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"Wake up, Trombley. You're missing the invasion."
—Sgt. Brad "Iceman" Colbert

In 2003, Rolling Stone reporter Evan Wright was embedded in the US Marine Corps' First Recon, for the onset of the War in Iraq. Over the next two months, he would have a firsthand view into the lives of some of the toughest men on the planet, the War on Terror, --er-- Saddam Hussein, and the command decisions that put them where they are. Wright compiled these articles into Generation Kill, which was later made into a seven-part miniseries on HBO.

Marines will talk like Marines, complete with lots of jargon and realism. Some examples:

"Dear Frederick, thank you for your nice letter. But I'm actually a US Marine who was born to kill, where you have clearly mistaken me for some sort of wine sipping communist dick suck. And although peace probably appeals to tree-loving-bisexuals like you and your parents, I happen to be a death-dealing, blood-crazed warrior who wakes up everyday just hoping for the chance to dismember my enemies and defile their civilizations. Peace sucks a hairy asshole, Freddie. War is the mother-fucking answer."
—Cpl. Josh Ray Person

"If something happens to me, I want my wife to know the truth. If they say we fought valiantly here, I want her to know we fought retarded."
—Sgt. Eric Kocher

This complete lack of political correctness in favor of realism is a major cause of criticism for both the book and series. Negative reactions tend to be questioning of the material's validity at best, and accusations of it being anti-military, biased and fabricated at worst. The miniseries DVD extras include a discussion with the real Marines, during which this phenomenon is brought up: Ray Person tells a story about meeting people who, despite his own ability to validate the material, refused to believe American serviceman would even swear so much, while Gunnery Sergeant Colbert hypothesized that this mindset among some viewers might be traced back to the tendency of older war movies to depict war as more civilized and glamorous to the point where it's become a case of Reality Is Unrealistic. The author himself has spoken out against media trying to use the book and miniseries as anti-military.

As this pertains to a military operation, expect a lot of military tropes.

See also: Michael Herr's book, "Dispatches", also by a Rolling Stone contributor about the Vietnam War for a similar POV.

Tropes the series provides examples of:


 "Engage those buildings... Move into position! Engage ENGAGE!!! FOLLOW MY TRACERS!"

"He's shooting at scraps of metal."

Can you believe that fucking retard is in charge of people?

  • Adaptation Distillation: When the series changes something from the book, it's either an omission for lack of time and budget, or a way of adapting the same message to the limited time a scene has to make its point. Wright also didn't want people to harass Captain America and Encino Man.
  • Autobiographical Role: Rudy Reyes
  • Battle Couple: Subverted; Lilley gets a letter from his wife telling him she's already signed her enlistment papers by the time he's reading it so she can be closer to him. Given the slant towards realism, her letter informing him of such is all we see of her, and the other Marines comment that she's more likely to end up being sexually harassed working in a motor pool than by his side in combat.
  • Bash Brothers: Most of the Marines have an official or unofficial "battle buddy," whether it's the other half of their sniper team or just their best friend in the platoon.
  • Berserk Button: Has Lt. Fick mentioned that you do not fuck with his men
    • Bilingual Bonus: If you know german: "You do not fuck Fick´s men, for Fick will fuck you."
  • Binocular Shot
  • Blatant Lies: Half of what the translator, Meesh, says the Iraqis are telling the battalion consists of crap he's just making up--due to orders from above.
  • Blood Knight: Lance Cpl. Harold James Trombley
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Cpl. Josh Ray Person
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Person again.

 Colbert: Need I remind you that he is the best damn RTO in the business, as long as you keep him away from your uglier daughters and your smaller livestock.

  • Casual Danger Dialog: Played absolutely straight and taken directly from the actual accounts of the Marines under fire. At one point, Person climbs out of his Humvee, calmly walks into enemy fire, and yells for the rest of the convoy to back up while bullets whiz over his head ("Would you please back the fuck up?!"). Fick does this soon after when he dives out of his Humvee to run between them all and personally give them directions on how to fix the traffic jam, once it becomes apparent that radio communication is just causing confusion. Listen closely and you'll even hear Gunny Wynn express surprise.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Discussed in the final episode as one of the reasons that Captain America wasn't removed from command even after everything that he did. The chains weren't on him, in case you were wondering.
  • Cold Sniper: Sgt. Larry Shawn "Pappy" Patrick, Sgt. Ken Sutherby, and to a lesser extent, Sgt. Brad Colbert, who while he doesn't have the gun, he certainly has the mentality. When Pappy is asked about his kills, he even says that all he felt was "recoil".
    • That might be a reference. There was a news interview on live national television around when this series was made where a sniper answered a reporter asking "What do you feel whe you shoot a terrorist?" by shrugging his shoulders and replying "Recoil"
    • Fruity Rudy, as a spotter, is one half of Pappy's Cold Sniper. Seeing the two of them do their jobs in the second episode is serious Mood Whiplash from how they've been established as characters so far.
      • Rudy definitely qualifies for this trope, for the spotter in a sniper team is actually the better shot.
  • Colonel Badass: Lt. Colonel Stephen "Godfather" Ferrando in the series only. In the book, he's treated as capable, but generally disliked by his men for his recklessness and his unnecessary adherence to the Grooming Standard. In fact, Navy HM2 Robert Timothy "Doc" Bryan posited that Ferrando might have been deliberately trying to get some of his men killed, so his compatriots don't think he avoided actual combat.
    • Ferrando's competence is the most obvious example of what one could say is the 'theme' of Generation Kill; that no one man in a warzone has a full perspective of what's going on. The book notes that Ferrando had never been in combat before and that his previous billet was commander of the parade ground at Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington DC, which he himself described as "the most ceremonial billet in the Corps." Considering this, he certainly could've done a lot worse, and some of the Marines who openly criticized his decisions during the time the book/series covers later learned of variables they weren't originally aware about that made those decisions more reasonable in hindsight.
  • Cultured Warrior: Sgt. Brad "Iceman" Colbert and Sgt. Antonio "Poke" Espera are this to some degree, but Sgt. Rudy Reyes is the unchallenged king of Bravo Company.
  • Cunning Linguist: Meesh is an overweight, nineteen-year old Kuwaiti who wears a Grateful Dead shirt underneath his chemical-and-biological-weapons protection, is a serious dope smoker, and happens to be the entire Battalion's translator.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: The "Combat Jack".
  • Dead Baby Comedy: The Marines start calling Trombley "Whopper Jr", which is a roundabout way of calling him Baby Killer[1]. The name is used affectionately.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: "Gentlemen, from now on we're gonna have to earn our stories."
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Sgt. Maj. John "Coward of Khafji" Sixta.
  • During the War
  • Dysfunction Junction: According to the book, many of the Marines joined to escape life in street gangs, and tales of alcoholic dads and crackhead moms are quite common. Averted often enough, though, that Wright explicitly says they disprove the stereotype of servicemen all joining as a last resort; Colbert and Fick come from loving, middle-class families, Person's father was absent but he had a relatively good upbringing from his mother, while Reyes and Stafford wanted to challenge themselves.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Subverted. First Recon is one of the elite units for the Marine Corps, but the missions they were performing here by tooling around Iraq in Humvees were basic. In the book, it's explained that this was a decision by higher-ups to "confuse" the enemy. The Marines Lampshade and complain about this constantly. Near the end of the series you see what Recon Marines are actually capable of, when they raid an Iraqi office under protection of other Marines for the giggles.
  • "Even The Guys Love you, Fruity Rudy!"
  • Executive Meddling: A rare positive example: the first episode had major issues running over-time, partly because HBO kept re-inserting a lengthy scene that the director and producers were perfectly willing to live without and kept taking out of the cut. In the end, HBO simply allowed the episode to run over the original limit.
  • Fake Nationality: In the miniseries, a few American Marines were played by foreigners. Noteably Swede Alexander Skarsgård? as Sgt. Brad "Iceman" Colbert and Israeli Jonah Lotan as Navy HM2 "Doc" Bryan. Also Moroccan-British Nabil Elouahabi played Kuwaiti translator Meesh.
  • A Father to His Men: Lt. Fick, who, ironically, is younger than some of his troops, nonetheless takes on this role of his platoon. It comes to a head in the sixth episode, when "Casey Kasem" goes over Fick's head and orders one of his teams out to check out a possible tank, saying he's "covering" for Fick (while calling his competence into question and accusing him of cowardice behind his back). The Lieutenant is understandably pissed that he's using his men to get to him.

 Fick: "Get the fuck out of here. And do not ever again mess with my platoon. (...) Fuck that. You can fuck with me all you want, but do not, I repeat, do not fuck with my men."

  • Five-Man Band
  • Funny Background Event:
    • When Sergeant Major Sixta is reprimanding Pappy about his mustache the second time around, another Marine can be seen goosestepping in the background in a Nazi Salute, to mock Sixta, and to remind Pappy that the 'Hitler 'stache' that he wears falls within the grooming standard
    • Random marines quoting The Big Lebowski when Encino Man is informed by his Marines that they consider him a woefully incompetent leader.
    • Manimal dropping a box of grenades, followed by a Marine yelling that "This is why we can't have nice things!"
    • Rudy taking a run in full combat gear while Marines cheer him on, urging him to "slay that dragon".
  • Gallows Humor The Marines use morbid jokes to relieve the stress caused by dealing with death and killing on a daily basis.
  • Glamorous Wartime Singer: Woefully subverted. While Person has dreams of being a rock star, in the miniseries, if they sing, they suck. Played a little more straight with Cpl. Walter Hasser in the book, who apparently has a wonderful country music singing voice (and doesn't like to sing!).
  • Good Looking Privates: Even straight guys think that Rudy Reyes is hot. Remember, you're not gay if you think Rudy's hot. Unless you are gay and think he's hot, or if you're a Het woman and think he's hot. Oh, nevermind. The guy's hot.
  • Genghis Gambit: Sixta is smarter than he appears; he knows exactly how ridiculous it is to keep harping on the Marines for the grooming standard, and not only does he do it so they can hate him as an outlet, he has Gunny Wynn tell him when moral drops so he can time it right.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Actually Portuguese. Sgt. Baptista is a Brazilian immigrant and during times of stress he unconsciously starts radio chattering in his native tongue, which drives the other Marines crazy.

  Person: "Goddammit Baptista! How would he like it if I joined the Brazilian Marines and only spoke English?"

  • Heroic BSOD: This show loves this trope.
    • Brad after Trombley shoots civilians with his ok.
    • Brad again, along with Poke, when a badly targeted airstrike annihilates a hamlet.
    • Brad yet again when Walt accidentally kills a civilian, and Walt immediately after.
    • Ray after Rudy checks him too hard during the football game. Rudy's response is to BSOD even worse.
    • Subverted the first time Trombley kills someone. For a second, he looks like he's about to BSOD, but then:
  • Heroic Fatigue: Everyone is running on little to no sleep, but it is especially significant in a couple cases.
    • Person's dependency on Ripped Fuel allows him to drive the humvee for days on end. It also makes him a manic motor-mouth that drives Colbert crazy but gives Evan Wright plenty of amusing material.
    • We find out it was Lt. Fick himself who authorized Casey Kasem's pointless orders to send sick Marines on patrol, apparently while in a fugue state due to over 72 hours without sleep. Fick looks horrified as he realizes he can't take punitive measures against the Gunnery Sergeant for orders he endorsed; Kasem's evil smirk clearly implies he knew Fick was completely out of it, and took advantage of it.
  • Heroic Sociopath: A strangely literal case in the form of Lance Corporal Harold James Trombley, who joined the Marines specifically to shoot people, showed an unnatural desire to see the results of his kills even from a civilian boy he accidentally shot, and who said that combat was far less nerve-wracking to him than watching game shows at home.

 Person: "That's 'cause he's a psycho. But at least he's our psycho."

  • Hey, It's That Guy! - Ziggy and Eric were marines and Captain America went to military school with Francis - and the reporter is no other than Beecher from Oz.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Completely averted.
    • All of the combat footage seems to be taken from real life tactics and methods, with the outlandish stuff actually occurring, such as Trombley exposing himself without regard for his own life to find a AAA gun trained on the humvee column, or Person getting out of his humvee in the middle of an ambush to yell at the various column drivers to back up and get out of the kill zone.
    • The show possibly has tracer rounds used accurately, too; that is, the tracer rounds are only every couple of bullets, with rounds you can't see going out in-between them. Military fiction practically never gets this right.
    • In Nathaniel Fick's own account of the invasion, One Bullet Away, he actually does point out an instance where Encino Man orders the platoon to attack a structure believed to contain feyadeen. Specifically, they were to attack on foot across three hundred meters of open terrain with no cover, with LAV fire support directly behind them as opposed to to either side, risking massive amounts of friendly fire.
    • "Always run in a serpentine fashion!"
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Everyone in the platoon feel sore at Trombley for an incident where he shot a pair of civilians who turned out to be unarmed children. At the same time, they respect Trombley's skill because he only fired a few shots but still managed to hit both of his targets multiple times center mass at over 200 meters from a moving vehicle. In the book, Wright relates his mixed feeling about the shooting; he's dismayed by the child's injury, but admits that when Trombley was on the gun, he couldn't help feeling a little safer.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: At one point, Person handed Wright his unused rifle and told him to point it out his window. While the fact that Wright was willing to go along with this earned him some respect, they never asked him to do it again because he pointed the barrel at both Person and Colbert's faces while passing it back, with the safety off. Unfortunately, while this is mentioned in the miniseries, the actual scene is omitted.
    • In an interview, Wright confessed that he wasn't so much concerned about shooting a civilian as he was about causing all the Marines to shoot at something that wasn't a target (his potentially accidental gunshot setting off a full-fire from the rest of the platoon). Apparently he never even kept his finger near the trigger to avoid it.
    • There's also the old man at the end of a refugee column who gets killed when a Marine fires off a 40mm smoke grenade to warn off a passing car, only for the grenade to ricochet off the pavement and into the back of his head so hard it looks worse than a gunshot wound.
      • In the book, Wright goes on to state "We got a report saying he was OK and he was last seen enjoying a meal. A marine says this probably means someone tossed an MRE at his corpse." In the series, Poke exclaims (in frustration) that "At least we gave him a happy meal before he died!"
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: In contrast to the hyper-competent shooting of the Marines, the Iraqis can't seem to hit the ground with their hat. Probably explained by the fact that most of the regular army had retreated or deserted, and the fighters the Marines encountered were little more than cannon-fodder.
  • Insufferable Genius: Brad Colbert has shades of this trope, usually condemning religion and the desire to have children, he has a Freudian Excuse though
  • It Works Better with Bullets: After spending several minutes explaining to Captain America and Encino Man why they absolutely must not call in an artillery barrage that will inevitably injure, maim or kill the entire platoon, Lt. Fick eventually gives up and walks away to the disbelief of his platoon, who are rather understandably worried about getting hit by friendly artillery fire. Fick reassures them quickly, however:

  Lt. Fick: We don't have anything to worry about. Captain America is using the wrong authorization codes and the wrong grid coordinates.

  • Kicked Upstairs: Sort of happens to Encino Man and Captain America, the resident Niedermeyers. They get removed from frontline duty and placed into desk jobs so that the Marines can get competent officers who are actually damn good at commanding troops in battle.
    • Averted with Casey Kasem, who, after the events of the book and the series, was promoted into a leadership position, where he not only excelled, but earned the respect of the men who had once had nothing but disdain for him.
    • Encino Man and Captain America were ORIGINALLY intelligence officers assigned to Combat leadership positions. For all intents and purposes, they were put back in their original duties.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters
  • Meaningful Name: Lt. Col. Ferrando's callsign is "Godfather", because he sounds like Marlon Brando from the eponymous movie. When Wright (inevitably) asks him about his voice, he explains that he had throat cancer[2], and had parts of his vocal cords removed during the operation.
  • The Medic: Navy Hospitalman Second Class Robert Timothy "Doc" Bryan.
  • Military Alphabet: If you don't have a basic working understanding of this, the show will destroy your brain. The book, however, is much easier to follow for the non-military.
    • One thing not explained in the miniseries is FPF (when Delta is shooting on a village). Final Protective Fire is only supposed to be used when a Marine position is about to be overrun, and involves setting up a solid wall of ammunition. Hence why the rest of Recon thinks it's hilariously unnecessary.
  • Miniseries
  • Mistaken for Racist: Some of the 1st Recon Marines say quite racist things, directly to or in the presence of the individual who should be personally offended. It becomes apparent, however, that all the Marines are so close to each other that they all basically have N-Word Privileges with each other. Might be played straight when the Marines are talking about the Iraqis.
    • There is one instance where they seem to avoid using N-Word Privileges. The Marines are drinking coffee and calling it "November Juliet." When the reporter asks what that means, all the Marines look around uncomfortably, and then look toward the sole black Marine in that particular group before said Marine finally flatly says: "n****r Juice." After a Beat, the whole group cracks up.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Cpl. Person, whose bizarre behavior is caused solely by an energy drink addiction. Careful with that Ripped Fuel, man.
  • The Neidermeyer:
    • "Captain America" whose activities include hoarding Iraqi fallen goods, spazzing out on comms about being attacked by every little thing, abusing prisoners, demanding the Marines shoot something or someone at random, shooting at random people when in the convoy, and freaking out at the slightest problem.
    • "Encino Man" whose claim to fame includes attempting to order an artillery fire mission in which his men were right in the way (called "Danger Close"), but failing to do so because he didn't have the right protocols, and generally being distressed whenever anyone questions his orders. He actually tries to court-martial a few subordinates after they demanded that he not call in the artillery strike. The book doesn't specifically mention what happened as a result, but Encino Man was eventually removed from duty for another unrelated incident. Lieutenant Fick made Captain at some point between OIF-1 and leaving the Corps, so it's likely that no one took Encino Man or Casey Kasem very seriously in the long run.
    • "Casey Kasem," who as a logistics and appropriations NCO failed to secure enough batteries to run Night-Vision or Heat Sensors or LSA lubricant for heavy machine guns, and seemed to act like a sycophantic suckup to Encino Man. However, "Casey Kasem" later turned his reputation around after the events of the book, when his company commander Captain Brent Morel was injured; he took command of the remaining troops of his platoon and is generally credited for saving their lives.

 Cpl. Michael Stinetorf: "It was weird. In OIF-One I hated him. But as soon as he became our platoon sergeant, it was clear that tactically he knew his shit, he trained us really well, and he was definitely not afraid to fight. I really like the guy."

    • In his own book, Nathan Fick explains why First Recon ended up with such incompetent officers. Recon is primarily intended to send small teams of highly-competent troops into enemy territory to perform recon missions. The company and battalion-level officers are primarily assigned to do organizational and logistics work, and were never really intended to command in the field. The enlisted Marines, NCOs, and platoon commanders are extremely well-trained and highly competent men who are supposed to operate mostly independently of battalion and company-level command. Thus, the book and series showcase what happens when you take a unit trained and organized for a specific mission and then use them for something completely different from their original purpose.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Every time the more reasonable marines try to deal with The Neidermeyers.
  • Not Making This Up Disclaimer: The real Evan Wright often says "this really happened" on the DVD commentary tracks during events that seem more fantastical.
    • In fact, they had to tone down some of the more bizarre shit that Captain America did. Yes, he was actually worse than what was portrayed in the mini series.
    • Another notable example of excluding something on account of Reality Is Unrealistic; when Pappy was shot in the foot and reported it by first referring to himself in the third person with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek, Doc Bryan started laughing because it meant he was okay. The laughter part isn't in the mini-series, because Wright was worried the audience wouldn't quite understand why someone would laugh, given the situation. The miniseries also left out the fact that during the bridge ambush, while Colbert was calmly gunning down enemy troops, he was singing. Yes, in the middle of a giant ambush, Colbert was quietly singing to himself. There is a reason they call him the "Iceman." [3]
    • One of the scenes involving an ambush on the Marines' convoy by an Iraqi AA gun was criticized, as the gun being used in such an ambush supposedly should have killed the entire convoy. In fact, the ambush actually happened this way; Nathan Fick's own book One Bullet Away not only corroborated the story, but it even pointed out that the real-life ambush was even more destructive than it was in the series: they were being attacked by an AA gun with high explosive rounds and mortars at the same time. Even so, no Marines were killed and the convoy wasn't seriously damaged.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity or Genius Ditz: Cpl. Josh Ray Person comes off as either or both of these.
    • Turns out that Person was on Ripped Fuel (heavily laced with stimulants and technically banned in the Marine Corps) for the entire invasion, making him a weeeeee bit crazy. When they eventually settle in Baghdad and Person crashes from going cold turkey, Wright specifically points out that he's a completely different person, and even more competent.
    • In the novel's new afterword after the HBO series, he was completely polite after the actors took him out to dinner... and then, shortly after they left, reverted to his old persona and called them pussies and morons for "getting PTSD from filming."[4]
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Lt. Nathaniel Fick is easily the most put together officer in First Recon. Captain Bryan Patterson might also qualify.
  • Power Trio: First Recon's command staff, consisting of Lt. Col. Ferrando, Sgt. Maj. Sixta, and Maj. Todd Eckloff.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The Marines expected--and possibly anticipated--the well-trained, well-equipped and presumably well-disciplined Fedayeen. Instead, they mostly encountered press-ganged farmers and duped foreign jihadis, who were little more than speed bumps to slow down the American advance while the more valuable soldiers got away.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits
  • Rant-Inducing Slight: Let's hope little wine-sipping Communist dick suck tree-loving bisexual Frederick didn't provide a return address...
  • Real Person Cameo: According to the commentary on the DVD, in the video the Marines watch at the end, the man briefly seen goofing around with the donkey is the real Brad Colbert.
  • Red Shirt: Mostly averted. Out of the main group, you get to know everyone to a certain degree, and the only people hurt were Sgt. Larry Shawn "Pappy" Patrick and Corporal Evan "Q-tip" Stafford, both of whom we got to know fairly well. Both survived, and Stafford's injury was so minor that he wasn't even medevac'ed out. Pappy returned to combat after the events of the book. Played straight in the miniseries with Gunnery Sergeant David Dill and Staff Sergeant Ray Valdez, who were injured in a minefield. We get to know them a bit better in the book, though.
  • Road Movie: The book even compares the humvee Wright rode in to having the dynamic of a family on a road trip, with Colbert the stern father, Person the mother, and Trombley and Wright being the kids messing around in the back seat.
  • Rousing Speech: Subverted.

 "Yo President! Is watchin'! Amerikee! Is watchin'! But more important! Godfather! Is watchin'. Make no mistake! THERE! WILL! BE! NO! FUCK! UPS!"

"It was the enemy who stole your food from you, and you should be really, really mad at them. Before we step off on this next mission, I'm reminding you of who your enemy is. The enemy."

  • Running Gag: The fate of Evan Wright's girl-back-home picture, passed around between the lonely Marines for the whole series.

 "You know that picture of Rolling Stone's girlfriend?"

"I think it's safe to say we all know her *intimately* at this point."

    • Which Person later "pimped out" to someone in Bravo Three for some PEQ-4 Batteries before he got a chance to give it back to said reporter
  • Semper Fi: Subverted to some degree. Although there is an amount of "moto" chest thumping, the series does subvert parts of the Marine Corps myth. Examples: "Captain America," "Encino Man," "Casey Kasem," and who could forget the genius idea of repurposing a reconnaissance unit as a light assault unit in light armored Humvees?

 Person: I hate that cheesy moto bullshit.

Person: You know what happens when you get out of the Marine Corps? You get your brains back.

  • Sergeant Rock: Too many to count. Obvious choices are Sgt. Brad "Iceman" Colbert, Sgt. Eric Kocher and Sgt. Antonio "Poke" Espera. "Casey Kasem" would become this after the events of the novel/TV series.
  • Southern-Fried Private: Played straight with Lance Cpl. Harold James Trombley. Subverted in Cpl. Josh Ray Person; he seems this way at first due to a big mouth and a Missouri accent, but he only fires his weapon once on-screen and not at anything specific, even going so far as to hand his weapon to the reporter. Somewhat justified in that he's 2-1's driver and thus has his hands literally full most of the time, but is still unarmed when he otherwise should be. He's also the most talented radio technician in all of Bravo Company; see Obfuscating Stupidity above.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: ...but only from the perspective of First Recon. Recon fought valiantly all the way up to the bridge at Al-Kut, only to turn around and roll into Baghdad after it had already fallen. Unbeknownst to them, the entire campaign had been a feint. On the other hand, from the perspective of high command, the feint was a smashing success. The enemy bought it hook, line and sinker, and Baghdad was taken with astonishingly low casualties.
  • Sherlock Scan: Sgt. Colbert immediately recognizes a "civilian" as a military deserter from his military-style belt.
  • The Squad
  • Tank Goodness: They rarely show in the book, and only 3 times in the series-one destroyed one in a city, one brief shot of one firing after the night ambush and once when Person is telling Wright how to 'enjoy' a passing tank.

 Cpl. Josh Ray Person "Hey, reporter! If you lay with your cock against the ground when a tank goes by, it feels fuckin' great!"

  • Third Person Person: Lt. Col. "Godfather" Ferrando at times, sometimes with his surname and sometimes his nickname.
  • Those Two Guys: Bravo Company commander Captain Craig "Encino Man" Schwetje, and his senior enlisted man Gunnery Sergeant Ray "Casey Kasem" Griego. Note that despite the show's assertion, Casey Kasem could have been either Ray Griego, or his brother Gunnery Sergeant Daniel J. Griego.
    • Wright specifically avoided naming the "incompetent" commanding officers in his book, specifically because he didn't think that most of them deserved the criticism that would be thrown their way for their actions.
  • Throw It In: An interesting case. The actor who was slated to play Sgt. Rudy Reyes became unavailable. In a stroke of genius, they hired one of their military advisers to play the role... Rudy Reyes himself.
  • True Companions: The men of First Recon seem to be this, even accepting the reporter as part of their team. The reporter is a subversion; this type of character is usually the Butt Monkey to the far more badass troops he's around. This is how it starts, but it quickly switches around when he mentions having written for Hustler, and his status in the close-knit group is further cemented when he stays after his first time being shot at instead of leaving immediately thereafter. In the book, Wright notes that he thought everyone hated him as early as Camp Matilda when Marines would start ambushing him around corners and poking him in the side with their knives; when he saw them doing it to each other as a way of passing the time, he realized it meant they were actually starting to like him.
  • The Watson: Wright. "What's a POG?"[5]; "Why is your voice like that?"
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: Do not bring Charms candy into any Marine vehicle. It's bad luck[6].
  • Worthy Opponent: The Marines acknowledge the fact that many of the Iraqi, feyadeen, and foreign troops who do stand and fight them have to be brave and disciplined men.

 Espera: (gestures to dead RPG soldier still holding his weapon) "Motherfucker died trying to get a round off. Combat discipline."

  • You Look Familiar: Sort of. Eric Kocher played Gunnery Sgt. Rich Barrett. Simultaneously, Owain Yeoman played Sgt. Eric Kocher. David Simon just has a thing for this on varying levels: Jeff Carisalez is also in the series, though he doesn't play himself ala Rudy Reyes, and, humorously, plays an invented character. Inversely, the real Ray Person read for himself, but being five years older, out of the Marines, settled down in life and not on Ripped Fuel, he was far too calm and sane to play the 2003 version of himself.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Cpl. Person blames the entire war on this, claiming that the Iraqis wouldn't need Marines to come in and save them if they just had more sex.
  1. Whopper Jr ---> Burger King ---> BK ---> Baby Killer
  2. despite never smoking, chewing tobacco, or anything else that would likely cause cancer, "Guess I'm just lucky."
  3. Sundown by Gordon Lightfoot, in case you were wondering.
  4. The actors talked about how hard it was to readjust to civilian life after filming.
  5. People Other than Grunts, i.e. non-combat Marines, and viewed with complete disdain by all combat Marines
  6. The book mentions an incident when Trombley quickly and surreptitiously eats a bag of Charms candy, telling the reporter not to tell anyone. Nothing bad happens