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Works of fiction with a military setting often use real ranks. However, sometimes, these just don't fit right. Maybe the aliens have to seem more alien, or maybe the setting is so completely different that real ranks just wouldn't fit, maybe it's a result of bad translation, regardless, the ranks are not the same as they are in Real Life.

For real ranks, see Common Ranks, (usually) has nothing to do with Rank Inflation. Related to Random Power Ranking, which is for ranking Power Levels. Also related to Space Navy, which often uses one of these. See also Fantastic Honorifics, which can overlap.

Examples of Fantastic Rank System include:

Anime and Manga

  • Humankind Empire Abh from Crest of the Stars ranks:
    • Enlisted
      • Follower
    • Officers
      • Trainee Flyer
      • Flyer by memorial to the throne
      • Flyer by His Majesty's decree
    • Nobility
  • In the Blue Exorcist, the ranking system of Exorcists is as follows:
    • Paladin
    • Arc Knight
    • Honorary Knight
    • Exorcist (which is split up into...)
      • Upper First Class
      • Upper Second Class
      • Middle First Class
      • Middle Second Class
      • Lower First Class
      • Lower Second Class
    • One of 5 different titles, depending on mastery (however, Paladins must master two). Choices are Knight, Dragoon, Tamer, Aria, and Doctor
    • Exwire
    • Page


 Barley: Khamja combative forces are divided into five ranks based on skill, intelligence and power, kupo. We've got the grunts like the one you just took out, squad captains like me, platoon leaders, liutenants, and finally the division commanders.

    • So does the Jylland Defenders of the Peace. At the top is the Judgemaster, next are the Judges. Somewhere below them are the Officers, Captains and Judgemaster Personnel Guard.
  • In the Service has the Time-Space Administrative Bureau's ranking system with Navy Mages, which purposely skips intermediate ranks from the more normal structure used by other branches and is very much officer-heavy.
    • Mage Recruit: Assigned only to trainees.
    • Mage Specialist: Enlisted solider who has completed training, but has not yet earned the next rank.
    • Veteran Mage Specialist: A Mage Specialist with two years service or being severely wounded in action. Somewhere between a junior sergeant and a very senior corporal.
    • Senior Mage Specialist: Very senior enlisted, either field-promoted prior to being shipped off to officer training at the end of the deployment or more likely has refused a commission.
    • Mage Officer 2nd Class/Mage Officer 1st Class: A lieutenant (exact gradation dependent on time in grade) and a lieutenant commander/captain.
    • Mage Commander: Commander/major. The most senior mage specialty rank, officers who rise past this integrate into the regular navy career path as Captains.


  • The Galactic Empire in Star Wars has "Moffs" and "Grand Moffs" which are sorts of military governors.
    • The Star Wars Expanded Universe has Grand Admirals and Supreme Commanders, though many Imperial warlords kept giving themselves even more ostentatious ranks, up to Omnipotent Battle Leader.


  • The alien race the Kur in Gor have a military organization described thusly:

 "In their military organizations," I said, "six such beasts constitute a Hand, and its leader is called an Eye. Two hands and two eyes constitute a larger unit, called a "Kur" or "Beast," which is commanded by a leader, or Blood. Twelve such units constitute a Band, commanded again by a Blood, though of higher rank. Twelve bands, again commanded by a Blood, of yet higher rank, constitute a March. Twelve Marches is said to constitute a People. These divisors and multiples have to do with, it seems, a base-twelve mathematics, itself perhaps indexed historically to the six digits of one of the creature's prehensile appendages."

"Why is the leader spoken of as a Blood?' asked Samos.

"It seems to have been an ancient belief among such creatures," I said, "that thought was a function of the blood, rather than of the brain, a terminology which has apparently lingered in their common speech. Similar anachronisms occur in many languages, including Gorean."

"Who commands a People?" asked Samos.

"One who is said to be a 'Blood' of the People, as I understand it," I said.

  • Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars stories.
    • Than = Ordinary warrior or seaman
    • Padwar = Lieutenant
    • Dwar = Captain (commands 100 men or one flier)
    • Odwar = General/Admiral (commands 10,000 men)
    • Jedwar = Generals of generals (warlord)
    • A Jed is a noble, generally the ruler of a single city or Green Martian tribe.
    • A Jeddak is equivalent to a king, ruling over a nation of several cities or tribes.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the King's advisors have titles like "Master of Laws" (i.e. attorney general or justice minister), "Master of Coins" (i.e. secretary of trade or finance minister), and "Master of Ships" (i.e. secretary of the navy). In A Feast For Crows, Cersei prefers a more grandiose approach, and so changes the titles to be unique; Master of Ships, for example, becomes Grand Admiral.
  • In the New Jedi Order, the Yuuzhan Vong have an elaborate ranking system among their castes; the Supreme Overlord, a God-Emperor, is at the top, followed by the four main castes (castes are equal, ranks go from top to bottom):
    • Warrior Caste:
      • Warmaster
      • Supreme Commander
      • Commander
      • Subaltern
      • Warrior
    • Priest Caste
      • Most-High Priest
      • High Priest
      • Priest
      • Acolyte
    • Shaper Caste:
      • Shaper Lord
      • Master Shaper
      • Shaper Adept
      • Initiate
    • Intendent Caste
      • High Prefect
      • Prefect
      • Consul
      • Executor
      • Attendant
    • At the very bottom is the Worker Caste, which consists of regular Workers, non-Yuuzhan Vong slaves, and Shamed Ones, who are the lowest of the low.
  • Lin Carter's Thongor of Lemuria stories had the following military ranks:
    • Otar: Commander of 100 men
    • Daotar: Leader of 10 Otars (1,000 men)
    • Daotarkon: Army commander and leader of 10,000 men
  • The aliens of Animorphs. The Yeerks have Sub-Visser and Visser, both followed by number designations (Visser Three, Visser One, Sub-Visser 56) and the Andalites have Aristh (cadet),Prince, Prince Commander, War Prince and probably others.
  • In the Star Trek Novel Verse:
    • Cardassian ranks, from highest to lowest, are Legate (canonically established), Jagul, Gul (canonically established), Dal, Dalin, Glinn (canonically established), Gil, Garresh, Gorr. Used in Star Trek: Millennium, Terok Nor, the Star Trek Deep Space Nine relaunch, and elsewhere.
    • The Ferengi rank DaiMon (like a captain) was canonically established; Star Trek: The Lost Era established GuiMon as the next rank up (similar to an admiral).
    • Breen ranks such as Thot (canonically established), Chot, Ghoc, etc, are attached to the front of a Breen's short-hand name, so that the Breen Deshinar Tibbonel, for instance, is known as "Chot Nar".
    • Gorn ranks include the Ozuk, and Warrior Caste units are led by a First Myrmidon (see Star Trek: Typhon Pact).
    • Kinshaya ranks include Vicar, Deacon and Bishop. Yes, they're Church Militant, alright.
    • The Neyel, a human Lost Colony, have "Drech'tor" for captain and "Subdrech'tor" for commander, which have obviously evolved from the titles "director" and "sub-director", as well as "subaltern", an archaic British term for any commissioned rank below captain.
  • In Beyond the Dawn, the Russian Tolkien-derivative novel by Olga Chigirinskaya, Morgoth's army has military ranks, in Ah'enn (a Con Lang of Angband's followers by Natalia Vassilieva):
  • In the Dragonriders of Pern novels, the ranks of dragonrider are Weyrleader, Wingleader, Wingsecond, Rider, and Weyrling, roughly equivilent to Air Marshall, Group Captain or Squadron Leader, Flight Lieutenant, Flying Officer and Cadet. One oddity, however, is that the Weyrleader's Wingsecond is shown to effectively outrank Wingleaders, despite a technically lower rank and inferior dragon type.
  • The Ankh-Morpork City Watch in the Discworld novels mostly uses real ranks (although not necessarily real police ranks). One oddity, however, is the very junior rank of "Lance-Constable".
  • In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe, known ranks of the Guild of Adjudicators (Space Police with religous undertones) are Squire, Adjudicator, Adjudicator Secular, Adjudicator Spiritual, Provost-General, Adjudicator In Extremis, and Pontifex Saecularis.
  • Sardaukar military ranks in Frank Herbert's Dune universe.
    • Levenbrech: Roughly in between a sergeant and a lieutenant.
    • Noukkers: Officers of the Imperial bodyguard who are related to the Emperor by blood.
    • Bashar (often Colonel Bashar): An officer a fractional point above Colonel in the standardized military classification. Rank created for military ruler of a planetary subdistrict. (Bashar of the Corps is a title reserved strictly for military use.)
    • Caid: Officer rank given to a military official whose duties call mostly for dealings with civilians; a military governorship over a full planetary district; above the rank of Bashar but not equal to a Burseg.
    • Burseg: Commanding general.

Live Action TV

  • In Star Trek, several races have non-standard ranks for ship captains.
    • Romulan ships are typically commanded by "Commanders" or "Sub-Commanders" ("Commander" may be a higher rank in the Romulan military than in Real Life). Furthermore, in Star Trek the Original Series, they used "Centurion" as a non-commissioned officer rank.
    • Cardassians captains are called "Guls" which may act as governors as well, "Glinns", which often act as first officers, and "Legates" which are basically the admirality.
    • Ferengi captains are called "DaiMons".
    • Xepolite "Hetman".
    • The Jem'Hadar make things simple. The commander of a unit is called the First. His second in command is the Second, below him is the Third, and so on.
  • In Stargate, the Goa'uld have the rank of First Prime, which is comparable to a Real Life Field Marshal.
  • In Babylon 5, Minbari ranks include Alyt and Shi Alyt. The second is higher than the first.
  • In the Doctor Who story Inferno, the Republican Security Force of the Mirror Universe had ranks that were basically SS ranks translated into English - the Brigadier became the Brigade Leader, Sergeant Benton's counterpart was Platoon Under Leader Benton, and Liz Shaw (a civilian scientist in the Whoniverse) had the Captain-equivilent rank of Section Leader.
  • Red Dwarf's rank structure has never been quite clear, but Dave Lister's rank of Technician Third Class is the lowest rank with Rimmer only barely outranking him (and clearly outranked by everyone else). While a couple of different specialisations of Sergeant and a few officer ranks have been established, the full rank structure has never been declared. That said, this is a universe where the cooks are officers.

Tabletop Games

  • In Warhammer 40000, the Imperial Guard have several additional ranks, such as "Lord General Militant" and "Colonel-Commissar".
    • Also from Warhammer 40000, the Tau's system (Shas'ui and Shas'O, for example).
    • Warhammer 40000's Space Marines get a lot of mileage from adding "Brother" in front of ranks (Brother-Sergeant, Brother-Captain) though it's not clear whether or not it's reserved for the Grey Knights, along with the ubiquitous "Battle-Brother".
    • Various Chapters have variation on this as well: the Space Wolves replace Scouts with Blood Claws, Devastators with Long Fangs, Librarians with Rune Priests...
    • Dark Eldar have the ranks of Warrior, Sybarite, Dracon and Archon for the Kabalites, and Wytch, Hekatrix, Syren and Succubus for the Wytch Cults.
  • Task Force Game's Starfire. Nexus magazine #8 and #12 had articles on the militaries of the Khanate of Orion and Protectorate of Rigel, including their rank structure.
  • Dungeons and Dragons
    • Basic D&D supplement Gazetteer 12 The Golden Khan of Ethengar. The military of Ethengar has these positions:
      • Akan - Leads an argam of 10 men
      • Dakan - Leads a dagam of 100 men
      • Orkhan - Leads a mingam of 1,000 men
      • Orkhan of the Golden Hordes - Commands the tribal hordes as a whole in the Golden Khan's absence
    • Forgotten Realms
      • Cormyrean "Purple Dragons" (standing army) has their own system.
      • The 2nd Edition Forgotten Realms Adventures supplement had the following information for the city of Mulmaster.

 Bladesman = ordinary soldier.

Quicksword = commands ten Bladesmen

Captain = commands 6 Quickswords

Strikewhip = battle messengers, aides-de-camp and bodyguards

Battlemaster = general

  • In Traveller Vilani noble titles don't translate on a one to one basis with Terran but there is a rough adaptation and many nobles of Vilani heritage prefer the Vilani rendering to the Terran. Vilani titles come from the days of the old First Imperium:
    • Kiduunuuzil = Knight or Baronet. These are low level bureaucratic flunkeys and military officers.
    • Lishakku = baron, supervisor, etc. Local planetary governor. Translated as Baron in Third Imperium.
    • Shakkanakhu = satrap. provincial governor, etc. Generally translated count in Third Imperium
    • Sarriiu = Perhaps "High satrap." governs several provinces. No equiv in Third Imperium but generally translated count or marquis.
    • Saarpuhii = Vizier or Duke. Translated Duke in Third Imperium
    • Apkallu Kibrat Arbat = Viceroy or equiv. Translated Archduke in Third Imperium
    • Ishimkarun = Emperor. It will be noted that the Vilani "Emperor" might be better translated as "Chairman of the Zira Sirka" as his main duties was as head of the ruling council rather then as a holder of personal authority.
      • One quirk is that Vilani titles were administrative rather then beginning military and becoming honorary, in the manner of the European-Terran noble system imitated in the time of the Third Imperium. The rank system represents the bureaucratic status of the holder. Another point is that instead of primogeniture, titles were inherited by the third child. Because of this, while there were powerful dynasties in the First Imperium, the specific titles they held often shifted. The Third Imperium used a combination of the two systems; titles are usually Terran though the duties of the highest nobles in the Third Imperium are more like that of governors then like that of princes, just as in the First Imperium.
  • The Babylon 5 tie-in games flesh out the rank systems for most of the races in that universe, including some of the relatively minor players. Some of this work is rather in-depth.

Video Games

  • In Ratchet and Clank Future A Crack In Time, Alister Azimuth is a "Four Bolt Magistrate".
  • In Halo, the Covenant have a completely different rank system, with different ranks existing for different races.
  • The Qunari from Dragon Age. The ranks go, from highest to lowest:
    • Arishok
    • Sten
    • Ashaad
    • Karashok
      Outside the ranking system:
    • Saarebas (Mage Qunari)
  • Starcraft: The Protoss have a different rank structure, though only three ranks are ever mentioned in the original game.
    • Praetor: probably close to an Army Captain, Fenix held this rank
    • Executor: probably close to a Brigadier (1-star) General, Tassadar held this rank
    • Judicator: member of the governing caste, Aldaris was one of them
  • The Elder Scrolls series has a set of ranks for each faction. The ranks for Imperial Legion and House Redoran in Morrowind are explicitly military, and they are nothing like real-world, medieval or not. The Redoran ranks are, in fact, Dunmer titles of nobility, and they are also fantastic.
  • Guild Wars: The tables of ranks of the Sunspears and the Order of Whispers in the Nightfall campaign.
  • According to the Codex, the human Systems Alliance in the Mass Effect series uses following rank ladder for all its service branches (ranks in brackets are the Space Marine equivalents, who are special):
    • Enlisted:
      • Serviceman 3rd Class (Private 2nd Class) -- corresponds to the NATO OR-1/2
      • Serviceman 2nd Class (Private 1st Class) -- OR-3
      • Serviceman 1st Class (Corporal) -- OR-4: Richard L. Jenkins was this
    • NCO:
      • Service Chief -- OR-5
      • Gunnery Chief -- OR-6/7: Ashley Williams is this in the first game.
      • Operations Chief -- OR-8/9
    • Commissioned:
      • 2nd/1st Lieutenant -- OF-1
      • Staff Lieutenant -- OF-2: Kaidan Alenko in ME1
      • Lieutenant Commander -- OF-3: Ashley in ME3
      • Staff Commander -- OF-4: Commander Shepard throughout the trilogy
      • Captain (Major) -- OF-5: David Anderson, Kaidan in ME3
      • Rear Admiral (General) -- OF-6/7
      • Admiral -- OF-8/9: Steven Hackett
      • Fleet Admiral -- OF-10


  • In BIBLE, the warrior angels have a fairly simple rank structure:
    • Soldier (ordinary grunt)
    • Elite soldier (soldiers proven on the battlefield, act as commandos or unofficial sergeants)
    • Lieutenant (commands a platoon of ~50 solders and elites)
    • General (highest combat rank, commands all platoons comprising a particular mission)
    • Seraph (semi-retired warriors, act as gatekeepers to Heaven and headquarters command staff)

Real Life

  • The British Army in India raised several Indian regiments. While the ranks roughly translate to the British equivalent, you had wonderful sounding names (and were officially designated as such) such as:
    • Sepoy/Sowar (Private/Trooper)
    • Naik (Corporal)
    • Havildar/Daffadar (Sergeant)
    • Subedar/Risaldar (Warrant Officer)

You'll note that there weren't any "native" ranks after that, mainly because the British Army would never let natives run their own armies...

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