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Private Cole: Why is it us? Why us?

Colour Sergeant Bourne: Because we're here, lad. Nobody else. Just us.

Sergeant Rock is a tough non-commissioned officer (NCO), usually serving in a position of leadership. The naval equivalent is the Bosun, which usually fills the same role on a ship.

Named for the DC Comics character who first appeared in 1958. Rock served in the European Theater of Operations, was known for keeping his head in the ugliest situations, and for growling a lot of gung-ho sound bites. His page is here.

Sergeant Rock is what The Neidermeyer dreams he is. However, Sergeant Rock differs from The Neidermeyer in that he may be a bully and a blowhard, but he gets the job done while never ordering his troops to do anything he would not be willing to do himself, and thus the troops respect him, while not necessarily being too fond of him personally. Though he would never say We Have Reserves, someone will make damn sure he gets them if and when he ever needs them.

If The Squad is only the size of a squad, he may be the man in charge. Otherwise, he's either helping Ensign Newbie learn the ropes, or making sure whatever Colonel Badass needs done gets done (sometimes both). Whatever the situation, you can be sure Sergeant Rock is right in the middle of the firefight, whatever the odds, and whatever ordnance is being tossed around.

Has a very, very high chance of being Made of Iron.

Compare Drill Sergeant Nasty. The Stern Teacher is more or less the civilian version. Is the military specific version of The Reliable One. Like The Neidermeyer, this character is Truth in Television and often encouraged to be such.

Examples of Sergeant Rock include:

Anime and Manga

  • Cmdr. Richard Mardukas in Full Metal Panic.
    • A better example would be Lt. Belfangan Clouseau.
    • Sagara Sousuke is, as well. Along with being a Drill Sergeant Nasty. Despite being a pretty harsh and sadistic teacher, he does get remarkably good results. Just look at the transformation of the whole army of girly rugby players. He's an even more effective teacher than Gauron, despite Gauron having actually been a reputable and respectable AS instructor at a camp. Sousuke's coaching of Kaname actually managed to make it so that she could best Yu Lan, the assassin that was trained since childhood by Gauron to be a merciless killer.
  • Combat Instructor Captain Nanoha Takamachi of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. Don't be fooled by the girly title; Nanoha can and will vaporize anything in her way, and she expects you to do the same, no excuses. She's respected by her entire unit because they know all their harsh training is because she wants them to be the strongest.
  • Lieutenant Natarle Badgiruel from Gundam Seed, as a foil to the Cool Big Sis / Team Mom Captain Murrue Ramius.
    • Wait she's a lieutenant....making her a commissioned officer....
  • Hiruma from Eyeshield 21 acts like one to his team. He may be a serious Jerkass that his teammates fear, but they all genuinely respect him and are genuinely loyal to him.
  • Batou and the Major can be pretty strict on their subordinates in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex but really care about them and do everything they can to protect them.
  • Lady Une from Gundam Wing, actually called the Iron Lady for her stern and cold demeanor. However, she makes a few questionable decisions (such as holding the space colonies hostage in order to defeat the Gundams), causing her beloved commander Treize to encourage her to "act more gracefully". This causes her to develop a Split Personality which is a Yamato Nadeshiko whose one goal is to serve Treize; by the end of the series she resolves the personality conflict and combines the competence with the kindness to become A Mother to Her Men.

Comic Books

  • The literal sergeant rock in Bizarro Comics Green Lantern Reserves story.

 "Although I am a genderless chunk of stone I expect you to address me as "sir"!"

  • The aforementioned Sgt. Rock of DC Comics, of course, but Kilowog of the Green Lantern Corps also qualifies. Bonus points for also being a former Drill Sergeant and one of the highest ranking members of the Corps.
    • Kilowog's successor as drill sergeant, Stel, is rockier than rock, being made of metal.
  • Parodied by Alan Moore in his series Supreme with "Sergeant Strong and his Gold-Brickin' Dogfaces." Parodied again by Moore in the Image crossover Judgment Day with "Battlin' Baron and his Roarin' Roughnecks." (These also parody Nick Fury and his Howlin' Commandos, but the art style is clearly meant to evoke Sergeant Rock.)
  • Nick Fury started out as this with the Howling Commandos before moving on to become a Colonel Badass.
  • Combat Kelly was another Marvel character who qualified.
  • Cherry in "Sgt. Cherry and her Squealing Commandos".
  • Captain Simon Savage from Captain Savage and His Leatherneck Raiders. Marvel Comics really love this trope.


  • Sgt. Apone from Aliens is practically the trope codifier.
  • Tom Sizemore's Sergeant Horvath from Saving Private Ryan. His reaction to being shot twice is "I just got the wind knocked outta' me, I'm fine."
  • Barnes in Platoon - at least to most of the platoon. Even the Heads respect (and fear) his abilities, even if they want him dead.
  • Colour-Sergeant Bourne in Zulu.
  • Sgt Maj Basil Plumley, from We Were Soldiers, potrayed by Sam Elliott. Straight Up Badass with his .45 Automatic (which he carried because he felt the new, plastic M-16 to be unproven compared to his previous, much more solid-feeling weapons.)


 Sgt. Savage: "Mornin', Sergeant Major."

Plumley: "How do you know what kind of goddamn day it is?"



 Sgt. Savage: "Beautiful mornin', Sergeant Major."

Plumley: "What are you, a fucking weather man now?"



 Col. Moore: "I think you oughta get yourself an M-16."

Plumley: "Sir, the time comes I need one, they'll be plenty lying on the ground."



 Plumley: *standing in the middle of a hail of bullets* "Can't take no pictures from down there, sonny."

Galloway: "Sir, I'm a non-combatant."

Plumley: "Ain't no such thing, today."



  Plumley: *after all the fighting is done* "Now, that's a nice day, Sergeant Savage."

  • Sgt Foley from An Officer and a Gentleman.
  • After learning the ropes from his Drill Sergeant Nasty instructor, Carl Brashear goes on to become a Naval Master Diver and reaches the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer in Men of Honor.
  • Sergeant Major Rawlins, played by Morgan Freeman, in the 1989 movie Glory.
  • In Heartbreak Ridge, Gunnery Sergeant Tom Highway played by Clint Eastwood is made of this trope.
  • The unnamed Sergeant played by Lee Marvin in The Big Red One.
  • Staff Sergeant Nantz in Battle: Los Angeles.
  • Sgt. (later Lt.) David Manning in When Trumpets Fade is a radical deconstruction of this trope. He's definitely cool under fire, and he leads his squad of very green replacements to victory. Of course, he's also a Dirty Coward who tends to get his men killed saving his own hide when he's not shooting them in the back himself.
  • Big Joe (Telly Savalas) from Kelly's Heroes is a veteran sergeant who's got de facto leadership of his platoon thanks to the captain being a lazy idiot who spends more time profiteering than leading. Unlike said captain, Big Joe has earned every ounce of respect he gets from his men.
  • John Styker (John Wayne) in Sands Of Iwo Jima (and about any other war movie John Wayne made).
  • Kevin Costner is this in The Guardian. He is a Petty Officer training rescue swimmers for the Coast Guard. He is something of a Drill Sergeant Nasty and believes in The Spartan Way, but that is because he is a perfectionist about saving lives. He is also Tough But Fair and very much Married to the Job.
  • Sarge from Cars, who is an anthropomorphic World War II army jeep.


  • Literary example: In the later Discworld novels, Detritus the troll becomes the drill sergeant in charge of training new troops, also notable because Detritus is literally made of rock.
    • Played Straight with Sergeant Jackrum in the Discworld novel Monstrous Regiment. While Corporal Strappi (The Neidermeyer and The Political Officer) bullies the weaker members of the squad, Jackrum is protective of them, while pushing the ones he she thinks will push back, at the same time making sure Lt. Blouse (Ensign Newbie) gives the right orders.
    • Also from Discworld, Sergeant-at-Arms John Keel/Commander Sam Vimes in Night Watch.
      • When Vimes isn't standing in for his dead commanding officer in order to repair the timeline, he's more of a Colonel Badass. Vimes' Battle Butler, Willikins, definitely fits the trope, though, when he joins the military in Jingo.
  • In the later Sharpe books, Patrick Harper takes on this role.
  • "Jelly" Jelal of Starship Troopers was a sergeant and fit the trope of getting the job done, whether the troops liked him personally or not.
    • Sgt. Zim also counts, once he takes to the field and captures the Brain Bug.
  • From the Starfist series of books, Hammer Schultz is a perfect example.
    • May be a subversion, since Schultz is a Lance Corporal.
      • Gunnery SGT Bass is a more appropriate persona for SGT rock.
  • Honor Harrington positively revels in this trope, with many examples, including the one of the most memorable Sergeant Rocks around — Sir Horace Harkness.
  • In the Phules Company series, there's a sergeant who literally changed his name, appearance and accent just to emulate the perfect British Sergeant-Major-- and he's not even British.
  • The Mercenary and its sequels, set in the CoDominium universe, has Sergeant Major Calvin, right-hand man to soldier-turned-mercenary Colonel Badass John Christian Falkenberg.
  • Master Chief Petty Officer Tenn Graneet, head gunner on the Death Star, was like this to his men. He wasn't a bad boss at all provided that they did their jobs well.
    • Wedge Antilles might be softer than most examples on this page, being Mildly Military and a Reasonable Authority Figure who will handily forget regulations and rules if it's in someone's best interest. Even so, to the Ragtag Band of Misfits on their Last Second Chance who he forms into Wraith Squadron, he can at times be extremely cruel. He berates and scorns Kell Tainer for cowardice and folding up when people need him; cuts down Tyria Sarkin for attacking another pilot; all but taunts Castin Donn for being uneasy around nonhumans; mocks Myn Donos. It actually helps them shape up, and the same people he's cruelest to, when they make the effort, he is extremely protective. He looks out for them.
  • Richard Sharpe used to be one of these. Sergeant Harper finished the war as one.
  • Dale Brown books have Ranger Sergeant Major Ray Jefferson and Marine Corps now-Master Sergeant Chris Wohl, who won't take any nonsense from their officers.
  • Colonel TR Steele of the Tour of the Merrimack series. Not kind, not polite, but definitely the person you want watching your back when fighting a Horde of Alien Locusts.
  • Gretchen was something of a Sergeant Rock to the other camp followers in 1632.
  • Valiar Marcus from Codex Alera is a somewhat odd example of this trope, because In addition to being an experienced centurion and managing to be given "Valient" as his actual legal name, he's also Fidelius Ex Cursor, a spy
  • Jubal Branch in the Company Z series by J. T. Edson.
    • And Billy Jack from the Civil War series.
  • Alaric the Grey Knight is promoted after the first novel, but he starts as Justicar — their analog of Sergeant. He is little bit more low-key than the trope's standard too. While he gets to be Acting Brother-Captain at the end of the first book, afterwards he is returned to the rank of Justicar. This was because the higher ups distrusted his unusually imaginative and curious mind.
  • Major Rawne in Gaunt's Ghosts is an officer, but fulfills the trope perfectly: he is a ruthless and manipulative bastard who has told his commanding officer (a Colonel Badass) to his face that he intends to kill him, turns his top subordinate into an even more ruthless killing machine, and ran a black market before joining the Imperial Guard, yet is highly respected by his subordinates and his squad is considered one of the Ghosts' deadliest units.
    • Most of the Ghosts fit this trope to some extent. Corbec, despite being a Colonel, is well loved by the men and is always in the thick of the fighting. Other's who fit the trope are pretty much any of the Sergeants (Especially Mkoll) and most of the captains (especially Kolea).

Live Action TV

  • I pity these pretenders! Sergeant B.A. Baracus is THE real example, FOOL!
  • Sgt. Chip saunders (Vic Morrow) in Combat
  • Averted by Master Chief Miles O'Brien of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Miles is very competent and very nice. He is so nice that even his evil twin from the mirror universe is nice. Subverted in that one episode, where Worf was being The Neidermeyer to Miles' engineers. Miles advised him that instead of ordering them around, he allows them to think. Worf ultimately comes to them, and simply asks them to make a weapon for him.
    • In this episode, Chief O'Brien displayed a very real and important function of senior non-commissioned officers, in advising and mentoring a junior officer. In his very gentle way, he also showed Mr. Worf that it was also good to be firm with subordinates at the end of the episode.

 Crewman: It should take us sixteen hours, sir.

O'Brien: Oh, you can do it in twelve.

  • Sergeant Major Jonas Blaine, NCOIC of Alpha Team, The Unit.
  • Master Sergeant Ronald Greer is rapidly on his way to becoming this in Stargate Universe.
  • In The Pacific, Sgt. John Basilone fits this trope, but not as much as badass Sgt. Elmo 'Gunny' Haney.
  • Malcolm Reynolds during the Battle for Serenity Valley. While a milder version of this trope, he wasn't very kind to his men at all during the battle. He did nothing to alleviate their despair at the grim future that awaited them, and he verbally berated at least a few of his men, but they still all followed him to the end, for the most part. That being said, due to Independent High Command being taken prisoner/killed (can't remember which) he wound up with four thousand men under his command. As a sergeant.

Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer 40000 has them in droves — after all, while the usual modus operandi of Imperium's armed forces in We Have Reserves, the world around is so dangerous that you need NCOs to keep their heads level.
    • Gunnery Sergeant Harker of the Catachan Devils is one tough bastard, known for hauling around a Heavy Bolter that he calls "Payback".
    • Colour Sergeant Jerran Kell of the Cadian 8th serves as the loyal bodyguard of Lord Castellan Ursarkar Creed and makes sure that the men under the Castellan's command obey his orders to the letter.
    • Ironhand Straken of the Catachan 2nd is a Colonel, but has the demeanor and attitude down pat.

