White Knighting is a common accusation on forums, especially those frequented by a multitude of trolls
. In the broadest of terms, it is any attempt to protect or defend a third party on the internet from another's attacks
, like a Knight in Shining Armor
on his White Stallion
rushing up to protect the innocent.
The accusation is made for a number of different reasons. A common one is where the "innocent" is a Damsel in Distress
, and the knight is defending a female forum-goer. The accusation being that they are only doing so because they have a crush on the lady, and are acting whether she needs a defender or not. Though the accuser is most commonly a Troll
, and a misogynist troll
, like all the most effective insults, it is based on a kernel of truth. Forumites do tend to feel a need to "protect" the ladies
Another cause of the accusation is when someone states an opinion that differs from the opinion of the local majority
. When this happen, knights immediately leap out to slay that heretic by fire
. The "innocent" being protected in this case is generally a work of some sort. Games, comic book heroes, and web-personalities get this. A lot.
Accusing someone of being a White Knight is generally a form of Ad Hominem
attack; the accuser cannot attack the argument, so they attack the arguer. You'll notice in most cases that it doesn't actually matter if the accusation of White Knighting is accurate or not. The motivation for a defense doesn't reduce the content of the defense.
Contrast The Shepherd
, who protects newbies from making mistakes that would get them mistaken for trolls and banned
, and is generally held in high regard by the other forumites. Compare Condescending Compassion
, White Man's Burden
, and You Are a Credit to Your Race
for a few forms of behavior often demonstrated by the more privileged White Knight. See Opinion Override
(when the person the White Knight is Knighting for actually enjoys whatever sparked the Knighting) and Wounded Gazelle Gambit
(for when somebody tries to actively exploit the White Knight by playing the role of a victim). See also: The Dulcinea Effect
, and GIFT
Examples of this trope, include:
- Invoked by Master Chief Urgayle in G. I. Jane. His claim is this Trope will diminish a male soldier's effectiveness in battle, because he will put aside his own safety and the success of the mission more readily to save a female teammate than he would for a male teammate. During a training exercise where an enemy interrogation is simulated, he brutalizes O'Neil in front of her male teammates, even going so far as to threaten a sexual assault, in an attempt to prove to them that they will instantly cave in to the enemy if it means saving her. For a few moments it almost looks like he's going to prove his point, but then the rest of the recruits simply refuse to play along in disgust.
- Katawa Shoujo:
- Hisao is (not quite) guilty of this, particularly in Hanako's route. He's not trying to curry favor, hence the "not quite" part. Hanako is the sort of person everyone wants to protect and hug. This is promptly deconstructed as the arc goes on — in the bad ending to her arc, Hanako snaps at Hisao, declaring that she hates both him and Lilly for "babying" her and thinking that she needs protecting. In the true ending, Hanako lets Hisao have sex with her in order to change his mind about the way he views her. They both realize the mistakes they've been making and the two of them break down in front of each other in the park.
- In Emi's route, she accuses Hisao of doing this, even likening him to a knight on horseback. Hisao's solution in either of the paths to the good ending is to insist that he knows Emi is strong and he is helping her because he loves her.
- Lilly appears to do this with Hanako and (in her route) Hisao, hence Hanako's statement about her in her bad ending. However, she indicates that she is aware of this tendency and tries her best to fix it, and late in her route, tells Hanako that she did not befriend her out of pity, but because she wanted to know more about her, and that she considers her a strong person.
- The term appears in don't take it personally babe, it just ain't your story; Taylor makes a post about Kendall breaking up with her girlfriend Charlotte, prompting Akira to accuse Taylor of being a "bitch", which results in Kendall telling him not to be a "white knight" on her behalf.
- The story of RE: Alistair is kicked off when the eponymous Alistair killsteals a difficult boss out from under Merui in her favorite MMO, then trolls her about it. Depending on the route the player pursues, Alistair may begin complaining that another player, "Oda," has begun white-knighting him over it; it's not likely to come as much of a surprise when Oda turns out to be Travis, during whose route this occurs. Oda's player isn't directly trying to curry favor with Merui (in fact he's a global mod for the MMO, which justifies his involvement to some extent), but it's clear that he's primarily motivated by his romantic feelings for her - in case there was any doubt, the end of the route confirms that Oda's character class is "Guardian."
- In Homestuck, after Karkat develops a crush on Jade, he flames his own past self for being rude to her. Jade then accuses him, in so many words, of acting like a knight trying to save her. Adding to this is that Karkat actually IS a Knight.
- In PvP one of the internet-themed supers associating with LOLbat is "The White Knight", a geek with glasses who goes out of his way to defend women.
- Entire wikis have been dedicated to how Christian Chandler, creator of Sonichu, attempts to do this in his ever-occurring "Love Quest", and, for that matter, those who try and fail to stop the trolling.
- Captain Hammer from Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Objectively, most of the things he does are morally positive: he fights crime, helps the LAPD stop Dr. Horrible from ruining a bridge dedication, and gets Penny her homeless shelter. However, since he only does it for a combination of personal reputation building and to get in Penny's pants (partly because he likes her, and partly to mess with Doctor Horrible), he is White Knighting incarnate. It's not even that he likes her, but rather, he likes the sex.
- The Nostalgia Chick suffers from white knights in her video comment threads and the forums who fail to grasp that her mistreatment of her sidekick and butt monkey Nella is all an act that Nella is completely on board with, and sometimes even writes the script for. Then there are the people on the other side who forget Black Comedy is Lindsay's Author Appeal and try to protect her from the mean guys who are obviously writing everything themselves. While not quite as prevalent (for obvious reasons), fangirls of Doug have a tendency to act like he's just as woobie as The Nostalgia Critic and needs a Mama Bear to save him from the trolls.
- Ian from Statless And Tactless gets called this for trying to jump in to defend a female group member.
- The Knights Of Fandom have been called this by detractors, although their intentions are genuine.
- The final season of The Guild features a character calling himself "Black Knight," who is the polar opposite of a White Knight: a self-important, abusive - albeit equal-opportunity - Gamer Troll. The character is a sort of Take That against the kind of people who make White Knighting accusations (which Felicia Day herself apparently had first-hand experience with).
- King of the Hill: Protagonist Hank Hill treating his boss Buck Strickland with the utmost respect despite the fact that the man is a hard-drinking, womanizing slimeball. In one episode Hank's wife Peggy outright calls him Buck's white knight.
- Justice League Unlimited. In the episode that introduces Carter Hall, the first clue that he's obsessed with Shayera "Hawkgirl" Hol is when Batman searches for him online, and finds that Carter has caused numerous Flame Wars by registering on "I Hate Hawkgirl" web forums just to defend her. (While Hawkgirl knew that she had abysmal PR, she was completely unaware at the time that there were web forums devoted to bashing her.)