A common assumption in human societies is that with age comes a certain wisdom coming from experience and perspective. It therefore makes sense to put a group of trustworthy older or at least experienced individuals in charge of things, as such a multiple font of wisdom will obviously make the enlightened decisions that benefit their nation/people/organisation/society the most, won't they?
Well, not always. Sometimes some of these groups' decisions make a very good argument in favor of lowering their mandatory retirement age.
The Council Of Unwise Men
(and on occasion, women as well) is a group, usually but not always made up wholly or mostly of elder individuals, whose rulership is revealed at some point to be definitely not in the best interests of the common good. The Reveal
can be rather disturbing for many groups who place a strong emphasis on filial piety and respect for legitimate authority. Whether simply incompetent, obstructive
, or even outright evil, you can expect them to make themselves a nuisance for the heroes, if not The Man Behind the Man
or even the Big Bad
right from the start.
See also Evil Old Folks
, Omniscient Council of Vagueness
. While most of these usually get along as a group, those more incompetent than evil will often devolve into a Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering
- SEELE may be the best-known anime example.
- Dino Breaker (DICE in the north american dub) has as the surprise Big Bad the DICE Body of Elders, who implanted wormhole detectors in their unknowing operatives' mecha, kidnapped their own subordinate executives, and even staged a devastating Civil War among their own (ostensibly good) organization, all to find and get their hands (so to speak) on the Heron's Gate, in the hopes that traversing it would make them immortal. They ended up Hoist By Their Own Petard when they tried to cross it right after the good guys "closed" it. Even though they knew this had a better than 99% chance of destroying them, they were just that desperate.
- In the first Appleseed CGI movie, it turns out that the Elders ruling Olympus had planned to sterilize all of humanity, condemning it to gradual extinction, so as to make place for bioroids to replace them, as they felt humans had proved they were unworthy due to their wars, pollution, greed and bigotry; even the genocidally anti-bioroid faction was actually an Unwitting Pawn of their plan. Fortunately, some people of both species decided that there was a better way and shut down both groups' plans.
- The TSAB High Council in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS are so old they had to surgically remove their brains and place them on life support after their bodies died. Yet they make some incredibly stupid decisions which set up many of the series' conflicts.
- The Gorosei (Five Stars of Wisdom) in the One Piece world. They will stop at absolutely nothing to preserve the Status Quo under the horribly corrupt World Government, even though its policies are probably the greatest contributors to the Crapsaccharine World current state of affairs.
- The Jedi Council in the Star Wars prequels for the most part played right into Darth Sidious's plans; supplementary materials explained that over a thousand years of relative peace, the Order had become more or less calcified in their ways, losing a lot of doctrinal and operational flexibility, making them prime candidates for manipulation when thrust in an unfamiliar situation (such as a large-scale war; although things had deteriorated to the point that even smaller-scale crisis management was less than satisfying in the decades preceding the Clone Wars). The Galactic Senate, if anything, was even worse, compounding the above problems with intense factionalism and rampant corruption. The last time its bickering groups managed to agree on something was the election of Palpatine as Chancellor... And we all know how THAT went...
- The Ephors in 300 are the shriveled, corrupt, manipulative, and risk-averse masters of a proud warrior culture. As priests charged with interpreting the "visions" of their personal Waif Prophet (who it's all but spelled out is sexually abused by them), their words supposedly carry the edicts of the gods, and they use this clout to forbid the Spartans from intervening at the most critical time to stop the persian conquest of Greece. They turn out to have been bought by the Persians with gold and the promise of more young girls to molest.
- An all-robot planet had an incompetent council of robot elders in Futurama. How incompetent? On a planet whose citizenry was mostly made up of what is basically sentient industrial machinery, they had a critical shortage of basic necessities like lugnuts. They created anti-human propaganda to cover it up.
- The Simpsons: In "They Saved Lisa's Brain" the members of the local Mensa branch put themselves in charge after the Mayor flees the city. They think that they're the wisest and therefore the best rulers, but they aren't. It took the intervention of Stephen Hawking himself to (somewhat) clear up the mess.