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Antagonistic Governor

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In a story where the plucky heroes are fighting against The Empire, or some other oppressive government, one of the main villains will hold the title of Governor, or whatever the story's universe calls such a rank. The governor is usually a Lawful Evil type, although more sympathetic views can put them into a Lawful Neutral type.

Sometimes though, the governor could live in a state that has a republican/democratic form of government, but they have ambitions that will put them at odds to the promised freedoms to the populace. Usually stopping their devious plans is the driving force of the plot.

They aren't usually the most powerful rank in all the land, as that is held usually by someone else. Depending on the story, the governor may faithfully serve those above them, or on the other end of the scale, have ambitions to replace those above them. Or in some stories, those above the governor may be of no consequence besides being mentioned, as the action of the story deals simply with the area of the governor's control. An evil governor who presents a more direct threat to the heroes than the actual head of the government as a whole might be a Dragon-in-Chief.


May alternatively be called a magistrate, viceroy, or sheriff (see folklore).

Overlaps with Corrupt Politician, and an antagonistic governor can take a step above to become an President Evil, The Emperor, or Evil Overlord. Distinguished from a Feudal Overlord by being appointed or elected to their post rather than inheriting it, but imperial governors frequently hold aristocratic titles as well. Compare with Mayor Pain, which is this trope, but applied to a mayor.



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     Anime and Manga  

  • Berserk: Lord Gennon is the powerful and corrupt Governor-General of the Tudor Empire's northern battlefront, who occupies the castle of Doldrey which the protagonists of the Band of the Hawk must capture, and with whom Griffith has a personal score to settle (by personal score one means making sure that he won't vocally reminisce about the fun times they had together).
  • Drifters: Lord Aram is the local Feudal Overlord from the Orte Empire and the Starter Villain for the titular heroes to fight. He is introduced putting an entire village of Enslaved Elves to the torch for helping the Drifters.
  • Overlord (2012): While Ainz himself tries to be a Benevolent Mage Ruler, he's: a) an overpowered lich with Obviously Evil powers, b) suffers from built-in Lack of Empathy that suppresses his every emotion when it becomes too strong (including joy, anger, sadness...) and c), just about every one of Ainz' underlings is Evil due to being created by people in various stages of the edgelord phase and believe Ainz is even eviller than they are, seeing it as their duty to conquer the world in his name. Thus most of the drama comes from Ainz's servants completely misinterpreting his well-meaning orders.
    • The Guardians rule their own portions of Nazarick (and sometimes the whole thing when Ainz isn't around) with different degrees of cruelty. Thankfully they follow Ainz's orders so their human underlings aren't too badly treated for the most part, mostly because they're Not Worth Killing, as long as they show no signs of disrespect or disobedience (and they don't care whether the victim even knew he was being disrespectful).
    • Demiurge is sent by Ainz to secure a source of raw materials. Demiurge obediently finds a land of beastmen and starts running horrific experiments on them until he finds a way to make a self-supporting parchment factory by flaying the beastmen and then healing them over and over again. As Demiurge refers to them as "sheep", Ainz is unaware of the atrocities Demiurge gets up to.
    • Late in the light novel, Demiurge sets up a Puppet King via doppelganger who looks forward to the upcoming carnage Ainz will cause and shows every intention of participating.
    • Ainz himself is briefly this during his "alliance" with the Baharuth Empire. When the Emperor asks Ainz to demonstrate his strongest spell in the yearly battle against the Kingdom, Ainz causes a horrific massacre that everyone thinks the Emperor wanted. Then after Ainz demonstrates he's emphatically not a Squishy Wizard, the Emperor does the only sensible thing and declares his empire to be a vassal of Ainz... and to his surprise, finds himself much better off politically and mentally since Ainz has no interest in destroying him or his subjects, while all complaints from the Empire can now be sent higher to Ainz.

     Comic Books  

  • Asterix in Corsica has a Roman governor who's only there to grab as much as he can during his stay and escape with the loot. The poor folk must starve from the taxes in order for him to get into Caesar's good graces. He's so unpopular the army forces him onto the front lines as the Corsicans attack.
  • The Governor of Woodbury, Phillip or rather Brian Blake, in The Walking Dead, a psychopathic dictator and Consummate Liar who serves as the Arc Villain for issues 27 through 48.

     Films — Animated  

     Films — Live-Action  

  • Conquest of the Planet of the Apes: Governor Breck, the main antagonist of the film. By the then future year of 1991 (the film was released in 1972), the United States is a police state, and it's shown that the Governor's word is law in this new America.
  • Blazing Saddles: Gov. William J. Le Petomane isn't exactly antagonistic, but he is incompetent and an easy mark for State Attorney General Hedley Lamarr, who acts as his Evil Chancellor. Le Petomane's assigning of a black man as sheriff (under Hedley's suggestion, as part of his plan to clear the residents of Rock Ridge) is what sets the plot in motion.
  • The Passion of the Christ: Pontius Pilate. Unlike other portrayals of him, which show him to be a brutal dictator, he is only interested in maintaining the peace in Judea, even if that means sentencing an innocent man to death. This article discusses it in a detailed fashion.
  • Star Wars: The Moffs of the Empire. In many works a local Moff is usually a source of trouble for the Rebels. The most notable one would be Grand Moff Tarkin, who was one of the main villains in A New Hope and ordered the destruction of Alderaan.
  • Cutthroat Island: Governor Ainslee. He is a Smug Snake, and is a major player in the story in order to gain wealth and glory.
  • Soylent Green: Governor Santini. A minor character. He is revealed to be in cahoots with the murder victim of the story, as they were once law partners. Santini orders the investigation closed, since further study would revealed the secret of Soylent Green.
  • Lord Cutler Beckett of Pirates of the Caribbean is the local representative of the East India Trading Company. He uses brutal methods to supress any opposition and enrich his employeers such as hanging children and slave-trading.
  • In Swashbuckler, the Big Bad is acting governor Lord Durant. Durant is using his tenure to strip Jamaica of her wealth, planning to skip back to England with his ill-gotten gains. After he imprisons the Lord High Justice, the Justice's daughter starts a rebellion, and recruits the local pirates to her cause.

  • Any portrayal of the Sheriff of Nottingham in the Robin Hood mythos is an example of this. Firstly, the Sherriff represented the King's appointed government in the city or the county and administered the county in his name - this is the literal meaning of the word, middle-English Shire-Reeve - the county administrator. The Sheriff in the Robin Hood tales takes the Antagonistic Governor concept to a second level - as King Richard is absent from the land, he really is governing in the King's name. And abusing the position.


  • Zorro: The Governor of California. A rich and powerful tyrant that Zorro squares off with time and time again.


  • Ciaphas Cain
    • In For The Emperor, Governor Grice causes a lot of problems for Cain and the other Imperials because he's a genestealer hybrid.
    • Averted in other Cain novels, where the governors are competent but hopelessly outmatched or amazing, none of them are actually ill-intentioned towards Cain (except for one after he ended up brainwashed by the villain). In one case, one even saves Cain from being married to a particularly pushy Girl of the Week).
    • Double subverted in, Choose Your Enemies, where the governor is being helpful until it's revealed that he's the leader of the Chaos cult the main characters are hunting.
  • Wet Desert: Tracking Down a Terrorist on the Colorado River: The governor of Nevada is a jerk at first and prevents Hoover Dam from opening its spillways, increasing the danger from the incoming flood.
  • In Victoria, protagonist John Rumford and his ex-military vigilantes face off against the Governor of Maine, who is blackmailed into supporting the gay rights agenda, ultimately kidnapping him for multiple years.
  • In The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli recommends nominating especially cruel overlords in conquered territories to crush the populace and then, when the job is done, to execute them as scapegoats.
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader has a strange version of the trope in his Sufficiency Governer Gumpas: the protagonist trying to defeat him is his nominal superior. The Lone Islands are technically part of the kingdom of Narnia, and Gumpas officially governs in the king's name. But they haven't had any real contact with Narnia for decades and the "governer" has had absolute authority in practice. So when King Caspian returns to the Lone Islands and discovers that Gumpas has enacted some "financial reforms" of which he rather strongly disapproves, he can't just invoke his authority as king to put a stop to it. If he tried that, Gumpas would just pretend to think Caspian was lying about being king, and use it as an excuse to have him locked up or executed for treason. In the end, Caspian forces him to out of his position through a mix of intimidation and clever bluffing. Caspian then decides to make the next ruler of the Islands a Duke, saying "we've had enough of governers".

     Live-Action TV  

  • After Tommy Carcetti (a Democrat) becomes Mayor of Baltimore in The Wire, he finds out just how deep the problems with Baltimore's finances are and needs help from the state to save the city from a huge budget hole. Unfortunately the governor (a Republican) views Carcetti solely as a potential political rival and sets up an endless and petty series of humiliations for Carcetti before offering his "help" in the form of a Leonine Contract. Carcetti angrily refuses, which not only does immense damage to the city's schools and police force in the final season, but marks the point where Carcetti starts transforming from an ambitious and narcissistic but basically well meaning guy into a Corrupt Politician who forgets all his principles for the sake of his ambition.
  • During the final seasons of Law & Order, Governor Donald Shalvoy initially presented himself as a tough-minded reformer and ally of Jack McCoy. That was until McCoy refused to cover up evidence that Shalvoy had used an escort service (mirroring the scandal which brought down Elliot Spitzer), after which Shalvoy attempted a series of dirty tricks to remove McCoy from office.
  • The Wild Wild West episode "The Night of the Legion of Death". An ambitious and dictatorial territorial governor has created a secret army in a plot to become President of the U.S.
  • Sliders has a few examples.
    • The early episode "Prince of Wails" has the sliders arrive in a world where Britain won the American Revolutionary War and America is still a colony, now having expanded to what would be all the western States as well. Professor Arturo's double in this world is the sinister Sheriff of San Francisco, who rules not only the city but apparently all the "western colonies" as well. He's oppressive towards the colonists, but he goes even further when he plots to have the heirless Crown Prince killed so he can take over as the new King, the previous King having died on the battlefields of France.
    • A season 2 episode has a variation. The sliders arrive in a world where The Mafia has become too powerful. The sliders discover that an election candidate for California governor, who ironically was running on an anti-mafia platform, is really on their payroll and that they plan to have California and Nevada secede from the United States to form their own mob-controlled country, as the federal government is beginning to fight back against them.
    • The season 4 episode "California Reich" has the heroes visit a world where Adolf Hitler apparently never came to power, and so the world here has not seen the evils of Nazism. This allows a Hitler-like man to seize control of the state of California, becoming its Governor. He's already planning a run for President when the sliders arrive.
    • Subverted in another season 4 episode where the sliders come to a world where an economically weakened America has been invaded by Mexico, with mixed results. The Mexicans have been pushed out of Texas but occupy parts of southern California. To make matters even more complicated, UN troops are instate as well because the Governor of California in this world won't allow weapons inspectors in. He has local guerrilla fighters named after him, "B-1 Bobbies", and fights both the Mexican and UN forces. Since he doesn't actually appear, and the sliders are really just observers here, he doesn't really antagonize them. We also don't really hear his side of the story, his State is being invaded after all.
  • Governor James Devlin of Oz. On a show wall-to-wall with scumbags (it's set in a prison, after all), one of the worst is the guy on the outside campaigning on a "law and order" platform.
  • The Republic of Sarah: Governor Gail Taggert of New Hampshire, who throws every legal obstacle she can at Greylock to punish Sarah for pushing the independence vote and thereby costing the state access to the lucrative coltan deposits.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: Kodos the Executioner, who was governor of a human colony that was facing starvation because of an exotic fungus. He executed 4,000 citizens in order to see to it that the other 2,000 wouldn't starve. He later disappeared, presumed dead, but in reality, had changed his name and was living life as an actor.
  • The Walking Dead: The Governor himself, the leader of Woodsbury. He is one of the most dangerous villains the group ever faces.
  • Hawaii Five-0
    • Governor Jameson at first seems to be the team's most significant ally, empowering them with their infamous "full immunity and means," but it turns out to be part of a classic attempt to keep one's enemies close.
    • Governor Denning, the next holder of the title, is closer to Lawful Neutral in that his need to play politics and present a certain image to the public occasionally leads him to hinder McGarrett's task force, but as long as 5-0 keep getting the job done, he'll smooth over their more egregious abuses of their so-called "full immunity and means."
  • Designated Survivor:
    • Governor Royce of Michigan takes full advantage of the near-total destruction of the federal government to start legally acting on his personal anti-Muslim prejudice. He has the State Police round up Michigan's Muslim population on no charges other than "suspected terrorist connections". While President Kirkman is able to bluff him into ceasing for a while, he eventually goes right back, all but seceding in name from the Union, even convincing the National Guard to ignore an order to federalize and side with him instead. Kirkman eventually tricks him into meeting with him for negotiations, only to arrest him on the spot for treason.
    • Governors Nichols of Arizona and Rivera of Florida lead a majority of the other governors in refusing to help assemble a new Congress unless Kirkman puts a halt to all immigration. They at least claim it's a temporary measure to try and bring calm and stability back to the country, but how honest they are about their motives is debatable.
  • Frontier: Lord Benton assumes command of Fort James and the local fur trade after hanging the previous Governor on trumped-up charges. His sole interest is acquiring more wealth and power, and tries to engineer a war between his French Canadian rivals and the Lakewalker tribe in order to attain it. He also rules the town pretty tyrannically, even having a British contingent sent to depose him for his corruption sequestered and slowly starved to death.
  • The Tekfur of Karacahisar in Resurrection: Ertuğrul appears to be this trope after placing an embargo on goods being sent to his city by the Kayis; he reconsiders his stance later and sides with Ertugrul, causing a subversion. His right-hand man Vasilius plays this trope straight after ascending to the position. Not only does he organize the old Tekfur’s assassination without Helena knowing he was responsible, but also focuses on using that newfound power to annihilate the Turks entirely.
    • The end of season 3 introduces Ares, destined to fill in for Vasilius after the latter’s defeat at the hands of Ertugrul. Subverted when he later reforms and converts to Islam, while giving up his position of power in the process.
    • Season 4 gives us Tekfur Kritos, who holds a similar sentiment toward the Muslims as Vasilius and is inspired to attack them even more after his son’s death.

  • Lynyrd Skynyrd, defending the American Deep South against criticism from a Damned Yankee called Neil Young, agree in the ballad Sweet Home Alabama that not everything is idyllic in the South. But being Southerners, they argue N-Word Privileges apply and they have a right to criticise, where Neil Young doesn't. They were dismissive of old-time segrationalist state governor George Wallace and agreed he perhaps was not the right man to rule a Southern state in a Civil Rights era.
    ''In Birmingham they love the Governor (Boo, boo, boo!).
    But we all did what we could do;

     Religion and Mythology  

  • According to the Gospels, Pontius Pilate was the prefect (lower ranking governor) of Judea who presided at Jesus's trial. He found Jesus to be innocent of the charges but then he bowed in to political pressure and after symbolically washing his hands, he had Jesus crucified anyway. Jewish writings from the time period accuse Pilate of being corrupt, inflexible, vindictive and possessing a furious temper. He was unpopular among the Jews for his constant mishandling of religious matters including a massacre he ordered. Even Emperor Tiberius agreed he had gone too far (whereas usually Romans didn't care about Jews' treatment) and recalled him to Rome for possible trial (though his fate is unrecorded).

     Tabletop Games  

  • Warhammer 40,000
    • Planetary governors come in all sorts. Some actually take their jobs seriously, some are the product of centuries of inbreeding, some turn to Chaos out of boredom or ambition...
    • The governor in the Fire and Blood comic is actively working with the Tau against the Imperial Guard sent to protect his planet.
  • Warhammer Fantasy:
    • Zigzagged with the major human powers, the Empire and the kingdom of Brettonia. While it's a Crapsack World, extreme examples generally find themselves facing official reproach in the form of an army outside their gates.
    • It's said that a Bretonnian lord who goes overboard with the privileges of his position (Droit du Seigneur especially) will quickly find himself facing a coalition of his neighbors, not because he's evil but because he's making the aristocracy look bad.
    • One Imperial Elector Count was so hated that during his duel with a Champion of Chaos, his people actually cheered for the huge Tin Tyrant enthusiastically serving a Religion of Evil. The champion left the town intact, feeling strangely pleased.

     Video Games  

  • In Dawn of War: Dark Crusade, the Imperial Guard faction's general is named military governor of the planet, playing the trope straight if you're not playing as them.
  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has an example in the final boss, a crazy US Senator.
  • Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag: Governor Laureano de Torres y Ayala and Governor Woodes Rogers. While the former isn't an outright villain, he is the Grand Master of the Templars, and believes only the exceptional should advance in the world. The latter isn't outright evil as well, but is still a Templar.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution: A very minor example. Governor Phillip Mead of Florida. While he is never encountered in any of the games, he is in cahoots with the Illuminati and later, Majestic 12. He is the president by the time the original game rolls around.
  • Moff Kohl Seerdon is the main villain in Star Wars series Rogue Squadron.
  • Brigardier-General Mudi Nemda in Fullmetal Alchemist and the Broken Angel is the appointed military governor of Heissgart and also a corrupt Smug Snake that turned the police into his own private army, went rogue and aims to establish his own kingdom.
  • The villain of Yakuza: Like a Dragon is Ryo Aoki, the Governor of Tokyo whose goal is to achieve what he describes as "Front-facing Power" (public political power) and "Back-facing Power" (power over the criminal underworld) and has both a political NGO and the Yakuza at his disposal.

     Web Comics  

  • Ansem Retort
    • Zexion was elected governor of Pennsylvania. So far, he's stolen tax dollars to finance his best friend's wedding (just to prove he can) and invaded New Jersey. (Ironically, he would give up on running for President because the voters liked his crazy policies.)
    • In a more recent season, he sold New Mexico back to Mexico for the right of all US citizens to have sexy Latino names. His is Guillermo del Zexiero lo Marquis.

     Western Animation  

  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Mandalorian governor Pre Viszla initially appears to be a Reasonable Authority Figure that is loyal to Duchess Satine, but it turns out that he's the leader of the Death Watch, a faction trying to depose her and return Mandalore to its Proud Warrior Race Guy status from years ago. He even takes his helmet off to defy her, before trying to kill her himself.
  • Star Wars Rebels has the Imperial Governor Pryce of Lothal, who sold out her home planet to the Empire to advance her position and acts as a main antagonist for the Rebel heroes in Season 3, before her incompetence leads to Grand Admiral Thrawn calling the shots.
  • Zorro: The Chronicles: The Governor of California. While he doesn't oppose Zorro directly, his lavish parties (financed by heavy taxes placed on the people) and racist attitude toward the local Indian tribes put him at odds with the outlaw.