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I Did What I Had To Do / Fan Works

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  • Hermione cut off Snape's hand in The Parselmouth of Gryffindor. She had a good reason, and it was ultimately to protect him, but not everyone sees it that way.
  • Shows up in the kalash93 story, How It Was. In it, the protagonist uses it as his explanation for why he killed an enemy who had surrendered. The other characters do not buy it. This trope is a running theme in the story on multiple levels, as the story is an interestng look into PTSD.
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  • A Crown of Stars: Discussed. Daniel discusses Shinji's actions during the Bardiel battle with him and tells Shinji that even if it was a terrible thing to do, Gendo had no option but activating the dummy plug since Shinji would not fight -he would not even lift a finger to try to rescue the pilot- and they could not let Bardiel reach Lilith, not matter what. He also examines Shinji's actions during the coup against Winthrop (refusing fighting in the middle of Berlin out of fear to hurt civilians) and pointed out that: Shinji nearly got Asuka and himself killed; and if they had not risked accidentally killing people, plenty more people would have assuredly died if they did not stop Winthrop. Then he explains that sometimes it is regrettably necessary endangering innocent lives to save a greater number of people, and Shinji has to agree he was going to let a lot of people die so that his conscience remained clean.
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  • In Hellsister Trilogy, Supergirl and two fellow Legionnaires argue with Dev-Em after they blow up an undercover mission to save a little girl. Dev argues back he was forced in the past to sacrifice one person to save thousands. HE didn't like it, but he had to do it.
    Laurel Kent: Dev, just listen to me for a moment. Could you sacrifice the life of another, so easily, just to complete a mission... even one as big as this?
    Dev-Em: I have.
    (silence)
    Dev: It was an inforunning operation out of a Dark Circle world. My contact was a man in deep cover. Their cointelpro caught up to us just after an information drop. We had made arrangements on what to do if such a thing happened. I exposed him as a traitor. My cover held. He was taken away, tortured, and killed. I got the package through. Later, I saw to it that his torturers got theirs. No, I didn't do it personally... but I made sure it was done. That's how it is in my world. Not pretty, but we get the job done.
    Kara: ...
    Dev: No, don't think I enjoyed it. Rolg's face still comes to me in a particularly juicy nightmare every now and then. But he has to wait his time in line. And you know what he tells me? He tells me about the people of that world who were liberated, in time, with the information I got through. He tells me that I did the right thing.
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  • HERZ: Misato has done many questionable things to protect her children and to avoid the proliferation of the Evangelion technology. Her actions haunt her but she thinks she had no other choice to save her family and billions of lives.
    "I'm the fool. And I've become a monster." She looked down, unable to face him.
    "You made hard choices. And you had your responsibilities."
    "So much blood, Kaji. I have so much blood on my hands." Negev. Tricking the Israelis into stealing bogus S2 engine specifications. When they used it to activate their Eva, everything within 50km was obliterated. The Army of God. She had given no quarter and made sure their leader met his end at SEELE's hands. Blackmailing the Chinese and then summarily nuked all the other military sites that were building their own Evas. They had no warning. No chance. She looked up almost earnestly. Having confessed her sins, she sought absolution in the man she had been forced to betray.
    His smile was sad and warm. He touched the crook of her arm. She did not pull away. "But you knew had to," he said as his fingers traced their way down her forearm. "You had a reason."
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami features this a few times, when Ami has to make hard moral calls, usually involving a cost/benefit tradeoff of some kind. She is (technically) a designated villain, after all. Some of her minions are more willing to take the risk on her behalf, instead.
    • More recently, Morrigan's cheif warlock, Monteraine, defected to Ami's forces upon capture. This enrages Eline and Venna, who reveal that she was the one who implemented Venna's conditioning for Morrigan. Monteraine immeadiately offers to do the same again for Ami's minions, and it is only when it is clear that Ami is seriously considering not hiring her that Monteraine admits she had little choice in the matter.
  • In Equestria: A History Revealed, in the aftermath of the Equestrian Civil War, during the Fillydelphia Trials, one of the more prominent leaders of the New Lunar Order and famed former Equestrian general, Thunderhide, explains that he joined Nightmare Moon out of necessity to change what he saw was a corrupt system, and to ensure a better future for Equestria. Given that he was a famed general beforehand, the highly publicized trial made ponies start to see the depths one of their own would sink to in order to change things, and this was responsible for the revival of Pegasi nationalism and the end of Celestia's cult of personality.
  • In Fractured, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands crossover, Samantha Shepard experiences a Heroic BSoD that tilts her away from her usual paragon self. She rationalizes what she does with this trope, but in the sequel Origins, she has My God, What Have I Done? breakdown that makes her question why anyone else would keep her around. Others justify retaining Shepard (rather than imprisoning her for war crimes) based on this trope. Since the Flood invasion, this sort of justification comes up more and more often given perceptions of the stakes, though this is hardly the only reason characters give for invoking the trope.
    • Moxxi gets Jackie drunk during a "therapy" session to keep her talking.
    • Jackie deliberately allows an otherwise-innocent marine to be killed by defense systems in her family's Vaults, since him calling for help would lock everyone inside.
    • Aria torching civilian homes, though given her status this isn't exactly surprising.
    • Depending on one's point of view, the Republic Intelligence Service's attempts to deal with the Alien Invasion could qualify.
    • Admiral Nimitz clearly does not like working with the Maliwans and Torgue who gleefully bombarded civilian worlds to punish Jakobs, but justifies it using logic like this.
  • In Stairway To Equestria, Celestia banishes the main protagonist, Midnight Blink to be judged in the Griffin Lands after he attacked an ambassador of that land in self-defence. Celestia's main reasoning was that she wanted to preserve the already shaken diplomatic ties between the two kingdoms, as well as to keep her protegee safe from what she thought Blink would do at some point.
  • The North Korean Digidestined in most Digimon fanfics end up in situations like these, as do China's Digidestined. Their governments force them into doing various horrifying things and the kids rationalize it with 'I did what I had to do, because otherwise they'd kill my family'. Since they're kids, this comes across as more desperate and terrified than villainous. The fandom is fairly good about not making them evil because their countries are - at least, fandom's good about that now. There's some Dead Fic from five or more years ago where they're straight up For the Evulz lunatics.
  • This quote from the Villain Protagonist of the Mass Effect fanfic The Council Era says all that is needed to be said. "I will pay for taking the low ground after I die, but there always has to be someone who is willing to make such a sacrifice, for the sake of something far greater than themselves. It's part of the order of things." Keep in mind that his "taking the low ground" was committing genocide. It is likely that in the second part of the storyline, when he's expected to decline further into Chaotic Evil, that he'll still try to use the "I Did What I Had To Do" card, even if his motivation becomes Despotism Justifies the Means.
  • This the reasoning of the Big Bad in The Man with No Name, as well as Zeke, the leader of a town plagued by Reavers when he blackmails the heroes into helping him.
  • Of all people, Helen Belden in Trixie Belden fanfic Ambiguous. She's not sure of the relationship between her son Mart and his friend Dan, both teenagers, but she recognizes that Mart has romantic feelings for him. Unwilling to suffer the repercussions of losing her family's good reputation by having a bisexual son, she deliberately drives Dan away, which might have lead to him allowing himself to be captured by criminals.
  • Ace Combat: The Equestrian War has Black Star who, as told by Firefly via Flash Back, was ordered to prevent a possibly mutiny against the Griffin Kingdom. Believing that Firefly's parents would be behind it, he killed them. When the young filly asked him why he did, this is his reason.
    • The kicker? The rumor of their involvement and the whole mutiny thing were false.
  • In Poke Wars: The Subsistence Ash has Pikachu use Thunder on a sinking ferry overrun by Sharpedo and Tentecruel. He regrets that he had to kill everyone on the ship but the Pokémon swarming the ship were too dangerous to leave alive.
    • Hiiro in Fool's Paradise has his Ampharos unleash Thunder in a harbor filled with Tentacruel and their victims, killing everyone in the water so the boats in Olivine City can head out to sea. He calls his plan "a horrible, despicable, but ultimately necessary idea" and he explicitly states "You won't like it" to an Officer Jenny who asks him for a plan.
    • Alex says this word for word to Katrina back on the caravan's encampment after rescuing her from a Hostage Situation.
  • The Powers of Harmony: This is the justification used by Libra and his Echo Blair for breaking the taboo on the use of Lifeforce magic. It was the only way to stop Nightmare Moon's undying army in the War of the Sun and Moon.
  • A Mighty Demon Slayer Grooms Some Ponies: Megan resents a lot of the things she had to do as the protector and more-or-less-leader of Ponyland, including killing a whole lot of villains, as well as having to e.g. crush Heart Throb's dreams of having a monogamous romance straight out of a fairy tale. She had no choice, though.
  • A common refrain of the Office of Special Resources from The Universiad whenever someone baulks at their The Unfettered ways.
  • In Tizenot, Austria intentionally tried to act like an aloof Jerkass to Hungary following their divorce in an attempt to make it easier and quick for them. He would come to regret that.
  • In Tails of the Old Republic, a crossover/ Fusion Fic between Sonic the Hedgehog and the videogame Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Tails the fox has a very strong Thou Shalt Not Kill philosophy, but when he's unable to keep it, this trope is how he rationalizes killing to survive or to save his friends.
  • In The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum, the king of the dragons, Spykoran, in an effort to keep the Bag of Tirek from corrupting and controlling anyone else again, destroyed all of Dream Valley, killing any ponies that remained there along with the Six Princesses (as they'd all been corrupted), and buried it all under ash and lava. When the bag was found by an Equestrian archaeologist, he destroyed the ship as it was returning to Equestria. He does have massive guilt and regret for killing several people, but maintains he did what had to be done.
  • In Boys und Sensha-do!, Shiho says this in regards to her decision to disown her younger daughter Miho, saying that it's as much for Miho's own good as it is for the family's, in that it allows Miho to practice her own way of tankery. However, many other characters disagree, including her husband and older daughter, the Sakai family, which includes Miho's boyfriend Akio, and the Sensha-do Federation (which is considering forcing Shiho to resign over this).
  • In The Tomorrow Series fanfic "Taking Care of Business" Homer Yannos uses this as the mantra he needs to keep himself sane after he kills Lee's enemy girlfriend to prevent the group's discovery.
  • Kyoshi Rising; Avatar Yangchen's reasoning for why she abandoned the teachings of the Air Nomads and killed off potential threats.
  • In A New World, Ran's hand was forced by the sudden tightening of Gensokyo's boundaries; deprived of the main food source for Gensokyo's youkai, she was driven to create an extremely unstable balance, fully aware of the risks this entailed for both human and youkai. Desperately fighting against the slow decline, she planned to press Maribel through highly amoral means into becoming a youkai in order to ensure Gensokyo's survival. She hates herself for this, remembering the good old days of spellcard duels, but is largely powerless - she even collapses in sorrow when begging Maribel to go along. Fortunately, a more reasonable compromise is found in time.
  • In the The Familiar of Zero fanfiction,The Steep Path Ahead, the Cardinal's reasoning for not returning Louise (who had been kidnapped and dropped off in an orphanage as a child) to her mother sooner boils down to this.
    Cardinal: "The Duchess, quite simply, moved the mountains to try to find you. And in so doing showed the weakness of the crown who could not stop one of their nobles from doing as she pleased. This, in turn, meant that your recovery would have made it all the more obvious how weak they were. Especially so if you were found in Germania, of all places. The risk of war with a country that is more than five times the military power of Tristain had to be avoided at all costs. If you had been found, on Germanian soil, well, the Duchess would have felt the need to demand reparations from the country itself."
  • In the Babylon 5 fanfic Order in Chaos a Centauri squadron encounters an Orieni explorer, offers them a chance to surrender, but then blows them up, destroys most escape pods and rescues some survivors only to learn how many where the ships of their escorts he'll now hunt down, after the Orieni admit they landed on the planet Na'ka'leen (that was being quarantined with letal force) and are now figthing against creatures that have overrun most of their ship. The Centauri, having correctly identified the creatures as Na'ka'leen Feeders, completely silent predators that feed on sentient minds and may have infected any survivor of an encounter with a larva that could become an adult and restart the cycle at any moment, simply see this as the only possible sterilization protocol.
  • Children of an Elder God: When a terrorist group invaded NERV's German base, Shinji and Asuka killed several terrorists in self-defense. Neither of them was happy about killing humans, but they had to defend themselves.
    "Me too. I...we did what we had to do," Shinji said. "I feel terrible about it, but we really didn't have a choice. They had...they had to be stopped, right?"
    "Right," Asuka said. "We didn't have a choice. Really. They invaded our base and wanted to use us to fight for their madness instead of against the Angels. And they had...they had Katsuragi-san."
  • Deconstructed in Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide. Gendo labeled any atrocity he committed as a "necessary sacrifice". His second-in-command Fuyutsuki calls this reasoning a "bad excuse".
    The bridge crew had performed admirably given the circumstances, as Fuyutsuki had come to expect, even if they all knew that in following his orders they would be crippling themselves beyond repair. It was, as always, a necessary sacrifice.
    Fuyutsuki almost laughed. He had lost track of how many times Ikari had used that justification for what NERV had done, and the atrocities they had committed. Lazy minds tended to drift towards the excuses that were familiar to them, usually as a simple matter of expediency; who could come up with a new excuse every time their decisions were questioned? But eventually the sacrifices deemed necessary added up to even greater costs than the things they were determined to prevent in the first place.
  • The Sanctuary Telepath: they had to lie to Helen about the elemental so she and the Sanctuary Network could stay safe - even if it meant that she got a more heartbreaking version of the events, she blamed the wrong people and their relationship with Janine weakened.As it turned out when Janine visited a parallel universe, they were right.
  • A Brighter Dark: Garon, being unpossessed and in full control of himself, shows himself to be a leader subscribing to this philosophy, willing to go to extreme lengths in the hopes of somehow improving the apocalypticly poor standards of living his country has. Most of the time, it's actually pretty hard to argue with him.
    • After experiencing the horrors of war, Corrin (the Extreme Doormat of the original game) starts getting on it. Choosing of her own free will to massacre the village of Cheve, personally ordering her soldiers to kill them rather than being hi-jacked by Hans. She later justifies to Silas stating that thanks to her, they had not only repelled an invasion from within, but now had boats to launch a counter-attack on Hoshido.
  • Integration:
    • Inverted; Celestia assures the guilt-ridden Twilight that while retgoning the adult Starlight and rewriting the timeline by adopting the filly Starlight out of her Orphanage of Fear without knowing the full consequences was extremely dangerous, it was necessary because she ultimately had no other choice.
      • This then gets deconstructed when Applejack points out that this trope sounds pretty extreme. Celestia agrees that it's a slippery slope, and she and Luna proceed to explain that while leaders sometimes had to get their hands dirty when it comes to tough decisions, it's easy to become a monster when you think certain actions (such as murder, false imprisonment, and theft) are justified. They cite several examples of previous villains that were dealt with in the canon show who abused this trope as an excuse for their villainous actions to establish this point. The sisters then say that even when you have no other option, it's easy to go too far and even the best-intentioned actions can have unintended side-effects. This is why you had to use the "I did what I had to do" option as an absolutely last resort. In fact, when Luna sees that Twilight's friends are fearful of possibly having to Shoot the Dog in the future, she actually considers it a good thing because they'll be able to handle the burden of leadership better than most ponies.
    • Played straight when Human Rainbow Dash kicks one of the Changeling mobsters below the belt to save Sci-Twi, an action that ended up with him needing immediate medical attention. Apple Bloom is shocked when she heard about it, since her dad taught her it was never okay to do something like that to a guy. Dash proceeds to explain to the younger girl that in a dangerous situation, you sometimes have to resort to dirty tactics to survive and that if she didn't do it, Rainbow probably would have gotten stabbed and the kidnappers would have succeeded in taking away Sci-Twi.
  • In A Prize For Three Empires, Carol Danvers admits she killed an enemy spy during her CIA years. Since that woman killed several of her partners, she isn't particularly regretful.
    Captain America: I also caused quite a few deaths, personally, on the other side. I killed a lot of people, Carol. A lot of people.
    Binary: You were a soldier, Cap.
    Captain America: Yes. We were all soldiers. I do not regret what I did. I regret that I had to do it. But I'm not a hypocrite, Carol. I knew what I was fighting for, and what I was fighting against. Given the situation again, put back there, I would do just what I did, again. Do you understand?
    Binary: You're not the only person in this room with blood on his hands, Cap. Or her hands. A long time ago, before I ever put on a funny suit, I was a CIA op. I did what I had to do. One of those things was doing a button woman from the other side. She'd killed 23 of our people, and I was supposed to be number 24. I don't regret shooting her.
    Captain America: I wouldn't expect you to.
  • In A Brief History of Equestria, this is how Platinum justifies to herself her more unsavory actions, such as purging the royal court or assassinating Grand Duke Benzatine, performed for the sake of a united and stable Equestria.
  • In Kara of Rokyn, Lex Luthor's young nephew Val Colby stops his uncle's heart telekinetically in order to save Superman's life as well as other people's. Supergirl is the only who knows, but since she thinks the clearly remorseful boy had no choice, she decides to keep quiet if Val promises to not use his powers to kill again.
    Kara: Val, the act of killing is the gravest act of man. Both on Krypton, and on Earth. Once upon a time, Lex died, and I brought him back to life. This time... I didn't do it. So we both have something to bear away from this one. We both have each other’s secret. Your action was basically justified. You kept him from killing Kal and Ardora. Maybe he would have killed you and Lena afterward. There’s no telling. If a cop had come in there with a gun, he probably would have used it on Lex, as well. He might have had to yell 'Freeze!' beforehand, and he’d have to face a review board afterward. But Lex was about to commit murder again. He’d already done it once, today. And you— saw it. So you did what you had to do. You reached out with that PK power and stopped his heart. Lex Luthor is dead, now, and neither Kal nor I are responsible, except maybe in a secondary way. As I say, Val, you did what you had to do.
  • In Atonement, Vista refuses to let the Slaughterhouse Nine get away and go on mass-murdering, so she pushes Madison to go for the killing blow if she has the chance during their attack on the city; and later she kills Shatterbird herself when the latter attempts to escape the PRT building.
  • In Warp, Victoria Dallon confronts Cauldron about making experiments with kidnapped people which usually lead to horrible bodily disfiguration. Doctor Mother calmly replies they are trying to create superhumans capable of taking on Scion but they can't control the results of the experiments, which is unfortunate but won't stop them from trying to save humanity.
    "You called her Garrotte," I said. "After you took her name. She's in the asylum now, struggling to come to terms with all the people her body chose to kill. She came here because she wanted answers. She wanted to know who had done that to her and why and—"
    I looked around at the four, saw only degrees of indifference. Sveta had called Cauldron sociopathic, so I wasn’t surprised the Number Man and his coworkers looked bored.
    It was Alexandria who got to me. I'd heard her be called a traitor, but seeing a hero of her status just not react to a reminder of the crimes that were occurring here, probably beneath her feet while she was sitting back in a leather chair, was something else entirely. "And you don’t care," I finished.
    The Doctor spoke. "If we could control the results of the formula, we would. We cannot, and I won't insult your intelligence by feigning remorse for trying to do something about our imminent extinction in spite of that lack of control."
    That much was true; I had seen broken and uncontrolled triggers since Scion's death, and I knew things did not always work out. That did not erase the issues of kidnapping, identity erasure, brainwashing, and consent.
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