"Know how a man fights, and you will know the man."
— Motto of every Warrior Therapist ever
Darth Sion: You seek to erode my will, you will not succeed.
Caption:Implausible Fencing Powers
[You have eroded Sion's will]
meets Break Them by Talking
If the Warrior Poet
is a master of combat who apparently also took a few philosophy courses to round out his education, the Warrior Therapist
must have had a minor in psychology; how else can you explain his ability to perfectly guess his opponent's hidden desires, ambitions, marital status, and mother's maiden name just by watching them swing a sword at his head?
An evil (or Terror Hero
/antihero) Warrior Therapist
will use this knowledge to intimidate and unnerve his foes, gleefully deflating their egos and likely reminding the hero that they're really Not So Different
; sometimes to the point of breaking their wills entirely.
A good Warrior Therapist will deliver a lifechanging motivational speech and beat the everloving crap out of them while he's doing it. (See Defeat Means Friendship
See also Talking the Monster to Death
for another variation of this trope.
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Anime and Manga
- The JLA (1997-2006 version) had a couple of these:
- Martian Manhunter, because he's telepathic and empathic.
- Wonder Woman, who doesn't make a lot of sense until you stop to consider that her lasso forces people to tell the truth, even when they're lying to themselves.
- Doctor Fate is an interesting inversion, in that, while he's a psychiatrist (or was) in his civilian identity, he never plays therapist while in costume.
- Parodied in Deadpool #27, wherein Deadpool, on the recommendation of his psychiatrist, seeks out and picks a fight with Wolverine for just this effect.
- Dr. Leonard Samson, who treats Bruce Banner, X-Factor and the Thunderbolts, and is gamma-powered himself without turning into a mindless freak.
- Since Talking Is a Free Action in comic books his fights with the Hulk are multiple-page slugfests with psychological analysis often being spouted the whole time.
- At times, the Mad Thinker falls into this category, depending on who's writing him.
- Karla Sofen, aka Moonstone, is also a trained psychiatrist; she traded in her practice for the life of a supervillain (at least at first; things got more complicated later), but she's always on the lookout for psychological weaknesses to exploit in her enemies, and she's never quite so happy as when she's screwing with the minds of all around her.
- Batman gets tons of opportunities to practice this, since most of his enemies are actual mental patients. Harley Quinn and Scarecrow, both former psychiatrists themselves, are particularly likely to fall victim to Bat-psychoanalysis.
- Scarecrow can also use it back, though. (Harley ... can't.)
- Superman has spent a good number of his battles simultaneously talking and beating some sense into his opponents. It's turned more than a few villains to a less destructive path.
- Spider-Man has done this as a way to help villains such as The Lizard or Vermin. More often than not, he actually uses this in a way that is normally reserved for villains or anti-heroes: he humiliates them verbally, making them reckless. It has been revealed that a number of his foes have actually suffered some mental trauma because of this (then again, many of them were crazy already, so...)
- A Star Trek: The Next Generation fanfiction once gave a Klingon Counselor to a starbase captain. (This was a bit of a Take That to the character in question, who had once been highly against being commanded by Data for the reason that computers don't make good captains, just like Klingons wouldn't make good counselors.)
- In Lyrical Nanoha fanfiction Infinity, Nanoha manages to combine in with Combat Pragmatist and taken it Up to Eleven. She knows she had practically zero chance defeating Tsukuyomi in direct combat, so she's digging personal information from her sister, Amaterasu, to practically force her coinsience to acknowledge her.
- Timothy Zahn's Star Wars books, which jump started the fandom way before the second trilogy, had the inverted Science Fiction version of this. Grand Admiral Thrawn knew how an entire species would fight by simply examining their artwork.
- Zahn's fond of this character, as Talon Karrde is a more limited variant of the Warrior Therapist, capable of using his vast information-gathering empire and turbolasers where turbolasers alone wouldn't work.
- That's because "You can get further with a kind word and a gun."
- The Silence of the Lambs series features numerous characters trying to pull this on each other, mostly professional therapists and FBI criminal profilers, and they all usually end up being spectacularly outdone by Dr. Hannibal Lecter, arguably the most definitive and iconic Warrior Therapist in existence.
- Both Cordelia Vorkosigan and her son Miles make a habit out of this in the Vorkosigan novels.
- Perhaps the crowning example of this is in Shards of Honor, the first novel Cordelia makes an appearance in. While a POW, the sadistic enemy CO ties her to the bed and then turns loose his deranged orderly on her - and from this helpless position she still manages to successfully diagnose and empathize with her own attempted rapist. To the point where he decides not to go through with it after all - and then turn right around and kill his commanding officer, so he can finally be free.
- Cordelia is actually so good at this that she is eventually able to drop the Warrior part entirely and rely entirely on her ability to emotionally dissect someone. Of course, the planetful of security guards might help.
- She also passes this skill along to the Emperor Gregor, to the point that he uses it on her in Mirror Dance.
- This is one of the many abilities of Anasurimbor Kellhus from Second Apocalypse. He can completely analyse and deconstruct someone's personality by observing their movements and facial expressions. He can then use his own voice and movements to send subliminal cues and manipulate people into doing nearly anything.
- In R.A. Salvatore's The Legend of Drizzt series, Drizzt Do'Urden is this to Artemis Entreri and vice versa, except one is a Good Warrior Therapist while the other is an Evil one, obviously.
- Ender Wiggin.
- He specializes in knowing his enemies. Knowing them completely, at least as well as they know themselves. In the moment that he achieves this level of understanding, he naturally loves them. And then he destroys them. It's not good for him, emotionally. So he loses the 'warrior' part once they discharge him as tykebomb grand admiral.
- Rider in Fate/Zero. Within one drinking contest/conversation on the right way to be king, he manages what took Shirou and Archer two weeks. Irisviel hits the reset button by telling her that even if she sucked as a king, at least she is essentially the embodiment of (self sacrificing) ideals. Since this is a prequel, it's not like she's going to magically get better now right?
- Speaking of Shirou and Archer, their match in the Unlimited Blade Works route has them both fall into this route. However, the sheer mechanics of fighting your cynical future self over ideals is... complicated. Would that be considered extreme introspection? Suffice to say there are pages upon pages of philosophical debate, and in the Nasu Verse, your conviction equates directly to how much ass you kick.
- Used by Tavi in Codex Alera. In particular in Captain's Fury he manages to defeat a vastly superior (but mentally unbalanced) opponent in a swordfight by attacking her psychological weak points during a Blade Lock, allowing him to defeat her because Sanity Has Advantages.
- This is one of the darker expressions of this trope. He uses what is in essence a Hannibal Lecture to ruthlessly assault her fragile mindset and then exploits ensuing reaction by impaling her.
- It's especially dark because the weakness he exploits in her is something he shares. Tavi is almost Mary Sue-like in his compassion for the fallen and eagerness to make allies, so to see him dredging up someone else's worst memories to get the advantage of them in a fight, especially considering that he can only do so because he has the same problem, was jarring.
- Also used by Isana in Princeps' Fury. She challenges Antillus Raucus to the juris macto and proceeds to wear down his mental walls and reasoning in order to get him to agree to a truce against the foes he's been fighting and commit his Legions to a greater enemy. She's very nearly killed before finally succeeding.
Live Action TV
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Conversations With Dead People", Buffy tangles with a rather literal version of the trope - a vampire who had been a Psychology major prior to being sired. He was at least as, if not more, interested in analyzing Buffy as in fighting her.
- Also in Buffy, the vampire Spike shows an extraordinary talent for analyzing the motivations people don't want to admit to. "Lovers Walk" - Buffy: I can't lie to myself, or Spike for some reason. In "A Fool for Love," he implies that this talent was at least partly responsible for his having defeated two Slayers in the past; according to Spike, every Slayer has a death wish.
- Exactly. Spike knows exactly how to demoralize an enemy. He even uses this to his advantage when he has the chip that keeps him from hurting humans - he still knows the exact hot buttons that will make the Scoobies implode over the course of a day. Longer-term planning is still a bit beyond him, though.
- Locke on LOST has shown warrior therapist tendencies, although he's more likely to restrain or intimidate someone than actually fight them.
- Lie to Me is in general an action psychology show. Its main character, Cal Lightman, is a tooth and nails sort of psychoanalyst/interrogator, combining interrogation technique with the science of facial expressions he developed (in real life this science was developed by Paul Eckman). Lightman occasionally goes up against the odd Hannibal Lecter character, and ends up winning the inevitable game of Xanatos Speed Chess that results.
- And has his own Warrior Therapist in Gillian Foster, who was his shrink at the DOD before they went into business together.
- This is the core of Criminal Minds, being that the main characters are an elite squad of criminal profilers, which in context means "forensic psychologists with guns." They're bought in by local law enforcement to psychoanalyze the villain of the week and predict his or her next move.
- Law & Order: Criminal Intent: Once an episode, if not more often. Det. Goren specialises in this trope and will talk master criminals from silence into confession by hitting the right combination of buttons. Of course, the show's name is criminal intent, and the focus was always more on the why than the who and how.
- Sean Burns in Highlander. He was an immortal psychiatrist who helped other immortals-lucky thing, since the immortal mind would be way beyond most mortal therapists. Unfortunately, Duncan took his head during his Dark Quickening induced Face-Heel Turn.
- In Planescape: Torment, Dak'kon, in addition to being a formidable swordsman, is a mystic and teacher. If the player character's stats are high enough, you can end up analyzing and teaching him.
- You can also discover that one of your previous incarnations is the one who taught him most of what he knows to begin with.
- Mass Effect's Commander Shepard, when played as a Paragon, can end up spending about as much time counseling people as he or she does fighting. Renegade Shepard, meanwhile, is far more likely to just shoot people, but can sometimes act as a much more cynical variety of Warrior Therapist. Either way, bullets appear to be quite integral to their therapeutic method.
- This is an informed ability of the Handmaiden and Echani culture in general in Knights of the Old Republic 2.
- Fallout 2: If you're persuasive enough you can convince the lead scientist in The Very Definitely Final Dungeon to see the error in his ways, and in a Redemption Equals Death moment, he releases the Depopulation Bomb plague they were planning to release into the world inside their own airtight base instead.
- Gouken comes off this way in his victory quotes in Street Fighter IV
- Same goes to Rose, Guy and, surprisingly, Sagat.
- Zangief parodies this when he meets Abel as he believes that Battle is Therapy and is the perfect remedy for the man's amnesiac melancholy. Poor Abel is totally dumbfounded.
- Ryu: No need to speak. Your fists told me everything I need to know about you.
- Kain R. Heinlein of Fatal Fury fame enjoys picking at his opponents with his victory quotes.
- Several Final Fantasy villains are good at this. Kefka gives a nihilistic speech before you face him, talking to Seymour about his "spiral of death" plan is a core feature of the battles with him, and Sephiroth gave Cloud a mental breakdown. Mind you, he only ever talks while fighting in newer titles.
- And Golbez from Dissidia: Final Fantasy acts as the therapist for the heroes. Meaning he is simulateously backstabbing EVERY other villain in the franchise and the god of discord. All to make sure his younger brother Cecil survives. Best. Brother. Ever.
- Due to the incredible importance of the target's emotional state to their plans, in Kingdom Hearts "Ansem," as well as most of Organization XIII have this as their M.O.
- You can choose to be a Jerkass to your companions in Dragon Age: Origins, but helping them through their various issues rewards you with stat bonuses for them, the occasional unique (and sometimes useful) item, and in Zevran's case, taking the effort to be friendly and supportive of him will avert his Face-Heel Turn later in the game. The "Warrior" part comes into play since a few of your companions' Personal Quests, specifically Morrigan, Shale, and potentially Leiliana, involve combat. In Morrigan's case, you have to fight a freaking DRAGON. The "Therapist" part usually comes in the conversations you hold with your companions right after the quests are completed. You can actually make Alistair and Leiliana more cynical people right after their quests, depending on what you say to them.
- Hakumen, of all people, takes up this role, at least in regards to his younger, time-displaced self, AKA Jin in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift.
- The Player Characters of both Persona 3 and Persona 4 derive power from friendships they make in their everyday lives, called Social Links. The setting of either game happens to be a big Dysfunction Junction, so unlocking your truest combat potential demands that you be one of these.
- A uniquely literal example comes in Skyrim during a quest for the Daedric Prince of Madness, Sheogorath. The player character is sent inside the mind of the long-dead Emperor Pelagius the Mad, where you must do battle with his self-doubt and paranoia to render him sane.
- Tharja from Fire Emblem Awakening is a strange example. She's Yandere, a Stalker with a Crush, most of the others in the army consider her Creepy Good at best, and yet, in her supports, she is willing to listen to other people's problems and traumatic pasts without judging them for it. While much of this ear-lending is done out of self-interest, mostly to advance her curses and hexes, there's no denying the positive effect it has on troubled characters such as Lon'qu and Libra.
- Taken to its logical extreme here. (WARNING: contains some gore)
- Flipside's Maytag demonstrates early on in the comic that she can do this to people.
- Considering its massive cast and the way most of them interact with eachother, Homestuck has a few of them:
- Almost half the cast is playing at therapist in Homestuck but by far Karkat, and to a lesser extent John, is the best.
- Rose claims that psychology is one of her hobbies and makes attempts at psychoanalyzing her friends early on, but as it turns out she's either not very good at it or has since lost interest.
- As the Sylph of Light, this is pretty much Aranea's main ability; she can heal others by helping them see how to heal themselves.
- In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Nappa claims that he majored in Child Psychology (WITH A MINOR IN PAIN!) and goes on about how the values of healthy communication... right before pounding the crap out of the guy he was talking about because they had interrupted him while he was talking to Vegeta.
- On a less literal note, Vegeta becomes something like this, though only to himself. During his finale of Episode 10 he remarks about the possible reason behind his Tranquil Fury, and later on, after revealing the depths of his humiliation to Cui and then blowing him up to ensure that he would never tell anyone of it, Vegeta says that he loves therapy, and later on deliberately represses the memory of Dodoria's revelations. Considering that his anger seemed to have broke in Episode 18, his self-therapy doesn't really seem to be working very well.