Created By: Deboss on January 3, 2012 Last Edited By: Deboss on April 5, 2015

Vengeance Vigilante

A vigilante motivated by taking revenge on criminals.

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Trope
The Vengeance Vigilante is a character motivated by revenge against criminals for hurting them.

A common form is the ordinary family man who has his family murdered by the mob only to have the mobsters get off scot-free due to lawyers or corruption. A history as an ex cop or retired soldier just helps speed things along since our character already knows how to fight.

The character may decide to simply fight crime in general to bring retributive beatings to criminal scum, or simply go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge on the mobsters who hurt him. Eventually, a character might begin to see the light of doing good for its own sake, in which case they'll no longer be this trope. However, a character motivated by vengeance for too long is likely to fall to the darker side of the Sliding Scale Of Anti Heroes and become a full on villain with a desire to hurt anyone that resembles the person(s) that hurt them.

Closely related to Vigilante Man, and will frequently overlap. Super Trope to Crusading Widower.

Examples.

Comic Books
  • Batman: Depending on the Writer, Batmans general motivations waver between transferred desire for revenge, making the world a better place, and being very mentally unstable.
  • The Punisher: The Punisher is one of the few of these that not only is willing to kill, but runs around in a super hero verse, putting him permanently at odds with most of the main heroes who engage in Thou Shalt Not Kill.
  • PunisherMax: After seeing his family murdered by the mob, Frank Castle becomes a ruthless criminal hunter, frequently engaging in torture and terrorizing criminals as one of the darker Anti-Hero variants that is still nominally on the side of good.
  • Jennifer Blood: Jennifer is a character motivated primarily by her hatred for the mob, which murdered much of her family.

Film - Live Action
  • Law Abiding Citizen: After seeing a criminal get off after killing his family, our "citizen" snaps and takes out his vengeance on the criminals, and the justice system that let them get away.
  • The Boondock Saints: The MacManus brothers are attacked by Russian mobsters, think they are on a Mission from God to go kill everyone in the Russian gang... and then an Italian gang.
  • Death Wish: Paul Kersey, , has his wife killed by some youths. he goes on a criminal killing spree.
  • Vigilante: Eddy's son gets shot dead by a gang member, and only one of the criminals gets sentenced - to two years. Eddy decides to sentence them all, personally, with the help of a vigilante squad.
  • Death Sentence: A 2007 Kevin Bacon film, is about a family man who brutally takes the law into his own hands after his son is murdered by gangsters in an initiation rite.
  • The Brave One: After her fiancee is murdered by muggers, a woman acquires a gun and becomes a vigilante. She kills criminals while hunting the muggers.

Literature

  • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: A group of female Vigilantes form in the first book. The first 7 books have them mostly motivated by revenge against the criminals who hurt them in various ways and then pulled a Karma Houdini. Some of them are certainly not motivated by having loved ones died.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: In later volumes, starting with the last chapter of A Storm of Swords, Stoneheart goes on a vicious rampage killing all Freys for what they did to her, with the help of a ragtag team of other vigilantes. This then expands to any criminal or anyone who's slighted her.

Live Action Television

Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • January 3, 2012
    nman
    How many vigilantes are out there in media who aren't motivated by having loved ones died?
  • January 3, 2012
    TiggersAreGreat
    Literature

    • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: A group of female Vigilantes form in the first book. The first 7 books have them mostly motivated by revenge against the criminals who hurt them in various ways and then pulled a Karma Houdini. Some of them are certainly not motivated by having loved ones died.
  • January 3, 2012
    Deboss
    @ nman: Superman is a vigilante who is motivated by For Great Justice. Spiderman is motivated by the same, he just had the death of a loved be the catalyst. Someone like Booster Gold was originally motivated by a desire for fame and fortune.

    @ Tiggers, added.
  • January 3, 2012
    nman
    Alright, well as long as you're confident this won't get discarded, then I'll add these examples.

    • The Boondock Saints: The MacManus brothers are attacked by Russian mobsters, think they are on a Mission From God to go kill everyone in the Russian gang... and then an Italian gang.
    • Death Wish: Paul Kersey, , has his wife killed by some youths. he goes on a criminal killing spree.
    • Vigilante: Eddy's son gets shot dead by a gang member, and only one of the criminals gets sentenced - to two years. Eddy decides to sentence them all, personally, with the help of a vigilante squad.
  • January 3, 2012
    Shnakepup
    Another film example...

    • Death Sentence, a 2007 Kevin Bacon film, is about a family man who brutally takes the law into his own hands after his son is murdered by gangsters in an initiation rite.
  • January 4, 2012
    Arivne
    Film - Live Action
    • The Brave One. After he fiancee is murdered by muggers, a woman acquires a gun and becomes a vigilante. She kills criminals while hunting the muggers.
  • January 5, 2012
    Deboss
    I don't expect this to get discarded. This could be seen as a subtrope of a general Vigilante trope. Vigilante Man seems to be more about a man who pursues justice as a whole for any reason, and is enough of an anti hero that he will kill any criminal. The focus of Vigilante Man seems to be what a character does, and how far they're willing to go. This trope is more about the motivations of a character and their actions. This has much more of a Its Personal flavor to it.
  • January 5, 2012
    AP
    Superman isn't really a vigilante man, though. He's actually sanctioned by various governments.
  • January 5, 2012
    Deboss
    But he was, or is again (I'm not sure how the continuity reboot thingy works), a vigilante. I think the one that focuses on him as a young man, what was it, Action Comics relaunch, shows him as a vigilante.
  • January 14, 2012
    Deboss
    Bumpity.
  • January 25, 2012
    TBeholder
  • January 25, 2012
    chicagomel
    • Would Dexter fit this?
    • Has shown up at least once in CSI and several times on CSI NY. Not sure on Miami.
  • January 25, 2012
    Earnest
  • January 25, 2012
    Noaqiyeum
    Dexter doesn't kill for vengeance, though, to my knowledge - he kills from inner psychological necessity and vigilantism is a morally productive outlet.
  • January 27, 2012
    Psychobabble6
    ^^^/^ Dexter definitely does not fit. He rarely even kills out of revenge at all, let alone it being his primary reason.

    However, now that you mention it...

    Sorry, I just like the way you worded that.

    • In later volumes of A Song Of Ice And Fire, starting with the last chapter of A Storm of Swords, Stoneheart goes on a vicious rampage killing all Freys for what they did to her, with the help of a ragtag team of other vigilantes. This then expands to any criminal or anyone who's slighted her.
  • February 8, 2012
    Deboss
    Bump for more opinions.
  • February 27, 2012
    Deboss
    Bump again.
  • February 27, 2012
    JusticeReaper
    How is this different from Vigilante Man?
  • April 21, 2012
    nman
    Here's a bump, because I thought this was a trope already - but it's not. So I can't pothole it anywhere.
  • May 16, 2012
    nman
    And another bump, because hey, what the hell? Why not?
  • May 17, 2012
    JusticeReaper
    I see no difference from Vigilante Man.
  • April 3, 2015
    DAN004
    I say, not all vigilantes are motivated by vengeance. Many Super Heroes are like this, especially during the Golden Age. They may be just driven by Heroic Spirit who thinks that something right must be done, or they may have a disdain for their incompetent law enforcers.

    Grabbing this, if nobody beats me to it
  • April 3, 2015
    Rjinswand
    I agree, Vigilante Man is a person who fights crime outside the law system. Their motivations could be very different: revenge, justice, mania, fame, boredom, or anything you can imagine really. Vengeance Vigilante (Vengeful Vigilante maybe? sounds a bit better with an adjective) is a subtrope for someone who becomes a Vigilante Man out of vengeance.
  • April 5, 2015
    Synchronicity
    Definitely distinct from Vigilante Man. That would cover Bruce Wayne (sometimes), whose crimefighting is motivated at least in part by his parents' deaths, but not, say, his son Damian, who became Robin not out of any desire to avenge someone but because of his Tyke Bomb past.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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