Inspector Javert: Once a thief, forever a thief! What you want you always steal! You would trade your life for mine? (...) If you let me go, beware, You'll still answer to Javert!Inspector Javert is the well-intentioned law enforcement officer (or detective, or Bounty Hunter) who honestly (if sometimes wrongly) believes that the hero is a bad guy and doggedly pursues him in a Stern Chase, seeking to get him. The Javert does not realize that the hero is either wrongly accused, or has already redeemed himself for crimes done long ago. Perhaps the Javert simply doesn't care, as the law is the law, and one is either on the side of the law, or on the side of crime. Thus, the Javert is the type of person who obeys the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law. Inspector Javert may be the reason the hero has to keep moving among Adventure Towns. Often, the only way to slow him down is to defeat other violent criminals, then leave them for the Inspector to arrest and process before he can resume the chase. At some point, however, the officer and accused have to team up to fight a common enemy, or the movie or series ends with them discovering that their entire campaign to bring the hero to justice was in vain, or he is innocent and finds evidence to prove it or they decide to just let them go with a "five minute head start", or something to that effect. Named for the archetypal character in Victor Hugo's novel Les Misérables, and the subsequent musical. Lt. Gerard in The Fugitive was inspired by Javert, down to the French surname. A Subtrope of Hero Antagonist and Implacable Man. Compare Knight Templar and Lawful Stupid. Also compare and contrast Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist; the hero is a Villain Protagonist or Anti-Hero and that Inspector chases a real criminal. May be portrayed as a Butt Monkey and/or Worthy Opponent by the protagonist. Some examples count as Obliviously Evil. Less sympathetic examples may be a Villainy-Free Villain.
Jean Valjean: You are wrong, and always have been wrong. I'm a man, no worse than any man.
Jean Valjean: You are wrong, and always have been wrong. I'm a man, no worse than any man.
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Anime and Manga
- Played straight with Inspector Javert in Les Misérables: Shōjo Cosette, an anime adaptation of the novel. Unlike the original, however, he stops himself from committing suicide and ultimately accepts Jean Valjean for who he is, realizing that if Valjean can change, he can too. He also attends Valjean's funeral at the end of the anime.
- Detective Heinrich Lunge in Monster takes this to the point that he knowingly destroys his life. To Lunge's credit, he eventually learns the truth of the situation, apologizes to Tenma, takes down Roberto, and eventually reconnects with his daughter.
- Police Inspector Saehara in D.N.Angel, with a bit of a variation. Dark really is a thief, he's just got a good reason for it.
- Inspector Wizer of Slayers Revolution, whose insistence that Lina is responsible for all the evils of the world is quickly becoming a Running Gag. It's subverted, however: Inspector Wizer was pretending to be a personification of this troupe, when it's revealed he just acts this way to manipulate people into doing what he wants. His act even manages to fool Xellos! Unlike most versions of this, however, Lina Inverse is not Wrongly Accused. He's got her dead to rights, of the crime of being Lina Inverse.
- One Piece:
- Quent from Wolf's Rain is a variation — he isn't a lawman, but he does believe the wolves (or, rather, wolves in general) are responsible for the death of his family, and he obsessively hunts them at every turn.
- Claymore: Priscilla burns for the blood of Teresa for "killing humans". Never mind that the humans were ravaging a village at the time, doing so much damage that Teresa wondered if killing the youma in said village was a good idea, since the bandits stayed away while the youma was there.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, Ushio fits this so well for Yusei, his prisoner number might as well have been 24601. He eventually lightens up later on.
- In the Cowboy Bebop episode "Cowboy Funk", Cowboy Andy mistakes both Spike and Jet on separate occasions of being the Teddy Bomber... even with the real Teddy Bomber standing right next to them both times.
- Played with in Death Note. The master-detective L appears to be this in the eyes of the other characters, particularly Chief Yagami, in his absolutely relentless pursuit of Villain Protagonist Light Yagami, as he has no real reason to believe that Light is guilty and his methods are extreme. Subverted in that he's actually right about Light, who really is a brutal Serial Killer... Then L becomes this for real during the Yotsuba arc when Light's memory is erased, since Light is no longer Kira at that time and L continues to pursue him passionately. However, once Light's memory is restored, Light is guilty again and L's actions become justified, bringing him back to Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist status.
- Three of these appear in Hana no Ko Lunlun. The first one shows up in England (pursues Sayid for having been a petty thief but is foiled when he and Lunlun set out for Morocco), the second is seen in Egypt (pursues Lunlun as a side effect of her unknowingly becoming the accomplice of a Gentleman Thief - he catches the thief but lets Lunlun go), and the third one appears in Sicily (is on the case of Dario the bank robbing Anti-Villain who's about to slip away because of the state of regulations; but when Dario shows up to save a trapped Lunlun from an airtight bank vault, he allows Dario to leave as a free man since not only he chose Lunlun over his freedom, he actually turned himself in five minutes after the state kicked in.)
- Fullmetal Alchemist has Mustang and his crew do this to the Elric brothers. However, instead of wanting to arrest or kill them, he demanded to know why they ran off and didn't ask for his help.
- Junko Hattori of Demon King Daimao has a rather nasty habit of this. When we're first introduced to her, she attacks Akuto because she automatically assumes that he was trying to mug her grandmother when he was just helping her out. After the reveal that Akuto is destined to become the next Demon King, Junko repeatedly hassles and tries to kill him, repeatedly mistaking his attempts to actually be good as evil.
- Lupin III crosses this with comedy with Inspector Zenigata. He may be bumbling but he will ever stop pursuing the gang to the point of ignoring other more dangerous criminals in attempts to get Lupin. Those criminals are usually delivered to Zenigata on a plate by Lupin at the end of the episode but Zenigata still gives chase. Justified since Lupin is a remorseless thief, even if he does slide into Anti-Hero territory most of the time.
