Follow TV Tropes


Control Freak

Go To

"A certain kind of leader insists on controlling every aspect of an operation so that nothing can possibly go wrong. The downside to insisting on controlling everything is that when something bad happens, people tend to think it was all part of your plan."
Michael, Burn Notice ("Scatter Point")

Someone who is obsessed with doing everything rigid, proper, and by the book — even (or especially) if it interferes with doing it right.


On TV, a Control Freak is usually not the big boss; they act the way they do because they're stuck in a professional rut and they want out. Most end up as big fish in small ponds, abusing what little authority they have and hopelessly trying to impress the boss by forcing underlings to fill out all forms in triplicate with identical number-two pencils. They will brook absolutely no dissent from those below them — for the Control Freak, it's My Way or the Highway.

Every Control Freak specializes in endless stories about their past achievements, usually involving the military and usually bogus.

With a bit more power, they're the Obstructive Bureaucrat. Ten steps beyond that is The Chessmaster. Often closely related to Pride and Despotism Justifies the Means — it is common for dictators, whether an Evil Overlord, enforcer of The Empire, or some other incarnation of Order Is Not Good, to have this trait. The Neidermeyer and the Sadist Teacher are usually this.


Not all Control Freaks are self-serving Glory Hounds per se; some may have perfectly kind intentions, but their egos drive them to think said kind intentions can only be set out through their way of doing things and if they are forceful enough in their ideals people will naturally see they are for the best of everyone. Several realistic mental disorders, such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, can also drive otherwise pleasant people to demand things just so almost subconsciously. Most Rightly Self-Righteous characters become insufferable to others due to acting like this.

When it's parents that are involved, they're usually either a My Beloved Smother or Fantasy-Forbidding Father. If said parent is in show business, they're likely to be a Stage Mom.

Not to be confused with the Teen Titans villain named Control Freak.



    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Nagisa's mother Hiromi in Assassination Classroom wants to control her son's life so she can live vicariously through him and experience all the things she never got to. Invoking Dude Looks Like a Lady on him and trying to force him down the path she had set for herself.
  • Berserk: Griffith obviously believes that he can use his comrades whenever and however he feels like. But when Guts and Casca have plans outside of his control? NOthat will NOT be permitted!
    Griffith: You will fight for my cause because you belong to me. I will decide the place where you die.

  • Fruits Basket:
    • As their God, Akito Sohma firmly believes she can use the Zodiac whenever and however she feels like; this was instilled in her by her father and the Sohma retainers, who outright told her that she was "born to be loved" and that the Zodiac members exist solely to live and die for her. If they even think of having plans or lives outside of her total control, she'll use any means necessary, from intimidation to physical violence, to ensure they don't follow through with it.
    • Yuki's mother expects him to follow her orders without question and has no interest in his personal desires, only caring about how she can use him to further her own social standing. During the parent/teacher conference, she reveals she's planned out Yuki's entire future without consulting him, and when Ayame intervenes and tells her off for her controlling nature, she loses her temper and snaps that she never should have given birth to either of her sons simply because they're not doing what she wants.
  • In Future Diary Yuno had a control-freak mother who measured everything she did from how many hours she got to sleep to how many calories she had a day. She also kept her in a cage and starved her in an effort to raise her to be a model person. If you ever wondered why Yuno is so utterly messed up, look no further.
  • Kageyama in Haikyuu!! was one prior to his Character Development. He had an aggressive, domineering personality that caused him to scream at his teammates for being unable to keep up with him, and his selfish, bossy attitude led to them calling him the "King of the Court". Eventually, they got sick of him and refused to cooperate with his plays, leading him to be benched for the rest of junior high and all the top volleyball high schools rejected his application as a result.
  • Bright Noa is one of these early on in Mobile Suit Gundam trying to control the lives of everyone in the crew. Given the stress he's under note , it's not surprising and he loosens up as the show goes on.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny's Big Bad Gilbert Durandal is one, and it becomes his Fatal Flaw. His inability to abide unpredictability causes him to antagonize a number of very powerful people long before he needed to (notably trying to assassinate Kira Yamato and Lacus Clyne, thus ensuring they would be his mortal enemies for the unprovoked attack), eventually bringing his plans crashing down.
  • My Bride is a Mermaid: Mawari Zenigata is this to the extent that others refer to her as the "demonic" head of the disciplinary committee.
  • In One Piece, befitting for his "puppet master" theme, Doflamingo has a huge obsession of being in control. His Devil Fruit is a string Fruit that lets him manipulate people like puppets. He fully expected his crew to act as sacrificial pawns if required and he was furious when Law escaped from his control. For thirteen years, he continued to refer to Law as his subordinate and even went as far as to say he "owns" Law.
  • Chiri of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, who, like everyone else in the show, is an extreme exaggeration. Even her Cross-Popping Veins appear neatly and symmetrically.
  • Sword Art Online:
    • Asuna's mother, Kyouko, wants to ensure a good future for Asuna, but her methods of doing so are by trying to control every aspect of her daughter's life, from her education institution to her future spouse. She mellows out over time.
    • Quinella is a corrupt, narcissistic, and callous psycho who is not above killing, torturing, and brainwashing anyone to keep the Underworld for herself, and refuses to tolerate the existences of fighting forces she is unable to control, though her methods of doing so are different from the standard. She spends most of her time asleep in order to preserve precious memory space, but the laws she placed over the land and its people might as well be God-given edicts to follow consciously or subconsciously given her Authority and are enforced by her Integrity Knights. In the backstory, while she fused with the Cardinal System to regulate Underworld, her original intention was to outright steal its powers and authority for herself.
  • A Wild Last Boss Appeared!: Alovenus, the Goddess of the world, dislikes anything that goes off-script. The flugel who could create Golden Apples were punished and eventually phased out because power-leveling disrupts the balance of her world, for example, and also the main reason why Ruphas is her Archenemy: Ruphas can make Golden Apples and distribute them so others grow beyond the constraints of her "script", and eventually made it her mission to be a thorn in her side, making herself the biggest rebel in existence in Alovenus eyes, and thus someone she has to get rid of.
  • In Sherry Belmont's backstory from Zatch Bell!, her mother is shown to be one of these, dictating pretty much how she lived her life, putting her through Training from Hell, and coming inches from sending her over the Despair Event Horizon.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • Batman might be the poster boy for this trope. He meticulously plans out everything and is unable to deal if any little thing goes not according to plan. In the Justice League of America: Tower of Babel storyline, Ra's al Ghul is able to use his plans to take down the Justice League of America (you know, his friends). He unconditionally trusts probably three people: Alfred, Dick Grayson, and Leslie Thompkins. He also micromanages his kids' every move, inside and outside the context of being superheroes. This is somewhat Truth in Television as research shows that people who had some sort of childhood trauma grow up to be controlling adults. When something bad happens to you when you're a kid, there's nothing you can do because you're just a kid, however, once you're an adult you can control things better to not have it happen again.
    • Deathstroke has a warped sense of familial responsibility but also enjoys using drugs to keep control over younger heroes he's "taken" on as proteges. This includes his daughter Rose Wilson, even after her drug-induced psychosis made her gouge out an eye, Cassandra Cain in an effort to take revenge on the Bat Family taking Rose from him, one of the explanations as to why the first Terra had a manic breakdown, and later with Roy Harper after his daughter died via getting Roy unknowingly addicted to Bliss.
  • The leaders of the Pro-Registration side during Civil War (mainly Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic) come off as this, insisting that their calculations show that instituting the Superhuman Registration Act is the only way to go and having no qualms resorting to controlling supervillains, imprisoning people in a hellish other dimension and cloning the thought-dead Thor in order to get their way.
    • In one notable What If?, the Watcher shows Tony alternative ways the event could have gone: in one universe Iron Man is killed early on and Henry Gyrich, who is even more of a control freak, takes over, ending with just about all the superhumans dead. When Tony claims that this proves that he was right, the Watcher shows him another universe where instead of trying to control Captain America and the Anti-Registration Side, he genuinely reaches out to them to explain his thoughts, leading to a unified front that leads to a more utopian outcome (superhumans still need to register, but clauses like forcing them to work for the government when called upon are removed).
  • Leetah in ElfQuest considers herself one of these: she wants to have complete control over her healing powers, going so far as to stab herself in the stomach to force her powers to surge. Granted, she was reacting to severe emotional trauma at the time, but she's admitted that the attitude extends to her daily life and her family. Often, her first reaction to panic is to take charge, heal everything in sight, fix what can be immediately fixed (even if it's a terrible idea to do so) and have a proper emotional breakdown later.
  • New Gods: Darkseid is a highly extreme example. He wishes to impose not just his rule, but his will, upon every single sentient being in the universe. He considers free will a threat to him, so he seeks the Anti-Life Equation to eliminate free will and impose only his own will upon the universe. He actually gets to use the Anti-Life Equation in Final Crisis, taking over The Multiverse in doing so.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics):
    • Sally Acorn had shades of this in the earlier, more comical issues, usually butting heads with the reckless and free-spirited Sonic as a result. This was diluted as the stories matured, the rare occasions she delves back in this trope are more Played for Drama.
    • This trope is the entire reason Dr. Eggman comes into conflict with Sonic and the Freedom Fighters during the Shattered World Crisis. In a nutshell, he wants to be the one in charge of when and how the world is put back together.
  • Superman:
    • Brainiac is another extreme example. He travels world to world, stealing technology and culture and then destroying the worlds, keeping one city bottled up for him to remember it by. He hates any situation in which he is not in control, despises developments that are not supervised by him, and would sooner see the universe remain in stasis or be reduced to nothingness than let it change.
    • Lex Luthor is definitely one. A Corrupt Corporate Executive, Mad Scientist, and Diabolical Mastermind all in one, he slowly built his control over Metropolis to the point he controls the media, politics, and even the criminal element of the city. One of the main reasons he hates Supes so much is that he can't exert his control over him in any way, thus he pours millions of dollars into giving himself comparable power just to prove he's superior.
  • Getaway from The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye proves to be this. On the surface, he's a friendly guy willing to do anything for the crew, but scratch that surface and you'll find a possessive and controlling narcissist who's deluded himself into thinking he's destined to be Prime. He basically expects everyone to unhesitatingly do what he says, believing that everything would be perfect if people would just shut up and listen to him. Getting contradicted, disrespected, or disobeyed in any way sends him on childish temper tantrums; at one point he goes into a psychotic fit of rage because somebody refused to answer his phone call. Eventually, everybody catches on to the fact that he's a lying nutcase and refuse to follow his orders anymore. Getaway responds by using his nudge gun to brainwash them before they can leave the ship so that they have to do what he says.
  • X-Men:
    • Deconstructed with Cyclops; while being a control freak makes him an effective leader and strategist, it's also the main reason he doesn't get along with his teammates outside of a combat setting (especially Wolverine). It's been made clear that because his powers are uncontrollable, Cyclops compensates by attempting to have total control over every other aspect of his life.
    • Cyclops' son, Nate Grey a.k.a. X-Man, is prone to this as well, for similar reasons — his powers are vast and for a long time, next to impossible to completely control, and he had legitimate reason to be afraid that he would rewrite reality in his sleep. Plus, he grew up as part of a band of wandering guerrilla fighters in the dystopian Age of Apocalypse reality (and just plain homeless when he ended up in the main Marvel Universe, until he eventually wound up living on Utopia, then in San Francisco with the New Mutants). Like his father, this makes him an excellent strategist, but not very good with people, and this, combined with his obsession with preventing Earth-616 from becoming like his homeworld, ultimately led to him creating the terrifyingly upbeat alternative in the form of Age of X-Man, enforced with memory wipes, mind-control, and secret police. His entire Character Development in the latter was about letting go.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin once asked his father what the term meant. The very favorable definition he received ("That's what lazy, slipshod, careless, cut-corner workers call anyone who cares enough to do something right.") led Calvin to wonder aloud, "Am I in the presence of their king? Should I kneel?" Note that Calvin's dad is a patent attorney.

    Fan Works 
  • Leviathan from Avatar of Victory really doesn't like people touching his things and screwing up his plans. When Shepard frees the Prothean he's using to spawn Collectors, he throws what amounts to a child's temper tantrum and ups his efforts to kill them.
  • Child of the Storm has this as one of Doctor Strange's defining traits, to the point where he almost literally falls apart when things go off his pre-determined rails. However, he doesn't meddle with everything (sometimes he doesn't need to, and in general, he prefers to guide things and people so that they'll follow his preferred course anyway), and it is justified by the fact that he's got the road-map to defeating Thanos in his head. This is part of why the Avengers continue to tolerate him after all the shenanigans he pulls - though it's also why he has a very strained relationship with Wanda Maximoff, his former Apprentice and foster-daughter, and Thor has to restrain the occasional homicidal impulse around him.
  • Spectrem in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World. At least, he attempts to be one. George and Paul won't let him.
    • Probably Simon too.
  • The One to Make It Stay depicts Alya as one, especially when it comes to her Shipper on Deck tendencies:
    • Despite Marinette's clear discomfort with her Zany Schemes to help her get closer to Adrien, Alya continuously strong-arms her into participating. When this continues after she's already given up on him and started dating Luka, Marinette puts her foot down and outright refuses... only for Alya to stage an 'emergency meeting', inviting all the other girls to the bakery and attempting to force her into another scheme. Followed by trying to override Marinette's attempts to send the others away so they can talk privately, with Marinette having to point out that they're currently in her room, in her house, which she invited herself and the rest of them to without permission.
    • Alya also sees nothing wrong with heavily editing footage she secretly took of one of Chat Noir's Love Confessions to make it seem as though Ladybug returned his feelings, then posting it on her Ladyblog as an 'exclusive scoop'. When Ladybug confronts her about this, she's completely dismissive of her feelings, even suggesting that Ladybug is somehow being unreasonable for wanting control over her own image or who she dates.
    • Side story The Hour Glass is Drifting Away touches on Nino's discomfort with her efforts, revealing that she forced her way into the trip to the wax museum when he originally just wanted to have some 'bro time' with his pal. He was also uncomfortable with her plans to post that footage on her blog, but didn't speak up... and when Ladybug gently confronts him on this, recognizes that he made a mistake and accepts being benched for the summer with grace.
  • Harry is an interesting variation of this in The Power of Seven, where circumstances have led to him forming a 'harem' of seven witches. While Harry isn't a 'control freak' in the sense that he 'needs' to control everything, characters note that he has lived his entire life with other people making decisions for him and causing him various degrees of pain. As a result, his relationships with Katie Bell and Demelza Robbins in particular help him cope with his lack of control; Katie is a more experienced lover who is able to 'domme' Harry in a subtle, nurturing manner that encourages him to accept her authority without forcing him to obey her, while Demelza's absolute surrender of control to him helps Harry feel like he can cope with the burdens placed on him.
  • Jacques was already this in canon, but his Ruby and Nora counterpart is this to such an extent he willingly signed up with Salem to control Atlas.
  • Soul Eater: Troubled Souls turns Medusa Gorgon into one of these. In one part of the Cobra Island Arc, she is noticeably frustrated and fidgety during the maze level. She expected Maka and everyone else to struggle hopelessly as they encounter death trap after death trap while being on the clock. What instead happens is they put their heads together and rally through the maze with ease. When the game inevitably goes awry, Medusa is ecstatic that she is back in control. Furthermore, there is the haughty and superior attitude she displays toward Shaula. Finally, Crona’s shadow, who is pretty much Medusa’s mouthpiece, tells Crona how he/she is nothing without her. All in all, Medusa can’t stand not being in control of people she deems lesser.
  • Wish Carefully: Lord Voldemort is this upon gaining control of Wizarding England, to the extent that Lucius Malfoy states that the very term doesn't even begin to describe him. Once in power, he instated a series of draconian laws that control every aspect of everyone's day. One example is making it mandatory to take the Dark Mark when one comes of age.
  • Notably, while Paul is a Real Life Control Freak, he doesn't exhibit much of that in With Strings Attached, probably because he's not got a lot of control over his own body, let alone the circumstances the four have been thrust into.
  • As in Power of Seven, control in a sexual environment is a key aspect of the relationship in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfic series "Wuffara Chronicles", as Buffy is dominated by Tara while Willow is Buffy's sub; Buffy reflects that she is tired of having to be in charge all the time, which allows her to revel in the opportunities to submit to Tara, while controlling Willow helps her feel as though she has taken charge of something in her life (Willow and Tara's roles in the dynamic are fundamentally more straightforward, with Tara appreciating a sense of power after so long being abused by her family while Willow has always been driven to excel to gain attention).

    Films — Animated 
  • Barbie:
    • Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses: Duchess Rowena goes out of her way to crush the sisters' free spirits and confidence, forcing them all to dress alike and engage only in "ladylike" tasks.
    • Barbie in the Pink Shoes: Kristyn does not much care for the stern Madame Natasha and her insistence that Kristyn's unique style makes for improper ballet dancing. Her counterpart in the Ballet Realm is the Snow Queen, a tyrant who viciously enforces "perfection".
  • Count Dracula from Hotel Transylvania goes to extreme lengths to keep his daughter safe. He even built an entire village and dressed all his zombie employees up as townsfolk in order to convince her that humans were evil. He also insists on taking an active role in every aspect of running the hotel. He even corrects his friends when they call him "Captain Control Freak" by telling them that it's "COUNT Control Freak".
  • Mr. Huph, Bob's boss in The Incredibles is certainly a cut from this mold. Granted, Bob isn't a great employee for an insurance firm (given his conscience won't let him deny any claims), but Huph's pure bullying nature and reactions of offended dignity point to Bob not quite being the problem here. He even gives Bob a pre-planned disciplinary speech much like the "monologues" given by the super-villains Bob used to fight as Mr. Incredible. While cartoonish, his comeuppance is way too satisfying to watch. The commentary on the DVD reveals that director Brad Bird, who had been fired from his first two jobs, had middle-management bosses like Huph.
  • Joy from Inside Out is decidedly more upbeat and wacky than most examples of this trope, but she's still an example; she's the leader among Riley's emotions and the others happily take orders from her, but her determination to keep Riley from ever experiencing anything short of perfect happiness is such that she prevents Sadness from doing her job, even drawing a chalk circle and ordering her not to step outside of it.
  • President/Lord Business from The LEGO Movie; everything in his city runs on conformity and following the rules, and his Evil Plan is to glue everything down so that no one can mess with his things. The Man Upstairs, whom Lord Business is partially based off, is just as much of a control freak, but he changes his ways when he sees just how creative his son is and that his son made him the villain of the story.
  • In Sing, this is one of Buster's main character flaws. While he means well, his micromanaging of the acts in the show leads to many things that make the performers uncomfortable, such as making Rosita and Gunther a team act (despite having just met), making Johnny play a piano (despite being years out of practice), and making Ash dress and sing like a pop princess (even though she's a tomboy who prefers rock). In the end, though, this all works out for the best — Rosita and Gunther make an excellent team, Johnny turns out to have a natural talent for the piano, and Ash combines the dress she's given with her normal outfit to create a glam rock look (and switches out her initial song with one of her own writing, again at Buster's insistence).
  • Rabbit of Winnie-the-Pooh whose over-attention to detail and zero tolerance for his friends' nonsense often leads to him acting like this. A nightmarish dream sequence in Springtime For Roo portrays his overbearing demeanor as becoming so intolerable that everyone in the Hundred Acre Wood leaves home just to get away from it all.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Control Freakery (to the point of rejecting the world as it is, in all of its unmitigated suck) is a major flaw of most of the characters in Brazil who are not heroes, love interests, or ninja plumbers. If there is something wrong going on, they just assume that it's not their department or that it's "terrorist sabotage" and either ignore it or arrest and torture whoever they suspect is the "terrorist" in question.
  • "Ace" Rothstein in Casino. Such a perfectionist that he insists on an equal number of blueberries in every muffin. While it's not a Fatal Flaw in the sense that it gets Ace killed, the exact moment things definitely started to go to hell for the entire cast is when Ace fired an employee he considered incompetent (and absolutely refused to hire him again in any other capacity when asked to reconsider by the employee's brother-in-law) without caring that the Clark County Commission chairman (the aforementioned employee's brother-in-law) would develop a vendetta over it.
  • The Cat in the Hat: Sally is stated to have ended two of her friendships because the friends in question either didn't let her be the head chef while they were baking or because they talked back to her. The Cat's "phunometer" even explicitly labels her a control freak.
  • Francis Whitman from The Darjeeling Limited starts out like this. He acts incredibly controlling towards his two brothers (Even ordering their meals for them at first) and has their entire journey through India already planned out. We meet his mother at the end of the movie where it turns out she has similar qualities.
  • First Officer Lieutenant Martin Pascal in Down Periscope is The Neidermeyer and has a constant need to get in people's faces and yell at them when they are doing something wrong (although in his defense in at least one case, Buckman (the ship's cook) is definitely doing things wrong). It ends up backfiring on him hard when he tries to pull (what he believes is) an Anti-Mutiny and he's instantly mobbed by the rest of the crew.
  • Wade Gustafson from Fargo is a controlling jerk who can’t trust his son-in-law with even the most basic of tasks. Even when his daughter is kidnapped and the kidnappers give specific instructions to have Jerry handle the money, Wade insists on doing it himself because he thinks he’s the only one smart enough to do it. He seems to think he can browbeat the whole world into bowing to his whims, which gets him killed when he tries it on Showalter, who simply whips out a pistol and shoots Wade dead.
  • In Inside Daisy Clover, producer Raymond Swan (Christopher Plummer) basically wants total control over the life and career of Daisy Clover (Natalie Wood), which she deeply resents. It includes drastic invokedContractual Purity, faking her past to sell her as "America's Little Valentine" instead of the near-hobo she was, and he even wants to prevent her from seeing her mother again (which he later recedes on). He also doesn't want his actor Wade Lewis to ruin it via his romance with Daisy.
  • Harlan, the murdered victim, in Knives Out. His mug "My House, My Rules, My Coffee", seen in the opening scene, even before the audience sees Harlan himself, says a lot. He also keeps his family on a tight leash, either intentionally or unintentionally, putting them in charge of aspects of his business or keeping them dependent on him for loans or college tuition, under his exact stipulations. What he says, goes, and those that don't fall in line will get cut out of his will.
  • Clarence Day Sr. of Life with Father tries to be this in his attempts to run his household on "a business basis," the same way he manages his business as a stockbroker. It very rarely goes as he wants it thanks to his wife being perfectly willing to do things her own way and his sons creating all sorts of minor chaos... leading to his frequent outbursts of "oh, gad!"
  • J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) in Now You See Me. This proves to be a plot point, as the FBI finds out he likes to keep track of his entire crew by making them wear GPS bracelets. The FBI try to use them to spy on the Horsemen, except they manage to slip one of the trackers into a lead agent's pocket, causing him to run around New Orleans chasing himself. However, given The Reveal, it's possible he knew about the tracker in his pocket and was deliberately making a fool of himself to keep the other agents following him and not the Horsemen.
  • One Night of Love: Giulio the voice coach, to his student, would-be opera singer Mary. He demands and gets full control of her life while training her to be an opera star, right down to who she sees and what she eats. One scene has Mary getting annoyed when Giulio orders a sumptuous steak dinner at a fancy restaurant but only lets Mary have the peach Melba.
  • Terence Fletcher of Whiplash, an unforgiving psychopathic perfectionist who will try to find a great musician by any means necessary. A turning point is when protagonist Andrew arrives late without his drumsticks. Doesn't matter if Andrew is the core drummer, or if the replacements could borrow their sticks, Fletcher won't let him play. So Andrew drives back to get the sticks and his car is hit by a truck. No wonder Andrew tackles Fletcher later, he nearly died simply because the Sadist Teacher was an overtly methodical asshole.
  • Abby in Wine Country. She put together a very detailed itinerary and tries to follow it to the letter, which eventually gets on the others' nerves. It is later revealed that this is because she just lost her job and is trying to find something that she's in control of.
  • Yves Saint Laurent: Pierre Bergé, the lover and business partner of Broken Ace fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, must control every aspect of their business and personal lives to keep Yves sane enough to work. He's sometimes tyrannical, sometimes loving and, in the end, protects Yves from destroying himself. It's dysfunctional but it works for both men.

  • In 1984, the Party are extreme control freaks, and nowhere is this more evident than in the concept of Thoughtcrime — they have made even thinking against the government a crime.
  • Warlord Leon Abbott, Big Bad of Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony and supreme leader of the demons following their exile. He expects all other demons to share his ideals, controls their lives to the point of choosing names for them when they reach adulthood, and inflict humiliating punishments on anyone who he thinks is a dissenter.
  • Brother Jerome in the Brother Cadfael novels and television series.
  • In the Descent novelization, this is St. John's largest character flaw. To his credit, he does recognize this after the first book and begins taking steps to tone it down.
  • Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter series. This gets even better/worse when she quite obviously doesn't practice what she preaches. She intends on using the torturing spell, the Cruciatus Curse, on Harry to get information on Sirius' location, but Hermione says that it's illegal to use it on another human being (It is.) Umbridge decides to use it anyway since "what Fudge (the Minister of Magic) doesn't know won't hurt him!"
    • Vernon and Petunia Dursley are more comedic examples of this. They're quite proud of the totally mundane middle-class life they live and go to great lengths to keep it up. While they and their son have little trouble with this, this trope comes into play in regards to the strange things that happen because Harry's a wizard. Even seemingly harmless things, like Ron thinking he had to yell through a phone or Mrs. Weasley covering an envelope in stamps because she wasn't sure how many were meant to go on for Muggle post, get the Dursleys angry simply because they hate any magical-related things interfering with their lives.
  • Charlie, a middle-manager in the tooth-fairy operation in the Discworld novel Hogfather, and the subject of the above quote. Takes severe pride in his work (making sure the cart-driver signs his paperwork), is quick to make it clear that any problems are someone else's fault, would be on a tropical island if the organisation didn't need him; and has never wondered what happens to the teeth, because that's not his job.
  • Curran from Kate Daniels fits this in the extreme. He cares about his people, but it turns out that due to childhood trauma his main motivator is that he is hellbent on keeping his future family safe. Forcing the various shapeshifter Clans to make peace and work together, shaping them into the Pack single-handedly? All so his future mate would never be caught in the crossfire between Clans. Building the Keep, which is a huge sprawling castle designed to be easily defended, and can protect about 1500 shapeshifters? All so his mate and children would have a safe place to live. Unfortunately, he didn't count on falling for Kate, who rebels against all authority by nature. Naturally, this causes tension.
  • In Stephen King's The Shining Ullman the hotel manager is like this. Jack Torrance thinks he is an "officious little prick" and this opinion is shared by more than one member of the Overlook's staff.
    • Even though most of the staff consider Ullman an officious little prick, they admit that he's good at his job. Watson, the maintenance man, who HATES Ullman admits that Ullman is good at what he does and definitely earns his salary. Ullman is the first manager of the Overlook who's ever turned a profit for the place.
    • From the same author, It gives us Tom Rogan, who micromanages every single aspect of his wife Beverly's life and beats her when she doesn't do exactly what he wants. It's not made entirely clear whether he carries this attitude to work with him, or if his wife is the sole victim of it.
  • Malediction Trilogy: Troll prince Tristan. He is so single-mindedly devoted to his one cause (overthrowing his father and improving the lives of his subjects) that he wants to control everything: those around him (and he has magical means to do it), his speech and facial expressions, even his feelings for his wife. He gets called upon it. Several times.
  • Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and its film adaptation. A sociopathic Battleaxe Nurse who runs the mental hospital with an iron fist while using her position to bully, intimidate, torture, and lobotomize the patients in her care and accepting no challenges to her authority.
  • Arin in The Outcasts is obsessed with order in his personal life. He uses the eagles to drive away the nearby villages so that their relative disorder does not upset his life.
  • In Pride and Prejudice, there is only one correct way to do things, and that is Lady Catherine de Burgh's way... at least, in her head it is, and she's very fond of loudly and at length explaining to people what they should be doing. And as she's one of the landed gentry, people are very reluctant to disagree with her. This leads to a certain amount of tension when she eventually meets Elizabeth Bennet, who is not the sort of person to let other people push her around and bully her. Especially when one of the things that Lady Catherine believes is the "wrong" way of doing things is Elizabeth getting married to Mr. Darcy...
  • The Saga of Seven Suns has Chairman Basil Wenceslas, whose pretensions to Magnificent Bastardry fail because he wastes too much time and effort trying to dominate the teenage king Peter. Even though Peter is The Good King, and would be quite happy to work with Basil for the good of the people, Basil's refusal to accept anything less than subservience from the "intractable" king greatly undermines his own position, and leads him into acts of petty dog-kicking out of simple spite. These tendencies eventually take him past the Moral Event Horizon and into his prolonged Villainous Breakdown, during which he becomes even more controlling, and alienates previously loyal subordinates.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has a lot of nobles who are accustomed to total obedience and so come across as this. Tywin Lannister takes the cake, however, as he dictates every little detail of his family's lives, and goes well past the Moral Event Horizon to prevent Tyrion "dishonouring" the family in any way. Even the family members he actually likes get disowned if they defy him, even if they were still loyal to the family.
  • Alice Cullen of Twilight often comes across as this. She dictates what clothes her family wears and apparently rarely allows them to wear the same things twice. Throughout the series, she also forces Bella to act as a living Barbie, making her put on make-up and dresses Alice approves of and forcing her to go to dances Bella has no interest in attending. When she finds out that Bella simply wants a shotgun wedding without any fancy ceremonies, she promptly guilt-trips Bella into letting her arrange a massive wedding, even though the Cullens periodically re-marry for public appearances and thus there's no shortage of weddings to plan. In one of the outtakes, Alice is so determined to make Bella wear an outfit she approves of that she forces Bella to wear stiletto heels while Bella's in a foot cast and on crutches, has her broken foot be given a pedicure, and gives serious thought to removing the cast early just so Bella can wear matching shoes.
  • In the seventh Warrior Cats arc, the impostor possessing Bramblestar's body. He becomes extremely strict on enforcing the rules, not only within ThunderClan but the other Clans as well, and begins to exile any cat who speaks against his behavior. He even starts checking on what his Clanmates are doing at all times and butting in on private conversations just to make sure they're not doing anything he doesn't want.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Any competitive reality game show that forces people to work together will always have at least one person being the control freak of the group that pisses everyone else off to no end.
  • The Affair: In Season 3, Noah's sister Nina accuses Helen of having control freak tendencies, and that she was mostly attracted to Noah because she wanted to nurture someone who was in emotional pain (Noah's mother had recently died when they met in college). She seems to be mostly oblivious to this, coming across as much more emotionally manipulative in Noah's POV than her own.
  • Cindy from Season 19 of The Amazing Race admitted to being one of these, and pretty much confirmed it by controlling her fiance throughout the season. Before the race she made him prepare with her for any possible situation, including studying geography, intensive language courses, and rock climbing.
  • Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory is really bad with this. He made his roommate sign an agreement dictating at what time he could go to the bathroom and that's on the more REASONABLE side of things he's done.
  • Breaking Bad: Both Walter and Skyler, though in vastly different ways. Walt has both a massive chip on his shoulder and the ability to rationalize almost anything he does to people. Skyler, though far more well-intentioned, likes to plan things out ahead of time and doesn't appreciate people veering off "script".
  • Detective Rosa Diaz in Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It's subtle, and she keeps it well hidden underneath a tough, intimidating and no-nonsense exterior, but a closer examination reveals that practically everything about her is designed to rigidly maintain control over every aspect of her life and relationships with others. This includes her job (being a police officer puts her in authority over others), her personality (her intimidating stoicism enables her to control people through fear of her), her personal life (she refuses to divulge any information about herself, no matter how harmless, so that no one has anything they can use against her), her relationships (she only dates certain types of men to ensure that she's always the one to end the relationship) and so on. As with Jeff Winger above, the reason she's able to maintain an unflappable exterior is that she's usually in control; whenever something does go wrong, she tends to melt down quick (she's almost reduced to tears when kids make fun of her instead of being intimidated by her, technology failing on her sends her into a violent tantrum, etc.).
  • This is explored with one of the Villains of the Week in Burn Notice. Timo is an extremely skilled thief specializing in banks, armored cars and other places with a vault, and he's so secretive with his plans that Michael finds it impossible to disrupt them ahead of time, and winds up with Timo holding a gun to his face more than once during the episode for asking basic questions. According to Sam, the approach has worked since Timo's suspected of being behind numerous high-end and unsolved heists yet he's only been arrested once (and the only witness to said crime was "mysteriously" murdered). On the other hand, when Michael makes the job go bad, all he has to do to make the gang turn on Timo is cause Timo to be late to the gang's rendezvous (thanks to a simple flat tire) and plant an explosive nearby. The explosive could come from anywhere, but the idea that Timo's meticulous plans would somehow go wrong and that Timo would be late is so unfathomable that the entire crew jumps to the conclusion that Timo must have decided to kill them to keep all the money for himself.
  • Castle: Beckett is this for some time, especially at the beginning of the series (with Esposito calling her exactly that), but being with Castle almost every day mellows her out a lot.
  • Columbo: Kay Freestone from "Make Me a Perfect Murder" has shades of this. As a network assistant executive with high goals, she dictates and practically directs a film called The Professional that the network wants and guarantees it will be a success. When she is asked to temporarily take the position of her deceased superior Mark [McAndrews], she's shown to be prone to going out to a production to personally direct things or handle problems that crop up, exemplified when a TV special that she pushed for (starring an old friend of her's) runs into problems and on at least two occasions she leaves her office to handle them. The creatives resent her for this, but begrudgingly admit she's pretty good at what she does.
  • Ben Chang from Community is this when he's not being a Psychopathic Manchild.
    • Jeff Winger likes to present himself as the cool guy who's permanently in control and laid-back and uncaring about everything. But whenever it starts to look like his position as leader of the group or his command over things is slipping, he gets very uptight and very tense very, very quickly. He later admits that he's one of these, and it's only because he usually is in control that he's able to act so relaxed about things.
  • Clara Oswald in Doctor Who can be like this. She once forced the Doctor to pose as her boyfriend to her family at Christmas. He had little choice but to obey. Later, there was this gem of a conversation:
    Doctor: Never try to control a control freak.
    Clara: I am not a control freak!
    Doctor: Yes, ma'am.
  • Kim Kaswell on Drop Dead Diva: According to Fred, she's more of a control freak than his last boss. Take note: Fred is an angel; his last boss was God.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond: Debra and Marie are both this trope. Marie has been pulling this on the whole family for decades, using guilt to get everyone to go along with her wishes. Debra is also this trope, wanting Ray to be completely under her control, telling him when he's "allowed" to relax or spend time with his friends, beating him and emotionally tormenting him when she doesn't get her way. Arguably, a large amount of the conflict between Marie and Debra could be chalked up to the fact that they're both control freaks with competing agendas: each wants complete, uncontested control of Ray for herself, and since they can't both have this, they end up fighting, while poor Ray ends up living a miserable existence between the two of them.
  • Fawlty Towers: Sybil regularly micromanages Basil, especially when she is away in hospital in "The Germans", constantly checking up on him by telephone. Basil is a control freak as well, screaming and ranting that he is needed at the hotel when he himself is in hospital.
    Basil: (On the phone) Yes, I picked it up. No I haven't, I've been at it solidly ever since I got back. Yes I will, yes. No I haven't yet, but I will, yes. I know it is, yes. Anything else, I mean, would you like the hotel moved a bit to the left? Enjoy the operation, dear, let's hope nothing goes wrong. (Slams phone down) I wish it was an ingrowing tongue.
  • Monica Geller, Friends. She often "accepts" the job of organising things, and is just as often annoyed or stressed out when things don't go according to plan. This is also one of the things that causes friction with Chandler even after they get together, as he is much more laidback and willing to take things as they come and isn't shy about making fun of her.
  • Game of Thrones: Tywin Lannister, of the highest, most unhealthy order, in that he wants to control everything and everyone. Justified in that his father being the complete polar opposite and too laid back (Laughing Lion for a reason) caused House Lannister to be in the mess it was until Tywin restored them to power during his times as Hand of the King at least.
  • Joy from House of Anubis developed this trait in the second season. Whenever she was given some sort of authority, be it being in charge of setting up the school dance, being the main editor of the school blog, or being in charge of the Senet game, she had a tendency to get very pushy and stubborn, keeping everyone working and making sure they were doing things her way. Fabian eventually calls her out on this.
  • Manasume Dan/Kamen Rider Cronus of Kamen Rider Ex-Aid makes a big deal of stating how he controls everyone's fates and seems to take pleasure in doing so. In fact, his intended goal for "Kamen Rider Chronicle" is basically to get as many human lives under his control as possible. Notably, the only thing that seems to anger him is that control slipping.
  • Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced "Bouquet") of Keeping Up Appearances controls, intimidates, and terrifies everyone around her in her endless quest to appear to be a higher social class than she actually is.
  • Casey McDonald of Life with Derek has these tendencies, exemplified when she was making a documentary about her family for a school project. She actually fired family members from the cast when they wouldn't behave the way she wanted to portray them.
  • Lois on Malcolm in the Middle has been called this but doesn't fit it to a T. She did get called out on it by a construction worker in the second season premiere.
  • Major Frank Burns, M*A*S*H. There's a reason for why Hawkeye absolutely hates whenever Frank is left in charge of the camp.
  • Susan Harper of My Family insists on personal intervention in every aspect of her husband's and children's lives. As a result of which many of them go to extreme lengths to keep her away. Fortunately, Janey is very good at it; having kept the identity of her own child's father a secret from her for years and secretly planned her entire wedding ceremony behind her back.
  • Gareth Keenan, The Office (and his counterpart on the American version of same, Dwight Schrute).
    • So is Angela Martin as the head of the party planning committee.
  • Mr. Conklin, the principal of Madison High School on Our Miss Brooks. Miss Brooks once even refers to him as Madison's "beloved dictator". In "Project X", he goes so far as to bug every room in the entire school, so he can listen in from his office. The audio system works both ways, Mr. Conklin can issue orders through it as well!
  • Carlton Lassiter from Psych.
  • Arnold Rimmer from Red Dwarf. For example, he insists on meticulously inventorying the ship's massive food stocks, even though there are only two living creatures left on board and he isn't actually one of them.
  • The Shield: Vic Mackey of the Strike Team, who believes that he, and only he, knows best. Not just for himself and his crooked buddies, but everyone. This tendency also ends up coming back to bite him at several points throughout the series, as he arrogantly presumes that he can control anybody that he allies with or does business with, regardless of who they are or how their specific interests might diverge from his own. This makes his Ironic Hell in the final episode that much more ironic note .
  • Chloe in Smallville. She starts believing in Orwellian methods to "protect" Metropolis and the world after her fiance is killed. This could possibly be seen as a manifestation of PTSD as a result of the aforementioned tragedy.
    • Lana also could be described this way, in terms of how she treats Clark. She wants Clark to divulge all his secrets to her, whether he likes it or not, and be completely under her thumb. Whenever any of the characters doesn't initially go along with what she wants them to do, Lana typically chews them out and then stomps out of the room; by the end of most episodes, the other characters have usually capitulated and apologized to her.
    • Which is nothing compared to Lex Luthor and the lengths he goes to. Lex gradually seemed to come to the conclusion that the only way he could secure a happy existence for himself is if the people in his life are completely under his control (he himself would probably view it as "guidance", but that's a case of Believing Their Own Lies). Lex, like Lana, wants to know Clark's secret and is willing to go to life-threatening lengths to obtain it: sending superpowered murderers to hold Clark's family hostage in an attempt to force him to reveal any superpowers he may have (this ends up being what breaks his and Clarks' friendship). He's willing to let his dad stick around, but only as long as he's subordinate to Lex. He also misses his deceased brother and clones him so that he can have him back... but gets insanely angry when the clone no longer wants to follow the script that Lex wants him to live by. Terrifyingly, it is implied that Lex has the clone killed, viewing him as a failed experiment. And, of course, there's the horrifying twist of late Season 6 where we learn that Lex chemically-manipulated Lana's body with hormones to simulate a pregnancy, in order to help push her into marrying him, and then letting her believe that she had miscarried afterwards, causing her to fall into a deep depression. Through it all, Lex maintains that this is all okay because he views it as simply carving out his world and the people in it to be the way he wants them to be, and he tells himself that it's for their own good anyway.
    • Lex's beliefs that influence his behavior this way are possibly best summed up at the end of Season 5's Christmas episode "Lexmas", where — after considering it all episode — he decides to use dirty tricks to try and win the election he's in, saying "What I want more than anything is to live Happily Ever After. And do you know what the secret to living happily ever after is? *pause* Power. Money and power. See, once you have those two things, you can secure everything else. And keep it that way. I want to be Senator. I want it all."
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In the Mirror Universe, Mirror!Odo is a sadistic slave overseer who imposes his "Rules of Obedience" on the Terran slaves, so he's got some serious power and control issues.
    • The entire changeling race as personified by the Female Changeling. They are absolutely obsessed with controlling every other race because they see it as the best way to protect themselves.

  • Will happen in any I Am the Band situation.
  • Dennis DeYoung, former keyboardist of the American rock band Styx, because musicals aren't for rock stars.
    • Styx broke up over it in 1983 following the Kilroy Was Here debacle. The classic lineup finally reconciled and reunited in 1995, but Dennis's Control Freak tendencies started rearing their head again by 1999. This time, rather than breaking up the whole band, the others just kicked him out.
  • Axl Rose. Offend him in the slightest and you'll end up without a job.
  • Roger Waters. If David Gilmour is to be believed, his control-freak mode kicked in around 1977's Animals. It got worse with The Wall, which was almost entirely his writing, and culminated in The Final Cut, which infamously had the words "Written by Roger Waters; performed by Pink Floyd" printed on the back cover. Then he left the band and a series of lawsuits ensued involving who had the right to use the Animals pig and whether the rest of the band had the right to use the name "Pink Floyd."
  • Paul McCartney, during the final years of The Beatles. Semi-justified though, in that John Lennon was preoccupied with his side projects/relationship with Yoko Ono and generally pissing off George Harrison and Ringo Starr, to such a degree that McCartney had to literally take over the recording sessions with an iron hand just to keep things going.
    • Even after the Beatles broke up. When The Beatles version of Twist and Shout became a hit again after being in the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off McCartney was upset because a marching band in the movie was playing horns on it. Never mind the original Isley Brothers version actually did have horns on it!
    • Every so often, McCartney will vocally gripe about the familiar "Lennon/McCartney" credit for Beatles songs, and how it unfairly implies that Lennon was the main creative force of the group. While this isn't an entirely unreasonable point of contention on McCartney's part, he has also tried on several occasions to convince or force the rest of the world to start using "McCartney/Lennon" instead, at least regarding songs he was primarily responsible for writing. Given how culturally embedded "Lennon/McCartney" is by this point, this quest is quixotic at best, and he appears more or less resigned to defeat in this case.
  • Noel Gallagher joined Oasis on the condition of taking creative control of the group and becoming its sole songwriter. The rest of the band didn't object, though, since their own songwriting skills were limited. Noel eventually let the others write songs for the band as well.
  • John Fogerty, by most accounts. Tom Fogerty once said he felt he was "hip-checked" out of his role as lead singer when John joined the band.
  • Don Henley was one; this was a major force in the Eagles' 1980 breakup.
  • So was David Byrne. Talking Heads finally broke up when the other members had had enough.
  • Lawrence Hayward of Felt. (Actually, he was Felt.) Among other things, he once fired a drummer for having curly hair.
  • Ritchie Blackmore. It was bad enough while he was in Deep Purple, but singer Ian Gillan and organist Jon Lord had enough clout to hold their own. There was no one to keep him in line in Rainbow, however, and it showed.
  • Good lord, Jered Threatin. During his band's ill-fated European tour, he scolded his tour bandmates for getting breakfast at the hotel's buffet without his permission, and told them that they needed to say with him at all times. Since Threatin's a teetotaler who doesn't do nightlife, this severely restricted where his bandmates could go during their European tour.
  • A managerial example was Colonel Tom Parker. He generally let Elvis Presley call most of the shots musically, but Parker locked him into a series of bad music and film contracts that prioritized Money, Dear Boy over quality, strictly forced Elvis to fulfill them, and came down hard on anyone who questioned him about it. Valuable contributors to Elvis' music career like Leiber and Stoller and From Elvis in Memphis producer Chips Moman got blackballed for daring to go against Parker's wishes. Parker even meddled in Elvis' personal life if he thought it was affecting their financial bottom line (though he was conspicuously silent about the drug abuse that ultimate killed Elvis).

