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Heroism Motive Speech

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"Winning? Is that what you think it's about? I'm not trying to win. I'm not doing this because I want to beat someone, or because I hate someone, or because, because I want to blame someone. It's not because it's fun and God knows it's not because it's easy. It's not even because it works, because it hardly ever does. I do what I do because it's right! Because it's decent! And above all, it's kind. It's just that. Just kind."
The Twelfth Doctor, Doctor Who, "The Doctor Falls"

The Hero makes a speech about why they became the hero and/or what being a hero means to them. In a lot of works, the hero's motive speech typically lists having a great desire to help those in need. Losing a loved one or being saved from danger in their younger years is usually what they list as the moment where they had their heart set on being a savior. The reasoning might just be For Great Justice — righteousness and the hero's principles.

The hero might use this speech while training their younger protege, while advising a friend, or as a counter to the villain's Motive Rant.

It doesn't always have to be for a noble cause, though. Some heroes just do it for fun or something fairly simple (To Be a Master is a common one), while darker characters like anti-heroes might be motivated by a grudge or hatred. Knight Templar and Good is Not Nice characters might focus their speeches on wanting to punish evil.

May involve the delivery of the Standard Cop Backstory. May be part of a Badass Creed.

Related to Motive Rant, where the villain talks about what pushed them to villainy in detail.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach: Ichigo tells Ishida about losing his mother, and after seeing his father and sisters suffer as a result, not wanting anyone else to feel the same. He states that he can't save everyone, but wants to protect as many people as he can, which makes Ishida reflect on his grandfather's teachings and accept his offer to fight the Hollows together.
  • Happens at the end of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, when Madoka finally makes her wish to become a magical girl. The whole series up to this point lays out why she should never, ever do this, first because her naive selflessness would put her in danger, and later because this would literally cause a planet-scale apocalypse due to her uncontrollable power turning her into an unstoppable witch. But she realizes that there's a way around the latter problem, allowing her to use her immense power for good, and fulfilling her desire to sacrifice herself to save others:
    Madoka: I wish to erase all witches before they are born. All the witches in all the universes, both past and future. With my own hands! note 
    Kyubey: If a prayer like that were granted, it could unravel the fabric of time itself! It would go against the very force of karmic destiny! Do you truly intend to become a god?
    Madoka: I don't care what I become. All those who have fought against witches, who believed in hope as magical girls... I don't want to see them cry. I want them to be smiling to the very end. If any rule or law stands in the way of that, I will destroy it. I will rewrite it. That is my prayer... my wish. Now, grant my wish, Incubator!

    Fan Works 
  • The End of the World (FernWithy):
    • When Haymitch asks his friend Danny Mellark if he wants to keep smuggling rebel messages after starting a family, Danny replies affirmatively.
    "I used to hate the Games because they could take me. But I'm nothing compared to him." He kisses the baby's head. "I don't just want to hope he doesn't get picked. I want to do everything that I can do to make sure no one's baby gets picked again."
    • When Haymitch asks Ed Mellark about his newfound involvement in the Rebellion, he has an excellent Big Brother Instinct-based speech about why he is taking these chances.
    Ed: They hurt my baby brother. They left him in a pile of mud for days, then made Katniss gamble with his life. Then they tried to get her to murder him because they thought it would be great entertainment to watch two kids who love each other fight to the death. They're rabid and they need to be put down.
  • The Night Unfurls: When Kyril is telling his apprentices Sanakan and Hugh why he took the two of them in, he gives a speech about why he wants to help Eostia's people and fight the Black Dogs.
    Kyril: When I came here, I wanted nothing to do with the war. All I had wanted was to be left alone so I could suffer my memories in solitude. Until I learned what Vault planned for every single man, woman, and child. The women and children slaves and men who resisted his regime dead or dying. Yharnam was dead long before I came here. Eostia is war-torn but she still has a chance for peace.
    Kyril: If I stood by and allowed an evil man to cause harm to a nation that has done nothing to deserve its fate then it is right that I bear the shame of doing nothing. I won't stand by and do nothing in Eostia. I will fight no matter the cost, so that others may live in peace. And when I do, maybe I shall finally lay down my blades and fade away.
    Kyril: Perhaps I came here for a change. Perhaps I decided to lend my strength to those who needed it. But either way, I am your mentor and you are my students. I wish to give you power so you can do good.
  • Star Wars vs Warhammer 40K: Kombirr gives one to his mother in response to her initially refusing to let him and his father join the Axum Resistance to fight the Imperials occupying their world because she's afraid they might get themselves killed.
    Kombirr: This...this Imperium, what they are doing... If we let it go on, if we don't fight or draw a line or something... then things will NEVER get better! The burden will never get lighter, and I'll never be able to stop mourning all the people we lose, until you're mourning me instead.
    Vinorra: Kombirr, no...
    Kombirr: No what mom? We all die, life does not go on forever. You taught me that the reason we fight, the reason we keep the shrines and honor the fallen, is because the goal of the fight is freedom. Because the goal is justice. I know that this latest war has been cloudy, that it has been hard to see right from wrong between the Republic and the Confederacy. But this is no longer that same war. And if we choose not to fight, not to give everything we have, we will be dishonoring all the fallen we claim to care about. What good are the shrines to our honored dead, if we have no honor? If the causes they fought and died for...died here? Isn't that a truer death than the ones they have already suffered? Wouldn't doing that...make me worthless in their eyes?
  • The Victors Project: Cashmere makes an angsty speech when offering her support to the Rebellion after Beetee questions her motives.
    Cashmere: My brother is dead, they killed him. My parents when they sent us to that … that place. Luster. The DAEYD. The Gamemakers. Snow. They ruined the only person who ever loved me. They murdered my father. They buy and sell my district. Every year they send another pretty thing like me into the arena, and I have to smile and teach her to poise and laugh and kill even as I pray that the Twos murder her early. They have taken everything, and I will tear them down with my bare, bloody hands if I have to!
  • We Must Be Killers: Claudius gets a preemptive motive speech in Fixed to a Star, almost a decade before he officially becomes a rebel. He tells Lyme that the Capitol does nothing but evilly exploit them, and that someday they will do something to destroy even Lyme's My Country, Right or Wrong sense of loyalty, and once they go that far, then he wants to be with Lyme when she retaliates.
    Claudius: They ask, we give, and they take, that's the way it goes. But they just keep asking and just keep taking, and one day they'll take something you didn't want to give. Something so bad it's worse than marching kids to their deaths every year. One day you're going to walk away. Take me with you.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Gwen gives an impassioned one to her father months after coming clean and revealing her secret identity.
    Gwen: You're a good cop, Dad. You know you put on that badge because you know that if you don't, someone who shouldn't will. But... you have to understand: (Holds up her mask) this mask is my badge! And I'm trying to be good too. I was trying so hard to wear this thing the way you would want... and I didn't! I didn't! I can do all of these things, but I can't help the people I love the most and they can only know half of who I am, so I— I'm completely on my own! And now, I don't— I don't even know what the right thing is anymore. I don't know what I'm supposed to do, but I know... I can't lose one more friend.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: At Clark's funeral in Smallville, Bruce has a conversation with Diana about how badly he screwed up, and wants to change things and do better. He talks of bringing together the other metahumans and Diana says they don't want to be found, explaining that she gave up on humanity a long time ago. Bruce asserts that "Men are still good." and they can do better.
  • In Hot Fuzz, when Danny finally gets Nicholas to open up to him, Nicholas reveals that his obsession with being a model police officer was inspired by his uncle Derek's (who was also a policeman) gift of a police pedal car when Nicholas was five years old. Even when Derek was later imprisoned for selling drugs, Nicholas' desire to uphold law and order only grew stronger.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the episode "45-year-old new bodyguard!! Protect the lives of 20,000 spectators" in BG: Personal Bodyguard, Akira Shimazaki was back to doing his work as a private security bodyguard contractor, after being reassigned to do Traffic Guard work from 2012 to 2018 from a Noodle Incident, when he subdued a reporter from a local magazine for trying to kill Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Aiko Tachihara. While Tokyo Metropolitan Police Security Bureau officer Yosuke Ochiai of the Security Police Division speaks to him, he can't help but mention that civilians like him are involved in close protection work. Shimazaki's speech serves as subtle foreshadowing of the growing rivalry between the TMPD and Hinode Security Service in the close protection realm. It also serves as Shimazaki's motivation for why he's involved.
    Ochiai: I don't approve of civilians doing personal security. Money can't protect people. This is no place for yojimbos.
    Shimazaki: Do you know the meaning of yojimbo?
    [Ochiai stares]
    Shimazaki: Powerful servants employed by samurais and the mafia to finish off their enemies. That isn't the original meaning.
    [Shimazaki takes traffic cone bar from safety cone]
    Shimazaki: Using a polenote  to defendnote  themselves from an adversary... that's where the name comes from.
    Ochiai: So what?
    Shimazaki: If it wasn't for you guys [SPs] and your guns, he [the suspect] wouldn't have taken out his knife. By being unarmed and using only a pole... No.
    [Shimazaki opens his suit jacket to show his white dress shirt and necktie only]
    Shimazaki: It's because we're unarmed that we can protect people. Don't you think?
    Ochiai: [laughs] Must be nice. Doing and saying what you like as a civilian.
    Shimazaki: I'm sorry. That was self-important of me.
  • In "Community", this speech is very much a staple of every episode (usually done near the end of the episode). It is even referenced in-universe as "Winger Speech", named after the main character of the show, Jeff Winger. It is sometimes Played for Laughs, like when Jeff tries to convince Troy to join Greendale Community College's Football team and when he gave another speech to convince Troy to NOT join the team (much to the chagrin of the other players).

  • Kane Series story "Cold Light" introduces Knight Templar Lord Gaethaa, aka "The Crusader", who was born as an aristocrat but got tired of his pampered life and decided to devote his life and resources to fighting evil. He delivers his speech to citizens of plague-wracked Sebbei — and it falls flat, as they have already crossed the Despair Event Horizon and only want to be left alone.
    I have made it my mission in life to hunt down and destroy the agents of evil who bring death and deprivation to the helpless! Too long has evil held sway over our lives - too long have the creatures of evil run unchecked among mankind! Evil has ruled the lives of men with the consuming might of merciless force - and mankind has had to bow to its terror or else be destroyed! But I have sworn to destroy the servants of evil wherever they hold mankind in thrall!
  • Spells, Swords, & Stealth: Throughout the books, the ex-PC knight Timuscor has desired to be a paladin. He has the potential, and good instincts for the role, but is hampered by an unwillingness to fully devote himself to any god who might grant him the mantle and an incomplete understanding of what being a paladin truly means. For a while, he's a Martyr Without a Cause, determined at least to die like a paladin if he can't otherwise be one. The climax of the fourth book, Siege Tactics, sees Timuscor finally understand the true meaning of paladinhood, enabling him to become a Free Paladin, a paladin with all the divine powers without owing allegiance to any god. As he explains to the enemy his party is fighting:
    But I have the strength to stand here, to face you. That's all the calling ever was, really. We put so much ceremony and divine law on it, yet at the end of the day, it is simply the will to stand between the innocent and the wicked. And anyone can choose to make that stand. My failing was in seeing the calling as something to die for, rather than a cause that must drive one to keep living. One cannot make an oath without both conviction and understanding. ... I pledge my sword to the innocent in need. I shall serve the kind, and the weak, and all who seek to live in peace. For so long as I live, I will strive to protect, to save, to endure. My name is Timuscor, and I am a paladin.

  • Red Panda Adventures:
    • In "Red Panda: Dead or Alive", the Red Panda explains to Kit that he initially became a crime fighter on a lark, for something to do. As he trained to do so, as he became a beacon of hope for the people of Toronto, the Red Panda discovered that Good Feels Good, and, more and more, became a hero for the sake of others as much as himself and reached a point where he regarded his civilian self as a Secret-Identity Identity.
      When I started this, it was a lark. A thing to do to see if I could. The training, the equipment... then I started to make a real difference. I started doing more real good than I'd have ever done if I lived my other life a thousand times over. It became who I am. The spoiled rich boy became more thin character sketch than a person. I couldn't be him again if I wanted to.
    • "The Rookie" features the Red Panda trying to discover the reasons young Flying Brick Mr. Amazing has been rejected for the Allied Super Services and the home-based Danger Federation when heroes with less reliable powers are actively recruited. He discovers that Mr. Amazing's powers are finite, meaning his superpowers will eventually run out and, when that happens, he will die. When the Red Panda tries to convince Mr. Amazing to give up superheroics Mr. Amazing reveals he's had much the same Good Feels Good epiphany the Red Panda did, and would rather be a hero for a week than not be one and reach old age. The Red Panda respects this decision and makes Mr. Amazing one of the few heroes he'll allow to operate in his city.
      It was in that girl's eyes when she saw daylight again. It was in her mother's tears, and the expression on the face of every man and woman there. They felt their lives touched by a miracle. And every single one of them will have hope in their hearts that they didn't have before. If I can do that for a week, a month, a year... and I choose not to so I can live to be a hundred? No. Not me, buster.

    Video Games 
  • Mega Man ZX Advent: After Grey/Ashe have a fight with previous playable protagonists Aile/Vent and clear up their misunderstandings, they ask why they're fighting the villains and Model W. Aile/Vent briefly explain that, much like them, they were dragged into the fight and they lost many close people in the fights with Mavericks and Model Ws. Grey/Ashe therefore initially think it's about revenge, but Aile/Vent set the record straight and provide a bit of wisdom about their juniors' reasons for fighting.
    Aile: No... I just don't want anymore people to suffer like I have. So I decided to destroy all Model Ws in order to put an end to the Game of Destiny. I decided to become a Mega Man because I wanted to help people. You're fighting because you're trying to find out who you are, but don't forget. Only you can decide your own destiny. No matter what anyone says you are. The power you contain within is the key to creating your future. That's what a special person said to me.
    Grey: My destiny... My future.
    Vent: No. You can't defeat an enemy with hate... You just make more enemies. I want to use my power for something I believe in. That's why I made that promise to my friends, to be the Mega Man that protects them. Mega Man power is strong. Strong enough to change the world. But, there's one thing it can't change... that is our own destiny. You have to use your own power to do that. Ashe... Don't lose yourself in the power.
    Ashe: How can you even say that and keep a straight face... But I like that... Those are good words to live by.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog's speech is short and to the point before his final fight with Shadow in Sonic Adventure 2.
    Sonic: What you see is what you get. Just a guy who loves adventure. I'm Sonic the Hedgehog!
    • He makes a similarly succinct-but-powerful speech when he refuses to retreat from the true villain of Sonic and the Black Knight:
    Sonic: It was never about chivalry for me! I’ve just gotta do what I’ve gotta do! That’s all!
  • Resident Evil 2 (Remake): After failing to help the owner of the Gun Shop Kendo and his zombie-bitten daughter, Leon rants to Ada that he wants to find out whatever caused the virus outbreak in Raccoon City to satisfy his motive for becoming a policeman in the first place.
    Leon: I want to find out what's happening here. And stop whoever's behind it. Helping people like them... that's why I joined the force.
    Ada: My mission is to take down Umbrella's entire operation. We may not make it out.
    Leon: Whatever it takes to save this city... count me in.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Near the end of the last case in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All, after discovering that his client is guilty, Phoenix begins to question what it means to be a lawyer. Edgeworth reveals what he learned in his time overseas. It's not about "winning", it's about revealing the truth.
      Edgeworth: We prosecutors use anything we can to attack the defendant. But [...] It doesn't matter how many underhanded tricks a person uses... the truth will always find a way to make itself known. The only thing we can do is to fight with the knowledge we hold and everything we have. Erasing the paradoxes one by one... it's never easy... we claw and scratch for every inch. But we will always eventually reach that one single truth. This I promise you. That's the reason why prosecutors and defense lawyers exist.
    • After the Big Bad's Villainous Breakdown in the final case of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, there is some surprisingly poignant words from Klavier Gavin and the Judge about the nature of the law, given that the two of them are a Bunny-Ears Lawyer and a Cloud Cuckoolander. While the Big Bad believes "the law is absolute" and needed to protect the "ignorant masses" from themselves, Klavier and the Judge point out that the law is not absolute, full of contradictions that inadvertently help criminals, and is constantly changing as a reflection of human morals, and that it is thus the job of lawmakers and defenders to nurture it over time.
      The Judge: The law is the end product of many years of history... the fruit of human knowledge! Like a gem, polished to a gleam through trials... and errors. It is this fruit we receive, and pass on, and face in our time. And it is always changing, growing. Nurturing it is our task as human beings.
    • In the final case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, as Phoenix, Apollo, and Athena deliver the final key piece of evidence that proves identity of the culprit, they also deliver a lecture about the power of trust that punches a hole in the villain's unemotional facade and prompts a massive Villainous Breakdown.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Ruby Rose talks to her friend Blake about how she was inspired by stories and fairy tales of heroes and grew up wanting to become just like those heroes of legend.
    Ruby: I love books. Yang used to read to me every night before bed. Stories of heroes and monsters... They're one of the reasons I want to be a Huntress!
    Blake: And why is that? Hoping you'll live happily ever after?
    Ruby: Well, I'm hoping we all will. As a girl, I wanted to be just like those heroes in the books... Someone who fought for what was right, and protected people who couldn't protect themselves!

    Web Videos 
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: Parodied with Captain Hammer's song "Everyone's A Hero," where he gives a speech about how being a superhero is all based in philanthropy, except he's both incredibly narcissistic about how cool it is to be a real superhero and incredibly insensitive towards the people he's supposedly helping (particularly Penny).

    Western Animation 
  • During a Flashback in the SWAT Kats episode "The Wrath of Dark Kat", Jake Clawson and Chance Furlong are kicked off the Enforcers because of an incident involving Big Bad Dark Kat, then forced to work in a salvage yard. However, this causes them to have an epiphany that leads to their becoming the SWAT Kats.
    Jake: Hey, y’know, Chance, there’s enough military salvage here to build our own jet.
    Chance: And do what?
    Jake: Get back in the air and get back at Dark Kat! And all the other criminal scum who rear their ugly heads in Megakat City. Only this time, we do it our way!
    Chance: Well, what are we waitin’ for, buddy?

Alternative Title(s): Heroism Motivation Speech