Created By: RaustBD on March 29, 2012 Last Edited By: RaustBD on April 7, 2012

Heroic Imperialist

A character who exemplifies virtue and heroism among nasty teammates, usually to help sell an alignment path in a game

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Trope
You're playing one of those games that has a branching campaign path, where you can choose to align yourself with one of many factions. For those who aren't comfortable being evil even in video games, however, it's generally important that you sympathize with the side you eventually ally yourself with.

Before you choose, however, you'll often find yourself confronting members of each group. While you'll be fighting most of them for the time being, many will come across as sympathetic or even in the right. Others, however, might come across as nasty and unlikeable, even to people who agree with their goals. So why would you side with the empire if they're a bunch of psychotic maniacs and you don't feel like being evil?

Oftentimes, it's because of the Heroic Imperialist. He not only allies himself with this faction of jerkasses, but embraces their agenda 100%. Despite this, however, he is a heroic, noble, honorable, likable and awesome person, with all the traits of a traditional hero. They side with the faction specifically because they believe it is the right thing to do for the good of the world. Expect to see things like calling a truce with the protagonist so they can team up to evacuate a burning orphanage, and don't expect to see him do anything really "bad" unless it's absolutely essential to meet his ideology's goals. And even then, don't expect him to be too happy about it.

Despite the similarities between this and the Anti-Villain, Noble Demon, Noble Top Enforcer and Worthy Opponent, there are some crucial differences:

First of all, the odds of this character joining your side are essentially nil. He doesn't join YOU, but you can join HIM. Secondly, quite unlike the four character types mentioned above, a large part of this character's purpose is to LEGITIMIZE an alignment with bad PR. Even though the majority of his peers are unpleasant or even dishonorable, the very existence of a character like this makes it possible to entertain the notion that joining this cause is the right thing to do. Much, or sometimes even all of the appeal of this faction is the prospect of fighting alongside this guy.

Another frequent characteristic is that he may serve as a sort of Morality Chain for the majority of the faction. If you choose to side against him and wind up killing him, there's a good chance whoever takes his place will not be nearly as honorable or decent.
Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • March 29, 2012
    Damr1990
    he may or not have a "My Master Right Or Wrong" and/or "My Country Right Or Wrong" mentality
  • March 29, 2012
    RaustBD
    Eh, not entirely sure, a big factor of this character is that he fully supports the actions of his faction, not that he does it despite thinking it's wrong.
  • March 29, 2012
    RaustBD
    In The Witcher, while a major part of the Order of the Flaming Rose is really just motivated by racism, Siegfried of Denesle genuinely believes what the Order officially claims. If Geralt sides with them, in the endgame he leads a civil war in the faction. Similarly Iorveth, unlike Yaevinn, wants peace instead of reigning over humans as they did the elves.
  • March 30, 2012
    RaustBD
    Leon, general of the Blue Dragon Knights from the Langrisser games, embodies this trope. He fights for the Empire despite detesting war because he feels that uniting the continent under a single powerful ruler is the only realistic way to achieve any kind of lasting peace. He makes it unambiguously clear to his subordinates that the slaughter of noncombatant civilians of any group will not be tolerated, and even teams up with the hero to help defend villagers being attacked by the demon tribe (which the Empire is allied with). Nearly all of the other imperial generals seen up to that point are portrayed as callous and power-hungry, and Leon's explanation of his motives is the first real indication given to the player that the Empire's goals are at all sympathetic.
  • March 30, 2012
    pawsplay
    So, the Worthy Opponent but more pragmatic, edging into Well Intentioned Extremist?
  • March 30, 2012
    RaustBD
    With the important distinguishing difference that this character is used by the game developers to help morally legitimize that faction's ideals for the player.
  • March 30, 2012
    Mauri
    If you are mentioning the teammates wouldn't it be a version of [Team Dad]?
  • March 31, 2012
    RaustBD
    @Mauri can you elaborate what you mean by that?
  • March 31, 2012
    pawsplay
    I'm having trouble seeing what sets this apart from Anti Villain Big Bad.
  • March 31, 2012
    Mauri
    With your meaning on the trope it is: A character who exemplifies virtue and heroism among nasty teammates, usually to help sell an alignment path in a game

    It falls a lot on the role of Team Dad if you have to lick the psychos into shape. It is hard to pull the idea off as in some cases you won't get any power to get them to do the right thing. There is a case you would be interested in and it is the case of the idea that multiple branched games usually end up making a possible view that some of the psychos on one branch can fit under what you put on your trope and on the other they look like a psycho... possibly a difficult case would be in Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3 with Ackerman (a psycho in all routes even as allies).
  • March 31, 2012
    RaustBD
    @Pawsplay: Again, this character is put in not just to be an honorable villain, but to actually make it possible to make the case that they're the good guys.
  • March 31, 2012
    pawsplay
    That's an Anti Villain.
  • April 1, 2012
    RaustBD
    No it isn't, pawsplay, Anti-villains are still portrayed as being in the wrong.
  • April 1, 2012
    pawsplay
    If this trope is about heroes on the other side, making them designated villains, that's Worthy Opponent.
  • April 1, 2012
    DmM
    Nope, YMMV on this, but I'd say Darth Vader is a Worthy Opponent, but he's not an ethically convincing reason to give in to the Dark Side
  • April 1, 2012
    aurora369
    I vote against the word "imperialist" in the title. It has other connotations rather than belonging to The Empire, namely colonialism and global capitalism.
  • April 1, 2012
    RaustBD
    Good point Aurora, do you have an alternative idea?
  • April 2, 2012
    aurora369
  • April 3, 2012
    RaustBD
    Imperial Hero maybe?
  • April 4, 2012
    TBeholder
  • April 4, 2012
    aurora369
    Hell, no. The Token Heroic Orc joins the heroic faction. This guy remains in his own evil-ish faction and makes it less evil by his very presence and example.
  • April 5, 2012
    RaustBD
    So, Imperial Knight, Imperial Exemplar, Imperial Hero? Which one sounds best?
  • April 7, 2012
    aurora369
    Let's finally settle on the name and start adding examples. As the first one: Suzaku of Code Geass fame is one of these for most of the show.
  • April 7, 2012
    pawsplay
    Imperial Hero, I think, just because I think of... the Emperor and the Hero in the movie Hero.
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