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In the final episodes of Code Geass R2, Lelouch gave orders like "be my slave" or "obey me". This way, unlike when using the Geass, he can give them orders an unlimited number of times.

Lelouch/Zero latest orders (Code Geass Wikia)

So why didn't he use these orders on everyone from the beginning? This way he could've given them orders whenever he wanted!

  • If anybody has another reason(s), please mention them below. – Cyclone Dec 14 '13 at 23:03
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At the very beginning, right after he got his powers, Lelouch may not have been sure that it was possible to give such powerful orders. This is why, for example, Lelouch ordered a female student from the academy to engrave a cross-mark on a wall every day forever: to determine how long a geass would last. Presumably, he was performing similar experiments that weren't shown to the viewer.

In some cases, Lelouch could be morally conflicted about geassing people. In the last episode of R2, we see him wavering on whether or not to use a geass to command Nunnally to give him the FLEIJA control device. It's possible that he felt the same way about using his geass on other people as well. (Then again, that might just be a special thing for Nunnally.)

Recall now that people are able to reject a geass (at least temporarily) if it is in strong conflict with their morals. Guilford, for example, would probably have found the idea of obeying Zero to be utterly repugnant, and may have resisted the geass to a degree, which could have thrown a wrench in Lelouch's plans. This could be why Lelouch instead geassed Guilford to view him as if he were Cornelia - to circumvent that issue.

There are probably a few other reasons, too, which hopefully other people will be able to come up with in their answers.

  • Lelouch does confirm to C.C when she shows up after being killed at the start that he is experimenting with his Geass, he also did an experiment with a teacher when he found out that Kallen didn't fall under his command a second and third time, this confirms the first paragraph – Memor-X Dec 12 '13 at 21:03
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    Lelouch isn't exactly morally conflicted with his Geass since he was more than willing to enslave the Imperial Court, ordering Suzaku to live or using it on an noble's bodyguard, any hesitation would be more than likely that of him reserving it's use, his conflict to use it on Nunnally and to make Shirley forget about him and his despair when it was accidentally used it on Euphie was mainly because he loved all 3 of them, his own sister, the girl who fell for him and he reciprocated the feeling for and his first love – Memor-X Dec 12 '13 at 21:12
  • Third Paragraph is confirmed when Euphie was accidentally cast with the order to "Kill the Japanese", she resisted, as @senshin has said, Guilford being ordered to obey Zero would conflict not only with his nature but his loyalty to Cornelia which is as strong as it is because of his feelings towards her, Lelouch probably knew this and explains his order in episode 17 or R2, however, one would question why Schneizel was so willing to "Serve Zero" but it could just be that deep inside Schneizel wants to be controlled – Memor-X Dec 12 '13 at 21:18
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    the only other reason i can think of not worth of a separate answer would be just the famous "plot induced stupidity" but then again would the series really be enjoyable if Lelouch just went around ordering everyone to become his slave? – Memor-X Dec 12 '13 at 21:20
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I like to think of them as purely moral choices, not at ALL for practicality.

In the beginning of R2, Kallen asked if she was geassed into obeying Zero, or something to that effect. Lelouch makes it clear that she followed under her own will, which presumably, he wanted for all of the Black Knights.

Note that he only ordered "Obey Me!!!" after the Black Knights betray him*, leaving him with no troops to command.

The others I see as lack of choices. For example, he didn't geass Suzaku the moment he realized he was working for the enemy (he could have very well said "Follow Zero" at that point on, and C.C. even chastises him for not doing it) but he only geasses him in a very precarious situation (when both of them were about to get killed).

*EDIT: Actually, there's another reason: (Lelouch thinks) NUNNALY's DEAD!. Remember he did everything for Nunnaly. With Nunnaly, Shirley, Rolo, and the Black knights gone, he has nothing left basically. So this point is pretty much a "Well, Fuck My Moral Compass", And does things more pragmatically.

2

Production-wise, it would probably be because of addition to drama. I think the production thought (and I believe us as well) would be boring to have Lelouch command "Obey me" everytime. And of course, to add limitation to the order, thus, adding an opening for conflicts in the stories. If the order "Obey me" will always be used, then Lelouch will mostly be invincible and that will prevent twists on the stories - which makes the anime more enjoyable.

0

I agree with the opinions posed by Secret. But there's another addition/modification I would like to make to it.

His initial motives were in line to end Charles' Hegemony and he had people in support for it, that's how he gained the support of the Black Knights. But after the incidents in the thought chamber when he stopped Charles and Marianne, he had made a different plan with Suzaku and CC. In order to execute this plan he required an army which he could gain neither by motivating them by his motives nor by the virtue of his emperor post(since he was a usurper). Hence the Geass.

In summary: He had a moral compass which he later compromised for the greater good (Instead of his morality being lost after Nunnaly's death)

0

I think the reason is much easier than what all you guys have just said. It is likely that the obey order could not be issued because all the other people not affected by geass would have started to suspect something weird going on and they would have investigated on geass. However, this conclusion cannot be possible if the order issued was like "from now onward obey me but never tell or make any reference to who is giving you orders".

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Lelouch's geass power increased over time. Perhaps it was not powerful enough make someone his full-time slave until his power got to full strength. Lelouch did experiments in the beginning to test the limitations and capabilities of his geass. Surely he must have wondered what would happen if he tried the command "obey me".

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