This is a character type with a lot of integrity. His skills at what he does has made him something of a legend, often greatly admired by those who work beneath or alongside him. He refuses to just go along with what his bosses or administration want. Unfortunately, because he doesn't play by the rules of office politics, and because house politics here promote blind obedience, his superiors have blacklisted him and made his career stall out at a certain point. This results in a tense situation where management may be actively looking to get rid of him but can't because of his reputation, while he wants to either just do his thing or make changes to the existing system.
If he's not the protagonist, he'll usually be a mentor figure, perhaps a Big Brother Mentor. Alternatively, in stories on the cynical side of the scale he can serve as a warning of what happens if you're not willing to make compromises. A natural enemy to and the bane of the Obstructive Bureaucrat.
The Last DJ can become the Almighty Janitor, though not always. If the bosses really get sick of his Honor Before Reason attitude, he may be threatened with or actually have to endure being Reassigned to Antarctica for his stubbornness.
Compare Rebellious Rebel, whose conflicts with his superior are acute, not chronic, and who rapidly ends up dead or fleeing.
Contrast Limited Advancement Opportunities, where characters never advance in their position because that would force the writing team to separate the cast. The exact opposite of Kicked Upstairs, where an unwanted and incompetent person is promoted, to get them away from the real work so they can no longer screw things up. See also Bothering by the Book and Screw the Money, I Have Rules!. Also compare Bunny-Ears Lawyer, where the traits that would hold back a Last DJ get overlooked on account of how much of an asset the character is otherwise. Also, the traits in a Bunny Ears Lawyer are mostly just quirks and eccentricities that may be self indulgent as opposed to the Last DJ who is more likely to feel like he's the Only Sane Man. Will very frequently overlap with Knight in Sour Armor. Music wise it overlaps with Music Is Politics.
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Anime and Manga
One Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex episode features Marcelo Jarti, a popular South American war hero, revolutionary, and drug kingpin who spends half his time dodging assassination attempts from the US and Britain because he refuses to go along with their plans for South American politics. Turns out that he was actually put in a machine that made copies of him and the original died a while ago. It isn't made clear whether he chose this or not.
Kenzo Tenma in Monster ultimately counts as an aversion. It looks like he is being set up for this when he chooses to treat an injured child instead of the Mayor, who dies while being treated by less talented surgeons, but then his superiors died mysteriously, at the hands of the very psychopathic child Tenma had treated leaving Tenma clear to advance his career. After that he does choose to play it straight and leaves the better job to follow what he feels is a moral obligation.
Jin from Samurai Champloo has most elements of this. Believing in the purity of martial arts, he objected to his sensei's plan to work with Kagetoki Kariya, the Shogun's chief assassin, knowing that it would result in the entire school being forced to become assassins as well. For this defiance Kariya ordered Jin's master to kill him, but Jin won the fight. Despite this, Jin never revealed the reason behind their duel, taking the blame for what happened rather than allowing his master's reputation to be stained. Later, despite wandering Japan aimlessly living as a near penniless ronin, he refuses to work for the corrupt lords of Japan because of their evil ways and in one case we even see him mouth off about it to that lord's face.
Roy Mustang presents himself as an inversion, a loyal kiss-up who will do anything to gain favor with the system and be promoted. Eventually however we learn that in truth Mustang is an Internal Reformist who was disgusted by the horrors and slaughter he participated in during the Ishval War. As a result he wants to gain control of the military dictatorship, topple it, and reform it forever even though the military is the only thing shielding Mustang and numerous other soldiers and officers from being tried for war crimes. In fact, it's specifically said that Roy wants to be put on trial for his part in things. And regardless of the personal dangers, the attempts to isolate, bribe, or coerce him, nothing can stop Roy from working towards his goal.
Also played straight with Alex Louis Armstrong. Fuhrer Bradley tells Armstrong that he's never promoted because he refuses to follow orders completely. More specifically, he refuses to kill blindly and indiscriminately just because those are his orders. Both in the show's present and in the flashbacks to the Ishval War, Armstrong has either attempted to show mercy to his enemies or help Ishvalan civilians.
Legend of Galactic Heroes - Yang Wen-Li is the greatest military genius to be born since Genghis Khan conquered Eurasia, is loyal to a fault toward his country and politically savvy enough to know what the Free Planets Alliance should do to ensure its perenity and prosperity for a few generation at least and probably the nicest guy of The Verse. Because of this, a lot of corrupt officials in the alliance fear and hate him, knowing that he would easily beat them should he decide to quit the army and run against them in an election. Fortunately for his rival Reinhart von Lohengram, Yang is so devoid of ambition that he pass every opportunity to gain political power, unwittingly giving Reinhart the opportunity to conquer the Free Planet Alliance
Minor character Colonel Holden. His response to Herr Starr when Starr chews him out and tells him to shut up and follow orders if he ever wants to get promoted past colonel is the very essence of this trope.
I know how to get ahead, mister. And I know damn well I will never rise higher than colonel, because I do not and by God will not kiss the requisite amount of ass.
Main character Jesse Custer himself could count as an example, as he has a tendency to royally piss off people in power and defy them over idealistic points, up to and including God Himself, who Jesse chases down and tells off for being irresponsible and abandoning Heaven. Later in the series we see his integrity making him solve problems the hard way instead of just using his handy Word of God power to get himself out of the situations he gets himself into.
The Losers has supporting character Agent Stegler, a CIA agent who is an experienced field agent that has been reassigned to a desk job that he hates due to his unpopular opinions on what the agency should be doing, and his objection to young agents doing crappy work and just using their jobs as a networking opportunity to get in with corrupt private companies. (At one point some younger agents even ask why Stegler seems to be unable to get the point that his reassignment was an obvious attempt to get him to resign).
John Hartigan, the last honest cop in Sin City, until he is framed and sent to prison for refusing to let the son of a senator rape a little girl.
Star Wars series: Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn was allegedly never chosen to join the Jedi Council because of his unorthodox views, and his questioning of/refusal to just go along with the council's views and decisions.
Captain Gordon from Godzilla Final Wars. When the Earth Defense Force is infiltrated at the command level, the soldiers nonetheless implicitly trust Gordon, who would never become "one of them."
In The Untouchables, when Elliott Ness asks Malone why he's still a beat cop at his age, the latter answers that he's one of the few policemen in Chicago who isn't on the take.
In Batman Begins, Lucius Fox was shifted away to the Applied Sciences division for making too much trouble for the Wayne Industries Board of Directors. At the end of the movie, he becomes CEO of the company.
In the unproduced Batman: Year One film reboot by Darren Aronofsky, Lieutenant Jim Gordon fulfills this role. Gordon is (quite literally) one of the only two notable cops (the other a newly-hired desk jockey) who refuse to accept the drug money kickbacks and corruption that permeate the Gotham City Police Department, to the point that he is kept on crap assignments and as far out of the way as possible by Commissioner Loeb.
The main character in the 1978 comedy FM, although he's a station manager rather than a literal DJ.
In Soul Kitchen, a chef gets fired for declining to cook food that is not up to his high standards (warm gazpacho soup, namely).
One of the most extreme cases of this trope is the film, Hive Mind, where the main character's sticking to his standards have made him the last unassimilated human in a post-apocalyptic future. Interestingly, he literally was a DJ in his younger years.
In TRON: Legacy, the boardroom scene heavily implied that this became the case for Alan Bradley, who questioned the rest of the executives on their improvements to the new operating system, and got "we put a twelve on the box" in response.
The first film had the same for Walter Gibbs, who was essentially locked out of his own company for protesting Dillinger's shoddy treatments of programmers and lockdown of data through the system. His counterpart, Dumont, was almost a literal case, operating the last free I/O Tower on the System in defiance of Master Control.
Heartbreak Ridge brings us Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Highway, who's still "just" a Gunnery Sergeant despite rapidly approaching the mandatory retirement age. His semi-regular bouts of insubordination, public drunkenness, fighting with civilians and police (usually because of public drunkenness), and hard-headed dedication to the "old ways" of the Marine Corps are just enough to keep him from getting promoted, but not quite enough to get him discharged. By sheer accident, he happens to use these skills to turn an under-performing recon squad into a competent and savvy military unit just in time for the invasion of Grenada and are an instrumental part of an early victory, while the more "modern" and "elite" units headed by a number-crunching desk-jockey have barely advanced past the initial beach-head.
With the North Norfolk Digital station being rebranded as "Shape" and old timers like Pat Farrell being fired, Alan likes to think of himself as this in Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.
