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->''"In certain extreme situations, the law is inadequate. In order to shame its inadequacy, it is necessary to act outside the law."''
-->-- '''Frank Castle''', ''Film/ThePunisher2004''

The Vigilante Man is a man who brings criminals to justice by any means necessary, even if it means killing the criminals outright. Although he is breaking the law, he is presented as the good guy. If the police are after him, expect them to secretly sympathize with his goals. Occasionally, [[InspectorJavert one officer]] is determined to catch the Vigilante Man, but you can be sure that his fellow officers aren't working very hard to help him. The "good" Vigilante Man [[WouldNotShootAGoodGuy refuses to fight the police, and if confronted, will either surrender or die before harming them]], and may even try to [[ThouShaltNotKill keep the killing off of villains to zero whenever possible]]. The "bad" Vigilante Man is [[TheUnfettered willing to kill anyone who tries to stop him]].

The people the Vigilante Man is after are always guilty - or at least, in his mind, especially if he's the villain.

Most Vigilantes will (try to) not hurt an InnocentBystander; [[NeverHurtAnInnocent he will often go out of his way to avoid killing them, if possible]]. In the rare times they do, it is only to provide some {{Wangst}} as the Vigilante Man wonders if he is doing the right thing. Expect a FingerInTheMail to show up and convince the Vigilante Man that his job of catching the AxCrazy PsychopathicManchild and saving [[ChildrenAreInnocent the child]] held captive makes it worth it.

The Vigilante Man's favorite method of execution is (obviously) the VigilanteExecution. If he's also a police officer, this makes him a vigilante-driven version of the KillerCop. A cop whose method towards disposing criminals is just as final but who does operate within the law goes under JudgeJuryAndExecutioner.

A subtrope of the AntiHero and WellIntentionedExtremist. May be NeutralGood, TrueNeutral, NeutralEvil, ChaoticGood, ChaoticNeutral or even ChaoticEvil, [[SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism depending on setting]]. If he stops discriminating between innocents and bad guys, he might end up JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope and [[HeWhoFightsMonsters become that which he despises]]. Sometimes he can be a ReformedButNotTamed character.

See also SerialKillerKiller. The AssholeVictim is often this guy's target, as is someone who (deservedly or not) is ConvictedByPublicOpinion.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* The SociopathicHero of the manga ''Manga/{{Akumetsu}}'' is one of these, although rather than just targeting criminals, he goes after anyone he considers bringing evil to Japan. Disturbingly, although the stories have a forward stating that the character [[MisaimedFandom should not be considered a role model]], his frequent [[CharacterFilibuster rants on what's wrong with Japanese society]] give an impression [[AuthorTract otherwise]].
* ''Manga/BlackClover'': [[spoiler:Zora, the mysterious and AmbiguouslyEvil member of Asta's team during the Royal Knights Tournament turns out to be one. After his father was killed by elitist Magic Knights and he witnessed the {{Nominal Hero}}ism of the Magic Knights, he started going around attacking the ones that committed crimes. The man he is introduced attacking was actually about to attack an old lady who bothered him by asking help to find her granddaughter and Zora defended her]].
* Lelouch in ''Anime/CodeGeass'', in creating the terrorist group the Black Knights, is trying to overthrow Brittania's racist, SocialDarwinist regime, so as to create his sister Nunnally's longed-for "beautiful world."
* Light Yagami, the VillainProtagonist of ''Manga/DeathNote''. Death is the only punishment he ''can'' dish out. Early on, he states that he's going to create a world filled with only good-hearted people he approves of. He's simply going to ''start'' with the criminals... and he quickly crosses over into "bad" vigilante man territory, when in the second chapter he [[JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope leaps off the slippery slope]] and begins to target and kill all those who oppose Kira, including law-enforcement officials. With the exception of his family and officials he considers useful enough, he is very ruthless when dealing with his opponents.
* [[spoiler:Jellal]] becomes this in ''Manga/FairyTail'', forming a small independent guild that hunts down dark guilds, something the Council doesn't allow of the guilds in its jurisdiction, as it counts as illegal warring between guilds.
* In ''Manga/FutureDiary'', the Twelfth is a vigilante whose heart seems to be in the right place: his goal is usually just to ''capture'' criminals to help the police, not kill them outright. However, he dresses and acts so creepily that the people he's trying to help often beat him up or arrest him. [[spoiler:Then he gets involved in the Diary Game and starts killing with no remorse, since he feels that "Justice" is on his side.]]
** [[spoiler:In the third dimension, he manages to be far more competent and sane. He gets the Third arrested but also keeps visiting him in prison in an attempt to help him rehabilitate and eventually rejoin society]].
* In ''Franchise/GhostInTheShell'', Section 9 is frequently doing some work "off the record". But [[CrapsackWorld unlike most other law enforcement agencies]], they don't do it for their own gain.
* Kyouya Hibari from ''Manga/KatekyoHitmanReborn''. He rules Nanimori with an iron fist and does whatever he pleases since people are too afraid to call him out on it, but god help you if you so much as look at his hometown the wrong way.
* In ''Anime/RomeoXJuliet'', Juliet starts out disguising herself as one of these, nicknamed "The Red Tornado".
* The ''Manga/SamuraiGun'' exist to avenge the evils of the Shogunate, though in practise this means avenging the deaths of [[{{Fanservice}} large-breasted women]].
* Lunatic in ''Anime/TigerAndBunny''. As opposed to Heroes who take part in [=HeroTV=] who only seek to arrest criminals, Lunatic actually ''[[VigilanteExecution kills]]'' them. Though he tends to save this for people who REALLY deserve it.
* Tista from the ''Manga/{{Tista}}'' manga would probably constitute as a female example of this. She is an assassin who kills immoral people who the law cannot catch.
* ''Manga/TriageX'' follows an entire team of medically-themed vigilantes who kill gang leaders, mob bosses, and other menaces to society.
* ''Anime/RageOfBahamutGenesis'' has former straight-up villain [[FallenAngel Azazel]] become a vigilante known as the "rag demon" in the second season, ''Virgin Soul''. In this guise, he stalks and murders humans who abuse his fellow demons.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''ComicBook/{{Batman}}'':
** Batman himself isn't really a cozy guy, but in his earliest comics, he was a straight-up murderer. The Golden Age Batman is legendary for using guns on criminals, letting crooks drop to a painful death in a vat of acid and a lot more.
