-> ''"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."''
-->-- '''Music/{{Fireaxe}}''', ''Music/FoodForTheGods'', "The Lesson Learned"

This character righteously murders and tortures people for their own good. No, not self-righteously. Righteously. After all, no horrors in life could possibly compare to eternal damnation in {{Hell}}. Yes, he is really willing [[IDidWhatIHadToDo to go the extra mile]] to save their souls. Unless they are AlwaysChaoticEvil, of course: In that case he simply do whatever is in his power to [[WouldBeRudeToSayGenocide exterminate]] them, up to and including finding a FinalSolution.

If he showed up in RealLife, any reasonable person would consider him a WindmillCrusader or worse. But this is not real life. An in-story audience may or may not know it, but the cosmology they use to justify their actions is true. WordOfGod says he is not deluded, and the threats he is facing are not windmills. Note, however, that being right about the cosmology of the setting doesn't automatically mean that they are doing the ''right thing'' from an external standpoint; just because demons are real doesn't automatically justify any actions taken to fight them. Most examples of this trope are therefore likely to be fairly controversial with the audience.

Mostly an UndeadHorseTrope.

Compare HeavenSeeker and TheSoulSaver, who do not use so harsh methods. Also compare {{Psychopomp}}. Contrast WindmillCrusader, who might incorrectly believe himself to save souls, and KnightTemplar, who may or may not actually save souls but either way isn't justified in his over-zealousness. Compare and contrast HeteronormativeCrusader, who depending on the setting might be either a WindmillCrusader or a Soul Saving Crusader. There is significant overlap with TheExtremistWasRight, though the extremist can have any motivation.

Please note that this trope depends on the audience being able to see the setting/universe from the outside, and that it thus cannot have any RealLife examples -- subverted or otherwise.


[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]
* In ''Webcomic/AxisPowersHetalia'', UsefulNotes/{{Prussia}}'s child days as UsefulNotes/TheTeutonicKnights was as pious as he was brash. His religiosity, however, mellowed out significantly by the time the UsefulNotes/ColdWar ended.
* The Iscariot Organization in ''Manga/{{Hellsing}}''
* An interpretation of ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'' is that [[spoiler:the title character becomes this, effectively killing people before they literally become monsters]].
** The witch Elsa Maria has shades of this, having a Catholic theme and [[ImAHumanitarian absorbing people]] in order to "save" them.

[[folder: Comic Books ]]
* ''Comicbook/{{Lucifer}}'' contains various subversions of this trope, including the angel Remiel from ''ComicBook/TheSandman''.
* [[ZigZaggingTrope ZigZagged]] in ''ComicBook/{{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 GodIsEvil -- and thus, saving souls for him actually isn't a moral thing to do.
* Jack Chick gets really overboard with this trope in the ComicBook/ChickTract called ''[[http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/1070/1070_01.asp Uninvited]]'': The tract features [[HeteronormativeCrusader 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 {{anvilicious}}ly bigoted AuthorTract. The real kick? It turns out that all the homosexuals became homosexuals because they were sexually molested as children. [[ArtisticLicenseReligion More to the point, when a child is sexually molested, she automatically becomes unclean, possessed by a demon of defilement]]. The trope DefiledForever is played straight for everyone who isn't both TheFundamentalist ''and'' a Christian. Averted for all characters who are (or become) HolierThanThou.

[[folder: Film ]]
* 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 [[TruthInTelevision would agree]].
* ''Film/{{Frailty}}'': Adam and Fenton's father seems like a deranged SerialKiller at first who tortures and kills innocent people after hallucinating that he's been given a MissionFromGod to "destroy demons", but the ending reveals that [[spoiler:it was all true: those people really ''were'' demons and their father was a SerialKillerKiller.]]

[[folder: Literature ]]
* ''The Grail Quest'' trilogy by Creator/BernardCornwell has several of these, one of whom is a primary antagonist in the second book.

[[folder: Music ]]
* Seen several times in Music/{{Fireaxe}}'s ''Music/FoodForTheGods'', hence the page quote.

[[folder: Mythology and Religion ]]
* In the ''Literature/{{Mahabharata}}'', King Shantanu gets to marry 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.

[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]
* {{Zig Zagged Trope}}ed in ''TabletopGame/FadingSuns''. The Church attempts to impose "extreme penance" on psychics, and this ''is'' effective in reducing a psychic's [[TheDarkSide Urge]]; also, some psis and theurges can in fact see into someone's soul, detect his/her sins, and determine the appropriate means for correcting that soul. However, Church doctrine is not always correct regarding what qualifies as a sin; for example, Invention is ''not'' a sin in the eyes of [[{{God}} the Pancreator]] (as far as any powers can determine), but don't tell that to a Church official.
* The player can potentially become one of these in ''TabletopGame/{{KULT}}'' -- it's possible to enlighten people in a positive manner, but it's often easier to drive them over the DespairEventHorizon.
* In Target Games' ''TabletopGame/MutantChronicles'', the Inquisition and its methods are a necessary evil to defend humanity from the forces of Darkness.
* Done in Games Workshop's ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}}'' and ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' (RecycledInSpace), 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 ScaryDogmaticAliens 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 ''[[MindControl makes them think]]'' is the right thing. And that "right thing" is [[RedScare Space Communism]] (They may be on the right track, however, since their atheism [[GodNeedsPrayerBadly just might starve the Chaos Gods to death]]).
*** They aren't. The Emperor tried atheism, and it didn't work.
* ''TabletopGame/WerewolfTheApocalypse'': Gaia-affiliated Garou kill bane-possessed people (formori) not only as part of the war against the Wyrm, but [[MercyKilling to free the host from the misery and slow corruption of bane possession]].

[[folder: Video Games ]]
* This is essentially the motivation for the OmnicidalManiac BigBad of ''VideoGame/{{Arcanum}}'', as there genuinely is an afterlife that is better than this world in that universe that everyone goes to upon death. Thus, he is portrayed rather sympathetically.
* Basium in ''VideoGame/FallFromHeaven'' is essentially a {{Deconstruction}}. [[KnightTemplar He wants bad people and demons purged from the world and locked back into Hell]]. He also wants to see ''good'' people killed, so they can go to Heaven as quickly as possible. In short, [[OmnicidalManiac he wants everyone dead as quickly as possible]], [[EsotericHappyEnding because it's the right thing to do]].
* The Investigation Team in ''VideoGame/{{Persona 4}}'' at first think Taro Namatame is one of these, due to his... unhinged behavior and his insistence that he's "saving" people. [[spoiler:He isn't. He means save literally: he genuinely thinks he's protecting people from the real killer by kidnapping them and putting them into the TV world. He just doesn't realize it's the TV world that's killing them, or that he's playing directly into the killer's hands.]]
* The BigBad in ''VideoGame/{{OFF}}'' is a case of this. [[spoiler:[[VillainProtagonist The Batter]] intends to "[[PureIsNotGood purify]]" [[OmnicidalManiac everyone and everything]] because he genuinely believes that death is preferable to living in a CrapsackWorld. This includes both his wife and his creator, who is also ''[[WouldHurtAChild his infant son.]]'']]