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Lawful Stupid
At least music piracy is down.

"The laws were made to help us govern ourselves... but it's been left to rule on its own. Somewhere along the line, it's been twisted into... scripture! And it's used as an excuse not to think."
Keith, TwoKinds

Also known as Lawful Anal, these people may call themselves Lawful Neutral, or Lawful Good but they lean toward such rigid adherence to the law that anybody who breaks any law, anywhere, for any reason, is the enemy. Even saying an unkind word to someone is an act of pure evil, and the Lawful Stupid can and will act as Judge, Jury, and Executioner. That is why they are called Lawful Stupid, not Lawful Neutral or Lawful Evil.

Woe be to the fellow party member who fails to live up to their obsessive-compulsive standards. If the thief so much as jaywalks, Mr. Lawful Stupid will insist on turning him in to the "proper authorities" (regardless of what alignment said authorities are), or even execute him on the spot. Then he'll berate the other members of his party for "condoning" the thief's behavior, and may turn on them as well. This makes this guy highly irritating as well as stupid for turning in his only allies. For newbie DMs, the best solution is usually a blunt force object applied to the head of the offending character -- if not the player.

In tabletop roleplaying games, it's such a common behavior for paladins that it seems this is what everyone expects paladins to do these days. In fact, it's so common that the Dungeons & Dragons Sourcebook Book of Exalted Deeds spends a good number of pages explaining how to be Lawful Neutral or Lawful Good without being a dimwit. The creators themselves got sick of it.

This trope is a Lawful character carrying the Idiot Ball because that is the Lawful thing to do. Remember, however, that Tropes Are Not Bad. When properly used, this trope can actually be used to add depth to a character rather than reduce them to a farce:
  • A Lawful Neutral character strongly supports an authority, a governing body or a personal set of principles and doesn't care much about good or evil — this makes them prone to both Blind Obedience and doing what they decide needs to be done.
  • A truly Lawful Good character, on the other hand, believes that a lawful, orderly society is necessary for the good of all, and that Honor Before Reason is a virtue, not a vice. They may see all crimes as equal because even breaking a minor law hurts the greater good in some way, and cannot go unpunished — one stolen loaf of bread may seem a petty offense, but if thousands are stolen across a city every day every baker will be ruined. And in the most extreme cases of a lawful good holding the idiot ball, where a Heroic Sacrifice turns out to be completely unnecessary and pointless, they would rather die in a futile gesture or acting upon incorrect information doing what they believed was right than live having done nothing.
  • Lawful Evil characters may seem unlikely to be vulnerable to this, but Even Evil Has Standards. Many a Noble Demon has met their downfall because I Gave My Word. Others may have no problem with harming "players in the game" but not innocents, which may leave them vulnerable to deception. Stranger still Corrupt Corporate Executives or Black Knights may do anything within the rules to further their ambitions, but the suggestion of even a minor actual violation of the law or their personal code is a Berserk Button.

When this behavior is caused by faith, Belief Makes You Stupid is present. Compare and contrast Chaotic Stupid, Stupid Good, Stupid Evil, and Stupid Neutral, which are the Moral/Ethical Alignment Stupid equivalent tropes for Chaos, Good, and Evil. The Fundamentalist and Knight Templar usually fall under this alignment, and may eventually develop into Tautological Templar. A government under The Caligula normally becomes Lawful Stupid, as history has shown. Worth noting, this is actually how Lawful Neutral was classically written, but it has since been redefined.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Post-Time Skip Rossiu from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann becomes a little bit too zealous in his task of upholding the newly created law, much to the very great annoyance of Chaotic Good Simon. For example, he believes the Grappal are far more advanced than the Gurren Lagann and keeps telling Simon that he must rely on his Red Shirt Army instead of fighting himself, even though, this being a Super Robot show, it's bleeding obvious that Simon's Gurren Lagann is the most powerful mecha in the world.
    • Rossiu has every reason to believe that the Grappals are stronger since he does not know about the hocus pocus spirit of fighting energy source. His failure to realize that Simon is a war-commander type of leader and his backstabbing of Simon for what he feels is the greater good is what makes him "Lawful Stupid."
      • Even then, he wasn't doing it without reason. He was seeing how radically quick the people were rising up. More specifically, they were rising up at Simon, since they saw him as the cause of their approaching doom, and actually had the ability to attack the government. Rossiu's actions were pretty stupid in hindsight, given the genre, but in his position it's actually understandable. Besides, he actually went against the law to throw Simon in jail, so that he could calm the populous enough to listen to his plan.
      • He didn't think even once of telling the people that the anti-spirals were going to attack once the population reached one million, Simon or not. That's something stupid no matter the genre.
    • Granted, it's less that he's stupid and more that he doesn't realise he's in a universe dominated by Rule of Cool.
    • From the same series, the Anti-Spirals are Lawful Evil Stupid: they insist on fighting their opponents on relatively equal terms to instill "Ultimate Despair" by always snatching victory from their opponents in the cheapest manner possible, despite the fact that their enemies continually achieve said victory with only the slightest chance of success. On the other hand, they aren't Genre Blind in the slightest and realise that in order to deny humanity its Rule of Cool powers they had to crush their burning spirit. After all, it worked for them countless times before, and they were just like us once...
  • Emily Sevensheep from Mahou Sensei Negima! is not open to discussion with unarmed wanted criminals. It takes both Negi stripping her of her weapons and her boss telepathically contacting her for her to agree to discuss... for a time.
  • Detective Lunge, the Inspector Javert from Monster has fallen under Lawful Stupid a few times when he continued to pursue Tenma despite the existence of Johann being right in front of him.
  • Bleach: When the Central 46 makes a ruling, no-one is allowed to oppose that ruling, not even captains. It's later revealed that this system of justice was either set up by, or helped to be set up by, Yamamoto, who enforces it with an unforgiving rigidity. When Ukitake and Kyouraku, his two favourite students, rebel, he is willing to kill them for their transgression. Only when it's revealed that everything was Aizen's manipulations does Yamamoto back down and focus on the real problem. After the time-skip, Yamamoto has been softened enough by Ichigo's beliefs that he's finally willing to break the law to save Ichigo to repay the debt the captains owe him. This softening took over a thousand years to achieve, Yamamoto was that rigid.
  • In Claymore, Priscilla was this in spades prior to her Awakening.
  • Parodied in Excel♥Saga, when the Daitenzin decide to perform as many acts of justice as possible, however insignificant, so they can take off their suits. They end up fighting litterers, extortioners, and other petty criminals with the full force of Sentai heroes.
  • One Piece: The World Government is ruled by a bunch of arrogant nobles who are not only perfectly willing to ignore a prison breakout that freed more than one hundred highly dangerous criminals back into the world, they are willing to cover it up as though it never happened. While focusing nearly the entirety of their forces into one single place to ensure the end of the bloodline of a decades dead pirate.
    • The reason for the cover up of the prison break out was that after already taking a hit to their reputation, they didn't want to announce that their formerly impenetrable prison just had a massive break out and cause a panic/queue more trouble. That said, one has to wonder how you talk your way out of formerly imprisoned criminals suddenly appearing in the world.
  • Suzaku Kururugi of Code Geass, who believes upholding the law is a better path towards change than revolution, even though said laws apply to a Darwinist government that would sooner keel over than give its so-called Numbers equal rights. Until his dark past and secret motive are revealed, and he more appropriately falls under Lawful Neutral.
    • During a hostage situation, Suzaku actually protests against hacking open a locked door to save someone because "it's against the rules."
    • He does have one reasonable point, though... The ease with which Britannia conquers Japan and the many years of failure that the Japanese resistance undergo leaves Suzaku beyond believing that it's possible. The fairly easily accomplished defeat of the European superpower, and China's submission, strongly suggest that he's right. Once Lelouch accidentally destroys one of the best perceivable hopes for happiness of the Japanese, though still a little slim, Suzaku becomes beyond believing that anything Lelouch does is good. Suzaku finally comes around after accidentally nuking Tokyo though.
  • The X-LAWS from Shaman King are all this. A group that vows to wipe out Hao and his allies. Okay, the only problem is that if you are not on their side your automatically considered an enemy. They refuse to work with others outside their group and tend to look down on anyone not in their team (mostly Marco carries this attitude). X-LAWS says they do this to rid evil from the world and stop the killing. It is not as bad in the manga, but in the anime they take it to the extreme. Way to go ruining your chances helping other people stop the Big Bad.
  • Emiri Kimidori from Haruhi Suzumiya.
  • The 3rd-year Pandoras in Freezing after Satellizer unleashes a brutal Curb-Stomp Battle on one of their peers. They try to justify their persecution of her in that the Pandoras are humanity's best line of defense against the monstrous, alien Novas, and that in battle, unit cohesion and the chain of command have to be maintained. What makes this truly stupid, though, is that none of them seem to care that the 3rd-year that Satellizer beat up had forcefully disrobed her and taken pictures of it, and was ready to have her male assistants rape Satellizer.
  • Played for Laughs in Ratman. The main character is tricked into signing a contract to act as an evil organization's super-villain, and never thinks that since the signature was made under false pretenses, its invalid. Plus just ignoring it even if it were legal. Thankfully, Jackal isn't really all that evil, so its not so bad.
  • Early on in Slayers, Amelia's obsession with being a "Hero of Justice" could lead to this. Highlights include turning against Lina and Gourry when she learns that there is a (fake) bounty on their heads and an Imagine Spot in which she blasts someone with the Dragon Slave for picking up a lost quarter. She does relax her standards eventually, though.
  • Haruka from the Mai-HiME manga, who is on a quest to expel the Orphan Resistance Unit from the school. Interestingly enough, though, she resorts to kidnapping, attempted theft of Elements and recruiting known troublemakers like Nao to advance her agenda.
  • In an episode of Yu Gi Oh ZEXAL, Takashi is appointed leader of the School Disciplinary Squad by the Student Council President, and takes this job way too far. When the Yuma is challenged to a duel by the President, Takashi forbids Yuma from using Gagaga Girl because her outfit violates the school dress code. (Never mind that a ruling like this would be considered outright cheating in the actual card game.) In Takashi's defense, when he realizes that the President is a Brainwashed and Crazy minion of the Barians who has been using him, he quickly resigns his position, and Yuma is able to use any cards he wants from that point.

    Comics 
  • The Guardians of the Universe in Green Lantern. Especially evident in the build-up to Blackest Night.
    • Before they had their rigid programming undone in Brightest Day, the Alpha Lanterns as well. One went so far as to attack a Red Lantern that had been released from its cell by other Green Lanterns in order to hold off a Zombie Apocalypse. The Alpha gets destroyed by Black Lanterns soon afterwards.
    • Ganthet is the only Guardian who seems to realize their lawful stupid actions hurt them. Hence why he's the man. This is lampshaded in the latest cartoon series where he's one of the only Guardians who wants to own up to the accidental Manhunter massacre in the 'Forgotten Zone'...only for the council to banish him for proposing it.
    • The other Guardians eventually tire of Ganthet disagreeing with them and wipe out his emotions to make him as Lawful Stupid as them.
    • This is, unfortunately, a modern Flanderization of the Guardians, who originally were much less representative of this trope.
  • In a Green Arrow story arc, a man who felt the justice system had failed summons a group of Literal Genie demons to enforce the law of his city. They twist their commands around so the slightest infraction allows them to slaughter with impunity.
    • Which leads to a Crowning Moment of Funny as Green Arrow, who is still Mayor of Star City, leads a group of people to confront the demons. They follow all of the traffic lights, stay on the sidewalk and make sure to avoid breaking any number of inane laws a city tends to accrue.
  • Despite himself being a criminal, The Punisher is sometimes depicted as willing to kill anyone who breaks any law for any reason, even if the "criminal" is non-violent, begging for mercy, and just helped the Punisher. In one instance, he discovered that someone who had been his ally throughout the issue was a retired thief, and, as a sign of gratitude for his help, gave him a head start. This is Depending on the Writer, as older writers often showed him willing to let a criminal go if they gave him a reason.
    • While Punisher's lawful stupidity varies by the author, Solo whose motto is "while I live, terror dies" was woven whole from lawful moron cloth. He's shown in a solo story to shoot down a murderer, then turns around and gives the would-be victim he has just rescued his twisted reasoning why his previous actions have actually prompted the murder attempt to occur, then kills the guy himself for "creating terror". Marvel execs probably wonder to this day why he never caught on.
    • In one story, the Punisher was drugged in a way that enhanced his Lawful Stupid tendencies. Which led to him murdering people for littering.
  • Spider-Man has an enemy named Cardiac, a high-tech Knight Templar who exists simply to punish people who escape justice because of this Trope.
  • The Spectre falls under this trope from time to time, mostly because he is vengeance personified and thus prone to being tricked. Given his power, this is a very bad thing. This is why he is usually bound to a human host; both to limit his power and to give him some much needed perspective.
  • Sam from Sam & Max: Freelance Police is this, for laughs. He genuinely loves justice, but his ways of achieving justice are batshit insane and mostly an excuse to charge around, shooting at things.
  • From the Warhammer 40,000 comic Titan:
    "Authority must be respected! Orders are sacrosanct! Hekate disobeyed! Better that-"
    "B-better that this depot and every life in it had fallen than I had disobeyed your order?"
    "As the Emperor is my judge...yes."
  • Despite being a satire of zero-tolerance policy, it can be argued that the whole premise of Judge Dredd runs on this.
    • While certainly initially the character was this, with incidents such as victims often being arrested for minor acts committed while being the victims of greater crimes, as time progressed Dredd grew more of a conscience and has been known to bend, oppose and, on occasion, flout the law if the situation appeared to warrant it. The recent overturning of Mega-City One's mutant laws are a good example of this.
  • Jim Gordon from Batman often falls into this. Case in point, in the latest issue of Batgirl he tries to arrest his own daughter, Batgirl, when she had to toss a batarang at her own brother, Jim Gordon Jr. who was threatening their mother with a knife. Any idiot would see it was a self-defense situation and trying to save a hostage. Not Jim.
  • You might even accuse Batman himself of acting this way in Joker: Devil's Advocate. Batman actually tries to defend the Joker when it seems that he may actually finally face execution, on the grounds that Batman believes he's innocent of the crime he's currently being accused of. He is innocent of this crime, but come on. The Joker had murdered Jason Todd, crippled Barbara Gordon, and has committed hundreds of other murders that he remains completely unrepentant for. If Batman wonders why the Joker Immunity Trope got its name, maybe he should start blaming himself.
    • Batman did get the last laugh on the Joker at the end of the story. The villain was more mortified and humiliated than he had ever been when Batman told him that his investigation was what had saved his life.
    • Although under most writers, Joker would be more likely to taunt Batman about that fact rather than the other way around.
    • In Batman's defense, letting the Joker fry for a murder he didn't commit also frees the actual murderer to go on murdering.
  • General Ross is probably the embodiment of this Trope. His lifelong goal - some would say obsession - to bring the Hulk to justice has likely caused more property damage and casualties than he ever could have prevented had he succeeded, and likely cost the U.S. Army a fortune, all without any success. The Hulk is one of the strongest humanoid beings in the Marvel Universe, capable of hefting a battleship over his head, and making him angry just makes him stronger (as Ross clearly knows after all this time), so you'd think that when he shouts "LEAVE HULK ALONE!!" Ross would get the hint.
    • This is taken to the most extreme conclusion when he becomes the Red Hulk in order to pursue his goal, becoming, in many ways, even worse than his quarry. (Word of God described the Red Hulk as "The kind of Hulk we haven't seen before � a thinking, calculating, brutal weapon-toting kind of Hulk." Not that this is a good thing. Ross was more than capable of murder initially, destroyed the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier and nearly wrecked San Francisco, proving that, despite being able to think, he was just as destructive.
  • The Illuminati gravitates into this territory a lot of times, particularly with their egregious handling of the Hulk on several occasions. They were also ready to pronounce a death sentence on the Scarlet Witch because of her increasing insanity and as Children's Crusade ended up revealing that they'd been completely oblivious to the fact that her insanity had been orchestrated and manipulated by a supervillain. When Wiccan of the Young Avengers starts displaying even the slightest bit of lack of control over his powers, they come to the immediate conclusion that he's just as unstable as the Scarlet Witch for no other reason than being the Scarlet Witch's son.
  • S.H.I.E.L.D. was living breathing this trope during the Marvel Civil War. Anyone who opposed the Superhero Registration Act was seen as the enemy and when caught were sentenced to a concentration camp in another dimension. They even hired supervillains to hunt down the rebel superheroes.
    • That's mostly due to the fact that Maria Hill, who is the absolute epitome of Lawful Stupid, was running SHIELD during that arc. In fact it was the entire reason she was chosen to replace Nick Fury. The government knew she was completely incapable of questioning or disobeying orders. Unfortunately this trope was also Maria's undoing when she allowed Norman Osborn full rein.
      • Trope happily averted in the "Agents of SHIELD" live TV series where Maria helps Coulson attack the US army (who she was co-operating with for immunity form SHIELD's terrorist label so that she could work privately for stark) so that he can escape and continue to pursue Hydra.
    • Not the first time SHIELD had done something idiotic like this. In the She-Hulk graphic novel, they used their authority to kidnap She-Hulk in order to subject her to experiments to make sure she wasn't as dangerous as the Hulk. (Nick Fury objected, but he wasn't in charge at that point.) End result? An incompetent officer took control of the project, a mutant swarm of cockroaches hijacked control of the Helicarrier (this was the original one) the Helicarrier was destroyed, and they barely avoided a nuclear disaster due to the crash causing its reactor to become unstable. (She-Hulk would have left them to their fates, but there was a town with innocent civilians that would have been destroyed too, so they were able to convince her to fix the problem. Still, they didn't learn...)
    • Oh, yeah, they didn't learn. Another example of SHIELD stupidity happened slightly after The Clone Saga in the Spider-Man one-shot Spider-Man: Dead Man's Hand, when they confiscated the Jackal's body and experimented on it. This led to an unscrupulous coroner who they clearly shouldn't have given the job to finding out the secrets of the Carrion Virus and turning himself into the third - and to date, deadliest - version of Carrion, who tried to unleash a biochemical weapon on New York to create a Zombie Apocalypse. (Sort of; the victims weren't truly zombies.) Spider-Man told Dum Dum Dugan to his face that "This would never be happening if Nick Fury were alive!" which clearly didn't help matters. Ironically, Fury was alive, but had faked his death, and Dugan knew that, but he couldn't exactly tell Spidey that.
  • The entire Marvel Family was like this. In Marvel Family #46 this gets taken to a ridiculous extreme by Mary Marvel. When she and an explorer are on an island of robots, they find out a law by the long-vanished civilization says that any humans there must be executed. Mary says she has to submit, as she 'never breaks a law, even the ancient law of a vanished civilization'. It is especially ridiculous considering Mary Marvel told the robots about the law when translating a document.
  • The Legion of Super Heroes could fall into this in their early years. In one instance Supergirl was not accepted into the Legion despite passing her test with flying colours because she had been temporarily aged to an adult after accidental exposure to Red Kryptonite, and thus was barred from membership due to being over 18. Aside from the fact the aging was temporary, the Legionnaires knew she was really only 15 years old but still disqualified her.

    Fan Works 
  • Nightwing in Consequence of Misunderstandings. He knocks out and arrests Jinx for "vandalism, being an accomplice to grand larceny, and murder". This despite the fact that Jinx just saved him from a suped-up Overload (which is where the vandalism and murder charges come from), and knowing that she's at least dating a being that the Justice League warned him not to antagonize, and that said being flat out told the Titans that if they get in her way she "would have no compunctions against stringing your broken bodies along this tower for all the world to see and letting the birds feast on your flesh until your eventually collective demise".
  • Harry views the teachers as this in Harry Potter and the Three Rules. After he saves Hermione from the troll by stabbing it to death, the teachers are more concerned that Harry carries several knives than the fact that a student was almost killed. When Harry angrily points out that a student was almost killed, McGonagall even insists "that's not the point".
    • Taken further when Harry explains exactly why he didn't follow any of McGonagall's suggested alternatives: tell a prefect (he tried but Percy cut him off), tell a teacher (couldn't find one), or take down the troll non-lethally (not only does he not know any spell that would let him and it was actively trying to kill them). McGonagall still insists he was in the wrong and that his punishment stands.
    • Almost every student views them as this as well after it's discovered that Harry lost 50 points and earned two months of detentions (with the threat of expulsion should they discover any more knives) for saving a student's life.
  • Dr. Fate wants to send Xander to Hell in A Spark of Genius because he has "twisted the balance of [the] dimension" and changed the fates of millions, uncaring that by his own admission that most of those millions were fated to die horribly.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Colonel "Bat" Guano of Dr. Strangelove tries to stop Group Captain Mandrake from robbing a vending machine to get money for a pay phone. Given that Mandrake is trying to call Washington with the recall codes to stop the impending nuclear holocaust, Guano's attitude isn't really the most sensible. He does give in, but with the stern warning that Mandrake "will have to answer to the Coca-Cola Company." He also doesn't believe Capt. Mandrake's story. Not that it completely excuses him, but it does offer some mitigation. Mandrake had also been trying to defend himself by repeatedly dropping the names of all the people (eg. the President) that Guano would have to answer to if Guano kept impeding him — it's possible it isn't an example at all, but that Guano is a Deadpan Snarker.
  • Sgt. Nick Angel in Hot Fuzz has a major case of this at one point in the film, when he confronts the NWA at their secret meeting, entirely alone and unarmed, knowing that they already murdered another cop who knew their secret, and simply shows his badge and declares that they're all under arrest.
  • The bus driver in Quick Change. An exasperated Grimm (Bill Murray) finally tells him, "You better lighten up. You're becoming Ralph Kramden's Evil Twin."
  • RoboCop is subjected to this in the second movie, in a deliberate bid by the evil corporation to make him so useless that they can justify scrapping him. They decide to make him a more positive social role model by giving him over three hundred new Directives that he's forced to obey, including "Pool opinions before expressing yourself," "Discourage feelings of negativity and hostility," and "Don't run through puddles and splash other pedestrians." Robocop realizes that this is impairing his ability to uphold the core three Directives and enforce the law to his best capacity and purposely shocks himself to short out the Lawful Stupid programming, something the bad guys didn't expect.
  • In Erik the Viking, the title-character lands on the mystical island of Hybrasil, where even a single drop of spilled blood will cause the entire island to sink. This results in their being completely nice and non-critical to each other in any way, in order to avoid any chance of an argument which could escalate into any accident. This is taken even to the point that their music is nothing but loud, chaotic noise and clanging-sounds, since no one will dare find any fault with it. Then, even when a drop of blood is finally spilled and the island begins to sink, no one will believe a word of it, but simply denies that it's happening, and they all go down with the island.
  • The Gamers: Dorkness Rising lampshades this with the Paladin refusing to let the party torture information out of an evil captive because his alignment disallows him — making it a highly debatable example depending on your view of Cold-Blooded Torture.
    Joanna: Can't he just go outside?
    Lodge: Paladins can't let evil acts happen if they know about them. It's his alignment.
    Gary: Yeah, they're Lawful Stupid.
  • In the Affectionate Parody film version of Dragnet, Friday is a borderline case, but he gets better.
  • The Jedi in the (prequel) Star Wars films.
    • An interesting inversion of the above, Anakin demands Palpatine stand trial, even though his "crimes" make him as Windu says, "too dangerous to stay alive." It's not an inversion of the trope, but an inversion of the idea that Jedi use this: Anakin is already converted at this point to Sith thinking, but applies a Jedi principle to further his own goals. Furthermore, it's Mace Windu that bends this conception that Jedi are Lawful Stupid.
  • Clu in TRON: Legacy. He's given the unfortunately-worded directive to "create the perfect system", which, being a computer program, he takes literally, destroying everything in The Grid that isn't perfect, and then planning to go into the outer world (the "real" world) to continue doing.
  • The Jerk: "You're not carnival personnel...! HEY! HE'S NOT CARNIVAL PERSONNEL!"
  • Batman in The Dark Knight crashes his Batpod to avoid running over the Joker who is busy unloading a machine-gun into random motorists. Batman avoids breaking his no-kill rule but the Joker lives to kill another day. To be fair, if Batman HAD killed the Joker, it would've proven the Joker right. It was a lose-lose situation.
  • The title Inspector in Inspector Gadget 2. At the beginning of the movie, crime is so far down in the city he's busting old ladies for going marginally over the speed limit.
  • Zeus from the 2011 Immortals. Even though Hyperion is going around slaughtering innocent villages and destroying temples, Zeus still forbids the Greek Gods from interfering on pain of death and kills Ares for pulling a Big Damn Heroes to save Theseus. He finally does get personally involved, but only because Hyperion had already unleashed the Titans and the Greek Gods get slaughtered/critically wounded in the ensuing melee.
  • Society as a whole (or at least the prettified version above ground) has been deliberately transformed into a utopia of Lawful Stupidity in Demolition Man. (In fact, this is one of the few movies staring Sylvester Stallone where his character is the Only Sane Man.)
  • Die Hard: With the exception of Sgt. Al Powell, every LAPD officer, as well as FBI special agents Johnson and Johnson (no relation), is unhelpful to John McClane in his efforts to stop Hans Gruber, who takes complete advantage of their stupidity.
  • The villain of obscure fantasy film The Barbarians is a rare example of Lawful Evil Stupid, he spares the twin protagonists lives and embarks on an elaborate decade-long plan that eventually ends in attempting to get them to kill each other in a gladiatorial arena. All this because he promised their mother that "They will not die by my hand or the hand of any of my men", in exchange for her joining his harem.
  • Averted in the recent reboot Dredd. The title character is ruthless and pragmatic, but ultimately a Reasonable Authority Figure.
  • General Morton from Zombi 3 D is a prime example of what would happen if one of these was an Army general. When the dead infector is discovered in the Sweet River Resort, he has all the survivors killed and buried in a mass grave just to be on the safe side (in all fairness, a bellhop is shown to have been infected), and then he burns the infector's body... which causes an epidemic when a nearby flock of birds gets killed by the smoke and ash. When said epidemic is brought to his attention, he orders a massacre of the whole epidemic area–again, because he doesn't want to chance an infected person escaping to eventually contaminate the rest of the world.

    Literature 
  • Many of Piers Anthony's heroes are Lawful Stupid. Doing the "honorable" thing is more important to them than stopping the villain. If they were tricked into giving their word of honor on something then they will keep their word, even if it means allowing the villain to commit evil acts.
    • This was subverted in the Mode series, when the villain made a deal where he would let the heroes go free, if they agreed not to stop him. When the leader of the heroes accepted, he blindly believed the hero, because he knew that honor meant everything to him. Honor meant absolutely nothing to the main character and her super-intelligent psionic horse, who went along with the plan, and then betrayed the villain the moment they were out of his realm. In the next book, she delivered a wonderful verbal smackdown to the hero about it, pointing out the selfishness of allowing an insane despot to conquer the universe just to preserve his personal honor.
      Colette: You think it's better to let billions of people be enslaved and maybe die than to break your word, when you only gave it to save me? I'm not worth it! Your word isn't worth it. You have no right to impose your foible on the rest of everything.
    • In the Author's Note to one of his books, Anthony defends his characters' Lawful Stupidity as being the right thing to do. In fact, the specific example he was defending was Grey Murphy's willingness to become the evil Com Pewter's servant (if he hadn't found a loophole in his contract), which was a particularly egregious Warped Aesop since it wasn't even Grey who made the promise. It was his parents. Then it turns out that Grey's ultimate resolution to the problem is to reprogram Com Pewter against his will. Failing to honor promises you didn't make is wrong, but brainwashing is fine? Er, okay...
    • This makes a lot more sense when you read enough of Anthony's work to discover that he considers it normal for men to constantly struggle against the urge to rape women. Strict rules are good for keeping dangerous thoughts in line.
  • Stannis Baratheon from A Song of Ice and Fire plays hard-ball with this trope. He's blunt and honest to a fault, he's stubborn, if he can compromise, it'll be done so reluctantly, you can practically hear him creak over that quarter-inch he might be able to budge on... but, he's often got a point, turns out to be correct in some way and isn't stupid or blind. He wages a war of succession, tearing the kingdom apart to be king, even though he doesn't want to be king. He's the rightful heir, so there no question in his mind: by law, it has to be done. However, he has a very good grasp of people's intentions and capabilities, which generally serves to make him despise most of the people he associates with, because they're not as duty-bound, honest or upfront as he is. Which in turn, makes most of them just write him off as totally stupid in highly predictable ways. Which can undo them, too, if they buy into the trope too much — and he often plays to that. By the fifth book, he's still insisting on fighting the War of the Five Kings long after everyone else has stopped caring about it, yet is also one of the very few to have noticed what is going on beyond the Wall. Fighting the Others is also his duty, as he sees it.
  • In Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, Rand al'Thor — and every other male good guy — has a completely pointless code of honour about not harming a woman, no matter how evil. Which is nonsensical, since every single chapter of the series shows that the women of that world neither need nor deserve protection. This even extends to when a woman is trying to kill him....
    • This is taken to such extreme that he lets his mentor and only true Aes Sedai ally GET KILLED because he refuses to kill his past self's psychotic former girlfriend (don't ask) when she becomes homicidal. Despite the fact that she is also threatening the woman he loves. As of the latest books, he has finally gotten over his along with the rest of his psychological issues.
    • Another example from the same series is Galad Damodred, a character described by his half-sister as a man who "does what is right, no matter who is hurt by it, even himself."
      • That said, it's amazing what he can justify to himself when it comes right down to it...
      Galad: If you intend to be at Tarmon Gai'don, then you will have to fight alongside Aes Sedai.
      * 1000 years old schism in the Forces of Good is resolved instantly*
  • Averted by the main character in Elizabeth Moon's The Deed of Paksenarrion, which was written explicitly as a guide to being a Paladin without being Lawful Stupid, because the author was tired of constantly running into Lawful Stupid paladins at conventions.
  • Eve Forward's Villains by Necessity has the Balance Between Good and Evil central to its plot — if it's not maintained, the world will be sublimated into either a big light blur or a big dark blur with a possible domino effect for other worlds — but supports this mostly by populating the side of Good with Lawful Stupid Knights Templar, with some Stupid Good lackeys for variety. This has the unfortunate effect of undermining the premise, since the "good" antagonists really aren't particularly good people, and the "evil" protagonists mostly aren't particularly evil either. Notably, one such Stupid Good lackey, the centaur bard Robin, eventually clues in and performs a Heel-Face Turn to side with the "evil" protagonists, and the Black Knight called Blackmail turns out to be a legendary paladin who has sided with the protagonists for the sake of saving the world and in disgust at his former True Companions' Lawful Stupid behavior.
  • In some of the spinoff-Halo books, there is a small faction of The Covenant called The Governors of Contrition. While the normal Covenant place a large emphasis on the works of the Forerunners being holy, the Governors of Contrition take it to a huge extreme. They even consider The Flood (a plague that turns people into space-zombies) to be worth embracing because it was created by the forerunners (which it wasn't infact it's the other way round: The Flood in the form of the Precursers created the Forerunners). Even the normally ridiculously dogmatic Covenant realize this is madness.
  • Percy Weasley in Harry Potter, especially in the fifth and sixth books, when he chose to betray his family to side with the Ministry of Magic. By extension, the Ministry themselves fall into this when they tried to cover up Voldemort's return to save face, and spread the propaganda that Harry and Dumbledore are attention-seeking liars.
    • Hermione also does this at times, particularly in the early books; for the most part she grew out of it by book 5 at the latest.
    • Also, Argus Filch. He only hates people that break the rules in Hogwarts - which, given his hidebound and unbending view of school rules (and his tendency to tack anything he can think of onto the list of Forbidden Items), is every single student at Hogwarts. This is exemplified in Book 7, when he seemed more concerned about students breaking the curfews than the fact that the school is under Death Eater attack.
  • In one of C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower novels, Hornblower can save his ship only by lying to a French officer that Napoleon has recently died. To make the enemy believe him, Hornblower has to support the lie by taking an oath on his honor as an officer. He plans to resign his commission in disgrace at the next port, because he has permanently dishonored himself. Fortunately for him, he finds out, by Jove, Napoleon really IS dead, so the lie was the truth all along. In Forester's defense, he conveys the standards of that culture so vividly that the reader can believe in Hornblower's scruples.
  • Victor Hugo's Les Misérables has Inspector Javert, who is Lawful Stupid in that he holds the law so far above any common sense and morality that he chose to commit suicide instead of acknowledging that the hero, despite being a fugitive, was a good guy.
    • There are many ways to interpret Javert's suicide, including the exact opposite of the above. Javert holds such a rigid view of right and wrong, and has such a deeply ingrained repugnance for everything he sees as "wrong", that his suicide could be seen as the ultimate acknowledgment of Jean Valjean's virtue. The problem is, if Valjean is in the right, then that means that the dogged, obsessive pursuit of him by Javert was and has always been wrong. I.E. Javert kills himself because he cannot accept that he IS the thing he has spent his entire life fighting — or because he has accepted this, and becomes his own righetous executioner.
  • Cao Cao in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Three Kingdoms period? Arguably; either he is Lawful Stupid, a real master of PR, or simply awesome. In one instance, his troops are marching through wheat fields when Cao orders the men not trample the wheat, or they will be beheaded. Doing so, he wins the peasants' affections, since the peasants would like to eventually eat. Unfortunately, Cao's horse bolts and tramples some of the wheat in a panic. The law technically doesn't apply to Cao Cao. Accounts vary, but in one version Cao either goes to take his own life or orders himself executed. His men intervene and stop him, and Cao Cao instead cuts his hair in disgrace and shows it to the army. Either Cao Cao proved uncharacteristically Lawful Stupid at that moment, or he knew his men would spare him. Regardless, knowing their boss was quite willing to suffer such harsh discipline himself raised his men's moral and discipline greatly. Lawful Stupid or brilliant: could go either way.
  • In the Codex Alera novels, the Canim are bound by a strict set of laws, known as the "codes" that they must follow. The Canim, being savvy as to just how much those with less integrity would be willing to abuse the law, established a specialist caste known as "hunters" - spies and assassins whose purpose is to allow their lords to follow the spirit of the codes when someone else abuses the letter of the codes - allowing them to avoid falling victim to being Lawful Stupid.
  • Subverted in The Dresden Files novels. The Knights of the Cross are modern-day Paladins. They are God's chosen warriors and each have a holy sword. When doing God's work, they are invincible. One of the Knights, Michael Carpenter, has a strict code of ethics and honor. The subversion is he balances this with true compassion and pragmatism. He is the best example of Lawful Good which never veers into Lawful Stupid territory.
    • And Harry himself is the master of Loophole Abuse which is a key survival trait when dealing with the Fae (though by their standards he's merely a somewhat-talented amateur).
  • An Eberron novel averts this: The main character is a paladin, who is traveling with a prostitute. While she never stops belittling his beliefs, he keeps giving her calm and rational arguments as to why selling her body may be a bad idea in the long run. At the end of the book, the paladin and his Warforged companion confront the employer who double-crossed them. The employer is unarmed, with no guards around, and happily turns his back on them, since he knows no paladin would ever kill a defenseless man in cold blood. The pair leave. As they exit the compound...
    Guard: Hey, didn't you have a big axe with you when you came in?
    Warforged: I left it with your boss.
    • More of a subversion, which Eberron loves doing. The Paladin may not have done anything, but he did not stop his companion, either. Lawful Good in Eberron is a lot less of a hard and fast as a rule than most D&D games and the campaign almost explicitly states that not being capable of ruthless pragmatism will get you killed in that world.
      • Eberron is a deliberate deconstruction of the whole D&D alignment trope. The employer in this example was Too Dumb to Live if he expected a paladin to act in any particular way based simply on his class.
  • Hollyleaf of Warrior Cats was turning into this before her death, or disappearance, according to some.
  • Eragon for the Inheritance Cycle could fall under this for his treatment of Sloan. The butcher betrays his village to some minions in hopes of freedom for himself and his daughter, only to be betrayed and subsequently held hostage and tortured for several months. After Eragon "rescues" him, he decides to punish the man further by preventing him from ever seeing his daughter again. Ignoring that she is all he lives for and gave up everything. It is a Fate Worse than Death.
    • Except for the part where if Sloan acknowledges his errors (which he stubbornly refused to see) and changes for the better, his sight will be restored and he will be able to return to his daughter.
  • Aversion: The Ankh-Morpork City Watch. There's even an image macro lying around on the Internet somewhere of one of Paul Kidby's illustrations of Sam Vimes, with the caption "This is how you play Lawful Good you bastards".
    • However Carrot is like this in Guards! Guards!. He arrests people for disobeying laws which haven't been enforced in centuries and tries to arrest the Patrician. He gets better though.
      • When normally Sergeant Colon is made Captain he goes through a bout of the same, although just clamping things (including buildings), rather than actually arresting. Colon is not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
  • In Death series: An FBI agent named Jacoby comes off as this in Betrayal In Death. Commander Whitney even warns Eve to be careful, because this guy could try to hang her up on a technicality.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Prosecutor Jack Emery certainly came off as this early on, but he dropped it by the book The Jury. Reporter Ted Robinson managed to hit a higher level of this than Jack did, and he didn't drop it until either the book Collateral Damage or Final Justice. FBI Agent Erin Powell AKA Honey Sweet was certainly this in Collateral Damage.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Double Star mentioned the case of a Martian who was supposed to be attending an honors ceremony of some sort but showed up late through no fault of his own. Because the Martian culture highly valued "propriety," which included punctuality, he was sentenced to death. Some of the Martian higher-ups argued that because of his youth and the fact that it wasn't his fault, he should be given a second chance at the ceremony, but this chucklehead argued that he deserved the usual punishment and, because of this, was widely regarded as a "hero" by other Martians. This is what happens when this trope is applied to Orange And Blue Morality.
  • Everyone in the city of Tonzimmiel is some mix of Lawful Stupid and Lawful Neutral in The Quest of the Unaligned. For example, the entire plot is touched off when ninth-level security chief Alaric loses a bar bet and is required by the terms of his bet to go on the titular Quest Of The Unaligned, losing his job in the process. Justified in that Tonzimmiel was explicitly built as a society ruled entirely by laws, rankings, and contracts.
  • The Clave in the Mortal Instruments series, to the point where their leadership is basically a Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering. Actual Lawful Good Shadowhunters frequently find themselves in To Be Lawful or Good situations simply because the Clave is hopelessly bogged down trying to figure out the most lawful way of dealing with just about anything.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Ancients, infamous Neglectful Precursors from Stargate SG-1, would rather let the galaxy be conquered by Scary Dogmatic Aliens (who would then promptly turn on them) or have all life eradicated by replicating killer robots, than violate their Obstructive Code of Conduct of non-intervention. They are also very fond of their Disproportionate Retribution, such as wiping out a planet full of people because their leaders were using a weapon a renegade Ancient gave them for conquest or letting Anubis keep his Ascended knowledge and use it to terrorize the galaxy as some kind of twisted punishment for Oma Desala, who he deceived into helping him ascend.
  • Kathryn Janeway of Star Trek: Voyager has occasionally been Lawful Stupid. Several times she has refused to take an opportunity to get the ship home because it would require going against the "values" of the Federation. This isn't always a bad thing, mind — the Federation was envisioned as a near-idealistic society, so it would have some values worth keeping to — but it grated on some viewers after a while. And if she had, the show would have been over. Was lampshaded in an episode, where a holographic simulation shows the Maquis taking over Voyager, because of their frustration over Janeway's Lawful Stupid tendencies. In "Madame Captain's" defense, though, the Prime Directive seemed to require Lawful Stupidity of Starfleet officers.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation was not immune to Lawful Stupidity. For example, Picard and Worf regard violating the Prime Directive (or using subterfuge to intervene without violating it) worse than letting a species go extinct when their planet is about to blow up. See "Homeward", the episode involving Worf's human adoptive brother.
      • In that episode, the crew screws up and one of the aliens discovers he is being misled (Worf's brother beamed his people to the holodeck so that they wouldn't know they were being moved from one planet to another during the transition). His world shattered, he commits suicide rather than face the horrifying decision of abandoning his people forever or living among them but never revealing the truth. YMMV as to whether potentially destroying a culture is preferable to letting the people go extinct.
      • Also the episode "Pen Pals", where only at Data's strong insistence do they decide to trouble themselves to help from another planet about to explode.
      • In the first season episode "Justice," the Enterprise visits a planet of Lawful Stupids. They're as friendly as can be, but Wesley gets sentenced to death for stepping on some flowers.
      • If you think about it, the whole point of the Prime Directive is recognizing that interfering can do more harm than good. But if a culture is already at the worst case scenario (extinction), it's hard to see how the Federation can make it worse.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise manages to one-up the above examples in "Dear Doctor", as they doom a whole sapient species to death by genetic defect, despite having already developed the cure (they just decide not to distribute it). They do this because Archer envisions that there will be some directive against it in the future. In other words, he is stupidly enforcing a law that DOES NOT EXIST YET.
  • Peter Petrelli ("Adam is my friend. I can't let you hurt him.") of Heroes.
  • Earl from My Name Is Earl can fall into this with regards to his list. One memorable example was when he learned that his winning lottery ticket from the first episode that funds his list would have been bought by someone else. He promptly gives the other man all of his and Randy's savings, leaving them destitute. Then he promises to give the man even more until they're even, even though the man and Randy both think he's given enough. When he sells his car for cash to survive on, he even wants to give the man that money! The man has to reveal that he doesn't deserve the money and insist that karma wants Earl to have it before the status quo is restored.
  • In Doctor Who, the Doctor can seem to veer wildly between Lawful Stupid and Stupid Good on occasion, particularly in the new series; he can ruthlessly dispatch and / or punish relatively minor foes or those who break his rules based on a belief in "no second chances" (such as leaving Adam stuck with a piece of futuristic technology in his head for attempting to profit from futuristic technology, or denying Britain a 'golden age' by manipulating the ousting of Harriet Jones from office after she ordered the destruction of a fleet of defeated alien invaders, something which went against the Doctor's efforts), whilst at the same time demonstrating an at-times almost boggling level of compassion and attempts at mercy towards foes whose sins have been much, much worse (such as attempting to forgive and / or rescue both The Master and Davros, each genocidal maniacs with raging God complexes and an overall body-count well into the billions by this point). It's worth noting that those in the second group tend to be long-time recurring foes with Joker Immunity.
    • Also, he wouldn't have left Adam or Harriet to die, either. And in the case of the Master, he can't bring himself to see the Second-Last of His Kind self-destruct, while in the case of Davros, it's part of the story that he's trying to be less of a "no second chances" guy (as contrasted with Doctor-Donna).
    • In the Master's case, it's something of a Fate Worse than Death... which the Doctor demonstrated that season he's more than capable of doing. The Master would rather die than be the Doctor's eternal prisoner This is proven by the fact he opts to die rather than to regenerate.
    • The Judoon (rhino space police basically) are described by the Doctor as logical but stupid. They follow the law closely, but tend to overreact, and wouldn't think of checking the same floor twice. Physical assault is punished with death with no chance of trial. They have also threatened to kill someone for playing music too loudly in The Sarah Jane Adventures. This is, of course, Played for Laughs.
  • Dwight Schrute of The Office. He tends to be as extreme about this as you can get away with in an office environment, taking even the slightest vestments of authority way too seriously and reporting minor infractions. This in turn is what makes it so satisfying to see Jim go all Bugs Bunny on him.
    • Angela is like this too, but a little less stupid than Dwight. Naturally, it was the basis of a romance between the two.
    • Jim occasionally uses this as the basis of a prank. For instance, he tells Dwight that the rules against wasting valuable office time mean that Dwight must not cease working even for a second, and gets out a stopwatch to drive the point home. Dwight is hoisted on his own petard (to the point of peeing in a coke bottle at his desk) because he can't bring himself to admit that that rule, if taken to its literal extreme, would indeed be stupid.
    Jim: Dwight has not stopped working for a second. At 12:45 he sneezed while keeping his eyes open, which I always thought was impossible.
  • Inspector Sledge Hammer! is this trope. He is a Trigger Happy Knights Templar Cowboy Cop who blew up an apartment building to deal with one sniper on the roof and once tied a guy to the hood of his car and drove said car around the parking lot at high speed just because the guy was speeding. Possibly a subversion, however, when you realize that Hammer has no qualms about ignoring laws against Police Brutality and excessive force...
  • In one episode of Charmed there was a "good" and a "bad" universe. However, due to some events even the most minor of infringements of law or courtesy would lead to a horrible punishment in the one supposed to be good. Among the punishments that are seen on-screen are one of the main characters being shot point-blank in the chest for parking her car on her neighbor's property without permission (Leo managed to heal her) and a nurse at the hospital had his hand cut off for using his cell phone indoors. In fact, when the main characters visit the hospital, they discover that the maternity ward is the only area of the hospital not dedicated to treating criminals for the injuries they received at the hands of the police in accordance with this trope.
    • In the mirror universe, it's good deeds that are punished with death. Even something as simple as saying "God bless you" after someone sneezes.
  • In one sketch of The Kids in the Hall, Kevin refuses an offer of has from a drug dealer on the street and proceeds to tell the police parked near by. In an aside to the audience, as the police frisk the dealer in the background, he explains how right he was in turning them in, and turning his parents in for once having a pot party. Turns out the dealer is clean - he planted the drugs on Kevin, and Kevin ends up arrested.
  • While the antagonists in Firefly run the gamut, Agent Dobson from the pilot takes the cake. Throughout the episode he claims the moral high ground; that the crew's crimes won't go unpunished...even after shooting an unarmed woman, trying to make a backdoor deal with a criminal, bludgeoning a priest who was trying to help him, and holding a mentally unstable girl at gunpoint as a hostage. Plus trying to overtake a spaceship crew alone. All of this was done without understanding why Simon was a criminal, other than he'd stolen Alliance property.
  • The Vorlons of Babylon 5 were left by the other First Ones to teach the younger species about the benefits of an ordered society—i.e. to have laws and enforce them. They were intentionally set up against the Shadows, who strike fear and sow discord to show the younger species the benefits of chaos—i.e. freedom, competition, and innovation. Between them, they were supposed to move the younger species towards a good, harmonious blend somewhere in the middle. But eventually they got too caught up in "winning" the argument, and so the Vorlons became general order-mongers and the Shadows general chaos-mongers.
  • Reese in one episode of Malcolm in the Middle where he's sent to boot camp. The drill instructors eventually shape him into the perfect soldier who follows orders without question or free thought (which his instructors demonstrate by ordering him to march forward into a wall, remarking "He'll do that all day.") This backfires later, though, when he's put in charge of a group for a war games session and his walkie talkie breaks, leaving him paralyzed and unable to do anything except repeatedly request orders from the non-functional device. He eventually snaps out of it, but returns to his Chaotic Evil persona and defeats both the opposing side and his own instructors with a tank.
  • In Red Dwarf episode 'Demons & Angels' the entire Red Dwarf ship is duplicated, twice. One duplicate is a "good" version, and one is "evil". The members of the good ship are Lawful Stupid, and as well as being morally good, are utterly naive and sympathetic, even to the members of the evil ship as they are murdering them. But of course, played for laughs.

    Music 
  • Ray Stevens' "Super Cop" is about a cop who solves problems in very humorous and unintelligent ways, such as shooting a man in the foot to justify his parking in a handicapped space, or forcing a woman to consume one of her purchases due to having 11 items in a 10-item express lane. Unfortunately, it's the corn oil.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • From Hindu Mythology: Daksha hated his son-in-law, Shiva, for living a rather chaotic lifestyle. Shiva doesn't mind that until his wife, Shati, committed suicide in grief of her father defiling and mocking her beloved. Shiva was infuriated; he later killed Daksha, then revived him, with a goat's head as punishment.

    Radio 
  • A recurring Bob & Ray character, police officer Rorshack. In one episode for instance, he loses some change, believes that he's been pickpocketed, has the entire city cordoned off, and orders his fellow officers to detain anyone walking the streets and to shoot anyone who doesn't comply.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Planescape describes the "lawful over good" approach as a characteristic of the entire plane of Arcadia (between LG and LN). It's the primary plane of influence of the Harmonium faction. AD&D Player's guide to the Planes:
    ... the Harmonium believes that peace is a better end than war. [...] If it takes thumping heads to spread the truth, well, the Harmonium's ready to thump heads. Sure, there may not be peace right away, but every time the Harmonium gets rid of an enemy, the multiverse is that much closer to the universal harmony it was meant to have.
    • That is, until the Hardheads managed to slip the whole layer into Mechanus. And got La Résistance, including proxies of Arcadian gods who weren't too happy that they had to re-create their domains, surprise.
    • The Mercykiller faction also has slants of this. As their name implies, they're dedicated strictly to justice, without compassion, without compromise. Mercy is an evil that must be extinguished, because it pollutes justice. This is what happens when, somehow, a Lawful Good philosophy and a Lawful Evil one, both believing in the sanctity of justice and retribution, merge.
    • The Modrons are an entire species of this, thanks to being the "elemental embodiments" of the Lawful Neutral alignment. If something does not match up with their procedural assessment of the situation, then they won't react to it. In one of the first adventures of the Great Modron March campaign, the party has to try and help a town that is in the way of the Modrons. See, three centuries ago, the last March established strict routes and procedures to take, so they wouldn't cause any damage. But since then, things have changed in the town. The Modrons won't listen to the town's leaders when they explain this, and stick to their routes from three centuries ago. And if this means smashing through buildings, or killing anyone who can't get out of the way fast enough, so be it. Of course, the Modrons might get a mulligan for this one; one of the main plotlines of the module is the fact that the March has started ahead of schedule, and the reason is, Primus has been killed by the demon lord Orcus, who has temporarily usurped rulership of the species. Orcus is about as un-lawful as you can get.
  • Somewhat averted in the Greyhawk campaign setting. The predominantly Lawful Good followers of the god Heironeous in what became the kingdoms of Furyondy and Nyrond seceded from the Great Kingdom of Aerdy rather than be subject to the increasingly Lawful Evil nature of its government and favored god Hextor. That said, Lawful Stupid remains the favored alignment in the Theocracy of the Pale.
    • The core rules try to avert this for Paladins. The Player's Handbook states clearly that when a paladin is faced with a dilemma between Law and Good, the paladin will choose good every time.
      • In the first edition at least, the penalty for an intentional Chaotic act was losing your Paladin abilities until you atoned (by spell or quest) whereas the penalty for an intentional Evil act was permanent loss of Paladin status.
      • In Third Edition, the penalty for committing an intentional Chaotic act was... technically nothing at all, if the act does not count as a gross violation of the Code of Conduct - excepting that, the only penalty for it was the risk that if you kept it up, you'd slip into Neutral Good (which would make you into an ex-Paladin). The penalty for committing an intentional Evil act was becoming an ex-Paladin, no alignment-change necessary.
  • Elder Evils, a book from the 3.5 edition of Dungeons & Dragons, features a canonical example of a Lawful Stupid alignment in the form of Obligatum VII, an extraplanar robot who wants to free an unstoppable Eldritch Abomination named Pandorym. Is it because Obligatum is a Omnicidal Maniac? No, it's actually because the dumbasses wizards who imprisoned Pandorym in the first place were somewhat deceptive. Obligatum is a kolyarut, one subbranch of a clockwork race called the Inevitables, whose sole function of existence is to keep the multiverse running according to law. His specific division enforces major contracts. The wizards in question made a major contract with Pandorym where they would gain power in exchange for summoning it to kill all the gods, which they then broke by summoning it into a prison instead. Obligatum feels that a contract is a contract, and it is dedicated to making sure the terms of the contract are obeyed, despite the apocalypse it would cause.
    • All Inevitables cleave very close to this trope actually. There's even one Inevitable that will kill you for living too long, should you do so by unnatural or extreme means (such as becoming a lich or sacrificing many other lives for your own protection). Ironically, there's an Inevitable caste whose mission is to protect the existing divine pantheons — which means that Obligatum should be coming under fire from a member of this much stronger caste.
      • In fact, that very variety of inevitable - called a varakhut - shows signs of this mentioned in the book where it is first described. One of their tasks is to protect the integrity of divinity by hunting down beings who are attempting to ascend to godhood. However should the attempt be successful, the Varakhuts will then defend the new god as part of the natural order, as they are also tasked with hunting down any being who attempts to kill a god. Clearly, sometimes Law, even beings of pure Law, are confusing.
      • Not to beat a dead horse, but there's another type of Inevitable called a Quarut with very Lawful Stupid tendencies. They're in charge of protecting the integrity of space and time, usually against wizards with the power to alter reality with spells that grant wishes or time travel. Nothing wrong with that, right? Here's the problem: they do so by using the exact same time and space altering magic, in effect causing them to break the very rules that they enforce
      • Further hammering it home, the reason Obligatum has the numeral for "seven" as part of its name? It's the seventh itineration of the Obligatum kolyarut — six Inevitables before it have been created for the express purpose of freeing Pandorym. Even though four of those were directly destroyed by agents of the gods (two were destroyed by adventuring parties who crossed swords with Obligatum for different reasons), Obligatum just keeps getting resurrected, and it's implied that even if the party wins, yet another Obligatum will be made to try and free Pandorym (likely stronger than this one), and that the only way the heroes can truly end the threat permanently is to journey to Mechanus and destroy the moulds used to build that model of Inevitable before it happens. If that's not Lawful Stupid, what is?
    • Obligatum's stat page does label him a "Misguided Inevitable", possibly suggesting that this project was started in the first place by an Inevitable with faulty programming that gave it a misunderstanding of its directives.
  • Kelemvor Lyonsbane, the god of the dead in Forgotten Realms. He's supposed to be a good guy, and an improvement over his predecessor. And indeed, he does not go out murdering mortals for the pleasure of it; he instead sees to it that all pass in their time. But then there's this wall in his domain, called the Wall of the Faithless. Whomsoever dies without having worshiped a god (even just paying lip service, though they get their own punishment, as being False) has his soul merge with the wall, slowly and painfully destroying him until there's no mind or personality left. People who live in areas where there is no religion featuring gods to worship are bound to end up there — even if they have no other option. You can give money to the poor, make clothes for the orphans, be the nicest person around, and if you do not worship a god, you're just another brick in the wall in the end.
    • In Kelemvor's defense, he originally did try to tear down the Wall of the Faithless and instead instigated a program of rewarding every dead soul who passed to his realm for their behavior in life. This eventually led to hundreds of people forsaking their former worship of the gods and hurling themselves suicidally into danger simply because they now knew they could be assured of a reward for being good from Kelemvor. As Ao had recently altered the gods to depend upon worship for their powers and sustained existence, Kelemvor was unintentionally starving the entire pantheon of their power, and they united as one to force him to reinstate the Wall.
    • The point here is the way Forgotten Realms is set up, there are no areas where there are no gods! Even if you somehow eradicated a whole bunch of gods, simply thanking "Lady Luck" would be enough to avoid this fate. To add to this there is an overbeing called Ao who would be responsible for creating/appointing gods to fill in this vacancy, or for letting existing gods move into the space.
    • Another Lawful Stupid moment from Kelemvor is present in Neverwinter Nights 2 — Mask of The Betrayer. He claims he can't deal with the spirit eater curse because it would be overriding another god (this appears to be a moral rather than physical issue), never mind that said god is more or less dead, but Kelemvor is said god's successor. He is refusing to do his own damn job. How does this guy get away with "neutral"?
    • This is a negative stereotype commonly associated with Helm, God of Duty & Obedience, Patron Deity of Watchmen and Guardsmen. A tendency to fall into this has been a particularly common accusation of both Helm and his faithful ever since the Time of Troubles, when Helm's response to Mystra's attempt to force her way back into the Planes was to destroy her immediately, further damaging the already-strained power of magic and creating the hitherto unknown phenomena of Dead Magic Zones and Wild Magic Zones.
  • The Paladin's Handbook had many Lawful Stupid rules. For example it's unthinkable for a paladin to retreat from battle unless his side is severely outmatched (at least outnumbered 2 to 1). Thus using such tactics (such as retreating to continue the fight on more advantageous terms, to trick the enemy side into committing some tactical error, or for whatever strategic reasons) are clearly against a Paladin's ethos. What to do if he's just ordered to disengage without an explanation?
    • The same book also forbade Paladins from associating with evil characters, failing to realise that a) Just because the guy is evil it doesn't mean that he can't serve good (by helping save the world for example); b) That the mere presence of a Paladin will limit how much evil the evil party member can do; c) That the presence of a paladin leading by example could perhaps lead said evildoer to abandon his evil ways and turn neutral or good. The Paladin's Handbook even suggested Paladins should avoid associating with a party mostly composed of neutral characters. The book insisted that Paladins could only stick around such groups for as long as absolutely necessary, and then that they should part ways ASAP.
  • A lot of Celestial beings fall under this trope. They are considered the opposite of demons from the hells. Demons are flat-out evil and selfish, merely doing things for their own gain, even if it means leaving a mountain of corpses behind them. Celestials on the other hand, are usually so Lawful Stupid that they can be just as destructive. In fact it can be difficult to differentiate their self-proclaimed "Lawful Good" from "Chaotic Evil" at times. Even worse is that players in the middle of these conflicts tend to fall towards evil just protecting themselves from said beings.
  • One of the stupidest versions can be found with this lovely mechanic of the first edition Cavalier. As a result of the code and the desire for battle, cavaliers cannot be controlled in battle situations. They will charge any enemy in sight, with this order of preference:
  • This trope is often specifically addressed in various Lawful Good religions, where it's spelled out that protecting the innocent and doing good is more important than upholding the letter of the law. Paladins of Tyr and Torm, the gods of justice, duty and honor in the Forgotten Realms, are reminded to oppose laws that can be shown to be unfair or oppressive, and not to enforce them.
    • Lampshaded in The Prince of Lies. The god of thieves, Mask, expresses surprise that Torm is willing to participate in a covert plot to undermine Cyric: "I always figured you for a storm-the-front-gates-in-broad-daylight sort of strategist!".
  • Warhammer 40,000 has a few examples of this.
    • Many Chapters of Imperial Space Marines suffer from this. Some of them decry any form of stealth as cowardice; others refuse to retreat even when strategically or tactically viable out of a sense of martial pride; and others still refuse to field psykers, work alongside aliens, or even ally with anyone else at all because of deeply-held suspicions and prejudices. The Space Marines' holy book, the Codex Astartes, actually discourages this sort of behavior and contains all sorts of useful and varied tactical advice; however, adhering too closely to the Codex Astartes can cause a Chapter to enter Lawful Stupid territory from the other direction.
      • The Ultramarines are probably the number one victim of Accentuate the Negative because of this. The Codex Astartes was not considered a document of holy significance in Guilliman's time. In fact, the Emperor specifically tried to promote atheism throughout the Imperium. Marneus Calgar came to the conclusion, upon reflection, that he was being Lawful Stupid and that Guilliman never intended for the Codex Astartes to be this way. So, in conclusion, in the grim darkness of the far future there's always room for Character Development.
      • At least until it was retconned in the fifth edition Space Marine Codex.
    • The Monodominant faction of the Inquisition are, as a group, fanatically devoted to the letter of Imperial law and dogma, to the point that they are considered xenophobic and reactionary even by the xenophobic and reactionary standards of the Imperium. Monodominants fervently believe that only genetically pure and religiously faithful humans deserve to exist, and that everything else - aliens, daemons, heretics, malcontents, traitors, and mutants, up to and sometimes including the psykers that the Imperium needs in order to continue functioning - needs to be killed with fire. Other Inquisitors tend to consider the Monodominants bombastic, closed-minded, and self-defeating, and note that their pogroms and witch hunts tend to bury more answers than they uncover (and, less importantly, tend to kill a lot of innocent people in the process). The Monodominants usually respond by loudly accusing their detractors of heresy and attempting to kill them (with fire).
    • Ogryns are fiercely loyal beings who would never knowingly betray the Imperium or the God Emperor. However, they are have the collective IQ of a door knob, and can be easily tricked into thinking anyone is betraying the God Emperor by just pointing at someone and yelling traitor.
    • Another great example of Lawful Stupid space marines comes from the later Dawn of War Expansion Packs. In Dark Crusade the Space Marine Blood Ravens and the Redshirt Army Imperial Guard both have orders from their superiors to claim the planet resulting in two armies fighting "for the Emperor" against each other. The Guard fighting for their homeworld, the marines willing to obliterate them to be on the safe side regarding heresy and mutants. Soulstorm tops it by also adding the Church Militant Adepta Sororitas.
    • Dawn of War 2: Chaos Rising gives us a unique example of a Lawful Stupid Space Marine inside the Blood Ravens Chapter: Honour Guard Captain Apollo Diomedes. Although he is pure, he is singularly bent on obeying Chapter Master Kyras (who is corrupted by Chaos). He transmits and defends Kyras' order to stop defending Blood Raven recruiting worlds against the Black Legion incursion. He then goes on to label Gabriel Angelos and the player as 'renegades' of the chapter when they don't stop. (Un)fortunately, his Lawful stupidity does not come without consequences in two of the three possible outcomes for him: the two bad endings have him either (a) die to Heavy Bolter fire from Avitus or (b) become corrupted by Apothecary Gaelan. If the player completes the relevant mission's sidequest and frees Apothecary Gaelan from demonic possession, Apothecary Gaelan lampshades this by saying "[Captain Apollo's] pride blinds him."
    • Gabriel Angelos is not impeccable himself. When the people who have been guarding an Artifact of Doom for centuries tell you that destroying it is not a good idea, you should probably listen to them however rude and unconvincing they are and not smack it with your hammer.
    • Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine discusses this in the ending, where after defeating a Chaos Sorcerer, Captain Titus is turned to the Inquisition by his battle brother Leandros, who accuses him of being tainted due to his resistance to the warp. Titus states that the Codex Astardes is a set of rules that are meant to shape and guide them, but the true test of a Space Marine is how one lives with said rules. In his eyes, Leandros has failed this test.
    • In one Gaunt's Ghosts novel, an officer is arrested for insubordination because he had been ordered to advance along a certain road and engage the enemy and was forced to detour around a traffic obstacle (While still obeying the important part of the orders - to engage the enemy). Gaunt recognizes the sheer idiocy of this and does everything he can to get the charges dropped.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Battle gives us Lord Mazdamundi of the Lizardmen, who has ruled that all species have to go back to within the boundaries set for them 20,000 years ago by a race who disappeared when Chaos first came to the Warhammer world. Part of this involves putting all of the elves back on Ulthuan — high elves, dark elves, and wood elves. The main downside to this? High elves hate dark elves, dark elves hate high elves, and wood elves hate everybody. The culture of the elves would be reduced to burning ruins within a year. Throw in the fact that Elves are manning many of the ex-Lizardmen anti-Chaos wards outside of Ulthuan... yeah, this makes standard Lawful Stupid look clever.
  • In Hunter The Reckoning, several groups of hunters seemed to fall exclusively into the realm of Lawful Stupid (Zeal) or Stupid Good (Mercy).
  • Solar and Lunar Exalted have character flaws built into the game system, meaning that for the highest Virtue there's an added Virtue flaw. The very idea of the mechanic is that at worst, especially Solars may succumb to the pitfalls of being called "Lawgivers." And then there's She Who Lives In Her Name who practically enforces this trope.
  • Friend Computer in Paranoia. It at least has the excuse that it's also bugnuts insane.
  • Blood Bowl is not immune to this either, it has this in the form of the teams Bright Crusaders and the appropriately-named Heroes of Law, both aiming to set a good example by not breaking any rules of the game in trying to achieve victory. Because of how prominent cheating is in the game and the natures of most teams, they tend to not win very often at all. Blood Bowl is, after all, a game in which even the ones who make the rules cheat, and death is extremely common among it's players, so sticking to the rules is suicidal.
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons Dragonlance setting, we have the Kingpriest of Istar, who sought to eradicate evil from the world. He started out by leading crusades against evil monsters, and eventually progressed to having priests wandering the land using mind-reading spells and executing anybody who even had an evil thought. Eventually, he sought to become a god, to finally fulfill his quest; the gods had to drop a giant meteor on Istar, destroying the city, killing thousands, and setting human civilization back 1,000 years, just to stop him. Despite all this, Paladine, the lead god of good, still considers him to be a good man — and exhibit A in the case for the Balance Between Good and Evil.

    Theater 
  • The titular pirates of The Pirates of Penzance are so extraordinarily Lawful Stupid that they're barely even pirates by the time of the play. While they have no problem kidnapping young ladies they feel the need to marry them before any ravishing takes place. They refuse to attack forces weaker than them because it's dishonorable. Plus the startling number of "orphans" they run into (as it's well known that they will neverharm an orphan). In fact, at the end of the play, they stand down from battling with the Major General's men after being ordered to yield in the name of Queen Victoria, and "for all our faults, we love our Queen."
    • Frederick is the embodiment of Lawful Stupid, as the subtitle "The Slave of Duty" indicates. He rejoins the pirates and betrays the Major-General and Mabel to them, just because of a technicality in a contract that was signed on his behalf when he was a small child. Especially when you consider the fact that the contract was arranged by accident in the first place. His hearing-impaired nursemaid was supposed to apprentice him to be a pilot, not a pirate.
    • General Stanley isn't immune either, being so wracked with guilt it leaves him sleepless after telling the Pirates he's an orphan - sure, doing so easily saved his family without bloodshed and made him an entire crew of pirates as allies, but it was a LIE!
      • Going one further, he states that it's a lie because of the family portraits over the fireplace. They aren't even HIS family.
  • Inspector Javert, from the musical (and yes, the book as well) Les Misérables, is rapidly approaching the embodiment of Lawful Stupid by story's end. Once a criminal, always a criminal is his mantra. He attempts to arrest the highly successful and well-loved mayor of a town who was running a factory explicitly for people who couldn't afford to live otherwise (all-around hero Jean Valjean) for the heinous crime of a parole violation years previous.
    • He also attempts to arrest Valjean (whom he knows is superhumanly strong and a criminal facing decades of hard labour) armed only with a baton. Unsuprisingly, Valjean (who can pick up a fully-loaded cart) over-powers Javert and escapes. This wasn't due necessarily to Javert's stupidity (he's generally an intelligent man), but to his belief that 'good' always overcomes 'evil,' where 'good' and 'evil' are equal to 'law' and 'crime,' respectively.

    Toys 

    Video Games 
  • Tales of Vesperia gives us Sodia, who tries to kill the Chaotic Good protagonist, Yuri, because Yuri himself committed acts of murder, which he at no point denies. The trouble is, Yuri murdered Ragou and Cumore, who were going to be Karma Houdinis if no action was taken. Ragou fed people to his pets For the Evulz, and Cumore was sending people into the desert to die because nobody cared to stop him from doing it. Yuri kills both of them to make them pay for their crimes. While Sodia was intended to add to the game's aesop of "justice is subjective," it's pretty hard to say Yuri wasn't justified in what he did, and that he didn't save countless more lives by offing the two bastards. Plus, it's not like Yuri enjoyed it; he just felt he did what he had to do because no one else was going to. Sodia is just one example of how the game's aesop comes across as a bit clueless.
  • One rather cruel example can crop up if you have the paladin Keldorn in your party in the D&D-based game Baldur's Gate II. If you accept his offer to visit his home, you'll find that his wife has been cheating on him out of loneliness and concern for their children, as Keldorn is always off crusading. The most obvious thing to do is to let him follow the "lawful" path and report his wife's infidelity to the authorities, which results in her permanent incarceration, the execution of her lover, and his two daughters hating him forever. Keldorn himself is more than happy enough to take a "good" alternative that involves talking with the lover (who willingly steps down if Keldorn faces him) and reconciling with his family — although this causes him to temporarily leave the party.
    • The game has a traditional example in Anomen, who vies for paladinhood and won't shut up about how far above everything else this places him. Compare:
      Anomen: A dank cesspool of base corruption if ever there was one. Why, if not for the Order, the Gods would surely smite man for such sins!
      Keldorn: Where men gather, a bustle of chaos ensues. I would save them all, if I could.
      • Anomen isn't Good at start. He gets better if that is changed.
  • Keiichiro Wachizuka of the The Last Blade series of fighting games. As a member of the Shinsengumi during the Meiji era, he often let his personal morality, a relic of the age of Samurai, get in the way of his better judgment... which wasn't that good to begin with. He's also an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy who seems to think he's never wrong.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Beatrix and Steiner from Final Fantasy IX are supposed to be Lawful Good, but instead come off as Lawful Stupid. Beatrix helps The Empire destroy two cities, and massively damage a third simply because the Queen is an evil nutcase. Steiner wants to return the Rebellious Princess who wants to escape her evil mother, and not only doesn't notice that the Queen has become an evil nutcase, he stubbornly attempts to return Garnet to Alexandria even though Garnet says repeatedly that she intended to leave and cooperated fully with her "kidnappers." He also blames Loveable Rogue Zidane for every bad thing that happens even though Zidane was hired by Garnet's foster uncle — because Queen Brahne was turning into an evil nutcase. It's only after the Queen attempts to kill her own daughter that both of them have to stop denying. In Steiner's defence, he's worried about Garnet's safety and believes the Queen is still a genuinely good person. He fiercely defends the Queen when a random character mentions offhand that Brahne may start a war, Steiner believing that she hasn't fallen that far.
      • When interviewed by EGM, the game designers all but referred to Steiner using the trope name: "When the knights come after him, he's certain that it's a mistake, a miscommunication. The Queen cannot be doing this."
  • Adell from Disgaea 2 constantly insists on fair fights and keeping promises. This would be all well and good if it wasn't for one teensy weensy little fact: everyone within a 100 mile radius is a Genre Savvy hellspawn willing to milk this for all its worth. Rozalin spends quite a deal of time wondering how this kind of behavior hasn't killed him already. His attitude actually leads him to achieve heroic victory, so WHO is the Genre Savvy one in the end?
    • To some people, Seraph Lamingtont of Disgaea 1 can come off as Lawful Stupid or Stupid Good. This is all a lie, as Lamington is a grade-A Chessmaster. Archangel Vulcanus, on the other hand, is either bona-fide Lawful Stupid or just flat-out Lawful Evil.
  • Lord Theodore, head of the Knights of Mirsaburg in Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song, is Lawful Stupid to the core. Sure, the corrupt nobility deserves his scorn, but Theodore is utterly convinced that he's the only one who's right, ever. He clings so rigidly to his idea of chivalry that at one point, he jails and plans to execute one of his most loyal knights... because they were slashed in the back. After all, the knights never run away, and though he was clearly ambushed by monsters, without a witness to vouch for him, Theodore automatically assumes that he broke his vow and should die for cowardice. In fact, when the enemy pulls a Fake King plot, it works well mainly because it seems perfectly in-character for him to declare war on one of his allies just because she disagrees with him.
  • Vhailor, the Animated Armor who can join your party in Planescape: Torment. If he discovers that any members of your party have a chaotic alignment, he will try to kill them. If he discovers that you have ever done anything bad to another person in your (very long) life, he will try to kill you. Toward the end of the game, if you attempt to redeem the Fallen Angel Trias and Vhailor is with you, Vhailor will kill him, thus releasing a fiend bound to charitable acts until Trias' demise (though you can kill that guy without problems before meeting Trias). In his defense, though, Vhailor is a member of the Mercykiller faction, a group of Knights Templar who are designed to carry the Lawful Stupid mindset to its logical extreme.
  • Mass Effect 2 introduces the Justicar Samara, who is sometimes Lawful Stupid, but sometimes surprises the player by subverting the trope. On the way to recruiting her, the player hears a lot about the Justicar's Code and how it requires Justicars to act in Lawful Stupid fashion, and the police officers in the area are anxious to get her off their planet before her Code compels her to kill anyone who impedes her pursuit, up to and including police (since, according to the code, any law enforcement who is holding up her investigation is a dirty cop, whether or not they really are). The subversion comes when the player sees Samara use loopholes in her Code to avoid being forced into stupid behavior. That being said, she is very blunt about the body-count she'll accept, acknowledging to Shepard that the Code is a black-and-white set of rules in a grey world, and makes it clear that she will shoot her way out of the police station if they hold her for more than a day; the Code allows her to submit to arrest, but if anybody tries to actually put her in a cell or restrain her, the Code tells her that she is obligated to kill that person. Furthermore, the Code itself contain a clause which allows a Justicar to swear allegiance to someone for the duration of that person's mission or quest, during which time that person's orders override the Code in order for the Justicar to be able to serve the greater good without oathbreaking. (The Code also says that if, during this period, the person to whom Samara swears allegiance orders her to do anything immoral, she'll do it but will have to kill the person after being released from service.)
    • In a similar vein, the asari themselves hold the Justicars in high regard and respect the questionable rigidness of their code; they're treated as heroes akin to knights in human history, so they're given a lot of leeway. However, most asari also realize how archaic the code is, and more importantly they realize how other races wouldn't understand or respect the righteous code of the Justicars outside of asari culture. Samara's recruitment mission involves you helping a local asari detective from getting Samara out of Illium as fast as possible to A. prevent her from restraining Samara, thus forcing Samara to kill the detective, and B. reduce the risk of Samara causing a cross-species incident.
    • Paragon Shepard is a big and very refreshing aversion of this trope. S/he respects the politics of the galaxy until they start to get in his/her way. If Udina locks down his/her ship s/he will participate in hijacking it in order to stop the galactic apocalypse among other examples. It's one reason why Paragon Shepard is just as Bad Ass as Renegade Shepard.
    • In the third game, if Samara is alive at the end of the Ardat-Yakshi temple quest she'll decide that her code compels her to kill her last daughter since there is no longer a temple for her to stay in and Ardat-Yakshi (asari Vampires that kill with sex) are not permitted to live outside. However, she can't go through with this and will try to kill herself because the Code demands that a Justicar kill herself for failing to live by the Code unless Shepard steps in. In that case however, both Shepard and her daughter Falere will convince her that Falere will remain on her own free will, which she'll accept.
  • Castlevania: the reason the Belmont clan ever had the Vampire Killer to begin with is because way back in Lament of Innocence, their idiot ancestor went tearing off to go storm a vampire's castle with no weapon, after he resigned from knighthood and had his weapons stripped from him. Reason? The knights and church couldn't be bothered to help him rescue Sarah from a vampire because they apparently find fighting heretics more important. Leon was then all "screw you all, I'll do it myself."
  • Ser Cauthrien, a brave, honourable female knight who is The Dragon to the main (human) antagonist Loghain in Dragon Age: Origins. Although she is aware of most of the awful things done by her master, including betraying the King and the Grey Wardens at Ostagar, she keeps trying to justify him because of her misguided sense of loyalty and duty, and will eventually attack the protagonist, who seeks to stop Loghain's plans. She can be talked out of her unwavering loyalty, but more likely you'll have to kill her.
    • There's a strong element of Hero Worship going on here as well — she's a) a commoner and b) a woman, and Loghain personally elevated her to knighthood on her own merits rather than judging her by the decidedly stuffy, sexist standards typical of Thedas' nobility. If you're persuasive enough, this eventually breaks down and she asks that you rescue Loghain from himself.
  • The Arishok in Dragon Age II will even cop to it if you call him out.
    Hawke: I see a man willing to start a war on principle.
    The Arishok: What would the Qunari be without principle? You, I expect.
  • Grand Maestro Mohs from Tales of the Abyss is both Lawful Evil and Lawful Stupid. He wants to start a war and get hundreds of people killed just because the Score says so, conveniently overlooking the fact that the Score is, at best, a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
    • Mayor Teodoro of Yulia City is, too, and apparently most of the Order of Lorelei. For example, after the destruction of a major city, the mayor refuses to believe that a nearby city might be in danger, because only one of them was said to be destroyed in the Score, laws of physics or common sense be damned. He won't even send someone to go look and make sure.
    • Tear starts off as this as well, willing to believe in Mohs no matter how nasty he's revealed to be, simply because he's a head of the Order. Teodoro's actions above, however, start shaking her out of this.
  • Hotaru from Mortal Kombat is fanatical about order. He even joins the Dragon King just because that would bring about more order.
    • What's more, his entire race and home realm are also fanatical about order, leading to constant turmoil over people with different levels of rigidity fighting for power in a totalitarian realm.
  • The guards in The Elder Scrolls series will track you down and attempt to fine or imprison you for any crime, and will attempt to kill if you refuse to comply. In Oblivion they say the same phrase and have the same reaction whether you murder somebody in cold blood or steal a sweetroll.
    • Thankfully averted in Skyrim. If your bounty is low enough, you can easily get away with simply a slap on the wrist for picking up something that happened to be owned by somebody else if you just pay off the relatively small bounty. In some cases they won't even take you with them the keep, and will simply let you go immediately after paying off your bounty and giving them your stolen goods, and they have a lot more forgiving attitude than the guards in Oblivion. Compare the reactions of the guards to paying off your bounty in Oblivion to the corresponding responses in Skyrim, and it is clear the guards in Oblivion want you to rot in a prison cell for a minor theft, while the ones in Skyrim at least commend you for being smart enough to cooperate with them. Also, if your crime is miniscule enough, you can talk them into just letting you go your way with a simple "don't do it again". And if you're with the Thieves' Guild...
  • Aldaris, the resident Obstructive Bureaucrat of Starcraft, epitomizes this trope. As the Zerg were overrunning the Protoss homeworld of Aiur, Aldaris was more concerned about arresting Tassadar (the one person who was capable of killing the cerebrates and Overmind) and executing him for associating with the Dark Templar, rather than about fighting the Zerg invasion.
  • Denam in Tactics Ogre will be talked into going along with a False Flag Operation and many players were surprised that this brought them along the lawful route, which is normally seen as the "good" choice. Lawful was actually just the type that means you follow orders, no matter what, whereas in some other games, the "lawful" was actually good. (Namely Ogre Battle 64, with implications in Knight of Lodis.)
  • Uther the Lightbringer in the Warcraft Expanded Universe story Of Blood And Honor. He sentences Tirion Fordring to exile for disobeying orders to try to save Eitrigg the orc from being executed for merely being an orc, and claims that Tirion's decision was motivated by pride even when he is forced to give up everything as a result. Uther is able to get past his belief that all orders must be obeyed at Stratholme, but remains racist against the orcs.
  • Eldigan of Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War is a loyal knight of Agustria who obeys King Chagall no matter what. Unfortunately Chagall is a patricide who, when Eldigan questions his plans to attack the neighboring country, locks Eldigan in the dungeon and sends another lord to attack his lands and sister Raquesis. Rather than turn on him after Sigurd rescues both of them, Eldigan protects Chagall and continues to obey his orders when Chagall gets belligerent again, even going so far as to attack Sigurd's army. His obedience to Chagall eventually kills him, either at Sigurd's hands or by Chagall's orders if he listens to his sister and quits his attack.
  • Saradomin of Runescape has gone this direction when Characterization Marches On brought him from god of good to god of order (Armadyl is the god of Justice, so Lawful Neutral and Lawful Good are taken, while Seren appears to be Neutral Good with what little information is available), while his counterpart Zamorak comparably moved from being God of Evil (of both the Lawful Evil and Chaotic Evil varieties) to just being Chaotic Neutral with mostly evil followers.
  • In Suikoden IV, the hero Lazlo is accused of murdering his superior officer. The only evidence of Lazlo committing the crime was an extremely shady testimony by his Token Evil Teammate Snowe. Nevertheless, Lazlo's fellow officers immediately believe in his guilt and sentence him to exile without giving him a trial.
  • The Postman in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask dutifully adheres to an extremely strict schedule, to the point that on the third day, when the Moon is about to crash into Clock Town, he can be seen having a panic attack in his room, saying that he wants to flee, but he still has mail to deliver the next day. You can get him to flee by giving him the Priority Mail to deliver to the Mayor's wife, who then orders him to leave town.
  • The entire basis of angels in Shin Megami Tensei is this trope, and it's Played for Drama. They will never do anything that even hints at disobeying the commands of YHVH, nor will they act without His orders. The problem is that God Is Evil. The results have ranged from actively hindering attempts to save the world because it won't make the world they want to the violent destruction of an entire system of government in order to facilitate genocide.

    Web Comics 
  • Miko Miyazaki in the webcomic The Order of the Stick is part Lawful Stupid, part Knight Templar, and occasionally parodies both. This strip is a good example of the former. It does have elements of subverting Honor Before Reason, since the whole thing was largely to get the ogres into a compressed area, but it would have been a much better plan if she would have told the others what she was doing.
    • Hinjo, and apparently most of the other paladins of the Sapphire Guard, are aversions, as they act normally, rationally, and without being condescending. They also don't like Miko, and she is sent on away missions so they don't have to deal with her ("often for months at a time"). Hinjo does have his moments of self-righteousness from time to time, but he's mostly a decent, rational and practical man.
      • Even more so with O-Chul, the Memetic Badass and all-around decent guy who the author has explained is an intentional foil to the aspects of this trope Miko embodies. Miko is a representation of how many people would play a paladin, O-Chul is a representation of how one should be played.
    • Although it doesn't apply to Roy, this strip has Elan and Belkar refer to him as such.
    • In this strip, Celia the sylph pretty clearly delineates the difference between Lawful Stupid and Lawful Good.
    • Durkon, being a Lawful Good Cleric, cannot lie and does not resist authority. However, he subverts this by using technical truths and when his comrades assist authority, they tend to get their asses handed to them.
    • In-Universe, both Lord Shojo and Redcloak denounce Soon Kim's oath of non-interference and observation of the other four Gates, and the persistence with which the Sapphire Guard adheres to this, as this. Seeing as how this genuinely does cripple their ability to keep the Gates safe from Xykon, they kind of have a point (although the drama that happened in Soon Kim's group stemming from the death of one of their own has hinted that there's much more complexity to the situation than this trope).
  • From Goblins, but in quite a different flavor, you have Fumbles, who becomes so desperate to "make things right" (after he does something very, very wrong) that he lets his sense of justice completely overthrow his sense of survival. And get it in a headlock. And while Fumbles starts off with the idea that he can do it without involving the rest of his team, the comic is very good about showing that his actions have long-lasting consequences, and affect everyone he cares about, in large part because they also care about him.
    • Big Ears the paladin manages to avert this nicely, which is rare for a paladin, as they are usually flanderized into one of these if they don't start out as one. He instead follows closely what a lawful good paladin should be.
    • Which is horribly contrasted by a dwarven paladin who somehow retains all his paladin powers (including immunity to injury by the artifact axe big Ears acquires) killing everyone he comes across for no other reason than being 'tainted' by contact with evil and has no problems cutting down children and crippled, blind goblins incapable of harming anyone.
      • Kore...is lampshaded as something VERY...VERY wrong.
  • DM of the Rings lampshades this when the players refuse to act in this manner.
  • Steven of Daily Grind reveres with unwavering Lawful Stupidity the by-laws of the secret society that raised him from orphanhood. Even after it turned out that he was the only member who took them seriously and the rest were variously crooks and dupes so that he had to kill off everyone else (as stipulated in the by-laws for this situation) and restart the society from scratch. He's only Lawful when the law in question is the by-laws, however. On the rare occasions where the by-laws do not dictate what to do, he's an almost likable Neutral Good.
  • Agent Ben and Agent Jerry, The Men in Black from The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!.
  • In Freefall, Florence Ambrose and Mr. Kornada are sympathetic and hostile/comedic portrayals of this, respectively:
    • Florence is a Bowman's Wolf, a genetically engineered life form (or "Biological AI") based on the Red Wolf, and so comes with a potent cocktail of genetic programming that can mess with her normally law-abiding, honest, ethical nature and reduce her to just a puppet if she is given a direct order by certain people in positions of authority.
    • In comparison, the human Mr. Kornada is a Corrupt Corporate Executive and a walking stereotype of the "manager as an idiot who doesn't really have the faintest clue what he's doing, but doesn't care as so long as the "rules" are being followed". Florence actually has to trick him into saving his own life because he's so Lawful Stupid that he refuses to let the fact that a hurricane is tearing the building apart around him prevent him from holding a pointless meeting (the only ones attending being himself and two robots who want to throttle him, but who are prevented from doing so by the Aasimov Laws). He's not only offended to hear that Sam won't abandon Florence to die to ensure he gets there on time, he then goes on to fake a heart attack in order to force the robots to hijack Sam's ship to be sure that he gets his way.
      • He has since upgraded to Stupid Evil, starting up a scheme to spread a program that would effectively lobotomize every robot who installs it, which apart from the genocide implications would utterly destroy the newly terraformed planet's infrastructure and economy. He would do this in order to steal their money!
  • Keith from TwoKinds gets to make this point with a Reason You Suck Speech to his entire home nation, which is the page quote.
  • A Beginner's Guide to the End of the Universe has The Followers of the Icosahedron, who wish for the world (well, what little there is) to be destroyed completely by the Singularity because the natural laws of nature require so to pave the way for a new universe.

     Web Original 
  • Stormwolf of the Whateley Universe. He's so busy being 'Lawful Good' that he isn't protecting a group of freshman girls who just managed to avoid being beaten, mutilated, and/or murdered in four separate attempts (one by a mutant ninja assassin) in one night. And he won't let the girls go get payback, either. Even though the girls know who attacked them, and who hired the attackers.

    Western Animation 
  • Silverbolt in Transformers: Beast Wars is another example of how it's possible to get by with being Lawful Stupid by being stupid lucky (not as an alignment, just "lucky to the point of absurdity"). For instance, he actually helped Blackarachnia open up a tunnel leading to the in-stasis Autobots from the original cartoon.
    • Blackarachnia descends from the Autobots, so it's not like helping her was dangerous (as she'd eliminate herself if she harmed the in-stasis autobots). Shit hits the fan when Megatron finds the tunnel already dug out for him. Still, Silverbolt is definitely Lawful Stupid.
  • The Gargoyles are usually quite reasonable, but one time, Goliath, faced with a mighty opponent, decided to use the Eye of Odin. The Eye magnified his power to truly awesome levels — but also magnified his nature, that of a protector and guardian, to the point where he was willing to deceive his charges by pretending there was danger when there wasn't, to ensure they stayed somewhere safe rather than moving on, even if they had nothing that could be called a life.
  • In a different sense, Alien X from Ben 10: Alien Force — a being capable of warping time and space, but whose thought pattern has been (and in some ways still is) strangled with debate between two diametrically opposed entities to the point at which the being cannot even move until a decision can be reached. Until Ben came along, they had no tiebreaker. And they're not very good at listening to him.
  • Omi from Xiaolin Showdown is Lawful Stupid in regards to promises. At one point, Omi has to team up with one of the Big Bads to stop a race of unstoppable spiders. They do this by combining two Mac Guffins that work together to give infinite knowledge to find a way to stop them. Before doing so, the Big Bad makes him promise to only look for the way to stop them and specifically not to look for "the way to destroy evil forever". In the end, he mentions he "peeked". In later episodes the main group finds themselves in a desperate situation and begin telling him they want him to use the secret. He holds firm that he cannot because it would go against his honor as a monk even when all 3 of them think it would be better to do it anyway but he still refuses. The end result is as part of the Big Bad's plan, this divides him from his friends and causes him to go against their safer wishes of not listening to the villain. He ends up temporarily locked in an aggressive mood from this and pledges his allegiance to the villain. Once he returns to normal, he stays with the villain because he made that promise (ignoring his friends' cries of "he wasn't himself").
    • It turned out that not using the secret to destroying evil was the best choice in the end, as the Big Bad pulled a Batman Gambit that would've resulted in Omi destroying good forever.
  • Hego from Kim Possible. He hides his identity with glasses and a tie, talks on and on, giving the enemy the chance to attack, and follows the rules of hero/villain interaction to the T, even lecturing the other heroes on the 'proper' way to do things while they were all in danger from the villain. By about halfway through his introductory episode, the heroes completely understand why his little sister turned evil.
    • Even the other brothers find him annoying. Even when he turned evil he still acts like this, much to Electronique's nerves. Hego stayed behind when his brothers are out on vacation. He was so lonely and wished he went, he's beginning to think something is wrong with him.
  • Alder & Dash from Casper Scare School.
  • Hugh Test from Johnny Test.
  • Officer Yates from South Park.
  • The Venture Bros.'s Office of Secret Intelligence (or at least Colonel Gathers) has a code of never killing women or children no matter what, even though they're secret agents with a license to kill. (although it's really a good thing)
    • The Guild of Calamitous Intent's byzantine ruleset for "arching" constitutes a subversion; the fact that the rules limit the ability of villains to cause real damage is intended by the Sovereign, who understands that turning dozens of megalomaniacs with lasers loose on the world wouldn't be good for anyone.
  • There was an episode of Dexter's Laboratory in which The Blue Falcon (Not that one) brought in Dynomutt for repairs. Dexter instead builds a competent crime fighting robot instead of a comic relief sidekick, that's willing to open fire on innocent people jaywalking or littering.
  • There's an episode of The Batman where Joker decides to do this. He dresses up in a makeshift Batman outfit and only attacks people breaking laws, and then use Joker gas on them.
    • Well, actually, no. First of all, his victims are barely lawbreakers at all (the "crimes" they commit are never worse than littering or jaywalking). Then he demands a fee for his services from the mayor. In other words, this is simply a funny - to him - method of extortion.
  • Related Batman example: In the Justice League two-part "A Better World" story, Justice League Batman sees that Justice Lord Batman has made his world's Gotham City so clean and orderly that even a customer who dares to complain about being overcharged at a restaurant can get detained by the police.
  • Zapp Brannigan from Futurama is hypocritically Lawful Stupid, with extra emphasis on his stupid part. On the other hand, you're not supposed to like him much anyway.
    Zapp: The Democratic Order of Planets prohibits interfering with undeveloped worlds. It's a little rule known as "Brannigan's Law".
    Leela: But people already interfered. That planet was mined completely hollow.
    Zapp: Yes, by a Democratic Order of Planets mining crew.
    Leela: This doesn't make any sense.
    Zapp: I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.
    Leela: Fine! We'll save the animals without your help.
    Zapp: I'm afraid I can't allow that. Guards!
  • Bubbles in the "Bubblevicious" episode of The Powerpuff Girls. She managed to make a litterbug hit the ground before the gum wrapper he tossed, and punch's a guy black and blue for stepping on a single blade of grass. She rampaged her do-good behavior throughout Townsville and her crusade got her captured by Mojo Jojo. In another episode, the Mayor uses a hot-air balloon and a spring-loaded boxing glove to take the law into his own hands. He goes mad with power in less than a minute.
  • Darwin from The Amazing World of Gumball falls into this trope frequently. In "The Internet", even though they were both aware that The Internet itself hacked into the traffic lights and was trying to kill them, Darwin stood in place and scolded Gumball like a child for running across the road. Unfortunately Miraculously, Darwin was not hit by a single car during this entire tirade.
  • Charlie and Charlie from the French cartoon Mummy Nanny make all other dumb cartoon cops look like geniuses by comparison. In the first episode, after losing their patrol car, they commandeer the vehicle of the Obviously Evil bad guys and order the Big Bad to follow the suspects' car. He does exactly what they told him to do, but then they order him to stop and ticket him for speeding, letting their suspects get away.
  • Casey Jones, in the 1987 TMNT animated series.
  • Mr. Herriman from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.
  • Darkwarrior Duck from the Darkwing Duck episode, "Time and Punishment" is a Knight Templar who imprisons people for life without trial (on the grounds that no jury will question him) for staying out past curfew.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Back To The Woods", when James Woods steals Peter's identity, he gets Joe to arrest him for it. Woods presents Joe with his fake identification and he buys it, even calling him Peter. Lois hung a huge lampshade on this.
    • And in "Thanksgiving", Joe tires to arrest his son for going AWOL in Iraq.
  • On the Phineas and Ferb episode "Quantum Boogaloo," O.W.C.A. can't do anything to fight Doofensmirtz because they all swore an oath to obey him.
  • In the Men In Black series, episode "The Worm-Guy Guy Syndrome", Kalifadik enforcers come to Earth to teleport alien fugitives to life imprisonment for any violation, no matter how minor.
  • Maria Hill from The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, who commands SHIELD after Nick Fury disappears, is prone to this type of behavior (much like her comics counterpart). While it's understandable that she wants the Avengers to work for SHIELD, she tends to spend more time antagonizing them than actual villains.
    • The worst case of this was when she out right tried to force the Avengers to join S.H.I.E.L.D or be arrested....outright ignoring the massive war that was happening between Hydra and A.I.M in the middle of New York, until given the proverbial smack upside the head by Iron Man for being an idiot.
  • On Adventure Time, Finn and Jake sometimes fall into this. In "Video Makers" they stopped showing copyrighted movies on movie night because of the FBI warnings, even though the FBI and the copyright holders are long dead.
    • Tree Trunks was like this toward herself when she called the Banana Guards on herself for stealing her own apples. And they showed up and put the cuffs on her, rather than the conversation with the dispatcher winding up on Ooo's Stupidest 911 Calls.
  • Numbuh 86 acted like this in spades in the Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation: E.N.D.", believing that every member of Sector V where scheduled to be decomissioned due to computer-issued orders, even though she knew from personal experience that they were not the right age. (She and Numbuh One went to kindergarten together.) Numbuh 86's incompetance is a big part of her character, sadly...
  • King of the Hill: Hank Hill is definitely this. He's moral, determined and won't give up without a fight...but can be too fond of traditional values over the needs of others, he can be childish and ignorant when someone does something to bug him, he can be a huge stubborn mule when he himself is in the wrong.
    Hank (responding to trash talk during a lawnmower race in "Hank's Back Story"): "Say that again to the back of my head, Mr. non-U.S.-Lawnmower- Association-approved helmet."
  • In one episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender , Aang decides to stand trial for the crimes "he" (or more correctly, a previous Avatar from several centuries ago) did, namely murder a chief of the village. The village made him follow EVERY law and tradition on the matter, using logic that would make trolls blush. Even when the old Avatar appeared before them and explained A. he fell of a cliff when she split off her village from the mainland and B. The man she "murdered" was a conquest thirsty tyrant, they took this as a confession (though, to be fair, said previous Avatar also considers herself responsible for his death). The only thing that stopped them from executing Aang was the sudden appearance of the Fire Nation, which got the punishment changed to public service (namely, defeat the Fire Nation soldiers).
  • It's a central trope of Dudley Do-Right, a Mountie so blindly devoted to the minutia of the law and good behavior that common sense is typically beyond him. A demonstrative example is in the episode where Snidely Whiplash captures Nell from her wedding to Dudley. She manages to send a letter to Dudley asking for help, but he flat-out refuses to open it because there's no stamp on the envelope. Now operating on purest Rule of Funny, he runs to Whiplash's sawmill, where Nell is tied up in the path of a sawblade, convinces her to put a stamp on the envelope, runs back to base, and only then checks the note. He then rushes to the rescuenote  and saves the day. He then arrests Nell for mail fraud due to her using the wrong kind of stamp.
  • The Land of Dreams was a borderline, possibly unintentional case in early points of The Dreamstone. While they are usually only protecting their dream making trinket so that Zordrak can't give them nightmares, they consider the Urpneys the highest form of scum for trying to steal it (despite being meek unwilling slaves who only follow Zordrak's plans out of fear of execution if they don't) and are frequently much more relentless in punishing the villains than vice versa. Later episodes tone them down, though they still retain a very black and white approach.


Lawful GoodKnight In Shining TropesLight 'em Up
    Lawful Stupid, Chaotic StupidChaotic Stupid
Know-Nothing Know-It-AllStupidity TropesLeft Your Lifesaver Behind
Lawful NeutralLoyalty TropesLet The Bully Win
Knight TemplarThe Only Righteous Index of FanaticsMad Bomber
Last of His KindCharacters as DeviceLazy Bum
Chaotic StupidTabletop RPGStupid Good
Laser-Guided AmnesiaOlder Than FeudalismLaw of Inverse Fertility
The Last DJCharacterization TropesLawful Stupid, Chaotic Stupid
The Unspeakable Vault (of Doom)ImageSource/WebcomicsWing Ding Eyes

alternative title(s): Lawful Anal
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