The Good Chancellor
"This man has carried me since I was five years old. It's my turn."As the Evil Chancellor is plotting to control the kingdom by usurping power, the Good Chancellor serves his kingdom or nation with utmost fervour. He follows the King's orders to the letter if the king is noble, and he tries to mitigate the suffering of his people if the king's intentions are of the bad kind. Rarely would he be seen actively opposing the King's actions, since as a Lawful Good person, he must not let ideas like rebellion or jealousy get in the way of running the kingdom in the king's name. This often does not sit well with some rebels, who see him as a moderate who must lose his head for being a supposed Yes-Man to the king they want on a pike. When meeting the heroes, he, not the king, is usually the true person who has information about the situation at hand. The king may know of the secrets, but the Chancellor knows the best answer for them. In terms of the ranks of Authority Tropes, the tropes that are equal are The Caligula, Evil Chancellor, Standard Royal Court and Deadly Decadent Court. The next step down is The Brigadier. The next steps up are The Evil Prince, Prince Charming, Prince Charmless, Warrior Prince, The Wise Prince, and all Princess Tropes.
— Emperor Gregor Vorbarra (regarding Aral Vorkosigan), Vorkosigan Saga
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Anime & Manga
- Dan'l Baboon from Kimba the White Lion.
- Mizuki Kamurougi from Kagerou-Nostalgia is the fiancée of Princess Mio XI and her Prime Minister in all but name. He's a cold-blooded self-admitted Manipulative Bastard who doesn't particularly care about hurting anybody's feelings and sees emotion and empathy as weaknesses, yet there's no denying that he's effective at his post, and is not only completely loyal to the Princess, but despite his protestations to the contrary, genuinely in love with her. When she dies Mizuki takes over the reins of the kingdom, and has no trouble earning the loyalty of the population.
- The kirin of The Twelve Kingdoms are ostensibly this. Subverted though due to their Stupid Good natures. Good rulers learn when to heed their kirin and when to disregard their advice because compassion alone cannot administer a nation.
Films — Animated
- In The Magic Voyage, that unnamed scary pale guy lurking behind the king's throne may be an intentional subversion of the Evil Chancellor or an Aborted Arc. Either way, despite his shady appearance all he ever does is try to calm the king down and warn him not to trust Columbus, both of which are good things to say given Columbus' portrayal in the movie.
Films — Live-Action
- The Grand Vizier in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad has taken over the running of the city since the death of the old caliph and wears a golden mask to hide a face hideously scarred by fire. He is also, however, brave, noble and wise, and a true companion to Sinbad throughout the adventure.
- General Afir in Mom and Dad Save the World. He is notable in that, while his evil boss (along with everyone else on the planet) is an idiot, he's reasonably competent and isn't all that interested in destroying the Earth.
- In The Lord of the Rings, the Stewards of Gondor have as their proudest boast that they never made themselves kings, and ruled the city strictly in the name of the King until an heir to the throne returned. Even Denethor, as crazy as he was, never tried to claim the throne.
Gandalf: Authority is not given to you to deny the return of the king, Steward.
- It is stated that Denethor was and remained The Good Chancellor, despite being almost completely overcome with grief and despair in his final days, brought on by the stress of holding together a state in decline, combined with the despair brought on by the death of his wife and oldest son, as well as Sauron's lies. Even at the very end, though, he showed himself an excellent statesman and soldier, preparing as best he could for war, though he did not hope for victory. For example, the attack against Osgiliath, portrayed in the movies as suicidal, was in fact a brilliantly timed counterattack that took advantage of the enemy's bottleneck (crossing the Anduin river) and the fact that the forces that had crossed had were forced to fan out to secure the city. The counterattack ended up buying Minas Tirith time to prepare, and time to evacuate the civilian population of the land surrounding Minas Tirith (the city itself had long since been evacuated). Perhaps most importantly, Denethor was actually stronger than Saruman, an angelic being, in that he managed to use the palantír extensively without actually being corrupted, though he was not able to control it, allowing Sauron to show him images of unassailable strength, which contributed to his despair.
- The Rivan Warders, always named Brand, are a deliberate homage to this in David Eddings's The Belgariad.
- Though he has no desire to take the throne, he refused to bow down to Aragorn.
Denethor: The rule of Gondor is mine! And no other's!