Captain Vimes in Guards! Guards! felt that he was in this situation. In his own words: "Every time he seemed to be getting anywhere he spoke his mind, or said the wrong thing. Usually at the same time."
However, this has become inverted as the series progresses, as Vimes is repeatedly promoted and ennobled against his wishes, having to be coerced into accepting by the Patrician. Vetinari likes having a powerful person who won't play the game; it keeps the people who are playing it worried. The ultimate example is probably the end of Feet of Clay where, much to Vimes's own bewilderment, Vetinari gives him a pay rise for upsetting everyone important in the city, and bursting into a council meeting with an axe. Vetinari muses in one book that having an authority figure who is so staunchly anti-authoritarian is "practically zen".
Vetinari himself holds the unique position of being this trope, in a position of power. Vetinari believes in only as much authority as absolutely necessary; since this is far less authority than many influential people think is natural (and especially far less than they think should naturally be held by them), they'd love to be rid of him. But at the same time, he's managed to get the city working far better than any of the previous patricians, and he's the only one who knows the language the instruction manual is written in; in other words, he's made himself not just effective, but necessary, which (as is noted with some frequency) has far better staying power than being feared, and thus puts him leagues ahead of Machiavelli by just about every metric.
Eva Wolfe from the Burke series by Andrew Vachss was fired from her job as the head of City-wide Special Victims for refusing to "go along to get along", in the form of giving a pedophile a merciful deal.
Vorkosigan Saga - Aral Vorkosigan, in his depressive phases. After his almost-bloodless conquest of the planet of Komarr, he first killed his Political Officer bare-handed for ordering the Solstice Massacre, and got busted from Admiral back to Captain and Reassigned to Antarctica. It didn't stick.
The titular knight of David Eddings' Sparhawk series originally held the hereditary position of Champion of the Royal House of Elenia... but when the king was corrupted by his sister and a greedy Primate, Sparhawk refused to just go along with things. He was then forced to take on the position of glorified nursemaid for the young princess Ehlana, in hopes that he'd resign his position in humiliation. Instead, he proceeded to raise her into a brilliant ruler. The king finally exiled Sparhawk, sending him to keep an eye on the heretics, in the middle of the desert half a world away. Years later, once the king has died and he is allowed to return, her Deadly Decadent Court quickly finds that he is not only as incorruptible as ever, but now also on veryfriendly terms with the highest power in the kingdom. Not to mention well-armed and more than willing to prove it to anyone who impugns the honor of his wife the Queen Elhana, or himself.
His father, also named Sparhawk, was the reason King Aldreas could not marry his sister. The incorruptibility of the Sparhawk line was legendary.
The Dresden Files - Lieutenant Karrin Murphy was transferred to Special Investigations specifically because she wouldn't shut up about inconvenient facts. This also results in her getting demoted later, when her absence during an investigation got her in serious trouble. She couldn't exactly tell her boss she was helping a wizard storm the Winter Queen's castle to rescue a teenage girl, now, could she?
And in the book Changes, she is fired (but with retirement pay, thanks to her boss at SI fighting for her) after disappearing for a while in order to help Harry save his recently-discovered daughter.
Snow Crash - Hiro Protagonist, last freelance hacker. He is aggressively sought after by at least one software firm willing to pay top dollar for his skills, but working for them would require wearing a tie and showing up to work in the morning. Hiro finds these conditions to be dealbreakers and remains unaffiliated.
Harry Drinkwater from Allen Steele's Lunar Descent. He obeys all FCC regulations to the letter, yet manages to get fired from every DJ position he's ever held.
The Ministry of Magic treats Dumbledore like this in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Later books reveal that Dumbledore is partly this trope by choice because, after his tragic history with Grindelwald, he fears that political authority would be too big of a temptation for the Manipulative Bastard side of his personality. It does, however, have the unfortunate side-effect of making the Ministry reluctant to believe him when it really counts.
Morgan and Duncan are treated this way by the Camberian Council in the Deryni novels. They are skilled and heroically loyal to their king (mentoring him in his youth despite efforts to stop them), they even rediscovered the Healing ability thought lost for two centuries, yet they are repeatedly dissed by the Council for being rogue half-breeds. The Council even votes to make them liable to arcane challenge just when reactionary clergy are out to get them and there's an invasion in the offing. They get the chance to confront the Council directly once, and Morgan seizes it:
"Do you presume to question our authority?" Coram asked carefully.
"I question your authority to place our lives in jeopardy for circumstances which are outside our control, sir" Morgan replied. Coram sat back and nodded slowly as Morgan continued. "I do not pretend to understand all the ramifications of my inheritance, but His Majesty will assure you, I think, that I have a fair idea what justice is about. If you shut us out from the protection of our birthright, and force us to stand against full Deryni who are formally trained in the use of their powers, it may be that you decree our deaths. Surely we have done nothing to warrant that."
The Council's antipathy continues for years after this; they hold Morgan and Duncan responsible for Kelson's reluctance to accept their guidance (rather than considering their own actions may be the cause), and many of them deplore the very notion that either Morgan or Duncan could have enough merit to join their number. It's fortunate that they have another, more understanding boss in their king.
This is essentially what happens to Violet in Feed, except without the "world renowned skills" part. Because of her active refusal to conform and be a mindless Feed user like many other teenagers she rebels and basically tries to troll the Feed company. Unfortunately, because she never expressed interests that would make her needs marketable, no company is willing to invest in saving her.
In the Elemental Logic series, Supreme Chef Garland deserted the Sainnite army because the General ordered him to cook badly, which he was completely unwilling to do.
Live Action TV
Treme has Davis, a quite literal embodiment of this trope. He gets fired from the last "real" DJ position at WOL for blessing their "soulless" post Katrina digs with a voodoo ritual. He then proceeds to make several different short careers out of refusing to keep his mouth shut.
House is the embodiment of this trope. So we have a drug addict who pries into others' lives, even going so far as using breaking and entry or mind games to get what he wants. His co-workers hate him for his surly temperament and cavalier attitude. His students hate him for being vicious, demanding and very unforgiving. His boss hates him for all the laws he keeps breaking and the many patient complaints about his attitude. The thousands of people he has saved, however, call him a miracle worker and adore him for saving them. He's a doctor and is unafraid to do these things because he values saving human lives above all else and refuses to compromise even in the face of modern medical laws.
Scrubs has Dr. Cox, whose stubborn idealism makes him a near perfect example of this. In a very early episode, Dr. Cox is criticized for this by a former chief of medicine and mentor.
Dr. Benson: You don't think, Perry. You're such a talented doctor. If you would play the game even a little, you'd be in a position where you could change things around here. But you're too stubborn for that aren't ya?
Later episodes go on to continue deconstructing this. For example, patients impressed by Dr. Cox and familiar with the hospital's power structure wonder how Dr. Cox can only be an Attending Physician and not higher up the chain of command. Cox' therapist tries to get him to confront his self-sabotaging tendencies, basically contending that Cox lies to himself by pretending that those tendencies are idealism and staying honest rather than self-loathing. At one point when Cox criticizes his Hero-Worshipper JD for playing the game and scoring brownie points with Dr.Kelso, JD responds by saying "Look, I wanna be like you...but a more successful you. There's nothing wrong with playing the game once in a while." Even Dr. Cox himself shows that he realizes what a toll his behavior takes on his life. In one episode JD blows off a date to work late in an attempt to imitate Dr. Cox. When Cox learns about this he berates JD and gives the younger man some food for thought by saying "Are you trying to be like me? Newbie-don't you realize that I just barely want to be like me?" It finally pays off for Cox in the show's last season, when he becomes Chief Of Medicine after Dr. Kelso's retirement and several other would-be Chiefs flop at the job. Even that has its downside, however, as Cox becomes so bogged down with paperwork that he barely has any face time with his beloved patients — or even his son — just like he was worried about.
The Wire has a few examples. Jimmy McNulty constantly flouts the chain of command and makes cases against the department's political interests, enraging his superior officers. He is eventually transferred to the Marine Unit, but comes back, then becomes a beat cop and eventually is forced to retire for going too far. Lester Freamon is also a great detective, but was busted down to the Pawnshop unit for going against the Deputy Commissioner, where he stayed for over 13 years and four months before getting back into real police work.
Michael is a very talented young drug dealer and hitman for Marlo Stanfield's crew, but he becomes increasingly disturbed by Marlo's tendency to kill anyone who challenges his authority, and his willingness to murder entire families. He starts to speak out against it to other members of the crew, and Marlo eventually orders Snoop to kill him. Michael kills her instead, however, and he becomes a stick-up artist.
Gus Haynes, the City Desk Editor for the Baltimore Sun is another example. He seems to be the only one who still values journalistic integrity and the proper process while everyone else keeps their head down to avoid being laid off or actively games the system.
Not to leave out Cedric Daniels, one of the nicest characters in the entire cast. He's slightly more willing to "play the game" than McNulty, but always chooses proper police work over good-looking statistics. His main obstacle is an unspecified past corruption charge that his superiors like to menacingly bring up whenever he goes too far. He eventually rises to Police Commissioner, and promptly resigns rather than start juking the stats like his predecessors.
Dr. Johnny Fever, a DJ from WKRP in Cincinnati. A former successful DJ in Los Angeles, he was fired for saying "booger" on the air in The Seventies. Something of a burnout, he still refused to play songs from the station's Top 40 play list.
Lt. Col. John Sheppard from Stargate Atlantis said a lot of people never thought he'd make it past Captain, due to his tendency for insubordination. But as Elizabeth Weir reminded General Jack O'Neill, it ain't like Sheppard was alone in that regard...
Grissom from CSI: Crime Scene Investigation qualifies in spades. In fact this is arguably the central theme of the show; pretty much every member of the night shift is like this — they're good at the job, but not good at playing office politics. Ecklie, on the other hand, is the exact opposite.
The Last DJ was done very literally on Cupid 2009.
NCIS: Jenny Shepherd on why Gibbs isn't Director: "Jethro's a great field agent. He's a great team leader. And he deals more efficiently with difficult politicians than I do." "Then why isn't he the..." "He shoots them."
And, indeed, when we see him as Acting Director in one episode where Jenny's out, Gibbs is incredibly maverick and winds up getting involved in field work, despite being the director and having people who could do that for him.
The premise of The Good Guys is based on this. Dan and Jack both pissed of their superiors but cannot be fired so they are relegated to investigating property crimes (petty thefts and vandalism). Dan disdains police procedures and disrespects his superiors but is a hero cop with his own TV movie. Jack in turn is a by-the-book cop who is so straitlaced that he once corrected the police chief's grammar at a public event. To be fair these heroes have a big tendency to blow things up and cause tons of property damage and Dan can be a serious menace to society.
Babylon 5 has several cases that are at least alluded to. Dr. Stephen Franklin is the most orthodox one: when the war with the Minbari was going very, very badly for Earth, he and other xenobiologists were called on to create biological weapons to combat the Minbari. He refused, and destroyed his notes so no one else could use them, and promptly spent most of the war in a jail cell as a result. In the pilot, the station's initial Number Two describes being stuck in a position where the only way to get promoted was to pay for it, which she refused to do. Had the actress stuck around past the pilot, she would have been uncovered as The Mole, making her claims seem a tad less righteous.
In New Tricks, this is where Gerry Standing got his nickname (Last Man Standing) from. A mob boss gave it to him in a mocking manner, since he was the only officer who refused to take bribes (and thus the one who took the blame for everything).
The Trope Namer is the song "The Last DJ" by Tom Petty, quoted above. Over the course of the song the titular DJ gets pushed out of the industry for his refusal to play mediocre music, until he winds up playing a station in Mexico. The song is about Jim Ladd, widely regarded as a hero of Broadcasting In The United States and the last free-form rock announcer-programmer on mainstream radio.
The title track of Donald Fagan's first solo album, The Nightfly is sung in-character as this sort of DJ - "An independent station, WJAZ, with jazz and conversation, from the foot of Mt. Belzoni. Sweet music! Tonight the night is mine - late line 'til the sun comes through the skylight"
Trans Atlantic Equivalent: The British version of Jim Ladd is broadcasting veteran Johnny Walker. He was sacked by the BBC - for the first time - for calling the manufactured Boy Band of the day, the Bay City Rollers, utter crap, and refusing to play any of their records on his prime-time Radio One show. He then tried his luck in the USA, establishing himself on an old-time West Coast rock radio station. When it was taken over by a management more interested in commercial results than in music, who tried to move the station from an album-based rock broadcaster to a playlist-bound chart singles outfit, Walker led a presenters' revolt and was sacked, again over the issue of the DJ's right to choose the music he broadcast. This effectively lost him his Green Card and he returned to Britain, to be sacked a second time by the BBC for refusing to follow the playlist. Re-hired again by the BBC, he was sacked a third time for outside interests held to bring the BBC into disrepute. Some years later, the BBC re-employed him, but he was unhappy with being forced off his early-evening drive-time show so that it could be given to Chris Evans. He wrote about this in his autobiography, which displeased BBC management who wanted Evans at any price and were not happy at inside information about their management policies being made public. Walker currently presents a Sunday afternoon seventies' music retrospective for the BBC. He has still never played a Bay City Rollers track on this, or any other, show.
Although in 2014 he has mellowed slightly on this. Very slightly. Accepting the argument that he is now presenting a 1970's nostalgia show, and that like it or not the Bay City Rollers are part of a lot of people's 1970's memories, he has agreed to play one Rollers track. Per year.
"The American Dragon" Bryan Danielson has been very vocal and very adamant that he will never join the rosters of either WWE or TNA, due to the fact that he's completely uninterested in playing politics and absolutely refuses to change his wrestling style (which, incidentally, has Smarks referring to him as, quite possibly, the world's greatest wrestler and at least America's greatest). This basically left him as the king of the American independent wrestling scene — which isn't saying much these days. He's now signed with the WWE, apparently due to mounting medical bills. But then in June 2010, he was let go, purportedly because he was too violent.
And now he's back with WWE and seems to be on track toward becoming a main eventer of the company. Of course, that's probably because he's that damn good in the ring.
Booker and manager Jim Cornette has worked for most every major wrestling promotion under the sun and wishes most would fuck off. Cornette is a traditionalist booker, emphasizing in-ring skill and younger talent over backstage politicians and older primadonnas like Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash. As such, Cornette tends to shred just about any and everyone who uses politics and hype to further their career in the sport, leading him to leave company after company after company. He currently has found a home with Ring of Honor which is pretty much a entire company of Last DJ's.
But what would I have to do? Cover myself with the protection of some powerful patron? Imitate the ivy that licks the bark of a tall tree while entwining itself around its trunk, and make my way upward by guile, rather than climbing by my own strength? No, thank you. ... I may not rise very high, but I'll climb alone!
Captain Brenner/O'Brian from Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. Luckily, he was training a new DJ.
Final Fantasy X - Going by the flashback scene in a recording sphere, Auron could also fit into this before embarking on the pilgrimage with Braska. A promising Warrior Monk within the theocratic church and a true believer, Auron's career was blacklisted and at least one promotion that was meant for him went to others after he refused to marry the daughter of a high priest.
Captain Bartlett from Ace Combat 5 probably counts. "Why do they even bother reprimanding me anymore? I know I'm gonna be stuck at Captain forever." He's too much attitude to promote, but too much skill and reputation to just court martial.
Max Payne — Max is something of a Cowboy Cop, and often disregards proper procedure in favour of following leads and going after perps. By the third game, this (and his excessive drinking problem) have gotten him drummed out of the police force, albeit with a full pension.
Subverted and parodied in the Grand Theft Auto series — Lazlowthinks that he's this, but is really just an arrogant, egotisticaljerkass who doesn't realize that he's no longer relevant, with most people treating him as a joke.
Junichiro Tokuoka from the .hack franchise was an eccentric, almost-worshiped director for The World's Japanese localization. After The World hit the jackpot, he was discarded by CC Corp because of his behavior and how it conflicted with the executives.
In Tales of Destiny 2, we have a villainous example in Barbatos, a warrior in the ancient war. This guy loved being a soldier and loved fighting so much that he became an excessive Blood Knight that just massacred everything in his path. He became such a headache to deal with that his name was stricken from the history books as a final punishment after his death.
In Tales of Symphonia, Yuan qualifies. As the only member of a group of legendary heroes who fought for peace and became Fallen Heroes in the process, he opted to work against Cruxis because he felt they were drifting away from Martel's ideals. Unfortunately, his resentment at how things have become has turned him into a huge Jerkass and a nasty Control FreakChessmaster who's more on his side than that of the heroes.
In Tales of the Abyss, Big Brother Mentor Van is this. The entire world is hooked on a prophecy known as the Score, which predicts everything from when people will live and die to what they will eat for breakfast and he is part of a Church Militant organisation that protects and preserves it. When he learned that the Score's keepers foretold the destruction of his homeland and did nothing to stop it because that's how destiny was going to work out anyway, he didn't take it well. As such, even though nearly every member of the religion he serves wants to continue preserving the Score, he wants to actively subvert it, a desire that becomes his Start of Darkness.
In Tales of Vesperia, it's clear that The Hero Yuri Lowell saw himself as this - being someone who quit the Knights because he didn't feel that they were doing enough to protect the people. The prequel move, The First Strike however, reveals that he's actually an Unreliable Narrator. He was only with the Knights for a few months and, of the people he worked with, the majority of them were actually good folks trying to do right. His Rival Flynn later calls him out on this in the game itself, stating that despite all of Yuri's posturing about how bad the Knights supposedly are that his Vigilante Man actions haven't changed or improved things in the slightest.
In Last Scenario, Felgorn is a failed example. He tried to be a shining force for goodness and justice in The Empire despite all of the problems in the world but one too many people with Chronic Backstabbing Disorder using him for this, that, and the other scheme turned him into a tired Punch Clock Villain. Castor is another example, being a Last DJ who was so rebellious that they ended up betraying everyone and becoming the villain.
From the same developer, Daniel of Exit Fate is this to a fault. This works against him big time because even the slightest thing he does that's even a little out-of-line is used as "evidence" of his supposed treason in a Kangaroo Court midway through the game.
The main reason Optimus Prime in Transformers Animated is stuck leading a glorified repair crew is that he won't kiss ass and toe the line like Sentinel Prime does. Most obviously presented when Prime refuses to cave in and lie about the presence of Decepticons on Earth, even though Sentinel threatens to have him locked away for "Inciting panic".
Dave Chappelle left his hit television show because, among other reasons, he felt that the game was starting to corrupt and/or change him and that the business was trying to control him, an idea he showed in his "Almighty Showbiz" skit, which aired on the final season. Other artists, comedians, writers, etc, often act on the same ideas.
Some people saw journalist Gary Webb as this.
Professor David Nutt of the ACMD was forced to resign from his position by the British Home Secretary for his research into drugs and their effects on society, because it didn't cohere with their policy, despite being scientifically accurate.
BET's VJs Free and Aj are considered to be this by some. They eventually left.
Rory Bremner was overwhelmed with job offers in the late 80s after the success of Spitting Image, but chose to remain freelance so that he didn't have to compromise his material. This even extends into the 2000s, as he was originally one of the centerpieces of Mock the Week, but left shortly after series 2. He now produces his own occasional show (i.e. one or two a year) which gets graveyard slots on Channel 4, rather than primetime on ITV or BBC. He's still widely regarded as one of the best political impressionist-satirists in the UK, if not the world.
Russell Poole: Poole's involvement during the investigation into the LAPD Rampart Scandal and his resignation over the fact that his testimony identifying LAPD officers as the perpetrators in Biggie Smalls' murder was being suppressed, made him stand out as a rare voice of right and reason in the world of the at the time very corrupt Los Angeles Police Department.
NYPD officer Adrian Schoolcraft spent years defying the police department's secret quotas for the number of tickets to write and arrests to make, despite enduring numerous punishments in doing so. Finally, when Schoolcraft attempted to report this and his precinct's tendency of underreporting major crimes (so as to not make themselves look bad) he was fired, but Schoolcraft had the last laugh; he had spent his last two years in the department carrying a micro-recorder with him at all times, capturing all of the department's corruption.
Schoolcraft wasn't simply fired. He left work early one day because of illness (his work was very stressful, for some reason), which led to a squad of officers, including some of high rank, at his apartment late at night. Before they came in, he turned the recorder on. The scene that followed was chilling, as they piled on accusations and had him involuntarily committed. If not for the work of Schoolcraft's father, he might have remained locked up in a psych ward for more than just a week. "Chilling" barely begins to describe it.
What's worse: the NYPD is still persistently knocking on the door of his dad's house in upstate new york (far outside their jurisdiction) where Adrian is taking refuge until the corruption is remedied and the NYPD reformed (which thus far has been, indefinitely) and demanding that Adrian come out so they can take him back to that psychiatric hospital.
Prince got tired of being jerked around by his record label. Unfortunately, the label had an ironclad contract that said they owned (and thus could do what they wanted with) any album that was released with his name on it... so he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol the label had absolutely no claim to. When the original contract was voided, he went back to calling himself Prince. Making him The Artist Formerly Known As The Artist Formerly Known As Prince.
Ladar Levison, owner of Lavabit, a privately-encrypted email service, is an example. After Edward Snowden used Lavabit to send emails containing leaked information regarding the NSA's surveillance program, Levison was forced by federal agents to make a choice between turning over all of Lavabit's information, including user accounts and messages, or shut down the site and keep all information secret. Levison chose to shut down Lavabit.
It's sometimes commented that you never want a leader who wanted to be leader; you pick someone with leadership qualities. Why? To avoid getting someone who would be corrupted by and/or abuse the power.
The original Dictator was a Roman, hired by the State to solve impending problems of Republic Existence Failure, who was given absolute power for a year. At the end of that, though, he had to account for everything he'd done to the Senate. In the early Republic, the contest was to see who could solve the problem the swiftest and resign the position. The record was FIFTEEN DAYS.
This was a favoured and often-repeated maxim of SF author Frank Herbert: "Power attracts the corruptible."
Neil Young is notorious for this. He does what he wants, when he wants, for as long as he wants to do it. He once put out a couple of albums of techno-electronica and was sued by his record company for making music that didn't sound like Neil Young. This spurred him to record albums full of country, rockabilly, blues, anything but his typical sound. This continued until the label let him out of his contract.
Calvin and Hobbes author Bill Watterson, whose notorious fights with Universal Press Syndicate over licensing (specifically, his blanket refusal to license anything), and his insistence that the Sunday comic format be more flexible, are nearly as well-known as the strip itself.
Jeff Gerstmann gave a very critical review of Kane and Lynch on Gamespot and was fired shortly after; it was presumed by many that the heavy amount of Kane and Lynch ads on the Gamespot website had something to do with this (the fact that after the incident several other Gamespot editors started leaving in droves lent quite a bit of credibility to this theory). Gerstmann went on to start Giant Bomb alongside several former Gamespot members.
Richard Stallman, the founder of the free software movement (not "Open Source"), is still a tireless advocate for free (as in free speech) software and open standards and has been since The Eighties.
For many years, his user account at MIT (rms) famously had either no password or the password "rms".
Sergio "Mr. Karate" Herrera, the main editor from the former Spaniard videogame magazines Loading and Gametype suffered this, since both magazines were maybe the few Western videogame magazines (with the partial exception of GameFan in the U.S.) that dealt exclusively with Japanese games (especially the ones only released in Japan) and he not only outright refused to speak about any kind of Western games (American, European, etc) to the extreme of being outright self-xenophobic. He also refused to use numeric scales for rating games, causing some friction with his parent company's sponsors, and after suffering lots of Executive Meddling (including the parent company being restructured and later being bankrupted) both magazines ceased publication and he never worked for the editorial industry ever again.
It didn't help he was a hardcore otaku to the point that the Completely Different Title trope was his Berserk Button, and sometimes he refused to use the Western names of the games (like Resident Evil and WarioWare, as examples), using their original Japanese names (Biohazard and Made In Wario, respectively), and when he tried to explain his reasons for using the Japanese names over the Western ones, his explanation was Those titles were given by those retarded American dumbassesnote In Spanish, the original phrase was Esos tocanarices Americanos. (rough translation).
Even he was not immune to making some mistakes about some games because of this: When reviewing the PSX game Forget Me Not Palette (The Updated Re-release of the RPG Maker game Palette) he decribed the game as being based on a novel written by Yoshitaka Nishida, while complaining why the novel was never released in Spanish or English. While Nishida did write the story, he was not a writer, but the author of both the story and also the game, just like ZUN.
Cenk Uygur left MSNBC for Current after being asked to tone down his rhetoric. Lots of left-wing and libertarian journalists working for independent publications in general definitely qualify. These include Chris Hedges and Glenn Greenwald.
This is how a lot of religious fundamentalists see themselves as their contemporaries soften their beliefs in order to appeal to the modern world.
During the Bush administration, when President George W. Bush was making the case to invade Iraq, Cynthia McKinney, who was a member of the Democratic Party and the House of Representatives, was one of the very few high profile politicians who spoke against the administration and further accused the President of having advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks. She suffered a huge backlash in the media as a result, losing her seat in the house during her reelection. She joined the independent Green Party afterwards and became very popular, even being nominated by the party to run for President in 2008.