For Great Justice

"The never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way."

A stock reason given in the opening/narration of a show. This is why the good guys in some shows (particularly Anime, Kaiju, and Toku) fight against evil. It's for justice, righteousness, principles and values that depend more on what people deserve than on what they enjoy. It's a good reason to launch all your fighters or Humongous Mecha and beat the stuffings out of rubber suit monsters.

This seems like Concepts Are Cheap, but these shows can have fully developed plots. This is just mainly applied to the trailers, narration, and theme songs. Then again, much of the audience is here to watch giant monsters and robots fight, so why worry about deep motives?

This trope has become somewhat anachronistic since the 1990s, with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arguably being one of the last pure examples of it. Most heroes nowadays tend to have more complex motivations than simple, unblemished goodness or altruism, and some aren't necessarily more morally desirable than the villains they fight.

Compare For Science!, Captain Geographic, Captain Patriotic, Captain Space, Defender of Earth!, For Happiness.

The Evil Counterpart is For the Evulz. Do NOT confuse with Justice Will Prevail, a more complicated topic to say the least.

This is Older Than Print, with early examples going all the way back to Đe Fađer of Engelish Lytterature hymselfe, Geoffrey Chaucer.


    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga  
  • America in Axis Powers Hetalia:
    America: Should we not fight in the name of justice?
    America: Let the hammer of righteousness strike deep into the heart of evil!
  • Slayers: This is Princess Amelia Seiryuun's schtick throughout the series, which she gets from her father, Prince Phil. In addition to suffering form Chronic Hero Syndrome (which annoys Lina, to no end), she proudly proclaims herself to be a champion of love, peace, and justice and will smite the hell out of evil with dropkicks, suplexes, and really big, EXTREMELY HEAVY blunt objects.
  • Many Go Nagai works have or at the very least lampshade this.
  • Tekkon Kinkreet: "This is Agent White reporting! Keeping the peace, doing my best to fight the bad guys, wherever they may be. Over and out."
  • Kazemakase Tsukikage Ran: Meow will fight anyone for this reason. She even calls herself 'The Beauty of Justice'
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Mami's Leitmotif is "Credens Justitiam" (Believe In Justice). Sayaka also has this philosophy, but goes WAY too far with it.
  • The World Government Marines in One Piece have a bit of a thing for justice. Aside from having the characters for justice printed on captain-rank officer's coats, several prominent personnel tend to have their own take on the concept; Admiral Aokiji has "Lazy Justice," Admiral Akainu has "Absolute Justice," Rob Lucci has "Dark Justice," etc.
    • It is even discussed during the Whitebeard War arc when Doflamingo laughed when Marines were crying out they were fighting for "Justice." Doflamingo pointed out how history will be written by the winner and if the Marines win, it will be a just win and if the pirates win, it too will be just.
  • Invoked by the less-dead-than-advertised Maria Ross in her stirring radio address during the Promised Day, in Fullmetal Alchemist. She lampshades it when speaking to Breda afterward. "Everyone cares about justice. So I used it."
  • Student Council President Els Tasmin of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid has this as her world-view, what with having a Barrier Jacket called Black Justice, a Device that takes the form of handcuffs, and lines such as "bad students will be punished" and "Justice will prevail". Naturally, she sees gang leader Harry Tribeca as The Rival.
  • Athrun Zala's general theme and goal in Gundam Seed Destiny is seeking a correct, fair justice for the universe, contrasting Kira Yamato's goal for everlasting freedom, and Shinn's defending of a predetermined destiny.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman: The first quote is the modified form of the radio intro which was used on the first television series. It might have been the Trope Maker.
    • Superman is actually a subversion of this though. He's mainly concerned with For Happiness, spending most of his time doing random acts of kindness like stopping floods, chasing off supervillains, and plucking kittens out of trees. He doesn't much care what supervillains do as long as they're not hurting anyone (or being Lex Luthor). Writers have him bandy the term "justice" around a lot, but crimefighters like Batman and The Flash are a lot more focused on criminal justice than Superman is.
    • It would be more accurate to say that Superman maintains a balance between For Great Justice and For Happiness, for the most part. Over the years, Superman's motivations to do good have changed. In some stories, he wants people to be happy. In others, he wants to bring evildoers to justice. It's all Depending on the Writer.
  • In PS238, an elementary school for the children of superheroes (and villains), some of the superkids have picked up an odd habit:
    Kid #1: To the cafeteria!
    Rest of the class: FOR JUSTICE!
  • The much criticized Justice League: Cry for Justice has a lot of the characters saying that they "want justice!" despite the fact that they are really just out for revenge.
  • While the X-Men have a somewhat more original concept, and had some of the first antivillains in American comics, the promos for the cartoons would talk about using mutant powers "for the benefit of mankind."
  • Judge Dredd. While he can often come across as an uncompromising jerk, people too often forget that the Judge really does embody the Lawful half of Lawful Neutral, and his primary motivation in doing so, is his conviction that his society will not survive without it.

  • The Godfather is all about this.
    • Amerigo Bonasera, at the start of the movie, tells Vito Corleone that great justice is the reason for his visit. Justice, in Bonasera's view, meant killing the two young men who hurt his daughter. The Don agrees to grant a favor of justice (but not to kill) in return for Bonasera's "friendship" and the respectful address of "Godfather."
    Bonasera: ''Then I said to my wife, "For justice, we must go to Don Corleone."
    Don Corleone: I understand. You found paradise in America. You had a good trade, you made a good living. The police protected you and there were courts of law. So you didn't need a friend like me. Now you come and say "Don Corleone, give me justice." But you don't ask with respect. You don't offer friendship. You don't even think to call me "Godfather." You come into my house on the day my daughter is to be married and you ask me to do murder - for money.
    Bonasera: I ask you for justice.
    Don Corleone: That is not justice. Your daughter is alive.
    Bonasera: Let them suffer then, as she suffers!

  • In Star Wars, Obi-Wan described the Jedi as "the guardians of peace and justice". Of course, he was talking to a young-for-his-age twenty-ish rube with stars in his eyes.

  • This is the driving force behind the Knights of the Cross in The Dresden Files. No matter what their background, the Knights are driven by the sole purpose of righting wrongs, fighting evil, and protecting the innocent. In a setting that at best runs on Grey and Gray Morality, they are unquestionably the Good Guys.
    • Shifts a little later when it's revealed that they're Heaven's mortal players in preserving free will by redeeming the hosts of the Denarians at swordpoint. Any other good they do is more a result of judicious recruitment than being in the job description.
    • Harry fights bullies. It takes him a little while to figure it out - but in the flashback to his formative duel with He Who Walks Behind, it's violence against the helpless that he wont run from.
    No, it wasn't. But the world wasn't a fair place, was it? And I had more reason to know it than most people twice my age. The world wasn't nice, and it wasn't fair. People who didn't deserve it suffered and died every single day.
    So what? So somebody ought to do something about it.
    • Murphy upholds the law. She's not a terribly devout Christian, but she has Faith in the law, and it's more than enough to give her a standing job offer among the Knights of the Cross.
  • Tom Joad's famous speech at the end of The Grapes of Wrath. "Wherever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever they's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there..."
  • Don Quixote in a nutshell, especially in The Man From La Mancha.

     Live Action TV  
  • Angel. "We live as though the world is as it should be, in order to show it what it can be." Angel initially thinks that he does what he does, in order to gain redemption and avoid going to Hell; but he eventually realizes that he helps people simply because doing the right thing is an inherent part of his identity.
  • Angel's evil alter-ego, Angelus, made light of this trope several years earlier on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
    Angelus: Wherever there's injustice in the world, wherever scum like you is out walking— (notices wheelchair) —well, rolling the streets, look over your shoulder. I'll be there.
    • Spike, hilariously, when he discovers his chip only prevents him from hurting humans. Demons are fair game.
      Spike: What’s this? Sitting around watching the telly while there’s evil still afoot. That’s not very industrious of you. I say we go out there (Rubs his hands together) and kick a little demon ass! What, can’t go without your Buffy, is that it? Too chicken? Let’s find her! She is the Chosen One after all. – Come on! Vampires! Grrr! Nasty! Let’s annihilate them. For justice - and for - the safety of puppies – and Christmas, right? Let’s fight that evil! - Let’s kill something!
    • When Faith does a body swap with Buffy, she initially mocks Buffy's sense of morality, telling herself she won't be bad "because it's wrong." After living Buffy's life for a while, however, she comes to appreciate the change, and when towards the end she tells a group of vamps she won't let them kill innocents "because it's wrong," she means it sincerely.
    • Buffy had her moments of this, as at least later in this series she opposed consequential ethics, and this is the trope of deontological opposition to it. Her big moment of rejecting a very persuasive consequential argument was over whether it was acceptable to kill Dawn to prevent Glory from killing all of earth's life, including Dawn, as Giles pointed out was the alternative. She managed to Take a Third Option in the end, but she still preferred to let everyone on Earth die rather than kill one innocent, who would have died anyway.
  • Odo in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was motivated by what he described as an inborn need for justice. Law was a secondary thing. He used to theorize that a need for justice may have been an inborn trait of his unknown species...too bad it turned out not to be the case.
    • Their natural tendency is only to enforce order and obedience. While Odo justifies the need for both with Justice (no pun intended), the rest of the species is only interested in domination (ostensibly to protect themselves from ever being victims again). Odo's experience working as chief of security under the Cardassians, witnessing the atrocities and the oppression of the innocent Bajorans, is implied to have taught him the value of Justice over pure order. He still takes the Lawful part of Lawful Good very seriously though (so long as the Law in question is itself "Good", like when he allowed several Cardassian dissidents to escape because their crimes did not warrant the death penalty they would have received otherwise).
  • Tokusou Robo Janperson: "Janperson fights for justice!"
  • "The Earth calls out! The Heavens call out! The People call out! They are calling on me to defeat evil! Listen well, evildoers! I am the warrior for justice... Kamen Rider Stronger!"

     Professional Wrestling 
  • "Real American", Hulk Hogan's iconic WWE entrance theme:
    I am a real American
    Fight for the rights of every man
    I am a real American
    Fight for what's right
    Fight for your life!

     Tabletop Games  

     Video Games  


    Web Original 
  • Linkara's review of Justice League: Cry For Justice issues 3 and 4 has him beginning the review with the inevitable joke of, "So, let's review issues 3 and 4 of Justice League: Cry For Justice. For great justice."
  • Harmontown: In the Dungeons and Dragons section of the show, Erin McGathy's character, Dignity Sarsgaard, has the rather baffling catchphrase, "Let's jazz for truth!" The game screeches to a halt when she first unveils it.

    Real Life 
  • "Operation Enduring Freedom", the military response to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, was initially planned to be named "Operation Infinite Justice".
  • "No Justice, No Peace" an old rally cry against unfair trials etc.
  • Tomonobu Itakagi, formerly of Tecmo (and Dead or Alive fame) used these words almost exactly in a lawsuit against the suits he used to work for.
  • This is the basis of the ethical theories grouped under Deontology.
  • Many national mottos (official or otherwise) follow a formula that combines shades of "For Great Justice" with Rule of Three. While many of these mottos seem quite vague, they are often popular rallying cries amongst the people, as well as being the basis for the outlook that country usually has on how the society should be run (usually reflected in its laws).
    • The highly unofficial United States motto "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" is probably the most famous example in the English-speaking world.note  Almost directly derived from the works of John Locke (having "pursuit of happiness" stand in for the rather crasser-sounding "property" of Locke's original), it reflects America's "rugged individualism", particularly its rigid stance on individual rights and more laissez-faire attitude towards economics.
      • The Constitution is a bit more verbose: "... to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty ..."
    • A close second in English-speaking countries and probably more famous over all is France's "Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité" (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity). French democracy places a great deal of emphasis on social equality and solidarity, which often together trump the idea of personal freedom; the French have never forgotten the indignities of the ancien régime. This is how France justifies many policies which Americans (and, truth be told, Britons) would find repulsive, such as banning religious clothing and symbols in public places or the heavily-regulated and state-directed French economy.
    • In some parts of The British Empire (notably, the colonies that became the Commonwealth Realms), the motto "Peace, Welfare, and Good Government" (with "Welfare" referring to the general "Greater Good" rather than to it's modern, narrower meaning) was popular amongst the political class of the day, typically being in the long titles or preambles of the various Acts of Parliament creating responsible governments in the colonies/dominions.
      • It eventually morphed into Canada's current unofficial motto "Peace, Order, and Good Government", or POGG (as Canadian wags are liable to call it).note  This is often used in contradistinction to its southern neighbor, emphasizing Canadian deference to law, legitimate authority, and tradition, and Canada's generally more socially-oriented mindset (even in ultraconservative Alberta, universal public healthcare is seen as an unquestioned if problematic good).
    • Germany has "Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit" (Unity and Justice and Liberty).note  Modern Germany, as one might recall, had a very hard time in getting to where it is now. Its legal system is noted for trying to strike a balance between the extremes of France and Britain in substance (in format, it's all French) and is very concerned with ensuring that the rule of law is applied consistently and fairly.

Alternative Title(s):

The Deontologist