I am Steward of the House of Anárion. I will not step down to be the dotard chamberlain of an upstart. Even were his claim proved to me, still he comes but of the line of Isildur. I will not bow to such a one, last of a ragged house long bereft of lordship and dignity. [ROTK- The Pyre of Denethor]
- He doesn't consider Aragorn to be the true heir though, since the Council of Gondor ruled out Isildur's line from having a right to the throne long ago, though Denethor conveniently ignores that Aragorn is Anárion's heir as well, though through the female line by marriage, not a direct male-line descendant. Denethor also ignores that, without Aragorn's tenuous relation, the House of Anárion is extinct (though the Kings of Rohan are distantly related), and Aragorn, as Isildur's heir, is also the heir of Elendil, who founded both kingdoms and fathered both Isildur and Anárion, giving him by far the strongest claim to the throne of Gondor, to the point where he is the only viable candidate.
- In the original Arabian Nights stories, Jafar, vizier to the Caliph Harun al-Rashid, is portrayed as one of these.
- Romance of the Three Kingdoms has a few of these:
- Chen Gong is this to Lü Bu, always trying to give him good advice and staying loyal to him even after his death.
- Wang Yun to Emperor Xian
- Zhuge Liang to Liu Bei.
- In Interesting Times, Twoflower ends up as the Prime Minister of the Agatean Empire, replacing an evil chancellor, despite not knowing what to do. Discworld runs on narrativium (the implication is that someone who did know about it would become evil), but luckily Twoflower is Wrong Genre Savvy: he thinks he's in a heroic fantasy, not a Crapsack World satire.
- He does end up betraying his monarch, but he has a very good reason for that: if he doesn't, there is a very large risk that the world will end.
- The Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Willin the elf. He's perhaps overly fond of tradition and ceremonies—he insists on referring to the king as "Your Majesty" even in private, and his greatest pleasure is organizing elaborate formal occasions—but he's fiercely loyal and keeps the castle administration running smoothly.
- In L. Frank Baum's Oz books, the Scarecrow takes up this position for Ozma.
- Kaliko was this to the Nome King for some time until Ruggedo was dethroned and Kaliko Offered the Crown in his place. He was portrayed as much more competent than his boss and consistently had the best interests of his kingdom at hear, although aside from one Pet the Dog moment towards Betsy, he was pretty neutral towards the heroes.
- In Robert E. Howard's King Kull stories, Kull's vizier Tu fits this trope, helping the mighty but savage warrior navigate the dangerous complexities of royal tradition and Valusia's Deadly Decadent Court.
- Prospero to Conan the Barbarian as well.
- A Song of Ice and Fire:
Stark: What do you want from me?Varys: I want you to serve the realm.
- The various Hands of the King all seem to be this. Jon Arryn and Ned Stark work very hard to support the rule of King Robert, while Tyrion and Tywin did the same for Joffrey. The only possible exception is the aforementioned Tywin, who helped depose the mad King Aerys, but only after he'd been sacked. Before that he was Aerys's best friend, leading Westeros through twenty years of peace and prosperity before Aerys got jealous and sacked him in anger. Lord Stannis, Robert's brother, tried to be this as well. Despite being only Master of Ships and Lord of the small island of Dragonstone he was one of the main helpers to Jon Arryn.
- Varys may be a conniving, sneaky Magnificent Bastard who is rightly distrusted by... well, everyone in Kings Landing. And yet, on the eve of Ned Stark's execution, Varys is his only visitor, brings him water and keeps him informed of the happenings in the court. When questioned by Ned about who he serves, his response is simply "the realm." Of course, after A Dance with Dragons shows him to be somewhat less pure-hearted than previously believed, this applies a little less.
- Kevan Lannister is the loyal lieutenant to his ruthless brother Tywin, de facto ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. Unlike his brother, he is a good and honest man, though not very assertive, and too willing to carry out Tywin's darker commands such as burning the Riverlands. However, in A Dance with Dragons, he has to become regent for the underage King after every other viable Lannister candidate is dead, disgraced or otherwise unavailable, and he proves to be nearly as capable as Tywin and far more kind about it. He's so good, in fact, that he might be the one man who could keep the Lannister regime from falling apart. Which is why Varys has him murdered, because Varys wants the realm to keep decaying until the Targaryens can return to retake the throne.
- In The Hedge Knight, Baelor Breakspear is a straight example.
- Paul Kidd's Talking Animal novel The Fangs Of Kaath, has the Grand Vizier of the Kingdom of Osra who is seemingly the only good hearted member of the court outside Prince Raschid. In fact, given that the Shah is callously indifferent to his own son, the Vizier is effectively much more a father to the naive prince than his biological one. Even Raschid's love, the cynical Sandhri, is the first to defend the Vizier when Raschid suspects him of jailing her without cause. When the villains magically drive him to his death, Raschid learns he is singled out for an inheritance, but his only request is the honor of carrying his beloved friend's ashes to his tomb at the funeral.
- Just about every First Counselor or person of equivalent rank is this in the Safehold series. Largely because the rulers of Safehold's kingdoms are typically smart enough to get good people into the position and both ruler and chancellor are concerned for their kingdom's well being.
