Fisher King

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Verence I: Remember, good sisters, the land and the king are one.
Nanny Ogg: One what?


A house says a lot about the people living in it: their social and economic status, their religion and culture, their cleanliness. The same can be said about a king and his kingdom. You're unlikely to find Moloch the Despoiler ruling Hippity Hoppity Happy Hare Hill, and a place like the Firepits of Wrath is most certainly not going to be ruled by the iron-fisted Tooth Fairy (unless, of course, he's that Tooth Fairy)... though the Orcs would have had much better dental hygiene.

The land of the Fisher King not only reflects the kind of rule they impose, but their moral alignment, state of health, and in some cases even their mood. ("The Land and the King are One.") In this kingdom the "divine right of kings" extends to a righteous link with the land. This is either a blessing or a curse, because though their joy brings eternal spring and bounty, their sadness and anger heralds rain and thunderstorms respectively. If the king is dying or goes mad, expect the kingdom to become sickly and its inhabitants unhinged. If he's replaced by a villain, they either "inherit" the link or the kingdom itself resents this affront to the natural order and becomes a truly depressing Mordor-like place to live. (Or even wintry.)

The replacement of the Big Bad on the throne can produce remarkably quick changes. Either Cue the Sun or Happy Rain is possible, depending on what effect the Big Bad had. A full blown World-Healing Wave isn't out of the question if they were really bad.

May require a king of the right family. Of course, in those works, the rightful king tends to be the good king.

The Trope Namer is the guardian of the Holy Grail in some versions of the Arthurian legends. He is wounded in the leg or thigh, which is a medieval euphemism for the genitals, and unable to fulfill the duties of a ruler. (Primary of which is continuance of the royal line.) So he takes up fishing, while his lands rot. To cure the king and his realm and win the Grail, The Chosen One (usually Perceval or Galahad) must ask him a specific question, which varies between accounts: usually either something about the Grail or asking the king what ails him, or the average airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.

Contrast Friend to All Living Things and Enemy to All Living Things, where their mere existence causes the changes (on a small scale).

Subtrope of Royalty Super Power. See also No Ontological Inertia, Terminally Dependent Society and Genius Loci. If the place has this effect on its inhabitants, it's a Fisher Kingdom. If you are looking for the film of the same name, hop on over to The Fisher King. Oh, and this has nothing to do with that Fisher, or the Fisher Princess.

Examples of Fisher King include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Magic Knight Rayearth, the land of Cephiro is directly connected to how devoted its ruler, the Pillar, is to it. One of the major conflicts in the series occurs when the heroines ask whether or not this is right, after the Pillar summons them to kill her since she has fallen in love with her right hand man, cannot abdicate her position, and the conflict between her love and her duty is literally destroying Cephiro.
  • Each country in The Twelve Kingdoms is governed by an immortal ruler chosen by a holy creature called a kirin. If the ruler rules his or her kingdom effectively and with benevolence, the land prospers. If the ruler grows corrupt, the land is beset by plagues and natural disasters. Also, the kirin sickens and dies, which, in turn, causes the ruler to sicken and die. If the ruler reforms before the death of the kirin, both can become well again - although such a thing has yet to happen in the recorded history of that world. There have, however, been instances of rulers committing suicide upon recognizing the illness of their kirin, which let them get better and be able to choose a new king - like Queen Joukaku of Kei, who did that to save her land and her kirin Keiki; and king Shishou of Sai, whose death saved his kirin Sairin and let her choose his adoptive mother Chuukin as Queen..
  • The films of Hayao Miyazaki tend to be full of this, with "good" represented by "natural".
    • In Castle in the Sky, by the end, after its destructive capabilities have been destroyed, Laputa is left as a great tree surrounded by the overgrown gardens.
    • In Princess Mononoke, after the death of the Shishigami and Lady Eboshi turning over a new leaf, Irontown's exterior becomes covered with greenness.
    • Commentary about Howl's Moving Castle reveals that the art division wanted to give the castle a total makeover for the end, but because that wasn't realistic, they settled for letting the garden grow over the sides.
    • In Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, Ponyo's half-way status causes enormous floods and draws the moon close to earth.

Comic Books

  • The Dreaming, the kingdom of Morpheus in The Sandman; he literally is his kingdom, and it obeys his commands and bends to his will. This leads to the inhabitants knowing he was angst- ridden when it rained for months on end.
In the spinoff series Lucifer, Elaine, guardian spirit of Lucifer's world, inadvertently causes the environment around her to decay when she's angry. When Mazikeen points this out, Elaine controls her temper and the environment is restored.
  • Isis in 52 brought beautiful flora to the country of Kahndaq, until she became saddened, then it poured with rain for weeks - and when she fell ill, the plants withered and died.
  • Though not always the official ruler of anything, Marvel's Storm has this effect; her mutant weather-control powers tend to cause local weather to change to reflect her mood. In her past, this caused villagers to worship her as a goddess; unlike a true Fisher Queen, the power is not dependent on her location, though it could be interpreted as being linked to the Earth itself.
  • The Justice League of America once fought Rama Khan, ruler of the hidden magic kingdom of Jarhanpur. Not only was the land a paradise so long as the Khan was happy, he could cause the earth of his country itself to rise up and smack people around when they displeased him. Likewise, the loss of his heir threatened to destroy the entire nation.
  • In WITCH the Oracle is this for Kandrakar, as the Fortress changes to reflect the reigning Oracle. Already hinted when Phobos managed to take over the position for a while and Kandrakar became similar to Meridian under his reign and resumed its previous appearance as soon as Himerish returned the Oracle, it was confirmed at the end of the New Power story arc, when Yan Lin becoming the new Oracle changed the look of the Fortress as soon as she decided it.


  • Excalibur, and the way Britain falls apart as King Arthur does, but after he drinks from the Holy Grail the sun emerges and the trees blossom.
  • In Super Mario Bros, when Koops takes over he turns the king into a fungus, using his evolution ray to de-evolve him all the way back to a fungal state. Under Koopa, the dinosaur city was a giant slum infested with fungus. On Koopa's defeat, the fungus recedes when noble king is restored.
  • Laura in Men In Black II is the semi-divine daughter of an alien queen and has a similar link to the weather.

Agent K: "Ever notice how whenever you're sad, it rains?"
Laura: "Lots of people get sad when it rains."
Agent K: "It rains because you're sad."

  • In Pirates of the Caribbean, the captain of the Flying Dutchman has this effect on the ship. A good captain has a nice ship, while a corrupt one (Davy Jones) makes the ship a little fishy. Thus, when Will Turner becomes the captain, the ship's appearance improves and the sailors are no longer human-fish hybrids. In fact, you can see the fishy bits falling off of his crew when he takes over. Will's father even takes the starfish off his face on camera.
  • David Lynch's Film of the Book Dune ends with Paul Atreides taking up his rightful place as the Kwisatz Haderach, at which point Arrakis, a planet defined by its absurd dearth of water, is consumed by a torrential downpour of rain. Subtle. In the book, it took years of terraforming.[1]
  • In Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal, the area around the crystal castle is barren and gloomy while the Skeksis are in power. Once the Ancients return and hand it over to the Gelflings, cue sunshine and green grass everywhere.
  • In The Lord of the Rings the corruption of Sauron is reflected in the harsh barren landscape of Mordor. After Sauron's overthrow, the land literally opens up and swallows his army. Handled a bit better if less visually interesting in the book.
    • The Plateau of Gorgoroth is not evil-looking because Sauron set up his home there; it was the volcano that causes the region to be so barren and foreboding that brought Sauron there in the first place.
    • In the movie Aragorn made the Tree of the Kings bloom with his sheer presence, while in the book he had to find a new tree to replace the dead old one.
  • Scotland, PA is a black comedy adaptation of Macbeth. The Fisher King trope of the original is inverted: When Joe McBeth kills Norm Duncan and takes over Duncan's Cafe (renaming it "McBeth's") business starts booming. After McBeth's death, Lt. McDuff turns it into a vegetarian restaurant and business completely dries up.
  • Shrek Forever After. Seen in Far Far Away after Rumplestiltskin takes over, though the sheer luxury of his palace implies it's simply because he's so greedy he doesn't spend any money on maintaining his kingdom.
    • When Prince Charming takes over Far Far Away in Shrek the Third, he turns it from a beautiful kingdom to a barren ghost town, and even renames it "Go Go Away."
  • Thomas and the Magic Railroad. With Lady not having been in steam and running on it for decades, the eponymous Magic Railroad has become overgrown by of vines and apparently sunk below ground, and is in danger of vanishing. When Lady is steamed up again and travels on the tracks once more, the railroad is revitalized. Light shines through, brighter and brighter. The rails gleam, and the foliage shrinks away, shortly after which Lady's face reappears.


  • Patricia A. McKillip's Riddle of Stars trilogy lives and breathes this trope. All the land-rulers are Fisher Kings, that's just the nature of the universe.
  • In Being a Green Mother, the fifth book in Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series, Gaea's fury over being deceived by the man she's in love with triggers massive earth-wide storms. Later, when she's grieving, her tears are echoed by worldwide rain.
  • In John Barnes's One for the Morning Glory, Overhill has been reduced to a wasteland under the reign of the usurper Waldo. Queen Calliope, returning, is told that it has even become better since the usurper left to continue his conquests.
  • J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan works this way. Neverland awakes when Peter returns. When he becomes angry, the land is covered in storms. When he's happy, it's sunny and summer. The 2003 movie version uses this trope abundantly; Hook and the pirates assume that because it's snowing and a raging storm has suddenly appeared, Peter has to be dead ( He's not, he's grieving for Tinkerbell's Heroic Sacrifice). When the storm suddenly becomes a shining summer day (When Tinkerbell returns to life), Hook immediately realizes that it means Peter's still alive.
  • In both the film and the book The Last Unicorn, the land of King Haggard (exactly like he sounds) is a barren wasteland. (With, in the book, one particular exception.) When he dies and is succeeded by his adopted son, the countryside begins to bloom again.
    • Though part of that was because all the unicorns in the world went stampeding across it after being freed from the Red Bull. Given the apparent powers of unicorns, that would tend to springify the place.
  • In Terry Brooks' novel, Magic Kingdom for Sale, the palace in the Magical Land has a larder which restocks itself. Sterling Silver itself, as well as her larder, became tarnished, decrepit, and dying due to the neglect and ruin that spread from there being no legitimate king. While the contract set up by the land's old rulers made anyone who 'filled the spot' a technically legal king, none of them were morally right or fit to hold the throne. Years of one such selfish, frivolous, ineffectual king after another was just as bad as having no king at all, with the trend not reversed until Ben came along. But that fits this trope even better.
  • In Terry Brooks' Shannara series, several ancient fey have their domains reflect their personalities. The King of the Silver River, though ancient and appearing as a stooped old man, is good at heart and his land is generally considered a haven for travelers from the monsters of surrounding lands. Meanwhile, Uhl Belk, the Stone King, is attempting (of course) to turn everything to stone, not realizing that his doing so is hurting him, as well...
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's The Curse of Chalion, the royal family's curse causes every decision they make, be it directing a war or political maneuverings, to have the worst possible outcome.
    • More that the curse twists against their actions, increasing the likelihood of failure by mischance or enemy action. Were the worst possible outcome the only option, they would never have broken the thing at all.
  • The fairy kingdom of Lost-hope in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Under the dominion of the Gentleman with the thistle-down hair, an amorally cruel and capricious and extremely narcissistic fairy, it is a sad and dismal place, a derelict manor on a windswept moor surrounded by a dark leafless wood, with the remains of ancient battles rotting outside. The fairy inhabitants spend their time in endless balls, they have "idled away their days in pointless pleasures and in celebrations of past cruelties". After the Gentleman with the thistle-down hair is defeated and the new king approaches, Lost-hope becomes a gentler place, more ancient and primeval but also "possessed of a spirit of freshness, of innocence", and the barren winter trees start to show the first hints of fresh green. The Gentleman also does this to Venice while Strange is living there, turning into a Goth Punk city as part of a plan to drive Strange insane.
  • Merry Gentry - by Laurell K Hamilton. The Courts of Faerie are only as alive and fertile as their rulers. Both Taranis (Seelie Court) and Andais (Unseelie Court) learn of their infertility, and handle it differently. Taranis, King of Illusion, pretends everything is fine, and murders, banishes or beats anyone who says otherwise, terrified of losing his throne (and life). Andais, after centuries of a dying sithen and a bloodthirsty tyrannical rule, finally gives in and goes to a human doctor, who confirms her infertility. She grudgingly agrees to give up the throne to whichever of her two descendants can make a baby first.
  • Michael Ende's The Neverending Story: Phantasién (or Fantasia/Fantastica) is linked to the Childlike Empress: She is the source of all life, and without her, the world could no longer live, like a human body that had lost its heart. As an extension of this, Phantasién is subjected to The Nothing whenever the Childlike Empress needs a new name.
  • In Simon R. Green's Blood and Honour, Castle Midnight starts sliding into a hellish (literally) state without a King. As soon as a King is on the throne again the darkness subsides.
  • As Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time goes on, the world becomes a worse place to live, the weather system is screwy as hell, and chaos reigns in most of the countries due to years of near constant warfare, from civil strife to human to inhuman invasion. Bubbles of Evil cover the earth killing people, and ghosts are even appearing as the Pattern itself becomes unstable. This is reflected by Rand's mental health, as he slowly goes mad. By the end of Knife of Dreams Rand is schizophrenic, is missing a hand, and his eyes are damaged. He also has the traditional unhealing wound in his side. Moridin even refers to Rand as the Fisher King, after a crucial piece in a complicated, nearly forgotten board game. Even in book 1 (when the weather was only mildly odd and Rand not yet mad or injured) we get the phrase, 'The Dragon is one with the land, and the land is one with the Dragon'.
In the conclusion of The Gathering Storm, Rand has gone through his Despair Event Horizon and out the other side, and it's implied he has fixed his schizophrenia--at any rate, Lews Therin won't be talking in his head anymore--and, for the first time in virtually the entire book, the clouds break and pure sunlight shines through. Immediately following this in the next book, Rand makes an entire orchard of rotten apples grow instantly, and wherever he goes, the clouds clear up and the sun shines.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's Five Hundred Kingdoms series, this is seen as a manifestation of "The Tradition", a universal force that basically compels the world to act out fairy tales.
  • A variant and partial inversion from Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series: After Ancar usurps the throne of Hardorn, he damages the land by draining its magical energy for his own use. After he gets taken down, the locals insist that his replacement accept a magical link to the land to prevent him from doing the same, since harming the land would mean harming himself. Since the land is still damaged when this happens, this is rather unpleasant for the new king at first.
  • In Tanith Lee's Death's Master, Narasen's kingdom is cursed to be as barren as she was. After her death, she returns and reinvokes the curse in jealous revenge, contaminating the land with the poison that killed her.
  • In Tamora Pierce's Tortall Universe series the King eventually gains possession of a jewel that can make the land itself rise against invaders if necessary. Notable in that there is a huge famine as a result of using that power after the King is forced to use it, and as later described by the characters, the power to make the land attack the invaders came from the living potential of the entire kingdom's stores of edible plants - specifically, the stores that would have been used to produce a crop for the next year. Result: a near bankrupt kingdom for several years because they had to buy all the food that they would normally have grown. Not exactly the best start to the new king's reign, but it gets better.
  • Lancre in Discworld rebels depending on how much the king likes the country itself and cares about ruling in general. How the ruler treats the people of the country is seen as somewhat irrelevant, as Lancre residents share the pragmatic view everyday life really isn't affected by kings most of the time.
    • For that matter, Carrot has a remarkable ability to bring people around to his point of view, even if said people are residents of Ankh-Morpork. Practically everyone in the city knows him; he's also very well-liked, and no one has been known to actually dislike him. Part of his charisma may come from his naturally humble and bright outlook on life. Of course, it could also be attributable to the fact that he is the rightful heir to the vacated throne of Ankh-Morpork, and in the Disc's magical environment, such titles carry a lot more meaning behind them.
  • Warcraft novel Rise of the Horde. When the orcs lived in harmony with their surroundings and respected the elements, the land was lush and verdant, but when they started using Fel magic, life was slowly being drained from the land, who as a result eventually turned most of their home planet into a dry, red wasteland.
  • The kingdoms in Mirror Dreams, each being constructed out of raw magic by a single mage, tend to reflect their creator's personality. More powerful mage, bigger kingdom. Stormpoint, home of protagonist Laenan Kite, responds to his moods by changing the weather.
  • In What Dreams May Come, everyone in the afterlife is ruler of their own personal Heaven. Interestingly, the protagonist's "paradise" is heavily influenced by his still-living wife, as it's originally based on her paintings.
  • In Robin McKinley's Chalice, the Master of a demesne is a Fisher King. Apparently that is not enough: the demesne needs an entire Fisher Court to run properly. Every demesne is like this, and part of the reason things were so unbalanced is because the emperor (the Master of the Masters) was a corrupt, evil man.
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms - A number of strange omens including a hen attempting to crow are taken as signs that the current imperial line is falling out of favor with the heavens.
  • Harry Potter: Though he is relatively incompetent as Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge was still a good person, and as such, the wizarding world was a joyous place. Diagon Alley was lively and fun. Other wizarding communities were peaceful and happy. When Voldemort started to have a grip over the wizarding world in the 6th book (and downright took complete control in the 7th), Diagon Alley became barren and other wizarding (and non-wizarding) communities became dark, dreary, and chilly. Admittedly, the earlier is justified in that the Death Eaters roamed Diagon Alley, and the latter is justified because Voldemort had Dementors roaming through the villages, and they have that sort of effect on their current environment.
  • In the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, the eponymous forest apparently has a kind of low-level sentience, which is linked to the status of its king. If he dies, the forest reacts in a dramatic fashion. As one character mentions, reflecting on a prior such occasion, "none of us got any sleep for three weeks."
  • In novel Inne Pieśni (The Other Songs) by Polish author Jacek Dukaj (pity the fact he's not translated into English, guys and girls!), world is ruled by both "casual" kings (who do not exhibit this trope) and kratistoi, virtually demigods whose Determinator-plus level force of will influences both people and land of their domains.
  • Happens all the time in Tolkien's Middle-earth writings. Justified when the kings in question are semi-divine, and their will and nature has direct influence on physical matter; so the land of the Valar (angels) is paradisaical, the land ruled by Morgoth (Satan) or Sauron (Satan Jr.) is always hellish. Tolkien referred to these effects as "Secondary World Powers" in his commentaries.
Also, the forest kingdom of Doriath is protected by Queen Melian's divine magic, an almost literal fence or maze that keeps unwanted visitors out. When the King dies and she abandons the land, Doriath is very soon overrun by its enemies. Galadriel, though an Elf, learned a lot under Melian and hence later on she does something very similar for Lórien.
  • In the Second Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, Lord Foul is a sort of Fisher King, or rather the Fisher King's illness. His presence corrupts the magical Earthpower, causing the Sunbane which warps the Land's weather so severely that travel is impossible without powerful magic. His defeat allows Linden to restore the natural order.
  • A rather large part of T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land. The motif of dry/wet and its symbolism of life, death, and resurrection recur in the poem, and parts III and V explicitly refer to the Arthurian motif. Indeed, Eliot's notes to the poem specifically cite From Ritual to Romance, a book which discusses the origins of the Fisher King motif in Arthurian legend in much detail.
  • The villain of Tim Powers's Last Call is a gangster who claimed the archetype of the Emperor over Las Vegas. Before doing so, however, he was shot there by his wife... and used the iconography of the Fisher King to rally power for his takeover when he usurped the position from Bugsy Siegel. He then used his power to "tamp down" the wild magic of Vegas and kill any potential challengers for the throne, so it's no big surprise that he doesn't care for the "makes the land suffer" aspect of the archetype. The novel contains many references to The Waste Land.
  • Also by Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark: It is implied that the 1529 siege of Vienna (a real historical event) happened because the western Fisher King was sick, inviting an attack from the Eastern King. When the Western King is treated, the Turkish army gives up and goes away.
  • In The Bible, God makes this an explicit promise and threat against the people of Israel: if they obey His commandments, God will make their land prosper, but if they disobey, God will send famine and drought to punish them.
  • In Diane Duane's The Tale of Five, Kings and Lords are bound to their lands. In times of famine, a Lord may be sacrificed to the land by his people, his body being plowed into the soil; this normally helps matters. One of the signs of the evil taking over the land is it interfering with that ancient bond.
  • In The Tale of Desperaux, the queen of the land dies driving the king into an extended depression in which the once happy kingdom becomes dreary, overcast, and generally miserable.
  • In Stephen Hunt's The Rise of the Iron Moon, the new queen goes barefoot because she can feel the land, and communicates with it and a long-dead queen, and declares, justly, that she is the land and the land is she.
  • In a Inversion, Christopher Anvil's short story The Troublemaker features a planet where the King, a volunteer who serves a term, and every noble in the realm currently in office, have devices called neuristers surgically implanted in parts of their bodies. When triggered, the neurister stimulates a nearby nerve with, depending on the circumstances, a sense of uneasiness, pressure, itching, burning, feeling of pain or downright agony. Each subject of the kingdom has implanted within them a transmitter that sets it off, and neuristers correspond to a geographical region. So if a natural disaster hits somewhere, every noble with power in the region feels pain. Oh, and if any noble even thinks of evading duty, every single neurister in their body activates.
  • Played with a couple of times in books by Diana Wynne Jones. In Hexwood, Reigner Two (who is "King Ambitas" of the illusory Arthurian castle created by the Bannus) has clearly heard of the legend and cannily uses his "wound" (actually just a bruise) to delay indefinitely doing anything very much, especially marrying Reigner Three.
    • In The Merlin Conspiracy, the weather and magic in general in the Isles of Blest goes wrong when the people in power are corrupt - though notably this starts happening before they have persuaded the king to abdicate in favour of his more pliable teenage son. It doesn't help that the king's weather wizard has been kidnapped, leaving Blest stuck with oppressively hot weather. However, in an inversion of this trope, it's necessary to "raise the land" to get rid of the corrupt leaders, not the other way about.
    • And in A Sudden Wild Magic, the magical imbalance between Earth and the Pentarchy causes the gods of the Pentarchy to become ill and weak, and the lands to suffer climate change. In order for the imbalance to be removed, the political figures whose actions caused it must either die, or redress the imbalance by leaving the Pentarchy for Earth.
  • In An Elegy for the Still-living, the fisher king of Arthurian legend appears, though he is strangely warped and resembles a mirror image of Francis. Because he has gone mad, the land is rotting away.
  • In Diane Duane's Stealing The Elf-King's Roses, the position of the Laurin, the King of All Elves, turns out to be something like this. The world of Alfheim has a will of its own, and the title of the Laurin must be held by an Alfen who possesses a strong enough command of "worldmastery" to understand that they are a servant to that will rather than the master of it. A good bit of the plot is set into motion by the current Laurin's fear of what would happen if the people of other worlds succeeded in invading Alfheim and wiping out the Alfen without any understanding of worldmastery, and the resolution of the storyline hings on the fact that, as the Laurin himself states, "As I go, so go my people."
  • Escalated in The Lords of Dûs series where it is not the ruling king who influences the land, but the ruling god who influences the world. Each of the gods rules the world for a given age, and during that age the world reflects their nature. The novel begins during the Age of the Goddess of Decay, when all the kingdoms are in decline. It transitions into the Age of Destruction and wars break out. The ultimate fear of many characters is when the Fifteenth Age begins, ruled by the God of Death.
  • In Michael Flynn's Up Jim River, the emperor of Morning Dew hates his position because all his subjects believe this trope, and therefore he's to blame for anything that goes wrong.
  • Labyrinths of Echo has not-quite-real worlds, including ones accidentally born out of dreams, working like this and usually dying with their creator—unless or until they acquire full independent reality. The latter, at least according to one ancient being, is the whole purpose of Arbiters' existence, not that they aren't apt to accidentally create such near-realities themselves.
    • The last dynasty set up an enormously overcomplicated system of Court rules, ceremonies and public rituals. It can be tough to serve in the Court, but the King gets the worst of it. Gurig VIII (the current King) rearranged what little freedom he had in his life and even himself (using breath exercises) to this end, then began to push against the traditional palace rules little by little - both for the sake of his (and his hypothetical heirs') sanity and out of duty, since he came up with a private theory that the general state of affair correlates with the King's happiness. Because the real troubles started only under his ancestors, eventually escalating to a civil war of everyone against everyone and near destruction of the world - even though their rule is considered generally more sensible that of their predecessors, some of whom barely paid attention to their job, yet kept the kingdom prosperous.

Live Action TV

  • In The X-Files the agents visit a town where the weather is the reflection of the emotional state of one man. Inverted in that the man in question is only the town's TV Weatherman.
  • An episode of Red Dwarf features a "psi-moon", which models itself after Rimmer's twisted psyche. The crew escapes by making Rimmer feel better about himself just long enough to fight off his Self-Loathing.
  • The trope namer is featured in a season 3 ep of 'Merlin , where his kingdom and he are under a curse, and Arthur travels to him to retrieve an artifact. Merlin secretly gets an artifact of his own from the king before allowing him to die and end his suffering.

Myth and Legend

  • Trope Namer is from Arthurian Legend. See the trope description.
  • A variant is Demeter, the goddess of verdant stuff in the Greek Mythology, especially in the story of the kidnapping of her daughter Persephone by Hades. When she is with her daughter, the world is lush and green. When her daughter is away with her hubby Hades, the world is hot, dry, and barren. Give yourself a pomegranate seed! Persephone goes away for half the year. This is, of course, the origin story of the change of seasons.
  • In some ancient cultures the king and his personal piety and virility were equated with such things as the success of the crops and life of the land in general. So, in the early ages, the Pharaoh of Egypt masturbated into the Nile annually at the festival of Shemu to ascertain the flood.[2] It's not entirely surprising that this was Truth in Television, in a sense - succession was rarely a smooth business, and as such, any king who perpetually managed to hold on to life generally ensured an era of stability and well-being for his people. While no sovereign actually has sympathetic magical control over their lands, good governing generally means stability and well-being for the people, while bad governing means a rough time.
  • The ancient Indian epic Ramayana features a semi-demonic king whose emotions seem to effect the whole world's climate. When he becomes lovestruck, the seasons change rapidly, and time itself stops temporarily.
  • Chinese emperors believed themselves to be responsible for the well-being of the land in varying degrees ("The Mandate of Heaven," which even modern communists try not to upset too much- ever see a government official slack off when a Chinese natural disaster strikes?), and thus instituted a number of rituals in which they'd attempt to appease the heavens; some of them apparently have been heard to directly appeal to the gods to punish them instead during natural disasters. People who worked for the emperor were often Genre Savvy about this, sending memorials to the Imperial palace about bad omens like solar eclipses in various places (which have been calculated by modern scientists to be impossible at that time and place) simply to politely tell the Emperor that his policies were unpopular in (X) Province.
  • River based kingdoms in general(like Egypt and China above)had states whose power came from the ability to predict weather and flooding patterns and organize hydraulic works. The ability to do so would surely have looked like preternatural powers to peasants especially as what we would consider mundane science and engineering would often be combined with attempts at sorcery.
  • Oedipus the King, who kills his father, marries his mother and becomes the king of Thebes. This moral stain—even though he has no idea that they are his parents—brings year-long famine to the land.
  • Older Than Dirt: A variation appears in Inannas Descent to The Netherworld. The Mesopotamian fertility goddess Inanna mourned her husband Dumuzi each year when he died. Her grief (and guilt for killing him) transformed the earth into a parched wasteland where nothing could grow. Only the annual return of Dumuzi could cheer her up.

Tabletop RPG

  • In Nobilis, a powerful PC (or least one with a lot of Realm) will affect their Chancel this way - in one of the book's Flash Fictions, a Noble being drowned causes the entire kingdom to flood.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons cosmology (Planescape), domains of gods and other Powers are closely tied to their owners and have their will as one of "laws of nature". Which includes becoming stale and decrepit if the owner dies or otherwise is cut off thoroughly enough.
    • In Ravenloft, the various Domains were actually karmic prisons for their Darklords, which reflected their crimes. The Domains and their lords varied wildly, ranging from lands that reflected every whim of their public ruler, to realms where the Darklord was a hounded, outcast monster. Even then, all the realms were intrinsically tied to their Darklords, who could close the borders of their realm at any time.
  • Daemon worlds of Warhammer 40,000 change to reflect the whims of their masters.
  • In Changeling: The Lost, every single True Fae is a god unto their own realm in Faerie, having control over every single aspect of their home, from whether the sky is blue to the conditions as to when a fire will or will not cook a person's food. The Changelings, human slaves abducted to act as servants, have to enter pacts with every element in order to even survive. The world changes according to what a Faerie thinks is entertaining. The True Fae are powerful outside their realms, but have nowhere near this level of control over other domains.
    • To a lesser degree, there is a Fatebound Merit named after the Trope Namer. As long as the holder is not suffering from serious damage, all their Social Merits function at double efficiency, but they suffer serious damage whenever a member of their Court dies and unrest in their kingdom is physically painful.
  • Unknown Armies has the True King, an archetype that characters can become Avatars of. True King avatars have a supernatural connection to whatever their "kingdom" is: the realm reflects their physical and emotional state, they can heal themselves by draining the fertility and well-being of their realm (or vice versa), and lose their powers if they have no realm to rule over.
  • Vampire: The Requiem has a Bloodline known as the Bron, whose members believe themselves to be descendants of the Fisher King. Their curse is that any land they claim as their domain instantly becomes harder to control—feeding checks are made at greater difficulty, and so on. Ironically, the line's split down the middle on their true origin—members in the Lancea Sanctum (Christian vampires) believe themselves to descend from the Fisher King, whereas members in the Circle of the Crone (pagan vampires) believe they come from Bran the Blessed.
  • GURPS Fantasy provides highly abstract rules for this as an Advantage. Due to it's limited nature and serious drawbacks it is not particularly expensive to have.
  • In Infernum, this is the effect of one of the Noble Mutation chains (sets of powers that a demon can acquire by taking control of sufficient territory). With the Chain of The Screaming Sky, the demon can make its land hotter, colder or darker. At first level, it merely determines the weather. By third level, its kingdom is either under a permanent night sky, or swallowed up amidst either glaciers or volcanoes. A similar Noble Chain is the Chain of The Burning Land, which ties a demon more strongly to its kingdom- this makes it more powerful in its home turf, as well as giving it early warnings of things like gatherings, invading armies, riots, Et cetera.


  • William Shakespeare: Macbeth, of course. Upon the king's murder and replacement by said murderer, the sky is covered in thunderclouds and the horses start eating each other. When the king's perfectly normal son takes over, everything's good.
  • Exit the King takes this trope absolutely literally; the king's mental and physical decline shrinks and collapses his kingdom on a scale reminiscent of The Nothing in The Never-Ending Story. It even extends into time.

"All the wars you'd won, you lost. And all the ones you lost, well, you lost them over again."


Video Games

  • Cythera, an old game by Ambrosia Software, had Alaric the Landking.
  • The Legend of Zelda a Link To T He Past featured The Dark World, a magical dimension which had become dark and corrupt when it fell under Ganon's rule. (Said land also had the ability to turn anyone who ventured into it into an animal or monster supposedly reflecting their "true nature" - a bully becomes a fanged and horned demon, and an indecisive kid becomes a bouncy pink immobile ball - Link becomes a pink anthropomorphic rabbit for some reason). In The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, Zelda's castle and city become corrupted once Ganon takes control of them.n
  • Justified Trope in The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess; when the evil Zant takes over Hyrule, the land becomes cloaked in perpetual twilight, because he's actually using dark magic to bring the Twilight Realm to this plane. Things look pretty bad there, too, what with the sky darker than ever and the inhabitants all gone or turned into the Shadow Beasts you repeatedly fight. Normally, it's actually pretty nice, under its rightful ruler, Midna, the titular Twilight Princess.
  • Zelda games are quite fond of this trope, as it applies to Ocarina Of Time, as well. Although it's implied via back story that Hyrule has seen its fair share of civil war, by the time the game takes place the country is lush, thriving, and tranquil. Ganondorf changes all of that.
  • The Legacy of Kain series does this with the Pillars of Nosgoth - the twist being that not only are the pillars literal pillars, but they're also represented by a person. When the Pillar of Balance is murdered and her lover, the Pillar of Mind (with all the psychic power that implies), goes mad... Nosgoth itself suffers, and suffers more later as a result of Kain's climactic choice.
  • In DragonQuest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, a subplot revolves around the depressing castle town of Ascantha, in mourning two years for their deceased queen, before the heroes help the king to get over her death and he and the town return to their former jovial state. The king did this to his town by edict, however, not by mystical power, making this a Subverted Trope.
  • The Shivering Isles expansion of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. The Isles reflect the mind of the Madgod, Sheogorath. This goes for the rest of the daedric princes, too. They are their spheres and their spheres are them.
  • The lands (and skies) under your control in Black and White and Overlord change to reflect your alignment.
  • The Final Fantasy games make heavy use of this from time to time.
    • In Final Fantasy I, this applies to the rotting earth, especially the much more noticeably decayed earth on the subcontinent surrounding the Earth Cave, home of Lich the Earth Fiend.
    • In Final Fantasy V, the world after having all its elemental crystals shattered and under the siege of the Void. With the elements decaying, their constituent natural forces are stagnating, and large areas of land appear as black pits where the Void sucked up entire countries.
    • In Final Fantasy VI, the world is all but destroyed when the Warring Triad's balance is broken, and their power is usurped by Kefka as the new source of magic. This leaves the land barren and desolate, and Kefka's rule over it keeps it the land from recovering (his razing it with the almighty Light of Judgment doesn't help things, either.) However, when Kefka is destroyed and magic dissipates, life across the world blooms triumphantly.
    • In Final Fantasy VIII, the future world of Ultimecia under her domination, and most especially her castle.
  • In Wild ARMs 2, the Encroaching Parallel Universe, Kuiper Belt, is gradually eating the entire universe, and strikes Filgaia with a phenomenon called the Stain Paradigm, which rots away the sky, the land, the water, the forces of nature, everything, as Kuiper Belt grows more powerful. Named after but very different from the real Kuiper Belt, a ring of countless Plutoid planetoids surrounding the main Solar System, some of which occasionally stray into the main Solar System like Pluto does every few centuries.
  • In Fate Stay Night, a Dangerous Forbidden Technique known as a "Reality Marble" shows the inner workings of a Mage's soul by making a world that represents that Mage overlap the real world. These worlds, being shaped by the Magi's inner nature, are of the Fisher King nature. One inner world shown during the course of the game and the anime is Unlimited Blade Works, which belongs to Archer ( and by extension, Emiya Shirou).
Other Reality Marbles mentioned include that of Tsukihime's Nrvnqsr Chaos (pronounced Nero Chaos), which is always active and allows him to join his being to other creatures, giving him a body that is incapable of dying so long as at least one part of it remains alive and he can maintain magic energy to feed it. Unless you're Shiki. Satsuki's Reality Marble represents her loss without gain (Isn't it sad? No, really, not just a meme in this case) and passively destroys any mana in a radius around her that is not contained in a living being. Reality Marbles are bizarrely specific and produce equally strange results.
    • In its sister series Tsukihime there is introduced in its back story a group of beings called the Ultimate Ones, the final singular lifeform that embody the hereditary of the now-dead planet of which it originates. Their very presence is enough to cast a permanent denial of reality sphere called Alien Order, overwriting Earth's laws of physics with those of their original planet as it was when it still bore life. In the main series, this is the effect Type-Mercury is having on a region in South America. In the far-flung future of Notes, the body of Ultimate One Type-Venus is blown out of the sky and, crashing onto the dead Earth of the future, its "corpse" is the only place that can still sustain life, albeit Venusian life.
    • The prequel of Fate Stay Night, Fate/Zero, also has Servant Rider's shared Reality Marble, "Ionioi Hetaroi", which summons the Badass Army which conquered half of the world in his lifetime.
  • Alice becomes Wonderland's fisher king in American McGee's Alice.
  • The RuneScape quest "Holy Grail" takes the entire storyline of the quest from the Arthurian legend, and the Holy Grail is indeed held by the Fisher King, who rules a Fisher Kingdom. It gets better when you get Sir Percival to take over.
  • The mental realms from Psychonauts. Obviously. This trope is taken to the point where everything in a mental world corresponds to the personality and mental state of the mind-holder, from the general layout (a obsessive-compulsive character whose psychic specialty is turning repressed emotions into firepower has a mind consisting of a large black, white, and grey cube floating in dark purple space) to the Figments (several plot points are hinted at upon close examination of the Figments in each mind) to the characters (in a paranoid schizophrenic's mind, the mailboxes have eyes and stalk you).
  • In God Of War III, killing gods changes the world for the worse: Kill Poseidon, and the seas flood the coasts. Kill Hades, and the souls of the dead escape from Tartarus. Kill Helios, and the sun is shrouded by the clouds. Kill Hermes, and swarms of insects are released. Kill Hera, and all plantlife dies. Kill Zeus, and the constant lightning storms begin.
  • In the second Pokémon Mystery Dungeon set, the mental state of the god of time, Dialga, is reflected by the physical state of Temporal Tower, his hidden abode.
  • Uzume Tennouboshi from Megadimension Neptunia VII is a variant version of this, and while she doesn't have direct control over her power (nor is she aware of it), she can cause the world around her to change in mild to moderate ways based on her whims, with the last word being operative, as being conscious of this fact would prevent it from being effective. Which isn't quite true, but keeping her ignorant of this does serve as a Restraining Bolt against the possibility said power could be used for evil, as her Enemy Without Kurome Ankokuboshi has the same power, just horribly twisted for doing evil.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • Agrabah in Aladdin reflected the alignment of the ruler. The good sultan made it a sunny place of wonder, Jafar a dark and dreary land.
    • In the original treatment, Jafar's first wish was not only to be sultan, but to always have been sultan. This would cause a wave of magic to spread out over the kingdom, retroactively changing it to a gloomy and poverty stricken place (with Aladdin spared because the Carpet protected him by wrapping him up).
    • The animated series included one episode with a child king whose good or bad moods outright affected the weather of his kingdom.
  • In Beauty and the Beast, the castle matches the prince's appearance. When he's The Beast, the castle is gothic, dark, and with scary gargoyles. When he returns to being human, the castle is turned into white marble, and the gargoyles become statues of angels.
  • The savannah in The Lion King reflected the rule of its king. Pride Rock turns into a desolate wasteland under Scar's evil rule, partly the result of and partly a symbolic indication of how he has forced the pride to overhunt their territory until the natural "circle of life" is unbalanced and disrupted. (It started raining the second Simba took the "throne".) What makes this an even better, and more moving, example of the trope is that the kingdom of the Fisher King could not be healed until the king himself was—i.e., the Pride Lands were restored not just because the good and proper king had taken the throne, but because Simba himself, in honoring his father, defeating his treacherous uncle, and earning his place in the circle, had finally overcome and recovered from his trauma.
    • In the Pride Lands level of Kingdom Hearts II the land has remained barren because Simba still had doubts about his abilities as a leader and was plagued by the Heartless ghost of Scar. That, and, let's be honest here, it's doubtful that the Pride Lands were restored to their former glory instantly, there's at least four months between when Simba takes the throne and Kiara's "christening" seen at the end of the film and the epilogue of the game. This is nature we're talking about, not magic.
  • In The Tale of Despereaux, The Kingdom turns cloudy and the colors go away when the king is grieving.
  • Reversed in one of the episodes of Captain N the Game Master based on The Legend of Zelda. Mother Brain's minions steal parts of the Triforce, and Captain N and his friends have to help Link and Zelda try to get it back. But with the Triforce missing, Hyrule is dying - and therefore, so is Zelda.
  • Justified in WITCH: Meridian was Mordor under Phobos's rule, but that was because he was draining the energy from it. Once Elyon became queen, she restored everything.
    • There's also the fact that Elyon is pretty much a Reality Warper and Phobos, while not as strong, is still quite a powerful Evil Sorcerer. They really do have the power to mold their kingdom to suit their aesthetic preferences.
  • Evil Prince Aragon from Danny Phantom is a Jerkass whose isolated stuck-in-the-Dark-Ages (literally) kingdom reflects his aggressive rules. It's only when his timid sister, Princess Dora finally gets the gumption to dethrone him did the dying kingdom regale in happiness. It's expected it'll only get better from here; Dora's first act is restoring time so they can catch up to the rest.
  • When Crocker and later Vicky Take Over the World in The Fairly OddParents, Dimmsdale becomes bleak and barren, with debris abound. Once they're off the throne, Dimmsdale becomes beautiful again (though, you could argue, no less miserable).
    • Also extended to Timmy's dad when he got to be Mayor for a day after winning the Miss Dimmsdale pageant. Though that may have just been set up to mess with Dinkleburg.
  • Chanticleer's farm from Rock-a-Doodle is always sunny and bright, but when the evil owl tricks Chanticleer into oversleeping and making the Sun rise without him, all of Chanticleer's friends make fun of him and as a result Chanticleer gives up and moves to the city, causing the Sun to set and stop rising altogether, and therefore allowing the evil owl to terrorize all of the farm animals in constant darkness. But then some kid gets turned into a furry cat by said evil owl...
  • Done in a Da-Vinci code spoof episode of The Simpsons, Maggie, who was revealed to be a special child who would usher in true peace, is put on a chair that would fulfill her fate, people stop fighting, flowers bloom, all and all good stuff happens...unfortunately, Marge would rather have her daughter than world peace, and Homer leaves the nuns with Bart, who causes the rapture when he sits on the throne.
  • Played twice on The Emperors New School with both the protagonist and the antagonist. When Kuzco wishes he'd never been an emperor to begin with... guess who becomes the ruler in an alternate world? Cue a dark (and very purple), cruel kingdom run by Yzma. However, in another episode Kuzco, despite not being an Emperor yet (again) takes over the entire school and turns it into a bleak and empty "kingdom"... literally. He locks the background colouring artists in the dungeon together with the other characters.
  • Whenever Discord rules Equestria, he transforms the land into a nonsensical chaotic hellhole. By contrast, when Celestia is on the throne, Equestria is a nice and peaceful place to live (despite some claims by the Misaimed Fandom). It's not a perfect utopia, but it's arguably fairly close.
    • Nightmare Moon qualifies as well. Under her power, Equestria would never again see the light of day.
  1. From what we know, rain would also kill the sandworms, to whom water is toxic. The consequences of the deluge to vital spice production are not covered in the movie: the rain is presented as a Good Thing.
  2. Shemu is still celebrated in Modern Egypt as a general spring festival called Shamm el-Nessim, without the masturbation, thank you. Can you imagine Hosni Mubarak jacking off into the Nile?