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The Don

"The underworld will now be run like a business.. and the Chairman of the Board will be .. The Kingpin!"

This is The Patriarch of a crime family — most often, as Captain Obvious would suggest, The Mafia. He is shrewd, ruthless, and better not be crossed. Often he will hold to an arcane code of honor, which is perhaps incomprehensible to non-mobsters. He will be very protective of his family and he will ensure that his dear little girl wants for nothing, all while maintaining the illusion of morality. Unlike other villains this type is often fairly Genre Savvy. Quite likely he did read the Evil Overlord List. Also more likely than many villain archetypes to be an Anti-Villain, whose sole interest is in keeping the peace in his town and the money flowing.

The Oyabun is his Yakuza counterpart.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • One Piece has:
    • Capone "Gang" Bege, a pirate captain modeled as one of these, Al Capone in particular. His crew are even dressed as members of The Mafia and refer to him as "Father".
    • The earlier villain Crocodile was the head of the crime syndicate Baroque Works, hides his actions behind a legal business (a casino no less) and certainly had an air of this around him.
    • While it isn't as obvious as the above two examples, Donquixote Doflamingo is most certainly this, being the leader of the Donquixote Family while also being the most powerful underground broker in the New World, having his hand in almost all illicit businesses. Yet despite his ruthlessness, he is shown to deeply care for his most powerful subordinates.
  • Heat Guy J has Lorenzo Leonelli (whose character design is an Expy of Vito Corleone ). He is dead at the beginning of the series, and his Ax-Crazy teenage son takes over the Family.
  • Baccano!! has several, all based in New York. One of the major families effectively has three Dons, a trio of brothers who chose to run the organization together after their father died.
  • Shirogami Ryuji of Tokyo Crazy Paradise, the third-generation head of Kuryugumi, the largest crime syndicate in the Kanto region, despite still being in high school. He succeeded to the position after his father was murdered.
  • Diavolo, head of the Passione and Big Bad of the Vento Aureo arc in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. He takes the Don's typical elusive nature to an extreme, and his entire motivation is to make sure that no one has seen his face and lived. To that end, he operates largely via an alternate personality, naming himself Doppio, which he uses to infiltrate the protagonist's team.

     Audio Drama 
  • Wolfsbane, a lupine alien who controls all of New Vegas in the Big Finish Doctor Who Destiny of the Doctor audiodrama Night of the Whisper.
  • Don Maestro in the Big Finish Doctor Who Companion Chronicles drama Mastermind is a twist on the "protective of his family" element of the trope. The reason he's so protective is because he's the Master in his body-stealing phase, and plans to keep jumping into the bodies of successive generations.

    Comicbooks 
  • Carmine "The Roman" Falcone from the Batman: The Long Halloween miniseries.
  • Wallenquist from Sin City is a rare German gangster mob boss.
  • The Kingpin and Silvio Manfredi of Marvel Comics are two reoccurring leaders of the Maggia, Marvel's expy of the Mafia.
  • The Penguin currently fills this role in Gotham City, having retired from committing crimes peronally - for the most part.

