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Germany was having trouble, what a sad, sad story.

Needed a new leader to restore its former glory.
The Producers, title song of the Show Within a Show Springtime for Hitler

The whole world's going to hell. Crime, corruption, moral degeneration, and a soft, weak government that can't do a thing to help. In comes this guy, promising to end all that--and being the idiots we are, we elect him, or at least wildly applaud his coup d'état. Once he seizes power, he may become The Generalissimo.

The Glorious Leader is a political outsider who uses romantic and idealist rhetoric to hide some malevolent agenda. He talks lovingly about the Good Old Ways and/or the great new age he will bring about, and every other sentence out of his mouth is a New Era Speech. Bonus points if he fingers some other group of outsiders as The Enemy, blaming them for the degenerate modern era, or decides the country ought to go to war on some implausible pretext just to prove its military strength.

The Trope Codifier, of course, is Adolf Hitler. Other examples: Mr. Saxon, Darth Sidious, Fascist leaders all over 20th-century Europe, Otto Von Bismarck, and Mao Ze Dong.

Contrast Dark Messiah, who this guy is dangerously close to becoming if there's a religious angle to the story.

Examples of Glorious Leader include:


Anime and Manga

Comic Books

  • Adam J Susan (or Adam J Sutler) from V for Vendetta.
  • New Gods villain Glorious Godfrey has (fittingly enough) played this role in numerous guises.

Film

  • Darth Sidious in Star Wars (as Chancellor Palpatine). Three years into the Clone Wars, the Republic was a military dictatorship in all but name, and Sidious had a supermajority in the Senate who did everything he said. Although his rise of power had been planned out in meticulous detail before anyone noticed him.
    • And his closest political allies knew he was a Sith Lord long before he made himself Emperor.
  • The Leader in Sleeper. And then just his nose.

Literature

  • Daala is sickened by the ranks and self-promotions the warlords have invented and/or given themselves. This, combined with other reasons, results in Daala ending the Enemy Civil War and uniting the imperial military. [1], [2], [3], [4]
  • President Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip of Sinclaim Lewis' It Can't Happen Here, later adapted as V.
    • And by extension Charles Lindbergh as presented in Philip Roth's The Plot Against America (Roth's novel is a Spiritual Successor).
  • In Octavia Butler's Parable series, a dystopic United States elects Reverend Andrew Steele Jarrett, a radical preacher who eventually leads a crusade against all non-Christians and other undesirable groups, blaming them for the devastation of the economy and using them as a scapegoat to unite the people against.
  • Big Brother in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Nobody has seen him in person, but his face is worshiped on posters and on the telescreens.
  • Christopher Goodman from Christ Clone.
  • Greg Stillson, the obscure up-and-coming local politician destined to become President and destroy humanity from Stephen King's The Dead Zone, certainly fits the "political outsider with bizarre behavior and no obvious qualifications who nonetheless manages to climb to power through populist rhetoric and spectacular publicity stunts" part of the trope. The narrator even outright says that Stillson is obviously unsuited for serious public office, but the voters enjoy his theatrics and vote him into power anyway as a sort of "screw you" to the Washington establishment, believing that he'll shake things up without doing any actual harm. This proves an exceptionally poor decision on the part of the voters, as while Stillson has no actual over-arcing Evil Plan, he's obviously loony, secretly corrupt, and criminally inclined, and the sort of person who would start an unnecessary nuclear war just because he felt like it (and eventually does).

Live Action TV

  • Flash Gordon: Ming is called "Benevolent Father" and took control of Mongo during a Civil War or a time of overall anarchy. [5], [6]
  • From Doctor Who, British Prime Minister Harold Saxon, AKA The Master, an insane Time Lord, notable for having strong public support (using the ArchAngel network to subtly hypnotise them), taking a strong stand in diplomatic relations with the US President (having him murdered on national television) and bringing about dramatic electoral reforms (taking over the world). Vote Saxon!

Tabletop Games

  • Call of Cthulhu campaign The Fungi from Yuggoth. The Brotherhood of the Beast plans to cause worldwide disaster so its leader can step in, save the world and be made President of the U.S. (and eventually ruler of the world).
  • The Scarlet Empress initiated her rule on the basis of her power over the Realm Defense Grid being the only thing capable of holding off the surviving raksha hoards and maintaining peace and solidarity among the remaining Dragon Blooded.

Theater

  • The Wizard of Oz as presented in the musical Wicked.
  • Wintergreen is basking in this status at the second act of Let 'Em Eat Cake.

Video Games

  • Scholar Visari of Killzone, of which the Helghan race is based off the Nazis.
  • Loghain in Dragon Age.
  • Darth Revan has more then a few elements of this in Knights of the Old Republic, especially considering how loyal his followers tend to be to him and/or his ideals even in the sequel, when he's been gone for at least five years.
    • Well, his followers who aren't Malak, at any rate. Of course, Malak proceeded to (try to) set up his own cult of personality, although he was somewhat overshadowed by Revan even then. And the big honkin' tombs of the dead Sith Lords of Korriban suggests this is something of a tradition.

Web Comics

  • Von Gernsbach in Minion Comics rails against the governments, corporations, and the military who keep information secret from the people as justification for his organization's hacking efforts.

Web Original

  • In The Gamers Alliance, Dylas and Pronin pretend to be saviours of their people but are actually power-hungry tyrants who use people for their own purposes and aren't afraid to break a few eggs to make an omelette.

Real Life

  • The ancient Greeks called this form of government a Tyranny. In their political phraseology "Tyranny" meant not necessarily rule by The Caligula, but rule by an autocrat who rules based on force and popular sentiment rather then by Royal Blood(who could of course be The Caligula but was often just a Magnificent Bastard). Such rulers were common in Ancient Greece and some were well liked and reasonably good at their job. In any case the Ancients were quite familiar with Glorious Leaders making this Older Than They Think.
  • Mao Ze Dong was known as "The Great Helmsman". [7], [8]
  • Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il had their people literally address them as this.
    • Because of translation errors, political titles, military ranks, and propaganda messages; there are multiple variations. The common variations include the words: Leader, Ruler, Marshal, and General. An internet search is recommended for more information since listing all of their titles is not realistic.
    • cracked.com has several articles about similiar rulers. [9], [10]
  • In a similar case is Idi Amin whose full title is His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular..
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