Created By: WaxingName on July 3, 2012 Last Edited By: WaxingName on September 8, 2012
Troped

Leader Wannabe

Wants to be The Leader

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Page Type:
Trope
Mal: You wanna run this ship?
Jayne: Yes.
Mal: Well, you can't.

Who doesn't want to be The Leader? Your team listens to you and respects you, you're the one to come up with the team's attack plan, and when the team gets publicly recognized, you get most or all of the credit for saving the day because you're the "face" of the team. Because of these perks, many people desperately want to be The Leader of their team.

Those aren't, however, the only reasons a character wants to be The Leader. There are times when a character resents the actual leader of the group, either due to an ego issue or due to justified resentment of The Leader's methods. The Lancer is likely to be a Leader Wannabe, because of his position on the team. Other times the Lancer doesn't especially want to lead but the Leader assumes he does, causing the Leader to watch his back unnecessarily.

This trope often manifests as the character declaring himself the leader of whatever group he wants to lead, but no one acknowledges him, often because he either annoying, does nothing to contribute, or a combination of the two. They will often be a Miles Gloriosus.

Compare Unfit for Greatness, contrast Reluctant Ruler.

Super Trope to The Starscream. Sister Trope to The Team Wannabe.

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Jason, the Lancer to Mark in Battle of the Planets, is more than a little annoyed that Mark is the leader instead of him.

Comics

Film
  • Serenity. Jayne tries this at one point when he's disgusted with Mal's leadership.
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. When Butch and the Kid return to the Hole in the Wall Gang they find that Harvey wants to take over from Butch. Harvey challenges Butch to a fight, but Butch takes him out with a surprise Groin Attack.

Literature
  • From The Taggerung, Gruven Zann wants to hold that title, and even claims to do so by boasting that he killed the previous Taggerung.
  • In Warrior Cats, many young cats claim they want to be leader someday, though most of them are just happy to be warriors when they become older. The most notable example of a cat wishing to become leader is the series' Big Bad: he attempts to secretly kill the Clan leader in order to become leader himself - as second-in-command, he gets the position if she dies.

Live Action TV
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: After Harmony & Spike break up, Harm decides to become the leader of a vampire den of her own. Upon hearing about this:
    Buffy: Harmony has minions?
  • Sky from Power Rangers S.P.D.. He finally achieves this in the finale.
  • In Justified Devil is The Dragon to Boyd Crowder. Ehen Boyd goes to prison for assaulting a US Marshall, Devil decides that it is his time to be in charge of the gang. However, Boyd does not plan to be in prison for long and left precise instructions about what is to be done in his absence. Boyd's girlfriend Ava tries to remind Devil of this but Devil refuses to take orders from a woman even if she is speaking for Boyd. Ava refuses to be disrespected and corrects Devil's attitude by hitting him in the face with a frying pan. When Boyd gets out and takes back control of the gang Devil becomes The Starscream and tries to take over by killing Boyd.
  • In an episode of Leverage Hardison decides that he would like to in charge of a con for once. He threatens to go on strike if he is not given a chance so the group makes him temporary leader. He approaches the con as if he was designing a video game and has great initial success but ultimately he overcomplicates things and it almost blows up in his face.
  • On M*A*S*H, Frank Burns often would covet being the CO, and would thus relish the times when (as 2nd in command) he would be temporarily put into command (his underlings, not so much).

Video Games
  • In Sonic Rush Adventure, Marine thinks of herself as being the leader of the heroes, but everyone else thinks of her as being The Load.
  • Junpei from Persona 3 is jealous of the main character after he becomes the leader of the group because he's the only one who can actually summon his persona at the time.
  • Lily in The Walking Dead attempts to lead the group, but most of the survivors, except her father Larry, listen to Kenny instead when it comes to important issues or life-threatening situations.
  • Sten sort of drifts into this in Dragon Age when (or is it if? not sure if it is dependent on player choice) when he confronts the player character before going into the cultist village and claims he is taking control of the party.

Western Animation
  • Numbuh Four of Codename: Kids Next Door wants to be the leader of Sector V, as such, he often wants to pounce onto being The Leader when Numbuh One is absent or busy.
  • Jafar in Aladdin.
    • The TV series had Abis Mal, who often plots to become sultan - apparently just to wear the Sultan's Cool Hat.
Community Feedback Replies: 33
  • July 3, 2012
    kjnoren
    See The Neidermeyer, though this title is IMO far better.
  • July 3, 2012
    WaxingName
    ^Don't see how The Neidermeyer is like this YKTTW, because The Neidermeyer is already a leader, just not a good one.
  • July 3, 2012
    Poprocks311
    Junpei from Persona 3 is jealous of the main character after he becomes the leader of the group because he's the only one who can actually summon his persona at the time.
  • July 3, 2012
    acrobox
    ^^ Maybe throw in that some stories construct an Aesop with the Leader Wannabe becoming The Neidermeyer because they want the glory of leadership but dont understand or want the work that comes with it and eventually give up their leadership role willingly or are forced out of it.
  • July 3, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Buffy The Vampire Slayer: After Harmony & Spike break up, Harm decides to become the leader of a vampire den of her own. Upon hearing about this:
    Buffy: Harmony has minions?
  • July 3, 2012
    Chabal2
  • July 4, 2012
    Koveras
  • July 4, 2012
    Arivne
    Film
    • Serenity. Jayne tries this at one point when he's disgusted with Mal's leadership.
    Mal: You wanna run this ship?
    Jayne: Yes.
    Mal: Well, you can't.
    Jayne: Do a damn sight better job than you. Getting us lashed over a couple of strays.
  • July 4, 2012
    MrInitialMan
    Literature: From The Taggerung, Gruven Zann wants to hold that title, and even claims to do so by boasting that he killed the previous Taggerung.
  • July 4, 2012
    Dawnwing
    Literature:
    • In Warrior Cats, many young cats claim they want to be leader someday, though most of them are just happy to be warriors when they become older. The most notable example of a cat wishing to become leader is the series' Big Bad: he attempts to secretly kill the Clan leader in order to become leader himself - as second-in-command, he gets the position if she dies.
  • July 9, 2012
    triassicranger
  • July 18, 2012
    Damr1990
    may also be a Miles Gloriosus
  • July 18, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
  • August 4, 2012
    Darthcaliber
    Starscream

  • August 4, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ^ The Starscream is related, if the "leader" is the Big Bad and the "wannabe" is his Dragon.

    As titles go, I think "Wannabe Leader" rolls off the tongue much better.
  • August 6, 2012
    PoplarLeaves
    Why isn't this a trope already? Seen it a million times.
  • August 6, 2012
    WaxingName
    ^You can help it along by giving it a hat.
  • August 7, 2012
    Jomamma
    The "Leader Wannabe's"' motives need to be better defined in order for this to be a decent trope, otherwise, it's too vague an idea. Find it a way to differentiate it from tropes of similar topic, such as The Starscream or Dragon Ascendent. Also, group seems unexplicit as well, is the group a Five-Man Band or a nation?
  • August 7, 2012
    TheWanderer
    It might be good to mention the trope of The Resenter as well, since that may be part of what's driving this character, or they may become The Resenter if they take not being the leader or being a No Respect Guy really badly.
  • August 8, 2012
    WaxingName
    ^^ "Group" can mean any group, from a Five Man Band, to an entire army to a nation. Also, do you have any suggestions for motives for the Leader Wannabe? The first paragraph already lists several motives for someone to become the leader.
  • August 9, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Still suggesting the title be flipped as Wannabe Leader. Reply?
  • August 9, 2012
    nielas
    • In Justified Devil is The Dragon to Boyd Crowder. Ehen Boyd goes to prison for assaulting a US Marshall, Devil decides that it is his time to be in charge of the gang. However, Boyd does not plan to be in prison for long and left precise instructions about what is to be done in his absence. Boyd's girlfriend Ava tries to remind Devil of this but Devil refuses to take orders from a woman even if she is speaking for Boyd. Ava refuses to be disrespected and corrects Devil's attitude by hitting him in the face with a frying pan. When Boyd gets out and takes back control of the gang Devil becomes The Starscream and tries to take over by killing Boyd.
  • August 10, 2012
    Arivne
    Film
    • Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. When Butch and the Kid return to the Hole in the Wall Gang they find that Harvey wants to take over from Butch. Harvey challenges Butch to a fight, but Butch takes him out with a surprise Groin Attack.
  • August 10, 2012
    WaxingName
    @Stratadrake: I think Leader Wannabe still makes more sense than Wannabe Leader, especially because of the trope The Team Wannabe.
  • August 14, 2012
    nielas
    • In an episode of Leverage Hardison decides that he would like to in charge of a con for once. He threatens to go on strike if he is not given a chance so the group makes him temporary leader. He approaches the con as if he was designing a video game and has great initial success but ultimately he overcomplicates things and it almost blows up in his face.
  • August 14, 2012
    ForgottenJedi
    Video Games

    • Lily in The Walking Dead attempts to lead the group, but most of the survivors, except her father Larry, listen to Kenny instead when it comes to important issues or life-threatening situations.
  • August 14, 2012
    ScanVisor
    [[AC/ Anime]]

  • August 14, 2012
    Unknown Troper
    ^ ...and is there anyone in that work that wants to be the hero or leader in America's place? CONFUSED, LOL. :DDDD :DDDD :P
  • August 16, 2012
    randomsurfer
    The Lancer sometimes wants to be The Leader.
    • Jason, the Lancer to Mark in Battle Of The Planets, is more than a little annoyed that Mark is the leader instead of him.

    Other times the Lancer doesn't especially want lead, to but the Leader assumes he does, causing the Leader to watch his back unneccesarily.
  • August 29, 2012
    JohnDiFool
    Live Action TV: On MASH, Frank Burns often would covet being the CO, and would thus relish the times when (as 2nd in command) he would be temporarily put into command (his underlings, not so much).
  • September 3, 2012
    AP
    The Serenity quote should be the page quote.
  • September 3, 2012
    TonyG
    • Jafar in Aladdin.
      • The TV series had Abis Mal, who often plots to become sultan - apparently just to wear the Sultan's Cool Hat.
  • September 7, 2012
    sonofprussia
    Sten sort of drifts into this in Dragon Age when (or is it if? not sure if it is dependent on player choice) when he confronts the player character before going into the cultist village and claims he is taking control of the party.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=rjkrizefmwzhpqedb9gw59b8&trope=LeaderWannabe