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Kneel Before Zod

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"You will bow down before me, Jor-El. I swear it! No matter that it takes an eternity! YOU WILL BOW DOWN BEFORE ME! BOTH YOU, AND THEN ONE DAY, YOUR HEIRS!"
General Zod, Superman: The Movie

The villain has many goals, but one is absolute: their nemesis bowing before them. That would mean their certain and total victory. If the villain is on the right end of the sliding scale, they may even get their way. But generally, once the demand has been made, one of four things will happen:

  1. The hero will say "Never!" and there will be a big fight, leading to the villain's defeat. If the villain tries this when the hero is nearly defeated, he may cause an Heroic Second Wind.
  2. The hero will say "Never!" and the villain will zap them with magic, knocking them to their knees, or Mooks will step in and shove them to the floor. This will allow the villain the fun of gloating for a while... and then there will be a big fight, leading to the villain's defeat.
  3. The hero does what they're told, but the villain suddenly gets a big surprise as the hero springs a trap, starting a big fight leading to the villain's defeat.
  4. The hero does what they're told, period. They might manage to escape or be rescued later, at some unrelated scene. Or not...

This is very popular with usurpers, conquerors, Evil Overlords, evil emperors, Jerkass Gods, as well as others with enough power and/or arrogance to expect people to bow down to them. It is also frowned upon by the Evil Overlord List (see point 859).

For possible reactions to this demand, see Ain't Too Proud to Beg, Defiant Stone Throw, Spiteful Spit, and Defiant to the End.

Compare Bring Him to Me, Cower Power, and Evil Gloating. Compare/Contrast Kneel Before Frodo.

Kneel Before These Examples!

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    Films — Animation 
  • Aladdin: After Jafar gains the Genie's lamp and wishes for the Sultanate and the powers of a sorcerer: "We will never bow to you!" ("Why am I not surprised?") Naturally, the evil Jafar can magically compel obedience from the Sultan and Princess Jasmine. However, prior to Jasmine's defiance, the Sultan noticeably begins to bow.
  • Barbie movies:
  • In the Islamic cartoon film The Boy and the King, King Narsis makes the protagonist Obaid bow down to him, but Obaid answers that he "will only bow down to Allah". The king's guards makes Obaid bow down by kicking him on the back.
  • The pilot movie of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, "The Adventure Begins" features Buzz forced to kneel before Zurg, courtesy of the Hornets, as the latter mocks the former's sorrow over losing his (believed to be dead) partner, Warp Darkmatter.
  • During the climactic battle of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Sephiroth orders it to Cloud:
    Sephiroth: On your knees. I want you to beg for forgiveness.
  • The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea has Morgana, the sister of Ursula, using the power of the trident to force most of the main characters to bow down before her, including King Triton. Unfortunately for her, she only focuses on making the ones with fins bow to her.
  • In Mulan, Shan Yu demands that the Emperor bow before him. The Emperor refuses with a pretty cool metaphor: "No matter how the wind howls, the mountain cannot bow to it." The Emperor's calm, matter-of-fact manner of saying it made it even better.
  • The Prince of Egypt. The priests have a Villain Song based around this. Oddly, they're addressing Moses, who is a titular, well, Prince.
    You put up a front
    You put up a fight
    And just to show we feel no spite
    You can be our acolyte
    But first, boy, it's time to BOW!
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. After Armaggeddon begins, Saddam Hussein demands that everyone, Americans and Canadians, all bow down before him.
  • Superman: Red Son. The communist Superman discovers Stalin's atrocities and kills him. Stalin's bodyguards rush into the room with guns drawn, stare in horror at the sight...then lower their guns and bend the knee without being told.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: Played with. Vanellope gets Ralph to genuflect so she can give him the cookie medal she made for him.

  • Morozko. Ivan mocks the Fairy when he tells Ivan to bow before a very old man, arguing that people who bow run the risk of having their head cut off, then dismisses, "The bear may bow before you, but not I." Guess what form Ivan is transformed into?
  • According to the legend, it was William Tell's refusal to bow before governor Gessler's hat that provoked the whole "crossbow-and-apples" thing.

  • In Unbalance × Unbalance, Ami of all people demands that Jin-Ho kneel and apologize. He's the competition, after all.

  • Whacked-out rock band Electric Six quotes this in their song "Rip It!":
    You're listening to your politicians
    They claim to speak to God
    Can't you see it's just a fraud?
    Your rituals and superstitions
    Don't you find them kind of odd?
    Might as well kneel before Zod
  • Westside Connection's hip hop song "Bow Down".
  • The Evile song Thrasher has the line "Bow Down to the Thrasher" in its chorus.
  • Invoked by Eminem as the "Rap God":
    Dale Earnhardt of the trailer park, the white trash god
    Kneel before General Zod, this planet's Krypton, no Asgard
  • KISS says you will kneel before the "God of Thunder".
  • Gama Bomb's "In The Court of General Zod." The song quotes this line verbatim.
  • Motörhead's "King of Kings," noted for its "Bow down to the king" chorus.
  • Sanctuary's "Battle Angels."

    Professional Wrestling 
  • At WrestleMania III, the Junkyard Dog and Harley Race (who was doing a "King of Wrestling" gimmick at the time) had a match with the stipulation that the loser must kneel and bow before the winner. Race won with a dirty pin, and the Dog kneeled in an incredibly half-assed way, then as soon as Race turned to gloat to the crowd, jumped Race from behind and got a victors response from the crowd as he left while leaving Race to rage in the ring despite him being the actual winner.
  • Paul Heyman briefly did this to The Undertaker after stealing his urn and kidnapping Paul Bearer. Taker had his revenge, of course.
  • Beth Phoenix proclaimed that Candice would get down on her knees and "worship the glamazon". Obviously this didn't happen.
  • Jack Swagger's WWE/ECW Titan Tron entrances started off with this theme.
  • Triple H's "King of Kings" entrance music, made ominously meaningful by the "Bow down to the king" chorus.
  • At PGWA A Call To Arms, Mickie Knuckles demanded Miss Rachel bow down to her.
  • "Bow down to Lei'D Tapa!"

  • Spoofed in the Captain Kremmen radio serial, when our noble hero is about to meet Gort, ruler of the evil Thargoids.
    Thargoid Guard: Earth scum, you will enter the throne room on your knees!
    Kremmen: You transistorized twit; no-one tells Kremmen to kneel!
    Thargoid Guard: You will ENTER on your KNEES!
    Thargoid Guard: Or we will remove your eyeballs.
    Kremmen: I think I'll enter on my knees.

  • This happens several times in The Bible, and is therefore Older Than Feudalism.
    • One of the most memorable comes from the Book of Esther, where the Jew Mordechai refuses to bow to the evil advisor Haman. This is enough for Haman to plot not only Mordechai's execution, but the extermination of the entire Jewish people. (Even though most of them did bow.)
    • As well as Satan's final temptation of Christ:
    Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me."
    Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve." ~ Matthew 4:9-10 NKJV
    • There's also the bit in the Book of Daniel where Darius wants everyone to worship him, but Daniel refuses and gets thrown into a lion pit. The lions leave him alone, and Darius is impressed enough to convert to worshiping the Abrahamic God.
    • Also from Daniel's book is the story of Shadrach, Mesach, and Abednego, which is essentially the same story. The three guys refuse to worship Nebuchadnezzar's giant idol and get thrown into a furnace. God sends down an angel to protect them from the flames, and Nebby is impressed enough to convert. For a while, anyway. That said, it took him going madder than King George for several years for the conversion to stick.
  • Inverted in The Qur'an: God orders all of His angels to bow to Adam, His greatest creation, but Iblis, a jinn ranked as high as an angel, refused. God damned him for his disobedience and Iblis became the Islamic devil.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has the first level Cleric spell Command, which forces the target to save or be affected by a one-word command you give them. "Kneel!" is a perfectly valid effect of the spell.
  • There are a ton of Charms in Exalted that allow you to do this to other people, or potentially have this done to you. Most notably is the charmset of the fallen demon king Malfeas, which includes a charm called Kneel or be Knelt and another that turns you into a living Ark of the Covenant that melts the skin off everyone who doesn't immediately prostrate themselves to you.
  • Pathfinder has, in addition to the spell Command from D&D, the high-level spell Overwhelming Presence. It forces around 20 creatures to bow before the caster and worship him/her for up to two minutes.

  • In Pokémon Live!, Giovanni's reprise of "You And Me and Pokemon" mentions this. On stage, Rocket Grunts kneel before him as he sings.
    One fight/Then after that/You'll all be at my feet!

    Visual Novels 
  • In Double Homework, among other things, Dennis forces the protagonist to say that he’s Dennis’s bitch while blackmailing him.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry: Shion is pressured into apologizing to her grandmother this way. She is then forced to strip herself of three fingernails.
    • And later in the same arc she treats Mion this way.
  • Beatrice in Umineko: When They Cry absolutely loves doing this in Episode 2. You may also lick her shoes. Serving as a living footrest for her is optional.


    Web Original 
  • Bee and Puppycat: Puppycat orders a ladybug to bow to him.
    Puppycat: Hello Peon. Bow to me.
    Ladybug: Ummm... no... thank you.
    Puppycat: Why not?
  • DEATH BATTLE!: "Beerus VS Sailor Galaxia" has Galaxia command the two inhabitants of a random planet she landed on to kneel for her after taking their starseeds.
  • In "The Juggernaut" Ketchup zaps Pimp Cane Padrino and tells him to "bow down to a true pimp, bitch!"
  • The power-hungry Dark Overlords from Dimension Heroes.
  • Kneel (or Equivalent) Before Zod!- A Usenet poster "roleplaying" as General Zod goes on a 4000+ word rant while trying to gain converts to his cause.
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, when Android 16 warns Android 17 that Piccolo had fused with Kami, 17 groans out "Seriously, what the hell is a 'Kami'?" Piccolo responds "It means 'God'. Now bow." before blasting him.
  • Channel Awesome ran an advent calendar of "Zodmas", with General Zod discussing his various opinions on Christmas traditions, how he will subjugate humanity to a never-ending era of suffering (marathons of "Baby's Day Out", toes that shoot missiles, etc.) then telling the audience to kneel. In the end, he decides not to invade our planet out of disgust for humanity's misinterpretation of the word "kneel".
    • Zod returns in To Boldly Flee to take command of the enemy's ship and stop the Channel Awesome critics. Naturally, he introduces himself with "KNEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLL!" Hilariously, Terl thinks that's his actual name.
    "Oh geez, he's foreign...Um, Hello, Neil! Nice to meet you!(mimics Zod's hand motion)"
  • In the 2020 Homestar Runner Halloween Episode "Halloween Hijinks", Homestar's costume is Bod, and he re-enacts the show's opening. Strong Bad's costume is Zod, and he also does the Bod intro ("Here comes Zod!") Then Strong Bad name-drops the trope, leading to an argument as to whether Homestar should Kneel Before Zod, or Strong Bad should Kneel Before Bod.
  • Played with in the title of comics media review site Kneel Before Blog.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Bow Before The Villain


The Tower's Voice

The player is unable to resist the Tower's divine commanding voice, even when the game presents options to try, and she forces them to submit and kneel to her.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / CompellingVoice

Media sources: