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Ultimate Authority Mayor

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"Can I interrupt? I'm kidding. Of course I can, I'm the Mayor! Mayors can do anything!"
Mayor Mike, Team Fortress 2

Fiction often focuses on a local setting; the action may rarely, if ever, move beyond the borders of the town where the main characters live. In these cases, the highest authority appearing in the work — often the local mayor — is treated as if he has absolute authority over his domain. They never have to worry about overstepping their authority, or having their decisions overruled by the county, state, or — God forbid — federal government. If such lofty figures show up at all, it will probably be in the form of an Obstructive Bureaucrat who buzzes around for a while before being subdued, allowing things to return to normal.

This allows the characters to interact directly with the person in charge, without having to deal with annoyances like referendums or town councils. Whether they have a brilliant scheme that needs a powerful backer or they're trying to deal with the mayor's latest crackpot scheme to revitalize the town, they'll be able to (and, in fact, be forced to) go straight to the mayor himself instead of dealing with bureaucracy or procedure. Expect such a mayor to be around forever, heedless of minor details like elections or competence.

Other settings may use other authority figures; the principal in a school setting, or the base commander in a military setting, for example. Often overlaps with Permanent Elected Official.

Subtrope to There Is No Higher Court.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The various Kage in Naruto fill a number of roles in their society but unless they're actually being called upon to command an army in their capacity as the nation's supreme military commander they're principally the mayor of their village. Because of their great political power at a national level (not to mention their usually era defining skill at ninjutsu) their power is pretty much absolute.
  • Mayor Corset of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt is the Big Bad of the series, an S&M-obsessed demon whose plans involve using Brief's penis to unlock the gates of hell and unleash an Eldritch Abomination.

    Comic Books 
  • The Flash: After Gregory Wolfe, the warden of Iron Heights was elected mayor of Central City, his first official act was to commute the sentences of the Rogues, who have likely committed state and possibly even federal level crimes that a mayor should have no jurisdiction over; and then deputise them into the CCPD, despite the fact that their extensive criminal records should disqualify them from any law enforcement work. Justified when it's revealed that the Lords of Order are behind his election and have likely manipulated events to prevent higher authorities getting involved.
  • One issue of The Simpsons Comics reveals that the mayor of Springfield has the authority to suspend one of the amendments to the US Constitution within the town. Mayor Quimby made it legal for soldiers to quarter themselves in Springfielder's residences against their will, and when Lisa becomes de facto mayor, she outlaws guns.

    Fan Works 
  • Played With in Scarlet Lady: Chloé assumes that this is the case with her father, and constantly uses the threat of getting him involved to boss and blackmail others into giving in to her demands. She gets quite the shock when Officer Roger informs her that they looked it up and learned that the Mayor doesn't actually have the authority to fire them like she keeps threatening.

    Films — Animated 
  • The mayor in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs even lampshades this. At one point he mentions spending the entire town budget on a project "without consulting anyone", and later funds another project by taking out a "very high interest loan".
  • Inverted in Horton Hears a Who! (2008) where, in Whoville, the town council bosses the mayor around and he has no say in any decisions.
  • O'Hare in The Lorax (2012) seems to have so much power, he is able to ban people from leaving town.
  • The mayor of Halloweentown in The Nightmare Before Christmas is of this type. In his case, though, there's only one person who theoretically has a higher position of authority than he does - Jack, the Pumpkin King, who does everything that needs to be done anyway.
  • Zootopia appears to have this. There seems to be no higher authority than the Mayor, and no mention of any higher court system.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Boss Nigger: Boss makes it illegal for any "whitey" to use the "N-word".
  • Jaws has Vaughan, who makes it very clear to Chief Brody that he, Brody, cannot close off the beaches indefinitely on his own authority as police chief. However, several fatal shark attacks later, Brody makes use of the trope to pressgang Vaughan into signing off on hiring Quint without running it past the other councilmembers first.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Sherriff Lucas Buck from American Gothic (1995). Pretty much the raison d'etre of the show.
  • The Andy Griffith Show: The pilot episode from its parent show, Make Room For Daddy, has the earlier show's main character, Danny Williams (played by comedian and nightclub singer Danny Thomas) arrested by the town's sheriff, Andy Taylor (played by Andy Griffith). In the pilot only, he serves not only as sheriff, but mayor, justice of the peace and even newspaper editor, which (to Danny's dismay) he learns as he tries to get out of paying a large fine for failure to stop at a stop sign. Andy explains that this is scaled justice ... that is, a Mayberry citizen or someone he knows to have a meager income might only have to pay very little (Andy explains the standard fine is $5, which is sizable for a violator but not enough to break them), as he knows Danny is very wealthy, he bumped the fine to $100, which Danny can easily afford and can serve as an effective punishment for breaking a traffic law.
  • Oliver Queen on Arrow. His mayoral staff is full of his family and friends, most of whom have criminal records, have been kicked out of other branches of local and federal service, and have no political experience whatsoever. He makes unilateral decisions for the city that would realistically have to be put to voter referendum and intentionally undercuts the city council when he doesn't like their decisions. He only ran because all the other candidates where either blatantly evil villains, murdered during their campaign or both and he's been under suspicion or indictment nearly his entire term.
  • Sinclair, Sheridan and Lochley in Babylon 5. In this case, because they are the commanding officers of the space station, which is an Earth military base despite also functioning as a commerce hub and meeting place for the various major powers, and because during the Shadow War they declare independence from the fascist regime that's taken over Earth.
  • Affably Evil Mayor Richard Wilkins in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He has been making Sunnydale a haven for demonic activity for a century.
  • On The Dukes of Hazzard, Boss Hogg's title was County Commissioner and was apparently the highest authority to cheat and steal from everyone.
  • Justified in the Goosebumps multi-part episode "Chillogy", whose Monster of the Week, known only as Karl, is the mayor of a miniature town that sucks kids into it so he can torment and kill them. Since Karlsville itself is a supernatural environment controlled by Karl, he's a full-blown Reality Warper while inside of it.
  • The show In the Flesh depicts UK MPs and Parish Councils as having far more power and day-to-day involvement in their districts than they actually do in reality. Although, following a Zombie Apocalypse, it is likely that some decentralization of power occurred during the collapse of society.
  • A lighthearted example occurs in LazyTown with Mayor Milford Meanswell. He's the only elected official in the area—there's no sign of a town council or any sort of state or federal government—and yet has time to interact with all of the other characters on a daily basis. He's also largely ineffective as an authority figure, considering that he hasn't done anything to keep Robbie Rotten from scheming to get rid of Sportacus and keep everyone in town as lazy as possible, although since Robbie's a Harmless Villain, it's understandable. Unlike most examples of this trope, though, Milford is a genuinely Nice Guy who does the best he can to keep the citizens of Lazytown happy and healthy.
  • Regina in Once Upon a Time. Justified in that the spell she cast did actually cut Storybrooke off from the outside world and the normal passage of time.
    • In Hyperion Heights, Victoria Belfrey also has this distinction, though her authority is much weaker since the good guys are active earlier and she didn't cast the curse that created the town; her daughter did.
  • Subverted by the various Number Twos in The Prisoner (1967), at first glance they are dictators with total authority over the Village, however, they are in fact frequently rotated middle management types that answer to some higher authority. And of course there is the question of "Who is Number One?"note 
    • The single 2 in The Remake is a much straighter example.

  • The Mayoress Cora Hoover Hooper from Anyone Can Whistle appears to be this, until she gets a telegram from the governor.

    Video Games 
  • As of Batman: Arkham City, Quincy Sharp, now Mayor of Gotham City, was somehow allowed to buy up a chunk of the city, throw in every criminal and mental patient in Gotham, including the supervillains and have the area fenced off, surrounded by armed guards. Note that he also throws in political prisoners; including people who built the prison, and Bruce Wayne for protesting it, all without the benefit of a trial. Though it was mentioned that the city was under Martial Law at the time.
  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!: Huxter T. Meredith, who is the Mayor of Concordia, biggest city on Elpis. And also the Sheriff. Although he can shut the city down on a whim and steals from charities with impunity, he's ultimately a pretty pathetic example- from the sound of it, he's a pawn of the Hyperion corporation, and gets humiliated when the player exposes his affair with a Sexbot.
  • In Fable, the Mayor of Bowerstone has enough power to order that a Conspiracy Theorist be executed without trial. The position also seems to be inherited, so the title is perhaps closer to a Just the First Citizen affectation.
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout 3 has Lucas Simms, the Cowboy Cop who is both mayor and sheriff of the town of Megaton. The "ultimate authority" part is pretty much justified by the game's After the End setting. Mayor MacCready tries to be this, but he's really just a bully in what he admits is general anarchy.
    • In theory the higher authority would be John Henry Eden, President of the United States and leader of the Enclave. Aside from the dubious legitimacy of his election (among other dubious things), the Enclave is BAD business for anyone except the Enclave, and no one with any sense would try to take their issues to their doorstep.
    • Fallout: New Vegas has Mister House, who keeps an iron grip on his control of New Vegas. He tends to be pretty laid back about things as long as his authority isn't directly challenged, though.
    • Fallout 4 has a downplayed version in Mayor John Hancock. His rule of Goodneighbor is absolute but lightly enforced; he deliberately leaves his people to their own devices most of the time, only stepping in when he feels their actions threaten the city as a whole, and attempts to avoid abuse of that power to differentiate himself from his brother in Diamond City. In fact, the reason he becomes a companion to the Sole Survivor is because he's worried that he's become too comfortable with being in power and has started to become a tyrant; he steps down for a while to 'keep himself real.'
  • Mayor Mike Haggar from Final Fight. Stepping out of his authority here means you get a giant fist or your bones shattered with his wrestling skills or being smacked with an iron pipe he grabs nearby. Which happens a lot to Mad Gear gang. As Final Fight shares a universe with Street Fighter, and Mayor Haggar himself is a former participant of the World Warrior Tournament, you have to wonder what the Mad Gear is thinking, provoking a Charles Atlas Super Human as World Warriors like Ryu and the others are bound to be...
  • Zao in Freedom Planet has the title of Mayor and is indeed in charge of a major metropolitan area, but everybody seems to treat him as if he's a world leader, including himself. This includes other world leaders seeing him as an equal. That being said, Zao's jurisdiction of Shang Mu has been in a long war with some of the neighboring countries with all parties in roughly a stalemate, suggesting that his city and its surrounding areas have the resources and manpower equal to a country.
  • The mayor in the various Harvest Moon games is always this, generally of the more benevolent type.
    • To the extreme in Harvest Moon DS. He is the mayor of Mineral Town but visits Forget-Me-Not Valley regularly to act as mayor there too at the same time.
  • In Kingdom Hearts, nearly every world has its own king or mayor who acts as this. Subverted for Laughs in Kingdom Hearts II with Halloween Town, when the Mayor is freaking out and begging Jack to help with The Heartless because he's "only an elected official."
  • The player is one in the SimCity series.
  • Veronica, as Guildmistress, is a benign version of this for Oak Tree Town in Story of Seasons (2014). She's the one to handle all the details about land assignment, competitions, vendors, and other day-to-day operations in the town. She's even the one who performs the ceremony should the player character get married.
  • The Mayor role in Town of Salem starts off hidden as any other member of the town, with the day ability of choosing to reveal themselves. If done, the town will get a message that the player is the Mayor, and their votes will count as three votes as opposed to one for lynching. Doing so not only makes them inevitably a target for any evil role, but also will prevent the revealed Mayor from being healed by a doctor or receiving whispers. Any other Town Protection role, a Guardian Angel, and Jailor protecting them by jailing them are fair game.

  • In Freefall, the (so far nameless) mayor is the only government authority figure that has been seen and hasn't been shown to have to answer to a city council or higher authority for her actions, although there is mention of a governor of the planet Jean on which the comic is set. It's justified, as the average town here on Earth has more people than the entire planet Jean; they don't really need a higher authority.
  • Sonichu has the Author Avatar. The mayor rules a total Egopolis where everything from the radio station to the currency to the most popular soda to the city itself is named after him, and the laws (based purely on his own values and Squicks) are enforced via psychic monitoring. A city council is mentioned, but only seems to serve an advisory function, and according to Word of God, he inherited the position from his father. His authority is primarily exercised by slaughtering the avatars of those who've pissed off the author in real life in the most horrific ways. As he is above the law, no one ever blinks an eye. Oh, and we the audience are intended to root for him.
  • Team Fortress 2: Mayor Mike and everyone in the town of Teufort believe he has absolute authority over everything until someone explains that he doesn't. One man even fakes having an Italian accent for years on Mayor's orders, despite hating it, because nobody realized the Mayor can't make someone do that. Nobody questioned Mike's absolute power because they're all brain damaged due to a tainted water supply.

    Web Original 
  • The Mayor of Ink City presents himself as one of these, though he prefers interacting with the residents on his terms — rather than letting them bring their questions and grievances directly to him, he tends to show himself primarily to rebuke and remind them of their place. It helps that he can control the ink monsters.
    • Ultimately though, he works for a much more powerful force: the mods. He also ensures the muns are somewhat satisfied.
  • SCP-3088 takes it to the logical conclusion with a city where every law had the effect of Rewriting Reality. Until the mayor triggered a Reality-Breaking Paradox, that is.

    Western Animation 
  • Mayor White from Doug. Unusually for this trope, he's eventually voted out and replaced by Doug's neighbor, Mrs. Dink.
  • Mayor Adam West in Family Guy. Since this is Family Guy (and Adam West), he's insane, but no one seems to care, except Brian Griffin, and even then, not all the time. His power as mayor is also rather extreme in that he even has the power to rewrite laws (on a whim, no less), such as banning and/or legalizing gay marriage and marijuana.
  • Mayor Mellow in Grojband. He holds every position of authority in Peaceville, from chief of police to head of post office, and seems to be able to anything he wants without anyone to stop him, like buying a diamond-encrusted unicorn cage for the zoo, ordering a house quarantined for chicken pox, declaring war on a micronation, and forcing everyone to celebrate a second New Year's Eve due to a misprint in the town calendar.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: "Malediktator" shows that Chloé and her mother certainly seem to believe that Mayor Bourgeois has unlimited authority, as they demand he shut down the school and banish Marinette. Unfortunately for them, he can't do that, and he knows full well that even trying would most likely result in him losing his position as mayor.
  • The Mayor of Townsville from The Powerpuff Girls generally doesn't do much to exercise his authority, but in the 1998 series' episode "Bought and Scold" he literally sells his position to Princess Morbucks, who is then able to make all crimes legal in the city.
  • Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town: Burgermeister Meisterburger lives and breathes this trope. Not only does he have the power to ban toys "throughout the land, from sea to sea", but he can and does initiate a worldwide manhunt for Santa Claus... to no avail in the end, but still. Of course, immediately after he dies, people start to smarten up and realize the absurdity of the whole thing.
  • Mayor Jones is the be-all end-all authority in the town of Crystal Cove in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated; he even personally orders the sheriff around, rather than the sheriff listening to, y'know, the people who elected him. Played with in that not everyone listens to him and an early episode sees him seeking re-election and using the diamond the protagonists found as a result of their mystery solving as a publicity stunt for that cause.
  • The Simpsons:
  • Two Legs Joe from Spliced is essentially treated as the ruler of Keepaway Island despite being officially described as just the mayor of its only settlement. However, given that the Mad Scientist who created him and the rest of the island's inhabitants is gone, it seems to be he was placed in that position because he could protect the other mutants from threats with his superpowered stomping.
  • Mayor Manx of Megakat City in SWAT Kats seems to be the highest power the Enforcers answer to in the show; not even a governor seems to be around. Of course, given that they were originally not supposed to be on Earth originally (one episode was going to show human astronauts, meaning that the series is set on another planet in the future, but an H-B exec nixed that), one could argue that Megakat might be a sort of city-state.
  • The Mayor in WordGirl appears to be one of these. In one episode, the villain "Mr. Big" does manage to get him out of office using less-than-legal-means, but the original Mayor was restored by the end of the episode.