How to deal with anti-authoritarian player characters?


One player I infrequently role play with (let’s call him Bob) seems to have a bit of an issue with authority – or at the very least he likes playing characters who do. It’s not that he does not respect the GM, but he gets very defensive (sometimes even aggressively so) if any kind of authority figures try to influence his character or restrict their freedom.

Bob often plays Rambo/Stallone/Schwarzenegger style characters who seem to have the motto "It’s my way or the highway" and whose default problem solving approach involves enough firearms and explosives to equip a small militia.

This isn’t a problem per se, as the group Bob is normally playing in is happily doing action- and combat-heavy campaigns, so there is a lot to shoot at and blow up. But even in these campaigns there will eventually appear some NPC/group/etc. who — through legal position, superior force or some other reason — has authority over the player characters. And who most of us (foremost the GM) would like not to see blown up shortly after their introduction. And while I totally understand Bob’s wish to preserve character agency, his sometimes positively suicidal decisions can be detrimental to the game and the plot.

An example from a Star Wars campaign:

After trespassing in Wookie territory the party was snatched up and brought to the clan chief. The chief said he needed the party’s help and would in turn forgive their trespassing – but would keep some gear as collateral. Bob’s reaction to this: pulling out a thermal detonator, trying to coerce the chief into letting them go. When this failed he detonated the TD, blowing up half the assembled clan, the party (miraculously saved by the GM) and, incidentally, the plot.

We tried talking to Bob out of the game but it seems he is also suffering from my-guy syndrome (i.e. "this is totally how the character would have reacted, sorry it’s just good RP"). And any kind of in-game reaction will provoke even more rebellious and chaotic actions from him (i.e. force escalation).

How can we handle this as a group? As the GM?