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~ Jessup's most famous line.
We use words like "honor", "code", "loyalty". We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it! I would rather you just said "thank you", and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a DAMN what you think you are entitled to!
~ Jessup's monologue to Daniel Kaffee about the Marines.

Colonel Nathan Roy Jessup is the main antagonist of Aaron Sorkin's stage play A Few Good Men as well as its 1992 film adaptation.

He was portrayed by Jack Nicholson, who also played Jack Torrance in the 1980 film The Shining, Daryl Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick, The Joker in the 1989 Batman film, Jimmy Hoffa in the 1992 film Hoffa, and Frank Costello in the 2006 film The Departed.


Jessup was the commanding officer of the ground forces stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. His Marines worked as a machine with lots of help from his two right-hand men named Lt. Col. Matthew Markinson and Lt. Kendrick. When one of the men made a mistake, it was the job of the other men to never let that one Marine forget it. Jessup ordered a couple of Marines to use a hazing technique known as a "Code Red" on an underperforming Marine named Santiago, in order to get him out of the unit on a medical discharge. The Marines go too far, however, and accidentally kill Santiago.

Faced with incredible embarrassment, Jessup did everything he could to cover up the details of the order given to the two young Marines now on trial for murder. They were left out to dry, facts were covered up, and official documents were falsified. Attorney Lt. Daniel Kaffee is hired to plea bargain for the two Marines and sweep the case under a rug, but ends up uncovering a conspiracy.

When called to the stand, Col. Jessup condemns Kaffee as a hypocrite, enjoying the freedom Jessup fights for while questioning the means he uses to ensure it. In an unguarded moment, he admits that he ordered the "Code Red" because Santiago was dragging the rest of the unit down. He is later arrested in court.


  • In the stage version, Jessup was ranked a Lieutenant Colonel.
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