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[[quoteright:330:[[Film/DeathWish http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Vigilante_Man_DeathWish_poster_2514.jpg]]]]

->''"In certain extreme situations, [[PoliceAreUseless 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]]. The "bad" Vigilante Man is 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) not to 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 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]].

See also SerialKillerKiller. The AssholeVictim is often this guy's target.

----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* 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... but it's quickly subverted, when in the second chapter he [[JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope leaps off the slippery slope]] and begins to threaten and kill all those who oppose Kira, including the police officers.
* 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."
* In ''Anime/RomeoXJuliet'', Juliet starts out disguising herself as one of these, nicknamed "The Red Tornado".
* 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.
* The SociopathicHero of the 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]].
* The ''SamuraiGun'' exist to avenge the evils of the Shogunate, though in practise this means avenging the deaths of [[{{Fanservice}} large-breasted women]].
* Hibari Kyouya 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.
* ''TriageX'' follows an entire team of medically-themed vigilantes who kill gang leaders, mob bosses, and other menaces to society.
* 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.
* [[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 it's jurisdiction, as it counts as illegal warring between guilds.
* In 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.
* 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.]]
* Kurumi Tokisaki from ''LightNovel/DateALive''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* 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/ThePunisher (Frank Castle) is a vigilante and AntiHero in the MarvelUniverse.
* ''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.
** Likewise Edward 'The Comedian'' Blake, who embodied the SociopathicHero variant and is arguably even more of a deconstruction than WellIntentionedExtremist Rorschach; he was portrayed as a dangerous nutcase corrupted by the power to dispense KarmicDeath, who knew damn well he'd passed any sane person's MoralEventHorizon and didn't give a damn.
* 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.
* Also from DC is federal prosecutor Kate Spencer, who became the vigilante assassin Comicbook/{{Manhunter}} after she got tired of criminals dodging legal justice.
* The Crimson Avenger, who also has the honor of being (disputably) TheDCU's first masked superhero.
* The ComicBook/{{Huntress}} in Creator/DCComics became a vigilante after her family was murdered by rival mafiosi.
* Jason Todd became one of these after coming BackFromTheDead, criticizing Franchise/{{Batman}} for being too "soft" on criminals and wanting more than anything to kill SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker.
* The Paladin, who appeared in a ''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.
* Wild Dog in DCComics 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.
* The Blue Knight in ''ComicBook/AstroCity''.
* 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.
* Eric Draven in ''Film/TheCrow''. Although, since he's already died and has resurrected as an unkillable zombie, he's technically a Vigilante ''Thing''.
* In ''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.
* Find a hero who '''doesn't''' fit this trope in ''SinCity''.
* 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.
* Victor Ray from ''OneHundredBullets'' kills criminals in his spare time to balance out the awful things he does on behalf of Agent Graves
* [[DependingOnTheWriter Depending on the story]], Paperinik (WesternAnimation/DonaldDuck's superhero alter ego in some Italian stories) may have this as his reason to hunt down criminals: Duckburg has a serious criminality problem (seriously, how is that the Beagle Boys manage to get free in a lawful way?!), and an unstoppable sadistic superhero going to extreme lengths to humiliate and beat you up after catching you in the act or getting proof and a confession ([[JustifiedTrope justifying]] the fact his victims are always guilty: he makes sure, and those times he was wrong he found out before beating up the supposed criminal) tend to keep the problem manageable. In those stories he's also a wanted criminal due various spectacular thefts he committed at the start of his career to punish Donald's bullies (the very first being the money-filled bed Scrooge was sleeping on: the sacks of money were ''too easy'' for him), but most of the police doesn't want to arrest him due to a combination of him catching an insane amount of criminals and leaving them on their step and mercilessly humiliating the ones who actually try and arrest him (one memorable occasion had him fooling two cops into breaking into the bedroom of the chief of the police. HilarityEnsued).
* 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.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Fan Fiction]]
* The [[AppropriatedAppellation Archer]] in ''Fanfic/PathoftheKing'' is one of these.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* 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 the third sequel, 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]].
* Preacher in the movie ''Film/PaleRider''.
* ''BillyJack'' is one of the strangest ones, a Liberal Vigilante Man.
* ''TheBoondockSaints''. Especially in the courtroom climax.
* In ''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 I guess even Harry figures they went too far]]. This movie actually explains the difference between CowboyCop (Harry) and VigilanteMan (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).
* The movie ''Film/TheStarChamber'' is about a judge who decides to join a group of judges who are disgusted with the system and become vigilante men. But during one tangled affair involving drugs, the protagonist comes to realise that justice means something more than arbitrarily killing criminals.
* Creator/JodieFoster in ''Film/TheBraveOne'' plays a ''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.
* 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.
* ''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.
* ''Savage Streets'' (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.
* ''Two Fathers' Justice'' (1985). A newly married couple are killed by drug dealers, and their fathers (reluctantly) team up to track down their killers who've fled the country.
* The Michael Caine movie ''HarryBrown''.
* Jigsaw, Amanda and Hoffman in ''Film/{{Saw}}'' are a twisted, ''twisted'' version of this.
* Vigilantism is attacked in ''Film/TheOxBowIncident'', wherein three obviously innocent men are persecuted and ultimately murdered by a [[TorchesAndPitchforks lynch mob]].
* In ''Film/{{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.]]
* 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.
* The Hobo in ''HoboWithAShotgun.''
* In ''Murders Among Us'', Hans Mertens [[spoiler:almost becomes this, but instead decides not to kill Bruckner at the insistence of Suzanne]].
* Seemingly deconstructed in ''LawAbidingCitizen'', with Clyde Shelton JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope. On the other hand, it also seems to portray the criminal justice system as ineffectual.
* The Sally Field movie ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_for_an_Eye_(1996_film) Eye For An Eye]]'' 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.]]
* ''HardCandy'': Hayley may qualify as one due to her crusade against pedophile rapists. That or she may be a budding SerialKiller.
* Joey Rosso from ''Film/RollingVengeance''. His weapon of choice happens to be a Monster Truck.
* {{Deconstructed|Trope}} with Keller Dover in ''Prisoners'', who nails the wrong man for kidnapping his daughter, crosses the MoralEventHorizon as a result, [[spoiler:and is left to die in a pit by the ''real'' kidnapper for his trouble. The ending leaves it ambiguous whether or not he will be rescued.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* [[spoiler:Justice Wargrave]] from ''Literature/AndThenThereWereNone''. [[spoiler:Although he lacks the charisma and {{Badass}}ery of a typical VigilanteMan, the idea is the same: kill people who have escaped legal justice.]]
* 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/Warhammer40000 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 VigilanteMan 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 boook. 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.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]
* ''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.
* 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 ''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, ''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.
* 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...
* 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.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Music]]
* The 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]]

[[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.
* ''[[{{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.
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[[folder:Webcomics]]
* 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 ''{{Acrobat}}''.
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[[folder: Web Original ]]
* ''LessThanThreeComics''' Shadow attacks crooks in the street, and uses fear to scare them straight. It's worked pretty well so far.
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[[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 bioweapons. 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.
* The Yatagarasu in ''VisualNovel/AceAttorney Investigations'', 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 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 ''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/Interstate76'' 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.
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[[folder: Western Animation]]
* Lin Beifong from ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'' drops her job as DaChief and goes vigilante in order to fight [[BigBad Amon]]. She hasn't actually killed anybody yet, though.
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[[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 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]] [[ConspiracyTheory 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 then 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 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.
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