Lawful Stupid


(permanent link) added: 2009-08-29 15:11:48 sponsor: Josh the Aspie (last reply: 2009-08-29 21:31:25)

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As referenced at in this discussion on the Trope Repair Forum: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=7bnguka35yjv2yjxrq91ttug we are looking at splitting Lawful Stupid, Chaotic Stupid up into the various elements that are already separated on the page. I've sorted out Lawful stupid as one example. There are a few examples where Lawful Stupid and Stupid Good may be a bit mixed, and I left those in. I figure that after the split is complete, we can redact that parts that no longer fit. My take on this split is below. If no one objects here, or in the discussion thread in 2 days, this thread will go live. I will only place one of these threads here at a time, unless there is a request that I speed the process up.

Also known as Lawful Anal or 'Awful Good,' these people often call themselves Lawful Good, but seem to completely forget about the "Good" part. Rather, they lean toward such rigid adherence to the law that anybody who breaks any law, anywhere, is the enemy. Even saying an unkind word to someone is an act of pure evil, and the Lawful Stupid can and will act as judge, jury, and executioner. They refuse to hide from even overwhelming threats, and believe that letting evil win in any sort of way (by, say, helping the village to retreat from the advancing dark army) is against their alignment.

Woe be to the fellow party member who fails to live up to their almost obsessive-compulsive standards. If the thief so much as jaywalks, Mr. Lawful Stupid will insist on turning him in to the "proper authorities" (regardless of what alignment said authorities actually are), or perhaps even execute him on the spot. Then he'll berate the other members of his party for "condoning" the thief's behavior, and may turn on them as well. This makes this guy highly irritating, to the point where despite usually calling themselves Lawful Good, they look a lot like Lawful Evil. Or maybe Chaotic Neutral - For newbie [DMs], the best solution is usually a blunt force object applied to the head of the offending character.

In tabletop roleplaying games, it's apparently such a common behavior for paladins (see Leeroy Jenkins) that it seems this is what everyone expects paladins to do these days. When one person attempted to play a "rather quiet, unassuming sort" of paladin, they ended up losing their character sheet because all the other players expected them to do stupid things.

In fact, it's so common that the Dungeons & Dragons Sourcebook Book of Exalted Deeds spends a good number of pages explaining how to be Lawful Good without being a total dimwit. The creators themselves got sick of it.

Lawful Stupid characters often also hold very reactionary attitudes, such as that women should Stay in the Kitchen (though to be sure, this may be a good idea for the women in order to insure their own health, at least until the zealot in question meets their fate, whatever it may be).

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Examples of Lawful Stupid/Stupid Good

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]

  • Post-Time Skip Rossiu from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann becomes a little bit too zealous in his task of upholding the newly created law, much to the very great annoyance of Chaotic Good Simon. For example, he believes the Grappal are far more advanced than the Gurren Lagann and keeps telling Simon that he must rely on his Red Shirt Army instead of fighting himself, even though, this being a Super Robot show, it's bleeding obvious that Simon's Gurren Lagann is the most powerful mecha in the world.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films]]
  • Colonel "Bat" Guano of Dr. Strangelove tries to stop Group Captain Mandrake from robbing a vending machine to get money for a pay phone. Given that Mandrake is trying to call Washington with the recall codes to stop the impending nuclear holocaust, Guano's attitude isn't really the most sensible. Hedoes give in, but with the stern warning that Mandrake "will have to answer to the Coca-Cola Company."
  • RoboCop is subjected to this in the second movie, in a deliberate bid by the evil corporation to make him so useless that they can justify scrapping him. They decide to make him a more positive social role model by giving him over three hundred new Directives that he's forced to obey, including "Pool opinions before expressing yourself", "Discourage feelings of negativity and hostility", and "Don't run through puddles and splash other pedestrians".
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
  • Many of Piers Anthony's protagonists are Lawful Stupid. Doing the "honorable" thing is more important to them than stopping the villain. If they were tricked into giving their word of honor on something then they will keep their word, even if it means allowing the villain to commit evil acts.
    • This was subverted in the Mode series, when the villain made a deal where he would let the heroes go free, if they agreed not to stop him. When the leader of the heroes accepted, he blindly believed the hero, because he knew that honor meant everything to him. Honor meant absolutely nothing to the main character and her super-intelligent psionic horse, who went along with the plan, and then betrayed the villain the moment they were out of his realm.
    • In the Author's Note to one of his books, Anthony defends his characters' Lawful Stupidity as being the right thing to do. In fact, the specific example he was defending was Grey Murphy's willingness to become the evil Com Pewter's servant (if he hadn't found a loophole in his contract), which was a particularly egregious Warped Aesop since it wasn't even Grey who made the promise. It was his parents. Then it turns out that Grey's ultimate resolution to the problem is to reprogram Com Pewter against his will. Failing to honor promises you didn't make is wrong, but brainwashing is fine? Er, okay...
  • Eddard Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire is bound by an inflexible code of honor. It doesn't feel as egregious as might be normal, though. His flaw, in the end, wasn't his code of honor, but his belief that other people are better or more honest than they actually are and that they can be shamed into doing the right thing; he's willing to do the right thing, no matter how hard that may actually be.
    • His son, on the other hand, falls into this category towards the end.
  • In Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, Rand al'Thor -- and pretty much every other male good guy -- has a completely pointless code of honour about not harming a woman, no matter how evil. Which is nonsensical, since every single chapter of the series shows that the women of that world neither need nor deserve protection. This even extends to when a woman is trying to kill him....
    • This is taken to such extreme that he lets his mentor and only true Aes Sedai ally GET KILLED because he refuses to kill his past self's psychotic former girlfriend (don't ask) when she becomes homicidal. Despite the fact that she is also threatening the woman he loves.
      • He was barely breaking even with her, and tryin to stop his past self from taking over. A better example would be him memorizing the name of every woman who died for him while ignoring the men who did the same.
      • Note that this seems to only apply to Rand. Mat and Perrin try to avoid killing women but will do so when necessary and don't beat themselves up for it. Rand has... issues. And knows it.
        • He actually laughs about the idiocy of it all.
    • Another example from the same series is Galad Damodred, a character described by his half-sister as a man who "does what is right, no matter who is hurt by it, even himself."
      • That said, it's amazing what he can justify to himself when it comes right down to it...
  • Obligatory Discworld example: Carrot Ironfoundersson spends a lot of time acting a textbook-version of Lawful Stupid, even going so far as to obey and/or cite laws established long ago, even or especially those that aren't enforced since they're unnecessary but are still around since no one bothered to repeal them. A lot of the time it seems he gets away with his cheerful demeanor in a city like Ankh-Morpork because of A) the sheer force of his crazy notion that everyone's basically decent underneath and B) Silverbolt-level good luck. That being said, there is a lot of implication that there is far more to Carrot than meets the eye ("You'd have to be very complex to be as simple as Carrot"), and that he can turn from genially dim-witted to a wall of steel who's just asked you a question you really don't want answered in the blink of an eye. Also, if you try anything funny, he probably could kill you with his bare hands. Not that he would, but that's worth noting, even in Ankh-Morpork.
    • Not so much on the obeying of old laws, actually. Or rather, not so much that it makes him Lawful Stupid. He actually uses it to his advantage repeatedly, especially in the older books, before he gets a reputation for shenanigans of that nature (in Men at Arms he successfully manages to force Mayonnaise Quirke to stand down after the Night Watch has been forcibly stood down, because of an old law that was never repealed regarding the formation of citizen's militias after the breakdown of law and order, which he manages to successfully prove has occurred).
    • Commander Sam Vimes, however, is one of the few different ways to successfully play Lawful Good without venturing into Lawful Stupid territory and Carrot does seem to be learning from him. Vimes is is one of the most underhanded, cunning people in fiction, yet he is still a legend across the Disc for his commitment to justice. There are some laws and rules he refuses to break, because he knows that once you break a rule for a good reason, it's much easier to break it for a bad one.
      • Among the other things that Carrot does that astounds Vimes and Angua is that his first action on Angua going missing is to report it to Vimes before going off to find her.
      • There's a motivational poster floating around the internet with a sketch of Vimes by Paul Kidby and the caption, "This is how you play Lawful Good you bastards."
        • Ha, I found the image [1].
  • Averted by the main character in Elizabeth Moon's The Deed of Paksenarrion, which was written explicitly as a guide to being a Paladin without being Lawful Stupid, because the author was tired of constantly running into Lawful Stupid paladins at conventions.
  • Eve Forward's Villains by Necessity has the Balance Between Good and Evil central to its plot -- if it's not maintained, the world will be sublimated into either a big light blur or a big dark blur with a possible domino effect for other worlds -- but supports this mostly by populating the side of Good with Lawful Stupid Knights Templar, with some Stupid Good lackeys for variety. This has the unfortunate effect of undermining the premise, since the "good" antagonists really aren't particularly good people, and the "evil" protagonists mostly aren't particularly evil either. Notably, one such Stupid Good lackey, the centaur bard Robin, eventually clues in and performs a Heel-Face Turn to side with the "evil" protagonists, and the Black Knight called Blackmail turns out to be a legendary paladin who has sided with the protagonists for the sake of saving the world and in disgust at his former Nakama's Lawful Stupid behavior.

  • Notably averted (in regards to both Lawful Stupid and Stupid Good) by Michael Carpenter and the other Knights of the Cross in The Dresden Files. The Lawful Stupid seems to come from how Michael is a devout Christian and the closest thing to a paladin in the series, and often makes his opinion on Harry's practices (from using magic and consorting with spirits, to having sex outside of marriage) known and disapproves of some of Harry's less moral actions, and general antipathy toward religion. Nevertheless, he never pushes his beliefs on Harry, recognizes him as a good man who strives to do what is right to the best of his ability, and is Harry's closest friend and ally. Harry himself describes Michael as genuinely righteous and humble, and says that looking into his soul made him weep. The Stupid Good seems to come from how the Knights show a desire to redeem the Knights of the Blackened Denarius (an order of thirty people who have made a pact with Fallen Angels), constantly offering them the chance for redemption and refusing to kill one at one point. The aversion comes from how they only do this if a Denarian surrenders its coin containing the angel, and are otherwise quite willing to fight and kill them (they also show no problem with unequivocally evil or chaotic creatures). Michael points out that the Christian God is about forgiveness, and that mercy is what sets the Knights above those they fight (one of the Knights themselves is a proof example of how that attitude actually works). Also, at one point, one of the Knights makes a deal with a Denarian, fully expecting betrayal. The only reason he did it was because he knew it to be the only way to save Harry, whose life he valued more (plus, he was dying of cancer).
    • While not Lawful Stupid, Harry does suffer from Honor Before Reason, something he acknowledges. On the other hand, even Archangels seem to agree with Harry's way of doing things.
  • In some of the spinoff-Halo books, there is a small faction of The Covenant called The Governors of Contrition. While the normal Covenant place a large emphasis on the the works of the Forerunners being holy, the Governors of Contrition take it to a huge extreme. They even consider The Flood (a plague that turns people into space-zombies) to be worth embracing because it was created by the forerunners (which it wasn't). Even the normally ridiculously dogmatic Covenant realize this is madness.
  • Arguably, Percy Weasley in Harry Potter.
  • In one of C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower novels, Hornblower can save his ship only by lying to a French officer that Napoleon has recently died. To make the enemy believe him, Hornblower has to support the lie by taking an oath on his honor as an officer. He plans to resign his commission in disgrace at the next port, because he has permanently dishonored himself. Fortunately for him, he finds out, by Jove, Napoleon really IS dead, so the lie was the truth all along. In Forester's defense, he conveys the standards of that culture so vividly that the reader can believe in Hornblower's scruples.
  • Victor Hugo's Les Misérables has Inspector Javert, who is Lawful Stupid in that he holds the law so far above any common sense and morality that he chose to commit suicide instead of acknowledging that the hero, despite being a fugitive, was a good guy.
    • There are many ways to interpret Javert's suicide, including the exact opposite of the above. Javert holds such a rigid view of right and wrong, and has such a deeply ingrained repugnance for everything he sees as "wrong", that his suicide could be seen as the ultimate acknowledgment of Jean Valjean's virtue. The problem is, if Valjean is in the right, then that means that the dogged, obsessive pursuit of him by Javert was and has always been wrong. I.E. Javert kills himself because he cannot accept that he IS the thing he has spent his entire life fighting.
  • Cao Cao in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Three Kingdoms period? Arguably; either he is Lawful Stupid, a real master of PR, or simply awesome. In one instance, his troops are marching through wheat fields when Cao orders the men not trample the wheat, or they will be beheaded. Doing so, he wins the peasants' affections, since the peasants would like to eventually eat. Unfortunately, Cao's horse bolts and tramples some of the wheat in a panic. The law technically doesn't apply to Cao Cao. Accounts vary, but in one version Cao either goes to take his own life or orders himself executed. His men intervene and stop him, and Cao Cao instead cuts his hair in disgrace and shows it to the army. Either Cao Cao proved uncharacteristically Lawful Stupid at that moment, or he knew his men would spare him. Regardless, knowing their boss was quite willing to suffer such harsh discipline himself raised his men's moral and discipline greatly. Lawful Stupid or brilliant: could go either way.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
  • The Ancients, infamous Neglectful Precursors from Stargate SG-1, would rather let the galaxy be conquered by Scary Dogmatic Aliens (who would then promptly turn on them) or, worse yet, have all life eradicated by replicating killer robots, than violate their Prime Directive of non-intervention. Also note how they "justified" descending Daniel Jackson yet letting Anubis remain half-ascended.
    • They justified letting Anubis hang on to Ancient powers and knowledge as a punishment for Omala Desala, whom he had tricked into helping him ascend (helping others ascend being an Ancient no-no). So they're not just Lawful Stupid, they're maliciously vindictive.
  • Kathryn Janeway of Star Trek: Voyager has occasionally been Lawful Stupid. Several times she has refused to take an opportunity to get the ship home because it would require going against the "values" of the Federation. This isn't always a bad thing, mind -- the Federation was envisioned as a near-idealistic society, so it would have some values worth keeping to -- but it grated on some viewers after a while. And, of course, if she had, the show would have been over. Was Lampshaded in an episode, where a holographic simulation shows the Maquis taking over Voyager, because of their frustration over Janeway's Lawful Stupid tendencies. In "Madame Captain's" defense, though, the Prime Directive seemed to require Lawful Stupidity of Starfleet officers.
    • The Next Generation was not immune to Lawful Stupidity. For example, Picard and Worf regard violating the prime directive (or using subterfuge to intervene without violating it) worst than letting a species go extinct when their planet is about to blow up. See the episode involving Worf's human half-brother.
      • Also of note is the episode where only at Data's strong insistence do they decide to trouble themselves to help from another planet about to explode.
    • The episode of Enterprise manages to one-up the above examples, as they doom a whole sapient species to death by genetic defect, despite having already developed the cure (they just decide not to distrubute it). They do this because Archer envisions that there will be some directive against it in the future.
  • The Alliance in Firefly combines both Lawful Stupid and Stupid Good into one "oppressing you for your own good" package. The entire Unification War was brought about because the Alliance decided it wanted to bring "civilization" to the Border and Rim worlds, and only their form of civilization would be accepted. At the same time, the Alliance also had several other projects running to bring order and control, such as an airborne drug that reduced entire planetary populations into docile pacifists ( that had the side effect of making most of the people simply lay down and die, and triggering psychotic berserk violence in the remainder) and also had a fun little secret side project to produce insane psychic assassins from children.
  • Peter Petrelli ("Adam is my friend. I can't let you hurt him.") and Hiro Nakamura (Why don't you just kill the bad guy when you have the chance? "I can't kill somebody begging for forgiveness. It's against the bushido code.") of Heroes.
    • In Hiro's case he is consciously emulating this trope, since comic books and samurai stories have convinced him that this is how a hero is supposed to behave, which I would count as a partial deconstruction.
  • In Doctor Who, the Doctor can seem to veer wildly between Lawful Stupid and Stupid Good on occasion, particularly in the new series; he can ruthlessly dispatch and / or punish relatively minor foes or those who break his rules based on a belief in "no second chances" (such as leaving Adam stuck with a piece of futuristic technology in his head for attempting to profit from futuristic technology, or denying Britain a 'golden age' by manipulating the ousting of Harriet Jones from office after she ordered the destruction of a fleet of defeated alien invaders, something which went against the Doctor's efforts), whilst at the same time demonstrating an at-times almost boggling level of compassion and attempts at mercy towards foes whose sins have been much, much worse (such as attempting to forgive and / or rescue both The Master and Davros, each genocidal maniacs with raging God complexes and an overall body-count well into the billions by this point). It's worth noting that those in the second group tend to be long-time recurring foes with Joker Immunity.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Mythology]]
  • King Arthur. So determined to bring about this new Rule of Law idea that he lets himself be used by evil people in the guise of upholding the law. This includes Mordred, his bastard (in both senses of the word) son, who is seeking to get Arthur's wife killed for infidelity.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
  • Planescape describes "lawful over good" approach as a characteristic of entire plane of Arcadia (between LG and LN). It's primary plane of influence of the Harmonium faction. AD&D Player's guide to the Planes:
    ... the Harmonium believes that peace is a better end than war. [...] If it takes thumping heads to spread the truth, well, the Harmonium's ready to thump heads. Sure, there may not be peace right away, but every time the Harmonium gets rid of an enemy, the multiverse is that much closer to the universal harmony it was meant to have.
    • That is, until Hardheads managed to slip the whole layer into Mechanus. And got La Résistance including proxies of Arcadian gods who weren't too happy that they had to re-create their domains, surprise.
  • Elder Evils, a book from the 3.5 edition of Dungeons & Dragons, features a canonical example of a Lawful Stupid alignment in the form of Obilgatum VII, an extraplanar robot who wants to free the sentient Weapon of Mass Destruction/Eldritch Abomination Pandorym. Is it because Obligatum is a Omnicidal Maniac? No, it's actually because the dumbasses wizards who called the thing to the material plane in the first place were somewhat deceptive. Obligatum is presented as an enemy of the party, because he is one of a clockwork race called the Inevitables, whose sole function of existence is to keep the multiverse running according to law. His specific division enforces major contracts. The wizards in question made quite a major contract with Pandorym, then broke it by imprisoning it for umpteen aeons and preventing it from completing its own end of killing all gods... or even returning from whence it came. Ironically, there's another, far more powerful branch of the Inevitables that would take a very dim view of what Pandoryrm was contracted to do in the first place. However, since the gods took it into their own hands to smite the idiot mages who started the whole thing, they didn't have to act... at least at that time. The scenario presented makes no mention of this branch of the race coming into conflict with Obligatum; presumably there is an override to prevent a race war between them where they never interfere with the business of another Inevitable if it is "first to the scene"?
    • All Inevitables cleave very close to this trope actually. I mean there's even one Inevitable that will kill you for the crime of living too long.
  • A more straight version of the trope is Kelemvor Lyonsbane, the god of the dead. He's supposed to be a good guy, and an improvement over his predecessor. And indeed, he does not go out murdering mortals for the pleasure of it; he instead sees to it that all pass in their time. But then there's this wall in his domain, called the Wall of the Faithless. Whomsoever dies without having worshiped a god (even just paying lip service, though they get their own punishment, as being False) has his soul merge with the wall, slowly and painfully destroying him until there's no mind or personality left. People who live in areas where there is no religion featuring gods to worship are bound to end up there -- even if they have no other option. You can give money to the poor, make clothes for the orphans, be the nicest person around, and if you do not worship a god, you're just another brick in the wall in the end. Same goes for followers of Ao the Overgod, though he is specifically mentioned as not responding to either mortal or deity. Kelemvor does nothing about the wall, accepting its Disproportionate Retribution. He could replace the wall with something less horrible, he just chooses not to. The jerk is clearly biased in favor of god-worship.
    • There's no agnosticism because the gods can be proven to exist, and the people really truly believe in them (most people, outside of Clerics, Paladins, and other divine spell casters, actually worship multiple gods). In addition, there are no areas in the Forgotten Realms where there are no gods.
      • Of course, people from cultures that do not worship gods suffer the same faith as Atheist. So not only are the people of the realm expected to worship a god, or suffer a fate worst than death, but you have to make sure thing your worshipping is actually a god. Worshipping any other type of apparently divine being is also ticket to the wall. If you live in some backwater village that never had a priest of any religion visit it? Well, it's wall for you!
        • So there's no such cultures, not even a village. Not with Faerun's feverish level of divine activity. For any idol that makes half a sense there's a god or two ready to absorb it as a minor aspect to get worship and widen portfolio. Conversely, masquerading as and granting spells in the name of dead or absent god is allowed, so the deity may turn out to be not quite what followers expects.
    • It bears mentioning, however, that gods in the setting require worship to maintain their power and energy. The Wall of the Faithless is less punishment for atheism than it is the stick of the gods' carrot-and-stick approach with mortals. Parts of the world where there are no religions have no gods concerning those parts of the world, though other deities can and will interfere when those parts of the world impact the deities' portfolios and interests.
      • That would make this extortion more than a carrot and a stick. Carrot and a stick would be "if you don't worship me then you'll miss out on cake!" While extortion is "Do it or else."
        • Not really. Carrot and stick is reward AND punishement as incentive. So it's quite correct as it is. "Worship us and get to my plane of existance, or don't and go to the wall of the faithless". Still can be very easilly considered evil though. On another note, on Faerun there is pretty much nowhere without acess to some god. Any culture that doesn't originally have one, will have all of them running to get the potential worshipers first than the rest.
      • So, the gods of the Realms are basically supernatural parasites who condemn mortals for not wanting to feed them. That makes a twisted kind of sense, although it would seem to cast a rather dim light on their claim to divinity. (YMMV with regard to the latter, of course; if the setting has nothing better to offer in terms of gods, well...)
    • He tried to make a better solution. It didn't work and the other gods nearly threw him out. During Kelemvor's phase as a Lawful Good deity, he did do away with the Wall. Ao himself (the overgod) came down hard on Kelemvor's case for doing so, as it threatened to break down the Realms -- with no threat of the Wall, many mortals felt no need to worship, and the power of the gods threatened to tumble. After Ao's intervention, Kelemvor turned Lawful Neutral, returned the Wall to its prior (and current) state, and distanced himself from his humanity -- such are the demands of godhood.
      • The problem was not as much in removing the Wall as in rewards involved in his attempt to recreate all the Outer Planes in his domain. If instead of pocketing unclaimed petitioners he just threw them to Outlands to whatever fate they'll find, hardly anyone would object.
    • Funny part here is Kelemvor's own stance on religion while he was mortal. He couldn't find a slightest trace of faith even after seeing several avatars in action.
    • Another Lawful Stupid moment from Kelemvor is present in Neverwinter Nights 2 -- Mask of The Betrayer. He claims he can't deal with the spirit eater curse because it would be overiding another god (this appears to be a moral rather then physical issue), nevermind that said god is more or less dead, but Kelemvor is said god's successor.
  • Prior to the Book of Exalted Deeds, 2nd edition D&D had The Complete Paladin's Handbook. While it admitted that the notion of a paladin-king is romantic, but rare because rulership often requires compromising personal ideals, it also covered territory in how not to be Lawful Stupid. In one example, a paladin finds himself unfortunately (and by his own free will) bound to serve three commands of an evil priest. In the first, the priest tries to get information on those who oppose him, leading the paladin to respond with a whole lot of half-answers, culminating in the priest insisting "if you tell me nothing, I will assume I'm correct" and the paladin simply replying "you may assume whatever you wish." Finally, the priest sends the paladin to bring back the head of a nobleman, his most hated enemy. The paladin returns with the nobleman's head. And the rest of him, all in one piece. With a couple hundred men-at-arms, none of whom are too happy with the priest.
    • The same book had, however, many Lawful Stupid rules. For example it's unthinkable for a paladin to retreat from battle unless his side is severely outmatched (at least outnumbered 2 to 1). Thus using such tactics (such as retreating to continue the fight on more advantageous terms, to trick the enemy side into comitting some tactical error, or for whatever strategic reasons) are clearly against a Paladin's ethos. What to do if he's just ordered to disengage without an explanation?
      • The same book also forbade Paladins from associating with evil characters, failing to realise that a) It's not because the guy is evil that he can't serve good (by helping save the world for example); b) That the mere presence of a Paladin will limit how much evil the evil party member can do; c) That the presence of a paladin leading by example could perhaps lead said evildoer to abandon his evil ways and turn neutral or good? The Paladin's Handbook even suggested Paladins should avoid associating with a party mostly composed of neutral characters. Lawful Stupid indeed. The book insisted that Paladins could only stick around such groups for as long as absolutely necessary, and then that they should part ways ASAP.
    • And then BoED dives into it, from playing with Virgin Power (no references to "12 Year Old Gamer Girl" template from Bride of Portable Hole. All serious.) and funny redemption rules (Vision of Heaven spell, huh) to more fishy telepathy overhearing (saints only!) and "Bad poison -- good poison" parts...
    • A good example of a full aversion can be found on this thread. In it, a Lawful Good paladin behaves exactly the way he should, even in the face of an evil party member. At first, it's because the paladin believes he can redeem him, while the Chaotic Evil character seeks to further his own agenda. By the end, they find that even a demon can recognize the value of an ally and friend, and a paladin can aid evil if it serves the greater good.
  • The Trope Overdosed Tabletop Game Warhammer 40,000 has a few examples of this.
    • Many Chapters of Imperial Space Marines suffer from this. Some of them decry any form of stealth as cowardice; others refuse to retreat even when strategically or tactically viable out of a sense of martial pride; and others still refuse to field psykers, work alongside aliens, or even ally with anyone else at all because of deeply-held suspicions and prejudices. The Space Marines' holy book, the Codex Astartes, actually discourages this sort of behavior and contains all sorts of useful and varied tactical advice; however, adhering too closely to the Codex Astartes can cause a Chapter to enter Lawful Stupid territory from the other direction. An example of this second type is the Ultramarines, who exiled Captain Uriel Ventris and forced him to become The Atoner after he used slightly unorthodox tactics against the Tyranids.
      • Made worse because their own Primarch (and writer of the Codex Astartes) Roboute Guilliman went against it a number of times, mostly when fighting the Alpha Legion. Marneus Calgar, their current Chapter Master, used unorthodox tactics fighting the Tyranids as well because the Codex Astartes had nothing on them.
      • The Ultramarines are probably the number one victim of Accentuate the Negative because of this. The Codex Astartes was not considered a document of holy significance in Guilliman's time. In fact, the Emperor specifically tried to promote atheism throughout the Imperium. Marneus Calgar came to the conclusion, upon reflection, that he was being Lawful Stupid and that Guilliman never intended for the Codex Astartes to be this way. So, in conclusion, in the grim darkness of the far future there's always room for Character Development.
    • The Monodominant faction of the Inquisition are, as a group, fanatically devoted to the letter of Imperial law and dogma, to the point that they are considered xenophobic and reactionary even by the xenophobic and reactionary standards of the Imperium. Monodominants fervently believe that only genetically pure and religiously faithful humans deserve to exist, and that everything else - aliens, daemons, heretics, malcontents, traitors, and mutants, up to and sometimes including the psykers that the Imperium needs in order to continue functioning - needs to be killed with fire. Other Inquisitors tend to consider the Monodominants bombastic, closed-minded, and self-defeating, and note that their pogroms and witch hunts tend to bury more answers than they uncover (and, less importantly, tend to kill a lot of innocent people in the process). The Monodominants usually respond by loudly accusing their detractors of heresy and attempting to kill them (with fire).
    • Another great example of Lawful Stupid space marines comes from the later Dawn of War Expansion Packs. In Dark Crusade the Space Marine Blood Ravens and the Redshirt Army Imperial Guard both have orders from their superiors to claim the planet resulting in two armies fighting "for the Emperor" against each other. The Guard fighting for their homeworld, the marines willing to opliterate them to be on the safe side regarding heresy and mutants. Soulstorm tops it by also adding the Church Militant Adepta Sororitas.
  • In the World of Darkness RPG Werewolf: The Apocalypse, most Werewolf tribes tend to take Lawful Stupid to gory new heights. If they so much as think someone is tainted with the slightest bit of evil, GROWLSLASHKILLBITEMAIMKILLSLASH...
  • In the World of Darkness game Hunter: The Reckoning, several groups of hunters seemed to fall exclusively into the realm of Lawful Stupid (Zeal) or Stupid Good (Mercy). This was meant to refer to the extremes in philosophy of the groups, but this troper remembers a specific instance, where his GM -- a fan of the Zeal virtue -- heavily penalized this troper's Redeemer for actively defending herself instead of just letting the monsters kill her.
    • To be fair, anyone with a virtue rating higher than 7 becomes incurably insane and the Vision caste are, by design, meant to guide the others in looking at the bigger picture. So the issues with the Zeal and Mercy castes are more crippling overspecialization than anything. Furthermore, anyone who does anything has some horrible retribution waiting for them anyway.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Battle gives us Lord Mazdamundi of the Lizardmen, who has ruled that all species have to go back to within the boundaries set for them 20,000 years ago by a race who disappeared when Chaos first came to the Warhammer world. Part of this involves putting all of the elves back on Ulthuan -- high elves, dark elves, and wood elves. The main downside to this? High elves hate dark elves, dark elves hate high elves, and wood elves hate everybody. The culture of the elves would be reduced to burning ruins within a year. Throw in the fact that Elves are manning many of the ex-Lizardmen anti-Chaos wards outside of Ulthuan... yeah, this makes standard Lawful Stupid look clever.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
  • The guards in the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. When the player is arrested, his options are Pay Fine/Go to Jail/Resist Arrest, but if an NPC commits a minor crime (some are programmed to steal food if their hunger drops too low) the only options the guard gives them are Fine/Resist. If they have no money, they are forced to resist, so guards will routinely kill a man for stealing bread, and not even bother to clear away the corpse.
    • That's more of a case of bad programming. The guards probably would allow NPCs to be hauled off to jail if the AI was advanced enough. There's at least one Game Mod out there that corrects this behavior.
    • This troper recently had to use the console to resurrect City-Swimmer after she was murdered by a psychopathic guard that had pursued her across town and into an inn, and, upon inspecting the corpse before the resurrection, found a single stolen onion. Then again, that's remarkably similar to stories found in records of those sent to Australia when it was a prison colony -- a teenage boy was transported for stealing one pair of shoes.
  • This Troper remembers an instance in the Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind when he clicked on a napkin in an inn, thinking it was a piece of paper with a note. As a result he picked up the napkin, only to be yelled at by every member of the inn and chased by every guard in the game until he reverted to the last saved game.
  • There's something wrong when the Imperial Dragon of the Imperial Legion is arrested for picking up a cup that was on the ground.
  • One rather cruel example can crop up if you have the paladin Keldorn in your party in the D&D-based game Baldur's Gate II. If you accept his offer to visit his home, you'll find that his wife has been cheating on him out of loneliness and concern for their children, as Keldorn is always off crusading. The most obvious thing to do is to let him follow the "lawful" path and report his wife's infidelity to the authorities, which results in her permanent incarceration, the execution of her lover, and his two daughters hating him forever. Keldorn himself is more than happy enough to take a "good" alternative that involves talking with the lover (who willingly steps down if Keldorn faces him) and reconciling with his family -- although this causes him to leave the party.
    • The player does not have to actually lose Keldorn, by giving him a day with his family and then asking him back into the party. On the other hand, Keldorn rejects the idea that one of the members of your party, a drow, can be redeemed and will eventually fight with her.
    • The game has a traditional example in Anomen, who vies for paladinhood and won't shut up about how far above everything else this places him. Compare:
      Anomen: A dank cesspool of base corruption if ever there was one. Why, if not for the Order, the Gods would surely smite man for such sins! Keldorn: Where men gather, a bustle of chaos ensues. I would save them all, if I could.
      • Except Anomen is Lawful Neutral who believes to be Lawful Good. If he succeeds in his trial, he will actually become Lawful Good and much more humble and reasonable.
    • Note that this distinction is highlighted when Keldorn and Anomen are together in your party. Intra-party dialogue will often have Keldorn lecturing Anomen on his arrogantly narrow and unforgiving brand of goodness. Whether Anomen humbly learns from the example or just becomes more of a stubborn hardass is influenced by the player. If he goes too far down that second path and fails forever to attain paladinhood, he can become straight-up evil out of resentment. Eventually he and Keldorn will try to kill each other.
      • Keldorn's lectures make it all the more jarring when he refuses to believe Viconia the drow can be redeemed. Evidently, when he said "I would save them all, if I could." He meant to add "Except the drows."
    • Arguably some of Jaheira's actions (at least after Khalid's death) tend toward Stupid Neutral, though she is somewhat good in concealing this.
    • The enormous Ranger Minsc deserves a honorable mention, but doesn't fit on this article's scale. After too many blows to the head he's good and stupid separately.
      Minsc: Evil, meet my sword! Sword! Meet! Evil!!
  • Keiichiro Wachizuka of the Last Blade series of fighting games. As a member of the Shinsengumi during the Meiji era, he often let his personal morality, a relic of the age of Samurai, get in the way of his better judgment... which wasn't that good to begin with. He's also an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy who seems to think he's never wrong.
  • Beatrix and Steiner from Final Fantasy IX are supposed to be Lawful Good, but instead come off as lawful stupid. Beatrix helps The Empire destroy two cities, and massively damage a third simply because the Queen is an evil nutcase. Steiner wants to return the Rebellious Princess who wants to escape her evil mother, and doesn't seem to notice the whole evil nutcase part. It's only after the Queen attempts to kill her own daughter does Beatrix even think of rebelling, and only after the Queen nearly does so does she rebel.
    • Also done in the giant tree near Freya's hometown where the residents try to talk to the Queen's soldiers into not fighting, which doesn't work since the soldiers just rush in and slice them. Somewhat justified since the residents lived in peace for years and kind of forgot how to fight since they abolished the arts of war, but even then...
    • Steiner was in denial. Beatrix had no excuse.
    • Beatrix is Lawful Neutral, her primary motivation being service to her kingdom. Tolerating expansionist policies is a part of the job description. Only after Brahne's madness becomes clear does she even think of defecting and even then only to best serve her kingdom.
  • Adell from Disgaea 2 constantly insists on fair fights and keeping promises. This would be all well and good if it wasn't for one teensy weensy little fact: everyone within a 100 mile radius is a Genre Savvy hellspawn willing to milk this for all its worth. Rozalin spends quite a deal of time wondering how this kind of behavior hasn't killed him already. Of course, his attitude actually leads him to achieve heroic victory, so WHO is the Genre Savvy one in the end?
    • To some people, Seraph Lamington of Disgaea 1 can come off as Lawful Stupid or Stupid Good.
  • Lord Theodore, head of the Knights of Mirsaburg in Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song, is Lawful Stupid to the core. Sure, the corrupt nobility deserves his scorn, but Theodore is utterly convinced that he's the only one who's right, ever. He clings so rigidly to his idea of chivalry that at one point, he jails and plans to execute one of his most loyal knights... because they were slashed in the back. After all, the knights never run away, and even though he was clearly ambushed by monsters, without a witness to vouch for him, Theodore automatically assumes that he broke his vow and should die for cowardice. In fact, when the enemy pulls a Fake King plot, it works well mainly because it seems perfectly in-character for him to declare war on one of his allies just because she disagrees with him.
  • In The Conduit, you can listen to a radio transmission of a Straw Feminist saying that the alien invaders who have destroyed Washington DC and killed countless innocents come in peace, and all the fighting was caused by an angry, male-dominated government.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
  • Miko Miyazaki in the webcomic The Order of the Stick is part Lawful Stupid, part Knight Templar, and occasionally parodies both. This strip is a good example of the former. On the other hand, it does have elements of subverting Honor Before Reason, since the whole thing was largely to get the ogres into a compressed area, but it would have been a much better plan if she would have told the others what she was doing.
    • Hinjo, and apparently most of the other paladins of the Sapphire Guard, are subversions, as they act normally, rationally, and without being condescending. They also don't like Miko, and she is sent on away missions so they don't have to deal with her ("often for months at a time"). Hinjo does have his moments of self-righteousness from time to time, but he's mostly a decent, rational and practical man.
      • However, the Sapphire Guard's willing adherence to their founder's promise not to investigate the other Gates, no matter what, can be seen as Lawful Stupid.
      • Likewise, Roy, the leader of the titular Order is Lawful Good but very savvy and originally willing to use trickery in the service of the greater good. (And attracted to Miko until he realizes how Lawful Stupid and spiteful she is.) Later in the series, he is rebuked by a Lawful Good angel for being willing to use such underhanded methods.
      • In the same breath, though, the angel commends him because in spite of his tendency to use Chaotic means to achieve Lawful ends, he keeps trying to stick to being Lawful Good, that, since he's not a being of pure Law and Good like said angel, it's not even remotely reasonable to expect him to be able to behave like one all the time. In short, Roy, like Sam Vimes, is an example of how to play Lawful Good without playing Lawful Stupid.
    • If it's possible to deconstruct a way some people play Lawful Good in an RPG, Miko is it.
      • In the print edition of the comic (No Cure for the Paladin Blues), Rich Burlew, the author of The Order of the Stick, writes in his commentary about Miko that this was intended. See chapter 5:
        Rich Burlew: Miko Miyazaki may be the single most controversial character I have yet created for TOotS. Within days of her introduction, fans were beginning to chose sides as being pro-Miko, anti-Miko, anti-anti-Miko, or what have you. I can't take credit for all of this; the paladin is perhaps the most controversial character class in the game. People feel strongly about paladins -- they either love them or hate them, with few occupying the middle ground. Personally, while there is always a place for the shining knight in fantasy roleplaying, I believe that the class as written actually encourages a type of dysfunction within roleplaying groups. I think of it as the Police Syndrome, wherein one player feels entitled by the rules to actively police the other members of his or her group. [...] In many ways, Miko Miyazaki is the incarnation of those hard feelings. [...] Miko is also the result of me asking myself: "Can a Lawful Good character be the villain -- and still be lawful good?" [...] There was a general outcry about how Miko wasn't the only possible way to portray a paladin that lasted some time, to which I say: Well, obviously. [...] Miko is not the one and only way to play a paladin; if anything, she's one of the WORST ways to play a paladin. [...] Miko is a person who has been raised in a strict military society believing that she was given the power of the gods to punish evil, with very little of her extensive training devoted to social interaction or manners. [...] The very concept that other people don't need to do as they're told is foreign to her, which is how her Lawfulness most strongly represents itself.
  • Mentioned in The Wotch: Anne, you have permission to strike before the heroic banter next time.
    • And yet again from Goblins, Big Ears the paladin manages to avert this nicely, which is rare for a paladin, as they are usually flanderized into one of these if they don't start out as one. He instead follows instead closely to what a lawful good paladin should be.
  • DM of the Rings lampshades this when the players refuse to act in this manner.
  • Abraham from El Goonish Shive looks to be coming from the Lawful Stupid direction by his own monologue.
[[folder:Western Animation]]
  • Silverbolt in Transformers: Beast Wars is another example of how it's possible to get by with being Lawful Stupid by being stupid lucky (not as an alignment, just "lucky to the point of absurdity"). For instance, he actually helped Blackarachnia open up a tunnel leading to the in-stasis Autobots from the original cartoon.
    • Of course, Blackarachnia descends from the Autobots, so it's not like helping her was dangerous (as she'd eliminate herself if she harmed the in-stasis autobots). Shit hits the fan when Megatron finds the tunnel already dug out for him. Still, Silverbolt is definatly Lawful Stupid.
  • The Gargoyles are usually quite reasonable, but one time, Goliath, faced with a mighty opponent, decided to use the Eye of Odin. The Eye magnified his power to truly awesome levels -- but also magnified his nature, that of a protector and guardian, to the point where he was willing to deceive his charges by pretending there was danger when there wasn't, to ensure they stayed somewhere safe rather than moving on, even if they had nothing that could be called a life.
  • In a different sense, Alien X from Ben 10: Alien Force -- a being capable of warping time and space, but whose thought pattern has been (and in some ways still is) strangled with debate between two diametrically opposed entities to the point at which the being cannot even move until a decision can be reached. Until Ben came along, they had no tiebreaker.
  • Omi from Xiaolin Showdown is Lawful Stupid in regards to promises. At one point, Omi has to team up with one of the Big Bads to stop a race of unstoppable spiders. They do this by combining two Mac Guffins that work together to give infinite knowledge to find a way to stop them. Before doing so, the Big Bad makes him promise to only look for the way to stop them and specifically not to look for "the way to destroy evil forever". In the end, he mentions he "peeked" (apparently it's okay to break a promise but not to gain from breaking it). In later episodes the main group finds themselves in a desperate situation and begin telling him they want him to use the secret. He holds firm that he cannot because it would go against his honor as a monk even when all 3 of them think it would be better to do it anyway but he still refuses (it seems that fellowship and the fate of the world as you know it mean nothing in comparison to a small boy's moral code). The end result is as part of the Big Bad's plan, this divides him from his friends and causes him to go against their safer wishes of not listening to the villain. He ends up temporarily locked in an aggressive mood from this and pledges his allegiance to the villain. Once he returns to normal, he stays with the villain because he made that promise (ignoring his friends' cries of "he wasn't himself"). In the very end they try to make it sound like Omi made the right choice by saying the Big Bad reveals that he knew Omi would peek and swapped what he saw with the secret to destroying good (they completely ignore the fact that without this, he risked everyone's lives and future suffering from evil-doers for his honor and that the world was put into peril a second time because he joined the Big Bad with a reason that equates to a promise made while drunk).
  • Hego from Kim Possible. He hides his identity with glasses and a tie, talks on and on, giving the enemy the chance to attack, and follows the rules of hero/villain interaction to the T, even lecturing the other heroes on the 'proper' way to do things while they were all in danger from the villain. If that isn't Lawful Stupid Good Stupid, this troper doesn't know what is. By about halfway through his introductory episode, the heroes competely understand why his little sister turned evil.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
  • Another real life example: Cato the Younger, a Roman statesman and senator in the first century BC. So committed to the ideals and laws of the Roman Republic that he aided in its demise, by consistently blocking any and all reform, forcing radical action. Many deeds stand out, but one example: after Julius Caesar's victory in the civil war, Cato and Metellus Scipio continued the resistance in North Africa. When Caesar came to hunt them down, it was suggested that Cato, as the oldest and most experienced general there, take command. Cato refused on the grounds that he was only a praetor and wasn't of high enough rank. So the less competent Metellus Scipio took command, and the army was promptly massacred by Caesar.
  • Internet example: Homebrew on the Wii has been quite popular among the hardcore crowd and they complain when Nintendo releases a firmware update that blocks homebrew. The people who are against homebrew will brand the homebrew users as evil pirates that only care about stealing games and hurting Nintendo since they broke the rules, even if the homebrew user never uses homebrew to play games illegally! This in turn causes homebrew users to defend themselves and say that they all don't use homebrew to pirate games and flame the people who are defending Nintendo, which causes the defenders to hit back just as hard since in their eyes, "once a pirate, always a pirate." Hilarity Ensues.
[[/folder]]
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