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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 the former 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:

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 losing 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 
  • Attack on Titan: Lord Rod Reiss firmly believes that the lands within the Walls must be ruled by a member of the Reiss family line, despite how he is implied to be an Authority in Name Only and no progress has been made at all against the titans.
  • Code Geass: Suzaku is this despite trying to be an Internal Reformist - while he does acknowledge that Britannia is corrupt and should be fixed, he still keeps supporting it despite the increasing amounts of atrocities said empire commits. This is his main Fatal Flaw, as he can't recognize that Britannia is fundamentally broken and needs to be destroyed as is in order for actual reforms to take place.
  • Most of the staff members introduced in Death Parade seem fairly ambivalent towards their job and the system they work under to the point that questioning it at all is unbelievable. They know that what they do is intentionally bringing out the worst in people to judge their ultimate fate, but they simply don't care. Then there's Ginti, who genuinely enjoys his job and his position, so much so that the only time he smiles is when he's going all out and nearly torturing his human guests.
  • When most characters in Psycho-Pass discover the Awful Truth about the Sibyl System, they either reject it completely or accept it begrudgingly. In season 2, when Mika Shimotsuki is told about how the system is really operated in a Secret Test of Character, she claps and laughs and praises it, accepting it wholeheartedly without question and even sells out her partner to become the "ideal member of society."

    Comic Books 
  • Judge Dredd: The original comic book version of Dredd is somewhat Downplayed compared to the first movie version, as Dredd acknowledges the flaws in the system, especially after the Democracy arc that eventually results in him outright resigning and heading into the Cursed Earth, leading to the Dead Man and Necropolis disasters. However, as shown in Origins, even after being outright told by Eustace Fargo, his clone father and the creator of the Judge system, that the whole thing was an emergency measure that wasn't meant to last forever, Dredd still supports it, considering the Judges Necessarily Evil, and the alternative is mass chaos. It's also shown as a good deal of hypocrisy on Dredd's part, as he knows reforms are desperately needed, but constantly refuses promotions that would allow him to institute these changes, just because he hates bureaucracy and wants to remain on the streets, making change even more unlikely.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): King Maximillian Acorn is The Good King, but also a staunch traditionalist determined to maintain the power of the monarchy in the Kingdom of Acorn during a time where it seems to be transitioning unstoppably into a republic. His desperation to maintain the old ways, open resentment of the growing desire for democracy, and worsening physical and mental health as a result of a traumatic poisoning all end up causing a great deal of trouble when he coerces Sonic and Geoffrey into acquiring the purple Chaos Emerald for him to use, unaware that Geoffrey is The Mole for Max's old rival Ixis Naugus.

    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 II, 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). The Soviets are approaching Berlin, and even if by some miracle they're held off, that just means that the Western Allies (Britain, France, the US and others) will do it instead. The Allied Powers won't accept anything short of unconditional surrender, and Hitler's power is effectively limited to the Führerbunker simply because there are so few troops left outside for him to command. At this point, the elephant in the room that all of the Nazis are desperately trying to ignore is that it's not if they'll lose the war, but when they'll lose. And yet, most of the Nazis remain fanatically devoted to Hitler and his bitterly racist ideology to the end, to the point of committing suicide rather than surrendering to the Allies or the Soviets.
  • A Few Good Men: Marine Pvt. William Santiago is killed in a hazing incident after two others are sent to his barrack to toughen him up. Santiago's commanding officer, Col. Nathaniel Jessup, claims he ordered that Santiago was not to be touched by any Marine to ensure his safety, and that he was supposed to be transferred to another unit the next day to keep him out of trouble. During the court martial, Lt. Daniel Kaffee, the prosecuting lawyer, discovers contradictions in Jessup's testimony — if Jessup ordered that Santiago was not to be touched, why was Santiago being transferred for his safety? Furthermore, if Santiago was set to be transferred, why were his belongings not packed and prepared the night before he was supposed to leave? 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 both the Republic and the Jedi Order itself are badly in need of reforms, but believe it's still possible to fix things as Internal Reformists — despite the events of The Phantom Menace, where a MegaCorp 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 MegaCorp; and the man secretly Running Both Sides "ensured" the Republic's lack of response. The Jedi have no such excuse, a fact which drives one Anakin Skywalker further into said manipulator's arms.

  • 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.
  • Fate of the Jedi: Jedi Master Kenth Hamner was a New Republic/Galactic Alliance soldier before he retired to be a Jedi, and still feels a deeply intense patriotism for it. This patriotism becomes increasingly damaging and unreasonable as the Alliance — now under the control of the demagogic Natasi Daala — slowly turns into a corrupt and failing Police State determined to stamp out the Jedi, yet Hamner maintains his loyalty to his nation out of a sense of hidebound honor. The internal conflict of trying to make peace between Daala's regime and the Jedi, coupled with his own Inferiority Superiority Complex, eventually drive him mad.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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 psychopathic 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.
  • This shows up several times in Babylon 5. Psi Cop Alfred Bester keeps extolling the virtues of Psi Corps 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. The Vorlons and the Shadows continue to ask the same Armor Piercing Questions to the younger races, even though they can no longer answer them.
  • Doctor Who: The snooty, arrogant, foppish, boot-licking, and completely disconnected character of Gatherer Hade from "The Sun Makers", to a tee. Hade presides over a Nightmarish Factory of a planet where everything from medicine to breathing the air is subject to an ever-increasing tax and heavy fines for ostensible offenses such as 'loitering'. When the Doctor and Leela spearhead a rebellion, the mysterious Collector 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! Though Hade exclaims in protest, he fails to reject the system, and instead attempts to capture the Doctor himself to keep his pocketbook safe. As an accessory to oppression, Hade exits the story via several-kilometer drop off a skyscraper when trying to stop the rebels from loitering in the sun. 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.
  • The Dropout: Over the course of the series, Elizabeth becomes an embodiment of all the worst stereotypes surrounding Silicon Valley: overly ambitious to the point of acting sociopathic, telling Blatant Lies to prospective investors to trick them into backing her, constantly attempting to circumvent safeguards, and ready to sacrifice her own relationships and health in the name of potentially boosting her career. She refuses to see anything wrong with any of this.
  • 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.
  • The Orville: In "Majority Rule", the Orville visits a planet where two anthropologists have gone missing. They are found lobotomized, courtesy of the local justice system. All punishment and societal decisions are managed through public opinion/absolute democracy (upvotes and downvotes). This system is the only thing keeping this society alive, and no one has questioned the problems inherent in it out of fear that dissent could ruin their lives. After John LaMarr is recorded performing a dirty dance on a statue of a historical public figure, he is ostracized by the entire planet and forced onto an apology tour. The tour goes disastrously as no amount of apology or attempts to be friendly have any effect in mitigating the public's anger, with some attempts even being maliciously interpreted as 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 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. 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, with predictably explosive results.
      • "A Taste of Armageddon": Two planets have been engaged in a very unique form of war for 500 years; The war is conducted entirely by simulation, with the projected casualties being euthanized as part of a treaty to protect critical infrastructure and culture. Anan 7, one of the planetary leaders, dislikes the system for taking his wife but dogmatizes it anyway because he views this system as critical to peace on both worlds. The dogmatism even extends to the population, who dutifully march to their deaths without question. Kirk and Spock eventually destroy the war computers, with Kirk delivering a Patrick Stewart Speech on how war is supposed to be Hell, and the simulations have allowed war to be so sanitized that nobody sees a reason to stop it.
        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, as this is a (computer) system that is literally broken. Nomad, a probe launched from Earth in the (then-futuristic) 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 sterilizes 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 Bomb, whereupon 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. 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:
      • Mixed in with Apathy Killed the Cat in "When the Bough Breaks": 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' technology, allowing their culture to stagnate while their scientists forgot everything about how it all worked. Unfortunately, it turns out the cloaking device they've used to hide from the universe has been slowly depleting the ozone layer. The inciting incident of the episode, a mass-kidnapping of children from the Enterprise, turns out to be in response to a Sterility Plague brought on by acute ultraviolet radiation sickness. When Radue, the leader of Aldea, is confronted with Dr. Crusher's explanation, he refuses to believe her, claiming their scientists would have told them if something had gone wrong. When his wife Rashella 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.
      • 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": The planetary government of Angosia III, which is trying to apply for Federation Membership, turns out to be abusing its war veterans. They are trained, medicated, and essentially programmed to be the perfect soldier, but because they could not reintegrate into peacetime society thanks to their programming being too easily triggered, the government shut them away in facilities with all the amenities one could ever want while claiming to be working on a cure. The government is adamant on sustaining this incarceration system and keeping the soldiers away from their families, claiming over and over that “It was the will of the people”. When the events of the episode lead to the soldiers arriving and demanding a return to their lives, the Prime Minister says they will consider it if they return to the complex. They reject his offer, and in a brazen act of hypocrisy, the Minister asks Picard for help, to which Picard responds "In your own words, this is not our affair" and takes his leave of them.
      • Subverted in "Who Watches the Watchers?" in that this belief system had no real legitimate basis before it even hit the ground: When Federation technology malfunctions on the Bronze-Age planet Mintaka III, a local by the name of Liko is seriously injured and Dr. Crusher instinctively brings him aboard the Enterprise to save his life. When Liko awakens on the Enterprise, he becomes convinced that he has been resurrected by the gods and brings this new religion to his people when his memory-wipe fails to take hold. With no other options left, Picard brings another Mintakan named Nuria aboard to reveal the Federation's true nature to the Mintakans. Liko remains fanatically devoted to his new perspective, interpreting harsh weather as punishment from "the Picard" and, when Picard beams down to try and clear everything up, begging him to bring back his dead wife. Unwilling to hear Nuria's arguments, Liko tries to "prove" Picard’s godhood with his bow and arrow, and it’s not until he sees Picard's blood on Nuria’s fingers that he snaps out of it.
      • Deconstructed again 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:
    • Star Trek: Voyager: Deconstructed again in "Thirty Days": 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, whereupon 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.
      • "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.
    • Star Trek: Picard: One that reaches back to Deep Space Nine and Enterprise (and by implication, Star Trek: Insurrection): The proponents who run or are agents of Section 31, a State Sec of the Federation, dogmatize the use of the authority, claiming that a utopia such as the Federation could not exist without someone under the covers doing what others would consider immoral or "evil" in the name of said peace and prosperity. Unfortunately, this comes back to bite the Federation in the ass when it's revealed that despite a peace being brokered with the Changelings who spearheaded the Dominion War in DS9, a rogue faction of Changelings split off to infiltrate Starfleet. This was done in revenge for a "mutagenic virus" that Section 31 had released into the Changelings' Great Link, which would eventually cause them to lose their cohesion and die; graphically demonstrated when Odo started to lose his cohesion in "When It Rains...". Even worse, in Picard, the Changelings were in collaboration with the Borg, the Queen of which started to change her assimilation tactics, through revenge note  by genetic infiltration, using the late biological-Captain-Picard's corpse to spread a receiver gene through Federation transporter use, which would activate and assimilate upon reception of a specific Borg signal.
  • 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).

    Multiple Media 
  • Star Wars Legends: Several Imperial characters insist that the Empire's cruelty was simply the result of a few bad apples, and without them things would work out fine. Never mind that it was a totalitarian, humancentric empire, and much of that attitude pervades even when the worst apples have been removed. Even Pallaeon, one of the few Sane Men in their leadership, is determined to keep the empire afloat rather than allowing it to dissolve.

    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 keep 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 are Genestealer cults preparing the planet for Tyranid invasion.
    • The Imperium's repressiveness is an attempt to avoid feeding the Chaos Gods, who feed on the emotions of rage, hope, despair and indulgence. Unfortunately for the Imperium, this doesn't work because the Imperium's system inspires all four in different groups - it's hard not to despair when your entire family is being worked to death for the benefit of distant aristocrats you will never even see, after all. It's been said that every planet in the Imperium, including Terra itself, harbours some Chaos cult activity.
    • The Amalathian faction of Inquisitors, while a Token Good Teammate in terms of how they interact with other Imperial authorities (i.e. they'll ask politely for your help, but you still have to say yes), oppose all significant reform efforts, at times violently, and are considered among the Puritan factions. Meanwhile, the idea that it might be best to relax the rule on committing genocide on all aliens and work with the Aeldari and T'au until the apocalypse daemons are contained is considered dangerously Radical, on par with using Black Magic.
  • The World of Darkness:
    • Werewolf: The Apocalypse: The Garou were created by Gaia to serve as her warriors against the deprivations of the Wyrm. Unfortunately, the Garou's zeal and devotion led them to make things worse. When human populations got so large that they posed a real threat if the Wyrm corrupted them, the Garou triggered the Impergium, a mass cull meant to keep humanity in check. This only ended after millennia of suffering when the Garou realized it was only making things worse, and by that time, the genetic memory of humanity saw their true forms as a source of primordial terror, denying them potential allies. Then came the War of Rage, where they targeted other shapeshifters who they saw as unwilling to share their own proprietary magics for the war effort; this resulted in the extinction of three breeds and the general alienation of the rest. By the present day, the Garou Nation knows they fucked up immensely, but the only thing they can do is fight the Wyrm to the last. In Revised and 20th Anniversary Edition, the goal of your player characters is to convince the Nation that there's another way to win the war; by the time of 5th Edition, however, the Nation has collapsed under its own weight, and your characters are effectively left to find a new way forward on your own.
    • Wraith: The Oblivion: The Dark Kingdom of Stygia was created to try and stem the emergence of Oblivion, providing a shelter for souls who suddenly found new difficulties in trying to pass on from the Shadowlands to what comes next. It has since become a fascist dictatorship of the dead on an eternal war footing where "worthless" souls are forged to make anything from armor to currency and Transcendence, the only real way out, has been painted as superstitious poppycock on the grounds that it would deny Stygia soldiers. Given the influence of Shadows, it is eternally reliant on the aid of Pardoners, who themselves are taking ever-mounting shortcuts to try to offload The Corruption, one of which literally blows up in their faces in the Ends of Empire endgame, basically dooming Stygia.

  • 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 
  • Arcanum: Cumbria has a strict ban on technology even though its Elite Army of knights was decimated by Tarantian conscripts with guns decades ago. Its capital Dernholm has fallen into ruin, but still the king hangs on to the advice of its mages while the town of Black Root (nominally part of Cumbria) is considering putting itself under Tarant's protection.
  • 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 "unnatural" beings such as the Omens and the Misbegotten (who are in truth throwbacks to the kind of life that existed before the Elden Ring). 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.
  • Fallout: Based on surviving pre-War records, documents and recordings, this appears to have been the mindset of the average civilian by the time the Great War broke out; as the United States plunged deeper and deeper into a hypercapitalist dystopia overrun with Red Scare propaganda, people increasingly clung to Patriotic Fervor and nationalist sentiment to cope, convincing themselves that the spiraling oppression and dismantling of civil rights was all in the cause of liberty and freedom rather than the destruction of it. Anyone who tried to protest or change anything were either arrested under very dubious charges, "disappeared" or just shunned by family and friends for daring to be so un-American.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Tales of Vesperia: Flynn Scifo is a lawful and honorable knight. He officially represents the Empire across the world as he investigates the various conspiracies piling up around him. Though he and Yuri are close, their contrasting world views can bring them into conflict when Yuri sees various criminals using the law as a shield to be Karma Houdinis. Flynn believes that the system must be changed lawfully, and his Goal in Life is to rise up the ranks high enough to start enacting the change that he wants to see in the world, Meanwhile, Yuri argues that Murder Is the Best Solution when dealing with people who exploit loopholes in the law and simply won't be dealt with in any other way. Indeed, Yuri kills two minor antagonists, the first after he uses the laws of his country to escape with basically a slap on the wrist, and the second after it was clear that nobody with power was going to do anything but turn a blind eye. Part of Flynn's Character Development is the realization that he's been Lawful Stupid in regards to wanting reforms without any sort of fuss, and this in turn has allowed those higher up the chain to manipulate Flynn into doing what they want.
  • The Talos Principle 2: Mayor Hermanubis is a supporter of isolationism, believing the Founder intended for new humans to remain in New Jerusalem and cause no harm to the outside world. He discourages exploration despite it being clear that the city is running out of resources, but allows Byron's expedition to confirm if the Megastructure is a threat or not, as long as they don't pursue its technology. Near the end he admits he values everyone's safety even if he has to be the contrarian and wouldn't mind if he doesn't win the next election.
  • Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider takes place in Penrai, a nation under an authoritarian government that overthrew their predecessors in a "Golden Revolution". Even though this government is a brutal totalitarian dystopia where the common man is oppressed, their enforcer Shinjen still loyally serves them against his code of honor; according to him, the old regime was even worse and he's become so broken down that he genuinely believes that it's better to maintain a marginally better society than risk a second revolution taking things back to those days. He means well in doing this, but his views on the matter are clouded by him being past the Despair Event Horizon and personal bias (his beloved wife was killed in the Golden Revolution, leaving him with a dim view of rebellion in general).
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3: The antagonists, Mobius, directly embody this trope. Literally, as it turns out. They wish to perpetuate "the endless now" via a Forever War where Child Soldiers are constantly created, killed and reincarnated, their life force harvested to perpetuate Mobius' existence. They perpetuate this stagnation despite the Annihilation Events heavily implying the world of Aionios is literally falling apart at the seams. Their leader, Z, is actually a being born from humanity's collective fear of the future, which hijacked an attempt at merging the world of Xenoblade 1 and Xenoblade 2 to create an unnatural, flawed fusion. After defeating him, the worlds separate again, but the epilogue of the DLC implies the worlds will later fuse in a more natural, healthy way.

    Web Original 
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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.
  • In Hazbin Hotel, Sera the High Seraphim understands, on some level, that the system of Divine Judgement which puts angels into Heaven and demons into Hell is flawed, and that the Extermination plan is inherently unfair to the Sinners. But at the same time, Sera refuses to question it or stop the Exterminations. It doesn’t matter if Sinners like Angel Dust can be redeemed or monsters like Adam were made angels; as far as Sera is concerned, whatever criteria is used to sort souls into Heaven or Hell is infallible and unchangeable, even if she doesn't know what those standards are. Sera's speech to Emily in the episode "Welcome to Heaven" reveals that Sera fears that any angels who question the system will end up as Fallen Angels like Lucifer. So Sera not only doesn't question it, but she prevents anyone else from questioning it either.
  • 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, with Homer at the center of the crime ring. When Chief Wiggum is discovered drunk in the tavern, he's fired from the police force, and when the police are unable to enforce the law, Rex Banner (an Expy of Elliot Ness) is brought in. This blind devotion to the law only becomes more absurd when Homer's capture reveals the punishment for breaking prohibition is exile by catapult. 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, ignoring both how this law has caused infinitely more problems than it solved and that he's stepped into the catapult bucket. When Wiggum has had enough, he launches Banner out of town. The town clerk then finds that the law was repealed one year after it was passed, 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, two of the empire's leaders, as well. (And by extension, Pink Diamond, who started a war and played both sides to free herself and her expressive brethren!)
      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.