Rightly Self-Righteous

So let's say we have a character who comes across as extremely self-righteous, touting his or her moral standing as above that of most others. Surely someone so self-righteous ought to just be projecting his or her evil onto everyone else, right? Surely if we look closely enough we could find out that this character is a hypocrite of some sort...

No. This character sees himself or herself morally superior because he or she actually is. Such portrayals do not require the good-does-not-call-itself-good approach either; to the contrary, it requires good to be blunt about it, because Good Is Not Nice, and if others do not like this Brutal Honesty, it must be because the moral fallings of others reduce their appreciation for it.

Basically, the Rightly Self Righteous are to morality as the Insufferable Genius is to intelligence.

If there's a race who hold this trait, it's Can't Argue with Elves. Compare Well, Excuse Me, Princess!. Multiple Closer to Earth relationships are conveyed this way. They are often snarky, condescending and in some cases outright abusive to their spouse, all while usually completely convinced they are patient and enduring people, though it's very often justified by the latter's completely imbecilic behavior proving their downfall as they so accurately predicted.

Can sometimes lean as a Designated Hero if their pompousness becomes truly insufferable, or even ''does'' have hypocritical shades that usually go unnoticed. Can also overlap into Jerkass Has a Point.

In most cases, no matter how consistent they are to this trope, you can expect them to fall off their high horse at least once. After all there's only so long stories can go without Breaking The Haughty.

Contrast Small Name, Big Ego, Know-Nothing Know-It-All and Hypocrite for characters who similarly believe they are a bastion of goodness, but are usually just full of hot air (naturally it is possible for examples to merge into these cases however, especially if they are badly written). Compare Good Is Not Nice where a character is good in spite of their meanness whereas this trope is where a character is good because of their meanness. This may lead the character in being Unintentionally Unsympathetic. Somewhat Truth in Television.

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  • Misty of early episodes of Pokémon was often haughty, belittling and temperamental to Ash. However, since the latter was an arrogant newcomer, she was often proven right to question his competence as a trainer. Occasional days in the limelight knocked her off her pedestal, however, especially as Ash became less of an Idiot Hero.

  • Lancelot in Camelot (1967). He is insufferably arrogant about his purity (as shown in his "I Am" Song "C'est Moi" below), but he really is that pure: His prayer to raise a slain knight from the dead is granted.
    The soul of a knight should be a thing remarkable, his heart and his mind as pure as morning dew. With a will and a self-restraint that's the envy of ev'ry saint, he could easily work a miracle or two. To love and desire he ought to be unsparkable, the ways of the flesh should offer no allure. But where in the world, is there in the world a man so untouched and pure? C'est moi!
  • Mary Poppins is, "practically perfect in every way". The film version of Mary is even nicer than the novel version.
    [Mary measures herself with her tape measure and reads what it says]
    Mary: As I expected. "Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way."

  • Ayn Rand loves this trope, as her works are primarily meant to service her Author Tract first and serve as a work of fiction second. Her protagonists, in particular Howard Roark from The Fountainhead, and John Galt from Atlas Shrugged represent moral ideals, heroic idols to be looked up at and aspired towards. The villains, in contrast, are explicitly labeled "moral cannibals" and worse while their Altruist/Collectivist/Statist ideals corrupt and bring the world to the brink of ruin. John Galt's famous, massive Author Filibuster is a gigantic Reason You Suck Speech detailing all of the reasons why one should come over to his (Rand's) way of living.
  • In the backstory of Beauty: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast, the Beast's ancestors were so holier-than-thou and proud of their virtue and piety that a local wizard put a curse on them to take them down a few pegs - except that they genuinely possessed the Incorruptible Pure Pureness they were so proud of, and as a result the curse wouldn't stick. It had to wait around a few generations for a member of the bloodline to step out of line a little, whereupon it turned him into the Beast.

    Live Action TV 
  • Carla of Scrubs can be demanding, belittling and short fused, especially to her boyfriend, Turk, but this is usually represented as mandatory given he and most of the other staff at Sacred Hearts hospital are deranged overgrown children in charge of the serious ill. This can border a somewhat erroneous case at times, to the point that if it weren't for a random bout of Compressed Vices to destroy Turk's argument, Carla would arguably lean more as a Never My Fault Control Freak.
  • Angie Lopez from The George Lopez Show counts as a very perky example of the trope. She often acts as though she makes the more intellectually and morally superior decisions between her and her husband, especially in regards to their family, she is right though since she is dealing with a cast of people who came from dysfunctional families, make rash/morally questionable decisions, her children, and in one What If? episode George found that many of her traits are very helpful in communication.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Nearly everyone in the Inquisition of Warhammer 40K is, by today's standards, a raging fundamentalist convinced of the righteousness of his/her path and would rather burn entire worlds than see them fall to heresy. The thing is, they're right: death is much preferable to falling victim to Chaos (and more to the point, corpses can't serve Chaos). Inverted, however, in that there are those desperate enough to use the weapons of Chaos against it (psykers, Demonic Possession) which are shunned by the part of the Inquisition that thinks it heretical. So in between the petty infighting and Inquisitors going rogue every other week, the only thing preventing Chaos from taking over is that they're just as disorganized and prone to getting in each other's way.

    Video Games 
  • Princess Sally Acorn of Sonic the Hedgehog media was originally portrayed as such, somewhat pompous and condescending to Sonic's attitude and acting as a rivalistic By-the-Book Cop. In most cases however her strategy is proven to be right and has to bail Sonic out of a stunt gone wrong. In later medias she is more mellowed out, though still has shades of this due to being a snarky Straight Man.
    • Sonic himself often has shades of this when lacking Sally as a foil. Rivals such as Knuckles and Antoine are quick to point out his egotism and recklessness, and are often driven crazy by his mockery of them, but usually end up outshone due to his Ace-level stealth, power and competence.
  • Bastila Shan of Knights of the Old Republic could be a first-rate, holier-than-thou code-spouting stick in the mud Jedi. However, the "righteous" comes into play when your Player Character reaches Padawan rank remarkably fast and she's obsensibly the senior Jedi on the ship. Not only are your crew not followers of the Code and (in many cases) of questionable background (a Mandalorian mercenary, a pair of street kids, the cheerful assassin droid), but seeing as you are the ex-Dark Lord, and the Council has ordered her to hold you on a very tight and short leash...

    Western Animation 
  • Lisa Simpson of The Simpsons is a neurotic Soapbox Sadie who constantly looks down at her family and the civilians that surround her. Of course since she is child prodigy and rare bastion of virtue, while her family is biologically retarded and Springfield genuinely is a Crapsack World, she is often proved to be justified. There are times however when her pompousness costs her, or she is made to admit she is Not So Different.
  • Duck from Thomas the Tank Engine boasts about his Great Western heritage, much to the annoyance of the rude and arrogant engines like Gordon, Henry, and James. However, as Duck puts it, "The Great Western Way" implies that he's a reliable engine who works hard and gets the job done without any complaints.
    • Some other engines are occasionally conveyed this way; e.g., Fergus, Toby, Donald and Douglas. They can often be smug and heckling to the other engines, but are competent hard workers. Usually, any attempts to ignore or belittle them only lead to a karmic accident or humiliation. It's usually avoided in later episodes, where each engine gets his shortcomings and arrogant moments spotlighted equally, with most of said characters being put Out of Focus or having a completely altered personality. (Toby, far from this role, is now a Shrinking Violet who usually underestimates his worth.)
  • Played with for Twilight Sparkle and Applejack in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. While they are often The Straight Man, and rather openly aware of it, the instances they start to get rather arrogant about it are usually a sign they'll prove to be Not So Above It All.
    • They do play it perfectly straight at times however, perhaps most infamously in "The Mysterious Mare Do Well", it's just leveled since they take it as much as they dish it out.
  • Hayley of American Dad!, despite being created as a hypocritical left-wing foil to Stan, often proves to have a far less destructive zeal and usually takes the role of the family's Straight Man.
    • For that matter, it's not rare to see the female leads of most of Seth Mac Farlane's works to be portrayed as such, to the point of outright Jerkass Designated Hero territory. Lois Griffin of Family Guy and Donna of The Cleveland Show are prime examples.
    • Brian himself counts as he constantly goes in loudmouth crusades on what ever irks him, most of the time he's being an Attention Whore.
  • Kyle of South Park has an overly preachy and temperamental attitude and his hatred of Cartman reaches obsessively petty and borderline Knight Templar territory. Most of the time, however, Cartman, and to an extent the whole town, is completely immoral and deluded enough to earn Kyle's contempt and the majority of time things go haywire as a result of Cartman ignoring or hindering him.
    • Deconstructed a few times however, with Kyle's He Who Fights Monsters level contempt for Cartman leading him to end up the Butt Monkey. Some episodes have also hinted at a Not So Different aspect between the two, and Kyle not being quite as moral bound as he is convinced he is.
    • Also deconstructed with Wendy in the episode The Hobbit. Wendy has always been seen as a Soap Box Sadie who was somewhat full of it (not unlike Lisa), but considering where she lives, its understandable. Here, she is chastising Butters for his refusal of dating Lisa because she's unattractive while he has a crush on Kim Kardashian (which is Negative Continuity). Her crusade against Photoshop because of the impact toward girls' self image backfires as the girls think they actually look like the edited photos. Everyone ends up missing the point of her tirade and think she is "jelly". By the end of the episode it has exacerbated so badly Wendy just gives up and conforms.