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Obstructive Zealot

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When people zealously pursue some higher goal, they tend to see only what they want to see, make bad choices, and alienate others. Well, this character knows the truth, understands the situation, and is in complete control... in his own mind, anyway. The truth is, he's entirely insane or an idiot. At best, he's tragically misinformed and will lead our heroes to near-disaster with his relentless interference, refusal to listen, and rejection of anything and everything that doesn't jibe with the Truth that he knows. This character often (but not always) shares characteristics with the Obstructive Bureaucrat, the Heteronormative Crusader and the Inspector Javert. Sometimes a member of an Animal Wrongs Group.


See also Knight Templar, Well-Intentioned Extremist, Principles Zealot.


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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Special Agent Dammers from The Frighteners is an Inspector Javert who believes Frank Bannister is a killer psychic and constantly antagonizes him from the first second they meet face to face in order to get proof (it's made clear that Dammers is the local Agent Mulder and he's been driven nuts by years of being assigned to undercover assignments in cults) and quickly afterwards decides to try to kill Frank. As a result, he gets in the way of Frank's various attempts to get rid of the psychotic Reaper (actually the ghost of local Spree Killer Johnny Bartlett) once and for all.
  • Cavaldi from The Brothers Grimm.
  • Ghostbusters (1984): Walter Peck, the bureaucrat who not only opposes everything the Ghostbusters do, but also obtains a court order allowing him to shut down the containment unit, releasing all the captured ghosts. He then blames them for the consequences of his actions.

  • Cornelius Fudge, Minister for Magic in the Harry Potter series. It takes seeing Voldemort with his own eyes in the Ministry of Magic to convince him that yes, Dumbledore and Harry have been telling the truth for the past year. Naturally, by this time Voldemort has had a year to prepare and bust his most loyal underlings out of prison, so for the next year the Ministry's attempts at fighting the threat are sadly ineffective (although giving Fudge the boot didn't hurt).
  • The Masters (formerly The Bloodguard) in The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant are an entire race of Obstructive Zealots. They've set themselves up as the rulers of The Land - denying the people of The Land proper knowledge of Earthpower for starters - all for the purposes of being the only ones capable of defeating Lord Foul. Though it's obvious to anyone not one of The Masters that they don't have the numbers to wage war against Foul, let alone win.
  • Qing-jao of Xenocide. She's seen as a brilliant individual who's easily the pinnacle of everything her home world of Path is about. Naturally, she's the one put in charge of a formal investigation into Demosthenes' identity, and actually winds up learning a great deal. But then it's revealed that the "godspoken" of her home world that ultimately guide everything are in fact genetically altered by humanity's governing body to act as hyperintelligent servants to fight against Demosthenes and anyone else that would dare to undermine them so thoroughly. The gods talking to them and their pathological obsessions to engage in demanding, menial activities are actually the results of genetically enforced OCD that keep them under control and unable to resist the call of their superiors. When Qing-jao is confronted with the truth, she defies it constantly, and even when it's cured in the end, she still insists the "gods" have a plan for her, and refuses to listen to any reason except her own.
  • Donald Morgan of The Dresden Files, who firmly believes that Harry is a walking Black Magic time bomb who should have been executed years ago. Any attempts on Harry's part to defend himself are generally ignored. He eventually backs down a little from his Inspector Javert attitude, but he's still an obstructive jerk.

    Live-Action TV 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Imperium of Mankind as a whole. Mostly due to the Adeptus Mechanicus, whose zealous worship of the Omnissiah causes them to shun much technological advancement, which means that a lot of the advanced technology that the Imperium lost thousands of years ago remains lost because they refuse to research it again. Thankfully there are several members of the Ad Mech that actually allow advancement, and there is actual advancement, but it's at a glacially slow pace because the Ad Mech doesn't want to risk committing heresy.
    • Commissar Tomas Beije in The Traitor's Hand, whom Ciaphas Cain makes the mistake of purposefully annoying because he expects not to have much dealings with him. Religious, zealous, resentful, and plain dumb, he sees Cain as a complete scoundrel, which ironically enough from the point of view of Cain's own narration is something of a Cassandra Truth. Of course, when he finally starts getting properly obstructive, it's just when Cain is trying to save everyone (even if it is because that includes himself). Although his attempts to get Cain punished backfire spectacularly thank to a combination of the fact Cain is HERO OF THE IMPERIUM, was engaged in the aformentioned day-saving and is friends with the Lord General. The tribunal's verdict boiled down to; "Commissar Cain is acquitted of all charges. Commissar Beije is now charged with getting in his damn way!".
    • Also from Ciaphas Cain, Sisters of Battle. Sure, they wear Power Armor that allows them to withstand hits that'd kill a Guardsman three times over, and their unshakeable faith means they won't fall back in panic, but they're a nightmare to superior officers since they just keep moving forwards and eventually getting killed, leaving a great big hole in the line. Cain has to wise them up to this by reminding them that as glorious as it is to die for the Emperor, He won't appreciate it if it also means a temple full of civilians got slaughtered because the Sisters were too dead to protect them.

    Video Games 
  • Grand Maestro Mohs in Tales of the Abyss wants to start a war because the Score says so. After all, it predicts prosperity for his country if it comes to pass, so why not do it? He constantly gets in the way of the party members, and even goes behind the back of his boss, Fon Master Ion, just to try and make it happen.
  • Judicator Aldaris in StarCraft. He is willing to engage in a civil war while his home planet is being invaded by the nigh-unstoppable Zerg just because he doesn't like the people that the player and Tassadar are consorting with. Naturally, this blows up in his face and he accepts the truth. What makes it kinda tragic is that the next time Aldaris started to become an Obstructive Zealot, he was 100% correct. He could see that Kerrigan had gained some influence over the Matriarch, but nobody would listen to him (except his loyal core of off-screen supporters). And then Kerrigan shows up to kill him off before he could explain his reasoning for starting another civil conflict.
  • Yevonites in Final Fantasy X; they'll irritate you with scripture, feed you lies, and take issue with a certain member of your party. That's all before they brand The Hero a heretic and try to kill you. Doesn't help that one member of your party is a pretty strict Yevonite. D'oh.
  • Jak and Daxter: Count Veger, with emphasis on the zealot. And "emphasis on the zealot" means "inscribe ZEALOT on him in ten-foot letters made out of solid gold".
  • Knight Commander Meredith in the Templar path of Dragon Age II. Meredith is so paranoid and delusional that she believes that Hawke somehow orchestrated the entire Mage-Templar conflict even after Hawke helped her destroy the Kirkwall Circle. Meredith is convinced that she is the Big Good and Hawke is the Big Bad when it's really the other way around.
  • Mass Effect:
    • In Mass Effect, Saren fit this trope, though his intentions were fairly pragmatic: By helping the Reapers take over the galaxy, he hoped to show that organic life could be useful and would spare some of them. Of course, he was indoctrinated and was going to justify doing exactly what they wanted him to one way or the other.
    • In Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3, The Illusive Man falls into this same trap, first thinking that humanity could stop the Reapers without the help or interference of the aliens, and later that he could control the Reapers himself (as with Saren, the opposite was true.) The comics imply that he had been under the Reapers' influence for most of his life.

    Web Comics 
  • Miko Miyazaki from The Order of the Stick, who believes that the Twelve Gods have a "special mission" for her, and absolutely, vehemently refuses to listen to anyone or anything that doesn't fit her view of how things are, or even acknowledges that she may, in fact, be wrong. Not even when Miko is stripped of her power by the Twelve Gods themselves following her murder of Lord Shojo out of paranoia.

    Web Original 
  • Reverend Darren England, of the Whateley Universe. He's fought demons and aliens for decades, protecting the people of earth. Now he's trying to destroy a couple more inhuman things. They just happen to be some of the heroes.

    Western Animation