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Good Shepherd

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
Jesus, John 10:11-18 (NIV)

The Good Shepherd is a good man concerned about his community and the people over all, even if this means being Reassigned to Antarctica by the uncaring or corrupt bishop, being terrorized by the local gang or becoming a martyr sooner than they ever expected...

Besides spiritual guidance, he may also see to medical needs, take care of orphans and foundlings, and attend to the dying and dead.

He may be a Badass Preacher because as the quote says, wolves come and the flock need protection. If all his fellows are are fighters, they are Church Militant. At the other extreme he may be an Actual Pacifist, (which is no less awesome), and despite Men Are the Expendable Gender, attacks on him are particulary evil. When he is a military chaplain, he can encompass either type; under The Laws and Customs of War, he is a noncombatant and required not to fight.

The Saintly Church is, of course, replete with them, but even the Corrupt Church may have several — usually low-ranking. Indeed some can be found ministering to the unfortunate of the Wretched Hive. Voluntarily. The downside of them acting as the Good Samaritan is that they have many more people who need help, and indeed, The Hero may find himself needing to give more help than he gets. He may also feature as The Missionary, in which case The Hero may find help in even less likely locations — but again, will be limited in resources. May also assist as the Turbulent Priest.

Because Good Is Not Nice, he can also be the Dark Shepherd, whether on occasion or frequently. Contrast Sinister Minister for the Evil Counterpart.

The Preacher Man is usually a Good Shepherd.

The word "shepherd", due to various biblical stories, has definite positive connotations in and of itself.

Not to be confused with The Shepherd, though it's not unlikely that there's some overlap. Also do not confuse with the Matt Damon film The Good Shepherd.

In terms of rank, the Authority Tropes arguably equal are Badass Preacher, Corrupt Corporate Executive, Irish Priest, Preacher Man, Pedophile Priest, Schoolteachers, Sexy Priest, Sinister Minister and The Vicar. For the next step down, see Student Council President. For the next step up, see Dean Bitterman.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • Yun in Simoun. She inspires several of the other sibyllae to start acting like this, from the quietly devout Rodoreamon to the religiously disinclined Aaeru.
  • Abel Nightroad from Trinity Blood. A priest/special agent for the post-apocalyptic Vatican. Abel is very kind, and through a combination of comedic melodrama and sheer feather-brainedness tends to come off as a harmless ditz. If the wolves come...
  • Father Juliano from Witch Hunter Robin comes off more as this despite the generally dark religious tone. He genuinely thought witches were dangerous but couldn't kill Baby Robin, despite knowing what she was. Instead he raised her as his own and admitted that his fear of witches (the emotion driving the Big Bad) is a weakness of his own heart, and no fault of the witches. He blesses The Protagonist and encourages her endeavors.
  • Nora from Spice and Wolf is this trope in addition to being a literal sheep herder. She's a very nice and devout girl who used to work at a convent caring for the poor.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: According to Kyoko, Mr. Sakura (a Japanese Christian priest of unspecified denomination) was brought to tears by the troubles he read in newspapers, and preached about ways to resolve them.
  • Trigun: Nicoholas Wolfwood is a heroic character that dresses like a priest, hears confessions, and jokes that his cross Punisher is "full of mercy". The Badlands Rumble movie strengthens this perception because he refers to himself as "a man of the cloth".
  • Hellsing: Alexander Anderson is a humble catholic priest that raises orphans, who adore him. Although he looks down on Protestants, he still considers them part of God's kingdom and worthy of his protection.

    Comic Books 
  • Saint Bro'Dee Walker from Green Lantern. As his world faced imminent destruction, he gave sermons in public as his people rioted and looted in despair. Then a few started listening to him. Gradually, a few became many, and then many became all.
  • Highfather of the New Gods serves as both temporal and spiritual leader of his people. He was originally Izaya, warrior of New Genesis, who grew tired of the constant fighting with the dark god of Apokolips, was contacted by the Source, and ended the war, founded Supertown, and continued to serve as intermediary between the New Gods and The Source. He comes complete with all-powerful shepherd's staff and Abraham Lincoln beard.

    Film 
  • Fr. Merrin from The Exorcist casts out demons and teaches Karras to do the same.
  • Fr. Damien of Molokai, as played by David Wenham, fits the trope. Based on a true story; he was canonized in 2009.

    Literature 
  • Ayatani Zweil in Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novels. He first joined them when they were heading toward the Saint's shrine, declaring that therefore they were pilgrims, and his job was providing guidance to pilgrims.
  • The Bishop of Digne from Les Misérables. Not only does he show Valjean hospitality when everyone else shunned him, he forgives him for stealing the silverware. He's personally responsible for Valjean's Heel-Face Turn and all the good he does thereafter.
  • Discworld
    • Reverend Mightily Oats is a bit short on faith to be exactly this, but he's a priest and one of the Good Guys, so close enough. By the end of Carpe Jugulum in which he first appears, he's gotten over his lack of faith. He appears only in the backstory of Unseen Academicals, but from Nutt's memories of him, he appears to have grown into the role.
    • Brutha of Small Gods, whose unswerving belief in Om makes him the only thing keeping Om from disappearing entirely. He ends up shepherding his own god.
    • Small Gods also plays with the "shepherd" concept, by suggesting the Omnian church might have been different if Om's first encounter with a human had been with a goatherd:
    "For sheep are stupid, and must be driven. But goats are intelligent, and need to be led."
    • Though not religious, Granny Aching of the Chalk was an example of this trope in every other respect, the literal one included.
  • The parson from The Canterbury Tales
    He was a shepherde and noght a mercenarie.
    And thogh he hooly were and vertuous,
    He was to synful men nat despitous,
    Ne of his speche daungerous ne digne,
    But in his techyng discreet and benynge.
  • The wandering septon encountered by Brienne in the fourth volume of A Song of Ice and Fire. Mind, given the nature of the setting he'll probably turn out to be evil, or die in a horrible fashion. Winds up head of the church and, as a bonus, gets to put Cersei in her place several times. He could still die horribly though.
  • In William King's Warhammer 40,000 Space Wolf novel Wolfblade, the Space Wolves find Brother Malburius, ministering and acting as The Medic, in the horrors of the Terra underhive.
  • Mercedes Lackey's first Free Bards novel had a venial priest refuse to marry two wandering bards. A few days later the bards found one of these Good Shepherds, voluntarily exiled to a little backwater, who obliged.
  • Page quote: Jesus, obviously, complete with ministering to the lepers, prostitutes and dregs, being harassed by Pharisees and becoming a sacrifice to atone for the sins of Mankind.
    • Note that The Bible specifically uses the title Good Shepherd to distinguish him from the shepherds of his day, whose profession carried with it an unsavory reputation.
  • Don Camillo Tarocci, title character of a series of stories by Giovanni Guareschi, is the hard-fisted, hot-tempered, but good-hearted priest of an Italian village in the '50s and '60s. The local Communist party, especially the village mayor, gripe about him as a reactionary — but they don't want anyone else performing their religious sacraments, thank you very much.
    • Don Camillo is also very much a Badass Preacher. He and the mayor often settle their differences with their fists. (At one point the mayor leaves an unexploded WWII bomb outside Don Camillo's door with the words "Eester Gift" written on it. Don Camillo picks it up by himself and leaves it outside the mayor's door with a note that the mayor needs to work on his spelling of "Easter".)
    • Some of the earlier stories make pretty clear that the local bishop at the time is also a Good Shepherd, a wise and kindly old man who, for instance, can see that the Communists in Camillo's village are basically good people even if they do claim to be atheists (except when it's time for baptisms, marriages, funerals, and the non-commercial aspects of Christmas, Easter, etc.). The Communists speak to him with respect ... and when they talk about the trouble Don Camillo gives them, it's hard to tell if they're complaining or bragging.
    • In one arc, the communists manage to talk the bishop into reassigning Don Camillo to another parish. The bishop replaces him with a total wimp. The communists are so disgusted with the new priest that they beg the bishop to give them Don Camillo back.
  • Rebbe Saunders in The Chosen is this in some ways, though he is hard to understand and something of a Well-Intentioned Extremist .
  • In The Dresden Files, Father Forthill. Doubles as attorney for his parishioners and is a Church Militant as part of the Ordo Malleus, though more a Non-Action Guy to Michael's Knight In Shining Armour. Also a Retired Badass, as his backstory includes him and a group of other seminarians hunting down and killing a vampire plaguing the town they were visiting.
  • In Connie Willis's Doomsday Book, the priest faithfully ministers to the dying until he succumbs to the Black Death himself.
  • In Steve Parker's Warhammer 40,000 novel Gunheads, Confessor Friedrich. Wulfe trusts him with his confidences — and is particularly moved by his retrieving the bodies of the dead from tanks.
  • Maikel Staynair, Archbishop of Safehold's Church of Charis, radiates a strong but gentle aura wherever he goes, which only the most bigoted can deny. A common habit of his, as he walks down the alter to his pulpit, to stop and speak to people, bless those in need, and see their children, and he continues to do this even after it almost gets him assassinated. Also of note is Paityr Wylsynn, a member of the Inquisition who discharges his duties in full fairness, in stark contrast to nearly all the other members of the Inquisition.
    • As of the fourth book, A Mighty Fortress, Vicar Rhobair Duchairn is making a sincere effort to become this in the wake of Grand Inquisitor Clyntahn's latest crossing of the Moral Event Horizon, largely because it's all he can do without becoming a victim of the Inquisition himself.
    • Zhaysyn Cahnyr qualifies, though his actions have been off-screen until he's had to flee his archdiocese.
  • In 1634: The Galileo Affair, a young man who isn't even Christian at all notes that Father Larry Mazzare "could have served as a poster model for Priest, Catholic, small town, finest example thereof.". It is also frequently pointed out that while Father Mazzare is a good, but not unusual priest by 20th century standards, by 17th century standards he is a living saint.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Space Cadet, when persuading the hero that an apparent accident was a real one and not a put on job to scare the candiates, someone asks him whether he has ever heard of St. Barbara, explains that she is the Patron Saint of those in dangerous occupations, and tells him that if he goes to the chapel dedicated to her, he will find that the priest is saying Mass for those who died in the accident. This convinces him, because of course the priest would not fake such a thing.
  • In Mary Doria Russell's novel The Sparrow, the Jesuits send linguist and priest Emilio Sandoz to minister to a newly discovered civilization in the Alpha Centauri system. Sandoz is a model clergyman — kind, intelligent, curious, idealistic — to the point where he is widely considered as a candidate for sainthood. Too bad he ends up undergoing one of the worst cases of Break the Cutie EVER.
  • In Robert E. Howard's "Jewels Of Gwahlur" Conan the Barbarian is astounded by one.
    "No. He believes in his gods, and is incorruptible. He knows nothing about this. He will obey the oracle. It was all Thutmekri's plan. Knowing the Keshani would consult the oracle, he had Zargheba bring me with the embassy from Zembabwei, closely veiled and secluded."
    "Well, I'm damned!" muttered Conan. "A priest who honestly believes in his oracle, and can not be bribed."
  • The Reverend Septimus Harding in the Barchester novels by Anthony Trollope.
  • In Lord Dunsany's The Charwoman's Shadow, the priest frees the hero from his false shadow, explains what the Evil Sorcerer did, and after the hero succeeds, provides shelter for the Love Interest until such time as her lowly birth will not be an obstacle to their marriage.
  • Abbot Radulfus from Brother Cadfael series. Actually both abbots qualify, but in addition to being genuinely caring about people, Radulfus is very, very competent.
  • Prior Philip who eventually becomes Bishop in Ken Follet's The Pillars of the Earth. Unlike many of the other churchmen and authority figures in the book, his religious beliefs motivate him to help the poor, forgive his enemies, and inspire others to do likewise.
  • Common among medicine cats in Warrior Cats.
  • In Rick Cook's Limbo System, Father Simon, whose sage advice is valued among the humans and who accidentally starts converting aliens to Christianity while prisoner.
  • Song at Dawn has many Christian clergy but the character that best fits the description of 'caring for the flock and fighting off the wolves' is the jewish rabbi Ravaad. Other examples include:
    • A nameless monk in a Templar base wants to stop the Crusade killing and establish a metaphorical Holy Land in western Europe. He warns Dragonetz against his paper mill idea because he knows how the Church as an organization will respond.
    • Marcabru is better called a 'Good Is Not Nice Shepherd' as he's a sourpuss that can't open his mouth without making clear his disdain of everyone but he preaches self-disipline, doing God's work and never steps into Knight Templar territory.
    • The arcbishop can play this role to perfection as the most benevolent, paternal and understanding man in the world, but he's actually a Sinister Minister.
  • Harry Potter has the Fat Friar, ghost of Hufflepuff House. He's the only one to suggest giving Peeves the trouble-making Poltergeist another chance (again, and again, and again). Pottermore reveals he died because he was too nice for his own good - "senior churchmen grew suspicious of his ability to cure the pox merely by poking peasants with a stick". That, and an ill-advised habit of pulling rabbits out of the communion cup.
  • The minister of St Ogg's, Dr Kenn, from The Mill on the Floss, who donates most of his income to charitable causes and who takes Maggie into his home and employs her after she falls victim to a scandal and is ostracised by the town.
  • Pete the Vicar, a minor character in The Laundry Series novel The Apocalypse Codex. Bob Howard, despite being a Nay-Theist posing as an atheist, genuinely respects the work he does for the community; Pete, conversely, respects Bob's apparent lack of belief. Contrasts sharply with the Corrupt Church baddies, to the point that a look through their Apocrypha-heavy version of the Bible is enough to convince Pete they're not even really Christians.
  • Stephen Kumalo from Cry, the Beloved Country, the humble, gentle and trusting protagonists of the novel, and his friends Theophilus Msimangu and Father Vincent, Anglican priests who are devoted to spiritual and social work among the poor of Sophiatown, as well as to building friendship and reconciliation between the white and black peoples of South Africa.
  • The Hakham Dawid in A Wolf In The Soul is the spiritual guide for the five students of his tiny yeshiva. He almost certainly has some sort of psychic abilities that help him seek out the people who need him most, and he is also likely the most patient person on Earth.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Shepherd Book from Firefly is this trope in the main narrative. He's the religious authority on the Serenity, for what that's worth, and he gets bonus points for the name.
    Shepherd Book: I don't care what you believe in, just believe in it.
  • Rev Bem from Andromeda, is part of the heros' team but is pressed into service of The Dark Side; and having passed the test, leaves on a journey of self discovery to see if his conversion was true or false.
  • Fr. Hugh O'Flaherty in The Scarlet and the Black, which is based on the real story of a priest working at the Vatican, who took in Jews and POWs, hiding them from the Nazis.
  • Vedek Bareil in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Allowed himself to be blamed for a massacre, so as not to destroy the people's faith in Kai Opaka, and brokered peace between the Cardassians and the Bajorans.
    • Kai Opaka was herself an example. Her sucessor ... not so much.
  • The Rev. Adam Smallbone in Rev. He may be flawed, but when it comes to it, he always does the right thing.
  • Mark the hospital chaplain in Being Human. He's a man of genuine faith and courage, including standing his ground when faced with vampires - and holding them off. Twice.
  • DS James Hathaway from Lewis. Cambridge Theology graduate who was training to be a priest before he changed careers and became a policeman. He still shows signs of being very spiritual, but has hinted at religous doubts several times
    Lewis: Maybe there is a god.
    Hathaway: If I was sure of that, I wouldn't have joined the police force.
  • A first episode Mr. Show sketch has Father Jim (played by Bob Odenkirk). Unfortunately, he's also a bit of a pushover, he ends up doing whatever a Jerkass party guest tells him to do even though no one agreed to his stupid bet.
  • Vikings: Athelstan takes his vocation seriously; his 'greatest treasure' is an unadorned Bible, and he refuses to join a threesome with Ragnar and Lagertha because of his vow of celibacy. Ragnar is so impressed with his character that he puts him in charge of the family farm while he's gone. And despite Athelstan's gradual integration into Viking society, he continues to exhibit the best traits of both the Catholic priesthood and Christianity itself, eventually becoming a Morality Chain to Ragnar and several of the other Vikings.

    Theatre 

    Oral Tradition 
  • Robin Hood: Friar Tuck is the only holyman that constistently gets good ink. He's just as heroic as Robin's Merry Men.

    Video Games 
  • Priest Bruno in Dark Chronicle. As a support character, he can revive you from death once and sell you status recovery items.
  • Daleyon in Ys Seven more or less fits this description. He is a kind man who genuinely cares for other people.
  • Grand Cleric Elthina of Dragon Age II is a kindly old lady who advocates peace above all else and is a Reasonable Authority Figure trying to keep the Templars and Mages from murdering each other. On the other hand, she prefers to put her faith in the Maker's plan instead of taking any direct action - you can warn her about the Sinister Minister under her nose twice and not get anywhere. Her death sets off the civil war of Kirkwall for the final act.
  • The priest of Harvest Moon Back to Nature is pleasant, kind, and not above a good laugh, and he gives decent advice now and then.
  • A lot of the priests encountered in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim tend towards this archetype. Runil is a priest of Arkay first encountered giving last rites over the grave of a child and comfort to her parents. Maramal is a friendly, community-oriented priest of Mara who will officiate your wedding, and his wife Dinya Balu is also a priestess of Mara who sends you on a quest to spread the love across Skyrim. Erandur is another priest of Mara who used to be a priest of the Daedric prince Vaermina who takes it upon himself to rid Dawnstar of its nightmare plague in the name of his goddess. The various priests of Talos take this in a different direction, ministering to the populace as usual in open defiance of the infamous ban on Talos worship (which could result in their deaths by torture if the Thalmor catch them). Even the Vigilants of Stendarr, no matter how you feel about them, do what they do in the name of protecting humanity from the Daedra.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • The Archdeacon in Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Besides Phoebus, he really seems to be the only truly accepting authority figure around.

    Real Life 
  • As a rule of thumb, all the saints qualify for this trope. Being canonized basically means they were very good shepherds.
  • During WWII, on the Greek island of Zakynthos, the Nazis ordered the local bishop, Bishop Chrysostomos, at gunpoint to go to the mayor's office and come back with a list of all the Jews on the island. The bishop came back with a list that had only two names: the mayor's name, and his own and told the Nazis "Here are your Jews. If you choose to deport the Jews of Zakynthos, you must also take me and I will share their fate."
  • Another World War II example, Father Maximillion Kolbe was a prisoner in Auschwitz. Father Kolbe volunteered to replace one of the men, who had a wife and children, who was condemned to die after one of the men from the barracks went missing. He was canonized as a saint in 1982.
  • One Father Damien stayed on the island of Molokai to tend to those with Leprosy, eventually contracting the disease himself and dying. He was canonized as a saint in 2009.
  • Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty was the head of a massive operation to hide Jews and escaped POWs in Rome and the Vatican
  • Martin Luther King Jr; reverend and civil rights activist. Nothing would deter him from battling segregation and poverty in the USA and always non-violently.
  • Pope Francis has been called "The People's Pope" because of his message of tolerance and ministering to the poor.
  • After MC Hammer became a Pentecostal minister around the turn of the century, the "M.C." changed from "Master of Ceremonies" to "Man of Christ". Even before that, a line in U Can't Touch This praises God for blessing him with "a mind to rhyme and two hype feet".


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