd only do if you had never played before, and passed the most authoritative, least supportive or helpful laws in the book that you cannot repeal, and loved enforcing them upon the populace. Then he drove the city's vital Generator (the one thing keeping the Antarctic-at-best temperatures at bay) to such extents and ignored so many warnings about it that he damaged it and nearly caused an explosion, and ordered half the city to be executed on the streets for rioting about it. And even after he got dragged out of office and repeatedly shot for being incompetent, the generator was so damaged its eventual explosion became inevitable, forcing everyone to either evacuate on a dreadnought with uncertain destination or freeze to death/get eaten by men freezing to death.
  • In Horizon Zero Dawn, the Nora brave Resh is named acting War Chief of the tribe in the absence of the regular War Chief, Sona, having gone missing during a disastrous reprisal attack against Eclipse after their slaughter at the Proving. Few of the remaining braves and volunteers are happy about it, and certainly not Aloy, whom he has a particular beef against because she is an Outcast elevated to a Brave, and then to a Seeker. Thankfully, there is a quest to find Sona and get her back to take command again.
  • Iron Grip has the Fahrong/Confederacy, where apparently every officer above the Sergeant is this and everybody below it is Cannon Fodder.
  • Lt. Cole Phelps of L.A. Noire is such a Niedermeyer that it actually winds up driving most of the game's plot. Cole being paralysed with fear at a convenient moment ensured that he was the last man standing after a night fighting the Japanese on Okinawa, which made him a war hero and he rose rapidly through the LAPD as a result. His Marines, infuriated at this, decided to steal massive crates of guns and drugs from the military because they thought they deserved to get rewarded as well. Cole's order to burn out an enemy cave that turned out to be a field hospital gives one of his men massive PTSD and he is later revealed as the serial arsonist. This also so enrages the unit's medic that he actually shoots Cole in the back and later goes on to lead the aforementioned heist.
  • Zaeed Massani of Mass Effect 2 was apparently this, considering the fact that all his stories usually end with getting all of his men killed and info discovered in Lair of the Shadow Broker reveals that a major element for his betrayal by the Blue Suns was his inability to ensure loyalty. In fact, he's actually a poor choice for an end-game Fire Team/Distraction Leader.
  • Colonel Henry Favors from Red Dead Redemption 2 is an especially nauseating Neidermeyer; a cowardly, incompetent Drama Queen who humiliated himself and wrecked his career during the Civil War, he somehow got made liaison to the Wapiti Indian tribe in Ambarino, with hopes that he could keep the peace with them. He instead does everything in his power to anger, hurt, and provoke them in an idiotic attempt to start a war where he can “reclaim his honor” and make himself look like a hero to the brass back in Washington. Instead, they send Officer Lyndon Monroe to find out what the hell’s going on, and Favours ends up trying to frame Monroe for treason and murder him to keep his plans hidden. Ultimately, his provocations succeed in causing the war he wanted... only for it to end near-immediately when Favours gets himself (and most of his men) killed in the very first battle.
  • The Sengoku Basara portrayal of Mitsunari is also not far from this. A psychotic individual who was formerly a Sycophantic Servant to his lord Hideyoshi, he expected the same degree of fanatical loyalty. In his case, however, it wasn't so much that he was a jerk more that he's insane and had No Social Skills.
    • Mouri Motonari on the same game is even worse and has been around long before Mitsunari was included. Basically, this is a guy is a complete jerk who pretty much treats his own soldiers as nothing but pawns that he can toss into the middle of fire of his plans, with them dying in friendly fire in his plans that will also decimate his enemy. And he will claim that it's all his genius that brings victory, rather than the commitment and the sacrifices of his soldiers, meaning that he hogs all the glory. The soldiers do not question his authority at all despite the mistreatment, because Motonari is that much of a battle genius that they have no hope of winning if they don't follow his orders. This is also portrayed in gameplay, as Motonari is one of the few characters whose attacks will affect and damage allied troops, a trait shared with the resident Ax-Crazy Sadist monster, Akechi Mitsuhide.
  • Kraze and Kanaan from Suikoden, who you'll grow to hate very much early on in the game. Kanaan is more or less a classic example of a real dirtbag who wants all the glory to himself but hides behind his soldiers. Kraze is more or less the same, but at least he he isn't given the option to be spared unlike most of the Imperial commanders.
  • Snowe from Suikoden IV. He gets severe shellshock in the first battle (on the first shot, no less), abandons his men, and develops a Honor Before Reason complex in order to make up for it. And because of his lineage, gets promoted beyond his competency.
  • Lee Linjun from Super Robot Wars Original Generation 2 quickly makes himself known as a complete jerk. He constantly argues with the pilots (especially Excellen and Katina), is clearly jealous of Tetsuya (even though Lee outranks him and commands a ship), and fully cements himself as a Neidermeyer when he makes it clear that everyone is expendable, and he really doesn't care if any member of the crew lives or dies. Then he just defects to the Shadow Mirrors. Lee apparently lost his wife and parents during the events of the first game (6-months prior) and hasn't had time to deal with his grief. He's too much of an ass for fans to feel much sympathy toward, but it does help explain his irrational behavior.
  • Due to the open-ended nature of the story, it is entirely possible that both brothers in Team Fortress 2 count as this. All of the mercs on both teams start haphazardly next to the other side, and can just run to battle in about 4 seconds, and everybody should die at least once. Given that the announcer seemed to be looking for this setup, it may be the brothers were intended to both become "the Neidermeyer".
  • General Damon of Valkyria Chronicles. A completely inept commander who only attained his rank because of his noble status. He holds all of the militia as Cannon Fodder, possibly all of Gallia's citizenry, as his solution for attacking a notably larger Imperial force is to draft all the citizens they could into the militia and throw them all on a frontal assault. Bastard even had the balls to claim Welkin's victory at Ghirlandaio as his own. Though Selvaria's Final Flame in the citadel made that a sort of good thing.
  • Captain Bannon from World in Conflict is this trope to a T, panicking when faced with opposition his men should be able to handle, whining when fighting at a disadvantage instead of focusing on how to keep the fight going favorably, deriding the player's character for his competence, and shooting enemy infantry who were trying to convey their wish to surrender by waving white flags. In the end, however, he becomes arguably the most heroic character among the Americans followed by the narrative, volunteering to sacrifice himself to a friendly nuclear weapon so the approaching enemy will plow towards him into the blast radius, as retreating would've clued the Soviets in that something was wrong.
  • Commonly invoked in World of Warcraft for various Alliance and Horde commanders. At this point, it's hard to tell whether they are the exceptions or the rule. The actual racial leaders (with the exception of Garrosh Hellscream) tend to avoid this trope, but the player character frequently has to deal with various NPCs/questgivers that do fit the trope, especially on the Horde side.

    Web Animation 
  • Sarge of Red vs. Blue is this type of leader, a bloodthirsty madman whose plans are fueled by his irrational hatred for the lazy and insubordinate Grif and his enemies the Blue team, being the only one to make Serious Business of the otherwise cold war between the two. Nonetheless, he is usually followed by the other soldiers, particularly the kiss-ass Yes-Man Simmons. Or he would be if he wasn't so funny. The best order he's ever given was "Scream like a woman!"
    • Sarge is an awful leader, but a brilliant Mad Scientist. To date: three robots, one with a 10-megaton nuclear warhead hidden inside of it, one cyborg, one weather control machine, and one successful transfer of cyborg's organs into a near-dead human.
    • He does show merit as a leader during several moments in season 8, most notably when he trusts Grif to help him take down Agent Washington, and later to help him rescue The Alpha device and take down The Meta.
    • He spends most of the series as this trope, then Character Development finally morphs him into Sergeant Rock late in the eighth season.
    • Simmons during his brief stint as leader of the Blood Gulch Reds.


    Western Animation 
  • Prince Zuko in Avatar: The Last Airbender started out the series disliked by his crew, as he constantly pushed them while hunting for Aang. He eventually got a little better when Iroh told the crew about Zuko's seriously messed-up backstory, and Zuko risked his life to save a crewmember in the middle of a storm, allowing Aang to escape in the process. Zuko and the crew started to respect each other a little—at least enough for his second-in-command to stop challenging him to fights to the death.
    • Of course, this trope goes without saying for every member of the Fire Nation’s top brass.
  • Dick Dastardly, period, on his own show Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines. The General believes him incompetent (just there to collect flight pay), Zilly tries to shirk his duties, and Muttley isn't above using blackmail to weasel a medal from him. Klunk is the only pilot that gives him an iota of respect.
  • Capt Marcus of Exo Squad is the worst example. He's both a General Ripper and General Failure all rolled into one. His battle plans usually involve rushing to fight a foe without proper planning or preperation, then being overwhelmed by that foe while he either freezes up or panics.
  • Zapp Brannigan of Futurama, who's especially fond of saving himself by sacrificing those under his command. Samples:
    Bender (with his Patriotism Circuits activated): Sir, I volunteer for a suicide mission!
    Zapp: You're a brave robot, son. But when I'm in command, every mission is a suicide mission.

    Zapp: Stop exploding, you cowards!

    Zapp: You see, Killbots have a preset kill limit. Knowing their weakness, I sent wave after wave of my own men at them, until they reached their limit and shut down. Kif, show them the medal I won.
    Kif begrudgingly points at a prominent medal on Zapp's chest.

    Zapp: Whatever it is, I'm willing to put wave after wave of men at your disposal. Right men?
    Dead silence
    Random Soldier: You suck!

    Zapp: We made it through, Kif. How many men did we lose?
    Kif: All of them.
    Zapp: Well, at least they won't have to mourn each other.

    Zapp: Nothing remains now but for the captain to go down with his ship.
    Kif: Why, that's surprisingly noble of you, sir.
    Zapp: No, it's noble of you, Kif. As of now, you're in command! (Flees in an escape pod)
    • Lampshaded when he had to assign Fry (a soldier in that episode) a punishment, we get this exchange, showing that Kif is an even worse boss than Zapp:
      Zapp: Kif, what's the most humiliating task you can think of?
      Kif: Being your assistant.
      Zapp: Wrong! Being your assistant! Fry, from now on you are Kif's assistant!
      Fry: That doesn't sound too ba-
  • Mr. Peevly from Help! It's The Hair Bear Bunch!. Any respect the zoo animals give him is purely tongue-in-cheek.
  • In Invader Zim:
    • Zim is shown to be this type of leader in the episode Hobo-13 in that he needlessly sacrifices his squadmates so that he himself can get to the end of the obstacle course, including using his last remaining soldier as a battering ram to open a door. The Drill Sergeant (ironically played by R. Lee Ermey) who meets him at the end chooses to fail Zim due to his horrendous leadership skills and challenges him into combat in order to pass (which Zim does by cheating).
    • The Tallests are seen as worse than Zim, being a pair of petty, self-serving, and egomaniacal jerkasses, treating everyone beneath them with contempt and mockery, particularly the shorter Irkens. In fact, the Irkens are a race of Neidermyers.
  • Ratty from Mr. Bogus will often fill this role, whether it's bossing around his incompetent sidekick, Mole, or trying to one-up Bogus, without any success.
  • In The Simpsons, Principal Skinner was shot in the back when he was a sergeant in Vietnam when trying to get Joey Heatherton to put some pants on. The depiction of his army career is the same as his current one, just with soldiers replacing Willy. That's assuming he's telling the truth in any of his flashbacks, what with him not really being Seymour Skinner.
  • Star Wars Rebels: Admiral Konstantine, an arrogant and incompetent Glory Hound who only ever accomplishes anything when someone like Grand Admiral Thrawn is babysitting him, which he repays with resentment. This behavior ultimately gets him killed and costs the Empire a vital victory; during the Battle of Atollon, Konstantine is ordered to keep his ship (an Interdictor not meant for direct combat) in a safe position so the Rebels cannot escape via hyperspace, only to instead chase after Commander Sato's carrier when it looks like he's trying to flee, all for the sake of gaining personal glory for taking out the Rebel Leadership. Naturally, it turns out Sato was faking a retreat so he could turn and ram the Interdictor, destroying both ships and opening a path for a single rebel ship to escape and call for reinforcements.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Jedi Master Pong Krell has a reputation for getting more clone troopers killed under his command than any other Republic General. He's rude and dismissive to them, calls them by their numbers instead of their preferred nicknames, and orders them to attack head-on with no cover instead of taking their suggestions of better tactics. He's doing it on purpose, intending to defect to the Separatists after making a dent in the Republic's forces.
  • Steven Universe: Holly Blue Agate from "Gem Heist" and "That Will Be All" is in charge of the Quartz guards at the Zoo, and she seems to have nothing but contempt for them or any other "lesser" Gem (like Pearls and Rubies) while relentlessly sucking up to "higher" Gems (like Sapphires and the Diamonds). Holly Blue's ill treatment of her subordinates leads to them just sitting back and laughing when the Crystal Gems defeat her in a humiliating fashion and escape with a kidnapped Greg in tow. Given how Yellow Diamond describes an Agate's purpose is to "terrify", it seems this behavior is standard procedure for Agates.
  • In The Transformers:
    • Megatron was competent but selfish. This and his ego led him to do quite a few stupid things and abandoning Devastator in one episode. To be fair, it's really Starscream that was made out to be incompetent by the cartoon's writers, though his comic and toy bios show that he is far more brilliant.
    • Starscream himself usually ends up as one of these whenever he's given the reigns. He's no fool, being very book-smart and a skilled fighter, but he's a roundly terrible commander; he often ends up getting betrayed or losing control of his own plots. The comic book Spotlight: Megatron shows the titular character being positively enraged at Starscream after he managed to, in three years of the former's absence, turn the aftermath of what had been a decisive and wide-ranging Decepticon victory into a complete rout that left troops cannibalizing each other to avoid starvation. A later comic, The Transformers: Robots in Disguise, however, would reveal Starscream's true calling: politics.
    • The real gem, however, is Galvatron. This insane psychotic warfreak shot at his own troops and did more damage to his own army than the Autobots. Needless to say, if it weren't for a number of certain extenuating circumstances, the Decepticons would have recycled Galvatron a long time ago, no matter how powerful he was. Said circumstances mainly being that, because of the backstabbing treachery endemic in their ranks, the first thing that would happen when Galvatron got slagged would be civil war breaking out due to there being no clear-cut successor to Galvatron's rank. And this would doubtlessly be fatal to the Decepticons, due to them being stuck on a burned-out world and barely scraping together enough fuel, parts, and ammo to survive from day to day.
    • Sentinel Prime from Transformers: Animated is an example this kind of character among the good guys. Even in his younger days, he had zero respect for his peers, blaming the more responsible Optimus for Elita-1's presumed death (on an excursion that was Sentinel's idea to begin with), and as soon as he gained a command of his own, promptly began treating his men like worthless garbage, causing poor Bumblebee and Bulkhead much pain and suffering. He remains a jerk in the present day, taking every opportunity to viciously mock Optimus and his team's lower positions.
    • Grimlock is occasionally shown to be a bit of a Neidermeyer in the comics when he's put in command of units other than the Dinobots, largely because most Autobots aren't used to doing things The Spartan Way like the Dinobots are and Grimlock being unwilling to accommodate them. When he briefly took over the Autobots he threw the rulebook out the window.
    • Many sub-commanders within the Decepticons fit into this trope, but none moreso than Motormaster, leader of the Stunticons. His team is a big ball of crazy, and he loves to do things like order the silence-fearing Wildrider to remain quiet on missions. The intense loathing that the rest of the Stunticons have for Motormaster causes their combined form Menasor to be utterly uncontrollable as none of his component minds are able to work with their leader's.
  • Yo Yogi!: Dick Dastardly usurps Yogi's position as the head of the LAF (Lost And Found) section of Jellystone Mall and becomes a Neidermeyer to Yogi's friends. Later on, two kidnappers trick him into abducting Augie Doggie and he's now afraid of being sent to prison. He tries to get Yogi's friends to help him rescue Augie but they won't follow him, so he brings Yogi back.

    Real Life 
  • Adolf Hitler. By the end of the War, many of his own men—particularly his generals—wanted him dead more than the Allies due to his repeated strategic blunders (the Allies stopped trying to kill him, fearing someone competent would take his place). Indeed, a few senior officers such as Claus von Stauffenberg, (many of them Junkers-contrary to common belief, the German nobility generally disdained or even outright hated Hitler, who returned the sentiment), participated with a plot to assassinate Hitler in 1944. It failed. On the bright side, it inspired the film Valkyrie.
    • After the defeat in Stalingrad (a defeat that occurred purely due to Hitler's personal strategic intervention) Hitler went from "makes unreasonable demands and interferes in well-made plans" to "detached from reality". The famous stories from his war room are that he would regularly issue orders to units that no longer existed or were so undermanned they might as well not exist, then when his plans didn't work out, would blame the subordinate who was "responsible". Most Generals were lucky enough that they would simply be demoted or put somewhere out of the way (legendary General Guderian was one example), however, some were not so lucky and would be executed for cowardice or "defying orders".
    • One well-known story from the war is that when the Normandy invasion began, Panzer groups sat idly by while the Allies invaded. The reason? Because they needed Adolf's ordered permission to get into the battle. He did not give it until late in the day, because he was asleep. And nobody wanted to be the one to wake him up and tell him the bad news.
  • Captain Bligh had a reputation for this, but it's not really deserved: Yes, he flogged his men, but it was only because flogging was the mandatory punishment in the British Navy at the time. In fact, he was considered lenient compared to the other officers in the Navy. Yes, conditions were overcrowded on the Bounty, but only because Bligh couldn't say no to friends and relatives who needed jobs for their friends and relatives. And when they finally got to Otaheite (later Tahiti), Bligh let his men run around and do whatever they wanted for the five months they remained. The conditions that led to the famous mutiny were largely made out of a desperate need to get his by-now rather lax crew into some semblance of order and competency. In short, the supposed tyrant's greatest crime was being too accommodating.
    • Plus, after their mutiny, the crew returned to Tahiti and began treating the natives little better than slaves. Eventually the natives rebelled and killed nearly all of them.
    • The famed Mutiny on the Bounty was not the last time Bligh faced a mutiny of those under him. His overly strict and by-the-book attempts to enforce discipline when he was made Governor of New South Wales sparked off the Rum Rebellion.
    • Honestly, Bligh actually genuinely aspired to be A Father to His Men. He had served under Captain Cook during Cook's famed expeditions to Hawaii and learned much on how to run a ship under him. He packed foods, such as sauerkraut that were reputed to help ward off scurvy, and as noted above, flogged where legally demanded and not "just because", and often commuted capital offenses to flogging when he could. His failings were a very harsh tongue and something of a taskmaster mentality.
    • As for competence: After being ejected from the Bounty with the crew that stayed loyal, Bligh sailed an overcrowded ship's boat with little food and water and the crudest of navigational aids on a massive journey across open seas to reach modern-day Indonesia, with the loss of only one crew member. The other men on the boat acknowledged that it was due to Bligh's nautical skills.
    • Bligh's discipline also ensured that the sick and weak were not abandoned to their fate but were the first to get fed when the boat's crew managed to kill a seabird etc.
    • This continued in his later stint as Governor of the New South Wales colony, where he was again overthrown by a mutiny, which went down in history as the Rum Rebellion - he was removed by the wealthy citizens of Sydney and their allies in the military because he had been cutting into their profit margins. Specifically, by trying to break the monopoly on rum sales that the New South Wales Corps held, removing corrupt and ineffective officers, generally trying to look after the poorer folk of Sydney. They also thought that Bligh was being too lenient (i.e. not colonialist enough) with the natives.
  • This happens often when the former military people end up in the areas where the less straightforward methods are the norm. A good IT example would be Bob Belleville, Apple's Software Manager for the original Macintosh development team. The guy was an alumnus of the same Xerox PARC lab as were most other Mac people, but his stint in the Navy had shifted his priorities somewhat. He once almost fired one of the critical OS developers over a dispute about the crucial part of software he felt was unneeded and drove the chief OS architect to tears and filing his resignation (during the critical period of the OS development) because of his supposed insubordination. In both cases, only a good chewing-out by Steve Jobs himself made him relent somewhat.
    • A common problem with former military is re-socializing to the civilian world. Once you spend a long enough time in, it takes time to get used to the less formal (in appearance) environment of the civilian workforce. There are reasons why former military are often seen in jobs with known chains of command.
    • People who worked for Steve Jobs and left tend to have this view of him, considering his high standards. But since he led Apple from nearly dead in the water to having more liquid assets than the US government in 10 years, people skirt by this.
  • Douglas MacArthur had the abrasiveness and ego down pat, and his handling of the fall of the Philippines and the Korean War make his competence in doubt. Though it was not well known at the time (the US media loved portraying him as a messiah), MacArthur was more concerned with his personal image than almost anything else. Everything from his famous shades and corncob pipe image to his style of command and administration, from his tenure as Superintendent at West Point to Korea, were designed primarily for his personal glory. As well, he was infamously (within the US Army) prone to shower favor on toadies and surround himself with them and ignore constructive criticism. His hatred of the Navies under his command was also infamous, and after his victory over Japan and tenure as "Shogun" there, he let a lot of his prior flaws bubble to his head and blow themselves out of proportion, which was a major reason why the early stages of the Korean War went as badly for the Western Allies as they did. Ultimately, "Dougout Doug" really was that badass on a lot of occasions, and he did truly care for his men, but it had to be pretty bad for those traits to become less visible than his glory-seeking.
    • In command of Australians, he had none on his staff. In New Guinea, he never visited the front lines and thus never recognized how difficult the terrain was. Which led, on multiple occasions, to his relieving officers who were just about to win their battles because he felt they were doing it too slowly.
    • MacArthur did manage to reform West Point, updating its curriculum for the first time in over a century using the lessons learned from World War I (in which he was a genuinely effective Colonel Badass). His reforms didn't sit well with the Army establishment, which along with his other activities during the interwar periodnote , only tarnished his reputation further. As did stealing credit from subordinates who planned and executed successful operations without MacArthur's involvement, or undercutting other commanders. note  His own personality didn't exactly help matters either: Dwight Eisenhower, his former aide-de-camp, when asked if he knew MacArthur, replied, "Know him? I studied dramatics under him for seven years!"
  • Ernesto "Che" Guevara was like this about half of the time more or less, depending on the source. While he was occasionally known for showing reckless bravery and some decent planning, at other times he was notably incompetent, fled from battle, and generally was a burden to his men. And he was verbally abusive to his men almost all the time and generally showed disdain for "Bourgeoise tactics" that hardly helped matters at all. He is perhaps most infamously known for his "last stand", where according to most accounts he left the rest of his unit to fight it out against the Bolivian soldiers attacking him before surrendering afterwards with two loaded and primed pistols. Though to be fair, he did surrender only after taking two bullets, and his last remaining comrade fought to the end to protect him. Despite leading revolutionaries in Africa, Guevara was overheard disparaging his local African fellow travelers, stating that black people did not have the intelligence to make communism work, and placing Afro-Cubans in his command over the native Congolese.
  • Lord Cardigan of The Crimean War infamy provides a particularly odious example. He purchased the Lieutenant Colonelcy of the 15th Hussars, despite a complete lack of military experience (bypassing the regiment's senior Major, who'd fought at Waterloo and served for 30 years), and almost immediately transferred to the 11th Hussars through disagreements with his officers. Besides being a harsh drillmaster and disciplinarian he frequently antagonized his subordinates, especially those who'd served in India. He shot one officer in a duel, tried to cashier another for serving moselle at a champagne dinner, and had a secretary record the private conversations of his subordinates. Cardigan's wartime leadership of the Light Cavalry Brigade wasn't especially distinguished, leading them on a pointless reconnaissance that achieved little but exhausting the men and losing valuable horses. While he showed courage during the Brigade's famous charge, he turned back immediately after reaching the Russian guns, believing it ungentlemanly to fight amongst private soldiers. Soon after he returned to England and was Kicked Upstairs rather than given another field command.
  • The term 'fragging' refers to dispatching an unpopular military officer with a fragmentation grenade. The reasoning was that bullets could be traced to individual rifles, but grenades could not, and would destroy other physical evidence. Apparently the process was that a verbal, informal mention of difficulties with an officer would be made. The next step was to place a grenade pin on the officer's pillow or another conspicuous place for him to find. If the message still wasn't coming across, a real grenade WITHOUT a pin would be placed in the general vicinity of the officer. In addition, apparently, the standing orders for a squad in Vietnam if their officer was killed was to return to base. Soldiers on a suicidal or otherwise dangerous mission sometimes were able to figure out the math on that one. They would skip the buildup with particularly incompetent, glory-crazed, or just plain abusive officers; if you were a big enough dick to your men or senselessly jeopardized their lives enough, odds are that a live grenade would just suddenly materialize in your tent and explode out of the blue, and no one would have any insight into how it happened.
