After all, there's a fist in every pacifist.
If you live in an action-adventure show-universe (or perhaps a videogame), violence is one of those things that you just can't escape. This can be a real problem if you want your leading man to be a new-agey tree-hugging intellectual, because, now that Hunter S. Thompson is dead, how many gun-toting hippies do you know?
So you end up with the Technical Pacifist. The Technical Pacifist is willing to beat people up as much as he wants. He may even get a few fatalities through the fridge. However, once it comes down to a choice between killing the villain and not killing the villain, the Technical Pacifist will not kill the villain.
Unlike the principle of Thou Shalt Not Kill, the Technical Pacifist is certainly capable of making the killing strike if there was no other way, but he doesn't ever treat it lightly. In a certain variation he may be perfectly fine with the Self-Disposing Villain who is Too Dumb to Live being defeated because of his own Villain Ball or being Hoist by His Own Petard; so long as he doesn't personally pull the trigger or push them off the building, everything is fine. A Murder By Inaction may also be fine. But of course, since fans expect the good guys to pick up the Hero Ball whenever possible, if the hero is capable of saving the bad guy then he is expected to save the bad guy.
Sometimes, a Technical Pacifist may have an aversion to certain weapons due to their lethality (most often guns), preferring to fight with his fists and other blunt weapons that are less likely to kill someone. Other times, he employs swords or even bullets in ways designed to subdue his opponents in a non-lethal manner. Not only that but most other rules regarding Thou Shalt Not Kill are usually thrown out the window in the case of dealing with aliens, robots, zombies and/or monsters.
There is a villainous variant of the Technical Pacifist, often seen with the Corrupt Corporate Executive and the Worthy Opponent. In the former case, this is a Big Bad who has no qualms about killing people, but doesn't like to get his hands dirty (or at least to be seen getting his hands dirty). So he has someone else do it instead. This invariably leads to the hero being locked in an Easily Escapable Deathtrap so that the villain won't get bloodstains on his suit. This tends to drop away when he's backed into a corner. In the latter case, the Worthy Opponent just refuses to use a gun because it's "not fair".
Can result in Fridge Logic, especially when this is executed by stretching Never Say "Die" and Could Have Been Messy beyond Willing Suspension of Disbelief's outer limits.
See also Family-Friendly Firearms and Improbable Weapon User. See also Martial Pacifist, for the martial arts expert who follows The Path of Peace.
Contrast Actual Pacifist for somebody who genuinely doesn't hurt people, instead of hurting them less, and Reckless Pacifist for someone who refuses to kill, ever, but comes frighteningly close to doing so. Compare Reluctant Warrior, who despite not wanting to fight, does fight and kills, much to their own regret.
Doesn't Like Guns is a subtrope, where hurting and killing is OK, as long as he doesn't use a gun to do it.
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Ah! My Goddess: Belldandy is only ever reluctant to do violence, even wanting to talk down an Eldritch Abomination. Generally, the only time she'll actually use those immense powers she has for fighting is if someone threatens her sisters or Keiichi. Even then her combat is, at worst, of the "surprising what you can live through" variety. The rules under which gods and demons live make this pretty much mandatory for them both. "Sealing" and various harassment are okay, but killing just takes out someone on your own side too.
Graham of Baccano! is violent, but he doesn't like killing people because it makes him feel guilty.
Kaname Tousen of Bleach believes in the path of least bloodshed, but is concerned more with unnecessary bloodshed than no bloodshed at all, being he is more than willing to shed a little blood when necessary, such as attacking fellow captain Zaraki Kenpachi or chopping off Grimmjow's arm. He's all about justice, but it's recently been revealed that "justice" and "good" may not be the same thing in his book, as he only joined the Gotei 13 to get revenge on them for the death of his friend.
Chad. He doesn't want to fight, and won't fight for himself, but if you threaten his friends, particularly Ichigo, he will kick your ass.
Kon. He refuses to kill, due to his past, but has no qualms about attacking a Hollow, with no weapon, if he wants to protect someone.
A weird subversion of this is seen in Corrector Yui, where the corrector program Peace has the power of materializing any kind of weapons, but doesn't use them, ever, because he says he's a pacifist and won't fight or use weapons. Instead, he gives it to other correctors to use against their enemies.
Goku in Dragon Ball becomes an example of this after Character Development. While he loves fighting and training to become stronger, he doesn't kill his opponent if he can help it, giving even his worst enemies a Last-Second Chance. Throughout Dragon Ball Z, he is directly responsible for the deaths of only two villains: Yakon, who blew up after gorging himself on too much of Goku's energy, and Buu, the series' final Big Bad. And he even wished for Buu to reincarnate as a good being. And he does, though it's more of a cameo barring the anime-only Dragon Ball GT.
Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist, as well as his brother Alphonse, and maybe Izumi Curtis too - all are quite willing to beat the crap out of people but aren't killers. Ed also fits the "doesn't like guns" variety of Technical Pacifist. Colonel Mustang and his followers take this stance during the coup d'tat they stage in the endgame. They disarm and injure every enemy soldier they come across, but they refuse to kill any. It's partly this trope and partly a way of flipping off the members of High Command.
Gantz: Katou. He's the personification of this trope taken to its logical conclusion.
Rushuna of Grenadier. She lives in an Alternate Universe of the Japanese Civil War that has rifles and super-weapons, but is dedicated to winning battles by making the enemy lose his will to fight and not attacking the enemy. This doesn't work, so she ends up using her six-shooter to shoot scores of villains, just making sure no one dies with her Improbable Aiming Skills. However in the manga no qualm with killing is mentioned, and its more through random happenstance that her shots are non-lethal than any intent (such as running out of bullets just as she presses her gun to an opponent's head and pulls the trigger).
Gundam has a number of these characters across multiple series. More recent works have particularly showcased this philosophy, but it was not unknown in older series.
In G Gundam, all world governments have adopted this as policy by agreeing to the Gundam Fight as a means of deciding national superiority rather than outright warfare. Unfortunately, the Gundam Fight system is still riddled with corruption and other problems.
The Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Team becomes Technical Pacifists in The Movie, primarily because the enemy soldiers have been lied to by their leader and think they're fighting for a noble cause when, in fact, it's all about said leader's mad desire for revenge. As soon as the deception is revealed, every single pilot surrenders willingly. In the series itself, only Quatre is like this from the start as he's from a family of Actual Pacifists rather than Child Soldiers. While he will kill when necessary, he's the only one of the five who will call for surrender first.
It has to be added that at the end of the film, when on Earth and fighting at AT LEAST 50-1 odds, the Gundam pilots, along with Zechs and Noin, fight and wipe out nearly all of the enemy forces before their own suits began to take damage and run out of ammo...without a SINGLE enemy pilot dying. This is lampshaded by the Gundam pilots, who joke that if they were aiming to kill, they'd have won so much sooner.
Loran Cehack of ∀ Gundam will not hesitate to kill, but only after he's exhausted all other means to resolve whatever conflict he's part of without bloodshed. He also makes a point of using his Gundam for many non-combat purposes, like laundry and livestock transport.
Kira Yamato of Gundam SEED is a unique example. About halfway through the series he decides that he'll no longer kill people as he believes his enemies are generally good people who deserve to live but he'll continue to fight in order to put an end to the confict. He aims to disable his opponents (usually by dismembering their mobile suits) rather than kill them. And given the combination of his skills and the multiple extremely accurate weapons of the Freedom Gundam, he's very good at that, sometimes disarming many dozens of mooks in a matter of seconds. However, in a few cases, he does kill people, generally when the stakes are very high and many, many lives are on the line. He has also occasionally killed someone by accident, such as Stella in the Destroy Gundam.
That technical pacifism eventually bites Kira in the ass when Shinn is out for his blood and knows very well that Kira never targets the cockpit, only the weapons and optical sensors. Despite the Freedom being the Bigger Stick, Shinnstill manages totake it down for good. Though later in that fight Kira does wise up and aims a lethal blow at the Impulse's cockpit, Shinn only survived because of his mobile suit's gimmick. He learned from this experience because the next time he ran into Shinn (both now in their Midseason Upgrades, the Strike Freedom and Destiny, respectively), he stopped holding back so much and went straight for kill shots; though he made no attempt to pursue when Shinn was forced to retreat due to low energy/ammo.
Rau Le Creuset's death is a much clearer example. Kira was severely angry at his philosophies on life and humanity, plus the fact that he had just killed Kira's ex-lover Flay. He's also piloting the first Humongous Mecha in the series to prove at least a match for Kira's Freedom Gundam, and has the skills to put it to good use, meaning that it would have been virtually impossible for Kira to stop him without killing him.
Kira's girlfriend, Lacus, is another Technical Pacifist. While she doesn't do any fighting herself, she shares Kira's ideals, and willingly uses him as a sword to deal with those who try to prolong the war.
Speaking of Gundam SEED, Lowe Guele of Gundam SEED Astray is like this. The charter for the Junk Guild says that members can only attack if they are attacked and when Lowe fights back in the Red Frame, it's usually to disable. Of course, this is a guy who repaired a mecha-sized katana, built a 150 meter version of the same weapon and designed an all-purpose sword of a mercenary. It gets even funnier when you play him in an SRW or a G-Generation game.
To quote the man himself in his promotional anime short: "Don't worry, I'm a Junk Tech. I don't kill."
Banagher Links of Gundam Unicorn has a very low kill count throughout the campaign despite the possibility of his mobile suit going berserk and taking control for him. He has a Heroic BSOD the first time he kills someone.
Kio Asuno of Mobile Suit Gundam AGE becomes this from Episode 40 onwards after spending time in Vagan, where he learned about the hellish conditions the citizens go through in their life. While he will sortie, he only uses his weapons to disable less-skilled opponents and for self-defense.
Rally Vincent in Gunsmith Cats (or at least the manga) is reluctant to kill, despite being an expert in fire gun's use and maintenance, and having a day job as the owner of a Gun's shop and a night job as a bounty hunter. She is pretty proficient at shooting down the other's gun's hammer/trigger, or, if pissed off enough, their trigger fingers. Though she'll kill bad guys if a good guy is in dire danger, she would regret it. Her sidekick, Minnie May, holds a similar morale, though her specialty are bombs.
Tsuna from Katekyo Hitman Reborn! clearly hates fighting (he always has a saddened frown when in Hyper Dying Will mode), and he never kills human opponents. However, he is fine with destroying robots as long as no one is piloting them, and he will not hesitate to kill those he deems as "monsters." Case in point, after he obliterates Byakuran (a human) with an X-Burner, he and his friends seem to have no second thoughts about killing someone.
Ryozanpaku from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple teach the Katsujin-ken (life giving fist). Freya wields the Simple Staff because it allows her to defeat her enemies without killing them or causing any serious injuries. She refused to continue fighting Kisara after her staff broke and turned into a sharp and dangerous weapon.
Yang Wen-Li from Legend of Galactic Heroes would love to live in a universe in peace and claims to be totally inept when it comes to guns and actual fighting. He is also directly responsible for the death of tens of millions of imperial soldiers and is quite aware of the contradiction.
Itachi Uchiha witnessed the horrors of the Third Great Shinobi War when he was about four to five years old, and it traumatized him to the point that he hated war with a passion, and loved peace, no matter fragile it was. Since then he has been a technical pacifist, preferring to use his unbelievable genjutsu powers to incapacitate his opponents rather than take lethal action. Ironically it was his desire to avert another war that caused Itachi to wipe out his entire rebellious clan under Danzo's orders.
Naruto himself is one of these; from the first chapter for more than 600 chapters to the present, he has never, ever, ever actually killed someone. It's not that he won't kill if he has to, although he doesn't like it, events have just conspired to ensure that he has never actually caused someone to die by his own hands. Even Kakuzu, the first victim of his devastating Rasenshuriken technique, somehow managed to survive what should have been a killing blow just so he could be finished off by Kakashi instead.
Played straighter with Smoker. He's one of the more ruthless Marine captains, but unlike some of the Knight Templar or General Ripper characters that rank above him, or equal to him after the Time Skip, he never beats pirates into bloody messes, or kills them; he always does just enough to incapacitate them to be arrested.
Tetsunosuke from Peacemaker Kurogane, due to huge trauma from his past, refuses to kill people. Even though he's in the Shinsengumi. This is kind of lampshaded, as he is unable to tell Suzu that Yoshida wasn't killed by him, because he realizes that he just simply used Okita to do the deed for him.
Haru Glory, The Hero of Rave Master believes it's morally wrong to kill other people. Apparently, beating the ever living daylights out of them is perfectly fine, so long as they deserve it (which, of course, they always do). The first main villain, and the final one-the originals son, both had to opt for suicide to be defeated. Never mind that the first killed Haru's mom in cold blood and the second was trying to destroy the world even though he already massacred about half of it. Haru wouldn't kill them. He avoided this with Lucia twice and even tried to convince both of them to live.
Himura Kenshin from Rurouni Kenshin is a Meiji era former assassin that has forsworn the taking of human life and wears/uses a sakabatou (katana forged with a blunted outer edge) more because of this vow than laws against private uses of swords. Of course he will maim and cripple when sufficiently provoked. Lots of times he does stuff with the blunt sword, like hitting people in the throat or smashing them head-first into the ceiling so that they hang there, that could easily kill them, but it never does. Because he's just that awesome a judge of force, apparently.
Andromeda Shun of Saint Seiya, who tends to stop after every other attack to politely ask his opponent to stop so he won't be forced to hurt them, and is more willing to let the bad guys whale on him than release the power he's holding back.
Balsa from Seirei no Moribito is not above wrestling people into submission, knocking the wind out of them, simply pummeling them senseless with the blunt end of her spear, or smashing someone's face in with a rock. However, she has sworn an oath never to take a human life and never deals fatal wounds or fights to kill — in one case she's forced to do so, she goes into a Heroic BSOD after the battle (though she later learns her opponent survived).
Prince Philionel from Slayers doesn't believe in violence. He thus developed Martial Pacifist style with attacks like Pacifist Crush, Kindness to All Creatures kick and Goodwill Towards Men Smash. Though he uses them on Always Chaotic Evil creatures and avoids fighting humans if possible. His daughter Amelia, however, is more justice-obsessed and less restrained.
Exa of Superior sees the war between humans and demons as one big Cycle of Revenge, and refuses to kill so as not to provoke further killing. This doesn't exactly endear him to his fellow humans, most of whom (falsely) see it as a Guilt-Free Extermination War. However, Exa only embraces this trope when he has no other choice. At all other times, he qualifies as an Actual Pacifist who attempts to resolve disputes through diplomacy, runs from fights so long as it won't leave anyone in harms way, and only employs nonlethal magic such as defensive barriers.
The most fundamental appeal to Kamijou Touma. Sure, he's probably the unluckiest man in the world thanks to his Anti-Magic right hand and can still kick your ass in a David Versus Goliath. However, he will never sacrifice anyone or bring himself to actually kill someone whether if it is his friends, his Unwanted Harem, or even villains who were trying to kill him and his said friends. Heck, even the series Anti-Hero, Accelerator, who is known to kill to protect those he cares about, admires Touma for how he is able to protect those around him without sacrificing a single soul.
Touma takes this so far that he spares Fiamma of the Right, the man who started World War III and whom most of the world really really wants dead, after defeating him. He then advises his foe to go out into the world and connect with its people, hoping that will cause him to recognize the error of his previous way of thinking.
25th Baam from Tower of God. Fight when he needs to and holds back as much as he can. As long as you don't get between him and Rachel.
Trigun anime's lead Vash the Stampede lives this trope as his essential gimmick. Outlaw with a very big gun and Improbable Aiming Skills, does a lot of ass-kicking when required, but goes to great and painful lengths to avoid letting anyone be killed. Likely to whack someone with his gun, throw the bullets out the back of the gun, shoot their pants off, get bubblegum into their gun, or let the terrain clobber them if engaging, also very likely to run away. Will deliver non-fatal shots if necessary. Gets sneered at and called either a moron or a hypocrite a lot. Starry-eyed idealist, but scary if pushed far enough. The Big Bad's evil scheming more or less culminates in sending his fanatically loyal psychic Dragon to force Vash to shoot him dead to save his remaining best friends. Object: 'Eternal Suffering to Vash the Stampede.' In the end, shoots Big Bad through all major limbs and carries him into the desert over his shoulder.
The situation in the manga version is slightly different. But he saves the world through psychic powers of love instead of violence in the end, and apparently convinces the Big Bad to give up genocide. Could be partly that he's been left with no allies, almost no power, and a fraction of his former lifespan.
Trigun provides a possible deconstruction. When Vash is seen without his Badass Longcoat on, his entire body is either scar tissue or held together by metal brackets, and is just generally horrible looking. These were wounds he acquired because of the difficulty inherent in winning a gunfight without killing. It is quite likely that he wouldn't have a scratch on him if he was fine with killing, as his Improbable Aiming Skills would allow a more ruthless gunman to kill anyone with one shot from the hip. And there's the fact that he could easily regenerate them all using his Plant powers...but he doesn't want to tap into that power without a really good reason. Such as Knives personally trying to kill him with an AngelArm.
Another argument about Trigun deconstructing the technical pacifist; Vash's philosophy means he must always Save the Villain, even when the villain in question is a monster who has gone so far past the Moral Event Horizon that most would happily argue that he warrants nothing more than being put down like a rabid animal. The series also invites one to consider whether or not Vash is ultimately responsible for all the deaths that Knives commits, simply because Vash refuses to stop him if it means shooting him, and implies that Vash's arguments for being a pacifist are, ultimately, just as childish and naive as the ones Knives uses to justify his Kill All Humans rampage.
In the anime, the biggest scene that can be said to argue for Trigun deconstructing Vash's pacifist stance is the story of what happened after the July 5th incident. Yes, Vash somehow managed to redirect his Angel Arm so that nobody was killed, but the city itself was destroyed... leaving the entire populace stranded in the middle of the desert with no food, water or shelter. Hundreds of thousands of people died a slow, agonising death, or were murdered over meager supplies, all because Vash regard Accidental Collateral Damage as meaningless compared to human lives.
Able Nightroad of Trinity Blood is a priest who explains to everyone he meets that both vampires and humans are God's creatures and that despite any atrocities one may have committed no one deserves to be killed. But he also has to eat...
Thors from Vinland Saga becomes one of these after his desertion from the Jomsviking.
The protagonist of Sadamitsu The Destroyer hates hurting his opponents more than he has to (he often brings medical supplies to regular brawls so he can patch up his opponents after they're defeated) and hates the sheer lethality of his borrowed powers against alien criminals. He's very happy when his ally creates a bokken for him to use the power with, as it allows him to defeat and seal the aliens without killing them.
Peter Parker is usually depicted as this in Spider-Man. Sure, he's willing to beat the ass out of the villains, but he absolutely refuses to kill anyone, even against said villains. Then again, it's also more or less of his fear of himself if he drops his Thou Shall Not Kill moral code. In fact, when a resurrected Kraven the Hunter offer Spider-Man the opportunity to kill him, he was about to pull a killing blow on Kraven, but later refuses to do so after given a vision of a Bad Future where he becomes mass murdering Anti-Hero vigilante, thus reinforcing his moral code.
King Mob in Grant Morrison's The Invisibles begins the series killing indiscriminately, then turns into a kung-fu master/Technical Pacifist after realizing that the death toll is negatively affecting his karma.
In one Robin comic book, while the Boy Wonder is training with a super secret paramilitary unit, one of the members asks why he and Batman don't use guns. Robin replies that, unlike the cops and the military, Batman and Robin can't appear in a court of law to justify it if they end up killing someone, and they don't have any official authority, so they don't use lethal force.
Which is all a mask for the real reason; Bruce's parents were killed by a gunman, leading his philosophy against lethal force. Obviously they can't tell the world that, but still. However, this rule does not seem to extend to anything that's not human. In an issue of Superman/Batman, you see him standing side-by-side with the Amazons wielding a frickin' BATTLEAXE, which he proceeds to bury in the bodies of numerous clones of Doomsday. His justification? They were never alive to begin with.
Cassandra Cain (Batgirl III). By being able to read body language as a first language means that killing a man makes her feel the horror of the other person's death, thus she doesn't kill.
Bear in mind that the Bat-family are willing to use potentially lethal force - punches can kill, and they use edged weapons, explosives, and, depending on the version, what are essentially guns (the Batpod's cannons in TDKR, for instance). Part of fighting for them is calculating just how much lethal force they can get away with.
Green Arrow started as this, and indeed made it into a form of art, with stunning arrows, sleep/cough gas arrows, electronic disturbance arrows, and his trademark boxing glove arrows. When he accidentally killed a man in the '70s, he more-or-less had a breakdown. After his long-time lover got kidnapped and brutally tortured, though, he killed her captor and kept going from there.
Traditionally, and very unrealistically for a military commander with hundreds of millennia of experience, Optimus Prime has been a Technical Pacifist or close to it. (More accurately, it is unrealistic that a technical pacifist would survive military command that long, though he might certainly want to be a technical pacifist after so much death and combat.) This is likely because the original series were aimed at children. More recent comics produced by IDW make Prime willing not only to kill enemy soldiers, but when absolutely necessary accept collateral damage, though it eats at him.
Both incarnations of Dove, of Hawk & Dove. Don Hall was somewhat more pacifistic than Dawn Granger, but both believed in using as little force as possible, contrasting with Hank/Holly. This is not entirely surprising for characters who are empowered by a Lord of Order to serve as the living embodiment of Peace. If anything, it's almost more shocking that the Doves are allowed to fight at all.
Throughout Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Donatello has been shown to be the most peaceful of the Turtles, but he still needed to be a kickass fighter. So this personality trait was cemented with him fighting with the rather less lethal Bo, instead of something sharp. He's also stated a hatred of guns several times, although it's not clear whether he considers them an "immoral" weapon or whether he's just not comfortable using them.
DC Comics Western character Bat Lash. He sees himself as a pacifist, and hardly ever uses his gun (although he's very good with it). And yet, he keeps finding himself in situations where he has to beat people up, or even kill them.
Nikola Tesla would never lay a hand on anybody. Heavens no! Why would he do that when he has a perfectly functional Atomic Robot to do it for him?
Captain America varies from continuity to continuity, but he's usually unwilling to kill people outside of a combat situation unless it's absolutely necessary to save lives. (In the Silver Age, he never killed at all. In more recent versions, he's killed in war, but he no longer sees lethal force as appropriate, since he's now fighting criminals rather than soldiers.)
Klara Prast of the Runaways fills this role in the current lineup, preferring to use her plant-control powers for either defending her teammates or restraining enemies. But if you upset her to the point where she can't think clearly, all bets are off...
Piper in Zita The Spacegirl at one point has a big row with his ex-girlfriend Madrigal about his unwillingness to fight. Turns out the only time he's really in the mood for a fight is when she's threatened. Makes for a crowning moment of both awesome and heartwarming, and of course the resumption of their relationship.
In the Jackie Chan Adventures fic Queen Of All Oni'', Jackie, like his canon counterpart, counts as this. Also, when Jade is fighting Brother Light, he repeatedly throws her through the walls and down the hill (and at one point, through the roof), and when Jade complains during this he says he is a pacifist:
"I am a pacifist," White objected.
"Wha? Tell that to my bruises!" Jade shouted, pulling up her shirt to show her blue belly.
"Okay, they don't show up well since I'm blue, but trust me they're forming," Jade explained.
"I harm nothing, it is the objects you collide with that harm you," White enlightened her before flinging her away again.
Saito in Stupid Devil Dog acts like this. He have no qualms about using guns (hell, he caries 3 of them around) but try to avoid killing people.
Adam Jensen in Mass Effect Human Revolution wants to be this and stick to non-lethal, but don't push him. Go far enough and he will take the kid gloves off. Go even further than that and he won't even feel bad about ending you.
Theo in Children of Men bashes a couple of heads in self-defense (with a cardoor and car battery, respectively), but not once during the course of the film does he ever pick up a gun.
Sneakers arguably had one of the best uses of this, as the villain (played beautifully by Ben Kingsley) looks at the hero with the line, "I cannot kill my friend." Just as the characters (and the audience) sigh in relief, he turns to his shotgun-carrying minion, and in the exact same tone of voice repeats his last three words.
Averted in Rush Hour 2. One of the fight scenes focuses on everyone in the room trying to get their hand on a gun. A behind-the-scenes DVD featurette shows that the script originally called for Chan's character to have the gun fall in his hand, and then throw it away in disgust. Chan rightly pointed out that, given the fight going on in the room, throwing it away was "stupid."
This is a trait shared by Bruce Lee. Despite never actually using a gun, in most of his latter movies he specifically asks about if he can use one, only for the possibility to be handwaved away. (Enter the Dragon, Uncut Game of Death, for example.) Also, from his 1971 English-language interview: "Why doesn't someone just pull out a .45 and — 'BANG!' — settle it?" In his own writing, he was rather explicit about how guns versus fists would actually fare.
Field of Dreams played this one for laughs: Costner's character is threatening James Earl Jones with a fake gun, prompting Jones to pull out a crowbar and start walking toward Costner with a maniacal but serious look. Costner falls down, muttering about 'rules', then finally gets his act together just in time and shouts "You're a PACIFIST!"...to which he gets a very disappointed look and puts down the crowbar.
Partial example: In Tall Tale, Pecos Bill will not kill a man on a Sunday. He shoots off their trigger finger instead.
Subverted in Blade Trinity. At one point, Blade and his sidekicks get into a fight with a group of security guards armed with nightsticks. The heroes kick and punch the security guards into submission, then Blade whips out a pistol and kills the last one just to show that he can.
In First Blood (but not in the original novel), Rambo largely refrained from using lethal force-even Gault only died when he fell from the helicopter.
Walker does not directly slay any of his enemies in Point Blank.
In the 1997 film The Saint, the Saint neither uses a firearm nor does he take a life, something the prose version of the character had no qualms about. The main gangsters even live to see trial at the end of the film.
In The Glimmer Man, Steven Seagal's character (a police officer) declares he can't fight when he and his partner are held up by some, but then proceeds to fight them (using a razor to slice a couple of throats, then his good old fashions limb breaking attacks and a final kick of one bad guy onto some spiky things). His partner says "I thought you said you can't fight?" to which he answers "It's not that I can't fight; I'm not supposed to. I'm a Buddhist.". Prior in the movie, he neutralises a hostage situation because he knew SWAT would most likely kill the hostage taker (a high school student). The character's history also shows a violent person who converts to Buddhism in Vietnam (the war anyway, he wasn't actually in Vietnam at the time) which explains his skill in fighting.
In Star Wars, the Jedi are made out to be "keepers of the peace" who try to defend life and only kill when necessary. Even when the order is almost defunct, they try to solve problems peacefully rather than rush into battle. Of course, when that fails, they will battle.
Played with in a rather creepy way in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. It's against the White Queen's vows to harm other beings, but she's surprisingly well-prepared for Alice to do so in her stead (even having armor made for Alice to wear) and leads an army out against the Red Queen. Word of God says the reason she swore this vow is out of fear of turning into a monster like the Red Queen if she starts harming others and can't stop. She was so well prepared because Alice was predestined to kill the Red Queen's Dragon.
The priests from Beneath the Planet of the Apes pride themselves on never killing anybody. On the other hand, they have no qualms about using mind-controlling powers to make their prisoners kill each other.
Unlike other action movies dealing with terrorists, Arnold Schwarzenegger never uses a firearm at all to kill anyone in Collateral Damage. Even in the scene when escaping from a police roadblock in Colombia and disarming an officer's AR-15, he just throws it away the instant he gets shot at.
Dr. Heller from Mystery Men is a weapons designer...who builds nothing but non-lethal weapons. Just because they're non-lethal, though, doesn't mean they can't kick huge amounts of ass.
In Batman Begins he refuses to execute a murderer, opting instead to blow up the whole building he is in, let the leader get crushed under a pile of debris, and then rush out, leaving a great many ninjas, as well as the guy he originally refused to kill, in the building, presumably to die in the fire. note Also, he was Bruce Wayne at that point, not Batman, and implicitly killed people travelling around the world, likely in self-defense. Later on, he traps Ducard on a train, after demolishing the supports to its track, and shorting out the controls so it can't stop. Then, just as the train is heading over the edge, he jumps out, telling Ducard, "I won't kill you, but I don't have to save you," leaving him to fall to his death. Yeah, definitely never does any killing.
A similar scenario is set up in The Dark Knight as it seems Batman is willing to let gravity kill the Joker, but then saves him with his grappling hook. This is immediately followed by tackling Harvey Dent off a ledge in order to save a child, and killing him.
In The Dark Knight Rises, he actively uses lethal force in order to try and stop a nuclear bomb destroying Gotham, in what's easily the most desperate stakes in the entire series. He retires as Batman right after.
The greatest warrior is he who does not need to kill
The Assassins' Guild in the Discworld novels, while not pacifistic in even a technical sense, have suppressed the invention of guns, and aren't happy about improvements in crossbow technology, on the grounds that making it too easy to kill people devalues their profession. Sam Vimes, Commander of the City Watch, loathes "spring-gonnes" (concealable pistol crossbows) to the point where anyone caught with one within city limits will end up swinging gently in the breeze.
No, not in a children's playground, though kids might be fascinated by them.
Incidentally, a Patrician-employed assassin comments that the Assassins agree, and that no matter what Vimes does to people he catches with spring-gonnes, they will still be glad the Assassins didn't find them first.
The Animorphs' allies, The Chee, are programmed to be 100% pacifistic, but Erek King is pretty technical about it. He managed to override the violence prohibition, but was so sickened by the massive amount carnage he caused (more deaths in one hour than the Animorphs themselves caused in months) that he immediately changed it back and had the item that made it possible thrown away. However, this doesn't stop him from attempting to manipulate the Animorphs into killing the aliens that destroyed his creators. Then there's the final battle, but it's unclear whether or not he was offended because Jake killed and threatened to kill indiscriminately, or because Jake blackmailed him. But it's probably both.
Also, the Animorphs themselves. They're fine with killing Hork-Bajir, Taxxons, and the occasional Gedd, and God himself only knows how many Yeerks. But neverever a human.
Which incidentally leads to Visser One (the original) figuring out that they're human. Because she couldn't remember the last time a human had been listed as a casualty. Cue the Animorphs present going "Oh Crap."
Actually, there are several instances in previous books where minor Yeerks figure that out through various clues (including the above), discuss the possibility... and decide to let someone else tell Visser Three about it. Visser One is pretty much the first Yeerk to catch on who wasn't afraid of getting gutted on the spot for pointing it out.
Doc Savage was big on not deliberately killing his opponents, since this would be a waste of human life. Whether his habit of subjecting captured criminals to personality-altering brain surgery is a better thing is debatable. He also has no problem with knocking people off of cliffs or buildings, or out of windows, making planes crash, or leaving people to the mercy of wild animals: driver ants in one story; giant vampire bats in another; and swarms of weasels in yet a third.
The Culture epitomize this trope: they are a bunch of hippies with WMD who built a galactic empire and they don't take it very well when someone tries to stop them from spreading their way of life.
The Cullens spend their eternal lives trying to coexist peacefully with people, giving up their human-chomping ways. They apparently have absolutely no problem letting other vampires eat humans in the area or even supplying them with transportation to do so. They also have no problem tearing another vampire to pieces and burning it if it tries to kill Bella.
Parodied in Rustlers Rhapsody where the hero only shoot's his enemies in the hand. At least one bad guy finds this more disturbing than if he shot to kill.
Durnik starts out this way in The Belgariad — letting an attacker be sucked down by killer quicksand rather than axe the guy's head in, for instance. He generally uses a club in combat rather than a sword or axe. "I really don't like chopping into people. If you hit a man with a club, there's a fair chance he won't die, and there isn't all that blood".
Subverted by the Aiel in The Wheel of Time. A Proud Warrior Race that bizarrely doesn't use swords, you later find out that their ancestors were Actual Pacifists and the pledge not to use a sword was part of a general pledge against violence, using the sword as a metaphor for all weapons, that got twisted over the years into a prohibition on a particular weapon but not on being a warrior in general.
In the Mistborn trilogy, kandra follow The Contract, which among other things, strictly prohibits killing humans. After OreSeur (actually, a different kandra impersonating OreSeur to serve as The MoleHidden in Plain Sight on the good guys) attacks an assassin sent to kill his master, Vin is shocked that he broke his code. He responds that while most kandra "think that helping someone kill is the same as killing", it isn't technically in The Contract, and that he did nothing wrong.
In one Isaac Asimov short story, there is a robot whose programming includes a glitch that results in its not being fully Three-Laws Compliant: its version of the First Law of Robotics (usually "A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.") is incomplete, stating only, "A robot may not injure a human being" and leaving out the bit about inaction. This seemingly minor ommision has some truly frightening implications in the literal mind of a robot. For example, the robot could drop an anvil on a human's head: the ROBOT is not squashing the human's brains out, the ANVIL is, and the robot is merely allowing it to do so by not catching it again.
The Race from SA Swann's Terran Confederacy universe. They consider it to be the height of immorality to actually raise a hand (or pseudopod) against another sapient. Hiring mercenaries, sparking wars, destabilizing countries, building AI guided weapons, these are all fine, but they would never actually use violence against you themselves.
Shrike becomes one of these towards the end of the Mortal Engines Quadrilogy, after Character Development causes him to feel tremendous guilt over all the lives he's ended in the past. He won't kill you, but he will disarm you of your weapons and subdue you non-lethally if required, and if his adopted daughter Hester decides you need to die, he won't do anything to stop her. He also feels no shame over the prospect of killing Stalker Fang, pointing out that her plans will result in genocide if he allows her to carry them out, and she's more machine than human anyway.
Live Action TV
On White Collar, Mozzie is a generally non-violent type, probably due to the influence of his old mentor Mr. Jeffries, who taught Mozzie to fight his battles with words, and Neal, who just doesn't like violence at all. Mozzie can babble and bluff his way out of almost anything. Hurt or kill someone he cares about, and he will put a six million dollar bounty on your head without a second thought.
The Walking Dead: Hershel is a man of peace, and at first refuses to kill the walkers, believing them to just be very ill. When that reality is shattered, he is shown to be a very skilled shooter, even though he doesn't care much for guns.
In Stargate SG-1, the Goa'ulds' zat'nik'tel are primarily for stunning (and torture). And they kill on the second shot. Stunners are all over the place in Stargate, and most SciFi. Plot-handy without necessarily being a statement.
It's also more convenient for capturing victims alive because you're a species that relies on living inside hosts to survive. The Zat's other two settings ("kill" and "disintegrate the body") are more for direct combat and assassination.
The writing staff realized pretty quickly that disintegration would require an ungodly amount of energy, so that function was quietly dropped after a few episodes. Also mocked in "Wormhole X-Treme!", when one of the characters on the set of the Show Within a Show calls "three shots disintegrate" the "stupidest thing I've ever heard".
The Nox are ordinarily Perfect Pacifist People, but in "Pretense" Teal'c, expecting the Goa'uld representatives on Tollana to sabotage the planet's surface-to-orbit defense grid, talks the Nox representative Lya into using her powers of invisibility to hide one of the cannons in question. When the inevitable happens and the hidden cannon saves the day, Carter questions her actions:
Carter: I thought the Nox were pacifists. Lya: I only hid the weapon. I did not fire it. Carter: Ah. Pretty fine line you didn't cross. Lya: Yes it is.
Averted in Stargate Atlantis: Sheppard (hero) fights Michael (villain) on the roof-tops. Michael falls, and before Sheppard can rescue Michael, along comes Teyla. Michael had threatened Teyla's baby. Teyla stamps on one hand, then the other. Michael falls, but because he is a wraith, a creature with fast healing abilities who can survive multiple gunshots to the head and chest, he may have survived the fall. Awesome!
In Doctor Who, the Doctor's pacifism varies by the series, but he has become increasingly a Technical Pacifist. Although he often kills the Monster of the Week and at times even wipes whole races out, he insists on always giving them a chance to stop their destructive ways, even if it means possibly sacrificing himself in the attempt. The Doctor also has a vicious streak in him that occasionally comes out, causing him to be more brutal than normal. He's ashamed of this part of himself and relies on his companions to keep him in check. The Doctor also Doesn't Like Guns, though on rare occasions he's seen carrying them for various reasons, and in some versions is a crack shot.
Lampshaded in "The Doctor's Daughter", where his disgust for his clone "daughter" Jenny being a soldier is rebuked by the fact that he was a soldier, in the Time War, and has killed numerous beings and even whole races, both personally and by manipulation.
Emphasis on the technical. The Fourth Doctor was sent by the Time Lords to prevent the creation of the Daleks, because they saw a possible future where the Daleks destroyed the Time Lords. He himself had seen the devastation and suffering they caused. When his companion Harry Sullivan rigged an explosive that would have annihilated all the Dalek prototypes, the Doctor refused to set it off, refused to even let Harry set it off. He refused to commit genocide and didn't want to avert the acts of heroism of all the people who'd fought to destroy the Daleks. Only, during the Time War, he did just that, killing off the entire Dalek race, plus his own, and only after the war caused untold suffering. The entire mess was his fault, a result of squeamishness, not principle. Except he didn't destroy them, he transported his home world into a pocket universe, and the Dalek's destroyed themselves in the crossfire when Gallifrey disappeared.
However, the bomb did go off. It was just by accident than by direct act of the Doctor. All it really did was delay the Daleks' inevitable rise by about a thousand years. If anything, as the Episode's recap notes, if it's the Doctor's fault at all, it's because he "inadvertently fired the first shot of the Time War that will eventually rage across the universe."
Gabrielle from Xena: Warrior Princess had no problems with beating people up, but throughout 1/2 of the series had a taboo about personally killing people, despite travelling with Xena, who was a walking Cuisinart. Then Gabrielle is converted by Eli, priest of the One True God, so she throws away her non-lethal staff because it is too violent and starts killing people with sais which are not violent at all because One True God says so.
Max, of Dark Angel, hated guns because Colonel Lydecker shot her sister Eva to death with one. She never used any "cheats" (devices that aren't technically guns), but she did beat the crap out of the bad guys and sometimes killed them through fisticuffs.
One of Mr. Chapel's codes in Vengeance Unlimited was that he did not kill his marks. However, he did use stuff that went boom (and called in favors from people who knew how to use stuff that went boom) to scare the bejeezus out of his marks.
Shepherd Book from Firefly won't kill people, due to it being against the teachings of The Bible, but those teachings are a "mite fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps." He's also shown beating the crap out of people a few times. He's also implied to have a violent past which he gave up and this is confirmed in an Expanded Universe graphic novel when the other characters remark about how, for a Shepherd, he's very good with a gun.
Also, the con-artist Saffron.
Saffron: I didn't kill him.
Mal: No, I doubt there's many you kill. Just put them in a position to die easy.
Odo from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. As a police officer he does not like to kill (he has a personal rule of never using a phaser), but he is more than willing to fight hand to hand. His shapeshifting abilities and experience in combat allow him to be more dangerous unarmed than a rabid, bat'leth-swinging, disruptor-toting Klingon. He also has a certain amount of pride about this; upon being told Klingons attacking the station would likely come after him in hopes of making themselves worthy of song, he muses that if any one Klingon warrior did kill him in combat, it would be an act worthy of an entire Klingon opera.
Sheriff Andy Taylor of The Andy Griffith Show almost never used a gun, preferring to outwit criminals. Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife was more willing to use his sidearm, but carried it unloaded so that he wouldn't accidentally shoot himself when attempting to draw it.
In an episode of the show, it's revealed that Andy doesn't use a gun because the last time he did, the criminal ended up without the use of one knee. Andy gets a letter from the criminal saying he's coming by for a visit. Though most of the town urges Andy to take up his gun again, Andy can't bring himself to do so. The end of the episode reveals that Andy did the criminal a huge favor, the loss of his knee made the crook start his life over. The criminal became a model citizen and wanted to give Andy a gift, a hunting rifle. Guns are both good and bad.
The "no gun" policy on Andy's part was most likely meant to convey the almost total lack of violent crime more than anything else, in keeping with the Idylic Small Town setting.
Andy did carry a gun when one was necessary, such as when a dangerous criminal was on the loose. By him not carrying a gun, the show seemed to convey a message that he could solve most of the problems he encountered through reason and communications rather than by pointing a gun at someone.
Andy also uses a rifle, pistol, or shotgun when he sees fit. At one point, he recklessly points a shotgun at a shyster handyman in a ploy to scare the handyman away.
All of the above said, it's shown that when Andy does get a gun, he's a crack shot with it, managing to shoot out a tire on a speeding vehicle with Barney's pistol. He doesn't have a problem shooting crows, though.
The Lone Ranger used guns, but only to disarm his opponents in the least painful way possible. Presumably, he was one of the inspirations for Vash the Stampede.
The Equalizer has no problem with firearms, but prefers to use psychological warfare to inspire villains to recant or confess. His reluctance to kill is more because he's trying to atone for his past as trained government spy/killer.
Burn Notice plays with this trope. Michael is not so much against killing as he is not wanting to draw attention to himself by killing. It seems like he doesn't like the idea of outright murder, but he has killed people when pushed. Besides all of that, he is more then okay with the bad guys dying so long as the innocent are protected.
In the last episode of season 2, He and Victor, his new assassin-turned-ally, are trapped on Victor's houseboat. Carla has just shot Victor, and he is dying. He asks Mike to kill him and save himself, which Mike refuses to do (either on principle, or because Victor is the one person who understands what he's gone through). In the end, they both take the gun and put it to Victor's chest. Although it is unclear who pulled the trigger, Michael is visibly shaken by Victor's death.
Strickler was holding a gun on Michael at the time. The 2nd half of Season 3 shows Michael being unwilling to kill even criminals who are trying (due to a misunderstanding) to kill him.
"She's a hero, you see. She's not like us." - Giles sums up Buffy the Vampire Slayer nicely. She has killed several humans throughout the show in direct combat, in self-defense, and when she had no other choice.
MacGyver, obviously. Vocally and obviously hates guns, but isn't averse to hitting people (with fists, or with a variety of heavy things), and for a "pacifist", he's awfully fond of creating explosives...granted, given the show's style, there also wasn't a lot of obviously fatal collateral damage to all the homemade bombs he set off.
He also doesn't hesitate to put people in what would, in reality, be very dangerous situations: shocking them with high voltage, suspending them high up in the air by flimsy cords, driving towards them at high speeds, slamming them headfirst into heavy objects, blinding drivers of fast-moving vehicles, hiding unconscious bodies inside heavy machinery, and so on. Probably the most egregious example of this is when he set up a trap that shot a bunch of automatic weapons at cars full of people...but aimed them at the tires.
MacGyver is the worst kind of pretentious pacifist who pretends violence is not the answer until such time that someone pushes his buttons, such as the time when he is so angry with a publisher of a racist newspaper that he threatens to shoot the publisher in the face in a fit of rage.
In Chuck, the protagonist refuses to even carry a gun, though he is not adverse to the use of nunchucks. Chuck generally prefers tranq guns, if he has to carry a weapon at all, or his Intersected Kung-Fu skills, though when presented with no alternative at the end of Chuck vs. the Other Guy, he did shoot to kill with tight grouping in order to prevent his opponent from killing a drugged-up and paralyzed Sarah. He has since not killed anyone on-screen. Note that this doesn't stop him from doing things like tranqing enemies and leaving them to die in explosions...
Hawkeye Pierce in M*A*S*H is supposedly a pacifist (owning to his Hippocratic oath as a doctor) but he is known to punch people who disagree with his moral and ethical views of the world. Hawkeye even removed the (perfectly fine) appendix of a gung-ho colonel to keep him from causing more casualties by continuing to attempt to take an objective even after being ordered to stand down. He felt horrible about it afterward, though. It was a genuine (and acknowledged) ethical grey area for him. Another episode has Hawkeye and Potter driving a jeep after getting drunk, when they come under enemy fire. They get out of the jeep and take cover, and Potter hands Hawkeye his sidearm and tells him to use it. Hawkeye protests that he will carry books, carry a tune, carry on, carry over, and even harakiri if desperate enough, but he will not carry a gun. Potter tells him to think of it not as a weapon, but as an angry noise-maker, and convinces Hawkeye to fire it in the air to at least give them some covering fire.
In Ultraman Cosmos, Ultraman Cosmos is a pacifist and normally makes a token effort to subdue and calm down the monster he's fighting to the point his Luna Form has no real Finishing Moves that can kill. If faced with a monster he cannot subdue peacefully, or is truly evil, he has to switch to his more combat able Corona Mode, which can still calm monsters down if needed. His Eclipse Mode reflects this as well, with a finishing beam that only kills evil beings, passing through everything else. His support team, EYES, also tend to take this perspective on monsters, trying to subdue them, while the military tries to kill them, which often ends up re-enraging said monster EYES took care of. This actually comes back to help as on several occasions, the monsters and aliens they've spared or helped do come back to help out humanity, leading to a rather epic Gondor Calls for Aid moment in the third movie after Cosmos is killed by Ultraman Justice.
Leverage: Elliot Spencer fits the sub-trope of "doesn't use guns" technical pacifist. But in the season 3 finale, after being backed into a corner and being told to survive, he reluctantly uses his opponent's dropped handguns, and kills 15+ assailants. He says he doesn't use them because of his "past". It is also likely that he dislikes guns because he believes it makes things too easy.
Mission: Impossible: The Impossible Missions Force, when taking an assignment to "permanently deal" with some threat, rarely are the actual killers: they typically set up a situation where they con the target into betraying their own side (and get caught), or con the other side into believing the target has/is/will betray them. As an added bonus, when dealing with criminals instead of foreign intelligence agencies, they'll often ensure that the local cops show up just in time to catch the killers red-handed. By contrast, the characters in the films do kill, though they try to avoid it whenever possible. Whenever it's not possible, they are remarkably effective at it.
Rev. Bem in Andromeda being a Wayist priest and a Magog, tries to avoid killing people despite being an obligate carnivore who needs to kill his prey. In fights he usually just paralyzes people with his venom and generally refuses to eat anything but fish, even if it means starvation. However, the first thing we see him do is work on salvaging an incredibly powerful warship, to sell it to a dictator with imperial ambitions.
Threatened by Jesus of all people in the Red Dwarf episode "Lemons".
Jesus: Just because I'm a man of peace doesn't mean I won't punch your teeth out!
Being a hippie, Daizee Haze abhorring violence but loved physical competition. So she took up wrestling, figuring she wouldn't have to hit anyone while sating her competitive side. Of course, you're professional wrestling in her country you can guess how successful she was at maintaining this approach to matches, but its okay, a heart punch nicely transitions into most of her finishing moves.
In Dungeons & Dragons, the standard rule for generic clerics has long been "no edged weapons", in a Fantasy Gun Control version of this trope. The idea was originally to reconcile the presumably "peaceful" nature of priests with the vagaries of an adventuring life, though it's worth pointing out that nobody has ever requested a "humane" bludgeoning over execution by guillotine or axe.
This conception was actually inspired by a real world example and simply popularized by said roleplaying game.
Although to be fair, Odo of Bayeux's use of the mace wasn't quite a "technical pacifist" position, but more of a cynical attempt to get in on the glory of the English Conquest yet still be considered a "holy servant of god." Basically, Odo was a Rules Lawyer.
In 3rd edition, since increased customization allowed for followers of different gods (including gods of war) to specialize in different areas, this was dropped and it was made so that the average cleric only has proficiency in simple weapons—the kind anyone could pick up with basic training: clubs, staves, maces, and so on, but including edged weapons like daggers and spears, and ranged weapons like crossbows (as opposed to just slings as in previous editions). This reflects a relative lack of combat training (compared to fighters, barbarians, and so on). They can, however, use advancement opportunities to learn more advanced use of weapons, and priests of the aforementioned gods of war can even start play with significant skill in their god's favored weapon if they pick the right powers.
This has been around since Second Edition AD&D at the least. While clerics were limited in their weapon choice to non-edged weaponry (in as much as one can call a morningstar a bludgeoning weapon), the various gods in the multiverse all had what were called "specialty priests," who had their own restrictions for armor, weapons, and magical items. A specialty priest of Lathander, for example, was restricted to a cleric's weapons and no armor heavier than plate, while priests of Eilistraee could use any weapon they liked.
The Vow of Peace feat from the Book of Exalted Deeds essentially states "feel free to massacre undead, they don't count" and "nonlethal damage (read: beating people up) is acceptable".
4th Edition's Shielding Cleric counts as well. You're not actually harming the enemies yourself—the Technical part comes in when you're leaving them stunned and with vulnerability 20 next to Shanky McRogue...
Taking it one step further is the feat "Pacifist Healer" which significantly increases the power of the Cleric's 'go to' healing class feature, but in return, permanently disallows them from damaging bloodied opponents, or wind up stunned themselves. Aforementioned non-damaging attacks are fair game.
GURPS has the Reluctant Killer disadvantage, which keeps a character from attacking a recognizable person. The character can still attack: people wearing masks, people he can't see, occupied vehicles, anything that looks like a monster, and blips on a radar screen. Along with a number of other Pacifism variants, ranging from Cannot Kill to Total Nonviolence. Even beyond that, the highest level of pacifism requires you to stop other people from doing anything that might hurt another person for any reason.
Jadeclaw (and presumably other Sanguine Productions games) has the Pacifist flaw at three levels: "Cannot take a life," where the player cannot do anything that they 'think' will kill someone. If they "mortally wound" an opponent, they may not leave them untreated. "May only fight in self defense," which includes the previous caveats, as well as an inability to attack anyone until you, personally, are attacked. And last, "Total non-violence," where the most you can do is block, dodge, or parry.
Even the ludicrously deadly Paranoia has provisions for the occasional bring-them-in-alive scenario, such as tanglers (which fire sticky constricting cords, merely immobilizing the target unless they hit the neck) and stun guns.
LEGO claims to never produce war toys. This is only true in a certain point of view, because they still have lot of toys featuring conflict like Indiana Jones and Star Wars and produce a wide array of guns. LEGO probably stretched this statement to a critical point by releasing the "Green Army Men" set. It is part of the Toy Story line and includes four "plastic soldiers" with additional weapons and a jeep. The guns certainly aren't fitting (wild west rifles) and the figures are all-around green, but you only need to swap hands and head with yellow or flesh ones and you have a Vietnam-war era colored soldier. There is also some kind of undergroundmarket around military LEGO. Sites like Brickarms and Brickforge sell custom-made LEGO-compatible elements, resembling authentic guns and rifles like AK-47s and bazookas to arm your figures. They are in no way affilated with LEGO other than that their products are compatible with each other, but still. The "Exo Force" sets were entirely about a war between anime-styled humans and robots.
Dizzy from Guilty Gear is a pacifist who hates violence of any form. The only problem is that the spirits living in her wings are very protective of her and have no such moral concepts. Her attacks have names like "This Was Used to Pick Fruit From Trees" and similar nonviolent uses. Most of her quotes in battle are desperate pleas for said spirits to either stop or at least hold back. It's even worse when she takes a nasty shock (such as a 10,000-foot fall), as one of the spirits possesses her...
Similarly, Zappa from Guilty Gear XX is a softy who has no desire to fight anybody. It's just his luck that he's possessed by a host of excessively belligerent spirits with a penchant for insulting the wrong people.
Well, his objection is really specifically because of who he killed (his lover, Presea's sister...under completely justifiable circumstances, no less). It might be for the best, though: there's strong indication that if he ever did fight with his hands, he'd be an absolute monster (strength/skill-wise).
One of the skits hints that he has no problem killing his enemies (beyond Vharley, anyway,) as long as he prays for their souls afterwards.
NetHack has an optional conduct "pacifist", generally considered one of the most difficult to win with. A NetHack pacifist must avoid killing a single monster...directly. However, this does not preclude them from leading their army of powerful pets to a monster and letting violence ensue. In fact, it doesn't preclude their whaling on monsters all they like, provided they don't personally land the killing blow; although this is extremely risky to try without a thorough knowledge of how much damage various attacks do, and a way of tracking monster HP.
Though he is considered the greatest warrior on earth alive, Solid Snake is deeply committed to preventing violence when ever possible. And for a series that is all about war and soldiers, the Metal Gear games have probably one of the most pacifistic stories you'll ever come upon in a game. The less deaths one directly causes in the series, especially in later games, the more points one is rewarded and the more you'll qualify for special rewards. You can even tranq bosses in later games, with a different cutscene after, though the end results are the same. In fact, the boss encounter with The Sorrow in MGS3 is 1:1 proportional with how many mooks you slew. (More disturbingly, if you left any to the crows or vultures, their ghosts will actually show the damage.)
Thief has a similar ranking system, with human kills being completely forbidden on the highest difficulty setting, not so much for morality reasons (Anti-Hero Garrett is a walking Deadpan Snarker Misanthrope) but rather because "leaving a mess behind" is "unprofessional". To assist in this regard, Garrett gets a variety of non-lethal takedown options, including sleeping gas arrows, flash bombs, and a good ol' blackjack to the back to the head.
Likewise, the Hitman games have a scoring system that encourages players to complete missions by only killing the target, without leaving any collateral damage. Each game presents certain non-lethal takedown options, such as chloroform or tranquilizer syringes, to assist in this regard when dealing with patrolling guards or unlucky civilians. Again, this is done for reasons of "professionalism" rather than morality, and in Blood Money 47 is perfectly willing to kill civilians without batting an eyelid if he's specifically ordered to do so.
Sam Fisher in Splinter Cell has an assault rifle with a special Trick Arrow launcher that fires a wide assortment of less-than-lethal ordinance, including airfoil rounds, taser darts, and mini-cameras that release sleeping gas on command. The scoring system in the later games encourages players to take the non-lethal approach, although Sam as an actual character seems to prefer lethal force in his in-game dialogue, often having to be told to "hold back" by Mission Control.
In the FPS/RPG Deus Ex, there are several nonlethal weapons and in the early stages of the game the player is encouraged by various characters to knock foes unconscious whenever possible, rather than kill them. It is actually possible to complete the entire game without killing a single person, and many players endeavour to accomplish such a so-called 'no kills' game. Also in the early stages of the game, how much lethal force the player uses against opponents earns them brownie points with their more gung-ho allies, and disapproval from the rest, or vice versa.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution has an achievement called 'Pacifist' for not killing anyone. You are, however, quite free to punch people out, bang their heads together, break their arms, throttle them, tranquillise them, zap them and gas them. (And murder four boss characters. As well as set a facility to self destruct killing dozens of people in one of the endings)
Freeware game Iji has the storyline change somewhat depending on how many enemies you kill, however, only direct kills count, so, while you can avoid everything for the pacifistic route you can also make heavy use of technical pacifism and use indirect means to kill your foes without upping the counter; such as intentionally being hit by an enemy explosive so the explosion kills everything in proximity to you (or the enemy who shot it).
Pacifist boss fights also consist of Iji beating her enemies only half to death, while someone else jumps in to finish them off.
Mirror's Edge on the Xbox 360 has two achievements that play this trope straight: 'Pacifist' (complete a single mission without firing a shot) and 'Test of Faith' (complete the game without firing a shot that hits a guard). Now, the thing to note is firing a shot — for the purposes of these achievements, it is perfectly acceptable to smash the enemies in the face with your knee or their own guns, kick them in the face to send them careening off of buildings, and otherwise brutalize them...as long as you don't shoot them. (of course, the ONE shot you actually HAVE to shoot in ONE sequence in Chapter 8 probably does kill someone, but it doesn't count if the bullet does NOT hit anyone directly. ( it hits an engine if you aimed correctly.) Same thing for using the handgun in chapter 4 - if it doesn't hurt anyone, you can still get the achievement)
While not a problem for most of the game, because it's always a lot more safer to run away than to get close enough to enemies to allow them to get a good shot at you, this can be incredibly difficult when you have to face mercenaries in full riot gear with machine guns who block the tiny door that is the only exit from the room you are in. And with your bare hands! Fortunately, this game is Le Parkour pure, but you still have to get quite creative get close enough for a kick in the head without being shredded by bullets from 10 meters away.
Fallout 3 has a interesting way of doing this. Do you have a follower NPC and want someone dead, but you don't want to be evil? Punch them in the face to start combat with them, then watch as Charon shotguns them in the face, causing him to lose the Karma! Do not attempt this in a crowded plaza.
The Peace Sims from Combat Simulator mode are a fine example of this. Being opposed to violence, they run around picking up the guns and ammo in the levels, and disarming anyone they come across who isn't a teammate. (They have no problems socking you one to take the gun out of your hands, though - but it counts even more towards this since it doesn't do any damage.) This also serves to make them into roving weapons lockers - slay one and he'll usually drop a full complement of all the guns being used during the round.
The Fist Sims are another example of this, since they too shy away from the use of guns - but have no qualms beating the living tar out of you with their fists.
The author of Scarab Of Ra "feels kindly toward his creatures, and has not provided any way for you to kill them"—even the ones who can fatally bite and maul you. However, you can permanently immobilize them in nets and leave them to starve.
Xenogears has a couple of them. Fei is forced to fight because his life and the lives of those he cares for would otherwise be in jeopardy. Citan renounced his warrior ways, but his pragmatism and duty wins out in the end. And Miang, one of the three core villains of the game fights the party only once out of necessity because she's the last line of defence for her boss/partner, Krelian.
Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind's Imperial Cult faction is against violence, so their only combative skills are hand-to-hand and blunt weapon skills. Because of course, smashing someone over the head with a large heavy mace isn't going to kill them at all...
Pokémon Diamond and Pearl'sBig Bad, Cyrus, is out to eliminate war and create a peaceful universe...by destroying the current one and forming a new one without emotion.
The Elves in the MMORPG The Lord of the Rings Online are the embodiment of this trope throughout the entire epic storyline. The Rangers also get a few of those in, but for better reasons.
Lampshaded in this commentary which ends with: "Come on, Hidden Guard. Let's just have a little "accident" with Mazog and get on with it, eh?"
Gunner: Why do I always have to do the f*cking killing?
Pilot: Because I am a pacifist, SHOOT 'EM!
The protagonist of Exit Fate, Daniel Vinyard, is a pacifist who wants only to bring world peace. He is also a military officer (of several different sides throughout the game) because he isn't so naive as to think others will stop fighting unless they're forced to. Nonetheless he always tries to choose methods that save the most lives, even at great personal risk, and feels guilt when people are hurt (usually when an ally betrays him).
Alpha Protocol has the possibility of nonlethal takedowns instead of killing opponents by using unarmed combat and tranquilizer darts for your pistol. The game tracks your number of nonlethal takedowns by 'hospital bills racked up', since even though they're non-lethal said methods will still hurt like hell. By contrast, lethal kills are tracked by 'number of orphans created'. There are several perks that can be acquired for such 'pacifism', most of whom help you get even better at doing more. Specializing in non-lethal takedowns is actually quite effective, to the point that you can complete a mission requiring great amounts of stealth by sprinting into every room and beating every guard into unconsciousness with your bare hands.
Marona from Phantom Brave. She doesn't like fighting and violence, but is willing to help and protect others despite others treating her badly and will summon her phantoms into battle to kick your ass or if you call her flat-chested. Her Darker and Edgier conuterpart, Carona, also fits into this well. As she states that she's "not all that big into violence."
Hijiri Byakuren is an advocate of peaceful coexistence between humans and youkai. This being Gensokyo, however, there's only one way that "peaceful coexistence" can be achieved.
Given the number of people that get beaten by Batman in Batman: Arkham Asylum at least a few would have died from their injuries, and that's not counting those who 'accidentally' fell into bottomless pits or are left unconscious on electrified floors.
In Batman: Arkham City, Batman beats up thugs and mercenaries, and leaves them lying around on rooftops and streets, in a city undergoing constant power struggles between various groups of sociopathic thugs. Even if they do wake up in time, they have a good chance of having broken limbs that make it difficult to defend themselves. And their employers threatened to kill them if they fail, anyway. Oh, and it's winter.
Zone of the Enders with the main protagonist, while there will be moments where people die the main characters strive to avoid as much death as possible. For Leo it is because he is inexperienced and scared of killing, at least until ZOE 2. For Dingo, most of his enemies are unmanned robots with the only manned units being the boss frames and for Cage, La Résistance avoids casualties in order to avoid an already oppressive government have more propaganda to use against them.
Ezio in the Assassin's Creed II games spares several targets when he feels he doesn't have to kill them. As did Altair. Upon finding out that it wasn't Robert De Sable at the funeral, but a decoy, he refused to kill her anyway because she simply wasn't his target. And a good thing too, because he wound up having kids with her.
Dead or Alive: Kasumi will always try to avoid fighting and attempt a peaceful solution first, especially when she's up against allies. However, when she sees there's no choice but to fight, she tosses any doubts and goes all out.
Monster Hunter allows you to invoke this trope by capturing a large monster without actually killing it, by using a trap followed by tranquilizer weapons. In quests where the goal is to hunt large monsters, a capture counts as taking down a monster; you only have to kill the target(s) if the quest objective explicitly says slay rather than hunt. Some other quests explicitly require you to capture a large monster, and cause a Nonstandard Game Over if you kill the target monster. Capturing is in fact easier than killing the target, as a capture only requires that a large majority of the monster's health be depleted, rather than all of it. However, you don't get to carve materials from a monster you capture rather than kill.
Taffe: You don’t need to fight. All you need to do is just end the fight.
Larima: Oui, I can do that.
The titular protagonist of Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog shows a strong aversion to violence and lethal force throughout the movie, with his laser weaponry being more non-lethal. Even when he finally has to carry through with his order to commit murder, he hesitates heavily. This ends badly. Averted with so-called superhero Captain Hammer, who has no problem using more than excessive force when the situation completely fails to warrant it.
Lucky Star, a street-level crimefighter in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, who is often called "the luckiest man alive", refuses to start fights, always tries to use reason and understanding to defuse conflict and absolutely, positively refuses to use a weapon, nonetheless is quite capable of kicking ass and taking names when reason and understanding don't work. And heaven help you if you threaten a child in his presence.
The titular Gargoyles were very opposed to guns, and killing in general beyond that. Broadway in particular had an experience in which he accidentally shot and nearly killed Elisa, one of the main characters and a close friend, but for the others their hatred of guns was specifically linked to their dislike of killing. In the Episode Awakening, Goliath actually mentions that a killing that occurs in the heat of battle is all right, it's deliberate (i.e. premeditated) attacking with intent to kill that they hate.
In the episode, "Hawk and Dove", one of the title characters is a superhero named Dove who is an ardent pacifist as befitting his name. He is ready to mix it up as necessary, but largely with soft martial arts like aikido that allow him to take down the toughest foes without much injury and with a focus on subduing and disarming. In addition, when facing an unstoppable machine that feeds on aggression for its strength, he is the only one who keeps a cool enough head to realize that a passive stance against it could shut it down.
Also, Deadman, the aforementioned specter that possessed Batman was trained to abhor killing as well. The killing mentioned above happened entirely by accident. He used the gun to blast the gun Devil Ray was aiming at somebody, and DR just happened to stumble backwards in surprise...right into a mess of exposed wiring and electrocuted himself. Nonetheless, Deadman still got called out by the Powers That Be for causing it.
Jackie Chan, from Jackie Chan Adventures does not fight for the sake of fighting, and he clearly points this out, despite the fact that he is obviously a badass at doing it. He states that he will resort to fighting only when there is no other alternative. Of course since one of the points of the show is to show off Jackie's badassery of the martial arts, this typically means every episode. But still, he usually fights only when threatened and only enough to prevent the villains from actually doing anything bad.
Given a bit of a lampshade hanging in the usually Family-Unfriendly ViolentTransformersBeast Wars, when the two sides have a truce. The terms of the truce ban weapons, but a fight begins anyway using cartoony but equally violent slapstick (Example: sabotaging an enemy's flight systems, causing them to plummet to the ground Wile E. Coyote-style). Optimus and Dinobot even comment on how peaceful it is, while watching an enemy get crushed by the rear end of a rhino.
Played for Laughs in an Animaniacs short. At the beginning of the short, Flaxseed, the Jerk Ass candy-shop owner who hates kids, is confronted by a kindly-looking nun in his store, pleasantly asking that he donate some of his candy to her Orphanage. He kicks her out onto the street. Near the end, about a half-dozen nuns come in, demanding he unhand the Warner Siblings that were running amok in his store, and get this close to beating him senseless with rulers when he calls them on it.
Flaxseed: Wait, wait! You're nuns! You're not supposed to resort to physical violence!
Nun: He's right girls, let us pray.
All of them drop to their knees, praying. A bus full of Notre Dame football players show up and immediately surround Flaxseed with angry scowls.
Nun: Our prayers have been answered!
The players dogpile Flaxseed
In The Zeta Project, the titular robot goes from being an assassin to having a strict no-kill policy. Unfortunately, everyone is after him and his human friend, so he is forced to use his badass fighting skills to crash cars, destroy buildings, and lots more in the 'CLEARLY DANGEROUS' category, though he makes sure that nobody actually dies.
Stripperella. Parodied in "Curse of the Were-Beaver". Superhero Stripperella has no problem with beating the crap out of people, but loves furry animals. This causes problems when she's charged with stopping a man who keeps mutating into a giant rampaging beaver.
Subverted in The Venture Bros.: Brock hates guns and refuses to use them whenever possible. This has nothing to do with a refusal to kill though, as he has quite the bodycount behind him. Rather, it's because he'd prefer to use his badass bowie knife, or his bare hands.
Might also have something to do with the bylaws of the Guild in the show as well. As long as he avoids firearms, they are restricted in what measures they can use against him and his charges. By sticking to his knife, he prevents escalation of the conflict while keeping it in a realm that greatly favors his skillset.
Seems to be confirmed in season 4. Henchman 21 complains that Brock's replacement, Sgt. Hatred, does not share Brocks dislike of using firearms, and thus casualties have increased to the point where 21 feels he and his team need better equipment.
In Avatar: The Last Airbender , Aang is a technical pacifist, which brings up problems when the only apparent way of stopping Fire Lord Ozai is killing him. The previous Avatars were decidedly not technical pacifists, for example; Kyoshi, who could have a decent claim to being one (her victim died by freak accident when she split her island from the main continent), is steadfast in her belief that she might as well have done it herself, and even his immediate Air Nomad predecessor Yangchen was quick to advise him that his needs as a monk take second place to the needs of the world at large. Aang grapples with this decision but sticks to his guns and takes a third option and depowers Ozai leaving him alive but harmless.
The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes: Ant-Man will go out of his way to try every possible option before resorting to blows. He maintains that he is scientist first and a superhero second, but if he presses that button on his belt, you better hope he's not aiming that gigantic fist at you. This becomes a serious issue for him towards the end of the first season because he'd much rather be an Actual Pacifist. Come season two he's left the Avengers because of it.
In ReBoot, the protagonist, Bob, mostly plays this straight in regards to viruses. He'll certainly fight a virus if necessary, but is completely against deleting them and instead advocates containment and rehabilitation. This eventually leads to some conflict with Matrix and Turbo. Bob's policy pays off big time with Hexadecimal, who eventually has a Heel-Face Turn and saves the net. On the other hand, not deleting Megabyte certainly didn't pay off...
A real-life example is the famous "Wild West" peacekeeper, Bat Masterson. He didn't use a gun very often, having been lamed by one in a moment of recklessness, but had no problem beating people with the walking stick that gave him his nickname. Nor, for that matter, did he have problems associating with Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, who would kill people with guns.
Wyatt Earp, for that matter, didn't shoot quite as many people as is often thought, preferring to Pistol Whip criminals. At one point in the old west, getting hit in the head was known as "an Earp."
Before the gunfight atnote technically in the vacant lot behind the OK Corral, Wyatt Earp had only killed one man. The same is probably true of Doc Holliday, though not for lack of trying.
A surprising number of police officers can go their entire careers or at the very least large portions of the same without having to draw their service weapon let alone discharge it in the line of duty. Is even known to happen in "dangerous" cities. There might be some aversion to killing in the line of duty, as there's a bunch of red tape to ensure in the eyes of the public and such that the cop had to do what s/he had to do.
SaintJoan of Arc is a pretty good example of this. Though she courageously led armies into battle, riding right into the thick of the fighting, and was even wounded by the enemy, she swore to her chaplain that she had never actually killed anybody by her own hand. After the battle of Orléans, she stopped her soldiers from executing some of the defeated English defenders, and she wept at the sight of so much bloodshed. Moreover, she always tried to warn the English soldiers in any area she planned to attack, in order to provide them with an opportunity to peacefully retreat back to England.
Joan of Arc (as reported by her chaplain): I loved my banner forty times greater than my sword. And when I went against the enemy, I carried my banner myself, lest I kill any. I have never killed a man.
John Dillinger robbed banks for the money and the thrill of it, his heists involving as much planning as a real job might, but would never, ever kill. In fact, he despised cold blooded killers Bonnie and Clyde, saying they gave honest crooks like him a bad name.
One of the most common attitudes engendered among students at most martial arts schools is that the fighting techniques they are learning are never to be used in anger or aggression, but only for personal defense.
Jesus generally preached pacifism and tolerance ("Turn the other cheek", "Love thy neighbour", etc) and is typically portrayed as one. Of course, pacifists usually don't scatter crowds of merchants with whips on account of their greedy ways. Or, to quote from Matthew 10:16, "Be as innocent as doves and as cunning as snakes".
Anarchists have taken various positions on violence in different social, economic and temporal contexts, as one should expect from an ideology in which dogmatism is looked down upon and division is sometimes seen as a sign of progress. However, they are often this in battle; the anarchists of the Spanish Civil War are an illustrative if almost cliche example, preferring to advance without engaging their fascist rivals in battle, and if they had to, shooting them in the knees and dropping pamphlets as they left. In street confrontations against Black Shirts, anarchists in Phoenix, Arizona have been spotted carrying guns (perfectly legal in AZ) to communicate that the neo-Nazis' targets are not intimidated. Anarchists also infamously have a worldwide Black Bloc with a strict code by which they organize to break windows of target corporations and government buildings, but are not allowed to harm any living being or put unwilling protesters in harm's way in the process. Not all anarchists have been gun-shy; the movement was briefly associated with assassinations of political and business leaders, especially in Spain where revenge killings spiraled out of control for a time.
This trope is arguably an example of a tenable, pragmatic pacifism that most people would ascribe to. War may indeed be Hell, making peace a far more preferable option if possible, whether ethically, economically or otherwise. Emphasis on if possible.