Video Games


 Johnson: "Alright all you greenhorns, listen up! My name is Sergeant Johnson. When you are not in my presence you can call me anything your degenerate hearts desire, assuming your tiny brains can string together a couple of cuss-words. But while I'm here, you will address me as 'Sir, yes sir!'"

    • The Master Chief qualifies as well — 'Master Chief Petty Officer' and 'Sergeant Major' are the same pay grade. One's just Navy, and the other Army or Marines.
      • Though people who've only played the games would know the Master Chief as more of a One-Man Army, he's shown in the Expanded Universe to be a capable leader (in fact, he's the de-facto leader of most of the Spartan-IIs).
    • There's also the lesser-known Sgt. Stacker during the first game - a milder-mannered counterpart to Johnson who can be identified by his soft cap instead of a proper helmet. But he can think of some pretty funny insults against bad guys.
      • Stacker actually survives through all three games (along with the Australian Chips Dubbo), and another sergeant who shows up in the third game, Reynolds.
        • Depends. Stacker's survival is actually disputed because it's never explained how he got off the first Halo(since he wasn't in Johnson's Pelican) and he even shows up briefly in Halo 3:ODST even though he is supposed to be on "In Amber Clad" with you. Some fans choose treat him as simply a joke character who is meant to stand for many different Sergeants. Even Johnson got this treatment before he was confirmed as canon, simply by his being everywhere all the time.
    • Another one, Sergeant Forge from Halo Wars. He even uses an Energy Sword to kill an Arbiter.
  • Captain Narville from Killzone 2 has a zero tolerance for negativity, but he is respected by his men who knows he takes great risks, and would never ask them to do anything he wouldn't do himself.
  • Captain Price of Call of Duty fame, especially in 4. He may be a jerk, but he cares about his troops, and you have to respect a man with a mustache like that.
    • In the sequel, there's Sgt. Foley, is willing to put himself and his squad at risk to get the job done. In one instance, he disobeys a retreat order so that they could continue to cover evacuating civilians.
    • The first game (and its expansion) has a textbook example in Sgt. Moody, who spends every minute of screentime calming panicking privates, bawling out cowardly medics and performing minor miracles at Captain Foley's request.
  • Matilda in Last Scenario, a rare female example.
  • The Soldier in Team Fortress 2, although he does not necessarily lead either team. He also (mis)quotes and highly reveres Sun Tzu, which should probably qualify him for Cultured Warrior as well.
    • He's also got elements of the General Ripper (violent and paranoid), Colonel Kilgore ("This is not a camping trip, Sheila! This is war, AND I LOVE IT!"), and of course, the Sociopathic Soldier ("I am going to enjoy killing each and every one of you sorry sacks of scum!")

Western Animation

  • Sgt. Rita Torres in Exo Squad.
  • Duke from G.I. Joe.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in 'The Curse of the Flying Hellfish'", Grandpa Simpson is portrayed as a Sergeant Rock; the DVD commentary even notes that World War II-era Abe Simpson was directly based on the Trope Namer.
  • Though he was underused as such, Ironhide from Transformers (the original) was intended as this kind of character. It shows on occasion.
  • Captain Rex on the CG Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie and series, especially in the 1st season episode "Rookies".
  • Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles version of Zim fit this mold (The film and novel versions were rather different characters).

Web Original


  • Cry Havoc's Karcharoth is The Stoic outside of battle, but changes distinctly into a Sergeant Rock when the lead starts flying.
  • The late General Esteban from A Loonatics Tale was such an outstanding military officer in general that, even though he lacked the capacity to address his men in any tone but "enraged bellow", he was beloved and well-respected by the men and women under his command, and in death is well-regarded by both sides of a bitter war during which he served.

Real Life

  • Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller, the legendary United States Marine Corps officer whose service would take him from Haiti and Nicaragua, to the bloody Pacific in World War 2, to the frozen hell of the Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War. He would earn five Navy Crosses for his service and is, to this day, considered the greatest Marine to have every lived. Known for the famous line: "We've been looking for the enemy for some time now. We've finally found him. We're surrounded. That simplifies things." Once he became an officer, he more than qualified as a Colonel Badass, and later, when he became a Marine Corps general, a Four-Star Badass. He is very much a Memetic Badass among the Corps and is the example all Marines aspire to.
  • The members of Napoleon Bonaparte's "Old Guard" could all be considered a Sergeant Rock. These were men who had spent almost two decades of their lives following Napoleon across all of Europe and kicking the ass of anyone who got in their beloved General's way. Their sheer fighting abilities, loyalty, and veteran status were so respected by Napoleon that they were one of the few military units whose members could openly complain in his presence without rebuke. This led to them being known as Les Grognards (The Grumblers). They could also be considered an example of the Badass Army.
  • This is the policy for unit commanders in the Israeli army. The head of the unit is the first guy in and the last guy out.