  • George Armstrong Custer:
    • He was a glory-seeking general that lost his wits, every man in the Seventh Cavalry, and his life in the campaign that led to Little Big Horn. One thing many forget is that he was no longer a general at that point, a rank he had held during the American Civil War. Since that time he had been demoted to lieutenant colonel. His reckless quest for notoriety and glory and increasingly frantic and frustrated behavior was partly an attempt to regain his old rank and turn it to political advantage, no matter how many tribes or soldiers died to get it!
    • However, one incident that is largely forgotten is that Custer almost singlehandedly prevented a massacre when Philip Sheridan ordered an assault against the starved, exhausted, and defenseless remnants of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House. Custer, realizing that the surviving Confederates were in no physical or emotional condition to fight anyone and were completely encircled, rode in front of the Union Army frantically trying to stop the attack. Custer's actions managed to delay the attack long enough for the famous surrender to be negotiated. Custer may have been a psychotic nut case but he had nothing on Sheridan.
    • Custer led a cavalry force of 700 men to take out Sitting Bull and the 800 natives who had left a reservation. Ignoring his scouts (members of the Crow tribe) who told him the village they spotted had thousands of women and children and probably an equal number of warriors, he split his force in half to "trap" the enemy. Custer's own group, about 200 soldiers personally led by him, would end up facing at least 1800 Native American warriors, warriors who had just fought off the other half of his armed force which had attacked the village. The only survivor from Custer's group was a horse called Commanche which had nearly a dozen wounds from bullets, arrows, and spears.
    • Custer had problems even before Little Big Horn: suspension from duty for a year for being AWOL, misappropriation of funds meant for provisions for reservation Indians, and during Reconstruction duty in Texas, he only narrowly escaped being fragged by his own troops (namely, the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry, of which Custer had been given command and who resented his attempts at discipline). He was routinely called a 'dandy' and 'Ringlets' by his men as a result of his obsession with his personal appearance. Little Big Horn itself was the result of Custer's insubordination and happened when Custer and his men deserted their commanding officer (Custer had earlier been denied independent command because of his continued use of his position and his men for political lobbying).
    • At least one historian has suggested that Custer's legendary recklessness was the result of a "Death Wish" caused by Custer's discovery that he was suffering from syphilis, which at the time was incurable, ultimately fatal, and caused delusions of grandeur and obsessive-compulsive behaviour.
  • Soviet General Grigory Kulik had a reputation for being erratic and a murderous buffoon. His personal command motto was: "Jail, or Medal." People under his command who he favored would receive (undeserved) honors, while those he didn't would be arrested for whatever reason he could think of. He would then shout his motto at his 'favored' subordinates to intimidate them if they were starting to displease him. Not only this, he was a stupendously inept officer who had no understanding of tactics and resisted all military innovations (such as tanks, rocket artillery, minefields, and sub-machine guns, all of which were effective). The only reason he survived for so long when other much more competent generals did not was that he himself had the personal favor of Stalin. He finally lost it after the end of WWII, when he was overheard criticizing Stalin. He was soon arrested and eventually executed.
  • There is one story that the sailors aboard a US Navy vessel were lining up for geedunk (ice cream) when two Ensigns shouted "Make way for officers!" and started shoving through. Whereupon Admiral Halsey who had been waiting his turn patiently with every other sailor shouted: "Get back where you belong!" With appropriate sailorly adjectives no doubt.
  • Captain Herbert Sobel, former commander of E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101 Airborne. He was incompetent, petty, a Drill Sergeant Nasty, and a complete Jerkass. Many say that his Moral Event Horizon was raiding his troop's rooms and confiscating everything from magazines to non-regulation clothing. When he was replaced, everybody was happy. While he was almost universally hated by every man who trained under him, those same men almost universally say that it was Sobel who made E Company into the elite unit it was because of his Jerkass, overly harsh treatment. (Yes, the portrayal of him in Band of Brothers is widely agreed to be perfectly accurate.) That being said, he was good at training troops and logistics but was a failure at leading combat operations and keeping the respect of his men. The horrors of the war and his shame of losing command of E Company and his men's respect (hardly anyone kept in touch with him after the war) lead to a botched suicide that left him blind. He died from neglect while in a nursing facility.
    • An even more infamous example from the same war and company (and eventual miniseries) is 1st Lt. Norman Dike. He's been accused of delegating all duty to lower officers and NCOs during his tenure, and for disappearing from the front lines for hours at a time during the Battle of the Bulge; many of the men under (and over) him accused him of simply using the E Company assignment as a way to get "field experience" before continuing his climb up the ladder. Most infamous, however, is his historically documented meltdown during the assault on Foy, Belgium. While trying to lead E Company on the Foy attack, he completely froze up from terror and was unable to give any commands at all, aside from one order for Easy to halt their advance into the town... in the middle of an open field. He was famously relieved of duty by Ronald Spiers, who would go on to lead E Company to victory in Foy. After this incident, Dike was quickly drummed out of the Airborne and was lucky to not be kicked out of the Army wholesale. The Other Wiki implies he had fought bravely and well in Normandy and got wounded twice. It is assumable he had become a Shell-Shocked Veteran. At least one account from the men on the ground in Foy imply that he had been shot which would explain his fear and inaction.
    • Spiers himself had other issues. It was suspected that he murdered several Germans that had been captured. This was especially egregious as one of the captured soldiers was a German American who thought he was doing the right thing by joining his German relatives. He was a bit of a glory hound willing to do anything to get the job done. In fact, Spiers's attitude and actions were encouraged by their superiors and led to a lot of questionable decisions both tactically and morally. He almost executed an American soldier without a trial at one point for shooting a respected superior officer. In Spiers's case, his recklessness worked out in his favor but had the army followed regulations he would have been removed and investigated for war crimes.
  • Hermann Goering, by 1945, was called the most hated man in Germany because of his obsession with fame, glory, Bling of War, and rampant egomania. Given the competition at the time, it's quite an achievement. Göring was a perfect example of The Peter Principle. A brilliant Ace Pilot (22 victories and Blue Max) and a competent wing commander, he found his level of total incompetentness as Reichsmarschall. His desire to have his Luftwaffe deal the killing blow to the BEF instead of the regular army was one of the reasons they were able to evacuate at Dunkirk to fight another day. His later attempt to resupply the trapped 6th Army at Stalingrad by air despite the Luftwaffe never being designed around such a mission, let alone one at the limits of their own supply chain and incredibly harsh winter weather conditions, only resulted in a disorganized mess that not only failed to save 6th Army but cost large numbers of planes and pilots lost in the effort. When the regime was on its last legs, he unsuccessfully tried to usurp power from Hitler at the last second, and was unrepentant during his trial for war crimes, firmly believing history would vindicate him as a German national hero.
