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Rat King

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"Through your eyes, brothers, I finally see the world for what it really is. This city is infested. Eight million parasites, scrambling around in their pointless lives, spreading disease, forcing us to live in the shadows, like vermin. No more! They are the true plague. Together, we shall rid this city of humanity, and reclaim it for ourselves."

Because rats are social, have long tails, and happily live in dirty environments, they occasionally get stuck together. In particular, their tails can become tangled, and they're unable to separate themselves once this happens—though they usually groom themselves well enough to keep this from happening in the first place, making the phenomenon thankfully rare. As rare as it may be, though, it's spectacular enough that humans—long-time unwilling companions of ratkind—have noticed these unfortunate entities and ascribed them with special properties. Details vary by region, but generally they're held to be omens of plague and other rat-based calamities.

Rat kings in fiction tend to have greater than typical intelligence, even on par with a human being, and the right to command other rats, be it through some conferred rat respect or overt psychic control, potentially turning a dissociated nuisance into a swarming wave of diseased, omnivorous devastation. They may be viewed as the manifestation of a rat Hive Mind, the rodent equivalent of a Hive Queen. Storytellers who either haven't done the research or don't like the "several rats conjoined by their tails" image may instead depict Rat Kings as royalty of some sort, typically Rodents of Unusual Size or anthropomorphic Rat Men imbued with greater intelligence and rule over other rats.

Note that some Pest Controllers control rats. In order to count as Rat Kings, they must be rats themselves, or at least very rat-like. Wearing a rat costume doesn't count.

Not to be confused with the book by James Clavell or the one by China Miéville.


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    Comic Books 
  • The Ballad of Halo Jones: While working on a star liner, Halo discovers that the hidden guest in the Presidential suite is a Rat King, but that one of the linked rats is dying. She's tasked with finding a replacement rat before its Hive Mind falls apart - and does so, saving its life. Much later, it's revealed that this was a Nice Job Breaking It, Hero scenario - the Rat King was used to coordinate a 'Ratwar' for Earth's military, murdering an entire world with targeted plagues.
  • Beasts of Burden: A Rat King is the Big Bad of "Something Whiskered This Way Comes", leading a massive colony of rats in the sewers beneath the town. and plotting to overthrow mankind with the help of a powerful supernatural entity.

  • The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents has one as its ultimate villain. Spider, so-called because it's made from eight young rats (eight being a number of great occult significance on the Discworld), has psychic powers so potent it can not only control rats and see anything they can see, but also influence human behavior. It can even strip away the magical awareness given to the protagonist rats and cat, making them ordinary creatures. Horribly, making a Rat King is part of the qualification for mastery in the Ratcatchers Guild, suggesting that there are many of these things across the Disc. It's specifically noted that the notion of Rat Kings being formed naturally is complete bullshit, as baby rats have very short tails and the mothers will keep their nests as clean as possible, and the myth that they get tangled together in filth is something invented to hide the fact that it's humans tying them together.
  • Animorphs: Invoked by David. When he reappears twenty-odd books after being trapped as a rat and left on an island, he claims that rats see him as a natural leader and obey him, and that he has armies billions strong. Rachel is skeptical and soon says that that's not possible, rats are not like that and he can't communicate with them that way and something else is going on. She's right.
  • Beyond The Spiderwick Chronicles: The idea of a rat king is discussed when the protagonists find three salamander-like baby dragons with their tails fused together. It's later discovered that the dragons are merging together into a massive Wyrm King, i.e., a hydra.
  • Left Hand Magic: A supernatural conglomeration of twelve New York street rats tries to eat the heroine's puppy. Luckily, her witchy boyfriend's familiar instead ends up eating the rat king.
  • Mouseheart: Emperor Titus is the ruler of Atlantia, a kingdom of rats that live in the subway stations of Brooklyn. He's later succeeded by his son Zucker.
  • Neverwhere: The nations of London Below include a highly regarded class of humans called Rat Speakers, who carry out the orders of the rats, who themselves are ruled with absolute authority by an entity described only as "the Golden".
  • The Nutcracker: The Mouse King has seven heads, which suggests that it might have been inspired by stories of Rat Kings. He's changed to the Rat King in many adaptations, since rats are seen as more villainous than mice.
  • The Rats: The alpha of the killer rats stalking London is a white, hairless and obese rat with two heads.
  • Rats and Gargoyles: The eponymous Rats are ruled by groups of nine of their number with their tails deliberately fused together.
  • Triss features a variant using vipers instead of rats. A trio of newborn adders got their tails ensnared in the chain of a flail used by an enemy who'd killed their mother and, having no hands, couldn't untangle themselves.
  • The War For The Lot: The primary antagonist(s) is/are a blind, psychic Hive Mind rat-king.
  • Warrior Cats: In Firestar's Quest, SkyClan is threatened to be wiped out by a swarm of rats. Firestar realizes that the rats have a leader, which is more intelligent than the others: it is able to speak Cat, and give commands to all the other rats. Once he kills the leader, the rest of the rats have nothing to command them, and they scatter.

    Live-Action TV 
  • QI: Discussed alongside the concept of Squirrel Kings. Jeremy Clarkson finds the idea hysterical, in light of the damage grey squirrels have done to British woodlands, although he admits it's a bit sad that it usually happens to baby squirrels.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: In Planescape, cranium rats function similarly to rat kings in that they become more intelligent and capable at higher population densities. Enough cranium rats crammed into a small space can rival the most intelligent beings in the multiverse, command other cranium rats to do their bidding, and host a variety of dangerous psychic powers.
  • Exalted has emperor rats, also known as "rat-hydras". They come to be when multiple giant rats are fused into one creature by Wyld energies.
  • Pathfinder: The fourth Bestiary contains statistics for these, in the traditional "entangled tails" form. They're smarter than normal rats (although still quite dim by human standards) and can communicate with them. They also carry disease, and make the diseases carried by other rats harder to resist.
  • Malifaux features Rat Kings as part of Hamelin the piper's crew. A large mass of rats (who aren't physically connected to each other) bound in what looks like it was once a sack. The mass combined with the bag ends up looking like a humanoid figure in a hooded robe and can even pass for a human in the right shadow and from a distance.
  • In the Realms of Pugmire, rodents use the title "Rat King" for any leader of a group of rodents, independent of their gender, status, alignment, or whether they’re a rat or mouse. In truth, no Rat King is true nobility, because unlike dogs and cats, there isn’t a centralized government for rodents since they don’t have their own lands. Monarchies of Mau has an add-on story "All Hail The Rat King!", which has three of them, Luka, Meeka and Kola, each of which uses their own methods to try fighting against the discrimination rodents face.
  • Warhammer Fantasy: Skreech Verminking, a Verminlord — a powerful Daemon of the Great Horned Rat, sent to act as a divine ruler for the Skaven Rat Men — was created when the god took the members of the Council of Thirteen who rule over the Skaven and fused and molded them into a single powerful being.
  • Warpath, among their rat-like Veer-Myn, have the Tangle. A mass of undersized Veer-Myn infants born with their tails bound together, who are revered by their species and typically possess powerful psychic abilities. Though they're feared by the Veer-Myn as much as they are revered because they can just as likely bring and end to their nest.

    Video Games 
  • Armory & Machine's boss of the second area is the Rat King. He sports Royal Decree, an extremely powerful attack among other weaker ones. Similar to the rat mooks in the area, their deadly attack must be interrupted or the fight will almost certainly end in your defeat.
  • Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead has Rat Kings as enemies in caves. They can inflict the player with a disease called "Ratting" which reduces stats, can cause vomiting, or, in especially bad cases, cause the player to mutate slowly into a rat.
  • Dark Souls II: A large hyper-intelligent rat actually goes by "the Rat King" moniker, commanding all other rats in the game. You can actually join the Rat King's Covenant — while he bemoans your un-rat-ness, he magnanimously allows you to serve him for some nifty multiplayer perks.
  • Deltarune has the Mauswheel, three Maice (computer mouse-like enemies) bound by their tails into not just a clump, but a super-speedy wheel. It serves as a Mini-Boss in Queen's mansion, with Kris and co. having to dispose of it because it's scaring the Swatchlings running the kitchen.
  • Diablo III goes for a very unusual take: Rat Kings are large, bipedal rodent-like monsters that carry their young within the swollen flesh on their backs, and can summon said young to attack the player.
  • Little King's Story: The Rat King leads a group consisting of himself and three other rats. It and its followers symbolize the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, with the Rat King symbolizing Death.
  • Lunacid: These are one of the enemies encountered in the Fetid Mire's sewers, though they're just mundane rats stuck together. There are also Rat Queens, dog-sized rats with multiple smaller rats seemingly growing out of their bodies.
  • Pokémon Sun and Moon: Going by the description of Alolan Rattata, it seems as though Alolan Raticate are this. Alolan Raticate also serves as a Totem Pokémon boss in Pokémon Moon and summons Alolan Rattata to assist it in battle.
  • Shadowrun Returns: In the Hong Kong campaign, Gobbet's (a shaman with a rat totem) loyalty mission involves returning to collective she used to live in, in order to confront an old friend (another rat shaman) who's gone toxic and started ruling with an iron fist after acquiring a fetish (no, not that sort).
  • Shovel Knight: King of Cards, which has kinghood as a recurring motif, features an enemy called the Rat King, appearing as a Propeller Rat with a bunch of other rats clustered around it. Every time you attack it, a rat will fall off. Attack enough times, and it will revert to an ordinary Propeller Rat.
  • TinkerQuarry: The rats in the Dollhouse are ruled by the Rat King, a massive, three-headed, albino rat that serves as one of the last few bosses of the game.

  • Sleepless Domain: The monster that tries to break into the hospital in Chapter 20 is a large rodent-esque monster themed around a rat king. It appears to be a constantly shifting amalgamation of shadowy purple rats, with heads, limbs, and tails all emerging and disappearing from the mass as if trying to escape.
  • Snarlbear: The rat queen is a huge rat joined to many smaller rats.
  • Tales of the Questor: A mad biomancer created a rat king that could create wights, living shadows that feed on magic, which were shaped like rats.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 


The Giant Rat

He makes all of da rules.

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