Birch Barlow: You know, there are three things we're never going to get rid of here in Springfield. One: the bats in the public library. Two: Mrs. McFierly's compost heap. And three, our six-term mayor: the illiterate, tax-cheating, wife-swapping, pot-smoking, spendocrat "Diamond" Joe Quimby.A politician with Ultimate Job Security. No matter how incompetent or corrupt, that person cannot be thrown out of office. Perhaps because there's no one to fire them (who fires the King of a Kingdom?), or perhaps because no one will run against them. Or maybe their corruption is part of the reason they can cling to their office. Lastly, they may simply use the population's general apathy. In episodic media, this may overlap with Vetinari Job Security: the politician (more often incompetent than corrupt in those cases) does get replaced— and his replacement proves far worse, thus the heroes have to try and get the previous buffoon back into power. And sometimes, if it's a really small community in the middle of nowhere or the position doesn't include much in the way of real authority or prestige, this trope ends up happening because nobody can be bothered to run against the incumbent. Just the First Citizen is often when the dictator poses as this. It may also lead to a Hereditary Republic. No Real Life Examples, Please! In Real Life democracies, it is not even possible to be elected "permanently" into office considering that the official has to go through re-elections and all that, especially if the office in question has term limits. One could stay in office for a long time if there are no term limits on his position, although the official still have to have a good approval rating to stay put. This isn't even going into recall votes and impeachment. The only official that can perhaps stay "permanently" in office would be a full-fledged dictator (many of whom do hold sham elections to get "re-elected" periodically), and dictators are not what this trope is about.
Mayor Quimby: [while watering pot plants in his office] Hey! I am no longer illiterate!
Mayor Quimby: [while watering pot plants in his office] Hey! I am no longer illiterate!
— The Simpsons, "Sideshow Bob Roberts"
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Anime & Manga
- Mayor Papazoni of Pecola definitely fits into this mold. He is fond of giving long-winded speeches, but then simply pops into one of his many hidey-holes whenever somebody questions what he's going to actually do for the town. They state that the only reason that he keeps getting elected is because nobody else will take the job.
- The Kage in Naruto are elected by the village elders and appointed by the feudal lord who runs the nation. The appointment is for life or until voluntary retirement. Of course the lack of Kage being removed might simply be because they're too powerful to risk insulting.
- The Chief Judge of Mega City One in Judge Dredd, who are basically like a Roman dictator if you remove even their term limits. They were nominated by the Council of Five at first, then by an election held among the Senior Judges. While later on at least some checks and balances were added in that an obviously corrupt Chief Judge could be deposed either by the Special Judicial Squad or another Judge could decide to run against them for the position, terrible Chief Judges like McGruder and Cal were basically unremovable (because the former had dissolved the Council of Five, while the latter ran the SJS too), only vacating either of their own volition or by force. Averted by the Mayor, which anyone could run for, but the office itself is almost completely powerless.
- A pretty rare heroic version appears on Coreline with the Governor of Michigan. The fact that he's an Alternate Self of Optimus Prime (and thus one of the greatest definitions of "Big Good" out there, not to mention a robot that will probably outlive almost everybody living on the state barring hostile action, which means people know he'll be around for a long time) made the decision easier. This is also a very rare instance where the "elected" part is not said ironically—the people of Michigan chose to make him Governor For Life.
- Alistair Theirin is one of the rare heroic types in Skyhold Academy Yearbook. By rights he's the hereditary King of Ferelden, being the last member of the family which has ruled it for hundreds of years; however, prior to the series beginning, he and his wife helped to transition the country into a democracy instead. The people responded by electing him President for life, and he will hold the post until he decides to step down.
Films — Animation
- In the film version of Horton Hears a Who!, the Mayor of Whoville is revealed to be an inherited position, which implies this. Of course, Mayor seems to be just ceremonial, as the City Council seems to hold all the political power.
Films — Live-Action
- The president in Escape from L.A. got the constitution amended so he could stay in office for life. Impeachment probably isn't an option considering the America of this movie is a stone's throw away from a complete theocracy.
- El Presidente of the Republic of Isthmus in Licence to Kill, although the Big Bad Franz Sanchez reminds him that Sanchez is The Man Behind the Man.
- Older Than Radio: The character translated as Mayor in Gogol's The Inspector General (1836), who is a powerful Corrupt Hick with more powers than a mayor would be thought of as having. This being Czarist Russia, there was neither a press nor was central bureaucracy as strong as today. Of course he had more power than a mayor of a comparable town today.
- The Commdors of the Republic of Korell in Isaac Asimov's Foundation are a dynasty of these.
- In David Weber's Honor Harrington, this happens with dismaying regularity.
- First, in the People's Republic of Haven, over half of the population is on state-funded welfare and the families of the "democratically elected leaders" have been in place for generations; they keep the population happy and they get to stay in power... even if they have to go conquering most of the other planets in the region and loot their economies to keep the edifice standing.
- The Solarian League is worse, though; the Office Of Frontier Security is in bed with the transsteller corporations; the usual plan is to destabilize an independent star nation so that they'll "invite" in the Office Of Frontier Security for "protection"; the OFS guy is often "elected" to be "President For Life" while the transstellers take over the planet's economy and start looting.
- Late Jim Cloop, the mayor of Scrote in Discworld, has the position permanently, because everyone agrees he's the best mayor they've ever had. Not "for life", permanently. He died in office immediately after the election, and they couldn't afford to hold another one. When his first term was up, they noticed he hadn't raised taxes, taken bribes or embezzled public funds, so they voted him in again. That was over a century ago, and he's still mayor as of the most recent Discworld Companion.
- Played with in the Ender's Shadow series. The office of Hegemon of Earth is a permanent position, at least when Peter is elected. However, he spends the early years of his administration setting up the government so that he would be the last Hegemon, with the One World Government transitioning to a more conventional democracy.
- In Perry Rhodan, the eponymous character in his function as "Grand Administrator", i.e. head of state, of the Solar Empire is a somewhat odd example. There's no hint that he couldn't in principle have been voted out of office at any time, and in fact there are occasional side plots dealing with intrigues surrounding an election while other things are also going on — yet for the entire existence of the Empire he just seems to have ultimately gotten reelected every time. (Granted, for somebody who's biologically immortal old age isn't much of a reason for retirement, and after the first hundred years or so he'd have become as much an institution as a person and it would be kind of hard for most "normal" people to beat him in terms of sheer experience on the job.)
- Boss Hogg in The Dukes of Hazzard is the County Commissioner, and completely corrupt. Nobody ever runs against him for commissioner, though. Probably helps that he owns the bank and everyone's mortgages. Ditto for Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane, thanks to Better the Devil You Know.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer had Mayor Richard Wilkins III (he was also Richard Wilkins II and I as well). Not once in three lifetimes was he voted out of office.
- In Boardwalk Empire, Nucky Thompson seems to be this at first, but by the end of the season we see that his hold on power is much more fragile that it appears. The mayor and the Commodore both thought that they had achieved this status, but it was revoked when they lost Nucky's backing due to a changing political climate.
- In Once Upon a Time, Regina Mills (formerly known as the Evil Queen) is always Mayor of Storybrooke, Maine, due to the terms of the curse placed upon its inhabitants. The citizenry rationalizes this by assuming that everyone is simply too afraid to run against her, even though no one actually seems to like her enough to vote for her.
- In The Savage Eye, Ireland's President For Life.
- In Rifts, there's Karl Prosek, of the Coalition States. He was elected Chairman after the death of the previous head, his father. He then secretly started a grass roots campaign that got him elected Emperor-for-Life. He's not incompetent, nor is he corrupt, but under his reign, the Coalition has become more and more intolerant of non-humans and magic users, and its populace has become more and more ignorant and xenophobic. In a way, he's actually worse than an outright tyrant, because he's convinced the citizens of the Coalition that his draconian measures are for their own protection, and they cheerfully obey his every wish.
- The SimCity series lampshades this by having your advisors comment on how corrupt you are, and some call elections a "formality" (given that the only way to be voted out of office is to work your city into inescapable levels of debt), and mention in passing "the debauched toga parties" and wasteful spending.
- In the original game you would be ousted by "an angry mob, led by your mother" if you fail to achieve the objectives in scenario mode.
- In later SimCity games, your default name is "Mayor Defacto". They've come to terms with your eternal rule, and have just accepted it.
- Monique Diamond, the finance advisor from SimCity 4, is particularly egregious with implications of embezzlement. She's not complaining; it's also implied she's skimming money off the top herself.
- It was possible to be fired (therefore losing the game) in the SNES version, though.
- It is also possible to get fired in most versions of SimCity 2000 and 3000.
- The Civilization games comes to mind... no matter how many centuries pass, no matter how many revolutions rage through the lands, YOU are always the guy who's in charge when the smoke clears - whether that means being the 'democratically-elected' President, Prime Minister, Glorious Dictator, or High Priest of the Church of You. It is, however, implied in a few events in Civ IV that the actual rulers do change over time (it's even possible in a monarchy for the ruling family to die out and be replaced with someone completely different, whom we never see), which would make the leaders and the player more representations.
- Ditto in Sid Meierís Alpha Centauri, where the leader of the faction is always the same. However, this is slightly justified in the Expanded Universe where the leaders undergo periodic life extension treatments. Also, unlike Civilization, the factions in SMAC are based in ideology, which would make sense that they'd want to keep the founders of the ideology in power. Also, in case of Yang, his State Sec makes sure he stays in power. Also subverted in an Expanded Universe novel, where Yang gets arrested and put in jail for his atrocities and his political rival Jin Long is put in his place... except Long is actually a clone of Yang and takes Yang's name for political reasons and marries Yang's daughter.
- Also same in Galactic Civilizations, no matter what the leader's title may be or the government of the faction, they're in office the whole game. Elections simply determine whether your political party leads the senate. And if your leader doesn't have a specific title AI players will refer to you as "Emperor", implying Republics and later governments are actually Constitutional Monarchies.
- The DS games Drawn to Life seem to mistake a mayor for a king. As apparently when the mayor will eventually die, his daughter will then become mayor.
- David Jefferson Adams in Shattered Union is very closely elected President for his first term, and gets all his opponent disqualified for the next election. His second term doesn't last long.
- An ideal to be aspired to in Tropico, hard to achieve.
- Actually fairly easy to achieve by tweaking your character's past and personality before the game starts. Coming to power via a military coup or socialist rebellion drastically reduce the expectations of your people for fair democratic elections. With the right setup, you can get away with never holding an election!
- The Enclave in Fallout has such Presidents. There is President Richardson who was serving his sixth term by Fallout 2 and won otherwise democratic elections as there were no other candidates, and there is President Eden who proclaimed himself President after the former's death and has been the President for over thirty years.
- In the Animal Crossing series:
- Tortimer, the mayor of the town in the first three games. He doesn't appear to actually do anything mayorly. There are never any elections (that you witness, anyway, no matter how long you play—apparently mayors in your town are elected for life), so it's not entirely clear that he ever was elected. This is lampshaded in The Movie, where there is a mayoral election, and Tortimer wins by one vote. The only vote. Which he cast. The only reason he isn't mayor in New Leaf is because he retired.
- The Player Character is this in New Leaf. S/he can have a 0% approval rating and the town can be filled with weeds and trash, but everyone will still refer to him/her as the mayor. What's more, the player didn't even want the position; s/he was mistaken for the real mayor, and the animals refused to believe otherwise.
- Hate Plus features *Mute, the Councillor of Security, who has held the position since the ship's launch, or more specifically, 1,600 years! It makes sense, as she's an AI programmed to safeguard the ship, allowing her to avoid being bound by limitations such as human mortality.
- In Stellaris it's possible for leaders to attain immortality or something close to it and keep getting re-elected endlessly, provided you have a government type that allows regular elections. You can even spend influence resource points to all-but-ensure re-election if said leader has really useful bonuses.
- Veronica, in Story of Seasons, is the appointed head of the Guild which runs the town; she effectively serves as the mayor. If the player character is male and romances her daughter Angela, it's explained that Angela is trying to prove that she's capable of taking over the post when her mother decides to retire, suggesting that Guildmistress is both this trope and hereditary.
- Mayor Jeb from Men in Hats, a totally incompetent Corrupt Hick. As Aram puts it, "Why the hell do we keep voting for this guy?"
- Justified in Three Apples. After the "Chrysalis Incident", Princess Celestia created a "Mandate of Heaven" that magically bound officials like Mayor Mare to their positions. Ironically, the very existence of that spell meant that the Thief's Crystal could twist it to its own ends.
- Welcome to Night Vale: When the Night Vale city council comes up for election the Sheriff's secret police take hostages to ensure people vote "correctly". The mayor doesn't enjoy the same job security, however, as within the first year of the podcast Mayor Pamela Winchell announces that she is leaving office at the end of the year and elections are held, and that she certainly was not leaving because the council demanded it.
- The eponymous mayor of Tom Goes to the Mayor, who has remained in office for twelve years due to a combination of family connections, low voter turnout, and a bizarre local law giving mayors thirteen-year terms.
- Mayor Quimby of The Simpsons who tends to get voted back into office due to voter apathy, corruption, and the fact that the republican party can't pick a candidate to oppose him. When they do, they picked Sideshow Bob (a known criminal).
- One of the future episodes revealed he was eventually indicted and reduced to working as a cab driver under the alias "Mohammed Jafar".
- The Mayor of Dimmsdale an The Fairly Oddparents once introduced himself as "mayor for life". When the crowd reacts with confusion, he merely laughs and tells them they need to pay attention to those ballots.
- The Powerpuff Girls: The Mayor of Townsville is a completely incompetent moron but manages to stay in office. One episode revealed that this is because no one ever runs against him - though he insists on campaigning anyway which annoys everyone so much that when Fuzzy Lumpkins tells him to shut up, the people vote him the new mayor despite the fact that he never actually enters the mayoral race. Of course Fuzzy turns out to be even worse so the girls get the old Mayor to take his job back.
- Richard Nixon in Futurama becomes the president of Earth by only one vote in the first season, but manages to stay in office for the remainder of the show, by which point he's starting his fourth term (and that's not counting his two terms as US president). He only ever faces one major challenger to his position, who is erased by a Time Paradox upon being elected.