Follow TV Tropes


The Caligula

Go To
Lyre, lyre, Rome's on fire! note 

"Madness reigns
In the hall of the Mountain King."
Savatage, "Hall of the Mountain King"

In a hereditary monarchy, every so often the throne is inherited by someone completely out of their gourd. Maybe it's the fault of that lead-lined plumbing, or those mercury-laced medicinal elixirs, or maybe it's genetic (in which case you're in some deep trouble). Whatever the cause, the sovereign is still given the full power and support of the state despite their obvious insanity, with inevitably disastrous consequences.

The Caligula will be wildly irrational, violently moody, extremely debauched, will never tolerate being told anything they don’t want to hear, and are probably afflicted with a god complex. In short, they will be a Psychopathic Manchild with the power of life or death over everyone whom they can reach. They may be a sexual deviant, or they might take pleasure in the pain and suffering they cause. They may indulge in renaming cities or even the entire country after themself or throwing out increasingly ridiculous decrees with brutal punishments in store for anyone who breaks them. Whatever form the madness takes, one thing is certain: to do anything the Caligula finds displeasing is to inevitably be dragged off to a grisly death or worse. Of course, any number of things might trigger their rage, and they might even decide on a whim to punish those who have not done anything at all. And while all of this is going on, the land over which the Caligula rules is rapidly going down the drain due to their neglect. Here, in particular, they have a decided advantage over most other crackpots when it comes to messing things up: they can start wars. Be it for the perceived personal glory or their obsession with perceived enemies, the Caligula's country will probably be in a constant state of war.


Due to their continuing close proximity to the Caligula, members of the court (decadent or otherwise) will be the primary targets of their fits of rage. Nobody within reach is safe from them, whether they be nobles, servants, bureaucrats, foreign ambassadors, or even members of their own family. The Caligula is very definitely a Bad Boss. With any luck, thanks to The Starscream and/or La Résistance, a conspiracy will eventually develop to remove the crazy sovereign from his post... permanently.

This is not limited to sovereign heads of state. The Caligula can be anyone wielding great power within an organization while being completely nuts.

Named for what is probably history's best-known whack-job, Roman emperor Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, better known as Caligula (Little Boots, his childhood nickname); remembered for talking to statues, locking granaries, declaring war on the god Neptune (and "winning", then commanding his soldiers to collect seashells as war-prizes), making his horse a consul (admittedly, this one may have simply been a gesture of spite towards the senate), and boning his sisters. (Though the veracity of some of these claims is in question, the reputation persists. See here for all the details.)


In terms of the ranks of Authority Tropes, the tropes that are equal are The Good Chancellor, Evil Chancellor, Standard Royal Court, and Decadent Court. The next step down is The Brigadier. The next steps up are The Evil Prince, Prince Charming, Prince Charmless, Sheltered Aristocrat, Warrior Prince, The Wise Prince, and all Princess Tropes.



  • The Wonka, another type of mad authority figure whose madness makes him more competent as opposed to more destructive.
  • Psycho Supporter, who has the same personality traits but is usually on the opposite end of the authority hierarchy.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk:
    • The King of Midland, after making a Face–Heel Turn and losing his sanity. He diverts the entire resources of his country towards hunting down Griffith and the Band of the Hawk, even as the country descends into plague and famine, making it even more vulnerable to the Kushan invasion afterwards.
    • Emperor Ganishka, who is literally a demon and has an ego so big that he attempts to defy God. He has a nasty temper and is Ax-Crazy enough that his subordinates fear his wrath. This gets taken Up to Eleven when he reincarnates himself as an unholy monstrosity that makes the most horrifying Apostles look cute and towers over the city of Windham, becoming so drunk on power that he tramples his own soldiers like ants.
    • As the ruler of Falconia, Griffith makes for a very dangerous ruler, as his reign is based entirely on a personality cult dedicated to someone who in the past is more than willing to betray those closest to him and even subject them to a cruel and horrifying fate of torture, rape and death to perpetuate his own power, and has turned the already harsh world into a Hell on Earth and manipulates people into kowtowing to his will by forcing them to seek refuge inside one of the last remaining "safe" zones — his very own Egopolis—, just to advance his ego. Those who disagree or stand in the way won't live any longer.
  • Fruits Basket: While not actually royalty, Akito plays this role as head of the Sohma family (complete with an unhealthy dose of A God Am I). Akito gets better, unlike the standard Caligula.
  • Clair Leonelli of Heat Guy J. This (more than the fact that he's only 19 years old) is the reason the other Mafia higher-ups are reluctant to let him assume the role of Vampire.
  • The Emperor in Soul Hunter, which is very liberally based on the end of the Shang Dynasty, listed in the Real Life section below.
  • Kingdom: King Tojo of Zhao, a man who spends his time being serviced by young boys, ignores the plight of his citizens, and hates his only competent general Riboku. He is so self-centered that he handicaps Riboku when Qin invades, fully willing to sacrifice half of Zhao while ensuring his safety — sure, in the long term this would lead to the ruin of Zhao, but he will be dead of old age by then, so he doesn't care.
  • King Dedede of Kirby: Right Back at Ya! is this moreso than the games. He has a castle which has his face all over the place, and yet the only thing he ever does is find ways to take advantage of the cappies, and orders monsters from the truly nightmarish evil corporation to make everyone miserable, or just to beat Kirby.
  • Gihren Zabi of Mobile Suit Gundam, is one of the rare Lawful Evil examples. A soulless Evil Prince who has no problems murdering his father to seize power, framing his sister for trying to assassinate him, using Weapons of Mass Destruction to butcher civilian populations, or subverting the entire war effort in the name of his Social Darwinist agenda, Gihren is the de facto Big Bad of the series, and frightens even the other members of his Big, Screwed-Up Family. He's less overtly crazy than many examples but makes up for it with his total Lack of Empathy and emotionless psychopathy.
  • In the backstory of Naruto, the Fourth Mizukage, Yagura, led the Hidden Mist Village during the years of the Bloody Mist, where half of each graduating class was required to murder the other half in cold blood, one of the village's most famous ninja lead a failed coup, an entire Cipher Division being cut down by their own bodyguard was considered proper procedure, and Kisame (the aforementioned bodyguard) even told Yagura to his face that the latter would have him eliminated at some point. Apparently, people thought highly of Yagura, which could be true, because either Madara Uchiha or Tobi/Obito was mind-controlling him the entire time. The fact that Yagura was being controlled by the Akatsuki leader has become public knowledge in the Mist Village, as numerous characters have blamed Akatsuki for the Bloody Mist years.
  • Princess Malty S. Melromarc from The Rising of the Shield Hero is a class-case example of a Caligula. A Chronic Backstabbing Disorder so fierce that even Starscream himself would blush at? Check. A Compulsive Liar so bad that her own mother had her branded with a Slave Crest as a Lie Detector that shocks her into confessing the truth? Check. A Yandere that has an "Entitled to Have You" complex so fierce that she would secretly sell other female party members into slavery and lie that they simply had left? Check. A Cain that would take any opportunity to try and kill her own younger sister? BIG FAT CHECK. The only reason why she was able to get away with this for so long throughout the series was because of the fact that she was a Daddy's Girl that only put on a front of innocence when around her father The King.
  • Gjallarhorn of Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is pretty much this but applied to The Federation. It's ruled by corrupt aristocrats who will eliminate anything in their path, no matter how insignificant. Corruption is rampant to the point that having anyone with a modicum of decency and morality is a rarity, and they even fully condone lesser rights for Martians and colonists so that they're easier to oppress. They even murder Tekkadan kids with glee in their attempts to kill one publicly-known young woman advocating for Martian rights. It gets worse to the point that season 2's Big Bad had to reform and restructure Gjallarhorn both out of necessity from all other ruling parties being killed and out of sheer efficiency's sake due to the ruthless chaos and suppression just making everything worse.
  • King Hamdo of Now and Then, Here and There is a petty, raging tyrant who expends his armies of enslaved Child Soldiers at will. His first scenes involve strangling his cat when it upsets him, and then having the child protagonist tortured for hours and hours on end. After securing his rule over every single town across the world; he insists that there are still other towns with people in them that are sucking up air without his permission, and immediately relays an order to mobilize their forces into eradicating everyone.
  • The World Government of One Piece appears to fall into this, although not the Marines protecting it. The World Government itself is incredibly corrupt and brutal, being major patrons of the mostly pirate-run slave trade and using the Marines for acts of mass butchery to silence those that found out their dirty secrets or could threaten them. The "nobility" of this world is even worse, as the upper-middle-class will cheerfully burn an occupied city to the ground to make things look neater for a World Noble's visit and claim it's the poor people's fault for being too stupid to be born nobles. The highest social class are so batshit insane that they wear air bubbles to prevent themselves from breathing the same air as commoners and regularly murder anyone they encounter over the very pettiest gripes.
    • For reference, when the Straw Hats went to rescue Hachi's mermaid friend from being sold into slavery, one of the "nobles" decided to shoot random people for no reason other than the thought occurred to him. And everyone —meaning everyone, including the people who normally wouldn't stand for such insanity— were shocked beyond words when Luffy punched the bastard in the face.
    • Villains who actually work for them is a case-by-case basis. For example, most of the antagonists in the Impel Down arc are just as Axe-Crazy and sadistic as any noble, with the notable exception of Magellan, the Big Bad of the arc; he was the closest anyone in the prison came to an Anti-Villain and a Reasonable Authority Figure, despite being loyal to his employers.
    • Spandam is certainly this to the CP9 and everyone at Enies Lobby. Despite being weaker than Coby when Luffy first met him, he somehow got to be the leader of a major Marines stronghold and treats everyone, subordinate and pirate alike, like they were gum on the bottom of his shoe in addition to reveling in his power to make the Buster Call, even after accidentally making it. What really sealed it, though, was telling everyone over the loudspeaker his plan to leave them all to be destroyed by the Buster Call while he hightailed it to a safe distance.
    • Were he to achieve his goal of taking over Fishman Island, Hody Jones would easily be this —his immediate plans would be to slaughter anyone on the island who wants to live in peace with humans, followed by going to a council of kings with the intended purpose of murdering them all.
    • Eneru/Enel from the Skypiea Arc could fit this as well. No regard for others, carelessly strikes down anyone with a dissenting opinion, an A God Am I complex, goes even more batshit insane when someone he can't instantly beat beats his ass? Yup. He's as bad as any World Noble ever was.
    • A childlike queen who just wants to create a nation where all races of the world can live in peace, accompanied by cheerful sentient objects. How could this go wrong? By having said queen, Charlotte Linlin AKA Big Mom, be a giant-sized sociopath who switches between a somewhat reasonable schemer, an oversized brat with the power of two armies (her pirate army and herself being a One-Man Army) and an uncontrollable berserker who murders everything that gets in her way. She has everyone who lives in her kingdom pay pieces of their SOULS (effectively reducing their lifespan) so she can put them into inanimate objects and bring them to life as her homies, threatens people by saying she'll chop off a loved one's head and send it to them in a box, holds extravagant tea parties where she plans to kill certain guests and have everybody dance on their corpses and eat cake. And to top it all off, she's one of the worst mothers in anime, frequently berating, beating, and occasionally killing her 85 children. God Save Us from the Queen! indeed.
  • Queen Himiko from the Dawn arc of Phoenix, who then dooms her kingdom by exiling her Brother when he finally tells her enough is enough.
  • Kano from Texhnolyze, the Big Bad. While very intelligent, charismatic and eloquent, he's a deranged solipsist who believes that he's the only real person in a world that exists inside his mind. A possible explanation for this may be the fact that he's the result of generations of selective inbreeding, designed to create the perfect ruler.
  • Light Yagami, a.k.a. Kira, of Death Note certainly qualifies in the latter part of the story as an unusually intelligent and competent example of this trope, as his reign is based strictly on his personal idea of justice, not to mention that his god complex consistently gets in the way of his judgment. Those who disagree or stand in the way have about forty seconds to live.
  • The Valerian sovereign in Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-. According to a letter of distress, he starts indiscriminately murdering people and having their corpses dumped in the Sinners' Valley in his "fits of insanity." Then, after he believes that everyone else in Valeria is dead, he jumps in himself and commits suicide in front of Yuui. The Valerian people chalk his insanity up to the curse of the twins.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Freeza is a violent tyrant who readily kills his own men when he's in a foul mood, but he's otherwise coldly logical and calculating. That is, until he falls off the deep end when he is defeated by Goku. When he's rebuilt into a cyborg, he rushes to Earth with his dad to get revenge and is killed by Future Trunks. When he's revived, instead of listening to his men who beg him to leave the Super Saiyan alone and rebuild his failing empire, he ignores them and devotes all his remaining resources to invading Earth. Although he lasts longer against Goku and Vegeta thanks to his four months of training, he's killed again in the end, and what is left of his empire also dies on Earth.
  • Kino's travels in Kino's Journey takes her to a country ruled by one such leader. Visitors are immediately imprisoned and enslaved, with their only chance for freedom being a life-or-death gladiatorial tournament that will also grant them the power to enact a new law if they win. When Kino does well enough in the tournament to be granted a personal audience with the king, he's revealed to be a schizophrenic lunatic.
  • When Ping Yang Hou takes the throne in Goddess Creation System people have mixed feelings at first until he starts quickly shaping up to be an insane tyrant, including executing a minister on the spot for refusing to given his dead wife the position of queen.

    Comic Books 
  • X-Men: Former Shi'ar king D'Ken, who is at least partially responsible for Vulcan being as screwed up as he is, was another fine example... until he was killed by, you guessed it, Vulcan. Afterwards, Vulcan becomes king of the Shi'ar empire and essentially drives the people to hell, dividing them and thus starting the War of Kings.
  • The Joker is presented this way in quite a few Batman media.
    • The 1994 story "The Great Pretender" (the first in a miniseries of Showcase issues each featuring a different Batman villain) shows us an alternate Gotham City in which the Joker has apparently taken over everything and crowned himself "King." In addition to his usual cold-blooded murders, King Joker makes his subjects take baths in custard, has all government employees dress in Elizabethan-era costumes, and broadcasts his decrees via giant video screens towering over the streets of Gotham. And as if all that wasn't wild enough, there are numerous crazed men running around in white makeup and green hair dye who seek to overthrow King Joker, including an amnesiac who believes he is the Joker. Plus, various Batman impostors are also roaming the streets to do battle with all these faux Jokers. Yeah, it gets pretty crazy.
    • He also exhibits some of these characteristics in the 1989 movie, such as when he appears at the Gotham City 200th Anniversary Parade seated on a throne (in Real Life an actual throne, donated by the King of Sweden). He also, like Nero (see below), fancies himself a Mad Artist, although his "masterpieces" are mostly just vandalized or outright destroyed works by other artists or human victims whose faces he has perversely scarred. He even has one of his Mooks carry around a boombox playing a song whose first verse announces: "All hail the new king in town!"
    • Emperor Joker shows that rule under a God-Emperor Joker would lead to a World Gone Mad.
  • Conan the Barbarian came up against mad and corrupt kings with some regularity, but the most notable of these was King Numedides, who Conan overthrew to become king of Aquilonia. Numedides regularly had men and women flayed alive for minor transgressions; indeed, when Conan was imprisoned in his tower, Numedides executed a dancer who Conan liked and ordered a scrap of her flesh tossed in Conan's cell. Conan immediately recognized who it belonged to because of the dancer's many tattoos. As well, in order to become immortal, Numedides enlisted the services of the Evil Sorcerer Thulandra Thuu; together, they sacrificed young women in order for Numedides to bathe in their blood.
  • Like Conan, Red Sonja has come up against her fair share of mad kings. Unlike Conan, most of them attempted to imprison her in their harems. Bad move.
  • Sin City's Roark Junior, a.k.a. That Yellow Bastard, would have been this if he was able to inherit his family's political power. He was an insane and violent sexual deviant who preyed on kids... and was being groomed as a future US president before he met his end.
  • In the Dark Empire arc of the Star Wars comic lines, Palpatine became this after his first resurrection. Although he was definitely not a good person prior to his first death in Return of the Jedi, he at least was sane enough to actually succeed in his plans and manipulate factors in his favor. Afterwards, he's become just yet another insane, megalomaniacal tyrant. (His increased insanity was heavily implied to be the direct result of transferring his spirit into clones.) It also probably didn't help that said clones were being sabotaged by one of his guards to genetically break down.
  • 2000 AD:
  • Judge Dredd:
    • Chief Judge Cal in the story "The Day The Law Died" (collected as Judge Caligula) is, as the name suggests, closely based on the Emperor (even being drawn to resemble John Hurt in I, Claudius). Caligula (allegedly) made his horse a senator; Cal made his goldfish Deputy Chief Judge. Caligula demanded grandiose building projects; Cal expected the citizens to build a mile-high wall around Mega-City One in a week. He also argued with deceased former Chief Judges, preserved his execution victims in vinegar, and sentenced the entire city to death twice. At least the mile-high wall actually helped protect the city later on.
    • Subverted however with the version of Judge Cal who shows up in "Helter Skelter". He's from an Alternate Universe where he actually killed Judge Dredd and has been the tyrannical ruler of Mega-City One for over 20 years, precisely because unlike his mainstream counterpart he wasn't insane (just evil), allowing him to make more rational choices. He's still indicated to be a Bad Boss though.
  • Aquila: Emperor Nero (who is incidentally the Trope Namer's nephew) is a total lunatic who spends most of his time having people tortured and crucified by the thousands to end his boredom.

    Fan Works 
  • While Rupert Chill is stated to be the ruler of Planet Zok (which appears in a few Calvinverse stories), he spends most of his time yelling at his crew and trying to capture Calvin.
  • Scar in The Lion King Adventures, just as in the film. He even becomes so power-crazed that Hago kills him.
  • In A Brief History of Equestria, it is shown that while most of the founders of Equestria were Flanderized in the Hearth's Warming Eve pageant, Chancellor Puddinghead, on the other hand, was toned down, elected via youth vote and managed to get killed shortly after Hearth's Warming in a stupid dare. Among many, many, other things like appointing her pet parrot to her cabinet, which it retained even after it died.
    • On the other hand Commander Sullamander, Hurricane's predecessor was less the humorous type and more the savage dictator type, who in her last years formed a Cult of Personality around herself. General Wind Whistler was able to lead roughly two-thirds of the pegasus military against her when the coup came since she was that hated.
  • In Star Wars Paranormalities Trilogy, we are given Masochus, easily the most unhinged of the Valkoran leaders. For starters, he skinned himself down to the bone (only retaining some connective, vital, and sensory organs; and he's still alive), and he's done similar things (such as for experiments) to other Valkoran soldiers just because he could. He also compulsively hates everything and everyone just to stay alive. This is deconstructed in his backstory as a former Sith Lord, as this behavior got him exiled from the Sith Empire after killing too many civilians and soldiers alike for his own amusement. In the present day of the main story, Emperor Valkor doesn't mind his insanity as long as it isn't too counterproductive to his long-term goals (and Masochus is actually one of his closest supporters), but even then, the majority of the Valkoran Empire still hates his guts.
  • Eugenesis has Galvatron, who spends most of his time either just sitting on his throne not doing anything, or having hundreds of troops killed for non-existent plots to poison his drinks. It's mentioned that before he came back from wherever it was he'd been, the Decepticons under Soundwave had almost taken back all of Cybertron. The only reason they don't get rid of Galvatron now is that he's Galvatron.
  • The rewrite of Sonic X: Dark Chaos depicts The Prophet Muhammad (yeah, that one) as a sadistic demagogue with a penchant for slaughtering infidels and pedophilia. The background material expands on him; he tried to irrigate fields with vats of human blood, ordered every dog in the universe to be strangled because one barked at him, and invaded a galaxy based on the commands of a palm tree. It's rather telling that many characters — including his own Muslim followers — fear him more than they fear Maledict and the Demons. Even Jesus and the Angels consider him The Friend Nobody Likes and are planning on quietly assassinating him the first chance they get.
    • Beelzebub is a more straight example; though he isn't a monarch, his Psychopathic Manchild personality and disturbing sexual fetishes make him this trope. He's despised by pretty much all the other Demon leadership — even Maledict thinks his cruelty goes too far but keeps him around for his sheer intelligence.
  • In Hivefled Her Imperious Condescension manages to be even crazier than she is in Homestuck canon due to her habit of kidnapping and raping teenagers for fun with The Grand Highblood and keeping one guy she has a crush on wired into her spaceship so she can continue torturing him and even had a child with him that she later forced into Parental Incest with because they "looked so cute together." What's even more disturbing is that she makes the case that her relationship with The Grand Highblood has actually reined in her Caligula tendencies, meaning she could be even worse.
  • Canon Princess Celestia is a wise and reasonable ruler, with just a few trickster shades. Fanon tends to exaggerate those shades out of proportion. The result is "Princess Trollestia", who falls squarely into this trope. The best-known example is probably the flash Friendship Is Magic Bitch.
  • The Conversion Bureau: Many iterations of TCB!Princess Celestia portray her as a deranged tyrant who commits genocide against entire species.
  • Summer Crowns has the Tattered Prince after he conquers Pentos, at which point he runs a Kangaroo Court day and night, slaughtering the magisters for laughs and distributing their holdings amongst his followers.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: While she was never officially declared the queen of the chronofly kingdom, Falla Cii fits the bill in several ways. She's an absolute sociopath who only cares about herself and her own power, and sought to become queen so she could go on to become a warmonger and take over the entire world. In fact, her parents passed her over as queen in favor of Luna for this very reason: because she was too focused on the power to actually use it properly. Luna even tells her as such point-blank in Act IV, remarking that if Falla had become queen, her rule would have run their kingdom into the ground and wiped out their race. Ironically, Falla did exactly that when she found out that she was being passed over; she was so outraged at being passed over that she destroyed the entire kingdom and their entire species, declaring that if she can't be queen, then no one will be.
    Falla: Fine… so be it… if I can't be queen… NOBODY WILL BE!
  • Loved and Lost: After Prince Jewelius overthrows his aunts Princess Celestia and Luna by using the events of "A Canterlot Wedding" to destroy their reputations as well as those of Shining Armor and Twilight's friends (he tries the same with his cousin Princess Cadance, but isn't very successful), he proclaims himself "Holy King Jewelius I". At first, he's a Villain with Good Publicity thanks to his Mask of Sanity, but he's ultimately proven to be a narcissistic sociopath who delusionally regards his reign to be superior to that of the princesses and can't stand it when ponies think about them favourably. He imposes raised taxes and trading prohibitions on the entire town of Ponyville because he hated some comments made by Twilight's friends, and willfully focuses on hunting down the fugitive heroes at the expense of preparing against a new Changeling invasion, even though the fugitives have become the public's smallest concern at that point and Queen Chrysalis has a personal score to settle with him. He gets engaged to Twilight Sparkle in hopes of getting powerful heirs for his legacy, but he admits that if he discovered an even more powerful unicorn mare, he'd get rid of Twilight through a staged accident. He eventually leads his army (most of which is composed of released convicts he hired to replace the murdered Royal Guards who stayed loyal to the princesses) to wipe out Ponyville's inhabitants along with all the heroes as the ultimate statement of his rulership, even though unlike him, none of his chief minions are okay with this. When one of his guards questions the extremeness of such an act, Jewelius throws him out of the throne room's window. Oh, and he demotes Prince Blueblood to his personal servant and replaces the banners that depict Celestia and Luna's symbol with those that depict a proud-looking illustration of himself.
    Jewelius: If I can't control this nation through propaganda, then I'll just have to control it through fear.
  • Earth's Alien History has Matriarch T'Kell, the leader of the Vulcan Lost Colony known as the Last-of-all-Cities, who is an utter psychopath who rules with an iron fist and lashes out violently at anyone who disagrees with her. When a rival faction seems close to overthrowing her, she's perfectly willing to use a weapon that might destroy the whole planetoid her people are on to defeat them, seeing it as preferable to letting them win.
  • In An Empire of Ice and Fire, Joffrey actually manages to be even worse than in canon, eventually going so insane that he declares himself a god. Around this point, he starts sentencing thousands of people from across Westeros and Essos to slave labor and forcing them to build a giant pyramid in honor of himself, and at another point he gleefully has Myrcella burned alive to power a spell meant to kill all his enemies.
  • The backstory of The Smeet Series has Tallest Laven. After his wife died in childbirth, their smeet dying with her, he went mad with grief and eventually decided that if he couldn't have a happy family, no Irken could. To this end, he outlawed natural reproduction in the Irken Empire and led a purge of all pregnant Irkenettes and naturally-born smeets.
  • Ryuko Kiryuin in Natural Selection definitely qualifies. She's moody, violent, and utterly detached from the value of human life. She's also in charge of what should have been a bastion against the Life Fibers and turned it into a den of madness. Every month she throws city-wide slaughter-fests for her own amusement and burned down the Honnouji slums twice over; the first as an act of spite towards her sister, and the second in a fit of rage from being rejected by Mako.
  • For the Glory of Irk: After becoming Tallest, Xia is convinced that she's the best there's ever been at her job but is only interested in doing the "fun" parts (like warfare and ordering people around) while finding the concept of doing actual work boring.
  • Wish Carefully: After the light side gives him control of Wizarding Britain, Voldemort makes the country into a dystopian state; as a massive Control Freak, he passes a bunch of draconian laws including requiring wizards to receive the Dark Mark once they come of age, frequently tortures his Death Eaters at random through their Dark Marks, and at one point tortured everyone on the street wearing glasses. None of this helps his side in any way because nobody wants to move to a country with him in charge, so the Dark Siders wind up suffering population decline and Generational Magic Decline thanks to their inbreeding practices.

    Films — Animated 
  • Kuzco from The Emperor's New Groove is one example where the Caligula in question is the protagonist, although he's spoiled, feckless, and self-absorbed rather than outright insane. The plot is about how he gets better and learns to be less selfish. The film implies that his being in the trope at the start of the movie was due to Yzma's influence when he was growing up. Yzma plays the trope straight. After throwing him off the throne, she displayed all the traits of a stereotypical Caligula, including outright madness — like decorating the entire palace in hot pink and electric purple!
  • Roberto is depicted as one in Futurama: Bender's Game, having sent his entire army out to wage war on scallops, but sunk the ships wiping them out.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: While he's not exactly the ruler of Paris per se, Frollo is the city's default authority. As he becomes more and more obsessed with Esmeralda, he ramps up his persecution of the Roma and then starts torching the houses of random people for charges of treason that he essentially made up. Even the common citizens say that he's gone mad. It reaches its peak when he has his men attack Notre Dame in pursuit of Esmeralda and Quasimodo, an institution that everyone in Paris looks up to and which Frollo himself had previously respected. This act allows Phoebus to easily rouse the people of Paris to arms against him.
  • Scar in The Lion King (1994). He wasn't the one in line to inherit the throne but usurped it through intrigue, his ambition, megalomania, and ruthlessness. While he didn't become completely ridiculous, since he's less delusional or psychotic than many other examples, he did start acting like an overgrown brat who was only concerned about everyone remembering who's in charge instead of governing or taking any responsibility seriously, and openly threatens anyone who criticizes his rule. The mere mention of Mufasa is enough to send him into a flying rage. Even his own hyena lackeys grudgingly think Mufasa was a better king than Scar.
  • Ruber from Quest for Camelot is just a rogue knight, but he aims to become this trope after reclaiming the Excalibur and overthrowing Arthur.
  • King Koo-Koo, the ruler of Loony Land in Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure, is a textbook example of this — even by the standards of his realm. The only thing in existence he seems to care about is his frustration at being extremely short, which he is determined to fix by granting himself endless opportunities to laugh at other people (since laughing makes him swell up to the size of a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon). To this end, he has his Dragon, the crazed knight Sir Leonard Loony, play all kinds of practical jokes on anyone who visits his court (and even keeps an entire wagon full of cream pies on hand for Pie in the Face gags), all the while making his courtiers laugh so hysterically that over time they have degenerated into zany robotic monstrosities. He ultimately crosses the Moral Event Horizon when, in his bid to become the largest being who ever lived, he has a giant squid monster who is his friend entertain him by trying to literally tickle all the good guys to death.
  • The events of The Spongebob Squarepants Movie would never have happened if Neptune hadn't been such a terrible king whose incompetence and tyranny Plankton could exploit. Even when Bikini Bottom has become Planktopolis, the guy's only concern is finding a way to cover his bald spot.
  • King Candy from Wreck-It Ralph, who rules the world of Sugar Rush. He can be seen as somewhat kooky, but a respected authority figure, as he actually participates in (and always wins) the daily races. After an initial burst of temper, he reasons with Ralph and explains his point of view in a way that makes sense. But his hideously single-minded campaign of vengeance against one homeless little kid signifies deeper issues. In reality, King Candy is actually Turbo, an arrogant racer from the '80s arcade game Turbo Time. As Turbo, he went into the game's mainframe, removed Vanellope's data and everyone's memories of her, and adopted the persona of King Candy.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 13 Assassins, Lord Naritsugu is the Shogun's little brother, and uses his position to commit all manner of horrific atrocities, such that his house's vassals start committing seppuku in protest. The main conflict of the movie is that the Shogun wants him killed without dishonouring their house.
  • The Alternate Universe version of Biff Tannen in Back to the Future Part II. Using the Gray's Sports Almanac he obtained from his future self, he wins an insane amount of money from gambling, which he uses to become mayor and buy off the police, turning Hill Valley into a lawless Vice City.
  • In the Woody Allen film Bananas, the rebel leader Esposito goes mad with power the second he gains control of San Marcos. For your consideration, his speech to the people of San Marcos:
    "From this day on, the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish. In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check. Furthermore, all children under 16 years old are now... 16 years old!"
  • Barbarella: The Black Queen is confirmed to have more than a few screws loose before we even see her. When Barbarella is in the Labyrinth, Prof. Ping explains to her that the reason the Labyrinth's prisoners eat orchids for sustenance, when they are supposedly difficult to cultivate and expensive, is because the Black Queen is amused by resenting the expenses of feeding them. Go figure.
  • There is Caligula himself, who appears in the guise of Jay Robinson in The Robe (1953) and Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954) and of Malcolm McDowell in (what else?) Caligula (1979).
  • Admiral General Aladeen from The Dictator. Among other things, the guy has his own men executed for the most trivial reasons such as his nuclear missile program head not having made the missile pointy or one of his men accidentally blocking him on a staircase (though it turns out his executioners are rebels and everyone he has ordered killed is alive and living in New York), he hosted his own "Aladeen Games" where he won every single event (one event showed being a race where he shoots the other athletes in the leg and has the finishing line carried forward to break it) and changed a large percentage of the words in the language in his country to "Aladeen"...including contradictory words like "positive/negative" and "open/closed", causing immense confusion. All Played for Laughs, naturally.
  • Kruger would have become this if he actually succeeded in taking over Elysium.
  • The Roman Emperor Commodus as depicted in Gladiator and The Fall of the Roman Empire. Commodus wasn't as bad in real life as he was in either film, but he still wasn't the sort of monarch you'd take home to mother — he was known to believe that he was the reincarnation of Hercules, and as a result, he cared very little for his administrative duties. He once walked into the Senate with a severed ostrich head, fought as a gladiator in the arena, and is best known for ending the "Five Good Emperors". Dissatisfied members of the Senate had him eventually assassinated by paying his wrestling buddy to strangle him in the bath.
  • Aedenoid Hynkel from The Great Dictator, a parody of Hitler who even dances with a globe of the world as he thinks of becoming 'Emperor of the World'.
  • The King of The King and the Clown is based on the Korean ruler Yeonsan-gun of Joseon. In the film, he is ruthless and erratic in his behavior, but also very cultured and rather sympathetic at times, with loads of Freudian Excuse.
  • The portrayal of Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland exemplifies this trope almost perfectly. He begins as an Anti-Hero and descends into complete madness and insanity.
  • Harold Shand, the anti-hero of the classic 1980 British gangster movie The Long Good Friday. He begins as a competent mob boss with grand ambitions, who nonetheless seems sane and grounded. After a series of mysterious and violent incidents chip away at his criminal empire, he gradually falls apart; by the end of the film, he has slit the throat of his most trusted lieutenant, alienated his most valuable business partners, and had his fellow gang bosses strung up on meat hooks. It all ends badly.
  • In Lord of War Andre Baptiste Sr. has elements of the character type, but it's an arguable case as he doesn't have clear control over his country, fighting a civil war.
  • King Brian the Wild, in a section of Monty Python and the Holy Grail which was cut from the final script — but incorporated into the computer game.
  • Swan, the villainous record producer of Phantom of the Paradise. Though he styles himself as an Affably Evil manipulator, almost every single decision he makes in the film is made on a whim: his employees are hired, fired, or reassigned on the flimsiest of reasons, he imprisons his stars in torturously ironclad contracts, rewrites the Phantom's music to cater to his own eccentric tastes, and orders his fiancée assassinated at his wedding for the sake of publicity. Worse still, not only is he in complete control of the music industry, he's also immortal.
  • Long Dinh, king of Vietnam in The Prince and the Pagoda Boy. In a slight variation, his father tried to avert it by naming one of his more level-headed brothers the next king, but Long kills his brother and takes the throne anyway. He then proceeds to be exceedingly decadent, a warmonger, ordering people killed over nothing, and even forces himself on his General's Love Interest.
  • Quo Vadis gave us a delightfully mad Nero played by Peter Ustinov. Arguably one of the best things in the whole movie.
  • The Scarlet Empress: Tsar Peter III is given to playing with toy soldiers, and marching his Prussian guards around indoors when it rains. His brief time as tsar seems to be a carnival of misrule, with endless proclamations, and Cossack stormtroopers going around raping and stealing. Peter is also shown taking a potshot out of his window with a rifle and killing a guard, For the Evulz.
  • Thor: Ragnarok has two separate examples (ironically, not including former candidate Loki, who turns out to be a peaceful, Renaissance sort of ruler while posing as Odin, albeit neglectful of maintaining Asgard's police presence in other realms):
    • The Grandmaster is a Laughably Evil example, as he is presented as a hilarious Cloud Cuckoolander that rules over a planet with an iron fist, forcing people to fight in the arena and executing those who displease him with a melting stick. Needless to say, Loki considers him a "lunatic" though to be fair, the Grandmaster has been ruling Sakaar for ages which implies that he is at least competent enough to stay in power. The post-credit scene shows he was deposed by revolutionaries.
    • Hela, on the other hand, plays this trope completely serious. As soon as she takes control of Asgard (by slaughtering their entire army by herself no less), she begins a Reign of Terror upon her kingdom to recover the Bifrost sword so she can re-start her campaign of conquest of all realms in existence. She is so bad that nobody really likes her, outside of her undead minions (who are beholden to her will), the only one who willingly follows her is Skurge, who is scared witless of her.

