Top 10 best and worst Kings in Pop Culture

Top 10 best and worst Kings in Pop Culture

It’s Kingsday in the Netherlands, which means most of our fellow countrymen are either spending stuff on second-hand things they don’t need, or drink until they forget their names. Because it is a special day, we figured we’d do something to honour the theme. Today we are listing 5 pop culture kings who we think are awesome and 5 kings we think suck. Naturally there are many more options, but we can’t possibly list every option there is. Let us know if you agree with our picks. Of course this list is in no particular order. 

1. King Leonidas (300)

Top 10 best and worst Kings in Pop Culture King Leonidas 300

Who can forget the epicness that was King Leonidas in 2006s 300. Gerard Butler did an excellent job portraying the Spartan king who led 300 soldiers into battle against the Persian king Xerxes. Small detail, Xerxes’ army consists of a mere 300,000 soldiers. Leonidas sacrifices himself to save Sparta. We appreciate Leonidas for his bravery and his refusal to bow in the face of oppression. He is a king who fights alongside his soldiers, instead of sitting on the throne to let the soldiers do the dirty work.

Leonidas inspired many men to go back to the gym and work out like a Spartan. A true pop culture icon.

Famous Quotes:

“Madness? THIS IS SPARTA!”

“For tonight we dine in HELL!”

He basically shouts them all so that’s why the caps were necessary.

2. Mufasa (The Lion King)

Top 10 best and worst Kings in Pop Culture Mufasa the Lion King

If you’ve ever watched the Lion King and claim that you did not cry, we can’t be friends. You are a liar because the moment Mufasa fell off that rock…well, suffice to say that years later we are still trying to recover from the trauma. Mufasa was a fair king who taught Simba all about the circle of life. Sure, he is a lion so he probably ate some of his loyal subjects at times, but that’s the circle of life again. Mufasa was very unfortunate to have a brother who was a bit of a douche and actually killed him. Apart from that unfortunate fact, there was a lot to learn from Mufasa and we will appreciate and remember him forever.

Famous Quotes:

“You have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the Circle of Life.”

“Simba, I’m only brave when I have to be. Being brave doesn’t mean you go looking for trouble.”

3. T’Challa (Black Panther)

Top 10 best and worst Kings in Pop Culture T'Challa Black Panther

One of the best films in the Marvel universe is definitely Black PantherIt introduced us to Wakanda and allowed T’Challa to shine as he took his place as king of Wakanda. Sure, he was outshone by Shuri, but let’s not get into that. T’Challa is hesitant to become a king, stating that he is not ready. Unfortunately, when there is no monarch, there is no time to get ready. T’Challa is relatable as he struggles to find a balance between his duties and doing the right thing. Oh and also he has to fight off Killmonger who wants to steal his throne. While times get hard, T’Challa always remains a good man who wants to fight for what is right. And as we all know, it is hard for a good man to be king.

Famous Quotes:

“In times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe.”

“What happens now determines what happens to the rest of the world.”

4. Aragorn (Lord of the Rings)

Top 10 best and worst Kings in Pop Culture Aragorn Lord of the Rings

If you’ve ever sat through all 1000 hours of the Lord of the Rings, you are aware it was quite a struggle for Aragorn to become the king that returned. Aragorn is no wuss, choosing to join Frodo on the quest to destroy the one ring. He fought in battles and even took on a ghost army, which he convinced to help him because they were in his debt. Aragorn does not care because he is the absolute coolest. Aragorn also had the ability to heal people and while everybody was like “YO THAT IS OUR KING RIGHT THERE!” Aragorn decided to leave instead to make sure everybody was united to defeat Sauron. After Sauron was finally defeated, Aragorn was crowned King Elesessar and Middle-Earth was a better place.

Famous Quotes:

“My friends. You bow to no one.”

“This day does not belong to one man but to all. Let us together rebuild this world that we may share in the days of peace.”

5. Jon Snow (Game of Thrones)

Top 10 best and worst Kings in Pop Culture Jon Snow Game of Thrones

Okay, he is not officially king, but he was crowned King of the North so we are good with that. Jon has grown from bastard to one of the most important players in the Game of Thrones. Even though he still doesn’t know it himself. What we like about Jon is that he is incredibly loyal and brave. He chooses to do the things that will help his people. He has no desire for power, but knows that he is the best person for the job and sacrifices a lot (spoiler) even his own life. Sure, he can brood quite a lot, but hey, Westeros is not a fun place. Plus what would you do if White Walkers tried to kill you all the damn time? Exactly. All hail the King of the North!

Famous Quotes:

“The White Walkers don’t care if a man’s free folk or crow. We’re all the same to them, meat for their army. But together we can beat them.”

“First lesson, stick em with the pointy end.”

6. Henry the 8th (The Tudors)

Top 10 best and worst Kings in Pop Culture Henry the VIII The Tudors

And on with the bad kings. It is universally known that King Henry the 8th was a jerk. He is the dude who invented divorce and had a knack for chopping his wives’ heads off when they displeased him. While the real Henry wasn’t nearly as attractive as Jonathan Rhys-Meyers in The Tudors, the series did do a good job portraying what an awful person he was. No one needs this kind of negativity in their lives. Luckily for his last wife, Henry only lived until the age of 55 and she got away with her head.

Famous Quotes:

“Anne, I want to say something to you. If it pleases you to be my true loyal mistress and friend, to give yourself up to me body and soul, I promise, I’ll take you as my only mistress. I won’t have a thought or an affection for anyone else.”

“You think you know a story, but you only know how it ends. To get to the heart of the story, you have to go back to the beginning.”

7. Palpatine a.k.a Darth Sidious (Star Wars)

Top 10 best and worst Kings in Pop Culture Palpatine Star Wars

Palpatine a.k.a Darth Sidious, a.k.a The Emperor was a force-sensitive human, he was considered to be the most powerful Sith to have ever lived. He had a plan to overthrow the Republic and the Jedi order from within. All in all, a very pleasant person of course. He orchestrated the Clone Wars in which billions died. He had a hand in wiping out most of the Jedi, after which he announced himself Emperor of the first Galactic Empire. There was a time he pretended to be an enlightened leader, but he quickly dropped that facade and began ruling through terror, symbolized by the Death Star. All in all, he sounds like the life of the party.

Famous Quotes:

“Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.”

“Now young will die.”

8. Scar (The Lion King)

Top 10 best and worst Kings in Pop Culture Scar The Lion King

Sure, we get it. It’s not fun to be the unloved child. It’s also not fun to see your brother being all good and having everyone adore him while you are treated like trash. However, it is no reason to actually throw said brother off of a cliff and then attempting to murder your nephew. It’s also definitely not cool to take over a kingdom and let it go to waste. We appreciate Scar’s flair for dramatics, but he took it all a bit too far. We can never forgive him for that terrible scene. *Grabs tissues*.

Famous Quotes:

“Life’s not fair, is it?”

“I’m surrounded by idiots.”

9. Commodus (Gladiator)

Top 10 best and worst Kings in Pop Culture Commodus Gladiator

Look, the Roman emperors were mostly not very cool. Commodus was no exception. He was not well-received by the Roman people during his reign and actually believed himself to be a reincarnation of Hercules. The real Commodus enjoyed battling in the arena as a Gladiator, although he preferred slaughtering the crippled and killing wild beasts. Needless to say, Commodus was not very popular which probably was the reason he was assassinated.

2000s Gladiator in which Jaoquin Phoenix plays the Emperor is not an entirely accurate representation of Commodus. For example, the real Commodus never murdered his father. However, the real Commodus was apparently more evil than the film version, which is hard to imagine. His eventual death was not nearly as spectacular as it was in the film, where he died in the arena. The real Commodus was poisoned and strangled to make sure he was dead. How dramatic.

10. Joffrey Baratheon (Game of Thrones)

Top 10 best and worst Kings in Pop Culture Joffrey Baratheon Game of Thrones

Is it even possible to make a list like this without including Joffrey? Basically this is the most hated king of them all. Joffrey was the result of an incestuous relationship between Cersei and Jamie Lannister. While his brother and sister were actually quite normal, Joffrey was very much a dipshit. He was cruel, menacing, spoilt and a coward. He enjoyed seeing others suffer. The boy considered himself to be a great warrior, even though he could barely hold a sword. The thought of that smug smirk on his face is enough to give plenty the desire to throw their televisions through the window. He deserved what came for him. All the praise to Jack Gleeson for his portrayal of this asshole.

Famous Quotes:

“Everyone is mine to torment! You’d do well to remember that, you little monster.”

“The king can do as he likes!”




Article written by Ingrid

Ingrid is the twenty-something owner of The Sassologist, who loves everything that has to do with pop culture. While she is one of many who is in the process of writing a novel, she is also currently in denial over not being a witch. Her Hogwarts letter has yet to arrive. In the meantime she writes about pop culture and dreams about unicorns.

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