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Gullible Lemmings

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"Look at these people; amazing how sheep'll turn up for the slaughter
No one condemning you, lined up like lemmings you led to the water
Why can't they see what I see? Why can't they hear the lies?
Maybe the fee's too pricey for them to realize..."

Gullible Lemmings not only believe the villain but actively try to help them. They aren't Mooks or Les Collaborateurs, just regular citizens being what they think is a Heroic Bystander. If the villain is persuasive enough, everyone in the village, town, city, country, or any other kind of community will support them.

Gullible Lemmings generally facilitate the existence of the Easily Conquered World. See Horrible Judge of Character when this trope is applied to individuals. See also Good All Along and Burn the Witch!. Not to be confused with Suicidal Lemmings, the trope about actual lemmings jumping off cliffs.

No Real Life Examples, Please!


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    Anime & Manga 
  • A Certain Magical Index: Stiyl and Kanzaki wipe their friend Index's memory yearly because the church told them she would die otherwise. The church was right, but only because they had put the curse on her themselves.
  • In Death Note, there are interviews of the "man on the street" indicating widespread public support of the Knight Templar Villain Protagonists and their extreme "tough on crime attitude". This is in spite of the fact that in both cases the people in question are simply killing the criminals en masse, and even suggest that they plan on broadening their list of targets once they get rid of the truly evil people.
  • The rival Idol Unit Jupiter in the anime version of THE iDOLM@STER... at least until they found out their president's utter love for underhanded tactics, in which they've had enough and after too many times being ignored, they quit. In-game, they decided to not use whatever tactics he promoted and fought fair and square.
  • One Piece: Nico Robin's tragic back-story had her betrayed left and right by the people who sheltered her so that they could collect the bounty on her head and hand her to the World Government.
  • In the Pokémon anime, as often as the heroes outmatch Team Rocket, you can almost always expect them to fall hook, line and sinker for a booby trap or Paper-Thin Disguise beforehand. Played with for Meowth's Fake Defector stunts, since the heroes have become increasingly suspicious and prone to Lampshade Hanging as they've continued. Even then though, they usually still work eventually.
  • Saint Seiya: This was used as a humanizing move in the Hades arc. It's revealed that the Spectres in Hades' realm believe he is trying to bring about a Utopia Justifies the Means for all humanity... the "Great Eclipse" being the means. Of course, Hades just has a vague and nebulous all-consuming contempt towards humanity and the living and wants all existence to be in an orderly dead state.
  • Sonic X: Knuckles; on multiple occasions, Dr. Eggman has lied to him, claiming to want to pull a Heel–Face Turn, and despite having realized he had been duped before, he readily falls for the same trick again. It's even lampshaded in the episode "An Enemy in Need," where Amy outright asks Knuckles just how many more times he has to fall for Eggman's lies before he realizes that Eggman will never change.

    Comic Books 
  • The citizens of Latveria are usually portrayed as genuinely fond of Doctor Doom, and willing to stand up for him against the likes of Captain America or the Fantastic Four. With good reason: he's responsible for freeing them from an unpopular dictator and subverting Reed Richards Is Useless by making Latveria one of the most prosperous countries in... Europe? All he asks for is the unconditional loyalty of his citizens. Some citizens are aware they will be killed horribly if they screw around, Depending on the Writer. This trope is much more recent than many readers think. During the days of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, Latveria's inhabitants were portrayed as the hapless subjects of a despot who changed his mind at the drop of a hat and demanded absolute obedience no matter how ridiculous his orders were. It wasn't until much later that the Latverians actually started to support him (mainly because Doom's backstory was fleshed out and it was revealed that he had overthrown a racist, feudal dictator).
  • Following Marvel's Civil War (and even long before that), most of the US population is perfectly willing to acclaim psychotic murderers like Norman Osborn and Mac Gargan (a.k.a. the Scorpion) as heroes. Despite the fact Norman has been found guilty of being the Green Goblin and consequently is a known lunatic and mass murderer. They proved equally willing to demonize well-known heroes like Captain America and Iron Man pretty much on command. This is actually so bad that when The Avengers had a crossover with the JLA, the fact that the citizens of DC's Earth greeted the heroes with adulation made the Avengers think that the League had taken over the planet and forced people to cheer for them. Seriously, Marvel's civilians are such ungrateful dicks that CAPTAIN AMERICA can't even conceive being greeted with praise anymore. The earliest sign of this was how easily they turned against Spider-Man as part of Jonah Jameson's smear campaign. Nevermind how many times Spidey had saved New York from being obliterated and what the other papers reported, the Daily Bugles personal grudge convinced most people that Spider-Man was a menace.
  • Darkseid:
    • Despite all his boasting and legitimate prowess, Darkseid has been defeated, publicly, several times. Each time, the people of his world that he has brutally oppressed for untold generations help him back up, metaphorically or literally, instead of booting him out or just leaving him to die. Partly because they fear his retribution if he recuperates on his own and they don't help, but mostly because, thanks to the mindset he instills in every one of his "subjects".
    • There's also the fact that Darkseid has lieutenants like Granny Goodness, Desaad, Kalibak, and the like. As long as they're not publicly abandoning him, attempting to boot him out or leave him to die is probably a bad idea... and most of them will stick by him through rough patches either because they actually do think he's a good leader or because they realize just how bad their lives could get if one of the OTHERS took over. Desaad has turned on Darkseid in the past on occasion, when he thought Darkseid was truly beaten and he could take over. It never ends well for him. He's fortunate that Darkseid considers the attempts pathetic enough to be amusing.
    • In Kingdom Come, it's revealed that Orion eventually slew his father and took over Apokolips, hoping to be able to reform the inhabitants. He failed, the ones who didn't support him out of fear tried to violently overthrow him, forcing Orion into basically becoming another tyrant just to keep Apokolips from descending into complete anarchy.

    Fan Works 
  • Most of Marinette's classmates are depicted this way in Burning Bridges, Building Confidence. Lila turns them against their 'Everyday Ladybug' by claiming that she's been secretly bullying her — and when her cousin Cole refuses to be cowed and calls them out, uses that to incite them against her as well. Under her direction, their behavior gets increasingly worse, as they blame both girls for everything going wrong with their class... including Alya getting into trouble for outright assaulting them.
  • I See What You Do Behind Closed Doors (Miraculous Ladybug): After her true nature is exposed, Lila bursts out laughing, as this finally gives her the chance to let the whole class in on the joke of how easily she manipulated them into doing whatever she wanted. She freely admits that she didn't expect to stay in Paris for so long, and was astounded that they kept falling for her claims even as she made her lies increasingly blatant.
    Lila: The stuff I had you guys doing was too good to be true!
  • Of State: Despite being a brutal conqueror and The Dreaded to anyone who truly knows him, the people of Uttland believe that Drago Bludvist is a "liberator" and refuse to believe anyone who claims otherwise.
  • In Act I of Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness, Kurumu and Mizore are attacked and forcibly kissed by the Kiyo brothers, who had disguised themselves as the girls' respective boyfriends to trick them into fighting each other. When the trick is revealed in chapter 30, the Kiyo brothers even rub in their faces that it was easy to pull off because both Mizore and Kurumu were so ready to believe the worst in the other's respective boyfriends; the girls are both devastated by the realization.

    Films - Live-Action 
  • In Rampage (2009), Bill sees working-class Americans (lower and middle class, the latter he says is rapidly diminishing) as nothing more than cattle being lied to and milked for money by the rich, the heavily biased media and the politicians while also being slaughtered by foreign terrorists (i.e. September 11th, 2001 attacks) and homegrown criminals (monthly mass shootings especially in schools). Bill complains that American consumers buy gas from Saudi Arabia which has funded al-Qaeda to commit the 9/11 attacks.

  • In Jeramey Kraatz's The Cloak Society, the citizens of Sterling City fall right in line to support the New Rangers — Cloak in disguise, with a single true Ranger mind-controlled. When two other true Rangers show up, they are denounced as Cloak operatives and fakes.
  • In the Discworld, Sam Vimes reflects that the problem with democracy, the big problem, is that every citizen of Ankh-Morpork would get a vote. Even Nobby Nobbs. And Nobby's vote would have the same value as Sam's. Sam saw the flaw in democracy straight away.
  • In the novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Quasimodo, our "hero," makes for a unique take on this as he believes that King Louis's guards are the good guys that will help him and the gypsies are the bad guys who wish to execute his beloved Esmeralda. The actual situation is that the King's guards are there first to supress the rebellion of the Truants and then to make sure that the witch Esmeralda (the very woman Quasi is trying to protect) is going to be hanged while the gypsies are trying to save her. So you have Quasi systematically thwarting the efforts of the gypsies while making every attempt to help the guards. Somewhat justified since Quasimodo had been raised by Frollo since infancy and has little understanding of the world beyond Notre Dame and the kicker is that the side that he fights against isn't exactly the right one either as the Truants started the siege only partially to save La Esmeralda and just as much to pillage and plunder the Cathedral planning to hang him after all is said and done.
  • In the Year 2050: America's Religious Civil War posits a history where shifting demographics lead to a radical Islamic group capturing Congress and the Presidency in one election cycle, then setting up to dismantle everything American. Also, they called themselves the Green Party, so the majority of voters thought they were running on environmental issues.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe: The citizens of the Old Republic/Empire/New Republic/Galactic Alliance will turn on the Jedi to help a villain at the drop of a hat.
  • Trollslayer has Gotrek & Felix encounter a village that helps an evil sorcerer who is holding their children hostage. The heroes don't find out that he's mutated them all into his personal army until after they've killed them all.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrowverse:
    • Arrow: Approximately once per season, Team Arrow gets framed for something. And every time, everyone in the city believes that they've really gone evil this time, despite the previous times they were cleared and repeatedly saved the city.
    • The Flash (2014): In season 4, the Thinker frames Barry for murder. The case is pretty thin, but he still gets convicted, and the judge even berates him for his (apparent) lack of remorse. In fairness, Barry didn't help by being extremely depressed and assuming there was no way he could win.
    • Legends of Tomorrow: In season 4, the demon Neron reveals the existence of magical creatures to the world and convinces the people to hate them so he can feed on the resulting fear. One woman even calls in a report on the harmless baby dragon playing with a bunch of kids.
    • Supergirl (2015): In season 4, Supergirl is framed for an attack on the White House by Lex having his secret clone of her attack the White House. While that is, admittedly, rather convincing, the only people who are willing to even consider that she might be innocent are named characters. Everyone else she runs into assumes she's a traitor even when she's trying to save their lives. To make this worse, there was already an evil clone of Supergirl in season 1, so this whole situation isn't exactly unprecedented.

  • Wicked: The citizens of Oz are like this, eating up everything the Wizard and Morrible say about Animals, and later about Elphaba. After trying to fight the propaganda and failing, Elphie turns this to her advantage when the rumor that "her soul is so unclean/pure water can melt her!" is put to the test.

    Video Games 
  • In the city of Qeynos in EverQuest most people are oblivious to the fact that Kane Bayle is secretly the leader of a group of corrupt rebels allied with a cult of necromancers and instead see him as the noble commander of the city guard and loyal brother to the city's lord. Consequently, if you are seen fighting his corrupt followers the loyal guards and citizens who don't know any better will rush to their aid against you.
  • Final Fantasy X: Seymour Guado. No matter what he does, what he plans, how Obviously Evil he acts, and how downright creepy he gets, the public of Spira will instantly assume that he's the good guy and anybody who opposes him is a villain, without even asking what the full story is. Somewhat justified in that he's one of the world's four Maesters of Yevon, the religion that basically runs the entire planet. An old man in one of Macalania Temple's side rooms will discuss Seymour's achievements. He performed good deeds for Yevon and the Guado sometime before the game, which presumably earned him a trustworthy reputation.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, a number of villagers believe Link to be a criminal who has kidnapped the Princess due to propaganda disseminated by Agahnim, who has deposed the king (and sent him into the Dark World). Two will even call the guards to attack Link if they see him.
  • The Big Bad of Persona 5 firmly believes this. Because the people of Tokyo firmly believe that societal harmony is the only ideal worth holding, Yaldabaoth concludes that humanity as a whole is too stupid to lead itself. He even refers to them as such, saying that they would rather accept an easy road to destruction and ruin than a difficult one to salvation and reform.
  • Pokémon:
    • In Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire (and its remakes), the player is informed of how gullible Professor Cozmo can be when it comes to his profession. If anyone were to show any type of interest, Cozmo will trust the person without hesitation. This is how Team Magma was able to steal the Meteorite from him.
    • In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, the grunts from Team Galactic fit this description. They believe Galactic is a natural energy company, and only battle the protagonist because they were promised rare Pokemon in return. Little did they know their evil leader's main ambition was to destroy this world and create a new universe he could rule. Brilliant, guys.
    • The people of Unova are conscientious of their Pokemon to a fault. At Accumula Town, Ghetsis Harmonia makes a speech about the virtues of Pokemon liberation and how Pokemon can never truly be equal to humans while bound to a ball — and they just eat it up. It's only after Team Plasma gets a little too overt that the League starts taking action when all someone had to do to potentially derail the entire plot was present a historical overview of Pokemon crime history in the other four regions as a counterpoint back at Accumula. Oh, and for someone to give N some much-needed TLC; that'd be great, too.
  • The citizens of Mikado in Shin Megami Tensei IV live strict lives never defying their superiors and any progressive ideas are shut down at the least and gets them executed at worst. This is especially telling when you learn that the "Literature" that drives those who read it so insane they mutate into demons is completely normal literature from modern-day Japan. They're such lemmings that they suffer from You Cannot Grasp the True Form at the concept of the free lifestyle of your average human in the 2000s.
  • Almost the entirety of the human race becomes this in XCOM 2. Despite the aliens killing people indiscriminately and bombing their cities, humanity buys into their excuse that it was all just a misunderstanding and allows them to establish a Vichy Earth without much resistance after XCOM's defeat at their hands. As a result, the remnants of XCOM are labeled as terrorists and any humans outside La Résistance who see them will alert their local ADVENT forces. It isn't until XCOM reveals their plans to process all humans for their genetic material that the humans decide to take their world back.

    Web Comics 
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, the Big Bad, King Radical, successfully overthrows the U.S. government, blows up Congress and forms a dictatorship under himself. His charisma is so strong that, even though he openly plans to sacrifice billions of people to save his own world, all of his would-be victims love him.

    Web Original 
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: Dr. Horrible believes this to be the case, and his plans for world domination are all wrapped up in plans to fix the world's problems and get rid of the flawed society which currently exists.
  • Used in The Spoony Experiment during his review of Final Fantasy VIII. Doctor Insanonote  is elected President of the US, and his inaugural address consists of him berating the American populace for being so stupid that they elected a man who didn't even bother hiding the fact that he's a thoroughly evil Mad Scientist. This is of course a gigantic parody and lampshading of a plot twist in the game, where the Sorceress (who is Obviously Evil) is made leader of a nation and the people cheer for her even as she openly insults them.
    Doctor Insano: My election platform was to build a giant robot sawblade that would cut Canada off at the top and then attach it to Australia so they wouldn't bother us anymore! My vice president... is Fu Manchu! What the hell is wrong with you people?! I'm pretty sure that's not even legal! Oh, man, we are so going to jack this country up beyond repair!

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: The citizens of the Fire Nation are portrayed as pretty much exactly the same as the citizens of the Earth Kingdom, with the main difference that they're completely dedicated to The Empire after swallowing about a hundred years' worth of propaganda and having information about various acts of war kept from them. While this could be attributed to any group of citizens during the rule of a power others would call tyrannical, this really gets shown for what it is when the new Fire Lord, Zuko, takes power and instantly ends the war, at which point every Fire Nation citizen shown is completely behind him. Looks like they might just love their rulers too much.

  • Futurama:
    • The XXXI century people elected as president... the head of Richard Nixon (disembodied, still living, and preserved via 30th-century science). Is it needed to say anything else?
    • They also elected the first Robot President, John Quincy Addingmachine. He struck a note with the voters when he promised not to go on a killing spree, but like most politicians, he promised more than he could deliver.
    • Also there is President Fxjkhr, who replaced the statue in the Lincoln Memorial with one of himself sitting atop a pile of skulls.
    • There's also the time the people of New New York elected a Mad Scientist as governor, who moved all of Earth's historical landmarks to Monument Beach and carved himself onto Mount Rushmore. Which he also moved to the beach.
  • Strongly implied to be this in the Justice Lord's universe before they changed things in the Justice League episode "A Better World", where Lex Luthor was President of the United States, in spite of his history of villainy, and had apparently killed the Flash. Superman killed him in the end, but this tendency convinced him and the rest of the then-League to become tyrannical overlords.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: No matter how paper-thin her lies are, Lila more often than not has the entire class (sans Marinette and Adrien) eating out of her hand.
  • Satirized in an episode of The Simpsons. Kang and Kodos have replaced Clinton and Dole at the election, but what else would the voters do, throw their vote away on a third candidate?note 
  • Street Sharks: Dr. Paradigm is able to blame the Street Sharks for virtually anything, and the citizens of Fission City will accept his judgement without question. The Sharks only manage to put a dent in his credibility by forcing him to assume his Piranoid form on national TV.
  • Superman: The Animated Series: Used to an expert degree in the series finale. Superman finally knocks over Darkseid, tells the citizens of Apokolips that they're free... and to his dismay, they help the fallen despot to his feet and take him off to recuperate. "I am many things, Kal-El... but here, I am God." This example borders on straight-up Religion of Evil. The people of Apokolips are pretty much brainwashed slaves that worship their cruel and tyrannical God for being cruel and tyrannical.