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Top 10 – Inspiring Leaders

GeekOut Top 10s

To be inspired; to be led by someone you can look up to. Sure, their goals might not be noble, their vision might be distorted, or they might literally have light shining out of their butts, it doesn’t matter. These are people that should be looked up to, whether or not they are actually an effective leader, or a good or a bad leader makes no difference to us. They inspire their people to the best of their abilities.

So join us as we count down our Top 10 inspiring leaders. This is going to be quite a hard fought list!

Top 10

10) Elspeth Tirel – Magic: the Gathering

The history of the planes is fraught with war. Yawgmoth’s invasion, the rise of New Phyrexia, the first and second war against the Eldrazi, all have been won or lost by the deeds of mighty planeswalkers, so we had one hell of a choice ahead of us. In the end we settled on Elspeth the Godslayer for her deeds on Theros, where the machinations of the gods and the destructive interloper in the pantheon threatened to extinguish mortals once and for all.

Elspeth would go down in history as The Champion of the Sun, or one of them at any rate. Her skills and her magic would strike fear in the hearts of gods, earn her the trust of kings and eventually lead to her tragic demise, although this is Magic, death is rarely finite.

9) Davy Jones – Pirates of the Caribbean

Good ol’ Davy Jones and his locker, he’s not really a man known for his friendliness. Instead, the very name Davy Jones strikes fear into the hearts of both pirates and seafearing men and women alike. It doesn’t matter if you’re a landlubber, or if you’re a wolf of the sea, you will have heard of his name and you will fear his name. That’s a terrifying way to start this. But imagine when you finally confront Davy Jones and you’re met with…

… A squid man. I mean seriously, could it have gotten any worse? Davy Jones is a little eccentric, but he leads his people viciously. They fear him, but because of that they are inspired to do what they can for him. He’s definitely a pirate alright.

8) Bill Adama – Battlestar Gallactica

Sadly, the commander of the Battlestar that would form the last bastion of humanity’s defence as it crawled desperately for survival cannot place higher than this because I’m afraid his leadership was based on a rather heartbreaking lie. Though there was no Earth, no contingency plan for the twelve colonies, Adama used the myth of the cradle of humanity to give his people hope enough to fight on, not to give in, but when they discover the truth his leadership unravels rather dramatically. But he got it back.

Edward James Olmos gives us a star-ship leader with more humanity than any who had come before, capable of shedding the buttoned-down look of the Star Treks and Babylon 5s and myriad others and embracing the down-and-dirty, while at the same time capable of raising his people up to heights they never dreamed of. It’s no mistake that he commands his son, his best friend, and surrogate daughter, because his crew are more family than subordinates to him.

So say we all.

7) Sun Jian – Dynasty Warriors

Sun Jian was one of the warlords of the Wu empire, standing against the tyrannical Dong Zhuo and overcoming tremendous adversity. Sun Jian would be on the front line with his men, no surprise there, but he’d go on to fight on the battlefield until his dying breath. He died doing what he believed was right, which makes his story even more inspiring.

In the context of Dynasty Warriors, Sun Jian isn’t one of the most popular characters, but he’s been around for a very long time. Unlike his real life counterpart, the Sun Jian in this game does get to amass quite the army. In real life, it’s said that Sun Jian didn’t lead a very big group, but those who followed him were very loyal, as he was a brilliant tactician and an exceptional leader in his own right.

6) Mace Windu (Leader of the Order of the Jedi) – Star Wars

The Jedi are a pretty popular bunch now, aren’t they? They’re all lead by the Order of the Jedi, which has one man at the helm. Mace Windu led them during the Clone Wars, by being a Jedi General. He was a man who, like many others on this list, led by the front lines, but in this case he never really outshone his peers. Instead, he was a sound strategist and diplomat.

Whilst it’s true there are many stronger leaders in Star Wars, hello there Palpatine, there’s few who are more dedicated to their cause than Mace Windu. Also, we have to admit: We gave extra points to the casting of Samuel L Jackson, who really made those prequels something special. He made the character have gravitas, where really there wouldn’t be much intrigue around him otherwise.

5) Leonidas – 300

I may have mentioned this a few times, I do not like Zack Snyder. But anyway, if it’s one thing he does well it’s trailers, and within that vein he also creates some pretty epic one-liners and memorable quotes that rather stick in the mind.

Based on the actual Leonidas, warrior king of Sparta, husband to Gorgo, and self-proclaimed descendant of Herakles, and telling a heavily modified story of the actual story of Thermopylae where three hundred Spartans (seven hundred Thespians and four hundred Thebans) made martyrs of themselves to stay the advancing Persians so that Greece would unite and drive back the invaders, showing themselves as the superior force in the process. While 300 might exaggerate massively, the actual Leonidas was no small cog in history, he led men to their deaths in the name of freedom. The monument erected at Thermopylae translates “Come and Take”, so for centuries after death Leonidas invites you to come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough.

The depiction by Gerard Butler in 300 may be inflated but I think it safe to say that he bore the gravitas of a king, a warrior, and a leader of men. You could not imagine such a man with the voice of Michael Cera (no offence) but the powerful speeches given to the character echo something of the man himself as history has come to know him.

4) God Emperor of Mankind – Warhammer 40,000

So everyone here is inspiring in their own way, mostly through force of personality, strength, humility or a simple way with words. No one here is a religion. When your leadership is so awesome (literally awesome) that you ascend from mere mortality, shed your name, and become known only as God Emperor of Mankind then you can afford to take it easy, veg out for a few centuries…

Too soon?

Even as a corpse that feeds on psychic power to survive, the Emperor is still an incredible force to be reckoned with. Through his Primarks he is the soul reason for the existence of the space marines, and their mission to fight for all that is human: genocide, jingoism, delusions of grandeur, and generally claiming the whole universe belongs to us.


3) Ulfric Stormcloak – Skyrim

He’s considered a traitor by some, but to many, he’s not only a leader – but he’s the one man who speaks the truth in Skyrim. Ulfric Stormcloak, yes, the man who leads the Stormcloak rebellion, not only deserves a mention in this list, but he deserves this high spot. When you consider what they were up against, you’d think that the Nords wouldn’t dare get in the way of the Empire, but no – Ulfric had a plan which he either executed or attempted to execute, depending on what side of the war you choose.

The Empire is everywhere; but it doesn’t mean that everyone has to agree with their ideology. Skyrim is the homeland of the Nord, a people who are set in tradition. As such, to see Imperials come along and try to take their homeland from them, it’s angered the Nords. Considering how the past year has been for politics, Ulfric is a stark reminder of what can happen when there’s civil unrest. A rebellion was formed; one man leads them. The assumed Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak.

2) Jean Luc Picard – Star Trek TNG

The second man to take the (proverbial) helm of the U.S.S Enterprise, granted a newer model thereof, but a newer model to sit the big chair. While you may wonder who could possibly have beaten the greatest captain to ever serve the Federation, let’s talk about why Picard is the greatest captain to ever serve the federation and not argue because we all know it’s true.

The man literally embodies Lawful Good. The Prime Directive may serve him as an operations manual but he has the moral compass of a saint and the gravitas of a Shakespearean actor, a capacity for self sacrifice that exceeds the loss of life, giving himself to the Borg to save his people, and so devoted are his crew that they could not leave without him. He is not fool enough to believe his authority absolute, and accepts the counsel of those about him, but none would dare to question his word when his foot is down.

More credit to Star Trek for hurling its characters into profound moral quandries, and through Picard it explores law against morality, and he wears plainly the burdens of command. But gods damn he wears it well.

1) Kamina Jiha – Tengen Toppa, Gurren Lagann

If you’re looking for a leader who inspires then look no further. Alright, so maybe his actual leadership style is a little slapdash, but here’s a guy who can take the quietest little digger and turn him into a guy who can reach for the stars… and then use those stars to smash his enemies over the head! Though he’s only young when he befriends Simon in the underground village, already he shows remarkable qualities that would make his actions echo through history.

He repays loyalty with devotion; he doesn’t just bring out the best in people, he drags it kicking and screaming into the light; he has a capacity for innovation and adaptation that sits cheerfully on the borderline with insanity. Above all his personality is infectious to the point that it echoes on, long after his death, to shape the civilisation that would come after him as his young protegé Simon steps up to take his place. And cape. And cool shades.

Without Kamina, humanity would have stayed forever in the dark, digging ever deeper. Thanks to him we rose from the ashes of a people driven to extinction and oppression, and defeated the greatest enemy to life there is, by bashing it over the head with an entire galaxy. Just who the hell do you think he is?

Honourable Mentions

Yes, the leaders we shown here today truly are inspirational. However, inspiration can come from the strangest of places. As always, we like to provide two more that we at least thought about; so in their own unique way, these two are truly inspirational too… Right?

The Mayor of Townsville – The PowerPuff Girls

“Vote for Mayor for Mayor!” – The Mayor of Townsville

The Mayor isn’t exactly the most inspiring of men – He’s a little bit wimpy when you really think about it. But it doesn’t stop him being the best damn mayor they’ve ever had. Granted, he might have been the only mayor they’ve ever had, but that’s besides the point. When a man can shout the infamous words “vote for mayor for mayor” and usually win the election, it’s hard to argue that he isn’t at least a little inspiring.

I wish I could do that. Hey, everyone reading this article: Share this article on Facebook today! Share this article on Twitter today! Sha– I’m sorry, this is getting silly already isn’t it? But the point is, he’s a man who is largely left unchallenged. We might not see much of his actual mayoring, but the City of Townsville, albeit completely overrun with super-criminals, is actually seemingly run alright. Good job, Mayor!

Arnold Shortman – Hey Arnold!

Football head may be short and funny looking, but there’s no doubt that this kid knows how to bring people together. He’s surprisingly level headed for a nine year old, sharp, and alwasy trying to see the best in people, even to his own undoing.

Arnold is always doing the best he can for those he cares about, and has a real community spirit that probably stems from living in a boarding house with his grandparents in a big city in a kids show. Can you imagine anyone being that cheery and well-wishing in a real city? He’s a master strategist, cunning and reasonable, as well as his strong empathy for others coupled with a general obliviousness in love. Being nine back in ’96, he’d have probably grown up to be a great guy and a really commanding figure… with a football head.

Oh, and for those wondering about that surname, yes, it’s official, and his grandpa had been calling him by name for years.

That’s it, this electoral roll is over. We’ve got a clear vision for the next bunch of years, thanks to those who made the list. If we’ve inspired you enough now, we hope you’ll stick around for next week’s list. However, you get the final say on what we will be writing a list about. As always, there’s going to be three for you to choose from, so choose wisely. The future of your kingdom depends on it*.

That’s it for this week, so thank you very much for joining us. We hope you enjoyed our speech, as much as we enjoyed having you as our loyal subjects. Did we include your favourite leader in all of pop culture on this list, or did we seriously mess up this time? Did we get the order right, or is it all a little bit mixed up. As always, lay into us with all that you think is right in the comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.

* Well okay, not really. We can’t back this claim up.


5 responses

  1. Murray

    Here’s where I’d argue… but Kamina is number 1, there are no arguments, the manly shouts of inspiration are all you can hear :P

    But for the 40k entry, as much as the Emperor is an inspiring entity for the Imperium, the Eldar feel more generally inspiring in my opinion
    “You are our children. Dead though we are, we shall not abandon you.”
    They are a race dying rapidly… but they will never abandon comrades.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 11, 2017 at 9:15 am

    • See, I had a toss-up in my mind and I told Joel about this when we were writing it. I was thinking of the Avatar of the Bloody Handed God as a contender against the Emperor…

      … BUT. This is the horrible bit…

      There’s not as much story for the Eldar as there is for SPSHMREENS. Ahem. I’m not the Marines biggest fan, but at least they have a strong as hell story :)



      March 11, 2017 at 11:38 am

    • Got to agree with Tim, I prefer my ‘crons but Spehs Mreens get all the glory. In the same way as I hate Zack Snyder films, credit where it’s due

      Liked by 1 person

      March 11, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    • Murray

      Doesn’t stop the Ultra Smurfs being boring (YEAH I SAID IT! :P)
      But the point is conceded, as much as I adore the Wraith units (which is where the quote came from), the Emperor does have the entire Heresy behind him.

      Liked by 1 person

      March 11, 2017 at 1:49 pm

      • Oh, oh, oh, The SPSHSNDMERRNNNNS are boring as all hell man. I hate how, to this very day, competitive is still mostly them. As an ex-Eldar myself – The units in Eldar are far cooler and more interesting… But sadly, we have to go by what exists.

        We also do think the Emperor is a bit of a cool guy, though.


        March 11, 2017 at 7:31 pm

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