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The Consigliere

A Number Two who is the Number One's voice of reason. Their advice is valuable to the boss because they're usually right, which puts them in a unique position to "Speak Truth To Power" when other staff might be scared to contradict the boss. This kind of job security is largely self-reinforcing - the boss won't fire him because he needs his uniquely honest advice, but he only has the freedom to be honest because he knows the boss won't fire him. Often the smartest guy in the room, or just a calming influence to a Hot-Blooded boss. There's a high likelihood of his being a retained lawyer.

Similar to The Obi-Wan, but usually the same age or younger than their Luke. Possibly, but not necessarily, the Only Sane Man. Might be the Chessmaster Sidekick if it turns out that he's actually the one in charge, or the Hypercompetent Sidekick if their boss would be useless without them. If he uses Obfuscating Stupidity to get away with Brutal Honesty, he's The Jester. Contrast with Evil Chancellor; compare and contrast The Good Chancellor.

Sometimes, he'd make a better ruler than the real one, but he doesn't want to be in charge for some reason. His boss may even recognise this, which could be a source of jealousy or mistrust.

This position isn't only reserved for employees. It's not unusual for the wife of a powerful ruler or businessman to take on this role, particularly if she is a Proper Lady or Yamato Nadeshiko. They will have the Silk Hiding Steel necessary to point out problems without undermining him. This might overlap with the Lady Macbeth, if her husband is of a less-than-scrupulous character.

Named for the Mafia position made famous by Tom Hagen in The Godfather (so any self-respecting Don will keep one on staff as a matter of principle).

In case you were wondering - con-sill-YEH-reh. Sort of. It's Italian for "counsellor" or "advisor".

See also Commander Contrarian.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Baccano!, Maiza seems to play something like this role to the Martillo crime family.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, there's one Kouzou Fuyutsuki to Gendo Ikari. It's heavily implied that the main reason he sticks around is out of loyalty to his former student and Gendo's wife Yui rather than any attachment to Gendo himself, as he actually did not like Gendo at all when they first met.
  • A good part of the role of the kirin in The Twelve Kingdoms is to be an advisor to the Fisher King they choose.
    • And a good part of the ruler's role is to ignore the kirin, since the kirin is inherently (and often illogically) compassionate, which is not enough to rule a kingdom.
  • Seigfried Kircheis is this for Reinhard von Lohengramm in Legend of the Galactic Heroes.
  • Masa is the closest thing to this for Sun's dad Gozaburo in My Bride Is a Mermaid. Had the show been more serious, it would have been more obvious.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Riza Hawkeye's explicitly stated job description is to make sure Roy Mustang doesn't stray from the correct path while aiming for the presidency, to the point of killing him if he goes Jumping Off the Slippery Slope
  • In Akagamino Shirayukihime Mitsuhide to Zen

    Comic Books 
  • Star Wars: Legacy: Darth Wyyrlok III was this to Big Bad, Evil Overlord and Galactic Emperor Darth Krayt, until he pulled a The Starscream.
    • Wyyrlok is a particularly interesting case as he had no interest in power. He realized that his master's degenerative condition was driving him insane, and killed him so that he could become an immutable symbol rather then a flawed man.
    • Moff Nyna Calixte, the Only Sane Man of the Moff Council, was also this to Morlish Veed. Until she betrayed him to spy for Roan Fel. Veed found out and apparently killed her.

    Fan Works 

    Film 
  • Tom Hagen in The Godfather, and any Mafia "consigliere" in general, since that is the job description. Close to a Unbuilt Trope in that Tom, though well-meaning, is not a wartime Consigliere and is unable to smell a rat like old Genco, the previous Consigliere, would have. Michael replaces him with his father, although he still listens to him until he grows unhappy with Tom in Part II. In Part III, the role is divided among his younger sister Constanzia, who spurs Michael into action, and B.J. Harrison, who handles the financial and now legitimate affairs of the family.
  • Another Tom, Tom Reagan, is the right hand of Leo, chief of the Irish mob in Millers Crossing. He doubles up as The Dragon and is a deliberate nod to Hagen.
  • "Number Two" in the Austin Powers movies (with his "Virtucon makes millions legitimately" speech in the first movie)
  • Michel in Dodgeball, who White Goodman calls his "fitness consigliere".
  • Ship's doctor Stephen Maturin occasionally plays this to Captain Jack Aubrey in Master and Commander, being a close personal friend.

    Literature 
  • "Daily Life In Medieval Europe" by Jeffery L Forgeng:
    "Elanor's work at Dover was considerable. There was a continuous flow of messages to and from the Countess who was busy supporting her husband's revolt against the King. She dispatched assistance to him including a certain William the Engineer, who was evidently a specialist in siege weaponry. She procured military equipment for her husband's use, maintained relations with a substantial body of military followers and conducted negotiations with various third parties. Among the visitors who dined with Elanor of Dover, were leading citizens from the port towns of Sandwich and Winchelsea, whose support or assistance she was presumably trying to enlist, and she fostered relations with visiting ambassadors and merchants from overseas..."
  • A Song of Ice and Fire
    • Davos and Melisandre, to King/Lord Stannis. Of course, Melisandre kind of nullifies all his advice, but he tried — and he used to succeed. Stannis chose him specifically because of this trope. He was so brutally honest that his lord appreciated how he'd always say the truth no matter what.
    • Eddard Stark serves this role for his friend, King Robert.
    • In general, the Hand of the King was supposed to serve this role for his King. Various Hands had varying degrees of success.
    • Samwell tries to be this to Jon Snow, with varying degrees of success. He eventually leaves for Oldtown, to earn his maester's chain to better serve Jon, who he helped make the new Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.
  • Marco is this to Jake in Animorphs.
    • He seems to fall into this role for whoever is the current leader, as he fills the same position for Rachel during her short stint, and also for Tobias when the Animorphs split up into sub-teams. (Usually it's Tobias-Ax-Marco and Jake-Rachel-Cassie.)
  • Jeffrey Pelt is this to the President in The Hunt for Red October.
  • John Sutter in The Gold Coast and The Lake House ends up with a Mafia don as his friendly next door neighbor, who co-opts him into this trope. His son tries the same thing in the sequel.
  • Before the Interregnum, some of the most important nobility Dragaera had Discreets, who are something like therapists crossed with advisers. Too bad Adron's Disaster killed all of them except Pel.
  • Mary Ann Patten in The Captain's Wife (which is Based on a True Story).
  • Dirch Frode, family lawyer for the Vanger clan, to patriarch Henrik Vanger, in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
  • Oxley is this to Father Thames in Rivers of London, in the court of Mama Thames Tybur...Lady Ty likes to cast herself in this role, but is really The Starscream.
  • Thurfir Hawat and Lady Jessica in Dune are this to Duke Leto.
  • The Seanchan Truthspeakers in The Wheel of Time
  • The Virtuous Woman in Proverbs 31. She is described as an efficient administrator and merchantess managing the affairs of a rich Jewish household and hustling through the bazaar.
  • In the ''Firestar'' series, Mariesa infiltrates the teachers her scion company has just taken over. One teacher, Barry Fast, makes vehement but sensible complaints; the next time the two meet, she makes him a trusted advisor. They fall out and divorce partially because, consumed with the magnitude of her work, she stops taking his input seriously.
  • Dresden Files: Although Hendricks is introduced as Marcone's primary bodyguard, he sports this role in side-stories focused on Marcone's operations. In addition to being built like a linebacker, he has a classical education and a degree in philosophy, and is fond of quoting famous texts to make his points. Marcone not only trusts him with explicit threats to his life, but also with ensuring the boss doesn't make any potentially fatal missteps. Hendricks also serves as a sort of liaison with Monoc Securities (in the form of the ever-present Ms. Gard), to whom Marcone owes a certain amount of his success.
  • The Reynard Cycle: Count Bricemer is this to Duke Nobel. He's got a far cooler head than his boss. Later, he serves Persephone in the same role.
  • Common in the Star Wars Expanded Universe among the more cultured smuggling and information trading groups in the galaxy. Talon Karrde was the most talented of several advisers and lieutenants to Jorj Car'das, and when Car'das disappeared Karrde was able to move the others out and take over. He later grooms Mara Jade to fill the same role, although their dynamic is in sharp contrast to the usual; he is more urbane and scholarly, and relies on her hard-earned street smarts and Force-enhanced intuition to help judge people and situations more finely. After she leaves to become a Jedi, he hires Shada D'ukal, who has similar qualities, to fill the role.

    Live Action TV 
  • Angel: Cordelia is this to Angel. Doyle originally played this role. Wesley tries to assume it after Cordelia is gone, but by that time his relations with Angel are strained, to say the least.
  • Stringer Bell in The Wire - something of a Reggie Kray parallel in the way he tries to calm down his Hot-Blooded gangster boss, and shows impressive business skills when that boss is put in prison. Also Norman to Carcetti, who is kept on staff because of his willingness to "speak Truth to Power".
  • LOST's Richard Alpert is described by the showrunners as someone who is not interested in leading the Others but is very influential in finding and selecting a leader. He is described as being similar to a Panchen Lama choosing the next Dalai Lama. The scene where he shows a young Locke a bunch of items and asks him which of them is his is a direct reference to this.
  • Silvio Dante in The Sopranos
  • Eric often fulfills this role to Vince in Entourage.
  • Leo McGarry in The West Wing to President Jed Bartlet, both as Chief of Staff in seasons 1-6, and as an advisor later in S6. Invoked when Leo calls himself a "wartime consigliere" to Toby in "The Leadership Breakfast".
    • Josh Lyman to Matt Santos.
  • Spock and Dr. McCoy, to Kirk, in Star Trek: The Original Series.
  • Wilson in Dad's Army ("Do you think that's wise, sir?")
  • Though he started out more as a jerk, David Rossi in Criminal Minds has become the consigliere to Hotch, and to a lesser extent, Morgan.
  • Nick George for Tripp Darling, and by extension for the whole Big Screwed-Up Family, in Dirty Sexy Money. His father had the job before him.
  • Mrs Onedin in The Onedin Line is this for her husband's firm. She is loyal, determined, and Good with Numbers . James Onedin married her for a ship she owned, and started to love her because she was so canny a businesswoman. Who says money is unromantic?
  • Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad, citing the Trope Codifier: "What did Tom Hagen do for Vito Corleone?" Although by the middle of season 3, Saul finds himself increasingly out of his depth and almost completely domineered by Walt.
  • Merlin and Gwen tend to act as this for Arthur, especially after he finally becomes King of Camelot. Although Arthur's acceptance of this tends to Zig Zag
    • Gaius was meant to be this for Uther, but was seldom listened to.
  • Boardwalk Empire:
  • The Borgias: Niccolò Machiavelli to the Medici family. Yes, that Machiavelli, even though in Real Life his political career was after the Medicis were expelled and when they returned they tortured him and forced him into retirement.
    • In season two, Vannozza dei Cattanei, Rodrigo's former mistress and mother to his children, becomes this for the Borgia family and for Giulia Farnese.
  • In Stargate SG-1, Bra'tac explains his reasons for teaching Teal'c to mistrust the Goa'uld this way. Teal'c becomes First Prime, essentially Apophis' Second-In-Command and, as such, can temper Apophis' hand at times and prevent some of the worst atrocities. Bra'tac reveals that this is what he did during his time as First Prime, as well.
  • In Torchwood: Miracle Day, one of the Families' cronies laments that no one will ever know how many times he stopped them and saved lives in the process.
  • Roberts is this for Billy Kimber in Peaky Blinders, so much so that Tommy uses Roberts as an example when he's making a similar job offer to Grace.
  • Li H'sen Chang in Doctor Who The Talons of Weng Chiang is this to Magnus Greel, reminding him some things are not workable.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • Shadowrun. The consigliere of the Mafia Finnigan family of Seattle is Albert "Uncle Al" Cavalieri.

    Theatre 

    Video Games 
  • Mafia II has Leo Galante, consigliere to Frank Vinci, head of Empire Bay's older and more traditional family. He helps Vito out after they meet in prison, and their friendly relationship continues after both of them get out and Vito becomes a made man. It helps Leo after a hit is put out on him a bit later, which Vito rescues him from, and hit helps Vito get out of the shithole situation he gets himself into after Henry's drug deal goes wrong much later. Too bad that it doesn't help Joe.
  • Katakura Kojuro to Date Masamune in Sengoku Basara. It also helps that the otherwise Blood Knight-ish Masamune recognizes that Kojuro is the one man in the Sengoku Jidai who could unfailingly kick his ass every single time if sufficiently motivated.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Real Life 
  • These Guys.
  • Reggie Kray to Ronnie, who was known to (attempt to) persuade his brother out of his more Psychopathic Manchild tendencies.
  • Albert Speer was probably the closest to this trope in Nazi Germany. He was one of Adolf Hitler's most trusted and competent (and sanest) friends, and the man who strengthened Germany's war effort from 1942. Germany would have probably lost World War 2 sooner without him.
  • Vyacheslav Molotov would fit this trope during Josef Stalin's government.
  • General Alan Brooke to Winston Churchill.
  • Surprisingly not true for most real-world Mafia families. Consiglieres (the position actually does exist) are almost always low-level soldiers with legitimate or near-legitimate backgrounds who can represent the boss in non-criminal matters. In the post-wiretap era, most "advisers" are shameless ass-kissers.
  • Di Renjie gained a reputation for this in the Chinese imperial court in the seventh century. The early part of his career could be summed up as a cycle of "Speak Truth To Power, get demoted/arrested, be proven right, get re-promoted," but later became so respected for embodying this trope that the empress usually referred to him as the State Elder.
  • Medieval noblewomen would often serve as this to their husbands, as seen in this quote from by Jeffery L Forgeng's Daily Life In Medieval Europe
    Elanor's work at Dover was considerable. There was a continuous flow of messages to and from the Countess who was busy supporting her husband's revolt against the King. She dispatched assistance to him including a certain William the Engineer, who was evidently a specialist in siege weaponry. She procured military equipment for her husband's use, maintained relations with a substantial body of military followers and conducted negotiations with various third parties. Among the visitors who dined with Elanor of Dover, were leading citizens from the port towns of Sandwich and Winchelsea, whose support or assistance she was presumably trying to enlist, and she fostered relations with visiting ambassadors and merchants from overseas...

PaparazziTrope Names from Other LanguagesHanguk Manhwa Aenimeisyeon
The ConscienceCharacters as DeviceConspiracy Theorist
The GodfatherImageSource/Live-Action FilmsThe Don

alternative title(s): Wiser Advisor
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