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The Generalissimo

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"There are no offensive stereotypes in the glorious Socialist Democratic Federated Republic of Carbombya!"

Dear Lisa, as I write this, I am very sad. Our president has been overthrown and—
[voice changes to that of a man]
—replaced by the benevolent General Krull. All hail Krull and his glorious new regime! Sincerely, Little Girl.

A Sub-Trope of Evil Overlord, as well as The Caligula in some cases. The military dictator of a fictional third world state or nation (often located in Latin America, Central or Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, or the Middle East/North Africa). Almost invariably rules a People's Republic of Tyranny or a Banana Republic, though other flavors of dictatorship are not unheard of. The most popular setting is a banana republic on a picturesque tropical island, but regardless of setting, the general's residence is always steeped in wealth and luxury while his subjects live in utter poverty. Almost Always Male, and often either Large and in Charge or The Napoleon/Mister Big. If they do have families, they will naturally be The Patriarch as a parent, and their children are spoiled, sadistic hedonists that treat the nation as their personal playground. They typically have a wife and several mistresses, or a harem of trophy wives, and their views on women often lean towards the chauvinistic. In the field, they're usually a General Ripper and ultimately a General Failure to show that they're all swagger, no substance.

His reign tends to be characterised by human rights abuses, political repression, ethnic persecution, judicial killings, extrajudicial killings, nepotism, corruption (particularly embezzlement and bribery), and frequent purges of any subordinates he finds suspicious. His political viewpoints (if he even has any) usually veer towards Communism, Fascism, some combination of the worst aspects of both, or just no-frills authoritarianism. Of course, none of this will stop him from proclaiming himself "The People's Liberator" or otherwise billing himself as a great hero. He may rule alone, or he may be the head of a military junta. On occasion, another person may be the official head of state, but they'll be just a figurehead for him to rule through, if not sidelined entirely.

He may have attended a prestigious Ivy League or Oxbridge university in his youth, where he Majored in Western Hypocrisy. He may have also studied at an institution run by a sketchy foreign intelligence agency, getting trained in the art of "dealing with difficult citizens". He is often the target of American assassination attempts and rebel groups, who may or may not be figments of his own paranoia. A common subplot is to have a (frequently communist) Cuba-style guerrilla movement training to overthrow him, with a hammy Castro or Che Expy as their fearless leader. Once their revolution happens, the general goes into hiding to train his own insurgents to overthrow the new revolutionary government, which is just as repressive as the old one. A common twist is to make him a Straw Hypocrite: he doesn't really care for his stated ideology at all, but uses it to cement his hold on power. He also has a tendency to make extremely long and winding speeches in public or over the national airwaves.

Tends to be based on one or more real-life military dictators (living or dead), and particularly Latin American ones, who experienced so many of these guys that they created their own term to describe such leaders, caudillonote . Of course, people from other regions are also common influences. See the analysis page for more information.

Usually this character is Dressed to Oppress in fancy military garb, with a Chest of Medals and a Commissar Cap (often a comically large one), though if he's a Castro or Che imitation (particularly with characters who are part of the standard guerrilla subplot), he might wear plain olive drab fatigues and a Ridgeway cap or Che-style black beret instead. If he wants to project an image of holding legitimate authority beyond force, he may don an expensive suit. Common traits include facial hair of some sort, cigar smoking, dark sunglasses, a hatred of democracy, a long list of self-bestowed grandiose titles, and naming cities and monuments after himself. Because Generalissimos often have little political credibility but plentiful self-delusions of grandeur, they are often also called Tinpot Dictators (not to be confused with Tin Tyrants).

Compare and contrast The Warlord, who imposes his rule through pure military pressure instead of installing himself at the head of a functional country like the Generalissimo does, although the more far-sighted kind of Warlords may have ambitions to become this trope.

Note that generalissimo (Latin generalissimus, the absolute superlative of "general") is a legitimate rank in some militaries, denoting a seven-star general.note  The trope namers come from many dictators who awarded themselves with this rank primarily due a big ego and bloated sense of self-importance, but you don't necessarily need to be a dictator or incompetent commander to be a Generalissimo — many Real Life Generalissimos have been brilliant and competent field commanders. The first to bear the rank was Albrecht von Wallenstein, the Imperial commander-in-chief in the Thirty Years' War. A similar (theoretical) naval rank of admiralissimus exists; so far, only Haireddin Barbarossa of the Imperial Turkish Navy and Albrecht von Wallenstein have borne it.

Contrast the Benevolent Dictator.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • General Gilmore from Doraemon: Nobita's Little Space War overthrew the ruling party of Planet Pirika, establishing himself as their new leader as he enforces a ruthless dictatorship on it's citizens. The ex-President, Papi, was saved by the La Résistance and forced to flee to Earth, unintentionally stumbling into Nobita and friends, with the rest of the movie revolving around the gang trying to restore Papi's rule and bring back peace to the planet.
  • Gihren Zabi of Mobile Suit Gundam. Zeon itself has shades of being a third world country compared to The Federation, and while he's technically the son of the actual Sovereign, Gihren serves as the Zeon's de facto ruler through his position as Prime Minister and tremendous Cult of Personality.
  • Daimos: Olban of Planet Baam organizes regular killings on his own people, who are already survivors of a genocide. To retain his position, he sends the true heir to the throne, Richter, off to war, after managing to successfully frame the human race for the assassination that took his father. Olban also has the hots for the daughter of the man he assassinated, Erika, and seeks to marry her to legitimize his position. [[spoiler: In a dramatic turn of events, it turns out that while Erika agreed to marry him, she secretly planned to kill him as revenge for him killing her father. Later, her and Richter team up to have him disposed.

    Comic Books 
  • In a Black Panther story from the 1970s, Jakarra, T'challa's cousin, staged a coup and declared himself the absolute leader of Wakanda and first guardian of the panther cult, planning to use his superior technology to Take Over the World, becoming - briefly- in this trope.
  • Tintin has encountered several of these, notably General Alcazar (although he becomes relatively more heroic later) and General Tapioca. Notably, Alcazar's men in Tintin and the Picaros are modeled after Cuban revolutionaries, and Alcazar himself dresses like Fidel Castro while sporting Che's sideburns and facial hair.
  • Benoit Brisefer, a French comic, has one such island Banana Republic with three generals (army, navy and air), who are constantly taking and retaking the palace from each other and declaring themselves Arch-Generalissimo or other inflated titles. Meanwhile, the dirt-poor inhabitants have grown used to all this nonsense and carry on life as usual (it helps that the soldiers are all remarkably inept, employing A-Team Firing to the fullest).
  • In Tex Willer one of their antagonists in a mini arc set in Mexico is basically aiming at this position, but his plans are thwarted and eventually comes back for revenge in another arc.
  • Spirou & Fantasio: In the stories QRN sur Bretzelburg and Le dictateur et le Champignon dictators embodied by this trope are a source of comedy.
  • Nero: The series poked fun at both real-life dictators such as Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro, as well as self-created ones, like Daris, a Mexican dictator introduced in De Man Zonder Gezicht.
  • De Kiekeboes: Bibi Pralin Gaga, a parody of Idi Amin, is a recurring villain in the series. Sstoeffer is a Hitleresque dictator of a Banana Republic in South America, while King Sacha is the equivalent in a Bulungi country. Tzervostuhr is an Eastern European dictator in De Roze Rolls, an album that introduces many other former dictators who have fled to a political asylum. In De Eén Zijn Dood president Rhottzaq is another Eastern European dictator.
  • In one of the Wilq stories, a beautiful woman asks the superhero to find her dad - who happens to be a leader of a military junta, a part-time tyrant, and an aficionado of torture and corruption, as she proudly declares.
  • In the volume 19 of Malaysian comic book Profession (Chinese: 职业人气王 Zhíyè rénqì wáng), General Damon was this. When the ruler of the W-country were fallen ill, he take control of the country and trying to eradicating those who were oppose him, and he was the cause of the disappearances of a few officers, and teamed up with terrorist to cause the country in the midst of civil unrest, destroying (almost) any communications stations in the country, and blaming the innocent peoples of W-country for the terrorist attacks. (Look at this double-page if you're interested) When the main character Ivan (the reporter) and his friends travel to the country to aid the residents of the W-country, they get Attap (known as Yata in the original Chinese version), the leader of an neighborhooding country, to overthrow Damon and stopped the terrorist attack in the final chapter.
  • Doctor Doom is a rare example of a tinpot dictator who is personally powerful to back up all of his threats and boasts. While Latveria is a small backwater country that he brutally oppresses, the populace are generally well taken care of and Doom uses his scientific genius to raise the otherwise insignificant country to a world power capable of destroying the world several times over.
  • Chick Tracts: "Fat Cats" is set in a fictional Latin American country features a group of rebels fighting against the corrupt, repressive regime of the military dictator known only as "El Supremo". The Rebel Leader and eventual Premier, a man named Carlos, ends up becoming no better when he takes power.
  • In the Chilean comic Zombies en la Moneda, after a second zombie apocalypse, the president of the country ends up being an Augusto Pinochet zombie… ... something like that, it's a bit confusing. None other than one of the real life inspirations for this trope.

    Fan Works 
  • The Discworld of A.A. Pessimal introduces the Latin Land of Paraquat, which is of course ruled benevolently and wisely out of its capital city La Ciudad del Generalissimo Augusto Richochet by the Head Of Everything and President For Life, Generalissimo Augusto Richochet.
  • Lieutenant Obsidian from Inkopolis Chaos got her way into power purely through using fear. She only became an elite because DJ Octavio was sick of her killing his own soldiers, and she became the leader due to the other lieutenants/commanders fearing her and giving her total power once Octavio was imprisoned, crowning her the new Octarian leader.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In Latin America there's a whole genre of books dealing with this trope called the "dictator novel". Like the name implies, they tend to focus more on the man with the power rather than the country itself. These are often centered around fictional or past dictators in Latin American nations, and the writer indirectly criticizes contemporary Latin American dictators through the plot. A famous example is The Autumn of the Patriarch with the dictator (unnamed) as its protagonist.
  • Discworld:
    • Mentioned in Lords and Ladies as "Some people are born to kingship. Some achieve kingship, or at least Arch-Generalissimo-Father-of-His-Countryship.", possibly referring to Franco.
    • In The Compleat Discworld Atlas Istanzia, following the collapse of the Omnian Empire, is ruled by a military junta, the leader of which has named the capital city Georginople after himself.
  • "Mad Dog" Branzillo of A Swiftly Tilting Planet rules the fictional South American country Vespugia. The plot revolves around going back in time and changing events so that Branzillo becomes a benevolent ruler instead.
  • The Feast of the Goat gives us the real-life Rafael Trujillo, one of the most despised and infamous caudillos in all of Latin American history, and very likely the inspiration behind this very trope's existence.
  • Victoria's William H. Kraft is a Designated Hero example, being the leader of the "good guy" faction in the book's heavily dystopian post-apocalyptic setting. Otherwise, he still fits every detail of the stereotype.
  • Star Wars Legends: As the Empire falls apart due to the Evil Power Vacuum caused by Palpatine and Vader's deaths at Endor, many high-ranking officials decide to jump ship and carve out their own tinpot dictatorships, often granting themselves grandiose titles like "High General", "Prince-Admiral" and "Omnipotent Battle Leader".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Inazuman has Führer Geisel, who usurped Emperor Banba's tyrannical and genocidal regime, put an even more tyrannical and genocidal regime in place, and rules over Despar City with an iron fist.
  • Parodied in an episode of 30 Rock. Elisa's (Salma Hayek) grandmother hates Jack because he bears a striking resemblance to the Generalissimo, the villain of her favorite soap opera. Jack (being the President of NBC) acquires Telemundo and attempts to have the Generalissimo killed off. Unfortunately, since the show is apparently broadcast live, the actor playing the Generalissimo goes Off the Rails when the female protagonist attempts to shoot him.
    [subtitled in Spanish] —>"Ha! You missed! You missed again! "And now, this potion's gonna make me live forever!"
  • In Mission: Impossible, the IMF would occasionally be tasked with dealing with these. In the pilot episode, the team has to retrieve nuclear warheads being held in the hotel the Generalissimo uses as his party headquarters.
  • Vagrant Queen: When Lazaro takes over the Republic through use of the Steerzad, he dubs himself the "Grand Supreme Leader" and puts his face on the national flag.

  • "Weird Al" Yankovic:
    • He's tasked with killing two of these types in his Party in the C.I.A video. But after he botches an assassination one of them ends up abducting and killing him.
    • Al himself dresses as one for the Mandatory Fun album's cover art.
  • Liv Jagrell, the singer for Swedish heavy-metal band Sister Sin, dresses as a rare female version of this trope for the music video of Chaos Royale (a song about how accepting her as dictator of the entire world will be much better than the current system).

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Fighting Opera HUSTLE was less about the title belts, tournaments and grudge matches usually associated with pro wrestling as the invading Monster Army, lead by Generalissimo Takada, usually took center stage. Unlike most examples, Takada actually did have supernatural powers to go with his grand self given titles(hence Monster Army) but despite these, and enough money to buy the HUSTLE promotion, he was frequently defeated.

    Video Games 
  • You can play as one of these in Tropico. One of the backgrounds, one of the outfits, and one of the hats are all called "Generalissimo", with the background having you take power in a military dictatorship, and the outfit and hat being a military officer's uniform with a big general's hat. To top it all off, you can put a beard on or mustache on your avatar as well. It's up to you how far you actually take this, however.
    • If you don't want to make your own avatar, you can just pick a pre-made one, with predetermined traits, backgrounds, appearances, and outfits. These include real world caudillos such as Fidel Castro of Cuba, Juan Domingo Perón of Argentina, and Manuel Noriega of Panama.
    • In the early missions of Tropico 4, "Generalissimo Santana" teaches you the finer points in running a country. Eventually he reveals himself to be a Treacherous Advisor and frames you for the assassination of the US president so he can take over Tropico.
  • Battlefield: Bad Company 1 has Zavomir Serdar, dictator of the fictional country Serdaristan. His role is mostly comic relief and The Load to B Company.
  • General Viper in Chrono Cross, who rules El Nido with his Acacia Dragoons. He's actually a rare heroic example; he might be authoritarian, but he's a good ruler and was only after Serge because he was being manipulated by Lynx.
  • In Hearts of Iron II, Resigned Generalissimo is one of the possible traits for the Head of State.
  • Queen-for-Life Deidranna in Jagged Alliance 2 splits the difference between this trope and God Save Us from the Queen!, as the little Central American state of Arulco was a constitutional monarchy before she deposed her husband, got him arrested and imprisoned on trumped-up charges and turned the place into a Troperiffic Banana Republic. Luckily for everyone who didn't hastily set about exploiting this state of affairs for personal gain, King Enrique escaped overseas with the help of the nascent La Résistance and spent several years scraping up the money to hire mercenaries to bolster their ranks.
  • In the original Bionic Commando, the evil dictator trying to re-activate the secret Imperial Army superweapon is named Generalissimo Killt in the American release of the game. He has the stereotypical dictatorial appearance, in that he dresses exactly like M. Bison and looks like a slightly melted Brian Regan, and is characterized with the expected arrogance and military fervor. He also kind of gets Hijacked by Ganon when he gets killed off by a revived Hitler.
  • General Shimada from The Legend of Tian-ding, the Japanese commander overseeing the military activities in Taipei during the Japanese occupation in the 1900s, who quickly turns the city into a hellhole with his ruthless dictatorship.
  • Colonel Allende in Red Dead Redemption, who perfectly fits the archetype of "Corrupt Mexican military leader" as befits the adherence of the game to various kinds of Western films. John Marston does some work for him in order to get to his target Bill Williamson but eventually works completely against the government after Allende tries to have him executed (who turns out to be sheltering Bill).
  • General Raul Grasiento, who appears in Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror, who has a crush on Nicole (much to her dismay), and George notes that he had all the medals in the wrong side of the chest. In a variation of the trope, he isn't the leader of his country, Quaramonte. That position belongs to his mother. And in an even odder variant, he pulls a Heel–Face Turn towards the end, and helps the heroes save the day.
  • In Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake of the Metal Gear series, Big Boss is this.
  • Giorgio Zott from Time Crisis 3.
  • The villains of the Just Cause series are all tin pot dictators of island nations who Rico Rodriguez (a "Dictator Removal Specialist") must topple through destruction of property and creative uses of grappling hooks.
  • El Jefe of Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is a Fidel Castro parody whose actual occupation is a mercenary warlord who hires out his talents for conquering small nations.
  • Far Cry:
    • Pagan Min of Far Cry 4 is the military dictator of the nation of Kyrat, having started off as a Triad gangster who ingrained himself within the royal family before overthrowing them and taking over in a bloody civil war. He uses his position to take his anger out on the Kyrati populace while also cultivating a Cult of Personality. Interestingly, while certainly a military dictator, Pagan doesn't dress like one, preferring a pink suit instead.
    • Far Cry 6 has Big Bad Anton Castillo (played by Giancarlo Esposito) as a straighter example. He is the military leader of the definitely-not-Cuba island nation of Yara, and is clearly modeled after two infamous Cuban leaders given the setting; Fidel Castro by espousing words of strength while holding an iron grip on the populace, and Fulgencio Batista by wearing a well-tailored suit adorned with a few medals, statues of him all around, and having the military in his hand. All the while, he eagerly grooms his son Diego to become his successor, unpinning a grenade in his hand and giving him a Sadistic Choice of either letting go and killing himself, or throwing it at protesters clearly furious with the current regime.
  • Borderlands 2 features a corporate version in the form of Handsome Jack. While Jack lacks the military background or chest full of medals, he regularly bills himself as a hero and claims to be civilizing Pandora, a miserable Death World, throughout the game. Jack rules over the planet with an iron fist, suppresses dissent by sending his army to destroy any resistance, cultivates a cult of personality from both Hyperion workers and Pandoras, and puts up statues and posters of himself everywhere. His ideal city for Pandora is also a massive Egopolis dedicated to himself and telling everyone what a great hero he is. The final episode of Tales from the Borderlands also hints that he regularly kills his own employees, with AI Jack interrogating his workers to find Rhys's location, and casually gunning them down with a turret if they can't answer immediately.
  • Splatoon's DJ Octavio was a military commander during the Great Turf War, and is the military leader of the Octarians in the present day. Given how much Octarian society has been driven by military needs ever since the war ended over a century prior — helped by a steady flow of propaganda intended to keep anger towards Inklings as high as possible — this makes him one of the main leaders of their society as well (assuming there even are any other major political leaders). He's also seen in a positive light by his soldiers, as even defectors like Agent 8 and Marina don't give his command as a reason for leaving.
  • A recurring trope in the ARMA series:
    • Prime Minister Torrez of the Democratic Republic of Sahrani (DSR), who orders the invasion of the monarchy in South Sahrani.
    • Former President of the DSR Ramirez/Richardicz (the in-game name is different from the manual and published material for some reason), he supposedly died before the events of Armed Assault. He was actually alive and hiding in Rahmadi, directing the invasion from the shadows.
    • Colonel (later President) Muhammad R. Aziz of Takistan, a pretty obvious Saddam Hussein expy. He led a socialist coup to overthrow the old Takistani monarchy, ruling the country for two decades with an iron fist. After the country's lucrative oil wells and refineries are sabotaged by CIA-backed pro-royalist rebels, he attempts to invade the southern neighbour country of Karzeghistan and results into a UN-sanctioned NATO invasion, and in his death.
    • Georgious Akhanteros, the commander-in-chief of the Altis Armed Forces (AAF) and de facto president of the Republic of Altis and Stratis.
  • In Evil Genius 2, Red Ivan was given a country of his own after his stint as a Henchman in the first game that he called "Ivania". Unfortunately, he's been ousted via a democratic election by the time of the game and his goal is to eventually reconquer his nation and rule the world.
  • The setting of Brigador is the city of Solo Nobre, which was ruled by a man who is literally known as Great Leader. Great Leader rose to power through a revolution that chased the corporations that previously owned the city offworld, and his government was a corrupt dictatorship that enforced its rule through martial law. The game begins a few hours after Great Leader's sudden death, with the city erupting into widespread violence as various political factions try to gain power.
  • AMC Squad has Prokhor Vilmos, the leader of the fascist political movement known as the Imperial Union and the ruler of Russia after his cronies take over the government. Wearing a Tsarist-style uniform with a gaudy shako, his reign of terror is so bloody that it prompts Highwire, then a high-ranking officer in the Earth Defense Force, to go AWOL and lead a rebellion against Vilmos and the Union, with the help of his longtime friend James Stanfield.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • DuckTales (1987): In "Allowance Day", General Chiquita, president of the aptly named Banana Republic.
  • The Simpsons:
    • All hail Krull and his glorious new regime!
    • Another example had Bart call one up to find out if his toilet flushes in the opposite direction in the southern hemisphere to the northern. El Presidenté's translator's English isn't the best and he ends up telling El Presidenté that the rebels will win, causing him to jump out the window.
  • Roger briefly impersonates one of these in American Dad!.
  • The Transformers had Abdul Fakkadi, Supreme Military Commander, President-for-Life, and King of Kings of the Socialist Democratic Federated Republic of Carbombya, pictured above. He is a not-so-subtle Take That! at Muammar Gaddafi (with his long list of titles a probable reference to Idi Amin). (Which makes him the least racist thing about the episodes set there). Regardless, it was enough to make Casey Kasem (the voice of Cliffjumper, who had survived the crucible that was the 1986 film) quit the series out of disgust.
  • Once Upon a Time... Space has General Pest, leader of Cassiopeia, who given the Expy of the Real Life Roman Republic with Crystal Spires and Togas that is that nation is closer to a dictator in Roman sense. That changes near the end of the series, when he organizes a coup d'état and becomes the de facto leader of Cassiopeia. He does not get much time to enjoy it, however.
  • Towards the end of the Vice arc in Archer, the cartel travels to San Marcos to meet "El Presidente" Gustavo Calderon, who's been at war with the rebels in his country. Thanks to Archer's typical bungling, a rebel attack and several other events (including his infatuation with Cherlene's country music), he ends up deposed by Cyril, of all people- when he, Archer and Cherlene attempt to escape, he ends up getting mauled by a tiger. (Cyril ends up having to flee with everyone else when US Marines invade the place.)
  • In Rocky and Bullwinkle, while Boris and Natasha are the most common antagonists to the Moose and Squirrel, they both answer to "Fearless Leader", the leader of Pottsylvania. That being said, some episodes suggest Fearless Leader is actually a front-man for the seldom-appearing Mr. Big.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Tin Pot Dictator


Sebastiano Di Ravello

The military dictator of Medici. Di Ravello rules his nation with an iron fist and is Rico's main target.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / TheGeneralissimo

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