You think your city's leadership is bad? Just look at these 10 stand-out examples of terrible mayors and awful city leaders from science fiction and urban fantasy. They steal, they kill, they won't give the people air!
Thanks to S.J. Edwards, Elizabeth Bear, DJ Chaotica, Larry-Bob Roberts, Zack Stentz, Daphne Gottlieb, Paul McEnery, James McGirk, Jessy Randall, Kevin Schmidt, Morgan Johnson, Susie Kay, Kat Page and David Fraser for the suggestions!
The Mayor In City Of Ember
He's the textbook example of a corrupt mayor who's only interested in saving his own skin. He knows the underground city of Ember is on its way out, and soon it'll be uninhabitable due to power failures and dwindling supplies. But instead of trying to cope with the problem, the mayor tries to hoard as much stuff for himself as possible, in a secret room — and puts together meaningless commissions to study the problem. Here he is in this video, eating sardines in the grossest possible manner.
Lando Calrissian in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Okay, so Lando is the kind of scoundrel we love to watch. And he's a perfect counterpart for Han Solo. But would you really want him in charge of your city? His Cloud City of Bespin seems like a pretty corrupt, messed-up place. And then he goes inviting Darth Vader and his crew there, which is not good city planning at all. And then after Vader has demolished half the city in his battle with Luke Skywalker, Lando takes off and leaves his city behind. Call that leadership?
Aunty Entity in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome
She does keep the city of Bartertown humming along — except when she gets stuck into an idiotic power struggle with Master/Blaster, and everything grinds to a halt. Plus she rules with an iron fist, and forces people to fight to the death in a deadly arena. That's not the kind of leadership our post-apocalyptic cities need!
Mayor in RoboCop 2
He makes deals with drug dealers and criminals. And then he mismanages the city's finances and winds up handing the entire city over to the evil OCP. This clip pretty much says it all. And when he's in a tight corner, he just loses his shit.
Mayor Wilkins, in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, season 3
Your average terrible mayor may let the city fall apart, or make deals with drug lords, or bulldoze your house for no reason. But a really awful mayor, like Wilkins, makes cozy arrangements with vampires and tries to kill off the town's only protector. And then tries to turn into a demon so he can eat the high-school graduating class. Now that's bad leadership.
Vilos Cohaagen, in Total Recall.
He's an evil administrator of the Mars settlement, keeping the mutants down and ruling with an iron grip. He uses mind-control and brainwashing to keep his minions in line. And worst of all, he won't give the people air. WTF, Cohaagen?
Mayor Bentham Rudgutter, in Perdido Street Station by China Miéville.
He's always described as sitting "regally on his throne," or sitting "behind his desk with an air of utter command." He rules over New Crobuson, with its corruption and oppression — and he's not averse to making deals with the city's crime syndicates as well as its demons. He systematically rounds up dissidents and has them tortured, and he's not above imposing martial law if the situation gets out of hand.
Father in Equilibrium
Father rules over the city-state of Libria and outlaws all human emotion, even the love of a small puppy. To this end, he keeps the people doped up on a drug called Prozium, and keeps everyone under constant surveillance. (Similar to other figureheads like Big Brother in 1984, or Mustapha Mond in Brave New World — except that Father just rules over one city.) The only good thing "Father" has going for him is his kick-ass gun-centric martial art, gun-kata. Woo hoo!
Judge Cal, In Judge Dredd
This character, closely based on the Roman emperor Caligula, seized power after he had the Chief Judge of Mega-City One assassinated. In Mega-City One, the Chief Judge has absolute authority — an arrangement that's caused some problems on several occasions. So Judge Cal goes completely nuts, making it a crime to criticize him and appointing a goldfish as his deputy. He even shoots Judge Dredd! Dude!
Mayor Prentiss in The Knife Of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness.
Prentisstown is not a nice place to begin with — there are no women, and the males can all hear each other's thoughts all the time, whether they want to or not. But Mayor Prentiss makes matters worse, by figuring out a way to control men's minds. He declares himself President and invades the neighboring settlement of Haven, where there are some women. And that's just the beginning of his reign of terror. Runner up: The mayors in Truancy by Isamu Fukui.