How The Mighty Have Fallen


(permanent link) added: 2010-09-13 21:09:29 sponsor: Xelloss08 (last reply: 2010-11-30 14:22:59)

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I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own
-- Coldplay, Viva La Vida

This person once had it all. They were wealthy and powerful, sycophants hung on their every word, and it seemed like the world was their oyster. Then they fell, hard. Now their empire has crumbled, their money is gone, and they are scorned by the people who once admired them; there's nothing left for them to do but long for the Glory Days.

Other characters may shake their heads in pity and comment, "How the mighty have fallen."

Someone powerful and prideful who suffers a Humiliation Conga or Break the Haughty can have this fate waiting for them at the end. However, it can just easily happen offscreen, or to someone who wasn't excessively prideful.

Depending on how sympathetic the character is, this can be played for comedy, tragedy, or karmic justice.

Anime & Manga
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Viral at beginning of season 2, Simon at end.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Yoki, particularly in the manga and Brotherhood. He goes from leader of a prosperous mining town to Scar's sniveling lackey.
  • Slayers: NEXT has Martina, a princess whose kingdom is blown up by Lina, and who takes to following the heroine around seeking revenge.

Comic Books

Film

Literature
  • Trope Namer is The Bible; the phrase occurs in 2 Samuel 1:19, 1:25, and 1:27.
  • The same sentiment was earlier expressed in The Aeneid: "quantum mutatus ab illo / Hectore"
  • Snow Crash: Chuck Wrightson. Once the president of Kenai and Kodiak, now a homeless drunk.
  • A recurring theme in the Nightside books; John Taylor notes that even gods can end up living on the streets. Herne the Hunter is one of the biggest examples.
  • Ozymandias in Percy Shelley's famous poem:
    "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away
  • In Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips, the Greek Gods are holed up in a dilapidated house in contemporary London, much diminished in power because no-one believes in them anymore, what with "the upstart carpenter" and all.

Music
  • "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay tells the story of a man who overthrew a corrupt king and took his place. He had money, power, and an admiring kingdom, but he soon became corrupt just like the first king. Upon realizing how far he had fallen, he became disillusioned with his position of power and allowed himself to be removed from the throne and [assumedly] spent the rest of his days looking back on his reign and laments his fate.
  • The Depression-era number "Brother Can You Spare A Dime", famously performed by Bing Crosby.
  • The song "King of the World" from the musical Songs for a New World is about this -- the singer used to be very powerful and is now in prison.

Tabletop Games
  • In Magic: The Gathering, planeswalkers were massively depowered following "the Mending" of the Time Spiral block. Most of the post-Mending planeswalkers don't even know what they've lost; but Nicol Bolas, the oldest remaining planeswalker, remembers the power and longs to regain it.
    Nicol Bolas: We were gods, once.

Western Animation
  • The Simpsons:
    • Homer's long lost half-brother Herb, who was the wealthy head of a major auto corporation until he found out he was a Simpson.
    • Mr. Burns lost his fortune and the Power Plant and Lisa helped him get it back, much to her regret.
  • Valmont from Jackie Chan Adventures goes from a major villain in the first two seasons to a homeless petty criminal in the third.

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