No one stirs up a mob like Gaston.
"You're a rabble rouser, you know that? You rouse rabbles."
This is the one in a mob who stirs everyone up, calling for Torches and Pitchforks
or a Witch Hunt
. When there's something strange going on, unusual new neighbors, a Mad Scientist
on the edge of town, they're probably the one who ginned up public resentment. If not, they keep them going, egging them on when they start to show doubt, and at times picking targets for their wrath, and possibly singing as they do it
. Their arguments don't necessarily make sense
, but agitated crowds often don't care.
Their motivations vary, sometimes It's Personal
, they've had something done to them and they're after Revenge
or think it'll happen again, or might just as scared as everyone else, and trying to find someone to blame
for everything that's been happening. They might even be the one responsible for it all, and trying to throw off suspicion by blaming everyone else
. Or might be part of some grand scheme to stir up unrest making it easier to depose those wretched ruling classes
They are often opposed by the Only Sane Man
. He'll trying to talk the mob down, and convince them what they're doing is wrong
and go home. This occasionally leads to a man-to-man confrontation between the two of them. Other times, the Rabble Rouser will turn the crowd against him.
Stirring up a mob is risky, though, as there is a chance their anger could result in a backlash against the one who stirred them up in the first place. This in turn may result in Hoist by His Own Petard
or Shamed by a Mob
- In one of the iterations of The Authority, the team fought against a group of patriotic heroes who were essentially expies of DC's Freedom Fighters. Among these was the Uncle Sam expy Paul Revere, whose powers included the ability to rile up crowds.
- Beauty and the Beast: After Belle reveals the Beast's existence, Gaston, in a jealous rage, whips the town into a frenzy with talk, or rather lyric, of how he'll come and devour their children, and calls on them to storm the Beast's castle and kill him.
- Art from The Burbs it's just him and two other guys and it turns out there is something suspicious, but he feeds the paranoia that essentially is the plot.
- Young Frankenstein
- At a town meeting one of the townspeople tries to stir up a lynch mob against the newest Baron Frankenstein.
Townsman: He's a Frankenstein! And they're all alike. It's in their blood. They can't 'elp it. All those scientists, they're all alike. They say they're working for us. What they really want is to rule the world!
- Later on Inspector Kemp (an authority figure who had earlier argued against violence) changes his mind.
A riot is an ugly thing. Und I think that it is just about time that we had one!
- In The Grapes of Wrath, the corrupt Sheriff's department sends agitators to try to cause a riot at the government-run workers' camp. The workers spot the agitators and see them off without trouble.
- In the Stephen King & Peter Straub sequel to The Talisman, Black House, an angry mob arrives at the police station to enact justice on the guy who's been wrongfully accused of killing several children. Jack manages to prevent a riot. One person in the crowd (a local muckraking journalist) deliberately attempts to re-ignite things, only to be taken out by a cop's flashlight.
- The Hand of Thrawn duology has Imperial deep cover agents left behind by Grand Admiral Thrawn activated after the discovery that a group of Bothans helped the Imps commit genocide of the pacifist Caamasi. The sleeper agents use this tactic, among others, to sow unrest: In one case they start a riot by basically having a guy holler "Justice for Caamas!" a bunch of times in a crowded town square (gathered for a demonstration at a Bothan-owned company) and start throwing fruit, and letting the crowds take it from there.
- Discussed at length in Night Watch. Sam Vimes thinks of the Agitator as the poor bugger everyone stands behind going "yeah! right!" and then ditch when the law gets rough. Reg Shoe also tries to be this, very hard, but the people around Treacle Mine Road are too busy picking apart the holes in his revolutionary rhetoric to be properly inflamed.
- Ciaphas Cain:
- After it's conquered by the Empire of Charis, the League of Corisande in Safehold sees an increase in these, the most prominent being Paitryk Hainree. These rabble rousers are specifically recruited by what the Charisians dub the "Northern Conspiracy" to create unrest they can use in an attempted coup.
- In the The Twilight Zone episode "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" a series of strange occurrences puts a quiet neighborhood on edge, one of the street's resident's, Charlie, begins throwing accusations around and is always the first to demand explanations from whoever the newest suspect is. At one point one of the others call him a self-appointed Hanging Judge.
- Parodied in Dinosaurs when Robbie gets turned into a were-human, Earl and Charlene call the angry mob, whose number they have on the fridge.
- Early in Legend of the Seeker, Richard's brother stirs up the townsfolk against Kahlann, after misfortunes begin falling on them after her arrival.
- Quantum Leap: In "Trilogy, Part II", Leta Aider leads a lynch mob to storm the house of Abigail Fuller, the woman she's convinced killed her husband and daughter years before, and riles up the others by convincing them Abigail's a witch.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
- The early episode "A Man Alone" has a man stirring up a hateful mob against Odo on the basis that Odo murdered the man's friend, but mostly that he's an evil untrustworthy shapeshifter (in an elaborate frameup that could only happen in sci-fi). They pursue him to Odo's already-vandalized office and start jeering and throwing things, and only disperse when Sisko points out they wouldn't even know how to hurt him.
- Later used more positively with the Cardassian resistance. Damar himself takes this role by exhorting his fellow Cardassians to protect one of their own (Garak) from being pushed around on his own planet by the Jem'hadar—since Garak just planted a bomb and they all need to get out of there now. He inspires a civilian revival of the resistance with this.
- Dr. Whale stirs up an angry mob against Regina in the Once Upon a Time episode "Broken". For maximum Irony, Dr. Whale is the cursed identity of Dr. Frankenstein.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "Thine Own Self" when Data loses his memory and wanders into a primitive village bringing some radioactive materials with him, the radiation starts to affect the villagers in ways none of them understand. Skoran, the blacksmith, begins to accuse Data of bringing the sickness with him, which he actually did, and at the end he brings a mob to confront him, ending when he runs Data through with a metal pike. Fortunately Data was able to dump a cure into the village's water supply first.
- Babylon 5:
- In Assassin's Creed III you can order your assassin recruits to start riots. Stephane also starts in a fit of Unstoppable Rage while he's searching for the Redcoats who robbed his home.
- In Knights of the Old Republic II, you run into a guy trying to agitate a crowd against the Republic on Onderon as part of the questline—you can ignore him, agree with him, or argue with him as you like. Eventually he manages to start an actual riot, resulting in a number of deaths.
- Exagerated in this◊ Cultist-chan comic. 40K canon isn't lacking in examples, whether Imperial priests whpping crowds up into righteous frenzy against whatever menace is at hand or Chaos cultists encouraging them into rebellion.