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Rebel Prince

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King Francis: I will simply deny you the crown... and... live forever!
Prince Henry: Good. Agreed. I don't want it.

Charming or not, he's the spear counterpart to the Rebellious Princess; born to privilege as the Heir apparent of a kingdom, company, or some other sort of organization who does not want to assume whatever his princely responsibilities are. Always Male because kings and C.E.O.s tend to think only a son deserves the inheritance, and when it is the daughter, she always seems to want it passed on to her. The problem with a Rebellious Princess, on the other hand, is that she has the royal position but none of the inheritance that her brothers have. The Prince does not necessarily dislike government; in fact, any aristocrat who opposes a hereditary government despite his position would qualify. Perhaps he prefers democracy over simply inheriting a position by bloodline.

It might be justified by circumstances in the story, or he might straight up just not be born for his stuffy charmed life. Of course, just because he doesn't want his responsibilities, it doesn't mean that he won't take advantage of the privileges his lifestyle has to offer like an ungrateful teenager or Sheltered Aristocrat. Often, after he learns to accept his responsibilities he will end up becoming The Wise Prince.

See also Rejecting the Inheritance and Royal Brat. Contrast Reluctant Ruler who's immediately ready to be The Wise Prince. Also contrast The Evil Prince who's rebelling against his father about who gets to be king, not because he doesn't want to be king. Being a Prince Charming who wants to marry for love instead of station isn't enough to qualify. Also, he can put himself in danger like a Warrior Prince or Knight in Shining Armor but still say he wants to be a good king. If he says that he doesn't want to be king, that's what makes him count. In each example, please state when he refused or wanted to refuse his inheritance.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Justified by Kaoru Hanabishi from Ai Yori Aoshi, who went from reluctant to rebellious. He was the eldest son of the head of the Hanabishi Zaibatsu and was set to take over the zaibatsu after his father retired. Yet Kaoru never felt at home in the Hanabishi family and left to live alone in self-imposed exile after his mother died. Not to mention, there's the physical and mental abuse that his tyrannical grandfather subjected him to...
  • Lelouch from Code Geass may count as this, but it's hard to tell since the writers play with this trope in every way possible. He definitely hates Britannia's Social Darwinism and initially wishes to destroy the empire he ends up taking over. In the end, he and his rival/best friend/frenemy learn to compromise for the sake of taking over and unifying the world.
    • Renouncing his entitlement to the throne as Lelouch did in the beginning is, in fact, the very thing every rebel prince wishes he would do.
    • To a slight degree, Suzaku may count as well, though his father was the Prime Minister rather than the King.
  • Nobu in Nana is the heir of his family's Ryokan (Japanese inn), but he'd rather throw it away to just play the guitar.
  • Macross Frontier's Alto Saotome, while not technically royalty, counts. The heir to a well-known family of Kabuki actors, he instead went and pursued his dream of becoming a pilot.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam, although not royalty, the Zeon pilot Char Aznable is the son of the Zeon Zum Deikun, the original leader of the Republic of Zeon and proponent of space colonist independence. Char considers the Zabis, Zeon's current rulers (who may have assassinated Deikun), a perversion of what Deikun was striving for and joins the Zeon military with the intent of revenge against the Zabi family.

    Comic Books 
  • X-Wing Rogue Squadron: Eiattu IV went through an Anastasia-like purging of its royalty. Young princess Plourr and her little brother Harran survived and went off the radar. Years later, Harran resurfaces, leading the People's Liberation Movement against the nobility and Imperial occupiers alike, clearly uninterested in retaking the throne. As she's the elder, it's Plourr's anyway, but he resurfaced long before her and never made an attempt.
    • Though it turns out that Plourr murdered Harran when he tried to alert the murderers to her survival. She left him to be eaten by animals. This Harran is an Imperial agent.
  • Prince Elias Acorn in Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) turned out to be this: he was hidden away on Angel Island after Overlanders shot down the craft carrying him and his mother, Queen Alicia, and only returned prior to Robo-Robotnik's return. When King Acorn was taken out of action, Elias was forced to take over, with Geoffrey St. John as his Advisor, who abused that power to get back at Sonic. However, when Geoffrey and his men were revealed to be infected with nanites, Elias suffered a Heroic BSoD and fled, realizing that this sort of thing wouldn't have happened if he wasn't on the throne. Elias, however, is forced to return to prevent the Mirror Universe version of Antoine from taking the throne.
    • This was also Charmy Bee's original portrayal; he was a 16-year-old prince who even had a Perfectly Arranged Marriage waiting for him, but he couldn't stand being a prince, so he ran away from home and became a Freedom Fighter instead. When Sega asked Archie to make him more game-accurate, Archie complied by having Charmy become so brain-damaged that he reverted to a child-like persona. His pre-brain damage lore was then quietly swept under a rug.

    Comic Strips 
  • Mandrake the Magician: Lothar is the prince of a nation in Africa, but prefers to go around the world having adventures with Mandrake.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm: the premise is that James Potter was Thor incarnated as a mortal on a first run at the humility thing (it worked, right up until he got murdered). This makes Harry a Prince of Asgard, to his great surprise and significant chagrin - while he's very happy to have a family, he's not especially pleased about the vast expansion of his fame and the implicit expectations of an Asgardian Prince. He's more willing to accept the Asgardian, and royal, side of himself as time goes on, but he still tends to regard duties he doesn't see as necessary with thinly veiled irritation.

    Films — Animated 
  • The king in Cinderella seems to be of the opinion that his son is this, because he hasn't settled down and produced some heirs yet. This viewpoint gets a little more credit when the prince is acting very disinterested at the beginning of the ball, going as far as looking up at his father in the balcony and visibly yawning (in the film's time period, this could be likened to flipping the bird at his dad). Given even more credibility in the surprisingly-good Cinderella III: A Twist in Time. Once the Prince decides he's going after Cinderella, there is nothing his father can say to stop him. The king, to his credit, lets him go once he realizes how serious the Prince is about it.
  • The Lion King (1994): Simba becomes this trope after his father's death: he's actually manipulated into rejecting his birthright by Scar, who kills Mufasa and makes Simba feel responsible. He then stops being a Sheltered Aristocrat, runs away, and as an adult refuses to go back and take his place as king.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Prince Henry from Ever After finds it insufferable to be defined by his position.
  • In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor starts out eagerly seeking the throne for his own glory (and throwing a tantrum when his coronation is interrupted). However, after some Character Development revealed the Wise Prince underneath, he decided he wasn't ready for the throne, before concluding that he didn't want it at all as he felt that the pressures of rule meant he couldn't be a good king and a good man.
    • It's worth noting that he eventually takes the throne (albeit very reluctantly) in Thor: Ragnarok on the grounds that Asgard needs him and the current alternative is Hela. He still ends up handing off the job, but only after serious consideration and once a viable alternative leader appears in Valkyrie.
  • Aragorn from Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film adaptations chose exile instead of leadership of his people.
  • 2001's Princess of Thieves has Prince Philip, whose head aches just to contemplate a list of king's duties.
  • Eddie from The Prince & Me just didn't want to be Prince Edvard for once in his life.
  • Flicka's main character, Katy, McLaughlin has big dreams of administering her father's Wyoming horse ranch one day, but Rob, her father, wants her brother Howard to do such instead. Howard wants to let his sister take over so that he can attend college, but he has a hard time telling his father.
  • Spun differently in The Sword and the Sorcerer. The Lost Heir, having become a freebooting swashbuckler, positively gloats in a scene where he watches someone else grab the headaches of the crown "and all that goes with it."
  • Lord Henry Dashwood announced in What a Girl Wants that he was giving up his hereditary seat in the House of Lords to run for election as a commoner.
    Henry: Why should an accident of birth give me the right to make decisions for the people? The only power I want is the power the voters choose to give me. That's why I’m standing in this election.
  • "Waite Lifter", the ice man who is Ella's admirer in Ella Cinders, turns out to be the scion of a wealthy family. His father is appalled that his son has run off to work as an ice man.
  • Akeem from Coming to America is a downplayed example. While he isn't (initially, anyway) trying to renounce his birthright, he is trying to resist the excessive pampering treatment he receives, as well as his Arranged Marriage to an Extreme Doormat woman who is trained to do nothing but obey his every command. He travels to New York to pass as an impoverished foreign student, take a minimum wage job and live in very poor conditions, with the aim of finding a more empowered woman who has her own opinions. After he does fall in love with one, but she balks at finding out he is royalty, he is willing to sacrifice his throne to be with her. He doesn't have to, though.
  • In the 1997 version of Cinderella (Rodgers and Hammerstein), Prince Christopher enjoys slipping away from the palace and wandering the streets disguised as a commoner, resists his mother's efforts to marry him off because he wants to Marry for Love, and bonds with Cinderella because they both feel trapped by their lives and and long to be free.

  • Prince Johnathan is an inverted version in the Song of the Lioness books. He wants to defeat demons and become the Voice of the People to be the best king he can be. Still, he does feel trapped by his role as prince, and his resolve to marry Alanna instead of a princess is just as much an act of rebellion as of love. This is part of the reason why she rejects his proposal.
  • Sondok, Princess of The Moon And Stars: when young King Chinpyong came to the throne, he would hunt for days, completely ignoring the needs of the kingdom.
  • Emperor Gregor Vorbarra of Barrayar experiences this in The Vor Game. Played rather more for drama than usual: Gregor's "rebellion" came about as a result of throwing himself off a balcony, failing to die and deciding to make the best of it.
  • And in The Horse and His Boy, Prince Corin of Archenland is elated when his long-lost elder-by-three-minutes twin turns up.
    Prince Corin: I won't have to be king! […] Princes have all the fun!
  • Nevyn of the Deverry novels started out as this. As spare to the spare to the throne, another spare behind him, all he had to look forward to was a life spent hanging around the court and wasting his family's money. His father disagreed with his decision to take up dweomer as a hobby, resulting in his being disowned and kicking off the sequence of events that got three people killed and Prince Galrion of Deverry starting on the path that made him become Nevyn, Master of the Aethyr.
  • Johnny from the Cat Royal series is a rebel Lord who ends up leaving the country and abandoning all claims to his inheritance. When we see him again, he seems perfectly happy with this.
  • The historical fantasy The Stone Prince, from Fiona Patton's Tales of the Branion Realm series, is almost a retelling of Frederick the Great's youth with a somewhat happier ending. The Crown Prince isn't tough enough for his mother, wants a gay lover, disobeys her order to give up his boyfriend's name, and becomes a literal rebel prince by running off and raising an army, more to hurt her than to defend himself. His rebellion is quickly and violently crushed, but his mother is impressed by his determination, does not execute the survivors and even concedes to his wishes to an extent.
  • The eight-year-old Oak in the The Folk of the Air turns out to be one, rejecting his lineage as the heir of Elfhame and desiring to continue living life as a normal boy in the human realm.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Logan from Gilmore Girls fits this trope perfectly as the wild and reckless son of a newspaper/media mogul who expects him to grow up already and start getting ready to take over the corporate empire. He sums up the whole thing pretty well when Rory tries to encourage him, telling him he has countless doors open to him because of his position, and he responds that he sees only one door and is being pushed through it whether he likes it or not.
  • Initially, this was not a voluntary choice for Alain, the youngest prince of Ganma. His brother framed him for their father's murder, forcing him on the run. He would come to see the fault of his kind and become this trope of his own will.
  • The Syfy mini-series Alice reveals mid-way that Jack Chase is Prince Jack Heart, the Big Bad's son, helping Alice and the Wonderland Resistance to overthrow his mother.
  • There's Power Rangers Time Force with the Red Ranger, Wesley "Wes" Collins. Mr. Collins wanted Wes to grow up to inherit the family business from him, but his grooming served only to alienate Wes from everyone around him. He jumps at the chance to be a Rookie Red Ranger, as it's the first time in his life he's fought for anything.
  • Childlike Ascended Fanboy Hiro Nakamura of Heroes doesn't want to be his father's successor as CEO of Yamagato Industries and is obviously unsuited to the job. His sister, on the other hand, would like nothing more, but at first Kaito doesn't see this.
  • Stargate Atlantis establishes that Colonel Sheppard is one of these. He was the elder son of a late energy tycoon and fell out with his family when he joined the Air Force instead of taking over the family business. Not until his father's death do Sheppard and his brother attempt to reconcile.
  • Wilhelm of Young Royals (2021) is a very literal example; second in line to the throne of Sweden who wants nothing more than to live a normal life. Getting into a bar fight while underage and having it go viral online certainly proves to remind him of his social standing.


    Tabletop Games 
  • In Rocket Age Ellios, the heir to a Martian principality, does not wish to inherit the throne, instead wanting a chance to live his own life. Technically he's not a prince, since that would be his father, but his position is exactly the same.
  • Cyberpunk: Yorinobu Arasaka, upon finding out what his father planned for him after he came of age, left his father's palace in the middle of the night, and began fighting a guerilla war against his father's MegaCorp. However, by the time of Cyberpunk 2077 he's returned to the fold as an Arasaka executive, albeit one who still has ambitions of bringing his father down from within with his endgame being to destroy the company by running into the ground via massacring all higher-ups and plunging the company into an unwinnable war.

  • Ruthven Murgatroyd from Ruddigore runs away to avoid inheriting the baronetecy and a life of villainy.
  • Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid, particularly in the Broadway play in which he states he prefers life on the sea.
  • Prince Hal in Shakespeare's Henry IV (less so in Real Life) takes on this role as a PR gambit (mostly).
  • Fiyero Tiggular from the musical Wicked. He certainly takes advantage of his royal privileges, but he never shows any interest in actually inheriting the throne. Ultimately, he forgoes these responsibilities completely in order to be with Elphaba.
  • In Königskinder, the King's Son is the rightful bearer of the crown of a distant kingdom, but takes his royal upbringing so unseriously that he never introduces himself as a Prince, much less a King, a title he believes that he's too young for. As a result, many people fail to recognize him as royalty, and he suffers horribly for that.
  • Prince Harry in King Charles III, whose Spare to the Throne position behind his brother William has led to his laissez-faire attitude and carefree bachelor lifestyle — until he begins to date Jess, an opinionated Republican. As their relationship grows more serious, Prince Harry begins to believe that he'll find happiness and fulfillment if he rejects his royal duties and settles down with Jess to lead the life of a commoner. He goes so far as to request that his father Charles revoke his royal titles and inheritance, but he ultimately breaks up with Jess and retains his titles, dedicating himself (unhappily) to upholding the institution of British monarchy alongside his family. Ironically, he actually did the opposite of this in Real Life, ditching his titles for the sake of his family.

    Video Games 
  • Sabin from Final Fantasy VI bolts after disagreeing with the terms of succession to the throne, a coin flip between him and his twin brother Edgar.
    • More accurately, Sabin didn't want the throne but agreed to deciding it on a coin flip, heads he'd win, tails he'd lose. He "wins" and Edgar became king. Turns out that, knowing Sabin didn't want to be king, Edgar used a trick coin to ensure his brother a 100% win.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics has Ramza, who is not a prince, but is a son of the highborn Beoulve family. After witnessing how other nobles mistreated commoners, however, he forsook his lineage to live as a common mercenary.
  • Lyner Barsett from Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia before the start of the game: he'd rather protect Lady Shurelia instead. It's implied that the reason is that he still subconsciously remembers Misha, and if he takes Leard's place, he'll be responsible for putting Misha's daughter, granddaughter, and perhaps great-granddaughter through the same Training from Hell before sending them to sing their lives away to imprison a Sealed Evil in a Can. Thankfully, he manages to cause Mir to undergo a Heel–Face Turn and doesn't become Commander except possibly on Shurelia's route as the husband of the goddess.
  • The Fire Emblem series has quite a few of these, most of which are Hot-Blooded young princes who are more focused on being warriors than their duties as heirs of their nations.
    • Lex, Holin and Jamuka from Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War. Levin is this until the events of chapter 4.
    • Shanan takes up the Rebel Prince mantle in Part 2 since he's one of the leaders of Seliph's army which is hell-bent on destroying the tyrannical Empire of Grandbell. There's something of a subversion, however: while a rebel against the Empire, he also is the legitimate heir to the throne of Isaac (a nation of Proud Warrior Race Guys that was usurped and oppressed for years), and he intends to gain his homeland back to rebuild it. If he lives through the whole second part of the game, he succeeds.
    • Also Hector from Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, who, while still loyal to Ostia, decided to do things his own way.
    • Ephraim from Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones falls under this trope as well. He actually stated in a flashback that he would prefer that his sister Eirika take the throne while he could run off to become a mercenary. A large part of his Character Development in the game is his growing out of this trope.
  • Alistair of Dragon Age: Origins is the illegitimate son of a king, and while he knows that he might be considered an heir to the throne now that the latest king has been killed without an heir, he certainly doesn't want to be king: "I'm a follower, not a leader." However, it's possible to "harden" his personality and force him to mature, making him more willing to take power.
    • Dorian from Dragon Age: Inquisition is a young aristocrat from the mage-ruled Tevinter Empire who says himself that he was bred to be "the perfect leader". He's a highly skilled mage, intelligent, charming — and disillusioned with Tevinter's values (definitely not helped when he discovered his family's plans to "fix" the fact that he wasn't willing to be married off and produce heirs) and a believer it could do so much better than maintaining a reputation as an entire kingdom of Evil Sorcerers and left it altogether to join the Inquisition "because it's the right thing to do". Eventually, he may be inspired by the Inquisition to go back to Tevinter and try to fix some of the problems instead of just running away from them.
  • In Hades, the player character is Prince Zagreus, Hades's disobedient son. As a Roguelike, the game's main objective is for Zagreus to escape the Underworld to find his lost mother Persephone.
  • Discussed between Traiya Scott and King in Third Super Robot Wars Z: Tengoku-hen. For the longest time, she tried to think of why his son wanted to change the world. It was because he wanted to destroy Chrono's grip on the world. King sighs. He told Carlos about the nature of Chrono and the fate of the Axion men to bear the title of King, just after Carlos graduated from university. And until the day that they he would take the title for himself, King told his son to do whatever he pleased. And he ended up making the world's largest corporation. In order to fight Chrono, and his old man. And it was because Carlos was like that, that Elgan Laudic gave him the Swaying Scales to pass on.
  • Troubleshooter: Abandoned Children: Sion is a downplayed example. While he did reject his family heritage and his personal privileges and duties in favor of trying his luck on his own in Valhalla, he has stayed in touch with his family, regularly writing letters to his mother. His family, on the other side, disapprove, but they are also grudgingly proud that he protecting people, and is good enough at it to make headlines.

    Western Animation 
  • With the reveal that Rose Quartz is actually Pink Diamond in Steven Universe, this reveals that Steven is technically Gem royalty. Because Pink Diamond faked her own death, leaving her alias Rose Quartz as Homeworld's most wanted, the odds of Steven being given his birthright (willingly or otherwise) is slim at best.

    Real Life 
  • From the British Royal House: King Edward VIII (who abdicated the throne to his younger brother George, father of Queen Elizabeth II, in order to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson). Generally considered, these days, to be colossally fortunate for Great Britain specifically and for the free world in general: Edward was an admirer of the German Chancellor of the period, one Adolf Hitler; his abdication being viewed as pretty much a real-life case of Nice Job Fixing It, Villain.
    • And now Prince Harry, former Spare to the Throne (his older brother now has three children), has resigned from all his royal duties and positions, taking the position of Duke of Sussex, and has chosen to leave the UK along with his wife and son. The behaviour of the more unapologetically vile British Newspapers after he chose to marry a biracial American woman is apparently to blame, though that was apparently the icing on the cake in a long and fractious relationship with said newspapers, which he blames (and not without good reason) for his mother Diana's death. He outright stated that he feared the same thing would happen again, this time to his wife, and he decided that he wasn't having it.
  • The early life of Frederick the Great reads like a nasty Deconstruction of the Rebel Prince. Tyrannical, controlling father whom he doesn't get along with? Check. Enjoys scholarly and artistic things his father doesn't approve of? Check. Resents the idea of an arranged marriage? Check. Plans to run away and start a new life with his best friend and possible lover? Check. Gets caught, is made to watch as his father has his friend beheaded, suffers a Heroic BSoD, and never talks about it again? ...Err.
  • The anarcho-communist philosopher Pyotr (Peter) Kropotkin was born the heir to the title of Prince. Under the influence of republican teachings, he dropped his princely title at the age of 12 and even rebuked his friends when they called him by title. He held a great respect for the common worker, and because of his political activism and ideologies, he was sometimes called "the Anarchist Prince". As Oscar Wilde said: "A man with a soul of that beautiful white Christ which seems coming out of Russia."
  • Prince Dmitri Gallitzin (also known as Augustine Smith, the name he took up as an American), a Russian aristocrat-turned-Catholic priest on the American frontiers at the beginning of 19th century who became known as "the Apostle of the Alleghenies." He did not just abandon his noble title and inheritance, he converted to a foreign religion not held in high regard by most Russians, became a Catholic priest (he was the first Catholic priest ordained in United States), and migrated to the frontiers of the New World. (doubly ironic since the House of Gallitzin is actually Lithuanian in origin and traces its ancestry to a Lithuanian prince of the House of Gediminas who putatively sided with the Orthodoxy and Russia rather than Catholicism and Poland when Lithuania became Christian—perhaps being a rebel prince runs in the family.).
  • Dom Pedro I, the founder of Brazil and the "Liberator" of both Brazil and Portugal. During the Napoleonic Wars, the Portuguese royal house had to abandon Lisbon for Rio de Janeiro. After the war, the king left his son, Prince Pedro, as the regent in Brazil. During the 1820s, Pedro defeated numerous insurrectionist movements and reformed the government of Brazil based on liberal principles instead of an absolute monarchy, helped create the Brazilian nation instead of many squabbling fiefdoms in conflict among themselves, and, in so doing, also clashed with the reactionary elements of the old regime, upon whose defeat he proclaimed a new country, Brazil, as a constitutional monarchy. Upon the death of his father, he briefly became the king of Portugal as well, but he abdicated only after a few months and returned to Brazil. In 1831, however, Portugal (and Spain) fell into revolutionary chaos with the liberal reformers clashing with reactionaries, Dom Pedro abdicated, returned to Europe, raised an army of volunteers, and offered his services as a mere citizen to his own daughter who became the legitimate ruler of Portugal after his abdication (from the Portuguese throne) but had been overthrown since by the reactionaries. His campaign in Europe was cut short, however, as he died of illness in 1834.
  • Siddhartha Gautama was born a Sheltered Aristocrat and lived the ensuing lifestyle until he discovered the outside world's misery and suffering. This prompted him to abandon his home and royal trappings against his family's wishes to become the founder of Buddhism. His wife, a noblewoman, later joined him as one of the Buddhist nuns.


Video Example(s):


Grey's Childhood

Grey is born into an aristocratic family but, even in his early years, dreams of sailing and naval battles.

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