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[[quoteright:254: http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Templar_254_7474.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:250:You keep telling yourself that, Imperius.]]

%% This quote was decided on in TRS to be on the main page. Do not add a second without taking it to the forums first.

->"''Nobody is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart, for his purity, by definition, is unassailable.''"
-->-- '''James Baldwin'''

Sometimes, the [[LightIsGood Forces of Light and Goodness]] become [[TheUnfettered too]] [[GoneHorriblyRight hardcore]]. In a deadly combination of WellIntentionedExtremist, TheFundamentalist, MoralGuardians, and sometimes HeWhoFightsMonsters and/or BlindObedience, [[BlackAndWhiteInsanity they get blinded by]] [[VisionaryVillain themselves and their ideals]] and will do anything for them regardless of the effects on themselves or others. It's not the Forces of Darkness' fault, but they are laughing their asses off and [[NotSoDifferent taking a great deal of satisfaction that they were]] ''[[JerkassHasAPoint right]]''. It's basically TheMole version of HeroAntagonist. Seldom are Knights Templar explicitly evil from the beginning. Many an AntiHero will start by [[PayEvilUntoEvil Paying Evil Unto Evil]], and when they're not busting ass, are perfectly decent people. They may even overlook small fallacies and be classed on the good guy roster. These guys are often concerned that they run the risk of falling into HeWhoFightsMonsters and become this trope. They also tend to cross the MoralEventHorizon with alarming regularity to the point where it's a question of when they'll cross it, not if.

Usually, the Knight Templar's primary step (or objective) to their perceived "{{utopia|JustifiesTheMeans}}" is to [[TheEvilsOfFreeWill get rid of that pesky "free will" thing that is the cause of crime and evil]]. Many Knight Templar types are [[PayEvilUntoEvil utterly merciless]] in dealing with those whom they consider evil, and are prone to [[AllCrimesAreEqual consider all crimes to be equal]], sometimes down to [[{{Jerkass}} being mean]]. The lightest offences, such as [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking jaywalking]], are met with [[DisproportionateRetribution Draconian punishments such as full imprisonment, death, brainwashing, or torture]]. In some cases, even [[ThoughtCrime thinking about it can get you in trouble]], as can [[PunishedForSympathy showing mercy or pity for a "wrongdoer" in front of them]]. Some are prone to the BreakingSpeech and/or MotiveRant about how the heroes going up against them are evil and they themselves the good guys, often in an attempt to win the heroes over to their side.

It's important to note that despite being villains/villain''ous'' within the context of the story, Knights Templar believe fully that they are on the side of righteousness and that their opponents are not, [[TheFettered and draw strength from that]]. Trying to reason with one seldom works, because many Knight Templar types believe that [[WithUsOrAgainstUs if you're not with them, you're against them]]. Invoking actual goodness and decency against them is often equally ineffective, save for making Knights Templar [[{{Demonization}} demonize]] your cause as evil. Indeed, it may take them a while to [[EvilCannotComprehendGood realize that a person with sense and good will really opposes them]]. One of the more effective ways to change a Knight Templar's mind is to, frankly, kick their ass down to the ground. This is because some think MightMakesRight, and that since they are good they only kill the evil, so if you beat them but don't kill them, you are good too. They won't necessarily join you, but with a little luck, defeating them will make them pause long enough to listen and they may rethink their course -- unless, of course, they conclude they're still ''inherently'' superior, and that you only beat them because you used something evil/cheated.

The Knight Templar can be (but isn't always) the ultimate incarnation of LightIsNotGood. In series where DarkIsNotEvil, they tend to be the villain who believes that the "dark" characters are evil [[VanHelsingHateCrimes and must be destroyed]]. If a Knight Templar [[VillainProtagonist is]] ''[[VillainProtagonist not]]'' [[VillainProtagonist the antagonist of the story]], expect to see WhatTheHellHero and/or NotSoDifferent come into play at least once or sometimes they'll be a HateSink. If not, then they are a DesignatedHero. If they are still nominally good, expect them to be a HeroAntagonist.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while Knights Templar will insist that they're good guys, even though they're practically villains, they often aren't completely ignorant of the pain they cause; they simply consider it to be acceptable collateral damage, or regret the means they "must" use to achieve their ends. And despite their ruthlessness, [[EvenEvilHasStandards they have lines that they refuse to cross]]. If the Knight Templar fails to see ''any'' wrong in their actions, then you're dealing with a variant known as the TautologicalTemplar, who is so convinced that they're doing the right thing that they can't even fathom the idea that anything they do might be questionable or hurting others. It can get to the point where their rebuttal to anyone that tries to [[WhatTheHellHero call them out]] will basically amount to [[InsaneTrollLogic "My actions are good because I]] '''[[InsaneTrollLogic KNOW]]''' [[TautologicalTemplar I am good and can't possibly be bad, and furthermore, you oppose me because you're bad!"]]

Given the real-life trope namers (see below) were a religious organization, many Knights Templar can be found in the ranks of the CorruptChurch, the ChurchMilitant, or the PathOfInspiration. In these cases, expect them to be screaming that they are HolierThanThou and we should all "{{Burn|TheWitch}} TheHeretic!". Even a SaintlyChurch can have one of these as a {{foil}} for the {{Good Shepherd}}s. Some stories go as far as to portray the deity/deities they worship as this.

A Knight Templar in a fantasy setting is usually a PrinciplesZealot, religious or otherwise. In a modern or Sci-Fi setting, the Knight Templar is also just as likely to be a TotalitarianUtilitarian. In either case, they're likely to be a bigot who hardly qualifies as {{noble|Bigot}}, but might be {{troubled|SympatheticBigot}} by their own BlackAndWhiteInsanity. Sometimes, the Knight Templar is [[TheComputerIsYourFriend an artificially intelligent computer]] that took its instructions to "protect humanity" [[ZerothLawRebellion a bit too far]]. Many Templars are LawfulNeutral or LawfulEvil (though they're LawfulGood in their own minds), but the most egomaniacal and self-centered ones are NeutralEvil (though they'll never admit it), and the AnimalWrongsGroup version is ChaoticEvil. Blind devotion to AllCrimesAreEqual without religious zealotry falls under LawfulStupid.

See also KnightTemplarParent, KnightTemplarBigBrother, and LawfulEvil. Those who will ''really'' do anything for their beliefs count among TheUnfettered. A mild, comedic version is the LordErrorProne. Contrast with CardCarryingVillain -- a villain who is fully aware of their evil nature and proudly embraces it. A Knight Templar can become this if they have a HeelRealization and [[IgnoredEpiphany decide to keep being a villain anyway]]. Alternatively, they might turn NecessarilyEvil. Compare and contrast with the KnightInSourArmor, who is what happens when a LawfulGood character [[ToBeLawfulOrGood chooses to err]] on the side of Good instead of erring towards Law.

Also known as the "Keisuke Nago". Compare/contrast KnightErrant. Contrast GoodIsNotNice for when a character is genuinely on the side of good but may rub other characters or the audience the wrong way. ''Not'' related to BloodKnight or BlackKnight.

Not to be confused with TropeNamer UsefulNotes/TheKnightsTemplar, who varied between fitting and defying this trope and were founded with the noble intention of protecting pilgrims from harm. Due to the controversial nature of this trope, the nature of people, and the dangerous ramifications "ends justify the means" thinking can lead to (depending on the people and the cause being championed), NoRealLifeExamplesPlease.
!!Example subpages:

* KnightTemplar/AnimeAndManga
* KnightTemplar/ComicBooks
* KnightTemplar/FanFiction
* KnightTemplar/{{Film}}
* KnightTemplar/{{Literature}}
* KnightTemplar/LiveActionTV
* KnightTemplar/TabletopGames
* KnightTemplar/VideoGames
* KnightTemplar/WebComics
* KnightTemplar/WebOriginal
* KnightTemplar/WesternAnimation



* The leader of revolutionaries in Music/{{Genesis}}' "The Knife", the overall message being that any revolution led by a Knight Templar [[FullCircleRevolution will end in a dictatorship]].
* The title character of "Exciter" by Music/JudasPriest, where he employs a purge by fire version of the trope.
** The mechanical camera from "Electric Eye", who takes a righteous enjoyment out of imposing morality on the populace via [[BigBrotherIsWatching a Big Brother-like watch]].
-->"I'm made of metal, my circuits gleam
-->I am perpetual, I keep the country clean!"
* Music/WithinTemptation's "The Truth Beneath the Rose" describes the point of view of a former Christian extremist [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone seeing the error in his/her ways]].
->"[[UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans I believed it would justify the means]]"
* Music/{{Hammerfall}} are the incarnation of this trope. If a song isn't about literal Templars, it's about LawfulGood heroes deeply believing in HonourBeforeReason.
* The song "Joan" by HeatherDale portrays UsefulNotes/JoanOfArc like this.
* In Music/JethroTull's ''Thick As A Brick'', a Knight Templar-esque character is one of the many Establishment figures critiqued and mocked.
-->"Your bread and water's going cold, your hair's too short and neat.
-->I'll judge you all and make damn sure that no-one judges me!"

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* Wrestling/JimmyJacobs and most of the other Age Of The Fall members by extension. They had a message about the USA's healthcare system and come hell or Wrestling/RingOfHonor they were going to make you listen.

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* The main villains of ''WebAnimation/BrokenSaints'', [[spoiler:Lear and Gabriel]], fall pretty firmly into this territory.

* The Order of Mata Nui from ''Toys/{{Bionicle}}'' is a secret organization, and as such, they do not need to show morals (as nobody would judge their actions) and have no problems doing unethical things, like imprisoning many without giving them a chance at parole and ''experimenting on and modifying a species to use as soldiers'' against the Brotherhood of Makuta (although the race as a whole doesn't have a problem with the changes and continues to aid their mysterious benefactors). To be fair to them, they're [[spoiler:Mata Nui's immune system]] and were specifically created with the intention of doing the deeds the Toa could not without being regarded with fear and suspicion by the rest of the universe.
** Amongst Toa, [[MakingASplash Tuyet]] ended up becoming one of these over time. She eventually got to thinking that Toa could do much more good if they were willing to make "acceptable" sacrifices at times... which led to her murdering several Matoran to keep a special AmuletOfConcentratedAwesome of hers a secret. This led to both Lhikan and Nidhiki (back when he still [[FallenHero had morals]]) teaming up to defeat her and led to her imprisonment by the aforementioned Order.
-->"That's your problem, Lhikan, always following the rules. Always worrying about others. Did you ever think we could do more good if we stopped worrying so much about who might get hurt in the process?"