The Man

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
I think you'll find that I'm in charge everywhere.

You've heard of him. He controls everything. Emperors, ancient conspiracies, gods, student councils... All answer to him.

Sometimes he means to keep people down For the Evulz, and put squirrels in every birdfeeder. In short, he is the definitive Magnificent Bastard. He is The Man.

The Man is much less specific than The Syndicate or the Ancient Conspiracy. It's a personification of establishment itself, even if no one person or organization makes up that establishment. Expect Chaotic Good characters to stand up and stick it to him.

Nowadays, it's largely a Discredited Trope, with very few straight uses.

But of course, that's just what The Man wants us to think.

Despite the names, The Man Behind the Man rarely involves this trope. The Man Is Sticking It to the Man is a Sister Trope in concept. Expect The Man to have The Men in Black on staff. For The Man, every day is Tuesday.

Not to be confused with The Man that Chico worked with, That Man, That Man Over There, That Man Over Here, This Man, This Man Over Here, or This Man Over There.

Examples of The Man include:



  • In No Hero, Carrick Masterson had been able to control the world since the sixties. He was responsible for having Nixon only stay one term in office, the Great Iran Oil Fire, and the destruction of South Africa.
  • Max in The Losers.
  • The kids in Bryan Lee O'Malley's Lost at Sea decided to head for another diner when they couldn't find a Wendy's, because "sometimes it's good to give your money to somone other than The Man". Cue laughter.


Live Action TV

  • In Taxi, Louie refers to this concept as "the system", and hates always being "beaten by the system". Oddly, both Alex and Jim quickly understand what he means and can relate to it.


  • Professor Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes' nemesis. Holmes describes him as "the Napoleon of Crime... the organiser of half that is evil and nearly all that is undetected in this great city..."
  • One of Cao Cao's official titles was "The Man".
  • In A Calculated Magic by Robert Weinberg, protagonist Jack Collins poses as an agent of The Man, who is a very real figure of modern origin among the living legendary and mythological beings that populate the Logical Magician series of novels.
  • The infamous "Big Brother" in the novel and movie 1984.
  • Walker from Simon R. Green's Nightside books. Of course, at the end of The Good, the Bad and the Uncanny, John Taylor is manoeuvred into taking his place.


  • John Lennon correctly blames The Man for trying to kick him out of the country in "New York City".
  • The Man is usually referred to as they in Supertramp's music. Good examples of this include School and The Logical Song.
  • The Roy Orbison song "Working for The Man".
  • The They Might Be Giants song "Working Undercover For The Man".


Video Games

  • "The Man" turns up in Kingdom of Loathing.
  • The Illusive Man in Mass Effect 2, played by Martin Sheen. He communicates with Shepard to provide him/her with info via hologram and is always shown in dim light while smoking a cigarette and/or drinking.
  • The Half-Life "G-Man" is always lurking around in the backscenes, armed with a briefcase that could contain anything, dressed in a perfectly anonymous suit. He may take a train to the opposite of your direction, he will still be at your destination before you.
  • In Alpha Protocol, Henry Leland thinks he's The Man. Potentially, however, Mike Thorton can become The Man through careful manipulation and control of his contacts.
  • Mr. House of Fallout: New Vegas, the mysterious ruler of New Vegas.
  • In Deus Ex, Bob Page serves as The Man in charge of the MJ12 conspiracy.
  • "The Manh" is a possible name for a general of Zhuang culture in Victoria 2.

Web Original

Web Comics