** Jason Todd became one of these after coming BackFromTheDead, criticizing Batman for being too "soft" on criminals and wanting more than anything to kill the Joker.
* The Crimson Avenger, who also has the honor of being (disputably) Franchise/TheDCU's first masked superhero.
* The ComicBook/{{Huntress}} became a vigilante after her family was murdered by rival mafiosi.
* The Paladin, who appeared in a ''ComicBook/JusticeLeagueOfAmerica'' story where Anansi was changing all the heroes' stories, is an alternate Bruce Wayne who picked up Joe Chill's gun while he was running off, and shot him. He became a gun-toting vigilante in a cowboy hat, whose story (until Vixen interferes) ends with him and Commissioner Gordon in a MexicanStandoff.
* The federal prosecutor Kate Spencer, who became the vigilante assassin Comicbook/{{Manhunter}} after she got tired of criminals dodging legal justice.
* In ''ComicBook/TheQuestion'', the Mikado was a physician who started inflicting KarmicJustice on those who caused the pain he saw every day in the ER. A man who scalded his newborn baby was boiled alive, for example.
* ''ComicBook/{{Superman}}'' was this [[EarlyInstallmentWeirdness in his earliest appearances]]. For starters, he demolished an ''entire'' housing estate and left the city to deal with the damage themselves, he trapped a bunch of socialites in a mine where air was limited, he threw villains to their ''deaths'', he left criminals hogtied in the middle of nowhere and actually scared more than one mook to death.
* Creator/DCComics' Adrian Chase--a district attorney, and later judge, who hunted down and killed crooks who got off--was named simply The Vigilante, though Chase eventually became a {{Deconstruction}} of vigilante justice, and ended up committing suicide due to his guilt over the increasing violence of his methods and actions.
* Wild Dog is a largely unknown vigilante. He's basically per his creator Max Allan Collins in Amazing Heroes#119, a modern version of the Shadow, Zorro, the Lone Ranger, and the Green Hornet.

* Victor Ray from ''ComicBook/OneHundredBullets'' kills criminals in his spare time to balance out the awful things he does on behalf of Agent Graves
* John Dusk, the protagonist of ''ComicBook/{{Absolution}}''. He's a superhero in a setting where the superheroes are all legitimate law enforcement officers, which means they have to observe due process and other pesky legal restrictions. One day, he gets fed up with having his hands tied, and starts killing.
* The Blue Knight in ''ComicBook/AstroCity''.
* Eric Draven in ''Film/TheCrow''. Although, since he's already died and has resurrected as an unkillable zombie, he's technically a Vigilante ''Thing''.
* John Tensen from ComicBook/TheNewUniverse title ''Justice''. In early issues, when he thinks he's a warrior from a MagicalLand, he goes after criminals in general. After a {{Retcon}} reveals that he's actually a paranormal, he devotes himself to policing his brethren, punishing the ones who use their powers for evil.
* ''ComicBook/PaperinikNewAdventures'': In the early stories, Paperinik (WesternAnimation/DonaldDuck's superhero alter ego in some Italian stories) was not actually a superhero, but an anti-hero vindicator inspired by Diabolik and Fantômas that punish bad people with terror and humiliations. The writers toned this aspect down later and turned him into a Batman-style heroic avenger instead, and he started targeting the criminal population of Duckburg, in particular the Beagle Boys.
* Comicbook/ThePunisher (Frank Castle) is a vigilante and AntiHero in the MarvelUniverse.
* Find a hero who '''doesn't''' fit this trope in ''Comicbook/SinCity''.
* Casey Jones from the original ''[[Comicbook/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtlesMirage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles]]'' comics.
* V from ''ComicBook/VForVendetta''. While throughout the series he's seen as more of a... vengeful terrorist, he does show some (although few) signs that he started out as one of these and simply got tired of not making progress.
* ''ComicBook/{{Watchmen}}'':
** Rorschach is a {{deconstruction}} of this trope, as well as the AntiHero in general. He is not presented as a good person and the police disdain him -- in fact, they hate him almost as much as the criminals do.
* ''ComicBook/JudgeDredd'': Naturally, as a brutal ByTheBookCop, Judge Dredd will crack down hard on vigilantes in Mega-City One who think they should "assist" the Justice Department in its duties. They're not the law, HE is the law.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* The [[AppropriatedAppellation Archer]] in ''Fanfic/PathOfTheKing'' is one of these.
* In the Literature/{{Worm}} x Videogame/{{Dishonored}} crossover fanfic, ''FanFic/AChangeOfPace'', Taylor serves as this by virtue of being an independent hero, not being affiliated with the PRT. There are measures she can take because of how the setting works, but more than half walk because they can't make official arrests.
* Master/Traveller from the Videogame/FreedomPlanet fanfic Fanfic/FreedomDiesWithMe is this, across the multiverse no less, to atone for his past atrocities. He is even labeled a 'Multiverse Vigilante' by multiple characters and himself, with hints that his kind are so well-known that even Torque's people have heard of them (and that there are enough of them to be considered a 'kind' in the first place).
* In ''Fanfic/RanmaSaotomeChiMaster'', Ranma's guru spends much of her time tackling crime in Hong Kong, using lethal force if necessary. During the time he lived with her, Ranma aided her in her activities.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{TMNT}}'', Raphael becomes the Nightwatcher while Leonardo is in South America. TMNT being a kids' movie, Raph doesn't kill anybody, but he doles out some major beatings to all criminals he comes across.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* The "vigilante hero" subgenre became an staple of action movies roughly between the 1970s and the very early 1990s mainly as rising crime rates and increasing police corruption (and racism in the case of blaxploitation films) led people to lose faith in the long arm of the law and act for themselves instead.
* The ''Film/DeathWish'' movies. Paul Kersey becomes a vigilante after his wife is murdered and his daughter is sexually assaulted by muggers. Also an UnbuiltTrope as the film pioneered the urban vigilante concept, but it also showed how dangerous it would be. By the time of ''Film/DeathWish3'', Kersey is infamous for harrying the police, who are powerless to pin any charges on him (but are happy to take credit for his crime-fighting accomplishments). Police Chief Richard [[PunnyName Shirker]] tries to contain him, but ends up joining the fray when Kersey is ambushed by gangsters.
-->'''Kersey:''' ''You'' stuck your neck out for ''me''?\\
'''Shirker:''' ''(dying)'' It was [[BlackAndGrayMorality you or them]].
* ''Contract on Cherry Street'' (1977) has Music/FrankSinatra as the leader of a team of NYPD detectives who turn vigilante on TheMafia after one of them is killed.
* ''Film/TheStarChamber'' (1983) is about a judge who decides to join a secret 'court' of judges who hire a contract killer to carry out their 'sentences' of accused criminals in death penalty cases who get OffOnATechnicality. However when two drug dealers are judged guilty of a child murder, then later turn out to be innocent of that particular crime, the protagonist finds himself in a dilemma.
* ''Film/SavageStreets'' (1984) has Linda Blair as a tough high school girl who turns vigilante after a vicious gang called the Scars rape her deaf-mute sister and murder her best friend.
* Joey Rosso from ''Film/RollingVengeance'' (1987). His weapon of choice happens to be a Monster Truck.
* Some of the ''Film/DirtyHarry'' films feature vigilantes:
** In ''Film/MagnumForce'', Dirty Harry finds he is actually on the opposite side of some vigilante men. It might be considered impossible that he would object, but when the vigilante men kill a police officer, [[MotiveDecay we can guess even Harry figures they went too far]]. This movie actually explains the difference between CowboyCop (Harry) and Vigilante Man (the vigilante policemen). Dirty Harry uses excessive force when fighting criminals who forcefully resist arrest or directly endanger innocents (his iconic ''do I feel lucky?'' speech actually taunts the criminals to give him reason to use lethal force). He doesn't hunt and kill unsuspecting criminals (when Scorpio is released on a technicality, Harry tries to scare him; when Ricca is acquitted on legal loophole, vigilante cops immediately kill him, his lawyer and even his driver).
** In ''Film/SuddenImpact'': Jennifer Spencer tracks down and murders the people responsible for brutally gang raping her several years before. Oddly enough, Dirty Harry doesn't arrest her once he discovers the truth, a significant change from his actions and attitude in ''Film/MagnumForce''.
* The ''Film/{{Batman}}'' movies by Tim Burton took this to a new extreme. While Batman normally acted like your average grim and gritty crime-fighter, he had no problems with killing over 20 people in the first movie. For example, he lit a couple of mooks on fire, he killed several mooks with his ''not''-rubber bullets and used a handgun in the NES game based on the film.
** Much like the Tim Burton Batman, ''Film/BatmanVSupermanDawnOfJustice'' also features a Batman that kills criminals without batting an eye. He uses guns with no hesitation, runs over mooks with his batmobile, and brands criminals he deems particularly reprehensible, resulting in them getting killed in prison. He also wants to flat out ''murder'' Superman because he thinks Superman is a threat to the planet.
* Inverted in the Western movie ''Film/HangEmHigh''. Creator/ClintEastwood is the innocent victim of vigilantes who mistake him for a murderer/cattle thief (he unknowingly bought the cattle off the real killer). He then becomes a deputy to bring them to justice, and must resist pressure both situational and personal to take the law into his own hands.
* ''Film/BillyJack'' is one of the strangest ones, a Liberal Vigilante Man.
* Creator/JodieFoster in ''Film/TheBraveOne'' plays a liberal, ''female'' vigilante, in a meditation on the paranoia and isolation the life of the Vigilante Man (or Woman) would entail, especially if they used to be a "normal" person. Interesting callback to the first ''Film/DeathWish'' in her chosen method too.
* In ''Pyrokinesis'', the protagonist is a female example, killing criminals with the title [[PlayingWithFire psychic power]]. She manages to stay a good guy despite fighting against the police, because [[spoiler: the chief of police is also the head of the snuff ring she's been targeting.]]
* The Sally Field movie ''Film/EyeForAnEye'' has Field's character lose her daughter to a serial killer, and stumble onto a conspiracy of Vigilante Men at a support group. They have very specific requirements: They only target killers whose guilt is obvious yet get OffOnATechnicality, and they won't make the kill for someone else. Instead, they teach newcomers how to make the hit themselves. Something of a strawman case; [[spoiler:the FBI has recognized a pattern of suspicious deaths among acquitted killers and has planted spies in support groups to ''protect those killers.'' Fields discovers the spy in time to keep from incriminating herself seriously, but the agent still threatens Fields with life in prison despite being fully aware that the killer she's after has killed again. Ultimately, the FBI is powerless to protect the killer, as Field pulls off the conspiracy's plan ''perfectly'' - make herself the killer's next target, then kill him in self-defense.]]
* ''Film/HardCandy'': Hayley may qualify as one due to her crusade against pedophile rapists. That or she may be a budding SerialKiller.
* In ''Film/ManOnFire'', John Creasy takes it upon himself to track down and kill the people responsible for kidnapping and murdering a girl while he was working for her family as a bodyguard.
* In the movie ''Film/PunisherWarZone'', the "victims are always guilty" rule was notably averted: near the beginning of the movie, he discovers that one of the people he killed was actually an undercover FBI agent with a family. He feels so guilty about it that he offers the agent's widow a bag full of mafia money, as well as the chance to shoot him.
* The titular ''John Doe: Vigilante''. True to form, his victims are all [[AssholeVictim Asshole Victims]]--child molesters, abusive husbands, culminating in the guy who killed his wife and daughter.
* In ''Film/MurdersAmongUs'', Hans Mertens [[spoiler:almost becomes this, but instead decides not to kill Bruckner at the insistence of Suzanne]].
* Vigilantism is attacked in the 1943 western ''Film/TheOxBowIncident'', wherein three obviously innocent men are persecuted and ultimately murdered by a [[TorchesAndPitchforks lynch mob]].
* Seemingly deconstructed in ''Film/LawAbidingCitizen'', with Clyde Shelton JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope. On the other hand, it also seems to portray the criminal justice system as ineffectual.
* {{Deconstructed|Trope}} with Keller Dover in ''Film/{{Prisoners}}'', who nails and brutally tortures the wrong man for kidnapping his daughter.
%%* ''Film/TheBoondockSaints''. Especially in the courtroom climax.
%%* Preacher in the movie ''Film/PaleRider''.
* The Michael Caine movie ''Film/HarryBrown'' is about an elderly veteran who decides to take justice into his own hands once his friend is murdered by the local thugs.
%%* Jigsaw, Amanda and Hoffman in ''Franchise/{{Saw}}'' are a twisted, ''twisted'' version of this.
%%* The Hobo in ''Film/HoboWithAShotgun.''

* [[spoiler:Justice Wargrave]] from ''Literature/AndThenThereWereNone''. [[spoiler:Although he lacks the physical prowess of a typical Vigilante Man, the idea is the same: kill people who have escaped legal justice.]]
** Also, in ''Literature/{{Curtain}}'', [[spoiler:Literature/HerculePoirot sees himself as this when he has to kill Stephen Norton, the serial killer who committed murders-by-proxy and got away with them without getting caught.]]
* Mack Bolan, the protagonist of ''Literature/TheExecutioner'' series of novels, started out as this. The series eventually had him join the government, in a black ops organization. He did have a [[HeroicBSOD moral dilemma breakdown]] during one mission in China however, when he was forced to strangle a 14-year-old girl to death because she was a gun-toting fanatic. From that novel onwards he's one of the more restrained members of the Stony Man Farm.
* The success of the [[Literature/TheExecutioner Executioner]] series spawned a number of [[FollowTheLeader knock-off novel series]] all with essentially the same plot (organised crime kills the protagonist's family causing him to become a one-man army on a RoaringRampageOfRevenge). These series included:
** ''The Assassin''
** ''The Butcher''
** ''The Marksman''
** ''The Sharpshooter''
* The Veteran: James Vansittart deliberately makes sure the killers are released so rogue members of the Metropolitan Police Service can strangle them to death. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Veteran]], [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Veteran_(short_story_collection)]]
* The nameless cabal in ''Already Dead'' doesn't kill their targets themselves. Instead (for a hefty fee), they offer to hunt down the person who committed the crime and turn him over to the victim -- complete with a very large table full of things like drills, knives, hammers, and blowtorches.
* Kyle Youngblood in the ''Dr. Death'' series of novels winds up living up to his name to his friends and family as well as his enemies, as their retribution drags them into the crossfire often. The only friend he has who never dies is Rafe, the one who accompanies him personally on missions. Everyone else? They're gonna get snapped, gunned down, or exploded sooner or later. Interestingly, he prefers to use traps whenever possible as opposed to charging in guns blazing. The mercenary known only as "Big Cherry" (due to his eye having been gouged out, and refusing treatment or a covering due to the badass points it gives him), plays the trope straighter despite being a designated antagonist. He'll take out [[EvenEvilHasStandards those he finds unpalatable]] on the way to his intended targets. Kyle usually kills his bosses, causing Cherry to once more swear revenge.
* Literature/TheSaint is a GentlemanAdventurer version who does his vigilante thing not because of any specific need for vengeance, but because he enjoys the challenge of defeating people who believe they are untouchable. In the earlier novels, he was much more likely to kill the villain of the piece; later stories saw this toned down, and by the time the stories were no longer being written solely by Leslie Charteris, it had virtually vanished. Every so often he would remember his 'bad old days' and choose to extract fatal vengeance on someone the law couldn't touch.
* Literature/TheSpider, Radio/TheShadow, and numerous literary adventurers of the pre-World War II era fit this trope. In fact, these personages adopted secret identities due to the fact that they knew that the police would arrest them for their sudden justice. Other than Doc Savage (who didn't kill his opponents except when it was completely unavoidable -- he just shipped them off to be lobotomized or the equivalent) and the 1939 introduced Literature/TheAvenger, relatively few of the serial magazine protagonists of this era worked with the open approval and admiration of the police.
* Creator/TomClancy dipped into this genre with ''[[Literature/JackRyan Without Remorse]]'', which probably owes some inspiration to ''Comicbook/ThePunisher''. Deconstructed in that the protagonist himself is a little worried by his own lack of guilt over some [[ColdBloodedTorture pretty unpleasant methods of questioning]], even on an unrepentant monster.
* The Bluejay, also known as [[spoiler: Mortimer Folchart]] in ''Literature/TheInkworldTrilogy'' shows shades of this, particularly in the third book.
* Vigilante man? Try vigilante GENERAL!!! [[http://tcrane.tripod.com/johnstn.html Ben Raines of the Ashes series]] by [[http://www.williamjohnstone.net/Ashes.html William Johnstone]]. Imagine if the Punisher saved America by being the post-apocalyptic George Washington. Imagine the rest of the world is made of alternately criminal drug-running dictators or tree-hugging communist hippies. And now imagine he's just been elected president. And you still only have a TENTH of the insanity of this world. Raines does such downright crazy and morally black shit sometimes that not even [[TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}} The Emperor]] would approve of (like blitzing a city of war orphans being brainwashed into child soldiers just so it won't cost him a single Red-White-And-Blue-Blooded American life, or monologuing about how children who grow up in slums can never know what the good life is to reporters, then gunning them down on live television). Essentially, he commits vast atrocities on par or above standard CrapsackWorld characters simply because he is as risk-averse as a cuddly soccer mom. A cuddly soccer mom with nuclear arms, miles of artillery shells, and a fetish for napalm and fuel bombs. Small wonder anybody with any semblance of religious leaning considers him the Antichrist. (A lot of it scarily justified through 'sins of the father/brother/sister/mother' arguments.)
* In Ian [=McEwan=]'s novella ''Black Dogs'', the narrator becomes a Good Vigilante Man after he sees a man in a restaurant ''smack his kid across the face so hard the kid's chair is knocked over backwards and cracks on the floor.'' The narrator challenges the man to "fight someone his own size" and then manages to break the guy's nose and knock him out with a few punches. He is called off by a waitress and stops him just before he becomes HeWhoFightsMonsters and kicks the guy to death. This moment provides a contrast from the GreyAndGrayMorality of the rest of the book.
* ''Literature/NuklearAge'' presents The Civil Defender, a crazed vigilante hell-bent on eliminating all crime, no matter how small. Complete with machine gun and futuristic body armor, the Civil Defender took up being a vigilante when his sandwich was stolen, and gives out tickets written on notebook paper when he's sane enough to have his finger off the trigger of his machine gun. He has repeatedly given out tickets for littering because of the pile of other tickets he personally threw to the ground.
* Literature/SisterhoodSeries by Creator/FernMichaels: This series is about Vigilante Women. They obey a ThouShaltNotKill code, give villains a FateWorseThanDeath, and they are usually careful to NeverHurtAnInnocent. The book ''Free Fall'' had them being arrested by the police, but that's okay, because the judge, prosecuting attorney, and defense attorney are secretly on their side, as well as them being considered heroes by a lot of people. Later on, you have a group of Vigilante Men made up of Jack Emery, Harry Wong, Bert Navarro, Ted Robinson, and Joe Espinosa.
* ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'': Harry Dresden has always been more or less willing to [[PyroManiac blast]] his way out of trouble (for which he's earned a reputation in the magical community as a [[DestructiveSavior thug]]), Karrin Murphy not so much. She ''believes'' in the power of the law, and her gradual acceptance that this trope is ever okay is a large fraction of the DarkerAndEdgier path the series has taken.
* Creator/LeeChild's Jack Reacher has no problem killing the villains of each book. He doesn't even make a token attempt to call in the law. As with many of the classic Vigilante Men, he only kills those he's positive are guilty, and he does his best to avoid harming innocents. By the fifteenth book in the series, ''Worth Dying For'', there are strong implications that various law enforcement agencies know who he is and what he does, and may be subtly guiding him to situations that they can't touch.
* Rose Hathaway in ''Literature/BloodPromise''. She goes on her own unsanctioned Strigoi-hunting mission, breaking a lot of guardian rules in the process.
* Marian from ''Literature/{{MARZENA}}'', although not a man, loves to make herself appear as a Vigilante as to justify her sadistic nature and sell herself as the hero.
* The Christian Marines in ''Literature/{{Victoria}}'' start out like this, a small group of ex-servicemen banding together to take on the criminals who prey on their old neighborhoods. Then they move on to bigger fish, the corrupt politicians and officials who shelter the gangs, and things escalate from there on.
* In ''Literature/DanceoftheButterfly'', a masked vigilante undertakes a crusade against the city's most powerful criminal organization to thwart their human trafficking operation.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Two Fathers Justice'' (1985). A newly married couple are killed by drug dealers, and their fathers [[TeethClenchedTeamwork reluctantly team up]] to track down their killers who've fled the country.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer''
** Willow Rosenberg kills Warren (whom everyone figures deserves it) and tries to kill Andrew and Jonathan, even though they're only guilty by association.
** Strictly speaking, Buffy herself fits this trope, as she is acting outside of the bounds of the law by hunting vampires and demons (admittedly, the laws aren't really written with anything of the sort in mind, due to TheMasquerade).
* Dexter Morgan from ''Series/{{Dexter}}'' sometimes sees himself as a vigilante for killing murderers, and in one episode fantasizes about being a superhero who is applauded by the public and in another, has a brief daydream where he acts as a Franchise/{{Batman}} style vigilante {{Superhero}} but quickly dismisses it as ridiculous. In his darker moments, however, he admits that he's just a monster with a little more self-control.
* The TV series ''Series/TheShield'' is about a cop who is a Vigilante Man. Interestingly, the series constantly shows that Mackey's vigilantism is a bad thing, always for his own self-interest, and never in the interests of justice. ''Then'', it goes on to show his CowboyCop side, where he bends or outright breaks the law to serve the greater good (a criminal will go free, but the young girl he kidnapped will be saved from being raped and murdered). Notably, the series never specifically casts judgment on Mackey's karma directly, leaving it to the viewer to decide whether he has overall good karma or bad.
* Deconstructed in an episode of Michael Chiklis' previous series, ''Series/TheCommish''. The episode features a vigilante who tapes his acts and sends them to the press. At first, his actions are relatively innocuous (running criminals off the road, then humiliating them), and even the cops are cheering him on. Commissioner Tony, however, thinks the guy is bad news. He's proven correct later when the police arrest a man for a brutal rape/murder, then release him after realizing he's innocent. The vigilante, wrongly believing the innocent man got OffOnATechnicality, goes to the guy's home and [[JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope clubs him to death]]. The vigilante then becomes the cops' target for the rest of the episode.
* Mr. Chapel in ''Series/VengeanceUnlimited'' is the rare TechnicalPacifist VigilanteMan. Because sometimes making them [[FateWorseThanDeath wish they were dead]] is better than actually killing them.
* Disgruntled cop Manny Lopez in the ''Series/MacGyver'' episode "Tough Boys" decided to use his Marine skills to train a bunch of kids to become the Tough Boys of the title, and crack down on drug dealers after snapping from the trauma of having a crack-addicted daughter go missing without a trace, leaving him with his drug-addled baby granddaughter. Predictably, the episode ends with Mac having to save the Tough Boys from being nearly killed in a shoot-out and preventing Lopez from blowing himself up along with a major drug dealer.
* ''Series/TheEqualizer'' clearly draws on the vigilante justice issues raised by ''Death Wish'' and the Goetz trial (as seen in the Mad Magazine spoof of this TV series, where Robert [=McCall=], Charles Bronson and Bernard Goetz argue over who should shoot a subway mugger). [=McCall=] never actually shoots anyone in cold blood however, preferring to use psychological warfare to inspire a confession (though quite a few villains conveniently pull a gun at the end so [=McCall=] can shoot them in self-defense).
* ''Series/{{Millennium}}''. The Judge is a pig farmer who uses ex-convicts to inflict KarmicDeath on people he believes have escaped justice, such as a landlord whose negligence caused the death of an elderly tenant and a detective whose false testimony sent an innocent man to prison. He invites Frank Black to join his cause, but when he refuses the Judge hits the police with a lawsuit to make them back off. Unfortunately for the Judge his ex-convict killer regards this as hypocrisy, hamstrings the Judge and [[FedToPigs throws him to his own pigs to be eaten alive]].
* ''Series/DarkJustice'', about a judge who delivers Karmic Retribution to criminals who get off on technicalities, with the aid of various helpers, usually low-level criminals working off their 'community service' sentences.
* The protagonist of the ITV series ''Series/TheFixer'' killed his aunt and uncle for molesting his sister. This apparently qualified him to work as a [[JudgeJuryAndExecutioner covert government hitman]]. In one episode he's ordered to kill his predecessor, who has turned RogueAgent and started killing drug dealers and prostitutes.
* In ''Series/{{Justified}}'', [[spoiler:Boyd Crowder seems very much this after he apparently gets religion,]] but the series leaves it ambiguous as to whether he really is or is just faking it an attempt to erect his own criminal empire. Unlike most vigilante men, he doesn't seem to prefer lethal force, and at one point kills someone innocent even by his WellIntentionedExtremist standards. Rayland harries him the entire season, but when the chips come down, he is revealed to actually be a vigilante man after all, and at the end of the season he goes off apparently to basically become Batman.
* ''Series/CriminalMinds''
** The ones from "A Real Rain" and "Reckoner" were fairly standard, killing people who'd been acquitted of crimes or who got lesser sentences (though the one from the latter was actually a ProfessionalKiller paid to act as a vigilante)
** The one from "True Night" killed off members of a brutal street gang, but was psychotic and didn't even know what he was doing. The BAU mentioned that because he was so severely ill, it was only a matter of time before he became a danger to ordinary people as well.
** The priest from "Demonology" could also count, since he was killing the men believed to be responsible for the death of a fellow priest, and close friend of his.
** Played with in the Season Ten episode "Protection," while the killer acts like one, [[spoiler: a witness account reveals that the killer was having delusions of crimes being committed. He killed the boyfriend of the witness, who was making out with her, due to the fact that the killer was deluded into thinking that the witness was being raped ]]
* In ''Series/{{Flashpoint}}'', there was an episode of a man going after drug dealers and ultimately the main drug lords because his brother had been killed from a drug overdose given to him by these people.
* In ''Series/{{Bones}}'', Broadsky the rogue sniper fancied himself a vigilante but is really just a madman who will kill anyone who gets in way and feels no guilt for [[CollateralDamage killing innocent bystanders]].
* ''Series/PersonOfInterest''. It's significant that the mysterious Mr Finch recruited a former CIA assassin to do his WeHelpTheHelpless work rather than a private detective.
* Russian 2009 series ''Меч'' (The Sword) presents a group of vigilantes hunting both criminals and corrupt officials who help criminals evade justice. Interestingly, the group consists predominantly of former or active civil servants (an ex-detective who resigned after being proposed a bribe by his own superior, an ex-cop sentenced for murder of a rapist, a young traffic police officer, and a retired FSB agent and state prosecutor).
* ''Series/{{Arrow}}'' - 'The Vigilante' is even one of Oliver's titles in the show... Later on, though, he faces off against someone actually called 'Vigilante', who sees nothing wrong with killing criminals and corrupt officials, with CollateralDamage not being a concern. [[spoiler:He's eventually revealed to be Dinah's ex-partner and ex-lover Vince, who now has a HealingFactor thanks to the particle accelerator explosion]].
* The ''Series/{{Castle}}'' episode "Heroes and Villains" features a vigilante that actually dresses like a superhero. While he initially used nonlethal tactics, he eventually commits a murder. [[spoiler: It turns out that the vigilante, [[SamusIsAGirl a female police officer by day]], was innocent of the murder. The real killer impersonated her.]]
* ''Series/EqualJustice'': The defendant in "The Big Game and Other Crimes" (2x06) is accused of arson for burning down a crack house he felt was a threat to his neighborhood.
* ''Series/{{Accused}}'': In "Kenny's Story" Kenny and his friends attack the man they believe violated his daughter. The plot shows why this is a very bad idea, however. [[spoiler: The man was innocent, and Kenny's convicted of murder after he dies.]]
* Deconstructed in Series 3 of ''Series/{{Luther}}'', in which Luther suggests that such a person is likely driven by narcissism and entitlement rather than by grief or idealism, and sure enough, the vigilante killer Luther is looking for turns on law enforcement and suffers severe MotiveDecay when his savior complex isn't properly validated.
* ''Series/SweetVicious'' features a college version of this with its protagonist, the sorority sister and rape survivor Jules, who dons a hoodie and ski mask to torment the sexual predators at her school since the campus' security force seems to not even care about the epidemic of rape at the university. She's joined by Ophelia, a rich kid hacker and weed dealer who runs into her at night when she's on the prowl and manages to figure out her identity.
* ''Series/HandOfGod'': Pernell and KD become this, believing they are God's servants-the titular "[[TitleDrop Hand of God]]".
* ''Series/{{Supergirl}}'', James/Guardian represents the heroic version, trying to be a BadassNormal, taking care of common criminals, while Supergirl is busy with the monsters and aliens. His non-lethal reputation suffers, when he's framed by Vigilante, who turns out to be a former Navy SEAL, lashing out after his wife's murder. While Guardian is content to capture criminals for the police, Vigilante just shoots them, no matter their crime.

* The Music/AbneyPark song "Victorian Vigilante" is about one of these.
* Woody Guthrie's "Vigilante Man" is actually about how American workers would be attacked and beaten by the people of the towns they passed through during The Depression.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The ''TabletopGame/NewWorldOfDarkness'' sourcebook ''Slasher'', which is all about serial killers who rise above the cut, has an entire [[{{Splat}} Undertaking]] dedicated to this -- the Avenger. They get the ability to take on multiple foes at once without being overwhelmed, but have to actively make the effort to break from their pursuit.
* ''[[TabletopGame/{{Champions}} Dark Champions]]'' contains rules for several modern-day action genres, but defaults to vigilantes taking down criminals. This shouldn't be surprising, as the original 4th edition book was inspired by Steve Long's personal PC the Harbinger of Justice, who is this trope cranked to max.
* In the backstory of ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'', the Primarch of the Night Lords, Konrad Curze, was this. The planet he arrived on after the scattering of the Primarchs was a crime-ridden WretchedHive named Nostramo, and ultimately Curze decided to bring justice in the most brutal, unforgiving manner possible, essentially acting as a grimdark Franchise/{{Batman}} whose body count left the sewers choked with corpses. He was so successful that he was made the planet's ruler and the entire populace towed the line out of fear that he would kill anyone who broke the law. His story also shows the logical problem with such methods: because the only thing keeping the population in line was fear of Curze, once he leaves to join the Great Crusade, Nostramo slips right back into its old ways.
* This is pretty much the whole purpose of ''[[TabletopGame/{{Pathfinder}} Pathfinder's]]'' vigilante class.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfVesperia''.
** Yuri Lowell grew up in the slums of TheEmpire with his friend Flynn Scifo and joined the Imperial Knights with him. After growing disgusted with the government's weakness and [[AristocratsAreEvil the cruelty of the nobles]], he left Flynn to try and reform the Empire from within while he seeks to give the commoners the justice that the current system denies them. Later on, he joins up with [[TheAlliance the Guild Union]] in the hope of eliminating injustice from the world completely. He is rather GenreSavvy; knowing that his actions are unlawful and [[HeWhoFightsMonsters may bring him closer to what he hates]], he is willing to break the law anyway if it serves the greater good.
** There is also a sidequest involving a VigilanteMan who has less scruples than Yuri.
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' has Archangel, who turns out to be a CowboyCop frustrated by being hindered by ineffectual bureaucracy. Nicknamed "Space Franchise/{{Batman}}" [[FanNickname by the players,]] though he's much closer to Space Punisher as he has no problem killing criminals. He's so good at it that three rival mercenary groups that hate each others' guts team up to take him down. He also isn't above cruel punishments, like killing criminals by sabotaging the air supply of their space suits or infecting them with their own bio-weapons. There's some {{Deconstruction}} later on; his loyalty mission involves hunting down a guy who set him up to dole out some vigilante justice, but if you take the paragon route and convince Archangel that [[CruelMercy letting him live is punishment enough]], he comments on how GreyAndGrayMorality doesn't have a lot of place for this, and that he prefers to see things as [[BlackAndWhiteMorality black and white]] because it makes things easier.
* ''VisualNovel/AceAttorneyInvestigations'':
** The Yatagarasu, a noble thief who steals information on corrupt business dealings and sends them to the media. Establishing the identity and motivations of the Yatagarasu and its target are a big part of the game's plot. Kay Faraday tries to pick up the tradition after the first Yatagarasu is put out of action. She's not very good at it.
** The sequel's BigBad is driven by both KillingInSelfDefense and {{Revenge}} against the internationally powerful {{Greater Scope Villain}}s who have terrorized him for most of his life. However, he's also willing to frame innocent people in the process, thus making himself the HeWhoFightsMonsters variety of this.
* The title character in the aptly named ''VideoGame/{{Vigilante}}'' is officially this, although the focus is more on the quest to rescue his girlfriend.
* Frost Ace has become this in ''VideoGame/ShinMegamiTenseiStrangeJourney''. It's almost like he's trying to become a HenshinHero version of Franchise/{{Batman}}.
* The title character of ''VideoGame/AnakshaFemaleAssassin'' is a vigilante assassin who has taken it upon herself to clean up the streets of Santa Lina, one scumbag at a time.
* To a degree, Yun and Yang from the StreetFighter series, as the twins strive to protect their beloved Hong Kong from all kinds of peril and use their martial arts to do so. Specially emphasized in ''VideoGame/StreetFighterAlpha III'', where Yun chases after Fei-Long when he and Yang take rumors about him being in the drug trade at face value. [[spoiler: The real culprit is Vega/Bison.]]
* ''VideoGame/MaxPayne'':
** The title character -- his motivation is ''Punisher''-like -- his family is murdered and he'll throw everything he's got at the people who did it to make sure they pay.
** According to supplementary material for ''3'', the [[HiredGuns Cracha Preto]] were originally lawmen hunting down criminals the law couldn't or wouldn't touch. [[MotiveDecay Originally.]]
* The protagonists of ''VideoGame/FinalFight'' are out to stop a criminal organization that took over the city and kidnapped the mayor's daughter. They include a ninja, the mayor's daughter's boyfriend, and ''the mayor, himself!'' (Helps that said mayor is a former wrestler.)
* The three protagonists of the original ''VideoGame/StreetsOfRage'' were police officers, but when TheSyndicate took over the city, including the police, the three officers quit in order to take on Mr. X and company themselves.
* The heroes of ''VideoGame/{{Interstate 76}}'' are outright called Auto-Vigilantes - men and women taking to their {{Weaponized Car}}s in [[AlternateHistory a worse version of the 70's gas crisis]], who have to deal with criminals themselves because the police are either [[PoliceAreUseless too incompetent]] or [[DirtyCop too corrupt]] to do anything about them.
* The 2014 game ''VideoGame/WatchDogs'' features a protagonist that is a rather high-tech version of this, relying on a smart phone as much as a gun. [[LaResistance He is also trying to break free]] from the [[BigBrotherIsWatching stranglehold of information control]] while also righting some personal wrongs. It just happens that this involves going up against the Chicago mob and being against the law.
* Deconstructed with The Fans in ''VideoGame/HotlineMiami2WrongNumber'' - despite going up against armed criminals, they do that for the sake of violence, aimlessly improvising targets for their massacres on the go and quickly finding themselves doing favors for their friends after finding out there's not many people to kill.
* ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAuto'' games have the Vigilante missions, accessed from any law enforcement or military vehicle, in which you need to kill increasing amounts of people in a time limit.
* The Vigilante is a role in ''VideoGame/TownOfSalem''. Vigilantes have three bullets and can shoot someone they suspect of being a member of the mafia at night. However, this can backfire: if he shoots a fellow town member, he kills himself the next night out of guilt. Vampire Hunters can also become Vigilantes if all the Vampires get staked, however, he only gets one bullet.
* Among the ''VisualNovel/ShallWeDate'' {{visual novel}}s, two deal with groups of these:
** ''VisualNovel/ShallWeDateNinjaAssassin'' begins with the murder of the PlayerCharacter's family in Edo (the old Tokyo) and her swearing revenge. She hears of a vigilante group that can carry revenges and looks for them, and after witnessing one of their assassinations, they accept her request and take her in.
** The ''Ninja Assassin'' SpinOff ''VisualNovel/ShallWeDateNinjaShadow'' has the PlayerCharacter pulling a SweetPollyOliver and joining a vigilante group in Nagasaki, which her twin brother was supposed to join [[CynicismCatalyst before he was killed]] [[AngstySurvivingTwin in front of her]]. The guys from ''Ninja Assassin'', whose vigilante group has deep bond with this one, make several appearances and are even quite vital in some of the routes.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Oasis from ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' took on this role when she lived in Podunkton, killing pretty much the entire mafia establishment in town, as well as any miscellaneous crooks who pass through. She seems to do this largely out of boredom. However, since she had previously been an AxCrazy assassin who'd [[{{Yandere}} kill anyone who came between her and Torg]], this vigilante justice is actually a sign of Oasis becoming ''less'' violent.
* In ''Webcomic/TheAdventuresOfDrMcNinja'', Dr. [=McNinja=] is [[CaptainObvious a doctor and a ninja.]] Who desperately wants to be Batman. The police of Cumberland know who he is and what he does, but he's made a deal with them: after any action they could arrest him for, if he can get back to his office and declare "Base!" before they catch him, he's off the hook for it. He's never shown actually doing so, and most episodes end with him back at the office and no evidence that the police even tried to catch him.
* In ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'', Terezi is pretty obsessed with this kind of justice, which funnily enough is not too different from the [[KangarooCourt actual]] [[HangingJudge court]] [[AmoralAttorney system]] in [[AllTrollsAreDifferent Troll society.]] She also used to partner up with Vriska in [[{{LARP}} FLARP]] session to kill off other players, but only the ones that really deserved to be punished. She leaves when Vriska starts [[KillerGameMaster murdering indiscriminately.]]
* ''Webcomic/AxeCop''. The police are after him, everyone he kills is evil, and he uses lethal force against pretty much everyone "bad". Though he switches back and forth on the killing of public servants (he beheads many FBI agents to protect Uni-Baby, but is unwilling to kill the police officers trying to arrest him).
* [[APupilOfMineUntilHeTurnedToEvil Midnight]] in ''Webcomic/{{Acrobat}}''.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* ''ComicBook/LessThanThreeComics''' Shadow attacks crooks in the street, and uses fear to scare them straight. It's worked pretty well so far.
* ''Film/TheFlyingMan'' is a deconstruction of the trope, depicting a scenario where a ruthless vigilante has somehow gotten FlyingBrick superpowers similar to Superman. The result is a horrifying HumanoidAbomination that brutally murders over thirty criminals in about a week, sometimes right in front of innocent civilians, simply because no one in the city has the power to stop him. Intriguingly, [[spoiler: the ending suggests he may have a more human side to him, as he spares a small-time crook upon seeing that the man has a young child.]]
* ''Website/TLFTravelAlerts'': The [[https://twitter.com/TlfTravelAlerts/status/672332636296192000 Signals at Earls Court]] are not going to play by your rules, but they are going to get results! Delays.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The ''WesternAnimation/SwatKats'' kinda count; although their reason is because the Enforcers aren't flexible enough to take down the supervillains who attack on a weekly basis. Indeed, they were once Enforcer pilots, but got kicked out by their Jerkass Commander, Ulysses Feral, after Feral pulled an idiotic OnlyICanKillHim move while they were trying to capture one of the chief villains, Dark Kat; after he demoted them to working in a junkyard, they promptly realized the Enforcers were throwing a lot of good stuff away, and used this to build their arsenal (including their CoolPlane, the [=TurboKat=]) and handle the villains on their terms.
* Lin Beifong from ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'' drops her job as DaChief and goes vigilante in order to fight [[BigBad Amon]]. Though she's still a policewoman at her core and doesn't kill anyone. Korra herself gets into some trouble early on with the police when she tries to hunt down criminals: she feels she's justified in that she's the Avatar, while the police are annoyed at some naive civilian girl interfering in their work. As the show goes on and Korra gets some CharacterDevelopment, she begins to learn to cooperate and work with the police, rather than just blindly charging in on her own. More often than not though, the police and government are willing to let Korra deal with the situation as she sees fit.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Bernie Goetz was labeled the "Subway Vigilante" after he gunned down four men who were[[note]] probably, there was some dispute[[/note]] [[MuggingTheMonster mugging him.]] The incident sparked a national debate on vigilantism, though his actions do not fit into the classic mold of a vigilante.
* Jack Ruby, who killed Lee Harvey Oswald to avenge his (?) assassination of UsefulNotes/JohnFKennedy. On live television. He himself was arrested. The [[WhoShotJFK various conspiracy theories]] surrounding the assassination have meant that Ruby, naturally, has come under a lot of scrutiny, with many theorizing that he killed Oswald not to avenge the widow Kennedy and her family but to [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness silence him on behalf of]] [[UsefulNotes/ConspiracyTheories the true perpetrators of the event.]]
* Three-time killer [[http://www.truecrimereport.com/2009/10/serial_killer_vigilante_willia.php William Inmon]] was a self-proclaimed vigilante. His arguments for this are unconvincing.
* The term comes from the ''Vigilance Committees'' set up in the old west when settlement had outrun the law. The actual behavior of these committees was more complicated than the traditional TorchesAndPitchforks angry mob, though that picture is hardly without merit. Some lawmen, for instance, found it [[CombatPragmatist useful]] to use these as material when forming posses.
* The Whitechapel Vigilance Committee tried to be this in the days of UsefulNotes/JackTheRipper. Tired of the police not catching the criminal, they sent out men on patrols round Whitechapel and tried to investigate the case themselves. Which didn't do a lot, the Ripper himself was confident enough he wouldn't get caught he sent the [[FingerInTheMail letter with half a human kidney attached]] to their leader.
* In Italy it was so diffused that Italian language has the word ''giustiziere'' specifically to denote this. The fact it's derived from the Italian word for "justice" should be enough to explain ''why'' it was so diffused, and why the mindset is still there.
* Vigilante killings of suspected drug traffickers incited (and are still inciting) bitter [[FlameWar Flame Wars]] when Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte came in power with the promise to stamp out crime, corruption, and [[BerserkButton illegal drugs.]]