I work for Vizzini to pay the bills. There's not a lot of money in revenge.
—Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride
Beat: "Quit screwin' with us!"
Kariya: "Um, villain? Screwin' with you is my job."
At the same time as... hmph... at the same time as trying to lead a good life, I have to reconcile myself with the fact that, yes, I have killed people. Not many people. Most of them were not very nice people.
—Ken, In Bruges
Spider-Man: You again?!
Silver Sable: Down, boy, my contract with Trask expired 10 minutes ago.
As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me. They do not feel any enmity against me as an individual, nor I against them. They are only doing their duty, as the saying goes. Most of them, I have no doubt, are kind-hearted law-abiding men who would never dream of committing murder in private life.
—George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn
"How people themselves perceive what they are doing is not a question that interests me. I mean, there are very few people who are going to look into the mirror and say, 'That person I see is a savage monster'; instead, they make up some construction that justifies what they do. If you ask the CEO of some major corporation what he does he will say, in all honesty, that he is slaving 20 hours a day to provide his customers with the best goods or services he can and creating the best possible working conditions for his employees."
— Noam Chomsky
Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.
—Stanley Milgram, of the infamous Milgram Experiment, The Perils of Obedience
And then I realized they were stronger than we. Because they could stand that these were not monsters. These were men... trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love... but they had the strength... the strength... to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral... and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling...
—Col. Walter Edmund Kurtz, Apocalypse Now
I was never an anti-Semite. ... I personally had nothing to do with this. My job was to observe and report on it.
—Adolf Eichmann, "The Architect of the Holocaust".
When in the summer of 1941 he [Hitler] gave me the order to prepare installations at Auschwitz where mass exterminations could take place, and personally to carry out these exterminations, I did not have the slightest idea of their scale or consequences. It was certainly an extraordinary and monstrous order. Nevertheless the reasons behind the extermination programme seemed to me right. I did not reflect on it at the time: I had been given an order, and I had to carry it out. Whether this mass extermination of the Jews was necessary or not was something on which I could not allow myself to form an opinion, for I lacked the necessary breadth of view.
—Rudolf Höss, Commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp
Patrice: We- we can resolve this! I know how you feel... we should talk, okay? We- we can work this out! [gunshot] Ow! You have no idea... [gunshot] Aah!
Bryan: Where is she?!
Patrice: Please, understand... please try- [gunshot] Aah! ...there's a boat by the cay... please understand, it was all business. It wasn't personal!
Bryan: It was all personal to me. [five gunshots]
Lots of people in history have only done their jobs, and look at the trouble they caused.
—Aziraphale, Good Omens
Once ze rockets are up, who cares vere zey come down?
Zat's not my department, says Wernher von Braun
— Tom Lehrer, Wernher von Braun
''I would rather you not see it as personal. I am a professional.
—Abner Vanslyk, Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name
I am not the enemy. To be the enemy, I must have some personal stake in what happens to you. I'm not interested in that at all. I'm here to do a job, nothing more. You are a name, a file, and a case number. That is all. I have no desire to inflict pain but I will do so, when and as it is required.
—Interrogator, Babylon 5
Stormtroopers in particular, I think, have been an underexplored area, and I've always taken the view that many of them are honorable professionals who end up being evil in the movies mainly because their leadership is corrupt, from Palpatine on down.
Down there are people who will follow any dragon, worship any god, ignore any iniquity. All out of a kind of humdrum, everyday badness. Not the really high, creative loathesomeness of the great sinners, but a sort of mass-produced darkness of the soul. Sin, you might say, without a trace of originality. They accept evil not because they say yes, but because they don't say no.
—The Patrician, Guards! Guards!
Crazy madmen on a leash
Or young men who lost their way?
Grand illusions of the Reich
May seem real at times
Panzers on a line form the Wehrmacht's spine
Lethal grand design
What about the men executing orders?!
We are creatures of duty, Captain [Kirk]. I have lived my life by it. Just one more duty to perform.
— Romulan Commander, Star Trek: The Original Series, "Balance of Terror"
Mirror Master: Gentlemen, we live in brutal times. Last week, to make ends meet, I was reduced to hijacking a tractor trailer full of sports cars.
Captain Cold: That is so beneath you. At least knock over a bank!
Trickster: Gotta visualise!
Captain Cold: "Visualise"? What the heck does that mean? If I don't "visualise" a mortgage payment soon, the wife will have me bagging groceries for a living!
I'm a soldier, not a monster. Even though sometimes I work for monsters.
— Simon Gruber, Die Hard With A Vengeance
"Men like [Steelshanks Walton] would kill at their lord's command, rape when their blood was up after battle, and plunder wherever they could, but once the war was done they would go back to their homes, trade their spears for hoes, wed their neighbors' daughters, and raise a pack of squalling children. Such men obeyed without question, but the deep malignant cruelty of the Brave Companions was not a part of their nature."
— A passage from A Storm of Swords
''They say he didn't take no crap from the State Line Gang
What the hell they talking bout?
I'm just a hard working man with a family to feed''
— Drive-By Truckers, "The Buford Stick"
I relate to you, Ralph. When I hit bottom, I was crushing man’s skull like sparrow’s egg between my thighs. And I ask myself, "Why must you be such bad guy, Zangief? Why can't you be more like good guy?" Then I have moment of clarity: If Zangief is good guy, who will crush man’s skull like sparrow’s egg between thighs? And I say, "Zangief, you are bad guy. But this does not mean you are bad guy."
Look, I was told to walk in a certain pattern, over and over, until something interesting happens! (Beat) WELL I DON'T SEE YOU GETTING A JOB!
I'm not a crazed gunman, Dad, I'm an assassin...Well the difference being, one is a job and the other's a mental sickness!