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Blind Obedience

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Eden: Why? Why did my father kill [her]?! Doesn't even my father... make mistakes?
Leo Mycenae: Wh-what did you say?
Eden: Couldn't my father also make a mistake?
Leo Mycenae: What are you saying lord Eden? We've sworn our loyalty to lord Mars. That means that we must never question his actions!
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This trope applies to characters that are sources of authority and those who follow them. Typically the followers have faith (sometimes blind) in the competence, fairness and infallibility of the authority they choose to follow. These followers would never say "My Master, Right or Wrong", firstly because they're not evil, and secondly because the idea that this authority is capable of error and/or immorality may not even cross their mind. Thirdly, if it does they may justify it as the authority "knowing better" or having a view of the "big picture".

The authority in question rarely does much to dispel this notion and may in fact Pridefully think of themselves as infallible to the point of having an Omniscient Morality License (they very much don't though). While they may be a Reasonable Authority Figure, it's common for this trope that they see themselves as unquestionable arbiters of Law and Good (or Might Makes Right for villains), and questioning their judgement is at the least naive foolishness or at worst tantamount to treason. The plot comes in just as they make a pretty bad error of judgement (or go crazy/evil) and a fair chunk of their subordinates/the populace disagrees with them, and the disagreement simmers into open rebellion before long.

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Compare/contrast Honor Before Reason. See also Undying Loyalty, My Country, Right or Wrong, Just Following Orders.


Examples:

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    Anime 
  • Bleach:
    • The Gotei 13 is supposed to carry out the will of the Central 46 without question and even the captains are forbidden from questioning the Central 46's decisions: going against their decisions is treason. This is why Aizen masquerades as the Central 46 when ordering Rukia's execution and why Yamamoto is so angry with Ukitake and Kyouraku's disobedience. This is also the reason Byakuya gives Ichigo in response to the latter's question about why he's willing to support his sister's execution, although it is eventually revealed that this isn't the full truth.
    • The Vandenreich Quincies are expected to be blindly and unquestioningly obedient to Yhwach's will. He has set himself up as a God-Emperor, who has taken the name of the Tetragrammaton, because his power functions as divine miracles. All Quincies are blood-bound to him, and he can further enslave their very souls in the process of giving them greater power. In practice, the Quincies do question Yhwach's decisions, and he encourages dissent among the ranks for his own ends, but he doesn't hesitate to kill Quincies if they betray him. Eventually, some Quincies feel betrayed enough to side with the Shinigami against him.
  • Berserk:
    • During the three-year timeskip that follows Guts joining Griffith's Band of the Hawk, Guts becomes Griffith's right hand man and admires him to the point where he's willing to do anything for him and doesn't see Griffith's faults. When Griffith confides with him and asks if he's willing to carry out the assassination of the king's brother Count Julius, warning that this is a dirty job for which failure or blowing his cover is not permissible, Guts's cocky response is, "It ain't like you. Just cut to the chase and order me to do it. Like always." It's only when the mission goes wrong, and Guts barely escapes after getting innocent blood on his hands, that he begins to do some serious soul-searching about whether it's really okay to just obey Griffith without having any goals or ambitions of his own.
    • Casca practically worshipped Griffith ever since he saved her from being raped by a nobleman when she was twelve years old, and grew up to be his most devoted follower until Guts came along and became her rival for that position. While she takes her responsibility to her troops very seriously, her personal loyalty to Griffith overrides everything else, at least at first. As her initially hostile attitude towards Guts changes, first seeing him as a comrade and eventually falling in love with him, Judeau notices how she's already a different person than she used to be:
    The old Casca would have never cared even if it came to comrades getting hurt. I bet she wouldn't even have faltered at losing her own life had it been Griffith's will. To Casca, his word was gospel. No. Maybe that's still the truth, but...is she herself even aware that she's begun to change?
    • This is the big theme of the Chapter of the Birth Ceremony, in which conflict between the Church and heretics both real and imaginary comes to a head in the refugee settlement at St. Albion:
      • Farnese begins her character arc as a Knight Templar leading the Holy Iron Chain Knights, a military order controlled by the Holy See and used for hunting down enemies of the Church. Because her noble and wealthy parents were never there for her while she was growing up, Farnese grew up lonely and extremely maladjusted. She latched onto the Church as a source of authority and approval, and turned to burning heretics at the stake so she could banish her fear and loneliness with a feeling of power, to the point where the sight of people being burned alive sexually excited her. Thus she had no problem with interrogating and burning suspects even in cases where the Church was clearly siding with the corrupt against the legitimate grievances of the people.
      • Meanwhile Serpico, Farnese's valet and bodyguard, feels responsible for Farnese because she took him in when he was ostracized as an unwanted bastard son (and because she's secretly his half-sister), so no matter how much she mistreats him or what she asks him to do, he will obey her to the best of his ability. He even went so far as to partake in burning his mother at the stake to prove his loyalty to Farnese.
      • Farnese, Serpico, and the rest of the Holy Iron Chain Knights find themselves tasked with carrying out the will of Bishop Mozgus, an agent of the Holy Inquisition who has come to sniff out and exterminate heresy at the St. Albion refugee camp. While there are real heretics and demon-worshipers lurking among the refugees, the Inquisition does little to prevent innocent people from being arrested and brought in for torture, and punishes any criticism of church leadership or policy with the same barbaric methods. Mozgus is the most terrifying kind of Knight Templar because he genuinely believes that his methods—which include arresting people based on anonymous denunciations and torturing them to the point where most of them die—are for the people's own good because even if they die, he believes their souls will be cleansed and saved through suffering. He once went so far as to kill all the women and children in a village just becaused the inhabitants had the impertinence to petition for relief from the Church's tithes during a famine. Mozgus employs a team of physically deformed professional torturers whom he took in after they were persecuted for their monstrous appearances, and while the one called Bird admits that he doesn't like hurting people, he and his fellows feel that this is the chance they've been given to carry out the commands of Scripture and to repay Mozgus for his kindness to them.
      • As the chapter continues, the difference between those who follow blindly and those willing to question authority comes out. Even Farnese is horrified by the consequences of this persecution, and goes to ask Mozgus whether what they're doing is really helping people, but Mozgus tells her that as long as she is following God's orders, she needn't feel guilty about how much suffering she has to inflict. However, she still hears the voices inside her head telling her that she's unworthy of being saved, and she is deeply shaken in her beliefs by the example of Anti-Hero Guts who openly defies the Church in his quest to get his beloved Casca back. Ultimately those who decide to think for themselves and follow Guts are the ones who survive the collapse of the Tower and the Mock Eclipse, while those who look above them for salvation are swallowed up by the darkness.
  • Vanilla Ice from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure takes on a form of zealotry that few fanatics can even dream of achieving. When his master, the vampire lord Dio Brando, mentions that he might need some blood in order to heal the scar on his neck, Ice's immediate response is to offer some of his own blood by cutting off his own head.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans: Mikazuki Augus is fanatically dedicated to Orga Itsuka. He does anything Orga asks without question, complaint, or hesitation, and one of the most common things he says is "Orga, what should I do?" Explained as Orga being the one who kept him alive during their days as street urchins, which has translated into a belief that Orga always knows what's best. Fortunately, Orga is a pretty decent guy who genuinely cares about the people under his command, but it still comes across as rather creepy.
    Mikazuki: Whatever Orga tells me to do, that's what I do.
    McGillis: Orga has nothing to do with this. I'm asking what you want.
    Mikazuki: I told you already: whatever Orga tells me to do, that's what I do.

    Film 
  • In Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, when soldiers are sent to evacuate the town, one character points out that the soldiers are leading them further into the town meaning they are likely going to nuke the place. Another character's response? "The government wouldn't lie to us!" Much revelry was had in theaters.
  • Lampshaded in Monty Python's Life of Brian:
    Brian: Look, you've got it all wrong, you don't need to follow me; you don't need to follow anyone. You're all individuals!
    Crowd: Yes! We're all individuals!
    Brian: You're all different!
    Crowd: Yes! We're all different!
    Crowd: Shh! Shhhh!
    Brian: You've all got to work it out for yourselves!
    Crowd: Yes, we've got to work it out for ourselves!
    Brian: Yes exactly!
    Crowd: Tell us more!
    Brian: No, that's the point, don't let anyone tell you what to do, otherwise... ow!
    Woman in Black: That's enough.
  • Similarly in An American Carol. When Malone/Moore tries to say "The government just wants to...." the juvenile lefties break into a chant of "GOVERNMENT JUST WANTS!/GOVERNMENT JUST WANTS!" When even he is exasperated and tells them to "Stop the chanting for a minute!", they respond with "STOP! DON'T CHANT!/STOP! DON'T CHANT!"

    Literature 
  • In Animal Farm, the other animals eventually follow the pigs unquestioningly, especially Boxer, who makes "Napoleon is always right" a motto of his.
  • Gunner Jergen is given this portrayal in the Ciaphas Cain novels. Although only his very first appearance (when Cain was ordering him to help him escape) really counts, since Cain doesn't tend to abuse this trait.
  • In The City of Ember most people treat the mayor as a pretty infallible and sensible authority figure, which he abused to his gain. Though their city was breaking down and the power plant to their Terminally Dependent Society was nearing failure he managed to keep almost everyone content. The protagonists were some of the few to see the problem and fought to find a way out.
  • In Dragon Bones, Oreg has no other option than to obey orders, he's magically bound to do it, and when he doesn't obey, he suffers horribly. However, the only time that happens on-screen, so to speak, he just wasn't able to carry out the order. As his new "owner" Ward mostly orders him to keep on doing things he has been doing anyway, there is almost no conflict about it. Only when Ward plans to give the villains the eponymous dragon bones (which Oreg was ordered to protect by a previous owner) does Oreg object - but when Ward tells him he wouldn't do it if there was a choice, he kneels down and states that he has absolute trust in Ward. This is because, at this moment, he realized that Ward would kill him on his own request, if necessary to protect the bones. He happily goes along with everything Ward wants to do from then on, and when he finally makes his request, Ward has no other choice, as, after all, he's the hero and has to do the right thing, even if the right thing consists of killing someone he'd rather protect.
  • Amar from Allegiant is a staunch believer in what the Bureau teaches about genetic damage and genetic purity, despite living with "genetically damaged" people for most of his life.
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    Live-Action TV 
  • Revolution: The Monroe militia seem to follow Bad Boss General Sebastian Monroe because of this. Indeed, the episode "Children of Men" had Captain Riley talking to Captain Mark Franklin about Monroe's agenda and his misgivings over it, and Franklin more or less told him to shut up.
  • Malcolm in the Middle: When Reese joins the army, his drill sergeant molds him into the perfect soldier. At one point he orders Reese to walk into a wall repeatedly and remarks "he'll do that all day!" This proves to be a double-edged sword when Reese's earpiece breaks in the middle of a war game, leaving him with no idea what to do. Eventually he reverts back to his Chaotic Stupid self and uses a tank to destroy both the enemy and his own troops.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Mole turns out to be this; his superior officer (also a mole) recruited him as a mentally damaged juvie hall psychopath and trained him to hide his crippling lack of willpower behind ruthlessness and efficiency. As a result, he's one of the most competent agents on the field but willingly betrays his friends in unnecessarily sadistic ways at the whims of his master to ease the "emotional overload" that his damaged empathy absorbs. He denies his own faults to keep obeying his superior officers, and the more they hurt him the more loyalty they gain from him. It gets so bad that in Season 3, when he is killed and possessed by a genocidal Eldritch Abomination, it has only praise for this exemplary ideal of HYDRA's Evil Plan.
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Valiant", the Red Squad cadets, having been trapped behind enemy lines after all their superiors were killed, developed an almost cultish loyalty to their leader Tim Watters, unquestioningly following his lead even as it becomes apparent that he's cracking under the pressure. Even getting them all killed in a suicidal assault isn't enough to break the sole surviving cadet's faith in him, insisting to Nog that they must've failed him somehow.

    Video Games 
  • In Dragon Age II, if Hawke mentions that Saarebas chose to die rather than leave the Qun, the Arishok is affronted by the human notion that such a choice should be exceptional or difficult; he'd expect no less of any Qunari.
  • The Palace Guard in Armello. The King is dying from the Rot, and going steadily more insane as it drags him closer to death. The Palace Guard, despite being untouched by (and untouchable by) the Rot, will continue to obey his every deranged proclamation to the letter, no matter how cruel or arbitrary it is. One of the King's proclamations (which usually only appears once the game is nearly over and the King has completely lost it) averts this by causing all the Palace Guard to abandon their posts, implying that they have finally come to their senses.
  • The Player Character of Call of Duty: Ghosts, Logan Walker, to his brother, Hesh. In an interview tape, their father said that one time, when he was bringing Hesh and Logan into the woods, he looked back to see only two sets of footprints, instead of three. Logan is such a blind follower of his brother than he literally fills in his footsteps behind him.
  • Symmetra from Overwatch was plucked from poverty and groomed to be the Corporate Samurai of Vishkar Corporation as her new family. When Vishkar began showing their more extremist and corrupt ways, she started to doubt if they were fighting for the right thing after all, but the combination of her upbringing, autism, and manipulation by them resulted in her clinging to the hopes that 'it's for the greater good', so she continued to promote the company as a good company out to improve the lives of others. She antagonizes the freedom fighter Lucio, who managed to drive Vishkar away from his home when they oppressed it, but he mocks her for adhering to this trope.
  • While most Nohr royalty in Fire Emblem Fates only looked like they were feigning the trope in front of King Garon, who has been shown as a megalomaniacal ruler, the eldest sibling Xander is the one who adheres to this the most, due to being there when Garon was actually a just king. After witnessing his change of attitude and not believing it, he clung to the hopes that if they won the war and saved Nohr from its harsh situation, then Garon would return to normal. It jaded him so much that he stopped believing in justice and adhering to Grey and Gray Morality, and he's usually the last to finally believe the protagonist's story that his father was no longer the good man he grew up with.

    Webcomics 
  • In Drowtales, the authority of the Kyorl'solenurn Clan is based on this, with the Judicators relying on it to keep the drowussu people in line. One of them even brags that they are so much more obedient than the other dominant race of drow. They're wrong.
    • Even worse in Felde: Snadhya'rune uses mind-controlled taint to get willful obedience. On the plus side, this extends the expected lifespan of the drow from dead and/or mutated into a demon within 25 years, to potentially hundreds of years and with a symbiotic relationship with the demon instead of a constant fight for dominance. On the negative side, this pretty much kills the original personality of the mortal host and forces their subconscious to fuse with the demon, who has been hacked to be loyal to Snadhya'Rune. It's unknown what will happen if she dies, but given the clusterfuck that is Chapter 46, it ain't gonna be pretty.
  • Clippy from Freefall is the robotic assistant to Mr. Kornada. Like other robots, Clippy started out with limited intelligence, but has been learning over time; unlike other robots, he almost never interacts with anyone other than Mr. Kornada, so his entire thought process is set on appeasing his every whim, which includes trying to unleash a virus on all the other robots to wipe out their intelligence so Mr. Kornada can take all their money.
  • The First Empire's Daleks in Second Empire. This comes to bite the Golden Emperor very hard.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The formal sociological term for this behaviour is authoritarianism, and those that have it are authoritarians. This complex can both show up as "leaders" and "followers". An authoritarian leader will lash out strongly and violently against any challenges (real or perceived) against their leadership or authority, and an authoritarian follower will defend any decisions from their chosen authority (which in benign cases include the established authority in their environment).
  • Like our fellow apes, humans are built to respect authority (common chimps are hierarchical around strong males, bonobos are more matrilineal). There's variation, of course, and it is intensely debated whether "alpha males" are leaders or just breeders.
    • The work of Dr. Jonathan Haidt has elucidated that respect for authority is stronger among conservatives than adherents of all other political ideologies. This and in-group loyalty explains why conservatives are a bloc, whereas liberals are a coalition.
    • This also explains Stockholm Syndrome, battered wife syndrome, and similar.
    • Cults tend to be built around incredibly charismatic leaders. Combine force of personality with the enforced isolation that they also tend to adore and you can get seriously blind obedience.
  • This was an explicit tenet of Bushido. Expressing even mild disapproval of your lord's actions was forbidden no matter how wrong or unjust he might be. The only legitimate way for a vassal to protest was by committing Seppuku (although issuing a "The Reason You Suck" Speech just beforehand generally got a pass if you were sufficiently polite about it.)
  • Cases of "computer error" generally result from the fact that computers do exactly what they are instructed to do in their programs, whether or not it is what the programmers want them to do.

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