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"I'll control the world with fear. It takes too much to do it like my old man. A little fear will control the minds of the common people. There's no reason to waste money on them."
Rufus Shinra upon his takeover of the Shinra Electric Power Company, Final Fantasy VII

Every leader has their own personal style, their own spin on how to get, maintain, and lead supporters, and villains are no exception. Here are the ways evil leaders like the Evil Overlord, Big Bad, or even a petty crime boss lead, control or coerce their Evil Minions, Mooks, henchmen, and The Dragon to do their evil bidding. In no alphabetical order, they are:

  • Authority: The legitimate authority figure within an organization, such as an army, and his minions are under him on the organizational chart. The minions may or may not be aware of his true objectives, but follow him because it's their job to do so. The General Ripper, Hanging Judge, and leaders of The Remnant are examples of this. An Engineered Public Confession that proves he has betrayed the interest of the organization can bring him down, as can going through his superiors (if he has any), otherwise replacing him, or an Enemy Civil War with other branches of service.
    • Birthright: The Big Bad has some sort of birthright (for example, he's some sort of feudal warlord) and the mooks are bound to him by a code of honor/duty. Usually The Caligula or God Save Us from the Queen!. Only outright assassination or a coup d'etat from a good sibling can stop them.
    • Divine Right: The villain claims to be a god or has the blessing of a god to be The Leader. Alternatively, may be a Dark Messiah faking/actually possessing either divine or demonic backing. Doesn't matter if they are Good or Evil; they will sometimes be worshiped and followed purely because they are divine.
    • Obligation: Some people believe that a man's word is his bond, and that even if they have no personal Loyalty to the villain, they have a contract, promise, or other obligation that they have to fulfill. In some cases, they may even be bound to the Big Bad by a Magically-Binding Contract regardless of what they would want to do themselves. The best routes the hero can take to defeat this will usually involve convincing the minion that their boss has no intentions of keeping their promises, finding loopholes they can exploit, or coming up with a way to Take a Third Option that technically fulfills the obligation without harming the hero's cause.
    • Popular Sovereignty: Rather than being a legitimate authority figure installed by external sources, the Big Bad is elected or selected from those below to implement an agenda. These villains are both easier and harder to combat than their cousins; since they achieved their authority through consent, they can be discredited if shown to be incompetent or a Straw Hypocrite. Unfortunately, these Big Bads rarely bring their organization down with them unless they were a special breed of Magnificent Bastard. There are always a long line of wannabe evil presidents and pirate captains in the wings...
    • Your Minion's Minions: A great way to keep powerful minions in line is by having influence over THEIR minions through one of the other methods. Many a Starscream and potential Young Conqueror were undercut by the possibility of their rebellion facing a loyalist counterreaction. Bonus points if the vassal is powerful in their own right to take you out but not powerful enough to take on their own vassals.
  • Corruption: The Big Bad decides that rather than recruit from those interested, he'll instead make an applicant pool by means of The Dark Side, Being Tortured Makes You Evil, More than Mind Control, Psycho Serum, or the dreaded chocolate chip cookies of doom! To undo this usually requires an "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight and a lesson about how Good Feels Good, but those corrupted tend to be harder to break free (and for the villain to control) than Mind Control below.
  • Fear: The bad guy controls their Mooks with good old Machiavellian Fear. Because Rank Scales with Asskicking, he will use threats of violence on them and/or their loved ones. The mooks are in no way evil, just working under threat of violence. Heroes can break this form of control in different ways. One is to rescue the hostages, beat up the Big Bad (thus proving him to be weak and "harmless"), convincing the mooks of The Power of Friendship, or demonstrating that it is he who should be feared. If the odds turn against a particular villain, there's also the chance of the mooks getting their own back. Criminals and crime organizations tend to be fond of this one. A favorite for subordinates who are Trapped in Villainy.
    • Being the Lesser Evil: In a world with Black-and-Gray Morality, the Evil Overlord gets assistance from the population because they're fighting against Eldritch Abominations. What's a little slavery and torture compared to living in Mordor? If the heroes can't immediately provide a better alternative, i.e. they really do need the Less Evil Side's assistance, a Conspiracy Redemption may be in order.
    • Coercion: The villain has a hold on someone that they can leverage to make someone do whatever they wish, be it a threat to some loved one that they've kidnapped, having their hands on something the minion needs to survive or would die if they lost (such as a lich's Soul Jar), or access to a crippling weakness that said minion has. The best way to get this kind of minion to turn on the villain is to remove the hold that the villain has on them, such as by rescuing those under threat or getting back what the villain has.
    • Evil Versus Oblivion: The villain markets his methods as the only viable solution to a crisis that will result in The End of the World as We Know It. The most likely way this particular motivator can be undermined is for the Hero to find a way to Take a Third Option that works and doesn't involve any undue coercion.
    • Fear of Losing Privileges: The villain ensures loyalty by stating that the heroes want to do things like free their slaves and reduce their political power — this generally only works if the evil minions are part of a noble class. Unless the heroes have more money than Mammon, they're not going to be able to provide compensation for their loss of status even if the outcome is fair. Conversely, select Elite Mooks can be convinced to turn against the Big Bad if doing so would (temporarily, hopefully) give them greater privileges.
    • Point of No Return: This villain is supported by his minions for one reason; if the villain falls, they will be severely punished by a legitimate authority. If the minions didn't do anything to earn punishment, an honest promise from the hero to spare them will get many of them to abandon their leader. Minions may feel that they're Trapped in Villainy.
    • Prejudice: Villains love controlling prejudiced minions, because nothing short-circuits a minion's critical thinking abilities like whipping up hatred and a desire to dominate an "other". If revealing the villain to be a secret target of the bigotry or a Straw Hypocrite is too distasteful for the hero, they need to hunker down for a long campaign to eliminate or at least ameliorate the minions' prejudice.
  • (Fanatical) Loyalty: Nothing beats blind loyalty in minions. The minions are loyal for one or more of the following reasons:
  • Material Benefits: Sometimes, the reason minions follow a villain comes down to a matter of simple supply and demand — the villain promises to give them something they want in exchange for services rendered, or that the job itself will serve as a means to an end to make what they want easier to get. If not bound by any other ties, the simplest way for the heroes to counter this is simply helping the minions find more convenient legitimate ways to get what they want.
    • Incidental Importance: This tactic, favored by Emperor Scientists and Dark Messiahs especially, is to provide some sort of benefit to their minions that is unrelated to their ruling over them. The idea is that if this person is buttressing their economy or mass-curing plagues around the countryside, they'll be able to do so better (or alternatively, threaten not to so do) if they get authority alongside it. These villains need to be undercut by separating the benefit from the authority figure or just showing that there is Always Someone Better.
    • Money: Money is a valid superpower, after all, and the bad guy hires Punch Clock Villains to do his evil bidding. Being motivated by filthy lucre (or having Signed Up for the Dental), the best way for heroes to cause a mass desertion is either to outbid the bad guy or bankrupt him. If the villain is rich enough, this can be the most effective kind of control.
    • Sexual Favors: A more direct but less effective form of reward, and sometimes overlaps with Love under Loyalty. A common method for Femme Fatale characters, it generally only works on a few minions at a time, and rarely is the sole motivator.
  • Mind Control / Remote Control: Loyalty is such a finicky thing. It takes ages to create, can be crumbled in seconds, and requires continuous upkeep. Some villains decide to take loyalty (and free will) out of the equation with mind control, and/or robotic minions. The downside is that they can be Turned Against Their Masters and/or shut down by pulling a plug.
  • Power: Asskicking Leads to Leadership or some other such variant; the Big Bad is followed because he is the strongest. Can be undone if The Hero defeats him or otherwise proves himself powerful enough in some other fashion. This works best when the Big Bad possesses godlike abilities.

See also Stock Evil Overlord Tactics.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • My Hero Academia: In the past, All For One was shown to control his minions by giving them Quirks, thus indebting them to him. However, he's also shown a talent for manipulating people frustrated with hero society through their philosophical ideals, such as feeding Shigaraki those ideals and using them to groom him or appealing to Lady Nagant's cynicism to convince her to work for him. Part of what makes him such a Manipulative Bastard is that whatever the reason for those people's convictions, he's convincing them to fight to tear down one of the only things keeping him from turning Japan into his own personal dictatorship.
  • Maria no Danzai: Nozomu Okaya controls his gang of demonic teenage bullies through a mix of fear and charisma. This group of monster teens gets a kick out of torturing their classmates and committing crimes, but they have no real loyalty towards each other. The glue that holds them together is Nozomu. He holds them together with fear, keeping them from tearing each other apart, but it shows that while this gang of bullies has no loyalty to each other, they are genuinely devoted to him and want to get his favor.
  • In the Saint Seiya spin-off Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, you have almost all of the above represented in Hades' army. Notably, Garuda Aiacos lead his soldiers/sailors through fear of him, and routinely killed them over minor failures or to fuel his attacks. Hades himself uses Agenda to lead Kagaho Benu, and a combination of Agenda and Birthright for most of the other Spectres. The garden variety named Spectres after their conversion via Corruption, usually do it for Sadism. Charon is motivated by money, and is in fact Lawful Neutral enough to honor a deal with the Saints and ferrying them to the shore... despite having previously betrayed them by giving their payment for said crossing (Athena's hair) to Hades, allowing him to seal her powers.
  • Bishop Mozgus from Berserk keeps a handful of deformed sick and dying orphans, who he took in when no one else would and turned into his torturing, murdering inquisitorial hitmen, making them a combination of Acceptance, Kindness, and Indoctrination.
    • Griffith himself back in his Hawks days mainly worked through Respect, with Casca's recruitment being a case of Kindness and Guts' recruitment being a case of Power. Following his reincarnation as Griffith again in the mortal realm after becoming Femto, he gains a new set of demonic minions who follow him because he is the fifth member of the Godhand, making this a combination of Authority and Divine Right. Zodd becomes Griffith's personal Dragon after being defeated by him, making this another case of Power.
  • With the mages of the Eye of the Midnight Sun, Licht from Black Clover controls them through Loyalty. The Third Eye follows him as his fellow elves who share his desire to kill all humans. The human mages of the group follow him through a combination of Agenda, Acceptance, and Respect out of a desire to ascend to their true forms, his acceptance of them regardless of their background, and respect of him as a god-like figure. However, it's revealed to be a farce for them as he never considered them to be his comrades and only used them to be marked as sacrifices for the elves' reincarnation.
  • Bleach: Aizen keeps the more rowdy and unruly Espada such as Grimmjow in line through intimidation and manipulation. The other Arrancar follow Aizen faithfully as they believe him to be a man without any shred of fear, something they find inspiring.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: Any demons created from Muzan's blood are kept under his thumb through sheer terror, as anything done to displease him will lead to a brutal death. Only the most powerful demons among the Twelve Kizuki are granted a degree of leniency, as strength is something he greatly values in his subordinates.
  • Fist of the North Star:
    • Most of the bad guys control their minions through Fear and Power, and not a little bit of Sadism to boot.
    • Raoh commanded men whose true nature was that of "demons that eat people," meaning that he had to be a "demon that consumes demons" in order to suppress them. Because of being one of the two most powerful practitioners of Hokuto Shinken on the planet (the other being Kenshiro), he is able to keep his mooks in line well enough when he is at full strength. But unlike several of the other bad guys of the series, he does not give them free rein to indulge their worst sides upon the people under his rule, and after returning from his period of laying low after his first battle with Kenshiro and seeing the atrocities in which his men had been indulging in his absence, he punishes them in ruthless fashion.
  • Mazinger:
    • Mazinger Z: Dr. Hell controlled his lackeys through a mix of Acceptance, Loyalty, Mind Control, and Sadism. All his Mooks were brainwashed cyborgs and his Robeasts were mindless monsters controlled through a remote control. Most of their Co-Dragons were loyal mostly because they were alive thanks to him... and because he punished disloyalty and failure harshly (he always avoided You Have Failed Me scenarios, though). Those who were not mind-controlled or afraid of his power and sadism, though, were prone to rebel and in the case of Gorgon, he responded to another authority.
    • Great Mazinger: Great Emperor of Darkness was a God-Emperor, so he used Authority, Fear, Loyalty, Power, and Divine Right. His minions were loyal and respected his authority because he had protected the whole Mykene civilization when they were forced to hide underground, and because its power (in Shin Mazinger, his real identity was Hades).
    • UFO Robo Grendizer: King Vega used Authority (he was his planet's ruler), Loyalty (his minions were very loyal), Fear, and Acceptance (he was a bastard, but he cared for his people. He started his conquering campaigns to find a new homeworld for them).
  • The early One Piece villains, Alvida, Morgan, Buggy, Kuro, and Don Krieg were all huge fans of Power and Fear (incidentally, this was a pet peeve for Luffy). Arlong, however, averted this completely: his crew are genuine True Companions. From there onwards, the villains became more varied in their methods.
    • Alvida and Buggy, the only recurring early villains, later switched to Love and Respect, respectively.
    • Doflamingo is notable for using almost all of the above. For the general populace of the kingdom he rules, he uses a combination of Power, Fear, and Authority. For his lower-ranked subordinates, it's all of those mixed in with genuine Respect (from some of them) and Fear of Losing Privileges. For his top-ranked subordinates it's a combination of Respect and Popular Sovereignty (they chose to follow him at a young age after seeing his power). Doflamingo himself believes that he derives authority from Birthright/Divine Right since he's a World Noble whose family left Marejois to live with commoners, which Doflamingo resents greatly, even though he technically no longer has authority in that capacity. He also attempted to use Tykebomb Indoctrination and Corruption on Law as a kid (although it failed thanks to his brother's interference) and uses Money to get the government to look the other way.
  • Medusa of Soul Eater controls Eruka with Fear (via Explosive Leash), Crona through Fear and Indoctrination (what with being Crona's mother), the Mizune sisters through Revenge (they think the DWMA killed their oldest sister, which was actually Medusa), and Free through Kindness (for breaking him out of jail). Arachne controls all of hers through Blind Obedience and Love, except Mifune, to whom she has Incidental Importance (Arachephobia provides a means to protect Angela).
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Dio Brando is willing to use every trick in the book to recruit minions. Want money? Name your price. Want sex? Male or female, he's totally willing. In an emotionally vulnerable position and looking for guidance? Dio's happy to show the way. Are you a dyed-in-the-wool sadist, hedonist, or just all-around asshole? Dio will give you the means to indulge your basest desires. Still don't want to join? Well, he's got flesh buds for that.
  • Akame ga Kill!: General Esdeath is the most feared woman in the Empire and noted as a brutal Sadist that does things like burying entire tribes alive. But then it turns out that her forces are so loyal to her because she is a Mother to her Men, always having her meals alongside the common troops and requesting that any reward she earns be shared among their families. She has high expectations for those serving her, but shows such genuine Kindness to them that almost all have Undying Loyalty to her as a result.
  • Kill la Kill: Two contrasting examples appear in Episode 15. Takarada controls his people with money, but Kiryuin shows him that fear is a much more controlling force by striking his people's hearts and making them scatter.
  • Dragon Ball: Frieza is a big fan of Fear and Power. He's orders of magnitude more powerful than the rest of his subordinates put together and a Sadist that has no problem with killing them for trivial reasons. So they have little choice but to obey him.
  • Fruits Basket: While not minions per se, Akito keeps the Sohma family under his thumb through fear. When Yuki forgives him and makes it clear he's no longer afraid of him, Akito flips out since it means his power over the Zodiac is waning.
  • Overlord (2012):
    • Ainz controls the minions of Nazarick through fanatical loyalty. Due to their original nature as NPC creations of his guild, when they were brought to life in the New World they all worship him as a Supreme Being and are utterly devoted to him body and soul. The only things that can sway them are their loyalty to their creators (if any NPC had to choose between Ainz or their creator they would choose their creator) or as seen with the case of Shaltear Downfall of Castle and Country, a World Item with the power to dominate the mind of any being. Ainz nonetheless doesn't want to rely on this entirely and tries his best to be a Benevolent Boss to them. One of the ways Emperor Jircniv is Entertainingly Wrong about Ainz is that he thinks Ainz is a tyrant who controls his minions through fear and thus believes there's a chance to turn someone in Nazarick against Ainz. Demiurge already predicted this and finds this hilarious.
    • Outside of Nazarick, it varies:
      • The Lizardmen fall under Power since their culture already revolved around Asskicking Leads to Leadership. After they surrender to Ainz, his sheer power is enough to convince them to worship him as a god. This is all the more impressive since the Lizardmen never worshiped gods in the past.
      • The Dwarven Runesmiths get Material Benefits. Ainz won them over by offering to support their dream of reviving Runecraft.
      • The human population of the Sorceror Kingdom are a mixed bag. They're controlled through fear mostly, but they also learn to appreciate the prosperity and peace (even if said peace is enforced through Death Knights). It helps that Ainz has arranged controlled opposition in the form of Pandora's Actor acting as "Dark Warrior Momon", the heroic identity Ainz cultivated early in the series. "Momon" both grants the people a sense of security and informs Ainz of any concerns the people are too afraid to say to his face.
      • Most, unsurprisingly, are controlled through fear. Emperor Jircniv eventually surrenders the Empire to be a vassal state since he's utterly convinced he cannot win against Ainz. The Trolls and the Naga of the Great Forest submit to Ainz when it becomes clear that he can and will slaughter them all if they don't. The Frost Dragons also do the same after he instantly killed their patriarch and one of his sons. The Quagoa are cowed into serving him after Shaltear slaughtered them (she would have wiped them out entirely if they didn't agree to personally cull their own numbers down to 10,000 — they were originally 60,000).
  • YuYu Hakusho: Toguro, out of all his subordinates, only his brother has anything resembling loyalty to him. The others only serve out of fear of death at his hands for refusing.

    Comic Books 
  • Earthworm Jim (2019): Bob can only control others by tapping into their fear. Once he learned that cats fear water, he was able to enslave an entire planet filled with them.
  • New Gods: DIE! DIE! DIE FOR DARKSEID! And the people of Apokolips obey, out of a combination of Fear, Sadism, Power, Divine Right, and Indoctrination. He has also used Corruption and/or Mind Control on occasion as well, but those tend to be less permanent. In The Great Darkness Saga, Darkseid creates cloned Servants so they are absolutely loyal to him, and uses to mind-control to dominate the whole Daxamite race.
  • Emperor Golgoth from Empire controls his lieutenants by giving them a highly addictive Super Serum that only he knows how to synthesize.
  • Amanda Waller controls the Suicide Squad via cranial bombs. When she works with heroes or the first iteration of the Squad, she buys their Loyalty via Money or Information. More subtly, she keeps them in line with Prejudice, carefully selecting the Squad members from the worst dregs of humanity to make damn sure they know they're irredeemable and that the Squad is probably the only good thing they are gonna ever be a part of. Authority and Respect are part of her arsenal as well.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): Evil Sonic/Scourge the Hedgehog, Sonic's Mirror Universe counterpart, is a big fan of Fear and Power. He controls the Anti-Freedom Fighters Suppression Squad and Destructix by beating them and making them terrified of him. In fact, this is how he controls most people he works with, as Jules-Prime notes. When confronted by someone who won't back down to his threats or let themselves be cowed by him, Scourge folds like a lawn chair.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Paula von Gunther controlled her minions through a combination of Fear and Brainwashing, which Mala and Diana used to turn them against her while working to rehabilitate them, showing that Love is more powerful than Fear.
  • Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars!: The Toad Empire is totally and completely under Komplex's control, despite the fact that the Toads are clearly in control of their own mental faculties. This is done through subconscious brainwashing carried in television signals, which most of the Toads find addicting, but not debilitating. To non-Toads, the content of those signals act as Mind Rape, implying that the Toads have been conditioned to accept this. However, if given enough time and effort, Komplex can manipulate these signals to empty the minds of non-Toads and directly reprogram them to serve him.
  • Superman:
    • In Red Daughter of Krypton, Worldkiller-1 body-snatched the King of the Diasporans. The Diasporans aren't aware of this, so they keep obeying their ruler's orders out of loyalty, duty and respect, even if said orders are morally repugnant. Likewise, Worldkiller-1 is persuasive and charismatic enough to convince doubters and dissenters of his point of view when they express concerns.
    • In Strangers at the Heart's Core, Lesla-Lar uses subtle Mind-Control to influence her minions into attacking Supergirl; their control is so subtle that they do not even question why there is a voice in their heads goading them into opposing Kara.
    • In Starfire's Revenge, crime lord Starfire controls her mooks through Money and fear: she pays them handsomely when they do their job well and gets them shot when they suck at it.
    • In Superman vs. Shazam!, Karmang uses powerful spells to summon and intimidate Black Adam and the Sand Superman into doing his bidding.
    • In The Phantom Zone, General Dru-Zod becomes the leader of the Phantom Zoners on the basis that he is the only one of them who has actual military training and knows how to strategize and conduct a war.
    • Death & the Family: Insect Queen controls her legions of giant insect mooks through Authority: she is their creator, their queen, and is smarter than them.

    Fan Works 
  • Code Prime: Megatron has different ways to control each of his minions.
    • Starscream: Fear - Megatron is amply aware of Starscream's backstabbing tendencies, so he regularly intimidates his second in command to ensure he knows his place.
    • Soundwave: Kindness/Power - Megatron originally earned the loyalty of his Communications Officer by besting him in battle, but the two have a genuine Villainous Friendship.
    • Breakdown: Power - Breakdown's loyalty to Megatron is derived solely from Megatron besting him in battle.
    • Knockout and Shockwave: Material Benefits/Sadism - Megatron maintains the loyalty of his scientists by allowing them to work without any ethical constraints.
    • Airachnid: Sadism - before she left the Decepticons, Airachnid served Megatron because she enjoyed being given free rein to hurt people whenever she wanted to. Later adds fear to this when Airachnid's sadism begins to compromise her effectiveness in combat.
    • Dreadwing and Suzaku: Obligation - Dreadwing swore an oath to serve Megatron and refuses to renege on it, while Suzaku doesn't really trust Megatron, but follows him both because Megatron outranks him and promised to help him try and reform Britannia. Megatron obviously has no intent on following through with his promise. Both Suzaku and Dreadwing eventually defect because they no longer feel obligated to serve him after his actions at the SAZ.
  • In Game Theory, Precia controls Fate through Love and Indoctrination and Nanoha through Agenda and Respect.
  • Pokémon Reset Bloodlines has the criminal known as Twenty Gyarados Bill who inspires a lot of devotion in his Gyarados, ensuring that they would follow him to the bitter end through pure loyalty.
  • In Through a Looking Glass, Darkly, Fear for their loved ones, Drugs, and the power of Social Engineering are the Queen of Hearts' tools. If it works for you, you can also kill people For the Evulz (with the Queen's permission, of course); if none of this does, it's either Brainwashing or off with your head.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, Mordru controls his minions through sheer Fear, since he's powerful enough to easily annihilate whoever incurs his displeasure. As for Darkseid, he controls them through a blend of fear and indoctrination, but in the second story arc he intends to learn the Anti-Life Equation in order to mind-control everyone in the whole universe.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Traditionally, Keepers go for fear, money, sadism, and corruption. Naturally, this is one of the problems Ami faces when she becomes the newest Keeper.
  • White Sheep (RWBY):
    • Jaune initially says that his mother (who his friends believe is merely a ruthless real estate agent) controls her people through fear. When he realizes how horrified his friends are, he awkwardly amends this to saying she uses love instead. While his friends think this was an excellent way of explaining different leadership styles, he was telling the truth. While everyone under his mother's command does so out of mutual respect and love for her family, they are also well aware that she can slaughter any of them if they ever step out of line.
    • Weiss' father also uses fear, but of a more incompetent version. Jaune's mother is personally the strongest individual in the world, and she has an invincible army that obeys her every whim; her subordinates are well aware of how dangerous she is without her ever having to threaten anyone. Weiss' father is just a big bully trying to get every last penny out of his subordinates.
    • Ironwood uses his position as a general to engender loyalty in his troops, as well as respect in his success rate. When things get rough, he doesn't expect blind obedience, and explains to his men why they need to obey his specific orders.
    • Weiss mixes these together on advice from her friends and Ozpin. She explains her orders as best she can, which slowly grows the kind of respect where she doesn't need to explain in an emergency. Ozpin also suggests that allowing her team to disobey her orders and fail (especially on things with minor consequences, like studying) will cause them to be more likely to obey her in the future than just trying to force the issue.
    • Cinder controls all her minions through fear, either of her directly or her alliance with Salem. Unlike Salem, she doesn't have the raw power to make this work, and her minions all leave her one by one. Roman jumps ship to Salem's daughter Lavender (who in turn controls him by pretending to be a naive little girl who needs help but can still protect him through her mother), Adam jumps ship when Cinder tries to cancel the plan, Mercury jumps ship when he realizes his girlfriend Velvet is in danger, and Emerald jumps ship when Cinder leaves her behind after the Battle of Beacon. Emerald ends up working for Weiss, who finds a rather easy way to control her: Pay her a fair salary.
  • A Piece of Rebellion: Fear, Authority and Indoctrination are Lord Business' favorite methods. He's self-aware enough to recognize that while Emmet falls under the latter two, applying the first will probably break him.
  • In Kara of Rokyn, Lex Luthor controls his goons and crooks through fear-induced loyalty. They're well aware that he can and will dispose of them at any time if they betray him or incur his displeasure or anger.
  • Dance with the Demons: Kobra leads a cult of duly-indoctrinated terrorists who are fanatically loyal to his cause.
  • A Rabbit Among Wolves:
    • Adam controlled his branch of the White Fang by being a abusive dick, including the threat of beheading, to keep his minions in line. However, when Jaune accidentally kills him, this leads to none of them actually mourning his demise.
    • Jaune himself initially relies on fear his minions have for him after his accidental killing of Adam. But gradually, he wins them over with Respect, his plans to reform the fang, and his genuinely genial personality.
  • Fate Revelation Online:
    • PoH controls the player-killer guild through a combination of them all being equally crazy, opportunities for both excitement and safety, and of course murdering people who threaten him.
    • Rosalia controls her guild through Pragmatic Villainy; they're not player-killers, but they are criminals, and she encourages them to keep their crimes light because when they escape the death game the actual murderers will likely get punished (even though she doesn't think Kayaba is actually killing people), while the thieves like them will be fine. However, above all else she just likes being in control, so she makes it so that her boys feel like they can't survive without her.
    • Ilya explains that you need to consider this with familiars. Since they are, by nature, entities that can make decisions independently of you, if you make them too smart they might realize they're slaves and turn against you. The standard familiar bond manipulates them emotionally, and she recommends keeping them less intelligent so they can't get out of it—though she also points out that, for all the flaws of Keita's animated furniture, they'll never turn against him. Of course, she herself is an Artificial Human who hates her family, so she would know.
    • On the more positive side, Diabel is the leader of the playerbase by dint of his reputation as the most reasonable, most effective leader they could possibly have. He puts almost as much effort into keeping the rest of the players engaged and productive as he does on making sure the Front Line is advancing steadily. He's worried that there will eventually be a Difficulty Spike that makes them stall, which could endanger everything. Their entire society is based on the Front Line advancing; people define their jobs and social standing on whether they are Front Liners, Mid Liners, Rear Liners, or Side Liners. If the Front Line fails to stay ahead of the Mid Line, then everything would fall apart.

  • The Red Queen of Hearts in the 2010 Alice in Wonderland (2010) (and in most other incarnations, really) leads through a combination of Fear and Birthright.
  • Destro in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra has minions via: Mind Control, Money, and Sadism.
  • The Empire from Star Wars almost completely relies on Fear. Also on an Agenda of Utopia Justifies the Means, combined with Black Shirts. The First Order from The Force Awakens relies more on Authority.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars reveals that Palpatine controlled the original Clone Troopers through organic inhibitor chips in their brains. "Execute Order 66" was the Trigger Phrase for them to assassinate the Jedi.
  • M. Bison in Street Fighter uses money and Agenda to motivate his forces. And, had the process not been tampered with, brainwashing for Blanka.
  • Swackhammer, the Big Bad of Space Jam, uses Fear to back up Authority. Once Fear goes away, Karma is delivered to him.
  • Faramir brings it up as a Discussed Trope concerning the "Fear" and "Indoctrination" bit in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
    "What lies or threats led him to forsake his home? And would he not have rather stayed there?"
  • The Big Bad of District 13, Taha Ben Mahmud, rules purely through money. His deep and far-reaching pockets manage to buy him a literal army of roid-fed gunmen complete with vehicles and a fully-functioning fortress. His being a Bad Boss is mostly being endured by his underlings due to the sheer amount of cash he doles out. Before the climax of the movie, The Government managed to drain all his overseas account. The minions promptly kill him after learning that.
  • And sometimes no one knows. In A Boy and His Dog, Vic (the boy) and Blood (the dog) see the leader of a roving gang go nuts and stomp one of his own men to death. Through their telepathic link, Vic asks why anyone would follow a lunatic like that. Blood (clearly the brains of the operation) answers "I don't know. Charisma?"
  • In Wish (2023), King Magnifico uses a combination of Material Benefits and Mind Control. The king has the power to grant people's wishes, so people become citizens of Rosas to see their wishes come true. What they don't know is that Magnifico only grants wishes he believes will benefit him and his kingdom, leaving the vast majority holding out vain hope for a wish he will never grant (in his Villain Song, he mentions having granted fourteen wishes last year out of the hundreds he took). The process of giving their wish to Magnifico also causes Laser-Guided Amnesia so no one can remember what they wish for, meaning they can't try and make their own dreams come true, making them more dependent on Magnifico's supposed generosity.
  • Sybok, the Anti-Villain of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, uses a combination of kindness and More than Mind Control. He uses his telepathic powers to make people relive their most painful memories and then banishes the pain associated with them; the result is gratitude and unquestioning loyalty.

  • Animorphs: Visser Three uses fear, usually of death.
  • In Codex Alera, Invidia Aquitaine controls most of her minions through Money, and got Fidelias on her side because he thinks that of all the factions in the succession crisis, she and her husband will be the least destructive to Alera (Being the Lesser Evil). Fidelias ends up betraying her when a non-evil option comes up — the protagonist, Tavi.
    • Lord Kalarus mostly uses Mind Control in the form of slave collars that cause pleasure when the collared obeys the orders of whoever put the collar on and pain when they try to defy said orders. Training slaves who'd been collared since childhood resulted in troops known as the Immortals — perfectly obedient soldiers who Feel No Pain and will quite willingly sacrifice their lives to protect their master or complete a mission. On people whose minds he needs intact (or who he can't get to with the collars), he uses Money or Fear — he takes hostages and uses those to force their compliance.
    • The Vord Queen also likes Mind Control. Other Vord obey her because she's the Hive Queen, and she recruits humans to her side using slave collars. She controls Invidia through Fear (as she's on life support that the Vord Queen can cut off at any time), and Brencis through Material Benefits — he hit the Despair Event Horizon after the destruction of Kalare and now follows her because she allows him to indulge his hedonistic impulses in exchange for serving her.
  • The Belgariad: The evil Mad God Torak claims Divine Right over the Angarak people. He controls the priest and warrior castes through Indoctrination; the merchants and peasants, through Fear of his Religion of Evil and its love of Human Sacrifice. As Zedar the Apostate learned the hard way when he tried to become The Mole, he also uses Mind Control on those who serve him directly, enslaving them to his will.
  • Dr. Franklin of Dr. Franklin's Island inspires great loyalty in most of his staff, who he allows to believe he's still working on behalf of the American government. He's quite charismatic and commands a lot of respect, and doesn't allow most of them to see or know just how amoral some of the work really is. Semi also notes that she can't really blame them for helping him test on her and Miranda because otherwise he'd be experimenting on their children. His assistant Dr. Skinner still has a conscience but is swayed by the potential of the work, by some unspecified sins that mean he can't get this kind of work anywhere else, and once just by a gun, though Dr. Franklin then forgives him and brings him back into the fold.
  • As it's about The Illuminati, almost all of the above techniques are represented in Duumvirate to some extent. Although we never see excerpts, the title characters own a "big book of control techniques". Normals are controlled through Authority, Money, Fear, Indoctrination, Power, and Divine Right, unwitting normal power-holders are usually controlled through Corruption (of the political, not supernatural, variety) and presumably Money, and for servants, Mind Control implants are used instead of Fear and Power strategies, but instilling true Indoctrination/Kindness/Love-based loyalty is considered best. The Illuminati also have a tendency to use Power and Love on each other along with various flavors of deception. The Duumvirate themselves rule through Authority, Birthright, Power, and Agenda.
  • Dune universe:
    • House Atreides uses respect, usually achieved through a mix of genuine kindness and deliberate propaganda (indoctrination) to earn the fanatical devotion of their underlings.
    • House Harkonnen uses mostly fear for the populace and corruption for their minions (i.e. exploitation of their addictions).
    • The Honoured Matres hold their minions in sexual thrall. Sex with an Honoured Matre is literally an addictive drug, and you will go anywhere and do anything to anyone to get more of it. Note that there only appear to be male minions, as would-be female minions all seem to become Honoured Matres themselves.
  • In Harry Potter, Voldemort uses different motivations for different minions; Fear (Pettigrew), Agenda (the Malfoys, most Death Eaters), Sadism (Bellatrix, Fenrir, Dementors), Loyalty (Bellatrix again), Acceptance (Giants, Werewolves).
  • In Heralds of Valdemar minions are usually kept in line by fear.
    • The overall Big Bad, Ma'ar, was initially A Nazi by Any Other Name and came to power partially by persecuting "decadent foreigners" and preaching racial ideology, but it's noted that he was capable of inspiring genuine loyalty in his followers. After his death he proceeded to possess his descendants and return again and again, a process that gradually made his faculties decay and made him increasingly more savage and Stupid Evil. By the time he's Mornelithe Falconsbane he's barely restraining himself enough to avoid a revolt of his followers and uses a lot of mind control.
    • After the Last Herald-Mage Trilogy, Vanyel's astonishing feats of war magic led to a Corrupt Church taking over the country of Karse, who preserved and stoked great fear of Heralds' powers and ascribed a lot of new ones to them. This was not helped by Lavan in Brightly Burning, whose Superpower Meltdown was frankly spectacular and ended a war in a day.
    • In By the Sword Ancar creates a massive Zerg Rush army by rounding up large numbers of his own people and slaughtering all but the able-bodied men, gathering Blood Magic and using it to control them. A mage is able to break the spell on one of these armies, which immediately turns on its commanding officers and switches sides. The haunted-looking men have poor recollections of their lives before their loved ones were horribly murdered and want nothing more than to die fighting the people responsible.
  • The Boskonian Empire of the Lensman universe uses a combination of fear and greed. If you're not good enough to stop your minions from killing and supplanting you and taking all your stuff, too bad for you. Meanwhile, on Boskonian warships, the lash is used to keep men at their posts in combat (and when the good guys realise this, they start adapting their combat tactics to make use of it).
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Sauron primarily uses fear, with a dash of Mind Control (more than a dash in the case of the Ringwraiths), sadism (Orcs enjoy killing things, Sauron gives them lots of stuff to kill), and of course power (he's a demigod). Saruman controlled the Men under his command during the Battle of Helm's Deep through fear of his power, prejudice against the Rohirrim, and the Point of No Return. This last was what made Aragorn's sparing them after the battle so effective, since Saruman had instilled in them the belief that the Rohirrim would show them no mercy.
  • In Malevil, Fulbert's Corrupt Church rules through selfishness and sadism. Vilmain rules his marauder army through fear.
  • The Lord Ruler from Mistborn: The Original Trilogy mixes several of these: Power (being a One-Man Army Physical God), Divine Right (he's regarded as the Avatar of God in his empire), and Being the Lesser Evil (he won his throne by defeating an Omnicidal Maniac). He also uses different tactics on different social classes, controlling the skaa through fear, the nobility through bread and circuses (the nobility can indulge themselves practically any way they want, so long as they don't question the system or work against the Lord Ruler himself), and the Obligators through Authority as the head of their religion.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Tywin Lannister uses a combination of Fear and Sadism. In one hand, he keeps his bannermen in line using his sinister reputation for Disproportionate Retribution towards those that slight him. On the other hand, he employs several psychos-for-hire, sadists, and thugs like the Mountain and the Brave Companions who follow him because he gives them free reign to terrorize peasants with impunity.
    • Stannis Baratheon rallies his supporters using Authority claiming his kingship through legality (Birthright) and later invoking Divine Right when he is declared the Warrior of Light by his priestess.
    • The Targaryens used Power to unite the Seven Kingdoms into one, since they used dragons which gave them free reign to do as they wanted. After the death of their dragons, their descendants ruled using Birthright to remain in power until they were eventually ousted by Robert Baratheon.
  • In The Stand, Randall Flagg mostly rules his people through fear (it helps that he's an Eldritch Abomination in human form and that just looking at his face sends people into paroxysms of terror). Only Lloyd, Nadine, and the Trashcan Man seem to be genuinely devoted to him.
  • The Empire in Star Wars Legends, having leaders who range up and down the villain scale, checks off all of the above with a flourish. Specific leaders include:
    • Grand Admiral Thrawn, less evil than the others, used Money for mercenary types, Authority on some Imperials and the Noghri, Indoctrination on clones, Fear on the Noghri and sometimes his Imperials, Sadism (sort of) with C'baoth, and for the others... Respect. He knew that it's best to be feared and loved, and put a high value on people who were both loyal and competent. This is demonstrated beautifully by two incidents in the Thrawn trilogy, one in the first book and one in the second, both involving Luke Skywalker escaping from the Star Destroyer's tractor beams. In the first, the tractor beam operator says it wasn't his fault, and he wasn't trained for such an occurrence. Thrawn has the operator killed, because it was part of the standard training. In the second, Skywalker used a different trick, and the operator tried to find a way around it, but failed. Thrawn promotes him and assigns him the task of trying to break that particular evasion technique, since no one's done so before, and the operator's attempt, while a failure, showed commendable grace under pressure and an ability to think quickly. Pellaeon, Thrawn's subordinate, notes that a new Empire has just been born.
      Thrawn was respected and trusted. Thrawn used a small measure of fear, certainly: the Grand Admiral realized that fear of failure was a powerful motivating force in a military the size of the Empire. But Thrawn's ability to invoke a sense of pride in his troops was his most powerful asset. Palpatine inspired arrogance and callousness in his officers; Thrawn made his men proud to be Imperial soldiers. Thrawn's officers would have willingly died for the Grand Admiral.
    • Ysanne Isard, head of Imperial Intelligence and de facto ruler of the Empire for a time after Palpatine's death, primarily used Fear of deadly punishment for failure, whether against the minions themselves or their loved ones, but was also adept at using Mind Control to break down prisoners into Manchurian Agents, as well as Revenge to motivate specific assets - she let Kirtan Loor know that Corran Horn, a rival from their time in CorSec, had joined Rogue Squadron when tasking him to destroy them, then leaked information so Horn would know Loor killed Horn's former partner, giving Loor additional incentive to deal with his enemy. But as other villains pointed out, the huge drawback of Isard's leadership style was that her minions had no rosy future to look forward to, only the certainty that at some point they'd screw up and she'd kill them. This led some of her subordinates to abandon her when Isard tried her hand at running a war and started prioritizing sating her thirst for revenge rather than rationally pursuing her faction's interest, contributing to her eventual downfall. Another problem was Isard's disinterest in using Authority to rule, resulting in her plan to destroy the New Republic by letting them capture Coruscant after seeding the world with a Synthetic Plague targeting non-humans - if it had worked, it might have splintered the Rebellion apart, but its first step involved surrendering the Imperial capital, a huge blow to loyalist morale. Ultimately, Isard was focused on destroying the Rebels through any means necessary, not preserving the Empire, which was why she had to rent capital ships from other Imperial warlords rather than requisitioning them.
    • Cronal from Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor proclaims himself as the temporary successor to Palpatine, and thus piggybacks off the loyalty the Stormtroopers had for the Emperor. When that starts to break down, he takes direct control of them via meltmassif.
  • Trapped on Draconica: Gothon uses Fear. He has a mysterious power that allows him to kill without touching, and fear of punishment for his inner circle. How he keeps Taurok under control; the general's daughter-in-law and granddaughter are marked for death unless he obeys the emperor.
  • Subverted in Captain Vorpatril's Alliance. The Barrayarans presumed that the Jewels, Baronne Cordona's genetically modified "dance troupe" of spies and enforcers, had received loyalty conditioning when they were actually just as much her children as their more normal-appearing siblings and were loyal out of love, as the good Captain learned when he discovered his love interest's "bodyguard" was actually her Knight Templar Big Sister.
  • In The Impossible Virgin, a Modesty Blaise novel, Brunel controls his minions through fear and hatred: they fear him, and hate each other. Most of them hate him, too, but won't do anything about it because if they try to kill him and fail they know what he'll do to them, and if they succeed they know what the others will do to them. Then one of them discovers a way to turn one of Brunel's own plots against him, taking him out without leaving any pointer to who did it, and doesn't hesitate to use it.
  • The Dark One in The Wheel of Time uses a combination of these motivations on his followers; Agenda / Promises of power (universal), Fear (universal), Corruption (anyone who gets Turned), Revenge (Sammael, Demandred, Mesaana), Mind Control (Compulsion on various victims, Mind Traps), Sadism (Aginor, Semirhage), Indoctrination (Darkfriends). Ishamael/Moridin is probably the weirdest, as he is controlled through genuine Loyalty that is either because he believes himself to be an avatar of the Dark One (as Ba'alzamon) or because he genuinely wants the world to end so he can permanently die, and the Dark One is the only one who can give him that. Of course, as the last book points out, in most cases the Dark One has no real capacity to inspire true Loyalty (Ishamael, the insane nihilist, being a notable exception); people may serve the Dark One for any of the above reasons, but nobody really believes in the Shadow as a worthwhile cause or is willing to die for it.
    • In A Memory of Light, we see that Demandred is the only Forsaken whose minions follow him because they genuinely respect him, rather than out of fear or a desire for power. The other Forsaken are honestly a bit disgusted at how Demandred "coddles" his troops, but it's pretty unquestionable that he has the most loyal, best-disciplined army on the Shadow's side by a mile.


    Live Action TV 
  • In Andor, just like everywhere else in Star Wars, the Empire relies on fear and, to a lesser extent, authority. The show is quick to demonstrate the downsides to this; early on, many places subordinate to the Empire avoid reporting bad news to avoid being the victim of a You Have Failed Me. So, for example, the corporate police who the Empire contracts to supervise systems without a strong Imperial presence cover up real rates of crime and other illicit activities, and when the proto-Rebellion or random thieves manage to steal important pieces of equipment and technology from the factories producing them, those factories and shipyards conceal this rather than report it, leading the Empire to severely underestimate the reach and capabilities of the Rebellion. Later in the first season we see that the way the Empire grinds people underfoot and heavy handed Imperial crackdowns increasingly pushing people too far, so instead of fearing the Empire they begin to hate it, driving more people towards both large (the riot on Ferrix in the season finale) and small (some fisherman who can't make a living because local Imperial facilities spoiled the water decline to turn in a pair of escapees from an Imperial prison, and even give the two men a ride off-planet) acts of defiance.
  • Power Rangers Dino Charge has a bit of a unique spin on how main villain Sledge controls his minions, as he tends to use more methods than most Power Rangers villains do. Namely, he has obligation from his lead man Fury as he "won him" in a card game. He has fear from most of his forces to some degree, though most clearly seen with his technician Wrench. He has blind obedience from most of his foot soldiers, and Love from his Fiancee Poissandra. He has Money as an overall benefit since he's a bounty hunter trying to get rich, and on top of all that, he has Power, as he's one of the most powerful beings on the ship.
  • Daredevil (2015): Wilson Fisk uses a combination of authority, corruption, fear, obligation and coercion to get people to do his dirty work for him. Fear and coercion in particular happen to be the primary means by which he entraps and corrupts people, and then he uses the threat of retaliation against their loved ones to keep them in line. This comes to bite him time and again as his underlings despise him and root for his downfall.
  • The Founders of the Dominion from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine control their minions, the Vorta (administrators who generally as something like a Mouth of Sauron for the Founders), and the Jem'Hadar (a race of bio-engineered Super Soldiers), by implanting Blind Obedience into them. They also control the Jem'Hadar through rationed doses of ketracel-white, without which the Jem'Hadar will die. As for their subject races, they either use careful manipulation via infiltration or straight-up fear of being crushed by the Jem'Hadar.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Orkz follow da biggest an' da strongest, cuz orkz is made fer fightin' an winnin'! This works out as Ork warlords leading their troops through Power from their strength, Fear, because an Ork boss has to constantly prove his strength or be overthrown, and arguably Sadism, though it's pretty much a norm for the Orkz.
    • The soldiers of the Imperium receive Indoctrination from birth toward the God-Emperor of Mankind's Divine Right, him being seen as a god (as perceived by his empire; he himself specifically said he wasn't... it's a long story). Fear is exploited to keep its subjects in line as well, as the liberal use of punishment and executions employed by the Inquisition, the Ecclesiarchy and the commissars plays a large part in keeping the Imperium's subjects and troops in line. The God-Emperor himself arguably started his empire from Power. The Space Marines employ a particularly fanatical form of Loyalty — they live to kill the Emperor's enemies; doing anything else just doesn't occur to them.
    • The forces of Chaos come from hope that the Divine Right of the Chaos Gods will see fit to empower and better their lot as part of their Agenda. Sadism is also used abundantly, as is most Chaos forces' driving need to have things to fight.
      "Enemies... we need enemies!"
    • Tau claim they use Respect towards their ruling caste, while others believe it's just Mind Control from said rulers.
  • In Fading Suns, all of the noble houses use Birthright, but personal touches are in place. House Hawkwood (Atreides expy) uses Kindness and Respect, House Decados (Harkonnen expy) Fear and Corruption, the Hazat (military powerhouse) Authority and Power, Li Halan (very religious) Divine Right/Indoctrination with occasional acts of Kindness, House al-Malik (sly liberals) mix of Indoctrination and Kindness with Money thrown in. For a full picture: Church obviously goes for Divine Right (with some Kindness), while the Guilds unsurprisingly often use Money.
  • Exalted:
    • The Yozis like to think they control their Infernal agents through a mixture of Kindness (hey, have some power!), Divine Right (having created the world), Agenda (the Reclamation) and Power (they are planet-forging god-monsters), plus the Infernals using their Charms and thus becoming more like them. This is really not likely to end well for them. Akuma, on the other hand, have a form of Mind Control.
    • As for Abyssals, the Deathlords use tools ranging from religious faith (Agenda) to emotional manipulation (Love) to straightforward I'm-bigger-than-you Power, and this is also likely to end badly for them.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy:
    • President Shinra of Final Fantasy VII rules through Money. After he's violently retired by Sephiroth, his son Rufus takes over, and a new rule of Fear begins (He actually references this in his introductory speech, saying he recognizes what his father was doing, and admits that it was working, but says that's just not how he rolls).
    • In Final Fantasy VII Remake, President Shinra is revised to rule through a mix of Fear and Authority, preying on nationalism to justify his company's actions against the ever-present threats of Wutai and their alleged terrorist pawn AVALANCHE. Rufus drops his former introductory speech, leaving the question of how he'll rule compared to his father up in the air.
    • In Final Fantasy X-2, it is revealed that LeBlanc keeps her minions with kindness, helping them when they were down-and-out. This only partly explains why they risk their lives in battle for her, of course.
  • Galcian from Skies of Arcadia uses his Authority as the Grand Admiral of the Valua Navy and switches to a mixture of Agenda, Power, and Loyalty once he defects: Most of the navy sees him as a better alternative to the nation's incompetent royals. The main exceptions two of his fellow Admirals: He uses Kindness on his second-in-command, Ramirez, by treating him as his adoptive son (seemingly genuine) and Love on Belleza (faked).
  • Def Jam Series: A major theme in Def Jam Fight For New York is the contrast between Crow, who leads with Fear, and D-Mob, who leads with Respect.
  • Pokémon
    • It's stated/suggested in Pokemon Crystal that Pokémon take on the characteristics of their trainers, and will follow orders because they want to make that trainer happy, whether his/her intentions are good or bad.
    • Ghetsis of Pokémon Black and White leads Team Plasma with variations on Loyalty — most of the grunts follow because of his Agenda, his son was Indoctrinated, and he apparently saved the Shadow Triad from something long ago, so they follow him because of Kindness.
    • Guzma in Pokémon Sun and Moon is one of the antagonists who leads Team Skull out of Sadism and Kindness. Team Skull itself is a delinquent organization of various youths who are simply up to no good. Guzma acts like a young teenage rebel despite being much older than his subordinates, and initially comes off as irresponsible... but his gang is willing to beg your help later in the game for him, and diehard believe in Guzma's ideals. As you make your way through the game, you realize this is because Guzma is an outcast much like them, and accepts them as they are, giving them a community of delinquents, but a community nonetheless that cares about each other. As such, they indulge in their worst behaviors and harass much of the islands, but care about each other like a big family.
  • The Legend of Heroes - Trails: Averted with Ouroboros. With the exception of Campanella, who acts like an observer of sorts for The Grandmaster, all of the Enforcers are free to do whatever they wish - they have no obligation to obey orders given to them by the Anguis, or even by the Grandmaster, and are even free to drop out of the organization if they wish (and a few of them have). It has been acknowledged by characters in-game to be peculiar that Ouroboros can function despite this. This is however played straight with certain Ouroboros members such as Weissmann, the Big Bad of The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, who had no qualms about using brainwashing and emotional manipulation to keep people in line.
  • The eponymous Overlord is a complex case. On the one hand, Minions' service is ancient and traditional, making it a mix of Authority and Indoctrination. On the other, you personally save their hives from captivity, provide them with equipment and mounts, showing Kindness and earning their Respect. You allow (and command!) them to loot, pillage, and slaughter, adding a decent chunk of Sadism. Last, but not least, in a Crapsack World full of corrupted heroes and Fantastic Racism, the Overlord is definitely a Lesser Evil… of sorts.
  • Kane of Command & Conquer (Magnificent Bastard that he is) uses pretty much all the forms of Loyalty to control the Brotherhood. Many of his followers have been cast out (Acceptance) by, or feel they have been ruined (Revenge) by, the GDI, though in most cases the Forgotten take to neither side of the fight. He has helped many in the yellow and red zones (Acceptance, Kindness), the Brotherhood loves propaganda and similar media tactics (Indoctrination), and finally he is a charismatic (Respect) leader... but the whole thing tends to collapse whenever he disappears.
  • Hoyt Volker in Far Cry 3 rules with Fear, as he tells Jason Brody. We're first introduced to him via a recording of him threatening to behead his Dragon Vaas Montenegro and put his head on Hoyt's car antenna if he doesn't find and kill Jason soon, and later on, when Jason infiltrates his privateers, he sees Hoyt burning a man alive for breaking the company rules (presumably by stealing from Hoyt). The above recording with Vaas is most notable, because Vaas is pretty Ax-Crazy himself, so it speaks volumes of Hoyt's reputation if he can intimidate the pirate into speaking to him with such humility and nervousness.
  • The Evil Genius rules primarily with Money and Fear, and one of the eventual Doomsday weapons makes them rule the world through Mind Control.
  • Lost Judgment: Through the use of the footage of them driving Mitsuru to suicide, Jin is able to wrangle his former students into being his lackeys. He also records the footage of the deeds they've done in his name as further blackmail material. The one reprieve he gives them is an unspoken agreement that they don't handle the actual murder.
  • The Administrator from Team Fortress 2 starts out using Money, but felt she had to step it up to Revenge or Fear: Inciting conflict amongst former friends could only distract the RED and BLU Teams from thinking about who was calling the shots for so long. Luckily for Helen, in this universe, Even Evil Has Loved Ones, and The Administrator's threats to the people and things most precious to the Teams are enough to let them know what's in store if they ever make a move against hernote . And then Saxton Hale through Money and Sadism: After the Gravel Wars end, his promise of a steady paycheck and a steady stream of carnage is what compels the mercenaries to stay.
  • Father Comstock in BioShock Infinite controls the population of Columbia through... just about anything, really. Fanatical loyalty is a particular favorite of his. He uses Divine Right to launch into Agenda, Indoctrination, Blind Obedience, the works. This gives him Authority. His huge cult following allows him to use Fear and (back to indoctrination) cultivates prejudices against all races, including the Irish. And his plans for Columbia after his death? He spends years labelling his daughter, kept away from the outside world, the Lamb, a sort of angel. He even claims she was born in less than a week. That's Divine Right and Birthright, right there. He's got it all figured out.
  • Super Mario Bros.: Bowser is one of the few villains who controls his minions through Respect, with some Power and Authority thrown in. Best demonstrated in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, where his special attacks involve his minions and are obtained by freeing them because they want to work for him. In contrast, Fawful in the same game simply Mind Controls everyone into obedience, then presumably somehow altering their appearance to match his.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ganon uses Authority and Power. Being the bearer of the Triforce of Power, he gets Divine Right to back him up in most incarnations, while also contributing to the Power aspect. When the Gerudo are among his servants, Birthright comes into play (the Gerudo being one man born every hundred years to be king, and Ganondorf being a Gerudo man). Best demonstrated in Hyrule Warriors by contrasting him with Cia, who tries one scenario at Authority, decides that "independent thought is severely overrated in underlings", and goes for Mind Control (which rapidly starts breaking down when she does); contrast with Ganondorf, who summons Zant and Ghirahim and has them bowing before he has turned to face them.
  • Dungeon Keeper: The Keeper attracts evil minions through Material Benefits, namely an Elaborate Underground Base that caters to their needs, as well as Money in the form of a paycheck and a chance at plunder. A dash of Fear, administered through Dope Slaps, helps boost productivity, but too much causes your minions to rebel. Even the Hero Antagonists that you capture and torture into joining your cause need to be treated reasonably once they do.
  • Tyranny: Being an examination of 'how evil wins' and making you in turn an evil minion in a Crapsack World, you get to see pretty much every method on this page. Because this game weirdly runs off of both Machiavelli Was Wrong AND Hobbes Was Right, you also get to see how even normally foolproof methods like Incidental Importance and Being The Lesser can actually create more sorrow and harm than the cruder methods. A few examples stand out:
    • Graven Ashe is a ruthless deconstruction of the 'positive' ways of running minions, such as with Respect and Being The Lesser Evil. His minions do genuinely love him and Ashe in turn (seemingly) loves them back. However, he has no interest in moderating their cruelty or racism even when deep in rebellious enemy territory, and ends up being a prime example of someone who deep down is Unfit for Greatness. This makes him a liability to his overlord, who doesn't want an army of increasingly incompetent former traitors in their empire.
    • The Fatebinder is a minion of the empire's Noble Top Enforcer who on-paper has legal authority but is up against two megalomaniacs and their minions who have no real respect for them. To avoid facing a You Have Failed Me, the player character is forced to utilize increasingly tyrannical methods, all of which come straight from this page, to complete their assignments. The Fatebinder has a wide latitude on their methods and can either be worse than the Evil Overlord themselves or do their best in a Crapsack World to be a Benevolent Boss. Different aspects of this trope work better with different minions, colleagues, and bosses — it is an incredibly bad idea to try to use Money or Fear on your boss Tunon, who embodies Lawful Stupid, for example. And sometimes you may end up paying more of a price than you expected for using methods like Sadism or Acceptance.
  • Kirby has the kinda-villain King Dedede, a slob of a King who overindulges on food, constantly focuses on beating Kirby, and spends his time almost always bumming around in his castle. That said, when push comes to shove, King Dedede will get his hands dirty. Most importantly, Kirby and the Forgotten Land shows that King Dedede rules through power, respect, and kindness. At one point, he risks dying to save a singular minion of his. He survives, and one of his minions mentions that he's most annoyed that Kirby saved more of his Waddle Dees than he did.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • Salem, the Big Bad, proves herself to be a flexible leader and uses different methods to coerce or guide those who follow her.
      • Tyrian Callows is fanatically devoted to her and desperately seeks her approval. Simply telling him he has disappointed her is enough to reduce him to sobs of despair when he fails a mission.
      • Cinder Fall desires power above all else, so Salem serves as a mentor to her, granting her power and teaching her how to properly use it.
      • Professor Lionheart is cowed into service through fear. When he phrases something almost like an order, Salem has him strangled and casually reminds him of all the terrible things she could do to him.
      • Hazel Rainart wants justice for his sister's death; when they first met, Hazel killed Salem several times before he was too tired to fight anymore. After proving her Complete Immortality, Salem then convinced Hazel to redirect his desire for vengeance onto Ozpin, promising to create a new world order with no more huntsman academies to send children to fight in a hopeless war.
      • Arthur Watts serves because Salem appreciates his talents and lets him act against his enemies. He is the only person seen yet far who has survived speaking to her disrespectfully, and she trusts him with the most vital and delicate of her plans. Thus, a mixture of Respect, Kindness, and Agenda, tempered by actual trust. Arthur knows full well that Salem just kills or abandons anybody who disappoints her, so he strives to never do so.
    • Cinder Fall herself uses Authority; she is very authoritarian and direct when interacting with her subordinates Emerald and Mercury. She expects her instructions to be followed to the letter and does not tolerate any disobedience, telling them to "don't think, obey". She is also secretive, keeping Roman on a strict need-to-know basis. When Emerald disagrees with Cinder recruiting Mercury to the team, Cinder slaps her in response, telling her to know her place. Later, when ambushing Amber, Cinder tells them to execute the attack exactly as planned. Cinder later reprimands both Emerald and Mercury for murdering Tukson as it could've blown their cover.

  • Girl Genius:
    • Ferretina controlled the lapinemoths by offering them free insurance. And it worked.
    • Jägermonstern vehemently insist that they serve Heterodynes "freely, out of luff" (at least for "fun vunz") and loyalty. Though between themselves mentioned "the ancient contract" as a clear allusion to this service. Either way, becoming near-immortal Super Soldiers was their choice, and Jägers take their obligations seriously.
    • A strong dose of mutual Respect was part of it, as General Goomblast explains regarding Lucrezia (who married into the Heterodynes and was one of the few they did not follow willingly).
      Goomblast: "[Lucrezia] treated effryvun like dey vos her servants. Treated der Jaegers like leedle petz — no — like dey vos property. Ve put op vit her only becawze ve iz patient... und becawze Master Bill vos in luff. But der Jaegers is not leedle petz!"
    • The Other uses Mind Control on her revenants.
    • Klaus uses a mixed approach. The various noble houses mostly follow him because they're afraid (Fear) of what he could do (Power) if they ticked him off sufficiently, and because while most of them think they'd do a better job than he does, all but the most insane of them know what the other noble houses would do to them if they tried anything, because they'd do it to any of the others that tried it (Being the Lesser Evil). Most of his actual minions threw in with him because of Money, Power, or Loyalty (Klaus lets his Spark minions get away with quite a bit as long as they do it where he can keep an eye on them).
    • Many sparks try to use Authority on their abominable creations. This never works.
    • Martellus believes Klaus made a mistake by not invoking Authority by naming himself Emperor. He believes the noble houses would have gladly accepted Klaus as an Emperor. But Klaus refusing to take the title meant he wasn't playing the game of court politics, and that was an unforgivable insult to the nobles.
  • Chitra: When a 21st century girl gets isekai'd into the body of a Priest-Princess in a failing medieval-esque theocracy, she uses a variety of methods to re-establish her control over the region:
    • Authority: Chitra is the chosen apostle of the God of Beauty, and the body she inhabits is that of a Priest-Princess whose family has served the God for generations. When she first asserts her authority, she argues that her divine birthright makes her fit to rule.
    • Fear: When she first regains control of the armed forces and the kingdom, Chitra sets out to make an example of the criminals who have run rampant in the absence of a governing figure — rapist and murderers are publicly executed, and the leaders of territories who rebelled or soldiers who defied her orders were beaten within an inch of their life.
    • Loyalty: When she summons warriors and assistants through the God of Beauty's Exclusive Gacha System the summons are automatically loyal to Chitra, doing their utmost to help her succeed and gain power. The summoned helpers she's made Magically Binding Contracts with are even more loyal because their life is tied to hers — if she dies, they too will die. Chitra also treats her subjects and summoned helpers better than their previous rulers/ masters did, engendering their loyalty the old-fashioned way.
    • Material Benefits: Living in the God of Beauty's kingdom isn't such a bad deal — the God of Beauty promotes a meritocratic society (albeit one based around physical appearances) where the virtuous faithful are rewarded with beauty and health, while criminals are given an ugly face to match their ugly hearts. Chitra herself works to improve the material wealth, health, and happiness of her subjects in order to make the kingdom an attractive place to live.
    • Mind Control: Minor criminals, especially those in the armed forces, are spared execution specifically because Chitra is able to put them under a slave curse. She orders them to return the money and property they've stolen. Failure to do so (or attempting to circumnavigate the slave curse) will result in their execution.

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe:
    • Dr Diabolik earns loyalty from his troops both by having a higher cause (the SMIILE project, meant to make Humanity a starfaring species) and through being a good boss who treats them fairly, pays well, takes their advice, and always does his best to get them out of legal trouble.
    • Dr. Venus uses a combination of Sex and Empowerment; she trawls science fiction conventions for lonely nerds and offers to make them buff 'studmuffins' who could then join her minions/harem.
    • Dr Macabre controls his Monster Squad through both threats of force and the promise of restoring their human forms at some later date.
    • Crucible's followers are all former victims of the disasters he creates; they see him as having uplifted them by showing them how precious their lives are, buying whole-heartedly into his Social Darwinist agenda.

    Western Animation 
  • Superman: The Animated Series :
    • Lex Luthor leads mostly through the power of Money, though he does use Kindness to get Mercy to be his assistant and bodyguard. Of course, Lex being Lex, he leaves her to die one episode when Brainiac attacks.note  She does not take it well.
    • Darkseid, as in the comic book example above, rules through a combination of Fear, Power, Sadism, Indoctrination, and Divine Right. One of the best examples comes in the last episode of the series, when Superman soundly beats Darkseid on Apokolips. The people of Apokolips flock to their defeated leader and immediately help him rise to his feet, much to Superman's surprise.
  • Justice League gives us an interesting study in comparisons with all the various anti-League groups:
    • Lex tries Money again on his Injustice Gang. It goes poorly, as members are disinterested in the (revenge-based) job at hand, start quarreling over whether their contributions entitle them to bigger shares, and are undone when Batman makes one of them a better offer.
    • When Grodd forms his Secret Society, he specifically sets out to learn from Luthor's mistakes and chooses members motivated by Revenge or Sadism. After believing they've defeated the League, they start to lose cohesion enough that their ability to work together is gone when the League returns.
    • Finally, in Season 5, Grodd hits upon the ultimate racket: with the League now dozens of heroes strong and operating worldwide, the various villains of the world are terrified... so he offers them escape routes, networking opportunities, and a rather classy hideout. In exchange, they have to pay him (plus some odd favors once in a while). It breaks down when they learn of his real endgame (turning the populace into gorillas) and are less than impressed. Then Luthor steps in and controls them through Fear for the rest of the season.
  • Avatar:
    • Princess Azula of Avatar: The Last Airbender has several:
      • She made a point that she uses fear to maintain loyalty in both her minions and her friends Mai and Ty Lee. This eventually leads to Mai abandoning her to protect Zuko out of love, and Ty Lee following suit to protect Mai. The realization that her friends didn't actually trust her and ultimately abandoned her is one of the factors that lead to her ultimate Villainous Breakdown.
      • She's the daughter of the Fire Lord (and fighting his war with his armies), who in turn has an Utopia Justifies the Means philosophy he may or may not really believe himself, and the Fire Nation propaganda is indoctrinated into the citizens early on.
    Azula to her Elite Mooks: If I sense any disloyalty, any hesitation, any weakness at all, I will snuff it out.
    Azula to her mother: Trust is for fools. Fear is the only reliable way.
    Azula to her friend: No, you miscalculated! You should have feared me more!
    Azula: It’s because they haven’t made up their minds. They’re waiting to see how this is going to end. I can see your whole history in your eyes.You were born with nothing. So you had to struggle, and connive, and claw your way to power, but true power, the divine right to rule, is something you’re born with. The fact is they don’t know which one of us is going to be sitting on that throne and which one is going to be bowing down. But I know and you know. (sits on the throne) Well?
    • Amon's control of the Equalists in The Legend of Korra is fundamentally from Prejudice and Agenda against benders. He also builds up quite a bit of loyalty to himself personally through Respect and his claim that his bending removal came from Divine Right, and as the Equalists become more popular, he starts leaning for Popular Sovereignty. Of course, all this comes crashing down in an instant after his very public outing as a waterbender who removes bending from others via bloodbending.
    • Kuvira in the fourth season also relies on Agenda, with most of her followers genuinely believing in her hardcore Earth Kingdom (renamed Earth Empire) nationalism. Some shades of Fear as well, with the threat of internment in a prison camp should they betray her, but most of her army never even seem to consider that.
  • In an episode of Sealab 2021 Sparks reveals his group of minions, and tries to recruit Marcos.
  • Darkwing Duck: From the example of two FOWL eggmen in "Switching Faces", it seems FOWL itself leans on Sadism. Even its hippies are evil!
  • Professor Ratigan from The Great Mouse Detective appears to use Fear (his response to minions who upset him is to feed them to his cat), Sadism (his minions are genuinely enthustiastic about the next evil caper), and Money on his henchmen while using Kindness on his cat.
  • In Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, a corrupt prince controls his army through mind control devices. When Ben shuts off the mind control, the soldiers all take a walk.
  • Hurricanes: Stavros Garkos uses mostly Authority and Money.
  • In Batman: The Animated Series, the Mad Hatter used mind control on his minions, which gave him an advantage over Batman, who wouldn't hit people who weren't willingly causing trouble. Once they were free, however, poor Mad Hatter.
  • Kim Possible: Dr. Drakken once used the Mad Hatter's method on Shego, ending in the same predicament. Normally, she seems to stick with him out of Sadism (like getting to fight Kim), Money (in theory, at least), and a very small amount of Respect. It is also stated by Word of God she also stays with him because he offers dental.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: Scarlemagne uses his Pheromones to mind-control an army of human slaves, but refuses to use them on his fellow mutant primates out of principlenote , instead offering them Material benefits as nobles in his recreation royal court. His pheromones don't work on non-primate Mutes, so he controls the other tribes through a mixture of material rewards and the threat of force, as when he destroyed Ratland for harboring humans, and at his coronation gave everyone in the stadium a choice between accepting him as emperor or being encased in molten gold.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Hawk Moth uses Corruption, followed up by Power, Material Benefits, and if necessary Fear to create his Akumas. He reaches out to those who are angry, who want to right an injustice (whether genuine or not), disables all the inhibitions against Disproportionate Retribution, and then offers to give them the power they'll need to right whatever wrong they've focused on...for a small price, of course. If they get distracted later on, he keeps them in line with pain and the threat of revoking their powers.
  • The first two episodes of Beast Wars have Establishing Character Moments for both Optimus Primal and Megatron, showing how they each hold command over their troops. Optimus makes it clear he'll never give an order he himself would never do and then proves it by putting his own life on the line, earning the respect and loyalty of not only his own troops but the defector Dinobot. Megatron on the other hand proves he leads his troops with power, cleverness, cunning, fear, and merciless pragmatism, being willing to blow his own troops away for not being loyal and cheating during a formal challenge for command to keep them in line.
  • In Samurai Jack, Aku mostly has robotic drones in his armies, but he keeps his sapient minions in line through absurdly large payouts, indulging their most depraved behaviors, and in some cases, literal worship.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): Shredder's minions are continually threaten if they fail at whatever mission he gives them, Stockman eventually developing genuine loyalty toward Shredder when his skills prove useful to the Foot. Shredder has Baxter Stockman create mutant worms that make anyone under their influence loyal to Shredder, testing them on the Mighty Mutanimals before using them on Karai after she rebels against him.
  • Skeletor from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) controls his minions through their combined hatred and fear of him, making it no secret that he is completely evil and that there is not an ounce of friendship, caring, camaraderie, or friendship between him and his followers:
    Skeletor: I care for no one, and no one cares for me! You see? [Two Bad] hates me! But what is more important is he fears me! That's the way I like it! You can trust someone who's afraid of you!
  • Most of the denizens of Hell in Hazbin Hotel are unrepentant Jerkasses who hold zero respect for any authority, even that of the Royal Family. While they feel free to berate the Princess of Hell Charlie, most will pay loyalty or recognition to her father Lucifer out of fear of his power.


Video Example(s):


Tyrian Callows

After failing to retrieve Ruby Rose for Salem, Tyrian has to break the bad news. Salem, who knows Tyrian is fanatically devoted to pleasing her, only needs to express her disappointment to punish him, resulting in him crumbling into a dangerously maniacal form of despair.

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Example of:

Main / VillainousBreakdown

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