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The Creon is basically the right-hand man, king's advisor, chief general, The Dragon, or other somesuch person of considerable power or influence who is not himself at the pinnacle of the pyramid. He's the second-in-command. However, unlike The Starscream, The Creon is decidedly not gunning for the first spot. Maybe he doesn't want the responsibility; maybe he's just fine where he is; or maybe the top spot is just too dangerous a place for a person like him. He fits his job as second, and even if offered the top spot he just won't take it - regardless of how lucrative the offer.
Creons are not always good people. Their motivations may be completely selfish. On occasion, a Creon will be perfectly willing for his superior to be replaced by someone else - but not by the Creon himself. Most often however, The Creon will be the best right-hand a leader could ask for.
To qualify as a Creon, the character must have had at least one chance to take all the power for himself, and actively refused to do so, whether for altruism, cowardice, disinterest in leadership, or any other personal reason. If there was no other choice, and the Creon did in fact have to take the top spot, he must have relinquished it voluntarily as soon as the actual leader returned. The Creon always gravitates back to the second spot on his own accord, rather than being forced to stay there by circumstances, etiquette or regulations.
This trope is the opposite of The Starscream, who spends almost all his time scheming to get rid of his superior and assume the top spot. The Creon may be The Good Chancellor, a Sarcastic Devotee, or even a Poisonous Friend - there are many options.
- The Trope Namer is Creon of Thebes, a character who appeared in several Ancient Greek Dramas. In Oedipus Rex he actually says quite frankly that he's not interested in being king, and finds it much more pleasant to be the one with the power and not the responsibility. However he does become leader of Thebes in Antigona, and sure enough, doesn't do very well.
- Commander Riker of Star Trek the Next Generation is another famous example of this. During the many seasons and movies he's been repeatedly offered his own command of various starships, yet chose to remain as second-in-command on the Enterprise regardless.
- Before Riker, Spock was this on Star Trek the Original Series. He did become Captain of the Enterprise at the start of Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan, but relinquished command as smoothly as humanly possible - and not just because Kirk outranks him either.
- In the Original Series episode "Mirror, Mirror", alternate Spock is this too: claiming to have no desire for the Captaincy, for the same reasons as the original Creon did.
- Saul Tigh from the new Battlestar Galactica. He is forced to take command of the fleet briefly when Boomer shoots Adama but it doesn't go very well and he happily returns command to Adama.
- Zoe from Firefly fits this trope perfectly - she's always supportive of Mal.
- Cid in Final Fantasy VII. While he's older than Cloud, far more learned than Cloud (e.g. a science education and an accomplished pilot as compared to Cloud's Informed Ability) and arguably shouldn't have given Cloud leadership back after Cloud's incident... decided to do so anyway because being a leader wasn't his thing.
- Alistair from Dragon Age: Origins. First, he gives up leadership of your group (he actually never brings up the leadership issue, despite being the senior Grey Warden still alive in Ferelden). But much more than that, he refuses to inherit the kingdom because leadership is not his thing.
- Seneschal Varel from Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening. He is effectively the ruler of Amaranthine while the Warden-Commander (you) is off adventuring, yet maintains his subordinate position.
- The Bene Gesserit from the Dune universe do this for many, many centuries. They hold that if you grab supreme power, you're going to fall just as hard. Instead they manipulate power in the known universe from the position of a "trusted advisor" to Emperors and great houses. In addition, much of what they do is a huge breeding program designed to create a super-being to serve as the ultimate emperor and be directly under their control, so even at their greatest moment of triumph they're still not looking for the top position, just to have full control of the person in the top position. Naturally this fails once the super-being comes to existence and basically turns the tables on them.
- Faramir from The Lord of the Rings, especially in the books. He rejects the power of the Ring, in contrast to his brother who desired it, and is more than content to be Steward under the king, as opposed to his family, who ruled as Stewards, but coveted the kingship.
- Watch commander Vimes in Discworld.
- Gekkei from The Twelve Kingdoms is a Double Subversion of this trope. Firstly, although he is initially portrayed as loyal to the king, he later leads a rebellion and kills him. The subversion is doubled because it was what he needed to do, and once the revolution is succesful he rejects the other officers' pleas for him to take the throne, and is even about to quit his charge after the incident. He then reconsiders and stays in charge - not because he wants to, but because if there's nobody in charge, the kingdom will fall (literally, since each kingdom is ruled by a Fisher King. He is just faithfully holding the throne for the next true ruler.