Tyrant Takes the Helm
"Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security.Did your new leader start off their reign by making a speech that included phrases such as "there will be many changes around here" or "things will be very different under my command"? If so, then you're in a situation where a Tyrant Takes The Helm. This is a plot trope relating to a Story Arc where a character snags a major leadership position of the series, becomes Drunk with Power, and decides that from here on out, things will be run their way whether you like it or not. The person regularly filling this position, often a Reasonable Authority Figure, will likely be absent during this time (and this new replacement may have had something to do with that.) As would be expected of a tyrannical ruler, expect them to immediately start making "changes" and becoming an instant despot. Common changes made include the elimination of Ultimate Job Security and the decree that All Crimes Are Equal. In most cases, the main heroes will have to confront this new ruler and attempt to change things back to normal. A common subversion of this trope is the Bait-and-Switch Tyrant, who is signalled to be this in their introduction but turns out to not be that bad after all, with the story demonstrating that the characters have come to accept the new rules. If the character who temporarily takes control isn't malicious or obnoxious, but is simply grossly incompetent, see Vetinari Job Security. Does not require the dictator forcibly gaining possession of a new piece of headgear. Remember, this isn't a trope for describing characters who become tyrants, but for describing a plot point of when (and possibly how) a character takes over for someone else and institutes new rules that are generally disliked by the majority of those affected. Be aware of spoilers!
By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill their promise. They never will!
Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people!"
By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill their promise. They never will!
Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people!"
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Anime and Manga
- Angel Beats! toys with the trope - Angel is originally viewed as a villainous Emotionless Girl created by "God" to sabotage the SSS in her capacity as "Student Council President", but is actually not so different from them. Later, when Angel herself falls victim to the SSS' schemes, she gets fired and is replaced by her deputy who becomes a God complex authoritarian, fitting the trope. Later when she is "promoted" back to her regular position, she attempts to play the Tyrant to the SSS once more to buy time for her and Otonashi's Batman Gambit of making other students disappear.
- Erika Furudo in Umineko no Naku Koro ni, to a completely murderously sadistic extent.
- Makoto Isshiki in RahXephon, who later becomes an Unwitting Pawn.
- One episode of Ranma ½ had Tatewaki Kuno taking over his father's role as school principal. Needless to say, many preferred his father.
- Love Hina (either the OAV or vol 11 of the Manga): Kanako Urashima, Keitaro's creepy, somewhat overaffectionate adoptive sister manages to provoke the tenants at Hinata to the point of open warfare when she takes over in her "Oniisan's" absence.
- In a way its more or less Karma catching up to the girls for mistreating Keitaro (despite the fact that they all eventually got along.)
- .hack//Legend of the Twilight had the Cerulean Knights taking over after Balmug is fired from System Administration. They ruthlessly hunt down gamers even remotely accused of hacking or of minor offenses (changing the color of the avatar's clothes etc)
- One episode of Keroro Gunsou has Tamama being promoted to squad leader, and quickly going mad with power. He ends up bitter and alone after he ends up throwing all his squad-mates, along with Fuyuki, Natsumi, and Angol Mois, in the brig.
- Averted on Naruto. When Danzo is appointed acting Hokage after Pain's Invasion Arc, he consciously avoids making decisions that would make him unpopular with the populace.
- Gouda, the Big Bad of the second season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is a pretty good example of this, coming in and working to undermine Section 9 and turn them into his lackeys.
- After the Time Skip of One Piece, Akainu becomes the Fleet Admiral. He's already introduced Conscription to bolster his forces and he has entertained the idea of using Weapons Of Mass Destruction, regardless of the legality or the ethics involved.
- King Smurf gets himself elected to replace the temporarily absent Papa Smurf, then proceeds to declare himself king, hire a Praetorian Guard, and rule by decree. His overt despotism results in civil war.
- A different form of despotism takes place in "The Finance Smurf", where the title character controls all aspects of Smurf life through the use of money.
- In Spider-Man, Norman Osborn, in the Dark Reign arc, becomes this for the entire Marvel Universe.
- Another Marvel example is Henry Gyrich, who becomes this for S.W.O.R.D.
- Ambassador Rolf Heimlich becomes this to the JLI for the first part of the "Breakdowns" arc due to Maxwell Lord being in a coma. Ultimately, it turns out he's a mole planted by Queen Bee.
- Heidi Jackson when she takes over Hard 8 Enterprises in Knights of the Dinner Table.
- In the same vein, whenever Weird Pete finds himself GMing. Despite being one of the most laid back players in the series, whenever he picks up the dice behind the screen, he falls back on his old-school taskmaster persona. His tools are the Bolt of Divine Retribution and the Murderous Falling Rocks. Along with the demerit system, which he assigns for pretty much everything that can be conceived as insinuating that the GM is wrong. Gain 50 demerits, lose a level. At least he's kind enough to offer the option of letting players work off their debt at his game shop: An hour of 'volunteer' work knocks off one demerit.
- Averted by captain Ben Daimio from B.P.R.D.: when he arrives to take up the position of field team commander, he specifically states: "Don't want anybody to worry about my changing things around here. You guys have a system, it works. Stick to that". And indeed he doesn't try to make any radical changes. Except for making Roger put some friggin' pants on. And later he changes his mind about that, too.
- Scorponok usurps leadership of the Decepticons from Megatron in Transformers Monstrosity and promptly focuses his followers on strategically pointless acts of destructive violence that endanger his own faction and the Cybertronian race as a whole. Even the other Decepticons are disgusted with his brand of leadership and gladly welcome back Megatron when he returns.
- Happens the first time Grimlock takes command of the Autobots, where the Dinobot takes about two minutes to go completely mad with power, having anyone who defies him put in the Variable Voltage Harness, snooping through personnel files, assigning top-ranking Autobots pointless tasks, and utterly ignoring the war with the Decepticons. About the only positive thing he did was that he managed to ensure the Autobots weren't dependant on humans for fuel.
- In Winter War, Aizen conquers Seireitei. He doesn't seem to have any actual use for the city, but he does have a Dragon undergoing a serious Villainous Breakdown, who might mess up Aizen's current projects if kept around. So he turns the city over to Gin to get him out of the way. Gin proceeds to rule using torture and gruesome public execution to keep himself in charge, and using the members of the Gotei 13 who didn't join La Résistance to enforce his reign of terror rather than allowing them to do their actual job as Psychopomps.
- Glee The Virtual Season Four has an episode where Sue takes over New Directions and forces the club into a theme week they hate.
- Eugenesis gives this as one of the reasons Prowl reluctantly takes command when Rodimus is incapacitated, so that Grimlock and his "cronies" don't.
- As the follow-up story reveals, Grimlock wasn't the one Prowl should've been worried about.
Films — Animated
- Scar in The Lion King, "reluctantly" assuming the throne (after murdering his older brother Mufasa to get it) and issuing his Nazi-esque hyena regime.
Films — Live-Action
- Sergeant Mauser from Police Academy.
- In Fort Apache, The Bronx, the new police captain is determined to run things "by the book". Protagonist Officer Murphy predicts things will go to hell.
- As indeed, Colonel Thursday does in the original Fort Apache.
- In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Koba sets up an attempted assassination on Caesar and then blames the humans for the things he himself did, which works doubly in his favor for not only putting him in charge, but also forcing the apes to fight the humans.
- Near the beginning of Horrible Bosses, one of the aforementioned horrible bosses takes over his dead father's company and purposely drives it into the ground solely for personal gain.
- This happens in Out Cold when a rich skiing tycoon takes over Bull Mountain and attempts to transform it into another Vail.
- In Heavyweights, Camp Hope is taken over by Tony Perkus, a fitness fanatic who systematically removes everything fun about the camp and runs the campers ragged with unreasonably harsh exercise programs.
- The plot of the Dead Like Me movie is initially driven by the disappearance of Rube in a mysterious fire and the arrival of his shady Smug Snake replacement who encourages the Reapers to feel free to abuse their powers and cut corners on the job. A bit of a subversion in this case as the hard-nosed by-the-book leader is replaced with a much more laid back one, but it ends up playing out much the same as the Reapers begin to realize the consequences of their irresponsibility (both for themselves and the people around them).
- In the Richie Rich film, Laurence Van Dough arranges for Richie's parents to be killed so he can take over their estate. He's temporarily foiled by Richie taking over with Cadbury as his proxy, but then frames Cadbury for the Rich's murder. Don't worry, the Riches got better.
- This is pretty much what the Emperor does in Star Wars. He claims that the current chancellor is unable to handle the crisis at hand and becomes his replacement. He then starts to restructure the Republic into an Empire, for the good of the people and peace in the galaxy. The important difference is that he was the one who created the crisis in the first place.
- In Gladiator when the corrupt, self-centered Commodus murders his father, Emperor Marcus Aurelius, and subsequently becomes the next emperor of Rome, things do not go well after that.
- In Bananas, Woody Allen joins a group of freedom fighters in a Latin American country, San Marcos. They eventually depose the military dictator, but the new president, Esposito, quickly reveals himself to be equally tyrannical. Esposito is then deposed and replaced by Fielding Mellish (Woody).
- Toy Santa in The Santa Clause 2. At first, he's supposed to simply fill in for Santa on basic tasks like checking in on the elves' work and the high rank elves in the know have little problem passing him off as Santa (who had some work done), but with time he gains more autonomy and decides he needs to check the list twice, at which point he discovers all of the kids in the world should be on the naughty list (by his "there exists" argument of naughtiness) and the high rank elves start arguing with him. Soon, he builds an army of toy soldiers, insists no more toys are built, and puts the highest ranking official around under house arrest for exposing him as a fraud. It's later shown that he imprisoned many more of the elves and he even ties up the real Santa when he returns.
- Dolores Umbridge of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, who is the former Trope Namer. She came to the school as a teacher imposed by the Ministry of Magic, becomes High Inquisitor, fires Trelawney, tries to subdue Hagrid like he's a wild beast with a team of Stunners due to her hatred of Half Human Hybrids and treats any "filthy half-breed" like a stupider, lesser being, dictates stupid rules aimed at abolishing the students' civil liberties, literally tortures students during detention, and finally deposes Dumbledore and becomes Headmistress. Her "things will be different around here" speech was lampshaded by Hermione. She's so bad that she actually sides with Voldemort after she's run out of Hogwartsnote . Most readers reserve more hate for Umbridge than for Voldemort, the actual Big Bad of the series. Stephen King has noted that Umbridge is the strongest of Harry Potter's villains because she's the kind of character who you just love to hate, whereas you hate Voldemort simply because the book wants you to and because he's Obviously Evil.
- When Saruman and Lotho take charge in the "Scourging of the Shire" chapter of The Lord of the Rings.
- Then it ends up being just Saruman, since he had Wormtongue murder Lotho. He even insinuates that Lotho became Wormtongue's dinner.
- In Paul Robinson's In The Matter of: Instrument of God, Marilyn, the Deputy Administrator of the Welcoming Department, becomes appointed to Administrator when the former administrator decides to go back to earth. Her new rules are so disliked that the entire supervisory staff of the department quit in protest - all except for one supervisor, so that she can't appoint anyone in their place.
- The evil governess Miss Slighcarp in The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken does this the minute Bonnie's parents leave the house.
- In ''Animal Farm, Farmer Jones is removed from power for neglecting his animals. Eventually Napoleon becomes the new dictator and turns the farm into a work camp, making it worse than it was before! Also the story depicts humans as evil, so as the pigs become more corrupt they slowly turn into humans.
- One of these is basically the major plot motivator in The Caine Mutiny
- This happens when Prince John usurps King Richard's throne in many versions of the Robin Hood story.
- During the events of Terry Pratchett's The Fifth Elephant, Sergeant Colon is, much to his own horror, put in charge of the city watch by means of being the most senior watchman available and promptly begins burning paperwork and accusing his subordinates of stealing sugar cubes and "earlobing" him. This has the effect of creating the Watchmen's Guild. This is ultimately corrected when Captain Carrot returns from his "sabbatical". Humorously, this had little effect on the city's crime rates; if anything, crime rates went down, since all the criminals knew that this state of events would put Commander Vimes in a foul mood when he got back and nobody wanted to be on the receiving end of that.
- In Douglas Coupland's jPod, this happens twice, although neither of the tyrants is particularly evil. The first one is Steve, who takes over as head of marketing, and promptly attempts to get a cute turtle inserted into the skateboarding game they're designing. He's later vanished by the Chinese mafia, and replaced by Alastair, who turns the game into an edutainment title about a prince and a flying carpet. He frustrates the characters so much that they find and rescue Steve.
- In the third book of the Septimus Heap series, Queen Etheldredda the Awful attempts to pull this. She's a ghost, so her ability to do things is somewhat... limited, but she attempts to influence the Princess and her family to various effect. Those she doesn't like get infected with a dangerous disease via her ugly pet.
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians: When beloved centaur mentor Chiron is temporarily relieved of his duties in the second Percy Jackson book, The Sea of Monsters, somebody unaccountably decided that the best person to replace him as activities coordinator at Camp Half-Blood would be notorious child-murderer Tantalus.
- Miss Viola Swamp from the Miss Nelson series of books. Miss Swamp was a very harsh disciplinarian who kept the mischievous children in line when they took advantage of Miss Nelson's kind nature. It was revealed in the end of the first book that Miss Swamp was Miss Nelson in disguise.
- Brother Leon, in The Chocolate War. He becomes acting headmaster of Trinity High School when the regular headmaster falls ill, makes a Deal with the Devil to try and secure the job permanently, and eventually winds up Jumping Off the Slippery Slope.
- This was part of Baron Harkonnen's plan for Dune: first have his evil mentat Piter de Vries take control of Arrakis and squeeze every ounce of worth and water out of the people, then have his nephew Feyd swoop in as a big damn hero and win everyone's love and affection. Alas, Piter came down with a bad case of death before he could be put in charge, so the Baron sent his other nephew, the Beast Rabban.
- The plot of Gay from China at the Chalet School revolves around this trope. When Miss Bubb, the tyrant in question, takes over as temporary headmistress after Miss Wilson, Miss Annersley and others are injured in a car crash, her fixation on exam results and crackdowns on the girls' free time and privileges makes her very unpopular, to the point where Joey writes a letter begging Miss Wilson to come back. Things comes to a head when she forbids Gay Lambert - who has broken rules on more than one occasion - to see her older brother before he is stationed in Asia, which leads to Gay running away and culminates in Miss Bubb having to resign, to everyone's relief.
- In the Honor Harrington short story A Ship Named Francis, after the captain ends up in a coma because of a potato sack race, his psychotic XO takes over. He declares that he's going to increase discipline onboard ship and starts out by holding summary court martials in which he sentences a quarter of the crew to death - within one day of taking command. Since they were four days away from their home port, the crew figured that at his current rate the XO would end up killing everyone by the time the ship made it back, and they hastily devised a plan to subvert his insanity (Note that the Francis S Mueller was the duty posting for everyone the Navy didn't want at an important posting but hadn't screwed up enough to be thrown out... yet).
- One of Niccolò Machiavelli's most famous pieces of advice from The Prince was to have a Tyrant Take The Helm in a rebellious territory. The tyrant will crush resistance at the cost of arousing public hatred. Then, when you come in and order the tyrant's beheading, you're left with a pacified province of people who consider themselves indebted to you for eliminating the tyrant.
- Dexter experienced this trope with the introduction of Esme Pascal. An annoying short lived character who constantly raved that her boyfriend was cheating on her (which he was with the original leader). She then promptly becomes unstable as a result of LaGuerta's machinations.
- Hogan's Heroes. This trope may as well be called "Colonel Klink's Been Replaced Again", given how often this is used.
- Also applies when a new sergeant of the guard or underling comes in. They're almost invariably sterner than the usuals.
- Also might apply to Crittendon. He's technically an ally, but he's both overcontrolling and a complete moron.
- Special mention goes to the episode where Schultz is put in charge. After taking advice from Hogan about how officers are supposed to act, his usual "I see nothing" attitude flies out the window and he starts treating the prisoners like, well, prisoners. Of course Hogan and the guys immediately start devising schemes to return to the status quo.
- In the Doctor Who Series Three finale, The Master becomes Prime Minister
- The Stargate SG-1 episode "Chain Reaction" is a typical Tyrant Takes The Helm episode. The beloved leader of the SGC, General Hammond, is blackmailed into retiring and is replaced by a General Bauer. Bauer proceeds to break up SG-1, dedicate all the SGC's resources to building a big bomb and privately delivers the "things will be different around here" speech to O'Neill. O'Neill then sets out to get Hammond back and he is, of course, successful by the end of the episode.
- Bauer also screwed up so badly in the episode (blowing up an uninhabited planet which very nearly meant irradiating the entire state) that he probably would have resigned even if Hammond hadn't returned.
- When Monica Mancuso takes the helm as owner of the Montecito resort in Las Vegas, her already-unpleasant persona turns into The Caligula, having both put the casino in jeopardy several times, including with a foreign government, and wanting to take over other properties for herself in the Las Vegas area. All of this, combined with the fact that she's a horrible Gold Digger makes her hated by everyone, staff and customers, and her Karmic Death is celebrated. By contrast, all of the other owners, including A.J Cooper, have either been tough but fair, or downright reasonable.
- In M*A*S*H, Frank Burns became one whenever left in command.
- Likewise with Hawkeye. He started out trying to be reasonable, but when faced with the increasingly difficult decisions command gave him he started alienating the rest of the camp to Frank Burns levels. Luckily, Potter returned and smoothed things over.
- Colonel Potter, by contrast, was something of a Bait-and-Switch Tyrant.
- The one time Winchester took the helm, this trope only applied to Klinger, whom Winchester employed as his batman. Everyone else was more exasperated by how much a nonentity in command he was, interested only in listening to Wagner and otherwise indulging in Its Good To Be The King than actually running the unit.
- Subverted in the original film. Frank is left in command at one point, but he's so disrespected that he essentially has no authority.
- "Evil Dick" of 3rd Rock from the Sun is a humorous version. His first "drastic change" was to move a gnome from a coffee table to a dresser.
- Queeg in the self titled episode of Red Dwarf. Subverted because he is actually an alter ego of Holly, created to show the crew how good they have it with him. Guess he knew this trope.
- When Doctor Maddox takes charge in Scrubs. She doesn't so much change the rules as do away with the small amount of leeway Doctor Kelso gave the staff.
- Edward Vogler from House. Of course, there wasn't really a "regular" leader he was replacing, but Vogler did manage to pretty much take over the hospital and force them to run it his way. House, of course, opposed him at every turn and the rest of the main cast eventually came around as well.
- The Brit Com Are You Being Served?, 1976 season, episode "Forward Mr. Grainger": The lovable head of the Men's Department Mr Grainger gets a temporary promotion and instantly becomes a complete tyrant, even going as far as to fire one of the regulars. Then the real manager returns ahead of schedule and takes back his job, sends Grainger back to his, and Grainger realizes that he's dug his own grave.
- Crossing Jordan had multiple instances, one with Dr. Jack Slocum and another with Special Prosecutor William Ivers. The latter somewhat redeems himself in a later episode.
- Private Frazer in Dad's Army yearns to do this, angling for increased power and responsibility at every opportunity. Ironically, the one time he was temporarily put in charge he proved himself a much more effective leader than Captain Mainwaring. However, in following with the trope, the power goes to his head enough and he becomes enough of a bullying tyrant so that when the positions are returned to normal, no one really minds.
- A curious example appears in Life On Mars in the form of DCI Frank Morgan, who temporarily replaces Gene Hunt when the latter is accused of murder. Contrary to the usual Tyrant, Morgan is — compared to his fellow 1973 officers, at any rate — a progressive, thoughtful and thoroughly competent administrator who only becomes a tyrant in that he's unwilling to put up with the sloppiness and ethically questionable conduct that Hunt encouraged. Sam Tyler, himself a progressive officer (with the excuse that he [to his knowledge] comes from 2007) finds himself actually admiring Morgan's methods even whilst he's trying to clear Hunt's name of murder. Later in the season, Morgan does reveal a bastard side, however, in that he's willing to go to any lengths — including letting the rest of the team die in a botched undercover job — so as to discredit Hunt and allow himself to take over and reform the department.
- Matt Webber in the MacGyver episode "Early Retirement".
- Erin Strauss on Criminal Minds However she tries to remove Hotch from his position as Unit Chief (and Hotch later says to Prentiss that, if Prentiss had told Strauss some of the things the team has done, he would have gotten fired), but later on tells former agent newly joining the team David Rossi that the team is Hotch's. And, instead of finding a way to get rid of Hotch after he beats George Foyet to death, she feeds the team and Hotch lines to ensure that all testimony makes it obvious that Hotch had no choice.
- Acting DA Van Dyke on Medium.
- Played with several times in the U.S. version of The Office (US), most notably in the episode "The Job". Michael, assuming he will be promoted, names as his replacement Dwight, who immediately starts making odd changes.
- This is also the crux of the Charles Miner story arc when Michael quits.
- Happened yet again with Dwight when Steve Carell left the show. This time, Dwight went on an utterly insane power trip, which is probably more a tribute to how much he had Flanderized than anything. After one episode, he was fired for firing a gun in the office, though he of course retained his old job.
- Subverted in the show's final episodes where Jim manages to put a Batman Gambit in effect where through a bit of Insane Troll Logic all of Dwight's crazy tyrannical policies are delegated back to Dwight to deal with. Forced to be his own Only Sane Employee, Dwight mellows out a lot and after a few months becomes the best manager the company ever had.
- Two examples from Foyle's War:
- The first takes over when Foyle is suspended under suspicion of having committed sedition; he initially seems like a Bait-and-Switch Tyrant, if a bit of a strict one until it's revealed that he framed Foyle for sedition on order to get his job, so that he could murder a junior civil servant hiding out in a 'funk hole' hotel nearby whose incompetence he blames for the deaths of his mother and sister in an air-raid.
- The second takes over when Foyle resigns, and is disliked by everyone because he seems disinterested and incompetent at the job — it's later revealed he's like this because he doesn't care about anything since the deaths of his two sons in the war. He ends up accidentally getting shot by someone gunning for Milner, thus prompting Foyle's return.
- Greek: Lizzie, the national representative watching over Zeta Beta Zeta, is a passive-aggressive Tyrant, promising any "slip-ups" being reported to Nationals. She's somewhat ineffective, though, and eventually shows signs of a Bait-and-Switch Tyrant.
- This happens at least once a season in 24. Usually at some point the competent head of CTU is either punished for not "playing by the book" or somehow incapacitated, and "Division" sends over a replacement, who is always an arrogant jerk who annoys everybody by being more concerned with strict guidelines and power trips than with doing whatever it takes to stop the terrorist threat at hand. Usually, this person is either re-replaced or finally comes to see the error of his or her ways, usually when they make things worse.
- Special mention must go to Lynn McGill, who is such a tyrant that they eventually just declare him unfit for command and arrest him.
- Captain Edward Jellico in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Chain of Command (Part 1)". He made sweeping changes which, while normal for a regular armed force, were rather unorthodox for the Mildly Military Starfleet. Given that they were facing the very serious possibility of armed conflict breaking out with a hostile empire, these were probably necessary, but that didn't stop the crew from complaining all the way through. Notably, he finally put Troi in a standard uniform (which was much more flattering on her anyway). Something of a subversion, too, since he rescued Picard and Out-Gambitted the Cardassians (a race that has Magnificent Bastard as their hat). Picard even said he'd be keeping a lot of Jellico's changes.
- An episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody had Mr. Mosbey fired and replaced by a Tyrant. It was all back to normal by the end of the episode.
- Admiral Cain from the remade Battlestar Galactica series is a serious-as-cancer tyrant. Her concept of pragmatism involves a lot more "execution of un-useful civilians" than Adama's. Fortunately she's taken down before she gets to try this out with her newfound fleet. There's also the matter of her sanctioning the long and brutal torture of a Cylon captive who was once her girlfriend.
- The Wire:
- Lt. Marimo takes over and all but destroys the MCU in the fourth season. In a bit of genre-savviness, the bosses who sent him to the unit did so specifically to disrupt the unit, not because they believed he would be a good boss. He's even called his Trojan Horse by the Deputy Rawls.
- Marlo Stanfield, a small-time dealer, percieves the Barksdale as weak in Season 3, decides to wage war on Avon's organization and take over West Baltimore, which he manages to do with some luck and good timing. Unlike Avon Barksdale who was only ruthless and had people killed when they interfered with his corners, which is mostly part of the game, Marlo is a power-hungry sociopath who has people killed if he hears they were talking bad about him, questioning him, or even if they look at him wrong. He violently deposes the relatively peaceful old order and is responsible for over two dozen murders.
- In Porridge (episode Disturbing the Peace), Mackay is sent away, only to be replaced by the sadistic Napper Wainwright.
- Subverted briefly in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit with Kim Greylek who informs Cragen that she'll be present at crime scenes. The captain, finding this a very familiar scene, cuts her down immediately.
"That won't last."
- ER had chief nurse Eve Peyton, who forced Sam to fire long-time nurse Haleh.
- In the Dollhouse episode "Meet Jane Doe" (2x07), after losing Echo, Adele is replaced by Harding, who humiliates her by installing her as his puppet/maid and creates a Research and Development department presumably to begin building the technology responsible for the collapse of civilization we see in "Epitaph One" (1x13). She is only able to regain her position of power by delivering said technology right into Harding's hands, a move made out of desperation and perhaps qualitatively worse than anything she has done on the show before. Of course, she's spurred on by this bit of inspirational wisdom from Boyd after they learn that Harding plans to send a number of the actives to a new house in Dubai:
Boyd: You need to take this house back.Adele: And how am I supposed to do that?Boyd: ...The Adele I knew would never ask me that question.
- The secretary Miss Harbottle from All Creatures Great and Small. She rules the accounts with an iron fist and equates taking money from the cashbox to pay for petty expenses with embezzlement. No wonder she didn't last long.
- Roger Gaffney in Homicide: Life on the Street. He is an incompetent detective who is promoted over Giardello for purely political reasons. He gives his "things are going to change around here" speech while Giardello trashes a room in a fit of rage.
- Steve Fleming in The Thick of It. At first his colleagues are happy to see the back of Malcolm Tucker but when they realize how creepy, charmless and bad-tempered his replacement is they decide they want their jerk to come back from his 10-Minute Retirement.
- John Gilbert for a while in Season 1 of The Vampire Diaries.
- Veronica Mars: Keith Mars when he regains the position of sheriff. While generally a good guy, his response to underage drinking was way out of proportion to the actual problem. The deputies subsequently make no effort to enforce the law in this regard and pointedly ignore Keith's orders.
- Mr Howard and Ms. Briggs from iCarly turn the school into something out of 1984 in iHaveMyPrincipals.
- This trope could almost be called The Snyder, after Armin Shimerman's role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Snyder replaced Principal Flutie after Flutie was eaten by students possessed by hyenas. While he openly despised pretty much all teenagers, he targeted Buffy and the Scoobie Gang; it was theorized in Season Two that he was working for Mayor Wilkins, but by Season Three he turned out to be as much in the dark as the rest of the adult population of Sunnydale.
- In the Midsomer Murders episode "Picture of Innocence'', Barnaby is taken off a case when he becomes one of the suspects and is replaced by the pencil-pushing bureaucrat Martin Spellman, much to Jones' disgust.
- On NYPD Blue, the first time Lt. Fancy leaves, his replacement definitely fits the trope. Fancy sees what's going on, and arranges to get her removed and comes back. Subverted when he leaves again—everyone (especially Andy) is expecting another tyrant, but the new guy turns out to be OK.
- While DCI Jim Keats doesn't outright take leadership of CID, and while he's a lot subtler than your typical Tyrant, his role in Ashes to Ashes is that of an authority figure who tries to implement some serious changes, going against the grain and established protocol in an effort to - hopefully - usurp the current leader. Not only does he fail, he reveals his true nature. There have been theories that he's tried to take over before, in the guise of Frank Morgan in Life on Mars.
- The replacement Kosh on Babylon 5, to the point that eventually Sheridan and Delenn actually have him murdered.
- Also Emperor Cartagia, who turns out to be batshit insane and kills most of his advisers for trivial reasons (and keeps their heads to talk to them). His final plan? To become a god by letting the Vorlons destroy Centauri Prime. The worst part is that Londo helped put him in power, as he and Lord Refa believed they could control him. Boy, did that plan backfire.
- Colonel Ari ben Zayn in the episode "Eyes" falls into this category when he trumps up charges against Sinclair and takes over the station to the point that his own aide helps discredit him. It turns out that not only did ben Zayn have a personal grudge against Sinclair (who was promoted ahead of him to command the station), he was probably mentally unstable to begin with and ended up aiding a larger conspiracy within EarthGov to further his personal agenda.
- Claudius plans to use this gambit by naming Nero his successor; the intent being to let Rome see how dreadful an Emperor can be. Strangely, they all seem to have forgotten how bad things were under Tiberius and Caligula, who preceded Claudius. Once Nero has ruined everything, Claudius's true chosen successor is to return to reinstate the Republic. Needless to say, this does not work out.
- In one episode of Even Stevens, Principal Wexler leaves to pursue a modeling career and is replaced by incompetent pushover Vice Principal Landau. After the school descends into anarchy, Ren gives him a pep talk and tells him to be more assertive. He takes it to heart, and a few days later the school has turned into 1984 (things get better in the end, of course).
- An episode of Primeval had the imperious Christine Johnson take control of the ARC and force the team into hiding. She was removed from her post by the end of the episode though.
- After the return of Abby and Connor after their 1-year hiatus in the past, they find out that things have changed in the ARC. While James Lester (who is much more caring that he pretends to be) is still formally in charge of day-to-day activities, it's now partly a privately-funded operation with a tycoon named Philip Burton having a lot of say. While he's not exactly a tyrant, he's much more concerned with the anomalies themselves than protecting the people from all the creatures that come through. After he nearly dies thanks to Rex escaping his cage, he orders that all creatures in the ARC be put down, no exceptions. Lester has to blackmail him to reverse the order.
- In Jack-of-All-Trades, Governor Croque once goes to prison and his wife takes over for the duration. She decides to start executing villagers to force the Dragoon to reveal himself. In another episode Jack and Emily have to aid Croque in looking good in front of his superiors, since otherwise he might be replaced by someone who is actually a threat.
- Any episode where Croque's brother Napoleon shows up, he immediately takes over (being The Emperor and all), forcing Dragoon to try to get him off the island as fast as possible.
- On Parks and Recreation, Chris after he becomes acting City Manager. He institutes a number of changes, including the UST-inducing ban on workplace dating, in addition to shaking up the Parks Department by giving everyone new assignments that they're unsuited for. However, Chris is quite a nice guy; he's simply oblivious to the fact that not everyone is as efficient, cheerful, and professional as he is.
- Ron discusses the tendency for new city managers to shake things up and insist on doing things their own way. He loves this period because all of the changes are inevitably terrible and nothing gets done, giving him a chance to relax and eat doughnuts.
- In Power Rangers S.P.D., Supreme Commander Birdie fires Cruger in one episode due to Cruger's unwillingness to follow Birdie's ideas on strategy. Birdie gets the Rangers, and later himself, into trouble very quickly due to his pride and his "split up the team regardless of circumstances" strategies.
- In one epsiode of The Slammer, the Governor is arrested and replaced by a new governor, Mr Beltsem. Beltsem is a tyrant who mistreats both the prisoners and the guards, and suffers from 'show biz phobia'.
- Happened a few times in Seven Days, and always cancelled with the serie's built-in Reset Button.
- Deputy Commissioner Doherty on Cold Case, new boss and arch-rival to Lt. Stillman, on Cold Case. Interestingly, the actual reason he enjoys making Stillman's life hell is a bit of a twist: at first we're led to believe it's Stillman's contempt for Doherty's sleazeball City Council allies, then because Stillman locked up Doherty's junkie son, but it's eventually revealed that Doherty is actually envious of Stillman because the son's stay in prison had legitimately straightened him out, and thus Doherty resents Stillman for accomplishing something he never could. In the series finale, it's implied Doherty will be sent to prison or at least lose his job, as it turns out his son also committed manslaughter, which Doherty had fudged police records to cover up.
- Death in Paradise: Sergeant Angela Young who takes over the station when Poole is laid in bed with a fever and Camille is in Paris on a training course in "An Unhelpful Aid".
- House of Saddam: According to Iraqi President Al-Bakr, thanks to his rule - with Saddam Hussein as deputy - Iraq has schools and food for all of the people, for the first time in history. He is deposed upon Saddam's coup d'etat of the Ba'ath Party and Saddam's regime is quickly driven by megalomania and tyranny.
- The major ongoing plot in third season of The Doctor Blake Mysteries involves Chief Superintendent Munro taking over from Lawson and trying to drive Lucien out of the position of Police Surgeon.
- Al Stewart's song “Joe the Georgian”, which is actually about Joseph Stalin's regime, re-imagined in a naval setting where he literally takes the helm.
We all set off togetherOn this sorry ship of stateWhen the captain took the feverWe were hijacked by the mateAnd he steered us through the shadowsUpon an angry tideAnd cast us one by one over the side
- This is the backstory for Big Guns; even the antagonist is named "King Tyrant".
- Vickie Guerrero during her time as Smackdown and Raw General Manager in WWE fills this role well.
- Kevin Nash was this after he won the WCW commissioner position from Terry Funk in early 2000. To the point where he told everyone that from now on, whenever speaking to him, they must kneel and refer to him as their "Lord Master".
- Ric Flair was this after he turned heel while president of WCW. Well, this and batshit crazy.
- Once John Laurinaitis got a hold of both Raw & SmackDown, he hid behind the philosophy of "People Power" and used it to his own ends.
- Remley pulls this The Phil Harris Alice Faye Show after he signs his name to Phil's employment contract, but it's played humorously. It doesn't last long:
Remley: From this moment on, I am your leader. You will respect my authority without question and obedience, I AM AN ABSOLUTE POWER!Band members: Heil, Remley! Heil, Remley! Heil, Remley!
- An early arc of FoxTrot saw parents Roger and Andy leaving their eldest son Peter in charge while they went on vacation. Peter immediately started abusing the power they'd given him, making Paige and Jason follow all his demands. When they get sick of it and confront him, he responds by locking them in the basement. Fortunately, Jason and Paige had tapes of Peter's reign and Peter himself told them he locked Jason and Paige in the basement, so he was punished accordingly.
- Valtome from Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn was a tyrant of the Smug Snake variety, and a bit of an odd example given the fact that the old leader was still there; he just was forced to follow Valtome's orders. Which included, among other things, sending a significant number of his men into a deathtrap to hunt for corpses. Oh, and sending his personal army to attack Queen Elincia, who had just achieved a ceasefire by willingly disarming herself.
- In Fable III, if you're an evil player this is what happens when you usurp your older brother Logan as King. You can be just as bad or even worse of a tyrant than him.
- Starcraft provides Arcturus Mengsk, who fills this role as the Emperor of the Dominion. Has not yet been dethroned, even in the sequel.
- The point in Starcraft is not that Mengsk is worse than the government he overthrew, but that he is just as bad: that the only thing changed between the Confederacy and the Dominion was the label. Well, and he has a personal grudge against Raynor.
- As of Heart of the Swarm, he has finally been deposed. Time will tell if his son, who inherited his position, will be any better as a ruler.
- His dad was certainly not a charmer, but Rufus Shinra of Final Fantasy VII made it quite clear from his New Era Speech ('The old man ruled through money, I'll rule through fear') that he was going to be worse. Although President Shinra destroyed an entire sector of his city, killing untold numbers, just to wipe out a terrorist hideout. Rufus 'died' defending the same city from WEAPON and then resurfaced alive and repentant, if still manipulative, in Advent Children.
- Atlas, revealed to be Fontaine from BioShock takes over, reveals his true identity, and proceeds to make the protagonist's adventure a living hell while ruling as a complete dictator with full intentions of taking over the world economy by brute force and the use of ADAM. Considering the fact that he has no ideology compared to Ryan, this gives him no restraints as the ruler of the city.
- Which, considering that Ryan's own restraints basically amounted to "don't screw with me or Rapture as a whole" that resulted in him trying to use sedative gas on the entire populace to maintain order, really goes to show just how ridiculously far he's prepared to go.
- Hideyoshi in Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams. While Nobunaga was an all powerful man who sold his soul to the genma for his ambitions, you at least had the feeling that he had no ill will towards his enemies and was lost into his ambition, not trying to be a genma puppet or cause suffering to the people he wanted to rule. Hideyoshi, on the other hand, pretty much tries to turn the entire country and possibly the world into mind controlled monsters and has people used to make Genma trees that will allow his plans to work. He's ultimately a pawn, but he went to lengths willingly that Nobunaga might actually be disgusted with.
- Dishonored is rife with this. After the Empress is murdered, the Lord Regent rules with an iron fist. After Admiral Havelock betrays Corvo and seizes control, he continues the Lord Regent's practices.
- During a Space Route scenario in Shin Super Robot Wars, the Londo Bell rescues Fonse Kagatie from imprisonment. He relates how the alien attack and Tassilo Vago's treachery brought about the end of the Zanscare Empire (just as Lupe Cineau had said), ending in Tassilo bringing him here a prisoner. When the party tells him that Zanscare is still active, Fonse realizes that Char Aznable must have taken control. Increasingly panicked, he tells the party they must stop Char before he achieves his misguided goal of robbing all mankind of its emotions, creating obedient soldiers as the aliens want.
- Garrosh Hellscream from World of Warcraft embodies this trope to its fullest. When the Cataclysm wreaks havoc upon Azeroth, Thrall abandons his position as Warchief of the Horde to fulfill his shamanistic duties to the elements and leaves Garrosh Hellscream in his stead. While his humble acceptance of the position looks at first to be promising, it does not take long for the power to get to his head. His radical beliefs of orc supremacy and disregard for other races- even those allied to the Horde- force him to be the primary antagonist of Mists of Pandaria and a minor antagonist of the next expansion, Warlords of Draenor.
- After the revelations of Tsukiji Hongwanji and Reverse Hills, the prentice Samurai in Shin Megami Tensei IV are urgently summoned back home, where they find the entire court has been deposed and exiled. And nobody bothers to wonder where they went. The Monastery's Witch Hunts are steadily growing in ferocity and frequency. The populace is being slowly subsumed into a haze, with dreams of a shining light that commands all to obey the Monastery. The Four Archangels are back in town, steadily and gently Mind Raping everybody to consolidate their rule.
- Simon DeVere, the new store director in TRU-Life Adventures. He talks big about preserving what works at the store and just making a few tweaks here and there, his actions prove him to be this trope.
- Played with in the Homestar Runner Cheat Commandos toon 2 Part Episode. Admiral Flashfight is unambiguously one of these, but he's actually gotten the Cheat Commandos to actually do something for a change instead of goofing around and playing video games with Blue Laser.
- A Very Potter Sequel has a rather different take on Dolores Umbridge, involving a couple Freudian Excuses, but she still acts as a tyrant during the second act. She doesn't really elicit the want-to-strangle reaction of the book and film versions, however, mostly because her behavior Crosses the Line Twice.
- Maggie from Chad Vader.
- Simmons from Red vs. Blue tries to implement discipline exercises to reinforce his new position of power in Red army when he replaces Sarge. The Red army doesn't respect Simmons enough for this to work, however, and the group as a whole soon works towards getting Sarge back (including Simmons).
- In Noob this got inverted when Arthéon replaced Master Zen as Guild Master.
- In Season 2, Episode 24 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Diamond Tiara is chosen as the new editor-in-chief for Ponyville's school's newspaper. She goes so far as to call her role a "new regime" while describing it.
- Francine in the Arthur episode Francine Frensky, Superstar!.
- "That Guy", the unfrozen '80s CEO of Planet Express and Morgan Proctor, Hermes' replacement bureaucrat from the "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back" episode of Futurama.
- The time auditor from an episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, DVD (he removed the vowels from his name in order to be more efficient).
- Essentially the whole plot of the Adventure Time episode "Too Young." Although the earl of Lemongrab isn't evil or malicious in his intentions (he's more of an angry, inexperienced, spoiled child,) his style of ruling is summed up by his quote from the storyboards: "Anyone who disagrees or disobeys will be thrown into the dungeon." He isn't an intentional tyrant, but he does end up sending literally everyone in the Candy Kingdom to the dungeon for "one million years."
- One episode has Gus appointed as Acting King of the Playground while King Bob is away. His insane edicts culminate with enslaving the entire playground and forcing everyone to dig in the "cookie mines" (nobody's brave enough to ask why he expects to find cookies underground).
- In another episode Randall became one of these after blackmailing King Bob with a photo of a dress he was forced to wear by his sister.
- In yet another episode King Bob himself devolves from a Reasonable pseudo-authority figure to a tyrant after feeling like he'll be forgotten: being inspired by ancient Egypt, he renames himself "Pharaoh Bob" and forces everyone to build him a pyramid.
- Additionally, the principal who seeks to replace Principal Prickly, who is not only immune to the pranks by TJ at first go (and in fact gives an Early Room101 discipline) but plans to turn the school to Auschwitz or Airstrip One Elementary school. The only reason why he wasn't the next principal was due to the poor pay offer by the school board.
- One episode sees King Bob preoccupied with a biographer, leaving his usually reliable assistants to handle affairs of the playground. When there's issue they're not sure how to resolve, they come upon rules created by one King Mortie. This seems to work out, but the rules become increasingly bizarre. (Turns out Mortie was of the Depression-era and his rules were to ensure poor kids would always have something to play with.) T.J. and company want things to go back to normal, but King Bob's assistants get a little too comfortable dictating rules and effectively establish a secret police to enforce things. But don't worry, King Bob sets everything straight.
- In Danny Phantom, a series of pranks in "Eye for an Eye" escalates to Vlad becoming Mayor of Amity Park and him doing this. Eventually things went back to being (relatively) normal.
- Lieutenant Major Goose in the Hey Arnold! episode "New Teacher". After they get a new teacher by the name of Mr. Simmons, the kids refuse to take him seriously and perform a series of pranks, eventually causing him to get frustrated and quit. However, he is then in turn replaced by a strict military martinet (Major Goose), and the kids waste no time in unhatching a plan to get Mr. Simmons back.
- Played on South Park with Bill Donohue in the "Fantastic Easter Special", who takes over the Catholic Church before Jesus makes him Half the Man He Used to Be.
- The Simpsons:
- Subverted twice when surly assistant superintendent Leopold stomps up to the podium in Springfield Elementary's assembly hall, snarls something to the effect of "things are going to be very, very different around here", then cheerily introduces a much more endearing individual as the replacement faculty member. The first time is in "Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song" when announcing Ned Flanders as replacement principal, and the second time is in "The PTA Disbands" with Marge Simpson becoming a substitute teacher.
- Inverted in "My Sister, My Sitter." After Lisa proves herself a reliable babysitter for the neighborhood, Homer and Marge leave her in charge when they go out. Lisa tries to be fair, but Bart (hating the idea of being babysat by his little sister) is as difficult as possible. After a series of pranks, he winds up breaking his arm in a fall. Naturally, it goes downhill from there.
- Played straight in "The Parent Rap" when Judge Constance Harm (an exaggerated parody of Judge Judy) takes over for Judge Snyder.
- Mr. Grump in "Madeline's Holiday With Mr. Grump" on Madeline.
- In Potsworth And Company, there was one episode where the Bigger Bad, tired of her son's failures, fired him and hired a replacement who was so terrible the heroes tricked her into firing him and rehiring the original Big Bad.
- In The Legend of Korra Tarrlok becomes this after ascending to de facto ruler of Republic City. His first action is to impose harsh curfew measures on non-benders, then cuts off their power to force them outside so he can arrest them.
- Subverted in King of the Hill. When Buck Strickland is in the hospital, he appoints Jerkass Vickers to run things while he's gone. However, it turns out Buck actually did all the things Vickers does, he just does them in secret instead of announcing them.
- In an episode of The Hub's Pound Puppies, "McLeish Unleashed", Mr. McLeish finally gets the promotion he's been stumping for, and his position as head dog-catcher is taken over by the even more dangerously ambitious Milton Feltwaddle (last seen in "Toyoshiko! Bark Friend Machine"), who proceeds to turn Shelter 17 into a heavily-secured dog prison. Fortunately, the Puppies manage to sabotage Feltwaddle's regime change and get McLeish to go back to his old job.
- In the Umbara arc of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Anakin is called away from his unit and Pong Krell takes over. Krell immediately starts ordering the clones on suicidal charges, scolding them for retreating from hopeless situations, and insisting on referring to them by their alphanumeric designations rather than their chosen callsigns. In the final episode of the arc, he manipulates two units of clones into attacking one another, which finally pushes the survivors to mutiny against him.
- Many revolutions and coups throughout history have caused tyrants to come to power.
- Accusations of this abound in politics. Best not be too specific, but there's really no need to anyway. Follow political commentary long enough and someone, somewhere will invoke this trope. Invoked in Australian Politics when Bronwyn Bishop achieved her life long dream of attaining absolute power as Speaker of the House, Labor member Tony Burke referred to the former Trope Namer and she has demonstrated to almost follow Umbridge's guide book to the letter.
- A sadly common thing for many working people to experience firsthand, as some companies try to get more work out of people while giving them less pay and fewer resources to do the work. Less common in real life is the quick, neat, happy ending in which the Tyrant is sent packing...
- Can be seen in sports when a "player's coach" is replaced by someone with a more "disciplinarian" style. A recent example of this would be when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired Raheem Morris (who had a more lax philosophy so long as his team was ready to play) in 2011 and hired Greg Schiano (who reportedly treated his players like the college students he coached at Rutgers University) to replace him.