Knight Templar / Comic Books

"You can do nothing but fall, and if you force my hand, die. But you cannot defeat me. My power is as great as my faith... and I have never believed more strongly in the righteousness of my cause!"
Exodus, X-Men

  • This is a common Alternate Universe for Super Heroes.
  • The Authority is a group of Knight Templar superheroes.
  • Batman
    • During the Knightfall story arc, Batman's fill-in, Azrael, a.k.a. Jean-Paul Valley, was a member of the Order of St. Dumas, a Templar-esque organization of assassins. The second part of Knightfall, Knightquest, tells the story of how Jean-Paul turned from Batman's Legacy Character into a Knight Templar.
    • Ra's Al-Ghul was also this, along with his whole League of Assassins. He truly believes that he is purging evil from Gotham, and he's steadily going crazier due to the Lazarus Pit. That's a bad combination!
    • Another Knight Templar, and a Canon Immigrant, was Lyle Bolton, a.k.a. Lock-Up, who, in the animated series, was once the new Head of Security at Arkham Asylum, but whose methods were so harsh and extreme that everyone at the asylum was afraid of him, particularly Scarecrow. After being relieved of his post, he would go on to "arrest" those who he deemed to be at the root of Gotham's problems, including the mayor, Commissioner Gordon, reporter Summer Gleeson, and the chief doctor of Arkham before being stopped by Batman and Robin.
    • Batman himself becomes this in various alternate universes, with one prominent example being Kingdom Come which is set some years in the future and features an older, more cynical Batman who has finally brought peace to Gotham City — by transforming it into a totalitarian police state patrolled by his private army of Giant Mook robots. Some story arcs such as Batman: Hush, also toy with the idea of the Caped Crusader becoming one of these in the present day, pushing him to some hitherto-unreached breaking point where he considers the idea only to walk him back from the brink via the intervention of one of his trusted confidants (usually Commissioner Gordon).
  • Green Lantern
    • In the lore of the mythos, the Lanterns were preceded by a robot force known as the Manhunters. A perfect example of the trope, they are the "logical guardian machines removing free will".
    • Sinestro got kicked out of the Green Lantern Corps for doing this. He had the most peaceful and orderly planet in the universe — because he was ruling it with an iron fist.
    • After Final Crisis, the Green Lantern Corps create a sort of internal security force called the Alpha Lanterns — using Manhunter technology. This ends up biting them in the ass, eventually.
    • After the events of Brightest Day, the Guardians themselves fell under this trope, creating the Third Army, who wiped out the free will of those they converted. And they used the power of The First Lantern to do this.
  • Iron Man became one of these during and after Civil War. This need not have happened; both sides were intended to have valid points, but the Editors failed to realise that some of the writers agreed with the Anti-Registration side, so they just kept penning atrocity after atrocity. The main book had him (illegally) clone a god and set him on his former friends, resulting in the death of Bill Foster, aka Goliath. Moreover, the atrocities that didn't involve Iron Man, such as arresting Captain America for refusing to enforce something that isn't a law under the orders of someone who has no authority over him, also took place in the main book. It was a Knight Templar orgy from the beginning.
  • Judge Dredd:
    • Judge Dredd himself is one of the best examples of this in the world of comics. In any given strip, there's a chance that Dredd may sentence witnesses or even the victim of a crime after they reported it to him. Notably, in the more emotional story "America", Bennett Beeny gives Dredd a witness statement after he was shot through the throat by democratic terrorists, and immediately after their conversation, the Judges are contemplating whether or not they should arrest Benny for a separate offense. In that one particular instance, Dredd decides to let Beeny off the hook.
    • Judge Death takes this to its "logical" extreme: since all crimes are committed by the living, then life itself should be considered a crime. As his Catch Phrase goes, "The crime is life. The sentence is DEATH." The Dark Judges sometimes have trouble comprehending why all those "sinners" they lovingly murder aren't practically lining up for the slaughter. In their eyes, Judge Dredd himself is a criminal since he's continually stopping them from bringing their own version of the law to Mega City One.
    • The Democracy movement eventually resorted to acts of domestic terrorism in an attempt to oust the Judges. During the "Total War" arc, they used stolen nuclear devices to force the Judges to step down, blowing up the city one sector at a time until they cave.
    • SJS Judge Pin went around slitting the throats and taking the helmets of judges she felt were unworthy of the badge.
  • Nemesis the Warlock: Torquemada fully believes that his genocidal crusades to purge the universe of all alien life and ruling humanity through terror is the 'right' thing to do. Noted by the man himself in a 2000 AD pin-up after winning The Eagle Award for best comic villain of 1984:
    Torquemada: "Villain"? This vile slur on my good name shall be avenged!
  • Shakara: The Shakara Federation ruthlessly enforced their own sense of order and justice on the rest of the universe, becoming a mostly benevolent but still oppressive empire.
  • Starr from Preacher, a fusion of Templar attitude and Templar position and mission.
  • Spider-Man has often fought a high-tech vigilante called Cardiac who targets people who commit evil and immoral acts, but find legal loopholes to ecape justice. And let's face it; a lot of people would take Cardiac's side here. His victims are horrible men who rob people blind and cause innocents to suffer, but find ways to legally do it, always with selfish goals in mind. Even Spider-Man, who tries to stop him when he can, can't help but admire him a little sometimes.
    • Another notable admirer of Cardiac is none other than Otto Octavius, who met the vigilante while going through something of a Templar phase himself as the Superior Spider-Man. Originally outraged when Cardiac stole one of his old inventions, Otto had a quick change of heart when he learned what Cardiac planned to use it for, and the team-up produced what was arguably Otto's most redeeming Pet the Dog moment in the entire run.
  • Superman
    • The Elseworld story Superman: Red Son features a Kal-El who lands in Soviet Russia, is brought up as the son of Stalin, and encompasses the world in a prosperous but tightly controlled dictatorship, which deals with dissidents using robotic mind-control on the basis that, hey, it's better than killing them! In the end, Lex Luthor defeats him by writing him a letter: "I'm distilling everything Superman hates and fears about himself into a single sentence." The contents of the letter: "Why don't you just put the whole WORLD in a BOTTLE, Superman?" Unusual for most Knight Templar characters, this works, and Superman breaks down and cries, realizing that he's no different from Brainiac, who shrunk down cities and put them in bottles — the only thing Superman wasn't able to undo.
    • In the regular DC Universe, the 90s incarnation of Superman's enemy Toyman is this way.
    Prankster: Why do you do it, "Toyman"? Why do you hurt people?
    Toyman: Because they deserve it.
    • Interestingly, this Toyman was later revealed/retconned into being an android body double of the real deal, one of many (to explain away his constantly-changing appearance) whose misanthropy was the result of malfunctioning hardware. The real deal is repulsed by his double's Would Hurt a Child tendencies, though tellingly isn't repulsed enough to actually bother destroying it.
    • Superboy-Prime gradually turns into a Knight Templar throughout Infinite Crisis, as Earth-Prime and its heroes were too amoral for him, albeit one of the decidedly hypocritical variety — in his No-Holds-Barred Beatdown of the Teen Titans, he memorably rants about how amoral and corrupt they are while literally ripping them limb from limb.
    • The Eradicator, during his early days, was this. When he first gained a humanoid form, he sought to turn Earth into Krypton by force. When he came back following The Death of Superman, he sought to stop criminals his way, by flash frying them.
  • Watchmen
    • Rorschach. His moral absolutism leads him to continue fighting crime even after superheroics have been outlawed, because evil must be punished, even if that means becoming a vigilante and effective serial killer.
    • Adrian Veidt, a.k.a. Ozymandias as well.
  • X-Men
    • The X-Men have faced the Purifiers; a sect of Christian fundamentalists led by Reverend William Stryker. The Purifiers believe that mutants are the children of Satan, and they are fighting a holy war against them.
    • Heel–Face Revolving Door aside, Magneto. Full stop.
    • Even more so Magneto's right-hand man Exodus, who gets bonus Templar points for being an actual knight templar during the Third Crusade.
    • A lot of the mutant-hating human villains, who quite sincerely fear that the super-human mutants seek to replace humanity as the planet's dominant species. (It probably doesn't help that various mutant supervillains seem dead set on proving them right.) Some of them will go to extreme lengths to make the world safe for humanity. One good example is the semi-obscure villain Stephen Lang, who will calmly and seriously tell a young mutant girl to her face that he's sorry, but she has to die.
      Jean Grey: Following orders, huh?
      Dr. Lang: If you like. You — mutantkind — are the enemy. I'm to find a way to destroy you.
  • Transformers:
    • At one point, the Autobots in the Transformers: Generation 1 comic became like this when Grimlock became leader after one of Optimus Prime's numerous Heroic Sacrifices.
    • The Autobots also did this during the Nova Prime administration in the latest series of comics.
    • Megatron in the IDW comic adaptations of Generation One started out as this. A former gladiator/miner who got pissed at the corruption of the Autobot High Council, he gathered an army of mechs with familiar thoughts toward them and started a typical working-class revolution. However, as the revolution went, he and his army became more and more bloodthirsty and greedy and resorted to more violent methods in the war, and by the time when they finally invaded Earth, none of the original goals of the Decepticons existed. Except for, perhaps, Megatron himself. In one of the most recent comics, he is quoted as saying a rather inspirational passage — "When the word 'Weapon' is emptied of meaning, when the purpose of a weapon is impossible to grasp, when the rejection of my weapon is of significance to no-one other than myself, only then shall I remove it from my arm" — Kinda awesome.
  • Marshal Law is one, and he knows people think of him as one. And he agrees with those people. As he himself says:
  • The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye has several examples:
    • The Decepticon Justice Division are absolutely devoted to the Decepticon cause; they name themselves after the first five conquered cities, and their leader, Tarn, even quotes Megatron's inspirational lines. Their job is to kill Decepticons who are disloyal, cowardly, or disagrees with their goal. This eventually even comes to include Megatron himself, after his renouncing of Decepticonism and defection to the Autobots following the events of The Transformers: Dark Cybertron. Though when Tarn first learns of this, he briefly suffers from a Villainous Breakdown and attempt suicide, but the DJD's newest member, Nickel, restores his faith in the Decepticon cause and causes him to believe that the ideals they stand for are bigger than anyone, even the one who thought them up to begin with.
    • Star Saber is a known religious nut who once proposed destroying all non-believers. With Robot Religion getting a big showing here, fundamentalists think he's mental and kicked him out of their group. Now he works for the next example in the series...
    • Chief Justice Tyrest. He started as an atheist, and he helped to make a new breed of Transformer through a process called Cold Construction. He served the committees well, and later became a judge known throughout the universe for his unyielding fairness. When sentencing war criminals, he realized that all of them were cold constructs (which Ultra Magnus dismissed as a coincidence), and exiled himself. He began drilling holes in himself to alleviate the guilt... and then he drilled a hole in his brain. Suddenly he could hear the voice of God and all the chosen in his head telling him to remove the sinful breed of Cold Constructs from existence. With this goal in mind he created a device to kill all those he helped to create, and recycled their parts into his army of drones.
    • Getaway was gradually revealed as this. A member of the Diplomatic Corps. He would perform odd-jobs for the Autobot's resident manipulator Prowl. Getaway made a lot of friends with his easy charm, but beneath that friendly exterior is a violent fanaticism. The Autobot cause is noble and just, and when Megatron makes a Heel–Face Turn, that's when he takes matters into his own hands. From trying to get the naive Tailgate killed by Megatron to prompt an execution, to ultimately unleashing a months long gambit to have Megatron and anyone willing to give him a second chance, sentenced to death at the hands of the DJD. After all the civilizations he ruined, Megatron is the enemy and anyone who sides with him can die with him.
    • The Functionist Council were a group of fanatics who took Measuring the Marigolds to the extreme with their attempts to classify and segregate society based on which alt-modes were the most useful. Though they died early on in the main timeline the characters visit an alt-timeline where the Functionists took over. They've turned the world into a dystopia and constantly kill off entire groups of Transformers who they believe cannot fulfill a purpose. They've got delusional god complexes and anything diverting from their ideal of perfection they have destroyed as they see it as an affront to their god Primus. Their grand plan was to recycle most of the population into mindless kill-bots so they could wage galactic genocide and destroy all that they decreed incongruous with their beliefs.
  • In East of West this trope is pleasantly avoided by the Ranger who seizes power, kills off the criminal and the corrupted and promptly relinquishes power and retires.
  • In Ultimate Fantastic Four, the Ultimate version of the Psycho Man mind controls a world to feel happy and content, while the Ultimate Silver Surfer argues that they are merely happy slaves. Also, Dr. Doom is always working on creating his "utopia", even if it means destroying the world as we know it. Hey, it's for a good cause.
  • In the indie graphic novel Artesia, there are the Templars of Agall. These guys worship a patriarchal New God, calling those still dedicated to the matriarchal Old Goddesses heretics. It's their Islik-given duty to protect His church and slay those that oppose them. They have no respect for powerful women like the main character, and in their eyes, any woman who even seems to be dabbling in magic or herbalism deserves to be burned as a witch. Not very nice guys. And they happen to be pretty badass.
  • Baron Zemo became one after his so-called reform in Thunderbolts. Zemo crafts elaborate plans to take over the world which he claims are actually to save it. Problem of course being they all still look and sound like an Evil Plan. This runs the mile of stealing power from nations he feels too stupid to wield them, making a machine to easily destroy all nuclear weapons, and lastly to instill himself with godlike powers to change the world for the better. This last one blows up in his face when his teammate betrays him in revenge and just plain not trusting him to actually mean the "for the better" part.
  • Shadow in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog becomes one in the "X Years Later" storylines. First, once Sonic leaves the timeline, he conquers Mobius and implements a totalitarian regime. He's eventually overthrown and put in stasis by Sonic, but then went From Bad to Worse: five years after being put in stasis, Shadow is freed by his loyalists. Understandably pissed at what happened, he proceeds to release Tikhaos in order to destroy Mobius, so that he can rebuild society afterwards. When Lien-Da protests, he simply kills her, sics Tikhaos on the planet, and teleports away.
  • Deadlock and the order of the Knights Martial in the ABC Warriors comics are specifically stated to be inspired by the tradition of the Knights Templar.
  • Kingdom Come. The premise being "what if The DCU experienced a metahuman population explosion, and they became Knight Templars Nineties Anti-Heroes with no regard for collateral damage or civilian casualties, thus forcing the Golden Age and Silver Age heroes out of retirement to set them straight?" Most notable of them is Magog. He ends up repenting though.
  • The eponymous Wanderer from Just a Pilgrim. If you're a raider and you meet up with him, you'd be better off just shooting yourself - there's less talking involved.
  • Usagi Yojimbo: Jei-San's goal is to eliminate the evil in the world, but there's just so darn much of it...Fortunately he doesn't seem to have a hair-trigger and can walk through town uneventfully, but when it's pressed...There's also the fact that he/it was born from "evil gods" which makes his definition of "evil" highly suspect.
  • Foolkiller from Steve Gerber's Man-Thing believes that he's on Earth to punish fools for being insufficiently godly. At least the first one did. The problem is, a lot of people have held this identity since then, and while all of them targeted "fools" the definition of that term tended to be different for each of them.
  • The Spectre sometimes goes this route, especially when he's portrayed as a completely inhuman creature that happens to use a human body as its host. He once considered annihilating New York to avenge the death of a single innocent man. Disproportionate Retribution doesn't even begin to describe The Spectre.
  • Captain Rochnan, the commander of the Vatican's Warrior Monks, in Le Scorpion.
  • The Punisher, Frank Castle, is one of the deadliest Vigilante Men in the entire Marvel Universe, with a body count that rivals most of Marvel's villains. His watchword is Pay Evil unto Evil, and when he's on one of his many vengeance sprees, the question is not "how far will he go?", but "how fast will he get there?"
  • Reverse-Flash II/Zoom/Hunter Zolomon, the Evil Counterpart to Wally West, believes he is improving the abilities of various heroes, especially Wally, by making them experience tragedy.
  • Pictured in the main page, Imperius from The Infinite.
  • Crux from Red Hood and the Outlaws. Obsessed with killing aliens? Check. Willing to go to extreme lengths to do it? Check. Honestly thinks he's the good guy, and people should praise and more over side with what he does? Check. He's so much so that he's literally perplexed when Arsenal attacks him to defend Starfire.
  • Security Chief Parahexavoctal in Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire will do anything to enforce his version of keeping the peace, including opening entire embassies to the vacuum of space.
  • Astro City had the Pale Horseman, a vengeful spirit who was manifested by extradimensional energy that was attracted to the populace's Darker and Edgier mood. He targeted all evildoers in his quest, incinerating hardened killers and jaywalkers equally.
  • The Jedi Covenant in Knights of the Old Republic. Their purpose is to look into the future in an attempt to prevent the Sith from returning. So when they see an enemy wearing the same envirosuit their apprentices use, naturally the only thing to do is murder them all! Lucien illustrates it best when he tells The Hero Zayne that a Jedi must be willing to kill innocents For The Greater Good.
  • The Five Mages in Birthright. They are a group of magic users devoted to fight against God-King Lore, a demonic tyrant that covered their world Terrenos in darkness. However, they abandoned the world after the fighting dragged out for too long and concluding that the struggle was lost, they moved on to Earth, took up human identities and had set up a barrier between both worlds to prevent Lore from invading Earth and doing the same thing he did to their world. They are absolutely zealous in preserving the barrier and they will use any measure available to stop Lore's agent on Earth such as threatening their innocent loved ones, summoning cleansing spirits with the propensity to cause collateral damage and butchering a group of police officers that were working with them just so that their murders can be pined on Lore's agent and turn them into national-level terrorists.
  • Crimson:
    • Appropriately enough, The Knights Templar are an organization devoted to destroying all monsters, regardless if they are good or evil. They capture The Chosen One fated to save the world, and subject him to torture for being a vampire before trying to execute him. Their elite members, the Order of the Dragon, are somehow even worse because they hunt angels along with monsters, harvesting their body parts, turning it into drugs to enhance themselves in combat. Their logic is that the Heaven has sent angels to help them fight darklings, so its their reward to use them as any way they see fit.
    • Not that the angels themselves are any better. Specifically, the Angelic Host composed of six Archangels visit mortals during Christmas to dispense judgment on them, punishing an AIDS victim the same way as a mother who allowed her daughter to die in the cold. They nearly execute the main protagonist for being a vampire too if it wasn't for the timely arrival of Satan, who voted to spare him. Its quite telling how much of an assholes the angels are that the freakin' Devil looks nice in comparison.
  • The Ultimates (2015): Master Order, anthropomorphic personification of order, starts turning into one after Galactus attains his true purpose. Insisting this disrupts the status quo, Order tries forcing him to change back, and Galactus responds by punching his teeth out. The next time Order reappears, he's nursing a grudge, demanding Galactus change back, and when the Living Tribunal decides he doesn't have to, Order murders it, and merges with his brother Chaos to form a misshapen thing called Logos, which decides to start enforcing its idea of order on the universe by force. Galactus does try pointing out something is making Order act this way, but by the time he does it's a little too late.