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Lawful Pushover

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"Some president I am, right? I can't even confront my own club members properly... I just wish I was able to be a little more assertive sometimes."

Some voices of authority will break the rules to seek their own ends. Others will do it for the perceived greater good. And then there's the Lawful Pushover, who defies protocol because some random layperson asked them to.

It has very little to do with undermining an Obstructive Code of Conduct, or even being a Reasonable Authority Figure (though they may very well aspire to be one). The Lawful Pushover just shrinks back at the tiniest perception of assertion. They may have had a Knight Templar Parent or two, or maybe they were bullied growing up; or maybe they're still just the rookie in their profession. They simply cannot say "no" in the moment.

This pushover knows they will be in trouble. They are already anticipating the big chew-out. Or perhaps they hold a teaching position, or they are the boss, and they are left to decide how they act towards their students or underlings. Either way — there will be consequences, and this doormat is used to facing them.

A pun on the names of Character Alignments on the "Lawful" side of the x-axis (i.e. Lawful Good, Lawful Neutral, Lawful Evil), as found in tabletop role-playing games.

More developed Lawful Pushovers may also apologize a lot, or kick themselves afterward for not growing a spine. Super-Trope of Pushover Parents. See also Shrinking Violet; compare Extreme Doormat, Police Are Useless. Contrast Bothering by the Book and Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help.


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    Anime & Manga 

  • Trigger Warning: Kelton College's administration is described as being like this, seeming to cave in to even the slightest demands from student activists. One example given is when administrators agree not to demolish an abandoned warehouse with a rainbow painted on its side, due to students accusing the decision of being "bigoted".

    Live Action TV 
  • On M*A*S*H, this is Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake's defining trait. He lets his Bunny-Ears Lawyer doctors run riot and reveals that the army gave him, and him specifically, special instructions never to surrender without orders.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: In the module OA7 Test of the Samurai, the player characters arrive in the mysterious realm of Qui, only to be immediately confronted by its current Officer — an indecisive, panicky oriental unicorn named Chanii. She initially orders them to leave, but when they insist on seeing Za-Jikku, she backs down and leads them to see his statue. Should they return to Qui later, she will again ask them to leave; however, if they continue to press her, she will let them stay for up to four hours.

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    Western Animation