- Lord Admiral Aral Vorkosigan was appointed Regent for five year old Emperor Gregor in the Vorkosigan Saga, serving loyally for fifteen years when most of his enemies thought he would make a grab for the throne. Upon Gregor's ascension to the throne, he stepped down and continued in the role as the Emperor's Prime Minister.
- Prime Minister Allen Summervale, Duke of Cromarty in the Honor Harrington universe. Even though the queen becomes more and more involved in politics, it is Cromarty who steers the Star Kingdom of Manticore through much of the First Havenite War. When he is killed in an assassination attempt on the queen, it puts the realm in a major crisis.
- Darien Serlast essentially runs the Kingdom of Welce in Elemental Blessings. He himself admits that he doesn't like it, but his personality will not let him put aside any burden that has been placed on his shoulders. His competency and loyalty are the reasons why the Primes are considering making him the king to resolve the Succession Crisis
- The Giver's role in the Community is to advise them well based on the memories he's received.
Live Action TV
- Babylon 5 had Prime Minister Malachi, a dedicated servant to Centauri Emperor Turhan. Lord Refa and the other warmongering nobles assassinated Malachi in the wake of Emperor Turhan's death because they wanted to put their own puppet on the throne, and they knew that there was no way Malachi would allow a psychotic megalomaniac like Cartagia (the puppet in question) to reach the throne. In the end, of course, they would have been better off keeping Malachi and killing Cartagia...
- Felix Gaeta tried to be this during Gaius Baltar's "tyrannical" reign as a puppet of the Cylons on New Caprica, in Battlestar Galactica (2003).
- In I, Claudius (and in history), there is Narcissus and Claudius' other freemen. They might or might not count as evil (they were ruthlessly protective of their man, after all), but they were loyal to Claudius.
- In Tin Man Ambrose is all over this trope and has the exact same position in the Ozian court as his Scarecrow counterpart. When the Mooks march into the Queen's garden, he literally stands between them and his Queen, ready to die for her. Of course, is isn't killed, but he is given a alchemical lobotomy and tossed into the wild, taking the name "Glitch." His loyalty and service to the Queen is one of the very few things he will never forget.
- Police Commissioner Frank Reagan in Blue Bloods is a very good example of this. He is sternly incorruptible and has an air of gravitas that reminds one of an idealized Roman Magistrate.
- Borusa was this for one story (despite not legally being chancellor because there was no one around to actually appoint him). He did such a good job of it that by the time we next see him, he's President, but shortly after that he fits another trope entirely.
- Elder Shi from Chinese Paladin is this, loyally obeying the King even when he believes the orders to be idiotic (and says as much). The trope is given a slight twist, however, in his staunch insistence on Violence Is the Only Option towards the Big Bad, a position that sets him at (further) odds with the heroes. It turns out that Violence Really Is the Answer.
- Despite not having any official position (and that's purely because Arthur is extremely Wrong Genre Savvy), Merlin qualifies for this trope quite well. He's one of the wisest characters in the cast, gives consistently good advice,and helps the oppressed magical people. It's extremely telling that when Princess Mithian wanted to marry Arthur, she went to Merlin to ask for his support, noting that Arthur valued his opinion above all others. This was after being in Camelot for a total of one day.
Religion And Mythology
- Archduke Norris in Traveller.
- In one sample campaign in GURPS Arabian Nights, there is an NPC whom everyone thinks is an Evil Chancellor but is really a Good Chancellor.
- There's also a description of how to make a good vizier in the character creation section, but with a caveat that the Evil Grand Vizier is an expected trope of the genre...
- In the past of Warhammer 40,000, Malcador the Sigillite. The Emperor's right-hand man and regent when away from Terra, he is the greatest politician, administrator, and (non-Physical God) human psyker of all time, as the Emperor is the greatest everything else.
- In Rocket Age they are less common than their counterparts amongst the Martian ruling caste, but they do exist. Danny Hatfield, human prince of J'lkarine has a very loyal courtesan named Gavat who functions as one.
- In Fallout 3, Scribe Rothchild can be seen as the Good Chancellor to the Lyon's Pride. He is the one who knows about the nitty gritty details of fighting the Enclave.
- Senior Council Member McClure served in most regards as this to First Citizen Lynette of Vault City in Fallout 2. He is one of the most prominent politicians of Vault City, behind only the First Citizen herself. He is also much less bigoted, and more willing to listen to reason. It is publically known that he butts heads with her repeatedly, though.
- Magistrate Lasselle in Star Ocean Till The End Of Time. He's generally a jerk, but only has the kingdom's best interests in mind.
- There are two in Chrono Trigger, but they're both kidnapped and replaced with an evil doppelganger.
- Apus Major in Dragon Quest IX. Although Zenus and Celestria are the two technical leaders of the Celestrians, they have long since disappeared. Apus Major leads the Celestrians in their stead, but fortunately he is extremely loyal to the gods and a generally fair-minded ruler.
- Although he's part of a board of directors instead of a royal court, Reeve Tuesti of Final Fantasy VII fits this role to a T. He struggles for a while between following orders and doing what's best for the people of his city and the world at large, and eventually chooses to be on the side of the good guys.
- Ocato in The Elder Scrolls, but particularly in Oblivion, where he actually plays a role bigger than being mentioned or just showing up in a short cutscene with no lines. The fact that the (good) Emperor spends the entire game dead in Uriel's case or not actually taken the throne and later becoming an avatar in Martin's probably helps.
- Skyrim reveals that for ten years after the Oblivion Crisis, Ocato served as the de facto leader of the Empire while the Elder Council debated on who should take the throne. Unfortunately for the Empire, (and the rest of Tamriel in general), he was so good at keeping the peace that the Thalmor decided to have him assassinated.
- While he's technically the seneschal of Vigil's Keep, Varel functions as this trope in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening. Prior to the start of the story, Varel was imprisoned by Arl Rendon Howe for attempting to counteract the worst of his lord's atrocities. When the Grey Wardens are awarded the arling of Amaranthine, he is re-appointed as seneschal and is a helpful ally.
- The Warden can become one to whomever becomes ruler of Ferelden at the end of Dragon Age: Origins.
- Dragon Age II, if played from a save file that saw Alistair become Ferelden's ruler, can have Hawke encounter said sovereign in a small quest during Act 3. Also appearing in the scene is Bann Teagan, brother to the Arl of Redcliffe, who has apparently become this trope.
- The Chancellor of Figaro, in Final Fantasy VI, seems to be this in the few appearences he makes.
- Sabato from Shining the Holy Ark was the most trusted royal adviser before Evil Chancellor Rilix turned up. While still loyal to the king, who is making increasingly odd decisions, he helps/manipulates the main characters to save the kingdom.
- Chancellor Eamon from the Diablo series stayed in Tristram and tried his best to save what lives he could when the Darkening was going down. Unfortunately, the people viewed him as having some kind of hand in King Leoric being driven mad (though Lazarus was more to blame for that than anything else), resulting in his death when Leoric fell.
- Impa from The Legend of Zelda is portrayed as always looking out for the best interests of Princess Zelda and the Kingdom of Hyrule. Occasionally, she is even shown as a Parental Substitute for Zelda. Even in Skyward Sword, where Zelda is not a princess and there is no Kingdom of Hyrule to be a chancellor in, she manages to fulfill the same role.
- Imhotep (believed to have lived between 2660 and 2600 BC), Chancellor to King Djoser of the Egyptian Third Dynasty, and was the first engineer, architect, and physician known to history by name. He was such a respected figure in Ancient Egypt he was deified and considered a god after his death, something usually reserved only to the Pharaohs. He even got a constellation note . Pity about that Historical Villain Upgrade though...
- During the Cultural Revolution in China, Zhou Enlai, the Premier of the PRC and widely considered to be Mao's Number Two, used his authority to save artists, intellectuals, and ancient treasures from the blood-thirsty Red Guards.
- Henry VIII's Lord Chancellor Sir Thomas More might, or might not, be an example. He was canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church for his refusal to ratify his king's breach with Catholicism, but he is regarded by some non-Catholics as a monster for his persecution of heretics when his king was still a Catholic.
- A case can be made for Henry VIII's Secretary Thomas Cromwell and More's predecessor as Chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey - both were hated by pretty much everyone but they ran things pretty well for Henry. There's a reason Henry later regretted having Cromwell executed.
- Maio of Bari, the 'amiratus amiratorum' ('emir of emirs' or 'admiral of admirals') and Chancellor of Sicily in the 1150s, was either a Good Chancellor or an Evil Chancellor, depending on who you listen to. According to the mysterious chronicler known only as Hugo Falcandus, Maio made public speeches to the effect that if Sicily's king, William I, ordered anything barbarous or cruel, Maio would countermand the orders - making him a Good Chancellor. Amusingly, Falcandus uses these supposed speeches to illustrate that Maio was actually an Evil Chancellor, grasping after the king's power.
- The "Duke of Zhou" is practically a mythic figure out of Chinese history. He lived during the Early Zhou Dynasty and acted as steward to the imperial throne, stepping down after the emperor came of age despite his renown at court and the accepted fact that he could have usurped the throne with literally no difficulty and established his own dynasty. Confucius and nearly every Chinese historian and philosopher since have sung his praises for this expounding upon him as the perfect statesman.