WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic

"You want to be afraid of somebody, be afraid of ME!"

When you think someone on your side may give in to the other side out of fear, trying to outscare the enemy might be a way to counteract this.

This is essentially a competition between two sides for the title of The Dreaded.

It's a common leadership technique of Drill Sergeant Nasty and Sergeant Rock, or other kinds of anti-heroes who sees this as a means justified by a goal. See also I Control My Minions Through..., where fear is one of the means.

Examples of Outscare the Enemy include:

Comic Books

  • One Punisher story has a bunch of Mooks fleeing their increasingly unhinged boss, on the grounds that while he might be able to get them out of this situation, the Punisher will kill them.


  • The way a crook in Judge Dredd deals with an underling considering surrendering to Dredd provides the page quotation.
  • In the movie Patton, Patton says something to the effect that he'll make his men unafraid of the Germans, but he hopes to God they never stop being afraid of him.
  • A major theme in 300.

 King Leonidas: You have many slaves, Xerxes, but few warriors. It won't be long before they fear my spears more than your whips.


  • Various Discworld novels deal with this theme.
    • There's a line in Jingo where Vimes pretty much says this to a less-than-loyal sailor regarding a dangerous beach.
      • Also in Jingo is Colon being motivated to go through with the spy mission by the fact that his fear of Vetinari is stronger than his fear of the dangers of the mission.
    • In Lords and Ladies Nanny Ogg rallies the villagers against the invading elves by pointing out that when they march off to face them, she'll be following on behind a little...just in case.

 "Well," she said, "it's like this. If you go out there you may have to face elves. But if you stops here, you definitely have to face me. Now, elves is worse than me, I'll admit. But I'm persistent."

    • In Interesting Times Cohen the Barbarian tries this, but without success - the villain in this case has quite a nasty reputation:

 [The Lord Chamberlain] risked looking up and found the point of Cohen's sword just in front of his eyes.

"Yeah, but right now who're you more frightened of? Me or this Lord Hong?"

"Uh... Lord Hong!"

Cohen raised an eyebrow. "Really? I'm impressed."

  • In the Gaunt's Ghosts novel His Last Command, Gaunt tells some soldiers that he could tell them he was more frightening than the enemy.
  • Marauders of Gor. The alien Kurii have commandeered the Beautiful Slave Girls of the Torvalslanders along with other livestock. The slave girls are terrified of the Kurii, but are given orders by their masters, which they obey.

 We would soon see if such feared sleen and Kurii more, or Gorean males, their masters. If they did not obey, they would be slain. As slaves, they were commanded; as slaves, did they fail to comply, they would be put to death. They had no choice. They would obey.

  • In Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, a group of Death Eaters run amok at the Quidditch World Cup as the Ministry tries in vain to control them. The riot only ends once an unknown person conjures the symbol of Voldemort, from which the Death Eaters immediately retreat. They're more afraid of the punishment they'll get for denouncing Voldemort when he lost his power than they are of the Ministry.

Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer 40000:
    • Part of the Commissar's job is to embody this. Possible death at the hands of of reality-defying abominations or a Horde of Alien Locusts may be terrifying, but certain death for cowardice is a big motivator.
    • Valhallan Ice Warriors: "I don't know what effect they have on the enemy, but by the Emperor, they terrify me." Said by their commanding general no less.
  • Warhammer 40000 rpg Black Crusade has a rule for this. If your minions are up against a fear-causing foe, you can try to terrify them into attacking anyway because you happen to be the scarier threat.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, one version of the "Raging Goblin" card (the Exodus one) has this in the flavour text: "Volrath has bred them to fear only him. Are they charging to battle or merely fleeing his wrath?"

Video Games

  • In Medieval Total War, you can try to counteract a dreaded general with a chivalrous one... or you could just use a ten-dread general yourself and make the enemy break first!
  • Iji: The unnamed author of a certain text log in Sector X seems to take this approach to leadership, ending his message to his troops with "If you're more afraid of [the title character] than ME, you're a TRAITOR."
  • In Fallout: New Vegas this can work against Caesar's legion on one occasion. There's a quest where you can be hired by the NCR to help interrogate a Legion officer they've captured. If your character has a high enough intelligence, then the best solution is to convince him you're a Legion assassin sent to punish him for allowing himself to be captured. He's obviously more afraid of the Legion than the NCR, and in his panic and indignation he lists everything he'd done for the Legion lately, which is exactly what the NCR wanted to know.
  • The opening of Neverwinter Nights 2 has you rallying West Harbor's militia to fend off an attack by bladelings and duergar. When you encounter one cowardly member of the militia, you have the option of telling him that if he doesn't head for the front line, you'll kill him before the enemy does... or beating him until he joins the fray.
  • Ghirahim pulls this when he throws his entire army at Link in an attempt to stop him interrupting the ritual to resurrect Demise.

 Hear me, my hordes! The spell will soon be complete! The demon king returns! Until then, you WILL keep that whelp from interfering with my ritual. I don't care if the whole lot of you get lodged on the end of his blade. You will buy me the time I need! Do not fear him... Fear my wrath if you fail me!

Web Comics

Western Animation

 Azula: Do the tides command this ship?

Captain: Uh, no, Princess.

Azula: And if I were to have you thrown overboard, would the tides think twice about smashing your body against the rocks?

Captain: N-no, P-princess...

Azula: So why don't you stop worrying about the tides, which have already made up their mind about killing you, and start worrying about me, who's still mulling it over.

Real Life

  • Truth in Television, but it can be inverted when one is afraid of one's underlings. There's a probably apocryphal quote attributed to the Duke of Wellington to the effect that the French would have to be terrified of his troops, since he certainly was.
  • Josef Stalin is quoted as saying "in the Soviet Army it takes more courage to retreat than to advance."
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.