Created By: Xelloss08 on September 13, 2010 Last Edited By: Xelloss08 on November 30, 2010
Troped

How The Mighty Have Fallen

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
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.

Community Feedback Replies: 25
  • September 13, 2010
    FuryOfLeafiness
    Lucifer in The Bible once the most beautiful/powerful and important angel became the worst enemy of humans.

  • September 13, 2010
    FuryOfLeafiness
    The Titans of Greek Mythology might count - creators of the world, imprisoned forever.

    The Primordials of Exalted certainly do (for the same reasons as the Titans) along with nearly every Player Character ever. Nobody pities the PCs of course, but it's a long drop from a First Age emperor and Physical God to mere Bad Ass
  • September 14, 2010
    Sketchpad
    The song "Viva la Vida" by Coldplay, which provides the page quote, is more or less an embodiment of this trope as it 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.
  • September 14, 2010
    ElementX
    At the end of Cats Dont Dance, child actress Darla Dimple loses her career and becomes a janitor.

    In the case of villains this can be part of a Humiliation Conga.
  • September 14, 2010
    jatay
    Gibbon claimed that Belisarius would wander the streets of Constantinople begging,"Spare a penny for Belisarius." In reality he was just retired early, by Imperial orders, if I remember and lived rather comfortably. But the first story is more dramatic.
  • September 14, 2010
    Irrisia
    What, no Ozymandias yet?

    Ozymandias, by Percy Blysse Shelley:
    "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

    And a poem that might have been written as competition, by Horace Smith:
    "I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone,
    "The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
    "The wonders of my hand." The City's gone
  • September 14, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Trope Namer is arguably "quantum mutatus ab illo / Hectore", from The Aeneid, which expresses the same sentiment.
  • September 14, 2010
    Tannhaeuser
    Much as one loves Vergil, the example from Samuel is certainly the Trope Namer, although the most familiar translation, the Authorized King James version, phrases it, "How are the mighty fallen!"
  • September 14, 2010
    ParadiscaCorbasi
  • September 14, 2010
    Sweet Madness
    See also Glory Days, which usually involves a character like this reflecting on the good times at the height of his or her power.
  • September 15, 2010
    Brick3621
    There's been a couple of episodes of The Simpsons in which Mr. Burns loses his fortune. In one the plant is closed down, and in another he is sent to jail for art theft. There was even a Coca Cola ad with that premise. (And let's not forget the ending credits of The Simpsons Movie.)
  • September 15, 2010
    DougS.Machina
    Marie Phillips's book Gods Behaving Badly, where 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.
  • September 23, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Pu Yi, the last descendant of the Qing Dynasty, which had ruled China for four hundred years. His life was an unending Humiliation Conga, including being the puppet emperor of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo (Manchuria). Captured by the Soviets at the war's end, he was given to the new rulers of China, Mao Zedong's communists. He was put to work tending the Beijing Ornamental Gardens, in a deliberately ironic symbol of reversal of fortunes. He ended his days as an editor for the Chinese literary department.
  • September 23, 2010
    randomsurfer
    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.
  • September 24, 2010
    Evalana
    Related to Break The Haughty
  • September 24, 2010
    TrustBen
    Another music example is the depression number "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?", famously performed by Bing Crosby.
  • November 11, 2010
    Xelloss08
    If there are no further comments or objections, I plan to launch this soon and let Wiki Magic handle the rest.
  • November 11, 2010
    DAN004
    Is this really an example?

    In Mega Man ZX, after you defeat Protectos, freeing Model P in the process, it says:
    Oh how the mighty have fallen. Strong armor is nothing compared to the power of will.
  • November 13, 2010
    Darthcaliber
    Valmont from Jackie Chan Adventures. For the first two seasons he was a major villain by the third season he was homeless and performing petty crimes
  • November 13, 2010
    thezeus18
    The subject of Bob Dylan's song "Like a Rolling Stone".
  • November 14, 2010
    EponymousKid
    In Common Grounds, the once-prominent superhero Blackwatch is now a slovenly homeless man after serving a long prison term for accidentally killing newbie hero Snowflame in one of those superhero fights. His old archenemy Captain Power insits he stay at his place and helps him get his act together, though.
  • November 15, 2010
    bluepenguin
    The song "King of the World" from the musical Songs for a New World is about this -- it's not really clear what the singer's former position was, but he used to be very powerful and is now in prison.
  • November 15, 2010
    Xtifr
    There might almost be enough examples with gods to make that a separate subtrope. Here's more from Literature:

    • A recurring theme in early Tom Holt novels is retired and useless gods, most notably in Odds and Gods, where most of the gods actually live together in a retirement home.
    • In Godshome by Robert Sheckley, as with the previous, the gods have moved to a retirement home.
    • In Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd And The Gray Mouser series, the Gods Need Prayer Badly, and their temples move up and down the Street of the Gods in Lankhmar as their strength and following grows and wanes. One story features a fight between two formerly-powerful pantheons to cling onto the last and least spot on the Street.
    • The Garrett PI series features an almost identical setup and battle for the last spot on the Street of the Gods.
    • In Discworld, the Gods Need Prayer Badly, and Small Gods features a god with a whole nation that claims to worship him, but only only one person who actually still does.
  • November 15, 2010
    Brick3621
    • Happens many times in the Pokemon games:
      • Blue, the Champion of the Pokemon League in R/B/Y and FR/LG. In theory, this trope could apply to every Champion you beat, but Blue seems to be the only one who feels utterly crushed. That bastard did have it coming, though.
      • Subverted with Giovanni. He voluntarily disbanded Team Rocket for good.
        • Or so we thought.
      • Cyrus: He built himself an army of radicals, did excruciating research on the myths of Sinnoh, and according to some official sources, got his emotions taken away by Mesprit, and for what? To get owned in all three battles against Lucas/Dawn, lose out on controlling two immensely powerful Pokemon, piss off Giratina, and apparently get trapped in the Distortion World. One could almost envy his lack of feeling emotions in that scenario. (By the way, this information is all from Pokemon Platinum canon.)
  • November 30, 2010
    Goldfritha

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=l3c0445ea2bv0txcxerzk3tw