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My Country, Right or Wrong

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Cass: NCR's my country, and I support it. Anyone says otherwise... I'll feed 'em my knee. I know which side of the firing line I'm on in the Mojave, just so you know.
The Courier: There's a "but" in there.
Cass: Yeah, there is. I'm not some blind, flag-saluting, do-as-they-will NCR lover. They're like family, but let me tell ya what family means. You ever had a brother? Some dumbass younger brother, say, who knocked up the pastor's daughter, can't hold down a job and his home-away is a jail cell? That is NCR. Their compass is spinning. All the time.

The character is a noble, or at least decent, soldier, who doesn't like the policies of their nation and/or state, but fights for it anyway. This person is loyal to their nation, not its leader. Exactly how noble or decent someone can be while helping their organisation do questionable deeds because it is "their duty" varies depending on the specific character and their actions. Evil leaders are very good at promoting and exploiting nationalism, particularly when it comes to inter-national conflict and war. One does often wonder why someone so honorable fights for an evil cause rather than deserting. At worst, this sort of thing can lead to the "I was Just Following Orders" defense. More positively, it may result in them questioning their Blind Obedience and defecting or rebelling.

The title is a common variation from a quote from the USA's naval commander Stephen Decatur...which is all too often taken out of context. For immediately beforehand, Decatur had toasted: "To our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be in the right." Later, the USA's Senator Carl Schurz gave his own interpretation of the statement: "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." This latter take, along with similar anecdotes from others, has also come into prominence in how both nationalism and patriotism are portrayed.

(G. K. Chesterton analogized the simplistic version to saying "my mother, drunk or sober." It still fits with the more nuanced version: you may well be loyal to your mother drunk or sober, and still take a different approach to the two situations.)

No Real Life Examples, Please! Which country is "wrong" or "right" is extremely subjective because widespread, unconscious belief in the principles of nationalism makes people believe that their chosen nation is always 'more right'. Let's not start up a Flame War over this, thanks guys. (Even though the trope doesn't have to be only about who is "right or wrong" among the country leaders, but about unquestioned or blind loyalty of (mostly) soldiers towards them due to patriotism, be it genuine or indoctrinated, including historically)

Compare Realpolitik, Honor Before Reason, My Master, Right or Wrong, Lawful Stupid, Just Following Orders, Tautological Templar, and Culture Justifies Anything. Contrast My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting, where someone's love of country inspires them to want to criticize it. See also Species Loyalty.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Most of the cast of Fullmetal Alchemist are rank-and-file soldiers of the evil Amestris. The average soldier only cares about fighting for their country and the good of the people, and to their misfortune, their leaders are total sociopaths who have pulled out all the stops in ritual sacrifice to obtain godhood / immortality, and will gleefully order their army to massacre civilians under the false crime of revolution. Roy Mustang's entire storyline is about derailing the chain of command until he can get enough of the army on his side to perform a real revolution against the corrupt government.
  • A few of the Zeon from Mobile Suit Gundam are portrayed as this. It just so happens that Gihren Zabi is based off of Hitler.
    • The Zabi family was large and varied, producing not only scheming villains like Giren and Kycilia but also such people as their Anti-Villain brothers, a Wide-Eyed Idealist Garma and valiant and noble Four-Star Badass Dozle. Whose daughter just so happens to be the protagonist in the Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn series.
    • Ramba Ral is a particularly stand-out example. Despite the fact that the Zabi family had his father killed as part of a nasty Cycle of Revenge that began with the death of Zeon's former leader, at the end of the day he's still a Zeon soldier and they're still the royal family (it does help that he works for the comparatively decent Dozle Zabi, who probably had nothing directly to do with the whole mess). This comes back to bite him when he comes to Earth to fight the Gundam, since the Earth Attack Force command, under Kycilia's authority continually stiff him on supplies and support, possibly because they don't believe he could really be that loyal, more likely due to simple Jurisdiction Friction, and he continues to soldier on with what he knows to be a suicide mission regardless.
    • Many characters from various Gundam series are examples, though countries seldom matter and it's often loyalty to other institutions, e.g. Mobile Suit Gundam 00 has Sergei Smirnov, who dislikes actions such as the HRL's Supersoldier project or the world government's A-Law's actions, but he stays loyal to them. Except that he quite openly schemes behind the A-Laws' backs and leaks intel on them to Celestial Being.
  • It's a given, considering the series, but several countries in Hetalia: Axis Powers are portrayed as this, especially WWII Germany, who expresses open disgust at some of the orders he's been given, but has to follow them anyway. Or Russia's growing anger at Stalin despite being more or less fine with communism. Considering that all of the characters are personifications of their countries. They aren't bound to a particular government, leader, or ideology as they represent their people as a whole. Which includes their ideas/cultures/beliefs/what-have-you in general. Plus, autocratic governments can hardly be considered representative of their people in the same way as democratic ones, so it makes sense for their countries to hold different opinions to their rulers - and also to be unable to stop them. Dictators don't hold elections unless they know they will win.
  • The Britannians in Code Geass, even if their rulers oppress others and promote racial supremacy. Also, Suzaku, who fights for the lawful authority of a region, even if he obtained that authority by brutally conquering his own country.
  • Bunchu from Hoshin Engi has this as his main flaw and his main motivation: he has been attached to the kingdom of Yin since his early adulthood and promised his former love interest to do anything to protect it. As a Sennin, he spent centuries tutoring the imperial family and fighting threats, and while the heroes know that the only solution is to have Zhou liberate Yin and defeat Dakki, he's adamant that Yin will recover just by defeating Dakki. Genshi Tenson even gives him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech based on Bunchu's obsession with Yin.
  • Gajeel of Fairy Tail is this, which is what makes the members of Fairy Tail eventually accept him after the events of the Phantom Lord Arc. Gajeel is also majorly Ax-Crazy, which translates to something like having a really mean guard dog that will do everything possible to protect its owner.
    • Several members of the Spriggan Twelve. Alvarez are unlike anything Fairy Tail has fought before in the series; not Evil Sorcerers, not murderers and cultists, but soldiers, many of whom see the war as nothing more than fighting for their country. The fact that Emperor Spriggan is Zeref doesn't even enter the equation for most of them, and Brandish in particular, despite openly disagreeing with the Emperor, spends much of the conflict insisting that as a proud citizen of Alvarez, she cannot and will not betray her homeland.
  • Bleach:
    • Byakuya Kuchiki sided with the law when his sister Rukia was arrested and scheduled for execution. Despite disagreeing with the situation, he was bound by his social position, his military position, and a promise he had once made over his dead parents' honor. As an aristocratic role-model for society in general, he was trapped by the fact that he could not expect others to uphold the law if he broke the law whenever it personally inconvenienced him. As a captain in the Gotei 13, he was expected to obey the orders of the Central 46 without question or hesitation. And, in his past, after having thrown his family into chaos by breaking the rules to both marry a commoner and then honour her deathbed request to adopt and protect her sister (Rukia) as his own, he made a promise to his parents' tomb that he would never break the rules again. Rukia's execution forced him to choose between those two conflicting vows but the sheer weight behind the vow to uphold the law meant that was the vow he had to choose no matter what his personal feelings may have been about it.
    • Yamamoto was also this. Ukitake was Rukia's captain and determined to protect her no matter what and Kyouraku found the whole situation suspicious and wanted to halt the execution until it could be investigated. Both captains broke the law by refusing to uphold the decision of the Central 46 without question and sealing the execution weapon to ensure Rukia couldn't be executed. Yamamoto, incensed by their betrayal and making exactly the same argument Byakuya had made to Ichigo (that society takes precedence over the personal), proceeded to engage them in a fight that would have been to the death had the truth about Rukia's execution not come out in an extremely timely fashion. His personal opinion on the matter of Rukia's execution is never revealed, to him, it didn't matter if it was right or wrong. Upholding one's duty was the only 'right' he was interested in.
  • Naruto:
    • Danzo lives this trope. His catchphrase could be 'for the good of Konoha.'
    • Uchiha Itachi as well. Even in death, he is loyal to Konoha. Most of his plans were devoted to imparting this mindset on his brother Sasuke as well. Things didn't exactly turn out that way.
    • Yashamaru loved his sister Karura and his nephew Gaara, and as a result despised his brother-in-law Rasa, the Fourth Kazekage, for sealing Shukaku into Gaara while he was still in Karura's womb, killing her and dooming Gaara to a life of loneliness and insanity. Despite all that, however, he was still a ninja, and his Undying Loyalty to his village meant that he was willing to put that aside for the sake of his home, being his brother-in-law's right-hand man and a member of Suna's ANBU Black Ops.
  • Regina's loyalty to the Brainwashed and Crazy King Jikochuu in Doki Doki! PreCure is ultimately based on her being his daughter.
  • Deconstructed in Attack on Titan, with several characters devoting themselves entirely to their homeland. It ends up costing them everything that truly matters, leaving them either dead or thoroughly broken.
    • Annie states that her father was fiercely devoted, and raised her for the purpose of serving their homeland. He realized his horrible mistake too late, and her final memories of him were him weeping and pleading for forgiveness. 4 years later, he's a disillusioned and broken man clinging to the hope that his daughter is still alive, somewhere.
    • Though both confess to doubting their mission, Reiner and Bertolt remain loyal and choose to fight against the dear friends they've made during their time as The Mole. It ends up costing Bertolt his life, and Reiner his sanity. Upon his return to Marley, Reiner continues to play the loyal Warrior and fights for his homeland in the ensuing war. But he privately describes the life of a Warrior as a "black fate", and is so guilt-ridden over everything that he attempts suicide.
    • It also applies to Reiner's 12-year-old cousin Gabi, who is likewise a Child Soldier under the same military program. Gabi's hoping to inherit Reiner's Armored Titan. Part of her character growth is eventually realising that she's been brainwashed and that those living within the walls aren't the devils she's been taught about. A catalyst for this is her friend Falco, who realises this before Gabi does, and tries to tell her that her views are wrong. Gabi doesn't take kindly to that.
  • Black Lagoon: The captain of the German U-boat during flashbacks in manga chapter 5/anime episode 4. He fought dutifully in the Kriegsmarine throughout World War II, and as the Reich collapsed he was entrusted with returning a Japanese officer to his homeland. In the anime, he even diverts from his mission to attack a passing Allied ship near the horn of Africa, apparently successfully. However, after his submarine is disabled and sent to the bottom by US Navy destroyers off Thailand, he tells the SS officer who flashed ID to get a "space available" that, if their death means that his wife and children will never have to see another swastika, then it's worth it. The infuriated SS officer shoots him and is killed in turn by the crew.
  • General Boscone from Berserk is this to the Chuder Empire in the Golden Age Arc. While the two other major villains in this arc — Governor Gennon and General Adon Coborlwitz — are particularly unlikeable, Boscone is merely a patriot fighting for his country, merely obeying Gennon because he represents Chuder's authority.

    Comic Books 
  • X-Men: Gladiator, of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard, has explicitly stated that his loyalty is to the Imperium itself, regardless of who's holding the throne (ultimately, he turned out to be very right to support Deathbird: she turned out to be a very capable majestrix. The mad emperor D'Ken, on the other hand...), going as far as serving Vulcan while showing distaste for having to fight Lilandra, the previous majestrix, and his long-time Bodyguard Crush. Eventually, however, Vulcan finally pushes Gladiator a bridge too far (capturing Lilandra and preparing to have her executed), leading Gladiator to defy this trope for the first (and almost certainly last) time. By the end of the War of Kings event, Gladiator is the one holding the Throne, what with everyone else in charge either being dead or MIA.
  • Eric Finch, Chief of New Scotland Yard in the V for Vendetta graphic novel. Helping to keep his country afloat in its hour of need, he tells the Big Bad his disdain for the fascist Norsefire Coalition right to the man's face. The Leader replies that it's a measure of his respect for Finch's craft that he's still alive to say that. In the end, Finch decides that upholding such a regime isn't worth the price.
  • Captain America:
    • Former stand-in for Cap, USAgent, is a perfect example of the self-righteous and overly jingoistic approach to this trope (as opposed to the actual Captain, who considers his duty to be to America's ideals themselves rather than their leaders or political parties).
    • A villainous counterpart of Captain America, the Iron Cross, also counts for this trope, as he fought for Germany in WWII for precisely these reasons.
    • Minor Daredevil and Captain America villain Nuke is likewise a case of this, due to his status as an Evil Counterpart or Foil to Captain America — a brainwashed and abused Super-Soldier whose sole defining personality trait is his obsession with the glory of America and his burning need to kill anyone he thinks is threatening it. This isn't helped by his perpetual delusion that he's fighting the Vietcong in The Vietnam War in order to rescue his army buddies.
    • Ironically, Nuke's Ultimate Marvel counterpart averts this; he was created as the Captain America for the Vietnam War, but became so disgusted with American atrocities and moral ambiguities that he went rogue and now he wants to punish America for not being the "good guy" as it claimed to be when it went into Vietnam.
  • Hans von Hammer, protagonist of DC's Enemy Ace feature and WWI pilot for Germany, especially in Garth Ennis' War In Heaven (WWII) version. However, when he discovered the Nazi death camps of the Final Solution in the final days of the war, that was the last straw for him and he led a mutiny with his unit.
  • 2000 AD:
    • Subverted in the Dave Gibbons/Will Simpson re-imagining of Rogue Trooper. The Genetic Infantry are shown to be an elite band of highly-motivated, unshakable soldiers, but they show no interest in the cause which they serve. Their motivation is drawn from genetic and psychology conditioning and a fierce bond of brotherhood.
    • Fiends of the Eastern Front: The German soldiers are depicted as regular conscripts, with no mention of any Nazi affinities.
  • The Garth Ennis Vertigo incarnation Unknown Soldier, a bandaged character from DC Comics. The long-lived soldier snapped upon seeing a mass of emaciated corpses at a newly-liberated Nazi concentration camp. He decided that since the USA fought against something this horrible, whatever they fight against is the right thing to oppose. This conviction is only shaken nearly 50 years later, when a dying general confesses there was a failed plot to relocate top Nazis, including Hitler himself, to Colombia in exchange for Germany's surrender and scientific research.
    • In the original run, the Unknown Soldier went up against a German soldier who disagreed with the ideals of Nazism, but still fought against the allies, not because he was loyal to the Nazis, but because he was loyal to Germany.
  • Superman:
    • This is what happens to the character in The Dark Knight Returns, though that was not in canon, where he's frequently refused to do favors for the U.S. government if he feels they are wrong, especially when Lex Luthor was President. His attitude towards the city of Metropolis, however, is closer to this trope.
    • Superman doesn't believe in unconditional loyalty when it comes to governments, he will usually follow the wishes of the American people, even if he doesn't agree with them. For example, in Public Enemies, he says:
      Superman: The world will never know how I struggled with the decision to stay out of the electoral process. Should I have gone on television and told the voters not to elect this man? And what then? If I use my influence — my character and my reputation — to tell people how to vote, what does that make me? I choose to fight for Truth, Justice, and the American Way. And for all its flaws, American democracy does work... The United States doesn't need me to dictate, or worse, deprive her people of that most precious gift. The freedom of choice. Even when I knew in my heart that choice was wrong.
  • Happens with DC's Captain Atom from time to time, most memorably during the period of time when Lex Luthor was elected President. In Public Enemies, Luthor forced Atom by executive order to hunt down Superman and Batman, an act Atom clearly found distasteful.

    Comic Strips 
  • Played with in the strip by Argentinian cartoonist Quino titled "Mi País (My Country)".
    Clerk: Citizenship?
    Man: Put "contradictory"...

    Fan Works 
  • The griffins in Ace Combat: The Equestrian War are all about this.
  • This is a major theme throughout Birds of a Feather. Many major characters struggle with the implications of remaining loyal to nations whose actions become increasingly extreme, and both ZAFT and the Earth Alliance are portrayed as having both war criminals and dedicated soldiers fighting for their countries in their ranks. A handful decide that loyalty to their nation is not the same as loyalty to their military, and decide to break away and try to set right their nation.
  • Blood and Honor: Quinn and Sanguis are both ultra-dedicated Imperials, but they hate the in-fighting which runs rampant and the extreme cruelty of some Sith. Sanguis also clearly dislikes some of the orders given to her by Baras, but she carries them out loyally.
  • A Brief History of Equestria: This is the traditional view of the pegasus' Celestine Junta. However, once it becomes clear that Commander Sullamander is bugnuts crazy, standards start slipping dramatically for the first time in the Junta's hundreds of years-long history.
  • Children of Remnant: James dislikes the Atlas Council pulling him out of Vale and getting ready to start a war, yet in the end this isn't enough to compromise his sense of duty and he ends up leaving the Kingdom.
  • In The Masks We Wear Zuko refuses to believe that anything the Fire Nation did is wrong, and as such considers the mere thought of helping the Avatar and overthrowing his father as treason.
  • In Memento Vivere, a Final Fantasy X fanfiction, Auron’s initial loyalty to the Church of Yevon causes a bit of conflict within the group.
  • In the Uplifted series, this is the viewpoint of Joachim Hoch and many others at the beginning of the story. Nationalism is the order of the day.
  • In Code Geass: The Prepared Rebellion, General Darlton is opposed to Operation Snake Pit but goes along with it anyway because of his loyalty to both Britannia and Princess Cornelia.
  • A few of the captains in The Defeated, such as Toshiro and Ukitake, admit that Ichigo and Orihime are right to hate them and Soul Society truly is at fault for both Rukia's execution along with everything that followednote , but it's still their duty to protect Soul Society, even from those with a rightful grievance.
  • Many Starfleet characters in The War of the Masters take the "if wrong, to be set right" side of this since the Federation is dealing with a significant amount of high-level corruption. In Create Your Own Fate, for example, Kanril Eleya remarks to Sheri Walford (a recently separated Child Soldier from a group of colonies that seceded from the Federation) that she stays in Starfleet ("and keep telling them exactly what I think of them") despite questions about her loyalty because she believes she can still make a difference.
  • Thrawn in The Unity Saga says this word for word when justifying his actions.
  • Obito-Sensei: Or "Hidden Village" in the case of Minato Namikaze to the Hidden Leaf. He very much thinks about the prosperity of Konoha above all else, even the lives of himself and his subordinates. He actually seriously considers turning Naruto into a Jinchruki for the sake of protecting the village despite knowing the pain it will cause his son.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Black Panther: Okoye, as general of the Dora Milaje, is bound to serve whoever sits on the throne of Wakanda, even when she visibly disagrees with the policies of the king. That said, when she has a choice between following either T'Challa or Killmonger, who at this point both have equal claims to the throne, she doesn't hesitate to choose the leader she feels is right for her country.
    • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever: Things become more complicated in the sequel. Although Okoye has remained faithful to the throne in the years since the first movie, the stain of her initial action is apparently still present. When she fails to protect Princess Shuri while on a mission, Queen Ramonda angrily relieves the general of her command, saying that she was accepted back into service even after declaring for Killmonger, but her most recent shame cannot be rectified. In Ramonda's defense, her rash action is motivated by the belief that she has now lost her entire family (husband, son, and daughter), and Shuri later brings Okoye back as the first of the Midnight Angels, a division of the Dora Milaje armored in high-tech exoskeletons similar to Iron Man's suits.
  • Bridge of Spies: James Donovan cites this trope as a reason why Rudolf Abel cannot be considered a traitor unlike the Rosenbergs — Abel was merely following the directives given to him by his senior officer. Abel himself gives a cynical, and typically Russian, definition of this concept:
    Rudolf Abel: The boss is not always right, but he is always the boss.
  • Das Boot: Seen where the submariners, except for the 1st Lieutenant, disliked the Nazis and were just doing their job. Arguably necessary for the audience to be able to sympathize with people fighting for Nazi Germany, and to some extent Truth in Television, as many in the Kriegsmarine resented the fact that the Nazi hierarchy paid more attention to the Heer (army) and Luftwaffe (air force). (A purported but plausible quote from the Führer in real life: "I've got a Nazi air force, a conservative army, and a communist navy.")
  • The Exception: Brandt wrestles with this, as a soldier in the German Wehrmacht. He feels that it's his duty to obey orders and serve, though he's against the antisemitic atrocities. Brandt tries to tell himself that most Germans in Nazi service aren't like that. His Jewish lover Mieke, though, convinces him that he's the exception, while most aren't. As a result, he accedes to helping Mieke strike at the Nazis, coming to believe that it's best for his country instead of serving an evil government.
  • One of the hallmarks of James Bond that holds across the many depictions of him is his steadfast loyalty, whether to Queen and Country or to his closest friends and allies. Things do get tricky when they occasionally result in Conflicting Loyalty, and which way he goes in a given situation can turn out different. Him siding with Queen and Country in these kinds of conflicts shows up most notably during the Pierce Brosnan era of films, particularly:
    • GoldenEye, where even though Bond admits that the British betrayal of the Lienz Cossacks to Stalin after World War II is a black mark on the country's history he still pursues the Big Bad who had been wronged as a result of it and using it as a Freudian Excuse to pursue devastating vengeance upon the United Kingdom. Bond is also derided as "Her Majesty's Loyal Terrier" for it. The contrast is starker here since Alec Trevelyan is the Big Bad Friend whom Bond was close friends with back when he was 006, and Trevelyan had considered asking Bond to join him but knew that Bond's loyalty was always to the mission, never to his friend.
    • The World Is Not Enough, which is the Bond family motto and one in which he uses to reject that film's Big Bad's offer to switch sides, as in "you couldn't buy my loyalty if you gave me the whole world", even when he's at the mercy of a torture device that had him dead to rights.
  • Red Sparrow: The sparrows' trainers and the SVR hierarchy stress self-sacrifice out of Russian patriotism. General Korchnoi turns out to be the "to be set right" version when he reveals himself to Dominika as the The Mole SVR has been looking for: he started working for the Americans after an Obstructive Bureaucrat wouldn't let his wife be treated for a sudden illness in an American hospital while living with him on an overseas post, leading to her preventable death. Because he loves his country, he wants to defeat the men whom he views as destroying Russia for their own gain.
  • World War II: Heroic/noble German soldiers in movies depicting the conflict.

  • 1632: A minor recurring theme, as we repeatedly see people from "enemy" nations who recognize based on the foresight/hindsight provided by reading the uptime history books that their countries are in the wrong at LEAST practically if not morally (such as upholding serfdom), but serve their country regardless even when rulers fail to recognize the warnings.
  • Biggles: Antagonist Erich von Stalhein: "Germany meant more to me than Hitler ever did. It still does." He is quite explicitly a German nationalist and seems listless whenever not serving its interests, even working for the Soviets, despite being a monarchist to the core himself.
  • The Bridge Kingdom Archives: Princess Lara. Even though she despises her father, who has sent her on a mission to infiltrate another country (and his Spy Master even more), she still believes it is her duty because it would mean salvation for her starving countrymen.
  • Camp X: Mr. Krum may live in Whitby, Ontario, but he is still loyal to his German heritage, hence why he was providing the Nazis with information from his position as the head of a newspaper.
  • Cryptonomicon: The U-Boat captain Günter Bischoff starts off like this (he's definitely not a Nazi), but ends up just looking for a way out of the whole thing.
  • Darkness at Noon: Rubashov's background was that of a faithful enforcer of the Party line who publicly upheld the principle of the Party's infallibility, though privately admitting that it had turned against the principles of the Revolution that he had fought in. Ivanov questions why he does not see himself as a traitor.
  • Debt of Honor: As the plan gets underway, several Japanese characters struggle to decide if their loyalty should be to their nation as she is, even though that means going along with the crazy, or if it should be to Japan as she ought to be, even if working for the good of the nation may involve giving away secrets in a manner that might be deemed treasonous.
  • The Draka: Eric von Shrakenberg takes this trope to a whole new level, given that the country he is fighting for is the Domination of Draka, which makes Nazi Germany look tame by comparison. Although he views the Draka ideology and society as a cultural dead-end, he is arguably the single most important individual in Draka history, playing a key role in both the Eurasian War and The Final War.
  • The Eagle Has Landed: Oberst Kurt Steiner. He actually risked his life trying to save a Jewish girl from death. He is then court-martialed, along with a platoon of his men. They are then given the job of kidnapping Churchill. One of them rescues a local girl from a water wheel and is killed in the process. So it is obvious that they are good guys, yet they still fight for Nazi Germany. In an aversion, it is hinted that Steiner hesitates when he has a chance to shoot Churchill because he knows it is wrong and is himself then shot and apparently killed.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Dolores Umbridge doesn't seem care who runs the Ministry of Magic so long as she gets to keep her job. Yet one does gets the impression that she enjoys enforcing the most ruthless laws more than anything else. In Order of the Phoenix, her devotion to Cornelius Fudge seemed sincere (and therefore probably her only redeeming trait), but by the time of Deathly Hallows she's very comfortable with the promotion she's gotten under Voldemort's regime and her previous love of Fudge comes off more in a Professional Butt-Kisser kind of way.
    • In Order of the Phoenix, Percy Weasley advocates this trope but unknowingly subverts it in the process. He pushes for Ron be to loyal to Hogwarts itself rather than Albus Dumbledore as Headmaster, whom many think is going senile due to his insistence of Lord Voldermort's rebirth. Yet at the time, Percy is so blinded by his rising power within the Ministry - and buying into their smear campaign against Dumbledore (which is pushing the senility angle in the first place) - that his words come off as nothing but grandiose posturing. Ron is immediately disgusted and makes a clear show of shredding and burning Percy's letter.
  • Honor Harrington: Several of the more sympathetic Havenite characters qualify, especially before the second Enemy Civil War. A couple did switch sides but most just tried to stick it out - and some did manage to make improvements in their own countries by doing so. As time has gone on and the government changed, Haven is no longer an obvious "bad guy".
    • Indeed, Cachat's plan in "Fanatic" depended on the majority of the Havenite officers and enlisted being decent people, including many of the State Sec officers (consider that State Sec is normally presented as Lawful Evil, and only mildly lawful at that). A man in Cachat's position would be in a position to guess which way those particular State Sec officers would move.
    • Cachat himself subscribes strongly to the "if wrong, to be set right" interpretation, stopping shy of nothing to do so.
    • Another Havenite example was Amos Parnell, the former head of their space navy. Thought executed, he was discovered and rescued from a prison planet, and despite having every reason to utterly hate the current government of Haven, refused to provide intelligence that would directly assist the Manticorans in battle against Havenite forces. However, he does testify about the coup and helps destroy the new government's prestige.
      • In contrast, he convinces the much younger and more idealistic Havenite officer Warner Caslet to defect. When Caslet attempts to invoke this trope, Parnell shuts him down. "Son, you don't have a country anymore." In Caslet's case, recent circumstances outside his control had guaranteed that Caslet would be executed or disappeared if he returned to Havenite territory.
    • Thomas Theisman articulates this thought several times when considering Alfredo Yu, his own mentor who defected, and Warner Caslet, one of his subordinates whom he considers an honest, integral man who wanted nothing more than to defend his nation and was driven into defection. Theisman understands and empathises with them both, while still deciding that he cannot follow in their footsteps because he is loyal to the Republic, if not to its leadership. Theisman himself, however, is someone who takes the full Schulz quote as his motto, including the part about "if wrong, to be set right." At the end of Book 9, he shoots Citizen Chairman Saint-Just and restores the old Republic.
  • Monstrous Regiment: This is the attitude that Corporal Strappi preaches. Sergeant Jackrum also follows this, but at the end, retires to find out, as he put it, "what I've been fighting for" his entire life.
  • Pseudo-Lot or Concerning Patriotism: Karel Čapek wrote this short story as a take on the Biblical story of Lot. In his version, when the angels come to Lot and tell them that Sodom is about to be destroyed, he realizes that as much as he hates the sins of the people of Sodom, he cannot leave them now that they're about to die.
  • Red Storm Rising: Alekseyev serves the Soviet Union, all while having private doubts about whether what the country is doing is legitimate or worthwhile, particularly staging a bombing of the Kremlin that killed several children early in the novel.
  • Ruled Britannia: In this Alternate History novel where the Spanish Armada succeeded and occupied England, William Shakespeare (Yes, the William Shakespeare) admits that, if given a choice, he probably would choose to follow the Roman Catholic traditions of Spain as opposed to the Protestant teachings of England, but he refuses to let these traditions be forced onto the country at gunpoint. Thus, he helps launch the rebellion that topples the government of Queen Isabella and frees the imprisoned Queen Elizabeth, even if that means he will need to become a Protestant again, because, at least then, it would be by England's choice.
    • Also a recurring theme in Turtledove's Timeline191 series with citizens in the Confederate States, since they are the analogue to Germany. Clarence Potter is the most notable - he despises Jake Featherston personally and feels his temperament is ill-suited to the Presidency. But he also saves Featherston from a black assassin and a planned military coup, on the grounds that eliminating him would only lead to the CSA being conquered by the more powerful U.S.
  • Safehold: Several characters have the attitude My Church Right or Wrong, agreeing with the Cahrisians that the Vicarate is hopelessly corrupt but unwilling to raise arms against The Church.
    • The Earl of Thirsk is probably the best example, feeling obligated to fight Charis but doing his best to fight an honorable and just war. Given that David Weber is the author of both series many fans have made comparisons to Thomas Theisman (see above). Like Theisman he follows through with "to be set right" teaming up with other nobles and some of the decent priests to overthrow the Inquisition in Dohlar, convince the king to abdicate in favor of his son (with Thirsk as Regent) and make peace with Charis.
  • Soldier X: Might qualify. The main character talks about how, as a teacher, the new students always stare at him because he is missing an arm. When they inevitably ask about it, he reveals that he lost it in WWII and someone always comments "it had to be done". However, the main character was a conscript in the Wehrmacht (although it is a little more complicated...).
  • Star Wars: Many imperials use varying degrees of this trope. Some desert right away after Battle of Endor. Others remain loyal until the interim government implodes. Some defect or desert after they become sickened by their commanding officers or realize that the Empire has lost unity.
    • Pellaeon remains loyal to the person who has the most legal claim to the government and later commands the Remnant. However, as time goes on he realizes that the Remnant must change its racist policies to survive.
    • It wasn't just Imperials, either. Han Solo had a bad case of "My planet, right or wrong" that alienated his whole family and ended up sparking a second civil war in the Legacy of the Force series. It started to show up during the first Corellian insurrection when Thrackan first sized power, but disaster was averted until later on, despite its leader, his cousin, not being killed when someone had the chance. He hated Thrackan and his humanocentric policies, but let his loyalty to Corellia itself cause a LOT of trouble. He finally did come to his senses and repair the family rift, and work with Boba Fett to get rid of Thrackan, but the damage was already done and the war underway.
  • Strands of Sorrow: Commodore Smith displays this at the end. A newly rescued government official becomes acting President and immediately orders the resumption of the Zombie Advocate policies that let the Zombie Apocalypse get traction in the first place. She also talks about charging the surviving military with war crimes under the justification that the hordes of zombies they've killed were technically alive, despite pre-ZA testimony from the CDC establishing that the infection is irreversible. Rather than stage a military coup, Smith merely acquiesces to house arrest under the condition that his troops face no charges. And rather than plan any sort of assassination, Smith's daughters resolve the situation by rescuing a Reasonable Authority Figure who outranks the Secretary of Education.
  • Summer of My German Soldier: The hero Anton.
  • Temeraire: Captain Laurence is deeply devoted to Britain, and his sense of duty is what constantly drives the plot — he hated the thought of taking on a dragon but did it because he thought it was right. However, he finally draws the line when he hears of a British plan to infect every French dragon with a fatal disease, and let to spread and kill every non-British dragon in the world despite them being sentient beings, which finally prompts him to turn traitor.
  • The Three Musketeers: Rochefort is depicted as an honourable opponent of the eponymous musketeers. Although, there, it's more a case of "My Boss (Cardinal Richelieu), Right or Wrong", as both he and the musketeers are loyal to France.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: A major theme. The main characters understand perfectly well why Barrayar is viewed by many as The Evil Empire and are doing the best they can to be just in an unjust world. Miles, despite having command of a mercenary fleet that could take him anywhere in the galaxy, remains loyal to a planet that reviles him as a mutant (as he frequently points out, he's actually just a cripple), to the consternation of his female partners who have no desire to settle down with him in a No Woman's Land, and cannot fathom why his mother (who shows a similar loyalty to her adopted home) would choose to immigrate there.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5: A major theme of the series, particularly in the Earth Alliance Civil War portion of the Myth Arc.
    • In the episode "Endgame", General Lefcourt leads the ships loyal to the Clark regime. As he puts it, "I'm from the old school: a soldier doesn't take up arms against his own government, no matter how justified you feel doing it." That said, when President Clark sets up Earth's defense grid to scorch the planet rather than let Sheridan win, Lefcourt destroys the last orbital defense platform that Sheridan's fleet couldn't reach. He only did so after Clark was dead, and thus no longer President; given Luchenko's rise to Presidency, presumably Earthgov has an analogue of the 25th Amendment. It turns out that many members of Earthforce had that same mindset, including Babylon 5's later CO, Captain Elizabeth Lochley. [1], [2]
    • Lefcourt's mindset does invite the question of whether he would have followed an immoral order and allowed the orbital defense grid to kill millions of people.
    • Many officers refused to obey immoral orders during the Earth Alliance Civil War. [3], [4], [5], [6]
    • This trope gets a very thorough working over through the course of the show, particularly in the latter three seasons. The fifth season addition to the cast of an Earth Force Captain who refused to join Sheridan's faction in the civil war adds an ongoing layer of character friction. The officer in question, Babylon 5's new CO Captain Elizabeth Lochley, repeats Sheridan's (correct) assertion that you do not follow an unlawful order, but also argues that the solution isn't to go into open rebellion against your own government.
    • Captain Sheridan himself also qualifies. Clark appointed him to command the station because by all appearances he was a staunch loyalist. What Clark didn't count on was that Sheridan was staunchly loyal to the Earth Alliance Constitution, rather than being loyal to the government that was violating that Constitution. He ended up fulfilling the second part of the quote: "if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right."
    • Moving away from Earth, Londo Mollari has patriotism as his ultimate motivation for nearly everything he does, including repeating the party line regarding the Centauri treatment of the Narns. Even when he arranges to assassinate Emperor Cartagia, he's doing it chiefly to protect the Centauri people from a bonafide lunatic.
  • Doctor Who: In "Doomsday", Yvonne Hartman (leader of Torchwood in 2007) did her duty "for queen and country" even after being upgraded to a Cyberman.
  • Rankol in the 2007 Flash Gordon, who explains to Princess Aura, before his apparent Heel–Face Turn, that his loyalty is to the ruler of Mongo — whomever that may be.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Despite knowing what Aerys did to Lyanna's father and brother and that he planned to have her entire family wiped out, Rhaegar still fought for his father during Robert's rebellion.
    • Tyrion Lannister. "My dear brother, you wound me. You know how much I love my family." Of course, while he's being entirely sarcastic when he says it, he does tend to go along with what's expected of him in the end — if not exactly in a manner the rest of his family approves of. This becomes a source of conflict for him after Sansa's Heroic BSoD following the Red Wedding and when he meets Oberyn Martell. Both of them lost family members to atrocities ordered and/or enabled by his father and King Joffrey and he's torn between obvious sympathy and compassion for their plight and his loyalty to Lannister hegemony. This ends up backfiring on him spectacularly since his public disapproval of his nephew leads people to accuse him of disloyalty in his Kangaroo Court trial. He then decides once and for all that he will no longer be a loyal Lannister retainer and shoots his father's plans to save face and send him to the Wall. When the trial by combat ends in failure for him, he's released by Jaime so as to flee Westeros, but before he leaves he burns his final bridge by killing his father. Of course it's one thing for Tyrion to fight Lannisters he dislikes (Tywin and Cersei) but another for him to fight against Lannisters he likes, namely Jaime, and in Season 7, Dany rebukes him for suggesting a softball strategy rather than a ruthless one because he doesn't want to go against Jaime. This becomes obvious when after Dany listens to his suggestion to lay siege and encircle the capital, they come upon the Lannister train carrying the pillage of the Reach back to the city near Blackwater, and the resulting battle sees Jaime charging at Dany with a spear all the while Tyrion watches in horror muttering "No" to his brave, foolish, Cersei-serving brother.
    • Varys is arguably the purest example of this trope. Despite serving as spymaster to a succession of monarchs, he makes it clear from the very beginning that his loyalty lies not with any ruler, but with the realm and it's people. Born into poverty and sold as a slave before coming to the attention of Westerosi sovereigns, he knows full well the suffering people experience under corrupt systems, and has no qualms about orchestrating the removal of one leader and replacing them with one whom he thinks will be more just. While he does occasionally get called fickle and opportunistic, his principles never waiver in the slightest, and in the end he is fully willing to give his own life if it means even the chance of preventing another tyrant gaining power.
  • On Highlander: The Series, Duncan fought for the North in the Civil War. He met another immortal who fought for the South. He said that the other immortal was on the wrong side; the other immortal acknowledged that he was, but said that he had made ties with his neighbors and friends and didn't feel like he could turn away from them.
  • Bryce from Max Headroom is loyal to the TV company Network XXIII, to the point of trying to kill Edison Carter in the first episode. But Bryce is doing it only because it was ordered of him, and he bears no genuine malice. He just wants to play with computers. This is only true of Bryce in the American version, however; in the original British Made-for-TV movie, Bryce is not only wholly unsympathetic but killing Carter is his idea in the first place.
  • In a very early Mission: Impossible episode, "The Reluctant Dragon", the main villian, played marvelously by character actor John Colicos, is well aware of the evils of his country's oppressive policies, but carries on as Security Minister because he's loyal to his country, and insulates himself in cultural pursuits. It's not hard to imagine that things would be much worse with someone else in his place, and he ends up being probably the most sympathetic villain in the series' history; as he lies shot at the end, he even generates a degree of compassion and respect from Rollin, who takes time to help staunch the bleeding before making his escape.
  • Motherland: Fort Salem: Tally is the most gung-ho member of her unit, and genuinely believes that the military is a force for good.
  • The German mariners in the World War II Mini Series The Sinking of the Laconia, especially Captain Werner Hartenstein.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series has the Romulan ship captain in "Balance of Terror" and the Klingon captain Kang in "Day of the Dove".
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • This trope is Gul Dukat's explanation for switching his allegiance to the new, democratic Cardassian government in an earlier season. In a rare moment of direct honesty, he admits that this quasi-Heel–Face Turn took place shortly after it became obvious that the old regime was going to lose.
      Dukat: As a loyal officer of the Cardassian Military, I am pledged to serve the legitimate ruling body of the Empire, whoever that may be.
      Sisko: In other words, you saw which way the wind was blowing and switched sides.
      Dukat: It seemed like a good idea at the time...
    It's also his justification for his subsequent Face–Heel Turn when he betrays that government by allying Cardassia with the Dominion and declaring himself the new head-of-state. It had nothing to do with his personal ambition for power or seizing the power to enact revenge on his foreign (and domestic) enemies.
    • When Garak is ordered to kill three dissidents and Quark (who's helping them escape Cardassia), he does admit to Quark that he has to carry out the verdict of the Central Command even if it's against his better judgement to follow those orders. Subverted in that he eventually makes the decision to defy the Central Command and help the dissidents escape. Possibly double-subverted, as Garak's only explanation for doing this is that he 'loves Cardassia', framing even this act of defiance against the Central Command as in the service of the Cardassian people. In another episode, he's quite content with how his people treat orphans left behind on Bajor, rationalizing that it's just how one is supposed to act:
      Garak: Children without parents have no status in Cardassian society. The situation is most unfortunate, but I don't make the rules.
    • Really, country loyalty is the guiding principle for all Cardassians, all the time. The problem is that each of them has a different idea about what's good for the empire, ranging from "I should be the ruler because I am obviously the right man for the job" to "The Cardassians need to own up to the crimes in our past."
    • A complex version occurs in "Duet" when a high-ranking Cardassian officer guilty of terrible war crimes is captured, and proudly justifies his crimes as being necessary for the good of Cardassia. It turns out that the war criminal was already dead. Their captive had been horrified by the war crimes and assumed his identity so there could be a public trial and punishment. The kicker was that he was still entirely loyal to Cardassia, and considered the public reckoning to be part of setting his society right.
      Kira: [after exposing his true identity] Why are you doing this?
      Aamin Marritza: For Cardassia! The only way Cardassia will survive is if it stands before Bajor and admits the truth! My trial will force Cardassia to acknowledge its guilt, and we're guilty, all of us! My death is necessary.
    • Damar goes so far as to form the resistance inside of Cardassia because the Dominion stopped treating them as equals. He was willing to kill his trusted right-hand man because the guy was ready to quit after the Dominion made it personal. Damar eulogizes that the deceased was a good and loyal citizen to a Cardassia that no longer exists.
    • The Jem'Hadar are bred to be unquestioningly obedient to the Dominion, even obeying orders to go to their deaths because "it is the order of things." In one case, a Jem'hadar realizes that the unusually poor strategy of the Vorta would lead to his entire unit being killed in the attack and expressly recognizes that they were betrayed by the Vorta, but still conducts the attack as planned.
    • Really, this trope is more the central theme of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as a whole. It's simpler to name the people who don't wrestle with it in the series. Kira, whose actions during the occupation were explicitly terroristic, found herself at odds with her new role as a soldier of a legitimate government. Julian Bashir was often at odds with Starfleet's own brand of this Trope. Sisko had to struggle with complacency in a political assassination for the good of the Federation. Worf had to wrestle with his ideals of what it means to be Klingon with the fact that not all Klingons are paragons of Klingon virtue. Quark faced conflicts against Ferengi society versus his loyalty to friends and family.
  • A variation of this is spoken of by Jonathan Archer in Star Trek: Enterprise in the Mirror Universe episode "In a Mirror, Darkly", when he claims that Starfleet officers are loyal to the Terran Emperor, but don't really care who that is. All one has to do is to successfully overthrow the government and name oneself Emperor, and the military will support him or her.
  • Zorro: In the 1957 series, Zorro is shown fighting for his beloved Spain, even against revolutionaries... even though it is repeatedly shown to be a totalitarian regime that cares more about its own petty wars than its citizens. The sequels made sure to rectify this.
  • Castiel from Supernatural shows shades of this in season four, mixed with My Master, Right or Wrong, as Heaven is his "country", but he also wants to follow the orders of God, whose intentions are relayed to him by his superiors. Cas admits to Dean that he has doubts and is uncertain of the morality of what he's told to do, but he obeys without question because that's what he's done his whole existence and because orders from Heaven must be righteous because they come from Heaven. Eventually he starts actively questioning Heaven's goals and edicts. This goes poorly for him.
  • Blackadder: Sir Talbot, a loyalist Lord cheerfully tells Prince George that he doesn't care that the Prince is an utter buffoon, or that his royal father is a senile, inbred madman, as far as Talbot is concerned, they were anointed by God, and have his unquestioning loyalty in opposing the anti-royal sentiments in Parliament. Unfortunately, he dies of old age a few seconds after making that speech, forcing Blackadder to come up with a new plan.

  • Midnight Oil title drops this trope in their song My Country, though it is more a critique of Patriotic Fervor than this trope specifically.
    I hear you say the truth must take a beating
    The flag a camouflage for your deceiving [...]
    And did I hear you say:
    My country right or wrong
    My country oh so strong
    My country going wrong.
  • As do Levellers in a few of theirs, most interestingly, in "England My Home".
    Oh, what happened to
    My green and pleasant land?
  • German punk band Die Toten Hosen's "Tausend gute Gründe" lists "a thousand good reasons to be proud of this country" only to admit that at the moment, they can't actually come up with a single one.
  • "Winning Ugly" by The Rolling Stones from Dirty Work has a literal line like this:
    My country right or wrong
    Let the devil take the hindmost.
  • There's a line in Lou Reed's song There is No Time, listing it among the things that this is not the time for:
    This is no time for my country Right or Wrong
    Remember what that brought.


    Pro Wrestling 
  • Used to justify the Heel–Face Turn of Jack Swagger, through his manager, Zeb Coulter, in a feud against Foreign Wrestling Heel Alexander Rusev and Lana. Despite Zeb's heel gimmick being borderline (ahem) racist, very right-wing politically (including criticizing Obama), and being particularly chilly towards illegal immigrants (i.e. Mexicans, documented or otherwise), Coulter managed to get a decent portion of the crowd on the side of him and Swagger with the help of a Crowd Chant catchphrase ("We the People!") and by pointing out that, yes, they had their issues with the President's policies, but he is still America's president, and it's for Americans to work out among themselves, not for arrogant foreigners to criticize.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • A common depiction of the Imperial Guard has very strong tones of this, especially when they're the antagonists. Otherwise, they actually believe what they're doing is right in itself.
    • Outcasts are the Eldar that grew tired of their Craftworld and leave to roam the galaxy on their own. Yet when Craftworld needs them, they return to fight, usually as infiltrators, scouts, and snipers. In "Retribution", even while acting Craftworld Autarch and Seers, Rohan endlessly complains about archaic ways of his companions but follows their orders nonetheless.
  • One quality in Shadowrun is named this. In exchange for swearing a fanatical loyalty to your faction, to the point that betraying them in any way is unthinkable, a character receives the ability to ignore damage penalties in combat.
  • Pops up from time to time in BattleTech. During the FedCom Civil War, for example, this was the reason for many soldiers, especially in the Federated Suns half, for supporting the "legitimate" ruler Kathrine Steiner-Davion (who was actually a usurper and populist demagogue who didn't meet the requirements for leading the Federated Suns because she'd never served in the military or the Lyran Commonwealth because she'd been raised in the Federated Suns).
  • In the Freedom in the Galaxy boardgame, Grand Marshal Barca. He's the finest commander of the whole game and has been serving the Empire at that post for forty years, never mind who the current Emperor is or what his policies are. ( Then again, he belongs to a race of bulldog-like aliens noted for unwavering loyalty ).
  • Princess: The Hopeful: This is the fundamental philosophy of the Court of Tears. Their guiding philosophy is that the city of Alhambra, the last remnant of the Kingdoms of Light, must be preserved at any cost, no matter what risks or Compromises of Belief are necessary.

    Video Games 
  • Papers, Please. Although the first choice players may take is to simply follow the law, is it worth following laws when the people upholding them are more corrupt than you? Is it worth taking that bribe if you know you're going to be better off than if you didn't?
  • In Halo, many of the Covenant's Elites feel this way about their genocidal war against humanity, mostly because they respect humans as Worthy Opponents and believe incorporating them would be the honorable thing to do.
  • The Fire Emblem series in general does it too many times to count.
    • Camus the Sable from Shadow Dragon is somewhat tragic as he was a kind-hearted and brilliant man but valued his country above all else. He exemplifies the trope well enough that in the fandom, the "Camus Archetype" refers to antagonists with sympathetic personalities and motives who nonetheless cannot be convinced to join your army and must be defeated. Fortunately, he survives and is recruitable in the 3rd game.
    • Subverted, however, with Lorenz from the same country (and the same map). Caeda is able to persuade him that if the king's actions are hurting the people of his country, then he has a duty to overthrow the king to protect his people, an argument he is not able to find a counter for.
    • Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War has a few examples.
      • Eldigan of Nordion, best friends with Sigurd and Quan, and the brother of Princess Lachesis, who fought because Agustrian usurper King Chagall threatened to smear mud on his name. And if you don't fight him and, instead, get Lachesis the Earth Sword, Eldigan will still be executed by Chagall and the Cross Knights will continue to battle you.
      • Ishtar from the same game's second generation. She's kind-hearted enough to be the best friend of Teeny/Linda, despite Ishtar's mother abusing them, she seriously questions the Child Hunts promoted by her country and tries to minimize the damage as best as she can, but she's too duty-bound with the honor of her family and country (and being in love with pre-possession Julius), in which Seliph's army has caused many casualties on, that she cannot be recruited and made her last stand in the name of those she's bound to, dying in the process.
      • Subverted, meanwhile, with Jamke of Verdane. He's unable to persuade his father not to follow the advice of the Obviously Evil Sandima and takes to the battlefield on their orders. But when Edain (whom he'd helped escape from his brothers) asks him why he fights knowing it's wrong, he decides that he'd rather deal with being called a traitor than fight a war he knows is wrong, joining Sigurd's side.
    • In The Binding Blade, Miledy's lover Gale is a Wyvern Lord (and subsequent Dragon General) whose allegiance belongs to King Zephiel and General Murdock, while Miledy fights for Zephiel's half-sister Guinevere, who is on a different side of the conflict. Gale tells her that he cannot be with her, despite spending so much time together. He also tells Miledy's brother Zeiss that, no matter what, they must fight. What makes it worse is that Gale is considered dead even if you don't kill him.
    • Another The Binding Blade example is Brunnya, who is portrayed much like Selena would later be. Despite King Zephiel's death in the last chapter, she still carries out his orders, even if it means death. Even after being told that surrender is an option, she won't take it.
    • And again in The Binding Blade is the Etrurian Generals, especially Douglas, since he downright refuses to join you even if you talk to him with General Cecilia, General Percival, Vice-General Klein, AND his adopted daughter Lalam/his liege Prince Mildain (Elphin). He only joins you later when Etruria officially accepts your army, AKA when you defeat the chapter with Douglas still alive, allowing you access to 16x.
    • Vaida in Blazing Blade was a noble soldier and former Dragon General of Bern who was forced to desert along with her subordinate Heath, because her group attempted to prevent the murder of innocent civilians, which had been part of a plot by a Bernese general aiming for grandeur and promotion. She was recruited in the Shrine of Seals battle so as to keep loyal to her liege, Prince Zephiel. More specifically, she states that she serves Bern, and joins Eliwood's army because they saved the life of Prince Zephiel, who is the future ruler of her country. She embodies this trope perfectly whilst employing Loophole Abuse out of a sense of honour.
    • General Eagler from Lyn's Tale. Especially tragic case because, if Sain and Kent (and a civilian in a nearby house) are to be believed, he might have been forced to fight by having his family taken into custody by Lundgren.
    • Selena in Sacred Stones, who is portrayed entirely sympathetically but remains loyal to Emperor Vigarde to the very end.
    • And Glen, also from Sacred Stones, who might have pulled a Heel–Face Turn, had Valter not killed him.
    • Path of Radiance actually hangs a lampshade on this when Ashnard tells Bryce, the last of his Four Riders, that yes, he is a complete bastard (the specifics are technically spoilers, but everyone who played at least halfway through can probably figure them out). Bryce is appalled at what Ashnard says but is still loyal enough to go out to die, and Ashnard breaks out into a fit of laughter, mocking his notion of chivalry.
    • In the following game, Radiant Dawn, General Levail of Begnion can be seen in a similar situation as Bryce: he knows of how corrupt the Begnion Senate is (he was the commander of Vice-Minister Lekain's personal army) and wishes that it wasn't so, but he still fights you out of loyalty to Zelgius, AKA the Black Knight.
    • Zelgius himself may count. Zelgius is loyal to the Begnion Senate only because he's loyal to Sephiran, who wants him to help incite a war that will swallow the world, which is the same reason the Black Knight served Daein.
    • Micaiah fits this trope perfectly in Radiant Dawn. She is willing to side with the Begnion Senate in fighting the Laguz alliance - despite the fact that she just led the charge to free Daein from Begnion control, that her home country needs to rebuild, and that she harbors no resentment toward the laguz - all because Daein's spineless Prince Pelleas told her to. It turns out, Pelleas has to obey the Senate, as he was tricked into signing a blood pact - basically a contract that would kill the citizens of Daein is its owner wills it. She explicitly states that she would gladly Jump Off The Slippery Slope if that's what it takes to keep Daein safe (thankfully it never comes to that).
    • Radiant Dawn plays with this trope with Jill and Zihark most especially; averted in Path of Radiance, played straight at the beginning of Radiant Dawn, and then it depends on whether the player recruits them or not. It gets to the point where they're willing to betray their friends and principles just for their country, which is plainly in the wrong.
    • Fire Emblem Fates gives us Xander on both paths, who fights for Nohr despite the fact that he knows his father is an insane tyrant. The Player Character on the Nohr path is a Deconstruction, as you get to see first hand all of the shit a Camus Archetype has to go through when their morality and their loyalty to their country don't get along.
    • In Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes' Azure Gleam path, despite the Adrestian Empire taking a sharp turn for the worse under Duke Aegir, there are still a few Imperial generals (including Randolph, Monica, and Duke Gerth) who continue to fight for the Empire out of their personal loyalty to the real emperor.
  • Fallout:
    • While not a soldier in any way, the character Nathaniel Vargas from Fallout 3 believes all the Enclave (former Éminence grise of the U.S. federal government) propaganda he hears and seems averse to questioning the government in general if you talk to him about it. It can be entertaining to argue with him using examples from the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights; he'll eventually cut off the discussion for the explicit reason that you might convince him. Ultimately though, he may warn you, if still alive during The American Dream quest, to get away from the Enclave before they catch you, as he was taken captive by the Enclave and is in the Raven Rock base cells. His exact words: "They're not who they say they are... Get out while you can, before they get you too."
    • In Fallout: New Vegas, Veronica is loyal to the Brotherhood of Steel, despite believing that they will slowly die out if they don't change their isolationist and xenophobic ways. At the end of her personal quest, she'll either choose to stay with them or leave them, where she will see just how fanatical they can be when it comes to those with progressive thoughts. The current Elder, Nolan McNamara, has similar beliefs but is hindered by his fear of the NCR and an unwillingness to go against tradition and commit outright heresy.
    • Similarly, we have Craig Boone, a former NCR 1st Recon sniper. Despite his disagreement with certain actions, like the Bitter Springs massacre, he is still a strong supporter of them, and will outright refuse to come with you if you get on their bad side, though as long as you avoid doing so he has no problems with you siding with House or going Wild Card (though it helps that both of those involve opposing Caesar's Legion).
    • Rose of Sharon Cassidy or "Cass" has similar sentiments and provides the page quote. She's an NCR citizen and proud of it, but she realizes that the NCR is an overextended bureaucracy that just can't help the people of the Mojave in their current state, even if they do mean well. She prefers the Courier to side with the NCR for the game's central conflict but doesn't mind the Courier being the Wild Card, mostly out of loyalty to them (Though it's implied that she's secretly horrified at the Courier for defeating three armies at once).
  • Despite trying to invade half a dozen countries at once to expand its borders and avoid an economic crisis, Belka in Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War had corps of extremely loyal pilots proud of their own nation. In an interesting game concept, there are cutscenes of interviews of the Belkan pilots the player fought, depicting them as obviously likable men ten years after the war.
    • Probably helped by how Belka detonated 7 nuclear weapons on their own country late in the war. But the pilots explicitly state that they hold no animosity towards their enemies, during and after the war. It was just war, and it was just what they were trained to do. In fact, many of them revere Cipher, the player character, in a decidedly odd twist. One character even states that Cipher is comparable to the old orders of Belkan Knights, an honor that he doesn't even give himself.
    • And Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War provides a subversion in that one of the Belkan pilots (one of their top aces in fact) takes an opportunity to defect after said nuclear explosions.
    • Actually he defected prior to it, as he would have been one of the pilots tasked with carrying out the strike mission. Killing millions of your country's citizens, and thousands of soldiers from both sides, will make you question your boss, that's for sure.
    • Yellow Squadron and Strigon Team also have shades of this.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • This is why General Leo of Final Fantasy VI is a Worthy Opponent rather than on your side. Even when he turns on Kefka, he's just trying to remove a piece of rot from the good name of The Empire, resulting in an awesomely tragic Heroic BSoD when Kefka reveals that he's acting on the orders of the Emperor, and Leo's fate is sealed by his inherent goodness. Poor bastard.
    • In the beginning of Final Fantasy IV, Cecil (the main protagonist) is the same as Leo above. After a particularly horrible mission given by his king, he becomes The Atoner instead, kickstarting the plot.
    • Both Steiner and Beatrix are this during the first half of Final Fantasy IX. Beatrix's case is much like General Leo's above, while Steiner, being a main party character, is constantly attacked by the queen he's trying to serve. They both come to their senses as the story progresses.
  • General Morgahn in Guild Wars. He is shown from the beginning to be an honorable officer who is also a loyal subordinate and friend of Varesh Ossa (for instance, he defends the Warmarshal at the joint tribunal following the mission in which the player discovers conclusive evidence of Varesh's villainy), though, as the Nightfall campaign proceeds, he expresses increasing concerns and doubts about Varesh's actions and finally defects to the player's side after Varesh's Moral Event Horizon crossing - massacring the priests of his patron goddess, Lyssa.
  • Harpuia of Mega Man Zero is a good example. A good character (or neutral at worst) in a Lawful Evil government, he legitimately seeks to protect humans. Too bad the definition of Maverick has become distorted.
  • The Suikoden series does this a lot, essentially, in every game, in accordance with its shades of grey approach to war. In five proper games and several side games/spinoffs, there are less than a half dozen truly evil antagonists and more than a few instances of What the Hell, Hero? moments from your own side.
    • Teo McDohl from the first Suikoden. However, he sends his two right-hand men to fight for his son against his emperor.
      • A number of the generals are this until you beat some sense into them. Many of them still profess loyalty to the emperor even as they join you, but find themselves in opposition to the country's direction under Windy. Most of them rejoin the reformed government.
    • In II, Culgan and Seed.
    • Jowy loves his country and would rather reform it by taking out Luca Blight using Xanatos Speed Chess than see it ravaged by war thanks to the disjointed alliance that is the city states.
    • The Zexen Knights in III open the game as this as they, Chris in particular, are opposed to the Zexen council's motives. This leads to a bit of The Atoner with Chris (and Salome removes the corrupt councilmen).
    • Sasarai in III is this. He's not all that elated with seeking out the True Runes in the grasslands but follows through until the issue becomes much larger. Then he finds out that he is an Artificial Human cloned from the dear leader as a placeholder for a true rune. Despite this, he still goes back to his position once the war is over.
    • IV has Troy. Given the trend of the games to have these types of characters eventually come around in the end, many fans were disappointed in the lack of a Heel–Face Turn, given that he was one of the few interesting characters in the game.
    • In V, there is a distinct divide on the Queen's nights concerning the Godwin rule. While some of the knights are quick to align with the prince, some align with the Godwins, and another considers his duty to Queen and country rather than any faction.
  • General Forsythe in Advance Wars: Days of Ruin fights only for the glory of his country, treats commanding officers and soldiers in the New Rubinelle Army with honor and dignity, and refuses to use Caulder's doomsday weapons to take them out. In the one mission where you go toe-to-toe with Forsythe, he actually comes and gives you advice on how to beat him. His AI is not aggressive, as he usually tries to beat you by blocking factories and sending infantries straight to your HQ. When you do beat Forsythe, he surrenders without a fight, on the sole condition that his army is treated with dignity, and he takes all the blame that his comrades deserve. Honestly, considering that the player is fighting under Admiral Greyfield's banner, it could be argued that you're on the "bad" side at that point in the game.
    • In dialogue, it's implied that Greyfield was the aggressor, and explicitly stated that Forsythe was called out of retirement to defend Lazuria.
  • Can be utilized by both the antagonists and protagonists in Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen. A good amount of the enemy generals feel this way, and if you're enough of a dick or just plain unlucky (damn you tarots to hell!), yours begin to think this way as well. Except for Deneb.
  • Sam Carter from Deus Ex. He remains loyal to UNATCO even after it is revealed that the organization is just a front for Majestic Twelve. As he puts it, "We've got our share of crooked bureaucrats — fact — but this is still UNATCO, and by and large, the people in this building are twenty-four-carat gold." He does eventually join you against the Big Bad anyway, but only after UNATCO kicks him out because they don't think he's loyal enough (or rather, not blindly loyal and able to recognise UNATCO's faults, which is what they don't want).
  • This is the attitude of Baldus in Blaze Union. In the A route, he's the last general left defending the capital against Gulcasa's revolution, and (so long as you follow Nessiah's directions to the letter) is persuaded into a neat little Heel–Face Turn when Gulcasa points out that the revolution has Bronquia's best interests in mind. Having gotten to know Gulcasa earlier and thus being familiar with his struggles to protect the civilians, Baldus not only joins up enthusiastically but winds up developing a great deal of paternal affection for him after this.
  • In Warship Gunner 2, Admiral Amagi of the Imperial Japanese Navy initially aids the player character because Japan is an ally of your nation, but later becomes a recurring enemy when Japan aligns with The Empire. So does Captain Tsukuba if he doesn't become your adjutant.
  • Nords loyal to the remains of the Empire in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim display some of this: they're dealing with a civil war where the other side is led by a secessionist whose grievances against the Emprire are genuine in spite of his "Skyrim for the Nords!" beliefs and many will acknowledge that the Nords have got a raw deal from them - scores of them killed in a war the Empire lost to the Thalmor, worship of their favorite deity, Talos, outlawed as part of the peace treaty, and heavy taxation to pay the war debts wrecking the economy. But as the first Imperial loyalist you could befriend in the game states, Skyrim has always supported the Empire (Talos/Tiber Septim the first Emperor was a Nord) and "The Nords have never been fair-weather friends."
  • The Boss in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. She's so loyal beyond reasoning that it hurts. There are some other people in the franchise, but she's the one that stand out the most.
    • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker gives us even more backstory for her, and we find that for decades before her final sacrifice for her country, the government she served had been scapegoating her, manipulating her and treating her with enormous ingratitude, and that she allowed it - even encouraged it - because she was just that loyal. In fact, the only reason she got into the position to make the sacrifice possible in the first place is that other people constantly screwed up and wouldn't own up to their mistakes, and she allowed herself to take the fall for it all because that was the best thing for her country. Damn.
      • Also during Peace Walker it is revealed that she was suffering from brain damage, from a gunshot wound to the head, not to mention being heavily irradiated with space/cosmic radiation from the US's botched Mercury mission of sending the first person into space as it had no radiation shielding to protect her from its deadly exposure, and as the mission was done in secret, no one in the public eye knew that she was the first true person sent into space due to the mission being a failure in the making. This makes one question her actions.
  • Quite common in Star Wars: The Old Republic, especially among Imperial faction companions, but appearing on the Republic side too. You can role-play an Imperial player character as this; being fiercely loyal and placing high value on Imperial lives while being disdainful of Sith follies.
  • Jonathan's attitude towards the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado in Shin Megami Tensei IV. He rationalizes his actions as a Samurai as for the betterment of his country and optimistically believes the best of the current rulers while choosing to turn a blind eye to the social problems that threaten to destroy it.
  • Given the nature of Mass Effect with a group of characters from extremely diverse backgrounds cooperating together, this occurs somewhat frequently.
    • Tali is a rather notable example in that she was willing to do nearly anything for the Migrant Fleet, despite them frequently making stupid decisions that put her in stressful situations, such as when she's accused of treason. This is more evident in the third game after the Quarians declare war on the Geth: she sticks with and defends their opinions despite them putting their entire race in jeapardy and Tali offering a much simpler solution.
    • Toward the end of Mass Effect, Tali even notes that it'd be difficult for quarians to do what Shepard does (namely, steal the Normandy against orders for the greater good of every living thing) because they're raised with this mentality. Which is what can get them wiped out in 3, since they're unable to go against the General Ripper's orders.
  • World of Warcraft: General Nazgrim. Despite having adventured with the Player Character previously, and not believing in what Garrosh was doing, he says he is honor-bound to defend his warchief and fights you to the death. As he dies, he says It Has Been an Honor and tells you he is glad that you were the one to finish him.
  • Way of the Samurai 4: This is Hikaru Kotobuki's most defining character trait and his biggest flaw. He is a really well-meaning man, but his duty as a samurai forces him to follow orders to the letter. Even when his superior, the Big Bad Chief Minister Kinugawa, does very cruel things to his subjects, Kotobuki is unable to defy the man. He does find the guts to defy his superiors near the ending of the hidden path, as he can't stand by and watch how Incorruptible Pure Pureness Laura Rita gets slowly executed.
  • In Persona 5, one class lecture in Royal touches on this term and its actual meaning coined by Carl Schurz, as shown in the trope description, with Kawakami using it as an example of a misused termnote .
  • Starcraft II: Many members of the Terran Dominion feel this way when it comes to serving Emperor Mengsk. The trope itself is even referenced when playing Mengsk in Co-op mode. His basic unit in Co-op is the Dominion Trooper/Laborer and whenever a new one is made, one of lines they can say is "My Dominion, right or wrong".

    Web Comics 
  • When Vinnie Doombats from Erfworld is ordered to prepare a plan to betray and conquer the city he's serving as liason to - and whose ruler he is in love with - he does so with trepidation but no hesitation, and stands ready to carry it out if and when the order comes down. His side is his side, and his personal feelings don't enter into it.

    Web Original 
  • The Fire Never Dies:
    • This is basically the philosophy of the Texan Red Guard, which was largely formed from veterans of the Army of the Plains (which fought against the Reds) to push back against a series of raids by the Mexican general Plutarco Calles. They may not like the Revolution, but they'll still fight to defend America even if that means marching under the red flag. Unusually, this has them fighting alongside the protagonists.
      • Similarly, some elements of the US Pacific Fleet choose to return to the US and join the Red Navy rather than remain in exile.
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-516 is a Sapient Tank that usually will only fire on targets that present an actual threat to it (or that endanger innocents), carefully aiming its shots to avoid hurting people other than the target. However, if it encounters convicted traitors from its country of origin, it will fire on and kill them even if it harms or kills bystanders.

    Web Videos 
  • Decker: Decker is always willing to save America from danger even though he hates President Davidson's policies.

    Western Animation 
  • Beast Wars has a heroic example of this. Rattrap is quite the Combat Pragmatist, can be a Jerkass to his teammates, and is not above dirty tricks and schemes. There is nothing too dirty for him, as long as it benefits the Maximals (even joining the Predacons). He finds a bizarre friendship with Dinobot, who like Rattrap is loyal to Predacon ideals, but defects from Megatron's Predacons because he believes that they're not reflective of those ideals. Boiled down, Rattrap is "my country right or wrong" and Dinobot is "If the country is wrong, I must right it".
  • Crosses over with My Master, Right or Wrong in Beast Machines; the famed Vehicon generals Strika and Obsidian are loyal first, foremost, and always to Cybertron...which, by extension, also incorporates whoever is leading the planet at the time. When that leadership changes hands, so do they, and serve their new master faithfully, regardless of whether or not said master is morally good or if his/her goals are for the benefit of Cybertron. As far as they're concerned, as long as the ruling party is kept safe and their commands upheld, they are serving Cybertron. Their fellow Vehicon Thrust berated them over how stupid this philosophy was.
  • General Shiva from Exo Squad. Despite all the atrocities that Phaeton or the other generals, Draconis or Typhonus, commit, he stays loyal to the Neo Sapien regime since he is a soldier. It becomes a Tear Jerker when he dies in his final battle, which seemed to be used since he had outlived his usefulness to Phaeton, who was already phasing out the Neo Sapiens with the Neo Lords.
  • What seems to be going on (due largely to extremely intense propaganda starting in elementary education) with a large portion of the Fire Nation military in Avatar: The Last Airbender, since while they get a lot of use as Faceless Mooks and the pacifist kid heroes are killing them before the end of season one, we also get brief characterization. Jeong Jeong's band of deserters decided that the wrong was too wrong and scarpered, and Zuko eventually decides to operate the "to be set right" part. Iroh, significantly, appears to have decided this and then waited passively for five years for the right opportunity; before this, he seems to have been a poster child for this trope.
    • Book 3 of inverts this with Azula. She is surprisingly sisterly with her brother Zuko when he returns home with her and fiercely antagonistic towards him upon learning of his defection. If you're against the Fire Nation, hope you don't have to cross her.
  • Like his comic book counterpart, Captain Atom is this in Justice League Unlimited, bordering on Lawful Stupid levels. When the Question discovered information about Project Cadimus and was captured, General Eiling reinstated Atom's Air Force commission, at which point he was willing to unquestioningly fight Superman to stop the latter from rescuing the Question.


Video Example(s):


Ghale Gamilas

Due to the imperialistic attitude of Gamilas, Non-Gamilans are often looked down upon as Second-Class Citizens of their Empire. Despite the outlook of most individuals within the Imperial Navy, many Zaltzian officers are proud to serve the Empire to the best of their ability.

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Main / MyCountryRightOrWrong

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