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Generally, nations exist for longer than any one ruler can expect to live — in fact, it's common for a nation's history to be subdivided by the lifetimes of its rulers. When this isn't the case, it's usually because a fledgling nation didn't survive its founder's death. Rulers are human, after all, and humans are mortal. This isn't the case with these guys, however — in fiction, it's far from uncommon for powerful rulers to be immortal or, at the least, disproportionately long-lived, and to keep hold of the reins of power for the entirety of a nation's lifetime even as generations of their subjects live and die.

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There are a number of possible reasons why such an immortal ruler might exist. In some cases, a monarch might decide they simply don't feel like losing hold of their power and might for any reason, and use magic or science to make sure that they will truly live forever. In others, the ruler does not belong to the same species as their subjects, and is some kind of being that naturally doesn't die. Others stories again just have a seemingly deathless ruler as a part of the setting, and not really question the why and wherefore of it.

A number of assumptions and side effects tend to come with this trope. To begin with, as empires tend to rise and fall because the great visionary conquerors that began them didn't live long enough to maintain them, an empire can be expected to endure for a very long time if a competent ruler lives forever. Relatedly, an undying emperor can be expected to wield a considerable amount of cultural and political power simply due to being a permanent staple of the nation's structure, seemingly as eternal as its landscape. Mortal rulers rely on complex systems of legal process, legitimization and inheritance to obtain and justify their power, but immortal ones in fiction often end up ruling by simply being the only person who ever has held their title — often, in such cases, any systems of inheritance or transfer of power will be highly theoretical if not absent outright, which can make for considerable turmoil should the ruler leave the picture.

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As nowadays it's not usually considered a good thing for political leaders to have overly long terms, even if they are as competent and benevolent as might be wished, these characters can easily be presented as amoral tyrants. In settings with no democrats around, however, they can instead be presented as a good, responsible rulers who want to preserve stability and prosperity in their country. Of course, if the immortal ruler is undead or employs some kind of blatant Immortality Immorality, all arguments are moot: this is, most definitely, a villain, quite possibly a Big Bad.

Exactly what role an immortal ruler takes in the story will vary depending on their morality and personality. Benevolent ones tend to act as pillars of stability, providing seemingly unfailing anchors of order as the world changes. Malevolent rulers will be threats that rise eternally, keeping their nations firmly on the path of evil and likely providing difficult challenges for the heroes to overthrow — because they’re not only hard to kill, they have lifetimes of experience in crushing opposition.

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Usually overlaps with God-Emperor, though it's not required, regardless of whether the immortal ruler actually has divine power or whether their seeming deathlessness and omnipresence in history has caused people to see them as something like a god. Compare Immortal Assassin and Eternal Hero where the immortal character is an assassin or a hero, respectively. See also The Necrocracy, where having died isn't an impediment to ruling.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: Discussed. When Negi is seemingly rendered immortal, Kurt Godel points out how advantageous it would be for a society's ruler to never age or be assassinated.

    Comic Books 
  • I, Joker: Gotham City has turned into an even more hellish dystopia ruled by the Bruce, a mad old bastard version of Batman who keeps himself alive with organ transplants, cybernetics, and drugs. However, since even such methods have their limits, the Bruce is implied to be a Legacy Character as well.
  • Legends of the Dead Earth: In Superman: The Man of Steel Annual #5, Lex Luthor creates an empire that he rules for millennia by transferring his consciousness into a series of 59 clone bodies.
  • Monstress: The Arcanic Empire is ruled by the Ancients, immortal beings with immense power, and their half-human descendants. The de facto leader of the Dawn Court in particular is an Ancient known as the Wolf Queen.
  • Requiem Vampire Knight: Dracula will rule over the kingdom of Draconia until the end of time, although forces within his inner circle are also plotting to overthrow him. As a general rule, the vampires in this setting are not immortal, they just age backwards. Dracula is unique among them because his bloodline produces The Ageless.
  • Star Wars Legends: Emperor Palpatine intended to become immortal by transferring his mind and soul into an endless series of clones. That's why the Empire fractured into a bunch of warring states upon Palpatine's death — there were no plans for a transfer of power because he thought he'd reign forever.

    Fan Works 
  • In Codex Equus, many benevolent deities (or not) of Equus are also sovereigns of their own kingdoms.
    • The Changeling Progenitors, Blackrose Avalon and Blackthorn Lyonesse, are this, being respectively the Empress and Emperor of Changelingkind as well as their divine biological parents. However, they are not together, as Blackrose detests Blackthorn and sees him as an Abhorrent Admirer, and rule over separate Changeling courts.
    • Despite their official ruling title being "Princess", the Equestrian Princesses are all immortal Alicorn goddesses who are capable of powerful feats of magic. This includes Cadence, the Alicorn goddess of Love, though she's technically not part of Equestria due to ruling the Crystal Empire. They all rather prefer their subjects don't see them as gods.
    • Queen Dazzleglow and her sisters once ruled over the kingdom of Kerajaan Cahaya in the Second Age, and now have emerged from sleep to continue their job in the Fourth Age.
    • Golden Scepter is quite literally a God-Emperor, which isn't surprising since he's based on the Emperor of Mankind. He is an extremely antediluvian Alicorn who existed even before the Known Ages; while his origins are rather spotty, it is known that he was once mortal, and he was the supreme leader and judge of one of the most successful and advanced empires, until Morning Star became a Fallen god and betrayed his people, starting the "Twilight of the Alicorns" conflict that lasted for ten Ages. After that, Golden Scepter would help the survivors rebuild and founded the Imperium of Ponykind... but unfortunately his traumas from the war would catch up to him and deeply affect his judgement, to the point of becoming little more than a well-meaning yet hypocritical and ruthless Jerkass and a divine tyrant. Most notably, he wanted his mortal subjects to stop seeing him as a god and to stop treating him as such, to the point where he would destroy temples dedicated to the gods and even put an entire city to the torch for worshiping him. After he was gravely wounded by one of his own generals in the brutal "Aurum Apostasy", he would be sealed away until the Second Age, where he would be found and healed by Luminiferous and Dazzleglow. This would kick-start the long process of going through massive Character Development, eventually becoming much kinder. By the time the Fourth Age rolled around, he established the much smaller yet thriving Terran Empire, which is currently still ruled by him and his many Semi-Divine sons.
  • A Crown of Stars: In this story, Shinji and Asuka travel to an alternate dimension and arrive on the Empire of Avalon, ruled by a couple of God-Emperors: Daniel and Rayana. They are actually quite nice and beloved by their subjects and worshippers.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Dungeon Keepers, who are immortal due to the Dungeon Heart that lets them control territory. They rule and are immortal because of the same device, and can only be overthrown by being killed, or the destruction of the Dungeon Heart.
  • The Palaververse: In addition to the Princesses Celestia and Luna, the Capricious Crown, being a living magical artifact, also doesn't age. It has been ruling Capra for about three centuries, and it has the potential to go on ruling it for many more. It's also mentioned that, due to the length and evident permanence of her reign, Celestia's subjects are all loyal to her person far more than to any title or system of inheritance she theoretically rules by.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alita: Battle Angel: The Emperor Scientist Nova has been in charge of the floating city of Zalem and its earthbound protectorate Iron City for several centuries without aging at all.
  • In The Rise of Skywalker, Palpatine is revealed to be Back from the Dead, being behind both Supreme Leader Snoke and the rise of the First Order. He intends to take over Rey's body to extend his lifespan even further, as she's his granddaughter. In addition he claims to "contain all the Sith", implying that the Sith masters have been doing this since the Rule of Two was established.
  • Stardust: In the film version, the Evil Prince Septimus is already on a quest to kill his last brother and claim the throne for himself when he learns that the Anthropomorphic Personification of a star has fallen from the sky. Septimus knows that consuming the heart of a fallen star will act as a Fountain of Youth and make the person who does it nearly immortal, and visibly exults at the idea of being "King forever!"
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: Apocalypse used to rule over Egypt as pharaoh, and he's clearly done so for a very long time. When he's introduced he looks like a feeble old man, while in The Stinger for the previous film he looked like a young Pretty Boy. Judging by the number of powers he displays, all of which were stolen from previous hosts whose personalities were overriden by Apocalyse's, it's no wonder his people believed him to be an immortal god.

    Literature 
  • In The Balanced Sword, the Dragon-King comes of a long-lived reptilian race and has ruled longer than the current human civilization has existed. Also mentioned, but not appearing in the story, is the God-Emperor Idinus, the most powerful human wizard ever to live, who has ruled the Empire of the Mountain as unchallenged dictator for over a hundred thousand years.
  • The Belgariad:
    • In the prequel novel Polgara the Sorceress, The Ageless Polgara is granted the newly founded Duchy of Erat in recognition for her peacekeeping work and holds the position as a Benevolent Mage Ruler for over half a millennium. After the death of her First Love, she establishes an independent code of law, then phases out her own authority, letting her title be forgotten and the land become the constitutional monarchy of Sendaria.
    • The Physical God Torak founded the Empire of Mallorea, soon left its rule to the humans, and later declared himself its God-Emperor to lead it on an invasion of the West. Since His primary interests were his own Religion of Evil, world domination, and claiming the Orb of Aldur, his rule was unkind to the Malloreons, who formed a much more functional bureaucratic empire in his absence.
  • The Cosmere:
  • Discworld has a smaller-scale example in the infamous legal firm Morecombe, Slant, and Honeyplace, whose first two partners are respectively a vampire and a zombie. A clerk there remarks that dead men's shoes are currently filled by dead men; Slant is the terror of Ankh-Morpork lawyers, having written many of the legal texts that fill their offices over his centuries of practice.
  • The Dreamblood Duology: Invoked by Prince Eninket. By harnessing a Reaper to Mind Rape thousands of people to death through their dreams at once, harvesting their souls and Dreamblood, he intends to magnify the usual life-extending properties of Dreamblood into true immortality. The Dream Weaver he'd tortured into becoming a Reaper regains his senses long enough to kill Eninket before following through.
  • Dune: Leto II, the aptly titled "God Emperor of Dune", reigns for 10,000 generations and keeps humanity from destroying itself the entire time. His reign only ends because he plans it that way.
  • The Expanse: Laconian High Consul Duarte begins taking protomolecule based treatments designed to give him immortality, for the purpose of preserving the Laconian Empire for the rest of time.
  • Inheritance Cycle:
    • Galbatorix is the head of The Empire and being a dragon rider, there's no upper limit to how long he would live naturally, and thus he won't lose the throne until someone kills him. In Eldest, this is even cited as one of the reasons why the elves, who normally preach pacifism, are actively rebelling against the Empire; they can't just wait for him to die like a normal tyrant eventually would.
    • The elves themselves are naturally The Ageless: as such, their ruler Queen Islanzadí has ruled for centuries at the very least and will rule for many centuries more.
  • Imperial Radch: Anaander Mianaai is a variant, having ruled the Radch for millennia by existing as a huge number of mind-linked clone bodies, which are plugged into her mental gestalt in utero and replaced as they fail. They're spread across the entire Galactic Superpower, so Breq admits that truly killing her is a practical impossibility.
  • Iron Druid Chronicles: The immortal druid Atticus played this role for a few centuries. Fleeing Europe, he joined an African tribe and after a while became its leader. He married and shared his rejuvenation potion with his wife and children. The tribe prospered and his immortal family became the ruling elite of the nation that formed. However, after his wife was killed, he became disillusioned by how decadent and immoral his children became as a result of their immortality and left them and the country to fend for themselves.
  • Line of Delirium: The Emperor Gray is a tired old administrator who rules a vast interstellar empire and whose immortality is functionally no different from anyone else's in the setting, except that he has limitless resurrections because they are, by law, paid for by the Empire. None of his subjects view him as anything but the remote head of government, however.
  • The Locked Tomb: The Necromancer Divine formed his solar-system-spanning Empire 10 000 years before the series began and has ruled from the front lines ever since, with his similarly ancient Lyctors at his side. There are hints that the Lyctors' agelessness and Healing Factor, which are Powered by a Forsaken Child, is a flawed version of the Emperor's true immortality.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Witch-King of Angmar is a Nazgûl, that is, a human who received immortality through a powerful magic ring and became an undying Wraith. It is supposed that the other Nazgul may also rule something, but it is not specified.
  • The Machineries of Empire:
    • One of the six rulers of the Hexarchate, Nirai Kujen, is immortal thanks to the Black Cradle making him an undead Body Surfer. He's held his position in secret from behind a proxy ruler for over 800 years, is the creator of the High Calendar that underpins Hexarchate society and drives its technology, and is unique in his position by virtue of being the only person who knows how to become immortal without going completely insane. Unfortunately for the Hexarchate, he's also a sociopath prone to boredom.
    • When another Hexarch develops a new Immortality Inducer, two Hexarchs Defy this trope: High General Kel Tsoro, because she thinks it improper to reign indefinitely while sending subordinates to die; and Shuos Mikodez, because he can't bear the thought of enduring the Hexarchs' Dysfunction Junction indefinitely. Mikodez assassinates them all rather than let them claim immortality.
  • The Raven Tower has a variant in the Raven's Lease, who rules on behalf of the deity called Raven. The Lease gains Purpose-Driven Immortality and can only die by ritual self-sacrifice to the Raven, which they are required to do when the Raven needs to reincarnate into a new mortal host every few decades.
  • The Riddle Master Trilogy: Har, the "wolf-king", land ruler of Osterland, is a powerful and unaging mage who loves the wild regions and creatures of his land almost as much as its people. In addition, the High One, from whom all the land rulers draw their powers (literally), is older still than even Har, though he's not much into direct ruling.
  • In Trinity Blood ordinary vampires, or Methuselahs, live about three hundred years. But their Empress Seth Nightroad has reigned for over a millennium because she’s actually a Crusnik, a vampire that feeds off other vampires.
  • In The Twelve Kingdoms, rulers are chosen by the heavens and granted immortality when they ascend to the throne. However, the immortality is conditional on doing a good job.
  • The Worm Ouroboros: King Gorice of Witchland, for unknown reasons, reincarnates upon death. In this way, he has ruled Witchland for at least three-hundred years in twelve incarnations.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Mayor of Sunnydale is revealed to have been mayor for over 100 years via My Grandson Myself. He gained immortality through a Deal with the Devil and founded the town over the Hellmouth so he could ascend into demonhood.
  • Doctor Who: In "State of Decay", the Three Who Rule are the captain and his Executive Officers from a ship that crash landed on the planet long ago. The peasants have gone through many generations but the Three are still the same people, because they're vampires.
  • Lexx: His Divine Shadow has governed a theocratic empire for more than 2000 years by transferring his consciousness to different bodies over the ages. In reality, he is just the last survivor of an insectoid Eldritch Abomination race.
  • Shaka Zulu: Shaka mistakenly believes that the British have "rejuvenated" him after applying some hair dye on him during his recovery from an assassination. Believing that they hold the secret to immortality, Shaka suggests a confederation ruled by immortal kings of various nations and, no longer believing himself to be in need of an heir, has his only son killed.
  • Space: 1999: In one episode, some Human Aliens abduct Maya to dissect her and turn her cells into an Immortality Inducer. The beneficiary is ostensibly their ruler, which greatly upsets his Evil Prince son (and the ruler's advisors twist the knife by mentioning he'd be a terrible ruler). Of course, he betrays his father by helping the heroes, before betraying them to try and become immortal himself.

    Religion and Myth 
  • Heimskringla: King Auni, a.k.a. Ani of Sweden, turned to sacrificing his sons to Odin to prolong his life. At age two-hundred, his subjects stopped him from sacrificing his tenth and last son, causing his death.
  • Mesopotamian Mythology: According to the Sumerian King List, the antediluvian god-kings supposedly reigned for tens of thousands of years each with a divine mandate, with En-men-lu-ana of Bad-tibira enjoying a 43 200-year-long tenure.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Blades in the Dark: The Immortal Emperor of Akoros is a Benevolent Mage Ruler who has been alive for 900 years since the Cataclysm and shows no signs of abdicating. None of his subjects seem to worship him for it, however, and his state religion appears to venerate the general concept of a healthy, living human body instead.
  • Dark Sun: The Sorcerer-Kings all have some degree of immortality thanks to becoming The Archmage in both Defiling magic and Psionics and then undergoing a Slow Transformation into quasi-divine draconic beings, each step of which is catalyzed by an act of genocide. The Dragon of Tyr is the sole Sorcerer-King to complete the transformation and has canonical Complete Immortality thanks to Plot Armor.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Githyanki are ruled by a Lich-Queen named Vlaakith. There's been multiple Vlaakith, many of them Liches who ruled for centuries before being replaced by another who takes the same name (Though some settings and books imply there's ever just been the one). The current is Vlaakith CLVII, who never had an offspring before dying and becoming a Lich; as such she has ruled for over a thousand years (Her mom ruled as a Lich for 600 before being destroyed).
    • Eberron:
    • Ravenloft: Most of the Darklords have been cursed with unending, tormented existence by the Dark Powers, and many of them are also various types of The Undead. As such, most have been in power for a very long time, and their tenure isn't likely to end soon. Moreover, the Dark Powers don't like to lose a plaything, so they've been known to resurrect a Darklord that's been killed.
  • Exalted: The Scarlet Empress, the ruler of the Realm, is seemingly immortal — at the very least, she's lived for five hundred years, a lot longer than Dragon-Blooded usually last, and shows no signs of aging. She has ruled the Realm since its creation and is a figure half of myth for its people, who perceive her — correctly — as having saved the world from chaos and destruction and — more subjectively — as preserving civilization against the barbarians at its gates. Her power over her nation is absolute, and no mechanisms exist to handle succession because there is no expectation that anyone but her shall ever sit the Scarlet Throne. Consequently, when she disappears, the chaos caused by the sudden power vacuum causes the Realm to all but tear itself apart in civil war.
  • Transhuman Space: The Kazakhstani dictator Zarubayev hogs all transhumanist tech available in his country to cling to life indefinitely through Cyborg modifications, as well as to Crush the Populace through mind-manipulation.
  • Warhammer:
    • Warhammer 40,000:
      • The God-Emperor of Mankind is the result of all Earth's shamans committing suicide simultaneously and reincarnating themselves in a single human circa 8,000 BC. Since then, he has guided humanity towards becoming a unified race under various disguises including Jesus (possibly) and Saint George. He only emerged as the Emperor in the 30th millennium (promoting worldwide atheism by destroying all forms of worship in the hopes of starving the Chaos gods), and after the disastrous Horus Heresy needed to be hooked up to the Golden Throne to be kept alive, the Lords of Terra ruling the Imperium in his stead.
      • Among the reasons for ascending to daemonhood is that you are granted immortality and your own corner of the Warp to rule by turning a planet into a Daemon World.
    • Warhammer Fantasy:
      • Some Chaos tribes are ruled by Daemon princes, immortal humans granted daemonhood by the Chaos gods.
      • The Lizardmen are ruled by the froglike Slann, the original servants of the Old Ones who seek to make sure their masters' plan unfolds. Unfortunately, they only have a partial idea of what this plan entails, and they have no regard for what other species might think about it (such as noticing the continents drifted a little since the Old Ones were here and pushing them back in place, destroying the underground dwarf empire in the process, or trying to get the three races of elves back onto the same island despite the fact that they now live on different continents and hate each other).
      • The Dark Elves have been ruled for 7,000 years by Malekith the Witch King, who is The Ageless (elves are Long-Lived but not immortal, but Malekith is either too hateful to die or has magically extended his life) and also one of the finest warriors and wielders of Dark Magic in the Warhammer world. His overthrown has been attempted multiple times and he has been prophesized to fall to a firstborn son of a noble house wielding his own magic against him, but until his fated death he's not going away anytime soon.
      • The Nehekaran tomb kings are an amusing example because they were not intended to be immortal undead rulers. Instead many generations of rulers died, were interred, and then all reanimated at once, resulting in most of them declaring war on each other because they were all the rightful ruler determined to quash any usurpers. Settra the Imperishable has remained in power for several millennia by being the most revered in life and most formidable in death.

    Video Games 
  • Civilization: The various nations' leaders are famous historical figures who're around from day one and remain as long as their civilization lasts, which can be upwards of 5000 years.
  • Crusader Kings II: One event chain in the DLC "The Reaper's Due" allows one to go on a quest for immortality, but there's a strong chance that the quest-giver turns out to be a fraud.
  • Crying Suns: Emperor Oberon has ruled his galactic Empire for seven hundred years thanks to machines which keep him alive well beyond the natural human lifespan. But when his Empire collapsed because of the Shutdown, he switched the machines off in despair, and old age will finally do him in if you don’t shoot him yourself. One ending has you follow in his footsteps by using his machines to rule over the Empire for ten centuries.
  • Doom Eternal: Khan Maykrs are normally supposed to be replaced with new ones after some time. However, after Father left, they could no longer resurrect through Transfiguration and their numbers started to dwindle. The current Khan Maykr has been in power for an unnaturally long time because she orchestrated a Deal with the Devil to give them worlds to devour in return for Argent Energy harvested from the souls of sentient beings to fuel the Maykrs' immortality.
  • DragonFable has Sek Duat XV the ruler of the Sandsea. However, it turns out he's actually Sek Duat I, who is an immortal lich that took his own place on his throne each generation and being a little crueller with each reign in order to intentionally spark a rebellion.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The Maomer (Sea Elves) of the island continent Pyandonea (which lies far south of Tamriel) are led by an "undying wizard king" known as Orgnum, and have been since their Merethic Era split from the Aldmer (the Precursor race from which all other races of Mer (Elves) descend). According to their Arch-Enemy, the Altmer (High Elves), Orgnum uses all manner of "foul magicks" to extend his life.
    • The Ka Po' Tun are a race of "tiger folk" native to the continent of Akavir, which lies far to the east of Tamriel. Their race highly reveres dragons and their goal is to become dragons, which in the ES universe are the divine "children" of Akatosh, the draconic Top God of the Aedric pantheon. (According to some sources, they are instead fragments of his very being.) The only Ka Po' Tun known to have achieved this is their God-Emperor, Tosh Raka, the Tiger-Dragon. He has become the largest dragon on Nirn and is covered with orange and black scales. (Other sources claim this story to be metaphorical at best.)
    • Morrowind was ruled for over 4000 years by the Tribunal, a trio of ascended Chimer who became worshiped as living gods after seizing divinity from the Heart of Lorkhan. However, by the time of the game, they have been cut off from the Heart by a re-awakened Dagoth Ur and have been forced into seclusion. Following the events of Morrowind's main quest, they are permanently cut off from the Heart, leaving them as Semi-Divine mortals whose remaining divinity is drawn from the faith of their followers. At least one suffers from Sanity Slippage (and according to the admittedly biased Azura, all would have eventually suffered this fate). Two die as part of the Tribunal expansion's main quest, while the third disappears in the early Fourth Era. By the events of Skyrim some 200 years later, they're revered as saints but have no temporal power.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, Mr. House, the dictator of New Vegas, is an extremely decrepit, 300 years old man in a complex life support machine. He is no longer able to walk or speak without electronic aids, but he uses a network connection and a bunch of robots to rule his city.
  • Fate/Grand Order: One of the big gimmicks for its second expansion is that every Alternate Timeline is ruled by an immortal all-powerful ruler for at least a few centuries.
    • Ivan the Terrible ordered his court sorcerers to fuse everyone in Russia with animals to become the monstrous Yaga in order to survive the sudden Ice Age, with Ivan fusing with frozen prehistoric animals to become the most powerful Yaga. However, his Oprichniki are the ones really running the scenes as he's been secluded in the palace since the fusion.
    • Skadi is naturally immortal as a goddess and is notable for being the only one not to die in the aftermath of the botched Götterdämmerung, hence inheriting the position by sheer dint of no other authority around. She's been struggling to pick up the pieces in the ensuing millennia.
    • Qin Shi Huangdi managed to achieve immortality via Brain Uploading using Zhenren technology and conquers the entire world in his own Lostbelt, becoming a peaceful paradise.
    • Arjuna is selected by the Hindu pantheon to become the host for all of them, becoming a new god in the process to oversee the cycle of Yugas.
    • After defeating Sefar, Zeus and the surviving Olympian Pantheon are able to continue enhancing themselves and proceeded to rule over humanity for several millennia.
  • Final Fantasy X: Grand Maester Mika has been the leader of the Church of Yevon and the de facto ruler of Spira for a very long time. It is revealed that he is in fact an unsent, a deceased ghost who remains tied to the mortal world.
  • Golden Sun: Tolbi is led by an old man named Babi who stole life-extending potions from the Lemurians decades earlier and has ruled the town ever since. His rule doesn't seem particularly despotic and the town seems prosperous enough, the most villainous act he engages in is that he's holding another town's Waif Prophet hostage until they complete a lighthouse that will serve to let him get more Lemurian draught. In the sequel, it turns out he died offscreen after the last of his stock ran out, leaving the whole business unresolved.
  • A House of Many Doors: The Governor of the City of Keys has ruled for centuries, and her former companions have taken their own kingdoms in both the cities and territories of the House. Then Ashen decided she and her former comrades had to pay for what they did to achieve immortality.
  • Might and Magic: The country of Bracada was founded when the immortal Gavin Magnus re-united the core of the collapsed empire of Bracaduun and became Grand Vizier. He then kept ruling Bracada for roughly eight or nine centuries, right up to the destruction of the planet (Which he survived, ending up on Axeoth like others and beginning to forge a new country... and then he went off the deep end). Interestingly, Gavin Magnus himself has no idea why he is immortal or has the other odd abilities he has. So far as he knows, he just woke up one day with no memories and later realized he wasn't ageing.
  • Mortal Kombat: Shao Kahn, the Emperor of the mystical realm of Outworld, is an ageless warlord whose true age is not established, but his adoptive daughter Kitana is known for being 10,000 years old meaning he could be much older than that.
  • Path of Exile:
    • An experiment that would have made Queen Atziri immortal was what led to the complete downfall of Vaal civilization. She's still around, so the experiment wasn't a complete failure, but appears to only exist in a pocket dimension or when time-travel shenanigans are involved, and the part where it killed all her subjects negates the "ruler" part of the equation.
    • Creating one of these is the long-term goal of the Immortal Syndicate. They already have the immortal (until, naturally, the player kills her), but Wraeclast is a devastated continent with a scattered and disunited population, so they're playing the long game and accruing power from the shadows so they'll be able to take control as it recovers. Their motivation is explicitly the continuity and stability an immortal ruler would provide.
  • Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri: The faction leaders take experimental gene therapies to ensure they live through the game's 500-year run, even before longevity technologies are researched for the general public.
  • Starsiege: Emperor Scientist Solomon Petresun lived and ruled Earth for at least several centuries via Brain Uploading technology he invented. He also extended this privilege to his most trusted advisors.
  • In Stellaris it's possible for an empire in contact with the Shroud to have one of their leaders made an immortal "Chosen One", though not necessarily the ruler or heir in the case of empires with hereditary succession. Given that they won't die and thus can accumulate a lot of experience, it's generally in a player's best interest to get them on the throne. Other source of the "Immortal" traits include being a robot and being from a few rare species. Repeatable end-game tech allow a variation: Eventually, lifespan extensions will begin to outpace ruler aging. And in either case, even "immortal" rulers aren't immortal, they are merely some degree of The Ageless and can die from any other cause ("immortal" rulers can have accidents, Governors can be killed by The Mafia if one starts getting too powerful on their world, scientist crewing a Science Ship can die from Anomalies and still die when their ships are destroyed, Generals can die in battle, and so can Admirals.), so this is still a Downplayed Trope. Rulers still end up living a very long time even when not specifically "immortal" with enough technological assistance, to the point where it is possible to extend the lifespan of even a non-immortal ruler to past the Victory Year, which is, for all practical purposes, equivalent to them being immortal.

    Webcomics 
  • Beyond The Veil: Nicodemus Aurelius was emperor of three galaxies for four hundred years, and his usurper Uriel has ruled the empire for the three centuries since his (temporary) death.
  • In Girl Genius, the Master of Paris is a Mad Scientist who's kept himself alive at a few centuries old at least, while Queen Albia is possibly millennia-old and makes some claim to godhood. The hidden city of Skifander apparently was founded by a sister of Albia's who didn't age either, until she was killed in battle, and Skifander's current royal line claim divinity but are perfectly mortal.
  • In Homestuck, higher-caste Trolls in the Alternian galactic empire are progressively more Long-Lived; at the top is Her Imperious Condescension, a planet-conquering Person of Mass Destruction who can potentially live for millions of years — or until her heiress comes into her own power, gains control of the imperial pet Eldritch Abomination, and takes the throne by Klingon Promotion, as is the custom.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: The seven ancient multiverse-conquering God-Emperors each have unique means of living for millennia. The known ones are:
    • Jagganoth attained Complete Immortality by impaling himself with nails forged from angel feathers, and is feared by all the others because he cannot be harmed.
    • Mottom becomes young again whenever she eats the fruit of a tree that grew from her husband's corpse and is fertilized with boatloads of Virgin Sacrifices. She offers the fruit to Allison, who promptly destroys the tree. Of all the Demiurges, her method is the least reliable — not only is the youth the fruit confers temporary, but the more afraid she becomes of death, the faster its effects wear off. And she’s had a lot of time to brood on her fears.
    • Mammon's draconic species doesn't die of old age, though that doesn't protect him from senility.
    • Solomon David's Supernatural Martial Arts keep him in peak physical condition along with Super Strength, Toughness, and Speed. He's confident enough about it that he's prepared to concede his empire to anyone who can draw his blood in combat, never mind kill him.
      "My body is the State and the whole of the law. It is here for the taking."
    • The Worm That Walks Gog-Agog can grow multiple bodies and regenerate from any of her worms, including any that she's implanted into her citizens to assimilate them into herself.
  • Schlock Mercenary has a couple of examples of nearly-unkillable AI becoming national leaders.
    • The Fleetmind, aka "Petey", carved out a domain called the Plenipotent Dominion (he has a habit of P.D. names) in the galactic core and opened it to immigration after constructing several habitats.
    • LOTA was originally a cargo unloading robot built to alleviate Credomar habitat's food shortage. Thanks to a series of crises caused by the station's warring factions and a few quirks in his programming, he ended up taking over as King.

    Web Original 
  • Orion's Arm: The Archai are essentially immortal; some are worshiped as gods while others prefer to guide their subjects subtly. Most of the top Archai are over 2,000 years old, and the oldest are over 10,000 years old. The life expectancy of a modosophont (the bulk of their subjects) in the 'verse is about 400-1000 years.

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Princess Celestia, the alicorn ruler of Equestria, is seemingly ageless and has been her nation's sole ruler for a thousand years. She also ruled for around a century before that alongside her likewise ageless sister Luna; however, after a Face–Heel Turn and a failed coup on the latter's part a millennium in the past, Luna was sealed in the moon and has only recently returned and repented. As such, while she's been around as long as Celestia has, she has actually ruled for a much shorter span of time.
  • Samurai Jack: Aku has ruled over Earth since Medieval Japan into the indeterminate distant future. Being an indestructible, ageless Eldritch Abomination that no-one has been able to defeat (except the titular samurai) in history has its advantages.

    Real Life 
  • The Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang took various medical treatments in order to achieve immortality. As these treatments included drinking mercury, it's surprising he lived to 49. Today, he's still known as the first emperor of China and for building the Terracotta Army, so he achieved it in a way.

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