Created By: jatay3 on August 30, 2012 Last Edited By: jatay3 on March 5, 2013

Captain Tyrant

A Tyranical Captain

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This is a maritime version of The Caligula. If his crew are not actually Galley Slaves he will treat them as such. He likes nothing better with his morning coffee then to give some poor sailor A Taste of the Lash; preferably a very strong taste.

The more modern versions set in, say, World War II are seldom physically violent; they will still have more then enough non-physical ways to express their sadism. However even that small reasurance is gone in the days of Wooden Ships and Iron Men.

The Trope Namer of course is Captain Bligh of the HMS Bounty "immortalized" in the book and movie Mutiny on the Bounty. This version according to many sources may in fact have been a Historical Villain Upgrade.

If such a captain pushes to hard, it will cause a Mutiny.

Film

  • Captain Bligh from Mutiny on the Bounty

  • Commander Queeg from The Caine Mutiny adapted from the book by Hermann Wouk is a milder example being obnoxious rather then "tyrannical".

Literature

  • C.S. Forrester's Horatio Hornblower novel Lieutenant Hornblower. Captain Sawyer of the HMS Renown is apparently suffering from paranoid schozophrenia. He constantly suspects his subordinates of plotting mutiny against him and runs a reign of terror aboard ship. He falls into a hold and and suffers a severe head injury that renders him incapable of command. It's hinted that Hornblower either pushed him or was involved in covering up someone else doing so.
Community Feedback Replies: 17
  • August 30, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    Who? Maritime Tyrant is a better name.
  • August 30, 2012
    surgoshan
    I agree that Maritime Tyrant is a better name, though Cpt Bligh is one of the earlier examples most people will be able to name.
  • August 30, 2012
    surgoshan
    • A few examples show up in the Aubrey Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian. One is Aubrey's Lieutenant in the second book, who nearly causes a mutiny. In a later book, a captain serving under Aubrey's temporary post of Commodore nearly causes a mutiny before mysteriously vanishing during battle.
  • August 30, 2012
    jatay3
    How about "Captain Tyranny" to be a little catchier?
  • August 30, 2012
    jatay3
    Oh yes, those kind of captains did sometimes mysteriously vanish. Shame how easy it is to fall overboard isn't it?
  • August 30, 2012
    KarjamP
    I think this suffers from Trope Namer Syndrome.
  • August 30, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
  • August 31, 2012
    jkbeta
    The Aubrey Maturin examples in a handy list:
    • Post Captain: Lieutenant Parker of the Polychrest, who nearly causes a mutiny that is defused by Jack Aubrey.
    • The Mauritius Command: Captain Corbett of the Magicienne, who vanishes under *ahem* unknown circumstances during a battle.
    • The Commodore: Captain Thomas of the Thames. Not quite as bad as the other two, but still problematic enough that Jack Aubrey considers his behaviour dangerous to the success of the mission.
    Others are mentioned as well, including Captain Bligh himself.

    Re title: Captain Tyrant is good, or maybe Tyrannical Captain.
  • August 31, 2012
    Arivne
    Literature
    • C.S. Forrester's Horatio Hornblower novel Lieutenant Hornblower. Captain Sawyer of the HMS Renown is apparently suffering from paranoid schozophrenia. He constantly suspects his subordinates of plotting mutiny against him and runs a reign of terror aboard ship. He falls into a hold and and suffers a severe head injury that renders him incapable of command. It's hinted that Hornblower either pushed him or was involved in covering up someone else doing so.
  • August 31, 2012
    Bisected8
    • In Real Life, some historians suspect Bligh might have been an aversion who suffered a Historical Villain Upgrade in his own time. Most of the "evidence" that he was a tyrant came from an accout written by one of the crew members who mutinied (while waiting to be hung, Bligh himself was at sea again, so he couldn't defend himself from the claims after they were published), as well as confusion with Edward Edwards who was sent to arrest the crew for their mutiny.
  • September 1, 2012
    Xtifr
    I assume this refers to ship captains in general, and not just water-bound ships?

    And yeah, the name has to change. In addition to all the people who won't have any idea what it means, we'll have people who assume it refers to the character, rather than a trope. I like Captain Tyrant.
  • September 1, 2012
    DaibhidC

    This is interesting: Captain Queeg already exists and is a redirect to The Neidermeyer.
  • September 1, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    Queeg perhaps isn't the best example. He wasn't so much sadistic as petulant and demanding alternating with neglectful and incompetent.

    The Sea Wolf, by Jack London. A brutal perhaps literally insane captain.

  • March 4, 2013
    XFllo
    A lot of this is covered by the Insane Admiral.
  • March 4, 2013
    KingZeal
    Ah, nevermind.
  • March 4, 2013
    MrBluesky
    Contrast The Good Captain, although that's been hit with the Trope Decay pretty badly. It looks like it was originally about Captain Superhero, but there are plenty of maritime examples.
  • March 5, 2013
    aurora369
    Played For Laughs in The Slayers with Captain Jarlov. The captain was obsessed with jars and vases and forced his crew to polish them day and night. This led his ship to its doom; the Slayers encounter it as a ghost ship with a crew of ghosts. It's Black Humor.
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