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"People can't handle the reality that we have such broken institutions that an idiot boy-king that is dumber than every one of the most deformed Hapsburgs can rule without challenge because he serves the interests of a political party that has control of every institution that is supposed to check his power... None of it matters. It's a machine that carries forth of its own momentum with no actual civic will behind it. The spirit has totally deserted it. You people thought these institutions work because they have inherent legitimacy and were good institutions, tried and true. No. They work because they serve people in power. And if the dumbest man in the history of the world can just get into the cockpit and start moving the gears around, and the plane keeps going in the same direction, maybe they're not actually hooked up to anything."

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"When you were emperor, it meant something. Subduer of the Xon and the Shoggren. Now–pffft–anyone can be emperor. I can be emperor. Vir can be emperor. If Vir can be emperor... a small Earth cat can be emperor!"
Londo, Babylon 5

Tyrion Lannister: You just sent the most powerful man in Westeros to bed without his supper.
Tywin Lannister: You're a fool if you believe he is the most powerful man in Westeros.
Tyrion: A treasonous statement. Joffrey is king.
Tywin: You really think a crown gives you power?

"The spiritual heart of all Japan—the court of the Emperor at Kyoto, the palace of the living god descended from the sun itself, the throne room of the sacred ruler of the Islands of Nippon!
Of course, a thousand years ago the Emperor's power was wrested from him by the warlord called the Shogun, and since that time the Emperor has ruled in name alone. But ancient duties must still be discharged. Observe how low Lord Abe bows down to the ruler whom he rules."
Reciter, Pacific Overtures

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"I'm Lao Ma, wife of the great Lao. Please forgive my husband for sending his insignificant wife to handle such difficult affairs of state. But he's very ill."

We were saying, "President" Morty, that we don't care who sits in that seat — a Rick, a Morty, a goddamn Jerry, doesn't matter. We've been running the Citadel since before the Council, and you'll find we're still running it now!
Garment District Rick, Rick and Morty, Just before Evil Morty subverts the trope and takes full control of the Citadel

In theory, Endron is run by its president, Max Carson, with the able assistant of his COO, Nicholas Morgan, and his CFO, Justin Chen. [...] The three exert an iron control over Endron headquarters and the organizational framework of the corporation as a whole. What they don't realize is that this is all they control.
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The other element of "official" authority at Endron is the Board. In practice, the Board has the ability to remove the president and his chief advisors at will. In practice, this is all they have the authority to do, because they, like the president himself, have been defanged. Of course, They make sure that both president and Board feel properly empowered, and that serves to hide Their existence.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Subsidiaries: A Guide To Pentex

Prince Clavor: Forgive my ignorance, sagacious teacher! I trusted you to make this work! Was that unwise of me?
Cargn: You will rule not because you desire it, Clavor, but because I do.

In the months that followed their wedding, Alistair and Anora fell into the routine of ruling Ferelden. Anora was a skilled governor, adept at matters of court and more than willing to spend her time judging matters of law from the throne... and Alistair was quite happy to let her do so.
Epilogue, Dragon Age: Origins

Pentos is the most ruthless. The Magisters make a great show of choosing the Prince of Pentos from the Great Families, and granting him the powers of trade, justice and war... as long as he checks with them first. On the New Year, to bring good fortune to Pentos, this Prince must deflower the Maid of the Field and the Maid of the Seas. I confess I don't know how each is chosen, or what becomes of them after serving their purpose. But, if a crop should fail or a war be lost, the Magisters will slit the Prince's throat and choose another.
Ser Jorah Mormont, Game of Thrones: History And Lore Of Westeros - The Free Cities

The king suddenly surprised everyone by standing up, pulling himself to his full regal height and smashing the end of his sceptre into the ground with a conversation-silencing crash. "I," he roared, "am the KING!"
The advisor coughed, unimpressed. "Yes, your majesty, you're the king. A noble, wise king."
“Y—”
“So noble and so wise that he understands exactly the importance of the relationship his kingdom has with the Adventurer's Guild." His tone was bored and civil, but there was a lilt in his last few words that brought to mind a concealed knife flashed momentarily in a sleeve.
His royal wetness sat back down.

The thing about Billy Rock is that he is both dumb and mean. He's the youngest of five brothers, but three of them were killed in the vendetta that gave his family control of South London after they moved in from Hong Kong. The fourth survived being shot in the head and losing most of his forebrain, but he spends most of the time in a room in the basement of the family house, hunting for imaginary enemies and howling like a dog. Which, because his father died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob's, means that Billy Rock is the de facto head of the family.
Billy's uncles handle most of the day-to-day business, and he is left with little to do except indulge in his drug of choice. Crack, mostly, which is how he got his street name, that and his fondness for speed metal.
Fairyland, by Paul J McAuley


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