Created By: aurora369 on June 19, 2012 Last Edited By: aurora369 on June 25, 2012

Immortal Ruler

When your country hadn't got a change of leadership for seven hundred years

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Trope
I think I've Seen It a Million Times, but can only recall a few specific examples.

Power is sweet, but that pesky "mortality" thing makes it so transient. What if you can get rid of it? After all, if you rule a country, you've got all of its resources at your fingertips to sponsor a research into an immortality serum!

Nowadays it's considered not kosher for political leaders to have too long terms, even if they are completely humanly possible, so this character can easily be presented as an amoral tyrant. But in settings with no democrats around, they can be alternatively presented as a good, responsible ruler who wants to preserve an age of prosperity in their country. Of course, if the immortal ruler is undead or employs some kind of blatant Immortality Immorality, all arguments are moot: this is, most definitely, a villain, quite possibly a Big Bad.

Note that this is different from a Society of Immortals which logically has to have an immortal leader, too. The ruler has to have mortal subjects to qualify as this trope. A subtrope is God Emperor, when the ruler has some more extraordinary perks along with immortality (if they aren't simply delusional, of course).


Examples:
  • His Divine Shadow from Lexx, who resorted to the body-surfing kind of immortality.
  • Transhuman Space gives us the Kazakhstani dictator Zarubayev, who hogs all transhumanist tech available in his country to cling to life indefinitely.
  • The Civilization series of games is this trope meeting Gameplay and Story Segregation: in terms of gameplay, every civilization is stuck with one leader for the entirety of human history.
  • The Tribunal from Morrowind are of the morally ambiguous variety; it's true that one of them went totally bananas and became a Big Bad of TES 3: Tribunal, but they also did a lot of good to the Dunmer race.
  • Also from this 'verse, many Telvanni magelords use necromancy to cling to life much longer than Muggle elves can. One of them, Divayth Fyr, is of the same age as the Tribunal (and he's a nice guy running a hospice).
  • The Nazgul from Lord of the Rings started as this, until they got completely degenerated into evil servitor spirits with little personality of their own.
  • The Undying Court from Eberron are undead elves who are the de-facto rulers of the Elves of Aerenal. Also King Kaius of Karnath is over 125 years old due to his being a Vampire, but his subjects don't know it due him pulling a My Grandson Myself. His rule was not continuous either.
  • In many Dungeons & Dragons settings, Githyankies are ruled over by a Queen who is a Lich, named Vlaakith. There's been multiple Vlaakith, many of them Liches who ruled for centuries before being replaced by another who takes the same name (Though some settings and books imply there's ever just been the one). The current is Vlaakith CLVII, who never had an offspring before dying and becoming a Lich, as such she has ruled for over a thousand years (Her mom ruled as a Lich for 600 before being destroyed).
  • In Mistborn, the Lord Ruler has been in charge for a thousand years. The results have not been pretty.
  • Golden Sun: Babi has been ruling the city of Tolbi for far longer than any human could thanks to a magical life-extending draught he stole from Lemuria. He tasks the heroesof the first game to get him some more. In the second game, we're brutally informed that he's dead, and the whole matter is dropped.
  • A smaller scale example from Discworld: Mr. Slant (a zombie) and an unnamed vampire are the heads of a law firm, and intend to do so for quite some time (a clerk there remarks that dead men's shoes are currently filled by dead men).
  • In the Iron Druid Chronicles the immortal druid Atticus played this role for a few centuries. Fleeing Europe, he joined an African tribe and after a while became its leader. He married and shared his rejuvenation potion with his wife and children. The tribe prospered and his immortal family became the ruling elite of the nation that formed. However, after his wife was killed, he became disillusioned by how decadent and immoral his children became as a result of their immortality and left them and the country to fend for themselves.
  • Grand Maester Mika from Final Fantasy X has been the leader of the Church of Yevon and the de facto ruler of Spira for a very long time. It is revealed that he is in fact an unsent, a deceased ghost who remains tied to the mortal world.
  • Obligatory My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic example: Princess Celestia is immortal and has ruled over Equestria for at least 1,000 years, if not much longer.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Mayor of Sunnydale has been mayor for over 100 years. He founded the town over the Hellmouth so he could ascend into demonhood, coincidentally on Buffy's graduation day.
  • In the Doctor Who serial "State of Decay" the Three Who Rule are the captain and his Executive Officers from a ship that crash landed on the planet long ago. The peasants have gone through many generations but the Three are still the same people, because they're vampires.
  • Emperor Scientist Solomon Petresun in the Starsiege series lived and ruled Earth for at least several centuries via technological immortality he invented.
  • Needs More Examples!
Community Feedback Replies: 31
  • June 19, 2012
    nitrokitty
    God Emperor may cover this already.
  • June 19, 2012
    aurora369
    God Emperor is maybe a subtrope, maybe a sister trope, in fact. It isn't about immortality, it is about worship. And it totally allows delusional tinpot tyrants who will totally die if you stick around long enough (or stick something long and sharp enough in them). If they aren't delusional, they fit into this trope as a subtrope, but not all immortal rulers are or claim to be divine.
  • June 19, 2012
    Antigone3
    Does this have to be a fully immortal ruler? I ask because I've been rereading the Mage Storms trilogy, and the Emperors of the Eastern Empire have extremely long lifespans thanks to being mages -- I think Charliss is a couple hundred years old at the start of the trilogy.
  • June 19, 2012
    aurora369
    If it's a thing also possessed naturally by non-rulers, like regular mages, it doesn't qualify. If they would use magic to actively increase their lifespans even more, aand mooore, aaaaaaand mooooooooore, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad nauseaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaam... it would qualify. The character can be either immortal or actively working their way towards this goal if it's possible.
  • June 19, 2012
    Ghilz
    • In Eberron, The Undying Court are undead elves who are the de-facto rulers of the Elves of Aerenal. Also King Kaius of Karnath is over 125 years old due to his being a Vampire, but his subjects don't know it due him pulling a My Grandson Myself. His rule was not continuous either.
    • In many Dungeons And Dragons settings, Githyankies are ruled over by a Queen who is a Lich, named Vlaakith. There's been multiple Vlaakith, many of them Liches who ruled for centuries before being replaced by another who takes the same name (Though some settings and books imply there's ever just been the one). The current is Vlaakith CLVII, who never had an offspring before dying and becoming a Lich, as such she has ruled for over a thousand years (Her mom ruled as a Lich for 600 before being destroyed).
  • June 19, 2012
    Generality

  • June 19, 2012
    Chabal2
    • Golden Sun: Babi has been ruling the city of Tolbi for far longer than any human could thanks to a magical life-extending draught he stole from Lemuria. He tasks the heroesof the first game to get him some more. In the second game, we're brutally informed that he's dead, and the whole matter is dropped.
    • A smaller scale example from Discworld: Mr. Slant (a zombie) and an unnamed vampire are the heads of a law firm, and intend to do so for quite some time (a clerk there remarks that dead men's shoes are currently filled by dead men).
  • June 19, 2012
    nielas
    • In the Iron Druid Chronicles the immortal druid Atticus played this role for a few centuries. Fleeing Europe, he joined an African tribe and after a while became its leader. He married and shared his rejuvenation potion with his wife and children. The tribe prospered and his immortal family became the ruling elite of the nation that formed. However, after his wife was killed, he became disillusioned by how decadent and immoral his children became as a result of their immortality and left them and the country to fend for themselves.
  • June 19, 2012
    Mauri
    Mmm Albia from Girl Genius is referred at this but it is still as a Wild Mass Guessing on the fandom and some Word of God is needed to clarify.
  • June 19, 2012
    animeg3282
    This is an Acceptable Break From Reality in video games. Like in Civilization Gandhi can rule India from 4000 BC to 2050 AD
  • June 19, 2012
    DarkConfidant
    Grand Maester Mika from Final Fantasy X has been the leader of the Church of Yevon and the de facto ruler of Spira for a very long time. It is revealed that he is in fact an unsent, a deceased ghost who remains tied to the mortal world.
  • June 19, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Not sure if these count - these rulers are from long lived races, but they are old even by the standards of long - lived races.

    Anime and Manga:
    • In Trinity Blood, Augusta Vladica has ruled the New Human Empire for most of her 900 years. The vampire nobles regard her as being almost godlike.
    • In Macross / Robotech, Dolza (or Bodolza) has been supreme commander of the Zentraedi fleet for a very long time. His age is variously stated as over 400 or over 500,000(!) The Zentraedi are immortal but because they are constantly at war their life expectancy is normally shorter than humans'.

    Webcomics:
    • In Drowtales, Diva'ratrika Val'Sharen ruled Chel'el'sussoloth for over 1000 years. Word Of God states that the average life expectancy for drow is about 200 in the DT 'verse, though nobles live longer.

    Web Original
    • The Archai of Orions Arm are essentially immortal. Most of the top Archai are over 2000 years old, and the oldest are over 10,000 years old. The life expectancy of a modosophont (the bulk of their subjects) in the 'verse is about 400 - 1000 years.
  • June 19, 2012
    Surenity
    Obligatory My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic example: Princess Celestia is immortal and has ruled over Equestria for at least 1,000 years, if not much longer.
  • June 19, 2012
    Ghilz
    More Dungeons And Dragons: All the Demon Princes and Archdukes of Hell follow this trope. Though there's more fluidity than one thinks, as it's not unheard of for one to be killed or deposed. In Hell, as of 3rd editions and later ones, Asmodeus, Belial, Dispater and Mephistopheles have all been archdukes of their respective layers of hell since hell has existed (And in Asmodeus' case, King of Hell). In earlier editions, it was inferred that there were predecessors to Asmodeus, though the later editions make him the original ruler and the other three some of his original followers.

    Most of the Darklords of Ravenloft have been in power from a long long time, partially due to being cursed with some unending tormented existence by the Dark Powers, as well as, in many cases, being undead.
  • June 19, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The Mayor of Sunnydale has been mayor for over 100 years. He founded the town over the Hellmouth so he could ascend into demonhood, coincidentally on Buffy's graduation day.
    • In the Doctor Who serial "State of Decay" the Three Who Rule are the captain and his Executive Officers from a ship that crash landed on the planet long ago. The peasants have gone through many generations but the Three are still the same people, because they're vampires.
  • June 20, 2012
    aurora369
    ^^Demons don't count, they are supposed to be immortal by default.
  • June 20, 2012
    Koveras
    • Emperor Scientist Solomon Petresun in the Starsiege series lived and ruled Earth for at least several centuries via technological immortality he invented.
  • June 20, 2012
    Mauri
    You should start putting the new examples via using the edit button aurora. Otherwise the work will start piling up.
  • June 20, 2012
    Mozgwsloiku
    Defied in Warhammer, where the vampire Tzarina was finally staked by by some impatient relatives.
  • June 20, 2012
    aurora369
    Okay, I'll start right now.
  • June 20, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    Also from Doctor Who, in The Keeper of Traken the titular Keeper's lifespan is extended to nearly a thousand years by the Source.

  • June 20, 2012
    Xtifr
    Don't forget to sort the examples by medium. Also, I think God Emperor is a related trope, not a subtrope.

    • In Patricia A Mc Killip's The Riddlemaster Of Hed trilogy, Har, the "wolf-king", land ruler of Osterland, is a powerful and unaging mage who loves the wild regions and creatures of his land almost as much as its people. In addition, the High One, from whom all the land rulers draw their powers (literally), is older still than even Har, though he's not much into direct ruling.
  • June 20, 2012
    Rognik
    Warhammer 40K has the human emperor, who is kept on the throne and alive by religious fanatics. Subverted in that the emperor himself wants to die, but can't.
  • June 20, 2012
    zarpaulus
    • In Eclipse Phase the Martian city of Elysium is a constitutional monarchy ruled by Zevi Oaxaca-Maartens. In a setting where almost everyone is immortal (or at least very difficult to kill permanently).
  • June 20, 2012
    ProfessorThascales
    In Frank Herbert's God Emperor of Dune, Leto II is both a God Emperor (of course) and this--he lives for three and a half thousand years, while his subjects have lifespans of just a few times a real-life human (if they use the life-extending drug melange).
  • June 21, 2012
    nitrokitty
    • In The Twelve Kingdoms, rulers are chosen by the heavens and granted immortality when they ascend to the throne. However, the immortality is conditional on doing a good job.
  • June 21, 2012
    LordGro
    Literature
    • According to Heimskringla, King Auni a.k.a. Ani of Sweden turned to sacrificing his sons to Odin to prolong his life. At age two-hundred, his subjects stopped him from sacrificing his tenth and last son, causing his death.
    • King Gorice of Witchland in E. R. Eddison's The Worm Ouroboros, for unknown reasons, reincarnates upon death. In this way, he has ruled Witchland for at least three-hundred years in twelve incarnations.
  • June 22, 2012
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Divine Right board game. The Immortal Lord ruled the city of Khuzdul for 474 years before being overthrown.
  • June 22, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    According to the Sumerian King List, the antediluvian god-kings supposedly reigned for tens of thousands of years.
  • June 25, 2012
    zennyrpg
  • June 25, 2012
    Dawnwing
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