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Rabble Rouser

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"You're inciting a mob. Good luck controlling them."

This is the one in a mob who stirs everyone up, calling for Torches and Pitchforks or a Witch Hunt. When there's something strange going on, unusual new neighbors, a Mad Scientist on the edge of town, they're probably the one who ginned up public resentment. If not, they keep them going, egging them on when they start to show doubt, and at times picking targets for their wrath, and possibly singing as they do it. Their arguments don't necessarily make sense, but agitated crowds often don't care.

Their motivations vary, sometimes It's Personal, they've had something done to them and they're after Revenge or think it'll happen again, or might just be as scared as everyone else, and trying to find someone to blame for everything that's been happening. They might even be the one responsible for it all, and trying to throw off suspicion by blaming everyone else. Or they might be part of some grand scheme to stir up unrest, making it easier to depose those wretched ruling classes. Perhaps they were the Powder Keg Crowd and he managed to give them focus.

They are often opposed by the Only Sane Man. He'll be trying to talk the mob down, and convince them what they're doing is wrong and they should go home. This occasionally leads to a man-to-man confrontation between the two of them. Other times, the Rabble Rouser will turn the crowd against him.

Stirring up a mob is risky, though, as there is a chance their anger could result in a backlash against the one who stirred them up in the first place. This in turn may result in Hoist by His Own Petard or Shamed by a Mob. Compare/contrast Spark of the Rebellion.

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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In one of the iterations of The Authority, the team fought against a group of patriotic heroes who were essentially expies of DC's Freedom Fighters. Among these was the Uncle Sam expy Paul Revere, whose powers included the ability to rile up crowds.
  • One of the more underhanded ways that bad guys have tried to get rid of Lucky Luke is to sic a crowd on him and have them lynch him.
    • A prominent attempt has been by two con-men, Denver and his little troll stooge Colorado Bill who in order to usurp the ownership of a mine seeked to accuse the miner O'Connor first of being an evil ghost and secondly of stealing the saloon's earnings.
    • Even the Daltons, who spend much of their time on the wrong side of a rope, have indirectly tried that, which involved fake posters that named Lucky Luke as a wanted criminal guilty of outlandish crimes. Joe wanted to make Luke suffer from the law like a desperado and William silenced him with a bottle to the head when he tried to defend himself.
    • Yet another trick of this sort has been used by a slimy accomplice of noted desperado Joss Jamon when he shifted the blame for their crimes towards Luke, who has just arrived on the aftermath of their pillaging.
    • "Daltons in the Blizzard" has Joe (currently the owner of a saloon) rile up the crowd against the police officer trying to enforce the closing hours for licensed premises. Unfortunately, they're in Canada, meaning a), the crowd stops being riled as soon as the police officer shows up, and b), the police officer is a sergeant of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The man breaks up a fight between two lumberjacks twice his size by telling them to report to the police outpost three days away, which they do.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Veronica Cale's plan revolved around turning the public against Wonder Woman and the Amazons, starting by creatively selecting portions of the book Diana had just published and framing sentences and partial sentences about abortion, faith and gay marriage as attacks on American values. She manages to create a mob lead by her puppet whom she then has assassinated outside the Themysciran Embassy to make a martyr of him and multiple clubs whose members have tied their altruistic efforts to inspiration from Wondy are forcibly disbanded by outsiders.

    Fan Works 
  • BURN THE WITCH (Miraculous Ladybug): The central conflict of the fanfic is Rose, discovering how much of a scam artist Lila Rossi is, accepting being Akumatized by Hawk Moth and becoming "Witch Hunter", who has the power to cause More than Mind Control in people and who whips the entirety of Paris into a million-strong lynch crowd, of the classic "Spanish Inquisition" style, and who are all out to get Lila.
  • Kyran Datoro in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World. This captive of the Tayhil is so annoyed that George and Paul rescued him without slaughtering the Tayhil that he runs off as soon as he's back in Chandalla and incites the townspeople against the two. However, the Chandallans sensibly do nothing more than yell and throw the occasional rock.
  • In Torque (Jak and Daxter), a man in the Water Slums stirs of the people there that The Dark Warrior is just an instrument of fear meant to control them and ends up starting a riot. This quickly leads to Praxis unleashing The Dark Warrior on the slums, with Keira and Daxter caught up in the chaos.

  • Beauty and the Beast: After Belle reveals the Beast's existence, Gaston, in a jealous rage, whips the town into a frenzy with talk, or rather lyric, of how he'll come and devour their children, and calls on them to storm the Beast's castle and kill him.
  • Art from The 'Burbs; it's just him and two other guys and it turns out there is something suspicious, but he feeds the paranoia that essentially is the plot.
  • In The Divergent Series: Allegiant, Four accuses Evelyn of being one as she presides of over the "trials" of Jeanine's supporters, warning her that she won't be able to control the former factions.
  • Young Frankenstein
    • At a town meeting one of the townspeople tries to stir up a lynch mob against the newest Baron Frankenstein.
    Townsman: He's a Frankenstein! And they're all alike. It's in their blood. They can't 'elp it. All those scientists, they're all alike. They say they're working for us. What they really want is to rule the world!
    • Later on, Inspector Kemp (an authority figure who had earlier argued against violence) changes his mind.
    A riot is an ugly thing. Und I think that it is just about time that we had one!

  • In The Grapes of Wrath, the corrupt Sheriff's department sends agitators to try to cause a riot at the government-run workers' camp. The workers spot the agitators and see them off without trouble.
  • In the Stephen King & Peter Straub sequel to The Talisman, Black House, an angry mob arrives at the police station to enact justice on the guy who's been wrongfully accused of killing several children. Jack manages to prevent a riot. One person in the crowd (a local muckraking journalist) deliberately attempts to re-ignite things, only to be taken out by a cop's flashlight.
  • The Hand of Thrawn duology has Imperial deep cover agents left behind by Grand Admiral Thrawn activated after the discovery that a group of Bothans helped the Imps commit genocide of the pacifist Caamasi. The sleeper agents use this tactic, among others, to sow unrest: In one case they start a riot by basically having a guy holler "Justice for Caamas!" a bunch of times in a crowded town square (gathered for a demonstration at a Bothan-owned company) and start throwing fruit, and letting the crowds take it from there.
  • Discussed at length in Night Watch. Sam Vimes thinks of the Agitator as the poor bugger everyone stands behind going "yeah! right!" and then ditch when the law gets rough. Reg Shoe also tries to be this, very hard, but the people around Treacle Mine Road are too busy picking apart the holes in his revolutionary rhetoric (such as for example the...ladies of negotiable affection who refuse to be involved in any revolution involving "free love", so it gets modified to "Reasonably-Priced Love") to be properly inflamed.
  • Ciaphas Cain:
  • After it's conquered by the Empire of Charis, the League of Corisande in Safehold sees an increase in these, the most prominent being Paitryk Hainree. These rabble rousers are specifically recruited by what the Charisians dub the "Northern Conspiracy" to create unrest they can use in an attempted coup.

    Live Action TV 
  • In the The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" a series of strange occurrences puts a quiet neighborhood on edge, one of the street's resident's, Charlie, begins throwing accusations around and is always the first to demand explanations from whoever the newest suspect is. At one point one of the others call him a self-appointed Hanging Judge.
  • Parodied in Dinosaurs when Robbie gets turned into a were-human, Earl and Charlene call the angry mob, whose number they have on the fridge.
  • Early in Legend of the Seeker, Richard's brother stirs up the townsfolk against Kahlann, after misfortunes begin falling on them after her arrival.
  • Quantum Leap: In "Trilogy, Part II", Leta Aider leads a lynch mob to storm the house of Abigail Fuller, the woman she's convinced killed her husband and daughter years before, and riles up the others by convincing them Abigail's a witch.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
    • The early episode "A Man Alone" has a man stirring up a hateful mob against Odo on the basis that Odo murdered the man's friend, but mostly that he's an evil untrustworthy shapeshifter (in an elaborate frameup that could only happen in sci-fi). They pursue him to Odo's already-vandalized office and start jeering and throwing things, and only disperse when Sisko points out they wouldn't even know how to hurt him.
    • Later used more positively with the Cardassian resistance. Damar himself takes this role by exhorting his fellow Cardassians to protect one of their own (Garak) from being pushed around on his own planet by the Jem'hadar—since Garak just planted a bomb and they all need to get out of there now. He inspires a civilian revival of the resistance with this.
  • Dr. Whale stirs up an angry mob against Regina in the Once Upon a Time episode "Broken". For maximum Irony, Dr. Whale is the cursed identity of Dr. Frankenstein.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "Thine Own Self" when Data loses his memory and wanders into a primitive village bringing some radioactive materials with him, the radiation starts to affect the villagers in ways none of them understand. Skoran, the blacksmith, begins to accuse Data of bringing the sickness with him, which he actually did, and at the end he brings a mob to confront him, ending when he runs Data through with a metal pike. Fortunately Data was able to dump a cure into the village's water supply first.
  • Babylon 5:
    • "The War Prayer": After a series of attacks on prominent aliens by a pro-human group, G'Kar starts stirring up a crowd of aliens, urging them to take action. Commander Sinclair and Chief Garibaldi arrive to try and defuse the situation, but Garibaldi realizes anything they say will only make them angrier, and has G'Kar either back down and they'll call it a misunderstanding, or his forces will take him by force. G'Kar backs down, but the damage has been done and tensions aboars the station reach an all-time high.
      Sinclar: I could strangle that damn G'Kar!
    • "By Any Means Necessary": When an accident leads to the death of some dock workers, the dockers union is on the verge of strike, egged on by Delvientos, whose brother was one of those killed. He's the most outspoken, the first to suggest a strike and the most antagonistic towards the labor negotiator, Zento, who admittedly isn't very sympathetic. He's more reasonable than most, and when an arrangement is reached that he's satisfied with, he calls the other dockers back to work.
    • "The Summoning": In an effort to drum up public opposition to Delenn's plan to attack Z'Ha'dum the Drazi and Hyach ambassadors organize a rally in the Zocalo, where they make anti-Minbari remarks and contend that any attack on the Shadows would be suicide, citing Sheridan's apparent death on Z'Ha'Dum as proof. When Delenn protests (from among the crowd) the ambassadors call for her to be silenced, causing Delenn and Lennier to fend off angry people as they try to make them see reason. Before any real violence can break out, everything comes to a halt as Sheridan appears on the catwalk next to the ambassadors, who can only sheepishly say, "Captain, we're sorry...we thought you were dead." Sheridan then delivers a Rousing Speech that rallies the crowd, turning them from a mob to an army willing to end the war forever.
  • Unusually and unwillingly, its Benjamin Denton actually one of the only sane men from The League of Gentlemen who ends up instigating a murderous attack from an already riotous mob. Having spent the last few weeks recuperating from the trauma that he suffered at the hands of the Tattsyrups and getting caught up in the middle of the street violence, thanks to a crystal ball he got from there gets a flashback to what happened the night that he tried to escape from Royston Vasey and loudly blames the local shop owners for everything. This turns the mob's attention towards the local shop, likely for the first time, and without any proof that it had anything to do with the nosebleed epidemic they decide to kill them, ironically while they rightfully call the Tattsyrups murderers while having no good motivation for burning them, with Ben only realising that they did it for the wrong reasons one moment too late.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Shrouds with the War dominion in Anathema can magically start riots. They can span up to ten square miles.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The more out-there Imperial priests are often seen inciting citizens to rise up against the mutants and heretics and burn them alive. Official reaction ranges from helping out to putting out contracts on such turbulent priests (such as the Arch-Zealot of the Redemption on Necromunda).
    • Chaos cults tend to do this. The more insidious ones actually start out as genuine attempts to reform the crumbling institutions but then get infiltrated by cultists.
    • SOP for genestealers cults (humans infected by genestealers are unthinkingly devoted to the Hive Mind, but retain their memories and knowledge), who will gladly use preexisting conflicts (for example, if multiple noble houses are competing for the office of planetary governor) by infiltrating all the factions and attacking each other and the loyalists who've arrived to quell the riots, all to weaken the planet for the Tyranids' arrival.


  • Medieval Madness: Inciting the peasants to revolt is one of the central goals.

    Video Games 
  • In Assassin's Creed III
    • Connor's first visit to Boston has him following a man assigned by Haytham Kenway to make the agitated people of Boston more agitated by getting them to go to the courthouse. Connor kills the man before he can open fire on the British soldiers... only to discover seconds later there's a second man on a roof across the street. And so the Boston Massacre occurs.
    • You can order your assassin recruits to start riots. Stephane also starts one in a fit of Unstoppable Rage while he's searching for the Redcoats who robbed his home.
  • Assassin's Creed: Odyssey:
    • During the Plague of Athens, Kleon stands outside Perikles' house blaming him for it, mainly so they'll turn on Perikles and put him in charge.
    • While the Eagle Bearer is in Sparta, they're assigned to stop a krypteia rousing a helot rebellion, and can either side with the helots, or just shank the krypteia mid-speech.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, you run into a guy trying to agitate a crowd against the Republic on Onderon as part of the questline—you can ignore him, agree with him, or argue with him as you like. Eventually he manages to start an actual riot, resulting in a number of deaths.
  • World of Warcraft: During the coronation to crown Talanji queen of the Zandalari, a riot breaks out and the Horde Champion is tasked with dealing with the instigator of the riot, Enforcer Malzon.

    Web Comics 
  • Exaggerated in this Cultist-chan comic. 40K canon isn't lacking in examples, whether Imperial priests whipping crowds up into righteous frenzy against whatever menace is at hand or Chaos cultists encouraging them into rebellion.

    Western Animation 
  • In Young Justice (2010), Sportsmaster does this to a crowd of adults after Klarion used a spell in "Misplaced" to send all the children to another dimension. This was done in order to allow the Riddler to sneak in undetected into STAR Labs property as the police were busy trying to quell the crowd from rioting.
  • Played With during a major Heat Wave on Hey Arnold!. The Jolly Ollie Man tries to charge the kids outrageous prices for ice cream, and Arnold convinces the crowd of kids to make a bunch of noise and give him no peace until he relents and sells ice cream at a reasonable price. Then Helga climbs on top of the truck and starts taking it even further, urging them to flip the ice cream truck over. Arnold then has to turn around and try to calm them down.
  • The Simpsons: "The PTA Disbands" has Bart stirring up the striking teachers to keep the strike going and extend his time off from school.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender plays with this in "The Boiling Rock, Part 2" where Sokka's plan relies on causing a prison Riot. First Hakota tries by shoving the biggest meanest looking guy he can find, and asking "Aren't you gonna hit me?" but the guy claims he's been learning to control his anger. Instead their new friend starts the riot by grabbing a smaller man, lifting him over his head and yelling, "Hey, RIOT"
  • In one episode of Brand Spankin' New Doug Ned Cauphee's house burns down, leaving him and his ten rambunctious siblings staying with various families in Bluffington, which quickly gets to be too much for them. Mayor Dink gives a fiery speech calling the townsfolk to action, then leads them on a march right to the Cauphee's...and start repairing their house.
  • South Park:
    • Mr/Mrs Garrison has a tendency for these, in one episode even creating an alternate timeline where the entire world converts to his abrasive train of thought on religion ("Logic and reason aren't enough. You have to be a dick to anyone who doesn't think like you."). Subverted in one episode where, in an attempt to stop legalized same sex marriage, Garrison spearheads a "fag drag". The mob look dumbfounded, explaining they don't actually hate homosexuals, they just don't want them to marry. Garrison also spearheaded an annoyance & fear campaign to make the "richers" move out of town: first he had people burn lower-case Ts on their lawn ("for Time to Leave"), then dress up as ghosts wearing pointy hatsnote .
    • When not Garrison, Sheila Brovloski and Randy Marsh tend to spearhead most of the town's riots. Cartman is also known to start lower key ones with kids (perhaps most glaringly getting ginger kids to beat up a Broadway star of Annie who wore a wig). Randy in particular has managed to rouse a rabble just by shouting the word a few times.
      Randy: Rabble! Rabble, rabble!
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy. Eddy has been described as such by both creator Danny Antonucci and voice actor Tony Sampson, though he doesn't stir up mobs so much as he just simply tries to stir up a little excitement within the cul-de-sac, particularly when it pertains to whatever Zany Scheme he's cooked up for him, Ed, and Double D.
  • Exploited in Danny Phantom when Sam's parents utilize their know-how to rouse an angry mob into a frenzy to break out of imprisonment at a Circus of Fear.
  • Oggy and the Cockroaches: "Duck Soup" has the cockroaches lure a flock of ducks to Oggy's yard, with Joey goading them into taking over the household to rescue one of their kind, whom Oggy and Jack intend to cook. The ducks soon launch an attack on the house that is fortunately quelled by the end of the episode... only for a mob of angry chickens to show up just as Jack is cooking scrambled eggs, implying Joey caused another animal revolution.