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The Exalted Torture is usually someone who considers using the JackBauerInterrogationTechnique, PerpSweating to the degree of outright PoliceBrutality, war crimes and similar atrocities, and/or other actions like most people consider using periods. But he's not portrayed as evil or in a negative way.

He's the ''Hero.''

In a nutshell, the Exalted Torturer is:
* Viewed as heroic and admirable when his actions are things villains in other (or even the same) media would do. Which at extremes can be extreme DesignatedHero territory in line with acting ForTheEvulz, where the character will do things that would make "villains" or "antagonists" flinch.
* Someone who uses ColdBloodedTorture , the JackBauerInterrogationTechnique, the MaximumFunChamber, PoliceBrutality, extreme PerpSweating, [[RapePortrayedAsRedemption rape]] and/or some combination thereof to achieve his goals. Usually [[ToThePain Frequently.]]
* As such, the combination of with elements of the TortureTechnician, wrapped up in a TheHero KnightInShiningArmor package, and stuck on the "whiter" side of the local morality chain at least from the point of view of their side.

The reasons for this and how it comes about this vary wildly, but Exalted Torturers share those base traits but fall into one of two main categories.

* The NobleDemon or WellIntentionedExtremist who resorts to these methods because they (at least believe) they're "necessary" for a noble cause. Given [[CrapsackWorld the worlds]] [[WorldHalfEmpty they tend]] [[WorldHalfFull to live in]] the narrative tends to [[TheExtremistWasRight agree with them]] (possibly with or without the audience). Examples can include [[Franchise/{{Batman}} Batman]], Film/JamesBond, [[Series/TwentyFour Jack Bauer]], [[CommandAndConquerRedAlertSeries Tanya Adams]], and [[ZeroDarkThirty Maya.]] As general rules generally:
** Try and be fairly good people. They at least try to have decent morals, try to do the right thing, and acknowledge on some level that some of what they do is [[NecessarilyEvil unpleasant]] but are doing it only for the sake of [[UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans a good higher purpose]].
** Generally try to avoid employing the methods that earned them a spot on this page, [[TwentyFour though their efforts to avoid resorting to it might not be the most dedicated.]] Unless they believe the situation has crossed a GodzillaThreshold that requires it, they will try "softer" and less ugly methods.
** Refrain from doing more harm than necessary (or that they think is necessary), and generally outright don't use methods like rape altogether.
** [[WhatMeasureIsAMook (almost) always limit their uses of it to villains or "bad people".]] Cases where they do this to an innocent or good person are neigh on nonexistant, and most of those tend to have some sort of justification (which can still [[DesignatedHero fall flat if handled wrong).]]

They generally exist as good guys of TheFederation or TheKingdom in fiction where the "Black" in the local Black-and-White or Black and Grey morality is ''Very'' Black even in comparison to any greys, and you can see the GodzillaThreshold just looking over your shoulder. Though in some cases they can show signs of enjoying it toooo much, they usually don't let it override their moral compass.

* TheSociopath and/or ''Sadist'' who decides to say "screw that" and does it at any opportunity and with any possible justification, or even none at all. Beyond simply brutal, these characters tend to openly enjoy causing suffering and pain, [[VillainBall often to the detriment of what the torture was supposed to accomplish in the first place.]] Examples include ''Rapeman'', [[JustCause RicoRodriguez, and Bolo Santosi]], and most of the main characters in DeathNote. In general these characters:
** Have moral compasses severely off kilter at *best; at worst they never really had it to begin with.
** Frequently resort to gratuitous and unnecessary torture.
** Tend to do it primarily because [[ForTheEvulz they enjoy it]] above all other reasons.
** Are far less discriminating with who they do and do not torture or attack.
** Tend to rely far more heavily on DesignatedHero and ProtagonistCenteredMorality in order to make them sympathetic.

This group tends to inhabit the "revenge fantasy" and goresploitation genres, tending towards being either wronged vigilantes who lash waaay out or such extreme examples of the "hardboiled cop/soldier on the edge" that they seem to stumble over it. Alternatively, they can be simply people who are taking merciless action against [[AuthorAppeal groups the Author thinks they should be allowed to do.]]

When Exalted Torturer status is invoked (where they are exalted in-universe by some but *definitely not* by the narrative) for this category, they tend to be the TortureTechnician of TheEmpire, [[TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilized nightmarish revolutions]], [[YourTerroristsAreOurFreedomFighters ambiguously labeled anti-government forces]], some other bloody minded but "respectable" group.

While these two categories seem as Black and White as the fiction this character often appeaers in, there are grey areas between the two. Often times, the sympathetic NobleDemon might enjoy it a biiit too much while TheSociopath is doing his heinous actions on behalf of some (supposedly) noble cause like ''Rapeman'' or ''Film/HanzoTheRazor'', the issue being that the former is usually still capable of sympathy because their restraint and morality outweigh any sadistic tendencies; the latter's behavior is sympathetic only by coincidence and generally repulsive even if employed for the noblest of causes.

There are also some characters that defy easy categorization between those two, with one character falling more into the first for some while another group might view him as the latter. Even beyond that, there are some characters like ThePunisher who can flip between categories DependingOnTheWriter. So at best this is a highly simplified look.

But in general most Exalted Torturers lean towards one category or the other, being [[GoodIsNotNice "someone you're glad isn't on the side of evil"]] to [[DesignatedHero "someone you can't believe isn't evil regardless of side."]]

The Exalted Torture is ''almost'' AlwaysMale possibly due to ValuesDissonance in how a woman would be handled. though several female examples can be found for both categories.

How and why this character comes about can vary almost as frequently as their portrayal. They could be anything from TheHero of a dark and serious work to examine GoodIsNotNice and if it can afford to be any other way, the DesignatedHero either by [[AuthorAvatar the]] [[AuthorAppeal author]], or even someone author doesn't ''originally'' intend to somehow make heroic only for MisaimedFandom to [[{{Flanderization}} play up his torture and abuse as "good" or heroic.]]

This character can be a major BaseBreaker and cause [[FlameBait massive conflicts]] not just in his fictional world, but he can also possibly in real life. On one extreme side extremist defenders might hold them up as a cause celebre and [[UnfortunateImplications defend real life instances of torture, police brutality or whatever form of atrocity he's inflicting upon his victims]] because they're AcceptableTargets, because he's the DesignatedHero, or both.. On the other extreme, you can have people who will group together everyone from the most remorseful and reluctant to the most unhinged and sociopathic and claim [[BlackAndWhiteInsanity that they're all insane and any portrayals of them in any remotely positive light are inexcusable apologia]], and who generally feel justified to ignore or condemn any in-universe or RealLife ShootTheDog moments or DirtyBusiness regardless of merit.

Compare to PathOfInspiration, which rough institutional parallel since they glorify things that are dubious at best and have good press. However, Paths of Inspiration tend to be more unambiguously antagonistic and evil and generally far less sincere than even some of [[TheSociopath most psychopathic Exalted Torturers]] are in their righteousness. That being said, it is also a very convenient venue where an Exalted Torturer can find work if they're not being lionized.

Compare and contrast CowboyCop, MoralDissonance, ValuesDissonance, VillainWithGoodPublicity, and especially the TortureTechnician.

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!!Examples

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[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Rapeman''. While the manga and anime are arguably {{satire}} featuring BlackComedyRape, that doesn't stop some people from blaming the rape victims for their rapes, believing rape is an okay punishment, and somehow seeing Rapeman as a righteous hero rather than CrossingTheLineTwice BlackHumor in an EvilVersusEvil world.
* Ibiki Morino from ''Franchise/{{Naruto}}'', who is actually one of the good guys. Despite his reputation though, his methods are largely psychological.
* Saito Hajime of ''Manga/RurouniKenshin'' believes strongly in justice, but it's hard to deny that he [[BloodKnight really likes killing people]]. While he doesn't torture on-screen, at one point, he dissuades a boy from taking revenge on his parents' murderer by telling the boy that the murderer will undoubtedly have information tortured out of him before being gruesomely executed, and thus letting him be arrested would be the better revenge.
* ''Manga/DeathNote'' has HeroAntagonist L, who would be better described as an AntiHero, and whose methods of heroic behavior strictly reinforce the series' GreyAndGreyMorality. The trope is played with; L views himself this way, but is actually NotSoDifferent from his opponent.
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[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''SinCity'''s Marv not only does this to criminals but he [[SociopathicHero loves it]]. There is an entire monologue in his first story about how much he enjoys what he's doing.
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[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/DirtyHarry'', possibly the TropeMaker for film depictions in the US.
* The protagonist of the ''Film/HanzoTheRazor'' films. The same as the Rapeman example, except ''not'' played as satire and BlackComedy. Instead, he's played straight as a "good cop" who investigates his cases by raping his suspects into submission.
* ''Film/TheDarkKnightSaga'' sets the following baseline for Batman: If you are a SmugSnake of a dirty cop, he won't hesitate to traumatize you and scare you half to death as a form of interrogation. If you're a crime lord holding out information on a madman going on a destructive rampage through his city, he will go even farther. If you ''are'' said madman and the clock is ticking on people's lives, he will start at bodily harm and beat you within an inch of your life if that's what it takes. The Joker sees all this and, with mixed awe and annoyance, declares him "incorruptible" (because he has only one rule, "no killing", and he won't break it).
* An in-movie example in the 1939 ''Film/TheHunchbackOfNotreDame'': the official flogger who publicly whips Quasimodo is cheered like a sports hero.
* ''{{Film/Prisoners}}'' has a father resort to this, over the whole film, by torturing the main suspect to reveal where his missing daughter is being held.
* Dan from ''Film/ZeroDarkThirty'' was one for the first part of the movie, though he eventually had enough and left to work at Langley.
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[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Jack Bauer of ''Series/TwentyFour'' and TropeNamer of the JackBauerInterrogationTechnique.
* Elliot Stabler of ''Series/LawAndOrderSpecialVictimsUnit''. While he faces some in-show consequences, said consequences do nothing to stop him, his conduct crosses the line into PoliceBrutality, and a disturbingly large portion of fans of the show in RealLife assume that RealLife police are justified in engaging in such conduct with suspects [[SarcasmMode because when the accusation is vile enough there's no such thing as innocent until proven guilty]].
* Wesley Wyndham-Pryce from ''Series/{{Angel}}'' probably falls into this trope when he tortures Justine in early season 4. He also does this later in the season to get information about Angelus.
* Sayid from ''Series/{{Lost}}''. He, like a number of other characters, spends time on both the Black and White sides of morality and pretty much everywhere inbetween, but he spends most of his time on the lighter side of grey.
* Jarod from ''Series/ThePretender'' does some pretty dark things to the people who hurt the blameless victim of the week. These often involve making them believe they will die painfully.
* ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|Reimagined}}'' has Starbuck in her interrogation of Leoben.
* Guerrero from ''Series/HumanTarget'', whose torture of enemies is occasionally even PlayedForLaughs.
* Wonder Woman of the ''Series/WonderWoman2011Pilot'' is one of the few women who could qualify. And she doesn't have entire cities at risk, she just deals with drug dealers who sell drugs with dangerous side effects.
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[[folder:Literature]]
* In the ''Ksin'' saga, the royal torturer is that. He is a true master in causing pain and does his worst than he works -- but he also exemplifies HonorBeforeReason. Even though he knows that some things he does are unreasonable, he considers it a must at his position -- a torturer must be a paragon of honor or else he will be worse than a beast.
* [[SubvertedTrope Subverted]] in Gene Wolfe's ''Literature/BookOfTheNewSun''. [[DesignatedHero Severian]] at first believes this, but then comes to later realize that [[ColdBloodedTorture torture]] [[SomeAnvilsNeedToBeDropped is]] '''bad'''. As Autarch, Severian tries to outlaw the Torturers' Guild, saying "It is intolerable that good men should spend their lives dispensing pain." The Grandmaster responds that "It MUST be done by good men," implying that, like the ''Ksin'' example above, that torture can either be done by good men or by those who would take pleasure in it.
* Depending on who you ask, {{God}} or {{Satan}} ([[TakeAThirdOption or both]]) in Literature/TheBible. The book of Job is an example, where an innocent victim is tortured solely to prove his faithfulness.
* In the ''Literature/LeftBehind'' series, it's God who's propped up as the Exalted Torturer. Not that God or Jesus Christ enjoy it, as Jesus sadly watches the Antichrist, the False Prophet, and all those who rejected Him throughout the ages go to their appointed doom. To quote Jesus speaking to Ashtaroth, Baal, and Cankerworm in the Dramatic Audio:
-->''"Like My Father, with whom I am One, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but justice must be served, and death is your sentence."''
* While no details are given as to what exactly Butcher Brakespeare of the ''Literature/FloraSegunda'' books did during the war, her reputation as her country's greatest war criminal makes it clear that it was not very nice. But apparently she thought very hard about it and while it was difficult for her to do, it was the only way. So ''that's'' all right then. (Meanwhile, the other side's equally-vague war crimes are treated as completely unjustified and horrible.)
* In the ''Literature/{{Lensman}}'' universe, Worsel of Velantia and Nadreck of Palain VII both unleash the torture instruments of the Delgonian Overlords upon their former masters in the search for vital information. In Worsel's case, the other Lensmen let him do it because his own species was for countless centuries subject to the Overlords' depredations (basically a combination of MindRape, torture and a kind of telepathic sadism, and concluding with snuff and the consumption of the dying victim's life energies), while Nadreck is a member of a species which literally cannot comprehend such concepts as suffering without years of study, and even then can't ''feel'' it.
* Pulp detective character Literature/MikeHammer did a fair amount of beating and killing perps. Notably, while this was depicted as praiseworthy in the novels, one of the notable films based on the series, ''Kiss Me Deadly'' is something of a StealthParody making him a VillainProtagonist.
* Andrei Koscuisko of the ''Jurisdiction'' series by Susan R. Matthews is both a TortureTechnician and an Exalted Torturer. His job is necessary and he's good at it. And, much to his unending horror, he enjoys it.
* Terry Thorncove of the novel ''Inner Dark'' by Zhenmei Li is a complicated case. He started out as a TortureTechnician, became TheAtoner, found the side he switched to was willing to use him for 'special' interrogations, is viewed by the higher ups as a great hero but by his friends as the TokenEvilTeammate, is portrayed as a noble man resisting a dark urge in the narrative, continually invokes DrowningMySorrows over his actions and by the end is more or less dead inside.
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[[folder: Mythology and Religion]]
* Often, {{Satan}} is described this way, getting his jollies off by tormenting people (and lesser demons) in {{Hell}}. Sometimes, he is even described as playing a pivotal role in the actual judgment process, as more of a VillainProtagonist. In fact, the name derives from an old Hebrew word, ''ha-satan,'' which translates as "The Prosecutor."
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[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The Gray Guard PrestigeClass/Paragon Path from ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' was supposed to allow paladins the ability to go all Film/DirtyHarry on potential perpetrators without losing their alignment.
* The Inquisition of TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}} passes off as this trope (amongst other things... a ''LOT'' of other things) simply because the universe in question utilizes BlackAndGreyMorality rather than BlackAndWhiteMorality.
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[[folder:Theatre]]
* Played with in KGB founder Dzerzhinsky as depicted in Robert Bolt's ''State of Revolution''. When he objects to a career as the ideological garbageman, Lenin asks "Should it be done by someone with an appetite for garbage?" Later when he is grilling Lunacharsky, he retorts "It was you more than anyone else who persuaded me to take the position."
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[[folder:Video Games]]
* A [[KarmaMeter Renegade]] Commander Shepard in ''Franchise/MassEffect''. Hell, sometimes even [[GoodIsNotNice Paragon Shepard.]]
* ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'': During the quest "Inside Job", [[PlayerCharacter Hawke]] can torture a miner and have him killed. In his/her own home.
* ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' is a special case. While most of the torturers in game (Torturer Lecraft and such) are NOT this trope because they are antagonists to both factions, there are characters that do meet this trope because at least one faction considers them non-antagonist (Sergeant Kanren in Falconwing Square is a Horde example, Interrogator Khan in Telaar an Alliance one), and there's a class (Death Knight, at least in the beginning) and quests for both Horde and Alliance that can make [[YouSuck your]] [[PlayerPunch character]] [[WhatTheHellHero become]] an Exalted Torturer.]
* Joel from TheLastOfUs won't hesitate to brutally torture {{Mooks}} for information after [[spoiler:Ellie gets imprisoned by David's gang]]. It's heavily implied he's quite experienced in the JackBauerInterrogationTechnique.
* Booker [=DeWitt=] in ''BioShockInfinite/BurialAtSea'' casually mentions that when an orphan he was looking after disappeared, he tied Suchong to a chair and asked him about it for 15 hours.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/{{Sonichu}}'' and Christian Weston Chandler's self-insertions.
[[/folder]]
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