"Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance, and respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope."
The Good King is honorable, virtuous, wise and understanding. He cares about his subjects no matter how seemingly unimportant they are and puts their well-being above his own. He governs the land fairly
, is a Royal Who Actually Does Something
and is often very modest about his rank and position
. He also tends to be soft spoken, but when a Good King raises his voice, you’d better listen
. Remember, good does not always equal soft
If the work takes place during a war expect this king to be on the front lines
and always putting The Men First
. When it comes to the actual battle The Good King tends to lead the charge and is normally skilled and efficient in combat
Above all else, a Good King cares about his kingdom and his people and will sacrifice
himself to protect them, even if that means putting Honor Before Reason
Any work where the king has been killed by an Evil Prince
, The Caligula
, Evil Uncle
or Evil Chancellor
will normally portray the deceased king as this, to serve as a contrast to the current evil regime. After The Good King
dies, he will almost inevitably be followed by a Sketchy Successor
Like The High Queen
, the Good King runs the risk of being a Mary Sue
if his writers are not careful. Because of this the Good King will rarely be the main character but may serve as The Mentor
to the protagonist. If the protagonist is one of his children expect his Papa Wolf
tendencies to come into play.
May be Happily Married
to The High Queen
thus a Ruling Couple
. When a Prince Charming
or Wise Prince
grows up, he tends to become this.
See also, Hobbes Was Right
In terms of the ranks of Authority Tropes
, the tropes that are equal are The High Queen
, God Save Us from the Queen!
, The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask
, She Is the King
, Iron Lady
, and President Evil
. The next steps down are The Evil Prince
, Prince Charming
, Prince Charmless
, Warrior Prince
, The Wise Prince
, and all Princess Tropes
. The next step up is The Emperor
. See also Benevolent Mage Ruler
if the king is also a spellcaster.
Anime and Manga
- In One Piece, King Nefeltari Cobra cares deeply about his people. When a revolution takes place within his country, he's more concerned that his subjects are unhappy than he is about his own safety.
- Same with King Neptune of Fishman Island, who used his own body to shield his subjects from an attack.
- Also with Wapol's father was a king that cared for his subjects and was beloved by all. His son on the other hand...
- Kimba and his father before him from Kimba the White Lion.
- Hotohori in Fushigi Yuugi. He rules with fairness and he really is a Nice Guy. It's just too bad he got chi-blasted by Nakago, because after that, the Konan Empire started falling apart, despite Houki and Boushin's best efforts.
- Sinbad of Sindria and Alibaba's father in Balbadd in Magi - Labyrinth of Magic.
- In Fate/Zero, Saber, Rider, and Archer (all of whom were kings in life) have a discussion on what makes a king a king. Saber (King Arthur) is the one who embodies the Good King archetype, which is dismissed by Rider (Alexander the Great) as a childish ideal, but Archer (Gilgamesh) finds some beauty in striving for something that cannot be obtained, and seems to respect Saber for her convictions, even if he doesn't agree with them personally.
- The King of the World from Dragon Ball is a minor character, but is shown to be a kind and noble ruler (and later in the story, one of the few Earthlings to figure out that normal means will just get people killed against Cell.)
Film — Animated
- Ambrose/Flycatcher in Vertigo's Fables series (He even got a TPB/Storyarc called "The Good Prince").
- King Cole is shown to be a Good King, back when he still had a kingdom.
- Marvel's Black Panther, superhero and ruler of Wakanda.
- In The Mighty Thor, we have Odin, king of the Aesir.
- In The Inhumans, there's Black Bolt, king of the eponymous Inhumans.
- In Jack Kirby's New Gods, there is Highfather, ruler of New Genesis.
- Conan the Barbarian eventually becomes this.
- In Scion, there is King Dane of the Heron Dynasty.
- In Aquaman, we have Arthur Curry, the eponymous hero, who is also king of Atlantis.
- While Orm, Aquaman's half brother doesn't think highly of humanity, in the New 52, he's decidedly a good king who Atlanteans seem to respect and speak highly of.
