Win: Well-read fella. You didn't introduce us.
Father Jackey: Walter Cow is not someone you want to know.
Win: Whyzzat? Is he a gangster? Looks like one, anyway.
Father Jackey: Walter!? Oh, Heavens no. He's a Barber. But there are many different ways to be dangerous.They fight for the good guys. They might even believe in the cause (to a point). But they are a hero only in name. They are antiheroes who have a fundamental Lack of Empathy, a sociopathic disregard for their enemies' lives. They may be motivated by boredom, or by some sort of carrot-and-stick arrangement - a chip in the head, an attachment to some person or thing that requires them to do good, or a pragmatic code that prevents their truly inhuman nature from landing them in jail. They may solve their problems in much the same way as a villain would—ruthlessly manipulating and killing their way to their goal. They may routinely torture, murder, and/or commit evil acts nearly as bad as the Big Bad. They'll do whatever it takes to win. The people they fight beside are shocked with their behavior, but try to tell themselves, "At least they're on our side." Common rationalizations either by the hero himself or on the hero's behalf include Asshole Victim, Utopia Justifies the Means, or It's What I Do. Compare Heroic Comedic Sociopath, for when this kind of behavior is Played for Laughs and Token Evil Teammate, which he will be if a team player. He also tends to stay in Nominal Hero or Villain Protagonist territory. If a character is treated as an Ideal Hero despite being this then this has been combined with a Designated Hero. This trope overlaps the Sociopathic Soldier, especially if the settings is war or a chaotic milieu. See also Moral Sociopathy. Truth in Television: sociopathic heroes do exist in Real Life. More detail is not necessary.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- The lead character of MD Geist is somewhere between this and Villain Protagonist. While obviously he's an evil, evil man, he's also the psychotic result of a Super Soldier program by an offworld human faction, meaning that A: he's programmed to only care about fighting and seek to always have battles to fight, and B: he's still loyal to his creators, who have decided it's best to just scrub all life from the colony world and repopulate it with fresh colonists.
- Alucard from Hellsing (more so in the manga/OVA). He has no regard for human life (though deep down he admires humanity), will kill at any opportunity if allowed, and enjoys the thrill of war. He does at least attempt to limit his body count to those who actually are a part of the battle he's in.
- Break Blade's Girge played it straight and full on, complete with Token Evil Teammate, Psycho for Hire, Blood Knight, Broken Ace, Team Killer, Punch Clock Hero, Faux Affably Evil, Dissonant Serenity, anything else?
- Death Note has two examples:
- Mello is a ruthless mafia boss whose methods include kidnapping, extortion, and killing his own men and anyone who gets in his way, but he is technically speaking on the same side as the detectives.
- Near is even more manipulative than L, and treats the case as if it were a game or puzzle and the other people in it merely expendable pawns.
- Bleach: Mayuri Kurotsuchi and Kenpachi Zaraki are sometimes depicted this way but can also veer into the Heroic Comedic Sociopath trope as well.
- Dragon Ball Z has Vegeta when he was the Token Evil Teammate.
- Elmer C. Albatross is a genuine "essence of pure evil" sociopath who, thankfully for the world around him, decided that working For Happiness was more interesting than working For the Evulz.
- Claire Stanfield is a bloodthirsty assassin who honestly believes that the world revolves around him, but nonetheless decides to help defend the passengers of the Flying Pussyfoot.
- Black Lagoon has Roberta, who was once an amoral killing machine but has now dedicated herself to the Lovelace family and goes berserk when her master was assassinated. And Revy laughs and sings when she's gunning people down, and nine times out of ten her first recourse is to put a 9mm round in any given problem, but she's one of the protagonists and is shown to have a few standards.
- Mikazuki of Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is a Child Soldier who has no qualm on killing, he does not have the concept of mercy when it comes to disposing enemies when they're still speaking, often gives vulgar nicknames to enemies who managed to survive his encounters. And he remains in an unnervingly calm mood all the time.
- Guts in his days as the vengeance-driven Black Swordsman from Berserk was very much this trope. Even now, Guts is still a sociopath. The only reason he saves people is because one of his companions asks him to. Even before that, Guts clearly enjoyed his job as a mercenary, relishing in crushing the skulls of his enemies and striking fear into their hearts.
- Getter Robo pilots Ryoma Nagare and Hayato Jin in several continuities. Jin's first appearance in the original manga is as a violent revolutionary punishing would-be deserters by ripping a man's face off. He mellows a bit as he ages, but is still willing to send in his own fiancee as part of a force defusing booby-trapped atomic bombs by trial and error. Ryoma practically lives to fight.
- Kuroko of Murciélago. While she mostly sticks to killing other serial killers, she has no qualms about doing so.
- Karma of Assassination Classroom. He's a kid who clearly has an inclination towards violence and mischief, and appears to be nearly Ax-Crazy with the way he gets shits and giggles out of torturing and making others miserable through cruel and unusual methods. However, he's also distinctly shown to be a Bully Hunter, only really ever targeting those who harass others, or threaten either himself or his classmates.
- Wolfgang Grimmer of ''Monster is a rare sympathetic example. In spite of his lack of emotion, he is a pretty nice guy who actually performs heroic deeds because he wants to. His "Magnificent Steiner" persona is the more traditional version of this, as it causes him to kill his enemies in a more brutal fashion.
- The Punisher is the comic book mascot of this trope. He was, by far, the most popular costumed "superhero" to kill his enemies rather than putting them to jail. And he's been doing it way before the Dark Age of Comics.
- Rorschach of Watchmen to an extent. He is more than willing to torture and kill if he believes good will come of it. He is also the target of a large Misaimed Fandom that admires his absolute dedication to his cause.
Rorschach: Lying. Do it again - break finger. Not joking.
- Dr. Manhattan and the Comedian also qualify to an extent, but the former more and more so over the course of the story.
- Then Ozymandias qualifies, too, as in order to save the world he was willing to kill everyone in Manhattan.
- Griffin (the Invisible Man), Captain Nemo, and Mr. Hyde in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Griffin commits a Face–Heel Turn. Hyde does not, and takes Griffin's betrayal... Poorly.
- The Scarab, the source of Blue Beetle's powers, will default to lethal force for almost any situation. Thankfully, Jaime keeps it in check. It starts to get better with Jaime's influence.
- Kaine Parker, Spider-Man's self-proclaimed evil clone. While he actually was an evil clone, an assassin and a classic Nineties Anti-Hero for a while, he eventually grew out of it, becoming a reluctant hero, protecting the innocent (and often cussing them out for being so stupid, since he's not exactly Mr Nice Guy. However, he still has absolutely no compunction of killing or torturing if he deems it necessary - and that's before he gets the ability to transform into a borderline Eldritch Abomination.
- Marv from Sin City is the definition of sociopath, in fact on multiple occasions he describes himself as nothing more than a wild animal. On the other hand, Marv tends to over-exaggerate his foibles because no one ever told him otherwise. He is ugly; therefore he is dumb. He has a mental disorder; therefore he is a psychopath. While Marv relishes committing violence against those who deserve it, he has also come to the aid of innocents, such as a homeless man who was nearly immolated by a street punk.
- In Bloodstrike, the whole second Bloodstrike team is this. They save lives and fight tyranny and evil, but none of them are heroic. Deadlock, for instance, claims to hate himself, and hate everyone else even more.
- Midnighter of The Authority definitely counts. The whole team can cross into this territory Depending on the Writer, but Midnighter is the go-to guy for killing foes en mass and grinning maniacally about it. He has had moments of strange compassion, though, such as the time he changed tactics halfway through getting his ass kicked by Tank Man and instead talked him into recognising his own self-worth and retiring. They became pen pals afterwards!
- The Fixer from Holy Terror. His preferred method of stopping someone? Killing them.
- Huntress has killed a lot of people, and has never seemed to feel any guilt about it. Yes, the people she kills are dangerous criminals, and generally deserve to die, but she is never shown feeling any guilt or moral qualms about it.
- Finesse from Avengers Academy is specifically a sociopath note , unable to comprehend other people's emotions or feel any of her own. Over the course of the series she learns to decipher how people feel enough to take responsibility for her actions and has developed camaraderie, if not exactly an emotional bond, with her friends. The final issue shows that she is genuinely upset by her inability to connect with others emotionally.
- Robin Damian Wayne, biological son of Batman, is this often. Someone once asked him "I like this Mr. Super Spy. How did he survive knowing you?" (Mr.Super Spy is Grayson)
- Similar to Damian, Sam 13 of Marvel's Earth-65 is the (cloned) descendant of his timeline's Captain America, and while he works for the good guys in S.H.I.E.L.D. as Cap's sidekick, his upbringing as a designer super-soldier didn't come with compassion or respect for human life.
- Scott Pilgrim from the eponymous series can come across as this, given that he casually murders people who challenge him to a fight without a second thought.
- Xellos is portrayed this way in author Prime Minister's epic series about the relationship between him and Lina Inverse. He shows no love or empathy towards others, except Lina and the children they eventually have together.
- Played with for L's character in Story of the Century, whose canonical role as the Big Good becomes deconstructed; he looks like this at his worst due to his apparent Lack of Empathy and frosty single-tracked demeanor. It gets to a point where he's sometimes treated as the Villain Protagonist of the story, that is until Light and Misa are revealed to be the REAL villains, but even then. However, there are moments in the story and in its supplementary material that suggest that he does care more about people than he lets on, he begins to act a little more "human" around Morality Pet Erin (though he will never outright admit how important she is to him, and sometimes not even she's safe from his dirty play) and ends up making a Heroic Sacrifice at the end. Unfortunately, the way he goes about it earns him the treatment one may get from crossing the Moral Event Horizon instead.
- The trope appears again in the sequel, And The Story Continues. Near appears to be this at first for more or less the same reasons his predecessor did, but is slowly revealed to be, while mean and not above dirty play, very much capable of empathy and forming attachments...if to few select people. There is also Umbra, a shinigami who betrays both Kiyomi and Teru without a second thought and sees murder as a perfectly viable solution to a problem regardless of the scale thereof (i.e., someone making his Morality Chain Erin cry). Generally he defects to Near's side out of a) personal boredom, b) loyalty to Erin, and c) a desire to learn more about his past (he is all but confirmed outright to be L's reincarnation).
- Directly played through with Mercury in the A dance of Shadow and Light series by Ocadioan, where the author himself even states in an AN that Mercury is, at his best, a temporary sociopath, whom the author himself would fear if he was ever to find himself in a position of power with lands and titles.
- It certainly comes to show after the big reveal in the first story, wherein it is revealed that Mercury was perfectly willing to betray every “friend” and ally that he had made up until that point in order to kill Galbatorix with plan B: nuking the Capital, which he knows would have killed quite a large proportion of the countryside as well.
- He is somewhat justified in taking it up to this level, as this was his plan B, just in case the Varden and other races failed with plan A(and would therefore be dead anyway), and considering that he was the seemingly the only one thinking of what were to happen if plan A failed, one can’t blame him for thinking ahead.
- It becomes worse in the second story, where his flashbacks shows him not only killing and mentally breaking a father in front of his wife and children (who btw have been tied up with nooses around their necks), but also killing off the rest of the family after he offs the father. He Who Fights Monsters indeed, especially when considering that he is doing all of this in a war against The Black Hand. He also gets extra points for offing his old love interest, manipulating the female protagonist and caring more about getting his personal revenge against a shade that destroyed his home and killed his pets than the lives of those that could be saved if he just played along with the dragon riders and let them do the deed.
- It certainly comes to show after the big reveal in the first story, wherein it is revealed that Mercury was perfectly willing to betray every “friend” and ally that he had made up until that point in order to kill Galbatorix with plan B: nuking the Capital, which he knows would have killed quite a large proportion of the countryside as well.
- In Thousand Shinji, Shinji, Asuka and Rei are jerkass anti-heroes. Shinji showed no sympathy towards other people unless or until they became family or friends. Even so, he manipulates eveyone, including those he cares for. Admittedly, he's pretty open about it (Asuka and Rei know that he both uses them and loves them), and he became somewhat more considerate and more compassionate at the end.
Films — Live-Action
- Michael Keaton's Batman is probably the closest this character has come to appearing as a sociopath on film. He's not really a sociopath in that he will genuinely care about you (though not be sentimental about it) as long as you're a good guy. If not, then he'll have no problem with killing you, sometimes even gleefully.
- It can be argued that he is only as dark towards his enemies as they are towards everyone else and given what his enemies are like...it comes across as necessary.
- Zack Snyder's Batman from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is also an excellent example of this trope, as he has been indiscriminately killing criminals for decades by the time Bv S occurs.
- Riddick from The Chronicles of Riddick series. He certainly has nothing against killing when it benefits him, but would rather be left alone and wipe his hands of the entire human race that way. He was even willing to let the entire universe be destroyed simply because it wasn't his fight. Just make sure you mind the children. Lookin' at you, Johns.
- Depending on the actor, James Bond is a borderline case. Being a 00 agent requires it, in some ways, as one has to kill in cold blood; that is, without the deceased having been any direct, active threat to the agent.
- Daniel Craig's is explicitly intended to play this trope straight, showing no remorse for killing two men, and feeling perfectly justified in breaking into his supervisor's home in the middle of the night. However, he mellows considerably later on, and continues to do so in the sequels.
- Billy the Kid in Young Guns consistently behaves as one. He is excited every time there is bloodshed, and kills perhaps more people than any of his companions, often ignoring the original plan they agreed on just so he can kill more opponents.
- Richard Chance from To Live and Die in L.A. could count. He is impulsive, treats his CI/friend with benefits Ruth like crap, and robs an undercover FBI agent to finance his own sting against Rick Masters.
- Even when saving the Earth, Godzilla has shown himself to be very ruthless and brutal in his methods, though he subverts the trope in that he actually has some altruistic qualities.
- To an extent, The Bride from Kill Bill. When she's under a truth serum from Bill, she admits that she genuinely enjoys killing and maiming people. In fact, what stops her from being a downright Villain Protagonist "in the present" (she was after all a contract killer for most of her life so she used to be killing people for money) is the relative Heel–Face Turn she went through upon finding out she was pregnant, and her very deserved revenge.
- Ripley in Alien: Resurrection. This Ripley is extremely cynical and callous, due to partially merging with the Aliens. A doctor theorizes that she has some form of emotional autism. Some examples of her sociopathy are trying to strangle Dr. Wren on a whim, breaking another doctor's arm immediately after she wakes up (in a deleted scene), and looking at another character getting dragged off by the Aliens with curious fascination. The only time she shows any real emotion is when she finds her other clones and incinerates them, and when her "son" (the Newborn) dies.
- She does, however, clearly form an emotional bond with Call, which is shown increasingly clearer at the end of the movie. In fact, said bond between a hybrid human-alien creature and a synthetic, the latter of which is probably the character with the most intact moral compass in the entire film, who cares most about humanity and the threat the Xenomorphs present to it, seems to be part of an Aesop.
- If Snake Plissken gives even a fraction of a damn about the people who die helping him, he certainly doesn't show it.
- In Escape from New York, the only hint that he might care is when he asks the president how he felt about all the people who died to rescue him and is not impressed with the president's flippant response.
- In Escape from L.A., he does seem to be shocked and upset at Taslima's death, perhaps because she's about the only person who hasn't either turned on him or outright manipulated him for their own ends.
- Private Joker from Full Metal Jacket proudly states he joined the Marines for the sole purpose of killing people and bragging about it. Though his actions throughout the film somewhat contradict this.
- In the Churchill biopic Into the Storm (2009), we have General "Bomber" Harris, who is the one to suggest and execute the bombing of Dresden and in one scene brags about it.
- Zig-zagged in the film adaptation of The Keep. There's a lot of toning down of the character of Glaeken. He still comes off as being an emotionally disconnected and kind of creepy individual, but the only person he directly murders besides the Big Bad is a nameless Nazi soldier, although he does so with surprising ferocity and the guy's only real crime (outside of, y'know, being a Nazi) was he wouldn't stop attempting to grab Glaeken's arm. Seems like a considerably minor offense to deserve being chucked down a gorge. They did film the scene from the book where Glaeken murders Carlos for betraying him, but it was cut (possibly in an effort to avert this very trope).
- Ferdinand in Pierrot Le Fou by Jean-Luc Godard. He is a perfectly normal if somewhat tired bourgeois in the beginning but after being fed up by the shallowness of his society, he goes on a rampage with his kids' nanny showing no trace of empathy towards other people except his new flame.
- Let's face it, the heroes of MANY fairy tales behave this way, killing, lying and stealing their way to fame and fortune, often with no better excuse than "that guy deserved it." Jack (from Jack and the Beanstalk), for example, commits multiple burglaries and then murders the person coming to reclaim their stolen property. The musical Into the Woods deconstructs this story, among many others.
- This is how Takeshi Kovacs views himself. Several times, he describes the traits needed to qualify for Envoy training as "psychopathic tendencies and a sense of team spirit", at least one of which he had instilled during time in the military. While he has enough of a conscience to Pet the Dog for those who he feels to be the victims, he has no problem with permakilling or torturing anyone who interferes with his goals.
- Several characters in Peter Watts's Blindsight; most prominently Jukka Sarasti: a potential murderer, a sociopathic vampire, but one who leads the crew against impossible odds, and who is possibly going out of his way not to offend their sensibilities.
- Like his television version, Dexter Morgan in Dexter in the Dark and subsequent novels.
- Severian the Torturer from the Book of the New Sun series by Gene Wolfe. His values are so far astern from the reader's sensibilities that he sometimes comes across as shockingly cruel. In some instances, it seems he is ambiguous when describing events that are of great moral relevance to the reader, apparently because he sees no ethical dilemma in them. He shows a mixture of traits, some of which may be sociopathic, others of which may indicate a place on the autism spectrum.
- Partly this is due to Severian having been raised as a Torturer from infancy, and partly it is due to his status as a mnemonist. Having studied Abnormal Psychology at Miami University, Wolfe was likely aware of the case history of a real life mnemonist (known as 'S.') who displayed a passive-receptive attitude, and a wealth of thought and imagination contrasting with a surprising lack of intellect. These traits are a significant plot point, with Severian unable to join the dots to see how he is being manipulated, distracting the reader with flights of fancy, and, in true Wolfeian style, leaving the reader to figure out the true story.
- Peter Pan, probably much to the surprise of those only familiar with the Lighter and Softer adaptations. Peter spends an awful lot of his time killing off pirates, and often is willing to put his friends in danger simply because it would be interesting or even funny. This is because of the basic nature of his character; being a child forever, he's inherently selfish and often amoral. This is played up a bit in the 2003 film, but most adaptations soften the edges off the character.
- It is mentioned that during the fights between the Lost Boys and the pirates, if the pirates seem to be at a disadvantage, Peter will join their side to even things out. That's right, he will happily fight and kill his friends just because it's more of a challenge. Evidently, Lost Boys come and go, and Peter doesn't have any real interest in keeping track of them.
- Okonkwo from Things Fall Apart is more sociopathic than hero at times. He executes his adopted son, and gets convicted for murder and arson, the arson being for burning down a church (Which was a stand against colonialism, but still...).
- John Cleaver from I Am Not a Serial Killer is actually a clinically diagnosed sociopath.
- The Dog Stars: After the End, the main character Higs has a partnership with Bangley, a sociopathic gun-nut who lives for nothing besides killing. Higs does all the practical work, while Bangley protects them.
- James Bond shows considerable devotion to MI6, to Britain and to long-time friends like Felix Leiter - but he does fit this trope. To his credit, he is not as relentless as many other examples; a Mook that can be gotten out of the way non-fatally will generally not be killed 'because it's easier'.
- Partly due to Characterization Marching On, Bond eventually steps out of this role, becoming much less sociopathic. Some of the short stories in particular, such as "For Your Eyes Only" and "The Hildebrand Rarity" in For Your Eyes Only and "The Living Daylights" in Octopussy and the Living Daylights, reveal a Bond uncomfortable with targeted assassinations (as opposed to killing in defense of himself and others) and capable of considerable empathy. From Russia with Love also has him feeling discomfort when Kerim shoots a fleeing hitman in the back. And in Dr. No, when Bond is forced to shoot the three guards, he feels very uncomfortable doing it, even though said men could have been the Three Blind Mice and were heading off to gang-rape Honey.
- This was part of Ayn Rand's Signature Style:
- Joy Phim is a perfect example of this trope in the Never Again series. When we first meet her, she mentions her skill with weapons and lovingly describes how swiftly she can kill someone with her martial arts. When training John in there use, she says that it's actually best to kill one's enemy instead of incapacitating them, even though this goes against the code of nearly every martial artist. If one still had any doubts as to her nature, she sulks in her room whenever John hires a criminal syndicate to do their dirty work instead of letting Joy kill their targets herself— that's right, she throws a tantrum if she doesn't get to kill someone. The only reason John and the Society even put up with her is because their enemies are the worst dictators of the twentieth century.
- How to Be a Superhero offers several examples and recommendations, most notably The Castrator, a man in spiked body armor who wields a bloody chainsaw.
- Glaeken Trismegestus in The Keep. While not an actual sociopath (i.e. not suffering from any particular mental illness), he has lived for so long as an immortal on the fringes of human society and keeps himself from forming emotional bonds when he'll inevitably have to leave the person or outlive them, so he finds killing people very easy to do, and does so without remorse multiple times. When Carlos - the captain of the ship taking him from Greece to Romania - betrays him, Glaeken does initially let him live, but unfortunately the guy has Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, forcing Glaeken to kill him not even two sentences later. He also rather cold-bloodedly murders the Romanian soldiers at the border, although being that they're collaborators working with the Nazis it's hardly as if they're undeserving victims. This is toned down in the film.
- Kelsier in Mistborn: The Original Trilogy is, by Word of God, a clinical psychopath. Luckily for the world, he directs his psychopathy at slaughtering the evil nobles and overthrowing the Final Empire. By the end of the first book, he is being worshipped as a Crystal Dragon Jesus.
- Kullervo from The Kalevala is one of the best examples. His Evil Uncle Untamo kills Kullervo's tribe and failing to kill Kullervo due to their magic raises them badly, leaving Kullervo impulsive, cruel and mentally ill. For example, when his Uncle tells him to look after a baby he tortures and kills the child for no reason. When he avenges the murder of his tribe he apparently kills Untamo's entire tribe. Kullervo ends up Driven to Suicide after finding his family dead.
- Sgt. Bothari in Vorkosigan Saga is a multiple rapist and murderer, who get sexually excited by killing and when watching a pregnant prisoner be abused by her captors. Knowing this, he depends on the structure of his military service and the guidance of the lord and lady he serves to show him what is right and what is wrong.
- Wyre in Dark Heart is a powerful and skilled bodyguard, but also a ruthless sadist who enjoys killing. This eventually becomes a problem for the other protagonists.
- Korean drama I Remember You has this played with. The first few episodes we hear about this murderer, and seeing a flashback of the person assisting the case, we believe that he might be the killer, until it becomes clear that this is just the dad's misunderstanding (the older brother is an Emotionless Guy and the apparently normal younger brother is actually the likely killer). To matters worse, the dad fearful of his son becoming a killer, locks one kid downstairs to try to teach him right and wrong, and neglects the other one.
- The main character of "Revenge"- she proves several times over that she is willing to steamroll innocents to get what she wants.
- Dexter Morgan, in the TV show Dexter, is a prime example. A Serial Killer (albeit of other killers) who has to emulate emotions to go unnoticed by others, and is only motivated by his urge to kill. He is actually diagnosed as a psychopath by a psychologist who knows his true nature late in the show.
- In the 4th, 5th and 6th seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the soulless vampire Spike plays this role, at first against his will, under the influence of an implanted chip that causes him pain when he attacks something with a soul. Now, his only outlet for his violent predilection is beating up monsters and demons. He sides with the heroes more out of boredom, looking for something to do. Later, he begins to do good for the love of a female character, but only because that's what she would want him to do. His transition to true selflessness occurs without him ever becoming capable of the soulful qualities that distinguish humans from Buffyverse vampires; for that reason, his final act of Season 6 is to seek a real soul.
- In the 5th season of Angel, the vampire Harmony works for the good guys, but her motivation is her own personal development. She does good because it seems like an interesting thing to do. In the finale, she turns on Angel, because as a soulless demon, it's just not in her nature to do good. Angel saw this coming and made it part of his plan—he even left a Letter of Recommendation for her, since he was going to blow up the firm and wasn't planning on killing her.
- In Sons of Anarchy, this applies to pretty much everyone in SAMCRO. Tig is the leading example in the early episodes, but he's overpaced by Happy. While the club watches an IRA member torture a traitor, most are shown to be either stoic or disturbed by the display. Happy is smiling.
- Damon in The Vampire Diaries, when the mood strikes him.
- Shane in The Walking Dead slowly slides into this role. By the second season when he shoots Otis in the leg and leaves him to be killed by zombies he's this fully.
- The Doctor occasionally is this in Doctor Who:
- The First Doctor started out as this. He held some meaningful ideals, but genuinely did not understand or care about other people's feelings, being happy to openly lie to them and play them against each other to follow his own goals, which were mostly just to be able to do whatever he wanted For Science!. He kidnaps people, gets them into trouble for his own amusement, constantly accuses them of trying to steal from him, and at one point he even tries to murder a person for no reason beyond paranoia, while at the same time using a paper-thin veneer of doddery-old-man in order to make himself look weak and innocent whenever he has to. His granddaughter is something of a Morality Pet but even though she loves him she is obviously terrified of him, often more than the monsters, and weeps openly in fear of repercussions whenever she tries to persuade him to do something for her. He gets some Character Development, though - Ian and Barbara manage to drum some basic manners into him, and although he starts out with No Social Skills and occasionally slips back into treating his companions like dirt (although apologising for it afterwards), by "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" he's declared himself a defender of the weak and by "The Time Meddler" he chooses to punish someone in a devastating but pointedly non-fatal way.
- The later regenerations of the Doctor constantly struggle against becoming this. During "The Waters of Mars" the Tenth Doctor ended up going so completely off the deep end, he briefly styled himself as "The Time Lord Victorious" and was willing to break time itself in half to save people, even if they didn't want him to.
- In the BBC's Jekyll, "Hyde is love - and love is a psychopath."
- Person of Interest has a few, most notably Sam Shaw, an actual diagnosed Sociopath who works with team machine, pretty much because she has nothing better to do. She still has a strong moral centre, however, and despite never expressing any genuine empathy at any time, still has a few tender moments and a soft spot for Bear.
- Sherlock Holmes of Sherlock certainly plays with the trope a lot, with Sherlock even referring to himself as a "high-functioning sociopath" on two occasions. He doesn't seem to care at all about the people who bring him his cases, only solves them to keep himself from getting bored, and is definitely not above charming, lying to, and manipulating anyone - including his best friend, John - as long as it helps solve the mystery.
- From Season 2 on, it becomes increasingly clear that, although he identifies himself as a "high-functioning sociopath", he really isn't, and Steven Moffat has more or less confirmed it. While he is seldom sympathetic, he is occasionally empathetic (a trait most true sociopaths lack), and genuinely caring about the few people he has allowed into his life; John, Mrs. Hudson, LeStrade, Molly and Mary.
- Tsukasa Kadoya, the titular character of Kamen Rider Decade, is more than willing to troll, manipulate and just generally be unpleasant, although his friends usually act as his moral compass. Most of the show is driven by the question of whether he is ultimately a hero or a Villain Protagonist.
Religion & Mythology
- The heroes of religious stories often get a pass similar to the Fairy Tale folder above. In The Bible, for example, the prophet Elisha asks God to punish a gang of teenagers for mocking and insulting him...and God complies by sending two bears to devour the lot of them.
- Greek Mythology heroes. ALL of them. The Greek Mythology doesn't ponder with such pesky concepts as "right" and "wrong" or "good" and "evil". The only concept of "sin" which the Greek Mythology knows is hubris, delusion of being as good as the deities - which means, of course, that if you are a deity yourself, you are categorically incapable of sinning.
- A character with Compassion 1 in Exalted can be played as this. Alchemicals with high Clarity are explicitly spelled out as not examples - they're emotionless, not wantonly cruel - but those infected by Gremlin Syndrome may well attempt to continue fighting the good fight even as their condition instils a psychotic desire to destroy and maim.
- Infernals who take enough Ebon Dragon Charms can easily become virtue-stripped sociopaths who have to actively resist the urge to flip out and ruin people's happiest memories, but they remain playable and capable of perverse nobility even as they're wrecking lives left, right and centre.
- The Wayward creed from Hunter: The Reckoning cannot turn off their second sight, so they see the monsters that walk amongst humanity 24/7. They also have no empathy for the masses. Their fight against the supernatural does not care about collateral damage: if a Wayward thinks the most efficient way to kill a vampire that controls a local business is to bomb the building while he's inside (along with all of the innocent employees), then he'll bring it down. The iconic Wayward, God 45, is implied to have stolen a nuclear weapon during the Time of Judgment.
- Warhammer 40,000: Grimdark as it is, this is the norm.
- One of the requirements for Space Marine candidates is a near-psychotic willingness to kill, as killing is pretty much what he'll be doing for the rest of his life. There's two important caveats to the "psychotic willingness" part, though: first is that the Space Marines are disciplined soldiers who must treat psychosis as a tool, and secondly they know full well "psychotic" is relative, so they prefer to recruit from planets where death is a normal part of daily life, even at a young age, in order to mitigate the shock.
- And then there's the forces of Chaos, who are actually split into those who want to kill everything, those who want to rape everything, those want want to infect everything with hideous diseases, and those who betray their allies at the worst possible moment.
- Reaver from Fable fits this trope to a tee. In Fable 2, he's explicitly described as "The Hero of Skill", and yet he carries out so many evil actions that you are left wondering exactly how he's supposed to be better than the designated villain Lucien. In both games you have to keep him as an ally! The reason that so many players wanted to kill him include:
- Continuously sacrificing villagers from Oakvale to maintain his youth.
- Pretending to help the Hero of Bowerstone but instead trying to sacrifice them to maintain his youth
- Betraying the Hero again by deciding to collect the bounty Lucien has put on him
- Killing the lovable inventor Barnum when Reaver discovers it will take three months to "developorise" his photograph.
- If the player waits too long, killing Lucien and depriving the player of the revenge they have waited years for.
- Returning in Fable 3 as the evil, exploitative and cruel ruler of Bowerstone Industrial, where he shoots dissidents and happily uses child labour.
- Sicking various horrible creatures on the player as part of his Wheel of Misfortune.
- Compulsorily becoming the player's royal advisor and advocating all manner of nasty schemes
- Raiden from the Metal Gear series was a child soldier in Liberia since 1989. He seems to be harmless in Metal Gear Solid 2 but in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has him going back to his sociopathic, more psychopathic persona as a major plot point later on. However Raiden was hell-bent on saving the children from being forced into being killer cyborgs since he wants to prevent them from the same horrific childhood happening to others.
- Karel from Fire Emblem Elibe fits this trope in Rekka no Ken, where he was a massive Blood Knight known as the Sword Demon who eventually rediscovers a part of his humanity through his supports. In Fuuin no Tsurugi, his Older and Wiser self is the famed Saint of Swords, and acts much calmer.
- Jade Curtiss from Tales of the Abyss is a genuinely compelling example of this, being mentioned as killing animals for fun in his childhood, not being able to form significant emotional bonds, and being described by his own sister as having something "wrong" with the way he thinks. Despite what can be easily interpreted as a genuine lack of most emotions and morality, he has come to be troubled by his lack of comprehension in those areas and still tries to consciously compensate for this by doing what he speculates others would see as the "right" thing. It manages to be deeply touching when near the end of the story Jade calmly tells Luke that even though Luke is objectively the better choice to die, he is compelled to stop him because he considers Luke his friend.
- Wario, when he isn´t making microgames or causing mischief alongside his partner Waluigi, is one of the purest examples of this trope. All of Wario´s adventures (with the only exception being Wario Land III, and even that´s questionable) are motivated by his greed. He rampages through lands, collecting hundreds of coins and treasures, smashing hordes of enemies in brutal ways, smashing the coins out of the enemies, and looking for more treasure, while clearly enjoying himself during it. He pulls no stops whatsoever, and the only reason why he is considered an anti-hero is because he usually fights agaisn´t people who are even greedier, or because they are trying to destroy the world. Some people like to think of Mona, his supposed girlfriend, as his Morality Pet, but it´s obvious Wario cares very little for her or any of his friends.
- Morrigan of Dragon Age: Origins is one of the Stupid Evil variants: her answer to everything tends to be "Eh, we don't need to help them, let's just kill everyone." This has at least some justification since her only social interaction for most of her life came from her mother, who might have intentionally crippled her emotionally in order to make her easier to eventually possess.
- The Warden can be played as such, which actually resonates with their entire order. Depersonalization is one of the reasons why the Wardens are such effective warriors, as we are often reminded the Grey Wardens can and will do whatever it takes to defeat the Darkspawn. Even if it means razing a city to the ground to save the people within.
- The Legion of the Dead are also comprised at least partially of this. Exiles, criminals, murderers and even rapists from Orzammar are accepted as members, who hold their own funerals when they join, consider themselves dead, and are willing to spend their last days waging guerrilla warfare and full head-on assaults against the Darkspawn horde.
- Kain really is a sociopathic hero, in that he was afflicted with some kind of mental illness seconds after he was born, making him megalomaniacal, anti-social (in the psychological sense of the term), and incapable of empathy. However, despite being a Villain Protagonist, he's the only real hope Nosgoth's got.
- Caim from Drakengard. The game makes it obvious he's only after The Empire for his own revenge: That they happen to be the ones trying to summon Elder Evils from beyond the Veil to destroy reality itself is incidental to him. He kicks enough dogs during the events of the first game to fill a small cart, butchers his way through several armies (some of which contain Child Soldiers) with a Slasher Smile on his face, and even his human-hating dragon companion finds his shenanigans a bit over-the-top.
- Averted in the second game. Not because Caim has had a change of heart, just that the new main character Nowe is on the receiving end of his bad side.
- In the lore of The Elder Scrolls, Pelinal Whitestrake, the Divine Crusader, was a legendary hero and companion to Saint Alessia who was instrumental in toppling the tyrannical Ayleid Empire and personally slew their leader, Umaril. He was also a frothing-at-the-mouth racist and berserker who once did something so heinous it nearly caused the Divines to turn their backs on mortal life.
- You can choose to play as one in the games. You get around to saving the world, but you have the option to kill and steal as much as you please. You can wipe out entire cities if you want.
- Kratos from God of War. In some games he's a somewhat-tragic Byronic Hero, in others he's just a rampaging deicide machine, but no matter what he's on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and anyone in his way is going to be splattered on the walls, regardless of consequences.
- Mass Effect 2 has the Bounty Hunter and Punch Clock Hero mercenary Zaeed. While he doesn't exact always propose Murder Is the Best Solution, he probably wouldn't be against suggestions for it, though he makes clear at a few points that he has standards nonetheless. The same game features Jack, a biotic Tyke Bomb who's been so abused and beaten that at this point the only pleasure she finds any more is in killing. It helps that the men who trained her would torture her any time she showed mercy, and inject her with drugs to get her to associate pleasure with killing.
- Depending on how the player chooses, Shepard can also be a sociopath hero, wielding Insane Troll Logic and shooting people on a whim. That's what gives us the YouTube videos Commander Shepard is Such a Jerk and Commander Shepard is Still a Jerk. If you want to believe Shepard is a megalomaniacal paranoid schizophrenic who happens to have a fixation on a threat that, coincidentally, happens to exist, go right ahead.
- Alex Mercer from [PROTOTYPE] is a very complex case, but he ends up being well-intentioned in the end, saving New York from destruction. Doesn't prevent him from being an Axe Crazy Psycho Prototype who savagely kills his enemies, consumes people (though the player can choose whether to eat civilians or not) and has a hard backstory behind him. By the time the second game rolls around he's definitely no longer a hero - but no longer a sociopath, either.
- While the original Vault Hunters of Borderlands toed the line (especially Brick), most of the new Vault Hunters in the sequel qualify big time. Axton is a Glory Hound who committed treason against his government and purposefully puts his allies in danger just so he can look like a badass, Salvador h has too much fun slaughtering his way across the Planet, and Zer0 is a Blood Knight assassin who will kill anyone if the price and challenge is right. Even Maya and Gaige, easily the most moral of the new Vault Hunters, are more than willing to viciously taunt their enemies, making Maya a Type 2 antiheroine with hints of Type 3 and Gaige a Type 3.
- Guybrush Threepwood, especially in Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, where just about everything he does, from stealing, to framing people, to blatantly cheating at things, is a jerkass move. Many fans of the series enjoy the sheer feeling of power this game provides.
- Interestingly, while Ultima IV is written with the clear expectation that you should be the diametric opposite of this, there is the fact that Virtues can't actually go below zero. So there's nothing stopping you from spending the first part of the game stealing, murdering city guards for money and experience, abusing the trust of blind herbalists by underpaying them for their services, and messing around with incredibly evil skulls... until you have a few levels under your belt, plenty of money, and reagents for your spells, at which point you turn into a living saint. Also, while giving money to beggars is Compassionate, doing so by giving one coin at a time (to maximise the reward) is questionable ethics.
- 60% of what makes Deponia's main protagonist Rufus unlikable is his jerkass personality. 40% is the fact that he solves half of his problems by blowing stuff up. Or setting up a domino-effect. Or even killing people.
- The Spartans from Halo are said to have "mild sociopathic tendencies" due to their years of being formed into killing machines, though it's shown throughout the series that the Spartans do care about others, with Jorge-052 at one point even going out of his way to comfort a civilian stranger who just lost her father.
- Dr. Halsey, creator of the original Spartan-IIs, has elements of this. She kidnapped children and subjected them to grueling training as well physical augmentations that left many of them crippled or worse. Even the secretive and manipulative AI Assembly, despite approving of her work, though that she might have had an "undiagnosed, undocumented, or deliberately obfuscated chemical imbalance" in her neural system. While she does feel a great deal of guilt about her role in all of this (as does Cortana, an AI clone of her brain), she expresses absolutely none of it in public and remains adamant that it was necessary, even after ONI (the people who approved the entire project in the first place) arrest her to use as a scapegoat.
- The Office of Naval Intelligence (the aforementioned ONI) is basically an entire agency made up of these; apart from green-lighting SPARTAN-II in the first place, they also approved SPARTAN-III (which, despite absolutely zero involvement from Halsey, still used children, but as suicide super soldiers; the two Spartans we've seen who actually play this trope straight, Emile-A239 and Jonah, are both IIIs), experimenting on prisoners with the galaxy-destroying Flood virus, sabotaging the one major post-Covenant faction who supports humanity's right to exist (and strengthening the anti-human factions in the process), secretly sacrificing an entire colony to capture a Covenant ship, etc.
- James Ackerson, head of SPARTAN-III, is a good individual example of an ONI sociopath; despite a distinguished record both on and off the field (even using his last moments in life to help save Cleveland from a Covenant attack), he's also often prioritizes his personal ambition over the greater good, to the point where he actually tried to get the Master Chief himself killed in a training accident on Reach when the Covenant were already attacking the planet.
- The Boss from Saints Row, despite preferring the term "Puckish Rogue".
- An common interpretation of the Persona 3 and (to a lesser degree) 4 protagonists - to max out Social links (and to attain power) the protagonists are capable of tailoring their personalities to be whatever is needed by the subject, in order to be loved and trusted. They're also capable of dating about every single girl in the game, at the same time, with no qualms at all - with the third game's male protagonist being required to do this to achieve full completion.
- However, in Persona 4 Golden, dating more than one girl (with the exception of Marie) will force you to reject all but one of them in a continuous series of fully voice-acted scenes, and the game will call you out on Your Cheating Heart.
- It helps that in Persona 3, the only way to complete Social links with girls is to romance them, so if you wanted to get 100% completion, you had to cheat on everyone. Persona 4 introduced non-romantic resolutions to the girls' social links, thus removing the issue somewhat.
- Xanauzumaki's Alternate Character Interpretation of Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask Link.
- From the first episode of Majora's Mask: (To the tune of the Hokey-Pokey) "You push your blade back in, you pull your blade back out, you push your blade back in, and you twist it all about. You stab and disembowel them until they start to shout, that's what it's all about, Second Verse!"
- Loophole of the Whateley Universe has slipped from the perfect southern belle into this as of A Cold Plate of Vengeance given what she does to an enemy who mind-raped her. And then doesn't see anything wrong with using a holographic projection of said rapist as the face for Loophole's AI.
- SF Debris Alternate Character Interpretation of Janeway is played like this (to the point of being the Big Bad of the franchise). While it is done for humor there are several times where the Janeway in the show does something either as bad or worse than SFDebris!Janeway.
- In his review of Latent Image he compared his Janeway and the show's Janeway's solutions to the events of the episode. He gave up partway when he realized that the real Janeway's solution was more extreme than her own parody.
- Near the end of V3 of Survival of the Fittest, Dominica Shapiro realizes that she has become this just before she throws herself at the terrorists guns a-blazing in a bid to keep the escaping students safe, and to have some fun in the meanwhile.
- The Light Warriors in 8-Bit Theater would more or less be this, with emphasis on the "In name only" part.
- Except Fighter, who's just incredibly stupid.
- Last Res0rt has Jason Spades, who considers himself a hero... y'know, except for that whole "wanting to kill Daisy" thing.
- In The Order of the Stick we have Belkar, an Axe Crazy Knife Nut halfling. Word of God makes it VERY clear that Belkar is 100% Chaotic Evil. For most of his screen time he fits better into Heroic Comedic Sociopath, though there have definitely been moments where his impulsive bloodlust causes drama and even setbacks for the rest of the team. For example, during Roy's afterlife judgement it's mentioned that Belkar would normally cause Roy a lot of karma demerits if the team weren't so good at directing Belkar's violence toward the villains.
- After coming to the conclusion that he needs to fake character development, Belkar has become more cooperative with the rest of the team. In other words, he's gone from being a sociopath to...being a slightly higher-functioning sociopath.
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has the Iron Sociopath who fights crime because it gives him an opportunity to commit violence unpunished.
- The Scarecrow of Goth Oz has No Social Skills, casually aims a gun at his crush's head, and constantly tries to get to first base with her.