Created By: RawPower on December 13, 2010 Last Edited By: shiro_okami on December 18, 2010
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The Alexander

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The only person with whom I felt any kinship with died three hundred years before the birth of Christ. Alexander of Macedonia, or Alexander the Great, as you know him. His vision of a united world... well, it was unprecedented. I wanted... needed to match his accomplishments, and so I resolved to apply antiquity's teaching to our world, today. And so began my path to conquest. Conquest not of men, but of the evils that beset them.
-- Adrian Veidt, Watchmen

Youthful idealism can be a beautiful thing. There are few things audiences love more than the idea of a gifted teenager (or sometimes simply a young adult) who can see what's wrong with the world and, after initially feeling overwhelmed and powerless in the face of a Crapsack World, deciding that they need to do something about it.

In some cases, may obtain or be born with some special power to help them achieve their goal. Whether they do or not, the key difference between The Alexander and The Hero is that instead of fighting crime on a case by case basis or having to face an already existing Big Bad, they have a much bigger vision and will try to Take Over the World in a belief that Utopia Justifies the Means. However, if these ideas are already a quick way for adult characters to go merrily Jumping Off the Slippery Slope, being a young, frustrated rebel, complete with the standard emotional immaturity and sometimes flat-out childish fantasies you'd expect out of someone this age only makes things worse. Consequently, they often end up as a Well-Intentioned Extremist and end up on the Sliding Scale Of Anti Heroes, unless they are a(n) (Anti)Villain Protagonist.

In addition to differing from the typical hero in vision - or ends - they will also differ in the means used. In contrast to the Idiot Hero, The Alexander will have a strong dose of Intelligence Equals Isolation, which may cause them to be quite prideful. And instead of a typical hero who reacts to the nefarious plans of the Big Bad and fights with brawn, they use brains to come up with their own schemes, often being either The Chessmaster, Manipulative Bastard, Magnificent Bastard, Mary Tzu, or all of the above, capable of cooking up a Xanatos Gambit or Xanatos Roulette just as good as or possibly better than your standard Big Bad. As such, they are often subversions or inversions of The Law Of Bruce, which is one of the main reasons why these characters are so unique and intersting.

If they're targeted by bullies, expect them to later gloat Who's Laughing Now?, though when they realize the extent of the damage they've caused, they're especially prone to wondering My God, What Have I Done? and going through a Heroic B.S.O.D. and/or Heel Realization, assuming their ‹bermensch mentality cracks enough to let them see it. These characters often die young, seemingly "burned out" by their own genius, though an Alexander who lives to adulthood can either continue down their path to Anti-Villain status (or sometimes simply become The Big Bad, deluded by their own idealism), or they can become a mentor who issues Jacob Marley Warnings to other youngsters in their former position.

Named for Alexander the Great, who became a military commander at the age of 16, became king and began his conquest of the known world at the age of 20, and died emotionally and physically burned out at age 32 with his plans completely unfinished with no successor to leave them to.

Examples:
  • Death Note: all of the four main characters have the mental qualifications to be this, but only Light is idealistic enough to follow this route.
  • Code Geass: Lelouch vi Britannia. Probably the Most Triumphant Example.
  • Monster: a story where the main villain, Johan, has all the qualifications, but rather than changing the world, wants to destroy it, just because he can. Unlike For the Evulz types who want to watch the world burn, he doesn't seem to get much satisfaction out of the horrible things he does: he just wants to set it on fire. And is very good at it.
  • Ender's Game: gathers many of these tropes, but the protagonist wasn't so much a revolutionary as a Tykebomb, yes?
  • Legend of Galactic Heroes: Reinhard von Lohengramm is a textbook example. Luckily he has Kircheis to watch his back, both physically and morally.
  • Akumetsu. He acts like a goofy Idiot Hero, but he is actually very cunning and resourceful. He is also much more physical than other examples of this trope.
  • Naru Taru: there was a character like that.
  • The protagonist of Lost+Brain.
  • Dune: Kwisatz Haderachs Paul Atreides and God Emperor Leto Atreides. Probably Trope Codifier.
  • In Harry Potter, Voldemort, Dumbledore, and Grindewald are hinted to have been this, for a start.
  • Naruto has Pein/Nagato, who learned ninjutsu in his youth with his Nakama and afterwards started a group with them to create a better world and was given the Rinnegan. After being forced to kill his best friend, he commits bloody vengeance on his betrayers and plans to create a super-weapon that will scare the other villages into stopping all war.

Real Life:
Community Feedback Replies: 36
  • December 13, 2010
    Prophet
  • December 14, 2010
    randomsurfer
    The title character of the DC Comics series Prez: Prez Rickard, 18 year old President Of The United States.
  • December 14, 2010
    NativeJovian
    Needs A Better Description. Don't just list related tropes in bullet points -- that makes it look like an index. Work them into the description with potholes.

    That said, I'm not even really sure what this trope is supposed to be. Teen Genius + Well Intentioned Extremist?
  • December 14, 2010
    RawPower
    Kinda like that, but add good looks and tons and tons of charisma (and perhaps ham too). Charm Person is almost mandatory.

    ^^ Holy shit what? Is that even eligible?

    I know it Needs AB Etter Description, but I can't bring myself to make a coherent thing out of this mess. This is powerful stuff, it needs to be harnessed well.
  • December 14, 2010
    Koveras
    So this is basically Magnificent Bastard, only heroic, and the Guile Hero doesn't really cut it.
  • December 14, 2010
    randomsurfer
    ^^In Universe a constitutional amendment was passed lowering the eligibility age to 18. (Also worth pointing out that "Prez" is Prez's full legal name since birth; his mother knew he'd grow up to be President.)
  • December 14, 2010
    Scardoll
    I have no idea what this trope is about.

    The description seems to imply... Something, but I'm not quite sure what. Is it a young leader who sees injustice in the world and starts conquering territory to fix that injustice, at any cost?
  • December 14, 2010
    troacctid
    The Alexander doesn't work as a name. It fails the One Mario Limit. Hard.
  • December 14, 2010
    EternalSeptember
    ^ Dunno, The first Google result is The Great, the next three are about Alexander the film. Also, it's clearly him who spread the name in the western world.
  • December 14, 2010
    elwoz
    I, too, have absolutely no idea what trope you're trying to describe here, except that it appears to have something to do with teenaged, or at least youthful, heroism. And possibly leadership.
  • December 14, 2010
    RawPower
    Lemme see... Teenager with extreme intelligence, good looks, charisma, charm, and a talent for planning and manipulation, decides for whatever reason to use that power to gain influence and change the world, and, in the mean time, achieve glory or infamy or both. They often die young, and often their death is part of the plan all along.

    I am really having trouble making a description, perhaps it is better if you think of it as "noticed a lot of similarities and paralel themes between Leto Atreides, Reinhard von Lohengramm, Light Yagami, Johan Liebert and Lelouch Vi Britannia, seeing a pattern there, a trope, and trying to see how many characters approximate this idea without corrupting the trope by overgeneralization with Square Peg Round Trope, and also finding that a clear archetype for all those was Alexander The Great.

    I have two cases I am really not sure of: Monkey D Luffy, who has all the elements except he behaves like a complete moron a lot of the time and it's not clear how much is genuine stupdity, how much is Rule Of Funny, and how much is Obfuscating Stupidity.

    Captain Kirk in the STAR TREK 2009 movie, while already in his early twenties, fits the trope rather well.
  • December 14, 2010
    troacctid
    ^^^ I get "Alexander's Steakhouse" and "Alexander McQueen" before Alexander the Great, and Alexander Hamilton, Alexander Graham Bell, Alexander Wang, and a bunch of others right after him, but the point is it gets an F on the One Mario Limit test, which is a huge strike against any potential Trope Namer because it makes it impossible to reliably get any information about the trope from the title.
  • December 15, 2010
    NativeJovian
    So... Teen Conqueror? An Improbably Aged character who uses extreme natural talent (usually intelligence and charisma) to achieve Great Things (tm) in their youth. Usually burn out and/or die young, sometimes deliberately. Sort of a grown-up version of To Be A Master.

    That's tropeable, but dear god your description is a mess.
  • December 15, 2010
    aurora369
    Young Miles Vorkosigan in the early Vorkosigan Saga novels fits.
  • December 15, 2010
    RawPower
    ^^ Also, usually they do it because of their youth. As in, had they been adults faced with the same situation, they would probably have reacted differently and been less audacious and awesome about it. Apparently once you grow to become an adult you necessarily give up on changing the world. (Which I think is utter and absolute crap.
  • December 15, 2010
    TBeholder
    May i ask bluntly? What the bleep this is about? There's no description, let alone definition. Just a salad list of "vaguely strategical" tropes.
  • December 15, 2010
    jatay3
    Maybe this is a variation of Dark Messiah. Perhaps conqueror messiah?
  • December 15, 2010
    americanbadass
  • December 16, 2010
    RawPower
    ^^ But The Messiah need not be a child or a teenager... or do they? I mean, Kushana fits this trope much better than Nausicaa, yes?
  • December 16, 2010
    MeganPhntmGrl
    • Ozymandias in Watchmen is what happens when this trope grows up, and we're shown that he did begin as a teenager in direct emulation of Alexander.
  • December 16, 2010
    thewriter
    I'm still confused on what exactly this trope is about.
  • December 16, 2010
    Octagon8
    Sorry for editing - I just fixed a typo.
  • December 16, 2010
    MeganPhntmGrl
    Okay, here's a potential better write-up, if I'm getting this right:

    The only person with whom I felt any kinship with died three hundred years before the birth of Christ. Alexander of Macedonia, or Alexander the Great, as you know him. His vision of a united world... well, it was unprecedented. I wanted... needed to match his accomplishments, and so I resolved to apply antiquity's teaching to our world, today. And so began my path to conquest. Conquest not of men, but of the evils that beset them.
    -- Adrian Veidt, Watchmen

    Youthful idealism can be a beautiful thing. There are few things audiences love more than the idea of a gifted teenager (or sometimes simply a young adult) who can see what's wrong with the world and, after initially feeling overwhelmed and powerless in the face of a Crapsack World, deciding that they need to do something about it.

    However, some characters just go ahead and prove that if trying to Take Over The World out of a belief that Utopia Justifies The Means is already a quick way for adult characters to go merrily Jumping Off The Slippery Slope, being a young, frustrated rebel, complete with the standard emotional immaturity and sometimes flat-out childish fantasies you'd expect out of someone this age only makes things worse. Meet the Alexander, a troubled, gifted kid who just wants to change the world for the better, but is almost certainly poised to become a Well Intentioned Extremist.

    The Alexander will often have an unhappy home life and a strong dose of Intelligence Equals Isolation. If they're targeted by bullies, expect them to later gloat Who's Laughing Now?, though when they realize the extent of the damage they've caused, they're especially prone to wondering My God What Have I Done and going through a Heroic BSOD and/or Heel Realization, assuming their Ubermensch morality fails enough to let them see it. These characters often die young, seemingly "burned out" by their own genius (often as An Aesop against Mary Tzu types), though an Alexander who lives to adulthood can either continue down their path to Anti Villain status (or sometimes simply become The Big Bad, deluded by their own idealism), or they can become a mentor who issues Jacob Marley Warnings to other youngsters in their former position.

    Named for Alexander The Great, who began his conquest of the world as it was then known to his culture as a teenager and died emotionally and physically burned out at age 32 with his plans completely unfinished.
  • December 16, 2010
    MeganPhntmGrl
    I'd also argue that Johan Liebert is really more of a deconstruction of this- yes, he's young, manipulative and has a clear goal in mind, but he's not a frustrated young rebel. He was broken down and programmed into what he is today (and had become by age six or seven)- essentially, an adult-created Nietszche Wannabe who was discovered too late to have Gone Horribly Right.
  • December 16, 2010
    troacctid
    Still Needs A Better Title, and the description could benefit from tweaking, but it's certainly an improvement.

    I think Teen Conqueror is more descriptive, but you could try to go FORKS-ier with something like Wake Up Go To School Conquer The World or I don't know.
  • December 16, 2010
    MeganPhntmGrl
    I just mentioned this trope to a friend who suggested The Conquistador Kid, which has a nice alliterative tone to it and is A Good Name For A Rock Band.
  • December 16, 2010
    RawPower
    ^^ Very nice writeup, megan! And yes, Johan would be this trope, deconstructed. Although one could say this trope is already a deconstruction of The Messiah and A Child Shall Lead Them, there Aint No Rule saying a trope can't be deconstructed many times in succession and still come up with something new.
  • December 16, 2010
    MeganPhntmGrl
    If anything, you could say Johan is actually the product of a bunch of adult Alexanders thinking they want to build an ubermensch. OH GOD I CAN SEE FOREVER.
  • December 16, 2010
    jatay3
    The Real Life Alexander came from a world where the ethos for princes was to prove that one was a Badass was more important then With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility. He always seemed more like a Glory Seeker Beyond The Impossible to me then a Knight Templar.
  • December 16, 2010
    jatay3
    Megan Phntm Grl's writeup is a good one.

    Don't Alexander's often seem to have a similar biography? For instance they are exiled and become a Noble Fugitive, often Going Native with a Proud Warrior Race(that didn't happen to the Trope Namer by the way). Or the Evil Prince will see a dream that a newborn child would still his throne and try to have him killed, only a servant will hide him in a place from which he will come back for Revenge, because You Cant Fight Fight.
  • December 16, 2010
    shiro_okami
    Put in Megan's write-up and tweaked it a bit.
  • December 16, 2010
    MeganPhntmGrl
    @Jatay: Meh, it depends.

    @shiro_okami: Awww, I'm flattered. I think that even if it's renamed Teen Conquerer or similar, the Veidt quote kind of sums it up.
  • December 16, 2010
    Sackett
    Pare this down to the basic core instead of mixing in all the common justifications and collated tropes.

    Young Conqueror seems to be the core. At a young age this character decides to Take Over The World and is surprisingly successful.
  • December 16, 2010
    americanbadass
    It looks good for launch to me.
  • December 16, 2010
    Leaper
    Except the name, of course.

    That's certainly needed.
  • December 18, 2010
    GrandPrincePaulII
    How old is/was Griffith from Berserk? He could be a good example for the deconstuction of this trope.
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