->''"No. Not even in the face of Armageddon. '''Never compromise.'''"''
-->--'''Rorschach''', ''Comicbook/{{Watchmen}}''

A character who cares too much about their principles, often at the expense of [[HedonismTropes caring about the results of their actions]]. While many characters believe in ideals like [[WillNotTellALie truth]], [[ForScience knowledge]] and [[ByTheBookCop the rule of law]], these folks take it to [[UpToEleven uncomfortable levels]]. May be PlayedForLaughs, or played straight in [[SlidingScaleOfUnavoidableVersusUnforgivable one way]] or [[StrawmanPolitical another]].

A person who WillNotTellALie, for example, crosses over into Principles Zealot when they maintain truthfulness even in the face of horrible consequences that they know could be averted by lying. A hero who will commit any atrocity rather than [[IGaveMyWord break a promise]], even if they were tricked into making it, is a Principles Zealot. Please note that such a Principles Zealot isn't necessarily more ''principled'' than someone who normally WillNotTellALie but can make exceptions in extreme cases. The difference is that the zealot refuses to see the big picture, clinging blindly to the principle and the principle only. (Which has a certain bloody-minded logic: the threat of looming negative consequences could always be a trick or illusion, or there might be an [[TakeAThirdOption escape route]], but once you tell the lie to avoid it, there's a 100% certainty that you are now a liar.)

A Principles Zealot can be a WellIntentionedExtremist, KnightInSourArmor, KnightTemplar, LawfulStupid or even a someone who ended up on the wrong end of [[SlidingScaleOfUnavoidableVersusUnforgivable that Sliding Scale]]. Contrast TotalitarianUtilitarian, who is ''another side'' of these four kinds of fanaticism: While the Principles Zealot cares only about principles, the Totalitarian Utilitarian cares only about results. Note that a fanatic doesn't have to fall into either of those two categories: their fanaticism can be about a ''[[MyCountryRightOrWrong cause]]'' or a ''[[TheFundamentalist belief]]'' instead.

Things can get ''really'' ugly when this character suffers from BlackAndWhiteInsanity.

See also TheDeterminator and TheFettered. Contrast HonorBeforeReason: Principles Zealot is a character type, while Honor Before Reason is a motivation/characterization. Honor Before Reason is explicitly idealistic and heroic, whereas Principles Zealot is an idealistic ''character'', but is on the cynical side of [[SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism that Sliding Scale]].

Administrivia/NoRealLifeExamplesPlease, and no historical examples more recent than a century.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Suzaku Kururugi from ''Anime/CodeGeass'' starts out like this, refusing to support Zero even though it would mean the end of the oppression of the Japanese people, believing results have to come the right way, but [[MotiveDecay slowly drifts away]] from this, finally seeing that results justify the means, and to have thought otherwise was naive and foolish.
** Rather, he realizes that, seeing how many wrongs Lelouch had already committed, the only way to make the world change for the better was to carry his plan out to the end, let humanity move into the future, and change the system by which people would live; at that point, it would have been evil to let the loss of so many lives have been for nothing.
*** Although he does realize (after Schneizel's exploitation of Lelouch's decision to trust him and desire to renew their friendship) that people like Schneizel and the Emperor exploit the law for self-serving reasons.
* Light Yagami of ''Manga/DeathNote'' believes in justice. This belief leads him to kill thousands of people and manipulate everyone around him. Granted, his idea of [[TautologicalTemplar justice]] does shift slightly over time...
* Greed from ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'' claims that he never lies (even to enemies). If this were true then that would mean he would never lie even if it could further his goals, and being the physical incarnation of the sin itself, attaining things like status, sex, money, etc. is very important to him.
** [[spoiler:His first, last, and only lie was to to Ling Yao, telling him that they would fight Father together. [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming Greed lied to get Ling to drop his guard,]] [[HeroicSacrifice so Ling wouldn't be absorbed into Father as well.]]]]
* [[NobleDemon Ira Gamagoori]] from ''Anime/KillLaKill'' is a semi-comedic example. He is willing to give Mako and [[TheHero Ryuko]] a ride to a gas station when their scooter breaks down, and in the next episode refuses to fight Ryuko because their fight does not start for another few hours.
* [[TheProtagonist Yuuji]] [[IWorkAlone Yugami]] from ''Manga/YugamiKunNiWaTomodachiGaInai'' is a comedic example. His stubbornness is always PlayedForLaughs and it's part of the reason his classmates tend to [[LonersAreFreaks avoid him]] -- not that he cares, since he's quite happy without friends anyway and practically [[LeaveMeAlone refuses to make any]].

* Rorschach in ''Comicbook/{{Watchmen}}'' follows this trope consistently. This is probably because he's TheAntiNihilist; he believes that the world has no other meaning than the one we impose upon it. If he abandoned his principles, he'd have nothing. [[spoiler: The page quote is literal. He would rather let the world perish than neglect one of his moral principles just once.]] His reaction to [[spoiler: Ozymandias's plan to save the world is a perfect example. He knows Veidt's new utopia will be a lie built upon a foundation of corpses and cannot let that injustice pass, and thus welcomes death by Dr. Manhattan's hand because he can no longer abide living in a morally bankrupt world where injustice must prevail in order to save lives.]]
** There is however ''one'' time where he could be viewed as straying from his principles. A former criminal, Edgar Jacobi, previously known as Moloch the Mystic, is shown to have Laetrile tablets (fraudulent cancer 'medicine' illegal in the US because it contains cyanide) in his house. When Rorschach presses him, Jacobi admits to having terminal cancer and using them because he's willing to try anything. Rorschach, having taken down the name of the manufacturer, let the offense slide.
** Before he became Rorschach, Walter Kovacs seemed to be able to see shades of grey...as shown in his belief that it was right to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki because the deaths of those people would effectively stop the deaths of many, many more should the World War II instead continue; this is in direct contrast to the exact same situation that Rorschach finds himself in once [[spoiler: Ozy's]] plot is discovered.
* ''ComicBook/JudgeDredd'' is in many ways a parody of this, with Judge Death as a parody of the parody. While Judge Dredd is a KnightTemplar ByTheBookCop and Judge Death an OmnicidalManiac HangingJudge, they are still the same kind of Principles Zealot. And this is what makes them NotSoDifferent.
* Mo from ''DykesToWatchOutFor'' often borders on this (as - ironically - does neoconservative Cynthia in the final years of that strip). Mo's lover-to-be Sydney invokes it early in their courting:
--> '''Mo:''' ''What'' do your "sources" tell you?
--> '''Sydney:''' Oh, just that neither Lois nor your friend Clarice are speaking to you because you're such a rigid, self-righteous prig.
--> '''Mo:''' Is that right? Well, if I had a superiority complex the size of yours, I wouldn't throw stones.
--> '''Sydney''' Sounds like my sources were right.
--> '''Mo:''' Sydney, if you don't like my personality, feel free to go pester someone else.
--> '''Sydney:''' But that's just it! I ''do'' like your personality, Mo! I admire you for putting principles before people-pleasing.
--> '''Mo:''' Well! As long as ''you'' admire me, what do I need with friends?

* Nicholas Angel, the hero in ''Film/HotFuzz'', takes ByTheBookCop to zealot [[PlayedForLaughs levels]]. [[CharacterDevelopment He gets better.]]
* Batman, in ''Film/TheDarkKnight'', would rather veer off and crash his bike, leaving himself vulnerable to the Joker, than simply running the Joker over and ending the whole fiasco. Even though the Joker is unloading machine-gun fire into random motorists at the time Batman still will not kill him.
** WebAnimation/HowItShouldHaveEnded has him solve this problem by hitting the Joker ''without'' killing him.
* [[BigBad Harry]] from ''Film/InBruges'' snarls that if he ever killed a child, he would stick his gun in his mouth and pull the trigger then and there. [[spoiler: At the end of the film, when he believes he ''has'' shot a kid, he follows through on his claim.]]
* Walter Sobchak in ''Film/TheBigLebowski''. He is so thoroughly principled that he converted to Judaism for his wife and refuses to abandon it even after their divorce.
--> '''Walter:''' Saturday, Donny, is Shabbos, the Jewish day of rest. That means that I don't work, I don't drive a car, I don't fucking ride in a car, I don't handle money, I don't turn on the oven, and I sure as shit ''don't fucking roll''!
* In ''Film/ManOfSteel'', Pa Kent took keeping young Clark's identity a secret very, ''very'' seriously, to the point of [[spoiler:willingly letting himself die to protect it]].

* Galad Damodred in ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' is described as someone who "always does what's right, no matter who it hurts," which also indicates a very peculiar idea of what constitutes "right." He does, though, very specifically and ''especially'' include himself in "no matter who."
** Doing the right thing doesn't always mean doing the nice thing. GoodIsNotNice, remember, and often, BeingGoodSucks.
* Stannis Baratheorn from ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire''. His dedication to his principles as a goal in itself approaches levels of TheUnfettered, but the chapters seen from Davos' point of view also shows that Stannis himself is conflicted by this.
* In the Literature/{{Xanth}} novel Man from Mundania, Grey Murphy is so Lawful that he feels obligated to honor the promise his father, the [[spoiler: exiled Evil Magician Murphy that previously attempted to conquer Xanth]] made to the evil Com Pewter, a machine which wanted a human to aid in its world conquest plans. He only escapes by finding an overriding law concerning [[spoiler: taking the place of Humphry, Magician of Information, service to whom overrides any and all prior obligation.]]
* [[Literature/VorkosiganSaga Miles]] and Duv Galeni discuss this while being held captive by Duv's [[YourTerroristsAreOurFreedomFighters Komarran-rebel father]]. Miles mentions how his mother has always argued that one should put people before principles, and Duv observes that his father has always been a very principled man.
* The Knights of the Cross in ''[[Literature/TheDresdenFiles]]'' are a lighter example of this: they have principles and beliefs from which they will not (and cannot) stray. If one of their most hated enemies repents, falsely or not, then they must accept that as a form of redemption and stop all hostile activities, something that almost infuriates Harry, whose moral compass is much more malleable. That being said, the code of the Knights of the Cross is vague and open to interpretation: as long as they are doing God's work, He doesn't seem to mind ''how'' they do it: Sanya's preferred weapon is not his sword, but rather an assault rifle.

* In ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'', Seven of Nine has this attitude to her [[BlueAndOrangeMorality ideals of perfection]]. Janeway also drifts into this territory sometimes, when it's ''her'' principles that are at stake.
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' has an episode where Captain Picard (and thus his crew) chose to let an entire civilization die, one that they could easily have saved. They commit this genocide-through-inaction for the simple reason that [[{{Alien Non-Interference Clause}} the rules say so]]. Of course, it doesn't take long before a sympathetic civilian TheProfessor character goes all WhatTheHellHero on them.
** Specifically, he could easily have saved ''some'' of the planets inhabitants, there was no way to save all of them. It's almost certainly impossible to transplant a civilization without destroying it, so the question is whether you let all of them die or let most of them die. In this case, when one of the people who were illegally and unknowingly rescued discovers what had happened, the implications of everything they had left behind and lost drove him to suicide (presumably at least some others in their culture would have responded similarly).
* Not to be outdone, in ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'', Archer actually does let an entire civilization die slowly and painfully from a disease while they've spent the entire episode begging him for help, due to a specific set of principles [[InsaneTrollLogic that don't even exist yet and wouldn't apply to this specific civilization even if they did.]]
* In ''Series/{{JAG}}'', [[Characters/{{JAG}} Harmon Rabb]] defends Rear Admiral Thomas Boone (played by TerryOQuinn) who is accused of [[UsefulNotes/TheLawsAndCustomsOfWar war crimes]] during TheVietnamWar. While the old officer doesn't plead guilty, he does nothing to defend himself or help the defense. It turns out that he is innocent but believes that no matter the cost he can never break a vow of silence once it's given.
* Chris and Victoria Argent on ''Series/TeenWolf'' qualify, due to their FantasticRacism and TheHunter thing. After being [[spoiler: infected with lycanthropy, Victoria commits suicide, with Chris' help, even though they know that werewolves can learn to control their condition and they have the resources to keep one contained until that can be accomplished. The emotional trauma this is guaranteed to cause their daughter is secondary to their adherence to Hunter rules]].

* ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'' has Elesh Norn, praetor of the white Phyrexian faction. Strangely, she gets along well with the TotalitarianUtilitarian blue praetor, Jin-Gitaxias.
* Pretty much every single "good" member of the [[{{TabletopGame/Warhammer40000}} Imperium of Man]] that isn't a direct member of the local ChurchMilitant should be like this. Especially the soldiers and doubly so for the [[ThePoliticalOfficer Commissars]]. It's to the point that if you disobey an order but win a battle, where obeying an order would lose the entire war, you will be ''court-martialed and executed''. During active combat, so much as ''suggesting an alternate route'' could be, at officer's discretion, punishable by death.
* In some editions of TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons, paladins and members of extreme alignments are like this or can be like this.

* VideoGame/PlanescapeTorment gives us Vhailor, a Mercykiller avatar of Justice. Even death didn't slow him down- he didn't even notice his, but continued his work as he possessed his old battle armour. Not even the protagonist is safe from his swift justice if he happens to realize who the Nameless One is...
* If Shirou follows this, it can lead to an infamous bad end in the ''Heaven's Feel'' route of ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight''.
* The [[ProudWarriorRace Qunari]] of ''Franchise/DragonAge''. Whilst there are exiles who do not follow their code, those that adhere to the Qun will ''never'' compromise if the "demands of the Qun" aren't met. Sten can never return home without his sword, as he will be killed on sight for having lost it.
* ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'' has several examples. Katojen submits to the Qun despite its consequences for him, and regardless of Hawkes' actions, [[spoiler: willingly chooses death]]. An Arvaarad attempts to kill you even if you have his respect [[spoiler: because you ''may'' be "corrupted"]]. The Arishok will not leave without [[spoiler: the relic ''and'' Isabela]] despite your willingness to let it all end peacefully. [[spoiler: He and his men will leave peacefully if you hand said party member over.]]
--> '''[[PlayerCharacter Hawke]]:''' I see a man who's willing to start a war on principle.
--> '''[[DuelBoss The Arishok]]:''' And what would the Qunari be without principle? [[WorthyOpponent You, I suspect.]]
** The Qun itself seems to encourage this - one is assigned a role at birth, and this is all they may do, because, by choosing to be born, they have chosen this life. A farmer will still be a farmer, even if he attempts to become a warrior.
** In their own way, even the Tal'Vashoth, the qunari exiles, seem to find ways to adhere to the tenants of the Qun. They are told that those who have left the Qun become mercenaries and murderers, and that is what they do, because that is all that they know to do when they refuse their place in qunari society.
--> '''Sister Petrice:''' Qunari. Even their rebels conform.
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'', the Corel prison warden, while nominally a regular guy, absolutely refuses to let the party leave, even to plead their innocence. More to the point, he refuses to let them go even when [[ScaryBlackMan Barret]] is waving a [[MoreDakka gatling gun]] in his face, valuing enforcing his prison rules ''more than his own life.''
* The entire mainstream Brotherhood of Steel degenerates into this in {{VideoGame/Fallout}}. They keep on getting more and more obsessed with keeping to the Codex as more and more schismatics splinters off from the mainstream thanks to the increasing insanity of trying to keep to all the rules. This is worsened by the fact that there is significant evidence that the Codex ''has'' been altered... to be more strict (for those that wonder why this is here and not under HonorBeforeReason, the Codex, at least by New Vegas, includes parts about ''not'' helping outsiders, which is hardly heroic or idealistic), even as hiding in bunkers and keeping all pre-War tech to themselves becomes increasingly less of an option. Even though Nolan [=McNamara=], the elder of the Mojave chapter is quite aware that the Brotherhood is actively stagnating he will not break the followings of the Codex, though if the Brotherhood form a truce with the NCR and helps them win, they'll at least agree to patrol the roads (otherwise if the NCR are not around, they take the opportunity to try and harass travelers for tech).
** The Brotherhood have *always* been highly xenophobic and all about hoarding technology. In Fallout 1 they were so close to becoming total zealots that the assassination of just one of their leaders, Rhombus, leads to them becoming the Steel Plague, fanatics who actively hunt down anyone else with advanced technology and usher in an even darker age. Only the Chicago and Washington D.C. Brotherhoods have ever truly diverged from rigid adherence to the Codex, mainly due to being cut off from the central leadership..

[[folder:{{Web Original}}]]
* Lingur, from the ''Literature/SporewikiFictionUniverse'' is this. He is so dedicated to his principles that other people have been seen to talk for him at military meetings, despite him being the head of his empire's military, because if he were allowed to speak he might call another attendee evil. In fact, his love interest Callanni partially exists as a plot device when the plot requires him to do something he normally wouldn't. She is the only one he's been seen to listen to on such issues.
** Though Lingur is the only commonly featured example, it is implied that virtually all Aeoneonatrix are like this.

[[folder:{{Western Animation}}]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'' has the Earl of Lemongrab who, while not evil (just a huge jerk), definitely qualifies for this trope. All Lemongrab wants is a clean, quiet, orderly kingdom. He tries to achieve this mild goal by screaming at everybody, terrorizing the candy people, and sending folks to the dungeon at the slightest provocation.
* ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'': Parodied with the Clock King, whose BlueAndOrangeMorality make him a [[TheFundamentalist fundamentalist]] ScheduleFanatic willing to [[FelonyMisdemeanor kill someone for something worse than a crime]]: making him late.
* In one episode of ''WesternAnimation/SpongebobSquarepants'', Mrs. Puff has a flashback to the unfortunate day that she met Spongebob. She's just opening her new boating school and gives her word that she will accept ANY student and never give up on them. Cue Spongebob's arrival. In a later episode, the entire plot revolves around Mrs Puff's increasingly blatant desire and attempts to get Spongebob KILLED in a destruction derby accident. She would sooner COMMIT MURDER than go back on her word and just kick him out of the school.

* ''[[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4a/Lastseefather.jpg And When Did You Last See Your Father?]]'' was, at one time, an extremely popular painting in England. It dramatizes a scene in the EnglishCivilWar where a man is hiding from the opposing army, and is about to be exposed by his little son's [[WillNotTellALie insistence on telling the complete truth]] [[LawfulStupid at all times.]]
* Immanuel Kant advocated this sort of worldview-that one ought to determine the right tenets and stick to them in all circumstances, even if the whole world, all authority, and their loved ones begged them to give in-to never deviate from what's Right, even if it would mean the loss of one's life. He carried this to the extreme of "don't lie to the killer at the door", as demonstrated above in the painting, though he did allow that remaining silent was acceptable. In his own life, he gave [[ExactWords misleading answers]] (a promise to cease publishing material deemed anti-Christian as ordered by his king, which he held applied only while said monarch was living, not after, when he promptly went back to doing it).