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Smiting Evil Feels Good

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Judge Chavez: Salvador, for the murders of the men known as Bluntcrack, Craw, Friday, and Spitstain, you will now be hanged by the neck until dead. Have you last words in your defence?
Salvador: They were bandits! They tried to kill mi abuela!
Judge Chavez: Yes, yes, yes. You have attempted to convince your fellow villagers of this many times. Anything else to say regarding the murder of these men?
Salvador: Uh... it was fun?
Judge Chavez: [disgusted] Come again? Killing those men was fun?
Salvador: Killing bad guys is always fun!

Sometimes Evil Feels Good. Sometimes Good Feels Good. And then there's this strange thing in the middle, where good people feel good when they hurt evil: Smiting Evil Feels Good.

This is a hero who feels enjoyment, elation, and great satisfaction when they kill or beat up the bad guys. They may be otherwise strictly moral, well-intentioned, and selfless, but when they've decided you're better off dead than alive, they'll kill you with a smile on their face, and may even take additional satisfaction in ending you in sadistic ways. They're not a Blood Knight, though; they never lose track of their purpose, and they don't seek villain-killing on their own, they just enjoy it when it happens.

Some heroes tend to break down when they find themselves doing this or when someone else points this out, especially if they feel it somehow implies that their motivation is not high righteousness, but base blood-lust. It's in fact a very common topic of a "Not So Different" Remark.

How can one be good if one enjoys doing evil? Is it okay to enjoy hurting others? Is it degrading? Is all the heroing just an excuse to get one's kicks in a socially acceptable manner? Am I really so different from that villain? Am I a self-righteous hypocrite? Does it matter?

Other heroes decide that what matters is that the outcome of their actions is globally good, or that the methods they follow are virtuous, and leave it to others to worry about introspective stuff like motivations and hypocrisy and so on.

Fairly common in the Action Hero, especially in the Eighties. If they've dropped a Bond One-Liner, even with a straight face, you know they fit here. See also Serial-Killer Killer, Wife-Basher Basher, or Bully Hunter. Sub-Trope of Blood Knight though not all blood knights limit themselves to "smiting" only evil people, and In Harm's Way for those who merely like the feeling of being in constant danger.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In Watchmen, Hooded Justice went through a Heroic BSoD when another taunted him that he hadn't joined up so much for fighting crime as just having a legal excuse to beat the crap out of people. Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre take great enjoyment in heroics, but it's unclear whether "beating up the bad guys" is what thrills them, or just the danger. Rorschach acts like it's his moral obligation to make bad guys suffer, but it's unclear whether he derives pleasure from it besides the satisfaction of accomplished duty.
  • In Red Daughter of Krypton, Supergirl joins the Red Lanterns. She describes her new team as "We seek out injustice and we punch it in the teeth. And it feels good." And she explains this as punching someone who was about to kill a child across a city.
  • In Sin City, both Dwight and Marv, in their respective stories, talk about how good it feels to torture and kill bad guys. As one might expect, these guys tend very much toward Anti-Heroes.
  • Spider Jerusalem from Transmetropolitan is a shameless sadist who gets off on seeing people humiliated. Luckily, he lives in a world run and populated by lots and lots of lying, scheming bastards who don't give a damn about the Truth. So he gets lots of opportunities to justifiably ruin people's lives with his articles.
  • Hellblazer: This is one interpretation of John Constantine's motivation; he constantly rails against the injustices of the world, blaming those that rule it. Some of his acquaintances believe he's not a champion of the oppressed so much as an adrenaline junkie who uses powerful and amoral opponents as a source of schadenfreude.
    Clarice: Sticking your hand in something nasty, getting good and pissed off, getting the blood flowing—vintage John Constantine.
  • Deadpool brings this trope up on occasion. There's been at least one point when he's claimed that, regardless of what they say, every superhero in the game enjoys delivering a beat-down to a bad guy.
  • This seems to be the motivation of the "Batman" from All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder. It's hard to see him as a straight-up good guy, given his collateral damage and general sociopathy, but darn if he doesn't love brutalizing bad people. (The problem with him, other than that's not Batman at all, is that he takes it too far - he's a big fan of Disproportionate Retribution and can be very cruel, though not lethally so, to people who aren't villains.) The story's version of Black Canary isn't much different.
  • Holy Terror, by the same author, was going to be a Batman story until later in the game than anyone involved seems to want to admit. The Fixer (aka 'Batman in brown minus the ears and cape') is motivated pretty much entirely by this trope. He enjoys every second of being horrifically brutal and murderous... to terrorists, so nobody's complaining. At least, in-universe. Out of universe, it's hard to get behind a "hero" who just wants to get his murder on but thankfully picked Acceptable Targets. (Well, when done just so, that can make for a compelling character, but we really don't get to know the Fixer beyond his love of giving terrorists what's coming to them.)

    Fan Works 
  • In Fallout: Equestria, Littlepip, the protagonist, has an unfortunate violent streak when it comes to people who morally outrage her. If you're a serial rapist slaver Torture Technician, she will enjoy pumping shotgun pellets up your fleeing arse.
  • Just an Unorthodox Thief seems to be working on an inversion with respect to Kirei Kotomine. Since summoning the Assassin who was known as Lupin the Third, Lupin has been talking to Kirei about how he has fun being more important than why he has fun. Kirei considers himself a very sinful man, not a hero like the trope description expects. But Lupin is widely admired and impressive, partly for who he targets. Lupin seems to be slowly teaching Kirei that imitating him will lead Kirei to an enjoyable lifestyle, as long as he would Pay Evil unto Evil. It doesn't matter if Kirei enjoys killing people, so long as the people he's killing are people that deserve to be killed.
  • Discussed by Harry Dresden in Child of the Storm after cutting off Gravemoss' arm with a magic holy lightsaber (It Makes Sense in Context). As the character in question is a Complete Monster and Hate Sink, neither he nor the audience are particularly upset.
    Dresden: "I'm not normally someone who likes the sound of screaming. There's a special place in hell for people who enjoy the suffering of their fellow creatures. But there was something satisfying about hearing this monster experience some small fraction of the pain he'd caused others."

    Films — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Elliot Stabler, while not outright killing bad guys (if not accidentally... or is it?), ostensibly loves beating the shit out of rapists, pedophiles, etc. (and the other detectives are that close too).
  • In Burn Notice, both Michael and Fi get really angry towards villains who hurt children. Fi particularly chomps at the bit to kill such people (or recurring villains who've been troublesome Manipulative Bastards to Michael in the who-burned-me arc), although she'll defer to Michael's judgment if such would be tactically unwise (or detrimental to Michael getting answers he needs) at the time. But if she does get the green light, she'll smile when she does it.
  • The Unit, about an elite military team tasked with assassinations and other "wet jobs", has one character address the morality of what they do in one episode, having a crisis of conscience, before coming to the realization - supported by his commanding officer - that he enjoys killing people.
  • Legends of Tomorrow: Sara Lance has this tendency, though it disturbs her greatly (in the series it's described as being a side-effect of having been brought back to life). Although she works hard to avoid killing unless necessary (and treats it as serious business when it does happen), she still clearly enjoys beating the tar out of people.
  • Faith in the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer lives out this attitude quite openly. She's trying several times to get Buffy to enjoy killing vampires and demons as well. However, everything takes a very bleak turn when Faith accidentally kills a human. Buffy is horrified and Faith leaves the good side.

  • Ky Vatta in Elizabeth Moon's Vatta's War series discovers early on that she derives a near-sadistic pleasure from killing her enemies, who tend to be pure evil, face-to-face (as opposed to from a starship bridge). She is too moral to kill someone unless forced to and is too horrified about the secret pleasure she takes in killing to tell others about it, but she can't deny that she gets an odd pleasure of doing it when forced to.
  • Animorphs goes into some detail regarding this. The bad guys are an alien race of brain slugs, and after one of the Animorphs, Jake, sends thousands of them to their deaths by dumping their regeneration pool into space, he has a minor breakdown about how much he enjoyed doing so. Another Animorph, Rachel (who has no such qualms) tells him he has to separate the feeling from the action: "doing what has to be done" is not immoral, nor is "enjoying winning". It's deconstructed as that side of them leads to doing some horrible acts and almost leads Rachel to accept a Deal with the Devil. In that same book, she looks at that part of her with disgust.
  • Lampshaded and then averted in Ashfall. Alex does not feel any satisfaction from killing Target and avenging Mrs Edmund's death. He simply feels numb horror at all the senseless death Target had caused.
  • James Bond: Thoroughly averted by Ian Fleming. Although the film version of the character might variably fall under the trope (depending on the film), Fleming's Bond clearly takes no pleasure from killing people and several books (including Goldfinger and the short story "The Living Daylights") have Bond ruminating about the morality of his work.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Harry feels this way, in comparison to his allies and Foils the Knights of the Cross (who genuinely seek the redemption of all of their foes). He explicitly considers the latter to be better people than himself, although one of the Knights (Michael Carpenter) muses that destructive types like Harry also have their place in God's plan and supports him in incapacitating Cassius and using a baseball bat on him to make him talk when the situation calls for it.
      "But here's something for you to think about, at least. What goes around comes around. And sometimes you get what's coming around." He paused for a moment, frowning faintly, pursing his lips. "And sometimes you are what's coming around."
    • Sanya, another Knight of the Cross (and an atheist, though he admits that it's mostly just a matter of personal philosophy in later books) generally advocates for more violent and proactive strategies, and generally suggests that he feels this way a couple of times, having previously been the Denarian host of Magog. While Magog is the biggest Blood Knight of the Fallen, it's implied by his Denarian ex, Rosanna, that most of the Blood Knight tendencies were his, which he acknowledges.
      "I still like a good fight, Rosanna. I just choose them more carefully now."
  • The Count of Monte Cristo feels satisfied by doing "God's will", as he puts it, and genuinely remorseful when he wrongfully judges (i.e, punishes) an innocent person. In one case, the absence of this satisfaction leads him to realize what he already knew subconsciously: that Edouard did not deserve to be murdered.
  • Mike Hammer. In one novel Velda shoots a thug In the Back to stop him from killing Hammer. Afterwards instead of crying she starts laughing, and Hammer tells her she's right to do so, as there's "no shame to killing an evil thing."

  • Angel of Light by power metal band Dreamtale.

    Religion and Mythology 
  • The Bible speaks against this. Protecting people is fine, feeling relieved that bad people can no longer hurt you is fine, telling people honestly that they're sinning is fine- but gloating about their punishment, or saying that they got what they deserved, assumes a moral high ground on the speaker's part that they do not have. There's no one who has never committed any sin, so it's better to stop them from doing wrong again, and even better to forgive them. Justice is good, but mercy is even better.
    "Vengeance is mine, I will repay," says the Lord.
    "Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn His wrath away from him"
  • In the Mahabharata, several members of the kshatriya (warrior) varna do this. Notably, Bheema expects to feel happy when he fulfills his vow to kill the bastards who sexually assaulted his wife, but when the moment finally comes, he doesn't feel anything but a sort of sad resignation that he had to kill his brother.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer Fantasy: An evil-on-evil version is mentioned in the background when a Chaos Champion named Gharad the Ox duels an Elector Count. The Count was so hated that the townswomen actually started cheering for Gharad, even when he wins the duel and takes the man's head for Skull Cups.
    Obscurely pleased, he leaves the town intact.
  • Warhammer 40,000
    • This is something of a common trait among the Space Marines, though this is easily thanks to the conditioning their chapters and the Imperium as a whole gives them, forming this bias against the Xenos and Forces of Chaos that dare invade the Imperium of Man.
    • The Slaaneshi champion Lucius the Eternal gets his name from the fact that when defeated in battle, should his killer feel even a sliver of satisfaction of having killed him, Lucius will slowly reform as the killer until he's whole again, the killer joining the many screaming faces that make up his armor. This being 40K, there's a good chance whoever killed him was just as evil.

    Video Games 
  • Baldur's Gate: Minsc is more than a bit deranged, and he's certainly delighted when he gets a chance to start "butt kicking for goodness."
    Minsc: Evil, meet my sword. Sword, meet evil!
  • From Borderlands 2:
    • Salvador, who believes that "Killing bad guys is always fun!". Detailed more in the hidden ECHO recordings found in Thousand Cuts. You can listen to them here, starting at 0:49 (Warning, contains spoilers about Angel working for Jack).
    • Krieg, the second DLC character, loves killing bandits. Downplayed in that his "psycho" side actually loves killing full stop, innocent or guilty. It's his former personality/conscience which forces him to only kill people who deserve it.
    • Handsome Jack is convinced this applies to him, unaware that he's both the Big Bad and, more notably, a sadistic asshole who actively takes pleasure in killing and mutilating.
  • Fallout 3: Fawkes is a Token Heroic Super-Mutant Gentle Giant who will only be your traveling companion if you have good karma. He also takes just as much pleasure in tearing bad guys to shreds as his more violent brethren do when they fight anyone.
    [After picking up a Gatling Laser Minigun]: "Imagine the evil that can be destroyed with this tool!"
  • In Metal Gear Solid, Snake angsts over the fact that he genuinely enjoys killing enemy soldiers. Killing enough people in the fourth game will result in Liquid Snake's below accusation ringing in his mind, causing Snake to throw up in disgust with himself.
    Solid Snake: I don't want that kind of world!
    Liquid Snake: Ha! You lie! So why are you here, then? Why do you continue to follow your orders while your superiors betray you? Why did you come here? Well, I'll tell you, then. You enjoy all the killing! That's why!
    Solid: What?!
    Liquid: Are you denying it? Haven't you already killed most of my comrades?
    Solid: That was-!
    Liquid: [chuckling] I watched your face when you did it. It was filled with the joy of battle!
    Solid: You're wrong...
    Liquid: There's a killer inside you. You don't have to deny it; we were created to be that way.
    • Raiden feels very much the same, worrying about feeling good when he fights and kills humans and cyborgs. However, he appears to let himself completely loose when fighting full on robots like UMGs.
  • Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon has an infamous instance from Princess Zelda after she deals a mortal blow to Hectan.
    Hectan: You killed me! (melts away)
    Zelda: Good!
  • Sanger Zonvolt of Super Robot Wars is greatly known for proclaiming himself to be 'The Sword That Smites Evil', and the sheer amount of confidence and badassery when he recited those speaks in volumes on how he really has a good satisfaction in smiting evil bastards that threaten the peace of the galaxy.
  • Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden. Killing evil/bad guys would grant him "karma" that would enhance his strength. Thus, not only his sense of justice drives him to slay evil whenever he sees one, he does get something good out of it along with "satisfaction".
  • The Zero Escape character Akane invests major amounts of money and time into not only exposing the people who murdered her as a child but making their punishment as psychologically torturous as possible. In the third game, this leads her into conflict with Junpei (who will kill to survive and do so eagerly, hence their united purpose in the incinerator scene but never for any other reason) and Carlos (who she is tricked into believing killed her Love Interest).
  • Star Fox: All of the Star Fox team has shades of this. They will mercilessly taunt soon-to-be-departed bad guys as their ship is blowing itself to smithereens.

    Western Animation