Created By: DannyVElAcme on December 6, 2010 Last Edited By: DannyVElAcme on September 11, 2014

Absolute Authority

A character whose authority is unquestionable.

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Darkseid is... in charge.

Quite simply, a character who is in charge and whose authority is unquestioned and unchallenged. The character, whether his organization is large or small, is exactly as the title describes: completely in control.

While this might seem merely the purview of the more powerful villains, this is not necessarily the case: a leader who is just THAT good might reach the point where he's unquestioned because his subordinates KNOW that whatever he says or orders is the best course of action, period.

This character is SO in charge that any character who challenges him will be shunned by the organization as a whole as someone exceedingly foolish, dangerous or insane. Also, characters who challenge his authority run the risk of having their entire character revolve around their desire to undermine the leader's authority. However, for this trope to fit, the leader must be, when all's said and done, the most effective leader the organization could ever have(or at least, formidable or charismatic enough that challenging him is for all purposes impossible), and anyone else who managed somehow to usurp the role will be proven wholly ineffective at the task. Simply put, the upstart is just plain wrong to challenge the other's authority, his word is law for a reason.

While rare, given the fickle nature of humanity as a whole, there HAVE been Truth in Television examples of this trope, even in modern day. Kim Jong-il(now succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-un) and Fidel Castro, for example, have gone for decades unchallenged as the heads of state of their respective countries, and many a brutal dictator has kept the populace so afraid that they have gone unchallenged(Papa Doc Duvalier is an example).

There are many reasons a character can have this kind of supreme authority:
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: The leader is so friggin' powerful, it's impossible to subvert his authority at all. This is pretty much bad guy territory here, but there ARE examples characters of unquestioned authority in the good guys' side who earned their title by kicking ass.
  • The leader is "omniscient": Note that this is not a literal case of omniscience(at least not usually...), but it might as well be. The leader is SO wise and has such a perfect record of making the correct decisions, anyone whose ever questioned his authority has just given up and conceded that, yes, this guy is just the smartest in the bunch and his authority is well-deserved.
  • The leader is an inspiration: This leader leads by example, being a paragon the virtues of his organization. Other characters simply defer to him because he is beyond reproach.
  • Divine Authority: The leader's position is given to him by a higher power or the character himself is considered a deity. However, being king because God said so isn't enough for this trope to apply. After all, bad kings have been taken down by oppressed masses before. This trope applies when the ruler is effective, so that to the average subordinate/subject, his divine status is from which his ability comes.
  • The leader is totally benevolent: The leader cares so much about his charges that every single decision he makes is colored by his desire to protect and bring prosperity. The leader maintains his authority because the people actually love him.
  • The leader is totally malevolent: Questioning the leader earns you a death sentence, it's that simple. This leader rules by fear, and any threat he makes causes his subjects to tremble because he WILL make good on it.

The leader's subordinates will always exhibit Undying Loyalty, at least externally. If the leader is a bad guy, he might actually have the resentment of his subordinates, but they can't really do anything about it.

Examples
  • Big Bads in Buffy the Vampire Slayer tend to be this due to the "totally malevolent" reason. However, Bonus Points go to Glory, who has an entire demon race as her questioning servants.
  • Darkseid rules Apokolips. Period. An example of his control is seen in the DCAU: In Justice League, Superman manages to defeat him and keep him off Apokolips, which leads to a MASSIVE civil war between would-be rulers. When he returns in Justice League Unlimited, the fighting literally stops cold the very second he appears, with every combatant in both armies dropping to a knee. Hell, except for being benevolent, he's practically an example of ALL the types of leadership listed in the trope: smarter than everyone on his planet, the most powerful being on his planet, a literal physical god, loved and feared by his subjects, and an example to what everyone in Apokolips might reach if motivated enough.
  • Doctor Doom is the absolute ruler of Latveria, and his rule is benign and fair. And heaven help you if you say otherwise.
  • T'Challa, the Black Panther, is the rightful ruler of Wakanda, but even if his title was not a traditional one, he'd still be its ruler based on his myriad virtues. He's truly the most effective and benign leader Wakanda's ever had.
  • Dimension lords all exhibit this trope by default. Dormammu, Mephisto, Trigon, Nekron, the Anti-Monitor, the list is pretty long actually.
  • Both sides in Transformers exhibit this. Optimus Prime is such an effective and beloved leader that no Autobot questions his leadership(in fact, time and again, it's been shown that when he's NOT leader, things usually go to shit). As for Megatron, well, challenging his leadership is the easiest way to not live anymore, but he's also a guy who leads from the front.
  • The God Emperor of Mankind in Warhammer 40K.
  • Gandalf is the leader of the Fellowship, this is not questioned. And in the books, it is shown that any character who doesn't heed his advice ends up badly(ask Denethor).
  • Real Life example: Pharaohs in Ancient Egypt.
  • Most of the leading gods in world mythology are unchallenged by the other gods within their pantheon, and most gods are absolute rulers over the concepts they have purview over(Hades is unchallenged when it comes to death and the underworld, Poseidon is unchallenged when it comes to the sea, etc.). Taking down one of the leading gods is an event of titanic(no pun intended) importance within a pantheon's history(the Titanomachia of Greek Mythology or the Ragnarok of Norse Mythology, for example).
  • Many of history's most powerful leaders and dictators have gone unchallenged for the duration of their reign.
  • The Low King of the Dwarfs in Discworld. Even his opponent in the not-quite-an-election bows to his absolute authority; to do otherwise would be to devalue a position he still hopes to win one day. "We may disagree about where the boat is going, but only a madman would drill holes in the bottom".
Community Feedback Replies: 31
  • December 6, 2010
    Uncandescent
    Princess Dhianeila of Heroic Age is described by all as a glowing beacon of purity and faith that is destined to guide humanity into the future with her benevolent wisdom. Very few people question this, and those who do are inevitably moved by her incredible benevolence and leadership within the next episode or two. She's just that good.
  • December 9, 2010
    RavenWilder
    • In Metalocalypse the band Dethklok is often shown to be utterly helpless without their manager, Charles Offdenson. No one else has the business savvy to run their massive corporate empire, or the patience to put up with Dethklok's constant stupidity and Jerk Ass behavior, or the right combination of butt-kicking awesomeness and pure luck needed to spend so much time around the band without dying a gruesome death.
  • December 9, 2010
    Fanra
    In The Venture Bros, Baron Werner Underbheit is absolute ruler of Underland. Citizens are required to serve as henchmen to the Baron from age 12 until age 37 in the infantry. When they reach 38 years old they are executed. There are no prisons or holding cells in Underland because Underbheit has enacted the death penalty for all transgressions of Underlaw.
  • December 10, 2010
    shimaspawn
    The image isn't very good. He looks like he's being attacked by a bunch of monsters. I don't see how that conveys authority.
  • December 10, 2010
    Speedball
    The Eternal Emperor in the Sten books has absolute authority because he's the only person in the galaxy who knows where to get the fuel that runs hyperdrive, Antimatter-Two. If he is killed (he always gets better) the robot freighters stop coming and whatever regime that attempted to replace him becomes so weakened that they topple at a touch when he returns from the grave.
  • December 10, 2010
    berr
    Possible potholes for the other reasons listed:

  • December 10, 2010
    NerdAtComputer
    (You should also add that no matter how many times he/she losses, no one will try to dethrone him, even when it would be the most logical thing to do.)

    • King koopa/Bowser from Mario Bros. No matter how many time Mario defeats him, he continues being the king. Makes you wander why do they subordinates still follow him.

  • December 22, 2010
    Arivne
    Literature
    • Leto Atreides II in God Emperor of Dune. Apparently omniscient (due to his prescience abilities), immortal (he's ruled for more than 3,500 years) and mostly immune to damage (he survived a close range lasgun attack). He also has the Fish Speakers, an Amazon Brigade army.
  • December 26, 2010
    MoleGoddess
    Dumbledore as the leader of the Order of the Phoenix, for several reasons.
  • December 26, 2010
    jatay3
    Impossible to arrange in Real Life at least for humans. No ruler can give the amount of attention needed to rule literally everything and most decisions will always be made by someone other then him. For the matter of that, nobody can completely rule themselves.
  • December 26, 2010
    jatay3
    Gandalf doesn't actually have absolute authority. Being the leader of the Fellowship does not make him leader of the Forces of Good. Even his leadership of the Fellowship only goes so far. He and Aragorn are constantly having debates.
  • May 4, 2011
    DannyVElAcme
    @jatay3: This trope is not about a character's authority being absolute as in controlling everything under his purview, it is about his rule being unquestioned. In that case, there ARE real-life examples. While an Absolute Authoritarian's rule might be questioned, it is not by anyone UNDER said rule, and quite a lot of dictatorships have been run this way, with only death being any release from the dictator's rule.
  • May 4, 2011
    DaibhidC
    • The Low King of the Dwarfs in Discworld. Even his opponent in the not-quite-an-election bows to his absolute authority; to do otherwise would be to devalue a position he still hopes to win one day. "We may disagree about where the boat is going, but only a madman would drill holes in the bottom".
  • May 6, 2011
    Ekuran
    Bump.
  • May 11, 2011
    Damr1990
    Benevolent ruler , check; Having the best atributes of the three kinds of ponies, check; being a Physical Goddess, check; Having the power to move THE FREAKING SUN, check, Actually being a Wise and Benevolent Ruler who everypony adimres?, check, check, CHECK.
  • August 25, 2011
    DannyVElAcme
    Bump
  • August 26, 2011
    TommyTree
    This image is Just A Face And A Caption, and it really doesn't explain the trope.

    Another example:
    • In Warrior Cats, clan leaders have an absolute authority, granted by divine authority of Star Clan, dead ancestors of cats. It is also supported by tradition, as warrior code, rules that each cat is supposed to follow, outright states that word of the leader is law.

  • January 6, 2012
    Noaqiyeum
    Needs a better picture.
  • January 18, 2012
    Damr1990
    bumpĀ”
  • January 18, 2012
    animeg3282
    Found in Fruits Basket- No one questions Akito's authority due to the nature of the bond.
  • January 18, 2012
    chicagomel
    Found in Merlin with first Uther and now Arthur. As king, they are the law of the land, and their word is rarely questioned. Arthur or Gaius has argued with Uther a few times, but it often ends with Uther saying he's going to do it no matter what they think.
  • September 21, 2012
    Damr1990
    Discussed in "Fate Zero" where on a reunion of the three King servants, all three were pretty close to this on their respective Eras and each one had a different vissions of what made them adequate leaders

    • Saber, King of Knitghs, sees the need to be benevolent, wise(omniscience) and just as a duty, also since she is King Arthur she was elected as a King by divine command(although her origin story seems to be based more on the Lady of the lake rather than the Sword in the Stone (or maybe both)so maybe it wasn't necesarily done by divine being
    • Rider, King of Conquerors, thinks that a king needs to be an inspiration to their servants, and he most live and express the most extreme and passionate ways to live, wether it be extreme good or extreme evil, to live the more luxurious life possible, worth of their servants jealousy, inspiring them to wish for greater things, while the real Alexander the great was a normal king born of humans some of the latter myths clame he was son of a god, however the novel doesn't seem to take this characterization
    • Lancer, King of Heroes, Gilgamesh was a Demigod, two thirds god one huma who despite this had a great hatred for the gods, and was originally a tyrant to the point the gods created Enkidou to oppose him, He belives Asskicking Equals Authority and obviously sees himself as the most Badass being in the universe, to the point that he claims everything to be of his propperty
  • September 21, 2012
    Earnest
    Darkside is a good example, but I'm not sure that's the best pic for this trope.

    This would go under the Authority and/or Loyalty headings of I Control My Minions Through.
  • September 22, 2012
    dvorak
    Judges from Judge Dredd-seeing as they are judge, jury, and executioner, most citizens do as told to avoid getting pasted.
  • September 29, 2012
    Damr1990
    I am many things, Kal-El, but here, I am God.
    Darkseid , describing his status on Apokolips (he's not exagerating)
  • September 29, 2012
    Damr1990
    as for the pic, maybe a some part of Darkseid's retur to apokolips after his resurrection http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1gnXOT-f3Q&t=19m57s , just choose any momment where the everyone bows to him
  • February 11, 2013
    DannyVElAcme
    Bumping. Sorry for not paying much attention to my own YKTT Ws, I'm nearing army deployment, so things have been kinda hectic lately :/
  • February 11, 2013
    Earnest
  • February 11, 2013
    Ekuran
    Compare The Man.
  • September 11, 2014
    coppro
    See also the Roman dictator. So absolute, that they cannot even be questioned after they lose the position, unlike every other ruler with authority.
  • September 11, 2014
    DAN004
    Dunno if this counts
    • In One Piece, the "World Nobles" are descendants of the 20 royal families who formed the World Government, and as such they are deemed "sacred" and their authority over lower people is unquestioned. Sad thing is, they're utter dicks because of it.

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