Good Is Old-Fashioned
"A speech on willpower in this day and age? I did not know people still believed in such silly notions."The villain wants to sneer at The Hero. So what does he do? He calls him, and his stern moral code, old-fashioned. Or out-of-date, obsolete, quaint, antiquated, etc. Expect the phrase "this day and age" to come up. The Anti-Hero may use the Stock Phrase, as well, as may indeed, any character whose moral code is somewhat laxer than The Hero's. But the most characteristic users are the Übermensch, Straw Nihilist, and the Nineties Anti-Hero. A Knight in Sour Armor or other characters wearing Jade-Colored Glasses, if only somewhat cynical, may regard it as amusing for its impracticality, tinged with admiration for its honor. The worse a character is, the more likely the attitude will be contempt. They may even explicitly describe the code of honor and the character who holds it as more suitable for a previous time. If the opportunity ever arises for contrast, it may be clear that the ideals always were ideals, though, in idealistic stories, it actually may have been better in the past. The villain will seldom explicitly characterize himself in contrast as evil. "Practical," "pragmatic" and "realistic" are more likely — as are "up-to-date" or "way of the future" or other terms indicating that their side is in fashion. Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions may be invoked. Occasionally, a character may ironically say that he is not up-to-date and as current as the villain, so the villain will just have to live with his reactions. Sometimes, more seriously, The Hero responds that moral considerations do not change with times and that his code is perennial. Invariably a way of rousing sympathy for the character by showing him being abused. Note that it applies only to characters whose goodness, rather than any other trait, is called old-fashioned. But it can double up with the character actually being old-fashioned in some manner, or defending himself as living according to the Good Old Ways. Logically, this could also be phrased as bad guys are up-to-date, in fashion, current, etc., and sometimes it is (as in the New Era Speech), but normally not, because calling good old-fashioned presents evil as the norm and good the divergence. It may go hand-in-hand with declaring yourself Above Good and Evil. Those Wacky Nazis often have a tendency to express sentiments of this fashion; whilst they may not actually identify themselves as evil, they will often sneer to their more democratic foes that their beliefs are 'outdated', and that the pure Aryan way is the inevitable way of the future. Given what the judgment of history ended up being against the Nazis and their followers, a Nazi who makes this assertion will usually be played for the historical irony, especially if they're making it any time pre-1945. Contrast Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids! — which often carries the same implication that "you are ignorant of the real world of today." See also Cool People Rebel Against Authority, Good Is Not Dumb, and the Appeal to Novelty Fallacy; of which this trope is an example of the latter. Not to be confused with Older Is Better, the notion that Old-Fashioned is Good.
— Rozalin, Disgaea 2
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Anime and Manga
- Merla, self-styled Queen of Darkness from an old episode of Voltron
- Inverted in The World God Only Knows where the traditional hierarchy of Hell was overthrown and replaced by the Noble Demon population.
- Even kids tell poor Vash that his code is stupid and old-fashioned, because the planet Gunsmoke is a Crapsack World where old Earth morals don't apply. Vash soldiers on regardless.
- This is the main point of contention between Kotetsu and Barnaby in Tiger & Bunny — Kotetsu is an old-fashioned idealist, while Barnaby is a new-age Punch Clock Hero.
- The titular character of Rurouni Kenshin speaks with a Keigo, and has his principles questioned repeatedly by other characters.
- Bleach: Souken Ishida was a gentle man who didn't believe in hating or teaching people to hate. He worked hard to try and make the shinigami understand that everyone would benefit if the quincies and shinigami could find a way to work together, but died without ever being able to achieve that dream. The Vandenreich has commented that Souken was an old-fashioned traditionalist who rejected the modernization of the quincies. Souken's descendents are the only quincies who have so far been revealed to have been willing to work with shinigami or even made allies or friends of shinigami.
- Embodied in Kondou in Hakuōki who is the most idealistic out of The Shinsengumi but also the slowest to understand that it is the end of the Japanese Warrior and Westernization is becoming prevalent in Japan. It's telling that when the rest of the captains cut their hair and don Western-style clothing to adapt to the times, Kondou is the only one dressing in the traditional style he always wore.
- In Ultimate Marvel, at some point Ultimate Cap, who like all characters in that universe is somewhat less good, is taken aback and disturbed by the Ultimate incestuous relationship between Ultimate Quicksilver and Ultimate Scarlet Witch. Ultimate Wasp berates him for having "20th Century morals". Because Brother-Sister Incest is so modern and awesome, apparently. Not all the Ultimates actually felt that way, though—Hawkeye did call the relationship sick.
Jason: I don't know what clouds your judgment worse. Your guilt or your antiquated sense of morality.Robin: The old Batman would never descend to their level!Azrael: The old Batman was created for older times. There's no place for kid gloves now. Evil has lost its patience. Obeying rules and codes the other side has trashed is stupid.
- In #650, part of Jason Todd's Motive Rant:
- Superman gets this a few time by anti-heroes; needless to say he proves them wrong.
- Notably, in "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?", in which he fights some very obvious Expies of The Authority.
- In Kingdom Come, a killer goth cyborg with 666 tattooed on his chest calls Supes "Man of the 1950s" for daring to lecture the future's super-gang-bangers on morality. The setup for Kingdom Come revolved around Superman coming out of retirement, which he entered after Magog, an embodiment of the ''Grim and Gritty'' Nineties Anti-Hero, displaced him as the top superhero, telling him that ideals like taking villains alive don't work anymore.
- In Superman at Earth's End, Ben Boxer attempts to convince Superman that his adamant refusal to kill is old-fashioned and out of touch with reality. Superman's response, made famous by Linkara; "Reality is, you're just an android. I AM A MAN!" But then he uses an enormously oversized gun to mow down the Villains Of The Week and their hench-army anyway, before delivering a message about how guns are bad. And now you know why Linkara featured this comic.
- In DC's miniseries Trinity, Morgaine Le Fey tells Superman, during the climactic battle, that she is looking to the future, while he, Batman, and Wonder Woman cling to the past.
- Tom Strong had an issue with a glimpse into the future where he and his family fight a Nazi (the son of a female Nazi supersoldier who had impregnated herself with a sperm sample taken from Tom while he was briefly captured during WWII) who uses this trope to attack the Strong family's idealism. Tom shoots back with a Shut Up, Hannibal! and makes the case that there have been tyrants and despots since the dawn of history, and that those ideologies are the ones that are obsolete and outdated.
- This was often given as the premise for the many "proactive" superhero teams that debuted in the Dark Age, and the Nineties Anti-Hero in general — something along the lines of "In these difficult times, we can no longer afford to just wait and react!": X-Force, Force Works, Extreme Justice, and the ultimate expression of the theme, The Authority.
- In Joe Casey's Gødland, Basil Cronus declares he's not like Archer: "falling into some ridiculously antiquated paradigm with that glowing do-gooder."
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in the Cold Opening.
- In Time Bandits, Evil jeers at the way God bothered with such things as butterflies. He's going straight to hi-tech.
If I were creating the world I wouldn't mess about with butterflies and daffodils. I would have started with lasers, eight o'clock, Day One!
- For good measure, when God appears at the end, he manifests as a somewhat officious old man in a gray suit.
- Time After Time: Jack the Ripper laughs at the hero's nobility and says: "You're so Victorian!"
- Live Free or Die Hard: Thomas Gabriel mocks John McClane by calling him an analogue timepiece in the digital age.
- In Dragonheart, villain characters frequently sneer that Bowen's moral code — the code of chivalry — is old-fashioned and irrelevant.
- This is both invoked and discussed in The Avengers, mostly regarding Captain America. The conclusion is that old-fashioned heroism is exactly what people need during Earth's Darkest Hour.
- This theme is revisited in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which is basically a whole film spent unpacking and exploring the conflict between what Steve stands for and whether his values are tenable in the present day. Ultimately, the film comes down on a "Mostly, yes, they are." side.
- The Incredibles: After the Incredibles defeat the Omnidroid and save their city, we get this exchange from two onlookers:
Onlooker #1: You see that? That's the way to do it. That's old school!Onlooker #2: Yeah. No school like the old school.
- In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel The Armour of Contempt, an officer tells Rawne that Gaunt will get him killed over a futile point of honor, and that the Warmaster is amused by Gaunt's old-fashioned sense of honor.
Van Voytz: Your personal code of honour is unusually robust. I was going to say 'I hope it doesn't get you killed.' But, you know, it assuredly will. Eventually, I mean.Gaunt: I always supposed that was the point, sir.
- In The Guns of Tanith, the unusually benevolent Lord General Van Voytz makes the same observation to Gaunt himself, but admiringly.
- The Gunslinger in Stephen King's The Dark Tower series seems to get this a lot.
- Hagbard Celine in The Illuminatus! Trilogy explains people fall in neophobes and neophiles, with 90% of the population being neophobes, afraid of change, and that these people are in the end, right.
- There's absolutely no moral dimension in being a neophobe or neophile. All heroes and all villains fall squarely in the neophile category.
- In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Ultramarines novel Nightbringer, Chanda reveals himself as The Mole, and the governor asks why. He cites this trope and hands them over to their enemies. And is Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves.
You are the past. Weak, pathetic, clinging to your outdated loyalty to a withered corpse on a planet you have never even seen.
- In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel False Gods, Magnus the Red is determined to study the warp and gain power, because
Notions of good and evil fell by the wayside next to such power as dwelled in the warp, for they were the antiquated concepts of a religious society, long cast aside.
- He's now the slave of the god Tzeentch with most of his army reduced to mindless shells of their former self because of said warp powers and the mistakes of his second-in-command.
- In James Swallow's The Flight of the Eisenstein, Garro has a house carl as his equerry; his fellow Death Guard Space Marines sneer at maintaining a tradition that no longer makes sense; it smacks of sentiment. Later, one, as a reanimated and rotting corpse, jeers at Garro and describes himself as a "harbinger of the future".
- In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 novel Deus Encarmine, Inquisitor Stele tells the Blood Angels before him that there will be resistance to his plans, because of those who cling to "ancient, decrepit dogma."
- In J. R. R. Tolkien's Fellowship of the Ring, Saruman's appeal to Gandalf:
A new Power is rising. Against it the old allies and policies will not avail us at all. There is no hope left in Elves or dying Númenor. This then is one choice before you. Before us. We may join with that Power.
- In Two Towers, downplayed; when Eomer asks how to judge in these days, Aragorn urges — as he has ever judged.
- In Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines, the Engineers, about to fight with the Historians, sneer at them because the Engineers represent the future. The Historians win.
- In Madeleine L'Engle's Many Waters, the nephilim and their followers have this attitude, in contrast to their "brothers", the seraphim.
- In Adrian Tchaikovsky's Dragonfly Falling, the Ancient League is five days old but dedicated to ancient traditions.
- In the Star Trek Novel Verse, Emperor Kahless and his traditionalist philosophies get this from other Klingons, on occasion. But with the Klingon Empire reconfiguring itself in light of Martok’s reforms, the tide is turning. In the Star Trek: Voyager Relaunch, Kahless tells Smug Snake Kopek that he is going to become obsolete:
"You will fall, Kopek, because you live only to hold on to your power and to accumulate more. Martok works daily to restore the empire to the path of honour, and there is no place for you on that path. You will learn the true way, or you will reap the seeds of self-destruction you have so carefully sown”.
- Simultaneously played straight and subverted in The Dresden Files in the form of Michael Carpenter. As a literal man of God, he gets on Harry's case for having sex with Susan while not marrying her. However, while his moral code is somewhat old fashioned, he plays his part as God's Knight in Shining Armor by having said armor being lined with Kevlar.
Michael: My faith protects me. My Kevlar helps.
- In John Hemry's The Lost Fleet the 100 year old human Popsicle Captain Geary follows principles that are from the pre-war era. So are some of his phrasings. In fact, his principles actually match official policy. It's just that fleet officers no longer care about official policy.
- Shane of The Walking Dead runs on this concept, insisting that the heroes cannot survive the apocalypse while holding onto virtue. Dale adamantly opposes this belief.
- The Twilight Zone: "The Obsolete Man." The title man is prosecuted for being an (illegal) librarian and (illegally) believing in God. The government in that episode also admittedly espouses philosophies similar to those of Mussolini (see below).
- Columbo is mocked by one of his suspects (who is a sort of Hugh Hefner character) for his middle-class morality at length.
- The Unlimited Blade Works route of Fate/stay night and the Heaven's Feel route of same are all about this trope.
- In Shu's story mode for Warriors Orochi 2, this is Masamune Date's battle taunt when he shows up.
- Cao Cao in Dynasty Warriors 6 also considers those who support the Han to be out of touch with the times.
- An early villain in Knights of the Old Republic is Brejik of the Black Vulkars, a very hostile gang that extorts and takes slaves. Brejik split away from the less criminal, more supportive Hidden Beks gang and made an ongoing effort to destroy it. The player character can choose a side; Brejik captured someone you need for the plot and put her up as the prize for winning a swoop race, and being sponsored by one of these gangs is the only way to compete in it. Win, though, and Brejik rants about how he doesn't have to follow up on old rules like handing over prizes. He is the wave of the future! Naturally, you kill him.
- Both Ryo Sakazaki and Goro Daimon of The King of Fighters. They're even seen bemoaning this trope in their XIII pre-fight talks, as Ryo complains that no one shares his penchant for training in the mountains and Goro says he has the same problem.
- Kim Kaphwan, too. He has a very idealised and pushy idea of what good and lawful mean, and by the time XIII rolls in several people either call him out or mock him.
- Dominic Deegan: Now I will destroy the spiteful old zombie and all the outdated ideals he holds so dear
- In Sinfest,
- In Doc Rat, Doc disapproves of the casual attitude toward pregnancy and phrases it as a question about whether he's old-fashioned.
- In Blue Yonder, a robot was reprogrammed and is no longer "restricted by outmoded concepts of morality."
- In Tales of the Questor, Rosad the Monster-maker held that "old" moral and ethical codes held back the progress of the Racconan race.
- In the video series Adventures in Odyssey, "Baby Daze", the Big Bad calls Eugene's morals "outdated."
- Hank on King of the Hill firmly believes this and the show generally abides. In any given episode, if a character is introduced who is notably hip and modern or who derides Hank for being old-fashioned, that person will turn out to be a jerk and/or need Hank to save them with old-fashioned sensibility by the end.
- It wasn't just Those Wacky Nazis, the real Nazis, and the Italian Fascists who came before them, came to power largely by arguing that things like liberal democracy and individual rights (as opposed to the "common good") were outdated concepts and that totalitarian dictatorship was the way of the future. In keeping with this trope "pragmatic" was, in fact, one of Mussolini's favorite words (though Mussolini was decidedly less evil than modern guilt by association makes him out to be).
- Communist tracts of the time also made use of this trope, though they tended to portray themselves as 'true' democrats and the liberal democracies of the West as being undemocratic because they didn't permit unlimited power to the majority. A favorite of Communist propagandists of the 1930s in the USA was that the Constitution was outdated, obsolete, and a 'barrier to democracy'.
- Depressingly enough, the idea that democracy is aimless mob rule and that enlightened tyranny was the way forward was actually a very popular viewpoint among turn of the century intellectuals, with Nietzsche being the Trope Maker. Many average people believed it too, feeling that a strong nationalistic leader who would put the good of the people first was preferable to elected bodies that would squabble at best and line their own pockets at worst. It took World War II to demolish that perspective by demonstrating just how disastrously bad it can be when you give one man, obsessed with protecting "his" people, absolute power.
- Winston Churchill was known to be old fashioned for his time, being culturally much more at home in the Victorian era of his youth. His speeches were full of historical references, whether to English history or to the classical era, and he had a tendency to go on about Wooden Ships and Iron Men or the Middle Ages, always evoking a kind of Hollywood History to inspire the British people. He remained a believer in The British Empire well past the point that it was fashionable, and as soon as the war in Europe ended, the British people voted him out because they sensed that he was too much of a historical relic to lead them in the postwar years. All that being said, his historical imagination and respect for tradition helped him see that the kind of modernity the Nazis advocated would lead to a pretty horrifying future.
- It's Older than You Think: debates about the morality of democracy and the practicality of tyranny have been raging since at least Ancient Greece. Plato's The Republic describes an ideal government ruled by "philosopher-kings", who would rule in the people's best interests without regard for themselves. "Sed quid custodiaret ipsos custodes?" (But who shall oversee the overseers?)