  • K. A. Applegate loves this trope, and all of her series feature it to varying degrees:
    • Visser Three from Animorphs fits this trope like a glove. In the main series he's an Ax-Crazy Evil Overlord who executes subordinates at the drop of a hat, meets every threat that comes his way with overwhelming force, and due to being the only Andalite-Controller and having a bastion of Eldritch Abomination morphs is a Physical God by the definitions of this series. The prequel Chronicles books show his backstory as a quite sane and capable Manipulative Bastard who climbed from obscurity by studying the Andalites when no one else would. This study led to his obsession with becoming the first Yeerk to infest an Andalite, a goal he eventually reaches. Once he hits that high mark, there's nowhere else to go but down. The Animorphs often conspire to keep him in charge of the invasion, as his leadership makes the Yeerks less effective. For instance, Visser Three is convinced that the resistance are "Andalite bandits". Some of his underlings have begun to suspect they may actually be humans who can morph, but since people who offer unsolicited opinions to Visser Three tend to end up sans head, they keep this suspicion to themselves. If Visser Three weren't such a Caligula, he might have caught them.
    • Most of the gods portrayed in the series Everworld fit this description perfectly. Almost every god that the main characters encounter, regardless of what mythology they originate from, has an utterly apathetic regard for life in general (being gods and all) and shows a certain degree of sadism, though some of them (especially Neptune) are simply bat-shit insane.
    • In Remnants, Tamara's baby. It was damaged by whatever they were exposed to on the journey over, and grew up quickly into a monster, who led humans and then some of the aliens.
  • A. E. van Vogt's Empire of the Atom and The Wizard of Linn has the most prominent characters as analogues of Roman history, starting with Clane/Claudius. "Calaj" is the obvious Caligula stand-in, the grandson of Lydia/Livia and related to Clane and Tews/Tiberius.
  • King Ademar of Gorhaut in Guy Gavriel Kay's A Song For Arbonne has rabid dogs tearing each other to pieces before the throne and maids give him blowjobs right in front of a very discomfited court, among many other strange hobbies.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • King Aerys II "The Mad" Targaryen was the worst king that Westeros ever had, and a powerful 300-year old dynasty was overthrown because of his insane actions. Bonus points for being killed by one of his bodyguards.
    • King Joffrey Baratheon's reckless, childish cruelty and love of ordering executions result in a continent-wide civil war. Ironically, if Joffrey's father actually was who he says he was, then Joffrey would be distantly related to Aerys,note  but Joffrey was actually fathered by his mother's twin brother and his grandparents were Kissing Cousins, so this streak of insanity, for once, has nothing to do with being related to the Targaryens. Thankfully, his siblings Tommen and Myrcella have shown no signs of following his path despite identical lineage.
    • Indeed, the whole Targaryen dynasty had this trope going on multiple times along the way, to the point that Jaehaerys II said that when Targaryens were born the gods flipped a coin between madness and greatness, although this is an exaggeration. Most of them were either good and competent rulers like Jaehaerys the Conciliator and Daeron the Good or simply unremarkable, with Mad King Aerys and Maegor the Cruel being the only Caligulas to actually sit the throne, though there were other Caligulas who didn't become king but tended to get away with their excesses because of their family. The fourth King Aegon, known as the Unworthy, was a lecherous Fat Bastard but not crazypants, while King Baelor the Blessed was not all there but his crazy took the form of extreme piety, peacefulness and charity (such that he died of fasting to death), so most people remember him as one of the gooduns.
    • Of Aerys's three children (that survived infancy), his son Rhaegar was a Byronic Hero of questionable sanity given his fixation on prophecy and his abduction of Lyanna Stark igniting the civil war, and his daughter Daenerys is clearly sane (with even Aerys's former Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Ser Barristan, certifying that she's nothing like her father), while his other son Viserys was the next Caligula-to-be. The dynastic tradition of Brother–Sister Incest might have had something to do with this, to the point that Daenerys's great-grandfather, the fifth Aegon (who married a non-Targaryen) intended to end this practice and was quite displeased when his children Jaehaerys II and Shaera copied his Marry for Love decision but married each other and then forced their own children, the aforementioned Aerys and Rhaella, into this themselves against their will because it was foretold The Chosen One would be born of Aerys and Rhaella's line (which seems to be true, since the most obvious candidates for The Chosen One in the series are their daughter Daenerys, Jon Snow, who is likely to be their son Rhaegar's son with Lyanna Stark, or both).
    • There is Cersei as Queen Regent, as well. Not quite as bad as her son Joffrey when it comes to the pointlessly petty bonkers though (not like that's particularly hard). Although... she is currently being far more effective at ruling spectacularly badly, mainly thanks to being a drunk, spoiled and narcissistic adult on the throne.
    • He's not the king, but Robert Arryn, a six-year-old who still literally suckles his mother's teat and likes to watch "bad men fly" (people he doesn't like being thrown from the top of his mountain keep), is the hereditary heir to the title of Lord of the Vale and Warden of the East, essentially putting the keeping of one-fourth of the kingdom in his care. And now he's got Littlefinger as his chief counselor...although it seems that Littlefinger has made him less of a brat, teaching him to respect his inferiors at least a little bit.
  • The Queen of Hearts in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, arguably. Adaptations have played it up even more.
  • The Crackling Prince in Walter Jon Williams' Aristoi seems to qualify, although he never appears and is referred to only in discussing the past. He planned on "artistically" reconfiguring planetary landscapes with gravity generators — with the people still living on them and expected to be grateful. Understandably "a commission had been formed in Perseopolis to examine his behavior", but he was somehow persuaded to retire before the other Aristoi actually did anything.
  • The Belgariad:
    • The ruling Urga line of Cthol Murgos all reliably go insane before late middle age. Taur Urgas is said to execute people for stepping on his shadow and encourages his sons to kill each other so the strongest one can claim the throne; when the king of Algaria kills him, he turns completely animalistic in his death throes.
    • Urgit, his successor in the Mallorean, survived to that point by stealing a key to the treasury and hiring assassins; he's actually sane, if a Deadpan Snarker, but that's because he's not Taur Urgas's son at all — his mother had an affair with Silk's father, and he was the result. Thankfully for Cthol Murgos, the Urga bloodline has died out.
    • Urgit does seem a bit unstable at first, though more flippant than bloodthirsty, but that is because he is very well aware of the 'all reliably go insane before late middle age' rule. If you know you'll descend into insanity soon enough, why bother? As soon as he learns why his mother is so insistent the Urga curse won't affect him, he quickly drops the flippancy and becomes an effective ruler.
  • Cats vs. Robots: The rulers of both the Great Feline Empire and the Great Robot Federation are both this. Chairman Meow of the former simply wishes to laze about on his throne of cat towers, while SLAYAR would prefer to admire himself from all angles with a whole bunch of mirrors.
  • Meet High Lord Kalarus from Codex Alera: exploited his people for every speck of wealth, perfected discipline collars, tried to overthrow the First Lord by allying with Alera's oldest enemies, and when that failed, tried to take the entire country with him. Not a nice guy, and a few legionnaires short of a cohort.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "A Witch Shall Be Born", Queen Taramis' subjects think she's gone mad after her sister Salome, the title witch, imprisons and replaces her.
  • Vlad the Impaler in Count and Countess, though he will try to tell you otherwise.
  • Swemmel, king of Unkerlant, in Harry Turtledove's Darkness novels, who's really just a Fantasy Counterpart Culture equivalent of Josef Stalin.
  • Discworld throws a few examples at us:
    • There was King Gurnt the Stupid of Lancre, whose attempt at training an aerial attack force of armored ravens never got off the ground.
    • Duke Felmet, also of Lancre, might have been stable before he gained the throne through regicide, but afterwards, he would regularly try to remove the blood from his hands via sandpaper or cheese grater and be surprised that this only generated more.
    • His wife is even worse, being nothing more than a card carrying Social Darwinist sociopath.
    • Ankh-Morpork has had its share of unbalanced rulers as well, like King Ludwig the Tree, who once issued a royal proclamation on the need to develop a new type of frog and thought up the city motto "Quanti Canicula Ille In Fenestra" (which is pseudo-Latin for "How much is that doggy in the window?"), and King Lorenzo the Kind, who was "very fond of children". King Lorenzo was the last straw; after his execution, Ankh-Morpork became a republic, led by the Patrician — although actually, it was more like the nobles appointed one of their number to wield power. By the time of the books, the Council chooses the Patrician and includes nobles and Guild leaders. Safe to say there is no electing in the modern sense going on. Some of the Patricians weren't much better:
    • Homicidal Lord Winder turned Ankh-Morpork into a police state out of paranoia.
    • The aptly named Psychoneurotic (sometimes merely Mad) Lord Snapcase — who, in a Shout-Out to Caligula, made his horse a councilor. (Although it apparently wasn't a bad one compared to the others: a vase, a heap of sand, and three people who had been beheaded.)
    • The Agatean Emperor in Interesting Times, who is liable to order people tortured to death or rewarded based upon the slightest whim (since no one ever dared to tell him that this is wrong).
  • The Kingpriest of Istar from Dragonlance. Once a heroic cleric who served the Gods of Good, he steadily became more paranoid and extreme in his efforts to battle evil, dragging his whole nation with him and turning it into a fascistic theocracy that perverted the will of the Gods. In time, he began to commit so much nightmarish evil in the name of good (including carrying out genocidal campaigns on "bad" races, burning rival priests at the stake, brainwashing people to act according to his will to, and much more) that he started to singlehandedly upset the cosmic balance, forcing the Gods to throw a meteor at his city to stop him from tearing apart the fabric of reality itself with his madness. Now that's a Caligula!
  • The Harkonnens in Frank Herbert's Dune novel were a family of Caligulas. Gladiatorial death sports, hunting humans as game, raping slaves, murdering random servants, obscenely expensive luxuries, drug addiction, torture as entertainment—they did it all.
    • In the prequels, Vladimir Harkonnen's brother (Rabban and Feyd's father) is weird because he isn't like that.
  • Caligula is a central character to the novel I, Claudius by Robert Graves, and he is as insane as you would think.
    • He declares himself a god, which he feels justifies murdering his father and sleeping with his sisters (all 3 of them!)
      • Modern historians generally agree that Germanicus was actually poisoned on the orders of Caligula's somewhat less insane great uncle Tiberius so that he wouldn't become his competitor for the throne (Julii-Claudii were like that), but little Bootsie seems to actually follow his uncle and not his father. Unfortunately for Rome, while Tiberius (probably) was a psychopath and sadist in private life, he was largely a shrewd and successful ruler, Caligula on his part…
    • And when he actually becomes emperor... you'd better watch out.
  • In Castle Hangnail, the ghost Edward recalls that the king back in his day was Mad King Harold, who believed he was a cuttlefish, proclaimed himself the Emperor of All Oceans, and tried to declare war on the clouds for not paying tribute.
  • The "Gentleman With the Thistle-down Hair" from Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell both in his dealings with humans and management of his kingdom in Faerie. Which is, admittedly, pretty common among faeries.
  • The original one is mentioned in Lord Chesterfield's Letters to His Son. "A silly tyrant said, 'oderint modo timeant'" (letter 164)
    • Also, "A tyrant with legions at his command may say, Oderint modo timeant [they shall hate me as long as they fear me]; though he is a fool if he says it, and a greater fool if he thinks it."
  • The Prophet's House Quintology loves this trope, featuring the deranged twenty-something dictator Anora, as well as her nephew/husband Anaias (who's even worse).
  • The Reluctant King: Nervos the Daft, Vindium's king, was a bloodthirsty lunatic who wasted most of his treasury getting made gold statues of himself, had tons of people near him killed (including family), and entertained himself through having his army pretend to be frogs. Not surprisingly, a group of his nobles and officials killed him.
  • In Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar series, King Rodric IV descended into insanity as the Riftwar proceeded. Subverted at the end of his reign, when the blow to his head that eventually killed him also released him from his lunacy sufficiently to allow him to appoint a good successor.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga:
    • The Barrayaran Empire had a Mad Emperor Yuri about a generation before the Vorkosigan series starts.
    • Prince Serg would certainly have qualified, had he not... conveniently died... before succeeding to the throne.
    • There is a widely-mentioned historical case where a Count Vortala did appoint his horse, Midnight, as his heir, but there is no indication that Vortala was either crazy or evil. He just did it as a Take That! to his previous heir, with whom he was having an argument. "If a horse's ass can be a Count, why not the whole horse?"
  • Autarch Sulepis of Shadowmarch has it all — bizarre behavior, tyrannical style of rule, unhealthy fondness for recreational inflicting of pain and designs on godhood which fall spectacularly flat when the god he's trying to enslave proves less than cooperative.
  • At least as portrayed in the 1632 series, Charles I of England seems to qualify. The Stuart monarchs, in general, were firm believers in the Divine Right of Kings; they were also generally pretty feckless as rulers. 1632 Charles has heard what will happen to him and is lashing out at his future enemies. True to form, he's messing it up (he's driven his historical best supporter into working with Cromwell, who's still alive, if on the run). Odds are the English Civil War will come early in this world. This makes him a particularly incompetent Caligula.
  • The 120 Days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade centers around four French aristocrats who use their vast wealth and power to have sixteen young teenagers kidnapped. They lock themselves in a secluded castle with those teenagers, their own daughters, four old prostitutes, eight massively endowed men, and the four ugliest old women they can find. Over the next four months, they have the "ultimate in orgies" — they rape, torture, dismember, and murder all but a few of those guests. The film adaptation of this story, which replaces the aristocrats with Italian Fascists, is widely regarded to be one of the most sickening films ever made.
  • This is a concern raised about Maeve in Cold Days. If her mother Mab is killed, then Maeve will inherit the mantle of Queen of Winter. Harry begins to realize just how bad this would be when he starts learning more about Mab's job: The Winter Court's army outnumbers that of the Summer Court by a huge margin, and could probably take over all of Faerie if their Queen willed it. However, the vast majority of Winter's troops are stationed at the Outer Gates, where they are constantly holding off a siege by the Outsiders. If the Outsider army ever got in, they'd destroy reality, and Mab isn't crazy enough to sacrifice reality in favor of her own personal goals. Maeve, however, probably is.
  • Mad King Alan II in Stephen King's The Eyes of the Dragon is a good example of this, although his madness tended more towards harmless debauchery. It was only through the malevolent influence of the story's Big Bad that he inflicted genuine suffering on the populace.
  • Randall Flagg from The Stand barely remembers most of his own life, is prone to childish fits of anger, and doesn't even seem to understand his own motivations; he just seems driven by some instinct or outside force to cause as much mayhem and destruction as he possibly can. And he may or may not be the devil.
  • In Barry Hughart's The Story of the Stone, the infamous Laughing Prince committed all sorts of horrors on the peasants in his valley, some of them in pursuit of immortality, some just because he was crazy. He was named for his cheerful, laughing demeanor and charming little dance step. Li Kao diagnoses him as brain-damaged from repeated consumption of a mercury-laced "elixir of life."
  • In Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne, the Orlesian usurper Meghren, who is given control of Ferelden by The Emperor, really hates being stuck in this "backwater" part of the Orlesian Empire. As such, he forces the Ferelden nobles to go out of their way to please him... and then randomly executes a few just for kicks. He doesn't care about ruling the land and only wants to get back into the Emperor's good graces so that he will be allowed to return to the Orlesian capital.
  • Julian: Gallus was always a bit of a sociopath, but he goes downhill fast once made Caesar. Libanius comments that much of what he did copied Caligula and Nero's reigns as if he deliberately studied Roman history to find new atrocities to commit.
  • Terror the mastiff mix from Survivor Dogs cruelly beats up the dogs in his own pack for even the slightest hint of doubt about him and the "Fear Dog". It's soon revealed that the pack will fight for Terror because they're scared of him. But once Lick kills him, a new leader rises in his place: Twitch.
  • The Age of Fire series has SiDrakkon, a lazy and hedonistic dragon who never gets off his tailvent unless it's to fight. When he eventually becomes Tyr, his refusal to actually do anything related to leadership brings the Lavadome to the brink of civil war, and the last time we see him before SiMevolant assassinates him, he's in his bath, ranting about how everything that isn't silver is corrupt and impure.
  • The Hunger Games has President Snow, who shares numerous historical parallels with the despised Roman emperor Nero. And also President Coin, who is so bad that Katniss chooses to assassinate her when she is supposed to kill President Snow.
  • Don Lopez de Meruel, the Dictator of Santa Barbara in Odtaa. He's overthrown by a rebellion shortly after he proclaims himself God and announces that henceforth no other religion shall be permitted in Santa Barbara.
  • In the New Jedi Order, Supreme Overlord Shimrra of the Yuuzhan Vong is loony even by the standards of his bloodthirsty subjects, prone to killing failed (or just annoying) subordinates in creative ways, laughing uproariously while overseeing executions and even declaring war on the gods themselves (when there's still a very real and present war with the New Republic going on, for context), among other strange and cruel actions. Got a head start at the age of seven, when he practiced for future Caligula-hood by murdering his own twin brother. At least some of the weirdness is the result of his being under the control of The Man Behind the Man, who is brilliant but also insane; some of it is his real personality, and some of it is the result of the two of them fighting for control as said puppetmaster's attention starts wandering late in the war. But in any case, Harrar sums it up thusly: "Shimrra hates the sound of reasoned words."
  • In Shadow of the Conqueror, Dayless the Conqueror became a complete sociopath after gaining power, and filled the rest of his reign with a Long List of atrocities: raping hundreds of young girls, genocide, blackmail, betraying his allies, destroying entire cities, seizing and redistributing all wealth, beheading children, executing people for annoying him, and countless other depraved acts. It's no surprise that by the end of his reign, most of the nations in the world were fighting to destroy him and the Dawn Empire by any means necessary.
  • Tarzan and the City of Gold tells the tale of the Lord of the Jungle's entanglement with Queen Nemone of Cathne, a distaff Caligula whose increasing insanity led to her final victim being herself. Some time later, in Tarzan the Magnificent, Lord Greystoke returns to the city to find Nemone's brother Alextar on the throne, nearly as mad as his sister, and eventually suffering the same fate.
  • The Trials of Apollo: Triumvirate Holdings is a company headed up by the three most violent, insane, and power-hungry rulers Rome had ever known: Nero, Commodus, and Caligula himself (who ironically is the most pragmatic of the three), all of whom avoided death by making themselves into minor gods and hiding in the shadows of history to fulfill their ultimate plan of gaining a chokehold on all sources of prophecy and literally controlling the future.
  • Tatiana Moskalev in The Power is a female example. A former Trophy Wife to the dictator of Moldova, she overthrows her husband after the Mass Super-Empowering Event that gives all women electrical powers, and as she grows Drunk with Power, she turns Moldova (rechristened the Republic of Bessapara) into a Lady Land in which men are subjected to increasingly brutal persecution, all while she lives like a Mafiya gangster in her former husband's palace with a harem of Bodyguard Hunks and assorted male personal servants who she publicly humiliates just because she can.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Caligula himself, as magnificently depicted by Ralph Bates in The Caesars (1968) and John Hurt in I, Claudius (1976). (See also Brother–Sister Incest.)
  • The Centauri Republic's insane emperor Cartagia from Babylon 5. He even sets his planet on a path he knows will probably end with it blown into little pieces because he thinks it'll make a fitting ceremony for his ascension to godhood. In the end, soon-to-be Prime Minister Londo and his associates assassinate him. The sad irony is that Cartagia was believed to be an ineffectual puppet, whom Lord Refa hoped to use as a figurehead for his control over the Republic, but turned out to be truly dangerous. At one point, Cartagia shows Londo his secret room, filled with heads of his enemies (mostly, those who disagreed with him or just got on his bad side; one is implied to have been beheaded because he had coughing fits), which he lovingly maintains and talks to, calling them his "Shadow Cabinet".
  • Barbarians Rising doesn't feature Caligula himself, but it does have Valentinian III during the Attila/Geiseric segment. He's incompetent as a ruler but still wants to rule, and as a result, is paranoid that everyone is plotting to usurp him since they keep going behind his back (mostly to protect Rome, but his sister is just power-hungry and is manipulated by Geiseric). This leads to him murdering General Aetius after Aetius defeats Attila and then having his mother, the actual mastermind in the family, executed. He's assassinated afterwards by troops loyal to Aetius, but the damage is done.
  • In Blackadder II, Queen Elizabeth I is an example of this trope Played for Laughs.
    • King George III gets the same treatment in series III.
    • Subverted with King Richard the IV in series I; while very crazy and very blood-thirsty, he's actually a successful and prosperous king.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Romans" portrays Nero in this fashion.
    • BOSS, the Big Bad computer pulling the strings in "The Green Death", is definitely more than a little bit loony, particularly as he counts down to launch his plan for global conquest.
      BOSS: Minutes before the moment of truth sails towards us on time's winged chariot!... I love a really juicy mixed metaphor.
    • The Doctor indulges in some Superdickery by pretending to be this in "The Invasion of Time", feigning power-madness and bullying his underlings into feeding him jelly babies.
    • "The Parting of the Ways": The Daleks are described as having gone mad from hiding in the "dark space" for centuries, and the Dalek Emperor seems to be the maddest of them all.
    • The Master in Series 3, who under the alias of Harold Saxon became Prime Minister, despite still being as mad as ever, if not more so.
      • John Simm had actually played Caligula in a made-for-TV miniseries in 2004, with copious amounts of ham (oh yes). Later, Simm has been quoted as saying that Caligula was just a dress rehearsal for the Master and that he partially based his performance on Caligula.
    • Luke Rattigan in "The Sontaran Stratagem"/"The Poison Sky", who, in addition to being an Insufferable Genius, is quickly revealed to be The Quisling conspiring with the Sontarans to wipe out humanity, with the sole exception of himself and a few chosen intellectuals who will serve as breeding stock as they colonise the planet "Castor 36", aka "Earth.2" or "Rattigan's World". His ultimate Heel–Face Turn only comes after the Sontarans reveal that they had no intention of honouring the deal and the planet itself never existed, leading him to teleport up to the ship with a bomb simply to spite them.
      The Doctor: It's been a long time since anyone's said "No" to you, isn't it?
  • In Earth: Final Conflict, Zo'or schemes his way to become leader of the Taelon Synod, but as time goes by he gets more and more out of control, threatens his subordinates, becomes enraged easily, and is willing to sacrifice all of Earth for his own ends. Characters explicitly compare him to Caligula.
    • As bad as Zo'or was, he was downright restrained when compared to Howlyn, the main antagonist from Season 5. Right out of the gate he wants to conquer Earth, is violent, short-sighted and genocidal. He meets his end when he finally takes control of an Atavus ship that has been dormant for millennia and demands they launch it immediately, without even a basic diagnostic. When trying to take off inevitably wrecks the ship beyond repair, Howlyn keeps screaming at his subordinates to make it fly, until one guy has had enough and kills him.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • King Joffrey is an inbred sadist and an idiot who quickly shapes up into this after taking the throne and publicly murders babies and tortures/kills prostitutes and then wonders why everyone hates him even though he's their king. The notion that people don't automatically love him is completely alien to him. He is responsible for a civil war because he wanted to see Ned Stark's head cut off. He also looks uncannily like the Mad Emperor himself. One of his lines from the Season 3 finale is rather telling:
      Joffrey: I am the King! Everyone is mine to torment!
    • The significantly more evil and demented (if that were possible) Ramsay Bolton as well, who also bears a striking resemblance to perhaps the darkest and most destructive Emperor of them all, Nero.
    • He's not the king, but Robin Arryn,note  a twelve-year-old who still literally suckles his mother's teat and likes to watch "bad men fly" (people he doesn't like being thrown from the top of his mountain keep), is the hereditary heir to the title of Lord of the Vale and Warden of the East, essentially putting the keeping of one-fourth of the kingdom in his care. And now he's got Littlefinger as his chief counselor... Though, with Littlefinger being executed at the end of Season 7, there's a chance he can get better.
    • A certain saying claimed that upon the birth of a Targaryen the gods flip a coin between madness and greatness, with Aerys II and Viserysnote  being father-son examples of the proverbial coin landing on the side that isn't "greatness". Thankfully, Viserys's exile after his father's death limited the extent to which he could embody this trope, while Aerys II was very much this — he was known as "The Mad King" and apparently had a penchant for killing people in nasty ways.
    • Karl Tanner's reign at Craster's Keep involves a great deal of violence and debauchery.
    • At the end of season 6, Cersei Lannister burns down a significant portion of King's Landing to wipe out all her enemies in one fell swoop before crowning herself Queen and intending to start another inbred royal line with her brother Jaime. When the new Targaryen-Stark alliance presents her with evidence of the undead army planning to invade the Seven Kingdoms, she pledges to aid their war effort but is really planning to let the continent go to hell and hope that she'll survive it.
    • As it turns out, Daenerys would probably have turned out somewhat like this, as she starts her reign by making an example of 'the population of King's Landing'' before proceeding to give speeches about freeing the world to her soldiers in the burned-out remains of her capital.
  • Horrible Histories features several of the worst Roman examples in one song, including the trope namer himself, plus Commodus, Elagabalus, and Nero.
  • Julius Caesar (2003): The Roman dictator Sulla is portrayed as this. His political ambitions to maintain the senatorial system is glossed over and he invades Rome and orders purges just to seize personal power. He massacres all his enemies, orders Caesar's heart cut out by Pompey, and sentences a coin minter to death because he felt like it. His tyranny ends when he drowns in his own bath due to a heart attack.
  • Monica Mancuso on Las Vegas. The Montecito's other owners have ranged from reasonable (Gavin Brunson) to friendly (Casey Manning) to aloof but thoughtful (AJ Cooper), but Mancuso gradually devolved into outright megalomania during her stay.
  • Princess Agents: The emperor of Wei isn't as obviously deranged as some examples, but he's crazy and paranoid enough to have an entire family murdered because he's convinced some of them are traitors.
  • Queen for Seven Days: Lee Yung, better known as Yeonsan-gun of Joseon, is willing to behead his half-brother for losing a race — and that's just the start of his cruelty and insanity. Made worse because the series actually tones down the historical Yeonsan-gun's atrocities.
  • Stargate SG-1: "Lifeboat" has Daniel accidentally end up sharing his body with multiple consciousnesses from a crashed ship. One of them is their ruling Sovereign, who definitely comes across as one of these.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "The Mirror", as soon as he comes to power, Ramos Clemente proves himself to be extremely irrational, paranoid and blood-thirsty. He sees enemies all around him. As well as ordering mass executions, he becomes convinced that his lieutenants D'Alessandro, Garcia, Tabal, and Cristo are plotting against him due to having seemingly foreseen it in the mirror. Clemente throws D'Alessandro off the balcony of his mansion, has Garcia and Tabal executed as enemies of the state, and shoots Cristo as he believed that the wine that he offered him was poisoned. When he looks in the mirror and sees only his own reflection, Clemente shoots himself. His reign lasted for only a week.
  • Wiseguy's Mel Profitt is a billionaire Arms Dealer and drug smuggler who suffers from bipolar disorder and severe paranoia. He's given to sudden manias (in one episode, he forces the protagonist to join him for batting practice at 3 o'clock in the morning so he can rant about his plans to buy an MLB franchise) and weird obsessions (he believes that everyone from Virginia is either a CIA or FBI agent, and has had people killed on that basis in the past). In the end, he completely self-destructs when he convinces himself that a Caribbean strongman he's in business with has put a voodoo hex on him.
  • Wonder Woman (1975): Marion Mariposa from “Screaming Javelins” is wildly irrational, violently moody, very intolerant of being told anything he doesn't want to hear, and in control of a micronation, submarines, and his mercenaries. He infiltrates the US by sky diving, kidnaps Olympic athletes in an attempt to gain popularity for his own micronation, Mariposalia, and his Arch-Enemy is not Wonder Woman, but IADC agent Diana Prince


    Newspaper Comics 
  • Dilbert: Dogbert, who is usually The Barnum, gets like this whenever he gains any sort of personal power, making decisions purely For the Evulz. For example, his most lasting contribution from his several turns as CEO of Dilbert's company was hiring Catbert: Evil Director of Human Resources, who was retained simply because his Faux Affably Evil attitude toward employees amused Dogbert.
  • Guard Duck from Pearls Before Swine. During his brief reign as Mayor, he used the city's funds to get revenge on his "enemies list", built a giant statue of himself, and saw All the President's Men as an instruction book on how to run the city.

  • In The Hidden Almanac, a recurring character in the historical segments is the Librarian Prince, who infamously issued a series of decrees banning, on pain of death, such things as wearing the color orange, gathering in groups of two or more people, claiming that goats are real, or having any association with snow.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Vince McMahon has been portrayed as the ultimate Caligula in Professional Wrestling. Like the phrase "Don't Cross The Boss". If you do, you might be forced into a handicap match with the Wrestling Monster and or Power Stable of the week, have to join Vince McMahon's 'Kiss My Ass' club or simply be told that "You're fired!!!!"
  • Eric Bischoff was WCW's Caligula, was WWE's Caligula when McMahon chose to step out of the spotlight, and then TNA's Caligula during the Immortal angle.
  • Triple H during the McMahon-Helmsley era, later during the Evolution era, and yet again with The Authority.
  • Cross Vickie Guerrero and you can kiss both your dignity and your balls goodbye. —>Excuse me!!!
  • There is a new Caligula in town; his name is John Laurinaitis.note 
  • AJ Lee had been thoroughly driven out of her mind by Daniel Bryan, so Vince McMahon decided to give her a stint as Raw's general manager, likely because he thought it would be funny or something. But TV Tropes wants you to know it never called her crazy because it would rather not wrestle Kane. AJ might not belong here because, whatever else you could say about her — that she's rude, annoying, manipulative, and not mentally fit to run a hot dog stand — it's a stretch to call her "evil". She's still clearly the face in all her altercations with heel characters, if not with fellow face characters, and is more a Psychopathic Womanchild than anything else. Instead, the Caligula figure here is once again Vince McMahon, who willingly put this will-o'-the-wisp in charge just to boost Monday Night Raw ratings.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted: Anyone who gets a Terrestrial or Celestial Exaltation will behave this way due to the death-curse from the creator-gods they murdered, but the Solar Exalted take the proverbial cake.
  • Aboshan, Cephalid Emperor of Magic: The Gathering's Odyssey Cycle. Ruler of the ocean; paranoid lunatic.
    • Lord Konda, emperor of the greatest nation of Kamigawa. In his mad desire for immortality to rule his kingdom forever, he steals That Which Was Taken, which single-handedly begins the Kami War. The flavor texts of many cards paint a vivid picture of his descent into madness.
  • Paranoia is a Tabletop Game based solely on being controlled by a Caligula named "Friend Computer."
  • Ravenloft loves this trope. About half the domains are ruled by Caligulas (even if they're not the actual dark lord). Some examples include Othmar Bolshnik, who's on the brink of declaring himself king of a nation that withholds the title of "king" for their mythical religious ruler; Ivan Dilisnya, a paranoid opera fanatic who sends suspected enemies, actors who displease him, and anyone else he has a problem with to his Play Room; and Vlad Drakov, who seems to be the creators' attempt to put Vlad the Impaler, Ivan the Terrible, and Hitler in a blender and see what comes out.
  • The Sorcerer King Abalach-Re in Dark Sun is pretty obviously based on the actual Caligula.
  • Traveller: Emperor Cleon III, the last known descendant of the Third Imperium's founder, was known for resolving disagreements within his cabinet by shooting the most vocal ones. Within a year he was assassinated by the Imperial Moot, who then codified the "Right of Assassination" in law.
  • Vampire: The Requiem: in first edition, the Ventrue clan. While it's possible for other clans to go Caligula, 9 times out of 10 it's a Ventrue. This is because they not only have lordly instincts, but their clan weakness is a tendency to easily pick up Derangements if they fall down the Karma Meter. So if a Ventrue Prince has to make the hard choices, and is able to rationalize them away, the crazy's going to start to leak through sooner or later...
    • The Ventrue have dozens of bloodlines, all based on this concept. Just want to be crazy? Try the Malkovians. Creepy obsessive shut-ins? Malocusians. Sadistic gluttons? Macellarius. Ventrue supremacists with overhanging racist/nativist tendencies? Deucalion. Crazed worshipers of divine architecture? The Architects of the Monolith. In fact, in a possible creation myth explained in Mythologies, Caligula was, in fact, the first Gangrel. Julius Caesar was the first Ventrue. Bullshit, yes, but a very clever Lampshade Hanging about the Julii clan.
  • Warhammer 40,000
    • More than a few planetary lords probably fit into this category, but special mention must be made of High Lord Goge Vandire, who in the 36th millennium managed to take control of both the Imperium's Administratum and Ecclesiarchynote , beginning the Reign of Blood. Vandire was notoriously paranoid and ordered the deaths of millions and the destruction of entire worlds due to real or imagined plots against him. He eventually developed a phobia of light and took to wandering the darkened corridors of the Imperial Palace while muttering to himself, and was ultimately killed by his all-female cadre of bodyguards to end the devastating civil war. In the four thousand years since then, the Imperium has all but destroyed itself waging penitent crusades to atone.
    • The Daemon Prince Fulgrim went from being the most cultured Primarch to an unspeakably cruel and selfish tyrant. His excesses triggered a war with other Chaos Marines which shattered his legion into a few warbands.
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse has the Silver Fangs, the "ruling tribe" of werewolves. Their tribal weakness is a tendency towards mental illness, a trait that has been ascribed to everything from a punishment laid down by Luna to inbreeding with the royal houses of Europe.
    • Black Tooth, a Simba (werelion) king among the Bastet, was a brutal ruler who waged a genocidal campaign against the Ajaba (werehyenas).
  • BattleTech: At least one member of each of the Great Houses has played this role.
    • The most infamous of them all is Stefan Amaris of House Amaris, who instigated the Amaris Coup and brought an end to the Star League. Most members of the Houses are known for being paranoid, sadistic, and power-hungry, and Stefan is the universe's equivalent of Hitler. His entire House was executed for his treason.
    • Romano Liao was known for her bloody purges and assassinations out of spite. Which caused much resentment and plots to kill her from within the House, even her son Sun-Tzu had a plan in progress when she was killed by her sister Candace Allard-Liao in reprisal for the assassination of her husband.
    • Katherine Steiner-Davion more or less single-handedly caused the fall of the Federated Commonwealth a single generation after her parents' Altar Diplomacy had caused the Commonwealth to arise in the first place. She killed her mother to accomplish this, later had a princess of another neighbouring nation killed for the crime of falling in love with her brother, and would have killed all her siblings if she'd been able. A Mood-Swinger who could not stand not having everyone around her be Yes Men, she proved equal amounts vicious and insane. She eventually defected to the Clans, only to be assassinated by her own son when he realized how dangerous she was.
    • Brett Andrews of the Steel Vipers is an elected example. He was a good — if extremely brash and aggressive — saKhan to the Steel Vipers, but once elected ilKhan he revealed an agenda to institute a society-wide purge of 'taint' from Clan society so as to make them strong enough to face the Inner Sphere again. Long story short, by the time Brett Andrews was dead (beaten to death by one of his former allies in a Grand Council) half of Clan society had been burned to the ground and the other half had been thoroughly shell-shocked, Clan Steel Viper was exterminated and Andrews' name became equivalent to 'Satan' to the surviving clans.
  • Rocket Age has Grand Admiral of Jupiter Sebastian Alexander Leopold von Hapsburg I, the mouthpiece of the Europans. The Grand Admiral keeps a harem of kidnapped women of all races and species, indulges his every whim and constantly threatens Earth from Demarcation Point 1.
  • Legend of the Five Rings has Hantei XVI. To give you some idea of how bad he was: in Rokugan, it is considered the worst of all sins to turn your blade on those you serve, a crime that can only be washed away by seppuku, a crime that will stain your family's honor for generations to come. His entire personal guard joined together to murder him.

  • William Shakespeare:
    • In Macbeth, Malcolm describes himself as this to Macduff. Specifically, he claims that his appetites for wealth and women are insatiable, and he would dedicate all the blood and treasure of Scotland to satisfying his carnal, venal, and pointless urges. This is all a ruse; he is making these claims because he suspects Macduff is an agent of Macbeth, in which case Macduff would continue in his stated goal of bringing Malcolm back to Scotland to take the throne. As Macduff is a true loyal Scot, he is instead demoralized by Malcolm's revelations, at which point Malcolm reveals the truth and they form an alliance. Macbeth himself, on the other hand, plays this much more straight. Visions, paranoia, and murder are all par for the course for him.
    • Richard III. Starts out as a gleeful villain and ends completely insane.
  • The Kansas Collection: Oz's king Scarecrow wants to unite Oz, but he's considered an unsuitable king who's undergone Sanity Slippage. In his paranoia, he even tried to keep Dorothy in Oz by locking her in a tower. The plot revolves around a resistance against Scarecrow.

    Video Games 
  • Vath from AdventureQuest Worlds. He enslaved the dwarves, making them work without food, water, or even weapons. He's a lousy dictator, believing that their weakness and hunger was fine with him and not even caring if they starve to death as long as they forge enough Chaos Gemeralds for him to use to hatch the Rock Roc.
    Vath: Dwarves are a hearty breed. That is why I allowed them to live as my slaves. If a few die then we are just pruning the weak branches from the strong tree.
  • In the first Assassins Creed, Majd Addin is the Token Evil Teammate of the Templars, since while the rest are Well Intentioned Extremists, the better world they are striving for means nothing to him, only the rush of power and the kill. Probably best described by himself when confronted about his misdeeds:
    "I killed them because I could. Because it was fun! Do you know what it feels like to determine another man's fate? And did you see the way the people cheered? The way they feared me? I was like a god!"
  • Bendy and the Ink Machine: Joey Drew's insistence on using the Ink Machine does nothing but cause trouble for his employees, and they only stay with them because he writes their checks. It's also hinted that he isn't really using the Ink Machine for animation, but for some kind of rituals and human experimentation.
  • The cast of BloodStorm is nearly completely composed of megalomaniacs, all of them fighting to become the High Emperor and thus be true Caligulas. Take your pick: the pyromaniac warlord, the ice-blooded king with a superiority complex, a Hive Mind that tortures people for fun, an Amazon hoping to eliminate the entire male gender, the radioactive mutant that intrudes on the contest, the vengeance-obsessed cyborg smuggler, or the spoiled princess/assassin. The only good character enters the contest to get everyone to stop listening to the paranoid nuts and actually start fixing the planet.
  • Fittingly given its name, Caligula focuses on various characters and the concept of the "Caligula Effect", a term that can be used to describe when one has a higher desire for something they’re not allowed to have. For example, wanting to see something more because they’re not allowed to watch, wanting to do something more because they’re not allowed to do it.
  • In Clive Barker's Jericho (by Clive Barker), the hedonistic Governor Cassus Vicus was banished to the very edges of the Roman Empire by Caligula himself.
  • For examples where the game allows you to be The Caligula, see Cruel Player-Character God.
  • Darksiders II has Argul the Deposed King, the previous ruler of the Realm of the Dead who was considered a beast too mad to be on the throne that his own lieutenant, the Lord of Bones, led a coup to dethrone him. Apparently, he suffered bouts of insanity about coming darkness and that the Horsemen would come to destroy him. Despite his relative importance to the backstory, he is a minor boss that Death fights as part of an optional quest.
  • King Leoric of Khanduras from the Diablo series was once a just and noble king but was driven mad by Diablo's attempt to take him over. When his Evil Chancellor, Archbishop Lazarus, kidnapped his youngest son Albrecht to be made a vessel for Diablo, Leoric lost it completely and fell into this trope's territory, having many people tortured and executed, up to and including his own queen, out of paranoia, an event that would come to be known in Tristram as "the Darkening." Leoric was slain by the captain of his army, Lachdanan, who could no longer bear to see his people suffer under his liege's madness. Unfortunately for Lachdanan, his knights, and Tristram, the story did not end there.
  • King K. Rool from Donkey Kong Country. It got so bad that apparently his minions deposed him and replaced him with a robot in Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! Then you find out later that he was controlling the robot anyway...
  • In Dragon Age: Origins:
    • It's mentioned that the Grey Wardens were originally exiled from Ferelden after a failed coup lead by Warden-Commander Sophia Dryden against King Arland when the other nobles begged her to depose him for being completely out of his mind. Avernus mentions having attended a feast where Arland nonchalantly presented the Teyrn of Highever's head on a platter, as a warning to the other rebellious nobles.
    • During the Arl of Redcliffe questline, Connor Guerrin has shades of this, due to being under the influence of a Desire Demon.
    • Vaughn Kendalls from the City Elf origin. A brutish, unrepentant rapist and murder who's allowed to get away with terrorising the Elves in Denerim due to being the son of the local Arl. That is, until the City Elf finally has enough.
  • Dwarf Fortress: dwarf nobles have a tendency to sentence dwarves to "hammerings" (usually fatal, but not always) when their mandates are not met.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • An example from the series' backstory is Reman Cyrodiil, founder of the Second Tamriellic Empire. Coronated as a child, history records Reman as a scary, at times psychotic, and violently decadent ruler. How decadent? He made Sanguine, Daedric Prince of Debauchery and Hedonism, so uncomfortable that he left Reman. However, unlike many examples of the trope, Reman was also an incredibly skilled and successful leader. Starting as something of a Child Prodigy, Reman first reunited the two halves of Cyrodiil (Colovia and Nibenay), and then the other kingdoms of Men (High Rock and Skyrim). Later, he successfully defeated the Akaviri invaders and absorbed the survivors into his fledgling proto-empire, where they would serve him as a foreign Praetorian Guard. Though Imperial dogma typically leaves out or whitewashes his negative traits, he is (justifiably) remembered as one of the greatest rulers in Cyrodiilic history.
    • Another backstory example is Emperor Pelagius the Mad. Born Thoriz Pelagius Septim, he briefly ruled the Third Tamriellic Empire from 3E 145 to 3E 153. Infamous for his eccentricities, he certainly lived up to his nickname. He suffered from extreme weight and mood fluctuations, and tried to hang himself at the end of a royal ball. He insisted on his palace always being kept clean and (perhaps apocryphally) was said to defecate on the floors to keep his servants busy. He would only communicate with the Argonian ambassador in grunts and squeaks, believing it to be the Argonian language. He'd frequently strip naked in public and, toward the end of his life, would attack and bite visitors. After his madness became too publicly apparent, he was declared unfit to rule and his wife by arranged marriage, the Dunmeri former Duchess of Vvardenfell, Katariah, took over as Empress Regent, as the only non-human to rule the Third Empire (the plan when the marriage was arranged was for Katariah to act as a stable, competent power behind the throne to keep things running, but after Pelagius inherited the throne his madness soon grew out of control). Pelagius was institutionalized and died only a few years later, but his legacy as the Mad Emperor lives on.
    • This also applies to Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness. Though not nearly as dangerous or unpredictable as other Caligulas, Sheogorath does have his eccentricities, and being a god, his rare bouts of violence are all the more dangerous. As a sampling of his actions throughout the series, he has thrown a rogue moon at a city, caused burning dogs fall from the sky, gone on a rant about cheese while briefing his champion on a mission, has had people killed for growing facial hair, and has had mortals killed/maimed/psychologically tortured to win bets against the other Daedric Princes. Oblivion's Shivering Isles expansion heavily features Sheogorath, with it taking place in his eponymous Daedric realm. He acts as the expansion's Big Good, while still alternating randomly between being happy and violently threatening.
    • Yet another example from the backstory is Potema, the Wolf Queen of Solitude. Starting off as a God Save Us from the Queen! Manipulative Bastard, she pole-vaults into this trope and combines it with Sorcerous Overlord, raising an army of undead monsters and turning her kingdom into The Necrocracy before she's stopped.
      I am the Queen of Solitude, daughter of the Emperor! Summon the daedra! I'll trade the soul of every last subject of mine for a little comfort!
  • Count Waltz from Forte of Eternal Sonata is a power-hungry maniac who kills his own citizens by having them drink mineral power to gain magic powers and turn them into soldiers. His ambition is to conquer neighboring country Baroque and eventually gain limitless power.
    With enough power, I can make, not only Forte and Baroque but the whole world bow down before me. Only then will I feel truly alive.
  • Pagan Min of Far Cry 4 is a former Triad drug lord who took over the kingdom of Kyrat and declared himself ruler of it, and it rapidly becomes clear that he is not a good ruler. Among his many atrocities and war crimes, he arbitrarily declared candles illegal and their use punishable by death, kidnapped a celebrity chef and then executed the poor guy after Ajay bails on their dinner at the beginning of the game (apparently thinking the Crab Rangoons not being up to par was the reason he ran off, rather than, you know, Pagan kidnapping him as soon as he entered the country and shooting up his bus), and even once you learn that he got far worse after the murder of his daughter Lakshmana, he himself admits that was just an excuse to keep doing what he wanted.
    Pagan: Yes, yes, I murdered countless innocents. Yes, I outlawed religion. Yes, I changed the currency so that everyone’s savings were meaningless and yes, I may have gone through a period of bathing in yak’s blood and slamming rails of coke. But I’m reformed now! Look at me! Getting this country back on its feet again. Top shape, Ajay. (sound of Pagan snorting a line of coke) Top shape.
  • Final Fantasy VI: Kefka! He was already stark raving nuts when he was serving as the Emperor's Dragon. But when he got hold of the power of the gods and bumped off the Emperor, he got even worse.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has this be the backstory for Ala Mhigo's last ruler before the Garlean occupation, Mad King Theodoric. He was chronically paranoid and had family and servants killed or mutated into monsters with little provocation. He also had the Fist of Rhalgr, an order of monks loyal to the king, ordered eliminated by forming the Corpse Brigade.
  • The Fire Emblem games contain a number of them, usually as antagonists.
    • King Zephiel in The Binding Blade is pretty far off the handle. After all, the most seriously disturbing facial expression in Blazing Sword is Zephiel's mad gaze at the end of the epilogue... and this is a game whose Big Bad has a Mad Eye with a nasty scar over it. Yeah, he's seriously whacked... and the saddest thing is that he wasn't always like that.
      • Unlike many Caligulas, however, Zephiel is ruthlessly competent. It's just a shame that his goal is the subjugation of humanity by dragons.
    • Mad King Ashnard, The Social Darwinist villain of Path of Radiance. In order to be crowned king, he orchestrated a plague that wiped out a large amount of his country's population to get rid of the many nobles who were ahead of him in the line of succession. His most notable depravity was attempting to start a worldwide conflict and release a dark god on the world just because he felt like it. After touching an amulet that was established to drive most humans into a mindless killing rage, his personality remained unchanged, the implication being that he couldn't possibly become any worse than he already was. Interestingly enough, he wasn't considered to be a bad ruler by the common people of Daein, largely due to his policy of awarding high-level positions to anyone of sufficient skill.
    • Deconstructed massively by Fire Emblem Awakening's King Gangrel, since his tyrannical and cruel actions (including his Sadistic Choice on Chrom, which will lead Emmeryn to go the Heroic Suicide way in front of the Ylissean and Plegian armies) cause his soldiers to defect en masse, and by the time he's fought he is pretty much on his own. And later, after he's recruited through Spot-Pass, we learn what made Grangrel such an ass, as well as how deeply he regrets it.
    • Garon of Fire Emblem Fates wasn't always like this, but is said to have Stopped Caring after he saw his numerous wives squabble over the succession to the throne and murder each other and his children. After that, he began executing people on the spot for no apparent reason (even in front of his youngest daughter) kidnapped The Avatar, Kamui/Corrin, as a young child and raised them in near isolation, then when they grew up sent them on multiple suicide missions and tried to get one of his sons (and the Avatar's adopted sibling) to kill them. The plot of the game is based on his desire to invade the peaceful kingdom of Hoshido and kill their queen due to the troubles in his own country. It's eventually revealed that the Garon seen during the game is actually his reanimated corpse being controlled by Anankos, and the real guy was nothing like this.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses features two deconstructions of this trope, both of which can vary depending on the story route taken, don't start off as such, and experience Sanity Slippage as a result of specific story events combined with past traumas.
      • Prince Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd is a rare example of a protagonist Caligula in the making. For most of the Academy phase, Dimitri starts off with personality traits similar to classic Fire Emblem lords like Marth, being a compassionate young man with an aversion to violence that wants to reform Fodlan through acceptance. However, he is also the Sole Survivor of a royal massacre that included his father and stepmother, which was later followed up by a genocide against the people of Duscur as a scapegoat. As a result, Dimitri suffers from Survivor Guilt and frequently has hallucinations of the Tragedy's victims demanding the heads of those truly responsible, and has episodes of sadism when confronting those he believes were involved. When he learns that his stepsister Edelgard is the Flame Emperor (whom he erroneously thinks was involved in the Tragedy of Duscur), he completely snaps and becomes obsessed with taking her head. Five years later on most story routes and after living in isolation as a fugitive, he's still violently unhinged and murdering Imperial soldiers left and right, with people comparing him to a beast. What little resistance against the Adrestian Empire there is in the Kingdom tries to rally behind Dimitri, but he neglects morale among his own troops and the people suffering in the Kingdom in favor of appeasing the dead, even making death threats towards those questioning his goals. On Azure Moon (his own story route), his allies are questioning if he's mentally competent enough to be leading the fight against the Empire, let alone be the next king of Faerghus, and only follow him because they're fighting for the Kingdom or have mutual enmity towards the Empire. Dimitri only steers away from this dark path and goes on to become The Good King when he realizes that he's only perpetuating an endless cycle of revenge, and only after one of his closest allies dies from a revenge-driven assassination attempt meant for him. On Verdant Wind and Silver Snow, however, Byleth and Rodrigue aren't around to reign in his worst impulses, which eventually get him and his followers ingloriously Killed Offscreen.
      • On Crimson Flower, Dimitri doesn't go through Sanity Slippage despite being an antagonist to the route's protagonist, Edelgard, thanks to the fact that he wasn't spending five years in isolation, but still seeking revenge. However, Archbishop Rhea goes through it instead after Byleth — whom she had been treating as a vessel for her mother, Sothis — chooses Edelgard over her, perceiving it as a betrayal, and declares them both heretics against the Church of Seiros. While the Church isn't an official nation in Fodlan, it still has its own army and a lot of political influence throughout Fodlan's culture, and is a recognized authority in Faerghus. As the story progresses, former Church clergy and even her closest advisor Seteth become increasingly worried about her declining sanity and her obsession with reuniting with her mother, to the point that Seteth and his daughter Flayn flee from Fodlan if they are spared in battle. After Dimitri is killed on the Tailtean Plains and the Empire makes their advance on the Kingdom capital of Fhirdiad, she becomes the Kingdom's regent and leads its remaining soldiers. Shortly after taking command, Rhea orders the capital to be set aflame in an unhinged attempt to take out all of her enemies (who actually offered for her to surrender) despite the Kingdom's loyalty to the Church since its founding, and during the final battle, rants about how untrustworthy humans are. However, Verdant Wind reveals that her mother and siblings were massacred by Nemesis and the Ten Elites, and their remains were used to create the Crest Stones and Heroes' Relics. The attack on the Holy Tomb was seen as a mass grave defilement against her family, and Byleth (who was chosen to not only be a vessel for Sothis but also bear her respective Crest Stone and Hero's Relic) joining with Edelgard was pouring salt on the wound.
  • King Oswald Thorn of Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 is more commonly known as "Mad King Thorn". As the second-born, he was not expected to inherit but did so anyway by murdering first his brother and then his father. Drought and high taxes left the people impoverished and on the verge of starvation while Thorn hosted sumptuous feasts for his courtiers. He fed people to animals for his own amusement, chopped off both hands of anyone suspected of theft, executed anyone who spoke against him, and on at least one occasion had an entire village's population skinned alive. Of his eight wives, he killed at least four personally. Thorn's reign came to an abrupt end when an enraged mob stormed the castle and murdered him. After being very "creative" with his body, it was dismembered and sealed in several boxes which were hidden through Kryta for fear he might one day return.
    • Even Oswald was fed up with his son, Bloody Prince Edrick. While Oswald did everything For the Lulz, Edrick killed for the thrill of murder and lacked the sense of humor which made the Mad King popular as a spirit. Their relationship was tense and only made worse by Edrick's tendencies to commit pointless atrocities at the worst times. Edrick eventually tried to overthrow his father by slaughtering an entire village and laying the blame on Oswald, hoping to rally the peasants to his cause. Oswald found out and had his son sealed in a sarcophagus with the intention of releasing him once he'd learned his lesson, only for the mob riled up by Edrick to storm the castle. Oswald left Edrick sealed away and had all references to his name erased from the library as a final insult.
  • Halo's Covenant Prophets tend to fall in this category, especially the main trio in the original trilogy. The Hierarchs, in particular, know the whole Covenant thing is a load of crap. They just want to genocide humans because the humans are inheritors of the Forerunners, and proof that the Forerunners were physical beings and thus proof that their religion is all lies. Truth really stands out, as by the end he's clearly a complete psychopath. The canon scientific name for the Prophet species is Latin for "Worms of Treachery." Also, what the main three Prophets are Prophets ''of'':
    • The Prophet of Truth is a blackmailer. He blackmailed the other two into taking power alongside him and blackmailed his way into power in the first place. He's also a Consummate Liar and a total psychopath. He's more than competent at politics, as he makes a few pretty bad calls military wise which, as Rtas' Vadum points out; completely screws over the fleet's opportunity to thwart the Chief's assassination of Regret because he always disliked Regret and uses the assassination to gain more power.
    • The Prophet of Regret is hot-headed, stubborn, and impetuous; the only thing he ever regrets is being blackmailed by the Prophet of Truth.
    • The Prophet of Mercy is a merciless fanatic who himself ends up being shown no mercy by Truth.
  • The player of Hamurabi can be compared to Caligula if he starves enough of his citizens.
  • In the backstory to the Homeworld series of RTS games, the Taiidani Empire fell under the control of a particularly... 'unstable' ruler, who then proceeded to compound the problem by massacring all his rivals and decreeing that all future Emperors would be clones of him. The insane policies 'he' carries out during the course of the game lead to the empire being overthrown after the insanely efficient Hiigaran fleet kills 'him'.
  • The Emperor of Chimer in A House of Many Doors is a textbook paranoid-schizophrenic, constantly executing subjects and changing his mind. In a House filled with Crapsack Worlds, Chimer's citizenry stand out as being significantly worse off than their neighbors, with highlights such as the Mycena Free State (which exports a drug manufactured from mycena brain stems) and the circus city of Harlequin. Even Chimer's questline rewards are a Luck-Based Mission, as the Emperor will reward or punish you on a dice roll independent of your choices and results.
  • Zant from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess plays this trope to a T. After forcing Midna into exile, he proclaimed himself the new ruler of the Twili, only to be soundly rejected by them. Being the power-hungry man that he is, he didn't take it well and turned to Ganondorf in order to enslave his own people against their will.
  • Mega Man Zero: The first game's Big Bad who made a recurrence in Zero 3, Copy-X, was intended to be a hero for Neo Arcadia in place of X and is esteemed as such by the humans for making Neo Arcadia a paradise, who believe that he is the original X. It's a shame that in order to do that, he decided the easiest thing to do was to genocide reploids on even the flimsiest excuses for being Mavericks in order to conserve energy and resources. Also, in the same series, we have Dr. Weil in Zero 3 and 4, known in history for starting the Elf War, which resulted in the annihilation of a large percentage of humans and reploids and the creation of the Crapsack World the series takes place in, and he's incredibly insane. This resulted in him being sentenced to exile in the wastelands he created in an undying mechanical body. Once he succeeded the Neo Arcadia throne after sabotaging Copy X Mk. II and blaming it on Zero, he started to oppress both Reploids and humans because he believed they deserved to be punished for banishing him out into the world he created. It got so bad that in Zero 4, some human refugees (who were brave enough) fled from Neo Arcadia to get away from him, and Weil retaliated by attempting to destroy Area Zero, — the only other habitable place left on Earth — forcing all humans to live under his oppression. Even his Dragon, Craft, realized how insane he was that he fired Ragnarok on Neo Arcadia in a (failed) attempt to kill Weil.
  • Minecraft: Story Mode: Aiden wants to be this in Episode 5, by hurling spawn eggs everywhere and ordering people around. Jesse puts a rather prompt end to this charade.
  • Mogeko Castle has Moge-ko, a deranged sadistic hedonistic narcissistic cannibalistic rapist as a tyrant who rules over the fourth floor of the Mogeko Castle, who leaves the floors resident Mogeko's as broken shells simply by being on the same floor as her. Anyone, human or Mogeko, who Moge-ko gets her hands on is utterly screwed, as being killed quickly is the best fate they can receive.
  • Mortal Kombat's Shao Kahn. He cares about nothing but holding absolute power, driven by an ambition based solely on ego and a lust for conquest and power. He even promoted infighting and competition amongst his minions in a "divide and rule" policy to the point where the Centaur and Shokan races went to war with one another to curry his favor (and thus gain more power), and as long as he holds absolute power he doesn't really care about laws beyond "what Shao Kahn feels like" and how his people live their day to day lives, though it tends to be pretty miserable, desperate and violent thanks to how sadistic and brutish he is. Come Mortal Kombat 11 and it's shown that pretty much everyone in Outworld is sick of him, and he ultimately meets his fate in battle against Kitana, who herself has a long-standing grudge on him. Come Mortal Kombat X he is replaced by Mileena Khanum, who claims she's Shao Kahn's heir after his death. This is dubious as she's a clone of his adopted daughter, and it gets worse from there. She continues Shao Kahn's militarization, came this close to having half the Outworld characters executed, and refused to ally with Earthrealm when Netherrealm (which is literally Hell) started making moves against both. She was eventually deposed by Kotal Kahn, and while Kotal has problems his main focus is rebuilding Outworld after years of Shao and Mileena's neglect.
  • Porky Minch from Mother 3. He passes himself off as a great hero, despite corrupting the once vibrant world into an industrial wasteland and using anything and anyone he can get his hands on as his personal playthings. In the end, he reveals his plans to awaken the Dark Dragon and destroy what is left of civilization, all for a quick laugh.
  • The New Order: Last Days of Europe: Plenty of lunatics with a country at their command are around, what with this being such a Crapsack World. Himmler tends to stand out as one, though it's somewhat eclipsed by the sheer, unrelenting evil of the man to act on the ideas he has.
    • Among all the possible rulers, Sergey Taboritsky has everyone beat out in terms of pure madness, with what looks like crippling schizophrenia and general psychosis. He's plenty cruel, but he's also convinced the ideal model of Tsardom is something resembling Himmler's own "The nazis are too liberal for me" Burgundian System. Oh, and he thinks Alexei Romanov is the true Tsar and just in hiding for well over fifty years instead of getting shot dead as a child, and he's just paving the way for his glorious return. And if he reunifies Russia, it gets worse as the strain of having to deny reality's increasing pressure on his government drives him to greater, hallucinating depths of craziness, all represented by a ticking clock. And when the clock strikes twelve, he finds himself scribbling pure gibberish, shivering in the corner of his room, only to be struck dead by a vision of his Tsar returning, only to turn into a pile of bloodied bones that he just cannot deny; his Tsar is dead, and in being forced to realize it, he outright drops dead. His empire of nightmares follows him down to hell not long after, as the sheer insanity he imposed upon the nation has seemingly driven most of Russia's remnants either mad with despair, or just mad in general.
    • If the Aryan Brotherhood are the ones to unify Russia, it can result in a coup where Shultz kills Vagner and assumes control. At first seeming like A Lighter Shade of Black compared to his predecessor, his true insanity is revealed when he takes up the name Velimir and transforms Russia into Hyperborea — a brutal, neopagan, Slav-supremacist warrior state. While Vagner merely wanted to rule Russia and ally with the Nazis (a goal that of course would never ever happen), Velimir's goal is to conquer the false German-Aryans to the west, take back the Slavo-Aryan ancestral home of Palestine, crush the weak races of Asia and the "Jewish citadel" of America, and assert the Slavo-Aryans as the masters of the world even if means launching a nuclear holocaust.
  • Wheatley from Portal 2 becomes Drunk with Power after taking over GLaDOS's body. He stuffs GLaDOS's consciousness in a potato and punches both her and Chell down an elevator shaft, into Old Aperture. When they return to the top layer of the facility, Wheatley explains that he has to perform tests, as when he does, he gets a feeling of extreme euphoria, and if he doesn't, he gets an "itch" that slowly becomes unbearable. As a result of this itch, he gains a Hair-Trigger Temper and a complete disregard for Chell's wellbeing. Combine that with his complete disregard for the nuclear core which will melt down if it doesn't get vented properly, and he's probably the most dangerous villain of both games.
    Wheatley: So you're gonna test. And I'm gonna watch. And everything is gonna be just... fi-
    Announcer: Warning. Core overheating. Nuclear meltdown imminent.
    Wheatley: SHUT UP!!
    GLaDOS: I think we're in trouble....
  • Radiant Historia's King Victor was by all accounts pretty bad, to the point that his son and his brother actively rebelled against him, but he has nothing on the stuff his second wife pulled once she gained the throne. Queen Protea managed in only a few years to turn the country into a police state where dead bodies littering the alleys are a common sight and half the population is starving to death, while she spends her time lounging around the palace and ogling choir boys. Then, when La Résistance gets uppity, she has the entire city lit on fire.
  • Nero himself in Ryse: Son of Rome is a fat, corrupt tyrant willing to hire a bunch of barbarians to kill Marius' family out of pure jealousy of his father, and his sons Commodus and Basileus aren't much better. Commodus is a Miles Gloriosus who thinks "A God Am I" and starts a war with the Britons out of pure sadism, while Basileus is a hedonist who Would Hit a Girl.
  • Salt and Sanctuary:
    • Lenaia, the Queen of Smiles. Following the death of her husband, the gregarious king Adnan, she began to spiral into violent madness as she fell under the influence of the Black Widow. Her epithet as Queen of Smiles was earned by her habit of cutting a Glasgow Grin into the faces of the many, many people she had executed for increasingly frivolous and nonsensical reasons before hanging the corpses up as decoration. She also had a variety of bizarre phobias including cats, twins, gourds, sea foam green, and the number 14. Her list of phobias was ever-lengthening, and each new fear was accompanied by a massive escalation of tantrums, jailings, banishments, and executions.
    • Quan In, Sun King of Kulka'as is a downplayed example. He was a great and proud ruler for much of his life, but his twilight years were spent in paranoid madness, hiding in the Ziggurat of Dust and violently lashing out against imagined demons.
  • General Mikiel of both the 1989 and 2014 Strider, the leader of the still-Communist Kazakh Federation, though only a Puppet King to his lord, Grandmaster Meio.
    • In the classic game, he's such an oppressive and corrupt dictator that his reckless government has not only left the country in economic ruin but pushed the populace to rise against him in the form of a resistance army that plunged Eurasia into civil war. In fact, all this mismanagement is what made the Striders give Hiryu the mission to eliminate Grandmaster Meio in the first place.
    • In the 2014 retelling he's even worse: now he's constantly speaking over the city's speakers to remind citizens of the punishment for crimes such as rebelling against Meio, fiddling with technology, breaking curfew, even disembarking slowly from the subway. Most notably, he spent a huge sum of money and resources in building a giant Cool Tank that's Awesome, but Impractical, since no one except himself can actually drive it. And why he build it? Because he wanted one for his collection of weaponry.
  • Anybody who has ever played Suikoden II for more than five minutes knows that Prince Luca Blight may even dwarf Caligula himself in the Ax-Crazy psycho department. This is a man who had his country's equivalent of the Boy Scouts murdered to restart a pointless war, and when burning entire towns to the ground for the hell of it, would round up, torture, and slaughter every single villager one by one personally while laughing merrily with a sadistic smile on his face. Deconstructed when shortly after he becomes the king, his own subordinates help the heroes ambush him as they know that he is too insane to be trusted with so much power.
    Luca: Do you want to live so badly!?!?!?
    Villager: Y-yes! I'll do anything!
    Luca: In that case, act like a pig.
    Villager: Huh?
    Luca: I said ACT LIKE A PIG!!!
    Villager: Y-yes! All right! *on four, making pig noises*
    Luca: Hoo hoo hoo ha ha ha!! This is so fun...
    Villager: So does that mean...''
    Luca: DIE, PIG!!!!!!! *slashes villager to death*
  • King Bowser from Super Mario Bros. comes off this way in the RPGs. But he's not this way in other games. King Croacus in Super Paper Mario. Justified as he was driven insane by poisoning.
  • Yggdrasil in Tales of Symphonia: Because his sister was killed, he's striving for an age of lifeless beings, thus misinterpreting his sister's wish of a world freed of discrimination and tyrannizing the world. Even when his own sister — temporarily resurrected — tells him how wrong his plans are, he refuses to listen, thinking she's rejecting him, and simply goes crazy.
  • Undertale: In the Neutral Route where Toriel and Undyne are killed, Mettaton becomes ruler of the Underground, turning it into a Cult of Personality. Anyone who does not worship him "goes missing".
  • Viva Caligula from the Adult Swim website is built around being a crazy tyrant and killing everyone you meet in creatively horrible ways.
  • Emperor Vorios the False, AKA the Mad Emperor from WildStar. Managed to drive this universe's version of Rome into the toilet—and the Dominion was complete with unstoppable military force, wide-reaching territory, and almost infinite resources!
  • By the events of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, King Radovid, the ruler of Redania, one of the last surviving kings of the Northern Realms since Letho's regicides, and one of the game's main antagonists, has fallen into something of a rut. He often gibbers unintelligible nonsense about chess, war, and murder to himself, and he orders the local Corrupt Church to engage in tortures, pogroms, and executions of mages within his kingdom. At the start of his reign, Novigrad was a prosperous city with 200 known magic users residing inside its walls, but this number gets reduced to only about 30 survivors who manage to hide in Triss' Underground Railroad and eventually flee on a boat to Kovir with the help of Geralt. Played With in that outside his murderous psychosis, he's quite a skilled strategist and politician, able to unite the North under him and beat the Nilfgaardian empire to a standstill and eventually win the war if he isn't assassinated — this is Truth in Television as many insane individuals have occasional periods of mental stability among outbreaks of irrationality.
  • Lord Dimwit Flathead, the most well-known (and infamous) ruler of the Great Underground Empire in the Zork series, was particularly known for his excess — a coronation ceremony that took thirteen years to organize and carry out, the 3000-gated Flood Control Dam #3 (which served absolutely no purpose whatsoever), the creation of a subterranean desert mountain in a cave below his castle, and a 98% tax rate (and on the day of his death he proposed to adopt all his subjects and cut off their allowance to raise taxes to 100%) instituted to pay for such grand civic works. His last work was to be the creation of a new continent shaped in his likeness. Fortunately for mapmakers, he died before the project could be started. With the possible exception of Wurb, the last Flathead king, Dimwit's successors were arguably worse. They kept the 98% tax rate, but rather than spending it on massive construction projects, they spent it on extravagant parties and long vacations for the royal family.

    Visual Novels 
  • Gilgamesh in Fate/stay night. So freaking bad. The prequel reveals that he's so batshit crazy irresponsible that he might as well be a Starfish Alien as far as Saber is concerned. And as in the original epic also royally pissed off his own people when he invoked Droit du Seigneur on the women of his kingdom, to the point that the Gods answered their prayers in the form of Enkidu, who beat the snot out of him before they eventually became friends. Subverted with the Caster variant in Fate/Grand Order, which is an Older and Wiser (though no less arrogant) version of him that is a very capable king to his people.
    • Saber's kingdom collapsed because of this popular perception of her. Saber tried to become the perfect king, ruling fairly and without hesitation while mercilessly crushing any enemy, even if it required the sacrifice of some villages. While her most trusted knights believed she was a good king, her apparent lack of emotion and compassion alienated most of her subjects and resulted in multiple civil wars.
    • The spinoff games, Fate/EXTRA and Fate/Grand Order feature two others from history, Nero in the former and Caligula himself in the latter. The former is obsessed with being loved by her (yes, her) subjects, and while an Attention Whore and very arrogant, she apparently intended well and was very popular with the common people but not the nobles. Her uncle Caligula, on the other hand, is stated to have been driven mad by the affections of the Moon in this universe and is implied to be a Reluctant Monster who wants the Grail to cure his insanity.
    • Light Novel spinoff Fate/strange fake adds Richard the Lionheart to the list. Far more interested in playing the hero of a Chivalric Romance than actually being a good king, Richard wound up dragging his kingdom into expensive, bloody, and ultimately pointless wars as a misguided attempt to chase the legend of his idol, King Arthur. Richard himself seems quite aware of this, even admitting that Prince John was entirely justified in his attempted coup against him.
  • Makihisa Tohno of Tsukihime was the head of a major business but also deeply troubled due to his demonic blood causing bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Every girl in his manor has deep psychological scars from differing forms of abuse while Shiki is the last survivor of the Nanaya clan, kidnapped and mind-wiped into being a member of the Tohno after Makihisa killed the rest of them and only spared the boy out on a whim because of amusement that he shared a name with his son.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice: The Big Bad is one, as Queen Ga'ran turned the Kingdom of Khura'in into what in essence is a Police State, where Kangaroo Courts are used to imprison and execute defendants and their attorneys, thanks to the Defense Culpability Act. Even Phoenix and Apollo are appalled at the kingdom's downright corrupt and toxic legal system, as there were countless false convictions in Khura'in due to the genocide of defense attorneys. In short, many of the attorneys who previously practiced in Khura'in were arrested and executed for aiding their clients, with those still remaining forming an organized rebellion against the Big Bad. Ga'ran even rewrites Khura'inese law a few times at her whim during the final trial to put the defense at a disadvantage, all so that they'll be executed on the spot for defying her authority. Of course, the Defense Culpability Act is what's keeping Ga'ran in power, and she's the reason why lawyers are seen as trash in that country; the law basically gave her a blank check to pervert the legal system at her whims, including but not limited to silencing any potential dissenters or political enemies. All because she staged an assassination attempt on the previous queen to frame a renowned lawyer and elevate herself as the new queen after illegally overthrowing her sister. Because she was the de facto queen of Khura'in, she was also the de facto head of the religion of Khura'inism and perverted it into a Corrupt Church. She actually isn't fit to rule the kingdom, as she can't channel spirits unlike her sister. Even her Praetorian Guard turns on her once she's revealed to be a Phony Psychic. In a nutshell, Ga'ran is nothing but a completely insane and paranoid loon who slowly deluded herself that she was the Holy Mother whom she tried to channel.

  • King Steve from 8-Bit Theater is a Black Comedy Cloud Cuckoo Lander. One of the least dangerous things he has done was betting the office of King in a poker game. He lost the game to a piece of string..."whom" he then assassinated by cutting it in two with scissors when no one else was near.
    • Babies are what his shoes are made of. They tend to rot, however, so he has to get new ones "Fresh daily."
    • One of his frequent "elections" simply gave the population the choice of either King Steve as supreme ruler, or to get a sword in the head. 52% of the survey population died.
    • Another time, he set up a snow cone stand. This might sound mundane at first, but the Light Warriors noticed something strange about the aforementioned snow-cones, leading to this exchange:
    Black Mage: What is this?
    King Steve: It's no cone!
    Thief: It's a cube.
    King Steve: Oh, no. That's a common misconception. It's a stube.
    Thief: A what?
    King Steve: The seven-sided cube. I invented it.
    Black Mage: There are only six sides.
    • He also thinks that he invented inventing, started a war to force pacifism on the elves, and was once told he had news and enthusiastically asked "does it involve cupcakes?" and decided he didn't care when the answer was no, thinks he designed his castle to be four hundred years old, and apparently knew what a robot version of himself was saying even after the robot exploded. If he isn't a ditz then nobody is. Did we mention that he is unable to tell the difference between his daughter and his Beleaguered Assistant Left-Hand-Man Gary? (In case you were wondering, his right-hand man is a coffee stain called Rodney.)
  • Chancellor Valorum in Darths & Droids. The annotation explains that they wanted to make him more interesting than in the movie version, who was bland and boring. Consequently, he becomes a maniac who praises the droid army for overthrowing their human oppressors, urges people to replace their bodies with cyborgs, and demands that all shall "Kneel Before Valorum!" His getting voted out of office makes a lot more sense now.
    • And he turned out to be General Grievous. It makes so much sense.
  • Common among the clan leaders in Drowtales, doubling as Royally Screwed Up in a lot of cases.
    • Kharla'ggen Vel'Vlozress is monstrously powerful and extremely insane, and has a hobby of turning living people into living dolls and altogether has the mental capacity of a young child and no real sense of morality. Despite this, she does get a few Pet the Dog moments with her adopted sister, Kiel'ndia (who, despite Kharla being the one who turned her mother into a puppet, seems to get that Kharla doesn't really understand and thus doesn't blame her) and it's suggested that if left alone she wouldn't be so bad. It also says something that Kiel flat out panics when she realizes that Kharla has been introduced to sex via Khaless, meaning that dolls and toys likely won't be able to satisfy her any longer and so to quote Kiel "We're all fucked. Literally."
    • Among the Sharen clan, all of whom could qualify at some level, Sarv'swati Vel'Sharen develops into this over the course of the story. It's not so much that she's crazy like Kharla so much as extremely brutal, exerting what her own sisters call "maniacal" control over her family to the point that after her sister Sil'lice was exiled she executed members of her own family for sympathizing with her, and brutally executes one of her own relatives after fails her for the last time, and he knew what was going to happen. She also was part of a plot to kill her own mother, and was the one who sealed the deal by sealing her in her throne room to die, and covered it up by using a Body Double for public function and masterminds the idea of Dari'yako, a Penal Colony where commoners are sent, and her use of a slave army made of conscripted commoners that turn most of the population against her.
    • To quote from Zhor, Snadhya'rune is the legitimate heir to the empire of the entire Drow race and would be the undisputed ruler if she was not completely insane. Her first plan to consolidate power was to found an entire rebel group of demon summoners to assault her capital so she and her sisters could inherit the throne from their less-than-supportive mother. She allowed the Saghress to steamroll over her armies and conquer Chel, knowing that they would mismanage their supply routes and starve Chel to near-death so that she could 'save' them with table scraps from her small farming colonies. At her Felde party celebrating the loss of Chel, she publicly announced her plot to use biological warfare to force Chel to TAINT EVERYONE ALIVE. And she used speech craft and her own insanity to pose this as a good thing, right in front of her entire collection of potential allies, all while using one of her minion's Compelling Voice powers to make everyone Kneel Before Zod just for the ego trip. Most of the fandom agrees that she's an actual sociopath.
      • And becomes official in the clusterfuck that is Chapter 46: At first, she presents herself as peaceful tyrant... but then she gets one order disobeyed and gets stabbed. She proceeds to go apeshit over being wounded in combat, so her first response is to scream in complete fury, racially denounce the lower class, and murder all the assassins and allies within a ten-yard radius, and might well have leveled her own palace if she hadn't been stopped by Mel. Later, she declares Kalki, her firstborn daughter, to be a faulty tool and used a magic grenade in her crown to slowly rip her to shreds without batting an eye. Yikes.
      • In the finale, Snadhya'rune undergoes a Humiliation Conga and snaps completely. She unleashes a nether gate half the area of Chel itself, threatening to drown Chel in nether essence and demons. Then she conjures a giant stone dragon and mindlessly rampages all across the city. Then, she kills off all her Immortals and absorbs their souls to form a gigantic blob demon. By the end, her personality is erased and is left a semi-conscious blob demon made of hatred and regret, which is promptly eaten alive by Laele.
  • Eridan Ampora (aka "caligulasAquarium") from Homestuck is a member of the royal sea-dwelling troll caste. His primary interests revolve around genocide of the land-dwellers and his many failed efforts at romance. He mostly embodies this trope in his blind self-absorption and poor decision-making until his Face–Heel Turn.
    • A better example of this trope, oddly enough, is the Grand Highblood, Gamzee's Ancestor, who brutally terrorizes the other, lower land-dwelling castes through capricious homicide and psychic nightmares in the name of his Monster Clown religion. However, this is characteristic of the Subjugglator caste as a whole and not a one-off thing.
    • The biggest Caligula so far is Her Imperious Condescension, who in her home universe spent her time flying to new civilizations and meeting with them peacefully before blasting them to smithereens. And then after her empire is destroyed by The Vast Glub enters into the service of Lord English and goes to the B2 Earth, where she goes mad as the result of repeated botched attempts to recreate her old empire "in all its convoluted symbiotic glory." She ends up taking out her frustrations on humankind, by trying to bioengineer them to have troll blood colors and outlawing sex because she finds it squicky, so by the time Dirk and Roxy are alive 400 years later humanity is extinct.
  • The Law of Purple: Silver is the king of a planet called Caligula and yes, he's a very bad king.
  • Richard from Looking for Group seems to be this with the town he is mayor of. However, his citizens don't mind it since they are already dead.
  • Implied in an Oglaf strip where two princes have been forced into arranged marriages by their father... with a pig and a withered corpse. One prince comments that there should be a rule that you should be forced to abdicate the throne when you start doing things like that.
  • Christian Weston Chandler plays this trope to the hilt as the Mayor of CWCville in Sonichu. He enacts all sorts of bizarre laws that treat smoking as being as heinous as rape and murder, he brutally slaughters anyone who tries to stop him from doing whatever he wants, and his will is enforced by what is essentially a multicolored hedgehog Gestapo who according to Word of God enjoy full immunity from the law. His civic policy decisions are equally as insane-in Sonichu: The Animated Series, he ordered that the CWCville waterworks circulate orange soda pop instead of water, which leads to fires continually breaking out all over the city.
  • The Baron in Spiky-Haired Dragon, Worthless Knight is as much of a Caligula as he can be without pissing off higher-level nobles and fellow barons, which is still a lot, especially to the title character (the knight, not the dragon).
  • Stephen in Terror Island, who somehow managed to be elected Czar of Geography City, largely wields his power to sentence innocent people to indentured labor at Jame's restaurant and to attempt to force Sid to buy groceries. His successor Blueteen isn't much better, sending people to prison (including himself) for attending parades. Not only that, but the parade was actually only supposed to be for stuntmen. Why? Because he had just solved the problem of Jame's stuntman no longer being bound by law to him for jaywalking by telling Jame to just hire him.
  • Apparently, the Heterodyne family of Girl Genius tends this way, judging by the utter relief expressed by citizens of Mechanicsburg when Agatha shows concern for their safety.
    Councillor 1: Two minutes, and she hasn't killed anyone!
    Councillor 2: A new record!
  • Jay Cirri, the Greater-Scope Villain of the autobiographical Joe vs. Elan School, fits this trope to a T. Joe quotes people interviewed for the book Duck in a Raincoat that describe Cirri as a charismatic leader who was revered as a god at Elan School, who was also incredibly mercurial; if you ever slighted him, he would punish you severely. Joe even explicitly likens him to "one of those ancient Roman emperors that become drunk off of power and go off the rails...but there was absolutely nobody around to stop him." By the time of the comic, he's pretty much left the school's management to his underlings, and passively rakes in millions of dollars in profit while the children in his charge are horribly abused.

    Web Originals 
  • Atop the Fourth Wall: Lavidian Scarn, who believes he's inherently better than commoners and the rabble below him and has overseen massacres of innocent people and feels no remorse whatsoever; when Linkara calls him out on it, he thinks those people should have gladly bowed to him instead of resisting. These are just a few of the reasons why he's a deposed king.
  • King Jeffrey in Dragomirs Diary is a moody, capricious, fickle ruler who constantly changes the laws in his castle to suit his bizarre whims. Jeffrey is enough of a jerk that the only visible path into his castle, a bridge called the Neck, has been rigged with a horrifying buzzsaw trap that will cut up anybody he deems dangerous — but because the Neck is constantly clogged with guts, it tends to go off whether Jeffrey wants it to or not. Yet he won't have it removed...
  • A milder Caligula appears in v2 of Open Blue, Count Marcus Veneto, who even made his horse his war advisor, in a Shout-Out to the Trope Namer. The 'milder' comes from the fact that he's trying to get his act together. It's implied that this change of heart is the result of Men In Black being sent by two allied empires to intimidate him into doing so. Suffice to say, that hasn't stopped him from requesting an Amazon Brigade for his personal guard and naming them the Killer Bunny Assassination Squad.
  • The Nostalgia Critic during Kickassia. Once he takes over and gets ahold of power, he uses it solely to entertain himself and threaten the lives of others if they do anything to endanger his hold on it.
  • The Pharaoh comes off this way in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series. His biggest moment is when he recalls "Slavemas", which is described as like Christmas, but he's the only one who gets presents, and all the presents are slaves. When Thief King Bakura tries to subvert this, the Pharaoh ends up declaring that Slavemas will now be celebrated every day.
  • King Harkinian in some of the Zelda CDI YouTube Poops, arguably to the point of rivaling canon characters like Zant and Majora in terms of sheer insanity. This is a man who:
    • Went on a drunken road trip in his new Toyota Hybrid and end up trashing it less than 24 hours after getting it.
    • Got high off of Reese's Pieces.
    • Tried to pay an expensive telephone bill by selling Link on eBay.
    • Shares an incestuous relationship with his daughter Zelda.
    • Makes traitors engage in various, degrading acts in order to receive a pardon, only to laugh at them at the end.
    • Freaked out at the possibility of getting killed while aiding Duke Onkled, sending Link to do the job instead.
    • Shot Link in the gut when asked if he (Link) could play his (King) Nintendo Wii.
    • Responded to one of Link's practical jokes using bazookas (that shot out hamburgers), missiles, and a Kill Sat.
    • Lost his shit when Gwonam said there was no dinner left, killing and maiming anyone within a 500-yard radius.
    • Went travelling the world in order to convince people to eat his feces.
    • When he couldn't go to Gamelon 'for the hell of it', spent the rest of the day saying 'Mah boi' over and over again.
  • Ask King Sombra presents Sombra as this instead of his depiction in the show. He's pretty dang nuts. In fact, most of the occurrences in the blog are simply him hallucinating after his defeat at the hooves of the mane six, which reduced him to a horn (Coffee Talk is trapped with him). Except the ghost monster. That was actually Luna. His Enemy Within, however, is pretty much how he was depicted in the show proper.
    • In the story Fear, Loathing and Gumbo on the Campaign Trail '72, the Lesser Mao is a depraved maniac who takes control of China and turns the country into a giant Pol Pot-style killing field. Imagining himself as the second Qin Shi Huangdi and surrounding himself with the Terracotta Army statues is just the start of his madness. When his troops rise up against his lunacy, he obliterates them- and the entire Kwangsi region — with a nuclear bomb.
    • In Twilight of the Red Tsar, Josef Stalin survives the stroke that killed him in 1953. Confined to a wheelchair, the man lives to unleash another reign of terror upon Russia, sending many apparatchiks, including loyal followers like Molotov and Khrushchev to torture and death, and turning the Doctor's Plot into a pogrom against Russia's Jews, and later ethnically cleanses Russia of Baltic and Caucasian people. Just before his death, he obliterates the People's Republic of China in a brutal war, complete with nuclear weapons and poison gas.
    • A More Personal Union, has the revolutionary known as Red Tiger, upon installing himself as the Emperor of China. Aside from the cannibalism he and his followers partake in, his first decree is to start purging all "enemies of the people", which he defines as nobles, bureaucrats, scholars, and people who wear shoes. It gets worse from there, with Kangaroo Courts and torture for said "criminals", starting a side war with Korea just to kill off his own allies, and intentionally infecting people with smallpox and unleashing them in areas of the country he doesn't directly control.
    • Piecing Together the Ashes: Reconstructing the Old World Order has the man known to history only as "the Beast". A far-right American military figure who leads a coup against a leftist administration and installs himself as the new President, he proceeds to persecute Muslims, crush protesters with soldiers, invade neighboring countries that disagree with him, and finally nuke the world back into the Dark Ages. And as a POV chapter from his perspective shows, he did all this because he honestly believed that everyone who disagreed with him was possessed by demons who secretly ruled the world and that God had tasked him with purging all of them in nuclear fire.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog: During Dr. Robotnik's frequent (frequent like Once per Episode) conquests and efforts to expand the outskirts of his one-man (and multi-robotic) nation to include just a small nearby community, the first thing that he usually does as the self-appointed ruler of his new slaves is to order them to build a giant statue of him if this any indication about his priorities. His mission in the world is to give people more... of him.
  • Adventure Time has Xergiok and Lemongrab. Xergiok is a sadistic, cruel, jerkass leader who delights in spanking his subjects and intimidating them. Lemongrab is a bit of a more sympathetic example — he isn't evil, but he certainly is inexperienced (at being a ruler, AND at being alive) and has anger issues, which eventually leads to everyone in the candy kingdom being sent to the dungeon.
    • Ice King skirts around this as his status as crazy ruler of the ice kingdom started being undercut by his transition to Tragic Villain.
    • King of Ooo, after he usurped the Candy Kingdom throne from Princess Bubblegum, was this in spades. He always blamed his shortcomings on other people, made the Banana Guards wear wigs resembling his hair, have Finn and Jake wear clunky, weird-looking armor, and was willing to send his subjects to their deaths in battle against the Cloud Monster.
  • Aku from Samurai Jack, as expected from a sadistic, Ax-Crazy Psychopathic Man Child demon Made of Evil. Not only commits carnage and genocide on a regular basis, but he is also more than willing to welcome a lot of criminals and gangsters in his Bad Future, a surprisingly disturbing dystopia.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Already unstable following the Heel Face Turns of Mai and Ty Lee at the Boiling Rock, Princess Azula falls quickly into paranoia and fits of rage after Ozai promotes her to Fire Lord, banishing servants and guardsmen from the country in droves and hallucinating about her Missing Mom, Princess Ursa.
    • It doesn't help that Ozai made himself the Phoenix King when he crowned Azula, effectively making her position as Fire Lord meaningless. So while she would rule the Fire Nation, Ozai would rule the world.
    • The Earth Queen from The Legend of Korra undoes all the good things her father from the previous series has done for Ba Sing Se. The stuff she does include overtaking her people so that they lived in squalor while she lives in luxury and raising an airbending army by imprisoning them. When she becomes one of the only people in either series to explicitly be murdered, nobody, in-universe or out, mourned her.
  • From Gravity Falls there's Quentin Trembley, the unknown 8 1/2 President of the United States. Elected by a landslide (as in the other candidates were literally buried by one), he proceeded to ban pants, declare war on pancakes, and appoint babies to the Supreme Court. He was eventually deposed, replaced by William Henry Harrison, and all evidence of his term stricken from the national record. He ended up founding Gravity Falls, being deposed again and finally encasing himself in peanut brittle, in an attempt to live forever — which, amazingly enough, worked.
  • That episode of I Am Weasel where the titular character and Cloud Cuckoolander I.R. Baboon have their brains switched. The now deranged "I.R. Weasel" uses I.M. Weasel's influence to mess up the world (thinking that he's making it better). The now level-headed "I.M. Baboon" convinced him, however, to go on forced retirement before he could do more damage.
  • The Almighty Tallest of Invader Zim have tendencies as such, being perfectly happy to put their subjects under such events as Probing Day, where they make Invaders do ridiculous things to entertain them or else suffer a pummeling (pushing some buttons that lead to said Invaders getting beat up by their own technology). The entire principle of destroying a planet to build a parking garage or food court also says something about them.
    • They also tried to kill their best invader just for being short.note  They order everyone to retreat from battle just because of their snacks being lost, and once even punished someone by shooting them out of the airlock. Security threw out the wrong person by accident. Their response? Apathy.
      Tallest Purple: That was the wrong guy, but... it's okay. I think everyone gets the point.
    • This winds up doing them in in Enter the Florpus since they could have easily escaped the unfathomable chaos that is the titular space anomaly by turning away from it.
      Tallest Red: (whiny) But we're going straight...
  • Lucius Heinous VII on Jimmy Two-Shoes. Although technically a Corrupt Corporate Executive who owns Miseryville, he dedicates his rule to making sure everyone is miserable. His various deeds include having a barbershop blown up for giving him a bad horn manicure, mounting his high school teacher's head on a wall for mocking his horns, ordering for one of the world's three suns to be destroyed, and stealing all the city's water to fill a private swimming pool. That's not even getting to the deeds of his family (His father, Lucius Heinous VI, once had the entire town flooded just to get back into the mood).
  • A tame example occurs in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Hearth's Warming Eve". Pinkie Pie's character in the pageant about the foundation of Equestria is Chancellor Puddinghead, leader of the earth pony tribe and clearly a few apples short of a bushel. She was apparently an elected official, but it's a bit of a mystery why anyone would vote for her; it's possible that the various hardships brought about by the extended winter drove the earth ponies to desperation, as hinted at by the quote below.
    Puddinghead: I was elected because I know how to think outside the box, which means — *shoves head up a nearby chimney* — I can think inside the chimney! *beat* Can you think inside a chimney?
    • A less tame example is Discord, a former Evil Overlord who ruled Equestria a long ago in a reign of chaos and suffering. He's what happens when a crazy psycho with Reality Warper abilities and a twisted sense of humor is in charge.
    • In her second appearance in "Magic Duel", the Great and Powerful Trixie becomes this thanks to an Artifact of Doom, turning Ponyville into an empire without Celestia (who at the time was performing royal duties in a far-off location) there to stop her. It was also making her more insane by the moment, to the point she spent half the episode being pulled around in a chariot without wheels because she didn't trust wheels.
  • Nero himself appeared on Peabody and Sherman's segment of Rocky and Bullwinkle, but this was a subversion, where he was portrayed as Not Evil, Just Misunderstood. In this reality, it was actually Nero's music teacher who started the fire.
  • Nero appears in an episode of Garfield and Friends, where Garfield tells the story of the cat who invented lasagna. In the story, Nero is depicted as a Villainous Glutton who imprisons (or in some cases, executes) bad chefs. When the cat's owner (the cat and the owner being Expys of Garfield and Jon) is thrown in prison, the cat appeals to the Emperor's appetite, claiming Jon is an excellent chef (even though he isn't) which persuades the Emperor to give him a chance. The cat's idea is that cats and emperors are very much alike, lazy, greedy people who like to be waited on, so he figured the Emperor would like what he likes, and directs his owner to make what is eventually called lasagna. It works; the Emperor loves it and pardons the man.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants special "Whatever Happened to SpongeBob?" has an amnesiac SpongeBob finding himself in a city under the tyranny of a greaser gang who outlawed bubbles just because they have the potential to cause harm. In the end, they turn out to have been Properly Paranoid when the city (somehow) collapses into chaos only a few hours after SpongeBob's bubble laws were put into practice.
  • Galvatron from Transformers: Generation 1. Spending the time between the movie and season three in a lava pit turned him from the Megatron-but-competent of the movie to... uh... the way we all remember him being. He blasted more of his own troops in his rages than Autobots in battle, and at one point, some other Decepticons told his right-hand bot Cyclonus that if something didn't change, they were going to deal with both of them. Too bad no Decepticon civil war ever materialized.
    • Straxus from the comics is even worse. His Animated counterpart, however, is played for laughs on a fan-run formspring page.
  • The title character of King Rollo is a benign, downplayed example. He never does anything malicious — in fact, he never does anything at all besides play with his toys and move from place to place in a silly manner. The show's very young target audience doesn't need to concern itself with the effect Rollo's reign has on his kingdom, but older viewers are free to infer what they will.
  • The Czar of Balzac from the Rocko's Modern Life episode "The Emperor's New Joe" was obsessed with making his tiny nation trendy, no matter how ridiculous this made his citizens.
  • Princess Boo-Boo from Freaktown is the bratty, bossy ruler of Sweetlandia who wants to make Freaktown as cutesy and saccharine as the rest of her domain.
  • Oh No! It's An Alien Invasion: Emperor Brainlius III, ruler of the Brainlings, is an obese, idiotic manchild who spends most of his time playing in his bathtub rather than actually ruling, leaving the invasion entirely in the hands of his Dragon-in-Chief Briiian.
  • Urban Vermin has Ken, a Card-Carrying Villain and all-around Jerkass who made himself a tinpot dictator so he could hoard all the garbage in The Block for himself, with his skirmishes with his brother being as much childish sibling rivalry as they are a struggle with La Résistance.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Star’s alleged great-times-ten grandmother Queen Solaria is recorded in history as being a wonderful All-Loving Hero. In reality, she was a total lunatic whose hatred of monsters reached psychotic levels. She created an army of horrific mutants to aid in her crusades and tried to create a spell called “Annihilation”, which would’ve killed every single monster in existence. Fortunately, she died before she could complete it, and her daughter Eclipsa was sane enough to make sure it stayed incomplete.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Catra's rank in the Horde seems to be inversely proportional with her sanity and ability to be at all reasonable. By Season 4, she's an equal partner of Hordak himself... and has also developed a nasty habit of lashing out and verbally abusing people for disagreeing with her, forcing her underlings to work three shifts back-to-back without a chance to sleep, keeping everyone in the dark about her plans, and making some very damaging decisions in her effort to finally outdo Adora, up to and including nearly ending the world, and exiling Entrapta — Hordak's almost-girlfriend — to Beast Island when she tries to interfere. This all blows up in her face by the end of the season; thanks to her actions, many of her soldiers have lost all confidence in her, she causes at least five people to defect from the Horde, two of whom were her most useful allies, and Hordak finds out what she did to Entrapta and goes ballistic.


Video Example(s):


Duke Oslo El Gustav

Oslo was made a Duke out of his combat powers. However he is undoubtedly batshit insane with his demands.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheCaligula

Media sources: