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Drunk with Power

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"The nature of power is such that even those who have not sought it, but have had it forced upon them, tend to acquire a taste for more."
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited

Power corrupts, and it seems like it corrupts the meek and good-natured quicker than everyone, given half a chance.

When given even a slight hint of increased authority, before too long even the nicest person with a cheerful greeting and understanding ear for all will turn into a dictator, their ego completely out of control as a result of their new responsibilities and being given their chance to make a mark and implement all their good ideas. In the name of "efficiency", they'll create countless petty and pedantic rules for all to follow — all of which will be staggeringly inefficient, considering the place ran smoothly before without them and that their implementation only slows things down. And don't even think of trying to circumvent them — the new boss will have developed a sadistic streak which will lead them into enthusiastically punishing even the slightest infraction of those rules in a fashion that is completely out of proportion to the offense. Some sort of ranking or points allocation system which is just designed to irritate their co-workers and stimulate inferiority complexes will probably be implemented. They'll also plunge deep into full-blown paranoia, convinced that everyone is plotting against them. Even the character's fashion sense will most likely be altered to emphasize their new workplace-fascist mindset. Everyone will be shocked by the drastic change in their friend, but any attempts to talk them down will be rebuked, and the person who tried to talk them down will usually be summarily fired.

They've become Drunk with Power.

It's a Face–Heel Turn, but usually a very minor and temporary one; usually, the newly promoted tyrant's conduct will result in either everyone being fired for breathing or quitting en masse in protest, just in time for a fresh crisis that plunges the tyrant completely out of their depth, resulting in much humiliation as they either have to go crawling back to everyone they've just been bullying to meekly ask them to come back and help them fix things before the boss arrives or for the boss to actually arrive (often unexpectedly early) only to see exactly what chaos has resulted in their absence.

Usually, after such a humbling and humiliating breakdown and the resulting reality check, the tyrant will be utterly appalled by and ashamed of their own conduct ("I don't know what came over me!" being a frequent lament), but will soon be forgiven by all and will return to their usual good-natured selves, if a little bit humbler and wiser. If the promotion wasn't temporary, they may even voluntarily relinquish it, having decided that they were becoming someone they didn't like.

If this is applied to a lot of people (mostly humans) and in a longer state, then this trope often became the greatest justifications that Humans Are Bastards or Humans Are the Real Monsters, since men often fall in to their darker natures and it is so tempting to just indulge in their newfound power at cost of everything else without them caring, justifying aliens or whatever non-human species (regardless if they were also bastards or not) to declare war against humans, as they are so prone of getting destructively drunk with power.

Often found in the Work Com. With Great Power Comes Great Insanity and A God Am I are this to the extreme. See Drunk on the Dark Side for the superpower equivalent. When it occurs due to elevated expectations and wedding-related stress, see Bridezilla. Compare Acquired Situational Narcissism, New Ability Addiction, Ambition Is Evil, Screw the Rules, I Have Money! See Screw the Rules, I Make Them! for when someone tries to justify their actions even when their position does not give them authority to do so. Contrast with With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility, where a person strives to handle their newfound power with responsibility instead of getting intoxicated with it.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Magical Project S: Eimi, the hall guardian of her school, is constantly enforcing the rules (even outside school or when close to dangerous situations) to the point that when she gets superpowers, she still enforces the school rules.
  • No Longer Allowed in Another World: If Ysha is to be believed, Suzuki was a stand-up guy when he was summoned. By the time Sensei encounters him, his power had turned him into a monster who sees the native inhabitants as either enemies or animals to be tamed under his divine gift "Obedience".
  • The character arc of Harry McDowell in Gungrave: from street kid seeking an escape from poverty to absolute bastard in charge of the Mob.
  • Happened in the Patlabor episode The Seven Days of Fire. The Chief Mechanic goes on vacation and leaves his Number 2 in charge; shortly after he found the mechanics' massive Porn Stash, burned it, and began imposing ludicrous restrictions on them. This kicks off what amounts to a civil war, with warring factions forming and dissolving left and right (although no faction ever had numbers in the double digits) until the Chief comes back a week later and puts an end to it.
  • Popcorn Avatar: According to Lisa, this was Indra's fate prior to incarnating as Amano.
  • Rosario + Vampire: The Public Safety Commission, while once a good, necessary institution, has devolved into a band of yakuza-style thugs who abuse their authority to make the students' lives miserable. However, it's heavily implied that at least some of their corruption was the result of their leader Kuyou, an anti-human extremist who is ultimately revealed to have been The Mole for Fairy Tale all along.
  • Enrico Maxwell of Hellsing plunges headlong into this trope upon becoming an Archbishop and receiving full command of a collection of holy knights for the purpose of stopping Millennium's attack on London. With so much military power at his command, Maxwell goes off the deep end and orders his men to kill the Protestants of England as well as the vampires, resulting in a mass slaughter of innocent people that thoroughly disgusts not only the main protagonists but Maxwell's top agent and former mentor, Alexander Anderson.
  • Tatsuhisa "Luke" Kamijo in Yu-Gi-Oh! SEVENS has an unfortunate tendency to do this. He knows he's expected to eventually helm his family's gear manufacturing company and loathes the idea, so he latches onto any notion of power that isn't that and lets it go to his head; when he believed he would be the new Student Council vice president he forced the student body to pain Goha 7th Elementary blue in celebration (having donned an all-blue uniform himself) and after becoming the King of Duels he forces everyone he meets to say his name and title and dresses in the clothes he also won (white jeans, a paper crown, a guitar, and small circular sunglasses). While his older sister Haruka "Tiger" Kamijo was able to stop him the first two times, it was a different situation when Yuo Goha told Luke he was the sixth Goha sibling. Despite the claim being blatantly false, Luke goes along with it and acts the most arrogantly he ever has while Dueling Roa Kirishima, though he's quickly cowed again when faced with his sister.

    Comic Books 
  • Raul the Cat quickly becomes this when he is elected mayor of Chicago in American Flagg!. He also becomes drunk, on Gato Blotto™ provided by a real estate developer.
  • This is basically Lex Luthor's default state. Above all else, Luthor is a man who thrives when he's in control; whether he's bullying his own employees or giving himself superpowers, he's always enraptured in his own ability to dominate everyone and everything around him. In fact, this is pretty much the main reason he despises Superman so much; Superman is one of the small few things in the world that Lex can't exert any control on, and that drives Lex insane.
  • Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld: The reason why power-sharing is dangerous. During the power-sharing ceremony between Lady Graciel and Princess Amaya, Lady Mordiel gets into Amaya's mind and tempts her into killing her mother and take all the power for herself. Fortunately, Amaya's love for her mother snaps her out of it.
  • Touch (2004): Downplayed but the end of the series shows Allison getting Cooper's powers and commenting that they need to renegotiate their partnership.
  • Ultimate X-Men: Jean Grey becomes evil after becoming the Mistress of Tian, to the point she tried to start of civil war between mutants in a bid for total domination.

    Comic Strips 
  • Alice became one of these when she temporarily replaced the Pointy-Haired Boss in a Dilbert arc, to the point she started wearing a crown and scepter.
    • Similarly, Wally attempted this when he got himself put in charge of moving to a different building, threatening to abuse his power to assign people cubicle locations: "I banish you to the cubicle closest to your boss!"
  • In Foxtrot, Peter Fox becomes a complete tyrant whenever he gets even a minuscule measure of power, treating (or at least trying to) his subordinates like servants or slaves, at the very least acting very obnoxious to them. When he becomes manager of his school's football team, this leads to many Amusing Injuries.
  • In Knights of the Dinner Table, any kind of power seems to go to Weird Pete's head. He becomes a petty tyrant when running a campaign (or even just sitting in as a temporary GM on someone else's) - handing out merits at the drop of a hat for infringing rules he has just made up - and he runs the Gamers Court as a Hanging Judge.

    Fan Works 
  • Happens to Hobbes in Calvin & Hobbes: The Series when he gets the house to himself.
  • In the Pony POV Series' "Origins" arc, Havoc's avatar was so fueled by the chaos of the Alicorn/Draconequi War that him/it was driven insane. It got to the point that the avatar had Discord eat his own brother (something Havoc would never do, as his children's well-being is something he genuinely cares about) before letting him/itself be devoured as well, all to increase Discord's power and ensure the spread of chaos.
    • It should be noted that later, Rancor would state that the Avatar had gone insane by Draconequus standards.
  • Inner Demons: Scootaloo eventually reveals that she was a Well-Intentioned Extremist who succumbed to this trope — unlike Trixie and Sweetie Belle, she knew all along what a monster Queen!Twilight, and she initially only accepted her Deal with the Devil so she could use the power against her and end her reign. Unfortunately, she let the power go to her head, and she convinced herself that defeating Queen!Twilight by herself would give her the right to take the throne for herself. It's only after she gets some sense literally beaten into her that she realizes the error of her way and has a Heel–Face Turn.
  • The Twilight Child: When Rarity is given free rein of a theatre, it doesn't take her five minutes to go absolutely mad with power.
  • In Heroes for Earth, the main villain of the piece, Devorux, acts like this, much to the disgust of his colleagues and of the heroes.
  • Paras of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Planes of Existence starts losing it when he acquires the Dark Blessing.
  • Discussed in the Shadowchasers Series, leader of the eponymous organization Jalal Stormbringer owns an incredibly powerful magical M16A2 assault rifle, which he claimed he used against the lord of the Nightmare Court, killing said villain, but has only used it once "on camera". When asked by Shichiro why he even bothers with his sword, he replies that whenever someone possesses a powerful weapon and becomes too dependent on it, they eventually start thinking they're invincible. He even admits that every time he's had no choice but to use it, he feels a huge rush of power inside him, even thinking that he might as well put a huge "J" in front of his armor. As a result, he always makes sure to lock it away in order to avoid its temptation, only using it as a last resort.
  • Fade: L, in an eerie parallel to canon!Light. Light himself manages to subvert this — while he still uses the Death Note, he limits himself, sticks to those limits, and makes active attempts to ensure that he won't follow story!Kira's dark path. It helps that he was effectively blackmailed into the situation.
  • A literal example in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World: When Paul absorbs or releases a lot of energy, he becomes blissfully intoxicated. And, in the case of being hit by lightning, he also gets an erection. Actually, merely using his power gives him a lift. Focusing on the "background noise" of it makes him high and helps him pass the time at night because he now just barely sleeps.
  • Deus is keenly aware of this in Absolute Power Sucks Absolutely. He's practically omnipotent in a 100-meter radius around him, but remains wary of doing anything to his own personality and usually tries to keep his powers on the down-low. Once his name becomes well-known, he refuses to answer every petty wish and mainly uses his powers for personal convenience unless he's truly pushed. He also brings it up to Bruce when the latter says he doesn't expect Deus to be a hero.
    Bruce: It's nothing to be ashamed of. It's not for everyone. Your powers do not entitle people to your time and effort.
    Deus: Yeah, right. With great powers come great responsibilities. If you can, you must. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Haven't you heard that?
    Bruce: I heard you screaming you wanted to be left alone.
  • Played for Laughs in Son of the Sannin. When Naruto offers to help Sakura become stronger, he teaches her Tsunade's trademark technique to boost her strength. She's delighted when she uses it for the first time and reduces a large boulder to rubble with a single punch, and she starts smashing every tree nearby for practice, much to Naruto and Hinata's horror.
  • Downplayed in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines. Ash's Boldore evolves to Gigalith through round trade, and she gets a bit too cocky and confident in her newfound strength. This reminds Charizard of his own attitude when he evolved in the previous timeline, so he resolves to curb it down by showing her that power alone isn't a match for power and skill together.
  • Suggested for Charmander in Pokemon: Shadow of Time, as it’s observed that his rebellious attitude after his evolution in the original timeline was due to the surge of power necessary for evolution having an adverse effect on his brain chemistry until his fight with Tad’s Poliwrath.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • National Lampoon's Animal House has Dean Vernon Wormer, the Omega fraternity and Neidermeyer.
  • A variant is used in Woody Allen's Bananas. After overthrowing the government, the rebel leader begins to make absurd demands, such as changing the nation's language to Swedish and having all underwear worn on the outside. One of his underlings observes, "He's gone mad with power!"
  • Bruce Almighty: Subverted in that he doesn't exactly change much after gaining the power — he's the same clueless Jerkass he was, but with the power of God, so naturally he causes damage, even without wanting it.
    Grace: What are you, drunk?
    Bruce: Yeah, I'm drunk. Drunk with power!
  • Das Experiment: Deconstructed, in that it's shown that both the Guards and the Prisoners ultimately contribute to the escalation. At first the Guards limit themselves to minor abuses such as forcing a man with lactose intolerance to drink his required dosage of milk, but when the prisoners start to riot (largely because of prodding from Prisoner #77, who's a plant from a newspaper looking for a good story) they start resorting to increasingly violent methods to keep control over them. By the end, the Guards are beating the Prisoners into comas, keep the junior scientists who are supposed to be monitoring the experiment captive so they can't interfere, and one of them even tries to rape a woman from the staff.
  • In the Vietnam War documentary In the Year of the Pig, Joseph Buttinger says that Ngô Đình Nhu and his wife Madame Nhu both had a drive for power that is best described as pathological.
  • In the Walking with Dinosaurs movie, Scowler was a Jerk Jock who entertains himself by picking on Patchi. But when he becomes the leader, he kicks Patchi out of the herd and refuses to listen to anyone else due to being the leader. This leads to his downfall when he leads the herd into Ambush Alley where the Gorgosaurus are waiting.
  • Iron Man: Obadiah Stane was already a Corrupt Corporate Executive, but when he puts on the Iron Monger suit and is able to fight Iron Man on equal footing, the resultant Power High makes him go completely insane. During their battle, Stane seems to go out of his way to cause as much Collateral Damage as possible in a state of virtual euphoria, destroying things just because he can and reveling in that fact. No surprise why; a lot of his dialogue during the fight and before indicates Stane had years of pent-up anger boiling beneath the surface that he’s able to finally let pour out:
    Iron Monger: For thirty years, I've been holding you up! I built this company from nothing!!! And nothing's gonna stand in my way.''
  • The Man Who Could Work Miracles: Even after gaining the ability to work miracles, Fotheringay remains rather restrained in the use of his powers as he tries to figure out the best way to use them. However, after working out that everyone is trying to use him, he snaps and starts using his powers without restraint. He demolishes Colonel Winstanley's home; constructs an elaborate palace for himself in its place; summons Maggie to serve as his queen, and Ada to serve as eye candy (and perhaps mistress); brings the world's leaders to him to bow down; etc.
  • In Shorts, Helvetica namecalls this when her dad uses the stone to "become the most powerful thing in the entire world" (a giant Black Box-constructed robot).

  • George Orwell:
    • The Inner Party from Nineteen Eighty-Four even states that their purpose is simply this.
    • Napoleon from Animal Farm. The pigs in general started as the lead of the revolution on Manor Farm, turning it into Animal Farm. However, they end up abusing their positions and making life just as bad for the other animals as it was when the farm was still Manor Farm.
  • In Discworld novel The Fifth Elephant, Copper Who Doesn't Do Anything Fred Colon finds himself the most senior officer in the Watch after Vimes, Carrot, and Angua all go to Überwald for the book's A-plot. The normally laid-back Sgt. Colon almost immediately snaps under the pressure and becomes the authoritarian and paranoid Captain Colon, firing and demoting people left, right, and centre, and causing the rest of the Watch to go on strike. He's an unusually sympathetic example in some ways, however, as he knew he was out of his depth and his behaviour is as much a book-long Freak Out as it is this trope. Besides, you can't help but feel for poor Fred when it occurs to him that Commander Vimes will be coming back at some point and will not be at all amused when he sees what's been going on in his absence... Carrot gets to the Watch House first, Sam being somewhat preoccupied with Sybil's big news, and apparently manages to sort it all out.
  • Marla Karuw in Star Trek: The Genesis Wave, who eventually succumbs to megalomania after being appointed regent of Aluwna. She was formally in prison but was pardoned and given power in a desperate attempt to save Aluwnan civilization during the crisis.
    "Ambassador, you sent me that story... about the ancient Terran named Noah. You didn't think I would read it, but I did. You were right — it did give me inspiration because it was about a lone person who listened to his inner voice, the Divine. That voice told him to build the ark, and he ignored everyone else on the planet, all those who thought he was a fool. Single-handedly, he brought his world through turmoil and saved all the species on the planet. One person! Yes, I could identify with Noah. Now we are finally at the end of the storm; the clouds are parting, and the floodwaters are receding. I can't believe that anything will stop me from my victory."
  • There's also Prime Minister Kinchawn of Tezwa in Star Trek: A Time to...
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Phoenix on the Sword," after Thoth-amon recovers his Ring of Power.
    He is drunk with terrible power, and the blows he strikes at his enemy may well bring down the kingdom.
  • McAuslan: This happens to the titular character when he's given a short-lived promotion to lance-corporal; he starts screaming even the most routine orders until he eventually comes to blows with one of his men, giving his CO an excuse to quickly bust him down to private. Given that McAuslan is the dirtiest and disorganised soldier in the entire British army, he probably assumed this is how an NCO is supposed to act because they're always shouting at him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of The Andy Griffith Show has Barney placed in charge while Andy is away. Barney manages to arrest the entire town, including the mayor, for various minor offenses.
  • In Are You Being Served?, Mr. Grainger was put in charge at one point when Mr. Rumbold was called away for a business meeting. He immediately began to throw his weight around... until it became Lonely at the Top.
  • Londo Mollari from Babylon 5 can be quite accurately described as addicted to power. In his heart, he is not an evil man and simply longs for the good old times when things were easier and safe. But being from a species that has Magnificent Bastard and Chronic Backstabbing Disorder as its hat, he is too easily drawn to take part in conspiracies to increase the prestige of his species and himself. At several times he realizes that he has fallen in with the wrong crowds and he is helping them doing far more bad than good, but he simply can't live with the thought of losing the respect of his allies or the embarrassment for his species if the conspiracies are publically exposed. When confronted he gets violently angry and denies everything. One time he manages to break free and accept the ridicule he gets for being a cowardly man who abandons his position and duties, but then his favorite concubine is murdered, which instantly has him get in contact with his most powerful connections and promises them to do anything they want and abandon all his moral objections if they help him get his revenge. It was actually the same people who had her murdered and anticipated that very reaction because Londo is just so easy to manipulate if offered power and threatened with damaging his prestige.
  • In an episode of Barney Miller where the precinct gets new flack jackets, Wojo comments that he feels invincible while wearing them, and does not think that's a good thing. He starts to be afraid that wearing a vest might make him overconfident and take a risk that would hurt himself or someone else.
  • 3% Marco gets drunk with power almost as soon as they have enough power to do so.
  • The Brady Bunch uses this trope when Bobby is named hall monitor.
  • In the Community episode "Contemporary American Poultry" the study group gets increasingly spoiled and obnoxious the more powerful they get. Curiously enough, however, Abed himself seems more Drunk With Actually Getting To Connect With People For Once.
  • Both Captain Mainwaring and Warden Hodges of Dad's Army represent recurring character examples of this trope; both have let the authority and power that their new wartime positions have given them go straight to their heads, and neither show any signs of coming down from the power rush they've been given.
    • Private Fraser represents a more standard version of this trope in the episode he's temporarily put in charge of the Home Guard unit. Curiously, he still manages to do the job more efficiently than Mainwaring usually does. However, his arrogant and martinet style of leadership means that no one really minds when Mainwaring takes over again at the end.
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor slips into this from time to time when he doesn't have a companion to rein him in. Most notably, his A God Am I moment in "The Waters of Mars". Let's just say that 1200-odd years of constant victories of one man vs. the Universe has given him a bit of an ego, and he needs a human by his side to keep it in check.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard: Rosco was already one of the show's villains, due to his never-ending desire to catch the series' protagonists and his alignment with the corrupt Boss Hogg. But give him money – $10 million, to be exact – and Rosco turns from the inept, Wile E. Coyote lawman to a power-hungry, money-crazed despot. (Well, not really a despot, but...) That's exactly what happens in Season 4's "The $10 Million Sheriff", where Rosco thinks that he's inherited a fortune, hires a criminal to hunt down Bo and Luke (in exchange for a $100,000 payoff)... and most tellingly insults Boss and wipes him out in a rigged poker game. The trope is quickly ended when Rosco finds out he didn't really inherit $10 million.
  • Subverted with John in Farscape once he can make wormhole weapons. He even lampshades the possibility by saying "Absolute power corrupts absolutely" after the knowledge is unlocked. However, he manages to stay on track and not go power crazy during the standoff and after he wakes up from his Heroic BSoD after shutting down the weapon he's still his old self.
  • Gilligan's Island: Season 3’s “Gilligan Goes Gung Ho” has this happen to Gilligan, of all people, when he and the Skipper start enforcing the law on the island. While Gilligan arresting Mr. Howell on charges of (technically) stealing the Skipper’s binoculars and attempted bribery is reasonable, once the Skipper (in order to help the Professor with his latest plan to get them rescued) puts him in charge, Gilligan gradually finds a reason on the books to lock up everyone on the island. As a result, the escape plan fails, and the Skipper locks Gilligan up as punishment.
  • In an episode of The Goodies, Graeme's plan to set up a pirate radio station (and pirate post-office) and the resulting success soon turns him into a raging fascist dictator, complete with uniform and ranting Germanic accent, and he develops a mad plan to drag the entirety of Britain outside of the five-mile limit so that he can rule over it as a 'pirate state'. When Bill and Tim walk out on him in disgust, he eventually resorts to trying to tow Britain away single-handedly in a rowboat.
    • In fact this sort of thing happens rather a lot in The Goodies; for instance, it happened to Bill in "Kung-Fu Capers", Graeme AGAIN in "The Bunfight at the OK Tearooms" and all three of them in "The Movies".
  • Grimm: Juliette is somehow turned into a Hexenbeist from an alchemy experiment, giving her psychic powers and a were-zombie face. As she uses her powers (especially to kill in self-defense), she grows more unhinged, and fewer people (including Nick) like being around her. Then she snaps when she discovers Adiland is pregnant with Nick's baby, causing her to betray the team, burn the trailer down, and join the Royals out of spite. It takes being killed, reincarnated as a new personality, and then healed of her sociopathy with a magic stick for her to return to some semblance of sanity.
  • Harvard from Ground Floor puts himself in charge of the building support staff when Jenny temporarily becomes Mansfield's assistant. He immediately launches into a version of the famous Glengarry Glen Ross speech using Pop-Tarts as an incentive. He's Hoist by His Own Petard soon enough, though, as everyone walks out as he's talking (taking the Pop-Tarts with them) leaving him to deal with 'New Phone Day' on his own. He ends up accidentally locking himself in a cage.
  • In Happy Days, there were two notable examples: subverted when Richie was in the ROTC as the acting officer in command, and invoked when Sheriff Kirk tried to run The Fonz out of town, as well as forcing business owners to adhere to his rules.
  • Has happened a number of times on Hogan's Heroes when the prisoners have let Schultz think he's boss for various reasons and have found it difficult to 're-tame' him.
  • Played perfectly in an episode of Home Improvement, where Wilson becomes the director of a previously laid-back production of Romeo and Juliet at the school and the episode morphs rapidly into a Tyrant Takes the Helm story.
    • It doesn't show too often, but Tim at least privately sees himself as the dictator of Tool Time. Showcased by his constantly threatening to fire Al, his reactions anytime Binford sticks him with any kind of producer, and most evident in the final season when he lets Mark create a segment to show off his finished hotrod - "There's just three rules: My show. My show. My show.".
  • JAG: In "Tribunal", when Admiral Chegwidden is away overseas and has designated Lieutenant Singer as Acting JAG, one of the first things she decides to do is to have a fire drill and to have Lieutenant Sims to review and update all internal administrative manuals.
  • A sketch on The Kids in the Hall did this when the mailroom clerk is given a promotion. Not two seconds after receiving it he instantly goes mad with power (even admitting it) and starts to boss around his co-workers.
    • "Okay, let's review your first week as second assistant manager. Oh, you came in on time every day. That's good, that's really good. But you killed Perkins, and that's bad."
  • Hank Kingsley becomes one in The Larry Sanders Show episode "Hank's Night In The Sun" after he is given the chance to guest-host the show due to Larry suffering a bout of food poisoning. A slightly unusual example, in that no one really thinks he's up to the job and both Larry and Artie are aware that Hank is exactly the type of person who will become a raging egomaniacal "Ass of the Western World" if given such responsibility, but are forced to let him do it due to the last-minute nature of Larry's illness. True to form, after his initial appearance (in which he is bumbling but humble and self-deprecating, which the audience engages with) Hank becomes impossible to deal with - so Artie and Larry let him go on for a second evening, during which he is still incompetent and bumbling, but the audience finds his newfound arrogance so off-putting that he is booed off the stage, thus providing him with a humbling come-down.
  • Hale in Lost Girl starts out as a nice guy, but once he becomes the Ash in Season 3 he winds up taking a level in jerkass. He hasn't particularly abused his power, but he has adopted the Fae's attitude towards humans. Lauren however, who has gotten thoroughly sick of the Fae treating her this way, dismisses this idea. She claims that power doesn't change people, it shows them for who they really are.
  • An episode of Austin & Ally shows a What If? sequence in which Trish becomes signed to Starr Records. However, she doesn't take her career seriously and starts writing selfish songs to brag about her newfound fame. She even tricks Dez into being her assistant and nearly destroys her friendship with Ally. This eventually leads to her downfall when the fans start to lose interest because of the jerkish songs.
  • Frank Burns from M*A*S*H regularly got drunk with power: if the Colonel made the mistake of leaving him in charge for more than a day, he would create ridiculous rules and go through pseudo-military drills to prepare them for "the enemy".
    • In one of the several instances of 'Frank in charge', there was a downplayed example when Frank decides that the medical staff is getting too alcohol-dependent, and declares the 4077 'dry'. He's a jerk about it, overbearing, and shows all the signs of the trope...but it becomes clear as it goes along that Frank is more or less right. Hawkeye and Trapper even find themselves asking themselves in horror if Frank has a point after they almost tear into each other over something trivial from booze withdrawal.
    • It reaches an extreme with Frank when after being left in command he brings Pierce up on mutiny charges (which is a capital offense). After all sides are heard, the court martial board concludes that Frank should have never been left in command, and had he not been drafted as a doctor, he would have been assigned as a pastry chef.
    • Frank's replacement Charles Winchester went another way: when presented with power, he didn't lord it over the camp. He mainly used it as an excuse to drink more and get extra time off his shift, and the rest of the camp ran as efficiently as ever. However, in one episode ("Tell It to the Marines"), Winchester assumes command in Potter's absence and turns Klinger into his personal valet.
    • Examined in "Commander Pierce". While Hawkeye does start acting authoritarian and in the way he normally despises officers' behaving, it's clear that it's because he's discovering the real problems and headaches of command in the absence of Potter and incapacity of Winchester. As CO, he can't afford to only look at his own problems anymore, he has to consider the needs of the unit... and suddenly he finds himself doing the stuff he hated in previous commanders.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 — anyone who unexpectedly was given authority almost immediately began throwing their weight around in this manner.
    • In his first appearance, TV's Frank vehemently declared that there's a new sheriff in town to Joel and the 'Bots... then went straight back to taking their order for take-out.
    • When Pearl Forrester places him in charge of the Satellite of Love as part of a variation of the Stanford Prison Experiment, Tom Servo is gussied up as a Fascist dictator and demanding that Crow and Mike (now done up like downtrodden masses in chains) that they turn over their cookies before he has them torn in half by Sumo wrestlers before she's even done explaining the nature of the experiment. Given that her version involves having fire ants dumped down his clothes, he should have waited another minute.
    • In a later episode, Crow doesn't show himself to be much better, instantly becoming an abusive babysitter when Pearl leaves him in charge.
  • Spoofed in NewsRadio, when Matthew is given a promotion and it immediately goes to his head. Thing is, the promotion is a purely 'in-name-only' kind of thing, with absolutely no increase in authority or influence at all, and in any case, his attempts at throwing his weight around are so petty and inept that no one pays any attention to him anyway. He still gives it up at the end anyway, citing that he's becoming someone he doesn't like.
  • Odd Squad:
    • The X's from Season 2 work directly under the Big O in the Task Force department. "Who is Agent Otis?" has them taking the case of The Stitcher off of the agents' hands because they believe they're well within their rights to do so and can take whatever they please since they work under the Big O.
    • "Odds and Ends" has Ohlm, who was denied a chance to become the Big O following graduation from the Odd Squad Academy and wanted to show Odd Squad and the world the full extent of his smarts when it came to fighting oddness. However, following his denied request, he decided to use his smarts for evil instead, and when he becomes the Director of Precinct 13579 he decides to use his new authority to enact his Evil Plan of sucking everyone into a black hole and killing them.
  • The Office features this a few times: Jim is put in charge of the office and attempts to turn all the birthday parties into one, which is met with disdain from the staff (who treat him as if he'd gone mad with power). Dwight is given the task of choosing the company's health plan and quickly gets delusional about it. Jim notes that it's the smallest amount of power that has ever gotten to someone's head. Former temp Ryan is promoted to corporate and likewise goes mad with power, to the point of conspiring to have Jim fired and committing fraud when it seems as if his groundbreaking new plan to revitalize the company won’t work.
  • In the British version of The Office, Gareth was in a near-constant state of this as a result of his 'promotion' to 'Team Leader', which Tim perceptively notes is not a promotion at all, merely a job title someone has given him to encourage him to take on an increased workload for no extra money. Curiously enough, when he gets promoted to being the office manager when David is fired, there's no noticeable increase in his arrogance or paranoia - which, granted, is not exactly saying much, since he's a pretty unpleasant person to begin with. Furthermore, even with his real promotion, no one pays the slightest bit of attention to him anyway.
  • Once Regina in Once Upon a Time started getting revenge on Snow, she slowly became more and more addicted to using magic. In season 2, she decided to stop using it and is treating it like a drug addiction and seeing Archie for help to treat it.
  • The Partridge Family. Laurie is appointed Peer Teacher and is assigned to Danny's seventh-grade English class. Poor, poor Danny.
  • Happens to Jack in Power Rangers S.P.D. after jumping straight from "homeless struggling to survive" to "leader of elite police squad". He learns not to abuse his power by the end of the episode and remains leader through the end of the series.
  • Red Dwarf: In the episode "Officer Rimmer", eternal prat Arnold Judas Rimmer is promoted to officer after he weasels his way into a captain's good graces (in fact, he was trying to blow up the captain's ship, which accidentally saved him from an asteroid belt). He immediately starts instituting a blatant class system on the ship with the other crew members relegated to crappy service elevators and corridors while Rimmer opens an exclusive officer's lounge and reclines in luxury. Then he goes one step further by creating dozens of duplicates of himself to order around and sing his praises. By the end, he's forced to give up his promotion when he inadvertently creates a Rimmer-hybrid monster and has to beg the others for help.
  • On Remember WENN, this happens to Mackie Bloom after Betty temporarily places him in charge of the station.
  • Parodied on a Saturday Night Live sketch concerning Al Gore paying a visit behind the scenes of The West Wing following his election defeat to George Bush. At one point, Gore good-humouredly asks if he can briefly sit behind the desk in the 'Oval Office'... and over the course of the skit becomes increasingly egomaniacal and tyrannical, and refuses to leave despite the cast's repeated insistence that it's just a mock-up of the Oval Office, and he doesn't actually have any more power at all.
  • Johnny Sack from The Sopranos was a pragmatist until he got an opportunity to become the boss of his crime family. The more power and influence he gained, the more he started behaving like an unreasonable, egotistical tyrant. It ended up being one of the main causes of his downfall.
  • When Daniel Jackson of Stargate SG-1 gains the ancestral knowledge of the Goa'uld, he quickly promotes himself to world emperor, nukes cities and kills his friends. This is shown to be All Just a Dream created by the current holder of this knowledge to show Jackson exactly why he was repressing it instead of trying to use it. Turns out that tapping into their collective memory of a race of interstellar dictators also means getting a dose of their Axe-Crazy A God Am I mentality.
    • Subverted later when he actually gains the (much greater) knowledge of the ascended and remains the compassionate hero we know him as. Then again, the ascended have an Alien Noninterference Clause they strictly enforce, in part to prevent this kind of thing.
  • In the season six finale of Supernatural, Castiel absorbs all the souls of Purgatory, boosting his angelic powers to a godlike level, enough to utterly destroy Raphael, an Archangel. Unfortunately, the power of the souls made him drunk enough to declare himself God, then goes on a smiting spree in season seven's premiere; wiping out all of Raphael's followers, killing a hypocritical priest, and even willing to kill Dean when the latter binds Death to kill him.

  • The anti-war Punk group Discharge! wrote a song titled "Drunk With Power" which is about Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
    For how long do we tolerate
    These fools drunk with power?
    Drunk with power, obsessed with death
    Death and destruction, drunk with power!
  • Daniel Amos has "Incredible Shrinking Man" (from Vox Humana):
    From wells of power
    You take a drink
    You drown in it
    It’s bigger than you think

  • In Sequinox episode 11: Despite insisting that they don't want to keep the powers which come from being evil, the Sequinox team (aside from Yuki) really enjoy trashing the city in order to get Castor's attention. Chell even comments that she gets why the girls would've taken the deal with the Sky Queen in this dimension. That being said, the others still draw the line at Sid's desire to take the stars' hands.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • This is a pitfall for bookers. The Death of WCW specifically calls out Dusty Rhodes and Kevin Nash as booking themselves and their friends above and beyond anyone else on the card.
  • A calling card in AAA. From co-founder Konnan to company owner Joaquin's son Dorian Roldan down to referee Hijo del Tirantes, there seems to be no one in any authoritative position that isn't susceptible to the trap of unwarranted self-importance.
  • On ECW TV in 2000, Cyrus (the representative of TNN, aka "The Network") actually said during the show that he was drunk with power. Cue "Enter Sandman" and Joey Styles saying "Here comes ECW's most powerful drunk" as The Sandman made his entrance.
  • Sable. When it became clear that people were switching over from Nitro to RAW for her, and Playboy came calling, Vince started giving her preferential treatment. Sable's attitude changed almost overnight, and she started treating the other Divas as employees rather than equals. Not at all helped by them being told that if they did anything to harm her and mess up her looks, they'd be fired. Sable was at the top of the world at that point, but her head got too big and thought she could go onto bigger things outside of the WWF. No one shed any tears when she left in 1999, and The Kliq put a turd in her purse as a going-away present.
  • As Lucha Underground is a spinoff of AAA, it's no surprise that most of the show's conflict is driven by Dario Cueto. The man claims love violence but hate abuse, be it child, domestic or otherwise. Yet he fails to recognize that his love of violence constantly causes him to abuse his power as the Temple's Jefe.

  • Played for Laughs in The Goon Show: "Dishonoured"
    Grytpype: Mister Seagoon, how long have you been with us?
    Seagoon: Twenty minutes.
    Grytpype: What a splendid record of devotion and honesty. Neddie - and this is where the story really starts — Neddie, I am putting you in a position of trust. You're going to be in charge of the gold vault. Here is the key.
    Seagoon: Gold? GOLD! Ha ha ha ha ha, the gold, ha ha ha, the lovely gold. I'll be rich, ha ha ha. All right for me, gold, ha ha ha ha, the GOOOLD!!!
    Grytpype: ... I wonder if he's the right man for the job?
  • In The Men from the Ministry, when Sir Gregory decides to go on an extended weekend he leaves Mr. Lamb in charge of a lot of minor jobs that have to be done. Lamb, however, misunderstands his instructions and thinks Sir Gregory is retiring and making him the new Permanent undersecretary. He immediately turns into a ruthless tyrant forcing all staff of General Assistance Department to work 10+ hours a day and insults pretty much everyone within the Ministry within a few days.


    Video Games 
  • The opening narration of Elden Ring states that the Demigods who obtained the Great Runes became corrupted by the "mad taint of their newfound strength", triggering The Shattering in a rush to obtain more power. While this does definetly apply to the majority such as Godrick, Radahn, Rykard and Mohg, a few of them managed to avert this, such as Rennala (who wasn't even a Demigod, just a human woman) and Morgott (who became a duty-bound Modest Royalty leading a purely defensive war to defend the capital city)
  • Wheatley from Portal 2 demonstrates this once you reach the midpoint of the game, when the player helps him take over GLaDOS' chassis, repeatedly commenting on the newfound grandeur. That's swiftly followed by a maniacal laugh, accusing you of sabotaging and belittling him the entire time, and then punching you down an elevator shaft. Once in power, his "great ideas" lead to the facility coming within five minutes of exploding. And, in the end, he's genuinely sorry for being such a jerk, and apologises to the player character. Too bad she'll never hear it since he's now in space.
  • In the Knights of the Old Republic game, the Sith initiates on Korriban are all Jerkasses who abuse their power. One in particular, however, is hanging out at the docking bay just zapping the crap out of people because he's so elated that he can. Unless you're a complete prick, his death comes swiftly.
    • This sort of thing tends to happen to all Sith; it's practically their defining trait, in fact. They provided the name of a closely related trope.
  • Rei Ryghts in Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory fits like a glove. At the start of the game, she's just an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain. Once she gets some powers from a floating being named Croire and sent Neptune to Ultradimension Gamindustri, she was ecstatic to say the least. This is actually a Call-Back to what happened with Ultradimension Rei who had a similar situation when she first found her CPU Memory and by luck, she became a goddess. Croire then comes by and with just a little push, Rei becomes the tyrannical ruler of the Tari nation. At least until she destroyed said nation.
    • A similar case also happens to Kurome Ankokuboshi in its sequel, Megadimension Neptunia VII. After she receives the aforementioned Rei's CPU Memory from Croire, she proceeds to speed up the fusion between Zerodimension and Hyperdimension. Then, before the Final Battle ensues, she fuses all of the Dark CPUs which contain all the powers of the CPUs she stole into one ultimate Dark CPU, along with her negative energy. As a result, she becomes more powerful, although she loses her calm demeanor and becomes unhinged.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, Alduin is the draconic Beast of the Apocalypse and "firstborn" of Akatosh, the draconic God of Time and Top God of the Nine Divines pantheon. It is Alduin's divine mandate to, at the end of every "kalpa" (cycle of time), "eat the world" so that it can be remade anew. However, during the early part of the current kalpa, Alduin grew proud and forsook his role as World-Eater in favor of conquering the world and being worshipped as a god by mortals. This caused several other dragons, most notably his chief lieutenant Paarthurnax, to rebel against him and ally with mankind. Paarthurnax taught mankind to use the Thu'um, the reality warping draconic Language of Magic, but this alone was not enough. Three heroes faced Alduin at the top of the Throat of the World, and when all else had failed, used the power of an Elder Scroll to banish Alduin by casting him out of the stream of time. This defeat was only temporary, and those involved knew that Alduin would one day return. In Skyrim, Alduin returns and serves as the Big Bad for the main quest.
  • The Skyrim Game Mod Falskaar shows this with Yngvarr, the Big Bad who eventually amasses enough power that he clearly relishes the brutality he subsequently inflicts. The same applies to side-quest villain Vernan, who gains magical power and goes insane in the process.
  • Played for laughs in South Park: The Stick of Truth, where the Big Bad Government Guy goes mad with power upon obtaining the titular Stick of Truth... AKA, a prop in a children's game that the kids treat as a Macguffin of ultimate power (IE, whoever holds it get to make up the rules of said children's game).
  • Persona 5 follows a group of teenage Phantom Thieves as they target adults who abuse their positions of power and authority while making others suffer. Their targets include (but are not limited to) a high school volleyball coach and former Olympian who physically abuses students while perving on female students, a renowned artist who plagiarizes the works of his pupils, and a CEO who works his employees to the point of physical illness.

    Web Animation 
  • In season 5 of Red vs. Blue, Sister tells the Reds that she was sent to join their team because their leader is dead (Much to their confusion, as Sarge is still alive) and that one of the normal soldiers would be promoted. Simmons eagerly jumps at the opportunity and establishes himself as the new CO, leading to this exchange...note 
    Grif: You have gone blind with imaginary power, Simmons!
    Simmons: Oh ho ho, on the contrary. I think I've gone blind with very real power.
  • Supermarioglitchy4's Super Mario 64 Bloopers has Mario go through this three times:
  • In one episode of Season 2 of Inanimate Insanity, the role of host shifts to the winner of Season 1, OJ. OJ promptly kicks a contestant off for flimsy reasons, and then practically enslaves the remaining contestants by forcing them to repair his hotel.
  • RWBY: Adam's path through the White Fang ranks takes him from a hero who inspires his people to fight back against humanity's racism towards the Faunus, into a dangerous leader who wants to punish humanity for hurting him. He murders the High Leader of the White Fang so that he can bend the entire organisation to his will in pursuit of his dream: subjugation of humanity to the Faunus. The power and the pressure of being High Leader quickly goes to his head, resulting in him making unstable decisions and using the White Fang to target the family of the ex-girlfriend who dared to dump him. This triggers the formerly reluctant Menagerie into rising up against him; they protect Haven Academy from Adam's assault, resulting in him abandoning his people to the police authorities Menagerie calls in. He then destroys any White Fang member who turns against him, successfully destroying the organisation through his abuse of power just weeks after he became his leader.

    Web Comics 

    Web Videos 
  • VlogBrother John Green got drunk with a very nerdy kind of power in one of his videos. "I will have the teaching power. I am the English teacher! I am mad with power!!! [violent camera shaking]" It was closely followed with a more toned-down comment:
    People in the neighborhood look at me funny when I scream into the camera while walking.
  • In Kickassia, MarzGurl. She punches recruits to keep them in line, and asks Linkara if he has when he's doing their FBI surprise training.
  • The Nostalgia Critic darkly deconstructs this one. He's so powerless usually, all his life even, that any whiff of power makes him cling onto it so hard he'll even consider murder/suicide to keep it, as shown in Kickassia.
  • An old Lore Brand Comics parodied the trope, picturing Lore with drinks in hand proclaiming, "I'm drunk with power!" "No wait... buttershots." "I'm drunk with buttershots!"
  • During raocow's Let's Play of Copy Kitty, the abundance of powerful weapon combinations and colourful explosions led to him hamming it up way more than usual, gleefully declaring himself a God and vowing to "destroy the world" every few seconds.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: Jimmy becomes this when he becomes a hall monitor.
  • American Dad! featured an episode where Steve became the school announcer, but the power went to his head, and caused him to believe whatever he said came true. Everyone who used the intercom in the episode eventually went mad with power. Everyone. Even after they were on the intercom for just a few seconds.
  • Arthur: In the episode "Francine Frensky, Superstar", Francine, who's had a history of getting bad parts in School Plays that often lead to Amusing Injuries on stage, gets cast in the role of Thomas Edison in Mr. Ratburn's play about the inventor. But she begins to go on a power trip and start acting like she's running the show - with an iron fist.
  • Bump in the Night has an episode called Farewell 2 Arms. It features Molly Coddle getting her arm ripped off. After that, she gets new arms with the help of Bumpy and Squishington. Then she slowly becomes more evil for someone with a last name which is Coddle. After that, she wants MR. BUMPY'S HEAD!
  • CatDog had that episode where they, Mervis, and Mr. Sunshine got presumably stuck at sea. They made Cat captain but he becomes increasingly tyrannical. When they find out they had been in a fountain all that time but couldn't see because of dense fog, Cat had already gone mad.
    • Also happened to Dog when the duo are working at a cereal company and Dog gets promoted from box licker to prize stuffer.
  • Numbuh 3 of Codename: Kids Next Door has this any time she gets power. The two times we've seen this is when gaining control of her father's thermostat turned her into a fiery demon that would even attack her own friends to stop them from turning it down and when using Santa's present delivery system caused her to direct every single present in the world to her house. However, both times she was secretly bitter over something. (Humorously in the former example, her father similarly becomes an icy demon as he turns the treehouse thermostat down; the adventure of getting him out of there is never shown.)
    • Numbuh 4 does this too when he's made temporary leader while Numbuh 1 was away. He ends up declaring himself permanent temporary team leader and tries to build a giant "Clam Cannon" based on a sarcastic comment from Numbuh 5. (Humorously, not only does it work to stop an ambush by the DCFDTL, Numbuh 1 approves of the Clam Cannon idea when he gets back but tells them they'll need to rework a good chunk of the device. Numbuhs 2, 3, and 5 instantly shake off the fatigue Numbuh 4 put them through and are eager to work all night again.)
  • Tucker Foley in Danny Phantom goes on a power trip in a couple of episodes. First in "What You Want", when Desirée gives him ghost powers, and later in "King Tuck" when he gets a hold of a staff that belonged to an ancient Pharaoh.
  • In an episode of DuckTales (1987), Fenton Crackshell is obliged to impersonate Scrooge, who has gone missing, and soon starts acting like a caricature of Scrooge, with all his negative personality traits at full blast and none of the mitigating positive ones, even when he's alone with people who know about the impersonation.
  • "Field Marshall" Phoebe in Hey Arnold! when she became hall monitor.
  • Daffy in The Looney Tunes Show (the pizza episode).
    • Even Marvin Martian says "You're drunk with power!"
  • In the Mickey Mouse Works short "Sandwich Makers", this happens to Goofy of all characters. He's put in charge of a sandwich shop with Mickey and Donald as workers. Goofy eventually takes his "How To Be In Charge" book seriously and grows mad with power as 'captain', calling his friends yeomen and throwing them in "the brig" (storage closet).
    Goofy: "Chapter Three: Who Needs Friends When You've Got Power?!" (thunder crashes)
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Magic Duel", the Great and Powerful Trixie returns to Ponyville to challenge Twilight Sparkle, armed with an evil-looking amulet that boosts her power massively... at the cost of her mental stability. After soundly outclassing Twilight, she forcibly throws her out of town and places a magic barrier over the place to keep her out. Eventually the town has turned into a dark den full of sinister red banners and statues of Trixie and a permanent storm cloud keeping sunlight out; the mayor is locked in a cage, Twilight's friends are forced to do slave labor, and she's making Snips and Snails cart her around on a wagon without wheels because she has decided that wheels are "untrustworthy". Once the amulet comes off, she loses her power boost but returns to her senses, and later apologizes for what she's done.
  • The Penguins of Madagascar: In the episode "Kingdom Come", Julien has to go to the zoo's doctor, leaving Maurice to run the habitat until he returns. Initially, Maurice doesn't become drunk with power (in fact, he's hesitant to take over the throne at first and only does it because, as Skipper points out, it's either him or Mort). Then he sees Julien's bowl of lychee nuts, which as it turns out release an enzyme that causes aggression in the one that eats them when they go bad, resulting in him becoming a tyrant with gorilla bodyguards who demands that the penguins surrender to him. Fortunately, all it takes to get the actual Maurice back is to spray him in the face with guavaberry juice. He's pretty embarrassed, but Skipper reassures him that it's not his fault.
  • Discussed at the end of Ratatouille, when a post-Heel Realization Anton Ego reflects on how people such as he can sometimes get too caught up in the "fun" of writing negative criticism and the false sense of risk-less authority that being a critic brings, to the point that they become uncaring of the consequences of their actions while forgetting how little power they actually wield.
    In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.
  • Recess:
    • Gus became this when King Bob appointed him temporary monarch of the playground.
    • In a more bureaucratic fashion, it also happened to TJ; when the whole playground started using stickers as a form of currency, TJ went from rags to riches to Corrupt Corporate Executive, implementing extortionate fees for every form of entertainment on the playground.
  • Rocko's Modern Life:
    • Rocko is left in charge of the comic book store while the boss is away. Brainwashed by the boss's massage chair, he becomes greedy and ill-tempered and starts to look like him. He constantly abuses Filburt before finally firing the poor guy, but luckily he has a My God, What Have I Done? moment after Really Really Big Man shows up and gives him a What the Hell, Hero? speech and apologizes to Filburt.
    • Heffer after he becomes a security guard at the Conglom-O building.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In one episode, Bart Simpson's newfound interest in law enforcement sees him team up with Principal Skinner to rapidly become a fascistic hall monitor, at roughly the same time that Lisa, disillusioned after being told she'll never be a jazz musician, becomes the school rebel. In order to save Lisa from being expelled after she steals the teacher's copies of all the school textbooks, Bart reverts to his old ways.
    • The show also provides a subversion of this: Homer Simpson, who has been discovered to be a foretold prophet of the secret 'Stonecutters' organisation, has briefly gone through a mild A God Am I stage but gets a bit sick of the constant grovelling and decides that, instead of just throwing his weight around and wasting their time with hedonistic frivolity, he'll lead the Stonecutters into helping make the world a better place and enriching their lives. Unfortunately for him, the rest of the Stonecutters quite like the hedonistic frivolity.
    • A more low-key version happens in "They Saved Lisa's Brain" when the local chapter of MENSA takes over the Springfield city government; their "completely rational" rule is initially not so bad, but they start disagreeing and splitting up shortly after reaching power. The people of Springfield are also less than impressed with some of their latter initiatives, including Comic Book Guy's proposed ordinance of citizens having sex only every seven years (which will mean more for him, in any case). They quit once Stephen Hawking makes them realize their mistakes.
    • In "The Old Man And The Lisa", Mr. Burns loses all his money and Lenny is the new boss of the power plant. Even though he isn't used to the job at first and we don't get to see him doing his job, Mr. Burns returns as owner of the plant and Smithers says "Lenny's reign of terror has come to an end".
    • Russ Cargill - head of the E.P.A. in The Simpsons Movie, is a textbook, if self-aware, example of this trope.
      "Of course I've gone mad with power. Have you ever tried going mad without power? It's boring. Nobody listens to you."
    • Another episode subverts this. When Homer becomes head of the Indian branch of the power plant, it looks like he's set himself up as a god, but it turns out he was such a Reasonable Authority Figure they loved him as if he was a god.
  • Pity the poor soul who puts Eric Cartman of South Park in a position of (as he calls it) "authorituh." The first time it happened was when he was deputized, and he quickly becomes a Cowboy Cop, patrolling the streets on his Big Wheel tricycle and bludgeoning anyone who looks at him funny. In a more extreme example, when he played Stonewall Jackson in a Civil War reenactment, he nearly succeeds in re-establishing the Confederacy. And then there's the time he formed a Mel Gibson fan club and nearly started another holocaust.
    • In Cartman's case his actual character does not change - he's always a sociopathic brat - but sometimes he happens to get power to act his ideas in reality.
    • He became a hall monitor, and quickly transformed into Dog The Bounty Hunter, using Bear Mace on anyone who was even close to being in his way.
  • When SpongeBob SquarePants is made hall monitor, he tries to direct traffic, set an example of why not to leave windows open, and heads up a two-man manhunt for himself.
    • In "Rule of Dumb", when it turns out Patrick Star is a descendant of royalty, he begins taking anything he wants and acting like a tyrannical king. When SpongeBob lampshades how much of a jerk he's become, Patrick doesn't realize he's right until he sees himself in the mirror and notices that he's literally turning into a monster.
  • Steven Universe: Future: In "Fragments", Steven Quartz Universe becomes unrestrained and impulsive after training with Jasper for 3 days. It doesn't end well.
  • In Storm Hawks, Finn quickly goes mad with power after being left in charge while Aerrow is away, eventually provoking his teammates to mutiny against him.
  • In an episode of Wayside, Myron gets tagged it and becomes the most powerful person on the playground. The end results aren't pretty. In fact, you can't even dare tag Myron it, because everyone knows what happens.

    Real Life 


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Drunk On Power


Father Enrico Maxwell

As London burns from the invasion of Nazi Vampires; Father Maxwell sweeps in to annihilate the last remnants of the English Protestants in his Crusade as part of a bid to become the new Pope after the reforms by Pope Francis rubs him the wrong way.

How well does it match the trope?

4.9 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheFundamentalist

Media sources: