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Wedge: "I'm usually pretty good about taking orders."

Iella: "If occasionally reinterpreting them rather thoroughly."
"Breaking the rules is just one of Space Captainface's many job responsibilities. And let's not forget bucking the system, rabble-rousing, and assaulting superior officers."

Consider them the armed-forces cousins of the Cowboy Cop.

Military personnel who break all the rules, annoy their superiors, but generally win because they break the rules. Existing largely because of the Rule of Cool, as in real life, the military needs people they can be certain will stop fighting when ordered just as much as they need people who will start. The primary purpose of discipline is to learn self-restraint, after all. (They will occasionally face Reassigned to Antarctica, because the writers know that's where the next trouble will break out.)

However, apparently it is Truth in Television to some extent. When Richard Dean Anderson asked General Michael E. Ryan (the Air Force Chief of Staff, who once appeared on Stargate SG-1 playing himself) whether there were really colonels like Jack O'Neill, Ryan replied, "yes, and worse." Note that the higher your rank, the more likely you are to get away with it. There are no privates like Jack O'Neill. Or at least, if there are right now, give it a few days.

Still, most instances of this would have far more consequences in Real Life than fiction (so does everything). You might get away with disobeying orders on rare occasions and under unusual circumstances, but doing so to the point of recklessness is a good way to end your military career with a court martial at best and a firing squad at worst. So it goes without saying...

May sometimes be a Bunny Ears Lawyer in uniform.

Examples of Military Maverick include:


Air Force (includes pilots from the other services)

Anime and Manga

  • Isamu Alava Dyson from Macross Plus. Reckless, insubordinate, short tempered and not even punishment details wanted him. Eventually transferred to Project Super Nova as a test pilot since the only thing keeping him in the military was that he was that damn good.
  • Elizabeth Beurling of Strike Witches fame is a maverick herself, taking little heed to the brass and disobeying them at almost every turn (from simple things like smoking and going to the pub late at night to more complex things like refusing to use the new striker units), she is rather skilled in combat and has no ranged weapons instead just uses her kukri and cuts up enemy soldiers, grant she does have a rather gloomy personality to her. The girl has got issues but she can hardly care less.
    • Not surprising given she was at least somewhat based on the real life maverick George Beurling; although he was rather a different kind of Maverick. After failing to join the Canadian Air Force, and the Finnish air force, he hopped on a ship and went to England to try and enlist in the RAF in which he was successful. He was regarded as high strung, brash, and outspoken, and he also never smoked or drank (which when you're a fighter pilot makes you a maverick...). He was a skilled pilot but rejected a commission at first and was reprimanded for attacking targets without permissions several times. He was also known as a loner in the air and was written up for stunting as well. He was eventually discharged even before the war ended more or less for being a pain in the ass.

Film

  • Lieutenant Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, USN from Top Gun.
    • "Your ego is writing checks your body can't cash."
    • "You don't have time to think up there. If you think, you're dead."

Literature

  • A fair number of people in the Dale Brown novels, most notably Brad Elliot. While the contrast with the politicians and other American leaders has always been there since the first, in Battle Born and beyond it's even more apparent with the more lawful newcomers to Dreamland serving as foils to the old-timers.
    • Lampshade Hung in Plan of Attack, where General Gary Houser claims that McLanahan has been "pulling shit that should have landed you in prison for a hundred years".
  • Wedge Antilles, in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, is a major one of these. He's led Rogue Squadron into defecting (temporarily) from the New Republic itself. He was ready to leave again during Starfighters of Adumar, when faced with the choice of doing what was ordered or what was right. But he and the Rogues are the best of the best, delivering the impossible, and they do get called on their behavior. Wedge created Wraith Squadron, an entire squadron of misfits specifically organized for unconventional warfare after seeing how the fleet had become hamstrung by being forced into the role of legitimate government (see the Space section)--and, though not even thirty, found himself feeling like a tired old man when confronted with their antics and tactics.

 Wedge: Wes, they're doing it to me again.

    • The Rogues tended to be pilots with secondary commando skills whose missions meant those skills became important very, very often; the Wraiths were picked as commandos who could pilot snubfighters. The Wraiths were eventually transferred out of the military's Starfighter Command to New Republic Intelligence.
    • In the New Jedi Order, Jaina Solo, leader of Twin Suns Squadron, disobeys orders to save one of her pilots. General Antilles wants to reprimand her, but his nephew - the pilot Jaina saved - talks him down. It's not that hard. Wedge is asked when was the first time he disobeyed an order for similar reasons, and says it was when he was twenty, the first time he had a superior officer.
  • Colonel Temeraire turned into one of these, quickly, much to Laurence's dismay. It resulted in a couple cases of treason and eventually being banished to Australia. Of course, if Temeraire wasn't such a maverick Laurence would probably be dead.
  • Derek Robinson's character of CH 3, in A Piece of Cake. An American pilot and soldier of fortune who for political reasons is posted to Hornet Squadron in time for the Battle of Britain, he becomes unpopular not just for having more combat experience than all the British pilots put together, he is highly critical of the British command an tactical philosophy. It doesn't help that experience proves him right, although not before several pilots are killed in action.
  • Mackenzie "Mac" Calhoun, of Star Trek: New Frontier, was specifically picked to command the Excalibur, the only ship in the sector, because he was basically the Cowboy Cop of Starfleet.

Live Action TV

  • Battlestar Galactica: Kara Thrace, a deconstruction of the trope whose maverick existence only exists with a messed up life and a lot of favouritism.
    • It's made obvious at the start of the series that the only reason she was able to get away with all the crap she pulls is because she's just that damn good and the Galactica herself was under the command of an officer who was going to be retired soon. Later, she was one of a few dozen fighter pilots left in the whole of humanity in a little fleet almost completely dependent on pilots for defense. There was a good chance she'd get discharged in normal times, but when you're down to 40...
    • Later a major reason for the favoritism shown by Adama(and a lot of the recklessness shown by Kara) is explained by revelations concerning her engagement to Adama's dead son.
    • Subverted with Pegasus Commander Barry Garner, who once made the typical Maverick "Screw the orders, I'm saving my men" decision, complete with his crew backing him against the outsider observer (aka Lee Adama) - only to notice that yes, it was a trap, it very nearly cost the human race its most powerful battleship and it gained them nothing.
  • Jack O'Neill from Stargate SG-1.

Other

  • In Advance Wars Eternal War, we have the Pink Queen. "Our units are under attack? Who cares? Do you like my new eye-liner?" Robyn too. She'd rather stare at the sky than go to war.

Real Life

  • A possible real-life example (it's disputed how true this is) would be many of the Polish pilots in the Battle of Britain. Prone to recklessness and spamming the radio with discussions in Polish on the parentage of their German opponents (who they, for obvious reasons, loathed), they were responsible for 12% of the Luftwaffe kills in that battle, despite being only 5% of the pilots.
    • That being said, the RAF handbook was often ignored even by British pilots. For example, the rules stated that machine guns' should be zeroed (that is, the bullets would cross the path of the guns from the other wing) at 600m to allow newbie pilots to attack from a safe distance. But to be most effective, it needed to be at 200m, so many pilots from different nations changed them.
  • A documented real-life subversion (not merely aversion) was going on with test pilots, at least back in the early '70s. Hunter S. Thompson wrote an article depicting the Air Force's test pilots as almost frighteningly sane, rational, by-the-book, methodical fliers who were as much scientist as warrior--which makes some sense, given their vocation. Hence the old saying: what's the difference between God and an Air Force pilot? God doesn't think he's a pilot.
  • 'Bud' Holland, the pilot of the B-52 that crashed at Fairchild Air Force Base, who had a reputation for aggressive flying and violating safety regulations. One of his superiors was later court-martialed for failing to take action over his behaviour. That's like being so high your friend hallucinates.
  • John McCain, who was more than happy to point this out.
  • World War I ace Frank Luke. He was bad-tempered and contemptuous of authority; when he took off on his last flight, the one that earned him a posthumous Medal of Honor, there were orders out to arrest him for being AWOL. His favorite targets were German observation balloons, which most pilots avoided because they were "invariably ringed with antiaircraft guns and often protected by a flight of fighters. Going after one was much like kicking a hornet's nest, but it was just the sort of challenge Luke liked...." Eddie Rickenbacker called Luke "the greatest fighter pilot of the entire war."

