The Wise Prince

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The Wise Prince is an example of the non evil Aristocrats Are Evil. He is kind, honourable and well-intentioned, but with an aura of sadness and melancholy surrounding him. His biggest priority is the protection of his people, and, unlike the pampered White Prince, fully understands the hardship of an unprivileged life. He is usually a good warrior but doesn't like fighting. He's just a bit too good for this world, and worst of all he's wise enough to know it.

He's often short of being The Messiah, but doesn't always live in the right Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism for it. If he doesn't, his disillusioned gallantry can be just as poignant.

You'd think he'd make a perfect leader for his people, of course, but fate is particularly skilled at screwing him over in some way or another. If he does reign he feels his responsibilities perhaps too keenly.

He might start out being the Rebel Prince or The White Prince. The Evil Prince is his opposite (and sometimes his brother). See also The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask.

Often the son of the Fisher King, who has gone away and left his people in disarray. Unlike other aristocrats, the Wise Prince must typically journey somewhere, which will hopefully culminate in the Rightful King Returns. If successful, expect the Wise Prince to rule long and happily as The Good King.

In terms of the ranks of Authority Tropes, the tropes that are equal are The Evil Prince, Prince Charming, Prince Charmless, Warrior Prince, The White Prince, and all Princess Tropes. The next steps down are The Caligula, The Good Chancellor, Standard Royal Court and Deadly Decadent Court. The next steps up are The Good King, God Save Us From the Queen, The High Queen, and The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask.

Examples of The Wise Prince include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

Drosselmeyer: If you're the prince, you have to use your wisdom and courage to...Oh. I knew something was missing.

  • Prince Kail from Red River lives and breathes this trope to almost Marty Stu levels despite being the 3rd in line to the throne he eventually gets to be King
  • The over-enthusiastic Prince Phillionel, father of Amelia from Slayers, seems idiotic because of his tendency to rush into battle in the hammiest way possible, but he's far smarter than Lina and co. give him credit for. Faking his own death to prevent his people from panicking over an assassination attempt, for one, along with bravely standing ground and leading the kingdom of Saillune through Zanaffar's assault during the Slayers Revolution anime. His desire for journeying across the lands to fight presumably influenced Amelia in both being kind and modest in austere settings.
  • Prince Sagum of Seirei no Moribito but only in the anime, not in the book. He's dutiful, intelligent, gentle and friendly but finds he lacks his brother's ability to capture everyone's heart and he's obviously dying. Prince Chagum starts as The White Prince but developes to this over time.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena deconstructed the hell out of this trope in Dios, who was once The Wise Prince but ends up as Akio, The Chessmaster and Big Bad
  • Kuchiki Byakuya from Bleach is a slightly colder variation to this trope.
  • All princes in Code Geass try their best to look like this but arguably only Ulysses really means it. Ironic, seeing how he is the heir apparent and never ascends to the throne. The rest of the princes fall somewhere between The Evil Prince and The Anti-Hero Prince.
  • Female example: Princess Zelda fits most aspects of the trope in some installments of the Zelda Manga, most particularly The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Plus.
  • Post-Heel Face Turn, Gaara from Naruto has grown into this disposition after years of being Sunagakure's Fifth Kazekage, to the point that he's far more rational and composed than his fellow and older Kages.
  • Kimba the White Lion has most of these character traits.
  • Shi Ryuuki from Saiunkoku Monogatari matures to this over time, as he faces his responsibilities as The Emperor.

Fan Fiction[edit | hide]

Film[edit | hide]

  • Ahkmenrah from Night at the Museum, and probably the reason why his parents would rather give Egypt to him rather than his brother Kahmunrah.
  • Thor develops into one of these.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Gwydion from Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles, though he doesn't fit some of the later bits.
    • Also Adaon in The Black Cauldron .
  • Lir from Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn, after he's changed by having been in love with Amalthea.
  • Prince Tryffin in Teresa Edgerton's second Celydonn trilogy, since he learned something from the events of the first trilogy.
  • Andovan in Celia Friedman's Feast of Souls.
  • Fitzchivalry's father Chivalry in Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy apparently was one.
    • Verity also qualifies, and possibly Prince Rurisk, who appears briefly in the first book, but Regal is definitely The Evil Prince.
  • Kings Caspian and Tirian in The Chronicles of Narnia. Also, King Rilian once he's rescued and succeeds Caspian
  • Targaryen rulers in A Song of Ice and Fire tends to be either The Wise Prince or The Caligula. Several examples of the former are:
    • Prince Rhaegar Targaryen is remembered like this by many.
    • In the prequel Dunk and Egg stories, we see this with Baelor Targaryen.
    • In A Dance With Dragons, we find that Varys planned to deliberately engineer the long-lost Aegon into one of these.
  • Cuneglas in The Warlord Chronicles. The most level headed character in the main cast, the nicest by a long way. With the fairly pessimistic nature of the series, the one time he loses his head, he dies in a duel.
  • Cei in Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve.
  • The Little Prince is an interesting case of this, since the only person under his command is a flower, and while he knows a lot about life in the sky, he's rather inexperienced outside of his kingdom. He does hit the melancholy, kind, honourable, and well-intentioned markers face first, and his inexperience is minimal compared to the various adults.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey may qualify. He's just a noble, not royal, but he's responsible, intelligent, and has shell-shock from World War I and general doubts of self-worth to give him the air of melancholy.
  • Faramir in Lord of the Rings. A little less so in The Movie, though he's still one of the few people to resist the Ring's temptation. (In the director's cuts, he's a sterling example yet again.)
  • Prince Edward the Black Prince of England is portrayed this way in the Dragon Knight series.
  • Prince Josua Lackhand from Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. He turns out to not be the king's son after all.
  • Felin from The Dreams of Jonathan Jabbok.
  • Terem Rathai from The Assassins of Tamurin.
  • Prince/King Helmos from the The Sovereign Stone Trilogy.
  • Prince/King Gar from Kingmaker, Kingbreaker.
  • Prince Arutha of Krondor from The Riftwar Cycle.
    • Gorath, though only appearing in a single book, and belonging to the more or less Exclusively Evil race of moredhel (dark elves), fits the trope perfectly, complete with having a driving motivation to have his people become "more than savages", as he puts it, and being exiled, branded a traitor and being abandoned or targeted for death even by family and kin, when he tries to act for the good of his people.
  • Pietro Della Rocca from Alain Damasio's La Horde du Contrevent.
  • Almost every single good noble in Tamora Pierce's Tortall series is like this. It's to the point where expressing any disdain for peasants is a clear sign that someone's a villain.
    • Aren't you forgetting Merric?
    • Seen best in The Woman Who Rides Like a Man when Prince Jonathan of Conté becomes the Voice Of The People.
  • Gwerbret Rhodry Maelwadd in the Deverry series has this at the beginning and the end of his reign (the time he's actually reigning was enjoyable, but it's completely passed by in the books). King Glyn the First also had these sentiments.
  • Rand al'Thor in The Wheel of Time is often accused of arrogance, but considering how many powers he has gathered to himself personally and to his title as the Dragon Reborn, much of this is really a wise confidence. This wisdom derails itself more than a little when he begins to go insane from the taint on the source of magic in the books. He gets better, though, later on and becomes this trope full-bore along with a healthy does of The Messiah.
  • Tavi, from the Codex Alera series.
  • Prince Raschid in the furry novel The Fangs of Kaath. He's a kindhearted Badass Bookworm in an Arabian court.
  • King Randale in the Heralds of Valdemar novels... a case of massive in-universe Character Development which also turned an uncertain, hesitant young man who didn't even want the throne into a Determinator.
  • Prince Eneas of Syan from Shadowmarch series definitely qualifies.
  • Marie Antoinette in The Bad Queen tries to invoke wisdom in her daughter Marie-Therese and help her gain a more realistic and compassionate view of the world by making the orphaned daughter of a servant the princess's companion who gets to share in all privileges the royal child does.
  • Jack's (dead) twinner in The Talisman. Since they're basically the same person, this also applies to Jack himself once the Territories has had its effect on him.

Live Action Television[edit | hide]

  • A female version occurs in Farscape. Princess Katralla, thanks to her brother poisoning her DNA, can never marry the Sebacean man she loves. Since Crichton is the only man who can produce healthy heirs with her (and marriage to a compatible man is a prerequisite of becoming Empress), she chooses to marry him and give up the chance for happiness with her true love. Things work out eventually, though.

Video Games[edit | hide]

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Prince Harald of Denmark from the Chaos Timeline, who (re-)discovers America.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Prince Aikka of Oban Star-Racers.
  • Proteus from Sinbad Legend of the Seven Seas.
  • Former Crown Prince Iroh of Avatar: The Last Airbender. And he spends the series trying to mold Prince Zuko into this, as well.
  • Lion-O from ThunderCats (2011) with a twist. Most of the traits that make him The Wise Prince, namely curiosity about the world outside Thundera, an interest in the Lost Technology, and standing up for the mistreated Lizard Folk make his people think of him as in Inadequate Inheritor. By the time he finally does get a chance to shine and have these qualities appreciated, his father dies and he becomes the new King of Thundera and the Lord of Thundercats.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • King George VI was one of the best examples. He was quiet, shy, respectable, and would have preferred being a clerk to being a King. A general all round Action Survivor. He thought he was ill-suited to his job and was something of an Iron Woobie. But he provided still-renowned leadership during World War II and is, to this day, one of Britain's best-loved monarchs, perhaps because of those qualities rather than despite them; for it is easier to suffer blood, toil, tears, and sweat if one knows that the King is trying to as well. In a way he was The Caretaker to the entire British Empire.
    • Now the subject of The King's Speech, a film about how he unexpectedly succeeded his unpopular (and German sympathist) brother and learned to overcome stuttering in order to preserve the monarchy During the War.
    • It helps that he had beside him his own personal The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: it was his wife, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon - known today as the Queen Mum - who was his anchor and support throughout the abdication crisis and World War II. In fact, the 2002 film Bertie and Elizabeth is entirely centered around this.
  • Lord Louis Mountbatten. He was one of the last Real Life Warrior Princes to actually command in battle (Harry, good luck to him, was only a subaltern). He was a cousin of royalty but he did reasonably well leading British forces in battle during World War II(a war which had many curiously old-fashioned elements including a few aristocratic leaders). He had the personality of a Wise Prince. Your Mileage May Vary, though, since he's also remembered for rushing the Partition of India when it might have been wiser to plan in more detail.
    • In Canada, Eh?, he's actually thought of as The Neidermeyer because of his association with the absolutely disastrous Allied assault on Dieppe.
  • Abraham Lincoln, anyone? (At least the way he's usually remembered.)
  • Marcus Aurelius, last of the "Five Good Emperors" of Rome.
  • Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, the last native Prince of Wales to be recognized as such by the English crown, was said to have been like this for most of his life. After the death of his adored wife in childbirth, however, he was something of a broken man; his brother persuaded him in that state to fight the English, with whom he had previously been on peaceful terms, and he was killed in the process.