The Evils of Free Will
"All these people running around willy-nilly, having their own opinions and making up their own minds! It's hideously chaotic and totally unacceptable!"There is so much suffering in the world, so much hate, inequality, and ignorance. So much chaos! But what if there were a way to solve these problems? Wouldn't doing so by any means be justified? Well it just so happens there is a bright side to these problems — though daunting, they all have one common cause and it can be "fixed". The cause? Free will. The solution? Reeducation camps, a police state, censorship, concentration camps for those who resist the previous. The usual. If there's a Mad Scientist or mutant around, Mass Hypnosis and Mind Control are also handy options to turn everyone (that's left) into obedient Gullible Lemmings for the Big Bad to rule. In extreme cases it will include the destruction of individuality and the creation of a Hive Mind. A subtrope of Utopia Justifies the Means and a quintessential Evil Plan to Take Over the World. Frequently justified by the Well-Intentioned Extremist Visionary Villain or Knight Templar in a Just Between You and Me with the hero as being a small sacrifice. If it means no conflict, a quadruplication of the standard of living, the eradication of inequality, poverty, discrimination, and hate... isn't it worth it? The typical heroic rejoinder is: "What would be the point? We might enjoy it, but we wouldn't be people anymore." Of course, the villain will rarely mention why he deserves to be at the top of this new society as the lone person remaining with free will. If he does, expect him to justify it by saying he's the best qualified to decide what's best for everyone else. Regardless, if he succeeds he will create an authoritarian Dystopia or become the Hive Queen (well, King) of this new society. If, on the other hand, he is genuinely willing to become just another drone in the hive with someone (or something) else that he considers more "worthy" being in control, be VERY afraid... The fact that there are significant philosophical arguments suggesting that too much free will may not be a good thing, and there are societies that value the group over the individual, are of no consequence to this trope. Post-industrial Western society absolutely values the rights of the individual above all else, thus media will always reflect this as a virtue, and anything different as evil, assuming any advocate must have a villainous motive and lust for power. If this process merges everyone into one being, see Assimilation Plot. If the villain actually succeeds in creating this world, it may become a Villain World and possibly a Crapsaccharine World. See also Happiness Is Mandatory and its Brainwashed and Crazy variant Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul, Thoughtcrime, Dystopian Edict and Nietzsche Wannabe. Inverted trope of Helping Would Be Killstealing. Hobbes Was Right could be used as another reason to justify this trope.
— Dr Mindbender of G.I. Joe's action figure file card quote.
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Anime and Manga
- Ultimately the plan of the British Library in ROD The TV Series. An interesting wrinkle is that the people instigating the plan also planned on being rewritten along with everyone else.
- In a way, this was also Light Yagami's plan for the world in Death Note (before things spiraled further down). Sure, people can be bad if they really want to... but it's always paid back by death, unrelenting and immediate. Anything that goes against Light's high standards - even being lazy - earns the dissident a heart attack and vilification for standing in the way of justice.
- This is the singular objective of Gilbert Durandal, the Big Bad of Gundam SEED Destiny. His Destiny Plan involves using genetic determinism to decide the roles of each and every person living in the Earthsphere in order to prevent free will from causing people's differing ideas from causing any more wars. It's also a source of contention over the plot by many in the community, for various reasons.
- Naruto revealed that this is the ultimate plan of series Big Bad Uchiha Madara. The one who executed this plan is not the real Madara but the real Madara had the same plan before he died.
- The goal of the Claw in GUN×SWORD is to overwrite the mind of every human being with his own, so that everyone is the same and there can be no disagreement.
- In Appleseed, mankind has grown tired of constant warfare and created biodroids to act as mediators, together with an AI to act as an overseer. The main conflict revolves around whether humanity is unfairly being suppressed in the not-quite-utopia, salvageable through the aid of the biodroids or are they the only stain left in an otherwise perfect society.
- This is the purpose of the Superior Domination system in Toward the Terra. When humans had free will, they rendered Earth uninhabitable through reckless greed; the obvious solution is a computer-run police state IN SPACE!. The character arc of the Anti-Villain rests on his complex and fluctuating relationship with this trope.
- This is basically what Schneizel el Britannia of Code Geass believes, and intends to have any revolting nation nuked by FLEIJA from the nigh-impenetrable floating fortress Damocles.
- Also there was Charles zi Britannia's plan of destroying the "gods" to merge every person, living and dead, into one being. This would effectively remove any free will and make sure nothing ever advanced.
- The Anti-Spirals from Gurren Lagann want to wipe out Spiral Energy from the world and destroy the free will, motivation, and emotions from humankind. However, they have a good reason for doing it: overuse of Spiral Energy will result in Spiral Nemesis, which will destroy the universe. It's just that they see terrorism, brainwashing, and scare tactics as the way to prevent it from happening. It's Fridge Brilliance: Their methods are underhanded and soul crushing because the opposition is powered by determination and bravery. Meeting them head on with violence is like fighting a fire with gasoline.
- Super Android 13, the Funimation dub of the 7th Dragon Ball Z movie does this. When Trunks gives the villain, an android who wants to kill Goku simply because he was programmed to, a Reason You Suck Speech for having no free will and therefore pursuing a meaningless goal, said villain takes offense and counters that at least he's being evil because he has no other choice while humans and saiyans do evil things because they want to; he even argues that creatures with free will do worse things than he'd ever be capable of doing.
- This is the driving force behind Faceas Clay in the Strider manga: a sociopath with no regards for others and a preference for machines over human companions, he compares humanity's potential for doing evil to a computer glitch left behind by a careless God, and plans to "fix" this "factory error" by taking over humanity's free will through a mind-control weapon, creating an utopian world with equality and no conflicts under his guidance.
- This is possibly Darkseid's intended use for the Anti-Life Equation. Kirby defined being alive as the ability to think and choose thus his ultimate bad guy wants the power of Anti-Life.
- In Final Crisis he succeeds and manages to enslave about three billion people on Earth by spreading the Equation through all forms of electronic communication. This comes close to Hive Mind; in his Badass Boast he speaks through his three billion new slaves. When he makes a fist to crush resistance, it is with three billion hands. When he stares into your soul to shatter your hopes, it is with six billion eyes. Just to drive the point home, those three billion, or half of Earth's population he enslaved? He killed the other half. Now that is the Darkseid Jack Kirby created.
- Marvel had the Emperor Doom storyline. It was about Dr. Doom creating a giant Mind Control device using the Purple Man and actually taking over the world with it, without anyone (except Wonder Man) noticing, and turning it into a real utopia. It was interesting, first because there was an argument between the heroes about the rightness of stopping it, and second because Doom answered the "why should I be the one in control" question by literally removing his protective mask in front of the Purple Man and challenging him to try to control him. And it worked.
- The Dark Judges in Judge Dredd present a particularly dark form of this trope - since all crime is committed by the living, life itself was outlawed in their universe, and now they seek to accomplish the same goal in Dredd's.
- After killing his master Darth Krayt, Darth Wyyrlok sets into motion his plan for uniting the galaxy under the One Sith. How? By making everyone in the galaxy a Sith.
- Actually, though, the Sith have Free Will as their number one doctrine, in contrast to the Jedi, who are all about self-denial.
- The Jedi ideally chose self-denial freely, in service to others. Which is supported by Yoda's words in The Empire Strikes Back about the decision to become a Jedi requiring "the deepest commitment, the most serious mind". Of course the Old Jedi habit of training Jedi from infancy undercuts that, because deep commitment and serious mind are qualities of maturity, the mark of an adult, not a child. Make of that what you will.
- Actually, though, the Sith have Free Will as their number one doctrine, in contrast to the Jedi, who are all about self-denial.
- Deadpool once went up against an wannabe alien messiah of the Lotus-Eater Machine mold.
- A mild version appears in the Squadron Supreme limited series. As part of their efforts to eliminate crime and war, the Squadron invents a behavior-modification machine and uses it (on a voluntary basis) on convicted criminals.
- The Brain Drain in Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance promises to unite all of mankind and make all our lives easier by invading our minds for its sinister purposes.
- The Guardians of Oa came around to this line of thought in the aftermath of the Sinestro Corps War, the Blackest Night, and the Brightest Day. At first they believed chaos was caused by emotion, so they created an army of robotic Manhunters that lacked it. But without emotion the Manhunters had no qualms about following orders to murder a space sector's population. Then they believed chaos was caused by fear, so they created the Green Lantern Corps to fight it. But then they saw that fear wasn't the only source of chaos — love, rage, greed, compassion, hope, and even the Green Lanterns' willpower could also add chaos. So the Guardians decided that emotion and free will were the source of chaos and created a Third Army that would replace the Lanterns and eradicate free will from the universe.
- It didn't work.
- The Transformers IDW: Megatron holds these views. His endgame, after killing every Autobot, would be to rebuild Cybertron as the perfect utopia, with himself in charge, obviously. When asked by Optimus Prime about things like freedom, free will and personality responsibility, Megatron's response in simple: "They won't be missed."
- In Superman: Red Son, Superman believes this school of thought, having been raised by the Soviet government during the Cold War. Anyone who willingly disobeys Superman or Soviet Russia become a mind-controlled slave and work hard labor for the rest of their lives. The whole way through, however, Superman is genuinely convinced he is doing the ultimate good for the world and cannot understand why Lex Luthor would so adamantly refuse to submit. Unlike many of the examples on this list, Soviet Superman cares for everyone on Earth from the bottom of his heart (even Luthor) and cannot bear to see any physical harm come to them, which is why he goes to such extremes to prevent that.
- A Growing Affection has a minor example, the Big Bad feels ninjas should give up their free will as a trade-off for their vast powers.
- The Immortal Game: Titan eventually comes to believe that the main "problem" with ponies, and the main cause of their rebellion against him and his perfect order, is their free will. As such, he prepares a spell to strip the whole species of it, turning the Final Battle into a Race Against the Clock to defeat him before the spell is ready.
- This is the very premise of One Less Lonely Gurl. In this fanfic, the Villain Sue's motive is to transform the world into a Sugar Bowl free of rock music, goth culture, or anything "alternative". This then obviously leads to said world becoming a Crapsaccharine World.
- The Conversion Bureau: (Pony) free will is fine. Brainwashing humankind is okay.
- In Empath: The Luckiest Smurf, the purpose for the creation of Psychelia by the Psyche Master is to have a society completely obedient to him and free of the emotions that Smurfs and other beings have to deal with. They are also taught that they are not individuals but parts of a collective whole, which is why they are forbidden to identify themselves as anything but "this one".
- Lines And Webs: Celestia believes that total free will is the root cause of violence, and in order to create a peaceful harmonious world ponies need to have their negative emotions magically culled.
- Discussed in Stardust, where Discord states in chapter 31 that the reason the Elements of Harmony won't work against the alien invaders is because they adhere to their own twisted sense of Order. In the same chapter, he also states that he believes Celestia will fall into this line of thinking if he "released her". Fortitude Amicitia implies that this is because she already has once.
- Discussed in Angel Of The Bat. According to Jesus (or possibly just a hallucination of him Cassandra saw), evil exists because people have the ability to choose to commit evil acts. While that does happen, he also claims that it is mankind’s capacity and preference of doing good that makes him so proud.
- Though a paradise with no crime and high living standards, Demolition Man has the ultra-PC San Angeles, where everything that isn't good for you, including the traditional method of sex, is illegal. Simon Phoenix put it best to the new society's founder Raymond Cocteau, "You're an evil Mister Rogers."
- Equilibrium fits this like a Tetragrammaton Cleric's tailored glove.
- The basis of the Community's philosophy in The Giver, which the Chief Elder makes clear near the ending.
Chief Elder: When people have the power to choose, they choose wrong. Every single time.
- If not played straight, then heavily alluded to in The Matrix series.
- Serenity has The Alliance, or a least River Tam's interpretation of them, state "We're not telling people what to think. We're just trying to teach them how."
- B-movie reviewer Scott Foy's review of the pro-Christian drama C Me Dance — in which a teenaged girl is graced with the ability to convert people to Christianity via her touch — points out that the film's heroes apparently believe in this trope, leading to most Unfortunate Implications.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is a horror movie, just one with a great big smile on its face that doesn't realize what it truly is. C ME DANCE is exactly like all those bodysnatching horror movies we've seen where someone gets taken over by an evil presence that can infect and impose its evil into anyone it comes into contact with. Sure, it's the power of Christ this time around but that doesn't make it any less sinister in its affront to the very notion of free will.
- This seems to be part of Loki's plan, in The Avengers, though it's more or less rhetoric that he uses to justify his own selfish ambitions.
- The primary objective of HYDRA in Captain America: The Winter Soldier is to force the world to reject free will by aiming a big gun at them. To achieve this objective, they corrupted SHIELD from within and used its resources to shape the world into the era of paranoia it is today.
- This is the antagonist's position in The World's End.
- They attempt their takeover through seemingly benevolent means, trying to keep the "Blanks" needed to a minimum while they teach and/or bring humanity to the "right" way, and have been doing so for decades; this being a dark comedy, they fail (or at least rationalize (until the heroes point it out)) that their "minimal" need, in one town alone, resulted in only four to six residents (of at least several thousand) not turned into Blanks.
- While the authorities aren't seeking to create an entire world based on this trope, when prison is unable to reform Alex from A Clockwork Orange, he is subjected to conditioning that takes away his ability to commit violent or sexual acts, eventually driving him to a suicide attempt.
- Oberon from John C. Wright's War of the Dreaming wants to relieve Earth of its evils, chaos, and agonies by applying this trope. Predictably, the heroes tell him to get stuffed.
- Brave New World. In an inversion from the Demolition Man example, the populace is kept mindless, carefree and obedient by making sex and drugs readily available.
- Not only are they readily available, but they're also consequence-free. They've engineered a drug who's only negative side effect is a shortened lifespan, and women are taught from a very young age to regularly use contraceptives. The population is also kept brainwashed via Memetic Mutation and sleep learning.
- 1984. The consummate dystopia, where you (if you're a Party member) are being watched, judged and scrutinized everywhere by Big Brother to the extent that you do not have privacy, and even the concept of free will is being phased out by the gradual introduction of Newspeak, a bastardized version of English where all thoughts that oppose the state are grouped together under the label of "crimethink," or in the common parlance, "thoughtcrime." Those who retain enough individual thought to question the system are strung along to believe they're rebelling against it, only to have their hopes (and their minds) crushed through torture and institutionalized Mind Rape.
- In We, the name of the disease is imagination. The location of it in the brain has been discovered, and an operation has been devised to cure it.
- Ayn Rand's Anthem. Very similar to the above We, where numbers and letters have replaced names, and there is no sense of self. The protagonists have never even been taught singular pronouns; it takes two thirds of the book for them to figure it out, to the point that it's an incredible relief when the narrator finally calls himself "I" and his love interest "she" instead of "we" and "they".
- "We are one — alone — and only, and we love you who are one, alone, and only."
- It's implied that the man whose execution the narrator witnessed was killed for using the words "I," "me" and "mine".
- Candle by John Barnes focuses on the conflict between the last man on Earth with free will and the agent sent to bring him in. The agent narrates, so it starts off anti-free will yet oddly sinister ("You get the help you need, but you never know"), then passes through five different Shades of Conflict as more and more background is revealed. The eventual conclusion seems to be that Hive Queens are bad, but Mental Fusion is okay—which is completely contradicted in the sequel.
- The guiding principle behind the dystopian "Community" in The Giver. The elders make everyone's choices for them, including their career and their spouse, because if people were left to their own devices they might make the "wrong" choice. To limit people's choices even further, they go so far as to make the population colorblind.
- The Big Bad's goal in Snow Crash. What makes this especially odd is that free will isn't the natural state of humankind, but an ancient computer program written in the subconscious universal protolanguage of human thought, by what was effectively a Hive King for the human race, inspiring the Tower of Babel myth.
- The idea is outlined in a story-within-a-story in The Brothers Karamazov called the Grand Inquisitor, where Christ comes back and is arrested by the Holy Inquisition for giving humanity free will, consequently allowing misery from the ability to sin. The Grand Inquisitor of the title accusing him wants to bring everyone into the church, and to indoctrinate them so fully that sin will no longer be possible, and he considers Christ an opponent as a bringer of freedom. He claims that Christ should have given in to the temptations of Satan in the wilderness, and used his power to make the world paradise again. Christ never says a word, but kisses him on the cheek, at which the Grand Inquisitor recoils, opens the cell door and tells Christ to leave and never return. This was part of the Nietzsche Wannabe Ivan's Hannibal Lecture to Alyosha, his monk brother.
- In Matched by Ally Condie, the Society decides every aspect of your life based on statistics, what you eat (specific meals are given based on your height and weight), what job you have (based on what you are good at), who you marry, and even when you die (according to the Society, 80 is the best age to die because living to be less than 80 is not a long enough life and living after 80 leads to more age-related diseases).
- In Freedom, the Major tells a captured Peter Sebeck that people need to be told what to do and that modern civilisation needs management by professionals.
- One of the entries for Dignity in The Dictionary of Moments is about a situation where, originally, dangerous criminals were fitted with some kind of mind control implant which made them docile and obedient, but it worked so well that increasingly more people were fitted with them until everybody was, 'for the good of society'. Readable here.
- In the Left Behind book Kingdom Come: The Other Light faction outlines in their If It's True manifesto that by God not allowing "naturals" to live past 100 years of age as unbelievers, then He is against mankind having the right to choose for themselves and thus is considered "evil". This is part of their clarion call to have their teachings be passed down to the next generation of its converts so that the generation that gets to confront God and Jesus Christ at the end of the Millennium will be "assured victory" when Satan is released. Unfortunately for the Other Light, it didn't turn out as they hoped.
- In Across the Universe, Eldest declares individual thought to be one of the three causes of discord, and uses Government Drug Enforcement to limit it as much as possible.
- In Chris Barfield's novel Hidden Histories, this is the ultimate goal of Christianity; the breakup of Christianity into so many different sects is just an argument over method, not over the ultimate goal.
- This is the dark side of several "good" factions in Dragonlance, and the main point of disagreement between them and the neutral factions. (It's been demonstrated that this won't actually work—when the evil goddess Takhisis was banished from the world, the Church of Paladine effectively became evil by persecuting the neutral factions.)
- "The World" of E. E. “Doc” Smith's Subspace Explorers was set up generations before the time of the story as the perfect serf planet: everyone is born, lives, works, and dies in a caste defined by their life-long worknote ; they have serial 'numbers'note instead of personal names; they live in barracks until welded into a breeding pair by dictate of their manager castenote ; their entire language is trimmed to the barest bone, with no proper names and no words for concepts that they shouldn't think; the Company is their god, its Agents their rulers, and producing its Products their only reason for living; and throughout their lives their every word, breath and heartbeat is monitored by a device around their necks which can deliver a lethal electric shock if the Agents decide they are 'mal'note .
- In this dystopia, teens are forced to take an aptitude test that matches them with a "faction": Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, or Erudite. The faction they choose, however, is where they end up for the rest of their lives. If they choose no faction, then they become factionless and are forced to be homeless. Also, if their test results do not match with any particular faction, then they are seen as Divergent, meaning they don’t necessarily conform to the thought patterns of their respective factions and therefore can't be trusted.
- There are shades of this in Abnegation. Basically, any part of free will that serves the self is prohibited.
- In Delirium Series, all teenagers are to be evaluated, mentally and physically, by a team of civil servants who will determine which career they are suited for and what sort of person they should marry (they choose from 4).
- Touched on in The Tripods at times. Will notices the Capped are happy and free from fighting for the most part, and does wonder if being Capped would be so bad. But he does still realize that the happiness comes at a high price, since free will is mostly gone. The Capped also tend to talk about how evil humanity was before the Tripods came.
- Villains by Necessity: In a rare twist, it's said by the "good" guys, who "whitewash" villain's minds to make them good citizens.
- In Tad Williams Bobby Dollar series this is what Heaven is like. The Saved are all eternally happy but only because their memories and personalities have been rendered null and void. While in Hell Bobby notices that for all the unimaginable suffering there it's still far more "alive" than Heaven.
- The Jasmine arc from Angel. Jasmine would have made the world a happy, shiny place, at the expense of free will. And her daily meals.
- In Charmed episode 12 season 7 "Extreme Makeover - World Edition," The Avatar wants to create utopia by curbing free will. In the end, in episode 13 season 7, "Charmageddon," the evil side saves the day.
- Also in Charmed, in season 2 episode 21 "Apocalypse Not" Leo explains why evil loves free will.
- This has appeared a few times on Doctor Who.
The Master: To bring the whole planet Earth under our control.
- A double subversion of this appeared in "Keys of Marinus" where the villains sought to break the rule of the Conscience Machine which enforced morality. The Doctor and his friends agreed that the Conscience Machine had to go anyway.
- Actually the villains had broken free of the Machine and intended to use it to control the planet.
- In "The Tomb of the Cybermen", Kaftan and Klieg from the Brotherhood of Logicians use this as the justification for reviving the Cybermen. They hope to use them as their collective Dragon and have the Brotherhood take over Earth.
- Another Cybermen story "Rise of the Cybermen"/"The Age of Steel" plays with this.
- In "The Green Death" an intellectual tells Jo Grant how the world would be a better place if the smart people (like him) could tell the dumb masses (like her) what to do and to think. She's none too impressed by his argument.
- This exchange from "The Mind Robber":
Doctor: And its people?
The Master: We have no wish to destroy them. Merely to adjust their minds to suit our purpose.
Doctor: Sausages! Mankind will just become like a string of sausages! All the same!
- A double subversion of this appeared in "Keys of Marinus" where the villains sought to break the rule of the Conscience Machine which enforced morality. The Doctor and his friends agreed that the Conscience Machine had to go anyway.
- The Borg in Star Trek are amazed people aren't lining up to be assimilated. The Queen touts it as a blessing.
- TheStar Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Masterpiece Society" is about a human colony that used Social and Genetic engineering to decide each person's profession before they were born (and tweak them to fit that role)note . It didn't seem that bad, as everyone loved their job and the rest of their freedoms were pretty well preserved. Until a number of them realized their society had stagnated, when the much more advanced Enterprise showed up.note Then they wanted to leave, and the guardians of their colony tried to stop them.
- Diend's world in Kamen Rider Decade was ruled by an evil organization that had one rule - be extremely nice and accommodating to everybody you meet or you'll get abducted and forcefully brainwashed.
- In the short-lived 1984 television series, The Tripods, based on John Christopher's science fiction trilogy, a teacher educates his classroom on the dark times before the Tripods came when humanity waged war and disease was rampant. Once the Tripods came and "saved" (enslaved) humanity with silvery caps removing their curiosity and thoughts of rebellion, holidays were held in each village where children past the age of sixteen are forced to be "capped", and become adults.
- The Nebari from Farscape seem to work this way. Chiana repeatedly complains of the strict rules on her home world and gives the harsh treatment of non-conformists as the reason she and her brother ran away when they were young. Her first appearance even shows this, as she is a prisoner being carted back home for not conforming. And, because Moya is a magnet for bad guys, the Nebari do eventually show up and try to "mind cleanse" the crew.
- The villain of the first season finale of Misfits uses this to justify Brainwashing the local teenagers into rejecting drink, drugs and sex, and turning them into pretty much a Holier Than Thou Cult. Although eventually she snaps and admits it's mostly revenge for being bullied for her beliefs.
- Used as a Motive Rant by Dick's Evil Twin in 3rd Rock from the Sun.
"That's the problem with this planet. You've wholesale and retail, pink packets and blue packets, Republicans and Democrats and the party that crazy midget started. How they love their choices. Everyone has to have their own point of view. There should be only one point of view. MY point of view. I've got a message for these humans. The buffet line is about to close... forever!"
- In the 1970's drama Children of the Stones , the Affably Evil Rafael Hendrick tries to make the people of the village of Milbury perfect by removing their ability to make mistakes.
- The Prisoner: In one of the later episodes one of the Number 2s reveals that they want the whole world to become like the Village, where a premium is placed on obedience and superficial harmony at the expense of free will and choice.
- Kreel has a plan for this in The Legend Of William Tell, involving sending unwitting pawns out into the villages with the ability to bring terrible pain to anyone who speaks ill of Kreel and Xax - without them knowing they're doing it.
- In Supernatural, angels are all about this.
- Featured at the end of Breaking Benjamin's offical music video for "Dance With the Devil". The Devil, in the form of an old man (priest?), quotes John Milton's Paradise Lost:
- "Free will; it is a bitch."
- A Perfect Circle's "Pet" (and its alternative version, "Counting The Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums"):
Safe from pain, and truth, and choice, and other poison devils...
- Devo's "Freedom of Choice" from Freedom of Choice.
Freedom of choice is what you got, Freedom from Choice is what you want.
- Nick Cave's song "O' Malley's Bar" from Murder Ballads is about a murderer who justifies his crimes by the fact that he has no free will.
I blew a hole in Mrs. Richard HolmesAnd her husband stupidly stood upAs he screamed, "You are an evil man"And I paused a while to wonder"If I have no free will then how can IBe morally culpable, I wonder"
- The LDS Church believes that Lucifer planned to do this. While Jesus offered himself as an atoning sacrifice to allow those who sinned to be resurrected and have a chance of returning to Heavenly Father, Lucifer offered to ensure that everybody would get back to heaven in return for all of the power and glory. He planned to do this by taking away people's free will and prevent them from being able to sin. When his plan was rejected he and his supporters refused to back down and after the War in Heaven, were banished to the outer darkness, where they continue to try and upset the Plan of Salvation.
- Somewhat ironically, most Satanic sects reverse the roles, with Satan being the advocate of free will and God being the overbearing authority trying to stamp it out.
- This trope is at least referenced in just about every sect of Christianity. If there was no free will, Satan would never have rebelled, and Adam would have never eaten the Forbidden Fruit. In fact, there wouldn't be a need for the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
- On the other hand, the reason that there is free will is the fact that God created it that way.
- In fact, one interpretation is that, because an all-knowing God would obviously know that the existence of free will would lead to evil, He obviously considered the existence of all evil in the world to be an acceptable alternative to a world without free will.
- Most of these examples are Newer Than They Think; The Bible itself mentions nothing in regards to free will (as it wasn't a topic largely considered), so all interpretations are largely based on Thomas Aquinas works.
- Yet it still is Older Than Feudalism. St. Augustine, the famous church father who lived around 400 AD, wrote extensively on free will and had arguments about it with both the Manicheans (a non-Christian religion of which he was a former member) and, more famously, with Pelagius (a British Christian monk). Augustine believed in free will, but also believed that humanity was tainted with original sin and would therefore be in need of divine grace to achieve moral perfection. Pelagius denied this necessity and the impact of orginal sin on anyone else but Adam. Augustine was not the first church father to write on free will. Among others Justin Martyr, Tertullian and Irenaeus have all written on the subject. Furthermore, even though the Bible does not raise the question directly, reading the narrative will naturally provoke the question, especially concerning Adam and Eve's actions surrounding the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (did they eat its fruit willingly or was it predetermined?)
- Another interpretation is that God created free will so that mankind would have the choice to follow Him or not. He could have not put the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden in the first place, but if He hadn't left that door open, wouldn't Adam and Eve technically have been living in enslavement, even if it was enslavement in paradise? (Though it should be noted that Adam and Eve in this story were depicted as naive and gullible, not all-knowing and wise, after all, if they could think for themselves on how to discern what is bad from what is good, there would have been no need for the tree of knowledge in the first place, so while they may have had the free will to eat from it, it wasn't exactly a choice they came to using critical thinking and reason.)
- The interpretation in Paradise Lost is that it was necessary for Adam and Eve to have the choice as it meant they had free will. Even if God knew they would do this, it was still their choice.
- Read the Book of Job, and it gives an interesting view on Satan as a tempter whose sole purpose was to tempt the faithful and then denounce them as a test of faith, and he was given that role by God. It was seriously implied that God was in command of both Good and Evil, thus being beyond such.
- That of course is just one possible interpretation of that book.
- The Melissidae bloodline in Vampire: The Requiem owes its creation to a Ventrue being impressed by a woman who believed this so strongly she tried to gather a cult in an attempt to form a human Hive Mind. The resultant vampires still believe it. The setting is not sympathetic to this ideology in the slightest, outright calling it a "perversion of humanity" even before an undead abomination is left as the sole driving will of the hive.
- In Exalted this is the motivation of She Who Lives In Her Name, the Principle of Hierarchy: to eradicate free will and everything else in the world that has no place in her ideal hierarchy. After their defeat and imprisonment, the other Yozis seem to be developing tendencies in this direction as well. The main exceptions are Isidoros, who as an incarnation of strength has to understand self-interest, and the Ebon Dragon, who finds it more satisfying to shaft and corrupt people if they fall of their own will.
- The Seers of the Throne have strains of this. Their goal is to keep the Sleepers from Awakening if they won't throw their lot in with their divine masters, the Exarchs... whose very goal in ascending was to make sure that magic was theirs and theirs alone. As they realize examination of the Fallen World can lead to revelations of the Supernal, and thus Awakening, they strive to make sure that humans don't question their lot in existence. Popular methods involve encouraging anti-scientific attitudes, encouraging highly dogmatic religious thought, and spreading enough paranoia to keep the Sleepers on their toes.
- The ultimate goal of Necrons in Warhammer 40,000 is to cut away the connection between the Warp and realspace. While this would prevent the Chaos Gods and the daemons from interacting with the mortal world, it would also prevent interstellar travel and communication, and destroy the souls of all sentient beings, depriving them of their free will and turning them to cattle for the Necrons' C'tan stargods.
- The Imperium of Man is hardly better. Mental, scientific, and religious stagnation is official government policy, enforced by genocide if - sorry, when - necessary. Thought begets heresy.
- Bromion, a Lord of Order present in the official Champions setting, wants to destroy all life on earth because it is confusing and messy and most importantly chaotic.
- This is a very common trope for villainous White in Magic: The Gathering.
- All the partially-white guilds in Ravnica (except the Boros, who are a combination of White and Red, the colour of passion and free will) have their own view on this: The Selesnya have a Hive Mind that assimilates people, the Orzhov removes its adherents' free will for the benefit of their leaders, and the Azorius want the rule of Law to dictate how people act.
- The white part of New Phyrexia, the Machine Orthodoxy, is devoted to absolute unity. One sect within the Orthodoxy takes it even further and wishes to combine all life not only in mind, but also in flesh. Some white Phyrexians even have trouble comprehending the idea of independent thought.
- Pathfinder has this as part of the setting's backstory. The first gods to be born were twin brothers, the Chaotic Good Ihys and the Lawful Evil Asmodeus. They and the gods that followed created mortal life so that they would have servants and worshipers, but Ihys decided to give them free will as well. This horrified Asmodeus, who believed in obedience above all else, and he showed Ihys the destruction that the mortals had caused, causing Ihys a brief My God, What Have I Done? moment. Sarenrae, on the other hand, showed him that mortals were also capable of goodness and beauty, and he stood by his decision. A war between the gods resulted, and ended with the first ever act of treachery, when Asmodeus offered his hand in peace to Ihys, but murdered him with a spear when it was accepted. Sarenrae attacked him, and Asmodeus ran off with his tail between his legs, taking his followers to Hell.
- Megumi Kitaniji from The World Ends with You. His O-Pins brainwash everyone so that there will be no differences. In a strange twist, he has a sympathetic reason for trying to do this, as the Composer has decided to erase Shibuya if it doesn't change. Fortunately for everyone involved, the Composer changes his mind at the last minute and Shibuya is spared.
- Kitanji is not, however.
- Sheng-ji Yang of Sid Meiers Alpha Centauri strongly believes in achieving this. For the most part, he comes off as a tyrant, but his goals are rooted in legitimate Eastern philosophy, have a distinct Utopia Justifies the Means flavor, and are extremely similar to Transcendence, leading to quite a bit of Alternate Character Interpretation.
- Both the city of Hallifax and the commune of Glomdoring in Lusternia. Hallifax are Crystal Spires and Togas communists, who attempt to convert their enemies with reasoned debate and advanced super-science. Glomdoring is The Lost Woods and populated by The Fair Folk, who want to seed their corrupted forest through the rest of the known world, and brainwash the remnants of society (or, if that fails, kill them all). Neither tolerates dissent. (Magnagora does not fit here, despite being more overtly evil - they encourage dissent, believing it will make the usurpers stronger than their forebears when they rise up.)
- This is pretty much God's (and by extension the Law alignment's) catch phrase in the Shin Megami Tensei series. His idea of a perfect society is a paradise where people can't do wrong... not won't do wrong... can't.
- Similarly, this is the very basis of the Reason of Shijima in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. Its founder, Hikawa, believes that the world should be subsumed into absolute, perfect, and peaceful stillness, where individuality doesn't exist and all are one with each other and with God. The irony is that he was originally a member of the Cult of Gaea, the Chaos-aligned sect for whom free will is the most important thing.
- In Devil Survivor, most of the Angels are actually pissed that God is treating the lockdown as humanity's Last-Second Chance rather than immediately revoking their free will.
- In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, Zelenin becomes an Unwitting Pawn capable of brainwashing anyone deemed worthy of living in their "utopic" World of Silence.
- The Templars in Assassin's Creed have the elimination of free will as their number one goal. Of course, this involves brainwashing the entire human race and establishing a dictatorship with the Templars in control.
- If you complete The Truth puzzles in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, it turns out that capitalism was engineered by the Templars to enslave humanity, with television serving as a method of indoctrination and control. However, it turns out that Generation Y is not only becoming immune to its effects, but is beginning to rebel against the subtle control the Templars have instituted with the Free Market and Wall Street.
- In Tales of Symphonia this is the solution of the Big Bad. In order to prevent the discrimination of Half-Elves everyone will be turned into angels without thoughts or emotions.
- In Metal Gear Solid 2, this is the stated goal of the Patriots, according to the Colonel/Rose AI, to the point that they outright tell Raiden he "doesn't deserve" to think for himself.
- Senator Steven Armstrong in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has a similar goal. Until he decides to tell the truth, in which he reveals that his actual plan is to create an America ruled by personal strength and one where everyone can fight for what they believe in.
- In BioShock 2, this is the Big Bad Sofia Lamb's main belief. As a collectivist, she believes that true good can only come from people destroying their sense of self to work for the benefit of the whole and that individuality (which she sees as a genetic disorder inherent in humanity) is the true root of human evil. This belief goes very deep, actually, and by the end she's ready to kill her own daughter and all of Rapture rather than let them live under the "curse" of selfdom.
- In BioShock Infinite, an alternate version of Elizabeth is found to believe thusly. Having been indoctrinated, brainwashed and declared Comstock's successor, she has enacted a ruthless policy of forcing similar treatments on rebellious citizens to make them into obedient soldiers - ultimately proclaiming that free will must be eradicated from her disciples, "for what is the value of will when the spirit is found wanting?"
- In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, Cyrus believes that Spirit is the cause of all suffering, so he rejects it himself and tries to destroy it in everyone else, by capturing the origin deities of emotion, wisdom, and intellect, and later planning to destroy the entire freaking universe and just start over.
- Gavin Magnus, the Big Bad of Emilia's campaign in Heroes of Might and Magic IV, blames free will for the destruction of the old world.
- The Qun in the Dragon Age franchise preaches that the only choice that matters is the choice to excel in your Qun determined role or to die. Those that do not submit to the Qun are "bas" — things — and unworthy of respect. Those that leave it are "Tal'Vashoth" and are considered worse than dead as living insults to the Qun. Despite the implicit lack of free will in this code, the sequel shows many people in Kirkwall willing to convert to the Qun even though the Qunari aren't actively preaching anything. After living in Kirkwall for so long, the order the Qun offers seems very compelling.
"Existence is a choice. A self of suffering, brings only suffering to the world. It is a choice, and we can refuse it".
- It should note that the Qun technically doesn't think Free Will is evil as much as it is nonexistent.
- Neither does the Qun think that Free Will is evil, nor that it is nonexistent. They believe that chaos and selfishness are evil, and that everyone should work together in their struggle to reach a better future without such flaws. They do, however, like any other religion in Thedas, follow the concept of "join us or die (or in their case be made a mindless working drone via poison and whatnot)", atleast in times of war.
- Technically, the Qun does allow for choice - so long as your choice is within your role. For example, a warrior has no choice be anything but a warrior, but that warrior can choose how to do his job.
- The Qunari also embrace the philosophy of "Asit tal-eb: It is to be". They believe the only choice that matters is whether someone chooses to exist.
- In Infernal, one of the villains is an angel who believes that free will is something of a design flaw, and wants to technologically brainwash humanity while the Creator isn't looking.
- In Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm, we see a Zerg Brood Mother, Zagara, muse a bit on the nature of human individuality and free will. She believes that all humans must feel incredibly lonely, being locked away in their own little minds, and thinks that humans would be, on the whole, happier if they were absorbed into the Swarm. Kerrigan, upon hearing this, disagrees heavily. Zagara's looking at it, of course, from a Zerg perspective: those Zerg that are individually intelligent feel an intense discomfort and loss of purpose when they don't have a Hive Mind to rule and guide them, so it makes some sense she would see it that way, rather than finding liberation in individualism like humans do.
- In Soul Nomad & the World Eaters, this is one aspect of Drazil. Everyone looks the same. Everyone eats the same food. Everyone lives until thirty and then just dies. Children (who all look the same) are raised communally, they're named after their birthplace and a number instead of having real names, and everyone keeps espousing a selfless dogma of "Live for the world, die for the world". Even Gig is creeped out, calling the residents "corpses that haven't stopped moving".
- This is the view of Father Elijah, the Arc Villain from the Fallout: New Vegas DLC Dead Money. He seeks to reduce all people to mindless automatons that he can direct with the push of a button. Hence, his fascination with the Explosive Leashes he found in the Big MT.
- In the Reaper of Souls expansion for Diablo III, "The Path of Wisdom" reveals that in Malthael's eyes, beings should be either irrevocably good (e.g. angels) or irrevocably evil (e.g. demons); it's unacceptable for anything to be able to choose between the two, certainly not beings of such fleeting existence as mortals.
- Schlock Mercenary works with this concept via nigh-omnipotent ship AI Petey. On the one hand, he's running around grabbing up villain groups and conscripting them into positions trying to help out innocents and stop bigger villains (kinda reminiscent of The Stainless Steel Rat). On the other hand, he points out that he wants to preserve free will, and in service to that ideal is refusing to take certain steps that would be more efficient than his current methods. He even talks this over with the strip's resident moralist, Theo Fobius.
- The Legion from MSF High play with this trope. The Legion war ended specifically because the Legion realized they disagreed with this concept, but seemed to be using it.
- In Planescape Survival Guide, the original conflict of the creator gods stems from the argument of allowing free will into the "perfect", ordered Multiverse.
- Played for Laughs in Girl Genius. Klaus should have known what sort of answer he will get from DuPree.
- Megatron the Predacon came to a rather similar conclusion somewhere between the end of Beast Wars and the beginning of Beast Machines.
- In The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror" story "Time and Punishment", the first alternate timeline Homer arrives in has Ned Flanders ruling the world like this. Those who resist are taken for "Re-Neducation".
Flanders: Now, in case all that smiling didn't cheer you up, there's one thing that never fails: a nice glass of warm milk, a little nap — and a total frontal lobotomy!
- Dantes Inferno: An Animated Epic: God's willingness to give all those around Him free will is what led to Lucifer's fall from heaven and gave him ever-increasing power in hell as most souls on earth damn themselves to everlasting suffering rather than ascend to Heaven.
Dante: How could God allow this?Virgil: God allowed free will, even for His angels. It was Lucifer who devised such torment.
- Social engineering can sometimes be seen like this.
- The example that essentially served as the origin for this trope was Thomas Hobbes' philosophical treatise, Leviathan. In his work, Hobbes argues that humans have a default "state of nature" where they are ruled by their selfish impulses, and are automatically inclined to seek their own betterment over anyone else. Thus, Hobbes' argument is that in order to avoid total destruction and chaos, people must give up their freedom to a leviathan (powerful ruler) who can use his authority to overrule humanity's impulsive tendencies and provide long term security in exchange for some freedoms. Most villains who subscribe to this trope, particularly those of the Well-Intentioned Extremist variety, tend to to present their ideas as something of an extension of Hobbes original argument. They almost always also believe they should be the ruler (or loyally serve someone who thinks this).
- Many despots of the Utopia Justifies the Means utopian variety have put some of this trope into operation, whether or not they believe it is a different matter. Stalin, Pol Pot, Chairman Mao, and the more extremist participants of The French Revolution come to mind, but they are really just the tip of the iceberg.
- Even Hitler could be seen as having shades of it. Through introducing the Fuhrerprinzip (leader-principle) he demanded absolute, unquestioning obedience from those below him - morality be damned (in turn, his lieutenants demanded the same from those directly below them and so on). He, as the head of state, effectively became the personification of the nation's will, the incarnation of the highest law, and answerable only to Germany and God. All this was seen/presented as absolutely necessary for the survival of the German people.
- Psychologist Nicholas Humphrey who, in a lecture entitled "What Shall We Tell The Children" to Amnesty unironically shows what exactly is wrong with this concept, first by applying Moral Myopia:
"Freedom of speech is too precious a freedom to be meddled with..... And since I am sure of this in general, and since I'd expect most of you to be so too, I shall probably shock you when I say it is the purpose of my lecture tonight to argue in one particular area just the opposite. To argue, in short, in favour of censorship against freedom of expression, and to do so in an area of life that has traditionally been regarded as sacrosanct. I am talking about moral and religious education. And especially the education a child receives at home.... parents have no god-given licence to enculturate children in whatever ways they personally choose....in short, children have the right not to have their minds addled by religion. And we as a society have a duty to protect them from it. So we should no more allow parents to teach their children to believe, for example, the literal truth of the Bible, or that the parents rule their lives, than we should allow parents to knock their children's teeth out or lock them in a dungeon. That's the negative side of what I want to say. But there will be a positive side as well. If children have a right to be protected from false ideas, they have too a right to be succored by the truth. And we as a society have a duty to provide it."
- Of course, whether he is right or wrong is a matter of perspective and is best discussed elsewhere.
- Psychologist B. F. Skinner's 1971 book "Beyond Freedom and Dignity". Check the other Wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beyond_Freedom_and_Dignity). He also did some pretty terrible things to pidgins.
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