Video Games

  • Maniac, from Wing Commander, is generally agreed to have earned his callsign. At times, the protagonist, Christopher "Maverick" Blair, has as well. Some say he's a subversion.


Army

Anime and Manga

  • In Edward Elric's early years as a State Alchemist, Roy Mustang made good use of his sense of honor and knack for trouble-making by sending him in the general direction of cowboy-prone situations with rumors of the Philosopher's Stone surrounding them.
  • Mr. Bushido (AKA Graham Akre in a Paper-Thin Disguise) from the second season of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 refuses to do anything except engage the 00 Gundam in battle, and won't even launch for combat unless the 00 is present as well. He gets away with it because 1) he is quite literally Just That Good, and 2) the 00 is Celestial Being's strongest weapon, and keeping it tied up is extremely helpful to the A-Laws.
  • In Maiden Rose, both Klaus and Taki are mavericks at times. And it gets them both in trouble.

Film

  • Likewise, the film version of The Devils Brigade has numerous mavericks on the American side.
  • The Dirty Dozen's Major Reisman. All of the Dozen are actually mavericks (or much worse) but they definitely face consequences for it.
  • Sgt. William James of The Hurt Locker is a deconstruction. Sure, he manages to defuse many bombs in his time at war, but he winds up alienating pretty much everyone in his unit due to his antics.
  • The entire plot of Kelly's Heroes.
  • Mel Gibson's character from Lethal Weapon 1-4 (though most prominently in the first 2 installments) is an extremely reckless cop and ex-army special forces. He routinely places himself in great danger as part of a suicidal deathwish, yet his skills are so great that he continues to live through his adventures.
  • The protagonists in Play Dirty, although the only one of them who is officially in the military is the Michael Caine character, and his commission was supposed to be purely honorary. The rest are a bunch of Boxed Crooks turned into an experimental strike force by an eccentric colonel. Unsurprisingly, their tactics tend to be...nonstandard.

Literature

  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novels, over and over again; always crowned with success, which may be why they get away with it.
    • Dorden in Ghostmaker, refusing to leave a field hospital
    • Kolea in the opening of Honour Guard, defying orders to rescue Corbec.
    • Corbec and other wounded Ghosts in Honour Guard defying orders to get on the transport in order to join the honour guard.
    • At the climax of Honour Guard, Gaunt decides to defend the temple rather than remove the relics.
    • Mkoll deserting in Only In Death to recover Gaunt's sword. Unexpected, he also recovers Gaunt.
    • Beldavyr in Only in Death deserting his post in combat -- to restart the power source for the xenos guns. Fortunately for him, it worked.
  • Richard Sharpe, who even Cornwell calls a loose cannon. Though rules were a bit lax back then, he still gets in trouble for breaking them at times.

Live Action TV

  • The entire membership of The A-Team, most notably Murdock, who may or may not be certifiably insane.
  • Firefly's Malcolm Reynolds, in his time as an Independent sergeant, made something of a reputation for himself for unconventional tactics, a distinct willingness to defy the odds, and an absolute refusal to quit...even when, it might be said, he should have. He was an irregular in a nonprofessional insurgent army, so not unexpected.
  • Hawkeye Pierce and, for that matter, about half the cast of MASH. The only reason Hawkeye is rarely, if ever, charged for being such a loose cannon is because they need as many medical personnel as possible and can't afford to lose him as Chief Surgeon.
    • There's also that as doctors directly commissioned (and apparently conscripted) from civilian practice, most of the cast of M*A*S*H can afford to be utterly indifferent about damage to their military careers -- they don't have any careers to damage. So long as they can actually avoid being caught in a major felony or committing medical malpractice, there's really not much they need to worry about in the long run. It's instructive to note that the one regular army doctor on the cast, Colonel Potter, is not a maverick. Much.
    • Truth in Television to a large degree, even today; the US armed services have enough of a need for medical personnel that they are given more leeway about their (lack of) military bearing than would be tolerated in combat soldiers/sailors/airmen. Crystallized in a saying going back to Korea if not earlier: "There is nobody as un-military as a military doctor."

Real Life

  • Let's not forget the quintessential real-life maverick General Patton. Rommel serves as a good German version.
    • As generals they were granted more leeway, but Patton did suffer from his maverick ways, consistently being demoted and kept from a higher command, at one point almost being dismissed from service during the second world war due to his 'poor' conduct outside the field of battle. Rommel however was a maverick only in the field, and outside of it presented himself as every inch the perfect officer.
  • Douglas MacArthur, one of the most respected 5-star generals in American history. His loose-cannon ways eventually got him fired when he mouthed off about America's strategy in the Korean war.
    • And by "mouthed off" we mean that he recommended launching a nuclear strike on China.
  • To be honest, the Australian Armed Forces, as a whole, during WWI. We HATED being ordered around by British officers and, as such, ignored them. A lot.
    • Likewise, WW 2, though not quite as bad. Old joke: in 1943, a British officer complains to a British general who'd served in the last war that a group of Australian soldiers didn't salute as he passed them. The old British general replies, "That's good news. Before, they'd've walked straight over you!"
    • British Field Marshal Birdwood reminisced that an Australian private came up to him, on the officer's first day at Gallipoli, to "complain about inferior bloody materiel." To demonstrate the low quality of equipment, the soldier pulled the pin on a grenade and tossed it near the field marshal. This grenade, not as inferior as the Australian had expected, exploded as they're supposed to, luckily not severely injuring anyone, and the private commented in surprise, "Gawd, Birdie, that is the first bastard that has gone off this month."
  • This was kind of Ariel Sharon's thing. On the one hand, his... stretching of orders is widely held to have won the 1973 war against Egypt, but his habit of leaving superiors in the dark and going far beyond his mandate as Minister of Defense played a large part in the fiasco of the Israeli involvement in the Lebanese Civil War in The Eighties.
  • Andrew Jackson. He led American troops into the then Spanish colony Florida, without an official approval from the Government. This is the very rare case of it working out for the best because the U.S. managed to bargain for Florida and make it an official State, and Jackson is widely regarded as a hero, becoming the first Governor of Florida and then later the President of the United States.
  • On a bit different note, the Order of Maria Theresa founded by its namesake was awarded to commanders who defied orders and yet achieved victory. Although historians generally agree that it was meant to promote not recklessness but rather a healthy initiative on the battlefield.

Video Games

  • Commander Micheal McNiel of Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun, who is defined by his headstrong aggressiveness, most notably in the final mission, where he refuses to obey orders to wait for reinforcements before assaulting Kane's headquarters.
    • Captain Nick "Havoc" Parker in Command and Conquer: Renegade also disobeys orders, but is arrested immediately upon his return from the battlefield. Of course, he doesn't spend more than a few hours in jail, but his boss is explicitly described as unusually tolerant of his quirks, "which makes him the ideal boss for Havoc". Note that while his motives are admirable ("They're torturing civvies, we can't wait six hours."), he hijacked a hovercraft that couldn't really be spared to go off and assault the enemy base single-handedly immediately after a previous attack had failed, and when there was absolutely no reason to not simply wait a mere six hours for reinforcements to arrive.
  • All four of the protagonists (and their pilot) in Battlefield: Bad Company.

Other

  • A cartoon by Bill Mauldin in World War II showed two officers walking past an unshaven, scowling U.S. paratrooper who leaned against a lamppost ignoring them. The higher-ranking officer told the other, "It's best not to speak to paratroopers about saluting. They always ask where you got your jump boots."

Government and Federal Agents (includes spies)

Comic Books

  • The adults-only MAX incarnation of Nick Fury, who has at one point beat up a General with his belt.

Film

  • MI 6 Agent 007, aka Commander James Bond. Spies tend to play things by ear as a rule, but Bond seems to revel in doing things that will give Q, M, and the British government a heart attack. The fact that he saves the world with clockwork regularity tends to offset this.

Literature

  • Bujold's Lt. Miles Naismith (Lord) Vorkosigan, Barrayaran Imperial Security. He is assigned directly to Simon Illyan, the head of ImpSec, because while he succeeds in absurd situations, he repeatedly drives his commanding officers nuts.

 "Hm," Illyan said. "And yet . . . who shall I assign you to now? Which loyal officer gets his career destroyed next?"

Miles thought this over. "Why don't you assign me directly to yourself, sir?"

"Thanks," said Illyan dryly.

    • It helps that Illyan knows Miles literally since birth, being his father's long-term aide and then principal political ally.
    • Miles' operating philosophy can be best summed up by this quote, from Brothers in Arms:

 Miles: No, no, never send interim reports. Only final ones. Interim reports tend to elicit orders. Which you must then either obey, or spend valuable time and energy evading, which you could be using to solve the problem.

    • He also counts on the "seniority lets you get away with more" front; when he is first admitted to the Imperial Service Academy, his father admits that "I think he will make a terrible ensign... but he might make a fine Chief of Staff one day." Miles is such an insubordinate ensign that Illyan has to either dismiss him, or shorten his chain of command so he has fewer people to disobey.

Live Action TV

Marines

Comic Books

  • Not a lot of Marines on this list, but two that fit, both from DC Comics' Hitman, are Tommy "Hitman" Monaghan and Natt "The Hat" Walls of the United States Marine Corps. Tommy ends up killing two fellow Marines with a sniper rifle (Don't worry, they had it coming....) They ingeniously, if messily, Make It Look Like an Accident and get away with it. Later, during Operation Desert Storm, Tommy and Natt accidentally kill several British S.A.S. troops in a "friendly fire" incident. They get away with that too. Well, for a few years, anyway.

Live Action TV

  • Averted by Greer in Stargate Universe. There's no doubting he knows his job and is willing to give his life to protect even people he dislikes, but he displayed such a temper that an early Fan Nickname for him was Furious George. He also reputedly beat up a superior officer...and so was languishing in the brig waiting to be shipped back to Earth when the attack hit Icarus Base.

Video Games

  • Doom's protagonist is a Marine who was shipped out to the Mars base because he assaulted a superior officer (who himself deliberately ordered the company to open fire on people he knew were probably pacifist monks).

Film

  • If it is a cousin of the Cowboy Cop then Clint Eastwood has to be here somewhere. Gunny Highway from Heartbreak Ridge fits pretty well. At least the part of annoying your superiors. And isn't there some sort of regulation that forbids the drill instructors from firing live ammunition at their recruits?
    • Well, if there is, there'd be two outs: He isn't a drill instructor, and he isn't firing *at* them; he's firing at places he's told them not to be.

Navy (for space navies, see Space below)

Film

  • Captain Ramsey in Crimson Tide. He's apparently given a lot of leeway due to his combat experience, even taking his dog with him on the boat.
  • Down Periscope is pretty much based on the idea of the main character playing the part of this trope.

Literature

  • Jack Aubrey from the Master and Commander books and film, and Thomas Cochrane, the real-life British officer he is based on.

Live Action TV

  • Another water-based one: McHales Navy. If nothing else, typical naval crews were probably discouraged from carrying Japanese soldiers on board.
  • At least in the miniseries I saw, Horatio Hornblower had his moments.
    • Novels too. In Ship of the Line, he deliberately sails past a rendezvous at night so he can continue to independantly raid. In Lieutenant Hornblower, it is suggested that he pushed his dangerously insane captain down a ship's ladder. His fellow lieutentants suspect this, but no one calls him out on it.
  • JAG's Harmon Rabb.

