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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 frowned upon by the Evil Overlord List.

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, Evil Gloating. Compare/Contrast Kneel Before Frodo.

Kneel Before These Examples!

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the island arc of Assassination Classroom, Takaoka forces Nagisa to apologize for beating him in Takaoka's first arc, to save the lives of his comrades.
  • In Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, Lord Giga, the Cyber City arc's Big Bad, has an attack where the opponent must show them respect.
  • Digimon Adventure 02
    • The Digimon Emperor threatens to kill Davis' friends unless he bows down and begs for their lives. Davis actually complies. Then he gives David a sadistic choice (choose one friend to be spared), leading the poor kid to attempt a heroic sacrifice/take the third option.
    • The same character is later defied by a tranquil yet furious TK.
      Emperor: You're nobody! You will bow down before me.
      TK: Sorry, the floor's kinda' dirty.
  • Berserk: Guts being pinned to the ground by some demons before Femto, so that he's forced to watch as Femto rapes Casca.
  • Mazinger Z: One of the main reasons of Big Bad Dr. Hell to Take Over the World is that he wishes to force the entire humankind to bow down to him. He feels that will make up for years of suffering spite and abuse when he was young.
  • Sailor Moon: In the Japanese version, there is a scene where Sailor Moon is captured by Prince Diamond. He puts her in a trance and orders her to swear eternal loyalty and love to him. She drops to her knees and is about to kiss his hand as a sign of allegiance but manages to snap out of it before she does so.
  • Balalaika of Black Lagoon does a truly ruthless one of these with Hansel, one of the Creepy Twins of the Vampire Twins arc, during their confrontation. When Hansel doesn't comply, a sniper blows out his kneecap with one shot, then blows off his hand when he tries to hurl his axe at her. Balalaika then delivers a withering "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Hansel before sitting back and watching him bleed to death right in front of her.
    • Even better in the dub. "I SAID KNEEL!"
  • Happens in Code Geass during the beginning of the second season. Subverted when Lelouch kneels before the unintimidating and completely scared Prince Clovis, before killing him as the Trope demands.
  • Peach Girl: Sae, master of the Wounded Gazelle Gambit, manages to convince her fellow peers that Momo's been bullying her and trying to steal Toji from her when it's really the other way around. She cries after Momo hits her for badmouthing Kairi, which arouses the anger of their classmates. Sae gets a few people to restrain Momo and pin her to the ground, attempting to force her into apologizing by calling her names and repeating, "Apologize to Sae!" Luckily for her, Toji arrives in time and that starts the end of Sae's reign over Momo, for a little while, at least.
  • The last episode of the 2001 anime adaptation of Fruits Basket has Akito angrily grab a kneeling Tohru by the hair and force her to get on both her hands and knees before him. He then states that he will "make her regret she ever had anything to do with the Sohmas", that she will "suffer as we suffer", and demands that she "beg him for forgiveness" and "swear that she'll never interfere with the Sohmas again." It fails in the end: while Tohru does briefly give into despair, she ultimately brings herself back and helps Kyo anyway. As a result, Kyo's Parental Substitute Kazuma bows to her.
  • Subverted in one arc of Ah! My Goddess. Belldandy's "rival" makes a Deal with the Devil to defeat Belldandy and successfully forces her into complete servitude, obeying her every whim. But not long after her victory, the rival realizes it's all pointless because Belldandy's pride and spirit are intact.
  • Bleach:
    • When Grimmjow starts getting rebellious, Aizen activates his Battle Aura, which is enough to force Grimmjow to his knees.
    • After moving to the roof of Las Noches, Ulquiorra's ultimate goal in fighting Ichigo is to get him to give up trying to win, first by activating Resurreccion and overpowering him, and then releasing his second form just to drive his opponent's inferiority home. Ichigo refuses despite being outgunned, so Ulquiorra settles for going for the kill. That backfires on him.
  • In Fairy Tail:
    • Evergreen threatens to shatter everyone whom she has turned to stone unless Erza takes off all her clothes and prostrates herself. Erza responds by telekinetically holding a dozen swords and threatening to turn Evergreen into a pincushion unless she breaks the spell and frees her victims. It works.
    • Brain orders the heroes to kneel and beg for mercy. Instead, Jura kicks his ass.
    • In Fairy Tail: 100 Years Quest, Moon Dragon God Selene declares herself the new leader of Diabolos after killing Georg Raizen and tells the assembled Dragon Eaters to kneel while flexing her Battle Aura. Everyone but Kiria struggles to stand and she goes on the attack. It doesn't end well for Kiria.
  • Pokémon episode "Control Freak!". Jesse of Team Rocket puts on a golden mask that gives her control over Pokémon. It takes over her mind and makes her even more arrogant than normal. She calls herself Queen of the Pokémon and commands her "lowly subjects" (James and Meowth) to bow to her. After she demonstrates the mask's power, they do so.
  • In Black Butler season 2 episode 6 Alois requests that Claude make Sebastian do this.
  • Turles commands this of Goku (Whilst planting his foot onto the head of the latter) in Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might, particularly the infamous UK dub.
    Turles: Goku, if you would request my pardon, kneel before me and lower your head.
    Goku: No way, I told Gohan one thing... that I would never surrender!
    Turles: You'd rather I crush your head?!
  • In Unbalance × Unbalance, Ami of all people demands that Jin-Ho kneel and apologize. He's the competition, after all.
  • In Fushigi Yuugi, the Emperor of Kutou wants to get his arch-rival Hotohori to bow before him. That doesn't end up happening, however.
  • Played with interestingly in The Twelve Kingdoms. The mythical beasts known as the kirin are the only ones able to locate the future Kings/Queens of their lands, and the biggest proof of one person's worth to be chosen as the sovereign is that they're the only persons a kirin can kneel in front of. They're literally and physically unable to kneel to anyone else, even if they do try doing it. That's why evil princess Joei gets Keiki stuck in his Beast form, aside of keeping him mute: if he cannot bow to her, the falsehood of her claim to the throne would be revealed.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
  • Marvel Universe:
    • In the Infinity War epic-over from Marvel, the Magus, who has the eponymous gauntlet forces Thanos the Magnificent Bastard to his knees. Thanos dryly notes that he isn't doing it willingly, nor will he continue doing it unless forced before explaining to the Magus just how badly the villain had miscalculated.
    • In the Spider-Man/Human Torch: I'm With Stupid miniseries, a publicity-craving Torch tries to single-handedly storm the Latverian embassy. He's promptly frozen solid by "subthermic cannons", forcing Spidey to rescue him by pretending to join forces with Doctor Doom. Doom demands that Spidey kneel and swear his eternal allegiance. When Spidey does so without any fuss, Doom realizes that they're just words and asks him to back it up. Spidey lifts up the frozen Torch as though he's going to dash him on the ground, then web-swings out.
