Only the Pure of Heart

Oscar: [heads toward a wall at top speed] I'm gonna die!
Glinda: It's a magic wall. Only those who are pure of heart may pass through it.
Oscar: ...I'm gonna die!

Some things are just too good to let everybody get their hands on; they might be too rare, too dangerous or maybe just too evil to start dishing out all willy nilly. However, people with pure hearts will have the chance to access things less purehearted people cannot, such as:

  • The ability to wield certain weapons or other magical items.
  • The power to cast certain spells.
  • Immunity to certain enchantments or dark powers.
  • Heroic Willpower, by default.
  • The ability to harm creatures and beings of evil.

Note that despite the heavy-handed Aesop, pure good is usually portrayed as extremely difficult both to attain and maintain: Just as Virgin Power requires that you Can't Have Sex, Ever, any small stumbling will destroy your powers, too (even if it is in mind only).

Occasionally Pure Is Not Good and the pure evil characters pass muster as well.

It may be a naive Wide-Eyed Idealist, which makes him/her easily exploitable by the bad guys.

Subtrope of Phlebotinum-Handling Requirements. Compare Only the Knowledgable May Pass, Only Smart People May Pass, Only the Worthy May Pass, Children Are Innocent. Related to Fantastic Aesop.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In the Dragon Ball series, neither Master Roshi nor Krillin can hope to ride Goku's Flying Nimbus because Krillin stole dirty magazines for Roshi, but a few other characters more pure of heart apparently can. Gohan, Goten, Chichi (at least as a child), and (in a tellingly specific way) "Good" Lunch but not Bulma. As one might expect from shounen, this isn't a Virgin Power; Goku mainly stops riding because he and many other characters simply fly on their own.
    • In Cross Epoch, a crossover with One Piece, Luffy rides the Nimbus as well.
    • Goku's pure heart also renders him immune to Devilman's ultimate move, the Devilmite Beam, which works by causing the negative thoughts in a person's mind to explode.
    • At one point it's mentioned that only someone of a pure heart can become a Super Saiyan. Vegeta then explains he was capable of it because his heart is pure evil. Which is strange, because Vegeta is a surprisingly nice guy by the series' end. A Proud Warrior Race Guy with Blood Knight tendencies and a bad Jerkass streak, but still a pretty decent guy overall. Though it's not uncommon in Dragon Ball for former villains to insist they're still evil, even if it's not actually fooling anyone.
      • The trick with becoming a Super Saiyan is a combination of purity and rage. So you have to be pure, and then something has to piss you off in a big way. Emotional bursts flares up one's Ki, and causes the transformation; the purer and kinder the individual, the more potent the rage-burst when it happens (potentially explaining why Vegeta had such a hard time - he's always angry, so him raging isn't that big an emotional burst). It's sort of an extreme case of Break the Cutie combined with Unstoppable Rage that turns into a Beware the Nice Ones. Once you manage to get to Super Saiyan, though, maintaining or improving it isn't a big deal.
      • "The power comes from a NEED, not a desire", in Vegeta's case he ended up putting himself in an EXTREMELY dangerous position while training in order to FORCE himself to need the power just to survive. It might sound crazy, but consider that he probably wouldn't want to live anymore anyways if he couldn't pull it off after seeing Goku achieve it.
      • The Spirit Bomb can only be used by someone of pure heart as well. Notably, when Goku enters the Super Saiyan state, he's unable to use it, because the Super Saiyan state taints his heart with rage and bloodlust. This restriction persists even after he masters the Super Saiyan state and is able to act perfectly calm while in it. Cell was able to use the Spirit Bomb in one of the video games, because apparently, like Vegeta, he was pure of heart, in that he was pure evil.
  • In the third season of Sailor Moon, the purity of the heart can be extracted as a crystal. The Big Bad guys, called the Death Busters, as well as Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune are searching for three specific Pure Heart Crystals that contain powerful treasures known as Talismans. When the three Talismans come together, they produce the Holy Grail, which could either purify the world or put the world into eternal silence, depending on who's hands it falls into (The Messiah of Light or the Messiah of Silence)
    • The Holy Grail reacts with the Silver Crystal, essentially giving Sailor Moon her first power-up, into Super Sailor Moon. Because of this, they initially thought Sailor Moon was the Messiah of Light, but this theory died quickly when Sailor Moon proved she couldn't handle the immense power of the Holy Grail.
    • After Mistress 9, the Messiah of Darkness, allows the Final Big Bad, Pharaoh 90, to absorb the Grail, she explains to Sailor Moon that the grail is the Crystal of the purest heart in existence, and the only way to save the world now was to produce a heart of greater purity. Hotaru eventually takes her body back from Mistress 9 and awakens as Sailor Saturn. She goes off to fight Pharaoh 90 at the cost of her own life.
    • Saddened by the possibility of losing Hotaru, Sailor Moon produces her own Pure Heart Crystal with the help of the other Sailor Soldiers. She transforms into Super Sailor Moon and helps Sailor Saturn defeat Pharaoh 90 before he can plunge the world into eternal silence.
    • Minako was initially worried that her heart wasn't pure after the Death Busters targetted the rest of the Sailor Senshi. She became very cheerful after the Death Busters attacked her and extracted her heart crystal...until she collapsed because her spiritual heart had just been ripped out.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, the RX-0 Unicorn Gundam can only be used by someone who is pure of heart and has good intentions. How this actually works is unknown. Note that this is only true in the novel: the OVA makes no such mention of any such system, and the reason only Banagher can pilot it is because the Unicorn was registered to his DNA in the first episode as a security measure.
  • It isn't actual purity per se, but Luffy's total lack of lust in One Piece grants him complete immunity from Boa Hancock's Love-Love powers.
  • In one of the manga adaptations of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Link's pure heart shields him from being transformed by the Dark World. To a lesser extent, Ganty seems to be somewhat shielded as well; she was transformed, but unlike the rest of the cursed people, she can shapeshift between her transformed form and her normal form at will. Of course, that doesn't mean Link's heart can't be tainted by rage and hate, which Agahnim tries to use to his advantage.

    Comic Books 
  • Only the purest and most devoted of warriors can even lift the hammer of Thor (as depicted in the Marvel Universe, anyway), and fewer can actually use it. The list of people who can do this is very short (though Beta Ray Bill, Captain America and an unnamed paramedic have been seen to manage it, and Deadpool got his hands on a pretty close copy) and Thor himself lost the ability during The Reigning, when he veered into serious Knight Templar territory. Beta Ray Bill temporarily lost the ability to wield his own hammer Stormbreaker which has the same enchantment after his quest for vengeance against Galactus for eating his homeworld ventured into He Who Fights Monsters territory.
    • Notably, during the DC crossover JLA/Avengers, Wonder Woman can manage it but not Superman. (Supes used the hammer, but only because Odin lifted the restriction due to the critical situation; afterwards Thor explains this, but also remarks that it's never been in worthier hands.) It's been suggested that a certain warrior spirit is also required to wield it (Thor and Odin being Norse gods, after all), which Wonder Woman certainly has, at least in comparison to that boy scout Farm Boy.
    • In Original Sin, Nick Fury whispers something to Thor that instantly makes Mjolnir find not only Thor, but every single Asgardian, unworthy of it.
    • Oh, it gets better. In AXIS, Loki becomes worthy of Mjolnir as an effect of being Inverted (i.e. Heel-Face Turned).
  • In Justice Society of America, Power Girl was specifically told that Stargirl, not she, had to defeat the King of Tears, because purity of heart was needed. (Earlier in the same story, Stargirl had her heart broken because a villain had needed her love to cast a spell for her purity of heart.)
  • In both the Marvel and DC universes, reigning Lords of Hell (Mephisto and Neron respectively) have attempted to ensnare the most incorruptibly pure souls only to be unable to actually HOLD them in Hell because of that very same trait. The souls in question? Silver Surfer and Captain Marvel (again respectively)

  • The Golden Child's immunity to being harmed by Sardo Numspa's demonic forces is based entirely on him maintaining his innocence. Even the slightest slip, such as drinking blood, would be enough to allow him to be slain. So they lock him in a cage with no food, hoping to wear down his resistance. Given that he's a Buddhist monk (and managed to sneak some leaves along with him), he holds out for just long enough to be rescued.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail. "He who is valiant and pure of spirit may find the Holy Grail in the Castle of Aaaaaauuuuggghhh..."
  • In Highlander: The Source it was revealed that the prize the immortals fought for was claimable only by virtue, rather than strength. This, of course, made the millenia of immortals killing each other to gain the strength to claim the prize a bit pointless. Also the fact that the prize was the ability to have children.

  • Eriond from The Malloreon is this trope personified. Despite (apparently) having no power to speak of, being pure and innocent enough to be one of three people in the entire world who can touch the Orb of Aldur without being destroyed, and being inoffensive as milk, evil is incapable of harming him. The quintessential example of this comes when he stands in front of the Big Bad who has shapeshifted into a dragon and emerges completely unscathed from her fire. It helps that his ultimate destiny is to become a God.
  • The Silmarillion: Evil and tainted-by-evils characters cannot touch the Silmarils without getting burned. Morgoth put them into his crown and it's said that the burns continued to hurt him forever.
  • Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain. When Taran first tries to wield the sword Dyrnwyn in The Book of Three, he's blasted by its power. In The High King he's able to use Dyrnwyn to destroy the Cauldron born and Arawn Death Lord. Dyrnwyn has an inscription: "Draw Dyrnwyn, only thou of noble worth, to rule with justice, to strike down evil. Who wields it in good cause shall slay even the Lord of Death." When Taran first drew Dyrnwyn he was a callow youth. When he drew it the second time he had matured into a noble man.
  • In Hannu Rajaniemi's The Fractal Prince, Matjek, questioned about why he appears like a child, says that innocence is the key to the Kaminair jewel — and when he had thought Christianity ridiculous.
  • In Madeleine E Robins's Sold For Endless Rue, Crescia enjoins Laura to keep everything scrupulous clean, and keep washing her hands, and make up the brews in clean pots — no soap traces, even. She explains it as how the saints love purity, so they must keep things pure to invoke their aid. Later, after Laura's seduction, she explains that Laura would have had to remain a virgin to follow her.
  • In Jack Campbell's The Lost Fleet novel Guardian, the ships they find keeping patrol on Earth refuse to them pass because of some impurity, which they do not define well, but this purity does obsess them.
  • In The Dresden Files, only the pure of heart may wield a Sword of the Cross; if someone who isn't picks one of the blades up, it only acts as a normal, somewhat dingy sword. We meet several Knights of the Cross in the series, and all of them are different shades of the Messianic Archetype. (Incidentally, belief in God is not required; the wielder must simply be honest, faithful, and truly devoted to helping mankind, even at the cost of their lives.) This is a good thing, as the Swords are extremely powerful weapons that can slay nearly any being, human or supernatural, when fully empowered.
    • It should be noted that the swords' stringent requirements are also constant, and their Fatal Flaw; if a Knight lies, hurts innocents, or kills without very good reason, their Knight abilities are instantly lost, and the sword they bear has a chance of breaking. Once broken, a sword can never be fixed, and one of humanity's greatest weapons against evil is destroyed. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero. However, there is hope. Even after an improper use and lose of the Sword's power, Michael Carpenter would remind Harry that the key aspect in any of the Swords is not sword but the trait it represents. When the Sword of Faith was depowered and broken in an improper usage, it was reconstituted when a worthy man grabbed it and reformed in the shape of his faith.
  • Raziel from The Mortal Instruments will only help those with pure intentions, such as Jonathan Shadowhunter. In City of Glass, out of total displeasure at Valentine's dream, Raziel swiftly kills him.

     Live Action TV 
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Under Zedd and Rita's castle on the moon is the Cave of Deception, where the mythical Zeo Crystal is held, but surrounded by a force field. Only one pure of heart can grab the crystal from inside it; any one else will be destroyed if they try. Tommy goes down to try to steal it, but he's worried that there is still a lingering amount of evil in his heart from when he was brainwashed in season 1. When he grabs the crystal, he is hurt a bit, but ultimately manages to grab the crystal, proving that he truly is pure.
  • The Wizards of Waverly Place movie. "The path will only reveal itself to those whose intentions are pure".
  • On Grimm, the only way to lift Juliet's curse is a kiss by someone who is pure of heart. This is difficult to do these days, so they do it chemically via a potion that purifies your heart. Unsurprisingly, this has some lingering psychological effects. Like obsessing over the person you kissed...
  • This comes up a few times during the last two seasons of Stargate SG-1. In the season 9 premiere, both knowledge and "truth of spirit" are required to access Merlin's hidden treasures. Comes up again the following season when "only those of virtue true may win the prize concealed beyond the reach of the flawed and tainted"; ie, only those with truth of spirit can access the Sangraal. This proves to be true when Adria discovers she can't use her Ori mind powers during the quest for the Sangraal and she is left behind when the others are teleported away during the journey.
  • In Xena: Warrior Princess, in the Season 5 episode "Chakram", only the purest soul could obtain the Chakram of Light (which could kill gods). Xena, newly reborn and innocent, was the only one who could do it.

    Myths & Religion 

  • In The Bible, Jesus indicates that only the pure of heart would get to Heaven in several occasions. One of them is in the Sermon of the Mount: "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God." (St. Matthew, 5:8). Another one is in St. Matthew 18:3: "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven."
  • According to Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the kingdom of Shambhala can be accessed only by those who are enlightened and spiritually pure.

     Tabletop Games  
  • A Dungeons & Dragons style Paladin is granted their powers through their dedication to their path. In previous editions, violating their code of conduct or changing alignment away from Lawful Good could result in their powers being taken away temporarily or for good; this is no longer true in 4th edition, where paladins can start out with any alignment (as long as it exactly matches that of their patron deity) and their powers are no longer simply revokable, making paladins who stray from the path a bigger headache for other followers of the same faith.
    • Similarly, Paladins in Quest for Glory were powered by how Honorable they are.
    • In D&D 3.5, evil clerics could not cast Good spells, lawful clerics could not cast Chaotic spells, and so on (giving True Neutral the best spell selection in the core). Furthermore, in some supplements there were Corrupt spells which only evil characters could cast and Sanctified spells which only good characters could cast.
      • Eberron averts the normal restrictions on Good, Evil, Lawful, and Chaotic spells, though gives no specific ruling as to what the rules are concerning Sanctified and Corrupt spells.
  • Hackmaster naturally takes it Up to Eleven. The GM guide contains a full-page graph on which the GM is supposed to plot each character's alignment infractions on two axes. Character's actions are considered to move their alignment by a certain amount towards a certain alignment. One character class (Knight Errant) even has a certain innate resistance to alignment changes.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has Pure Faith for the Sisters of Battle that allows them to perform certain miracles. Whether a bunch of holier-than-thou Knight Templars who tend to apply Kill It with Fire to everyone less holy if given the chance can be considered to "lack evil in their hearts" is another question...
    • It also seems odd, given that half of everyone else in the entire universe are like that, but don't have such powers.
    • Keep in mind that in this universe, "magic" and "psychic powers" are pretty much the same thing. In the Sisters' case, it's not that they lack "evil," but rather they lack "doubt"; their faith in the Emperor is so unwaveringly strong, even though they're not (all) Psykers their combined faith is able to direct some tiny fragment of the Emperor's power to the battlefield. Other times, they're using "weapons/armor of faith" that they THINK are magic, but that's only because the Mechanicum tells them they are.
  • In Blue Rose, there's a magical artifact that makes sure Only The Pure Of Heart become nobles in The Kingdom of Aldis. It only works once on any given person, though, so there's nothing stopping nobles from becoming corrupt after they pass the test.

     Video Games  
  • Mega Man in the Mega Man Battle Network 4 and 5 has "Light" Mega Man. If you've never used a Dark Chip except for Plot required moments, he eventually is able to achieve "Full Synchro" with Lan more easily (in 4) and is able to use certain chips that he couldn't otherwise.
    • This applies the other way too: when Mega Man uses Dark Chips he becomes Dark Mega Man, and he can use DS chips and others that are based in darkness like Static.
  • In Ultima, the Avatar character class can equip any weapon, any armor, and cast magic. This originally required a Karma Meter, or 8 of them.
  • Kairi of Kingdom Hearts and the other Disney Princesses, as they are the only beings in the world(s) that have no darkness in their hearts and therefore are the only ones allowed to open the door to Kingdom Hearts, the center of all the worlds and greatest kingdom in existence. They also have the ability to send their hearts into other bodies for safe keeping causing their body to remain comatose but magically protected until it's returned.
    • Birth By Sleep gives us Ventus, who had the darkness in his heart forcibly removed. This caused him to have nothing but light allowing him the same privileges the princesses have including access to Kingdom Hearts, as well as the ability to seal his heart in another being which he does with Sora at the end of the game.
    • Sora also deserves mention here, as the purity and braveness within his heart is what makes him the keyblade bearer. In fact, certain interpretations of a line in Jiminy's journal indicates that Riku would have been the keyblade bearer, but he allowed darkness into his heart, so it snubbed him. Thus, Riku was only able to obtain a keyblade later by transforming his sword into one; how exactly he did that isn't really explained.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, particularly the second installment, having high Light or Dark Side scores affected not only dialogue but the Force Point cost of Light and Dark Force powers. Also, some items could only be wielded by adepts of a particular side and there were even a few restricted to "Grey Jedi", i.e. Force users who don't venture too far into either extreme. Lastly, the sequel had a lightsaber crystal that changed its properties as your Karma Meter rating grew.
  • The Triforce in The Legend of Zelda is bound by such rules. The Triforce will grant a wish to anyone whose heart is balanced with power, wisdom, and courage. If someone is not, then the Triforce will break apart into its component triangles—the person who touched it will get the piece that corresponds most to themselves, while the other two go and find someone else who shows a great affinity for that component. Hence Ganondorf gets Power, Zelda gets the Triforce of Wisdom, and Link the Triforce of Courage. The Triforce can be recompiled after this and the wish can be carried out once it is.
    • Another restriction on the Triforce is that only mortals may use it. The three Goddesses intentionally created the relic such that no being of divine power could use it.
    • The Master Sword was also like this originally. That restriction came back around in Skyward Sword. When the blade is blessed by the goddess, it is said that only Link may now wield it.
  • In Disgaea: Hour of Darkness: Vyers The Dark Adonis Mid-Boss can touch Flonne's pendant (which harms evil) without being punished. He says that "the heavens wouldn't punish such a pure heart as mine". This is foreshadowing, as he is King Krichevskoi, and working with Seraph Lamington in a Batman Gambit (it depends on the actions of the player) to make his son a better person (or demon), and unite the netherworld and Celestia.
  • In Fate/stay night, rejecting the physical corruption of The Grail requires a truly pure heart and those who are not are consumed by the corruption. Notably, the only person in the show who's able to shake it off without effect is Gilgamesh, a self-centred sociopath who is so beyond human that he cannot regard humans as anything but possessions.
  • In Jak II: Renegade the only one who can open the Precursor Stone is young Jak, because he still has "the pure gift". It won't open for the older Jak because he was corrupted by Dark Eco through the experiments in prison.
  • In Skullgirls, only a pure-hearted woman can make a wish on the Skullheart without being turned into a Humanoid Abomination.
  • In Harry The Handsome Executive, you must prove that you are "pure of spirit and blameless of heart" by emptying your weapons before proceeding, leading to a No-Gear Level.
  • In Watcher's Keep in Baldur's Gate 2, there is a pillar on the third floor that gives, when touched, a warning that only the pure may uncover the secret. Any Lawful Good characters then touching the pillar get a powerful sword, put there by a righteous hero who infused his essence into it. Anyone else gets an Abi Dhalzim's Horrid Wilting thrown at them, this being a powerful spell that can decimate entire parties, especially those of a low level.


    Western Animation 
  • The MacGuffin in one episode of Samurai Jack. It would probably have accepted Jack, but the travelling companion who led him there in the first place was Aku in disguise.
    • Jack's sword as well: in one episode, it's taken by Aku, who then chases Jack down and stabs him with it, only to fail. Jack then remembers that the sword can be held by anyone, but only when wielded by the pure of heart can it be used as a weapon. And it can never hurt those who are pure of heart themselves.
  • The Winx girls in Winx Club poured fairy dust from their wings onto themselves to cleanse themselves of darkness and to gain access to the Golden Kingdom, as only the pure of heart were allowed to enter.
  • In How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the Grinch learns the true meaning of Christmas and forsakes his grinchy ways, which makes his heart grow three sizes, thus breaking the narrator's Heart Size indicator, and he somehow gains super strength and a glow as a result.
  • Care Bears: Grandma once told Hugs and Tugs a tale about an Evil Queen (Shreeky) who wanted a magic lamp so she could rule the whole world instead of just her kingdom. However, as her Captain of the Guard (Mr. Beastly) pointed out, the lamp was being guarded by a dragon and only the pure of heart can have it.
  • Daphne is kidnapped by the antagonist of Scooby-Doo! Music of the Vampire, as he seeks a person of beauty and is pure of heart. Velma gets in a strange snark upon hearing this.
    Velma: You know, I'm pure of heart. Does anyone ever think of kidnapping me??

Alternative Title(s):

Nimbus Privileges, Purity Privileges, Only The Pure In Heart