Well, what is a vigilante man?
Tell me, what is a vigilante man?
Has he got a gun and a club in his hand?
Is that is a vigilante man?
— Woody Guthrie, "Vigilante Man"
A vigilante is just a man lost in the scramble for his own gratification. He can be destroyed, or locked up. But if you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, and if they can't stop you, you become something else entirely... A legend, Mr. Wayne.
— Henri Ducard, Batman Begins
I'm a crazed vigilante hell-bent on eliminating all small claims crime, no matter how small. Er, replace crazed vigilante with "concerned citizen". I always mix that part up.
— The Civil Defender, Nuklear Age
Paul Kersey: Nothing to do but cut and run, huh? What else? What about the old American social custom of self-defense? If the police don't defend us, maybe we ought to do it ourselves.
Jack Toby: We're not pioneers anymore, Dad.
Paul Kersey: What are we, Jack?
Jack Toby: What do you mean?
Paul Kersey: I mean, if we're not pioneers, what have we become? What do you call people who, when they're faced with a condition of fear, do nothing about it, they just run and hide?
Jack Toby: Civilized?
Paul Kersey: No.
My dear Wife,
Mr. Davies will tell you what's happening here tonight. He's a good man and has done everything he can for me. I suppose there are some other good men here, too, only they don't seem to realize what they're doing. They're the ones I feel sorry for. 'Cause it'll be over for me in a little while, but they'll have to go on remembering for the rest of their lives. A man just naturally can't take the law into his own hands and hang people without hurtin' everybody in the world, 'cause then he's just not breaking one law but all laws. Law is a lot more than words you put in a book, or judges or lawyers or sheriffs you hire to carry it out. It's everything people ever have found out about justice and what's right and wrong. It's the very conscience of humanity. There can't be any such thing as civilization unless people have a conscience, because if people touch God anywhere, where is it except through their conscience? And what is anybody's conscience except a little piece of the conscience of all men that ever lived? I guess that's all I've got to say except kiss the babies for me and God bless you.
Your husband, Donald.
— Gil Carter, reading the letter of Donald Martin, The Ox Bow Incident
"Thereís a real fascist strain in the American psyche, which was energized recently by Ollie [North]ís boyish, fascist charm. He appeals to the vigilante, the lonely Gary Cooper type out there trying to defend the honor of womanhood and property against hoodlums. It has always been part of the American myth, yet itís a fascist notion, because it goes against the whole idea of law and order and due process."
— Gore Vidal (1986)
"I'm not their judge. I'm their judgement, their executioner."
—Mack Bolan, the Executioner.