The scariest thing about joining the military is coming face-to-face with a legendary drill sergeant or, if you’re in the Marine Corps, drill instructor. DIs tend to viciously yell, violently jump around, and throw your sh*t all over the place to get inside your mind and train you up to be a solid, enduring troop.
On several occasions, Hollywood has attempted to highlight the traits of an excellent drill sergeant on the big screen — many of these portrayals were, admittedly, pretty bad. However, they have managed to recreate the drill sergeant’s intensity and grim sense of humor a handful of times.
Here are 7 of the best drill sergeants and drill instructors to ever hit the screen
1. Maj. Benson Winifred Payne (Major Payne)
Technically, this character wasn’t a drill instructor, but he did train a group of misfit teens at a military academy. Payne’s training regiment wasn’t considered dull by any means; he managed to whip his recruits into ship-shape.
2. Sergeant. 1st Class Hulka (Stripes)
If you can train two future-Ghostbusters into soldiers, there isn’t a whole lot you can’t accomplish. Although he was injured during training, he must have left a stain on his crazy recruits’ minds, because they did graduate using the good ol’ razzle-dazzle.
3. Drill Sergeant (Forrest Gump)
This straight-talking drill sergeant got right up in Forrest’s face, spoke to him like a Soldier, and trained him up to be a future Medal of Honor recipient. Although this badass barely had any screen time, he made his presence widely known.
4. Staff Sgt. Fitch (Jarhead)
This on-screen badass used his outside voice and sported a trim, Marine mustache. His menacing demeanor and his ability to effectively use a chalkboard as a recruit head-catching device was pretty impressive.
5. Gunnery Sgt. Jim Moore (The D.I.)
Directed by and starring Jack Webb, The D.I. was centered around Gunnery Sgt. Jim Moore, a hardcore drill instructor that did everything in his power to train his recruits to be the best even when they didn’t believe in themselves, insulting them and comparing them to his 100-year-old grandma all along the way.
6. Gunnery Sgt. Emil Foley (An Officer and a Gentleman)
This badass drill instructor has no problem beating the sh*t out of his OCS students like they used to do back in the day. His strategy for producing the best naval officers is to break the weak and graduate the strong — an awesome tactic.
7. Gunnery Sergeant. Hartman (Full Metal Jacket)
Portrayed by real-life former drill instructor R. Lee Ermey, Gunnery Sgt. Hartman was fueled by real experiences from training young recruits. That authenticity is what ranks Hartman at the top of this list of DIs to hit the big screen.