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Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist

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Clank: There must be another way to make a home for your people!
Chairman Drek: You think that's what this is about? Who do you think polluted our last world? I did! This is about one thing and one thing only: cash, and lots of it. See, I've been paid for every square inch of my new world. Once the new inhabitants move in, I'll begin polluting this world as well, and the whole thing starts all over again. Ah... brilliant.

So you have someone who goes overboard. They may sack some villages, perform some unconstitutional actions, or they may be obtaining more emergency powers than necessary... But surely they have good intentions, right?

Unfortunately, pretty much every extremist claims to have good intentions. This trope is the Faux Affably Evil subversion of the Well-Intentioned Extremist, who is sincere, but does horrible things in the name of whatever it is they fight for and by default will have a good point to make.

This can come in three flavors:

May be prone to Motive Misidentification by the heroes. Contrast Believing Their Own Lies and Secretly Selfish, when they're unaware or in denial of how self serving their actions truly are.

No Real Life Examples, Please!


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Heavy Object had these three people from the Legitimacy Kingdom, the protagonists' faction:
    • Councilor Flide claimed that trying to get the male protagonists, Quenther and Havia, killed by an object and setting up the four super country alliance (including his own soldiers) to get wiped out in a trap was for the safety of his country, but in actuality, he wanted to protect his position and preserve the power balance decided by objects with no regards to the innocent lives lost.
    • Prizewell City Slicker claims to be preserving the Legitimacy Kingdom's official language, but he's really nothing more than a xenophobic hypocrite who sees nothing wrong with his own men dying, not to mention the fact he wants to reinstate slavery.
    • Flag Eggnog, the first prince of the Warta District, claimed his gaffes and wars were beneficial to the country, but Havia didn't buy it.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist
    • In the Brotherhood, Manga, and live-action) versions of the story, Shou Tucker and his family were in danger of being in poverty. His solution: turn first his wife and then his dog and daughter into pained chimeras, just for the sake of him being an alchemist, a job he's no good at and expected it to be acceptable; it's safe to say that by the time he does that to his dog and daughter, he has no good intentions. He's even worse in the live-action film where he doesn't bother to hide his ill intent anymore. In all versions, he tries to deliver a Not So Different speech to Ed (in between punches as Ed is beating the living hell out of him and yelling he's not like him), but the reality is that while Ed and Al performed Human Alchemy out of a misguided attempt to save someone they loved, Tucker did it because he couldn't bear the thought of losing a steady paycheck. It's no surprise Tucker ends up in hell for his actions, if the "In Memoriam" Omakes are anything to go by.
    • The 2003 anime has a short-lived example: The Big Bad attempts to justify all her abhorrent actions with being a Well-Intentioned Extremist keeping The Philosopher's Stone out of the hands of mortals, who would only abuse it and cause mass death with it. Ed immediately points out all the horrible abuses she has done with Philosopher's Stones over the years, not to mention she intentionally makes mortals seek out the Philosopher's Stone by driving them to desperation and leaving behind just enough hints for them to find out how to do it before swooping in and stealing the Stone.
  • Ajin: Sato, leader of the Ajin resistance, claims to be fighting for the freedom of his species, but in reality, he doesn't care about the Ajins' plight at all; he just wants to start a war with humanity for his own amusement. When the other members of the resistance discover this, all but one promptly deserts Sato in disgust.
  • Code Geass:
    • Emperor Charles starts a war of worldwide conquest and racial discrimination only to mask his true motives: gaining access to the Thought Elevators and eliminate all of the lies in the world via Assimilation Plot. Lelouch however points out that he has neglected his loved ones including himself by sending him and Nunnally to a nation only to wage war against it, and that the world he strives for would only be kind to him (and Marianne, who is in on it as well), and would result in the world being stuck in the past.
    • Schneizel el Britannia meanwhile reveals his final plan in the final arc when he reveals the Sword of Damocles, from where he will bring peace to the world under threat of nuclear annihilation. This one really skirts the thread between Well-Intentioned Extremist and this trope, since Schneizel doesn't have any personal desires, just a very, very warped view of morality.
  • Cross Ange: Embryo claims to be building a perfect world, but in doing so, he has destroyed worlds, and humanities that have failed him, in separate dimensions, and is about to do so once again, even as he faces resistance from remnants of the older Earth (which include the humanity that has mutated itself into dragon-like beings to survive, as well as the last of the humans who hitched a ride into the present earth), and the rejects of the current Earth, the Norma, all of who make their intent of saving whatever is left of their respective worlds very clear. And that's not even getting into his Attempted Rape of Ange, and his actual Mind Rape of Jill.
  • Date A Live: Isaac Ray Peram Westcott states that he wants to purge the world of mankind for being a cruel and failed race to create a new world where mages will rule in peace without wars, conflicts and fights with humans. Curiously, over the series, Westcott showed to be even more sinister and cruel by unleashing all kind of disgusting and brutal crimes that humans can evoke upon the world. Not to mention that Westcott is willing to use even the members of his own race as pawns just like he do to humans, manipulating and discarding them like garbage just like he always did. He also seems to be more focused in becoming an Inverse Spirit to give him powers of a God to rule the world and change the concept of life and creation according to his own image, thus ruling over reality like its new God after unleashing chaos and destruction to wipe out all humans. To achieve his goals, Westcott caused mayhem and misery to all major races of the series: from Spirits, Quasi-Spirits, Wizards, Irregulars, Humans, Inverse Spirits and even Mages. At the end, Westcott is not a saint who is fighting to save his own race but just a selfish bastard who thinks only in himself.
  • Death Note: Even before his Jumping Off the Slippery Slope, Light Yagami was out to become God of the New World just as much as he was out to rid the world of all crime, as proven when he defies No Place for Me There when Ryuk invokes it in favor of becoming the aforementioned God. As time goes on, fueling his God complex overrides everything else.
  • Digimon:
    • Digimon Frontier: Lucemon claims he's trying to make a utopia for all, but the heroes call him out, pointing out he's willing to destroy the Digital World because he doesn't have complete control over it. He "justifies" this by saying most can't control themselves anyway.
    • Digimon Savers: Akihiro Kurata lies about Digimon being threats to humans to justify him wanting to wipe them out.
  • Dragon Ball Super: All incarnations of Zamasu repeatedly claim that they're doing what's necessary to create a "beautiful utopia" by wiping out all mortal life in The Multiverse, believing mortals to be Always Chaotic Evil and gods are the only beings worthy of life. For all their claims of righteousness and being bringers of justice, they ultimately boil down to nothing but sadistic racial supremacists, showing utterly sick enjoyment out of their rampage. It becomes even clearer when Goku Black and Future Zamasu wipe out all of the other gods in Future Trunks' timeline, both to prevent them from interfering and so they'd be the "supreme gods," so it's crystal clear that they're only concerned about their vision of a utopia. Goku Black in particular comes off as especially hypocritical in that regard, since he used the Super Dragon Balls to pull off a Grand Theft Me on Goku, essentially giving up his godly body for that of a mortal, and then slaughtered the entire Son family purely out of spite for Goku defeating him in what was supposed to be a friendly sparring match.
  • Nobliss Gordon from Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans spouts high-minded rhetoric about why sacrifices are necessary for the success of his revolution. The truth is that a more peaceful negotiation of rights for the downtrodden masses of the solar system won't create enough chaos for him to make a quick buck off.
  • Naruto:
    • In the second Naruto film, Naruto the Movie: Legend of the Stone of Gelel, Haido claims he wants to use the titular stone's power to create a utopia, but this turned out to be lies to attract followers. His real goal was to use it to become too powerful to stop in a bid for world conquest.
    • From the main series, Danzo Shimura is an interesting case. He wants what's best for the Leaf Village... so long as it ends up with him being in charge of everything. His backstory reveal also implied that the primary motivation for his actions and deeds was a sense of inferiority and jealousy towards Hiruzen Sarutobi rather than pragmatism and patriotism like he was first portrayed as. He straddles the line between this and a proper Well-Intentioned Extremist, because while he does have the strong convictions of a Well-Intentioned Extremist, said convictions are built on the core of a frustrated man that could never get over the fact that he didn't measure up to his more popular friend in the eyes of the public, taking the extreme measures he did because his rival wouldn't, to show he wasn't 'soft' like Sarutobi Hiruzen, never mind the fact that in his prime, the Third Hokage was considered one of the most powerful ninja in the world, and had no qualms about sending genin aged Child Soldiers during the Third Ninja war, as shown in Kakashi Gaiden.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The cause of the story’s conflict is an alien Hive Mind in the form of the Incubators who manipulate and destroy humans, especially young girls, in order to harvest the energy of their negative emotions and use it to prevent the end of the universe. Sounds like a Cold Equation of The Needs of the Many? Well, it would be if they weren't willing to sacrifice every other living thing in the universe to do so, effectively leaving themselves as the sole beneficiaries of all their actions. And because they're a Hive Mind, their whole argument boils down to "I am many, so my needs comes before everyone else's." Then in Rebellion, they try to rewrite reality once again to make all this suffering exist once more, not because of any true necessity for the survival of the universe, but merely because they see wasted potential in the energy that is used. In other words, they are like mass-producers who only care about numbers as ends to themselves and are immensely greedy and impossible to satisfy. Unsurprising considering the complete of Lack of Empathy and lack of value towards any life other their own, which if one looks between the lines was the reason for their actions to begin with. They had cosmic powers and they could have chosen on their own to make someone wish about a better reality and yet they never looked into it, never really cared about alternate solutions.
  • Mr. Heartland in Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL goes so far as to quote the Bernard of Clairvaux's quote (given on the page for Well-Intentioned Extremist) nearly word-for-word before his duel with Kaito in the second season (cut from the dub); however, given his actions, it's very hard to believe he has any intentions for what he does - committing acts of genocide against the Astral World in the service of the Big Bad - except greed.
  • Kazuo Tengan in Dangan Ronpa 3 wants to spread hope throughout the world... however he's lost belief in hope and as a result he breaks Mitarai in order to get him to brainwash the entire world.
  • Rosario + Vampire: Fairy Tale repeatedly claim that they want to make a world for monster equality and that Humans Are the Real Monsters, but it's clear from their willingness to oppress and kill their fellow monsters that they only want equality and power for themselves.
    • Kuyou constantly goes on about how everything he does is for the sake of justice and that Humans Are the Real Monsters, but it falls flat considering that he abused his authority as the head of the Security Committee to make everyone else at Yokai Academy miserable, and the fact that he barely needs any provocation to burn someone alive, human or monster. Fittingly, in Season II of the manga, it turns out that he was a member of Fairy Tale all along.
  • The Anti-Spiral from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann aim to prevent the end of the universe, but their means to achieve this are so tyrannical and restrictive that they pretty much ensure absolutely no one benefits but themselves.
  • Sword Art Online: Quinella, the Big Bad of the Alicization arc, claims that her turning the people of UW (including her Knights) into sword golems was for their own safety, but it's made clear that she's nothing but a narcissistic Control Freak who's no better than any of the other psychotic villains Kirito has faced, such as Sugou Nobuyuki or the Laughing Coffin guild.
  • Strider: Vice-Director Matic tried to force Hiryu to kill his friend Cain with the threat of killing innocent civilians if he refused. Supposedly this was for the good of the Striders, while at the same time Matic was in league with Enterprise, the creator of the ZAIN Project. As it turns out however, Matic planned for the death of Enterprise President Clay at Hiryu's hands so he can take over the ZAIN Project, while also intending to to keep his grip on the Striders so he can set his plans for global domination in motion. It's also implied he had a hand in the brainwashing of Hiryu's late sister Mariya and Hiryu's friend Cain, both of them being Striders themselves.

    Comic Books 
  • Aquaman's Arch-Enemy Black Manta claimed in the 1970s that he was antagonizing him in order to give black people a place to be free of prejudice in Atlantis, when in reality he was only doing it to serve himself.
  • Dungeon: The Early Years: Chambon convinces the wizard population that the city should be under their control because they are the most fit to rule (if you can't turn kings into philosophers, then make philosophers kings). However the professor Chambon is just a power hungry despot who impregnated multiple women from all the spheres both for his own pleasure and so he can use the children to massacre their parents and use the chaos to take over; one of the parent is also his most idealistic follower. He also has no problem leaving his followers get massacred while he tries escaping.
  • Ultron thinks he's doing the planet Earth a favor by Killing all humans as he believes they would eventually destroy the world. In reality, he's motivated by his oedipical hatred for his creator and can't fathom to seek a compromise.
  • Cinder of Deathstroke's knockoff Titans was a serial killer who targeted sex offenders and child molesters. At first glance her motives appeared to be justified anger and compassion stemming from her own sexual abuse at the hands of her uncle, until it became increasingly clear she was only bloodthirsty and looking for something to do with her time since she can't kill herself.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In the The Legend of Zelda fanfic Wisdom and Courage, part of the Bound Destinies Trilogy, Veran repeatedly claims that she does what she's doing to avenge her fallen ancestors and get her people to see the error of their ways, but it falls flat because she commits random acts of violence and mass murder for no other reason than to acquire power for herself and her own sadistic amusement. Zelda even calls her out on it during the final showdown, stating outright that it's clear that all Veran truly wants is to satisfy her own bloodlust.
  • Shadow of the Dragon: The entire reason that Meiling's grandfather is staging attacks on Sakura is because he wants Meiling's engagement with Syaoran to be reinstated. However, while he claims he's doing it for Meiling's happiness, Sakura and Syaoran are able to piece together rather quickly that he's only doing it because he wants to "correct" his failings to the Li clan and produce a purer heir by having magic-wielding great-grandchildren; Fanren even states outright in chapter 18 that he's only doing it for himself. In any event, the fact that his plans have repeatedly caused collateral damage and endangered innocent lives prevents him from being sympathetic.
  • Kingdom Hearts 3: Final Stand: The Insurgos are firmly convinced that the royal family of Radiant Garden are all irredeemably evil purely because they're related to the tyrannical Hanako, and want to overthrow them. However, their methods are openly brutal, and they have no qualms against killing or attempting to kill innocent bystanders, including pregnant women, to get their way; in Moons of Fate, Yamato even tells them point-blank that they're nothing but terrorists whose actions are more about spiting Hanako than anything else.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel fic Bring Me To Life, Buffy and Angel both call Jasmine out as one of these, pointing out all the chaos she's caused under the excuse of trying to save the world; Buffy even tells her point-blank that she was trying to rule the world, not save it, and didn't care who she killed or whose lives she ruined along the way.

    Films — Animation 
  • Antz: General Mandible insists that his actions are for the good of the colony. Those actions involved drowning the queen and everyone loyal to her so that he can start a new colony of soldiers loyal only to him. When Colonel Cutter calls him out on this, Mandible insists "I AM the colony!!"
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Frollo claims that he wants to purge the world of vice and sin. However, his real motive seems to be A] genocide against all those that he considers as living outside the natural order of things (aka his order) and are therefore sinful and B] having sex with Esmeralda.
  • In How to Train Your Dragon 2, Drago Bludvist claims that he wants to create a world where people no longer have to fear dragons. Hiccup calls him out on this as an excuse to simply control everyone. Drago admits it too.
  • Incredibles 2: The Screenslaver's true plan. Or rather, Evelyn's plan, as Screenslaver was a pizza guy she hypnotized into acting a villain. She claims her plan is to make Supers illegal permanently, as her father's Holding Out for a Hero got him killed by home invaders and her mother died from heartbreak soon after, seeing that Supers only cause more harm than prevent. However, her plan has endangered innocent people, including the pizza guy she framed. Also, she doesn't even suggest how to prevent crises without Supers, meaning all it turns out to be is just Misplaced Retribution.
  • Zootopia: During her We Can Rule Together speech to Judy, Bellwether, the Big Bad, tries to pass herself off as a Well-Intentioned Extremist, believing that all predators are just strong and loud but because prey is 90% of the population, they can unite against a common enemy and come out on top. However, as Judy is facing seemingly certain death from a savage Nick, she cuts to the chase, asking "So That's it? Prey fears Predator and you stay in power?" To which Bellwether replies "Yeah, pretty much."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars:
    • Emperor Palpatine obtains emergency powers for the purpose of bringing peace to the galaxy...but his real motive was to create a fascist dystopia that would cater to his every whim.
    • Grand Moff Tarkin likes to portray himself as a man willing to go to great lengths to maintain law and order in The Empire, but it's clear from his actions that he's an ambitious warmonger who's trying to climb as high on the Imperial ladder as possible. He takes credit for other Imperial's accomplishments, like the Death Star's completion, and really, how can you justify blowing up a highly populated planet just because some of their leaders have been covertly helping the rebels?
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane claims to be a champion of the common man, and that he's tearing down Gotham's social structure to empower the poor. As it turns out, he's really motivated by a personal grudge against Bruce Wayne, and his ultimate goal is to kill everyone in Gotham with a nuclear weapon. Somewhat zig-zagged in that he truly does believe in the utopian, Messianic goals of the League of Shadows and their founder, Ra's al-Ghul. That includes sharing Ra's opinion that Gotham is a center of corruption that must be absolutely destroyed for the betterment of mankind and the world at large, right down to referring to himself as Necessary Evil in a response to Batman. It's just that those methods put him as a *haaard* Knight Templar at best.
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction: Harold Attinger and his faction, Cemetery Wind, state that they wish to destroy all Transformers to protect the Earth. It's clear they, including Attinger and his right hand man Savoy, are just hateful practitioners of Fantastic Racism who are willing to let the very innocent people they supposedly want to protect die and commit high treason against their own country to create their own man-made Transformers for Greed. They're even working with a Transformer to complete their own goals, even trying to destroy a city and cover their tracks. Attinger's With Us or Against Us rant only solidified him as a Hypocrite.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The Avengers: Loki claims that humans must be enslaved in order to bring peace to them and starts an Alien Invasion to build his empire on Earth. Keyword is his because that's what it is all about, getting consolation for not ruling Asgard. He alludes to himself as a boot that is going to crush the ants, so their welfare is not among his priorities. In an extended scene he also says to the Other that he is going to rule mankind "unmercifully."
    • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Zola and Alexander Pierce try to paint the new HYDRA as peacekeepers who have severed their original Nazi roots and essentially have the same values as S.H.I.E.L.D., but are willing to go one step further to ensure peace and order. It's severely undermined by the fact that their primary targets are threats to their own political power (even the current president of the United States), and not (as Pierce tries to claim) people who are mathematically likely to become a general threat. Also, a shot during the Helicarrier targeting sequence reveals they're targeting families with giant cannons that will no doubt cause collateral damage.
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron: Ultron starts out with the overall goal of creating an everlasting peace on Earth, since that's the purpose he was designed for by Tony Stark. He reasons that the Avengers themselves are one of the primary threats to that peace and thus resolves to destroy them so he can carry out his Zeroth Law Rebellion without interference. However, by the end he deems humanity as a whole to be worthy of extermination and attempts to engineer an extinction-level event.
    • Black Panther: Erik Stevens/Killmonger claims that he wants to liberate black people everywhere. However this statement is proven hollow by his actions, including how he treats other black people himself, how he is willing to commit genocide against the other races and ultimately how he harms Wakanda itself and mistreats its culture, it seems he's more interested in venting his pain and suffering unto other people.
    • Avengers: Infinity War: Thanos claims that he wants to exterminate half of life in the universe to save the other half from extinction. In truth (as confirmed by Joe Russo in the DVD Commentary), he is just trying to prove himself right after his species rejected the solution he proposed many years ago and force it on the universe at large. Therefore, he ignores any other options, such as doubling the resources, and kills three quarters of some species instead of a half.note 
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Lex Luthor uses the already existing fears of Superman as a threat to the world (and his ego), but this immediately leads him down the slippery slope of killing massive numbers of innocent people, committing treason to his government, and signaling an alien entity that has the capacity to eventually conquer the Earth. When it comes down to it, everything he does throughout the film is because he hates Superman just for existing.
  • Rampage: Bill initially claims that he wants to help the world by fighting overpopulation, but the fact that his motive keeps changing film to film and his sheer cruelty, sadism and pettiness he displays shows that he isn't doing what he does for any reason other than because he enjoys it.
  • In The Purge, The New Founding Fathers Of America legalize crime once a year allegedly to help decrease crime rates, reduce unemployment, and prevent overpopulation. In truth, they lie about the effectiveness of the purge, and their true platform is simply elitist sadism, sending squads to kill poor people For the Evulz, and anyone who runs against them in office.
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: While he claims to be fighting for the sake of his ape brethren by slaughtering the humans holed up in San Francisco, it's made painfully clear by the end that Koba cares nothing for his fellow apes and is fueled only by his selfish, psychotic bigotry which is made apparent by not only him slaughtering and imprisoning many of his fellow apes for disagreeing with his methods, but also him setting fires in the ape colony and framing the humans for it. In Caesar's own words, "Koba fight for Koba".
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: Apocalypse believes that culling the world every so often is necessary, using humanity's atrocities as evidence of why his absence was not in Earth's best interests. However, this is shown to be at best a shallow excuse, given the much greater atrocities he is going to unleash, and is ultimately more about elevating himself back to godhood.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Lord Cutler Beckett, the Big Bad of the original trilogy. On the surface, the idea of ridding the seas of piracy would be a noble goal. Unfortunately, despite Beckett's utmost loathing for pirates, he isn't trying to wipe them out to help others out of the goodness of his heart. He's doing it because they are chaotic factors that interrupt the otherwise smooth flow of his business. To further his own political and financial gain, Beckett even resorts to sending hundreds of innocent people—those who've been given no trial and may only be guilty of associating with someone convicted of piracy, including children—to their deaths in mass executions.
  • The Island: Dr Merrick claims that the reason he kills the sentient clones on the island so that can be used for organ donations and giving birth is to help the world cure various disease and advance the field of science. In reality though he's motivated by a raging God Complex and is drunk on his own power and intellect viewing himself as a twisted messiah. Best exemplified by the fact that the clones he cuts up for their organs aren't even supposed to be sentient, the rest of the world believes them to be braindead because Merrick lied about them being sentient which is why they permit them being used as organ donors in the first place.
  • Star Trek: Nero claims that his goal is to make a Romulan empire free from the Federation, when it gets clear he's only interested in destroying everyone he blames for the eventual destruction of his world and the death of his wife from his timeline. He also never makes contact with the current Romulans despite knowing information that could save their planet from destruction in the future, once again showing he values revenge more than his race.

    Literature 
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Umbridge tries to come off as committing her horrible deeds from a sense of loyalty to Fudge and as protecting the British Wizarding community from Dumbledore and Harry's self-serving lies when she is just doing whatever she can to grab power for herself and cheerfully serves in the Voldemort controlled Ministry in Deathly Hallows.
  • The Amy Virus: At first, Cyan's father seems like he genuinely believes that the Good Brain Diet is helping Cyan. He even points out that autistic people are less likely to be hired for jobs. However, as the story goes on, especially after it's revealed that Cyan's parents know that the Good Brain Diet is a total quack, it becomes clear that Cyan's father doesn't want her officially diagnosed with autism because he wants complete control over her life.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
    • Garrett vaguely mentions HYDRA's aims but it quickly becomes clear he joined HYDRA purely for his own selfish goals.
    • Hive claims to want to unite the world by transforming them into Inhumans it can "sway", and refuses to harm Inhumans. Essentially his plan is to remove The Evils of Free Will, though the people swayed retain some free will (their personalities are unchanged and one of the first things an infected Daisy does is to correct Hive when it uses her old name), plus everyone will have superpowers. Then the doctor it has working to create Inhumans transforms a test group into feral subhumans — but because Hive can control them, it declares this a success and refuses to let the doctor refine the process. It also tries to drain Daisy fatally to expedite the process of making more, demonstrating that world domination is its only real priority.
  • Angel:
    • In the episode "Sanctuary," Buffy chases Faith down to L.A. after her recent antics in Sunnydale, during which Faith used a device to switch bodies with Buffy and used it to her advantage to sleep with Buffy's new boyfriend Riley... only to come into conflict with Angel, who's firmly convinced that Faith can be rehabilitated. At the end of the episode, when Faith turns herself in to the LAPD, Buffy insists to Angel that she came to help him because he was in danger (Faith had previously been hired by Wolfram & Hart to assassinate Angel), but Angel doesn't buy it for a second, pointing out he's in danger every day, and knows she was just using that as an excuse to come to L.A. for vengeance on Faith; Buffy doesn't deny it and states outright she's entitled to revenge.
    • Jasmine, the Big Bad of Season 4, comes across as one of these. She claims to want to save the world, but her methods of doing so are very brutal; along the way, she killed several thousand innocents, conjured a rain of fire over LA, and unleashed Angelus once again. Not only that, but her idea of a perfect world is an Assimilation Plot that completely removes free will and makes everyone on Earth mindless drones who worship her endlessly. When Angel thwarts her plans, she decides that if she can't rule the world, she's going to destroy it.
  • Princess Catarina of Artena in Deus Salve O Rei claims to have her kingdom's safety in mind when plotting and backstabbing people, but deep down, she wants to fulfill her ambitions of power to the point she engineers a war with a neighborhood which results in Artena destroyed, just so that she can come out on top.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Rassilion seemed to want to end the Time War but his actions show he simply wanted immortality and power, no matter the cost. Over the course of the Time War between Time Lords and Daleks, Rassilon opted for a final solution: to wipe out all of space and time so the Time Lords would remain as pure consciousness, yoked to his will because he didn't see any other way to end it, even killing any of his minions who wanted to intervene just to preserve his power, not caring about the cost.
    • Davros claims that he's doing a service to the Kaleds by replacing them or transforming them into the Daleks, and believes that their Omnicidal Maniac tendencies will bring a end to war. In reality he's motivated by a god complex and cannot fathom an actual peaceful solution.
  • The Flash (2014):
    • During the two episodes in season 3 regarding Gorilla City, Grodd lures Team Flash to Gorilla City only for them to be captured and imprisoned with an impending death sentence on their heads. Grodd justifies himself by saying that he got Barry and friends purposefully imprisoned so he could get them to kill his hated superior Solovar, who according to Grodd is planning on invading Central City and laying waste to it out of paranoia, with his reason for helping being that he doesn't want to see his true home be destroyed. But as Barry soon finds out for himself, Grodd is a liar. He is the one who wants to invade Central City, and by manipulating the Flash into fighting Solovar, he spreads fear and distrust among the apes and gets to usurp control from Solovar. After revealing his deception, Grodd goes on to try to nuke Central City, and when that fails leads an army of gorillas to assault the city, purely out of hatred and spite towards the humans living there.
    • Season 4's Big Bad, The Thinker, set out to cause "the enlightening". At first it seemed he had noble intentions despite what it amounted to, causing all humans minds to effectively restart, wiping away intelligence, emotion and even free will. His aim to help humanity move away from distractions like technology to achieve it's intellectual potential. However, as his plans succeed, he continues to grow drunk with power and leaves a trail of innocent people dead in his wake. Before the season ends, it turns out he's abandoned this goal a long time ago and is now aiming for world domination, wanting to remake the world with him in power as the only intelligent mind.
  • Scorpius in Farscape may well be one of these. There are arguments on either side as to whether he genuinely believes that he has to save the rest of the galaxy from the Scarrans, or whether he's seeking selfish vengeance on them and doesn't give a crap about anyone else. Wayne Pygram, the actor, definitely thinks the latter.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider: Skyrider: The Great Leader of Neo-Shocker claims that Neo-Shocker's goal is simply to cut the human population by 1/3rd to prevent the planets resources from being over-used and save humanity from eventual extinction. However, when confronted by the Riders, he tries to wipe out all of the Earth's oxygen which would wipe out all life on earth, including all of humanity, just to spite the Riders showing ultimately his claims of good intentions are false.
    • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Masamune Dan claims that, at first, all he wants to do is help balance Kamen Rider Chronicle and save the lost players within the game, even going as far to seize the ultimate power of the game, which is needed to clear it, to give himself an edge as he interferes. Later on though, it's revealed that this isn't his intention at all; his true plan is to market the game worldwide to goad everyone in the world to play it, die in battle, and be transferred into data he may control and possibly never let go. Indeed, when he has no chance of worldwide distribution of the game, he simply decides to cause human genocide by infecting everyone on earth to turn them into data.
  • The British Men of Letters from Supernatural. Their original purpose was to simply research the paranormal and pass that knowledge on to hunters who would kill any threats to humanity. After the American chapter was wiped out by demons, the British Men of Letters was determined to avoid the same fate. So they made a deal with the King of Hell that he could make demon deals for souls as long as demons never attacked the island and they began killing all monsters whether they were harming humans or not. 50 years later they got tired of watching the American hunters, who by now had never even heard of the Men of Letters, flounder on their own, so the British Men of Letters invaded, tried to force their system on the entire US hunter network, and when it was forcefully rebuked as far too brutal, they decide to eliminate the American hunters. Over the year the British chapter was in the US, they murdered as many, if not more, humans than the monsters, including murdering the very hunters they were meant to help!
  • G-Saviour: General Garneaux tried to forcibly procure a serum, supposedly to help with a food crisis. But in reality, he wanted to destroy it in order to implement a policy of selective starvation, all in the name of power.

    Video Games 
  • Asura's Wrath: Chakravartin claims to have destroyed and remade the world to find a suitable heir to be a god so he could find new worlds for him to spread his guidance. Asura calls him out as nothing more than The Sociopath who cared more about his god complex than actually helping anyone else.
  • BioShock:
    • Atlas in the first game. At first, he seems to be a swell guy who initially rose up against the cruel tyranny of Andrew Ryan in Rapture, but many of the audiologs found throughout the game show that Atlas ultimately wasn't that much better than Ryan himself, with him kicking off his revolution by suicide bombing a public restaurant. This is fully cemented when it's revealed that he's actually Frank Fontaine with a different face and name, who simply used his widespread support from the poor so he could take over the city and eventually market ADAM to the surface - which would likely turn the whole world into the exact same chaotic hellscape that Rapture is right now.
    • Bioshock Infinite: Father Zachery Hale Comstock of Columbia literally looks down upon the world and thinks he can eradicate civilization and rebuild it from a floating city with access to infinite resources and wisdom from alternate universes as a utopian society. In reality though, he's a massive racist who wishes to restore the caste system, invade other parallel Earths to continue the murder-spree forever, and refuses to accept the horror of his actions.
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, there is Hugh Darrow, who is credited as the "father of augmentation". However, near the end of the game, he activates a "switch" that causes all mechanically-augmented individuals to go insane. Since there are hundreds of thousands of augmented people, this is utter chaos. He claims to have done it in order to shock humanity into banning augmentation outright, both out of remorse for essentially playing God and for engineering the Illuminati's path to world domination. But if your persuasion skills are good enough you can get him to admit that he did it out of petty jealousy: ironically, his body rejects all but the simplest augmentations, so he has come to resent other people because they can use his inventions while he cannot and is taking out his jealousy on everyone else.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Nergal from Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade is revealed to be this should you get all of the extra side chapters in Hector's story. He started out as an actual Well-Intentioned Extremist, wanting to get more power so he could rescue his wife and then reunite with his kids. Unfortunately, The Dark Side Will Make You Forget kicked in big time, and Nergal eventually decided that the reason he wanted power must've been because he actually wanted to use dragons to take over the world.
    • Gangrel from Fire Emblem Awakening acts like he loves Plegia and wants to fight for their interests, but all he really wants is power and to start a war with Ylisse just because he can. Supports in Spot Pass reveal that he was actually a Well-Intentioned Extremist who was conquering places in order to strengthen the country against Walhart, but the power went to his head and caused Motive Decay.
    • Desaix, from Fire Emblem Gaiden and its 3DS remake, Shadows of Valentia, killed the King because he certainly thought he could be a better King for Zofia and guide the nation to a better state, considering Lima IV to be a hedonistic and poor ruler spoiled with the blessings of Mila, and considering Mila herself to no longer be worthy of being worshiped, as she had grown slothful and uncaring (he even refers to her as a "monster"). However, he comes off as just being a power-hungry and murderous man driven by personal ambition rather than the good of Zofia despite the situation, not exactly doing a better job at "being King" than Lima IV was.
  • Freedom Planet: Lord Brevon's after the Kingdom Stone to save his world and will do whatever it takes to get it, but Torque throws this right back in his face by pointing out that the suffering he's caused to other worlds is the reason his planet is in danger in the first place. Brevon doesn't deny this.
  • God of War Series: In the past, Kratos was a warmongering, bloodthirsty Spartan who led his soldiers on conquest after conquest. When his wife Lysandra called him out on it, Kratos declared that he was going it for the glory of Sparta; Lysandra was not convinced and knew that he only did it for his own personal glory.
  • Grand Theft Auto:
    • Officer Frank Tenpenny in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a brutal corrupt cop who believes he does whatever its necessary to fight gang violence. In reality, he is nothing more than a self-serving criminal who builds his empire using street gangs as his pawns and becomes hated enough by the public that riots break out all over Los Santos when he is acquitted on trial of his crimes (due to all witnesses being silenced by CJ's actions).
    • Deputy Police Commissioner Francis McReary in Grand Theft Auto IV is deluded about his "good intentions" since he rants about corruption, drugs and gangs ruining Liberty City, he is noted by his criminal brother Packie to be just as crooked as him and their other brothers, perhaps even more so. Though he justifies his actions by working towards a greater good, all missions he gives out to Niko are to get rid of people that could expose his corrupt activity as a dealer/pimp, claiming that police procedure would take too long, but it's clear he did it to silence him since said criminal had dirt on McReary.
    • Steve Haines in Grand Theft Auto V is an FIB agent who is supposed to fight against terrorist threats and boasts that he serves America's greater good. Ultimately, he serves himself first and foremost - when discovering that the IAA is planning to stage a terrorist attack to increase their funding, he is more concerned about the rival agency getting funding over the FIB more than the citizens' safety. He also has a sadistic streak, such as when he needlessly tortures an innocent man willing to cooperate for no reason but to amuse himself.
  • Infamous Second Son: It's revealed at the end of the game that Brooke Augustine set up the D.U.P. and captures Conduits because she believes that humanity will never accept Conduits and imprisoning them is the only way to keep them safe from those that would try to kill them. Of course, she's prevented from being actually sympathetic by her blatant sadism, and the inhumane experiments on and treatment of the Conduits she has imprisoned.
  • Jak II: Renegade: Baron Praxis claims his tyrannical rule is necessary to protect Haven City against the Metal Heads, but in reality, all he cares about is staying in power, and it turns out he's been bribing them into attacking the city to justify his rule. Even his ultimate plan to backstab them is because the deal's about to fall apart.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Master Xehanort once believed that the universe was too full of light and believed a balance between light and darkness was the way for a perfect world to exist. His solution — begin a Keyblade War to engulf the worlds in darkness, and when he wins and claims the power of Kingdom Hearts, he can remake it in his image of balance. However, he's since become Drunk on the Dark Side, and his only goal these days is power and knowledge for the sake of having them. Dream Drop Distance sums it up best: When he's finally called out on his actions against Terra, Aqua, Ven, etc., does he make an I Did What I Had to Do speech about them? No, he just casually invokes But for Me, It Was Tuesday and claims Because Destiny Says So as a justification for ruining their lives.
  • Metal Gear: The Patriots. They claim that they act in the best interests of humanity, but given their blatant disregard for human life they display in a needlessly dangerous and expensive plan which only served to test their ability to manipulate human beings, which included likely deliberately leaving the hostages on Big Shell to die since it was made without lifeboats, they seem far more interested in maintaining their own control over anything else. In addition, they later establish the war economy, resulting in countless soldiers dying and the public being groomed into promoting and continuing an endless cycle of wars.
  • Metroid: In the manga, Mother Brain explains that her true goal is to bring order into the galaxy. However, she emphasizes that she will lead the new age of prosperity, proclaiming that she was born to be "the true master of the universe," and regards living species to be inferior to auto-machines (aka herself). It becomes clear that her vision of order for the universe is one of tyranny with her on the very top.
  • Enoch, the guardian of the third zone from Off. When you meet him, he claims that his zone is a fortress of "happiness, a wall against the spectres" and that all he's done, he's done for the good of his people. While Enoch started out as a genuinely good man, by the time you find him, it's blatantly clear that what he's saying is bullshit, as he's creating a substance made from burned bodies and feeding it to his workers, and they are so dependent on it as a drug they go mad and berserk without it. He also posts signs advertising that the very hostile spectres are nice and friendly, deliberately making it easier for his workers to get killed to supply more bodies to make the substance. So he puts up a facade of Well Intentioned Extremist, but he isn't one.
  • Persona 5: Masayoshi Shido constantly claims that he wants to lead Japan into a new age of prosperity, but in reality, he just wants power for the sake of power, and goes out of his way to ruin other people's lives purely because they insulted him or gave him minor injuries. To drive the point home, his Palace is a cruise ship sailing over a sinking country, showing how his deepest desire is to stay afloat even if the entire nation around him is sinking.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies: Aristotle Means claims to fight the corruption you have to use corrupt means yourself, however, it's later revealed framed he Juniper for the murder of Courte, who discovered Artistotle accepting bribes from O'Conner's parents, what's more Aristotle actually says the dark age of the law was beautiful and not to be fought at all, Athena is quick to chew him out on it.
  • Upon derailing his plan in Pokémon Black and White, Ghetsis reveals himself as Team Plasma's true mastermind and that their stated goal of freeing Pokémon was a lie and his real plan was to take over the region by being the only faction left with Pokémon. By the sequel, Team Plasma has split into those who sincerely want to help Pokémon, and those following Ghetsis to Take Over the World and not bothering to hide their ill-intent anymore.
  • Blackwatch in [PROTOTYPE 2] are this in what's more or less a parody of their Well-Intentioned Extremist portrayal in the original game (and Necessary Evil organizations in general). Sure, maybe it's necessary to have an army of Sociopathic Soldier willing to shoot children and generally slaughter screaming civilians in order to stop the Zombie Apocalypse, but when you drop them in a major population center you'll find that the average trooper didn't sign up to protect anybody.
  • Chairman Drek from Ratchet & Clank (2002) is destroying planets and taking pieces of them to make a new world for his species, the Blarg, since their old planet, Orxon, is too polluted to live on. He's the one who polluted it, and is making this new planet because he's getting money for it. And once everyone's moved in, he'll repeat the process for more cash. Subverted in the remake, where his plan really is just to find a new world for him and his people.
  • Resident Evil:
    • Resident Evil 5: Wesker claims during the climax of the game that his releasing Uroboros across the world and kick-starting a biological apocalypse will save the world, since humans come closer to self-destruction every day anyway, but it's obvious to anyone who's paying attention that he's nothing but a crazy Social Darwinist who's actions are centered around fueling his raging god complex.
    • Resident Evil 6: Simmons' primary motivation for having the President zombified is to prevent the social unrest and mayhem that he believes would be the inevitable result of revealing the U.S. government's involvement in the Raccoon City incident. However, Simmons is prevented from becoming sympathetic by his lust for Ada Wong. Not only do Simmons's actions in pursuit of his lust squick out several other characters (most notably Ada herself and her Love Interest Leon Kennedy, whose disgusted reactions will most likely be shared by the player), they are also the direct cause for Carla Radames's Start of Darkness, and therefore, pretty much every bad thing that happened over the course of the game. Furthermore, in the process of preventing said information from becoming public, he infects and kills over 70,000 innocent people with the C-Virus; Helena even calls him out on it, pointing out that he caused an actual disaster to prevent a possible one.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006): Mephiles sent Blaze & Silver to the past, not to help them stop Iblis from destroying the world by killing Sonic but to use Silver to break Iblis's seal so that Mephiles and Iblis can reform into Solaris and consume all the time in existence.
  • The Legend of Zelda:

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Although Adam is one of the three leaders who led the coup that sent the peaceful White Fang down a terrorist path, Blake originally believes he shares her idealism for a world where humans and faunus are equal and peaceful. Even after she abandons him in the Black Trailer for not caring if humans die during their train heist, she still assumes he's just gone too far in pursuit of a noble goal. When they confront each other at the end of Volume 3, Blake understands for the first time that Adam never shared her future vision, which he believes impossible, and instead wants to destroy humanity - starting with everyone and everything Blake loves as punishment for abandoning him. Volume 5 shows that his actual intention is to use the White Fang to rule the world and have humanity serve the Faunus with him as the new world leader.
  • Season 15 of Red vs. Blue gives us the season's Big Bad Mark Temple, leader of the Blues and Reds. After his Freudian Excuse is shown, one can't help but have some sympathy for what made him into the monster he is now, since he's completely right to be furious about he and his friends being used as a Redshirt Army and target practice by Project Freelancer, and also about the UNSC sending them off to Project Freelancer in the first place. Unfortunately, that newly-gained sympathy for him is promptly thrown out the window when it's revealed that not only his reaction to that aforementioned torment is to degenerate into an Ax-Crazy Serial Killer who has been tracking down the remaining Freelancers and subjecting them to horrific deaths by armor lock-induced dehydration and starvation, but that he also wants to forcibly dismantle the entire UNSC, a galactic federation full of countless innocent civilians that will be slaughtered in the crossfire.

    Western Animation 
  • Action Man (2000): Dr. X claims he's trying to help the humanity evolve even if many won't survive the transformation into "Neo-Humanity". In actuality, he's a psychopath with delusions of grandeur and world conquest. When his plans start to crumble, he decides to decimate the Earth with an asteroid. He basically says "I am humanity" during his final We Can Rule Together speech to Action Man.
  • Hyperion in Avengers, Assemble! constantly passes himself off as a hero whose brutal methods towards others are to keep people safe and establish order, but not only does threatening people's lives go against the intent to protect them, but he is unwilling to make compromises, has no sense of compassion whatsoever and he later says he's only interested in having power over others.
  • The Batman: During the two-part premiere episode of the fifth season, Lex Luthor puts Superman under his control to help in his plan control Earth's defense systems. Since an alien invasion took place previously, he insists that this is to make sure no one tries to take over the world. Batman points out the one hypocritical point of his plan, Lex is basically trying to take over the world himself. Lex half-hearetedly defends himself by saying that "someone has to be in charge".
  • Most villains in The Legend of Korra legitimately want to make the world a better place, but just go overboard. Vaatu, the Big Bad of Season 2 is the personification of evil itself, and doesn't hide his true nature in the least. The only clear exception is Korra's uncle and the other Big Bad of Season 2, Unalaq. He claims he wants to unite both the spirit and material worlds and how the world needs to respect the spirits, but Korra calls out being a Hypocrite, given his enslaving spirits and clear willingness to let even his own children die for him. He is also working with the literal embodiment of all evil to accomplish his goals. Whatever good intentions he had may have been genuine at one point, but by the time he's introduced, it's become a sham and excuse for him to just claim power.
  • South Park:
    • Lampshaded when Eric Cartman commits several atrocities with Cthulhu's help, and his friends immediately call him out on it. His response is, "I'm just trying to make the world a better place," only to be called out, "For YOU! Making the world better for YOU!"
    • In "Cartoon Wars, Part 1", when terrorists threaten reprisals over a depiction of The Prophet Muhammad in an episode of Family Guy, Cartman uncharacteristically takes the point of view that people could get hurt over it, and convinces Kyle to help him get the episode taken off the air. However, it turns out he just hates Family Guy and wants to exploit the controversy to get the show cancelled.
    • Lennart Bedrager from Season 20 seems to want to stop trolling and make the world a safer place and prevent similar fates like Freja. However many of his methods result in massive destruction, such as the incident in Fort Collins, and his plan to pit countries against each other. Then it is revealed in "Not Funny" that he has no well intentions at all and wants to cause World War III solely because he finds it amusing.
  • Starlight Glimmer from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. In "The Cutie Map – Part 1" and "Part 2", she rules over a town where she removes the individual talents of all her followers — sometimes taking them forcefully, then brainwashing the ponies into accepting their place in her kid-friendly Harrison Bergeron cult. Ostensibly, Starlight does this because she believes true friendship can only come through perfect equality, which in turn is only possible when everyone is equally (in)competent. But she retains her own considerable talent for magic, suggesting that she's really more interested in power than in equality. When called out on this hypocrisy, Starlight claims that it's a necessary fudge, because her own magic is needed to equalize everyone else. It's debatable whether she actually believes this, or is just covering her ass. And then Starlight reveals her past in "The Cutie Re-Mark – Part 2'': she was heartbroken when a childhood friend moved away to pursue his own special talent, and developed her "equality" philosophy in response. In effect, she became a cult leader just to ensure no-one ever hurt her feelings again. She possibly straddles the line between this trope and Well-Intentioned Extremist, depending on how much she believes her own lies — a point the show is ambiguous about.
  • Generator Rex:
    • Van Kleiss claims all of his evil is him merely working to create a better future for all EVOs, but It's propaganda. He's been going for omnipotence since before the start.
    • Hunter Cain wants everyone to see him as the hero of the people against the Evos. It's clear to anyone who does meet him that he's full of hate and paranoia and looking for an excuse to kill anyone or anything he doesn't like. He will go to any extreme even if it goes against what he supposedly fights for, even threatening to murder an old woman for protecting the Evo children under her care.
  • Green Lantern: The Animated Series: Atrocitus formed the Red Lantern Corps to take revenge on the Guardians for the Manhunters' destruction of the forgotten zone. However, he's also destroyed countless worlds and murdered millions of innocents to add to his army. He rejects Hal Jordan's offer to help the forgotten zone, meaning he's a violent monster who is more interested in killing the Guardians than actually helping his sector.
  • Castlevania (2017): The Bishop abuses his authority to use anyone fighting Dracula's monsters not affiliated with the Church as scapegoats to his denial that Lisa's death was his fault. He also seems fine with all the murder as it gives him a higher standing in the Church with fewer people. Ultimately his supposed goal of helping the people are just hollow lies to get away with murder and heartlessness. In the end, he's killed by the demon Blue Fangs, who tells him point-blank that his Knight Templar ways have desanctified his Church and caused God to turn His back on him.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987):
    • In the episode "Dirk Savage", A.J. Howard hires the eponymous mutant hunter to capture mutants claiming them to be a menace to society with no regard to them being good or evil. However, not only is Howard a mutant himself, he plans to build an army of brainwashed mutants in hopes of mutating and controlling the entire human race, this leads to Don and Raph stopping a vengeful Rahzar from killing Dirk in order to convince him to turn against Howard.
    • In the episode "Cry H.A.V.O.C.!", the Turtles meet the mutant organization H.A.V.O.C., which claims to protect mutants shunned by humans; Donatello and Raphael, sick of being Heroes with Bad Publicity and dealing with the ingratitude of humans, decide to join them... until they discover H.A.V.O.C. mutating a captive man and realize their real goal is to mutate people to dominate humanity completely.

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