->'''Mal:''' You wanna run this ship?\\
'''Jayne:''' Yes.\\
'''Mal:''' Well... you can't.
-->-- ''Film/{{Serenity}}''

Who doesn't want to be TheLeader? Your team/army/country listens to you and respects you, you're the one to come up with the team's attack {{plan}}, and when all of you get publicly recognized, you get most or all of the credit for saving the day because you're [[TheFaceOfTheBand the "face" of the team]].

Those aren't, however, the only reasons a character wants to be TheLeader. There are times when a character [[TheResenter resents]] the actual leader of the group, either due to an ego issue or due to justified resentment of TheLeader's methods. TheLancer is likely to be a Leader Wannabe, because of [[NumberTwo 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 is either annoying, does nothing to contribute, or a combination of the two. They will often be a MilesGloriosus.

A SuperTrope to TheStarscream.

A SisterTrope to TheTeamWannabe, TheChosenWannabe.

Compare UnfitForGreatness, contrast ReluctantRuler.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Jason, the Lancer to Mark in ''Anime/BattleOfThePlanets'', is more than a little annoyed that Mark is the leader instead of him.
* Sasuke Uchiha in the latter half of Part II in ''Manga/{{Naruto}}''. [[spoiler: If he's not abandoning his teammates for his own goals, proclaiming he'll be Hokage without listening to anyone else, and finally ''panicking'' when Obito tries a TotalPartyKill and decides to abandon everyone else but Naruto and Jugo to sacrifice one of his snakes in the process. It becomes abundantly clear the leader role isn't what he's able to do.]]
* Raye in the dubbed version of ''Anime/SailorMoon'' would take any chance to complain that Serena didn't deserve to be leader of the Sailor Scouts and try to take over the position herself. This runs a strong contrast to the original Rei, who was merely exasperated by Usagi's immaturity and doubted her abilities until midway through the series. (And this ran a sharp contrast to ''manga''!Rei, who clashed more with ''Sailor Venus'' about the right way to lead the team.)
* In ''Anime/DragonBallSuper'', Goku makes Gohan the leader of Universe 7's team of fighters and he goes about making plans and strategies for the team to use in the Tournament of Power. However, the moment the fights start, Goku, Vegeta, [[spoiler:Frieza]] and the Androids go their own directions, leaving an exasperated Gohan to lead Piccolo, Tien, Krillin and Master Roshi in the main plan.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* When [[Comicbook/{{Robin}} Damian Wayne]] briefly joined the ComicBook/TeenTitans (at [[ComicBook/{{Nightwing}} Dick Grayson]]-[[TakingUpTheMantle as]]-Franchise/{{Batman}}'s urging), he immediately declared himself leader (since the current Comicbook/{{Robin}} is traditionally the leader of the team), but this led to conflict with the Titans and their actual leader Comicbook/RedRobin, (Tim Drake).
* ComicBook/{{Iznogoud}} and his "[[CatchPhrase I want to be caliph in the caliph's place!]]"
* Franchise/GreenLantern Guy Gardner wanted to be the leader of the ComicBook/JusticeLeagueInternational, so he challenged Franchise/{{Batman}}, the current leader, to a fight. Batman then floored Gardner in one punch.
* ComicBook/{{Hawkeye}}, when he joined ComicBook/TheAvengers, spent all his time harassing Captain America.

* ''Film/{{Serenity}}''. Jayne tries this at one point when he's disgusted with Mal's leadership, providing the page quote above.
* ''Film/ButchCassidyAndTheSundanceKid''. 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 GroinAttack.

* From ''[[Literature/{{Redwall}} The Taggerung]]'', Gruven Zann wants to earn the eponymous title, and tries to justify that claim by boasting that [[YouKillItYouBoughtIt he killed the previous Taggerung]]. This ends up backfiring, as he is surrounded by a tribe of vicious bandits who knew the previous Taggerung and know that there is no way in hell Gruven could have killed him. Gruven ends up getting killed by the bandits, who- unlike him- are actually good at fighting.
* In ''Literature/WarriorCats'', 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 first series' BigBad: 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.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'':
** After Harmony and Spike break up, Harm decides to become the leader of a vampire den of her own. Upon hearing about this:
--->'''Buffy:''' ''Harmony'' has '''[[EvilMinions minions]]'''?
** In Season 7, Buffy gets this from some of the Potentials, notably Kennedy. She ends up being [[AchillesInHisTent temporarily deposed]] in favour of Faith, who didn't actually want the job.
* Sky from ''Series/PowerRangersSPD''. His goal is to become the Red Ranger, like his father before him, but he blows his chance in the premiere due to failing a SecretTestOfCharacter. He finally achieves this in the finale.
* In ''Series/{{Justified}}'', Devil is TheDragon 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 [[spoiler: becomes TheStarscream and tries to take over by killing Boyd]].
* In an episode of ''Series/{{Leverage}}'' Hardison decides that he would like to be 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 ''Series/{{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).
* ''Series/LegendsOfTomorrow'': In the second season 2 episode, after Rip's disappearance, the Legends are leaderless for the first time and aren't sure who should lead them. When they meet the far more organized [[SuperTeam Justice Society of America]], the JSA leader Hourman immediately assumes that Stein is the leader, being an older white male (this takes place in TheForties). Stein is flattered and initially tries to lead, only to be proven completely useless when tactical decisions are needed to be made on-the-fly. He then declares Sara to be the new leader. Later on, after Rip comes back, he tries to be the captain again, only to realize the team works just fine without him and takes their cues from Sara anyway. He admits that Sara is the true captain and doesn't quite know where he belongs anymore.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''[[VideoGame/SonicRushSeries Sonic Rush Adventure]]'', Marine thinks of herself as being the leader of the heroes, but everyone else thinks of her as being TheLoad.
** In ''[[VideoGame/SonicBoom Snic Boom: Rise of Lyric]]'', Knuckles tries to take charge of the group at the Purification Plant, stating that Sonic and Amy take the elevator while he and Tails return to town in case it's attacked again, never mind that he took offense to Amy ''[[ByNoIMeanYes suggesting the exact same thing moments before]]''. Nobody took him seriously there.
--->'''Sonic''': [[SureLetsGoWithThat You win this round, Knuckles.]] Amy, let's go.
* Junpei Iori from ''VideoGame/{{Persona 3}}''. He starts off jealous of the main character for summoning their Persona with no effort, their Wild Card ability no one else has, automatically being elected leader of S.E.E.S., and just generally being better than him at everything. Junpei's CharacterDevelopment involves him moving past his jealousy and accepting that he isn't suited for leadership like the main character is.
* Lily in ''VideoGame/TheWalkingDead'' 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 becomes this for a moment in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'', when he confronts [[PlayerCharacter the Warden]] before going into the village of Haven and claims he is taking control of the party. He does this because he's of the opinion that [[AntiMutiny you drifted too far away from your original goal of stopping the Blight]]. Dueling (and winning) puts him back on track. Averted if his approval is high enough, however, in which case he will simply state his opinion and leave it at that.
* In ''VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiPaperJam'', it's revealed that Ludwig thinks of himself as the leader of [[SiblingTeam The Koopalings]], when in reality they all consider each other equals.

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* Given the rampant amount of ArmedFarces and MildlyMilitary going on in ''Machinima/RedVsBlue'', this trope also comes up.
** Church is normally the OnlySaneMan, and usually the one who tries to keep his team organized and on-track. However, any attempts to pull rank fall flat because A) no one really respects him and B) he's not the official CO of Blue Team. Tucker flat-out states that he's never seen Church as a leader. And as Doc says...
-->'''Doc:''' No, you're a private who has a dead captain. Last time I checked, that makes you a private.
* Weiss, in the first volume of ''WebAnimation/{{RWBY}}'', tries to get herself declared leader of the team. She fails because none of her teammates even like her- much less follow orders from her- and Professor Port recognizes that it is caused by her ego and persuades her to drop it. Unusually for the trope, Weiss is partly justified in her rebellion (Ruby being an inexperienced goofball who slacks off in class) and both girls end up [[AnAesop learning]] that leadership has to be ''earned'', not demanded.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Karkat in ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'' decides to be the leader of the trolls' session, mainly because he wants to feel important, possibly also because he's too high-strung to leave bad enough alone. Despite how much he talks about being the leader, the fact is everyone mostly just does whatever bullshit they'd have done anyway and doesn't really follow his directions any more than anyone else's... or so it appears. Later chapters have some of the trolls admitting that, against all logic, Karkat actually makes for a pretty decent leader: he keeps everyone on track and his angry ranting and verbal abuse tend to annoy the trolls into actually ''doing'' things rather than just wasting time. It helps that Karkat does genuinely care about his friends underneath all the vitriol. Even when he renounces the leadership title due to his perceived failures, his friends still have confidence in him:
-->'''Karkat:''' Maybe I'll die in the process of saving someone more crucial to victory? If that's what it takes to be a part of this, then so be it. I'm in.\\
'''Kanaya:''' Statements like that are why you're our leader, Karkat.\\
'''Karkat:''' I'm not your fucking leader anymore!\\
'''Kanaya:''' Statements like that are ''also'' why you're our leader.
* ''Webcomic/{{Nebula}}'': Jupiter really, ''really'' wants to be the leader of the solar system... but Sun's already taken the spot, and he's facing an uphill battle just to get people to want that to change.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Numbuh Four of ''WesternAnimation/CodenameKidsNextDoor'' wants to be the leader of [[FiveManBand Sector V]], as such, he often wants to pounce onto being TheLeader when Numbuh One is absent or busy.
* ''WesternAnimation/AladdinTheSeries'' has Abis Mal, who often plots to become sultan -- apparently just to wear the Sultan's NiceHat.
* Buttercup of ''WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls'' believes sometimes that she should be the leader instead of Blossom.
* Texas in ''WesternAnimation/{{Motorcity}}'', while not really resentful of Mike Chilton, believes he should be [[TheDitz (or believes he ''is'')]] the leader. This is notable in "Texas-ify It" and "Threat Level: Texas!" the latter being a RecapEpisode in which he claims to have been responsible for several of Mike's accomplishments.
* In the first season of ''WesternAnimation/TotalDramaIsland'', [[AlphaBitch Heather]] was this. It probably would have gone better if she didn't treat all her teammates like crap.
* ''WesternAnimation/SuperRobotMonkeyTeamHyperforceGo'': At the start of Season 3, with Chiro missing and Antauri [[spoiler: seemingly dead]], Sprx and Gibson spend quite a bit of time arguing over who is third-in-command and should therefore take over, even to the detriment of their attempts to find Chiro. After everything's over, they ask Antauri to clarify for the record who third-in-command actually is. [[spoiler:It's Nova.]]