  • Captain Holly Graf, commanding officer of the guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens from 20 March 2008 until her relief as a non-judicial punishment on 13 January 2010. Her Neidermeyer behavior includes:
    • When approached for advice by a junior officer, Graf allegedly responded with "Don't come to me with your problems. You're a fucking department head", and later "I can't express how mad you make me without getting violent!"
    • Started a (confirmed) drag race with another destroyer that nearly resulted in a collision; the ships came within 300 feet of each other. To make it worse, when the bridge crew went to sound a collision alarm (so all hands could brace and ready repairs), Graf ordered them to not sound the alarm. Such an alarm, after all, would have to be noted in the ship's logs. That would mean she'd have to explain why she endangered two very expensive ships and a couple hundred lives in a pissing contest.
    • Tired of delays leaving a port, she ordered that the ship accelerate to 25 knots instead of 10, despite being informed it was dangerous to do so. As a result, the Cowpens ran soft aground and mangled the ship's propulsion screws. She then allegedly grabbed a British exchange officer by either the throat or the lapels (accounts differ), and began shouting "Did you run my fucking ship aground?!" She then went on to order the crew to falsify records and claim they were moving at 10 knots.
    • Allegedly covered up the fact that her ship had struck a whale by ordering the crew into lockdown and temporarily terminating e-mail privileges.
    • Graf was such a dick to so many people that the crew supposedly began cheering when another officer arrived on the USS Winston Churchill to relieve and replace her.
    • When the Asst. Secretary of the Navy decided she did nothing to earn anything less than an honorable discharge.
  • Virtually every officer in the Imperial Japanese military, in large part due to their brutal discipline and rigid stratification between enlisted and officer ranks. Imperial officers and NCOs were supposed to make their men fear them more than they feared the enemy. This tended to backfire in the Air services because the more experienced enlisted pilots would simply abandon officers that they didn't like; actual fragging was normally unnecessary since being alone in a dogfight usually meant you were dead meat. According to one surviving enlisted pilot, unpopular officers "often failed to come back."
  • Leslie Gehres, captain of USS Franklin, was a good example of a Captain Queeg. His crew regarded him poorly due to his disciplinarian attitude and open contempt for his crew. When Franklin suffered a pair of devastating bomb hits on March 19, 1945, Gehres had refused to change the ship's readiness level from Condition-3 despite being only 50 miles from the Japanese coast. Antiaircraft guns were unmanned, damage control personnel were eating breakfast, fire pumps were turned off, and fully-loaded aircraft on the hangar deck were ignited by the bombs in a catastrophic explosion. Gehres spent six hours doing nothing of any use while his ship burned and explosive ordnance cooked off inside. Instead, Chaplain Joseph O'Callahan led the firefighting and rescue effort that saved the ship, pulling many wounded men away from the fires by himself, pausing only to issue the Last Rites to the many dead and dying. Gehres later tried to deflect blame by accusing many of the surviving crew of desertion in the face of the enemy for abandoning the ship (a capital offense punishable by death) in spite of the fact that they were forced (or blown) overboard by the explosions and fire. The Navy quickly dropped the charges and swept the accusation under the rug. Gehres received a medal but was never trusted to command a ship again. Chaplain O'Callahan received the Medal of Honor.
  • In World War II General Lloyd Fredendall was one of the original commanders of Operation Torch (the American invasion of North Africa). Once on the ground in Africa Fredendall had his headquarters built 70 miles behind the front lines, which was viewed as cowardly by both the troops under his command and by his peers and superiors. From there he proceeded to issue unsound commands that showed little grasp of military tactics, including a tendency to place infantry in positions where they could not receive decent air or artillery support. By most reports, Fredendall was a swaggering, cocky man who did not listen to his subordinates. Even more unfortunately, his adversary in the campaign was General Erwin Rommel and his famed Afrika Korps. After the American defeat at Kasserine Pass, Fredendall was relieved of command and replaced by George Patton, after which American forces actually started experiencing success in North Africa. The irony is that Fredenhall was an excellent logistician. He was sent back to Stateside, where he made more for the Army logistics than any other general.
  • Italy's own Luigi Cadorna was a strict disciplinarian whose main tactic was to have his men charge into the enemy lines... And he was the commander-in-chief at the start of World War I, succeeding a much more loved general who had died of a heart attack. For obvious reasons, he got ultimately sacked, and his name is still hated in Italy.
  • General Karol Świerczewski was hailed as a hero by post-war Soviet propaganda and made the protagonist of many (completely fictitious) war stories, but in reality, he was an utter General Failure who repeatedly displayed complete lack of strategic skills (employing Hollywood Tactics some of which would make even the actual Hollywood writers cringe) as well as total disregard for the life and well-being of soldiers under his command. On top of that, he was an abject alcoholic who — according to many accounts — even led his battles while drunk. The list of his military blunders is too long to put here, but the worst and most egregious one is arguably the Battle of Bautzen, which took place in the final days of World War Two. Świerczewski, who was in charge of the Polish Second Army at that time, figured he could seize some glory for himself by capturing Dresden ahead of schedule. To achieve that goal, he ignored the directives given to him by his superiors and rushed his armored divisions forward, seeing no need to keep his forces in formation and close to each other. As a result, he needlessly stretched the entire army and formed huge gaps between separate units. Tanks speeding towards Dresden had no support of infantry, which in turn was left behind and had no protection of tanks, while artillery had no proper cover nor could it render support to other units. No second guesses what happened when Germans launched a counter-attack and their recon noticed those gaps. The resulting bloodbath wiped out over twenty-two percent of entire Second Army in but a few days and is still deemed one of the worst and most humiliating defeats in the history of the Polish military. It was salvaged from total disaster only by timely intervention of Marshal Ivan Konev. To make matters worse, Świerczewski never got his comeuppance and was promoted shortly after the battle.
  • Marcus Aurelius Arnheiter, dangerously close to a real-life Captain Queeg. Commanding a destroyer escort during the Vietnam War, he alienated his crew with bombastic religious services, obsessive attention to detail, and harsh disciplinary actions. Like the fictional Queeg, he so alienated his crewmen that they started keeping a log of his irrational actions. Two particular sore points involved the color of Arnheiter's toilet seat and his apparent breakdown in combat. Eventually, Arnheiter's superiors received enough complaints that they relieved him of command. However, Arnheiter appealed the decision and the resultant legal proceedings and press coverage proved a huge embarrassment to the Navy.
  • Patton himself has been accused of being more than a little of a martinet, far too concerned with the dress code in a combat zone (including the fact he demanded, and may even have gotten, front-line infantry to wear their ties), attacking Metz and the Vauban forts without proper preparation and demanding the attack continue after it became clear it was not going to succeed, and finally culminating late in the war with his famous tirade against a soldier who had been shot in the foot for cowardice (said soldier had already won a Silver Star for valor).
    • Sergeant Bill Mauldin's Willie and Joe called him on his uniform obsession multiple times, eventually leading to Patton threatening to shut down Stars and Stripes altogether to stop troops from reading the strip. Eisenhower himself stepped in and shut Patton down over this, and ordered Patton to leave Mauldin strictly alone. Eisenhower understood that the Willie and Joe comics (which depicted a pair of low-ranking infantry soldiers on the front lines) were very good for morale and that Mauldin himself was highly regarded by the enlisted men.
    • Despite his dress code obsession, however, Patton was very much A Father to His Men in every other area. He displayed high favor to the frontline troops of his command, diverting provisions (such as wine, magazines, and any type of recreational material) to them, preferred leading from the front whenever he could afford to and, when on the few occasions when he realized he was in the wrong (such as the aforementioned accusation of cowardice), he would apologize and try to make things right as best as he could. As well, in spite of being somewhat racist (his family did descend from the Confederate South after all), Patton was among the first US Army commanders to show favor toward the African American troops of his command, both through emphasizing their importance and performance as soldiers to even going as far as having black judges assigned to any court-martials involving black soldiers. Generally (pardon the expression), Patton was more of A Father to His Men with some Neidermeyer traits than one or the other.
    • Patton's diversion of provisions had a darker side, however, as he diverted them from other Allied armies. His own army loved him, but everyone else hated him for stealing their food and leaving their men hungry... and unable to advance due to petrol and ammo shortages, leaving Patton's troops the only ones able to do so. This would've been alright if he'd been acting in the general interests of the entire Allied war effort, but 'make me look good' and 'win the war' are not compatible strategic-operational objectives.note  which Sadly, like Joseph Stilwell and Douglas MacArthur, Patton could not (easily) be fired because he had an extremely cosy relationship with the media and was very popular. Had he not died in an auto accident shortly after the end of World War II, he probably would have gone out like MacArthur. Namely, dismissed for being a political liability who put his own military glory first, and global consequences, no matter how dire, second.
  • Where to begin with Sam Hughes, the Canadian Minister of Militia during World War I?
    • When Canada became caught up in The Second Boer War, Hughes nearly ruined the Canadian Minister of Militia's efforts to send a contingent of troops to South Africa by making the plan public, before he committed insubordination as a militia officer by publicly criticizing his commander. He then constantly committed insubordination again when he was actually in South Africa, repeatedly insulting the British commanders until they had enough and shipped him back to Canada. He also developed an unhealthy obsession with the Ross rifle, and repeatedly campaigned for not one but two Victoria Crosses;
    • When the Conservatives under Robert Borden formed government in 1911, Hughes demanded to be made Minister of Militia. Borden had severe reservations about doing so but felt he owed Hughes a political debt. As Minister, Hughes was infamous for his lavish spending on junkets and patronage. By 1913, Borden was so frustrated with Hughes' Small Name, Big Ego behaviour that he wanted to fire him, but didn't think he could;
    • Hughes proved to be an arrogant, bigoted Jerkass Orange Protestant who hated Francophones and Catholics-a very bad thing for a country where Francophones and Catholics were a very large minority. Hughes badly alienated many of those Francophones and Catholics, making them less willing to enlist in the Canadian Forces, further inflaming already-high linguistic tensions when World War I broke out.
    • During World War I, Hughes dispensed government supply contracts to his friends, forcing Canadian soldiers to go into battle poorly equipped with boots that fell apart at the slightest wear, "shield shovels" that failed both as shields and as shovels, and the infamous Ross rifle, which constantly jammed and misfired in the muddy trenches. It got so bad that Canadian soldiers would steal the Lee-Enfield rifles off dead British soldiers whenever they could.
    • Hughes also disposed command positions based on Nepotism rather than merit, including to his Upper-Class Twit son Garnet. Garnet Hughes' Modern Major General performance as a commander led Sir Arthur Currie to consider him incompetent under fire and a danger to the troops he led.
    • Hughes pigheadedly insisted on retaining the Ross rifle as the major Canadian weapon despite its uselessness. Suggesting that it be replaced became a Berserk Button for him. Hughes' general administration was incredibly inefficient and wasteful, and he became loathed by the common soldiers;
    • Hughes' Hair-Trigger Temper led him to insult everyone from the professional soldiers and officers he commanded to civilian critics to even Borden himself, which finally led to Borden firing him. By that point, he was mistrusted by everyone from King George V on down to the common soldiers in the field loudly criticizing him.
  • Virtually every officer in the pre-Russo-Japanese war Tsarist Russian military, because of the brutal means of discipline and strict social class differences. Almost all officers came from the privileged nobility, while the enlisted men were almost all force-levied conscripts. One particular example was Lieutenant Ippolit Giliarovsky on pre-dreadnought battleship Potemkin, whose uppity, cocky and bullying behaviour sparked the mutiny immortalized in Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin.
    • Note that this had changed by World War I, largely as a result of the reforms that came in the wake of the embarrassing stalemate that was the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-5. In 1913, 40% of the Officer Academies' graduates were landless gentry (i.e. families with titles, but little or no money), and another 40% were of the lower-middle class and peasantry. Only 20% of graduates were from land-owning and/or middle-middle-to-upper-class families. This was a drastically lower proportion than in Germany, wherein the Army's officer corps was overwhelmingly aristocratic. Unlike in contemporary Germany, the Imperial Russian army was actually a means for 'upward' social mobility. The Royal Navy officers, who served as liaison officers, were appalled by the Russian Imperial Navy's brutal discipline and the incompetence of the officers. The Russian Imperial Navy used corporal punishments, which had been abandoned already in the Napoleonic times in the Royal Navy. The disaster in the Russo-Japanese war forced the Russians to reform.
