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And do you not understand that it is enough for brave men to have learnt how noble a thing it is as to the act, how grateful it is as to the benefit done, how glorious as to the fame acquired, to slay a tyrant?
Cicero, Philippics 2.117

A ruler tyrannizes his realm, whether by committing genocide, robbing his subjects or kicking puppies; one day, La Résistance murders him in order to free their country. The act, along with the one committing it, was historically sometimes seen as praiseworthy, except in contexts where the given head of state held his power from divine right.For the history nerds...

Can be the fate of a President Evil, President for Life (with emphasis on the Life part), the Feudal Overlord, The Evil Prince, The Caligula, The Generalissimo, the Evil Queen, and the Evil Overlord.

The ruler's death getting a favorable reaction from the people is also more likely when said ruler has a 0% Approval Rating.

It's nothing to do with a Tyrannosaurus rex, unless the dinosaur's a Tyrannical Rex, too.

Related to The Kingslayer, Asshole Victim, and Bully Hunter. If done by a foreign power, then it's Regime Change. Compare Meet the New Boss and Full-Circle Revolution, and contrast Tyrant Takes the Helm.

Real-life examples are limited to the Trope Namers.

As a Death Trope, spoilers will be unmarked on this page.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Code Geass, Lelouch Deconstructs this trope—and in a metaphorical sense, you could even say he Exaggerates it. One of his most consistent goals throughout the series is to assassinate the tyrannical Emperor of Britannia. When he eventually succeeds, he takes up the throne and deliberately fashions himself into an even worse tyrant, specifically to give all of humanity a single shared enemy to unite them, leading to a better world after his arranged assassination. In other words, he metaphorically destroys the role of Emperor itself.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Happens to Gihren near the end, at the hands of his own younger sister no less. Not that Kycilia is that much better of a person herself, but killing their father proves to be a bridge too far for her, so she decides to shoot him, consequences be damned.

    Comic Books 
  • Issue #247 of Marvel Comics' Fantastic Four has Doctor Doom bring the Fantastic Four to his homeland to show them how Prince Zorba has reduced Latveria to a Crapsack World where its people live in misery and fear. While the Four battle war-class Doombots, Doom seeks out Zorba and confronts him about his tyranny.
    Prince Zorba: So long as I live, you have no claim to the throne!
    Doctor Doom: Precisely.
  • Double subverted in Judge Dredd. In the backstory, the Judges rise up against President Evil Bob Booth for starting a nuclear war by invoking the U.S. Constitution's pre-ambles against tyranny. After they capture him they can't bring themselves to execute the last President, however, so they sentence him to 100 years suspended animation instead. Dredd sentences him again to hard labor after the President wakes up, then finally passes sentence of death on Booth a few decades later when he tries to raise an army in the Cursed Earth to take over Mega-City One.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Occurs preventively in Die Hard 2, in which cronies of deposed dictator General Esperanza take all of Dulles Airport hostage. They demand, and receive, Esperanza; he and his corrupt CIA cohorts are about to depart for a coup of his Banana Republic when The Hero takes them all out.
  • Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Darth Vader returns to the light and kills the Emperor by throwing him down the Death Star reactor shaft. His death signals the beginning of the end of the Empire's tyranny, sparking uprisings and celebrations on a number of planets. The Expanded Universe goes into more detail about it, showing that the Empire fractured without Palpatine or Vader's leadership, making it all the more easy for the Rebels, now known as the New Republic, to liberate Imperial-held space.
  • Once the Wicked Witch has been liquidated in The Wizard of Oz, the captain of the witch's guards cheers Dorothy and company, and gladly presents them with the witch's broom in gratitude. Presumably, the flying monkeys also bear the protagonists no ill will, since the monkeys nevermore impede Dorothy's progress.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: The Ancient Egyptians who are fed up with En Sabah Nur's blood-thirsty reign attempt to assassinate him, but his Four Horsemen sacrifice themselves to save his life. It does save the Egyptians who suffered under his reign, since Apocalypse is sealed away for thousands of years.

  • In the Deryni novel Camber of Culdi, the coup d'etat against King Imre Festil by Cinhil Haldane, aided by Camber MacRorie Earl of Culdi and his family, involves this. Imre is depicted mistreating ordinary humans (taking Disproportionate Retribution for the murder of a Deryni lord by taking fifty human hostages and executing them when the killers don't come forward), and he's killed in an arcane duel by Cinhil. Camber and his family are motivated to find Cinhil and persuade the reluctant priest to take the throne because of Imre's tyranny.
  • Discworld:
    • Suffer-not-Injustice "Old Stoneface" Vimes, ancestor of the current Vimes, chopped off the King's head for his horrific crimes. He was the only one with the balls to do it — no court wanted to try the king. He was later executed, his body getting the Osiris treatment. His bad reputation was so powerful, his descendants many generations later are still being bugged about it.
    • Night Watch: The revolution ends with the murder of Homicidal Lord Winder by a young Havelock Vetinari and Lord Snapcase being made the new Patrician, but Snapcase immediately turns out to be just as tyrannical, if not worse. Interesting Times implies that Snapcase ended up facing mob justice for his own crimes.
  • In the parody novel Doctor Whom by Adam Roberts, the Master Debator justifies his intention to kill the Dr. by revealing that his title is not short for Doctor, as both the characters and the reader had been led to assume, but Dictator.
    Master Debator: While murder may be a crime, tyrannicide is not.
  • In Dragon Blood, high king Jakoven is an overall bad ruler, who also kills innocent men and rapes children. La Résistance has been planning his carefully timed demise for some time and is only waiting for him to dig himself a bit deeper so that even more people will oppose him. After the revolutionaries get the Hidden Backup Prince out of prison, there is nothing that stands between the tyrant and a sharp blade anymore... at least nothing that would hinder the heroes in any meaningful way.
  • The Hunger Games: At the execution of President Snow at the end of Mockingjay, Katniss kills President Coin, the leader of La Résistance, after realising she and Snow weren't so different. Snow is later lynched by the mob.
  • Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle: In the end, it is Eragon who kills Galbatorix, the Big Bad and current ruler of Alagaesia. He does this by inventing a game-changing spell (with the help of the dragon's Wild Magic) that causes the tyrant to feel all the pain he has caused directly or indirectly during his hundred-year reign, forcing Galbatorix to finally realize what he's done to the nation and kill himself with magic when Eragon refuses to end the spell.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Jaime Lannister , who killed an evil, mad king, Aerys II through Back Stab to stop them burning down King's Landing with wildfire. He did a lot of good to the realm and had the most genuinely noble intentions. No one will let him forget it, though, as he was sworn to protect the King.
    • Joffrey is later murdered by his grandmother-in-law Olenna Tyrell and Littlefinger, although this was not so much for the sake of the realm as it is for advancing their own personal agendas.
    • At the end of the Dance of the Dragons Aegon II was poisoned as Cregan Stark's army approached King's Landing, though it is unknown who was responsible. However, Cregan arrested many people for the crime, giving most of them the choice between death or exile, as he felt a king's murder should be punished. Aegon's rival, his half-sister Rhaenyra, was killed by him when he fed her to his dragon and had proved tyrannical in her half-year rule over King's Landing, starving the people and executing many.
    • Aegon the Conqueror fought the cruel Black Harren Hoare, who had spent his sixty-year reign forcing the Riverlands to build his gigantic castle of Harrenhal, meaning when Aegon attacked many of the Riverlords joined him. When Harren took refuge in his castle, Aegon used his dragon to burn the castle, eliminating House Hoare.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 100: In the Time Skip between seasons 4 and 5, Octavia has become a ruthless, bloodthirsty dictator of those in the bunker, who worship her with cult-like reverence. When the group is threatened with hostile takeover by Eligius, a criminal mining ship, Octavia's one-track mind for power and vengeance jeopardize any attempts at negotiation and peace. To get her out of the way so she doesn't get them all killed, Bellamy poisons her with an algae that induces a coma, very much aware that it has the potential to kill her. Fittingly, the episode dealing with the aftermath of this decision is called "Sic Semper Tyrannis." Octavia survives this (barely), and sentences her own brother to the fighting pits.
  • The Barrier: The series is set in Police State dictatorship that has been in place for twenty-five years and the protagonists are people who are suffering under the regime and/or opposing it to various levels. Take a wild guess as to whether the President leading that dictatorship is still alive by the end of the last episode of the series or not. Messing with the granddaughter of a former La Résistance member who is in possession of a gun is a bad idea.
  • Londo Mollari's plan to murder the omnicidally-insane Caligula Emperor Cartagia in Babylon 5, which succeeds except for a previously naive and innocent party having to deliver the killing blow, which Londo regrets.
  • Napoléon: Narrowly avoided when Napoléon Bonaparte attempts to address the Directorate to give him and two of his political allies emergency powers, and one of the deputies attempts to stab him in the chaos. Napoleon is protected from assassination by his soldiers, and he uses the opportunity to have the Directorate dissolved and himself named First Consul.
  • Game of Thrones: Deconstructed. Euron openly admits to kinslaying his own brother, Balon, and justifies himself on the grounds that Balon's rule brought nothing but grief to the Ironborn as he led them into two wars that they couldn't win and made them the laughing stock of Westeros and says that his only regret was that Balon was not killed before he did these terrible things. The other Ironborn agree with Euron. While it may be true that Balon was a terrible king, it doesn't change the fact that Euron is all kinds of worse than Balon could ever be, with one tyrant replaced with a more malicious one. The best you can say about Euron is that he understands the importance of powerful allies and that the Ironborn are too few in number to take on all of Westeros.
  • House: in the episode "The Tyrant" (S6E4), Dibala, a repressive and genocidal ruler, is being cared for by the hospital. An "orderly" named Ruwe asks Chase to let Dibala die, because of his human rights violations. After hearing Dibala, when asked about genocide, replying he would do what he thinks necessary for his country, Chase bungles the diagnosis, thereby causing the death of Dibala.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: After Morgoth's demise, Sauron was left to take control over the Orcs. Instead of trying to be better than his predecesor, Sauron continued Morgoth's horrible treatment of The Orcs, which absolutely garanteed a Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal from The Orcs. He was "split open" by Adar.
  • Merlin (2008): Morgana kills Uther by using her own magic to cause the amulet Merlin-in-disguise gives Arthur to save Uther to backfire and kill him, seeing him as a tyrant for his brutal repression of magic users.
  • Rome depicts the assassination of Gaius Julius Caesar by Brutus and his allies at the end of the first season. When they later discuss the aftermath with Caesar's surviving ally Mark Antony, the latter points out that justifying Caesar's murder as tyrannicide has created a conundrum for everyone, as all of Caesar's motions, including the appointment of Brutus' and Antony's offices, are legally null and void. The factions agree to forego a new election by declaring a general amnesty. Antony then rouses the common people (for whom Caesar was a hero) against the assassins, forcing them to flee Rome.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Happens every so often in BattleTech:
    • The most historically important example is the overthrow of the mad despot Stefan Amaris. Unique in that the group that overthrew him was the army of the realm he had overthrown, and that killing him didn't involve an assassination as much as a decades-long campaign to destroy his home nation and depose Amaris himself, followed by summary execution by firing squad.
    • A lesser example is Hohiro Kurita I, regarded as a domineering and austere megalomaniac. He is eventually killed by a member of his own Otomo bodyguard unit, though it does not ease the suffering of the people by much—his successor Takashi Kurita proved to be just as brutal in his own ways.

  • In Stephen Sondheim's musical Assassins, John Wilkes Booth believes he is doing this when he kills Abraham Lincoln, comparing the situation to Julius Caesar.
    "Hunt me down, smear my name. Say I did it for the fame, what I did was kill the man who killed my country! Now the Southland can end! Now this bloody war can end! Because someone slew the tyrant, just as Brutus slew the tyrant!"
  • Julius Caesar is about Marcus Brutus and Caius Cassius assassinating Julius Caesar because they think he has become a tyrant of Rome. The play is Based on a True Story.
  • In Pippin, the title character tries to liberate the people by killing his father Charles and becoming king in his place. It doesn't work out well, but the play's No Fourth Wall nature gives him the opportunity to undo it.

    Video Games 
  • Subverted in Beyond: Two Souls. The CIA sends Jodie on a mission to eliminate a tyrannical warlord in a war-torn African country. After she completes the mission, she learns that the man she killed was actually a democratically elected president who was seen as the last hope for his country to ever achieve peace and stability. She doesn't take the news well.
  • In the background of BioShock, Bill McDonagh, angry at Andrew Ryan mismanaging the civil war with Atlas by refusing to negotiate, attempted to kill him but failed and ended up pinned against the wall of his office.
    • In the novel adaptation, Bill simply beat his head with his gun but doesn't dare shoot his old friend. Afterward, given Ryan's bodyguards were Bill's family friends, they shot him instead of pinning him alive.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day. After taking down the Fabled Panther King, Conker is made the new King and everyone seems happy now that they're free, everyone except Conker himself, who doesn't really want to be king, mainly because he is depressed over his girlfriend being killed.
  • In Democracy, according to the extremists' point of view.
  • The player is able to slay rulers in Dwarf Fortress Adventure mode; some of these rules can be demons or other dark creatures.
  • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance has the main protagonist, Ike, defeat the tyrannical Ashnard to free Crimea.
  • In the Halo series, two of the High Prophets of the Covenant, dogmatic leaders that were responsible for the war with humanity and the betrayal of the Elites, are assassinated. Master Chief assassinates the Prophet of Regret in Halo 2 as part of a UNSC mission, while Truth is summarily executed by the Arbiter towards the climax of Halo 3 in order to cement the Covenant's defeat.
  • In Jagged Alliance 2, Queen Deidranna of Banana Republic Arulco has transformed the formerly peaceful nation into a militaristic dictatorship. former husband and king Enrico Chilvaldori, after escaping execution on her orders, hires a band of mercenaries to remove Deidranna from power, by whatever means necessary.
  • Mega Man Zero 4:
    • In the climax, Craft rebels against the current ruler of Neo Arcadia, Dr. Weil, and hijacks the control system of Ragnarok in order to kill him. In a subversion, not only does Neo Arcadia get utterly destroyed in the process, Weil survived the attack thanks to his regenerative armor. In the end, Weil does get killed by Zero, but by then the country is already no more.
    • Downplayed with the previous ruler of Neo Arcadia, Copy X. He does try to make the empire close to a utopia... but he's so oppressive to Reploids in that he considers retiring minor, innocent Reploids is a good solution for the energy crisis. Then Zero slays him in the first game. In the second game, his second in command Harpuia assumes the role in secret, where the empire becomes less oppressive under him. In the third game, this is fully played straight — Copy X is revived by Dr. Weil and becomes worse; he now considers human society a fair game, as seen when he demolished an entire city block with a missile just to get the Dark Elf. Zero slays him again, only for Weil to take his place.
  • Mortal Kombat 11: During most of the game, the tyrannical Shao Kahn usurps back the throne from its previous ruler, Kotal Kahn, who was a fair ruler. During most of the game's story mode, Shao Kahn is seen oppressing the denizens of Outworld in order to rebuild their armies for Kronika's purposes. Then he's confronted by Kitana, after Kotal Kahn is freed from his shackles. After a gruesome fight, Kitana slashes Shao Kahn's throat, killing him for good.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: The Jedi Knight's story ends with them confronting and killing the Sith Emperor himself. Come The Shadow of Revan, though, it turns out he's Not Quite Dead, and now his spirit has escaped into the galaxy to get up to who knows what sort of mischief.
    • In the Zakuul Saga, the Emperor reveals his master plan was to build a second Empire that swallows up and oppresses both the Republic and the Sith with precursor tech. Your character or the crown prince assassinates Emperor Valkorion, who then possesses you and intends to Grand Theft Me your ass. Then you murder his soul by throwing the Force of his angry, abused family on his ass.
  • In the climax of Starcraft II Heart Of The Swarm, Kerrigan storms Korhal Palace and finally kills Emperor Arcturus Mengsk after all the crap he put through on her, her allies, and the entire Korpal Sector.
  • This is what the guerilleros want to happen to El Presidente of Tropico.

  • Kaiten Mutenmaru: The rebels in Sick's backstory not only planned to kill the Solitude family and burn their house but also killed their young peer in a blind rage. This, along with their triumphant return, implies that they succeeded in killing Pain and Yamai for their tyranny over the town of Throne, leaving Sick an orphan and the only survivor of the family.

    Web Original 
  • Pirates SMP: The island state of Naya is effectively a military dictatorship ruled over by the Armada, itself headed by ten commanders. The finale reveals that Kuervo killed eight of the commanders in their sleep after finding out they were responsible for his Cool Big Bro's death, before being violently caught on the ninth and sent on the run. Going from star indoctrinated Child Soldier to outlaw Defector from Decadence in one night, by the canon era, he fully intends to kill the last two commanders, and aims to free the island state after completing his quest for vengeance.
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-2578 is an alien aircraft drone manned by the ☽☽☽ Initiative that executes (via an energy weapon) any rulers who it judges to be tyrannical. Interestingly, it always warns its targets 72 hours in advance and will cancel the assassination if the target resigns or repents of their crimes. The Foundation hasn't found any way to contain SCP-2578 yet, so they focus instead on disguising these executions as completely mundane assassination plots.

    Western Animation 
  • In the backstory of Steven Universe, Rose Quartz killed Pink Diamond six thousand years ago to end the Great Offscreen War and free the Earth from her rule. Unfortunately, she was only leading a small part of an interstellar empire, and the other rulers decided to Salt the Earth in retribution. Then things get more complicated when it's revealed that both Rose and Pink Diamond were one and the same...
  • In The Legend of Korra, Zaheer murders the Earth Queen, a tyrant who conscripted her own citizens to be part of a private army. After her death, the city of Ba Sing Se descends into anarchy. With the rest of the Earth Kingdom falling into chaos.

    Real Life 
  • In the 6th century BC, Athens was rules by brothers Hippias and Hipparchus. A pair of lovers, Harmodius and Aristogeiton tried to assassinate them but only managed to kill Hipparchus. After Hippias was overthrown and democracy was re-established in Athens, Harmodius and Aristogeiton were celebrated as tyrannicides.
  • In the latter days of The Roman Republic Brutus and Cassius famously assassinated Gaius Julius Caesar in the Roman Senate chambers on the grounds that he was a tyrant. They were forced to retract this charge when it became clear that the Caesarian faction had overwhelming military support, drafting a reconciliation that ratified Caesar's decrees (whereas a tyrant's decrees would be thrown out as obviously illegitimate) and granted the conspirators amnesty for the murder as well as appointments to governorships. Brutus and Cassius were killed themselves several years later by the Caesarions when they outlived their usefulness.
  • During The Hundred Years War, Louis, duc d'Orléans was assassinated in Paris by agents of Jean sans Peur ("the Fearless"), duc de Bourgogne. This assassination was welcomed by students in Paris and by several merchants who were friendly with the Duc de Bourgogne. A theologian, Jean Petit, presented a case before a Church Committee that the death of the duc d'Orléans was a justifiable act of tyrannicide citing his unpopularity among Parisiens and submitting him to a Historical Villain Upgrade. Jean sans Peur on his arrival in Paris, was granted a reward and since he was backed by soldiers, his argument actually won the day. It did trigger, however, a Civil War between the Burgundians and the Armagnac faction (who regrouped with the Orleans family) and years later, Jean sans Peur would himself be assassinated on his way to discuss peace.
  • The executions of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette during The French Revolution are very often misinterpreted as this. The truth is way more complex.
  • John Wilkes Booth apparently believed he was doing this when he shot President Abraham Lincoln at the end of the American Civil War, as he shouted "Sic semper tyrannis!", the motto of Virginia, after he did the deed. In his journal, Booth compared himself to Brutus and William Tell.
  • In the 20th century, the July 1918 mass shooting of the Romanovs by Lenin's Red Guards during World War I's last months, the lynching of Mussolini and his mistress in April 1945 during World War II's last months, and the Christmas Day, 1989 executions of Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his equally unpopular wife Elena in that year's Romanian Revolution were seen by supporters as tyrannicides.


Video Example(s):


The Death of Sargon of Akkad

Unwilling to stand by and watch his king continue his mad quest of conquest, Ushar, who had once spared Sargon's life, finally ends it.

How well does it match the trope?

3.75 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheKingslayer

Media sources: