Created By: Topazan on June 4, 2012 Last Edited By: Topazan on October 13, 2012
Troped

What The Romans Have Done For Us

Denizens grudgingly admit that life has improved in some ways under a hated tyrant or invader.

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Trope
Do We Have This? Open to suggestions on names.

Many tyrants and invaders will claim they make life better for their subjects, but sometimes it's true. Even the most devoted revolutionaries will admit that in some ways life was even worse before the tyrant took power.

Examples

  • Played for Laughs in Monty Python's Life of Brian as the rebels discuss it.
    All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us?
  • In Fallout: New Vegas Caesar's Legion is generally hated and feared in the Mojave Wasteland, being a merciless slave empire. However, a couple of people admit that they've done a better job at keeping their territories safe from raiders than the democratic NCR has.
  • On the Discworld, many Ankh-Morpork elites dislike Vetinari, because he opened the city to dwarf and troll immigrants and generally unorthodox. Still, they admit that the city safer and more prosperous than it has been in a long time, and Vetinari's predecessors were much worse. It's why he has Vetinari Job Security.
  • Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms setting, supplement Forgotten Realms Adventures. After Cormyr invaded Tilverton there was much grumbling by the inhabitants. However, the influx of Cormyrean merchants and trade increased their wealth, and the military garrison and the wall erected around the town reduced raiding by bandits and monsters.
  • The Simpsons: In the David and Goliath segment of "Simpsons Bible Stories" after Bart/David kills Nelson/Goliath II he is jailed for regicide because it turns out in addition to being a tyrant he built roads and hospitals and he was a better and more loved king than Bart/David.
  • Adam Hart-Davis hosted a series of documentaries titled "What The [Civilisation]s Did For Us" which focused on how some generally unpopular periods in British history (Roman occupation, Victorian times) lead to important parts of British society.
  • Undercover Brother has a bit probably inspired by Monty Python's Life of Brian, although replace Jews and the Roman Empire with African-Americans and the Republican Party.
  • A sketch on Horrible Histories has the wife of a crusader saying "Aside from [reels off a list of everything brought back from the Crusades] what have the Crusades done for me?"
Community Feedback Replies: 31
  • June 5, 2012
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • Dungeons And Dragons Forgotten Realms setting, supplement Forgotten Realms Adventures. After Cormyr invaded Tilverton there was much grumbling by the inhabitants. However, the influx of Cormyrean merchants and trade increased their wealth, and the military garrison and the wall erected around the town reduced raiding by bandits and monsters.
  • June 5, 2012
    StevenT
    • The Simpsons: In the David and Goliath segment of "Simpsons Bible Stories" after Bart/David kills Nelson/Goliath II he is jailed for regicide because it turns out in addition to being a tyrant he built roads and hospitals and he was a better and more loved king than Bart/David.
  • June 5, 2012
    DracMonster
    This is very close to No Delays For The Wicked and Bread And Circuses. I think it's not quite the same, but you'll need to specify the difference in the description.
  • June 5, 2012
    Duncan
    The oft-cited claim that Benito Mussolini "made the trains run on time".
  • June 5, 2012
    nitrokitty
    • Hitler and the Nazi party did revitalize the horrible German economy and turn a failed state into a superpower. Of course, then he did all that other stuff...
  • June 6, 2012
    Aquila89
    If that's going to be a trope, it's gotta have a No Real Life Examples warning. I mean, it's like asking for a flame war.
  • August 13, 2012
    Topazan
    I think real life examples are fine, except that this trope is about the attitudes of people living under those dictators, not about the attitudes of people living decades after their reign in different countries. If you can find me some quotes by people who lived under those rulers, opposed their rule, and acknowledged their effectiveness in spite of their dislike, then they can be included.

    I think the difference between this and Bread And Circuses is that Bread And Circuses is about leaders who bribe their subjects with superficial luxuries to keep them complacent. What The Romans Have Done For Us is about rulers who genuinely are good leaders, despite being unpopular for whatever reason. I guess that makes it related to Hero With Bad Publicity.
  • August 19, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Some will argue that the attitude might be other than what it is. Trust me, that has happened on message boards.
  • August 19, 2012
    Bisected8
    • Adam Hart-Davis hosted a series of documentaries titled "What The [Civilisation]s Did For Us" which focused on how some generally unpopular periods in British history (Roman occupation, Victorian times) lead to important parts of British society.
  • August 19, 2012
    Xtifr
    I think What Has The Empire Done For Us would be a better name, as the current name makes me think of the many contributions made by the Romans in politics (the Republic), civil engineering (public roads and aqueducts) and many other things that are still in use or being emulated today. The Romans have done a lot for us who live in modern western society. :)
  • August 19, 2012
    Jordan
    • Undercover Brother has a bit probably inspired by The Life of Brian, although replace Jews and the Roman Empire with African-Americans and the Republican Party.

