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Dark Shepherd
"You have two options. You can wait until I leave, and then murder Abigail. But then I'll come back. I'll slay every lice-ridden peasant, anything that moves and can't climb a tree. Or, you can lead honourable lives; clear your conscience and start again, like humans. The choice is yours."
Geralt, to an entire village of Corrupt Hicks, The Witcher

Good's version of temptation. When moral argument falls on deaf ears, a Good Shepherd might have a Dark Shepherd moment, herding the sheep along the path of righteousness with the stabby end of the crook.

If the baddie has been remonstrated in some morally sound way, once they're around the corner, safe and alone, they may suffer doubt... or perhaps he was only acting remorseful to escape, with no intention of repentance. Whether out of habit or malice, the villain is poised to forget the moral lesson and do the exact same thing that got him in trouble. At which point, the Dark Shepherd steps in.

The Good Shepherd is optimistic in his heavenly intentions and arguments, but the Dark Shepherd focuses on the evil in people. The Dark Shepherd is a spiritual Drill Sergeant Nasty who resorts to threats and fear in the sheep's moment of doubt or descent, to scare the sheep away from the edge of the cliff.

The Dark Shepherd can be evil. His point is that you shouldn't be. While his good counterpart has integrity, the Dark Shepherd has low expectations. Out of sympathy or disgust, he sees the sheep as an egocentric, thoughtlessly driven by pleasure or pain, incapable of learning, or perhaps just too addicted to bad behavior, too weak to make the right decision like a hero.

If the sheep won't do the right things for the right reasons, the Dark Shepherd encourages an alternative.

A Dark Shepherd moment can become a lasting transformation when a good character is made weak by a lapse of faith, resorting to evil methods (intimidation, insult, injury) to achieve an end. The underlying assumption can be dark: Good deeds aren't intrinsically satisfying enough. However, the Dark Shepherd may remain good and faithful if the motivation behind his action is merciful: Good is hard to understand and choose at first, so in the meantime...

Heaven is the carrot; Hell is the stick; the Dark Shepherd wields the latter.

(Watch for common markers such as surprising the sheep alone with their conscience and giving incentive that a more moral character Good Shepherd is unable to give with integrity.)

A form of Good Is Not Nice. Through the lens of Good Cop/Bad Cop, the Dark Shepherd closes the sieve. However, usually aware of the somewhat shameful nature of his persuasion, the Dark Shepherd's work is often private, behind the back of any Good Shepherd that may put a stop to it. Compare Hobbes Was Right.


Examples:

Comic Books
  • In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, the title character foils a store robbery. When the robber is tied up, the shopkeeper picks up his shotgun and threatens him with it. The Batman still has a code, though.
    Batman: Pull the trigger... and I'll be back for you.

Film
  • The twins and Il Duce of Boondock Saints have a Dark Shepherd final speech, unique in that they are warning the unidentified stray sheep via P.A.

Literature
  • The grim hermit Michael of Macedonia in the Belisarius Series is both a Good Shepherd and a Dark Shepherd, who later helps raise up an Alternate History version of the Knights Hospitalier.
  • At the end of Unseen Academicals Andy Shanks is jumped in an alleyway by Pepe, who basically says that Mr Nutt forgave him and that's lovely, but someone ought to leave him with a reminder not to do it again.
  • Harry Dresden of The Dresden Files has elements of this in how he treats his apprentice Molly, combined with Scare 'Em Straight.
    • After Cassius fakes a Heel-Face Turn and the Knights have to leave him alone, even though its blatantly obvious, Harry gives a candidate for the page quote.
    Fortunately for you, they [Michael and Sanya] are good men. Unfortunately for you... *produces baseball bat* I'm not.

Live-Action TV
  • Firefly:
    • River Tam clarifies Jayne's situation ("Also, I can kill you with my brain.") when she suspects that Simon's eloquent trust speech may not be effective. An example of an arguable good-neutral character borrowing the crook for a moment.
    • Shepherd Book from Firefly is a Good Shepherd with Dark Shepherd moments, like his "Special Hell" comments from "Our Ms. Reynolds".

Oral Tradition
  • A common joke whose basic skeleton is that an atheist challenges God to knock him down if He exists. Some audience member comes up and shoves the guy, stating: "God was busy, so He sent me." The words alone are Good Shepherd; the threat implied by the violence is Dark Shepherd.

Politics
  • Russian Stalinists think Stalin was this, and the purpose of his cruelty was scare any and all crooks, mobsters, corrupt bureaucrats and conspirators straight. Since The New Russia is particularly full of mobsters and corrupt bureaucrats, they desperately want someone to do this again.
  • Mao Zedong and Pol Pot were both ruthless leaders who were determined to create a "proletarian paradise", and had no problems in disposing millions of people they considered enemies or of no use to them.

Religion
  • The prophets who were sent by God, especially those of the Old Testament, have often preach sermons which deals with warnings of punishments to humanity if they don't repent, making this Older Than Feudalism.
    • Jesus also counts. For someone who preaches about love and forgiveness, He also (in a rather gentle manner, mind you) warns people of eternal damnation in Hell if they don't repent of their sins and accept Him as Lord and Savior.

Tabletop Games

Video Games
  • If the player chooses Renegade options in the Mass Effect trilogy, the protagonist, Shepard, will act like this. (Taking Paragon options makes them a Good Shepherd, and both courses of action have pros and cons.) Either way, Shepard ends up saving the galaxy.

Web Comics
  • Baron Wulfenbach's modus operandum in Girl Genius; since the aristocracy can't be relied on to develop a decent society, he'll civilize Europa with an iron fist. The main law of his empire is thus: "Don't make me come over there." His son Gil is struck with an epiphany of this, after beating down a thug persistently strong-arming him into returning to his father against Gil's protests.

Western Animation
  • Batman: The Animated Series is full of classic Dark Shepherd, usually used on civilians who are corrupt but not yet evil. The Batman doesn't claim to be good, he doesn't act good, but he wants everyone to be good. Most common Dark Shepherd scenario: vanishing, leaving a potential villain with food for thought, but not a scratch on him yet.
  • Sister Butch of John Callahan's Quads!. Her only motivation (read: only motivation) for doing anything in life is her faith, and you'd better believe she'll do anything from threaten people with eternal damnation for not donating enough to a charity to breaking and entry to taking on Satan in a wrestling arena for that purpose.
  • A Book 3 episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender has Katara become this when Zuko joins the group. She basically threatens to kill him if she even thinks he's about to go back to his old ways.
    • Unalaq from Sequel Series The Legend of Korra wants unity of the Water Tribes whether they want it or not. That, and he also sets up Tonraq to be banished from the North by destroying the spirit forest so that he could be chieftain instead.

Anti-AntichristQuirky GoodHoly Is Not Safe
Crazy SurvivalistPragmatism TropesDeath by Pragmatism
Darkness-Induced Audience ApathyCynicism TropesDespair Event Horizon
Good ShepherdReligion TropesHijacked by Jesus
Dark Is Not EvilGoodness TropesDress-Coded for Your Convenience
I Will Tear Your Arms OffThreatening TropesDeath Glare

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