Think kind people are weak? Then you haven't met Sayaka Rama of Demon City Shinjuku. She is Silk Hiding Steel and able to stop a fire-demon formed from the condensed hatred and grief from 10 years of murdered and orphaned children from killing The Herowith sheer kindness and love alone, and redeeming the demon so she can to go to heaven to reunite with her mother. Don't underestimate kindness.
Usually, though, he just keeps dodging until his opponents do themselves in.
That said, he's known for ironically-named martial arts moves like "PACIFIST CRUSH!" and "GOODWILL TO ALL MANKIND KICK!".
Relena Darlian-Peacecraft from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. Jumps in front of a gun to save a guy who had a gun pointed at her just a minute ago and tells her would-be saviour off for his crude methods. Later flies an airplane in between two gigantic machines of mass destruction in mid-combat to save the same guy's ass once again and tell his attacker that his cruelty and underhanded tactics are a disgrace to the name, country and ideals he claims to stand for (namely hers). Would rather have her country surrender than let her pacifist ideals be the cause of bloodshed, and makes such an impression while doing exactly that that the people attacking her country promptly "invite" her to become their figurehead, so they can convince the masses that they were on the side of the good guys all along. She accepts and makes them regret it. Physically insignificant, but her sheer strength of will and unwavering idealism (give or take a slip-up or two, but nobody's perfect) earns her the admiration of everyone from the guy who started out wanting to kill her to the resident Magnificent Bastard, as well as a promising career as a politician.
Actually, the slip-up happened when she still wasn't a 100% pacifist and facing Lady Une, the woman who assassinated her father. To drive the point further, by the end of the series Lady Une actually gives Relena a gun and asks her to take revenge properly, but she refuses to do so and says it's useless.
In Gundam 00, Celestial Being, the organization the protagonists are part of, qualify. To clarify, Celestial Being is a Private Armed Organization, whose sole mission is to rid the world of all kinds of conflict. Whether it's a major world war, a small dispute over a facility, or at one point, a country that claims independence from a larger nation, that then starts attacking the newly independent country. CB decides to intervene and attacks both sides. The large nation gets attacked for using military force to take over another country, the smaller country gets attacked for starting the conflict, which then leads to the smaller country fusing with the bigger one again. They do succeed, somewhat, since they manage to focus the combined wrath of the three military superpowers against CB.
Kenji from 20th Century Boys. He admits early on that he was a failure at martial arts because he doesn't like hitting people, but that doesn't stop him from making the impostor Friend break down in the end by apologizing to him.
Belldandy from Ah! My Goddess. She has power but lacks the killer instinct required to make a good fighter. Unlike her spunkier sisters, she abhors violence (however, when mind controlled by the movie's Big Bad she easily dispatches Urd's true form).
She also has a Valkyrie (heavenly fighter) license, because she "likes collecting such useless awards".
Admiral Yang Wen-Li from Legend of Galactic Heroes epitomizes this trope. He understands the waste of human life and foolishness of the war he is fighting, and is merciful to his enemies, but he is probably the best commander in the entire series.
Rock of Black Lagoon has managed to talk down some of the most violent, dangerous people on the planet while unarmed and with a gun to his head, on multiple occasions. He doesn't always qualify, with several moments of violence, but he has a number of textbook acts, most notably the... debate...with Revy in episode 7 and with Balalaika in the Yakuza arc.
Tohru Hondaspeaks gently to Akito Sohma, who is in the midst of her Villainous Breakdown... and it works. (To put it on perspective, she did this towards an older woman who is lashing out in both fear and madness— and has been swinging a bloodied knife around.) When Tohru nearly falls victim to Death by Falling Over, rather than gloat, Akito screams for help, marking the beginning of her Heel-Face Turn. And even earlier, she successfully got Kyo to calm down when he was in his cursed form — again in perspective, cursed!Kyo is foul, huge, smells like rotten flesh, and also totally desperate, as it's the trademark of the cat's position as The Unfavorite.
Lucy from Fairy Tail is a bit of a subversion but she has several moments of this. For example, she managed to convince the SPIRIT KING not to punish Loke. Also, she took a vicious beating from Gajeel and still taunted him.
Nausicaa falters on this a little from time to time, violently killing a Torumekian soldier in the first book, but she still manages to be an intense Messiah-figure. She once stopped a swarm of stampeding Ohmu by blowing a bug whistle and talking them down.
Yugi Mutou of Yu-Gi-Oh! fame. He might beat you in a children's card game, sure, but he'll never use violence— he hates it— and, for the most part, tries to talk villains out of their evil ways, even befriending them.
Vash the Stampede from Trigun. Anyone who can win so many battles without spilling so much as a drop of blood deserves all kinds of respect.
The main character of Angel Densetsu, Kitano Seiichiro, mostly qualifies for this. His fighting style consists of letting people hit him until they grow tired. Usually because he misunderstands the situation and believes himself to be deserving of the pain or, in one instance, *not* understanding the reason he's being attacked, and thus refusing to give up. Of course, he typically finishes off his opponents with a double palm strike, but he is actually attempting to push them out of the way, for one reason or another, not hit them. Only towards the end of the series does he intentionally hit enemies - once, IIRC - and even then only in order to prevent further violence and protect his friends.
The main character from Golden Boy is one of these as well — or at least is aspiring to be one. When he was attacked and resorted to punching his assailant out, he revealed that — among the other training he's done — he is a master black belt, but felt that he has failed all of his learning by resorting to violence, and that he still has more to learn.
Yako Katsuragi from Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro becomes this during the course of the series, able to use her ability to understand people and her sincerity to stop a mind control expert, an AI of nearly unlimited intelligence based off of an Omnidisciplinary scientist, a shape shifting superhuman killer who can read minds, and an entire rebel army. She gains the respect of the most powerful being in the human and demon worlds, and at the end of the manga she has become world famous for her abilities.
In Pokémon, Ash's Bulbasaur became this when he became a mediator for the feuding Grass and Water type Pokemon at Professor Oak's lab.
Katsuichi from Usagi Yojimbo, lets a bunch of bandits get away with their provisions when he could easily have kicked their asses.
More often he's a Martial Pacifist, but in that particular tale he follows this trope.
In the popular Swedish comic book Bamse, the titular character is "the strongest bear in the world", yet detests violence. When there was a switch of author and the new author let Bamse fight an octopus, there was an audience outrage so great that the authors had to issue a public apology. Bamse will, however, happily toss villains up trees to keep them out of the way... even pine trees. Ow.
To a lesser extent, Donatello from the original TMNT comics was described as a pacifist, but is clearly still badass.
The Blue Lantern Corps was specifically designed to be this. Rather than adding another group of power ring waving warriors, they are selected from the ranks of spiritual leaders and tasked with providing healing and moral support to others as opposed to blasting bad guys.
Doctor Leslie Thompkins is a close friend of Bruce Wayne, and she is never afraid to stand up to him and give a verbal beatdown about the life of violence he has chosen. She also won't hesitate a moment to personally provide treatment to a critically injured insane serial killer. She chooses to work in the worst, most crime-ridden areas of Gotham despite offers of more prestigious and high-paying positions because she believes that is where she is most needed. Doctor Thompkins is fully aware of what a cruel world it is out there, and that only makes her feel it is all the more important to not pay evil unto evil.
She once stood between Victor Zsasz and her clinic full of injured people. She persuaded him to stay his hand on her for several long moments.
Zsasz would be precisely the insane serial killer whose life Thompkins had just saved. Earlier while he was lying comatose in her infirmary, Killer Croc came to kill him while he was helpless. Thompkins stopped Killer Croc as well, by firmly standing her ground and talking.
In Transformers Dark Cybertron, Megatron of all people has a Heel Realization when he remembers that he was much closer to accomplishing his goals back when he was a pacifist. He nearly had all of Cybertron in his grasp when words were his only weapon. In his own words, he lost the war the moment he became violent.
In Kill Bill, Hattori Hanzo is the greatest swordsmith in the world, and apparently an authority on swordsmanship as well. At some point in time, he vowed to never make another object that could kill, and retired to run a restaurant. He later broke his vow, and made "The Bride" the sword she used to have her Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch is spat upon by Bob Ewell. Atticus looks the man in the eye as he wipes the spit off with a handkerchief, and it is apparent that the man is intimidated by Atticus's mere presence. Atticus leaves without laying a hand on the contemptible man, but it is clear who the stronger of the two is.
Mirana, the White Queen in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. Her sister Iracebeth usurped her throne, stole her crown, and exiled her to a small corner of the realm while wreaking gleeful havoc upon the land and its residents. When the time for vengeance was at hand, Mirana acknowledged that the appropriate punishment would be death; instead, however, she banished Iracebeth to the Outlands and forbade any of the citizenry to ever speak a word to her for the rest of her life — and the way she did it, you knew she meant business. Because this was her first act as restored monarch, it managed to be a Crowning Moment Of Awesome and an Awesome Moment of Crowning all at once.
How to Train Your Dragon has Hiccup taming dragons as a result of him being friendly to them instead of defending himself against them. That alone takes more courage than just to kill dragons on sight.
Broken Sword and the calligraphy school he lives at in Zhang Yimou's Hero. During a rain of arrows on the school by the Qin army the artists continue to write at their desks, even as many are killed in the assault. When Broken Sword's brush is destroyed by an arrow he snatches an arrow out of the air, breaks the tip and uses it as a brush. Finally, rather than allow the Qin emperor to be assassinated, the same one who ordered the destruction of his school, Broken Sword convinces the movies protagonist to spare him, realizing that the end to war only emperor can achieve is too important to prevent.
Kevin Flynn in TRON: Legacy has nearly god-like abilities in the Grid, but he cannot use them against Clu because Clu was a program based off Flynn himself, and as a sort of dark mirror image of Kevin, he grows stronger when Kevin tries to fight him directly. Instead, Kevin restricts his powers to more subtle and nonviolent, but no less potent, applications, like healing damaged programs, reprogramming them to be helpful, or stopping a crashing elevator by overriding the physics it is based on. In one particularly memorable scene, he showcases his powers by winning a losing battle simply by showing up.
In Inherit the Wind, Henry Drummond, a secularist attorney played by Spencer Tracy, is an aging man who takes a lot heat from everybody, but he never loses his cool demeanor and instead turns words into weapons to defend his cause with a respectworthy dignity. All in the middle of a hostile town where death threats are matter-of-factly sung.
Umasi from Truancy and Truancy: Origins. Possibly the most skilled fighter in the series, but only actually fights once in the first book (not counting the Training from Hell).
Dorfl the golem in the Discworld books commands this sort of respect, though mostly because of his status as a free golem. A normal golem doesn't harm people because they're magically prevented from doing so, while Dorfl doesn't because he's decided it's wrong. This leaves some people with the worrying feeling that, given enough provocation, he might reconsider. Also he has glowing red eyes.
Also, Brutha from Small Gods. The only person he hits in the book is Simony (it was a reactionary blow), yet he talks Om into doing his bidding.
Dallben the Enchanter from the Chronicles of Prydain. When Caer Dallben is attacked, he does not lift a finger to defend himself - though he makes it clear to his attacker that if he dies, the attacker's life is forfeit. The attacker taunts that Dallben actually cannot kill. But Dallben tricks him into looking into the Book of Three, where his death is foretold. The book fries him.
"I don't want you to kill anymore. Not for their sake, but for yours."
Live Action TV
Arthur Fonzarelli from Happy Days, who on so many occasions, ends fights without throwing a single punch... at his opponents.
Kyle of Kyle Xy. All he did in fights until season 3 was spam Deadly Dodging over and over again till his attacker stopped. With his crazy ass reflexes, this actually worked.
Byron, the leader of the telepath colony in Babylon 5. The guy just stands there while a bigot punches his face in, and each time the bigot punches him in the face he stands up again. He manages to turn the act of standing up into a bassass act of defiance, all without any overt aggression.
Not only that, he actually told the guy to hit him, repeatedly, just to make his point.
Byron: "Was one the same as three? Was three the same as one and two?"
Byron: "Was there any difference between one, two, and three?"
Thug: "I ... I ..."
Byron: "And what would you expect to get out of four, five, and six that you did not get out of one, two, and three? Your anger has nothing to do with me. What will satisfy your anger will never come from me or anyone else here. I'm afraid you must look for it elsewhere."
Unfortunately, Byron's pacifism tends to take that sort of self-destructive form all the time - he almost seems to long for personal martyrdom more than he does for Telepath liberation. Even more unfortunately, he doesn't succeed in spreading the pacifist message to all of his followers...
In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Savage Curtain", powerful Excalibian aliens capture Kirk and Spock to pit them in the ultimate battle between "Good" and "Evil", recreating from their memories what they perceive as representatives of "Good" (Abraham Lincoln for Kirk, Surak of Vulcan for Spock) and "Evil" (a rogues gallery of the greatest tyrants in history, from Genghis Khan to World War III strongman Colonel Green). As they prepare to fight to the death, Surak insists to Kirk that they must attempt to make peace with the "Evil" representatives. Kirk is ready to give the same speech he's given in half a dozen other episodes to native aliens of several planets about the imperative to rise up and bravely fight off evil — but for once, the "alien" points out to Kirk that just because they disagree about how to handle violence doesn't mean that Kirk's way is automatically morally superior. Surak (politely but firmly) informs Kirk that he is fully aware that if he heads to the "Evil" camp offering peace, they will almost certainly kill him. However, as a man of peace, Surak refuses to abandon his principles of non-violent pacifism, believing that this isn't a test of their ability to survive, but of their values and belief in peace. Surak leaves for the "Evil" camp, alone and unarmed. Even Kirk is moved to remark to Spock that "your Surak is a brave man", to which Spock replies "Men of peace usually are, Captain". Surak is indeed later killed by the "Evil" characters after offering them peace: the audience is left to decide on their own if Surak's actions were better than Kirk's.
The Doctor in Doctor Who, who rarely takes up arms, almost never engages in physical violence (except during his third incarnation), and in many episodes has been seen defeating armies by simply talking to them. A recent example being the 2010 episode "The Eleventh Hour".
It must be stressed that The Doctor is not a pure pacifist, a mistake some of his enemies have made on occasion: he dislikes resorting to violence, and is such a genius that he can usually think of some way to defeat the enemy non-violently. He also frequently sabotages the weapons of evil aliens so that they blow up in their face when fired, i.e. "reversing the polarity" on an alien mothership's doomsday weapon so it blows up the mothership itself. Even in these circumstances, The Doctor will try to urge the invading aliens not to attack, and if they do and get destroyed, it could be argued that it made karmic sense for them to be destroyed by their own doomsday weapon. Still, there have been even rarer occasions when The Doctor actually shoots and kills an enemy, plain and simple, when he felt he had no other choice.
Another example of The Doctor embodying this trope is the episode "A Good Man Goes To War" where he defeats an entire army specifically dedicated to destroying him, all without a drop of blood spilled.
Hines: For a man that doesn't like violence, you certainly know a lot about it. MacGyver: Exactly...
Guinevere from Merlin dislikes violence and could under no circumstances be described as an Action Girl (though she wields a sword on a couple of occasions, she's clearly not that good at it, and she remains the only main character to have never taken a life). However, she embodies the Silk Hiding Steel trope, and at the beginning of series four, she witnesses the city gates being closed on refugees flocking to Camelot to escape the evil spirits invading the kingdom. She, a female servant, confronts the council of noble-born men, and using nothing but common sense and her own understanding of human nature, convinces all of them that their wisest choice of action is to re-open the gates and allow people to seek refuge in the city. They comply.
Kieren in In The Flesh manages to save the lives (un-lives?) of two zombies so they can be treated by staring down the barrel of a gun and convincing the group to capture them for extra profit rather than kill them. Said group was known for a pathological hatred of zombies, oh and Kieren is a zombie himself so he's barely in a better position than the feral zombies he's protecting.
Private Godfrey in Dad's Army. In one episode it's revealed that he was a conscientious objector during the First World War, causing many of his friends to regard him as a coward and lose respect for him. He earns it all back by the end of the episode when it's further revealed that he applied for training as a field medic, and won medals for bravery by venturing into No Man's Land in search of wounded soldiers and carrying them on his back, across the barbed wire and minefields of the Battle of the Somme, to safety. He thinks that his Milatary medal is "too garish" for someone like him.
Savatage wrote a couple of songs relating to Badass Pacifists.
"Chance" was written about Chiune Sugihara, "the Japanese Oskar Schindler". See the Real Life section below.
The Rock OperaDead Winter Dead features an old man who plays cello in a bombed out town square in defiance of the The Yugoslav Wars raging around him. This old man is based on Vedran Smailovic, who did play the cello during the siege of Sarajevo and fortunately didn't die in the process like his fictional counterpart.
subverted, actually. there's the times he drove the moneychangers out of the temple with a whip, destroying their property in the process. or the time he explicitly stated that his purpose was not to bring peace, but to bring war. or when he told all his disciples to take up their swords, and if they didn't have one, to sell their belongings and buy one. not nearly as much of a pacifist as he is said to be.
Following Jesus' example, many early Christians were notable for nonviolent acts of badassery. Examples include:
St. Martin of Tours, a soldier who volunteered to go into battle unarmed rather than violate his conscience. That particular battle was canceled.
St. Lawrence of Rome, who was burnt to death as a martyr. His last words were "Turn me over, I'm done on this side."
St. Symeon the Stylite, who lived atop a stone pillar in the middle of the desert Syria for 36 years because the typical fifth-century life was just too soft. (When a maggot fell out of one of his sores, he put it back in with the words, "Here, worm, eat what the Lord thy God hath provided.")
The Dalai Lama - while the current incarnation is a wonderful example (particularly in his ability to Speak Truth To Power, many of the prior incarnations have been pretty stellar, too.
From Dungeons & Dragons there's the prestige class known as the Apostle of Peace. In order to get there you have to take vows of poverty and nonviolence which basically stop you owning anything or hitting anything. However, once you are there, weapons just shatter when they hit you and you can make demons recoil by basically just saying "Bad boy! Go to your room!"
Lorette Strider in Traveller. She was a great interstellar explorer and worked for understanding between the Terrans and the Vilani. However she was one of the first killed in the Interstellar Wars, because of course she was Too Good for This Sinful Earth.
Eliwood from Fire Emblem can fight, but his greatest crowning moment of awesome is during a non-battle scene.
Elincia, queen of Crimea from Fire Emblem Tellius is very much the same. To wit; she was unable to talk two warring factions from battling within the borders of her country. So she rode between them, laid down her sword, and pretty much said "Go ahead, but I'm not moving". It... kinda worked? I guess? Half of both sides backed down.
The Nameless Mod for Deus Ex let you play without hurting a single life. In the original game you could almost, but not quite get to that point.
Iji can be played as one, as she never technically has to kill anyone herself.
The player has the option of making Naked Snake into one of these in Metal Gear Solid 3, by tranquilizing or sneaking past any adversaries instead of killing them (except for the various mini-bosses). The game even rewards this conduct by making what could otherwise be an incredibly difficult section of gameplay easier based on how much mercy you have shown; the fewer mooks you've killed, the easier it is.
One of the largest point bonuses in the Super Smash Bros. series is rewarded for not attacking at all during a level. Thanks to Artificial Stupidity, it can be fairly easy to get with a minor understanding of a given character's AI.
In Persona 4, Rise Kujikawa. First off, the boss fight against her shadow follows Heads I Win, Tails You Lose. Then, not only is her subconscious apparently invincible, but when the next boss comes up, she immediately takes over as Mission Control. Not badass yet? Well consider that she can still perform the Mission Control job while not wearing the glasses everyone has, and she had just gotten her Persona, whereas everyone else can barely stand after getting theirs.
For the majority of the game, it is possible to play Norman Jayden from Heavy Rain as this.
Dragon Age II has GrandClericElthina, head of the Kirkwall Chantry. She's loving, forgiving, and she's the main reason that Kirkwall's mages and templars haven't murdered each other. At one point, she effortlessly defuses a riot, stops a fight between Orsino and Meredtih, the two most powerful people in the city, and basically tells them to go to their rooms. They obey.
Harry Mason from Silent Hill: Shattered Memories never kills, attacks or otherwise injures the enemies chasing him. That doesn't stop him from being an unstoppable Determinator when it comes to finding his daughter.
Fallout and Fallout 2 lets you play as one; using guile, intelligence, and charisma, you can do damn near anything, including talking the final boss into killing himself, all without taking a single life or even holding a gun. Also present to a lesser extent in Video Game/Fallout3, although there are some people you need to kill, but it's back in full force in Fallout: New Vegas, able to convince the final boss to back off if you're a good enough talker.
In Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Phoenix Wright is this. Unlike the rest of the roster, none of his moves are fighting moves in the technical sense. For example, his standing light attack has him showing the opponent some documents, while his crouching light attack has Nick looking for clues on the floor.
(One of his winquotes) I'm not really into this fighting stuff unless it's in a courtroom. …Oh, and with words!
Maytag from Flipside feeds her arm to a monster and befriends it in an act of badass pacifism. On the other hand, she's much less pacifistic when she's not involved with an unkillable monster after having her access to weapons stripped from her.
Nick from General Protection Fault, near the end of Surreptitious Machinations, has just been apprised of the true purpose of Velociraptor and is walking away from Trudy with Ki, who warned him. Trudy pulls an If I Can't Have You, putting a gun to his head. He turns around, stands perfectly still and says "You do what you feel you have to, Trudy." She backs down.
The Ultimate Diplomat from The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, who can make trained soldiers and ninjas sheepishly throw their weapons away with a single sentence of chastisement.
Tavros Nitram is either this trope or a fatalistic Broken Bird: he has epic psychic abilities, but refuses to use them in combat. note He doesn't get much screentime, and spends most of it being kickedaround by Vriska, (a serial killer who is much, muchstronger than him) so it's difficult to tell. It's worth noting, however, that he lived to adolescence on a Death World ruled by a Proud Warrior Race that actively oppressed him because of his low caste. And that he's one of the sanest, most emotionally stable trolls.
Folder, of the Whateley Universe. Once, when his psychic powers came on, he accidentally destroyed his best friend's arm. Because of that, he will not attack anyone, and will not defend himself when attacked. The teachers at Whateley Academy can't get him to defend himself against violent bullies that he could rip apart if he chose to.
The Gandhi vs. Martin Luther King, Jr episode of Epic Rap Battles of History features a paradoxical version of this: two men engaged in an intense rap battle to out-peace each other. It ends in hugging.
MLK: I will forgive you so hard.
Gandhi: I'm passively resisting the fact that you suck!
Clay in Xiaolin Showdown was the resident Big Guy martial artist. In contrast to what being a Texan Cowboy with Earth based Elemental Powers would have you think about his character, he was very centered, low key and perhaps the wisest of the Xiaolin Warriors. This was demonstrated early on by winning a Xialoin Showdown themed on catching a bird not by chasing after it, but by spreading seeds at his feet.
Lisa Simpson (before her Flanderization, that is) used words, speeches, blackmail, and trickery to deal with her problems. Later, however, she became a lot more willing to resort to violence.
First Aid from Transformers gets a spotlight episode highlighting his pacifism. He refuses to fight, but ends up being fine with climbing inside Metroplex and performing crucial repairs while the big guy is in the middle of combat.
Lifeline from G.I. Joe qualifies. As a medic, he refused to fight, and during one episode ordered those under his command to fire warning shots only. However, when a member of the team was poisoned, Lifeline undertook the task of finding and collecting venom from a giant cobra to make an anti-venom, even after taking a heavy dose of the cobra's poison himself.
In "Keep Calm and Flutter On", Fluttershy and her friends were given the seemingly impossible task of reforming Discord. Fluttershy's effort to befriend him was key actually accomplishing this goal. In other words, she managed to make a reality warpingMad God do a Heel-Face Turn by simply being nice to him.
Zeta from The Zeta Project. Despite being designed and programmed to be an assassin-bot, he refuses to carry weapons, or ever attack or harm a human being. He faces down an impressive number of foes, including those more than willing to use deadly force on him, his Action Girl companion, or bystanders, without ever once violating this (excluding the rare occasions where he is under the robot equivalent of Mind Control). This is the result of his character development in Batman Beyond, where he started out willing to use force against his enemies.
The title character of Wander Over Yonder as demonstrated in "The Troll" where he defeats the titular Jerkass troll by simply kicking back and ignoring his insults.
Tank Man may not have accomplished his goal, but that photograph has yet to be matched in worldwide exposure of a single person's bravery amid insurmountable odds.
Mohandas Gandhi endured a great deal of hardship while engineering his vision of nonviolent civil disobedience as a means to social change. His activism is considered a major factor in winning India's independence. Gandhi repeatedly insisted that pacifism is a braver action than violence, and even admitted that he found violence preferable to cowardice.
The full quote is, "It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence." Nonviolence must be pursued with zeal, courage and conviction; you must be willing to accept death, injury or imprisonment. If you think fighting is a good idea but you're simply unwilling to risk your life yourself, then you have no place in a nonviolent movement.
Martin Luther King Jr. The man was faced with violence and hate over and over again, never involved himself in either, and changed the world.
Nonviolent social movements such as the Indian Independence movement, certain portions of the American Civil Rights Movement (though the Black Panther Party and Malcolm X were hardly the only ones to advocate more violent tactics), and Otpor! in Serbia were essentially armies of Badass Pacifists.
Sojourner Truth was born a slave, escaped to freedom in 1826, won a lawsuit against a white man to free her son Peter from slavery in Alabama, and became one of the most prominent abolitionists. The Other Wiki also informs us that " In 1858, someone interrupted a speech and accused her of being a man; Truth opened her blouse and revealed her breasts."
Military Medics. Under international law, medics are not allowed to engage in combat or be deliberately attacked. They earn a disproportionate number of Medals of Honor. However, they are allowed to act in self defense, or in defense of their patient.
Specifically, the penalty for a medic who engages in offensive action is that the medic's protected status is considered void. Likewise, medical vehicles and personnel have to be clearly identifiable and must conform to many other rules. Against nations or organizations which do not obey the laws of land warfare, this punishment is rather lacking in teeth. In the US' wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, medics did not expect insurgents to refrain from targeting them and line medics rarely refrained from assaulting with their infantrymen.
Military Chaplains are not even allowed to carry weapons in most militaries, and are thus assigned a dedicated bodyguard. (In US services, the bodyguard also works as the chaplain's assistant.)
The Finnish conscientious objector Arndt Pekurinen. Before WWII, he was repeatedly jailed (and at least once beaten by members of the Lapua movement) for refusing to serve in the army. An international petition on his behalf included the signatures of sixty British MPs, H. G. Wells and Albert Einstein. Thanks to his efforts, Finland received its first alternative to military service, but this option only covered times of peace. Pekurinen was imprisoned when the Winter War broke out and sent to the front at the beginning of the Continuation War. He refused to even wear a uniform, so he was executed without a trial.
Actor Lew Ayres became a pacifist after his role in All Quiet on the Western Front. During WW2, he enlisted as a conscientious objector. He took a lot of flak in Hollywood for it, but served with distinction in the Pacific Theatre and New Guinea. As noted above, it takes a special kind of courage to go unarmed onto a battlefield where medics were specifically targeted.
O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, once had a rather spirited disagreement with a Japanese Naval officer. The naval officer took a wooden sword and attempted to strike O-Sensei repeatedly, but O-Sensei simply dodged his attacks until the officer collapsed from exhaustion.
Paul Rusesabagina, whose story was chronicled in Hotel Rwanda. During the massacres in Rwanda in 1994, he managed to save over a thousand people who had been marked for death by sheltering them in his hotel and transporting them to safety, and standing up to corrupt military officials and screaming, machete-wielding mobs, all without raising a single firearm.
During WW2, many members of the Religious Society of Friends, more commonly known as the Quakers, attempted to reconcile their church's strict pacifism with their desire to see the fall of fascism. To this end, they often volunteered to serve as medics, going unarmed onto battlefields to save lives, rather than end them. Dangerous enough in a normal conflict, but in the Pacific Theatre and South-East Asian Theatres, where the Japanese had a habit of targeting non-combat personnel such as medics, this was borderline suicidal. But they did it anyway. Because they were Badass.
John Rabe, a German businessman in Nanjing during the Sino-Japanese war, led various foreign embassies and the Nanjing University to form a 'safe zone' in which no soldiers or fighting were permitted on the eve of the infamous massacres of 1938. In other words: John Rabe told the Japanese Army to leave his people alone, and they did. Moreover, he did it without the help of his government at the time - Nazi Germany who were allies with the Japanese. In fact, the Gestapo actually censored his letters and upon his return, arrested him. Were it not for the intervention of Siemens AG (yes, the company), he probably would have been executed. His association (despite never really being a part of it) with the Nazi party would go on to plague the remainder of his life. But his deeds in Nanjing resulted in the people of the city sending monthly care packages to his family so they wouldn't starve and he was called 'The Living Buddha of Nanjing'.
Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. While best known as the epitome of Crazy Awesome, he once dispersed an anti-Chinese riot by standing between the rioters and the Chinese, bowing his head, and reciting the Lord's Prayer until the rioters dispersed.
A story found on the Actually Pretty Funny page of this very wiki about how a friendly black preacher, Wade Watts, changed the world view of a Ku Klux Klan leader.
His exploits and humor are also detailed at #3 in the Cracked article below, and the Klan leader was Grand Dragon John Lee Clary, who eventually took to public speaking about just how messed up his world-view was when he still belonged to the KKK.
Elizabeth Fry, a Quaker who worked toward prison reforms in England. Early on, she heard about the terrible conditions in women's prisons for women and their children (who at that point in history usually stayed with their mothers in prison) and went there with a stacks of blankets and clothes. The guard tried to stop her from going in, saying that he would not even risk his own life in there with the rowdy prisoners. The story goes (for nobody wrote it down while it was happening, so "the story goes" is as best as we can do) that Elizabeth looked the guard straight in the eye and said "I am going in - and alone. I thank you for your kind intentions, but you are not to come with me." That, my friend, takes guts.
The Egyptian protesters in Tahrir Square. They faced assault by riot police and gangs of thugs armed with machetes, molotovs, and even firearms. They responded by erecting barriers, establishing their own community-organized security to keep out government infiltrators who would initiate violence, and repeatedly calling for nonviolence. There were a few situations where they would strike back at isolated attackers or throw rocks to keep their oppressors from getting to close, but for the most part they maintained their dedication to peaceful protest. And in doing so, they overthrew Hosni Mubarak, who lead one of the most firmly entrenched military dictatorships in the world.
The citizens of the Baltic states during the Singing Revolution, who, during the peak of their uprising against Communist rule, formed a huge human chain, 600 km (373 mi) long through the capital city of Estonia, to Latvia, to Lithuania. When the Soviet military cracked down on them, they linked arms and sang in the face of tanks and armour-piercing bullets that cut them down. Yes, they brought down their oppressive dictatorship through singing.
The Carnation revolution that toppled the military dictatorship of Portugal. Okay, it was a Military coup, but it succeeded because it had massive public support, and because the military forces loyal to the government flat out refused not only to fire on civilians, but refused to fire on their former comrades in arms in the revolutionary faction (The GNR Republican guard had no such qualms and killed 8 civilians). The revolution is so named because when troops marched into crowds with orders to disperse them, the crowed put carnations in the troop’s gun barrels, and the soldiers let them. The revolution is probably best summed up by these extract from the timeline on Wikipedia
1045 am: In Arsenal Street, Brigadier Junqueira dos Reis gives order to fire on Lieutenant Alfredo Assunção, who was sent by Salgueiro Maia to negotiate with the forces of Junqueira dos Reis. [The troops refuse to fire] Having again been disobeyed by his troops, he ends up punching Lieutenant Assunção three times.
As said in other tropes, Chuck Norris in real life avoids getting into fights. One time a local tough guy tried to bully Norris into giving him his seat at a bar and Norris quietly complied. Later, tough guy realized who he was talking to and asked Norris why he didn't kick his ass. Norris replied "What would it prove?"
The American Plains Indians (Lakota, Sioux, etc) had a practice called counting coup in which warriors would go unarmed into a battle and touch an enemy warrior with a coup stick. Although they were not pacifists all the time, they did this purely to be badass, thinking it more honorable than violence.
Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr. Hawa Abdi has been running a hospital in Somalia for 29 years. During this time, the hospital has been attacked numerous times, and was once even invaded outright by a militia group who barricaded her in her office and held patients captive. They eventually wound up begging her to reopen the place, and she refused to do so unless they left her alone completely and issued a written apology. Which she got. She also once walked out alone to confront (another) rebel militia group that was blocking a Red Cross supply truck, and came back not just with the supplies, but with the militia acting as an honor guard.
Chinese philosopher Mozi preached the pacifistic school of Mohism which competed with Confucianism and Daoism in its day. He once wrote how during the Warring States period he walked from warring state of Song to Chu in ten days. Once there he participated in nine war games with the chief strategist and defeated the strategist every time. When the strategist threatened him with death, he informed them that his disciples had already trained the soldiers of Song so it would be pointless to kill him. The state of Chu ended up calling off the war.
After the murder of a British soldier in Woolwich, England in May 2013, a whole series of attempted far-right demonstrations (for those where any people actually bothered to turn up) sprung up around the country and tried targeting mosques. What did a mosque in York do when it found itself victim to one of these demonstrations? It invited in the EDL and BNP members who had marched on it in for tea and biscuits, plus a friendly game of football (soccer to you yanks). The end result? The fascists left without causing any damage or further fuss.
Daniel O'Connell, aka "The Liberator", aka "The Emancipator" was an Irish politician who campaigned for equal rights for Catholics in Ireland and for Irish Independence in the 19th century. Though he killed a man in a duel when he insulted Dublin Corporation, this haunted him for the rest of his days and he tried to compensate the widow. Gandhi and Martin Luther King directed cited him as an inspiration.
When the government started cracking down on protestors in Turkey in 2013, a performance artist known as "Standing Man" (or in Turkish, Duran Adam) note real name Erdem Gündüz responded by simply walking into Taksim Square, putting his hands in his pockets, and silently standing motionless. Gradually onlookers started to join him, eventually sparking a series of similar demonstrations. Turkish officials remarked, "This is not an act of violence. We cannot condemn it."
American conscientious objectors would often enlist as smoke jumpers during World War IIto prove that they were not slackers. As most fit young men were gone off to war the forest service was very glad to have them.
Some British conscientious objectors volunteered as Bevin boys to work in coal mines for similar reasons.
Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani school girl who survived an assassination attempt on her by the Taliban is one. She said in an interview about the Taliban still coming after her, if they did, while her first instinct would be to take her shoes off to hit the assassin, she realized this would make her just like him, so she would sit there and ask for a chance to explain her choices and beliefs. Once she said her piece and if he didn't wish to speak in response, she would not fight him if he still wanted to shoot her. The result of this? She's become one of the biggest figureheads for advancement of women's rights and education, and was even nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.