Created By: Xandriel on February 7, 2012 Last Edited By: Xandriel on July 9, 2012

Upstanding And Uptight

Law-abiding heroes are portrayed as stuffy.

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There is a tendency for devotees of law and righteousness to be shown as strict and no-nonsense to the point where anyone would think there was a rule against having fun. They will often boss others around, especially those of a more chaotic leaning, seeing themselves as being the only one who can keep their teammates in check. (Whether or not they succeed is another matter.) Their sense of humour is practically nonexistent, and their response to a joke will be at best a raised eyebrow or a shake of the head. This character's obsession with order may extend to them being a Neat Freak or Creature of Habit. In tabletop roleplaying games, many a paladin is played this way.

If taken far enough, this attitude may lapse into lawful stupidity.

The Knight in Sour Armour usually acts like this, as their cynicism leaves little room for any sort of levity. See also Good Is Not Nice and Smug Straight Edge. Contrast Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor. If their stuffiness is Played for Laughs (usually at their expense), they are often The Comically Serious.


Examples

Anime and Manga

Comic Books
  • Cyclops from the X-Men.

Literature
  • Hermione in Harry Potter. Also, to a lesser extent, Professor McGonagall.
  • Captain Carrot in Discworld, the only man in the Night Watch who actually knows the Laws of Ankh-Morpork, sometimes comes across like this, especially in early books, although he doesn't like being "good at being obeyed". His No Sense Of Humour comes from being raised by dwarfs, who are all Literal-Minded.

Live-Action TV
  • Benton Fraser in Due South. He does have a sense of humour but it's a very understated one.
  • On the CSI series, both Mac Taylor and Gil Grissom fit into this, though both are known to be the Deadpan Snarker at times. Mac's case is justified for a while, he's still struggling with losing his wife on 9/11. He sort of closed himself off and buried himself in work, not really wanting to have a lot of fun or anything. However, he still slipped a bit of deadpan in every now and then-and was shown to be loosening up a bit later in the series. Grissom sort of varies between this and some deadpan-type humor, depending on things like his mood and if he's fighting a migraine or not.
  • The Middleman, titular character was so upstanding that the universe bent to enforce it around him. When Wendy Watson swore, a black box would appear in front of her mouth -- in universe.

Web Comics
  • Miko Miyazaki in Order Of The Stick is a Deconstruction of the trope, starting as a straight example, then parodied when it turned out other Paladins found her as annoying as everyone else, and finally lapsing not just into Lawful Stupid but into a Knight Templar, due to the refusal of the universe to work according to the script in her head.
  • Lancelot in Arthur, King of Time and Space, described on the cast page as "Best knight in the world. Holier than thou. I'm not kidding." In one strip Merlin congratulates him for "playing the martinet" so Arthur can keep being the relaxed nice-guy leader, before realising he's not "playing" anything.

Western Animation
  • Principal Skinner on The Simpsons
    Superintendent Chalmers: Good lord! The rod up that man's butt must have a rod up its butt.
    • Much like Skinner, Lisa Simpson of the same show is often rather no thrills and serious about her activism. She once chastised Homer for having fun recycling.
  • Princess Sally Acorn of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons and comics is tactical and by the book in missions, and as such often depicted as uptight, condescending and nagging, especially towards Sonic, who is everything but. This has lessened in modern comics where she is more jovial and Closer to Earth, though she is still usually more lawful and serious than the other Freedom Fighters.
    Sally: This isn't a game, Sonic!
  • Rabbit of Winnie-the-Pooh follows this proceedure to the point of Super OCD. Every basic task and past time he makes has a ridiculous number of rules and regulations, and so help a single thing is out of order. Granted in reality Rabbit is something of a Know-Nothing Know-It-All and a lot of his attempts at keeping things in order just tear things apart.
    Rabbit: This isn't fun, it's Easter!!!
  • In Transformers Prime, it is revealed that Primes are expected to behave like this, to the point of being Comically Serious. Doesn't stop them from being nice or tolerant, though.
Community Feedback Replies: 11
  • February 8, 2012
    DaibhidC
    Literature
    • Captain Carrot in Discworld, the only man in the Night Watch who actually knows the Laws of Ankh-Morpork, sometimes comes across like this, especially in early books, although he doesn't like being "good at being obeyed". His No Sense Of Humour comes from being raised by dwarfs, who are all Literal Minded.

    Live Action TV
    • Benton Fraser in Due South. He does have a sense of humour but it's a very understated one.

    Webcomics
    • Miko Miyazaki in Order Of The Stick is a Deconstruction of the trope, starting as a straight example, then parodied when it turned out other Paladins found her as annoying as everyone else, and finally lapsing not just into Lawful Stupid but into a Knight Templar, due to the refusal of the universe to work according to the script in her head.
    • Lancelot in Arthur King Of Time And Space, described on the cast page as "Best knight in the world. Holier than thou. I'm not kidding." In one strip Merlin congratulates him for "playing the martinet" so Arthur can keep being the relaxed nice-guy leader, before realising he's not "playing" anything.
  • February 8, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Principal Skinner on The Simpsons
    Superintendent Chalmers: Good lord! The rod up that man's butt must have a rod up its butt.

  • February 8, 2012
    Psi001
    • Princess Sally Acorn of Sonic The Hedgehog cartoons and comics is tactical and by the book in missions, and as such often depicted as uptight, condescending and nagging, especially towards Sonic, who is everything but. This has lessened in modern comics where she is more jovial and Closer To Earth, though she is still usually more lawful and serious than the other Freedom Fighters.
      Sally: This isn't a game, Sonic!

    • Much like Skinner, Lisa Simpson of the same show is often rather no thrills and serious about her activism. She once chastised Homer for having fun recycling.

    • Rabbit of Winnie The Pooh follows this proceedure to the point of Super OCD. Every basic task and past time he makes has a ridiculous number of rules and regulations, and so help a single thing is out of order. Granted in reality Rabbit is something of a Know Nothing Know It All and a lot of his attempts at keeping things in order just tear things apart.
      Rabbit: This isn't fun, it's Easter!!!

    If their stuffiness is Played For Laughs (usually at their expense), they are often The Comically Serious.
  • February 8, 2012
    Sligh333
    Cyclops from the X-men.
  • February 8, 2012
    chicagomel
    On the CSI series, both Mac Taylor and Gil Grissom fit into this, though both are known to be the Deadpan Snarker at times. Mac's case is justified for a while, he's still struggling with losing his wife on 9/11. He sort of closed himself off and buried himself in work, not really wanting to have a lot of fun or anything. However, he still slipped a bit of deadpan in every now and then-and was shown to be loosening up a bit later in the series. Grissom sort of varies between this and some deadpan-type humor, depending on things like his mood and if he's fighting a migraine or not.
  • February 8, 2012
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • The Middleman, titular character was so upstanding that the universe bent to enforce it around him. When Wendy Watson swore, a black box would appear in front of her mouth -- in universe.

  • February 9, 2012
    Chabal2
  • February 9, 2012
    MarkThis
    In Transformers Prime, it is revealed that Primes are expected to behave like this, o the point of being Comically Serious. Doesn't stop them from being nice or tolerant, though.

  • February 12, 2012
    pawsplay
    Captain Picard, natch. Also, Esme Weatherwax.
  • February 13, 2012
    Arivne
    .
  • July 9, 2012
    TBeholder
    Olivia in Wywern's Spur Forgotten Realms novel by Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb experienced this:
    She paced about the room. In my younger days, I'd have cased every room in this house and stolen three resalable things before breakfast, she chided herself. Being prosperous takes all the fun out of life. Now all I do is eavesdrop and worry that I'm going to be discovered. That's the problem with respectability--you always worry about losing it. Paladins must be nervous wrecks, she thought with an amused snort.

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