While freedom is a noble thing to strive for, it is a matter for philosophers to debate whether we can truly be free without a force to control our actions. With so much to organise within a society it’s a full time job just to keep it all together, and it’s not a job for one person, no matter how much a tyrant might proclaim divine right or absolute power.
Join us dear readers, as we explore some of the greatest, geekiest examples of governments and governing bodies, from the courts of kings to the elected councils and the self appointed committees, and a few in between. Welcome to the Top 10 Governing Bodies.
10) LRRR! Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei VIII – Futurama
The gigantic monstrous Omicronians are conquerors of worlds, it’s kind of their thing to invade weaker planets like Earth, install their own militarian regime, make slaves of the local population, and steal their television signals. Lrrr is the ruler of Omicron Persei VIII, a king of sorts, possible a Kraterocracy, but if that’s the case then Lrrr is not the mightiest of all Omicronians.
That’d be his wife, Ndnd, the real power behind the throne, driven by the desire to keep her husband alive and healthy even if it kills him. She’s credited with being an Empress, which makes Lrrr an Emperor presiding over planets with their own individual leaders that he controls over all. Still, it seems like it would be kinder to let him face his duties with something more than an egg-white omelette to keep him going.
9) The Palace – Aladdin
Think what you want about the Disney hit Aladdin, but the rulers of the land of Agrabah are quite crafty indeed. Well, at least the advisor to the Sultan definitely is crafty. Having learned of a powerful relic, he convinces Aladdin to go and retrieve the magical lamp which binds the late, great Robin Williams as Genie. Aladdin succeeds in his attempts, but doesn’t let the advisor Jafar know this.
The Palace might not agree on a lot of things; but the fact of the matter is that the Sultan has to agree with alot of what Jafar says; sometimes due to hypnosis, sometimes just because he’s intimidated by the man and other times because he thinks Jafar is actually a good vizier. As such, whilst there is certainly an element of usurping, there’s also a huge element of agreement between the two. If only the Sultan wasn’t so… Ja-near sighted. Haha… Hahaha… We’re funny, okay?!
8) The Earldom of Lemongrab – Adventure Time
The sour construct created by Princess Bubblegum was a long way from perfect, while she has a talent for creating life she has a tendency to create it megalomaniacal, criminally insane or just plain stupid, safer if their stupid, and yet the Earl of Lemongrab somehow manages to be all three.
He and his… family govern a kingdom of lemonfolk, in a strange, walled off little dystopia who’s very intrinsic madness exceeds that of The Shivering Isles. Lemongrab’s brother was the first of his court, a twin born of his own flesh designed to be a counter to his madness, instead they simply spawned more and more twisted offspring over whom they rule with a blend of tyranny and cannibalism. The only free lemon is Lemonhope, who has only just begun his journey to redeem his deranged fathers.
7) Alpha Section – Beyond Good & Evil
Loyal Hillyans – Do what the Alpha Section tell you. They are here to make sure you are safe from all of the aliens coming to the land of Hillys. They’ve taken over the government, they’re in power and they’re really good at making sure they stay in power. Alas, the one thing they didn’t expect is an athletic and intelligent reporter called Jade to stick her nose in their business to find the truth behind all of the alien attacks.
The Alpha Section individually aren’t particularly useful really: They act, on the face of things, as a sort of peacekeeper. However, behind the scenes, what they never tell you, is that this is a massive cover-story. They’re working with their enemies; they’re making deals left right and centre and deciding what’s “in the best interests of their people”, even if that means letting some (or a lot) of them be captured by the DomZ aliens.
6) Tetragrammaton Council – Equilibrium
A fascist government who believes the root cause of World War III was emotions; why it can only be the Tetragrammaton Council! Their motives are to create an emotionless utopia, where everyone has to take the drug they’ve produced called Prozium II. With the city of Libria under complete control, the Tetragrammaton Council have just one duty left: To ensure that everyone takes their pills.
This kind of governing body has one purpose in mind: Be in complete control of their people. Unfortunately for them, the protagonist of Equilibrium, John Preston, a rogue cleric who didn’t take his pills, ends up being their downfall. Who would have ever thought that not taking some innocent drugs would make you see through the crap your government is throwing at you and your fellow city-folk? Now excuse me, I need to go take my Geekonium IV pills.
5) State Military – Fullmetal Alchemist
Led by King Bradley, the State Military of Central City are a force to be reckoned with: But their actions are nearly always for the good of their people. At least, they’re always led to believe that what they’re doing is for the good of Central City. In fact, even though King Bradley is often questioned for his opinions and his actions, he was always a well respected leader in his own right. Well known as a fearsome warrior, he leads the State Military without hesitation.
It’s with this in mind that we put the State Military in our midway point. Yeah, they’re led by a very powerful dictator, but you have to understand the influence these people have on the country of Amestris. The power of the State Military is so far reaching, that it affects even the folk who live way out in the country. Their influence is strong, their might is undeniable and they might be dogs of the military, but they fight the good fight and undertake some incredible research.
4) Council of Ricks – Rick and Morty
Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four exists in a high proportion of the multiverse, and as a highly intelligent person with an ego problem decided to collect all of himselves together, a multiversal meeting of minds, the Council of Reeds. Being a man of great intelligence, ego, and obscure parody, Rick Sanchez decided to do the same.
The Rick of universe C-137 riles against authority, even if he is the authority, so add to the list of governments who are out to get him, but the Council of Ricks is an incredible complex with a structure that govern and police the rogue intellects that a multiverse full of Rick Sanchez’s inevitably creates, or the terrible slip-ups they cause. So far they’ve only appeared in a single episode, and an untethered clip from the opening titles, but the way that episode ended…
Season three is slated for this summer, and Rick C-137 is still in prison. Let’s see what happens.
3) Quorum of Twelve – Battlestar Gallactica
It is a noble endeavour to rebuild the semblance of a government amongst the ashes of a civilisation, when the military hold all of the power and are looked to as saviours of the people but too easily forget the needs of those people. When the government falls into the hands of the 43rd person in line to the presidency, Laura Roslin, it is suddenly her responsibility to ensure that the mere forty thousand remaining people are properly represented, their demands heard, and their needs met as far as can be managed.
The Quorum of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol represent all of the worlds destroyed by the cyclon invasion, and in that time it undergoes more scandals, shock nominations and controversies as any other government. They butt heads with the military despite the… romantic entanglements between the leaders of both. And despite being a former teacher, Roslin really steps up to the plate, and reforms the very idea of government for the little nomadic cluster of survivors, playing no small part in their eventual settlement in their new home.
=1) Ministry of Magic – Harry Potter
The Ministry of Magic is the first in our joint winners here. For context, we’re talking about what the Ministry of Magic do, how they help their people as well as helping the Muggles. They do a lot, although they go largely unseen throughout the Harry Potter universe, really only getting more involved later down the series. They have a lot of departments within the MoM, however they all work together to create a safe, manageable existence between them and muggles.
Sure: They might not be on a battlefield very often, but they do get involved if they need to. They try to just allow things to go through with a strong bureaucratic emphasis, only intervening if they really need to. After all: What good is a governing body that has to get involved all the time? Isn’t that just a sign that they aren’t doing their job good enough? Powerful minds, powerful people, powerful statement. They don’t need to get involved because their laws are logical, sensible and protect the witches and wizards well.
=1) The Empire – Star Wars
Where Tim and I differed here was in our views on what defined a governing body. Is a government better exemplified by the bureaucratic assembly attending to the needs of it’s constituents, on a day to day basis, or is an oppressive regime worthy of the number one slot if it is suitably pivotal and iconic of it’s respective property?
The Galactic Empire was seized through politics, manipulated by fear, and brought to heal by the sudden and terrible application of an unrivalled military force, backed by the indomitable will of the Sith, suddenly unrivalled in their prowess in the force. Episodes I-III might be a little… laborious on the political side, and it rather undermines what people loved about IV-VI, but take a step back and consider how the actions in the prequel trilogy colour the events of the original, and how Rogue One may have changed the way we perceive the Empire.
Star Wars’ Empire does not simply form the central enemy of the series – mostly the Emperor himself – but is already leaving a legacy. The First Order, the new political regime formed under the yolk of the Dark Side’s corruption looks set to amplify the echoes of Palpatine’s actions, the 501st legion carries the Empire out of the screen and into our streets, and it’s symbol shall always be recognisable, even to those who don’t like Star Wars all that much… including me I might add, and yet here I am defending the Empire’s place at the top of our list.
Of my own free will…
Regimes come, and regimes go. We’ve listed our favourites, but as always we cropped up a few names that don’t quite fit the bill. We have elected to share those here with you, ratified and approved by the GOSW committee for “Very Close to Excellence but not Quite There” we present to you our certifiably honourable mentions.
God Emperor of Mankind – Warhammer 40K
Under normal circumstances an Emperor governing over a council of Primarchs, ruling over the Imperium of Man with a power-armoured fist would be a shoe-in for the list. Unfortunately, since the Horus Heresy, he fits the term “body” a little more than “governing”. He’s still held up as a divine being, a being not entirely human but nonetheless perfect, theoretically immortal (so long as he devours enough psychics), but his withered husk is certainly not going to be governing anything any time in the next few millennia.
Myth would have you believe that the Emperor has appeared throughout history to guide mankind along a path of righteousness, his every word a mandate that would deliver us into a brighter future, and only the demonic denizens of the Warp could turn his sons from his light. And though his Primarchs lead their respective chapters, they are far from a coherent governing force, dictators in their own rights, reporting to a corpse.
The Player & Their Advisors – Sid Meier’s Civilization Franchise
Dropping down to an honourable mention, it’s Sid Meier’s Civilization. I’ve recently become more than a little bit obsessed with it – Me and Jake will often sit up and just play it. For hours. Then realise it’s 4am and we’ve watched a whole wrestling pay-per-view alongside playing a game and we’re not even halfway through our campaign. Ooh, look at the time..!
Yes, Civilization is filled with you controlling your people. However, it is a governing body, rather than just a leader determining what happens. You see, you have four advisors. They sit there, giving you advice on what to do. Whilst you might have the ultimate say over what happens in your game, you can be sure to depend on them for vital information. What’s that? Gandhi has a bigger army than me? THIS MEANS WAR! Uh oh, nukes…
And with that our term is over, so while we step down for another week you have this chance to exercise your democratic right to vote! Speak with your ballots and tell us what you’d like to see in next week’s Top 10.
We’re done with all of the paperwork, we’re ready to go and put on our raincoat and leave the office for another day now. However, as always, we like to hear back from what you thought of this week’s Top 10. Did we get some good choices, or did we miss some majorly important governing bodies? Was our order correct? Who was the real number one?! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.