- Silver from Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog has tendencies of this, being a time traveller. While trying to Set Right What Once Went Wrong by finding and stopping a traitor in the Freedom Fighters, he accuses and tries to attack Sonic, Rotor, and Antoine in that order, every time with very little to go on. He actually began to accuse Bunnie Rabbot of being the traitor based on the knowledge that she left without telling anyone, but Sonic, who was already on the verge of strangling him for accusing Antoine, snapped and effectively dissuaded him from that one, telling him to pack up and go home, because he's really not helping.
- When it comes to hunting down the Incredible Hulk, General Ross slides among three tropes: this, General Ripper, and Knight Templar. He Who Fights Monsters comes into play as in his pursuit of destroying the Hulk he himself becomes the Red Hulk.
- Judge Dredd: Old Stone Face can go here. Oh how he can go here.
- Ms. Tree has Captain Miller, who is constantly trying to put the eponymous heroine behind bars for her vigilante activities.
- A non-cop example, and arguably the most prominent comic-book example; J. Jonah Jameson, former editor of the Daily Bugle and current mayor of New York, and perpetual thorn in the side of Spider-Man. Depending on who's writing him, he's depicted as total Jerkass, or as a semi-honorable businessman. When Peter was framed for murder during The Clone Saga, Jameson paid for Peter's legal defense. When Bastion threatened his life if he refused to print an editorial condemning mutants, Jameson (a civil-rights advocate) refused to give in to threats. Jameson is a skinflint, a tight-wad and on occasion a Bad Boss, but is also often portrayed as a man with a strong sense of honor and fair play. And no matter how much good Spider-Man does for the city of New York, Jameson will still make it his mission to bring Spider-Man down. In the Ultimate Universe Jameson's positive qualities are played up a lot more, to the point where he eventually recognises Spider-Man as a hero.
- General Sam Lane (Lois' father) has been portrayed as this to Superman, of all people. Pre the New52, in the New Krypton storyline, he was straight up General Ripper who was determined to destroy Superman's reputation and kill him, regardless of who got hurt in the process. In the New52 Action Comics, General Lane is portrayed as this in Superman's early years, where Superman is still a mysterious Good Is Not Nice vigilante. He's still gunning for Superman, believing him to be a potential threat to America, but he's not the psychotic General Ripper he was before the reboot.
- Captain America is this in Target X. He feels personally responsible for all the killings X-23 has carried out because she slipped his grasp after her field test by masquerading as a wounded survivor. He reveals he's been tracking her down ever since (approximately six years) and is obsessed with bringing her to justice. He's driven to the point where he completely ignores Matt Murdock's attempts to warn him that S.H.I.E.L.D. won't care really about justice but instead will use her as a weapon the same was she was used by the Facility. Before he can actually turn her over, however, he recognizes the truth of this and that Laura was as much a victim as the people she killed, and lets her go.
- Subverted with the final Garth Ennis arc of The Punisher MAX, where a cabal of corrupt American generals (planning to go corporate) sic Delta Force on Frank Castle, both to bring him in (the generals intending to kill him) and to recover a video tape of him interrogating their agent (who'd identified them). It turns out that the unit commander Colonel George Howe genuinely believes that the Punisher is a criminal who must be brought in... but, since he was rescued from captivity during the Vietnam War by Frank Castle's special operations team, he felt obligated to preserve Frank Castle's life — wanting to put him on trial, not put him down. (Eventually the generals' liaison with the Colonel believes that that's why he was so receptive to the orders.) After Frank Castle tells him about the tape and one of the generals inadvertently exposes his motivation, Howe views the tape and decides to release Castle so that he can kill the generals... but since the tape would so damage the credibility of the military, he flat-out tells Castle that he won't reveal the generals' crimes.
- Tintin: Thomson and Thompson in Tintin: Cigars of the Pharaoh and Tintin The Black Island, though they're more of a parody of the trope. They're more Punch Clock Villains in Tintin The Blue Lotus, and they get better in the later albums however, where they are, if still incompetent, at least trying to help Tintin.
- Superlópez: Oh Holmez. He's less efficient and ruthless than the typical Javert, but every little bit as bureaucratic and single-minded.
- After The Dark Phoenix Saga, and Jean's Heroic Sacrifice and subsequent return, some elements of the Shi'ar don't know, or at least don't believe, what we know about her: Continuity Snarl affects the details, but basically, Dark Phoenix wasn't all Jean and was definitely under More Than Mind Control which Mastermind and Emma Frost had been working on her for months. Jean Grey didn't wake up one morning and decide it might be amusing to wipe out the five billion inhabitants of the planet D'Bari, and does not normally have the power to do such a thing if she did want to; it was the perfect storm of circumstances that cannot be replicated. But to this day, they pursue her and other relatives of hers, fearing the return of Dark Phoenix. Worse, most of their actions are the sort of thing that would make Jean decide to go kick their asses if she did ever return to that power level. It's Bullying a Dragon to the extreme: "There's this woman we fear is a cosmic destroyer, Galactus squared in terms of power and can never die, but who made a Heroic Sacrifice to stop herself, and has been nothing but heroic ever since her return. I know! Let's target her whole family for death on the off-chance that one could potentially become a Phoenix host!" They top themselves when they go after a time displaced teenage Jean Grey and put her on trial for crimes she hasn't even committed (yet). J'son of Spartax of all people is the one who calls out Gladiator on his blatantly unfair treatment of her during the trial. Not because he gives a damn about her of course, but because he wants to make the Shi'ar look bad. Then again, it's to say they didn't deserve it.
- For years Bishop was determined to prove Gambit would one day betray the X-Men, regardless of how many heroic acts Gambit would perform. This plot thread was laid to rest when the traitor was revealed to be Onslaught.
- Taken Up to Eleven in Deux Hommes dans la Ville (aka Two Against the Law and Two Men in Town), where it is a major plot drive. In fact, a main cause of the film's Downer Ending.
- Street Angel: Neri, sergeant of police, who chases Angela after an attempted robbery, then when she escapes jail, and later comes for her after she returns to Naples.
- Four of the five Mission: Impossible films have one in pursuit of Ethan Hunt (IMF superiors Kittridge and Brassel in the first and third films respectively, inspector Sidorov in the fourth and CIA agent Hunley in the fifth). The second film is the only exception.
- The Operative in Serenity is a case where a government assassin fits the character type. He's after River in order to protect the Alliance's secrets, and doesn't ask what those secrets are because he believes wholeheartedly in the Alliance's vision of a "world without sin." He only stops when his idealistic vision of the Alliance is shattered with the knowledge of River's secret.
- Detective Spooner in the film I Robot is a subversion, as he is the main character. In his determination to apprehend Sonny for murder, he stumbles across something even more sinister... And it turns out he's right.
- Hobbs in Fast Five is characterized this way until he decides to help Dom because his team was killed and he wants revenge. After an Enemy Mine for a day or two, he gives Dom a mercy lead.
Hobbs: Give me those documents. (throws them aside) All I care about is that Toretto is a name on a list!
- The main bad guy in Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay could be seen as a parody/deconstruction of this trope, showing just how irrational, prejudiced and wilfuly ignorant a law enforcement official would need to be to believe the protagonists really are terrorists.
- "It's obvious these kids are innocent, but you're too dumb to realise it"
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Commodore Norrington is midway between this and Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist; he has every reason to go after Jack Sparrow, but he doesn't have all the facts about Will Turner. He's also most definitely a good guy in the first film.
- Impresario Tetti-Tatti in "The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met" segment of Make Mine Music. And he mistakenly believes Willie the Whale has swallowed opera singers by (mis)interpreting the Bible story of Jonah and the whale.
- Dark City: Inspector Frank Bumstead hotly pursues protagonist John Murdoch for a series of murders that John is innocent of. The reality-twisting alien Strangers have created the murders but were interrupted before they could create the murderer! John is eventually arrested, but Frank's open mind has been picking up on the real story: when John demonstrates world-view shattering abilities to manipulate reality himself Frank is ready to be recruited to fight the real villains. And then he gets hurled into space.
- Red: Agent William Cooper. He's a CIA agent tasked to hunt down the main characters and doesn't question the motive behind the mission because he's just simply doing his job. Once he discovers the real truth behind the kidnapping of the Vice President and the conspiracy behind it, he not only lets the main characters go, but shoots his boss dead and then "handles" the fallout of the whole affair.
- Henry Burke in Race to Witch Mountain, a Men in Black-type government operative, whose job is to hunt down and capture the two aliens running around - he doesn't care if the aliens appear to be human teenagers.
- Inspector John Acheson, in 2010's The Tourist. He wants to continue pursuing clever thief Alexander Pearce, even after Pearce leaves a check to cover the 'seven hundred and forty four million' he owed in back taxes. But Acheson's superior overrides him, pointing out that all Pearce did was steal from a gangster.
- Although not law enforcement, Principal Rooney from Ferris Bueller's Day Off is scarily obsessive about catching Bueller to the point of landing him in this trope.
- The hotel concierge in Home Alone 2 is religiously devoted to busting Kevin for "credit card fraud"(ie using his dad's credit card without permission) so much so that he threatens to call the police on Kevin, thereby scaring him into the streets, instead of contacting a social services agency and kindly asking Kevin about the matter. When Peter and Kate show up at the hotel, they're quick to chew him out over it.
- Gustave the Station Inspector in Hugo fits this archetype in his determination to catch the protagonist, who has been living in the walls of the train station he is guarding.
- Sheriff Cooley in O Brother, Where Art Thou? starts off chasing the main characters legitimately—they are, after all, escaped convicts—but displays all the self-righteous personality associated with the trope, and his true colors come through when he persists in trying to capture and hang the Soggy Bottom Boys after they have publicly earned the Governor's pardon (and he knows it).
- Timekeeper Leon in In Time: the sad part is, in a way he ends up triggering off the entire catastrophe his job is designed to avoid, simply because he cannot or will not accept that a wealthy man with a century-plus on him could voluntarily relinquish that time to someone else. Had he been less zealous, one suspects that Will Salas would eventually have married into the Weis family (the film makes clear the attraction between him and Sylvia), and been in a perfect position to accomplish from within what he risked a lot to accomplish from without.
- While Inspector Uhl in the film The Illusionist is tireless in his pursuit, he is a likeable guy and more of an Obstructive Bureaucrat than an actual villain.
- Customs agent Dave Kujan from The Usual Suspects is obsessed with arresting cop-turned-criminal Keaton. Trouble is, while there's little doubt that Keaton is a thief and murderer, he seems to be genuinely trying to go legitimate at the start of the movie. But Kujan's dogged pursuit lets Keaton's potential business partners know about his criminal background, torpedoing his career and sending him back to a life of crime. In Kujan's interactions with Verbal, we also see he's willing to break the law himself (including issuing death threats) if it means catching Keaton, and is so focused on that goal that he ignores any explanation that doesn't paint Keaton as the criminal mastermind behind everything.
- Samuel Gerard in The Fugitive has a classic transition from pursuer to ally. Initially his job is bringing back Kimble, the truth about Kimble's conviction is not his business. The chase through the storm drains is also an obvious reference to Les Misérables, which has a similar scene towards the end of the book.
Kimble: I didn't kill my wife!
Gerard: I don't care!
- Impostor: Major Hathaway is chasing Dr. Spencer Olham because he's convinced that Olham is an alien biorobot who killed the original and took on his personality in order to detonate a bomb and kill the Chancellor. He plans to prove that by vivisecting Olham and disarming the explosive, but Olham escapes and spends the whole film trying to prove he's human. Hathaway turns out to be right, but missed that Olham's wife was also replaced and then fails to consider that both Olhams could have been impersonated, ending in Hathaway's death when the bomb explodes.
- Sheriff Buford T. Justice in Smokey and the Bandit. He begins making up charges to go after Bandit for, caring little whether or not it's true, or even where he does and does not have jurisdiction.
- Sheriff Loomis is a more realistic example in The Wraith. At first he was this for a long time with Road Pirate, Packard Walsh; waiting and watching him slip up. However when the Wraith comes into the picture, he's on his pursuit list too, even though he doesn't really care since it's only Packard's gang the Wraith is after. He does everything in his power to investigate the Wraith, even opening up a cold case regarding Jamie Hankin's murder as it was one of the leads that clue him in to the Wraith's identity. He gives up when Packard dies and the Wraith is no longer around.
- Short Circuit: Captain Schroeder stops at nothing to capture and destroy a rogue piece of military equipment armed with a laser capable of blowing up a tank. But since Number Five "is alive" this makes him the bad guy. Even the creators admit that Schroder was doing the right thing.
- In Marmoulak, the Warden is a textbook case. He is an extremely cruel religious fundamentalist who pursues Reza Marmoulak tirelessly and declares his intention to force all the prisoners to go to heaven. However, he seems to genuinely believe that he is doing the right thing, and shows some signs of softening at the very end.
- Michael McKeane as the INS officer from Coneheads is so determined to capture the Coneheads he grabs onto their car with his assistant in tow. As said car is being lifted up by the mother ship. Beldar bring him back to Earth in exchange for a green card.
- In Ant-Man, Scott's ex-wife's fiancé Paxton is a cop who is distrustful of Scott due to his criminal past, and later in the movie begins to pursue Scott after he escapes police custody, unaware that Scott is working to save the world. He eventually learns the truth and uses his position to clear Scott's charges.
- Les Misérables named the trope with the original Inspector Javert. In his face, the narrator describes seeing "what could be called all the evil of good." Javert subverted the trope of maniacal lawfulness once in the book: during the street brawl of Fantine and Monsieur Bamatabois, he thought her guilty of everything and refused to hear how she had been attacked, because she was a prostitute. A character true to the spirit of the trope would have accused both of them. This is a display of idealism rather than stupidity—Fantine, being a prostitute, was already a law-breaker, whereas Monsieur Bamatabois was 'innocent.' Similarly, he refuses to accept that Jean Valjean was not necessarily in the wrong when he stole a loaf of bread, and he follows Valjean mercilessly for decades for what amounted to a parole violation. Worst of all even after Valjean saves his life, Javert still can't make himself admit that he's wrong, and is actually Driven to Suicide for his failure, in effect killing himself over his failure to accomplish a goal that never had any real importance.
- That's not the only way to interpret Javert's decision; he could instead have realized just how wrong he was about the world, and critically failed to cope.
- Most likely, it's both. He is a man of complex emotions.
- Also of note is that when Javert isn't chasing Valjean, he's otherwise very good at his job. He leads a group of Paris police officers in catching the Patron-Minette street gang, and correctly pegged "Monsieur Madeleine" as Valjean. However, when a case of Mistaken Identity leads him to think that he had Wrongly Accused Madeleine, he begs Valjean to dismiss him for his screwup-showing that Javert is no more tolerant of his own sins than he is of anyone else's.
- Javert lives the most rigid and unyielding code of conduct of anyone in the novel, and shows mercy to no one - not even himself. By releasing Valjean, he's committed a capital crime. As a man of the law, his code of conduct requires that he give his life as punishment for that crime.
- That's not the only way to interpret Javert's decision; he could instead have realized just how wrong he was about the world, and critically failed to cope.
- Mr. Fix in Around the World in 80 Days is rightfully determined to catch a bank robber. It's just that the protagonist fits the description he was given of the criminal's apearance. However he is a bit more reasonable than some examples here, seeing as he does release Phileas Fog when he realizes his mistake.
- The FBI agents in the Dale Brown novel A Time for Patriots are obsessed with putting Patrick McLanahan away, convinced that he's a Right Wing Militia Fanatic.
- John Mandrake, from The Bartimaeus Trilogy, is a fairly high-ranking government official charged with wiping out the Resistance. He genuinely believes the Government to be in the right, and continues hunting down the final member of the Resistance until the government collapses and demons attack London.
- Inspector Glebski from The Dead Mountaineer's Hotel is a rare example of the main character playing Javert. He has some pretty good reasons, but eventually his actions are directly responsible for the Downer Ending.
- The Dresden Files:
- Morgan. He starts out as a Well-Intentioned Extremist and almost malicious about it, but after seven books or so his opinion of Harry gets upgraded to "reckless and unpredictable but probably not evil" (which, to be fair, is pretty accurate). He's at least suspicious until the book he dies in, but he eventually becomes willing to listen to Harry and give him a chance.
- Murphy occasionally acts as this, as well, though only in the first book— after Harry fully explains The Masquerade to her in Summer Knight (rather than giving her minimum information as cases demanded), she's much more cooperative.
- Her former co-worker, Rudolph, went in the opposite direction as her. While Murphy went from a Javert-ish policewoman (Towards Harry, anyway) to a far more reasonable character that didn't beat him up and/or arrest him like she did in the first two books, Rudolph went from a reasonably character that trusted Harry to Jerkass Smug Snake that will try to have Harry and Murphy arrested at any possible time, even if that means lying his ass off.
- Sherlock Holmes and his brother, Mycroft, in the Enola Holmes series. In this case, they are simply doing what they thought was right trying to find their naive 14 year old runaway sister and force into Finishing School before something terrible happens to her. However, by the end of the series over that year of hunting her, Sherlock slowly realizes that Enola has grown into a capable young woman and a brilliant professional detective in her own right. As such, his determination to capture Enola fades until he helps her prove herself to Mycroft who soon respects her liberty.
- The Fear Index has Leclerc who by the end is completely convinced that Alex is mentally unhinged and tries to stop him.
- In the Gaunt's Ghosts novel Blood Pact Inquisitor Rime seems too eager to see Gaunt guilty of being a Chaos agent. When it turns out that Rime is really a Chaos officer, things suddenly make so much sense.
- Harry Potter:
- The Ministry of Magic much of the time, especially under the Fudge administration — especially in Book Five, or with Sirius Black in general.
- Umbridge initially seems to be this, in her first appearance by Book 5. By Deathly Hallows, though, it's clear that the law is more just a way to quench some sadistic and power-hungry impulses (whereas, an Inspector Javert follows the law to the letter because they believe in the moral rightness of it).
- The Seeker in The Host, who is convinced that Wanderer is still alive even after she disappears after days in the desert and continues to search for her for months.
- Paula Myo from the Pandora's Star series by Peter F. Hamilton is genetically engineered to be an Inspector Javert, to the point where she turns in her parents, who kidnapped her at birth for their crimes. When circumstances force her to decide between arresting the Well-Intentioned Extremist and saving the human race from extinction, she suffers a near-fatal nervous breakdown.note
- The Furies in the first Percy Jackson and the Olympians book, which makes sense as this is essentially their function in Classical Mythology, particularly in The Oresteia, where the Furies relentlessly pursue Orestes.
- Chauvelin of The Scarlet Pimpernel — hmmm... must be a French thing. Charged with hunting down the Pimpernel, he pursues his quarry with a singleminded determination that borders of fanaticism. And he has no qualms about using aristocratic prisoners as live bait for the Pimpernel.
- Inspector Russell Flint in Tom Sharpe's novel Wilt, who thinks Wilt has murdered his wife. He's even worse in The Movie based on the book.
- In quite a few of Discworld City Watch books deliberately set up Commander Sam Vimes as a subversion of this trope. He is absolutely dedicated to the law, and will doggedly pursue any criminal...as long as it's just. This is made most obvious in Night Watch, where he pursues the murderous criminal Carcer, who complains he's being unfairly prosecuted just for stealing a loaf of bread.
- The Vogons from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy are so bueracratic that they stop at nothing to finish the demolition of Earth, to the point where they manage to destroy every single version of the Earth in every reality and timeline, along with the main protagonists. All that just so they can put a tick in the box.
- In The Watchmaker Of Filigree Street, Dolly Williamson of Scotland Yard is convinced that the titular watchmaker is responsible for making the bombs that Irish nationalists have been setting off in London, and harasses him throughout the book. It turns out to be the clockmaker working as a police consultant.
- Lieutenant Gerard, The Fugitive who will doggedly track down any sighting of Richard Kimble, no matter where it takes him in the country. Hardly surprising given that the character is designed as a modern version of Inspector Javert of Les Miserables.
- Reporter Jack McGee, The Incredible Hulk, who vows to hunt the Hulk down and bring the creature to the law's attention, believing that the Hulk had killed Dr. Marks and David Banner.
- At least in the first season of Angel, there was a detective named Kate who pursues Angel and his team somewhat relentlessly. Although sometimes she's an ally, eventually she turns into nothing but the Inspector Javert of the show, after her father is killed by vampires and she blames Angel. For example, after a Back from the Dead Darla tells her that Angel was behind a string of murders, Kate unhesitatingly storms the Hyperion with a SWAT team to have him arrested. However, she is forced to accept the truth when Gunn points out that Angel, being a vampire, couldn't possibly have just stormed in and killed someone in their own home unless he was explicitly invited or the residents were already dead. Later, Holtz takes up the role, though it's a bit more ambiguous as the crimes he seeks justice (or, increasingly, vengeance) for are ones Angel has undeniably committed.
- The cops and prosecutors from Perry Mason. This is a slight variant in that they believe the hero's clients to be guilty, rather than the hero himself.
- In the second season finale of Sherlock, the entire police department becomes this for Sherlock himself.
- Star Trek:
- In an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a renegade Star Fleet officer acknowledges Captain Sisko's pursuit of him as well-intentioned, while he considers himself a Jean Valjean character. Sisko's reaction is to "become Javert", and act like a villain, manipulating his quarry into surrendering in an act of self-sacrifice. He does this by releasing a chemical weapon on a human-inhabited world that makes it uninhabitable to humans after Eddington did the same thing to a Cardassian-inhabited planet.
- The entire Federation is this in the eyes of the Maquis. It's somewhat telling that the destroyed Maquis ship whose crew later joined Voyager is mentioned as having being named the Valjean.
- 24 does this. All the time. The latest one has been Special Agent in Charge of D.C. Branch, Larry Moss, who believes Jack Bauer has gone off the far end with the death of Bill Buchanan, and is off on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against everyone who has wronged him.
- Completely subverted in the case of Chloe O'Brien in the final season. Chloe initially doesn't believe Jack's claims that the Russian government is really behind all the attacks on New York since she's worried he's snapped after the murder of Renee Walker. She's wrong about them not being involved. She's completely right about him going off the deep end. In the end Chloe now has to expose the Russians as the real villains and simultaneously keep Jack from killing them and starting an international crisis, instead making her a Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist.
- All forms of law enforcement in Supernatural are after the brothers for the various crimes they have committed and been framed for over the course of their demon hunting careers. At one point when they realise that the FBI has a division working on their case they just sit, stare at each other and realise just how royally screwed they are if anyone catches them.
The Inspector Javert in this case is Agent Henricksen, who eventually comes around to the Winchesters' innocence in "Jus in Bello," before being killed by the Big Bad.
- The marshal pursuing Kate on Lost He finally caught her, but then died in the plane crash.
- This from Prison Break's creator and head writer: When the second season of Prison Break was pitched to the network as something akin to The Fugitive, executives asked the writers to include a "Tommy Lee Jones" antagonist to hunt down the protagonists. This led to the character of FBI Agent Mahone, who spent the first seven episodes portrayed as an intense, intelligent but well-intentioned FBI manhunter. Then he started murdering the fugitives, on the orders of the evil Company who threatened to kill his wife and son if he didn't comply. It got worse from there. Mahone's intelligence and ability to rival Michael turned him into an Ensemble Dark Horse. In the following seasons, Mahone's crimes committed while in pursuit of the protagonists ruined his role as Inspector Javert and made him part of the criminal team, and therefore one of the "good" guys.
- Lt. Jon Kavanaugh of The Shield fits, though his target, Vic Mackey, isn't innocent to say the least despite being the protagonist.
- Almost every season of Charmed had an SFPD detective out to expose the Halliwells, due to the proliferation of incidents that they seemed to be on the periphery of. Whether eventual ally, lover or near-caricature (Season 8's Sheridan actually best fits the Javert description) one and all tend to suffer for getting between the Halliwells and those targeting them.
- Detective Dorn from Deadly Games was following the Charmed path, but the series was Cut Short before his investigation got very far.
- Doubly subverted by Detective Tritter of House: he's really out for personal revenge against House, but House really is guilty of abusing prescription drugs. Tritter's entire basis for squeezing the hospital and House was that he was a suspected drug dealer, which is laughable considering how obsessive House is about about hoarding his Vicodin.
- Francis in the television version of Logan's Run swings between this and Smug Snake.
- Bilar Crais from Farscape is a combo if this and It's Personal, spending all of Season 1 being the Big Bad, trying to bring to justice/get revenge on John for accidentally causing the death of Crais' brother.
- Numerous characters from the Law & Order universe go through this from time to time, but the most egregious examples have been Jack McCoy and Elliot Stabler, both of whom have done things during cases that should have gotten them fired or even locked up.
- Doctor Who: The Judoon seem to be a whole race of Inspector Javerts. Ruthless, efficent, logical, and not really caring about the morality of the crime or sentence. That said, they will follow the laws of the planet they are on, such as following the speed limit in a car chase and handing out a promise to return/repay the car's owner for the trouble. Justice must be served.
In their first appearance, they transported an entire hospital to the moon in order to pursue their quarry without infringing on Earth's sovereign jurisdiction. The Doctor has to spent most of the episode outrunning them, since their execution order didn't specify not to kill any innocent alien they might find in the hospital.
- Psi Cop Bester from Babylon 5. He is a consistent thorn in the side of the entire B5 crew and does a few truly reprehensible things to them, but it's usually because he genuinely believes that he is acting in the best interests of his people, the telepaths, who are persecuted by "mundanes" such as the B5 commanding staff. He is also always quick to remind them that he has the authority of the law behind him.
- The Grey and Gray Morality makes things slightly ambiguous, but one of Nucky Thompson's antagonists in Boardwalk Empire is a Knight Templar Prohibition agent, Nelson Van Alden, who becomes obsessed with exposing his criminal activities at all costs. He finally succeeds in Jumping Off the Slippery Slope when he murders his own partner for corruption, which once it's found out puts him on the run. He does manage to convince his superiors of Thompson's criminality, however, and his replacement on the case is a much more level-headed and competent Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist.
- In The A-Team, the military police who are chasing the A-Team qualify as this, notably recurring antagonists Colonel Lynch, Colonel Decker, and General Fullbright. Fullbright doubles as a General Ripper.
- Slater from Only Fools and Horses. He will nick for anything you've done! In fact he will nick you for anything you haven't done and he won't let a little thing like "Innocence" get in his way!
- Detective Fales from Denver in Longmire. He's investigating Walt and Henry for the murder of the crackhead who killed Walt's wife. This bites him in the ass big time when Longmire discovers Fales suppressed evidence that would link David Ridges to said crackhead, and gives it to his daughter, allowing the charges against Henry to be dropped. The tragedy is that his targets are actually guilty of a series of lesser but still serious crimes but he is too focused on exposing Walt as a corrupt sheriff to consider the whole picture.
- Renee Montoya plays this role in the early episodes of Gotham pursuing the mistaken belief that Jim Gordon framed Mario Pepper and murdered Oswald Copplepot. The situation is further complicated by the fact that Jim is engaged to her ex Barbara and she continues to carry feelings for Barbara. Her partner Crispus Allen calls her out of this saying she is taking things too personally.
- Pharisee in Dino Attack RPG is depicted as an arrogant, self-righteous individual who has decided it is his divine right to impart justice on wrong-doers, even though the world isn't as black and white as he sees it. There are two notable instances of Pharisee being the Inspector Javert:
- During the hunt for The Mole, Pharisee came to the conclusion, with much tangible evidence to support it, that Amanda Claw was actually Silencia Venomosa, a ruthless assassin and mercenary, and was thus most likely the Mole. While he was correct in his deduction of Venomosa's identity, what he could not comprehend was that Venomosa had retired and was striving to redeem herself of her crimes. As a result, he was wrong about Amanda being the Mole.
- During the Final Battle, there is one point where Pharisee, while tracking down a pair of deserters (including one Boxed Crook), was mercilessly beating Montoya, a former small-time criminal who was also trying to go straight and was just trying to get back home to his wife. After tracking down one of the deserters, Pharisee did have a Heel Realization of sorts in regards to the needlessly brutal treatment of Montoya.
- In the musical of Les Misérables, the literal Inspector Javert is a flanderized version of himself. He comes across as completely obsessed with catching Valjean and Valjean alone, as opposed to being the well-intentioned extremist he is in the novel. It's mainly due to the necessary distillation of the 1900+ pages that was the original work.
- Bells Are Ringing has Inspector Barnes, a Vice Squad cop eager to get a promotion by closing down Susanswerphone on the flimsiest circumstantial evidence that the answering girls are too close to their subscribers.
- Agent Nightengale from Alan Wake has convinced himself that the eponymous hero is responsible for his own wife's dissappearance, and is utterly bullheaded towards any attempts, by Alan or otherwise, to dissuade him of this.
- Noel in Blazblue is this when she comes across Ragna, the highest bounty criminal wanted by her organisation NOL.
- Dragon Age II:
- In the Templar path, Knight Commander Meredith believes that Hawke somehow masterminded the entire Mage-Templar conflict and that he/she is a greater threat to Kirkwall than the rogue Circle that Hawke just helped her to Annul. At the beginning of the Final Battle she prays to the Maker to give her the strength to defeat the great evil she imagines Hawke to be. She has a moment of doubt when she realizes she's losing, but it passes quickly.
- In the Mage path and if Hawke is a Mage, she believes that in addition to orchestrating the rebellion, they're using Blood Magic to corrupt her fellow Templars and turn them against her. She becomes even more convinced of this when Knight-Captain Cullen finally has enough of her tyranny and tells her that if she wants to arrest Hawke, she has to go through him first. At that point in the game it's obvious that she's been driven kind of insane by the Lyrium Idol.
- Carla and Tyler from Fahrenheit. Subverted in that they are absolutely correct in their suspicions of Lucas; it's just that the Ancient Conspiracy is far more important than the murder he committed.
- Final Fantasy IX: As The Captain of Alexandria's 'Knights of Pluto', Steiner is naturally distrustful of Zidane's intentions with Princess Garnet. Zidane's a decent guy, though, if a bit of a Chivalrous Pervert.
- The first Front Mission game features the O.C.U. and U.S.N. (later called U.C.S.) as this trope toward one another, being two rivaling super-powers until the cease-fire that incorporates them both into the Peace Mediation, which together becomes this toward the "terroristic" Soul of Huffman.
- The Commander (Lloyd/custom name) ends up as this toward Driscoll, except that he turns out more exactly right than he ever assumed.
- It is interesting to note that Colonel Olson, who rags on the main commander for such a thing, himself pretending to be this to disguise being one of the two moles!
- Heavy Rain, Spiritual Successor of Fahrenheit, has Lt. Blake thinking that Ethan Mars, the Red Herring suspect, is the Origami Killer. He's wrong. He's less heroic as other examples, being an incompetent Rabid Cop who is convinced of Ethan's guilt despite the flimsy evidence.
- The police in Jet Set Radio', to an extent; the main characters are'' fighting for free expression, but since they do so via graffiti...
- Spectre Jondam Bau from Mass Effect 3 to Kasumi. Okay, Kasumi really is a thief, but it's a bit odd to be pursuing a woman who mostly goes for artwork during the Reaper invasion, when one would think the focus would be on the ancient beings who are out for the blood of every sentient organic race. He does respect her enough that when she sends him a tip relating to the war he pursues it, but after she saves his life and either dies or appears to his first reaction is "I was going to arrest her!"
- Deputy Chief Jim Bravura in the original Max Payne. He returns in the sequel as Da Chief with the eponymous protagonist serving under him.
- Goyoda Heiji/Bob Copper in Mega Man Star Force. He has a valid reason to believe Mega Man is bad in the anime, as he at one point cuts open a truck full of radio viruses slated (presumably) for cleaning or deletion while trying to escape a particularly nasty enemy. Though the man is hilariously incompetent at this, despite being very competent at everything else regarding his job, and very, very persistent. Geo seems to be incredibly good at this Clark Kenting thing.
- Mega Man Zero: The Neo Arcadians, four of them being the Four Guardians, hold this to an extreme against most reploids, including Zero in the first two games; whether Copy-X truly believes this or simply pretends is debatable. Later on, they all slowly come around, Fefnir the fastest and Leviathan the slowest.
- Though in Zero 3 Harpuia has come around concerning Zero, he still takes a while learning to trust the rest of La Résistance.
- The cops and prosecutors from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney are similar to the ones in Perry Mason... well, except for Manfred von Karma in the first game, who knows damn well who the real killers are, being one of them himself.
- Franziska doesn't care if the defendant is guilty or innocent, as long as she wins the trial.
- Edgeworth in particular is like this toward the end of the first game's second case (when Phoenix is the defendant). Not too long afterward, this trope gets subverted at the end of the third case when Edgeworth is convinced that Phoenix's client is innocent and joins Phoenix in going after one of the witnesses.
- Shi-Long Lang, and his relentless hunt to convict criminals and his dislike for Edgeworth because he's a prosecutor, despite him reforming. Amusingly his wolf-like design inverts Javert's description as 'a Dog among Wolves.'
- To some extent Vhailor from Planescape: Torment qualifies for this role. Although the nature of the story makes it go a rather unusual route. It gave him superhuman powers. He was conscious of it, and so was The Nameless One, whose Genre Savvy Practical Incarnation decided to bottle him up, not just to put a halt to his relentless pursuit, but for later use.
- Carmelita Fox from Sly Cooper believes Sly is nothing but a low-life criminal and will try to gun him down whenever she sees him. Sly's actually more of an Anti-Hero who steals from other criminals for his own purpose, but he's a whole lot better than the baddies in the series.
- Sonic the Hedgehog:
- Tales of Vesperia:
- Leblanc, Adecor, and Boccos. They never quit chasing Yuri. Even when you fight Adecor and Boccos in the Coliseum, they're still trying to arrest him.
- Flynn plays the part for a bit with Yuri, too.
- Maiev Shadowsong in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne starts off as one, dedicating an exorbitant amount of time and energy into tracking down her former prisoner Illidan Stormrage. However, as the campaign goes on, she becomes increasingly determined to capture Illidan not for justice's sake, but to avenge the deaths of the Wardens who died guarding or trying to recapture Illidan, which leads to some very rash decisions and, eventually, her to being captured by the very man she was hunting. By the time The Burning Crusade expansion of World of Warcraft rolls around, it's stopped being about justice and has become very, very personal, to the point of where she finally exacts her revenge...only to find she's got nothing left to live for afterwards.
- Fully subverted with her reappearance in the novel Wolfheart, where her Principles Zealotry leads her to turning against her own people, disgusted with them letting the Highbourne back into Night Elven society during her absence.
- Miko Miyazaki from The Order of the Stick at first, until she goes off the deep-end thinking she is the 12 gods' vessel.
- Agent Rammer from Sluggy Freelance relentlessly tries to capture Dr. Schlock and Aylee, who are, admittedly, often on the murky side of the moral spectrum.
- Klaus Wulfenbach from Girl Genius. He's chasing down Agatha when she hasn't done anything yet...but he has very good reason to not want an "untried Heterodyne heir" running amok through Europe. He also believes her to be The Other, given that the last time he met Agatha she was possessed by The Other. In the next arc, he'd be willing to ignore his grievous injuries and knock down Castle Heterodyne to get at her...if his own son wasn't in there too.
- As of the first Paris storyline, Agatha is still possessed by the other and fairly predictable and minor incidents are known to be capable of giving the Other control, so Klaus' fears have been upgraded from paranoid fanaticism to 100% justified in all respects, making him more of a Hero Antagonist.
- Captain Jhalm from Digger believes that Digger is dangerous and repeatedly tries to capture her.
- Emile Severin from Sire is an inversion, believe it or not. While he regularly beats up Susan for being a Jerkass, he still treats her and Anna as innocent due to not knowing they're guilty of murdering Paul. It doesn't hurt that he's related to the actual Javert, either.
- Unsounded has Captain Emil Toma and his subordinate, Elka, who both mistakenly believe Duane and Sette to be members of the Red Berry Boys, a gang that kidnaps people, cuts out the organs, and uses the space to smuggle an illegal substance inside them. On the plus side, they're at least also going after actual members of the Red Berry Boys.
- One episode of Thomas the Tank Engine had Thomas run afoul of a particularly over zealous constable who makes a big deal out of Thomas travelling down a tramway without cowcatchers and side plates, to which Thomas remarks that he doesn't catch cows. The constable marks Thomas as a regular law breaker, despite the fact that his predecessor whom Thomas was good friends with had no problem with Thomas using that road. Supplementary materials written by the Reverend Awdry explain that the offending officer enforced small laws that none of his peers really cared about.
- Batman Beyond: Barbara tends to come off as such towards Terry. It's shown to its greatest extent in "Eyewitness," in which Spellbinder uses his illusion technology to make Barbara believe that Batman had murdered Mad Stan in cold blood. When he is exposed and promptly arrested, Spellbinder takes the time to taunt Barbara:
Spellbinder: You were so ready to believe the worst [in Batman], it was easy.
- Barbara even acknowledges herself that she screwed up big-time and gives Terry a public service award as an apology.
- In the first two seasons of The Batman, the grouchy and hot tempered Chief Rojas was this to Batman, thinking him just as much a "freak" as the guys in Arkham. In the first season, Detective Ellen Yin was the same, but she changed her mind by season two, becoming Batman's ally.
- Agent James Bennet in The Zeta Project genuinely believes that Zeta has been turned against them and is a threat. Despite the number of times he has saved people, the comments of his own team, and the time Zeta saved his own son.
This may have changed when he overheard the chip in Zeta's head was an conscious chip, and is indeed not with the terrorists. However the show was canceled before anything could be shown.
- SWAT Kats: Commander Feral, continually running them down to the media for the property damaged caused by actually stopping the threats to the public. At least partially because he and the Enforcers are unable to.
- Truant Officer Langley Turk from the Fillmore! episode "Field Trip of the Just". Turk is determined to bust Fillmore for truancy because of Fillmore's delinquent past. Fillmore actually has a pass allowing him to be out of school, but Turk assumes it is a forgery.
- WALL•E: The Microbe Obliterator (M-O) takes great pride in his work. Whatever contaminants enter his domain are throughly purged with the efficiency only a robot can have. He sees WALL•E as a cancer upon the great Axiom, as the trash-compacting robot unintentionally leaves filth and pestilence in his wake. M-O knows not and cares not for why WALL•E has come to the Axiom. He only knows that WALL•E must be cleansed. Nothing will distract him from his goal. Not distance, not danger, not even the rules that he has lived by his entire life. The road is long, for he must purge the filth that serves as his trail to the heretic. But when he finds WALL•E, he will be at his weakest. He will be at his mercy. And he will be cleansed. And then they'll become BFF. note
- Gatchaman Expies the S-Forcenote from Megas XLR come to Earth to fight Coop because they think he's a bad guy. So does their regular arch-nemesis, who wants to team up with him. Coop's attempts to prove that he is a good guy don't work out very well.
- Leela is like this towards Fry when they first meet on Futurama, relentlessly pursuing him in attempt to assign him a career. It's later subverted, as she's chasing after Fry on orders only, and hates her job. This is what makes her quit and join Fry and Bender.
- The Van Helsing parody Ludwig Von Goosewing in Count Duckula, who is fundamentally incapable of grasping that his quarry is a harmless Vegetarian Vampire.
- Razoul from Aladdin is also this, though particularly in the animated series he has his Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist moments. He does get better at the end of the threequel, though.
- Solomon, the leader of G3 (Galactic Guardian Group) in Sym-Bionic Titan. He's not a villain, but still is suspicious of whoever's controlling the Titan.
- Subverted in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Jet spends a few episodes trying to prove that Zuko is a firebender. He is right, but Zuko has changed from an Anti-Villain to a Byronic Hero, and the audience is set up to expect that he'll make a full Heel-Face Turn any time now - leading most of said audience to root for Zuko and consider Jet an Inspector Javert. Then Zuko helps Azula take over Ba Sing Se, revealing Jet to really have been a Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist.