"I found Aquilonia in the grip of a pig like you — one who traced his genealogy for a thousand years. The land was torn with the wars of the barons, and the people cried out under oppression and taxation. Today no Aquilonian noble dares maltreat the humblest of my subjects, and the taxes of the people are lighter than anywhere else in the world."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. Because kings are typically associated with old men the Good King will rarely be the main character and often serve as The Mentor to the protagonist. If the protagonist is one of his children expect him to have Papa Wolf tendencies. May be Happily Married to The High Queen thus forming a Ruling Couple. When a Prince Charming or Wise Prince grows up, he tends to become the Good King. 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.
— Conan, "The Scarlet Citadel"
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Anime & Manga
- One Piece has several examples:
- King Nefertari 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.
- King Neptune of Fishman Island, who used his own body to shield his subjects from an attack.
- Wapol's father was a king that cared for his subjects and was beloved by all. His son turned out to be The Caligula.
- Riku Dold III of Dressrosa is a really good king, who loves his country and subjects. Though his country was poor, it was thriving and the people loved him back. Then Doflamingo came and fucked everything up, making Riku Dold seem like a murderer who stole money from his citizens while slaughtering them via Frame-Up. Once the truth was revealed, however, the Dressrosan people starting trusting Riku again.
- 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.
- Saber is similar to King Arthur and isolated herself from her people so she could be the most effective and just leader possible.
- Rider is moled similarly to Alexander the Great. Rider's passion and love for his people let him empathize with and inspire them. Rider disapproves of Saber's approach and ideal of being a perfect king while Archer admires the beauty in striving for something impossible (though he mostly just wants her because he finds her physically attractive).
- 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.)
- Pharaoh Atem from Yu-Gi-Oh!. In the anime and manga, he is intelligent, wise and noble, and has a deep love for his people and friends that leads him to sacrifice himself for them, maintaining a seal on the darkness until the protagonist accidentally releases his spirit at the series beginning. He is also a graduate wise prince, as his father's sudden death and mistakes left him with a mess to sort out. His successor being sketchy is averted with Seto, who is said to have brought Egypt into a prosperous age.
- Toma E. Fiore from Fairy Tail is the King of Fiore and considered a good king in spite of his limited screen time. While we haven't seen much of his governing skills, the fact that Fiore overall is a peaceful nation outside of the dark guilds lends credence to his ability, and he clearly shows concern for the people as his first order of business during the Grand Magic Games after learning about the upcoming dragon attack is to evacuate the citizens and plead the wizard guilds to help battle the oncoming enemy. He's also a very personable fellow.
- Aquaman: 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.
- Black Adam may be incredibly violent, brutal, and uncompromising, but there is no debating the fact that he truly cares about Kahndaq and its people and wants what's best for them.
- Sub-Mariner: 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.
- The Hulk:
- 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.
- Hulk 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.
- 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.
- Elyon Escanor in W.I.T.C.H. is a magnificent queen for Metamoor, even putting herself at risk just to learn how to rule her subjects better. She's the last descendant of a long line of wise queens... With her evil brother Phobos being the sketchy successor for her mother.
- A Crown of Stars: Daniel, God Emperor of Avalon is determined to be a benevolent, just ruler and he is downright committed to improve the lives of his subjects and help whoever he meets. The story begins when he meets the main characters -Shinji and Asuka- and offers his help just because he feels it is the right thing to do.
- My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic fic The Stars Ascendant is about Celestia struggling with whether she has truly remained a good king in forcing Twilight to hide what was going on from her friends and trying to dissuade her student from facing a threat she was capable of defeating head-on because Celestia didn't believe in her enough.
- In The Bridge, Godzilla jr. may be a bit quick to the trigger if he thinks he's being attacked, but has grown up to fill this role nicely for most of the Terran kaiju. While he doesn't act like he's above anyone, his subordinates do think of him as their leader and the humans even christened him King of the Monsters. Cue him getting thrown into Equestria, a matriarchy where the last few kings were less than stellar, and it raises a few eyebrows.
- In Tales From the Dark Side of the Mirror, King Tirek the Selfless, who in contrast to his self centered main self is an incredibly benevolent ruler. Not only was he willing to help Equestria out whenever they needed him (though he'd had to deal with his evil brother), after the Evil Princesses were stopped and he's aided in defeating Lord Scorpan, he sends Centaurs to give Equestria a mana transfusion from his own kingdom to revitalize the country's soil and Cloud Gremlins to rebuild the pegasi cities.
- The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: Prince Blueblood wound up as a good ruler after taking the throne following the deaths of the three Alicorn princesses (though he always claimed to be merely acting as regent for the Princesses, and thus below them, until they returned), and is known as Blueblood the Great; for all his faults during the original Bearers' lifetime, he wound up a wise and heroic ruler after their deaths.
Film — Animated
- Disney kings include:
- The Lion King:
- Mufasa, Simba's father and King of all animals. It says a lot that all of the animals show up for new-born Simba's presentation, even the ones that very well might end up being eaten by him or Simba. The kingdom flourishes when he is in charge, and when his ambitious evil brother overthrows him, tha land and animals suffer badly.
- The sequels show that Simba is following in his father's footsteps. During his reign, vegetation is lush and his pride and other animals thrive.
- The emperor from Disney's Mulan was more concerned with protecting his people from the invading Huns than with his own safety.
- King Richard the Lionheart (a literal lion) from Robin Hood. Everything gets better once he arrives and he takes the kingdom into his paws; Jon is imprisoned and Robin Hood gets a Happily Ever After ending with Marion.
- Kings Stefan (Princess Aurora's father) from Sleeping Beauty is an affable fellow looking for the well being of his kingdom.
- The Sultan in Aladdin becomes a good ruler in the end; he was always nice, but in the movie was insignificant because he had been controlled by an Evil Vizier. 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.
- King Fergus (Merida's father) from the film Brave has mantained peace among three tribes that look for an excuse to start a war.
- The Lion King:
Film — Live Action
- The king from Jack the Giant Slayer is a decent guy. Aside from one serious blind spot - having an Evil Chancellor early on, he's a good leader who handles himself well, deals with his subjects fairly, and isn't above hard labor right alongside the common soldiers when necessary. He also shows remarkable restraint when dealing with Jack, refraining from trying to intimidate him once it's clear there's some chemistry between him and the Princess. He insists on fighting alongside the guards when the Giants attack, and gives Elmont a "Hell no!" when asked to leave.
- In WarCraft, king Llane is ultimately a just and kind ruler, deciding to negotiate with orcs before going to an all-out war with them, promising Garona that he won't threaten her and giving her freedom, and ultimately performing a Heroic Sacrifice so that humans and orcs may have a chance at peace.
- In the Name of the King gives us King Konreid, who appears to be a fair and just ruler, who knows much about his subjects, even things that people don't expect a king to know (e.g. how some farmers are using seaweed to fertilize their fields and harvest two crops a year). He's at the end of his life, though, which was full of many tragedies and conflicts, including the loss of his wife and son many years before. His sole heir is his nephew Duke Fallow, an incompetent jerk, who just wants the perks that come with royalty without the responsibility. When the Krug invade his kingdom, Konreid personally leads his forces into battle. When a group of farmers complain about their unprotected village being raided, Konreid stops his general from punishing them, pointing out that they have a right to express their displeasure.
King Konreid: Wisdom is our hammer. Prudence will be our nail. When men build lives from honest toil-. Courage never fails.
- The King's Speech contrasts Albert Windsor with his partying, Nazi-sympathizing brother Edward VIII. He tries to get Edward to take his royal responsibilities seriously, knowing that if Edward fails it's going to be him who gets the crown. Edward does abdicate to marry his twice-divorced lover, and Bertie becomes George VI just in time to lead his people through World War II.
- 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." Which sounds like "That was good kinging." Seamus Heaney's more literal translation has it as "That was one good king," which loses something.
- In The Chronicles of Narnia, brothers 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. However, this is mostly an Informed Ability, as we barely see any of their reign.
- King Tirian, who is A Father to His Men, leads from the front, is compassionate towards Jill in the midst of battle, and never gives up on Narnia, also counts. Aslan Himself praises Tirian on his good leadership.
- King Lune lectures Cor on how all the privileges of a King are paid for by being first in battle and last in retreat, and carrying the burdens of an entire country on one's shoulders make being a ruler somewhat a case of being Blessed with Suck. He also shows himself to be both compassionate (showing mercy and cordiality to Rabadash) and a strong leader, fighting at the front when Calormene invades Archenland.
- The Divine Comedy:
- Solomon is said by Thomas Aquinas to be the wisest king in all creation, by virtue of asking God for wisdom in acting out his kingly duties rather than more frivolous academic knowledge.
- Those who truly ruled justly are rewarded on Jupiter, the sixth sphere of Heaven, where the rulers are so in tune to the other's needs that they move their souls to spell out praises of justice and form a giant eagle that speaks for all of them in one voice. Dante only individually talks to the kings who form one of the Eagle's eye, including King David, Emperor Constantine, and two pagans who were loyal to God despite that being lost to history and to Dante.
- In King Crow, King Cormac is peaceful and kind. The neighboring king, Bregant, is anything but.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, this trope and its general implication, i.e., a good king is also a good man, is frequently examined and re-examined. It becomes clear that being able to rule doesn't necessarily co-relate with being nice, decent and kind.
- In general various characters fulfill certain archetypes of good Kingly behaviour. The Conqueror and Young Conqueror (Aegon I, Daeron I, Robert Baratheon, Robb Stark, Daenerys), The Charmer or Charm Person (Renly, Robert, Viserys I) and the Rebel Leader (Robert Baratheon, Robb Stark, Stannis, Daenerys I). In most cases it becomes clear that the conventional image people have of these characters are just that, images. Renly gives this image but comes across in private as a sleazy treacherous character and is happy to starve hundreds of thousands of people and kill his older brother so he can usurp the throne, this demonstrates his flaws. His elder brother Robert Baratheon, whilst being generous and kingly in image is actually someone who uses the office for the pursuit of wine, women and song and is far suited to battle than peacetime. Likewise, Stannis Baratheon is painted as an Evil Overlord and potential tyrant, but his "tyranny" amounts to clearing out corruption, building a more centralized Kingdom, and meritocracy. He also fulfills the Equal-Opportunity Evil trope in fantasy by welcoming Wildlings and other outsiders into his Kingdom as equal subjects. Also many of the people who criticize Stannis and oppose him (Littlefinger, the Tyrells, Renly, the Lannisters, Varys) are shown to be very corrupt and self-serving. Robb Stark and Dany, both being Young Conqueror have a hard time bluffing away their genuine inexperience and spend a lot of time trying to hide the fact that they are both in over their heads. No matter which persuasion they are, all of them have blood on their hands, have executed people and fought wars that have hurt innocents.
- In the backstory, among the Posthumous Character who have sat on the Iron Throne, those remembered as good are: Aegon I, Jaehaerys I, Baelor the Blessed. Aegon I and Jaehaerys I are both remembered as the greatest Targaryen kings, one established the dynasty and its basic institutions, the other consolidated it and presided over a Golden Age by a series of diplomatic masterstrokes: he put the Faith on a leash, got rid of the right of First Night, and brokered a truce between Feuding Families, built roads and developed a proper sewage system. Baelor the Blessed is considered a good king because of his religious piety which made him popular among the people, while the more educated nobility remember and regret his political mistakes and his propensity for Book Burning; he was not a bad king, but he did make some bad decisions (to the point that Tyrion calls him Baelor the Befuddled) and is mostly remembered fondly because he was highly religious. Aegon V, Aegon the Unlikely, was remembered quite fondly as well, mostly thanks to the influence of his boyhood protector Ser Duncan and his attempts to provide rights to the smallfolk, but this, coupled by the actions of his children, made him unpopular with the nobility and on his death, his reforms were undone by the Hand of the King Tywin Lannister who became popular among the same nobility, but disliked by the smallfolk.
- The ultimate definiton of a good king comes from the Working-Class Hero Davos Seaworth (who was raised to nobility by Stannis): "There is much I do not understand, I have never pretended elsewise. I know the seas and rivers, the shapes of the coast, where the rocks and shoals lie. I know hidden coves where a boat can land unseen and I know a king protects his people or he is no king at all." Stannis comes round to this way of thinking eventually.
- Historically there have been other examples. Garth VII "Goldenhand" Gardener is known as this in the Reach. He defeated many of the Reach's enemies, ruled for 81 years and brought three-quarters of a century of peace to the Reach, under which it truly flourished.
- 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.
- King Bard of Dale is also described as being a good King, rebuilding Dale and being in good relations with the Dwarves of Erebor as they re-established their Kingdom.
- In "The Silmarillion" there is Finwe, who leads the Noldor Elves to Valinor. Most of the Kings of the Noldor serves as this, though Finwe's oldest son Feanor is certainly not.
- Elros Half-Elven, the First King of Numenor, seems portrayed as a very good King. After ruling for 410 years he willingly gave up his life. This counts for most of the Kings of Numenor.
- The Elven Lord Celeborn of Lothlórien (despite not actually being King, at his own decision) definitely also fits the trope. He and his wife, Lady Galadriel, as a Ruling Couple have made Lothlórien a peaceful, safe and prosperous place to live for the local wood-elves for millennia. He also leads his people into battle against armies of Orcs numerous times, most notably when he and Galadriel capure Dol Guldur and destroy the source of it's corruption after the War of the Ring.
- 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 (until his downfall by 700 wives and 300 concubines and worshipping false gods), Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah (does reforms, and defending Jerusalem from Assyrians would count) and Josiah of Judah (does Religious reforms, and cleansing his whole kingdom and instituted Passover), Jehu of Israel (when purging the House of Ahab may be counted) and Cyrus of Persia (where he is noted for returning the Jews to their homeland). 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 usurping 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. As a grown man, he works toward reforming his country's laws to prevent abuse of power by his nobles. 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. Lady Knight Keladry of Mindelan in particular is very critical of him. In response, he tells her about The Chains Of Command.
- 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."
- In The Chronicles of Prydain, the land 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.
- In The Lost Prince, the kings of the old royal house are remembered in legend as being Good Kings for the most part. When the Rightful King Returns at the end of the novel, there's every sign that he's going to be a Good King himself.
- In The Sword-Edged Blonde, King Phillip of Arentia (Phil, to the protagonist) is the popular ruler of a prosperous, peaceful kingdom (which contrasts with much of the rest of the world). This is relevant in determining the villain's motive.
Eddie: Somewhere out there, you've got one hell of an enemy.
King Phil: Who? Arentia hasn't been at war for nearly fifty years. The crime rate's lower than it has ever been. We don't even have a death penalty anymore. And I don't mean to sound egomaniacal, but everybody seems pretty happy with the job I've been doing.
- In The Princess and the Goblin, and its sequel, The Princess and Curdie, the King (Irene's father) is described as the wisest man in the kingdom, and we are told that "he was a real king - that is, one who ruled for the good of his people and not to please himself."
- In Guns of the Dawn, King Luthrian IV of Lascanne is widely adored by his subjects, and his call to arms against invading republican revolutionaries from Denland is well supported. It doesn't hurt that he also has a good amount of Prince Charming about him, being young, handsome, unmarried, and a good dancer — as the protagonist personally discovers. In the end, it turns out that the war which he portrays as a heroic defence was actually the result of his own failed attempt to annex Denland by assassinating its king. He shows no remorse for the countless deaths his scheme caused, even after Denland has won and he's a fugitive. In fact, he has the gall to expect the protagonist to help raise rebellion in his name — instead, she shoots him.
- In The Goblin Emperor Maia aspires to be this, though he is technically an emperor. His habit to care even about those of his subjects who should be beneath his notice causes some confusion. And then there is the pseudo-communist terrorist who approves of his politics. Maia finds the terrorist's methods distasteful, but has to admit that he will improve working conditions in the factories, because that's just who he is.
- In The Great Schools of Dune trilogy, Roderick Corrino is much more competent and honorable than his older brother Salvador. In fact, many people would much rather Roderick having been born first. Alas, it was the incompetent Salvador who became Emperor after the death of their father Jules Corrino. After Salvador's death, however, Roderick, who has never wanted the job, is crowned Emperor. He immediately sets out to restructure the military and the Imperial court, getting rid of career officers in favor of those, who are actually competent, and insists that the nobles get their hands dirty in the service of the people, much to their grumbling. Unlike his brother, Roderick also makes sure that his wife Haditha is heavily involved in the day-to-day running of the Imperium. He also ends up ending the threat to the Imperium posed by the two extremes: the Butlerian anti-technology fanatics, led by Manford Torondo, and the progressively-minded Directeur Josef Venport of Venport Holdings, a Corrupt Corporate Executive with no moral qualms. At the end, he works out a deal with Norma Cenva to create the politically-independent Spacing Guild to provide safe foldspace travel to all the worlds of the Imperium in exchange for the constant supply of spice to her Navigators. This is such a momentous event in human history that a new calendar is established to mark it.
- In The Saxon Stories, Uhtred assesses King Alfred as such, even though he disliked him on a personal level.
"He saw his life as a duty to his god and to the people of Wessex and I have never seen a better king, and I doubt my sons, grandsons and their children’s children will ever see a better one. I never liked him, but I have never stopped admiring him."
- Firestar, the main character in the first series of Warrior Cats, becomes this after becoming leader of ThunderClan. He comes to be regarded as one of the greatest leaders who ever lived and gives up his ninth life to save the Clans.
- Duncan of Ranger's Apprentice is very much this trope. He is wise, fair, and even willing to look the other way (to a certain extent) when Halt pulls one of his shenanigans. He's also shown to be a good man in general, and a Master Swordsman who leads his armies into battle. However, when it comes to a To Be Lawful or Good decision, he'll always choose Lawful, as he believes that With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.
Live Action TV
- Game of Thrones:
- Cersei notes in "First of His Name" that Tommen has the potential to be the first of these in fifty years, and judging by his ideals of monarchy (holiness, justice, strength, and wisdom) she could well be right. Sadly now we know he won't.
- Ned excels at two things: battle and administration. He is so loved by his bannermen and the smallfolk that his death at the hands of Southern rulers motivates them to never again submit to the Iron Throne and wage a civil war to avenge him.
- Robb Stark aspires to this, and embodies some aspects of the trope.
Talisa: What kind of king do you want to be?Robb: I dunno [beat] the good kind.
- Star Trek: to the Klingons, Kahless is seen as a combination of this and the Messianic Archetype. 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 offers a few examples among the Centauri emperors:
- Turhan (first emperor to be seen during the series), 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.
- After rising to the throne Londo would have wanted to be one, but the Drakh had put a Keeper on him to use him to turn the Centauri Republic in a puppet state and build up the military to fight against the ISA. Londo being Londo, he manages to turn it against the Drakh.
- The novels reveal that Vir eventually becomes one after Londo's death, starting with putting Londo's master plan in action and freeing the Centauri from Drakh control.
- Mentioned in the novels, emperor Kran, who was in charge at the time of the Earth-Centauri first contact. Inheriting a nation divided and on the verge of a civil war from his weak-willed predecessor, he reunited the Centauri Republic through sheer charisma and genius and was planning to initiate reforms to better the conditions of the poorer Centauri, even touring the poorer areas of the homeworld with the nobles in tow to show them the need for the reforms. Sadly, he was killed by a commoner during one of such tours before he could even start.
- The expanded universe give a few more examples:
- Kran's unnamed successor. We don't know much, except that when the Centauri Great Houses brought the Republic on the verge of a war with Earth with their politicking and privateer raids on Earth merchant ship he clamped down on the Houses and eliminated the causes for the whole crisis and the raids before apologizing to Earth Alliance. That was after EarthForce had attacked and destroyed a Centauri naval base for giving sanctuary to privateers one time too many.
- Rafani, ruling at the end of the 20th century and the first years of the 21st, most notable for trying to end the cold war with the Orieni Imperium-and, when the Orieni were caught red-handed in supporting Drazi raiders operating on the fringe, reuniting (most of) the divided Centauri Houses to fight the enemy. It says a lot that the Centauri-Orieni War doesn't get really ugly and the rebellious House Syma doesn't try a coup until after he dies in a shuttle accident-and that the Drakh may have organized the shuttle accident just to get rid of him.
- As of season four of Merlin, Arthur is this - though he still makes plenty of mistakes along the way.
- 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.
- The Crown (2016) starts during the final years of George VI's life and reign. Having helped bring England through World War II, he's universally beloved. He also takes his responsibilities and the limits on his power very seriously, advising his daughter Elizabeth on how to deal with prime ministers and paperwork. When he dies of cancer, the whole country goes into mourning.
Religion and Mythology
- In The Bible King David and his son, Solomon, were two benevolent kings of Israel. While they certainly had flaws they were both ultimately good people.
- While not the original, King Arthur is the Trope Codifier and adaptations featuring him usually portray him as this, although there is no evidence before the 11th century explicitly naming him as a king as opposed to a military leader.
- Richard the Lionheart is usually considered the Big Good in various Robin Hood adaptations, particularly in contrast to his brother John. This is most definitely myth.
- 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..." Although technically, he was a Prince (as in ruler of the land), not a King. He was also a real historical figure.
- In Classical Mythology, in the instances where heroes survive, they are generally seen as benevolent kings. Theseus is the best example, but also Cecrops, Minos, and Aeson.
- 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). The plot of the previous two plays (Henry IV I and II) was largely about the question of whether Hal would fulfill this trope.
- 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.
- Don Pedro, the Prince of Aragon and therefore highest royalty in Much Ado About Nothing, does a lot to sort out the various romantic misunderstandings pushed by his brother Don John.
- 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.
- King Edward, Graham's predecessor, was known as "King Edward The Benevolent".
- Lord British of the Ultima games is intended to be this, though some disagree.
- The Elder Scrolls has several examples.
- In general throughout the series, Emperor Uriel Semptim VII serves as one up until his death in Oblivion. He's a fair and balanced ruler who keeps the Cyrodiilic Empire whole through multiple crises and intervenes directly to kick off the plots of Daggerfall and Morrowind.
- Imperial propaganda claims that this is the case for Tiber Septim, founder of the Third Cyrodiilic Empire. For the most part, he played it straight, uniting all of Tamriel within one empire for the first time in history and generally being a benevolent emperor. However, he did make some morally questionable moves during his reign, such as demanding that his bastard child with Barenziah, the young queen of Morrowind, be magically aborted because it would be inconvenient to his legitimate heirs and claiming that he was betrayed by his Imperial Battlemage, Zurin Arctus, when Arctus did exactly what Septim wanted him to do and, if anything, Septim betrayed Arctus. Following his death, Septim ascended to godhood as the deity Talos. Part of Talos realm includes being the "God of Good Governance", essentially making him the god of the trope.
- Ysgramor, the ancient Atmoran hero and Founder of the Kingdom of Skyrim, is considered the standard of what a king should be by the Nords. He was a wise Genius Bruiser and Papa Wolf who led a Badass Army in conquering Skyrim from the hated Falmer (Snow Elves). Obviously, the elves have a very different opinion...
- Duke Vedam Dren. As Duke, he exercises the empire's authority over the Vvardenfell district (where the game takes place) and is genuinely interested in protecting and helping the people there. He makes you swear an oath to do so before he'll give you permission to build a stronghold and, if you are in House Hlaalu, will give you quests in this vein.
- On the other hand is the actual King of Morrowind, Helseth, who averts this by being a Magnificent Bastard who lies, cheats, and murders his way to power. Despite this, he is still the Gray to Almalexia's Black in the Tribunal expansion.
- In Oblivion, Uriel Septim VII's son Martin. He was a well Hidden Backup Prince turned a very Unexpected Successor. However, he comes to embrace the role and later sacrifices himself to defeat Mehrunes Dagon and stop Dagon's Legions of Hell from bringing about The End of the World as We Know It.
- Various Jarls (read: kings of particular counties of the province of Skyrim) provide examples. 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.
- An even stronger candidate is Brunwulf Free-Winter. He takes over as Jarl of Windhelm if the player helps the Empire win the Civil War. Within hours of being made Jarl, he pardons and retains most of Ulfric's court staff, offers lodgings for the desposed pro-Stromcloak Jarls, and meets with the Dunmer of the city to discuss renovations with the slum Ulfric forced them to live in. What a Nice Guy.
- 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. There's also King Tycoon, who is the only monarch that takes the threat to the crystals seriously—Walse admits the problem but continues to exploit them because of public opinion, and Queen Karnak is suffering Demonic Possession already.
- Final Fantasy VI, Edgar plays this role with the kingdom of Figaro. He insists on paying for goods when castle shopkeepers protest, and he's secretly providing aid and intelligence to La Résistance against The Empire.
- 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 Super Mario Bros. franchise, the King of the Mushroom Kingdom is a swell guy...even though we don't see much of him.
- 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 Aeducan 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 mercilessly his political rivals.
- 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:
- The series 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 wisdom that he was nicknamed "Ansem the Wise". While he did do some dubious experiments involving Hearts and the Heartless, he immediately pulled the plug on it when he realized the dangers inherent in such research. Too bad he had 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's revealed that rather than slaying the dragon, he agreed to his offer to leave Gransys in exchange of power and glory (as shown in one ending). After you slain the dragon, he loses his immortality and youth, believing that you must have made the deal with the dragon and makes you into a fugitive, forever banning you from the Noble's Quarter.
- Hamilicar Barca from Tears to Tiara 2 at first very much planned on refusing the crown with his own life. But once he's king he fits the trope to a T, liberating Hispania from The Empire, forming alliances, encouraging trade, technology and learning.
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has an unconventionally played example. As Skelligans are basically Scottish Vikings, their idea of what constitutes a good king can be summed up as "awesome warrior who's favoured by the gods and will lead us to victory and glory in battle". Hjalmar An Craite fits up to this description exceedingly well, just like Bran before him. Even though he ends up neglecting Skellige itself due to leading men on big raids against Nilfgaard, the Skelligans don't mind because he's leading them to bigger and bigger battles and filling the longships with plunder. Hell, he even manages to unite the clans of Skellige and lead them to kick Nilfgaard's black-plated arses back down to the south in some possible endings. Cerys also qualifies as she's considerably calmer, more diplomatic and a much better administrator than her brother, and even though her reign is less popular with the Skelligans because she's not as much of a badass warrior, she does a better job of running the isles and allowing them to prosper.
- Arthas from World of Warcraft is a rare villainous example. He's a Good King to the Scourge. Even though they are undead he can rather easily replace, he values his troops and doesn't like to waste them. He even forms genuine friendships with his more powerful subjects, such as Kel'Thuzad and Anub'Arak. It's bitterly ironic that he's applying the very advice his father (whom he murdered) gave him about how to be a good king in his leadership of the Scourge.
- According to the lore, King Llane Wrynn of Stormwind was one. His one flaw was that he was too trusting, resulting in Garona murdering him during a crucial time, resulting in Stormwind's fall during the First War. His son Varian eventually assumes the throne and appears to be this as well, although he is, at first, distrustful of the worgen of Gilneas. After Varian's death, his son Anduin returns to the throne (he was previously the King of Stormwind during Varian's disappearance). Hopefully, he will be like his father and grandfather. In Lordaeron, it's implied that King Terenas Menethil II was one as well. Unfortunately, his son Arthas ends up being corrupted by the Scourge and murdering him.
- Dark Souls III: For a guy who ruled over a city called "The Profaned Capital", Yhorm the Giant is suggested to have been a benevolent and much-loved ruler in his day. While his family had, in times past, brutally conquered various nations, when he came to the throne, his country was facing dire threats from outside, and the people petitioned him to protect them. Yhorm did so, personally fighting on the front lines to defend his people, keeping the kingdom safe by his own hand. When things calmed down, he assured his people of his devotion by giving them a weapon to which he has a fatal weakness, so that if he ever failed in his duty, they would have the means to wrest him from his throne.
- King Arthur of Guenevere, much like his mythical inspiration.
- Undertale: The King of Monsters, Asgore, is a much beloved figure by his subjects. The player hears conflicting accounts about him: some monsters say he is dangerous and the player will inevitably have to kill him to escape, others call him a "big fuzzy pushover". He is in fact an extremely kind and caring person who is friendly with all his subjects and enjoys gardening and making tea in his spare time. However, he did declare war on humanity (after humans murdered his son) in a fit of rage, and he is also the most powerful monster in the Underground... and as much as he hates himself for it, he does believe he has to take the player's soul.
- If Cale'Anon of Looking for Group isn't this already, he soon will be.
- Despite being an otherwise Crapsack World, Oglaf has one of these in the form of "King Blowjob". He gained the throne by saving his people from an invading army, solved his new nation's financial problems, apparently restructured their society into a "peaceful fellatio-cracy", and stopped a cursed man on a violent rampage, first by offering himself and then by hiring specialists out-of-pocket to break the curse.
- In The Gamer's Alliance, Khasra Mallorein III of Scundia is a pretty decent and wise fellow even though he tends to also be a Deadpan Snarker and occasionally seduces and has sex with other people's wives. Gerard Aurelac of Maar Sul also becomes a good king when he's finally given the crown and the throne. Marcus Sarillius of Remon is also this whenever he isn't being manipulated by ambitious and/or villainous people.
- The Benevolent Overlord List.
- Flashbacks in the Minecraft-inspired music video The Fallen Kingdom establish that the protagonist was The Good King. He would have died fighting to protect his kingdom, but fate left him alive.
- In Achievement Hunter's "King" Let's Plays, Michael is often given the title of "The Good King", owing to the effort he put in and his concern for his subjects. This is opposed to First King Geoff, High King Ray, Mad King Ryan, and Fool King Gavin.
- Tgchan's Super Clothing Damage Adventure! No, seriously. Tgchan is a website that combines Dungeons & Dragons with Twitch Plays Pokémon, and SCDA is one of its shows. The Good King in this series is something between "Physical God" and "Demented Crazy Person", but is generally a likable guy who rules over the world with For the Lulz and For the Evulz. The fact that he gives superpowers to children, which don't kill anyone (but damage clothes, hence the title) says a lot. The fact that he's so crazy that he broke the fourth wall to the tgchan audiences years ago says even more. His first act with the current audience is to request their help in making an aspiring high-school student's dreams come true! Dawww...
- 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. Averted by his daughter in The Legend of Korra, who is a despotic tyrant who has starved her own people through greed and incompetence.
- 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. Single-handedly.
- ChalkZone had an episode called "The Big Blow-Up", which introduced ChalkZone's long lost ruler King Mumbo Jumbo, who selflessly kept himself sealed away with the Inflatermaus swarm for 300 years. From what little screentime we are given when he awakens from his hibernation, he proves to be a very nice person and helps series protagonist Rudy re-imprison the Inflatermaus swarm.
- Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears and Hanna-Barbera's The Smurfs run around more or less the same concept: a secret community of magical creatures whose existence is only known for a few human allies and some villains. Both shows happen in a fictional medieval kingdom and both shows have the resident King to be quite representative of this trope; gentle, benevolent and nice with the humble servants like the local page.
- Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia, is the inspiration of the traditional Christmas carol 'Good King Wenceslaus' listed above under folklore. Immediately following his murder by his brother he was adopted as a local saint, and though he was only a duke, Holy Roman Emperor Otto I posthumously conferred the regal dignity and title of king upon him in honor of his legacy.
- Tsar Peter the Great of Russia is a good king who also did a lot of bad stuff. Despite his personality flaws, he 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, king of Thailand 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. After an exceptionally popular, seven decade reign; his death at the age off 88 years in late 2016 was universally mourned by the people of Thailand.
- George VI, king of England during World War II. He was humble, modest to the point of being shy, and suffered from a speech impediment. 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. He got a reputation when he singlehandedly stopped an attempted coup by Franco's former military men in 1981. Has become a Memetic Badass when he told Hugo Chavez to shut up when Hugo was making light of the deaths during Francos regime. Him saying "Why don't you just shut up" became a very popular ringtone in the Spanish speaking world. His elephant-hunting activities and a series of scandals really damage his popularity among Spaniards though, as most polls showed. Many analysts consider this drastic reduction in popularity the real reason behind his unexpected abdication.
- 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".
- Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil. He was an abolitionist, a cultured man, and a sponsor of the arts and sciences, using his power in a benevolent way. He was also a massive advocate for the freedom of his people, with freedom of speech, civil rights, economic development, and democratic representation flourishing under his rule, and was willing to accept that the monarchy's days were numbered and that Brazil's future would best be served by a transition into a republic.note He is still a national hero and highly respected in Brazil to this day.
- 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. If anything, his reign is something of a tragic deconstruction similar to Brazil's Emperor Dom Pedro above: his work to alleviate the sufferings of his people, holding the various realms together and generally being the Only Sane Man among the Central Powers would have helped the Habsburg monarchy endure into the 20th century and beyond if not for the strains of World War I ultimately tearing the Empire at the seams.
- 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, devoted to ensuring national prosperity (the phrase "a chicken in every pot" as shorthand for "everyone doing well economically" is derived from his statement that, God willing, he would ensure that every peasant in France would have "a chicken in his pot every Sunday") 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.
- Rama IV of Thailand (better known to English-speakers as King Mongkut) is revered as one of its greatest monarchs. He revolutionized their science, technology, and to a lesser extent their society. To say nothing of his Batman Gambit against imperialism, in which he westernized the country to the point where the West couldn't invoke White Man's Burden and invade.note
- Umberto II, last king of Italy, managed to prove himself this both as Lieutenant General for the Realm (basically, his father Vittorio Emanuele III made him regent after Italy switched sides in World War II because he himself was tainted by having supported the Fascist regime while Umberto was a known opposer of both Fascism and Nazism), when he managed to avoid the secession of Sicily without spilling a single drop of blood, and in his brief reign (35 days) where, in the face of the many irregularities in the referendum that had seen the Italians choosing the republican regime, he single-handedly defused any chance of a civil war while still calling out the government for proclaiming the Republic before the official results were announced.
- King Sejong the Great who was the fourth king of Joseon Dynasty is one of the most respected monarchs in the history of Korea. Not only did he created the Korean alphabet 'Hangul' from scratch for the peasants who couldn't learn complex chinese characters which is still used to this very date, he contributed to almost all of the fields possible; he helped create the traditional Korean music notes with his own music skills, he set off a series of military conquests to ensure the neighboring countries to respect it's border, he contributed to the development of science, especially by letting a genius commoner work in his court and develop the likes of automatic water clocks, sundials, world's first rain gauge and such, which was never heard of before. He also published books about agriculture that would help the peasants, legislate laws based on careful research that were so groundbreaking at that time the later kings didn't find the need to legislate a new one for centuries, and set a precedent for future kings by trying to debate and cooperate with his subjects, not rule over them. This overworking (with diabetes) probably caused his death at age 52. The Koreans are so grateful of him even centuries after that they used his portrait for their money, named the main road that crosses downtown Seoul after him and built a statue of him in the middle of said road and even named the administrative city after him.
- Subverted with King John II of France, called Jean le Bon or "John the Good". Unfortunately in his day "bon" could mean "brave", and John exemplified Honour Before Reason. When his army lost the battle of Poitiers (a.k.a. Maupertuis) he refused to retreat, ending up in English hands and having to be ransomed for three million gold écus and several French provinces (the biggest king's ransom in French history). He also gave his younger son Philip the Bold the duchy of Burgundy, without which there might not have been the internecine strife between the Armagnacs and Bourgignons and the English-Burgundian alliance that disastrously affected the reign of John's grandson, King Charles VI. No wonder there never was another King John of France...
- King Casimir III the Great of Poland. He rebuilt Poland financially, doubled the size of the kingdom, founded the first Polish university, gave Jews rights and protections as 'people of the king', encouraged Jewish migration and reformed the law. He was sometimes called 'the Peasant King' because he was known for taking the side of commoners where the law didn't protect them from the nobility and clergy.
- Claudius was known as a fairly kind and benevolent emperor particularly when compared to his predecessor. Not bad for a man who was hastily crowned by the fleeing Praetorian guards.