"Miyagi always look for way not to fight. Miyagi hate fighting."
A lot of heroes fight for peace
, justice and all that sort of stuff. Occasionally they believe in violence as a last resort
and as Dirty Business
, following the path of the Martial Pacifist
and falling back on their prodigious martial training only as the very last resort while avoiding unnecessary deaths. The Reluctant Warrior isn't quite so blessed, he lacks the Improbable Aiming Skills
that could make his dealing with them bloodlessly possible
. What's more, he will find himself constantly facing enemies who mean to hurt or kill him and his friends, and who won't pick up a Villain Ball
and dispose of themselves
Nonetheless, they stand by their Actual Pacifist
ideology and continually try to give peace a chance, even when doing so verges on being a Horrible Judge of Character
when offered to irredeemably evil opponents. Sadly, they will still
rack up a body count. Even so, they won't give up trying to hold to their Heroic Vow
, even if it's functionally a Frequently-Broken Unbreakable Vow
. They keep trying since they know that pure pacifism will cause more problems than solve, even if it means having to fight and kill again.
Because of these conflicting impulses, straight heroes who are Reluctant Warriors will spend a lot of time agonizing over their choices and circumstances, but somehow manage to keep the Angst
under control (well, until the villain tries to Break Them by Talking
about their similarities
). An Anti-Hero
who is a Reluctant Warrior (it can
happen) likely has some underlying good goal and means well — for loose definitions
— and nonetheless laments but will not hesitate to use force.
Contrast Suicidal Pacifism
. Compare Heroic Neutral
and Slave Mooks
. Contrast Blood Knight
, who is this trope's exact opposite.
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Anime and Manga
- Saint Seiya has Andromeda Shun, who after four seasons and at least three movies refuses to give up on the idea of non-violently settling problems, and talking to his enemies in the hopes of reasoning with them. He has the unfortunate tendency to combine this noble character with Martyr Without a Cause and almost giving away his life on a few occasions... but when push comes to shove and the enemy proves they are a monster, he will fight and kill them if need be. To his credit, he's caused at least one Heel-Face Turn among his opponents, and held back and throttled a body stealing god through sheer love of peace.
- Mahou Sensei Negima!: So how's the teaching job going, Negi? As the series progresses, he's getting less and less reluctant, getting dangerously close to the edge.
- Goku from Dragon Ball is this (especially the horrible judge of character part) seeing as how he loves to fight but never sets out to kill, even when he is forced to. He actually has the lowest body count in the series, on important characters at least, lest we forget the time he went on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and destroyed the entire Red Ribbon Army when he was a kid (though they DID piss him off really badly by killing Upa's dad, among other deeds). And of course, he kills plenty of people in the movies, though those aren't canon.
- Gohan is another great example especially in the Cell Saga, before Goku dies at least. Gohan refuses to get mad enough to blindly kill Cell in Roaring Rampage of Revenge because he doesn't want to kill anyone. It takes Android 16 deathbed speech about how it is okay to kill to protect the innocent and then subsequent death at Cell's hand to get Gohan to let it loose.
- Hiiragi in Psycho Staff is this. Also, he just wants to be normal and hates fighting.
- Vision of Escaflowne: Van Fanel is constantly told he needs to attack more aggressively — at first...
- Haku of Naruto hated fighting and killing, but also desired nothing more than to see Zabuza's wishes fulfilled. In his final battle, despite having many opportunities to do so, he never struck a fatal point with his senbon despite it significantly extending the battle.
- Shizuo Heiwajima from Durarara!! takes this trope to it's logical extreme: he's a vocal violence-hating pacifist who happens to have Super Strength and a very severe rage disorder that leads him to respond to the mildest irritation with - you guessed it - violence. He is fully aware of the hypocrisy of that statement.
- Gundam Wing: Quatre Raberba Winner doesn't like fighting and doesn't believe in it, but will do it if he has to.
- Gundam SEED: Kira Yamato starts out as a Reluctant Warrior, who tries to spare his enemies, but ends of killing a lot of them. He's eventually able to upgrade to Technical Pacifist, much to the improvement of his mental health. Athrun may qualify in Gundam Seed Destiny.
- Bleach: Kira Izuru believes the true essence of combat is "despair". As such he despises battle, despite the fact that when he actually does fight seriously he's a complete gangster.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: Shinji Ikari. At first, he pilots so that Rei wouldn't have to. Then, he pilots because he want recognition from his estranged father. After Bardiel, he quits because he's afraid of hurting innocents but shortly afterwards, he pilots again because if he doesn't, people will get hurt anyway. Therefore, he has no choice but to sit in that fucking cockpit he hates like no tomorrow.
- Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo parodies this trope with Bojiggler, a Bishōnen warrior that expresses his hatred for fighting by pounding the living daylights out of his enemies.
- In Freezing, Kathy Lockhearte is a sweet, rather meek girl who wants to one day become a novelist and raise a loving family. Too bad for her that she naturally possesses the potential to become the one of the most powerful Pandoras on the planet, and her Jerk Ass father constantly pressured her into becoming the "world's savior" more for to boost his own political career than to actually, well, save the world.
- Simon from Gurren Lagann starts out as one of these. He's only content with working as a miner and isn't happy with Kamina sending him on adventures. Then Kamina dies, leaving him to fend for himself, and by the end he's piloting a mecha capable of punching another mecha into an alternate dimension, where it explodes. Which it does.
- Martian Successor Nadesico: Akito Tenkawa starts off as one, only wanting to serve as a cook aboard the titular ship.
- Yang Wen-li of Legend of Galactic Heroes hates war and violence. However, he is a genius tactician, and living in a turbulent time means he is thrust into action time and time again. Several characters have remarked on the contradiction between his attitude and action.
- Future Diary protagonist Yukiteru starts off as an antisocial wallflower who would prefer to stay out of trouble. Too bad he's in a Battle Royale for godhood with twelve other people, almost all of whom are directly targeting him. The one who isn't is a homicidally-obsessive Yandere. Despite being frequently scared shitless Once an Episode and not being at all enthused about killing, he's killed just as many diary owners as said Yandere girlfriend before Taking A Level In Badass, by which point the trope gets subverted.
- Nanashi in Sword of the Stranger keeps his sword sheathed with a peace knot preventing him from drawing it because he complied to his superior's order to execute a mother and her child during a raid and had nightmares about it ever since. This doesn't stop him from defending himself or Kotaro through other means, including flinging a boiling pot of water over an enemy soldier's head and crushing another's throat with the butt of his sheath.
- Raiden is one of the Lightsworn’s big guns in Yu-Gi-Oh!. He has gone behind enemy lines and taken out plenty of enemy commanders. However, beneath these actions lie his wish for peace, his desire for a swiftly put an end to the conflict.
- Superman tends to try talking things out before resorting to violence, even if it seems clear that the enemy cannot possibly be talked down. Being Nigh Invulnerable helps with this sort of philosophy.
- DC Comics' western character Bat Lash. He's a fairly cheerful Reluctant Warrior, though, who doesn't anguish much about beating up villains, instead maintaining a steady stream of banter about how he did try to avoid a confrontation, and, really, all he wants is to be about his business, but they've forced the issue. And he means it.
- Most of the Autobots in the Transformers franchise don't want to be warriors. Makes sense since most of them were built for civilian purposes. Optimus Prime in particular always has humble origins: dock worker, data clerk, desk jockey police officer, etc. In all adaptations except Transformers Animated where he's a washout cadet who mistakenly thinks War Is Glorious (this ends after his first taste of real war with the Decepticons) he hates war and only fights because the Decepticons have to be stopped no matter the cost. In Transformers: Robots in Disguise he takes advantage of an opportunity to leave Cybertron and explore the universe so he can abandon his identity as "Optimus Prime" forever and rediscover "Orion Pax".
- It is implied in Racer and the Geek that most mercenaries only choose that line of work after exhausting all other options. However, coming to enjoy it is not unheard of.
Live Action TV
- Piffany in Nodwick is perhaps nauseatingly nice, but can and will fight alongside her teammates when faced with the forces of naughtiness.
- Our Little Adventure: Julie, the heroic protagonist hates fighting, especially humans and other humanoid races. She got deeply annoyed when her friends celebrated her popping her 'kill cherry' in this comic page.
- Post-World War 2 Germany as a whole. After the shock of what Just Following Orders can lead to, the new German constitution gave every German citizen the right to refuse military service, to prevent instrumentalization of German people by the occupying powers. In the face of the Cold War, the creation of a new german army was highly controversial and required a legal loophole to reintroduce conscription, despite violating the consitution. It wasn't until the Yugoslaw Wars in the 90s, when genocide was happening right next to EU borders, that German aircraft engaged in combat action, and even that was extremely controversial. Caught in the frenzy of late 2001, Germany supported the invasion of Afghanistan with equipment and technical specialists and later took control of the mostly pacified Northeast in a mission to "provide security for the population and projects for the development of local security forces". A landmark was reached in 2009, when the Minister of Defense first admited that German troops in Afghanistan were dealing with "conditions similar to war", which was criticized by many other politicians, who went to great lengths to reassure that german troops were not involved in any war. At the same time, Germany has the worlds 7th largest defense budget and is the worlds 3rd largest weapons exporter after the US and Russia. While Germany hates to use military force, it's really good at making weaponsnote
- The Karate Kid example above is very much Truth in Television at least among traditional, "serious" practitioners or teachers of Eastern martial arts. Those are primarily present in the respective countries of origin, because in the West, these martial arts are most often treated as sports or mere self-defense mechanisms, focusing only on the combat. However, Eastern martial arts usually come with an entire philosophy attached and many, if not most, of those who practice their respective art traditionally will adhere to core points of these philosophies. Especially in Shotokan karate, the core philosophy is that actual combat should always be the very last resort and deescalation through "diplomacy", or, worst case, non-violent intimidation and other non-violent means should always be tried first. Only when there is no way to avoid a fight at all should the "martial" part come into play. This is part of the self-view of the karate practitioner, since the underlying philosophy teaches virtues such as humility, calmness, respect etc. Many other traditional martial arts are similar, but this component is mostly lacking in their Westernized forms or in MMA.