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Sociopathic Hero

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John: There are lives at stake, Sherlock... actual, human lives — ju-just so I know, do you care about that at all?
Sherlock: Will caring about them help save them?
John: Nope.
Sherlock: Then I'll continue not to make that mistake.
John: And you find that easy, do you?
Sherlock: Yes, very.

They fight for the good guys. They might even believe in the cause (to a point). But they are a hero only in name.

They are Anti-Heroes who have a fundamental Lack of Empathy, a sociopathic disregard for their enemies' lives, and possibly a lack of concern for even the people they save. They may be motivated by boredom, a raw thirst for combat, or by some sort of carrot-and-stick arrangement — a chip in the head, an attachment to some person or thing that requires them to do good, or a pragmatic code that prevents them from landing in jail or in a shallow grave.

They may solve their problems in much the same way that a villain would — using ruthless methods to reach their goals. They may routinely torture, murder, and/or commit evil acts nearly as bad as the Big Bad. They'll do whatever it takes to win. The people they fight beside are shocked with their behavior, but try to tell themselves, "At least they're on our side." Even that may not be true in the end, where it may be suggested that this "hero" has become as evil as the monsters they vanquished. And God help you if they decide to turn against you...

Common rationalizations either by the hero himself or on the hero's behalf include Asshole Victim, Utopia Justifies the Means, It's All About Me, or It's What I Do.

Compare Heroic Comedic Sociopath, for when this kind of behavior is Played for Laughs, and Token Evil Teammate, which they will be if they're a team player. They also tend to stay in Nominal Hero or Villain Protagonist territory. If a character is treated as an Ideal Hero despite being this, then this has been combined with a Designated Hero. If they're a truly bad person with evil desires but are simply doing a traditionally heroic job like police officer or firefighter, you've got an Evil Hero on your hands.

This trope can overlap with the Sociopathic Soldier although there are just as many outright villainous examples, especially if the setting is war or a chaotic milieu. See also Moral Sociopathy.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Karma of Assassination Classroom. He's a kid who clearly has an inclination towards violence and mischief, and appears to be nearly Ax-Crazy with the way he gets shits and giggles out of torturing and making others miserable through cruel and unusual methods. However, he's also distinctly shown to be a Bully Hunter, only really ever targeting those who harass others or threaten either himself or his classmates.
  • Berserk: Throughout his life, Guts has varied from a violent psycho who just happened to be fighting evil demons to someone just trying to preserve the lives of himself and his friends. However, even in his nobler periods, he relishes in crushing the skulls of his enemies and striking fear into their hearts. As the series progresses, he becomes a lot more kind to his growing group of companions.
  • Black Lagoon has Roberta, who was once an amoral killing machine but has now dedicated herself to the Lovelace family and goes berserk when her master was assassinated. And Revy laughs and sings when she's gunning people down, and nine times out of ten her first recourse is to put a 9mm round in any given problem, but she's one of the protagonists and is shown to have a few standards.
  • Broken Blade's Girge played it straight and full on, complete with Token Evil Teammate, Psycho for Hire, Blood Knight, Broken Ace, Team Killer, Punch-Clock Hero, Faux Affably Evil, Dissonant Serenity, anything else?
  • Bungou Stray Dogs has several, but the most notable one is probably Dazai whose closest thing to a moral compass is a friend's dying request.
  • Played for Drama in Chainsaw Man. While Denji cares for the people around him and tries to keep civilians out of harm's way, the horrific situation the yakuza put him through proves to have greatly desensitized him to the horrors of the world and the job he performs (him being Only in It for the Money also as a result of their abuse) while hurting his ability to empathize with others, something which he struggles with towards the tail end of part one, worried that something's wrong with him. In Part 2, he allows several civilians to die to save a cat simply because it reminded him of Power.
  • The Dragon Ball series has quite a few of these:
    • Piccolo during the Saiyan saga. The original reason he decides to help against Vegeta and Nappa is that if they destroy the Earth, he won't be able to rule it. However, at the end of said arc, Piccolo pulls a full Heel–Face Turn and sacrifices himself for Gohan.
    • During the Namek saga, Vegeta becomes a Token Evil Teammate for Krillin, Gohan, Bulma, Piccolo, and Goku, as he's only helping them so he can gain immortality. Even after the Namek arc, he's still a largely a self-centered sociopath due to his Saiyan tendencies, and it's not until he pulls a Heroic Sacrifice against Buu that he drops the "sociopath" part.
    • In Dragon Ball Super, during the Universal Survival arc, we have Frieza, to the extreme. He's only working with the Universe 7 team because Goku promised Frieza another chance at life. Frieza's first question when asked for this was "Can I kill them?" and when he was denied that (due to Tournament rules), he settled for Cold-Blooded Torture.
    • Also during the Universal Survival arc, we have Jiren of Universe 11. Universe 11's team as a whole is a Super Team, set on the ideals of justice. Jiren, however, seems to be Universe 11's Token Evil Teammate. He shows no mercy towards the Universe 7 team, he mocks Android 17 for his Heroic Sacrifice, and by extension, mocks Goku and Vegeta for relying on said sacrifice. He doesn't care about his Pride Trooper compatriots and openly mocks their leader once he gets knocked out. And he even tries to kill all of Goku's friends and family just to prove that he doesn't need friends for power, though he ends up growing out of this during the climax of the arc. However, this is only consistent in the anime, whereas the manga and Xenoverse tend to bring him under Adaptational Nice Guy.
  • In the Izaya Orihara spin-off from Durarara!!, Izaya himself counts. In Durarara!! he was a Manipulative Bastard, The Sociopath, and a Psychopathic Man Child. However, it is made clear he only helps or hurts people on a whim and is neither good nor evil. Now, the protagonist in his own series, he hasn't changed a bit, for example, after talking a girl down from blowing up a building, he takes the bomb, pins it to the ceiling, and sets it off for fun.
  • Getter Robo pilots Ryoma Nagare and Hayato Jin in several continuities. Jin's first appearance in the original manga is as a violent revolutionary punishing would-be deserters by ripping a man's face off. He mellows a bit as he ages but is still willing to send in his own fiancee as part of a force defusing booby-trapped atomic bombs by trial and error. Ryoma practically lives to fight, though, at the same time, he does care about innocents and does his best to make sure none of them gets hurt. At the very least, he has Moral Sociopathy if nothing else.
  • Alucard from Hellsing (more so in the manga/OVA). He has no regard for human life (though deep down he admires humanity), will kill at any opportunity if allowed, and enjoys the thrill of war. He does at least attempt to limit his body count to those who actually are a part of the battle he's in.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Stone Ocean: Anasui's introduction has Emporio describing how he got into jail by dismembering his girlfriend and the person she was cheating on him with, and the only reason he sticks around the others is because he wants Jolyne's affection.
    • The JoJoLands: Jodio is into crime solely for his own benefit to get "filthy rich", and is willing to sell drugs and pull off heists to reach that goal. A flashback shows Jodio being diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. Fitting with a more realistic depiction of sociopathy, Jodio is less of a conniving emotionless mastermind and more impulsive with an inflated ego.
  • The lead character of MD Geist is somewhere between this and Villain Protagonist. While obviously he's an evil, evil man, he's also the psychotic result of a Super-Soldier program by an off-world human faction, meaning that A: he's programmed to only care about fighting and seek to always have battles to fight, and B: he's still loyal to his creators, who have decided it's best to just scrub all life from the colony world and repopulate it with fresh colonists.
  • Yumeko Jabami of Kakegurui is a deconstruction of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl with a pathological gambling addiction that compels her to risk everything in Absurdly High Stakes Games she usually wins. She's repeatedly dragged her friends into these high-risk games, risking freedom and life itself for a thrill. When confronted about how she's ruined so many lives, she outright admits that she doesn't feel any remorse. She also shares a Red Oni, Blue Oni relationship with her cousin, the Big Bad, and the only real difference between the two is that she has better social skills. At the end of the election arc, she singlehandedly frees all of Kirari's slaves and ends the school's caste system not out of any sort of moral compunction, but simply to get back at Kirari for turning down a gamble with her and raise the stakes by making it so that she has nothing to lose.
  • Wolfgang Grimmer of Monster is a rare example of a hero whose sociopathic traits are shown in a sympathetic light. In spite of his lack of emotion, he is a pretty nice guy who actually performs heroic deeds because he wants to. His "Magnificent Steiner" persona is the more traditional version of this, as it causes him to kill his enemies in a more brutal fashion.
  • Kuroko of Murciélago. While she mostly sticks to killing other serial killers, she has no qualms about doing so.
  • Blake from Pokémon Adventures. While his previous actions (manipulating girls' feelings, giving third parties access to Interpol's info in exchange of equipment, taking away dangerous Pokemon without authorization) foreshadowed he was this, what really confirmed it was when he was willing to push a very damaged Genesect in order to unfreeze the Musketeers, when confronted for the cruelty of this, he answered that he doesn't understand how that is cruel — if Genesect gets hurt he will just heal it. He outright admits that concepts like "fear" and "pity" are unknown to him, shocking Whitley and Kelden the Keldeo, with the latter realizing that he wasn't collected with his emotions like his masters, he just doesn't have any.
  • Kuroi from Thou Shalt Not Die. If you piss him off, or just annoy him, and you are not Mashiro, a quick death is the best you can hope for.
  • Mikoshiba Ryouma of Wortenia Senki is so into this that he bumps up against Villain Protagonist. He only cares about his own well-being, and the twin sister "War slave" sisters he owns, Lara and Sara. He cares not one whit about collateral damage and will do anything and everything he needs to in order to win a fight, except for sacrificing either one or both of Lara and Sara, even going so far as to buy children between 10 and 14 years old, by the thousands, purely to make into soldiers for his army, and cares not a whit about collateral damage. He is considered extremely benevolent by comparison because the world he was dragged to is that much worse!
  • Redo of Healer: Keyaru defeats his enemies by revealing himself to be a Serial Rapist who also indulges in Cold-Blooded Torture and Heel–Face Brainwashing, all with an Evil Laugh. However, each of his enemies is a psychopath that deserves it, and Keyaru himself is loyal to his party as they follow him in their quest to save the world ... through gruesome vengeance!
  • Fran, the 12-year-old deuteragonist of Reincarnated as a Sword is truly dedicated to the forces of good and even has the noble goal of "evolving" so people stop trying to genocide her race. Unfortunately, she needs to be given a reason to not kill people who annoy or antagonize her, and she sees nothing wrong with the liberal use of Cold-Blooded Torture when she's seeking information regarding her current mission. She does have a nice Freudian Excuse that she was kidnapped and put into slavery shortly after her parents died, and was abused for four years, and her targets also prove themselves to be Asshole Victim bastards who deserve no mercy.
  • Cancer Deathmask in Saint Seiya: Episode.G by virtue of being the same evil sadist as in the original series, only this time he's fully on the heroes' side. Best shown when a Giant — a Physical God bent on exterminating mankind for not worshipping him — enters his Temple and is horrified when he sees it's covered by the unresting souls of Deathmask's victims manifesting as wailing faces and calls him out on this, only to get called out on how he is trying to exterminating mankind and added to the collection.

    Comic Books 
  • A depressingly large number of characters in the Astro City "The Dark Age" story arc fall into this trope, especially in the last act.
    • The Pale Horseman incinerates all criminals, whether it's murderers or shoplifting kids.
    • Gloo is a mindless Blob Monster that fights crime by pulling "pranks" on its targets — such as spraying flesh-melting "seltzer" or jamming eight Mooks into a subcompact car. And it treats armed robbery and littering as equivalent crimes...
    • The Blue Knight is a skeletal vigilante who hunts down and kills anyone associated with the criminal underworld, whether it's a mob boss or a Mook fencing stolen goods. He is eventually succeeded by the Blue Knights, a squad of armed vigilantes.
    • Stonecold is a murderous vigilante with rock-solid armor and knuckledusters.
    • Subverted by Hellhound, one of the first Darker and Edgier heroes. Despite having the demonic background, monstrous appearance, torn leather and chains costume, and "edgy" name, is actually a Noble Demon who respected the Silver Agent and is friendly with the old-school heroes.
    • By the end of "The Dark Age", the protagonists Charles and Royal Williams have become this in their obsessive quest to kill the man who murdered their parents.
  • Finesse from Avengers Academy is specifically a sociopath note , unable to comprehend other people's emotions or feel any of her own. Over the course of the series, she learns to decipher how people feel enough to take responsibility for her actions and has developed camaraderie, if not exactly an emotional bond, with her friends. The final issue shows that she is genuinely upset by her inability to connect with others emotionally.
  • In Bloodstrike, the whole second Bloodstrike team is this. They save lives and fight tyranny and evil, but none of them are heroic. Deadlock, for instance, claims to hate himself, and hate everyone else even more.
  • The Scarab, the source of Blue Beetle's powers, will default to lethal force for almost any situation. Thankfully, Jaime keeps it in check. It starts to get better with Jaime's influence.
  • Billy Butcher in The Boys. A violent, unstable, and manipulative expy of The Punisher, as well as a deconstruction of the archetype, showing how seriously messed up someone like this would actually be. He was all but stated to have high-functioning psychopathy, to the point that he would literally dissociate from his actions and go into an Unstoppable Rage when pushed hard enough. He had a strong sense of honor and morality in spite of this and combining the two with his Fantastic Racism against Differently Powered Individuals easily put him on a slippery slope to He Who Fights Monsters. In his own words his wife Becky was the one thing preventing him from ending up a violent thug, and after she was gone he became a Crusading Widow that was driven so far down the Despair Event Horizon he was willing to kill and torture every superhero he could get his hands on all for the sake of his revenge. In the final arc of the series, he goes Jumping Off the Slippery Slope, as the true extent of his Manipulative Bastard tendencies are revealed when he becomes a Team Killer for the sake of his Final Solution against Supes.
  • Brat Pack follows four teen heroes as they're tormented and broken (physically and mentally) by their self-serving, sadistic, psychopathic mentors.
  • Crossed is no stranger to this kind of character, being a series that runs on Black-and-Grey Morality at best, but Richie in Dead or Alive is probably the most textbook example of a sociopath. He claims to have felt nothing at the death of his father, and it's revealed that he also abandoned his fiancée the moment the apocalypse began, with the entire miniseries being about his plans to ditch a group of survivors he's hooked up with to save his skin. He also hits just about every trait of real-world sociopathy, such as Moral Myopia, an inflated sense of self-worth, recklessness, and a willingness to shift blame. This is deconstructed, however, in that his Lack of Empathy isn't treated as something that makes him into a criminal mastermind; rather, he's just an asshole nobody likes. Consequently, his big plan to ditch his fellow survivors fails miserably and leads to them deciding to ditch him instead, which they do with little remorse.
  • Dr. Niles "Chief" Caulder, founder of the Doom Patrol, is a genuinely altruistic man who wants to make the world a better place and help people. He's also a borderline sociopath who will do anything, no matter how ethically questionable, to accomplish his goals. This includes purposefully causing the accidents that gave the team their powers and ruined their lives, so he could craft them into superheroes.
  • Similar to Damian, Sam 13 of Marvel's Earth-65 is the (cloned) descendant of his timeline's Captain America, and while he works for the good guys in S.H.I.E.L.D. as Cap's sidekick, his upbringing as a designer super-soldier didn't come with compassion or respect for human life.
  • The Fixer from Holy Terror. His preferred method of stopping someone? Killing them.
  • Kaine Parker, Spider-Man's self-proclaimed evil clone. While he actually was an evil clone, an assassin, and a classic '90s Anti-Hero for a while, he eventually grew out of it, becoming a reluctant hero, protecting the innocent (and often cussing them out for being so stupid, since he's not exactly Mr. Nice Guy). However, he still has absolutely no compunction of killing or torturing if he deems it necessary - and that's before he gets the ability to transform into a borderline Eldritch Abomination.
  • Griffin (the Invisible Man) and Mr. Hyde in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Griffin commits a Face–Heel Turn. Hyde does not, and takes Griffin's betrayal... Poorly.
  • Luisa Bora in Mercury Heat is explicitly a high-functioning sociopath who is sociopathic enough not to have any problems with torturing and killing people, but still retains enough morality not to want to do it to the innocent. This is why she's on Mercury, as she grew up desperately wanting to be a cop, but her psych profile meant that she had no chance of joining a police force in the more regulated society of Earth.
  • The Punisher is the comic book mascot of this trope. He was, by far, the most popular costumed "superhero" that kills his enemies rather than put them in jail. And he's been doing it way before the Dark Age of Comics.
  • Scott Pilgrim from the eponymous series can come across as this, given that he casually murders people who challenge him to a fight without a second thought.
  • Marv from Sin City is the definition of sociopath, in fact on multiple occasions he describes himself as nothing more than a wild animal. On the other hand, Marv tends to over-exaggerate his foibles because no one ever told him otherwise. He is ugly; therefore he is dumb. He has a mental disorder; therefore he is a psychopath. While Marv relishes committing violence against those who deserve it, he has also come to the aid of innocents, such as a homeless man who was nearly immolated by a street punk.
  • The Transformers (IDW):
    • Prowl bounces in and out of this Depending on the Writer. Even when he's at his nicest, he wants to do good, but tends to approach that in a very cold, calculating, often callous way, preferring to view the war as a game of numbers and strategy; at his worst, he's willing to sanction virtually anything to end the war faster, from political assassination to mind control to war crimes. The fact that the other Autobots tend to be Mildly Military loose cannons and often prioritise individual lives over the broad strategic concerns frustrates him a lot and leads to some degree of table flipping.
    • Brainstorm is a Mad Scientist who technically works for the Autobots, but his submitted inventions tend to fail to pass the ethics committee. Some of them were built specifically to troll said committee. He's able to be kind to his friends, but if you're not on that pretty short list he'll view your death as an opportunity for comedy.
    • The Dinobots can be pretty bad about this, with a particular line in short-sighted violence, but the Wreckers make them look like a petting zoo. You need to be pretty hardened to join up with a black ops suicide squad that will take on the most desperate missions, commit war crimes to do them, and still probably take 60% casualties. Several of them have murder convictions, and when Impactor killed the unarmed, handcuffed Squadron X in cold blood, only Springer lifted a finger to stop him. That being said, some of them (especially Impactor in the Wreckers comics and Whirl over in The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye) do start to get some Character Development and get their houses in order...but, on the other hand, there's Guzzle, the resident Psycho Party Member. By Sins of the Wreckers Guzzle is so uncontrollable Impactor keeps him in a box.
  • Five from The Umbrella Academy almost makes Punisher look humane in this regard as apart saving the world from the apocalypse, he’s a cold blooded monster who barely reacts to the death of Pongo, happily reduces henchmen to Ludicrous Gibs and in epitome of this shoots his Jumped Off The Slippery Slope sister Vanya in the back of head — to the shock of even The Cowl Anti-Hero of the team Diego (though she survives). The reason Five is like this is likely due the fact he time travelled to the Bad Future as a boy and was stuck there for many decades before becoming an assassin for the Time Police so in a sense he’s never really grown up having never learned to grow past the cold arrogance he had as a child something symbolically reflected by the fact he gets stuck in his 10-year old body when returning to the present. The Netflix adaptation however softens Five into a Good Is Not Nice character, who takes no pleasure in killing.
  • Rorschach of Watchmen to an extent. He is more than willing to torture and kill if he believes good will come of it. He is also the target of a large Misaimed Fandom that admires his absolute dedication to his cause.
    Rorschach: Lying. Do it again - break finger. Not joking.
    • Dr. Manhattan and the Comedian also qualify to an extent, but the former more and more so over the course of the story.
    • Ozymandias, as in order to save the world he was willing to kill everyone in Manhattan.

    Fan Works 
  • Checkmate (Anla'Shok) features Wolfe, a District 2 Victor (their second to join the Rebellion) who is actually selected to be a tribute by Mags and Lyme due to the hope that someone of his nature (egotistical, gloating, and a largely remorseless killer) winning the Hunger Games after such a long string of Career victories will embitter the outer Districts and make them more eager to rebel. He does show some Character Development during his Games, coming to care about some of the other tributes. He works dutifully with the Rebellion partially due to liking the sense of importance, partially out of loyalty to Lyme, and partially because It's Personal after what went down in his games. He retains the killer's mentality that saw him through the Hunger Games and has a limited appreciation for the better world they're trying to achieve. Even after surviving the war, he elaborately murders several Capitol citizens involved in using Victors as Sex Slaves and kidnaps Katniss largely just as an "audition" to the security forces so that they'll be convinced to give him a job as a Boxed Crook and give him something meaningful and stimulating to do.
  • Child of the Storm and its sequel have it become increasingly obvious that Peter Wisdom a.k.a. Regulus Black, the ruthless Director of MI13, is an example of this trope, being every bit as ruthless as the things and people he opposes, it being made abundantly clear that he's willing to do anything in defence of his country. Multiple characters remark after meeting him that there's something thoroughly unnerving about him. His status as this, though, is cemented when he bluntly states to Thor that the sole reason he's going along with the Avengers plan to send Harry back to Hogwarts as part of his recovery following what the Red Room did to him and his resultant bout of Dark Phoenix mania, when he is potentially literally too dangerous to live, is not because he's feeling nice. It's because he's decided that it's the best of a bad bunch of options: this way, he can actually affect the outcome, and because putting a bullet in Harry's head wouldn't work - and if he thought it was necessary, and that it would work, he'd do it in a heartbeat (though he does admit that he'd feel guilty).
  • Directly played through with Mercury in the A dance of Shadow and Light series by Ocadioan, where the author himself even states in an AN that Mercury is, at his best, a temporary sociopath, whom the author himself would fear if he was ever to find himself in a position of power with lands and titles.
    • It certainly comes to show after the big reveal in the first story, wherein it is revealed that Mercury was perfectly willing to betray every “friend” and ally that he had made up until that point in order to kill Galbatorix with plan B: nuking the Capital, which he knows would have killed quite a large proportion of the countryside as well.
      • He is somewhat justified in taking it up to this level, as this was his plan B, just in case the Varden and other races failed with plan A (and would, therefore, be dead anyway), and considering that he was the seemingly the only one thinking of what were to happen if plan A failed, one can’t blame him for thinking ahead.
    • It becomes worse in the second story, where his flashbacks show him not only killing and mentally breaking a father in front of his wife and children (who btw have been tied up with nooses around their necks), but also killing off the rest of the family after he offs the father. He Who Fights Monsters indeed, especially when considering that he is doing all of this in a war against The Black Hand. He also gets extra points for offing his old love interest, manipulating the female protagonist and caring more about getting his personal revenge against a shade that destroyed his home and killed his pets than the lives of those that could be saved if he just played along with the dragon riders and let them do the deed.
  • Daisy describes Mario as a "sociopath" in A Game of Castles. He thinks that he's dreaming, so he doesn't take anything seriously while out to Save the Princess.
  • The Night Unfurls: Kyril Sutherland is too brusque and frosty to be some superficially charming liar, but as the story progresses, he seems to be headed to this archetype due to him routinely dealing unusually cruel deaths, utilising the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique, and killing prisoners with a callousness that blots out any shred of mercy or guilt. Capped off with how absolutely driven Kyril is in ridding the country of traitor influence, even if it means brutally quashing a Staged Populist Uprising while disregarding the shock that accompanies it, it looks like he would become a "murdering psychopath", as per Claudia's words. Come Chapter 26, where Kyril proceeds to disprove that claim in his campaign to deal with the Arc Villain Grishom. Contrary to the expectation where he would impulsively strike out on his own and torture the target to death, Kyril conducts a plan with his company (whom he is on good terms with) to bring Grishom to custody (i.e., dealing with him legitimately instead of killing him at the spot, because he will eventually die, with or without Kyril's blade), indicating that this man isn't one for impulsivity, stimulation, or irresponsibility.
  • Of Sheep and Battle Chicken: While many of the heroic characters qualify to one degree or another, Liara easily wins the crown for her actions after Shepard's death. She indirectly or directly kills thousands of innocents in her quest to find the Shadow Broker... and no longer cares.
  • The Saint Seiya/The Rising of the Shield Hero crossover The Hero Melromarc Needs and Deserves has Cancer Deathmask cast in Naofumi's place. Considering how he is in Saint Seiya and he was summoned from well before he received his slice of Humble Pie, he becomes this simply by deciding to help-while still considering killing everyone in Melromarc's capital if the king continues with his condescending attitude.
  • In Thousand Shinji, Shinji, Asuka, and Rei are jerkass anti-heroes. Shinji showed no sympathy towards other people unless or until they became family or friends. Even so, he manipulates everyone, including those he cares for. Admittedly, he's pretty open about it (Asuka and Rei know that he both uses them and loves them), and he became somewhat more considerate and more compassionate at the end.
  • The Victors Project: It's hard to tell if Jade Boelyn is this or just putting on a good front. She is a dedicated Rebel, determined not to let anyone else she could save die, and does feel a sense of loss for various victors killed in the war, but looks back relatively fondly on her own Games (how she looks, some of her kill methods, etc.). And then there's how, at the age of ten, she once helped her future Ermine Mentor kill the Academy of Evil's resident Girl Posse (who'd murdered Ermine's friend), largely on a whim and watched with a smile.
  • Wilhuff Tarkin, Hero of the Rebellion builds up on Ferren Barr's canon characterization to make him into this and well known as such among the Jedi Order, to the point they had selected the Hyperionian as his Master specifically because they knew he'd be able to keep his tendencies in check.
  • Xellos is portrayed this way in author Prime Minister's epic series about the relationship between him and Lina Inverse. He shows no love or empathy towards others, except Lina and the children they eventually have together.

    Films — Animated 
  • Gamma Jack, a hero mentioned in disc 2 of the DVD for The Incredibles is indicated to have been one of these. His file reveals that he was a narcissistic womanizer who prioritized saving women over others ("tubby Joe Schmoe with a raygun pointed at his head might have to wait in line") and that he was perfectly willing to use lethal force against villains. He was also a Super Supremacist.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Riddick from The Chronicles of Riddick series. He certainly has nothing against killing when it benefits him, but would rather be left alone and wipe his hands of the entire human race that way. He was even willing to let the entire universe be destroyed simply because it wasn't his fight. Just make sure you mind the children. Lookin' at you, Johns.
  • Mouse from Devil in a Blue Dress is an unhinged and murderous thug whose go-to response to any sort of threat or backtalk is to shoot whoever pissed him off. He's only helping to fight the villains because his best friend Easy needs help, even as Easy desperately tries to stop him from indiscriminately torturing or killing anyone in their way.
  • If Snake Plissken gives even a fraction of a damn about the people who die helping him, he certainly doesn't show it. Early in the first film, Snake coldly averts Always Save the Girl walking straight past a drugged out woman about to be raped by a bunch vagrants without so much as a look of concern.
  • Even when saving the Earth, Godzilla has shown himself to be very ruthless and brutal in his methods, though he subverts the trope in that he actually has some altruistic qualities.
  • James Bond might well be the most iconic example of this in film. While technically he is The Hero of the franchise and repeatedly saves the world on the behalf of MI6 and England, anyone who barely mourns at loss of the woman he’s slept with before moving onto another one, brutally kills thousands of henchmen and happily throws villains in various death traps and heavy machinery before cracking wise can easily classified as a sociopath something multiple of the actors who have portrayed him agree with. Worth noting this is a marked difference between the literary and film Bond, in the books Bond while very much of his time doesn’t actually like killing and does have the capacity for compassion and grief as seen with Vesper and Tracy. However Sean Connery’s portrayal (the most famous one) set the standard for Bond being a cold-hearted cad so this trope got cemented with Bond.
    • Subverted with George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig’s bond who are Truer to the Text in this regard. While still ruthless, their Bonds can still display genuine care for their loved ones and other humanising traits like the book version. The Craig version especially, although in many ways is the most violent and sociopathic Bond is the only one who’s been shown crying and by time of No Time to Die has found something a family that truly brings out humanity in him, though he’s bewildered and frightened by the prospect.
    • Also downplayed with Sir Roger Moore’s Bond while largely emotionally unattached like Connery’s he was still significantly nicer and more gentlemanly which is why the edgier Timothy Dalton Bond was so jarring for audiences at the time.
    • Damme Judi Dench’s M is a pretty big example of this in the Craig era, as she repeatedly invokes The Needs of the Many and treats Bond’s grief-sticken assurance that he’ll never trust again at the end of Casino Royale after Vesper’s death as him having “learned his lesson”. Deconstructed in Skyfall as M’s poor lack of compassion towards her own agents is a driving force behind the Big Bad Silva’s motivation to kill her after M abandoned him, with her “Regret is unprofessional” line understandably being a Berserk Button for him. To her credit M by the end while dying in Bond’s arms is genuinely regretful of the choices she’s made in her career and glad for what humanity 007 still possess feeling she “did get something right”.
  • Zig-zagged in the film adaptation of The Keep. There's a lot of toning down of the character of Glaeken. He still comes off as being an emotionally disconnected and kind of creepy individual, but the only person he directly murders besides the Big Bad is a nameless Nazi soldier, although he does so with surprising ferocity and the guy's only real crime (outside of, y'know, being a Nazi) was he wouldn't stop attempting to grab Glaeken's arm. Seems like a considerably minor offense to deserve being chucked down a gorge. They did film the scene from the book where Glaeken murders Carlos for betraying him, but it was cut (possibly in an effort to avert this very trope).
  • To an extent, The Bride from Kill Bill. When she's under a truth serum from Bill, she admits that she genuinely enjoys killing and maiming people. In fact, what stops her from being a downright Villain Protagonist "in the present" (she was after all a contract killer for most of her life so she used to be killing people for money) is the relative Heel–Face Turn she went through upon finding out she was pregnant, and her very deserved revenge.
  • Richard Chance from To Live and Die in L.A. could count. He is impulsive, treats his CI/friend with benefits Ruth like crap, and robs an undercover FBI agent to finance his own sting against Rick Masters.
  • Ferdinand in Pierrot Le Fou by Jean-Luc Godard. He is a perfectly normal if somewhat tired bourgeois in the beginning but after being fed up by the shallowness of his society, he goes on a rampage with his kids' nanny showing no trace of empathy towards other people except his new flame.
  • A plot point in SAS: Rise of the Black Swan. Tom Buckingham is an SAS operator who's a high-functioning psychopath, who gets in a "Die Hard" on an X situation against Grace Lewis, a mercenary Distaff Counterpart. Their mutual psychopathy is played for Deliberate Values Dissonance and Birds of a Feather.
  • In Wild Wind, Okati shoots German prisoners at every opportunity.
  • The World of Kanako: Akikazu is a violent, alcoholic, abusive ex-cop who beats up and tortures anybody who is in his way and sexually assaults women when he's drunk. However, he still is disgusted by some of the worst acts of the other characters.
  • Billy the Kid in Young Guns consistently behaves like one. He is excited every time there is bloodshed, and kills perhaps more people than any of his companions, often ignoring the original plan they agreed on just so he can kill more opponents.

    Fairy Tales 
  • Let's face it, the heroes of MANY fairy tales behave this way, killing, lying, and stealing their way to fame and fortune, often with no better excuse than "that guy deserved it". Jack (from Jack and the Beanstalk), for example, commits multiple burglaries and then murders the person coming to reclaim their stolen property. The musical Into the Woods deconstructs this story, among many others.

  • Several characters in Peter Watts's Blindsight; most prominently Jukka Sarasti, a potential murderer, a sociopathic vampire, but one who leads the crew against impossible odds, and who is possibly going out of his way not to offend their sensibilities.
  • Severian the Torturer from the Book of the New Sun series by Gene Wolfe. His values are so far astern from the reader's sensibilities that he sometimes comes across as shockingly cruel. In some instances, it seems he is ambiguous when describing events that are of great moral relevance to the reader, apparently because he sees no ethical dilemma in them. He shows a mixture of traits, some of which may be sociopathic, others of which may indicate a place on the autism spectrum.
    • Partly this is due to Severian having been raised as a Torturer from infancy, and partly it is due to his status as a mnemonist. Having studied Abnormal Psychology at Miami University, Wolfe was likely aware of the case history of a real-life mnemonist (known as "S") who displayed a passive-receptive attitude, and a wealth of thought and imagination contrasting with a surprising lack of intellect. These traits are a significant plot point, with Severian unable to join the dots to see how he is being manipulated, distracting the reader with flights of fancy, and, in true Wolfeian style, leaving the reader to figure out the true story.

  • Like his television version, Dexter Morgan in Darkly Dreaming Dexter and subsequent novels self-identifies as a violent sociopath. His foster father trained him to kill other violent criminals in order to channel use of violent urges in a "positive" manner.
  • Wyre in Dark Heart is a powerful and skilled bodyguard, but also a ruthless sadist who enjoys killing. This eventually becomes a problem for the other protagonists.
  • The Dog Stars: After the End, the main character Higs has a partnership with Bangley, a sociopathic gun-nut who lives for nothing besides killing. Higs does all the practical work, while Bangley protects them.

  • Amos Burton, from The Expanse. He's well aware that he's not right in the head, but he doesn't quite understand why, so he tries to find someone with a conscience and use them as a guide. In Nemesis Games, when he's separated from the rest of his crew, he starts slipping back into full-blown sociopathy.

  • Lord Asriel from His Dark Materials truly wishes to bring freedom to all worlds and defeat the Authority, but he’s utterly ruthless and willing to destroy anything and anyone to accomplish his goals, to the point that for much of the series, he’s a villain in his own right. As far as he’s concerned, no price or crime is off the table when it comes to freedom, and everything he does in freedom’s name is justified. Even when he and the heroes end up working together, none of them like or trust him.
  • How to Be a Superhero offers several examples and recommendations, most notably The Castrator, a man in spiked body armor who wields a bloody chainsaw.

  • John Cleaver from I Am Not a Serial Killer is actually a clinically diagnosed sociopath.

  • Kullervo from The Kalevala is one of the best examples. His Evil Uncle Untamo kills Kullervo's tribe and failing to kill Kullervo due to his magic, raises him badly, leaving Kullervo impulsive, cruel, and mentally ill. For example, when his Uncle tells him to look after a baby, he tortures and kills the child for no reason. When he avenges the murder of his tribe he apparently kills Untamo's entire tribe. Kullervo ends up Driven to Suicide after finding his family dead.
  • Glaeken Trismegestus in The Keep. While not an actual sociopath (i.e. not suffering from any particular mental illness), he has lived for so long as an immortal on the fringes of human society and keeps himself from forming emotional bonds when he'll inevitably have to leave the person or outlive them, so he finds killing people very easy to do, and does so without remorse multiple times. When Carlos - the captain of the ship taking him from Greece to Romania - betrays him, Glaeken does initially let him live, but unfortunately, the guy has Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, forcing Glaeken to kill him not even two sentences later. He also rather cold-bloodedly murders the Romanian soldiers at the border, though since they're collaborators working with the Nazis, it's hardly as if they're undeserving victims. This is toned down in the film.
  • Winston, a member of The Squad in the later books of The Lightbringer Series is heavily implied to be this. It's noted that he can make shots no one can because he'll take shots no one else will. For example, at an assassin fleeing across a crowded ballroom. Later, he's explicitly said to be unable to feel certain emotions, which makes him immune to certain forms of emotion-affecting magic.
  • Zack State, the main character of The Mental State, is this from a certain perspective. Despite having the emotionlessness, ruthlessness, deviousness, and manipulative guile one would expect from a sociopath, he also has a specific moral code that means he can only inflict misery on people he judges as being worthy of it. His brutality manifests as either tough love or karmic punishment. He uses cunning and manipulation to turn the prison into his own version of a dictatorship. Luckily, he has an extremely liberal approach to handling prisoners and even succeeds in causing many of them to reform. It is hard to tell whether his actions are motivated by his sense of morality or just another means of improving his position. However, there are subtle hints that he genuinely cares for the other inmates on some level and is even cured of his sociopathy at the end of the story.
  • Kelsier in Mistborn: The Original Trilogy is, by Word of God, a clinical psychopath. Luckily for the world, he directs his psychopathy at slaughtering the evil nobles and overthrowing the Final Empire. By the end of the first book, he is being worshipped as a Crystal Dragon Jesus.

  • Joy Phim is a perfect example of this trope in the Never Again series. When we first meet her, she mentions her skill with weapons and lovingly describes how swiftly she can kill someone with her martial arts. When training John in their use, she says that it's actually best to kill one's enemy instead of incapacitating them, even though this goes against the code of nearly every martial artist. If one still had any doubts as to her nature, she sulks in her room whenever John hires a criminal syndicate to do their dirty work instead of letting Joy kill their targets herself — that's right, she throws a tantrum if she doesn't get to kill someone. The only reason John and the Society even put up with her is that their enemies are the worst dictators of the twentieth century.

  • Peter Pan: Peter spends an awful lot of his time killing off pirates, and often is willing to put his friends in danger simply because it would be interesting or even funny. This is because of the basic nature of his character; being a child forever, he's inherently selfish and often amoral. It is mentioned that during the fights between the Lost Boys and the pirates, if the pirates seem to be at a disadvantage, Peter will join their side to even things out. That's right, he will happily fight and kill his friends just because it's more of a challenge. Evidently, Lost Boys come and go, and Peter doesn't have any real interest in keeping track of them.
  • "The Power and the Passion": the viewpoint character in this Pat Cadigan short story is a violent, criminal sociopath who liked doing terrible things to people and is fine with doing them to vampires instead. Among his gifts for this task is — he claims — that one monster has an easy time recognising another on sight.

  • This was part of Ayn Rand's Signature Style:
    • John Galt of Atlas Shrugged — the man who has never experienced "fear or pain or guilt". This is supposed to be a good thing.
    • Howard Roark of The Fountainhead blows up an apartment building because his designs weren't followed to the letter. Both of these characters are portrayed positively.

  • This is how Takeshi Kovacs views himself. Several times, he describes the traits needed to qualify for Envoy training as "psychopathic tendencies and a sense of team spirit", at least one of which he had instilled during his time in the military. While he has enough of a conscience to Pet the Dog for those who he feels to be the victims, he has no problem with permakilling or torturing anyone who interferes with his goals.
  • Okonkwo from Things Fall Apart is more sociopathic than hero at times. He executes his adopted son and gets convicted for murder and arson, the arson being for burning down a church (Which was a stand against colonialism, but still...)

  • Sgt. Bothari in Vorkosigan Saga is a multiple rapist and murderer, who gets sexually excited by killing and when watching a pregnant prisoner be abused by her captors. Knowing this, he depends on the structure of his military service and the guidance of the lord and lady he serves to show him what is right and what is wrong.
    • To be fair, the only crimes he is known to have committed were while under orders, and all but one were after he had been deliberately driven insane by torture and drugs by his commander. He may have committed others before he placed himself under orders in order to let others make decisions he knew he could not.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Dexter Morgan, in the TV show Dexter, is a prime example. A Serial Killer (albeit of other killers) who has to emulate emotions to go unnoticed by others, and is only motivated by his urge to kill. He is actually diagnosed as a psychopath by a psychologist who knows his true nature late in the show.
  • The Doctor occasionally is this in Doctor Who:
    • The First Doctor started out like this. He held some meaningful ideals but genuinely did not understand or care about other people's feelings, being happy to openly lie to them and play them against each other to follow his own goals, which were mostly just to be able to do whatever he wanted For Science!. He kidnaps people, gets them into trouble for his own amusement, constantly accuses them of trying to steal from him, and at one point he even tries to murder a person for no reason beyond paranoia, while at the same time using a paper-thin veneer of doddery-old-man in order to make himself look weak and innocent whenever he has to. His granddaughter is something of a Morality Pet but even though she loves him she is obviously terrified of him, often more than she is of the monsters, and weeps openly in fear of repercussions whenever she tries to persuade him to do something for her. He gets some Character Development, though — Ian and Barbara manage to drum some basic manners into him, and although he starts out with No Social Skills and occasionally slips back into treating his companions like dirt (although apologizing for it afterwards), by "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" he's declared himself a defender of the weak and by "The Time Meddler" he chooses to punish someone in a devastating but pointedly non-fatal way.
    • The most blatant example of the Doctor as this trope was the Seventh Doctor. Several episodes, particularly in his later two seasons, were devoted to him caring only about winning, above all else (this is particularly true in "The Curse of Fenric").
    • The later regenerations of the Doctor constantly struggle against becoming this. During "The Waters of Mars", the Tenth Doctor ends up going so completely off the deep end, he briefly styles himself as "The Time Lord Victorious" and is willing to break time itself in half to save people, even if they don't want him to.

  • The Korean drama I Remember You plays with this. In the first few episodes, we hear about this murderer, and seeing a flashback of the person assisting the case, we believe that he might be the killer until it becomes clear that this is just the dad's misunderstanding (the older brother is an Emotionless Guy and the apparently normal younger brother is actually the likely killer). To make matters worse, the dad — fearful of his son becoming a killer — locks one kid downstairs to try to teach him right and wrong, and neglects the other one.

  • Kamen Rider:
    • Tsukasa Kadoya, the titular character of Kamen Rider Decade, is more than willing to troll, manipulate and just generally be unpleasant, although his friends usually act as his moral compass. Most of the show is driven by the question of whether he is ultimately a hero or a Villain Protagonist.
    • Kamen Rider Geats: The titular Rider himself, while on the surface Ace is an active team player looking after the well-being of his fellow Riders and is able to show a degree of care and affection towards people, but on the flip side, is a textbook sociopath. He is a charismatic smooth talker, has a limited emotional affect that has nothing to do with his own, a need for stimulation, and consistently manipulates anyone to get ahead in the game.

  • Person of Interest has a few.
    • Most notably Sameen Shaw, an actual diagnosed sociopath (specifically, she has an Axis II personality disorder) who works with Team Machine, pretty much because she has nothing better to do. She still has a strong moral centre, however, and despite never expressing any genuine empathy at any time, still has a few tender moments and a soft spot for Bear.

  • The main character of Revenge. She proves several times over that she is willing to steamroll innocents to get what she wants.

  • Jake Fitzgerald, a supporting character in Scream: The TV Series is one, as he has little motive for wanting the blackmail money, he shows No Sympathy when his friends end up dead, and he is perfectly willing to lie and manipulate Brooke into trusting him but hating Will. Still, he supports Brooke when her friend died and risks his life to save his friend. In the end, he is one of the good guys and not a Serial Killer, but still has his issues.
  • The quote supplier, the title character from Sherlock, admits he is this. Sherlock has all the classic signs of a fictional sociopath: a general lack of empathy; self-centered behavior; total disregard for laws; and regular use of fake charm, lies, and manipulation to achieve his goals. Ultimately subverted, however, since when push comes to shove Sherlock really does care about his friends. It's suggested that Sherlock has tried to mold his mind into sociopathic thought patterns in order to function better as a detective.
    Sherlock: I'm not a psychopath, Anderson, I'm a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research.
    • In "His Last Vow", this is averted in an Ironic Echo:
      Magnussen: No chance for you to be a hero this time, Mr. Holmes.
      Sherlock: Oh, do your research. I'm not a hero, I'm a high-functioning sociopath. Merry Christmas!

  • In Sons of Anarchy, this applies to pretty much everyone in SAMCRO. Tig is the leading example in the early episodes, but he's overpaced by Happy. While the club watches an IRA member torture a traitor, most are shown to be either stoic or disturbed by the display. Happy is smiling.
  • Supernatural: Season 6 gives us Soulless Sam Winchester, who completely lacks the sensitivity and empathy of his ensouled counterpart. The season explores whether the soulless, sociopathic Sam is, in fact, a more effective monster hunter than his often guilt-ridden counterpart.
  • All of the Terminators in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles count here. Catherine Weaver coldly dispatches a factory full of people, murders a guy who called her a bitch, and plans to murder Ellison. Yet she's attempting to build something to counter Skynet. Cameron frequently kills people (such as Enrique) who threaten the mission, without so much as a blink at the ramifications. Derek is also an example when he kills Andy Good without showing much emotion and shoots the fellow in the alley without a second thought. He doesn't appear to have so much as a bad dream about it, despite being a Shell-Shocked Veteran. Perhaps all the violence he's seen has fried his empathy circuits.
  • Damon in The Vampire Diaries, when the mood strikes him.

    Mythology and Religion 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted:
    • A character with Compassion 1 can be played like this.
    • Alchemicals with high Clarity are explicitly spelled out as not examples — they're emotionless, not wantonly cruel — but those infected by Gremlin Syndrome may well attempt to continue fighting the good fight even as their condition instills a psychotic desire to destroy and maim.
    • Infernals who take enough Ebon Dragon Charms can easily become virtue-stripped sociopaths who have to actively resist the urge to flip out and ruin people's happiest memories, but they remain playable and capable of perverse nobility even as they're wrecking lives left, right and centre.
  • The Wayward creed from Hunter: The Reckoning cannot turn off their second sight, so they see the monsters that walk amongst humanity 24/7. They also have no empathy for the masses. Their fight against the supernatural does not care about collateral damage: if a Wayward thinks the most efficient way to kill a vampire that controls a local business is to bomb the building while he's inside (along with all of the innocent employees), then he'll bring it down. The iconic Wayward, God 45, is implied to have stolen a nuclear weapon during the Time of Judgment.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Grimdark as it is, this is the norm.
    • One of the requirements for Space Marine candidates is a near-psychotic willingness to kill, as killing is pretty much what he'll be doing for the rest of his life. There's two important caveats to the "psychotic willingness" part, though: first is that the Space Marines are disciplined soldiers who must treat psychosis as a tool, and secondly they know full well "psychotic" is relative, so they prefer to recruit from planets where death is a normal part of daily life, even at a young age, in order to mitigate the shock.
    • Inquisitors, particularly the more extreme ones, make Marines look like cuddly puppies. A Space Marine has to be willing to kill a man, should it become necessary. An Inquisitor has to be willing to kill a planet.
    • All of this is a consequence of the God-Emperor himself being completely detached from mortals through Blue-and-Orange Morality. He cares for humanity in general and wants it to prosper, but he's completely incapable of relating to people on an individual level as he genuinely doesn't understand them and that they may not understand his methods because he won't give them the proper context.

    Video Games 
  • While the original Vault Hunters of Borderlands toed the line (especially Brick), most of the new Vault Hunters in the sequel qualify big time. Axton is a Glory Hound who committed treason against his superiors and purposefully puts his allies in danger just so he can look like a badass, Salvador has way too much fun slaughtering his way across Pandora, and Zer0 is a Blood Knight assassin who will kill anyone if the price and challenge is right. Even Maya and Gaige, easily the most moral of the new Vault Hunters, are more than willing to viciously taunt their enemies, making Maya a Type 2 antiheroine with hints of Type 3 and Gaige a Type 3.

  • 60% of what makes Deponia's main protagonist Rufus unlikable is his jerkass personality. 40% is the fact that he solves half of his problems by blowing stuff up. Or setting up a domino effect. Or even killing people.
  • Morrigan of Dragon Age: Origins is one of the Stupid Evil variants: her answer to everything tends to be "Eh, we don't need to help them, let's just kill everyone." This has at least some justification since her only social interaction for most of her life came from her mother, who might have intentionally crippled her emotionally in order to make her easier to eventually possess.
    • The Warden can be played as such, which actually resonates with their entire order. Depersonalization is one of the reasons why the Wardens are such effective warriors, as we are often reminded the Grey Wardens can and will do whatever it takes to defeat the Darkspawn. Even if it means razing a city to the ground to save the people within.
    • The Legion of the Dead is also comprised at least partially of this. Exiles, criminals, murderers, and even rapists from Orzammar are accepted as members, who hold their own funerals when they join, consider themselves dead, and are willing to spend their last days waging guerrilla warfare and full head-on assaults against the Darkspawn horde.
  • Drakengard:
    • In the first game, it's clear that Caim is only after The Empire for his own revenge: That they happen to be the ones trying to summon Elder Evils from beyond the Veil to destroy reality itself is incidental to him. He kicks enough dogs during the events of the first game to fill a small cart, butchers his way through several armies (some of which contain Child Soldiers) with a Slasher Smile on his face, and even his human-hating dragon companion finds his shenanigans a bit over-the-top.
    • Averted in the second game. Not because Caim has had a change of heart, just that the new main character Nowe is on the receiving end of his bad side.

  • The Elder Scrolls:
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: Crown and Fool are only heroes by virtue of being leased to fight for the good guys. They are a pair of completely sadistic Monster Clown who only participate for the opportunity to enact more violence, and don't even discriminate if a friendly unit gets caught in the area of effect of their attacks. The heroes are even given a whistle that will pacify them on the non-zero chance that they decide to turn on the team.

  • Reaver from Fable fits this trope to a tee. In Fable 2, he's explicitly described as "The Hero of Skill", and yet he carries out so many evil actions that you are left wondering exactly how he's supposed to be better than the designated villain Lucien. In both games, you have to keep him as an ally! The reason that so many players wanted to kill him include:
    • Continuously sacrificing villagers from Oakvale to maintain his youth.
    • Pretending to help the Hero of Bowerstone but instead trying to sacrifice them to maintain his youth.
    • Betraying the Hero again by deciding to collect the bounty Lucien has put on him.
    • Killing the lovable inventor Barnum when Reaver discovers it will take three months to "developorise" his photograph.
    • If the player waits too long, killing Lucien and depriving the player of the revenge they have waited years for.
    • Returning in Fable 3 as the evil, exploitative and cruel ruler of Bowerstone Industrial, where he shoots dissidents and happily uses child labour.
    • Sicking various horrible creatures on the player as part of his Wheel of Misfortune.
    • Compulsorily becoming the player's royal advisor and advocating all manner of nasty schemes.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Karel fits this trope in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, where he was a massive Blood Knight known as the Sword Demon who eventually rediscovers a part of his humanity through his supports. In Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade, his Older and Wiser self is the famed Saint of Swords or Sword Saint and acts much calmer.
    • Henry from Fire Emblem: Awakening joins Chrom's Badass Crew solely to get to fight against a more powerful army. From then, on he gets massive kicks out of tearing through enemy lines and using Gallows Humor in many of his interactions with others.
    • By the second half of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Dimitri has degenerated from a Knight in Shining Armor to one of these. He is completely obsessed with getting revenge on Edelgard for starting a world war and (allegedly) killing his loved ones, he's completely unconcerned about his own people, he shows disturbing signs of sadistic tendencies, and the only reason he maintains player sympathy is that he has the Sympathetic P.O.V. and he genuinely didn't start the conflict he's embroiled in.

  • Kratos from God of War. In some games he's a somewhat-tragic Byronic Hero, in others he's just a rampaging deicide machine, but no matter what he's on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and anyone in his way is going to be splattered on the walls, regardless of consequences.
  • The villains of Golden Sun, Saturos and Menardi, just utterly revel in this trope. On one hand, they're on a quest to save their village and the entire world by igniting the four Elemental Lighthouses, but on the other hand, they are absolute sociopathic dicks. Some of their antics include beating a pair of kids to near death for eavesdropping on them, not caring in the least that they destroyed the protagonist's hometown note  kicking a tree into the river they know is actually a cursed (and still conscious) human, beating everyone at Venus Lighthouse to near-deathnote , and overall just thoroughly enjoying every bit of it. Saturos has at least some standards, as he maintains an air of Affable Evil and even scolds Menardi for threatening Felix at one point, but Menardi is a complete bastard who's in it For the Evulz.

  • Halo:
    • The Spartan-IIs are said to have "mild sociopathic tendencies" due to their years of being formed into killing machines, though it's shown throughout the series that the Spartans do care about others, with Jorge-052 at one point even going out of his way to comfort a civilian stranger who just lost her father.
    • Dr. Halsey, creator of the original Spartan-IIs, has elements of this. She kidnapped children and subjected them to grueling training as well as physical augmentations that left many of them crippled or worse. Even the secretive and manipulative AI Assembly, despite approving of her work, though that she might have had an "undiagnosed, undocumented, or deliberately obfuscated chemical imbalance" in her neural system. While she does feel a great deal of guilt about her role in all of this (as does Cortana, an AI clone of her brain), she expresses absolutely none of it in public and remains adamant that it was necessary, even after ONI (the people who approved the entire project in the first place) arrest her to use as a scapegoat.
    • The Office of Naval Intelligence (the aforementioned ONI) is basically an entire agency made up of these; apart from green-lighting SPARTAN-II in the first place, they also approved SPARTAN-III (which, despite absolutely zero involvement from Halsey, still used children, but as suicide super soldiers; the two Spartans we've seen who actually play this trope straight, Emile-A239 and Jonah, are both IIIs), experimenting on prisoners with the galaxy-destroying Flood virus, sabotaging the one major post-Covenant faction who supports humanity's right to exist (and strengthening the anti-human factions in the process), secretly sacrificing an entire colony to capture a Covenant ship, etc.
    • James Ackerson, head of SPARTAN-III, is a good individual example of an ONI sociopath; despite a distinguished record both on and off the field (even using his last moments in life to help save Cleveland from a Covenant attack), he also often prioritizes his personal ambition over the greater good, to the point where he actually tried to get the Master Chief himself killed in a training accident on Reach when the Covenant were already attacking the planet.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn has the Carja bandit hunter Nil. Why does he hunt bandits? Well, killing ordinary folk would get him sent to prison or executed, killing animals for fun instead of for food and other resources is frowned upon, and killing machines is not fun because they don't suffer. But he is straight-up commended for killing bandits, so that's what he does.

  • Legacy of Kain: Kain really is a sociopathic hero, in that he was afflicted with some kind of mental illness seconds after he was born, making him megalomaniacal, anti-social (in the psychological sense of the term), and incapable of empathy. However, despite being a Villain Protagonist, he's the only real hope Nosgoth's got. Him being afflicted by said mental illness was deliberately planned on the part of his adversaries, setting up so that the cause for said mental illness would occur just as Kain was born. What's more is that at the end of Defiance, it is implied Kain was purified of it, and that he was now on the road to becoming a more traditional Anti-Hero - though due to the series being Left Hanging, it's left unanswered.

  • Mass Effect 2 has the Bounty Hunter and Punch-Clock Hero mercenary Zaeed. While he doesn't exactly always propose Murder Is the Best Solution, he probably wouldn't be against suggestions for it, though he makes clear at a few points that he has standards nonetheless. The same game features Jack, a biotic Tyke Bomb who's been so abused and beaten that at this point the only pleasure she finds anymore is in killing. It helps that the men who trained her would torture her any time she showed mercy, and inject her with drugs to get her to associate pleasure with killing.
  • Raiden from the Metal Gear series was a child soldier in Liberia since 1989. He seems to be harmless in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty but in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has him going back to his sociopathic, more psychopathic persona as a major plot point later on. However Raiden was hell-bent on saving the children from being forced into being killer cyborgs since he wants to prevent them from experiencing the same horrific childhood he had.
  • Guybrush Threepwood, especially in Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, where just about everything he does, from stealing to framing people to blatantly cheating at things, is a jerkass move.

  • OFF: You may think that the Batter is doing the NPCs a favor by ridding the zones of the spectres they fear, but as the game progresses it becomes ever more clear just how little he cares for their existence.

  • A common interpretation of the Persona 3 and (to a lesser degree) 4 protagonists - to max out Social links (and to attain power) the protagonists are capable of tailoring their personalities to be whatever is needed by the subject, in order to be loved and trusted. They're also capable of dating about every single girl in the game, at the same time, with no qualms at all - with the third game's male protagonist being required to do this to achieve full completion.
    • However, in Persona 4 Golden, dating more than one girl (with the exception of Marie) will force you to reject all but one of them in a continuous series of fully voice-acted scenes, and the game will call you out for adultery.
    • It helps that in Persona 3, the only way to complete Social links with girls is to romance them, so if you wanted to get 100% completion, you had to cheat on everyone. Persona 4 introduced non-romantic resolutions to the girls' social links, thus removing the issue somewhat.
    • All that being said, the Velvet Room attendants and Igor make it clear that the types of shallow relationships that a sociopath would form does nothing for the growth of your personas. Growing your social link is impossible without forming genuine bonds, so this might be subverted.
  • Alex Mercer from [PROTOTYPE] is a very complex case, but he ends up being well-intentioned in the end, saving New York from destruction. It doesn't prevent him from being an Axe-Crazy Psycho Prototype who savagely kills his enemies, consumes people (though the player can choose whether to eat civilians or not), and has a hard backstory behind him. By the time the second game rolls around he's definitely no longer a hero - but no longer a sociopath, either.

  • Red Dead Redemption II: Depending on how you play with Arthur Morgan, and if you are sadistic enough to perform acts of senseless violence ala Grand Theft Auto, Arthur may very well be the poster boy of this trope. He could even mention that he might be going Ax-Crazy and feeling like he's not even in control of his own body anymore.

  • The Boss from Saints Row. Although they prefer the term "puckish rogue".
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: E-123 Omega was the last of Eggman's E-100 series, never even getting a chance to fight Sonic before Eggman began rolling out the E-1000 series. And he's pretty pissed at Doctor Eggman for this, and has made it his sole purpose in life to destroy Eggman's creations to prove his superiority. By sole virtue of the fact that Eggman is a villain, this makes him a hero.

  • Jade Curtiss from Tales of the Abyss is a genuinely compelling example of this, being mentioned as killing animals for fun in his childhood, not being able to form significant emotional bonds, and being described by his own sister as having something "wrong" with the way he thinks. Despite what can be easily interpreted as a genuine lack of most emotions and morality, he has come to be troubled by his lack of comprehension in those areas and still tries to consciously compensate for this by doing what he speculates others would see as the "right" thing. It manages to be deeply touching when near the end of the story Jade calmly tells Luke that even though Luke is objectively the better choice to die, he is compelled to stop him because he considers Luke his friend.

  • Interestingly, while Ultima IV is written with the clear expectation that you should be the diametric opposite of this, there is the fact that Virtues can't actually go below zero. So there's nothing stopping you from spending the first part of the game stealing, murdering city guards for money and experience, abusing the trust of blind herbalists by underpaying them for their services, and messing around with incredibly evil skulls... until you have a few levels under your belt, plenty of money, and reagents for your spells, at which point you turn into a living saint. Also, while giving money to beggars is Compassionate, doing so by giving one coin at a time (to maximise the reward) is questionable ethics.

    Visual Novels 

  • The Light Warriors in 8-Bit Theater would more or less be this, with emphasis on the "In name only" part. Except Fighter, who's just incredibly stupid.
  • Freefall: Doctor John Bowman is so sociopathic that he is completely and utterly incapable of understanding why anyone could possibly disagree with him. However, he is also a hyper-intelligent Moral Pragmatist; he is an unmitigated Big Good precisely because he takes every measure imaginable to reduce the threat he poses to others and be of maximum benefit to society, and every action he has taken to date has been one any rational person would agree with if he had simply asked first.
    Dr. Bowman: You wanted your security upgraded. What would be the point of asking for something I know you're going to agree to?
    Florence: [head in hands] Okay, I'm not going to get upset because you really don't know why I'm upset.
    Dr. Bowman: Everything I did was logical. One day I'll understand why that makes me the one who's nuts.

  • The Scarecrow of Goth Oz has No Social Skills, casually aims a gun at his crush's head, and constantly tries to get to first base with her.
  • Last Res0rt has Jason Spades, who considers himself a hero... y'know, except for that whole "wanting to kill Daisy" thing.
  • In The Order of the Stick we have Belkar, an Axe-Crazy halfling that specializes in killing and dealing pain with two daggers. Word of God makes it VERY clear that Belkar is 100% Chaotic Evil. For most of his screen time, he fits better into Heroic Comedic Sociopath, though there have definitely been moments where his impulsive bloodlust causes drama and even setbacks for the rest of the team. For example, during Roy's afterlife judgment, it's mentioned that Belkar would normally cause Roy a lot of karma demerits if the team weren't so good at directing Belkar's violence toward the villains. After coming to the conclusion that he needs to fake character development, Belkar has become more cooperative with the rest of the team. In other words, he's gone from being a sociopath to... being a slightly higher-functioning sociopath.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has the Iron Sociopath who fights crime because it gives him an opportunity to commit violence unpunished.

    Web Original 
  • Deviant: Insinuation, for a given value of "hero".
  • SF Debris Alternate Character Interpretation of Janeway is played like this (to the point of being the Big Bad of the franchise). While it is done for humor there are several times where the Janeway in the show does something either as bad or worse than SFDebris-Janeway. In his review of "Latent Image", he compares his Janeway and the show's Janeway's solutions to the events of the episode. He gives up part way when he realizes that the real Janeway's solution was more extreme than her own parody.
  • Near the end of V3 of Survival of the Fittest, Dominica Shapiro realizes that she has become this just before she throws herself at the terrorists' guns a-blazing in a bid to keep the escaping students safe, and to have some fun in the meanwhile.
  • Loophole of the Whateley Universe has slipped from the perfect southern belle into this as of A Cold Plate of Vengeance given what she does to an enemy who mind-raped her. And then doesn't see anything wrong with using a holographic projection of said rapist as the face for Loophole's AI.

  • Shadow Stalker of Worm
    • She was forced to join the Wards after pinning a man to a wall with her crossbow, nearly killing him.
    • Despite her parole limiting her to non-lethal tranquilizers she often went on patrol with actual bolts and tried to kill both Grue and Skitter.
    • Even with that aside she was needlessly violent when taking down perps, abusive of her fellow Wards, and generally rebellious.
    • In her personal life, she participated significantly in a bullying campaign against Taylor Hebert that (among other things) involved locking the latter into her own locker, along with a mass of rotting used feminine products.
    • And finally, even when she was out as a hero, she had a habit of not interfering in muggings unless and until the victim showed signs of fighting back.
  • Xanauzumaki's Alternate Character Interpretation of Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask Link. From the first episode of Majora's Mask: (To the tune of the Hokey-Pokey) "You push your blade back in, you pull your blade back out, you push your blade back in, and you twist it all about. You stab and disembowel them until they start to shout, that's what it's all about, Second Verse!"

    Western Animation 
  • Stewie Griffin from Family Guy started out as an incredibly sadistic psychopath who constantly took advantage of situations, killed on a whim, and tried to kill his mother on multiple occasions. However, over the years, he Took a Level in Kindness and occasionally fights enemies that are much worse than him. Sure, his homicidal and sadistic tendencies are still there, though not as much as before.
  • Buttercup from The Powerpuff Girls (1998). While she is not evil, she has a massive Lack of Empathy, a taste for fighting, a serious anger problem, and is not above crippling the bad guys. "Makes Zen to Me", for example, has her brutally beating Fuzzy Lumpkins to the point of crippling him and leaving him in vegetable state, and although she had no knowledge of this, she willingly goes for a dinner without a hint of remorse. Yes she fights evil as much as her sisters but a disproportionately big part of it amounts to the pleasure that she gets from brutalising characters that she can get away with and still be classed as a hero, seeing as whenever she gets carried away even her teammates aren't safe from her bullying tendencies, especially Bubbles. And that's the people she actually cares about. She does seem however to also have a genuine dislike towards most villains (with the exception of Ace whom she considers following), so there is some sense of limits in her character.
  • South Park:
    • Eric Cartman. When he is on the good side he'll still insult and suggest violent methods. He seems to be the default leader of the fourth grade boys in the case of a crisis, e.g. "Make Love Not Warcraft", "Marjorine", "The List". That said, his Character Development has made him an Heroic Comedic Sociopath.
    • Despite the fact that he is not nearly as malicious as Cartman, Kyle Broflovski has proved to be less sensitive than Stan and has had several moments where he has proved to be cold, callous, and willing to do reprehensible things, especially when his Character Development comes into play.