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Straw Hypocrite

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"Don't raise your voice here. This is a sacred place. Now, you may not believe it and I may not believe it, but, my God, it's a useful hypocrisy."
Linton Barwick, on the Meditation Room of the United Nations, In the Loop

Leaders, especially ones for ideologically motivated organizations, are expected to have the ultimate dedication to this cause. Be they a Well-Intentioned Extremist, Knight Templar, or even Dark Messiah, this leader dedicates themselves to a cause and is willing to die for it, and at times suggests that the end justifies the means.

Problem is, they don't actually believe what they're espousing. They are a Straw Hypocrite. This villain (and it usually is a villain) will exhibit their dastardly plot and expose their "good" cause as a smokescreen to some hidden agenda that the villain has. If this happens, then it may be part of revealing the Evil Plan or the hero discovering it on their own, but often it is to show just how flawed their painted-on ideology is. Any Gullible Lemmings or Black Shirts who worship or follow them will quickly disperse or switch sides.

Unlike a regular Hypocrite, whose behavior fails to square with his or her publicly expressed (and sincerely held) moral standards due to ordinary human weakness, the Straw Hypocrite does not actually believe in their cause in the slightest and merely uses it as a cover to another end. A Writer on Board might even use the straw hypocrite as a Strawman Political to discredit the cause they're championing as nothing more than a boat for the evil to commandeer.

The Straw Hypocrite is not always a tool for an Author Tract, though: well written, a Straw Hypocrite can make a great villain, maybe even a Magnificent Bastard. Sometimes, their existence will be used by an author who does not want to take sides in an argument; in this case, the ideology, philosophy, religion, or cause the Straw Hypocrite seems to embrace is not in itself "evil" or worthless, and the author may even allow a more idealistic/honest character to take over the political/religious/philosophical organization after the demise of the straw hypocrite to show that they just needed a leader who actually believes what they say. Finally, if the Straw Hypocrite is in an organization that is unquestionably evil (such as the Nazi Party) it can be shown that Even Evil Has Standards or set up a Conspiracy Redemption.

Depending on one's level of cynicism, of course, this may be regarded as Truth in Television.

Compare Category Traitor. Compare also Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist, which substitutes the "ideals" in this trope with "intentions" (i.e putting a hidden agenda behind a claim of good intentions). Contrast Hypocrite Has a Point, where a character is still correct about a subject despite being hypocritical about it. May be used as part of a Debate and Switch. A character like this probably engages in Psychological Projection. An important leadership position in the Path of Inspiration or Scam Religion, perhaps even a False Prophet. Very common with Knight Templar types, to argue that the high standard they set is impossible (though ordinary Hypocrites are arguably even more common).

Please refrain from adding Real Life or Truth in Television examples in this page, as real people are not crafted for a specific purpose.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Code Geass:
    • Charles zi Britannia, on the surface, promotes Social Darwinism. Later on in the series, it is revealed that all of his actions shroud his true intentions: to create a world without lies and equality via Assimilation Plot.
    • Charles' son Lelouch co-opts the goal of the Japanese resistance of self-liberation against Britannia as a means of revenge against his father, and to create a gentler world for his sister, Nunnally. While he ends up Becoming the Mask and caring about the self-determination of the Japanese to a significant extent, his personal motivations lead him to do things that aren't necessarily in the best interest of the Japanese, such as defeating and taking over other resistance groups, teaming up with Suzaku to thwart a Chinese-backed invasion by the former Japanese government-in-exile and abandoning his responsibility to lead the Black Knights in the season 1 finale in response to Nunnally being taken hostage.
  • In Digimon Frontier: Island of the Lost Digimon, the human and beast Digimon are at war with each other, and both sides have a leader of their respective side, who are in fact the same Digimon who can slide digivolve into human and beast form. His ultimate plan is to have both sides kill each other so he can collect as many Digi-eggs to revive an ancient Digimon to conquer the digital world.
  • Gundam:
    • Gihren Zabi of Mobile Suit Gundam preaches a philosophy of colonial liberation and racial superiority that he himself does not believe in, since he wants to rule the world and hey, Despotism Justifies the Means after all.
    • Ali Al-Saachez of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 created an army of child soldiers and convinced them to kill their families and overthrow the government in the name of God. Here's the kicker—Ali's an atheist mercenary who doesn't believe in God. Having been paid to create an army for one of Krugis' rebel factions, he turned to religion because it was the easiest way of controlling the kids.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans:
      • Despite their propaganda against cybernetic modifications, Gjallarhorn still creates the Graze Ein, something that makes standard Alaya-Vijnana implants look tame. McGillis claims that this is because Gjallarhorn never really believed its own rhetoric and simply wanted to keep others from using the power of the Alaya-Vijnana against them.
      • Gjallarhorn outlawed the Dainsleif, high-powered railcannons capable of piercing nanolaminate armornote . However, Iok Kujan and Rustal Ellion demonstrate that they're more than willing to plant Dainsleifs in their enemies' transport ships, then use that as justification to bust out an entire platoon of Dainsleif-equipped mobile suits to kill those same enemies. On top of this, the Gundam Kimaris Vidar is expressly equipped with Dainsleif launchers in its lance, even if Vidar never fired them on-screen and it's just All There in the Manual.
  • Corrupt Politician Edward Haints in the Gunsmith Cats OVA was running for mayor of Chicago on a platform involving strict gun control. In reality, he was the kingpin of a gun smuggling operation and intended to use more restrictive laws as justification to raise his prices.
  • The second Naruto movie has the main antagonist Haido. At first glance, he seems like a humble man whose main goal is to gather the Gelel stones in order to create a utopia devoid of war. But he's really just a power-hungry warlord who wants to rule the world and use the stones to wipe out anyone who gets in his way.

    Comic Books 
  • Blacksad: Invoked by Jezebel, who told Huk that Hans Karup, despite being an outspoken white supremacist in public, was secretly screwing their black maid. He wasn't, but given how deeply racist Huk himself is, this might have played into his motivation for having Karup framed and killed.
  • Smug Straight Edge Todd from Scott Pilgrim claims that being a vegan proves he's better than anyone. Despite eating non-vegan foods himself. Though in the film, he apparently didn't know that said foods weren't vegan.
  • Marvel's Sons of the Serpent (a Christian identity-ish right-wing militia) started out this way, with their leaders in their first two appearances being, respectively, a Red Chinese agent trying to stir up trouble and a crook who wanted to make easy money and could care less about their cause (such as it was). Interestingly, in their more recent appearances, they are honest right-wingers, averting the trope.
  • Requiem Vampire Knight: Thurim was a medieval warlord who fought for the Catholic Christian Church in both the crusades in the Holy Land and the teutonic crusades in the Baltics. However, he was secretly a hell-worshipper who was after Lucifer's hammer all along.
  • Sha: The Catholic quintumvirate that burned witches at the stake used the cover of religious motives to advance their own evil on Earth against the peaceful Mage Species, given that they themselves were actually demons posing as Christians (or, alternatively, that Evil Makes You Monstrous).

    Fan Works 
  • Vaticus Finch, aka, Jacobus Sicuro in The Tainted Grimoire, is this.
    Maria: How befitting of a holy man such as yourself. How can we possibly lift up the name of Elianto when his own Archbishop is so morally corrupt.
    Vaticus: No…don't tell me…you actually think I believe in all that rubbish! This position, Archbishop; this was only a stepping stone on my way to the top. Everything I said, every charity I funded; I didn't mean any of it. I didn't care for any of it. I simply needed the people on my side.
  • Families: Olive Branch stirs up the general populace's fear and doubt in Celestia's leadership following the changeling invasion (as well as taking advantage of the Fantastic Racism aimed at her "pet dragon" Spike), claiming that she's no longer fit to rule, just so that he and his lieutenants can take over. Going even further, what even his closest minions don't know is that even that isn't his true goal — he just wants Celestia to make him immortal. Once his various hypocrisies are exposed, his conspiracy falls apart.
  • The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum: Almost none of the ponies technically believed that humanity has to be ponified for their own good. The entire scenario was the result of an Artifact of Doom known as The Bag of Tirek corrupting virtually the whole pony race, especially Queen Celestia, as a massive revenge scheme on humanity for what Megan did in defeating Tirek. The entire xenophobic conquest would not have happened had it not been for that.

  • Hans Gruber in Die Hard claims to be a freedom fighter to the police and FBI, calling for the freedom of his revolutionary brothers and sisters falsely imprisoned around the world in exchange for the hostages. In reality, he's just trying to break into a corporate safe for money. Both John and Holly are Disappointed by the Motive when they find out, with Holly even calling Hans "nothing but a common thief" to his face once she finds out that all he wanted was money.
  • The leaders of Libria in Equilibrium preach that Prozium, an emotion-inhibiting drug, would save humanity from having another World War. They aren't on it, however. The head of the government is revealed to indulge in art and literature that would get regular citizens executed.
  • Mouth to Mouth: Harry is the leader of a group, though not a religious one. He imposes a ban on addictive substances and sex, and yet he stashes cigarettes in his hammock and has sex with the women of the collective. He then punishes the women for breaking the rules by having sex and for "making him break the rules." He gets off scot-free, of course.
  • Ultraviolet (2006) had the Evil Surgeon General who hunted all vampires to near extinction with active genocide, be not just a vampire... but the first one! He manipulated public fear and hysteria to rise to power. However, he was too effective; with most of the vampires killed off, he needed something to keep people in line. So he was working on an anti-human virus that would require constant treatment that only he could provide.
  • Witch Hunt, a TV movie set in the 1950s (a sequel to Cast a Deadly Spell), with the caveat that magic was real and widespread, had as the orchestrating villain a politician who planned to use a Super Registration Act and later more fascist means to control the "magic problem" for the non-magical. Once he double-crosses a magician accomplice, the magician casts a spell that makes him vomit his dark side out, which happily and angrily details his disgust for the non-magical voters being so easily swayed by fear, and how he'd slowly shift his fearmongering to other groups to keep and gain political power. In front of a live campaign speech audience. Both he and his evil vomit twin are arrested.
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction: Harold Attinger is the leader of Cemetery Wind, a rogue CIA black-ops task force whose sole mission is to hunt down and destroy all Cybertronians, regardless of affiliation. Attinger claims that as long as they exist on Earth, humanity will always be in danger. One of the main enforcers of this task force is Lockdown, a Cybertronian bounty hunter. He also makes a deal with Lockdown, helping him get Optimus Prime in exchange for a bomb that will help him create more transformuim, which involves killing more people. When Galvatron, a human-made Transformer created from Cybertronian parts supplied by Cemetery Wind goes rogue and causes collateral damage, Attinger dismisses the loss of life, saying that people die every day.
  • Lord Summerisle in the original The Wicker Man (1973) calmly explains to Sgt. Howie that Summerisle's pagan religion, which he leads and enforces, is only a century or so old, invented by the present Lord's grandfather to keep the residents in line and prevent them from blaming their liege for failed harvests. Lord Summerisle doesn't believe a word of it, but he encourages the islanders to be suspicious of Howie, a Christian, as a dangerous, infidel outsider.
  • There's a bit of this to Walter Peck from Ghostbusters (1984). He expresses concerns about the environmental effects of the Ghostbusters' operations and the dangers they might pose to the general public. When he storms in with a court order to shut them down, he brings along a Con-Ed engineer who takes one look at the complex systems the Ghostbusters are maintaining and warns him that shutting them down too hastily could be incredibly dangerous. Peck's response is "I'm not interested in your opinion! Shut it down!" This makes it clear that for all his self-righteousness and supposed concern for the environment, Peck is really just on a vindictive power trip because he personally felt slighted by the Ghostbusters.
  • Wild Wild West: Doctor Arliss Loveless once fought for the Confederacy along with General McGrath, and murders the General as revenge for surrendering his forces after Gettysburg. However, this appears to be a smokescreen for his real self-serving objectives, since rather than reviving the Confederate States or starting another Civil War, Loveless draws up a plan to sell off the land to several foreign powers and keep a big chunk as his personal fiefdom.

  • In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka is accused of this by Mike Teevee after Violet's "accident". He calls chewing gum "disgusting" and implied that Violet had it coming because of the bad habit, which prompts Teevee to ask why his factory produces gum if he feels that way about it.
  • Played for laughs in A Confederacy of Dunces. The main character of Ignatius J. Reilly is almost impossibly conservative and puritanical, believing that humanity peaked before the Renaissance, and bores anyone who makes the mistake of humoring him with his ramblings that a return to monarchy is sorely needed as the world lacks "theology and geometry". He's also the living embodiment of all Seven Deadly Sins, and a quintessential Basement-Dweller in an era where the concept, let alone the stereotype, barely existed — he sponges off his mother, works jobs he's vastly overqualified for out of pure laziness, guzzles down as much food as he possibly can, indulges in all the hedonistic pursuits of modern life (soda, cartoons, movies) while claiming to do so out of spite, masturbates constantly while thinking of deeply unwholesome things, and mocks and scorns "rednecks" for eschewing what he himself wallows in.
  • In Andrew Vachss' Dead and Gone, the lead villain pretends to be a Nazi/White Supremacist in order to enlist the aid of a White Supremacist group to help him carry out his revenge on the anti-hero Burke, who had him sent to prison for being a pedophile. While giving his Big Villain Speech he reveals that he has been manipulating the skinheads and that he really thinks they are all retards for believing in Nazi ideology. He is unaware that Burke is broadcasting this back to his henchmen.
  • Played for Laughs in Harry Potter. Arthur Weasley works in a department of the Ministry of Magic called "Misuse of Muggle Artifacts", where they regulate the use of magic on things that muggles use. The thing is, Arthur is so obsessed with muggle stuff that he breaks the rules of his own department repeatedly; taking muggle stuff home, taking them apart, putting spells on them, putting them back together, etc. Fred and George even jokingly commented that if he ever had to raid his own house, he would have to arrest himself. To his (sort of) credit, whenever possible Arthur writes loopholes in the law purely so he can exploit them and maintain a legal means to pursue his hobbies. It’s also important to note that Arthur believes in the overall spirit of the law, which is meant to (besides keeping The Masquerade intact) prevent wizards from pranking or even harming unwitting Muggles with charmed objects. Arthur enjoys tinkering with Muggle items himself but also works hard to keep them and other charmed items away from innocent people.
    • Then there's Umbridge in Book 5 who teaches the students that the Unforgivable Curses are illegal and unforgivable while the Cruciatus Curse appears to be her favorite spell.
  • Isaac Asimov's Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn: Sirius makes a colony on Titan, claiming it is completely within their rights, despite the fact Earth is within the same system (there is no clear precedent). Unfortunately for them, they had trouble explaining by what right they removed an Earth colonist from another moon of Saturn, so an interstellar conference ordered them to get out.
  • In The Manchurian Candidate, Senator Iselin (a Joseph McCarthy expy) and his wife are really communist agents pushing witch hunt tactics to discredit anti-communism and pave the way for the US to fall under communist rule.
  • Radio Free Albemuth by Philip K. Dick. The distant, unseen antagonist, president Ferris F. Fremont, uses a Joseph McCarthy-esque Communist hunt to distract America from the fact that he is—in fact—a secret member of the Russian Communist party, and is selling U.S.-produced food and goods to the USSR dirt cheap.
  • Happens in the Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Outcast (no, not Jedi Outcast). The leader of the Baran Do underground movement turns out to have a few hidden elevators that can be used to get back up to the surface at any time. But what if there really were a bunch of people who liked living underground? Would Luke and Ben be justified in changing that?
  • In Edmond Hamilton's The Star Kings, when the heroes are brought to the villain, he tells the one who brought them about how they will soon crush their oppressive enemies... Blah blah blah. After the guy leaves, he asks the hero "How did you like my little speech?", and at his amazement, explains that he's no idiot, and such speeches are only useful for mindless fanatics. But since that's the main driving force of his conquest... Well, he has no choice.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia has the Lady of the Green Kirtle, a villain who knows that God (pardon me, Aslan) exists and is just arguing in favor of atheism in order to defeat the heroes with the aid of magic that makes them confused and susceptible to whatever she tells them.
  • There's a pages-long speech in The Diamond Age about contrasting Straw Hypocrites with the regular Hypocrites described above (those who sincerely believe in a principle and are just too weak to live up to it). It's partly Author Tract but entirely justified by the plot, since it's a subtle way for the Chess Master to let Hackworth know that a: his crime has been found out, and b: he can be forgiven... at a price.
  • In Dan Simmons' Endymion and The Rise of Endymion, the Catholic church is run by a bunch of Straw Hypocrites, until a Messianic Archetype topples them and puts some genuine believers in charge.
  • Valentine Morgenstern from The Mortal Instruments, was this in his younger days when he formed the Circle. Although the stated goal that he used to woo his followers was to reform the Clave (by taking it over), his real objective was simply to set himself up as their ruler. But he ditched his followers the moment the odds turned against them. Once he reappeared years after the Uprising and his failed coup attempt, he was a good deal more open about his true objectives.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Cersei cheerfully allows the restoration of the Faith Militant, the military branch of the Faith of the Seven, and sends them after Margaery for supposed adultery. Of course, she herself has been committing adultery for years with her brother Jaime and has been having affairs after her husband died (by her engineering). This comes back to bite her in the ass when the Faith Militant figures out her scheme and has her arrested as well.
  • In military-themed thriller Victoria, this describes the Cultural Marxists. While other leftists, such as the Deep Green environmentalists, are portrayed as mere naive true believers who cannot see how impractical their ideology is, and even have some sympathetic points to make on occasion, the Marxists know their doctrines are lies that lead to ruin, but promote them anyway out of sheer hatred for Western Civilization.
  • In George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, this is literally what Doublethink is. Everyone in the Party must think and genuinely believe that Ingsoc will win the war, even though they also know there is no war because both their lives and the entire Ingsoc system depend on it.
  • Julian Felsenburgh, the eponymous Lord Of The World, comes to power by preaching the wickedness of religious fanaticism and blaming all evil in the world on religiously motivated obscurantism, promising that human beings can use unsullied reason to create a socialistic paradise where there is no poverty, oppression, or war, but only if religion goes away. He then sets himself up as a god, brutally persecutes those who refuse to worship him, firebomb entire cities, killing millions, and blames all this on his targets still following their old religions. Despite his professions of democracy and science and reason, he is no more a champion of those things than the Egyptian pharaohs. Unfortunately, the author seems to confuse this with genuine opposition to his beliefs, since in the book most of the world falls into line despite Felsenburgh not even trying to conceal his betrayal of all they stand for. (On the other hand, he has mind control powers—that only Real True Christians can shake off.) Felsenburgh never outright states that he doesn’t believe what he preaches, so the possibility of him being a true hypocrite blinded by ideology is even worse.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 7 Yüz: Onur from the episode "Karşılaşmalar" presents himself as a person concerned about privacy, and worries that companies will track him through the app. However, he's really trying to cover for his personal behavior: obsessively stalking his future wife Gödze before she even knew who he was.
  • In Battlestar Galactica, a particular scene between Cavil and Tyrol is a heaven for subtext when rewatching the series from the beginning.
    1. Brother Cavil is posing as a human priest in the human fleet (and in the Caprica resistance), but he's actually a Cylon abusing his position to orchestrate destructive acts.
    2. He's talking to Chief Tyrol to give him counseling and talk him down from his fear that he, like his girlfriend, is a Cylon sleeper agent. Cavil assures him he hasn't seen him in any of their super-secret meetings... because Cavil reprogrammed Tyrol to forget his life as one of the five creators of Cavil and the bio-Cylon race.
    3. Among the Cylons, Cavil advocated the destruction of humanity for its sins in enslaving the robotic Centurions, while he did just the same, and memory wiped his creators and put them in the colonies while lying like a dog to his siblings. The war being a genocidal temper tantrum in an attempt to become the "favorite son."
  • The Blacklist: Averted and played straight in the episode “Hannah Hayes”. The episode’s Villain of the Week is a woman who could not get a legal abortion, so she forcibly impregnates the men responsible for the anti-abortion law. A reverend who lobbied for the law proves to be a true believer: he has the baby by c-section and keeps him. The governor who passed the law went to another state to get an abortion, making him guilty of conspiracy to commit murder under the law he passed.
  • Carnival Row: Sophie compares her status as a mixed-race woman and the discrimination her mother's side faced for the color of their skin to the discrimination the Fae face now, only to turn around and say that the Fae should be discriminated against because they're not human. However she doesn't actually believe this, she's just playing politics.
  • On Glee Quinn is president of the celibacy club and an extreme Christian. She ends up getting pregnant by cheating on her boyfriend with his best friend.
  • House:
    • House versus Vogler was lined with this from the start. Vogler wanted to eliminate House's department because it's by far the most expensive one in the hospital, but only treats one patient a week. House catches on to this game very quickly and spends time exposing Vogler for someone who professes noble desires but is just a businessman looking to make a profit.
    • House's patients sometimes espouse a cause or adopt an attitude to mask a secret, e.g. an AIDS sufferer who embraces a life of hedonism to mask guilt over his part in his mother's death, an environmentalist who hides his waning enthusiasm for the cause, and, in a rare example of noble straw hypocrisy, a patient's late father who allowed his son and his black wife to believe he was a racist in order to hide a horrible secret.
  • On Justified Boyd Crowder (the Big Bad or Deuteragonist, depending on who you ask) plays this trope straight and then possibly subverts it.
    • In the pilot episode, he is the leader of a White Supremacist group even though it's fairly clear he really just likes to rob banks and blow things up and his position gives him access to weapons and fanatical accomplices who will not testify against him if caught. This comes back to bite him when he goes into more traditional criminal enterprises - his neo-Nazi former accomplice Devil never quite gets over Boyd's hypocrisy.
    • After he gets shot and his gang sent to jail, he claims to have found God and starts his own church among the low-level criminals and drug addicts of the county. Both the cops and his criminal family believe that he is using this to build another criminal gang. The cops try to figure what his 'master plan' is and his family wants in on the 'action'. Even at the end of the series, it's unclear whether even Boyd himself knows whether he actually believed in his cause, or if he was simply using an excuse to rob people and blow things up, or if he intended to con people and became a genuine believer, or even started off trying to genuinely reform and ended up caught up by habit into stealing and blowing things up. The only certainty is that his inability to sort out his own feelings after his followers are massacred leads to his decision to go full criminal.
  • Law & Order: Combines this trope with The Horseshoe Effect when a murderer has a Heel–Faith Turn during her trial and decides to accept the death penalty. On one side there’s a civil rights organization that pride themselves on defending personal freedom and an individual’s right to choose, but because they are opposed to the death penalty, they don’t respect this individual’s right to choose not to fight the prosecution. On the other side, there’s a Christian organization that supports the death penalty, they just don’t support the execution of a young woman who identifies as Christian.
  • Roger Ailes of Fox News fame is portrayed as such in The Loudest Voice. He states very explicitly and publicly upon being fired from CNBC in the mid-'90s that his goal in his future endeavors — and by extension in creating Fox News — is to practice fair and balanced journalism and restore faith in news media, but this is immediately shown to be just a pretense, and that he has no intention of forging Fox News into anything but a newsertainment loudspeaker for right-wing views. For example, in the months leading up to Fox's launch, when an inexperienced Sean Hannity quickly wilts in a mock debate with a more intelligent liberal, rather than dismiss Hannity (and perhaps, at the very least, hire a less flashy but more intellectually serious conservative in his place), Ailes simply keeps Hannity on and hires weaker liberals instead.
  • Marcy D'Arcy on Married... with Children is seen as a straw feminist who criticizes men for being shallow, violent, and perverted towards the opposite gender. However, she's very materialistic, Ax-Crazy, has a trophy husband she oppresses, and checks out other men in public.
  • Angela from The Office (US) is often quick to "slut shame" any woman at Dunder Mifflin that doesn't quite live up to her seemingly prudish standards, but she's also cheated on Andy and later the Senator with Dwight. At one point, it's revealed that she's no stranger to having men fight over her. Later when it turns out that the Senator was secretly gay, using her as The Beard and cheating on her with Oscar, she tried to hire a hitman to take Oscar out, something even Dwight had to call her out on over the hypocrisy.
  • Ethan Zobelle from Sons of Anarchy is initially presented as a white supremacist who is trying to run the Sons Of Anarchy out of town. His white supremacist right-hand man thinks this is because they are selling guns to Latino and Black groups. However Zobelle has no issue with dealing with said gangs - he is seen buying guns from the Mayans, a Latino gang. In fact, Zobelle is an FBI informant who is trying to kill the gun trade in the town altogether.
  • Used continually on True Blood, most often by Reverend Steve Newlin, but also a host of minor politicians and the religious faithful. In fact, nearly every character outside the immediate main cast is one kind of hypocrite or another, but most are not used as Straw Hypocrites.
  • The Young Pope himself tells another priest a secret: he doesn't believe in God. Not only is he pope, but he's a pope who tells the Catholic population of the world that he is closer to God than they ever will be, and demands 24/7 spiritual searching for God as the chief tenet of his papacy. Later events indicate he's simply very disillusioned by the perceived absence of God in his own life and taking it out on everyone else. But that could qualify for doubling up on this trope, as it makes him neither a faithful Christian nor a satisfied atheist, despite claiming to be both.

