Created By: FrodoGoofballCoTVAugust 29, 2011 Last Edited By: randomtroper89November 18, 2013
Nuked

Pragmatic Hero

A hero who is willing to use morally ambiguous means to achieve good ends. (Up For Grabs)

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

NOTE: This YKTTW has been discarded for the following reasons:

This Page Action crowner was called in favour of splitting into:
  • A Hero who is The Unfettered. They commit villainous acts to further the cause of good, and generally regard having values as a weakness, but their goals are always on the side of good.
  • A Hero who is pragmatic, but not The Unfettered. They have their own principles, they just reject the normal heroic ethics as practiced by The Cape or a Knight In Shining Armor.


NOTE: Per this conversation, we are splitting the Sliding Scale Of Anti Heroes into its component types and replacing the numeric ratings with non-numeric tropes:


NOTE:
  • The examples from the Type III Anti Hero page are a real mess IMHO, and if there are no objections, they will be moved to the discussion page of the trope, and people can re-enter them on the main page as they see fit
  • Since there are so many examples, please limit examples only to cases where the trope is clearly “played straight”.
  • All examples should have explanations showing how (1) the character is on the heroic side, (2) the character’s actions are morally ambiguous, and (3) they commit these morally questionable acts for unambiguously morally good reasons.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION:

Type III: Dangerous Anti Hero

While some of these share the snarkiness associated with a Type II Anti Hero, they are somewhat darker than the previous version, as their Anti Hero status is associated with their willingness to do good through "not nice" actions. Also, as is demonstrated by Granny Weatherwax of Discworld, this character can very easily be humorless while still being rather Bad Ass. Essentially a meaner version of Type II. Type III antiheroes may get nicer and turn into straight heroes over the course of the story, but they just as likely may not.

There is some division in this slot as to the acceptability of lethal force. Some will side against it, but others deem it a viable solution. In the latter case, it is generally a matter of last resort, but they will do what they have to do.

Good Is Not Nice has more info on this trope.

PROPOSED NEW DESCRIPTION:

A Pragmatic Hero is a hero who stands at the intersection of Anti Hero and The Unfettered. If that's what it takes to save the world, the Pragmatic Hero Would Hurt A Child. But a Pragmatic Hero is still a hero first: if it wouldn't hurt the overall mission to go on a sidequest to rescue a kitten out of a tree, the Pragmatic Hero would do that, too. In short, the typical Pragmatic Hero is a firm believer in utilitarianism, though he or she might not call it that.

Therein lies the difference between this chracter and both lighter and darker heroes. While heroes at all points on the Sliding Scale Of Anti Heroes will have certain lines they won't cross, the Pragmatic Hero marks the point at which those lines begin to go much further into moral ambiguity than a typical Ideal Hero would be willing to consider. Take away a Classical Anti Hero's weaknesses and a Knight In Sour Armor's cynicism, and you still have two characters who won't Shoot The Dog except as a last resort. A Pragmatic Hero will wait until it's clear that pulling that trigger is in fact the right thing to do, and then he'll fire. However, unlike characters still further down the scale, the Pragmatic Hero won't enjoy these forays into moral ambiguity, except perhaps for the satisfaction that when others Refused The Call, the Pragmatic Hero chose to confront evil, seeing their role as a Dirty Business to a heroic end.

These characters often are portrayed as an embodiment of Good Is Not Nice. Like the Knight In Sour Armor, this type of Anti Hero doesn't usually play well with others, but while the Knight In Sour Armor tends to gripe about needing to do heroic deeds, this character is typically much more stoic. This, combined with their tendancy to occasionally be involved in activities you'd normally expect the villain to do, will occasionally result in a What The Hell Hero moment, which may in turn result in those calling this hero on their behavior being given a stern warning to stay out of the Pragmatic Hero's way.

However, this doesn't mean Pragmatic Heroes never suffer from crippling apprehension, indecision, angst, depression and sorrow. It's just that they will do what they can to not allow their emotions to get in the way of what they believe is the right thing to do.

This character will sometimes appear to be a villain to other heroes, but in the eyes of the audience their actions are usually clearly justified by the situation. That doesn't mean we have to like them. A Pragmatic Hero can be a Hero Antagonist we only root for reluctantly because we know the Pragmatic Hero is right and the Villain Protagonist is wrong. Conversely, the Pragmatic Hero might be the most sympathetic character on the show, as they're the one that gets stuck with all the dirty work, and can be counted on to do what has to be done no matter how much they might not want to.

Compare and contrast Well Intentioned Extremist, Pragmatic Villainy.

Examples:

Anime and Manga:
  • In Soul Eater, Mifune is quite clearly defined as a Pragmatic Hero from episode 2 on. He is undeniably strong (one of his souls equals ninety-nine regular human souls), though he will not do harm to anyone, save those that threaten the person he's sworn to protect. His soul is blue, which, in the series, means he's a good guy, and he absolutely refuses to commit any wrong. However, his vow to protect small children lead him to protecting the young witch Angela (who, it turns out, was innocent), and because of his strength, being recruited along with Angela by big bads like Medusa and Arachne.

Fanfiction:
  • In the Harry Potter fanfic Backwards Compatible Harry convinces Fudge that he's been poisoned with a VERY slow-acting poison that only Harry can cure to blackmail him into resigning as Minister of Magic. He also tortures Draco in front of the entire school, breaking all his fingers and dislocating his arms, after Draco helps with a Death Eater scheme that sees Hermione kidnapped by the Death Eaters as that appears to be the only way to find out where Hermione has been taken. Dumbledore is horrified by some of the things Harry does, though his friends are more accepting. Harry isn't happy about it either - in fact he's so disgusted by what he had to do that he throws up in a bin afterwards, and has to be reassured by his friends that it was necessary.

Literature:
  • Discworld's Granny Weatherwax, whose entire career is making difficult decisions so others don't have to, doing the Right Thing regardless of personal consequences, and snapping at people. In Maskerade, Granny is in the position to decide what to do with some injured robbers. While a darker Anti Hero might just leave them to die, a lighter hero would treat them the same as anyone else, Granny has to do the Right Thing, which is stitch up their wounds, but she doesn't feel the need to be gentle about it.

Live Action Television:
  • On the original CSI, Laurence Fishburne plays a investigator named Ray Langston, who is originally portrayed as a hero, but as he persues his nemisis, the serial killer Nate Haskell, He admits that he has a very special gene that usually carries sociopathic, murderous, and immoral attitudes. and he admits that he has to struggle against it to not become He Who Fights Monsters. Asked why he wanted to become a doctor, he answers "If I'm helping People, I'm not hurting them."
  • Kahlan from Legend Of The Seeker. She sacrifices her chances to get her immediate happy ending with the man she loves, her safety and the right to have the normal life she dreams of, since so long ago. However, when she learns that her baby niece is actually a baby nephew, and discovers he'll be a terrible dicator of the Always Chaotic Evil men Inquisitor kind, she initially wants to drown him. She is also ready to kill a dangerous, potentially apocalypse-causing, yet innocent young lady Inquisitor.
  • Merlin and Morgana (pre-The Crystal Cave, post return after being poisonned), from BBC's Merlin could be seen as this. Merlin poisons the innocent Morgana to save the good future he works for, and after her return in Camelot, Morgana does the same, attacking those who after her endanger the future in which magicians would be treated well in Camelot. Mitigated as she alternatively feels pleasure and guilt about what she does, thus making her sometimes unsuited for this qualification, and sometimes perfectly fit for it.
  • The Doctor is this in Doctor Who, at one point sacrificing a city to prevent the world from being ruled by the villains.

Tabletop Games:
  • In Warhammer 40 K, the Imperium at it's most morally pure reaches this level.

Video Games:
  • Mass Effect brings us Renegade!Shepard. Batarian terrorist? Let him blow up the hostages so you can apprehend / kill him to prevent him from killing again. Grandstanding braggart in the way? Light him on fire. Press running a smear job on you? Break the reporter's jaw.
  • Gabriel Angelos in Dawn Of War who commit a slaughter to purge a planet full of his demon to protect other planets from being conquerred by Complete Monster.
Community Feedback Replies: 128
  • September 6, 2011
    Earnest
    Just for alliteration's sake, I'm going to suggest Purely Pragmatic Protagonist.
  • September 7, 2011
    DaibhidC
    • Discworld's Granny Weatherwax, whose entire career is making difficult decisions so others don't have to, doing the Right Thing regardless of personal consequences, and snapping at people. A great example of is her treatment of the robbers in Maskerade: an Unscrupulous Hero would probably just leave them to bleed out; after all, they're the bad guys. A Classic Hero would treat them the same as anyone else with an injury. Granny has to do the Right Thing, which is stitch up their wounds, but she doesn't feel the need to be remotely gentle about it.
  • September 10, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    ^Actually, that might make her a type 4 not a type 3 if she was deliberately not being gentle only because it pleased her to get even that tiny bit of vengeance. On the other hand, if she did it for some other, more purely pragmatic reason, like reminding them that they should be happy just to be allowed to live after what they did - or as a way of forcing herself to do it, it would make her a type 3.
  • September 18, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Bump. So what do you all think of this one? Good description? Needs A Better Name? Ready to launch?
  • September 18, 2011
    troacctid
    The X Just X examples need to be deleted if they can't be cleaned up. The Example Indentation is completely wrong and has to be fixed. It also needs folderizing.

    The alliteration is not an improvement. "Purely" adds nothing. Just Pragmatic Protagonist or Pragmatic Hero is fine.

    The Laconic doesn't indicate "Pragmatic". Pragmatic is doing what works. Where does a "dark side" come in?
  • September 18, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    ^Examples were pulled from Sliding Scale Of Anti Heroes and will be cleaned up.

    Looks like we need to get conensus on the name.

    The "dark side" comes from the fact this is a hero who has little qualms, for example, killing an Anti Villain in cold blood if that's the best way to save a city.

  • September 19, 2011
    tropetown
    Pragmatic Protagonist sounds much better.
  • September 19, 2011
    aschwartz07901
    I'm not sure where he would fit into this but On the original CSI, Laurence Fishburne plays a investigator named Ray Langston, who is originally portrayed as a hero, but as he persues his nemisis, the serial killer Nate Haskell, He admits that he has a very special gene that usually carries sociopathic, murderous, and immoral attitudes. and he admits that he has to struggle against it to not become He Who Fights Monsters

    he admits that when asked at the beggining of his medical school education, he is asked, Why does he want to be a doctor. His answer,

    "If I'm helping People, I'm not hurting them."
  • September 19, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    ^That is hard to call. Normally, a Heroic Sociopath is type 5, but he has noble reasons for being good, even though they're different from most people. If he enjoys hurting villains, he might be a type 4, but it sounds like his primary reason for being a hero is that, from his point of view, his only other choice is to be a villain.

    It still comes back to, if he's the type that doesn't hate to Shoot The Dog but doesn't enjoy it either, he's this. If he likes being picked to Shoot The Dog, but is still helping the heroes for morally positive reasons, he's type 4. If he just likes to Shoot The Dog and doesn't have particularly noble goals otherwise, he's type 5.
  • September 29, 2011
    fishsicles
    I think Pragmatic Protagonist is easier; Purely Pragmatic Protagonist is a bit of a mouthful.
  • October 2, 2011
    ading
    Purely Pragmatic Hero works better than Purely Pragmatic Protagonist IMO because it also includes Hero Antagonists.
  • October 2, 2011
    troacctid
    ^ Villain Protagonists too. Good call. I vote for Pragmatic Hero.
  • October 2, 2011
    jprice67
    Captain Price of MW could also count as a pragmatic hero, and I vote for Purely Pragmatic Hero. One question: Is this just another name for a Type III anti-hero, or does it just heavily overlap?
  • October 2, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    ^My intention was that it will replace Type III anti - hero to clean up the Sliding Scale Of Antiheroes page.
  • October 3, 2011
    azul120
    Semi-OT, but Knight In Sour Armor still carries its existing meaning and examples.
  • October 3, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    ^That's my understanding. Knight In Sour Armor is type II, this is type III. I'm not planning on attempting to "fix" Knight In Shining Armor at this time.
  • October 9, 2011
    fishsicles
    Yeah, "hero" is better than "protagonist" given ading and troacctid's arguments. Changing my vote to Pragmatic Hero.
  • October 9, 2011
    troacctid
    I think for the Laconic, "is willing to use morally ambiguous means" is better than "uses morally ambiguous means"; after all, the hero is a good guy, and he'll probably prefer the "white" solution to the "gray" one if he's given the choice.
  • October 9, 2011
    Riddle78
    Mass Effect brings us Renegade!Shepard. Batarian terrorist? Let him blow up the hostages so you can apprehend/kill him to prevent him from killing again. Grandstanding braggart in the way? Light him on fire. Press running a smear job on you? Break the reporter's jaw.
  • October 10, 2011
    ArtFever
    I vote for Pragmatic Protagonist. Adding "Purely" would narrow down the trope definition, no?
  • October 18, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    So we've got five hats. I'll call for some more votes on the name before starting the launch clock.
  • October 18, 2011
    Serocco
    Pragmatic Protagonist for me.
  • October 21, 2011
    ading
    Unscrupulous heroes and heroes in name only are also pragmatic. However, for a character to fit into this trope their morally ambiguous actions must be driven purely by pragmatism, while the other types generally have some additional motive for their actions, or they just enjoy it. Hence, I still vote Purely Pragmatic Hero as the best idea for the trope name.
  • October 21, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    Compare The Fettered IMO. Maybe.
  • October 23, 2011
    isk2837
    If fanfics count, then Harry in the HarryPotter fanfic Backwards Compatible definitely counts. Among other things, the Harry in that fic convinces Fudge that he's been poisoned with a VERY slow-acting poison that only Harry can cure to blackmail him into resigning as Minister of Magic. Also tortures Draco in front of the entire school, breaking all his fingers and dislocating his arms, after Draco helps with a Death Eater scheme that sees Hermione kidnapped by the Death Eaters - only Draco knows where Hermione has been taken so Harry tortures the info out of him. Dumbledore (among others) is horrified by some of the things Harry does, though his friends are more accepting.
  • October 23, 2011
    ading
    ^ Does he enjoy these things? If so, he's an Unscrupulous Hero. If not, he's this trope.
  • October 23, 2011
    isk2837
    ^Well, I don't know about the Fudge thing - considering what an idiot Fudge is I'd be very surprised if he didn't get some enjoyment from it. But he definitely doesn't enjoy torturing Draco - in fact he's so disgusted by what he had to do that he throws up in a bin afterwards, and has to be reassured by his friends that it was necessary.
  • October 23, 2011
    Gatchaman432
    • Mifune is quite clearly defined as a Pragmatic Hero from episode 2. He is undeniably strong (one of his souls equals ninety-nine regular human souls), though he will not do harm to anyone (save those that threaten the person he's sworn to protect). His soul is blue, which, in the series, means he's a good guy, but because he has a personal vow of protecting small children, it lead him to protecting the young witch Angela (who, in turn, was innocent), and because of his strength, being recruited along with Angela by big bads like Medusa and Arachne. He absolutely refuses to commit any wrong.
      • (Also, you misspelled "ambiguous" in Type 4)
  • October 25, 2011
    tropetown
    On second thought, Pragmatic Hero is better than Pragmatic Protagonist, since these characters aren't always going to be the main protagonist of the story.
  • November 4, 2011
    KSonik
    You should remove the Kickthe Dog line as that trope is about pointless evil.

  • November 5, 2011
    Exxolon
    Such a hero would also likely fall under Good Is Not Dumb and possibly also Genre Savvy.
  • November 5, 2011
    VioletOrange
    • Gabriel Angelos in Dawn Of War who commit a slaughter to purge a planet full of his demon to protect other planets from being conquerred by Complete Monster
    • The more positive of The Imperium in Warhammer 40 K.

  • November 6, 2011
    DAN004
    The Unfettered?

    At least, you should make a distinction between that trope and this one.
  • November 6, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
  • November 7, 2011
    nitrokitty
    • Harry Dresden starts out as a Knight In Sour Armor, but progresses to this as he gets steadily more harsh in his methods. Probably the clearest moment is when he brutally beats Cassius with a baseball bat, who is granted an unrepentant Complete Monster.
  • November 8, 2011
    ading
    Several problems here. Knight In Sour Armor overlaps heavily, and the difference is ill-defined. The two differences cited are being more likely to whine, which I can't find as a requirement of Knight In Sour Armor anywhere in the description, and a Pragmatic Hero is more likely to commit villainous acts. Knight In Sour Armor specifically says that they have few rules and break them only when absolutely neccessary, so is a "Pragmatic" Hero willing to break moral rules when its not necessary? This could work as an overtrope or we could broaden Knight In Sour Armor to include multiple alignments, instead of just lawful good, but as it stands the two are very similar, one defining what the person will do, the other they're state of mind/morals.

    Secondly, same problem with The Fettered. The difference cited, that the Pragmatic Hero would feel something while the Unfettered would feel nothing in a shoot the dog situation is explicitly noted as part of The Unfettered in the trope discussion. If I'm reading the trope correctly, the basic idea is along the lines of either the Fettered with only a single fetter, doing the right thing, or an Unfettered with a broader goal than is usually undertaken, so we should mention these.

    Thirdly, pragmatic. The trope describes someone who is "willing to use morally ambiguous means to achieve good ends". Nothing in there says pragmatic. Pragmatic means picking the best option available (see Pragmatic Adaptation). Is punching a reporter's jaw because they're trying to smear you really the best option? That is a morally ambiguous means to achieve an arguably good end, but it's hardly pragmatic.

    Finally, this trope practically screams YMMV. It relies on inner motivation rather than actions to define it, and literally references the audience in the sixth paragraph. As it stands, we'll get any character who's ever shot a dog in it. And what exactly do we mean when we say an unambiguously good goal?

    I do have an example however.

    • Alternate Universe Candace from Phineas And Ferb is unrelenting in protecting her brothers and working as the leader of The Resitance, unable to understand original Candace's more childish questions and willingly sacrificing the people from the original universe to save herself and her team, with no remorse over it.
  • November 9, 2011
    crazysamaritan
    Based on the sliding scale of antiheroes, you've got the wrong impression of knight in sour armour. If the knight gives up his idealism (commits an immoral act), he is a different trope.
  • November 9, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    If Knight In Sour Armor, The Unfettered, and Well Intentioned Extremist all overlap, maybe this should be a valid subtrope of The Unfettered (as well as a subtrope of Anti Hero) where the character is still unambiguously a hero in spite of their morally questionable actions? If the majority of the Type III examples under the Sliding Scale Of Anti Heroes still fit, it seems there would certainly be enough examples to justify a separate page.
  • November 13, 2011
    VioletOrange
    Its not Knight In Sour Armor because this one haves principles. A pragmatic hero will do good without them. He is an utilitarian, whereas Knight In Sour Armor follow Kant's moral. He can be considered a subtrope of The Unfettered (where his goal would be the greater good), and he can be a Well Intentioned Extremist.

    • From 3*3 Eyes, we have Amara. While most of the hero of the story are idealistic to the point of making insanely dangerous gambits, Amara is more likely to try to solve the situation in a more ruthless way (such as killing an innocent who is critical to the Big Bag's plan to destroy the world).
  • November 27, 2011
    VioletOrange
    Looks good to me

    Contrast Totalitarian Utilitarian, who is the villain equivalent of a Pragmatic Hero.
  • November 27, 2011
    Morpheus6393
    An example: in The Booth At The End, Willem takes some...interesting measures to protect his assigned child.
  • November 27, 2011
    moocow1452
    Make a note to Guile Hero?
  • November 28, 2011
    VioletOrange
    Not really, a Guile Hero is about the nature of the means employed (the Guile Hero use politic and other human, the Science Hero use Science! and the Action Hero use punch evil in the face) whereas this is about the moral of the means used and their consequence (you can be a Pragmatic Hero and any of those archetypes).

    edit : new example
    • Mass Effect 2 give us Mordin Solus. He is a badass doctor, who performed inexcusable and yet necessary actions. One of his motto is : "Lots of ways to help people. Sometimes heal patients. Sometimes execute dangerous people. Either way helps."
  • December 11, 2011
    OnagaIsComingToTown
    I'd say add a note in there about torturing bad guys to punish them for their misdeeds. A pragmatic hero can easily see this as a necessary evil in order to punish mass murderers who just can't receive the 1000's of death sentences they deserve, being that they can only be killed once.

    Also, this can be type IV as well.
  • December 12, 2011
    VioletOrange
    I don't think so. A Pragmatic Hero is pragmatic, he doesn't think in term of punishment but efficiency. A Karma Houdini doesn't bother him if they are sure the villain isn't going to commit more evil. They can torture people if they think it will save life, but they won't if there is another way because torturing people cause harm.

  • December 28, 2011
    VioletOrange
    Bump: This YKTTW is dying, I suggest this for a quote, and to launch it in one week

    - "Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right."
    --Salvor Hardin summing up the philosophy of the Pragmatic Hero, Foundation

  • December 28, 2011
    Xandriel
    Compare The Spock?
  • December 28, 2011
    crazysamaritan
    ^ No, I don't think so.... The trio is getting misused by people pegging pretty much any three characters together. The Spock is supposed to be distant, and Pragmatic Hero can be plenty emotional.
  • December 29, 2011
    VioletOrange
    Compare The Spock, who is a very specific type of Pragmatic Hero.

  • January 5, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    Harry Potter himself qualifies as this canonically; he frequently lies and eavesdrops if he thinks it will help him achieve his goals.

    Batman, as well, in The Dark Knight, tortures and eavesdrops for the sake of fighting terrorism, in what has been perceived as a metaphor for the Bush administration.

    Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if this was a significant percentage, if not the majority, of heroic characters, especially in modern works, given how often they deal with Moral Dilemmas.
  • January 5, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    It's specifically mentioned, In Universe, that Harry doesn't have a problem with lying or breaking the rules. The definition says that this trope does. He will do it anyway, but he doesn't like it.
  • January 5, 2012
    scatterclubs
    HRG from Heroes. He does some pretty messed up stuff in the name of his family.
  • January 6, 2012
    chicagomel
    Question: How the f is this not Anti-Hero in every single way? No Launching Please
  • January 6, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    ^ read the link.
  • January 6, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    I think this would be better worded as Sliding Scale Of Utilitarianism Versus Principle, because, again, many (if not most) good guys, especially in modern fiction, have to deal with situations where which is the more moral course of action is uncertain.
  • January 11, 2012
    ScanVisor
    So why hasn't this been launched yet?
  • January 11, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    I have quite a few YKTTW on my plate right now. I'll finish off the Career Killers fix today (Hopefully!), then I'll turn my attention to my Anti Hero YKTTW's.
  • January 22, 2012
    OnagaIsComingToTown
    Umm, violet, I have to say that you do not truly understand pragmatism if you think that it can not be applied to punishing bad guys. I'm hard pressed to believe a truly Pragmatic Hero would limit his pragmatism to just stopping the bad guys. Perhaps some would, but all of them? I seriously doubt it.
  • January 23, 2012
    VioletOrange
    Torturing people because they deserve it is Pay Evil Unto Evil, which isn't neither heroic nor pragmatic.

    Torturing people because in the fiction this is a reliable way of extracting information count as Shoot The Dog if they are no other way to do that and thus can be performed by a Pragmatic Hero.
  • January 26, 2012
    elwoz
    "Take away a Classical Anti Hero's weaknesses and a Knight In Shining Armor's cynicism, and you still have two characters who won't Shoot The Dog except as a last resort." <-- I think you mean Knight In Sour Armor there.

    Pragmatic Villainy should also be on the compare-and-contrast list.
  • January 26, 2012
    Xandriel
    Yeah, I agree with Matt that this would probably work better as a sliding scale. Many heroes resort to practical tactics now and again, they just draw the line at different points. An anti-hero who would lie, cheat and steal for the greater good may well be horrified at an anti-hero who would blow up a building to achieve their goals.
  • January 26, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    ^^Oops, good catch, thanks. Fixed.

    ^Makes sense. My concern is that making this a sliding scale is so not where we were going in the forum discussion. Also there are at least a few tropers who've told me they'd like to see all sliding scales cut.

    Also, we'd need to answer several questions:

    Would it make sense to do this as two pages, one the basic trope, and one the sliding scale? Also should we change the title if we make a sliding scale?

    Any thoughts on how to scale it?

    One thought was maybe make the Batman / Dirty Harry style hero (will lightly torture but never kill a prisoner, will kill the Big Bad but only as a last resort), which was where I was origionally going with this, a 5 out of 10, then a Knight In Shning Armor would score in the 0 - 2 range, and someone like Lelouch (would callously order the death of thousands if that's what it took to free millions) would be maybe an 8.
  • January 26, 2012
    VioletOrange
    I vote for first launching this trope, then (and it's not necessary) make a new index which explain the difference between anti hero.
  • January 26, 2012
    Xandriel
    Maybe you could add a note to the description saying that this archetype's level of pragmatism can vary, and they can be anything from dirty white to charcoal grey depending on exactly how ruthless they are and how willing or unwilling they are to consider alternate solutions.

    Then you could make another trope that elaborates on this. If you don't want to do a sliding scale, it could be something like Even Pragmatists Have Standards, explaining how pragmatic heroes often have lines they won't cross, but those lines vary from character to character. For example, Harry Potter is willing to lie and break rules, but refuses to kill and has plenty of Honour Before Reason moments.
  • January 26, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    ^That sounds like a good idea.
  • January 27, 2012
    VioletOrange
    Just to be sure, but the fact that Harry Potter and Batman have rules that they refuse to break makes them not an example of this trope.
  • January 28, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    ^ I agree. They are not completely Pragmatic.
  • January 30, 2012
    OnagaIsComingToTown
    Making this a sliding scale of its own is okay if it can be made to work. The big mistake I see here is we are too busy shoehorning it onto the anti-hero scale, and that's not going to work. Pragmatism is pragmatism, it fits more with Blue And Orange Morality than it does as a portrayal of how good/evil one is. Not that it's enough for that trope by itself......

    Oh and Violet, I fail to see how a pragmatic hero can't also be pragmatic with regards to Pay Evil Unto Evil. I'm not saying they have to be, but the idea they can not seems ridiculous to me.
  • January 30, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    I'm pretty sure that wasn't true argument. I think the argument was that Pay Evil Unto Evil doesn't make them Pragmatic. Venn Diagram, you know? The two overlap, but one does not cause the other.
  • January 30, 2012
    OnagaIsComingToTown
    There I do agree, but my point is that pragmatic heros can take a Pay Evil Unto Evil approach, or even Disproportionate Retribution (especilly when punishing mass murderers), not that they necessary do.
  • January 31, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    And I would say Violet agrees based on this post: " Torturing people because they deserve it is Pay Evil Unto Evil,which isn't neither heroic nor pragmatic.

    Torturing people because in the fiction this is a reliable way of extracting information count as Shoot The Dog if they are no other way to do that and thus can be performed by a Pragmatic Hero."

    However, "disproportionate" is something I disagree with. It means going beyond what is necessary to get the job done.
  • February 1, 2012
    OnagaIsComingToTown
    Small problem, you are limiting pragmatism to certain trains of thought, and shutting out countless others. Almost to the point that you think all heros, even pragmatic ones, should have some level of Stupid Good in them.

    Example, if Disproportionate Retribution is shown In Universe to be an effective method of intimidating others into not repeating the crimes of villains, then a truly pragmatic hero would see the benefits and use it, no?

    It doesn't have to be seen from the perspective of how it benefits society either. It can be seen from the perspective of pragmatic justice (please no semantics as to the definitions of justice and revenge, I've gotten tired of that stupid debate). Surely murdering an innocent Nice Guy deserves a far worse punishment than killing a Complete Monster, no? You would not argue that a person who takes this approach can't still be heroic if they do so only to make the evil suffer what would be arguably justifiable? Granted, from their perspective it wouldn't be so much disproportionate, but that isn't the point.

    It's also not like a pragmatic hero can't have a darker side to them, either, which is yet another reason not to shoehorn such a concept into type 3 anti-hero.
  • February 1, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    I think we're going to have to completely redo this once again. I'm wondering if there is a volunteer who is willing to take this from me. To be honest, my heart just isn't in it for this YKTTW anymore.
  • February 1, 2012
    OnagaIsComingToTown
    I'll gladly take this one on, wouldn't be the first trope I ever wrote. (I wrote Fake Skill back before I bothered to make a permanent account)
  • February 2, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Sounds good to me. Fake Skill appears to be a well - written trope. Thanks, I kinda need to get this off my hands right now.
  • February 2, 2012
    VioletOrange
    I don't see the need to redo the trope. He has a clear description, enough example and a good name. I don't think the definition can be meaningfully expanded

    @ Onaga Is Coming To Town,

    Pragmatic justice doesn't mean anything. Pragmatism is a philosophy where action or policy are dictated by consideration of the practical consequences rather than by principle, while justice is all about principle.

    In other word, if someone says that all Complete Monster need to die because they are Complete Monster, they are not pragmatic. If someone kill and torture a criminal and his innocent family because in the setting, that will magically prevent other criminals to do crime (and will save more live than the hero has sacrificed and there is no other way that would provide the same result with fewer harm), then he is a pragmatic hero (and the because here is absolutely necessary). In fact, someone can do anything (genocide, torture...) and still be a pragmatic hero if at the end, the way he choose provide the best benefice/cost ratio.

    And the example you provide are not pragmatic, because we don't see the consequence of their action. You are reasoning in term of good/bad (bad guy should die), instead of cost/benefice.
  • February 2, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    ^x5 If the punishment has been shown to be the most effective way to prevent others from doing the crime, then it isn't Disproportionate Retribution. Most of your post is about Pay Evil Unto Evil.

    ^ I agree; I think he's taking "pragmatic" to mean "willing to do evil", which is only half of the trope. As you said, there has to be a positive benefit to doing it. (I won't even argue it has to be a net positive benefit, just that these characters are willing to do anything to get the job done, even if it isn't the most efficient method).
  • February 2, 2012
    VioletOrange
    I suggested in the middle of this discussion this for a quote

    - "Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right." --Salvor Hardin summing up the philosophy of the Pragmatic Hero, Foundation

    Any thought on it ?
  • February 2, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    I like it.
  • February 2, 2012
    OnagaIsComingToTown
    I think we are mostly agreed at this point. I do agree that the hero portion means that they must, at some level, have good intentions. The main problems I am having are:

    • The narrow definition of pragmatism, but I think at this point we are past that.
    • The idea that they can't have a darker edge to them in addition to being pragmatic.
    • Shoehorning into Type III anti-hero, it works much better as its own trope.

    It's the latter two that I think we need to resolve. The middle one can be resolved with a couple side notes being added in, whereas the latter, it'll just need to be rewritten according to what we've been discussing.

    Once that's done though, I say we're good.

    Edit - Part of my point was that they can be pragmatic in more ways than just what saves the day. Pragmatism with regards to punishing bad guys does little to save the day, yet if they are pragmatic with regards to their heroism, who's to say they're pragmatism doesn't carry over into other aspects of their character?

    Oh an it can be more than just cost/benefit pragmatism, it can also be Pay Evil Unto Evil because it logically is deserved.
  • February 2, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    At anti-hero 3, we've passed "good or evil". This character type is the first one to ignore whether a given action is moral or immoral. Thus could be from Blue And Orange Morality, amorality, or because of an all-consuming drive. They are not restrained by your views of right or wrong. Even if they have the same ethics that you have, the Pragmatic Hero will do exactly what's required in order to accomplish their mission.

    What you seem to be shoehorning into Antihero 3 is the idea of a character who chooses to Pay Evil Unto Evil. That is not the goal of a pragmatic character.
  • February 2, 2012
    OnagaIsComingToTown
    Uhm, I'm not shoehorning anything, I'm pretty sure that you seriously misread my replies if that is what you are getting. I have made no attempts to rigidly define pragmatic hero, in fact, my problem is that it is being defined far too rigidly to in order to make it fit into type III anti-hero.

  • February 3, 2012
    VioletOrange
    What is your definition of pragmatism then ? Because I don't know a pragmatism which isn't about cost/benefit (for me a rough definition of pragmatism is "estimate every action you can take, and then do the one that has the best cost/benefit ratio).

    And, honestly, I think that this definition already include dark anti hero (in my book, a hero who kill innocent without remorse because it's the right thing is at least kinda grey, and he would be a perfect example for that trope). We also have unscrupulous hero on this page, for hero with questionable morale but good intention on the whole.
  • February 3, 2012
    Xandriel
    Just how pragmatic would they have to be to fit this trope? Would anyone who's ever shot a dog fit, or would they have to be as extreme as the aforementioned Lelouch? Because I'm worried this is going to get flanderised into "anyone who isn't a Principles Zealot".

    Some heroes are willing to dip into the milder levels of moral greyness, but draw the line somewhere. I can think of several characters who choose the practical option sometimes, but are shocked at people who take their pragmatism further. Besides, you can't really say that anyone who's ever told a white lie or had a pet euthanised is thoroughly unfettered.

    There really should be a sliding scale of pragmatism or some similar trope comparing how far some characters would go. As the Sliding Scaleof Anti Heroes is right now, there doesn't seem to be much middle ground between "pure shining white" and "mid-grey". There should be some light grey somewhere.
  • February 3, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Maybe part of the issue is, we might not have gotten the scale correct the first go - around. Maybe we need to split out the lighter grey (possible example, Harry Potter) and darker grey (possible example, Lelouch) Type III's.
  • February 3, 2012
    OnagaIsComingToTown
    Let's not kid ourselves here, making a trope to satify a trope repair shop debate is pretty much a Foregone Conclusion of failure to begin with. Further splitting said trope to do so is even worse. Hence my emphasis that this stands best on its own.

    Pragmatism or practicality only means that you approach things logically, it doesn't mean you do it specifically for beneficial reasons (although that is probably the most common angle on it). Surely a hero who is cold and calculating (a form of being pragmatic) is more likely to Kick The Son Of A Bitch than the Stupid Good character who follows If You Kill Him You Will Be Just Like Him, no?
  • February 4, 2012
    Xandriel
    Well this trope seems to be about the kind of person who only applies their pragmatism to heroic goals. When you think about it, a purely pragmatic character might not even Pet The Dog (for the same reason a pragmatic villain wouldn't Kick The Dog - it doesn't further their goals) or "waste time" looking for alternate solutions.

    If you're going to launch this, you should also make Even Pragmatists Have Standards or a sliding scale. I'll provide plenty of examples.
  • February 4, 2012
    OnagaIsComingToTown
    Exactly and that's my problem, why should his pragmatism be so limited? The main reason seems to be the shoehorning into type III anti-hero. I'm not saying such a character can't be pragmatic as such, the problem is that the trope is acting is if they necessarily have to be, and I so no reason why that should be.

  • February 4, 2012
    VioletOrange
    @ Xandriel,

    I think that if they have a line to draw, they are at most a subversion and very probably not even that (they are just a regular anti hero who Shoot The Dog occasionally). The few rule that a pragmatic hero have are justified by practical consequence (for instance, "I don't experiment on living sentient being because I can obtain the same result without harming sentient being work" is a rule that can be followed by a Pragmatic Hero, whereas "I don't want to kill a sentient being because I will become like him" isn't one)

    @ Onaga Is Coming To Town,

    Well now I understand. While being pragmatic implies a logical mind, being logical doesn't mean you are pragmatic: for instance, believers are very logical and are the opposite of pragmatic. Furthermore, making a Logical Hero trope will take almost every hero ever created, because most hero follow a logic, even if that logic is twisted. And Stupid Good and Kick The Son Of A Bitch are not pragmatic, the first because it is being unreasonably good to the point of causing harm to other or yourself, the second because it is a gratuitous evil act, thus neither heroic nor pragmatic.

  • February 4, 2012
    Xandriel
    The thing is, for the completely ruthless and practical characters, we already have The Spock and The Unfettered. So is the main difference between those tropes and this one the fact that the character isn't completely heartless, and will suffer a lot of angst for their actions? Sort of like a heroic version of Necessarily Evil?

    The fact that they will look for alternate solutions seems to mean that they do have some sort of sense of morality (even though they tend to push their conscience aside a lot), hence why they are considered heroic. But could somebody who will go out of their way to look for other solutions really be described as entirely pragmatic? Especially if it means their goal is less likely to succeed?

    Consider these two scenarios. 1) Alice and Bob are survivors in a Zombie Apocalypse. Alice gets infected, so Bob regretfully shoots her, then has a Heroic BSOD. 2) Carl and Danielle are survivors in a Zombie Apocalypse. Carl gets infected, so Danielle restrains him and tries to find a cure, even though she knows there's a chance he'll escape. Sure enough, he breaks free and goes on a rampage. Danielle goes after him and, knowing she has no other choice, shoots him, then breaks down. In those two situations, Bob and Danielle are both pragmatic to an extent, but Bob seems like he'd fit this trope better. Danielle at least has something of an idealistic side.

    The main thing I'm concerned about is the flanderisation potential. I can think of a few idealistic heroes who have the occasional Shoot The Dog moment, but don't make a habit of it. So Shoot The Dog alone does not automatically equal this trope. Maybe you should save this for the really ruthless yet angsty characters?
  • February 5, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    Now I get it, you guys are reading "hero" as "protagonist". That's not what it means. Cold and calculating, with a moral code that they are willing to break.

    There's your difference between "amoral bastard on the protagonist's side", and "character willing to betray his morals". The "lighter version" are the characters who very rarely Shoot The Dog. Darker versions would be sometimes mistaken for Unscrupulous Hero, because they seem to lack morals. That's the trope for Disproportionate Retribution.

    It is the "hero" aspect of the trope that means the character is more than just logical. Otherwise this trope would be redundant to The Unfettered.

    Again, I don't think harry fits, because we never see him betray his morals. Even before she goes to hogwarts, we see him lying and sneaking around. Harry is very good at heart, but instead of going against his own moral code, he goes against societal norms. I don't think "doesn't follow cultural norms" fits the idea of Shoot The Dog.

    However, the example currently under the proposed new description works very well.
  • February 5, 2012
    VioletOrange
    Not necessary cold. A good part of the Wheel Of Time is to see some characters trying to become Pragmatic Hero and remove their "weakness" (Would Not Hit A Girl, refuse to sacrifice good people to have an advantage in a war against the local satan...), and most of them are plenty emotional and don't like shooting dog. They still do it when they must, and thus are pragmatic hero. In fact, the one who try to be cold nearly break and become a Knight Templar.
  • February 5, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    I was adding onto their example of "cold and calculating" to show that its still missing the key part of the trope.

    The way I see these breaking down:
    1. too weak to have a moral code
    2. has a moral code, and hates having to live up to it
    3. has a moral code, but is willing to go against it for justice
    4. doesn't have a moral code, but fights on the side of good
    5. has an evil code, but fights on the side of good anyway
  • February 5, 2012
    Xandriel
    I'm still confused about the exact definition. It says in the description "Take away a Classical Anti Hero's weaknesses and a Knight In Sour Armor's cynicism, and you still have two characters who won't Shoot The Dog except as a last resort." So does this character just do it because it's the most convenient thing to do at the time, then, even though they don't like it? Do they have to be known for frequently using Shoot The Dog as a solution to problems, rather than only doing it in absolutely desperate situations?

    It's just that there are a few characters who Shoot The Dog yet are not considered anti-heroes. For example, in To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus Finch puts down a rabid dog, but is a pacifist for the most part. In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Madoka has a Shoot The Dog moment in episode 10, even though she's the most idealistic character in the series.

    Few heroes are Principles Zealots. Sure, a lot have some sort of code of honour, but many say Screw The Rules Im Doing Whats Right. Many are willing to break some aspects of their moral code, but not others. Many face dilemmas where the right choice is unclear and they have to go with what their conscience tells them is the best decision. Yet not all of those characters can be described as anti-heroes.
  • February 6, 2012
    VioletOrange
    So does this character just do it because it's the most convenient thing to do at the time, then, even though they don't like it?

    They do it because they think it's the best outcome, not the most convenient. The trope Always Save The Girl isn't for them.

    Do they have to be known for frequently using Shoot The Dog as a solution to problems, rather than only doing it in absolutely desperate situations ?

    No, they have to be known for shooting any dog if necessary, and sparing and helping him if there is a third option. That doesn't mean we must see them murdering and betraying allies, but we have to know that they don't have any principles in the pursuit of the greater good. A hero who have a moral code they partially break doesn't count if the rest of the code is still respected.
  • February 6, 2012
    Xandriel
    Then what about the "a Classical Antihero and Knight In Sour Armor will Shoot The Dog as a last resort" thing in the description? And what about the idealistic heroes I mentioned? You'd have to really stretch the definition of Anti Hero to describe them as that.
  • February 6, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    Killing a rabid animal is NOT an immoral act. That's taking too literal a meaning from Shoot The Dog.
  • February 7, 2012
    magnum12
    Major intersect with Type IV anti villains, being the difference of perspective.

    • This is the common depiction of Bat Man.
    • Zero is unambiguiously good, but isn't especially friendly. Also has no compunctions against killing either. In fact he does decide to kill Weil at the end of the series.
      • Also where Harpuia would be if not for the game's perspective, which makes him an Anti Villain. Has obviously noble goals but fights the resistance as Mavericks (wrongly, but due to how even a civilian model reploid is very dangerous to a human if it goes Maverick, he's justified in is misguided actions).
  • February 9, 2012
    OnagaIsComingToTown
    Yeah I guess I can get how logical is not necessarily pragmatic, though the definition of pragmatic seems ambiguous enough to leave open the possibility.

