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Impartial Purpose-Driven Faction

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"This is being broadcasted on all radio frequencies in five languages. We do not wish to be involved in politics or cultural exchange. We only wish to trade. For every 1000 kg of limestone, we shall provide you with one of our technological productions. We shall not discriminate between nationality, ethnicity, ideology, or any other discriminator. We offer these terms of exchange impartially, and equally, to all of humanity."
The Peddlers' First Contact message, Obsolete

An organization whose non-political purpose takes complete precedence over power-plays and diplomacy. Where most factions are interested in increasing their power by building alliances, the Code of Honour of these people mandates to either avoid contact with others completely or accept any help unconditionally without taking any obligations. Their neutrality is often safeguarded by their purpose being beneficial to everyone in long term.

Said neutrality often doesn't sit well with other factions' leaders, who will try to put "nobody's" resources to their own use (especially if its members are trained in some Secret Art). The conflict commonly arises when members of the organization are manipulated or forced into breaking their neutrality, which ultimately leads to its downfall. Such conflict may be a sign that their purpose is no longer taken seriously.

In Dark Fantasy, this organization often takes form of The Order whose superhumanly enhanced members defend Puny Humans from monsters. Although "Thou Shalt Not Kill (Humans)" may be included in the Code to enforce Pro Human Transhumanism or at least stave off Transhuman Treachery, Fantastic Racism often plays a role in the interaction between regular humans and their Not Quite Human defenders, especially if the transformation makes them half-monster/Half-Human Hybrids, gives them a Superpowered Evil Side, or infects them with The Corruption. Attempts to exploit them as a sub-human shock troops and outright Superhuman Trafficking may be common dangers.

Odd Job Gods and their followers occasionally fall under this. The Ancient Order of Protectors may also fall into as they will attempt to ward off anyone who gets too close to what they're protecting, regardless of which side they're on. Fantastical Social Services, when they exist, typically present themselves this way as well.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Claymore: The eponymous warriors were created to fight the demonic yoma, and are forbidden from getting involved in human affairs and even wield their blades against baseline humans. Clare's Origins Arc is rooted in this prohibition, since her mother-figure Theresa killed a bandit to protect Clare and was, in turn, slain by fellow Claymores for breaking the rule, motivating Clare to become a Claymore herself.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: Dragons in the Spectator faction eschew the Order vs Chaos war that defines their kin in favor of just being left alone, with the trade-off being that they can never get involved even if they have a personal stake in the fight. This is the reason why Lucoa never assists Tohru in any of her battles despite being the most powerful of the cast by a wide margin (the one time she did seemingly break this rule, it was solely because a third party was manipulating both sides).
  • Obsolete: The Peddlers are an alien race that have set up shop on the dark side of the moon, operate as The Ghost, and are completely uninterested in any non-business entanglements with the human race. To anyone willing to trade a thousand kilograms of limestone, they will send down a UFO, pick up the limestone and drop off a slightly used Motion-Capture Mini-Mecha with no questions asked, and that is it. While several characters question exactly what it is the Peddlers get out of the transaction, no-one questions that they seem completely genuine in not caring who they trade to and why.

  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: The Avengers start out as this and try their best to maintain it, having no political aspirations and no goals other than defending Earth from extraordinary threats. After a while, however, the realities of operating an international superhero team, a string of tragic incidents, an increase in government scrutiny, and personal issues within the group lead to the breakdown of their neutrality, culminating in the team being fractured by internal political disputes.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Jedi Order wants to be this, and sometimes manages it. Most ages of peace and prosperity occur when the Jedi are completely neutral, refusing to take political sides (usually acting as mediators in conflicts) except against any enemy using the Dark Side of the Force. However, they are often drawn into conflicts in both the movies and the EU. The movies present the worst-case scenario of this, resulting in the functional destruction of the Jedi Order. The EU tends to do three things to them when they get involved in politics; massively knock down their numbers to a mere fraction of what they were, push them back to their positions of neutrality and semi-religious protection against the Dark Side, and then proceed to become very conservative, controlling as much of the order as possible. The last one is usually because their political meddling is a result of them giving a lot of freedom to their members; as opposed to the highly oppressed Jedi appearing in the movies, certain periods of republic history had active Jedi be landowners and even reigning monarchs, sometimes with families (usually justified as a political duty). There was, in fact, a 400 year period in which the Supreme Chancellors of the Republic were all Jedi without exception, in this instance, it was after a one thousand year long reign by a theocratic genocidal cult called the Pius Dea which took over the Republic, forcing Grand Master Biel Ductavis and his successors to become effectively dictators to reestablish democracy and destroy the Pius Dea.
    • The Gray Jedi are even more this trope than the Jedi Order. These rare and perhaps enlightened individuals, accept both the Light and Dark Sides as equally important teachings. Many are Jedi who became disillusioned with the council but kept away from the Sith. Since they choose to wield both contrasting Force powers, battling them may be much harder than you'd expect. Fortunately though, they believe in keeping absolute balance, instead of actively looking for a fight.
    • In the Expanded Universe, the Alderaanian Order of Extermination exists primarily to wage war against the Killiks when they periodically emerge from hibernation. To this end, the organization's recruits forsake any title or position in the planet's nobility, training solely for combat against the Killiks, and they are sustained primarily by donations organized by the noble houses acting in concert.

  • Discworld: The History Monks are mostly concerned with fixing/protecting time and space, as well as patching up Continuity Snarls and do not interfere with business that doesn't concern time travel. In Night Watch, Lu-Tze is even called out by another monk for helping Vimes (though he got away with it), and in the only other book where they feature prominently, they avoid contact with any factions they aren't already fighting.
  • The Empirium Trilogy: The Obex aren't associated with any particular country or ruler. Their main goal and purpose is protecting and studying the Gate, the only thing that keeps humanity's enemy- the angels- from entering their world.
  • Foundation: In "The Encyclopedists", the Encyclopedia Foundation is said to be under the direct control of the Imperial Emperor. Due to this, they begin as a strictly neutral organisation of archivists and historians whose sole purpose was to maintain the Encyclopedia Galactica, a compendium of all human knowledge... or so their founder, Hari Seldon, claims. When his pre-recorded posthumous holographic message informs the Board of Trustees that said Encyclopedia was nothing but a convenient cover story and ultimately irrelevant to his long-term plans, the members who hadn't seen this coming are (not unreasonably) quite upset.
  • The Mortal Instruments: The Silent Brothers and the Iron Sisters. They don't take part in the disputes of the Clave and Downworlders, instead the former devoting their time to writing all of it down, with the latter residing in Idris and forging weapons.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The sworn brothers of the Night's Watch exist solely to defend the realms of men against the Others (and wildlings beyond the Wall, but they are secondary). This means that they — officially at least — leave all political ambition and allegiance behind and will take help from anyone they can. In practice, of course, this is more easily said than done, and stories and legends would indicate that this has been true for pretty much the Watch's entire history.
    • The Maesters of Oldtown, similarly, are an order of monk-like scholars who officially serve only as advisers and are meant to be neutral in the politics of the realm. Opinions differ on how sincere their protestations of neutrality are, however, and there are several hints that the leadership of the order may be pursuing its own agenda.
    • The Iron Bank of Braavos, the most powerful banking institute of the known world. It will lend its money to anyone as long as they pay it back — if a noble house doesn't pay their due, the bank will stop all transactions with said house, and pay another house to eliminate them. The Bank has a dreaded reputation — even Tywin Lannister dares not cross them. Cersei Lannister however is foolish enough to not pay the kingdom's dues: in response the Bank cancels all its deals with Westeros, plunging the realm in debt, and begins funding Stannis Baratheon so he can perform a regime change.
  • The Stormlight Archive: The Knights Radiant's only goal was defending the world against the Voidbringers that threaten it during Desolations. They were politically neutral and quite good at staying so, until one day they inexplicably betrayed humanity, corrupting their spren and indirectly creating more Voidbringers. This is eventually revealed to have been less "betrayal" and more giving up their oaths after learning a terrible secret, with disastrous and unforeseen consequences.
  • The Witcher: The eponymous witchers were established to kill the monsters that invaded the world after the Conjunction of the Spheres. Although they have no universal code of conduct, taking sides is bad for their business, so most avoid it. The entire Blood of the Elves saga spans from the fact that the witchers (Geralt in particular) get involved in the power-play around Cirilla.

     Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The Night's Watch exists solely to defend the realms of men from its enemies beyond the Wall and all members are required to leave behind old debts, feuds, loves, and allegiances. In practice, of course, this is easier said than done.
    • The Maesters of the Citadel are assigned to a particular location after taking their vows and are bound to serve and advise whoever controls that location, regardless of which faction controls it.
    • The Iron Bank of Braavos doesn't care who occupies the Iron Throne or any other position. Their only concern is who owes them, how much they owe, and whether they make their payments on time. Failure to do so may result in a sudden increase in rival claimants who take their debts more seriously.
  • Legends of Tomorrow: The Time Police (first the Time Masters, then a combination of the Legends and the Time Bureau) are supposed to protect history from being changed. That means they can't interfere in the politics of the times/places they travel to, since that would be changing history, and someone else would have to clean up the changes they made. But since the Legends, as their motto goes, "screw things up for the better", chaos is frequently left in their wake instead, resulting in more stuff to clean up.
  • Star Trek: The Federation is supposed to be this, but is such a large organization that it's forced to be an active participant in galactic politics. The Prime Directive states that the Federation may not interfere with the internal affairs of non-Federation cultures and that it may not make any form of contact with or interfere with the development of pre-Warp civilizations. However, individual Starfleet officers have broken, bent, or re-interpreted this rule when they see fit.
    • This policy of neutrality goes so far that the Federation refuse to interfere with the politics of other cultures even if not interfering would likely result in all-out war in the Alpha Quadrant.
    • Starfleet is pretty inconsistent on this policy, as there's an undercurrent of pragmatism in its upper echelons, as well as highly compassionate and capable members being the norm.
  • Yes, Minister: The British Civil Service is supposed to be a politically neutral, professional body that advises Parliament and the Cabinet with no agenda except keeping the day-to-day business of government ticking over. Unfortunately, this leads to many civil servants like Sir Humphrey Appleby coming to believe that a Minister's job is to sign on the dotted line where he's told to and leave actually running the country to the professionals, a point of view that his Minister understandably takes a dim view of.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Battletech: ComStar was intended to be this in the backstory, being responsible for keeping faster-than-light communication running through human space and otherwise intended to stay out of worldly politics. Of course, given that they now had monopoly on something as vital as communication between worlds, soon found themselves in sole possession of Lost Technology that was wiped from the rest of the Inner Sphere by the Succession Wars, and a Cargo Cult turning their purpose and advanced tech into a religion, ComStar ended up becoming anything but impartial and began running much of human society from behind the shadows.
  • Eclipse Phase: This is Firewall's raison d'être - it's a cross-faction conspiracy dedicated to protecting transhumanity from existential threats, regardless of borders or political interests.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, while Dominaria was ravaged by the Brother's War between the brother artificers Urza and Mishra, a third artificer named Feldon founded the Third Path, dedicated to neutrality between the two brothers.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • In the third to fifth edition, the Necrons exist only to kill all organic life in the universe, and never interact with them in any other way. Afterwards, through Retcon, they gained their own personality, with the Omnicidal Maniac Necrons being described as the first to awaken from a long stasis and were damaged during said stasis.
    • The Tyranids exist only to devour all life (to the point that when Hive Fleets meet, they fight to absorb the loser's biomass and memories). The genestealers are something of a subfaction who exist to subvert society from within to weaken it against the 'nids, even starting multi-faction rebellions that pretend to shoot each other to further sow chaos and confusion.
    • The Harlequins are an Eldar sub-faction of warrior clowns dedicated to combating Chaos, whether by military force or by spreading knowledge of its danger through elaborate performances. As such, they move freely among all the main Eldar factions and have even been known to put on shows for humans, T'au, and Orks, as Chaos is a threat to everyone in the galaxy. As the Eldar are inspired by The Fair Folk to varying degrees, however, and the Harlequins themselves divided into many different troupes, it's dangerous to assume this makes you safe from them.
  • Warhammer Fantasy: The Cult of Shallya are pacifistic healers who, unlike most other religious orders, refuse to become involved in politics. Despite some internal issues, their neutrality and their mandate to offer free healing and aid make them loved by almost everyone who isn't actively out to end the world.

    Video Games 
  • Dragon Age:
    • The Grey Wardens were created to fight the Darkspawn and don't take sides otherwise, e.g. in Dragon Age II, a group of Wardens refuses to get involved even as Kirkwall is being torched by the Qunari. The reason for that can be seen in the Soldier's Peak storyline, which reveals that the Wardens were banished from Ferelden for involving themselves in dynastic struggles and left the country unprotected in the face of a Darkspawn invasion. This also forms part of the conflict in Dragon Age: Origins, where Teyrn Loghain refuses to let the Orlesian chapter of Grey Wardens into Ferelden to aid against the Blight because he has grown paranoid over the years, constantly expecting Orlais to try to re-conquer Ferelden (which plenty of them happily would, just not the Orlesian Wardens, who has no involvement to the Orlesian politics due of taking the neutrality seriously).
    • The eponymous organization of Dragon Age: Inquisition is supposed to be this as well. The newly-reformed Inquisition has no allegiances and is beholden to no authority except its own. Its only purpose is to restore order to Thedas in the wake of numerous different conflicts and disasters, repair an enormous breach in the Veil, and hunt down those responsible, by any means necessary. In practice, this is easier said than done, especially given the Mage-Templar War is raging at the same time. The Inquisition ends up unwillingly tangled up in a fair amount of political struggles and it's up to you to decide if the Inquisition enforces its neutrality or starts actively picking sides. By the time of Trespasser, Solas warns the Inquisitor that the group will eventually start losing their neutrality whether they like it or not; like any sufficiently large organization, they'll inevitably have to deal with corruption, unprofessional conduct, and unwanted political scrutiny. You're given the choice to either disband the Inquisition and allow it to die with its integrity intact (but making the coming battle against Solas/Fen'Harel more difficult), or keeping it active to defend Thedas (but potentially allowing it to grow bloated and corrupt).
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The Greybeards are an Ancient Tradition of monks who live atop the Throat of the World, Tamriel's tallest mountain, and believe in enlightenment through "The Way of the Voice", mastery of the Thu'um, the Draconic Language of Magic. They typically take a truly neutral stance on the affairs of the kingdoms down below, as they were taught by their founder, Jurgen Windcaller, following his Heel–Faith Turn. In the distance past, Nord armies led by masters of the Thu'um, known as "Tongues", forged a powerful empire and were expanding in Morrowind, homeland of the (at the time) Chimer and Dwemer. Despite the advantage conferred by the Thu'um, the Nord army was soundly crushed. For seven years, Windcaller meditated and reflected on the defeat, coming to the conclusion that it was a punishment from the gods for misusing the Thu'um. He would use the defeat as inspiration to discover the Way of the Voice and found the Greybeards. In modern times, the Greybeards espouse nonintervention and pacifism, while accepting any who wish to study into their order. Tiber Septim famously studied under the Greybeards, as did Ulfric Stormcloak, instigator of the Skyrim Civil War during the time period of the eponymous game. There are many factions, including the Blades (the former Praetorian Guard and Secret Police of the Empire) who believe that the Greybeards are wasting their abilities and strongly dislike the fact that their leader is a dragon. Naturally, the Skyrim Player Character must study under them as well in order to defeat Alduin.
    • Technically speaking, this is supposed to be the case for the Imperial Chartered Guilds - namely the Fighters and Mages Guilds. According to their charters, they are to offer training and employment in martial and magical matters (respectively) but are not allowed to accept any contracts which would violate the laws of the Empire.
    • The Cult of the Ancestor Moth is an Imperial cult based around divining the information contained within the Elder Scrolls, using a ritual known as the Ritual of the Ancestor Moth. Originally, this ritual was used for weaving "ancestor silks" from the silk of the ancestor moths, but at a time lost to history, it was discovered that this same ritual granted the performer special protections which allowed for the (relatively) safe reading of an Elder Scroll. The Cult has since shifted to their focus to the use and protection of the Scrolls themselves, though they have often been co-opted by the various Empires of Tamriel in order to perform this task specifically in service to the nation. Even before the first empire of Men, the Ayleids used an order known as the "Moth-Eyed" for this purpose (and they were famously Ignored Experts as the Ayleids fell). In the 4th Era, after the Elder Scrolls mysteriously vanished from the Imperial Library, the Moth Priests have taken to searching the far corners of Tamriel to find them, once again making them neutral of any particular nation.
    • The Psijic Order is the oldest monastic group in Tamriel and a secretive Magical Society founded during the ancient times by an Aldmeri sect who rejected the transition to Aedra worship from ancestor worship, known to them as the "Old Way" or "Elder Way". They settled on the island of Artaeum, the third largest island in the Summerset Isles, and use their Sufficiently Analyzed Magic to perform feats far beyond what the rest of Tamriel is capable of. They explicitly do not intervene in the affairs of other groups save for giving counsel (a sacred duty they call "seliffrnsae"), preferring to let events play out from afar. The few times they've violated this have been to avert events with The End of the World as We Know It level consequences. At various times in history, they have caused their home island to disappear from the face of Nirn completely, with it being speculated that this is the order's defense against groups who would seek to use the Order's powers for ill (such as their Arch-Enemy, the Thalmor-led Aldmeri Dominion).
  • StarCraft: The Kel-Morian Combine remains neutral from the three major powers that war for the sector over the series, and occupies itself only with living and expanding its mining operations. It went to war with the Confederates years ago, but signed a peace treaty and now operates independently of everyone. The reason is two-fold. On the one hand it'd just take too much time and resources to take over the Combine, and on the other hand, and more importantly, the Combine is very rich. They occupy some of the most valuable planets in the sector in terms of natural resources, so they stay out of wars by paying off the combatants to leave them alone.
  • Suikoden V: The Falenan Dragon Cavalry "only swears allegiance to rivers of Falena". They only ride out when a foreign power invades and do not involve themselves in any internal conflicts. They stick to this policy when Civil War breaks out between the Godwins and Loyalist Army (lead by Prince of Falena) but this goes out the window when the Godwins make an alliance with an enemy nation, and take the Cavalry's Hatchery hostage. They side with the Prince for the rest of the war.
  • Thief: The Keepers are hell-bent on recording history without interfering with it. Enter Garrett, a failed Keeper trainee with a knack for getting involved with history-changing events.
  • In Tyranny, the School of Ink and Quill describes itself as one of these, claiming to seek only the preservation and spread knowledge. In actuality, they've been playing politics for a long while, manipulating the realms of the area into fighting each other.
  • World of Warcraft has several factions that will gladly accept help from either the Alliance or the Horde, such as the Argent Crusade, paladins who fight against evil forces such as the Scourge or the Burning Legion; the Cenarion Circle, druids who work to protect and nurture life; or The Earthen Ring, shaman who work to maintain the balance of the four Natural Elements.

    Web Comics 
  • The Corbettites of Girl Genius are a monastic order who run railroads crossing Europa, as well as containing some of the worst horrors of mad science terrorizing the continent. They stay neutral in the nobles' games, and even the dreaded Heterodynes have historically left them alone, one of Martellus' lieutenants discovers why when he tries to fire a "warning shot" at their monastery-fortress and they destroy half a dozen of his airships with a single blast of one of the rayguns they've collected.