Mouth of Sauron
"Metatron acts as the voice of God. Any documented occasion when some yahoo claims that 'God' has spoken to them, they're speakin' to me. (Or they're talking to themselves.)"A character may be strictly He Who Must Not Be Seen, but they need to transmit orders to their subordinates and intimidate their enemies. The solution? Hire this guy. His job (although sometimes not his only job) is to talk for (and sometimes even impersonate) the real He Who Must Not Be Seen, who often is standing somewhere in the background. The Mouth Of Sauron often serves as The Dragon, and can sometimes be a villainous counterpart to a Supporting Leader: when the real villain is in the background pulling strings, he needs someone to go out and lead his Evil Army against the forces of good. Sometimes, the Mouth Of Sauron is set up to be the Big Bad and is even believed to be so by everyone except the real Big Bad's most trusted advisers. In this case, it overlaps with The Man Behind the Man. While many examples and the Trope Namer are villainous, this is not necessarily an "evil-only" trope: any heroic Mysterious Employer is likely to have one, and this is frequently the role played by the Archangel Gabriel (or, as shown by the page quote and plenty of examples here, The Metatron) regarding the big guy himself.
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Anime and Manga
- In Death Note, the unseen "Kira" at first only attracts a widely scattered cult following, but as his influence grows and he becomes a Villain with Good Publicity, it becomes necessary for Kira to select an official representative. The position is filled first by Hitoshi Demegawa, and then more successfully by Kiyomi Takada, who also passes secret messages between Light and Mikami and is actually entrusted with the killings for a while.
- Watari is this for L who speaks via a laptop before agreeing to meet the police.
- As is Lind L. Tailor, as L's plan hinges on everyone being convinced that Tailor is L.
- In Naruto, Pain is considered the unseen "God", and Konan is his "messenger angel".
- In One Piece, it becomes clear that Miss All-Sunday, a.k.a. Nico Robin, was serving as one when the top Baroque Works agents were finally brought together to meet the leader of the organization. They were all stunned to find that their leader was none other than the well-known and popular hero of Arabasta, Sir Crocodile, who was also one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea.
- One would say the Secretary Ship Nagato serves in this capacity for the Admiral in the anime adaptation of Kantai Collection, relaying deployment orders and instructions to the rest of the fleet girls.
- Lewis Prothero in V for Vendetta is the Voice of Fate, the person who speaks on behalf of the government. The general population are led to believe that the Voice of Fate is the supercomputer Fate itself, rather than a spokesman, and the first serious hit the government takes is when V exposes the ruse as a side effect of driving Prothero mad.
- In Fear Itself, the Serpent has his "Mouth", a lizard-like representative with a huge tongue sent to recruit Hela.
- Metatron shows up as one of the central characters of Dogma. Amusingly, he is not a part of Christian canon at all.
- He is a legitimate part of Jewish canon, though.
- Star Wars: Darth Vader, in addition to serving as The Dragon, performs this duty for Emperor Palpatine. It's not obvious at first glance, but notice that Vader has frequent contact with Imperial commanders, to whom he frequently gives commands. Palpatine is never shown speaking to any of his other underlings except Vader in the original trilogy (with the exception of "Fire at will, commander!"
- "Mr. Kobayashi" serves as the voice and agent for Keyser Soze in The Usual Suspects. It turns out that this person is one of the few factual elements from Verbal's story.
- His existence is factual at any rate. Anything Kint said about his involvement is open for debate.
- In Equilibrium, Libria dictator "Father" is all over the television, but almost no one meets him personally. Vice-Council Dumont is explicitly described as "Father's Voice." Turns out to be a subversion: the real Father died years before, and Dumont is actually running things while pretending to be the Mouth of Sauron.
- The Avengers has a character like this called "the Other" who greatly resembles the Trope Namernote and, in the opening scene, facilitates the deal with Loki for an army in exchange for the Tesseract. Midway through, the two of them have a psychic conversation about how much Loki owes their master and how boned he'll be if he can't make good on his word. The Stinger reveals that he's working for Thanos.
- Guy Shepard from The World's End.
- Billy the Creepy Doll in the Saw films, who speaks for Jigsaw to his victims.
- The Mouth Of Sauron from The Lord of the Rings, who serves as Evil Overlord Sauron's herald, and lieutenant of the Dark Tower. He comes out of the Black Gate to insult the Fellowship and try to persuade them Frodo is their captive, but Aragorn and Gandalf refuse to believe him. In the book version, Aragorn scares the Mouth off with a Death Glare as he speaks (which causes the Mouth to claim he's practically been assaulted), but in the film version, he marches right up and chops off the Mouth's head.
- Walker, from Simon R. Green's Nightside series is the Voice of the Authorities, the hidden rulers of the Nightside.
- Metatron and Beelzebub, for God and Satan respectively, in Good Omens.
- His Dark Materials is another example of Metatron in this role, with the twist that he's also The Starscream.
- In the Wheel of Time series, Shaidar Haran (nicknamed "Superfade" by fans) acts as the mouth of the Dark One, never getting personally involved but giving direct orders (and threats) to the Forsaken. It's eventually revealed that Haran essentially is the Dark One, or at least a less powerful copy of his personality, and gets reabsorbed into him when the Dark One is able to affect the world enough that he doesn't need a mouthpiece anymore.
- E. E. “Doc” Smith's Galactic Patrol features the Eddorian mouthpiece who always starts his speeches "Helmuth, speaking for Boskone".
- The Obligators from Mistborn are basically a whole organization of these; the Lord Ruler is almost totally uninterested in the day-to-day running of his empire and almost never makes public appearances, so it's their job to keep everything running and keep the noble/skaa class system functional.
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe:
- Palpatine's Grand Vizier, Sate Pestage, also has elements of this about him. Per some sources, he was originally created for Empire Strikes Back but was cut because having Vader take his orders from a flunky rather than the Emperor himself made him seem too weak.
- In Star Wars: Legacy, Darth Wyyrlok (I, II and III), whenever Darth Krayt went into stasis, served as "Voice" of the Dark Lord of the Sith.
- This continued even after Wyyrlok III killed Krayt. At least until Krayt decided that was going too far, and killed Wyyrlok back.
- In the New Jedi Order, Onimi will occasionally be used for this, transmitting orders that Shimrra sees as beneath him or doesn't want made public. Except it's actually the other way around, since Onimi controls Shimrra telepathically; as a member of the Shamed caste he could never rule the Yuuzhan Vong himself, but he can do it by using Shimrra as the face and spokesman for his rule with everyone else in the dark as to who's really calling the shots.
- In Consider Phlebas, Bora Horza Gobuchul, the primary protagonist who hates The Culture alleges that his Balveda is one of these for the Culture, in that while she (an attractive humanoid) presents herself to outsiders as its representative, the actual representative of the Culture is the knife-missile armed drone hovering next to her.
Live Action TV
- Bosley from Charlie's Angels, for Charlie... though the phone is a more literal example.
- This is effectively Richard Alpert's job on Lost: to act as a representative for Jacob so Jacob doesn't have to interact with anyone directly.
- Lennon also does this for Dogen in season 6 as well as act as a translator, although it's a less solid example, as Dogen is always present for these conversations and it's soon shown that he can understand English perfectly, he just doesn't often care to directly interact with people.
- Eve and Marcus in Season Five are representatives of the Senior Partners. Holland Manners and Lilah Morgan also acted in this capacity once each after their deaths. It's in this capacity that Holland gives his "The Reason You Suck" Speech. Marcus was also their Dragon, but the other three were strictly there to talk.
- Likewise, the Oracles and the Conduit served in a similar capacity to the Powers That Be.
- Mr. Morden in Babylon 5 is the human mouthpiece of The Shadows. Sheridan tosses him into a holding cell and offers to torture him until he talks, but Delenn points out the Shadows will just kill Morden and replace him with another cretin.
- The Lumati also frequently engage in this during diplomatic functions since they are a highly isolationist and elitist race that refuses to deal with "inferior species" and when communicating with anyone they perceive as the latter, they will speak via proxy using a symbiotic mechanism. Once you gain their respect, however, they will simply speak with you directly.
- Samson acts as this for Management in Carnivàle.
- A latino gang in an episode of NCIS was essentially being run by someone pretending to be this. Gibbs reveals this to some lower gang lieutenants, revealing that they and Gibbs' team were both played for fools, and that Gibbs has nothing he can stick on him, implying that the other gang members need to dispose of the Mouth of Sauron member for his duplicity.
- Number Two in The Prisoner serves as public face and chief administrator on behalf of the Village's unseen authority, Number One.
- This originally is the role that Locutus was meant to play for the Borg (even his name is Latin for "he who has spoken"). Star Trek: First Contact retconned this so as to make Locutus's primary function that of a "counterpart" for the Borg Queen.
- On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Weyoun serves as this for the Female Changeling. The Female Changeling, by extension, serves as the mouthpiece for all Changelings, and the Dominion as a whole.
- In the Kromaggs' first appearance on Sliders, they stood in the shadows and telepathically communed with a human slave who spoke on their behalf. She explained that the xenophobic aliens refused to speak a human language. The ending revealed that they do speak English, and the supposed interpreter was only there to win the sliders' trust as a Heel Face Mole.
- Revenge: The Bigger Bad Americon Initiative communicates with the Graysons through their assassin the White Haired Man. After he is framed and killed in early season 2, a woman from the Initiative starts speaking to Conrad directly.
- Supernatural: Very few of the angels have actually seen God, so their orders are passed on from the ones who have. Though later it's revealed that none of their orders come from him, they're actually from the corrupt higher-level angels and Joshua is the only one God actually speaks to.
- Metatron's job was to write down the Word of God, which can only be read by prophets. (See the Religion section.)
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Edison Po is the only member of Centipede who speaks directly to their mysterious leader, The Clairvoyant, and passes on his orders. In "The Magical Place", the Clairvoyant kills him and replaces him with Raina. And after Raina's arrest, at the end of that episode Ian Quinn seems to have replaced her. As of his arrest in "T.RA.C.K.S.", the Clairvoyant seems to have abandoned having a Mouth of Sauron in favor of a Brute, Deathlock.
- In the first season of Alias, Mr. Sark served in this role for "The Man," who revealed their identity in the season finale. Afterward, he just became The Dragon and, often, The Heavy.
- In Falling Skies the aliens have to use one of these, as the Espheni are a purely telepathic race and the Skitters speak an incomprehensible language. They typically use a harnessed child, with Karen as one for the primary Espheni, eventually becoming The Dragon. And later still, a Dragon Ascendant.
- In Doctor Who, Daleks cannot exposit for any length of time, due to their slow speech. (Just imagine a Dalek barking, 'Have a nice cup of tea and sit down, this may take a while!') So, Davros was introduced as their humanoid creator. Of course the gag with Davros is that he talks and acts exactly like a Dalek himself, breaking his words into syllables and screaming his lungs out, but he also spends a good deal of time chatting politely with the Doctor.
Darren Mooney: One of the smarter touches of The Magician’s Apprentice was to delineate the two. “I created the Daleks,” Davros advises the Doctor. “I do not control them.” So, if Davros is separated from the Daleks...then what exactly does he do? The Witch’s Familiar suggests that the answer is quite simple. Davros does what Davros always does. Davros talks.
- The Time Lords in the Classic Series would occasionally send someone to relay a message to the Doctor. In "Terror of the Autons" one travels 29,000 light years to warn the 3rd Doctor the Master has come to Earth, though his coordinates slipping means he appears in mid-air. In "Genesis of the Daleks" in a scene partially based on The Seventh Seal a Time Lord appears to tell the 4th Doctor he has been sent to Skaro to avert the creation of the Daleks.
- In Big Finish Doctor Who, in the New Eighth Doctor Adventures and the first Dark Eyes Straxus takes this role.
- In Season 4 of Justified Adam Arkin was unavailable to reprise his role as Detroit mob boss, Theo Tonin. Accordingly Mike O'Malley was brought in to play Nicky Augustine, one of Theo's top henchmen, who coordinates the hunt for Drew Thompson, speaks on his behalf, and represents his interests in Harlan County, Kentucky.
- Person of Interest: One of the rare non-villainous version with the Machine and its "analogue interface," Root. Normally, Root just relays orders, but when things get serious, she can repeat what the Machine is telling her word for word as a mouthpiece.
- The Metatron, or the Voice of God: an archangel who Was Once a Man, the prophet Enoch, and served as an intermediary between God and mankind in Jewish theology. He is identified with the Pillar of Fire from the Book of Exodus. He does not explicitly appear in Christian canon, the only oblique reference being in Genesis: "Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away." (Every other human mentioned in the passage describing the lineage is said to have 'died'). He is sometimes used by theologians as an explanation for why God's judgement seems much harsher in the Old Testament than the New—in the Old Testament, God's interventions are actually Metatron acting on God's behalf and suffering from either Humans Are Bastards himself or, now being pure due to being raised to an archangel, is particularly disgusted by his own people and hard on them.
- There's also a Christian (Catholic) version of this idea: In the works of Thomas Aquinas and St. Denis, angels are described as beings who transmit the words or will of God to human beings through a divine game of Chinese whispers. This was done mostly to reconcile Christianity with Neoplatonic idealism. Basically God tells the Seraphim and Cherubim, they tell the Dominions, Virtues and Powers, and they in turn tell the Principalities, Archangels and Angels. Only the Archangels and Angels interact directly with the world as we know it.
- The prophets of most modern religions can also be considered this.
- In the Back Story of In Nomine, Metatron holds his traditional role. Lucifer kills him, starting off the events of the Fall.
- Exalted: Due to endemic Chronic Backstabbing Disorder amongst the Deathlords they are rarely able to leave their seat of power for an extended time, necessitating the Abyssals to hold this position. Doubly so when the Deathlord in question has corruption of mortal societies as part of their agenda.
- Particularly disturbing example is the Abyssal known as Weeping Raiton Cast Aside (or just 'Raiton'), who claims to serve the Neverborn directly, making her the Mouth in respect to the Deathlords.
- Any character can be a Mouth of the Neverborn. Spend a long time in the Labyrinth and listen to their Whispers, and eventually their Will as well as their Secrets will become clear to you. Not for the faint of heart.
- In Eberron, the Dreaming Dark- essentially a living nightmare of god-like proportions and the Genius Loci of the Dream World note - is one of the most powerful, evil threats facing the setting. However, it is so vast and incomprehensible that even its quori minions- nightmare spirits that themselves are somewhere between demons and Eldritch Abominations- cannot commune with it directly without being overwhelmed. Only one quori, the Devourer of Dreams, possesses sufficient power to talk to the Dark directly, and his job is to tell the other quori what their master/god/thing wants done.
- In Shadowrun, the main characters are technically criminals and mercenaries-for-hire, and most people who hire shadowrunners want to avoid publicly associating with them. Hence came the system of the "Mr. Johnson", a Mysterious Employer responsible for directly contacting, hiring and paying the shadowrunners without their bosses getting anywhere near them. In some rare cases the Johnson is the employer directly, bust mostly they are just representing whoever wants the job done.
- Also, dragons in the setting commonly had interpreters (when the dragons first awakened, they could only communicate telepathically and didn't speak English) who often made public appearances on their patron's behalf. Since dragons can shape-shift, some of them even exploit this by appearing as their own Mouth of Sauron (though given they're easier to kill in metahuman form, most don't).
- The Collector-General in Mass Effect 2 serves this role for Harbinger, though Shepard never sees him, either (unless you play Arrival before the final mission). We sure do hear him, tho- ASSUMING DIRECT CONTROL.
- Kel'thuzad for the Lich King in Warcraft III. The dreadlords would like you to believe that they do the same job, but really they work for the Burning Legion and are there to control the Lich King, rather than serve him.
- The Speaker in Emperor: Battle for Dune. It serves as a mouthpiece for the Executrix — all four of them.
- Metatron also shows up in the Shin Megami Tensei series, holding its usual role. YHVH does actually speak for himself in some of the earlier games, but starting with Nocturne YHVH stopped taking direct action in the games' plots and now speaks exclusively through Metatron or one of his avatars.
- Beelzebub also serves Lucifer in this capacity as well, though the big man himself is quite active.
- In Jade Empire Death's Hand appears to be abusing his position, with Emperor Sun Hai reduced to a figurehead- but it's eventually revealed that, rather than using his authority for his own advancement, Death's Hand is merely a tool of the Emperor himself, who's avoiding taking the blame for the various atrocities he's having committed.
- In Fallout: New Vegas, Mr. House always communicates to the NCR and the Three Families via his robots, or, alternately, you.
- In Radiant Historia, Hugo abuses his privileges as the 'mouthpiece' of Prophet Noah, who the Alistel citizens have complete and total faith in. They trust Noah, and by extension, trust whatever Hugo tells them to do, until the war goes bad and they demand to see Noah for themselves. They eventually break out in a panic when they see he has been Dead All Along.
- Thomas Macabee, the Necron Pariah in Dawn of War: Dark Crusade. Sort of. His master isn't this great unseen evil, in fact it's the Necron Lord of Kronus, your main Hero Unit in the campaign. It's just that regular Necrons can't speak, so the Pariah speaks in his stead.
- The Elder Scrolls series has the Listener of the Dark Brotherhood, whose job is to receive contracts through The Night Mother and relays them through the Black Hand.
- The Fourth Age: Total War is notable for using the Trope Namer himself to play with this trope. Namely, He/It survived the fall of his master and Mordor and fled into the shadows, only to assume the mantle of Dark Lord and Big Bad and the name of Herumor for himself. He's spent the last several years orchestrating the enemy attacks from without and corruption from within the Reunited Kingdom of Gondor and Rohan that have brought it low and seriously weakened it. It gets to the point that the part of the realm secedes as the "Kingdom of Adunabar" in Ithilien and Mordor. Unfortunately, this kingdom and its' leader are in the thrall of Herumor and thus its' King is the Mouth of Sauron to the former trope namer. However, since Adunabar can choose its' own destiny, this trope might wind up backfiring on the Shadow.
- The World Ends with You has the Reaper games led by the Game Master who enacts the will and design of The Composer. While the Composer's influence is felt every step of the way, the players never actually see or hear him directly.
- On top of which, the Composer has The Conductor, who is effectively his number-two and decides who will be the Game Master in the next week, acting as The Composer's "mouth" more directly.
- Monokuma of the Danganronpa franchise, a series of bear-shaped robots whose job it is to speak to the students for the mastermind.
- There's no one else better in Earthbound to be the herald for the all-powerful but mindless Giygas than Ness's obnoxious neighbor Porky.
- Hammerhead from The Spectacular Spider-Man. Everyone knows that the Big Man of Crime is New York's most powerful ganglord, but because the Big Man keeps his true identity secret, he uses Hammerhead as his public face and voice of his organization. Later in the second season, the Big Man loses confidence in Hammerhead's competence and takes direct control of his empire; this leads the insulted Hammerhead to become The Starscream.
- Played with in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic's "The Crystal Empire" two-parter: King Sombra, a Present Absence-type villain like the original Sauron, obviously lacks the screentime to explain himself properly, and since he has no Mooks — only Black Magic Booby Traps — all of the information about who he is and what he's capable of come from Celestia and Luna — who fought him together 1,000 years ago — and his Slave Race the Crystal Ponies.