aka: The Ubermensch
In 1883, Friedrich Nietzsche published a book called Also Sprach Zarathustra in which he elaborated his ethical ideal, the Übermensch. The name came from the concept about ordinary humanity believing there would be no morals or reasons to live if there was no Other to define morality and reason. Transcending this illusion makes one an "over-man". This was a person, or for us, a character, who rejects the norms of society and lives by his own moral code. Depending upon the character's role in the story and how cynical the story is, The Übermensch may be characterised as either The Fettered or The Unfettered. Compare with Above Good and Evil, The Anti-Nihilist, Blue and Orange Morality, Byronic Hero, Moral Sociopathy, Pure Is Not Good and Well-Intentioned Extremist. Compare and contrast with Dark Messiah, The Social Darwinist, The Sociopath and What Is Evil? Contrast with the Straw Nihilist, who believes themselves to be this trope.
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Anime and Manga
- Kira Yamato and Lacus Clyne, starting late in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and never quite stopping. They ignore pre-existing political institutions and act outside them, Kira fights quite differently from even his own friends, and possess ideals that damn near every protagonist in the franchise starts to abide by.
- Claire Stanfield of Baccano! is an interesting take on this. When a villain tries to give him a Hannibal Lecture about how mercy is a weakness, he admits that this is completely true — which is why only the strong can afford to be merciful. Also, he's a solipsist who thinks he's God.
- Lelouch, Schneizel and Emperor Charles in Code Geass are all examples, having their own ideas of how to supplant the status quo with their own ideals. The status of Lelouch as a Ubermensch could be in question due to the two of his first motivations being ressentiment and pity (two qualities Nietzsche detracted), but that doesn't mean he is the Last Man. Instead, The Last Man are the masses who are content with Britannian policies and prefer to live in slavery rather than take action. E.g. the Japanese guy who gets beaten up by an aristocrat and doesn't even think of fighting back. Or those faux-Japanese gangsters on whom Lelouch abuses his Geass in R2. Perhaps the most obvious example would be from the very first episode, after Kallen's truck crashes and Britannians (!) all around just stand there, take pictures with their cellphones, and lazily ask if someone called an ambulance. And cheer passively when a single person (guess who?) actually gets down there to help the driver.
- Death Note:
- Light Yagami decides to take the law in his hands and cleanse the world of all criminals without conforming to laws. The Live Action film even has him reading one of Nietzsche's books.
- Certainly Near as well. “Even if there was a god and I had his teachings in front of me I would decide for myself what is good and what is evil.”
- The Major from Hellsing. He has the antisocial behavior, presenting himself as a cheerfully sadistic fat man. And when questioned by Integra on what his goals are, he replies; "To put it into the simplest possible terms Fraulein, our purpose... is a total absence of purpose". His love of war serves its purpose as a twisted value; he even says that he loves war regardless of which side is winning. As for moral restraints, when conversing with Doc, he says that while the prospect of becoming a vampire is enticing, (as he could go one fighting forever) he refuses, wishing to remain human and retain his sense of self.
- Friday Monday from Madlax thinks of himself as this but is in fact too obviously (and inarticulately) crazy to even deliver a half-decent Hannibal Lecture, much less Make A Better World. The Fettered Vanessa, on the other hand, is discussed as something at least vaguely resembling Nietzsche's ideal, even dying in a manner of her own choosing after breaking out of her Brainwashed state.
- Johan Liebert, the eponymous monster. He considers himself above the petty squabbles of humans, easily playing with their emotions and manipulating them into his plans, even making some of them commit suicide. He never shows any emotion or need to conform to society's ethics. He claims to have seen the "End of the world" and claims his goal is to be the last living person in the world.
- Dr. Tenma also embodies this trope as he spends the entire run building his own ethical standards thanks to his interactions with Johan destroying his ability to simply go along with the socially acceptable. He actually becomes the constructive ubermensch that Nietzsche first postulated. Tenma is an Ubermensch who embraces what most see as 'old' values. However, by embracing them in such a manner, he reconstructs them! He takes the values people have rejected, and makes them meaningful again. Not what Nietzsche had in mind but it does make him an excellent Knight of Faith (see the Philosophy section below), albeit in a humanistic rather than a religious sense.
- Aizen Sousuke from Bleach. His declaration that he will supplant God in heaven pretty much clinches it, although he could possibly just be an extreme egomaniac. Egomania is almost a requirement for the Ubermensch, the main difference being that the Ubermensch can back up most of his claims.
- Reinhard von Lohengramm from Legend of Galactic Heroes, a military and political genius who wants to reform The Empire from the inside. He faces two main last men: First of all, the Deadly Decadent Court of The Empire, who have grown fat and happy on their repressive and static system. Secondly, Yang Wen-li, his equivalent in The Free Planets Alliance who only entered military service because it was the only way he could get higher education and keeps fighting for increasingly corrupt and incompetent politicians while dreaming of early retirement. A recurring motif in the story is also that "great men build history" and in many ways espouses the Ubermensch theory in a historical context — Reinhard is the example we're given during the time period the story is set in, but Rudolf Goldenbaum is also presented as an example in the backstory.
- Naozumi Sudo, the sociopathic teenage criminal from Narutaru who believes that he can change the world, releasing it of its bonds to tradition, customs, and common sense by means of a society based on one's abilities.
- Captain Harlock, the Space Pirate who has sworn to fight only for what he believes in. The rest of humanity in the various versions of the franchise are somewhere between the Last Man and Vichy Earth; the original anime is ridiculously Anvilicious about the corruption of humanity.
- Kuze, from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. He intends to build a superstructure of human cognition, with plans to radically alter human social institutions to adopt a more egalitarian means of solving social issues.
- One Piece: Blackbeard is a brutal, amoral pirate who wants to rule the world through his superhuman strength and gives inspiring speeches about the power of dreams and fate. It is implied that most pirates live by their own code, and because of that they're called pirates.
- Naruto: Pain believes himself to be a God, and wishes to show the world the path to true peace by showing them what 'true suffering' is with his power. And he showed he had the power to do so.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann:
- Kamina is a heroic example of this. He ignores all conventional morality and designs his own value set that throws aside the self-complacency of the world around him (the fact that the old values literally collapsed the moment the roof of the village did also helped). He never actually tries to lead anyone, his charisma is just so intense that he leads by example without trying. He claims his intent is to break through heaven and not just change his own destiny, but to entirely destroy the idea of "destiny." In the end, the entire universe ends up following his lead. Also, he actually is quite antisocial - he never actually tries to make friends with anyone, he's a complete jerk.
- And later, Simon grows to be like Kamina, and the role of the Last Man goes to Rossiu (and later is snapped out of it) and later the Anti-Spiral (who didn't get snapped out of it). It also helps that Spiral Energy is basically the Will to Power, thus any powerful spiral/human with enough "belief in the he that believes in himself" can reach Ubermensch-status.
- Ergo Proxy has Proxy One, a nigh invincible master manipulator as a villainous example of this. The protagonist, Vincent Law, pretty much starts out as a Last Man, being a sniveling weakling desperate to conform and be a "perfect citizen". Over time, he largely sheds this. ironically, Vincent is also the titular Ergo Proxy, who is a clone or something like that of Proxy One- thus, the Ubermensch and Last Man are effectively the same guy.
- Griffith of Berserk is a subversion. He is charismatic and impresses nearly everyone he comes across, who are content to follow him in order to fulfill his dream of his own kingdom. Meanwhile, he is a Manipulative Bastard who easily takes care of his enemies in the Deadly Decadent Court, and The Chessmaster who takes care of his enemies on the battlefield. However, when The Lancer decides to leave his team and beats him in combat, he throws a temper tantrum and in one fell swoop undoes everything he and his followers had worked for and attained up to that point, just because he can't stand the idea of someone being better than him. And eventually, he sacrifices his followers to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence just so he can get another chance to fulfill his dream. Griffith's selfishness is thus destructive rather than constructive and does NOT benefit everyone else.
- Lampshaded in Berserk Abridged, where Griffith talks to Guts about the idea of the Nietzsche Superman. Guts ends up confusing it for Necromancer.
- Irresponsible Captain Tylor can be interpreted as either as an Ubermensch, a Last Man, or possibly a bit of both, based on the last few episodes where his silly and lazy facade shows some cracks. Either he is an intelligent Ubermensch who adopts a Cloud Cuckoolander Obfuscating Stupidity personality in order to rebel against authority and live his life the way he wants to but cares about people and will protect his crew; or he is an juvenile Last Man who realizes that he is just a nobody and refuses to take his responsibilities seriously because of apathy, fear, and/or depression, and hides it all by being a Stepford Smiler. The truth is probably somewhere between those two extremes.
- A Certain Magical Index:
- Aleister Crowley describes himself as of the Aeon of Horus, one who rejects the old laws and wants to create a new world with new laws. He refers to most of the other characters, mostly the Christians, as being of the Aeon of Osiris, saying they are stuck in the old laws and unable to advance like him.
- Yukami Hisako's plans include turning herself into an AIM thought being to rise above the weaknesses of humanity, and using the Agitate Halation Project to create a world without heroes, saying heroes are uncertain elements that interfere with the advancement of society.
- Kill la Kill: Most of the main cast reject the norms of society to pursue their own ambition, each in their own original way. Even when they are following others, they are, in doing so, following themselves. Matoi Ryuuko will stand up to absolutely anyone and lives by her own code. So does Kiryuuin Satsuki, who'll unabashedly do whatever it takes to achieve her ambition, and look awesome while doing it. Kiryuuin Ragyo makes long speeches about embracing sin being the defining trait of humanity. Gamagoori Ira embraces conventional rules and codes with absolute passion even when no-one else will. The Mankanshoku do whatever the hell they want at any time without shame or inhibition, with special mention to Mankanshoku Mako, who lives in her own planet. While some of these characters can be manipulated or bribed or charmed into Last-Man-ity, there's always another character whose personal strength and charisma inspires them to be faithful to themselves.
- Miracleman: Miracleman He was actually developed by an ex-Nazi scientist, as it happens.
- Magneto from X-Men, as written by Chris Claremont. He actually describes himself as one in a supplemental story.
- Superman: Lex Luthor. Superman is loaded with Nietzschean subtext, albeit in a very anti-Nietzschean way. Indeed, Luthor may have been purposefully designed to be this, though probably sometime after his creation. The original Superman story was Reign of the Superman and concerned a Lawnmower Man style plot about a dimwit who is given superintelligence and psychic powers, and used them to try and Take Over the World. The writers were very critical of Nietzsche and the story was intended as a Take That to his writings, even though it ultimately transformed into a series about a benevolent alien superhero. Upon gaining his powers the dimwit lost his hair and strongly resembled the future Luthor in appearance.
- Fantastic Four: Doctor Doom. A genius who runs his own nation and believes in no authority but that of DOOM. His willpower is so absurdly strong that he was able to resist the Purple Man (whose power is to make you do whatever he wants) at point-blank range when the guy's abilities had been augmented to planetary scale. His biggest weakness is his crippling desire to prove his superiority over Reed Richards - rather like Luthor and Supes, Reed isn't interested in proving anything.
- V from V for Vendetta, who seeks to build an anarchist Utopia upon the ashes of the fascist Britain — replacing the morals of the fascists with his own moral code. His incarnation of The Movie might also count, but since his death was an intrinsic part of the plan in the movie this lessens it somewhat. Then again he did mold his co-star into somebody who could carry on his works.
- A rare heroic example is Batman. He has his own code and in most adaptations only one rule. Batman: Year One informs us that Gotham was once a place where law and order had given up (read: traditional morality has collapsed), and Batman has repeatedly recruited and mentored fledgling superheros (converting others to his ideals). By contrast, the Joker is a Nietzsche Wannabe. An agent of chaos even in more campy versions, he has no code, no purpose in society and no sense of hierarchy, so he'll kill just about anyone for no reason. Spending a month acquainted to him will drive you insane, if poor Harley is any indication. This is actually the key focus of The Dark Knight Saga.
- Ironically, you could flip it around, and say that the Joker is the Ubermensch: potent, incredibly charismatic, and terrifyingly dedicated to his goal of stripping humanity from its rotting pretense of civilization. Meanwhile, it's Batman who is caught up protecting the husk of a society he himself may not really even believe in. Accepting no outside value system can get complicated like that...
- The Batman character that most resembles an Ubermensch is Rhas al Ghul. He rejects the morality of society, but he replaces it with his own. While his goal of destroying all human life seems destructive, he ultimately has the goal of recreating the Earth as a new Garden of Eden.
- Both incarnations of Azrael count as this, though the men under their respective masks may differ.
- Huey Freeman from The Boondocks: Deconstructed. Initially, Huey is the picture perfect example or was one in progress. However, as the series progresses, he has his faith challenged that force him to accept that there are forces he can't understand and sometimes he can't make a difference. As the series progresses, Huey starts become more hopeless to eventually giving up on society and accepting that his Blue and Orange Morality is not enough.
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Film - Live Action
- John Kramer aka Jigsaw from the Saw films. Despite suffering from brain cancer and being dissatisfied with the rest of society, he overcame his suicidal despair and created his own radical moral code focusing on the savouring of life, seeing modern civilization as making everyone waste themselves in hedonism and setting himself the goal of rejuvenating humanity's survival instincts. And his method is not nice, either, he tests his subjects' personal willpower by subjecting them to ironic hells that require severe self-sacrifice to escape lest they die. While most people will see his method as murder despite his claims on the contrary, he is still able to influence the tortured survivors around him to his ideals, even beyond the grave, although Amanda became a Nietzsche Wannabe and Hoffman became a monster. It helps that his character is based on Gilles Deleuze's philosophy, which is a lot like Nietzsche's.
- Tyler Durden in Fight Club. His dialogue reads like an Ubermensch checklist, and with the Narrator playing the part of the Last Man. And didn't Nietzsche say something about the Ubermensch needing to be willed into existence? Because Tyler Durden is a second personality of the Narrator. Very, very interesting...
Tyler Durden: You have to consider the possibility that God does not like you. He never wanted you. In all probability, he hates you. This is not the worst thing that can happen. We don't need Him. Fuck damnation, man, fuck redemption! If we are God's unwanted children, so be it!
- Compulsion with Dean Stockwell and Orson Welles. Based on the true story of Leopold and Loeb, two gifted teens who were super into Nietzsche and thought of themselves as Supermen. They tried to execute the perfect murder and killed a fourteen year-old kid, but they sucked at it (Leopold left behind a very unique pair of glasses) and got sent to jail.
- If one follows the Nietzschean line of interpretation (which is backed up as a legitimate strand by Word of God) to understand the meaning of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Star Child is a visual metaphor for the birth of the Übermensch.
- The Dark Knight: Both Batman and the Joker follow ideals completely separate from the laws that govern the city of Gotham and the codes of the criminal underworld, with Batman following his own ideas of justice and order, and the Joker completely adhering to the destruction and anarchy of chaos. At one point, the Joker mentions the dynamic between them as an "unstoppable force meeting an immovable object".
- Anton Chigurh of No Country for Old Men. From what little we can tell about his moral code, a person needs to earn the right to live and he sees himself as the perfect person to carry out that test.
- The Bible: Alternative Character Interpretations of Satan also include the Ubermensch archetype. One such Satan is the Satan from Paradise Lost. After all, tis better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven. Probably.
- Raskolnikov from Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment is a Villain Protagonist who wants to be an Ubermensch, and spends most of the book wondering if he is one or not. It is perhaps worth noting that the novel was published before Also sprach Zarathustra and that Raskolnikov considers Napoleon to be the archetypical Ubermensch, showing that the idea at the very least predates Nietzsche.
- David Wingrove's Chung Kuo has Howard deVore, who wants to destroy the empire so that history can continue and the übermensch can appear. Either naturally or by design.
- Ayn Rand liked this trope.
- Atlas Shrugged features John Galt. The Last Man would be Robert Stadler, who allows his research and good name to be appropriated by Strawman Political interests.
- Howard Roark in The Fountainhead. His progress as an architect is contrasted with that of Peter Keating, who becomes an abject sell-out. Rand also deconstructs the most commonly held popular interpretation of Nietzsche's philosophy through the character of Gail Wynand (whether or not this most common interpretation is a correct one is another subject entirely).
- Leto Atreides II from Dune, fits this trope even more than his father, taking his father's Ubermensch qualities to their logical end by essentially becoming a god .
- Anasarimbor Kellhus from Second Apocalypse, as well as all the rest of the Danyain.
- Odd John, the superhuman mutant from the Olaf Stapledon novel of that name.
- Wolf Larsen from The Sea Wolf by Jack London.
- Hannibal Lecter of The Silence of the Lambs, arguably.
- In Heart of Darkness, Kurtz pretty well fits this.
- Valentine Michael Smith in Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, who was also a Messianic Archetype.
- In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40000 Horus Heresy novel False Gods, Magnus the Red is determined to study the warp and gain power, because
- Lord Asriel in His Dark Materials is this but it is interestingly averted when he throws himself into the abyss to allow for others to supplant God and create the Republic of Heaven
- In Discworld:
- Commander Samuel Vimes of Ankh-Morpork. He is intensely charismatic, albeit in a rough and straightforward way, has helped change the city into the relatively stable metropolis it is now, and strictly follows his own code of ethics. As one character says in Night Watch, "In a world where we all move in curves he proceeds in a straight line. And going straight in a world of curves makes things happen."
- The villains in Discworld books are frequently Last Men who do whatever they want because they know that the universe doesn't care about human notions of "good" and "evil" - and the heroes are frequently people who also knows that, but who have decided that the universe might not care, but they do.
- Surely Vetinari is a better Ubermensch than Vimes? Indeed, he (and Captain Carrot, who may or may not be another contender, though he is more of a catalyst for change) rescued Sam from his fate as a Last Man by encouraging and promoting him to take charge of all policing in the city-state, and creating his modern police force. Vetinari himself is the capable leader whose reign is characterised this and a number of other revolutionary ideas, many orchestrated by him (like an efficient post office).
- The Sith philosophy as elaborated in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, even though it actually represents the conventional morality for the Sith, basically calls for its adherents to become the Ubermensch - which is seen as involving giving in to the Dark Side and becoming The Unfettered. Its ideas seem to be based on the corruption of the Dark Side and thus be delusional, but it sometimes seems those who really achieve the goal of becoming the Ubermensch are so good at being evil that for them the illusion becomes reality, and they have no weakness. Darth Revan is a good example of a Sith Ubermensch - immensely charismatic, the best at everything, and seemingly able to keep from slipping so far into the Dark Side it would destroy him or even compromise his rationality while embracing its corruption fully. Even more so, there is the Sith'ari, a prophesized "perfect being" by Sith standards. In Darth Bane: The Path of Destruction, Bane gradually becomes the Sith'ari, first simply learning by harsh experience to think he can trust no-one but himself, then gradually absorbing more of the Sith philosophy and the Dark Side until he becomes completely unhindered by human emotions such as compassion and any sane moral code, though he is still entirely dedicated to upholding the purity of the Sith. He also fulfils the very Ubermensch-appropriate role of the Sith'ari in prophecy of making the Sith stronger by destroying them; his Last Man is the entire Sith order at that point, and especially its leader Lord Kaan, who have sought to eliminate conflict from the order by making it one of apparent equals; the very opposite of what Bane believes to be the nature of the Sith. Darth Bane hands Kaan an intangible Artifact of Doom that he knows will destroy all the Sith when they try to use it in their final stand against the Jedi, and before the dust that was once hundreds of Sith and Jedi has settled, goes out to look for an apprentice to apply his new Rule of Two with.
- Salvor Hardin from Isaac Asimov's Foundation claims that "one should never let morality prevent one from doing what is right".
- Judge Holden from Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian is a deconstruction of the concept, showing just how frightening an Ubermensch can be if acting as the antagonist of a story.
- In John Gardener's Grendel, a Perspective Flip of Beowulf, Beowulf himself is one of these. Unferth also tries to be one but can't quite manage it.
- Sherlock Holmes: Holmes could fit here according to Some mostly due to his Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right attitude, that has driven him to break the law in several occasions and seeing it as a viable way too solve a case. Watson used to object to this behaviour but later he encouraged it and demanded to go along.
- In Everworld, Senna Wales has some definite traits of this, notably including strong loner/antisocial tendencies and a reliance on her own code, rather than other's notions of morality. Oh, and she wants to overthrow all the powers of Everworld and turn it into her own personal universe to rule over as a Dimension Lord.
- Winston Smith in 1984 is the Last Man in Europe, due to his primary motivation being hedonism with freedom and enlightenment added in, yet still doesn't carry enough Will to Power to stick to his individuality and overcome Room 101. Heck, he even chooses to love Big Brother because it's the greater of two pleasures, which is against the Ubermensch concept. But the actual "Ubermensch" in the book is disputed. Maybe it's Big Brother (who ironically is the God of the book), maybe it's the Party as a whole with their Blue and Orange Morality and their obsession with the Will To Power, but Inner Party member O'Brien in particular, as an individual, is less of a Ubermensch and more of a Nietzsche Wannabe, since he believes that the only vision of the future is "a boot stamping on a human face forever".
- The vampire artist Mikhail Efimov in Oleg Divov 's Night Watcher has some pretensions about this, being a more literal version of Nietzsche Wannabe; he claims that "proper" vampires (the ones that drink blood and receive, among other things, dramatically enhanced senses - and, at least according to Mikhail, emotions and understanding), or the Nocturnals as he likes to call them, are so far above mere humans in every regard as to be justified in doing whatever they want to them, as human lives are so drab and pathetic compared to those of Nocturnals as to be "less than a parody". He also has some things to say about the worldview and way of life of perfect beings, which seems pretty close to this trope. Mikhail tries to position Igor Dolinsky, a vampire that has successfully resisted his bloodthirst, as the Last Man, but Dolinsky is quick to point out that the Nocturnals tend to degenerate into mindless animals within a few years if they even live that long; eventually Mikhail realizes that Igor is right and turns himself in for an experimental treatment, though he doesn't abandon his rhetoric to the end, leading to some humiliating moments at the hands of the local vampire hunters.
- C.S. Friedman's In Conquest Born provides an interesting case. It revolves around a pair of archrival generals (with a hefty does of Foe Yay) on opposite sides of a war. Proud Warrior Race Guy Zatar comes from a culture essentially created to forge its nobility into Ubermenchen. The other, Azea, is the wunderkind of an experimental psychic program. Throughout the series, Zatar is actively trying to be an Ubermensch, outsting his father, making very public displays of going beyond human limits, etc. while Azea is much more singlemindedly committed to her goal (destroying the Braxi for killing her family), in the process she almost incidentally realizes a stronger form of psychic practice and uses it to enslave her teachers, revolutionizes faster-than-light combat, infiltrates and manipulates two other societies, and awakens the hidden psychic talents of her enemy Zatar. At that point, it becomes apparent that she was the real Ubermench all along: Zatar was trying to be one in the tradition of his society, while Azea rejected all other values and as such has been able to cope with her abnormally strong abilities while Zatar is destroyed by them.
- In Malazan Book of the Fallen several characters display Ubermensch traits. The most obvious example is Karsa
- The Draka tend to fall somewhere between a nation of real Übermenschen and a nation of Nietzsche Wannabes, with a good bit of Oscar Wilde-inspired decadence thrown in. In the Drakaverse timeline, both Nietzsche and Wilde relocated to the colony of Drakia in its formative years. It is implied that some native Drakan philosophers took Nietzsche's ideas of the Übermensch and the Will to Power and ran with them, forging them into the basis for the shared Drakan culture built around absolute dominance of "lesser" peoples (i.e. everyone else).
- For a man whose inhuman charisma draws otherwise sane men to follow him to his own obsessive goal, there's Captain Ahab from Moby-Dick.
- Lestat de Lioncourt from The Vampire Chronicles is another good example.
- Reiner Grossvogel from Thomas Ligotti's novella The Shadow The Darkness is a relentless deconstruction of this trope. In as few words as possible, he does exactly what he must as an "efficient organism." There is no other priority.
- R. A. Salvatore's Drizzt Do'Urden rejects the ways of his Always Chaotic Evil dark elf people to follow what his own heart tells him is right. He holds onto his ideals in spite of extreme adversity and even though it takes years for him to find a place in the world even after leaving his homeland. He also disdains the idea of venerating a god until pointed to the interpretation that the gods represent mortals' own inner ideals. His ideals are, of course, on the extreme nice end of the scale, conventionally acceptable (though extremely idealistic) by the norms of a human society, but considering where he started out, they are definitely his own. Drizzt is, of course, The Fettered.
Live Action TV
- In Firefly, Mal, from what we've seen, seems to be one who lost his will to keep trying. He has his own set of morals, he's very charismatic (as we see with him dealing with the crew, especially when he was about to space Jayne). He had belief in a way to make the 'verse better, but the Alliance beat the side he was with.
- Omar Little from The Wire, a criminal who preys only on other criminals in strict adherence to his own personal "code". Also a Badass Longcoat who happens to be gay. He is also the only character in that series who makes it a point not to swear, and his use of language is idiosyncratic only to himself. There are very slight hints during Bird's trial that he may have been inspired to adopt that personality during middle school, although the prequels show him displaying the same traits at a very young age.
- Dexter from Dexter evolves into one of these by necessity. He can't obey normal laws of morality because of his "dark passenger," so he must follow his unique "Laws of Harry," which place him above the likes of common murderers, who live by no code at all. Furthermore, the "Laws of Harry" were handed down from his adoptive father, but he has learned that he needs to evolve them and make them his own. The interesting thing about Dexter is that he actually regresses as an overman. As the show progresses he becomes more attached to the people around him, and more concerned with normal social problems.
- Khan Noonien Singh from Star Trek: The Original Series. And of course The Movie Wrath of Khan. From The Other Wiki: Professor William J. Devlin and coauthor Shai Biderman examined Khan's character compared to the Ubermensch and found that Khan's blind pursuit of revenge is in fact against Nietzsche's ideals of transcendence and self-creation of a meaningful life. Instead, the authors offer Spock's self-sacrifice in The Wrath of Khan as a better example of the Ubermensch.
- Max Brennan, Temperance's father in Bones, is repeatedly described as a man who follows his own ethical code, one wherein killing people and hanging their burning corpses on makeshift crosses is a perfectly normal thing to do to protect his family.
- The Mayor from Season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Rather than wanting to destroy the world, he wants to attain god-like power to improve it, and has no qualms about killing thousands of people to get there. He also believes in keeping his promises and using family friendly language.
- Whedon also plays with this in the final episode of the Alpha arc in season 1 of Dollhouse
- MythBusters: A fun way to look at Adam Savage: I reject your reality, and substitute my own! Granted, it would be a far more family friendly variation, but it would be expected in a show where the main motivation is For Science!!
- Smallville may have referenced the idea with regards to Hawkman and Clark, but the true example is Lionel Luthor, the Trope Codifier for Magnificent Bastard. His Alternate Universe counterpart, Earth-2 Lionel may be an even better example, having more or less taken over the world and imposed his view of how things should be.
- Subverted in Marilyn Manson's Concept Album Antichrist Superstar. The story is told from the perspective of Wormboy, part of the servant caste of a world ruled over by morally and physically superior beings - the Ubermenschian The Beautiful Elite. He sets out to overthrow their stifling plutocracy and exercise his will to power (in the classic Nietzschean sense), but becomes increasingly disenfranchised with the mindless, adoring masses, who merely transfer their adoration from them to him, instead. Passing the Despair Event Horizon, he sheds his outdated morality but does not replace it with a new moral framework, evolving into the titular Antichrist Superstar - also known as The Disintegrator. Concluding that people do not deserve to be liberated, he spirals into nihilism, using his newfound power to usher in the apocalypse. The album finishes with a serious Downer Ending, the desolate anthem "Man That You Fear".
Pray now, baby, pray your life was just a dreamThe world is in my handsThere's no one left to hear you screamThere's no one left for you
- According to That Other Wiki, Soren Kierkegaard's Knight of Faith is this trope predating this trope. SK focused on faith based pyschology while FN focused on power based psychology. SK embraced religion and FN rejected religion. SN used Abraham as an ideal and FN used Zarathustra as an ideal. SN say joy as faith and FN saw joy as acceptance of life. SN saw individuals as enemies of the crowd and FN saw individuals as enemies of the herd. Nevertheless, the concept is pretty much simple: both reject the crowd's morality, and live by their own.
- Warhammer 40,000': The Emperor of Mankind...and he's the Messianic Archetype of the setting.
- In Magic: The Gathering, Phyrexian mythology depicts Yawgmoth as an Ubermensch and Rebbec as the Last Man.
- Unknown Armies has a lot of this character type, to the point where it's practically expected of Cosmic level PCs to be this trope. Also deconstructed and reconstructed, as the various difficulties and implications that come with being driven to tear down established values and replace with your own are frequently pointed out. Amongst the canon NPCs, Alex Abel and Randy Douglas are the two most obvious examples ofthis trope. To a certain extent, every adept and most ambitious avatars have varying of this trope as well.
- Exalted dances around this archetype in several of its heroes. The most obvious example are the Solar Exalted, who begin to play the trope straighter and straighter as they reach into their personal toolkit of transhumanism. Conversely, the Green Sun Princes turn their backs on this trope as they advance; their natures lead them to abandon humanity rather than perfect it.
- Elphaba in Wicked. She creates her own morality, and ignores the views of All of the Other Reindeer, even if they call her wicked. Her insistence on treating sentient animals as equals certainly seems obvious in our world, but still foreign to everyone in Oz. She's also presented as The Grotesque, but still manages to attract Bile Fascination wherever she goes. Fiyero and Galinda can both qualify as The Last Man; interestingly enough, she redeems them both to her viewpoint.
- Gabe from Next To Normal has an inhuman charisma, makes his own rules and pretty much gets what he wants despite, or because of being, Dead All Along. Natalie is pretty much The Last Man no matter what she does. Superboy And The Invisible Girl, indeed.
- Rope: Also based on Leopold and Loeb. Generally, anything based off of Leopold and Loeb will have this angle play into it. Even Murder By Numbers does... a bit.
- Yggdrasil from Tales of Symphonia.
- Metal Gear:
- Big Boss didn't start out this way, according to the prequel, but he became one in the first and second games to the point of wanting to start an eternal world war.
- To a certain extent this would make Zero the Last Man. Where as betrayal and disappointment made Big Boss's ideals stronger and more radical Zero abandoned his own, fell into despair and gave his legacy to a set of emotionless AIs out of the belief that humanity would be happier under their solid, predicable guidance.
- His predecessor, The Boss, is another example. Her will and the effect she had on those around her pretty much kicked the entire series off.
- Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne:
- Hikawa wants to destroy the world and then rebuild it into a silent paradise of order and harmony. He succeeds at the first part within the first few scenes of the game, so it's up to you to stop the second part... or not. Your choice.
- For that matter, all three Reasons are representative of the trope: the Reason of Shijima (presented by Hikawa) is just the most nihilistic one (naturally; the organization sponsoring it is the Assembly of Nihilo. But the Reason of Musubi and the Reason of Yosuga also present their own revolutionary ideologies for the Demifiend (the player character) to support.
- On the other hand, Yuko Takao might very well be the Last Man to all three Reasons; not only did she fail to come up with her own Reason due to lack of personal conviction, she congratulates the Demifiend in the True Neutral ending, where the world is restored to the same state prior to the Conception (bringing a quite literal meaning to Status Quo Is God.)
- Kreia in Knights of the Old Republic II is Nietzsche's counterpart in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Her ultimate goal is the death of the Force (or at least its influence over the lives of sentients), and she admires the Jedi Exile because of the Exile's status as an Ubermensch who forsook the Force to escape death. Her Last Man is both the Jedi order and the Sith because of their dependence on the force and their dogmatic traditions. It is also probable, considering Kreia's status as an Unreliable Narrator, that Kreia is an example of The Fettered Ubermensch, who uses her massive, galaxy-spanning Xanatos Roulette not to end the force or to destroy the Jedi order, but to impose her philosophy upon the Exile, restarting the Jedi Order through her in order to correct what it is suggested throughout the game she believes are flaws in the Jedi teachings which led to Revan's Fall and the Jedi Civil War. It is ultimately difficult to say, given, first, that she is a Magnificent Bastard whose adroit manipulations would put even David Xanatos to shame, and second, that thanks to Executive Meddling, the game's intended ending wasn't allowed to play out.
- The Jackal in Far Cry 2.
- Alice in Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World is one of these, sort of. Before your last fight with her, she casually mentions that she's an Ubermensch. It never gets mentioned again or even built up to before this point, however.
- Lucian in Fable II, who seeks to rebuild the Tattered Spire in order to eradicate the world of Albion, to erase all traces of human corruption and rebuild it anew. According to Theresa, this has happened once before and was the reason of the destruction of the old world.
- Condemned's SKX starts out like this, his whole Serial-Killer Killer spree inspired by his own uniquely twisted morality. That is until this is completely subverted in Condemned 2, which introduces "The Oro" a whole Ancient Conspiracy of Ubermensch, who exist with their basic goal being to "influence human evolution". The Sorting Algorithm of Evil comes into play, and SKX abandons his quest to "become justice" having gained new purpose in worshiping the Oro who have "such power" as to leave him in total religious awe. At the end he becomes a twisted version of the Ascended Fanboy, being inducted into the Oro himself.
- Dimentio from Super Paper Mario wants to destroy the universe to create a new, perfect one. Count Bleck, on the other hand, is the Last Man.
- Takaya of Persona 3, like Dimentio above. In that case the Main Character would count as his Last Man. Or, in the case of Persona 3 Portable, Last Woman.
- Wilhelm from Xenosaga. Considering his name is from Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche and Nietzsche's book names are subtitles for each episode, this is not surprising.
- Alexei from Tales of Vesperia can count, as witnessed before his Villainous Breakdown, he mentions that his goal was to free humanity from the grip of the Entelexia and build the world anew, though he crossed the Moral Event Horizon one too many times in the pursuit of his goal, crossing the line into complete monstrosity.
- Emperor Mateus Palamecia in Final Fantasy II. He is utterly convinced of his right to rule over all around him, and, being a Sorcerous Overlord, has the power to back it up. The heroes killing him merely results in Like a Badass out of Hell, and the remake shows that the "light" half of his soul tried to overthrow the game's version of Heaven. In the crossover game Dissidia: Final Fantasy, he plans to overthrow the Gods and is insulted when Garland compares him to Kefka, who he dismisses as a "gibbering nihilist".
- Final Fantasy XII:
- Vayne. "The tyranny of the gods has ended, and man shall keep his own order" - and if you happen not to like his order, he'll go Kung-Fu Wizard on you. On the other hand, he did have a god (Venat) whispering in his ear the entire time
- Which means that Venat was the true Ubermensch all along, rejecting the views of her fellow Occuria that the people of Ivalice were weak and needed the guidance of higher powers. And in the end, Venat won.
- The Fal'Cie from Final Fantasy XIII. They believe the current state of the world is an absolute mess and are perfectly willing to sacrifice all of humanity and themselves to bring back their creator in the hopes that it can fix everything. The player characters are The Last Men trying to preserve the status quo by protecting Cocoon. In the end, neither of them get everything they want. The Fal'Cie do succeed in destroying Cocoon and themselves, but Vanille and Fang's Heroic Sacrifice saves the human population and prevents the Maker's return.
- Zurvan from Prince of Persia The Two Thrones. Before reaching his goal of transforming into a "god" with the sands' power, he first restorts to treason to take over India by killing the Maharaja and using his army to take over a Persia, using the power of the sands to transform everything in their path. Then in the final battle, He starts using the "such is the price paid for progress" kind of lines when questioned by the Prince about the murder of the King, the guard and the hundreds of InnocentBystanders.
- Link, specifically in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, is one of these. Termina is a world consumed by Wangst and nihlism because the moon is crashing into Termina in three days. His status as Heroic Mime drives him to always act, never succumbing to fear or sadness. Link rejects the hopelessness of the herd, in order to save them through sheer force of will. The nature of his task and his ability to control time put him Above Good and Evil; ergo rendering all his actions just, even at their most selfish, because his selfishness benefits all. After curing everyone of their hopelessness through his actions, he defeats a demonic mask to change the world's fate and allow people to make their own future.
- N of Pokémon Black and White wants to change the very nature of the Pokémon world's society, and possesses a superhuman will and drive. The main character is the Last Man/Woman and defeats N in their final battle, where N rejects his ideology in favor of the protagonist...only for N's father Ghetsis to reveal that he deliberately manufactured N to be an Ubermensch since birth and manipulated him the whole time. This may indicate that Ghetsis is the true Ubermensch.
- Gothic has the "necromancer" Xardas, a former priest of Innos, who spends most of the three games in a plan to kill the thee gods of the realm (Innos, Adanos and Beliar), so people may be free of their influence. He succeeds by the end of the third game. Interestingly, he and the protagonist are on the same side.
- Sonic the Hedgehog is another heroic example. A number of his Image Songs and Sonic and the Black Knight make references to how he doesn't care about what's right or wrong and will always fight for what he believes in. His moral code consists of being "free like the wind" and doing what feels good, as he stops his arch-enemy Dr. Eggman's plans both for the fun it brings and because he dislikes the idea of others being oppressed.
- In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Galatea identifies herself as a post-human Ubermensch. As of this writing, though, it looks like she may be growing disenchanted with the idea and gaining some sense of humility.
- The Order of the Stick:
- General Tarquin. He rejects conventional morality and wants to make the Western Continent free of power struggles and endless warfare.
- Redcloak also rejects conventional morality and seeks to lead the goblins into becoming a sovereign race with equal rights as other humanoid species.
- The Global Guardians PBEM Universe had two notable examples:
- Lord Doom wants to make the world a Utopia without war and hatred, and he doesn't care how many people die in the process of making his vision of a peaceful earth a reality.
- Abyss wants to rid the world of pollution and return nature to a clean, balanced, pristine state... and if this means wiping humanity off the face of the planet, so be it.
- In Ultra Fast Pony, Celestia is immortal. As she herself says, the great thing about being immortal is that you can do whatever you want, and no one can stop you. Though she rejects society's rules, it's unclear what her guiding philosophy is—although tea seems to be important.
- Phaeton in Exosquad, before he loses the last bits of his dignity later in the second season.
- David Xanatos is most certainly this. He owns a corporation that spans several nations. This naturally makes him rich and powerful. He possesses huge amounts of charisma, which affects the characters and even the viewers watching the show. He wrote the book on how a Xanatos Gambit is done. He does not hold grudges or fall into the "sucker's game" of revenge, which already causes him to be so much better than Lex Luthor ever was. He also has a butler, who is Puck, a member of the Fair Folk, and quite the trickster. If he could have someone like that serving him, how could he not be an Ubermensch? The Manhattan Clan seem to be the Last Man. At least, Goliath realizes that Xanatos has it all and Goliath has next to nothing. Of course, while Xanatos is too smart to hold grudges, it takes Fox for him to develop any motivation besides his own profit or amusement, whereas the gargoyles risk their lives to protect others with no thought of personal gain. The fact that Xanatos's accomplishments won't stop him from growing old and dying like everyone else seriously scares him, and his attempts to gain immortality only get him a lecture from the older, wiser Hudson.
- Fox could be an Ubermensch as well. She proves to be a match for Xanatos in terms of coming up with schemes - as well as beating him in chess games. In one episode, she is reading a book on philosophy (Sartre, for those of you without instant-pause reflexes) and she is asked why she reads that stuff. Her response is this: "Because Nietzsche's too butch, and Kafka reminds me of your little friends over there!" (The person she's talking to is shooting cockroaches with a rubber-band slingshot) She clearly knows some things about philosophy.