[[quoteright:350:[[Film/TheLordOfTheRings http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Saruman-Two-Towers_copy_8271.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:We're actually talking about the ''[[TheManBehindTheMan Eye]]'', not the bearded sorcerer]]

->''"Mages who sit on thrones always mean trouble, Olive-girl. They take themselves too seriously."''
-->-- '''Olive''', ''Wyvern's Spur'' ([[TabletopGame/ForgottenRealms Finder's Stone Trilogy]])

Take an EvilSorcerer, mix with EvilOverlord, place against one incredibly physical and muscular protagonist and leave to stew in a realm of CreepyCrows, [[PalantirPloy palantirs]] and monstrous minions.

The Sorcerous Overlord is probably one of the most common variations of EvilSorcerer due to the strong themes that come out of having a single hero or small RagtagBunchOfMisfits against a ruler whose power comes from a vague, nebulous and potentially ever-pervasive source.

They can always have a number of devices to keep inserting their presence into the plot: {{Magic Mirror}}s, evil animal minions, setting up magical warriors. Every element of the overlord's realm can be a [[FisherKing more direct extension of themselves]] (with inherent AlwaysChaoticEvil) and they can come up with various ways of sending a threat against them.

They also make good foils for the strong hero who fights through mainly physical stabbing-meaty-things-with-pointy-things methods. On the other hand, this can make it hard to explain why there are any limits on the sorcery when fighting the hero.

See also TheMagocracy. If the magical overlord is also a [[OurLichesAreDifferent Lich]] then their realm doubles as TheNecrocracy, a domain ruled by the undead. Contrast BenevolentMageRuler where a magic-user [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin rules benevolently]], and CourtMage, where a magic-user is a ruler's advisor rather than the ruler themselves. Compare EmperorScientist, who has science instead of magic. (However, Sorcerous Overlord and EmperorScientist are known to [[{{Magitek}} overlap]] quite often.)

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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Di Barrow in ''TheFiveStarStories'' is a former EvilChancellor who managed to become the sorcerous overlord of a country. And then it turns out he's just a host body for the ancient wizard Bosjathfort, who plans to become overlord of the galaxy.
* High Priest Zagato ''appears'' to be this in the first part of ''Manga/MagicKnightRayearth''. When the heroines arrive in the world of Cephiro, he has apparently imprisoned [[EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses Princess Emeraude]], the rightful ruler, and instigated an iron-fisted reign of terror enforced by both his minions and his own tremendous magical ability. It turns out to be a bit more complicated than that. [[spoiler:The short version is that Zagato is in love with Emeraude, who reciprocates, but is distressed because the continued existence of Cephiro requires its ruler's constant singleminded prayers for its peace and stability. When her thoughts start drifting more and more towards Zagato rather than her duty, she imprisons herself and summons the heroines to come and kill her (both because [[ICannotSelfTerminate she is unable to commit suicide]] and because her selfish thoughts will eventually create a SuperPoweredEvilSide that will annihilate the world before it has a chance to select a replacement ruler). Zagato, finding the whole setup extremely unfair (to say the least) amasses power, followers, and a reputation as a SorcerousOverlord on purpose in an attempt to keep the heroines from fulfilling their mission in an attempt to flip the world that denies his love a giant middle finger.]]
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[[folder: Comic Books]]
* Kulan Gath from the ''ComicBook/ConanTheBarbarian'' and ''Comicbook/RedSonja'' comics.
** Most of Conan's foes, actually.
* DoctorDoom is a fusion of this trope and EmperorScientist. He started out relying almost exclusively on science, but over time began utilizing his innate talent for magic as well.
* [[Comicbook/DoctorStrange Dormammu]] is this trope, as he is an EvilSorcerer as well as being a demonic god-tyrant, PureMagicBeing, and DimensionLord. Unlike other examples, he both draws on magical beings for power and ''is'' a magical being whose power is drawn upon. His sister Umar also fits this, though she has fallen victim to ShapeshifterModeLock and appears to be a handsome young woman.
* [[ComicBook/LesLegendaires Darkhell]] was this in the country of [[{{Mordor}} Shiar]], with some EmperorScientist aspects. He lost the place after the Legendaries defeated him for the first time, though, and remains a mere EvilSorcerer in most of his latter appearances.
* Azazel from ''ComicBook/XMen''.
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[[folder:Fan Work]]
* Fanfic/KingdomHeartsNewEpicTheFirst has the malevolent and dangerous Wolfang Richler. Despite initially appearing to be a harmless, wacky trickster, it is made evident even in his introduction that this is ''not'' someone you want interested in you. He has incredibly fearsome magic that is, by all appearance, ''solely OneHitKill moves.'' Including a very literal DeathGlare. Its even mentioned that he once had a lot more power in the worlds than he currently does, and he's looking to get all that back.
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[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* Merlock in ''WesternAnimation/DuckTalesTheMovieTreasureOfTheLostLamp''. It's not stated explicitly what possessions he ruled over, but he's an EvilSorceror who used Genie to spread terror and fear wherever he wanted. His dark floating fortress at the end wouldn't look out of place as [[Literature/TheLordOfTheRings Sauron]]'s residential palace.
* Maleficient in ''Disney/SleepingBeauty'', who's either an EvilSorceress or one of TheFairFolk. She seems to rule over a dark land adjacent to the human kingdoms from her ominous castle, populated only by her monstrous and incredibly dumb minions.
* The Horned King in ''Disney/TheBlackCauldron'', although his magical powers are fairly limited and require complex rituals to realize. This tyrant is a [[HornedHumanoid horned]], robed member of the undead, probably a [[OurLichesAreDifferent lich]]. He plots to take over the world from his fortress by acquiring an army of skeletal warriors known as the Cauldron Born.
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[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* Thulsa Doom in the first ''Film/ConanTheBarbarian1982'' movie. He's obviously magical what with the turning into a snake, the snake arrows, and the MoreThanMindControl, but sometimes you get the feeling that he's really best defined by being the opposition to the sword wielding BarbarianHero.
* [[TheEmperor Palpatine]] and several [[DarkLord Dark Lords of the Sith]] in ''StarWars'' are this trope, only InSpace. Despite the science fiction setting, Palpatine lives and breathes this trope to the point of going around in public wearing a black robe. The [[Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse Expanded Universe]] takes this a lot further, often depicting Sith Lords even more explicitly as dark wizards doubling as [[GalacticConqueror galactic conquerors]].
* In ''Film/TheMummyTombOfTheDragonEmperor'', the Dragon Emperor qualifies, not only is he a good fighter, he has control over magic as well, and plans to gain immortality.
* Matai Shang in ''[[Film/JohnCarter John Carter]]'', a Sorcerous Overlord [[RecycledInSpace IN SPACE!]].
* Queen Ravenna from ''Film/SnowWhiteAndTheHuntsman'' is a powerful VainSorceress who has usurped the throne.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* LordOfTheRings - Sauron
** Also, [[TheDragon the Witch-King of Angmar]] often acted as this, ruling his own independent realms with little direct oversight from Sauron.
** Saruman tried, but it didn't work out for him...
* Creator/ClarkAshtonSmith liked this one. Maal Dweb is the incarnation of this trope. Malygris is this without the muscle-bound hero. Ossaru was this in the backstory of ''The Tomb-Spawn''.
* Galbatorix from the ''Literature/InheritanceCycle''.
* The Shadow Lord from Emily Rodda's Literature/DeltoraQuest series. He arrived as a mere EvilSorcerer, now he rules the shadowlands [[spoiler: formerly known as Piria]] with designs on adding it neighboring land of Deltora to his domain, which has the ports he can use to spead his evil to other lands.
* The Warlock Lord, Brona, from ''The Sword of Literature/{{Shannara}}''.
* Emperor Ariakas from ''{{Dragonlance}}'' was a somwhat unusual MagicKnight flavor of this - challenge him, and he can best you in a duel, char you to a crisp, or some combination thereof.
* Emperor Otha of Zemoch from TheElenium, also head of the local ReligionOfEvil. He's also completely sedentary and dumb as a post, but he makes up for it with his magical power and being the head of the single most powerful nation in the world. He's still answerable to [[GodOfEvil his god]]...
* Vond the warlock from Creator/LawrenceWattEvans' novel ''[[Literature/{{Ethshar}} The Unwilling Warlord]]'' is a non-evil version. Vond gains access to tremendous magical power and easily conquers several small kingdoms, creating an empire. But Vond is not a bad ruler: for example, he helps peasants to grow crops with his magic. He mostly plays with his warlockry, spends time with his harem (assembled without any coercion), and delegates the "boring stuff" to the ruling council. [[spoiler:And then it gets kinda doubly subverted, when the Calling - every warlock's bane - catches up with him...]]
* The ''Literature/BlackCompany'' series by Creator/GlenCook is chock full of these guys and gals, with the most prominent being the Lady (in the present day) and the Dominator (in the backstory). There're also some former Sorcerous Overlords - specifically, most of the Taken seem to be this - who were enslaved by the more powerful ones. AlwaysABiggerFish, indeed.
* Emperor Ma'elKoth from ''Literature/TheActsOfCaine'' books fits this to a tee.
* [[TheElricSaga Elric of Melnibone]]. He's ''somewhat'' less evil than is usual for the trope.
* The Shadowlord from TanyaHuff's ''Literature/SmokeAndShadows''.
* Ozorne, the title character of ''[[Literature/TortallUniverse Emperor Mage]]''. He has a [[TheGoodKing good counterpart]] in Jonathan, the king of Tortall.
* The White Witch in ''Literature/TheLionTheWitchAndTheWardrobe''.
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[[folder: Mythology and Religion]]
* Queen Himiko in JapaneseMythology had a dash of this. She was a shaman-queen of Yamataikoku, the land that would become Japan. Legend says she ruled her people with magical mind-control, or something to that effect.
* King Manassah of Judah is said to have practiced sorcery, and Literature/TheBible quite simply states "he did evil in the eyes of the Lord."
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[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Manshoon used to be the leader and creator of the Zhentarim in the ''ForgottenRealms'' until he was DemotedToDragon by his lieutenant Fzoul. Who isn't a wizard, but an incredibly powerful priest.
** Also the Red Wizards of Thay, an order of mages who rule a country that suspicously sounds like Morder sometimes.
** Every single city-state in [[DarkSun Athas]] is ruled by a Sorcerous Overlord. And they are horribly evil, every single one of them: they got to be where they are now because they sucked all magic out of the world in the past to fuel their bloody campaigns, turning it into a blasted wasteland. Indeed, each has ascended into a dragon-like monstrous entity by virtue of committing ''genocide'' and consuming the souls of ''entire species''. This is why Athas has no trolls, orcs, gnomes, pixies...
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}}'' the dark elves are ruled over by Malekith the Witch-King, a TinTyrant who requires a magical suit of armor to give him strength after an encounter with holy fire.
* Warhammer40K: Magnus the Red, Primarch of the Thousand Sons Legion, who crafts complex plans from the Planet of Sorcerers. Ironically, Magnus was the [[EvilCounterpart ''good'' counterpart]] of this trope, being a peerless scholar and warrior-magus who [[ReasonableAuthorityFigure lead his Legion respectably]], albeit indulging them and himself in some studies in the dark arts. He would have gone on this way, until betrayal and desperation lead him to [[DealWithTheDevil making a pact with the Chaos God Tzeentch]] in order to save the Thousand Sons from total destruction.
** Any Tzeentch-aligned Chaos Lord also counts, though any Chaos warbands, worlds, or other entities lead by a Sorceror counts as well.
** [[GodOfEvil Tzeentch]], deity of sorcery and ambition, runs on this trope as well as [[MindScrew weirder stuff]].
* The Lich-King of ''13th Age'' was like this back when he was simply the Wizard King. Following his death and resurrection, he wants to start doing it again, but as one of possibly the least popular figures in the world with the other power players, it's not going to be an easy row to hoe.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Overlord}}'':
** The VillainProtagonist, eventually. You start off as an [[TinTyrant armour plated warrior]] but to advance and gain more power and to fit more stereotypically into the EvilOverlord mode you can gain magic powers.
** [[spoiler: The Old Overlord, possessing the Gandalf stereotype wizard who killed him,]] is a more straight example.
* ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'':
** Arthas Menethil, the Lich King. Combination of one of the most powerful necromancers and death knights? The world is screwed (if he can get up from his throne, that is...).
** Queen Azshara, once queen of the night elves, described as the most powerful mortal mage to ever live. [[VillainWithGoodPublicity Her people loved her]], but the only person she considered worthy of her was the leader of the Burning Legion whom she attempted to bring to Azeroth. Now she rules over the naga, plotting her revenge.
* Magus from ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger'', [[spoiler:until his HeelFaceTurn.]]
* TheEmperor from ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyII'' is a textbook example.
** Final Fantasy in general loves this. Out-and-out examples include Golbez, Exdeath, and Ultimecia, with other characters depending on your definition of an empire.
* Shao Kahn from ''MortalKombat'', to the point of being the EvilCounterpart to [[BigGood Raiden]], who is a ''god''. Shinnok also has shades of this, though he is a fallen Elder God who just seems to have a bit of a sorcerous theme going on.
* The Magic Emperor in ''LunarTheSilverStar'' and its sequels.
* Evil Lord Drokmar from ''MagicSword''.
* ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'' features Ganon, whose magic abilities, which mostly derive from the Triforce of Power, are more or less ''divine''. There's also [[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaFourSwordsAdventures Va]][[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheMinishCap ati]]; while his overall power, as pertains to both magic and dominion, pales in comparison to Ganon's, he makes up for it by making greater actual usage of magic in combat.
* ''VideoGame/DragonQuestIX'' has King Godwyn, ruler of the Gittish Empire. [[spoiler:He experimented with draining the magic power of Celestrians as power]], and he is an extremely competent mage. Even his normal attack seems to have at least some sort of magical element to it.
* Manannan from ''VideoGame/KingsQuestIII'' rules over Llewdor, but more like a bully than a king who rules outright, keeping the population in fear and maintaining a watchful (and paranoid!) eye over them from his telescope.
* In ''Videogame/SouthParkTheStickOfTruth'', Cartman plays the role of the [[MeaningfulName Grand Wizard]] of the King of Kupa Keep and leader of the human faction. He's not an actual wizard however, just playing the role of one.
* ''VideoGame/DisneysMagicalQuest'': Emperor Pete, the BigBad, is a Dark Lord with vast magical powers ruling from an imposing fortress.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* Xykon in ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' can be considered this as he's an EvilSorcerer, leads the nomadic goblins/hobgoblins and started the strip holed up in an impressive cavern system containing one of the lynchpins of the universe. [[spoiler:He recently became a more classical overlord when he conquered Azure City, though he's reluctant to just sit there and rule it in typical overlord fashion.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Razikale of ''Roleplay/ToRule'' is patron both the magics and the sciences.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation]]
* The Queen of the Crown in ''WesternAnimation/AdventuresOfTheGalaxyRangers''.
* Mozenrath in ''WesternAnimation/AladdinTheSeries'' is the perfect example of this. He is the ruler of the land of the black sand, he has powerful magic, and his schemes usually involve conquest or becoming more powerful in some way to facilitate said conquest. Aladdin fits the role of the muscle bound protagonist with his, as Iago put it, "two fisted ways." In this particular example, the sorcerous overlord and the musclebound protagonist sort of form a yin yang. Mozenrath is not completely incapable of defending himself in a physical confrontation, and Aladdin has the Genie and his magic to help him. The reason for this might be due to WordOfGod stating that the original plot of the third Aladdin movie was to reveal that Mozenrath was Aladdin's brother.
* In ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'', [[RealityWarper Discord]] served as this during [[TheDarkTimes Equestria's early history]] before [[BigGood Princesses]] [[TheHighQueen Celestia]] and [[TheSacredDarkness Luna]] [[SealedEvilInACan defeated him]]. The Royal Sisters in question both serve as the unambiguously ''good'' version this for Equestria most of the time, using their magic to [[PaintingTheFrostOnWindows raise the sun and moon]], and generally make life good for their subjects.
** Shortly prior to [[FallenAngel Luna's fall into darkness]], [[spoiler: [[EvilOverlord King Sombra]] imposed [[TheDarkTimes an evil reign]] upon [[CrystalSpiresAndTogas the Crystal]] [[ShiningCity Empire]], based around [[SlaveRace the enslavement]] [[SugarApocalypse of its entire population]], by becoming immensely powerful through the use of BlackMagic. The traps in [[OrcusOnHisThrone the castle he once occupied]] still hold great potency one thousand years later, and when he attempts to return, his evil magic has so consumed his nature that he takes the form of an [[AdvancingWallOfDoom advancing, disembodied force]] [[MadeOfEvil of malevolence]].]]
* ''WesternAnimation/HeManAndTheMastersOfTheUniverse1983'': Skeletor - similar set up to Thulsa Doom - big guy with loincloth and sword fights weird villain with powers that vary DependingOnTheWriter.
* Every villain in ThundarrTheBarbarian. As if a character with [[BarbarianHero that]] epithet was going to face anything else.
* Prince Phobos from WesternAnimation/{{WITCH}}. Unlike many of these examples, though, his primary opponents are ''also'' magic-users.
* Master Cyclonis from ''WesternAnimation/StormHawks''.
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