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Man of the City

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A city is a living organism. It grows, it flourishes and, sometimes, it gets sick and dies.

The Man Of The City will not allow that to happen.

Though not Always Male, the Man Of The City is a character whose entire purpose in life is to ensure the well-being of a city. For some reason, perhaps altruistic, perhaps sinister, this character has a vested interest in the well-being of the citizens and the quality of the infrastructure. This type of person may sometimes use illegal means to ensure that the city is in order, and he might be ruthless enough to make sure that any unwanted elements in his city leave at best and are buried in a shallow grave at worst, but it's still with the city's best interests in mind (gentrification on their own terms, in other words). The city is the Man's home, and woe unto anyone who commits offense against it.


Expect him or her to give a "No More Holding Back" Speech about why they love that city.

"City" can also refer to a small town or county. As long as it's an individual all-encompassing area, this trope applies.

When the city's best interests are secondary or ignored, it's either I Own This Town, which happened by Taking Over the Town, or outright Villainous Gentrification.


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     Anime and Manga  

  • Bubblegum Crisis: The Knight Sabers are Women Of The City for Mega-Tokyo. Sylia and Nene in particular are also benefactors of the city outside their role as vigilantes, as a businesswoman and police dispatcher respectively.
  • In Karas, characters are empowered by the spirit of the neighborhood in order to fight demons. Given that a neighborhood in Tokyo is more analogous to a borough of New York, this is a sizable territory to protect.
  • In a sense, Daisuke and J from Heat Guy J.
  • Roger Smith from The Big O will protect the City of Amnesia, Paradigm City from monsters, terrorists, giant robots and the memories of the long forgotten past, either with his skills as The Negotiator, or the Humongous Mecha that gives the anime it's name.
  • Franky and Iceberg share this for Water 7 in One Piece, although only Iceberg is acknowledged as such by the citizens. Iceberg is the city's mayor and runs Galley-La, the biggest ship-building company in the city. Franky is a mob boss, but his actions ultimately benefit Water 7, turning their own riff-raff into productive (but still very raucous) members of society and chasing away pirates.

     Comic Book  

  • By their very nature, superheroes tend to be Men of the city they choose to make their home. However, there's particular ones that stand out amongst their peers:
    • Batman. You can't even litter in Gotham without Batman kicking your ass. In his public persona as Bruce Wayne, he's the city's biggest philanthropist and provider of jobs. Lampshaded by the Riddler in stories by Neil Gaiman who notes about Batman, "That man was the city."
    • Superman is a milder example than Batman, but it's still a very bad idea to commit a crime in Metropolis. As Clark Kent, he's an incorruptible champion of truth as reporter for the Daily Planet.
    • Lex Luthor is a mild subversion: he does genuinely care for Metropolis, and has served as its benefactor in myriad ways. He gives its citizens jobs, organizes charities for the city's welfare and has constructed various important landmarks, including reconstructing Metropolis whenever a supervillain has a field day with the infrastructure. However, he'd be more than willing to personally slit every Metropolis citizen's throat if it furthered his vendetta against Superman.
    • Green Lantern Hal Jordan is so much a man of the city he brought it back from the dead. Coast City's slogan is "The City Without Fear" in his honor.
    • Green Arrow aka Oliver Queen is this to his hometown of Star City, both as a crimefighter and a crusader for social reform. One arc even had him successfully running for Mayor in order to help the city rebuild after a major supervillain attack.
    • All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder plays this up for Bats by having him wax poetic by comparing Gotham to a woman (Frank Miller apparently hadn't gotten out of this mindset from writing The Spirit), only for The Joker to invert it as a counterpoint.
    "Gotham is an ugly city full of shame, far beyond redemption. This city's an ugly old whore... but she's beautiful when she cries".
    • Quoth Peter Parker: "You can't say 'I love New York'. Tourists can love New York. Me? Who grew up here? Who's lived here my whole life, who's crawled over every stone and swung off every cornice...I am New York. It's in me, in my blood, like a know, like a blood disease but a good one, like a happy...cancer... Okay, clearly I was not bitten by a radioactive poet."
  • Just try to commit a crime in Mega-City One, and face the long arm (and explosive side-arm) of Judge Dredd. He is the law, after all.
  • Hellblazer
    • He may not admit it, and in fact he'd be the first to tell you that the city's a stinking shithole, but John Constantine has a fatalistic sense of duty towards the city of London.
    • Constantine's fellow wizard Map is possibly the living incarnation of this trope. The Spirit of the city of London itself has chosen him to be its champion, and he can harness the mystical energies of the city itself to power his magic.
  • Spider Jerusalem of Transmetropolitan. His love/hate relationship with The City is very similar to John Constantine's relationship with London. He hates most of the people within The City, but still finds it his responsibility to uncover the Truth for them.
  • Subverted by Rorshach in the first issue of Watchmen, as we discover that this isn't quite a standard superhero story.
    Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "Save us!"... and I'll look down and whisper "No."
  • Jack Hawksmoor, literally and biologically a man of cities.
  • Mister X: The title character is on a personal crusade to repair the psychetecture of Radiant City. This might be because he's the architect who screwed it up in the first place.
  • The comic prequel to 28 Days Later features Hugh Baker a Patriotic Londoner who remained behind in the city to fight the infectedCrazySurvivalist style long after it was evacuated.


     Fan Works 

  • Peter Wisdom a.k.a. Regulus Black is this to Britain as a whole in Child of the Storm, and one of the most dangerous characters in the series as a result, being The Unfettered: protecting his country is pretty much his only motivation. All implying that he might put personal benefit over what is good for his country will do is make him angry - and that is not something that anyone wants.


  • Sheriff Buford Pusser is this to McNairy County, Tennessee in the Walking Tall (1973) films, willing to go far beyond his responsibilities as sheriff to rid the county of crime.
  • George Bailey, sacrificing his own happiness to make Bedford Falls a better place in It's a Wonderful Life.
  • In The Spirit, the titular character himself starts off the movie by monologuing how he only lives to protect the city. She is all he needs to survive, and all he wants. He lives for the city. He will die for the city, and nothing else. His attitude is an unholy amalgamation of this trope, Cargo Ship, and Married to the Job.
  • The Big Lebowski: "Sometimes, there's a man, and I'm talkin' about The Dude here, sometimes there's a man, well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that's the Dude, in Los Angeles."
  • Batman Begins: Thomas Wayne was Gotham City's benefactor before his death, dedicating his wealth to philanthropy, urban planning and science. Gotham fell into crime and decay after his death, and Bruce/Batman stepped up to fix this with philanthropy and crimefighting.


  • Discworld's city of Ankh-Morpork:
    • Havelock Vetinari, the Patrician of the City of Ankh-Morpork. He may be a scheming, conniving Magnificent Bastard, but he's Ankh-Morpork's scheming, conniving magnificent bastard. The novels have actually shown that, when he somehow loses his position, the city starts to fall apart.
    • On the right side of the law, you have Commander Sam Vimes and the rest of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, who protect the city from crime.
    • Captain Carrot is the embodiment of this trope: he always does what is best for the city; knows (and is liked by) everyone (literally - everyone); and he's even refused to acknowledge that he is almost certainly the rightful King of Ankh-Morpork (to the point of destroying any evidence he finds) because that wouldn't be best for the city. He indicates to Vetinari, when the two come to an unspoken accord at the end of Men at Arms', that he'd really rather not be King, because people would obey him because he's Carrot, rather than because it's the right thing to do. Accordingly, he thinks he can do more as a policeman, and unless the City really needs him to do so, he won't take the throne. The fact that Mr. Vimes (who he deeply respects) would go spare may also be an influencing factor.
      • In the above-mentioned scene in Men at Arms, Carrot notes that "policeman" is a portmanteau word meaning "man of the City". Vetinari considers this, commends Carrot on being a man who thinks about language, and asks him, benevolently, to consider the derivation of the word "politician." And both are right...
    • Lancre is witch country. Every citizen of Lancre is proud of their witches. Or else.
  • Marcone of The Dresden Files, a pragmatic mob boss who knows the value of Vetinari Job Security. In some ways, Chicago is very fortunate to have him controlling it; he protects against most of humanity's supernatural foes, and he won't allow any of his employees to harm a child. But he is still controlling it, and does so mostly for his own benefit.
  • Hinzelmann of American Gods appears to be a jolly, helpful Cool Old Guy who is quick to befriend Shadow the moment he moves into Lakeside. He is actually a Germanic Kobold who kills a child/young teenager every year (as a sacrifice to himself) in order to keep the town permanently prosperous, in what is hinted to have been a Deal with the Devil - Hinzelmann being the devil - with the town's founders.
  • J.A. Johnstone's Assault of the Mountain Man. Mine owners Thaddeus Walker and Emerson Teasdale and dairy owner Raleigh Jones have a great deal of pride in their hometown of Crystal, Colorado, and hope it will someday be one of the largest communities in the west. They want to construct a hydroelectric dam to usher their town into the modern age of electricity and provide an additional revenue source that will let the town survive far into the future, even if the silver mines play out. The three are shot during a bank robbery before they can unveil their plan, and Crystal becomes a ghost town within thirty years.
  • The Last Days of Krypton: Zor-El is the mayor of Argo City and is devoted to bettering it with his inventions and civic plans. After standing against Zod, he works on protecting his city from retaliation with an energy field and is saddened about having to destroy a historic piece of infrastructure in the process. After the war, he declines a seat on Krypton's council (endorsing Jor-El in his place) to focus on repairing Argo City. When Zor-El speaks, all of Argo City listens to him and trusts him. When the destruction of Krypton is imminent, Zor-El spends the last few hours taking in Argo City's beauty while wondering if his energy shield will save them or not.
  • The John Sandford book Silent Prey features a Killer Cop who passionately argues that he can make Manhattan about twenty times safer by killing a hundred people (repeat offenders, a particularly successful criminal defense attorney, etc.).

     Live Action TV  
  • Arrow. As Oliver Queen reminds us in every Title Sequence, his one goal is to save this city. In fact his Catchphrase for those who attempt to bring Starling City (later Star City) down is, "You have failed this city!"
  • The Reagan family in Blue Bloods is an entire dynasty of Men of the city on New York.
  • Leslie Knope is this to Pawnee in Parks and Recreation, even more so now that she's in the city council.
  • Angel becomes this to Los Angeles, often choosing to stay out of Sunnydale even when his presence would be useful because it's no longer his city. It's quite telling that the pilot is titled "City of Angels".
  • In Netflix's Daredevil (2015) Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk are opposing Men of the City, or more specifically, Hell's Kitchen. Both are concerned with saving the Kitchen, though they both have radically different notions of how to go about doing it; Matt by fighting injustice outside of the law as the Devil of Hell's Kitchen (later Daredevil), and Fisk by controlling New York's criminal underworld and later, by posing as a wealthy philanthropist.

     Tabletop Games  

  • The City Gods of Exalted are celestial versions of this trope.
  • City Princes or Barons in Vampire: The Masquerade can be this at their most benign. Yes, vampires are parasites of humanity, but as any other parasite, the health of the host is of paramount importance to them. Also, many vampires can have actual affection for a city and its people (Carthage and the Brujah being the most famous example).
  • Both version of The World of Darkness seems to assume that your player character is inextricable from the city, if not by their nature (see Vampire, above) then by the need of companionship (see Changeling). If you're a supernatural in WOD, then you want to take care of the city even as the city repeatedly hurts you. Whether this is a creativity leash is in the eyes of the players.
  • Dungeons & Dragons had, with Dragon Magazine (later updated in the Dragon Compendium), the Urban Druid which is clearly this from level 1 to level 3, as they have a favored city they gain boni while in. It gets a bit less clear from level 4 onward, as they get to add another city as favored (culminating in six favored cities at level 20), thus being a Man/Woman/Other of Several Cities.
  • Unknown Armies has two different versions: the Urbanomancer, an adept who draws power from his home city; and the Avatar of the True King, who in theory can become a Fisher King to a large area but in practice is usually limited to a small realm like a neighborhood or group of followers - maybe even a whole city for powerful True Kings - since in the modern day "all politics are local."


     Video Games  

  • Yakuza: One of Kazuma Kiryu's most admirable traits is that, no matter where he lives, he quickly becomes a pillar of the community. He is a gracious and friendly neighbor, is always helping people in need around him no matter how petty their problem, invests and helps out in local establishments, and is quick to let the fists fly on anyone abusing or taking advantage of his neighbors. Both in Kamurocho and Okinawa, and even in his brief time in Osaka, he instantly makes friends and earns respect and admiration from the townsfolk.
  • Mayor Mike Haggar of Metro City in the Final Fight games. Not only is he the mayor, he's also willing to walk the streets and lay an unholy ass-beating on any gang members on his watch. Cody was one too, until his Blood Knight tendencies got the best of him.
  • Good Cole McGrath is this for both Empire City and New Marais in the inFamous games. Even when myriad enemies try to discredit him as a public menace, he still helps out whenever he can. In fact, the big Sadistic Choice in the first game that leads to Trish's death is one of the biggest examples of selflessness in the history of gaming.
    • This also happens in inFAMOUS: Second Son with a Good aligned Delsin as he fights to kick the DUP out of Seattle.
  • Ezio Auditore first becomes one to his uncle's hometown of Monteriggioni in Assassin's Creed II, but then he takes it to a bigger extreme when he dedicates himself to the city of Rome in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood: he wrests control of the city from the neglectful Borgia dynasty, purchases most of the city's small businesses in order to stimulate the economy, and provides the funds to preserve many of its historic landmarks. He's at it again in Revelations, by doing the same thing in Constantinople.
    • Shay Patrick Cormac of Assassin's Creed: Rogue is a Templar-aligned example for the city of New York, though to a lesser extent than Ezio, using the relatively new science of urban renewal to rebuild parts of the city and ridding it of gang activity.
    • In Assassin's Creed III, Connor becomes this to the Davenport Homestead, bringing in various people like woodworkers, farmers, hunters, etc. to turn what was once a lonely house into a thriving village.
    • Assassin's Creed: Syndicate: Jacob Frye falls in love with London, and most of his missions revolve around killing targets who exploit the locals. This contrasts with his sister Evie, who's not uncaring but is more interested in getting the Pieces of Eden before the Templars do.
  • Mjoll the Lioness, of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim fame, is an ex-adventurer turned crimefighter who devotes her life to cleansing the city of Riften from crime: a truly herculean task. That is, until you persuade her to return to footloose adventuring. Yes, you can do this even if you are the organized crime boss of Riften and all Skyrim.
  • In Vampyr, each of London's four districts has an important citizen referred to as "pillar" who is responsible for stabilizing the area and keeping it in order. If they are killed by the main character, than the district will quickly deteriorate into chaos, civilians will become more ill and enemies will become more numerous.
  • Hawke is given the title "Champion of Kirkwall" at the end of act 2 in Dragon Age II by ending the Qunari invasion by either killing the Arishok, or handing over Isabela who had stolen a relic important to their culture.

  • The Titular Barber of Seville, Figaro, as explained in his song Largo al factotum. Everyone in Seville knows, loves, and can count on Figaro if they have a problem.


  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, King Radical is devoted to making Cumberland more... well, radical. Because of his influence, the city has, among other things, skydiving news anchors, a doctor who battled an Eldritch Abomination to cure someone's acne, and a Captain Ersatz of The Incredible Hulk advertising for a grocery store. He's not afraid to use illegal means for livening up Cumberland, and Doc is absolutely sure he's plotting something more sinister, but everyone else supports his efforts. Then horribly subverted when he kills hundreds of innocent people during the activation of his robotic weapon.

     Web Original  

  • In Worm, local supervillains the Undersiders acquire this role for the city of Brockton Bay after it's badly damaged by Leviathan, first claiming territory and driving off the supervillains that are less friendly to the populace (drug dealers, neo-nazis, and serial killers) and then funding the city's revitalization with their illegally gained money, as well as providing smuggled supplies where government supplies fall short. When the city is about to be condemned, they convince the mayor to argue against it in Washington by invading his home and threatening his family. Later, they create the first stable gateway to an alternate world in order to bring revenue to the city and revitalize it.
  • Skies Unbroken Gloria has the Governess, Ordelia Avarro.

     Western Animation  

  • In Justice League episode "Flash and Substance": Flash is so loved in Central City, they build a museum to honor the costumed speedster. During the episode, he gushes about how much he loves the city, and he even shows he knows everyone's name within it. When Batman and Orion actually are impressed with your dedication, it means something.


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