Smiting Evil Feels Good

Judge Chavez: Salvador, for the murders of the men known as Bluntcrack, Craw, Friday, and Spitstain, you will now be hanged by the neck until dead. Have you last words in your defence?
Salvador: They were bandits! They tried to kill mi abuela!
Judge Chavez: Yes, yes, yes. You have attempted to convince your fellow villagers of this many times. Anything else to say regarding the murder of these men?
Salvador: Uh... it was fun?
Judge Chavez: Come again? Killing those men was fun?
Salvador: Killing bad guys is always fun!

Sometimes Evil Feels Good. Sometimes Good Feels Good. And then there's this strange thing in the middle, where good people feel good when they hurt evil: Smiting Evil Feels Good.

This is a hero who feels enjoyment, elation, and great satisfaction, when they kill or beat up the bad guys. They may be otherwise strictly moral, well-intentioned, and selfless, but when they've decided you're better off dead than alive, they'll kill you with a smile on their face, and may even take additional satisfaction in ending you in sadistic ways. They're not a Blood Knight, though; they never lose track of their purpose, and they don't seek villain-killing on their own, they just enjoy it when it happens.

Some heroes tend to break down when they find themselves doing this or when someone else points this out, especially if they feel it somehow implies that their motivation is not high righteousness, but base blood-lust. It's in fact a very common topic of Not So Different speeches.

How can one be good if one enjoys doing evil? Is it okay to enjoy hurting others? Is it degrading? Is all the heroing just an excuse to get one's kicks in a socially acceptable manner? Am I really Not So Different from that villain? Am I a self-righteous hypocrite? Does it matter?

Other heroes decide that what matters is that the outcome of their actions is globally good, or that the methods they follow are virtuous, and leave it to others to worry about introspective stuff like motivations and hypocrisy and so on.

Fairly common in the Action Hero, especially in the Eighties, and the Bad Ass. If they've dropped a Bond One-Liner, even with a straight face, you know they fit here. See also Serial-Killer Killer; Wife-Basher Basher. Sub-Trope of Blood Knight though not all blood knights limit themselves to "smiting" only evil people, and In Harm's Way for those who merely like the feeling of being in constant danger.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In Watchmen, Hooded Justice went through a Heroic BSOD when another taunted him that he hadn't joined up so much for fighting crime as just having a legal excuse to beat the crap out of people. Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre take great enjoyment in heroics, but it's unclear whether "beating up the bad guys" is what thrills them, or just the danger. Rorschach acts like it's his moral obligation to make bad guys suffer, but it's unclear whether he derives pleasure from it besides the satisfaction of accomplished duty. As for the Comedian, he takes this trope so far that he crossed the "not actually a good guy anymore" line.
  • In Sin City, both Dwight and Marv, in their respective stories, talk about how good it feels to torture and kill bad guys. As one might expect, these guys tend very much toward Anti-Heroes.
  • Hunter S. Thompson Fictional Counterpart Spider Jerusalem from Transmetropolitan is a shameless sadist who gets off on seeing people humiliated. Luckily, he lives in a world run and populated by lots and lots of lying, scheming bastards who don't give a damn about the Truth. So he gets lots of opportunities to justifiably ruin people's lives with his articles. Including the god-damned President of the United States!
  • One interpretation of John Constantine's motivation; he constantly rails against the injustices of the world, blaming those that rule it - the rich, the powerful, even God Himself. Some of his acquaintances believe he's not a champion of the oppressed so much as an adrenaline junkie who uses powerful and amoral opponents as a source of schadenfreude.
    Clarice: Sticking your hand in something nasty, getting good and pissed off, getting the blood flowing—vintage John Constantine.

    Fan Works 
  • In Fallout: Equestria, Littlepip, the protagonist, has an unfortunate violent streak when it comes to people who morally outrage her. If you're a serial rapist slaver Torture Technician, she will enjoy pumping shotgun pellets up your fleeing arse.
  • Just An Unorthodox Thief seems to be working on an inversion with respect to Kirei Kotomine. Since summoning the Assassin who was known as Lupin the Third, Lupin has been talking to Kirei about how he has fun being more important than why he has fun. Kirei considers himself a very sinful man, not a hero like the trope description expects. But Lupin is widely admired and impressive, partly for who he targets. Lupin seems to be slowly teaching Kirei that imitating him will lead Kirei to an enjoyable lifestyle, as long as he would Pay Evil unto Evil. It doesn't matter if Kirei enjoys killing people, so long as the people he's killing are people that deserve to be killed.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Elliot Stabler, while not outright killing bad guys (if not accidentally... or is it?), ostensibly loves beating the shit out of rapists, pedophiles, etc. (and the other detectives are that close too).
  • In Burn Notice, both Michael and Fi have Berserk Buttons for villains who hurt children. Fi particularly chomps at the bit to kill such people (or recurring villains who've been troublesome Manipulative Bastards to Michael in the who-burned-me arc), although she'll defer to Michael's judgment if such would be tactically unwise (or detrimental to Michael getting answers he needs) at the time. But if she does get the green light, she'll smile when she does it.
  • The Unit, about an elite military team tasked with assassinations and other "wet jobs", has one character address the morality of what they do in one episode, having a crisis of conscience, before coming to the realization - supported by his commanding officer - that he enjoys killing people.
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor has been accused of this from time to time.
  • Legends of Tomorrow: Sara Lance has this tendency, though it disturbs her greatly (in the series it's described as being a side-effect of having been brought back to life). Although she works hard to avoid killing unless necessary (and treats it as serious business when it does happen), she still clearly enjoys beating the tar out of people.

  • Ky Vatta in Elizabeth Moon's Vatta's War series discovers early on that she derives a near-sadistic pleasure from killing her enemies, who tend to be pure evil, face-to-face (as opposed to from a starship bridge). She is too moral to kill someone unless forced to, and is too horrified about the secret pleasure she takes in killing to tell others about it, but she can't deny that she gets an odd pleasure of doing it when forced to.
  • Animorphs goes into some detail regarding this. The bad guys are an alien race of brain slugs, basically, and after one of the protagonists, Jake, sends thousands of them to their deaths by dumping their regeneration pool into space, he has a minor breakdown about how much he enjoyed doing so. Another protagonist, Rachel (who has no such qualms) tells him he has to separate the feeling from the action: "doing what has to be done" is not immoral, nor is "enjoying winning". Deconstructed as that side of them leads to do some horrible acts and almost leads Rachel to accept a deal with the devil. In that same book she looks at that part of her with disgust.
  • James Bond: Thoroughly averted by Ian Fleming. Although the film version of the character might variably fall under the trope (depending on the film), Fleming's Bond clearly takes no pleasure from killing people and several books (including Goldfinger and the short story "The Living Daylights") have Bond ruminating about the morality of his work.

  • Angel of Light by power metal band Dreamtale.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This is something of a common trait among the Space Marines of Warhammer 40,000, though this is easily thanks to the conditioning their chapters and the Imperium as a whole gives them, forming this bias against the Xenos and Forces of Chaos that dare invade the Imperium of Man.

    Video Games 
  • Generally speaking, you, the player may feel satisfied whenever you swept down a swarm of bad guys.
  • From Borderlands 2:
    • Salvador, who believes that "Killing bad guys is always fun!". Detailed more in the hidden ECHO recordings found in Thousand Cuts. You can listen to them here, starting at 0:49 (Warning, contains spoilers about Angel working for Jack).
    • Krieg, the second DLC character, loves killing bandits. Downplayed in that his "psycho" side actually loves killing full stop, innocent or guilty. It's his former personality/conscience which forces him to only kill people who deserve it.
  • In Metal Gear Solid, Snake angsts over the fact that he genuinely enjoys killing enemy soldiers.
  • Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon has a notable instance from Princess Zelda.
  • Sanger Zonvolt of Super Robot Wars is greatly known for proclaiming himself to be 'The Sword That Smites Evil', and the sheer amount of confidence and Badassery when he recited those speaks in volumes on how he really has a good satisfaction in smiting evil bastards that threatens the peace of the galaxy.
  • Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden. Killing evil/bad guys would grant him "karma" that would enhance his strength. Thus, not only his sense of justice drives him to slay evil whenever he sees one, he does get something good out of it along with "satisfaction".

    Western Animation