Knight Templar
You keep telling yourself that, Imperius.

"Nobody is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart, for his purity, by definition, is unassailable."
James Baldwin

Sometimes, the Forces of Light and Goodness get too hardcore. In a deadly combination of Well-Intentioned Extremist, The Fundamentalist, Moral Guardians, and sometimes He Who Fights Monsters, they get blinded by themselves and their ideals, and this extreme becomes tyrannical sociopathy. It's not the Forces of Darkness' fault, but they are laughing their asses off and taking a great deal of satisfaction that they were right. It's basically The Mole version of Hero Antagonist.

Usually, the Knight Templar's primary step (or objective) to his perceived "utopia" is to get rid of that pesky "free will" thing that is the cause of crime and evil. Many Knight Templar types are utterly merciless in dealing with those whom they consider evil, and are prone to consider all crimes to be equal. The lightest offences, such as jaywalking, are met with Draconian punishments such as full imprisonment, death, brainwashing, or eternal torture. If you're in a story like this, don't jaywalk, or even THINK about jaywalking. And may heaven help you if you so happen to show any mercy or pity for a "wrongdoer."

It's important to note that despite being villains/villainous within the context of the story, Knights Templar believe fully that they are on the side of righteousness and draw strength from that, and that their opponents are not. Trying to reason with one isn't much good either, because many Knight Templar types believe that if you're not with them, you're against them. Invoking actual goodness and decency will have no effect, save for making Knights Templar demonize your cause as the work of the Devil. After all, they are certain that their own cause is just and noble, and anyone who stands in the way is a deluded fool at best and another guilty soul to be "cleansed" or evildoer to be killed at worst, and doing so is not even Dirty Business (except, sometimes, for how much it makes them suffer, having to hand out all this justice). Indeed, it may take them a while to realize that a person with sense and good will really oppose them; the righteousness of their cause — and their own selves — is self-evident to them. One of the few ways to actually change a Knight Templar's mind is to, frankly, kick their ass down to the ground. This is because most are convinced that Might Makes Right, and that since they are good they only kill the evil, so if you beat them but don't kill them, you are good too. They won't necessarily join you, but with a little luck their mild concussion will stop them fighting for long enough to listen to your side of the story - unless, of course, they conclude they're still inherently superior, and that you only beat them because you called upon the powers of darkness to cheat.

The Knight Templar is the ultimate incarnation of Light Is Not Good, and in series where Dark Is Not Evil, you can count on this guy being the villain who believes that the "dark" characters are evil and must be destroyed. If a Knight Templar is not the antagonist of the story, expect to see What the Hell, Hero? and/or Not So Different come into play at least once. If not, then they are a Designated Hero. If they are still nominally good, expect them to be a Hero Antagonist.

Note that not all Knight Templars are explicitly evil from the beginning. Many an Anti-Hero will start by Paying Evil Unto Evil, and when they're not busting ass, are perfectly decent people. They may even overlook small fallacies and be classed on the good guy roster. These guys are often concerned that they run the risk of falling into He Who Fights Monsters and become this trope. A Knight Templar is often portrayed as a Tragic Villain as well, with their self-righteous views brought on by traumatic events or having likeable qualities that makes the audience sympathize and relate to them. Of course, at worst they're too sadistic to feel any kind of sympathy for.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while Knight Templars will insist that they're good guys, even though they're practically villains, they often aren't completely ignorant to how questionable their actions are and the pain they cause. If the Knight Templar even fails to see any wrong in their actions, then you're dealing with a variant known as the Tautological Templar who is so convinced that they're doing the right thing that they can't even fathom the idea that anything they do might be questionable or hurting others. It can get to the point where their rebuttal to anyone that tries to call them out will basically amount to "My actions are good because I KNOW I am good and can't possibly be bad!"

Many Knight Templars can be found in the ranks of the Corrupt Church, the Church Militant, or the Path of Inspiration: expect them to be screaming that they are Holier Than Thou and we should all "Burn The Heretic!". Even a Saintly Church can have one of these as a foil for the Good Shepherds. If the deity behind one of these churches is one of these, on the other hand, you've got problems — count on an Easy Road to Hell due to them being so impossibly strict that few (if any) of the mortals under them can live up to their standards of morality.

A Knight Templar in a fantasy setting is usually a Principles Zealot, religious or otherwise. In a modern or Sci-Fi setting, the Knight Templar is just as likely to be a Totalitarian Utilitarian instead. In either case, she's likely to be a bigot who hardly qualifies as noble, but might be troubled by her own Black and White Insanity. Sometimes, the Knight Templar is an artificially intelligent computer that took its instructions to "protect humanity" a bit too far. Prone to the Breaking Speech and/or Motive Rant about how the heroes going up against them are evil and they themselves the good guys.

Very prone to It's All About Me, thus, expect their pride on being the only righteous ones to bring them down. Many Templars are Lawful Neutral or Lawful Evil, but the most egomaniacal and self-centered ones are Neutral Evil (though they'll never admit it), and the Animal Wrongs Group version is Chaotic Evil.

See also Knight Templar Parent, Knight Templar Big Brother, and Lawful Evil. Those who will really do anything for their beliefs count among The Unfettered. A mild, comedic version is the Lord Error-Prone. Blind devotion to All Crimes Are Equal without the religious zealotry falls under Lawful Stupid.

Contrast with Card-Carrying Villain — a villain who is fully aware of his evil nature and proudly embraces it. A Knight Templar can become this if he has a Heel Realization and decides to keep being a villain anyway. Alternatively, he might turn Necessarily Evil. Compare and contrast with the Knight in Sour Armor, who is what happens when a Lawful Good character chooses to err on the side of Good instead of erring towards Law.

Compare/contrast Knight Errant. Contrast Good Is Not Nice for when a character is genuinely on the side of good but may rub other characters or the audience the wrong way. Not related to Blood Knight.

Not to be confused with Trope Namer The Knights Templar, who varied between fitting and defying this trope and were founded with the intention of protecting pilgrims.

Example subpages:

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  • The leader of revolutionaries in Genesis' "The Knife", the overall message being that any revolution led by a Knight Templar will end in a dictatorship.
  • The title character of "Exciter" by Judas Priest, where he employs a purge by fire version of the trope.
    • The mechanical camera from "Electric Eye", who takes a righteous enjoyment out of imposing morality on the populace via a Big Brother-like watch.
    "I'm made of metal, my circuits gleam
    I am perpetual, I keep the country clean!"
  • Within Temptation's "The Truth Beneath the Rose" describes the point of view of a former Christian extremist seeing the error in his/her ways.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Jimmy Jacobs and most of the other Age Of The Fall members by extension. They had a message about the USA's healthcare system and come hell or Ring of Honor they were going to make you listen.

    Web Animation 
  • The main villains of Broken Saints, Lear and Gabriel, fall pretty firmly into this territory.

    Web Original 
  • In Void Domain, when it comes to anything they consider a possible enemy, the Elysium nuns tend to shoot holy lightning first and ask questions never. Taken Up to Eleven by Sister Cross, who thinks nothing of surprise-attacking a blind girl in her bedroom, then attacking a teacher who comes to her defense.

  • The Order of Mata Nui from BIONICLE is a secret organization, and as such, they do not need to show morals (as nobody would judge their actions) and have no problems doing unethical things, like imprisoning many without giving them a chance at parole and experimenting on and modifying a species to use as soldiers against the Brotherhood of Makuta (although the race as a whole doesn't have a problem with the changes and continues to aid their mysterious benefactors). To be fair to them, they're Mata Nui's immune system.

Alternative Title(s): Ass Holy