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The sweet spot between an Emperor and a Galactic Conqueror or Dimension Lord: somebody with control over or a de facto claim to a single planet.

Accomplishing this is a big milestone for any would-be despotic ruler. Be forewarned: owning a whole planet isn't easy, even if you're someone with mind-numbing physical power, superb oratory skills, ungodly amounts of cash and/or access to endless legions of disposable bad guys. Often the purview of strongman dictators, but can also be achieved through more peaceful means by a duly elected leader. Do note the logistical troubles of actually owning an entire ball of dirt (and presumably everything and everyone on it) often go unmentioned for the sake of the plot, hurdles which can be justified (or spiced up) by the addition of mind control for a more amicable populace.

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How powerful a planetary ruler is largely depends on the greater scope of the setting. If they exist in a setting with a Galactic Superpower, they might be rather low on the power ranking, all things considered and could still be pushed around by interplanetary rulers more powerful than themselves. If, on the other hand, it's a universe where Casual Interstellar Travel doesn't exist, a character who rules an entire planet might be one of the most powerful characters in the setting.

An endgame goal for all those who want to Take Over the World, as well as a necessary stepping stone for further pursuits in a larger arena. Is easiest to accomplish with either a Single-Biome Planet, Planetary Nation or Planetville. Compare with One World Order, the ostensibly benevolent collective version, and Company Town, the really, really tiny version.

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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Doctor Doom has successfully conquered Earth twice using Mind Control both times, subjugating all governments and instituting healthcare and income equality for everyone, then gave it up out of boredom and let the former governments take over again. He has also conquered an alternate version of Earth created by Franklin Richards. Such feats technically allows him to lay claim to such a title, and he could easily do it again if he desired.
  • Green Lantern: Thaal Sinestro had his homeworld of Korugar locked up like a safe before he met Hal Jordan, thanks to his Green Lantern abilities giving him both the opportunity and power to do so.
  • Darkseid of the New Gods is the undisputed master of Apokolips, and seeks to extend his control over all of creation. While it is often stated that the forces of Darkseid have conquered a vast insterstellar empire for him, we rarely see any of it outside of his minions invading and subjugating worlds in brief scenes, and Darkseid and his inner circle spend most of their time on Apokolips. The planet is also in another dimension which would technically make him a Dimension Lord, but he has to share the spot with Highfather of New Genesis, and it doesn't seem like this "higher dimension" consists of much more than those two enemy planets anyway.
  • Dr. Eggman strives to be this for Mobius over the course of the original run of Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), opposed by Sonic and his band of rebels.

    Comic Strips 
  • Ming the Merciless of Flash Gordon fame is an early example. Despite his claims to emperorship over the planet Mongo, his regime is still contested by the rightful ruler, Prince Barin, as well as a number of other less powerful royal contenders, such as King Vultan and his Hawkmen, Queen Fria of Frigia, King Kala of the Shark Men, and so on. The situation is so unstable that a single earthman, his girlfriend, and a Mad Scientist entering into the equation results in the rise of an organized resistance against him, eventually leading to his downfall.
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    Fan Works 
  • My Hostage Not Yours: By the midpoint of the third story, The Inevitable Takeover, Zim has finally successfully conquered Earth. Interestingly, he dubs himself Emperor, despite still considering himself subservient to the greater Irken Empire.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars:
    • In The Phantom Menace, the rulers of Naboo are elected monarchy that change office every few years (though that only concerns the surface dwellers, the aquatic Gungans have a chief of their own, Boss Nass).
    • The Organa family, the rulers of the planet Alderaan (seen in Revenge of the Sith, hinted at in A New Hope).
    • In The Empire Strikes Back, Lando Calrissian is the baron administrator of Cloud City on Bespin, and it is the only inhabited colony on the gas giant. He basically controls the tibanna gas extraction on it.
    • The Hutt crime lords practically control entire star systems. Jabba Desilijic Tiure practically controlled Tatooine, to the point his death in Return of the Jedi left a power vacuum not entirely resolved as of The Mandalorian.
    • Also in A New Hope, Tarkin explains to his generals and admirals that, in the absence of an Imperial Senate, regional governors have been given direct control over their systems. This is what led, in the aftermath of the death of the Emperor, to so many planets and planetary systems being controlled by one person in the expanded universe.

    Literature 
  • In Armor, there are mentions of several planets that are ruled as absolute monarchies; it's suggested that they were founded by self-aggrandizing billionaires. The Masao, who rules one such planet, appears about halfway through the book, leading to the revelation that one of the main characters is the former ruler of another planet, who abdicated after a series of events that left him disenchanted with the system and his place in it.
  • In Crest of the Stars the father of protagonist Jinto Lin's surrendered their home planet Martine to the massive fleet of the Humankind Empire Abh without firing a shot. In exchange for their surrender Lin's father is accepted into Abh society as a noble and hereditary ruler of the planet.
  • Dune: The Great Houses of the Landsraad fit this trope—complete with actual barons! The books go into great detail regarding the nuts and bolts of planet ownership; much of the first novel details the simmering conflict between Houses Atreides and Harkonnen (the owners of planets Caladan and Giedi Prime, respectively) over Arrakis and its production of spice.
  • The title character of The Little Prince is this, by virtue of the fact that the only inhabitants of the small planet which he calls home are himself and a rather demanding rose. Deconstructed in that the Prince isn't a despot at all, and his planet is extremely tiny. Later in the book, the Prince travels to various other tiny planets, each with a single inhabitant. A few play this trope straight:
    • The King, who, lacking any subjects, does nothing but make up ridiculous orders about natural processes (such as commanding the sun to set) and then taking the credit when they inevitably happen..
    • The Narcissist, who boasts and brags about how he is, by default, the most amazing and perfect person to exist on his planet.
    • The Businessman, who isn't satisfied with having a planet to himself and so counts the stars to claim that they belong to him too.
  • Mark Watney of The Martian fits this trope both in fact and attitude during his solo tenure on the planet.
  • Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles uses this trope in a minor key for several of its stories when Mars becomes almost totally depopulated of human settlers. Easy to be king of the world when you're the only one there:
    • "The Off Season": A hot dog stand owner and his wife, quite possibly the last people on Mars, tidy up in anticipation of the colonists returning. Then nuclear war starts on Earth.
    • "The Silent Towns": A look at a miner left behind who has free run of its various settlements until a chance telephone call leads him to realize he isn't alone. Unfortunately, he may have been better off that way.
    • "The Long Years": An ex-soldier is forcibly taken back to Earth, leaving his "family" behind to continue their empty routine.
    • "The Million Year Picnic": A family escapes nuclear holocaust on Earth to become the new "martians", and thereby the new owners of Mars. Whether or not the cycle of abuses humanity conducts will continue there is left unstated.
  • The Vicountess Sallivera Darktail in The Red Vixen Adventures becomes the planetary governor of her family's colony Greenholme after claiming it for her house at the end of the second book. Though the population is only the size of a small city at first.
  • Kier Grey of Slan fame is described as this, and proves it by murdering his entire advisory council in the first thirty pages.
  • Space Viking by H. Beam Piper features multiple "planetary kings". Monarchical rulers of a single planet are essentially the norm in that particular time and place of Piper's "future history" (the "Sword-Worlds"); an ambitious aristocrat on the protagonist's homeworld vying to become a planetary ruler is an important side-plot, while the main plot concerns the protagonist of the novel successfully transitioning from being a "space viking" and owner of a single starship to being a sovereign planetary prince in his own right.
  • In Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlein, Valentine Michael Smith ends up owner of Mars thanks to his descent from the Envoy crew and by right of discovery, a contract enacting common property, and the fact he was the sole surviving descendant of the crew. Not that the Martians particularly care about Earth laws but he does use the money to start a religion.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The planet Kitson is ruled by the Kitson family. The first Mister Kitson came to the planet with his slaves a long time ago and named it after himself. He used his slaves to build all sorts of establishments like gambling houses and brothels on the planet, which eventually became a well-known place throughout the galaxy. After his death, his son and later his grandson succeeded him as the rulers of the planet.
  • Doctor Who: Being the creator of the Daleks, the mastermind Davros reigned supreme on their home planet Skaro, gaining absolute power after converting the Kaleds into Daleks and eradicating their rivals, the Thals.
    • A storyline of the First Doctor was about the Daleks conquering the Earth in a future, "The Dalek Invasion of Earth", when Earth was taken by the Daleks in 2150 A.D. and The Doctor and his companions arrived a decade later where the humanity was already slaved by the Daleks. This plot also served for the movie adaptation, Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D..
  • Firefly:
    • The villain of the episode "Heart of Gold" is a wealthy rancher who uses his considerable wealth to control his local planet ("backwater moon") and appoints himself the local law enforcement, executing anyone he finds unsavory. As the leader of the group standing up to him points out, he could use his wealth and position to invest in the colony and improve the lives of everyone there (and make himself richer), but he'd rather keep it small and poor so he can "play cowboy".
    • In the episode "Jaynestown" there is "Higgins' Moon" which is ruled by a ceramics exporter named Higgins who uses slave labor to essentially farm mud that gets used to make ceramics. Since the whole moon is named after him, it is implied that Higgins rules it.
  • In Lexx, with human survivors being sparsely scattered throughout the universe, many planets are little more than villages or Ghost Towns, run by small-time crooks or long-forgotten governors. In the Season 2 episode "Patches in the Sky", the planet Narco-World is owned by a man named Gubby Mok who rents out the use of the highly addictive Narco-Loungers, specialized chairs which allow the user to live out and control their dreams.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Rimmerworld", cowardly hologram Rimmer hops into an escape pod, gets diverted into a wormhole, and spends the next six hundred years (post-Time Dilation) on an barren planet. Because the escape pod was from an advanced terraforming ship, however, he is able to create life — even cloning humanoids based on his own DNA records. When the crew of Starbug finally arrive, they find the planet dominated by Space Romans all with Rimmer's face. The Emperor Rimmer, however, is one of the clones, not their Rimmer, who, effectively immortal, has been kept prisoner for centuries — not even other Rimmers can stand him.
  • Star Trek:
    • In "The Conscience of the King", Kodos the Executioner, while initially a legitimate governor, was temporarily dictator of the world Kirk grew up on after declaring Martial law due to a famine and executing a large chunk of its population to save the others.
    • In "The Squire of Gothos", the titular Squire of Gothos is a Sufficiently Advanced Alien with his own planet, though he only uses a portion of it.
    • In "Space Seed", Khan becomes this after he is defeated but given a planet to colonize and rule, though we learn in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan that the planet later died, prompting Khan to seek revenge on Kirk for marooning him there.
    • In "I, Mudd", Mudd has become ruler of a planet of androids, though by the end of the episode the robots are more his captors than his subjects.
    • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Quark's cousin Gaila owns his own moon. This is one of Quark's desires as well. Every time Gaila is mentioned, his moon inevitably comes up.
    • In the TNG episode "Devil's Due", a con artist was claiming to be a planet's ancient deity and using advanced technology to work apparent miracles to back up her claim to ownership of the entire planet, the crew of the Enterprise wondered if she might actually be Q in disguise. Picard shot that down, saying that if Q wanted a planet, he'd just create one.
  • The villains of Uchu Sentai Kyuranger are all members of the evil space empire Jark Matter, which has a distinct hierarchy. The Daikaan are planetary-level overlords; with the exception of Earth, each planet has only one Daikaan ruling over it.
  • The Ultraseven episode "Nightmare of Planet 4" has the Robot Chief, an android dictator who controls the entire planet after a robot uprising enslaved the planet's human population. He's also in charge of organizing invasions to kidnap humans from neighboring planets after realizing his tyranny had driven Planet 4's indigenous humans to near-extinction, which he gleefully carries out on a regular basis, and at the end of the episode attempts a full-scale invasion on Earth which is later thwarted by Ultraseven.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: Barons are common in the game, as the Successor Lords commonly reward someone who's done a valuable service to their realm by appointing them baron of a planet. If they're lucky, they'll get put in charge of a planet that's got a valuable resource like a battlemech factory. If they're unlucky they'll get named baron of an uninhabited ice ball on the fringes of the Successor State's territory. Other nobles often rule their own planets as well, though in this case it's hereditary while the title of baron does not transfer to the original individual's heirs.
  • In Traveller, Imperial Barons are typically the lowest rank of the Third Imperium's peerage to be tasked with overseeing a planet, though usually a low-population agricultural world.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The planetary governor's job is holding authority over a planet or the entire star system in the name of the Emperor of Mankind. Since the Imperium rules over a million star systems, so long as the governor pay his taxes, keep the mutant and psyker population in check, paying the tithe in form of pskyers, and actually maintaining order, they can do whatever they want with the planet. It's notable that the role of planetary governor is an Administratum role and bureaucrati* c fiction that's applied to whomever the Administratum considers the party responsible for discharging those above mentioned responsibilities, and how exactly one comes to the job is largely irrelevant to them. A planetary governor may be a hereditary role like a monarchy, or it may be an appointed or elected one.
    • The Adeptus Mechanicus are so devoted to finding Standard Template Constructs (computer blueprints for weapons, war gear and vehicles) that a pair of Imperial Guard scouts who found an STC for a slightly better combat knife were given noble status and granted governorship of a planet. Each.
    • Overlord Herman von Strab of Armageddon is a specific villainous example; a micromanager and General Failure bar none, von Strab botched the defense of Armageddon during Ghazghkull Thraka's first invasion of the planet, benching veteran Commissar Yarrick over political differences and sacrificing an entire Titan Legion to the orks because how dare someone else tell him how to defend his planet. Von Strab was deposed for this and other failures, but would return during the Third War for Armageddon on Ghazghkull's side, with the ork intending to use him as a Puppet King to spite the humans opposing him until he got bored and had him killed.
    • Most of the Emperor's known lost Primarchs, by the time he reunited with them, had risen to become the rulers of the planets on which they landed as babies. (And as future history would bear out, impressing the old man never got any easier from that point forwards.)
    • Daemon Princes are usually granted dominion of a Daemon World in the Warp from their Chaos God patron. Magnus the Red is notable for teleporting his planet, Sortiarius, out of the Warp and into orbit of his ruined homeworld of Prospero.

    Video Games 
  • Disgaea has Overlords, whom each have control of their own Netherworld. A common occurrence is other Overlords vying for dominance over other Netherworlds.
    • Overlord Zetta from Makai Kingdom started off with control over eight Netherworlds, but lost them after torching the Sacred Tome in a fit of anger. Much of the game centers around creating new Netherworlds for Zetta to re-gain control over.
    • Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance: Void Dark, the Big Bad, managed to gain control over 2/3 of all known Netherworlds through use of his 10 billion strong army, The Lost. What helped is that, much like Freeza, he is overwhelmingly powerful, and defeating him to bring the Lost to an end is the main story's goal.
  • The Outer Worlds has the Company Town version, as the entire solar system you're in was bought out by a few conglomerates, and this is reflected in the colonies they established.
  • Gehn from the Myst series is this. By extension, his ancestral race, the D'ni, had the power to either write-into-existence, or just create links to already-existing, worlds through books. (Either one is not specified) Because they saw this power as infinite in possibilities, the D'ni often subjugated the inhabitants of these worlds. However, Gehn is even moreso this, because he doesn't just subjugate these populations, but forces them to worship him. (Extreme even by the already-twisted standards of the D'ni.) Even worse, his writing is extremely flawed, which produces links to worlds that fall apart and eventually collapse in on themselves. He tries to sweep the issue aside by claiming that these flaws are his doings, to keep the populace in-line, and quash any rebellion.
  • In Starbound, the player is able to cover entire planets in rooms and then rent them out. Planet Landlord?
  • In Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, the ending is determined by how many coins Wario has to pay the genie and what kind of reward he'll get. If he goes out of his way to obtain every single coin he can find, then he'll have enough money to buy his very own planet with his face on it.

    Web Videos 
  • The Spoony Experiment: Doctor Insano, in his April Fool's Day review of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, claims:
    Insano: "Fifteen years after this movie, the only thing Ferris Bueller would be qualified to do is be a frycook on Venus. But nerds will own the restaurant, and I will own Venus!

    Western Animation 
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: The Trope Namer by way of a fictitious video made by Eddy to try and impress his brother with his staggering wealth in "An Ed Is Born". When Eddy claims that he might buy a couple more planets, already owning Saturn and Pluto, Double D is so unimpressed he inadvertently reveals Ed slapping dollar signs on garbage bags:
    Eddy: What the heck are you doing?! Don't film that!
    Double D: Sorry Eddy, the "planet baron" story threw me off.
  • Futurama:
    • Amy Wong's parents claim ownership of literally the entire northern hemisphere of Mars as part of "Wong Ranch", among other ventures.
    • Lrrr is the ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8, a fact that is reiterated every single time he appears on the show.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Candace very briefly becomes the Queen of Mars when sent there by the boys' teleporter. They even carve her face into the surface in her honor. After she's forced to go home, Doofenshmirtz and a baking-soda-volcano wind up there... and the Martians crown the volcano as the new ruler.
  • Rick and Morty has Unity, a hive mind that has taken over a planet. As all the people are controlled by her, she could be considered not only leader, but also acts as all the workers (as well as the homeless people) on the planet.
  • The Simpsons: Kang becomes ruler of the Earth twice, in "Treehouse of Horror II", and "Treehouse of Horror VII".
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM): As in the comics, Eggman seeks to control all of Mobius by hook or conversion into robot slave.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Chocolate with Nuts", one of SpongeBob's lies is the promise of becoming this.
  • In ThunderCats, Mumm-Ra compliments Lion-O's ancestor Leo on his skills in finding the Power Stones, musing that when he rules the universe, Leo will be given his own planet to rule.
    Mumm-Ra: ...supervised, of course.
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