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Serial-Killer Killer

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"Hey, Dexter! Ready for a killer night?"
"Patrick, you have no idea."

Harry Morgan: Son, there are people out there who do really bad things. Terrible people. And the police can't catch them all. Do you understand what I'm saying?
Dexter Morgan: You're saying...they deserve it.
Dexter
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A violent, psychotic killer with a Freudian Excuse gets sick pleasure out of the suffering of his victims. It sounds like he is your basic Serial Killer, right?

He would be, but instead of terrorizing the innocent, the Serial-Killer Killer terrorizes the guilty. He spends his life tracking down serial killers so he can give them justice. In short, he is a vigilante, who thinks himself divine justice incarnate. For this reason, he kills them in the same way that they would kill their own victims.

Distinct from He Who Fights Monsters, because He Who Fights Monsters is more about good characters turning evil in the process of hunting evil, whereas this is more about someone who is evil, or crazy, or both from the outset. Arguably, this guy can be Chaotic Good and be an Anti-Hero, although he walks a VERY dangerous line to become the Knight Templar.

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See also Smiting Evil Feels Good, Vigilante Man, Knight Templar, Pay Evil unto Evil, Hunter of His Own Kind, The Killer Becomes the Killed, '90s Anti-Hero, Bully Hunter, Defends Against Their Own Kind, and Asshole Victim. Compare with the similarly named Wife-Basher Basher, which they often are too. Contrasts Bounty Hunter and Professional Killer, while they may also hunt serial killers, they are Only in It for the Money.

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As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Ana Satsujin: Rio mainly kills criminals, though she hates police and makes an exception for them. She will technically kill anyone she feels like, which includes her boyfriend.
  • Baccano!: Vino is an incredibly violent assassin, and generally prefers to kill by smashing his targets' faces into the ground from a moving train. However, he takes pride in only killing other criminals, and refuses to do jobs on people who are not guilty. In its main plot aboard the Flying Pussyfoot, Vino actually can be considered the most heroic of those involved, as his brutal murder spree only involves the cultists and gangsters who were trying to harm the passengers. He even saves the comic relief from certain death.
  • Code:Breaker. Some of the Code Breakers recognize that they are evil themselves, though.
  • Danganronpa: Both Sparkling Justice and Takumi Hijirihara/Killer Killer (who are hinted to be the same person) exclusively kill criminals.
  • Death Note: Almost all incarnations of Kira fall under this trope, with the exception of the one profit-driven Corrupt Corporate Executive. Most notably, the main character Light is a mix of Knight Templar and A God Am I, believing that he will become the "god of the new world" by completely eradicating the world's criminals. True to the series' penchant of showing what happens to He Who Fights Monsters, a good number of the Kiras Jump Off the Slippery Slope into Knight Templar (such as Light himself) or just plain Ax-Crazy (such as Mikami) territory.
  • DOT Hack: Haseo, nicknamed "Terror of Death" due to his insistence on killing PKers (which makes him a PKer-Ker).
  • Eden of the East: Diana, Selacao number 11 hunts rapists and dispatches them by castration via cigar cutter.
  • Murciélago: Kuroko has murdered 725 people, and the only reason she hasn't been given the death sentence is so she can kill other mass murderers.

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 
  • DC Comics:
  • Hack/Slash: Cassie Hack is a former Final Girl who becomes a slasher-hunter. In one of the later comics, she's even referred to by a talk radio host as the "SKK". Samhain doesn't see the difference between her and any other slasher, a sentiment Cassie really doesn't appreciate.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • For a time, Morbius would only drink the blood of criminals.
    • Night Raven, from Marvel UK (though his stories take place mostly in the US), has targeted serial murderers, including an unauthorized successor to his mantle, Howard Bates, who had admired Night Raven as a child.
    • The Punisher hunts and kills as many criminals as he can. Currently he's killed over 48,000.
    • The Scourge of the Underworld is an entire organization of these — though only a scant handful of its victims are actual killers.
  • Spawn: In an early story, Spawn tracks down a child predator who lures kids to their deaths with an ice cream truck. He then proceeds to kill him by stabbing him to death with ice cream bars.
  • Twister features someone who not slays serial murderers by twisting their heads around.

    Fan Works 
  • A.A. Pessimal: A new generation of Assassins think like this. They are not evil or psychopathic and in many respects are well-adjusted rational people - well, ladies. But this group of Assassins have decided on what they call Ethical Assassination. They still want the money and the contract fees and they respect the rules. Especially the Guild maxim of nil mortifi sine lucre. But they exploit the latitude offered by being able to pick and choose their contacts, and only choose clients whose passing will make the Disc a little bit cleaner. One informal "firm" is dubbed The Marriage Guidance Counsellors, for instance: whatever the reason might officially be, these Lady Assassins choose only men with a reputation for things like wife-beating, rape or child abuse. Then deal with it decisively. A younger Cenotian Assassin takes pleasure in targeting people who get anti-Cenotic. This adds retribution and job satisfaction to her contract fee.
  • Gemini: Captain June Harper is a dishonorably discharged former Time Agent now on the run from charges of Police Brutality and vigilante murder. She despises the concept of innocent people suffering, but the Hero Protagonists who travel with her are consistently horrified by the ways in which she kills the people who threaten said innocents. The Lancer Damien claims that the only reason why he and the other heroes support her — even as they are hunted by the universe's law enforcement agencies for aiding and abetting a Super Villain — is because she Hates Being Alone and would just make new friends if she didn't have the heroes. They don't see themselves as supporting June Harper as a serial killer so much as they see themselves as distracting her from starting an army of Serial-Killer Killers.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Captivity: The Final Girl becomes one of these in an alternate ending.
  • The Crow: The title character, though not just any serial killer will do. It's personal.
  • Final Girl: Veronica is specifically raised to ruthlessly hunt down serial killers.
  • Hard Candy: Hayley turns out to be a variant that targets child molesters rather than serial killers.
  • Julia X: Julia and Jessica hunt and kill sexual predators. However, Jessica turns out to have a dangerously loose definition of 'sexual predator'.
  • ''Seven Psychopaths': Zachariah Rigby and his girlfriend Maggie. They even caught the Zodiac killer!

    Literature 
  • And Then There Were None: U.N. Owen. The killer of the novel invites a number of people who have gotten away with murder to a deserted island. He then proceeds to either eliminate them personally, or to set up situations where they are manipulated to kill each other or to commit suicide. Once everyone else is dead, the killer commits suicide, the final act of a murder-suicide plot. While the novel is one of the inspirations for this trope, it differed from it somewhat. "Owen" (a pseudonym) was a spree killer and not a serial killer. Most of his victims were ordinary murderers, while a few of them had either killed people by accident or by negligence.
  • Bad Monkeys: The main character claims to be a member of a secret organization devoted to killing people who are just plain evil and unredeemable. Of course, she could be lying. Or not.
  • Dexter: The novels go a bit further than the show — not only do we have Dexter, the two children who he is raising are damaged in much the same way he is. He is trying to teach them to be like him, so as to prevent them from becoming even worse.
  • The Fifth Woman: The murderer turns out to be a rare female example of this trope.
  • The Girl from the Well: The titular ghost Okiku hunts and kills serial killers who murder children.
  • Hannibal Lecter: Hannibal Lecter, a cannibalistic serial killer with a sizable bodycount of his own, at times goes after other killers when he is not locked up, including Nazi war criminal Vladis Grutas in Hannibal Rising and disfigured pedophile Mason Verger in Hannibal.
  • I Am Not a Serial Killer: John Cleaver is this, with the added twist that the killers he hunts are not human.
  • Kara no Kyoukai: Both Shiki and Fujino . This is part of the reason why the part of the story where they fight is the only one where both agonists get out okay, more-or-less. (Well, that and the one where the antagonist has Mind Control to stop Shiki from attacking him...)
  • Lost And Gone Forever: In an ironic twist, Jack the Ripper turns out to be this in one of the epilogues. Not because he has any moral qualms about the murderer, but because their activities threaten Jack's peaceful retirement.
  • Reginas Song: All of the victims had criminal records to some degree, but the one the killer was explicitly looking for while she thinned out Seattle's rapist population was a serial killer. At her trial, one of the witnesses remarks that there was a perverse charm in one serial killer dying at the hands of another.
  • The Rhesus Charts: The narrator describes Vampire Hunters as this, even making a direct comparison to Dexter.
  • The Serial Killers Club: Jeff Povey's point of view character manages to be invited into the titular organization after he takes down a serial killer... and begins to kill off the membership, one by one. He says he's not a serial killer himself... but he kills again and again...
  • Twilight: Edward Cullen spent a few years killing serial killers, during his "rebellious" phase against Carlisle's vegetarian vampirism philosophy.
  • The Vampire Chronicles: Some vampires tend to be this. Post-Akasha Lestat mostly kills and drinks mobsters, muggers, and the like... but sometimes cannot control himself and kills someone he deems particularly impressive. Another vampire, Pandora, when we meet her, is hunting a drug dealer.

    Live-Action TV 
  • And Then There Were None (2015): Wargrave is a literal one in the backstory, as Edward Seton undergoes Adaptational Villainy to become a genuine serial killer.
  • Angel: After Angel gets his soul back, Darla accuses him of being this when he tries to win her back. She says that while he has been killing, it's only been "murderers and rapists." Then she tried to make him kill a baby to prove himself.
  • Ash vs. Evil Dead: Ashley Williams has gained quite the reputation as a Serial Killer who leaves bodies dismembered and blasted beyond recognition, all of which is true... except for the fact the people he kills are people or corpses possessed by the Ultimate Evil that gleefully slaughter anyone who gets in their way For the Evulz. Ash himself lacks any traits of a Serial Killer, however, and is more of a Crazy Awesome Dirty Old Man. Lampshaded in the aptly-named "Killer of Killers".
    Ash: (having just killed a Deadite in front of the cop convinced he was a murderer) I told you: I kill killers.
  • Bones: Jacob Broadsky, who first kills the serial killer Heather “The Gravedigger” Taffet, then several other criminals. He’s the dark Booth, holding to his own sense of justice as opposed to Booth’s belief in the system.
  • Dexter: Dexter realizes that he's evil, but has been programmed to live within a set of standards that are supposed to place him above common murderers. He sometimes allows himself to fantasize that he is a dark avenger of the innocent. Occasionally, when his target reveals that their victim had it coming too (such as a gay boy who killed his gaybashers before they killed him), Dexter forces his need to go unsated that night.
  • Doctor Who: Madame Vastra, a Silurian living in Victorian London, eats Jack the Ripper, apparently with Inspector Abberline's blessing.
  • Hannibal:
    • Hannibal Lecter is an unrepentant serial killer, but he also murders other serial killers such as Tobias, Georgia, and the "muralist" in the course of the show. He subverts this trope, however, since he kills the above serial killers to, respectively, defend himself, to destroy evidence of his own crimes, or to express his artistic side and respect for the killer's work.
    • Will Graham has a touch of this trope played straight. Every person he's tried to kill (with or without success) was a serial killer. It's in his job to catch them, but Will enjoys killing in a way that both terrifies and thrills him. It's ambiguous about how much this comes from He Who Fights Monsters and how much is naturally there inside Will.
  • The I-Land: Hayden was imprisoned because she went around murdering sex offenders as a vigilante killer. This leads to her own death after she kills Brody for assaulting Chase and K.C.
  • The Inside: "Prefiler"'s titular character, played by a pre-Lost Michael Emerson, profiles potential serial killers, tracks them down before they get a chance to kill and kills them using their own intended methods.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: One episode has a woman deceive who can't handle that she killed a torturous murderer.
  • Murder One: Clifford Banks is a subversion: although most of his victims were unconvicted serial killers, his first ever victim was his brother, whose murder he forgot and mentally pinned on a burglar. Ironically, this is what led him on the killer-killing path.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): "Stitch In Time", an episode from the 90's revival, has an unbalanced female scientist use her time machine to go back and execute famous serial killers before they hurt anybody. Her resulting Ripple Effect-Proof Memory does not improve her mental state...
  • Tales from the Crypt: In the very first episode, "The Man Who Was Death", Niles Talbot is an executioner who was recently fired after the death penalty was abolished in his town. As a result, he goes on a killing spree, killing those who murdered people and escaped justice by various means of electrocution. However, eventually karma bites him in the ass when the tables are turned on him and he is executed using his preferred method just as it was reinstated.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Anathema, your job is to murder people in order to control the global population. Players can choose to act as this. Additionally, if you fail to meet your daily kill quotas enough times, other shrouds will hunt you down and destroy you.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The Forgotten Realms have this as the encouraged behavior of the priests of the little-known deity Hoar, the Lawful Neutral god of retribution. Specialty priests of Hoar are called Doombringers, and are highly encouraged to kill or otherwise punish (as appropriate for the crime) criminals in a manner befitting the criminal's own misdeeds, especially if they can inflict an ironic punishment.
  • Geist: The Sin-Eaters: Sin-Eaters mainly focus on dealing with ghosts and helping them move to the afterlife, which in the case of ghosts born from a violent death often means avenging them by finding the one responsible for their murder. Hunter: The Vigil supplement Mortal Remains mentions that Slashers usually are terrified by Sin-Eaters because of this.
  • Old World of Darkness:
    • Mage: The Ascension has the Tradition of Euthanatos. The Euthanatos view existence as a continual cycle of death and rebirth — "the Wheel" — and those who unbalance the Wheel through atrocities must be dealt with so that things can be set right.
    • Werewolf: The Apocalypse:
      • The tribal laws of the Black Furies forbid them from turning a blind eye to violence against women. Domestic abusers, sexual predators, and serial killers who murder women are all legitimate targets for them.
      • Among the Get of Fenris, the Hand of Tyr camp hunts down those who torment the innocent, including murderers.
      • One of the most depraved antagonists in the game is the Seventh Generation, a Wyrm cult that kidnaps children and uses them as human sacrifices. The Seventh Generation's killings and depraved rites have earned it enemies who hunt its members without mercy. For example, the Order of the Rose, an underground organization described in Rage Across New York, hunts down Seventh Generation devotees. Also, one of King Albrecht's first projects after ascending the throne was orchestrating a Garou attack on the Seventh Generation. The result was a slaughter of almost all Seventh Generation members.
      • Garou see killing wolves as a grave offense, and some Garou target hunters who slaughter wolves. Several characters in the Warriors of the Apocalypse character book, such as Volcheka Ibarruri and Gere Hunts-The-Hunters, torture and kill wolf hunters.

    Videogames 
  • In The Cat Lady, Susan Ashworth's primary goal is to kill five serial killers, called "Parasites".
  • City of Heroes: The Vigilante alignment is basically a Hero who kills instead of arrests. They're willing to forego saving innocent lives in order to get at the bad guys, and they are willing to get very brutal about going after said bad guys. Because Vigilante is the transitional alignment between Hero and Villain, a Vigilante who goes too far risks becoming a Villain.
  • Condemned: Criminal Origins: Serial Killer X. Spying on FBI Agent Ethan Thomas, SKX figured out the identities of ten other Serial Killers and murdered them in the way they did their victims, which caused them to be confused for their own victims by the authorities and the investigation to go cold, thus keeping X's involvement unknown. In the sequel, his goals have shifted to dissecting people in an effort to give himself superpowers, though it should be noted that while he claimed to have righteous reasons for his killings, he also just really liked getting a thrill out of hunting them down and killing them, and he certainly didn't have any hesitation in killing innocent people, including several of Thomas' fellow officers.
  • Danganronpa: Sparkling Justice and Killer Killer exclusively kill criminals. They may actually be the same person.
  • Dark Souls has the Blades of Darkmoon covenant, which allows you to hunt down and invade players who have been indicted for PvP by doing it too much, cheating at it, or for killing Dark Sun Gwyndolyn, the covenant's leader.
  • .hack: Haseo, the Player Killer Killer from .hack//Roots and Dot Hack GU''. Player Killing and Player Killer Killing (ad infinitum) is Serious Business in the World.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: Matheiu Bellamont . On one hand, he's a murderous lunatic with an incredibly disturbing Torture Cellar and Room Full of Crazy. On the other hand, he only kills members of the Dark Brotherhood. To make it even more sketchy, he's not even the one that kills a lot of them!
  • Fallout 4: Pickman is a Mad Artist who kills raiders and only raiders. He then uses their blood in paintings and bodies to decorate his rather gruesome gallery. Despite being a very minor character, only appearing during a single small sidequest, his handsome and polished appearance, in addition to a strangely charming personality, has earned him a significant fan following.
  • MadWorld: Jack fits this well in both MadWorld and Anarchy Reigns, and he is very good at it.
  • Manhunt: James Cash becomes this, technically; he is hunting down and brutally murdering people for Starkweather's Snuff Film, even using slasher-type methods of hunting and butchering, and the people he kills are Starkweather's "workers", which means they're all guilty of multiple murder as well.
  • Mass Effect: Garrus Vakarian becomes this between the first and second games. He became a vigilante in the in-universe Wretched Hive, hunting down all sorts of criminals, often administering poetic justice against the more particularly heinous ones. He brutalized a slaver, killed a drug dealer using the same addictive and deadly drug the dealer sold, killed a specialist in biological warfare with a virus, and killed a dangerous saboteur by causing a space suit malfunction.
  • No More Heroes is in part all about this sort of thing. While the player character Travis Touchdown is part of a union of assassins, and as such does get the occasional mission to, y'know, assassinate someone, for the most part his only concern is becoming the highest-ranked assassin in the union by killing off all the higher-ranked ones.
  • [PROTOTYPE]:
    • The first game has Alex Mercer as this, in a way. He kills thousands of comparatively blameless soldiers to get to their leaders, the ones responsible for the outbreak of the disease ravaging Manhattan, and kill them. His reasoning, insofar as 'reason' factors into anything Alex does, seems to be that however many people he kills, his targets are responsible for both far more deaths and much uglier crimes. Of course, his conscience is still developing throughout the game, so at the beginning he was just a plain-old mass murderer... of guys who were trying to kill him for reasons he didn't understand at that point. (Unless he also killed civilians.)
    • In [PROTOTYPE 2], if you don't kill civilians and try to reign in any Marine deaths, then this trope is played straight. Everyone in Blackwatch is evil. Every. Single. Soldier.
  • Thrill Kill: Tormentor is a judge executed in the electric chair after it was found out he acquitted criminals just so he could later torture and kill them instead.
  • Yandere Simulator: Mission Mode takes place in an alternate timeline where Ayano is a Professional Killer instead of a Yandere. It's possible for her to be stalked by a student known only as Nemesis, whose only goal is to find Ayano and kill her. The comic Retribution reveals she's Hanako Yamada, out to get revenge on Ayano for killing her brother, Taro, who was Ayano's first victim.

    Web Original 
  • Global Guardians PBEM Universe:
    • The Confessor obsessively hunts down and murders (usually in a very Karmic Death) other serial killers. When the heroes finally capture him, and one points out to the Confessor that he, himself, was a serial killer, the Confessor delivers the Hannibal Lecture to end all Hannibal Lectures.
    • The Dove was also a Serial-Killer Killer, but honestly thought he was the hero of his own story.
  • Worm: Glaistig Uaine spent much of her pre-teen life hunting down and killing some of the most powerful supervillains on the planet, including Gray Boy.

If they kill multiple serial killers, wouldn't they be a Serial Serial Killer Killer?

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