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Zapp Brannigan is repeatedly shown to be incompetent. However, he is the captain of the Nimbus and a rather high ranking officer in DOOP.

Is there anything that would indicate what he did to get to this position?

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    He defeated a horde of something-somethings in the something zone, as I heard it. – Jeff Jun 13 '12 at 20:21
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Likely, nothing significant. Most of his famous victories were against completely ineffectual or even pacifist aliens. When the aliens were actually dangerous, Brannigan would mount impressive casualties in the name of winning the conflict. Needless to say, he is hated by his men.

Zapp is Futurama's example of the science fiction trope General Failure (TV Tropes link, beware the time-vortex properties of this site. You have been warned). He is completely incompetent, utterly useless, and his only real reason for any success comes from his long-term, suffering Second-in-Command, Kif Kroker.

Brannigan rarely comes into military conflict with any competent alien space armadas, and when he does, he usually runs and allows his fleet to suffer the casualties in his stead.

Brannigan is Futurama's nod to the boss who is in charge of something really important, but doesn't have the first idea of what to do with it. He is a sexist, bigoted, oversexed, under-performing (especially from Leela's perspective) and generally incompetent in every way. Any successes he boasts only exist because ultimately they will lead to even larger and more spectacular failures later.

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    You have violated a rule of the Internet: Thou Shalt Mark Thine TV Tropes links. – Jeff Jun 13 '12 at 20:21
  • Sorry, didn't know I needed to do that. – Thaddeus Howze Jun 13 '12 at 20:31
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    @Thaddeus: You don't have to. It's much more fun for the people when they find out for themselves :> – bitmask Jun 13 '12 at 20:44
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I see Zap as one of those egotistical, manipulative people that just knows how to get what he wants. He's very good at getting people to believe and do things he says, as demonstrated by his ability to get Leela to sleep with him without her even realizing it. It's likely he is just really good at talking. People are suckers for someone who can babble about issues without really talking about those issues.

As well, his deceit of others helps him along greatly. For example, when he and Leela are "stranded" on an island which turns out to be on Earth during the Adam and Eve episode, he lies and makes her believe that they are the only two left.as long as he maintains his deceit, nothing bad can happen to him. In order to get re-instated to DOOP, he lies and says that he is the hero. If the crew had told the truth, his respect would have fallen because he wouldn't be able to maintain the deceit, but their desire to get rid of him and his massive ego cause them to go along with it. So in the end, his massive ego contributes to his manipulation of others.

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  • That's a very good answer - indeed, it appears that he's good at talking about issues! And you're right - people are suckers for braggarts even in real life! Thanks for answering! – Aditya Simha Jun 29 '12 at 0:19
  • I have merged this answer into the duplicate question thread. I think it can stand as it is, but maybe you want to make sure that you're happy with the phrasing. – balpha Jun 29 '12 at 8:24
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Zapp Brannigan has developed his own quite effective military strategy brilliantly coming up with plans so simple an idiot could have devised them. Also unlike many cowards he is perfectly willing to send countless waves of brave soldiers to die for their planet an effective tactic against the killbots of the Octillian System who had a preset kill limit of 999,999.

And that is just getting started he vanquished the pacifists of the Gandhi Nebula, he conquered the retiree people of the assisted living nebula, he defeated the weak and womanlike Spiderians of Tarantulon 6, and he liberated Spheron 1 of its native inhabitants. He managed to accomplish all this while battling crippling sexlexia, truly this man is an Earthican hero.

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His success comes from how he presents himself as a success to those that matter and when he puts his absurd ideas into effect others correct them and make them work which makes him look good. When they go badly he quickly blames others (like Kiff) and they cannot argue(ish) as he is a senior officer.

Therefore he appears (to those above him who only see the big picture) to have the combined wisdom and intelligence of all those under him whilst being blameless when things go wrong because his orders were disobeyed.

This is of course utterly unlike the modern army ... erm ... hang on ...

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