"All I hear from you, you spineless cowards, is how poor you are; how you can't afford my taxes, my protection. Yet somehow, you all managed to find the money to hire a professional gunfighter to kill me. Where's all this money coming from? What am I to think? If ya got so much to spare, I'm just gonna have to take some more off ya. Because clearly some of you haven't got the message! This is my town! If you live to see the dawn, it's because I allow it! I'm in charge of everything! I decide who lives or who dies!"
Someone who holds disproportionate power over an area, by way of wealth
or political connection
. Could be a government official, a criminal or just a rich guy, but for all intents and purposes they own the town. Frequently, but it should be noted, not always
a villain or antagonist character.
Common holders of the honour are:
See also Corrupt Hick
, Feudal Overlord
. Particularly flagrant examples may be an Egopolis
Not to be confused with Taking Over the Town
, which involves regular (if particularly ambitious) criminals wreaking havoc within the town, not running it.
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Anime and Manga
- Wilson Fisk, The Kingpin of Crime, remained the ruler of New York's criminal underground for a long time.
- In The DCU, Lex Luthor was this in post-Crisis Metropolis before Superman arrived.
- The Big Screwed Up Roark Family are the de facto rulers of Sin City. (Except for Old Town, where Goldie and Wendy are the true rulers.) The city also has two "normal" criminal syndicates, the Wallenquists and the Magliozzi, but while both are hinted to be powerful, they aren't enough to challenge the Roarks.
- In Kingdom Come, Bruce Wayne/Batman has done a positive version of this to Gotham City.
- In Don Rosa's story "A Little Something Special", Scrooge McDuck is said to own 99.9% of all lands and businesses in Duckburg and yet, he never even tried to tell the Mayor how to do his work.
- "Big Jim" Rennie of Under the Dome.
- Black Jack McGinty in The Valley Of Fear. When his most Ax-Crazy subordinate questions one of his decisions, he tells him to wait and see if he loses his seat on the city council, which sounds very akin to "when hell freezes over".
Live Action TV
- The Dukes of Hazzard: Boss Hogg is Hazzard County commisioner, but he acts more like Hazzard is his personal fiefdom. The only other local authority figures we meet are the sheriff and his deputies, all of whom are in Hogg's pocket. No one ever runs against him for commissioner (or against Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane for sheriff).
- In the Leverage episode "The Bank Shot Job", the villain is a corrupt judge who effectively owns a small town in the California desert.
- The twisted [adult swim] miniseries The Heart She Holler concerns the town of "HeartShe Holler" and its dead autocrat mayor, and his feral son (who becomes mayor as his inheritance). The dead father continues to manipulate the town through a series of eerily accurate pre-taped messages.
- In Once Upon a Time, Rumplestitzkin (aka Mr. Gold) is clearly stated to own the town of Storybrooke and all its inhabitants through a cross of Batman Gambits and elaborate deals. Even the Evil Queen-turned-Mayor is in his back pocket.
- Mayor Wilkins on Buffy the Vampire Slayer has quite few Sunnydale people in his pocket, both human and nonhuman. He founded the town and was in the middle of a lot of the goings on before he was killed off.
- In Banshee crime kingpin Kai Proctor is stated to own or control every business of any importance in the town of Banshee.
- In Boardwalk Empire, county treasurer Nucky Thompson owns Atlantic City, as did the Commodore before him. Nucky venturing into organized crime makes him face dangerous challenges from newcomers but also gives him a stronger and unprecedented grip.
- Deadwood opens with rival pimps Al Swearengen and Cy Tolliver wrestling for this position, while Sheriff Bullock and other characters try to forge a more accountable system. In the second season, mining baron George Hearst arrives on the scene and soon proves to be a much more ruthless and better-resourced contender. The Downer Ending has him succeed utterly, successfully buying the elections for both Sheriff and Mayor for cronies of his and backing himself with a private army of Pinkerton agents.
- Patrick Tyneman in The Doctor Blake Mysteries; which goes some way to explaining why Lawson hates him so much.
- Invoked in All My Children: After he's acquitted for raping Bianca, Michael Cambias proceeds to gloat to everyone in hearing range that he "owns Pine Valley and everybody in it."
- President Shinra of Shinra Corporation in Final Fantasy VII pretty much owns Midgar. So much that he's turned the actual mayor's office into a powerless one.
- In Fallout 3, there's the Republic of Dave, where Dave is always elected president.
- In the Fallout series in general, this is the most common form of government when there's a government at all: the strongest local authority sets the rules and maintains order, often without any formal title beyond "mayor" or "sheriff," and sometimes not even that. Mr. House from Fallout: New Vegas is probably the purest example, ruling New Vegas with the power vested in him by a whole bunch of robots armed with machine guns.
- In Mass Effect 2, Aria T'Loak doesn't own Omega; she is Omega.
- In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, David Sarif essentially owns most of the public institutions in Detroit, to the point where a call from him can delay an entire SWAT team's assault on one of his buildings even when hostages are being killed. However, later on his clout seems to not be as big as he thought, as he cannot get access to the body of a hacker who attacked one of his buildings because Homeland Security (under Director Joseph Manderly) placed a lockdown on the police station whose morgue is holding the body.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, we have Maven Black-Briar of Riften, and Thongar Silver-Blood of Markarth. Maven ends up as Jarl if you're pro-Imperial, and likewise for Thongar if you're Stormcloak. Though, the Silver-Bloods' grip weakens somewhat if certain quests are taken in Markarth.
- The Umbrella Corporation in the Resident Evil series was the major employer of Raccoon City and had some form of control over anything of any importance.
- Parodied in Homestuck's Intermission. Spades Slick says he made the town that the Intermission takes place in. It's revealed that this was quite literal.
- In the pilot for Superman: The Animated Series, Lex Luthor tells Superman, "I own Metropolis. My technology built it, my will keeps it going, and nearly two-thirds of its people work for me whether they know it or not." Indeed, Lex continues to avoid paying for his crimes. It's not until the second season of Justice League that Superman finally takes him down.
- Batman: The Animated Series had a somewhat unusual treatment of this trope in one episode: at the start of the episode a young delinquent is seen proclaiming how he'll someday he'll own Gotham City. Most of the rest of the episode takes place in the present, where said delinquent is Arnold Stromwell, The Don who long held Gotham under his sway but whose family life and criminal empire are collapsing and is losing a round of Mob War with Rupert Thorne.
- Hurricanes: Stavros Garkos rules the Island of Garkos and has his brother enforce his rules.
- Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer: In a more benevolent example, Austin Bucks, the richest man in Cityville, owns almost all businesses there but never does anything unethical to reach his goals.
- Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja: Hannibal Mc Fist, he even outright stated he owns Norrisville