Created By: FrodoGoofballCoTV on April 28, 2012 Last Edited By: SeptimusHeap on May 27, 2013
Nuked

Unfettered Hero - Please Add Examples

An anti-hero who shows little to no restraint or inhibition.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
A note on concept history: Per this conversation, we decided to split the Sliding Scale Of Anti Heroes into its component tropes. However, when we got to the YKTTW for the Type III "Dangerous Anti-Hero", which can be found here it proved troblesome, so per this crowner, it was split. :P

See also Pragmatic Hero.
Most great fictional heroes fall into one of two broad categories: the Ideal Hero, such as The Cape or a Knight in Shining Armor who is pretty much exactly what one would hope for in a hero - skilled, courageous, morally pure, etc., and the Anti-Hero, who lacks one or more qualities normally considered necessary for an Ideal Hero. For example, a Classical Anti-Hero lacks ability or self - confidence, a Knight in Sour Armor lacks a positive attitude, and a Nominal Hero lacks morally pure intentions.

An Unfettered Hero differs from an Ideal Hero in that they are The Unfettered. However, unlike many other such characters, their intentions are entirely heroic. It's just that unlike most less dark heroes, fighting for a good cause is simply a case of "the ends justify the means", and they will literally stop at nothing to defeat evil. Any innocent lives that might be lost along the way are little more than an unimportant distraction.

This character is often paired with an exceptionally vile or powerful villain. After all, a "hero" who would literally commit Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking to stop a Harmless Villain will generally come off as a Knight Templar of the worst sort, but a character who would do so to save or free millions is more believable as a protagonist who, faced with a Sadistic Choice, simply makes a dispassionate utilitarian calculation.

This character often does not work well with others. After all, standing next to a hero who may decide at any moment that his allies are expendable pawns in the war against evil is not always the wisest place to be.

Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime & Manga]]
  • In Code Geass, Lelouch murders his own family and orders many to their deaths in his campaign to "destroy the world" to make way for a better future. But ultimately, while his actions are anything but, his goals are entirely honorable.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Comic Books]]
  • The Punisher places little value in the lives of other characters with checkered pasts. But his main fight is always with the baddest Big Bad he can find.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature]]
  • Kiritsugu Emiya from Fate/Zero clearly has a noble goal, achieving a peaceful world without war, but his modus operandi is to kill everybody who stands in its way, including his allies and his father if he deems them to be a threat.
  • Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer is an ultra-violent, no-holds-barred, Knight Templar detective who was extremely controversial (and popular) in his day. Today, he's seen as an almost-parody of the Hardboiled Detective genre.
  • Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality;
    • Subverted as Dumbledore started off as The Fettered Big Good and The Hero, but Voldemort exploited his tendency never to abandon an ally or sacrifice a pawn to completely paralyse the good guys. It's when Dumbledore started treating his pawns as disposable and making calculated sacrifices, that being one became safer.
    • Defied as, while Rational!Harry doesn't get why, knowing full well who the Death Eaters were, Dumbledore's side didn't just owl them hand grenades, has to be instructed as to the hidden costs of being Too Clever by Half.
  • In Harry Potter, while Harry and his friends are presented as Ideal Heroes by the narrative, they indulge into some rather questionable actions in order to achieve their goals, including theft, mind control, blackmail, Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique, and so on. There's a reason Harry Potter is the poster boy for Neutral Good. Dumbledore's rampant abuse of the Omniscient Morality License for Gambit Roulettes could count as this as well.
  • The Acts of Caine by Matthew Stover demonstrate how the Unfettered make setting right and wrong in your story very difficult. Caine, the protagonist, is a prime example of an Unfettered character (but not his alter ego Hari, interestingly enough). He manages to be both a genocidal murderer and the world's saviour, an amoral cutthroat and a loving father. Stover successfully pulls it off because the morality in his novels is more about how much control you are willing to exercise over events to bring around the right outcome and less about whether death is right or wrong. Other Unfettered characters include Talaan, T'Passe, and Tommy to a degree. Ma'elKoth is Unfettered until the Blind God owns him. Berne comes close but loves infamy and pleasure (read: rape) too much. Raithe manages to be Unfettered for about all of two chapters in Blade of Tyshalle.
  • John Galt in Atlas Shrugged brings about the collapse of an entire society/economic system almost through sheer force of will, as well as breaking his torturer the same way!
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
  • Burn Notice Michael is this early on in the show and is commited to clearing his name and going back as late as Season 3. It's clear that he didn't allow relationships or morality to hold him back from doing what he saw as his duty.
  • Shane Walsh of The Walking Dead has the admirable objective of keeping the group alive, but is utterly ruthless in his attempts to do so. Later, he acquires the additional, not so admirable goal of taking Lori and Carl from Rick.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]] [[/folder]]
Community Feedback Replies: 34
  • April 28, 2012
    Koveras
    First, "Hero" and "Anti-Hero" are very different things. Secondly, "Unfettered Anti-Hero" is too similar to both The Unfettered and Anti Hero to escape the Tropes Are Flexible clause; while "Unfettered Hero" is an oxymoron because heroes are defined by their moral standards and a hero who loses them can no longer count as such.
  • April 28, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    ^Will the revised descriotion work better?
  • April 28, 2012
    Koveras
    Yeah. If it's part of a sliding scale, that explains the vagueness...
  • May 6, 2012
    Lorialet
    This character is somehow between the Ubermensch, The Unfettered, Well-Intentionned Extremist and Good Is Not Nice. It is Pragmatic Hero without guilt or moral reckoning of his more villain-like acts. Or he is paired with an unic heroic goal, with heroic reasons to pursue it, but without consideration for another heroic goal ? Or he just sees the most important side, and not the less important, unlike the Pragmatic Hero, who does care, but can't do a lot.
  • May 6, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Basically, my understanding is that these characters see a heroic goal that seems to themselves to be more important than anything else, and thus they pursue it without guilt or concern over their villainous acts. For this character, the only morality they necessarily require other than a morally good goal is "the ends justify the means".

    My vision is, let's say for example, an underling has info the heroes need to stop the Big Bad, who is planning a bank heist that will likely leave several dozen people dead. A Pragmatic Hero - and most Unscrupulous Heroes for that matter - might knock a policeman unconcious, kidnap the underling, tie him up in a precarious position, and threaten him until he talks, but would be very reluctant to kill anyone to accomplish the mission. This character might not only kill the underling, he'd murder a Red Shirt or two as well just to trick the Big Bad into thinking he'd made a Face Heel Turn to get close to the Big Bad.
  • May 20, 2012
    Lorialet
    Basically, any action hero who wants to take a criminal down for revenge.
  • June 19, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Did a bit of a rewrite. If everyone likes it, we'll gather some examples and start the launch clock.
  • June 22, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    ^This needs a Needs More Examples tag.
  • June 22, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    ^Thank you!
  • June 22, 2012
    Xtifr
    Literature:
  • June 22, 2012
    surgoshan
    Would Porter from Payback count? Definitely an antihero, and more or less the unfettered because, well, he just doesn't seem to give a shit. At the start of the movie, he gets his hands on a few bucks by grabbing them out of the begging hat of a crippled war vet. Then, when the vet stands up in protest, shoves him down saying "Shut up, I cured you."
  • June 22, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    ^Not sure if he's this or an Unscrupulous Hero (one step down, where they Kick The Dog for fun but their goals are good.)
  • July 31, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    Bump for examples.
  • August 7, 2012
    ccoa
    Bumping, since there is a TRS thread waiting on this.
  • August 7, 2012
    jkbeta
    Added Kiritsugu Emiya from Fate Zero.
  • August 7, 2012
    NoirGrimoir
    I really don't see the point in this.
  • August 8, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    How is this related to the Determinator?
  • August 8, 2012
    MorganWick
    Laconic worried me because The Same But More Specific frowns on X Meets Y tropes, unless there's actually something interesting about the intersection.

    Take a look at Designated Hero for help fleshing this out and maybe some examples.
  • August 8, 2012
    Psi001
  • August 25, 2012
    Unknown Troper
    Bump.

    Why the hell are unknown tropers allowed to edit replies?
  • October 14, 2012
    Lorialet
    • Morgana from Merlin becomes this.
  • October 14, 2012
    Unknown Troper
    I mean Merlin as in the TV series.
  • December 2, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    Bump. This needs more examples so that it can be launched.
  • December 27, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    Ok, another bump. Can we get hats/examples/comments here, please?
  • December 27, 2012
    TheHandle
    Harry Potter And The Methods Of Rationality;
    • Subverted as Dumbledore started off as The Fettered Big Good and The Hero, but Voldemort exploited his tendency never to abandon an ally or sacrifice a pawn to completely paralyse the good guys. It's when Dumbledore started treating his pawns as disposable and making calculated sacrifices, that being one became safer.
    • Defied as, while Rational!Harry doesn't get why, knowing full well who the Death Eaters were, Dumbledore's side didn't just owl them hand grenades, has to be instructed as to the hidden costs of being Too Clever By Half.
  • January 5, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    Bumping for more hats/comments/examples.
  • January 8, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    Can we get more examples, please?
  • January 10, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    And again bumping for more examples. Please!
  • January 10, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    A test bump.
  • January 10, 2013
    TheHandle
  • January 10, 2013
    m8e
    Copied from The Unfettered, might fit here? They are unfettered and some kind of hero. Don't know if that makes them Unfettered Hero.

    • NausicaƤ, when you think about it, spends most of the manga without hesitation making decisions which tear at her heart in pursuit of her goal: To get as few living creatures as possible killed.

    • Batman's second Robin, Jason Todd considers himself this, since he shed Batman's Thou Shalt Not Kill rule after returning from the dead and finding his death had stayed unavenged.
    • Lobo. "Once the Main Man puts his mind to it, he can destroy anything."

    • Don Quixote from Man Of La Mancha. He shows why he acts the way he does despite being perceived as a fool and a madman in the song The Impossible Dream.

    • The Acts Of Caine by Matthew Stover demonstrate how the Unfettered make setting right and wrong in your story very difficult. Caine, the protagonist, is a prime example of an Unfettered character (but not his alter ego Hari, interestingly enough). He manages to be both a genocidal murderer and the world's saviour, an amoral cutthroat and a loving father. Stover successfully pulls it off because the morality in his novels is more about how much control you are willing to exercise over events to bring around the right outcome and less about whether death is right or wrong. Other Unfettered characters include Talaan, T'Passe, and Tommy to a degree. Ma'elKoth is Unfettered until the Blind God owns him. Berne comes close but loves infamy and pleasure (read: rape) too much. Raithe manages to be Unfettered for about all of two chapters in Blade of Tyshalle.
    • John Galt in Atlas Shrugged brings about the collapse of an entire society/economic system almost through sheer force of will, as well as breaking his torturer the same way!

    • Burn Notice Michael is this early on in the show and is commited to clearing his name and going back as late as Season 3. It's clear that he didn't allow relationships or morality to hold him back from doing what he saw as his duty.
    • Shane Walsh of The Walking Dead has the admirable objective of keeping the group alive, but is utterly ruthless in his attempts to do so. Later, he acquires the additional, not so admirable goal of taking Lori and Carl from Rick.

    • Max Payne: "Collecting evidence had gotten old a few hundred bullets back. I was already so far beyond the point of no return I couldn't remember what it had looked like when I had passed it."
  • January 16, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    Added some of these examples. More examples, please!
  • January 25, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    Does this seem launchworthy?
  • May 27, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    Discarding per discussion in the TRS thread linked.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=t74xlndef9vdc93x3raz83yr