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Video Game: Tropico

"It is yet another beautiful day in Tropico! The sun is shining bright and the water is warm! If you aren't involved in any back-breaking labor activities, then grab a swimsuit and come to the beach!"
Juanito, Tropico 3

A series of Real-Time Strategy Simulation Games created and originally developed by Pop Top Software and now by Haemimont Games and Calypso Media. Like a cross between SimCity and The Settlers, Tropico puts the player in the role of the newly installed president of a Caribbean island nation during the Cold War, with 1950 as a starting date.

The player is responsible for developing the island through tourism and exports, satisfying the citizens' needs, staying in power, and embezzling funds from the treasury. At the end of a typical game, the final score is determined based on the overall happiness of the islanders, the size of the island's treasury, and the size of the President's Swiss Bank Account.

As well as meters for the typical basic needs such as food, housing and entertainment, each citizen has an affiliation with a political faction, which links their respect for the President to the happiness of the faction's leader and how well the faction's goals are being met. The factions are as follows:

  • Communists: Mostly the lower working class citizens of the country. Like to see full employment, everyone with a roof over his or her head, universal healthcare, and low income disparity. Preferred by uneducated, low paid workers, making it one of the larger factions on the island, and important to keep happy unless you want a peasant's revolt or the USSR to invade your island. Annoying the Communists also reduces the amount of aid the player can expect to receive from the Soviet Union.
  • Capitalists: The middle and upper class citizens of Tropico. Like to see luxurious housing, upscale entertainment, and a growing, advance economy. Curiously don't mind that the economy is entirely state-controlled note  Preferred by the more educated, wealthier workers who can be difficult to replace if they get upset - the Capitalist faction also influences American opinion, valuable for keeping wealthy US tourists flocking to your beaches, and US Marines away.
  • Religious: The conservative Catholic citizens on your island. Like churches and cathedrals, a 'virtuous' and 'pious' society (no night clubs, pubs, casinos, or cabarets), and for everyone to have a high religion satisfaction rating. Similar in size to the Communists, but much harder to pacify. Oppose more 'progressive' actions such as allowing gay marriage in your country and supports more conservative edicts such as prohibition and contraception ban. As a result, they are often at odds with the Capitalists and the Intellectuals. Strong religious support is necessary for special actions like a Papal Visit or the Book BBQ.
  • Intellectuals: The highly educated elites of Tropico. Like lots of educational buildings, high liberty ratings, and a progressive society. Generally a small faction, but like the Capitalists, many of their members are highly skilled and educated workers who can be difficult to replace if you lose their support.
  • Militarists: The soldiers and police of the island. Like the country to have a strong military, good treatment and wages for the soldiers, and an 'orderly' society (the average safety happiness higher than the liberty rating) . This puts them at odds with the Intellectual who prefer more freedom and less military presence. Preferred by the island's soldiers and policemen, whom a president would really prefer to have on his side in the event of a rebellion. High militarist support is needed for special actions like declaring Martial Law or conscription. Potentially the most dangerous faction due to their ability to start a coup if their respect for you drops too low.
  • Environmentalist: Mostly members from the Intellectuals faction. Concerned about the natural beauty and pollution scores for the island, and oppose the presence of polluting industries such as logging or oil. An extremely small faction, but given the way environmental damage works, very hard to win back once they have been upset.

Tropico, released in 2001, recieved an expansion in 2002, Paradise Island, centered on new tourist elements that was later bundled together with the game as Tropico: Mucho Macho Edition.

Tropico was followed by a sequel released in 2003 called Tropico: Pirate Cove, which took the same basic gameplay and transported it to a pirate setting with an economy based on raiding and captive worker labor. Instead of balancing between the US and the USSR, the player must now deal with Britain, France, and Spain. You can foster wars between them, receive patronages, and accept letters of marque.

A third title in the series, but this time by a different developer, was released in the Autumn of '09, with the setting returning to the Cold War. Tropico 3, developed by Haemimont Games, retains the original's factions, and adds a seventh.
  • Nationalists: A faction consisting of citizens born in Tropico only. Value Tropico's independence from the major powers and from international aid organizations. Anti-immigration, and pro-local industry.

Absolute Power, the expansion for Tropico 3, added yet another faction.

A fourth installment in the series, again by Haemimont Games, was released in August 2011. The superpowers are now USA, USSR, EU, China and the Middle East. There are more disasters, such as tornadoes and oil spills. The PC version offers Twitter and Facebook connectivity. Modern Times, Tropico 4's expansion, adds a whole host of new buildings and game modifying real world events that become available or occur at certain points on the timeline.

Tropico 5 was released in May 2014 and utilizes a new "era" feature, which allows the player to start his dictatorship in the 19th century, at the height of colonialism, and maintain it well into the middle of the 21st century, facing the challenges of historic events such as the Great Depression and both World Wars in between. With the lengthened timeline comes the dynasty feature, in which the player no longer just plays as el prez, but also his ancestors in earlier times, and can interact with his relatives. There are also tech trees to research as well as a more elaborate trade system. Radically different from previous installments, the map starts out partially fogged, adding elements of exploration to the game. A co-op/competitive multiplayer mode is also present.

Tropico 5 also added new factions, while scrapping the Loyalists and the Intellectuals (although the Environmentalists and the Globalists both inherited aspects of the Intellectual faction, and Nationalists have a few aspects of the Loyalist faction). The faction mechanic has been further changed by new factions emerging as the player advances in age, while in the case of transitioning from the Colonial to the World War era, removing the two colonial era factions. All factions are also grouped into a binary group (Values for Militarists and Religious, Economy for Communists and Capitalists, Environment for Environmentalists and Industrialists and State Power for Nationalists and Globalists). All citizens are either heavily one or the other, mildly one or the other or neutral for each of the groups, and new groups emerge with each age (Values and Economy in the World Wars, Environment in the Cold War and State Power in Modern times).
  • Royalists: Most of the population starts out as this in the Colonial era, and have a perpetually low opinion of the Governor (which doesn't affect much, as elections, uprisings and rebellions do not occur during the Colonial Era). Their opinion can only be improved ever-so-slightly by certain events. The Royalist population decreases as the player performs assignments from the Revolutionaries.
  • Revolutionaries: Only a handful of citizens start out as Revolutionaries in the Colonial era, but the population increases with completing assignments from the Revolutionaries. They have a perpetually high opinion of El Presidente, which can be increased further by constructing certain buildings (such as the colonial fort and the library).
  • Industrialists: Consists of the population involved in industry and non-tourist advanced economy, and emerge in the Cold War era alongside the Environmentalists. They favor, as the name implies, industrialization while also having some similarities with the Capitalists (such as favoring Free Market in the Constitution), as well as moderate authoritarianism and decent education.
  • Globalists: Consists primarily of well-educated citizens and immigrants as well as those working in the tourism sector and within diplomacy. They emerge in the Modern Era alongside Nationalists, and favor open immigration policies, good foreign relations, democracy and liberty.

Not to be confused with Trope Co..


Tropes Featured:

  • The Alcoholic:
    • Reverend Esteban, speaker for the Religious faction in Tropico 4, is a whisky priest. He considers rum to be God's gift to Tropico, and would prefer to conduct his sermons in a bar rather than a church. Seems to be at odds with most of his followers, but reluctantly goes along with their wishes anyway. For example, he might approach El Presidente claiming that God told him to ask for a prohibition on alcohol, then if it is implemented call the radio station the next day as an anonymous "concerned citizen" to protest the very policy he asked for.
    • This is also one of the traits your Avatar can get, which brings a number of negative effects, but boosts relations with the USSR.
  • Alliance Meter: The standing of El Presidente among the island's factions is shown in the ledger, in percentage figures — text in the first game — and with the detailed issues that influence their current opinion.
  • All Just a Dream: Implied when you finish the DLC mission "Plantador".
  • Alternate History: The USSR does not dissolve in 1990, the EU and Red And Rich China are foreign powers from day one. Your soldiers carry M16 rifles over ten years before they were invented. This was averted in Tropico 5, where each era features historically correct superpowers (though World War 1's Central Powers are merged into World War 2's Axis).
    • A major element of the Changing the World campaign in 5 is figuring out how to make one reality.
  • Anachronism Stew: The fifth game's Colonial Era includes elements of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, though in gameplay terms, it's the shortest. The World Wars Era amalgamates the pre-war years, both wars, The Roaring Twenties and The Great Depression into a single conflict.
  • Announcer Chatter: DJ Juanito of Tropico News Today, replaced in Tropico 4 by your personal adviser and spokesman of the Loyalist faction Penultimo and Environmentalist representative Sunny Flowers.
    • Replaced in Tropico 5 by Lulu, an excessively peppy bar owner.
  • Apathetic Citizens: Thoroughly averted.
    • Your citizens will start a demonstration if their respect for you is low and their life conditions are poor, attracting the attention of nearby walkers. If things don't improve they may emigrate to greener pastures, or become rebels and eventually attack your buildings or your palace. Unhappy faction leaders may trigger disaster events, including Nationalist Riots and Military Coups, and having too many very unhappy citizens might trigger a general uprising. If any of these events destroy your palace, Game Over Man.
    • Any citizens who witness an execution will lose respect for you considerably, and the family of the victim will resent you forever.
    • On the other hand, apparently people are so disillusioned that natural disasters, gunfights between rebels and soldiers, and buildings burning down right next to them do not alter their routines. Taken to extremes when cars won't even alter their routes, even if there's a tornado in front of them (Then again, that stuff rarely kills them).
    • You yourself can get away with an awful lot of cruelty, as long as you don't screw over the wrong people too many times. See Bread and Circuses further down the page.
  • Appeal to Force: In the Tropico 3: Absolute Power expansion pack, your island will have the ability to develop your own nuclear program. Afterwards, as long as it remains fully staffed and operational, no matter how much you go out of your way to antagonize the super powers, you will never get invaded.
  • Arab Oil Sheikh: Sheikh Salim, the representative of the Middle East faction in 4. Like everything else in the game, this trope is Played for Laughs: he has several wives and missions from him will reward you a camel (his second-best in fact!) in addition to cash.
  • Argentina Is Naziland: A possibility in Tropico 5 when transitioning from the World War era to the Cold War era. El Presidente can harbor "Axis" expatriates and gain the wrath of the international community in the next era or deny them asylum and face a violent invasion from the Central Powers.
  • Arms Dealer: From Tropico 3: Absolute Power onwards, you can now build weapons for export using iron you've mined. Weapons are in fact one of the most profitable exports in the game (only jewelry sells for more) but unless you only sell handguns (lower production rate), this hurts your reputation with the US and the USSR. Not because you are a threat to peace, but a threat to the arms industry by producing cheap weapons.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • Tropicans are, on the one hand, fairly smart about doing their jobs, handling most of their work automatically. On the other hand, they can be very dumb about doing those same jobs. When every builder on your island is drunk, every teamster is visiting a cabaret, and every doctor is in church waiting on a priest to show up (and the priests are visiting the restaurants!), sometimes work can grind to a halt. Tropicans sometimes forget to visit the farms or markets to get food, teamsters let highly valuable processed goods languish in the factories, factory workers can leave buildings unmanned for months at a time, dock workers can be halfway across the island when the cargo ship arrives and not get to the dock in time to load it, and construction workers will let unfinished buildings sit there for years.
    • They also tend to be less than efficient at choosing a building to satisfy a Need at, even in 4; tourists will frequently ignore entertainment buildings set up in your nice, pristine, carefully-crafted touristy area, cross to the other side of the island on FOOT, to go to an exact duplicate of the building in your considerably more crappy area for Tropicans, and then complain about all the shacks and tenements and industrial buildings being ugly.
    • Lampshaded in one of the Tropico 4 radio announcements.
  • Artistic License - Religion: Prohibition being supported by religious Catholics - who only have history opposing it. Likely done for game-play reasons.
    • In Tropico 5 You can export rum... to Qurac. Although given the humorous bent of the game, this may be intentional.
    • Priests and Bishops can get married. And can marry other men, with the Gay Marriage edict. This is done for game-play reasons. First, housing slots are assigned to families, not individuals, making housing single people a drain on space and maintenance costs. Secondly, Special Actions like arresting, or bribing citizens, affects their entire family's views, so this would encourage you to execute dissenting clergy, and discourage you from bribing them.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: A mutant papaya may escape from a new horticulture station and run amok in the city. Penultimo states that it is wanted for three attempted homicides, conspiracy against the state, and an alleged case of sexual harassment.
  • Ascended Extra: Penultimo, your guide through the tutorial in Tropico 3, becomes one of your recurring advisers and the new host of TNT in 4. In 5 he becomes the full-blown Number Two to El Presidente.
  • A-Team Firing:
  • Ass in Ambassador:
    • Ambassador Crane, the American diplomat, in 4 is a fairly unpleasant, imperialistic man, who constantly makes not-too-subtle threats of bringing the full might of the US Military down upon you, if you don't try to please him (notably, he also often addresses you as "President", instead of "Presidente", the only character in the game to do so). He reveals some Mommy Issues when he fondly compares the nasty llamas to his mother.
      • It's also implied that when the Custom offices opened that he openly insulted his wife, calling her a useless bag (and ended up requiring paying duties on her due to literal-minded bureaucrats)
    • Yu Li, the Chinese ambassador, weirdly inverts this. He is always overly polite. If your relationship with China is poor, he says over the radio that "the trade embargo is not a sign of hostility between us. Rather, take it as a promise that from now on, relations can only improve!"
  • Authority Equals Asskicking:
    • One of the possible traits for your avatar is "War Hero", which makes him/her much stronger in combat. Even without it though, your avatar can still fight better than the average soldier, even though the soldiers have M-16 assault rifles and you have a pistol.
    • Inverted when you pick "Coward" as a flaw, which makes your avatar fight worse, your soldiers twice as likely to flee in combat and lowers your respect among the militaristic faction. Before Tropico 4, it's mandatory to choose two flaws, and "Coward" is one of the less harmful ones as long as your rule doesn't raise armed opposition. This trait and "War Hero" are mutually exclusive.
  • Badass Bookworm:
    • If you loss too much respect from the Intellectuals or outright outlaw their entire faction, they will take up arms and revolt against you just like anyone else would.
    • You can be one yourself by having 'War hero' as your background and 'Scholarly' as one of your traits, or 'Professor' as your background and 'Athletic' as one of your traits.
  • Balcony Speech: In 3 and 4, El Presidente can deliver one from the palace. It raises the respect of the people gathered to hear it.
  • Banana Republic: A common state for early-game islands - Tropico 3 mentions the trope by name, and some islands may literally rely on banana exports. The Capitalists appreciate an economically advanced Tropico, with strong industrial and tourist sectors, and Tropico 4's expansion allows late-game diversification into a finance- and service-based economy.
  • Bag of Spilling:
    • Sometimes played straight with the Swiss bank account or the Pirate stash and sometimes averted.
    • Unlike in previous games where recurring islands start with a pre-defined, generic city layout in the campaign, in 5 any island you've already built will remain exactly as you left it if you wind up coming back later (in a linear timeline).
  • Betty and Veronica: Betty Boom and Veronica Veneno - one wishes to see you dead, the other is a corporate yes woman.
    • More directly invoked in 5 with Evita Vasquez and Veronica Veneno, the Communist and Capitalist representatives. They even have similar hairstyles to the originals.
  • Black Comedy: The entire game. You see, it's a Cold War. You're the dictator of a Banana Republic, and you're ultimately a pawn in a much larger game between the US and the USSR. Your people aren't exactly cooperative, nor are they very bright. You can't stay in power (for long) lest you Kick the Dog on a regular basis. This culminates when you sell your island to the US to test nuclear bombs: your Announcer Chatter will say that "according to the scientists, the big shiny mushroom is harmless, and it's good for the skin tone", your history involves the worst in people (Being the only true graduate of every Harvard Grad in your class - where you have to be a pathetic banana republic dictator, your buddies go on to be POTUS). Can cross into outright Gallows Humor when the US or the USSR invade your island.
  • Black Market:
    • The second game has one as the import / export system since the European powers won't trade with outlaw pirates... until you ally with one of them.
    • In Tropico 5, you can trade with both Smugglers and Pirates in the Colonial era for a better profit than trading with the Crown.
  • Blessed with Suck:
    • Rising to power through military coup in Tropico 3. The description states that you failed to take power so many times that the dictator of the island takes pity on you and gives you the poorest island in the entire region to rule.
    • Some of the positive qualities for your character also contain negative effects. For example, being 'athletic' or having 'empathy' makes intellectuals respect you less, being a 'green thumb' lowers the factory production rates, and being 'sociable' leads to more crime.
    • Inverted in that some of the negative qualities have some positive bonuses, such as being a drunk gets you a more positive relation with the U.S.S.R.
  • Big Bad: Generalissimo Santana in the main campaign and The Conclave then Dr. Steinschneider in the Modern Times Campaign.
    • In Tropico 5's Changing the World we have Leon Kane and Adrianna Diaz.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • One of the ''Absolute Power' missions... provided you know or can translate binary.
    • Since Spanish is omnipresent in the game, knowing a bit of it doesn't hurt e.g some of the rebel quotes are funny "¡Toma un bocadillo de granada! (Have this grenade sandwich!)".
    • One of the islands is named Caralibro
  • Bling of War: Your avatar can be dressed up to look like this.
  • Book Burning: One of the edicts you can carry out in order to curry favor with the religious crowd and cow the intellectuals into submission to your rule. It has a nasty effect on education, though.
  • Bottomless Magazines: During battle your soldiers, generals, cops, and El Presidente never have to reload their weapons. Same for the rebels.
  • Brains and Bondage: Implied with Miss Pineapple:
    Miss Pineapple: "Above all, I am a free and active citizen with a strong sense of liberty and other stuff... some of it quite kinky!"
  • Brainwashed:
    • The sanitarium in Modern Times can brainwash Tropicans to respect El Presidente more.
    • The Player Character can be this as well in 4, if they choose their Rise To Power to be "Installed by the CIA"
      The guys from Langley brainwashed you so hard, that the first time you arrived at Tropico, you accidentally forgot who was calling the shots. The "Farm" didn’t take any chances and brainwashed you a second time. Now you’re a sterling example of an agent in service of Uncle Sam: obedient, unquestioning and of highly dubious ethics.
  • Bread and Circuses: The public will continually re-elect you if their needs are met, they're more than willing to overlook your bouts of corruption or treading over their rights, so long as they don't outweigh your "good deeds".
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: The description for the normal work mode of the Aqua Park in 4 says
    Water splashing, kids screaming, and Cthulu lurking somewhere in the depths.
  • Brick Joke: Quite a few, especially with random events. One particular instance is when you're finally given a UN Grant to help you rescue trapped miners, which was delayed due to paperwork. It comes 5 missions later, which is nearly a century of in-game time!
  • Broken Record: In the original game, the speakers of El Presidente's childhood museum loudly repeat "Viva El Presidente, Viva El Presidente" over and over again. This is also a workmode for the museum in Tropico 3 & 4, however no sound ever plays.
  • But Thou Must: In the Modern Times campaign on the "War on Terror" mission, you're presented with the following actions when terrorists bomb your ministry: Declare War on Terror, Declare War on Terror, or Declare War on Terror. In the same mission, Penultimo gives you a list of people who are potentially the terrorist, all of the three suspects being the same person.
  • Butt Monkey: Throughout the campaign missions, your adviser Penultimo will usually end up arrested or put into jail or fired and exiled or kidnapped and replaced with clones. Lampshaded in the "Comedy" work mode for the Theater. "Everybody loves good comedy - Especially when it is directed at Penultimo."
  • The Caligula: In Tropico 5's Colonial era, His Majesty demands things from the colonies that range from slightly unhinged (eg. build a lumber camp to provide the King with logs so he can build a giant bonfire) to completely crazy (raise money so His Majesty can build an underwater palace). Lord Oaksworth, his emissary to you, relates these plans in an entirely straight-faced manner.
  • Capcom Sequel Stagnation:
    • Tropico 3 is a loose remake of the first game and its expansion pack - the bulk of the mechanics, buildings, edicts, etc., built into a new engine and with new campaigns and game modes. Many of the NPC citizens are carried over verbatim except in 3D.
    • Tropico 4 is pretty much Tropico 3, but with slightly better graphics, larger maps, redesigned AI, a handful of new buildings and edicts, and a redesigned campaign. Everything else is exactly the same, especially the game models. And the Script! Especially the script...
    • Modern Times, the expansion to Tropico 4, finally averts this as it introduces thirty new buildings and a few extra gameplay features, some of which radically change how the game is played.
    • The developers promised that when they make Tropico 5, it's not going to be as "iterative" as the past few have been. Considering just how many things "Modern Times" changed, this is probably not an empty promise, either.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The E.V.I.L. Corporation in the campaign of Tropico 3's Absolute Power expansion pack.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Upon researching the "White Flag" in Tropico 5, Penultimo describes breaking into the French Museum of Military Accomplishments and finding only a white flag.
  • Christianity is Catholic: Justified, as in Real Life, a place like Tropico would be mostly Catholic. Averted in 2, in which the English prisoners are Protestant.
  • Chummy Commies: Comrade Vasquez, the Communist representative, is one of the most reasonable people in your inner circle. He keeps El Presidente on his toes regarding food, shelter, and healthcare for the people. He does slip occasionally and request things like demolishing all banks or arresting the Capitalist leader.
    • This tradition is kept up by his close relative Evita in 5, who is probably the most socially responsible advisor, representing the Revolutionary, Communist, and Environmentalist factions.
  • The Cold War: The game's primary setting. Even past 1991, the USSR doesn't go anywhere. An important part of the game is balancing Tropico's relations with the US and the USSR to gain development aid and trade benefits. One of the ways to lose the game is to annoy one of the superpowers enough to provoke an invasion.
  • Command And Conquer Economy: Played straight for all buildings beyond the very crudest housing until Tropico 3's expansion pack, which introduces a 'Privatization' edict, which sells all non-essential industries to private interests, to the Capitalists' delight and the Communists' despair. After the initial cash influx, this was typically a bad deal - private buildings use up resources, but generate only a static rent instead of export profits. Tropico 4 replaced the edict with a Stock Exchange, which allows a range of private businesses to be built alongside national ones, sponsored by different superpowers and carrying different requirements and rent rates. Removed in Tropico 5, which is fully back to a Command and Conquer Economy, which can be quite odd if your constitution laws include both Open Borders and Free Market.
  • Consummate Liar: El Presidente and his cronies by default, it's part of the job description. The "compulsive liar" trait plays with it, making his lies less effective among the intellectuals and the religious. In the sequels it's an appealing trait for the loyalists and it nullifies the minor drawbacks related to breaking electoral promises. Admittedly, the average Tropican is not concerned about honesty and Blatant Lies are the rule rather than the exception.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Keith Preston, CEO of Fruitas LTD (itself a satirical expy of the exploitative Real Life United Fruit Company), fits this pretty neatly.
    • Antonio Lopez, the capitalist faction's spokesman, also qualifies.
      Antonio Lopez: Excellent job! Now to restructure the banking system so that we will be able to rob the shirts off of poor people... I mean, to invest prudently and generate wealth that will trickle down.
  • Corrupt Politician/Sleazy Politician. El Presidente (the player) in spades.
  • Crap Saccharine World:
    • If you have your island be a tourist hotspot, it is best to keep all the dirty industry, the crippling poor people, and all the misery of your island away from your high paying guests. This is easier to do in 5 as you can set entertainment buildings to "Tourists Only."
    • Tropico 2 essentially has you playing as a genocidal slave-driving psychopath lording over a band of murderous thugs who are kept fed, housed, and entertained by an economy driven entirely by slave labor. These slaves are kept in line with torture, random executions, and malnourishment. Despite this, the game is cheery, casual, and lighthearted, with a cartoonish art style, upbeat music, brightly-colored buildings and funny little comments in your citizens' thought boxes. Even the captives' crippling terror and miserable lives are played for laughs.
  • Crapsack World: Killing civvies for the lols, can be jailed for no reason, dumb as hell citizens for starters.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: If you get invaded by the US or the USSR, you will lose instantly and the game will be over. What? You honestly thought that your "large" army of 30 people can stand against the might of a super power?
    • Averted if you have a nuclear program, in which case both superpowers will stay away in fear.
    • Potentially averted in Tropico 5 if you maintain a large enough army, as foreign invasions can be defeated.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: In the original game, buildings are gradually destroyed by gun fire or blows. In the sequels, the rebels plant explosives in the buildings, but only after the loyalist forces are defeated. In 5, hostile forces attack buildings with thrown explosives and your troops with guns.
  • Democracy Is Bad: Played with. The difficulty of maintaining a democratic government varies through the games, and pure democracies generally require more ethical governance and a higher standard of living than corrupt or dictatorial systems. On the other hand, a certain degree of vote-rigging, bribery, campaign glibness, and Bread and Circuses is expected of the player, as part of the overall Black Comedy, and successful presidentes can be given decades of near-unlimited power within a 'democratic' system.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything:
    • Enacting the "ban social media" edict disables Facebook and Twitter integration on the PC version.
    • If the Religious/Militarists ask you to change a High School's work mode to Parochial/Military Education, and you respond but then change it back to the original work mode, the faction will lose double the respect you earned for "fulfilling the request".
  • Dirty Communists: The USSR and their local Communist allies can be potential allies or enemies. They are not the most unreasonable factions, and will support a moderate social democratic Tropico, though they will sponsor strikes and terrorist actions, or even invade, if particularly displeased. Rebels, particularly from 3 onward, play this straight.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Juanito annoying you in 3? Just have him executed.
  • The Ditz: Sunny Flowers shows signs of this.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: YOU in the campaign missions "The Toady" and "Divided Loyalty." In the former you are the President's advisor who does all the work for him, and in the latter you are the puppet president who is being controlled by the general from behind the stage. By the end of both missions, you can take over and put yourself in power.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: General Rodriguez, the Militarist representative in 4, refers to everything in military terms. If a tornado forms on the island, he says "an enemy tornado has infiltrated our defenses." If you enact a Tourism Campaign, he'll demand the "foreign maggots" come to Tropico at once.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Juanito in Tropico 4, though Nick Richards pins the blame on his predecessor's assassination on an agent named "Juanito."
  • Dull Surprise: If a citizen dies, look at his/her spouse's thoughts tab. The survivor's reaction reads rather flat for somebody who has just lost a loved one; compare to the dead citizen's children's thoughts, which, although still just text, read with more emotion.
  • Dystopia Is Hard: Kick the Dog one too many times and/or fail to keep your citizens somewhat happy and you'll find yourself in the receiving end of armed revolts, shut down of entire economy sectors or invaded by the US or USSR.
  • Eagleland: On the other hand, for those presidentes with more rightist leanings, the USA will shower you with development aid, trade benefits, and wealthy tourists if you play by their rules (have a high liberty rating, don't get too friendly with the USSR, keep the capitalists happy) but will invade and overthrow you if you snuggle up with the Soviet Union too much. Mostly shown as Type 1 (politically), with some tourists and politicians being Type 2.
  • Easy Evangelism: There are many ways to turn citizens into loyalists. Justified as the Presidente is usually a Manipulative Bastard with a huge Propaganda Machine at his service and the less intelligent individuals are easier to sway.
  • An Entrepreneur Is You: There are several background traits that boost production or service quality for farms, industry, and entertainment buildings.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In the original game, trying to use the eliminate edict on a child prompts the message "You can't do that to a child!"
  • Every Man Has His Price: Bribing faction leaders is a great way to boost El Presidente's popularity.
  • Everyone Calls Him Bar Keep: The player has a name, but s/he is only addressed as El Presidente.
  • Everythings Better With Llamas: They're Tropico's national animal! You can sell cheap llama wool from ranches, as well. There are rumors of a "llama flu" though, and if you survive multiple disasters, it's called "the curse of the llama." Hmm....
  • Evil Colonialist: Many antagonists in the stock campaigns are greedy foreign imperialists. Played for Laughs like everything else.
    • Not 'evil' so much as 'disloyal,' but Royalist supporters during the Colonial Era in 5 all have a 1% approval rating of El Presidente.
  • Evil Mentor: The first few missions of Tropico 4 are a tutorial with a succession of mentors. The rest are revenge against them when they turn against you. Though whether any of them are more corrupt than El Presidente is open to debate.
    • Leon Kane and Adrianna Diaz in 5.
  • Fan Dumb: In-universe, the Loyalist faction demands El Presidente be a grandiose and ruthless dictator — which can be a problem for relatively (or genuinely) benevolent Presidentes that have no problem with free elections and would rather spend money improving the island than building monuments to his/her own glory.
  • Featureless Protagonist / Standardized Leader: Thoroughly averted:
    • The player (El Presidente or the Pirate Lord in Tropico 2) has a defined background, specific "rise to power" circumstances, and positive / negative traits that have a great gameplay impact.
    • Since Tropico 3 El Presidente has an in-game customizable character that moves around the island inspecting buildings and interacting with the people.
  • Firewood Resources: Averted. While the logs harvested directly from a logging camp are indeed of the "firewood" variety, they need to be delivered to a lumber mill to be processed before they can be assembled into furniture.
  • Fisher King: Personal traits selected at the beginning of the game influence the entire population. If you were a Farmer or Miner in your background, everyone will be much better at farming or mining. If you're Hardworking, everyone else will be hardworking.
  • Fog of War: In Tropico 5 the island needs to be explored until the Compass is researched.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: If El Presidente has a rebel leader background.
  • Game-Favored Gender: Some jobs are gender-specific without much justification nor real life equivalency. A feature not changed since the original game and especially odd for white collar jobs. To name a few examples:
    • Teachers, civil servants, shopkeepers, engineers, journalists and cooks can only be female.
    • Doctors, professors, armed personnel, priests, miners and attendants can only be male.
    • Farmers, factory labourers, construction workers, office workers, secret police note  and native-themed entertainers can be either.
    • Averted in Tropico 5, where both genders can be any profession. Even male Cabaret dancers.
  • Gay Option:
    • For your citizens, at least - you can issue an edict legalizing same-sex marriage in Tropico 3. In the 1950s.
    • It is also possible to have 'Womanizer' as a flaw while you have a female avatar and suffer the exact same penalties.
  • The Generalissimo: The player, aka El Presidente. One of El Presidente's mentors is Generalissimo Santana, complete with a stogie and thick beard, who always calls him "amigo."
  • Generational Saga: Tropico 5 has El Presidente's family ruling the island from the 19th century to the 21st in a dynastic way.
  • Global Currency: The U.S. Dollar. Truth in Television. No direct inflation would occur for 50 years except if the "Print Money" edict is enacted, which adds $20,000 to the treasury but increases the price of buildings, devaluating your purchasing power. Average Caribbean wages do rise over time and Tropicans expect to be on par with their neighbours.
  • Global Ignorance: Penultimo's knowledge of the world is... astonishing. He is sure there's a king and queen of Europe, that in addition to Middle East there's also an Upper and Lower East, and he freaks out when he's told he's on an island.
  • The Government: El Presidente can avert it or play it straight. The series introduces more villainous possibilities with every release.
  • Government Drug Enforcement: Modern Times introduces water treatment plants with a "Happy Powder" mode that increases the respect of nearby citizens but is a health hazard.
  • Government Procedural: Ministers (Five) are introduced in Tropico 4 and are needed before some buildings can be built. They generate positive events if they are competent, and negative ones if they are craven or dumb. Sometimes El Presidente will have to fire them to avoid backlash (and El Diablo will want them fired if they're not Tropican-born).
  • Gratuitous Spanish: A few voiceovers contain Spanish words sprinkled in here and there (and don't forget that "El Presidente" is a key term). The citizens speak with a generic Caribbean Spanish accent and the music is performed by Latin American artists.
  • Gunboat Diplomacy: If Tropico's relations with a Cold War superpower are poor, that superpower will dispatch a naval task force to your waters as a warning. If relations still don't improve after some time, an invasion usually follows. Foreign invasion is an instant game-over in 4 but it's possible to repel the invaders in 5 if your military is up to the task.
  • Hangover Sensitivity: The result of a girls' night out at the cocktail bar with Sunny Flowers and Miss Pineapple:
    Miss Pineapple: "In other news, Penultimo has a concussion caused by blinking too loud near me."
  • Have a Gay Old Time: In the description of the Legalize Gay Marriage edict, your adviser uses the old definition of the word gay, mistakenly assuming that it would allow happy people to get married.
  • Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: Every single tourist from the US or the UK.
  • Hello, Insert Name Here: You must name your family at the beginning in 5.
  • Hidden Depths: Despite him being responsible for more than one fuck up, Penultimo is shown to be one hell of an expert when it comes to research and blueprints.
    • Elevated almost to Bunny-Ears Lawyer levels in 5, where Penultimo comes up with ever-more-ridiculous plans for, among other things, solving a high-profile murder and stalling a nuclear war that, despite being mocked by saner characters, almost always work exactly as he said they would. He's also the one that figures out Leon Kane's master plan, giving Presidente and Zweistein just enough time to stop it.
  • Hide Your Children: Sort of. While children aren't hidden, you are unable to have them arrested, executed, or the like. Played straight during a rebel attack, uprising, or a coup where all the children are hidden from sight.
  • Hide Your Gays: Played for Laughs. When you activate the "Same Sex Marriage" a radio announcement states that the Tropican Military had a "Don't ask Don't Tell" policy which was changed to "Don't ask Just don't ask" policy instead.
    • Also played straight as no gay couples will appear until the edict is active.
  • Historical-Domain Character: In Tropico 2, several of the pirate captains are famous historical pirates, like Blackbeard or Anne Bonny. Most of the pregenerated personas in 4 are Cold War political figures like Fidel Castro and Eva Peron.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: The Voodoo DLC mission centers around these.
  • Hot Teacher: Ms. Pineapple, the spokeswoman for the Intellectuals in Tropico 4. How hot? She can vouch that Tropico's scientists are "experts in drilling", she likes to be surrounded by "intelligent, creative men. At least four of them," and when discussing a newly built cabaret with Penultimo, she says that her show begins at eight and he will address her as "Mistress Pineapple."
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: In Modern Times, Sunny grudgingly admits she plays video games and thus knows how to defeat the zombie hordes: with plants!
  • Improbable Age: Rebels in 4 have random ages from pre-teens to senior citizens.
  • Improbably Low IQ: Averted with the Moronic character trait in Tropico 3, depending on what measurement you use. The trait states that El Presidente is a "terminally retarded imbecile" with an IQ below room temperature, which is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. IQ 70 is the exact threshold for profound retardation. On the Celsius scale, "room temperature" is generally in the low twenties.
  • Infant Immortality: Somewhat. Babies born in Tropico do not have in-game bodies, or needs that must be met, until age 3. This eliminates most causes of death. They don't even need parents or siblings! Which is kind of Fridge Brilliance when you think about it if you consider them wards of the state. Averted if you count the Mothers who can be shot or jailed upon request.
  • Insane Troll Logic: If you have any newspapers in 4, Sunny Flowers may ask you to demolish them because paper is made of trees, which are your friends, and you shouldn't read your news on the corpses of your friends.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: It's possible to be a successful politician with Tourette's syndrome. In addition to various faction relationship penalties including randomly offending factions you get additional annual income from pay-per-view of your unintentionally profane speeches. Sadly when you actually execute a speech it sounds just the same.
  • Instant Militia: Militias spawn in 5 during conflicts when the right constitutional principle is present. They are mostly cannon fodder units, useful for tying or softening up enemy forces until the Tropican army arrives.
  • Invaded States of America: Discussed, planned, and averted in the mission "Countdown to Oblivion".
  • It's Pronounced Tro-PAY : Brunhilde Van Hoof's last name is always pronounced with an exaggeration. "Van Hoof."
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks: In-universe. When you build a modern art gallery, General Rodriguez may come on TNT to describe it. Paraphrased:
    "Listen up, maggots! This is modern art! You will love it! You will love it like your life depends on it! Unless it becomes mainstream; then, you should hate it! Now go in a corner and look thoughtful!"
  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner: If the SWAT HQ is set to "Personal Death Squad" mode, it will only employ loyalists who will immediately take the law into their own hands and gun down criminals in the streets as they come across them.
  • Karl Marx Hates Your Guts:
    • The imports system introduced in Tropico 4 needs some tweaks, as imported and exported goods unrealistically have the same prices (no middleman meddling or logistics cost), but you could use a customs office to raise export prices and make a marginal profit reselling previously bought goods or excedents thanks to it.
    • There are other factors that incidentally affect prices, e.g. good relations with a foreign power provides discounts and better profits. If a TV Station is present in the island, El Presidente can enact an ad campaign that raises the exportation price of factory-made goods.
    • Except for Scripted Events or diplomatic disasters, there is no yearly limit on transactions, market exhaustion/saturation, or the likes; foreign powers would sell and buy everything demanded and offered and the prices won't even flinch.
    • The new trading system in Tropico 5 makes it possible to import goods at below the 'normal' price and export above it, depending on what trade deals are in effect at any one time. A Customs Office makes it even more profitable as it increases export prices, and an upgrade also decrease import prices.
  • Kid from the Future: In the DLC mission "The Masked Avenger" you meet "Ultimo," the child of Penultimo and Sunny Flowers.
  • Land of One City: Averted in the first game; different collections of buildings would have their own names hovering over them automatically. Whether or not you have just one "city" in Tropico 3 and 4 is up to you, though. Those games don't have an auto-naming system.
  • La Résistance: The Rebels.
  • Large Ham: In 3 and 4, the dictator you play as, and the capitalist leader. "Presidente, our current treasury balance is below negative ten thousand dollars! The World Development bank has imposed a baaan. On. Our. Spending!"
    “To bait fish withal: if it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me, and hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies; and what's his reason?
    If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? Why, revenge? The villainy you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard, but I will better the instruction.”
    • The American President in Tropico 5 takes it Up to Eleven. His take on the Great Depression assignments: IF THERE IS ONE THING I CANNOT ABIDE, ITS MOPERY
  • The Leader: Every faction has a leader whose personal opinion carries a lot of weight among the members. If a faction is clashing with El Presidente over political issues, the faction can still be somewhat placated if the leader is otherwise happy with his or her life conditions, or bribed. Or you can have them arrested or shot if you're feeling vindictive.
  • Lowered Recruiting Standards: El Presidente can enact Conscription, allowing uneducated citizens to become soldiers, but they will perform more poorly than educated soldiers. This increases chances of people leaving the island or becoming rebels though this can all be avoided by choosing the "Installed by the KGB" Rise To Power.
    • A few Constitution options or building upgrades allow you to lower some educational requirements in 5, such as for soldiers and journalists.
  • Made a Slave: In Tropico 2, this is your sole source of labor. It's mostly played for laughs.
  • Majored in Western Hypocrisy: Possible as part of El Presidente's backstory, where he can be a graduate of either Harvard or Moscow University, getting a relations boost with the appropriate superpower.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: The secret police can arrange "accidents". They are more expensive than normal executions but are discreet and don't have negative repercussions.
  • Masked Luchador: The Steam Edition of Tropico 4 comes with a bonus outfit for El Presidente. Now he can wrestle in style.
  • Memetic Badass: If some of Juanito's lines are to be believed, then El Presidente is an in-universe example.
    Juanito: I think I have some bad news. Russian warships have been spotted off the coast of our island, I think our little island's days are numbered. Don't the Russians know that our El Presidente can easily chase them off with a baseball bat?
  • Middle Eastern Coalition: Existing as a minor power to trade and interact with in Tropico 4 onward.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Llamas aren't native to the Caribbean. Possibly justified by Rule of Funny.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Soldiers with poor living conditions are more likely to join or stage a military coup. Generals too, but their better job normally implies higher salaries and better houses so they are more loyal.
  • Modern Stasis: Tropico is trapped in a middle-20th Century stasis and nothing really upgrades past the 1950's until the "Modern Times" expansion for 4, which finally lets El Presidente do things like build car and electronics factories, establish telecom towers for cell phones, and ban the use of Twitter and Facebook at work by presidential edict.
  • Mood Whiplash: The tone of 4 is largely light-hearted, and all announcements from faction heads are at the worst darkly humourous... until you fail to provide enough food. Then Reverend Esteban will matter-of-factly inform you that he officiated at the funeral of another starvation victim today. A young child.
  • Mook Chivalry:
    • The Rebels, humble disillusioned citizens sworn to bring down your corrupt regime by any means necessary, will often emerge from the jungle and attempt to destroy your buildings - but only after politely waiting for your armed forces to show up.
    • This is nicely averted in the original game, where the rebels appear out of the blue and then beeline towards a sensible building, using hit and run tactics. Your military units have to be very close and strategically placed to engage them before it's too late.
    • Averted in 5 as well, where they'll happily attack whatever they came to until something shoots back at them. This makes proper placement of guard towers important.
  • Mythology Gag: When you build a wind turbine in 4, Penultimo may announce that due to popular demand, it rotates against the wind.
    • A few jokes in 5 come at the expense of the advisors from 4 who are no longer represented ingame, but apparently still around.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name:
    • "El Diablo," the speaker for the Nationalists in 4, is a rather foul skin-headed fellow who asks you to do unpleasant things like executing immigrants.
    • The player can make their own little nationalistic dictatorship, with secret police controlling communications and schools indoctrinating children with El Presidente's own book of dogma.
  • Necessary Drawback: Your Presidente has a number of mandatory positive and negative traits, and even those usually have positive and negative sides to them. Tropico 4 changed things around a bit; flaws and virtues were merged into one category, and you could slowly improve the positive sides of the traits as you played. Some of the purely negative traits got silly positive bonuses in Tropico 4, such as "Ugly" (makes you slightly less popular with all factions) granting you a bonus to your reputation with the Middle East because you look like a camel.
  • Nice Hat: Your avatar can choose from a number of nice hats.
  • Ninja: Though they are not seen in-game, you can hire ninjas in 4 to infiltrate a heavily-guarded fortress in Tibet. Unfortunately, the price for genuine Japanese ninjas is too high to afford, so you end up hiring Chinese ninjas instead. The Chinese ninjas are surprisingly effective, considering the last time you employed cheap Chinese services (the drill) didn't end up so well.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The game has a roster of selectable real life historical leaders, but there are thinly-veiled versions too:
  • No OSHA Compliance: Most factories have a literal sweatshop mode. Most can be improved with upgrades that raise workers' comfort and job satisfaction. Factory-generated pollution can be reduced with an edict that also raises its maintenance costs.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: When you win the Propaganda DLC mission in 4, a disclaimer says that the communist slogans Penultimo was giving you are based on actual socialist slogans from the Cold War.
  • Occupiers Out of Our Country: Nationalists will resent you if you allow a foreign military base in your soil.
  • Oddball in the Series: 2 is, instead of being set on a modern island dictatorship, set in a colonial-era pirate haven. The following games ditched that.
  • Oddly Small Organization: Every branch of the Tropican government. Your palace guard? Four people. Your intelligence service/secret police and the foreign ministry are three people each. Your military is organized into squads of three people, each one commanded by a general, and it's considered extremely large if you have ten of these squads. It fits the scale of the island, which generally only has a few hundred citizens.
  • One-Man Army: A literal example - it's fairly common to have a rebellion start with only one member. Subverted in that this one-man revolution is exactly as effective as you would expect - not at all, although he might, under really lucky circumstances, be able to take down three or maybe four of your soldiers before he is killed. Averted in Tropico 5 where soldiers operate in squads, including rebels, and El Presidente is unable to join battles.
  • One True Faith:
    • There is only one religious faction, and thus, only one set of religious buildings to construct. It's a realistic occurrence given the small size of your country and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean setting, where the Catholic Church traditionally dominates.
    • Nicely averted in Tropico 2, in which there are multiple Christian denominations represented. However, this has little in-game effect besides determining which people won't be allowed into church if you choose the 'Fanatical Catholic' or 'Fanatical Protestant' character flaw.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: The game positively encourages the player to play President Corrupt...er, El Presidente Magnifico, basing a large chunk of the score on embezzlement and the cult of personality, providing the opportunity to rig or cancel elections, and having a whole submenu devoted to bribing, arresting or assassinating political opponents.
  • Painting the Medium and/or Biting-the-Hand Humor: In Modern Times, you can issue an edict that bans social networks, since they "reduce productivity". The icon for this edict? A stricken Facebook icon. Oh, and you can't connect to Facebook or Twitter from the game as long as this edict is active.
  • People Puppets: Metaphorical and invoked in the Tropico 3 cover where El Presidente joyfully pulls the strings of the whole society.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: A common occurrence. The official name is simply "República de Trópico" but other traits are there, with achieving a Landslide Election being way easier in the sequels (and with an unlockable trophy) than in the original game. The developers lampshade it in promotional materials with the slogan Vote El Presidente. Or Else.
  • Permanent Elected Official: More or less a goal in any given scenario. The Player Character must remain in power long enough to complete all their objectives, or until they pass beyond the scope of the game's time period. While the Player Character can get elected out of office, this almost never happens as that would mean a Game Over and players have many options for avoiding it, including bribing party leaders, election fraud, and suspending elections in extreme cases. There are, of course, no practical term limits.
    • Can be averted in 5 if you choose - As long as someone in your Dynasty is elected you can continue. It doesn't always have to be the same member.
  • Pirates:
    • Tropico 2: Pirate Cove shows that it takes a lot of work to be a successful pirate lord, far more than just sailing the high seas to find victims or Buried Treasure.
    • In 3 you can make your avatar dress like one. And one of the Absolute Power missions can have you indulge in some plundering too. Offscreen, of course.
    • In 5 you have to deal with them attacking you in the Colonial period and you may get several missions to interact with them somehow, either by trading with them, bribing them to go away, capturing them, or giving them huge ransoms.
  • The Pope: "Papal Visit" is one of the best edicts of the game, providing a great happiness boost. Can only be used once. The one in the original game is a reference to John Paul II's visit to Cuba. In 5, the Religious faction may ask you to invite the Pope to Tropico, which entails a number of consecutive tasks.
  • Population Control: An important gameplay element as the workforce needs to be expanded often, but too much unemployment generates unproductive citizens crowding public services, vagrancy, and crime. To manage the flux of people the government can set migratory policies to encourage (or restrict) mass immigration, qualified immigration, emigration or close the borders to prevent a Brain Drain. Pro-natality medicine can be set and a contraception ban can be issued. And then there are more direct approaches like Kill the Poor, Disposable Vagrant...
  • Pragmatic Villainy: One of the best ways to deal with dissenters: Bribery. It increases the approval of not only that person, but their family too, and the money gets spent in state owned housing/businesses anyway. One of the reasons for any given faction disliking you is "Faction Leader is Unhappy", making them a prime target; it doesn't even count as election tampering, if you do it before the election starts!
  • Present Day Past: The Modern Times campaign starts with the world going through events which are clearly meant to resemble the post 2008 financial crisis, the 2011 London riots and the 2012 apocalypse hysteria...yet the date is still listed as the 1950s.
  • President for Life: El Presidente can omit general elections altogether, and there is a "Martial Law" edict tailored to this option that mantains people in line. Some scenarios however impose clean elections under the supervision of the United Nations. The loyalists take offence if their dear president allows elections.
  • Private Military Contractors: Marco Moreno rents out his Rebels as Mercs in some missions.
  • Propaganda Machine: You can set radio and TV stations to broadcast propaganda, which increases the respect of the public. You can also build the Childhood Museum, dedicated to the reverence of your early life.
  • Public Domain Character: Tropico 2 features Captain Hook and Long John Silver as two pirate captains.
  • Public Execution: While the Presidente cannot execute people himself he can order his soldiers to do so.
  • Race Lift:
    • Bizarrely inverted: Every single character in the series who's not a tourist has skin color indicative of Latin American ancestry and speaks fluent Spanish even if they're immigrants fresh off the boat from, for example, Moscow.
    • Conversely, every single tourist is absolutely lily-white.
    • Bizarrely in Tropico 3 and 4, becoming employed as a doctor makes the character look much more African looking. If said character gets some other form of employment they go back to looking of predominantly Spanish ancestry.
  • Rags to Riches:
    • Tropicans and immigrants can start as homeless or vagrants or be humble farmers but they or their children can and eventually will climb up the social ladder and thus gain access to luxuries, upper class housing, services and facilities if the adequate jobs and education opportunities are available. Or you can of course design an egalitarian society with flat wages, fees and pensions. This makes education less attractive since literate jobs won't have an obvious edge.
    • The final score factors in the size of your Swiss account. Except in Tropico 4, El Presidente starts every scenario with zero personal funds. In the original game, when the player retires your advisor provides different remarks about your future well-being depending on how much you were able to amass. Over $40,000 is considered riches.
  • Random Event: Events such as strikes, bomb threats, ministerial gaffes (or feats) and natural disasters happen from time to time and require presidential attention. They can also be scripted and some are semi-random since some conditions make them more likely to happen.
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: When Comrade Vasquez asks you to arrest the Capitalist leader, the voice actor reads the entire page of text including the action's effects. No other page is voiced beyond the first paragraph.
  • Real Time with Pause
  • Rebel Leader: Marco Moreno, Flame of the Revolution! El Presidente can be one if you choose the proper Rise to Power.
  • Red China: The Red and Rich version. China is one of the foreign 'Great Powers' that you have to deal with in Tropico 4. They like to buy canned goods and stuff like goat cheese and llama wool from you, and like it if you have low liberty on your island. They're also the ones who sell luxury goods to you for your shopping mall.
  • Refining Resources: The purpose of Tropico's industry. This is one of two basic ways you make money (the other is tourism) though your economy may tend to boom and bust a lot depending on how regularly you can put out exports. Tropico 4 introduced the ability to import raw materials, letting you run factories that refine resources that you don't have access to on the island.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The game draws much of its humour from "how to do more and more devilish things to the citizens and get away with it".
    • A lot of Penultimo's plans and schemes to advance Tropico in the world seem to rely on this in 5, such as delaying an invasion by exporting enough rum to keep the invading army drunk or catching a murderer by naming a tourist attraction 'Scene of the Crime' so the murderer will go there.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: A popular uprising boils down to rebel citizens assaulting your palace after beating loyalist citizens' brains out with their bare fists, if their jobs don't imply carrying weapons. Armed personnel can slay antagonists in more elegant and civilized ways.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction:
    • Sort of, anyway. Since the game isn't in real-time, the building actually take days, weeks, or months to construct, but it certainly looks fast. It certainly tends to not look so fast when the AI would rather have the construction workers wander around instead of building...
    • Taken to the extreme in Tropico 4, which now provides the option to near-instantly complete construction of a building for double the construction price. DLC for Tropico 4 also includes a cement factory, which helps you build buildings faster, and as a bonus, produces lots of cement that you can sell as an export.
    • In the original Tropico, where walking times are a real concern (no cars) the opposite is/was a problem that was explictly addressed in the expansion but not completely repaired. Workers have to walk to their construction sites but don't walk very far and only work if they have no other needs to refill first. Many construction offices have to be strategically placed to have something built in slightly peripherical areas. In addition non-flat ground requires a lot of preparatory work, so finishing an airport may take decades.
  • RPG Elements:
    • Citizens get more skilled and efficient at their specific jobs as time goes by. More intelligent individuals improve faster and the government can implement meassures to accelerate learning rates.
    • In Tropico 4, El Presidente's trait related bonuses gain ranks and get more powerful the more missions they are picked.
  • Rule of Cool: When compared to the original classic campaign, the missions in the Absolute Power expansion pack are a lot less realistic and serious, for example you will be fighting against a rogue Soviet AI, working for an evil corporation, trying to escape a Stable Time Loop, etc.
  • Rule of Funny: In general, Tropico 3 and Tropico 4 are more about being a funny political satire instead of a serious political simulation game.
  • Salaryman: One of the new Modern Times buildings is a business tower full of uneducated employees who generate income depending on how many other people are living in an area. Office workers are bottom-of-the-barrel white-collar workers, but it allows you to make money off of dense populations without needing to export anything.
  • Schmuck Bait: The description for Print Money states that if you run out of funds (due to building prices increasing) just Print Money again.
  • Scripted Event: Well elaborated scenarios often make use of these events to simulate rebel activity, price fluctuations, migration waves, international relations, etc. For instance, the Cuban Missile Crisis activates a mandatory Conscription edict in Modern Times, while it was only a flavour radio announcement in Tropico 3 and not present in the original game stock scenarios.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Shows up in multiple forms. There is the Bribe special action, that increases the approval of the individual and their family, which can be used on a faction leader to remove the "Faction leader is unhappy" modifier. There is an Edict that does this for all of the leaders, at a discount. It's also one of the options for stopping strikes over poor work conditions.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying: In the mission "Countdown to Oblivion," Soviet soldiers find getting drunk on rum and visting the island's burlesque theaters more important than preparing to invade the United States.
  • Secret Police: You can recruit them and set them up in a building of your choice, from a newspaper office to a tiny poky restaurant.
  • Self-Made Man: One of the possible background that you can have. You will get extra respect from the capitalists and US government and a boost in your citizens' productivity. And it is one of the few capitalist backgrounds that does not have the penalty of losing respect from the communists.
  • Sensitivity Training: A policy that can be implemented if Tropico has a college or minister of education. It helps police and military personel be less of a drag on liberty ratings by offering such helpful suggestions as "Never hit a civilian anywhere that will leave a mark." In 5, it becomes a Cold War edict.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Much of the latter part of the Tropico 5 Changing the World campaign involves El Presidente travelling back in time to prevent his mentor from invoking a nuclear apocalypse. For the most part this results in a Stable Time Loop (including, comically, El Presidente turning out to be the governor of the two islands that gave his original two islands grief throughout the first half of the game) and things going from bad to worse, but eventually El Presidente manages to win out.
  • Sex Slave: Sexual gratification is one of the desires pirates need to have satisfied in Tropico 2. As with all others, this is handled with forced labor kidnapped from settlements or captured from ships.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work: The loading screens in 5 are dedicated to listing the various crazy things real life dictators have done.
  • Side Quest: Tropico 4 introduces optional tasks, specific simple goals presented by faction and foreign leaders that provide small boosts.
  • Sinister Surveillance: One of the purposes of the secret police. El Presidente can increase its efficiency by enacting the edict "wiretapping". Big Brother Is Watching.
  • Slave to PR: Or else you either face an uprising or invasion. But on the other hand, if you managed to keep your people happy, they will not mind too much if you put some of the country's public funding into your private bank account.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism:
    • The message behind the game is extremely cynical. It basically says that all political leaders are there to either line their own pockets or just to hold power. Whether capitalist or communist, ideology is merely a way to obtain more power. The Cold War setting heavily reinforces this notion by having Tropico essentially be a very small pawn in a much larger game betweem the US and the USSR that is the same money-making, power-grabbing scheme on a larger scale. In addition, all of the factions are completely cynical examples illustrating the worst of their particular group as a whole: the religious faction is full of puritanical Moral Guardians, the capitalists are greedy plutocrats, the communists want you to keep everyone equal regardless of skill or effort, the militarists are club-wielding Black Shirts, the nationalists are xenophobic shut-ins, the environmentalists are so knee-jerk hateful of industries such as logging that they would rather have people unemployed than working at a mill, the intellectuals are prone to offense at anything done to appeal to the uneducated, and the loyalists are universally depicted as boot-licking simpletons who measure a strong leader on how much he abuses his privileges, cultivates a near-religious cult of personality, and brutally oppresses the general population.
    • The description of almost everything also is quite brutally cynical and extremely snarky, mocking the pretentiousness of the tropical islands, and your background is written by a Yes-Man who claims you are greater than Ayn Rand, Henry Kissinger, Milton Friedman, Karl Marx and Engels combined. The list goes on. The pirate one is no better as the pirates are surprisingly content eating slightly mouldy Yorkshire pudding or eating a poorly done steak with potato.
  • Socialism: Basically the economic model of the simulation is state capitalism; in Tropico the state is the owner of everything and manages wages and production modes. Recent games are gradually introducing private capitalism, still ineffective as mentioned already (above, Command And Conquer Economy) but there are other traits like free health care, free education and free food that are core concepts unchanged since the original game and cannot be changed by the player and fit well as at least social democracy. Although the game explicitly labels those services as "free", they could also be interpreted as being tax financed (and breaking even) since there is no apparent tax collection but there is a "Tax Cut" edict that simulates returning treasury money to the citizens to make them happier. There are optional edicts too, like "Free Housing", that are relevant to the model. In Tropico 5, you can implement edicts to charge for healthcare and food, but education is always free. Researching Socialism grants access to three socialist edicts (social security, literacy program, and mortgage subsidies).
  • Space Management Game: A mixture of Commodity and Service game.
  • Stable Time Loop: One of the missions in the Absolute Power expansion has you running an island where something has gone wrong and time is stuck in a loop; you load the mission to find you've already tried, and failed, at it hundreds of times. When you do beat it, the game tells you to restart the mission to see how you succeeded.
    • One of these forms the main campaign of Tropico 5. All the misfortune your competing islands cause you are your future self's fault as future-you tries to monkey-wrench Leon Kane's plans.
  • The Starscream:
    • It is strongly implied that your presidential advisor Penultimo is constantly trying to assassinate you and take power himself throughout the entire third game. He is, however, completely loyal in the fourth and fifth game.
    • YOU will be one in the campaign mission "The Toady," in which you start as the president's right hand, with your goal being to eventually replace him. Near the end of the mission, the KGB will offer to put you in power in exchange for you becoming their puppet. No matter what you do, you will become president by the end of the mission.
  • State Sec: In Modern Times the SWAT HQ can set to work as this.
  • Stuffy Brit: Lord Chumley, the EU representative from 4. "Tally ho, old boy! The riff-raff are on my back again. You know how it is."
    • Lord Oaksworth, the royalist, globalist, religious, and generic foreign representative in 5.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    • "Of course the secret police does not operate out of this restaurant, where have you heard that, Citizen?"
    • The description of the weapons factory. "Weapons? What weapons? They are nothing but pipes, pipes in which you could possibly shoot something out of..." After you build one in 4, Sunny may ask Penultimo what the new factory produces.
      Penultimo: Sprockets. Huge demand for them in the US.
      Sunny: Such a huge, well-guarded factory to produce sprockets?
      Penultimo: Also, bulb holders, paperweights; definitely not weapons of any kind!
    • American president Nick Richards will randomly deny being a criminal during totally unrelated discussions... while having a voice that sounds like Richard Nixon's.
  • Swiss Bank Account:
    • Explicitly part of the game in that El Presidente has one and you have to keep it nice and plumped with crooked donations. You are actually encouraged to put money into your account since it will give you bonus points in the end game.
    • The Modern Times expansion for 4 finally gives you a gameplay reason to have a private bank account: all the best stuff unlocks that way! You can't set your SWAT HQ to "Personal Death Squad" without it, nor can you upgrade your palace to a modern Presidency or put "happy powder" in everyone's drinking water. Think of it as a "how much can I exploit the people?"-meter. In 5, it is used to upgrade the abilities of dynasty members.
  • Take a Third Option: Having a secret police presents the player with new and subtler approaches when conflictive events arise.
  • Take That: One of the missions in Tropico 3 centers around international intrigue. At one point in that mission, the U.S. President will accuse you of hiding "nookular" weapons on your island that he is certain you will use to attack his Texas ranch, insisting that you "turn over the WMDs or embrace the way of the hamburger." Whether or not you actually have any sort of nuclear program on the island is irrevelant to this happening.
  • Talk Show: El Presidente can broadcast his own, "Hola Presidente". A show with presumably only one guest who doubles as the host. An expy of Hugo Chavez's show "Aló Presidente".
  • Tank Goodness: Finally present in Tropico 5. Army Bases provide a squad of three and foreign invaders make use of them.
  • Tempting Fate: In one event chain in the Tropico 4 campaign, a defective Chinese drilling machine causes an earthquake on your island. You can blame China, yourself, or the Powers That Be. If you pick the last option, another earthquake immediately strikes the island.
  • Thriving Ghost Town: You know you're doing well when your population gets above 200. Justified in that the island is tiny, and even with every square foot of land developed it can usually only support around 900 individuals maximum.
    • Somewhat averted in 5, where islands can easily get 600-700 people and a whole island can support a population of thousands.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Many researchers in 5 are this. Of particular note are the ones researching the trigger.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: You're rarely warned what sort of problems (or specific goals) you're faced with in a level, leading to gameplay consisting of "Play the level for a while, learn your goals, and restart it with Traits that will help you accomplish it."
  • Undying Loyalty: This is the point of the Loyalist faction. They're...loyal. What this means is they will always support you during a revolt, they will never become a rebel, they can become members of your personal death squad, and they always vote for you during an election (though they much prefer if you don't even put it to a vote). The only thing that upsets them is you not worshipping yourself the same way they do (not building your own childhood museum/personal mausoleum, having free elections, etc) and their faction disaster is that they simply stop being Loyalists; even in their faction disaster they don't really hurt you!
    • While all your advisors fit, special mention goes to Lord Oaksworth in 5, considering he was just appointed as your liaison to the Crown and is supposed to be loyal to them. He will try to reduce your punishments for things you obviously did wrong, give a lot of helpful advice in dealing with the Crown, and will certainly not be involved in your successor's tragic kidnapping by pirates should your mandate come close to expiring. He'll also side with you should you rebel against the Crown and become your religious and foreign advisor.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Very present in the much harder original game. Losing the very few initial male college educated citizens (usually exigent chaps prone to emigration) means no doctors if you don't realize it in time and hire expensive foreigners. No doctors leads to people dropping like flies, a critical hit early on. Also since citizens have to walk to the buildings that provide services, they sometimes neglect their own business. Working is a low priority by design; they serve themselves first. This is a critical issue with dockworkers, who can ruin your economy if they have to walk across the island satisfying various needs ahead of loading your exports onto freighters. Once the island has a deficit, wages are capped and things go sour(er). The sequels eradicate this with the introduction of cars and allowing spending a little while in debt.
  • Urban Segregation: It's a good idea to separate residential, tourist, and industrial areas. There are many Not in My Backyard! buildings:
    High-class tourists are a fantastic moneymaker. Unfortunately, earning enough money to build the infrastructure needed to attract them (especially the airport) usually requires you to first build the sort of industrial economy that they hate, so a sensible Presidente would build the polluting, messy industries on one side of the island and the tourist traps on the scenic, pastoral side. In 5, it's finally possible to set Entertainment buildings to "Tourists only," making a pretty tourist trap plan more viable.
  • Velvet Revolution: One way to become El Presidente from Tropico 3 onward. You will get bonus respect from the US and the Intellectuals if you have this as your way of rising to power. Naturally, people will have very high democratic expectations and will not react kindly if you betray your ideals.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You can make sure all your citizens live like kings with high-class comfortable housing, well-paying jobs, quality education, plenty of entertainment options, a diverse and satisfying diet, and police keeping them safe. If you do, they work harder, are less likely to revolt, and consequently make your life much easier.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Or you can just force your people to live in shacks. Lock random people in prisons, have peaceful protesters shot, order random people on the streets executed by your soldiers, and order anyone who dares to run for president against you shot dead in the street.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Push people too hard, get their happiness meters too low, and they will revolt. Usually this results in a trickle of citizens becoming rebels who will gradually attack your facilities before finally targeting your palace. If happiness completely bottoms out, you could have a full-scale Civil War where half of your citizens riot in the streets killing the other half.
  • Villain Protagonist
  • Villain with Good Publicity: You, if you're doing well. Radio and TV Stations can specifically broadcast programs that improve your approval ratio.
  • Voice of the Resistance:
    • DJ Betty Boom of Radio Free Tropico from the Absolute Power expansion. She is quite the Conspiracy Theorist, and is vehemently against everything El Presidente does. Even if the player plays a genuinely progressive, democratic, incorruptible, and generous El Presidente, she will still declare all taken actions acts of pure evil and use them as reasons to call for El Presidente's head on a stake. No seriously, if you enact air pollution standards, she'll lambast you for keeping the "healthy" noxious fumes all to the bourgeoisie. If you build a wind turbine, she'll decry it as a symbol of oppression for only turning in the direction of the wind, and ask her listeners to join her in tearing down the turbine and building a new one that rotates against the wind. This is Lampshaded in 4.
    • You can also build one of these as a radio station in the first game - setting it to "Radio Free Tropico" will release all government restrictions on the content of the station, massively boosting the Liberty stat for any listeners but increasing chances of uprisings or rebellions if happiness is very low.
  • Vote Early, Vote Often: The Tropican electoral tribunal can interpret a fraction of opposit—- er, misprint ballots as votes in favor of El Presidente. This has some minor drawbacks and is rarely needed outside the first game.
  • Welcome to the Caribbean, Mon!: The entire setting of the game. And you can use it to help promote your tourist industry.
  • Working Class Hero: Depending on your Presidente's background, you can either be a real one (farmer, miner, self-made man), or a fake one (Man of the people).
  • World War III: Averting it is the goal of the mission "Countdown to Oblivion."
  • You Have Researched Breathing: In the Plantador DLC mission, you have to research everything to be able to build it, even things as simple as roads.
    • Quite a few research projects in 5 are this, such as Table Manners, the Wheel (in the Cold War Era), and Flexible Principles.
  • You Killed My Father: If you execute someone, their family will hate you and may become rebels because of it. Although, bribing works the other way, raising the whole family's happiness and approval.
  • You Lose at Zero Trust: A political version of this. You will need every political faction to at lease tolerate you if you want to stay in power and avoid civil unrest or foreign invasion. From Tropico 3 onwards, faction-specific disasters (beyond the aforementioned invasions) have been introduced - Communists will import rebels, Intellectuals will shut down schools, foreign powers will halt trade and aid, etc.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: When you enact the Police State edict in Modern Times a bunch of police blimps float over the island to observe for crime.


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alternative title(s): Tropico
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