aka: Bait And Switch Umbridge
This is a common subversion of Tyrant Takes the Helm
. It occurs when a character who at first appeared to be a tyrant actually turns out to be a pretty decent person or at the very least someone with a few good qualities
. In this case, the other characters will eventually quit rebelling against their new leader and try to adapt to the new management style.
When the Tyrant's methods really are as onerous as they seem at first but get results
that the underlings love, expect them to make satisfying the hardass a point of pride and brag about it to those with less rigid leaders.
Given enough Character Development
, the Bait And Switch Tyrant may soften up or even develop an odd friendship with the rest of the cast; even when his onerous ways get good results he may discover that some of them are unnecessary, or relax them for special occasions.
It is not unknown for him to criticize his predecessor harshly — how else could all his subordinates be so bad? — in order to get them to straighten up.
When this occurs in a TV series, it will usually be done to introduce the new boss. Therefore, the Bait And Switch Tyrant may become a regular as opposed to when a Tyrant Takes the Helm
; the tyrant is almost always intended for only a single episode or Story Arc
Note this only applies to characters who redeem themselves while in power. If their redemption occurs once they are no longer in power, it's Break the Haughty
. Compare Depending on the Writer
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- In ...Virgin Love, Kaoru and Chiharu both overwork their subordinates when they want to get things done, but are liked for the fact that they are effective and work equally hard. Kaoru specifically often takes responsibility for mistakes that his subordinates make, for which they are grateful.
- In Chu- Bra!!, Tsukamoto-sensei finally is shown in this light. She does appreciate underwear, she just didn't comfortable with the idea of such young girls showing their underwear in public. Given the characters' ages, it is quite justified.
- Ben Daimio from the Hellboy comics is a double Bait and Switch Tyrant: While he is a competent leader who eventually earns the respect—even friendship!— of most of his team, it later turns out he was possessed by an evil Jaguar spirit the whole time. He eventually loses control of it and kills several people.
Live Action TV
- Star Trek: The Next Generation, when Captain Edward Jellico is given command of the Enterprise while Picard and some of the senior staff are sent on a Black Op. This starts out looking like a Tyrant Takes the Helm plot when he immediately starts to change everyone's duty roster until they can barely see straight, tells Troi to put on a uniform instead of parading around in her lavender bunny suit note , tells off Riker when he tries to question one of his orders, and demands that someone "get rid of the damned fish" in Picard's office. But Jellico then goes on to prove himself to be just as good as Picard when he sees through several layers of Cardassian deception, tricks the Cardassian fleet into a minefield, and gets Picard out of a prison camp in exchange for letting the fleet go. By the time he does go back to his old ship, half the crew wonders if they might want to go with him. (And Troi never wears her old costume again for the rest of the series.)
- Picard himself seemed like this very briefly, especially compared to the more rough and tumble style of command favored by Kirk. He downright frightened Riker, demanding that he perform a needlessly difficult maneuver and raising questions about insubordination before the audience discovers that he was actually testing Riker's competence and character—and Riker had passed with flying colors.
- Assistant Director Skinner on The X-Files.
- Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock. He starts off changing the name of Liz's show and drastically "retooling" it to increase its demographic appeal. It's arguable how much he's "improved" since then, but he seems to have grown on the other characters somewhat. (Also, the show seemed to have run out of Tyrant Takes the Helm plots for him after the first couple of episodes.) In later seasons his mentoring seems to be the only thing keeping Liz sane and thus keeping the cast and writers from going off the deep end.
- He actually states outright in the first episode that some of the changes are just for the sake of establishing dominance by putting "his mark" on things.
- Dr. Mildred Finch on NUMB3RS. At first Charlie resents the changes she makes, but she generally has good reasons. She can be pushy, but she's a decent person and a competent administrator. And when she turns her supposed "pushiness" against people who are trying to take advantage or hurt Charlie, it turns into a moment of awesome, everytime.
- General Hammond on Stargate SG-1. One of his first acts was to try to blow up an inhabited planet. It wasn't long before he was downright fluffy, though. At one point, when SG-1 has been captured by Hathor, he personally flies second seat in a special Goa'uld Death Glider to free them.
- Although not a leader, Rodney Mckay is an interesting example: he never develops beyond Jerkass in his first appearance, but gets Character Development in his second and eventually became a heroic figure on Stargate Atlantis.
- A uniquely interesting example is Richard Woolsey, an Obstructive Bureaucrat who was first seen on SG-1; he waltzes in with his rulebook and starts annoying the hell out of everyone. But repeated brushes with Senator Kinsey show him that something is seriously wrong with the Senator. He then visits General Hammond and takes Magic Floppy Disk full of Blackmail material on Senator Kinsey. He then gives the disk to The President, who uses it to fire Kinsey. His departing speech to The President is: "I also hope history one day shows that I tried to do the right thing." He is essentially, the one who finally brought Kinsey down.
- He eventually shows up again in Atlantis - still trying to push his rulebook for the greater good. He starts annoying people again almost immediately, despite generally having good intentions. When he replaced Carter as the leader, this turned into awkwardness, because the crew was not used to someone so "bureaucrat-like". He soon learned to not only trust rules, however. While still being uptight, he shows a heart of gold on multiple occasions and even gets his own badass moment, when negotiating with replicators.
- When Sheppard's team is captured and tried for "crimes" against the people of the Pegasus Galaxy, Woolsey personally goes to negotiate with the captors about their release, feeling himself in his element.
- Kevin "Ug" Lee from Salute Your Shorts: Though his initial speech to the campers makes it clear that he's trying to be a hard-ass, it quickly becomes apparent that the guy is just trying to keep his job by enforcing rather reasonable rules (albeit with hilariously draconian punishments).
- Colonel Sherman T. Potter on Mash. He was significantly more strict than his predecessor Henry Blake, but he loosened up as the series went along.
- His first episode has Hawkeye and B.J. worried about how bad he'll be, and hard-nosed hypocrite Frank Burns absent for other reasons. Colonel Potter does many things they'd feared, including making Klinger change out of his normal cross-dressing attire into an actual uniform. By the time Burns comes back, eager to see a hard-nosed military man like he'd heard about, Potter is drinking in the Swamp and complimenting Klinger on his fashion sense.
- Speaker of the House Glenallen Walken in The West Wing, who temporarily became Acting President when Bartlet's daughter Zoey was kidnapped, is arguably one of these; although a conservative Republican whom the Democratic staffers of the West Wing feared was going to take over and force a Republican agenda through whilst he had the chance, Walken had no intention of exploiting Bartlet's personal tragedy for political gain (for sound political reasons as well as the obvious humane one, being well aware of how it could backfire and make him seem callous). He also proved to be a competent and effective Commander-in-Chief (which, ironically, also made the Democrats wary of him, since people might not want him to leave) and, despite his political differences with Bartlet and the staff, a reasonably amiable and gracious man.
- His only real beef with the existing White House staff comes when he suggests naming a new Vice President. They go berserk (in a well-mannered fashion), saying that he's only a stand-in and has no right to make that kind of decision. They're afraid that if he tries to push it through, such a candidate would be confirmed by the Republican-controlled Congress and the rest of Bartlet's term would have an opposing V.P. who'd be even worse to work with than John Hoynes. In response, Walken asks, rather reasonably, what would happen if he died in office? He's a very large man; what if he had a heart attack while eating his chocolate-covered steak? It would be a Constitutional crisis, which he wants to prevent by continuing with business as usual and assuming that Bartlet's sabbatical will be fairly long-term. In the end, after reviewing the hardcore conservative list of possible V.P.s that Republican congressional leaders prepared for him, Walken backs down on the idea, not wanting to go through with the very scheme that the White House is accusing him of perpetuating.
- Incidentally, this is what led to the show's famous Jumping the Shark. Many of the fans wanted to see Walken to stay on longer and go through a full Story Arc, seeing for himself what the weight of the Presidency feels like. Hints of this are seen when he asks 'his' secretary, "So when do we get to the fun stuff?" in a half-joking manner, and she simply looks at him as if to say, "What fun stuff?". Him backing down from that look is probably his best moment. But then Zoey is rescued, hugs and kisses and high-fives all around, and Bartlet comes back into office riding the Mood Whiplash. Very disappointing, though understandable, as it was unlikely that the show's already overextended budget could support John Goodman for more than the occasional cameo episode.
- Several attendings on medical shows like ER, Scrubs or even Grey's Anatomy. Examples include Perry Cox (though in his case there's already a slight "reveal" on the pilot), Kerry Weaver (although YMMV on how friendly she becomes with the staff before she gets demoted), Robert Romano (who never becomes a friend of his subordinates anyway), Bob Kelso, etc.
- Subverted on Scrubs with Dr. Maddox, Kelso's replacement. At first the team hopes she will be like Kelso, tough on the outside because she has to be in order to run the hospital efficiently. It becomes clear pretty quick that she truly enjoys being evil.
- Shirley Schmidt from Boston Legal certainly applies. In her first appearance, she seems rather unpleasant to all involved, then quickly lightened up. In the fourth season, John Larroquette's character, Sack, did the same thing, threatening to fire Clarence because of his cross dressing, but, by the end of the episode, he changed his ways.
- In the second season of She Spies, a type of Charlie's Angels modern ripoff, the new boss presents himself as A Tryant Taking The Helm, claiming the girl's previous boss, the charismatic Jack, was too soft on them. He must've get softer too, but nobody was watching anymore.
- In The Sarah Jane Adventures Season Two, Haresh Chandra is introduced in this manner to suggest that he will be the show's equivalent of Principal Snyder in Buffy or maybe even the Monster of the Week in human form. But he's actually just the new regular character's dad.
- Director Leon Vance from NCIS first came in to oversee an internal affairs investigation against the previous director, Jenny Shepard, and later took over after Shepard's death. For starters he broke up Gibbs' team, sending them all to different locations which made him seem like a regular dictatorial manager. Later episodes, however, suggested ulterior (better) motives for his actions and that he, while more strict than his predecessors, is basically an okay guy.
- Gibbs himself may come across as a hard-lining nutbuster to outsiders, the audience, or even members of his team sometimes, but then we see that he truly cares about his team, and accepts nothing but the best from them because he believes them to be the best.
- Charles Miner in The Office is an unusual case, as for all intents and purposes he fills the usual Tyrant Taking The Helm role. However, it's actually just because he's a competent and no-nonsense manager, and the Dunder-Mifflin staff aren't used to having a boss who expects them to do their jobs responsibly after working for the spineless Michael Scott for years.
- It doesn't help that Jim and Michael are basically the main viewpoint characters and they're generally treated very poorly by Miner.
- This is a copy of the original Office, where Neil from Swindon becomes the new boss and is essentially a hard working yet fun loving guy, who Brent resents because he is everything he would like to be.
- Lizzi in Greek...but only to Casey, whom she steers towards a way to return Frannie to the house and thus eliminate her.
- Inverted with Lynn McGill in the fifth season of 24; nobody at CTU likes him at first for his strictness, but he wasn't necessarily a tyrant. They began to like him starting at around the point when he was the only one to recognize Jack Bauer's duress code "Flank-Two Position". He eventually becomes such a tyrant however, the cast remove him from command. Ultimately he sacrifices his own life to re-secure the CTU facility after it had been contaminated by the Sentox VX nerve gas. Though it should be noted, it was his fault the CTU facility was attacked in the first place.
- Inspector Thatcher from Due South, introduced in season two as Fraser's new boss with an inexplicable hatred for him, who even (briefly, apparently) fires him when he makes a well-reasoned defense of his uniform choices. However, she eventually starts getting wrapped up in Fraser's cases herself and gets a few Big Damn Heroes moments as well as a scorching hot Will They or Won't They? with Fraser.
- Scott Sherwood on Remember WENN.
- Criminal Minds' Erin Strauss has pretty much been vilified in the fandom for seeming to be trying to get rid of Aaron Hotchner. However, if you look past this potential motive, it actually seems like she's just trying to do what is best for the team. For example, in "100", she leads the team around in questioning so that she gets answers that will ensure that Hotchner is not fired (or arrested) for beating George Foyett to death.
- Babylon 5:
- Captain John Sheridan in the first few episodes season 2: The alien ambassadors don't like him, many of the crew doesn't trust him, the Minbari hate him, but about half a season later, he has earned their trust so much that some of them would even die for him. Very, very intentional from Straczynski, as he knew for a fact that the viewers would have about the same reaction. At the same time, this trope is downplayed with Commander Ivanova being thrilled to see him, having served with him previously on Mars.
General Hague: "(President Santiago) knew that if anything ever happened to him, President Clark would appoint some hard-nosed jarhead to run this place. Well, we both know you're not that, but from your record, you look like that. If Clark and his friends think you're one of them, they'll leave you alone, which is what we need."
- Just before Sheridan's arrival, Ivanova's Captain's Log gives us the impression that she has been this to the various alien officials who were accustomed to Commander Sinclair's soft-spoken approach, with an elevator full of shouting officials being cowed into silence when Ivanova loses her temper.
- Done again in Season 5 with the introduction of Captain Lochley. Just as was mentioned in the description, one of the first things she does upon taking command is to criticize Sheridan's apparently "sloppy" management of the station.
- Of course, it's later revealed that she still has some personal issues with Sheridan, namely that she was his first wife for all of 3 months.
- Colonel Butts from Space: Above and Beyond, who takes over the squad for a classified mission in the fifth episode. He initially comes off as a nasty man and picks fights with almost everyone, but once the squad reaches their destination, he confesses that, while he had always been somewhat cruel, the Survivors Guilt from watching his own team get wiped out had been a large part of why he acted the way he did. He ultimately sacrifices himself to take out enemy units that were able to pass dangerously close to a black hole before they could strike.
- A good majority of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation fans cringed when Conrad Ecklie, day shift supervisor and smug rival to Gil Grissom, was promoted to Assistant Director in Season 5. Politically-inclined, more interested in his own advancement than on the actual cases, he enjoyed a brief season as a true tyrant when he split the graveyard shift team and demoted his own investigator, Sophia Curtis, to work under Grissom. But at the end of season, he rallied his efforts to help Grissom rescue Nick Stokes from a kidnapper, and from that point on he became a trustworthy and dependable, if not quite friendly, ally. Several seasons and another promotion later, and he comes off as more of a Reasonable Authority Figure, while a Retcon explained the shift in character by revealing that he was gradually recovering from a drinking problem and a nasty divorce.
- He gets a couple moments before the season finale too - get him away from the lab and into public relations and he might actually do some good. Like this scene: after Catherine had a memory card of evidence stolen and had the "pleasure" of sweating it out while Ecklie grilled her, the stolen pictures turn up on the news.
Ecklie: "I'll have our public information officer contact his counterpart at the station. We'll also call Judge Anderson and get a warrant for the memory card, any copies, and the name of their source."
Catherine: (surprised) "Thank you, Conrad."
Ecklie: "It's my job."
- Lane Pryce of Mad Men comes in at the beginning of Season 3 as the hated representative of Sterling Cooper's new British overlords, Putnam, Powell, and Lowe. PPL's vision for Sterling Cooper clashes at times with that of Roger Sterling and Don Draper, and in any case Pryce is responsible for making painful cutbacks and changes. He is naturally not very popular at first. By the end of Season 3, he's realized that he'll be sidelined by PPL (who are selling Sterling Cooper to advertising Mega Corp. McCann Ericksonnote ) and joins Sterling, Cooper, and Draper in starting an entirely new agency: Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.
- Pryce is extremely competent in managing the firm's finances and curbing the excesses of the executives. Since the other partners are staunch capitalists they quickly appreciate how much money he is saving them. When business gets bad he is the one who keeps the firm afloat and everyone realizes this. When Lane's personal financial troubles (involving the Inland Revenue) drive him to embezzlement and then suicide, both the characters and the fans were sincerely saddened.
- Sports Night : Sam Donovan. As the new ratings consultant, he arrives suddenly and makes changes to the show while seeming to have no respect for the producers and on-air talent. But he quickly proves that his no-nonsense tactics are about making the show better, not abusing his own power. Then, when he succeeds, the network execs offer him Isaac Jaffe's job and he not only turns them down flat but warns in no uncertain terms never to disrespect Isaac again.
- Cam Saroyan on Bones began this way, threatening to fire Brennan for the first few episodes after she was introduced whenever Brennan would get upset about the new rules. However, she found middle ground over time and became a valued member of the team without letting the team forget that she is still in charge.
- JAG: This is the initial perception of the new Judge Advocate General of the Navy, Major General Gordon Cresswell, in the tenth season of JAG from the perspective of the main characters.
- The team on NCIS: Los Angeles gets placed under the supervision of an NCIS assistant director, Granger, after they collectively defy orders to save Hetty. He starts out acting like an Obstructive Bureaucrat but soon reveals he cares for them in his own way and is a former spook himself.
- Oleg on The Americans is the middle-management version. He's introduced in season two as a fool who only got his job in the KGB due to nepotism, and is a threat to Double Agent Nina's honeypot on FBI agent Stan. Then, over the course of the season, he's revealed to be genuinely smart, good at his job, and when he uses his family influence to get in on Nina's work, he follows up by helping her start to turn Stan.
- Sue Sylvester on Glee during her short-lived tenure as Principal. Normally an unrepentant Jerkass, she proves a surprisingly fair-minded principal who protects Kurt from Karofsky's bullying and resigns when Karofsky's allowed back in school.
- In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000: Gaunt's Ghosts novel Honour Guard, Commissar Viktor Hark is assigned to the Ghosts with the express purpose of seeing to Gaunt's removal from command and clashes with him repeatedly on matters of authority. He later proves himself to be a competent and charismatic leader, as well as a good shot with his plasma pistol, and ends up joining the Ghosts at the end to serve as one of Gaunt's go-to people when there's a problem that needs to be deal with.
- In Discworld, Vetinari is represented at first as a tyrant, but in the later books it is shown that he only has the well being of the city at heart (whether the city likes it or not is a different issue altogether).
- Note that this in no way prevents him from being a tyrant (and even referring to himself as one). His job security lies mainly in the fact that he runs the city with such an iron fist that it'd fall apart in a week if he got assassinated.
- The Miles Vorkosigan novel Brothers in Arms has Duv Galeni, who seems at first to be obstructing Miles and then later outright framing him. Miles thinks he's acting out of a desire for vengeance - Galeni's family were strongly tied to the Komarran resistance and were all killed in the revolts, while Miles' father is often (wrongly) blamed for the massacre that started it. While Galeni is indeed kind of stuffy and humorless, he's also both competent and loyal, and isn't behind the frame-up; it's actually a plot by Galeni's Not Quite Dead father and Miles' clone brother. And Galeni's so serious about his job precisely because he's supposed to be a poster child for Barrayaran-Komarran rapprochement.
- In Watership Down, the rabbits of Efrafa who like Woundwort (namely the officers and the other higher-ups) consider him one of these. The rank and file are either quietly sullen or too beaten down to care.
- Woundwort, despite his defeat and unconfirmed death, ends becoming a Memetic Badass to all the rabbit descendants in both warrens.
- Piers Anthony's Xanth series features "Evil Magician Trent" who, when he becomes the only known possible choice for king, proves himself such a capable ruler he becomes known as "Good King Trent".
- It's also made fairly clear when he comes into focus that the "Evil Magician" title was a political one — he was evil because he wasn't supporting the current ruler.
- Also happens when Magician Murphy temporarily takes the throne in Isle of View. He was evil at one point, but is now The Atoner (hence why he was put in charge), and the other characters are surprised that he does a good job.
- In the first Ciaphas Cain novel "For The Emperor" Kasteen, Brocklaw, and the rest of the 296/301st imagine and fear that Ciaphas is going to be the typical tyrannical Commissarnote . They quickly take to him though when they realise he isn't.
- Arguably, Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. While the Voldemort takeover of the magical world leads to a harsh regime (for the non-Slytherins, at least), the fact that Mudbloods and Mugglelovers are there at all suggests he was able to protect them somewhat.
- In Jack Campbell's The Lost Fleet series, once the naval forces get over their reaction to John Geary as the King in the Mountain, they resent the changes he makes, from insisting on saluting to making them fight in formation and stay in place even when they could win glory by attacking. At one point, he explicitly thinks that they thought that Black Jack could come back and save them all without changing anything.
- In Codex Alera, Aquitainus Attis turns out to be this.
- In Warbreaker, God-King Susebron turns out to not only be not a bad guy, but he's also not even in charge. When he takes charge, he turns out to be the Big Good, if anything.
- Bhelen from Dragon Age: Origins qualifies for this trope, at least to a degree. Bhelen's rise to power is typical of The Evil Prince: in the Dwarf Noble origin, he successfully arranges to have one sibling killed and the other sent off to the Deep Roads. When his father dies from grief, Bhelen attempts to bring the Assembly in line with blackmail and fraud. If actually put on the throne, he extends greater freedom to the casteless and opens Orzammar up to trade. He isn't completely benevolent, however: his first act as king is to eliminate all of his political rivals, including having one entire house (potentially dozens of people) killed off for opposing him. Most of his opponents oppose him more as a threat to their horrible and self-destructive traditions more than anything; for example, his intention to marry his casteless lover (the Dwarf commoner's sister no less) is used against him as political propaganda.
- In Tales of the Questor, Elder merchant Gilder begins as a bad tempered and seemingly petty leader — but was revealed later to be a character sincerely looking out for the best interests of his home village.
- To a lesser degree, the local merchant is a grasping opportunist selling questionable goods with a unrepentant smile, but when he pulls Quentyn over for a chat, he has some honestly good advice about how the hero should bargain for the items he is undertaking his grand quest for. Mind you, he's doing this to sell a ton of cheap magic items as "trade goods," but Quentyn concedes his general counsel is on the money.
- Norma, the new manager of the titular Multiplex, turns out to be less unsympathetic than she originally comes across.
- Turns out to be the case with The Nostalgia Critic in the Chick's Transformers-Bratz arc. He tranquilizes her and locks her in his basement to make her watch the latter movie, but it transpires that he just wanted her to be proud of herself for being able to sit through it. Aww? Aww.
- In Max Steel and the Mutant Menace, Faron Ferro, Jefferson Smith's replacement as Max's boss, begins as an aggressive control freak whose attitude collides with Max's free spirit, but they get along after having some words during a training session.
- In the Anniversary (and final) episode of The Powerpuff Girls, Mojo Jojo finally manages to Take Over the World, and immediately makes it a better place.
- And leaves out of boredom.
- In the bible stories episode of The Simpsons - David (Bart) kills Goliath II (Nelson) but his triumph is short lived when it turns out the people really liked Goliath, who built schools and roads. David is arrested.
- Except Bart/David wasn't the one who actually killed Nelson/Goliath.
- In Green Lantern: The Animated Series episode Steam Lantern, Hal is knocked into a universe where the Anti Monitor has destroyed all but one world which is ruled by a man who appears to be a stereotypical Evil Overlord. At the end of the episode, it's revealed the guy wasn't trying to be evil, he was trying to protect the people of the world and his robots had gone overboard in their duties. He realizes his mistake in the end, shuts down his robots, and helps the bring his world into Hal's universe.
- This happens in real life, too. Managers are often under a lot of pressure from their superiors to prove themselves when they first start a new assignment, plus a little bit of performance anxiety with an untested group of underlings they've never met before can make "by the book" pretty appealing. As they become more comfortable with the job and the people around them they loosen up because then they know what to expect and who they are working with.
- As a matter of fact, many people get concerned when a manager seems too nice on the first day as this might mean A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing.
- Peisistratos was an Athenian tyrant after Solon, but only a tyrant in so much as he siezed power by force, then becoming a benevolant ruler. Greeks didn't associate the word tyrant with a malevolant ruler.