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Short-Lived Leadership

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We are the mediocre presidents!
You won't find our faces on dollars or on cents
There’s Taylor, there’s Tyler, there’s Fillmore and there’s Hayes
There’s William Henry Harrison
“I died in thirty days!”

Being a leader is hard work. Whether someone is commanding an entire nation or just heading a Five-Man Band, there's a lot of trouble that can come with the job. Power can make people go mad, expose them to a lot of stress, and even if they somehow manage to stay sane and happy, they still need to worry about finding an heir or enforcing the rules. Sometimes, however, certain leaders don't have to face the potential problems that come with being in charge.

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That's because they stop being the leader before anything can even happen.

Whether they die, get overthrown, or step down, this character's time being a leader is unusually short-lived. In some cases, this may be all said leader is remembered for. Other times, their time may be so short they aren't remembered at all; sometimes this is due to the leader being turned into an Un-person for being so bad at their job while they had it. They may be just a tragic victim to an ongoing conflict, like a war or rebellion, or they may simply have been in poor health when the role was given to them. They may even end up stepping down, sometimes being Gracefully Demoted.

Whatever the reason is, this leader barely has a chance to be a leader, and the most notable thing about their reign is often how short it is. If Played for Drama, this can lead to multiple different scenarios, such as the victory of a rebellion, a succession crisis, or the conquest of a villain. Played for Laughs, and this trope usually pops up as backstory where the gag is how ridiculously short the leadership actually was.

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Can be Truth in Television.

Contrast Permanent Elected Official, where a leader manages to stay in charge for an unusually long time.

As the fall of a leader is often a major plot point, beware of unmarked spoilers.

This list of examples has been alphabetized/ordered chronologically. Please add your example in the proper place. Thanks!


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk: The mercenary group named the Band of the Hawk manages to put an end to the Hundred Years War opposing Midland and Tudors by capturing the fortress of Doldrey by themselves. For this feat, Griffith is made a general (and foils an assassination attempt on himself) and the band becomes the White Phoenix Knights. A month later, Guts feels he has nowhere left to go after this and decides to leave the Band. Griffith tries to stop him but is handily defeated, causing him to have a massive breakdown that ends with him sleeping with Princess Charlotte, leading to Griffith's arrest and the Band being outlawed on the next day, along with his torture for two years.
  • Naruto:
    • When Tsunade (the 5th Hokage) falls into coma after her attempts to protect Konoha's people from Pain's invasion, Danzo Shimura, one of the elders of Konoha, nominates himself acting Hokage for the meeting between the Five Kages in the Land of Iron. After the meeting's over, he gets ambushed by Sasuke and then dies in battle. Because of this, Danzo is never considered the Sixth Hokage. Kakashi Hatake is then nominated to become Hokage, but Tsunade recovers literally seconds before he is about to be confirmed by the elders. (Kakashi has a better luck after the Fourth Ninja World War, as he is properly promoted to Sixth Hokage after Tsunade retires, and rules for a considerable amount of time.) Played for Laughs in the anime, when the guy who carves the Hokage likenesses gets exasperated when he has to pause his work by the news of Danzo's passing, and then again by the news of Tsunade's recovery.
    • After the "Rescue Gaara" arc, Kakashi suffers a Heroic RRoD as a result of his usage of Kamui. Tsunade appoints one of Kakashi's friends, Yamato, as a temporary leader for Naruto, Sakura, and their new teammate Sai. Together, they try to go after their rogue friend Sasuke, but the mission ends in failure; Kakashi gets well soon afterward to take the position back. Not long after, Yamato also becomes the temporary leader of Team 8 (Kiba, Shino and Hinata) as their leader Kurenai is on a maternity leave.
  • Pecola has an episode where the titular character participates in an election for becoming the town's mayor. Due to everyone getting the idea to jokingly vote for him, he ends up winning and promptly launches his victory fireworks, much to everyone's horror. After about 30 seconds of utter chaos, Pecola announces resigning from his position. Why? Because he got a stomach ache from eating all the pudding he promised to everyone.
  • Fairy Tail
    • After Makarov, Master of Fairy Tail and the others return after the first Time Skip, Makarov asks Gildarts to be Fairy Tail's Master. Gildarts accepts, reinstates Laxus (Makarov's grandson, whom Makarov had expelled several arcs ago) to the guild and then gives the Master position back to Makarov. It can be inferred that Makarov knew Gildarts would do that, and made him Master to allow Laxus back into Fairy Tail without losing face by going back on the decision to expel him.
    • After the second Time Skip, Erza briefly becomes Master when Fairy Tail reforms, but Makarov becomes Master yet again after they bring him back from the Alvarez Empire.

