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Rebel Leader

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"WE... ARE... FREE!!"

"I'll organize revolt, exact a death for a death, and I'll never rest until every Saxon in this shire can stand up free men and strike a blow for Richard and England."

It can be a cruel life in a typical fantasy story. The Evil Overlord’s new government has ruthlessly taken power, and The Empire rules the land with an iron fist and is slowly but steadily taking over the world. The people are oppressed and overtaxed, but the enemy is just too powerful for anyone to overcome. What can they do?

Never fear, the Rebel Leader is here! Swinging into action (sometimes literally) with their band of loyal followers, they lead the charge against evil and fight to free the people!

Almost every rebel group has one of these, a heroic and free-spirited person with rugged good looks and a perfect grin. Sometimes a series bucks the trend by having a Plucky Girl lead the rebels, or perhaps someone who was the legitimate ruler and is trying to get back their country.

Usually the Rebel Leader becomes an ally to the main cast, using their expertise and resources to distract the enemy, promise to help out at the final battle or band together against a common goal. There's also a chance of a Love Triangle with the hero's Love Interest as she swoons over the Rebel Leader's good looks. If the Rebel Leader is female, on the other hand, there's a high probability of her becoming the hero's Love Interest herself.

However, in other series things may not be as they seem. Sometimes the rebel leader may make questionable choices in the fight against the empire, perhaps they're just using the rebel cause to further their own agenda, perhaps they're abusing the very people they're trying to help, or are willing to take down the enemy no matter what the cost. Sometimes the Rebel Leader will be just as bad as the Evil Overlord they’re trying to take down, often leading to Meet the New Boss should they take over. Occasionaly they will be the Big Bad rebelling against The Good King or a similarly peaceful government, in which case they are a Dark Messiah, a leader who is a very questionable 'savior'. Or perhaps they’re just a Doomed Moral Victor if the odds are really that bad.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Lelouch from Code Geass leads the Black Knights by Living a Double Life as Zero, but their relationship is kind of...complicated. On the one hand, Zero leads the Black Knights very effectively, making what was once a loose collection of rebel cells into a full-fledged revolutionary army. On the other hand, it's not entirely clear if he truly believes in the Japanese independence movement, or is just using the Black Knights to act out the grudge he has against the Britannian Empire. For their part, the Knights don't fully trust him due to his hidden identity and suspect motives but are painfully aware that they would never have had a fighting chance against The Empire if Zero hadn't taken over. That doesn't stop them from feeling "used" when Zero's identity is revealed, and then turning on him.
  • In Digimon Adventure 02, Davis Motomiya is the Rookie Red Ranger of the second team, which forms the primary resistance against the Digimon Emperor.
  • In Endride, the charismatic idealist Demetrio heads up the Ignauts, aiming to make King Delzaine abdicate the throne. His magnetism is such that he ends up causing the two protagonists to join up with his cause, rather than the other way around.
  • Eureka Seven featured Holland as the leader of his own resistance movement, Gekkostate. The only problem is that physically assaults one of his own subordinates, Renton Thurston, for "stealing" Nirvash Type ZERO and Eureka from him, making him more akin to a Bad Boss than the rebel leader he was meant to be. In other words, for a rebel leader, he sure as heck acts like even more of a child than the actual child, to the point that his own girlfriend, Talho, and most of Gekkostate would call him out on it. By the end of the first half, though, he accepts the fact that Renton is The Chosen One and just goes back to leading Gekkostate properly while leaving control of the Nirvash TypeZERO and Eureka's protection to Renton.
  • Gundam:
  • Kamina in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Simon and Kittan also show signs of this, although Simon doesn't become the official leader until Team Dai-Gurren are done rebelling.
  • Elamba of Now and Then, Here and There is the fierce leader of the Zari-Bars Resistance against Hellywood. He's brash, tough, and very much in favor of violent means to combat the tyrannical empire threatening the devastated future earth. Unfortunately, this puts him at odds with both the heroes and his own people, since his plans just further endanger them. It gets to the point that he goes over the edge in his vendetta and becomes the secondary antagonist of the final few episodes.
  • "The Revolutionary" Dragon, in the One Piece universe. His actions and ideas are so outrageous that he was christened as the "World's Most Wanted Criminal." His importance to the narrative wasn't made clear until Garp revealed to Luffy that his full name is Monkey D. Dragon and that he is Luffy's father.
  • In the final story arc of 20th Century Boys Kanna becomes leader of the armed resistance against Friend.

  • In the distant past of Beast Fables, the Tyrant King, an ancient Tyrannosaurus monarch, was opposed by a rebellion led by a Triceratops named Ironhorn. She was originally the queen of a kingdom conquered by the Tyrant King's empire but was defeated and forced to take part in gladiator games. She survived long enough to muster some of her people, escape, and mount a long rebellion against her former captor.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering's Mercadian Masques block had a creature type called, well, Rebel. Basically, it involves bringing creatures out from your library. Lin Sivvi, who rebelled against the Phyrexians on Rath, fits this trope and was actually a bit of a Game-Breaker back in the day. More recent Rebel leaders aren't quite so broken: Koth, Jor Kadeen, Melira, and Kemba had so game-breaking about them in the Scars of Mirrodin block.