- Namor's attitude of the outside world tends to change Depending on the Writer but one thing is always constant; he loves Atlantis and his people and will do anything to protect them.
- After becoming king of the Planet Sakaar The Hulk actively worked to rebuilt his new kingdom, maintain peace with the resident Starfish Aliens and was more than willing to spend the rest of his life ruling Sakaar peacefully. Unfortunately it didn’t take long for Sakaar to be destroyed by an outside source. Or was it an outside source?
- Hulk also becomes this in House of M, where he becomes ruler of Australia after overthrowing the mutant government there, turning it into one of the last free bastions of human society in Magneto's mutant dominated world.
- Little Nemo: Morpheus, king of Slumberland.
- As the events of Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Promise, set between the events of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, show, being a good king can actually cause conflicts, as trying to do right by their own people sets Fire Lord Zuko and Earth King Kuei at loggerheads over the Fire Nation colonies built on Earth Kingdom land.
- King Clarkie II in Strontium Dog. While he is naïve, childish and more than a little spacey, he is also deeply committed to the welfare of his people, including mutants, and firmly anti-Kreeler. It takes a bit of effort to get him going, but once he has been prodded into action, he will always do the right thing.
Film — Live Action
Folklore and Mythology
- Disney kings include:
- Mufasa in The Lion King. The sequels show that Simba is following in his father's footsteps.
- The emperor from Disney's Mulan was more concerned with protecting his people from the invading Huns than with his own safety.
- The Prince of the Forest from Bambi is revered by everyone.
- Kings Stefan (Princess Aurora's father) and Hubert (Prince Phillip's father) from Sleeping Beauty are both affable fellows looking for the well being of their kingdoms.
- Arthur "Wart" Pendragon from The Sword in the Stone. The sword proved it.
- King Richard the Lionheart (a literal lion) from Robin Hood. Everything gets better once he arrives; Jon is imprisoned and Robin Hood gets a Happily Ever After ending with Marion.
- King Triton from The Little Mermaid; although he's heavy-handed in a Fantasy-Forbidding Father kind of way, it was always with Ariel's safety in mind.
- The Sultan in Aladdin is an interesting example; he was always nice, but in the movie was insignificant because he had been controlled by an Evil Vizier so long. Then in the series, he develops into The Good King.
- He expresses, at one point, genuine surprise that there are impoverished people living in his kingdom - though his inflection indicates a compassionate concern for them.
- Zeus from Hercules.
- Kashekhim Nedakh and, later, his son-in-law Milo (after he marries Kida, Kashekhim's daughter) from Atlantis The Lost Empire.
- The King of Maldonia (Prince Naveen's father) from The Princess and the Frog. Since he disowned Naveen for being a layabout womanizer, we can assume he is the opposite.
- Rapunzel's father from Tangled has little screen time, but the kingdom of Corona is doing well.
- Pixar example: King Fergus (Merida's father) from the film Brave has mantained peace among three tribes that look for an excuse to start a war.
- King Harold from the Shrek films; presumably, Artie becomes this after the third movie.
- Heath from The Princess and the Pea.
- While not the original, King Arthur is the Trope Codifier and adaptations featuring him usually portray him as this.
- Many of the tales also describe Uther as a good, much beloved king as well.
- Richard The Lionheart in various Robin Hood adaptations, particularly in contrast to his brother John.
- While he was also a dick, the titular character in The Epic of Gilgamesh became this to his people after meeting Enkidu (though he still bragged a lot).
- The legend the children's song is based on. "Good king Wenceslas looked out, on the feast of Stephen..."
- Beowulf, speaking of King Scyld of the Danes, just comes out and says "he was a good king." Or, more accurately, "Þæt wæs gōd cyning." As it sounds, literally "That was good kinging." Seamus Heaney's popular translation has it as "That was one good king," which loses something.
- In The Chronicles of Narnia, Peter and Edmund become Good Kings after the events of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, with their sisters Susan and Lucy becoming High Queens. Prince Caspian also fits this trope after he comes to power.
- In King Crow, King Cormac is peaceful and kind. The neighboring king, Bregant, is anything but.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, Robb Stark and Renly Baratheon both see themselves as this, and the view is shared by most of their followers. Of course, given the Grey and Grey Morality of the series, both are debatable. Robb and Renly do stand out, because they manage to gather large hosts of followers and become major players in the game of thrones, not by having particularly good claims for kingship, but by convincing others they'd be kind and righteous rulers. Robert Baratheon, whilst being outwardly a good king, is actually someone who uses the office for the pursuit of wine, women and song and lets the game of thrones happen by not keeping a firm and righteous hand on the tiller. It seems more to be a deconstruction of the trope: a king can be outwardly decent whilst being somewhat of a figure of fun and an oaf who allows himself to be deceived as to the identity of his supposed "children" and led into a fatal trap by his own wife.
- There have currently been up to twenty people in the history of Westeros that have sat on the Iron Throne, and out of them, only three are considered to be "good" in any degree. First was Jaehaerys I, called The Old King; he was probably the closest they ever had to a truly good king. He reigned for fifty years of peace during which he ended the war with the faith militant peacefully, got rid of the right of first night, and brought a truce too two houses that had been at war for two thousand years. The second was Baelor I, called The Blessed; he was not a bad king but did make some bad decisions (to the point that Tyrion calls him Baelor the Befuddled) and was mostly remembered fondly because he was highly religious. Third was Daeron II, called The Good; he was the one who brought Dorne into the seven Kingdoms, through marriage, and brought an end to a major civil war, though most of the work was done by his sons and brother. Also of note is that none of these three were considered warrior kings at all. All three of them were better known as scholarly kings.
- Aegon V, Aegon the Unlikely, was remembered quite fondly as well, mostly thanks to the influence of his boyhood protector Ser Duncan.
- Carrot of Discworld is an interesting version of this trope. He’s the lost-long heir to the Throne of Ankh-Morpork and an embodiment of all the fantastic kingly tropes. While everyone knows or suspects that he’s the rightful king, he doesn't want the job - he's content with being a watchman while Lord Vetinari rules the city. However, he does occasionally make "suggestions" that even Vetinari finds hard to ignore, although they're almost always for the good of the city.
- King Verence II of Lancre is a benevolent and hard-working ruler who, unlike most of his predecessors, takes his job quite seriously. Although well-regarded by his subjects, Verence's attempts at modernizing his rustic backwater of a mountain kingdom go almost entirely unappreciated by the people of Lancre, who are unsophisticated but practical rural folk who are more concerned about getting up at 5:00 in the morning to milk the cows than attending parliament. He may not be the most confident ruler since his subjects don't really care about what he's doing for them, but gods know he's trying his best and people do appreciate that much about him.
- The current Low King of the Dwarfs, Rhys Rhysson, and Mr. Shine, the Diamond King of the Trolls. The two of whom work together to finally bring peace between their two peoples after centuries of emnity.
- In Feet of Clay, the golems create a another golem with the intent of making him a Good King. He didn't exactly turn out the way they hoped.
- The Appendices for The Lord of the Rings says that Aragorn and Éomer became this for Gondor and Rohan respectively, after the One Ring is destroyed and the Age of Men began.
- Théoden, before falling under Saruman's spell, was very much a Good King. Once he recovers, he leads his people to Helm's Deep to protect them from Saruman's army.
- Some Haldane kings in the Deryni works are portrayed or described as this, notably Kelson. Brion's reign is to be more fully depicted in the upcoming prequel, but he appears in descriptions and flashbacks as this.
- Eon in Belisarius Series.
- Later Kungas too, though Kungas was a bit more grim and ruthless then Eon. Rao as well by being married to Shakuntala.
- Deltora Quest: Lief grows into this after the first seven books reveal he's the heir to the throne.
- Adin, the first King of Deltora, is also depicted this way (albeit with minimal detail).
- Babar is the king of the elephants.
- A few in The Bible: Melchizedek of Salem, David (barring his Uriah Gambit) and Solomon of unified Israel, Jehoshophat and Hezekiah of Judah, and Jehu of Israel. The ascended Jesus is the ultimate example.
- The Tortall Universe's Jonathan of Conté wanted to be this since the beginning; at the end of the the first book he says that his cousin has done the kingdom a favor by sending him into danger because people will think twice before they take on a prince-or a king-who can defeat demons.
- Of course, while he's a fairly good king, he's not necessarily a nice person, who can often be stuck-up, arrogant and commanding even to his closest friends. Sir Keladry of Mindelan in particular is very critical of him.
- When Conan the Barbarian becomes the king of Aquilonia he becomes one of these. He institutes religious freedom, lowers taxes, and punishes nobles who mistreat commoners. Whenever Aquilonia goes to war Conan personally leads his troops into battle rather than having one of his generals do it. True to his barbarian upbringing he is also modest, preferring simple garments (though made of fine fabric) to ornate and garish clothing.
- The aptly-named King Håkon the Good of Norway, as described in Heimskringla. He is mild, just and generous, but also an excellent warleader who heads his troops in battle and mercilessly crushes Danish sea-raiders. He is so universally admired that, when he is killed in battle by his nephews the sons of Erik Bloodaxe, even they agree that he is the best king that Norway ever had or will have.
- Trapped on Draconica: King Alister of Britannia to contrast the Evil Overlord Gothon. His goodness is more indirect than others on this list: he has four superpowered daughters and three of them decided to become superheroes due to their upbringing. The fourth wanted to be a superhero to earn his affection and attention but only caused trouble and so she fell to evil.
- Gaborn in the first part of The Runelords constantly ponders morality and questions himself in a desperate attempt to be one, struggling against the limits of his role as Earth King and with the necessary evil of endowments when pitted against foes who are much more ruthless and rapacious than him. His and Iome's fathers aren't perfect but they live up to it in the end as well. Raj Ahten started down his path to evil with similar good intentions, though tainted by pride.
- Emperor Gregor in the Vorkosigan Saga
- Adventure Hunters: Because he shares the narrative, the reader can see that King Reyvas truly cares about his people and is simply driven to extreme measures to provide for them, thus making him a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
- Safehold has King Haarahld of Charis, and later, his son King (and later Emperor} Cayleb.
- 1066 and All That classifies English monarchs as Good Kings or Bad Kings. The first Good King was either King Alfred or Good King Wenceslas; "it is not known, however, what King Wenceslas was King of."
- Prydain is blessed with a number of Good Kings, both The High King who rules the whole country and the less powerful kings of the caers which comprise it. These include Math son of Mathonwy and his heir, Gwydion; King Smoit of Cadiffor; King Rhuddlum of Mona (and later his son, King Rhun); and eventually Taran, the series protagonist, who is proclaimed High King at the very end.
- The Apprentice Rogue: Artamos feels horrible about giving into his feelings for Leona because his king is such a benevolent and trusting guy.
- Left Behind: Jesus Christ, when He restores the world after it has been devastated in the Tribulation.
- Downton Abbey: Robert counts as this, though he is technically an earl.
- Star Trek: to the Klingons, Kahless is seen as a combination of this and The Messiah. He was the first person to unite the Klingon people into the Klingon Empire and gave them the laws and the honor codes that make them Proud Warrior Race Guys.
- Interestingly, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country presented Gorkon as this. Intentionally modeled both in appearance and manner on Abraham Lincoln, he was presented as intelligent, wise, cultured, and, astoundingly for this franchise, more forward-thinking than the main characters.
- Babylon 5: Emperor Turhan of the Centauri, near the end of his life, wanted to formally apologize to the Narn and their government for what the Centauri did to the Narn people and homeworld during their occupation. The first step towards healing both races and true peace was one that his health ultimately prevented him from taking, before being replaced by the insane Cartagia as Emperor.
- As of season four of Merlin, Arthur is this - though he still makes plenty of mistakes along the way.
- From the same show, King Uther is a Deconstruction; in many ways he was a good king, but not a very nice man.
- In Chinese Paladin, the King of Nanzhao fulfils the criteria of being a genuinely honorable, honest, decent man, Happily Married to The High Queen...except that he ends up sentencing her to death at the Evil Chancellor's instigation to appease the rioting masses, and nearly causes his young daughter's death as well. He is able to reconcile with his daughter, but she and the other heroes are forced to work around, rather than with him, during the end battle.
- In Stargate SG-1, Harry Maybourne, after seasons of being an annoying Smug Snake, eventually settles down on a primitive planet and gains kingship among the people by translating Ancient writings that told the future. Though he was manipulating the people of the planet for his own gain, he was still a good king that helped the people with his modern knowledge in various ways (such as introducing a legal code, irrigation and crop rotation). Even after revealing that he was merely translating prophecies and intending to step down as king because of it, the people were still loyal to him and wanted him as their king.
- Doctor Who has the Draconian Emperor during 2540 in Frontier in Space. He is a Reasonable Authority Figure who doesn't favour war with Earth after one 20 years ago. The 15th Emperor of Draconia seems to have been this as well, when the Doctor saved Draconia from The Plague he was made a nobleman.
- Appears less frequently than you might think in William Shakespeare's works:
- Duncan in Macbeth, as well as the offstage Edward the Confessor.
- Henry V (arguably; he conducts himself admirably during the war, but his reasons for starting it are questionable)
- People who turn up at the end and become king are often suggested to be this sort of king, such as Malcolm in Macbeth and Richmond in Richard III.
- The title character in Pericles, Prince of Tyre, before having a mental breakdown when he learns of his daughter's death (but he gets better, since she's not dead).
- In Hamlet, it's mentioned by several characters that Hamlet's late father was this. In the end, it seemed some subjects thought Hamlet himself would become this, though the truth of this is highly debatable.
- Pippin tries to become this after usurping his father by distributing money to the poor, giving land to the peasants, abolishing taxes and dismantling the army. When an enemy invades his kingdom he's forced to suspend all his reforms and is dubbed "King Pippin the Unpopular" for his trouble.
- Warhammer has the current Emperor of the Empire Karl Franz, Karl is a reasonable ruler of the Empire, and has maintain order and stability to which a few Emperors are able to achieve. He's also a real Badass who'll smash your skull if you threaten his Empire.
- Fable III portrays the Player Character's father (the Hero of Fable II) as this. The PC may also fit this trope if they choose to.
- King Graham of Daventry, naturally. His son, Alexander, also becomes this for the Green Isles in the sixth game.
- Lord British of the Ultima games is intended to be this, though some disagree.
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: Emperor Uriel Septim VII and his son Martin. The latter of whom sacrifices himself to defeat Mehrunes Dagon.
- Skyrim has various Jarls (read: kings of particular counties of the province of Skyrim) that adhere to this. Most noticeable is Jarl Balgruuf of Whiterun, whose first desire is to protect his people, regardless of the cost. The other Jarls run the gamut from corrupt and idiotic to fair and benevolent.
- Par for the course in most Dragon Quest games. The king who sends you on your quest is usually good.
- Final Fantasy:
- Final Fantasy I, the good kind is the one who originally sends you on your quest.
- Final Fantasy IV, the unnamed King of Fabul, and King Giott of the Dwarves. As well as the true king of Baron. At the end of the game, Cecil, Edward, Yang and Edge become kings of their respective countries.
- Final Fantasy V, Galuf is revealed to be the king of Bal.
- Final Fantasy VI, Edgar plays this role with the kingdom of Figaro.
- Final Fantasy IX, Regent Cid is the affable leader of Lindblum (unfortunately, he doesn't seem to be able to keep it in his pants.)
- In Tales of the Abyss, both Emperor Peony of Malkuth and King Ingobert of Kimlasca are this, though they may dip into Jerk With A Heart Of Gold tendencies now and again.
- In the Mario franchise, the King of the Mushroom Kingdom is a swell guy...even though we don't see much of him.
- Bowser also shows shades of this trope, in the RPGs he's protrayed as a Benevolent Boss who commands his troops out of respect and admiration rather than fear.
- Zelda's father in The Legend of Zelda games. Other notable examples are Darunia (King of the Gorons), King Zora, and the King of Red Lions.
- Dragon Age: King Maric, who died before the events of Dragon Age: Origins, is said to have been a Good King. He was also one of the leaders of La Résistance during the Orlesian Occupation. His son, King Cailan, is a lesser example as from all indications, he was indeed a brave and reasonably good ruler, who unfortunately let his own need for glory cause him to relegate much of the actual ruling to his wife and her father. And as it turns out, he ended up being horribly wrong about being a Warrior Prince after all!
- Alistair may become this if the player makes the right decisions during the game.
- Bhelen will become this if you choose him as King of Orzammar. In his rule, he'll abolish the caste system and give the casteless basic civil rights, even allowing them to become soldiers, which gives him the manpower enough to put the war against the Darkspawn in, for the first time ever, Orzammar's favor. But he'll also become a ruthless king, assassinating and executing his political rivals without any mercy.
- In Dragon Age II, Viscount Dumar is one of a few people who actively tries to prevent war with the Qunari in the city, but unfortunately his unwillingness to upset the nobles leads him to be less than successful at this and eventually leads to his death. During Act III, many nobles seem to believe Hawke would be one of these and if Hawke supports the Templars at the end, they actually do end up begging him/her to take the throne.
- Kingdom Hearts portrays Mickey Mouse as this. With some Warrior Prince mixed in for good measure.
- The real Ansem is revealed to have been this in II, ruling Radiant Garden with such wisedom that he was nicknamed "Ansem the Wise". However, he did experiment with hearts and the Heartless, but pulled the plug on it when he was told by King Mickey the dangers it could cause his world. Too bad he'd Xehanort as his apprentice.
- Neverwinter Nights: Lord Nasher Alagondar fits the trope, even though he's technically not a king but the ruling lord of a city-state. He cares deeply for his subjects and is quite willing to personally take the field in their defense.
- King Alteon of Swordhaven in the Artix Entertainment games, but especially AdventureQuest Worlds.
- Played with quite a bit in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. Much of the second half of the game involves Kain being drawn into a war against the Nemesis, a Tin Tyrant with armies clad in red armor and Spikes of Villainy. At one time the Nemesis was King William the Just, a kind ruler who eventually let his power go to his head. Kain travels back in time to assassinate him and prevent the war entirely, but he does so during the era in which William was still well-loved by his people...resulting in a vampire purge that leaves Kain the last of his race.
- Duke Edmun Dragonsbane from Dragon's Dogma, while not a king per se, still plays with the trope. At first he seems like a benevolent duke who was a previous Arisen but as the game progress, he is actually quite insane. In one sidequest, you catch him as he strangles his young wife while screaming Lenore, who was his previous wife only to throw her in the manse for her behavior (mainly flirting with you) and in the end, it seems like he didn't truly slain a dragon more like agreeing to his offer to leave Gransys in exchange of power and glory. (as shown in one ending) And, after you slain the dragon, he grows old and think you have made an agreement with the dragon to replace him in the throne.
- As of the finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender ,
- Fire Lord Zuko, the seeds of which were planted all the way back in the first season before his Heel-Face Turn.
- The Earth King, too, even though he was sheltered his entire life and therefore has no idea how to actually be a king when called upon. In spite of this, he's not a bad guy and clearly wants to do the right thing by his people.
- King Bumi of Omashu is also one. He is wise and considers the life of every one of his citizens. So when faced with a choice of either defending his city from an impressive force from the Fire Nation, where his people would certainly die, and surrendering where all would live, he picks the latter and waits until an opportune moment to take back his city.
- Truth in Television; most constitutional monarchs are excellent statesmen and tend to be benevolent.
- Despite his personality flaws, Tsar Peter the Great of Russia is generally considered to be the finest specimen of Russian leaders, being Modest Royalty and a royal that actually did stuff to boot. In his youth, he traveled incognito as a journeyman, learning the trades that he would bring back to Russia to westernize/modernize the nation. After pioneering numerous reforms, achieving decisive military victories, establishing a meritocracy that flew in the face of the crusty old nobility, and founding what became a major world metropolis, he finally died of sickness caused by personally aiding in flood relief efforts to save the city of Saint Petersburg.
- Bhumibol Adulyadej, current king of Thailand. He is known for personally visiting areas and people in need to understand their problems. Thailand had two civil wars over the past few years over political reasons, but the one thing both sides agreed upon, in both wars, is that their king is a wonderful man.
- Though the position has occasionally been occupied by bad hats, most surviving Constitutional Monarchies turn out rulers that are harmless at worst. This is because the limitations on their authority only allow them to affect the country when the people are on their side and their highly cultured upbringing tends to give them refined and respectable personalities even if they are incompetent. Heads of State in countries where the true power is with a separate Head of Government also tend to be benevolent.
- George VI, king of England during World War II. As shown in The King's Speech, he was humble, modest to the point of being shy, and suffered from a speech impediment. Very much Truth in Television, as George VI is one of England’s most fondly remembered monarchs.
- Juan Carlos, king of Spain, who led his country from the dictatorship of Franco into a first world democracy and a member of The European Union.
- King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth Dragon King of Bhutan, was the first king to lead his country out of isolation from the rest of the world, introduced modernization such as television and the internet, created the Gross National Happiness Index to rule based on what would make his subjects happy rather than just focusing on the economy, and finally abdicated and ordered parliamentary elections, on the basis that it had been found that countries with parliamentary democracies were happier than monarchies.
- Alfred The Great. He saved Wessex from Viking Invasion after the Vikings had nearly conquered it. He then started a system of burghs to protect the country, and started an education system. His actions eventually united Britain.
- Sultan Suleiman The Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire is fondly remembered by the Turks for his tolerance and fair rule, ushering in his reign a period of peace and stability later sultans would try to emulate. In Turkish, his title translates to "Law-Giver."
- Some Roman emperors, including Augustus and the Five Good Emperors (Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius). They might have seemed violent by our standards but that was about the only way they could survive.
Gore Vidal: I suspect that I have just celebrated my last Ferragosto in Italy. It is an amiable holiday in August celebrating the birth of our great emperor Augustus who gave the world the Pax Romana, a long period of peace and prosperity after a chaotic time of wars, civil and otherwise. I cannot imagine any of our recent presidents being remembered for so long much less praised generation after generation. But last night was his night and we watched the fireworks as reflected in the bay of Salerno.
- Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil is considered to be this. He was an abolitionist, a cultured man, and used his power in a benevolent way. Some historians even consider him to be the greatest Brazilian ever.
- Christian IV of Denmark is, despite his horrible war record that later almost destroyed the country, universally respected as a great ruler. He loved art and music and budgeted many musicians to play at his court, was a Friend to All Children, was a very upbeat man even in his elderly days, ruled justly and was a joy to be around.
- While the results varied on the monarch and often had a bit of Values Dissonance, the House of Habsburg (the Austrian branch at least) for all their flaws strove to uphold this trope as per their duty. The last Austro-Hungarian Emperor, Karl/Karoly IV in particular's still highly regarded for his humility, efforts to end the Great War and dedication to serve (and hold intact) the Empire...which went horribly wrong.
- To this day the French call Henri IV of France, founder of the Bourbon dynasty, le bon roi Henri—"Good King Henry." He was kind to his subjects, religiously tolerant in an era of fanaticism and religious war, and a famously good time.
- Emperor Trajan, the second of the "Five Good Emperors of Rome." He extended Rome to the pinnacle of its size and power, but what really makes him this trope is that his reputation has survived, unblemished, through nineteen centuries of scholarship, making him one of the most triumphant aversions of the Values Dissonance that sometimes comes with naming historical figures as this trope.