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Rebellious Rebel
"So spake the Seraph Abdiel, faithful found
Among the faithless, faithful only he;
Among innumerable false, unmoved,
Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified,
His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal;"

John Milton, Paradise Lost

There you have it, a rebellion has been mounted against the oppressive nation. As long as people are mounting up, people will sure come and join the resistance. But wait, why is that nosy little kid complaining about the rebellion? Meet the Rebellious Rebel.

This character is the kind of person who sees the faults in a rebellion, whether it be that the rebels are no better than the oppressors themselves, or that they were wrong in rebelling from the beginning. He breaks off from the already existing rebellion to act against said rebellion. Often, but not always, this means appealing to their original superiors from the faction the rebellion acted against from the beginning, reasoning that the rebellion was unjustified from the beginning. Others start their own resistance, fighting against both The Empire and the original rebellion, knowing that the empire deserved to be brought to justice, but also that the methods of the original resistance cannot be justified either.

This is usually triggered by some kind of immoral action of the rebel leader who defected in the first place. Either by Character Development or just revealed to be a real bastard beneath his nice demeanor, he will end up having some sort of Kick the Dog moment to make the Rebellious Rebel call this out to the leader and leave the rebellion, or depending on the setting, get killed for wronging their superiors.

Usually found in military situations, but not always. Compare Anti-Mutiny, where the leader is disloyal and his subordinates arrest him for it, and The Last DJ, whose conflicts with his superiors are chronic, who has no superior to his superiors he could appeal to, but generally faces nothing worse than Reassigned to Antarctica. Contrast Dangerous Deserter.

By the way, this is more or less the definition of antidisestablishmentarianism; those against those against the establishment of a state religion, but not necessarily associated with the government itself.

See also Anti Anti Christ, Enemy Civil War, Divided We Fall; this trope clearly pits a hero against a villain. Compare White Sheep.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga  
  • In Code Geass, the Black Knights desert Zero after finding out some of his secrets, although they were manipulated so that they thought he had betrayed them.
    • This worked because the Black Knights were Too Dumb to Live to realize that if Zero had really done what they thought he had, they'd literally be incapable of even thinking about turning on him.
      • And finding out about the Special Zone?
      • The point still stands, given the only "evidence" they have is a voice recording from Lelouch basically saying "I did it" in a dull, emotionless tone. The technology to doctor something like that almost certainly exists in the Code Geass Universe, and none of the Black Knights but Kallen have ever heard Lelouch's real voice. And she wasn't even asked to comment before they made a decision! And worse yet, it was a small extract of a much longer conversation that involved Suzaku realising that Lelouch was lying to him, and they didn't bother asking to speak with Suzaku, who was the one the evidence was taken from.
      • Of course, the Black Knights were a legal organisation by this point, so they were just mutineers.
    • Also Suzaku. He rebels just about any rebellion possible until, well... he doesn't anymore and he gets with the program.
    • In the early stages of its existence, The Order of the Black Knights could already be considered this, since, like Lelouch pointed out to the first members of the Black Knights, traditional terrorism doesn't accomplish anything. This resulted in saving a number of Britannian hostages from a fellow terrorist organization as their first public appearance, so that they could declare themselves as "champions of justice" and gain public support.
      • The aforementioned hostage-taking by the Japan Liberation Front was itself this trope, as it was undertaken by a small clique led by Kusakabe and not approved by the JLF leadership, who preferred the idea of a guerilla war against Britannia.
  • In Chrono's backstory in Chrono Crusade, he was originally fully behind the Sinner's rebellion against demon society. However, he couldn't agree with Aion's tactics and ended up rebelling against the Sinners, and eventually joined The Magdalene Order.

    Comics 
  • Soames from DMZ was originally a soldier for one side in a Divided States of America situation, who intended to defect from the rebels back over to US army. On the way to do so, he got an infection, had a vision, and decided to enjoy the freedom of being on neither side instead. By the time the story begins, he has an entire squad of soldiers who have joined him.
  • Jack Frost of The Invisibles had shades of this at first, being so anarchist he rejected even the minimal and fluid authority of a cell of the Invisibles.

    Literature 
  • Animorphs has David.
  • The Obernewtyn Chronicles has two groups of these.
    • A passive version is Gilaine and the other Misfits in the Druid’s camp. The Druid is rebelling against the Council but is if anything more fanatically opposed to Misfits.
    • After the Battlegames, the Obernewtyn Misfits become this to the main rebellion, and force them to look closer at what their plans actually involve.
  • John Milton's Paradise Lost has one angel, Abdiel, in Satan's legions refuse to join his rebellion.
  • In Warhammer 40,000's Horus Heresy, Horus's attack on the Marines on Isstvan IV was motivated to prevent this. The survivors were uncommonly enthusiatic about opposing him and the rest of the treacherous forces thereafter; they bogged them down for months.
  • In Winning Colors, treasonous senior officers try to use their ship; their juniors realize the treachery and mutiny. (Leading to a very junior officer being in command.)
  • In Gav Thorpe's Warhammer 40,000 story "Renegades", when Gessart decides to take their company renegade, several Marines speak against him and are murdered. Later, another one, Rykhel, takes a saviour pod from their ship in hopes of getting back with news of their treachery; Gessart is enraged that he didn't speak up when challenged, and though they are fleeing the danger that Rykhel is going into, he claims that he fled from fear.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's The Roads Must Roll, when the workers are organizing their strike on the grounds that transportion being so necessary, they should use their clout for extortion, one worker objects that the terms of their employment are not actually oppressive; when the strike actually occurs, he goes to the boss to offer his help. The strikers murder him in a parlay.
    • In The Long Watch, Interplanetary Patrol Lieutenant John Dahlquist, after a superior attempts to recruit him into a coup attempt, instead makes a Heroic Sacrifice by barricading himself in the nuclear armory and manually disabling all the nuclear weapons, taking a fatal dose of radiation in the process. He dies alone, sitting by the door he barricaded. Radiation levels are so high that robots must be used to recover his body and put it in a lead coffin for a hero's funeral.
  • In Ben Counter's Warhammer 40,000 novel Soul Drinker, not all the Soul Drinkers are bewildered by Chaos — particularly not the young ones. Sarpedon and the others hunt them down. (Which gives Sarpedon particularly painful memories when he realizes they were right.)
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Deus Encarmine, Koris and other respected veterans argue against the manifestation and that they should remain loyal to their chapter master, which is why Stele uses sorcery to throw them into the Black Thirst and their deaths. Later, in Deus Sanguinius, Rafen fights against Arkio's claims to authority against even their Chapter Master and Chapter.
  • In David Brin's The Uplift War, the chimp forces challenge their planet's invaders to face them with equal forces. The enemy commander orders an all-out attack, contrary to the laws of warfare, and a subordinate kills him. On hearing of it, the invader's leader immediately conveys a pardon to the subordinate.
  • In a rare Lawful Evil/Chaotic Evil variant, in Ben Counter's Daemon World, the Word Bearers, traitor Space Marines, have come to the planet to hunt down a renegade Word Bearer; if they allowed anyone to leave them, their Legion would fall apart.
  • Garm Bel Iblis from The Thrawn Trilogy is an unusually mild example. He was a major part of the young Rebel Alliance and split with it because, after Bail Organa's death on Alderaan, he saw Mon Mothma as gathering more and more power to herself and her closest allies. His smaller, separate rebellion didn't get in the other one's way, but harassed the Empire on its own. Even after Mon Mothma's Rebellion won and reformed into the New Republic, he stayed away, seeing his former ally seem to consolidate power even further. But when someone from the New Republic needed rescue, he did it, and accepted the formal invitation to join. Not long after, he saw why Mon Mothma did as she did. Not for personal power, but because so few people could be trusted with the responsibility of billions of lives.
  • David Weber's Empire from the Ashes series has a variation on this trope, as applied to a mutiny. Some of Anu's mutineers rebel in horror when they realize his true, megalomaniacal motives and spend the rest of their lives trying to make right their mistake, forming a third faction that watches over the descendants over the original loyalists to the Captain (aka the Human race).
  • Early on in the Honor Harrington series, the Havenite Legislaturalist Regime is overthrown by the Committee of Public Safety. After cleaning house of all "subversive elements" in the Navy (who they blamed the rebellion on) and instituting a tyrannical rule (still labeling themselves as "rebels") they manage to upset many surviving Navy personnel. The remainder stay quiet for most of the series, but then the truth of the rebellion comes out.
  • Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, especially since she never meant to start a rebellion in the first place. On top of that, in Mockingjay, she really doesn't care much for President Coin, and the feeling is mutual.
  • Zig Zagged in the Discworld novel Night Watch; Sam Vimes is sent 30 years back in time and takes the place of his old mentor, John Keel. The city is on the brink of a bloody rebellion that will replace the Patrician with one who, in hindsight, is just as bad. With three decades more life experience than his also present younger self, Vimes can see the rebellion clearly as a sham, and has no more patience with the rebels than the authorities. He still has to play the part that the original Keel did, however, in order to preserve the timeline, but concentrates on just protecting a few streets from needless bloodshed. The zig-zagging is in him considering whether this was true of the real Keel as well; they performed nearly the same actions, but young Vimes thought Keel was a genuine revolutionary, and only now realizes that may not have been the case.
    Vimes: I was just a young fool, I didn't see it like this. I thought Keel was leading the revolution. I wonder if that's what he thought, too?

     Live Action TV 

    Religion and Mythology 
  • The Bible includes a minor figure named Mered, whose name means "rebel." Jewish tradition identifies him with Caleb, because when ten of the twelve spies rebelled against Moses, he (along with Joshua) remained faithful and "rebelled" against them.
    • Korah also leads a rebellion against Moses, and he and all his followers die from it; however, the Bible specifically notes that Korah's sons survived. Traditionally they abandoned their father's side just before God smote everybody else.

     Video Games 
  • Jim Raynor from StarCraft is a borderline case in that he only leaves La Résistance when it has already defeated The Empire through dubious means, and begins its transition into the '''new''' Empire. He becomes the new Resistance, and throughout StarCraft 2 his major worry is that he'll turn out just as corrupt as his former allies.
  • In World of Warcraft, the Argent Dawn is an offshoot of the Scarlet Crusade, which initially split from the Church of Light because the latter was unable to deal with the undead threat. The Argent Dawn split off when it turned out that the Crusade had crossed over from Church Militant to Fantastic Racism and Religion of Evil.
  • Pretty much the entire point of Red Faction 2. You start the game as part of a mercenary group who are trying to oust the corrupt government of Earth. Then it turns out that the head of the mercenary group just wants the secret nanotech weaponry/cybernetics for himself, and wants to take over the whole planet. Cue you and a couple buddies defecting to save Earth from him.
  • Supreme Commander 2: Thalia and her brother see themselves as trying to liberate the Illuminate from UEF control, but later after siding with the Cybran terrorist Gauge, he reveals that all that they have been doing are terrorist acts for his gain. The last mission has them trying to stop Gauge and the Royal Guardian terrorists.

    Western Animation 
  • The alternate dimension version of Buford in Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension. It's not that he has a problem with the rebellion; he just likes rebelling.
    Candace-2: Buford, keep resisting.
    Buford-2: No.
    Candance-2: Good.
  • On The Legend of Korra, non-bender Asami Sato defies her father and refuses to join the Equalist rebellion with him against Benders.

     Real Life 
  • In The American Civil War, shortly after Virginia voted to secede from the union, the counties in the area now known as West Virginia voted to secede from the state. Much Virginian outrage ensued.
    • The western half of Virginia had been pushing to form its own state as early as 1820, the secession just gave them the opportunity to put one of their representatives in the vacant position in Washington and declare it official.
    • One Virginia officer in the US Army at the time war broke out, George H. Thomas, remained loyal to the Union — which causes Virginian opponents to criticize his disloyalty.
    • Andrew Johnson was the only Southern senator to remain loyal to the Union. In his own words: "Though I fought against Lincoln I love my country. I love the Constitution and swear that it and the Union will be saved as Old Hickory Jackson did in 1832. Senators, my blood, my existence I would give to save this Union." As you might expect, the South reviled him as a traitor while the North hailed him as a hero (and nominated him to be Lincoln's Vice President in 1864).
      • The North stopped hailing him as a hero, though, when he wanted to "go easy on" what they viewed to be the "traitorous" South during Reconstruction. He became one of only two U.S. presidents in history to have the House of Representatives vote to Impeach him. Most historians now consider this to be a grave miscarriage of justice.
    • Near the end of the Civil War, Georgia became disgruntled with the direction the Confederate government was headed, and attempted to secede from the Confederacy and go it alone as an independent country.
    • Really, going into detail about every incidence of this in the American Civil War would fill up pages and pages. To summarize it, there were so many insurgents, guerrillas, and rebels in Confederate territory that, for all practical purposes, the Confederate government was only actually in control of about half of its claimed territory in Spring 1865 (when the capital at Richmond fell, after which point the "Confederate Government" was practically a nonentity). There were literally hundreds of counties all across the Confederacy in open, declared rebellion, some of them as early as 1861, and that's not counting the thousands of small guerrilla bands that sprung up throughout Confederate territory. They were numerous enough that, even if the South had won the war, they likely would have collapsed into a civil war of their own almost immediately afterwards.
    • In fact, Unionists from every Confederate state except South Carolina sent regiments north to the Union Army.
  • A good example of that possible scenario in the American Revolution can be seen in the tragic and prolonged cycle of the Mexican Revolution(s), in which it was usually the same band of warlords (most famously, Francisco "Pancho" Villa) rising up against the corrupt government to depose it, and placing one of their own in charge... who would eventually be seen as corrupt by his former friends, starting the cycle anew. This went on for decades.
  • During The American Revolution, about 15 to 20% of the American colonists were loyalists/Tories who remained loyal to Great Britain. When the Patriots finally won the Revolution, the loyalist losers were... not treated well by supporters of independence.
    • A third of those people left, mostly for Canada; these people were given the title United Empire Loyalist, which to this day is used as an unofficial hereditary honour by their descendants. The atrocities on both sides were overwhelmingly between loyalists/patriots and rebels/republicans, too.
    • Benedict Arnold. Of course, his reasons were feeling unappreciated and having mounting bills.
      • Most of the reasons given were to discredit Benedict Arnold for his defection. He was almost universally considered to be the best general in the Continental Army. Politically connected officers, over a period of several years, launched all sorts of personal attacks against Arnold, including numerous unjustified court martials and investigations. In addition, he was passed over by numerous incompetent, but politically connected officers for larger commands and was saddled with numerous dead end assignments. Unlike many other officers in the Continental Army, Benedict Arnold was one of the few that joined under idealistic reasons. The Continental Congress, in his instance, acted with all the same vices and flaws they accused the British Parliament of committing. In the end, Benedict Arnold was convinced there was no difference between the two and the British were willing to promote him on merit despite his lack of political influence with Parliament.
  • "If Canada is divisible, so is Quebec" was the main argument that was used against Quebec's secession plans in the 1990s. The resource-rich (and First Nations-dominated) north threatened to secede from Quebec and rejoin Canada; various other bits (mostly English-speaking communities near the borders, but noises were made in emphatically-francophone Montreal itself) did the same.
  • The conflict in Bosnia evolved this way, with Serbs wanting to go out of it after it went out of Yugoslavia. Kosovo faces the same problem.
  • This also happened a lot in post-USSR time.
    • And in Ukraine during World War II. Quite a number of West Ukrainians refused to fight for either the Soviets or the Nazis, instead fighting both for Ukrainian independence.
      • Ukraine was even more complicated during the Russian Civil War. In addition to the Red (Bolshevik) Army and the White (Monarchist, Reactionary) Army, there was also the Green (anti-Bolshevik socialist) Army, the Black (Anarchist) Army and various Ukranian nationalists as well.
      • Though it's slightly less complicated than it sounds; the Red, Black and Green Armies, while not really allied, largely left each other alone until they'd defeated the Whites.
    • Che Guevara was disappointed that the USSR backed downed on the Cuban Missile Crisis, and sought to spread communism his way. His actions caused the USSR to distance themselves from him, his exploits in Congo was an utter failure and he finally met his end at Bolivia.
    • The American Communist Party ended its longstanding support for the Soviet Union in 1989. Because after decades of blindly supporting Soviet militarism and gulags, it was glasnost and perestroika which was going too far.
  • In the Vietnam War hill tribes like the Montagnards and the Hmong declared against the Communists because VC supply routes happened to go across their ancestral lands. In their case they formed what amounted to a La Résistance to La Résistance.
  • It is a general rule of rebellions in general that the rebels will be fighting rebels against it. This applies even in normal democratic factionalism dressed up in the language of rebellion; someone who ends up not supporting a given special interest can be called a Category Traitor.
  • Lots of them in Syria, mostly due to Free Syrian Army's very own atrocities.
  • When a petition was formed asking for Texas to secede from the Union after the reelection of Barack Obama, a similar petition was created asking for the city of Austinnote  to secede back to the U.S.


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