    Comic Books 
  • 2000 AD clearly loves this trope:
    • Nemesis the Warlock: Nemesis is the leader of Credo, which encompasses both the alliance of alien planets united against the Termight Empire, as well as the human resistance on Earth. Nemesis often engages in raiding parties on Termight itself against Torquemada and his forces, which incenses the Grand Master so much that he has dubbed Nemesis the "arch-deviant".
    • Cursed: The Fall of Deadworld had a loose, unofficial one in the form of Walter Tucker, Patti Halliday, & Agatha Proudwater, before the Dark Judges infiltrated and destroyed them, but not before revealing that disposed former US President Boone was alive & well, and also leading a resistance movement against them. By the end of the following story, the major players of the Resistance are looking to be Jess Childs, Agatha Proudwater, El Cadaver, Byke, and possibly also Judge Ava Eastwood.
    • Judge Dredd has Dredd himself act like this every time the City has had a crisis, usually working alongside somebody else as well; most notably with Fergee & Judge-Tutor Griffin in The Day the Law Died, Psi-Judge Anderson in Necropolis, Galen DeMarco and Judge Hershey in The Doomsday Scenario, Judge Smiley, Dirty Frank, and Jack Point in The Cold Deck/Trifecta, and Judge Rico, Dolman, Psi Judge Lewis, and Texas City Judge Knox in Every Empire Falls
    • Necrophim has the Fallen Angel Uriel and his lover, Lady Cythea, form one alongside King Jotunheim, the former ruler of the Blizzard Kingdoms, and fellow fallen Angels, Ezarat & Valion, and allied itself with the Angels under one of their leaders, Raziel, against the Big Bad Ensemble leaders of Hell, Lucifer & Neboron, and the Demons under Lord Astaroth.
    • Nikolai Dante had the Revolutionary Forces led by Nikolai Dante, Jena Makarova, Lady Jocasta Romanov, Lulu Romanov, Papa Yeltsin, Katarina Dante, & Arkady Romanovnote  until The Reveal. Afterwards, Katarina Dante briefly replaces her son alongside Sergeant Elena Kurakin until the latter manages to find and help him recover from his Moral Event Horizon. He then re-joins the revolution again alongside his mother Katarina, Sergeant Kurakin, and the remaining Romanov family membersnote  And before that, in the "Amerika" storyline, there was the Amerikan Resistance led by various front-line military commanders and spies,note  such as Major Liberty and Carmen Suarez respectively.
    • Strontium Dog had both Johnny Alpha and Middenface MacNulty established as leaders during the Mutant Uprising, Middenface as General of the Scotland division and Johnny as General Armz aide-de-camp. Other rebel group leaders like Dai the Death and Bonnie Charlie Prince also appear.
  • Robin Series: Dava Sborsc is a spirited young revolution leader from the small fictional dictatorship of Transbelvia, though The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized they're a far sight better than their opponents and their ruthlessness is at least understandable given the circumstances.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): Princess Sally is the official leader of the Freedom Fighters, while Sonic is simply the most prominent member.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Star Wars: Invasion: After the Vong conquer Artorias, King Caled Galfridian forms its few free survivors into a resistance movement and sets about terrorizing and sabotaging the invaders.
    • X-Wing Rogue Squadron: Elscol leads the Cilpar resistance. She's far from a Plucky Girl and is much too driven and hurt to smile or trust easily.
  • Ultimate X-Men: Kitty Pryde was the leader of Utopia and the Mutant Resistance. Decided to step down during the war of Tian because her methods were not working.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Diana ends up leading a faction of the rebellion against the Sangtee Empire, and being something of a figurehead for the other groups rebelling who don't follow her command or keep to her ideals.


  • Star Wars:
    • Princess and Senator Leia Organa. The Rebel Alliance has a number of leaders, from political leaders (Mon Mothma, Bail Organa) to military leaders (General Dodonna, Admiral Ackbar, and others), but there's no doubt, especially after Alderaan's destruction, who the symbolic flame of the Rebellion is.
    • Leia's mother, Padme Amidala, probably counts as well, seeing as the deleted scenes from Revenge of the Sith have her forming the Rebellion with Bail Organa and Mon Mothma.
    • To a point, Luke Skywalker—destroyer of the Death Star, founder of Rogue Squadron, not to mention last of the Jedi—qualifies as well. "Not the last of the old. The first of the new." ~the ghost of Obi-Wan. Luke later becomes Jedi master in the EU.
    • There really is irony in the fact that the two people who become the driving force of the Rebellion/Republic are the children of the guy who put them in that position in the first place.
    • Commander Poe Dameron in The Force Awakens. Though not the highest-ranking member of the Resistance, Poe is very much someone that the members, especially his pilots, look up to and trust. He basically lays out the plan for the attack on Starkiller Base, with the officers above him in rank assenting. As the leader of their X-wing squadrons, it is made clear that the other pilots, many of whom are less-experienced, draw a lot of confidence from having him in the air with them. Poe is also extremely handsome, further fitting the trope. The film's opening crawl describes him as Leia's "most daring pilot".
  • Nigel "The Torch" in the parody film Top Secret!, who is leading the French resistance against East Germany. He's also a love rival of the main character, who just finds him smug and annoying. Then subverted because he is revealed to be The Mole to resolve the love triangle.
  • Mariana from The Rundown, who leads a group of rebels against the Corrupt Corporate Executive Hatcher and his forces.
  • Malcolm Beech in Oblivion (2013) is the leader of the remaining free humans on Earth.
  • Amigo: Simón Dacanay, brother to the village chief protagonist Rafael Dacanay, an officer in General Emilio Aguinaldo's Revolutionary Army, at the time fighting the American invaders.
  • Barbarella: Dildano is the leader of the rebellion in Sogo that wants to overthrow the Black Queen. Barbarella allies with him because if they capture the Queen, she can learn the whereabouts of Durand Durand.
  • Land of the Blind: Thorne, who began as a dissident playwright, headed the opposition, and was imprisoned for sedition. Inside he becomes steadily more extreme. After he wins, his regime becomes even worse, reminiscent of Mao, Khomeini & co.
  • The Serpent and the Rainbow: White magic-user Celine has strong connections in the local underground movement and is happy to help opponents of Peytraud and his Secret Police allies.
  • Vaincre ou Mourir: François Athanase Charette de La Contrie aka simply "Charette" becomes the undisputed leader of the Vendée insurgency against the Reign of Terror of the First French Republic during the bloodiest phase of The French Revolution in 1793.

  • Kelsier from the first Mistborn book. He has the rugged good looks, defiant grin, and questionable end-justifies-means morality, and is also something of a Dark Messiah and a self-styled Doomed Moral Victor. Given a twist with Quellion, a character from the third book who is in many ways a dark shadow of Kelsier, who shows that it's not always pretty when one of these guys actually succeeds in taking power. In his attempts to eradicate all traces of the old system, Quellion becomes just as tyrannical as the decadent nobility ever were. Of course, it didn't help that the Big Bad was prodding him in that direction.
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix When Umbridge actively sabotages any chance of the students learning to defend themselves (not because she's working for the villains, but because the Ministry refuses to believe Voldemort's back), the title character and his friends start a secret defense group. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Neville, Ginny, and Luna take up the role after the villains really take over the school, turning the group Harry started into a full-fledged resistance movement against the Carrows.
  • There are two major rebel leaders in Twig, the "Shepherd" Reverend Mauer and Cynthia Imlay. The Shepherd, an ex-soldier, is a populist leader who formed and manipulates his army and network of informants through words and promises, while Cynthia leads a more traditional scrappy band of rebels. Later on, Sy takes over an Academy and becomes a rebel leader as well. While the Crown and Academy do meet many points for an Evil Empire, the rebel cells have no moral advantage, making the conflict more of Order (the Crown/Academy) versus Chaos (the rebellion).
  • Henri Tod in The Story of Henri Tod, part of the Blackford Oakes series.
  • Florian in Lloyd Alexander's Westmark trilogy seems to be genuinely concerned with what's best for the people, but is willing to be ruthless when necessary. His lieutenant, Justin, goes further into Well-Intentioned Extremist territory.
  • Enjolras - the leader of the Friends of the ABC, the student revolutionaries from Les Misérables - is this, down to the possibly questionable choices he makes during the barricades.
  • From Inheritance Cycle, there's Ajihad, the leader of the Varden. Also his daughter Nasuada after he is killed.
  • Hereward (and Edric) in Marcus Pitcaithly's The Hereward Trilogy. (Obviously, both are drawn from history.)
  • The Deathstalker series by Simon R. Green has some wonderfully reluctant rebel leaders — notably 1) the title character, a historian named Owen Deathstalker, who got dragged into leading a resistance by his dead father's plotting and the evil empress's overreaction, and 2) Jack Random, professional rebel, who's led so many valiant-but-failed resistance movements over the years that he's ready to quit and fade into the shadows. He's still got it, though.
  • Hard to Be a God features Arata the Hunchback, a professional rebel leader. He was merely Arata when he led his first rebellion, but despite leaving bits and pieces of himself all over the empire, through many, MANY failed uprisings, he's still willing to shoot as many dogs as necessary to make Arkanar a slightly less Crapsack World.
  • In The Shattered Kingdoms, two or three kinds of rebel leadership can be spotted. Daryan is heir to the Shadari kingship (a fact kept secret to the occupying Norlanders) but has a friendship and a romance that cross racial lines in a way that would be unacceptable to most Shadari if they knew, and doesn't really want the burdens of leadership anyway. Faroth, meanwhile, certainly intends to be in charge of the rebellion, but isn't particularly effectual, is obsessed with excluding other potential leaders, and is more like a gang boss than a hero. A third character, Harotha, has a significant role but tends to manipulate and chivvy rather than lead (a fact which causes her problems when Daryan decides he doesn't want to be lead around by the nose anymore). In the end, none of them are really the reason the rebellion succeeds, although they all had some impact on how it played out.
  • General Val'gor, from Invasion of Kzarch, serves as the leader of the combined Kzarchian and Marine forces, until he betrays his men and allies in an attempt to take over the planet.
  • Moira the Rebel Queen in Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne is this during the Orlesian occupation of Ferelden. However, she is betrayed and killed, leaving her young son Maric as the only surviving member of the Ferelden royal line. Maric does not fit this trope at first, leaving the role to Arl Rendorn Guerrin (until the Arl is killed in a disastrous battle with Orlesian forces). Over the course of the novel, Maric matures and becomes more this, although he shares the role with Loghain Mac Tir, who is more proficient in the matter of war. This ends by the end of the novel when Ferelden is liberated, and Maric is officially crowned king.
  • Lyme, from The Hunger Games. She's the leader of District 2's rebels and works with District 13 to bring them to the rebellion's side in the war.
  • In military thriller Victoria, protagonist John Rumford sort of plays this role himself at first, leading a small militia of fellow military veterans fighting against the abuses of the near-future dystopian and massively corrupt federal government. However, he soon relinquishes overall leadership to the more politically savvy William Kraft, concentrating instead on the military operations that are his own forte.
  • Split Heirs: The Black Weasel's Bold Bush-dwellers are meant to be this, but become simply bandits preying on Gorgarian merchants, lacking any possible means to end their occupation.
  • Red Mars Trilogy: Arkady Bogdanov lays a lot of groundwork for the First Martian Revolution, and winds up becoming a major political figure. He dies in the opening stages of the revolution, being immolated after the dome he's in has its physical plant hacked to increase oxygen levels to the point flesh burns. He's a major political figure because the Bogdanovists he inspired continue his legacy over the rest of the series.
  • The Crimson Shadow: Luthien turns into the leader of a rebellion to free Eriador from Avon's tyrannical rulership.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5: Both Captain Sheridan and Mars Resistance leader Tessa Holloran.
  • The Barrier:
    • Jorge and Iris are the leaders of the pre-existing La Résistance.
    • By the end of the series, Luis ends up being presented as this trope in the media and being considered this by many due to being the person who tells the public about the government's most nefarious plans, already being a known face to the parents of children who were taken away by the government under falses pretenses, and getting the support of many law enforcers.
  • Blake's 7: Blake is a Rebel Leader of the genuinely dedicated but morally hazy variety.
  • Chousei Kantai Sazer X: Commander Shark was originally a member of the Neo Descal, but after an experience led him to see the good in humans he defected from them and formed Sazer-X to fight against them.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Tywin views Robb as a 'Rebellion in the North' as opposed to 'The King in the North'.
    • Robert was this when he waged a war against the Mad King.
  • Intergalactic: Emma founded ARC, who are fighting the corrupt, oppressive Commonworld. Yann, Ash's father, is later shown to be the new leader after Emma was imprisoned.
  • The Power (2023): Zaia, Tatiana's sister, is the leader of the women rebels in Carpathia, having previously led the revolt by her fellow sex slaves as well.
  • Revolution: Commander Wayne Ramsey of the Resistance. He only appears in "The Stand", "Ghosts", and "Clue". He doesn't actually do all that much, and the episode "Clue" results in Jim Hudson killing him off. It is clear that the rebel leadership is sorely lacking in tactical and organizational competence and an extremely reluctant Miles Matheson has to step in and take leadership. Ironically, he is the one responsible for creating the situation that he is now rebelling against.
  • The Revolution (2006): George Washington of the Continental Army.
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand: Spartacus, like his historical counterpart, is the rebel leader. He starts out with a small group of rebel slaves and ends with a full-blown army that scares all of Rome.
  • Although he wasn't the top rebel leader, Francis Marion was one of them in The Swamp Fox, just as in Real Life.
  • In the Arrowverse crossover event Crisis on Earth-X, it's revealed that the leader of Freedom Fighters on Earth-X is General Winn Schott. Unlike Earth-38's Winn, this version is a grizzled (and bearded) veteran, who only cares about saving his world from the Nazis at any cost.
  • In Star Trek: Discovery, the leader of the alien resistance to the Mirror Universe's Terran Empire is known as Firewolf. He's actually an albino Klingon named Voq. Burnham questions him about how he managed to overcome the Klingon Proud Warrior Race Guy mentality to unite so many different races. Mirror!Voq explains that it helps to have a common enemy, i.e. the Terrans. The conversation is interrupted by Ash Tyler (who is really Prime!Voq as a Manchurian Agent), when his Voq personality surfaces, enraged at Mirror!Voq's perceived betrayal of Klingon ideals.
  • In TekWar a woman known as Warbride leads a guerrilla faction dedicated to stoping the industrialization of nature. She also has a history with main character Jake Cardigan.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • Zeus, against his father Cronus and the Titans.
  • Satan, in Paradise Lost and other works. Subverted, in that he's actually just deluded himself into believing he's this: his "rebellion" is really just a temper tantrum against God for not holding him in as high esteem as he thinks he deserves, and then later trying to make everyone else as miserable as he is once he's lost. Despite his self-deception, he has been interpreted as a Tragic Villain or a Byronic Hero, especially by modern readers.
  • The Bible has King David, although supposedly partly by accident. He starts off just a shepherd, with all of his brothers fighting against the occupying Philistine army before he's tapped by God to lead the army himself. After he becomes King, his son Absalom becomes this...against his father, who has become corrupt.

  • The Rebel Alliance of Mission to Zyxx is led by Commanders Rolphus Tiddle and Seesu Gundu. Rolphus personally hires the crew into the Alliance for season two and Seesu is an ongoing presence through the show, if always on the far side of a commlink.

    Video Games 
  • 7.62 High Calibre: Has Tanya Tormens as the leader of the rebel group trying to overthrow the coup-established government of Algeira, and you can choose to support her efforts, put her down, or play her against the government until you're forced into choosing sides. Interestingly, she's the daughter of the dictator of Palinero, the neighboring country that was the location of the previous game in the series, who himself came to power in a military coup.
  • Alter A.I.L.A.: White/Hawk definitely qualifies. He's more of a moral leader, with Gold being the more official head of the rebels.
  • Leonie Beaumort of Aviary Attorney is fighting a regime that perhaps isn't deliberately malicious but is definitely negligent and uncaring. She simmers with constant anger and struggles with not putting Revenge Before Reason and how much violence is correct, but is after all a Reasonable Authority Figure. It's just too bad she has manipulative 'allies' who want everything to get very very bloody.
  • BioShock Infinite: Daisy Fitzroy is the leader of the Vox Populi, who fight against the xenophobic Founders. However, whatever idealistic motive she had has since been worn down by the time of the game to simply blind hatred, to the point that she'll justify killing the children of her enemies as "pulling weeds from the roots". However, the Burial at Sea DLC shows that she was faking the child-murdering part under the orders of the Luteces in order to goad Elizabeth into killing her, thereby strengthening her resolve and in truth was horrified by the idea of murdering children.
  • Blaze Union: Pandra is one of the nastiest varieties of the trope; he may have originally rebelled out of the people's interests, but has degenerated into being worse than most bandits. As he intends to thieve, pillage, and rape his way through the country, he has a tendency to get curb-stomped by the heroes quite often.
  • Brütal Legend: Lars Halford serves as the leader of Ironheade, an army of humans who wish to break free of slavery to the Tainted Coil. Before Ironheade, however, there was the Black Tear Rebellion, led by Riggnarok, who turned out to be Eddie's father who traveled to the future.
  • Kane presents himself as this in the early Command & Conquer: Tiberian Series, leading the Brotherhood of Nod, a religious/resistance movement that strikes against the oppression and corruption of the global elite, especially the Global Defense Initiative. In truth, he's more of a Dark Messiah who engages in terrorism and other war crimes as he leads a Cult of Personality to advance his own inscrutable interests.
  • Detroit: Become Human:
    • Markus, one of the Player Characters, will become the leader of the android rebellion and spearhead several campaigns. It's up to the player whether Markus takes a peaceful Thou Shalt Not Kill path or a violent Well-Intentioned Extremist one, which impact its outcome. However, if Markus is either killed or fails so many of his missions that he's kicked out of the movement before the climax, the less charismatic and more unstable North will become the new Rebel Leader, inevitably leading to its collapse.
    • A special ending, wherein Markus is out of the picture and North dies will see Connor, if he breaks from his programming, become the new rebel leader by the end. However, CyberLife will then reveal it used him as a Manchurian Agent, ending in a Bolivian Army Ending as Connor puts a gun to his head.
  • Devil May Cry: Sparda in this series rebelled against the demon emperor by allying with the humans. In Devil May Cry 4, long after he is gone, he is worshipped as a God by the people of a city he supposedly ruled after said rebelling.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Dragon Age II: Anders wants mage Hawke to be this since s/he is a charismatic individual and one of the most influential people in the city. Hawke can work with him without quite assuming the "leader" bit, actively oppose him, or joke that they just want to watch with snacks. In the endgame, siding with the mages turns Hawke into a worldwide symbol of resistance against Templars.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition: The Herald of Andraste is accused of being this in the beginning, with their detractors claiming that the Herald is taking advantage of the unrest in Thedas to claim power for themselves using the Inquisition. This is ignoring that not only is the Inquisition the only group actively trying to fix the problems in Thedas such as the gigantic tear in the fabric of reality, the Herald isn't even its leader (at least initially).
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • St. Alessia, founder of the First Cyrodiilic Empire, got her start as the leader of the Alessian Revolt, a rebellion of Cyrodiil's human slave population against their Ayleid masters. After escaping slavery herself, Alessia prayed to the Aedra for aid against the (primarily) Daedra-worshiping Ayleids. The Aedra answered as part of a Bargain with Heaven, sending aid (both subtle and direct). Alessia would further ally with the Nordic Empire and rebel Ayleid lords, eventually driving the hostile Ayleids out of Cyrodiil completely.
    • Throughout the backstory, the Reachmen (tribal inhabitants who are primitive in dress and technology of the Reach region in western Skyrim) have resisted all foreign conquerors dating all the way back to the time of the First Tamriellic Empire, thousands of years ago. Red Eagle was the first to unify the people of the Reach during the era of the First Empire. He was also the first to ally the Reachmen with the Hagravens, as well as the first to become a Briarheart. Durcorach the Black Drake was arguably the most successful leader of the Reachmen, even capturing the Ruby Throne of Cyrodiil for a time during the 2nd Era Interregnum.
    • Skyrim:
      • Ulfric Stormcloak serves in this role for the Stormcloak Rebellion. Of course how evil his enemies are and how moral he is is up for debate. While the Thalmor-led Aldmeri Dominion are Obviously Evil and The Empire signed a peace treaty, they hardly did it by choice, the conflict Ulfric started weakened them further (and gave the Thalmor an excuse to ensure the ban on Talos worship, something the Empire was happy to ignore until Ulfric started complaining about it, was being enforced) and the non-Nords (particularly the Dark Elf refuges and Argonians) of the city are freely abused with Fantastic Racism (especially those who don't want to take sides in the war). His treatment of the Forsworn also echoes his complaints about the Empire and it's implied the Thalmor have manipulated him into starting a civil war (while he was a POW, after being captured while serving in the Imperial army) to weaken Skyrim.
      • Meanwhile, the Forsworn, a terrorist group within the aforementioned Reachmen culture, has their own in Madanach, the King in Rags, who wants to see the Reach and its people granted independence. However, it's quite a stretch to call him a good guy, seeing as he's fully willing to commit genocide on the Nords if he gets his way. The game also implies that his warriors are cannibalistic rapists who wear the skin and bones of their victims as their armor.
  • Empire Earth: Russian dissident Grigor Illyanich Stoyanovich and General Sergei Molotov.
  • Final Fantasy VIII: Rinoa Heartilly leads the Forest Owls.
  • Final Fantasy XII: Princess Ashe leads the resistance.
  • Freedom Fighters (2003): Has Isabella as the moral leader but Chris Stone (aka, the Freedom Phantom, aka the player) doing the work.
  • Freelancer: Casper Orillion is the head of the Order, whose primary purpose is to oppose the Nomads in their plot to pit the four Houses against one another to weaken them.
  • Grim Fandango: Sal Limones, leader of the Lost Souls Alliance. His design evokes Real Life Latin American revolutionaries.
  • Halo:
    • Halo 2 has Sesa 'Refumee (referred to solely as "the Heretic Leader" in-game), who leads a small rebellion against the Prophets after learning the truth about the Forerunners and the Halo rings from 343 Guilty Spark, but ends up being killed by Arbiter Thel 'Vadamee. Ironically enough, 'Vadamee himself later takes on this role for the Elites as a whole.
    • Admiral Mattius Drake, the leader of the New Colonial Alliance, managed to be both this and The Mole since he was a UNSC admiral until his true allegiance was discovered after a small NCA force attempted to steal the UNSC Infinity.
    • In Halo Wars 2, Atriox leads the Banished, a faction that had rebelled against the Covenant while the latter was still fighting humanity.
    • The most infamous figure of the early Insurrection was Colonel Robert Watts, a Marine defector who became the main founder of the United Rebel Front. The Spartan-IIs' very first mission involved capturing him.
  • Jak and Daxter: Torn from the second game.
  • MechQuest: Odessa Pureheart, the leader of the Soluna Defense Forces and part of Slugwrath's Elite Guard, who takes up arms against the Kingadent after Slugwrath, who is actually a Quisling for the Shadowscythe, had her ship sabotaged, causing it to malfunction.
  • Mega Man Zero: Ciel from this series. Elpizo takes over during Zero 2, giving Ciel time to try to end the Maverick Wars peacefully.
  • In the interactive romance novel Moonrise, Chika leads the Rogue faction in fighting the restrictions of the Masquerade, and player can make their dream of The Unmasqued World a reality.
  • Red Dead Redemption: Abraham Reyes is a negative version of this, being an egotistical Glory Hound whose talents solely consist of using fancy words to rile up peasants. Of course, John doesn't care as long as Reyes can get him to Bill Williamson and Javier Escuela (which he does). In the epilogue, as Presidente, he does not improve Mexico in any way and becomes just another dictator.
  • ReVOLUTION (2002): The Resistance has one, and his name is Marcus.
  • The Secret World features Shani, head of the Maraya resistance fighters in their struggle against the Atenists. A hardened desert warrior, Shani serves as the Marya's lone grounding in reality, in contrast to the inexperienced young men and women under her leadership - and of course, the ever-eccentric Nassir.
    • Also, it's revealed that Tutankhamun actually served as this to the first generator of the Marya, having founded the "Young Warriors" in his attempts to unseat his father, Akhenaten.
    • Arguably the most spectacular example to be found in the entire game is Theodore Wicker; an Oxford-educated demonologist and portal mage turned Demon of Human Origin, he's currently leading a demonic revolution in Hell to overthrow the Devil himself and restore Hell to the paradise it once was.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • The Heroine of Shin Megami Tensei I leads the Resistance against the Japanese military coup forces and the American military, until she is killed during the Great Cataclysm.
    • Devil Survivor 2 has Ronaldo Kuriki, ironically representing the Law alignment.
  • Sonic Forces: After Dr. Eggman conquers the world in Sonic's absence, Knuckles the Echidna forms a Resistance group against him.
  • StarCraft I: Arcturus Mengsk originally when he lead the Sons of Korhal against the Confederacy, but later took over as The Emperor. Raynor later takes this role in StarCraft II.
  • Suikoden: Odessa Silverburg, until Tir (the hero) takes over. The protagonist in most, if not all, of the other Suikodens.
  • Tachyon: The Fringe: Susan Bradley is the unofficial leader of the Bora in their fight against the corporate giant GalSpan. Far from being merely a political voice, she personally leads an elite squadron of Space Fighters called Susan's Lance on some of the most daring strikes deep in "Spanner" space. Your Mission Control and Love Interest Anna Highfall (if you side with the Bora) is absolutely in awe of Susan.
  • Tales of Symphonia: Yuan is one of the more cynical versions of this. He means well, but his methods are morally debatable.
  • The Witcher 2: Saskia the Dragonslayer leads the rebels of the city of Vergen, attempting to carve out a queendom without the massive Fantastic Racism that the rest of the world suffers from.
  • In XCOM 2, technically you are one in a Featureless Protagonist sort of way, since you're the Commander of a global resistance trying to overthrow Vichy Earth's government and retake the planet. The War of the Chosen adds three more, each with their own distinct resistance group: Konstantine "Volk" Volikov of the Reapers, a grizzled survivalist who shuns alien technology; Betos of the Skirmishers, the first Rogue Drone among the aliens' hybrid peacekeepers who seeks to liberate her kind and overthrow their enslavers; and "Geist" of the Templars, head of a cult of psionicists that believes the alien Elders are subverting Earth's psychic potential. Unfortunately, the three groups all hate each other - the Reapers despise the Skirmishers over the losses suffered when the latter were still part of ADVENT and hunting the former, the Skirmishers look down upon the Reapers' habit of eating the aliens they defeat, both factions consider the Templars a bunch of psionics-obsessed lunatics, and the Templars in turn sneer at the other groups for being blind to the "true nature of the world." Winning these leaders' trust through joint operations and mutual aid is a vital part of strategic gameplay.

    Web Animation 
  • Cult of Personality has a villainous example in the form of the oWn Medic. He formed oWn in an attempt to rebel against BLU, the company he used to work with, and their rival RED. He does so by assimilating mercenaries from both companies through propaganda or by defeating them in combat, proving his superiority. With a sizable enough army, he invaded numerous territories of RED and BLU, taking in defects from both companies.
  • Minecraft Endventures: An unnamed man who built the Rebel City and desires to defeat the Endermaster.

  • Homestuck: The Summoner and the Sufferer led two major revolts in Alternia and are also Tavros and Karkat's ancestors. The former is responsible for Alternia becoming a Teenage Wasteland, as the troll empress responded to his revolt by banning all adult trolls from Alternia, while the latter is so infamous even mentioning the symbols of his rebellion in one's private journal is grounds for execution. Not that this stops Mindfang from talking about it.
  • The Order of the Stick: Deconstructed twice.
  • Milhamah Fighting Words: Tiqwah Tawit sees herself as the executive director of the Holy Tongue Society. She has to jockey for position with the protagonist Shem Etzem.
  • Unsounded: Elarosny is the leader of the Aldish rebel group the March.

    Web Originals 
  • Fire Emblem On Forums has a few examples:
    • Chains of Horai: Noriaki Kiritani, mysterious leader of the Amatsuan Resistance. It's confirmed that he's one of the Cursed, thirteen individuals cursed to turn into animals from the Eastern Zodiac, and may thus be linked to the Empress.
    • Mortal Transgressions: Kane, leader of Virtuous, leads a violent group to overthrow the corrupt kingdoms of Purgus, and is a Well-Intentioned Extremist willing to do what it takes to get it done.

    Western Animation 
  • Jet from Avatar: The Last Airbender seems to fit the typical rebel hero, right down to causing a love triangle, until the kids learn how far he's willing to go.
  • In The Legend of Korra (sequel to the above-mentioned Avatar) we have Book 1's Big Bad, Amon, who is leading an anti-bending movement.
  • Lard Nar on Invader Zim, though he and the rest of the Resisty only appeared in one episode before the show got canceled.
  • Candace-2 in Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension'' is the leader of Resistance in 2nd dimension.
  • T.J. Detweiler from Recess for the rest of the students.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM): Sonic himself leads the Freedom Fighters after the world is conquered by Dr. Robotnik.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Cham Syndulla is the leader of the rebellion against Separatist occupation of Ryloth.
  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla are the co-leaders of the rebel cell tied to the Ghost. They have contact with Bail Organa, one of the founders of the Rebel Alliance, and Hera goes on to become the leader of Phoenix Squadron and after Kanan's death a General in the Rebel Alliance.
    • Cham Syndulla is the leader of the rebellion on Ryloth, and while he opposes becoming mixed up in the wider rebellion against the Empire his actions during the Clone Wars have given him experience and Twi'lek support.
    • Ezra Bridger becomes one near the end of the series, leading the effort to liberate Lothal.
  • Caleb from W.I.T.C.H. leads an underground rebellion in Meridian while searching for the rightful heir. He is 15 when he meets the Guardians in the 1st episode and has presumably been leading for at least a year before then.
  • In Steven Universe, Rose Quartz was the former leader of the Crystal Gems, a rebel group that opposed the destruction of all life on Earth at the hands of their Homeworld. She was also the leader of the Homeworld colony on Earth in her true self as Pink Diamond. She created the rebellion as an excuse for her to abandon the colonization effort because she had grown to love Earth and humanity and knew that the colony would be their doom. Sadly, her senior Diamonds refused to allow the colonization effort to end, forcing Pink Diamond to take more drastic measures, with dire consequences.
  • Both Rick and Bird Person were this against the oppressive Galactic Federation in Rick and Morty.
  • The Scotsman and his daughters had formed one during the Time Skip in Samurai Jack.

    Real Life 
  • Older Than Feudalism: Assyrian history springs to mind, which mostly consisted of very brutal conquest and the invariable (and even more brutally quelled) rebellions afterwards. Marduk-apla-iddina II, known as Merodach-Baladan from The Bible was particularly tenacious.
  • The Roman Republic as per legend, was founded by a rebellion led by Lucius Brutus (ancestor of the assassin) against Tarquin.
    • The Republic in turn faced many internal rebellions against the aristocratic senate led by populares such as the Gracchi brothers and Gaius Marius. This was followed by slave rebellions, most famously the Third Servile War led by Spartacus (Karl Marx's all-time favorite hero). Julius Caesar was initially a rebel against the aristocratic optimates before he crowned himself dictator, at which point his assassins (including Marcus Junius Brutus, descendant of Rome's founder) called themselves the Liberators and became rebels against Caesar's party who had seized Rome.
    • The Roman Empire encountered many famous rebels: Queen Boudicca of the Celts, Arminius of the Germans, the Sicarii, and the Zealots of Jewish Revolts followed by Simon Bar Kohkba, Queen Zenobia of Palmyra.
  • Hereward the Wake rebelled against the invasion of the Normans. There were also peasant rebellions including one led by Wat Tyler, aristocratic rebellions by the English Barons in two wars, Scottish rebels (Robert the Bruce and William Wallace) against Edward I; princely rebellions during the Wars of the Roses, the Roundheads led by Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War and the Jacobites during the Hanover-Stuart Wars.
  • George Washington and the Founding Fathers during The American Revolution.
    • Upon coming to power, Washington and the Founding Fathers faced a rebellion of unpaid soldiers against the New Republic led by Daniel Shays. After that, there were Native American rebellions, one of the prominent ones was led by Tecumseh during the War of 1812. This would be followed by slave revolts, including ones led by Nat Turner, followed later by John Brown who attacked Harper's Ferry so as to capture guns for a Slave Liberation. During the Civil Rights Era, Malcolm X and later, Martin Luther King and the Black Panthers became the Icon of Rebellion against the establishment.
    • Of course the South during The American Civil War were technically rebelling against the Union, so as to preserve their "liberty" to maintain and perpetuate slavery. As such generals such as Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee became seen, in romantic Southern historiography, as rebel leaders as well.
  • The French Revolution is mostly an aversion. It is distinguished from the American (Washington, Jefferson) and English Revolutions (Oliver Cromwell) is lacking a single dominating leader, thanks in part to its High Turnover Rate, the fact many of the significant events such as the Storming of the Bastille, the Women's March to Versailles and the Storming of the Tuileries were spontaneous crowd events. Leaders at different stages were Mirabeau and Lafayette (1789-1791), Danton and Marat (1791-1793), Robespierre and Saint-Just (1792-1794).
    • The Revolution in turn provoked internal rebellion in the Vendee and the Britanny. Henri de la Rochejacquelin, the young royalist, became a legendary figure for his youth and courage, while Jean Cottereau, a smuggler and suspected murderer, became celebrated by Restoration writers as a reactionary fantasy of a Robin Hood who rose against an "unlawful" republic while living in the forest with his merry men. The Directory Government provoked a rebellion by ex-Jacobins and ex-Radicals led by Gracchus Babeuf and another rebellion by royalists which was later suppressed by Napoleon.
    • Toussaint Louverture was the leader of the Haitian Revolution which rose against the slave-run French colony and initially opposed France until the Jacobin Republic abolished slavery in 1794, at which point he allied with the French. When Napoleon sought to restore slavery, however, the Haitians revolted against France again and Toussaint died in captivity in France. Louis Delgrès, a Mulatto Revolutionary in Guadeloupe, likewise revolted against Napoleon in 1802. Delgrès and his allies, 300 of them, committed mass suicide by igniting stocks of gunpowder rather than surrender. Both Toussaint and Delgrès were later honored in the Pantheon, the Republican Hall of Fame.
  • The Indian Independence Movement saw several rebels against the British Raj. Among them: Lokmanya Tilak, Lala Lajpatrai, Bhagat Singh, Subhash Chandra Bose, Jawaharlal Nehru and of course, Mahatma Gandhi.
    • Other figures invoked as rebels in pre-colonial eras include Dulla Bhatti, a Muslim Rajput who revolted against the Emperor Akbar and became an outlaw figure. The Gurus of the Sikh Religion also formed themselves to fight the Mughals, the 10th and last one, Guru Gobind Singh was assassinated by the Mughal government. The Emperor Aurangzeb was so unpopular that he provoked many rebellions. The Maratha Empire formed itself in guerilla campaigns led by Shivaji against the Mughals and their governors.
    • Ironically, during the 1857 Mutiny against the East India Company, the Sepoys and other kings sought to restore the Mughals and Bahadur Shah Zafar, the highly reluctant ruler of the Mughal Vestigial Empire, became an icon of rebellion, as did many other Kings and noblemen including Nana Sahib, Tatya Tope and of course the Lakshmibai, the Rani of Jhansi.
  • The leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland, especially Patrick Pearse and James Connolly, as well as their successors in The Irish Revolution, most notably Michael Collins.
  • Latin American Libertadores, such as Simón Bolívar, Jose de San Martin, Bernardo O'Higgins, Francisco de Miranda and Antonio Jose de Sucre.
  • The Philippines, having been a colony for nearly 500 years (and still controlled for the most part by colonially installed elites or their descendants), has no shortage of these, falling into two major classes:
    • Independence leaders against foreign colonists (such as Andrés Bonifacio and Emilio Aguinaldo, two of the most prominent revolutionary leaders against Spain; Aguinaldo then went on to fight the United States, along with the likes of people like General Antonio Luna and the young General Gregorio del Pilar, both stars of recent sensationalist Biopics when it reneged on its promise to guarantee Philippine independence), and
    • Leaders of mass-based peasant movements against elite domination and repression (most notably Luis Taruc, head of the Hukbalahapnote  movement).
    • Since The '60s there have also been rebel movements amongst the oppressed Muslim minority, including the Moro National Liberation Front, which itself produced a more religiously motivated splinter group with a funny acronym, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
  • Comrade Lenin during the Russian Revolution, and his fellow Bolsheviks. The Anti-Stalinist Left invoked Leon Trotsky and Nikolai Bukharin, as rebel figures to promote an alternative Marxism against Josef Stalin.
  • Henk Sneevliet and Paul de Groot during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands very nearly got the entire Communist Party of the Netherlands to rise up against the Nazis. Sneevliet was captured and executed, De Groot became a successful politician after the war.
  • Josip Broz Tito was this for the Yugoslav partisans in World War II and is perhaps second to De Gaulle in being the most known resistance leader of the conflict. In the Cold War, he somewhat played this role as a notable figure in the non-aligned movement opposed to both Western and Soviet dominance even though Yugoslavia remained on decent terms with both blocs.
  • Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega, Augusto Cesar Sandino, and Farabundo Marti in Central America. Sandino in particular helped inspire Castro, alongside Cuban national hero and rebel leader Jose Marti.
  • Che Guevara was most successful when he served alongside Castro, proving a great tactician. But as a poor strategist and without someone like Castro to back him up in that department, he didn't succeed on his own in the Congo and finally in Bolivia, where he was captured and executed.
  • Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, and the CCP were this during the late '20s and early '30s where they were brutally persecuted by the KMT. Mao led a rebellion in the '40s and brought the Communists to power. He eventually became a power-crazed dictator and raised hell during the Cultural Revolution by provoking a total rebellion from below, ordered from above, against his party and society.
  • Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the leader of the Libyan rebels.
  • Charles de Gaulle, the leader of the French French Forces in World War II. They were considered as rebels by the government of Vichy. The Resistance on the other hand saw themselves as defenders and restorers of the Third Republic against a bunch of Les Collaborateurs.
  • Ho Chi Minh was a rebel against Japanese occupiers and French colonialists in the late 40s and 50s. Among the American anti-war left, despite being the leader of the North Vietnamese government, he was seen as a rebel against the US Government.
    • The Vietnamese have a long history of doing this. Almost every dynasty started with a peasant revolution that overthrew a corrupt dynasty or foreign colonizers/invaders (usually China). Then, the established dynasty becomes corrupt itself - rinse and repeat. This is a feature of the system, not a bug. The Sinosphere equivalent to the "divine right of Kings", the Mandate of Heaven, has the right to rebellion as an intrinsic idea to keep royal power in check. If an Emperor is rebelled against and loses the throne, he has lost the Mandate because Heaven has deemed him unfit to rule.
    • In addition, for one successful rebellion, there are a handful of failed ones whose leaders nevertheless were memorialized: the Trưng sisters, Lady Triệu, the Tây Sơn dynasty note , etc.
    • The only example of a nonviolent transfer of power note  was orchestrated by Trần Thủ Độ, whose politicking led to the throne being passed to 7-year-old Lý Chiêu Hoàng, her marriage to 7-year-old Trần Cảnh, and her subsequent abdication, ending the Lý dynasty and establishing the Trần dynasty. Emperor Bảo Đại's abdication from the Nguyễn dynasty does not count, as by that point the Nguyễn government had become a puppet of the French, which had violently invaded Vietnam.
  • Many, many, many organizers of anarchist movements, especially Nestor Makhno and Errico Malatesta.
  • Adolf Hitler during the Beer Hall Putsch. Subverted in 1933 when he was appointed chancellor by President Paul von Hindenburg.
  • Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini during the Iranian Revolution, and is still venerated as the defining example of this trope in Iran.
  • Nelson Mandela was a rebel who opposed the Apartheid Regime and led the African National Congress. Upon release from prison, he became the President of post-Apartheid South Africa.
  • Ahmad Shah Massoud in Afghanistan, known as the Lion of Panjshir. Against the Soviet invasion first, then against Mullah Omar's Taliban regime.
  • According to North Korean propaganda, Kim Il-sung was an awesome guerrilla leader who single-handedly kicked the Japanese out of Korea. Actually, that was mainly done by the Soviet Union in the north and the United States in the south. In the West, it's generally believed that Kim was an actual anti-Japanese Korean guerrilla (of which there were many) whose importance in the war was wildly exaggerated by later propaganda. However, there's a somewhat fringe theory that Kim stole the identity of a dead guerrilla leader in order to boost his popularity.
  • Gustav Vasa of Sweden started out as this. Daring escapes, peasant rallying, and sufficient motivation. After kicking out the Danish occupiers he waged war with the German merchants that paid for the rebellion to avoid having to pay his debts, broke with the Pope, and beat down a dozen rebellions from the farmers that helped him take the crown. He used his 40 years on the throne to bring Sweden out of the middle ages.
  • Francisco Franco, Jose Sanjurjo and Emilio Mola led a military uprising against the Second Spanish Republic which started in 1936.
  • Georgios Grivas was a Greek Cypriot military officer who led an insurgency against the British colonial government in Cyprus which lasted from 1955 to 1959.