Election Day Episode
An election day episodenote is one in which an election is the focus of the episode. In many countries around the world, people have the opportunity to influence those responsible for governing them via the ballot box. Given that this is a part of life, it nonetheless shows up in works of fiction occasionally. Election day episodes usually focus on one, two, or more main and/or recurring characters pursuing a bid for some elective office, though sometimes the focus can be reversed to focus on potential voters dilemma as to who they believe to be most qualified for office. Election day episodes will sometimes end in a Dark Horse Victory if the Victor is a write-in candidate or in the case of an Underdog Victory. Compare and Contrast with All Elections Are Serious Business, with which this trope can possibly overlap, particularly in more humorous takes. If you're looking for tropes related to news collections of actual elections, find it at Election Night.
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Anime and Manga
- Hunter × Hunter, by Yoshihiro Togashi, has not only an episode, but an entire Story Arc devoted to the Election of Chairman of the Hunter's Association. It shows off a very interesting power struggle, even the most good and honest characters are forced to retort to morally ambiguous tactics in order to increase their popularity, every movement (even the fights)is calculated to get more voters and support, and the masses are constantly swayed away by the candidates' showy propaganda, pompous speeches and shady promises instead of their actual arguments or background. And, for the most prominent characters, the election ends up being another game to test their skills against each other.
- YuYu Hakusho, also by Togashi, features a story arc that invokes this. While this isn't an election in a conventional sense (as there are no ballots of any kind cast), but the Tournament for the Kingship of Demon world is referred to by Yusuke Urameshi as being a "Presidential election where we cast our votes with our fists".
- #1 of the 2011 Alpha Flight series is set during the Canadian Federal Election. The winning party is the fictional Unity Party, whose leader quickly turns out to be Prime Minister Evil.
- DC Universe: Decisions was a 2008 miniseries in which the Justice League of America and other superheroes got involved in the US Presidential Election, initially to protect the candidates from an assassin but inevitably their own political viewpoints were revealed and several of them ended up endorsing rival candidates. (Except Superman; Clark even refused to discuss how he voted with Lois.)
- Bob Roberts is about a cynical right-wing faux populist folk singer running for Senate.
- The Campaign: This is one of the central tropes of this movie. A congressman plagued by a sex scandal is running for re-election against his hometown's bumbling tourism director.
- The Candidate is a 1972 satire about political campaigns, centering around Robert Redford as an idealistic underdog Senate candidate who starts moderating his message when he figures out he has a chance to win.
- Citizen Kane: While not the main focus of the film, but nonetheless playing an important part of the overall story is Charles Kane's unsuccessful campaign for Governor of New York.
- The Dark Horse is about a hapless dolt that gets nominated to be Governor basically by accident, and all the cynical campaign operatives that are trying to get him elected.
- Election is about a Fille Fatale teen Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) running for student class president, and the teacher (Matthew Broderick) who hates Tracy so much that he recruits a football player to run against her.
- Two chapters of the first of The Green Hornet Serials focused on the election of a new mayor. (Specifically, on how the crooks were rigging the election to get their candidate into office.)
- The Ides of March: An ongoing Presidential Election is the backdrop of this drama as Stephen Meyers (played by Ryan Gosling) works on the campaign of Mike Morris (played by George Clooney).
- Most of Shampoo is set on November 4, 1968, when Richard Nixon was first elected President.
- Swing Vote: Bud Johnson (played by Kevin Costner) through an unusual set of circumstances is force to recast an illegible ballot that will break the tie for New Mexico's Electoral Votes and by extension decide the Presidential election.
- Welcome To Mooseport: A movie that features a race for Mayor of Mooseport, Maine between a former President of the United States (played by Gene Hackman) and a hardware store owner (played by Ray Romano).
- All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren, which has been adapted into two films (in 1949 and 2006), focuses on Willie Stark's campaigns for Governor and his subsequent terms in office.
- Two short stories by Isaac Asimov:
- "Franchise" is about presidential "elections" which consist of a single person being questioned by a supercomputer to determine the average disposition of the USA citizens.
- "Evidence", the penultimate story in the I, Robot collection, is about a candidate for mayor who is suspected of being a Ridiculously Human Robot.
- The Casual Vacancy centers around an election to replace a member of the local council who died of a sudden aneurysm at a critical and controversial point in his term.
- Dark Horse, a 1972 novel by Fletcher Knebel. Eddie Quinn, an obscure New Jersey highway official, is tabbed to be the emergency nominee of the Republican Party when the previous nominee suddenly dies three weeks before the election. Quinn, who is nominated essentially as a placeholder, comes out with a bold set of radical proposals which horrify party kingmakers—and send him shooting up in the polls, with a real chance of a Dark Horse Victory.
- The Bruce Sterling novel Distraction stars the head of a would-be Senator's campaign crew. As they travel through the collapsing wreckage of the U.S., their biggest challenge is finding anyone who still cares that there's a Federal Government, let alone who's in charge of it.
- The Last Hurrah is about an elderly mayor running for re-election one last time, with the story focusing on the changing face of political campaigns following the New Deal and the rise of television advertising.
- The People's Choice by Jeff Greenfield is a novel of the election after the election. The winner of a Presidential election dies two days after the November vote. When his dimwitted Vice President Who running mate chooses an even more dimwitted friend to be his vice president, the members of the Electoral College, who cast the actual votes to elect the President in December, realize they can elect anyone they want. Chaos ensues.
- Harry Harrison's The Stainless Steel Rat For President deals with the Rat and his family being sent to interfere in the internal affairs of a planet which is set up as the Expy of a corrupt South American Banana Republic. The President for Life has been The Generalissimo for over two hundred years, thanks to longevity drugs and immortality treatment. Jim diGriz is ordered to unseat him and to replace him with a more honest successor. What follows is an election campaign as crooked, dishonest and utterly bent as anything ever seen anywhere. Including Florida.
- In the Ted E Bear book "Christmas Comes to Monster Mountain", Dracula is up for reelection, and he kidnaps Santa Claus as part of his campaign, leaving Ted himself with the business of Saving Christmas. This story, along with Ted E.'s Thanksgiving, was adapted into a low-budget special by DimenMark, as covered by Platypus Comix here.
- Crops up on occasion in the works of P. G. Wodehouse, with various Upper Class Twits running for public office, usually with disastrous results. (Two prime examples are the novel Much Obliged, Jeeves and the Ukridge short story "The Long Arm of Looney Coote".)
Live Action TV
- The Andy Griffith Show: Sheriff Andy Taylor was in the process of moving to another county to apply for a job, thus meaning he would have to relinquish his position as Sheriff of Mayberry. Deputy Barney Fife decided to run in the election to succeed him, but then unexpectedly Taylor decided against moving and choose to stay in Mayberry and keep his job. Thus Fife and Taylor were pitted against each other and Hilarity Ensues.
- Ballot Monkeys is a topical satire show running in the weeks prior to the May 2015 general election in Great Britain. It follows four hopeful would-be MP's, two representing the big parties (plus a Liberal and a UKIP candidate), as they go about the hustings, and mercilessly sends up both the parties and an electoral mechanism which seems as far removed from democracy as it's possible to get.
- Barney Miller has a couple of episodes revolving around elections.
- In an early episode from November 1976, taking place on election day, an arrestee insists on using his right to vote so Wojo takes him to the polls, where he escapes. In a subplot Inveterate Gambler Nick is torn between who to bet on winning (Ford or Carter).
- In a later episode Inspector Luger goes around trying to get people to vote for a firend of his. The only thing that anyone remembers is that he was involved in a political scandal, and the best that Luger can come back with is "they never proved any of that."
- In one episode of the Sixties Batman television series, the Penguin runs for Mayor of Gotham against Incumbent Mayor John Linseed, who in turn runs as the running mate of Batman. Linseed in turn returns as Mayor following Batman's successful election and subsequent resignation at the end of the episode.
- An election, an attempt to rig it, and how the discovery of a new planet tips the balance form the core of the Battlestar Galactica season 2 finale "Lay Down Your Burdens".
- Benson, which takes place in the Governor's mansion, naturally has one of these every four years or so.
- In the first season Taylor runs for office and loses quite badly.
- In the last season Benson is running for Governor because the current Governor is constitutionally enjoined from seeking another term. But then a loophole appears and he decides to run as an independent. The last episode of the series ends on a cliffhanger as the Governor and Benson sit together watching the election results come in.
- The last three episodes of season three surround the Governor's reelection. The first of the three involves the Governor trying (and failing) to secure his party's nomination. The second has them take a trip to the Gatling family lumber mill and Benson convincing him to run as an independent. The third shows the election itself. (Considering the show lasts four more years, it's not hard to guess who wins.)
- The fourth and fifth episodes of season six revolve around an emergency election for lieutenant governor who was impeached in the season premiere. The two candidates are Benson and Senator Tyler. Needless to say, Benson wins.
- The first episode of Blackadder the Third ("Dish and Dishonesty") is about a by-election in an obscure rotten borough that Blackadder and the Prince Regent manage to gain control over. The election itself is presented as a parody of modern election coverage, with an appearance by Vincent Hanna as "his own great-great-great-grandfather" reporting out of the window. [[spoiler: Baldrick is elected thanks to shameless ballot stuffing by sole voter and returning officer E. Blackadder.
- The Brady Bunch had "Vote for Brady", where Greg and Marcia compete for class president.
- Community had an episode ("Intro to Political Science") in which an emergency election is held for class president for the Vice President's visit. The candidates are two women seeking to promote their issues, two men who enter specifically to antagonize those women, a drug dealer who later drops out to focus on that career, a party animal whose statements consist solely of his Catch Phrase, a cantankerous old man who's openly antagonistic of the voters, and a guy who was nominated by accident. After a series of death threats, petty arguments, and embarrassing secrets, the winner is eventually chosen: South Park.
- The main storyline has idealistic Annie running for office, while cynical Jeff enters to show her what a hollow sham politics is - his campaign is all spouting feel-good platitudes and he roars to the lead. Annie ends up taking the low road by presenting an Old Shame video of Jeff trying out for MTV's "The Real World" dressed up as George Michael.
- In Dan For Mayor Dan is a slacker who decides to run for mayor of the city of Wessex in order to impress an ex-girlfriend. The incumbent mayor is extremely popular so Dan does not stand a chance until the mayor fails to Look Both Ways and is killed by a bus. The rest of the first season shows Dan trying to run a serious election campaign while trying to put his person life in order.
- Hey Vern, It's Ernest!: In "Holidays," Ernest decides to enter the record books by celebrating all of the major holidays in one day; when it comes time to celebrate Election Day, Ernest heads off to the voting booth... or, rather, step into his shower in lieu of a voting booth.
- Leverage: "The San Lorenzo Job" has the team go to that country to make sure a new president is elected, so they can see that Arc Villain Damien Moroue is put away for good. To that end, they install themselves as the opposing candidate's campaign team, and run a series of Blatant Lies as political ads, then on election day they release information to make the entire country think they won, to the point that even if the president does come out with more votes, everyone will think it was rigged.
- Life With Derek had an episode where Casey uses her stepbrother Derek as a puppet to run for school office and get the "cool" vote while enacting her ideas. Their friend ends up winning as a write-in instead.
- The Murdoch Mysteries episode "Election Day" is set during the 1902 Ontario Provincial Election, with the culmination of the storyline about one of Julia's friends being a suffragist candidate, and electoral fraud leading to murder.
- Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide to School Elections had Ned running for class president, albeit a bit against his will because he thought it was just a popularity contest. In the end, the school's resident runaway weasel is elected , but a number of Ned's friends win the "lesser" positions because they were running unopposed, and thus have the real power to enact some of Ned's campaign promises like more time outdoors.
- One episode of Night Court revolves around a local election which Dan was participating in. A fire forces everyone to take shelter in the morgue. After they're rescued, it's revealed that Dan initially lost the election, but this became a tie shortly afterward due to an uncounted vote. This leads to a second example.
- Radio Enfer. The episode "L'école en campagne" is about Jean-Lou running for First Cycle President because he always liked election campaigns. He loses at the end, but decides to run for class president.
- Sesame Street: The Season 15 finale sees "No Electioneering" signs plastered all over the street, as Big Bird learns that David and Olivia are off to the voting booths because it's Election Day. David and Olivia explain to Big Bird that people vote for who they want to run in certain offices in the government, so Big Bird and Snuffy decide they want to vote too, but they can't because they're not old enough to register to vote (and because Snuffy was still "imaginary" at the time).
- Smallville has the class president election as its main focus in "Drone", and several episodes in season five revolving around the senatorial election, coming to a conclusion in "Reckoning".
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The episode "The Collaborator" had Major Kira get involved in the Bajorans election of the next Kai to lead their people.
- The Suite Life of Zack and Cody had brothers Zack and Cody running against each other for student council. Cody wanted position because he loves politics and wanted to make a difference, while Zack wanted a free trip to Washington that came with the job. After Zack teams up with London to buy the election, it becomes a contest over who can be the most showy.
- That's So Raven had an episode where Chelsea runs for class president because the school is literally falling apart and she wants to make a difference. Raven has a vision Chelsea won't win, and does everything she can to prevent her vision from becoming true.
- The West Wing naturally made a big deal of the re-election of President Bartlett in season 4, and the election of his successor in the final season, with election-day episodes ending long campaign-trail story arcs.
- The Wire has Season 4's "Margin of Error," centering in large part on the Democratic primary race for Mayor of Baltimore City, including the campaigning and game-playing in both the Carcetti and Royce camps. Somewhat unusually, it extends out into other areas, showing the impact of the election on the police (specifically, how Kima and another detective are forced to serve as uniformed officers for a day to monitor the polls so that they can't complete their investigation of a politically sensitive murder before the election) and the street (with Randy being given money to distribute flyers for a candidate).
- Wizards of Waverly Place had an episode where Zeke runs against Justin for student body president in an attempt to become more independent from Justin. Justin is almost thrown out the race because he's blamed for a school prank involving an abundance of his campaign advertisements.
- On WKRP in Cincinnati episode "Carlson for President", Carlson runs for city council, and then, after accidentally letting slip an embarrassing secret about another candidate, sabotages himself so he doesn't win because of it.
- Government Procedural show Veep ends its fourth season with "Election Night", in which protagonist Selina Meyer and her opponent Senator O'Brien are locked in a down-to-the-wire battle for the presidency.
- In a Peanuts story arc, Linus campaigns for class president, with Charlie Brown as his running mate. At the very end, however, Linus blows the election by mentioning the Great Pumpkin in his final campaign speech.
- In Doonesbury, Joanie's friend Ginny Slade ran for congress as a school project, challenging the district's Democratic incumbent. Ginny got crushed in the primary, and when her independent race ran out of money, she threw her support to Republican Lacey Davenport, who won.
- In New Dynamic English, there is a two-part topic about elections: one about tax policy and the other one about the Representative of Congress, which Kathy (and Larry) can't vote because they live in Washington DC.
- The climax of Abe Lincoln in Illinois comes when Lincoln and his inner circle sit around at campaign headquarters monitoring the returns on Election Night 1860.
- The third chapter of Highborn averts the No Campaign for the Wicked trope in two ways: the "bad guys" are the playable faction for the chapter, and the Arch-Lich in charge of them is running an election campaign. It comes complete with dragons kissing babies during a rally for their candidate.
- Some political simulation games (such as the Political Machine series and Democracy trilogy) are based entirely around this trope.
- Steve D'Monster : In "May the Best Monster Win," Steve decides he wants to not only be the next President of the U.S. of A., but also to be the first Monster President in history, and begins campaigning, even bringing Easter Egg in as his running mate. note
- In the Welcome to Night Vale episode "Old Oak Doors", the B-Plot is the resolution of the ongoing mayoral election between the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home and Hiram McDaniels, who is literally a five headed dragon.
- The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius had Cindy and Jimmy face off against each other for class president. They both cheat, so the election is given to Bolby the weird new foreign exchange student.
- The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 episode "Princess Toadstool for President". Princess Toadstool and King Koopa campaign against each other for leadership of the Mushroom Kingdom. Cheatsy and Kooky cheat by giving Koopa a Nice Guy potion but their plan is foiled by the Mario Bros. Unsurprisingly, the princess wins in a landslide.
- Alvin and the Chipmunks: In "May the Best Chipmunk Win," Alvin is running for school president, with absolutely no competition whatsoever; that is, until The Chipettes enroll at their school, and Brittany decides to run against Alvin in an attempt to gain popularity. Things really get sticky when they're tied in the polls and it turns out Jeanette has the deciding vote.
- Bugs Bunny decides to formally oppose Yosemite Sam in a bid for public office in the 1951 short Ballot Box Bunny, directed by Friz Freleng. Neither wins.
- Doug features the episode "Doug Runs", in which Doug campaigns for class treasurer against Willie White (one of Roger's goons). This runs in parallel with Mrs. Dink running for mayor against Willie's Authority in Name Only father. In the end, Mrs. Dink becomes mayor, and Doug and Willie lose the school election to Skeeter's uncle Dan Freebird (whose campaign material for city treasurer Skeeter attempted to repurpose for Doug's campaign).
- One episode of Ed, Edd n Eddy has the kids hold an election for "king of the cul-de-sac", with Plank and Eddy as the main candidates.
- The Fairly OddParents had the episode "Hail to the Chief" where Timmy runs against co-student council presidents Tad and Chad. In a twist Timmy wins but hates being president, so he intentionally gets himself impeached.
- In the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "Setting a President", Frankie challenges Mr. Herriman for the position of house manager, and they hold an election. Bloo briefly posts himself as a candidate (mostly for the attention), and after coming last on the polls, becomes Herriman's campaign manager.
- In the Futurama episode "A Head in the Polls", Richard Nixon runs for Earth President using a robot body (initially Bender's) and wins. "Decision 3012" is about another Earth President election, this time with Nixon running against a competent canidate of mysterious origins.
- Hey Arnold!: Marty Green, a butcher shop owner, angry at the fact that his councilman was failing to do things to help the community he represented (such as failing to get funds to repair and repave roads which had massive potholes) and spent more time golfing than working on legislation, decided to oppose him in the upcoming election. Green won.
- Invader Zim has an election day episode, after the actual class president goes crazy in front of the class. Zim wants to win the election because of the power that it would imply (never mind it's just an school election) and Dib wants to stop him because... well, it's his job, and his school life would suck with Zim in charge. He can't win because he's not popular, so he helps a secondary candidate. Dib succeeds in making Zim lose, but it turns out that the school just lobotomizes the election's winner to do the school's bidding, so in the end Zim thanks Dib for saving his life.
- King of the Hill: Subverted in one episode. Hank Hill was unsatisfied with some laws passed by the Arlen city council and thus decided to run for a seat on the council, but when he went to file for his campaign he was informed that there had been a vacancy and thus won by default.
- In The Little Rascals episode "Alfalfa for President", Alfalfa and Waldo run competing campaigns for class president at their school.
- The Powerpuff Girls. Mayor began campaigning for re-election, though Miss Bellum said he was wasting his time since nobody was running against him... that is, until Fuzzy Lumpkins gets elected simply by yelling, "Shut up!" at Mayor for repeatedly proclaiming, "Vote for Mayor for mayor! Vote for Mayor for mayor!" and it catches on to the citizens of Townsville. After Fuzzy literally turns the mayoral office into a pig stye, Miss Bellum and the Powerpuff Girls work to help the disgraced Mayor get his job back.
- The Proud Family: Penny Proud in one episode makes a campaign to win an election as student body president running against Wizard Kelly's (who is an In-Universe major celebrity) son. Penny has some difficulty in the campaign (such as being three points behind... undecided) in which one of her friends (who is also working on her campaign) went so far as to orchestrate a Watergate-style break-in.
- The Simpsons: One episode ("E Pluribus Wiggum") focused on the Springfield 2008 Presidential Primaries.
- The South Park episode "Douche and Turd" is about an election for a new school mascot after an Animal Wrongs Group "frees" their original cow mascot. The two candidates are a "giant douche" and a "turd sandwich". The episode concludes that in every election, the choice is between a douche and a turd.
- Simon Bar Sinister, the principal nemesis of Underdog, disperses treated feathers across the entire United States, keeping every American rolling on the ground laughing on Election Day. Only Simon and his henchman, Cad Lackey, are coherent enough to cast votes, electing Simon as United States Dictator by a total of two votes.
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