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"I'm proud to say I've written another insane admiral. They must put something in the water at Federation Headquarters."
Ronald D. Moore

In fictional military settings, the brass tend to be a bit unstable. Frequently they become so obsessed with their own pet projects that they endanger federation security. Other times their brazenness and/or paranoia almost leads to wars breaking out between rival superpowers. They may be a Conspiracy Theorist with authority investigating the heroes, an Obstructive Bureaucrat making hell for the heroes, or they may be covering up for their own good. They could be a General Ripper obsessed with the enemy, or they could be cowards who fear public exposure of their own wrongdoings.

All this insanity might make their organizations look incompetent, but presumably the Insane Admirals are just the ones we see... 95% of the brass in any given organization are probably decent folk, but spend their time rubber-stamping military contracts and attending state functions, and never do anything 45-minute drama-worthy. Please note this applies only to officers who are at command level, no one below the rank of Naval Captain/Army Colonel/Airforce Group Captain applies here, see The Neidermeyer and Sociopathic Soldier for those.

No real life examples, please.

Examples of Insane Admiral include:

Anime and Manga


  • Colonel Quaritch in Avatar shoots at anyone who non-lethally leaves his faction, and he goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the protagonist after his plans have been completely foiled.
  • Averted in Pearl Harbor, where the Japanese Admiral chooses to withdraw the next wave of attack after the mission is successful.
  • Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now
  • The General in Z
  • From Dr. Strangelove, General Jack D. Ripper.
  • General Leland Zevo in Toys
  • Played for Laughs in Hot Shots with Admiral Benson, an amicable kook who tries to order the whole fleet to turn around and go back when his Admiral's hat blows off while on deck.
  • Subverted in Mars Attacks (Film): General Decker seems like a raging whacko, but he turns out to be right about the Martians from start to finish. (He's still wrong about how to beat them, though.)


  • Anyone with the rank of Colonel or above in Catch-22
  • Captain Queeg in The Caine Mutiny, both the original novel and the Film of the Book. His bizarre behavior eventually causes a subordinate to relieve him of command.
  • Captain Sawyer from the Horatio Hornblower books.
  • General Patton in Harry Turtledove's Timeline-191 series
  • Captain Joak Drysso in the X Wing Series novel The Bacta War
  • Admiral Bell in Varney the Vampire, while protective of his family and a generally decent guy, acts like a complete lunatic in most situations.
  • The Vorkosigan Saga gives us Vice-Admiral Ges Vorrutyer, who combines dangerous military adventurism with a brutally manipulative attitude to his companions' lives, and in his spare time is a serial rapist.

Live-Action TV

  • Star Trek
    • Star Trek: The Original Series
      • Whom Gods Destroy" - Garth of Izar, a former Starfleet Fleet Captain who develops megalomania and ends up in the asylum on Elba II.
      • "The Deadly Years" - With Kirk incapacitated, a commodore takes command of the Enterprise and orders the ship in the Neutral Zone, against Star Fleet regulations.
      • "The Doomsday Machine" - Commodore Matt Decker is driven mad after watching the titular machine kill his entire crew, and commandeers the Enterprise in a vain attempt to destroy it. When that proves unsuccessful, he commits suicide, flying a shuttlecraft into it.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation
      • Admiral Jameson violated the Prime Directive by providing weapons to both sides in an armed conflict.
      • Admiral Norah Satie ruthlessly investigated the crew of the Enterprise-D, believing that there was a traitor among them. When her investigation proved fruitless she became rather unhinged.
      • Admiral Pressman conducted secret (and illegal) tests involving a Federation cloaking device and lied to other officers about it.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
      • Admiral Leyton convinced the Federation President to declare martial law on Earth, carefully maneuvering his way into launching a coup.
    • Really, the list of admirals in Star Trek who are not either insane or talking heads giving generic orders off a viewscreen is awfully short.
    • Ever wonder why, of all five captains in the series, the two most unhinged and crazy (Archer and Janeway) end up as Admirals? Kirk, of course, snaps out of it eventually.
  • Battlestar Galactica Reimagined (2000's): Admiral Cain, of course.
  • Babylon 5: Colonel Ari Ben-Zayn.
  • Major General Steele from the MASH episode "The General Flipped at Dawn"
  • General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay "Insanity" Melchett from Blackadder Goes Forth whose determination to move his drinks cabinet six inches closer to Berlin inspired many a "Big Push".
  • This trope tends to turn up in the Sharpe series, probably the most extreme (although far from unique) example from that series is Sir Henry Simmerson.
  • Those Wacky Nazis in Allo Allo, with any officer above the rank of Colonel really (resident cast members are Colonel Von Strom and General Von Clinkerhoven). Again, the insanity is Played for Laughs.
  • Major Gowen in Fawlty Towers (although a retired officer)-doesn't know what day of the week it is.


  • Played for Laughs in The Navy Lark with a parade of insane Vice-Admirals, and Commodores over the years. However, the actual Admiral in charge, while being a bit out of date and overbearing, was more often than not a Benevolent Boss and on more than one occasion the Only Sane Man.
    • That and his alcoholism dulls his interest in what's actually going on...
  • Major Bloodnok in The Goon Show has some insanity revolving around his gastric problems.

Tabletop Games

Video Games

  • Kefka from Final Fantasy VI was made conspicuously insane after an experiment Gone Horribly Wrong, and becomes obsessed with acquring personal power at all costs. Emperor Gestahl still trusts him as his right-hand man long enough for him to successfully usurp the power of the Warring Triad and set off The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Admiral Greyfield (Sigismundo in the Europe version) in Advance Wars: Days of Ruin.
  • The Valuan admiralty of Skies of Arcadia has a problem with this. Admirals Galcian, Ramirez, and De Loco are all nuts (and evil), while Alfonso is incompetent (and evil) and Vigoro is... eccentric (and not so much evil as amoral). Small wonder the only two competent, sane admirals come off as the sympathetic villains of the lot...
  • One of the personalities your generals can have in the Total War series is this trope.

Web Original

Western Animation


 The General: Good thing the money we paid that farmer with was made from experimental rocket-fuel! *Detonates cash*