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Monster Lord

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Even sexy vampires realize the value of keeping uglier friends nearby.

"They say the Zombie Master controlled these foul creatures even before his own death, but now that he is one of them, nothing can make them betray him."
Magic: The Gathering card "Zombie Master" flavor text

Some monster or non-human species have aristocracies with Blue Bloods that just so happen to actually have blue blood. And rarely, lowborn monsters (frequently former humans) can aspire to earn such titles with "heroic" deeds, political savvy, or by dint of Asskicking Leads to Leadership. Beyond that though, some Monster Lords are physiologically different from rank and file Mooks. Maybe the species as a whole has a Fantastic Caste System, and over time the leaders have become a different "race" that is more powerful by nature. Other monster races may have a life cycle where old or "mature" mooks become lords if they grow really powerful, use a magic ritual, or they have a really strong willpower. Likely to be the Big Bad, or at least a major villain, though this may not necessarily be the case.

Frequently, the Monster Lord will be The Man Behind the Monsters. Even though not human, they will look human-like because the process of climbing the Evolutionary Levels ladder raised them higher up on the Bishōnen Line. Likewise, while their lesser kin may only be about as smart as an animal, the Monster Lord will typically have human-level or higher intelligence and be capable of speaking and understanding human speech (though not human morals). Of course, in some works the Monster Lord looks more monstrous than their brethren. And even in settings where the Bishōnen Line is in effect, if there's a rung above Monster Lord, it'll probably be a One-Winged Angel and make them monstrous again. Both types are likely to repel what lesser monsters are weak to.

Their children/infectees will likely be stronger than other mooks, have an easier time becoming a Monster Lord, or naturally be born one. They will usually become a Hive Queen or have great Psychic Powers over the lesser monsters, especially ones they create. And of course, they will be physically stronger, tougher, and faster. Sometimes, they'll even prey upon their lesser kin. Monster Lords also tend to be the oldest members of their species, thus the strongest.

One downside though is that Monster Lords tend to be epic spell components or chow in the Food Chain of Evil. So wizards, other monsters, or even their own underlings will try to eat them to gain more power.

In video games, their "sprite" will likely be wholly unique, not a Palette Swap. The net effect is that the Monster Lord is a King Mook with a few extra bells and whistles.

Supertrope of Insect Queen, Vampire Monarch, and Demon Lords and Archdevils. See The Beastmaster, a more watered-down version of this. See also the Monster Progenitor, who is usually the top Monster Lord of its kind. Compare and contrast with Maou the Demon King.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Guyver has this in the Zoalords, Hyper-Zoanoids, and bog standard Zoanoids.
  • The Youkai in Inuyasha fit this; specifically Inuyasha's father was a Lord of all the Inu-Youkai and had non-Inu Youkai vassals.
  • The Abyssal Ones in Claymore, the strongest among the Awakened Beings and Yoma. In particular, Isley of the North, who rallies an army of lesser Awakened Beings to assault Pieta.
  • The royal family of monsters in Princess Resurrection fit this trope to a 'T'.
  • Played with in Slayers: while all Mazoku are formed from concentrated negative human emotion, the five Mazoku Lords are distinct in that they were literally created from the Dark Lord's (who represents the sum entirety of said negative emotion) own substance.
  • Demon King Chestra Violinist of Hameln is the only Mazoku to possess infinite magical power, and thus immortality. All the other Mazoku depend on the flow of magic from him, and without him they will eventually crumble to dust and die.
  • There's a Shinigami King in Death Note. Not much is known about him other that than he created the Death Notes and has power that far surpasses all other Shinigami, such that they are absolutely unwilling to disobey one of his rules (the punishment for doing so is generally instantaneous death, without the King needing to actually be physically present).
  • Fleonell in The Dark Queen and I Strike Back is the leader of the inhumans and the Dark Queen mentioned in the title. She can use powerful techniques known as Arcana, and is a cunning strategist on top of that. Her sealing resulted in the inhumans losing to the humans in a war ten years ago, and her unsealing is what allows them to strike back at the humans in the present.
  • The insectoid humanoids of the planet Beeland in Star Blazers are ruled by a queen who is somewhat more human-looking than her subjects.
  • In Hunter × Hunter, this is done almost literally as the Chimera Ants develop a feudal society. The Chimera Ant King and his Royal Guard are shown as much more humanoid, and much more powerful than the lesser ants who serve them.

    Comic Books 
  • Deadpool (2019) featured the King of the Monsters. Since the monsters are all random rather than being a particular race, it's usually whichever is the mightiest monster. Since Deadpool assasinated the King of the Monsters, well You Kill It, You Bought It, making Wade the new king.
  • In Marvel Comics, vampires existed since Atlantis was above the sea so Dracula wasn't the first vampire. However by having greater power than normal, force of will and his own aristocratic lineage - he's the King of the Vampires though he's occasionally deposed temporarily.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animation 
  • Dragons in How to Train Your Dragon tend to follow Alphas who acquire their positions via Asskicking Leads to Leadership. For example, in the first movie, the dragons only attack the village to collect food for the Red Death, a far larger dragon who controls the whole nest. Similarly, in the sequel, Bewilderbeasts are massive ice-breathing dragons who can command smaller dragons and rule nests as the Alpha. The first one to appear is a good guy who protects his nest from dragon-trappers and gathers food for them. Unfortunately Drago Bludvist turns out to have a Bewilderbeast of his own, which under his command kills the good Bewilderbeast and takes control of all the adult dragons. Fortunately Hiccup manages to help Toothless resist and defy him, causing all the dragons to recognize Toothless as their Alpha.
  • In The Nightmare Before Christmas, the Horrifying Hero Jack Skellington is described as the "Pumpkin King" of Halloween Town. The community also has a monstrous mayor.
    • Though the Mayor is only an elected official, he can't make decisions by himself.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Labyrinth gives us the unforgettable Jareth the Goblin King. Unlike his subjects, who consist of Ugly Cute Muppets, Jareth is portrayed by David Bowie in a pair of Painted-On Pants that leave very little to the imagination. Dance, magic, dance!
  • Alien Queens in the Alien franchise probably count.
  • As does the Borg Queen in Star Trek: First Contact.
  • Have you met our good friend Godzilla? He's the King of All Monsters! The trope gets played to the hilt in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), where he's directly in competition with Ghidorah for the role of "Alpha Titan" and it should not come as a surprise that he wins.
  • In The Phantom Menace, the Gungan leader Boss Nass (portrayed by BRIAN BLESSED!!!!!!) looks a lot different from the other Gungans. The Legends continuity explains that he's a member of the Ankura race of Gungans, which constitutes a minority but nonetheless maintains a strong presence among the Gungan leadership.
  • In Return to Oz, the Nome King starts out looking similar to other Nomes — that is, a creepy moving face on a rock surface. But true to form, as the heroes fail to pass his test one by one, he grows in power — and becomes gradually more humanoid in the process. However, his One-Winged Angel form in the climax is a mass of rock that looks even more monstrous than before.
  • In The Great Wall, the Tao Tie are hideous lizard-like beasts with skull-like faces and eyes located on their shoulders. The Tao Tie Queen, however, has a more elegant and graceful appearance, with eyes located on her face as normal, and a slender feline-esque build.
  • Bit: Vlad, a.k.a. "The Master". He was a very old, powerful vampire with mind control powers which he'd used for making young women into vampires (and also his sex slaves). It's later revealed Duke was this too, since eating parts of his heart gave her the same power, though she subtly influenced her group's minds (so much that no one knew, including her) rather than openly controlling them.
  • Zeus in Army of the Dead is an intelligent, super-strong zombie born from a government experiment at Area 51. His bites create "alphas", zombies that lack his strength, speed, and smarts but retain more of those attributes than the normal shamblers created by their bites. Once the Vegas Strip is walled off, Zeus becomes the king of the alpha zombies, and a figure who the Caper Crew must negotiate with in order to carry out their heist.

  • The Dark Tower series by Stephen King has a couple of examples. The Low Men are weak-minded ratlike creatures; they rank lower than the Taheen, which are more or less humans with animal heads; and the whole bunch turns out to be led by ancient vampires. Among the vampires themselves, there are a couple of weak echelons made up of people converted to vampirism by the ancients, who are again the Monster Lords.
  • Aragog, the humongous leader (and father) of the Acromantulas in Harry Potter, and the only one of his kind shown to speak English on-screen (although it's possible the others do as well).
  • Myrdraal in The Wheel of Time are Monster Lords to the Trollocs.
  • Dracula is a count, and the other vampires mentioned in the book clearly view him as superior... but this may be less to do with his title and more to do with the fact he's implied to be their husband and/or father and also happens to be a badass.
  • The villains of Mercedes Lackey's Obsidian Trilogy are the Endarkened, who draw inspiration from classical depictions of demons and devils, with such features at bat wings and red skin. The servants of their world are Lesser Endarkened, who are uglier and lack wings, but have fur and cloven feet.
  • Just about every non-human faction in The Dresden Files has these. Notable examples are all of the various gods and their followers, the Sidhe (with their three-queen hierarchy), and the Goblins with their Erlking. The Red Court of Vampires has a king. Lord Raith for the White Court vampires.
  • Roald Dahl's The Witches gives us the unspeakably nightmarish Grand High Witch, memorably portrayed by Anjelica Huston in the 1990 film adaptation and by Anne Hathaway in the 2020 version.
  • The goblins in The Hobbit have a Great Goblin. Likewise, the Nazgûl in The Lord of the Rings have a Witch-King.
  • In The Iron Teeth, a particularly strong, smart and well-fed goblin can metamorphose into a hobgoblin: bigger, smarter, more territorial and bearing horns, and often found commanding goblin tribes. There's a substantial bounty on hobgoblins due to how much more dangerous they can make a goblin tribe.
  • Pegasus (2010): Rocs have a strange ability to command lesser monsters such as taralians and wyverns. Not only does their presence cause these monsters to tolerate each other instead of fighting over territory, but they are themselves smart enough to create strategic plans, and are able to make the lesser beasts follow those plans.
  • In Shadow of the Conqueror, Greater and Lord Shade are significantly more powerful and intelligent versions of the mindless lesser Shade, with one of their unique abilities being able to use lesser Shade as vocal puppets through their Hive Mind.
  • In The Riftwar Cycle, there're many "levels" of the Dread, Eldritch Abominations antithetical to life itself: there are Dreadlings, Dread, Dreadmasters, and Dreadlords. Once, through the rifts into the realm of the Dread, a glimpse of a huge Dread with a fiery crown was seen, theorized to be the Dreadking. However, ultimately it turned out to be a subversion. It appears that all the Dread are a single mind with many bodies.
  • In The Traitor Son Cycle, the boglins are small insectoid creatures of the Wild. They're weaker than a normal man and their carapace is quite fragile, so a hearty punch can often kill a boglin. Boglins are only dangerous in a Zerg Rush, but there is an extremely rare Priest caste that's referred to by humans as "wights". These wights are white boglins that are taller than a normal human and stronger too. Their shells are strong enough to deflect arrows from long range and they're very skilled at Dual Wielding human weapons (normal boglins have to use crude reduce-sized imitations). Finally a number of these wights can use magic.
  • In War With No Name, the millenniums old and Kaiju-sized Hymenoptera Unus is the current ruler of the Colony (a unique mutant colony of intelligent ants). The current Queen of the Colony has the powers of holding and transferring Genetic Memory and can create new strains of ants by Super Breeding Program. Hymenoptera's first breeding act as queen was to give birth to the "medical engineer" ant sub-species. These ants are the reason Hymenoptera is able to live so long. She also birthed the Interpreter ants who have the ability to read human books, she created a new line of soldiers called the Alpha that can shred tanks and her spawn developed the hormone to uplift the other animals - leading to humanity being pushed to near-extinction. That said, she's still an Ant Queen - which means she's almost completely helpless by herself.

    Live Action TV 
  • Angel, meanwhile, had the Archduke Sebassis, lord of a legion of demons.
  • The Old Ones in Being Human (UK), centuries-old vampires who live in isolated castles in Central Europe. They largely don’t care about the outside world and leave the rest of the vampires to their own devices, but when they do venture out, everyone bows and scrapes. They’re immune to typical weaknesses like holy symbols and not being able to enter homes uninvited, and are extremely old, wealthy and politically powerful in a world where the majority of vampires don’t live to see triple digits and barely scrape by. The undisputed supreme ruler of all vampires, Mr Snow, is rumoured to be the first ever vampire who sold his soul to the devil for immortality, and all vampires are genetically programmed to obey him. This is later debunked when it's revealed that the devil created vampires when two asian brothers made a deal with him for immortality; he also created werewolves, and ghosts.]
  • Vampires in Buffy the Vampire Slayer can become "Lords" if they live long enough... usually, this results in their Game Face getting stuck on.
  • The officer caste Martian Ice Warriors in Doctor Who are very different in appearance from the usual ones (slimmer and much less heavily-armoured), although contrary to fanon the name "Ice Lord" is never used on-screen. Daleks and Cybermen also have hierarchies, respectively led by a Dalek Emperor and a Cyber-Controller.
  • In Farscape, the Scarran ruling class looks far more humanoid than the "horse-faced" variety the series introduced first.
  • Game of Thrones introduces the Night's King as this to the White Walkers.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • The Arch Orphnoch in Kamen Rider 555 is heralded as the savior of the Orphnoch race, as it is the only one who has the power to correct the Orphnochs' genetic instability.
    • The Chief Phantoms in Kamen Rider Wizard, who are responsible for creating new Phantoms.
    • The Overlord Inves in Kamen Rider Gaim. Unlike regular Inves, they were able to ingest the fruit of Helheim Forest while retaining their sapience, transforming them into powerful demigods with the ability to manipulate Helheim's flora and command feral Inves.
    • The Roidmude Executives in Kamen Rider Drive represent the closest Roidmudes have to actual organization, and most other Roidmudes tend to follow their lead, lest they be punished for insubordination.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Adar is the commandant of the Orcs, but he kept many of his noble Elvish features intact.
  • Several BigBads from the Super Sentai series fit this trope.
    • Daimaou from Ninja Sentai Kakuranger is the lord of all Yōkai. His appearance is loosely based on the Nurarihyon (see the Mythology and Religion folder). An actual Nurarihyon briefly appears in the first episode being sealed away by the Kakuranger's predecessors but never appears again.
    • Emperor of Darkness Z from Ressha Sentai ToQger inexplicably looks completely human in his base form and when powered up changes into a silvery angel.
    • Boccowaus from Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger is unique among the kikainoids because he isn't humanoid at all and takes the form of a face and an arm sticking out of a large wall which moves around on tracks in his base, although it later turns out that this isn't his true form at all and the real Boccawaus is actually much smaller than a normal kikainoid.
  • The Alphas in Teen Wolf all the way. While Betas are limited to Wolf Man, Alphas can fully shape-shift into huge, half-wolf forms. They're also stronger, heal better, and are the only type which can create more werewolves.
  • Tidelands (Netflix): Adrielle is the tyrannical queen of the Tidelanders, siren-human hybrids.
  • Ultra Series: Many antagonists have the capacity to manipulate kaiju to do their bidding:
    • Ultraman had a "Chief of the Monsters" named Geronimon in one of its final episodes. He looked kinda silly (by "chief", we mean he had a beard and a Native American headdress), but he possessed the power to resurrect kaiju and planned on bringing back 60 monsters to wage war on Ultraman and humanity.
    • Ultraman Leo: Commander Black can control special kaiju known as Saucer Beasts and command them to do his bidding such as attacking cities, all with the help of a special orb. He deploys his forces from a special planetoid spaceship.
    • Alien Empera, first introduced in Ultraman Taro and later appearing in Ultraman Mebius, definitely has a claim to this. When you're leader of an army of the most powerful kaiju in the galaxy, with even Eldritch Abominations serving you, you've rightfully earned the title.
    • A more serious and deadlier example than Geronimon was Alien Reiblood, an ancient demoniac alien whose genes allowed him to fully control and command legions of monsters and aliens, while long dead, his genes allow all sorts of aliens and humans to control monsters themselves through special devices.
    • Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends had Ultraman Belial revive a whole bunch of kaiju to form a "100 Monster Army" to defeat the Ultras.
    • The Dark Giants from Ultraman Trigger: New Generation Tiga are capable of creating and commanding kaiju for various purposes such as attacking enemies or protecting themselves from attacks.
  • Van Helsing (2016) has the Elders, vampires blessed with special abilities by the power of the Dark One himself. The first Elder introduced Looks Like Orlok, has psychic abilities, and can shapeshift. The second, known as the B'ah, looks like a withered corpse of a woman and is a master of Poisoned Weapons. The third, Jacob Van Helsing, looks like a normal human but like the first can also shapeshift. And the fourth, Sam, upon his ascension becomes a Horned Humanoid, though even before then is shown to be capable of surviving things even a vampire shouldn't be able to.

    Mythology And Religion 
  • The demon Mara in Buddhism (think Buddhist version of The Devil, more or less) is described as "the King of all Demons".
  • In Japanese folklore, Nurarihyon is considered to be the ruler of all youkai and is known as the "Supreme Commander of All Monsters".

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has had this with Lizard Kings (lizard men), Lamia Nobles, Noble genies, "Greater" monsters (basilisk, daemons/demons/devils, lammasu, shedu), demon princes and archdevils. A couple of adventures have had zombie lords as well.
  • Vampire: The Requiem: Kindred grow stronger with age and experience, represented by the power stat Blood Potency. Truly powerful vampires (Blood Potency 6) can only feed on humans note  and can create bloodlines which they can bestow on all their progeny and even supplicant vampires. Basically, a bloodline is a second "clan" that gives all vampires in the bloodline a fourth in clan discipline, which is often unique and very powerful compared to the core ten. Of course, they also develop a second curse.
    • The Ventrue also style themselves as this in both Requiem and Masquerade (its predecessor) to the point where their nickname in Masquerade is "Blue Bloods," though they have the same weaknesses as most other vampires; on the other hand, their Blue Blood nickname probably stems from their tradition of Embracing nobility and they do wield the majority of temporal influence. There's even a Ventrue bloodline in Requiem, the Deucaliones, who are formed around the idea that the Ventrue are the supreme clan and all others are innately flawed (which they are, but of course so are the Ventrue).
    • In Requiem, vampires can become this literally by creating Ghouled animals and plants, or by creating Larvae as minions — Larvae are "incompletely embraced" juvenile vampires, which thusly function more like blood-drinking, sun-averse zombies. This path is easier for Draugr than regular vampires, though.
  • Exalted:
    • The Raksha Nobles, the more powerful type of Fae, are as different from (non-heroic) Commoner fae as a protagonist is from a mookliterally, since the fairies treat stories and narrative tropes as their food, drink and laws of physics.
    • The Descending Hierarchy of Malfeas is also like this; by order of the Yozi Cecylene, the lawmaker of Hell, the greatest demons (generally those of the Third Circle, the souls of the Yozis) are designated Unquestionable, Second Circle Demons (the souls of the Third Circles) and the most exceptional First Circles are citizens, with numerous privileges and protections, and all others are merely serfs, beholden to whatever commands those of higher rank would impose on them. The Yozis technically preside over the entire hierarchy, but are functionally distant, and even the Unquestionable are more preoccupied with their own alien agendas, so most actual politicking and conquest is done by the citizens without reservation.
  • Magic: The Gathering has this in the Zendikar Block. Only the most powerful vampires can convert people into true vampires by draining their blood, but lesser vampires can create zombies (called nulls) by draining the blood completely from a target. This power doesn't come up much in the game, but it is there in the fluff. The picture for this page features a vampire and some follower nulls.
    • Magic has these all over the races, and they used to even have the creature type "Lord." The type has been lost, but the effect remains: they power up other creatures of the same type, and some even make more of them, or make them easier to cast. Because the old versions of these cards bore the "Lord" type before the Grand Creature Update (which instead made them the same class of creatures and made it so that their abilities didn't affect themselves, but could affect other copies), now any card that boosts creatures of the same type are called "Lords". Goblins, Soldiers, and Elves are popular choices for lords because of their consistent focus on a group mentality, but there have been lords for Vampires, Merfolk, Zombies, Treefolk, Saprolings, Elementals, Warriors, Faeries, and Beasts. There's also Adaptive Automaton, who in exchange for having no abilities other than buffing others, has the ability to buff any type of creature of your choosing.
    • The Innistrad block has recently given rise to several of these, as it is largely based on Gothic Horror. Vampires have Olivia Voldaren, capable of turning other Creatures into Vampires, getting stronger because of it and then taking control of them, as well as the Bloodline Keeper/Lord of Lineage card which creates Vampires and then transforms when you have enough, making them stronger as well.
    • The Lorywn-Shadowmoor block brought a megacycle of "Lieges", Ten creatures with 2 colors each that buffed other creatures that shared the same colors with it (the more colors they shared, the more they buffed). The set of allied color Lieges had minimal effects beyond this, usually some generic effect such as "trample" or "Flying", while the enemy colored lieges had effects ranging from being a nuisance (summoning worms each turn) to devastating (such as destroying any creature you want when you cast a dual colored spell of the same color). They were effectively lords for creatures of their colors.
    • Liege of the Tangle is implied to be the collective will of Mirrodin's forests, or at least one of the rulers of the "trees" there. It's effect is that it can "awaken" your lands into powerful elementals, specifically 8/8 elementals. Being an 8/8 elemental itself, this implies that it was the lord of the "tree spirits" and it was unique in that it could awaken others.
  • Rune Giants in Pathfinder were magically bioengineered by a vanished civilization to be Monster Lords for giantkind as a whole. They are enormous (around forty feet tall, which is about twice as tall as the next-largest giant races), and have some magical mind-control abilities that are particularly effective against giants. Other giants don't like them much, but don't get a choice in the matter. Notably, Rune Giants were themselves meant to be controlled, and simply serve as intermediaries through which the rest of giantkind can be enslaved.
  • Princess: The Hopeful:
    • Cataphractoi are called "The Generals Of The Darkness" for a reason. They always have access to the Subsumed By Another Shadow Umbra (which allows them to enthrall any Darkspawn in their range), have access to both Umbrae and Calignes, and can assume a very powerful "false transformation" form in emergencies. Worse, they retain the knowledge of the humans in whose image they were made, and possess both intelligence and some level of self-control, allowing them to use complex tactics and long-term planning.
    • And the Dethroned trump even the Cataphractoi. Any creature of the Darkness who gets to near a Dethroned will be subsumed by the Dethroned's own self-hatred, physically and mentally reshaped to echo a character in the Dethroned's fall from the Light. The subsumed darklings will be loyal to their mistress (though few Dethroned can be stirred from their lamentation long enough to give orders), and will be at least tolerant of other subsumed darklings. This can get particularly nasty if the Dethroned has the Queen of Misery Hex, which lets Mnemosynes and Cataphractoi it subsumes retain their human intelligence and capacity for long-term planning.
  • In Promethean: The Created, most Pandorans are effectively mindless - even the ones with some degree of intelligence are more "animal cunning" than "thinking creature". Sublimati, however, have broken through that into true sentience. They often gather a number of lesser Pandorans around them as a hunting pack (typically with the Transmutation "Mantle of Lordship" - learnable only by Sublimati or Centimanus Prometheans), with which they track down and entrap Prometheans to feed on. Some Sublimati have other thoughts than just hunting, as well; one, the Lady of Chains, went so far as to start a cult among human beings. It has its own website.
  • Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 both have several of these. Some of the more notable ones:
    • The Daemonic Heralds are more or less the rank-and-file daemons you can normally choose to fill out your armies, but have special perks to them (called Locus/Loci as of the latest edition) as well as heightened attributes (differs depending on the kind of daemon, as Khornate Daemons just have better statistics while Tzeentchan Heralds are more powerful wizards). The fluff itself implies that all daemons of the same alignment are the same, it's just that the higher ranked ones are just way more powerful versions of its underlings. The Chaos Gods themselves are implied to be the most powerful Daemons of their alignments (although this is by a wide margin, as even Khorne's greatest champion is but a mere insect compared to him), and it's outright stated that there are many, many lesser gods that are just not as influential as the big 4.
    • The mortal worshipers of Chaos in both settings results in this as well. As a champion rises through the ranks, he gains the attention of the Chaos Gods and are granted their boons in the form of mutations or daemonic artifacts. The end result is the mortal becoming a full daemon; either they master their new abilities and ascend to the status of Daemon Prince (on par with most Greater Daemons in terms of power) or they succomb to the insanity brought on by the daemonic influence and become Chaos Spawns (gibbering masses of flesh that have no right existing, let alone moving under their own power).
    • Skaven who are born with black fur are taken away to be trained into Stormvermin, their elite fighting regiment. Their black fur is an indication that they are capable of growing larger and stronger than the common skaven, and thus can surpass the usual meek strength of the normal ratmennote . Likewise, Skaven born with grey or white fur are marked by their patron god, the Horned Rat, as being future Grey Seers. Grey Seers are powerful wizards of the Skaven and are held with both awe and suspicion; awe because they can invoke the wrath of the Horned Rat to kill their enemies, suspicion because you never know when you'll be deemed "an enemy".
    • Throgg the Troll King is one of the most powerful (and intelligent) of all trolls. He's one of the few characters with a rule that changes a unit's type: if Throgg is the general of your army, your army counts trolls not as Special units (only between 0 to 4 in the army), but as Core (as many as you want and can afford).
    • Genestealer Patriarchs from 40K are ancient purestrain Genestealers who managed to start up their own cults. Their maturity has granted them psychic powers over the other members of the cult, even other purestrains. However, because they're so old (and because their servants dote upon them), they've grown obese, making them less suited to the physical combat prowess of their younger broodmates. They compensate by being some of the most powerful psykers within the Tyranid vanguard force. A similar creature, the Broodlord, is instead a heavily modified Genestealer that retains its combat prowess and psychic powers, in exchange for no longer being able to control more than its immediate brood (which is usually only around 30 genestealers rather than a whole planetary force).
    • Tyranids as a whole are built upon this, with Synapse Creatures specifically being bred to command their lesser rabble directly. Since each creature is simply a genetic modification of another, it's not surprising to see something as huge as the Hierophant share common organs and biomorphs as, say, a lowly ripper.
    • Necrons are a sinister case of this; to be able to turn their entire species into metal cyborgs, they had to speed up the process through mass production. This meant that the chassis the common citizenry got was of a far less quality than their ruling class, which meant that the eons of hibernation and nature did a number on their systems. Even some of their lords weren't immune to this and a good number of them woke up insane, confused, or stupid. Much of the common "warriors" are little more than automatons, only capable of following the commands of their lords (who in turn follow the commands of their respective Overlords). The fact that their own repair system is imperfect too means that with every battle their soldiers loose a little more of their soul, not that they know or care anymore.
    • Orks (and orcs). Orks biologically follow Large and in Charge, as the more an ork fights and the more boyz are under him, the bigger he gets, and therefore the more fights he can win and the more boyz will follow him (due to beating the leaders of rival clans). The most successful bosses call themselves warbosses, and really big armies are led by warlords.


    Video Games 
  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: Dracula became the leader of both vampires and werewolves after the Lord of the Werewolves were slain by him when he was human, as well as a variety of other supernatural creatures that populate his castle in Mirror of Fate and the second game.
  • Disgaea has this, even if you don't count the basically human Overlords. Examples include the higher tiers of most of the monster classes (Zombie King, Orc Master/King, Lord Cat God) as well as the Nether Nobles and some bosses.
  • Starcraft has a justified variant of this with Kerrigan. She's more human than the rest of the Zerg because she is an Human-Zerg hybrid. With Kerrigan's deinfestation in Starcraft II part 1, it looks like this trope will be played straighter than ever come Heart of the Swarm, as the mostly-human Kerrigan will still be commanding some, if not all, Zerg. This is taken even further by the conclusion of Heart of the Swarm, when she becomes the Primal Queen of Blades, leader of all Zerg not controlled by Amon.
  • Doom II: Hell on Earth has the Arch Vile, which is not only the most powerful non-boss monster, but also one of the most human in its appearance. It has the power to bring dead monsters back to life.
  • Kingdom Hearts II has Organization XIII for the Nobodies.
  • Popularized by the Trope Codifier Dragon Quest, medieval j-RPGs often have their Big Bad played by a "Maoh," a loose term often translated as "Demon King". It has become the series tradition for a Big Bad since the third installment in 1988. Whatever species they actually are, they tend to rule over the local monsters and command some kind of dark magic. Unless it's just a negative title.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Daedra throughout the series play the trope straight. There is a clear heirarchy with unintelligent beasts at the bottom, various human-animal hybrids like Daedroth, Spider Daedra, and Winged Twilights in the middle, and the intelligent, humanoid Dremora/Daedra Lords at the top.
    • Morrowind has Dremora Lords as a high-level enemy. They have almost twice as much health as a regular Dremora, do a bit more damage, have a stronger magical barrier, and almost always come with a Deadric or Ebony weapon (compared to regular Dremoras, who are more likely to have Dwemer or Dreugh weapons.) And from a distance, they look exactly the same.
    • In the Dawnguard add-on to Skyrim, the Vampire Lords have all the powers and weaknesses of a lesser vampire, but can access a very powerful One-Winged Angel form that no other vampire can access. They gained these powers because they have a stronger connection to Molag Bal, the god that created vampires.
  • In Monster Girl Quest this trope is used by its very name. Technically it's the title awarded to the most powerful monster in the world, though in practice, every Monster Lord has been part of the bloodline of Alipheese Fateburn, the original creator of monsters and considered the opposite of Ilias. The current (16th) Monster Lord and Big Bad of the game happens to be Luka's traveling companion and Love Interest Alice, while the 8th Monster Lord Black Alice is a minion of the true mastermind behind everything, Ilias.
  • Tewi Inaba from the Touhou Project series is a Rabbit Lord (or Lady, as the case may be), having evolved into a near-human form by dint of simply living long enough. (Chen and Ran from the same series don't exactly qualify, as they were created that way.)
    • In general, Eastern mythology (from which the series borrows heavily) often holds that an animal which lives long enough becomes a supernatural being or youkai, gaining powers and the ability to take on a humanoid form. Of course, modern works tend to use this mainly as an excuse to make their characters a Little Bit Beastly.
  • The Darkstalkers from the eponymous series have their own social hierarchy and aristocracy in Makai. The weakest members in the S and A Class noble families in Makai (from which Morrigan and Demitri hail from) are borderline Physical Gods, while C Class comprises livestock, slaves and humans, and D Class are monstrous/inhuman beasts.
  • Runescape:
    • The vampire-like creatures called "vampyres" have this. The order of ascending power goes like: juvenile, juvinate, vyrewatch, vyrelord(lady), and lastly the Drakan siblings who reign over all vampyres. Notably the lowest-tier partially resemble feral Nosferatu expies and the higher-tier vampyres have a more 'refined' form. Lord Drakan himself is bigger and looks different than normal vampyres, although according to Word of God this is due to exposure to the Stone of Jas. Vanescula Drakan and Ranis Drakan look like typical vyrelords but are colored blood red unlike any other vampyre. Draynor Drakan is never seen in his true form so it isn't known if he has a unique form.
    • The sea trolls are strangely lead by a sea troll queen that looks nothing like a troll. Other kinds of trolls are lead by larger than normal trolls.
    • The kalphites, a species of giant bugs, are lead by a kalphite queen, who not only is far larger than other kalphites, but also has the ability to shed her skin to turn into a flying form that looks very different. There is also a hive of exiled kalphites that are lead by both a queen and a king that looks very different than other kalphites.
    • The progenitors of the dragon race are the king black dragon and the queen black dragon. The king is larger than a black dragon and has three heads, while the queen is a Kaiju sized monstrosity that barely resembles a dragon.
    • The leader of Armadyl's army of aviansies, a race of Bird People, in the Temple of Lost Ancients is an aviansie named Kree'arra who is gigantic compared to the rest of the army. The god Armadyl himself is an even larger aviansie with six wings.
    • Araxxor and Araxxi are an absolutely massive male and female pair of Giant Spiders who rule over a hive of spiders called araxytes.
  • Undertale has the imaginatively-named Boss Monsters, as well as the only known member of their kind: Asgore Dreemurr, King of All Monsters and Giver of Lame Names. Only known member, that is, until the player figures out Toriel's identity.
  • Bowser, King of the Koopas, from Super Mario Bros., leads the Koopa Troop, an army consisting of turtles, mushrooms, ghosts and many other creatures.
  • Nightmare in Soul Series is the lord and master of the Malfested, those afflicted with the Soul Edge's evil energy, since he is the wielder and avatar of the cursed sword who unleashed its evil upon the world.
  • Neifirst of Phantasy Star II is the humanoid prototype and controller of the Biomonsters. She and her sister Nei appear like humans with pointy ears or Cat Girl ears, depending on the artwork, while most Biomonsters are evolved simple lifeforms with a few animals in the mix.
  • The Shadowlord from NieR is a step above other Shades. He is much more powerful and looks more human. And according to the supplemental material he also doubles as Monster Progenitor. His presence is also the only thing keeping the Shades from going insane and dying.
  • One of the new bosses introduced in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is the Boss Bokoblin, a huge, hulking version of the regular Bokoblin invariably seen either leading a troop of them around like ducklings or at the center of a large Bokoblin fort. In combat, besides being big monsters with equally big weapons, they can issue orders to their minions and make them perform coordinated attacks.

  • Pet Foolery: The queen in "Reward" seems to be a goblin and/or catlike humanoid whose subjects come from various sapient monster races — we see an orc and a more freakish Monstrous Humanoid seeking an audience with her. Though her Number Two, Sir Tom, is a regular human.
  • Poharex has the Horned Snakes, which make up the commanders and officers in Darrakith's army, while the Silver Snakes, a different species, are the low-rank infantry.
  • In Nast the Enchanter, the King Slime conscripts the protagonist and his girlfriend into fighting some goblins. King Slimes are sapient, able to take on humanoid appearances, communicate intelligably, and command their otherwise mindless fellows.

    Web Original 
  • Monster Girl Encyclopedia:
    • Throughout history, the monsters have intermittently been ruled by a Demon Lord who organizes them to attack humanity and lower its numbers. Previous Demon Lords were those monsters who were able to beat all other contenders in their era, but the current Demon Lord is a succubus who somehow gained the position and has used it to alter all monsters in body and mind. This is why present-day monsters are Cute Monster Girls who now want to interact with humanity via sex.
    • The current Demon Lord's daughters, the Lilims, also fit this trope as they are succubi of incredible power. One Lilim was able to command many other monsters and take over a human city, while another rules over the realm of Wonderland.
    • And below the Lilims are powerful monsters who rule over other monsters of their type, an example being High Orcs. These aren't just orcs with darker skin and a mean axe: High Orcs are immensely strong and can bowl over even heavily armored knights and have the wits to command war parties. Their very presence emboldens the often cowardly orcs into rampaging marauders and their body odor drives them into a sexual frenzy. However, if a man actually beats a High Orc, the orcs immediately collapse onto the floor and beg for mercy. The High Orc herself also has a 180 in personality, going from a belligerent warlord to soft, loving, and devoted wife to the man.

    Western Animation 
  • Chaotic: the ant-like Danians have the battle masters that command the common foot soldiers (often in the Bad Boss kind of way) and then the queen that rules over all of them.
  • The Real Ghostbusters: Samhain is the King of Halloween, Lord of Ghosts and Goblins.

    Real Life 
  • In a pride of lions, the alpha male has the largest and darkest mane, while one or two younger subordinate males may also be present.
  • Gorillas usually live in troops led by a single mature patriarch. True to form, this patriarch is visually distinct from the other members of the troop by the silver fur on his back (which is why he's called a "silverback"). Most of the other troop members are the silverback's mates and children, but he may have several subordinate "blackbacks" — adolescent male hangers-on who aren't quite old enough to have the distinctive silver fur.
  • Wolf packs were previously thought to follow strict social hierarchies led by an "alpha" male and female who rose to their positions via Asskicking Leads to Leadership. Subsequent research has revealed that this mainly happens in zoos. In the wild, as with the gorillas mentioned above, "alphas" are just the parents while subordinate "betas" and "omegas" are their offspring (though siblings within a pack will jockey for status among themselves, so Asskicking Leads to Leadership does indeed apply). Unlike gorillas, though, wolf parents don't display any distinctive physical features to separate them from the rest of the pack (like an adult male gorilla's patch of silver fur). Moreover, wolves are typically monogamous, so both parents share equal alpha status — unlike in gorilla troops, where the presence of multiple females prevents any of them from becoming a singular alpha female in the way that a silverback is the alpha male.
  • Hyena clans have a structure somewhere between that of lions and wolves, except they are lead by the females, who are bigger than males. The hyena queen, who is the most dominant even if not the biggest, is at the very top, followed by her closest female relatives, and males who recently joined the clan from another are at the very bottom, below even cubs. A hyena's strength does play a role in determining their position, but not as much as their interpersonal relationships with the other hyenas.
  • You'd think insect queens would be this by definition, but in truth the "queens" of eusocial insects have very little to do with a hive's swarm intelligence , which emerges organically from interactions between countless individual workers. The purpose of the queen is simply to churn out more of those workers.


Video Example(s):


Jack Skellington

Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town and the monsters that live there.

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Main / MonsterLord

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