Sometimes Evil Feels Good
. Sometimes Good Feels Good
. And then there's this strange thing in the middle, where good people feel good when they hurt evil: Smiting Evil Feels Good
This is a hero who feels enjoyment, elation, and great satisfaction, when they kill or beat up the bad guys. They may be otherwise strictly moral, well-intentioned, and selfless, but when they've decided you're better off dead than alive, they'll kill you with a smile on their face, and may even tak additional satisfaction in ending you in sadistic
ways. They're not a Blood Knight
, though; they never lose track of their purpose, and they don't seek
villain-killing on their own, they just enjoy it when it happens.
Some heroes tend to break down
when they find themselves doing this or when someone else points this out, especially if they feel it somehow implies that their motivation
is not high righteousness, but base blood-lust. It's in fact a very common topic of Not So Different
How can one be good if one enjoys doing evil? Is it okay to enjoy hurting others? Is it degrading? Is all the heroing just an excuse to get one's kicks in a socially acceptable manner? Am I really Not So Different
from that villain? Am I a self-righteous hypocrite? Does it matter?
Other heroes decide that what matters is that the outcome of their actions is globally good
, or that the methods they follow are virtuous
, and leave it to others to worry
about introspective stuff like motivations and hypocrisy and so on.
Fairly common in the Action Hero
, especially in the Eighties, and the Bad Ass
. If they've dropped a Bond One-Liner
, even with a straight face, you know they fit here.
Manga and Anime
- In Attack on Titan, protagonist Eren Jaeger hates Titans to such an extreme that he once woke up with a Slasher Smile on his face after dreaming about slaughtering them.
- Saeko Busijima of High School Of The Dead is a sadist who gets off on killing zombies and when young, enjoyed nearly killing a would-be rapist.
- One would suspect Kenshiro, Hero Protagonist of Fist of the North Star, of having traces of this. While he's The Stoic and will never smile at a villain, he goes out of his way to murder them in gruesome ways, and delays the effect for maximum despair on their part, or to allow them to showcase their arrogance and foolishness to the last extremity. All this, when he could easily instakill them in one touch. They are, however, as deserving as that treatment as a human can be; the entire principle behind the manga seems to be "show people be gruesome, sadistic monsters unfit to be alive, then have kenshiro execute them for the catharsis of the audience, who have their cruelty thus satisfied in a guilt-free manner.
- In Watchmen, Hooded Justice went through a Heroic BSOD when another taunted him that he hadn't joined up so much for fighting crime as just having a legal excuse to beat the crap out of people. Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre take great enjoyment in heroics, but it's unclear whether "beating up the bad guys" is what thrills them, or just the danger. Rorschach acts like it's his moral obligation to make bad guys suffer, but it's unclear whether he derives pleasure from it besides the satisfaction of accomplished duty.
- On Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Elliot Stabler, while not outright killing bad guys (if not accidentally... or is it?), ostensibly loves beating the shit out of rapists, pedophiles etc. (and the other detectives are the others are that close too).
- In Burn Notice, both Michael and Fi have Berserk Buttons for villains who hurt children. Fi particularly chomps at the bit to kill such people (or recurring villains who've been troublesome Manipulative Bastards to Michael in the who-burned-me arc), although she'll defer to Michael's judgment if such would be tactically unwise (or detrimental to Michael getting answers he needs) at the time. But if she does get the green light, she'll smile when she does it.
- Ky Vatta in Elizabeth Moon's Vattas War series discovers early on that she derives a near-sadistic pleasure from killing her enemies, who tend to be Complete Monsters, face-to-face (as opposed to from a starship bridge). She is too moral to kill someone unless forced to, and is too horrified about the secret pleasure she takes in killing to tell others about it, but she can't deny that she gets an odd pleasure of doing it when forced to.
- Animorphs goes into some detail regarding this. The bad guys are an alien race of brain slugs, basically, and after one of the protagonists, Jake, sends thousands of them to their deaths by dumping their regeneration pool into space, he has a minor breakdown about how much he enjoyed doing so. Another protagonist, Rachel (who has no such qualms) tells him he has to separate the feeling from the action: "doing what has to be done" is not immoral, nor is "enjoying winning".
- This is something of a common trait among the Space Marines of Warhammer 40,000, though this is easily thanks to the conditioning their chapters and the Imperium as a whole gives them, forming this bias against the Xenos and Forces of Chaos that dare invade the Imperium of Man.