    I still say there's overlap with Unscrupulous Hero and The Unfettered (especially if it is a type 5 pragmatic hero)

    Also, The Unfettered is not necessarily pragmatic, it can easily be Stupid Evil or Chaotic Stupid if the goal is twisted enough.
  • February 12, 2012
    sliz225
    BUMP!
  • February 12, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    What's a "type 5" pragmatic hero?
  • February 12, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    ^, ^x3: do you mean a Nominal Hero who is The Unfettered?
  • February 14, 2012
    VioletOrange
    I suggest replacing this paragraph

    Take away a Classical Anti Hero's weaknesses and a Knight In Sour Armor's cynicism, and you still have two characters who won't Shoot The Dog except as a last resort. A Pragmatic Hero will wait until it's clear that pulling that trigger is in fact the right thing to do, and then he'll fire. However, unlike characters still further down the scale, the Pragmatic Hero won't enjoy these forays into moral ambiguity, except perhaps for the satisfaction that when others Refused The Call, the Pragmatic Hero chose to confront evil, seeing their role as a Dirty Business to a heroic end

    by this one :

    While the Knight In Sour Armor is defined by his idealism in a definitely non idealistic world, the Pragmatic Hero is defined by his lack of restraint while trying to obtain the better end. A Pragmatic Hero will always Shoot The Dog, no matter how horrible the act seems to be. However, unlike characters still further down the scale, the Pragmatic Hero won't enjoy these forays into moral ambiguity, except perhaps for the satisfaction that when others Refused The Call, the Pragmatic Hero chose to confront evil, seeing their role as a Dirty Business to a heroic end.

    Two reason for that

    Considering we regularly see Batman, I suggest adding these bullet point at the end of the description to avoid confusion and bad examples.

    • the character is a hero, which means that the planned result of his actions have a positive cost/benefit ratio.
    • the character believe that the end justify the means, and act accordingly. In particular, any refusal to Shoot The Dog is an automatic disqualification for this trope. That also means that the character doesn't rigidly adhere to a moral code (for instance, he will kill if necessary) which isn't concretely justified.
    • the character only use questionable means when they are In Universe no other way to solve this problem.
  • February 15, 2012
    OnagaIsComingToTown
    An excellent start, but I think it needs a little broadening. Some can be pragmatic, but not like it, others can no doubt revel in it and pride themselves on it, being ultimately heroic, but more about pragmatism in the grand scheme of things.
  • February 15, 2012
    countmall
    Rorschach from Watchmen. All the nasty things he does are in the name of his definition of good. He would not, however, harm a child.
  • February 16, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    Based on the rorschach example above, I can't agree that any refusal to shoot the dog disqualifies them from this trope. The exception has to be when a refusal to shoot the dog doubles as a pet the dog moment.
  • February 16, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^ One can still be significantly more willing to Shoot The Dog than most without "always" being willing to. I don't think Pet The Dog moments should be the only exception either.
  • February 16, 2012
    Tambov333
    Nominal Hero has been launched.
  • February 17, 2012
    VioletOrange
    Rorschach is a Principles Zealot (would do anything to follow a moral code), which is one of the opposite of that trope. From that page, "[Rorschach] would rather let the world perish than neglect one of his moral principles just once." And if we delete the criteria "In particular, any refusal to Shoot The Dog is an automatic disqualification for this trope", we will have every hero who has shot the dog.
  • February 17, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    Okay. Never mind, then. Are we putting principles zealot on the antihero index?
  • February 17, 2012
    Tambov333
    I'd say that this trope can be Kantian or Utilitarian - What matters is that they want to do good, commit acts of questionable morality in the process and view it as I Did What I Had To Do - so Rohrschach probably qualifies.
  • February 17, 2012
    ScanVisor
  • February 17, 2012
    VioletOrange
    ^^^ Why not ?

    ^^ Put it another way, any hero who Shoot The Dog at least once would qualify ? I am not against making such a trope, but I am against naming it Pragmatic Hero.

    On the subject of Rohrschach, let us look at the three point I suggest :

    • the character is a hero, which means that the planned result of his actions have a positive cost/benefit ratio.
    From what I see, he doesn't care about the result of his action. He follow his moral code, and will never compromise it, consequence be damned. So no.
    • the character believe that the end justify the means, and act accordingly. In particular, any refusal to Shoot The Dog is an automatic disqualification for this trope. That also means that the character doesn't rigidly adhere to a moral code (for instance, he will kill if necessary) which isn't concretely justified.
    Principles Zealot.
    • the character only use questionable means when they are In Universe no other way to solve this problem.
    Very debatable.

    ^ if we launch it now, there will be a TRS later to fix the description or clean the examples
  • March 4, 2012
    CrystalBlue
    Bump. Is the original creator still working on this by the way or should someone else take it over?
  • March 4, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    ^^Agreed on the last point.

    ^I am still here but I fired myself because I felt I was not contributing to a good resolution of the trope.
  • March 6, 2012
    pawsplay
  • March 14, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    Bump. Can we get this redone so that the TRS thread can be closed?
  • March 15, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    I'm thinking this is just a bad YKTTW. Meaning I did not do a good job with the description, causing it to become bogged down in debate. Let's discard it and try again.
  • March 23, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    ^Should we make the description in TRS and then run it through YKTTW?
  • March 23, 2012
    lu127
    ^ Yes.
  • April 15, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    Bumping this, since there is now a crowner and the thread has been reactivated.
  • April 18, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Bumping for crowner votes.
  • April 23, 2012
    AlexeiMundhenkvorYaruk
  • April 26, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    Crowner was called in favour of splitting into:
    • A Hero who is The Unfettered. They commit villainous acts to further the cause of good, and generally regard having values as a weakness, but their goals are always on the side of good.
    • A Hero who is pragmatic, but not The Unfettered. They have their own principles, they just reject the normal heroic ethics as practiced by The Cape or a Knight In Shining Armor.
  • April 29, 2012
    ading
    I added some examples, as it is Up For Grabs. I think checking Sadistic Choice and I Did What I Had To Do would be useful. This and also Shoot The Shaggy Dog, if their choices are ultimately useless.
  • June 27, 2012
    MorganWick
    The draft says it's discarded, is there a reason it's not?
  • June 29, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    ^I'm not sure. The new version of this has been launched as Pragmatic Hero.
  • November 18, 2013
    Lorialet

    If your reading this title your parents will die within 5 years To undo this curse copy on 5threads Good luck sorry I CAN'T Risk it!!!

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable