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Kings are portrayed in one of two ways in works of fiction. There's the morally repugnant, power mad, gluttonous, psychotic sadist and on the opposite side of the coin there's this trope.
The Good King is honorable, virtuous, wise and understanding. He cares about his subjects no matter how seemingly unimportant they are and puts their well-being above his own. He governs the land fairly, is a Royal Who Actually Does Something and is often very modest about his rank and position. He also tends to be soft spoken, but when a Good King raises his voice, you’d better listen. Remember, 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 normally skilled and efficient in combat.
Any work where the king has been killed by an Evil Prince, 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.
Like The High Queen, the Good King runs the risk of being a Mary Sue if his writers are not careful. Because of this the Good King will rarely be the main character but may serve as The Mentor to the protagonist. If the protagonist is one of his children expect his Papa Wolf tendencies to come into play.
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 White Prince, The Wise Prince, and all Princess Tropes. The next step up is The Emperor.
- In One Piece, King Nefeltari 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.
- Same with King Neptune of Fishman Island, who used his own body to shield his subjects from an attack.
- Kimba and his father before him from Kimba the White Lion.
- 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.
- Ambrose/Flycatcher in Vertigo's Fables series (He even got a TPB/Storyarc called "The Good Prince").
- King Cole is shown to be a Good King, back when he still had a kingdom.
- Marvel's Black Panther, superhero and ruler of Wakanda.
- In The Mighty Thor, we have Odin, king of the Aesir.
- In The Inhumans, there's Black Bolt, king of the eponymous Inhumans.
- In Jack Kirby's New Gods, there is Highfather, ruler of New Genesis.
- Conan the Barbarian eventually becomes this.
- In Scion, there is King Dane of the Heron Dynasty.
- In Aquaman, we have Arthur Curry, the eponymous hero, who is also king of Atlantis.
- Namor's attitude of 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.
- After becoming king of the Planet Sakaar The Hulk actively worked to rebuilt his new kingdom, maintain peace with the resident Starfish Aliens and was more than willing to spend the rest of his life ruling Sakaar peacefully. Unfortunately it didn’t take long for Sakaar to be destroyed by an outside source. Or was it an outside source?
- Hulk also becomes this in House of M, where he becomes ruler of Australia after overthrowing the mutant government there, turning it into one of the last free bastions of human society in Magneto's mutant dominated world.
- Ned Stark in the Game of Thrones / A Song of Ice and Fire Fan Fiction The Joinery. His in-universe nickname is even "the Good King," though it is used more sardonically by the end of the story.
Film — Animated
- In The Lion King, Mufasa embodies this trope. The sequels show that Simba is following in his father's footsteps.
- The emperor from Disney's Mulan was more concerned with protecting his people from the invading Huns than with his own safety.
- Other Disney kings include:
- The Prince of the Forest from Bambi.
- Kings Stefan (Princess Aurora's father) and Hubert (Prince Phillip's father) from Sleeping Beauty.
- Arthur "Wart" Pendragon from The Sword in the Stone.
- King Richard the Lionheart (a literal lion) from Robin Hood.
- King Triton from The Little Mermaid, although he's somewhat of a Jerkass at first.
- The Sultan in Aladdin is an interesting example; he was always nice, but in the movie was sort of insignificant because he had been controlled by an Evil Vizier so long. Then in the series, he actually develops into The Good King.
- Zeus from Hercules.
- Kashekhim Nedakh and later on his son-in-law, Milo (due to him marrying Kida, Kashekhim's daughter) from Atlantis the Lost Empire.
- The King of Maldonia (Prince Naveen's father) from The Princess and the Frog.
- Rapunzel's father from Tangled.
- Pixar example: King Fergus (Merida's father) from the upcoming film Brave.
- Jack Skellington the Pumpkin King from The Nightmare Before Christmas.
- King Harold from the Shrek films.
Folklore and Mythology
- While not the original, King Arthur is the Trope Codifier and adaptations featuring him usually portray him as this.
- Richard the Lion Heart in Robin Hood and its adaptations. Particularly in contrast to his brother John.
- While he was a big of a dick, the titular character in The Epic of Gilgamesh essentially became this to his people after meeting Enkidu (though he still bragged a lot).
- In The Chronicles of Narnia, Peter and Edmund become Good Kings after the events of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (with their sisters Susan and Lucy becomes High Queens). Prince Caspian also fits this trope after he comes to power.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, Rob Stark, Stannis Baratheon and Renly Baratheon all see themselves as this. Of course, given the Grey and Grey Morality of the series, all three are debatable.
- Stannis actually never considers himself a good king. He considers himself the rightful king. That's a huge difference in Stannis' eyes.
- 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. However, while everyone knows or suspects that he’s the king he doesn’t want the job and is content with being Captain of the City Watch while Lord Vetinari rules the city.
- There’s also King Verence of Lancre. He may not be the most confident king since the people of Lancre see a king as another civil service job, but gods know he's trying.
- 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.
- In Feet of Clay, the golems create a another golem with the intent of making him a Good King. He didn't exactly turn out the way they hoped.
- The Appendices for The Lord of the Rings says that Aragorn and Éomer become this for Gondor and Rohan after the One Ring is destroyed.
- Theoden, 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.
- Some of 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.
- Eon in Belisarius Series.
- Later Kungas too, though Kungas was a bit more grim and ruthless then Eon. Rao as well by being married to Shakuntala.
- Deltora Quest: Lief grows into this after the first seven books reveal he's the heir to the throne.
- Babar is the king of the elephants.
- A few in The Bible: Melchizedek of Salem, David (barring his Uriah Gambit) and Solomon of unified Israel, Jehoshophat and Hezekiah of Judah, and Jehu of Israel. The ascended Jesus is the ultimate example.
- Tortall's Jonathan of Conté wanted to be this since the beginning as at the end of the first book he says that his 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 demonds.
- When Conan the Barbarian becomes the king of Aquilonia 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.
- The aptly-named King Håkon the Good, as described in Heimskringla, who 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.
Live Action TV
- Downton Abbey: Robert counts as this, though he is technically an earl.
- Star Trek: to the Klingons, Kahless is seen as a combination of this and The Messiah. 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.
- Babylon 5: Emperor Turhan of the Centauri, near the end of his life he wanted to formally apologize to the Narn and their government for what the Centauri, and his family, did to the Narn people and homeworld during their occupation. The first step towards healing both races and true peace. To say he didn't get a chance to would be a grave understatement...
- As of season four of Merlin, Arthur is this - though he still makes plenty of mistakes along the way.
- From the same show, King Uther is a Deconstruction; in many ways he was a good king, but not a very nice man.
- 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)
- People who turn up at the end and become king are often suggested to be this sort of king, such as Malcolm in Macbeth and Richmond in Richard III.
- The title character in Pericles, before having a mental breakdown when he learns of his daughter's death 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.
- 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.
- Fable III portrays the Player Character's father (the Hero of Fable II) as this. The PC may also fit this trope if they choose to.
- King Graham of Daventry, naturally. His son, Alexander, also becomes this for the Green Isles in the sixth game.
- Lord British of the Ultima games is intended to be this, though some disagree.
- The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion: Emperor Uriel Septim VII and his son Martin. The latter of whom sacrifices himself to defeat Mehrunes Dagon.
- Skyrim has various Jarls (read: kings of particular counties of the province of Skyrim) that adhere to this. 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.
- Par for the course in most Dragon Quest games. The king who sends you on your quest is usually good.
- Final Fantasy I, the good kind is the one who originally sends you on your quest.
- 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.
- In the Mario franchise, the King of the Mushroom Kingdom is a swell guy...even though we don't see much of him.
- Zelda's father in The Legend of Zelda games. Other notable examples are Darunia (King of the Gorons), King Zora and the King of Red Lions.
- Dragon Age: King Maric, who died before the events of Dragon Age, 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 clearly thought he was this trope; unfortunately he was another trope entirely.
- Alistar may become this if the player makes the right decisions during the game.
- Kingdom Hearts portrays Mickey Mouse as this. With some Warrior Prince mixed in for good measure.
- 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.
- King Alteon of Swordhaven in the Artix Entertainment games, but especially Adventure Quest Worlds.
- 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.
- If Cale'Anon of Looking for Group isn't this already, he soon will be.
- In The Gamers Alliance, Khasra Mallorein III of Scundia is a pretty decent and wise fellow even though he tends to also be a Deadpan Snarker and occasionally seduces and has sex with other people's wives. Gerard Aurelac of Maar Sul also becomes a good king when he's finally given the crown and the throne. Marcus Sarillius of Remon is also this whenever he isn't being manipulated by ambitious and/or villainous people.
- The Benevolent Overlord List.
- Flashbacks in the Minecraft-inspired music video The Fallen Kingdom establish that the protagonist was The Good King. He would have died fighting to protect his kingdom, but fate left him alive.
- 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.
- Yet as the events of the canonical Interquel graphic novel trilogy Avatar: The Last Airbender The Promise shows, being a good king can actually cause conflicts, as trying to do right by their own people sets Fire Lord Zuko and Earth King Kuei at loggerheads over the Fire Nation colonies built on Earth Kingdom land.
- Truth in Television: most constitutional monarchs are excellent statesmen and tend to be benevolent.
- Bhumibol Adulyadej, current king of Thailand. He is known for 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.
- Though the position has occasionally been occupied by bad hats, most surviving Constitutional Monarchies turn out rulers that are harmless at worst. This is because the limitations on their authority only allow them to affect the country when the people are on their side and their highly cultured upbringing tends to give them refined and respectable personalities even if they are incompetent. Heads of State in countries where the true power is with a separate Head of Government also tend to be benevolent.
- George VI, king of England during World War II. As shown in The King's Speech, he was humble, modest to the point of being shy and suffered from a speech impediment. Very much Truth in Television, 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 European Union.
- 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
- 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."
- Some Roman emperors, including Augustus and the Five Good Emperors (Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius).