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A Military Brat is exactly what the name implies: someone who grew up with at least one parent in the military. Sometimes both parents. Tends to crop up a lot in American series and works of fiction.

In fiction, if a character has this as a backstory, you can expect at least one of the following to have affected him or her in some way:

  • Having a very tough, conservative or strict upbringing;
  • Frequent moves and parental absences;
  • Sometimes a parent (often the father) will have died in some war.
  • Lived on a base in a foreign country during their formative years, giving them an excuse for knowing an obscure foreign language or local custom.

While there is definitely a Truth in Television aspect to this trope, it's important to note that:

  • The US military contains several million people at any given time.
  • The four branches each have their own unique cultures.
  • Being the child of an officer is different from being the son of a non-com or an ordinary enlisted man.
  • Military culture changes over time. The US military today is not like it was during Vietnam, which was nothing like it was before the First World War.

Used often in war movies to explain why a character enlisted; the most common sub-explanation of this is that he wants to make his mother/father proud.

See also Circus Brat, which is sort of the opposite.

A related but markedly less Badass version of this (which rarely appears in fiction) are the Foreign Service brats, whose childhoods were generally twisted by hopping around the world behind their parents. The same holds true for children of spies (said children, however, usually think that the parent is actually in the Foreign Service, some other government department, or occasionally some international corporation).

Naturally comes equipped with Dad the Veteran, even if it was Mom.

Examples of Military Brat include:

Anime and Manga

  • Quintessential anime example: Misa Hayase from Macross, as well as her counterpart Lisa Hayes from Robotech.
  • Very common in Gundam series.
  • Kents in Round Vernian Vifam
  • A very common background in most Mecha Anime. In many cases, it reflects on their character's personality and career choices. An example of this would be Ryoko Subaru and her heavy focus on a military career.
  • In a rare Magical Girl example, many from Nanoha, especially the younger Harlaowns, the Nakajima sisters, Vivio Takamachi, etc.
  • Misaki from Divergence Eve. After her father dies in battle she joins to find out what he found in the military.
    • Suzanna also joins to follow the family tradition.


  • Lois Lane from most continuities of Superman.
    • Post Silver Age anyway. Prior to that she was a farm girl with an upbringing very similar to Clark Kent's.
    • Her sister Lucy even more so, since she continues with the whole military thing into her adult life.
  • Rick Flag from Suicide Squad.
  • The modern Batwoman, Kate Kane is one. Her mother was a Intel officer and her father was a Special Forces operator. She planned to follow in their foot-steps, and was a rising star at West Point, being groomed for a leadership position when...
  • Gunn "Gunner" Yage, a TIE pilot from Star Wars Legacy
  • Ninja Joan Driscoll from Amelia Rules

Fan Fiction


  It was the reason Rachel and Patton got along so well. Few people at school understood the life. Their childhoods spent moving from place to place, their fathers being away for long periods of time, having to readjust when their fathers, men they didn't really know, were at home.

  • Francisco from the Halo fanfic The Life grew up as one.

Films — Live-Action

  • Believe it or not, Elmo. But qualifies more for "Military Kid"
  • Stepanek, the "dedicated pain-in-the-butt" character, from Down Periscope was the son of Admiral Winslow, and was rebelling... trying to get dismissed from sub duty. No one realizes the connection until it's openly stated, because the son is using his mom's last name.
  • O-Ren Ishii of Kill Bill was the daughter of a Chinese-American military guy and a Japanese mother. The Bride even refers to her as an "army brat" before going into her story, which had O-Ren's parents killed by Boss Matsumoto and his Yakuza gangsters.
  • The protagonist of The Fast and The Furious Tokyo Drift.
  • Doug Masters and his friends in Iron Eagle.
  • The B.R.A.T. Patrol
  • Zach Mayo and Sid Worley, from An Officer and a Gentleman
  • Janey Glenn in Girls Just Want to Have Fun is the daughter of Colonel Glenn.
  • The Belmont Sisters from Night of the Comet. Mainly invoked as a Hand Wave as to why two valley girls would know anything about assault rifles.
  • Many of the students in Taps, which makes sense as the film involves the cadet corps of a Military Academy taking over their school. This is played for several dramatic moments as at least one parent, an Army NCO who harbors more than a bit of the Shell-Shocked Veteran, tries desperately to convince his son that his schoolboy version of duty and honor may be slightly misguided. It doesn't end well.
  • Lt. Dan Taylor of Forrest Gump. Notable for his family having served continuously since the American Revolution, and having the patriarch of the family get killed in every major war the United States had fought. He doesn't take it well when Forrest breaks the line by saving his life in Vietnam.
  • In In Harm's Way, admiral Rockwell Torrey is third generation Navy.


  • The Great Santini is the Trope Codifier. Since author Pat Conroy was himself was the son of a Marine colonel, the book is an accurate depiction of what many military brats go through, but it's worth reiterating that the military is large and varied and the book presents only one aspect of brat life.
  • Hiro Protagonist from Snow Crash.
  • Ryan Azarcon from the Warchild Series.
  • Kids of older cast members in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. When Han and Leia's three were really young they were kept in an undisclosed location to be safe, and naturally they followed their parents' and grandparents' courses to various degrees. Of course, neither of their parents were precisely military, but they did tend to be busy a lot. Wedge Antilles's two girls are a better example of the trope. One became an Ace Pilot like her father, the other an Intelligence operative like her mother. Aww.
  • The Reacher brothers followed their Marine father from base to base.
  • Several examples in the Honor Harrington series of books, most notably including Admiral Harrington herself (her father being a retired Navy surgeon).
    • Ensign Helen Zilwicki is the daughter of two Naval officers. Her father retired from Naval Intelligence as a Captain and now works for his second (adoptive) daughter, Queen Berry of Torch, as a spymaster. Her mother was a starship captain, who gave her life in battle against a larger force protecting a convoy whose passengers included her husband and daughter.

Live-Action TV

  • Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan from MASH. Her father even makes an appearance in one of the episodes.
  • Jill Taylor from Home Improvement. She can even drive a tank.
  • Sam Carter of Stargate SG-1.
  • Both Tyler and Wendy in The Middleman.
  • The Closer is the daughter of a military man. In an early episode of the first season, her lifelong conditioning to follow orders given by this type of man leads to her losing the case.
  • Carly and Spencer from ICarly. They seem to avert every single stereotype, whether on purpose or the submarine being a good way of getting the parents out of the picture.
  • House's father was a Marine, and everything about House can be explained by that fact:
    • House being a Jerkass: His strict upbringing at the hands of his father (baths in icewater, having to sleep outside of the house, not being allowed to eat dinner if he was so much as a few seconds late) had a definite bad effect on his attitude. It also gave House his issues with authority.
    • House becoming a doctor: While his father was stationed in Japan, he saw a man at a hospital he thought was a janitor. Then he saw the doctors hanging on his every word when they were faced with a difficult case. Turns out, he was a buraku, and was listened to because he was right. This made it much easier for House to justify being a Dr. Jerk.
    • House's distrust of claimed sexual fidelity: He figured out that he wasn't John House's biological son when he was twelve.
      • The real problem was not that House's father was a Marine, it was that he treated his son like a recruit instead of a son. The fact that House wasn't his biological son doesn't excuse that.
  • The X-Files. Dana Scully is a self-described Navy brat; likewise her three siblings, Bill Jr., Charlie and Melissa. However, they don't fit any of the typical stereotypes of being military brats. It isn't implied that Scully's upbringing was especially strict, though perhaps morally so as she was raised a devout Catholic. It's inferred that she moved around a lot as a child, though the only place we know her father was stationed was at Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego--the same place her older brother Bill Jr. is stationed in "Emily." It's also known that the Scully family was in Japan in 1966, but it's unclear whether it was a visit or they were stationed there.
    • As mentioned above, Dana's older brother Bill Jr. was also in the navy, making her nephew Matthew a military brat as well.
  • A.C. Slater in Saved by the Bell, although it wasn't brought up very often.
  • Carole Hanson from The Saddle Club.
  • Star Trek features several. Most obviously, there are the "kid characters" Wesley Crusher and Jake Sisko; the latter defies the Generation Xerox tendency by becoming a journalist and novelist instead of joining Starfleet.
    • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Geordi LaForge is explicitly described as a "Starfleet brat", with both parents in the service, who rather enjoyed his wandering childhood. (Actor Allusion: LeVar Burton was a real-life Army brat, so LaForge's Starfleet Brat childhood may have been a character aspect addition by the character's actor.)
    • Likewise, Worf's adopted human father was a Starfleet enlisted man, who is very proud of his officer son.
    • Background material and the new movie put James Kirk's father and mother in Starfleet as well.
    • Lots of characters in Star Trek: Voyager. Among the main cast, we have Tom Paris, a less than ideal admiral's son. Likewise Kathryn Janeway, also an admiral's daughter, though considerably less rebellious. Tie-in novels state that B'Elanna Torres' father was a human Starfleet engineer (thus partially invoking Generation Xerox), who fell in love with her Klingon mother while deployed on space duty. Recurring characters with the Brat background include Naomi Wildman, the daughter of one of the Science Department ensigns, who is actually born aboard Voyager.
    • Then there's Malcolm Reed who's family has been in the Royal Navy for three generations.
  • Olivia Dunham's stepfather on Fringe was in the Army. On at least one occasion she had to defend her mother from him at gunpoint, which shows how early the toughening up started.
  • Kamen Rider Sting in Kamen Rider Dragon Knight.
  • JAG's Harmon Rabb is a Generation Xerox example (right down to his dad looking identical to him in flashbacks, plus a mustache). His dad being shot down during Vietnam and declared MIA forms a central part of Rabb's character arc as he tries to find out what happened to him.
    • Also the case with most of the rest of the cast - Mac's biggest influence was her Marine uncle, Bud's father was a Master Chief (and he himself fathers four kids of his own with Harriet), Sturgis' father is a Navy Chaplain, and Maj. Gen. Cresswell's daughter is attending the Academy by the time the series ends. Of the main cast members, Chegwidden is the only one who isn't stated to be a military brat or the parent of one.
    • In one episode, JAG also had to locate a former soldier who apparently kidnapped his son. According to the son, the son was a military brat. It gets a bit convoluted when the ending heavily implies that the son was actually the reincarnation of his father's best friend who was killed in action back in the Vietnam War.
  • Captain Parminter in F Troop and Ensign Parker in McHales Navy: both are hopeless schlubs from illustrious military families who are nevertheless bound and determined to somehow carry on their families' tradition of service.
  • Invoked by accident during a game on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, when Ryan claims to be of Dutch origin in a skit, then slips acccidentally into an Irish accent. "We did a lot of moving around, my father was a military man..."
  • Jeffrey Sinclair in Babylon 5. According to his backstory, he comes from a family of them: The tradition of Military Brats started with his grandfather.
    • Further back than that. He stated that Sinclairs had been fighter pilots since the Battle of Britain, making that family tradition 318 years old.
  • Angela Moore in Boy Meets World.
  • The sitcom Major Dad was more-or-less based around this trope, with the titular Major having to adjust to his new lifestyle after marrying a woman with three daughters.

Rock Opera

  • In The Wall Pink is a Military Brat. Which is not surprising as Pink is largely based on band member Roger Waters, whose father died as a soldier in World War II.


  • The protagonist of Sentimental Graffiti met the girls he did because his father was in the military and moved him around a lot as a result.
  • In Mass Effect, one may choose this background for the player's character, Commander Shepard. Not only is it the only background choice where Shepard isn't an outright orphan, but the background specific sidequest involves making a call to Shepard's mother, who is still active-duty and the XO aboard an Alliance capital ship. By the second game, she's a captain, having turned down a promotion to Admiral that she dismissed as a political ploy.
    • To boot, both of your human companions had a father in the Alliance military. Kaidan only mentions his briefly, but Ash talks about her family extensively, both because it's a tradition stretching back several generations...and they were unfairly blacklisted during the First Contact War.
    • Garrus is also one, having his father being a high-ranking member of the turian military. Of course, this is nothing exceptional for the turians as they're a Proud Warrior Race with significant emphasis on merit and duty and nearly every capable individual is conscripted for 15 years of military service.
  • Rinoa Heartilly in Final Fantasy VIII. As one can imagine, her joining a resistance movement to oppose the military in which her father is a general makes things tense.
  • Meryl of Metal Gear Solid has been raised by the army to the point that she felt more comfortable with a gun than a bra, which may also explain why keeping a Desert Eagle magazine in her cleavage isn't a discomfort.
    • Fortune in Sons Of Liberty counts as well.
      • Also Olga Gurlukovich from the same game, and similar to the LET children, she was probably closer to a literal one (its hinted a few times in the game that she participated in various conflicts as a Child Soldier with her father's unit).
    • Don't forget Ocelot, who is the son of two legendary soldiers, The Boss and The Sorrow.
    • Solid, Liquid, and Solidus Snake were also military brats in the most literal sense (They were the clones of the legendary soldier, Big Boss, and as stated in the Novelization (as well as implied in the source material and in Peace Walker), they were also raised by the military from a very early age).
    • Kazuhira/McDonnel Benedict Miller was also revealed to be one (well, kind of. He was basically conceived when his father, a GHQ officer under Whitney, ended up sleeping with a Japanese woman who had to undergo prostitution in order to survive, and his father left before he was even born.)
  • The Sims 2 features a pre-made playable family called Grunt, which has not only three Military Brats (two teen and one elementary-school-age) but a training facility in the backyard.


  • Captain Tagon of Schlock Mercenary.
  • In Anti-Heroes, the backstory of Aldran, one of the main characters, is revealed in a strip entitled... Military Brat.
  • Miko Miyazaki has been mentioned by Burlew to be a product of her upbringing, which was a paladin-flavored variant on this trope. We can probably infer that her parents weren't a great deal better than she was, because even the other paladins can't stand her.
  • In the Modern Arc of Arthur, King of Time and Space, Arthur's foster-father Ector is an ex-serviceman (who gets called back up for Iraq), and both his son Kay and other foster-child Bedivere follow in his footsteps. Arthur doesn't, possibly because he's been influenced just as much by his Hippy Teacher, Merlin (and also because Ector knows he has a Destiny). (Although Ector doesn't appear to be unusually strict or conservative, it's implied Uther was, and the only Flash Back to Contemporary!Uther shows him in military uniform, making Arthur an Army|Brat twice.)

Western Animation

  • Gus Griswold in Recess. Secondary character "Corn Chip Girl" LaMaize is a Navy brat. Griswold and Corn Chip Girl's respective fathers apparently had a bitter rivalry that almost prevented the two from becoming friends before TJ convinced them into putting aside their feud so they could allow Gus and Corn Chip Girl to be friends, although its hinted afterwards that even with their children becoming friends, they still retained a slight rivalry (they were seen arguing about whose children should visit whose house for playtime).
    • Spinelli's mother was also implied to be a military brat (Spinelli, when learning that her parents also embarrassed her all the time, expressed shock because her maternal grandpa was a Navy SEAL).
  • Trixie from American Dragon Jake Long, both her parents are pilots. Her father military, her mother commercial airliner.

Web Original

  • In v2-v4 of Open Blue, freshly graduated Espartanos are frequently assigned to a "parent", and pretend to be Military Brats accompanying said "parents" on a tour of duty in the New World. As of v5, the tykebomb concept has been recycled and they now accompany corporate executives instead.
  • Hank Declan (Lancer) from the Whateley Universe.

Real Life

  • Douglas MacArthur
  • By the same token, John McCain, who is actually John Sidney McCain III--John S. McCain I and II were both four-star Admirals in the US Navy, and he followed them into a naval career as a naval pilot.
    • His son John Sidney "Jack" McCain IV graduated from the Naval Academy in 2009, making for four generations of naval officers in the McCain family. That said, Jack doesn't quite qualify as a Navy Brat, as his father had been a Congressman for four years by the time he was born, and took his current seat in the Senate before Jack's first birthday.
  • Astronaut Michael Collins (born in Rome)
  • Julianne Moore
  • Victoria Prinicipal (born in Japan)
  • John Denver (born at Roswell!)
  • Pam Grier
  • Mark Hamill
  • Swoosie Kurtz (named for her father's airplane)
  • Patton Oswalt
  • Pricilla Presley
  • Jeri Ryan
  • Robert Griffin III
  • Norman Schwarzkopf. Although born in New Jersey, he spent much of his youth in Iran, where his father, Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr., was a senior military advisor to the Iranian government and the CIA.[1]
  • Bruce Willis (born in Germany)
  • Cage
  • Stewart Copeland grew up in Lebanon because his father was a CIA officer.
  • NBA Center Shaquille O'Neal.
  • Shawn Michaels.
  • Robin Olds
  • LeVar Burton (born in Germany)
  1. One of the elder Schwarzkopf's last acts in Tehran was assisting the CIA and MI 6 in Operation Ajax--a.k.a. the coup that removed the democratically-elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and replaced him with the absolute rule of the Shah--which ended up biting the United States in the ass mightily when the Iranian Revolution toppled the Shah in 1979. This emboldened Saddam Hussein, so he started the Iran-Iraq War; his losses in that war led to his invasion of Kuwait, which led to the very war that the younger Schwarzkopf had to fight. Nice job helping breaking it, Dad! Can you say "Irony"?