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The Generalissimo
aka: Tin Pot Dictator
"There are no offensive stereotypes in the glorious Socialist Democratic Federated Republic of Carbombya!"

Dear Lisa, as I write this, I am very sad. Our president has been overthrown and
replaced by the benevolent General Krull. All hail Krull and his glorious new regime! Sincerely, Little Girl.
The Simpsons, Cape Feare

A Sub-Trope of Evil Overlord, as well as The Caligula. The militaristic leader of a fictional third world state or nation (usually African, South American, Eastern European or Middle Eastern). Almost invariably rules a People's Republic of Tyranny. Almost Always Male.

His reign tends to be characterised by human rights abuse, political repression, ethnic persecution, judicial killings, extrajudicial killings, nepotism, and corruption. His political viewpoints (if he even has any) veer towards Communism, Fascism, or some combination of the worst aspects of both. Of course, none of this will stop him from proclaiming himself "The People's Liberator" or otherwise billing himself as a great hero. He may have attended a prestigious Ivy League or Oxbridge university in his youth, where he Majored in Western Hypocrisy. He is often the target of American assassination attempts and rebel groups, who may or may not be figments of his own paranoia. A common feature is to have a guerrilla movement training to overthrow them. Once this happens, the general goes into hiding to train his own revolutionaries to overthrow the government, which will be just as corrupt as the old one (as seen in Tintin and the Picaros). A common twist is to make him a Straw Hypocrite: he doesn't really care for his stated ideology, but uses it to cement his hold on power.

Tends to be based on one or more real-life dictators, most commonly Chiang Kai-Shek, Augusto Pinochet, Benito Mussolini, Hideki Tojo, Francisco Franco, Rafael Trujillo, Joseph Stalin, Fidel Castro, Mao Zedong, Idi Amin, Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein. This is often used to make an Anvilicious point about said real-life dictator's policies. Surprisingly, Adolf Hitler is rarely parodied in this manner, perhaps because the man himself is enough of an acceptable target (although one of his henchmen, Hermann Goering, did famously dress this way).

Usually dressed in military garb, with a Chest of Medals and topped with a Commissar Cap. Common traits include facial hair of some sort, cigar smoking, a hatred of democracy, a long list of self-bestowed titles, and naming cities and monuments after himself. Because Generalissimos often have little political credibility but self-delusions of grandeur, they are often also called Tin Pot Dictators.


Examples

Comic Books
  • Tintin has encountered several of these, notably General Alcazar (although he becomes relatively more heroic later) and General Tapioca.
  • Benoit Brisefer, a French comic, has one such island Banana Republic with three generals (army, navy and air), who are constantly taking and retaking the palace from each other and declaring themselves Arch-Generalissimo or other inflated titles. Meanwhile, the dirt-poor inhabitants have grown used to all this nonsense and carry on life as usual (it helps that the soldiers are all remarkably inept, employing A-Team Firing to the fullest).
  • In Tex Willer one of their antagonists in a mini arc set in Mexico is basically aiming at this position, but his plans are thwarted and eventually comes back for revenge in another arc.

Film

Literature
  • Mentioned by Terry Pratchett in Lords and Ladies as "Some people are born to kingship. Some achieve kingship, or at least Arch-Generalissimo-Father-of-His-Countryship.", possibly referring to Franco.
  • "Mad Dog" Branzillo of A Swiftly Tilting Planet rules the fictional South American country Vespugia. The plot revolves around going back in time and changing events so that Branzillo becomes a benevolent ruler instead.
  • The Autumn of the Patriarch as the dictator (unnamed) as its protagonist.
  • The Feast of the Goat gives us the real-life Rafael Trujillo.

Live-Action TV
  • Parodied in an episode of 30 Rock. Elisa's (Salma Hayek) grandmother hates Jack because he bears a striking resemblance to the Generalissimo, the villain of her favorite soap opera. Jack (being the President of NBC) acquires Telemundo and attempts to have the Generalissimo killed off. Unfortunately, since the show is apparently broadcast live, the actor playing the Generalissimo goes Off the Rails when the female protagonist attempts to shoot him.
    [subtitled in Spanish] "Ha! You missed! Now I shall drink this magic potion that will allow me to live forever!"
  • In Mission: Impossible, the IMF would occassionally be tasked with dealing with these. In the pilot episode, the team has to retrieve nuclear warheads being held in the hotel the Generalissimo uses as his party headquarters.

Music

Video Games
  • You can play as one of these in Tropico. One of the backgrounds, one of the outfits, and one of the hats are all called "Generalissimo", with the background having you take power in a military dictatorship, and the outfit and hat being a military officer's uniform with a big general's hat. To top it all off, you can put a beard on or mustache on your avatar as well. It's up to you how far you actually take this, however.
    • If you don't want to make your own avatar, you can just pick a pre-made one, with predetermined traits, backgrounds, appearances, and outfits. These include real world dictators such as Juan Peron of Argentina, Fidel Castro of Cuba, and Manuel Noriega of Panama.
      • Funny that, since Peron wasn't a dictator, but a democratically elected president who won two times, was overthrown by an actual military dictatorship, and then returned and won again.
    • In the early missions of Tropico 4, "Generalissimo Santana" teaches you the finer points in running a country. Eventually he reveals himself to be a Treacherous Advisor and frames you for the assassination of the US president so he can take over Tropico.
  • Street Fighter: M. Bison
  • Battlefield: Bad Company 1 has Zavomir Serdar, dictator of the fictional country Serdaristan. His role is mostly comic relief and The Load to B Company.
  • General Viper in Chrono Cross, who rules El Nido with his Acacia Dragoons. He's actually a rare heroic example; he might be authoritarian, but he's a good ruler and was only after Serge because he was being manipulated by Lynx.
  • In Hearts of Iron 2, Resigned Generalissimo is one of the possible trait for the Head of State.
  • Queen-for-Life Deidranna in Jagged Alliance 2. You know it's gotta be bad when her own husband is the one who hires you to take her out.
  • In the original Bionic Commando, the evil dictator trying to re-activate the secret Imperial Army superweapon is named Generalissimo Killt in the American release of the game. He has the stereotypical dictatorial appearance, in that he dresses exactly like the aforementioned M. Bison and looks like a slightly melted Brian Regan, and is characterized with the expected arrogance and military fervor. He also kind of gets Hijacked by Ganon when he gets killed off by a revived Hitler.
  • Colonel Allende in Red Dead Redemption, who perfectly fits the archetype of "Corrupt Central American military leader" as befits the adherence of the game to various kinds of Western films. John Marston plays both fields in the rebellion to try and get his target, but eventually works completely against the government after Allende tries to have him executed.
  • General Raul Grasiento, who appears in Broken Sword II, who has a crush on Nicole (much to her dismay), and George notes that he had all the medals in the wrong side of the chest. In a variation of the trope, he isn't the leader of his country, Quaramonte. That position belongs to his mother. And in an even odder variant, he pulls a Heel-Face Turn towards the end, and helps the heroes save the day.
  • In the original Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, Big Boss is this.

Western Animation

Other
  • After the fiasco of the 2000 Presidential election, The Onion ran a shot of Bill Clinton photoshopped into a Generalissimo uniform with the title "Clinton declares Self President for Life."


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alternative title(s): Tin Pot Dictator
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