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Broken-System Dogmatist

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Praise the [insert dogma here]!!!

A social, religious, automated, or financial system once thought infallible has fallen into disrepair or abused by those at the top, where loopholes have been found that benefit them, and only them. However, both sides (those who benefit, and those who do not) still may be affected by this broken system, and yet praise how well it works. They may be under Big Brother Is Watching surveillance, the abuse they face from others might be what is keeping them from speaking out, they may be brainwashed, they really are disillusioned and are hiding it, or they may even just ignore it because of the power that they already have or because they are that spiteful. They may even be so wrapped up in how "effective" this System is, from before, that they may not realize how flawed it really is. If they are convinced enough from an outside source, they may change their minds about it. Other times, they may be so steadfast in their beliefs that there's no way to convince them otherwise. At best, they will acknowledge that some problems are Inherent in the System, but insist that said problems are merely a necessary evil and that any alternative to the status quo would be even worse, or even claim that there are no alternatives at all.


May cross over with The Quisling, if they want to suck up to whatever ''the'' System is. Crosses over with Culture Justifies Anything, Easily Swayed Population, My Country, Right or Wrong, Blind Obedience, Dramatically Missing the Point, Believing Your Own Lies, George Jetson Job Security, The Neidermeyer (if it involves a military or a command group), Inherent in the System, and Tautological Templar. If the system is for good, but it still is causing harm, unwillingly, then the person who dogmatizes it may be a Principles Zealot. May also result in a Deconstructed Trope or An Aesop if the medium is trying to make a point with this. If the work as a whole is dark and the story has no real way to bring the characters into any sort of satisfactory hopeful conclusion, then this trope can cross over into Too Bleak, Stopped Caring.


If the character hearing the dogma is angry enough at whoever is spouting off, because they won't listen to their factual logic, it may result in a "Shut Up, Hannibal!".

If the character proclaiming the dogma is a computer, then it's a case of A.I. Is a Crapshoot.

If the character in-question is being this way because they want to keep a system in place that benefits them and only them, then they may be trying to prevent a system that's Too Good for Exploiters, which would ruin their chances of keeping their benefits and power.

Because of the opinionated political implications of this trope, no real-life governmental/political examples, PLEASE!



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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Heavy Object the existence of Objects has resulted in an era of "clean wars" where there need be no civilian casualties and only the Elites piloting Objects need to fight. However this has resulted in radicalization of the populace and the "clean wars" are actually devastating and often far uglier than claimed, not to mention the massive drain on global resources each Object represents. It's even revealed in lead-up to the finale that Object battles have released so much energy they've disrupted the Earth's rotational axis and damaged the tectonic plates, potentially dooming all life on Earth. Despite this the powers behind all four supernations are united in their need to preserve the era of Objects and they are willing to kill anyone who questions this.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Downfall: Almost all of the main characters embody this trope, as they're the Nazi high command at the tail end of World War 2, and the main drama of the film is how they deal with the obvious fact that Nazi Germany is in the final stages of a Hopeless War (which they started so their Ponzi scheme wouldn't collapse) and isn't going to last the year. The Soviets are approaching Berlin, and even if by some miracle they're held off, that just means the Western Allies will do it instead. The Allies won't accept anything short of unconditional surrender, and Hitler's power is effectively limited to the Fuhrerbunker simply because there's so few troops outside for him to command. And yet, most of them remain fanatical Nazis to the point of committing suicide rather than surrender.
  • A Few Good Men: Crossing over with The Neidermeyer: Marine Pvt. William Santiago is killed in a hazing incident after two others are sent to his barrack to toughen him up. Santiago had poor relations with the other Marines, and his commanding officer, Cmdr. Col. Nathaniel Jessup (played by Jack Nicholson) seems full of himself. Jessup claims Santiago was to be transferred to another unit the next day, thus keeping him out of trouble. During the court martial, a whole tangle of events ensue, including a commanding officer committing suicide out of shame for Santiago's death. When Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise), the prosecuting lawyer, discovers contradictions in Jessup's testimonynote , Jessup starts to undergo a Villainous Breakdown, where he angrily spouts off about how important he is to the chain of command, and that America needs him, in order to protect the country from its enemies.
  • Judge Dredd: Although an effective officer in curbing crime and doling out proper justice, Judge Joseph Dredd is an ardent dogmatist of The Law of the Megacities, claiming it is the only thing that matters to a Street Judge (even presenting it with a subtext as if it was a Bible), even though it does not recognize extenuating circumstances or evidence, leading to false arrests. However, Dredd gets a metaphorical slap-in-the-face about this when the very supposedly airtight system he sought to defend and praise has him arrested for the presumed murder of a news critic and his wife since the DNA imprint on the weapon matched his. (It was actually Dredd's brother, Rico, who fired the weapon.) Herman "Fergie" Ferguson, a harmless repeat offender that Dredd arrested earlier in the filmnote , temporarily wakes him up to the problems inherent in The Law, as they travel to the prison:
    Fergie: [after noticing Dredd is sitting next to him] What are you doing here?
    Dredd: I was convicted of a crime. Wrongly convicted.
    Fergie: [laughs, sarcastically] Really? That's kinda weird! What are the odds? Two wrongly convicted guys sitting right next to each other?
    Dredd: You received the sentence the law required.
    Fergie: Five years, just for saving my own ass? That was a mistake!
    Dredd: The law doesn't make mistakes.
    Fergie: Really? Then how do you explain what happened to you?
    [Dredd turns away stoically, trying to think of a reason]
    Fergie: You can't, can you? Great. [mockingly mimics Dredd's voice and accent] Mister "I Am ThE LAw" can't. [normal voice] So maybe this is some kind of typo. Maybe it's a glitch. Or maybe it's poetic justice!
  • Logan's Run: Logan 5 is, at first, an ardent supporter of the life-clock and Carrousel system, which seeks to "re-new" individuals who have reached the age of 30. It is actually a euthanization program to curb overpopulation within the domed city they live in. Others who are non-believers and do not want to re-new are branded "Runners", to be killed on-sight by the Sandmennote . It isn't until Logan becomes one of them (his life-clock forced to age 30) that he realizes what is at stake here.
  • Star Wars: Many proponents of the Republic, including both sympathetic politicians and Jedi, recognize that the Republic is badly in need of reforms, but believe it's still possible to fix it as Internal Reformists — despite the events of The Phantom Menace, where a Mega-Corp made war on an actual member planet and the galactic government's response was Head-in-the-Sand Management. One of those Internal Reformist voices, Padmé Amidala, was even that planet's head of state at the time. Somewhat justified by the fact that the only available alternative to internal reform was to join the Separatists, who were led by that same Mega-Corp; and the man secretly Running Both Sides "ensured" the Republic's lack of response.

  • The Saga of Darren Shan: The vampires will hold to their traditional ways, rejecting vampires who can't fend for themselves, and expecting the elderly and those with injuries to go out in the wild and chase death rather than let themselves be taken care of. The old ways go unchallenged even if it means pushing a (physically) 12-year-old half-vampire through Trials of Initiation that could get him killed, and the law is that if he fails and survives, he'll still be executed. Prince-elect Kurda Smahlt does stand for change, and 54% of Generals did vote for him, but he is executed as a traitor for trying to force a union of the two enemy vampire clans before they destroy themselves with war. Darren fails his Trials, and faces execution, but he's considered a hero for exposing said plot — so do the vampires change their laws? Of course not— they just give him the throne that was meant for Kurda.
  • Deathstalker: Captain John Silence of the Imperial Starcruiser Dauntless knows and understands full well why Empress Lionstone XIV is called "The Iron Bitch", appreciates the difficulties of those not born into aristocratic families, and especially the hardships of clones, espers, and aliens in the Empire, for whom slavery would actually be an improvement. He just firmly believes that every other possibility besides the Empire is even worse. His companions, Investigator Frost and Security Officer V. Stelmach agree in principle, even if they're both a bit more pro-Imperial, ignoring or justifying some of the flaws Silence sees.
  • Foundation Series: Bel Riose is a somewhat tamer example. He believes the declining Galactic Empire is as strong as ever and describes its severely reduced influence as "trimming the fat." To be fair, he nearly brought the Empire back from decline.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents: On a smaller scale, the story "To Catch A Butterfly" is revealed to be this at the end: A new-neighbor couple moves in next door to a family of a father, mother, and young boy. However, the child quickly starts showing psychotic tendencies to them, including killing their dog, running a tripwire across a staircase that almost breaks the neck of the neighbor's wife, and even attempting to use an electric drill on her. When the husband has had enough, it turns out that the young boy's father has been sticking to strict parenting teetering on the edge of abuse note , and angrily extols that it was the perfect (as well as the only) solution in his view since the boy has since been seemingly well-behaved from his POV. What makes him less sympathetic, however, is that he has been showing more love to his own well-kept roadster car than his own son. In actuality, the boy has been repressing his feelings and releasing them through inhuman acts, the final straw of which is the boy setting the roadster car's garage on fire. After the situation is stabilized and safe, the parents send the boy away to get psychological help.
  • Babylon 5 - Psycop Alfred Bester keeps extolling the virtues of PsyCorp even after helping the heroes expose a plot within the Corps. Several Minbari hold to the traditions of the Grey Council until it's broken by Delenn due to its inaction during the Shadow War.
  • Doctor Who, "The Sun Makers": The snooty, arrogant, foppish, boot-licking, and completely disconnected character of Gatherer Hade to a tee. Pluto is Humanity's last resort, as both Earth and Mars are uninhabitable. The entire human populace, each day, is worked ever so much more harder by a galactic Company, to extreme exhaustion. (One character, Cordo, at the beginning of the serial even admitting that he already works double shifts!) Taxes are placed abound on anything from medical care, to basic living, to even breathing the air; heavy fines for ostensible offenses (such as being out in the light of the artificially-generated suns, or what is considered an airspace violation — the Doctor harmlessly landing his TARDIS on top of one of the city buildings) and workers are penalized, even with legitimate time off given by the Company, plus these fees and taxes are increased often, leaving them constantly in-debt and unable to pay these exorbitant amounts. When the Doctor and Leela, along with disillusioned citizens, form a rebellion, the mysterious Collectornote  running the whole operation sets a reward of 5000 talmars for their capture, which Gatherer Hade praises as an excellent strategy, only for the Collector to metaphorically backstab Hade by taking the reward money out of his income! He exclaims in protest at this, but doesn't outright reject the system either; to keep his pocketbook safe, he goes off to try capturing the Doctor instead. Hade, being an accessory to the oppression, later gets Laser-Guided Karma, when trying to stop the rebelling workers from loitering in the sun, who then throw him off of one of the kilometer-high buildings of the city.
    • When Cordo tries to pay the ever-increasing taxes:
    Hade: Fortunately, as the Gatherer, I have certain powers. I will encourage your supervisor to allow you increased output.
    Cordo: But, your Honour, I already work a double shift now! I have only my three hours sleep time away from the Foundry.
    Hade:Twenty-one hours a week. You must manage without sleep time until the debt is paid.
    Cordo: It will kill me!
    Hade: Take your Q capsule.
    Cordo: But your Honour, the high medical tax on Q capsules!
    Hade: Citizen Cordo, you complain too much. Thank the Company you're warm and fed.
    Cordo: [exasperated and downtrodden] Praise the Company.
    Hade: You may go.
    • And later, when Cordo is in the Undercity (and still under his life-long conditioning):
    Cordo: [constantly nervous] I'm a foundry work unit, your honour. Always respectable. All my life I've met the production quotas, paid my dues and taxes, praise the Company.
    Mandrell: Stuff the Company. Mouth those mindless parties down here, Citizen Cordo, and you'll get your throat slit. So, you're in trouble with the Gatherer, eh?
    Cordo: Yes. I couldn't meet my father's death taxes. It was more than I was told, and I—
    Mandrell: It's always more than they tell you. I've heard the story a thousand times. You stay with us, you'll have to earn your keep.
  • The Good Place: Neil, the chief accountant of the afterlife, records a system that had damned humans to the Bad Place for over the past 500 years, yet is too cheerfully apathetic to really care beyond whether or not he's completing his job.
  • Kitchen Nightmares: The infamous "Amy's Baking Company" episode has this in droves; "dogmatist" isn't even a word that can cover the owners' personalities, and "broken" is putting it mildly. Amy and her husband Samy are so disconnected on how to run a restaurant, and wondering why it's failing, that listing every single instance of what's wrong would take up most of the trope page, so here are some of the more notable elements of the episode:
    • Even before Gordon Ramsay arrives the next day, a heated argument and near-fistfight breaks out between Samy and two customers who refuse to pay for a pizza that they waited one hour for.
    • Gordon discovers that the food and pastries they used is pre-bought, and that which is "freshly-made" has conflicting flavors, is overly greasy, undercooked, or even raw.
    • Samy is discovered to be stealing tips from the staff, on-camera! This is illegal in the United States.
    • A simple harmless question from a waiter gets her fired from the restaurant. (With Amy seethingly calling her a "viper".)
    • Employees with proper restaurant experience are given menial jobs.
    • The restaurant turnover rate (the amount of people who are hired, and leave/are fired) stands at 100.
    • Amy angrily claims that she is a good cook and makes "good food". Sometime in the episode, she intentionally over-spices a pizza, that was sent back, with intent to harm the customer back. Again, this is illegal.
    • Gordon was apparently brought in not to fix the problems with the restaurant, but to bolster its image, and Gordon was expected to be a Yes-Man. By the end of the episode, he says that he's giving up, and outlines that the system they have is not just broken, but beyond repair, as Amy and Samy refuse to fix it.
  • The Orville, "Majority Rule": The Orville visits a planet where two anthropologists have gone missing. They are found lobotomized, in unwitting bliss from brain damage from the punishment of the justice system. Punishment for offenders, decisions on social discrimination, as well as decisions in normal society, are doled out according to public opinion/absolute democracy (upvotes and downvotes), similar to modern social media, which is the only thing that is keeping this society alive, and no-one has questioned the problems inherent within, implied that fear that any attempt at dissent would ruin one's life. After John LaMarr is recorded performing a dirty dancing act on a statue of a well-known and celebrated historical public figure, he is ostracized by the entire planet and forced to be taken on an apology tour, where it seems, even to their own people, no amount of apology or attempts to be friendly have any effect in changing the angry negative opinions of the population, with some attempts even being twisted into interpretations of attack.
  • Star Trek, seems to be a common theme in the series, usually with the Prime Directive of Non-Interference:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series:
      • "Return of the Archons": Landru—at least the computer version that the original eponymous ruler programmed 6000 years before—is adamant to keep "The Body"note  alive, but does not realize that it has been actively suppressing and suffocating the culture of the planet. This can be shown in how the voice of the computer reacts: When it is presented a question of philosophy that it's forced to calculate, Landru's voice becomes less natural and more stilted and monotone in its delivery. When it "comes to its senses" from outside its comfort zone, it returns to a more-natural-sounding human voice. It also keeps shooting down Kirk and Spock's suggestions that it is harming the population, until they get in a good question that Landru is unable to compute, which results in it performing the prime function it uses to excise interference from outside influence: it overloads itself in an impressive display of smoke and sparks.
      • "A Taste of Armageddon": A war has been raging between two planets, Vendikar and Eminiar VII, for 500 years. The only odd part? The war is computerized. No missiles, no bombs, no ground infantry/army/invasion. The "attacks" are recorded within the computer, and probable deaths are counted. The treaty between the two planets stipulates that those "affected" must report to disintegration chambers within 24 hours, and even one miscount means that either side will begin attacking with real weapons. (The justification being that the culture and infrastructure survive with the computerized war.) Anan 7, the leader of the planet, dislikes the systemnote  but dogmatizes its use because it has supposedly kept the peace on both worlds for half a millennium. What makes the whole system especially stupid is that seemingly every single individual on the planet "has a deep sense of duty" (implied for the other planet too) and will robotically walk straight into euthanization without question, or others will allow their friends, family, and colleagues to do the same. It's only after Kirk and Spock destroy the computers on Eminiar VII, with Kirk explaining that war is supposed to be Hell, and that the sanitization of it is what has kept it going for so long, that they finally put an end to it. References in later series (Eminiar VII is on a Federation starmap in TNG and there are posters advertising it as a vacation destination in DS9 confirm that, with their dogma kicked out from under them, they came to their senses.
        Spock: Yeoman Tamura, you stay here and prevent this young lady from immolating herself. Knock her down and sit on her if necessary.
      • "The Changeling": Played straight in a way that this is a (computer) systemnote  that is legitimately broken. Nomad, a (fictional) probe launched from Earth in the (then-futuristicnote ) year 2002, somehow merges with another probe, Tan-Ru. The two's programming becomes intermixed, and a corruption of purpose results: To sterilizenote  lifeforms that it seeks outnote . It sees itself as the perfect being, and it kills and affects several crew members before being confronted by Kirk, who reveals that it has in fact made several errors: It mistook James Kirk for its creator "Jackson Roykirk", it did not realize its mistake, and it did not correct by sterilization. This results in Nomad becoming caught in a logic loop, trying to fight with the idea that it is perfect, and yet it has become imperfect by committing several errors. Furthermore, it's now set to perform its prime function on itself, to sterilize imperfect beings, whereby Kirk and Spock manage to beam Nomad out into open space, where it explodes harmlessly.
      • "Mirror, Mirror": Mirror!Spock himself logically realizes the need for the oppressive Terran Empire to dissolve but has to go along with it. Prime!Kirk, before he and his away team leave, gives a Patrick Stewart Speech to him about how this system cannot sustain itself, and to push the issue to the highest ranks until something gives, to change his mind.
      • "The Ultimate Computer": Dr. Richard Daystrom, inventor of the duotronic circuitry design that powers the Enterprise, and now inventor of the M5 computer, posits that his system will make crews obsolete. As the tests of the M5 are performed, however, it makes several questionable command decisions, and draws more and more power from the ship—attacking a harmless unmanned freighter, killing a crewmember who was ordered to disconnect it from the ship's systems, leading Spock on a "wild goose chase" (to pretend it was disconnected), and the ultimate crime, engaging a simulated wargame session with fully activated weapons, killing an entire starship crew, and severely damaging others. Throughout the episode, as the M5 makes its mistakes, Kirk tries to convince Daystrom of how dangerous it's becoming, but at each accusation, Daystrom deflects responsibility away by making excuses, and undergoes Sanity Slippage at each turn, until he finally breaks down under the pressure of past scientific rejections. Even worse, it was his mental engram patterns that he imprinted on the computer's circuitry. Subverted in the fact that M5 does gracefully give up and shuts itself down (leaving the ship open to attack/punishment) when it realizes it has violated its original purpose and imprinted morals.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation; One criticism of the series, and later incarnations of the Star Trek Universe, was that the Prime Directive had become dogma, as if even well-intentioned assistance was interfering in some cosmic plan, allowing the Federation to become a callous entity and watch as helpless people died from easily-preventable disasters or oppression (although not all the examples below are about this), rather than a law of safety to prevent civilizations from destroying themselves with technology they were not yet mature-enough to have and use responsibly:
      • "When the Bough Breaks": Mixed in with Apathy Killed the Cat; the society of the legendary planet of Aldea (which has been cloaked to outsiders) has been steadily deteriorating for many years. They had decided to rely solely on their ancestors' computer and machinery systems and pursue an artistic form of culture. Unfortunately, their way of repopulating the planet involves abducting children from the Enterprise, with exchange of knowledge being appropriate compensation in their eyes. When Radue, the leader of Aldea, is confronted (after finding a way through the planetary shields), Dr. Crusher tries to explain that the shielding and machinery that they have used is what is poisoning their people and causing their culture to stagnate and die off. Radue does not believe her, claiming that their scientists would have told them of any problems ...except their scientists have basically forgotten how everything works on their planet. When Rashella, his wife, tries to listen, Radue instead angrily cuts off the conversation and attempts to force the away team to transport back to the ship. Eventually, Radue and the rest of the Aldeans are forced to realize that they are indeed being affected.
        Rashella: Instead of the children being our hope, what if we're just condemning them to our fate?
        Radue: Rashella, they're just protecting their own interests.
        Rashella: As are we. But hear them out. The Captain and Doctor Crusher are saying that the very thing which has given us this wonderful world is what has caused this tragedy.
        Radue: Lies! And the discussion is over!
      • Deconstructed in "Pen Pals": A planetary system-of-the-week has undergone cataclysmic changes, where its planets are exploding for some mysterious unexplained reason. The final planet set to explode contains a less-advanced culture that cannot be saved under the Federation's Prime Directivenote , due to its pre-warp status. Dr. Pulaski details how much of a cold, callous system the Prime Directive is, because they are forced to stand idly by and watch as innocent and less-strong civilizations are killed. However, the trope is subverted when Picard is able to find a reason to save the planet, when the inhabitant that Data was in contact with over radio communications desperately calls for help. (Because the Prime Directive makes exceptions for those in distress.)
      • "The Hunted": On the planet Angosia III, the planetary government, which is trying to apply for Federation Membership, turns out to be abusing its war veterans. Simply put, they are trained, medicated, and essentially programmed to be the perfect soldier. However, their government effectively shunned them after they returned, because they could not readjust to a previously normal life. A trigger from an argument or a perceived danger could activate their deadly guerrilla tactics, especially when not intended. Thus the government placed them in facilities with all the amenities one could ever want.note  When the Enterprise gets involved, they are forced (as the Prime Minister of Angosia claims "This is a matter of internal security [so don't poke your nose around where it doesn't belong]") to help bring one of the soldiers, Roga Danar, back to the complex, but through tactical trickery, Danar escapes and commandeers a transport, freeing more of his brethren. An away team of Picard, Troi, Worf, and Data all beam down and confront the government officials, who never intended to seriously cure the soldiers. The trope is invoked when, no matter what, the officials keep throwing the argument "It was the will of the people", back in their face as if it means something.note  At that point the soldiers arrive, demanding to be reintegrated into society and brought back home to their families. The Prime Minister says they will consider it if they return to the complex. They reject his offer, already distrusting because of their previous treatment. In a brazen act of hypocrisy, the Minister asks Picard for help.note  Picard and the away team decides at that point that they've seen enough from the hypocritical Angosian government, telling them "In your own words, this is not our affair", and they simply leave, respecting the soldiers' freedom to choose their own future against the government.
      • "Who Watches The Watchers?": Subverted in that this belief system already had no real legitimate basis before it even hit the ground: A Federation "duck blind" on a Bronze-Age planet, Mintaka III, experiences a major malfunction that threatens to affect the cultural development of the inhabitants. One of the Mintakans, Liko, is injured when he is electrocuted by an electrified wall and is further seriously injured and knocked unconscious by falling off a ledge from the shock. Dr. Crusher instinctively leaves the duck blind to treat him and brings him aboard the Enterprise to save his life. Picard does not take well to this. While being treated in sickbay, Liko awakens in a daze, automatically assuming from the lighting and sleek aesthetic that he has been taken to the afterlife, and he sees Picard as a god. Crusher attempts to erase his memory, but it is unsuccessful, and the roots of a new religious movement begin to sprout in the village where Liko lives. Picard, with no other moral options left in the Prime Directive, brings one of the other inhabitants, Nuria, on-board, to show that he and the Federation are simply travelers with advanced knowledge and tools that the Mintakans do not yet have, and that he is just as mortal as they are, nothing more. When Liko becomes fanatical during a strong freak thunderstorm on the planet's surfacenote , the trope is invoked when he is unconvinced about Picard's lack of godly power. When Picard beams down, Liko tries to genuflect before Picard, claiming that he can bring back the deadnote . A diverted arrow to Picard's shoulder, and Nuria showing his blood on her fingers, is what finally snaps him out of it.
        Nuria: Picard speaks the truth. I have visited his people. I have seen how they live and how they die. When death takes one of their loved ones, they are as helpless as we are!
        Liko: Then,... how was I brought back to life?!
        Nuria: Liko, you were not dead. Picard's people have a knowledge that we lack. They're able to heal wounds that we cannot.
        Liko: NO! No... He can bring back the dead! Show them, Picard! You can bring back... wife to me.
        Picard: I cannot.
        Liko: Why? Why won't you do this for me? Have I failed you in some way? Are you angry with me?
        Picard: I'm not angry with you.
        Liko: Well, then I beg you! Bring her back to me! [kneels in front of Picard] I will... give you my life in exchange! Please! Take back what you gave me! Give it to her! Let her live!
        Picard: [exasperated] It is beyond my power!
        Liko: Nothing is beyond your power! You are the Overseer! I WILL PROVE IT! [goes to prepare his bow and arrow]
      • Deconstructed again, along with a healthy dose of Informed Wrongness in "Homeward": A planet containing a primitive nomadic-age culture is set to lose its atmosphere within two days. Worf's adoptive brother, Nikolai Rozhenko, a cultural observer on the planet, has already integrated himself into the culture of one of the nomad groups, which is against the Prime Directive. Due to this violation, Nikolai is forced to leave the inhabitants on the planet, and the Enterprise crew watches (even standing in "honor") as the atmosphere dissolves away. Fortunately, Nikolai covertly beamed a tribe up into the holodeck, where a simulated environment has been created for them, such that they cannot tell they're not on their planet anymore.
        Picard: This is one of those times when we must face the ramifications of the Prime Directive and honor those lives which we cannot save.
        Nikolai: I find no honor in this whatsoever, captain.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • "Paradise": A colony of humans have been stranded on a planet for years, without technology, and yet they eschew all forms of it. Furthermore, their justice system has been strict and ruthless (not to the point of killing, but still psychologically damaging). With their rejection of technology, they rely on natural medicine rather than the more-reliable technological advancements of the Federation; not that it would do any good, as the planet seems to have mineral deposits that cause any tricorders, communication devices, or technological tools to not work. Thus, all technology previously used has been discarded by the colonists. Unfortunately, a girl in the colony has been stung by one of the planet's native insects, and even with their "best" ideas about natural herbal medicine (similar to faith-healing), the girl dies. Furthermore, their leader and her son are adamant, brusquely rejecting all talk of advanced technology. Any offenders who disrespect their way of life, even for simple crimes, are placed in a dark metal box that is cramped and left out in the sun. O'Brien is considered an offender when he tries to contact their Runabout in-orbit note  when the time "wasted" trying to get supplies could have been put to "more productive use", but she does not punish him, instead opting to punish Sisko instead, as he is O'Brien's commanding officer. She later tries to bribe a hot and weakened Sisko with water and food if he forgets his old life and becomes one of their people. He rejects her offer by climbing back into the box himself. Eventually, O'Brien discovers that the technology-disabling effect is caused by a large projection device, and that the leader of the colony as well as her son have betrayed the colonists by stranding them there in the first place. They both arrest the leader and the son, but what makes this episode so cringe-inducing is that the colonists actually decide to stay and happily continue their way of life, possibly even their way of justice too, rather than leave and find more freedom to live off-planet, despite the fact that their living system was based on a lie, has many flaws, and their leader is actually an Evil Luddite, with a major dose of Alpha Bitch, to boot.
      • In "Tacking Into The Wind", Worf realizes that the Klingon Chancellor Gowron is sabotaging the war effort by making the widely-admired General Martok go on suicide missions in an attempt to bolster his own popularity. When Worf asks Ezri Dax what she thinks he should do, she tells him that, throughout his lifetime, the Klingon Empire's always been led by unscrupulous men and Worf's always managed to tolerate that until now.
        Ezri: I know this sounds harsh, but the truth is, you have been willing to accept a government that you know is corrupt. Gowron's just the latest example. Worf, you are the most honorable and decent man I've ever met, and if you're willing to tolerate men like Gowron, then what hope is there for the Empire?
    • Star Trek: Voyager: Deconstructed again in "Thirty Days", with another case of Informed Wrongness: Lt. Tom Paris is imprisoned in the brig for violating the Prime Directive, after they meet with representatives of a planet made entirely out of water. Their problem is that their planet is losing its mass from water being ejected into space. It's discovered that their oxygen-mining operations are causing it. When they legitimately ask for help from the Voyager crew, Janeway rejects their pleas, citing the Prime Directive (although the directive has allowed exemptions from people explicitly asking for help). Paris, on the other hand, is less cold-hearted and decides to help by assisting in destroying one of the mining facilities. Unfortunately, Voyager intercepts the torpedo, whereby Janeway demotes Paris and sentences him to 30 days of incarceration in the brig.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise:
      • Deconstructed one last time in "Dear Doctor": Archer cites the Prime Directive, due to evolution causing one race of a pair of sapient species on a planet to die off, yet they have the technology and ability to save this species. What makes this cringe-inducing is that the directive hasn't even been made yet in this point in the series' timeline, so Archer is taking philosophy and morals into his own hands.
      • "In a Mirror, Darkly": Happens with Mirror!Archer, when he reads the future logs of the flung-through-time Constitution-Class U.S.S. Defiant (from "The Tholian Web"), realizing that we here in the Prime!Universe have it pretty good compared to the Mirror!Universe. He shuts the monitor off, which he's reading from, in spiteful disgust.
  • The Wire: Arguably, pretty much the point of the show. Whether it be the police, drug families, the city government, the schools, or the Baltimore Sun, everyone at the top knows the system they belong to is broken, but either they live with it (Burrell, Avon, Donnelly), or they pretend it actually works and force those under them to make it work (Rawls, Royce). Woe to those who try to buck the system (McNulty, Gus), especially if they're an Internal Reformist (Stringer, Colvin).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Imperium is famously in agonizingly slow decline (even Roboute Guilliman thinks it might have been better if Horus had won outright), but they view people who willingly join the Tau as among the worst traitors. Never mind that in some cases the Tau offered their aid to worlds the Imperial Guard had abandoned or that their society holds egalitarian views (Depending on the Writer this is either true or the Tau sterilize their human members to keeps their numbers under control).
    • There are movements trying to organize social reforms for the betterment of the Imperium's lower classes. Unfortunately, most of them get infiltrated and turned into Chaos cults, are Chaos cults to begin with, or Genestealer cults preparing the planet for Tyranid invasion.
    • The Imperium's rigid belief system that forbids a lot of freedoms is unfortunately necessary, as the Chaos gods are empowered not by belief in them but by emotion: feeling rage, hope, despair or desire strengthens them.

  • Hamilton: In "Farmer, Refuted", Hamilton argues with and then mocks a man proclaiming in the street that the revolutionaries should give it all up and trust in the King, in reference to essay arguments the real Hamilton had with a prominent royalist.

    Video Games 
  • This is the MO of many of the antagonists in Dark Souls. The game takes place at the end of the Age of Fire, which started when the First Flame came into existence and served as the source of power for the world's current crop of gods, and is now ending due to the Flame fading. Naturally, the gods and their followers aren't happy about their source of power disappearing and take increasingly desperate measures to prolong the Age of Fire by whatever means necessary, or at least keep the appearance of it up. This includes Gwyndolin, child of the Top God Gwyn, who shrouds Anor Londo, the city of the gods, in an illusion of sunlight and vibrancy, when in reality it is abandoned and covered in eternal night, the Witch of Izalith, who tried to create a replica of the first flame which ended up backfiring horribly, spawning demons and turning her in to the Bed of Chaos, and Gwyn himself, who sacrificed himself to serve as fuel for the first flame to prolong the Age of Fire just a little longer, as well as potentially the player character themselves, who can choose to do the same after putting Gwyn, who also serves as the Final Boss, out of his misery.
  • Elden Ring, similar to Dark Souls above (which were earlier games from the same designer), has some antagonists who wish to prevent you from reforging the titular Elden Ring because doing so would require a cardinal sin against the Golden Order... even though the Elden Ring being shattered is pretty much an apocalypse in slow motion, and nothing will improve without it returning. Not that things were necessarily good even with the Elden Ring and the Golden Order intact, as though they purport to define the laws of nature, they were imposed on the world by an outside force, and are used as justification to persecute beings such as the Omens and the Misbegotten, whom from a fundamentalist perspective do not actually exist. Special mention goes to Morgott, the Omen King, who is both a proponent of the system that reviles and exploits his kind and fights you as two separate bosses (himself and his projection Margit, the Fell Omen) to stop you from completing your quest, despite knowing full well that the source of the Golden Order has forsaken them, the Erdtree is preventing anyone from becoming Elden Lord, and stopping you from burning the Erdtree is just going to lead the Lands Between to a slow death.
  • Tales of Berseria: Eleanor wholeheartedly believes in the Abbey of Innominat's ambitions to improve life for the common people. She clings to these views even once she joins Velvet (under protest) and sees just how ineffective their methods are. Notably, her adherence to the mission statement puts her in direct conflict with the Abbey's leadership, who are planning to take their central creed of The Needs of the Many to insane, hyperbolic lengths and consider her too soft-hearted for considering literally anyone else's feelings on the matter. In the ending, she takes over as Shepherd, and promptly starts a massive reformation to fix the system, even if that buries the Abbey's past atrocities and sees those responsible venerated by history.
  • Fallout: New Vegas: The Mojave chapter of the Brotherhood of Steel adheres slavishly to the Brotherhood's Codex; as such, all of its members are direct descendents of the original Brotherhood, with no outside recruitment. Combined with a strict isolation enforced after their devastaing defeat at HELIOS One, this has left their numbers critically depleted and the chapter has stagnated to the point of near-extinction. In Veronica's companion quest, she tries to prove to Elder McNamara that the Brotherhood's methods are flawed or that they could do better another way; sadly, nothing she shows him can change his mind. This isn't so much fanaticism, as McNamara is well aware that the lockdown is suicidal, but he was given a direct order from the main Brotherhood branch in California during the NCR-Brotherhood war to institute the lockdown, and until the order is lifted, his hands are tied. Unfortunately, there's been no contact with the California Brotherhood for years, and considering how poorly the war was going for them, there might not be anyone left to lift the order, leaving them stuck. Thankfully, there is a win-win option, even if it does require a bit of work. The Courier can organize a local truce between the Mojave Brotherhood and the Hoover Dam NCR, regardless of the relationship between the groups back in California. Thanks to a loophole in the Codex, this allows the Brotherhood to offer some limited assistance to the NCR, and even send troops to help during the Battle For Hoover Dam. It's not a perfect solution, but it's a start.

    Web Original 
  • Stellar Firma: Trexel Geistman is this to a tee in regards to Stellar Firma Ltd. In spite of the company being a hyper-capitalist, barely holding together Techno Dystopia that has forced all of humanity into becoming its permanent "citizen-employees" with numerous draconian laws that regularly painfully kills numerous people, it being made repeatedly clear that, even with him abusing the company's inheritance based management system, he's barely above the clones in the company's standing and him otherwise possessing an absolute disregard for anything remotely resembling law or work ethic. Whilst this is partially down to Steller Firma punishing any hint of dissidence with "gun walls", it's made clear several times that Trexel honestly sees the company's brutal abuses and exploitive nature as not only as a good thing but the only correct way to do business. Multiple times throughout the series David manages to temporarily make him realise how bad the system is (entirely by making him realise it also hurts him) it never sticks. Even after joining David and Hartro's resistance against Stellar Firma he still regularly expresses shock at them questioning company procedure. It's implied Trexel is simply too stupid, insecure, lazy, and intoxicated to ever question the company propaganda.
  • In Farce of the Three Kingdoms, Jiang Wei repeatedly invades Wei despite the fact that a) every mission ends in disaster and b) no one else in Shu, least of all the emperor Liu Shan, really supports this. If he stopped, that would mean admitting either that Shu wasn't the rightful successor of the Han, or that Zhuge Liang's domination plans were unrealistic, and Jiang Wei finds both of these unthinkable.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In Book 2, as Team Avatar travels through Ba Sing Se, they notice that the people live in fear, and all information about the Hundred-Year War is suppressed. Plus, Joo Dee repeatedly outright denies any knowledge of a war taking place. As the trio continue pressing her to be aware of the blatant evidence before her, she eventually and slightly falters in her cheerful demeanor, and is later replaced with a similar body double by the Dai Li. Now remember, now and forever... There is no war in Ba Sing Se.
  • Parodied and played straight in The Simpsons, "Homer Vs. The Eighteenth Amendment": When a Prohibition law enacted 200 years ago is discovered in Springfield's Constitution, alcohol is outlawed. Unfortunately, this causes the same sociopolitical climate of the 1920s to return, with speakeasies and alcohol smuggling cropping up, including Homer, who is at the center of the crime ring, sneaking beer inside of hollow bowling balls through a complex system of pipes leading to Moe's Tavern. When Chief Wiggum is discovered, drunk, in the tavern, he's fired from the police force. When the police are unable to enforce the law, Rex Banner, a parody of Elliot Ness, with a no-nonsense humorless personality, from The Untouchables, is brought in. When Homer's Duff supply runs out, he decides to make his own liquor, which starts failing after a while as well. Chief Wiggum, when found later, begs Homer to let him capture him. Homer agrees, but the punishment for breaking the prohibition law is by expulsion by catapult, out of town. When Marge steps up to try to defend Homer, Banner starts to lecture the town about how the law should not be dictated by popularity (despite how the prohibition law actually caused more problems than it solved, much like the real-life Prohibition of the 1920s.), while not knowing that he's accidentally stepped into the bucket. When Wiggum has had enough, and decides that Banner has started talking out of his ass, he has the catapult launched, expelling Banner. The town clerk then finds that the law was repealed one year later, meaning that all this strife and agony could have been avoided.
  • During the infamous Umbara Arc in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, 501st soldier "Dogma" is constantly shown to support their Jedi General during the campaign, believing the general's plan requires their full cooperation. This despite sending the clones into inefficient human wave attacks that kill them in droves, berating and condescending to every clone soldier without exception, and even being willing to lead a firing squad to execute his comrades for successfully destroying an enemy supply ship because it was against orders.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Priyanka Maheswaran, Connie's mother, was an ardent helicopter parent, closely watching her daughter's activities, and never going back on a rule that she enforces, but it's subverted in that this is only done for her safety, not out of malice. Her strict parenting methods begin to crumble when she discovers that Connie hid Rose Quartz' sword (a safety issue), and Connie needs it to defend from an attack by mutant gem experiments (gem shards forced into fusion) at Beach City Hospital:
      Connie: Mom! I really, really, really need that sword!
      Dr. Maheswaran: Connie, no! Now is not the time!
      [One of the mutants in an outside hallway rams the door]]
      Connie: Now is the perfect time, Mom! [jumps at Dr. Maheswaran, attempting to grab the sword]
      Dr. Maheswaran: Connie! What has gotten into you?! [holds her bag, with the sword in it, out of Connie's reach] You know I never go back on a rule, young lady!
      Connie: There has to be some exceptions! I'm not some... rule-driven robot!
    • The Gem Empire, for thousands of years, lived under the oppressive rule of the Great Diamond Authority; self-expression, self-change, and individuality were harshly punished. Even worse, it wasn't just the denizens of the empire that were oppressed, but also Blue and Yellow Diamond as well. (And by extension, Pink Diamond, who started a war and played both sides to free herself and her expressive bretheren!)
      Yellow Diamond: [to White Diamond] We... W- We... We need to talk!... About us. I've conquered so many worlds for the sake of the empire. I do everything you ask, and I do it all perfectly. But your very high standards put us all under a lot of pressure. A Gem could crack under so much... pressure. We Diamonds may be hard, but we're also... brittle.
  • TRON: Uprising: Paige's an adamant proponent of Clu's regime, but has suffered and been abused regularly by her superiors and peers like Pavel and even admits she despises how brutal Clu's regime is to programs. She also downplays the cruelty of her bosses, despite witnessing their brutality firsthand with evident fear. In a case of Evil Versus Oblivion, she believes that, despite all the dirty business she involves herself in, her actions act for the good of all the Grid compared to the freedom of the ISO which she believes will only lead to even more suffering and the destruction of the entire Grid.