"And in the end the lesson was learned,
The Emperor knew you must suffer to be saved,
And he set out to save the world."
This character righteously murders and tortures people for their own good. No, not self-righteously. Righteously. After all, no horrors in life could possible compare to eternal damnation in Hell
. Yes, he is really willing to go the extra mile
to save their souls. Unless they are Always Chaotic Evil
, of course: In that case he simply do whatever is in his power to exterminate
them, up to and including finding a Final Solution
If he showed up in Real Life
, any reasonable person would consider him a Windmill Crusader
or worse. But this is not real life. An in-story audience may or may not know it, but all his actions are completely justified. Word of God
says he is not deluded, the threats he is facing are not windmills, and given the circumstances... he is
actually doing the right thing.
Mostly an Undead Horse Trope
Compare Heaven Seeker
and The Soul Saver
, who do not use so harsh methods, and thus can be good regardless of if the beliefs are justified or not. Also compare Psychopomp
. Contrast Windmill Crusader
, who might incorrectly believe himself to save souls, and Knight Templar
, who may or may not actually save souls but either way isn't justified in his over-zealousness. Compare and contrast Heteronormative Crusader
, who depending on the setting might be either a Windmill Crusader
or a Soul Saving Crusader. There is significant overlap with The Extremist Was Right
, though the extremist can have any motivation.
Please note that this trope depend on the audience being able to see the setting/universe from the outside, and that it thus cannot have any Real Life
examples — subverted or otherwise.
Anime and Manga
- Lucifer contains various subversions of this trope, including the angel Remiel from The Sandman.
- ZigZagged in Preacher: It turns out that the protagonist's horrible family WAS in fact doing the good Lords work when they tortured him and murdered his father and all the other horrors they committed in order to force him to become a priest. And their actions would indeed have kept him safe from eternal damnation, if he hadn't rebelled later. However, it also turns out that God Is Evil — and thus, saving souls for him actually isn't a moral thing to do.
- Jack Chick gets really overboard with this trope in the Chick Tract called "Uninvited": The tract features a nurse who harasses dying AIDS-patients for their "crime" of being gay. Of course, as a Soul Saving Crusader, her actions are fully justified, since this is an anviliciously bigoted Author Tract. The real kick? It turns out that all the homosexuals became homosexuals because they were sexually molested as children. More to the point, when a child is sexually molested, she automatically becomes unclean, possessed by a demon of defilement. The trope Defiled Forever is played straight for everyone who isn't both The Fundamentalist and a Christian. Averted for all characters who are (or become) Holier Than Thou.
- In the film The God Who Wasn't There, the Spanish Inquisition is briefly cast in this role. If they really kept all those souls out of hell, then it would be petty to whine about their systematic torture and murder of the people they in fact spared from a much worse fate. The real Spanish Inquisition would agree.
Mythology and Religion
- The Grail Quest trilogy by Bernard Cornwell has several of these, one of whom is a primary antagonist in the second book.
- In the Mahabharata, King Shantanu gets to marry marries the beautiful Ganga, the goddess of the Ganges river, on the condition that he never question anything she does. She uses this to drown every baby she gives birth too; when he finally begs her to stop with the eighth baby, she explains that they are reincarnated sinners who get to clear their karma this way, and now that he broke her rule she has to leave him.
- Done in Games Workshop's Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 (Recycled In Space), where the humanity must be protected through Inquisition.
- But then again, in that universe, Chaos Gods were created by passion, and, well, zealotry is a passion...
- Perhaps the Imperium is going to be destroyed by the birth of the Chaos God of zealotry, and then the Tau will take over...
- The Tau are Scary Dogmatic Aliens who are made physically ill by the thought of not doing the right thing. That is, what they think is the right thing. Which is to say, what their ruling caste makes them think is the right thing.
- In Target Games' Mutant Chronicles, the Inquisition and its methods are a necessary evil to defend humanity from the forces of Darkness.
- The player can potentially become one of these in KULT — it's possible to enlighten people in a positive manner, but it's often easier to drive them over the Despair Event Horizon.
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse: Gaia-affiliated Garou kill bane-possessed people (formori) not only as part of the war against the Wyrm, but to free the host from the misery and slow corruption of bane possession.
- Zigzagged in Fading Suns. The Church attempts to impose "extreme penance" on psychics, and this is effective in reducing a psychic's Urge; also, some psis and theurges can in fact see into someone's soul, detect their sins and determine the appropriate means for correcting them. However, Church doctrine is not always correct regarding what qualifies as a sin; for example, Invention is not a sin in the eyes of the Pancreator (as far as any powers can determine), but don't tell that to a Church official.