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The Squad

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Your typical Marine squad. note  note 

"Look, we know you're new to this command, but the army field manual is very clear on the subject of squad stereotype composition. Every squad must include: 1 quiet religious guy who goes insane, 1 maverick loose cannon who plays by his own rules and dies in a blaze of glory, 1 covert recon operative with a dark past who at first betrays the team but then has a last-minute crisis of conscience and nobly sacrifices himself for the greater good, 1 fresh-faced new recruit who survives but loses his innocence and learns to become a man and 3 or 4 other guys who you don't care about so they can get brutally shot so you can show how serious the war is."

Military and war stories have a number of different levels of focus, from the global strategic level all the way down to squad tactics, and even the plights of individual soldiers on the battleground.

When the focus is at the smaller end of the scale, we get this trope. Very often, this is a squad composed (like a Five-Man Band or The Team) of interlocking character types or roles.

There are quite a few similarities with the types and roles of the Command Roster. The main difference is the Command Roster is a very specific combination of skills that may not be strictly military. The Squad may be a Badass Crew and have a Squad Nickname. If it's made up of women, it's an example of an Amazon Brigade.

The trope's inspiration comes from the fireteam and squad units of infantrymen. Such a setup possibly first appeared in The Napoleonic Wars, where open order skirmishers armed with rifles (at the time, more accurate but slower to reload than standard muskets) depended on close coordination to be effective. They would stealthily get into a good position to fire good shots and avoid the sweeping, densely-formed gunfire that enemy line infantry units provided. The use of fire and movement tactics - some soldiers move towards the enemy, others provide covering fire - also contributed to the reorganisation of militaries into small squads. However, gunpowder in The Napoleonic Wars was "black powder" that would quickly fill a battlefield with thick smoke, which made firing accurately difficult. It was not until World War 1, where breech-loading rifles using smokeless powder had become commonplace, that the average infantryman became far more accurate and quick-firing. Throwing in the proliferation of machine gun crews that would inevitably shoot first when a mass of men approached them, defenders in cover were granted a huge advantage. Military science thus experimented: infantrymen would attack fortified positions in small groups, approaching with methodical covertness. This became the default method of military tactics, and remains so to this day.

Has nothing to do with the quartet of Congresswomen comprising of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Presley, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Talib who are often called "the Squad". Or the 2016 tactical shooter Squad.

Some of those character types and roles:

If the story follows the characters through boot camp, or specialized training, expect to see Drill Sergeant Nasty make an appearance. If the story follows them after the war, expect at least one Shell-Shocked Veteran.


Comic Books

  • Tomahawk: Tomahawk commanded a squad of guerrilla soldiers known as Tomahawk's Rangers.

Films — Live-Action

  • In Rocky Mountain, Captain Lafe Barstow leads a seven man squad on a secret mission for General Robert E. Lee.
    Capt. Lafe Barstow: Six rattle-headed kids and an old man: Kip Waterson, the baby-faced heir to a plantation; Pierre Duchesne, from French Louisiana; Pat Dennison, an old man, really, but a hard, reckless fighter who never gave ground while he lived; Kay Rawlins from the Mississippi steamboats, a rough unfriendly man as the Indians now found out; Jimmy Wheat, a little redneck cropper who could fight like a wildcat with hydrophobia, but who carried a useless little dog for 2,000 miles; Jonas Weatherby, the Texan, a seasoned plainsman at 18; Plank, our other real plainsman, hard and bitter, with chain gang scars on his legs at 22.
  • Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, about the 1942 Doolittle Raid against Japan, focuses on the five-man crew of a single B-25 bomber. A five-man B-52 bomber crew. Lt. Lawson's the leader, the co-pilot likes to play poker, the bombardier is a home movie enthusiast, and Cpl. Thatcher is a hick from Montana who proves unexpectedly tough under pressure.


  • The Gold Eagle Books action-adventure series of the 1980s features SOBS—Soldiers of Barrabas, a mercenary unit secretly employed by the US Government, and the anti-terrorist groups Phoenix Force and Able Team.
  • X-Wing Series: both Rogue and Wraith Squadrons, though Wraith Squadron features more ground/Special Operations missions.

Video Games

  • General Chaos, which makes players choose between four different squad types.


Video Example(s):


The Bad Batch on Clone Wars

The Bad Batch first appeared on an episode of Clone Wars before officially getting their own show.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / PoorlyDisguisedPilot

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