    • The Soviet military was markedly better, as the Soviet Union placed extremely heavy emphasis on military preparedness after the 22nd of July 1941 (for understandable reasons). However, a culture of dedovschina ('rule of the grandfathers') developed, whereby senior conscripts were encouraged by the hierarchy to inflict extremely brutal hazing and bullying upon junior conscripts. The practice is responsible for as many as 3,000 deaths per year, although the Russian Defense Ministry classifies most of those as 'suicides'. The practice was partly responsible for the Strozhevoi Mutiny, the attempted defection of a Soviet frigate to Sweden in 1975. Lowering the mandatory service period from two years to one year has eased the problem somewhat, but it still remains endemic to the Russian military even in the post-Soviet era.
      • The Russian military makes zero attempt to investigate the deaths of or get autopsies on its recruits unless they exceed 3 deaths per 500 personnel per month. Even so, the investigations are not renowned for their thoroughness or impartiality.
      • It doesn't help that the Soviet military set the standard for placing "politically reliable" (i.e. regime loyal) officers to high command positions over those who possessed real skills. This resulted in the Soviet General Staff becoming top heavy with Neidermeyers who were more concerned with Bling of War and Miles Gloriosusism than commanding soldiers effectively, in turn leading to the stereotype of communist militaries being led by General Failures who were either fanatical or had gained their position through Party connections (namely through familial relations). An attempted balance for this was capital punishment (such as firing squads) being the standard reprisal for failure (infamous Dmitry Pavlov, whose Western Special Military District bore the brunt of the German offensive in 1941, as a prime example); however, this practice was abandoned soon after first Soviet defeats in 1941, when Stalin learnt that his supply of competent officers is not unlimited.
    • This attitude affected even the competent Soviet Generals, such as Marshal Zhukov. They were aware that if they preserved the lives of their men at the cost of victory, their own necks would be in line. So they would often opt for very costly victories in men and material even for relatively insignificant gains. This would affect their postwar reputations: when Zhukov was in favor, he was the great military leader who won the war; when he wasn't, he was the butcher whose victories were built on a lot of needless sacrifice.
  • In the recently-published book The Generals by Thomas Ricks, the argument is made that the general officer corps of the US Army is overloaded with Neidermeyers (and several from World War Two to Iraq and Afghanistan are described), and it's only because of the competence of the enlisted, NCOs, and good junior officers that this hasn't become more obvious.
    • However, the wheels are starting to come off, and it's too late to tighten the lug nuts. Junior officers and senior NCOs, aware that the military is downsizing and completely fed up with incompetent leadership where the Neidermeyer is far too common, are hitting the door in droves. A great deal of their frustration was succinctly summed up in a devastating article written by an active duty lieutenant colonel. He boldly and honestly stated that a soldier who lost a rifle faced far greater consequences than a general who lost a battle or a war. Further, he observed that generals and admirals who commit rape and sexual harassment are protected by a "good old boys" system that ensures the worst that will happen to them is retirement with full pay and benefits. He ended the article by saying that junior personnel are fully aware that their leadership will throw them under a bus without a moment's hesitation.
    • A huge problem in the modern military now is that hazing and harsh informal punishment is being curbed (which is good), but it's being replaced by sometimes worse legal and negative paperwork issued by petty or incompetent leaders. Such paperwork goes on people's personal record which can cause them to be unable to reenlist or convince to not even try. There's some huge criticism in regards to the fact anyone above the rank of Lt. Col. is promoted by Congress and not actual military personnel. Higher-level officers are often chosen more for their ability to play politics than their ability to lead.
  • A much-disliked pilot in the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm, renowned for bratty manner, overloading his crew with irrational and unnecessary demands, and other failings in human management, insisted his hangar crew rename his plane after his girlfriend. He was not nice about it and did not ask - he ordered. The irritated crew painted the name "Phyllis" on the nose of his plane as ordered. The pilot pronounced himself satisfied. After a discreet interval, the letters "SY-" were painted in front of the name. The pilot did not notice. Everyone else on the carrier did.
  • To US Airmen in Tech School (AF advanced training), "Ropes" often fall under this trope. Basically, they are to the USAF what prefects are to British schools - fellow students who come off as Gung Holier Than Thou Rules Lawyers, and can get you in trouble for even minor violations since becoming a "Rope" gives them a measure of authority to rat their fellow Airmen out to the sergeants.
  • Second Lieutenant William Calley, commanding officer of the platoon that perpetrated the My Lai massacre, was regarded as incompetent (for starters, he couldn't even read a map or compass properly) and there had been discussions already within the platoon of fragging him. It's occasionally been noted that Calley was a product of Robert S. MacNamara's "Project 100,000," which sought to expand the US Army's numbers cheaply by lowering standards across the board. Had it not been for that failed initiative, most agree that Calley wouldn't have even been allowed in the Army, much less put in charge of anything.
    • And his superior, Captain Ernest Medina, was little better. Medina was a martinet who openly harassed Calley, pushing him over the edge. It is suggested Medina himself ordered My Lai to be destroyed. Medina was an excellent NCO but a complete failure as an officer.
  • Braxton Bragg in both US and Confederate service had this sort of reputation, while how much was his fault versus his subordinates like Leonidas Polk is debated, the general image of him at the time was a man who was good at instilling discipline in his men and little else, and often taking that too far. At The Battle of Missionary Ridge he is blamed for placing his cannon and fieldworks at the true crest of the ridge instead of the military crest just ahead, letting Union troops safely take cover within spitting distance of his positions. In his memoirs, Ulysses S. Grant recounts an anecdote from before the Civil War where he was simultaneously commander of a unit at a remote frontier outpost and the posts' quartermaster. He submitted a supply requisition to himself, which he felt duty-bound to reject. He then resubmitted the request, to himself, citing additional reasons as to why he needed the supplies, and rejected it again. Proceeding to realize he was at a personal impasse, he appealed to the post commandant who said of the issue "My God Mr. Bragg, you have quarreled with every officer in the army and now you are quarreling with yourself!"


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Alternative Title(s): Captain Queeg, Hated By His Own Men, Colonel Irritant, Officer Jerkass, Tyrannical Commander


Lennox answered with his life!

The Duke of Wellington calls out Sir Henry Simmerson for his incompetence and cowardice.

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