    Film 

    Literature 
  • Colonel Bozzo-Corona, the il'Padre d'Ogni (Allfather) of The Black Coats is perhaps the Ur Example
  • Discworld has "Legitimate Businessman" Chrysoprase the troll, allegedly a 'Ton' in the disorganized crime syndicate, the Breccia. Of course, every sensible troll knows that the Breccia doesn't exist. Definitely not. If it did exist without his permission, Mister Chrysoprase would be very upset. In the animated Wyrd Sisters, Chrysoprase is clearly based on Don Corleone.
    • Very upset [emphasis in the original, usually] is typically how Mister Chrysoprase is described as about to be, generally because someone shows signs of balking at the "eminently reasonable suggestions" being put forth at the present moment by his underlings. However, just about every time Mister Chrysoprase is actually present, he exhibits the tolerance and affability of someone who knows he's going to get his way in the end.
  • Don Bruce the Fairy Godfather of the MYTH Inc. series.
  • Uncle Enzo from Snow Crash.
  • "Gentleman Johnny" Marcone of the The Dresden Files is this to a tee. He's so formidable and Genre Savvy that he even manages to come out ahead when tangling with wizards, vampires, and werewolves.
  • Chodo Contague from the Garrett, P.I. novels is a classic Don. His predecessor was also, although he dies in the first novel before getting much chance to act out this trope.
  • "Papa" Friedlander Bay from George Alec Effinger's Marid Audran series is a classic version, with a strong sense of honor, and strong religious beliefs—which don't stop him from having a hand in most of the organized illegal activities in and around the Budayeen. The primary way that he differs from the archetype is that he's an Arab Muslim, rather than an Italian Catholic.
  • No Hutt could have ever matched the influence held by Prince Xizor, the Big Bad of the Expanded Universe novel Shadows of the Empire. A crimelord who commanded the Black Sun, a galactic ciminal empire with millions of members, he was secretly loyal to Palpatine, and was quite likely the third most influential person in the Empire. His goal was to become number two, replacing Darth Vader in that role.
  • Anthony Luca, the father of main character Vince Luca in Son of the Mob is the most powerful mob boss in New York, having killed his rival, Mario Calabrese and inherited his late mentor's empire. He's nicknamed "Honest Abe" by his allies, with word on the street being that if you deal with Anthony Luca, you'll never get ripped off. Conversely, rip off Anthony Luca and you'll never deal anywhere again. Not in this life.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Rene Benoit of NCIS.
  • Tony Soprano of The Sopranos, and Uncle Junior before him, and Jackie Aprile, Sr. before him. Technically, all three were Acting Boss for Ercole "Eckley" DiMeo, who was convicted and sent to federal prison in Missouri in 1995 (four years before the series begins) until Tony formally takes the title of Boss for himself in Season 6 (Eckley was ancient—over 80—incarcerated, and quite probably senile). The rival New York family has Carmine Lupertazzi, a classic old-school Don. He is replaced by Johnny Sack and Phil Leotardo.
  • Monk has had the occasional run in with these, including once when he was hired by one who wanted to find out who had attacked their barbershop front so as to be sure they where not going to start a needless Mob War.
  • In season 2 of The Wire, "The Greek", unnamed patriarch of the Greek crime syndicate. He's very soft spoken, has a calm civility of another age, masking an icy ruthlessness.
  • LOST has Mr. Paik, Sun's father and Jin's employer.
  • The Guatrau, leader of the Ha'la'tha, on Caprica.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "A Piece of the Action", Captain Kirk, of all people becomes the biggest don on the planet.
    "Nobody's gonna put the bag over Me anymore..."
    • The climax has Kirk implicitly make the Federation President this, by painting the Federation as an interplanetary crime syndicate which Kirk is an enforcer for and which is now muscling in to get its cut of the profits.
  • Jimmy Reardon of Intelligence (2006) has most of the qualities associated with the Don.
  • Ryuubee Sonozaki of Kamen Rider Double.
  • Harry Montebello on The Straits.
  • Hawaii Five-O, the original: The Vachon patriarch, played somewhat against type by Harold Gould, who was usually seen in comedy series. The "V for Vachon" arc ran about 5 episodes spaced over a season.
  • Datak Tarr is one in Defiance. Naturally, he prefers the world see him as an entrepreneur. In the pilot, his bodyguard nearly breaks the arm of a man who runs up to him on the street with his weekly protection payment, as the regular pick-up guy didn't show up. Datak quietly (but angrily) tells the man to go home and wait for someone to come, but never to approach him like that on the street. His wife Stahma, meanwhile, distracts the man's children by offering them sweets.
    • True to this trope, Datak strives to maintain the culture of his lost homeworld, despite the fact that he was the lowest of the low there. His son Alak was born on Earth and wants nothing to do with his father's "business", preferring to immerse himself in human culture (i.e. a typical second-generation immigrant), working as the titular town's radio DJ and nearly squealing with delight when he gets his hands on some old records.

    Pinball 
  • Lord Howard Hurtz from Medieval Madness.
    "I'm gonna make you look like an accident."

    Videogames 
  • Bruto Cadaverini and Winfred "Big Wins" Kitaki from Ace Attorney.
  • Salvatore Leone is perhaps the best known Don of the Grand Theft Auto series. You also meet a couple of Dons of the big five families in Grand Theft Auto IV.
  • Don Corneo of Final Fantasy VII fame. One of the less smart and Genre Savvy examples.
  • Don Pygoscelisnote  of the Kingdom of Loathing's Penguin Mafia.
  • Don Pianta from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. Later his son-in-law Franky takes over, although his daughter is really the one in charge.
  • Each New Reno crime family in Fallout 2 has a leader of this type.
    • Fallout: New Vegas starts off with Nero in this role for the Omertas and Benny filling it for the Chairmen, with Robert House over them both as capo del tutti capi. Marjorie of the White Glove Society is also "under" House, but is more of a conventional CEO type; Mortimer fits the Don trope better, though he's nominally subordinate to Marjorie. Pretty much any part of this can change as a result of the player's actions, with Cachino taking over the Omertas and Swank taking over the Chairmen (and, in one possible ending, with the player taking over from Mr. House as overlord of the entire strip).
  • Don Punchinello in Max Payne is somewhat a subversion of the stereotype: as Max puts it, "Punchinello was a pushover", justified by the fact that he is just a public figurehead used by the real villain to pin the Valkyr distribution on.
  • Aria T'Loak in Mass Effect 2 is the ruler of the Wretched Hive Omega. While not referred as "Don" (it is assumed that she is female but the Asari are a One-Gender Race), she has the entire crime life on Omega in her pocket and shows many of the mannerisms associated with this trope. She's also big on keeping the (relative) peace in Omega. The third game shows that her power seems to extend beyond Omega, as she's capable of bypassing Citadel customs simply by calling up the Asari Councilor.
  • While Team Rocket falls squarely under The Family for the Whole Family, Giovanni is The Don through and through. He even later on picks up a fedora/long coat/corsage combo. However, unlike most examples here, he seems to put his family below his organization.
  • Conkers Bad Fur Day has the infamous Don Weazo, leader of a group of criminal weasels and owner of the Rock Solid.
  • Li Yuan the pirate chief and extortionist in the old game Taipan.
  • Dragon Quest Heroes Rocket Slime has Don Clawleon, the leader of the Plob.
  • David Wai-Lin "Uncle" Po from Sleeping Dogs.
  • Gate of Thunder's villain is Don Jingi, leader of the Obellon crime syndicate.
  • Mister Tayama in Shin Megami Tensei IV. Plans to keep Tokyo forever under his thumb as his "utopia", built on evil so unimaginable even demons are outright horrified. His Ashura-Kai ran largely unopposed, except by the Ring of Gaea and a few scattered demons. However, of the game's antagonists, he's by far the least in the know of what truly is at stake, and is promptly Dragged Off to Hell by the activation of the Yamato Perpetual Reactor.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama has The Don Bot.
  • Peter also has dealings with one in an episode where he gets into debt with the Mob in an episode of Family Guy.
  • The Simpsons has Fat Tony. (However, while Fat Tony is the most well-known mobster in Springfield, he isn't the biggest; he answers to a more powerful one named Don Vittorio DiMaggio.)
  • South Park has Loogie. Despite being an elementary school kid, he's styled after a classic Italian mafioso and runs a racket that steals tooth fairy money from kids around the neighborhood.
  • The most powerful mobster in Gotham city at the outset of Batman: The Animated Series is Rupert Thorne. His old-school methods provide a contrast to those of Batman's more colourful foes.
  • The Legend of Korra has a few Dons running around Roaring Twenties Republic City leading the bending triads. One was Predecessor Villain Yakone, and a more recent one is Lightning Bolt Zolt.
  • Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law had a funny example. Harvey defended Fred Flintstone, who was thought to be this, and who certainly believed himself to be this. Harvey successfully argued that Fred suffered from Identity Amnesia yet again, causing himself to believe he was this trope. Meanwhile, the episode shows plenty of evidence that Fred was indeed The Don. Which is why the Twist Ending showed that Fred never was The Don. Barney Rubble was.
  • The Fairly OddParents has Big Daddy Wanda's actual father

    Real Life 
  • Hungarian gangster Andrei Gyorgy is an interesting and obscure example of this. His smuggling prowess in World War II made him not merely an important crime lord, but a major player in the espionage game. He was hired for various purposes by many different factions including the British, Americans, Germans, the Hungarians and the Zionists and who knows how many others for getting messages, agents, money or whatever to given places. After the war his syndicate broke up and he retired to become an obscure bartender.
  • Carlo Gambino, who many people believe Mario Puzo based Vito Corleone off of.


Dimension LordBadass In ChargeEvil Overlord
Damn It Feels Good to Be a GangsterOrganized Crime TropesThe Family for the Whole Family
Diabolical MastermindCriminalsEvil Parents Want Good Kids
Domestic AbuserVillainsThe Dragon
The ConsigliereImageSource/Live-Action FilmsThe Mafia

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