Created By: Ardiente on June 10, 2011 Last Edited By: Ardiente on June 26, 2011

Caligula Backstabbed

The Caligula goes too crazy, and the people he trusted turn against him

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The Caligula has gone too far. Whatever mystique his position gave him, whatever charisma he had, whatever fear he inspired by his randomness, he turns out to be among those who never listened to the second part of Machiavelli's infamous advice ("It is better to be loved, but it is safer to be feared. But, above all, avoid being hated[[hottip:*:paraphrased]]"). Someone (usually from the Preatorian Guard or someone equally trusted) does the unthinkable, what no-one else dared to do, and stabs The Caligula (a Back Stab is especially dramatic). May or may not be followed by everyone in the room who has a weapon joining in to make sure the monster dies. If the assasin is just one person, there's a chance for them to be forever called The Kingslayer if not outright executed for it, no matter how bad the leader.

Is especially prone to happen in a siege situation where it's made perfectly clear they are utterly doomed and their only chance at survival is getting rid of him, or that he's irredeemably insane and has crosed the Moral Event Horizon.

Examples:
  • Famously happened to the Trope Namer, Emperor Caligula, who was replaced by his uncle Claudius.
  • Happened to some planet governor in Legend of Galactic Heroes.
  • Happened to Aerys Targaryen as part of the Back Story in A Song of Ice and Fire.
  • Mad Lord Snapcase had a variation of this trope happen to him in Night Watch, involving one Assasin with the complicity of everyone in the room. It was insanely cool and a Crowning Moment of Awesome for young Havelock and his aunt. Also, a Crowning Moment of Funny for Death.
  • Prince Schneizel tried to pull this one on his father, whom he deems insane and unfit to rule.
  • This trope appears to be setting itself up in the case of Lybian leader Gaddafi. Whether it's played straight, subverted, averted, or otherwise played with remains to be seen.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Azula has a lite version of this. Her friends turn on her once she goes too far. They weren't trying to kill her, but they sent her over the edge.
Community Feedback Replies: 28
  • June 10, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
  • June 10, 2011
    Ardiente
    Oh, and it happens a lot in the later Roman Empire, it's just that at that point the Praetorian Guard assassinating emperors was more like People Sit On Chairs, so I didn't think of it at first...
  • June 10, 2011
    EEplayer
    Does this have to be the caligula? Or else, maybe mubarak's precedor in Egypt would count.
  • June 10, 2011
    Hadashi
    • Subverted in real life, the only real souses we have for Caligula are his critics.
  • June 10, 2011
    Ardiente
    Souses? And he did get killed by his bodyguards, by all accounts.
  • June 10, 2011
    Hadashi
    I have dyspraxia.

    Caligula was probably not the nicest guy, but a great deal (if not most) of what we 'know' about him is from people who were satirising and parodying him. (By which I mean the thing about his horse may well be untrue)

  • June 10, 2011
    Reflextion
    Most of this is already on Bodyguard Betrayal
  • June 10, 2011
    Ardiente
    ^^ Whether the actual Emperor Caligula was The Caligula or not isn't relevant to the trope, only that he was assasinated because of people just plain hated him too much.

    ^Why do people keep using bold to point out these things? Anyhoo, it has some strong overlap, but most of the examples there don't fit here. So, Subtrope, maybe?
  • June 10, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    I really don't think we should use potential (and by no means certain) future Real Life events as an example of a trope.
  • June 10, 2011
    Arivne
    ^^ The reason so many people bold face a trope name is because so many tropers ignore or miss a Yes We Do Have This One message if the trope name isn't in bold face.

    And yes, this is a Sub Trope of Bodyguard Betrayal.
  • June 11, 2011
    jatay3
    Partial example in Babylon Five. Cartagia's guards were unbribable so it was necessary to convince the emperor to go to narn where the guards could be bribed.
  • June 11, 2011
    AFP
    You're crossing your examples for B5. Cartagia's guards were unbribable, so they had to distract them With G'Kar breaking loose from his chains so someone trusted Londo could kill him when they were looking the other way. On the other hand, Londo lured Lord Refa to Narn and arranged for his entire guard detail to be made up of soldiers loyal to House Molari. Neither is an example here.

    If there is a trope for a Coup, this would be a subtrope of that, where some particularly trusted force ends up being instrumental in the leader's assassination. I think it's definitely a Subtrope of Bodyguard Betrayal at the very least.
  • June 11, 2011
    Damr1990

  • June 11, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    If this were to be distinguished from Bodyguard Betrayal, we would need a new laconic and a different name.
  • June 13, 2011
    jaytee
    Agree that this is Bodyguard Betrayal. It just doesn't seem like it because Bodyguard Betrayal is poorly named (it's not necessarily limited to bodyguards, per se).
  • June 13, 2011
    jaytee
    Welllll, maybe I could go either way actually. Either way, Bodyguard Betrayal needs work before this can launch.
  • June 14, 2011
    Ardiente
    So, what do we do now?
  • June 15, 2011
    Damr1990
    see also Et Tu Brute
  • June 15, 2011
    Ardiente
    ^ Incredibly adequate.
  • June 17, 2011
    Ardiente
    bump: I'm not getting any hats here. Any reason for that?
  • June 17, 2011
    CrypticMirror
    ^ because it is already covered. Really should just be heading for the discard bin.
  • June 17, 2011
    jaytee
    Yeah, how is it different than Et Tu Brute?
  • June 17, 2011
    Ardiente
    Et Tu Brute should be the name of this trope, and that trope should have a different name. But they are very different: Et Tu Brute is about someone, anyone, but especially heroes, taking attacks from close and trusted allies much harder than other stuff that should by all rights be more painful. Like, they confront Eldritch Abominations and come back with a smile, but break down into depression because their father told them he was disappointed in them. This trope would be if Shinji stabbed Gendou with the prog knife, or Katsuragi shot him in the back: AN ABUSIVE AUTHORITY FIGURE GETS VIOLENTLY OVERTHROWN, probably because their followers are too afraid of them to merely imprison them.

    Hm. I should probably fit this into the description...

    ^^ Bodyguard Betrayal needs to be redefined. As it is, there is overlap with this trope, but it isn't clear if it's a supertrope, a sister trope, or what. Perhaps "Caligula Bakcstabbed" should be specifically about overthrowing absuive authority figures, as a specific sort of mutiny, while "Bodyguard Betrayal" should be specifically about bodyguards committing the deed, and does not necessarily involve murder (example: the Dai Li of Ba Sing Se overthrowing both the king and the Evil Chancellor in favour of Azula)

  • June 23, 2011
    Ardiente
    bump
  • June 24, 2011
    Tambov333
    Does the end of The Lion King apply?
  • June 24, 2011
    Ardiente
    Only the very last bit. "My frieeeeends". For that matter, the ending of The Thief And The Cobbler too.
  • June 25, 2011
    Ardiente
    bump
  • June 26, 2011
    Ardiente
    bump
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