Top 10 Psychotic Drill Sergeant Characters

Written by Robert Loubier The hardest, toughest, and meanest drill sergeants from movies that we saw abuse and batter characters from recruits into hardened soldiers. WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Movie Drill Sergeants. But what will take the top spot on our list? Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from "Full Metal Jacket', Career Sergeant Zim from 'Starship Troopers', or Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley from 'An Officer and a Gentleman'? Watch to find out! Watch on WatchMojo: Big thanks to roxy and Nirvana213xxxz for suggesting this idea, and to see how WatchMojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: http://WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Movie+Drill+Sergeants

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What is your major malfunction? Welcome to, and today we’re counting down the Top 10 Movie Drill Sergeants.

For this list, we’re taking a look at those big screen drill instructors that make us glad we aren’t in basic training. Whether ruthless, compassionate, or a little bit of both, as long as they performed the duties of a drill sergeant, they were considered.

#10: Sgt. 1st Class Merwin J. Toomey
“Biloxi Blues” (1988)

Christopher Walken brings the wacky, comical yet strict Sergeant Toomey to life in a way only he can. Toomey’s job is to whip a group of naive draftees into shape during World War II while constantly clashing with the recruits. Based on the play by Neil Simon, the comedy-drama sees Toomey as a somewhat friendlier version of the hardnosed, hard drinking platoon leader who puts his men through hell. Eccentric, somewhat sadistic and cruel in his ways, Sergeant Toomey perfectly balances humor and cruelty to earn a spot on this list.

#9: Drill Sergeant
“Forrest Gump” (1994)

You better make sure you answer every question from this man with “yes, drill sergeant.” Although only appearing in the film for mere minutes, Drill Sergeant’s limited screen time is memorable nonetheless. Despite screaming in Forrest’s face for every scene he’s in, he seems to be giving him compliments, although you wouldn’t be able to tell. Drill Sergeant manages to mold Forrest into the perfect soldier via intrusive, neck vein popping screaming and discipline. He’s loud, brash and overbearing - just how we like our drill sergeants.

#8: U.S. Marine Corps Major Benson Winifred Payne
“Major Payne” (1995)

He is a US Marine Corps Major who literally sleeps with his eyes open. They are a bunch of delinquent outcasts who have come in last place in the Virginia Military Games eight years in a row. What’s the worst that could happen when Major Payne takes over the platoon? Deafness, obesity, heart conditions? Those aren’t excuses; Payne demands order and discipline. He’s not about fair or unfair, he’s about achieving the mission. Even the boogeyman in the closet isn’t safe from Major Payne. You want to feel bad for the kids he’s training, but he’s just too over the top to not like – or at least be entertained by.

#7: Sergeant Major Mulcahy
“Glory” (1989)

A tough Irish Sergeant-Major, it is up to Mulcahy to train a regiment of all black soldiers to fight during the American Civil War. Turning a group of freed slaves into one of the first military units in the Union Army is no small task, but luckily Mulcahy is up to it. His tough methods draw the attention of his commanding officer, Colonel Shaw, who views them as being too severe. But Shaw comes to realize that Mulcahy is in fact training the men fairly, and is only preparing them for the extreme challenges they will be facing at war.

#6: Regimental Sergeant Major
“Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life” (1983)

What happens when the Monty Python crew turns their sights to the military? It results in a farcical, preposterous drill sergeant, of course. The Regimental Sergeant Major’s loud, often high-pitched voice, squeaky upward inflection and curly mustache make him not only one of the funnier drill sergeants in film, but also one of the funnier Monty Python characters. When his squad decides they would all rather be doing something else, the Sergeant lets them leave one by one until he is left by himself to march the square. We don’t know what the army is coming to.

#5: Sergeant First Class Hulka
“Stripes” (1981)

In a comedy that features the likes of Bill Murray, John Candy and Harold Ramis, Warren Oates more than holds his own in his side-splitting portrayal of Sergeant Hulka. He comes off as a cliché hard-ass drill sergeant, but watching him try to mold the group of misfits he is in charge of into soldiers, without killing one or all of them, makes Hulka more humorous than anything else. Constantly butting heads with the recruits, and almost getting hit with a mortar, Hulka has his hands full. Full of his recruit’s throats that is.

#4: D.I. Fitch
“Jarhead” (2005)

Much like the drill sergeant from Forrest Gump, Drill Instructor Fitch had limited screen time, but made an impression nonetheless. Fitch will get in your face and play with your head. The loud, always screaming drill instructor isn’t shy about implying that your girlfriend is sleeping with someone else, or that you are in love with him, and he will make you do pushups because of it. The vulgar, abusive things that come out of his mouth will lead even the hardest of men to question whether joining the military was a good idea. And having your head bashed into a chalkboard because you can’t draw doesn’t help.

#3: Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley
“An Officer and a Gentleman” (1982)

Sergeant Emil Foley is a completely ruthless and brutal drill sergeant who puts Richard Gere’s character through hell. He pushes him hard, abusing him both physically and emotionally, but it’s because deep down Foley has a good heart. Despite the cruel treatment he shows to his men throughout the film, something about him tells you he actually cares and has the best intentions. Despite this fact, having him constantly screaming in your face is not something that you would want on a day-to-day basis. Louis Gossett Jr. was so convincing in the role that he won both an Academy Award and Golden Globe for his portrayal of Foley. Truly an officer and a gentleman.

#2: Career Sgt. Zim
“Starship Troopers” (1997)

Zim is a hard-ass drill sergeant in ways no others on this list are. He won’t think twice about throwing a knife at his cadets, breaking their arms or kneeling on their throats until they pass out. And once you’re incapacitated, he’ll simply call for a medic and continue his abuse of the ones who are left standing. When Buenos Aires is destroyed, Zim voluntarily takes a demotion to private just so he can kick some bug butt. What better man to train soldiers to squash the bugs? In a film that goes full throttle and is overflowing with bad-assery, Zim stands out with his over the top tactics and persona.

Before we fall in for our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Sgt. Waters
“A Soldier’s Story” (1984)

- Gunnery Sgt. Jim Moore
“The D.I.” (1957)

#1: Gunnery Sergeant Hartman
“Full Metal Jacket” (1987)

Portrayed by former US Marine Corps staff sergeant and real life drill instructor R. Lee Ermey, Gunny Sergeant Hartman could be considered the mold almost every other onscreen drill sergeant is made from. His sole purpose is to turn recruits into hardened, disciplined killing machines for his beloved Corps and he won’t tolerate anything less. Toe jam? Foot locker unlocked? Is there a jelly doughnut in said foot locker? You can bet Hartman will be there to put the entire unit through hell all while the most offensive insults come out of his mouth at full speed. No doubt Ermey drew from his real life military experiences, and it earned him a Golden Globe nomination – as well as the top spot on our list.

Do you agree with our list? Who is your favorite movie drill sergeant? For more disciplined Top 10’s published every day, be sure to subscribe to

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