Tyrant Takes the Helm

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Did your new leader start off their reign by making a speech that included phrases such as "there will be many changes around here" or "things will be very different under my command"? If so, then you're in a situation where a Tyrant Takes the Helm.

This is a plot trope relating to a Story Arc where a character snags a major leadership position of the series, becomes Drunk with Power, and decides that from here on out, things will be run their way whether you like it or not. The person regularly filling this position, often a Reasonable Authority Figure, will likely be absent during this time (and this new replacement may have had something to do with that.) As would be expected of a tyrannical ruler, expect them to immediately start making "changes" and becoming an instant despot. Common changes made include the elimination of Ultimate Job Security and the decree that All Crimes Are Equal. In most cases, the main heroes will have to confront this new ruler and attempt to change things back to normal.

The kind that insists on newly implemented or previously uninforced rules being followed will often be undone by being caught in their own regulations and learning Nobody Is Above the Law. A common subversion of this trope is the Bait and Switch Tyrant, which occurs when a character who originally appeared to be a new tyrant later turns out to not be that bad after all, and the story reflects that the characters have come to accept the new rules.

Remember, this isn't a trope for describing characters who become tyrants, but for describing a plot point of when (and possibly how) a character takes over for someone else and institutes new rules that are generally disliked by the majority of those affected.

WARNING! There are unmarked Spoilers ahead. Beware.

Examples of Tyrant Takes the Helm include:

Anime and Manga

  • Angel Beats! toys with the trope - Angel is originally viewed as a villainous Emotionless Girl created by "God" to sabotage the SSS in her capacity as "Student Council President", but is actually not so different from them. Later, when Angel herself falls victim to the SSS' schemes, she gets fired and is replaced by her deputy who becomes a God complex authoritarian, fitting the trope. Later when she is "promoted" back to her regular position, she attempts to play the Tyran to the SSS once more to buy time for her and Otonashi's Batman Gambit of making other students disappear.
  • Erika Furudo in Umineko no Naku Koro ni, to a completely murderously sadistic extent.
  • Makoto Isshiki in RahXephon, who later becomes an Unwitting Pawn.
  • One episode of Ranma ½ had Tatewaki Kuno taking over his father's role as school principal. Needless to say, many preferred his father.
  • Love Hina (either the OAV or vol 11 of the Manga): Kanako Urashima, Keitaro's creepy, somewhat overaffectionate adoptive sister manages to provoke the tenants at Hinata to the point of open warfare when she takes over in her "Oniisan's" absence.
    • In a way its more or less Karma catching up to the girls for mistreating Keitaro (despite the fact that they all eventually got along.)
  • .hack//Legend Of the Twilight had the Cerulean Knights taking over after Balmug is fired from System Administration. They ruthlessly hunt down gamers even remotely accused of hacking or of minor offenses (changing the color of the avatar's clothes etc)
  • One episode of Keroro Gunsou has Tamama being promoted to squad leader, and quickly going mad with power. He ends up bitter and alone after he ends up throwing all his squad-mates, along with Fuyuki, Natsumi, and Angol Mois, in the brig.
  • Averted on Naruto. When Danzo is appointed acting Hokage after the Pain's Invasion Arc, he consciously avoids making decisions that would make him unpopular with the populace.
  • Gouda, the Big Bad of the second season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is a pretty good example of this, coming in and working to undermine Section 9 and turn them into his lackeys.

Comic Books

  • King Smurf gets himself elected to replace the temporarily absent Papa Smurf, then proceeds to declare himself king, hire a Praetorian Guard, and rule by decree. His overt despotism results in civil war.
    • A different form of despotism takes place in "The Finance Smurf", where the title character controls all aspects of Smurf life through the use of money.
  • In Spider-Man, Norman Osborn, as of the Dark Reign arc, has become this for the entire Marvel Universe.
  • Another Marvel example is Henry Gyrich, who becomes this for S.W.O.R.D.
  • Ambassador Rolf Heimlich becomes this to the JLI for the first part of the "Breakdowns" arc due to Maxwell Lord being in a coma. Ultimately, it turns out he's a mole planted by Queen Bee.
  • Heidi Jackson when she takes over Hard 8 Enterprises in Knights of the Dinner Table.
    • In the same vein, whenever Weird Pete finds himself GMing. Despite being one of the most laid back players in the series, whenever he picks up the dice behind the screen, he falls back on his old-school taskmaster persona. His tools are the Bolt of Divine Retribution and the Murderous Falling Rocks. Along with the demerit system, which he assigns for pretty much everything that can be conceived as insinuating that the GM is wrong. Gain 50 demerits, lose a level. At least he's kind enough to offer the option of letting players work off their debt at his game shop: An hour of 'volunteer' work knocks off one demerit.
  • Averted by captain Ben Daimio from BPRD: when he arrives to take up the position of field team commander, he specifically states: "Don't want anybody to worry about my changing things around here. You guys have a system, it works. Stick to that". And indeed he doesn't try to make any radical changes. Except for making Roger put some friggin' pants on. And later he changes his mind about that, too.


