Well-Intentioned Extremist

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions."
Bernard of Clairvaux

A villain who has an overall goal which the heroes can appreciate in principle, but whose methods of pursuing said goal (such as mass murder) are problematic; despite any sympathy they may have with his cause, the heroes have no choice but to stop him. Taken to extremes, he may fully believe that Utopia Justifies the Means. Such an idealistic extremist is likely to be either a Totalitarian Utilitarian or a Principles Zealot, depending on whether he's aiming For Happiness or For Great Justice. The most well-written examples of this trope are the kind that the reader/viewer stops just short of agreeing with.

Other times, the villain may be out for simple revenge against a person or corporation or other entity that has undeniably wronged him. Again, the heroes may sympathize with his plight, but are obliged to stop him because he cares not who gets in the way of his planned revenge. However, the heroes will often investigate the villain's grievance themselves and will complement stopping the villain with taking down the offending party as well.

Maybe they started out with actions as good as their intentions, but were forced to take more extreme measures. Either way, it's a common end result of Jumping Off the Slippery Slope. Their favorite phrase is I Did What I Had to Do — unless they are also the Tautological Templar and believe that what they do is good because a good person like them does only good things. They are not afraid to sacrifice themselves for the cause.

One the extreme end, may result in a Knight Templar who chooses to remove free will, believing it the best way to save the world. They could also be a fallen Wide-Eyed Idealist that was driven over the edge, and sometimes a Worthy Opponent or even Reluctant Warrior. Vigilante Man is a case where the Well-Intentioned Extremist hasn't (yet) descended to the point of not caring who gets hurt. Often ends up in rivalries with the Knight in Sour Armor. Maybe they're Obliviously Evil and don't realise they're the bad guy, in which case they're prone to My God, What Have I Done? and becoming wracked with guilt and horror if they're ever enlightened. Some of those seeking to bring about a One World Order to end international strife may count as this.

This can be a difficult line to walk: push too hard in one direction and you make it seem as if the extreme methods are acceptable; push too hard in the other and you run the risk of denying the validity of their initial cause, of arguing for oppression (for instance) instead of against it.

Compare with Necessarily Evil, where the villain in question has a Heel Realization and recognizes that he deserves punishment (of course, he may always choose to just Ignore That Epiphany). See also A Lighter Shade of Grey. A staple trope of the Master Computer gone mad. If the positive intention is overthrowing an evil government, the Well Intentioned Extremists will be an example of The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized. If his extremism actually succeeds in making the world a better place, it's The Extremist Was Right. This trope is what the Small Steps Hero desperately doesn't want to become.

As this trope often goes hand-in-hand with the Face-Heel Turn, expect spoilers.


Examples:

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Simon Dean is tired of traveling this country and seeing so many fat monstrosities. So he is going to help solve the problem by selling his patented Simon System at a discount. Because even though he does not like you, Simon Dean believes in you!
  • Stevie Richards in TNA, trying to save the world from Abyss, and Abyss from himself, turned out to be worse than Abyss by the end of their feud.
  • Jessicka Havok has always been a menace to WSU, but was cast in a new "heroic" light after DJ Hyde took over the company and proclaimed not only her but many others who were long time fan favorites Persona Non Gratanote . Since Havok did not care about WSU rulings to begin with, she continued to show up anyway and do what she does, to cheers. Jessicka's also fond of the Shine promotion, admitting that she had consciously not stooped to her usual lows while working there, not complaining when punished by officials for her post match rituals and attacking those who she feels are bad for the promotion or disrespectful to it, though she ignored the Legion of Doom who were guilty of every "crime" she charged all her other targets with because Allysin Kay, Havok's best friend from WSU, was a part of it.

Alternative Title(s):

The End Justifies The Means, Well Intentioned Extremism