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The Good King

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"I found Aquilonia in the grip of a pig like you — one who traced his genealogy for a thousand years. The land was torn with the wars of the barons, and the people cried out under oppression and taxation. Today no Aquilonian noble dares maltreat the humblest of my subjects, and the taxes of the people are lighter than anywhere else in the world."

The Good King is honorable, virtuous, wise, and understanding. He treats his subjects with respect (no matter how seemingly unimportant they are), governs the land fairly, is a Royal Who Actually Does Something, and feels no need to flaunt his considerable power. The Good King also tends to be soft-spoken, but when he raises his voice, you’d better listen. You might mistake his kindness for weakness, but you would do well to remember that good does not always equal soft.

If the work takes place during a war, expect this king to be on the front lines and always putting The Men First. When it comes to the actual battle, the Good King tends to lead the charge and is often more formidable in combat than any of his soldiers.

Above all else, a Good King cares about his kingdom and his people and will sacrifice himself to protect them, even if that means putting Honor Before Reason.


Any work where the king has been killed by an Evil Prince, The Caligula, Evil Uncle, or Evil Chancellor will normally portray the deceased king as this, to serve as a contrast to the current evil regime. After The Good King dies, he will almost inevitably be followed by a Sketchy Successor.

Because kings are typically associated with old men, the Good King will rarely be the main character and often serve as The Mentor to the protagonist. If the protagonist is one of his children, expect him to have Papa Wolf tendencies.

May be Happily Married to The High Queen, thus forming a Ruling Couple. When a Prince Charming or Wise Prince grows up, he tends to become the Good King.

See also Hobbes Was Right.

In terms of the ranks of Authority Tropes, the tropes that are equal are The High Queen, God Save Us from the Queen!, The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask, She Is the King, Iron Lady, and President Evil. The next steps down are The Evil Prince, Prince Charming, Prince Charmless, Warrior Prince, The Wise Prince, and all Princess Tropes. The next step up is The Emperor. See also Benevolent Mage Ruler if the Good King is also a spellcaster.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • The King of Midland in Berserk looks to be this, but ends up being more of a deconstruction by the end. He is kind, honorable, intelligent, and has led his country through lifetimes of warfare, and in a Decadent Court, he is willing to reward the Band of the Hawk irrespective of their common birth. As it turns out, though, Being Good Sucks — he's become so emotionally distant from his wife that she's cheating on him, he's under so much stress that it's heavily implied that his attempts to uplift Griffith are his plan to retire, and his love for his daughter has been badly warped to the point of lust. When things start going south, he snaps completely and spends the last few years of his life as The Caligula.
  • The King of the World from Dragon Ball is a minor character, but is shown to be a kind and noble ruler (and later in the story, one of the few Earthlings to figure out that normal means will just get people killed against Cell.)
  • Toma E. Fiore from Fairy Tail is the King of Fiore and is considered a good king in spite of his limited screen time. While we haven't seen much of his governing skills, the fact that Fiore overall is a peaceful nation outside of the dark guilds lends credence to his ability, and he clearly shows concern for the people as his first order of business during the Grand Magic Games after learning about the upcoming dragon attack is to evacuate the citizens and plead the wizard guilds to help battle the oncoming enemy. He's also a very personable fellow.
  • Fate/Zero: Saber, Rider, and Archer were all considered great kings in their times. Due to Deliberate Values Dissonance, they all hold themselves to vastly different standards. Saber isolated herself from her people and her emotions in order to be as effective and just as possible. Rider was the opposite, his passionate love for his people allowing him to empathize with and inspire them. They both strongly disagree with each other's method of ruling; in particular, Saber believes that she wasn't isolated enough and wants to go back in time and never become king so that someone else could do a better job. And of course, Archer is just a giant asshole who was nonetheless "good" due to Might Makes Right and Divine Right of Kings.
  • Hotohori in Fushigi Yuugi. He rules with fairness and he really is a Nice Guy. It's just too bad he got chi-blasted by Nakago, because after that, the Konan Empire started falling apart, despite Houki and Boushin's best efforts.
  • In The Mysterious Cities of Gold, the Raja is shown to be a good and benevolent ruler, beloved by his subjects.
  • One Piece has several examples:
    • King Nefertari Cobra cares deeply about his people. When a revolution takes place within his country, he's more concerned that his subjects are unhappy than he is about his own safety.
    • King Neptune of Fishman Island, who used his own body to shield his subjects from an attack.
    • Wapol's father was a king that cared for his subjects and was beloved by all. His son turned out to be The Caligula.
    • Riku Dold III of Dressrosa is a really good king, who loves his country and subjects. Though his country was poor, it was thriving and the people loved him back. Then Doflamingo came and fucked everything up, making Riku Dold seem like a murderer who stole money from his citizens while slaughtering them via Frame-Up. Once the truth was revealed, however, the Dressrosan people starting trusting Riku again.
  • Yona of the Dawn: Yona's father was a good man, but a bit ineffective as a king. The land withered under his rule despite his best efforts, and the best that could be said about him was that he prevented war. Of course, due to Values Dissonance, this led to the nobles deriding him as a coward. His replacement, Soo-Won, is much more effective... but he earned the throne by murdering a man who saw him as a son, and encouraged his allies to act like common bandits against his own people to force them to acknowledge him.
  • Pharaoh Atem from Yu-Gi-Oh!. In the anime and manga, he is intelligent, wise, and noble, and has a deep love for his people and friends that leads him to sacrifice himself for them, maintaining a seal on the darkness until the protagonist accidentally releases his spirit at the series beginning. He is also a graduate wise prince, as his father's sudden death and mistakes left him with a mess to sort out. His successor being sketchy is averted with Seto, who is said to have brought Egypt into a prosperous age.

    Comic Books 
  • Aquaman:
    • Arthur Curry, the eponymous hero, is also king of Atlantis and is usually a good and well-liked ruler who cares for his people.
    • Orm, Aquaman's half-brother, doesn't think highly of humanity; however, in the New 52, he's decidedly a good king whom Atlanteans seem to respect, and they speak highly of him.
  • Black Adam may be incredibly violent, brutal, and uncompromising, but there is no debating the fact that he truly cares about Kahndaq and its people and wants what's best for them.
  • In Chlorophylle, Mithron XIII is depicted as a benevolent ruler, a Reasonable Authority Figure, a very nice person, and is adored by his people. When an attempt is made on his life in Zizanion le Terrible, it is a shock for both him and the population that someone would want him dead.
  • The Krypton Chronicles miniseries, which explores the history of Krypton and Superman's lineage, has Erok, the first bethgar (a Kryptonese term roughly equivalent to "king" or "emperor") to unify the continent of Urrika, ten millennia before the birth of Superman. He created the first law and justice system which ended blood feuds, outlawed cannibalism and human sacrifice, and institutionalized the hereditary system of last names.
  • In The Mighty Thor, we have Odin, king of the Aesir. Though he can be a bit imperious or cold, he means exceptionally well and has led his people through countless struggles — which is good, when he's one of the most powerful entities in the Marvel Universe.
  • In Jack Kirby's New Gods, there's Highfather, ruler of New Genesis, a wise and kind leader who assumed the position after his wild youth and espouses a philosophy of freedom and pacifism. Notably, he tends to avoid acting as a king — he rules with a very light touch and is more of a spiritual leader who serves to interpret the Source. This is to contrast with Darkseid, who rules with an iron fist.
  • The Scrameustache: Iridia's father, the King of Sharbakan. While he can take foolish decisions, he rules with the best intentions for the good of his people.
  • King Clarkie II in Strontium Dog. While he is naïve, childish and more than a little spacey, he is also deeply committed to the welfare of his people, including mutants, and firmly anti-Kreeler. It takes a bit of effort to get him going, but once he has been prodded into action, he will always do the right thing.
  • Sub-Mariner: Namor's attitude toward the outside world tends to change Depending on the Writer but one thing is always constant; he loves Atlantis and his people and will do anything to protect them.
  • Warlord of Mars: Doble subversion. Tardos Mors is the proud, virtuous, and benevolent Jeddak of Helium... Until Tyrant of Mars rolls out, where he turns into an Evil Overlord bent on a genocidal campaign against the polar races of Barsoom after he comes back to life. Then it's revealed that is actually a double created by an evil White Martian spirit and the real Tardos is dead.
  • Elyon Escanor in W.I.T.C.H. is a magnificent queen for Metamoor, even putting herself at risk just to learn how to rule her subjects better. She's the last descendant of a long line of wise queens... With her evil brother Phobos being the sketchy successor for her mother.

     Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Personality-wise, Godzilla is a Reasonable Authority Figure towards the protagonists (the Two Beings, One Body Monster X), with a classic streak of Good Is Not Soft when it comes to defending his global territory or putting a Titan who's acting out in their place.
  • A Crown of Stars: Daniel, God Emperor of Avalon, is determined to be a benevolent, just ruler and he is downright committed to improve the lives of his subjects and help whoever he meets. The story begins when he meets the main characters — Shinji and Asuka — and offers his help just because he feels it is the right thing to do.
  • Child of the Storm has a few examples:
    • Odin is strict but fair, working hard to repair much of the damage his brutal father, Bor, had done (to the other realms/Asgard's relationship to them, and Asgard's society), as well as that done by the brief reign of his despotic older brother, Cul, the God of Fear (Earth had to be effectively rebooted from a back-up afterwards). He's not always the nicest monarch or the best father, but he is a just and pragmatic ruler who brought peace to the Nine Realms and maintains it, he encourages a meritocracy, and is remarkably free of Fantastic Racism — his adopted son is an unusually short Frost Giant, his chief adviser is a relatively weedy Light Elf with a strange skin disorder, and his grandson is half-human (he's also fine with Thor marrying another human, Jane, and makes pointed comments encouraging him to pop the question).
    • King Arthur Pendragon was famously an example of this, to the point where it's strongly implied that the main reason Doctor Strange, who grew up under his rule and served as his Court Physician and Court Bard is so disdainful of authority is because he feels that no leader/ruler/monarch meets the standard that Arthur set and thus none of them deserve his respect.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fic The Stars Ascendant is about Celestia struggling with whether she has truly remained a good king in forcing Twilight to hide what was going on from her friends and trying to dissuade her student from facing a threat she was capable of defeating head-on because Celestia didn't believe in her enough.
  • In The Bridge, Godzilla Jr. may be a bit quick to the trigger if he thinks he's being attacked but has grown up to fill this role nicely for most of the Terran kaiju. While he doesn't act like he's above anyone, most neutral kaiju and the Defender faction do think of him as their leader with his allies' loyalty being earnest by selfless acts on Junior's part. Eventually the humans even christened him King of the Monsters, with his constant defense of them earning a lot of support. Cue him getting thrown into Equestria, a matriarchy where the last few kings were less than stellar, and it raises a few eyebrows. Still, he doesn't lose stride. Horde of gyaos bearing down on Canterlot? He'll take them on himself. Promising magical prodigy inspired by him having power troubles? Take her on as a pupil and guide her in a fatherly way. He still has flaws, but over time most of Equestria warms to him.
  • In Tales From the Dark Side of the Mirror, King Tirek the Selfless, who in contrast to his self centered main self is an incredibly benevolent ruler. Not only was he willing to help Equestria out whenever they needed him (though he'd had to deal with his evil brother), after the Evil Princesses were stopped and he's aided in defeating Lord Scorpan, he sends Centaurs to give Equestria a mana transfusion from his own kingdom to revitalize the country's soil and Cloud Gremlins to rebuild the pegasi cities.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: Prince Blueblood wound up as a good ruler after taking the throne following the deaths of the three Alicorn princesses (though he always claimed to be merely acting as regent for the Princesses, and thus below them, until they returned), and is known as Blueblood the Great; for all his faults during the original Bearers' lifetime, he wound up a wise and heroic ruler after their deaths.
  • In Purple Days, after countless Groundhog Day Loops, much humiliation and humility, vast amounts of empathy and knowledge, Prince Joffrey Baratheon rises to this in the Blackworks loop, with Sansa at his side as The High Queen. They make tremendous progress improving the lives of the smallfolk, from the Royal Legions that accept all and guarantee advance strictly by merit rather than blood, to the massive trading companies and countless foundries, mills, and lumberyards they establish to inject and generate cash into and from the Crownlands. They are so successful they attain 100% Adoration Rating with ease and the Undying Loyalty of their armies, to the point they can withstand the rebellions of Renly, Stannis, and the false Aegon. Only Daenerys manages to crush the realm, and even then it cost her two dragons, most of her army, and all probability of anyone in Westeros willingly joining her.
  • A Diplomatic Visit: King Leo, the easy-going merlion king of Aquastria, introduced in chapter 8 of Diplomat at Large after a previous mention in Chapter 21 of the first story.
  • A Boy, a Girl and a Dog: The Leithian Script:
    • A central theme in this The Silmarillion fanfic. The main characters often discuss the nature of kingship and the qualities required for being a good king, lord of leader.
    • During one of those discussions, Fingolfing, High King of Noldor, states a good king needs to make sacrifices for their people since without people there can't be any king.
      Fingolfin: "Nay, lads, do you not see that duty does bind lord no less than liege, that a king's task may require him to die, if that death may save the folk he rules? Or, if there is no people, how can there be any King?"
    • Poor parental skills aside, Elu Thingol is a very hands-off monarch whose authority is unquestioned because he lets his subjects do as they please, as long as they aren't harming each other.
    • Finrod is King of Nargothrond. He cares for his people and works hard to provide food and shelter for all of them.
    • Finarfin never wanted or expected to be crowned king, but he is very benevolent, he's willing to acknowledge his mistakes, and he tries to rule the Noldor with fairness and wisdom. His brother Fingolfin has admitted that his little brother was a better king than him.

     Film — Animated 
  • Barbie in The Princess and the Pauper: King Dominic is kind and understanding, and his kingdom is in such good shape that he is willing to share his wealth by marrying Princess Anneliese to save her kingdom from going bankrupt (a rather selfless act considering he probably had richer prospects with bigger dowries to choose from). At the end of the film, Dominic teams up with Julian to stop the Big Bad Preminger from finishing off his scheme to take over Anneliese's kingdom. He also doesn't think less of Erica after finding out she is actually a pauper and in fact, ends up marrying her, showing that he doesn't heed to class hierarchies.
  • Disney kings include:
    • The Lion King:
      • Mufasa, Simba's father and King of all animals. It says a lot that all of the animals show up for newborn Simba's presentation, even the ones that very well might end up being eaten by him or Simba. The kingdom flourishes when he is in charge, and when his ambitious evil brother overthrows him, the land and animals suffer badly.
      • The sequels show that Simba is following in his father's footsteps. During his reign, vegetation is lush and his pride and other animals thrive.
    • The emperor from Disney's Mulan was more concerned with protecting his people from the invading Huns than with his own safety.
    • King Richard the Lionheart (a literal lion) from Robin Hood (1973). Everything gets better once he arrives and he takes the kingdom into his paws; Prince John is imprisoned and Robin Hood gets a Happily Ever After ending with Marian.
    • King Stefan (Princess Aurora's father) from Sleeping Beauty is an affable fellow looking out for the well-being of his kingdom.
    • The Sultan in Aladdin becomes a good ruler in the end; he was always nice, but in the movie was insignificant because he had been controlled by an Evil Vizier. In the series, he develops into The Good King. He expresses, at one point, genuine surprise that there are impoverished people living in his kingdom — though his inflection indicates a compassionate concern for them.
    • King Fergus (Merida's father) from the film Brave has maintained peace among three tribes that look for an excuse to start a war.
  • The king Dymas of Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas he proves to be a good monarch, wanting his son Proteus to escape from prison as he did not believe that Sinbad would return to Syracuse. Then he accepts the prince's decision to stay in the city awaiting the arrival of the pirate. In the end Dymas apologized to Sinbad for having accused him of the theft of the Book of Peace.

     Film — Live Action 
  • In Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): After Godzilla defeats Ghidorah and reclaims his position as king, he's indicated to now be actively directing the other Titans to act in ways beneficial to the world and human civilization, such as repairing environmental damage, while prohibiting them from attacking any human populations. Notably the humans come to view him as their savior as well.
  • In the Name of the King gives us King Konreid, who appears to be a fair and just ruler, who knows much about his subjects, even things that people don't expect a king to know (e.g. how some farmers are using seaweed to fertilize their fields and harvest two crops a year). He's at the end of his life, though, which was full of many tragedies and conflicts, including the loss of his wife and son many years before. His sole heir is his nephew Duke Fallow, an incompetent jerk, who just wants the perks that come with royalty without the responsibility. When the Krug invade his kingdom, Konreid personally leads his forces into battle. When a group of farmers complain about their unprotected village being raided, Konreid stops his general from punishing them, pointing out that they have a right to express their displeasure.
    King Konreid: Wisdom is our hammer. Prudence will be our nail. When men build lives from honest toil-courage never fails.
  • The king from Jack the Giant Slayer is a decent guy. Aside from one serious blind spot — having an Evil Chancellor early in the story — he's a good leader who handles himself well, deals with his subjects fairly, and isn't above hard labor right alongside the common soldiers when necessary. He also shows remarkable restraint when dealing with Jack, refraining from trying to intimidate him once it's clear there's some chemistry between him and the Princess. He insists on fighting alongside the guards when the Giants attack and gives Elmont a "Hell no!" when asked to leave.
  • The King's Speech contrasts Albert Windsor with his partying, Nazi-sympathizing brother Edward VIII. He tries to get Edward to take his royal responsibilities seriously, knowing that if Edward fails it's going to be him who gets the crown. Edward does abdicate to marry his twice-divorced lover, and Bertie becomes George VI just in time to lead his people through World War II.
  • Kull the Conqueror: Kull, upon becoming king, immediately releases several slaves in the palace and tries to abolish slavery completely but is told he can't because the kingdom's ancient law allows it. Further, he refuses to have sex with Zareta before he's sure she's willing, as she had been the former king's sex slave and accustomed to serving that way. He also frees a priest persecuted for heresy and establishes religious tolerance, saying that people can worship whatever gods they want. All this is before Kull faces down the main villain. After he defeats her, Kull abolishes slavery anyway, ancient law be damned.
  • In Warcraft (2016), king Llane is ultimately a just and kind ruler, deciding to negotiate with orcs before going to an all-out war with them, promising Garona that he won't threaten her and giving her freedom, and ultimately performing a Heroic Sacrifice so that humans and orcs may have a chance at peace.

  • 1066 and All That classifies English monarchs as Good Kings or Bad Kings. The first Good King was either King Alfred or Good King Wenceslas; "it is not known, however, what King Wenceslas was King of."
  • Adventure Hunters: Because he shares the narrative, the reader can see that King Reyvas truly cares about his people and is simply driven to extreme measures to provide for them, thus making him a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
  • The Adventures of Strong Vanya: By all indications, the old blind Tsar is popular and well-beloved. He follows the kingdom's laws, even those ones which he does not like, and is willing to pass over his crown to someone trustworthy. When Vanya questions a farmer's son's ability to rule a kingdom, the old Tsar assures him that a good ruler needs a good heart rather than blue blood.
  • The Apprentice Rogue: Artamos feels horrible about giving into his feelings for Leona because his king is such a benevolent and trusting guy.
  • Babar, the famous king of the elephants, is known for being a noble, wise, and hardworking Honorable Elephant who always rules with the interests of his subjects in mind.
  • Eon in Belisarius Series.
    • Later Kungas too, though Kungas was a bit more grim and ruthless than Eon. Rao as well by being married to Shakuntala.
  • Beowulf, speaking of King Scyld of the Danes, just comes out and says "he was a good king." Or, more accurately, "Þæt wæs gōd cyning," "That was [a] good king." Seamus Heaney's more literal translation has it as "That was one good king," which loses something.
  • A few in The Bible: Melchizedek of Salem, David (barring his Uriah Gambit) and Solomon of unified Israel (until his downfall by 700 wives and 300 concubines and worshiping false gods), Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah (does reforms, and defending Jerusalem from Assyrians would count) and Josiah of Judah (does Religious reforms, and cleansing his whole kingdom and instituted Passover), Jehu of Israel (when purging the House of Ahab may be counted) and Cyrus of Persia (where he is noted for returning the Jews to their homeland). The ascended Jesus is the ultimate example.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia:
    • Brothers Peter and Edmund become Good Kings after the events of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, with their sisters Susan and Lucy becoming High Queens. However, this is mostly an Informed Ability, as we barely see any of their reign.
    • Caspian tries hard to be the Good King. He mostly succeeds, but has several brief moments of weakness during The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Again, Aslan seems to consider humility an important part of being a good king: when he crowns Caspian, he says that if he'd felt that he was ready for the role, it would have been proof that he was not.
    • King Lune lectures Cor on how all the privileges of a King are paid for by being first in battle and last in retreat, and carrying the burdens of an entire country on one's shoulders make being a ruler somewhat a case of being Blessed with Suck. He also shows himself to be both compassionate (showing mercy and cordiality to Rabadash) and a strong leader, fighting at the front when Calormene invades Archenland.
    • King Frank worries about his lack of education, but is assured by no less than Aslan himself that his practical knowledge, humility and willingness to lead by example mean he "will have done all that a king should do".
    • King Tirian, who is A Father to His Men, leads from the front, is compassionate towards Jill in the midst of battle, and never gives up on Narnia, also counts. Aslan Himself praises Tirian for his good leadership.
    • In general, pretty much everyone who's ruled Narnia or Archenland is The Good King or Queen, other than the White Witch and the Telmarines.
  • In The Chronicles of Prydain, the land of Prydain is blessed with a number of Good Kings, both The High King who rules the whole country and the less powerful kings of the caers which comprise it. These include Math son of Mathonwy and his heir, Gwydion; King Smoit of Cadiffor; King Rhuddlum of Mona (and later his son, King Rhun); and eventually Taran, the series protagonist, who is proclaimed High King at the very end.
  • Codex Alera:
    • Gaius Sextus, despite all his machinations and plotting that causes infighting between some political factions, deeply cares about his people. He lacks many of the classist, racist, and misogynistic tendencies that other nobles have. He will Shoot the Dog but do so with reluctance and hatred for the man who places him in that spot. In the second book, he collapses from exhaustion when trying to defend another coastal city from a powerful hurricane by attacking it without anyone knowing he is trying to help. Come Princeps' Fury when the old man is dealing with a serious issue beyond anything the country has faced, he enters this conversation with a woman who holds no love for the man.
      Isana stared at Gaius for a moment. Then she said, "How can you live with yourself?"
      The First Lord stared at her for a moment, his eyes cold. Then he spoke in a very quiet, precise, measured voice. "I look out my window each day. I look out my window at people who live and breathe. At people who have not been devoured by civil war. At people who have not been ravaged by disease. At people who have not starved to death, who have not been hacked apart by enemies of humanity, at people who are free to lie and steal and plot and complain and accuse and behave in all manner of repugnant ways because the Realm stands. Because law and order stands. Because something other than simple violence shapes the course of their lives. And I look ... at the very few who have had the luxury of living their lives without being called upon to make hideous decisions I would not wish upon my worst enemies, and who consequently find such matters morally appalling when they consider them — because they have not had to be the ones that dealt with them." He took a short, hard swallow of wine. "Feh. Aquitaine thinks me his enemy. The fool. If I truly hated him, I'd give him the Crown."
    • The successor Gaius Octavian aka Tavi is just into the first months of his official rule at the end of the series. Right away, he has issued reforms and declarations that even Gaius Sextus was slow to move on for political reasons. He has brought the three surviving great enemies of Alera in as allies and states within his country, giving each one equal standing as any human citizen. He has abolished slavery and given equal rights to women. He led the armies of a unified human and Wolf-man force to kill the last Queen of the Vord on their soil, dealing the deathblow personally, given a measure of forgiveness to a man who betrayed his grandfather and led to the deaths of many people. His last act in the book with the help of a dying Genius Loci, is to enable all races, not just humans, access to fury-magic and it be learned rather than inherited by bloodlines.
  • When Conan the Barbarian becomes the king of Aquilonia after killing the last one he becomes one of these. He institutes religious freedom, lowers taxes, and punishes nobles who mistreat commoners. Whenever Aquilonia goes to war, Conan personally leads his troops into battle rather than having one of his generals do it. True to his barbarian upbringing he is also modest, preferring simple garments (though made of fine fabric) to ornate and garish clothing. Despite some hiccups early in his reign, his people and his armies love and aspire to be loyal to him (rallying to him without delay when he shows up despite seemingly being dead not long before), and one religious sect aids him when he is disposed of in The Hour of the Dragon while stating that he will always be their king for what he did for them.
  • Deltora Quest: Lief grows into this after the first seven books reveal he's the heir to the throne.
    • Adin, the first King of Deltora, is also depicted this way (albeit with minimal detail).
  • Some Haldane kings in the Deryni works are portrayed or described as this, notably Kelson. Brion's reign is to be more fully depicted in the upcoming prequel, but he appears in descriptions and flashbacks as this.
  • Carrot of Discworld is an interesting version of this trope. He’s the lost-long heir to the Throne of Ankh-Morpork and an embodiment of all the fantastic kingly tropes. While everyone knows or suspects that he’s the rightful king, he doesn't want the job — he's content with being a watchman and he doesn't like that people tend to obey him because he's charismatic rather than because it's the right thing to do. Accordingly, he and Vetinari have an Understanding: Vetinari rules wisely, and so long as he does, Carrot keeps his head down (including destroying any evidence of his heritage), in return for the chance to occasionally make "suggestions". Since these are more or less exclusively for the good of the city (which both are devoted to), Vetinari doesn't mind.
    • King Verence II of Lancre is a benevolent and hard-working ruler who, unlike most of his predecessors, takes his job quite seriously. Although well enough regarded by his subjects (albeit with a form of fond condescension), Verence's attempts at modernizing his rustic backwater of a mountain kingdom go almost entirely unappreciated by the people of Lancre, who are unsophisticated but practical rural folk who are more concerned about getting up at 5:00 in the morning to milk the cows than attending parliament. He may not be the most confident ruler, or even successful, since his subjects don't really care about what he's doing for them, but gods know he's trying his best and people do appreciate that much about him.
    • The current Low King of the Dwarfs, Rhys Rhysson, and Mr. Shine, the Diamond King of the Trolls. The two of whom work together to finally bring peace between their two peoples after centuries of enmity. Of course, with Rhys, Good Is Not Nice definitely applies — the position of Low King is an elected one, and dwarf politics can get very nasty. As Cheery puts it, any dwarf up for the Low Kingship is not going to be the sort who's spent their time caring for wounded animals and singing hi-ho all the time.
    • In Feet of Clay, the golems create another golem with the intent of making him a Good King. He didn't exactly turn out the way they hoped.
  • The Divine Comedy:
    • Solomon is said by Thomas Aquinas to be the wisest king in all creation, by virtue of asking God for wisdom in acting out his kingly duties rather than more frivolous academic knowledge.
    • Those who truly ruled justly are rewarded on Jupiter, the sixth sphere of Heaven, where the rulers are so in tune with the other's needs that they move their souls to spell out praises of justice and form a giant eagle that speaks for all of them in one voice. Dante only individually talks to the kings who form one of the Eagle's eye, including King David, Emperor Constantine, and two pagans who were loyal to God despite that being lost to history and to Dante.
  • In Eddie LaCrosse novel The Sword-Edged Blond], King Phillip of Arentia (Phil, to the protagonist) is the popular ruler of a prosperous, peaceful kingdom (which contrasts with much of the rest of the world). This is relevant in determining the villain's motive.
    Eddie: Somewhere out there, you've got one hell of an enemy.
    King Phil: Who? Arentia hasn't been at war for nearly fifty years. The crime rate's lower than it has ever been. We don't even have a death penalty anymore. And I don't mean to sound egomaniacal, but everybody seems pretty happy with the job I've been doing.
  • In The Goblin Emperor Maia aspires to be this, though he is technically an emperor. His habit to care even about those of his subjects who should be beneath his notice causes some confusion. And then there is the pseudo-communist terrorist who approves of his politics. Maia finds the terrorist's methods distasteful, but has to admit that he will improve working conditions in the factories because that's just who he is.
  • In Guns of the Dawn, King Luthrian IV of Lascanne is widely adored by his subjects, and his call to arms against invading republican revolutionaries from Denland is well supported. It doesn't hurt that he also has a good amount of Prince Charming about him, being young, handsome, unmarried, and a good dancer — as the protagonist personally discovers. In the end, it turns out that the war which he portrays as a heroic defence was actually the result of his own failed attempt to annex Denland by assassinating its king. He shows no remorse for the countless deaths his scheme caused, even after Denland has won and he's a fugitive. In fact, he has the gall to expect the protagonist to help raise rebellion in his name — instead, she shoots him.
  • The aptly-named King Håkon the Good of Norway, as described in Heimskringla. He is mild, just, and generous, but also an excellent warleader who heads his troops in battle and mercilessly crushes Danish sea-raiders. He is so universally admired that, when he is killed in battle by his nephews the sons of Erik Bloodaxe, even they agree that he is the best king that Norway ever had or will have.
  • Household Gods: Marcus Aurelius is portrayed as a compassionate, generous, and reasonable man, who will deliberately refrain from indulgences while treating even a common citizen like Umma/Nicole respectfully as he's an ardent Stoic. Truth in Television: the real man was famous for his integrity, being called the "last of the good Emperors".
  • In King Crow, King Cormac is peaceful and kind. The neighboring king, Bregant, is anything but.
  • Left Behind: Jesus Christ, when He restores the world after it has been devastated in the Tribulation.
  • In Legends of Dune novel from the The Great Schools of Dune trilogy, Roderick Corrino is much more competent and honorable than his older brother Salvador. In fact, many people would much rather Roderick having been born first. Alas, it was the incompetent Salvador who became Emperor after the death of their father Jules Corrino. After Salvador's death, however, Roderick, who has never wanted the job, is crowned Emperor. He immediately sets out to restructure the military and the Imperial court, getting rid of career officers in favor of those, who are actually competent, and insists that the nobles get their hands dirty in the service of the people, much to their grumbling. Unlike his brother, Roderick also makes sure that his wife Haditha is heavily involved in the day-to-day running of the Imperium. He also ends up ending the threat to the Imperium posed by the two extremes: the Butlerian anti-technology fanatics, led by Manford Torondo, and the progressively-minded Directeur Josef Venport of Venport Holdings, a Corrupt Corporate Executive with no moral qualms. At the end, he works out a deal with Norma Cenva to create the politically independent Spacing Guild to provide safe foldspace travel to all the worlds of the Imperium in exchange for the constant supply of spice to her Navigators. This is such a momentous event in human history that a new calendar is established to mark it.
  • The Appendices for The Lord of the Rings says that Aragorn and Éomer became this for Gondor and Rohan respectively, after the One Ring is destroyed and the Age of Men began.
    • Théoden, before falling under Saruman's spell, was very much a Good King. Once he recovers, he leads his people to Helm's Deep to protect them from Saruman's army.
    • King Bard of Dale is also described as being a good King, rebuilding Dale, and being in good relations with the Dwarves of Erebor as they re-established their Kingdom.
    • In "The Silmarillion" there is Finwë, who leads the Noldor Elves to Valinor. Most of the Kings of the Noldor serve as this, though Finwë's oldest son Feanor is certainly not.
    • Elros Half-Elven, the First King of Númenor, seems portrayed as a very good King. After ruling for 410 years he willingly gave up his life. This counts for most of the Kings of Númenor... except towards the end, whereupon they started verging on The Emperor.
    • The Elven Lord Celeborn of Lothlórien (despite not actually being King, at his own decision) definitely also fits the trope. He and his wife Lady Galadriel as a Ruling Couple have made Lothlórien a peaceful, safe, and prosperous place to live for the local wood-elves for millennia. He also leads his people into battle against armies of Orcs numerous times, most notably when he and Galadriel capture Dol Guldur and destroy the source of its corruption after the War of the Ring.
  • In The Lost Prince, the kings of the old royal house are remembered in legend as being Good Kings for the most part. When the Rightful King Returns at the end of the novel, there's every sign that he's going to be a Good King himself.
  • The Marvellous Land of Snergs:
    • Merse II is constantly throwing parties for his subjects. When Joe and Sylvia go missing for the second time, he undertakes their search in person.
    • On the eve of his birthdays, King Kiul walks through Banrive's streets to talk to the common people and pat children's heads affectionately. It is said his kingdom has thrived during his rule.
  • In The Princess and the Goblin and its sequel, The Princess and Curdie, the King (Irene's father) is described as the wisest man in the kingdom, and we are told that "he was a real king — that is, one who ruled for the good of his people and not to please himself."
  • Duncan of Ranger's Apprentice is very much this trope. He is wise, fair, and even willing to look the other way (to a certain extent) when Halt pulls one of his shenanigans. He's also shown to be a good man in general, and a Master Swordsman who leads his armies into battle. However, when it comes to a To Be Lawful or Good decision, he'll always choose Lawful, as he believes that With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.
  • Gaborn in the first part of The Runelords constantly ponders morality and questions himself in a desperate attempt to be one, struggling against the limits of his role as Earth King and with the necessary evil of endowments when pitted against foes who are much more ruthless and rapacious than him. His and Iome's fathers aren't perfect but they live up to it in the end as well. Raj Ahten started down his path to evil with similar good intentions, though tainted by pride.
  • RWBY: Fairy Tales of Remnant: In "The Indecisive King", the king is renowned far and wide for being a wise, kind and generous man. People come to him from all over the land to ask for his help in solving their problems. He doesn't turn anyone away. When he receives the grieving widow, who has lost everything, he even lets her stay in the castle for as long as she needs to get back on her feet. When he is given a mystical crown that shows him an insolvable problem, it shatters him. He becomes obsessive, surly and begins making bad decisions until the widow steps in to guide him back to who he used to be. By the time they eventually marry, he is once more regarded as wise and kind, but she becomes renowned for being an even wiser queen.
  • Safehold has King Haarahld of Charis, and later, his son King (and later Emperor} Cayleb.
  • In The Saxon Stories, Uhtred assesses King Alfred as such, even though he disliked him on a personal level.
    "He saw his life as a duty to his god and to the people of Wessex and I have never seen a better king, and I doubt my sons, grandsons and their children’s children will ever see a better one. I never liked him, but I have never stopped admiring him."
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, this trope and its general implication, i.e., a good king is also a good man, is frequently examined and re-examined. It becomes clear that being able to rule doesn't necessarily correlate with being nice, decent, and kind.
    • In general various characters fulfill certain archetypes of good Kingly behaviour. The Conqueror and Young Conqueror (Aegon I, Daeron I, Robert Baratheon, Robb Stark, Daenerys), The Charmer or Charm Person (Renly, Robert, Viserys I), and the Rebel Leader (Robert Baratheon, Robb Stark, Stannis, Daenerys I). In most cases it becomes clear that the conventional image people have of these characters are just that, images. Renly gives this image but comes across in private as a sleazy treacherous character and is happy to starve hundreds of thousands of people and kill his older brother so he can usurp the throne, this demonstrates his flaws. His elder brother Robert Baratheon, whilst being generous and kingly in image is actually someone who uses the office for the pursuit of wine, women, and song and is far suited to battle than peacetime. Likewise, Stannis Baratheon is painted as an Evil Overlord and potential tyrant, but his "tyranny" amounts to clearing out corruption, building a more centralized Kingdom, and meritocracy. He also fulfills the Equal-Opportunity Evil trope in fantasy by welcoming Wildlings and other outsiders into his Kingdom as equal subjects. Also many of the people who criticize Stannis and oppose him (Littlefinger, the Tyrells, Renly, the Lannisters, Varys) are shown to be very corrupt and self-serving. Robb Stark and Dany, both being Young Conquerors, have a hard time bluffing away their genuine inexperience and spend a lot of time trying to hide the fact that they are both in over their heads. No matter which persuasion they are, all of them have blood on their hands, have executed people, and fought wars that have hurt innocents.
    • In the backstory, among the Posthumous Characters who have sat on the Iron Throne, those remembered as good are Aegon I, Jaehaerys I, and Baelor the Blessed. Aegon I and Jaehaerys I are both remembered as the greatest Targaryen kings; one established the dynasty and its basic institutions, the other consolidated it and presided over a Golden Age by a series of diplomatic masterstrokes: he put the Faith on a leash, got rid of the right of First Night, brokered a truce between Feuding Families, built roads, won a war without losing a single man, and developed a proper sewage system. Baelor the Blessed is considered a good king because of his religious piety which made him popular among the people, while the more educated nobility remember and regret his political mistakes and his propensity for Book Burning; he was not a bad king, but he did make some bad decisions (to the point that Tyrion calls him Baelor the Befuddled) and is mostly remembered fondly because he was highly religious. Aegon V, Aegon the Unlikely, was remembered quite fondly as well, mostly thanks to the influence of his boyhood protector Ser Duncan and his attempts to provide rights to the smallfolk, but this, coupled with the actions of his children, made him unpopular with the nobility and on his death, his reforms were undone by the Hand of the King Tywin Lannister who became popular among the same nobility, but disliked by the smallfolk.
    • The ultimate definition of a good king comes from the Working-Class Hero Davos Seaworth (who was raised to nobility by Stannis): "There is much I do not understand, I have never pretended elsewise. I know the seas and rivers, the shapes of the coast, where the rocks and shoals lie. I know hidden coves where a boat can land unseen and I know a king protects his people or he is no king at all." Stannis comes round to this way of thinking eventually.
    • Historically there have been other examples. Garth VII "Goldenhand" Gardener is known as this in the Reach. He defeated many of the Reach's enemies, ruled for 81 years, and brought three-quarters of a century of peace to the Reach, under which it truly flourished.
  • The ancient king Nohadon mentioned throughout the Stormlight Archive series, particularly in The Way of Kings (2010) was a key figure in helping humankind on Roshar survive a disaster that caused its near-extinction, as well as later in life during peaceful times disguised himself as a commoner and travelled alone from one end of the continent to the other on-foot with little-to-no belongings, and documented his experiences as well as lessons learned in his book-within-a-book also titled The Way Of Kings. This book was an integral part in Dalinar Kholin's reformation from a Blood Knight and tyrant into arguably the only decent ruler (or man) among his peers, years before the first book in the Stormlight series takes place.
  • Unlike just about everyone else in The Thebaid, King Theseus is a good guy. Despite having just returned from a tiring campaign, he welcomes refugees into his kingdom and leads the armies of Athens to force Creon to allow the widows of Argos to give proper Due to the Dead.
  • The Tortall Universe's Jonathan of Conté wanted to be this since the beginning; at the end of the first book, he says that his usurping cousin has done the kingdom a favor by sending him into danger because people will think twice before they take on a prince — or a king — who can defeat demons. As a grown man, he works toward reforming his country's laws to prevent abuse of power by his nobles. While he's a fairly good king, he's not necessarily a nice person, who can often be stuck-up, arrogant, and commanding even to his closest friends. Lady Knight Keladry of Mindelan in particular is very critical of him. In response, he tells her about The Chains Of Command.
  • The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: Good kings are down to earth types, who can be discerned by the fact they don't hoard wealth or abide by elaborate ceremonies and have a plain-spoken manner.
  • Trapped on Draconica: King Alister of Britannia to contrast the Evil Overlord Gothon. His goodness is more indirect than others on this list: he has four superpowered daughters, and three of them decided to become superheroes due to their upbringing. The fourth wanted to be a superhero to earn his affection and attention, but only caused trouble and so she fell to evil.
  • Victoria has Czar Alexander, who is such an unusual variation as a Good Emperor (though also a king — that is what "czar" means, after all, and he fits this type far closer than that of a regular The Emperor). He is a military leader, but also a ruler who cares about his people, and has (for example) made cleaning up environmental damage from the old Soviet Union a major priority for his government.
  • After some unfortunate missteps in his youth, Emperor Gregor of Barrayar in the Vorkosigan Saga qualifies, being intelligent, conscientious, and completely committed to using his power to build a fairer and more peaceful society on a collection of frequently war-torn planets. He also has the "soft-spoken" part down-pat, although Gregor never raises his voice — when he gets angry, it very much manifests as Tranquil Fury.
  • Firestar, the main character in the first series of Warrior Cats, becomes this after becoming leader of ThunderClan. He comes to be regarded as one of the greatest leaders who ever lived and gives up his ninth life to save the Clans.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5 offers a few examples among the Centauri emperors:
    • Turhan (first emperor to be seen during the series), near the end of his life, wanted to formally apologize to the Narn and their government for what the Centauri did to the Narn people and homeworld during their occupation. The first step towards healing both races and true peace was one that his health ultimately prevented him from taking, before being replaced by the insane Cartagia as Emperor.
    • After rising to the throne Londo would have wanted to be one, but the Drakh had put a Keeper on him to use him to turn the Centauri Republic into a puppet state and build up the military to fight against the ISA. Londo being Londo, he manages to turn it against the Drakh.
    • The novels reveal that Vir eventually becomes one after Londo's death, starting with putting Londo's master plan in action and freeing the Centauri from Drakh control.
    • Mentioned in the novels, Emperor Kran, who was in charge at the time of the Earth-Centauri first contact. Inheriting a nation divided and on the verge of a civil war from his weak-willed predecessor, he reunited the Centauri Republic through sheer charisma and genius and was planning to initiate reforms to better the conditions of the poorer Centauri, even touring the poorer areas of the homeworld with the nobles in tow to show them the need for the reforms. Sadly, he was killed by a commoner during one of such tours before he could even start.
    • The expanded universe give a few more examples:
      • Kran's unnamed successor. We don't know much, except that when the Centauri Great Houses brought the Republic on the verge of a war with Earth with their politicking and privateer raids on Earth merchant ship he clamped down on the Houses and eliminated the causes for the whole crisis and the raids before apologizing to Earth Alliance. That was after EarthForce had attacked and destroyed a Centauri naval base for giving sanctuary to privateers one time too many.
      • Rafani, ruling at the end of the 20th century and the first years of the 21st, most notable for trying to end the cold war with the Orieni Imperium-and, when the Orieni were caught red-handed in supporting Drazi raiders operating on the fringe, reuniting (most of) the divided Centauri Houses to fight the enemy. It says a lot that the Centauri-Orieni War doesn't get really ugly and the rebellious House Syma doesn't try a coup until after he dies in a shuttle accident and that the Drakh may have organized the shuttle accident just to get rid of him.
  • In Chinese Paladin, the King of Nanzhao fulfills the criteria of being a genuinely honorable, honest, decent man, Happily Married to The High Queen...except that he ends up sentencing her to death at the Evil Chancellor's instigation to appease the rioting masses, and nearly causes his young daughter's death as well. He is able to reconcile with his daughter, but she and the other heroes are forced to work around, rather than with him, during the end battle.
  • The Crown (2016) starts during the final years of George VI's life and reign. Having helped bring England through World War II, he's universally beloved. He also takes his responsibilities and the limits on his power very seriously, advising his daughter Elizabeth on how to deal with prime ministers and paperwork. When he dies of cancer, the whole country goes into mourning.
  • Deus Salve O Rei: King Augusto of Artena is a benevolent and kind ruler that not only looks after his kingdom's well-being but also that of his allied realm of Montemor. He provides water in exchange for resources and never exploits them more than he requires (it helps he is friends with Montemor's royal family).
  • Doctor Who has the Draconian Emperor during 2540 in Frontier in Space. He is a Reasonable Authority Figure who doesn't favour war with Earth after one 20 years ago. The 15th Emperor of Draconia seems to have been this as well, when the Doctor saved Draconia from The Plague he was made a nobleman.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Cersei notes to Margaery Tyrell, upon Tommen's coronation in Season 4's "First of His Name," that Tommen has the potential to be the first of these in fifty years. Joffrey was king for about three years, and Robert for about 17 (in the TV timeline). The Mad King ruled for over 20 years. She doesn't mention Aegon V by name, but she was apparently referring to him (Aegon V ruled for over 25 years, so there's no way she's talking about his father Maekar). Judging by Tommen's ideals of monarchy (holiness, justice, strength, and wisdom), she could well be right. Sadly now we know he won't. His lack of experience prevents him from being effective in any of these areas. Tywin wastes no time convincing Tommen that true wisdom is recognizing when others know things you do not, which allows pretty much anyone to manipulate them. When the Faith Militant rises up again and imprisons Loras, Tommen is too indecisive and fearful to really take action against them. Then Margaery gets taken away as well and Tommen doesn't do anything. Then he further allows the Faith Militant to basically take over the crown and constantly change the laws of the Kingdom. While Joffrey was a terrible king because he subjected the kingdom to his cruel whims without concern for the consequences, Tommen is so indecisive that the kingdom is instead subject to the whims of everyone but himself. Ultimately, he throws himself out a window when Cersei finally moves against her enemies, that being quite literally the only power he possesses at that point.
    • Ned excels at two things: battle and administration. He is so loved by his bannermen and the smallfolk that his death at the hands of Southern rulers motivates them to never again submit to the Iron Throne and wage a civil war to avenge him.
    • Robb Stark aspires to this and embodies some aspects of the trope.
      Talisa: What kind of king do you want to be?
      Robb: I dunno [Beat] the good kind.
    • Tywin presents King Baelor Targaryen as a test case on how Baelor fit the picture of a Good King but actually was not a technically good ruler. On the other hand, Oberyn Martell, in the Histories and Lore, seems to like him for his attempts to bring peace to Dorne and arrange a marriage contract between the Targaryens and the Martells.
    • Ultimately, in the season finale, Bran is crowned King of the Six Kingdoms, becoming King Bran the Broken. An auspicious choice for many reasons: Bran never wanted to be king and never sought power, he can use his powers as the Three-Eyed Raven to help guide the realm, and he is the first king of Westeros to be elected by a council, a trend which will hopefully continue as the series has demonstrated the most fatal flaw of absolute monarchy many times. Meanwhile, the North becomes an independent realm and Sansa becomes the Queen of the North.
  • As of Season 4 of Merlin, Arthur is this — though he still makes plenty of mistakes along the way.
  • In Stargate SG-1, Harry Maybourne, after seasons of being an annoying Smug Snake, eventually settles down on a primitive planet and gains kingship among the people by translating Ancient writings that told the future. Though he was manipulating the people of the planet for his own gain, he was still a good king that helped the people with his modern knowledge in various ways (such as introducing a legal code, irrigation, and crop rotation). Even after revealing that he was merely translating prophecies and intending to step down as king because of it, the people were still loyal to him and wanted him as their king.
  • Star Trek: to the Klingons, Kahless is seen as a combination of this and the Messianic Archetype. He was the first person to unite the Klingon people into the Klingon Empire and gave them the laws and the honor codes that make them Proud Warrior Race Guys.
    • Interestingly, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country presented Chancellor Gorkon as this. Intentionally modeled both in appearance and manner on Abraham Lincoln, he was presented as intelligent, wise, cultured, and, astoundingly for this franchise, more forward-thinking than the main characters.

  • Implied to be the case with King Cole from the classic nursery rhyme. While we don't get much information about him, he is implied to have been a kind ruler and a Cool Old Guy, being described as a "merry old soul".

    Myths & Religion 
  • In The Bible King David and his son, Solomon, were two benevolent kings of Israel. While they certainly had flaws they were both ultimately good people.
  • While not the original, King Arthur is the Trope Codifier and adaptations featuring him usually portray him as this, although there is no evidence before the 11th century explicitly naming him as a king as opposed to a military leader.
    • Many of the tales also describe Uther as a good, much-beloved king as well... minus his Fatal Flaw of Lust.
  • Richard the Lionheart is usually considered the Big Good in various Robin Hood adaptations, particularly in contrast to his brother John. This is most definitely myth.
  • While he was also a dick, the titular character in The Epic of Gilgamesh became this to his people after meeting Enkidu (though he still bragged a lot).
  • The legend behind the children's song: "Good king Wenceslas looked out, on the feast of Stephen..." Technically, he was a Prince (as in ruler of the land), not a King. He was also a real historical figure.
  • Classical Mythology:
    • In the instances where heroes survive, they are generally seen as benevolent kings. Theseus is the best example, but also Cecrops, Minos, and Aeson (though Minos became kind of an asshole when the Minotaur came onto the scene).
    • After Persephone did some renovating, the Underworld was given three judges consisting of three kings who were this in life — Rhadamanthys (the judge of the men of Asia and Lord of Elysium), Aeacus (the judge of the men of Europe and keeper of the keys to the Underworld) and Minos (the judge who casts the final, deciding vote).
    • Unlike just about everyone else in ‘’The Thebaid’’, King Theseus is a good guy. Despite having just returned from a tiring campaign, he welcomes refugees into his kingdom and leads the armies of Athens to force Creon to allow the widows of Argos to give proper Due to the Dead
  • In The Book of Mormon, we have a few examples:
    • King Benjamin from the Book of Mosiah, shown to be very much loved by his people in the time before his death. His son, Mosiah, followed in his footsteps, but when none of his sons wanted the kingdom, they established judges throughout the land instead. Briefly mentioned is Benjamin's father, also named Mosiah, who the people chose as their king.
    • Zeniff, who left in the days of Benjamin to repossess land previously owned by the Nephites, was also a righteous king. He was granted the land diplomatically by King Laman, and when Laman tried to double-cross him, his people fought only in defense. Sadly, his son Noah was not remotely good, to the point where Mosiah references him as a reason to abolish kings and appoint judges instead.

  • Pippin tries to become this after usurping his father by distributing money to the poor, giving land to the peasants, abolishing taxes, and dismantling the army. When an enemy invades his kingdom, he's forced to suspend all his reforms and is dubbed "King Pippin the Unpopular" for his trouble.
  • Appears less frequently than you might think in William Shakespeare's works:
    • Duncan in Macbeth, as well as the offstage Edward the Confessor.
    • Henry V (arguably; he conducts himself admirably during the war, but his reasons for starting it are questionable). The plot of the previous two plays (Henry IV I and II) was largely about the question of whether Hal would fulfill this trope.
    • The title character in Pericles, Prince of Tyre, before having a mental breakdown when he learns of his daughter's death (but he gets better since she's not dead).
    • In Hamlet, it's mentioned by several characters that Hamlet's late father was this. In the end, it seemed some subjects thought Hamlet himself would become this, though the truth of this is highly debatable.
    • Don Pedro, the Prince of Aragon and therefore highest royalty in Much Ado About Nothing, does a lot to sort out the various romantic misunderstandings pushed by his brother Don John.

    Tabletop Game 
  • With how much Grey-and-Gray Morality shows up in BattleTech, identifying a 'good' leader among the Inner Sphere Great Houses or Clans can be tricky. However, even with that said, Adam Steiner is recognized as one of the greatest Archons of the Lyran Commonwealth for a variety of reasons: he did not ascend to the throne by force, assigns positions based on competence and merit, despises nepotism and the idea of Armchair Military "Social Generals" in the service, and tempered his passionate nature with deep reflection and careful thoughtfulness. Because of his plain-speaking and transparent manner, he was beloved by his people and his reign saw a period of relative peace and prosperity for almost 50 years despite shadowy internal conspiracies and attacks by adventurous Clans, successfully fending off both threats. Adam proved to be one of the most popular Archons ever and remained deeply respected by both Inner Sphere and Clan factions.
  • Warhammer has the current Emperor of the Empire Karl Franz, Karl is a reasonable ruler of the Empire, and has maintained order and stability at a level which few previous Emperors were able to achieve. He's also a real Badass who'll smash your skull if you threaten his Empire.

    Video Games 
  • King Alteon of Swordhaven in the Artix Entertainment games, but especially AdventureQuest Worlds.
  • Dark Souls
    • The Burnt Ivory King in Dark Souls II stands out as the only truly benevolent ruler in the game, which especially stands out since one of the themes of the game is "What makes a good king?" The Burnt Ivory King set up his kingdom around an ancient evil to contain it, then put his throne at the very threshold of that evil just so he could be the first line of defense. He took a creature of darkness as his bride and loved her so genuinly that she was redeemed and abandoned her purpose of brining ruin. When his strength finally faded from age, he cast himself into Chaos to stave it of one last time. Compared to the cruel and hedonistic Iron King, the foolishly fanatic Sunken King, the paranoid king of Olaphis, and well-meaning but short-sighted Vendrick, the Burnt Ivory King stands out as an example of a true monarch.
    • Dark Souls III: For a guy who ruled over a city called "The Profaned Capital", Yhorm the Giant is suggested to have been a benevolent and much-loved ruler in his day. While his family had, in times past, brutally conquered various nations, when he came to the throne, his country was facing dire threats from outside, and the people petitioned him to protect them. Yhorm did so, personally fighting on the front lines to defend his people, keeping the kingdom safe by his own hand. When things calmed down, he assured his people of his devotion by giving them a weapon to which he has a fatal weakness, so that if he ever failed in his duty, they would have the means to wrest him from his throne.
  • Disgaea: Hour of Darkness has King Krichevskoy, ruler of The Netherworld. All of his vassals speak fondly of him long after his passing, Etna holds him in extremely high regard after he had saved her life and took her in, and the Krichevskoy Group sees Laharl as an Inadequate Inheritor of his father's position. He even fulfilled the Heroic Sacrifice part of this trope by sealing away Tyrant Overlord Baal at the cost of his life.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Dragon Age: Origins:
      • King Maric, who died before the events of Dragon Age: Origins, is said to have been a Good King. He was also one of the leaders of La Résistance during the Orlesian Occupation. His son, King Cailan, is a lesser example as from all indications, he was indeed a brave and reasonably good ruler, who unfortunately let his own need for glory cause him to relegate much of the actual ruling to his wife and her father. And as it turns out, he ended up being horribly wrong about being a Warrior Prince after all!
      • Alistair, despite his strong reservations, may become this if the player makes the right decisions during the game.
      • Bhelen Aeducan will become this if you choose him as King of Orzammar. In his rule, he'll abolish the caste system and give the casteless basic civil rights, even allowing them to become soldiers, which gives him the manpower enough to put the war against the darkspawn in, for the first time ever, Orzammar's favor. But he'll also become a ruthless king, mercilessly assassinating and executing his political rivals.
    • In Dragon Age II, Viscount Dumar is one of a few people who actively tries to prevent war with the Qunari in the city, but unfortunately his unwillingness to upset the nobles lead him to be less than successful at this and eventually leads to his death.
      • During Act 3, many nobles seem to believe Hawke would be one of these, and if Hawke supports the Templars at the end, they actually do end up begging him/her to take the throne. Hawke only rules for a short time, however.
      • If the Exiled Prince DLC is installed, Hawke's companion Sebastian is conflicted about this. He's the only surviving member of the recently-murdered royal family of Starkhaven, which makes him the ruling prince by right; but he's also a priest who has taken vows. He admits to having wanted the crown when he was younger, but certainly not at the expense of his family's lives, and notes that now that he "might be decent" as ruler, he's not sure it's the right path. Hawke ultimately can push him in one direction or another, but in the next game, it's confirmed that he's on the throne; supplemental material, such as the Knight Errant comic books, suggest that he's at least trying to be this.
    • As of the end of the Trespasser DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition, Kirkwall's viscount is Varric, Hawke's best friend. He gets the job in part because he was funneling so much money into the reconstruction and revitalization of the city-state even before getting a crown, so he's almost guaranteed to fall into this trope as well.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Par for the course in most games. The king who sends you on your quest is usually good.
    • Dragon Quest I: From what is seen in the game, King Lorik seems to be popular among the people of Tantegel. He also helps the Hero out by giving him items and money and saving his progress.
    • Dragon Quest V:
      • King James is well-beloved by his subjects and does his best to be a fair and wise ruler.
      • Played with Prince Wilbur. While he's not a particularly competent king, Wilbur is a kind man who wants the best for his people but understands that he is incapable of giving it to them.
  • The Elder Scrolls has several examples.
    • In general throughout the series, Emperor Uriel Septim VII serves as one up until his death in Oblivion. He's a fair and balanced ruler who keeps the Cyrodiilic Empire whole through multiple crises and intervenes directly to kick off the plots of Daggerfall and Morrowind.
    • Imperial propaganda claims that this is the case for Tiber Septim, founder of the Third Cyrodiilic Empire. For the most part, he played it straight, uniting all of Tamriel within one empire for the first time in history and generally being a benevolent emperor. However, he did make some morally questionable moves during his reign, such as demanding that his bastard child with the young Queen Barenziah of Morrowind be magically aborted because it would be inconvenient to his legitimate heirs, and claiming that he was betrayed by his Imperial Battlemage, Zurin Arctus, when Arctus did exactly what Septim wanted him to do — if anything, Septim betrayed Arctus. Following his death, Septim ascended to godhood as the deity Talos. Part of Talos's realm of influence includes being the "God of Good Governance", essentially making him the god of the trope.
    • Ysgramor, the ancient Atmoran hero and Founder of the Kingdom of Skyrim, is considered the standard of what a king should be by the Nords. He was a wise Genius Bruiser and Papa Wolf who led a Badass Army in conquering Skyrim from the hated Falmer (Snow Elves). Obviously, the elves have a very different opinion...
    • Morrowind:
      • Duke Vedam Dren. As Duke, he exercises the empire's authority over the Vvardenfell district (where the game takes place) and is genuinely interested in protecting and helping the people there. He makes you swear an oath to do so before he'll give you permission to build a stronghold and, if you are in House Hlaalu, will give you quests in this vein.
      • On the other hand is the actual King of Morrowind, Helseth, who averts this by being a Magnificent Bastard who lies, cheats, and murders his way to power. Despite this, he is still the Gray to Almalexia's Black in the Tribunal expansion.
    • In Oblivion, Uriel Septim VII's son Martin. He was a well Hidden Backup Prince turned a very Unexpected Successor. However, he comes to embrace the role and later sacrifices himself to defeat Mehrunes Dagon and stop Dagon's Legions of Hell from bringing about The End of the World as We Know It.
    • Skyrim:
      • Various Jarls (read: kings of individual counties within the province of Skyrim) provide examples. Most noticeable is Jarl Balgruuf of Whiterun, whose first desire is to protect his people, regardless of the cost. The other Jarls run the gamut from corrupt and idiotic to fair and benevolent.
      • An even stronger candidate is Brunwulf Free-Winter, who takes over as Jarl of Windhelm if the player helps the Empire win the Civil War. Within hours of being made Jarl, he pardons and retains most of Ulfric's court staff, offers lodgings for the deposed pro-Stormcloak Jarls, and meets with the Dunmer of the city to discuss renovations with the slum in which Ulfric forced them to live. What a Nice Guy.
  • Duke Edmun Dragonsbane from Dragon's Dogma, while not a king per se, still plays with the trope. At first he seems like a benevolent duke who was a previous Arisen but as the game progress, he is actually quite insane. In one sidequest, you catch him as he strangles his young wife while screaming "Lenore," the name of his previous wife; afterwards he locks her in the manse for her behavior (mainly flirting with you). In the end, it's revealed that rather than slaying the dragon, he agreed to his offer to leave Gransys in exchange for power and glory (as shown in one ending). After you slay the dragon, he loses his immortality and youth, believing that you must have made the deal with the dragon and makes you into a fugitive, forever banning you from the Noble's Quarter.
  • Fable III portrays the Player Character's father (the Hero of Fable II) as this. The PC may also fit this trope, if the player so chooses.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy, the good kind is the one who originally sends you on your quest.
    • Final Fantasy IV, the unnamed King of Fabul, and King Giott of the Dwarves. As well as the true king of Baron. At the end of the game, Cecil, Edward, Yang and Edge become kings of their respective countries.
    • Final Fantasy V, Galuf is revealed to be the king of Bal. There's also King Tycoon, who is the only monarch that takes the threat to the crystals seriously — Walse admits the problem but continues to exploit them because of public opinion, and Queen Karnak is suffering Demonic Possession already.
    • Final Fantasy VI, Edgar plays this role with the kingdom of Figaro. He insists on paying for goods when castle shopkeepers protest, and he's secretly providing aid and intelligence to La Résistance against The Empire.
    • Final Fantasy IX, Regent Cid is the affable leader of Lindblum (unfortunately, he doesn't seem to be able to keep it in his pants.)
    • Final Fantasy XV, Noctis' father, Regis Lucis Caelum, is a compassionate and even-tempered man, who at the onset of the game is slowly sacrificing his own life to maintain an evil-deflecting barrier over the capital of Insomnia. Noctis himself develops into the trope over time, as he inherits the power of Kings and saves the world from the Starscourge.
  • The Fire Emblem series is rife with these, though more often than not they tend to be killed off rather early to set the protagonist on their journey. The Hero of each game traditionally becomes this at the end.
  • King Arthur of Guenevere, much like his mythical inspiration.
  • All three kings in the Hero of the Kingdom series are this, and also Reasonable Authority Figures who are willing to trust the heroes on the grounds that they are a source of good in the kingdom.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • The series portrays Mickey Mouse as this. With some Warrior Prince mixed in for good measure.
    • The real Ansem is revealed to have been this in II, ruling Radiant Garden with such wisdom that he was nicknamed "Ansem the Wise". While he did do some dubious experiments involving Hearts and the Heartless, he immediately pulled the plug on it when he realized the dangers inherent in such research. Too bad he had Xehanort as his apprentice.
  • King Graham of Daventry, naturally. His son, Alexander, also becomes this for the Green Isles in the sixth game.
    • King Edward, Graham's predecessor, was known as "King Edward The Benevolent".
  • Played with quite a bit in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. Much of the second half of the game involves Kain being drawn into a war against the Nemesis, a Tin Tyrant with armies clad in red armor and Spikes of Villainy. At one time the Nemesis was King William the Just, a kind ruler who eventually let his power go to his head. Kain travels back in time to assassinate him and prevent the war entirely, but he does so during the era in which William was still well-loved by his people...resulting in a vampire purge that leaves Kain the last of his race.
  • Zelda's father in The Legend of Zelda games, where he always puts the needs of his people first. King Dorephan in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the Zora king that not only looks out for his own people but also the safety of the Hylians when he expresses worry that the dam bursting would affect them and not his people. He has no objections to his daughter proposing to Link, presumably on the grounds that such an arrangement would bring her happiness. The king also is said to have defeated a Guardian by himself by tossing it off a cliff.
  • In Mass Effect, if he survives the first game, Urdnot Wrex returns to his homeworld and begins forcefully taking control of the krogan race, sometimes diplomatically, other times with (necessary) force. With the krogan on the path to extinction due to a combination of a Depopulation Bomb and their own self-destructive tendencies, Wrex introduces massive reforms to curb his race's bloodlust and bring their numbers back from the brink. By the time of 3, Wrex has become arguably the most powerful krogan in the galaxy and, with Shepard and Mordin/Wik's help, Wrex is on the path to leading the krogan into a new golden age and cultural renaissance.
  • Neverwinter Nights: Lord Nasher Alagondar fits the trope, even though he's technically not a king but the ruling lord of a city-state. He cares deeply for his subjects and is quite willing to personally take the field in their defense.
  • The New Order Last Days Of Europe: "King" Rurik II (in reality former-Red Army Major-General Nikolai Krylov) is this trope despite his apparent insanity. He listens to his advisors, develops the kingdom in a rational manner, and enjoys good popularity with his people. He maintains the best parts of the defunct Soviet Union (like the trade unions so his subjects enjoy good working conditions and workplace democracy) but fuses it with Kievan and Muscovite aesthetics. As he lies dying of old age shortly after reunifying Russia, he admits with his last words to his children that it was all an act he put on to get people behind him and fix his broken country.
    • The path of Alexei II if Sergey Taboritsky reunifies Russia is remarkably similar. The man once known as Michał Goleniewski was a former Soviet officer (in the NKVD) and also masqueraded as a long-dead royal, though his awareness of his not being the real deal is apparent from the start and he remains a cryptocommunist throughout his supposedly monarchistic reign. In sharp contrast to the Holy Russian Empire on which Taboritsky, unleashes a series of disastrously nightmarish horrors in the name of hastening the real Alexei's return, Goleniewski's Russian Empire is a beacon of relative calm and freedom in the chaos and misery that is Russia, shattered after Taboritsky's death. This leads to Goleniewski enjoying the same massive popularity as Rurik, to the point that the many among the public who know that he is a false Tsar simply don't care.
  • Queen Gwendholyn of Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords is, to all appearances, a just and benevolent ruler who wants to protect her people. The player character is deeply loyal to her.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei IV has several. They're all the same person, each in different timelines.
    • King Aquila of Mikado was by all accounts one, having built Mikado Castle and founded the Samurai Order to protect the kingdom from invaders. Even in the present, the Samurai are reluctant to break his laws.
    • Akira, the local Reasonable Authority Figure, is the de-facto leader of the surviving citizens of Tokyo, which was glassed over twenty years ago. After hiring the party to kill the demon plaguing them, he ensures that they would never be forgotten by rebuilding the country under the name of their country, the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado. Jonathan realizes that this would make him King Akira of Mikado.
    • Although he drags the party into killing the his predecessor for the throne, the newly crowned King Akira of Tokyo wants nothing more than to make the strong and weak equal, which goes against everything his world stands for. His subjects notice that quality of life has improved dramatically since he took power.
  • In the second installment of the Sonic Storybook Series, Sonic and the Black Knight, King Arthur WAS one of these, but became corrupted by the malevolent scabard of Excalibur and Sonic is then tasked with killing him before he destroys the entire realm. By the end of the game, not only is King Arthur revealed to be a fake but the true King Arthur is revealed to be Sonic himself due to Caliburn accepting him as his master. Making his involvement in the story a retroactive case of this.
  • In the Super Mario Bros. franchise, the King of the Mushroom Kingdom is a swell guy...even though we don't see much of him.
  • In Tales of the Abyss, both Emperor Peony of Malkuth and King Ingobert of Kimlasca are this, though they may dip into Jerk With A Heart Of Gold tendencies now and again.
  • Hamilicar Barca from Tears to Tiara 2 at first very much planned on refusing the crown with his own life. But once he's king he fits the trope to a T, liberating Hispania from The Empire, forming alliances, encouraging trade, technology, and learning.
  • Lord British of the Ultima games is intended to be this, though some disagree.
  • ULTRAKILL: According to a book in level 2-2, Death at 20,000 Volts, King Minos was considered a fair ruler by his people back when he was alive, and when Gabriel killed him, Minos' people mourned for his death. According to the lore of Minos Prime, Minos felt that eternal suffering for love was an unfair punishment, so he turned the Circle of Lust into a thriving paradise out of kindness for the sinners. Even after his death, his legacy as a benevolent king is still fondly remembered by his people.
  • Undertale: The King of Monsters, Asgore, is a much beloved figure by his subjects. The player hears conflicting accounts about him: some monsters say he is dangerous and the player will inevitably have to kill him to escape, others call him a "big fuzzy pushover". He is in fact an extremely kind and caring person who is friendly with all his subjects and enjoys gardening and making tea in his spare time. However, he did declare war on humanity (after humans murdered his son) in a fit of rage, and he is also the most powerful monster in the Underground... and as much as he hates himself for it, he does believe he has to take the player's soul. His compassion is best shown before the final battle when he tells the player to take all the time they need to get ready to fight him and assures them that he isn't ready either.
  • Warcraft 3 / World of Warcraft:
    • King Terenas Menethil was the beloved ruler of Lordaeron for untold decades, the primary figure in the formation of the original Alliance of Lordaeron which led to their victory in the Second War, and also helped rebuild Stormwind after its destruction at the end of the First War once the Second War had ended. Unfortunately, his son Arthas ends up being corrupted by the Scourge and murdering him, and the absence of his leadership was likely a large part of the reason Lordaeron fell so easily to the Scourge. Obviously, the "newly crowned" "King" Arthas is not nearly as benevolent to "his" people and lands. However...
    • Arthas in World of Warcraft is a rare villainous example. He's a Good King to the Scourge. Even though they are undead he can rather easily replace, he values his troops and doesn't like to waste them. He even forms genuine friendships with his more powerful subjects, such as Kel'Thuzad and Anub'Arak. It's bitterly ironic that he's applying the very advice his father (whom he murdered) gave him about how to be a good king in his leadership of the Scourge.
    • According to the lore, King Llane Wrynn of Stormwind was one. His one flaw was that he was too trusting, resulting in Garona murdering him during a crucial time, resulting in Stormwind's fall during the First War. His son Varian eventually assumes the throne and appears to be this as well, although he is, at first, distrustful of the worgen of Gilneas. After Varian's death, his son Anduin returns to the throne (he was previously the King of Stormwind during Varian's disappearance). Hopefully, he will be like his father and grandfather.
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has an unconventionally played example. As Skelligans are basically Scottish Vikings, their idea of what constitutes a good king can be summed up as "awesome warrior who's favoured by the gods and will lead us to victory and glory in battle". Hjalmar An Craite fits up to this description exceedingly well, just like Bran before him. Even though he ends up neglecting Skellige itself due to leading men on big raids against Nilfgaard, the Skelligans don't mind because he's leading them to bigger and bigger battles and filling the longships with plunder. Hell, he even manages to unite the clans of Skellige and lead them to kick Nilfgaard's black-plated arses back down to the south in some possible endings. Cerys also qualifies as she's considerably calmer, more diplomatic, and a much better administrator than her brother, and even though her reign is less popular with the Skelligans because she's not as much of a badass warrior, she does a better job of running the isles and allowing them to prosper.
  • In World Neverland, each kingdom starts out with either a Good King or a High Queen who rules with fairness and kindness. They can even become your friends if you talk to them frequently. It's even possible for the player to become the King or Queen, though it takes a while — and you can be not so nice if you wish.
  • Yes, Your Grace puts the player in control of a small kingdom's King. Making him act as benevolently as possible is encouraged by taxes received by a happy population being higher.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: The nameless King of Vale. When a war was threatening to engulf the entire world, he took to the battlefield personally and defeated all comers. The other kings, terrified of his power, offered him their crowns. Instead, he chose to allow them to remain largely as they were before the war and only used his victory as leverage to create an Academy in each Kingdom. These Academies would train Huntsmen and Huntresses to fight the Grimm, rather than relying on armies that could easily be turned on each other. By the time of the story, the Academies still stand, and the world has entered an unprecedented era of peace. It is strongly implied that the King was one of Ozma's previous incarnations, which is why the later incarnation Ozpin was able to become headmaster of Beacon Academy at such a young age: He built it.

  • If Cale'Anon of Looking for Group isn't this already, he soon will be.
  • Despite being an otherwise Crapsack World, Oglaf has one of these in the form of "King Blowjob". He gained the throne by saving his people from an invading army, solved his new nation's financial problems, apparently restructured their society into a "peaceful fellatio-cracy", and stopped a cursed man on a violent rampage, first by offering himself and then by hiring specialists out-of-pocket to break the curse. And all through the power of really good blowjobs.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears and Hanna-Barbera's The Smurfs run around more or less the same concept: a secret community of magical creatures whose existence is only known for a few human allies and some villains. Both shows happen in a fictional medieval kingdom and both shows have the resident King to be quite representative of this trope; gentle, benevolent, and nice with the humble servants like the local page.
  • As of the finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Fire Lord Zuko, the seeds of which were planted all the way back in the first season before his Heel–Face Turn.
    • The Earth King, too, even though he was sheltered his entire life and therefore has no idea how to actually be a king when called upon. In spite of this, he's not a bad guy and clearly wants to do the right thing by his people. Averted by his daughter in The Legend of Korra, who is a despotic tyrant who has starved her own people through greed and incompetence.
    • King Bumi of Omashu is also one. He is wise and considers the life of every one of his citizens. So when faced with a choice of either defending his city from an impressive force from the Fire Nation, where his people would certainly die, and surrendering where all would live, he picks the latter and waits until an opportune moment to take back his city. Single-handedly.
  • ChalkZone had an episode called "The Big Blow-Up", which introduced ChalkZone's long lost ruler King Mumbo Jumbo, who selflessly kept himself sealed away with the Inflatermaus swarm for 300 years. From what little screentime we are given when he awakens from his hibernation, he proves to be a very nice person and helps series protagonist Rudy re-imprison the Inflatermaus swarm.
  • In The Lion Guard, Simba gets a whole song about it "Good King Simba". Like in the movie, he does qualify. Kion probably does as well as of the final episode.
  • The titular character of King Leonardo and His Short Subjects is the benevolent ruler of the kingdom Bongo Congo. Gangster rodent Biggy Rat and the king's black sheep brother Itchy scheme to usurp Leonardo to make the kingdom's coffers theirs for the taking, but the king's prime minister Odie Cologne thwarts them at every turn.

    Real Life 
  • Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia, is the inspiration of the traditional Christmas carol 'Good King Wenceslaus' listed above under folklore. Immediately following his murder by his brother he was adopted as a local saint, and though he was only a duke, Holy Roman Emperor Otto I posthumously conferred the regal dignity and title of king upon him in honor of his legacy.
  • Bhumibol Adulyadej, King Rama IX of Thailand, is known for being Royals Who Actually Do Something, personally visiting areas and people in need to understand their problems. Thailand had two civil wars over the past few years over political reasons, but the one thing both sides agreed upon, in both wars, is that their king is a wonderful man. After an exceptionally popular, seven-decade reign; his death at the age of 88 years in late 2016 was universally mourned by the people of Thailand.
  • King George VI, king of England during World War II. He was humble, modest to the point of being shy, and suffered from a speech impediment. George VI is one of England’s most fondly remembered monarchs.
  • Juan Carlos, king of Spain, who led his country from the dictatorship of Franco into a first-world democracy and a member of The European Union. He got a reputation when he single-handedly stopped an attempted coup by Franco's former military men in 1981. Has become a Memetic Badass when he told Hugo Chavez to shut up when Hugo was making light of the deaths during Franco's regime. Him saying "Why don't you just shut up" became a very popular ringtone in the Spanish-speaking world. His elephant-hunting activities and a series of scandals really damage his popularity among Spaniards though, as most polls showed. Many analysts consider this drastic reduction in popularity the real reason behind his unexpected abdication.
  • King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth Dragon King of Bhutan, was the first king to lead his country out of isolation from the rest of the world, introduced modernization such as television and the internet, created the Gross National Happiness Index to rule based on what would make his subjects happy rather than just focusing on the economy, and finally abdicated and ordered parliamentary elections, on the basis that it had been found that countries with parliamentary democracies were happier than monarchies.
  • Alfred the Great. He saved Wessex from Viking Invasion after the Vikings had nearly conquered it. He then started a system of burghs to protect the country and started an education system. His actions eventually united England. There's a reason he's the only English king to be given the moniker "the Great".
  • Sultan Suleiman The Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire is fondly remembered by the Turks for his tolerance and fair rule, ushering in his reign a period of peace and stability later sultans would try to emulate. In Turkish, his title translates to "Law-Giver".
  • Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil. He was an abolitionist, a cultured man, and a sponsor of the arts and sciences, using his power in a benevolent way. He was also a massive advocate for the freedom of his people, with freedom of speech, civil rights, economic development, and democratic representation flourishing under his rule, and was willing to accept that the monarchy's days were numbered and that Brazil's future would best be served by a transition into a republic.note  He is still a national hero and highly respected in Brazil to this day.
  • Christian IV of Denmark is, despite his horrible war record that later almost destroyed the country, universally respected as a great ruler. He loved art and music and budgeted many musicians to play at his court, was a Friend to All Children, was a very upbeat man even in his elderly days, ruled justly, and was a joy to be around.
  • While the results varied on the monarch and often had a bit of Values Dissonance, the House of Habsburg (the Austrian branch at least) for all their flaws strove to uphold this trope as per their duty. The last Austro-Hungarian Emperor, Karl/Karoly IV in particular's still highly regarded for his humility, efforts to end the Great War and dedication to serve (and hold intact) the Empire...which went horribly wrong. If anything, his reign is something of a tragic deconstruction similar to Brazil's Emperor Dom Pedro above: his work to alleviate the sufferings of his people, holding the various realms together and generally being the Only Sane Man among the Central Powers would have helped the Habsburg monarchy endure into the 20th century and beyond if not for the strains of World War I ultimately tearing the Empire at the seams.
  • To this day the French call Henri IV of France, founder of the Bourbon dynasty, le bon roi Henri –- "Good King Henry." He was kind to his subjects, religiously tolerant in an era of fanaticism and religious war, devoted to ensuring national prosperity (the phrase "a chicken in every pot" as shorthand for "everyone doing well economically" is derived from his statement that, God willing, he would ensure that every peasant in France would have "a chicken in his pot every Sunday") and a famously good time.
  • Emperor Trajan, the second of the "Five Good Emperors of Rome." He extended Rome to the pinnacle of its size and power, but what really makes him this trope is that his reputation has survived, unblemished, through nineteen centuries of scholarship, making him one of the most triumphant aversions of the Values Dissonance that sometimes comes with naming historical figures as this trope. It was customary afterward for the Senate to pray when recognizing a new emperor that he be as good as Trajan.
  • Rama IV of Thailand (better known to English-speakers as King Mongkut) is revered as one of its greatest monarchsnote . He revolutionized their science, technology, and to a lesser extent their society. To say nothing of his Batman Gambit against imperialism, in which he westernized the country to the point where the West couldn't invoke White Man's Burden and invade.note 
  • Umberto II, last king of Italy, managed to prove himself this both as Lieutenant General for the Realm (basically, his father Vittorio Emanuele III made him regent after Italy switched sides in World War II because he himself was tainted by having supported the Fascist regime while Umberto was a known opposer of both Fascism and Nazism), when he managed to avoid the secession of Sicily without spilling a single drop of blood, and in his brief reign (35 days) where, in the face of the many irregularities in the referendum that had seen the Italians choosing the republican regime, he single-handedly defused any chance of a civil war while still calling out the government for proclaiming the Republic before the official results were announced.
  • King Sejong the Great, who was the fourth king of Joseon Dynasty, is one of the most respected monarchs in the history of Korea. He created the Korean alphabet 'Hangul' from scratch for peasants who couldn't learn complex Chinese characters. He helped create the traditional Korean music notes with his own music skills. He began a series of military conquests to ensure that neighboring countries would respect their border. He let a genius commoner work in his court and develop automatic water clocks, sundials, and the world's first rain gauge. He published books about agriculture that would help peasants, researched and legislated laws that were so groundbreaking at that time that later kings didn't find the need to legislate new ones for centuries, and set a precedent for future kings by trying to debate and cooperate with his subjects, not rule over them. This overworking combined with diabetes probably caused his death at age 52. Koreans are so grateful to him that even centuries after his death, they use his portrait on their money, named the main road that crosses downtown Seoul after him, built a statue of him in the middle of said road, and named the administrative city after him.
  • Subverted with King John II of France, called Jean le Bon or "John the Good". Unfortunately in his day, "bon" could mean "brave", and John exemplified Honour Before Reason. When his army lost the battle of Poitiers (a.k.a. Maupertuis), he refused to retreat, ended up in English hands, and had to be ransomed for three million gold écus and several French provinces (the biggest king's ransom in French history). He also gave his younger son Philip the Bold the duchy of Burgundy, without which there might not have been the internecine strife between the Armagnacs and Bourgignons and the English-Burgundian alliance that disastrously affected the reign of John's grandson, King Charles VI. No wonder there never was another King John of France...
  • King Casimir III the Great of Poland. He rebuilt Poland financially, doubled the size of the kingdom, founded the first Polish university, gave Jews rights and protections as 'people of the king', encouraged Jewish migration, and reformed the law. He was sometimes called 'the Peasant King' because he was known for taking the side of commoners where the law didn't protect them from the nobility and clergy, or 'the Polish Justinian', for his reforms of judiciary system and work for unified legal code. A popular Polish proverb says he 'found Poland wooden and left brick', due to his support for urbanization (with over 100 towns founded during his reign) and fortification of the country.
  • Claudius was known as a fairly kind and benevolent emperor particularly when compared to his predecessor. Not bad for a man who was hastily crowned by the fleeing Praetorian guards.
  • Gustav Vasa Of Sweden is often considered to be this, despite his highly polarizing actions as king. Sweden fondly remembers him for freeing them from the yoke of King Christian II Of Denmark (who to this day is referred to as "Kristian Tyrann" or [Christian The Tyrant in Sweden), and is widely recognized as the father of modern Sweden, to the point that the Swedish Day Of Independence on June 6th is one of two commemorative events (the other being the signing of the 1809 government declaration) because that's the day when Gustav Vasa was officially crowned king in 1523, leading to the official dissolution of the Kalmar Union. However, for all of his accomplishments, Vasa is remembered for his vicious destruction of the catholic church and introducing Protestantism as the official religion of Sweden mainly so he could confiscate the Church's wealth. This, combined with his taxation policy, resulted in the "Dackefejden" (Dacke Feud), a peasant uprising in southern Sweden led by revolutionary Nils Dacke that took years to put down. Regardless, despite the controversy in his own time, King Vasa is still a beloved icon in Sweden and considered a national hero in the modern day.
  • King Olav V of Norway once joked that he never needed to bring bodyguards with him in public domestically because he had four million of them — meaning the entire population of Norway at the time. Unlike the aforementioned examples, Olav was a constitutional monarch and had no actual power, but was extremely well-regarded in Norway as a symbol of national unity, to the degree that he was voted "Norwegian of the Century" in 2005 (fifteen years after his death) despite being born Danish.
    • His father, Haakon VII (born Carl) was no slouch in this department either. While he, like his son and grandson, was a constitutional monarch, the mess known as World War II forced him into a more proactive role. During the war, Haakon became an important symbol of Norway's resistance against the occupation, especially since his refusal to acknowledge the Nazi-sanctioned parliament prevented it from legally seizing power from the Parliament-in-Exile. The elected parliament of Norway had, at one point, attempted to surrender, but Haakon told them to get their asses in gear and do the job they were elected for.
  • King William II of Sicily enjoyed a relatively peaceful reign, as compared to those of his father and successor, and the years of his kingship are recorded as being a golden age of peace and justice; in the years after his death, he came to be remembered fondly by his people as "William the Good."
  • A more modern version would be Céphas Bansah King (more in a spiritual way) of the Ewe people in Ghana. He lives in Germany, where he runs a car service station. He manages most of the governing via Skype, but he regularly visits his people. He has raised several fundraisers to improve the standard of living for his people (often even paid much of the costs himself). Among other things, he has built water pumps and pipes, schools, hospitals, training centres, and even prisons.
  • Peter I of Bulgaria had this reputation during the centuries following his rule. Inheriting a vast empire, he managed to keep the peace for 40 years, which was in stark contrast to his father Simeon's wars of conquest. While economy had suffered lasting damage from Simeon's wars, Peter's rule was remembered fondly enough that three future rebels claiming the Bulgarian throne following the Byzantine conquest of Bulgaria renamed themselves after him.
  • Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II was The Chessmaster in both war and diplomacy. He defeated an Italian invasion, making Ethiopia one of the only parts of Africa never fully colonized by Europe, and received diplomatic recognition of Ethiopia from many other European powers. He was an equally skilled internal reformer, cracking down on the slave trade, modernizing Ethiopia's governance, creating a new postal system and national bank, starting Ethiopia's railway network, and introducing electricity, telegraphs, and modern plumbing to his capital of Addis Ababa.
  • Fredrick The Great was way ahead of his time in several ways, including allowing freedom of speech, abolishing torture, and reducing the sentence for many crimes (which previously were punishable by death.)


Video Example(s):


The Good King

Terrible Writing Advice gives his template for a good fantasy king.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheGoodKing

Media sources: