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Hypocrite
aka: H Ypocrisy

Can't You Read the Sign? It says "No Signs Allowed"...oh, wait...

"Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue."

People — particularly those with authority, be it moral or political — are expected to act in a manner in accordance with the ideals they espouse. That is to say they should practice what they preach.

Not all who fail to live up to these standards are hypocrites. Some people may fervently and honestly believe what they say is right and good but they lack the moral strength or willpower to consistently live up to their own high standards. These aren't hypocrites (although they can risk becoming so). A hypocrite, by definition, only pretends to believe what he preaches, although the more self-aware among them may occasionally acknowledge (and/or attempt to justify) their situation with a Hypocrisy Nod.

Frequently, they will be found out. Be it an Engineered Public Confession or through investigation. The Hero may have the choice of either exposing them as a fraud and discrediting them before their followers, or keeping their secret and blackmailing them into cleaning up their act or helping in another matter. How this turns out depends on how sympathetic or Jerk Ass they are, and how humanizing their "vice" is (a diet guru eating donuts is probably ok, an eco-businessman clear cutting forests probably isn't, a moral crusader molesting children definitely isn't). If a villain finds a friend of the hero's Fatal Flaw this way (or worse, the hero's own), they might use Flaw Exploitation to torment and control them.

If found out and/or exposed, the hypocrite will have the chance to mend their ways and do a Heel-Face Turn in one of two forms. Either loosening their standards and living a simpler but more honest and happier life, or tightening their belt and actually live up to their ideal. Failure to do either is usually enough for either a mental breakdown or a full on Face-Heel Turn as they reject their morality and embrace their vice.

Alternatively, because they are feigning what they claim to be, they may find they are Becoming the Mask.

Heroes are often accused of hypocrisy by villains who want to believe they're Not So Different and brag At Least I Admit It. Heroes who actually are hypocrites tend to hear "What the Hell, Hero?" quite a lot. (Unless they don't.)

Notable Sub Tropes include:

  • Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: A group of people who won't act maliciously towards each other, but will be malicious towards everyone else, and thinks themselves advanced for behaving like this.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Characters who deal with the strange and bizarre on a regular basis are skeptical when they run into something strange and bizarre.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Someone who believes that all members of Group X are an inferior race/species... even though they are part of that group itself.
  • Broken Aesop: When a story itself doesn't mesh with the ideals it promotes.
  • Double Standard: For when one person or group would get a free pass of something that another person or group would be completely ridiculed for doing (and vice versa).
  • Hiding Behind Religion: When a character uses faith to mask hypocrisy.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: Acknowledging one's own hypocrisy.
  • Hypocritical Fandom: When fans call out the flaws of a rival franchise, and yet completely miss that their favorite franchise is guilty of many of the same shortcomings.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Standing up for someone because only you should be the one to mess with that someone.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Hypocrisy being played for laughs.
  • Intolerable Tolerance: When one demands special treatment more than they deserve or need, but won't give the same considerations to anyone else.
  • Moral Dissonance: A Karma Houdini who is portrayed as a hero.
  • Moral Myopia: When you do bad things, it's justified. When another person does bad things, it's an atrocity.
  • Never My Fault: A person who blames things on other people... who for added effect may be among the afflicted.
  • No True Scotsman: One makes a general statement, someone calls that person out on it with a counterexample, then that person redefines their original statement such that, by definition, the counterexample no longer counts.
  • Parental Hypocrisy: When parents chastise their children for doing the same things that they themselves did at their age.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: A country's leaders pretend they're not running a dictatorship.
  • Selective Obliviousness: When a character refuses to comprehend a particular fact.
  • Start X to Stop X: To fulfill some goal, the character does its exact opposite, or in fact intentionally start that.
  • Straw Hypocrite: A villain who does not believe their cause but uses it to advance their Evil Plan.
  • Think of the Children!: A character who selfishly blames media for being a poor parent rather than their own mistakes.
  • Two Faced Aside: When a character says one thing to Person A but then immediately expresses the opposite sentiment to Person B in an aside.
  • You Are What You Hate: People hating others for the same traits they themselves have or what they would eventually have.

For the Swedish Melodic Death Metal band, go here.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • In Batman: Heart of Hush, Hush mocks Batman's crime-fighting career as a sign of his inability to move on from his past. This is pretty rich considering that his own vendetta against Bruce stems from a grudge he's held since childhood for something that wasn't even Bruce's fault.
  • In the final issue of Batman: Incorporated, Talia al'Ghul sneers that Batman is a "pompous, posturing bastard". While a fair criticism, no one from the House of al'Ghul — Talia included — has much room to be criticising others on any of those counts.
  • Minor example: In a Beetle Bailey strip in November 2013, Sarge tells Cookie he should wear a helmet because they're in a combat zone, saying so while not wearing one himself.
  • In Blackest Night, Captain Cold justifies killing the second Captain Boomerang by claiming "Rogues don't kill women and children." Trouble is the lineup at the time includes the second Mirror Master (who definitely killed Rachel Rathaway as well as the Rathaways' female housekeeper), the second Trickster (unless all the homeless people he blew up happened to be adult men), and Heat Wave (again, unless he somehow only caught adult men in his numerous acts of arson).
  • General Ross' ultimate goal - and some would say obsession - is to bring the Hulk to justice, believing him a dangerous threat. While this view isn't uncommon, his eventual solution after years of failure is hypocrisy at its worst: He becomes the Red Hulk, a monster who, in many ways, just as destructive as his foe is, possibly more so.
  • In Salvation Run, Gorilla Grodd mocks Monsieur Mallah's claims that they are similar and derides him as the uplifted pet of a Mad Scientist. Grodd conveniently fails to mention that he was uplifted by an alien Mad Scientist.
  • Marion Keeny in Scarecrow: Year One calls her daughter a whore for having a child out of wedlock and suggests burying the (living) baby in the backyard, but the fact that her and her daughter's surnames are the same as that of Marion's mother implies that she may not have been married either.
    • Or they just kept their maiden names.
  • Zipi y Zape: Don Pantuflo.
    • Just to add some examples: one story features him telling Zipi and Zape off because he thought they were smoking cigarettes (they weren't), explaining how unhealthy they are. He doesn't mind that he's almost always smoking himself.
    • Don Pantuflo often tells Zipi and Zape off because of their bad marks on school, telling them he always got A. One story, however, revealed he never achieved more than a B. Although whether this is canonical is questionable, the fact is that Pantuflo is always depicted as having trouble at the time of helping Zipi and Zape with their homework.

    Fan Fiction 
  • The TCB Ponies of The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum can talk one's ears off about the evils of the human race, never mind that they're doing far worse. They also consider technology and human works to be evil, yet they have used zeppelins and concrete for their own purposes. That, and as Marcus points out, their talk about love, friendship, and harmony is at complete odds with the Mind Rape and forcible transformation of an entire species into perpetually smiling Extreme Doormat newfoals.
  • In the opening scene of the CLANNAD fanfic An End To All Things, Okazaki advises Furukawa to not live in the past. What was he doing shortly before he told her that? Reliving a memory.
  • Death Note Equestria: Twilight says the Second Kira disgusts her for killing innocents, even foals (like Sweetie Belle). This in spite of having killed plenty of innocents to protect her own hide, including a reporter not much older than Sweetie Belle.
  • Escape from the Hokage's Hat: Kakashi is known to preach "Those who abandon their mission are trash. Those who abandon their allies are worse than trash." and how teamwork is important. However he gets called on this by many ninja in Konoha when it's pointed out that he abandoned Naruto and Sakura's training in favor of Sasuke, who then turned traitor and then had the audacity to mope over Sasuke being imprisoned when by his own teachings Sasuke is "worse than trash".
  • Lereal Belsai of Hivefled thinks of himself as a devout Sufferist, but instead of thinking the hemospectrum ranking should be removed, he wants it reversed and the coldbloods enslaved in turn, hating them to the point that he dismisses Gamzee as a spy out of hand despite the obvious marks of torture on him, and demands that a ragtag collection of Child Soldiers try to take on the entire empire. He's been described by a reader as the Malcolm X to the Sufferer's Martin Luther King.
  • In Mega Man Reawakened, the Neo Emerald Spears profess hatred of robots yet use mechs to attack.
  • Dakari-King Mykan, big time. He spends most of his time bragging on how evil people who bash the work of others can be (something related to him being the victim of several mocks over the years) and admitted to have worked as a child entertainer who taught little kids about how important friendship and believing in yourself is. But then he created My Little Unicorn to bash My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic just because it rules on The Power of Friendship, admits to being glad when he makes fans of the show angry/sad with his work, and abandoned the concept of believing in yourself entirely for the remake. Let`s not forget that he hates the original show with a passion, but watched it till the second season finale, and actually ships his Gary Stu with Celestia because he himself has a crush on her.
  • In Oh God Not Again, Harry (affectionately) thinks this when Sirius insists Snape should really let go of his resentment because Sirius himself is quite mature in those regards.
  • In Perfection Is Overrated, Shizune Otonashi is a Fundamentalist Christian who believes she is protecting her fellow Christians when she plans on murdering everyone who disagrees with her- including Yukariko, just because she's Catholic. The Usurper expresses a belief that the SUEs are superior to the Himes, but as they repeatedly lose against the Himes, he ends up resorting to trying to play the Himes against one another, and ultimately possesses the body of the Obsidian Lord while sending out a SUE able to copy the Himes' powers and another based off of the manga version of Haruka against his enemies.
  • The Powers Of Harmony: During their Wizard Duel, Trixie calls Twilight a fraud who relies on ancient artifacts instead of her own talent. She says this while using the Alicorn Amulet.
  • The Prayer Warriors have too many examples to list here, but the one that best notes their tendency to fall into this is when Jerry says "Killing a Christian is a sin", and in the next paragraph, when Thalia Grace comes up to him repenting her sins, Jerry kills her, believing that she deserves to die if she's lying and if she's telling the truth, she will die a Christian death.
  • Prison Island Break: Silver finds himself betraying his friends and denouncing God in order to survive in prison.
    • Hypocrisy Nod: He's well aware of his hypocrisy and is disgusted with himself.
  • In the Jackie Chan Adventures fic Queen Of All Oni, Ikazuki looks down on humanity and gave Tohru "The Reason You Suck" Speech about it, but Tohru shuts down the speech by pointing out the Oni General's hypocrisy: Ikazuki was defeated by humans, and even now needs a human body to be more than a wall decoration.
  • Keiran Halcyon wrote the Rose Potter series due to thinking that all the plot twists and such in the original were so obvious that anyone could have seen them coming. The series abruptly stopped when Deathly Hallows came out, due to the events of that book NOT being what Halycon predicted.
  • Many "Alternate Universe" Harry Potter fanfics have depicted Harry being Sorted into Slytherin instead of Gryffindor. In almost every single one of them, Harry becomes a pureblood bigot, subscribing to and even championing Slytherin House's philosophy condemning Muggles and Muggle-born wizards as inferior... despite the fact that Harry's own mother, who sacrificed her life to save Harry's, was Muggle-born.

     Memes 
  • The 'Social Justice Sally' meme targets hypocritical and self-righteous social justice 'activists' who just act exactly the same as the kind of bullies and bigots they claim to oppose.

     Mythology 
  • Zeus from Classical Mythology was said to despise liars, oath-breakers, and people who picked on the weak. He killed the mortal Ixion and later punished him in the afterlife for breaking the laws of hospitality and trying to sleep with Hera. Yes Zeus himself cheated on Hera regularly, sometimes with other men's wives, breaking his marriage vows and often lied to her to try and hide it. He also tended to victimize weak mortals or allows the other gods to do so when it was convenient.
  • Odin from Norse Mythology is sometimes viewed as one. Contrary to Norse virtues of honesty, manliness, and meeting your opponents openly in battle Odin was known to use trickery, disguises, and underhanded tactics to get what he wanted and practiced a form of magic considered womanly. Loki once claimed Odin went so far as to give the underserving victory in battle.

    Radio 
  • On The Debaters, comedian/debator Jon Steinberg debated that debates themselves are pointless. He won.

    Music 
  • Parodied in The Arctic Monkeys' "A Certain Romance", where the singer is complaining about a bunch of violent, drunken chavs, and surmising that if anyone pointed out to them how vulgar they are they wouldn't take the blindest bit of notice. It then goes on to admit that the singer's own group of friends are also drunken, brawling louts who "might overstep the line, but you just cannot get angry in the same way".
  • Jay-Z put "Death of Auto-Tune (D.O.A.)" on an album with several Auto-Tuned hooks. Jeez.
    • The complaint was about rappers using auto-tune as a gimmick, not about auto-tune in general.
  • Metallica got famous by tape trading their cassette demo "No Life Til Leather", which landed them a record deal. They also were known to allow fans to record, visual and audio, their sets and circulate them freely. But the moment they got big and started making real money off their music they sued Napster over doing the same things that got them their fiercely loyal fan base to begin with.
  • Several songs on Michael Jackson's HIStory have him railing against injustice and persecution, both of people at large and himself specifically, as he was being hounded by the mass media at the time over child molestation allegations. In "Childhood", a key lyric is "Before you judge me/Try hard to love me" — i.e., don't be so quick to condemn based on assumptions. On the same album is "D.S.", a song about Tom Sneddon, the district attorney who ultimately headed up both of the investigations of Jackson's behavior with children. Sample lyric: "You think he brother with the KKK?/I know his mother never taught him right anyway"...what was that about judging people again, Mike?
    • In Moonwalker, he included the song "Leave Me Alone" which railed against the public/tabloid attention he was always hounded with — in the middle of a film that can best be described as a 90-minute commercial for the Michael Jackson brand.
  • The folksinger Phil Ochs loved to ridicule this trope from any side of the political spectrum. "Draft Dodger Rag" is about a red-blooded conservative who's all for that war in Vietnam, so long as he doesn't have to go himself, while "Love Me, I'm A Liberal," is about someone who pays lip service to every left-wing cause until it becomes dangerous, distasteful or personally uncomfortable. ("The people of old Mississippi/ should all hang their heads in shame,/I can't understand how their minds work./ What's the matter, don't they watch Les Crane?/But if you ask me to bus my children/ I hope the cops take down your name ....")

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has the Githyanki, one of the Scary Dogmatic Alien races. Their backstory is that they are the descendants of humans/humanoids enslaved by the brain-sucking illithids, who eventually rebelled and sundered their empire. Because of this, they have an intense aversion to the concept of slavery, and are determined that they will never be slaves again. Ever. They even refuse to worship gods because they consider religion as resembling slavery too much. This self-same aversion to slavery has also caused them to build their society into an oppressive, rigidly structured Fantastic Caste System that is devoted to churning out warriors, swearing allegiance to their lich-queen so blindly that they willingly let her eat their souls to sustain her undeath, and giving them the notorious rate of raiding, slaughtering and indirectly enslaving all non-githyanki races they encounter. They are blind to their hypocrisy and will insist that what they do is different. Usually at the end of a sword.
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game is a huge example of this. Players will accuse the opponent of winning simply because their deck is able to use an extremely overpowered broken card that should technically be on the Limited/Forbidden list and does get on the list later, but they themselves play a card just as overpowered and banworthy in their deck.

    Theatre 
  • Cyrano de Bergerac: At Act II Scene IV, Cyrano delicately accuses Lise of cheating on her husband, Ragueneau, with a musketeer. She is so offended, she chokes with anger… and immediately dares her musketeer lover to poke fun at Cyrano’s nose.
    (Ragueneau goes after his friends. Cyrano follows him with his eyes, then, rather sharply): Ho there! Lise!
    (Lise, who is talking tenderly to the musketeer, starts, and comes down toward Cyrano):
    So this fine captain is laying siege to you?
    Lise (offended):
    One haughty glance of my eye can conquer any man that should dare venture
    aught 'gainst my virtue.
    Cyrano: Pooh! Conquering eyes, methinks, are oft conquered eyes.
    Lise (choking with anger): But—
    Cyrano: (incisively): I like Ragueneau well, and so—mark me, Dame Lise—I permit not that he be
    rendered a laughing-stock by any. . .
    Lise But. . .
    Cyrano: (who has raised his voice so as to be heard by the gallant): A word to the wise. . .
    (He bows to the musketeer, and goes to the doorway to watch, after looking at the clock.)
    Lise (to the musketeer, who has merely bowed in answer to Cyrano's bow): How now? Is this your courage?. . .Why turn you not a jest on his nose?
  • In Rain, the Rev. Davidson almost succeeds in saving Sadie Thompson's soul, but just then his instincts get the better of him.
  • In Hamlet, the famous quote "Brevity is the soul of wit" is delivered by Polonius, the biggest Old Windbag in theatre history. He seriously never shuts up.
    • Also from Hamlet; the whole plot of the play involves Hamlet trying to get vengeance for his father's murder. Despite how enraged he is about his father's murder, when he himself murders the totally innocent Polonius and indirectly murders the equally innocent Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Hamlet has the gall to crack jokes about it.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Karl Copenhagan of Demo Reel is disgusted at Rebecca for potentially killing her cat, but slaughters a pig right in front of Tacoma (who upchucks) and Donnie (who is disturbingly okay with it).
  • In a slightly less... kill-happy example, The Nostalgia Chick. While calling guys out for putting their dicks in their creations, she's leaning on her own Sex Bot.
  • The Nostalgia Critic isn't exactly innocent either. He refuses to accept Ma-Ti's death, but he was ready to die twice in Suburban Knights at the sword of the incompetent Jaffers.
  • This is common behavior for customers featured on Not Always Right.
  • At the climax of Suburban Knights the Big Bad Malachite, after spending the series killing people for being overly reliant on technology (and unlike most killing on TGWTG.com shows, his actions are NOT played for laughs) and in the middle of declaring his intention to destroy all technology, is interrupted by an utterly trivial call on his iPhone. He is promptly called out on for this, and initially responds by trying to deny that an iPhone counts as technology.
  • Zinnia Jones: ...Hypocrisy has it's benefits

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alternative title(s): Hypocrisy; The Hypocrite
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