Knight Templar

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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 become too hardcore. In a deadly combination of Well-Intentioned Extremist, The Fundamentalist, Moral Guardians, and sometimes He Who Fights Monsters and/or Blind Obedience, they get blinded by themselves and their ideals and will do anything for them regardless of the effects on themselves or others. 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. Seldom are Knights Templar 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. They also tend to cross the Moral Event Horizon with alarming regularity to the point where it's a question of when they'll cross it, not if.

Usually, the Knight Templar's primary step (or objective) to their 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, sometimes down to down to being mean. The lightest offences, such as jaywalking, are met with Draconian punishments such as full imprisonment, death, brainwashing, or torture. In some cases, even thinking about it can get you in trouble, as can showing mercy or pity for a "wrongdoer" in front of them. Some are 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, often in an attempt to win the heroes over to their side.

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 that their opponents are not, and draw strength from that. Trying to reason with one seldom works, because many Knight Templar types believe that if you're not with them, you're against them. Invoking actual goodness and decency against them is often equally ineffective, save for making Knights Templar demonize your cause as evil. Indeed, it may take them a while to realize that a person with sense and good will really opposes them. One of the more effective ways to change a Knight Templar's mind is to, frankly, kick their ass down to the ground. This is because some think 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, defeating them will make them pause long enough to listen and they may rethink their course — unless, of course, they conclude they're still inherently superior, and that you only beat them because you used something evil/cheated.

The Knight Templar can be (but isn't always) the ultimate incarnation of Light Is Not Good. In series where Dark Is Not Evil, they tend to be 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 or sometimes they'll be a Hate Sink. If not, then they are a Designated Hero. If they are still nominally good, expect them to be a Hero Antagonist.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while Knights Templar will insist that they're good guys, even though they're practically villains, they often aren't completely ignorant of the pain they cause; they simply consider it to be acceptable collateral damage, or regret the means they "must" use to achieve their ends. And despite their ruthlessness, they have lines that they refuse to cross. If the Knight Templar 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, and furthermore, you oppose me because you're bad!"

Given the real-life trope namers (see below) were a religious organization, many Knights Templar can be found in the ranks of the Corrupt Church, the Church Militant, or the Path of Inspiration. In these cases, 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. Some stories go as far as to portray the deity/deities they worship as this.

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 also just as likely to be a Totalitarian Utilitarian. In either case, they're likely to be a bigot who hardly qualifies as noble, but might be troubled by their 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. Many Templars are Lawful Neutral or Lawful Evil (though they're Lawful Good in their own minds), 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. Blind devotion to All Crimes Are Equal without religious zealotry falls under Lawful Stupid.

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. Contrast with Card-Carrying Villain — a villain who is fully aware of their evil nature and proudly embraces it. A Knight Templar can become this if they have a Heel Realization and decide to keep being a villain anyway. Alternatively, they 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 or Black Knight.

Not to be confused with Trope Namer The Knights Templar, who varied between fitting and defying this trope and were founded with the noble intention of protecting pilgrims from harm. Due to the controversial nature of this trope, the nature of people, and the dangerous ramifications "ends justify the means" thinking can lead to (depending on the people and the cause being championed), No Real Life Examples, Please!.

Example subpages:


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    Music 
  • 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.
  • Hammerfall are the incarnation of this trope. If a song isn't about literal Templars, it's about Lawful Good heroes deeply believing in Honour Before Reason.
  • The song "Joan" by Heather Dale portrays Joan of Arc like this.
  • In Jethro Tull's Thick As A Brick, a Knight Templar-esque character is one of the many Establishment figures critiqued and mocked.
    "Your bread and water's going cold, your hair's too short and neat.
    I'll judge you all and make damn sure that no-one judges me!"

    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.

    Other 
  • 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 and were specifically created with the intention of doing the deeds the Toa could not without being regarded with fear and suspicion by the rest of the universe.
    • Amongst Toa, Tuyet ended up becoming one of these over time. She eventually got to thinking that Toa could do much more good if they were willing to make "acceptable" sacrifices at times... which led to her murdering several Matoran to keep a special Amulet of Concentrated Awesome of hers a secret. This led to both Lhikan and Nidhiki (back when he still had morals) teaming up to defeat her and led to her imprisonment by the aforementioned Order.
    "That's your problem, Lhikan, always following the rules. Always worrying about others. Did you ever think we could do more good if we stopped worrying so much about who might get hurt in the process?"

Alternative Title(s): Ass Holy

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