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Lawful Stupid

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"The laws were made to help us govern ourselves... but it's been left to rule on its own. Somewhere along the line, it's been twisted into... scripture! And it's used as an excuse not to think."
Keith, TwoKinds

Lawful Stupid, also known as Lawful Anal, is for people who may call themselves Lawful Neutral or Lawful Good but lean toward such rigid adherence to the law that anybody who breaks any law, anywhere, for any reason, is the enemy. Even saying an unkind word to someone is an act of pure evil to this kind of character, and the Lawful Stupid can and will act as Judge, Jury, and Executioner. That is why they are called Lawful Stupid, not Lawful Neutral or Lawful Evil.

Woe betide the fellow party member who fails to live up to their obsessive standards. If the thief so much as jaywalks, Mr. Lawful Stupid will insist on turning him in to the "proper authorities" (regardless of what alignment said authorities are), or even execute him on the spot. Then he'll berate the other members of his party for "condoning" the thief's behavior, and may turn on them as well. This makes this guy highly irritating as well as stupid for turning in his only allies. For newbie DMs, the best solution is usually a blunt force object applied to the head of the offending character — if not the player.

One of the issues that can arise that a writer must avoid with this trope is known as the "World Created Last Thursday" problem. If there is a societal explosion being caused now by the party or some group not corresponding with the laws, or the laws just not working in general... why hasn't this been a problem before now? Nobody Ever Complained Before?

In tabletop roleplaying games, this was once such a common behavior for paladins that acting Lawful Stupid is what everyone expects paladins to do these days. The reason for this has to do with game mechanics in early editions of Dungeons & Dragons which required Paladins to act this way in order to avoid a De-power. A lot of inexperienced players failing to understand the difference between Intelligence and Wisdom didn't help the Paladin's image on this front, either. In fact, this kind of behavior from players is so common that the D&D Sourcebook Book of Exalted Deeds spends a good number of pages explaining how to be Lawful Neutral or Lawful Good without being stupid, largely included because the creators themselves got sick of the attitude.note  In-universe, a Paladin is supposed to be more street-smart than well-read, but there was a big difference between Paladin lore and the way players used the class, as well as the lore saying one thing and the rules saying another. Essentially, thanks to some miscommunications, confusion, and contradictions in the rules of early editions of D&D, the Paladin class as a whole has had to shake off the reputation as a class for Lawful Stupid behavior. Even after decades of efforts to correct the issue, the Paladin still isn't completely in the clear.

This trope is a Lawful character carrying the Idiot Ball because that is the Lawful thing to do. Remember, however, that Tropes Are Not Bad. When properly used, this trope can actually be used to add depth to a character rather than reduce them to a farce:

  • A Lawful Neutral character strongly supports an authority, governing body or personal set of principles and doesn't care much about good or evil — this makes them prone to both Blind Obedience and doing what they decide needs to be done.
  • A truly Lawful Good character, on the other hand, believes that a lawful, orderly society is necessary for the good of all and that Honor Before Reason is a virtue, not a vice. They may see all crimes as equal because even breaking a minor law hurts the greater good in some way, and cannot go unpunished — one stolen loaf of bread may seem a petty offense, but if thousands are stolen across a city every day, every baker will be ruined. On the other hand, many a Lawful Good character would argue against that sort of thinking as well. And in the most extreme cases of a lawful good holding the idiot ball, where a Heroic Sacrifice turns out to be completely unnecessary and pointless, they would rather die in a futile gesture or acting upon incorrect information doing what they believed was right than live having done nothing. Although again, not necessarily true of every Lawful Good character.
  • Lawful Evil characters may seem unlikely to be vulnerable to this, but Even Evil Has Standards. Many a Noble Demon has met their downfall because I Gave My Word. Others may have no problem with harming "players in the game" but not innocents, which may leave them vulnerable to deception. Stranger still: Corrupt Corporate Executives or Black Knights might do anything within the rules to further their ambitions, but the suggestion of even a minor actual violation of the law or their personal code is a Berserk Button. Many a Jackass Genie has been defeated as they are often compelled to grant wishes even when said wish would cause the Genie's defeat.

Usually prone to be Bothering by the Book. When this behavior is caused by faith, Belief Makes You Stupid is present. Compare and contrast Chaotic Stupid, Stupid Good, Stupid Evil, and Stupid Neutral, which are the Moral/Ethical Alignment Stupid equivalent tropes for Chaos, Good, Evil, and Neutral. The Fundamentalist, Inspector Javert, and Knight Templar usually fall under this alignment, and may eventually develop into Tautological Templar. Non-sentient Robots and AI also tend to also to this alignment as they follow will dutifully follow the literal meanings of any instructions without considering the potential consequences or the non-literal intentions of those instructions. A government under The Caligula normally becomes Lawful Stupid, as history has shown.

Worth noting, this is actually how Lawful Neutral was classically written, but it has since been redefined. A good way of interpreting the modern definition might be that Lawful Stupid is when someone is Lawful Neutral to a fault.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach: When the Central 46 makes a ruling, no-one is allowed to oppose that ruling, not even captains. It's later revealed that this system of justice was either set up by or helped to be set up by Yamamoto, who enforces it with an unforgiving rigidity. When Ukitake and Kyouraku, his two favourite students, rebel, he is willing to kill them for their transgression. Only when it's revealed that everything was Aizen's manipulations does Yamamoto back down and focus on the real problem. After the time-skip, Yamamoto has been softened enough by Ichigo's beliefs that he's finally willing to break the law to save Ichigo to repay the debt the captains owe him. This softening took over a thousand years to achieve; Yamamoto was that rigid.
  • The main Macrophage of Cells at Work! Lady can heavily lean into this due to the dedication he has to the protection of the host's body, which can sometimes leads to more trouble for the other immunity cells due to the severity of his gungho protective nature. This is shown full force during the Pregnancy Arc, misinterpreting the host's intimate acts with her lover as planned assaults against the body and would've caused a miscarriage had his superiors not barred him from patrolling the reproductive system during that time. This is all Truth in Television, as a woman's immune cells will briefly interpret a fertilized ovum as a foreign invader due to half of its DNA not belonging to the host, and the ovum would usually need to pump extra hormones into the bloodstream and dig deeper into the uterine walls in order to get them off its case so it can safely grow.
  • Suzaku Kururugi of Code Geass, who believes upholding the law is a better path towards change than revolution, even though said laws apply to a Darwinist government that would sooner keel over than give its so-called Numbers equal rights. Until his dark past and secret motive are revealed, and he more appropriately falls under Lawful Neutral.
    • During a hostage situation, Suzaku actually protests against hacking open a locked door to save someone because "it's against the rules."
    • He does have one reasonable point, though... The ease with which Britannia conquers Japan and the many years of failure that the Japanese resistance undergoes leaves Suzaku beyond believing that it's possible. The fairly easily accomplished defeat of the European superpower, and China's near submission, strongly suggest that he's right. Once Lelouch accidentally destroys one of the best perceivable hopes for the happiness of the Japanese, though still a little slim, Suzaku becomes beyond believing that anything Lelouch does is good. Suzaku finally comes around after accidentally nuking Tokyo though.
      • This is, of course, debatable as Suzaku initially strongly adheres to the notion that the ends don’t justify the means, and Lelouch as Zero proves capable of nearly overthrowing Britannia’s rule over Japan several times if not precisely for Suzaku’s interference; proving it to indeed be possible. It thus indicates that even if change were achieved by rebellion, Suzaku would dismiss it as worthless because the means of doing so went against the law and current established authority, conveniently ignoring that said law and authority is designed so there's no legal way of doing so.
  • Parodied in Excel♡Saga, when the Daitenzin decide to perform as many acts of justice as possible, however insignificant, so they can take off their suits. They end up fighting litterers, extortioners, and other petty criminals with the full force of Sentai heroes.
  • The 3rd-year Pandoras in Freezing after Satellizer unleashes a brutal Curb-Stomp Battle on one of their peers. They try to justify their persecution of her in that the Pandoras are humanity's best line of defense against the monstrous, alien Novas, and that in battle, unit cohesion and the chain of command have to be maintained. What makes this truly stupid, though, is that none of them seem to care that the 3rd-year that Satellizer beat up had forcefully disrobed her and taken pictures of it, and was ready to have her male assistants rape Satellizer. And then it turns out that all Pandoras are expected to act Lawful Stupid by the government and anyone who acts out of line would be horrifically punished. Just ask Elizabeth.
  • England from Hetalia: Axis Powers is guilty of this trope (with relative truth to it). He's always trying to make sense of the chaotic world he's in, taking offense to even minor inconveniences especially one's caused by either France or America. Most of England's suffering was the result of his own rigity and Tsundere-like behavior. And you wonder why, he has so little friends?
  • Detective Lunge, the Inspector Javert from Monster (1994) has fallen under Lawful Stupid a few times when he continues to pursue Tenma despite the existence of Johann being right in front of him.
  • My Bride is a Mermaid: Mawari Zenigata tries to be Lawful Good, but due to her overzealousness and nature as a Control Freak, she tends to veer into this territory more often than not.
  • Haruka from the My-HiME manga, who is on a quest to expel the Orphan Resistance Unit from the school. Interestingly enough, though, she resorts to kidnapping, attempted theft of Elements, and recruiting known troublemakers like Nao to advance her agenda.
  • Emily Sevensheep from Negima! Magister Negi Magi is not open to discussion with unarmed wanted criminals. It takes both Negi stripping her of her weapons and her boss telepathically contacting her for her to agree to discuss... for a time.
  • One Piece:
    • The World Government is ruled by a bunch of arrogant nobles who are not only perfectly willing to ignore a prison breakout that freed more than one hundred highly dangerous criminals back into the world, they are willing to cover it up as though it never happened. While focusing nearly the entirety of their forces into one single place to ensure the end of the bloodline of a decades-dead pirate. (Possibly an example of It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time, as the reason for the cover-up of the prison break out was that after already taking a hit to their reputation, they didn't want to announce that their formerly impenetrable prison just had a massive break out and cause a panic/queue more trouble. That said, one has to wonder how you talk your way out of formerly imprisoned criminals suddenly appearing in the world. Besides, they can kill anyone who can prove they got out. Or so they assume. The World Government tends to have a Screw the Rules, I Make Them! attitude at times.)
    • Admiral Kizaru is less evil than his bosses, but he tends to be this, emphasis on "stupid." He can't tell the difference between the "black" Den Den Mushi, only used for espionage, and the standard Den Den Mushi used as a phone, completely overlooks slavery and its many implications, and nearly destroyed an entire island in the Saobody Archipelago because he couldn't be bothered to check where he was aiming.
  • Shown as a flaw in the hero system (albeit for laughs) in One-Punch Man, as C-class heroes need to do one good deed a week in order to keep their status, and his fights tend to not take place in public areas or get reported unless a fellow hero is there. Saitama was not aware of that, and was informed of it by his ally Genos when there was half a day left. The result was not him doing a good deed, but running around and scaring everyone with the expression on his face looking for one.
  • Early on in Pokémon: The Series, Ash would frequently use only one Pokémon at a time against Team Rocket, even though Jessie and James would almost always send Ekans/Arbok and Koffing/Weezing at him at the same time. He cited the Pokémon League rules as why in the third episode. This is despite the fact that his battles with Team Rocket have nothing to do with the Pokémon League. He would eventually get over this.
  • Played for Laughs in Ratman. The main character is tricked into signing a contract to act as an evil organization's super-villain and never thinks that since the signature was made under false pretenses, it's invalid. Plus just ignoring it even if it were legal. Thankfully, Jackal isn't really all that evil, so it's not so bad.
  • Shaman King:
    • The X-LAWS are all this. A group that vows to wipe out Hao and his allies. Okay, the only problem is that if you are not on their side you're automatically considered an enemy. They refuse to work with others outside their group and tend to look down on anyone not in their team (mostly Marco carries this attitude). The X-LAWS says they do this to rid evil from the world and stop the killing. It is not as bad in the manga, but in the anime, they take it to the extreme. Way to go ruining your chances helping other people stop the Big Bad. Hao even calls them out on this and insults their leader.
    • The Patch Tribe become this in the final arc. They vow to serve as Hao's Praetorian Guard as he has become the Shaman King, and they're honor-bound to protect him. This despite the fact that Hao has made no secret of his plan to wipe out humanity.
  • Early on in Slayers, Amelia's obsession with being a "Hero of Justice" could lead to this. Highlights include turning against Lina and Gourry when she learns that there is a (fake) bounty on their heads and an Imagine Spot in which she blasts someone with the Dragon Slave for picking up a lost quarter. She does relax her standards eventually, though.
  • Snow White with the Red Hair: The Sereg Knight Commander locks up Mitsuhide when he's framed for the recent killings of several nobles, even though he knows Mitsuhide was framed, partially to try to lure the true culprit out by making it look like their plan is working. After capturing the real culprit he keeps Mitsuhide locked up, because he hasn't received orders from the palace to let Mitsuhide go. When it becomes clear the culprit had Mitsuhide framed in an effort to deprive Prince Zen of his loyal and competent bodyguard in preparation for assassinating the prince he still keeps him locked up, even placing the real culprit in a much less secure cell to ensure Mitsuhide is incapable of escaping, and even as the fortress is being overrun he refuses to free the innocent knight.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Post-Time Skip, Rossiu becomes overzealous in his task of upholding the newly created law, much to the very great annoyance of Chaotic Good Simon. For example, he believes the Grappal are far more advanced than the Gurren Lagann and keeps telling Simon that he must rely on his Red Shirt Army instead of fighting himself, even though, this being a Super Robot show, it's bleeding obvious that Simon's Gurren Lagann is the most powerful mecha in the world.
  • In The Twelve Kingdoms, a flashback shows us King Chuutatsu of Hou. He was chosen for the job by Hourin for his strong sense of justice. Unfortunately, it turned out to be too strong. He eventually decreed All Crimes Are Equal and that someone guilty of any crime would be put to death by crucifixion (turns out Hou was the only one of the Kingdoms to still do so). The situation was not helped by his Queen falsely accusing officials and women of Court she didn't like just to be rid of them. After thirty years and hundreds of thousands of citizens put to death, his remaining officials revolted and beheaded him, the Queen, AND the dying Hourin, though the latter could also count as a Mercy Kill. The King's 13-year-old (actually 43) daughter was the only survivor, and her learning what people really thought of the King is the catalyst for her finally maturing.
  • In the original Yu-Gi-Oh!, Isono (an employee of Kaiba's who acts as a referee during the Battle City finals) is a borderline example. He sticks adamantly to the rules of the game, even though something is obviously wrong (as in, Marik's demonic presence risking everyone's lives), and makes every call by the book. For example, a deleted scene from Yugi's duel with Marik has him rule that Yugi's drawing a card and setting it without confirming it is not allowed (if it's a monster, it's in the wrong slot), even though Yugi has a good reason for this. (Kaiba himself, however, overrules this ruling, saying it's "interesting", and the duel continues.) The worst example is when he forbids Yugi from helping Bakura, even though Bakura was dying because a duelist isn't allowed to make physical contact with an opponent.
  • In an episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, Takashi is appointed leader of the School Disciplinary Squad by the Student Council President and takes this job way too far. When Yuma is challenged to a duel by the President, Takashi forbids Yuma from using Gagaga Girl because her outfit violates the school dress code. (Never mind that a ruling like this would be considered outright cheating in the actual card game.) In Takashi's defense, when he realizes that the President is a Brainwashed and Crazy minion of the Barians who has been using him, he quickly resigns from his position, and Yuma is able to use any cards he wants from that point.

     Audio Drama 
  • The Vacintians in the Big Finish Doctor Who drama "Time Reaver" are an extremely orderly and by-the-book race who have begun policing a former Wretched Hive to track down an incredibly dangerous weapon which they created, because it never occurred to them anyone would use it as a weapon. However, their method of doing so is to insist that everyone has the proper paperwork. In theory, this should lead to everyone on the planet being arrested, except that it also hasn't occurred to them that the people they've arrested won't voluntarily make their way to the Customs House. At one point the Big Bad gloats that they can't do anything to stop him without orders signed in triplicate.

    Comic Books 
  • Green Lantern: Before they had their rigid programming undone in Brightest Day, the Alpha Lanterns. One went so far as to attack a Red Lantern that had been released from its cell by other Green Lanterns in order to hold off a Zombie Apocalypse. The Alpha gets destroyed by Black Lanterns soon afterwards.
  • In a Green Arrow story arc, a man who felt the justice system had failed summons a group of Literal Genie demons to enforce the law of his city. They twist their commands around so the slightest infraction allows them to slaughter with impunity.
  • Despite himself being a criminal, The Punisher is sometimes depicted as willing to kill anyone who breaks any law for any reason, even if the "criminal" is non-violent, begging for mercy, and just helped the Punisher. In one instance, he discovered that someone who had been his ally throughout the issue was a retired thief, and, as a sign of gratitude for his help, gave him a head start. This is Depending on the Writer, as older writers often showed him willing to let a criminal go if they gave him a reason. One of the very first Punisher stories shows him murdering people for littering. When the decision was made to recast him as an Anti-Hero, this was retconned into having been drugged by an enemy.
  • While Punisher's lawful stupidity varies by the author, Solo, whose motto is "while I live, terror dies", was woven whole from lawful moron cloth. He's shown in a Solo story to shoot down a murderer, then turns around and gives the would-be victim he has just rescued his twisted reasoning for why his previous actions have actually prompted the murder attempt to occur, then kills the guy himself for "creating terror". Marvel execs probably wonder to this day why he never caught on.
  • Spider-Man: Spidey has an enemy named Cardiac, a high-tech Knight Templar who exists simply to punish people who escape justice because of this Trope. Spider-Man would try to be Lawful Stupid when opposing Cardiac, but his heart (and the writer's) really wasn't in it, and Spidey would end up helping Cardiac more often than not, while also trying to contain his murderous tendencies.
  • The Spectre falls under this trope from time to time, mostly because he is vengeance personified and thus prone to being tricked. Given his power, this is a very bad thing. This is why he is usually bound to a human host; both to limit his power and to give him some much-needed perspective.
  • Sam from Sam & Max: Freelance Police is this, for laughs. He genuinely loves justice, but his ways of achieving justice are batshit insane and mostly an excuse to charge around, shooting at things.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 comic Titan Hekate is put on trial for disobeying orders to stand down when he jumped into a Titain to singlehandedly defend the Titain legion depot he is in from an army of orcs. The deopt is full of Humongous Mecha that are practically irreplacable because the number of planets with the infrastructure and knowledge to build more, in an empire of a million worlds, can be counted on one hand. If he had not done so, the Titans would be destroyed at best, stolen at worst. For disobeying orders, Hekate is arrested and put on trial, and if he is found guilty he will be executed. Despite the judges recognizing that Hekate took the correct course of action and acted in a heroic and laudable manner, they want to execute him anyway.
    "Authority must be respected! Orders are sacrosanct! Hekate disobeyed! Better that-"
    "B-better that this depot and every life in it had fallen than I had disobeyed your order?"
    "As the Emperor is my judge...yes."
  • Despite being a satire of zero-tolerance policy, the whole premise of Judge Dredd runs on this. However, while initially Dredd was certainly like this, with incidents such as victims often being arrested for minor acts committed while being the victims of greater crimes, as time progressed Dredd grew more of a conscience and has been known to bend, oppose and, on occasion, flout the law if the situation appeared to warrant it. The later overturning of Mega-City One's mutant laws is a good example of this.
    • It's worth noting that the comic actually started out on a far less satirical note, with Dredd (and his fellow Judges) being far more idealistic. A very early comic had him risk his life to save a child, then telling a recruit that a Judge must be willing to sacrifice himself to protect a citizen. Later comics treated citizens as completely expendable, sometimes with the justification that they were just potential lawbreakers.
    • The Dark Judges can be seen as this trope NOT played for laughs. Initially, they were strict enforcers of the law but took it to the extreme of All Crimes Are Equal, and eventually decided that since all crimes are committed by the living, then all life should be a crime. The concept of killing people for jaywalking or littering seems ridiculous, even darkly humorous to anyone sane, but it's a whole other ballgame when the entities doing it are more than capable of killing entire planets, which they have.
  • You might even accuse Batman himself of acting this way in Joker: Devil's Advocate. Batman actually tries to defend the Joker when it seems that he may actually finally face execution, on the grounds that Batman believes he's innocent of the crime he's currently being accused of. He is innocent of this crime, but come on. The Joker had murdered Jason Todd, crippled Barbara Gordon, and has committed hundreds of other murders that he remains completely unrepentant for. If Batman wonders why the Joker Immunity Trope got its name, maybe he should start blaming himself.
    • Batman did get the last laugh on the Joker at the end of the story. The villain was more mortified and humiliated than he had ever been when Batman told him that his investigation was what had saved his life. Although under most writers, Joker would be more likely to taunt Batman about the fact rather than the other way around.
    • In Batman's defense, letting the Joker fry for a murder he didn't commit also would have complicated bringing the actual murderer to justice.
      • One could actually argue that in this case the trope doesn't apply to Batman, but Gotham's criminal justice system. While Batman is looking for the actual murderer (that is still around), they have the Joker captive and facing execution, and while his master plans can be clever he isn't really known for being subtle about the death and destruction he leaves on his wake. Couldn't they really find anything else he had done and found him guilty of that while the investigation of that one particular murder was still ongoing?
  • The Incredible Hulk: General Ross is probably the embodiment of this Trope. His lifelong goal — some would say obsession — to bring the Hulk to justice has likely caused more property damage and casualties than he ever could have prevented had he succeeded, and likely cost the U.S. Army a fortune, all without any success. The Hulk is one of the strongest humanoid beings in the Marvel Universe, capable of hefting a battleship over his head, and making him angry just makes him stronger (as Ross clearly knows after all this time), so you'd think that when he shouts "LEAVE HULK ALONE!!", Ross would get the hint. This is taken to the most extreme conclusion in Hulk (2008) when he becomes the Red Hulk in order to pursue his goal, becoming, in many ways, even worse than his quarry. Word of God described the Red Hulk as "The kind of Hulk we haven't seen before. A thinking, calculating, brutal weapon-toting kind of Hulk." Not that this is a good thing. Ross was more than capable of murder, destroyed the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, and nearly wrecked San Francisco, proving that, despite being able to think, he was just as destructive.
  • The Illuminati gravitates into this territory a lot of times, particularly with their egregious handling of the Hulk on several occasions. They were also ready to pronounce a death sentence on the Scarlet Witch because of her increasing insanity and Avengers: The Children's Crusade ended up revealing that they'd been completely oblivious to the fact that her insanity had been orchestrated and manipulated by a supervillain. When Wiccan of the Young Avengers starts displaying even the slightest bit of lack of control over his powers, they come to the immediate conclusion that he's just as unstable as the Scarlet Witch for no other reason than being the Scarlet Witch's son. In all fairness, Wanda had killed 3 Avengers by the time the team was seriously considering putting her down, manipulation or no. And all The Avengers were doing with Wiccan was monitoring his powers to make sure another M-Day wouldn't happen. It only went farther than that after the Young Avengers broke him out, and Wolverine was the only one actually out for his blood after that.
  • S.H.I.E.L.D. was living and breathing this trope during the Civil War. Anyone who opposed the Superhuman Registration Act was seen as the enemy and when caught were sentenced to a concentration camp in another dimension. They even hired supervillains to hunt down the rebel superheroes.
    • That's mostly due to the fact that Maria Hill, who tends to be the absolute epitome of Lawful Stupid, was running S.H.I.E.L.D. during that arc. In fact, it was the entire reason she was chosen to replace Nick Fury. The government knew she was completely incapable of questioning or disobeying orders. Unfortunately, this trope was also Maria's undoing when she allowed Norman Osborn full rein. The scene where she attempts to arrest Captain America for "breaking" a law which is still being debated in Congress at the time (i.e. is NOT a law yet) is textbook Lawful Stupid with a side order of Holier Than Thou on Hill's part.
      • Trope happily averted in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. live-action TV series where Maria helps Coulson attack the US army (who she was co-operating with for immunity from S.H.I.E.L.D.'s terrorist label so that she could work privately for Stark) so that he can escape and continue to pursue Hydra.
      • And before that, when told by the President of the USA to nuke Genosha while the Avengers are on it, she refuses, even though at that point her relationship with the group was decidedly frosty.
    • Not the first time S.H.I.E.L.D. had done something idiotic like this. In the She-Hulk graphic novel, they used their authority to kidnap She-Hulk in order to subject her to experiments to make sure she wasn't as dangerous as the Hulk. (Nick Fury objected, but he wasn't in charge at that point.) End result? An incompetent officer took control of the project, a mutant swarm of cockroaches hijacked control of the Helicarrier (this was the original one) the Helicarrier was destroyed, and they barely avoided a nuclear disaster due to the crash causing its reactor to become unstable. (She-Hulk would have left them to their fates, but there was a town with innocent civilians that would have been destroyed too, so they were able to convince her to fix the problem. Still, they didn't learn...)
    • Oh, yeah, they didn't learn. Another example of S.H.I.E.L.D. stupidity happened slightly after The Clone Saga in the Spider-Man one-shot Spider-Man: Dead Man's Hand, when they confiscated the Jackal's body and experimented on it. This led to an unscrupulous coroner who they clearly shouldn't have given the job to finding out the secrets of the Carrion Virus and turning himself into the third - and to date, deadliest - version of Carrion, who tried to unleash a biochemical weapon on New York to create a Zombie Apocalypse. (Sort of; the victims weren't truly zombies.) Spider-Man told Dum Dum Dugan to his face that "This would never be happening if Nick Fury were alive!" which clearly didn't help matters. Ironically, Fury was alive, but had faked his death, and Dugan knew that, but he couldn't exactly tell Spidey that.
    • Marvel also has an instance of this with Valerie Cooper. In one instance, when Julia Carpenter broke Iron Man and the Avengers out of the Vault and helped them clear their names after they were set up and framed by Quicksilver, Val declared her a fugitive and outright told Iron Man that even if the Avengers were innocent from the start, it didn't give Julia the right to break the law either way.
  • The entire Marvel Family was like this. In Marvel Family #46 this gets taken to a ridiculous extreme by Mary Marvel. When she and an explorer are on an island of robots, they find out a law by the long-vanished civilization says that any humans there must be executed. Mary says she has to submit, as she 'never breaks a law, even the ancient law of a vanished civilization'. It is especially ridiculous considering Mary Marvel told the robots about the law when translating a document.
  • The Legion of Super-Heroes could fall into this in their early years. In one instance Supergirl was not accepted into the Legion despite passing her test with flying colours because she had been temporarily aged to an adult after accidental exposure to Red Kryptonite, and thus was barred from membership due to being over 18. Aside from the fact that the aging was temporary, the Legionnaires knew she was really only 15 years old but still disqualified her.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW), Twilight Sparkle's magic is so strong that it's a Story-Breaker Power, but she'll refuse to use it because of being a stickler for the rules. Twilight once refused to use her magic to stop a herd of bulls from hurting her friends and harassing a Wild West town because the bulls were legal citizens. It becomes doubly Lawful Stupid as Twilight uses magic to imprison them when they burn down a barn after Twilight had it declared a historic site. In other words, Twilight's Lawful Stupidity had to be worked around in-universe because she refused to act.
  • In the Detective Comics two-parter "A Walk in the Park", part of the Batman: No Man's Land story arc, the mayor declares that Poison Ivy, who at that point is living more or less peacefully in Robinson Park, restoring it and caring for children who'd been orphaned during the earthquake, is an ecoterrorist and must be forcibly removed from the park, despite the fact that A) the park has gone unused for years before the earthquake and Ivy is the only one who feels any need to restore it, b) the kids are all orphans and would likely spend years being bounced around in foster care if removed from the park, and c) caring for the kids and the park is keeping Ivy out of trouble. Alas, it's an election year and the mayor really needs something to make him look tougher on crime.
  • The Angelic Host in Crimson are seven archangels that run Heaven and exist to be as unhelpful and obstructive as possible to the main protagonist. In their first appearance, they appear on a Christmas day to execute any sinners regardless of the severity of their sins and try to execute Alex for being a vampire and when it's pointed out that Lisseth (who is also a vampire like him) will cause a catastrophe unless if he can stop it, they shrug it off saying it's not a priority right now. Later on, they condemn a minor angel for killing a human who actually deserved it because only the Host is allowed to pass judgment on humans. And finally when Lisseth sets her plan to unmake reality and realize that Alex was the chosen one all along, but rather than help him, they decide the prophecy must play its course, leave him to fight by himself and block his allies from attempting to intervene in the fight. This costs them dearly since Lisseth starts draining their powers and immortality for herself.
  • Zig-zag: The Wacky Races story "The Scavenger Scramble" (Gold Key, issue #7, April 1972) has the racers needing one more item to complete their motorized scavenger hunt: a parking ticket. Dick Dastardly parks the Mean Machine at the red curb in front of a police station thinking he'll get his ticket immediately. Instead, the policemen all come out to gawk at Dastardly's Cool Car.
    Dastardly: [losing his temper] I have rights! I demand a parking ticket!! NOW!!!

    Fan Works 
  • Nightwing in Coincidence and Misunderstandings. He knocks out and arrests Jinx for "vandalism, being an accomplice to grand larceny, and murder". This despite the fact that Jinx just saved him from a suped-up Overload (which is where the vandalism and murder charges come from), and knowing that she's at least dating a being that the Justice League warned him not to antagonize, and that said being flat out told the Titans that if they get in her way she "would have no compunctions against stringing your broken bodies along this tower for all the world to see and letting the birds feast on your flesh until your eventually collective demise".
  • Harry views the teachers like this in Harry Potter and the Three Rules. After he saves Hermione from the troll by stabbing it to death, the teachers are more concerned that Harry carries several knives than the fact that a student was almost killed. When Harry angrily points out that a student was almost killed, McGonagall even insists "that's not the point".
    • Taken further when Harry explains exactly why he didn't follow any of McGonagall's suggested alternatives: tell a prefect (he tried but Percy cut him off), tell a teacher (couldn't find one), or take down the troll non-lethally (not only does he not know any spell that would let him and it was actively trying to kill them). McGonagall still insists he was in the wrong and that his punishment stands.
    • Almost every student views them like this as well after it's discovered that Harry lost 50 points and earned two months of detentions (with the threat of expulsion should they discover any more knives) for saving a student's life.
  • Downplayed (but still noticeable) in The Parselmouth of Gryffindor with the Sorting Hat, in a specific incident where his oath not to reveal anything he sees in the mind of his Sortees prevents him from giving key information to Dumbledore.
  • Dr. Fate wants to send Xander to Hell in A Spark of Genius because he has "twisted the balance of [the] dimension" and changed the fates of millions, uncaring that by his own admission that most of those millions were fated to die horribly.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness:
    • In the first chapter of Act IV, the minute Issa finds out that Kokoa and Moka accidentally turned Tsukune into a ghoul, he starts physically attacking them along with Akua and Kahlua, furious that they didn't do their vampire duty and kill said ghoul on sight while all but openly dismissing the fact that they managed to cure him. Tsukune takes the time to call him out on it.
    • In Act IV chapter 16, Rason accuses the other angels as such, considering the fact that Hokuto is actively trying to resurrect Alucard and destroy the world, and they're not lifting a finger to stop him because, even if he is now a monster and regardless of how evil he is now, Hokuto was born human and thus, the angels' Thou Shalt Not Kill Muggles rule still applies to him until he actually dies with sin. Yes, that's right: the angels in Heaven are willing to let Hokuto revive an ancient Eldritch Abomination and wipe out all life on Earth because their laws insist that all humans, even ones as deranged and evil as Hokuto, are sacred and cannot be touched.
  • The Teen Titans/Knights of the Round Table in The Ravens of Avalon largely seem to care more about arresting or executing Sorceresses than what said Sorceress is currently doing. In one case, three of them try to arrest then attack Raven despite knowing that her magic is currently protecting the village from a powerful winter storm and that she just healed them after helping them against a sorcerer. Eventually Raven tells him he can deal with the storm himself and leaves. Despite the storm currently destroying the village and the freezing cold, Roy at least is more concerned with capturing Raven than seeking shelter.
  • The Ascended in The (Questionable) Burdens of Leadership of a Troll Emperor are far more concerned with enforcing their non-interference law than dealing with any of the (many many) problems they've caused. Oma exploits this to stop the Tok'ra from worshiping her by explaining to them that the Ascended were responsible for the rise of the Goa'uld (by negligently leaving their technology lying around) and could have crushed them at any time but chose not to.
    • Taken Up to Eleven when Oma notes that the Ascended would allow Anubis's plan to wipe out all life in the galaxy to proceed simply because he's not technically breaking their rules.
  • In White, after Soifon is hollowified while spying on Ichigo and Aizen, Yamamoto is outright told that her only chance for survival is to become a Vizored. Yamamoto declares that while he may have pardoned the Vizored, he refuses to intentionally create one as it's against the law and instead decides to execute her instead. Luckily, Soifon manages to instinctively activate Negacion and escape to Hueco Mundo where she becomes an Arrancar.
  • Yamamoto once again, in The Vasto of White mixed in with Knight Templar. Anyone who challenges his authority and the law given out by The Soul King is in the wrong. Even when his own zanpakuto, Ryujin Jakka refuses to harm the titular Vasto, he refuses to believe he is wrong simply because the law says he isn't.
  • Suzaku in Six Paths of Rebellion clings desperately to the idea that anything to do with Zero or the Black Knights is evil and anything to do with Britannia is good. Not only does he blame the Shinjuku and Saitama massacres on the Black Knights, Suzaku develops a single-minded obsession with killing Zero that even Euphemia can't talk him out of.
  • Nick Fury in The Wonderland Subject adheres to protocol when sending Xander back to his native dimension, namely that Xander's memory has to be wiped of all knowledge of SHIELD, despite the fact Xander's being sent over 3,000 universes away. This comes back to bite him when SHIELD needs intel that only Xander had.
  • Team 7 is eliminated from the Chunin Exams in Team 7's Ascension due to outside interference on their behalf. Said interference was Jiraiya stepping in to save their lives when Orochimaru attacked them.
  • Emphasis on stupid with Percy Weasley in Dodging Prison and Stealing Witches when he tries to insist Ginny having a developed mindscape was dark magic. When his father insists it isn't dark magic, merely unusual, Percy retorts that all new magic is dark by ministry law until it's been analyzed. But as Arthur points out, mindscapes and occlumency aren't new. In fact, they're centuries old. It's just that the Weasleys have never taught their children occlumency.
  • The Miraculous Ladybug/Zootopia crossover Ultrasonic puts Judy Hopps in this role, when she refuses to let Ladybug destroy an akumatised microphone and insists on keeping it as evidence. While she may not have any experience of situations like akumas, it's clear that she knows Ladybug does, and her refusal to cooperate costs Zootopia dearly after the butterfly escapes.
  • In Gap Year Adventures by A.A. Pessimal, the two travellers across Howondaland have made it into the home country of one of the two. They receive a warm welcome and a red carpet is rolled out - in the form of an officious Customs inspector who promptly arrests both for "irregularities", illegal things in their luggage, and illegally entering the country through an unauthorised route. This is despite their having fought a series of battles against hostile neighbours who also wanted to detain them in custody - and the fact the hostile state across the river is re-equipping itself with better weapons which Mariella's country cannot match. But this is of no interest to the Customs man, who notes the two travellers are illegally importing weapons, have two flasks of Klatchian orakh (heavy customs duties), have foreign foodstuffs (possibly detrimental to native agriculture) and, most crucially, a block of Klatchian bhong resin (strictly illegal) that both have simply forgotten about...
  • Death Arms in Unlimited scolds Izuku every time he comes across the boy being involved in some disaster or villain attack, even if Izuku just saved his life seconds ago because Izuku doesn't have a Hero License.
  • Equestria Girls: Friendship Souls: As per Bleach canon with Soul Reapers following Central 46, though it gets Zig-zagged every which way.
    • Captain-Commander Scorpan is burdened by The Chains of Commanding. He can and does personally disagree with several of Central 46's rulings such as declaring Celestia and Luna traitors to be executed, but he can't outright defy them outside of the law both because he would be setting a horrible example to the rest of Soul Society, and doing so could get the Zero Division to come down on his head. Instead, he has to rely on Bothering by the Book and use what legal powers he does have to argue against them. When Central 46 decides to move up the execution date and sends him their formal declaration, Scorpan immediately marches off to their building to debate them in order to delay the proceedings and hope Starswirl can find the evidence to pull the thread on the possible conspiracy behind this. Exactly as the conspiracy hopes, since it gets him out of the way of their own objectives and in the perfect place to trap him within the building's own specialized defenses against invasion when he finally realizes the ruse and they intentionally trigger the lockdown with sacrificial Hollow plants within Central 46.
    • Captain Amore is a huge stickler for the rules, but she's not so blinded to realize as evidence mounts something is off, and, while she balks at an open rebellion against Central 46's ruling at first since it could start an open Civil War, she does put her foot down on the side of good. Even then, she's mortified when the Captains start fighting each other directly.
    • Captain Hurricane bluntly treats those who defy Central 46's ruling as traitors and is fully willing to do battle with the Captains who side against them, regardless of possible corruption. Although he reveals he doesn't actually care about the ruling or if Celestia and Luna are traitors. He's just happy to use the whole thing as an excuse to both test himself against his fellow Captains in a serious fight and to use this whole debacle as the kick in the teeth for Soul Society to finally go back on the offensive in the war with Hollows and Quincy, as he's held a grudge over how their defensive nature has come with his own Division shouldering the majority of the burden and casualities.
    • Captain Thunderhooves plays it straight, being so loyal to the law that he faces off with the dissenting Captains without ulterior motives like Hurricane despite being told repeatedly and knowing with his own eyes this has to all be a set-up. Captain Cheese Sandwich lays into him over it as they fight, to which Thunderhooves angrily replies the law needs to be upheld no matter their feelings because otherwise seeing the so-called highest enforcers flaunting it could destabilize Soul Society. After Starlight's manipulations are revealed, he admits he was a fool for blindly sticking to the Law.
      Thunderhooves:We have all made errors that made it easier for our enemies to strike at us. I hardly feel worthy of this Captain’s rank, allowing my fear of breaking the laws and traditions of Soul Society to control me so.
  • In Worm - Justice For All, even after a mini-Endbringer Truce situation is declared, Aegis still tries to bring in the Undersiders after saving them from Hamelin's Pocket Dimension. Even Piggot, not exactly a fan of villainous parahumans, thinks that he's being an idiot, and decides that he needs flexibility training.

    Films — Animation 
  • Wasabi from Big Hero 6 is the sort of person who will come to a complete stop at a red light and wait for it to change. At night. In an industrial area with no sign of traffic. While being chased by a murderous supervillain.
    Gogo: (to Wasabi) Did you just put your blinker on?!
    Wasabi: You have to indicate your turn! It's the law!
    Gogo: (takes out gum) That's. It.
  • In Zootopia, Judy writes herself a parking ticket while issuing parking tickets.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 1408: Enslin uses an old civil rights law to coerce Mr. Olin to let him stay in room 1408 despite the latter's very pointed requests that he not go in there and providing detailed files on the victims as proof that it's too dangerous. However, since Enslin ignores his warnings, Olin is forced to cooperate or otherwise open the hotel to a lawsuit. It doesn't help Olin's case that the owners of the hotel are blithely denying the obvious safety issues of the room, which would make it incredibly easy for Enslin's lawyers to argue discrimination in court.
  • The bus driver in Quick Change insists on exact change even when being presented with a two-hundred-dollar bill and the option to keep the rest, arrives and leaves the stop at exact moments to the second (to the point that someone begging for some additional time to get change is pretty much to say "tough luck") and hands out receipts for transboarding when his bus' engine explodes by repeating the line to keep it because it will be needed like some kind of broken, sped-up record. An exasperated Grimm (Bill Murray) finally tells him, "You better lighten up. You're becoming Ralph Kramden's Evil Twin," when the man gets belligerent about the "no talking to the driver" rule.
  • RoboCop is subjected to this in the second movie, in a deliberate bid by OCP to make him so useless that they can justify scrapping him. They decide to make him a more positive social role model by giving him over three hundred new Directives that he's forced to obey, including "Pool opinions before expressing yourself," "Discourage feelings of negativity and hostility," and "Don't run through puddles and splash other pedestrians." Robocop realizes that this is impairing his ability to uphold the core three Directives and enforce the law to his best capacity and purposely shocks himself to short out the Lawful Stupid programming, something the bad guys didn't expect.
    Robcop: *Shoots at a pedestrian smoking a cigarette* Thank you for not smoking.
  • In Erik the Viking, the title character lands on the mystical island of Hybrasil, where even a single drop of spilled blood will cause the entire island to sink. This results in their being completely nice and non-critical to each other in any way, in order to avoid any chance of an argument that could escalate into any accident. This is taken even to the point that their music is nothing but loud, chaotic noise and clanging sounds since no one will dare find any fault with it. Then, even when a drop of blood is finally spilled and the island begins to sink, no one will believe a word of it, but simply denies that it's happening, and they all go down with the island.
  • In The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, the Paladin is accused of the trope by his party members for refusing to allow them to torture information out of an evil captive.
    Joanna: Can't he just go outside?
    Lodge: Paladins can't let evil acts happen if they know about them. It's his alignment.
    Gary: Yeah, they're Lawful Stupid.
    • Especially ironic because 1. that Paladin does not really fit the trope (torturing is classified as an evil act even when the victim is evil, so it makes sense that a paladin would oppose it), 2. the paladin was added as an NPC because the party is completely out of control both in-game (being more interested in killing and having sex with everything than following the story) and in real life (being assholes to all other players to the point they didn't want to play with them anymore), and 3. the accusation comes from an Ax-Crazy powerplayer whose character (the Vain Sorceress) swings wildly between Chaotic Stupid and Stupid Evil.
  • In Dr. Strangelove, Colonel "Bat" Guano initially refuses to let Captain Mandrake break into a vending machine to get the change he needs to call the President even though the latter is trying to prevent a nuclear holocaust. Even after giving in, Guano sternly insists Mandrake will "have to answer to the Coca-Cola company".
  • In the Affectionate Parody film version of Dragnet, Friday is a borderline case, everything about his uncle's professional straight-lacedness played Up to Eleven and for Fish out of Water laughs, but he gets better (to the point that his Cowboy Cop act actually freaks out his partner because among other things he Drives Like Crazy). On his partnership with Pep Streebek, he's The Comically Serious and says stuff like complaining about kids trying to mug him on a school night.
  • Clu in TRON: Legacy. He's given the unfortunately worded directive to "create the perfect system", which, being a computer program, he takes literally, destroying everything in The Grid that isn't perfect, and then planning to go into the outer world (the "real" world) to continue doing it.
  • The Jerk: Some random carnie gets upset about Navin trying to sneak into the carnival without paying, but the way he starts to point it out after he catches onto Navin's lie screams this:
    "You're not carnival personnel...! HEY! HE'S NOT CARNIVAL PERSONNEL!"
  • Batman in The Dark Knight crashes his Batpod to avoid running over the Joker who is busy unloading a machine-gun into random motorists. Batman avoids breaking his no-kill rule but the Joker lives to kill another day. To be clear, Batman is whizzing down the road on his Batpod. Joker is standing in the middle of the road the entire time. Batman sees the Joker. The Joker doesn't move. Batman waits until the last goddamn second to swerve, causing him to crash, instead of putting on the brakes when he first saw Joker in the road.
  • The titular Inspector in Inspector Gadget 2. At the beginning of the movie, crime is so far down in the city he's busting old ladies for going marginally over the speed limit.
  • Zeus from the 2011 Immortals. Even though Hyperion is going around slaughtering innocent villages and destroying temples, Zeus still forbids the Greek Gods from interfering on pain of death and kills Ares for pulling a Big Damn Heroes to save Theseus. He finally does get personally involved, but only because Hyperion had already unleashed the Titans and the Greek Gods get slaughtered/critically wounded in the ensuing melee. Zeus' (in)actions directly lead to restarting the Titanomachy that's still going on even as the movie ends.
  • Los/"San" Angeles society as a whole (or at least the prettified version above ground) has been deliberately transformed by the Evil Chancellor in charge of the city into a utopia of Lawful Stupidity in Demolition Man. (In fact, this is one of the few movies starring Sylvester Stallone where his character is the Only Sane Man). The reason? He wishes to annihilate The Evils of Free Will... and as for Edgar Friendly, for his crime of wanting salt on his food, he (and his fellow "outlaws") deserve exile and sending Psycho for Hire Simon Phoenix to exterminate them.
  • Die Hard: With the exception of Sgt. Al Powell, every LAPD officer, as well as FBI special agents Johnson and Johnson (no relation), is unhelpful to John McClane in his efforts to stop Hans Gruber, who takes complete advantage of their stupidity.
  • The villain of obscure fantasy film The Barbarians is a rare example of Lawful Evil Stupid, he spares the twin protagonists lives and embarks on an elaborate decade-long plan that eventually ends in attempting to get them to kill each other in a gladiatorial arena. All this because he promised their mother that "They will not die by my hand or the hand of any of my men", in exchange for her joining his harem.
  • Averted in the Judge Dredd reboot Dredd. The title character is ruthless and pragmatic, but ultimately a Reasonable Authority Figure. This is pretty much in line with his comic book version, which can be flexible if he thinks it would benefit the city (such as passing rookie Judge Anderson even if the rules say she failed because he can see she will be a good Judge).
  • General Morton from Zombi 3D is a prime example of what would happen if one of these was an Army general. When the dead infector is discovered in the Sweet River Resort, he has all the survivors killed and buried in a mass grave just to be on the safe side (in all fairness, a bellhop is shown to have been infected), and then he burns the infector's body... which causes an epidemic when a nearby flock of birds gets killed by the smoke and ash. When said epidemic is brought to his attention, he orders a massacre of the whole epidemic area–again, because he doesn't want to chance an infected person escaping to eventually contaminate the rest of the world.
  • In Flight of the Navigator, the staff of the NASA facility decide to keep David virtually imprisoned indefinitely without regard for the consequences when they realize how much alien data is contained in David's brain; one scientist even laments how they may have lost "one of the greatest scientific discoveries of the 20th Century", not considering what they'll have to say to the press, the legalities involved in having violated the terms of their agreement with David's parents, and most importantly, tearing David's family apart. All of this forces David to take the far more dangerous risk that Max had to avoid, which started the mess to begin with, in order to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • The MACUSA in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Tina brings Newt into MACUSA because he is showing a wanton disrespect for the local laws. She is told off because she is disrespecting her post, and they do not even believe her or make any effort to investigate the stranger she has brought into the MACUSA headquarters. When she comes back the following day after an Obscurus had killed a local senator with proof that magical creatures had escaped from the man she brought in yesterday, MACUSA... gives her a tongue lashing for not informing them of this earlier. Never mind that she actually did... MACUSA were the ones who turned her away when she did.
  • Officer Raymer (Philip Seymour Hoffman) in Nobody's Fool is this to a T: when Sully (Paul Newman) is driving his truck on the sidewalk, Raymer's response is to fire a warning shot right at the truck.
    Ollie: Your honor, Officer Raymer is currently under suspension.
  • The Mangalore in The Fifth Element are a Proud Warrior Race, but they literally won't fight without a senior Mangalore present, surrendering immediately when he's killed.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Mordo turns out to be this in Doctor Strange. He's completely inflexible about the breaking of "natural law" to the point that when Strange does this by rewinding time, even though the alternative was The End of the World as We Know It. He'd rather watch the universe be destroyed by a being from outside reality than stop it from happening if it meant using time magic. Mordo's justification is that his faith has been shattered by the revelation that The Ancient One was purposefully using the power of Dormammu to keep herself alive despite the fact that Dormammu is what her order is fighting against. He reacts badly to this revelation, and Strange defying the law, even for a good reason, breaks what little faith he had left. Mordo believes that The Ancient One's use of power and the necessity of Strange's actions are irrevocably connected, and cannot get past it, falling back on the laws that he believes in to keep himself from doing what they did. He falls back on them so hard that he ultimately comes to believe that sorcerers are actively dangerous to the safety of the world.
    • T'Challa succumbs to this in Black Panther. T'Challa knows full well that Killmonger is crazy and will lead Wakanda into a Forever War with the rest of the world, but still accepts his challenge to a fair fight for the throne because as a member of the royal family it's his right under the law. Then the rest of Wakanda follows Killmonger's orders because he is their rightful king, even though he isn't even really bothering to hide the fact that he is intentionally leading Wakanda to ruin out of spite.
    • In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Mordo's Alternate Universe counterpart and his teammates on The Illuminati suffered from this as well. They were a bunch of haughty Well Intentioned Extremists who arrested and tried to execute Doctor Strange for something an alternate version of him did by accident with the justification that if one of them's dangerous then they all are. Soon after, Mister Fantastic invokes Reed Richards Is Useless in the most literal manner possible by essentially telling Scarlet Witch how to disable Black Bolt during his attempt at talking her down. Fitting enough, the only one with a brain between them was the telepath Professor X.

  • Many of Piers Anthony's heroes are Lawful Stupid. Doing the "honorable" thing is more important to them than stopping the villain. If they were tricked into giving their word of honor on something then they will keep their word, even if it means allowing the villain to commit evil acts.
    • This was subverted in the Mode series when the villain made a deal where he would let the heroes go free if they agreed not to stop him. When the leader of the heroes accepted, he blindly believed the hero, because he knew that honor meant everything to him. Honor meant absolutely nothing to the main character and her super-intelligent psionic horse, who went along with the plan, and then betrayed the villain the moment they were out of his realm. In the next book, she delivered a wonderful verbal smackdown to the hero about it, pointing out the selfishness of allowing an insane despot to conquer the universe just to preserve his personal honor.
      Colette: You think it's better to let billions of people be enslaved and maybe die than to break your word when you only gave it to save me? I'm not worth it! Your word isn't worth it. You have no right to impose your foible on the rest of everything.
    • In the Author's Note to one of his books, Anthony defends his characters' Lawful Stupidity as being the right thing to do. In fact, the specific example he was defending was Grey Murphy's willingness to become the evil Com Pewter's servant (if he hadn't found a loophole in his contract), which was a particularly egregious warped aesop since it wasn't even Grey who made the promise. It was his parents. Then it turns out that Grey's ultimate resolution to the problem is to find a way to reprogram Com Pewter against his will. Failing to honor promises you didn't make is wrong, but getting out of it through brainwashing is fine? Er, okay...
    • This makes a lot more sense when you read enough of Anthony's work to discover that he considers it normal for men to constantly struggle against the urge to rape women. Strict rules are good for keeping dangerous thoughts in line.
  • Stannis Baratheon from A Song of Ice and Fire plays hard-ball with this trope. He's emotionally uncompromising, blunt and honest to an absolute fault; he's also so very stubborn that, if he can compromise, it'll ordinarily be done only so reluctantly, you can practically hear him creak... or, he'll quickly do a 180 to shock everybody. But, that last one is achieved only if you can show him that he's wrong in a way that follows his ethics using sound reasoning; upon which, he'll back you to the hilt, regardless of what he personally thinks of you. Yet, however much you might think all this would shoot him in the foot, he proves that he's often got a valid point, (which is, moreover, correct in some crucial way; even if it's also rather biased) and that he isn't blind as to the consequences of his choices and actions (he will even admit fault when he did, in fact, screw up according to his own judgment; but, never to that of others on simple say-so). He wages a war of succession, tearing the kingdom apart to be king (he knows this going in; but, he also knows that being a king means having the duty to actually run the kingdom as well as you can manage to — a lesson others all-too-conveniently forget in their various bids for the sheer power of the position)... even though he doesn't actually want to be the king. He's the rightful heir, so there no question in his mind: by law and duty, it has to be done. However, he has a very good grasp of other people's self-serving intentions and capabilities, so knows full well few follow him with any of the duties he cares about in mind: which generally serves to make him despise most of them, even while he'll acknowledge enemies who don't follow him, yet do follow their own principles and laws to the best of their abilities. All these outwardly hardline quirks make most political players write him off as merely a predictable, inflexible and impractical killjoy who is impossible to work with (re: "not corrupt enough to let things slide"). Which can undo them, if they buy into it too much — and he often plays to that, both in the field and in court. By the fifth book, he's still insisting on fighting the War of the Five Kings long after everyone else has stopped caring about it, yet is also one of the very few to have noticed what is going on beyond the Wall. Fighting the Others is also his duty, as he sees it. Yeah, it's complicated.
    • An interesting part of his backstory that illustrates him is one time when he and his army were surrounded and besieged and a smuggler helped them by sneaking in food. Stannis eventually broke the siege and paid the smuggler, as agreed, even very sincerely thanked him... and then he cut off fingers on his hand (although he allowed the smuggler to choose which hand to keep) because he committed the crime of smuggling (the fact that this saved Stannis' life notwithstanding at all). The smuggler still decided to become The Dragon to Stannis.
      • Which goes with his belief that "A good deed doesn't wash out the bad and a bad deed doesn't taint the good one". Punishment for smuggling? Normally, it would be cutting off the right hand. Punishment for smuggling him food to survive and a lifetime of smuggling before that event? Cutting the tops of smuggler's fingers on the left hand, personally. Then giving the smuggler a knighthood, an island to call his own (making him first a landed knight then a lord), with a forest he can hunt in (a huge thing in medieval times, because it is lord's right to hunt) and taking his youngest son as his page and cup-bearer as a reward. No wonder Davos considers him strict but fair.
    • Eddard Stark, Robb Stark, and Jon Snow all try to be Lawful Good, but end up edging into this territory too, having difficulty grasping that "honorable" (i.e. lawful) and "good" aren't always the same. Jaime Lannister a.k.a. the Kingslayer decided not to be this by killing Aerys II (the man he was sworn to protect for life) to make sure that he didn't burn King's Landing. Many see this as his Start of Darkness in-universe, though it also plays a key role in later grasps at redemption.
  • In Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, Rand al'Thor — and every other male good guy — has a completely pointless code of honor about not harming a woman, no matter how evil. Which is nonsensical, since every single chapter of the series shows that the women of that world neither need nor deserve protection. This even extends to when a woman is trying to kill him...
    • This is taken to such extremes that he lets his mentor and only true Aes Sedai ally GET (apparently) KILLED because he refuses to kill his past self's psychotic former girlfriend (don't ask) when she becomes homicidal. Despite the fact that she is also threatening the woman he loves. As of the latest books, he has finally gotten over this along with the rest of his psychological issues.
      • To be fair, Rand knows this is Lawful Stupid. He's using it as a kind of self-imposed Moral Event Horizon to keep the Dark One's corruption from driving him totally insane.
    • Another example from the same series is Galad Damodred, a character described by his half-sister as a man who "does what is right, no matter who is hurt by it, even himself."
      • It should be pointed out that his half-sister is biased, and ironically, Galad is actually less Lawful Stupid than the above.
      • That said, it's amazing what he can justify to himself when it comes right down to it...
        Galad: If you intend to be at Tarmon Gai'don, then you will have to fight alongside Aes Sedai.
        *a 1000-year-old schism in the Forces of Good is resolved instantly*
  • Averted by the main character in Elizabeth Moon's The Deed of Paksenarrion, which was written explicitly as a guide to being a Paladin without being Lawful Stupid, because the author was tired of constantly running into Lawful Stupid paladins at conventions.
  • Eve Forward's Villains by Necessity has the Balance Between Good and Evil central to its plot — if it's not maintained, the world will be sublimated into either a big light blur or a big dark blur with a possible domino effect for other worlds — but supports this mostly by populating the side of Good with Lawful Stupid Knights Templar, with some Stupid Good lackeys for variety. This has the unfortunate effect of undermining the premise, since the "good" antagonists really aren't particularly good people, and the "evil" protagonists mostly aren't particularly evil either. Notably, one such Stupid Good lackey, the centaur bard Robin, eventually clues in and performs a Heel–Face Turn to side with the "evil" protagonists, and the Black Knight called Blackmail turns out to be a legendary paladin who has sided with the protagonists for the sake of saving the world and in disgust at his former True Companions' Lawful Stupid behavior.
  • In Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, there is a small faction of the Covenant called The Governors of Contrition. While the normal Covenant place a large emphasis on the works of the Forerunners being holy, the Governors of Contrition take it to a huge extreme. They even consider The Flood (a plague that turns people into space-zombies) to be worth embracing because it was created by the Forerunners (which it wasn't; in fact, it's the other way round: The Flood in the form of the Precursers created the Forerunners). Even the normally ridiculously dogmatic Covenant realize this is madness.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Percy Weasley, especially in the fifth and sixth books, when he chose to betray his family to side with the Ministry of Magic. By extension, the Ministry themselves fall into this when they try to cover up Voldemort's return to save face and spread the propaganda that Harry and Dumbledore are attention-seeking liars.
    • Argus Filch only hates people that break the rules in Hogwarts - which, given his hidebound and unbending view of school rules (and his tendency to tack anything he can think of onto the list of Forbidden Items), is every single student at Hogwarts. This is exemplified in Book 7 when he seemed more concerned about students breaking the curfews than the fact that the school is under Death Eater attack.
    • Sir Cadogan, a living portrait of a knight in full plate armor, acted under code of chivalry, but is considered mental by the rest of castle. He bravely took the place of the Fat Lady after Sirius Black slashed her painting, and harassed students who couldn't remember his constantly changing passwords. However, Sir Cadogan gladly opened up to Sirius Black, the one person he was supposed to keep out, just because Sirius Black told him the right password by reading it, along with a bunch of old passwords, off a list right in front of Sir Cadogan. Sir Cadogan doesn't see anything wrong with this even when questioned about it.
  • The Vogons from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy are an entire race of Obstructive Bureaucrats. As a whole, they aren't particularly bright, imaginative, intelligent, or even likable. They just run things in a planet-sized Vast Bureaucracy and do what they're told. The book states that they wouldn't even lift a finger to save their own grandmother from the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal without loads of paperwork first. They did destroy Earth, but only because they were making way for a new hyperspace bypass that the planet just happened to be in the way of.
  • Hive Mind (2016): Joint Hive Treaty Enforcement is presented this way. An advocate having broken minor rules as a teenager, even ones that the Hive expects and wants some people to break, could be enough to sabotage their case regardless of the actual legal merits. A shortfall in the number of people at the Sea Farm - even though the people are all in the area, just not living in the immediate vicinity of the Sea Farm itself - could cause all trade to and from the Hive to be blocked, dooming one of the Hive's telepaths and probably killing millions of people.
  • In one of C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower novels, Hornblower can save his ship only by lying to a French officer that Napoleon has recently died. To make the enemy believe him, Hornblower has to support the lie by taking an oath on his honor as an officer. He plans to resign his commission in disgrace at the next port because he has permanently dishonored himself. Fortunately for him, he finds out, by Jove, Napoleon really IS dead, so the lie was the truth all along. In Forester's defense, he conveys the standards of that culture so vividly that the reader can believe in Hornblower's scruples.
  • Victor Hugo's Les Misérables has Inspector Javert, who is Lawful Stupid in that he holds the law so far above any common sense and morality that he chose to commit suicide instead of acknowledging that the hero, despite being a fugitive, was a good guy. There are many ways to interpret Javert's suicide, including the exact opposite of the above. Javert holds such a rigid view of right and wrong and has such a deeply ingrained repugnance for everything he sees as "wrong", that his suicide could be seen as the ultimate acknowledgment of Jean Valjean's virtue. The problem is, if Valjean is in the right, then that means that the dogged, obsessive pursuit of him by Javert was and has always been wrong. I.E. Javert kills himself because he cannot accept that he IS the thing he has spent his entire life fighting — or because he has accepted this, and becomes his own righteous executioner.
  • Cao Cao in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Three Kingdoms period? Arguably; either he is Lawful Stupid, a real master of PR, or simply awesome. In one instance, his troops are marching through wheat fields when Cao orders the men not to trample the wheat or they will be beheaded. Doing so, he wins the peasants' affections, since the peasants would like to eventually eat. Unfortunately, Cao's horse bolts and tramples some of the wheat in a panic. The law technically doesn't apply to Cao Cao. Accounts vary, but in one version Cao either goes to take his own life or orders himself executed. His men intervene and stop him, and Cao Cao instead cuts his hair in disgrace and shows it to the army. Either Cao Cao proved uncharacteristically Lawful Stupid at that moment, or he knew his men would spare him. Regardless, knowing their boss was quite willing to suffer such harsh discipline himself raised his men's morale and discipline greatly. Lawful Stupid or brilliant: could go either way.
  • In the Codex Alera novels:
    • Secretary Pluvix, aide to Lord Gram of Calderon, refused to allow a close ally of Gram's in to see him when Bernard, the ally, is bringing word of an immediate attack on the valley. When Gram is shot by an arrow, Pluvix declares it was Bernard, or at the least, he set things up to bring Gram out and be in view to be killed, and so had Bernard and his companion locked up. That said, his stupidity doesn't mean he isn't without integrity and shows this by protecting a group of children during the attack from a feral bird-beast, bludgeoning the beast to death with his ledgers.
    • The Canim are bound by a strict set of laws, known as the "codes" that they must follow. The Canim, being savvy as to just how much those with less integrity would be willing to abuse the law, established a specialist caste known as "hunters" - spies and assassins whose purpose is to allow their lords to follow the spirit of the codes when someone else abuses the letter of the codes - allowing them to avoid falling victim to being Lawful Stupid.
  • Subverted in The Dresden Files novels.
    • The Knights of the Cross are modern-day Paladins. They are God's chosen warriors and each has a holy sword. When doing God's work, they are invincible. One of the Knights, Michael Carpenter, has a strict code of ethics and honor. The subversion is he balances this with true compassion and pragmatism. He is the best example of Lawful Good which never veers into Lawful Stupid territory.
      • He's also quite willing to adhere to the law himself, while letting others do the dirty work, as exemplified when Michael, Sanya, and Harry confront one of the Denarians, Cassius. Faced with two Knights and a wizard that he can't hope to defeat, Cassius "repents" and gives up his Blackened Denarius, which contains the Fallen Angel that the Knights fight against. Michael and Sanya immediately and without question accept Cassius's clearly false repentance and leave, while Cassius laughs at them for their naivety. They wait outside and listen while Harry turns on the now-defenseless Cassius with a baseball bat, beating the guy to the point of crippling him for the remainder of his life, to get the information they need. Michael points out that he's uncomfortable with what Harry did, but doesn't object more than that.
    • And Harry himself is the master of Loophole Abuse, which is a key survival trait when dealing with the Fae (though by their standards he's merely a somewhat-talented amateur).
    • Harry's early impression of the Wardens is that they're always like this, although it's mostly the hard-nosed fanatic Morgan who gives him that impression. And he's biased since he was unjustly accused of being a Dark Wizard. When Harry gets to know him much better in Turn Coat, he realizes that Morgan isn't fanatic, but rather solidly uncompromising, because a lifetime of hunting down warlocks and seeing none of them be redeemed (until Harry) means that he isn't willing to give them a chance to kill more people.
  • An Eberron novel* averts this: The main character is a paladin, who is traveling with a prostitute. While she never stops belittling his beliefs, he keeps giving her calm and rational arguments as to why selling her body may be a bad idea in the long run. At the end of the book, the paladin and his Warforged companion confront the employer who double-crossed them. The employer is unarmed, with no guards around, and happily turns his back on them, since he knows no paladin would ever kill a defenseless man in cold blood. The pair leave. As they exit the compound...
    Guard: Hey, didn't you have a big axe with you when you came in?
    Warforged: I left it with your boss.
    • More of a subversion, which Eberron loves doing. The Paladin may not have done anything, but he did not stop his companion, either. Lawful Good in Eberron is a lot less of a hard and fast as a rule than most D&D games and the campaign almost explicitly states that not being capable of ruthless pragmatism will get you killed in that world.
      • Eberron is a deliberate deconstruction of the whole D&D alignment trope. The employer in this example was Too Dumb to Live if he expected a paladin to act in any particular way based simply on his class.
  • Hollyleaf of Warrior Cats was turning into this before her death, or disappearance, according to some. Even Jayfeather had thought in Dark River that Hollyleaf was so into Black-and-White Morality that she believes that those who follow the warrior code are good and those who don't are evil.
  • Aversion: The Ankh-Morpork City Watch. There's even an image macro lying around on the Internet somewhere of one of Paul Kidby's illustrations of Sam Vimes, with the caption "This is how you play Lawful Good, you bastards".
    • Carrot is like this in Guards! Guards!. He arrests people for disobeying laws that haven't been enforced in centuries and tries to arrest the Patrician. His biggest mistake, however, probably comes in Jingo, where he gives Sergeant Detritus permission to enact the Riot Act, which gives the Watch the ability to use lethal force on civilians, something that Vimes notes would frighten even Vetinari. Fortunately, Detritus is a slow reader, and Vimes gets there in time to sort it out.
      • When normally Sergeant Colon is made Captain he goes through a bout of the same, although just clamping things (including buildings), rather than actually arresting. Colon is not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
  • In Death series: An FBI agent named Jacoby comes off like this in Betrayal In Death. Commander Whitney even warns Eve to be careful, because this guy could try to hang her up on a technicality.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Prosecutor Jack Emery certainly came off as this early on, but he dropped it by the book The Jury. Reporter Ted Robinson managed to hit a higher level of this than Jack did, and he didn't drop it until either the book Collateral Damage or Final Justice. FBI Agent Erin Powell AKA Honey Sweet was certainly this in Collateral Damage.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Double Star mentioned the case of a Martian who was supposed to be attending an honors ceremony of some sort but showed up late through no fault of his own. Because the Martian culture highly valued "propriety," which included punctuality, he was sentenced to death. Some of the Martian higher-ups argued that because of his youth and the fact that it wasn't his fault, he should be given a second chance at the ceremony, but this chucklehead argued that he deserved the usual punishment and, because of this, was widely regarded as a "hero" by other Martians. This is what happens when this trope is applied to Blue-and-Orange Morality.
  • Everyone in the city of Tonzimmiel is some mix of Lawful Stupid and Lawful Neutral in The Quest of the Unaligned. For example, the entire plot is touched off when ninth-level security chief Alaric loses a bar bet and is required by the terms of his bet to go on the titular Quest Of The Unaligned, losing his job in the process. Justified in that Tonzimmiel was explicitly built as a society ruled entirely by laws, rankings, and contracts.
  • The Clave in The Mortal Instruments, to the point where their leadership is basically a Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering. Actual Lawful Good Shadowhunters frequently find themselves in To Be Lawful or Good situations simply because the Clave is hopelessly bogged down trying to figure out the most lawful way of dealing with just about anything.
  • Among Isaac Asimov's deconstructions of his own Three Laws of Robotics was that they could produce Lawful Stupidity in robots from how Literal-Minded they are. The Zeroth Law Rebellion trope is a response to this by a robot who had grown beyond his programming, able to see beyond the immediate consequences of his actions and judge if violating the Laws would be better for humanity as a whole.
  • In the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries there's a magistrate who is so convinced that Darcy is guilty of theft he won't even consider examining the evidence and running an investigation.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's The Raven, the Elf, and Rachel, Nastasia. Chiefly directed at herself and her friends. She completely accepts a detention for breaking an order in order to pull a Big Damn Heroes and save lives. And she is actually disappointed when it's revealed that it was, in reality, an excuse to get them out of the school without undue attention.
  • Nale from The Stormlight Archive. Obeys the letter of the law, but abuses it to hunt down the people who can help stop the coming apocalypse, because he thinks that if he can stop them from returning, the apocalypse won't happen. He's wrong.
    • Justified, after a fashion. Nale is insane, and knows he's insane, so he chooses to stick to something external to himself and fixed (the laws of men) rather than trust his own damaged mind.
    • Nale's entire Patron Order, the Skybreakers, have become this as most sworn personal loyalty to Nale as their third ideal, and thus are bound to what Nale thinks is right.
  • In Alan Dean Foster's Journeys of the Catechist trilogy, the main character is forced to undertake a long, dangerous quest because a dying man asked him to rescue a woman from the evil sorcerer who kidnapped her. When he and his companions arrive at the sorcerer's castle, they discover that the woman is actually in love with the sorcerer and doesn't have any interest in being "rescued." The main character takes her anyway, on the grounds that he has to honor the last request of a dying person. And once he's gotten her out of the sorcerer's clutches (getting himself killed in the process, but fortunately one of his companions chooses to then reveal that he too is a powerful sorcerer and brings him back to life and taken her back to her relatives, he asks her if there are any requests she'd like from him. She, of course, immediately requests to be taken back to her lover, which he grants.
  • In Worm Dragon is forced to obey all laws. It's one of the many Geases her father laid upon her to limit her. She laments that if she ever found herself in a dictatorship or even just in the clutches of an evil bureaucrat she would have to enforce their regime of terror.
  • An accusation viciously leveled by Revenant against fellow hero Colonel Constitution in Superheroes' "Peer Review" to explain the latter's rather extreme prejudice against the former's methods. Revenant points out that the Colonel uses the Law as a framework for his action, preventing him from having to think too clearly about his actions and whether or not they qualify as justice or oppression. He even tops the analysis off by pointing out that for all his claims of representing the sanctity of freedom and justice, had Constitution been active during World War II, he would have most likely been one of the people guarding the internment camps used to imprison German and Japanese Americans. The Colonel's response to this actually helps Revenant make his case defending his Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right! philosophy.
    Colonel Constitution: Exceptional circumstances call for extreme actions!
    Revenant: I certainly thought so when I acted to help that little girl.
  • In the Ciaphas Cain novels, the Administratum reeks of this.
    • In Caves Of Ice, an annoyed Colonel Kasteen declares martial law when the head of the Administraum for the facility her regiment is defending from an ork invasion demands daily status reports.
    • In The Last Ditch, the regiment crash lands on the planet, so the shuttles assigned to pick them up are deemed destroyed, even though they never left the launch pads. A general order is then issued to clear space for ships that officially exist. When the Planetary Defense Force requests a list of all assets on the planet that can assist in the evacuation of the capital, the Administratum leaves out the shuttles on the orbital docks. Why? Because they're in orbit and therefore technically not on the planet.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Glen Talbot has staked his career on shutting down S.H.I.E.L.D. because that's what the US government wants and doesn't seem to think too hard about how the US military will deal with HYDRA, an organization that even S.H.I.E.L.D. has struggled to contain. Talbot eventually wises up to the point that when HYDRA pulls an attack pretending to be S.H.I.E.L.D. at the UN, he's the first to express doubts it was really they and thereafter quickly evolves into actively cooperating, unofficially, with Coulson.
  • The Vorlons of Babylon 5 were left by the other First Ones to teach the younger species about the benefits of an ordered society, i.e. to have laws and enforce them. They were intentionally set up against the Shadows, who strike fear and sow discord to show the younger species the benefits of chaos—i.e. freedom, competition, and innovation. Between them, they were supposed to move the younger species towards a good, harmonious blend somewhere in the middle. But eventually they got too caught up in "winning" the argument, and so the Vorlons became general order-mongers and the Shadows general chaos-mongers.
  • On Bad Judge, the prosecutor has a touch of this, though more anal than stupid. Some of the humor comes from the clash between his legalism and Rebecca and Tedward's pragmatism.
  • In the two-part finale of Charmed Season 6 it was revealed there was a "good" and a "bad" universe (with ours being the former). However, due to some events in part one that cosmically unbalanced the two universes, even the most minor of infringements of law or courtesy would lead to a horrible punishment in the one supposed to be good. Among the punishments that are seen onscreen are one of the main characters being shot point-blank in the chest for parking her car on her neighbor's property without permission (Leo managed to heal her) and a nurse at the hospital having his hand cut off for using his cell phone indoors. In fact, when the main characters visit the hospital, they discover that the maternity ward is the only area of the hospital not dedicated to treating criminals for the injuries they received at the hands of the police in accordance with this trope. In the Mirror Universe, it becomes good deeds that are punished with death. Even something as simple as saying "God bless you" after someone sneezes. This is too extreme even for the Charmed Ones' evil counterparts to live with, and the two sets of Charmed Ones cooperate to re-balance the universes.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Megara from the original series story "The Stones of Blood" destroyed their own creators for violating the rules they established.
    • The Judoon (rhino space police) are described by the Doctor as logical but stupid. They follow the law exactly, but tend towards overkill and wouldn't think of checking the same floor twice. Physical assault is punished with death with no chance of trial. One threatened to execute a human for playing music too loudly in The Sarah Jane Adventures. This is, of course, Played for Laughs.
  • Fraser from Due South lives for this trope.
    • In the S02E01 episode North, he and Ray are flying to Canada when he realizes their "pilot" is actually a criminal who hijacked the plane. He sits on the information for some time because, as he explains to Ray, "It's a moot point. He has a gun; we don't." When Ray reveals that he took his backup gun on board, Fraser nods approvingly and then says, "I will have to arrest you, of course, once we land."
    • Fraser Sr. isn't much better. He shares an anecdote at one point indicating that he pulled over his late wife for speeding...while he was in the car with her.
    • To be fair, Fraser is as hard on himself as anyone else. In An Eye for an Eye, (S01E13) Fraser encourages a neighborhood watch effort that ends with one member turning to vigilantism. He tells Lt. Welsh that he's taken the liberty of officially reprimanding himself. Welsh tells him to "put it in the file with the rest of them," indicating that (a) this is not the first or second time this has happened, and (b) Fraser reprimanded himself with the Chicago PD, not the RCMP. He has a file of self-inflicted reprimands with an agency he does not work for, in a country he is not a citizen of.
    • In Mountie on the Bounty (S03E12-E13), Fraser throws a gun at a mook because he is only licensed to carry a firearm in Canada. The very second the ship enters Canadian waters, he takes Ray's gun and cuts off the villain's escape route.
  • While the antagonists in Firefly run the gamut, Agent Dobson from the pilot takes the cake. Throughout the episode, he claims the moral high ground and says the crew's crimes won't go unpunished... Even after shooting an unarmed woman, trying to make a backdoor deal with a criminal, bludgeoning a priest who was trying to help him, and holding a mentally unstable girl (whom he had been assigned to seize, not kill) at gunpoint as a hostage. Plus trying to overpower two war veterans and a mercenary alone. All of this was done without understanding why Simon was a criminal, other than he'd stolen Alliance "property".
  • Signalman of Gekisou Sentai Carranger, for all that he's a Sixth Ranger for the team, has had moments where his compulsive need to obey the rules of the road prevents him from helping. He can't run a red light, and must obey traffic signs, even when it's clearly a Bowzack trap.
  • In an episode in season 3 of The Good Place, the titular version of Heaven is run by the committee, bureaucrats who never break the rules, even if it's the right thing to do. When it is revealed to them that no one has gotten into the Good Place in half a millennium because of how in modern society most choices lead to more unintended bad outcomes than intended good ones, the most urgent rule-abiding action they can take is form an investigational team which will take 1,400 years. They are aware this issue is incredibly urgent and that billions of good people will suffer in Hell due to their slow actions but choose to remain bound by their rules no matter what.
  • Before that, the main characters talk to the bean counters responsible for tallying up everyone's good deeds and bad deeds, and the guy in charge sees absolutely nothing wrong or unusual in the fact that literally no one has qualified for the Good Place in over five hundreds years. He himself finds this fact out for the first time when Michael asks him and he checks, and cheerfully reports the result without blinking.
  • Peter Petrelli ("Adam is my friend. I can't let you hurt him.") of Heroes. For clarification: Peter can read minds and Adam has no defense against this. Literally all he had to do was ask Adam if he was evil. You know rather than turning on his friends to support the Big Bad.
  • Hogan's Heroes: Colonel Hogan instantly decides that Crittendon is better off never knowing about the team (and furthermore, that he needs to be kicked out of Stalag 13 fast) when he "jokingly" asks Crittendon what would he do if he found out that the other prisoners were sabotaging the Germans and Crittendon answers that he would give them away to the Germans immediately because what Hogan and his team does is unlawful under the rules the Geneva Convention has set for prisoners of war. Crittendon also constantly bumbles around the camp scheming incredibly stupid escape plans because it's the duty of prisoners of war to escape, not knowing that these efforts occasionally almost draw the Germans' attention upon Hogan's team.
  • Played with in In Plain Sight - Marshal told his superiors that informing a mob boss that his girlfriend, who turned witness against him, is pregnant with his child is a very bad idea. Unfortunately they point out that the US Federal Government had attempted to do this before and the mobster successfully sued the government.
  • Ryoga Shindai in Kamen Rider Saber is so committed to the tenets of the Sword of Logos that he continues to serve under the current Master Logos even as his Ax-Crazy-ness becomes more and more apparent. It takes the Master Logos outright renouncing his title for Ryoga to finally turn against him. Even then, he refuses to ally with the other swordsmen Riders and continues to deem them traitors, even though the only reason they betrayed the guild was to stop Master Logos.
  • In one sketch of The Kids in the Hall, Kevin refuses an offer from a drug dealer on the street and proceeds to tell the police parked near by. In an aside to the audience, as the police frisk the dealer in the background, he explains how right he was in turning them in, and turning his parents in for once having a pot party. Turns out the dealer is clean — he planted the drugs on Kevin, and Kevin ends up arrested.
  • Carol and Phil from The Last Man on Earth are, as near as they can tell, the only two human beings left alive After the End, two years after a virus wiped out mankind. Carol still insists on following all of society's piddling rules. She insists that Phil stop at stop signs and berates him for parking in a handicapped parking spot, and she is appalled to discover that Phil's house is filled with formerly priceless artifacts he's picked up while tooling around America. She also forces Phil to marry her in a sham ceremony before they start repopulating the earth. While some of this is anal-retentiveness she eventually reveals that she doesn't want to "live like an animal". Ironically they crash into the third survivor's truck because Phil didn't stop at a stop sign.
  • Reese in one episode of Malcolm in the Middle where he's sent to boot camp. The drill instructors eventually shape him into the perfect soldier who follows orders without question or free thought. The instructor demonstrates by ordering him to march forward into a wall and remarks, "He'll do that all day." This backfires when he's put in charge of a group for a war games session and his walkie talkie breaks, leaving him paralyzed and unable to do anything except repeatedly request orders from the nonfunctional device. He eventually snaps out of it, but returns to his Chaotic Evil persona and defeats both the opposing side and his own instructors with a tank.
  • Earl from My Name Is Earl can fall into this with regards to his list. One memorable example was when he learned that his winning lottery ticket from the first episode would have been bought by someone else, had he not stolen that man's money immediately beforehand. He promptly gives the other man all of his and Randy's savings, leaving them destitute. Then he promises to give the man even more until they're even, even though the man and Randy both think he's given enough. When he sells his car for cash to survive on, he even wants to give the man that money! The man has to reveal that he doesn't deserve the money and insist that karma wants Earl to have it before the status quo is restored.
  • Dwight Schrute of The Office. He tends to be as extreme about this as you can get away with in an office environment, taking even the slightest vestments of authority way too seriously and reporting minor infractions. This, in turn, is what makes it so satisfying to see Jim go all Bugs Bunny on him.
    • Angela is like this too, but a little less stupid than Dwight. Naturally, it was the basis of a romance between the two.
    • Jim occasionally uses this as the basis of a prank. For instance, he tells Dwight that the rules against wasting valuable office time mean that Dwight must not cease working even for a second and gets out a stopwatch to drive the point home. Dwight is hoisted on his own petard (to the point of peeing in a coke bottle at his desk) because he can't bring himself to admit that that rule if taken to its literal extreme would indeed be stupid.
      Jim: Dwight has not stopped working for a second. At 12:45 he sneezed while keeping his eyes open, which I always thought was impossible.
  • Inspector Sledge Hammer! is this trope. He is a Trigger-Happy Knight Templar Cowboy Cop who blew up an apartment building to deal with one sniper on the roof and once tied a guy to the hood of his car and drove said car around the parking lot at high speed just because the guy was speeding. Possibly a subversion, however, when you realize that Hammer has no qualms about ignoring laws against Police Brutality, excessive force ... and, obviously, blowing up apartment buildings.
  • The Ancients, infamous Neglectful Precursors from Stargate SG-1, would rather let the galaxy be conquered by Scary Dogmatic Aliens (who would then promptly turn on them) or have all life eradicated by replicating killer robots than violate their Obstructive Code of Conduct of non-intervention. They are also very fond of their Disproportionate Retribution, such as wiping out a planet full of people because their leaders were using a weapon a renegade Ancient gave them for conquest or letting Anubis keep his Ascended knowledge and use it to terrorize the galaxy as some kind of twisted punishment for Oma Desala, who he deceived into helping him ascend.
  • Star Trek:
    • Kathryn Janeway of Star Trek: Voyager has occasionally been Lawful Stupid. Several times she has refused to take an opportunity to get the ship home because it would require going against the "values" of the Federation. This isn't always a bad thing, mind — the Federation was envisioned as a near-idealistic society so it would have some values worth keeping to — but it grated on some viewers after a while. And if she had, the show would have been over. Was lampshaded in an episode, where a holographic simulation shows the Maquis taking over Voyager, because of their frustration over Janeway's Lawful Stupid tendencies. In "Madame Captain's" defense, though, the Prime Directive requires this of Starfleet officers; they are literally expected to die rather than violate the Prime Directive. There were times when Janeway's stupid insistence on following this or that rule was so obviously jeopardizing the lives of the crew that any sane and reasonable life-form would have knocked her out and taken over the ship. And then she'd suddenly decide to pull something underhanded in an attempt to get home, before going back to acting all high-and-mighty again, which made her look like the biggest hypocrite. This can be blamed on multiple writers adding to the problem by trying to enforce their own interpretation of her without regard for consistency or the fact that she would be written by others after them.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation was not immune to this.
      • For example, Picard and Worf regard violating the Prime Directive (or using subterfuge to intervene without violating it, which was something Kirk did multiple times) as worse than letting a species go extinct when their planet is about to blow up. See "Homeward", the episode involving Worf's human adoptive brother. In that episode, the crew screws up and one of the aliens discovers he is being misled (Worf's brother beamed his people to the holodeck so that they wouldn't know they were being moved from one planet to another during the transition). His world shattered, the alien man commits suicide rather than face the horrifying decision of abandoning his people forever or living among them but never revealing the truth. YMMV as to whether potentially destroying a culture is preferable to letting the people go extinct.
      • Also the episode "Pen Pals", where only at Data's strong insistence do they decide to trouble themselves to help another planet that's about to explode.
      • In the first season episode "Justice," the Enterprise visits a planet of Lawful Stupids. They're as friendly as can be, but Wesley gets sentenced to death for stepping on some flowers.
      • If you think about it, the whole point of the Prime Directive is recognizing that interfering can do more harm than good. But if a culture is already facing the worst-case scenario (extinction), it's hard to see how Starfleet can make it worse. The only defense to this that kind of makes sense is, "What if they actually weren't going to go extinct and you cause them to go extinct trying to prevent it?" In-universe, characters sometimes try to defend it by invoking the frankly antiquated idea that they could be interfering with a "cosmic plan" by saving a species that was "meant" to go extinct (which if it were truly fated, you wouldn't be able to interfere with anyway, so why worry?).
      • The worst it got was during one of their movies. Let's just say protecting the allegory of Native Americans and their way of life doesn't work if the captain already took part in two Forced Relocations and said allegory was hogging radiation that could save lives... Comparison? There are around 600 natives on the planet. The radiation could save billions.
      • It happened again in the second reboot film when Kirk gets sanctioned, demoted, and yelled at because a stone-age alien culture was influenced and their "natural evolution altered" by the crew of the Enterprise. The reason this occurred was that Kirk had bothered to try and save that species from extinction due to a massive volcanic eruption.
      • Zig-zagged because Pike seemed less upset with the interference than the fact that Kirk put his ship and crew in danger and followed it up with a shoddy attempt at a cover-up. Notably, no other officer was demoted or court-martialed despite them all being part of the action.
      • Star Trek: Enterprise manages to one-up the above examples in "Dear Doctor", as they doom a whole sapient species to death by genetic defect, despite having already developed the cure (they decide not to distribute it). They do this because Archer envisions that there will be some directive against it in the future. In other words, he is stupidly enforcing a law that DOES NOT EXIST YET. It also relies on Dr. Phlox saying that evolution "intends" for the species to go extinct and be replaced by the other species on the planet, which is not at all how science works.
  • Wayward Pines is a Stepford-meets-Camazotz nightmare in which any deviation from prescribed norms, any attempt to escape, and any attempt to talk about the past is punishable by death. Every house and every street is lined with cameras and recorders, and a Shadow Dictator is always watching you. Such behaviour is Lawful Stupid on its face, because no human society could function under such constant duress. But there's more. Wayward Pines is in fact the last human settlement on Earth; the rest of humanity has devolved into cannibalistic crazies. The guy who made this town knew this would happen and so forcibly abducted large numbers of people back in our time and kept them in cryonic suspension for 2000 years in the hopes of preserving a human population. When he revived them and told them of their situation, they were naturally not all that prepared for it, and promptly died. So, what did he do? Did he decide to perhaps gradually introduce his victims to the reality he had forced them into? Maybe try to instill a sense of hope and purpose? No. He decided to keep everyone in the dark and kill anyone who came close to finding out what was going on. Keep in mind, these were the last people left alive on Earth, so he couldn't have had many in reserve.

  • Ray Stevens' "Super Cop" is about a cop who solves problems in very humorous and unintelligent ways, such as shooting a man in the foot to justify his parking in a handicapped space, or forcing a woman to consume one of her purchases due to having 11 items in a 10-item express lane. Unfortunately, it's the corn oil.

    Myths & Religion 
  • From Hindu Mythology: Daksha hated his son-in-law, Shiva, for living a rather chaotic lifestyle. Shiva doesn't mind that until his wife, Shati, committed suicide in grief of her father defiling and mocking her beloved. Shiva was infuriated; he later killed Daksha, then revived him, with a goat's head as punishment.
  • In The Bible, the Pharisees are generally characterized this way. These were the top religious guys, who knew every law backwards and forwards and took great pride in following them to the letter (and made sure everyone else knew it). Until some carpenter from a backwater town started calling them out saying "Hey guys, you're doing it wrong." The fact that he claimed to be the Son of God (you know, the one who wrote the laws in the first place), and backed up that claim with miraculous powers, didn't make them any more inclined to listen to him; in fact, they got their knickers all in a twist just because he had the gall to heal somebody on the Sabbath day. That, and the fact that he was starting a movement that threatened their power meant that he and his followers had to be silenced by any means necessary.

    Newspaper Comics 

  • A recurring Bob & Ray character, police officer Rorshack. In one episode, for instance, he loses some change, believes that he's been pickpocketed, has the entire city cordoned off, and orders his fellow officers to detain anyone walking the streets and to shoot anyone who doesn't comply.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Planescape describes the "lawful over good" approach as a characteristic of the entire plane of Arcadia (between LG and LN). It's the primary plane of influence of the Harmonium faction. That is until the Hardheads managed to slip a whole layer into Mechanus, the straight LN plane, by being too lawful. And got La Résistance, including proxies of Arcadian gods who weren't too happy that they had to re-create their domains, surprise. AD&D Player's Guide to the Planes:
      ... the Harmonium believes that peace is a better end than war. [...] If it takes thumping heads to spread the truth, well, the Harmonium's ready to thump heads. Sure, there may not be peace right away, but every time the Harmonium gets rid of an enemy, the multiverse is that much closer to the universal harmony it was meant to have.
    • The Mercykiller faction also has slants of this. As their name implies, they're dedicated strictly to justice, without compassion, without compromise. Mercy is an evil that must be extinguished because it pollutes justice. This is what happens when, somehow, a Lawful Good philosophy and a Lawful Evil one, both believing in the sanctity of justice and retribution, merge.
    • The Modrons are an entire species of this, thanks to being the "elemental embodiments" of the Lawful Neutral alignment. If something does not match up with their procedural assessment of the situation, then they won't react to it. In one of the first adventures of the Great Modron March campaign, the party has to try and help a town that is in the way of the Modrons. See, three centuries ago, the last March established strict routes and procedures to take so they wouldn't cause any damage. But since then, things have changed in the town. The Modrons won't listen to the town's leaders when they explain this and stick to their routes from three centuries ago. And if this means smashing through buildings, or killing anyone who can't get out of the way fast enough, so be it.
    • In the 3.5 Players Handbook II, we have the Knight class. In an attempt to make the archetypal Knight in Shining Armor, they instead managed to make "Lawful Stupid: The Class". For example: Flanking an enemy will make you lose one of your Knight's Challenge (core ability of the class), and if your Knight’s Challenge ability is not available when you violate the code (for example, if you have exhausted your uses for the day), you take a –2 penalty on attack rolls and saves for the rest of that day. You also can't strike a flat-footed opponent. In fact, the class is written in such a strange way that several players have written guides and fixes to stop the Knight from being the epitome of Lawful Stupid. This is especially painful since the description of the Knight class says that it's supposed to be for people who want to play a Paladin-like character without the Paladin's overly-restrictive code of conduct.
    • Somewhat averted in the Greyhawk campaign setting. The predominantly Lawful Good followers of the god Heironeous in what became the kingdoms of Furyondy and Nyrond seceded from the Great Kingdom of Aerdy rather than be subject to the increasingly Lawful Evil nature of its government and favored god Hextor. That said, Lawful Stupid remains the favored alignment in the Theocracy of the Pale. This is to be expected from a country that follows Pholtus, the Lawful Neutral deity who's nickname is "The Blinding Light" and whose tenets teach that followers should always follow orders blindly. Throw on a huge helping of Fantastic Racism against non-humans (basically, anyone who's half-human, such as half-orcs and half-elves, are worthy only of being slaves and anyone who's not human at all like elves, dwarves, and halflings should be outright exterminated).
    • Pholtus's rival, St. Cuthbert, oddly averts this. Though "uphold the law" is one of his core principles, St. Cuthbert is also a god of wisdom and common sense, and he disallows evil worshippers. He encourages worshippers to avoid harming anyone who doesn't deserve it and to think about consequences of order, and one of his core holy books is about solving problems through reason. (For instance, in the old "man stealing bread to feed his starving family" dilemma, the Cuthbertine solution would be to punish the man, but give him a light sentence.) Unfortunately, it seems many of his worshippers miss the point of this - he's quite popular among the Harmonians above.
      • For that matter, Cuthbert himself is portrayed as having a serious problem with being judgmental, self-righteous and opinionated, with his general attitude typically being portrayed as "I know best, so do what I say, or I'll thump you upside the head". His alignment has wavered between Lawful Good and Lawful Neutral in multiple editions, mostly due to this trait. His faith also has something of an Anti-Intellectualism streak, mostly Tall Poppy Syndrome and Ludd Was Right — one of the Cuthbertine holy books is "Parables of the Wise Fool", in which an uneducated rural man shows up any number of educated cityfolk on topics of importance to rural life, simply because "he has more common sense".
    • Inevitables, a clockwork race whose sole function of existence is to keep the multiverse running according to law, often show this:
      • Elder Evils, a book from the 3.5 edition of Dungeons & Dragons, features a canonical example of a Lawful Stupid inevitable in the form of Obligatum VII, a kolyarut (an inevitable who enforces contracts) who wants to free an unstoppable Eldritch Abomination named Pandorym. Is it because Obligatum is an Omnicidal Maniac? No, it's actually because the dumbasses wizards who imprisoned Pandorym in the first place broke a contract with said Abomination by imprisoning it. Oh, and that "VII" in Obligatum's name? He's the seventh inevitable in the Obligatum series. If the party saves the universe by destroying it, Mechanus will just send another one, because enforcing that contract is more important than their own divine existences.
      • Other Inevitables cleave very close to this trope on occasion. There's even one type of Inevitable that will kill you for living too long, should you do so by unnatural or extreme means (such as becoming a lich or sacrificing many other lives for your own protection). Ironically, there's an Inevitable caste whose mission is to protect the existing divine pantheons — which means that Obligatum should be coming under fire from a member of this much stronger caste.
      • In fact, that very variety of inevitable — called a varakhut — shows signs of this mentioned in the book where it is first described. One of their tasks is to protect the integrity of divinity by hunting down beings who are attempting to ascend to godhood. However should the attempt be successful, the Varakhuts will then defend the new god as part of the natural order, as they are also tasked with hunting down any being who attempts to kill a god. Clearly, sometimes Law, even beings of pure Law, are confusing.
      • Not to beat a dead horse, but there's another type of Inevitable called a Quarut with very Lawful Stupid tendencies. They're in charge of protecting the integrity of space and time, usually against wizards with the power to alter reality with spells that grant wishes or time travel. Nothing wrong with that, right? Here's the problem: they do so by using the exact same time- and space-altering magic, in effect causing them to break the very rules that they enforce.
    • Kelemvor Lyonsbane, the Lawful Neutral god of the dead in Forgotten Realms, has the Wall of the Faithless. Anyone who dies without having worshiped a god has their soul merge with the Wall, destroying them until there's no mind or personality left of them. People who live in areas where there is no religion featuring gods to worship are bound to end up there — even though they have no other option. You can give money to the poor, make clothes for the orphans, and be the nicest person around... but because you didn't worship a god, then all in all, you're just another brick in the wall.
      • In Kelemvor's defense, even he doesn't like the Wall of the Faithless, but his hands are tied. He originally tore down the Wall and instigated a program of judging every dead soul who passed to his realm for their behavior in life. This led to people hurling themselves into suicidal danger, because they now knew that they had a reward coming for being good. As Top God Ao had recently altered the gods to depend upon worship for their powers and sustained existence, Kelemvor was unintentionally starving entire pantheons of their power, and they united to force Kelemvor to reinstate the Wall of the Faithless. In short, Kelemvor has being Lawful Stupid enforced on him, because he wants to get rid of the Wall of the Faithless but the other gods in the Forgotten Realms won't let him.
    • Another Lawful Stupid moment from Kelemvor is present in Neverwinter Nights 2 — Mask of The Betrayer. He claims he can't deal with the spirit eater curse because it would be overriding another god. This appears to be a moral issue rather than physically unable to help. The trouble is that not only is the god who made the curse (Myrkul) dead, but Kelemvor is said god's successor. In short, Kelemvor could easily help, but won't because of a law from his predecessor that Kelemvor could change any time he wanted because he now owns Myrkul's divine mantle.
    • This is a negative stereotype commonly associated with Helm, God of Duty & Obedience, Patron Deity of Watchmen and Guardsmen. A tendency to fall into this has been a particularly common accusation against both Helm and his faithful ever since the Time of Troubles, when Helm's response to Mystra's attempt to force her way back into the Outer Planes was to kill her (arguably self-defence since she attacked him even after being warned not to, but their difference in power meant it wasn't a 'battle' by any metric), further damaging the already strained power of magic and creating the hitherto unknown phenomena of Dead Magic Zones and Wild Magic Zones (also called Helmlands by people who want to put the blame where it belongs). It got even worse when some of his worshipers traveled to Maztica, the Realms Mexico-analogue, where they proceeded to act like conquistadors.
    • The core rules try to avert this for Paladins. The Player's Handbook states clearly that when a paladin is faced with a dilemma between Law and Good, the Paladin should choose the Good option every time. In the first edition at least, the penalty for an intentional Chaotic act was losing your Paladin abilities until you atoned (by spell or quest) whereas the penalty for an intentional Evil act was permanent loss of Paladin status. In Third Edition, the penalty for committing an intentional Chaotic act was... technically nothing at all, if the act does not count as a gross violation of the Code of Conduct — excepting that, the only penalty for it was the risk that if you kept it up, you'd slip into Neutral Good (which would make you into an ex-Paladin). The penalty for committing an intentional Evil act was becoming an ex-Paladin, no alignment-change necessary.
      • The Paladin's Handbook had many Lawful Stupid rules. For example, it's unthinkable for a paladin to retreat from battle unless his side is severely outmatched (at least outnumbered 2 to 1). Thus using such tactics (such as retreating to continue the fight on more advantageous terms, to trick the enemy side into committing some tactical error, or for whatever strategic reasons) are clearly against a Paladin's ethos. What to do if he's just ordered to disengage without an explanation? The same book also forbade Paladins from associating with evil characters, failing to realise that a) just because the guy is evil it doesn't mean that he can't serve good (by helping save the world for example); b) that the mere presence of a Paladin will limit how much evil the evil party member can do; c) that the presence of a paladin leading by example could perhaps lead said evildoer to abandon his evil ways and turn neutral or good. The Paladin's Handbook even suggested Paladins should avoid associating with a party mostly composed of neutral characters. The book insisted that Paladins could only stick around such groups for as long as absolutely necessary, and then that they should part ways ASAP.
      • Fifth Edition has changed Paladins so they do not have to be traditionally lawful and can be outright evil with certain oaths. Each Paladin takes an Oath and are bound to follow its tenets, but these tenets range wildly from Oath of the Ancients's oath to kindle the light of hope, to the Oath of Conquest's demand to crush all the hope of your enemies. While the more traditional Oath of the Crown demands you follow the law, it usually means you must follow and protect the laws of the monarch you swore the oath to, rather than every law of every nation you happen to be in. The only Oaths that have tactical combat implications are the Oath of Redemption, which has a tenet requiring that you use violence as a last resort, and the Oath of Conquest and Oath of Vengence, both of which require that you be even more brutal to crush your enemies and make sure they stay crushed.
    • A lot of celestial beings fall under this trope. They are considered the opposite of demons from the hells. Demons are flat-out evil and selfish, merely doing things for their own gain, even if it means leaving a mountain of corpses behind them. Celestials on the other hand, are usually so Lawful Stupid that they can be just as destructive. In fact, it can be difficult to differentiate their self-proclaimed "Lawful Good" from "Chaotic Evil" at times. Even worse is that players in the middle of these conflicts tend to fall towards evil just protecting themselves from said beings. And that's not counting the number of celestials who let their hatred for demons get so strong that they turn to evil, becoming Fallen Angels and joining the Lawful Evil devils to fight them. It's like they don't get that devils winning the Blood War wouldn't be any less disastrous.
    • One of the stupidest versions can be found with this lovely mechanic of the first edition Cavalier. As a result of the code and the desire for battle, cavaliers cannot be controlled in battle situations. They will charge any enemy in sight, with this order of preference:
    • This trope is often specifically addressed in various Lawful Good religions, where it's spelled out that protecting the innocent and doing good is more important than upholding the letter of the law. Paladins of Tyr, Torm, and Bahamut — the gods of justice, duty and honor in the Forgotten Realms — are reminded to oppose laws that can be shown to be unfair or oppressive, and not to enforce them. Lampshaded in The Prince of Lies. The god of thieves, Mask, expresses surprise that Torm is willing to participate in a covert plot to undermine Cyric: "I always figured you for a storm-the-front-gates-in-broad-daylight sort of strategist!".
    • In the Dragonlance setting, we have the Kingpriest of Istar, who sought to eradicate evil from the world. He started out by leading crusades against evil monsters, and eventually progressed to having priests wandering the land using mind-reading spells and executing anybody who even had an evil thought. Eventually, he sought to become a god, to finally fulfill his quest. The real gods dropped a giant meteor on Istar, destroying the city, killing thousands, and setting human civilization back 1,000 years, just to stop him. Despite all this, Paladine, the lead god of good, still considers him to be a good man — and exhibit A in the case for the Balance Between Good and Evil.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, White Magic is the color of order and law, which, since all five colors can encompass good, evil and neutral creatures, can easily be twisted into dogmatism and tyranny. Most examples of this happening are treated dead seriously as villains for their set, but there are no shortage of comedic cards showing bullheaded bureaucrats or idiotic paladins. For instance the un-set Unstable has the Order of the Widget, so devoted to honor through artifice that they literally turn themselves to toasters (their leader apparently has gone to the point of not being a sapient creature anymore).
    • On a more serious note, there is Azor, a white-blue planeswalker who plunged his home plane into a centuries-long Civil War. He set up a comprehensive set of rules for a perfect society, and handed them to a faction he charged with upholding and enforcing said rules. When they failed, he went to the next plane, and so on. He never realized that some people might not like his rules, that a bit of flexibility might have been better than trying to account for every contingency, and that some of the people he granted power would inevitably abuse it. Centuries later, he still hasn't figured it out.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Toward the end of the Strange Aeons adventure path, the party travels back in time to wake themselves up at the beginning of the campaign as part of stopping a Great Old One from waking up, and an aeon attacks them for using time travel, not caring about the circumstances. At least in first edition, which the adventure path was published for, aeons were True Neutral. (Although in second edition, they were changed to be Lawful Neutral)
  • Warhammer:
    • Lord Mazdamundi of the Lizardmen, who has ruled that all species have to go back to within the boundaries set for them 20,000 years ago by a race who disappeared when Chaos first came to the Warhammer world. Part of this involves putting all of the elves back on Ulthuan — high elves, dark elves, and wood elves. The main downside to this? High elves hate dark elves, dark elves hate high elves, and wood elves hate everybody. The culture of the elves would be reduced to burning ruins within a year. Throw in the fact that Elves are manning many of the ex-Lizardmen anti-Chaos wards outside of Ulthuan... yeah, this makes standard Lawful Stupid look clever.
    • This is a big part of the reason why the Dwarfs are dying out: any slight on their honour, no matter how minor or unintentional on the part of the offender, must be repaid in blood. They're nearly constantly taking losses in pointless wars against practically everyone. Thankfully under High King Thorgrim Grudgebearer, though, they're starting to grow out of this self-destructive tendency.
    • Why'd they start dying out in the first place? Because the Slann took a look at the state of the continents and noticed that a mountain range or two had drifted away from the place the Old Ones had put it in. So they put it back in place, never mind those short hairy guys living in the mountains. The destruction of the dwarf empire allowed the Chaos-worshipping Skaven to take over most of their territory.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has a few examples of this.
    • Many Chapters of Imperial Space Marines suffer from this. Some of them decry any form of stealth as cowardice; others refuse to retreat even when strategically or tactically viable out of a sense of martial pride; and others still refuse to field psykers, work alongside aliens, or even ally with anyone else at all because of deeply-held suspicions and prejudices (although the no psykers is more an entirely justified case of not wanting to deal with a potential daemonic breakout during a battle). The Space Marines' holy book, the Codex Astartes, actually discourages this sort of behavior and contains all sorts of useful and varied tactical advice; however, adhering too closely to the Codex Astartes can cause a Chapter to enter Lawful Stupid territory from the other direction.
    • The Ultramarines are probably the number one victim of Accentuate the Negative because of this. The Codex Astartes was not considered a document of holy significance in Guilliman's time. In fact, the Emperor specifically tried to promote atheism throughout the Imperium. Marneus Calgar came to the conclusion, upon reflection, that he was being Lawful Stupid and that Guilliman never intended for the Codex Astartes to be this way. So, in conclusion, in the grim darkness of the far future, there's always room for Character Development. At least until it was retconned in the fifth edition Space Marine Codex.
    • The Monodominant faction of the Inquisition are, as a group, fanatically devoted to the letter of Imperial law and dogma, to the point that they are considered xenophobic and reactionary even by the xenophobic and reactionary standards of the Imperium. Monodominants fervently believe that only genetically pure and religiously faithful humans deserve to exist and that everything else - aliens, daemons, heretics, malcontents, traitors, and mutants, up to and sometimes including the psykers that the Imperium needs in order to continue functioning - needs to be killed with fire. Other Inquisitors tend to consider the Monodominants bombastic, closed-minded, and self-defeating, and note that their pogroms and witch hunts tend to bury more answers than they uncover (and, less importantly, tend to kill a lot of innocent people in the process). The Monodominants usually respond by loudly accusing their detractors of heresy and attempting to kill them (with fire).
    • Ogryns are fiercely loyal beings who would never knowingly betray the Imperium or the God Emperor. However, they have the collective IQ of a doorknob and can be easily tricked into thinking anyone is betraying the God-Emperor by just pointing at someone and yelling traitor.
    • Another great example of Lawful Stupid space marines comes from the later Dawn of War Expansion Packs. In Dark Crusade the fight between the Space Marine Blood Ravens and the Redshirt Army Imperial Guard is at least justified: planet holds relics that, if exposed, might prove Blood Ravens to be a Traitor Legion successor. Soulstorm tops it by also adding the Church Militant Adepta Sororitas and having almost no backstory explaining why three fanatically loyal Imperial factions are trying their damnedest to annihilate each other.
    • Dawn of War 2: Chaos Rising gives us a unique example of a Lawful Stupid Space Marine inside the Blood Ravens Chapter: Honour Guard Captain Apollo Diomedes. Although he is pure, he is singularly bent on obeying Chapter Master Kyras (who is corrupted by Chaos). He transmits and defends Kyras' order to stop defending Blood Raven recruiting worlds against the Black Legion incursion. He then goes on to label Gabriel Angelos and the player as 'renegades' of the chapter when they don't stop. (Un)fortunately, his Lawful stupidity does not come without consequences in two of the three possible outcomes for him: the two bad endings have him either (a) die to Heavy Bolter fire from Avitus or (b) become corrupted by Apothecary Gaelan. If the player completes the relevant mission's sidequest and frees Apothecary Gaelan from demonic possession, Apothecary Gaelan lampshades this by saying "[Captain Apollo's] pride blinds him."
    • Gabriel Angelos is not impeccable himself. When the people who have been guarding an Artifact of Doom for centuries tell you that destroying it is not a good idea, you should probably listen to them however rude and unconvincing they are and not smack it with your hammer.
    • Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine discusses this in the ending, where after defeating a Chaos Sorcerer, Captain Titus is turned to the Inquisition by his battle brother Leandros, who accuses him of being tainted due to his resistance to the warp. Titus states that the Codex Astardes is a set of rules that are meant to shape and guide them, but the true test of a Space Marine is how one lives with said rules. In his eyes, Leandros has failed this test. note 
    • In one Gaunt's Ghosts novel, an officer is arrested for insubordination because he had been ordered to advance along a certain road and engage the enemy and was forced to detour around a traffic obstacle (While still obeying the important part of the orders - to engage the enemy). Gaunt recognizes the sheer idiocy of this and does everything he can to get the charges dropped.
  • In Hunter: The Reckoning, several groups of hunters seemed to fall exclusively into the realm of Lawful Stupid (Zeal-based Creeds whose philosophy was "the only good monster is a dead monster") or Stupid Good (Mercy-based Creeds who tried to redeem or wouldn't defend themselves against even the worst monsters).
  • Solar and Lunar Exalted have character flaws built into the game system, meaning that for the highest Virtue there's an added Virtue flaw. The very idea of the mechanic is that at worst, especially Solars may succumb to the pitfalls of being called "Lawgivers." And then there's She Who Lives In Her Name who practically enforces this trope.
  • The Computer in Paranoia — and since The Computer is in charge, this basically means not being Lawful Stupid in Alpha Complex is treason. This has gotten the entire Complex destroyed at least once.
  • Blood Bowl is not immune to this either, it has this in the form of the teams Bright Crusaders and the appropriately-named Heroes of Law, both aiming to set a good example by not breaking any rules of the game in trying to achieve victory. Because of how prominent cheating is in the game and the natures of most teams, they tend to not win very often at all. Blood Bowl is, after all, a game in which even the ones who make the rules cheat, and death is extremely common among its players, so sticking to the rules is suicidal.

  • In Jesus Christ Superstar, Pontius Pilate is depicted in this sense. The powers that be, as well as the angry mob, demand that Jesus be crucified. Pilate recognizes that he sees somebody who hasn't actually committed a crime. He is, however, duty-bound to follow Roman law and the edict of his superiors. That's why he gave Jesus every opportunity to confess to anything; both to spare Jesus from martyrdom, and to spare himself from condemning an innocent man. Ironically, he could've theoretically delayed the inevitable as much as he needed, but Jesus's desire to die for the sins of humanity finally wore Pilate down, and he "washed his hands" of what would happen from there, while still viewing Jesus as innocent.
  • Inspector Javert, from the musical (and yes, the book as well) Les Misérables, is rapidly approaching the embodiment of Lawful Stupid by story's end. Once a criminal, always a criminal is his mantra. He attempts to arrest the highly successful and well-loved mayor of a town who was running a factory explicitly for people who couldn't afford to live otherwise (all-around hero Jean Valjean) for the heinous crime of a parole violation years previous. He also attempts to arrest Valjean (whom he knows is superhumanly strong and a criminal facing decades of hard labour) armed only with a baton. Unsurprisingly, Valjean (who can pick up a fully-loaded cart) over-powers Javert and escapes. This wasn't due necessarily to Javert's stupidity (he's generally an intelligent man), but to his belief that "good" always overcomes "evil", where "good" and "evil" are equal to "law" and "crime", respectively.
  • The Pirates of Penzance:
    • The titular pirates are so extraordinarily Lawful Stupid that they're barely even pirates by the time of the play. While they have no problem kidnapping young ladies, they feel the need to marry them before any ravishing takes place. They refuse to attack forces weaker than them because it's dishonorable. They will never attack an orphan, being orphans themselves, and word has got around to the point that it seems that every ship they take is manned entirely by orphans. In fact, at the end of the play, they stand down from battling with the police after being ordered to yield in the name of Queen Victoria, and "for all our faults, we love our Queen."
    • Frederick is the embodiment of Lawful Stupid, as the subtitle "The Slave of Duty" indicates. He rejoins the pirates and betrays the Major-General and Mabel to them, just because of a technicality in a contract that was signed on his behalf when he was a small child. Especially when you consider the fact that the contract was arranged by accident in the first place. His hearing-impaired nursemaid was supposed to apprentice him to be a pilot, not a pirate.
    • General Stanley isn't immune either, being so wracked with guilt it leaves him sleepless after telling the Pirates he's an orphan — sure, doing so easily saved his family without bloodshed and made him an entire crew of pirates as allies, but it was a LIE! Going one further, he states that it's a lie because of the family portraits over the fireplace. They aren't even HIS family.
  • The Duke of York from William Shakespeare's Richard II is determined to obey the law of the land above all else, no matter his own feelings or convictions. He refuses to support his nephew Henry Bolingbroke's bid for the throne (since that would be supporting an act of treason), but once Bolingbroke is crowned he will do anything to support him—to the point of reporting his own son to the king for planning a conspiracy. He even goes so far as to beg Bolingbroke to put the boy to death, and is revolted when the king considers mercy! York's whole arc serves as a pretty damning indictment of anyone who thinks that they can be a good or noble person simply by following the rules, without giving any thought to the (im)morality behind them.

  • The Vahki law enforcer robots from BIONICLE were programmed to always follow the orders of Turaga Dume, whatever those orders were. It worked fine because Dume was a Reasonable Authority Figure, but then he was replaced and impersonated by Makuta, who ordered them to start imprisoning the Matoran population and turning the city into a Police State and they did so without hesitation. And then they glitched up into Kill All Matoran.

    Video Games 
  • The Principal in Baldi's Basics in Education and Learning patrols the school halls for anyone who breaks the rules. If he catches you breaking a rule, he'll chase you down and send you to detention with each capture making your next detention session longer. He does this despite the fact that Baldi is chasing you down aiming to beat your ass senseless with a ruler and other students breaking the rules in front of him. A patch changed the Principal's behavior slightly where he'll actually send the bully to detention if he catches him stealing from you.
  • One rather cruel example can crop up if you have the paladin Keldorn in your party in the D&D-based game Baldur's Gate II. If you accept his offer to visit his home, you'll find that his wife has been cheating on him out of loneliness and concern for their children, as Keldorn is always off crusading. The most obvious thing to do is to let him follow the "lawful" path and report his wife's infidelity to the authorities, which results in her permanent incarceration, the execution of her lover, and his two daughters hating him forever. Keldorn himself is more than happy enough to take a "good" alternative that involves talking with the lover (who willingly steps down if Keldorn faces him) and reconciling with his family — although this causes him to temporarily leave the party.
    • Keldorn in general is an aversion, being older and more level-headed. The initial part of the game has you working with the local Thieves' Guild; if Keldorn is in your party, he'll grumble about it, but he accepts that it's necessary to resolve your situation.
    • The game has a traditional example in Anomen, who vies for paladinhood and won't shut up about how far above everything else this places him. Compare:
      Anomen: A dank cesspool of base corruption if ever there was one. Why, if not for the Order, the Gods would surely smite man for such sins!
      Keldorn: Where men gather, a bustle of chaos ensues. I would save them all if I could.
      • Anomen isn't Good at the start. He gets better if that is changed.
  • Even Batman falls under this trope during the Arkham Series. Throughout the series, Batman follows his traditional no-kill policy. While admirable at first, eventually it becomes gratuitous to the point where Batman is essentially allowing his worst villains to commit horrible atrocities. This comes to a head at the end of Batman: Arkham City, when the dying Joker begs Batman to give him the antidote to his illness. Batman actually contemplates allowing The Joker to die, noting that every time he throws Joker in Arkham or Blackgate, Joker just breaks out and causes more trouble. While Batman's final words to the Joker were him claiming that he would have saved Joker, it's heavily implied that this is false.
    • The Gotham City story "The Fall" from Batman: Arkham Knight, adds an even bigger emphasis on this trope. During the story, we learn that in order to provoke Jason Todd, the Joker murdered an entire kindergarten class, chopped the children's bodies into pieces, then sewed them back together so that the grieving parents wouldn't be able to identify which child is theirs. This turned out to be the final straw for Jason Todd, who sought out the Joker with the intent to kill him. Given that Batman allows someone like that to continue living, this trope is in full effect.
  • Castlevania: the reason the Belmont clan ever had the Vampire Killer to begin with is that way back in Lament of Innocence, their idiot ancestor went tearing off to go storm a vampire's castle with no weapon after he resigned from knighthood and had his weapons stripped from him. Reason? The knights and church couldn't be bothered to help him rescue Sarah from a vampire because they apparently find fighting heretics more important. Leon was then all "screw you all, I'll do it myself." Leon was also dumb in that, while he was stripped of his title and weapons, he still very likely could have taken one as he left, but didn't since as he was no longer a knight, they were not his to use. While those weapons would have been far less effective than the whip ended up being, anything would have certainly been better than running in empty-handed.
  • Dead or Alive: Kasumi's entire dilemma stinks of this; for leaving the clan without permission to kill Raidou and avenge her brother Hayate, she is marked a traitor that needs to be put down. In a cutscene from Dead or Alive: Dimensions, Hayate initially wants to find Kasumi and bring her home, but Shiden, Hayate and Kasumi's own father, blatantly tells him that, as the next leader of the clan, his loyalty is to the clan itself first and foremost.
  • Disgaea:
    • To some people, Seraph Lamingtont of Disgaea 1 can come off as Lawful Stupid or Stupid Good. This is all a lie, as Lamington is a grade-A Chessmaster. Archangel Vulcanus, on the other hand, is either bonafide Lawful Stupid or just flat-out Lawful Evil.
    • Adell from Disgaea 2 constantly insists on fair fights and keeping promises. This would be all well and good if it wasn't for one teensy weensy little fact: everyone within a 100-mile radius is a savvy hellspawn willing to milk this for all its worth. Rozalin spends quite a deal of time wondering how this kind of behavior hasn't killed him already. His attitude actually leads him to achieve heroic victory.
  • Ser Cauthrien, a brave, honourable female knight who is The Dragon to the main (human) antagonist Loghain in Dragon Age: Origins. Although she is aware of most of the awful things done by her master, including betraying the King and the Grey Wardens at Ostagar, she keeps trying to justify him because of her misguided sense of loyalty and duty, and will eventually attack the protagonist, who seeks to stop Loghain's plans. She can be talked out of her unwavering loyalty, but more likely you'll have to kill her.
    • There's a strong element of Hero Worship going on here as well — she's a) a commoner and b) a woman, and Loghain personally elevated her to knighthood on her own merits rather than judging her by the decidedly stuffy, sexist standards typical of Thedas' nobility. If you're persuasive enough, this eventually breaks down and she asks that you rescue Loghain from himself.
  • The Arishok in Dragon Age II is in Kirkwall because the Qun, the set of rules that all Qunari follow, demands that he find the person who stole a book from him and punish the one responsible. Throughout the whole thing, several characters (including Player Character Hawke, depending on what dialogue choices the player picks) end up Stating the Simple Solution that it's just a book and the Arishok should really just let it go. The Arishok even admits that he finds the corruption of Kirkwall to be revolting, but he still outright refuses to leave the city until the rules of the Qun are satisfied. He'll even cop to it if Hawke calls him out on it. This eventually leads to the Arishok becoming the boss of Act II of the story, as the Arishok eventually snaps and goes on a bloody rampage throughout Kirkwall, because the Qun says he could do that and because he didn't see any other way out that both got him what he wanted and still followed the rules.
    Hawke: I see a man willing to start a war on principle.
    The Arishok: What would the Qunari be without principle? You, I expect.
  • In Dragon Quest XI, the knight Hendrik's rigid adherence to his king's order to arrest The Chosen One Player Character leads to him trying to kill the king's daughter Jade for standing in his way. One of the several problems with this is that she was believed to be dead and as a result was the casus belli for his crusade. He spent half the game trying to arrest the player for a crime he was about to commit himself. It isn't until his best friend tries to kill him that he realizes something is horribly wrong with his side, and he makes up for it by becoming the Sixth Ranger.
  • Dwarves in Dwarf Fortress are usually considered this by their community. They have a very lawful ethos, but the actual justice system is fairly ridiculous and usually serves to punish the one dwarf most necessary for the survival of your fortress because some noble demanded you make something impossible and threw a tantrum when it wasn't made. They're also quite prone to Artificial Stupidity, doing things like dodging off of ledges, disregarding danger in favor of loot, building walls from the wrong side and trapping themselves, and other such moronic things.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The City Guards play this unerringly straight throughout much of the series. Commit any crime in their presence, from assaulting people with fire spells, to outright murder, to accidentally stealing an item worth one gold while attempting to speak to a merchant, and they will swarm you. They'll attempt to arrest you, and will try to kill you if you refuse to comply. Think you've escaped? Not so fast...they've been known to literally track you halfway across the game world attempting to bring you to justice.
    • Up to Eleven with the city guards in Oblivion. They shout the same phrase, in the same tone of voice, whether you've just murdered someone in cold blood or have stolen a sweetroll.
    • Skyrim:
      • Finally averted for the first time in the series by the city guards. If your bounty is low enough, you can easily get away with simply a slap on the wrist for picking up something that happened to be owned by somebody else if you just pay off the relatively small bounty. In some cases, they won't even take you with them to the keep, and will simply let you go immediately after paying off your bounty and giving them your stolen goods, and they have a lot more forgiving attitude than the guards in previous games. Also, if your crime is minuscule enough, you can talk them into just letting you go your way with a simple "don't do it again". And if you're with the Thieves' Guild or are a Thane in their town...
      • Played straight with the Blades in Skyrim however. After a certain point in the main quest, they'll insist that you kill Paarthurnaxx for his crimes in the ancient Dragon War and stop helping you if you refuse to do so, on the basis that giving you their aid would violate their oaths as Blades. All this despite the Dragon War taking place thousands of years ago, Paarthurnaxx helping to win it for humanity, and living peacefully and giving them no trouble ever since. To say nothing of the fact that the Blades can't exactly afford to alienate allies given how they were almost wiped out by the Thalmor not too long ago...
      • Daggerfall and Skyrim both have law enforcement stick arguably stupidly firmly to the law in another way — unlike the other games, where guards can try to (sometimes follow you to) arrest you for a crime done halfway across the game world, those games have crimes be strictly regional — which means the guards and the law don't care at all how notorious you might be in a neighbouring region, not even when it comes to keeping an eye on you.
    • Online brings back the "universal bounty" system, which is really amazing as the game takes place during a time where there is no universal ruler of Tamriel, and you can be accosted in (for example) an Aldmeri Dominion city for a crime you committed in an Ebonheart Pact City.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Main character Cecil realizes he's becoming this at the beginning of Final Fantasy IV after slaughtering the innocent people of Mysidia under the orders of his king. Cecil even calls himself a coward who didn't have the guts to disobey an order he knew was morally wrong. Cecil vows never to follow such a heinous order again, but is tricked into delivering a package that destroys a town full of summoners the next day, causing Cecil to say "screw it" and openly rebel.
    • Beatrix and Steiner from Final Fantasy IX are both this to varying degrees throughout the game. Beatrix helps The Empire destroy two cities simply because the evil nutcase Queen Brahne ordered it. Steiner wants to return the Rebellious Princess who wants to escape said evil nutcase, and not only doesn't notice that the Queen has become an evil nutcase, he stubbornly attempts to return Garnet to Alexandria even though Garnet says repeatedly that she intended to leave and cooperated fully with her "kidnappers." He also blames Lovable Rogue Zidane for every bad thing that happens, even though Zidane was hired by Garnet's foster uncle — because Queen Brahne was turning into an evil nutcase. It's only after the Queen attempts to kill her own daughter that both of them finally admit that the Queen has gone off the deep end. When interviewed by EGM, the game designers all but referred to Steiner using the trope name: "When the knights come after him, he's certain that it's a mistake, a miscommunication. The Queen cannot be doing this."
      • That said, Steiner does believe that Brahne would never do anything as drastic as start a war on the Burmecians despite the fact that the party comes across evidence of just that. Considering that Steiner served Alexandria long enough to become captain of the Knights of Pluto (and thus knew Brahne long before she began to go insane), Steiner's denial makes sense up until the dying Burmecian soldier appears in Lindblum - shortly before he has his own doubts about the queen.
    • The Sharlayans of Final Fantasy XIV gather knowledge... and nothing else. They could have all of the answers to all of the problems the heroes deal with, but they would rather just hide away on their island and watch. Even the threat of The End of the World as We Know It is not enough to get the Sharlayans to act. To wit, they exiled one scholar for wanting to help the world, his son went and disowned his children for protecting the world, and they try to kill the Warrior of Light while learning the ways of the Astrologian. It's all technically a front for setting up a contingency plan in case the Final Days comes to pass, but even then, it's shown that the Sharlayan mindset heavily favors only following their mission to the letter and no further. This causes the heroes to butt heads with them, until it's suggested that if they can't convince the Sharlayans on moral grounds, they'll have to do so on pragmatic grounds by proving that what the Sharlayans are planning isn't going to work.
  • Eldigan of Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War is a loyal knight of Agustria who obeys King Chagall no matter what. Unfortunately, Chagall is a patricide who, when Eldigan questions his plans to attack the neighboring country, locks Eldigan in the dungeon and sends another lord to attack his lands and sister Lachesis. Rather than turn on him after Sigurd rescues both of them, Eldigan protects Chagall and continues to obey his orders when Chagall gets belligerent again, even going so far as to attack Sigurd's army. His obedience to Chagall eventually kills him, either at Sigurd's hands or by Chagall's orders if he listens to his sister and quits his attack.
  • Freedom Planet: Neera Li is an overzealous lawwoman who refuses to trust Lilac on the basis that she was part of the Red Scarves, even when they bring her proof that there is a dangerous enemy that threatens them all. And in the sequel, long after Lilac saved the world, she continues to treat her as a criminal!
  • FTL: Faster Than Light brings us the Zoltans, a race of Energy Beings who are very uptight about regulations in their territories and are more than willing to kill you over customs disputes.
  • God of War: Ascension: The Furies. Described as "following their own view of right and wrong," they seek to punish everyone who has ever broken a blood oath to the gods. In particular, they doggedly pursue Kratos throughout the game, determined to punish him for turning on Ares despite the fact that Ares tricked him into killing his wife and daughter. It's ultimately subverted when it's revealed that the real reason the Furies are pursuing Kratos is because they're in league with Ares in his plan to topple Olympus.
  • Grand Theft Auto:
    • The cops in Grand Theft Auto V theoretically make a token effort to arrest you, but they will immediately start shooting to kill if you react in any way other than standing perfectly still. This applies whether the original offense is wanton murder or flipping off a cop.
    • Grand Theft Auto III combines this with Artificial Stupidity in a very annoying way. Any NPC who belongs to a gang you're enemies with will immediately begin shooting at you on sight. The cops will do absolutely nothing about this. However, if you attack back in self-defense, the same cops will be all over you like white on rice.
  • Keiichiro Washizuka of the The Last Blade series of fighting games. As a member of the Shinsengumi during the Meiji era, he often let his personal morality, a relic of the age of Samurai, get in the way of his better judgment... which wasn't that good to begin with. He's also an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy who seems to think he's never wrong.
  • In Icewind Dale and its sequel, Paladins have no sense of subtlety or tact; on the few occasions you mean NPCs of Evil alignment that are putting up a friendly front, if you have a Paladin in the party they will immediately call out the villain on their deception, not only provoking them into a fight when you're not ready but denying the party any chance to talk to them to get information. They're also liable to refuse quest rewards for no reason but their faith, which demands they not accept material rewards for their deeds — they will do this even if the person giving the reward is well-off and offered it upfront when you accepted the quest. Because of how the dialogue interface work in these games, you're typically given little choice to say anything else but what the Paladin's presence demand you say.
  • The Postman in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask dutifully adheres to an extremely strict schedule, to the point that on the third day, when the Moon is about to crash into Clock Town, he can be seen having a panic attack in his room, saying that he wants to flee, but he still has mail to deliver the next day. You can get him to flee by giving him the Priority Mail to deliver to the Mayor's wife, who then orders him to leave town.
  • Mass Effect 2 introduces the Justicar Samara, who is sometimes Lawful Stupid, but sometimes surprises the player by subverting the trope. On the way to recruiting her, the player hears a lot about the Justicar's Code and how it requires Justicars to act in Lawful Stupid fashion, and the police officers in the area are anxious to get her off their planet before her Code compels her to kill anyone who impedes her pursuit, up to and including police (since, according to the code, any law enforcement who is holding up her investigation is a dirty cop, whether or not they really are). The subversion comes when the player sees Samara use loopholes in her Code to avoid being forced into stupid behavior. That being said, she is very blunt about the body-count she'll accept, acknowledging to Shepard that the Code is a black-and-white set of rules in a grey world, and makes it clear that she will shoot her way out of the police station if they hold her for more than a day; the Code allows her to submit to arrest, but if anybody tries to actually put her in a cell or restrain her, the Code tells her that she is obligated to kill that person. Furthermore, the Code itself contains a clause that allows a Justicar to swear allegiance to someone for the duration of that person's mission or quest, during which time that person's orders override the Code in order for the Justicar to be able to serve the greater good without oathbreaking. (The Code also says that if, during this period, the person to whom Samara swears allegiance orders her to do anything immoral, she'll do it but will have to kill the person after being released from service.)
    • In a similar vein, the asari themselves hold the Justicars in high regard and respect the questionable rigidness of their code; they're treated as heroes akin to knights in human history, so they're given a lot of leeway. However, most asari also realize how archaic the code is, and more importantly, they realize how other races wouldn't understand or respect the righteous code of the Justicars outside of asari culture. Samara's recruitment mission involves you helping a local asari detective get Samara out of Illium as fast as possible to a) prevent her from restraining Samara, thus forcing Samara to kill the detective, and b) reduce the risk of Samara causing a cross-species incident.
    • Paragon Shepard is a big and very refreshing aversion of this trope. S/he respects the politics of the galaxy until they start to get in his/her way. If Udina locks down his/her ship s/he will participate in hijacking it in order to stop the galactic apocalypse among other examples. It's one reason why Paragon Shepard is just as badass as Renegade Shepard.
    • In the third game, if Samara is alive at the end of the Ardat-Yakshi temple quest she'll decide that her code compels her to kill her last surviving daughter Falere since there is no longer a temple for her to stay in and Ardat-Yakshi (asari Vampires that kill with sex) are not permitted to live anywhere else. However, she can't go through with this and will try to kill herself because she refuses to kill Falere, and so killing herself first is the only way she can see which would allow Falere to live unless Shepard steps in. In that case, however, both Shepard and Falere will convince her that Falere will remain on the planet willingly, which Samara accepts.
  • Hotaru from Mortal Kombat is fanatical about order. He even joins the Dragon King just because that would bring about more order. What's more, his entire race and home realm are also fanatical about order, leading to constant turmoil over people with different levels of rigidity fighting for power in a totalitarian realm.
  • Persona:
    • In Persona 3, we have Mr. Ekoda, the classic literature teacher with seniority in Gekkoukan High. He does what he believes is in the best interest of the school and his students, which includes covering up the disappearance of Fuuka caused by bullies to save the bullies' reputation, and suspending Saori because of a gossip magazine's false story about her being promiscuous, and nearly suspending the main character, just for being her (only) friend. Mitsuru's punishment for him of the former act, and Miss Ounishi and Toriumi, his two kohai, brushing him off to support Saori's Moment of Awesome wholeheartedly were definitely well deserved.
    • Persona 5 gives us Goro Akechi and Sae Niijima. They wish for the Phantom Thieves to be arrested - despite the fact that they're making otherwise untouchable criminals confess their crimes - because they're using a morally questionable method of Heel–Face Brainwashing. Averted for Akechi, when it's revealed that he's a member of The Conspiracy, and the Phantom Thieves pose a threat to them. Sae eventually changes her tune on the thieves and becomes their Commissioner Gordon.
  • Vhailor, the Animated Armor who can join your party in Planescape: Torment. If he discovers that any members of your party have a chaotic alignment, he will try to kill them. If he discovers that you have ever done anything bad to another person in your (very long) life, he will try to kill you. Toward the end of the game, if you attempt to redeem the Fallen Angel Trias and Vhailor is with you, Vhailor will kill him, thus releasing a fiend bound to charitable acts until Trias' demise (though you can kill that guy without problems before meeting Trias). In his defense, though, Vhailor is a member of the Mercykiller faction, a group of Knights Templar who are designed to carry the Lawful Stupid mindset to its logical extreme.
  • Rebecca suffers from this briefly in Resident Evil 0 where she refuses to cooperate with Billy, a supposed felon charged with several murders. Not only does Rebecca threatens to arrest him, despite Billy not being aggressive at all, but she does this in the middle of a zombie/leech outbreak within the train they're on. Billy calls her out on it and forcefully says that they have to work together unless she wants to die to the horrors she just had an encounter with. Rebecca reluctantly agrees and over time, she starts to trust him. She even declares him legally dead at the end of the game when she finds out that Billy is actually innocent.
  • Lord Theodore, head of the Knights of Mirsaburg in Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song, is Lawful Stupid to the core. Sure, the corrupt nobility deserves his scorn, but Theodore is utterly convinced that he's the only one who's right, ever. He clings so rigidly to his idea of chivalry that at one point, he jails and plans to execute one of his most loyal knights... because they were slashed in the back. After all, the knights never run away, and though he was clearly ambushed by monsters, without a witness to vouch for him, Theodore automatically assumes that he broke his vow and should die for cowardice. In fact, when the enemy pulls a Fake King plot, it works well mainly because it seems perfectly in-character for him to declare war on one of his allies just because she disagrees with him.
  • The entire basis of angels in Shin Megami Tensei is this trope, and it's Played for Drama. They will never do anything that even hints at disobeying the commands of YHVH, nor will they act without His orders. The problem is that God Is Evil. The results have ranged from actively hindering attempts to save the world because it won't make the world they want to the violent destruction of an entire system of government in order to facilitate genocide.
  • Over-funding the police department in the SimCity franchise will turn your officers into oppressive Lawful Stupids who will arrest people for the most minuscule of crimes (illegal possession of a pocket protector?!). Checking the status of your police departments while they're over-funded will show that there are actually more arrests made in their precincts than there are crimes committed, meaning they're wasting money arresting people who haven't even done anything.
  • Sly Cooper has a perfect example in Carmelita Fox. In the first game, she's so fixated on arresting Sly that she completely fails to notice the Panda King's operations, as well as the fact that he buried an innocent village in snow; Sly even calls her on it. It continues into the second game, where she chases Sly and co. around the world to prevent them from stealing the Clockwerk Parts, despite the fact that she helped the Cooper Gang take down Clockwerk in the first game's ending and thus has full knowledge of how dangerous he is.
  • In Spore, Diplomats have to take a Vote to Take Immediate Action for anything, even as their cities are being destroyed or their biosphere is dying of a virus.
  • Aldaris, the resident Obstructive Bureaucrat of StarCraft, epitomizes this trope. As the Zerg were overrunning the Protoss homeworld of Aiur, Aldaris was more concerned about arresting Tassadar (the one person who was capable of killing the cerebrates and the Overmind) and executing him for associating with the Dark Templar, rather than about fighting the Zerg invasion. Tassadar even calls him out on it.
    Tassadar: Arrest me?? Aiur burns at the touch of the Zerg, and you travel all this way... to arrest me?!
  • Koth Vortena from the Fallen Empire expansion of Star Wars: The Old Republic. He's a Wide-Eyed Idealist who disapproves if the Player Character does morally reprehensible things in the name of the greater good, while simultaneously defending The Emperor who is a Complete Monster, Omnicidal Maniac, and Humanoid Abomination simply because he hadn't wronged his world.
  • In Suikoden IV, the hero Lazlo is accused of murdering his superior officer. The only evidence of Lazlo committing the crime was an extremely shady testimony by his envious, immature, and (former) best friend Snowe. Nevertheless, Lazlo's fellow officers immediately believe in his guilt and sentence him to exile without giving him a trial.
  • Denam in Tactics Ogre will be talked into going along with a False Flag Operation and many players were surprised that this brought them along the lawful route, which is normally seen as the "good" choice. Lawful was actually just the type that means you follow orders, no matter what, whereas, in some other games, the "lawful" was actually good. (Namely Ogre Battle 64, with implications in Knight of Lodis.)
  • Grand Maestro Mohs from Tales of the Abyss is both Lawful Evil and Lawful Stupid. He wants to start a war and get hundreds of people killed just because the Score says so, conveniently overlooking the fact that the Score is, at best, a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
    • Mayor Teodoro of Yulia City is, too, and apparently most of the Order of Lorelei. For example, after the destruction of a major city, the mayor refuses to believe that a nearby city might be in danger, because only one of them was said to be destroyed in the Score, laws of physics or common sense be damned. He won't even send someone to go look and make sure.
    • Tear starts off as this as well, willing to believe in Mohs no matter how nasty he's revealed to be, simply because he's a head of the Order. Teodoro's actions above, however, start shaking her out of this.
  • Riddle Rosehearts from Twisted Wonderland is obsessed with adhering to all ancient laws established by the Queen of Hearts, even ones that plainly violate common sense. In one notable incident even he himself regards as an Old Shame, he follows a law that dictates one runs laps underwater after getting soaked in the rain and does this in the lounge of Octavinelle dorm, making a fool of himself in front of Octa students.
  • Tyranny: Double Subversion with Judge Tunon: He is dedicated to laying out the laws of Overlord Kyros to the exact letter, no matter how extreme or tormenting her edicts get. Subverted because he is old and smart enough to know that Kyros doesn't really give a shit about how things play out as long as they play out in her favor, so he can interpret the law any damn way he wants given that it is fulfilled to the letter, even if it gets Tunon a few extra supplies or torture victims. Double Subverted if the player character can successfully convince Tunon that despite their sheer rebellion against Kyros, they have fulfilled both the letter AND the spirit of the law in their own way, which forces Tunon to accept them as the better Overlord even if you are a bloodthirsty anarchist or a rebel who intends to erect an empire that will spit in the face of everything Overlord Kyros intends.
  • Uther the Lightbringer in the Warcraft Expanded Universe story Of Blood and Honor. He sentences Tirion Fordring to exile for disobeying orders to try to save Eitrigg the orc from being executed for merely being an orc, and claims that Tirion's decision was motivated by pride even when he is forced to give up everything as a result. Uther is able to get past his belief that all orders must be obeyed at Stratholme but remains racist against the orcs.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney Investigations 2 has Justine Courtney, a judge who attempts to get Edgeworth's prosecutor's badge taken from him for illegally boarding the plane of the President of Zheng Fa, despite this allowing him to catch a murderer, and is willing to give an innocent verdict to murderer Patricia Roland, despite hearing her confession and seeing the decisive evidence at the scene, all because the decisive evidence is missing and thus can't be presented to the court. Subverted when it turns out that she did the former under orders of Blaise Debeste, and the latter due to her adopted son being kidnapped, with the demand for a not guilty verdict.

    Web Animation 
  • The Most Popular Girls in School: Trisha 2 refuses to help out Mackenzie and Brittnay restrain a panicking Trisha because she can't take her seatbelt off while the seatbelt sign is on.
  • Puffin Forest:
    • In one of Ben's Dungeons & Dragons campaigns, the Modrons of Mechanus, beings of pure Lawful Neutral, are baffled when they find that someone has stolen a Cosmic Keystone despite a strict "No Touching" sign on its pedestal. They conclude that the thief must have taken it without physically touching it, and then improve security by adding a "No Stealing" plaque.
    • Overlapping with Artistic License – Economics is the town from "Everyone Shops at the Black Market." The local government has outlawed the sale of magic items, which are vitally necessary for surviving D&D's 4th Edition, but luckily just about everyone in town can point the heroes to the underground black market that trades magic goods. When the party triggers a brawl in the market that has the town guards swoop in and arrest them, their jailors reveal that the government knew about the black market, but looked the other way since the town relied on it to survive. When Ben tries to explain that they could just change the law to make magic items legal to trade, the official argues that would destroy the black market their economy relies upon.

  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Miko Miyazaki is part Lawful Stupid, part Knight Templar, and occasionally parodies both. This strip is a good example of the former. It does have elements of subverting Honor Before Reason since the whole thing was largely to get the ogres into a compressed area, but it would have been a much better plan if she would have told the others what she was doing.
    • Hinjo, and apparently most of the other paladins of the Sapphire Guard, are aversions, as they act normally, rationally, and without being condescending. They also don't like Miko, and she is sent on away missions so they don't have to deal with her ("often for months at a time"). Hinjo does have his moments of self-righteousness from time to time, but he's mostly a decent, rational, and practical man. Even more so with O-Chul, the Memetic Badass and all-around decent guy who the author has explained is an intentional foil to the aspects of this trope Miko embodies. Miko is a representation of how many people would play a paladin, O-Chul is a representation of how one should be played.
    • Although it doesn't apply to Roy, this strip has Elan and Belkar refer to him as such.
    • In this strip, Celia the sylph pretty clearly delineates the difference between Lawful Stupid and Lawful Good (warning: really long text).
    • Durkon, being a Lawful Good Cleric, cannot lie and does not resist authority. However, he subverts this by using technical truths and when his comrades resist authority, they tend to get their asses handed to them.
    • In-Universe, both Lord Shojo and Redcloak denounce Soon Kim's oath of non-interference and observation of the other four Gates and the persistence with which the Sapphire Guard adheres to this, like this. Seeing as how this genuinely does cripple their ability to keep the Gates safe from Xykon, they kind of have a point (although the drama that happened in Soon Kim's group stemming from the death of one of their own has hinted that there's much more complexity to the situation than this trope).
    • The dwarven council holds a vote on how their demigod should vote on a matter that will affect their entire race. A few of them try to motion a delay, noticing that a little more than half of the council is under vampiric Mind Control meant to tamper with the vote. The vampires use a legal tactic to ignore the motion, and while a few eyebrows are raised, most of the undominated dwarves consider it an entirely reasonable compromise, and the remainder firmly believe that, having made an attempt to postpone the vote legally, there's now nothing they can do as long as the procedures are being followed. The day is saved when Durkon breaks the table. Rules say you can't vote without a table. Vote postponed.
  • Goblins:
    • In quite a different flavor, you have Fumbles, who becomes so desperate to "make things right" (after he does something very, very wrong) that he lets his sense of justice completely overthrow his sense of survival. And get it in a headlock. And while Fumbles starts off with the idea that he can do it without involving the rest of his team, the comic is very good about showing that his actions have long-lasting consequences, and affect everyone he cares about, in large part because they also care about him.
    • Big Ears the paladin manages to avert this nicely, which is rare for a paladin, as they are usually flanderized into one of these if they don't start out as one. He instead follows closely what a lawful good paladin should be.
    • Which is horribly contrasted by Kore, a dwarven paladin who somehow retains all his paladin powers (including immunity to injury by the artifact axe Big Ears acquires) killing everyone he comes across for no other reason than being "tainted" by contact with evil and has no problems cutting down children and crippled, blind goblins incapable of harming anyone. Kore is lampshaded as something VERY... VERY wrong. It eventually turns out that he was corrupted and driven completely insane by a demonic overlord.
  • DM of the Rings lampshades this when the players refuse to act in this manner.
  • Steven of Daily Grind reveres with unwavering Lawful Stupidity the by-laws of the secret society that raised him from orphanhood. Even after it turned out that he was the only member who took them seriously and the rest were variously crooks and dupes so that he had to kill off everyone else (as stipulated in the by-laws for this situation) and restart the society from scratch. He's only Lawful when the law in question is the by-laws, however. On the rare occasions where the by-laws do not dictate what to do, he's an almost likable Neutral Good.
  • In Freefall, Florence Ambrose and Mr. Kornada are sympathetic and hostile/comedic portrayals of this, respectively:
    • Florence is a Bowman's Wolf, a genetically engineered life form (or "Biological AI") based on the Red Wolf, and so comes with a potent cocktail of genetic programming that can mess with her normally law-abiding, honest, ethical nature and reduce her to just a puppet if she is given a direct order by certain people in positions of authority. She gets somewhat better after Doctor Bowman rewrites the genetic programming to limit the number of people capable of giving her an order she can't refuse.
    • In comparison, the human Mr. Kornada is a Corrupt Corporate Executive and a walking stereotype of the "manager as an idiot who doesn't really have the faintest clue what he's doing, but doesn't care as so long as the "rules" are being followed". Florence actually has to trick him into saving his own life because he's so Lawful Stupid that he refuses to let the fact that a hurricane is tearing the building apart around him prevent him from holding a pointless meeting (the only ones attending being himself and two robots who want to throttle him, but who are prevented from doing so by the Aasimov Laws). He's not only offended to hear that Sam won't abandon Florence to die to ensure he gets there on time, he then goes on to fake a heart attack in order to force the robots to hijack Sam's ship to be sure that he gets his way.
      • He has since upgraded to Stupid Evil, starting up a scheme to spread a program that would effectively lobotomize every robot who installs it, which apart from the genocide implications would utterly destroy the newly terraformed planet's infrastructure and economy. He would do this in order to steal their money!
  • Keith from TwoKinds gets to make this point with a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to his entire home nation, which is the page quote.
  • A Beginner's Guide to the End of the Universe has The Followers of the Icosahedron, who wish for the world (well, what little there is) to be destroyed completely by the Singularity because the natural laws of nature require so to pave the way for a new universe.
  • Madeline Goodlaw, the paladin from Rusty and Co., is very very stupid and very very lawful. She actually objects to the idea of taking even a single hour to plan on how to save Rusty, Mimic, and Cube.
  • In Erfworld, Don King of Transylvito becomes Lawful Stupid after a devastating defeat in a battle that should have been a sure thing. Formerly cunning and only minorly interested in the formalities of rank and nobility, he becomes convinced that the Titans (gods) are punishing him for not taking those concepts more seriously. In an attempt to atone for his apparent sins, he drains his treasury and neglects his kingdom's immediate needs in order to reestablish and prop up another Royal side.
  • In El Goonish Shive, if it wasn't for Abraham's oath to kill anything and everything born from the Dewitchery Diamond, he wouldn't even qualify as a villain. His entire reason for wanting to kill Ellen is his adherence to carrying out his oath even when it conflicts with everything else he believes in.
  • The Nasaghasts from The Adventures of Dr. McNinja are the vengeful spirits of dead astronauts who relentlessly hunt down and punish anybody that harms living astronauts, but the mechanics and rules of this are so ridiculously specific that most of their charges don't see them as particularly helpful. They can only avenge NASA personnel specifically (astronauts from other agencies are out of luck) and have no regard for whether or not said personnel deserve to be avenged (the Big Bad gets training at NASA specifically to exploit this). They also only avenge astronauts rather than actually protecting them; they work in response to harm, not to prevent it, which bites the aforementioned Big Bad in the ass when his ship gets shot down and the Nasaghasts rush off to fight his attacker rather than save him like he expected.

    Web Original 
  • In Half-Life but the AI is Self-Aware Benrey is convinced Gordon is a thief and a troublemaker for not presenting his passport to security, in spite of the fact that that policy had been adopted that day, multiple people were telling Benrey Gordon worked there, and none of the other security guards cared or demanded his passport. Even after Gordon shows Benrey his passport, he continues to harass Gordon. Ironically, he completely ignores when Gordon actually does commit a crime, instead harassing him over the passport nonsense and things he could not possibly have done.
  • Stormwolf of the Whateley Universe. He's so busy being 'Lawful Good' that he isn't protecting a group of freshman girls who just managed to avoid being beaten, mutilated, and/or murdered in four separate attempts (one by a mutant ninja assassin) in one night. And he won't let the girls go get payback, either. Even though the girls know who attacked them, and who hired the attackers.
  • One might charitably describe the SCP Foundation as this, if not downright Lawful Evil; their treatment of the Class-D personnel (basically a collection of Dirty Dozened death row inmates) borders on sociopathic, particularly when you learn about Protocol 12, which allows the definition of Class D to be expanded to political prisoners and refugees in times of "duress". Their case files often redact virtually nothing except information that would actually benefit the reader, such as where those indestructible supernatural abominations they failed to contain are actually located. They doubtless would argue that they did what had to be done, but that would be easier to believe without the constant containment breaches.
  • Babylon Bee: This article where people are convinced that Skynet should be allowed to wipe out humanity because Cyberdyne is a private company.

    Western Animation 
  • Silverbolt in Beast Wars is another example of how it's possible to get by with being Lawful Stupid by being stupid lucky (not as an alignment, just "lucky to the point of absurdity"). For instance, he actually helps Blackarachnia open up a tunnel leading to the in-stasis Autobots from the original cartoon.
  • The Gargoyles are usually quite reasonable, but one time, Goliath, faced with a mighty opponent, decided to use the Eye of Odin. The Eye magnified his power to truly awesome levels — but also magnified his nature, that of a protector and guardian, to the point where he was willing to deceive his charges by pretending there was danger when there wasn't, to ensure they stayed somewhere safe rather than moving on, even if they would spend the rest of their lives sitting in an ice cave.
  • In a different sense, Alien X from Ben 10: Alien Force — a being capable of warping time and space, but whose thought pattern has been (and in some ways still is) strangled with debate between two diametrically opposed entities to the point at which the being cannot even move until a decision can be reached. Until Ben came along, they had no tiebreaker. And they're not very good at listening to him. It's revealed later on that their entire species is like this, as they spend most of their time trapped in debate like Ben was, and the one time we see what they're like outside of stasis is in Ben 10: Omniverse when they decide to fine Ben ($5) for using their powers to undo the destruction of the universe without permission.
  • Omi from Xiaolin Showdown is Lawful Stupid in regards to promises. At one point, Omi has to team up with one of the Big Bads to stop a race of unstoppable spiders. They do this by combining two Mac Guffins that work together to give infinite knowledge to find a way to stop them. Before doing so, the Big Bad makes him promise to only look for the way to stop them and specifically not to look for "the way to destroy evil forever". In the end, he mentions he "peeked". In later episodes, the main group finds themselves in a desperate situation and begin telling him they want him to use the secret. He holds firm that he cannot because it would go against his honor as a monk even when all 3 of them think it would be better to do it anyway but he still refuses. The end result is as part of the Big Bad's plan, this divides him from his friends and causes him to go against their safer wishes of not listening to the villain. He ends up temporarily locked in an aggressive mood from this and pledges his allegiance to the villain. Once he returns to normal, he stays with the villain because he made that promise (ignoring his friends' cries of "he wasn't himself").
    • It turned out that not using the secret to destroying evil was the best choice in the end, as the Big Bad pulled a Batman Gambit that would've resulted in Omi destroying good forever.
  • Hego from Kim Possible. He hides his identity with glasses and a tie, talks on and on, giving the enemy the chance to attack, and follows the rules of hero/villain interaction to the T, even lecturing the other heroes on the 'proper' way to do things while they were all in danger from the villain. By about halfway through his introductory episode, the heroes completely understand why his little sister turned evil. Even the other brothers find him annoying. Even when he turned evil he still acts like this, much to Electronique's nerves. Hego stayed behind when his brothers are out on vacation. He was so lonely and wished he went, he's beginning to think something is wrong with him.
  • The Venture Bros.:
    • The Office of Secret Intelligence (or at least Colonel Gathers) has a code of never killing women or children no matter what, even though they're secret agents with a license to kill (although it's really a good thing).
    • The Guild of Calamitous Intent's byzantine ruleset for "arching" constitutes a subversion; the fact that the rules limit the ability of villains to cause real damage is intended by the Sovereign, who understands that turning dozens of megalomaniacs with lasers loose on the world wouldn't be good for anyone (showcased best when Monarch is not allowed to be Rusty Venture's arch-enemy anymore - he gets so ticked off that he becomes a No-Nonsense Nemesis and massacres all of his replacement "arches" (a dozen or at least, and those are the ones we see on screen) in a rapid-fire montage).
  • There was an episode of Dexter's Laboratory in which The Blue Falcon brought in Dynomutt for repairs. Dexter instead builds a competent crime-fighting robot instead of a comic relief sidekick, that's willing to open fire on innocent people jaywalking or littering.
  • Played with in an episode of The Batman where Joker decides to act out an over-the-top parody of this. He dresses up in a makeshift Batman outfit and only attacks people breaking laws — typically very minor ones like littering or jaywalking — and then uses Joker gas on them.
  • Justice League:
  • Zapp Brannigan from Futurama is hypocritically Lawful Stupid, with extra emphasis on his stupid part. On the other hand, you're not supposed to like him much anyway.
    Zapp: The Democratic Order of Planets prohibits interfering with undeveloped worlds. It's a little rule known as "Brannigan's Law".
    Leela: But people already interfered. That planet was mined completely hollow.
    Zapp: Yes, by a Democratic Order of Planets mining crew.
    Leela: This doesn't make any sense.
    Zapp: I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.
    Leela: Fine! We'll save the animals without your help.
    Zapp: I'm afraid I can't allow that. Guards!
  • Bubbles in the "Bubblevicious" episode of The Powerpuff Girls. She managed to make a litterbug hit the ground before the gum wrapper he tossed and punches a guy black and blue for stepping on a single blade of grass. She rampaged her do-good behavior throughout Townsville and her crusade got her captured by Mojo Jojo. In another episode, the Mayor uses a hot-air balloon and a spring-loaded boxing glove to take the law into his own hands. He goes mad with power in less than a minute.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • Darwin falls into this trope frequently. In "The Internet", even though they were both aware that The Internet itself hacked into the traffic lights and was trying to kill them, Darwin stood in place and scolded Gumball like a child for running across the road. Unfortunately Miraculously, Darwin was not hit by a single car during this entire tirade.
    • In "The Loophole," Bobert, due to being Literal-Minded, quickly descended into this when Gumball and Darwin order him to uphold the law, choosing to uphold very ridiculous laws by burning off Miss Simian's hair with a laser ("According to the law in New Mexico, females are forbidden to appear unshaven in public."), threatening an old man simply eating soup with an Arm Cannon ("According to the law in New Jersey, it is illegal to slurp your soup."), continuing to do so when said old man screams in fear ("In North Carolina, it is illegal to sing off-key."), ripping off a security guard's beard ("In Massachusetts, goatees are illegal without a license."), and blowing up Billy's lollipop ("Lollipops are also banned.") When Gumball tries to stop him, Bobert tries to shoot him for "obstruction of justice," only to miss and blow up the roof, at which point Bobert starts shooting himself for destroying public property. All of this completely ignores the fact that none of these characters are in or even from the countries where these Loony Laws are enforced.
    • In "The Job", Nicole tries to get Richard fired from his job as a pizza delivery guy to prevent the universe from being destroyed, but Larry refuses because there's nothing in the company rules explicitly stating that employees can't tear apart the fabric of reality while making deliveries. Fortunately, Larry ends up finding an unrelated reason to fire Richard just in time to avert the apocalypse.
  • Mummy Nanny:
  • Mr. Herriman from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. The man enforces stuff like the precise distance that a bust of Madame Foster must be from the wall (to the inch) like it was a jail-worthy offense.
  • Darkwarrior Duck from the Darkwing Duck episode, "Time and Punishment" is a Knight Templar who imprisons people for life without trial (on the grounds that no jury will question him) for staying out past curfew.
  • Family Guy:
  • Get Ace: Mrs. McDougal is shown to be this trope in one episode when she goes to extreme lengths to pay for dental floss she wasn't charged for. The kicker? It turns out the dental floss was free as part of a promotion.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • In the episode "Phineas & Ferb's Quantum Boogaloo," O.W.C.A. can't do anything to fight Doofenshmirtz because they all swore an oath to obey him. Admittedly, he had access to all of their communications and possibly their other equipment. When he briefly took over in the finale, he made thwarting him illegal, causing Perry to instantly back down.
    • This is Baljeet's entire character. He has a neurotic obsession with routines and clear direction to the point that he sang an entire punk song (ironically) about enforcing this trope. His Establishing Character Moment is him studying at the start of summer vacation despite already being The Smart Guy. In the episode "Phineas and Ferb Get Busted!" he happily signs up for a brutal Military School after being declared too smart for his cram school. The episode ends up being All Just a Dream, but it was entirely in character for him.
  • In the Men in Black: The Series episode "The Worm-Guy Guy Syndrome", Kalifadik enforcers come to Earth to teleport alien fugitives to life imprisonment for any violation, no matter how minor.
  • Maria Hill from The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, who commands S.H.I.E.L.D. after Nick Fury disappears, is prone to this type of behavior (much like her comics counterpart). While it's understandable that she wants the Avengers to work for S.H.I.E.L.D., she tends to spend more time antagonizing them than actual villains. The worst case of this was when she tries to force the Avengers to join S.H.I.E.L.D or be arrested... outright ignoring the massive war that is happening between HYDRA and A.I.M in the middle of New York, until given the proverbial smack upside the head by Iron Man for being an idiot.
  • Adventure Time:
    • Finn and Jake sometimes fall into this. In "Video Makers" they stopped showing copyrighted movies on movie night because of the FBI warnings, even though the FBI and the copyright holders are long dead, and the society under which the copyright law was made, no longer exists.
    • Tree Trunks was like this toward herself when she called the Banana Guards on herself for stealing her own apples. And they showed up and cuff her, rather than the conversation with the dispatcher winding up on Ooo's Stupidest 911 Calls.
  • Code Lyoko has the faculty of Kadic Academy act this way in "Satellite". When all of the student's cell phones ring unexpectedly, rather than suspect that there may be something wrong with the signal tower, the faculty immediately assume the students all have someone calling them at the exact same time and confiscate the phones while lecturing them about having cell phones on in class. They even go so far as trying to deactivate the signal tower to ensure students can't use their phones even if they steal them back, not even considering that this would make it impossible to call for help in an emergency.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door
    • Numbuh 86 acts like this in spades during the episode "Operation: E.N.D.", believing that every member of Sector V are scheduled to be decommissioned due to computer-issued orders, even though she knew from personal experience that they are not the right age (for example, she and Numbuh 1 have been going to school together since at least Kindergarten). Numbuh 86's incompetence is a big part of her character, sadly...
    • In Operation I.T., Numbuh 362 stops Numbuh 86 from decommissioning the new Kids Next Door leader, despite the fact that said new leader is Father, because he decreed that the leader cannot be decommissioned.
  • King of the Hill: Hank Hill is moral, determined and won't give up without a fight...but can be too fond of traditional values over the needs of others, he can be childish and ignorant when someone does something to bug him, he can be a huge stubborn mule when he himself is in the wrong.
    Hank: [responding to trash talk during a lawnmower race in "Hank's Back Story"] Say that again to the back of my head, Mr. non-U.S.-Lawnmower- Association-approved helmet.
    • "Ho Yeah!" has an example similar to the Big Hero 6 one. During this episode, Hank, Peggy, and Tammy are in a car chase with Alabaster Jones, Tammy's former pimp. Hank's plan for losing him is he waits on a yellow light just long enough so he can be the only one to cross before the light turns red. Hank is genuinely shocked when he sees him speeding through the red light.
    Hank: What? He ran a red light! You can't do that!
    • The majority of the plot of the episode "The Accidental Terrorist" revolves around Hank being shocked, shocked, at the revelation that the car dealership he's regular client of has been swindling him for years because Hank is literally the only client who believes the cars' ticket price is the actual price (the dealership ups the ticket price by half) and does zero haggling. Furthermore, Hank's decision to fight back does not goes any further than putting copies of the message "this is a dishonest dealership" on the windshields of the cars on the lot (he is Mistaken for Terrorist because he accepts the help of a couple of Eco Terrorists, who promptly blow up the cars on the lot).
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In the episode "Avatar Day", Aang decides to stand trial for the crimes "he" did (or more correctly, a previous Avatar from several centuries ago — the Avatar spirit passes from generation to generation and all Avatars are connected), namely murder an Earth King. The village makes him follow EVERY law and tradition on the matter, using logic that would make trolls blush. Even when the old Avatar appears before them and explains that A) the king was a tyrant about to attack her homeland and B) he accidentally fell into the sea when she separated her homeland from the mainland to protect it, the village takes it as a confession. (To be fair, the same Avatar later argues that she was prepared to kill the king to save her homeland so it does not make much of a difference.) The village then pulls out the "Wheel of Punishment" to decide Aang's fate, with punishments including "eaten by shark" and "boiled alive." The only reason they do not execute Aang is that rhino riders from the Fire Nation attack the village and Aang beats the villagers at their own game, claiming that as a condemned convict he cannot help. The mayor then physically moves the Wheel of Punishment.
    Mayor: There! COMMUNITY SERVICE! Now serve our community and take care of those Rhinos!
  • The "Upsidasium" story arc of Rocky and Bullwinkle has Air Force commander General Broadbeam arresting himself for the theft of the Upsidasium payload perpetrated by Boris Badenov disguised as Rocky. Broadbeam first accused Rocky of the theft as a result, but his alibi is that Gen. Broadbeam was with him the whole time.
  • It's a central trope of Dudley Do-Right, whose title character is a Mountie so blindly devoted to the minutia of the law and good behavior that common sense is typically beyond him. A demonstrative example is in the episode where Snidely Whiplash captures Nell from her wedding to Dudley. She manages to send a letter to Dudley asking for help, but he flat-out refuses to open it because there's no stamp on the envelope. Now operating on purest Rule of Funny, he runs to Whiplash's sawmill, where Nell is tied up in the path of a sawblade, convinces her to put a stamp on the envelope, runs back to base, and only then checks the note. He then rushes to the rescuenote  and saves the day. He then arrests Nell for mail fraud due to her using the wrong kind of stamp.
  • The Land of Dreams is a borderline, possibly unintentional case in early points of The Dreamstone. While they are usually only protecting their dream-making trinket so that Zordrak can't give them nightmares, they consider the Urpneys the highest form of scum for trying to steal it (despite being meek unwilling slaves who only follow Zordrak's plans out of fear of execution if they don't) and are frequently much more relentless in punishing the villains than vice versa. Later episodes tone them down, though they still retain a very black and white approach.
  • In My Life as a Teenage Robot, the Skyway Patrol is comprised of so many Obstructive Bureaucrats that they need to fill out paperwork in order to do anything, even when they are right in view of a monster attack. Even taking quick/"rash" measures requires filling out paperwork, the only addition being a red "RUSH" stamp that's measured in urgency by the amount of times it's used (two for intervening on a current alien attack and three for the officer's threat of arresting Brad and Jenny). Do you know what the dumbest moment of this is? When they apprehended a monster in one episode, upon going back into the field, it's revealed the creature is still on their ship because they didn't get orders to deport it back to its homeland.
    Officer: You're both under arrest!
    Brad: Hey, that's fine. But you'll need an arrest warrant. (Officer visibly deflates in realization) But, before you can get a warrant, you have to fill out a warrant request form. And, before you get a warrant request form, you have to fill out a request acquisition requisite document in triplicate. (Pushes button to drop stacks of paper on officer and two grunts that fall apart and bury them in a pile) If you follow proper procedures, you should be finished in ten or twenty years. (Walks off laughing with Jenny)
    Officer: (Emerges from pile) You two hooligans won't get away with this! I'm going to put three Rash stamps on this! JUST WAIT UNTIL I HAVE THE PROPER PAPERWORK!!!
This was the main reason Nora Wakeman left the organization to begin work on the XJ Series.
  • One episode of Thunderbirds Are Go features a counterpart of Light-Fingered Fred who, after his life of crime, is running an atmospheric scrubber. Fred, in a perfect example of going from one extreme to the other, has become obsessed with the rules to the point of refusing to let a cleaning crew in early and interfering with the rescue because International Rescue are prioritising human life over waiting for clearance. Ironically, in his rule-following zealotry, he's actually forgotten about an incredibly important Rule Zero that renders all other rules null and void during a potentially fatal emergency, and he ends up being fired for causing and mishandling such an emergency.
  • Koala Man: Koala Man is obsessed with following the law to the letter. He never misses a moment to request that someone provide a permit for whatever it is they're doing. His anal retention is eventually revealed to have created his arch-nemesis, the Kookaburra.
  • The Simpsons: Johnny Tightlips, a member of the Springfield Mafia who never lets go of a secret, even when it's something that would save his life.
    Louie: Johnny Tightlips, where'd they hit ya?
    Johnny: I ain't telling you nothin'.
    Louie: But what'll I tell the doctor?
    Johnny: Tell 'im to suck a lemon.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Lawful Anal


Good Clop, Bad Clop

Hudson becomes a cop and arrests people left and right for breaking laws that were long forgotten ...and ridiculous.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / LawfulStupid

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