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Vince McMahon has a notorious reputation as one. It's been said that he has no life outside of WWE, and expects everyone to be as dedicated to the company as he is. James J Dillon quit his position as a WWE executive because he couldn't put up with how demanding Vince was, and Paul Heyman has said that Vince will get utterly annoyed if he sneezes — because he can't control it.

  • Jacob from Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues. He has a schedule he follows strictly and always tries to abide by the rules. If chaos is brought into his life, then anxiety quickly sets in and he seeks out any semblance of order. This usually manifests itself as him loudly complaining to the people who brought chaos into his life in the hopes that they'll follow a more logical plan. This is all a result of his mother, who's forced all her expectations on him and made him adhere to a strict routine.

  • Former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight, also known for his General Ripper tendencies off the court. Of course, when he was actually winning titles, nobody cared about his behavior...

  • Lucy from 13 is going to get her way. Or else.
    • Subverted once everyone shouts: "Shut it, control!!"
  • Hermia's father Egeus in A Midsummer Night's Dream is all over this. Even after his daughter refused to marry Demetrius, the man he chose for her, he had Theseus threaten to execute her if she doesn't.
  • Alyssa describes her mother as one in The Prom, and she's completely right. Mrs. Greene forces her daughter to dress a certain way, tracks her weight, makes her sign up for extracurriculars she hates, expects perfect grades, and all in all wants Alyssa to be the flawless Trophy Child she can use as a prop in her "perfect" life. This, combined with her mother's conservative political views, is why Alyssa has remained deeply in the closet, despite having known she's a lesbian and been in a loving relationship with Emma for over a year. Mrs. Greene also uses her position as the head of the PTA to push her political agenda, and is very unhappy when Principal Hawkins and Emma attempt to stand up to her.
    I don't like when strangers get in my way
    or anyone who messes with the PTA.
    Well, maybe that's just me.
    But trust me,
    fixing little problems is what I do.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted: She Who Lives In Her Name is the literal embodiment of control freakishness. Her Charmset has large chunks devoted to stripping those annoying little hairless apes of their free will so they have to do what they're told. There's a reason she's known as the Principle of Hierarchy.
  • Shadowrun
    • The Great Dragon Lofwyr is infamous for his micromanaging tendencies and wanting total control over everything that is his domain. Despite being the CEO of a Megacorp that stretches the globe, almost every operation needs his direct approval, and approximately 80% of Saeder-Krupp's workforce has had a performance review done directly by Lofwyr himself (usually via the Matrix) — though rumour has it that 100% of those who displease Lofwyr will have their last performance review with him in person directly before their severance, with emphasis very much on the 'sever' part.
    • The Mega-Corp Mitsuhama Computer Technologies is known in the shadows to be extremely inflexible when hiring shadowrunners (possibly because, due to their mob ties, they don't do it very often), and often demand to micromanage the operations complete with planned-down-to-the-minute time schedules that must be kept. Between this and their poor reaction to runners abandoning the plan, few runners knowingly take Mitsuhama jobs if they can be avoided.

    Video Games 
  • Pretty much everything the Templars have been doing since they have existed in Assassin's Creed is to control everyone in the world. The Assassins believe in free will and fight to stop them.
  • Andrew Ryan became this by the time of BioShock as he started implementing more extreme measures to stay in control of Rapture, eventually turning Rapture into an elitist dictatorship, the kind of thing he despised.
    • Sophia Lamb also, when she took over Rapture she turned most of the splicers into obedient cogs of her so-called perfect society, anyone who doesn't fit in or listen to her gets eliminated.
    • Zachariah Comstock imprisoned his own daughter for over twenty years with only a psycho giant bird for company, and treats the minorities like animals; if they won't sit and stay, he'll order his men to hunt them down.
  • If you're a villain with The Joker as your mentor in DC Universe Online, he'll comment that Brainiac is a Control Freak that "makes Batman look slightly neurotic".
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Jyggalag, the Daedric Prince of Order, is essentially the divine embodiment of this trope. It is his driving mission to put the universe in perfect order. In an age before recorded history, the other Daedric Princes, who feared Jyggalag's growing power, came together and cursed him into his own antithesis, Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness. The plot of Oblivion's Shivering Isles expansion is Jyggalag finding a way to escape this.
    • Astrid, the leader of the Dark Brotherhood in Skyrim. She forced the Brotherhood to abandon the tenets that guided them for centuries in favor of her own leadership style and claimed to have authority over the Night Mother, who the Brotherhood believes to be the wife of their god. When the Last Dragonborn is named Listener by the Night Mother, Astrid sees this as a threat to her authority and tries to have them killed (which backfires horribly).
  • Elder Elijah, the Big Bad of the Fallout: New Vegas DLC, Dead Money, par excellence. He is a brutally pragmatic man, who thinks people should be basically machines and tools to achieve his ends; he tells them what to do and they go do it, and he gets incredibly angry if they disobey or question him, or merely do things he did not expect them to do. He was once a bit more stable, but a disastrous tenure as Elder of a Brotherhood of Steel chapter cracked the shell off the nut. Now he aims to plunder the treasures of the lost Sierra Madre Casino: Noxious lingering gas cloud to wipe the Mojave clean, immaterial death ray-shooting hologram soldiers to kill anyone that tries to intervene, and bomb collars to ensure compliance of whoever survives.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses:
    • Edelgard has "losing control" listed in her bio as one of her dislikesnote , and mentions "forcing things to go her way" in an offhand comment during monastery exploration. This turns out to be a major issue once the Time Skip hits, as Edelgard's need to achieve her goals for changing the world by her way and her way alone leads to her becoming the enemy of every other faction during the war. Even Claude, who has similar goals and admits he might have been willing to work with her if she had been more open to co-operating, though Edelgard for her part considers him far too shifty/secretive to work with in confidence (a reputation he cultivated himself).
    • Ingrid is incredibly bossy and is known for being a responsible, dependable knight, so she spends much of her supports lecturing people for not behaving how she thinks they should (even kicking the door down in her Support with Bernadetta when the former tries to skip out on training, terrifying her), which usually leads to the other person telling her to stop acting like their mother. She even does it with her childhood friends (Sylvain, Dimitri and Felix) or people who technically outrank her (Dimitri, who is expected to take the throne of Faerghus when he comes of age and Claude, who is next in line to lead the Leicester Alliance).
    • Rhea, continuing the parallels with Edelgard, has a problem with needing to be the one in control as well. Her need for control over Fodlan's understanding of its past and influence over its people to accept Sothis as their goddess is part of what contributes to the quagmire of societal issues plaguing the continent, and she has very exact expectations of how Byleth as Sothis' vessel to the point of becoming annoyed when Byleth doesn't show knowledge of things that Sothis should have. And if Byleth decides to side with Edelgard over her? She goes crazy unable to accept that her mother's vessel would think she's in the wrong and running against her script.
  • By the time of Mass Effect 3, The Illusive Man has gone full Control Freak. He regularly "terminates employment" of scientists whose work has been completed so there's no chance that anyone else can acquire the science, and has partially huskified huge hordes of people to make an obedient private army in short order. In fact, his espoused method of dealing with the Reapers is to attempt to gain control of them.
    • From the same series, Miranda Lawson's father not only genetically engineered his children to be perfect, but he uses mercenaries to try to recapture them by force when they defy him. Lair Of The Shadow Broker DLC reveals that Miranda has a neoplasm in her uterus which renders her incapable of getting pregnant. The most likely explanations are that her father deliberately engineered it so that his "dynasty" would only develop along the lines he desired, or that it was the "imperfection" that prompted him to attempt to discard Miranda like he had her older sisters and create an even more perfect child in Oriana.
    • Miranda herself also has this as an issue. It's heavily implied that she keeps a constant eye on Shepard's private messages and is overly concerned about her sister's private life. This is in addition to originally wanting to implant a control chip in Shepard's brain when she brought him/her back to life. What separates her from her father is that her over-concern for her sister is motivated by genuine love and protectiveness, and as for the control chip, she eventually reveals to Shepard how much guilt she feels about it and practically begs him/her for forgiveness.
  • The Allies in Red Alert 3: Paradox control freak tendencies end up isolating the United States when they take over the government to prevent infiltration.
  • In Red Dead Redemption II, this is one of Dutch's many flaws. His controlling tendencies can already be seen early in the story but it gets worse by the end. Dutch wants to control all aspects of the gang and doesn't like it when others question his plans or appear loyal to someone else other than him. His relationship with Arthur begins to sour as Arthur is forced to go behind Dutch's back to mitigate the worst of Dutch's plans to protect the rest of the gang, but he sees Arthur as being disloyal to him. Dutch soon comes to believe that Micah is the most loyal because Micah never questions him, never realizing that Micah is The Mole for the Pinkertons.
  • One of the female bullies, Meg, from Rule of Rose. Highly intelligent, but inflexible, she holds the third highest spot under the Princess of the Rose.
  • YHVH, the Mad God of Order, in the Shin Megami Tensei series. He's the ultimate Knight Templar, seeking to erase The Evils of Free Will from the heart of humanity, so he may reign for all time, unchanging, unending. It's not quite clear if he was always like this, and signs point to "no".
  • Staya from TinkerQuarry is determined to make sure everyone stays in the Dollhouse. He has written signs all over the place commanding its residents to stay where they are, and he angrily confronts anyone who he believes is trying to escape.
  • In Twisted Wonderland, the dorm leader of Heartslabyul, Riddle Rosehearts has every single one of the dorm's 810 rules memorised and follows them obsessively, quickly losing his temper and punishing his dorm residents if they break even the most obscure, inconsequential rule, often by using his unque magic Off With Your Head on them. He eventually loosens up a little after recovering from his Overblot.

    Visual Novels 
  • Little Busters!: Kanata, the leader of the school disciplinary committee, is very strict when it comes to rules, in complete contrast to unashamed troublemaker Haruka.
  • Captain Antares Fairchild in Starship Promise demonstrates a nigh-obsessive need for control over himself and his surroundings, probably rooted at least in part in his childhood growing up in poverty in a colony slum. His attitude is illustrated in his response when the player character asks him why he keeps fish as pets — one of the reasons he gives is that he has total control over their environment, and can thus protect them. He takes a similar though less immediately obvious attitude toward the protagonist and the crew under his command, and the constant attitude of confidence and control he puts forth inspires a great deal of faith and loyalty from them.

    Web Animation 
  • Looney Tunes Intro Bloopers: Microsoft Sam is this.
  • RWBY:
    • Jacques Schnee expects his children to follow his orders without question and to lead lives and careers that further his agenda. He has no interest in their personal desires, only in what they can do to further the business interests of the Schnee Dust Company. When his daughter, Weiss, disobeys him one too many times, he detains her until they reach an "agreement" about how her future will unfold. When Weiss realizes that Whitley has been waiting for Jacques to disinherit both daughters so that he will inherit everything, he reasons that the only way to handle Jacques is to follow the latter's expectations.
    • As a result of his paranoia, General Ironwood believes the first step to any problem is to put him in charge of it; When he comes to Vale in Volume 2, he and Ozpin clash over the appropriateness of the massive fleet he brought along "just in case". Ironwood persuades the council to remove Ozpin and be put in charge of the Vytal Festival's security. After Volume 3, Ironwood begins amassing more and more control over Atlas through his two seats on the council and locks the kingdom up to keep the villains out. By Volume 7, he has turned the city of Mantle into a police state, disturbing the main heroes, and as the situation deteriorates, bans public assembly and considers invoking martial law to get things done without having to negotiate with anyone. Once he learns that Cinder, who orchestrated his defeat in Vale is in Atlas and Salem is coming personally, he snaps, and arrests the heroes when they refuse to follow his extreme methods.

  • Kill Six Billion Demons: As can be expected from someone who embodies the sin of Pride, the Demiurge Solomon David is both this trope and The Perfectionist. He is obsessed with complete control of everything, whether it concerns self-control, control of his daily life, the goings-on in his realm, the nature of his family, and everything else he regards as 'his' in any way. His chosen fighting style, Ki Rata, embodies this — it is a martial art that will literally kill its wielder if they lose control of their concentration.
  • In Misfile, Ash's father Edward used to be this, to the point that Ash's mother abandoned them both when Ash was three. Edward has since learned from his mistakes and subscribes to a Hands-Off Parenting approach with Ash.
  • Miwa in Never Mind the Gap has tendencies of this kind, especially when aggressively playing matchmaker.
  • In The Order of the Stick, this (combined with It's All About Me) turns out to be General Tarquin's main weakness. He's so Genre Savvy that he treats everyone as elements in a narrative he's planned out and leaps at the chance to be his heroic son's Archnemesis Dad. He can't even believe that he's not the main villain of the story, and doesn't comprehend that the comic likes to subvert and deconstruct established narrative lines. When Elan refuses to take the bait and insists he's a supporting character rather than the real hero, Tarquin tries to force him into the protagonist seat by attacking his friends.
    Tarquin: I'm sorry, Elan, but you brought this all on yourself. I tried to give you a dramatically significant death scene to swear vengeance over, but you seem to prefer this... this disjointed anarchy. There's no unity of theme here at all!
    Elan: Didn't we... already do the scene...where you try to convince me to do things your way?
    Tarquin: (grabbing Elan, face twisted with rage) Yes, and it didn't go right, so we are DOING IT AGAIN. And we will CONTINUE to do it until you understand that it is in your best interest to...
  • There are a few in Pacificators, but by far the biggest one is Muneca. Hoo, boy.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: In the prologue, Ulrika Västerström acts like this. She berates her husband for taking too long to pick up the newspaper in an abandoned gas station and doesn't let her husband's parents or daughter leave the car during the stop despite at least one of them needing to use the bathroom. Later, when her husband's parents and daughter start rioting against basic demands not being met, she dangerously swerves the car to calm everyone down. Since she happens to be driving everyone to the family private cabin to escape The Plague, it's hard to tell if it's her usual attitude or just her being on the edge about what's going on.

    Web Video 
  • Dad: Cheryl likes to keep things in control, has high-standards, and gets upset when things aren't going her way. She is mentioned in the "Dad Loves Mom" song to be very strict and dominating, she punished Dad for owning a magazine she didn't like, and she even had one of her employees taken away for disagreeing with her. There are only a few cases where she's shown relenting.

    Western Animation 
  • Earl of Lemongrab of Adventure Time. He's a failed science experiment, how well would you EXPECT someone like that to rule a kingdom?! Also Goliad, as an evil (and scary) example.
    • Princess Bubblegum is a low-key example. Granted her kingdom is full of people who can barely take care of themselves. But she can be rather short-sighted in a few decisions and often go to questionable methods that border on this trope.
  • Mechanicles in Aladdin: The Series, though he was more of an obsessive-compulsive flavour, with dashes of scheduling mania.
  • In American Dad!, Stan Smith is such a Control Freak that the Almighty Himself called him out on it:
    God: Stop trying to control everything!
    Stan: I don't do that!
    God: Stan, you're holding a gun to God's head. I mean, I can't even think of a metaphor that's better than this, and I'm a published poet.
    • Though this can also be considered an aversion as Stan actually has very little control over his life. He doesn’t want Haley to date Jeff, he moves in. He doesn't want another baby, Francine tries to rape him. And while Hayley’s actions are usually given the excuse of his harsh rules, they’re usually things like don't come in past curfew, don’t drink while underage, don’t steal monkeys and keep them in the house. It's reached the point where the family does the complete opposite of what he says the moment he says it.
      • This is perfectly exemplified in “Wiener of Our Discontent” where the Aesop was that Stan doesn't have the right to deny Roger control over all human life just because he felt he didn't have any control over his.
      • A later episode implies that his control freakiness is a direct result of his lack of control, as a close brush with death resulted in him going on a miniatures craze that causes him to use a Shrink Ray to shrink down and live in the mini town he built.
  • In the 2019 reboot of Animal Mechanicals, Komodo is noticeably more bossy than he was in the original series and often tells the others what to do.
  • Frylock from Aqua Teen Hunger Force is usually the straight man and voice of reason, but some of his more pathetic moments approach a Control Freak (especially when he's trying to entertain anyone).
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has Ozai and Azula. They both demand total obedience and subservience from their underlings, and the former permanently scarred and banished his son simply for speaking out of turn. The latter is an extreme perfectionist whose "friends" only follow her because they're terrified of disobeying her.
  • One showed up in the last Courage the Cowardly Dog episode. Courage defeats her when his imperfectness proves to be too much for her to handle.
  • Mr. Herriman from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends is very strict and proper when it comes to enforcing the rules in Foster's home. The one time he does become laid back, the house eventually turns into chaos.
  • Hermes Conrad, Futurama is a parody in two ways; first, he knows what he is and revels in it; second, he also has elements of the stereotypical laid-back Jamaican interspersed with his Obstructive Bureaucrat persona.
    Hermes: Labor Day? That phony-baloney holiday crammed down our throats by fat cat union gansters?!
    Fry: That's the one.
    Hermes: Hot damn, a day off! [takes off his shirt and sits down to watch TV]
  • Brendon in Home Movies when it comes to having to direct someone else's film. As explored when his musician, Dwanye, asked that he help make a rock opera based on Franz Kafka. You'd think he be honored by this. But nope, Brendon is just a sourpuss throughout the whole procedure because it wasn't his script.
  • Kaeloo can sometimes be one of these to her friends.
    Kaeloo (during a game she suggested that the others play): This is my game, and I'll do whatever I want!
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
  • Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic though a low key one at best. Princess Celestia had sent her to Ponyville in the hopes of easing her off of this as well as learning the meaning of friendship. Though it was mostly successful, the other ponies still sometimes have to deal with Twilight's Super OCD tendencies and occasionally pious attitude.
  • Principal Skinner on The Simpsons has shades of this, though his war stories are never to impress anyone, more to traumatise them. This is the main reason he'll never impress his boss, the more laid-back Superintendent Chalmers, since he gets on Chalmers's nerves.
  • Jen from 6teen, being pretty obviously the Monica of the Friends-based group, gets accused of being this fairly often.
  • Lapis Lazuli from Steven Universe is afraid of being powerless, having been branded a traitor and trapped within a mirror for thousands of years. In the present, this manifests in a lot of controlling behavior, be it with regards to Jasper and trapping her in a fusion or even in regards to Peridot who admits that she often lets Lapis have her way for fear of upsetting her.
  • One could interpret the Warden from Superjail! as being this. Despite his Psychopathic Manchild personality and propensity for ridiculous schemes, one should remember that he is still a totalitarian dictator who runs every nook and cranny of his domain with complete disregard for its imprisoned inhabitants. Anyone who disobeys his orders or even question his ideas (I'm looking at you Jared) is either completely ignored, bullied until they comply, or even outright killed if they hinder his "controlled chaos".
    • Also happens when he replaces his faithful robot, Jailbot, with a more advanced model named Jailbot 2.0. Said robot was completely dedicated to organizing the prison as much as possible, sterilizing its rowdy and chaotic environment and even disobeying its own creator for the sake of cold-hard efficiency.
  • Played with in TaleSpin with Rebecca Cunningham, the boss of Higher for Hire. While she has a rather shrill attitude and frequently manipulates or bullies Baloo and the others into following her schemes, she fails to have much intimidation over them or take much action against their own incompetent or obnoxious habits, leading her to come off more as a bossy friend than a domineering boss.
  • Third season Big Bad of Teen Titans Brother Blood has this, big time. Put bluntly, Blood has mind-control powers, and doesn't like it when his targets break free or resist. This is what leads to his obsession with Cyborg, as noted by the creators on the DVD commentary; Brother Blood has finally met someone who can't be controlled, and it gets under his skin so much that Blood goes to extremes to find out what's causing that.

    Real Life 
  • Of course, this is also Truth in Television. There are people at school or work who either demand that they tell the rest of the group what to do since they know best or forcibly push their own ideas onto the others without listening to the opinions of the other people, especially when they think that they are faultless.
    • Certain co-workers tend to freak out if cleaning is done wrong not exactly how they want it
    • Whether it's school, college, or business, no matter how "well-intended" the Control Freak's contributions and/or help may be, it never ends well for anyone involved... the controllers themselves included.
    • Then again, it is sometimes useful to have someone take charge of the situation, such as in an emergency, if no one else is doing so — assuming that they are prepared to give up control should someone more qualified show up.
  • Control freaks can also pop up in cooperative video games. In games where massive teamwork is necessary, there will sometimes be a player who will constantly tell other players what to do and treat them like they never played the game before.
    • And more often than not, the people who constantly bark orders are usually the players with the least amount of skill in the team. Bonus points if said "commander" gets into trouble by his own accord and blames the rest of the team for the mishap.
  • "Stop Having Fun" Guys and Scrubs fall under this. The former will criticize you for playing the game "wrong" while the latter will yell at you for not playing by their house rules.
  • Totalitarian dictators and authoritarian rulers, in general, are control freaks by nature. Nothing angers them worse than people who won't go along with whatever they want them to do, which is why Secret Police and other systems are frequently put in place.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (no, NOT Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) can definitely turn a person into this, in a mentally crippling way.
  • Doug Walker admits he's this in products he has a say in but mixes it with his usual Guilt Complex. He only wants to do all the work by himself so he can freely say It's All My Fault if people don't like it.
  • We've all had that friend, either abusive or not, who does this.
  • People with narcissistic personality disorder tend to become this with friends and family members because they see others as just extensions of themselves.
  • The greatest flaw of the historical Zhuge Liang was his tendency to try to do everything himself. Notably, unlike rival states Wei and Wu (and most other empires before or after), Shu did not have a specific branch of government dedicated to archiving the state's history due to Zhuge personally overseeing Shu's records (instead of assigning someone else to head the archives). Crucially, even as Prime Minster of Shu he would accompany the army on their invasions of Wei to the north in order to personally issue commands at the front, despite Shu having several talented and capable generals who would be able to do the job. He was also prone to assigning his close friends and confidants to high positions because he knew they'd follow his instructions to the letter, as opposed to more independent officials or generals who'd argue against him. This contributed to his death: very few people can stay up almost all night every night trying to control both military and political spheres before their health simply cannot keep up with it.
  • Less kind descriptions of famed voice acting director Wally Burr (who worked on, among other things, the original Transformers cartoon) paint him as being one of these. Michael Bell once joked that Burr's perfectionism was partially responsible for the death of Orson Welles (who passed away shortly after completing his lines for the role of Unicron), and the famous 30 year bad blood between Burr and Maurice LaMarche was caused by the latter expressing his opinion the former's "directing style" basically involved voice actors repeating lines over and over until Burr was satisfied they delivered the line the way he himself would do it.

NO! This page is completely WRONG! DO IT AGAIN!


Video Example(s):


Thomas and Friends

Thomas refuses to listen to Emily bossing him around.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / ControlFreak

Media sources: