Follow TV Tropes



Go To

"No longer will we die the death of a thousand cuts. Peace was the death of the Klingon Empire. Thankfully, it was a mistake that we caught in time. Conflict makes us Klingon. Combat makes us strong. I write my story with my blade, and the ink is the blood of my enemies."
Klingon Chancellor J'mpok speaking to the High Council on his rejection of peace negotiations with the Federation, Star Trek Online's Backstory

When a tense situation between countries, factions, or nations breaks out, there will usually be those who advocate going to war as the only option. They tend to be extremely aggressive and vocal in their position, and may view those who dismiss warfare as an option as cowards or idealists. War Hawks will often appeal to the general population for support to bring pressure on their ideological opponents to declare war.

Just because the War Hawk wants war does not make him/her a bad guy. They may have a perfectly good and logical reason to advocate military use, including stopping a genocidal dictator who has their country in his sights or attempting to end a civil war in a neighboring country that is threatening security in the region and killing thousands, if they are so altruistically inclined. Often they fear that the other side is planning to attack as well and want to beat them to the punch. However, even these War Hawks often run the risk of Jumping Off the Slippery Slope or becoming a Well-Intentioned Extremist who find a flimsy Pretext for War or create a False Flag Operation to gain support for their cause.

Evil War Hawks will want to use the war for their own purposes. They may hope to ride the glory of the war to a higher political office or military rank, or to take over the government entirely. Others will be motivated by simple territorial or economical desires, while General Rippers and Blood Knights advocate for war just to fight against their desired enemy.

The term War Hawk was coined by Virginia Congressman John Randolph in the early 19th century, in reference to American politicians like Henry Clay who were advocating war against Great Britain due to allegations of impressment of American sailors by the Royal Navy and claims that Native American attacks on United States territory were being encouraged by British officials in Canada. However, many of the War Hawks came from inland territories who neighbored Canada and had their eyes on expanding Americas borders northward. The War Hawks' efforts led to the War of 1812.

There is also a related term in US politics, "chickenhawk", levied at people who advocate war but are or have previously been unwilling to serve in combat themselves.

Not to be confused with the video game Warhawk, or a hawk or another Noble Bird of Prey that is used in combat.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Gundam seems to have characters like this in almost every series.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Ali Al-Saachez is a warmongering Blood Knight who incites conflict for no reason than that he enjoys fighting. Before the events of the series, he managed to gather a number of young children into a terrorist organization by wearing the mask of a prophet. To prove their loyalty to 'God' these children were tasked to murder their own parents as an initiation. They were then sent to fight in a hopeless battle in which many were killed. During the series Ali is one of the most vocal supporters of the conflicts that occur throughout the story.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing:
      • Dorothy Catalonia is a subversion. At first she appears to be fascinated by war to the point of obsession. She is a vocal proponent to conflict, frequently clashing in views with Relena Peacecraft. In truth, she's been traumatized by the horrors of war, and her warmongering is merely a façade to hide her insecurities.
      • General Septem in the Alliance government. This gets him used as a pawn by O.Z. and then promptly disposed of.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny:
  • The Mystical Laws: A politician disrupts a Diet meeting at the Emergency Government Headquarters in Japan calling for war against the Godom Empire. The man then yells that the Empire has been increasing its military capacity for over twenty years, recriminating the Diet for their complacency and demanding they take responsibility for their decision not to fight back.
  • Naruto has Danzo Shimura, a man who, despite his insistence that all of his actions were for "the good of Konoha", has done some very shady things to undermine the authority of those he believed were unfit to be in power, including colluding with village enemies and enemy nations, passing on false information in order to sabotage attempts at peace agreements between Konoha and other villages, and (at least in the anime) outright stating that the Third Hokage's philosophy of understanding and forgiveness (which was readily adopted by his successor, Minato Namikaze) would serve to be the destruction of the village.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Walking Dead, Jesus wants the Hilltop to join Alexandria and the Kingdom in a war against The Saviors. Hilltop leader Gregory opposes him because he is worried how potential blowback might affect him if the Saviors win. Gregory is eventually overthrown by Jesus supporters after trying to side with the Saviors.
  • In Inhumans vs. X-Men, it's revealed that Emma is this. Because the terrigen cloud is killing more and more people as time passes, she feels that destroying it (and by proxy the Inhumans, who have declared they will protect it by force if necessary) is the only humane option and uses her telepathy to push the X-Men into breaking their diplomatic stalemate with the Inhumans. Oddly for the trope, the more peaceful characters' refusal to act nearly dooms their entire species.
  • Batman: The General, a one-time Batman and recurring Tim Drake foe, loves war and manages to get instated as a military advisor in a small country that has constant tensions with the trope namer for Qurac and sets about instigating an all out war with them.
  • Monstress: The Federation Army seems to be led solely by, if not entirely composed of, these kind of figures, who want war with the Arcanics no matter what. This is sharply contrasted by the Federation Navy, which is more reasonable about the cost of war and is working with the Prime Minister to actively try and pursue peace.

    Fan Works 
  • The Mountain and the Wolf: The Wolf is constantly pushing for Daenerys to use violence to further her ends, and secretly arranges for Cersei to have the Golden Company's War Elephants on her side when Daenerys lays siege to King's Landing. He also arranges for Daenerys to attack despite the city surrendering so there'll be a battle, and once it's hers, encourages her to keep going for Take Over the World. Even once his meddling is discovered and he has to flee, he returns to demand that all the armies of the Seven Kingdoms fight him, all in the name of bringing the Chaos god to Westeros.

    Film — Live Action 
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Grima Wormtongue accuses Eomer of this for advocating that Rohan go to war against Saruman and uses it as an excuse to exile him. This is after Eomer turns up with hard evidence that Saruman struck first, namely orc armor painted with Saruman's insignia. This is prevented from being completely stupid because Saruman is controlling Theoden and the actual guards have been replaced with a bunch of thugs.
  • General Decker from Mars Attacks! sees the Martian armada, and immediately calls for all-out warfare. Unfortunately, the President listens to the foppish Professor Kessler, who calls for dialog and mediation. It doesn't end well for the pacifists (of course, the militarists don't fare any better until the discovery of the Martians' Weaksauce Weakness either...).
  • Just about all the men in Gone with the Wind want to go to war with the North, except for Rhett Butler, whose explanation of why secession is a very stupid idea falls on deaf ears.
  • Thirteen Days: Many of the Joint Chiefs, particularly Gen. Curtis LeMay, keep advocating Kennedy invade Cuba to forcibly remove the missiles installed there, despite almost certain Soviet retaliation against a US ally somewhere.
  • In Kingdom of Heaven, Guy de Lusignan and Reynauld de Chatillon want the Kingdom of Jerusalem to go to war with Saladin and the Muslims, motivated by religious intolerance and the potential for glory. King Baldwin does his best to keep peace despite Reynauld's attempts to provoke a war, but Guy takes the throne upon Baldwin's death, and he and Reynauld immediately begin doing what they'd wanted to do all along.
  • Media mogul Elliot Carver tries to trigger warfare between the United Kingdom and the Republic of China in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies so that his news network can broadcast all the gruesome fighting and monopolize the industry. He's also conspiring with one of the Chinese generals so that the general will be lionized and thus go up the party hierarchy, with designs on becoming Chairman, and Carver's media company will acquire a near-monopoly in China in return.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness: Admiral Marcus is shown to be a strong advocate of taking action against the Klingons, since he figures it's only a matter of time before they do, and that's before it's revealed that he's actually trying to engineer a war.
  • Both sides of the movie Dawn of the Planet of the Apes provide examples:
    • On the ape side, Koba is a highly vocal advocate for war with the humans; he was a lab chimp while human civilizationnote  was still strong and despises them for it. He contrasts with chieftain Caesar, who was raised by a loving human "father" and wants peace. When a small group of humans comes into ape territory looking to get a nearby dam in operation to restore power, Caesar agrees to let them do it, reasoning that if they don't, the humans will attack; Koba is furious at this, saying that if they allow the humans to regain their strength, they will be slaughtered, and the apes should crush the humans while they are weak. After being denied his war too many times, Koba near-fatally shoots Caesar, burns the ape colony to ashes, and pins it on the humans, rallying the apes to war.
    • On the human side, Dreyfus fits the bill, though to a far lesser extent than his ape counterpart Koba. When his scouting party finds the aforementioned dam, Dreyfus is quick to jump on the solution of simply slaughtering the apes — he apparently still has not quite gotten his head around the fact that they can think and simply views them as aggressive animals. When he sends his second-in-command Malcolm (who is a peace advocate, provoking a contrast similar to Koba and Caesar) to negotiate with the apes, he mobilizes his forces for an attack should the negotiations fail. However, unlike Koba, he is willing to give negotiation a chance.
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country features two groups of war-hawks. The Klingon hawks advocate war against the Federation before resources run out and it becomes impossible, the Federation hawks advocate taking advantage of the new Klingon weakness to solidify their position and be in a better position to dictate terms later. The two groups — with some Romulan assistance, presumably because they'd quite like a Federation-Klingon War weakening both their main rivals — work together to sabotage the peace negotiations.
  • On Fail Safe, Professor Groeteschele is an academic example (not just because he's an academic), insisting on not letting the current crisis go to waste and follow up the accidental first strike that provides the film's plot with a very real second strike by the American nuclear arsenal, hoping to catch the Russians unaware and winning the Cold War. He is quickly put into place by the military higher-ups (who are already horrified enough as it is), calling him out as no different from those he wants to kill.
  • On Doctor Strangelove (the dueling movie to the one above), we have General Buck Turgidson: while he is put in his place by President Muffley and thus tries to provide help to prevent the (accidental) nuking of Russia, he nevertheless was quite willing to send out a second nuclear assault in support of Ripper's to "blow the Russkies away while they had their pants down" (and trying to justify it as it being the plan of action with less mega-deaths). He remains quite the Large Ham war-happy Manchild throughout the rest of the film.
  • Virus (1980) has Henry Silva's General Garland, who continuously assumes that the world-wide viral infection that is killing everybody is a Russian attack and thus constantly asks the President for permission to nuke Russia (even after it's made clear that 1) Russians are also affected and 2) the Russians have an automated defense system that would cause Mutually Assured Destruction if missiles are launched). The last thing Garland does before succumbing to the virus, also having been driven insane, is to arm America's own version of said automated defense system. This causes a whole lot of drama during the final act, when it turns out that an upcoming earthquake will trigger the launches and the nuclear retaliation from Russia will destroy the only place where humans are currently left...
  • Wonder Woman (2017):
    • General Erich Ludendorff is a rogue general of the Imperial German Army during World War 1. Determined to secure a victory for Germany at all costs, Ludendorff does everything he can to prolong the war, even going as far murdering the German High Command to prevent them from signing the armistice. It's little wonder that Diana (wrongly) assumes he is Ares in disguise.
    • Ares himself is essentially this concept in divine form. Seeing humanity as inherently warlike and corrupt, Ares has been taking advantage of their numerous conflicts in order to accelerate their doom in the hopes of creating a more peaceful world.

  • The Arts of Dark and Light has Claudius Serranus and the wealthy senators who sponsor him. They are trying to sabotage the protagonist Marcus' embassy to the elven kingdom of Elebrion and start a war with it, so they and their camarilla can profit off the military contracts and plunder the war will generate.
  • Isaac Asimov's "C-Chute": Colonel Anthony Windham, the oldest passenger, regrets his age/infirmity, but is very willing to stir up anti-Kloros feeling amoung the remaining passengers. His idea for preventing the Kloros from taking the ship is to charge the occupied bridge and activate the ship's self-destruct before they die.
  • Octavian in The Heroes of Olympus is the most vocal in Camp Jupiter about going to war against the Greek demigods, and when Leo, possessed by an eidolon, starts firing on the camp, thereby giving him a reason, Octavian eagerly jumps on it and whips the Romans into a war frenzy.
  • The Lord of the Rings often has the protagonists acting as examples of heroic War Hawks, especially in The Two Towers in which Gandalf must convince Théoden to prepare for an imminent invasion by Saruman and Merry and Pippin must convince Treebeard to join in the war. The key difference lies in that war will come to their door-step anyway whether they like it or not, and the decision that they need to make centers around what kind of war will it be, a defensive war if they prepare themselves or instead a one-sided carnage if they stay inactive.
  • Red Storm Rising has the USSR facing a national fuel shortage after a terrorist attack destroys their biggest refinery. Instead of simply buying oil from the West, on the admittedly not unreasonable grounds that the West would be in a position to bleed them dry if they let on how bad the situation was, they came up with A Simple Plan: Drop Germany in the ordure with the rest of NATO with a False Flag Operation, use the ensuing political chaos to hammer the various European powers flat and then seize the Middle East while they're too punch-drunk to do anything about it. They nearly get away with it, even though the False Flag Operation is a bust.
  • The Reynard Cycle:
    • Duke Nobel is the most notable example from the series. He believes (perhaps correctly) that only superior military force, and the will to use it, will reunite the fractious nation of Arcasia.
    • In Defender of the Crown, Count Terrien calls for war on no fewer than three separate occasions, once against a country that was allied with his country. Cooler heads prevail in all three cases.
  • There are a few examples in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.
    • According to George R.R. Martin, the Knights of the Vale's opinions on the war are varied. Many of them, Lord Yohn Royce in particular, want to go to war to avenge Jon Arryn (who Lysa said was murdered by the Lannisters), but Lysa refuses.
    • Obara and Tyene Sand both want war with the Lannisters after their father dies in a duel with Ser Gregor Clegane. Their proposed wars differ significantly though: Obara wants to invade the Reach and burn Oldtown as a start, while Tyene prefers starting a defensive war by crowning Myrcella Baratheon queen and forcing the Lannisters to try invading Dorne. They stir up discontent among the commonfolk and nobility to try to force their uncle Prince Doran to go along with one of their plans.
  • In Warrior Cats, several characters are like this, but Thistleclaw and Tigerclaw are probably the most notable. Bluestar tells Fireheart that she gave up her kits to become Clan deputy instead of Thistleclaw because if Thistleclaw had gone on to become leader he'd have led the Clan into unnecessary wars. When Tigerclaw is exiled, he insists he would have never have been such a soft, peace-keeping leader and speaks of how he would have made ThunderClan great and feared; Bluestar remarks in response, "And how many cats would have died for it?"
  • Imperator Essachan Sherruk from Eclipse is vehement in his advocacy for international military intervention against Skuurnur after one of their commanders invaded a neutral country. When a refugee fleet of that same country gets attacked, Sherruk again calls for war just on the mere suspicion that it might have been Skuurnur, and to hell with any investigation in the matter. The twist is that he flat-out said that he's only really concerned Skuurnur might curry favor with some defense contractors that he's interested in courting for his own empire.
  • Downplayed in Leia, Princess of Alderaan. The Rebel faction that contains the Organas and Mon Mothma starts off holding to Alderaanian ideals in their early efforts against the Empire. They cut ties with Saw's faction after it assassinates a Moff they wanted to approach, and in so doing almost kills a young Princess Leia. Queen Breha Organa urges her faction to start arming and preparing for violence, much to the dismay of the other leaders, her own husband included. She's a good daughter of Alderaan and hates war but she doesn't believe it will be possible to make a meaningful difference versus The Empire without bloodshed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5 had several:
    • Londo Molari wanted the Centauri to be "great again" and to punish the Narn, leading to his alliance with the Shadows.
    • G'kar was a War Hawk until the Centauri occupation and events caused him to become more spiritual.
    • The Minbari Warrior Caste was this, until the Shadows showed up.
    • Earthforce and President Clarke were desperate to get its hands on any technology to get a military edge, even if it was Sealed Evil in a Can.
  • The Brink: Secretary of Defense Pierce Gray, and nearly half the members of the US Cabinet. As Secretary of State Walter Larson points out, many of them have interests and holdings in the defense industry.
  • The Sontarans from Doctor Who are a entire cloned species of War Hawks, with most of them desiring only to wage war against other species.
  • Daemon Targaryen on House of the Dragon is a mercurial warrior prince who's more likely to approach conflicts at swordpoint or with dragonfire than diplomatically. He joins the Stepstones war of his own accord and helps win the entire thing in the end, decapitates Vaemond Velaryon mid-rant when Daemon's stepson's legitimacy is questioned, then encourages Rhaenyra to strike at the Greens when her throne is usurped while she is more reluctant.
  • JAG: In the episode "Act of Terror", we have Percival Bertram, a wealthy businessman who supports right-wing conservative politicians and brands himself as a super-patriot (i.e. a Warhawk) advocating that the U.S. (pre 9/11) should take gloves of with respect to terrorists to U.S. interests in the Middle East. However, the alleged super-patriot finances terrorism in the Middle East against U.S. interests (supposedly to create a self-fulfilling prophecy to serve his own business interests.)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Galadriel's insistence on hunting down Sauron and even waging war against him pisses off a lot of factions as Season 1 goes on. She is betrayed by her own company, and Gil-galad tries to have her sent back to Valinor to make sure she is stopped. She doesn't go, and unwittingly finds Sauron in human form in the middle of the ocean. Both are saved by Elendil and received as guests in Numenor, where, instead of being diplomatic, she rudely insists again to be given an army to go in the Southlands once she learns Halbrand is the supposed heir to a lost line of kings. Even Halbrand/Sauron snaps at her several times for trying to manipulate and force him to do something he doesn't want, only to fulfill her personal desire for revenge. After Orodruin's eruption, along with the reveal Halbrand is Sauron, she has a Heel Realization about how her restless quest created so many collateral victims.
    Halbrand: As much as I admire your habit of charging at every obstacle in you path, like a colt in full gallop... Has it ever occurred to you [Galadriel] that you're not battling trolls or Orcs, but Men?
    Galadriel: Are you really about to advice me in the act of war?
    Halbrand: No, no, I... [laughs] I wouldn't dare. But then... The Queen's court isn't exactly your usual battlefield, is it?
  • On an episode of Mission: Impossible, the team has a mission involving two politicians who want the U.S. to go to war with the Soviet Union (and, presumably, any other Communist countries for good measure). They stage an elaborate plot where one of them hires a Russian to kill the other, only for the "victim" to fake his death. When the hitman is caught by the police, the "survivor" of the pair tries to make the other into a martyr to stir up a war. However, the team ruins the plan via an Engineered Public Confession.
  • MythQuest: Strong Bear was in favour of continuing the Nez Perce's war with the Blackfoot, despite the fact that the Nez Perce were vastly outnumbered and severely decimated. He manages to sabotage the peace talks for a brief period of time.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has three tragic examples of War Hawks causing a lot of trouble and destruction:
    • The Maquis style themselves as The Resistance and believe that war with the Cardassians is inevitable, and thus wage their own war against them while trying to draw the Federation into it. Instead, they chase the Cardassians into the arms of the Dominion and are wiped out.
      Michael Eddington: We had the Cardassians on the run.
      Captain Sisko: And they ran right into the arms of the Dominion. End of story!
    • Gul Dukat watches as the Maquis and the Klingons wipe the floor with his military. When Kira helps him capture a Bird of Prey with a list of targets and Klingon supply lines, Dukat has a breakdown when the new civilian government wants a diplomatic solution. Cue Dukat staging a one ship war then forging an alliance with the Dominion and then war against the Alpha Quadrant.
    • The Klingons have this as their hat, as Worf points out, the Empire feels it's gone soft. Gowron launched the invasion of Cardassia because they might be under control of changelings on the advice of his chief War Hawk General Martok who's really a changeling, irony at its finest.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the BattleTech universe, the Clans are divided into Crusaders and Wardens, both interpret the vision of their forefather Alexandr Kerensky and his son Nicolas differently. The Crusaders wish to cut a swath through the Inner Sphere to conquer Terra and establish a new Star League, thereby uniting humanity and subduing all others, while the Wardens want to stay out of the Inner Sphere and watch over it as protectors, defending them from other, unspecified entities should the need arise. Inside clan society, ALL Clanners could be considered war hawks (they even have a mech that goes by that name!), owing to their cultural norms of solving every conflict by force if one of wishes so. In the larger scale of things, the Crusaders are the ones seeing war with the "barbaric" Spheroids as the only options to attain their goal.
  • Many hive-level crusades in Warhammer 40,000 are started by particularly vocal priests who whip the population into a frenzy, resulting in Torches and Pitchforks against anyone accused of being a mutant or not faithful enough. Law enforcement either encourages them or arrests them, depending on how productive these crusades are.
    • The Istvaanian faction of Inquisitors believe that conflict strengthens the Imperium, and as such, Istvaanians work to start new border conflicts and disasters. These are people who look at the Imperium, which is embroiled in something like four separate Forever Wars that keep crashing into each other, and go "the problem is that there isn't enough fighting".

    Video Games 
  • Jiang Wei of Shu in the Dynasty Warriors series is constantly pushing for war against Wei. This ends up bringing about the end of Shu, since Wei is stronger and Jiang Wei suffers major defeats.
  • In the Mass Effect series, Quarian admiral and General Ripper Han'Gerrel is the biggest supporter of the quarians going to war with the Geth to reclaim his species' homeworld. Tali's father Rael'Zorah is also a supporter of going to war.
  • Garrosh Hellscream in World of Warcraft becomes increasingly vocal about his support for war with the Alliance throughout the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. When he becomes Warchief in Cataclysm, his goals are realized.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Hrongar, the younger brother of Jarl Balgruuf the Greater of Whiterun, is constantly agitating for the city to enter the Civil War on the side of the Empire. Jarl Balgruuf can even be overheard telling Hrongar to stop pestering him with his war-mongering. Ulfric counts too, with his opposition to the peace treaty with the Aldmeri Dominion (eventually going to war with the Empire over it).
  • In an entire species and culture of harmony and pacifism until provoked, WildStar's Arwick Redleaf is the one who's screaming for war and military action almost as much as the actual Commander.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: Darth Baras and his master Darth Vengean were both dissatisfied with the Treaty of Coruscant which lead to the Space Cold War between the Republic and Empire, wishing to restart the conflict and finish what they started. To that end they enacted Plan Zero, an effort to destabalize the peace and resume active warfare. Ironically, Baras himself was the original author of the Treaty of Coruscant.
  • EVE Online has a voter bloc in the Gallente Federation aptly called the Hawks who advocate this. They are one of the largest bloc among the Gallente population and support the Federation in its expansion and military development.
  • Star Trek Online: In the backstory (detailed in The Path to 2409), Klingon High Councilor J'mpok clashed with Chancellor Martok, pushing a revenge war against the Federation after Nero destroyed a Klingon fleet commanded by Worf. This reached the point where J'mpok killed Martok in a duel behind closed doors and took the chancellorship. Afterwards, he escalated the conflict with the Gorn and conquered them, before turning his forces against the Federation directly. However, outside circumstances eventually forced the Federation and Klingon Empire to resume their alliance.
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 has Colonel Favours who wants to start a war with the peaceful Wapiti tribe in hopes of reviving his already-over military career. This includes numerous war crimes and acts of aggression that ultimately succeed in motivating the braves to attack nearby oil fields. His regiment is massacred and he's killed in the result.
  • Stellaris: Any species with the Militarist/Fanatic Militarist and maybe Xenophobe/Fanatic Xenophobe ethos combined with a military government is this. With the faction editor included in the game, you can invoke this trope by creating an avian species (yes, the game has an actual hawk-inspired one) with the aforementioned ethos and government to make your avian race as Space Warbirds.

    Western Animation 
  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Kaminoans push to keep the Clone Wars alive as long as possible. Besides the fact that Palpatine is tricking the Senate into fighting said Civil War, the Kaminoans also turn a profit due to the fact that they manufacture the Clone Army the Republic uses to wage war.


Video Example(s):


John Bolton

John Bolton is introduced giving a public service announcement in the Oval Office as though he were president, explaining his intentions on declaring war on the entire world for no reason. When Trump walks in, he's quick to hit the Big Red Button on the desk, thinking it's the Nuclear-Football.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / EstablishingCharacterMoment

Media sources: