Created By: Earnest on March 4, 2012 Last Edited By: Earnest on December 7, 2012
Troped

Blind Obedience

The problem isn't Lawful Stupid characters, but that they believe an Authority is infallible.

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Eden: Why? Why did my father kill Aria?! Doesn't even my father... make mistakes?
Leo Mycenae: Wh-what did you say?
Eden: Couldn't my father also make a mistake?
Leo Mycenae: What are you saying lord Eden? We've sworn our loyalty to lord Mars. That means that we must never question his actions!

This trope applies to characters that are sources of authority in an organization and those who follow them. Typically the followers have faith (sometimes blind) in the competence, fairness and infallibility of the authority they choose to follow. These followers would never say "My Master, Right or Wrong", firstly because they're not evil, and secondly because the idea that this authority is capable of error and/or immorality may not even cross their mind. Thirdly, if it does they may justify it as the authority "knowing better" or having a view of the "big picture".

The authority in question rarely does much to dispell this notion and may in fact Pridefully think of themselves as infallible to the point of having an Omniscient Morality License (they very much don't though). While they may be a Reasonable Authority Figure, it's common for this trope that they see themselves as unquestionable arbiters of Law and Good, and questioning their judgement is at the least naive foolishness or at worst tantamount to treason. The plot comes in just as they make a pretty bad error of judgement (or go crazy/evil) and a good chunk of their subordinates/the populace disagrees with them, and the disagreement simmers into open rebellion before long.

Compare/contrast Honor Before Reason. This is the Key Characteristic of the Ennegram Personality type 6. See also Undying Loyalty and My Country, Right or Wrong.


Examples:

Anime

Film
  • In City of Ember most people treat the mayor as a pretty infallible and sensible authority figure, which he abused to his gain. Though their city was breaking down and the power plant to their Terminally Dependent Society was nearing failure he managed to keep almost everyone content. The protagonists were some of the few to see the problem and fought to find a way out.
  • The second Alien vs. Predator movie had one character blurt out "The government doesn't lie!" when soldiers were sent to keep everyone quiet. Much revelry was had in theaters.
  • Lampshaded in Life of Brian:
    Brian: Look, you've got it all wrong, you don't need to follow me; you don't need to follow anyone. You're all individuals!
    Crowd: Yes! We're all individuals!
    Brian: You're all different!
    Crowd: Yes! We're all different!
    Crowd: Shh! Shhhh!
    Brian: You've all got to work it out for yourselves!
    Crowd: Yes, we've got to work it out for ourselves!
    Brian: Yes exactly!
    Crowd: Tell us more!
    Brian: No, that's the point, don't let anyone tell you what to do, otherwise... ow!
    Woman in Black: That's enough.

Western Animation
  • Lord Mantle of Shadow Raiders believed himself to be one, as did most of his planet's populace. His Pride led him to betray the alliance to prove that his people could deal with a Planet Eater on their own, sabotaging all allied ships other than his own.
  • In King of the Hill Hank Hill seems to be this way about Buck Strickland. Weirdly, he oscillates between blind admiration and exasperated confusion at his mismanagement. Although, let's face it, the entire show suffered from epic levels of Aesop Amnesia.

Real Life
  • Lets just say that this is often seen in politics and leave it at that.
  • Like our fellow apes, humans are built to respect authority (common chimps are hierarchical around strong males, bonobos are more matrilineal). There's variation, of course, and it is intensely debated whether "alpha males" are leaders or just breeders.
    • The work of Dr. Jonathan Haidt has elucidated that respect for authority is stronger among conservatives than liberals. This and in-group loyalty explains why conservatives are a bloc, whereas liberals are a coalition.
    • This also explains Stockholm Syndrome, battered wife syndrome, and similar.
    • Cults tend to be built around incredibly charismatic leaders. Combine force of personality with the enforced isolation that they also tend to adore and you can get seriously blind obedience.
Community Feedback Replies: 23
  • March 10, 2012
    TBeholder
    Following Unquestionably?
  • March 12, 2012
    Earnest
    Hmm, yeah that's easier to drop in a sentence without potholing. Switching names when more examples come in.
  • March 13, 2012
    Chabal2
    The second Alien Vs Predator movie had one character blurt out "The government doesn't lie!" when soldiers were sent to keep everyone quiet. Much revelry was had in theaters.
  • March 14, 2012
    JohnDiFool
    Lampshaded in Life Of Brian:

    Brian: "You can all think for yourselves!"

    Crowd: "We can all think for ourselves!"
  • March 14, 2012
    Aries
    Compare/ Contrast Honor Before Reason
  • June 9, 2012
    RedneckRocker
    Don't know if this counts, but Hank Hill seems to be this way about Buck Strickland in King Of The Hill. (Although, let's face it, the entire show suffered from epic levels of Aesop Amnesia).
  • June 9, 2012
    MiinU
    Blind Obedience might work better.
  • June 11, 2012
    AgProv
    Real life - the way followers of a political party, even in a nominal democracy, can set aside their rational ability to scrutinise and criticize the actions of those above them. Especially marked if the Leader is strong and charismatic and/or gets an easy time from the media. This tendency to behave like sheep was especially marked in Conservative backbenchers in Margaret Thatcher's gov'ts (1979 and on) and repeated in Tony Blair's incredibly supine New "Labour", whose backbenchers seemed to be populated with drone-like Borg assimilated to the Party message. And his acclaimed "Blair Babes" corps of women MP's, who from outside looked like a Stepford cult dedicated to the Leader... internationally, there are probably still Republicans who revere Richard Milhous Nixon and consider he was the innocent victim of a dirty filthy liberal conspiracy to besmirch his name... the whole point is, you do not have to be German or a Nazi to fall under the spell of a strong Leader...
  • June 11, 2012
    surgoshan
    • Like our fellow apes, humans are built to respect authority (common chimps are hierarchical around strong males, bonobos are more matrilineal). There's variation, of course.
      • The work of Dr. Jonathan Haidt has elucidated that respect for authority is stronger among conservatives than liberals. This and in-group loyalty explains why conservatives are a bloc, whereas liberals are a coalition.
      • This also explains Stockholm Syndrome, battered wife syndrome, and similar.
      • Cults tend to be built around incredibly charismatic leaders. Combine force of personality with the enforced isolation that they also tend to adore and you can get seriously blind obedience.
  • June 11, 2012
    zarpaulus
    ^ There's a lot of debate on whether "alpha males" are leaders or just breeders.
  • June 11, 2012
    Hertzyscowicz
  • June 11, 2012
    MorganWick
    You might want to link this from Dying Like Animals.

    The Life Of Brian sequence went like this:
    Brian: You're all individuals!
    Crowd: Yes! We're all individuals!
    Brian: You're all different!
    Crowd: Yes! We're all different!

    You can probably Google a video of the whole sequence.

    And Ag Prov, I think that example is just begging for trouble.
  • June 11, 2012
    TwoGunAngel
    Definitely one for the Character Flaw Index.
  • June 11, 2012
    jatay3
    Ag Prov, it was enough to say "Often seen in politics".
  • June 11, 2012
    TwoGunAngel
    I'd personally write that as "Often seen in politics, where followers of political parties often set aside their rational ability to scrutinize and criticize the actions of those above them, particularly when the leaders are strong and charismatic and/or get an easy time from the media." Any elaboration on this, or examples of specific political parties where this happens would be pushing it according to the Rule Of Cautious Editing Judgement.
  • June 11, 2012
    Damr1990
    This is the Key Characteristic of the Ennegram Personality type 6
  • June 11, 2012
    Damr1990
    see also Undying Loyalty
  • December 6, 2012
    Bisected8
    • Gunner Jergen is given this portrayal in the Ciaphas Cain novels. Although only his very first appearance (when Cain was ordering him to help him escape) really counts, since Cain doesn't tend to abuse this trait.
  • December 6, 2012
    Jaqen
    Literature 'Harry Potterandthe Deathly Hallows' Harry discovers that Dumbledore's plan was a;ways to murder Harry, Harry continues with Blind Obedience.
  • December 6, 2012
    MorganWick
  • December 6, 2012
    Riddler
    There's also AnimalFarm, where the other animals eventually follow the pigs unquestioningly.
  • December 7, 2012
    Chabal2
    Berserk: This is the general sentiment among the first Band of the Hawk, helped by the fact that (at that point) Griffith's invincible tactics and swordmanship still have yet to be proven wrong. It all goes to hell when Guts sticks to his original plan of leaving the Hawks, beating Griffith to do so. Griffith is so distraught that one of his men could actually leave him, sleeps with the King's daughter, which gets him arrested and the whole Band of the Hawk declared outlaws. Griffith's Moral Event Horizon comes when, after the remaining Hawks have rescued him, still hoping he can be returned as he was, sacrifices the lot without remorse for personal power.
  • December 7, 2012
    DracMonster
    • This was an explicit tenet of Bushido. Expressing even mild disapproval of your lord's actions was forbidden no matter how wrong or unjust he might be. The only legitimate way for a vassal to protest was by committing ritual suicide (although issuing a The Reason You Suck Speech just beforehand generally got a pass if you were sufficiently polite about it.)
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=hctxd776u79c98cq6havypf0&trope=BlindObedience