"My friends... you bow to no one."In many stories involving royalty (but particularly movies) there is a scene where someone is standing in a crowd of people. As part of a Moment of Awesome, and sometimes preceding an Awesome Moment of Crowning, the camera pulls back, and the entire crowd kneels before the character, moving in a pleasingly symmetrical wave as they do so. The character, who may have appeared minor seconds before, becomes the focus of the scene. This is usually because of one of two circumstances: either the character is a king, princess or someone else who should normally be knelt to, but in an unexpected situation; or the character is someone who would not normally be knelt to, but unexpectedly is. In the first instance, the character is a King Incognito who has just thrown off his disguise. In the second, the actual king may have humbled himself and bowed to the lowly hero who has just saved the kingdom. By courtesy, everyone else is forced to imitate the king and go along with it. Commonly in this case, an antagonist will also be forced to kneel to the hero, whom they have recently insulted. This trope is a very sharp contrast to Kneel Before Zod. Note: Beware of SPOILERS in the examples below!
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Anime & Manga
- The Twelve Kingdoms has the Crowning Moment Of Awesome when the main character Youko (who, for complicated reasons has been joining rebels that are theoretically rebelling against her) mounts her ki'rin (thus revealing herself as Empress) and the ENTIRE ARMY falls on its knees.
- Fushigi Yuugi
- King Nefertari Cobra in One Piece does this to thank the Straw Hat Pirates for saving Alabasta Kingdom and his daughter Vivi.
- King Riku gets two of these. The first is when his King Incognito disguise is shaken at the bottom of the trash heap where the fallen gladiators are discarded, and everyone around him, both gladiators and toys, bow before him. The second is atop the king's plateau during Doflamingo's game, when the distraught civilians, confused and not sure what to do (since their options are fight Doflamingo and his gang or turn in Riku and Doflamingo's other targets), bow to him, beg him to save them, and ask what they should do.
- At the end of the arc, Admiral Fujitora gets on his hands and knees and apologizes to Riku for Doflamingo using the Seven Warlords system to escape capture and take over the kingdom. What's more, he does this while a live video is being transmitted to other islands. In other words, one of the strongest fighters in the Navy, the World Government's prime military force, just admitted to the world that the government he works for royally screwed up.
- In the anime of Sailor Moon S, when Usagi/Moon defeats both Michiru/Neptune and Haruka/Uranus in fair combat as their last test, both stop attacking and respectfully kneel in front of her.
- In Fruits Basket, Kazuma Sohma kneels respectfully in front of Tohru Honda after she manages to bring Kyo back from both his despair and Painful Transformation, and ultimately carries his cat form in her arms and back home.
- Ginga Densetsu Weed: In the end, all the dogs bow before Weed after he defeated Hougen and his father said he surpassed him.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Chancellor Foster and all the students of North Academy bow to Chazz Princeton after he dethrones the Czar and becomes their best duelist.
- In Equestria: A History Revealed, during the Civil War flashback, Celestia does this to the crowd of ponies at Trottingham to apologize to them for her own failures.
- The Sailor Senshi do this to Nanoha (who in this story is the reincarnated Moon Princess) in White Devil of the Moon when they meet her for the first time as senshi. Hayate promptly snaps a picture for posterity and points out that princess or not, Nanoha's in military uniform at the time, so they should bow instead of kneel.
- At the end of The Elements of Harmony and the Savior of Worlds, Granny Bonnie and Faust the Scribe bow to Megan, Molly, and Danny for everything they've done for ponies. Later, everyone in Equestria were about to bow to them the same way everyone bows to the Hobbits in The Return of the King. But Megan will have none of that.
- At the end of the first book of The Elements of Friendship, when Queen Celestia shows up, Twilight and her friends bow to her. Celestia says they don't bow to her, and instead, she bows to them. The Canterlot nobles follow suit, though many of them are simply hoping to get Celestia's favor.
Films — Animation
- In Mulan, the Emperor bows to the heroine. The crowd hastily bows with him, and so does the slimy Obstructive Bureaucrat. Again, the music swells. Must feel pretty good for someone who has gone through the whole movie fearing and feeling she's not good enough. Doubles as both a heartwarming and awesome moment, as, just before that, Shan Yu had commanded the Emperor to Bow Before Zod, and the Emperor had calmly replied "No matter how the wind howls, the mountain cannot bow to it." That's right, folks, "the mountain" can not bow to the "howling wind", but it does bow to Fa Mulan.
- Happens in Kung Fu Panda twice. Once in a dream sequence at the beginning of the movie in which Po dreams he's such a legendary warrior that the greatest warriors in China, the Furious Five, bow in respect to him. Also happens in the endgame, when Po defeats the Big Bad and the Furious Five actually do bow to him and call him a Master.
- In Disney's The Sword in the Stone, Wart doesn't know what to make of the fact that everyone, including his belligerent foster father and stepbrother, are now kneeling to him.
- Wreck-It Ralph: The racers of "Sugar Rush" who were mean to Vanellope (not of their own doing) now go to their knees begging forgiveness when the game resets puts Vanellope as the game's ruling princess, much to her own surprise.
- In Joseph: King of Dreams, when Pharaoh renames Joseph "Zaphnath-Paneah" and puts him in charge of Egypt, Potiphar, Joseph's former master, conspicuously and gladly kneels to him.
Films — Live-Action
- In Peter Jackson's Return of the King film, Aragorn and Arwen (just crowned) kneel before the hobbits. All Minas Tirith immediately follows suit, the music swells, and as the camera pulls back, we see the four hobbits, standing in a mass of royalty and nobility... and they're the tallest ones there. Serves as the Trope Namer and the page picture.
- In Ever After, Danielle walks into the throne room, and everyone kneels, as the evil stepmother turns in rising horror...
- In most versions of Robin Hood, this occurs when King Richard reveals himself to the Merry Men.
- In The Princess Bride, Buttercup is the object of a mass kneel twice, though one was All Just a Dream, and one old crone does not kneel to protest her throwing away true love.
- At the end of The Chronicles of Riddick, the title character receives this treatment from the entire Necromonger army after killing the Lord Marshal. The reason: you keep what you kill.
- In Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Queen Amidala reveals herself and kneels before Boss Nass to ask for his support. Everyone in her party follows suit. Nass being who he is, he first laughs and then agrees to help her.
- A Knight's Tale involves an interesting non-literally-kneeling variation where Edward, the Black Prince of Wales, surprises the crowd by throwing off his cloak, frees William from the stocks and knights him in front of the crowd that was only moments before pelting William with rotten vegetables, all the while proclaiming that William is a man to be honored. Thus, the scene contains both variations all at once.
- The Wizard of Oz: "Hail to Dorothy! The Wicked Witch is dead!"
- In The Last Airbender, Aang describes to Katara and Sokka a ceremony where everyone bows to the new avatar as he takes on his new responsibilities. He was scared and ran away. After the battle at the north pole, everyone bows to him again, and while still scared, this time he accepts his role.
- In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn bows to Frodo and Sam at Cormallen during the honoring of the Ring-bearers. Aragorn also has Frodo and Gandalf bring him the crown as part of his coronation, to symbolize that it's only through Gandalf's wisdom and Frodo's courage that Aragorn has a crown to wear or a kingdom to rule. However, Frodo and Sam consider themselves loyal subjects of the King, Pippin is a knight, and Merry is a squire of Rohan.
- Happens in the second Daughter of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce: At the climax of the novel, everyone in the Balitang house kneels before Dove, the prophesied queen.
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians: In the first book of the series, Percy is just the new guy at Camp Half-Blood. When the campers start up a game of Capture The Flag, most of the enemy team gang up on him, since he's inexperienced. Percy stumbles into a nearby creek, and suddenly feels a surge of power, and fights them off, but is then set upon by a hellhound, who is quickly shot down by Percy's teammates. Poseidon then claims him as his son, which then causes everyone to kneel down in respect (grudging, from some).
Chiron: Stormbringer. Earthshaker. Lord of Horses. Hail, Perseus Jackson, Son of the Sea God.
- And then in the final book, The Last Olympian, Percy gets an honor guard as he exits Olympus.
- In the first book of The Kane Chronicles, Horus kneels to Carter and Sadie in gratitude, and all the other gods of Egypt follow along.
- At Play in the Fields of the Lord: The local Indians kneel before their messiah, the god Kisu, who happens to be the local Anti-Hero.
- Happens to the Lord Rahl in the Sword of Truth; it's called a Devotion. It doubles as a protection from Dream Walkers, if it's done earnestly. Also done at Devotion Squares in the People's Palace, symbolically to the Lord Rahl, when he isn't present. May also have some calming psychoactive effects when done for extended periods of time in those Devotion Squares. When Richard and Nathan Rahl switch off being the Lord Rahl so as to maintain the Bond that protects their people from Dream Walkers, this ensues repeatedly.
- From the Star Wars Expanded Universe:
- In Shatterpoint, when Mace Windu rescues several prisoners, one of them kowtows to him, calling him "Your Highness" and begging for the lives of his children. Mace tells him to knock it off, as Jedi are servants to ordinary people, not the other way around.
- Near the end of the Novelization of Revenge of the Sith, Yoda (having failed to defeat Palpatine) has a dialogue with the ghost of Qui-Gon Jinn, during which he acknowledges that Qui-Gon was always the superior Jedi. When offered the chance to learn the secret of true immortality, Yoda bows before Qui-Gon and becomes his apprentice.
- Game of Thrones: All the lords of the North bow before Robb to acclaim him King in the North.
- In the ninth season of Smallville Clark is subject to the second variety, ironically provoked by Major Zod.
- In Merlin, the powerful wizard Alator kneels before Merlin.
- Dominion: After Alex is revealed to be The Chosen One, he finds this happening to him repeatedly. He doesn't like it.
- Two instances of it on Charmed, when the "Frodo" is someone who is an acquaintance of the Charmed Sisters but they don't know that he's been promoted: An elf bows before Leo (when he has become a high-ranking Elder Whitelighter, but he hasn't told Piper about it yet. And several demons bow to Cole, when he has become the Source of All Evil, but this is still a secret from Paige and the other Charmed Ones.
- In the pilot of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Captain Picard personally gives Chief O'Brien a sendoff by beaming him to the station.
Myths & Religion
- The Ramayana: After the war against Ravana's forces is won and Sita is rescued, Rama calls his generals to his throne to receive reward for their bravery. However, when Hanuman walks towards the throne, Rama breaks into tears and tells him that no treasure in existence is valuable enough to reward Hanuman for his deeds.
- This trope's appearance in the Book of Esther chapter 6 makes this trope Older Than Feudalism. This case is an example of the second variety. The Evil Chancellor Haman is Hoist by His Own Petard -when asked by King Ahashuerus what to do to honor someone who has performed a service to the king, he thinks, "Who would the king wish to honor more than me!?" Turns out the king wishes to honor Mordechai the Jew, Haman's sworn enemy.
- In Legend of the Five Rings, a subversion of this occurs which is a crucial event in the history of the Emerald Empire. Shiba, a kami and divine son of the Sun and Moon, revealed his true identity to the people of Gisei Toshi. Instead of them paying their respects to him, Shiba himself knelt before their leader Isawa. This show of humility procured their help in defending the fledgling empire.
- Warhammer 40,000: During the Great Crusade, the Word Bearers were making a lot less progress than the other legions in conquering worlds due to their habit of building temples to the Emperor and trying to enforce his worship. The Emperor, who hoped to destroy Chaos by removing any and all forms of religion from the galaxy, not only had their temples and monuments razed, but forced the entire Legion to kneel before the Ultramarines. So when Lorgar heard about certain other gods who welcomed prayer and worship, he didn't need telling twice, and started off the events that would lead to the Horus Heresy, the Emperor becoming the God-Emperor very much against his will, and a good part of making 40K the happy fun place it's so well known to be.
- If the Chosen Undead of Dark Souls chooses to let the Kiln of the First Flame go out, ending the Age of Gods, the Primordial Serpents show up to bow before the new Dark Lord.
- World of Warcraft has a removed quest where players who obtain the Corrupted Ashbringer can go to the Scarlet Monastery, and the previously hostile Scarlet Crusaders bow to them and offer their loyalty. Scarlet Commander Mograine does the same, until his father's spirit comes out of the sword and kills him for betraying and murdering him.
- At the conclusion of the Siege of Orgrimmar, every faction leader of the Horde bows to Vol'jin when they acknowledge he is now the Horde's leader.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, before the final showdown with Ganondorf, Princess Zelda is granted the Light Arrows. She then turns to Link, a simple goat herder in this story, and bows to him, begging his help for the final confrontation.
- In the ending of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, the Luminoth are released from their cryogenic stasis by U-Mos after the war against the Ing is finally over, thanks to Samus' aid. They all bow down to Samus for her heroic deeds as she walks out of the temple while giving them a wave.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: "It is our honor to serve you... Avatar Roku."
- In season Four of Winx Club, the other Earth Fairies kneel to Roxy in gratitude for freeing them.
- My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic:
- In the season 3 finale, the mane characters and Princess Celestia do this to Twilight Sparkle, who became an alicorn as a result of creating new magic and ascended to princesshood.
- Also, Luna gets this in the Nightmare Night episode. Occasionally happens to Celestia if she appears suddenly, such as in Fall Weather Friends.
- Also, everyone in the Crystal Empire does this to Cadence in the season 3 opener — activating the Crystal Heart in the process.
- In Equestria Games, when praising Spike for saving everypony and the Games, Princess Cadance prostrates herself before him so that her entire body and head are level with the baby dragon's shoulders, and addresses him in the custom of her subjects as Great and Honorable Spike the Brave and Glorious.
- In The Hair Bear Bunch episode "Raffle Ruckus," Peevly kneels and kisses Hair Bear's hand, pleading him to find the missing zoo animals (which the bears arranged as part of a bargaining chip).
- Star Wars Rebels "Heroes of Mandalore" when Bo-Katan Kryze accepts the Darksaber, and therefore the title of The Leader of Mandalore, and holds it up high, all the Mandalorians kneel before her.
- The usual rule in the US military is that the lower rank salutes the superior rank. An exception is made for anyone who had been awarded the Medal of Honor: every serving member of the military is supposed to salute them first. Because the MoH is awarded for outstanding courage on the battlefield (not to mention it's most often awarded posthumously), it typically goes to enlisted men and/or quite junior officers — so occasionally a senior general might find himself saluting a second lieutenant or a corporal. The kicker? It's not an actual rule that they do that for Medal of Honor recipients. It's just something they do.
- Since the Battle of Camarone, Mexican troops are reportedly required to salute French Foreign Legionnaires, regardless of relative rank.
- At the memorial service for the 2004 Madrid train bombings, the King and Queen of Spain bowed to the audience.
- Lakotah holy man Black Elk was a dancer in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in 1887, when they toured England and Europe. They did a command performance for Queen Victoria, who said they were the "best-looking people" she had ever seen. A few weeks later, Vicky celebrated her Golden Jubilee, and the Indians had front row seats at the parade route, when this happened:
When she came to where we were, her wagon stopped and she stood up. Then all those people stood up and roared and bowed to her; but she bowed to us.
- According to traditional protocol, the Emperor of Japan bows to no one. The only exception was when he visited the Yasukuni Shrine, dedicated to the soldiers and others who died fighting on behalf of the Emperor. (That is, until 1978: then-Emperor Hirohito/Showa stopped visiting in, most likely because of the huge political controversies surrounding the enshrinement in Yasukuni of 14 persons who had been executed or imprisoned as war criminals in World War II).