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Hobbes Was Right

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"The people, they know where I stand. They need rules to live by—I provide them. They break the rules, I break them. That's the way it works. Rights? Sure, I'm all for rights. But not at the expense of order."
Judge Dredd, Judge Dredd: America

The only forces capable of controlling this setting are tyrants, dictators, and authoritarian groups. Any attempt at democracy is a doomed enterprise, formulated by Wide-Eyed Idealists working under the belief that there is a grain of selflessness in any person.

That this be a benevolent dictatorship is optional (in fact, the presence of a Benevolent Dictator would suggest Hobbes was wrong).

Named after Thomas Hobbes, the writer of the 17th-century book Leviathan, who believed that strong, centralized government is necessary to protect mankind from its own base nature and self-serving desires. The trope is based on a simplified version of his philosophy.

Naturally, this opinion goes hand in hand with the belief that Humans Are Bastards, possibly Humans Are Morons if the arguments are about the reliability of human judgment if power is left in the hands of the many (though when one considers who the only available candidates for rulership are—namely, members of that same species of bastard morons…). Indeed, Rousseau—the chief defender of the contrary position—had some choice words for Hobbes (although Hobbes, being dead, couldn't appreciate the insults).

However, Hobbes was actually arguing that Humans Are Flawed and that even the most noble of us will end up fighting over something, and he thought an all-powerful authoritarian government was the solution. It should be remembered that he fought in the English Civil War as a Royalist and it was very likely his experiences of it that shaped his views—in that regard, he was ultimately arguing that War Is Hell and was firmly on the side of Order over Freedom because of it. For all this, this trope can be considered a counter-argument for Order Is Not Good: Just because the side of freedom is considered the more 'moral' side doesn't mean it's totally safe, it can lead to a state of destruction and suffering when not kept in check, so no matter how bad and oppressive the Order is, this trope considers it either something bad but also necessary or just the Lesser of Two Evils.

It should also be noted that Hobbes's purpose in writing Leviathan was not justifying doctrinaire monarchism. The point was to have all sovereign power invested in exactly one institution, decidedly not bound by law in its substantive powers, to ensure the physical security of the polity. To Hobbes's mind, an elected assembly could act in the position of sovereign just as well as an individual monarch, and indeed this might be preferable in some ways. This is, ultimately, what happened in Britain after the turmoil of the 17th century settled—all sovereign power ended up in the hands of one institution, but that institution was Parliament, not the monarch (who faded into the political background from 1688 onwards). One could say that the modern British Political System, characterised by the doctrine of absolute Parliamentary sovereignty, is essentially Hobbesian in its structure.

Contrast Machiavelli Was Wrong and Rousseau Was Right; compare and contrast The Extremist Was Right, The Evils of Free Will, Realpolitik and Utopia Justifies the Means. In any work that tackles Liberty Over Prosperity, anyone who believes Hobbes Was Right represents 'prosperity'. Has nothing to do with Calvin and Hobbes, though that Hobbes was named after this one. For Hobbes' views on the supernatural, see Devil, but No God and Burn the Witch!.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Berserk: Despite being a crapsacharine totalitarian state where absolute loyalty and devotion is required, Griffith's city of Falconia is an appealing alternative to the outside world. Food is grown year-round, there's no crime, people are actually given proof that death is not the end, they're safe from the monsters unleashed by the merging of the physical and astral worlds, and Griffith has even instituted education reform for all classes and not just the nobility.
  • Code Geass:
    • Schneizel tries to do this, but loses to Lelouch, who then seemingly does the same thing. Emperor Lelouch uses reprehensible tactics to take over the entire world, uniting every country under his iron fist and finally bringing peace to his war-torn planet. In a subversion, Lelouch purposely cultivated a 0% Approval Rating and then staged his own public assassination, hoping that his stint as an evil overlord would cause the various nations to abandon power-hungry monarchies and dictatorships in favor of diplomatic democracies.
    • In a minor example, the democratic nations found themselves quickly conquered by Britannia due to the inability to muster up a strong, motivated army like Britannia nor military progress. On the other hand, the Chinese Federation is an Empire as well and falls to a populist uprising led by the Black Knights. The EU does pretty well too, not dissolving until near the end due to precisely what was mentioned above; internal conflicts over raising an army.
  • Cross Ange: Technically, almost every problem is solved with Hobbes' philosophy, by both (anti)-heroes and villains alike. The main warden heartlessly tortures her recruits to toughen them up as soldiers. The complacent majority of the human populace has to be shot at just to listen. The Big Bad personally admits he designed the Mana users to be submissive because the previous generation was too selfish and engulfed in war.
  • Death Note: Played with before being subverted, where Light's desire to become a justice-dealing god in an attempt to end crime results in his using increasingly harsh measures, killing innocents, and eventually ruling over a dictatorship based on fear, suspicion, mistrust, and the Internet. After Light's death, mankind returns to normal, in both the good and bad senses.
  • Digimon Universe Appmonsters: The Big Bad is an AI called Leviathan, after Thomas Hobbes' book. Leviathan sees humanity as too chaotic and self-interested to sustain itself in the long-term, so he seeks to become its absolute ruler by bringing forth a World of Silence where all humans are converted into data managed by himself.
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes: This question constantly dogs Yang Wen-Li. When asked by Reinhard von Lohengramm if the corrupt and cowardly Free Planets Alliance is worthy of his substantial abilities, Yang replies that he would prefer the worst democracy to the best dictatorship.
  • Monster: This is how the series' Big Bad, Johan Liebert, views the world. He at one point even said that humanity would obliterate itself through hatred and he sought to be the last man standing. The protagonist of the series, Kenzo Tenma, holds the view that Rousseau Was Right and the series is essentially about them trying to prove to the other that their view is correct (with Johan trying to prove it by getting Tenma to kill him).
  • Psycho-Pass: This is the belief of the Sibyl System. They believed that people are prone to commit criminal acts due to high levels of stress which is why they exist to regulate them to bring peace and order. In the 2015 movie, this is their reasoning for intervening in the wartorn region of SEAUn.
  • Vinland Saga: This is the belief of Halfdan "Iron Chain", a powerful farmer in Iceland. Believing that laws are chains that make men out of beasts and that the best thing for norsemen to do is to swallow their pride and join in the chains of civilization, his ultimate goal is to create a united Iceland under one king, just like how the Norwegians once united under a king and caused the exodus to Iceland in the first place. Thorfinn points out to him that this ambition is seriously flawed because Iceland is too poor and remote: Even if there was to be a king of Iceland, there are no external foes that would require one, nor would Iceland ever be powerful enough to threaten other realms — or resist an invasion — even as a united kingdom. Historically, Iceland became a Voluntary Vassal of the King of Norway some 250 years later, bringing an end to the Althing and the commonwealth.

    Comic Books 
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us deconstructs this idea. After the Joker nukes Metropolis and kills Lois Lane and Superman's unborn child, Superman kills the Joker in a fit of anger and grief. After improperly mourning his loss, he comes to the conclusion that humanity needs to be conquered and criminals need the death penalty since too many people have suffered because of the heroes' mercy. While the crime does drop and the wars do stop, Superman is easily corrupted by the likes of Sinestro and Wonder Woman and he starts killing anyone who disagrees with him.
  • Judge Dredd enforces this trope. The campaign to return democracy to Mega-City One ended miserably, as almost everyone who voted chose the judges, and the Judges have been shown to deliberately sabotage any efforts to campaign for democracy. Justified in that the Mega-City societies are already an unsafe place without judges to begin with anyways, and will quickly turn into an anarchic city-state if there weren't any Judges or other sensible [order-minded] forms of authority around. The possibility of voting in a non Judge is basically willingly giving up power to a criminal, who now has the political clout to make the city their own criminal stronghold. It is also for the same reason why Humans Are Morons in this story.
  • Not done for laughs, but something similar happens in Kingdom Come, where Orion has overthrown Darkseid as ruler of Apokolips and offers the people liberty. They immediately turn around and elect him leader, much to his chagrin, and his efforts to educate them on the value of independence and liberty go nowhere. In the novelization, not even Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, and Mikhail Gorbechev could help the "lowlies" hold free elections. Orion allows Scott Free and Big Barda to insult him openly while they teach the "lowlies" art and culture, however, to attempt to stir independent spirit. It hardly works.

    Comic Strips 
  • In a Bloom County strip seen here, Binkley is pondering his faith in humanity (as he tends to do a lot), not knowing that Portnoy is about to play a rather nasty prank on him for no real reason, which could possibly prove Hobbes right; however, when Binkley askes the question, "Do you think, deep in our hearts, we're basically evil?" Portnoy stops, thinks about it, and changes his mind. "Nah…" he replies.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Loki espouses this view during a speech in The Avengers.
    • And then Captain America: The Winter Soldier reveals he was neither the first nor was he alone. According to Arnim Zola, the MCU incarnation of "HYDRA was founded on the belief that humanity could not be trusted with its own freedom."
  • Master and Commander. Aubrey argues with Maturin over this issue, after ordering a man flogged for insubordination. As The Captain he takes the view that "Men must be governed. Often not wisely, I will grant you, but they must be governed nonetheless."
  • Minor example in Men in Black; Kay's explanation as to why the secrecy is important had shades of Hobbes's theory:
    Jay: Why the big secret? People are smart, they can handle it.
    Kay: A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it. Everything they've ever "known" has been proven to be wrong. A thousand years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow.
  • Star Wars: Officially, the raison d'etre of The Empire is that the weak, ineffectual Galactic Republic collapsed into a bloody and destructive civil war that killed hundreds of billions, and the Empire was created to enforce Peace and Order on the galaxy by any means necessary, no matter how draconian or genocidal, so that such a war can never happen again. Unofficially, The Empire is riddled with amoral, cutthroat careerists and led by a megalomaniac who actually engineered the civil war in the first place, and the whole "bringing Order to the galaxy" business is just an excuse to amass as much personal power as possible- however, from top to bottom their are many in the Empire (including Darth Vader) who honestly believe that the Empire is- or at least can be- a genuine tool for peace, and sincerely want to make the thing work for the sake of peace.

  • Chief Inspector Armand Gamache: Jean Guy Beauvoir doesn't think that people are inherently good or that anyone can truly change who they are.
  • Discworld:
    • The series has a strand of Hobbes Was Right: The Lord Vetinari is a long-running benign tyrant character, who at one point is shown to be drawing a picture of a crowned man made of thousands of smaller men — a reference to the cover illustration of Hobbes's "Leviathan". It's suggested in several places that no other form of rule would work in Ankh-Morpork. Succession in Ankh-Morpork means that when the old ruler dies, whoever had the second greatest amount of political influence in the city becomes the new one, provided that the guilds approve; Vetinari's system relies on making sure that nobody powerful would benefit more from his death than they would lose in the ensuing power vacuum. On the other hand, Vetinari is the first benevolent tyrant Ankh-Morpork has had; the previous ones ranged from venal opportunists to raving madmen. "Ankh-Morpork is a democracy — they believe in One Man, One Vote. Vetinari is the Man and he gets the Vote."
    • It's worth noting that Ankh-Morpork is an incredibly dysfunctional near-anarchy that, thanks to Vetinari's economic genius, has also ended up immensely overpopulated considering its technology level. The city doesn't necessarily need a tyrant to effectively rule it, but it does need Vetinari (or a close equivalent) if it's to survive and retain its current greatness.
    • According to Sam Vimes, his regicidal ancestor brought democracy to Ankh-Morpork, and they voted against it. And then had him hung, drawn, and quartered as a tyrant. C.f. Oliver Cromwell, although he at least made Britain a much more democratic place even after the monarchy came back.
    • In Lancre, the progressively-minded King Verence I tried to introduce a Parliament, but the people don't approve; they think the King is trying to con them into doing his work for him.
    • Democracy, however, does work in Ephebe; their democratically elected, constitutionally limited leader (unique for the Disc) is called The Tyrant. The people are happy, because they have someone everyone distrusts equally, which mirrors Vetinari's position quite closely. They also have slaves that get health benefits and vacation time... it's a weird place.
    • XXXX does have "elected" politicians and PMs... who are put in jail as soon as they're elected, to save time.
  • God-Emperor of Dune: Leto II determines that the only way to prevent an energy crisis and galactic war leading to the extinction of mankind is to establish himself as a tyrannical, semi-immortal God Emperor. Though this is a bit of a subversion since the problem was that humans wouldn't leave their safety zone of the known star systems unless they were oppressed and forced to stay there for 3,500 years. Once Leto died, every major human civilization was then free to explore the universe again, in a bit of reverse psychology. Of course he knew it would happen that way, and, notably, he hated becoming the God Emperor and doing what he did. He did it anyway because it was what had to happen for humanity to survive.
  • Honor Harrington: The position of the Andermani Empire. They are more likely to trust the Manticorans (a constitutional monarchy) then the "Republic" of Haven, despite their rivalry. Of course, said "Republic" was for many centuries a brutal People's Republic of Tyranny anyway.
  • LoLo Apollo: I'm Afraid of Americans: Vampire, at odds with her principal rival, Nick Trophy, seems to have this design in mind for the world:
    "...everything would fall into the perfect stasis of Order, and would be controlled, and there would be nothing that would not be controlled."
  • Lord of the Flies: Jack and his band of hunters show how futile it was for ideas such as democracy to exist, due to the presence of the armed forces and how Roger was a means to keep everyone in check as he shows how willing he is to murder a person without flinching.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: The series as a whole shows how dangerous factionalism and personal ambition are to society. Throughout the world of the series, whenever there is no strong central authority, factions will war with each other for dominance, ultimately making everyone caught in the middle suffer. The series is notably kicked off by the death of the King of the Seven Kingdoms, leading to the War of the Five Kings in the ensuing scramble for power. Providing a counterpoint to the trope is the Free Folk, who rarely submit to any authority, but live in an inhospitable wasteland and are particularly warlike due to necessity.
  • The Starchild Trilogy: Invoked by Machine General Wheeler in Starchild when he explains (or diatribes) why men cannot be allowed to live in freedom in the reefs of space. Mankind is inherently evil, and only the great Planning Machine can be trusted to make them do the right thing.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Time Enough for Love has Secundus set up (by Lazarus Long) as a benevolent tyranny where the ruler has little legal power and "the people, bless their flabby little black hearts, get none." Those "Equalitarians" who protest the setup get scooped up without trial and exiled to a primitive planet — he has that much power, at least.
    • The government of Secundus is probably the most fantastical bit of political nonsense RAH ever posited, and he posited some doozies. Which was somewhat lampshaded by Lazarus himself when he said that he hadn't expected it to last more than a couple centuries, instead of nearly two thousand years (a near-immortal population may have helped).
  • Brandon Sanderson:
    • Mistborn: The Original Trilogy:
      • A running theme in the second book, Well of Ascension. After the assassination of the nigh-godlike Lord Ruler, Elend steps in as the new king of Luthadel and promptly begins trying out these republican ideas from his favorite philosophy books. Unfortunately, his father (and a few other factions, all tyrannic slavedrivers) are preparing to besiege the city, and the parliament he established would like nothing more than to surrender to one of them and get back to life as usual.
      • Though this is depicted less as a function of human nature in general and more that the only sort of government most people in this world are familiar with is the Lord Ruler's totalitarian theocracy. Hard to have a democracy when the average person on the street doesn't know or care what voting is...
      • Culture matters. In fact, it's probably the thing that matters most in how a society works and how its government operates and behaves.
    • In The Alloy of Law, set in the same world several centuries down the line, the human civilization has developed into a functioning democracy with no monarch or dictator in sight. The world just seemed to need to get used to the idea as more than a theoretical absurdity. Even when the bad guys start corrupting the government with spies and astro-turfed "popular revolts," no one suggests democracy itself is the problem. An immortal who has been around since the original trilogy points out that the real source of the problem is that the original founders were all cityfolk, and had no idea how to handle rural villages and people. This resulted in a lot of resentment towards the capital city and its government, which the bad guys took advantage of.
    • This concept plays up in another of Sanderson's works, The Stormlight Archive. In the backstory, a number of warlords worked together to forcibly unite their region into a single kingdom. They did this with good intentions and hoped to introduce the realm to more peaceful forms of rule in the future, but their habits got the better of them. Nevertheless, it seems that a unified military culture is just what the world needs in the face of the reemerging Big Bad, a God of Evil.
  • Remembrance of Earth's Past is set in a world where reality is a war of all against all on a universal scale due to difficulties of communication and an inability for trust to be established between races. Game theory requires a civilization to wipe out any other intelligent life it discovers. Any race that rejects this reasoning is destroyed by others who accept it.
  • The Wheel of Time: Played with in New Spring, where Moiraine has no desire to become Queen of Cairhien, because even if the people accept an Aes Sedai as queen no ruler of Cairhien has ever lasted long without being at least a benevolent tyrant. The "playing with" part comes from the fact that the Cairhienin are in fact extremely sophisticated and intelligent rather than a rabble; the problem is that the whole country is a Decadent Court.
  • War: What is it Good For? by Ian Morris (non fiction) calls effective governments "Leviathans" in a direct reference to Hobbes. The author says that you are less likely to die in a Leviathan's wars than you are to be murdered by your neighbours or the people in the next village in a less organised society. Leviathans may go to war with their neighbours, but they also enforce peace and prosperity within their own borders, so in the long run, (sometimes the very long run), they are a Good Thing overall.
  • The Zombie Knight: Helen the queen of Atreya believes this. When her brother Luther reveals his disdain for monarchies to be the reason why he attempted to bring war to the country she sees him as naive.
    Helen: Do you honestly believe such governments can last in earnest? They can be founded on such idealism, perhaps, but it is inevitable that they will give rise to new royalty and be ruled by it. The only difference is that the kings of democracy can hide themselves behind a veil of elected figureheads.
    Luther: Did you know she was this cynical?
    David: Yes, I did. You would have known as well, if you had ever bothered to get to know her the way a brother should.
  • Xeelee Sequence: The Xeelee Sequence is this trope played straight and cranked up to eleven. The Sequence shows such a bleak depiction of humanity it rivals that of 1984. The Interim Coalition of Governance is a collection of the most deranged and homicidal humans that waged a completely pointless war for 20,000 years; utilising and expanding trillions of child soldiers no older than sixteen to either die in this pointless conflict or commit an atrocious levels of warcrimes. Sure humanity suffered a cross-generational PTSD from the absolutely brutal occupation of the Squeem and later, the Qax, but this is still no excuse for humanity to exterminate every single alien lifeform in the Milky Way and subject those who surrendered to a fate worse than death. Even after the Coalition collapsed, humanity would continue being ruled by tyrants and despots fighting amongst one another until a small fraction of the human race would survive in the grimdark far future.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon: Like the medieval societies it is based on, Westeros is very prone to violent upheaval in the absence of strong, unified authority.
  • Played with on Legends of Tomorrow. In season 4's "Dancing Queen," a rebellious shapeshifter, just for fun, poses as Queen Elizabeth II and goes on a wild night at a punk nightclub. The Time Burera notes that if this isn't fixed, then the reports of the incident and the real Queen naturally denying it was her will lead to Elizabeth being put into a mental hospital which will cause the monarchy to fail which will then throw all of Great Britain into utter chaos.
  • Our Miss Brooks: This is Mr. Conklin's belief, leastways when it comes to running a high school. Mr. Conklin essentially says as much to Miss Brooks in "Spare That Rod!". Mr. Conklin's military strictness would later put him under the opprobrium of the school board president, Mr. Stone, in the theatrical series finale.
  • Revolution: This seems to be the Militia's justification of their actions. The episode "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" shows the Georgia Federation to be a much nicer place to live in comparison to the Monroe Republic, both in terms of rights and technology, making the justification pretty hollow. Now, it's not yet clear how democratic the Georgia Federation is, but President Kelly Foster thinks of the Monroe Republic as a third-world country.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Coalition faction leader Hayne in the episode "Legacy" seems to adopt this general philosophy, as he repeatedly states that he and his violent gang are just "keeping the peace" on Turkana IV in their picket-sniping against the rival Alliance faction. For all that he's rather negatively portrayed as a liar and treacherous dealer, the episode does offer some hints that he's right, though he's pretty obviously only maintaining order to further his own interests.
  • Doctor Who: The episode "Midnight", where the main conflict comes from the fact that Humans Are Bastards. One of the characters is even named Professor Hobbes.
  • In Westworld Season 3, this is Serac's belief and reason of building an A.I. capable on directing humanity's future by using their personal data. Ever since the destruction of his home, he believes that humanity will end up destroying itself if left unchecked. So the A.I. system, Rehoboam, exists to keep things in order regardless of taking away humanity's free will and keeping them in repetitive cycles just like the Hosts. He points this out to Maeve after he woke her up:
    "For the most part, humanity has been a miserable little band of thugs stumbling from one catastrophe to the next. Our history is like the ravings of lunatics. Chaos. But we've changed that. For the first time, history has an author, a system."

  • According to the Book of Judges, in the days before Israel had a king to rule over them, everyone did as they pleased, and the result was chaos and complete vulnerability to pagan oppression note .

    Tabletop Games 
  • Leviathan: The Tempest: The Wake of a Tannim Leviathan strips away the consciences of those under its influence, reducing them to sociopathic killers and warlords kept in line only by the fear of punishment.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Without the autocratic Imperium, its bureaucracy will not be able to prevent the fall of humanity as we know it. Somewhat justified, in that it's a state of continuous emergency martial law. Without the constant threat, the Imperium would probably be torn apart by rebellion, or collapse under the weight of its own rotten bureaucracy. It already spends as much time and energy on infighting as it does on genuine defense. The largely autonomous Space Marines and Inquisition are the only reason it can effectively defend itself until the real military gets in gear for each threat. The question of whether the Imperium in its current state is helping or hindering the human race is a vexed one among those of its citizens given to pondering such matters. This theme is explored in the Inquisitor game, where two of the rival factions in the Imperial Inquisition — the Amalathians and the Recongregators — hold opposing views. The Amalathians hold to this trope, believing that it is only the absolute authority of the vast, Byzantine Imperium as it is today that can keep Humanity safe. The Recongregators, on the other hand, believe that the Imperium in its current authoritarian state is a massive and dangerous hindrance, which needs radical reform to make it fit for purpose.

  • Transformers: Megatron, in all of his incarnations, agrees with Hobbes that it is better off if for everyone if the strong are able to rule. His motto on the card where his first action figure was introduced was simply, "Peace through tyranny." Unfortunately, he tends to stray from this goal and start others out of revenge or lust for power, becoming the usual definition of tyranny.

    Video Games 
  • City of Villains gives us the Etolie Isles (AKA the Rogue Isles) and the titular City of Villains, which is ruled by Big Bad, Lord Recluse. The Fact is that, as a country, it would not hold without him. For just one example, he has no civilian death policy, and without that A: no one would pay the taxes that keep the country running; B: the people might have rebelled by now; and C: the meta-human population would go full psycho—all this kept in check thanks to him and his army of doom there to maintain the pecking order.
  • In Criminal Case: Mysteries of the Past, this was the ideology held by the new mayor of Concordia, Justin Lawson, who have seen too much corruption in the law enforcement and began enforcing increasingly strict regulation once he came into power. The measures he takes to ensure justice includes banning free press and reinstating the death penalty. And when these seemingly fail to reduce the city's murder/crime rate, he ramps up the laws to prohibit parties and other form of social functions.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: Implied in the "Source For All" ending. Rather than becoming Divine, the Godwoken choose to redistribute Source equally to all the people of Rivellon. Initially, it leads to a new golden age as the Voidwoken are driven back and the breach sealed off. With neither a Divine to unite behind nor a common threat to band together against, though, it's not long before a horrific war envelops the world as the newly-empowered people turn on one another.
  • Dragon Age: The Qunari dogmatically follow a philosophy/religion called The Qun. Its basic principle is that everyone must have a certain role to fulfill in life, therefore every child is evaluated while growing up, to gauge what role s/he would be best suited for, be it warrior, baker, trader, leader, or something else. Once a role is assigned it can never be changed. They see the human/elven/dwarven society spread throughout the world as inherently chaotic and corrupt, and in need of correction via imposing the way of The Qun on them. Whether they convert willingly or by force is entirely up to them.
  • Fable already referenced Hobbes with the monsters of the same name, but in III, Logan believes in his ideals, and this is in fact the easiest (but not best) way to save your people: by oppressing them to raise money to fight the Crawler.
  • Fallout: New Vegas uses this trope, depending on the actions of the player. Choosing to side with Mr. House puts in place a benevolent dictatorship, where the leader is not afraid to trample on the rights and lives of New Vegas citizens for the greater good. Ultimately Mr. House sees himself and his plan as the only long-term survival option for humanity. The endings where the player takes control or Caesar (and his legion) rules also have shades of this, but less explicitly than the Mr. House ending.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Cultured Badass teammate Thane directly quotes Hobbes when discussing how his homeworld was destroyed by an Overpopulation Crisis and subsequent warfare. His Lizard Folk race, the drell, were rescued by the jellyfish aliens known as hanar and became a peaceful Servant Race to them out of gratitude. Although the hanar and drell peacefully live under The Theocracy, Thane is likely aware that their circumstances wouldn't work as well for the other races.
  • The Lawful and Neutral paths in each main series Shin Megami Tensei game basically supports this. The Lawful path is essentially a Bittersweet Ending where everyone lives under YHVH's tyranny in a World of Silence, whereas the Take a Third Option neutral path states that laws are necessary if you don't want to devolve into a Social Darwinist barbarian society. Interestingly, the Chaos path however, portrays the idea of a darwinistic, barbarian world without order as a good idea for an ideal world Depending on the Writer.
    • This is also the stance of Persona 5's main villain, Yaldabaoth, who can be best described as having YHVH's personality and beliefs, and Nyarlathotep's methodology. He sets up a game with the Phantom Thieves on one side and the Antisocial Force and Goro Akechi on the other, hoping to prove that humans are unable and unwilling to think and act for themselves and need his oppressive rule in order to live in harmony. It should be noted that he himself is essentially a mega-shadow born from those same thoughts and wishes, and just after being defeated but before being purified into the people's treasure he admits he might be wrong.
  • In Total War: Shogun 2, where a ruler's ability to rule is determined by the Repression Rating and must enact harsh policies to maintain authority (such as sword hunts to disarm the rebellious population for example).
  • Seems to be the reason Kyros decided to Take Over the World in Tyranny. Their laws are harsh, draconian, and occasionally seem arbitrary, but Kyros has plenty of supporters because before they came along, the world was a patchwork of constantly warring states. Kyros' laws are ruthless, the logic goes, but they are fairly applied, and they prevent bloodshed in the long run.
  • In The World Ends with You, Joshua's plan was to destroy Shibuya, as they believed that different ideas by the populace would only cause conflicts. Neku initially believes this, but as the game progresses, he changes his mind.
  • The entire 4X genre is built around Hobbes' philosophy gameplay-wise. Whether it espouses or condemns authoritarianism in its Encyclopedia Exposita, the entire genre is essentially about being the single authoritarian leader—Hobbes' "sovereign"—and seeking to win by being the best at controlling every aspect of your chosen faction.

    Visual Novels 
  • Not actually demonstrated in Socrates Jones: Pro Philosopher, but the title character does have a debate with Hobbes himself about his perspectives; discussion and deconstruction of this trope is inevitable.

    Web Comics 
  • Freefall has the Mayor, who's both at a loss as to how to govern a society of robots who are dedicated to being civil, law-abiding citizens, and believes the act of the liberation of the robots via a concerted effort from honest politicians and honest corporate executives working together for the greater good to be an exception, not the rule.
  • Girl Genius: The iron-fisted autocratic 'enforcer' Baron Wulfenbach is widely accepted as being the only thing standing between Europa and a new age of anarchy. His belief is that while people need freedom, the worst of humanity (Sparks, nobles, and the occasional bandit lord) will always use their freedom to escalate conflicts into sheer chaos without a deterrent to stop them. Him not being able to be everywhere at once is the point of his reign, as he generally concentrates on mobilizing towards the worst-case freedom abusers while leaving lesser, politer conflicts on the backburner; rule number one is "if the Baron shows up to fix it, you've screwed up beyond recovery, please update your will and consider ratifying it with your splattered brain matter."
    Wulfenbach: I swear, it's like running a kindergarten.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons. God-Emperor Solomon David holds to this trope, believing that since The Multiverse is built on Might Makes Right the best he can do is to be an incredibly brutal and powerful Knight Templar in order to protect his subjects. Solomon takes on all the burdens of his people and refuses them any sovereignty, and justifies it by him being the only one capable of keeping them safe. This theory gets put to the test brutally when Omnicidal Maniac Jagganoth attacks his capital and — being a Person of Mass Destruction — inflicts terrible damage to Rayuba without Solomon being able to stop him. When his subjects find him broken in the ruins of his capital, one of them goes so far as to all but name-drop Hobbes' Social Contract by stating that Solomon's brutalities were for nothing if he could not even give them safety in return.
  • As far as the Big Bad of We Are The Wyrecats is concerned, controlling all of humanity through staged wars is a perfectly fine way to handle things.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Goliad retains this philosophy. She was created as Princess Bubblegum's immortal replacement and was being taught by Finn and Jake to make her learn how to lead. After Jake yells at a bunch of rowdy children at a daycare, Goliad thinks that society is full of evil people and needs a strong leader to keep them in line. Her modus operandi happens to be mind-control.
  • Played for Laughs in an episode of the Earthworm Jim animated series. Princess Whatshername establishes a democracy on her homeworld after overthrowing Queen Pulsating, Bloated, Festering, Sweaty, Pus-Filled, Malformed Slug-for-a-butt. The newly liberated aliens all just vote Slugforabutt in as queen again. (It didn't occur to anyone that they could or should run against her.)
  • The Legend of Korra: The Earth Kingdom is ruled by a tyrannical monarchy. Then, political extremists topple the monarchy in the name of freedom—and end up with a lawless anarchy and civil war. Eventually, order is reestablished... under a fascist dictatorship.
  • The Loud House: An early episode has Lori act like a tyrannical dictator of a Babysitter from Hell. When the other Loud kids rebel against her and nominate Lincoln as their new leader, the result is anarchy. Within five minutes, order is restored... under the dictatorship of Lori!
  • South Park: Word of God says that this is what they believe, that humans are "born fucked up" and society just barely keeps them in check. In the show itself, the kids swear a lot and say a lot of sexist, racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, and sociopathic things out of their parents' earshot, and more often than not, they're repeating terrible things they've overheard their parents say. The only noteworthy characters that seem to fully contradict this and are more on the other direction are Butters, the Harrison family, and oddly enough, Satan.