    • Ultimate Marvel:
      • The Ultimates: Herr Kleiser has nearly defeated Captain America, and he wants him to say "I surrender, Herr Kleiser. Make it quick". Instead of that, that gave Cap the conviction to turn the tables on him and gain the upper hand. He pointed to the "A" in his mask and asked: "Surrender? SURRENDER?!! YOU THINK THIS LETTER ON MY HEAD STANDS FOR 'FRANCE'?"
      • Ultimate Daredevil & Elektra: An inverted case, as it is Elektra who captures and humiliates Trey, and forces him to kneel while he cries like a little girl.
      • Ultimate Spider-Man: Shocker does not want just to have the money of the security van. He wants the officer to crawl over and give it to him. Then, Spider-Man took him down.
  • Xerxes in 300 to Leonidas. It doesn't work the first time; the second seems to, but only because Leonidas was preparing an attack. Apparently, it's a regular part of his gaining new territories, servants, etc.
  • Angel: In Spike: After The Fall the villain does this to Illyria; it turns out to be a Berserk Button and Illyria follows this by killing her.
  • Taken to extreme in Paperinik New Adventures: Zoster does this to the whole universe after obtaining the powers of Xadhoom:
    "On your knees, worlds! Kneel now! Or I'll erase you with a single gesture!"
  • Scooby-Doo! Team-Up: While under the belief his plan to make the Amazons lose their super strength worked, the Duke of Deception approaches Wonder Woman and tells her to kneel before him.
  • Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines: In "Truce Or Consequences" (Hanna-Barbera Fun-In #10, Gold Key, January 1972), Yankee Doodle Pigeon is lured to the enemies' side during a 24-hour truce, is hypnotized and made to pose for pictures depicting him as a traitor. When Yankee Doodle regains his senses and discovers what has happened, he accuses Dastardly of violating the truce (Dick's response: "Sue me.") But the villain counters that there are only thirty seconds left in the truce and Yankee Doodle will find himself AWOL. He genuflects to Dastardly pleading for an honorable way out.
  • A later Judge Dredd story shows that during the "Necropolis" arc Chief Judge Silver, after botching a suicide attempt, was captured by the Dark Judges and forced to kneel before Judge Death. When he refused, they killed and revived him as a zombie to further humiliate him.

    Fan Works 
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, Dr. Wily fantasizes about making everyone grovel before him—or, if he chooses, killing them while they're on their knees.
  • Justice League of Equestria:
  • In The Institute Saga 3 there is a layered one with Apocalypse declaring that everyone shall kneel before him, then Zod declaring that Apocalypse shall kneel before him instead.
  • In Into the Abyss, Neptune winds up in a Mirror Universe and winds up in a fight with Blanc, who uses this trope.
    Blanc: You should just be thankful for the chance to die painlessly instead of making this harder on yourself. I can still give you that if you ask nicely. Prostrate before me and I'll consider it.
    Neptune: Girls don't even have those, dummy!
  • In the Inuyasha story Darkness (ankh-ascendant), Naraku has Sesshoumaru captive. He doesn't actually make the demand, but when he has Sesshoumaru helpless, rather than killing him, he freezes him in a kneeling, head-bowed position, encased in diamond.
  • Near the beginning of the Supernatural fic Down to Agincourt, Castiel encounters Lucifer, who says, "You were meant to kneel in worship of someone. When I'm done with you, you'll do it for me." Castiel, who has really gotten on the free will train, tells him to commit an anatomically impossible act. Lucifer responds like a cat that fell off a table and huffily claims that he's not going to do anything because leaving Castiel alive will be a worse punishment.
  • In This Bites!, Enel demands that Cross acknowledge his godhood. Cross refuses. This doesn't end well.
  • Fate/Long Night: After conquering the von Einzbern castle, Robert Baratheon orders the inhabitants to bend the knee to his summoner, Illya. Jubstacheit angrily refuses, so Robert simply manhandles him to the ground, causing the rest of the household to kneel.
  • The Westerosi: King Joffrey is unwise enough to try and extort an oath of fealty out of Captain Jade Hasegawa of Starfleet as a condition of bothering to act on her warning that winter is coming... and so are the wights and White Walkers. This has the exact opposite effect he intended, driving Jade and her small but quite well-armed FTL-capable spaceship to actively supporting House Stark.... not to mention breaking Ned out of the dungeon, killing the Mountain in the process, and driving her boot into Jaime Lannister's tackle hard enough to do lasting damage.
  • J-WITCH Season 1:
    • While Valmont fights the heroes with the Armor of the Crystal Skull, he demands them to bow before "the master of the Dark Hand, and the soon-to-be master of the world".
    • Phobos tells Finn, Ratso and Chow to bow before him when he decides to make them his new minions. When they're about to refuse, he simply uses telekinesis to force them to, like Daolon Wong does canonically.
  • The Last Son: Naturally, the Trope Namer himself gets to say it a few times, such as when he does his Do Not Adjust Your Set speech demanding Earth's surrender:
    "A dear friend of mine believed that your species was capable of greatness; perhaps he was right. However, I do not see that, now: all I see is a race of very badly-misbehaving children, in severe need of disciplinary measures. Once my dictums are obeyed, and the human species becomes a civilization worthy of being Krypton's heirs, then I will gladly relinquish power…but for now, you have only one recourse if your society wishes to avoid its own self-destruction. You will obey my dictums… and kneel before Zod. You have one hour to comply. That is all."

    Films — Animation 
  • Barbie movies:
    Y'see this crown? It means bow down.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. After Armaggeddon begins, Saddam Hussein demands that everyone, Americans and Canadians, all bow down before him.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Superman movies:
    • And here's the one where Zod finally succeeds into getting Superman to kneel before him. The latter is a play on this trope as Supes has secretly weakened Zod at that point.
    • Zod also has the President kneel, with this classic exchange (playing with Answers to the Name of God):
      President: Oh, God...
      Zod: (correcting) Zod.
      • Also subverted when Zod first bursts into the Oval Office and orders that the President submit. When one of the men present steps forward to do so, Zod comments that he did it too quickly to be the genuine article. The actual President then reveals himself:
        Zod: It will. Starting with your own.
    • Man of Steel averts this; though General Zod is the primary antagonist, he never actually commands anyone to kneel before him. However, at one point, Superman is kneeling due to sheer fatigue on the platform of a building still under construction, as Zod hovers in front of him to gloat some more. Also reversed, as at another point Zod falls to his knees before Superman.
    • Likewise in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Superman drops to his knees in despair when Lex Luthor reveals that he has Clark's mother hostage. Lex patronizingly strokes Superman's cheek just to show off the power he now has over the world's most powerful man.
