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Asskicking Leads to Leadership

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This trope is under discussion in the Trope Repair Shop.

"I'm the leader because I'm a very good fighter."

What happens when the people of the Planet of Hats believe Might Makes Right? They create a civilization, nation, or culture that bases its social hierarchy and governance on whosoever is strongest among them. Obviously, this is likely to lead to a lot of Klingon Promotions and/or Cain and Abels.

Usually, the base culture or organization is of The Social Darwinist variety or the Proud Warrior Race. They will benefit from great strength and martial ability, but don't expect them to put much value on teamwork. Their main problem will usually be that they place such importance on personal power that they eschew not just The Power of Friendship, but tactical cooperation, in favor of individual glory. This makes them vulnerable to cultures placing more value on teamwork, as the relatively weaker warriors will be far better coordinated.

The Leader of such a group is usually the Big Bad/Big Good with one or two Starscreams hovering near the main bad guy. Grunts will usually be sociopathic enough for the heroes not to feel bad about killing, but you can expect them to be especially easy to turn with displays of kindness because Machiavelli Was Wrong.

If they aren't evil, then expect them to swear everlasting fealty to the hero once he bests their leader in combat. (It's a good thing they don't usually switch to the villains' side when the hero loses that second act skirmish.) These types will benefit both from their Darwinian upbringing and The Power of Friendship to easily massacre most enemy mooks.

One thing they have going for them is that they acknowledge the same strength in outsiders, as well. If a Mighty Whitey manages to defeat one of them (indeed, the plot often requires that he does this) the majority will acknowledge him as the new leader. For an especially delicious twist, the leader of such a group will be an X hater (misogynist, racist, anti-human, whatever) and of course, a person from said group will beat them sooner or later and earn control of the tribe. (Heroes who do this out of necessity will usually renounce the position once they no longer need it and give it back to the old leader or another more worthy person.)

Neatly satisfies the Sliding Scale of Villain Threat and Sorting Algorithm of Evil. Avoids Villain Decay, as there is a logical reason for a bigger bad to replace the current one (although it better not be that Smug Snake). You can expect these groups to be easily divided by an Evil Power Vacuum or Enemy Civil War; it's often implied that should they ever get their act together or a strong enough leader to unify all of them, the heroes would lose handily.

Other exceptions are friends, in which case pissing each other off is often par for the course. Or if your boss is scarier. More positively, in organizations or cultures that are good, The Hero might earn their cred once they've bested a number of enemies, thus proving their worth. Think of it as attaining their Awesome Moment of Crowning through Moments of Awesome.

Not to be confused with Rank Scales with Asskicking, which often overlaps with this trope. The distinction depends on what type of story you're telling. A story about a contender rising through the hierarchy by kicking the asses of his rivals counts as Asskicking Leads To Leadership. A story about a hero confronting a villainous organisation whose members became ever tougher as he closes in on the leader counts as Rank Scales with Asskicking. In other words, if you're The Leader because you're the toughest, then that is this trope; if you're the toughest because you're The Leader then that is the other trope. Note that a leader who simply happens to be strong is neither trope.

When this trope backfires, the usual outcome is Gung Holier Than Thou - a leader who has no respect whatsoever of his subordinates, and who controls his minions solely by threat of physical violence.

A Sub-Trope of Superior Successor, due to the new authority kicking the old one's ass. Compare Heroism Equals Job Qualification and Challenging the Chief, which when one specific position in the hierarchy requires physical force but the whole system normally doesn't work this way. See also I Fight for the Strongest Side!.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • In Judge Dredd, in the aftermath of the Apocalypse War, a group of robots set up an independent city in the ruins of Mega-City One, with a wrestler droid as king. The law is that anybody who wants to change the way things are run must beat the king in a wrestling match.
  • Black Panther: In Wakanda, they hold a tournament where anyone can challenge the current king for the right to take the throne. Also, Erik Killmonger once briefly became the new Black Panther after killing T'Challa in combat, but (T'Challa got better).
  • The Incredible Hulk: The Hulk's been the king of a surprising number of worlds, most notably Sakaar in Planet Hulk. He was also the president of Australia in House of M.
  • In X-Men: The End, an Older and Wiser Kitty Pryde (not the best ass-kicker in the X-Men, but still a good one) becomes President of the United States.
  • The Sand Masters of White Sand have based their entire Fantastic Rank System on this — the more powerful the Sand Master, the higher he or she is in the diem, with Underfens being run-of-the-mill magic users and Mastrells — One Man Armies.
  • In the Joker graphic novel, Killer Croc is the leader of his gang due to his strength and intimidation. When Johnny tries to give him orders, Croc quickly puts Johnny in his place by picking him up singlehandedly and then hanging him from a hook.
  • Black Moon Chronicles: Hell is ruled by whatever demon is strong enough to fight off any contenders. For aeons, Lucifer kept the other princes in line by being a Bad Boss. When he goes missing with his army, Beelzebub takes over the vacant throne because no one dares to question him, as he immediately demonstrates by devouring a lesser demon who opposes.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Advancement in the Saturnian Empire's court is based on defeating foes through single combat and battle, and disastrous enough defeats result in the losers being stripped of their titles and enslaved.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): After the monarchy is abolished the Amazons, a people who famously value martial arts skills, immediately vote Artemis and Philippus, their two best fighters outside the royal family and Nubia whose other responsibilities made her ineligible, as their new rulers.
  • Monstress: In Issue #26, Maika arrives at Ravenna, an Arcanic city about to be besieged by the Federation. Finding that the city's political and military leaders have fled, leaving the city in panicked chaos, Maika declares that she'll be taking charge of the defenses... and singlehandedly kills a few soldiers who refuse to follow her lead. After that, everyone falls in line.
  • Those Who Speak: Given how the most badass warriors get to lead the Qunari armies, it stands to reason that to make an alliance, you first have to beat the crap out of them.
  • Alien vs. Predator: Discussed in the second, Predator-centric prologue. Tom Strandberg advances the idea with his copilot, Scott Conover, and Scott starts deconstructing it. Tom points out that human political infighting is Not So Different. And of course, the discussion is counterpointed by showing the Predators operating on literal Asskicking Equals Authority.
  • Star Wars Legends: Jedi Vs Sith had the Jedi Lords, former Jedi Knight Errants who protected vulnerable worlds from the Sith during the New Sith Wars on their own and were Offered the Crown by the grateful populace. Eventually they formed their own council rivaling that of the Jedi High Council, which led to the survivors being regarded as a political embarrassment and ostracized by the other Jedi after the war ended and The Republic demilitarized.
  • Superman:
  • The Eagles of Rome:
    • To unite the German tribes, Ermanamer has to prove his competence by defeating another German chieftain.
    • Meanwhile, Marcus has to cement his authority over a leaderless Roman garrison by dueling a defiant centurion who had become its leader prior to his arrival.
  • A Distant Soil: The Hierarchy has an internal pecking order based on personal psionic power. Niniri and Sere largely bully the rest, being the strongest psychics of the group. Niniri is the only member of the Ovanan race powerful enough to smack down Sere, and as a result, she is the leader of the Hierarchy and the de facto queen of Ovanan.
  • Ka-Zar: How Ka-Zar came to be known as the King of the Savage Land (not an official title, but one he does take seriously as the Savage Land's self-appointed steward).

    Fan Works 
  • Forum of Thrones:
    • The Ironborn are strong believers in this creed. It proves to be a problem for their king, Harren Hoare, whom many see as weak because he does not personally lead raiding parties like many kings before him did. To gain the respect of his men, he has no other choice but to rule his subjects through brutish force.
    • Argilac Durrandon, the Storm King, used to be the best fighter in his kingdom during his younger days. With his advanced age, he is no longer as skilled as he used to be, but still a fearsome warrior and worthy of his Memetic Badass status.
    • His daughter Argella is not much different. Physically, she is not particularly strong, but ever since she became the crown princess, her father subjected her to a rigorous training, to make sure that the future queen of the Stormlands is able to hold her own in any fight.
    • Willfred Reyne is a naturally talented fighter for sure, but his status as the heir to Castamere gave him access to training that really unlocked his true potential.
    • Aegon Targaryen is a lethal warrior with his sword, the Valyrian steel sword Blackfyre, as well as atop his dragon, the even more lethal Balerion.
  • The God Empress of Ponykind; after Celestia and Luna defeat Discord, the ponies beg them (mostly the former) to become rulers of Equestria, as no one else was strong enough to stand up to Discord, let alone defeat him.
  • Guardians, Wizards, and Kung-Fu Fighters:
    • After Rhouglar's death, Jade takes over his remaining men by knocking out their new leader and telling them she's in charge now.
    • It's made perfectly clear that Tarakudo became King of the Oni by fighting his way to the top.
  • Imperium of Vader: Vader's killing of Palpatine not only makes him the new Emperor due to the Sith order's tradition of Klingon Promotion, but also cows the entire Inquisitorius out of any thoughts of usurpation when they feel the final duel between the two through the Force and determine they don't stand a chance against Vader.
  • In The Institute Saga, a reformed Juggernaut ends up ruling Genosha because he ended the civil war there.
  • In the Fan Film Judge Minty, Aquila, the leader of the Cursed Earth outlaws, is by far the most dangerous member due to his vast telekinetic powers, which is presumably also the reason why he's in charge in the first place. When the rest of his gang is quickly picked off by the lizard creatures, he initially manages to hold them off repeatedly before numbers take their toll.
  • Saito Hiraga invokes this beautifully in Jus Primae Noctis when he storms into the tent with the rebel generals where they’re meeting under truce to negotiate and tells them to sit down, shut up, and surrender to Henrietta or he’ll kill them all. They're not technically bound to obey his orders, since they were trying to use this trope and stage a coup, but they submit.
  • J-WITCH Series: In Season 2, Drago, Raythor, Frost and Hak Foo fight each other for the right to lead the Knights of Vengeance, with Drago eventually coming out the winner.
  • In King of Thrones, Rodrik Harlaw's reputation as an undefeated duelist gives him more political power among the Might Makes Right culture of the Ironborn. Enough that Balon is wary of facing him.
  • The Night Unfurls:
    • Kyril's combat prowess is the reason why soldiers follow him and he has to lead them into battle. In particular, the original version has him earning the titles of knight and Lord Executioner respectively because of his asskicking.
    • Chapter 4 of the remastered version has a moment where Kyril lampshades how this trope makes no sense.
      "Kyril moved in silence. He fought and killed in silence, and the men who were nominally under his command knew that he was not to be messed with but followed him regardless of their feelings on the matter. Truth to be told, he was irritated at this situation. He did not lead men into battle, he was not a true soldier. Kyril was a killer, yes, but not a soldier. He did not know his flank from his foot, or the words required to rise men up.

      Hunters did not consider battle lines, the experience of the troops under their command, or what supplies they needed to wage war. Hunters killed, and that was it. What was Vault playing at, putting him in charge of these men? There were better options in his company for troop leaders."
    • For the Wild Ones, strength is what matters. Whoever is the strongest takes lead.
  • In Origin Story, Alex Harris is able to ignore the Metahuman Registration Act because, to be blunt, the only beings in the Marvel Universe powerful enough to enforce on her just don't give a damn about puny humans and their political squabbles.
  • In Paris Burning and the universe it inspired, personifications of cities compete fiercely for the right to be capital of their country. Depending on the traditions of the society and the temperaments of the combatants, these conflicts can be long campaigns of political intrigue and underhanded violence, or simple face-to-face duels.
  • In The Pirate's Soldier, Ayeka remarks that Heero's power alone would make him the legitimate heir to the throne of Jurai, as per the royal family tradition.
  • Want to know how to handle impatient hostages you're trying to rescue? Kick the crap of a Mecha Mook, which is what Rob Jackson did in Power Rangers GPX.
  • Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath's Star Trek TOS writings are all about this. Especially in The Prometheus Design wherein we learn that Spock has been living in a restrained world all these years. Vulcan superiority is their obsessive Author Appeal.
  • In Rivalry, for the Haddocks and Hoffersons, winning the honor of killing their first dragon after dragon-training is not just for bragging rights.
    Gobber: An' if Astrid or Hiccup wins, they will be declared Heir to the Throne of Berk, with all the rights an' privileges, blah blah blah.
  • Played straight in the Final Fantasy VII fanfiction Shinra High SOLDIER. Raw, one-on-one physical combat skill is the sole quality required to become the general of the entire Shinra army, by beating the previous one in the Challenges. Sephiroth, an 18-year-old who had been a soldier for only a few months, defeats Heidegger and becomes general of the entire army. His 16-year-old girlfriend Julia becomes commander by defeating Commander Kinneas.
  • In The Smeet Series, the Sobrekt have this as a key part of their culture, as all positions of authority (from ship captain all the way up to their supreme leader, the Shuryo) can have their incumbents be challenged by underlings, with a one-on-one fight settling the matter. The Irkens find this stupid, but it's pointed out that since they choose their leaders based on height, they have no right to judge.
  • In Son of the Sannin, after receiving the special chakra from Hamura Otsutsuki, Hinata's Byakugan evolves into the Tenseigan. This alone would make her more powerful than any other Hyuga alive once it fully matures, so her mother decides to step down as the clan head and name her as her successor.
  • In The Weaver Option Taylor learns that to claim their crown the ancient Aeldari Emperors were required to defeat a Phoenix Lord in combat and either command or kill 666,666 Aeldari nobles. Taylor, having met those requirements during the raid on Commorragh, is able to successfully name herself Empress because the Aeldari never though to exclude other races.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Book of Life, thanks to the Medal of Everlasting Life and Posada's training, Joaquin kicked enough ass to be second-in-command.
  • At the end of How to Train Your Dragon 2, Toothless becomes the Alpha after challenging and defeating bad guy Drago's enormous Bewilderbeast with the help of the rest of the dragons. The rest of the dragons and the Vikings bow down to him.
  • The Lion King 1 ½ portrays the Pridelands' monarchy this way. On the one hand, lions have much better homes than meerkats and get more respect. On the other, they have to actively protect said homes from usurpers, their jobs are much more complex than "scurry, sniff, flinch", and lions are so rare that they cannot abandon their roles for any reason. When a meerkat leaves his colony to find himself, there are no negative repercussions; when Simba does the same thing, animals die, and it's his responsibility to fix everything by attacking Scar head-on.
  • In Western Animation/Mulan, Li Shang is promoted to captain and put in charge of training new recruits thanks to his asskicking ability.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: Jack is the Pumpkin King not just because he's the scariest creature, but because he's also the toughest.
  • Up: The pack of dogs seems to work on this, as beating the Alpha makes you the new Alpha. Given that packs of wild canines usually do work this way, it's also Truth in Television.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Aquaman (2018): A member of the royal family can challenge the king to a trial by combat for the throne of Atlantis.
    "By bloodshed do the gods make known their will."
  • Avatar: Jake Sully proves himself the leader of the Na'vi by taking, as his personal mount, the biggest, baddest beast in the sky.
  • The Chronicles of Riddick (2004): As the Necromongers say, "You keep what you kill."
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: The apes believe in following the strongest. Caesar is forced to fight Koba to retake leadership after Koba's failed assassination attempt.
  • Doomsday: The tribe of not-so-friendly neighborhood cannibals uses this trope. At the end, the protagonist takes control of it by delivering them the head of their former leader.
  • Godzilla: He didn't earn the title "King of the Monsters" for nothing. Likewise his 2014 counterpart gets his title through this.
    • The MonsterVerse continuity makes this a part of it’s worldbuilding- the usual kaiju Red Barons that call them a King/Queen of something (King of the Monsters, Queen of the Monsters, King of the Primates, King of Terror, etc) have to be earned by the holder- usually by combat- and the possession of such a title grants a kaiju some degree of control over those who don’t. By what nature the control works is unknown, but it seems to be something between Mind Control and just instinctive nature for kaiju. Notably, Ghidorah doesn’t get called King Ghidorah until after he seemingly kills Godzilla in single combat, takes the “King of the Monsters” title from him, and proceeds to use his newfound position of authority to command the Earth’s Titans to awaken and assist him in bringing about his Apocalypse How. Holding a “King” or “Queen” title also seems to exempt one from another kaiju’s control- Both Mothra and Kong were unaffected by Ghidorah’s coup, and both take an active role in stopping him- Mothra fights alongside the Not Quite Dead Godzilla to assist him in reclaiming his throne, while Kong in the novelization fights the Skullcrawlers who have breached the surface to answer Ghidorah’s summons. Meanwhile, in the sequel, a large part of the reason for the conflict between Godzilla and Kong is that Godzilla views Kong as a threat to his dominance- and while Kong’s not interested in ruling the kaiju, he sure as hell doesn’t take kindly to Godzilla targeting him.
    • In-Universe, kaiju with a King or Queen title are called “Alpha Titans”, reflecting an inaccurate view of wolf pack hierarchy.
  • Idiocracy: Played for laughs, where President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho is porn superstar and five-time Ultimate Smackdown wrestling champion. Though he was presumably elected, and was popular because of the wrestling and porn. Seeing how physically unimposing but smarter than everyone else in that era Joe Bowers becomes president after him.
  • Jurassic World: The Indominus rex convinces Owen's Velociraptors to join her side, presumably by discussing her badassery with them. In doing so, she becomes their new Alpha. Owen realises this was possible because I. rex is part-raptor. Thankfully, he's able to use his Parental Substitute status to bring the sisters back to his side.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The Avengers (2012), Captain America has to rally the New York City police to respond to the invading aliens and evacuate the civilians. The police commander on the scene scoffs at Cap's orders, saying that he has no reason to listen to Rogers. Then three aliens suddenly leap down upon them, who Cap beats down in seconds with just his fists and shield. The police commander immediately spins around and begins relaying Cap's orders almost verbatim.
    • Black Panther (2018), the throne of Wakanda, and mantle of Black Panther, is passed from father to son, but during the coronation ceremony, anyone can challenge for the throne. The king is stripped of his enhanced abilities to make sure the best man wins, not just because of the Panther abilities. Killmonger succeeds at usruping the throne this way, although, when he denies a rematch with T'Challa, they fight for the throne with the full power of the Panther.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: When the crew of the Black Pearl is seconds away from mutinying, Captain Barbossa draws his sword and asks which one of them would be willing to challenge him for the captaincy. Everyone backs down, even though they're all immortal.
  • The Postman: The Holnists base their leadership on this. Any member can challenge General Bethlehem to be the new leader. The last man who did got both his tongue and balls cut off. However, it's used by the Postman at the end.
  • The Quick and the Dead: Herod is the mayor of a small town because he has the most hired muscle on his side and he is nigh unbeatable in a gunfight.
  • The Scorpion King: Laid out in the opening monologue.
    Narrator: "Before the time of the pyramids, a fearsome horde came from the East and swept across the barren lands of the ancient world. By the law of the horde, their greatest warrior was proclaimed their king."
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction: Optimus Prime earns the Dinobots allegiance by beating Grimlock in a fight.

  • Many regions of the Society for Creative Anachronism holds crown tourneys every six months where people fight in armored combat to determine who shall be the next king or queen of their kingdom.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Abraham Lincoln was able to use publicity from a wrestling match with Jack Armstrong to establish his political career.
  • Perhaps the practice became outdated after 1980 or so, but if you want to hold any National Wrestling Alliance Championship belt at the world level, you don't just have to be good at your job in the ring, you must also prove able to "win" when your opponent is not cooperating. Below world level, things are more relaxed. Since the World Champions have to be approved by the majority of the member promotions and are supposed to cross boarders, it was deemed easier to just put the belt on a good fighter than to keep up with who wouldn't "go into business for themselves" and risk an international dispute. That said, there have been quite a few "illegitimate" NWA champions, even at the world level. The practice is perhaps outdated because in the broken masquerade days of pro wrestling, a rogue promoter is more likely to be behind an unapproved title change than a wrestler. Still, hiring "hookers" to injure wrestlers during matches and wrestlers deciding to fight for real are things that have never really went away, which means the practice may never be done away with either.
  • While the practice is not universal regarding NWA titles below the world level, it does still apply sometimes. Well after the demise of the territories, NWA UK Hammerlock didn't just require holders of the British Commonwealth Title belt to be credible, they had to look credible too.
  • Jesse the Body Ventura, former Navy SEAL, former pro wrestler, first and only member of the Reform Party and governor of Minnesota. Our governor could beat yours.
  • The Great Sasuke ran for, and won, an assembly seat in Japan's Iwata Prefecture, and caused quite a stir by attending legislature sessions while wearing his mask.
  • This trope is one of the factors in New Japan Pro-Wrestling's direction during the 2000s. Wrestlers would be pushed solely for their success in mixed martial arts bouts, regardless of how well they wrestled or if it even made any sense. Things largely turned around in the 2010s.
  • Yoshiko wasn't the most over wrestler in Wonder Ring Stardom but she was 160 cm 75 kg with no immediately visible fat, thus a convincing champion on paper. She could fight too though and showed the contemporary audience what happens when a better fighter refuses to put over a more popular wrestler, the 163 cm 57 kg, blind in one eye, Act Yasukawa (Despite being beaten into a bloody mess, Yasukawa refused to let the match be stopped until it reached the previously decided finish, proving to be as worthy a pro wrestler as any).
  • Within Kayfabe this trope is in full effect. Not only do wrestlers win Championships by beating other wrestlers, anything, up to and including positions of authority and even serious legal disputes can be won or lost by winning or losing a wrestling match.

  • The titular Godmodder of Destroy the Godmodder is fabled throughout Minecraft and beyond as the only Omega+ godmodder in existence; the highest rank of godmodder. Of course, to do this, he had to get through all of the other tiers first, which requires tons of asskicking. That's why he's got the capital G.
    • As a whole, the Godmodding Scale/Ladder Enforces this. In order to rank up, you need to beat a godmodder of the imminently-higher rank, 99 times out of 100. There are ways to cheat this, but by far it's the easiest, which is saying something as almost all godmodders are The Juggernaut by default.

    Web Animation 
  • In Hazbin Hotel, the only real authority the denizens Hell respect is the ability to hurt people who cross you. Lucifer is the ultimate ruler because, as a former archangel, he outstrips everyone else by a wide margin, while his daughter Charlie is rarely given the time of day because she's too nice to regularly threaten people. Alastor got his position by curbstomping all competitors in a bloody rampage (and broadcasting it on radio).
  • RWBY:
    • The Great War only comes to an end after ten bloody years when the Warrior-King of Vale is forced to take to the battlefield on Vacuo. Legend claims that his actions are single-handedly so apocalyptic for everyone that the leaders of the other three kingdoms immediately surrendered and offered him their kingdoms. He was able to use the situation to broker a peace treaty at Vytal, force the kingdoms to all revisit and redesign the structure of kingdoms and how they're run, and create the four Huntsmen Academies. However, he refused control of the offered kingdoms and ended the Vale kingship, becoming a teacher at Vale's new academy.
    • Notably averted both with the titular team and huntsmen teams as a whole. Despite that the teams are made up of badass monster hunters, the leader is not necessarily its strongest member. Ruby, while undeniably strong, is hardly above her teammates and it's her sister Yang who ends up representing the team in the final stage of the Vytal Tournament. Even more visible with Jaune, who is actually the weakest member of team JNPR but is made a leader because of his tactical abilities... and likely because all his teammates are either too asocial, too submissive or too crazy to lead.
    • Deconstructed with Adam Taurus, a leader within the White Fang. His combat prowess earned him respect in the organization and leads the High Leader, Sienna Khan, to put Adam in charge of a White Fang cell in Vale. There, he garnered the attention of Cinder and her faction, who provide him with resources to expand his power. Eventually, he manages to kill Sienna and take over the White Fang as a whole, with many rank and file members approving of this based largely on Adam's reputation and fighting ability. However while he did well enough with running a cell within the group, he turns out to sorely lack the sort of leadership skills needed to manage the overall organization; he's too Ax-Crazy, spiteful, and generally unstable to be an effective head honcho. In the end the White Fang is destroyed after only a few months of Adam's leadership, because he is incapable of thinking in the long term or putting the needs of the group above his personal vendettas.

  • Blonde Sunrise:
    • The heir to the lycan queen gains her position by defeating every other eligible female lycan in a battle royale. Elaine is unusual for being strong enough to gain the position at a very young age, though some other lycans Leonard meets make the claim that she only won because those stronger than her were eliminated sooner.
    • Zigzagged in the case of lycan kings. The heir to the lycan king is normally chosen from birth by default, as it's believed that any male children of the king and queen are worthy simply by virtue who they're descended from. note  However, they can be challenged if perceived as unworthy for any reason, with the price of losing being banishment from their territory.
  • In Supernormal Step, Cavan Henderson was voted dictator of the United States because he single-handedly defeated Hitler... who was a little green gremlin.
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja one villain has a plan to take over the presidency by convincing Americans that it works this way. The arc ends with the good doctor pointing out all the many flaws in the plan.
  • Erika and the Princes in Distress : The Kingdom of Brutes follows this logic. Whoever manages to defeat the Queen in battle can rightfully take her place, and many women are hoping to do so before Erika becomes Queen herself, as they consider her too weak for the role and find the idea of dueling her instead of her mother humiliating because it would be too easy. Meanwhile, the weak are relegated to the poor district of the kingdom, and helping them out rather than letting them strive for themselves is highly frowned upon.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • This is the reason the imp offers for trying to attach itself to V.
    • There's also the quicker way to become the supreme leader of a rather large army.
    • Similarly, The Bandit King set up his band of bandits with this as a rule. Unfortunately for him, his daughter, a sorceress, grew up to be more powerful than he was. Then he takes the title back after his daughter is weakened by most of the party, and is accidentally knocked out by Durkon, who uses his authority to disband the bandits.
  • This is the way of the world in Gosu. Justified since it's set in a world of martial arts, where strength decides everything.
  • In Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures, this is the basis for most Creatures' system of (ahem) ethics. On the brighter side, it means revenge is pretty rare, since, by such logic, if you were defeated, you deserved to be.
  • In S.S.D.D. this is the basic principle of the Collective of Anarchist States' hierarchy, though most challenges are non-violent, a lower ranking Advisor is promoted if he challenges a superior's decisions and gets a better result. The CORE is a bit more Rank Scales with Asskicking due to their use of cybernetic implants.
  • In Strays, leaders fight for it — then, they are part wolf. Intervention of friends is dirty pool.
  • In Gone with the Blastwave the red army promotes solely based on kill count.
  • In TwoKinds the Basitin operate on this principle after the three generals are killed the succession is largely decided by means of duels, and the king is nearly eight feet tall, in a species that is rarely more than 5'5". They take this so seriously that Keith's trial for murdering two of the generals ends with him being named the fourth general, while the king's daughter has no special status afforded to her.
  • Exterminatus Now amusingly combines this with The Peter Principle. Antonius Schaefer is the main characters' superior and he is completely incompetent at his job, relying on his put-upon subordinate, Inquisitor Riktor to run things. However, when he gets a (false) lead on eBay being an international weapons' smuggling operation, he found that it actually was part of a criminal conspiracy and took it down.
  • In Girl Genius, this trope is how Baron Wulfenbach, the son of a minor noble house who had been missing for several years, managed to conquer the majority of a continent — the official motto of the Wulfenbach Empire is "Don't Make Me Come Over There" which pretty much sums up the Baron's response to everything.
    Klaus Wulfenbach: So I stopped [the war]. And I did it my way this time. No more negotiating. No more promises. No more second chances. And I did it alone. Because I had to. And it worked.
  • In Nebula, this is how the social structures in space tend to end up — the biggest and strongest ones there, the stars, control the smaller and weaker planets on the grounds that they're... bigger and stronger and they can burn people to death if they want to. How good of a job they do of it depends on the star, though most do seem to feel a genuine urge to protect their planets.
  • In at least one universe of the Dragon Ball Multiverse, this is how the Saiyan monarchy is determined: whoever kicks the most ass becomes king. Bardock takes advantage of that: when the Saiyans refused to believe him about Frieza planning to destroy them all, he challenged King Vegeta for the throne and won, giving him the authority to order the Saiyans to attack.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons:
    • This is the reigning philosophy in Creation, thanks to the erstwhile home of the Gods being settled by The Multiverse's preeminent wielders of Enlightenment Superpowers, falling to a centuries-long Universal War, and being divided among the final seven self-styled God Emperors to survive.
      Mathangi ten Meti, Murder the Gods and Topple Their Thrones: Reach Heaven through violence, then, girl.
    • This is also especially applicable to Devils: The only thing they ever respect is strength, which is part of why they sort themselves by caste. Their rulership is all Ebon devils (those who have whittled their names down to their only, True name), who oversee everything in their particular underworld... and keep their king, Himself, locked up. And yet despite being locked up in a Tailor-Made Prison and guarded by an entire council of Ebons, Himself is still their King, and everything in regards to Devilish affairs must pass by him - we are left to infer the horrifying levels of power that implies.
  • Guilded Age: A common trend with several races of the World's Rebellion, particularly the trolls and the landsharks.
  • How society works in the Unordinary world. You have status based on your power, though this includes people with noncombat powers that are useful to the powerful people as well, like the Living Lie Detector who works for the Authorities or Elaine with her Healing Hands.
    • This leads to John being kicked out of his first school: he was strong enough they couldn't control him and volatile enough to not cooperate, and in a world like this there's no room for someone like that in the system.
    • This is also probably why the vigilantes are being hunted down. Can't have people strong enough to change the system changing it in ways you don't like...
  • Unholy Blood: The generals of the powerful Vampire creator "God" are called the "Angels of death" and gain their position by defeating all competing vampires in their region. There are seven "Angels of death" in total, with each controlling a portion of South Korea and fending off any challengers to their spot.
  • Deconstructed in Rusty and Co. with the Princess. She started out as a "political placeholder" who was never expected or trained to actually rule, just sit on the throne and look pretty while the bureaucrats and politicians jockeyed for power and actually ran the country. Shortly before the start of the story she literally Took a Level in Badass, but she eventually realized that being able to punch out anyone who got in her way still didn't mean that she actually knew how to run a country.
  • Sleepless Domain: Team Alchemical decided that Tessa would be their leader purely because she has the strongest powers. Sally in particular comes to resent her over this, and a fight eventually breaks out between the two of them that kicks off the plot.
  • Strong Female Protagonist deconstructs this trope. Alison as Mega-Girl was the leader of her team simply by virtue of being the strongest and toughest member. This bothers her because she really isn't all that good at solving problems that can't be punched into submission, and leads to her quitting being a superhero on live TV before the story starts.
    Mega-Girl: I've been in the Pentagon like four times, but I'm not really even sure what the Pentagon does! I'm supposed to fight crime, but I don't even know how laws get passed! I mean, truth justice and the American Way? I stopped taking social studies when I was fifteen! I grew up in Westchester, and have never traveled anywhere else without this stupid domino mask on my face! Am I the only one who's scared that people are looking to me for answers just because I can lift a car over my head? This is crazy!
  • In Tower of God, there's a ranking system that gives everyone who's reached the highest floor a Rank based on their achievements — a literal number indicating how many places down they are from the top. It has been pointed out that Rank is not only based on power and combat ability. Well, that needed to be pointed out, since so much of it seems to be based on that. Two people eventually managed to reach a higher Rank than the God-Emperor himself, and they both did so by showing unprecedented power in combat.

    Web Original 
  • CJ DaChamp discusses this as part of his sketches. The Round Table of Black Air Force Activity is reserved only for people who have displayed the traits of a No-Nonsense Nemesis or have proven themselves to be sufficiently badass or terrorizing to their enemies in anime. CJ will add someone only after examining evidence of their badassery or skill.
  • Destroy the Godmodder: The Godmodder himself is the highest ranking godmodder in Minecraft. However, to the ascend the ranks of the godmodding tiers, one must defeat other equally powerful godmodders. It took a lot of asskicking for the Godmodder to reach the top.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged: Mr. Popo and his pecking order. And don't question about the pecking order at all.
    Mr. Popo: It goes: you, the dirt, the worms inside of the dirt, Popo's stool, Kami, then Popo. Any questions?
    Krillin: Uh yeah, I... (gets punched out of Kami's lookout) AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH! ("Krillion Owned Count: 3" pops up on the screen)
    Mr. Popo: Enjoy the climb back up, bitch!
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, the strongest and/or most cunning demons end up in leadership positions in the hordes. Anyone can challenge the current leader of any tier, and if the previous holder of the title is defeated, the victor takes the title.

Alternative Title(s): Achieving Authority Via Asskicking, Asskicking Achieves Leadership