What Is The Ruler Archetype in Storytelling? [With 15+ Examples]

ruler archetype

Do you want to write a Ruler archetype character in your short story, novel, or screenplay – but aren’t quite sure what kind of personality and character traits to give them?

As a writer myself, the question comes up – how do you create a Ruler who is both believable and relatable to your readers? After plenty of research and fine-tuning, I’ve discovered some characteristics and motivations that work well for a Ruler archetype. We’ll go over them here and talk about some great Ruler examples from books and movies.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about a Ruler character in a story!

Summary of the Ruler Character

the ruler archetype infographic

The Ruler, also known as the King or the Queen, is a born leader. They run a country, corporation, or family. They’re the one who gives orders and the one you want to follow.

Their strengths are their power and leadership skills, along with effective communication skills to win people over and get their way. Their weaknesses come from a fear of losing that control and paranoia of plots against them. They can be distrustful because of this paranoia.

They’re motivated to create a prosperous and successful family, company, community, or dynasty. They long to keep the peace and order by maintaining their power or getting more power. After all…

“Power isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”

Ruler Archetype Characteristics

Here are the top overall characteristics of the Ruler archetype:

  1. Authoritative: Rulers naturally command respect and authority. Naturally confident, they take charge quickly in situations that require someone to exert leadership.

  2. Strategic: They are excellent at planning and strategizing, always thinking several steps ahead to ensure the success and stability of their domain.

  3. Responsible: Rulers feel a deep sense of duty and responsibility toward those they govern or lead. They often put the needs of their kingdom, organization, or group above their own.

  4. Visionary: They have a clear vision for the future, with ambitious goals for growth, wealth, and success.

  5. Decisive: When faced with tough decisions, Rulers are able to make choices confidently and stand by them.

  6. Influential: With their natural leadership qualities, Rulers have the ability to influence and inspire those around them. They often enjoy leading by example.

  7. Dignified: They carry themselves with dignity and grace, often becoming symbols of stability and reliability in their communities or organizations. They can sometimes come across as too sophisticated or refined next to the common man or woman.

  8. Protective: Rulers are fiercely protective of their domain and people. They are willing to take significant risks to safeguard the people from harm or external threats.

  9. Control-oriented: They have a strong desire to maintain control over their environment and the people within it, sometimes to the point of being overly controlling.

  10. Diplomatic: Rulers can navigate complex social and political landscapes. They use experience, knowledge, influence, and diplomacy to forge alliances and resolve conflicts.

Strengths of the Ruler Archetype

a-powerful-ruler

Power

The Ruler archetype is all about power. These characters often exhibit control and dominance over others in the story. The Ruler is often a king, queen, or boss in a big company. They’re used to being in charge and making big decisions.

This power also entails having the resources to make things happen. They protect their people or kingdom and have a big impact on the world around them.

Example: I think that Mufasa from “The Lion King” is the epitome of a great ruler. He’s the king who keeps peace in the Pride Lands and makes sure everyone is safe. He’s strong and respected, with the ability to influence and intimidate, and he shows what true power is all about. And let’s face it, that voice is as majestic as it gets!

Communication

Rulers are great at communicating. They know how to talk to their people in a way that’s clear and gets their point across. They are typically confident and experienced and not afraid to make a point.

They are also good at listening to what others have to say and then using that information to make better decisions. Good communication helps them keep their kingdom or team working together smoothly.

Example: I always admire how Professor Dumbledore in the “Harry Potter” series communicates with everyone at Hogwarts. He’s got this way of speaking that’s both clear and kind, making sure his messages resonate with students and teachers alike. When I see him listening intently to Harry, offering guidance, or standing up for his students, it’s clear that his communication skills are key to bringing the school together, especially in tough times.

Leadership

Leadership is a big strength for the Ruler archetype. Often portrayed as brave, they’re the ones leading the charge, whether it’s into battle or towards a big goal. They have a vision for the future and know how to inspire others to follow them.

A good Ruler can bring out the best in their people, helping them to achieve more than they thought possible. They use power to make a positive difference in the world.

Example: I see Aragorn from “The Lord of the Rings” as a shining example of the Ruler archetype’s leadership qualities. He’s a natural leader who steps up in the toughest times, guiding his allies with a mix of humility and decisiveness. He’s not afraid to do everything he asks from the people around him, winning over both the story characters and the audience. What stands out to me is how he evolves from a ranger to a king, embodying the true essence of leadership.

Weaknesses of the Ruler Archetype

ruler king

Control at All Costs

Rulers sometimes want to be in charge no matter what. They might think they have to make every single decision or keep an eye on everything to make sure it’s done right. This can make them take on too much, leaving them stressed and overworked.

It can also upset the people around them, who might feel like they’re not trusted to do their jobs. Trying to control everything can backfire, making things less efficient instead of more.

Example: In “The Lion King,” the flipside to Mufasa is his brother Scar, who has neither the wisdom nor the temperament to be a great ruler. He desires power and control more than anything, even if he has no real idea of how to wield it effectively.

Paranoia

Because Rulers have a lot of power, they can sometimes get paranoid. They might start to worry that others are trying to take their power away. This fear can make them see enemies everywhere, even where there aren’t any.

They might make decisions based on this fear instead of what’s really happening. This paranoia can make it hard for them to trust others and can lead to making choices that aren’t in their best interest.

Example: In the “The Lord of the Rings” series, Denethor is a prime example of this negative quality. As Steward of Gondor, he’s the supreme leader, but his paranoia and grief prevent him from trusting anyone or leading his people in the hour of their greatest need. We see him giving in to his fear, and Gondor is almost destroyed as a result.

Distrust

Distrust is another weakness Rulers might have. They might find it hard to trust the people around them, even their closest advisors or friends. This can be lonely and can make it hard to lead well. Without trust, it’s tough to build a strong team or kingdom.

People need to feel trusted to do their best work. When a Ruler doesn’t trust others, it can create a bad atmosphere where no one feels safe or valued.

Example: In the “Harry Potter” series, I see Voldemort as a prime example of a distrustful ruler. Though he’s the most powerful dark wizard, he forges a path based on distrust, envy, and fear. He keeps everyone at arm’s length because he doesn’t actually think they have his best interests at heart. His followers are as scared and selfish as he is, and all their power makes them even more wary of one another instead of bringing them together.

Motivation of the Ruler Archetype

a business ruler

Prosperity and Success

Rulers are driven by a deep desire to create prosperity and success. They want their kingdom, company, or community to thrive and grow. This means they’re always looking for ways to make things better, whether it’s through new laws, better systems, or just making sure everyone has what they need.

They dream of a future where their realm is strong, wealthy, and respected by others. This vision keeps them focused and working hard, always with the goal of creating a better life for their people.

Power

The desire for power is another key motivation for Ruler characters. They see power as a tool to achieve their goals and bring their vision to life. Having power means they can make important decisions, guide their people, and protect their domain from threats.

Rulers are motivated by the idea of using their power to create a lasting legacy, one that will be remembered long after they’re gone.

Examples of the Ruler Archetype

Now, let’s take a look at some famous Ruler archetype examples.

king arthur
  1. King Arthur: King Arthur brings peace to his kingdom and leads his knights with honor. He’s known for his wisdom and fairness.

  2. Mufasa in The Lion King: Mufasa is a wise and powerful king who rules over the Pride Lands with fairness and a deep sense of responsibility.

  3. Peter Pan: Peter rules over Neverland and the Lost Boys. He leads everyone on fun adventures and protects them from Captain Hook.

  4. Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones: Cersei craves power and control, and she uses her cunning and authority to maintain her hold over the Seven Kingdoms.

  5. Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada: As the editor-in-chief of a fashion magazine, Miranda holds immense power in the fashion world. She can make or break careers with her decisions.

  6. Vito Corleone in The Godfather: Vito is the respected head of the Corleone family. He makes decisions that impact both his family and their business interests.

  7. Voldemort in Harry Potter: Voldemort seeks ultimate power and control over the wizarding world, using fear and manipulation to gain followers.

Daenerys Game of Thrones
  1. Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones: Daenerys rises to power with a strong sense of justice. She seeks to free the oppressed and enslaved and reclaim her rightful throne.

  2. Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings: As the rightful heir to the throne of Gondor, Aragorn leads his people with bravery and wisdom.

  3. Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown: The series portrays her as a ruler who navigates the complexities of leading a country and maintaining the stability of the monarchy.

  4. Tony Stark in Iron Man: As the head of Stark Industries and a leader in the Avengers, Tony uses his resources and intellect to protect the entire world.

  5. President Snow in The Hunger Games: Snow maintains strict control over the districts, using fear and power to keep the population in check.

  6. Professor Dumbledore in Harry Potter: Dumbledore leads Hogwarts and the fight against dark forces with wisdom and strong morals.

odysseus
  1. Odysseus in The Odyssey: As the king of Ithaca, Odysseus is known for his leadership and strategic thinking during his journey home from the Trojan War.

  2. King Leonidas in 300: Leonidas is a role model as he leads his Spartans with fierce determination against overwhelming odds.

Final Thoughts

So, that’s the Ruler Archetype in storytelling. The Ruler commands respect and has a strong sense of authority over their people. A ruler is often very confident, and they offer security and confidence to their people. They are also a lot of fun to write!

If you’re looking for more assistance with different kinds of character archetypes for your story, check out some of my other articles in this series, such as the sage archetype, the everyman archetype, and the outlaw archetype.

queen on a throne

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Ruler archetype in storytelling?

The Ruler archetype represents characters who are leaders who wield power and authority. They are often responsible for the well-being of a group or kingdom.

Are Ruler archetypes always positive characters?

Not always. Ruler archetypes can be both heroes (like King Arthur) and villains (like Voldemort from Harry Potter).

How does a Ruler archetype impact the story?

Ruler archetypes often drive the plot by making decisions that affect the fate of other characters and the story’s setting.

Can a character evolve into a Ruler archetype?

Yes, characters like Michael Corleone in The Godfather and Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones evolve into Ruler archetypes as their stories progress.

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