Hugh Paulsen

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Hugh Paulsen
Place of death On a shuttle in the Masa System
Allegiance Terran Confederation, Black Lance
Years of service -2673
Rank Captain
Unit TCS Potemkin
Commands TCS Lexington
Battles/wars Terran-Kilrathi War
Border Worlds Conflict

Hugh Paulsen was an officer of the Terran Confederation and an operative of the secretive Black Lance faction.

Very little is known of Paulsen's history or his service with the Terran Confederation, although he likely served during the Terran-Kilrathi War. By 2673, he held the rank of Captain and was attached to the Confederation 3rd Fleet.

During the 2670s, Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn secretly formed the Black Lance, an illegal Special Forces faction that aimed to remilitarize the Confederation after the War's end in order to prepare for future conflicts. He aimed to accomplish this through starting a war with the Union of Border Worlds. Captain Paulsen threw all of his support behind the Admiral and was one of the Black Lance's top commanders and financiers.

During the Border Worlds Conflict in 2673, Captain Paulsen was reassigned to the TCS Lexington, which at the time was commanded by Captain William Eisen of the famed TCS Victory. Paulsen then assumed command of the vessel and told Eisen that he was to be reassigned immediately by the orders of High Command. In reality, the Black Lance had suspected that Eisen suspected Confed of being the true instigator of the conflict, and had sent Paulsen to silence Eisen and eventually have him executed. Paulsen commanded the Lexington with an iron fist, with the backing of other Black Lance operatives who were serving on the vessel. His bureaucratic style of command put him at odds with the original crew.

Paulsen led an illegal assault against the Border Worlds when he sent Colonel Christopher Blair to seize the Masa Science Station, a Border Worlds facility that Paulsen insisted belonged to Confed. He followed up this success with a strike on a Border Worlds convoy that had invaded Terran airspace. Many crew members of the Lexington questioned his actions.

While in Masa, Paulsen was greeted by a man named "Seether", the Black Lance's psychotic second-in-command. He quickly asserted control over Paulsen and demanded that Colonel Blair and Captain Eisen be dealt with before they could threaten Tolwyn's plans. When Eisen and Major Todd "Maniac" Marshall escaped the Lexington on a shuttle, Paulsen gave pursuit, sending Blair and his wing to stop Eisen. Unfortunately for Paulsen, Blair and most of his wing instead joined and Eisen and fled to the BWS Intrepid, the Border Worlds flagship. Paulsen pursued the defectors to Silenos, where he hoped to trap the renegade crew.

Paulsen's attack ended in failure when the pilots of the Intrepid, led by Colonel Blair, attacked the Lexington head-on in an attempt to disable the vessel. Despite heavy resistance, Blair disabled the vessel and the Intrepid fled to friendly airspace. Paulsen and Seether abandoned the Lexington and fled on a shuttle, where Seether derided the Captain for his failure to kill Blair when he had the chance. Paulsen was then "reassigned", as Seether slit his throat with a laser knife, ending the bureaucratic tyrant's life. His body was later thrown out of the airlock.


Hugh Paulsen has been described by many as highly bureaucratic and is among the most despised Wing Commander characters. He is a stickler for rules and regulations to the point where he openly abuses them, seeking to assert his authority over others in every way possible. He makes no secret of his disregard and hatred for those who are either inferior in rank or rival his own prestige, and always tries to keep them in line. He is highly ambitious and is geared towards achieving the approval and praise of his superiors. Finally, he had no qualms over financing the genocidal campaign orchestrated by Admiral Tolwyn, and fought for the success of his goals up until his death.

Behind the Scenes

  • Hugh Paulsen was portrayed by the late American actor John Spencer, who was widely known for his role as White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry on the NBC drama The West Wing. The last two episodes of that series in which Spencer was present are dedicated to his memory.
  • Paulsen's last name is spelled "Paulson" in the novel, but as "Paulsen" in the games.