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[[quoteright:342:[[http://forlackofabettercomic.com/?id=23 http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/GameOfKingsHbeforeR_227.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:342: [[Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire Honor is overrated.]]]]

->''"Shepherd Book always said, 'If you can't do something smart, do something right.'"''
-->-- '''Jayne Cobb''', ''Film/{{Serenity}}''

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Being a good and honorable person is [[BeingGoodSucks anything but easy]]; it requires personal sacrifice that most normal people aren't willing to make, either out of self-interest, self-preservation, selfishness or [[TheDulcineaEffect any other number of reasons]].

Heroes who abide by this trope more often than not act in a manner that, although morally sound and honorable, is far from the most practical solution. Quite often this kind of decent, chivalric behavior will come at [[HeroicSacrifice a great cost to the hero's happiness, kill him outright, or similarly leave him a destroyed human being]]. A villain [[GenreSavvy aware]] of such a gallant hero is bound to use FlawExploitation against him as well.

Put another way, a character who adheres to this trope is someone who is [[TheFettered more committed to a particular code of abstract ethics]] than he is to his own self-preservation. He believes in a pre-defined set of rules which universally apply, and he will not break said rules, even if his own death results from adhering to them in one particular instance. These types will usually justify this by claiming that living with the shame that results from having broken said rules is AFateWorseThanDeath.

In other words, [[WhatYouAreInTheDark they have character]].

In stories on the idealistic end of the SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism, the more the insistence of honorable behavior seems impractical, or even insane, the greater the chance that it becomes the thing that turns a hopeless situation into victory. As a result, the honorable hero is vindicated and the cynics are left completely stunned at what happened.

In stories on the cynical end, you get TooDumbToLive.

An especially poignant situation is TurnTheOtherCheek. Often, and perhaps running counter to the theme of honor besting all, the hero has to be aided by [[BadGuysDoTheDirtyWork Big Damn Villains]], [[NecessarilyEvil who are able to cross that final line that his integrity would not allow.]]

When done well and/or consistently, such acts of decency fan the flames of idealism in the viewers' hearts; they make them cheer even harder for the hero and inspire a desire to be just as pure and honorable. When done poorly, the term "LawfulStupid" comes to mind, as does MartyrWithoutACause.

This trope is also subject to some degree of ValuesDissonance, as some actions will be seen as both honorable ''and'' reasonable to a society with a certain set of beliefs. For instance, a society which believes in an afterlife ruled by [[ThePowersThatBe a Higher Power]] that judges according to a rigid code of morality would see the "honorable" choice as being also "reasonable" by virtue of the fact that the person making it is sacrificing a temporary advantage in this life for a permanent one in the life to come.

Often features in IGaveMyWord, InItsHourOfNeed, RebelliousRebel; the ProudWarriorRaceGuy typically follows the rule, as well. WhatYouAreInTheDark always reveals the same character as when they are seen. When a character does this to the point that it angers their more corrupt superiors, expect them to become TheLastDJ. {{The McCoy}} is the personification of this trope. MoreHeroThanThou disputes are sometimes this, when only one character is really suitable for the sacrifice. Can lead to the hero being prone to fall to things like the FalseInnocenceTrick. See also VictoriousLoser and SmallStepsHero.

ShootTheDog is this trope's opposite: Reason Before Honor. ''Usually'' not a trait of a CombatPragmatist due to their [[TryingToCatchMeFightingDirty approach to fighting]].

Compare/contrast with IncorruptiblePurePureness, GoodIsOldFashioned, TheFettered, MartyrdomCulture, RevengeBeforeReason, and NobleDemon (the EvilCounterpart). Contrast NoNonsenseNemesis and BlindObedience.


* HonorBeforeReason/AnimeAndManga
* HonorBeforeReason/ComicBooks
* HonorBeforeReason/{{Film}}
* HonorBeforeReason/{{Literature}}
* HonorBeforeReason/LiveActionTV
* HonorBeforeReason/MythologyAndReligion
* HonorBeforeReason/ProfessionalWrestling
* HonorBeforeReason/TabletopGames
* HonorBeforeReason/{{Theatre}}
* HonorBeforeReason/VideoGames
* HonorBeforeReason/VisualNovels
* HonorBeforeReason/{{Webcomics}}
* HonorBeforeReason/WebOriginal
* HonorBeforeReason/WesternAnimation

!!Other Examples

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In ''FanFic/OriginStory'', several of the Avengers chew out [[BadassNormal Black Widow]] for "letting [Alex Harris] go" despite Alex having beaten Ms. Marvel, Iron Man, and Wonder Man quite easily. Combining this with the fact that Alex shrugs off Hulkbuster bullets, Natasha [[DeadpanSnarker asks if they expected her to beat Alex by breaking some of her bones on the girl]].
* ''FanFic/ATeachersGlory''
** Kin refuses to wear her deceased teammate's clothes, despite having been stripped naked and left to fend for herself in the forest of death. Also, Sasuke finds himself obliged to take Ino on a date because [[IGaveMyWord he said he would]], no matter how easily he could duck out of it, because the Uchiha Head keeps his promises.
** Team 7 decides that this does not apply in the Chunin exams when Naruto gets injured. Rather than give him what treatment they can scrape up while looking for a scroll, they know that the exams are not a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and opt to get him professional medical attention even at the cost of failing.