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Our Founder
John Harvard, Founder, 1638 (except not)

"The plaque for Burbank was filed in May first, 1887, by Dave Burbank, a dentist from the East Coast who got a wild hair up his ass one day and said, 'I'm gonna go west and form a town', and indeed he did! End of story! That's it, that's all that happened... Burbank was all like, 'Hey do you mind if I, uh, form a town here?' 'Sure, go ahead!' The end!"

A universal trope, spotted as often in reality as it is in fiction. Our Founder is a statue of the Founder of the Kingdom... be they a brave pioneer who established a colony in the New World, a missionary traveling the land building communities for his faith, a conqueror on his way to fame and riches, or a big-shot mogul who struck Big Business and got a nice-size stone replica of himself for his efforts. These are often to be spotted at crossroads, communal plazas downtown, or at parks, with some nice benches with old ladies feeding pigeons on them.

A favorite of megalomaniacal despots with imperial aspirations and a very common decorative feature in places with villains that put their face on everything.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • Since the marketing campaign that reintroduced "Jack", the Jack in the Box clown, as "CEO" of Jack in the Box, all Jack in the Box locations have prominently displayed a ornately framed portrait of Jack, with the inscription, "Our Founder" at the bottom.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Kamina gets a statue at the heart of Kamina City at the halfway point of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. He didn't live long enough to found the city himself, but he was the inspiration to its actual founders. After it is learned that his actions incurred the wrath of Scary Dogmatic Aliens, the Antispiral, the statue is toppled by panicking citizens as a sign of refutation.
  • Arle Heinessen, founder of the Free Planets Alliance has a huge statue of himself in the Legend of Galactic Heroes, towering over the capital, bearing a close resemblance to Rio de Janeiro's "Christ the Redeemer".
  • One of these serves as a plot point in the fifth episode of Kaiba.
  • Parodied in the Ranma ½ anime. Principal Kunō is extremely fond of statues of himself, including a big one he'd set up at the entrance of Fūrinkan Highschool "for students to prostern before". It is promptly destroyed by Ranma, who wasn't even paying attention.

    Comic Books 
  • Cornelius Coot, the founder of Duckburg, Donald Duck and entourage's duck-inhabited home town, in the Carl Barks-penned issues of Walt Disney Comics. One instance had Uncle Scrooge McDuck and a foreign Raj competing to build the biggest one; it got to the point where you couldn't see the statues in their entirety from within the town borders.
  • There's a statue of Civil War-era trader Ezra Small outside Smallville city hall in some Superman continuities.
  • Judge Dredd: At the entrance of Deadworld's Hall of (In)Justice stands a statue of Judge Death to mark the spot where he killed the last living human, a founding monument for the new kingdom of the dead.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • In Osmosis Jones, our founder is (what else?) a sperm cell.
  • A statue of Stanley Steamer in Cars. Or, it may not be a statue at all, but Stanley himself, bronzed.
  • At the end of Lucky Luke: The Ballad of the Daltons, a statue of the late Henry Dalton is seen next to the orphanage that was built thanks to his money. More specificaly, it's a statue of Henry Dalton on a horse and about to be hanged.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Film of the Book The Two Towers, there is a statue of Helm Hammerhand in Helm's Deep, though it is not named in the dialogue. It may be mentioned in the director's commentary, though. They don't directly name the statue, but his horn is explicitly named at least once.
    Theodin: The Horn of Helm Hammerhand shall sound in the deep, one last time!
  • There's a statue of the founder of the college in Animal House, complete with super-bland quote/motto "Knowledge Is Good".
  • Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. There's a statue of Bill and Ted in The Future! In this case, they're not the actual founders of the future community. It was just totally enlightened by their radical "Be excellent to each other / Party on, dudes" philosophy.
  • The Joel Schumacher-directed installments of the 1980s / 1990s Batman film series has enormous statues of unspecified men (and, inexplicably, a replica of the Statue of Liberty) littered around Gotham City.
  • The first Fantastic Four movie begins with Reed and Ben visiting Victor Von Doom to get funding for Reed's experiment; the two pause to watch as a gigantic statue of Doom is being erected outside his offices.
  • Not the founder of Gotham, but the Goddamn Batman gets a statue erected in rememberance of his heroic deeds at the end of The Dark Knight Rises.
  • In Star Trek: First Contact, Geordi mentions to Zephram Cochrane that the spot where he's standing is the future location of a statue of himself in the 24th century. He tries to Refuse The Call after hearing this, and has to be stunned by Riker.
    Riker: You told him about the statue?
  • Battle for the Planet of the Apes has a statue of Caesar, the ape civilization's founder.
    • The Tim Burton remake ends with Leo walks up the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial and sees the statue of General Thade, who went back in time farther than Leo and started an ape rebellion.
  • A parody of Save Our Students movies (I think it was High School High) had a Running Gag in which the students regularly desecrate the statue of the school's founder.

    Literature 
  • The Isaac Asimov short story entitled "In a Good Cause" centers around the unfairness of these statues, as the idealist to whom the primary statue in the story is erected is committed to his cause, but almost completely irrelevant to realizing it.
  • The novel Who Plugged Roger Rabbit? has the "Toontown Telltale" headquarters, where a popular checkout-line tabloid is printed. The columns at the door are carved to resemble the paper's four Toon founders: Sleazy, Slimey, Dreck, and Profane. Let that be an indication of the contents of the paper.
  • Subverted in Diana Wynne Jones's Year of the Griffin, the statue of the wizard Policant actually turns out to be Policant, who apparently turned himself into a statue as part of a prophecy, to be revived in the titular Year of the Griffin.
  • Discworld
    • Alberto Malich, founder of Unseen University. When Malich returned from Death's country in Mort and destroyed his statue they believed the statue had come to life. When Malich went back the wizards recommended that the replacement statue be constructed in a very secure dungeon.
    • In Interesting Times, Rincewind finds a statue of One Sun Mirror, founder of the Agatean Empire, on a pedestal of gold in a lake of quicksilver beneath a huge artificial hill built by the Forbidden City. He notes the inscription on it, which simply says "One Sun Mirror". The implication being that no-one standing there could fail to know who that was.
    • There's a statue of Khuft, the founder of Djelibeybi, in Pyramids. It shows a noble figure with a patriarchal face, an outstretched hand and a chin you could crack rocks on. When Teppic has a vision of a toothless and rather shifty old man in a grubby loincloth, it takes him a while to make the connection.
  • Our Munsell in Shades of Grey.
  • The Edgar & Ellen book series features the town of Nod's Limbs. An incident regarding the statue erected to the town's founder is the reason the town (originally called Nod's Lands) bears its current name.
  • In the Eighth Doctor Adventures novel The Ancestor Cell, there are statues of the six founders of Time Lord society (Omega, Rassillon, the Other, Pandak, Aperion and Eutenoyar) in the six corners of the Panopticon. Until people start screwing around with time, so there are four statues (one of which is the Doctor) and eventually just one.
  • Craig Shaw Gardner's Novelization of Tim Burton's Batman has a scene, cut from the film at the script stage, in which the mayor unveils a statue he expects to be of John T. Gotham, but which is actually of the Joker
  • A Mage's Power: A statue of the Mother Dragon stands on top of her guild, the Dragon's Lair. Basilard "introduces" Eric to it when the latter joins as a novice. There are also statues of the first five captains in the courtyard.
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    Live-Action TV 
  • In a similar spirit, the statue of Jayne Cobb in Jaynestown on Firefly. Mal himself takes a very dim view on this trope, believing that anyone who's ever had a statue built of themselves was probably a sumbitch of some sorts.
  • The Master did this, rather epically, in the series 3 finale of Doctor Who.
    Martha: All over the Earth, those things. He's even carved himself into Mount Rushmore.
  • The offices of Leverage Consulting have an oil painting of "Hiram Leverage III" (actually an aged-up Nathan Ford).

     Puppet Shows 

    Radio 
  • In the radio version only of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the 15-mile-high statue of Arthur Dent on the planet Brontitall. (He didn't found the society there, but he inadvertantly inspired them to alter their entire way of life.)

    Tabletop Games  
  • GURPS IOU has a statue in the middle of the "Pent" marked "Our Founder". Said statue is humanoid-shaped, but worn down with age, and has hints of tentacles on the face. Oh, and testing showed it to be older than the universe.

    Theme Parks 
  • That famous statue in Disneyland of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse.
  • Similar to Disney, Hersheypark in Pennsylvania boasts a bronze statue of chocolate mogul Milton Hershey.

    Video Games 
  • Epic Mickey has a replica of the Disneyland statue, but with Oswald the Rabbit instead of Mickey, as Oswald is Wasteland's ruler.
  • There's a statue of the protagonist of Shin Megami Tensei I in Shin Megami Tensei II.
  • Banjo-Kazooie has the evil villain Gruntilda, who rather likes to decorate things having to do with her with grand-scale depictions of herself. Her lair itself is shaped like her head, but the most Our Founder-esque example is the enormous statue of herself she keeps in a swamp, surrounded by a moat guarded by a giant piranha.
  • In many Super Mario Bros.. platformers (and even some spin-offs such as Mario Kart), the world is littered with stone depictions of Big Bad Bowser. Most of them are actually in his castle, though, along with big portraits of him and doors carved in his image.
  • In Mother 3, New Pork City has a giant Porky statue which serves as a bonus boss.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
    • Two examples from Sonic CD are the Easter Egg at Wacky Workbench, and the giant statue at Stardust Speedway.
    • Act 2 of Panic Puppet Zone from 3D Blast revolves around climbing a path that surrounds an Eggman statue.
    • Hang Castle of Sonic Heroes. Sonic calls attention to an Eggman statue at a certain point in the stage. And then it flips over to show Metal Sonic.
    • Sonic Unleashed has Eggman finally build Eggmanland and one of the first things Sonic sees is a giant gold Eggman statue in front of the gate.
      Sonic: I'll never understand Eggman's tastes.
  • In Chrono Trigger, Medina Village was founded by Ozzie after Magus lost the Fiend-Human War in 600 AD. His descendant is the town's mayor, and after you defeat Magus, they dance around Ozzie's statue (because Magus is no longer quite so inspiring). Defeat Ozzie, however, and all of this vanishes — the fiends, without anyone to stir up antihuman resentment, founded the town themselves, and Ozzie's descendant is now a janitor. The change is reflected by the attitude of the townsfolk and the background music. Prior to defeating Ozzie, the townsfolk are hostile to outsiders, the music is dark and foreboding and creepy chanting fills the main square. After kicking Ozzie's ass, the townsfolk are friendly and the music is cheerful and upbeat sans chanting.
  • BioShock
    • In BioShock Infinite, statues of Comstock can be found all around Columbia. A similar statue is also shown at the beginning of Rosalind Lutece (or Robert Lutece via a Tear), the scientist responsible for Columbia being able to float.
    • BioShock also opens with a large bust of Andrew Ryan above the Bathysphere that takes you to Rapture.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, as the Nords of Skyrim venerate Talos, the apotheosis of the Emperor Tiber Septim, there are naturally numerous statues or shrines dedicated to him in several of the cities and dotted about the landscape.
  • Mass Effect 3: the final firefight in the Grissom Academy level involves a large statue of Jon Grissom.

    Web Comics 
  • The Order of the Stick
    • Redcloak has his statue in Azure City. It says "Our Leader" since he didn't found the city, just conquered it.
    • General Tarquin also has a statue of him lording over a beheaded enemy in Bleedingham.
  • In the Girl Genius chapter "Jägermonsters to the Rescue", it turns out that in Agatha's two-year absence, Gil has topped Mechanicsburg's city walls with towering statues of Agatha.note  Dimo describes them as being over 150 meters tall. For the non-metrically inclined, that's 500 feet. Agatha is... less than pleased.
    Agatha: I... I am going to kill him.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons
    • Jebediah Obadiah Zachariah Jebidiah Springfield (Hans Sprongfeld), whose statue embiggens Springfield's main square.
    • Shelbyville also has a statue of their founder, Shelbyville Manhattan, along with two women, possibly his cousins.
    • One episode has a hospital erect a bronze statue of Homer after he gave them a gigantic donation. What they didn't realize is that it was Mr. Burns making the donation through Homer.
    • "Bart Vs. Australia" has an Australian museum with a giant statue of a Snake lookalike with the caption "Our First Prime Minister" (a reference to Australia having been used as a penal colony).
  • The Fairly OddParents: Dale Dimm, the founder of Dimmsdale.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
    • The town from the episode "Avatar Day" has a statue of Chin the Great/the Conquerer, although that also doubles as a memorial, as it's on the spot he died. Well, almost on the spot. He plummeted off a cliff, and you can't put a statue in thin air.
    • Avatar Kyoshi also had one in her hometown, interestingly... as she was the one who killed the aforementioned Chin, creating Kyoshi Island in the process.
  • The Legend of Korra
    • Republic City's harbor has a giant statue of Aang, the Avatar from the previous series, who founded United Republic alongside Zuko.
    • The city's police headquarters has a life-sized statue of Toph, who played a part in the force's organization and training. She has another statue in the metal city of Zaofu. Interestingly enough, Toph herself didn't directly participate in the creation of Zaofu, but she did invent metalbending when she was only a child, a feat that made the city's creation possible.
    • Zuko also got a statue of himself in front of Central Station, complete with real fire streaming from his outstretched hand.
    • Cabbage Merchant gets a statue outside of Cabbage Corp.
    • Sokka has a statue on top of a tiered fountain in front of the Southern Water Tribe Cultural Center. It features him holding aloft his trusty boomerang.
    • By the time of Season 3, Korra herself has a statue in the middle of the park, now named "Avatar Korra Park".
  • Monster Buster Club: Addison Single, founder of Single Town. But that's no statue... It's Addison Single himself, who is in truth an alien Blob Monster, turned into stone.
  • The city wherein Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends is set has Elwood P. Dowd, in a subtle and clever nod to the premise of the show. Of course, Foster's Home itself has a bust of Madam Foster, which Bloo promptly... busts.
  • Whenever Mad Mod shows up in an episode of the Teen Titans animated series, you can be sure his likeness will soon get plastered over almost everything: busts, portraits, statues, posters, et cetera. He himself often (inexplicably) metamorphoses into strange alternate (and usually British pop culture-themed) designs, such as the Blue Meanie from Yellow Submarine and God from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. This counts as Our Founder because one time he used a grand-scale hypnotic trick to reclaim America in the name of Jolly Old England, proclaiming himself its first King.
  • Similar to the Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure example, Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi has an episode in which the girls are whisked away to the year 3000 and discover that all of society is now founded on their music. There is a skyscraper-sized statue of them in the futuristic city, featuring both of them back-to-back in a signature pose.
  • The sentient worms who infested Fry's bowel in the Futurama episode "Parasites Lost" have a statue of Fry in their city. Instead of "Our Founder", the pedestal read "The Known Universe".
  • In one episode of Western Animation/Aladdin, there is a celebration devoted to the founder of Agrabah, but no actual statue. It would have been a mistake if there was one, of course, but that's hardly new for Aladdin, so we'll put it down as coincidental accuracy.
  • ¡Mucha Lucha!: At first, when the Headmistress spoke of the school's foundation, it seemed there was a painting of the founder but instead there was the man in person, always with a frame ahead of him and his name is "El Fundador". His signature move is founding. In fact, he made the school appear from his pocket to finish an adversary who intended to turn masked wrestling into a fad.
  • Phineas and Ferb: The Fireside Girls (at least the troop led by Isabella) seem to have a painting of their founder but she was just sitting in front of a framed window.
  • In Barbie And The Secret Door, Malucia has a golden statue of herself, and puts a foam hand on it to cheer about her inevitable triumph.

    Real Life 
  • Many universities in Real Life have Our Founder statues.
    • Harvard famously has the Statue of Three Lies which reads: "John Harvard, Founder, 1638" (the statue isn't of John Harvard, John Harvard was a contributor not the founder, and Harvard was founded in 1636)
    • Averted with Texas A&M University. The statue that receives all the attention is Lawrence Sullivan Ross, the man attributed with saving the university.
    • Averted with the University of Maryland. The best-known statue on campus (apart from that of the mascot) is of one of the school's most famous alums.
    • Cornell University has one that is across a quad from a statue of the first president. A local legend says that if a virgin walks between them, the two statues will stand up, walk across the quad, and shake hands to congradulate each other on the university's chastity. They have yet to get out of their seats. That's a joke variant on the traditional story, which is that they shake at midnight on the anniversary of the university's founding (or sometimes some other significant date). Footprints are painted on the sidewalk between them.
    • The founder of University College London, Jeremy Bentham, had his body mummified and donated to the school so they could save on the expense of a statue to commemorate himnote . There used to be a tradition of wheeling it into faculty meetings and making a note on the minutes that Bentham attended but didn't vote on any motions.
  • Many countries do this for national heroes; Dublin's O'Connell Street has statues of Daniel O'Connell and Charles Stewart Parnell at each end.
  • Apparently every town and city in Britain was founded by either Queen Victoria, King Edward VII, or both.
  • William Penn looks down on Philadelphia from an impressive statue atop City Hall, at the center of the city's skyline. A several-year run of failure for Philadelphia's sports teams was blamed on a new stadium cutting off Penn's view of the river; perhaps it's a coincidence that when a small figurine of Penn was put on top of the stadium, facing the river, Philadelphia's teams subsequently won several championships.
  • McDonald's for years had brass plaques at the entrances with "Our Founder, Ray Kroc"; the McDonald brothers themselves getting short, if any mention. Wendy's does something similar with a photograph of their founder in some promotional materials, as well as in framed posters all over any given Wendy's location.
  • Somewhere in Apple, Inc. headquarters is a framed Apple I motherboard with the caption "OUR FOUNDER".
  • Possibly the most infamous example, the statue of Saddam Hussein that was pushed over.
  • These are everywhere in North Korea. What's more, they got so good at it they have a minor industry based around exporting such patriotic statues (Senegal took them up on one).
  • Ataturk is all over Turkey, apparently not just the founder of the country but of just about every local establishment and tradition.
  • The Hershey School in Hershey, Pennsylvania has one of Milton Hershey in its rotunda.
  • Subverted with the Visual Kei rock scene - the late "co-founder" of the scene does have a hugely elaborate grave at Miura Reien, but there is no statue of him specifically there - though there are hundreds of thousands of plushies, other dolls, posters, and nearly every other thing you can imagine, thanks to his brother's running a Cash Cow Franchise off of him.


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