By the time your knees have worn through your robe, you may have begun to learn your place.
Why? Why did my father kill [her]?! Doesn't even my father... make mistakes?
Leo Mycenae: Wh-what did you say?
Eden: Couldn't my father also make a mistake?
What are you saying lord Eden? We've sworn our loyalty to lord Mars
. That means that we must never question his actions!
This trope applies to characters that are sources of authority and those who follow them. Typically the followers have faith (sometimes blind
) in the competence
and infallibility of the authority they choose to follow. These followers would never say "My Master, Right or Wrong
", firstly because they're not evil, and secondly because the idea that this authority is capable of error and/or immorality may not even cross their mind. Thirdly, if it does they may justify it as the authority "knowing better" or having a view of the "big picture".
The authority in question rarely does much to dispel this notion and may in fact Pridefully
think of themselves as infallible to the point of having an Omniscient Morality License
(they very much don't though). While they may be a Reasonable Authority Figure
, it's common for this trope that they see themselves as unquestionable arbiters of Law and Good
(or Might Makes Right
for villains), and questioning their judgement is at the least naive foolishness or at worst tantamount to treason. The plot comes in just as they make a pretty bad error of judgement (or go crazy/evil) and a fair chunk of their subordinates/the populace disagrees with them, and the disagreement simmers into open rebellion before long.
Compare/contrast Honor Before Reason
. This is the Key Characteristic of the Ennegram Personality type 6
. See also Undying Loyalty
and My Country, Right or Wrong
open/close all folders
- Bleach: The Gotei 13 is supposed to carry out the will of the Central 46 without question. Not even the captains have the power to question the Central 46's decisions. Going against the decisions of the Central 46 is treason and even questioning their orders is forbidden. This is why Aizen chose to masquerade as the Central 46 to order Rukia's execution. This is also why Yamamoto was so angry with Ukitake and Kyouraku's treason. This is also the reason Byakuya gave Ichigo in response to the latter's question about why he was willing to support his sister's execution, although it was eventually revealed that this wasn't the full truth behind Byakuya's behaviour.
- The Quincy of the Wandenreich are all blindly obedient to their Emperor Yhwach's will. Makes sense since he's basically the God of the Quincies and he had inscribed part of his soul on all of the Sternritter, binding them to him.
- Berserk: This is the general sentiment among the first Band of the Hawk, helped by the fact that (at that point) Griffith's invincible tactics and swordsmanship still have yet to be proven wrong. It all goes to hell when Guts sticks to his original plan of leaving the Hawks, beating Griffith to do so. Griffith is so distraught that one of his men could actually leave him, he sleeps with the King's daughter, which gets him arrested and the whole Band of the Hawk declared outlaw. Griffith's Moral Event Horizon comes when, after the remaining Hawks have rescued him, still hoping he can be returned as he was, he sacrifices everyone without remorse for personal power.
- Vanilla Ice. When your immediate response to your vampire lord mentioning that he might want some blood in order to heal the scar on his neck is to cut off your own head, you know you've passed into a form of zealousy that few fanatics can even dream of achieving.
- In Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, when soldiers are sent to evacuate the town, one character points out that the soldiers are leading them further into the town meaning they are likely going to nuke the place. Another character's response? "The government wouldn't lie to us!" Much revelry was had in theaters.
- Lampshaded in Life of Brian:
Brian: Look, you've got it all wrong, you don't need to follow me; you don't need to follow anyone. You're all individuals!
Crowd: Yes! We're all individuals!
Brian: You're all different!
Crowd: Yes! We're all different!
Crowd: Shh! Shhhh!
Brian: You've all got to work it out for yourselves!
Crowd: Yes, we've got to work it out for ourselves!
Brian: Yes exactly!
Crowd: Tell us more!
Brian: No, that's the point, don't let anyone tell you what to do, otherwise... ow!
Woman in Black: That's enough.
- Similarly in An American Carol. When Malone/Moore tries to say "The government just wants to...." the juvenile lefties break into a chant of "GOVERNMENT JUST WANTS!/GOVERNMENT JUST WANTS!" When even he is exasperated and tells them to "Stop the chanting for a minute!", they respond with "STOP! DON'T CHANT!/STOP! DON'T CHANT!"
- In Animal Farm, the other animals eventually follow the pigs unquestioningly, especially Boxer, who makes "Napoleon is always right" a motto of his.
- Gunner Jergen is given this portrayal in the Ciaphas Cain novels. Although only his very first appearance (when Cain was ordering him to help him escape) really counts, since Cain doesn't tend to abuse this trait.
- In The City of Ember most people treat the mayor as a pretty infallible and sensible authority figure, which he abused to his gain. Though their city was breaking down and the power plant to their Terminally Dependent Society was nearing failure he managed to keep almost everyone content. The protagonists were some of the few to see the problem and fought to find a way out.
- In Dragon Bones, Oreg has no other option than to obey orders, he's magically bound to do it, and when he doesn't obey, he suffers horribly. However, the only time that happens on-screen, so to speak, he just wasn't able to carry out the order. As his new "owner" Ward mostly orders him to keep on doing things he has been doing anyway, there is almost no conflict about it. Only when Ward plans to give the villains the eponymous dragon bones (which Oreg was ordered to protect by a previous owner) does Oreg object - but when Ward tells him he wouldn't do it if there was a choice, he kneels down and states that he has absolute trust in Ward. This is because, at this moment, he realized that Ward would kill him on his own request, if necessary to protect the bones. He happily goes along with everything Ward wants to do from then on, and when he finally makes his request, Ward has no other choice, as, after all, he's the hero and has to do the right thing, even if the right thing consists of killing someone he'd rather protect.
- Revolution: The Monroe militia seem to follow Bad Boss General Sebastian Monroe because of this. Indeed, the episode "Children of Men" had Captain Riley talking to Captain Mark Franklin about Monroe's agenda and his misgivings over it, and Franklin more or less told him to shut up.
- In Dragon Age II, if Hawke mentions that Saarebas chose to die rather than leave the Qun, the Arishok is affronted by the human notion that such a choice should be exceptional or difficult; he'd expect no less of any Qunari.
- In Drowtales, the authority of the Kyorl'solenurn Clan is based on this, with the Judicators relying on it to keep the drowussu people in line. One of them even brags that they are so much more obedient than the other dominant race of drow. They're wrong.
- Even worse in Felde: Snadhya'rune uses mind-controlled taint to get willful obedience. On the plus side, this extends the expected lifespan of the drow from dead and/or mutated into a demon within 25 years, to potentially hundreds of years and with a symbiotic relationship with the demon instead of a constant fight for dominance. On the negative side, this pretty much kills the original personality of the mortal host and forces their subconscious to fuse with the demon, who has been hacked to be loyal to Snadhya'Rune. It's unknown what will happen if she dies, but given the clusterfuck that is Chapter 46, it ain't gonna be pretty.
- Clippy from Freefall is the robotic assistant to Mr. Kornada. Like other robots, Clippy started out with limited intelligence, but has been learning over time; unlike other robots, he almost never interacts with anyone other than Mr. Kornada, so his entire thought process is set on appeasing his every whim, which includes trying to unleash a virus on all the other robots to wipe out their intelligence so Mr. Kornada can take all their money.
- The First Empire's Daleks in Second Empire. This comes to bite the Golden Emperor very hard.
- Lets just say that this is often seen in politics and leave it at that.
- The formal sociological term for this behaviour is authoritarianism, and those that have it are authoritarians. This complex can both show up as "leaders" and "followers". An authoritarian leader will lash out strongly and violently against any challenges (real or perceived) against their leadership or authority, and an authoritarian follower will defend any decisions from their chosen authority (which in benign cases include the established authority in their environment).
- Like our fellow apes, humans are built to respect authority (common chimps are hierarchical around strong males, bonobos are more matrilineal). There's variation, of course, and it is intensely debated whether "alpha males" are leaders or just breeders.
- The work of Dr. Jonathan Haidt has elucidated that respect for authority is stronger among conservatives than adherents of all other political ideologies. This and in-group loyalty explains why conservatives are a bloc, whereas liberals are a coalition.
- This also explains Stockholm Syndrome, battered wife syndrome, and similar.
- Cults tend to be built around incredibly charismatic leaders. Combine force of personality with the enforced isolation that they also tend to adore and you can get seriously blind obedience.
- This was an explicit tenet of Bushido. Expressing even mild disapproval of your lord's actions was forbidden no matter how wrong or unjust he might be. The only legitimate way for a vassal to protest was by committing Seppuku (although issuing a "The Reason You Suck" Speech just beforehand generally got a pass if you were sufficiently polite about it.)