The Kingdom

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
133: Last Rule of Politics: Kingdoms are good. Empires are evil

The Empire is evil. The Federation is generally good, often neutral and occasionally evil. The Kingdom, on the other hand, is almost always good.

Often very small, sometimes just a single city-state or a castle with a few outlying villages, but it often has wealth or power beyond its size, usually large natural deposits of precious metals or Green Rocks, sometimes as a result of some form of Applied Phlebotinum. (May be somewhat larger in a Feudal Future.) Often containing large stretches of the Ghibli Hills and Arcadia, punctuated by the Shining City.

The Kingdom is the Damsel in Distress of nations. Often falls under a witch's curse, or is invaded by The Empire. Usually the standard setting for Fairy Tales, and when it's not, will often look as if it came out of a fairy tale anyway, even if it's in a sci-fi setting. If a kingdom is doing something evil, the king has most likely been deposed, or Brainwashed, or replaced with an evil duplicate, or hasn't been paying enough attention to the Evil Chancellor's extra-curricular activities with the troops. Remember, a kingdom is only pure if the "true" monarch is in charge. The Evil Prince is not a "true" monarch, mind you. Nor is the Queen if she decides to take over by killing her husband, which happens quite often; in fact, a Queen in charge is a bad omen. And obviously, nor is the Puppet King.

Since Everything's Better with Princesses, any self-respecting Kingdom has one. She is usually benevolent and loved by the citizens, as well as gorgeous, of course and is commonly The Hero's love interest. (The obvious exception being when The Hero is, himself, the heir to the throne or a young and probably deposed king trying to save his own kingdom - in these cases, he will simply take a likely and kindhearted peasant girl to uplift into an honorary version of those tropes.)

One of the most common forms of Magical Land.

Examples of The Kingdom include:

Anime and Manga

  • Later Mobile Suit Gundam entries like the notion:
    • The Sanc Kingdom in Gundam Wing (princess: Relena Peacecraft).
    • Gundam Seed has Orb Union (princess: Cagalli Yula Athha).
      • And Kingdom of Scandinavia as well (princess: Lacus Clyne. not really, but close—Clyne family is related to Scandinavian royalty)
    • Mobile Suit Gundam 00 has Azadistan (princess: Marina Ismail), a very thinly veiled Expy of Iran, which was The Kingdom in Real Life until fairly recently. Azadistan is a deconstruction, since it's really anything but peaceful or homogenous. They conquered Kurdistan years ago, look down on Kurds or outsiders of really any type, are home to a boatload of religious extremists, and it's garnered the name Povertistan for a reason. The country soon descends into civil war, with the idolized princess being quite ineffectual, and has to be saved by the Gundams.
    • In fact, the original Mobile Suit Gundam's Republic of Zeon started off sort-of Kingdomish (Princess: Artesia Sum Deikun). Once it was taken over and renamed into a Principality by Zeon Sum Deikun's Evil Chancellor and his family, though, it moved rapidly towards The Empire.
  • Windbloom from Mai-Otome.
  • Altea in GoLion (princess: Fala).
  • The Duchy of Cagliostro in The Castleof Cagliostro, but only on the surface
  • The Kingdom of Forland in Murder Princess (princess: Alita Forland).
  • Fanelia and, to a lesser extent, Asturia in Vision of Escaflowne. No princesses in Fanelia, sadly, but much of the action of the series involved the king fighting off The Empire so he can take the throne. Asturia is a pawn of The Empire under the old king, but has a plethora of princesses, and as soon as one gets married and a clear line of succession is restored, they pull a Heel Face Turn. Despite being a Duchy, Freid might almost count, although things don't turn out too well for them; the new ruler is not the heir by blood right and they wind up conquered by and ultimately cooperating with The Empire.
  • The Kingdom of Tristain in The Familiar of Zero. To be fair, most of the other nations in the setting are kingdoms as well, but Tristain is The Kingdom.
  • The Valley of the Wind in the anime version of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind pretty much fits this trope almost perfectly. Though not surrounded by Ghibli Hills, it keeps some points for being the film that kick started Studio Ghibli in the first place.

Comic Books

  • Wakanda, the African Utopia in the Marvel Universe. Subverted with Latveria, which is not good. Though its run rather efficiently and pseudo-benevolently.
  • Atlantis from the DC Universe.



  • The Star Kingdom of Manticore from David Weber's Honor Harrington series. The Applied Phlebotinum that makes this work is the Manticore Wormhole Junction, which allows the Kingdom to become massively wealthy through the sheer volume of trade the Junction supports.
    • In the recent books, though, it got subtly subverted by the fact that first the Manticore itself finally discovers joys of imperialism (Word of God has it that its name is now Star Empire of Manticore), and second that the previous Empires are now either more or less good guys, or fair game for them.
      • In canon "Empire" is used to maintain a legal fiction of partnership between Manticore and little powers that are running to her to beg protection from the bad guys. Calling Elizabeth Queen of Manticore and oh yes, Queen of yada, yada, yada is felt to be less of a slight then calling her Empress of the Star Empire of Manticore, and oh yes Queen of Manticore. Local politicians are standing for Parliament as soon as political loose ends are tied as they would not if it was felt to be a matter of simple conquest. It is really more a concept of "Commonwealth". Of course Manticorans do not have some ascetic saintly aversion to increasing their power. However they did not have a fiendish plot to conquer people either, they just happened to win enough battles to make other nations think them a good bet. Furthermore, the Manticorans don't want a traditional empire gained by conquest and plunder. Such things are too wasteful in lives and money to attract the desire of good businessfolk. What they want is partners in trade, politics and war. By contrast the Solarian League vampirically sucks dry every planet it can even when it would profit more in the long run by turning down the pressure and letting colonies prosper enough to provide revenue.
    • One thing Manticore does have is an attractive queen and princesses (Weber loves princesses and so do his readers). Some princesses are pretty scary.
    • Grayson is officially more a Theocracy than a kingdom. It does not fulfill the Stereotype of this trope though it's evil twin Masada does: rather the term reflects the amount of ecclesiastical influence. In any event much of it's workings would qualify it more as The Kingdom though it uses different titles than Manticore does.
  • Battle for Wesnoth has a good kingdom that is turned to evil when the Queen has the King murdered during a war. The resistance centers around, of course, the last legitimate heir (or so he thinks) to the king that managed to escape assasination. The Princess on the other hand is misguided by her mother, and only a Enemy Mine situation gets her on the right side eventually.
  • The Kingdom of Oz.
  • The eponymous kingdom of Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series fits this trope.
  • Subverted (of course) in the Discworld's city-state (and former kingdom) of Ankh-Morpork. Despite being a City of Adventure and frequently a geographical Damsel in Distress, it is ruled by the Patrician Havelock Vetinari, since the line of kings ended ...messily, and as they assert in Guards! Guards!, you'd be hard-pressed to find an eligible virgin amid its masses, let alone a pretty princess. However, it does have a wise, just and benevolent Fisher King who keeps the peace, saves the city and shapes it to his will. He'd just much rather you thought of him as that nice policeman Captain Carrot.
    • Played a little straighter (though not much) with the kingdom of Lancre, which is highly magical, presided over (currently) by a good and just king and queen, and actually ruled by a rather democratic mob of witches (who are in turn bossed about by Granny Weatherwax).
      • Well, the royalty in Lancre don't actually do anything; their job is to look official, the peoples' jobs are to politely ignore the royalty and get on with whatever they happen to do with themselves, and the thing in charge is actually the land itsself.
  • Andor in Wheel of Time fits this trope perfectly.
    • Except, of course, for the bit about a Queen in charge being a bad omen ...
  • The land of Osten Ard in Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn has several political regions based on various Fantasy Counterpart Cultures, but the most typical of this trope is Erkynland, modeled strongly on Medieval England and home of The Hero, Simon. It rose to domination of Osten Ard on the strength of King Prester John's prowess in battle and remains there through the present time of the story. In contrast with the typical use of the trope, the majority of human nations in Osten Ard are mundane, but they are built on a land steeped in magical powers that humans only vaguely comprehend.
  • This trope is almost certainly why the area governed by Big Bad Galbatorix in the Eragon books rules an empire.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms are, well... fractured fairy-tales in exactly that setting, with enough variety built in that there will pretty much always be a beautiful princess, a tyrannical king, a scheming chancellor, etc. available whenever The Tradition requires one.
  • In the Saga of the Skolian Empire series by Catherine Asaro, the Skolian Imperialate is The Kingdom in the books which take place after Spherical Harmonics, in which the Ruby Pharaoh overthrows what is nominally Her Majesty's Government in a military coup and resumes direct rule. This is especially true in what is chronologically the last book in the series, Catch The Lightning, which revolves around getting back to the Skolian Empire and its protection after the character is stranded on 20th century earth- though not OUR 20th Century earth. This is a rare case of The Kingdom being called an Empire. Indeed, even before the events of Spherical Harmonics, the Skolian Imperialate is not The Empire - it is The Federation. Ironically, The Empire of the Skolian Empire series calls itself a "Concord".
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, there's the Hapes Consortium, an alliance of several dozen worlds ruled by a hereditary monarchy. Also, since it's a matriarchal society, the ruler is always a queen.
  • Gondor is a kingdom-in-exile. The line of kings there die out about 1000 years before The Hobbit, and since then has been ruled by the Stewards, making it a combination of this and The Federation. The good news is is that the last Princess of Gondor married the last King of Arnor, their fellow Successor State to the Kingdom of Numenor. It is from the latter line that the Rangers were established. The title of the last book indicates how Gondor turns out. Rohan is also a Kingdom of sorts, and what parts of this Trope Gondor lacks, Rohan makes up for. Also, kingdoms are everywhere in the prequel The Silmarillion.
  • Barrayer in Vorkosigan saga calls itself an empire and in fact has one or two protectorates. However it is in many ways closer to this then to being an empire. It has a fairly compact government and is only a medium sized state by galactic standards lacking the sprawl characteristic of both The Empire and The Federation, as well as the spectacular tyrannies of many variations of The Empire. Moreover while it has a Secret Police and a Deadly Decadent Court, both of these are rather toned down and are far less sinister then many variations of this trope; at least they were since Aral's Regency.
  • The Old Kingdom in the Old Kingdom books. It has no other name, which fits as it is magically kept in Medieval Statis in contrast to its neighbor to the South. And if the rightful rulers are not present, the Kingdom will fall into disrepair.


Tabletop Games

  • Bretonnia in Warhammer Fantasy Battle is a mercilessly dark parody of this trope, with Quixotic knights and kings living in luxury at the expense of the peasantry and a society kept in Medieval Stasis while the rest of the world develops technologically. It's managed to remain independent of the rival human realm of The Empire thanks to the valor of its knights, magic that makes them Immune to Bullets, and the fact that the local Fair Folk are covertly manipulating their nation.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has an unusual example - the realm of Ultramar, eight systems ruled by the Ultramarines chapter of Space Marines. Its worlds manage to be both technologically-advanced and prosperous without turning into industrial hells, and under the benevolent leadership of the Ultramarines the citizenry is so happy that Ultramar is visible as a bright constellation of positive energy in the Warp. The kicker is that Ultramar is part of the setting's Empire, the Imperium of Man, a brutal totalitarian state.
  • The Kingdom of Aldis in Blue Rose is an excellent example of this—it's got all the trappings of a medieval fantasy kingdom, but magic and Magitek are sufficiently advanced and widespread that it's at least as nice a place to live as a modern first-world country, with excellent medicine, sanitation and communications. They've even got legal and accepted same-sex marriage.

Video Games

  • The Dukedom of Riskent in Super Robot Wars Original Generation (princess: Shine Hausen).
  • Ferelden in Dragon Age is mostly good (until Loghain takes over, anyway), just somewhat ineffectual.
  • Neverwinter is technically a city-state and ruled by a Lord (who happens to lack daughters), but otherwise fits this trope perfectly.
  • Almost every kingdom in a Final Fantasy game ever. The only real exception is Alexandria in Final Fantasy IX, during Queen Brahne's reign.
    • Final Fantasy VI's Figaro probably is the most remarkable. Figaro Castle itself is in fact a machine that can travel underground between the two deserts on the continent, and its King, Edgar, is one of the heroes that resist the evil Empire. It doesn't have a Princess though, much to Edgar's dismay.
    • Final Fantasy XII invokes this trope to the letter. The Archadian empire invades the smaller, peaceful kingdom of Dalmasca, which even sports a beautiful princess.
    • While it is not called a kingdom, the Freestate Amsterdam that is Fisherman's Horizon qualifies, especially when put next to Galbadia and Esthar.
  • This article pretty much reads like a description of the kingdom of Hyrule (princess: Zelda) from The Legend of Zelda series. Hyrule seems to be working more like a a loose confederacy that a centralized kingdom, but the general theme is the same.
  • The titular setting of The Neverhood is a bare-bones version of The Kingdom, with very few residents besides the king himself.
    • Mostly because he was forced into hibernation before he could finish populating it.
  • The Mushroom Kingdom from Super Mario Bros. is an obvious example. It has Princess Peach, though all other officials are strangely absent...
  • Wyndia counts as this (to greater or lesser extent) in every Breath of Fire game it appears in (all but the fifth), and in the fourth also is part of The Federation against The Empire (which respectively fit these tropes). There is some minor subversion of this in the second, though, involving the Obligatory Princess.
  • The Fire Emblem series has several. And it's usually of the "Sacked by The Empire" variety.
    • FE 4 is notable, as The Empire, Grandbell starts off as this, then it goes on a warpath, invading several countries simultaneously (And winning). Then an Anti-Villain comes into power—and it goes back to being The Kingdom for about 9 years. Then... his son takes control... and it becomes The Empire. Until The Hero kills both the Anti-Villain of a previous Emperor and his son, then he and the Princess take control of the Empire, and it goes back to being The Kingdom.
  • Fantasinia and Bronquia (probably Embellia too) in Yggdra Union - except that the princess, Yggdra, is The Hero instead of the love interest.
  • The Pharastia Kingdom of Vanguard Bandits is cleanly this in the Kingdom Branch of the game. Then Subverted on the Empire Branch, as it becomes clear that the Kingdom isn't fully on the up-and-up either. A harsh lesson for the hero to learn, after a lifetime of idealizing it.
  • Despite being technically a Principality, Gallia in Valkyria Chronicles pretty much counts. The ruling dynasty, especially its Archduchess is loved by the people. It's another story, however, when it comes with both the bureaucracy and aristocracy in general.
  • Rakios in Eien no Aselia. The king is probably the least sympathetic character in the game after Soma, but Lesteena is nice. And just before she moves to assassinate him to save the country, someone else does it for her.
  • The Boron Kingdom in the X-Universe qualifies, though its government is technically a constitutional monarchy akin to modern-day Great Britain (i.e. Queen Atreus is a figurehead for an elected government). They're portrayed as good guys, are constantly under threat from the Split Dynasty,[1] and have the smallest territory of the Commonwealth races. They've also got a few unique pieces of Applied Phlebotinum, such as ion weapons.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic the planet of Alderaan which has been called the soul of The Republic.


  • Trent and Mercia fill this role during the "Storm Breaker Saga" of Sluggy Freelance, though they're treated a little more cynically than most.

Western Animation

Web Original

  • As far as kingdoms to rescue, there's one called 'Loathing' that could use an adventurer or two. No official princesses, though. There's a rebellious one that hangs around, but she's not said to be part of the actual political hierarchy.
  • The Kingdoms within the British/Restored Empire from Decades of Darkness fits this trope more or less.
  • The City of Axiflos in Open Blue is a neutral city-state that was forced to defend itself from larger neighbors whoo tried to force it to join their sides. Suffice to say, it can't really be considered a Damsel in Distress, as centuries of defensive buildup has turned it into a Stone Wall that not even the largest empires dare to invade nowadays. Such was its reputation that the Axifloan Coalition was named after it.

Real Life

  • Most real-world kingdoms and small countries see themselves as The Kingdom, especially the governments themselves.
    • Most constitutional monarchies see themselves this way, especially the ones in Europe and the Commonwealth. This is especially true since the two main powers of the Cold War were the United States (Federation) and the Soviet Union (The Empire).
      • Constitutional Monarchies are a cross between The Kingdom and The Republic. They use a republic to do the legwork of government for several reasons, notably that aristocrats who are trusted with real power can get pretty wacky, and in any event a public election is however flawed, felt a better test for competence than total chance. Or more realistically some of the commoners in the past became rich and well-armed enough to demand a piece of the pie. In any event, in the past the monarch often was a real chief executive even in a constitutional monarchy (which after all has a wide spectrum). But it is more common to use the monarch, and often the vassal nobility as well as "cultural ministers" for supervising national treasures, handing out decorations, directing state events, what not. Sometimes a monarch has a surprising behind the scenes job. For instance the British Secret Service sometimes used it not only because a king was a highly visible distraction when needed, but the privy purse was a good place to launder money they did not want in more official account books.
  • For many Brazilians, the Empire of Brazil under Dom Pedro II. It was a sad inversion of Good Republic, Evil Empire.
  • Keep in mind that kingdoms in Real Life can differ much. There were kings like Louis XIV of France who reigned absolutely and could say "L Etat Cest Moi" (well okay, not really, but let's just consider 'absolutist' rulers absolutist for the sake of simplicity, m'kay?), medieval kingdoms where the power of the king was limited by his vassals (ur example for the anglosphere could well be the way the barons of England forced King John to sign the Magna Carta), and nowadays we have many representative monarchies which are essentially republics with a crowned head of state. In the past, there were even kingdoms where the king was elected! (the workings of which paralleled the 'noble republics' of Italy where a small group of wealthy families monopolised power, the only difference being councils of nobles versus councils of wealthy merchants and freemen voting for the top dog. And a certain amount of pomp and grandeur of course.
  1. though the Boron alliance with the Argon Federation keeps them at bay somewhat