  • Sergeant Mauser from Police Academy.
  • In Fort Apache, The Bronx, the new police captain is determined to run things "by the book". Protagonist Officer Murphy predicts what will happen.
    • As indeed, Colonel Thursday does in the original Fort Apache.
  • Near the beginning of Horrible Bosses, one of the aforementioned horrible bosses takes over his dead father's company and purposely drives it into the ground solely for personal gain.
  • This happens in Out Cold when a rich skiing tycoon takes over Bull Mountain and attempts to transform it into another Vail.
  • Scar in The Lion King, "reluctantly" assuming the throne and issuing his Nazi-esque hyena regime.
  • In the Harry Potter film series, Dolores Umbridge is a perfect example of this when she takes charge of Hogwarts. Imelda Staunton portrays the little creep perfectly, right from the completely fake, nauseatingly condescending tone of voice to the air of inner sadism and nastiness.
    • The Big Bad himself takes control of the Ministry of Magic in the penultimate film, and considering her Fantastic Racism and total lack of a moral compass, Umbridge welcomes her new evil overlords with open arms.
  • In Heavyweights, Camp Hope is taken over by Tony Perkus, a fitness fanatic who systematically removes everything fun about the camp and runs the campers ragged with unreasonably harsh exercise programs.
  • The plot of the Dead Like Me movie is initially driven by the disappearance of Rube in a mysterious fire and the arrival of his shady Smug Snake replacement who encourages the Reapers to feel free to abuse their powers and cut corners on the job. A bit of a subversion in this case as the hard-nosed by-the-book leader is replaced with a much more laid back one, but it ends up playing out much the same as the Reapers begin to realize the consequences of their irresponsibility (both for themselves and the people around them).
  • In the Richie Rich film, Laurence Van Dough arranges for Richie's parents to be killed so he can take over their estate. He's temporarily foiled by Richie taking over with Cadbury as his proxy, but then frames Cadbury for the Rich's murder. Don't worry, the Riches got better.
  • This is pretty much what the Emperor does in Star Wars. He claims that the current chancellor is unable to handle the crisis at hand and becomes his replacement. He then starts to restructure the Republic into an Empire, for the good of the people and peace in the galaxy. The important difference is that he was the one who created the crisis in the first place.


  • Dolores Umbridge of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, who is the former Trope Namer. She came to the school as a teacher imposed by the Ministry of Magic, becomes High Inquisitor, fires perfectly lovable teachers, dictates stupid rules aimed at abolishing the students' civil liberties, literally tortures students during detention, and finally deposes Dumbledore and becomes Headmistress. Her "things will be different around here" speech was lampshaded by Hermione. She's so bad that she actually sides with Voldemort after she's run out of Hogwarts[1], and even has an entry on the Complete Monster page. Most readers reserve more hate for Umbridge than for Voldemort, the actual Big Bad of the series. Stephen King has noted that Umbridge is the strongest of Harry Potter‍'‍s villains because she's the kind of character who you just love to hate, whereas you hate Voldemort simply because the book wants you to and because he's Obviously Evil.
  • When Saruman and Lotho take charge in the "Scouring of the Shire" chapter of The Lord of the Rings.
    • Then it ends up being just Saruman, since he had Wormtongue murder Lotho. He even insinuates that Lotho became Wormtongue's dinner.
  • In Paul Robinson's In The Matter of: Instrument of God, Marilyn, the Deputy Administrator of the Welcoming Department, becomes appointed to Administrator when the former administrator decides to go back to earth. Her new rules are so disliked that the entire supervisory staff of the department quit in protest - all except for one supervisor, so that she can't appoint anyone in their place.
  • The evil governess Miss Slighcarp in The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken does this the minute Bonnie's parents leave the house.
  • One of these is basically the major plot motivator in The Caine Mutiny
  • This happens when Prince John usurps King Richard's throne in many versions of the Robin Hood story.
  • During the events of Terry Pratchett's The Fifth Elephant, Sergeant Colon is, much to his own horror, put in charge of the city watch by means of being the most senior watchman available and promptly begins burning paperwork and accusing his subordinates of stealing sugar cubes and "earlobing" him. This has the effect of creating the Watchmen's Guild. This is ultimately corrected when Captain Carrot returns from his "sabbatical".
  • In Douglas Coupland's JPod, this happens twice, although neither of the tyrants is particularly evil. The first one is Steve, who takes over as head of marketing, and promptly attempts to get a cute turtle inserted into the skateboarding game they're designing. He's later vanished by the Chinese mafia, and replaced by Alastair, who turns the game into an edutainment title about a prince and a flying carpet. He frustrates the characters so much that they find and rescue Steve.
  • In the third book of the Septimus Heap series, Queen Etheldredda the Awful attempts to pull this. She's a ghost, so her ability to do things is somewhat... limited, but she attempts to influence the Princess and her family to various effect. Those she doesn't like get infected with a dangerous disease via her ugly pet.
  • When beloved centaur mentor Chiron is temporarily relieved of his duties in the second Percy Jackson book, The Sea of Monsters, somebody unaccountably decided that the best person to replace him as activities coordinator at Camp Half-Blood would be notorious child-murderer Tantalus.
  • Miss Viola Swamp from the Miss Nelson series of books. Miss Swamp was a very harsh disciplinarian who kept the mischievous children in line when they took advantage of Miss Nelson's kind nature. It was revealed in the end of the first book that Miss Swamp was Miss Nelson in disguise.
  • Brother Leon, in The Chocolate War. He becomes acting headmaster of Trinity High School when the regular headmaster falls ill, makes a Deal with the Devil to try and secure the job permanently, and eventually winds up Jumping Off the Slippery Slope.
  • This was part of Baron Harkonnen's plan for Dune: first have his evil mentat Piter de Vries take control of Arrakis and squeeze every ounce of worth and water out of the people, then have his nephew Feyd swoop in as a big damn hero and win everyone's love and affection. Alas, Piter came down with a bad case of death before he could be put in charge, so the Baron sent his other nephew, the Beast Rabban.
  • The plot of Gay from China at the Chalet School revolves around this trope. When Miss Bubb, the tyrant in question, takes over as temporary headmistress after Miss Wilson, Miss Annersley and others are injured in a car crash, her fixation on exam results and crackdowns on the girls' free time and privileges makes her very unpopular, to the point where Joey writes a letter begging Miss Wilson to come back. Things comes to a head when she forbids Gay Lambert - who has broken rules on more than one occasion - to see her older brother before he is stationed in Asia, which leads to Gay running away and culminates in Miss Bubb having to resign, to everyone's relief.
  • Principal Bottoms from Diary of a Wimpy Kid: No-Brainer makes changes such as firing the janitors and even canceling the school’s contract with the exterminator. It gets so bad that the state has to close down the school.

Live-Action TV

  • Dexter experienced this trope with the introduction of Esme Pascal. An annoying short lived character who constantly raved that her boyfriend was cheating on her (which he was with the original leader)
  • Hogan's Heroes. This trope may as well be called "Colonel Klink's Been Replaced Again", given how often this is used.
    • Also applies when a new sergeant of the guard or underling comes in. They're almost invariably sterner than the usuals.
    • Also might apply to Crittendon. He's technically an ally, but he's both overcontrolling and a complete moron.
  • The Stargate SG-1 episode "Chain Reaction" is a typical Tyrant Takes The Helm episode. The beloved leader of the SGC, General Hammond, is blackmailed into retiring and is replaced by a General Bauer. Bauer proceeds to break up SG-1, dedicate all the SGC's resources to building a big bomb and privately delivers the "things will be different around here" speech to O'Neill. O'Neill then sets out to get Hammond back and he is, of course, successful by the end of the episode.
    • Bauer also screwed up so badly in the episode (blowing up an uninhabited planet which very nearly meant irradiating the entire state) that he probably would have resigned even if Hammond hadn't returned.
  • In M*A*S*H, Frank Burns became one whenever left in command.
    • Likewise with Charles and Hawkeye, although to be fair Hawkeye was faced with a nearly-impossible situation (most of the surgeons gone or incapacitated and a huge influx of casualties). Still, he managed to alienate everyone in camp almost as badly as Burns ever had until Potter returned and smoothed things over.
    • Colonel Potter, by contrast, was something of a Bait and Switch Tyrant.
  • "Evil Dick" of 3rd Rock from the Sun is a humorous version. His first "drastic change" was to move a gnome from a coffee table to a dresser.
  • Queeg in the self titled episode of Red Dwarf. Subverted because he is actually an alter ego of Holly, created to show the crew how good they have it with him. Guess he knew this trope.
  • When Doctor Maddox takes charge in Scrubs. She doesn't so much change the rules as do away with the small amount of leeway Doctor Kelso gave the staff.
  • Edward Vogler from House. Of course, there wasn't really a "regular" leader he was replacing, but Vogler did manage to pretty much take over the hospital and force them to run it his way. House, of course, opposed him at every turn and the rest of the main cast eventually came around as well.
  • The Britcom Are You Being Served, 1976 season, episode "Forward Mr. Grainger": The lovable head of the Men's Department Mr Grainger gets a temporary promotion and instantly becomes a complete tyrant, even going as far as to fire one of the regulars. Then the real manager returns ahead of schedule and takes back his job, sends Grainger back to his, and Grainger realizes that he's dug his own grave.
  • Crossing Jordan had multiple instances, one with Dr. Jack Slocum and another with Special Prosecutor William Ivers. The latter somewhat redeems himself in a later episode.
  • Private Frazer in Dads Army yearns to do this, angling for increased power and responsibility at every opportunity. Ironically, the one time he was temporarily put in charge he proved himself a much more effective leader than Captain Mainwaring. However, in following with the trope, the power goes to his head enough and he becomes enough of a bullying tyrant so that when the positions are returned to normal, no one really minds.
  • A curious example appears in Life On Mars in the form of DCI Frank Morgan, who temporarily replaces Gene Hunt when the latter is accused of murder. Contrary to the usual Tyrant, Morgan is—compared to his fellow 1973 officers, at any rate—a progressive, thoughtful and thoroughly competent administrator who only becomes a tyrant in that he's unwilling to put up with the sloppiness and ethically questionable conduct that Hunt encouraged. Sam Tyler, himself a progressive officer (with the excuse that he [to his knowledge] comes from 2007) finds himself actually admiring Morgan's methods even whilst he's trying to clear Hunt's name of murder. Later in the season, Morgan does reveal a bastard side, however, in that he's willing to go to any lengths -- including letting the rest of the team die in a botched undercover job -- so as to discredit Hunt and allow himself to take over and reform the department.
  • Matt Webber in the MacGyver episode "Early Retirement".
  • Erin Strauss on Criminal Minds. Though, to be fair, multiple times in the show she seems to come off as right, or even actively trying to help the team. She tries to remove Hotch from his position as Unit Chief (and Hotch later says to Prentiss that, if Prentiss had told Strauss some of the things the team has done, he would have gotten fired), but later on tells former agent newly joining the team David Rossi that the team is Hotch's. And, instead of finding a way to get rid of Hotch after he beats George Foyet to death, she feeds the team and Hotch lines to ensure that all testimony makes it obvious that Hotch had no choice.
  • Acting DA Van Dyke on Medium.
  • Played with several times in the U.S. version of The Office, most notably in the episode "The Job". Michael, assuming he will be promoted, names as his replacement Dwight, who immediately starts making odd changes.
    • This is also the crux of the Charles Miner story arc when Michael quits.
    • Happened yet again with Dwight when Steve Carell left the show. This time, Dwight went on an utterly insane power trip, which is probably more a tribute to how much he had Flanderized than anything. After one episode, he was fired for firing a gun in the office, though he of course retained his old job.
  • Two examples from Foyle's War:
    • The first takes over when Foyle is suspended under suspicion of having committed sedition; he initially seems like a Bait and Switch Tyrant, if a bit of a strict one until it's revealed that he framed Foyle for sedition on order to get his job, so that he could murder a junior civil servant hiding out in a 'funk hole' hotel nearby whose incompetence he blames for the deaths of his mother and sister in an air-raid.
    • The second takes over when Foyle resigns, and is disliked by everyone because he seems disinterested and incompetent at the job—it's later revealed he's like this because he doesn't care about anything since the deaths of his two sons in the war. He ends up accidentally getting shot by someone gunning for Milner, thus prompting Foyle's return.
  • "Fixer" Eva Thorne on Eureka seems to be a Tyrant so far. Especially with all the Enforced Plug Product Placement she's brought in.
    • Her role is changed to a more likable one when her past (and age) is revealed.
  • Greek: Lizzie, the national representative watching over Zeta Beta Zeta, is a passive-aggressive Tyrant, promising any "slip-ups" being reported to Nationals. She's somewhat ineffective, though, and eventually shows signs of a Bait and Switch Tyrant.
  • This happens at least once a season in 24. Usually at some point the competent head of CTU is either punished for not "playing by the book" or somehow incapacitated, and "Division" sends over a replacement, who is always an arrogant jerk who annoys everybody by being more concerned with strict guidelines and power trips than with doing whatever it takes to stop the terrorist threat at hand. Usually, this person is either re-replaced or finally comes to see the error of his or her ways, usually when they make things worse.
    • Special mention must go to Lynn McGill, who is such a tyrant that they eventually just declare him unfit for command and arrest him.
  • Captain Edward Jellico in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Chain of Command (Part 1)". He made sweeping changes which, while normal for a regular armed force, were rather unorthodox for the Mildly Military Starfleet. Notably, he finally put Troi in a standard uniform (which was much more flattering on her anyway).
  • An episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody had Mr. Mosbey fired and replaced by a Tyrant. It was all back to normal by the end of the episode.
  • Admiral Cain from the remade Battlestar Galactica series is a serious-as-cancer tyrant. Her concept of pragmatism involves a lot more "execution of un-useful civilians" than Adama's. Fortunately she's taken down before she gets to try this out with her newfound fleet. There's also the matter of her sanctioning the long and brutal torture of a Cylon captive who was once her girlfriend.
  • In The Wire Lt. Marimo does this in the fourth season. In a bit of genre-savviness, the bosses who sent him to the unit did so specifically to disrupt the unit, not because they believed he would be a good boss.
  • In Porridge (episode Disturbing the Peace), Mackay is sent away, only to be replaced by the sadistic Napper Wainwright.
  • Subverted briefly in SVU with Kim Greylek who informs Cragen that she'll be present at crime scenes. The captain, finding this a very familiar scene, cuts her down immediately.

"That won't last."

Boyd: You need to take this house back.
Adele: And how am I supposed to do that?
Boyd: ...The Adele I knew would never ask me that question.

    • Of course, given The Reveal later on that Boyd is the ultimate Big Bad running the corporation, this entire chain of events may have been orchestrated.
  • The secretary Miss Harbottle from All Creatures Great and Small. She rules the accounts with an iron fist and equates taking money from the cashbox to pay for petty expenses with embezzlement. No wonder she didn't last long.
  • Roger Gaffney in Homicide: Life on the Street. He is an incompetent detective who is promoted over Giardello for purely political reasons. He gives his "things are going to change around here" speech while Giardello trashes a room in a fit of rage.
  • Steve Fleming in The Thick of It. At first his colleagues are happy to see the back of Malcolm Tucker but when they realize how creepy, charmless and bad-tempered his replacement is they decide they want their jerk to come back from his Ten-Minute Retirement.
  • Arguably, Keith Mars when he regains the position of sheriff in Veronica Mars. While generally a good guy, his response to underage drinking was way out of proportion to the actual problem.
  • Mr Howard and Ms. Briggs from iCarly turn the school into something out of Nineteen Eighty-Four in iHaveMyPrincipals.
  • This trope could almost be called The Snyder, after Armin Shimerman's role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Snyder replaced Principal Flutie after Flutie was eaten by students possessed by hyenas. While he openly despised pretty much all teenagers, he targeted Buffy and the Scoobie Gang; it was theorized in Season Two that he was working for Mayor Wilkins, but by Season Three he turned out to be as much in the dark as the rest of the adult population of Sunnydale.
  • In the Midsomer Murders episode "Picture of Innocence", Barnaby is taken off a case when he becomes one of the suspects and is replaced by the pencil-pushing bureaucrat Martin Spellman, much to Jones' disgust.
  • On NYPD Blue, the first time Lt. Fancy leaves, his replacement definitely fits the trope. Fancy sees what's going on, and arranges to get her removed and comes back. Subverted when he leaves again—everyone (especially Andy) is expecting another tyrant, but the new guy turns out to be OK.
  • While DCI Jim Keats doesn't outright take leadership of CID, and while he's a lot subtler than your typical Tyrant, his role in Ashes to Ashes is that of an authority figure who tries to implement some serious changes, going against the grain and established protocol in an effort to - hopefully - usurp the current leader. Not only does he fail, he reveals his true nature. There have been theories that he's tried to take over before, in the guise of Frank Morgan in Life on Mars.
  • The replacement Kosh on Babylon 5, to the point that Sheridan actually plots his murder.
    • Also Emperor Cartagia, who turns out to be batshit insane and kills most of his advisers for trivial reasons (and keeps their heads to talk to them). His final plan? To become a god by letting the Vorlons destroy Centauri Prime. The worst part is that Londo helped put him in power, as he and Lord Refa believed they could control him. Boy, did that plan backfire.
  • Claudius plans to use this gambit by naming Nero his successor; the intent being to let Rome see how dreadful an Emperor can be. Strangely, they all seem to have forgotten how bad things were under Tiberius and Caligula, who preceded Claudius. Once Nero has ruined everything, Claudius's true chosen successor is to return to reinstate the Republic. Needless to say, this does not work out.
  • In one episode of Even Stevens, Principal Wexler leaves to pursue a modelling career and is replaced by incompetent pushover Vice Principal Landau. After the school descends into anarchy, Ren gives him a pep talk and tells him to be more assertive. He takes it to heart, and a few days later the school has turned into 1984 (things get better in the end, of course).
  • An episode of Primeval had the imperious Christine Johnson take control of the ARC and force the team into hiding. She was removed from her post by the end of the episode though.
    • After the return of Abby and Connor after their 1-year hiatus in the past, they find out that things have changed in the ARC. While James Lester (who is much more caring that he pretends to be) is still formally in charge of day-to-day activities, it's now partly a privately-funded operation with a tycoon named Philip Burton having a lot of say. While he's not exactly a tyrant, he's much more concerned with the anomalies themselves than protecting the people from all the creatures that come through. After he nearly dies thanks to Rex escaping his cage, he orders that all creatures in the ARC be put down, no exceptions. Lester has to blackmail him to reverse the order.
  • In Jack of All Trades, Governor Croque once goes to prison and his wife takes over for the duration. She decides to start executing villagers to force the Dragoon to reveal himself. In another episode Jack and Emily have to aid Croque in looking good in front of his superiors, since otherwise he might be replaced by someone who is actually a threat.
    • Any episode where Croque's brother Napoleon shows up, he immediately takes over (being The Emperor and all), forcing Dragoon to try to get him off the island as fast as possible.
  • On Parks and Recreation, Chris after he becomes acting City Manager. He institutes a number of changes, including the UST-inducing ban on workplace dating, in addition to shaking up the Parks Department by giving everyone new assignments that they're unsuited for. However, Chris is quite a nice guy; he's simply oblivious to the fact that not everyone is as efficient, cheerful, and professional as he is.
    • Ron discusses the tendency for new city managers to shake things up and insist on doing things their own way. He loves this period because all of the changes are inevitably terrible and nothing gets done, giving him a chance to relax and eat doughnuts.
  • In Power Rangers SPD, Supreme Commander Birdie fires Cruger in one episode due to Cruger's unwillingness to follow Birdie's ideas on strategy. Birdie gets the Rangers, and later himself, into trouble very quickly due to his pride and his "split up the team regardless of circumstances" strategies.
  • In one epsiode of The Slammer, the Governor is arrested and replaced by a new governor, Mr Beltsem. Beltsem is a tyrant who mistreats both the prisoners and the guards, and suffers from 'show biz phobia'.

Professional Wrestling

  • Vickie Guerrero during her time as Smackdown and Raw General Manager in WWE fills this role well.
    • Hell, many of the General Managers have been this way. Both Eric Bischoff and Paul Heyman filled this role.
  • Kevin Nash was this after he won the WCW commissioner position from Terry Funk in early 2000. To the point where he told everyone that from now on, whenever speaking to him, they must kneel and refer to him as their "Lord Master".
  • Ric Flair was this after he turned heel while president of WCW. Well, this and batshit crazy.


Remley: From this moment on, I am your leader. You will respect my authority without question and obedience, I AM AN ABSOLUTE POWER!
Band members: Heil, Remley! Heil, Remley! Heil, Remley!

Newspaper Comics

  • An early arc of FoxTrot saw parents Roger and Andy leaving their eldest son Peter in charge while they went on vacation. Peter immediately started abusing the power they'd given him, making Paige and Jason follow all his demands. When they get sick of it and confront him, he responds by locking them in the basement. Fortunately, Jason and Paige had tapes of Peter's reign and Peter himself told them he locked Jason and Paige in the basement, so he was punished accordingly.


  • In Measure for Measure, the Duke of Vienna disappears and leaves Angelo in his place. The Duke later explains that he did this specifically because he wanted this to happen, for the purpose of pulling a Good Cop, Bad Cop on Vienna.

Video Games

  • Valtome from Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn was a tyrant of the Smug Snake variety, and a bit of an odd example given the fact that the old leader was still there; he just was forced to follow Valtome's orders. Which included, among other things, sending a significant number of his men into a deathtrap to hunt for corpses. Oh, and sending his personal army to attack Queen Elincia, who had just achieved a ceasefire by willingly disarming herself.
  • In Fable III, if you're an evil player this is what happens when you usurp your older brother Logan as King. You can be just as bad or even worse of a tyrant than him.
  • StarCraft provides Arcturus Mengsk, who fills this role as the Emperor of the Dominion. Has not yet been dethroned, even in the sequel.
    • The point in Starcraft is not that Mengsk is worse than the government he overthrew, but that he is just as bad: that the only thing changed between the Confederacy and the Dominion was the label. Well, and he has a personal grudge against Raynor.
  • His dad was certainly not a charmer, but Rufus Shinra of Final Fantasy VII made it quite clear from his New Era Speech ('The old man ruled through money, I'll rule through fear') that he was going to be worse. Although President Shinra destroyed an entire sector of his city, killing untold numbers, just to wipe out a terrorist hideout. Rufus 'died' defending the same city from WEAPON and then resurfaced alive and repentant, if still manipulative, in Advent Children ...YourMileageMayVary on whether he was actually worse or not.
    • Indeed, Rufus's cruelty, which is mentioned several times throughout the game, seems to come off as Informed Ability when the most "evil" thing we see him do is order the execution of Tifa and Barret, though Heidegger and Scarlett seemed to push the whole "create a scapegoat" aspect of it. Compare this to the ordered deaths of quite possibly several thousands of civilians and watching said Holocaust from the window of your office while opera is playing in the background.
  • Atlas, revealed to be Fontaine from BioShock (series) takes over, reveals his true identity, and proceeds to make the protagonist's adventure a living hell while ruling as a complete dictator with full intentions of taking over the world economy by brute force and the use of ADAM. Considering the fact that he has no ideology compared to Ryan, this gives him no restraints as the ruler of the city.
    • Which, considering that Ryan's own restraints basically amounted to "don't screw with me or Rapture as a whole" that resulted in him trying to use sedative gas on the entire populace to maintain order, really goes to show just how ridiculously far he's prepared to go.
  • Hideyoshi in Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams. While Nobunaga was an all powerful man who sold his soul to the genma for his ambitions, you at least had the feeling that he had no ill will towards his enemies and was lost into his ambition, not trying to be a genma puppet or cause suffering to the people he wanted to rule. Hideyoshi, on the other hand, pretty much tries to turn the entire country and possibly the world into mind controlled monsters and has people used to make Genma trees that will allow his plans to work. He's ultimately a pawn, but he went to lengths willingly that Nobunaga might actually be disgusted with.

Web Comics

  • Simon DeVere, the new store director in TRU-Life Adventures. He talks big about preserving what works at the store and just making a few tweaks here and there, his actions prove him to be this trope.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • In Season 2, Episode 24 of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, Diamond Tiara is chosen as the new editor-in-chief for Ponyville's school's newspaper. She goes so far as to call her role a "new regime" while describing it.
  • Francine in the Arthur episode Francine Frensky, Superstar!.
  • "That Guy", the unfrozen '80s CEO of Planet Express and Morgan Proctor, Hermes' replacement bureaucrat from the "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back" episode of Futurama.
  • The time auditor from an episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, DVD (he removed the vowels from his name in order to be more efficient).
  • Essentially the whole plot of the Adventure Time episode "Too Young." Although the earl of Lemongrab isn't evil or malicious in his intentions (he's more of an angry, inexperienced, spoiled child,) his style of ruling is summed up by his quote from the storyboards: "Anyone who disagrees or disobeys will be thrown into the dungeon." He isn't an intentional tyrant, but he does end up sending literally everyone in the Candy Kingdom to the dungeon for "one million years."
  • One episode of Recess has Gus appointed as Acting King of the Playground while King Bob is away. His insane edicts culminate with enslaving the entire playground and forcing everyone to dig in the "cookie mines" (nobody's brave enough to ask why he expects to find cookies underground).
    • In another episode Randall became one of these after blackmailing King Bob with a photo of a dress he was forced to wear by his sister.
    • In yet another episode King Bob himself devolves from a Reasonable pseudo-authority figure to a tyrant after feeling like he'll be forgotten: being inspired by ancient Egypt, he renames himself "Pharaoh Bob" and forces everyone to build him a pyramid.
    • Additionally, the principal who seeks to replace Principal Prickly, who is not only immune to the pranks by TJ at first go (and in fact gives an Early Room101 discipline) but plans to turn the school to Auschwitz or Airstrip One Elementary school. The only reason why he wasn't the next principal was due to the poor pay offer by the school board.
    • One episode sees King Bob preoccupied with a biographer, leaving his usually reliable assistants to handle affairs of the playground. When there's issue they're not sure how to resolve, they come upon rules created by one King Mortie. This seems to work out, but the rules become increasingly bizarre. (Turns out Mortie was of the Depression-era and his rules were to ensure poor kids would always have something to play with.) T.J. and company want things to go back to normal, but King Bob's assistants get a little too comfortable dictating rules and effectively establish a secret police to enforce things. But don't worry, King Bob sets everything straight.
  • In Danny Phantom, a series of pranks in "Eye for an Eye" escalates to Vlad becoming Mayor of Amity Park and him doing this. Eventually things went back to being (relatively) normal.
  • Lieutenant Major Goose in the Hey Arnold! episode "New Teacher". After they get a new teacher by the name of Mr. Simmons, the kids refuse to take him seriously and perform a series of pranks, eventually causing him to get frustrated and quit. However, he is then in turn replaced by a strict military martinet (Major Goose), and the kids waste no time in unhatching a plan to get Mr. Simmons back.
  • Subverted twice on The Simpsons, when surly assistant superintendent Leopold stomps up to the podium in Springfield Elementary's assembly hall, snarls something to the effect of "things are going to be very, very different around here", then cheerily introduces a much more endearing individual as the replacement faculty member. The first time is in "Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song" when announcing Ned Flanders as replacement principal, and the second time is in "The PTA Disbands" with Marge Simpson becoming a substitute teacher.
    • Inverted in "My Sister, My Sitter." After Lisa proves herself a reliable babysitter for the neighborhood, Homer and Marge leave her in charge when they go out. Lisa tries to be fair, but Bart (hating the idea of being babysat by his little sister) is as difficult as possible. After a series of pranks, he winds up breaking his arm in a fall. Naturally, It Got Worse from there.
  • Mr. Grump in "Madeline's Holiday With Mr. Grump" on Madeline.
  • In Potsworth and Company, there was one episode where the Bigger Bad, tired of her son's failures, fired him and hired a replacement who was so terrible the heroes tricked her into firing him and rehiring the original Big Bad.
  • The Legend of Korra

Real Life

  • The earliest real-life tyrant (of Greco-Roman usage) was far different from the usual meaning. It did not specifically imply anything other than the tyrant's rise to power was unconventional. Their morality and application of said power could be bad, good, and in between. The negative connontation came from how the bad examples overshadowed the good and led to it's current status as a negative term.
  • One of Niccolò Machiavelli's most famous pieces of advice from The Prince was to have a Tyrant Take The Helm in a rebellious territory. The tyrant will crush resistance at the cost of arousing public hatred. Then, when you come in and order the tyrant's beheading, you're left with a pacified province of people who consider themselves indebted to you for eliminating the tyrant.
  • Many revolutions and coups throughout history have caused tyrants to come to power.
  1. Possibly unknowingly, but she so heartily embraced his evil policies that it hardly even matters whether she knew who was behind them.