  • Jesus He Knows Me by Genesis is about an unscrupulous televangelist:
    I believe in the family
    With my ever-loving wife beside me
    But she don't know about my girlfriend
    Or the man I met last night
    Won't find me practising what I'm preaching,
    Won't find me making no sacrifice
    But I can get you a pocketful of miracles,
    If you promise to be good, try to be nice
    God will take good care of you,
    Just do as I say, don't do as I do

  • In The Adventures of Superman serial "The Clan of the Fiery Cross", the Grand Scorpion is shown, near the end of the serial, to be one of these. In his own words, "Don't tell me you actually believe that 'pure American' hogwash! Riggs, I thought you were smarter than that."

  • Melissa from Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues espouses some leftist ideals- such as overthrowing the government she believes to be corrupt- but in reality, she's only aligning herself with those politics because they're the most agreeable to her actual goal of self-satisfaction.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: In the sourcebook Elder Evils, one scenario involves the Hulks of Zoretha, five evil elemental beings from another world who have been in a dormant state resembling statues for eons. If they ever awake, they'd attempt to purge the world of all other sentient beings to repopulate it with their brood. Several Apocalypse Cults among savage humanoids have formed around the Hulks, and recently, these cults have united under the leadership of a charismatic frost giant named Janwulf the Soulbiter, who claims to have the same goal as the other cultists, waking the Hulks and bringing about The End of the World as We Know It. Is this because Janwulf is an Omnicidal Maniac? No. He actually has no desire or reason to destroy the world and has no divine powers at all or any idea how to waken them. What he really wants is more power, and by keeping what he sees as a false religion alive under his leadership, he has gained more followers and influence than any other giant in recent history.
  • The World of Darkness:
    • Genius: The Transgression: The Phenomenologists are defined by their belief that humanity 'went wrong' in accepting that truth is defined by an outside reality instead of personal belief. This has led to them holding a very, shall we say, flexible philosophy. If it's in their interests a Phenomenologist will be an extremely devout Catholic and believe every word of the Christian dogma they preach, then the next day they might be an agnostic Zen Buddhist who thinks Catholicism is mostly nice but wrong. At no point are they actually lying (which is why it's nigh-impossible to tell if they're being deceptive); to a Phenomenologist, whatever they say is, by definition, true.
    • Mage: The Ascension: The original incarnation of the Technocratic Union is officially an Anti-Magical Faction who uses technology to contain the mages and their shenanigans, but in practice, they actually use their own form of magic (disguised as technology) to do it. In the first edition of the game, the Union's anti-magic stance is a mere facade to hypocritically justify tyranny, with its higher-ups presented as villainous wizards knowingly lying to their own subordinates about their abilities. Later versions revise this to make them a genuine Knight Templar faction instead: the current Union still works a sort of magic and knows it, but insists (and now sincerely) that their "Enlightened Science" is nonetheless a much better, safer, and very qualitatively different thing than the outlaw wizardry of the mages.

  • Caesar in Shaw's Androcles and the Lion admits that the practices of the religion he nominally leads are meaningless.
  • In Moličre's Tartuffe, the title character is one of these. He claims to be a devout Christian, but the play is pretty clear that it's all an act. When he reveals his hypocrisy, there is a stage direction that reads: "Speaking as a villain" (Moliere added that particular stage direction so the Jesuits couldn't claim that he was specifically accusing them of hypocrisy, but even so, lots of devout Christians were outraged at the play.)
  • In William Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, Isabella is an example: she is generally viewed disfavorably by the audience, as she values her chastity more than her brother's life and tells him that he deserves to die for his sin. Then once the Duke of Vienna proposes marriage to her, she does not protest in the least (although this can be interpreted in different ways by different directors). There are theories that Measure is an attack specifically on the Catholic Church which emphasizes chastity in its clergy.

    Video Games 
  • Andrew Ryan of Bioshock 1 built the Underwater City of Rapture to act as a Objectivist Rich Recluse's Realm for the best and brightest society had to offer, free from government oversight and tyranny. However, he Didn't Think This Through and the several flaws in his plan eventually led to Civil War. As the civil war gets worse and worse, he starts betraying every one of his stances, citing it was for the good of city. But pretty much everyone who knew him could tell he was becoming not any better (and in some ways, no different) than the people he was fighting against, and he ultimately took Objectivism to its logical if excessive conclusion: that he did everything for his own benefit.
  • Eternal Twilight: Empress Verona claims that all Magi get their powers from demon worship and that all of them are Always Chaotic Evil Blood Magi, therefore all Magi must be slaughtered. While the threat of Blood Magi is real (though they're a minority among Magi), Verona only cares about sacrificing strong Magi to steal their powers while killing the weaker ones, ensuring that only she and her loyalists can use magic.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • AVALANCHE co-leader and scientist Fuhito in Before Crisis supports AVALANCHE's fight against Shinra. Why are they fighting Shinra? To stop the company from draining mako out of the planet, which is the planet's life force. What do they do? They use materia (which is made out of mako) and they also use captured soldier turned Ravens (who have mako injected into their bodies). Fuhito hardly cares about Shinra and he even idolizes Mad Scientist Hojo, who works for Shinra. Fuhito eventually takes over AVALANCHE and aims to destroy the world so that there's nothing left to harm the planet, thus "saving" it. Elfe and Shears see just how powerful and mad Fuhito was becoming, so they leave AVALANCHE and ditch their fight against Shinra.
    • Final Fantasy X:
      • The leaders of the Corrupt Church say that all machina (machines) are bad, while at the same time using machina in their own temples. Earlier, the maesters also give their blessing to an operation that uses machines of war to try and stop Sin (though there, they know it's not going to work, and are trying to send a message).
      • This is also zig-zagged with using the teachings of Yevon to stop Sin. While the summoners and their pilgrimages do stop Sin, the church lies about the idea that Sin can be stopped permanently. The maesters say that there is nothing futile about the summoners' struggles since it means people can take it easy, knowing Sin is gone, even if it's for a little while. But, the maesters say that when mankind atones for its "sins," then Sin will be gone. They know that Sin will always come back, and even know why, but don't say anything. When Yuna and her guardians find out, the church actively tries to have them killed until Yuna becomes their only option.
    • The Garlean Empire of Final Fantasy XIV hold one of their core tenets as being against the summoning of Primals (or 'Eikons', as they call them), since it causes the land to be drained of aether and they are beings capable of massive destruction. In truth, however, some of the leaders of the empire are Ascians who are actually encouraging summonings, with the intent of causing Calamities that will eventually result in the resurrection of their dark god. The Garlean Empire is merely a tool of Solus zos Gavlus - the first emperor - who is secretly an Ascian himself. He is pushing the Garleans to conquer the rest of the world because they are incapable of using magic, so A. it will drive the magic-using races of the world to summon Primals under pressure, and B. if the Garleans do end up conquering the other, magic-capable races of the world, that means there will be none left to stop the Ascians and their designs.
  • Forever Home: The Big Bad of the game, Barclyss, constantly claims that all life on the planet is worthless and deserves to die, including himself. The Dragon, Kail, publicly agrees with Barclyss's rhetoric when speaking in front of potential recruits, but is really an egomaniac who wants to outlive his boss and rule over a lifeless planet by himself.
  • In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Tommy is tasked with one mission to covertly photograph a fundamentalist politician in the act with a porn star, because said politician is trying to have pornography outlawed (or restricted, at least).
    • In Grand Theft Auto IV; Bryce Dawkins, the fiercely anti-gay and "family values" oriented deputy mayor of Liberty City, cheats on his wife with Niko's Camp Gay war buddy Bernie Crane.
  • Hero King Quest: Peacemaker Prologue: Sanguine believes that the Light Spirit's clergy and the ruling class of each country stoke hatred against the dark ones not because they truly believe in their scripture, but because they want to redirect the commoners' resentment towards convenient scapegoats.
  • Manafinder: King Vikar portrays himself as a ruler who is willing to use draconian laws to keep Manahill crime free and true to the gods' intentions. However, it turns out that he's really using the legal system to exile anyone who could threaten his power in any way possible. Of note is when he accuses the Oracles of serving the evil goddess Illia, which later turns out to be a lie because the Oracles actually receive prophecies from the main gods Behra, Vaethia, and Allaror. His true reason for exiling them is because they could reveal that he fell out of favor with the main gods.
  • Team Plasma of Pokémon Black and White have this. They claim that humans are abusing Pokémon by putting them through battles. They not only have Pokémon of their own that they battle with, they also repeatedly kick a Munna in order to make it produce Dream Mist, all the while yelling about how they'll free Pokémon from the abuses of humans. In fact, the team's leader, Ghetsis, only wants to "liberate" Pokémon from their trainers so that he will ultimately be the only one with any Pokémon. The only significant member of Team Plasma who actually seems to genuinely believe in the Team's alleged purpose is N, who apparently actually does free his Pokémon between battles, and typically only uses Pokémon found in the wild near each battle location.
    • There's no confirmation that everyone in Team Plasma fits this category, however - some of those who don't free their Pokémon like N may simply be taking a more pragmatic approach, but there's no denying a fair few definitely count.
    • It's later confirmed in Black 2 and White 2 that this is the case. Team Plasma has developed a massive schism between the ones who follow "King N" and genuinely believed in his cause (they wear the old uniform, but now try to act as The Atoner, taking care of Pokémon and trying to help stolen ones find their way home) and the hypocrites from before that now follow Ghetsis, who wear black uniforms and don't even try to hide that they are abusive, thieving scumbags just in it for the power.
  • Freespace 2: Admiral Bosch, leader of the fanatically anti-Vasudan Neo-Terran Front, is revealed in a private monologue to have no particular problem with Vasudans himself... the racism is just a tool to exploit hatred and build up an army. He even goes so far as to call his followers in the NTF "an army of stupid cattle". His real purpose was to plunder some ruins on Vasudan-held planets for Lost Technology.
  • One of the Designated Heroes in Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth is a robotic Overseer resembling Shuji Ikutsuki from Persona 3. He doesn't like personality and doesn't allow any robot to have a personality; Any robot that gets personalities will be executed by him...Anyone but himself. He clearly has a savior and messiah complex and forces all of his robots to laugh at his puns.
  • Masayoshi Shido in Persona 5 is an ultranationalist who in his speeches frequently espouses a desire to make Japan a better place for future generations, but in reality is a malignant narcissist who looks down on young people that can't vote for him and doesn't care what becomes of his country as long as he's in charge. He differs from most other targets in that he's aware of his own Palace, meaning he knows his mentality has been warped by his own desires. Worse yet, Shido embraces his distorted mentality to the point of putting himself in a temporary coma once he realizes his heart is about to be changed. It takes a special kind of hypocrisy to be as self-righteous as Shido while still being aware of one's own insanity.
  • The Claire Brothers in Disco Elysium. Nominally, they're leaders of the Débardeurs' Union, the dockyard's communist faction. In practice, they're blatantly corrupt, greasy, greedy Fat Bastards, not above throwing slurs around in moments of pique or hiring literal fascists to serve as muscle. Except they're true believers in the Communist cause, pretending to be corrupt so the Wild Pines executives will assume they can be be bought off or otherwise manipulated. The Claire Brothers are still vicious, and don't mind manipulating fascists into being expendable fodder, but they're genuine Visionary Villains.

  • All of Olga's enemies in The Comeback Path Of Princess From Mars absolutely love to spout Might Makes Right when Olga calls them out on their villainy towards her, but when she shows that she's objectively stronger than them and turns the tables, suddenly the rules matter because Olga is clearly breaking them, somehow.
  • Lord Shojo in The Order of the Stick subverts this. He's the leader of the Sapphire Guard, a group of paladins, but is himself ignoring most of their rules behind the scenes. However, as Shojo points out, he's not a Paladin; he's an Aristocrat. He inherited his position as not just as the leader of the Sapphire Guard, but also lord of Azure City, meaning he has to balance managing the secret order of paladins and ruling the common people. As such, he chose to be Good over Lawful. He feigns senility in order to avoid assassination attempts by the court of nobles while also manipulating his Paladins since he believes the Oath of the founder, Soon Kim, is leading them to Lawful Stupid territory. And as Shojo puts it, whatever decisions he makes will have a much larger impact than the paladins — any mistake he makes could have millions of people die. Hence, he pulled an elaborate scheme to hire the Order. Unfortunately, when Shojo's deception is revealed, he is killed by Miko Miyazaki, a prime example of a Lawful Stupid paladin. Despite this, Shojo is still considered Good, albeit Chaotic Good. However, Miko does end up breaking the Cosmic Keystone the Sapphire Guard dedicated themselves to protecting. Shojo's own deceptive means caught up with him in the end.

    Web Original 
  • Suburban Knights has Malachite. After brutally murdering people simply for enjoying their technological devices and desiring to destroy all of modern civilization, he's shown taking a phone call on an iPhone in the middle of the final battle. And when the heroes ask him what he'll do after he's fulfilled his goal, he just draws a blank and says he'll "think of something". Turns out Malachite doesn't actually hate technology; he's simply angry because he didn't get to build modern civilization himself. The Suburban Knights are quite annoyed with Malachite's hypocrisy, and want him dead out of principle when all of this comes to light.
  • The "Liberal College Student" meme is the internet parodying this trope.
    • Also "Social Justice Sally", who tends to use social justice issues as a smokescreen that lets her get away with bullying her chosen targets and/or justifying her own personal bigotries and closed-mindedness rather than any desire for meaningful positive change.
  • Most of the villains from Don't Hug Me I'm Scared, with the sole exception being the MON£Y Man from the HELP videos, who doesn't attempt to hide that he's just a plain sadist.
    • In the first installment, Sketchbook claims to be all about creativity, but actually just forces their own ideas on the puppets and gets mad when they make things other than what she told them to. In the end, they flat-out tell the puppets that they should never try to be creative again.
    • In the second installment, Tony the Talking Clock initially tells the puppets that there will always be time for what they want to do. However, when he takes them on a journey through time, it's full of images of people and things running out of time, and in the end, he gleefully admits that they will inevitably run out of time.
    • In the third, Shrignold and the Love Cultists tell the Yellow Guy about how much they love him and he should love them back, but their song is all about trying to make him feel lonely and hated. They later do a total 180 and tell him that loving your friends is wrong because you should save your love for your Special One.
    • Colin in the fourth video goes on and on about how clever and helpful he is, but not only does he never say or do anything clever, he never even attempts to help the puppets figure out what they were wondering in the first place, instead asking them about a number of completely irrelevant things claiming that he'll need to know the answers in order to make them clever like him. He drops any pretense that he intends to help when the Red Guy touches his keyboard in an attempt to make him stop talking.
    • In the fifth, The Healthy Band perform a song to stop Duck and Yellow Guy from eating unhealthy foods (despite the fact that neither of them was eating or even hungry). The whole thing is a confusing mess: all they do is claim outrageous facts about nutrition and use convoluted charts and metaphors to back themselves up. They constantly contradict themselves on what counts as healthy foods, eventually claiming that white sauce and cream are the only healthy foods, and then right after, saying that white sauce makes your teeth turn grey.
    • The sixth episode has the most straightforward example, due to the villain not having much screen time. The Lamp wakes Yellow Guy up and tells him that the reason he can't sleep is that he doesn't know what dreams are. He then keeps Yellow Guy awake by forcing him to have nightmares.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!:
    • Hayley Smith has occasional shades of this, a lot of her liberal views seem to be put on solely to outrage her Republican Control Freak father, often when she is made to go fully through with her communities' views and actions, she immediately attempts to bail out. "Camp Refoogee" is a fine example.
    • Roger in particular loves exploiting this trope from her. When she joins art class as a nude model, for example, he joins and paints her, repeating her self-righteous rant to her father concerning her job when she objects.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: The Vespinaccians' goal is to spread the glory of spinach. But not one of them even likes spinach, and their king only did all that just so he doesn't have to eat it. Though they weren't exactly wrong that they might find at least someone who would be willing to eat it for them.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog: The "Fishionary", a one-shot villain was a "missionary fish" (hence, "Fishionary") who was meant to convince Eustace, Muriel, and Courage to leave their house and enter the sea "from whence all life came" so that they can become "civilized" — according to her and her superiors, "uncivilized" behavior is anything that a land creature does, like living in houses and watching television. At the end of the episode, the Fishionary is revealed to have been doing exactly those things in the Bagges' house, much to the shock of her superiors, and the implication is that she wanted to do that all along and booted them out of the house just so she could.
  • Danny Phantom: A possible example — on the one hand, the teachers impose Sam's "Vegan Week" idea on the students, but they themselves keep eating meat in secret. On the other hand, it is implied that the teachers only did this in the first place because Sam just wouldn't leave them alone about it.
  • Futurama: In the episode "Proposition Infinity," Farnsworth is opposed to Robosexual relationships and robosexual marriage, his opposition motivated by the experience of having a girlfriend dump him for a robot. The twist is that the girlfriend in question was herself a robot so that Farnsworth was actually taking out his feelings about his own failed robosexual relationship on more successful couples.
  • King of the Hill:
    • Ted Wassanasong possesses great wealth and a large manor, including an Olympic-size pool. In "Orange You Sad I Did Say Banana?", Kahn gets a smaller version of the pool built in his backyard in an attempt to imitate Ted's success. Yet when Ted finds out, he labels Kahn a banana who has lost touch with his Laotian roots, deaf to the fact that he is far more wealthy than Kahn ("Sure, I own all these.... things, but they don't own me"). He convinces Kahn to give up his material possessions and participate in a local Laotian militia, claiming it is the only way he can be a real Laotian. In reality, Ted only wants the militia so he can make them parade down mainstreet on a "Laotian Pride Week" he's trying to get the city to start. He only wants the holiday so he, as a Laotian, would gain a sizable boost in social status. Kahn eventually wises up on this when the militia group plans to embark on a suicide mission to try to overthrow the Laotian communist regime, calling him out on it and re-embracing his American lifestyle at the end of the episode.
    • In "Trans-Fascism", Ted, in an attempt to improve the social status of Arlen, and his own by association, has the sale and cooking of all trans-fat food banned in the city, claiming it will make the population thinner. Hank and Buck wind up illegally selling the food around town, and Hank is shocked to find Ted is an eager customer. When Hank calls him out on this, noting how the food ban was his idea in the first place, he smugly replies how he, unlike the common masses of Arlen, has the self-control needed to not overindulge and can therefore eat as much as he wants. It later comes to light that all the members of the city council side-step the ban they themselves put in place, and Hank is able to repeal it by blackmailing them.
  • Moral Orel:
    • According to Word of God, an Aborted Arc would have revealed that the Evangelical Christian Miss Censordoll had used voodoo to make Clay shoot Orel.
    • Half the cast of that show.
    • Most Vodou adherents are also practicing Catholics, seeing the loa and the saints as one in the same, and Bondye and God the Father as the same being. There's a saying in Haiti that the nation is 90% Catholic and 100% Vodou. And the fact that the whole town is very anti-Catholic in the first place (to a point where using the Necronomicon to raise the dead is viewed better than reading from a Catholic Bible).
    • Even disregarding the voodoo aspect, Censordoll was already a Straw Hypocrite. When Orel campaigned to get eggs boycotted, she went along with it because she felt it would help her image, even though she loved eggs to the point of obsession (and also because she figured she could secretly keep the mayor from ever banning them). When Orel succeeded, she was forced to buy them illegally.
  • The Owl House: Emperor Belos has all but a minority of the Boiling Isles' populace, including his inner circle, believing that he's a Messiah enforcing the Titan's will, and a benevolent overlord whose harsh regime is designed to protect witchkind from the dangers to themselves of practicing wild magic and who will lead the worthy to utopia on the Day of Unity. In actuality, these are all lies and a front meant to rally power and support so Belos/Philip can achieve his true agenda on the Day of Unity: the extermination of every last witch and demon on the Boiling Isles, in the name of "protecting" humanity from them.
  • The Powerpuff Girls: Femme Fatale is this trope mixed with Straw Feminist; in order to convince the girls to let her off the hook, she convinces them that she'd be doing a disservice to women everywhere, stating that women need to look out for each other. Later, however, the girls are introduced to three women (well, two—one of them was just complaining that she stole her hairstyle) who were harmed by Femme Fatale directly, including a female bank owner who was robbed by her and a female police officer who had her arm broken by her. Turns out, Femme Fatale's only in it for herself, and if another woman stands in her way, she'll drop all feminist pretenses and turn on them.
  • The Real Ghostbusters: The Halloween Special "The Halloween Door" features Dr. Crowley, a Moral Guardian who seeks to eliminate anything weird or supernatural, and this includes Halloween. While he claims that it’s for the good of the children, it's apparent that he couldn’t care less about them. When a child approaches him saying “trick or treat”, Crowley basically tells him to screw off.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Reverned Lovejoy comes off this way due to the show's Depending on the Writer. He often conveys a "fire and brimstone" view of religion to churchgoers and frequently warns them of keeping Christian faith and morals... only to express frustration and disillusionment in the Bible as soon as the next episode. ("Technically, we're not even allowed to go to the bathroom.") Emphasized well when he condemns Bart as a hellion for supposedly stealing from the collection plate. When Lisa argues with the Bible quote "judge not lest ye be judged," he gives an apathetic "I believe it's somewhere around the back." Even when Lisa manages to prove to everyone that Lovejoy's daughter Jessica was the true culprit for stealing the collection plate, Lovejoy tries to pull up an Insane Troll Logic move; even when Jessica admits to having done the deed (as well as her naughty deeds) to get her father's attention, Lovejoy blatantly ignores her by singing church songs to himself.
    • Lisa's Inferiority Superiority Complex is eventually flanderized into this. Not only is she repeatedly called out for disliking something merely because of the fact that it is popular, but she once admitted that she didn’t like playing the saxophone but does it because it makes her look more intellectual.
  • South Park:
    • Cartman falls into this a lot — often he's not the one that starts a certain trend of ideology in town, but if he can find a way that it benefits him, he'll join or hijack it, and he's very good at playing a true believer (at least, to those who don't know him). Examples include advocating for stem-cell research in "Kenny Dies," Christianity in "Probably" and "Christian Hard Rock," and political correctness in "The Death Camp of Tolerance" and much of season 19. In South Park: Post Covid he starts a "Foundation Against Time Travel" to sabotage the others' attempt to Set Right What Once Went Wrong (to protect his family), and gets called out by Scott Malkinson for using time travel despite this. They settle on a name change, although mostly because they realized it spelled out FATT.
    • The head of the Church of Scientology privately admits Scientology is just a global scam to get at people's money. Similar accusations have been made against L. Ron Hubbard in real life.