      Luthor: And now God bends to my will.
      • During the film, Bruce Wayne has a nightmare of a Bad Future where Superman has turned evil. The moment Superman arrives, the human soldiers in his service instantly kneel and bow their heads, showing he's become a god to some parts of humanity — something speculated about during the present day.
  • From the 300 film, best illustrated by Xerxes' speech to Ephialtes. Note that Ephialtes wanted revenge on Leonidas, who had — justifiably — not allowed the physically unable hunchback to become a Spartan, and so the former gladly bowed down to Xerxes the first chance he got.
    Xerxes: Cruel Leonidas... required you to stand. I ask ONLY... that you KNEEL!
    • Leonidas does kneel in the end; only so that he can get one last shot at Xerxes. He doesn't kill him, but he does make him bleed.
  • In Gladiator, Commodus offers Maximus the chance at first, but once turned down, Commodus just orders Maximus and his family's execution.
  • Star Wars
    • Palpatine wanted this from Luke, but it didn't work out so well.
    • Jabba The Hutt also states that Han and Chewbacca have the option of pathetically begging for their lives should they choose to exercise it. Han tells Jabba off while Luke confidently gives the gangster one last chance to be bought off by letting them go. Less than 5 minutes later, Jabba learns the hard way that he should have listened.
  • In The King and I, Yul Brynner famously declares "Your head must never be higher than mine!" forcing Anna to the floor in her attempt to comply.
  • Masters of the Universe: "Now. You. Will. KNEEL!"
  • In MST3K The Movie, Dr. Forester forces Mike and the bots to bow down to him. When they try to bluff their way out, he cuts off the oxygen supply in the Satellite of Love so all have to bow to Dr. Forester to save Mike.
  • Naturally, Monty Python have some fun with this in Monty Python's Life of Brian.
    Centurion: Oh, and throw him the floor again, sir?
    Pilate: Oh yes, fwow him to the fwooah, please!
    (Brian is already kneeling on the floor, so they pick him up and throw him back down again)
  • James Bond
    • The first thing psychopathic assassin Red Grant does to James Bond when he captures him in From Russia with Love:
    Grant: All right, now get up on your knees. Put your hands in your pockets. Keep them there.
    Bond: Red wine with fish. That should have told me something.
    Grant: You may know the right wines, but you're the one on your knees. How does it feel, old man?
    Grant: The first one won't kill you. Not the second. Not even the third. Not till you crawl over here and you kiss my foot.
    • In Never Say Never Again, Fatima Blush has a twist on it, demanding Bond write that she was the best lay he ever had — before she shoots him in the groin.
    Blush: Now write this. The greatest rapture of my life was afforded to me on a boat off Nassau by Fatima Blush.
    • It happens in the book version of ''The Man with the Golden Gun" — or at least, it's a crime Bond charges Scaramanga with having committed in the past.
  • Cleopatra featured a scene like this between the fair lady of the title and her future boy toy Mark Antony.
    Marcus Antonius: You dare ask a representative of the Roman—
    Cleopatra VII: I asked it of Julius Caesar. I demand it of you.
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has a rare heroic example. Li Mubai is trying everything he can to get Jen to agree to be his student and stop her from more or less being a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. Finally, he seems to be getting through to her and she says she'll agree if he can take the sword away from her in 3 moves. He does it in 1.
    Li Mubai: Bow to your teacher!
    Jen: Never! (jumps off waterfall)
  • Shouted by Jay after cold-cocking a guard with a baseball bat in Mallrats.
  • In Return to Oz, the Nome King is a bit too Affably Evil to demand this sort of thing from Dorothy, but he's more than happy to demand it of Mombi.
    The Nome King: Kneel.
    (Mombi lowers herself to her knees)
    The Nome King: Lower.
    (Mombi lowers herself until she's practically lying on the floor)
    The Nome King: LOWER!
    (Mombi flinches as she tries and fails to lower herself further, while the Nome King bellows with laughter)
  • In The Last Dragon, Sho-Nuff tells Leroy to bend down and kiss his Converses. Leroy, being a Martial Pacifist, doesn't mind complying if it means preventing violence. Sho-Nuff then proceeds to kick Leroy in the face.
  • The Pumaman
    Vadinho: Kneel!
    Servo: (as Tony) No, it's Tony!
  • Defied in The Ten Commandments (1956), Ramses tells Moses to command the conquered Ethiopians to kneel before Pharaoh, but Moses tells him that he's brought the Ethiopians in friendship and tells Ramses to mind his own business.
    "Command what you have conquered, my brother."
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In The Avengers (2012), Loki demands this of a crowd in Stuttgart, Germany, and the scared crowd obliges, except for one elderly man who tells Loki that "there are always men like you", and he would rather hold his head high and remain Defiant to the End than kneel before one. Loki moves to kill him before Captain America swoops in in the nick of time to save him and the crowd. During the subsequent fight in Stuttgart, he even attempts to forcefully make Captain America bow before him. Cap instead gives him a kick to the face.
    • Thor: Ragnarok. Once Hela returns, she wastes no time in demanding others to kneel before their queen. This is Played for Laughs when she finds the armies of Asgard don't know who she is, and therefore have no reason to kneel, and it increasingly annoys her.
  • In The Chronicles of Riddick, the Necromongers demand this of the people of New Mecca. They refuse, but then Lord Marshal rips a guy's soul out, terrifying them into kneeling. Despite this display of power, Riddick answers, "I bow to no man." Riddick is later forced to kneel when a magnetic device pins him to the floor. In the Director's Cut, at one point Riddick falls to his knees in exhaustion, and Lord Vaako remarks, "So, you can kneel!"
  • In Mister Roberts is when the crew realize the precious palm tree of the tyrannical Captain Morton has vanished, Mr Roberts having thrown it overboard — they all kneel before the empty pot and pretend to worship it.
  • In The Sicilian, before having them executed by his bandits, Salvatore Guiliano tells a group of Mafia bosses to "Kneel, and make your peace with God". Being 'men of honor', they just stare at him in silent contempt.
  • In Suicide Squad (2016), Enchantress promises to spare the lives of any of the Squad who kneels and swears loyalty to her. Harley Quinn pretends to comply in order to get close enough to pick up the sword Katana had dropped and slash Enchantress with it.
  • The Dark Side of the Moon: The devil gives all his victims the option to kneel before him before murdering them. Of course, since he's driven by Pride.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, Kanryu Takeda threatens Kenshin and Sanosuke with a Gatling Gun and orders them to kneel before him or die. Sanosuke looks like he is about to comply, but instead throws an egg at Takeda's face, blinding him long enough for the two to get out of the line of fire.
  • Stargate: Continuum: Defied. Ba'al simply calls up the U.S. President to have a relatively civil discussion with him about an Earth-Go'uld alliance, instead of beaming directly into the Oval Office to demand the unconditional subjugation of mankind. Ba'al recognizes that the usual Goa'uld tactic is too melodramatic and ineffective.
  • Watchmen. After Dr. Manhattan wins the Vietnam War within a week, some of the Vietcong forces ask to surrender to him in person and are shown prostrating themselves accordingly, a sign of how Dr. Manhattan has come to be regarded as a living god.
  • Terror in a Texas Town: When Johnny Crale goes to murder Mirada, he attempts to make Mirada kneel and beg for his life. Mirada realizes that he is going to die regardless of whether he kneels or stands, and chooses to defy Crale and remain standing. Crale shoots him, but Mirada's actions drive him into a Villainous Breakdown, as he has never encountered someone who was not afraid to do.
  • Gods of Egypt: During the coronation of Horus, Set enacts a coup d'etat by murdering his brother and seizing the throne. He demands that the other gods, and everybody present, bow before him. They promptly do.
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) has a variant when King Ghidorah, handily defeats Rodan and more narrowly puts Godzilla himself down for the count. Rodan, who fights for the strongest side, has no problem bowing to him. At the end of the movie, when Godzilla returns and incinerates Ghidorah, reclaiming his title as King of the Monsters, Rodan and a few other kaiju appear and bow to him.

  • 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.
  • 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?

  • In Alexis Carew: Mutineer, Captain Neals' sexist hatred of Alexis culminates in demanding she begs forgiveness for her men on bended knee. She refuses, stating she will bow to no one but the Queen, and he disrates hernote  and has her flogged. This triggers the eponymous mutiny while Alexis is recovering. Fortunately the Court Martial sides with Alexis and the crew upon viewing the video from the ship's log.
  • The Watcher in the Cemetery, a Cthulhu Mythos short by Ian Watson. The protagonists encounter Cthulhu who promptly kills several of them in a gory and physically impossible manner, then stops to observe their reaction. A pastor shouts for the others to pray to God for salvation. The group falls to their knees, only to stop in embarrassment when they realize it looks like they're worshiping Cthulhu instead.
  • In John Shirley's "Demons", a demon leader plays out this scene with the President of the United States, then foregrounds the subtext of the scene by proceeding to orally rape him.
  • In The Dresden Files book Dead Beat, Queen Mab gives a relatively subdued version of this trope. She tries to recruit Harry, and when he refuses she simply says "one day, you will kneel at my feet." This comes true as of Changes, when Harry accepts the mantle of the Winter Knight from her in order to rescue his daughter.
  • The Gilded Chamber: Haman forces his fellow members of Xerxes's court to bow to him, and retaliates against one who refuses by attempting genocide on his entire demographic.
  • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire book, Voldemort orders Harry to bow before dueling him after being resurrected. Harry refuses, so Voldemort simply uses magic to force him. The film implies that he uses the Imperius Curse to do this, whereas, in the book, Harry has demonstrated his immunity to the curse and Voldemort simply telekinetically forces his body to bow.
  • The Last Days of Krypton: Unsurprisingly, the Trope Namer has a moment where he browbeats several disgruntled city officials he suspects of sabotaging a superweapon and demands that they "kneel before Zod."
  • In a reversal of roles, Nicolae Carpathia's humiliated bow before Jesus Christ in the Left Behind book Glorious Appearing was made even more of that kind of moment in the Dramatic Audio presentation. Of course, Nicolae was left powerless to resist after Lucifer was cast out of him. Lucifer, on the other hand...
  • In Pact, Conquest is an Anthropomorphic Personification of the concept whose name he bears, and therefore is extremely focused on forcing his enemies to submit to him, forcing them to kneel before him and then enslaving them, in order to most fully fulfill his concept, from which he draws power.
  • In Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain, when The Inscrutable Machine hits a middle school to distract from their true identities, Penny gets all hammy and demands everyone on the playground kneel before her.
  • A Practical Guide to Evil: One part of Akua's final defenses in Liesse against the protagonist is a spell called Trifold Reflexion. When Villain Protagonist Catherine steps into it, she lives through different alternative lives she could have led. All of them, her as a heroine, a crimelord, or a general, end with her ambitions getting crushed and her standing before Akua as the empress who orders her to kneel. Naturally, she refuses in all cases.
  • Played with in The Reynard Cycle. Early in Reynard the Fox, Reynard claims that he bows to no man, Duke Nobel in particular. When he is finally made to kneel before Nobel, however, he is delighted to do so, as he is being made a member of the nobility against Nobel's will.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire. Torrhen Stark did this to save the North from the Targaryen conquest, earning himself the nickname "The King Who Knelt". Dropping to one knee is a routine act of acknowledging higher authority in this feudal society, as one is effectively offering their lives to the authority (literally and figuratively).
  • Randall Flagg demands Glen Bateman kneel to him near the end of The Stand. Bateman's response? Laughter. Of course, he gets killed, but it's a serious break to Flagg's aura of invulnerability.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In the New Jedi Order series, Supreme Overlord Shimrra uses a gravity-controlling creature called a dovin basal to force Luke Skywalker to bow to him when they meet face-to-face during the climax. Then between his own formidable Force powers and his nephew Jacen's rapport with the Vonglife, Luke is able to resist gravity and pull himself back to his feet, to the stunned amazement of Shimrra and his court.
    • In The Thrawn Trilogy, Joruus C'Baoth has foreseen that Mara Jade will kneel before him. She does, in order to strike him dead.
    • In Legacy, Darth Krayt forces Cade to sleep with Talon.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
  • The Wheel of Time
    • Protagonists do this too. Rand at one point snaps at the Aes Sedai:
      Rand: I forget nothing, Aes Sedai. I said six could come, but I count nine. I said you would be on an equal footing with the Tower emissaries, and for bringing nine, you will be. They are on their knees, Aes Sedai. Kneel!
      Taim: Kneel before the Lord Dragon, or you will be knelt.
    • Before that, Ishamael (as Ba'alzamon) did this a lot in the first book.
      Ba'alzamon: Kneel! Kneel, and acknowledge me your master! In the end, you will. You will be my creature, or you will die.
  • Worm has an excellent example in Imago 21.3 where Skitter asserts her dominance over a hero.
  • Subverted in Interesting Times. Rincewind has no trouble with "Kowtowing" to anyone who orders him to... It gives him the opportunity to get into a sprinter's stance after all.
  • The Yillian Way by Keith Laumer. Members of an Earth diplomatic mission are told to crawl on their bellies to the banquet table to "honor the gods". They refuse which turns out to be the right thing to do, as Yillian culture is based around rituals of submission and domination.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow: After his Awesome Moment of Crowning, Malcolm Merlyn orders Nyssa and the other Assassins to "Kneel before Ra's al Ghul" during the finale of Season Three. They comply, but Nyssa makes a deliberate point to stare him down before doing so. For a second, he actually looks worried.
  • The 1960's Batman (1966) series episode "The Spell of Tut". King Tut does this to Robin the Boy Wonder.
  • In The Big Bang Theory, on hearing that a team of strong contenders will not feature in the University's Physics Bowl Tournament, Leonard invokes this trope.
  • In Boardwalk Empire:
    • In Season 2, after finding that his brother Eli has come crawling back after chickening out of his attempt to depose him, Nucky Thompson twists the knife further. When the traitor is sobbing and begging to be taken back, Nucky says they'll sort it out, but there's something the traitor needs to do for him first. The traitor replies "Anything, Nuck!" Nucky tells him "I need you to get on your knees. Bend down to the ground, and kiss my fucking shoes". He then slaps him around and berates him some more and provokes a full-on brawl between them, blowing his chance to bring the cowed former subordinate back on board, and causing the traitor to turn against him irreparably.
    • In Season 5, Lansky forces Nucky to kneel before him to even past affronts and to underscore that the Young Turks have taken over the underworld from the old guard.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Inverted when one of Glory's minions is groveling before her.
    "Get up. Looking at you is hurting my neck."
    • And in the Angel spin-off, the Professional Buttkissers in Wolfram & Hart start doing this the moment a demon lord enters the room.
      Archduke Sebassis: (bored) Yes. Fine. Sycophants, worms. Don't writhe all at once. It's sickening.
  • In an episode of Charmed, the Valkyries of Norse legend arrive in San Francisco. Then, they meet a perverted biker.
    Valkyrie: On your knees.
    Biker: I got a better idea. How about you get on your knees instead.
    Valkyrie: [begins choking him with her mind, he falls to his knees in pain] Foolish man, you do not command us. WE COMMAND YOU!
  • Doctor Who:
  • Game of Thrones:
    • At his wedding to Margaery Tyrell, King Joffrey demands that his uncle Tyrion (whom Joffrey had immediately prior gone to excessive lengths to insult and humiliate in public) kneel before him.
    • King Stannis is a justified example in that in a feudal society, bowing down to a liege is a customary procedure, but all the same, Stannis is very insistent about his enemies and would-be allies bending the knee. He has little success at this. When Mance Rayder's men surrender to Stannis, it's pointed out that it's customary to kneel on such an occasion. Mance responds for the wildlings by stating flatly, "We do not kneel."
    • Lord Umber refuses to kneel to Lord Ramsey Bolton, knowing such gestures of fealty are meaningless when all concerned suffer from Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. He makes a more pragmatic gesture by handing over two useful prisoners.
    • In "You Win Or You Die", Cersei offers Ned a chance to submit without prejudice if he kneels, which both his honor and his leg wound prevent.
    • People quickly do this to Queen Daenerys whenever her dragons make an appearance, both from fear and awe. In one episode she decides to make a politically advantageous marriage and quips that her intended husband (who was in a cell expecting to be sacrificed to her dragons) is already on his knees.
    • Varys catches Littlefinger pondering the Iron Throne and wonders aloud if he's imagining all the highborn who've sneered at him over the years having to bow and scrape. Littlefinger replies that it would be difficult for them to do so without their heads.
  • John Adams. Played for laughs — having been sent to England as the American ambassador right after the Revolution, Adams has to go through an elaborate kowtowing ritual to King George III (staring coldly from the other side of a large hall) in order to present his credentials. Neither personage is particularly happy about it.
  • Krypton of course has the House of Zod, whose motto is "We Do Not Kneel", but who, as Kandor's leading military family, show no mercy to their enemies and force them to submit. The Trope Namer himself uses this line in the first Season Finale to close a New Era Speech about how he's going to make Krypton the seat of an interstellar empire.
    • Season 2 features what is probably the most triumphant example of this ever, when the man himself demands it of Doomsday. And it works.
  • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. When Stephen Miller (in Joseph Goebbels mode) says that Donald Trump's powers would not be questioned, Stephen Colbert pretends to be Miller, "Adding 'I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds...Kneel before Zod.'"
  • In one episode of The League of Gentlemen, restart officer Pauline (in an exercise in magazine-selling) demands that Ross beg her. This becomes an Ironic Echo when he gets her fired, and then offers to help her get her job back if she begs him.
  • Averted in Lucifer. In "God Johnson", Linda is naturally flustered when informed that she's just met God, and says that she should have bowed or something. She starts to drop to her knees the next time they meet, but (presumably because God is a good guy) he says that a handshake will do fine.
  • In the mini-series A Man Called Intrepid, a German officer tells a prisoner to kneel before the Firing Squad. When the prisoner refuses, he explains, "It is not symbolic, merely efficient."
  • In the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers episode "Green No More", Goldar gives this treatment to de-powered Tommy Oliver. He even uses a handy device to show him just how far he has fallen, rubbing it in as much as possible, then demands that Tommy bow and admit that he is his superior before he dies. Tommy starts to give a misleading answer, then flips out and (in the face of all reason) kicks his butt all over the Otherworld.
  • Parodied in an episode of Mock the Week, discussing the recent Church of England Synod:
    Frankie Boyle: Wasn't General Synod the villain in Superman II? "Kneel before Synod!"
  • Mortal Kombat: Conquest: From Shao Kahn to Raiden in the series finale episode:
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000
    • In one episode, Forrester is practicing the speech he plans to give after conquering the world, and even says "Kneel Before Zod!" He also shouts "You will bow down before me, son of Jor-El!" at one point.
    • Joel attempts this while dressed as The Master from Manos: The Hands of Fate. He's less than convincing.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Daredevil (2015). Done for Rule of Symbolism in "Revelations" when FBI agent Ray Nadeem discovers that every FBI agent guarding Wilson Fisk has been bribed or coerced into working for him. As the newest member of these corrupted agents, Fisk has Nadeem kneel down and remove his ankle monitor.
    • Luke Cage (2016). Shades has to kneel before Bushmaster when visiting him on Mariah's behalf in Brooklyn to collect money that Bushmaster's predecessor Nigel Garrison had promised Mariah.
    • Iron Fist (2017). When Madame Gao turns up in his apartment unexpectedly, Harold Meachum drops a glass in shock, and she orders him to get down on his hands and knees on the broken glass as a sign of submission.
  • Preacher. Jesse tries to use his Compelling Voice to make the Saint of Killers do this trope, but the World of God doesn't affect him. When Jesse resorts to Good Old Fisticuffs instead, the Saint does a Punch Catch and starts twisting painfully.
    Saint of Killer: Time to get on your knees.
  • On an episode of QI Stephen Fry pointed out a similarity between the topic discussed and the Superman movie. Leading him to point at Alan Davies and declare 'Kneel before Zod' in his fantastic upper-class British accent.
  • Smallville's incarnation of Zod is fond of it, of course.
    • The first version is actually a subversion. Zod is possessing Lex, whom he's placed his full Kryptonian powers into. He orders an apparently beaten Clark to kneel, saying the famous words. This allowed Clark, even as he's being driven to his knees, to pull out the Phantom Zone crystal and evict Zod from Lex and back to the Phantom Zone.
    • The later Zod, a younger version preserved as sort of a backup, does this with his soldiers frequently in a more ceremonial manner. It seems on Krypton to be similar to saluting a senior military or naval officer. It should be mentioned however that 'Major' Zod took the Zod you know and love and made him more awesome... Better yet, when he first shows up in "Savior", the audience is left uncertain who he really is...then he says to his two followers, "Kneel." (beat) "KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!"
    • Inverted in the Season 9 episode "Pandora". When Clark finally reveals himself to the recently restored Kandorians, Major Zod says their savior has come and commands his troops to "Kneel before Kal-El".
    • The Season 9 finale has Zod turn it into a mother of a Badass Boast in his final battle with Clark. "Unlike you, I will lead from a throne, not from the shadows! Every human, including the woman you love, will KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!!!"
    • Ironically enough, Lois pulls a "Kneel Before Zod" moment in the season 10 episode "Harvest". When Clark, weakened by Blue Kryptonite, is buried alive by a rural community who plan to sacrifice Lois in a ritual to ensure a bountiful harvest, he manages to regain enough of his strength to escape his grave and rescue Lois. When the villagers see Clark survive gasoline burns that would have killed a normal man instantly, Lois goes full-on Charlton Heston on them, declaring that Clark has been sent by God to punish the villagers "with great vengeance and furious anger", thus forcing the Blue-K enhanced villagers to back away long enough for Clark and Lois to make their escape. As they watch Clark speed off with Lois, the townsfolk all kneel.
  • Space: 1999. A female mind-controlling villain forces a character to do so in "The Lambda Factor", followed by an Evil Laugh.
  • Stargate:
    • Stargate SG-1:
      • In one episode, a minor Goa'uld tries to force a captured Teal'c to acknowledge that he and his family are gods. His refusal provokes a Heel–Face Turn from the guards.
      • More than just one episode. "Kneel before your god!" is a catchphrase used by virtually every Goa'uld or their underlings, either towards captured prisoners or towards leaders whose planets have been subjugated or are about to be. The gold medal goes to Anubis for trying it on the President of the United States and receiving a good natured "I don't THINK so!" for his trouble.
    • Wraith queens in Stargate Atlantis love forcing their captives to kneel before them. They have several henchmen, mind control (and Power Echoes) at their disposal and could force captives to do just about anything. No matter how many times Sheppard is ordered to kneel he never just goes along with it, instead opting for a one liner before being quickly beaten to the ground.
  • Star Trek:
  • Supernatural
    • Played with in the episode "Wishful Thinking", where a small child who gains super-strength yells "Kneel before Todd!" when toying with teenagers who used to bully him.
    • Played for drama when Rafael takes command of Heaven and demands Castiel submit to him. Castiel refuses and says other angels will join him.
      Rafael: Tomorrow you kneel, Castiel. Or you, and anyone with you, dies.
    • In the Season 6 finale, Castiel proclaims himself the new God, and demands that the heroes bow and profess their love to him. Season 7 opens with Bobby getting down on his knees and asking if that's good enough or if he wants "the whole forehead-to-the-carpet thing?" Castiel promptly decides it's pointless since they're only doing it out of fear, and leaves to spread the word of his godhood.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look: Parodied using General Drayfox, an incredibly PC supervillain, who wants his enemy to kneel before him — unless he objects to it for religious reasons, in which case he's free to demonstrate obeisance in an alternative, culturally-appropriate manner.
  • Marnie forces Eric to do this in True Blood.
  • The Walking Dead: The season 6 finale has the Saviors outsmart Rick and his group and eventually captures them and forces them to knell to their leader Negan. Negan then gives Rick and his group an epic "The Reason You Suck" Speech that reduces even Rick to tears and ends up beating one member of the group to death in front of them 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 Quran: 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 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!

    Video Games 
  • Andrew from the Star Wolf team in Star Fox 64 is introduced saying, "Bow before the great Andross!"
  • World of Warcraft
    • An NPC for the Ahn'Qiraj world event was called "General Zog". If a player did the "/kneel" emote to him, he would reply with "General Zog acknowledges your submission with a glance."
    • Patch 3.3 also included Zod's Repeating Longbow with the flavor text "Kneel before him."
    • High Prophet Barim, a boss in the Lost City of the Tol'Vir in Cataclysm, will yell "Kneel before me and repent!" midway through the battle. The players will be drawn to him, forced to kneel and have their souls sucked out of their bodies, forcing them to kill the Harbinger of Darkness before they can resume the battle against him.
    • We also have Cho'gall, using his Conversion ability to force players to kneel and worship him, granting him more power. Said players' companions had best snap them out of it quick.
  • Rozalin from Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories has an attack called "Kneel Before Me". Did we mention she uses it on her allies? Let's also mention that it's a Status Buff. The description's not exactly helpful, as it simply reads "You heard me."
  • Kingdom Hearts
    • Played with in Kingdom Hearts II: Saix simply asks Sora to show just how important Kairi is to him. Sora, who Ain't Too Proud to Beg, kneels of his own volition.
    • Saix does it for real in Days when he yells at Roxas to "Grovel before me!" while they fight.
    • Seifer's Catchphrase for the game: "KNEEL LOSER!"
    • Scar will yell "Bow to me!" during the fight against him atop Pride Rock.
  • In the old Tetris Attack game for the Super Nintendo (a port of Panel de Pon in which all of the characters were replaced with characters from Yoshi's Island), you could take a look at all of the characters available in the Options menu, complete with a bit of text from that character. Kamek's text starts off with superiority and ends with demanding Yoshi to "KNEEL, KNEEL BEFORE YOUR NEW MASTER".
  • Happened on Mitadake High. They said no. Badguy shot them in the face.
  • After his resurrection in Star Fox Adventures, Andross threatened everyone to kneel before him.
  • Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series: The player is ordered to kneel before Ramsay Snow and Ludd Whitehill one one occasion each. An option to kneel before Cersei Lannister is also presented, but the player is not asked to do so beforehand.
  • George Takei's huge Large Ham intro speech in Red Alert 3:
    "The Imperial war machine has been unleashed. Do not struggle against what is inevitable. All who stand in the way of our divine destiny will be swept away by the march of history. You will bow before us, or you will cease to exist."
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, the protagonist gets the option to demand people to bow down to them once it is revealed that they were the former Big Bad. Subverted, because nobody actually believes you.
    • In the Imperial Agent storyline of Star Wars: The Old Republic, Darth Jadus will demand that Cipher Nine bow before him. You're given the option to refuse, after which he electrocutes you for defiance.
    • In the Sith Inquisitor story, after you defeat the storyline Big Bad and overall Smug Snake Darth Thanaton, you use the Force to make him kneel, furthering your final humiliation of him.
    • And in the Sith Warrior storyline, you release the imprisoned Dread Masters (super-old and powerful Sith who can use The Force to terrify entire FLEETS into surrender) during the third arc. Upon release, they promptly turn their powers on you, forcing both your character and their companion to their hands and knees. This gives you the option of either mouthing off to them in a show of bravado, whereupon they unleash MORE power on you and force you even LOWER, or deciding that you're too badass for their nonsense and standing up after shaking their influence off. Although you find out later that might not have been the best idea...
  • In The Godfather game you can make targets fall to their knees, most easily achieved by shooting them in the knees.
  • Guild Wars Factions has Shiro doing this to some spirits he has captured.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In the fight against Odin in Final Fantasy XI, you can avoid instant death from his ultimate attack by using one of two commands that cause your character to kneel. There's still a chance that you will die from the damage done, but you at least reduce the chance.
    • Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, The Emperor gets this declaration in the final story mode's battle with him, doubling as Incoming Ham.
    "Grovel before my unrivaled power!"
    • He also gets "Fallen god, kneel before me!" when facing Feral Chaos.
    • Sephiroth also reprises his line from Advent Children: "On your knees! I want you to beg for forgiveness!"
    • In the crossover event between Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy XIV, the Primal Garuda is summoned into Eos by some displaced Ixal. Upon manifesting, Garuda demands that the mortals of the new world rejoice and bow to her in supplication. Noctis and the others aren't very accommodating to her demands.
  • BioShock
  • In Battle Realms, one of Serpent Clan Kenji's lines when he slays a foe is "bow before me!". If you choose to "ally" with the monks instead of the ninja, Kenji also forces the monks to kneel before him in the post-battle cutscene.
  • Happens in The Force Unleashed 2.
    Darth Vader: (force-chokes Juno) Bow before me, or she dies.
    Starkiller: Wait! Wait! (drops his lightsabers and kneels) I will do your bidding. Just let her go.
  • Jedi Academy: Near the end (one of them), the ghost of Marka Ragnos declares the Player Character will kneel before him. Instead of whining at you to do it, which wouldn't be likely to work, he immediately sets out to beat the crap out of you to make you submit/dead.
  • In Wandering Hamster, there's a certain sentient spleen who wants Bob to kneel before him. Kneeling gives no results (expect for spleen's comment), and the only way to get past him is to refuse to kneel (and thus, fight him).
  • In Blood, two of the lines Chernobog says when you fight him are "Bow down to me" and "Kneel before me".
  • Shao Kahn of Mortal Kombat is fond of this trope, being the Emperor of Outworld and all. "Bow to me!" (Ironically, this and his other gloats is a weakness that can leave him vulnerable to an attack by the player.)
    • His successor Kotal Kahn is also a perpetrator of this trope. His throw in Mortal Kombat X has him saying "On your knees" as he forces the opponent to do so.
  • In the Story Mode of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable : The Gears of Destiny, Large Ham Lord Dearche commands this to practically anyone she's about to fight.
    Dearche: A lowly fragment like you dares to raise your hand against your lord? Such arrogance! KNEEL BEFORE ME!
  • Injustice Universe Superman does this to his defeated opponent in his victory scene in Injustice: Gods Among Us.
    • General Zod actually has this as his grab move where he makes his opponent kneel before him with eye beams. He even says the name of the trope as he does so.
  • Mass Effect 3's Citadel DLC gives us this bit from a 50,000-year-old Proud Warrior Race Guy with a massive after-party hangover:
    Javik: (still drunk from the party the night before) Is it time to rule the galaxy now? Kneel before Javik!
  • Dragon Age:
    • Dragon Age II - At the end of the Legacy DLC, the sapient darkspawn Corypheus wakes up after being sealed for more than a thousand years. Despite his disorientation, he quickly demands Hawke and co. kneel before him.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition - The Elder One makes his debut by wiping out Haven with his army and his dragon, then demands that the Herald kneel before him. Clearly, Corypheus is as prideful as ever.
  • In BlazBlue, Relius's Astral Heat shows more than one character forced on his/her knees before him in different and personalized poses (some of them being really fetishized) before he experiments on them.
  • In LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, during his boss fight in Free Play Mode, Loki swears the player characters will kneel before him when the day is through.
  • Losing to Marik in Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monster Coliseum makes him delighted to see the Pharaoh groveling before him. Bandit Keith mentions this as well, but tires of it and tells him to get lost.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Falsebound Kingdom inverts this, as Marthis demands Kaiba stand before Emperor Heishin.
  • The Big Bad from Hexen will say this to taunt the player.
    "Bow to me, and I might be merciful!"
  • Salt and Sanctuary: The Scarecrow you often encounter talks about how even the most powerful beings out there kneel to him, and that you will, one day, join them. Even if you persist, one day you will break, sink into despair, and finally kneel before it. And in the fight with the Nameless God himself, whose voice was in that same Scarecrow, he at least forces the physical gesture out of you by forcing you to take fall damage to access his arena, which makes you kneel to the ground briefly.
  • In Guilty Gear Xrd REVELATOR, Kum Haehyun's Instant Kill first immobilizes and forces the target on his/her knees, before Haehyun gives them a "The Reason You Suck" Speech and then a Finger Poke of Doom that pretty much sends them flying.
  • In the campaign mode of Injustice 2, Grodd demands that Black Canary kneel at his feet. Before fighting him, Canary's response is "Kneel before Grodd? That doesn't sound right."
  • Grimoire Weiss upon your first meeting in NieR has this to say:
    Weiss: (Evil Laugh) I am Grimoire Weiss! My very name brings kingdoms to their knees! I will grant you one final chance. Bow your head and accept my power or go alone and fail.
    • Subverted, since he isn't actually evil, just extremely arrogant, and will gladly provide the main character with Black Magic (and snarky commentary) in return.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:

    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 
  • 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.
  • That Guy with the Glasses 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)"
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • Played with in the title of comics media review site Kneel Before Blog.
  • 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.
  • 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!"

    Western Animation 
  • The Powerpuff Girls
    • In "Not So Awesome Blossom," Mojo Jojo tries to extort this out of Blossom by dangling a Bound and Gagged Professor over a Lava Pit.
    • Princess' première ("Stuck Up, Up And Away") also includes her telling Blossom, "Prepare to bow to your princess!" Cue the Fiery Redheaded leader's awesome moment.
    • Later on in "Forced Kin", a giant alien robot manages to defeat the Powerpuff Girls, take over Townsville and make the entire town kneel before it. Mojo Jojo (who has been aiding the girls because he couldn't stand to see something more evil than him) witnesses this, utterly snaps, and proceeds to beat the crap out of the five or six times bigger robot with a loaf of stale French bread.
  • In The Batman, Lex Luthor forces Superman to do this by drugging him with a combination of Kryptonite dust and Poison Ivy's mind-control pollen.
  • Lex also does this to fellow criminal mastermind Gorilla Grodd in the Grand Finale of Justice League Unlimited, by turning Grodd's own Mind Control powers against him. And we love him for it.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold
    • "Kneel Before Grodd!" Gorilla Grodd travels forward in time to take over the Ape Army and beat the Tiger Army. He succeeds and has the Tiger leader "Great Caesar" bow to him; complete with Agony Beam.
    • Fox also tries to make Bronze Tiger kneel before him at the end of "Return of the Fearsome Fangs!", and Bronze Tiger pretends to comply so he could attack Fox while his guard was down.
    • Degaton does it to Batman and the Justice Society in "The Golden Age of Justice!".
    • "Kneel Before King Superman!" in "Battle of the Superheroes!"
  • Has happened on VeggieTales a few times, in the dramatizations of the above-mentioned stories from The Book of Daniel. Mr. Nezzer even wrote a song that people can sing as they bow to his giant chocolate rabbit idol. Yeah, it's a weird show.
  • X-Men: The Animated Series:
    • Vertigo in the two-parter "Reunion", when using her powers on Wolverine:
    Vertigo: On your knees!
    Wolverine: No!
    Vertigo: Surrender to Vertigo.
    Wolverine: Never!
    • Here's another:
    Vertigo: Kneel. Become one of the master's slaves. They cannot help you.
  • The episode "Betrothed" of Teen Titans (2003) had Blackfire telling Starfire: "That's right. Bow down before your Grand Ruler!" Cue Starfire retaliating with "You may be the ruler of this planet, but you are not the ruler of ME!"
  • The South Park episode "Scott Tenorman Must Die" has the eponymous Scott force Cartman to get down on his knees, beg him for his money back, and act like a "little piggy".
  • In Jackie Chan Adventures, Tarakudo: King of the Shadowkhan does this often. Captain Black once responded with, "The only king I bow to is Elvis, and I don't see you wearing blue suede shoes."
  • Vilgax attempted this on Ben in the Ben 10: Alien Force finale when he finally succeeded in taking the Omnitrix from him. Ben's answer: "You already got the Omnitrix, Vilgax. Don't ask too much."
    • Old George later attempts a slightly less aggressive version of it on the heroes, with not much more success.
  • Big City Greens: The Cyber Knights of "Cyberbullies" repeatedly insist their victims bow down to them and surrender. Naturally, Cricket refuses, and is determined enough to take them down.
  • The Danger Mouse episode "Viva Danger Mouse" has Baron Greenback planting cactus needles in the seat cushions of the world's leaders so "I can bring them to their feet before bringing them to their knees!"
    • In "Danger Mouse on The Orient Express," DM exclaims that Greenback's plan to eliminate all of Europe's tourist sites and force tourists to visit his museum of Barry Manilow record sleeves will "bring the world to its knees!"
    • Danger Mouse and Penfold are disguised in a suit of armor in a bid to stop Merlin's original magician Nozzle, who wants to rule the world today ("The Clock Strikes Back"). Nozzle tells the suit of armor to kneel to him, to which Penfold quips "It's not Neil. It's Penfold and..."
  • Young Justice (2010) has a truly epic one: Vandal Savage uses Starro-tech to mind control the entire Justice League and forces them to kneel before him at the end of "Usual Suspects".
  • The Looney Tunes Show: Daffy (as General Zod) has making Bugs kneel before him as his major motivation (and even utters the actual phrase) in "SuperRabbit": the episode being a Whole Plot Reference to Superman II.
  • In The Superhero Squad Show episode "Planet Hulk", the first thing the Hulk hears on arriving on Sakaar is some shouting "You WILL bow down before me!"; the Hulk replies, "Sounds like bully, or politician". When the unseen shouter roars "KNEEL, I said!", the Hulk replies, "DEFINITELY politician!"
  • The Hair Bear Bunch kneel to zookeeper Peevly and beg him to not put Arnie the lovesick gorilla in their cave with them in "Love Bug Bungle."
  • On The Legend of Korra, Kuvira demands that the entire population of Zaofu bow to her after she finally conquers the city. Zaofu is led by the Beifongs, the family of her Dragon/fiancé, Baatar Jr.; none of them will bow to her, which she accepts calmly, though it infuriates him.
  • Parodied in Robot Chicken. Zod demands the viewer to "Kneel before Zod!" Then the camera pans out and reveals he's doing a Bod by Zod workout video.
    Zod: Lay down on your backs before Zod! Now, using your lower abdominals, raise your legs and hold on a five-count before Zod! One before Zod! Two before Zod! Three before Zod!
  • Plankton in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "F.U.N." when he imagines himself conquering Bikini Bottom with a giant jellyfish. "All knees will bow to Plankton!"
  • Superman: The Animated Series: In "New Kids in Town", Brainiac travels back in time in an attempt to murder a teenage Clark Kent before he can become Superman. When Clark takes a beating and falls to his knees, Brainiac says, "At last, the son of Jor-El kneels before me."
  • Superfriends: In "No Honor Among Thieves", after Lex Luthor steals several heroes' powers, including Superman's, he demands this of Darkseid, Kalibak, and Desaad. Instead, Darkseid outsmarts him and exposes him to kryptonite.
    Lex: Earth is mine, as is Apokolips. You may kneel before Luthor the All Powerful!
  • In Star vs. the Forces of Evil, the incantation for the Spell with No Name demands this right before unleashing a butterfly-shaped projectile of pure destruction.
    I call the spell which has no name.
    My mother's gift with which she reigned.
    Eclipse my heart with rightful power.
    Stand before the queen and cower!
  • Played straight in Wander over Yonder Lord Dominator commands everyone to kneel after beating them in "Battle Royale".


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Bow Before The Villain


Superman kneels before Zod

A (supposedly) de-powered Superman kneels before Zod.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / KneelBeforeZod

Media sources: