"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
, 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
- 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.
- Spike, hilariously, when he discovers his chip only prevents him from hurting humans. Demons are fair game.
Spike: Whats 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!"
- "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!
- Paladins in Dungeons & Dragons often have this creed.
- As do the Tau Empire in Warhammer 40,000, with their ubiquitous catchphrase, "For the Greater Good!" This has the effect of making newcomers to the series believe and latch onto the idea that the Tau are the "Good Guys", prompting others to mock them with the phrase "Good for the Good God!"
- The Tau were this in their original incarnation. At first, the Tau were a Mary Suetopia whose White morality clashed terribly with the setting's charcoal-grey-on-black-on-event-horizon-of-a-black-hole morality. Fan reaction was fairly negative. The Tau got a bit of character development and started doing rather questionable things that would make them Scary Dogmatic Aliens in most settings, but by 40k's absurd Stealth Parody standards, the Tau are downright nice guys. The Tau may not be in it For Great Justice, but they're amongst the least evil. By now, with the Tau adopting a Gunboat Diplomacy manifest destiny motive, the Tau have been accepted by most of the fandom. However, the fanbase is so broken and vocal that everything is hated by a good chunk of the fanbase.
- The first paragraph of the Exalted Core Rulebook states that the world is being gangbanged from all directions by the Deathlords, the Yozis, The Fair Folks, and other ultra-nasty beings. But the Solars (you) are returning, For Great Justice !!!111. The rest of the chapter is spent hammering into your head that it's the Solar's own Unconquered-Sun-damned fault that they got bumped off in ages past, and you've got a lot of work to do if you're going to prove that you're indeed doing it For Great Justice.
- Magick Chicks: Tiffany tries to invoke this with mixed results. She's Artemis Academy's self-appointed champion: the MMAAnote , who fights against the school's social injustices, which basically means she pesters Faith. On the other hand, while she's had some success, she's still really, REALLY, bad at it.
- She's bad at fooling anyone. She's pretty good at the action heroine bit.
- A dark, off-hand reference in Drow Tales: "My blood will be spilled for great justice."
- Ten Winds, the Badass Grandpa in the comic Keychain of Creation, (which is set in the Roleplaying Game Verse of Exalted,) has a habit of leaping in from off-panel to punch or kick an enemy with a triumphant cry of "JUSTICE!!"
- Miko from The Order of the Stick uses this for most of her actions. Of course, she's actually a Lawful Stupid Knight Templar, so she's not the most self-aware person that you're going to run into.
- 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.
- "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.