Emperor Scientist

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach, ruler of Europa, and dedicated researcher into the nature of the Spark (which he also has).

When the Mad Scientist gains enough knowledge of technology, genetics, or the innermost workings of the laws of the universe, as they sometimes do, and the ambition to go along with it, they sometimes go ahead and act on it, unleashing hordes of genetically engineered beings created according to their own designs of a perfect form of life, Super Soldiers created and trained by them, reality-bending physics projects, or other such means of takeover, and thus become The Emperor. The Emperor Scientist is born.

It's important to note that not all Emperor Scientists are Evil Overlords working their way on up towards becoming the next Galactic Conqueror or Dimension Lord. At least one out of every three you'll see will usually be a Reasonable Authority Figure, or at least a Well-Intentioned Extremist (or Knight Templar....or Dark Messiah) presiding over an empire that, while it still may be....well....Imperial (meaning it may not quite be The Kingdom)...is not evil, but instead does what it has to do to ensure the Advancement and Prosperity of Human Civilization. In rare cases, he may even be a benevolent and pacifistic ruler, which would make him a Philosopher King.

Emperor Scientists can commonly be found hanging about in various types of Post-Apocalyptic, Schizo Tech, Future Badass, and Used Future worlds, where they will typically be the guy (or gal) in charge of one of the two warring factions that tend to be battling it out over what's left of those sorts of places. Bonus points if it was their superscience that actually caused The Cataclysm, either indirectly or unintentionally, or directly and intentionally. If their empire survives long enough to win the war and become an Empire, then they'll likely get their title changed to "God Emperor of X", where X is something very grandiose like "Mankind", "Earth", "the Galaxy", or even "the Universe". Expect them to become immortal by this point, if they weren't already. May make the jump (but may not) to actual A God Am I territory, using their superscience to partially ascend to a higher plane of existence while still keeping enough of their physical form around to be visible to their subjects.

Like their less ambitious cousin the Badass Bookworm, the Emperor Scientist can trend towards Sueism, especially of the Canon Sue, Marty Stu, and God-Mode Sue varieties. Authority Equals Asskicking means they'll often qualify as a Genius Bruiser. That doesn't have to be a bad thing, though, if it provides a cool, legendary central character to build a universe around.

As a final reminder, this trope applies where a character attains supreme power through their superior knowledge or The Spark of Genius. Literal Emperors who also happen to be scientists (and there have been a couple) are Royals Who Actually Do Something.

Technocracy is the Real Life equivalent.

Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Dessler from Space Battleship Yamato. He actually designed those weapons named after himself.
  • Perhaps the archetypal example, Jung Zorndyke from Blue Submarine No. 6, who flooded the world because he believed Humans Are the Real Monsters and engineered a bunch of sentient sea creatures to inherit the Earth.
  • Lordgenome from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann genetically engineered the Beastmen and other strange creatures that populate the surface of the planet to generate no spiral energy (thus avoiding the wrath of the anti-Spirals) while still being powerful enough to keep the humans in their subterranean villages.
  • Code Geass: Charles zi Britannia. At least, by the standards of science set in the show, since he seemed to have spent a great deal of time working on the Sword of Akasha, and had a near-complete understanding of the Applied Phlebotinum found in the show. His (technically older) brother V.V. is a much straighter example. He's the head of the Geass directorate which studies geass and would have been emperor if he hadn't received a Code when he was a kid. Since we know so little of their pasts, however, the extent to which their understanding of the show's technology and Applied Phlebotinum allowed them to come to power in the first place is up for debate. Advanced Knightmare Frames and a desire to get ahold of the precursors' Lost Technology definitely played a big role in their conquest of over one third of the world, however.
  • Caesar from Return of the Overfiend.

    Comic Books 
  • Subverted in the original Buck Rogers comics. It turns out the Yellow Peril villain he'd been fighting was actually a nice guy who'd just got caught up in his scientific pursuits & left the running of his kingdom to corrupt advisors.
  • Definitely the Archie-Sonic the Hedgehog incarnation of Warlord Julian Kintobor, AKA Dr. Ivo Robotnik. The whole "turn everyone into mindless robots" thing...
  • In one issue of Superman, a potential future is shown where Lex Luthor continually lives on through cloned bodies of himself and embarks on an endless war of conquest of the galaxy/universe.
  • The High Evolutionary in the Marvel Universe created a race by forced evolution of animals and called them New Men. Then he created an entire planet, Counter-Earth, where they could live. Then he evolved himself into a godlike being and outgrew this trope.
  • In Les Légendaires, the Big Bad Darkhell is hinted to have been this in the country of Shiar: the only army he ever used for his world-conquest projects was mostly made of creatures he Maginetically engeneered himself. Even his own daughter Tenebris is later revealed to have been conceived through his magic.
  • In the first Micronauts comic series, the main villain, Baron Karza, was originally Chief Scientist of a benevolently ruled Microverse. He slaughtered the ruling family (except for Princess Mari) and ruled with an iron fist for a thousand years.

    Fanfiction 
  • A Spark Of Genius: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer, DC Universe and Girl Genius crossover has Xander, thats right Xander become the ruler of Romania which he rapidly turns it into the leading scientific nation which all began with the infamous 'Halloween episode' turning him into the son of Agatha Heteordyne and Gilgamesh Wulfenbach, son of the man in the picture above.

    Film - Animated 
  • The King of Siam in The King and I prefers to think of himself as a "modern king" and spends much time experimenting with Western technology, such as hot air balloons.

    Film - Live Action 
  • Then there's a rare female example from Sax Rohmer's The Million Eyes Of Sumuru. The scientifically-savvy title character wants to eliminate love and control an Empire where women are in charge.
  • The Big Bad from the second Heroic Trio film fit this trope as a mad scientist taking over Hong Kong using his scientific intellect.

    Literature 
  • Dune:
    • Leto Atreides II has actually become the God-Emperor of the Universe to carry on with a gigantic genetic breeding experiment.
    • Before him, Dr. Kynes became leader of the Fremen because of his attempts to terraform the planet.
    • The cymek titans, philosopher kings and scientists, particularly ones that dealt with robotics, cybernetics, and artificial intelligence.
    • Though not canon, the prequels state that one former Padishah Emperor, working under a false name, was an accomplished chemist that discovered the properties that made Spice so important. The original books state it was a chemist working for that emperor, so it all depends what you want to believe.
    • Muad'dib himself was known as the Mentat Emperor. Considering he was the prophesied Kwisatz Haderach, this isn't surprising. Subverted in that ultimate trajectory of events was beyond even his control, and he knew it.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Mage Wars trilogy has both types: the evil Ma'ar, creator of the makaar, and the benevolent Urtho, creator of the gryphons (who regard him as an almost godlike being who created them as an improvement over all other sentients)
  • In The Island of Doctor Moreau, Dr. Moreau rules over an island full of Uplifted Animals that he created through mad science. This was about 60 years before the discovery of DNA made the idea of "genetic engineering" a thing; he accomplished his bio-engineering feats entirely through surgery.
  • The Risen Emperor of Succession invented a form of Immortality to save his dying sister, and leveraged this into becoming God Emperor of eighty worlds.
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a carnival barker from Nebraska, comes off as a Sufficiently Advanced Alien in isolated Oz and becomes its absolute ruler through his knowledge of stagecraft and showmanship.
  • The Eternal Emperor of the Sten series. A brilliant engineer, his twin discoveries of the super-efficient power source Anti-Matter Two and the means of obtaining immortality allowed him to become ruler of the known Universe for thousands of years.
  • In Hannu Rajaniemi's The Quantum Thief the seven Sobornost Founders are implied to have been the first group of scientists who figured out human mind uploading and quantum entanglement, and realized that this puts them above any corporation or government on Earth in terms of power if they keep it for themselves. By the time of the book is set in they rule most of the inner Solar System.
  • In the New Jedi Order, the Supreme Overlord of the Yuuzhan Vong is ideally supposed to excel at the areas of all the major Vong castes, including the Shapers, and the current Supreme Overlord, Shimrra, frequently indicates that yes, he is a skilled Mad Scientist. Except that Shimrra is a mind-controlled shell. The Man Behind the Man is the Mad Scientist.
  • Justinian in Belisarius Series is a subversion. He is a scientist and he is an Emperor, but he became emperor by ordinary means of political scheming and his scientific side was just a hobby until the war with the Malwa made him put his mind to new military technology.

    Live Action TV 
  • Rassilon, who basically made the people of Gallifrey into the Time Lords. An impressive scientist even by immortal standards, he found time to invent a bewildering number of absurdly advanced technological artifacts. Also had a bit of an ego and may have been into kidnapping beings from across space and time to fight in games for his amusement. Subsequent indolence in Time Lord society may have been a deliberate effort to curb the potential of individual members of their race from also becoming Emperor Scientist types.
    • In the Expanded Universe Rassilon comes across as a more villainous figure, with it being heavily implied he was behind the accident that left his friend Omega trapped in a black hole. In Big Finish Doctor Who he is a massive Evilutionary Biologist, stealing the power of regeneration from the peaceful Vampires and preventing any race evolving that could threaten the Time Lords by imprisoning them in another Universe.
  • The Rani set herself up as the ruler of an entire planet just so she'd have an endless supply of test subjects.
  • The Master, who is of the same race as Rassilon and the Rani, took over the Earth by using mind-altering satellites to will the British populace into making him Prime Minister. He was also responsible for the massive Airborne Aircraft Carrier over the Atlantic as his base of operations, and created a paradox machine that allowed humans from the far future to conquer their ancestors in the 21st century.
  • In "Robot", Helena Winters is trying to become one of these. She's a blue-sky researcher who wants to reform the world based on scientific principles, which means Putting on the Reich, murdering people with a robot and trying to start a nuclear war.
  • Stargate Verse:
    • The Goa'uld Omnidisciplinary Scientist Anubis and Stargate expert Ba'al also started out as scientists before ascending to the role of God Emperor.
    • In Stargate Atlantis, the commanders and scientists of the Wraith are usually the same people (always at least the same caste); most prominently, recurring Big Bad Michael and recurring Lovable Traitor Todd, both of whom had great skill in genetic manipulation. (The Wraith are normally ruled by a Queen, but the Queen of Todd's Hive died and Michael created his own armies from scratch.)
    • Todd also has extensive knowledge of nanite programming, which is amazing considering the last time they had to do that was 10,000 years ago. Then again, the Wraith have a Hive Mind of sorts that allows one to tap into the collective psychic network. It's possible that this knowledge rests there.
  • Walternate in Fringe is on the way there. He is the US Secretary of Defense and appears to have nigh-unlimited authority. While his goal is not world domination, it is world destruction, just not his world. He's also just as brilliant as Walter.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: Annorax in the "Year of Hell" two-parter. Somewhat of an inversion, as Annorax is not interested in conquest but merely re-writing reality to bring back his dead civilization (and wife). His myopic vision blinds him to the consequences of his action, causing a downward spiral where he's nuking entire planets left and right. He also commands his own nomadic battle cruiser and has a fanatical crew, similar to Nero from the Trek reboot movie.

    Music 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40K:
    • While he may also be lots of other things (Dark Messiah, Crystal Dragon Jesus, etc), it is made clear in no uncertain terms that The God Emperor of Mankind was, during his lifetime on Terra, first and foremost a scientist who spent his time laboring away in the vaults beneath the planet building space marine genetics, creating his "children", etc, and that this was the source of his great power. Seriously. Read those Horus Heresy art books.
    • Technically, the Fabricator-General of Mars also counts as this since he rules the Adeptus Mechanicus, which is pretty much a self-contained, semicutonomous political entity within the Imperium and is only part of it by treaty. They are mostly left to self-govern by the other branches of Imperial government, even the Inquisition, since without the Mechanicus everyone else in the Imperium would quickly lose any ability to maintain a technological society.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Yawgmoth was a sadistic biologist who believed in reaching immortality through cybernetic implants. His people eventually caught on to his plots and sent him through a portal to the plane of Phyrexia. Over the centuries, Yawgmoth morphed Phyrexia into his own ideal of paradise and became its Dimension Lord. He did later try to take over his birth plane, Dominaria, but failed.
    • Before becoming a Planeswalker, Urza married the Princess Kayla bin Kroog and was appointed Lord High Artificer of the kingdom, eventually restructuring the military to revolve around war machines, then later appointed Protector of the Realm over Argive and Korlis after the Fallaji conquered Kroog. Meanwhile, his brother Mishra used his mechanical expertise (and his Weakstone artifact) to usurp control of the Fallaji tribe that had enslaved him, and then unite all the tribes into a kingdom.
  • Malachite from Champions; a super-intelligent genetic experiment Gone Horribly Right who sets himself up as ruler of the Malachite Isles and uses them as a base for his plans of world conquest.

    Toys 

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VI:
    • King Edgar Figaro is a Gadgeteer Genius who created the technology which allows the castle to travel underground besides other things.
    • Final Fantasy IX:
      • Regent Cid is the regent of Lindblum, one of the biggest and most powerful kingdoms in the game. He also possesses a brilliant mind for engineering, being heavily involved in the creation of groundbreaking new airship technology, despite the fact that he has been transformed into an oglop (small, annoying creatures, similar to vermin) and later a frog And this transformation isn't because of an evil curse or experiment gone wrong. It's because his wife caught him with another woman.
      • On the darker side of this trope, there's Garland: the de facto ruler of all Terra, he's also a powerful mage and an innovative scientist; by the time you meet him, he's successfully created an entire species of soulless drones and planted an organic siphon-refinery on Gaia to slowly vaccuum Gaia's soul-cycle away. And then there's his greatest creations, his Angels of Death. Kuja and Zidane.
  • Emperor Solomon Petresun from the Tribes video game series was originally a scientist who invented Cybrids, fought them into nigh extinction when they Turned Against Their Masters, made himself immortal for that purpose, and eventually took over the Earth to protect it from the Cybrid's imminent revenge. It should be noted that the above example is a retcon that first appeared in the manual to Starsiege; none of the previous games (Earthsiege, it's expansion or sequel, or Missionforce Cyberstorm) mentioned the Emperor at all.
  • The Pig King in Mother 3 has aspects of an Emperor Scientist despite not being a scientist at all, and just stealing all of his technology from the aliens in the previous game and/or having Dr. Andonuts do the work for him.
  • Count Raum from Primal for the PS2.
    "He may be a vampire, sadist, and mass murderer but he's also quite the scientist by the look of things." - Scree
  • The Cybran Nation in Supreme Commander is apparently ruled by Gustav Brackman (now a Brain in a Jar ), inventor of the symbiotic AI technology that defines his people. He's the least imperial of the setting's rulers, though.
  • Andrew Ryan from BioShock, the "greatest electrical engineer of our generation" and "the bloody king of Rapture"
  • Fallout: New Vegas:
    • Robert House, autocratic ruler of New Vegas, Insufferable Genius, and a a bit of a chessmaster as well. Prior to the war, he was one of the world's richest men, with his fortune entirely self-made through his inventions. He's also the main reason why the city and the surrounding areas survived the war relatively intact, as he anticipated the exact day of the impending nuclear apocalypse and spent over a decade of his life on planning for the event and its aftermath.
    • The Think Tank of the Big Mountain facility from the Old World Blues DLC are this, being a collection of mad scientists who survived the Great War by preserving their brains in jars. Most of the Mojave's resident Goddamn Bats are the result of their experiments, having escaped the facility.
    • The Courier, if played with High Intelligence and maxed out skill in Science, in the Wild Card Ending and at the end of Old World Blues. Bad Karma Couriers play this straight, while Good Karma Couriers are a mixture between a more benevolent version of this and a Science Hero.
  • Emperor Andross from the Star Fox games, who invented all kinds of crazy warships and bio-weapons to conquer the Lylat system, and incidentally turned himself into a giant brain for some reason.
  • Dr. Edward Bilstein of Star Gladiator definitely qualifies for this. Once the top physicist for the Earth Fedearation who was responsible for the discovery of Plasma Power, Bilstein was later arrested and exiled from Earth after it was discovered that he was experiminenting on various human bodies in order to further his Plasma Power research. Breaking out of prison while placing himself into a cyborg body and gathering a cadre of fighters and forces, Bilstein had soon declared himself the emperor of his organization, known as The Fourth Empire, and that he now seeks galactic domination of the universe while continuing his Mad Scientist experiments.
  • Dr. Weil from Mega Man Zero may have initially been a mad scientist, but via various plans and Chessmaster moves that landed himself as ruler of Neo Arcadia, he became a full blown Emperor Scientist. However, he has more interest in making everyone suffer a fate far worse than death than actually ruling over people.
  • By Resident Evil 5, Albert Wesker has set his sights on this. Already a capable scientist, he decided to exterminate most of mankind, sparing only genetically superior individuals with himself as their ruler.
  • Kastore and three companions in Might and Magic VII play a small version of this in that game (leveraging their superior scientific knowledge into becoming advisors to King Archibald, then leveraging that position to usurping the throne of Deyja), and had plans of becoming a full-scale version. Canonically, their plan failed and they never showed up again, but they were originally going to pull off the initial phase and become enough of a threat through Ancient-level science that the good guys has to resort to a magical doomsday weapon to stop them. Their 'Forge' town caused a massive Internet Backdraft, however, so that plan was abandoned.
  • Mao from Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice effectively becomes this. The Netherworld he lives in is one gigantic demon school called Evil Academy, his father is both Overlord and Dean, and he inherits these titles by the game's end. Unlike his father, however, Mao is a Mad Scientist whose idea of dealing with a defeated enemy is to drag them off to his lab for vivisection.
  • Grandmaster Meio from Strider appeared over Earth one day and took over a futuristic Soviet Union. He then led russian research teams into manufacturing weapons and machines such as a gravity-control computer to which take over the other half of the world, while researching the mysteries of Creating Life on the side for ulterior motives. In Strider 2, he also dables in genetic engineering to perfect his human race.
  • In Crusader Kings, the Learning Focus can lead to a character becoming this; especially if they build an observatory and come up with a heliocentric theory of the universe centuries before Copernicus. Of course Crusader Kings taking place when it does, the potential wrath of religious authorities and zealots may force the character in question to keep their discoveries a secret: openly being a scientist may lead to a violent revocation of the emperor part.
  • Academician Prokhor Zakharov from Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, he's the leader of the University of Planet faction and believes that the key to human survival lies on science and technology. He values research over other unecessary things, like ethics.

    Webcomics 
  • Girl Genius:
    • Most governments in the GG 'verse are ruled by Emperor Scientists; small, independent technocracies seem most common, but even most of the known royals (such as Albia of Britain and the Storm King's line) are powerful Sparks. However, there are exceptions: the more traditionally noble "Fifty Families" still exert some power, but seem to be in decline as their bloodlines peter out.
    • The foremost mad scientist and ruler in Europe is the image provider, Baron Klaus Wulfenbach. However, Klaus laments that the "Emperor" part of the job description leaves him with very little time for the "Scientist" bit. There is always an uppity petty noble with a new killbot somewhere, who needs smacking down. However, due to the fact that his usual adversaries are truly nasty megalomaniac sparks, his normally highly barbaric and mutilative research into the nature of the Spark becomes merely morally questionable when he uses such defeated enemies as test subjects.
  • Emperor Nicholas the Puissant from the Negaverse in the General Protection Fault webcomic. Conquered the earth (and at least one alien race) through a combination of Hollywood Hacking, reality-bending inventions, mind-control drugs, and sheer ruthlessness.
  • In a Sluggy Freelance Alternate Universe "His Masterness" appears to be one of these. In the main universe, Dr. Steve and Dr. Schlock have this as their long term goal.
  • The wizard emperor Brian Souballo, from Our Little Adventure. He implemented the process of transferring the Cosmic Lifestrand into clones grown in laboratories known as 'Training Facilities.' He has some powerful wizard lackeys who know how to use the machines but its shown that Brian or Angelo may be the only ones who truly knows how the process works.
  • Plush And Blood: Doctor Brown takes over 80% of the entire world, using a peace-oriented political party and lots and lots of brainwashing. Unfortunately for him, two mercenaries decided they didn't want to live in a world where everyone drowns in liquid that destroys their free will, so they supernuke his capital city.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Justice League:
    • Vandal Savage. In the "The Savage Time", he builds a Time Machine and sends technology and information to his past self. Past-Vandal then uses this knowledge to take control of Nazi Germany, design crazy war machines, and win World War II.
    • From the same show, Chronos becomes one, also via Time Travel, ruling over future!Gotham (and possibly the world, it's not certain) with a gang of cybernetic Jokerz as his enforcers.
  • Pinky and the Brain: The Brain, a genetically enhanced super-genius laboratory mouse, comes up with a scheme to take over the world and become this Once an Episode.
  • Princess Bubblegum of Adventure Time created a kingdom for herself by converting biomass into candy citizens.

    Real Life 
  • Angela Merkel was a former research scientist with a doctorate in physical chemistry, but nowadays is the current Chancellor of Germany and therefore the de facto head of Government of the European Union, to the point that the EU had been called the "Merkelreich". She doesn't actually use her chemistry knowledge directly in leading Europe, but her scientific background and rigorous mindset are widely credited with the steady, judicious, cautious leadership style that has made her the most popular German Chancellor in recent memory—and also the most powerful person in Europe, and one of the most powerful (and the most powerful woman) in the world.
  • Emperor Akihito of Japan, in the field of Ichthyology.
  • Peter the Great did not exactly use science to get power, but he used his knowledge and understanding of mathematics, engineering and construction to create an efficient technical and scientific education system, build a modern fleet, and modernize industry. He even approved and edited foreign textbooks for publication by himself.
  • Rama IV of Thailand, better known to the West as King Mongkut or the king from The King and I, is actually known as "The Father of Science and Technology". He refined geography and astronomy most of all, and actually died from malaria caught when he ventured out to see a solar eclipse.
  • While not necessarily a singular example, the overwhelming majority of Chinese leadership are trained as engineers and scientists.
  • While many monarchs have been interested in the sciences, Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, was known to actually do research, or at least what passed for research in 13th-century Europe, and included that in his attitude towards ruling. He famously ran an experiment in which children were to be raised with no language (to see which one was the "original" language), although that didn't pan out. He also dabbled in astronomy, medicine, zoology, and anatomy, sometimes in experiments crueler than the language one (e.g.: taking two condemned prisoners, feeding them, having one run around and hunt and the other stay in bed, and then after executing them, examining their guts to see whether exercise or rest accelerated digestion). He also did the usual monarchical sponsoring of the sciences, including founding a university (in Napoli; it has since been renamed in his honor). Frederick also had an unshakeable faith in reason and distrust in magic that led him to ban trial by combat (believing that the stronger party would always win, contrary to Church doctrine holding that God would cause the "right" party to win) and doctors filling their own prescriptions (as a safeguard against quackery) that we today would regard as...well...scientific. Also, he was constantly fighting wars to secure and expand his territory—and put The Pope in his place. Suffice it to say, although Frederick might not have been this, he probably would have been this if he had the technological base.


Alternative Title(s):

Technocracy