->'''Clementine:''' You don't have to do this. It's mean.\\
'''Michelle:''' You gotta be mean to keep goin' out here.\\
'''Clementine:''' I'm not mean.\\
'''Michelle:''' Yeah? And who got your gun?
-->-- ''VideoGame/TheWalkingDead''

There are certain mentalities that create {{Jerkass}}es, or at least allow them to tolerate themselves. They come in many versions, but most of them boil down to one of a few justifications:

* VirtueIsWeakness: "Kindness is weakness and NiceGuysFinishLast. If you want to get ahead in [[CrapsackWorld this world]], you have to be ruthless, mean, and [[ManipulativeBastard manipulative]]."
* MoralMyopia: "I'm right and all these peasants are wrong, so it's OK to treat them like crap [[{{Anvilicious}} just to hammer my point in.]]" The stock phrase "I'm not a jerk, [[EnragedByIdiocy I just don't suffer fools]]" may be used in their defense, the [[IResembleThatRemark implied insult of which only serves to prove the accuser's point]].
* AppealToInherentNature: "[[ItsWhatIDo That's just the way I am]], and I can't (or don't care to) change. If anyone doesn't like it, they can deal with it!"
* JustJokingJustification: "Come on, can't you take a joke? I'm TooFunnyToBeEvil! You people have NoSenseOfHumor."
* ToughLove: "I'm treating you like crap just to toughen you up!"
* UsefulNotes/VictimBlaming: "[[NeverMyFault It's their own fault]] for [[WhyDidYouMakeMeHitYou provoking me into hurting them]]!"
* [[CorruptCorporateExecutive Appeal to Market Forces]]: "The demand is there! Someone's going to get rich doing this, it might as well be me!"

{{Straw Nihilist}}s, {{Manipulative Bastard}}s and {{Jerkass}}es of every type will self-righteously spout one of these philosophies whenever called out on their hostility, arrogance, and general pissy behavior.

Just because an author believes this about a character doesn't mean that every sympathetic character in the story should view the character as a justified jerk. In real life, some people have a hard time dealing with people who act abrasively and are unlikely to know why they act like jerks in the first place. Having everyone make excuses for the character in the story itself may result in a JerkSue.

[[JerkassDissonance When the fans do this on their own]], a DracoInLeatherPants is born. See also WhatTheHellHero, a frequent response to Jerk Justifications. If a character's Jerk Justifications are the result of [[DarkAndTroubledPast painful experience]], can result in a JerkassWoobie.


[[folder: Virtue Is Weakness ]]

* Your average CorruptCorporateExecutive, if they got enough CharacterDevelopment to be called out on their cruelty, will respond with something like this.
* Creator/NiccoloMachiavelli's ''Literature/ThePrince'' is all about this type. However, he does ''not'' justify KickTheDog {{jerkass}}ery to the point of people ''hating'' you.
* Nabiki from ''Manga/RanmaOneHalf'' tends to invoke VirtueIsWeakness if she gets called on her behaviour (which is [[KarmaHoudini rarely]]).
%%* Kreia of KnightsOfTheOldRepublic 2 is a variant.
* Souther of ''Manga/FistOfTheNorthStar''. For him, to be ahead in the CrapsackWorld where he lives, one has to be as ruthless and devoid of compassion as possible.
* Kratos' justification in ''VideoGame/GodOfWarSeries''. Not entirely wrong, since many times he must kill innocent bystanders if he wants to survive. The Olympians' justification is more like MoralMyopia.
* Guy of Gisborne from ''Series/RobinHood'' is of the VirtueIsWeakness variety in regards to his pursuit of his ambition, but also a little Appeal to Inherent Nature in that he is well aware that he has "committed heinous crimes." Only he isn't prepared to do anything about it except to rely on Marian to "wash away his sins." She begs to differ. It does not end well.
* ''And that's how [[Series/{{Glee}} Sue]] C's it!"
* A common justification for cliques, trolls, internet bullies and doxing (fishing for people's personal information or using it against them). Of course, the instant any of this stuff happens to THEM you can expect them to drop their "morality" like a sack of hammers.
* ''Radio/AbsolutePower'': Charles Prentiss. He's a bastard because being a bastard ''works''. You might wish it didn't, and he has some sympathy with that viewpoint. But it ''does''.
* Silver from ''VideoGame/PokemonGoldAndSilver'' and its remakes, though he eventually gets over it.
* In ''Manga/{{Berserk}}'', Guts, after his horrific ordeal during the Eclipse, adopts this attitude during his vengeance-obsessed Black Swordsman days, [[TheSocialDarwinist considering innocent civilians to be "small fry without the strength to truly live,"]] who he would not lift a finger to help against the ravening demons that are drawn to his Brand of Sacrifice and which he regularly has to fight. Thankfully, he gets over this when he finds Casca again and gathers a new circle of TrueCompanions, though he still has to deal with a very nasty EnemyWithin that represents the worst of what he used to be.
* Galatea ("Golly") from ''Webcomic/TheInexplicableAdventuresOfBob'' is raised with nothing but kibble to eat and various [[TheSocialDarwinist Nietzsche-inspired]] literature to read, so it's no real surprise that she produces these justifications.
* Lelouch from ''Anime/CodeGeass'' puts on this kind of act as a mask, but does believe some of it (mainly the NiceGuysFinishLast and WorldHalfEmpty parts). However, his ultimate goal is to make the world a better place and completely overturn this kind of attitude, and he's willing to [[WellIntentionedExtremist take some extreme measures to achieve it]].
* Tywin Lannister (and pretty much every other {{Jerkass}} in the series) in ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' / ''Series/GameOfThrones'': Westeros is a CrapsackWorld where doing the honorable thing will get not only you but probably everyone around you killed. A little PragmaticVillainy, on the other hand, can help stabilize the kingdom and make sure that most people can continue on with their lives.
** As with the [[DeconstructedTrope series theme]], such actions always have a cause and effect, when you ephaized with the latter over the former. By the time [[spoiler:Tywin dies]], all the fear and hatred against the Lannisters past actions comes back to bite them, as everyone now wants to oust the Lannisters, and their hold over the realm crumbles under [[EvilIsPetty Cersei Lannister's]] reign.
* Mello from ''Manga/DeathNote''. In order to catch Kira, he enlists the help of TheMafia, and holds [[spoiler: Sayu]] hostage in order to get the notebook. He says he'll do whatever it takes to get ahead, and [[PunchClockHero it seems he cares more about besting Near than he does about bringing Kira to justice]].
* Though she pretends to be of the ToughLove variety, Rowena of ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' is really this at heart. "[[BadIsGoodAndGoodIsBad Love is weakness,]] and I will ''never'' be weak."
* [[WesternAnimation/RickAndMorty Rick Sanchez]] believes in the trope due to his being smarter than most people he's around. He even claimed niceness was "something [[GoodIsDumb stupid people]] use to get ahead in life".

[[folder: Moral Myopia ]]

* Every {{straw|Character}}man ever. Likewise every JerkJock and AlphaBitch. [[HiddenDepths At]] [[FreudianExcuse first]]...
%%* [[WesternAnimation/TransformersAnimated Sentinel Prime]].
* ''Webcomic/LeastICouldDo'' will twist itself into storytelling pretzels in order to let Rayne be a {{Jerkass}} wish fulfillment character and still look like a good guy in the end, usually by pulling a justification out of thin air that leads to everyone apologizing to Rayne and saying he was right all along. In one arc, Rayne's company is hiring but he doesn't tell his jobless friend Issa. When she angrily confronts him and demands to know why he didn't get her a job, he says that she needs to earn it by merit rather than getting it through favoritism -- and this is after weeks of comedic backpedaling to avoid telling the truth.
* ''Literature/SwordOfTruth'': Terry Goodkind's at it again, this time with other characters.
* ''Literature/TheGulagArchipelago'' has the line, "What can I do with the incorrigible directness of my personality! ... I am compelled to utter reprimands; it disciplines those nearby."
* Lucifer (and most evil angels) in ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' think of themselves as being [[FantasticRacism above humans]], making it OK to kill them.


[[folder: Appeal To Inherent Nature ]]

* Most characters with {{Freudian Excuse}}s for their behavior fall back on this excuse. Apparently, MommyIssues are more important than self control and common decency.
* This is usually the justification for the JerkSue. In the author's failed attempt to excuse whatever the JerkSue does and cast them in a sympathetic or just "assertive," they end up writing it off as this.
* Sawyer from ''Series/{{Lost}}'' is Appeal to Inherent Nature, with a little bit of self-loathing and a whole lot of [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold Heart of Gold]] thrown in. At least, he was in the first seasons. He would usually justify his actions with "I'm not a good person."
* Gene Simmons and Ted Nugent have used this in RealLife.
* "Take Me Or Leave Me," from ''Theatre/{{RENT}}'', is essentially an entire song of the Appeal to Inherent Nature justification. Most of it is on [[AnythingThatMoves Maureen's]] part, but Joanne does a lot of justifying and refusing to compromise by the number's end.
* In ''Franchise/KingdomHearts'', Organization XIII uses this kind of excuse for their actions. Since they're Nobodies, who don't have hearts, it's simply in their nature to screw with the universe and the heroes, but it's clear from the start that 80% of the excuse is MoralMyopia. To be fair, the whole "missing a heart" bit makes them sociopaths by design. It's rather easy to be a jerk when you're completely incapable of empathy.
* Sam Puckett on ''Series/ICarly'' very much this type. Has had another character say outright that it would be weird if she didn't make them miserable, simply because Sam refuses to grow up or act maturely. Could very well be a FreudianExcuse, because in a later episode, it's revealed that Sam's mother, Pam, is ''exactly the same way''.
* Damon on ''Series/TheVampireDiaries'' has used "I'm a vampire" as an excuse for his behavior a few times. It would be a lot more convincing if not for the behavior of several other vampires demonstrating that it really isn't one.
* ScottKurtz. In a webcomics weekly podcast with his friends, they actually point out this has caused him to be alienated amongst pro print cartoonists and he responds by saying that other cartoonists are jerks so he should be able to be one as well.
* The final example on [[http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-excuses-we-make-doing-terrible-things/ this article]] on ''Website/{{Cracked}}'' explains why invoking Appeal to Inherent Nature typically leads to you being ''[[{{Deconstruction}} unable to function in society]]''.
* Don John in ''Theatre/MuchAdoAboutNothing'' has a speech declaring himself to be this.
* In ''Manga/FruitsBasket'', this is the excuse [[ObfuscatingStupidity Shigure]] gives for being so selfish and manipulative.
* Spike on ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer''. After he takes Xander's radio:
-->'''Xander''': Hey, that's mine!\\
'''Spike''': And you're what, shocked and disappointed? I'm ''evil''.


[[folder: Just Joking Justification ]]


[[folder: Tough Love ]]


[[folder: Victim Blaming ]]


[[folder: Appeal to Market Forces ]]
* ''Manga/GunsmithCats'': Rider's justification for running drugs: it'll happen whether or not he does it, so he might as well make money off it. Rally eventually gets him to give it up.


[[folder: Other ]]

* This is definitely TruthInTelevision.
* House, from ''Series/{{House}}, M.D.'', combines MoralMyopia and AppealToInherentNature.
-->"Would you rather a doctor who holds your son's hand while he dies or ignores him as he gets better?"
** Then again, it really is justified. House is an ''amazing'' doctor, which is pretty much the only reason he's still working at that hospital, despite being an utter jackass. The above quote exemplifies his commitment to the GoodIsNotNice trope.
* All three types tend of show up on ''Series/{{Survivor}}'', with people saying VirtueIsWeakness and The Way I Am almost verbatim to the ConfessionCam. By definition, nobody really wants to own up to MoralMyopia, but it's there.
** MoralMyopia appears to be the specialty of Russell, from ''Samoa'' and ''Heroes vs. Villains.''
* ''Series/TheBigBangTheory'': Sheldon Cooper combines MoralMyopia and AppealToInherentNature. Basically, he's House without the {{Deadpan Snark|er}}ing or any sort of personality. He's also an InsufferableGenius.
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'': Azula, while more AxCrazy than {{Jerkass}}, claims VirtueIsWeakness and Appeal to Inherent Nature for herself (during the BeachEpisode she says that her mother was right about her being a monster, and a later episode has her frantically claiming that trust is for fools).
%%* ''Theatre/CyranoDeBergerac'': Cyrano combines all three types.
* Barney Stinson from ''Series/HowIMetYourMother'' uses all three types with great abandon and inconsistency, depending on whichever one will best get him out of a conundrum without admitting he's wrong/non-awesome or showing weakness: when his friends call him out on Appeal to Inherent Nature by saying they're sick of "dealing" with him, he insists upon MoralMyopia. When they prove MoralMyopia wrong by showing him how much damage his jerkassery causes, he falls back on VirtueIsWeakness. When they argue against VirtueIsWeakness by demonstrating that ''they're'' all happy without being jerks, he seizes on to MoralMyopia to dismiss their opinions as signs that they're "lame" and then insists upon Appeal to Inherent Nature, because he's "awesome". And so it begins again.
%%* Arguably, Huckebein family from ''Manga/MagicalRecordLyricalNanohaForce'' combines all three types.
* Reynauld de Chatilllon from ''Film/KingdomOfHeaven''. {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d by him at one point when he slaughters one of many of Saladin's camps.
--> '''Reynauld''': {{I am what I am}}. Someone has to be.
* For some people, especially if one browses Internet forums long enough, hang around {{Troll}}s and {{Jerkass}}es long enough and [[GotMeDoingIt you might start to become a jerk yourself]] and justify it by saying "everyone else is doing it, so I might as well be one, too." Also, if you start a thread asking why people are so mean on the Internet, expect the users, especially the trolls, respond with "[[{{GIFT}} It's the Internet. We can say whatever we want.]]"