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Some monster or non-human species have aristocracies with Blue Bloods that just so happen to actually have blue blood. And rarely, lowborn monsters (frequently former humans) can aspire to earn such titles with "heroic" deeds, political savvy, or by dint of Asskicking Equals Authority. Beyond that though, some Monster Lords are physiologically different from rank and file Mooks. Maybe the species as a whole has a caste system, and over time the leaders have become a different "race" that is more powerful by nature. Other monster races may have a life cycle where old or "mature" mooks become lords if they grow really powerful, use a magic ritual, or they have a really strong willpower.
The net effect is that the Monster Lord is a King Mook with a few extra bells and whistles. In video games, their "sprite" will likely be wholly unique, not a Palette Swap. They may be able to repel things that weaken lesser monsters. Their children/infectees will likely be stronger than other mooks, have an easier time becoming a Monster Lord, or naturally be born one. They will usually become a Hive Queen or have great Psychic Powers over the lesser monsters, especially ones they create. And of course, they will be physically stronger, tougher, and faster.
Frequently, the Monster Lord will be The Man Behind the Monsters. Even though not human, they will look human-like because the process of climbing the Evolutionary Levels ladder raised them higher up on the Bishounen Line. Of course, if there's a rung above Monster Lord, it'll probably be a One-Winged Angel and make them monstrous again. They also tend to be the oldest members of their species, thus the strongest.
One downside though is that Monster Lords tend to be epic spell components or chow in the Food Chain of Evil. So wizards, other monsters, or even their own underlings will try to eat them to gain more power.
For the mechanical equivalent, see Mechanical Monster for examples.
See also the Monster Progenitor, who is usually the top Monster Lord of its kind.
Anime & Manga
- Guyver has this in the Zoalords, Hyper-Zoanoids, and bog standard Zoanoids.
- The Youkai in Inuyasha fit this, specifically Inuyasha's father was a Lord of all the Inu-Youkai and had non-Inu Youkai vassals.
- The Abyssal Ones in Claymore, the strongest among the Awakened Beings and Yoma. In particular, Isley of the North, who rallies an army of lesser Awakened Beings to assault Pieta.
- The royal family of monsters in Princess Resurrection fit this trope to a 'T'.
- Vampires in Blade have two "classes": those born as vampires and those turned into vampires later in life. Born vampires form the ruling class of vampire society and look down on turned vampires. This fuels Frost to rebel in the first film.
- The Dark Tower series by Steven King has a couple of examples. The Low Men are weak-minded ratlike creatures; they rank lower than the Taheen, which are more or less humans with animal heads; and the whole bunch turns out to be led by ancient vampires. Among the vampires themselves, there are a couple of weak echelons made up of people converted to vampirism by the ancients, who are again the Monster Lords.
- Myrdraal in The Wheel of Time are Monster Lords to the Trollocs.
- Dracula is a count, and the other vampires mentioned in the book clearly view him as superior... but this may be less to do with his title and more to do with the fact he's implied to be their husband and/or father and also happens to be a badass.
- The villains of Mercedes Lackey's Obsidian Trilogy are the Endarkened, who draw inspiration from classical depictions of demons and devils, with such features at bat wings and red skin. The servants of their world are Lesser Endarkened, who are uglier and lack wings, but have fur and cloven feet.
Live Action TV
- Vampires in Buffy the Vampire Slayer can become "Lords" if they live long enough... usually, this results in their Game Face getting stuck on.
- Angel, meanwhile, had the Archduke Sebassis, lord of a legion of demons.
- In Farscape, the Scarran ruling class looks far more humanoid than the "horse-faced" variety the series introduced first.
- The officer caste Martian Ice Warriors in Doctor Who are very different in appearance from the usual ones (slimmer and much less heavily-armoured), although contrary to fanon the name "Ice Lord" is never used on-screen.
- Dungeons and Dragons has had this with Lizard Kings (lizard men), Lamia Nobles, Noble genies, "Greater" monsters (basilisk, daemons/demons/devils, lammasu, shedu), demon princes and archdevils. A couple of adventures have had zombie lords as well.
- Kindred in Vampire: The Requiem grow stronger with age and experience, represented by the power stat Blood Potency. Truly powerful vampires (Blood Potency 6) can only feed on humans  and can create bloodlines which they can bestow on all their progeny and even supplicant vampires. Basically, a bloodline is a second "clan" that gives all vampires in the bloodline a fourth in clan discipline, which is often unique and very powerful compared to the core ten. Of course, they also develop a second Curse.
- The Ventrue also style themselves as this in both Requiem and Masquerade (its predecessor) to the point where their nickname in Masquerade is "Blue Bloods," though they have the same weaknesses as most other vampires; on the other hand, their Blue Blood nickname probably stems from their tradition of Embracing nobility and they do wield the majority of temporal influence. There's even a Ventrue bloodline in Requiem, the Deucaliones, who are formed around the idea that the Ventrue are the supreme clan and all others are innately flawed (which they are, but of course so are the Ventrue).
- Exalted's Raksha Nobles, the more powerful type of Fae, are as different from (non-heroic) Commoner fae as a protagonist is from a Mook- literally.
- Magic: The Gathering has this in the Zendikar Block. Only the most powerful vampires can convert people into true vampires by draining their blood, but lesser vampires can create zombies (called nulls) by draining the blood completely from a target. This power doesn't come up much in the game, but it is there in the fluff. The picture for this page features a vampire and some follower nulls.
- Magic has these all over the races, and they used to even have the creature type "Lord." The type has been lost, but the effect remains: they power up other creatures of the same type, and some even make more of them, or make them easier to cast. Goblins, Soldiers, and Elves are popular choices for lords because of their consistent focus on a group mentality, but there have been lords for Vampires, Merfolk, Zombies, Treefolk, Saprolings, Elementals, Warriors, Faeries, and Beasts.
- The Innistrad block has recently given rise to several of these, as it is largely based on Gothic Horror. Vampires have Olivia Voldaren, capable of turning other Creatures into Vampires, getting stronger because of it and then taking control of them, as well as the Bloodline Keeper/Lord of Lineage card which creates Vampires and then transforms when you have enough, making them stronger as well.
- Disgaea has this, even if you don't count the basically human Overlords. Examples include the higher tiers of most of the monster classes (Zombie King, Orc Master/King, Lord Cat God) as well as the Nether Nobles and some bosses.
- Starcraft has a justified variant of this with Kerrigan. She's more human than the rest of the Zerg because she is an infected human.
- More like a Human-Zerg hybrid than an infectee.
- With Kerrigan's deinfestation in Starcraft II part 1, it looks like this trope will be played straighter than ever come Heart of the Swarm, as the mostly-human Kerrigan will still be commanding some, if not all, Zerg.
- Doom 2 has the Arch Vile, which is not only the most powerful non-boss monster, but also one of the most human in its appearance. It has the power to bring dead monsters back to life.
- Kingdom Hearts. Xehanort's Heartless, Organization XIII and in Birth By Sleep Vanitas all qualify.
- Popularized by the Trope Codifier Dragon Quest, medieval j-RPGs often have their Big Bad played by a "Maoh," a loose term often translated as "Demon King". It has become the series tradition for a Big Bad since the 3rd installment in 1988. Whatever species they actually are, they tend to rule over the local monsters and command some kind of dark magic. Unless it's just a negative title.
- They exist as a class in the Megami Tensei series.
- Chrono Trigger's was translated as Magus, given he turned out to be a discolored, pointy-eared human of great, inborn magic. Though on paper that sounds like a Monster Lord of humans.
- The DS script still calls him Magus, but also adds the title Fiendlord, which is much better at getting this trope across.
- The very first character to use the title in a video game was none other than Bowser of Super Mario Bros. in 1985. He's a particularly tough Koopa whose children are also much tougher than your run-of-the-mill baddies.
- The second was Ganon in The Legend of Zelda. The others before Dragon Quest III were Valarys in Hydlide Special, Azathoth in Jaseiken Necromancer, and Lucifer in Megami Tensei.
- Daedra from The Elder Scrolls series play the trope straight. There is a clear heirarchy with unintelligent beasts at the bottom, various human-animal hybrids like Daedroth, Spider Daedra, and Winged Twilights in the middle, and the intelligent, humanoid Dremora/Daedra Lords at the top.
- In Monster Girl Quest this trope is used by its very name.
- King Bulbin from The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess definitely qualifies
- Tewi Inaba from the Touhou series is a Rabbit Lord (or Lady, as the case may be), having evolved into a near-human form by dint of simply living long enough. (Chen and Ran from the same series don't exactly qualify, as they were created that way.)
- In general, Eastern mythology (from which the series borrows heavily) often holds that an animal which lives long enough becomes a supernatural being or Youkai, gaining powers and the ability to take on a humanoid form. Of course, modern works tend to use this mainly as an excuse to make their characters a Little Bit Beastly.
- From X1 until X7, Sigma was the Monster Lord of the Maverick hordes. Many Mavericks either chose to serve him or were even built by him. If some Mavericks aren't directly under his thumb (like in the first two games), he will still find a way to provoke (X4, X6, and X7) or infect (X3 and X5) them into sin. Even mild-mannered individuals become rampaging monsters and have to be put down, as Zero learned the hard way. X8 finally revoked his status with his final death.
- Poharex has the Horned Snakes, which make up the commanders and officers in Darrakith's army, while the Silver Snakes, a different species, are the low-rank infantry.
- Chaotic the ant-like Danians have the battle masters that command the common foot soldiers (often in the Bad Boss kind of way) and then the queen that rules over all of them.
- ↑ (and not long after, other vampires)