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[[caption-width-right:320:[[WhenLifeGivesYouLemons When life]] [[LiteralMinded gives you lemons...]][[note]][[VideoGame/Portal2 Make life take the lemons back!]][[/note]]]]

->''"Creator/ErnestHemingway once wrote, 'The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.' I agree with the second part."''
-->-- '''William Somerset''', ''Film/{{Se7en}}''

The world is filled with [[WideEyedIdealist idealists]] who believe in truth and justice and devote their lives to fighting for it. And then the world keeps letting them down. For them, BeingGoodSucks. But rather than giving up on their goals, they replace their [[KnightInShiningArmor shiny armor]] with a full plate of [[TheCynic pure cynicism]]. These characters realize they live in a [[CrapsackWorld dark, cruel and brutal world]] and choose to fight not because they believe they will truly make a difference, but because it's the right thing to do.

More often than not these characters are in settings that feature BlackAndGrayMorality. They're usually [[ShellShockedVeteran survivors]] who have largely given up on believing in HonorBeforeReason, but still strive to be LawfulGood or as close to it as reality allows them to be. They are willing to bend the rules to save them. In LighterAndSofter settings, these characters are {{Grumpy Bear}}s and are often mocked by the other characters for being so sour all the time.

The presence of cynicism usually makes the idealistic behavior even more noteworthy: it's easy to [[AllLovingHero love everyone]] when RousseauWasRight, but you really have to be a good guy to believe that HumansAreBastards and care about them anyway. Such characters can also be TheFettered; their cynical outlook tells them they could probably get away with all kinds of things that they don't do because [[WhatYouAreInTheDark that would be wrong]], and just because the world sucks doesn't mean you need to make it worse. Then again, this kind of character goes great with a world where you EarnYourHappyEnding after much strife.

This is the inverse of the worldview of most [[WellIntentionedExtremist Well Intentioned Extremists]], especially those who believe that UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans. Extremists or [[KnightTemplar Knights Templar]] may ''believe'' themselves to be this, but their actions are far too extreme. A Knight In Sour Armor believes in the rules and breaks them only when absolutely necessary, which is very rarely; not surprisingly, many have taken a HeroicVow related to this behavior. Often has a personal set of rules, trimmed down to those that really ''matter'' in order to minimize conflicts and distractions. Contributes to the Knight's gruff tendencies, since politeness tends to appear a lot further down the priority list than feeding orphans and so on.

Generally, these characters fit one of two personality types. Members of the first type are former {{Wide Eyed Idealist}}s who have come to [[JadeColoredGlasses accept]] that their world is on the low end of the SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism, but who still find something beautiful in their former ideals that they want to hold on to. Those of the second type are born cynics, who would make natural {{Jerkass}} [[AntiHero antiheroes]], but who nevertheless have devoted themselves to a code of honor or fair play. In either case, these people tend to have gone through (often painful) CharacterDevelopment in their past, meaning that they are normally older than the average hero.

Either way, however, the effect is basically the same: you have a KnightInShiningArmor wearing JadeColoredGlasses; the difference between the first and second types is which comes first.

These characters show up often in FilmNoir, DarkFantasy, and LowFantasy. Law enforcement is a particularly attractive career, but the Knight in Sour Armor will usually hold back from becoming a CowboyCop. Very frequently, they end up as TheMentor, a GrumpyBear with JadeColoredGlasses, TheLastDJ, or a CoolOldGuy if they last long enough. As teammates, they are often the SourSupporter. They also frequently end up as {{Hero Antagonist}}s and extreme [[TheWoobie Woobies]]. This is often the final state of TheAtoner post-HeelFaceTurn. Despite their cynicism, they behave like TheAntiNihilist.

Will often overlap with TheSnarkKnight. Compare AngstWhatAngst, for characters who take the [[BeingGoodSucks troubles of a good alignment]] with far less complaint; NobleDemon, who will [[CardCarryingVillain proudly declare himself evil]], but still finds himself doing good once in awhile; and JerkassWoobie, who spits in the face of the [[CharacterAlignment alignment]] chart. Converted SillyRabbitIdealismIsForKids or GoodIsOldFashioned believers may well find themselves becoming this trope if the heroes can bring them around. If they don't like idealism, but don't like cynicism, either, then you also have a touch of SillyRabbitCynicismIsForLosers



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Edward Elric of ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'' is smug, rude, and claims to be motivated only by a desire to regain his and his brother's bodies, and yet he suffers from a really bad case of ChronicHeroSyndrome.
** Roy Mustang from the same series considers himself to be an irredeemable monster for his actions during the Ishvalan War of Extermination and believes that his country is headed down a monstrous path. He knows he faces forces of unbelievable power and that his chances for success are nearly nil. And yet he works within the system to take it down, willingly suffering injuries to both his body and reputation, in order to make things right.
* Fakir in ''Anime/PrincessTutu'', fitting the jerk type, but only after he gets a grip on his - perfectly understandable - fear.
* Being a former assassin, the titular character from ''Manga/RurouniKenshin'' has a very cynical view of the world. However, he'll seize any opportunity to [[ObfuscatingStupidity fool around]] and will help {{Wide Eyed Idealist}}s whenever he can.
** After being defeated by Kenshin, Sanosuke adopts this view as well. After his group the Sekihoutai were persecuted by the government, he's become a bit more cynical noting the arbitrary labels of good and evil, yet still resolves to protect the weak from oppression.
** Hiko, Kenshin's mentor, is just as cynical as Saitou. He berates Kenshin that yes, the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu successor is meant to protect the innocent and uphold justice, but as a warrior unbound by political prejudices, not a political tool. He knows the age of the swordsmen is over, and is quite bitter about it.
** In the Tsukioku-hen OVA's we meet Kenshin's other two mentors, Kogoro Katsura and Shinsaku Takasugi. They were ''not'' exactly happy with how the soon-to-be UsefulNotes/ImperialJapan was developing, and they weren't shy about letting their unhappiness show either.
* Kazuma Kuwabara of ''Manga/YuYuHakusho'' seems like the only character in the series who both recognizes how truly nasty people can be, and still fights to do right by them.
%%* Dr. Tenma from ''Manga/{{Monster}}'' is of the aforementioned first personality type.
%%* Amuro Ray, originally a wangsty ClassicalAntiHero in ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam'', develops into this in ''Anime/MobileSuitZetaGundam'' and ''CharsCounterattack''.
* ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamWing'': Duo Maxwell is outwardly a cheerful goof, but inside he's experienced the horrors of war first-hand when his adoptive home was destroyed pointlessly by the military (and before that when he was a street urchin). In spite of all this, his ultimate goal is to bring peace to the world, and he's glad to be TheGrimReaper--"It’s a lot better than being the hero of a massacre!"
* Near the end of the 1st season of ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam00'' [[spoiler:Neil Dylandy]] expresses his attitude that he has hidden deep inside with these words: "You people, are you satisfied with this world...? I'm not, and I hate it...!" [[spoiler: And right then, he dies.]]
* ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'':
** Homura Akemi. For someone who knows how the [[CrapsackWorld world]] works and that with kindness comes naïveté, courage becomes foolhardiness, and dedication has no reward, she has a particularly strong ideal and hope in protecting Madoka, even if it means [[YouAreWorthHell suffering]] [[spoiler:[[GroundhogDayLoop an endless recursion of time]]]] for it.
** In the finale, Madoka. [[spoiler:She sacrifices all semblance of her own identity to change the Magical Girl system. She creates a new world where suffering runs just as rampant as ever, acknowledging good cannot exist without evil. And why? Because, by God, Magical Girls deserve to die happily anyway, and she's willing to become the embodiment of hope itself in such a despair-filled world.]]
** Sayaka Miki. After learning [[spoiler:the first]] AwfulTruth of becoming a MagicalGirl and having a heart-to-heart with Kyouko who tells her that she is better off battling witches for her own rewards than to protect others, she still chooses to continue to stay a hero. However, [[spoiler:when her LockedOutOfTheLoop friend Hitomi admits to having also been in love with Kyosuke and gives her a day to admit her feelings, which she can't due to the nature of the truth]], her ideals begin to gradually shift more and more until [[spoiler:she becomes a [[TragicMonster witch]] [[DespairEventHorizon herself]]]].
* Smoker from ''Manga/OnePiece'' is a LawfulGood one: He seems to realize how many marines, especially the higher ups, are corrupt and follows his own idea of justice instead of the absolute justice that is proposed by the most higher ups. Yet, despite being constantly screwed over by his own bosses and his allies, he keeps being a marine and hunts pirates. He's a example of the second type.
* In ''Manga/HayateTheCombatButler'', Hayate and Hinagiku both qualify. Hayate is seen to be ''extremely'' cynical due to his horrid childhood, especially in the manga, but simply can't help but help people he sees in need. Mostly. If he's particularly annoyed with someone (ex: The SC Rangers, Fumi) he will try to avoid getting involved with them but after getting roped into it anyway he always does his best to actually help out. Hinagiku is in a similar position, as past experience has also left her quite cynical to the point where she's more likely to snark at a villain's motives than actually be surprised. Nevertheless, she is a steadfast Ally of Justice (with a legendary sword or two to prove it) who will leap into action to protect others. Both also have a shared trait of helping others even when it would be a detriment to themselves.
* ''Anime/{{Robotech}}'': Rick Hunter goes from being a pacifist to an ace pilot and TheCaptain everyone revolved around in ''The Sentinels''. By the time of the ''New Generation'' segment, it is said that the order to use Neutron-S missiles on Earth came directly from Admiral Hunter (yes, confirmed to be the same Rick Hunter from the Macross Saga). Albeit a SaltTheEarth tactic was practical but it would have killed millions of humans along with hopefully destroying Reflex Point (Invid headquarters). The comic book ''Prelude To Shadow Chronicles'' attempts to {{lampshade|Hanging}} this not only by making it appear to be a committee decision he acquiesced to but he also states "I was an idealist in my youth, but...". Rick did have to deal with the betrayal of General Edwards (in this ''Sentinels'' {{Retcon}}, Rick is noticeably hurt by Edwards' betrayal indicating that he was at one time a trusted friend), the near death of Lisa Hayes Hunter and the miscarriage of their baby. And there might be the difficulties associated with Minmei who just can't keep herself out of trouble.
* ''Manga/GhostTalkersDaydream'': It isn't that [[ReluctantHero Misaki]] doesn't care about helping the deceased move on, she's just tired of being bothered with it. But also realizes that they won't leave her alone, because she's [[TheGift got the gift]], which is why [[MagneticMedium they're naturally drawn to her.]] So the only way she can find a moment's peace, is by helping them find ''theirs''.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Many depictions of Franchise/{{Batman}} fall into this as seen below. As does Jim Gordon in ''Film/TheDarkKnightSaga''. ''Batman Begins''' depiction of Gordon borrows a lot, including his fitting this trope, from ''ComicBook/BatmanYearOne''.
%%* The Comicbook/DoomPatrol are made of this trope.
* ''Comicbook/SinCity'': John Hartigan is probably the last good cop in [[WretchedHive Basin City]], up until his forced retirement. He doesn't have much to show for it. Except the knowledge that he did the right thing, and a friend who stays by his side no matter what.
* ''Comicbook/GeminiStorm'': Elizabeth Rose is a possible saviour of Junessa, yet tends to think of the world around her in a negative light.
* The [[Franchise/MarvelUniverse universe]] (particularly the [[Comicbook/UltimateMarvel Ultimate universe]]) loves to kick Franchise/SpiderMan in the nuts when he's down, and he's quick to point out that NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished, but Lord bless him, he keeps on keeping on. This [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WoJV4NLxqg End Credit song]] of ''Film/SpiderMan2'' gives out such a point well.
* Creator/DCComics' Hans von Hammer, the ''Comicbook/EnemyAce'', retains his "Knights of the Sky" view of air combat (refusing to, for example, shoot down an opponent who is out of ammunition) despite how much [[WarIsHell the realities of war]] challenge his ideals.
* Matt Murdock in ''Comicbook/{{Daredevil}}'' may be one of the best examples in comics. He's put through the emotional ringer a dozen times over and his life always seems to get worse when you think it can't possibly decline further. Its so bad the poor guy can barely muster the energy to brood. Despite this, he struggles on and refuses to ever give up on saving people.
* ''Grimjack'' is this on a good day (on the bad ones, he's AxCrazy.) This is actually discussed at one point.
-->'''Lillian Seffington''' Perhaps in the shadows, the dividing line has between Good and Evil has become difficult to see.
-->'''Grimjack''' Balls. There are standards. If you can't see one, you make one and stick to it come hell or high water -- until you see a better one.
* ''ComicBook/GuardiansOfTheGalaxy'': Peter Quill, who looks back on his original time as the Star-Lord with distaste, isn't exactly thrilled about heroics or self-sacrifice, but will still risk violent and painful death to save the universe, time and time again. Because the universe needs protecting, and there's no-one else around.
* In ''ComicBook/{{Drowntown}}'', Leo Noiret used to be an [[InterpolSpecialAgent investigator for the International Criminal Court]] in the Hague, but got disillusioned when he realised he wasn't really changing anything. He ended up with something like a dishonourable discharge, and is now something like a bodyguard and private detective, but he still has a moral compass.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''Literature/ABrothersPrice'' fanfic [[http://archiveofourown.org/works/3308513/chapters/7227554 The mysterious Trini]] has Jerin describe Princess Trini as this. While he does it in an answer to her being upset about someone else looking down on her, his justification is sound; she IS disillusioned and didn't want to [[spoiler: marry anyone]] in the first place, but did it to help Jerin, even though she was wary of him and suspected he might be evil.
* ''Fanfic/DoingItRightThisTime'': Shinji, Asuka and Rei are more determined than ever to save the world after having gone through the canon's events and returned the past. They are also more sarcastic than ever due to be fully aware of having been puppets used to fight massive alien monsters and cause the end of the world.
* Caphriel, angel and LoveMartyr, from the ''Literature/GoodOmens'' DarkFic ''Fanfic/TheSacredAndTheProfane:'' it's his job to love and protect the world and the people in it. It all keeps letting him down over and over again ([[WhoWantsToLiveForever across millennia]]), [[{{Determinator}} but he can't]] ''[[{{Determinator}} afford]]'' [[{{Determinator}} to give up.]]
* In the ''Franchise/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles'' fanfic ''[[http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4942679/1/The_Long_Walk The Long Walk]]'', the OriginalCharacter, jaded GrumpyBear cynic Breech Loader is portrayed this way - she's fighting on the side of good, for good reasons, but despite a devotion to learning the ways of honour, she still fights horribly dirty.
--> '''Leonardo:''' "You're one of us now, Breech, and we're a family full of good people."
--> '''Breech:''' "You don't pay much attention when I fight, do you?"
* The only thing the protagonist of FanFic/DragonAgeTheCrownOfThorns lacks is the attitude, but everything else fits in with the trope. He knows full well, and always did, that the world is full of liars and backstabbers, but he is determined to keep trying to make it a better place as long as worthwhile things (like the potential of the younger generation) continue to exist. Of course, he's trying to make sure the world itself keep existing at the moment.
* In every Fanfiction [[http://www.fanfiction.net/~mrevil Mr. Evil]] has used his OriginalCharacter Fredi Heat. He shows absolutely no care for people in general, and many of his own teammates appear to even be scared of him. But he always does what's right, despite his dislike for doing so.
* From the Negima/Naruto crossover fanfic [[http://www.fanfiction.net/s/7441275/1/Broken_Faith Broken Faith]] by Kur0Kishi, Naruto Uzumaki becomes jaded due to [[TheLostLenore certain]] [[BreakTheCutie extenuating]] [[JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope circumstances]] before the story begins. The end result, is a bitter idealist who at times tells the other characters as he trains them to not follow his path, as well as becoming an enforcer of sorts [[TheDreaded known and feared by most mages worldwide as]] ''[[RedBaron The Black Paladin]]''
--> '''Gandolfini:''' "Naruto-sama doesn't know it, not many dare to call him that to his face but his actions on missions has earned him the moniker ''[[TheDreaded Black Paladin]]'' among the wider mage population because of his actions. He always fights what for what is right regardless of the rules and protocol, hence the ''{{Paladin}}'', but his methods and results are rather... [[MindRape disturbing]] and he usually dresses completely in dark colours, hence the ''[[BlackKnight Black]]''."
** A number of [[https://www.fanfiction.net/u/2567701/Kur0Kishi Kur0kishi's]] fanfic have Naruto as a mix of this and JerkWithAHeartOfGold. As taken from their profile directly:
--> [[Manga/RosarioToVampire Amethyst Love]] is about a Naruto who has found something more important than those ideals.
--> [[Manga/MahouSenseiNegima Broken Faith]] was about a Naruto who has abandoned those ideals as childish but slowly learns to see that maybe, just maybe, being idealistic isn't all that bad after all.
--> [[Franchise/LyricalNanoha Caliburn Initiative]] is about Naruto that held onto his ideals. The problem was that the environment he is in has changed. His ideals are NO LONGER RELEVANT.
--> [[LightNovel/HighSchoolDXD End Game]] is about one who has forgotten those ideals.
--> [[Manga/{{Sekirei}} Unwavering Sky]] is about one whose ideals have changed along with the environment but the core principles never changed.
* ''Fanfic/MassEffectHumanRevolution'':
** Adam Jensen knows as a ''repeatedly demonstrated'' fact that he lives in a [[CrapsackWorld Crapsack Galaxy]]. But he gets up and kicks the crap out of pimps, serial killers and assassins because he's not going to just ''accept it.''
** David Anderson is determined, almost desperately so, to continue fighting the good fight in a galaxy whose systems seem constantly out to test and betray his faith in them.
** Edward Grey was broken by his experience in Akuze, and while he came back still heroic, he's quick to opt for the KillEmAll option against slavers, xenophobic lynch mobs and other criminal scum.
* Detective Hard Boiled of ''Fanfic/StarlightOverDetrot''. His city is a veritable hive of crime and he knows it - but that doesn't stop him from fighting tooth and nail for it.
* Tech from ''FanFic/Tech10Rebooted'' has basically given up on people and the law, but fights as hard as he can for what he sees as justice.
* In ''[[FanFic/YuGiOhTheThousandYearDoor Yu Gi Oh: The Thousand Year Door Redux]]'', Francesca ''almost'' crosses the line into this in the FinalBattle. [[spoiler:When Sophia's attack leaves the Queen mortally wounded, Fran briefly considers simply stalling during her turn to let her bleed to death, but she refuses to do something so underhanded, offering her foe a chance to surrender (which the Queen refuses, DefiantToTheEnd). When the Queen is able to assume her [[OneWingedAngel true form]] and recover, Fran briefly curses herself for changing her mind. ("I could have just took my time and stalled a minute ago…" she laments. "A few minutes and she would have bled to death, but NO! I had to be some goodie-goodie hero who believed all that stuff about “don’t sink to her level” and “you’re a better person than she is!" Fortunately, Andy appears in spiritual form and tells her to GetAholdOfYourselfMan (complete with a DopeSlap) and she comes to her senses.]]
* In ''Fanfic/{{Sleepless}}'', Minuette is getting increasingly cynical as the story progresses. The same thing happens to Dr. Stable in the first sequel, ''Thirsty''.
* Sonic and his friends become this in ''FanFic/SonicXDarkChaos''. The Milky Way Galaxy is an [[CrapsackWorld utter shithole]] and the rest of the universe is [[CosmicHorrorStory somehow even worse]], but it doesn't stop them from trying to make things better.
* ''Webcomic/{{Guardian}}'' explores why Lulu is like this in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX''. Although she's somewhat cynical about pilgrimages and the Church of Yevon, she never wholly abandons her faith--she transfers the greater part of her belief in Yuna, who she knows to be good and trustworthy.
* Asuka from ''Fanfic/TheSecondTry'' is sick of fighting to save a world that keeps taking everything from her over and over again and resetting itself. She's determined to save it anyway.
* In ''Fanfic/OnceMoreWithFeeling'', Shinji doesn't want to be a HumongousMecha pilot... but in the original timeline everything went to Hell, everyone died and he lost his loved ones because he ran away from his duty. So he's determined to pilot Eva -even though he hates it- and save the world.
* Ume from ''Fanfic/SugarPlums'' is [[TaughtbyExperience rightly]] incredibly mistrustful and cynical about the shinobi system, the [[CorruptPolitician people who run it]] and the entire bullshit [[HardWorkHardlyWorks power scaling of the world]]. This doesn't stop her from spending a LOT of time and effort accruing resources, allies and making very detailed plans to make things better.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* Ezylryb [[spoiler:(Lyze of Kiel)]] of ''WesternAnimation/LegendOfTheGuardiansTheOwlsOfGaHoole'' may be a legendary warrior, but he takes no pleasure in it whatsoever, as he demonstrates by displaying his slashed face and blind eye.
-->'''Ezylryb:''' [[EveryScarHasAStory This is what it actually looks like when you've fought in battle.]] It's not glorious, it's not beautiful, it's not even heroic. It's merely doing what's right and doing it again and again, even if someday you look like this.
* Franchise/{{Shrek}} is crude, hot-tempered and cynical, but nearly always manages to do the right thing, especially for people (and donkeys) that have proven they're able to see past the idea of "big, stupid, ugly ogres."
* ''WesternAnimation/ToyStory3'':
** [[TheHero Woody]] becomes this, in that [[spoiler:he knows full well that going back to the daycare is suicide, not to mention the difficulty in helping his friends escape ''and'' making it back home before Andy leaves for college. The logical thing to do would be to try and go home alone. No points for guessing what he decides to do]].
** [[TheOldConvict Chatter Telephone]] and [[SadClown Chuckles the Clown]]; [[spoiler:the former had been stuck at Sunnyside for years but used his knowledge of the place to (try to) help the other toys escape, and the latter saw some of Lotso's [[KickTheDog rather despicable]] actions firsthand, and told Woody about this to warn him of Lotso's true nature]].
* In ''Disney/{{Zootopia}}'', law enforcement is principally in the hands of Chief Bogo, a strict and blunt-spoken example of DaChief. When Judy Hopps, the newest rookie on the force, feels responsible for a sudden sharp rise in racial tension, he reassures her in a very Knight-in-Sour-Armor way.
--> '''Bogo:''' Don't give yourself so much ''credit,'' Hopps. The world's always been broken. That's why we need good cops... like you.
* Alternative Universe Superman in ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeagueGodsAndMonsters''; Hernan has seen injustice,he knows about prejudice, rasism, xenophobia and poverty. He knows that most of the world doesn't hold a favorable view on him, he knows that he often gets blamed of things he doesn't do, he knows that America has an ugly side, and yet he fights monster and villains in order to protect the people who despise him so much.


[[folder:Film -- Live Action]]
* Jöns from ''Film/TheSeventhSeal''. You won't find anyone fitting to the trope more closely than him. His being a squire, not a knight is pretty much the only difference.
* Creator/HumphreyBogart as Rick Blaine in ''Film/{{Casablanca}}'', as archetypal FilmNoir PrivateDetective Literature/PhilipMarlowe in ''Film/TheBigSleep'', and as [[Creator/DashiellHammett Sam Spade]] in ''Film/TheMalteseFalcon''. Those three movies, plus ''Film/HighSierra'', led to Bogie being typecast in this role. Additional examples include ''Tokyo Joe'', ''The Enforcer'', ''Film/TheHarderTheyFall'', ''Film/ToHaveAndHaveNot'', ''Film/DeadReckoning'', ''Film/DarkPassage'', and ''Film/TheBarefootContessa'', month others.
* When you think about it, isn't this the sort of role Creator/JohnWayne often plays? He is usually a BoisterousBruiser as well, but combined with a tired yet resolved demeanor. The "Knight" side of his persona's codified with that classic catchphrase (often ''[[BeamMeUpScotty attributed]]'' to him), "Well, a...man's gotta do what a man's gotta do."
* In ''Film/HighNoon'', Marshall Will Kane tries to raise a posse to fight off four gunmen led by an ex-con who had previously made all their lives miserable before Kane threw him in prison. You'd think the population of an entire town would be able to take on four men. Only an old, one-eyed drunk and fourteen year old kid would help Kane (and he refuses them, since they wouldn't have much use in a gunfight). Everyone, who would rather live in fear than risk their lives to protect their own freedom, money, and dignity, tells Kane to leave town. He ends up taking on the gunmen by himself, then abandons the town in disgust.
* [[TheIdealist Kaji]] from ''Film/TheHumanCondition'', who becomes [[DespairEventHorizon hardened and cynical]] as the result of WWII Japan.
* [[TheLancer Han Solo]] definitely becomes one of these by the end of ''Franchise/StarWars: Film/ANewHope'', and fills a SourSupporter role for the rest of the Original Trilogy. In stories of the [[Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse Expanded Universe]], it's seen that before the original trilogy was once fairly idealistic, though never to the point of being wide-eyed.
* Although [=MacGregor=] is fairly consistent throughout the film ''Film/RobRoy'' in standing by his own code of honor, he does have a moment of doubt after his money is stolen, his property ransacked, his wife raped, his brother killed, one of his clansmen shot and he himself has narrowly escaped being lynched. He starts believing that he should have gone against his principles by lying and saying that the Duke of Argyll was a Jacobite to avoid all the hardships he and others went through. His wife makes him see sense.
* In ''Film/{{Dragonheart}}'', Bowen (who is a knight in a real sense) goes through this twice. He has to go against (and ultimately abandon) his quest to kill all dragons when he has finally killed all but one of them and is forced to strike up an alliance with said sole survivor and become a con artist. He then goes on to questions his own codes of honour when he discovers that his pupil, the young King Einon did not have his nature poisoned by Draco's tampering with his heart but merely exploited Bowen for his skills in swordsmanship and became evil of his own volition.
* William Somerset in ''Film/{{Se7en}}'' keeps trying to retire because he finds the world horrible and his work demoralizing. He frequently sermonizes bitterly about how horrible the world is. Yet he can't find it in himself to quit.
* Sheriff Bell in ''Film/NoCountryForOldMen'' is this at the beginning of the movie. [[spoiler:The events of the movie are too much for him and he bitterly retires.]]
** Creator/TommyLeeJones, who plays Sheriff Bell, actually plays a fair few of these, including Kay from ''Film/MenInBlack'':
-->'''Agent Kay''': A ''person'' is smart. ''People'' are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it.
* Pamela Landy in ''Film/TheBourneSeries'' is the only CIA operations chief who actually seems to be in it to do the right thing.
* Eddie Valiant in ''Film/WhoFramedRogerRabbit''. Since his brother's death he's loathed Toons but ends up helping one anyway.
* ''Franchise/DieHard'': John [=McClane=] gives a speech in ''Film/LiveFreeOrDieHard'' where he pretty much describes himself as this.
* Tom Doniphon in ''Film/TheManWhoShotLibertyValance'' is a textbook example... Especially when it comes to the part about hating himself for it.
%%* Tequila from ''Film/HardBoiled''.
* An AlternativeCharacterInterpretation of Arthur Bishop in ''Film/TheMechanic1972'' says he is this, and that's why [[spoiler:he lets his [[TheMole student McKenna]] kill him]].
* Sheriff 'Monk' [=McGinn=] in ''Film/GangsOfNewYork''. He starts out as an Irish {{Ronin}} [[PsychoForHire muscle for hire]] with dozens of notches on his [[DropTheHammer shillelagh]], and is viewed with contempt until we find out he's really this. Then he goes out with a [[KirkSummation rousing speech]] and puts the villain in his place, which unfortunately, Bill the Butcher [[ShutUpKirk does not]] respond [[DroppedABridgeOnHim well to]].
-->'''Monk:''' [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLKbcrC0krQ Citizens of the Five Points!]] Mr. Bill Cutting is attempting to draw me into an argument that would no doubt end in bloodshed and the compromising of my office! What do ya think? Should I engage and silence this relic of the ancient law? Or shall I be your chosen voice, in a new testament, in the New World! (silence) There you are, Bill. The people have spoken. The very notion of violent reprisal be-numbs them.
* Several characters in ''Film/SinCity'', an otherwise {{Black and Gray|Morality}} CrapsackWorld.
* The title character in ''Franchise/RoboCop'' has nothing to live for, and as the film series progresses, seems more aware that his creation was only a publicity stunt, but his sense of duty and spirit for justice keeps him going. (Well, that and his ineluctable programming.)
* ''Film/TheWildGeese'': Rafer Janders, one of the mercenary lieutenants, tried to be a freedom fighter but became disaffected when the liberators he fought for turned out to be dictators just as repressive as the ones they deposed - a new mission rekindles a little of his doused idealism.
* Olive Penderghast in ''Film/EasyA'' is an extremely DeadpanSnarker, but she is willing to let her reputation be ruined to rescue a friend from bullying, preserve her favorite teacher's marriage, and otherwise help people.
* [[ReasonableAuthorityFigure Jim Gordon]] from ''Film/TheDarkKnightSaga''.
-->'''Gordon''': In a town this bent, who is there to rat to anyway?
** Batman himself counts as this. He watches his parents gunned down in front of him, [[spoiler: the woman he loves is killed (and then he finds out that she loved someone else more than him), the KnightInShiningArmor he hoped would let him retire had turned insane, the city he had fought so hard to protect has vilified him, he has seen [[ComicBook/TheJoker the worst humanity has to offer]], he spent eight years in seclusion, three separate psychopaths have tried to destroy the city he swore to protect, he gets the shit beaten out of him and is tossed into a prison described as "hell on Earth" and is forced to watch his city turned into an anarchic prison...]] and yet he is ''still'' a staunch idealist who believes that RousseauWasRight, that people are worth saving, and [[ThouShaltNotKill refuses to kill anyone]].
%%* Walt Kowalski from ''Film/GranTorino''
* Fire Chief O'Halloran from ''Film/TheToweringInferno'' is clearly sick and tired of saving [[TooDumbToLive stupid people]] from the consequences of their own [[IdiotPlot idiotic mistakes]], but he still keeps [[BigDamnHeroes charging into burning buildings to rescue them]].
* Several incarnations of Film/JamesBond, especially Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig's versions. The latter is a self-described "half monk half hitman" who describes murder as his "employment," but still holds onto his ideals of patriotism to his country and loyalty to allies, [[ParentalSubstitute especially to his boss, M]].
* Film/DirtyHarry from the eponymous films.
* Cyclops from the Film/XMenFilmSeries. No matter how much of a boy scout Wolverine thinks he is.
** Wolverine himself, being a [[WhoWantsToLiveForever long-lived]] mutant who has been the subject of inhumane science experiments, amnesia, and scorn from a hateful society (plus the blood he has put on his own hands through his various escapades through history) but still helps Professor Xavier's cause because he recognizes the good it can bring to the world.
* Günther Bachmann from ''Film/AMostWantedMan''. An adaptation of a John Le Carre book (of which the character is known for utilizing this trope in his realist spy novels), Bachmann is the typical Le Carre protagonist where he is jaded and cynical about his world and the corruption around him but seeks to do the best job he can anyway because of some personal morality. It is Philip Seymour Hoffman's last movie
* John Rambo, especially in Film/RamboIV. Traumatic experience from wars and the ugliest side of humanity has left the Vietnam War veteran a bitter, misanthropic man, but he will still go out all his ways to do the right things to save the people worth protecting.
* ''Film/WonderWoman'': Where Diana is the WideEyedIdealist, Steve Trevor is this trope in spades, describing himself as a thief, a liar, and a killer, all traits which Diana has expressed distaste in despite her decision to help him on his mission. He does what he does, sacrificing his own ideals, because he saw the madness the world was going through and just felt he had to do ''something'' to try and stop it.

* OlderThanFeudalism: Creator/{{Confucius}} in Analects 18.7 "A superior man takes office, and performs the righteous duties belonging to it. As to the failure of right principles to make progress, he is aware of that."
* Princess [[spoiler: Trini]] in ''Literature/ABrothersPrice'' is just a minor character, but what we see of her fits this. She is very pessimistic about Jerin's character, pointing out that her sisters were deceived before. Eventually, though, when she is told that he might be in danger, she quickly forgets about her former suspicions and decides to [[spoiler: marry him so that the family of her ex-husband doesn't get him]]. It could be partly revenge, but she is also shown to be quite aware of the issue of poverty in her realm, so it is reasonable to believe that it was ''mostly'' selfless.
--> [[spoiler: '''Trini''': I wouldn't give a ''dog'' to the Porters.]]
* Most of the main characters are this to some extent in Literature/{{Animorphs}}:
** Jake started off wanting to fight to free Tom and save the world. As the series progressed, he became more hardened and cynical, realizing that there was no help coming, and it was just as likely that he end up killing Tom as saving him. Despite that, he continued the fight and made the hard decisions, because he had to do something, and fighting the Yeerks was the right thing to do.
** Despite all the battles he won, and all the blows he struck against the Yeerk Empire, Elfangor wasn't even sure he was making a difference.
%%* Fingolfin in Creator/JRRTolkien's ''Literature/TheSilmarillion''. He could well be the TropeMaker.
%%** Likewise, Húrin and Huor.
* A few in ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire''
** Though Jon Snow starts off the series as a WideEyedIdealist with dreams of being a gallant defender for the Night's Watch, his idealism is slowly chipped away by this series' CrapSackWorld over the course of the books. Still, he believes wholeheartedly in his father's beliefs about goodness and decency, is honorable and [[HeroicBastard heroic]], and strives to do the right thing but -- though he doesn't feel good about going against rules -- will compromise them when necessary, in order to do what's right and protect innocent lives.
** Daenerys Targaryen as well.
** Ned Stark is very honorable, believes in duty, but thinks the world sucks and most people don't care for anything. However, ''he'' keeps trying, holds onto his goodness, largely adheres to a strict code of honour and does what's right, [[spoiler:which gets him killed]], but these latter two things aren't always the same thing. As a result, though he is uncomfortable doing so, he is willing to sacrifice his honor in some instances for the sake of doing the right thing.
** Adding the Hound to this page would involve unwisely [[BerserkButton calling him a knight]]. However, his armour is made of the purest citric acid. Even he would cop to that.
** There's also Tyrion Lannister, who's snarktastic and has contempt or hatred for most of those around him (because they either assume he's a Lannister and think he's untrustworthy, or see that he's dwarf and dislike him based on ''that''), but he truly tried to do what was best for the kingdom. He also showed his concern by designing a special saddle for Bran after his fall and went back to Winterfell to give them his design, although he knew he would not be much welcome there.
** Jaime Lannister surprises himself by gradually regaining principles to (sarcastically) defend and genuinely believe in after years of resigning himself to ThenLetMeBeEvil when believing in inheritance goodness failed him the first time. The process is spotty, but, dammit, he's going to give it a shot and sod the consequences!
* Sturm Brightblade of ''Literature/{{Dragonlance}}'' has watched the Knights of Solamnia he grew up idolizing turn into earnest failures at best and corrupt monsters at worst. He has the darkest sense of humor of any of the main cast outside of Raistlin, and yet he is truer to the knights' code than most of the knights who were actually given full status.
%%* Ed Exley becomes this by the end of ''Film/LAConfidential''.
* Literature/PhilipMarlowe, Creator/RaymondChandler's main character, is explicitly described by the author as a 'knight in shining armor' despite being a DeadpanSnarker FirstPersonSmartass.
-->"I looked down at the chessboard. The move with the knight was wrong. I put it back where I had moved it from. Knights had no meaning in this game. It wasn't a game for knights." -- ''Literature/TheBigSleep''
** Chandler even gives him a [[DistaffCounterpart "Princess In Sour Dress"]], Linda Loring, in ''Literature/TheLongGoodbye''.
* Mina Davis of ''[[Literature/HungoverAndHandcuffed Hungover and Handcuffed]]'' and ''[[Literature/AssholeYakuzaBoyfriend Asshole Yakuza Boyfriend]]'' follows proudly in Marlowe's snarky footsteps.
* Creator/TerryPratchett often writes like this, especially in ''Literature/{{Discworld}}''.
** Sam Vimes may well be the ultimate example. He's even described as possibly being slightly knurd in his natural state -- anti-drunk, which means seeing things horribly clearly without all the normal fuzzy self-deception that makes life bearable -- and yet, he's one of the most incorruptible, moral, and downright decent characters on the Disc, hands down. (Vimes is also ''literally'' a sour knight, having been elevated into the ranks of nobility against his wishes -- he feels it makes him a class traitor.)
** Granny Weatherwax is a fairly good example as well; ''Witches Abroad'' alludes the idea Granny was a good candidate for a "bad witch," until her sister took up the role and she had to balance it out. Granny's adamant belief in Right and Wrong over anything else is predicated on the fact that neither of those necessarily involve what someone (including herself) would ''like'' to do.
** Lord Vetinari also counts, as seen from his speech in ''Unseen Academicals''. ("Every world spins in pain. If there is any kind of supreme being, I told myself, it is up to all of us to become his moral superior.")
** Death gives a metaphysical version of the idea in ''Discworld/{{Hogfather}}'': Notions like justice or mercy are not found in the universe -- not one atom -- but humans need to believe in them in order to make it so that they are.
* Karrin Murphy of ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'' is one of these. Her lawfulness causes her to threaten to throw the book at Harry more often than she'd like. She also gets angry when [[spoiler: an archangel uses her as a mouthpiece when she takes up one of the Swords of the Cross]].
** Karrin Murphy is changing, she's being forced toward a change in worldview by the realization of the cold fact that the law, which she idolized (almost literally) in early books is just simply inadequate to deal with the reality of the world as she has come to know it. She's also begun to realize just how much Harry was ''protecting'' her, even when she angrily insisted she wanted no such protection, now she knows she needed it...and resents that fact.
** In ''Blood Rites'', when Harry looks upon Murphy with his Sight, she appears as an angel, but one that has been covered in blood and soot and is bearing terrible wounds - a direct contrast to the more idealistic image of a pure angel in shining white clothes that she appears as in ''Grave Peril'', four books earlier when she is still an idealistic cop who hasn't had her faith in the law twisted and abused.
** Donald Morgan is also ultimately revealed to be one. For a long time he just seems like a nasty, abusive {{Jerkass}} KnightTemplar, but over the course of the series it is gradually revealed that the he really does believe in the White Council's laws, and most of [[GoodIsNotNice nastiness]] comes from being a tired, bitter man who has spent his entire extended lifespan fighting the forces of darkness.
** Harry himself has elements of this trope. He can be pretty cynical, but he always tries to do the right thing.
--->'''Willamena:''' It sounds like you don't think very highly of people, Mr. Dresden.
--->'''Harry:''' ''People'' suck. But ''persons'' are worthwhile, Miss Rogers. Always.
* Councillor Arfarra in Yulia Latynina's ''Wei Empire Cycle'' started out as a KnightTemplar. By the first large novel, he became sourly disillusioned in TheEmpire and somewhat penitent, but soldiered on trying to reform it, ultimately failing despite doing some good in the process. Then he became ''even more'' disillusioned in the very foundations of the Empire, and spent twenty-five years in exile. ''Then'' he got dragged back unto the political scene, and very reluctantly took control, this time just trying to keep the whole thing running and to avoid having the world drowned in blood in a horrible civil war. [[spoiler:He sort of failed due to circumstances far beyond his control, but kept relentlessly looking for ways to at least marginally improve the situation right until finally dying from old age.]]
* From the ''Literature/HarryPotter'' series:
** Severus Snape allies himself with people like Harry (who he hates because he's the son of the woman he loved by the man he hated), Sirius Black (who he hated nearly as much as James Potter and who tried to kill him at least once), and Dumbledore, who, in spite of affection, uses him ruthlessly. He's also the only one of the heroes who is willing to get [[HeroWithBadPublicity branded as a traitor]] by making a huge sacrifice for their cause (namely, Albus Dumbledore). However, it should be noted that Dumbledore himself was willing to die, so that sacrifice wasn't exactly minimal. Additionally, his motives weren't exactly the purest - not matter whether you take the view that Lily was his LostLenore or that he was a StalkerWithACrush [[RuleOfCautiousEditingJudgement (which side you take is your choice, and let's leave it there)]], he made it fairly clear that he was NotInThisForYourRevolution and pretty much entirely motivated by Lily's memory.
** Dumbledore's brother Aberforth is this as well. He tells Harry point blank that he thinks it's a lost cause. He still shows up to fight in the end.
%%* Arkady Renko, from the series of novels by Martin Cruz Smith.
* Stephen Donaldson protagonists tend to be big fans of sour armor. The titular lead of ''Literature/TheChroniclesOfThomasCovenant'' novels turns this trope UpToEleven, stubbornly persevering even though he knows everything he does will be turned into disaster by the BigBad.
* Sparhawk of Creator/DavidEddings' ''Literature/TheElenium'' is a [[ShellShockedVeteran world-weary]], cynical knight, old before his time who will readily cooperate with and ally with career criminals against far more terrible evils and [[CombatPragmatist readily establish a reputation for savagery in combat]] to convince enemies not to fight. Nonetheless, he has an ironclad sense of personal honor and dignity, and his bark is generally far worse than his bite. Which is to say that, while he threatens to do a ''lot'' of horrible things, he only actually does ''some'' of them.
* Meyer Landsman of ''Literature/TheYiddishPolicemensUnion'' is certainly one of these on top of being a DefectiveDetective--a cynical jackass, but feels personally compelled to close his investigation instead of let it be shelved as a cold case for bureaucratic reasons.
* Winston Smith in ''Literature/NineteenEightyFour''. He joins the Brotherhood knowing full well that he won't see any change in his lifetime and that he will be killed for it eventually. Too bad [[spoiler:the Brotherhood doesn't actually exist--it was set up by the government as a way to entrap Thought Criminals]]. [[MindScrew Maybe]].
* 1st Sgt. Welsh in ''Literature/TheThinRedLine'', who lacks faith, ideals, patriotic fervor and any interest in either medals or career advancement, yet keeps on fighting due to a sense of duty (and because he's good at his job).
* Gawyn Trakand from ''[[Literature/TheWheelOfTime The Wheel of Time series]]'' swears an oath as prince to protect his sister to the death and yet she not only makes his childhood a hell with her antics, she runs off in the middle of training in the White Tower two times leaving him behind. This comes to a head when Gawyn decides to support a coup against the Amyrlin and slays his own teachers from his frustration to help but later [[HeelFaceTurn helps the Amyrlin escape]]. The guy just can't catch a break and it doesn't help later when in the middle of Dumai Wells his men are surrounded and getting killed. Cue Min dropping the bomb on him that his sister is in love with [[AGodAmI Rand]] and [[UpToEleven the emotional turmoil must be unbearable]].
* In the play "The Dragon" by E. Schewartz we have Lancelot The Travelling Knight:
--> '''Lancelot''': I was injured lightly nineteen times, severely eleven times and deadly five times, but I'm so light a soul that I'm still alive.
* In ''[[Literature/TakeshiKovacs Altered Carbon]]'', Takeshi Kovacs seems to be an inversion of this; a life-long cynic, Kovacs has slowly but steadily gained an idealistic side, strongly influenced by the philosophy of his homeworld's revered revolutionary leader and Knight in Sour Armour Quellcrist Falconer. However, his particular status has left the cynicism ''deeply'' ingrained, with the result that he seems to strongly resent his idealistic side and reacts with a SnarkKnight schtick that ranges from convincing to desperate.
* Typically in the Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse, Luke Skywalker is quite idealistic. But in ''Literature/LukeSkywalkerAndTheShadowsOfMindor'', the BigBad makes him mentally experience [[AndIMustScream an eternity after the heat death of the universe]] in an attempt to break him and get him ready for a GrandTheftMe. It doesn't entirely work, but when Luke gets out, he's made deeply cynical, believing that ''everyone's'' life is waste, saving someone wasn't really saving them because that would just prolong the brief interval. All striving leads to nothing, and everyone who talked about duty and honor and love was just using him. He doesn't want to believe it, but he does--and he makes the very conscious decision to act exactly like he did before, like when he trusted in these airy concepts and believed lives were worth saving, in the hope that he can fall back into the dream and [[BecomingTheMask become the mask]]. Later he sees a very MindScrew-y vision that relieves some of that cynicism, though, so he's not a sour knight for very long.
* In ''Literature/TheScrewtapeLetters'', Screwtape, a demon's mentor, warns him about these. "Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger, than when a human, no longer desiring, but intending, to do [[{{God}} our Enemy's]] will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys." Ironically, he occasionally takes the tone of one himself, finding that his goal to corrupt humans is tedious whenever it fails but believing that it "must win in the end".
* In Creator/CSLewis' "Literature/TheSilverChair", part of ''Literature/TheChroniclesOfNarnia'' series, the "Marsh Wiggle" named Puddleglum is perpetually pessimistic and always believes the worst is about to happen, yet is staunchly and resolutely (and usefully) on the side of good throughout the story.
* Dedicate Rosethorn from the ''Literature/CircleOfMagic'' series qualifies. She's very much a sarcastic and irritable CynicalMentor to Briar, but she has given up a normal life in order to help the poor.
* Most of the protagonists in the Anthology ''Dark and Stormy Knights'', edited by P. N. Elrod are this although there are also examples of NobleDemon, ActionSurvivor and PunchClockHero.
* Garrett from the ''Literature/GarrettPI'' series describes himself like this.
* Haymitch from ''Literature/TheHungerGames''. He just wants a world where no more children can be tortured from being forced to kill each other.
** Katniss too, especially after she fully accepts her role as "the Mockingjay".
** Johanna and Finnick also qualify.
* ''[[Literature/TheQuestForKarla The Quest for Karla Trilogy]]'': The main character, George Smiley, is an experienced but cynical spy. Despite the moral complications and issues of his work, Gordon always seeks to do the best job he can in his spying because he still believes it is the right thing to do. George is idealistic but also fully aware of the moral greyness of his environment.
* ''Literature/TheHallowedHunt'': Ingrey is actually rather youthful for a [[Creator/LoisMcMasterBujold Bujold]] protagonist, but the tortures he endured--meant to help him control the wolf-spirit he harbors--made him "frighteningly self-controlled" not to mention [[DeadpanSnarker dour and sarcastic]]. His love interest lampshades it:
-->"Now what makes you grow grim?" Ijada demanded.\\
Her lips twisted in exasperation. "To be sure."
* DC Grant in ''Literature/RiversOfLondon'' tries to be idealistic even though he knows it is all going to end in tears.
* Atticus Finch of ''Literature/ToKillAMockingbird'' is utterly [[spoiler:and correctly]] convinced that, because of [[DeepSouth Maycomb County's]] inherent racism, Tom Robinson cannot escape being convicted for a crime he didn't commit. Atticus still does everything in his power to get Tom acquitted, and treats it as the most important case of his entire career despite the reaction from the people of Maycomb County.
* Jayfeather from ''Literature/WarriorCats'' doesn't believe in the way the Clans work, the ideals of [=StarClan=], or the Warrior Code. Despite this, he vows to fight for the Clans until long after the day he dies, will never give up on saving anyone, and devotes his whole life to protecting his Clan.
%%* John D. [=MacDonald=]'s Travis [=McGee=] as Florida's premiere salvage consultant is this trope personified.
* Brian Duffy of Creator/TimPowers' ''Literature/TheDrawingOfTheDark'' starts sour, and only becomes more sour as the story progresses, but never loses his desire to do the Right Thing, despite serious temptation.
* In Creator/MelisaMichaels' ''Skyrider'' series, Skyrider is cynical, taciturn, snarky, and anti-social, but when the chips are down, she knows she's the best, and often only, person for the job, and reluctantly picks up her metaphorical lance. Again.
* Patrick [=McLanahan=] from Creator/DaleBrown books. The world never gets permanently better, an awful lot of people are {{Ungrateful Bastard}}s at best, hostile and traitorous at worst, and his friends and family keep dying violently, but he keeps fighting to make the world better nevertheless.
%%* Mitch Rapp of the Vince Flynn books
* ''Literature/SongAtDawn'': Dragonetz came back from the Second Crusade as one of these; disillusioned of the Church and haunted by his deeds. If you ask him what he thinks about the knight's oath to 'protect the weak' he'll tell you it's a 'suicide oath'. However, he still possesses faith in God and the idealism that he can make the world a better place.
* Corwin in ''Literature/TheChroniclesOfAmber'' is, in many ways, an homage to Phillip Marlowe, so it's little surprise that he shares this trope. As more of a redeemed villain than a bitter hero, he's [[AntiHero a rather dark example.]]
-->I sometimes fancy myself an evil which exists to oppose other evils[...] on that day when the world is completely cleansed of evil, then I, too, will go down into darkness, swallowing curses[...] But whatever. Until that time, [[{{Determinator}} I shall not wash my hands]] nor [[NeutralNoLonger let them hang useless]].
* Jimmy Gage star reporter for SLAP! magazine and hero of Robert Ferrigno's ''Flinch'' and ''Scavenger Hunt'' who is pretty much the only serious reporter for a magazine that is halfway between ''Vanity Fair'' and a tabloid. His investigative reporting usually only ends in partial victories but he continues to fight the good fight. His cop girlfriend Jane Holt qualifies as well.
* Tsovinar of ''Literature/GloryInTheThunder'' literally sets her hopes and dreams on fire after accepting they can never come true, and wonders aloud why she even bothers intervening for the good of others, but she just keeps doing it.
* Literature/NeroWolfe's assistant Archie Goodwin responds to most of the world's frustrations with a sarcastic, cynical quip, but as Wolfe perceptively notes deep down he's quite the knight-errant. For all his snark, it's not hard to provoke him into rushing out headlong in order to do someone a good deed -- particularly if the someone needing the good deed doing is a pretty young lady.
* Seth Hammerstaal, who's the male protagonist in ''Literature/{{Overenskommelser}}'' by Creator/SimonaAhrnstedt, is a very cynical man, who does many stupid things. But still, he never stops believing that you should always do the right thing.
* Blake Thorburn of ''Literature/{{Pact}}'' is a formerly homeless man who has seen much of the worst that humanity has to offer, from beatings to events so traumatic that he refuses to elaborate on them, and sees himself as a [[BrokenBird fundamentally broken person]], but he [[RousseauWasRight expresses his faith in the inherent goodness of humanity]] nonetheless, as there exist many people whose good actions outweighed the bad and helped him when he needed help. He therefore strives to do the right thing, even though, as a hereditary [[TheLegionsOfHell diabolist]], everyone expects him to fall to villainy and most supernatural creatures despise him.
* Scott of ''Literature/{{Hobgoblin}}'' can't stand most of his classmates, but when [[spoiler:Fergus]] goes crazy and starts killing them, he steps up to fight because it's what a hero should do plus it's his chance to actually live out a mortal battle. Afterwards, he still can't stand his classmates.
* Highprince Dalinar Kholin from Literature/TheStormlightArchive. A great warrior and great leader of his people, he tries to live by an ancient code of conduct, which only makes other nobles mock him. And even though he could (and some say that he ''should'') take the throne for himself, he is very protective of the current king, his nephew Elhokar - who constantly disappoints him.
** [[BrokenAce Kaladin]] [[RedBaron Stormblessed]] ''definitely'' qualifies. Not that you could blame him, [[TraumaCongaLine given the life he's had]]. [[TheSnarkKnight Sarcastic]], [[SillyRabbitIdealismIsForKids cynical]], and [[ShellShockedVeteran bitter]] at only twenty years old, but he still [[ChronicHeroSyndrome just can't bring himself to stop protecting people]] - most of his sourness comes from all the times he ''couldn't'' protect somebody. Lucky for him, on Roshar [[spoiler: that fast-tracks you to become a [[FunctionalMagic Surgebinder]]]]. The following quote from ''Literature/WordsOfRadiance'' actually sums up his character quite nicely:
--> '''Kaladin:''' Honor is dead. But I'll see what I can do.
* ''Everyone'' in ''Literature/TheHeartsWeSold''. Every single member of the heartless troop has been through hell, and then some, but [[RagtagBunchOfMisfits it falls to them to save the world]], so they keep fighting -- albeit, with some coercion from their boss.
* Although many of the older characters in Creator/AlexandreDumas ''Literature/TheThreeMusketeers'' have elements of this, Athos is the primary example (and something of a TropeCodifier to many more recent writers).
* In Creator/TomKratman's [[Literature/{{Okuyyuki}} "Okuyyuki"]], the protagonist Reilly is cynical and even bitter at the corruption in the Army, but still determined that he, at least, should do his part as a soldier.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* In ''Series/MrRobot'', Elliot is cynical and jaded, but does try to help people and bring down those who are hurting others. Often he puts others' safety before himself. He ultimately decides to tip off police about Shayla's abusive boyfriend, who's a drug and weapons dealer, even if it means not being able to get his withdraw medication, though he was hesitant at first. He also dislikes any innocent people getting hurt, even if the end result is something he wants. This differs from Mr. Robot, who doesn't care who gets in the way of his goals, as he believes he's creating a better world.
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'':
** Ser Loras Tyrell becomes this in Season 2 after [[spoiler:his lover King Renly Baratheon is murdered]]. It's even shown symbolically, as his once spotless suit of armour (which practically made him look like a walking mirror in Season 1) is now somewhat tarnished.
** Brienne of Tarth also undergoes a similar transition when she [[spoiler:fails to protect Renly, whom she harboured feelings for, from a monstrous LivingShadow]].
** The Hound, much like his book counterpart is hinted to be this beneath his BloodKnight exterior, especially after [[spoiler:leaving King's Landing during the Battle of Blackwater Bay]]. After that, pretty much anyone he meets who talks about fighting in the war gets this line:
--->'''The Hound:''' [[spoiler: "'''''Fuck''''' the king."]]
*** It becomes even more evident in season 6 and beyond. The Hound is as bad-tempered and cynical as ever, but he keeps fighting for a cause that's bigger than him because he understands precisely what is at stake.
** Robb Stark becomes one, especially as the war goes on.
** Jaime Lannister is much closer to this as of Season 4. For a long time, he was scornful of the double standards of chivalry as far as how Westeros regards his "kingslaying" and how in their eyes, he's dishonored himself for all time. Despite this, Jaime does value the Kingsguard and does aspire to the example of the likes of Ser Barristan. He tells his father, Tywin, that while he has soured his honor for killing a king, he won't sour it by abandoning the Kingsguard altogether.
** Despite his cynical outlook of the world, Tyrion still tries to do the right thing.
** Serving kings that were either AxCrazy (Aerys) or a drunkard (Robert) greatly jaded Ser Barristan, but still does his duty with full dedication.
* Joe Caputo, the prison administrator in ''Series/OrangeIsTheNewBlack'' is sleazy, bitter, angry, and generally hard to like. But a lot of that comes from his noble but frustrated attempts to protect the inmates and guards from corruption, underfunding, and callous corporate interference. [[spoiler:It remains to be seen whether he will remain any kind of knight after the season 3 finale, where he opts to sell out for a promotion.]]
* Max Black of ''Series/TwoBrokeGirls''. She basically had to raise herself and her mother. If something needed to be done Max got it done. Her attitude fits this to a T. She is seen to be able to do the right thing when it all comes down to this.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'':
** Marcus Cole has one of the [[TallDarkAndSnarky darkest wit]] of any characters on the show, knows his way around the station's criminal underworld, and yet acts like a knight of the round table.
** Also Michael Garibaldi, a jaded cop who joins Sheridan's extremely idealistic rebellion unhesitatingly. It's worth noting, however, [[spoiler:that he eventually leaves said rebellion specifically ''because'' he's cynical. [[MoreThanMindControl And no, Bester didn't intend for him to do that]]]].
** By the end of the series, Ivanova.
* ''Series/{{Arrow}}'': Sara Lance to a certain extent. Her family thought she was dead and she spent years away from her home trapped on an island, training, and being forced to kill. She considers herself the furthest thing in the world from a hero. Despite this, she's willing to risk her life to check on her family, protect women that she has never met from assault, and run into a burning building to save a baby.
* Most people involved with the government in ''Series/TwentyFour'' seem to believe this. Despite their constant sacrifices to save America, even Redshirt agents seem to realize that their victories are Pyrrhic at best, and rarely make attempts to mask how jaded they are.
** Prior to the first season, Jack Bauer probably was not. After [[spoiler:Terri dies because of Jack's job]] and having to face down the reality that saving lives and {{Obstructive Bureaucrat}}s do not mix, his armor gets mighty sour.
* ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|2003}}'':
** Lee Adama is this at times in a sort of contrast with the HonorBeforeReason driven Helo. Both believe in rules and the system, but Lee is more willing to bend the former to save the latter.
** Lawyer Romo Lampkin is this way, as he has the cynicism of the disillusioned idealist. We never get to hear why he hated Lee's grandfather, a famous criminal defense attorney, so it's difficult to say. [[spoiler: Lee's grandfather was revealed in ''Caprica'' to have gotten through law school funded by the Tauron mafia and in the very first episode bribes a judge to get off mobsters, among other things. He apparently got a lot better, but there were probably lots of reasons to dislike him.]]
* ''Series/BattlestarGalactica1978''
** Tigh, being a rough and gruff DrillSergeantNasty, is the most prominent example of this trope
** As is Starbuck. He can be very cynical at times, especially when it comes to the law system. He also smokes, gambles and courts women on a daily basis when he's not in his Viper. When he is, he's most at home blasting away as many Cylons as he could. He does have moments of idealism, though, as shown when he protects a group of warrior kids from the Cylons while stranded on a planet in which nearly everyone else is wiped out.
** Apollo can be this at times as well, especially towards the Council. Given that they were responsible for their long-time enemies blowing up all twelve of their homeworlds, it's not all that jarring.
%%* Pretty much everyone in ''Series/{{Torchwood}}''.
* Dr Cox of ''Series/{{Scrubs}}'' is a cynical, angry, egotistical man, who firmly believes everyone should get the best treatment possible and often tries to stop injustice in the system. Indeed, many a DrJerk could be described as this. Why do you think they're doctors?
** "Chicks, money, power, and chicks." As said by Cox in "My Bed Banter and Beyond". In the same breath, he admits that he doesn't get any of that.
%%* Natalie from ''Series/SecretArmy''.
* ''Series/{{Angel}}''. Hell, the entire cast of that show could fall under this, especially Angel and Wesley.[[note]]We could say, the series' script was written by a [[MeaningfulName DeKnight]] in Sour Armor.[[/note]] Angel's philosophy is stated by Angel himself in the Season 4 episode "Deep Down." "Nothing in the world is the way it ought to be. It's harsh and cruel but that's why there's us. Champions. It doesn't matter where we come from, what we've done or suffered, or even if we make a difference. We live as though the world were as it should be, to show it what it can be. You're not a part of that yet. I hope you will be. I love you, [[spoiler:Connor]]. Now get out of my house."
** Summed up beautifully (it's the show's mission statement) in the final episode, when Gunn is helping Anne unload supplies for her teen homeless shelter from a truck on a day when the world might very well end:
--> '''Gunn''': "What if I told you that none of it mattered? That the world is controlled by forces much more powerful than we are, and that those forces will never, ever let things get better? What would you do then?"
--> '''Anne''': "I'd tell you to finish getting those supplies off that truck and take them inside."
* Boyd in ''Series/{{Dollhouse}}''. Ballard seems to be on his way to this from his original KnightInShiningArmor characterization. Then [[spoiler:Boyd turned out to be both TheMole ''and'' the EvilOverlord (and a KnightTemplar)]].
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'':
** Giles becomes one at some point in the show's run (certainly by the finale of season 5, [[spoiler: when he kills Ben to kill Glory]]), probably around the time the Watcher's Council fired him for refusing to endanger Buffy's life. Creator/JossWhedon seems to enjoy the trope.
** Also, Spike became this after his HeelFaceTurn.
* Almost every single good cop in ''Series/TheWire'' knows that their objective is ultimately a futile effort, and that the city of Baltimore is in far more disarray than they could possibly hope to rectify. However, this sure as hell doesn't stop them from trying.
* Colby from ''Series/{{Survivor}}'', who said the game he first played in 2000 was outdated and gone, being one of the few players (other than Coach and Rupert) who was HonorBeforeReason.
* Mal Reynolds of ''Series/{{Firefly}}''. He lost his faith in God and humanity in one fell swoop, but when presented with the choice he goes out of his way to do the right thing.
* Derek Reese from ''Series/TerminatorTheSarahConnorChronicles''. He's a miserable man who was once a young boy playing baseball, then suddenly, got thrust into the apocalypse. He will spend every last ounce of energy, and stop at absolutely nothing including murder, in order to fight the coming cybernetic invasion, simply because no matter how hopeless it gets, it's not just the right thing to do...it's the ONLY thing to do.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}''
** [[JerkWithaHeartofGold Dean]] is the series' prime example. He's cynical, pessimistic, and very blunt on the negative side of a life fighting evil. At one point he even concluded the world ''wanted'' to end. Not the most likely hero, but still cares about the lives of people and devotes his life to saving them.
-->'''Dean''': "I think the world's going to end bloody, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't fight. We do have choices. I chose to go down swingin'."
** Castiel in seasons 4,5, and ''especially'' 6.
%%* Clayton Webb of ''Series/{{JAG}}''. Comes with his [[TheSpymaster profession.]]
* Most of the characters on ''Series/CriminalMinds'' have been this at one point or another. (Except Garcia, and even she has her borderline moments.) Derek Morgan explicitly gave voice to it near the end of 4x25/26, "To Hell And Back." pointing out that however many unsubs they catch, the world always produces more. He wavered on whether to leave- except that he didn't, giving truth to the Trope. The exception being Jason Gideon, who seemed like one for a while, and then abandoned the team in 3x01 because the awfulness of the world had overwhelmed him.
%%* James "Sawyer" Ford [[spoiler: and also, ultimately, Benjamin Linus]] from ''Series/{{Lost}}''.
* Andy Sipowicz from ''Series/NYPDBlue'', as an intersection of NobleBigotWithABadge and RabidCop, with a decent dose of DeadpanSnarker and a surprisingly large amount of TheWoobie.
* Sir Hugh Hayden-Hoyle from ''Series/TheHonourableWoman'', is a jaded and very cynical spy similar to many of the protagonists in Le Carre novels. He starts off completely apathetic to his work and the Middle East due to the senseless violence that he feels he can't do anything about but ends up striving to help both Nessa and Atika anyway.
* The Doctor from ''Series/DoctorWho'' qualifies for this in nearly all of his incarnations at one point or another, but a few stand out among the rest.
** The First Doctor began it all; he was a cranky old man who still saved the universe often.
** The Third Doctor was exiled to Earth, and to outsiders could be seen as moody, and he often butted heads with TheBrigadier while facing alien threats.
** After five regenerations, the Sixth Doctor reverted back to a brash, difficult individual, yet constantly facing foes and battling corruption throughout time and space.
** The [[MyGreatestFailure War]] [[IHatePastMe Doctor]] ([[ExpandedUniverse Especially in the audios, comics and novel]]), is bitter, spiteful, condescending, hates himself, the Daleks and the Time-Lords, and wishes for nothing but to stop the Great Time-War at any cost. But still treasures life, and will do anything to defend the innocent.
** The Ninth Doctor refers to Humans as "stupid apes," but saved Earth again and again.
** After spending two regenerations as a young-looking and acting man, the Twelfth Doctor was once again a cranky old man. However, he very much wanted and strove to be a good man from the beginning, and was frustrated by having to be a PragmaticHero so often. He TookALevelInKindness by the start of Series 9 (his second season). By the end of his tenure, he was perhaps the kindest, most empathetic Doctor of all...and in his GrandFinale it was the example he set to the ''First'' Doctor that allowed that original self to accept regenerating for the first time. As for his own regeneration, as much as he wanted to be released [[WhoWantsToLiveForever from his long lifespan and loneliness]] at last, he decided that helping others was WorthLivingFor (and worth a LossOfIdentity) instead. His FinalSpeech, addressed to his successor, includes the admonition "Always try to be nice, but never fail to be kind." A speech along similar lines from his penultimate episode can be found on this trope's Quotes page.
* ''Series/SirensUK'' has Stuart (and possibility Ash) who after years of dealing with drunks fighting every Saturday in the street and the general lowest ebb of the human condition are fed up with the world. But given half the chance they'll crawl through broken glass or climb the side of a building to help those that need it.
%%* Jack Bristow in ''Series/{{Alias}}''.
* Nick in ''Series/NewGirl'' is filled with bitterness, anger, cynicism and self-loathing but is still a great friend and almost always does the right thing even as his life keeps getting progressively worse.
* Derek Hale in ''Series/TeenWolf'' is a prime example of this. He's even got the InSeriesNickname of being a "sourwolf" to add to the characterization.
* After being on ''Series/{{Degrassi}}'' enough seasons you either end up here or JadeColoredGlasses, just a fact of life for teenagers. Best examples for this side of things would be Spinner, Darcy, Jimmy, Marco, Sav, Clare, Alli, and Jenna. The series is abundant with drama and cruelty for them, but they still believe no matter how the world sucks... it's what they have and it's worth it to not give up. But the world unquestionably sucks, they are all more than clear there.
* The title character of ''Series/{{Merlin|2008}}'', a DeadpanSnarker HurtingHero who nevertheless has a strong set of values and is determined to free his people.
%%* ''Series/{{Scandal}}'': Olivia.
* ''Series/OnceUponATime'':
** [[TheChosenOne Emma Swan]] is tough and cynical, and doesn't believe in the curse, but she still stays in Storybrooke and goes against [[GodSaveUsFromTheQueen Regina]] and [[MagnificentBastard Mr Gold]].
** Post HeelFaceTurn, Regina Mills qualifies. She is snarky and cynical, and is the first to make biting remarks, but is firmly on 'Team Heroes' and will always do the right thing
* The third season and (to a lesser degree) the fourth season of ''[[Series/StarTrekEnterprise Enterprise]]'' did this to Captain Archer. He's so upbeat, excited and optimistic about exploring the galaxy in the first two seasons, continuing to get blindsided by all the pre-federation bullies. When [[spoiler:the Xindi Weapon devastates Earth]] he not only [[TookALevelInBadass takes a level in badass]] but his attitude switches to be even colder throughout the entire third season. He mellows a bit in the fourth but still exhibits this when the going gets tough.
* Rust Cohle from the first season of the HBO Anthology series ''Series/TrueDetective'' is a straight up nihilist, thinking that human consciousness was a mistake and that humanity should voluntarily stop breeding and die out. He is also a tireless fighter for what's right no matter the personal cost.
* ''{{Series/Gotham}}'''s Jim Gordon quickly becomes this, which isn't surprising considering the environment he's working in. Harvey Bullock has become this although in his case it's actually a step ''up'' from the [[TheCynic cynical]] CorruptCop he was when we first met him.
* In ''Series/{{Healer}}'', both Min Ja and Young Jae. Min Ja is a former detective who [[spoiler: refused to leave her post while her four year old son was dying in the hospital]], only to be ordered to destroy the evidence and close the case. Young Jae was one of five TrueCompanions who opposed the regime's media censorship by way of a pirate radio broadcast, and went to prison for eleven years, only to find two of his former friends dead at, seemingly, the hand of the third. At one point in the series they have a conversation in which they both admit that they are this trope--and that they both hope that the hero, still in the KnightInShiningArmor phase of his life, will succeed without becoming like them.
* In ''Series/JessicaJones2015'' on Creator/{{Netflix}}, this describes the title character to a tee. She's cynical to the core, often rude, sarcastic, pushes others away, and generally doesn't show much ''outward'' sympathy to others. She still does everything in her power to protect innocent lives, including (if there's no other way) giving Kilgrave, the one who traumatized her in the first place, what he asks for.
* ''Series/LawAndOrderSpecialVictimsUnit'' ran afoul of this in its earliest seasons with a cast that could almost be described as a cluster of rain clouds who live and breath sarcasm and misanthropy. (Probably justified in a show focused on "especially heinous" assault and abuse cases.) Even the guest cast of suspects and crossover cast had nothing to add but more rain. Some episodes seemed to be a reminder how ''everyone'' hated life. In later seasons, the show started to get out of its funk.
** The biggest example is former ADA Alex Cabot. Once, she was all about the law, incredibly strict to the point of undermining a case rather than cross ethical lines. After a long absence, Cabot returns in season 19's "Sunk Cost Fallacy" where she is now part of a group who help battered women and children escape their lives by faking their deaths. She's even willing to let a husband go to jail for the "murder" of his family. A fight with Liv has Cabot ranting on how Liv could have lied under oath as the "tell the whole truth" thing is just a load of crap to make people think the justice system gives a damn about them and her methods work much better.
-->'''Liv''': What happened to you?
-->'''Alex''': I opened my eyes. I opened them wide, and I saw that for twelve years I saw that I was a cog in a 'holier than thou' wheel and the wheel keeps spinning and tossing off bodies as it goes."


* The [[Myth/NorseMythology Norse worldview]] basically consisted of a largely amoral universe where bad things happened to good people and everything ended in death. Yggdrasil was eaten by serpents from below, and deer from above, and even the Aesir would die at Ragnarok. Until then, the Aesir weren't entirely good guys either. Nevertheless, the warrior's code was to fight the good fight and the mythology is riddled with examples of standing and fighting even when death is inevitable, because that's the right thing to do. On the other hand, Thor was viewed as the protector of Midgard and friend of Men, the Good Guy fighting giants to protect the Aesir and humans alike. Most stories focusing on him tend to be far more upbeat, with Thor overcoming challenges after much fun is made at his expense.

* In the ''Franchise/{{Dragnet}}'' radio dramas (as well as the later remakes), Sergeant Joe Friday sometimes trades his shining armor for sour mail when exposed to particularly bad cases of social decay.
* Harry Nile in ''Radio/TheAdventuresOfHarryNile.'' A former Chicago cop who wound up retiring after seeing widespread corruption in the force, and almost murdered a crime boss in order to get out of debt before working as a private investigator instead. Yet despite just how much of the seedy side of society he's seen, the guy's own humanity is his greatest asset, and he cares for his clients.

* As Literature/TheFourGospels portray Him, UsefulNotes/{{Jesus}} could say "forgive the one who hurts you, and do good to those that persecute you" when He knew in advance that He was to be brutally killed by the very people He was saving.
* David occasionally takes this tone as well in the Old Testament (notably in Psalm 22).

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* A common character type in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'', especially among the Imperium of Man. [[Literature/GauntsGhosts Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt]] is perhaps the most prominent example, a genuinely selfless, courageous, and noble hero who is becoming deeply bitter and cynical towards the Imperial Guard command structure. Major Elim Rawne of the same series quite arguably worked his way into this trope from the other direction-he started as a ruthlessly cynical, self-serving bastard, and remains a ruthlessly cynical bastard-but one with a very tarnished and deeply hidden heart of gold. Commissar Literature/CiaphasCain, '''HERO OF THE IMPERIUM''', projects this at times... because his reputation (and possibly he) would be shot if anyone knew [[DirtyCoward how he actually is]].
** The author himself has stated [[ShrugOfGod that he doesn't know]] if Cain really is the DirtyCoward he presents himself as, or if [[UnreliableNarrator Cain just doesn't give himself enough credit]]. Still, Cain isn't like the stereotypical commissar that shoots his own men at the drop of a hat, which is a huge point in his favor.
** Certain members of the [[WideEyedIdealist Tau]] have lived long enough and seen enough of the universe to understand that their race is fundamentally naive and that their dream of uniting the galaxy under the Greater Good is a TragicDream at best. However, they reconcile themselves with the Greater Good by embracing the philosophy that even if the Greater Good is a utopian ideal and their galaxy a CrapsackWorld, simply striving towards those ideals is good enough.
** And then there's the Lamenters Chapters. Founded during the Cursed 21st Founding, they are Blood Angels successor chapter who seems to be free of the Red Thirst and Black Rage. Unfortunately they seem to be cursed by terrible, ''terrible'' luck, going into IronWoobie status. And yet despite being distrusted by their own allies, almost annihilated for unwittingly fighting for the wrong side, almost eaten by Tyranids, and forbidden from recruiting more to their Chapter, they are ''still'' loyal to the Imperium. Hell, other chapters have been known to turn renegade for a fraction of the shit they went through.
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' brings you the Grey Guard ''PrestigeClass''. Paladins who tend to fall early and often for breaking their code in the pursuit of genuine Good (not making the job quick and easy) are sometimes approached by the knightly equivalent of the CIA. The abilities they pick up take the 'goodness and light' of the Paladin and turn it into 'goodness and Bad Cop interrogations.'
** The Paladin class itself flirts with being an example of this even ''before'' one takes the Gray Guards into account, especially in a setting where the government is harsh or totalitarian. It's pointed out in the ''Book of Exalted Deeds'' that when faced with a choice between Law and Good, a true Paladin will always choose the latter (the Paladin's code in the book has a loophole about "Legitimate" authority for this reason).
* As the TabletopGame/{{Ravenloft}} setting is bound to eat your average KnightInShiningArmor for breakfast, it's home to quite a few of these instead, striving to hold back the darkness. The game-setting's knights of the Circle function more like vigilantes or undercover operatives, keeping their heroic deeds under the darklords' radar.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'' being what it is, most established characters with a strong moral compass fall under this category. A near-embodiment of this trope, however, is [[http://www.shadowrun4.com/resources/timeline.shtml Captain Chaos]].
* Most clerics of [[http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Ilmater#Worshipers Ilmater]].
* Pan Dachshund is one of the sample characters in ''TabletopGame/{{Pugmire}}'' and is one of the two characters (along with the more idealistic [[ThePollyanna Yosha Pug]]) who BreakTheFourthWall throughout the rule book by explaining details and concepts to the reader. He's grumpy, cynical and doesn't believe any of this crap about the sacred legacy of [[{{Precursors}} Man]] or the inherent nobility of [[ShiningCity Pugmire]], but he'll fight any monster who threatens honest dogs, because that's just the right thing to do.
-->'''Yosha:''' [[OddFriendship And that's why you're a good dog, Pan.]]

* Cassandra in ''Theatre/CodeTwentyOne'' is a good example. She decides to work in mental health because she wants to make a difference and over the years adhering to the system's rules makes her feel embittered and less hopeful about the world.
* ''Theatre/{{Wicked}}'': Why, Miss Elphaba... you and this trope [[ArcWords deserve each other]].
* In ''Theatre/ManOfLaMancha,'' Don Quixote ''might'' be this; he has a skewed perception of the world as a beautiful, marvelous place when it clearly isn't, but he indicates that, even when he ''knows'' the world is a dire mess that has little hope of elevation, he will fight on. When he converts [[spoiler: Dulcinea]] to his cause, she becomes a full-fledged example.
** [[http://www.youtube,com/watch?v=RfHnzYEHAow "The Impossible Dream"]] sums up this trope perfectly
** Miguel de Cervantes, or at least his character here, is more this than Don Quixote (although the two are described as being closely related) because Quixote seems to be more truly mad. Cervantes specifically gives a speech saying that he has seen evil in the world, but that it has convinced him even more that it is important to do good. People "asking not why they died, but why they had ever lived" for example.

* Kiina from ''Toys/{{Bionicle}}''. She's a tough, {{Ladette}} ActionGirl who is dissatisfied with her planet as it is, and believes that there are other, better worlds out there. Naturally, everyone thinks she's nuts. Then, when she turns out to be right, she suddenly morphs into a GenkiGirl. [[RescuedFromTheScrappyHeap She got better.]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Squall Leonhart from ''Videogame/FinalFantasyVIII'' veers between this and just being a {{Jerkass}} (later revealed to be JerkassFacade because LoveRedeems.) Especially notable beause doing the right thing, for him, means not only fighting for a world he might not think is worth fighting for (most of the game, anyway), but also serving the forces which have forbidden him from exercising his free will for his entire life. (Though, to be fair, he has been strung along most of the time because he doesn't know what he would do otherwise)
* Kratos Aurion in ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia'' fits this like a glove. He started out as [[spoiler: an idealist alongside Mithos Yggdrasill who just wanted half-elves to be accepted]], and then became what we see in the game.
-->'''Colette:''' Our weapons are love!\\
'''Genis:''' Justice! And...\\
'''Kratos:''' Sigh...hope.
* [[VigilanteMan Yuri Lowell]] from ''VideoGame/TalesOfVesperia'' left the royal knights because he felt they were doing very little to change the lives of the poor and downtrodden and end the [[AristocratsAreEvil corruption among the upper class]], but his sense of honor and justice still drives him toward this goal.
%%* Elika in ''VideoGame/PrinceOfPersia2008'' is a rare female example.
* Jolee Bindo in ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic'' has rejected the Jedi Order as hypocritical and hidebound, but he hasn't rejected his moral center. Carth Onasi fits the trope as well. He's [[KnightInShiningArmor closer to good]] on the KarmaMeter than the ''Jedi'' in your party, but his [[JadeColoredGlasses capability to trust in the good of others]] has been [[StealthPun torpedoed]] by personal tragedy. He's vocally suspicious regarding the player character and the entire situation; that suspicion eventually turns out to be eerily dead-on. The comics, set a few years before the events of the game, make it clear that [[spoiler: his entanglement with Revan]] wasn't the first time he found himself involved in a [[MetaphoricallyTrue Jedi scheme and cover-up]].
* ''VideoGame/StarWarsTheOldRepublic'' has [[MissionControl Keeper]] (later known as [[spoiler: the Minister of Intelligence]]) in the Imperial Agent storyline. He joined Imperial Intelligence hoping to do some good for the Empire, only to be blocked by red tape and Sith interference at every turn, and usually forced to just make things worse for people. Years of this have led to him becoming a massive cynic. Still, he keeps on trying to use his power to do the right thing. [[spoiler: In the end, he finally gets the chance to do some good, helping the Agent destroy the [[AncientConspiracy Star Cabal]] and giving the Agent the option to use the Black Codex to wipe out all evidence of their existence, abandoning Imperial government in favour of acting as a sort of freelancer, helping the Empire wherever help is needed.]]
** It's also very easy for the Imperial Agent themselves to become this, as a result of the TraumaCongaLine they can have to endure. Many players find their Agent becoming increasingly less idealistic and more disillusioned with the Empire, similar to what Keeper went through.
* ''VideoGame/SakuraWars'': Yoneda's introduction to Ogami says it all:
-->'''Yoneda''': "A hero? No kid; I'm just a filthy old bastard who got badges for murdering a lot of people."
* Garrus from ''Franchise/MassEffect'' falls into this, especially in the second game. He starts a vigilante group on Omega to help combat the crime, corruption, and decay of the station, and admits that he knows he wasn't really making a big difference; for all of the irritation he gave the mercenary groups after him, Omega was a pisshole when he started and was a pisshole when he left. And he fights on anyway.
** Shepard can be played like this, if you act douchey in dialogue but ultimately do good things. If you have a [[DarkAndTroubledPast Colo]][[IronWoobie nist]] background, the Asari consort says as much, 'detecting a sadness behind your eyes'.
--> '''Consort:''' ''[[HurtingHero "I see the sadness behind your eyes, it tells a story that makes me want to weep. Pain and loss.]] [[IronWoobie But it drives you, makes you strong. It is that strength that people are drawn to.]] [[MagneticHero It is why you lead and others follow without question.]] You will need that leadership in the battles to come."''
** Wrex turns out to be this if you befriend him. He's old enough to remember his species in their glory days and has become very cynical as all his efforts to reverse their self-destructive slide to extinction have failed due primarily to ChronicBackstabbingDisorder. But if he survives the first game, he decides that there ''is'' reason to hope for the future and returns to his homeworld to give the krogan another shove at being better than just a bunch of thugs-for-hire.
** At the end of the ''Lair of the Shadow Broker'' DLC, Liara will ask Shepard how s/he's doing. If you choose the right dialogue option, Shepard will vent about how tired s/he is of dealing with Cerberus and the Council treating him/her like s/he's nuts. But in the end s/he keeps going because s/he wants to give people the chance to change for the better.
--> '''Shepard:''' People are messy, awkward, sometimes selfish and cruel. But they're trying, and I'm going to make sure they have a chance.
** By ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'', Shepard has embraced this trope and taken it UpToEleven. S/he vocalizes at MANY points in the story his/her doubts that anything s/he does is actually going to win the war but s/he never stops going.
** Javik could also be turned into this, depending on Shepard's choices.
* Keldorn and Jaheira from the ''Franchise/BaldursGate'' series have shades of this, the former being a 60+ year old [[KnightInShiningArmor paladin]] and the second a ''very'' cynical Harper (a secret society devoted to spreading good).
* In ''Franchise/MetalGear'', Solid Snake is arguably the best example in gaming. He's [[DeadpanSnarker cynical]], [[GallowsHumor jaded]], [[ShellShockedVeteran world-weary]], really couldn't care less about being seen as a hero or a legend, and doesn't believe he'd make a difference to the future ("I'm not as arrogant as that."), but he continues to fight because no one else can or will.
-->'''Snake:''' ''"I'm no hero. Never was, never will be. Just an old killer, hired to do some wet-work."''
** His papa, Big Boss, is another example until his FaceHeelTurn, particularly after being forced to kill the Boss.
** The Boss herself is, knowing that a soldier's calling is not something they can decide for themselves but must be heeded regardless, though she takes it better than her protégé or Solid Snake do (she's learned to suppress the "sour" and accept things as they are).
* [[spoiler:Keisuke]] from ''VideoGame/DevilSurvivor'' becomes this [[spoiler:if you can convince he's wrong after he [[KnightTemplar snaps]]]].
* Alistair from ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' fits this trope well. He LITERALLY stopped short of becoming a KnightTemplar.
** You yourself can play as one of these too, [[VideogameCaringPotential if you so choose.]] ''[[VideogameCrueltyPotential If.]]''
** Also a natural fit for an elf Grey Warden--humans have been bastards to you, your family, and your race for longer than they can remember, and don't exactly feel guilty about it. The game demands that you save the mostly human kingdom of Ferelden, re-unite it under legitimate political authorities, and generally leave it a much stronger and more powerful nation than it was before you entered the picture. One bit of dialogue has an NPC thanking you for saving the kingdom, and one of your responses is along the lines of "I'm saving ''my'' people from the Blight. ''Your'' kingdom can burn for all I care."
** His fellow tank warrior Aveline from the sequel also fits; she's a world-weary widowed soldier and cop who's seen a lot of bloodshed and suffering and whose goal is to protect her friends and keep what order she can in the world.
** Varric Tethras fits into this trope in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeInquisition''. In the beginning, he outright states that he's pretty sure the world is going to end no matter what they do, but he stays and helps anyways. By the end, should you play your [[StealthPun cards]] right, he changes his attitude a little by believing that the Inquisition, with the [[PlayerCharacter Inquisitor]] leading them, is the final, best hope for Thedas, but he still acknowledges that the world is in a bad situation.
** Hawke can fall into this, especially Snarky Hawke: they've lost friends, family, siblings, they've had a ton of crap dropped on them, and while they'll drop sarcastic asides at every opportunity, they'll still force themselves up and go and do the right thing.
* ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2'': Casavir also behaves like this sometimes. Just try asking him about the circumstances of his first exit from Neverwinter.
* Ryudo from ''VideoGame/GrandiaII'' fits this trope to a tee, in reaction to the original title's protagonist, Justin, who was an idealist with a strong wanderlust -- almost Sonic the Hedgehog in human form. In the sequel, Ryudo is a misanthropic mercenary who wants nothing more than to escort his charge (a sickeningly cheery do-gooder, Elena) from A to B and collect his reward. He's also a bit of a smartass, always ready with a sarcastic remark. The game goes down the usual JRPG paths, peeling back the onion to expose Ryudo's reasons for distrusting everyone and everything, and revealing his kinder side from time to time.
* Cole [=MacGrath=] from ''VideoGame/InFamous''. If you finish the game with good karma, he ends up as Empire City's savior, but the final scene has him musing about his isolation [[spoiler:(given that his girlfriend is dead and his best friend's betrayed him)]] and wondering how long it will be before the city turns against him. Unfortunately for him, he ''knows'' that there's something big and powerful coming, and he's the only one that can stop it. He's ''not'' happy about it at all.
* Hash from ''VideoGame/LiveALive''. After defeating the demon king, he was heralded as a hero, but the very nature of human beings continued to disgust him much to the extent that he faked his death and hid out in a cabin in the mountains, only being convinced to help Oersted save humanity again because despite his hatred, he knows that it's the right thing to do. [[spoiler: When he dies, he asks Oersted to believe in his friends and not become bitter like he did. Unfortunately, Oersted's own adventure eventually pushed far beyond merely being bitter.]]
* Jim Raynor from ''Videogame/{{Starcraft}}'' was more of a KnightInShiningArmor (and Kerrigan lampshaded it) before he realized that the Koprulu Sector was a CrapsackWorld. As of ''VideoGame/StarcraftII,'' he's still a Knight In Sour Armor.
** By the "Heart of the Swarm" [[spoiler:Kerrigan herself]] joins him there.
* Marshal Leigh Johnson of ''VideoGame/RedDeadRedemption'' is a bitterly jaded old man who nonetheless remains LawfulGood throughout the game (though by the epilogue he moves as far away from Armadillo for his retirement). John Marston has similar tendencies when he decides to help out people (mostly Bonnie and Luisa), to the point that Abraham Reyes refers to him as a "romantic trying to be a cynic".
** [[CoolOldGuy Landon Ricketts also qualifies.]] And Jack in the epilogue.
* From the ''Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog'' series:
** Shadow the Hedgehog eventually becomes one. He went from fighting against the world, to fighting for himself, to fighting ''for'' the world. Pretty much his only reason for this is because [[CynicismCatalyst a little girl told him to before she died]]. It took Shadow a while to remember that, but when he did, the bad guys began wishing he was still one of them. When one of the villains tries to bring Shadow over to his side by telling him that the world will turn on him one day, Shadow simply responds by saying he'll fight like he used to.
** Gerald Robotnik. Since he's an old guy, he can't really fight, but he knew that humanity was good and deserved saving. So what did he do? He created an immortal, powerful hedgehog named Shadow to protect humans, despite that Shadow pretty much '''hates''' humans, calling them "pathetic" at every chance he gets. Bonus for Gerald in that he pretty much hates humans just as much as Shadow, although this may be because the aforementioned little girl was his granddaughter, and her death made him go insane, considering how she'd been killed because experiments to save her had been considered too dangerous. However, when he ''was'' sane, he reveals to Shadow that he built the gigantic gun on the ARK station to actually save the Earth from an alien attack that would happen ''50 years later'', while Shadow previously thought that he had built it to destroy Earth. Guess who pulls the trigger?
* ''Franchise/DevilMayCry'' series protagonist Dante based on his tragic past. His family troubles and basically living in endless poverty has a "live-and-let-live" sort of view on justice. Dante basically lives life on his own terms and besides devoting his life to stopping demons, he's a jerk with a snappy one liner ready to distance his involvement with getting to close with people and barely has a care of the world outside of stopping the demonic invasion of the week. Regardless, He will still fight the good fight.
* Chris Redfield of ''Franchise/ResidentEvil'' fame expresses such views in the [[VideoGame/ResidentEvil5 the fifth game]]; with [[GeneticEngineeringIsTheNewNuke bioweapons running rampant and in the hands of terrorists]] since Umbrella's fall, Chris actually wonders at times if fighting against bioterrorism is even worth it. Taken to another level by ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil6'' where Chris starts to drink heavily on a near daily basis after seeing most of his men get slaughtered on a mission they were on. Chris starts to believe that nothing he does will change anything. but it takes some bonding time with his partner, Piers, to get Chris back to his fighting spirit and shed the sour armor.
* Gabriel Belmont ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaLordsOfShadow'' also qualifies. As his mentor Zobek tells us, he could have given up all hope of saving the world because he has done so many questionable deeds--which he himself admits so. However, something in his mind still forces him to continue on--bitterly ...
** He also makes a good buddy for [[Franchise/MetalGear Solid Snake]], if they happen to exist in the same universe... They [[BirdsOfAFeather share the same bitter personality]] as well as the same game company.
** Even after [[spoiler:becoming Dracula]], the [[VideoGame/CastlevaniaLordsOfShadow2 sequel]] reveals that he still fights for the world despite his hatred of it. [[spoiler:Specifically by being the apex predator that keeps other more evil but less powerful villains in check.]]
* ''VideoGame/MaxPayne''. His entire family murdered, his best friend killed, and both the good sides and the bad sides of the city trying to kill him. He even contemplates leaving the city early on, becoming a fugitive, but quickly decides that he'd rather see things through to the end. He ends up paying for it pretty harshly, though.
* Garrett from ''Videogame/{{Thief}}'' fits this role well. He's a completely unrepentant criminal who acts as though he has nothing but contempt for others, his surroundings, and the whole corrupt, depraved pit that is the City and the world he lives in - ''most'' of the time. But there are hints that Garrett cares more than he'd ever want to or admit when he witnesses cruelty against almost anybody, especially the poor and already down-trodden, and even people who've tried in the past to kill him. (Possibly because it's a really, really long list.)
* Lightning in ''Videogame/FinalFantasyXIII'' is a female example. She does believe in doing what's right, but the world she lives in is so messed-up she has very little "right" to believe in and she bitterly laments her fate as a cursed l'Cie.
** While we're on the subject of ''Final Fantasy XIII'', how about Sazh and Oerba Yun Fang? Sazh's only desire is to see his son again and he's willing to turn himself in to see his son one last time before he is executed. Vanille is what keeps him going. The same is said for Fang when it is revealed that she was a Pulse l'Cie before the start of the game along with Vanille [[spoiler: and cracked Coocoon's shell as Ragnarok.]] By extension, the entire main cast if you go by their backstories and their cursed fate as a l'Cie. [[spoiler: Even GenkiGirl Oerba Dia Vanille who lied to everyone about being a Pulse l'Cie so she could help them. Had she not lied at all, things would have gone differently.]]
* In ''VideoGame/LANoire'', Herschel Biggs and Jack Kelso are both perfectly aware of and disappointed in the state of the Los Angeles, and how little of what they do is actually meaningful. They try their damndest anyway. [[spoiler: Protagonist Cole makes the shift from idealist to sour knight over the course of the game, despite his attempts not to, thanks to the corruption and politics endemic in the LAPD.]]
* Manuel Calavera of ''VideoGame/GrimFandango'' is a cynical man who claims to only look out for himself. When he joins the LSA and heads out across the Land of the Dead to search for Mercedes, he claims it's only because she is his ticket to the next world. However, he does thaw somewhat over the course of the story, as particularly evidenced by his relationships with Meche, Glottis, and the Angelitos. As Grim Fandango was based on several FilmNoir classics including ''Film/{{Casablanca}}'' and ''Film/DoubleIndemnity'', this characterization fits the milieu perfectly.
* Several characters in ''Videogame/FalloutNewVegas'' qualify for this. Rose of Sharon Cassidy is a [[TheLadette hard-drinking and somewhat surly woman]] who also happens to have a strong moral code, being the one character who will specifically complain about the player's KarmaMeter if it gets incredibly low. Also, there's Colonel Hsu and Chief Hanlon of the NCR, who despite being personally against the war (especially considering the fact that their commander, General Oliver is a GloryHound and GeneralFailure) do what they can for the sake of the soldiers
** Orion Moreno and "Cannibal" Johnson are also good examples, especially Orion. Both were former members of [[BadassArmy the Enclave]]. At the destruction of their oil rig, the [[TheFederation New California Republic]] dismantled the Enclave, seeing them as too great a potential threat to ignore. Decades later, the NCR finds itself up against [[TheEmpire Caesar's Legion]], a group of totalitarian slavers. Moreno sympathizes with the Legion, unable to forgive the NCR for defeating the Enclave, which he considered the last remnant of the old America (and he's kind of right). Johnson supports the NCR, seeing their democratic government to be in the spirit of the old America and preferring them to the brutality of the Legion. Both men can be convinced to join the final battle--but serving the wrong side will require a very difficult Speech check--Johnson will [[spoiler: abandon you rather than fight the NCR]], and Moreno will [[spoiler: try to kill you--after donning his PoweredArmor and hefting a minigun]].
* Cody from the ''VideoGame/FinalFight'', and later ''Franchise/StreetFighter'' series is a perfect example. In ''Final Fight'', he was a straight out Hero, who fought the Mad Gear Gang to rid his city of them and rescue his girlfriend Jessica. Along the way he beats up a corrupt cop named Edi, who later has him arrested for assault and battery. While in prison he develops an addiction to fighting, and when he gets out, walks the streets looking for the slightest provocation to fight. After he is thrown back into prison, his girlfriend leaves him and travels to Europe, her father Haggar is all but through helping Cody, and only his best friend Guy still believes in him. By the time of the ''Street Fighter'' series, he believes that he is no longer a hero, and that the only purpose he has left in the world is to fight, which he frequently tells everybody is meaningless. However, he still has ''some'' desire to protect the world, as he breaks out of prison to seek out villains like Bison and Seth to defeat, and his theme implies he wishes to relive his glory days of heroism, but has convinced himself it is too late.
* Agate from ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfHeroesTrailsInTheSky'' is a perpetually angry young man who especially at first has nothing but scorn to ther heroine and her extremely optimistic outlook. In spite of the misanthropy, he's one of the best Bracers in Liberl. Originally, he UsedToBeASweetKid until his little sister died during the war, making him channel all his anger into fighting, not helped when he joins a gang in Ruan until he got the crap beaten out of him by local GreaterScopeParagon Cassius. He softens up a bit after befriending the preteen Tita, who he became fond of after she went out of her way to protect him. He eventually becomes even less sour when [[WellIntentionedExtremist Loewe]] of all people deconstructs that mindset as regressive. If he just uses his sword as a crutch to channel his anger, he'll never be able to move past his weakness and find enlightenment. Yet he's too sentimental to fully make use of his vengence as a tool, not a crutch and commit to villainy. That, and an effective [[GetAHoldOfYourselfMan speech]] from Tita to trust her as a friend, and not his sister's replacement.
* This is probably the defining characteristic of Geralt of Rivia from ''VideoGame/TheWitcher''. As a mutant monster hunter, Geralt is hated by almost everyone and knows it since they mock him, spit on him and violently attack him just for being what he is. As a witcher he is solely supposed to work for money killing monsters. Despite always telling himself and others that he only works for money and doesn't want to get involved with normal people or politics, Geralt seems to have one of the worst cases of ChronicHeroSyndrome of any character in gaming, constantly putting his life on the line for people who don't care if he lives or dies. This exchange from [[VideoGame/TheWitcher3WildHunt the third game]] solidifies it.
-->'''Thug''': You pay on time, you get protection. If you don't... ''([[WouldHitAGirl Slaps the woman he's intimidating]])'' Or are you expecting a KnightInShiningArmor?
-->'''Geralt''': Close enough.
* In ''VideoGame/FireEmblemFates'', the Avatar becomes this in the ''Conquest'' route, and develops some shades of this in the ''Revelations'' route. In the ''Conquest'' route, their wide-eyed naivete is slowly crushed by the bitter experiences throughout the route (though does nothing to shatter their resolve to see their mission through). In the case of ''Revelations'', they mostly have elements of KnightInShiningArmor, but because of learning the truth behind the conflict, and the fact that there is a bigger threat in the form of Anankos, they become no longer naive about the happenings of the world anymore and their naivete is tempered by wisdom.
* From ''VideoGame/DeadRising'', Frank West, a freelance photojournalist with a rough attitude and a determination to set things right in the zombie-infested world.
* Canach from ''VideoGame/GuildWars2''. He made some bad choices in the past, but [[TheAtoner he's trying to make up for that]] by helping [[PlayerCharacter the Commander]] fight the elder dragons and save the world. That said, he is still holding onto his salty attitude, making him fit solidly into this trope.
* In ''VideoGame/CultistSimulator'', [[HeroAntagonist Hunters]] can have both the "Grim" and "Idealist" traits, which makes for a ''nasty'' combination to the VillainProtagonist player character. "Grim" makes the hunter more susceptible to a HannibalLecture based on the [[EvilIsDeathlyCold lore of Winter]], but grants immunity to attempts to sway them with the [[LightIsNotGood lore of the Lantern]]; "Idealist" has the opposite effect, making the the Lantern more tempting while granting them immunity to attempts to scare them with Winter. The two traits together [[OneHeroHoldTheWeaksauce cancel out their weaknesses while providing their immunities]].

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* ''Franchise/AceAttorney''
** Most of the SL-9 crew in ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney''. They're demoted, fired, and generally jaded but still want to find the truth of what happened to Neil Marshall.
** Detective Badd in ''VisualNovel/{{Ace Attorney Investigations|MilesEdgeworth}}'', as part of his FilmNoir detective persona. [[spoiler: And he still fights for justice as the Yatagarasu.]]
* Dev Hanshin from the ''VisualNovel/DeathRoom''. He clearly doesn't think the world is sunshine and roses, but he always tries to do the right thing.

* * In ''Webcomic/SwordCatPrincess'', Kathryn no longer engages verbally with those she saves, instead prompting them to run from danger by [[http://SwordCatPrincess.thecomicseries.com/comics/13/ threatening them with her swords]].
* Roy Greenhilt of ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' finds himself filling this role more often than he'd like.
--> ''"As much as I loathe how you've manipulated my friends and me, Xykon is an actual threat. I'm not going to sit and let him get away with whatever he's got planned just because my father happens to be a self-absorbed arrogant jerk. There are too many lives at stake"'' - [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0293.html source]]
* In ''Webcomic/TheLettersOfTheDevil'', Detective Cedric Dustin is more interested in advancing himself by doing the least amount of work possible than he is in actually solving crimes.
* Karkat Vantas of ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}''. He'll [[NoIndoorVoice shout]], he'll whine, he'll [[{{Jerkass}} mock his friends and foes alike]], but ultimately he'll do the right thing. [[DeadpanSnarker Dave Strider]] as well. In addition both Karkat and Dave are literal knights.
** Other characters with traits along these lines include Rose Lalonde and Sollux Captor.
* Oddly enough, Davan and some of the other main characters of ''Webcomic/SomethingPositive'' sometimes come across like this. They live in a CrapsackWorld and are completely aware of it, but they'll go to great lengths for each other.
* A running theme in ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' is our heroes running into situations that ''almost'' make them this trope, but eventually resulting in them keeping their idealism, especially as they meet characters who embody it. The best example of this kind of character would have to be [[spoiler: the aged alternate version if Riff in the 4-U City arc, who has been tirelessly working to fix his doomed world for decades while knowing that the dystopia he's ignoring is causing the citizens to suffer. By the time he meets another human being for the first time in ten years he's one giant ball of bitterness]]. Seeing that possible future causes Riff to reaffirm his idealism during that arc, but even he ends up landing in a balance between idealist and cynic most of the time.
--> Riff: "The sound of children playing in the streets for the first time in decades. '''Hate''' that sound. But I know it's a good thing."
* [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold Heathcliff Sinclair]] of ''Webcomic/SlightlyDamned'' puts on a [[http://www.sdamned.com/2009/05/05312009/ mean face]], but shows his [[http://www.sdamned.com/2010/02/02012010/ true colors]] when the chips are down.
* In ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'', Elliot [[http://www.egscomics.com/?date=2012-08-14 describes Susan]] as something like this.
* Corrick of ''Webcomic/{{Plume}}'' is incredibly jaded with his masters and the world in general, but still manages to bond with Vesper and do more than just keep her alive.
* ''Webcomic/ZebraGirl'': Sam. The fact that he's a cartoon rabbit makes his jadedness all the more pronounced.
* Lamar in ''Webcomic/WeAreTheWyrecats'' is incredibly dour, but quick to take action nonetheless.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* [[Website/FourChan /tg/]] discusses this and KnightInShiningArmor at length [[http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive/11826926/ here.]] (warning: somewhat {{N|otSafeForWork}}SFW)
* Coltaine and to a lesser extent Win'Tyr of LetsPlay/DungeonsAndDrogans.
* Powder Keg from ''Podcast/FalloutIsDragons'' is a type two Knight In Sour Armor.
* Blake from ''WebAnimation/{{RWBY}}'' has this mentality towards heroes, particularly {{Wide Eyed Idealist}}s like Ruby. She wants to end corruption, and refuses to [[spoiler:partake in the violence that The White Fang inflicts on humans, who systematically oppress Faunus]]. However, she balks at Ruby's heroic nature and desire for a happy, fairy-tale ending.
* The Courier in Machinima/CouriersMindRiseOfNewVegas is a cynical and ''very'' reluctant hero, but never the less, usually does the right thing.
* The regular robot in [[http://mattmcguigan.tumblr.com/post/162794297966/okay-bye-patreon-store-instagram this]] tumblr cartoon.
-->'''Regular Bot:''' The world is still a very magical place! Even if it is also full of garbage.
* ''WebAnimation/{{Dreamscape}}'': Keedran knows protecting humanity is a thankless job because of her unsettling appearance, but she does it because its her job as a protector of the planet, not because people like her.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Genie from ''WesternAnimation/AladdinTheSeries'' becomes this in one episode. He agrees to help the Muktar, a member of a genie hunting, magic sensing race that is considered the mortal enemy of all genies. The reason? If he does so, the Muktar will free his friends Aladdin and co., who have been captured and trapped in a magical locket. At one point the Muktar is attacked by a plant creature, and Genie seizes the opportunity to snatch the locket and run away. However, because he is a good guy, his conscience forces him to turn around and save the Muktar from the plant creature. Later he is betrayed by the Muktar and sold out to Mozenrath, a sorcerer who hired the Muktar to catch Genie. After being imprisoned in a crystal, he angrily says to himself "I could have run away, but noooooo, I'm a GOOD guy!" Later the Muktar turns around and saves the protagonists, including Genie, from Mozenrath, but the point still stands. Sometimes a good character will be disgusted with itself for doing the right thing when amorality could have paid off so much more.
* Ratchet from ''WesternAnimation/TransformersAnimated'' has seen what the worst of war can bring out of the Autobots as [[TheMedic a medic]] and mentor to Omega Supreme. Yet, not even his GrumpyBear attitude can completely jade his loyalty for his people. Overall, the series' theme seems a bit more sour than any other ''Franchise/{{Transformers}}'' series.
** In ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime'', not only does Ratchet carry on this trait, but most of Team Prime, even [[BigGood Optimus himself]], carry bits of it with them after spending hundreds of millenia fighting against the Decepticons and losing their home.
** Silverbolt became one in ''WesternAnimation/BeastMachines'' after being reformatted, as a result of trying to reconcile his established KnightInShiningArmor personality with the fact that as a Vehicon, he enjoyed murder, mayhem, and general evilness.
** [[WesternAnimation/BeastWars Dinobot]] too.
* In ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' [[spoiler: Prince Zuko becomes this after his HeelFaceTurn and becoming the SixthRanger and TheAtoner. And while he's on the side of good now, he's still as grumpy and [[EmoTeen emo]] as ever and still firmly believes that Aang's silly ideas about pacifism [[SillyRabbitIdealismIsForKids should remain in air temple preschool where they belong]], for Aang misses the bigger picture]].
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' has Stan, a young boy who knows most of the things he will do won't change anything, especially his sociopath of a friend Eric Cartman and the idiot town of South Park, but he keeps doing good deeds regardless because it's the right thing to do.
* Tron has developed a very nasty case of this (along with GoodIsNotNice) in ''WesternAnimation/TronUprising,'' after being betrayed, damaged, and left for dead. He's ''very'' gruff towards Beck, but for good reason; he wanted to talk the kid out of it, but since the younger Program isn't going to quit, he'll try to harden Beck so that he survives.
* Warhawk (a member of the Justice League in the future time period of ''WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyond'') is very much like this, along with GoodIsNotNice, sharing both traits with [[Comicbook/NewGods Big Barda]], who is also a member at this time.
* Buttercup of ''WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls'' is the BloodKnight of the trio and can act like this a ''lot'', seeing as she represents the Spice aspect of Professor Utonium's original recipe.
* Zodac from In ''WesternAnimation/HeManAndTheMastersOfTheUniverse2002'', is like this, but wasn't always. He was once a KnightInShiningArmor type, but after King Hsss killed his brother in the original war with the Snake-Men centuries ago, he became colder and harsher in his ways. In the present-day storyline, he barely avoids crossing the line into KnightTemplar territory when Hsss returns.
* ''WesternAnimation/SamuraiJack'': Jack himself has hit this territory as of [[SamuraiJack/TropesSeason5 Season 5]]. While he continues to fight [[BigBad Aku's]] forces, he's become completely and utterly ''broken''. Having been trapped in the BadFuture for fifty years without [[TheAgeless aging]] or finding a way back to the past, Jack has become little more than a shell going through the motions, and even finds himself [[TalkingToThemself arguing with his own subconscious]] over how hopeless his situation has become. This is visually reflected by his new outfit, a suit of dark-colored samurai armor that has replaced his original pristine white gi.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Creator/JonathanSwift, despite being a self-proclaimed MisanthropeSupreme who wrote entire books dedicated to proving ([[BlackHumor quite hilariously]]) that HumansAreBastards, nevertheless spent much of his life trying to help the powerless and dispossessed. He particularly tried to help the [[OnceAcceptableTargets Irish]] - [[ValuesDissonance even the Catholic ones]] - having himself seen (as an Anglo-Irishman born in Dublin) exactly how wretchedly they lived. Sometimes, [[Literature/AModestProposal he did both at once]]. Worth spelling out that Swift was the Dean of Dublin Cathedral, thus a high official in the Anglican Church of Ireland, which at the time believed that ''all Catholics would go to hell.'' (And it gets better - the Deanship was really a political appointment, so he was not just going against the policy of the Church, but of the State as well.)
%%* Jaden "Knight"
* The official philosopher of this view must be Joseph de Maistre, who wrote in his ''St. Petersburg Dialogues'':
-->The philosopher can even discover how permanent carnage is provided for and ordained in the grand scheme of things. But will this law stop at man? Undoubtedly not. Yet who will kill him who kills everything else? Man! It is man himself who is charged with slaughtering man.
-->But how can he accomplish this law, he who is a moral and merciful being, who is born to love, who weeps for others as for himself, who finds pleasure in weeping and who even invents fiction to make himself weep, and finally, to whom it has been said that ''whoever sheds blood unjustly, by man shall his blood be shed''?
* [[TheAntiNihilist The Existentialist]] movement is like this. Yes, such a "meaning in life" does not exist anyway in this CrapsackWorld, but [[TheAntiNihilist they still continue to make the most meaningful out of it and live it]]. Søren Kierkegaard, considered the first Existentialist philosopher, basically described his Knight of Faith as a somewhat more poetic version of this trope. Like both nihilists ("aesthetic people") and those who resign themselves to the afterlife (the "knight of infinite resignation"), he knows that pursuing an unreachable goal in this world is cynically absurd/meaningless (if it's impossible to reach someone you love, the vast majority would just give up), yet in contrast to them he does anyway as a way of making his life even more meaningful.
* UsefulNotes/AbrahamLincoln spent most of his life, especially UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar, severely depressed over the nature of the country, particularly the South, and he fought to keep it together anyway.
* Creator/GeorgeOrwell, who despite the [[Literature/AnimalFarm grim]] [[Literature/NineteenEightyFour darkness]] of most of his works remained adamant that Democracy and Socialism were worth fighting for (and got shot through the neck doing so--in the UsefulNotes/SpanishCivilWar--yet somehow survived).
* Kent M. Keith, "The Paradoxical Commandments":
-->People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
-->If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
-->If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
-->The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Be good anyway.
-->Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
-->The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.
-->People favor underdogs, but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
-->What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
-->People need help, but may attack you if you do help them. Help them anyway.
-->Give the world the best you have, and you'll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.
* Music/DmitriShostakovich, a bitter [[UsefulNotes/SovietRussiaUkraineAndSoOn Soviet]] composer who refused to become a propagandistic servant to the totalitarian state he lived in until the end.
* Glenn Greenwald, a Salon columnist and former civil rights attorney who, despite being a DeadpanSnarker, firmly believes in civil liberties.
%%* The politician Dennis Skinner sounds like this sometimes.
* War poets such as Siegried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen subverted this trope slightly in the sense that they wrote about hating war whilst continuing to serve as soldiers (since they would still have viewed fleeing as treacherous and cowardly). Rudyard Kipling played it a little straighter in the sense that he likewise took on a less jingoistic tone in his poetry after his son died in battle, but he continued to view the concept of besmirching soldiers or the war effort as little better than treason.
%%The following example has been commented out for being a ZeroContextExample. Do not uncomment it without expanding it.
%%* Michael Parenti.
* History will remember Music/LudwigVanBeethoven as a bit of a grump. He did not like people, it seemed, but he still produced music that celebrated the finest qualities of both man and divinity, like the famous vocal exert of [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RLPG88u3lM Ode To Joy.]]
* Secret letters found to belong to the late Mother Teresa, a renowned symbol of religious compassion, revealed that she had suffered a crisis of faith in the existence of God that lasted 50 years of her life, beginning the same year she began her work helping the poor in Kolkata which continued unabated until her death in 1997.
* Many long time International Humanitarian Aid workers who have worked in the developing world fall into this category too.
* [[Series/CountdownWithKeithOlbermann Keith Olbermann]], a blazing idealist who wraps himself in a protective shroud of cynicism, snark, and anger. Though generally appearing to be exasperated with the world around him, Keith doesn't do a great job of hiding the fact that he's mostly angry with the world for not being as good as he believes it ''can'' be, and obviously can't help but keep believing that someday, it'll get there. If nothing else, his [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRzqKZF1TbU Special Comment on Proposition 8]] shows more clearly than anything else that, underneath the snark and the grumbles, Keith Olbermann is a hopeless romantic of the first order.
-->'''Keith''': ...this isn't about yelling, and this isn't about politics. This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it.
* On the other side of the aisle, Radio/RushLimbaugh, self-described "Mayor of Realville" who's seen too much over his career to take hope for his ideals winning over at face value, and constantly tells his listeners to never get complacent when things seem to be going "our" way. Still, he also is sure to say "[[YouCanPanicNow I will tell you when it's time to panic,]]" and holds firm to the belief that America's strong enough to take anything.
* Sufferers of depression often become something of a real-world equivalent of this if they survive and overcome the disorder. Prolonged depression tend to give people a more negative outlook on life, but many act in a selflessly and joyous manner to compensate.