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Immortal Ruler

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Empires rise and fall because the great visionary conquerors that began them didn't live long enough to maintain them. But how long would an empire endure if the ruler lived forever?

Perhaps the ruler drank a potion. Maybe they happen to be a zombie. Whatever the case, this Emperor isn't going anywhere because of old age, and good luck with your assassination mission.

Usually overlaps with God-Emperor, though it's not required. 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.

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Examples:

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     Anime & Manga 

  • Discussed in Mahou Sensei Negima!: 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.
  • 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.

     Comic Books 

  • In the Elseworlds story 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.
  • In the Star Wars Legends Expanded Universe, 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.
  • The Arcanic Empire in Monstress 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.
  • Legends of the Dead Earth: In Superman: The Man of Steel Annual #5, Lex Luthor created an empire that he ruled for millennia by transferring his consciousness into a series of 59 clone bodies.

     Fanfic 
  • 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:
    • Princess Celestia, ruler of Equestria, along with her sister and co-ruler Luna, is immortal.
    • 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.
  • Elementals of Harmony: Princess Celestia, ruler of Equestria, along with her sister and co-ruler Luna, is immortal.
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     Film 

  • In the film version of Stardust, 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!"

     Literature 

  • Dune: Leto II, the aptly titled "God Emperor of Dune", reigned for 10,000 generations and kept humanity from destroying itself the entire time. His reign only ended because he planned 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.
  • The Emperor Gray from the Line of Delirium duology 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 by the remote head of government, however.
  • The Lord of the Rings: the Witch-King of Angmar is a Nazgul, 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.
  • Eragon:
    • 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.
  • A couple of examples from The Cosmere:
  • In The Belgariad 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 slowly dismantles the office of Duchess and lets Erat become independent. By the time it becomes the constitutional monarchy of Sendaria, Polgara has moved on and the eternal Duchess of Erat is mostly forgotten.
  • 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 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.

     Live-Action TV 

  • His Divine Shadow in Lexx 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.
  • In an episode of Space: 1999, 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.
  • Shaka Zulu: Shaka mistakenly believes that the British have "rejuvinated" 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.

     Tabletop Games 

  • The Immortal Emperor of Akoros in Blades in the Dark 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.
  • Warhammer 40K:
    • 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 the 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).
  • 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.

     Video Games 

  • In-Universe: the leaders of Civilization are famous historical figures who're around from day one and remain as long as their civilization lasts (though not all of them were kings or dictators in real life).
  • The faction leaders in Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri 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.
  • One event chain in Crusader Kings II: 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.
  • 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 is generally in a player's best interest to get them on the throne.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Shao Kahn, the Emperor of the mystical realm of Outworld in Mortal Kombat 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.

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     Web Comics 

  • In 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.
  • The seven ancient God Emperors of Kill Six Billion Demons are immortal through unique means. The known ones are Jagganoth, who attained Complete Immortality by impaling himself with nails forged from angel feathers; Mottom, who 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; Mammon, whose draconic species doesn't die of old age; and Solomon David, whose Supernatural Martial Arts keep him in peak physical condition.
  • 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.
  • Schlock Mercenary has a couple 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.
  • 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 could 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.

     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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