Grand Inquisitor Scene
In stories set in a dystopian society, there is usually the one scene in the story where a dissident of the society has a "meeting of the minds" with a high ranking official of the society. During the meeting, the official can perfectly understand where the dissident is coming from with his objections, but has a rebuttal for each one, and explains why his vision for the society are flawed and thus wouldn't work. In a Crapsack World setting, the official will state how they've stamped it out and such. Usually also serves as a Breaking Speech, as the dissident has their mind blown by how the authorities are so much smarter and more powerful than the dissident dreamed. There are also cases where the official doesn't support the society, but explains how it works and why people think the way they think.
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- The Matrix franchise:
- The Matrix: Agent Smith (as the "official [who] doesn't support the society") during his interrogation of Morpheus. "Humans are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You're a...plague. And we... are the cure."
- The Matrix Reloaded has Neo's confrontation with The Architect. The Architect explains how The One functions as an instrument of control and why this is the only form of victory humans will ever achieve. Neo says 'screw you' and takes the second option.
- The Matrix Revolutions has an inversion of the trope when Smith confronts the Oracle (a villain confronting a heroic inquisitor). He mirrors the scene in her kitchen from the first movie and is desperately trying to provoke her into lecturing him about the system and choice and fate, but she just sits there passively and tells him to Get It Over With.
- Equilibrium finishes on one of these, with the added bonus that the official also doesn't believe it either.
- Trope Namer: The Brothers Karamazov, in a story-within-the-story. The Grand Inquisitor claims Christ sinned by not giving into the temptations because giving in would have meant giving man food, miracles to believe in, and an authority to rule them; here's the other wiki's explanation. The Grand Inquisitor, and the author of the story, Ivan, believe that Christ should have traded free will and a choice in whether or not to worship God for a comfortable life. It's Ivan's struggle to reconcile an "uncaring" Godnote and the alternative atheism, which he believes would lead to a world where morals don't matter since heaven and hell don't matter, and don't act as a deterrent.note His solution is that the Church should rule the world; Christ did not allow this, ergo he "sinned" and the Grand Inquisitor yells at him for it. In other words, man may not live by bread alone—but without it he will surely perish. Most people are not equipped for the kind of hardships Jesus went through. Give them safety and then they can worry about morals.
- 1984: The scene where O'Brien tortures Winston in Room 101 and tells him the skinny about how the Party controls the populace, and where it is going in the future. Part of this talk also takes place too, however, through Goldstein's book.
If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever.
- Brave New World: The scene where John and Mustapha Mond talk about the World State. John argues for a world in which meaningful art, passion, family, and God have a place again, but Mond shoots down everything John brings up. He agrees with him that the old world had more meaning to it, but that it had to be sacrificed for stability.
- In every session with Jonas, The Giver explains why Sameness exists, and why things are done the way they are done. He later supports Jonas in bringing the society down.
- Fahrenheit 451: Captain Beatty has a discussion with Montag about why books are banned, because they can potentially be offensive.
- The Patrician in Discworld gets one of these per novel that he shows up in, although the people he's talking to usually aren't dissidents but people who work for the city and sometimes aren't even disagreeing with him by the time he gives the speech. The one time he gives one to a real enemy of the state or himself is at the end of Going Postal, and even then he's still trying to recruit the man.
- Shows up in the granddaddy of dystopias, We. Here, the Great Benefactor explains to D-503 the One State's inhuman actions.
- In Ray Bradbury's "The Flying Machine", a man in ancient China invents a flying machine, and the Emperor informs him that his machine must burn and he must die lest enemies use the contraption to attack the Empire.
- In Harlan Ellison's "Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman, the Ticktockman (officially, the Master Timekeeper) does indeed tell Harlequin to repent during their Grand Inquisitor Scene.
- The flashback of A Study in Scarlet has a member of the Mormon community (originally a Gentile) being questioned by none less than Brigham Young himself about his refusal to take multiple wives or marry his daughter to a Mormon.
- In Ape and Essence by Aldous Huxley, Dr. Poole is brought into the Unholy of Unholies to hear the Arch-Vicar lecture him on the proof of Belial's existence and the historical inevitability of His triumph over man.
- In Darkness at Noon, Rubashov's will is broken down by two scenes of this type, one with Ivanov, the other with Gletkin.
- In Josť Saramago's The Gospel According To Jesus Christ, there's a Grand Inquisitor Scene between God, Jesus and Satan. Jesus just wants to be normal, Satan offers to quit and leave the world without evil in exchange for God's forgiveness, and God shuts them both down since he needs an evil counterpart and a martyr to Take Over the World.
Live Action TV
- Roj Blake's dressing-down in the first episode of Blake's 7.
- The Twilight Zone episode The Obsolete Man, depicts a future dystopian society where a librarian named Wordsworth, played by Burgess Meredith, is sentenced to death by the chancellor (Fritz Weaver) for being "obsolete". He asks to have the chancellor visit him just before he is about to die, the method of which he is able to choose. They debate the morality of a society where a person's right to live is determined by their worth to the state. Wordsworth then reveals that they are being televised, and he has chosen to die by having the now locked room set to explode at midnight. After a while, the chancellor begs Wordsworth in the "name of God" to let him go. He does just before the room explodes. The chancellor now is condemned himself for showing cowardice and deemed "obsolete" by the same court he previously presided over.
- Within the overall narrative of Rush's 2112, the fourth movement, Presentation, is this from a priest of the Temple of Syrinx to the protagonist.
- George Bernard Shaw:
- In Saint Joan, the Inquisitor delivers a long and very convincing speech on the necessity of the Inquisition to a young friar who doubts Joan's heresy.
- Burgoyne in The Devil's Disciple.
- The Roman Emperor in Androcles and the Lion asserts that he is actually a Christian evangelist — since Christian martyrs inspire converts, the more Christians he kills, the more Christians he creates.
- Played with in Sid Meiers Alpha Centauri. Every single faction gets several of these, but they also double as Author Tracts simultaneously and the factions have radically opposing viewpoints.
- Happens between the party and The Magic Emperor at the end of Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete. It involves the goddess and the role she plays in the world's order and prosperity.
- Occurs in Breath of Fire III between Ryu and Myria, where the latter explains her means and goals. The rest of the party get to voice their own opinions before the player decides whether to agree or disagree with the position presented.