Speculative Fiction’s Best (and Worst) Politicians

It’s the first Tuesday in November, and for those of us in the States, that means Election Day!

If anyone else is living in a “Battleground State” like I am, you too are probably done with the whole affair. In an attempt to lift the mood here’s a list of the five best and five worst politicians and leaders in Science Fiction and Fantasy. While things could be better, they could also be a lot worse!.

BTW: Don’t find the political figure you think should make the list? Leave a comment and tell us why.

Number 5

Worst: Mayor Cole from City of Ember

When it comes to corruption and embezzling, Cole takes things to a new level. While the city he governs starves and falls apart, he’s stealing food and making a general pig of himself.

Best: Zaphod Beeblebrox from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Hey, he’s just this guy. You know?


Number Four

Worst: Kai Winn Adami from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

One of the coolest things about DS9 was its guest cast. And few casting decisions were as spot-on as Louise Fletcher as the head of the Bajoran Church. As one of my buddies put it: “Holy S**t! They made Nurse Diesel the Pope!”

Best: Thomas Whitmore

In an age with weak-willed politicians and general cowards with no other skills except getting and keeping political office, what’s not to love about a president that can’ fly an F-18 against an alien invasion?

Ever wonder if Bill Pullman regrets the pure, unadulterated cheese that is this speech:

Number Three

Worst: Baron Harkonen from Dune

Everything about this guy is designed to be hideous and repulsive. From his looks, to his attitude to his…ahem…sexual appetites. He thinks nothing of mindless slaughter and galactic war if it means the end of his rival, Duke Leto, and control of the planet Arrakis. This guy’s so evil, that death doesn’t stop him.

I’ll spare everyone’s lunch and not include a video clip here.

Best: Duke Leto Atreides from Dune

Sure, his son and grandson get a lot of the glory, but they had the Spice and specialized training to get where they got. Duke Leto I had only his wits to elevate his house and win the adoration of not one, but two worlds before his untimely end.

Number Two

Worst: Adam J. Susan from V for Vendetta

Fascist? Check. Racist? Check. Homophobe? Check. 50-something virgin that’s in love with his mainframe? Yeah, check.

This guy basically makes the Tea Party look sane.

[Useless Trivia Note: The character’s name was changed from Susan to Sutler in the film version]

Best: King Theoden from The Lord of the Rings

Sure, when we first meet the good king, he’s under a spell, his kingdom is falling apart, and the best of his countrymen are outlaws. But the good king, once freed of Saruman’s spell, thinks only of his people and getting them to safety. Realizing he can’t run forever, he leads his men to almost certain death for the slim chance at victory and freedom. And by lead, I don’t mean “sits in a tent and waits for news.” I mean “gets on a horse and charges into battle at the front of the line.”

Number One

Worst: Emperor Palpatine from the Star Wars Saga

Now, if it weren’t for the prequel series, I wouldn’t have called this guy a politician at all. But as we learn the hard way, there is one smart player behind the Clone War and it’s him. While everyone from Yoda to Anakin are running around confused, Palpatine plays the entire Republic like a harp from hell. Then when the dust settles, he just slides into the big chair with a big fat grin.

That takes some doing.

Best: President Laura Roslin from Battlestar Galactica

Oh, come on. Like there could be anyone else here?

Dying from cancer, the former Secretary of Education becomes president after the near annihilation of human race. Then she leads them all to a new home and makes peace with their one-time enemies, the Cylons.

All this and she wins the heart of one of the toughest bastards in the known universe, William Adama. You, madam President, kick ass. So much so, I’m still hunting down a “Don’t blame me, I voted for Roslin” t-shirt/bumper sticker.

[The video quality sucks, but this is one of favorite Roslin moments]

Honorable Mentions

Padme Amidala, Senator Bail Organa, Mon Mothma, Kai Opaka, Chancellor Gorkon, and John Sheridan

Dishonorable Mentions

Tom Zarek, Baltar/Gaius Baltar (both versions), Brother Cavell, Jar Jar Binks, Chancellor Gowron, Emperor Shaddam IV, and Lex Luthor

10 replies on “Speculative Fiction’s Best (and Worst) Politicians”

  1. Wait a tic – what’s the thinking behind putting Chancellor Gorkon on the dishonorable list? To my mind, he seemed to be a bastion of reasonableness, what with the whole working-for-peace thing. Perhaps you were thinking of Gowron?

  2. Don’t forget that Lex Luthor was president of the DCU USA for awhile. His presidency ended with him donning a purple and green exoskeleton and battling earth’s greatest heroes.

    Ya gotta wonder how the history books and Disney’s Hall of Presidents handle that one.

  3. I would have expected to see Buffy Season 3’s Mayor Richard Wilkins somewhere on the Naughty List. Guy corrupts a Slayer, hires vampiric henchmen, and transmogrifies into a three-story tall demonic snake creature — while all the while coming across as a fey and giddy germaphobe. One of Whedon’s most inspired and deranged creations.

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