He owns the waterworks, the railroad and the hotel on Baltic Avenue. If you cross him he'll not only burn down your house, but throw your mother out of work and send your best friend to the morgue. Forget about going to the police because he owns them too
. You're only hope is to somehow recruit that stranger
with the mysterious past
, or, if you can find them, some mercenaries
for the chief antagonist in It's a Wonderful Life
, Old Man Potter is the capitalist successor to the previous class of landed gentry
that used to fill the same role. Naturally there are numerous examples
that helped inspired the trope and made such fingers highly salient to everyday people. Often portrayed as a Patriarch (or Matriarch)
of an extended family that can serve as their muscle, Old Man Potter often succeed in completely cowing the entire town into accepting their villainy, even in societies where one wouldn't expect it.
Old Man Potter is always a Big Fish in a Small Pond, content to dominate their little fiefdom without much greater ambition
. Often times they are able to get away with their crimes because nobody in the big city or state capitol notices what's going on out in the countryside. If a hero is unable to defeat Potter and his family by [[/Road House
kicking]], most times just getting word out
will be enough to summon The Cavalry
While once popular in all forms of media, Old Man Potter
is on his way to becoming a Discredited Trope
, at least in the developed world. corrupt executives
working for National, Multi-National or Megacorporations
have stepped in to take their place as the Real Life
local businesses that once influenced small town life have been bought up by larger and larger players
whose wealthy owners don't even bother to live near the communities they are destroying.
Modern implementation of Aristocrats Are Evil
. Compare with Corrupt Corporate Executive
- The A-Team seemed to go up against Old Man Potters in a majority of their episodes and might even serve as the modern day Trope Codifier.
- The Lincoln County War was a feud between Lawrence Murphy and his business partner James Dolan, who were trying to maintain a dry goods monopoly, and newcomers John Tunstall, his partner Alexander McSween and their ranch hand Billy the Kid.
- My Name Is Earl featured both Chubby and (after he died) his son Little Chubby owning damn near every store and operation in Camden County.
- In The Simpsons Mr. Burns is a caricature of this trope that can be Played Straight or Played for Laughs Depending on the Writer. It is implied many times that he is above the law and controls many aspects of the local economy including the ability to plunge the city into darkness, but at the same time is routinely called to account by various regulators and lacks the ability to effectively threaten people.
- Don Rosa's Scrooge McDuck is a an Lighter and Softer example with the whole of Duckburg being built around his financial empire. He nevertheless holds lease with the majority of the city, and holds sway with the local branch of the army, going as far as being able to order a missile strike to his doorstep. Played for Laughs, of course.