Real Life

  • Horatio Nelson. At the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801, he was signalled by superiors to withdraw. On being informed of the orders, he put his spyglass to his right eye and declared, "I really do not see the signal." He had been blinded permanently in his right eye in an action at Corsica in 1794. He then proceeded to demolish the combined Danish-Norwegian fleet.
    • The signal was giving him permission to retreat, not ordering him to, and his commander sent it knowing full well that Nelson would ignore it if his situation was still tenable. Still an example.


Space (not fighters)

Anime and Manga

Literature

  • Ender Wiggin from ~Ender's Game~ was a deliberate Military Maverick - he thought he was being a rebel, but they figured he was smart enough to know better than the rule-makers, and actually intended him to break the rules.
  • Inverted in Jack Campbell's The Lost Fleet. Captain Geary is thought of as crazy because he uses reasonable and not particularly noteworthy tactics. Which baffles his fleet, who are used to simply rushing into the enemy and counting how many ships are left over to determine a victory.
  • Willard Phule of Phules Company. He gets promoted as a result of accidentally strafing a peace conference after the war had already ended. It wasn't a reward. He was only not fired because the Space Legion never fires anyone, wasn't demoted only because of politics, and winds up in command of an "Omega Company", a dumping ground for troublemakers too stubborn to quit.
  • In a rare example of someone at the top flouting convention, though actually very cultured and refined in a way most Imperial fleet officers only hope to be, Grand Admiral Thrawn spits in the face of conventional strategic and tactical wisdom. He is confident to the point where he bases entire planetary assaults around esoteric uses of obscure or rare technology and other extremely unusual ideas--ideas that are so odd that he and the captain of his flagship once had a barely-civilized argument over his use of a particular tactic. That particular tactic was in fact outright reasonable (and became routine) compared to some of his more inventive concepts. Then again, Thrawn is only one step down in the chain of command from the Emperor: so long as he remains loyal to the Empire and continues to succeed in his assigned objectives, he has the authority to do whatever he damn well feels like. Thrawn was a military maverick among his own people, too. In Outbound Flight, he was the one making preemptive strikes, to the consternation of, well, just about everyone. He actually got exiled for that.
    • Similarly, General Garm Bel Iblis is a slightly more conventional commander, but despite his cunning and ability to make do with less is often politically ostracized. He even resisted an upgrade to his aging flagship's comm center so that secure messages would remain more secure. This has more to do with his time as an independent rebel, as opposed to capital-R Rebel, than his behavior, but he seems quite content to let matters remain as they are.
    • Thrawn's old student and second-in-command Pellaeon, having picked up a bit of that genius and becoming Supreme Commander in time, also manages to utterly frustrate his poor captain with tactics that seem counterintuitive at best and stupid at worst.
    • A sort-of inversion comes in the Star Wars Expanded Universe where the Rebel Alliance fleet, now the legitimate military arm of the New Republic, has to adopt the tactics they once so desperately yet handily worked around. Some try to make the change, but find themselves psychologically hamstrung by being unable to convert to the necessary way of thinking; others take to their new roles with gusto, but forget how to anticipate unconventional tactics. (Operation Emperor's Hammer resulted when New Republic officers took to the Empire's tactics very, very well.)
      • Emperor's Hammer, for those who never read the book, was employed against the Yuzhaan Vong, an alien race that only briefly skirmished with the Empire. Therefore they were not aware that one of the primary uses of a Star Destroyer was orbital bombardment...and with something like sixty times the guns, a Super Star Destroyer is even better at it.
    • Vader is definitely a maverick within the Empire's military (proper court-martial? what's that?), but he's Vader and more or less an extension of the actual Emperor. His lieutenants can't complain (literally). Then again, he and not the Emperor held the rank of Supreme Commander of the Imperial Forces...
    • In the Wrath Squadron trilogy, General Han Solo, commanding the anti-Zsinj task force, discovers one downside to being a Military Maverick:

 Han: With my history, I'd be the laughingstock of the New Republic if I ever brought one of my officers up on charges of insubordination.

Wedge: Yes, sir, I was sort of counting on that.

  • Sister Miriya from James Swallow's Warhammer 40000 novel Faith & Fire regularly pisses of her Canoness for her "creative" interpretations of instructions given to her, although she usually doesn't disobey the direct orders of a superior and usually gets good results. However, with her actions in the course of the book included discharging her weapon in a library, disobeying direct orders, postponing the arrest of a psyker to go find a deacon and killing that deacon, so it's a miracle she wasn't executed on the spot, this being 40k and all. As it turns out, there was an assassin in the library, the psyker helped them uncover a conspiracy (and was killed later) and the deacon was hoarding psykers for an experiment to try to turn all the humans of the Imperium into psykers, so in recognition of that, she was just demoted into a line Battle Sister and reassigned to another Canoness.
  • Lester Tourville used a mild form of this as a method of Obfuscating Stupidity. His persona as a competent but somewhat reckless officer helped him avoid promotion to a rank where he would be at risk of getting shot.

Live Action TV

  • John Sheridan of Babylon 5 was such a maverick that he participated in a conspiracy against the (increasingly dictatorial) civilian Earth Gov and finally decided to turn his command into an independent country. He also was not a fan of standard military tactics.
    • Averted when, during the pilot episode remake/movie, he refused promotion to be second-in-command of the first ship being sent out to investigate Minbari space. He did so because he knew the CO was known to be overaggressive during tense diplomatic situations and he did not want to be in a position where he'd have to stand up to him for the ship's own good. The ship instead left for Minbari space with a much more jellyfish-spined XO, the captain got into a tense diplomatic situation where he became overaggressive, and we all know what happened after that.
  • In the classic (if short) German SF series Raumpatrouille, Commander McLane and the crew of the Orion are this to the extent that the series starts with their being reassigned to 'boring' patrol duty for a couple of years and saddled with a security officer who's supposed to ensure they tread the straight and narrow from now on. Needless to say, that's not quite how it works out.
  • Most of the captains from Star Trek seem to fit this mold. Even Picard was credited with violating the Prime Directive about eight or nine times, and that's in the middle of the series run.
    • This would have some meaning if the Prime Directive wasn't redefined nearly every episode.
    • Often, the Federation seems to survive more on supreme acts of heroism than any actual organised strategy. Against technically superior forces like the Borg or the Dominion (early on, before the Federation learned to counter the latter's advantages), this approaches Conservation of Ninjitsu; elsewhere, it's more a case of One Riot, One Ranger, with single ships scattered through the galaxy. Said ships usually prevail by some fantastically risky tactic, as often as not a brazen bluff or Making Shit Up On The Spot, many times never to be done again. The lack of effective fleet-level planning may derive from Gene Roddenberry's reported dislike for making Starfleet "too military"--feel free to insert any joke about his Air Force background you wish.

Video Games

  • John Forge from Halo Wars apparently had discipline problems (multiple promotions AND demotions), had a cocky attitude, punched out a superior officer, and once brawled with a Spartan. He makes up for it by being extremely Badass Normal. Avery Johnson also had a checkered past and cocky attitude (and was also extremely Badass Normal).
    • Now, now, let's not forget Corporal Kojo "Romeo" Agu.
  • Revan and Malak in Knights of the Old Republic, before their Motive Decay.
  • In Mass Effect 3, a turian general Adrien Victus is widely mistrusted by the turian military for using unconventional and "dishonorable" tactics. He ends up as the leader of the turians after everyone else above him in the line of succession is killed by the Reapers and turns out to be pretty good at it, if still unconventional by supporting such measures as curing the krogan genophage to secure their assistance.

Web Comics

  • While Tagon's Toughs were under Breya's employ in Schlock Mercenary the entire crew from Tagon and downwards (i.e. everyone except Breya) arguably qualified. While the Toughs are still as maverick as they used to be, they now work under Tagon, who encourages this behavior. Besides, they're mercenaries and not a military unit, which justifies it. Schlock is special forces in the mercenary company and is arguably twice as much maverick as everyone else.
  • In Far From Home, the lieutenant made a paper airplane out of a briefing. Hence, the scouting mission.


Special Forces (all branches)

Anime and Manga

Comic Books

  • Snake-Eyes, G.I. Joe (Reloaded continuity), is pretty much insane--and the most dangerous man alive. (In other continuities, he's simply the most dangerous man alive.)

Literature

Real Life

  • Truth in Television: Special Forces units do tend to be more lax on the rules. Partly because as elite units their superiors let them get by with more--which is as much because special forces tend to recruit soldiers who are self-disciplined and don't need micro-managing, yet are capable of using their initiative, as out of respect for their capabilities--and partly because they're often assigned covert missions where traditional military behavior can be detrimental.
    • Mark Bowden's book Black Hawk Down goes into detail about how this could cause friction with more conventional units. The Army Rangers at Mogadishu in 1993 practically idolized the Delta unit (reputed for extraordinary autonomy and flexibility) as the top rung of the special forces ladder, but company commander Captain Steele was concerned that Delta's "cowboy" ways would rub off too much onto the younger Rangers (not to mention that he thought that "they could be comically arrogant") who needed discipline, while a Delta sergeant first class had an even lower opinion of the Rangers' basic competence, and of Steele in particular. The movie would allude to the tensions with the "this is my safety sir" scene and then the Delta SFC's Expy arguing with Captain Steele on the battlefield nearby other Rangers. (The movie version left out that the real Delta who inspired the "safety" scene defied Captain Steele in full view of other Rangers, without the immediate urgency of combat as an excuse.)
      • According to the book it was worse than that; both Captain Steele and the Delta SFC generalized the Rangers as having been young and inexperienced and seemed to see the Rangers as not adopting the deeper understandings or self-discipline. Egregious examples would include Rangers unknowingly firing on Delta positions at least twice without checking first, and a trio of Rangers attempting to imitate how he was taking cover, apparently not understanding that he was doing so only because he'd found a spot where the cover let him fire with impunity. Unfortunately one of those Rangers would be mortally wounded while in this position due to being exposed.
  • There is a story about a regulation for "Green Berets" (United States Army Special Forces) in Afghanistan to wear regular uniforms and to shave after a photo came out of a topless Green Beret in a keffiyah on the scene at an averted assassination attempt. Not only would it make them more visible, but the shaving cost them street cred in a country full of traditionalist Muslims...so when one of the brass ordered a team to regularly send photos of themselves with their (changing) radio frequency to show compliance, the team simply kept sending back the first and only clean-shaven photo, with their latest frequency Photoshopped in.

Video Games

  • Army of Two somewhat takes on the Black Hawk Down example; the first mission is set back when Rios and Salem were Rangers, and their initial awe at the sight of Phillip Clyde whooping ass with his bare hands and free running is tangible. Unlike the Delta operators from Black Hawk Down, he's very condescending to them and rather homicidal.
    • In fact, their awe lasts all of five minutes, after which they join the same mercenary company but refuse to work in the field alongside him. (In contrast, according to the Blackhawk Down book the Deltas sometimes helped out the Rangers on-base, i.e. teaching techniques, or in the case of one Ranger building him a custom machine gun grip.)
  • Though the players only see the units after they go rogue, FOX, FOXHOUND and Dead Cell are considered maverick units.
  • In Mass Effect, the Spectres are considered above all authority but that of the Council, and Shepard still manages to be a Military Maverick. Hell, one of the two alignments is called Renegade. And even playing the Paragon side of things, you end up defying the Council and conspiring to get your ship back so you can save the day. And that's just the first game. In the second one, you can get in double the Bunny Ears Lawyering and maverickiness between the Council and The Illusive Man.
    • Jacob Taylor, one of your squadmates in 2, is a former Alliance soldier who's only working for Cerberus because the Alliance refuses to get involved in the colony attacks due to red tape. Despite Cerberus being Mildly Military at best, and Shepard's squad in particular being an extreme Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, he acts the same way he would have at the Alliance, and is the only squadmate who makes it a practice to salute.
  • A minor example only: in Crusader, aside from their armor, Silencers are given free rein to use whatever equipment they deem necessary for an upcoming mission. As they are Silencers, their judgement on what they need is generally considered unimpeachable.
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