    Edit- sorry, missed some things in original phrasing
  • August 19, 2012
    animeg3282
    Republican.
  • August 19, 2012
    Tiiba
    ^ You can edit your original post instead of posting errata. Look for the pencil symbol on the left.
  • September 4, 2012
    captainsandwich
    A few things. I think "Citizens" should be changed to "Denizen" How far does admit have to go? consider the following possibilities, if they should count, also try and use these to come up with other circumstances and determine if they should count:
    • A person admits it, but only to himself.
    • A person realizes but refuses to admit it, even only to himself because he hates the regime so much.
    • A person realizes it, and believes it but it is clear this character is the only one with this viewpoint.
    • A person realizes something is better, at least on paper, but because the means it was done, the person would have preferred conditions were the same as before. (for example 0% unemployment by killing everyone without a job)
  • September 4, 2012
    surgoshan
  • September 4, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
  • September 4, 2012
    KarjamP
    No New Stock Phrases for titles.

    It counts, as it's dialog-based.

    Therefore, tagged with "Better name".
  • September 5, 2012
    Arivne
    ^^^ @Karjam P:

    If the title were "What Have The Romans Done For Us", that would be a dialog title.

    However, it isn't. It's "What The Romans Have Done For Us", which does not sound like a line of dialog. Just being "dialog-based" is not enough. It must sound like something someone would say in a book, film, Real Life, etc.

    This is the third time you have falsely accused a trope title of sounding like a line of dialog, which indicates that you don't understand what the rule is about. Your actions are becoming disruptive. Please stop now.
  • September 5, 2012
    Lavalyte
  • September 5, 2012
    Shnakepup
    I like Made The Trains Run On Time as well, though it may run afoul of the "no dialog-like titles" rule. Ah well.
  • September 5, 2012
    HonestGent
    Very much reminds me of Strawman Has A Point. Not the same thing, but related. And I'd like to nominate the Monty Python quote for the page quote, if it can't be trope namer.
  • September 5, 2012
    KarjamP
    @Arvine

    Pardon my overzealousing.

    I'm sorry. :(

    Edit: wasn't it "Fast Eddie" who stated that "dialog-based titles won't launch"? :P
  • September 5, 2012
    randomling
  • September 5, 2012
    Bisected8
    Maybe it could be cut down to Trains Ran On Time, which would still make the reference clear without the risk of looking like dialogue.
  • September 5, 2012
    KarjamP
    Yup, I was overzelous about inforcing that policy.

    Feel free to point out any mistakes like this that I make in the future. :P

    I still think the title should be changed, though, not because of No New Stock Phrases, but because the current name's cumbersome.
  • September 5, 2012
    TompaDompa
    I agree that What The Empire Has Done For Us would be a better title; no familiarity with Life Of Brian is required.
  • September 5, 2012
    HonestGent
    If it wasn't clear before, I also like What The Romans Have Done For Us. Honestly, blanket rules like "NO DIALOGUE BASED TITLES PERIOD! " really annoy me, as they always end up encouraging people to judge without understanding. I get that things can be taken out of context, but spouting rules off as a gut reaction doesn't automatically put you in the right.

    Whew. Enough ranting. Back on topic. Trains Ran On Time is far less clear, in my opinion.
  • September 6, 2012
    Topazan
    I agree that What The Romans Have Done For Us is a little cumbersome, and it is a little confusing.

    What The Empire Has Done For Us is still cumbersome, a little less misleading, but while it doesn't require knowledge of Life Of Brian, it does require knowledge of The Empire.

    Trains Ran On Time isn't very clear.

    Grudging Respect For The Empire is very clear, but a little boring.

    That's my opinion on the titles. I suppose I'll go with the majority consensus at launch.

    @captainsandwich- Other than the fourth one, I'd say those count. The fourth only counts if he thinks the country is better off with all those people dead.
  • September 7, 2012
    Lavalyte
  • September 7, 2012
    TompaDompa
    Upside To The Empire would probably lead to people adding non-examples (actual upsides to the empire, but without any character pointing it out).

    It might look something like this:
    • In Lord Of The Rings, Sauron united the Orcs and protected them from the Elves and Men, who considered them fair game.
  • October 13, 2012
    foxley
    A sketch on Horrible Histories has the wife of a crusader saying "Aside from [reels off a list of everything brought back from the Crusades] what have the Crusades done for me?"
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