    Asian Animation 
  • Simple Samosa:
    • The episode "Kheer" revolves around the chaos caused by the magic pudding Samosa receives and feeds his friends. Among the side effects is that Chatpata Nagar's mayor, Royal Falooda, is drained of all his pink bubbly liquidnote , which is treated as him being naked, and winds up exposed to a crowd in this state. The crowd is not impressed and names Dhokla the new mayor; the next day, Samosa feeds Dhokla the same pudding, resulting in him growing into a giant, and Samosa undoes the damage caused by the pudding and gets Falooda back to being mayor in no time - not even 24 hours after being replaced by Dhokla.
    • The episode "Mayor Gaayab" begins with Mayor Royal Falooda running away and leaving his job open. The first person to take his place is Cham Cham, who proves so egotistical (he renames the town "Cham Cham Nagar" and forces taxes on everything, as well as bossing everyone around and making them do his bidding) that Samosa gets Mr. Fried Fritter, a strongman and exercise freak, to usurp him. Once Fritter becomes mayor, he makes everyone exercise at the sound of his whistle, which seems a bit frustrating as well but isn't actually railed against because the muscular guy flushes himself down the toilet by accident before that can happen. This episode takes place in the span of only a few days.
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    Comic Books 
  • In the 90s, the Kree were briefly ruled by two admirals who'd seized power from a con artist who'd managed (via a zany scheme gone spectacularly well) to usurp the Supreme Intelligence. They rule the Empire for about a year or so, our time, before in the events of Operation: Galactic Storm, the Intelligence arranges for them to be murdered by Deathbird.
  • The Transformers: Robots in Disguise:
    • Bumblebee, having been elected leader of the Autobots in the previous series, takes over when Optimus goes on sabattical. In the space of about a year, he has to deal with Metalhawk undermining him, the Neutrals hating him, Prowl apparently going right off the deep end, and the Decepticons. Then Shockwave blows a hole in him.
    • Before Optimus was Prime, there was Zeta. It's not made absolutely definite how long Zeta was in charge, but Cybertronians can live for millions of years. Zeta didn't make it to a hundred before Megs blew his head off.

    Fan Works 
  • The King Nobody Wanted: The death of Haegon II in a battle near Pentos ushered in a brief era of this for the Blackfyres — Haegon's eldest son Haegon III "ruled" for one attempted charge in the same battle, his seven-year old second son Aegor was the Blackfyre pretender for a few months before dying of a fever, after which their cousin Daemon Blackfyre IV reigned as Blackfyre pretender for only a week before being killed by his cousin Maelys while Daemon's own sister (who became a lieutenant of Maelys as well as his heir) laughed.
  • In Loved and Lost, the extended retelling of the 2nd season finale of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Prince Jewelius overthrows the princesses right after Twilight Sparkle stops the Changeling invasion (which he started with Queen Chrysalis before double-crossing her) by tricking the shaken public into believing that all the other heroes but Twilight are to blame for the invasion. For one whole week, he then enjoys his new status as "Holy King Jewelius I" who has Twilight as his student and fiancée, but his urge to personally murder his aunt Celestia and cousin Cadance causes him to lure the banished heroes back to Canterlot and brag about his success in their faces. After the heroes and the entire Changeling army have escaped from his clutches, he single-mindedly focuses on destroying the heroes and completely ignores the Changelings to the point that he allows Twilight and all of Canterlot's inhabitants (who are all more concerned about the Changelings than about the fugitive heroes they're gradually starting to forgive) to see him for the selfish monster he is. Even if the heroes hadn't defeated all of his minions and cornered him during the final battle before the vengeful Changelings came to kill him, his reign wouldn't have lasted much longer because the public started wanting the princesses back to power.
  • In Chapter 35 of Rise of the Wizards, it's mentioned that there was a Century of the Three Hundred Headmasters. A portrait of a past Headmaster believes Richard Masters holds the record of shortest time as Headmaster of Hogwarts for holding the job for six hours.
  • Fanfic writer Androzani84 loves this trope.

    Films — Animation 
  • Aladdin: After getting the lamp, Jafar uses his first wish to become the Sultan of Agrabah. Though he uses his second wish to become a sorcerer and sends Aladdin to "the ends of the Earth", Aladdin returns not long later and tricks him into turning himself into a Genie who must be sealed in a lamp. This ends his reign as Sultan.
  • Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams: In the Sleeping Beauty story "Keys to the Kingdom", Aurora is put in charge of the kingdom when King Stephen and Queen Leah go away for two days to attend a Royal Conference. When she finds it tough to keep up with the constant orders of the townsfolk, Aurora uses Merryweather's wand to handle the orders more easily, but ends up causing even more trouble than before. She then learns to do the right thing and fixes all the issues before her parents return.
  • In the The Fairly OddParents! movie School's Out! The Musical, Timmy wishes that kids ruled the world instead of adults. As a result he becomes the president of kid world. Unfortunately, with all the kids now happy, the Godparents are pulled back to Fairy World, and the Pixies become the new wish-granters thanks to a loophole. Within minutes, he's confronted by Flappy Bob, who has his own wish granted and makes him the leader of the new, boring world. Flappy then overhears the Pixies discussing how they were using him all along, and he aids Timmy in defeating the Pixies, ending his own reign.
  • Frozen: As Anna goes off to search for her sister, she leaves Arendelle to Prince Hans. He very briefly is accepted as the leader after Anna's supposed death, having convinced the diplomats that he and Anna had exchanged their vows before she turned to solid ice and that Queen Elsa is guilty of treason, sentencing her to death. His brief reign falls immediately when in an attempt to kill Elsa, Anna suddenly swoops in and shields her sister from being killed, causing his claims to be exposed as false, and he ends the movie arrested and caged while Elsa returns to reestablish her title as the queen.
  • Shrek the Third: As King Harold is on his deathbed, he asks Shrek and Fiona to succeed him in ruling Far Far Away. Shrek's attempt at being the king, however, failed so horribly that before his death King Harold told him of another remaining heir to the throne, Arthur Pendragon. Shrek, knowing he'd make an awful king, immediately agreed to travel to find Arthur. Meanwhile, Prince Charming and his team of villains stormed Far Far Away, taking it over for the time between Shrek's disappearance and the final fight.
  • In The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, King Neptune gives Spongebob and Patrick exactly six days to return with his crown, or else he'll fry Mr. Krabs. During this time, Plankton takes over Bikini Bottom with slave helmets sold by the Chum Bucket. Spongebob and Patrick manage to return just in time and defeat Plankton's slave army with The Power of Rock, ending Plankton's reign as dictator.
  • Transformers: The Movie includes two, for both the Autobots and the Decepticons. Right before Optimus Prime dies, he passes on leadership to Ultra Magnus, but Ultra Magnus is replaced when Hot Rod is able to open the Matrix and becomes Rodimus Prime. Starscream, being The Starscream, overthrows a wounded Megatron, but Megatron quickly comes back even stronger as Galvatron, disposes of Starscream, and reclaims his leadership of the Decepticons.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The film Evita shows, through a musical montage, a series of military coups that gets Juan Peron closer and closer to becoming president.
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): Unlike all of Godzilla's (and also Kong's) other Titan enemies so far, Ghidorah stands apart for actually succeeding in wresting Godzilla's dominant position from him, however temporarily. Although Ghidorah's reign seems to last less than 24 hours before Godzilla kills him, during that time, Ghidorah manages to spontaneously awaken and enslave over a dozen other Titans around the world and command them to attack, causing worldwide devastation to mankind's cities and to multiple ecosystems, and he also kills Mothra. One of the major indirect consequences of Ghidorah's brief reign of terror as King is that one of the Titans he awakened, Camazotz, subsequently invades Skull Island and causes the island's functional extinction as an ecosystem.
  • The Man Who Would be King is about a pair of charlatans that migrate to Kafiristan (nowadays called Nuristan), where they use British rifles and tactics to assist a local chieftain in subjugating his rivals. Dravot is mistaken for Alexander the Great, who had conquered this territory centuries earlier, and had promised to return. Being corrupted by his power, he overthrows the chieftain, and claims Kafiristan his kingdom. Dravot even dares to begin a hereditary monarchy, but his bride inflicts a bleeding wound that exposes Dravot as mortal. Dravot's ascension and reign all transpire in one season, so less than one hundred days total.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Black Panther: Killmonger's reign as king lasts only as long as it takes for T'Challa to fully heal from his wounds under the Jabari's protection. When he shows up alive to resume the challenge, he ultimately kills Killmonger and becomes king again.
    • Thor: Loki becomes the king of Asgard as the next in line after his father Odin falls into Odinsleep and his elder brother Thor is banished for attacking a neighborhood state. It only lasts for a couple of days until Odin wakes up, and ends in Loki's attempted suicide.
    • Thor: Ragnarok: Loki once again briefly assumes leadership over the Sakaaran gladiators. It ends in his death at the hands of Thanos in The Teaser of Avengers: Infinity War.
  • The Slipper and the Rose: In the song "What a Comforting Thing to Know", Prince Edward mentions a King Ferdinand, who got drunk and fell out a window thirty minutes into his reign.

    Literature 
  • The BattleTech Expanded Universe novel Malicious Intent features the extremely short reign of Elias Crichell as Ilkhan of the Clans in 3058. Nominated to the ultimate position of power, his truimph does not last long before his credentials as a warrior are challenged by Vlad Ward. Since the Clans operate on the logic that Asskicking Leads to Leadership and Authority Grants Asskicking, their supreme war chief has to be able to win a fight in order to retain their respect and his position. Crichell tries to weasel out of the challenge by summoning a proxy, but because his personal worth as a warrior is being questioned, not the vote for Ilkhan, the other Khans determine that only Crichell himself can defend against such charges. Being 65 years old, he fights poorly, and is killed by a man half his age, having officially reigned as Ilkhan for less than two minutes.
  • The Books of Kings include the reigns of Nadab, Elah, and Ahaziah, each of which only lasted for two years, and little else is said about them. But that’s nothing compared to Zimri, who was only king for seven days!
  • In the first Bravelands book, Grub is dubbed The Leader of Brightforest Troop after the previous leader is (supposedly) killed by a hyena. His rule as Crownleaf only lasts a few days at best, as a jealous Stinger Highleaf soon poisons his food. With Grub dead, Stinger is free to become the new Crownleaf.
  • One Discworld novel mentions the reign of one king "Loyala the Aaargh" whose reign lasted 1.13 seconds and failed to even last the length of his proclamation. There were also some unnamed other Ankh-Morpork monarchs whose reigns did not last until the end of their coronation feasts; the longer-lasting kings employed food tasters.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Four of the five kings that the War of the Five Kings is named after all rule for a year or less before dying.
    • King Jaehaerys II ruled for three years, and is generally regarded as a lacklustre king, eventually dying from health complications.
    • In Fire & Blood:
      • King Aenys I ruled for six years, before the stress of managing his kingdom got to him. His immediate successor, Maegor, managed another six years, but he did a lot during that time. Compare that to their father Aegon I, who ruled for thirty-six.
      • Queen Rhaenyra and her half-brother King Aegon II ("The Usurper") between them didn't last a full year before dying. In Rhae's case, because things went super-bad for her, and she wound up getting cooked and eaten by Aegon's dragon. Aegon wound up assassinated by his own court when they finally got fed up of the civil war going on at the time, which he refused to stop even though it was obvious he wouldn't win.
      • Viserys II only ruled for about a year. Rumour abounds he was poisoned by his son Aegon IV ("The Unworthy"). Westerosi who've studied history contend that if he'd lived, he'd have been one of the best kings they'd ever had. Instead he's just regarded as the best Hypercompetent Sidekick the Realm ever had.
  • Harry Potter:
    • After Dumbledore is declared a fugitive in Order of the Phoenix, the Ministry of Magic nominates Umbridge as Headmistress of Hogwarts. She holds the position for less than a year before being unceremoniously relieved by the Ministry's admission of Voldemort's return and vindication of Dumbledore. Aside from her lapdogs, nobody in Hogwarts recognizes her as headmistress. Apparently, not even the school itself does (she's not given a permission to enter the headmaster's office).
    • Severus Snape similarly serves as Headmaster of Hogwarts for less than a year, dying during the Battle of Hogwarts. Unlike Umbridge, however, he is allowed to enter the headmaster's office, and his portrait appears after his death. This is likely because the school recognizes his role as a Double Agent for the side of good.
    • The Minister for Magic Rufus Scrimgeour rules for a whopping one year before getting deposed and killed by Voldemort. His successor, Pius Thicknesse, also has a short reign; he serves as a figurehead for the Death Eaters under the control of the Imperius Curse, so his rule is considered illegitimate. He is succeeded by Kingsley Shacklebolt after the Second Wizarding War.
  • The Hunger Games has President Alma Coin. Though already president of District 13, she was in command of the rebellion and intended to take over Snow's position as President of Panem once the rebellion was over. For a brief time, she'd gotten her wish. Then, during Snow's execution, Katniss decided to assassinate Coin instead, realizing that she was just as dangerous as Snow.
  • Rudyard Kipling wrote The Man Who Would be King about a pair of charlatans that migrate to Kafiristan (nowadays called Nuristan), where they use British rifles and tactics to assist a local chieftain in subjugating his rivals. Dravot, being corrupted by his power, overthrows the chieftain, and claims Kafiristan his kingdom. Dravot even dares to begin a hereditary monarchy, but his bride inflicts a bleeding wound that exposes Dravot as mortal. Dravot is given a Disney Villain Death, while his partner is given a crucifixion, which he somehow survives, and lives to tell the tale. Dravot's ascension and reign all transpire in one season, so less than one hundred days total.
  • Red Queen:
    • After Tiberias Calore VI is assassinated by Elara Merandus, younger son Prince Maven ascends as King of Norta. However, he reigns for a very short time, most of it in opposition to his older brother Prince Tiberias VII "Cal". After he is deposed, Cal ascends as king, but his reign is similarly brief because he decides to step down and declare Norta a republic following the war against the Lakelands.
    • Volo Samos declares the breakaway Kingdom of the Rift the same year he is assassinated by Julian Jacos and Anabel Lerolan. Both of his children choose to relinquish their birthright, so the Rift is dissolved and integrated back to Norta.
  • The Stainless Steel Rat series: Invoked by the protagonist in The Stainless Steel Rat for President. Less than a day after being elected president of the planet, he fakes his own assassination, leaving the people with an inspirational figure whose ideals they will try to live up to instead of an actual person they might have got tired of (and freeing him to go off and have more adventures instead of being stuck in one place for years).
  • Survivor Dogs: Leader Wannabe Bella was a pack alpha for all of a few weeks while her brother acted as a spy for their pack. She was forced into submission after she begged Alpha to let her packmates join his pack.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • During the first series, ShadowClan had consecutive leaders with short reigns. Raggedstar was murdered by his son Brokentail when he still had nine lives left, and then Brokenstar himself was driven out of the Clan just a few moons later for being a dictator with a 0% Approval Rating. Following the fall of Brokenstar, Nightstar took over as the leader of ShadowClan. However, he was never given his eight extra lives by StarClan, because they still considered Brokenstar the true leader. Because of this, he and his deputy both ended up dying of illness soon later, leaving ShadowClan in a temporary state of anarchy.
    • The shortest-ever official leadership is seen in Code of the Clans: after the ShadowClan leader died, his deputy became leader in his place, but she died the same night without having traveled to the Moonstone for her nine lives and without having named a deputy. The chaos in the Clan after her death resulted in a new law being added to the warrior code: that a new deputy should always be named before moonhigh so that the Clan is never without a leader for more than a day.
    • In the seventh arc, when the ThunderClan leader has his body possessed by an antagonistic spirit, several cats try filling the role of Clan leader in his place. First there's his deputy Squirrelflight, but she is abducted and vanishes; then her acting deputy Lionblaze steps in but is deposed for wanting to solve problems by killing. When the elder Graystripe takes charge of things, the ShadowClan leader jokes, "It's your turn now, is it? Maybe you'll last a quarter moon."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Blackadder: In the series finale, Prince Edmund finally accomplished his goal of becoming King of England... for about 30 seconds. As he lies on his deathbed after being gruesomely mutilated by the torture machine of his childhood rival Philip of Burgundy, his father King Richard proposes a toast to send him off. Unbeknownst to them, Percy and Baldrick had poisoned the batch of wine, leading to the entire court to fall down dead after drinking the beverage. Edmund correctly deduces that the wine was poisoned but decides to take a sip just to be sure. Believing the wine is not the killer, as he has not immediately died, Edmund declares himself King of England, only for the wine to kill him moments later.
  • Breaking Bad: Where to begin? In Season 4, Gustavo Fring assembles a meeting with Don Eladio as well as the other rulers of the cartel, and has them all poisoned. This leaves him as the sole meth producer for the American Southwest... for less than a week. That's when Walter White has Gus murdered, which causes his meth empire to collapse, with many of his workers killed off to make room for Walt's new empire. That empire lasted much longer, but only for less than a year. That's when the tables turn on him, and he is forced to shut it down and flee. This then leads to a new empire led by Jack Welker, of the New Mexico Aryan Brotherhood. It lasts for half a year, only for Walt himself to come back to Albuquerque and meet them at their headquarters. He has all of them killed there, including himself, so that their empire would prosper no longer.
  • ''CSI: NY: The season 3 finale, "Snow Day" opens with a morning raid on an Irish mob's massive drug horde. In the aftermath, detectives find the body of their leader who had been killed by the gang before the police arrived. The man's son takes over, but Mac and Co. corner him when the gang tries to steal the drugs back from the Lab that same day. Mac says, "Congratulations on the shortest criminal reign in history." It becomes especially true when he tries to escape and accidentally triggers the explosion of a claymore mine Mac and Stella had constructed around one of his minions, killing them both.
  • Game of Thrones: After Robert Baratheon's death, Westeros goes through monarchs like toilet paper due to the unstable political climate.
    • Joffrey Baratheon, who is ostensibly Robert's eldest son, only reigns a little over a year before being assassinated at his own wedding. As far as most people are concerned, even that was too long considering the kind of ruler Joffrey was.
    • Robb Stark is King in the North for about a year before he's murdered at the Red Wedding; he spent most of his reign fighting for Northern independence rather than actually ruling, to boot.
    • Tommen Baratheon becomes king after Joffrey's demise. He manages to reign about three years, though he's a Puppet King more than anything then commits suicide after his mother blows up the Sept of Baelor.
    • Cersei Lannister declares herself queen after all her children die and reigns for about a year before she's killed during the sacking of King's Landing. And as Jaime pointed out to her, she wasn't even really queen of the whole Seven Kingdoms, more like "three kingdoms, at best".
    • Jon Snow is named King in the North by the Northern lords, but a few months later he bends the knee to Daenerys, who has come to retake the Iron Throne, and is Gracefully Demoted to Warden of the North, as he didn't want to be king in the first place. The other Northerners aren't too happy about this, though.
    • Daenerys Targaryen probably takes the cake. She's Queen of the Seven Kingdoms for mere hours until Jon Snow assassinates her.
  • Gotham: Season Four has Sofia Falcone, whose reign over the new Falcone criminal empire (which she stole from the Penguin) lasts only a couple of weeks before everything she did to get it comes back to bite her in the ass. By the season's halfway point, she's in a coma with a bullet in her head, her empire permanently shattered and being carved up by the rest of the underworld, and whatever remaining influence the Falcones had in Gotham gone for good.
  • House of Anubis:
    • After a small competition with Joy, Mara is given the role as head editor of the school's new news site. She gets to work on writing a piece on Vera, which quickly turns into an expose when she realizes Vera's background information is falsified and shady. This leads to a hearing in which Vera tricks everyone into believing Mara lied. While Mara's expulsion was immediately taken back by Mr. Sweet, she was fired from the paper, and Joy got the position.
    • Following Nina's departure in Season 3, Fabian took over as the unofficial leader of Sibuna. However, once Eddie and KT joined in, Fabian stepped down to give the role to Eddie due to him being the Osirian.
  • Kaamelott:
    • Léodagan gets his daughter Guenièvre to name him as regent during Arthur's absence, removing the scheming Mevanwi from power. Unfortunately, she sleeps with the legislator to find the document approving Léodagan's position and destroys it, meaning the regent-naming decision reverts to the queen (which, technically, means Mevanwi). She puts her dumbass husband Karadoc in power the next day.
    • The Roman Empire is flanderized into offing its emperors in increasingly sadistic ways, including putting a scorpion in his bed.
      Arthur: They're in a coup d'état dynamic right now.
      Léodagan: Forget "dynamic", it's a national pastime.
    • Caius (the commander of the last remaining Roman encampment) often gets invited for lunch and political discussions:
      Arthur: Rome is finished, everyone can tell.
      Léoodagan: What's your emperor's name again?
      Caius:' Romulus Augustus.
      Léodagan: Yeah, that's it, and how old is he?
      Caius: Eleven and a half.
      Léodagan: One hell of an international superpower right there!
      Caius: Yeah, but he's really mature for his age.
      [...]
      Léodagan: But seriously, you don't think it's weird that you're led by a ten-year old?
      Caius: Eh, we give him less than two months before he gets his throat cut. Right now there's two putsches a year in Rome.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Halbrand stays the so called King of the Southlanders for a day; 1) because of Orodruin erupts just in day he arrived in Tirharad and destroys the Southlands, and 2) he is Sauron.
  • Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger: Sandaaru takes control of the Jakanja by killing Tau Zant as soon as the latter frees the Evil Will, with Furabijo and Wendinu willingly becoming his Co-Dragons in that time. A few minutes later the Gouraigers kill him, leaving the Evil Will as the sole antagonist and cutting Sandaaru's rule short.
  • Spitting Image: One sketch shows John Major's government in the wake of their 1997 election defeat, taking it in turns to resign and hand the role of Prime Minister to each other. Michael Heseltine (who, in real life, had never concealed his ambition to be Prime Minister) becomes increasingly agitated as he is repeatedly passed over, and before his turn comes Tony Blair arrives to form his new government.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In the episode "Tacking into the Wind" Worf fights the corrupt Chancellor Gowron in a duel to the death and General Martok refuses to fight his Chancellor while they are at war, feeling it would be dishonorable to do so. Upon killing Gowron Worf is proclaimed Chancellor by Martok and the other members of the council, but his only act as Chancellor is to immediately hand the office over to Martok even though Martok did not really want the job.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look: One sketch has admiral Karl Donitz become the Führer after Hitler commits suicide. He immediately starts going on about the projects he wants to work on such as an autobahn, but his aides bring him back to reality by providing him with the essentials of what he'll need for his stay in power: General Eisenhower's phone number and how to say "We surrender" in English.
  • This happens on both sides of the law in the final season of The Wire:
    • Marlo Stanfield, the most ruthless and kill happy drug lord in all of Baltimore, finally completes the goal he's been working towards for the prior several seasons, and through a combination of backstabbing and mass murder, becomes the undisputed king of the Baltimore underworld, even dissolving the New Day Co-op and turning it into an extension of his personal empire. It lasts for less than a month before he's brought down by a group of detectives who are so infuriated by Marlo's bloody rise to power that they decide he cannot be allowed to succeed and launch a rogue investigation into him.
    • Meanwhile for the police, Cedric Daniels finally reaches the rank Police Commissioner, as various Obstructive Bureaucrats and corrupt toadies get pushed out of the way. Practically the first thing he's asked to do is to manipulate the crime statistics to make it appear that crime is going down and make the politicians look good. This is the very thing that Daniels holds most responsible for ruining modern policing and was one of the key reforms he wanted to make to the system, so he refuses. He promptly gets blackmailed into resigning. Although the timeframe isn't specified, the implication is that he was Commissioner for no more than a few weeks to a few months, and was a powerless figurehead for most of that time.

    Myths, Religion, and Legends 
  • The Bible: After the death of King Josiah, his son Jehoahaz took his place as king, but reigned for only three months before he was deposed by the Egyptian king Neco, who put his brother Jehoiakim in his place. Jehoiakim was then killed during a Babylonian siege and his son Jeconiah ruled in his place. Like his uncle Jehoahaz, Jeconiah ruled only for three months before Nebuchadnezzar deposed him and replaced him with his other uncle Zedekiah.
  • There's an urban legend that David Rice Atchison was the President of the United States for a single day: Sunday, March 4, 1849, in between James K. Polk and Zachary Taylor. It is true that Polk's last day in office was March 3, and Taylor's inauguration was pushed back to March 5 because he didn't want to swear the Oath of Office on a Sunday. Proponents of the urban legend say the succession laws made Atchison (who was President Pro Tempore of the Senate at the time) the acting President until Taylor could be sworn in. In reality, the constitution doesn't specify that an incoming President must swear the Oath before holding the officenote —and in any case, Atchison wasn't sworn in, either. Atchison himself disputed the story that he had ever been President, but somehow he wound up with a grave marker that read "President of the United States for One Day" anyway.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Third Imperium of Traveller had a series of "Emperors of the Flag", noted mainly for how short their rules were. 17 of them ruled, one after another, over a series of 13 years; one particular year in this period saw six emperors.

    Video Games 
  • Pokémon:
    • N was groomed from childhood to be the king of Unova after Team Plasma took over. After defeating Alder, befriending a legendary dragon, and raising his castle, this came true. However, his adoptive father Ghetsis had just been using him as a pawn and figurehead, plotting to overthrow him as soon as Hilbert/Hilda was defeated by N in battle. After both N and Ghetsis were defeated, Unova returned to normal, with neither of them becoming king.
    • Blue becomes the first champion of the Kanto Pokemon League. His championship is then immediately cut short when he gets defeated by Red in battle, before Professor Oak can even come to congratulate him.
  • In Yakuza, Kazuma Kiryu gets appointed as the next Tojo clan chairman, as written in the will of the late chairman, Masaru Sera. He resigns immediately after his appointment ceremony. Nevertheless, he still holds a great amount of reputation as the Fourth Chairman.
  • Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War:
    • At the start of mission 03, Nagase is put in charge of the Wardog Squadron for about 10 seconds, before refusing to take command and deferring to Blaze (the most junior team member at that point) instead. Because the high command is too busy fighting off a surprise invasion to discipline her, they begrudgingly let it slide and confirm Blaze's field promotion; and the whole situation only comes about because Wardog's actual commander, Captain Bartlett, was shot down and is MIA since the end of mission 02, and said surprise invasion occurred before a new CO could arrive from the mainland.
    • Subverted with Blaze's own command, which is only supposed to be provisionary, but when Wardog's new CO Lt.Col. Ford gets shot down in mission 04 before he can even assume command, the brass cuts the losses and makes Blaze's promotion permanent (likely impressed by his exceptional combat performance).

    Visual Novels 
  • Doki Doki Literature Club!: In the neutral ending, After Monika gets deleted and the story resets to a new timeline, Sayori is the new club president. With this position comes the same Fourth-Wall Observer ability Monika had. In seconds, she becomes as obsessed with the player as Monika was, and Monika decides to delete the game entirely, ending Sayori's stint as club leader as quickly as it happened. This does not happen in the secret ending, because she's aware that you've helped her, Natsuki, and Yuri throughout different saves in Act 1, she doesn't go insane.

    Web Original 
  • The Call of Warr: When Gravesite starts neglecting his duties, Prince decides to overthrow his leadership and name himself the leader, instead. This lasts for, at most, two days- he puts the girls on trial for Witchcraft, goes crazy, and dies, after Gravesite took his position back.
  • Kickassia: After the grand takeover of Molossia, The Nostalgia Critic crowns himself the president of the micro-nation. He quickly grew to abuse his power, culminating in the rest of the Channel Awesome team overthrowing him. As such, his leadership lasts about a week, and Molossia is returned to the original leader.
  • Princess Natasha: When Lubek became the King of Zoravia, he was so hated by his subjects his reign lasted little (or no) more than the time it took them to organize a nation-wide referendum to elect his brother Carl as their King.

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of Codename: Kids Next Door involves Lizzie making herself the leader of a mission while Nigel is taking a shower. She manages to make the others follow her long enough to get them to the teenager's flying football stadium, but Nigel takes over again as soon as she finds him in a locker. She then decides to take over again while Nigel is away to get her some icecream, just before the credits roll.
  • In Futurama after Fry accidentally drinks the emperor of the liquid people of Trisol it turns out they have a long tradition of Klingon Promotion and he is named the new emperor. Unfortunately, Trisollian emperors have an average reign of two weeks and the royal gallery already has places reserved for Fry's future assassin, as well as his assassin's assassin.
  • The Hair Bear Bunch: In "No Space Like Home," the bears and the zookeepers land the metal planet Taluria where Peevly becomes leader. It is short-lived as the inhabitants choose a new ruler each day and lock the previous leader in a glass cage.
  • Kim Possible: Throughout the series, Bonnie tries to replace Kim a cheer captain. In one late episode, Kim decides she has enough on her plate saving the world and resigns as cheer captain, letting Bonnie take over. After Bonnie realizes how much work comes with the position she quits and Kim agrees to take over again.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Twice, both times with Candace. The first time, she becomes the Queen of Mars after accidentally going through one of her brothers' portals. Her reign lasts until the boys bring her home for dinner, with the next ruler (A fake volcano made by Doofenshmirtz) being crowned soon after. The next time comes when she wins a contest to become the mayor for a day. At the end of the episode, Doofenshmirtz's new Accelerate-inator gets destroyed, time gets rewound, and an old man from Phineas and Ferb's pioneer town is given the mayor position instead.
  • Brainy's reign as King Smurf in The Smurfs Animated Adaptation of the comic book story of the same name lasted only a day (or a few days, the length of Papa Smurf's journey to get some wrinkleroot), as Smurfette led a rebellion against King Smurf, helping Jokey to escape imprisonment and then having her team storm the village when Brainy ordered the remaining Smurfs to build a high fence and moat around the village. During the Civil War that following the storming of the village, Papa Smurf shows up to remind them that while they were fighting over Brainy's leadership role as King Smurf, they were forgetting about the dam leaking water. The Smurfs immediately dropped what they were doing and went straight to work fixing the dam, with the Brainy deciding to give up being King Smurf immediately after the crisis was averted.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil has Star Butterfly the Underestimated, Queen of Mewni for just four days. She assumes the throne in order to deal with a crisis situation when her mother, Moon the Undaunted, goes missing. After the situation has been dealt with, and having learned earlier in the season that her family were not the true heirs to the throne, Star abdicates in favor of the rightful queen: Eclipsa, Queen of Darkness.
  • The Tangled: The Series special "Queen For a Day" has Rapunzel take over for her parents when they go away to celebrate their anniversary. However, she has very little knowledge of ruling Corona, and her suggestions only make things worse. Things get even more worse when a blizzard strikes and threatens to destroy the kingdom, and she is faced with gut-wrenching decisions.
  • One episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) has Leonardo questioning his leadership abilities after a bad dream. He leaves the group to ponder his issues and the others take turns as leader. Raphael proves to be too indecisive, Donatello relies too much on his inventions, and Michaelangelo doesn't have much in the way of strategy. Fortunately, Leonardo comes to his senses and rejoins them.
  • In Transformers: Generation 1, whenever Starscream does get to usurp Megatron for however long he can, it's often this. Just before his (first) death (and revelation that his Spark is indestructible), after disposing of Megatron once again, he crowned himself leader of the Decepticons, his reign lasting for a whopping 20 seconds before he was destroyed.

    Real Life 
  • From December 20, 2001 to January 2, 2002, Argentina had five heads of state: Fernando de la Rua (resigned because of the financial crisis), Ramon Puerta (acting president), Adolfo Rodriguez Saa (resigned after unpopular attempts to fix the economy), Eduardo Camano (another interim president — Ramon Puerta resigned as leader of the senate to avoid being interim president again), and finally Eduardo Duhalde (who completed Fernando de la Rua's term).
  • In ancient Athens, the chief executive official was the chairman of the prytany (the council's ten-part legislative calendar). It was a once-a-lifetime, one-day-long position.
  • This happened quite a bit during the Roman Empire:
    • There were four emperors in AD 69: Galba (who became emperor in AD 68 following the overthrow and suicide of Nero), Otho, Vitellus, and finally Vespasian, who won the power struggle in December and ruled for ten years.
    • Rome later had the Year of Five Emperors in 193, though some of them ruled concurrently with allied co-emperors. Still, Pertinax lasted 86 days and Didius Julianus only 65 days.
    • During the Crisis of the Third Century, Rome went through 26 different emperors. Included are Gordian I and II, both ruling for 21 days; Pupienus and Balbinus, who ruled for 3 months; and Hostilian, ruling for about 5 months.
    • Roman consuls were elected by the voting public for one year, and this naturally means that the list of every politician to have served as one is voluminous. However, in the event a consul ordinarius (the elected officeholder) died, a consul suffectus would be appointed by the Senate to finish his term. The year 509 BCE was noted for the number of suffecti appointed, three in total before the next election. Neither of the two ordinary consuls finished their term. Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus was forced from office due to his relation to the deposed king of Rome, while Lucius Junius Brutus was killed in battle fighting Etruscan allies of the same. They were replaced by Spurius Lucretius Triciptinus and Publius Valerius Publicola. Tricipitinus would later die of old age and in turn be replaced by Marcus Horatius Pulvillus. The practice of appointing suffecti was later abused — like every office of the Republic — by Octavian, who would serve as an ordinarius alongside a lackey who would, at the appointed time, resign office so that the Caesarian faction in the Senate could appoint a suffectus at his direction. This practice was one of the key political changes which characterize the difference between the Republic and the Principate.
    • After the Theodosian dynasty's fall no one emperor could hold what was left of the crumbling Western Roman Empire for more than half a decade. The last confirmed emperor Julius Nepos was deposed after barely more than a year and reduced to a figurehead by the newly self-proclaimed King of Italy for the last five years of his life.
  • British monarchs:
    • Edgar the Atheling, last English King of England, elected by the Witan in October 1066, shortly thereafter abandoned by the remaining Saxon nobles who surrendered to William the Conqueror. William was crowned in December.
    • Lady Jane Grey, who was technically the reigning British monarch for nine days after Edward VI left the throne to her. Edward's sister, Bloody Mary, very quickly deposed Jane, who lost her head the following year.
    • Empress Matilda (claimed the throne for seven years, but only actually held London for six months), Edward V (reigned two months), Richard III (reigned two years), Edward VIII (reigned just under 11 months).
    • Arguably Louis VIII of France, who took London in May 1215 and was acclaimed by the barons as king because they just hated King John that much, only to be abandoned by them when John died in 1216, and finally capitulating to Henry III's forces in 1217. However, despite having a kind of coronation, he was never actually crowned.
  • The shortest-reigning monarch that actually reigned is the Jurchen Emperor Mo who attempted to to resist the Jurchen's Last Stand against the Mongols after the previous ruler Abandoned the Throne to him after seeing the letter on the wall. That only lasted for half a day when he was Killed in Action.
  • The Presidents of the United States:
    • William Henry Harrison is mostly known for being the U.S. president with the shortest term, who died of pneumonia after 31 days in office. He was also the first president to die in office.
    • The 20th president, James Garfield, had the second shortest term (six months), being shot four months after his inauguration and dying two months later.
    • The shortest presidency to actually be completed, rather than being cut off by the office-holder's death, was that of Gerald Ford, who took office immediately after Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974 and lost re-election to Jimmy Carter in 1976. As a result, Ford has a pithy term of just 895 days (around 2 and a half years) in office.
  • The shortest term of a British prime minister goes to Liz Truss, who lasted all of 44 days in the role before she announced her resignation. Her term was marked by self-inflicted damage, flip-flopping positions, high-profile resignations, and so much general chaos that it became untenable for her to stay in office. The fact that she wouldn't spend much time in office was highly expected thanks to the political crisis, to the point where the Daily Star pitted her against a head of lettuce to see who would last longer; the lettuce won. She beats the next-shortest term by a large margin, as George Canning served for 119 days before dying of pneumonia.
  • Frederick III succeeded his father Wilhelm I as Emperor of Germany on Wilhelm's death, March 9, 1888. Frederick died 99 days later of cancer.
  • Pedro Lascurain was President of Mexico for 45 minutes on February 19, 1913. (Mexico had ten presidents between 1911 and 1920 as the Mexican Revolution raged.)
  • Irineu Marinho, founder of Brazilian newspaper "O Globo", died from a heart attack in August 21, 1925. Less than one month after the newspaper was founded.
  • France went through two periods of short-lived governments, known as "la valse des gouvernements" (the governments' waltz):
    • One in the 19th century, with the nomination of a duke who owed so much money his salary was immediately seized by his creditors, leading to the cabinet members resigning in protest and the derisive nickname "three-day government", to national hilarity.
    • From 1946 to 1958, France had 24 different governments lasting anywhere from 1 to 16 months, leading to the drafting of a new constitution of the Fifth French Republic.
  • Pope John Paul I reigned for about a month and three days in 1978 before dying of a heart attack. Other short-lived popes include: Boniface VI (reigned for 15 days), Urban VII (reigned for 13 days) and Leo XI (reigned for 26 days). Leo XI was even nicknamed "Lightning Pope".
  • The vacancy for Governor of New Jersey first caused by Christie Whitman's resignation in 2001 ultimately led to John Farmer being governor for 45 minutes on January 8, 2002, followed by John O. Bennett for four days Jan. 8-12, followed by Richard Codey for three days Jan. 12-15. (Jim McGreevey took office as the regular elected governor on Jan. 15, 2002.)
  • The Soviet General Secretaries Yuri Andropov, Konstantin Chernenko, and particularly Vladimir Ivashko had extremely short office terms (15 months, 11 months, and 5 days, respectively), and are therefore barely remembered by anyone but historians today, lost in the shadow of Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and Gorbachev's much longer and more colorful reigns. Besides, Ivashko's tenure was during the dying days of the USSR, when the country's leadership rested with the now-President Gorbachev.
  • France had John I, who ruled for five days, Henri V, who ruled for a week, and Louis XIX, who ruled for 20 minutes. So they had four kings in one week.
  • Russia's Peter III (ruled six months), Ivan VI (ruled one year), Mikhail II (ruled one day), Feodor II (ruled two months), False Dimitri I (ruled one year).
  • Spain had Luis I (ruled six months), Phillip I (ruled two months) and Ferdinand VII's first reign, which lasted one month.
  • Sweden had Prime Minister Östen Hundeen (until then Foreign Minister) who served as acting Prime Minister after the Sudden Death of Per Albin Hansson 1932-1946 (14 years and an entire World War Two) for an whooping 6 Days until Per Albin's Political Heir and obvious Replacent Tage Erlander was voted in and who ended up serving between 1946-1969 (23 years—still longest running Prime Minister!)


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