Created By: VampireBuddha on May 31, 2010 Last Edited By: VampireBuddha on June 11, 2010
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Caligula's Horse

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One of the surest signs that the king, president, or CEO has gone completely off the deep end is when they appoint one of their pets to a senior position within the government or company.

Don't dare to question Incitatus - he outranks you! What's that, Mr. Incitatus? Why yes, the person who wrote the above paragraph is being disrespectful. Sir, I regret to inform you that the horse has decided you are to be executed for rudeness.

Doesn't apply if the animal is intelligent and capable of communication, and could reasonably handle the demands of the office.

Examples:

  • Trope Namer: Emperor Caligula famously made his favourite horse, Incitatus, a senator, though it's unclear whether this was true or just a rumour started by a detractor.
  • In Judge Dredd, Chief Judge Cal, who was based on Caligula, appointed his goldfish to the position of Deputy Chief Judge.
  • In The Simpsons, the nuclear plant is actually owned by a canary so that if the government ever conducts a proper investigation, the canary is the one that will go to jail. Mr. Burns implies that this is standard practise.
  • In Malcolm in the Middle, when the scandals at Hal's company finally come to light, one of the many revelations is that the company president had his dog on the board of directors.
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • May 31, 2010
    Medinoc
    I think someday I will parody this trope by a horse/motorcycle/jetbike someone's second-in-command... as an excuse to have a getaway vehicle handy.
  • May 31, 2010
    Ghilz
    • Mr Burns also appoints a dog as his second in command (after considering Frank Grimes for the job) to Smither's chagrin.
  • May 31, 2010
    BOFH
    • If this isn't restricted to living animals only, a past patrician of Ankh-Morpork appointed a pile of sand and a decapitated corpse to senior government positions.
  • May 31, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    • Lord Midnight in the backstory of the Vorkosigan Saga, a horse who gets appointed heir by a count as part of a feud between the count and his son.
      • "If a horse's ass can be Count, why not the whole horse?"
  • May 31, 2010
    Polar Bear
    The Aristocats: Adelaide Bonfamille decides to leave her entire fortune to her pet cats. This is actually an aversion as no one seems to think it's strange, except the butler. And he's supposed to be evil.
  • May 31, 2010
    johnnye
    Closely related to Pet Heir, the next branch down the Crazy Tree. Crazy Cat Lady is in there too.

    @Medinoc: I like it...
  • May 31, 2010
    foxley
    Discworld again. In Making Money, when Topsy Lavish dies, she leaves 50% of the shares in the bank to her dog, Mr Fusspot (who already owns 1% of the bank, giving him a majority and making him chairman). Of curse, she then left the dog to Moist von Lipwig forcing him to take control of the bank, which was her plan all along.
  • May 31, 2010
    shimaspawn
    @ foxley: That would be Pet Heir. Not this trope.
  • June 1, 2010
    johnnye
    I'd say it overlaps, since the dog gets a controlling share of the bank. The Aristocats example, though, is pure Pet Heir.
  • June 1, 2010
    shimaspawn
    Gah, that's what I meant. >_< Yeah, the Aristocats doesn't fit. The Discworld one does.
  • June 1, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    In Order Of The Stick, the ruler of Azure City apparently has a cat as his trusted advisor. I'm not sure whether that's an actual post or if he's just taking the cat's advice, though.
  • June 1, 2010
    Kinitawowi
    Real Life: after the death of Screaming Lord Sutch, the Official Monster Raving Loony Party held a leadership election; the result was a tie between Howling Laud Hope and his cat, Cat Mandu, who duly served as joint leader until he was hit by a car.

    Yes, really.
  • June 2, 2010
    Nndaia
    Order Of The Stick is a subversion: he talks to the cat specifically so that everybody will think he's razy. He doesn't expect it to give advice.
  • June 2, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    On 30 Rock, Don Geiss stacks the board of directors with "the most reliable collection of sychophantic yes-men this side of an Al Franken book signing: His golf cronies, his army buddies, a collection of unemployable family members and his hunting dogs." It's unclear how intelligent the dogs are, but they're apparently capable of staying seated at the table and voting in some fashion.
  • June 2, 2010
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    • Played For Laughs in Muppet Treasure Island when the Squire (Fozzie Bear) apparently believes that there there is is a sentient being living inside a pimple on his finger. After going through some background checks Captain Smalley (Kermit) asks "Who hired this crew!?!", the others point at Fozzie, who points to his finger.
    • Real Life, allegedly: Hitler is said to have issued orders to military units that never existed or had been destroyed or captured on several occasions.
  • June 10, 2010
    VampireBuddha
    If the name's OK with everybody, I'll launch this tomorrow.
  • June 10, 2010
    Chabal2
  • June 11, 2010
    VampireBuddha
    I haven't seen that movie. Explain please.
  • June 11, 2010
    Kinitawowi
    Doctor Evil's Right Hand Cat (i.e. irrelevant to this trope).
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