Wiki Headlines
We've switched servers and will be updating the old code over the next couple months, meaning that several things might break. Please report issues here.
Heroic Heelization Speech
If you can't beat em, agree with them, and join em. Then beat em.
Needs Examples Tropeworthy? Motion To Discard

(permanent link) added: 2012-09-29 06:35:28 sponsor: halfstep edited by: Arivne (last reply: 2013-01-12 18:02:33)

Add Tag:
Often, villains will give the hero the Hannibal Lecture - the whole spiel about how the hero isn't so different from the villain, in truth the hero is what they despise most, that the hero is actually part of the problem and not the solution, etc etc. Basically, any speech to get inside the hero's head and make them question their motivation.

As we all know, there are a number of responses to this, including the Heroic BSOD, and the Shut Up, Hannibal!. However, there is one response to this that has unintended consequences for Hannibal.

The hero could Take a Third Option, and agree with everything Hannibal has just got done saying. They could agree that in fact, they are an egomanical petty vengeful homicidal maniac who is only the hero because by some stroke of fortune, they happen to be wearing a badge, or were named as the chosen one, or some such thing. They may admit that in fact, Hannibal is right, and the only reason that the hero is chasing the villain at all is some fantasy savior complex that they need to have self worth and not cry themselves to sleep at night. They may even admit that the world sucks, that there is no point, and no one is really innocent. In short, they admit that Hannibal was right. Unfortunately for Hannibal, this will most likely be the last thing he is ever right about, as quite often, the hero uses their newfound lucidity to give the villain a taste of their own medicine.

In short, the villainous version of a "World of Cardboard" Speech: said hero, having been deconstructed, admits said deconstruction, before giving the villain a taste of their own medicine. Often given before the straight (as in playing it) hero slides into either Anti-hero or villain territory. Can also be given if the villain, when caught, dares the hero to take them to jail after some action that has completely Crossed The Line, or otherwise insinuates that whatever the hero can do to them is a slap on the wrist compared to the harm they've done.

Whether the hero goes all the way over to the dark side or not depends on whether a) the hero is serious going over to the dark side, or just making a point, and b) whether someone is there to stop them. Sometimes, a hero who making this speech can have good sense slapped into them by a fellow hero, or one of the people they've saved before, reminding them that there is something to be said for the way the hero usually does business. Then too, sometimes, the villain may finish the job for the hero, killing themselves before the hero can make a decision on whether to follow through with their statement.

It should be noted that this isn't necessarily a "World of Cardboard" Speech (although they could possibly overlap): The "World of Cardboard" Speech is about mental limitations, specifically in trying to achieve a goal. Heroic Heelization is all about a morality shift, combined with irony, where the actual intended goal may change. In WOC, the hero discovers that the world isn't as fragile or simple as they thought it was, and that they can go that extra mile to do what needs to be done without doing more harm than good. In this, the hero doesn't really care if the world is cardboard, and may begin openly questioning whether cardboard is worth saving at all.


Examples:

Fan Fic
  • Gadget does this in the fanfic "Gadget in Chains": after being framed for a crime she didn't commit, and thrown in a hellhole of a prison in place of Lawhiney, an escaping Gadget happens upon Lawhiney on the road. When Gadget figures out who it is she is dealing with, and exactly how big the scam is, that, combined with some of the things she had to do to get out of prison, make her give a speech about how easy it is to not give a damn, before beating the tar out of Lawhiney and trying to kill her.

Film
  • In X-Men: First Class, Magneto has one of these when Sebastian Shaw tells him that all of the torture and abuse he put him through in a concentration camp only made him stronger, and that it's mutantkind's destiny to rule over humans.
    "I'd like you to know that I agree with every word you said. [...] Unfortunately, you killed my mother."
  • In Watchmen, Rorschach has one of these when he tracks down a killer who has cut up a little girl, and fed her to dogs, boiling her remains in a pot for supper. Rorschach has a break down after the crook dares Rorschach to take him to jail. Rorschach responds, saying "Men, get arrested...dogs, get put down!!!" before killing him. It should be noted that before this moment, Rorschach was your typical "no killing ever" straight hero.

Live-Action TV
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Our Man Bashir", Dr. Bashir is playing a James Bond-like character in a holodeck program that accidentally assimilated several other crew members. To avoid getting either himself or his friends killed by the malfunctioning program, Bashir has his character do a Face-Heel Turn and join the Big Bad, giving a speech mirroring one Garak gave him about how the reward for being a faithful agent was usually an early death.

Video Games
  • Section 8: Prejudice has a Reveal halfway through that the reason there are no aliens in the setting is because humans killed them all. At the end, the Big Bad tells Captain Corde that "the Empire is built on the graves of millions". Corde more or less agrees, but as the Big Bad couldn't come up with any better solution than killing an entire colony of civilians pretty much at random...

Web Comic
  • In 8-Bit Theater, White Mage has one (with some prodding from Black Mage) after Onrac is destroyed for the second time and she thinks her efforts at that point are futile.
White Mage: The School of White Magic teaches us that there is a natural order to all things. A place and purpose for every person and event.
Black Mage: Go on.
Black Mage: C'mon personal epiphany!
White Mage: It's pretty obvious at this point that I am no great healer. I am not the one that will bring order to a dying and chaotic world.
Black Mage: Almost there...
White Mage: There is no point in denying it any longer. I am White Mage, a destroyer of worlds!
Black Mage: That is so hot. My girlfriend is an armageddon factory!

Western Animation
  • Gargoyles. In the series premiere/movie, Goliath references a statement made to him by Demona earlier in the movie, where she asks him to go to war on humanity. After she is apparently killed by Xanatos, Goliath goes to throw him off his tower, stating (paraphrase) that she suggested that he go to war with the world, and that Xanatos would be a good place to start.
  • In Batman: The Animated Series, in the episode "Joker's Favor", Charlie gives one of these to The Joker of all people, after Joker has terrorized him and his family for years.
Charlie Collins: Hold it!
The Joker
Oh, come on.
Charlie Collins
I said hold it!
[slugs Joker in the face, knocking him to the ground]
The Joker
You miserable little nobody! If I get caught, your wife and son are history!
Charlie Collins
Your not getting caught. Not this time. I found this blown out of the van.
[reveals a Joker bomb]
Charlie Collins
This is how it ends, Joker. No big schemes. No grand fight to the finish with the Dark Knight. Tomorrow all the papers will say is that the great Joker who was found blown to bits in an alley alongside a miserable little nobody?" Kinda funny. Ironic really. See, I can destroy a man's dreams too, and that's really the only dream you've got? Isn't it?
The Joker
Look, Charlie, you've been having a bad day. All this running around, all this excitement with...
[Yells]
The Joker
BATMAN!
The Joker
[to Charlie] Stop! Y-you're crazy!
Charlie Collins
I had a good teacher.
[Chuckles]
  • Superman in both Superman vs. the Elite and the comic book source of said animated story. During their final fight, Superman takes a number of gruesome hits, to lull his opponents into a false sense of security, then uncorks a larger fraction of his full power, using it to present the illusion that he is killing each member of The Elite. When Manchester Black calls him on this, he replies that he finally understands what it is that they've been trying to tell him, and from now on he's going to be fighting crime their way. Unfortunately for them, they're going to be the first people he uses their new philosophy on. Fortunately for them, he was B Sing them to make a point
  • Another one from Superman. In Justice League Unlimited, in the episode "A Better World", in an alternate universe, Superman corners Luthor, now president, in the White House. Luthor is trying to escape after a plot that has apparently gone terribly wrong. Luthor is about to try to attempt to launch some device (possibly nukes), but is told by Superman that he can stop him. Luthor taunts Superman, saying that Superman's ego is the whole reason for this mess, that the worst thing that will happen is he will go to jail, and the whole thing will start all over again. Superman agrees, before frying him with his heat vision.

replies: 16

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy