If you live in an action-adventure universe, violence is one of those things that you just can't escape. (After all, you cannot spell pacifist without a fist.) This can be a real problem if you want your lead character to be a new-agey tree-hugging intellectual, because after Hunter S. Thompson died in 2005, how many gun-toting hippies do you know?
So you end up with the Technical Pacifist. The Technical Pacifist is willing to beat people up as much as they want. They may even get a few fatalities through the fridge. However, once it comes down to a choice between killing the villain and not, the Technical Pacifist will not kill the villain.
Unlike the principle of Thou Shalt Not Kill, the Technical Pacifist is certainly capable of making the killing strike if there was no other way, but they don't ever treat it lightly. In a certain variation they may be perfectly fine with the Self-Disposing Villain who is Too Dumb to Live being defeated because of their own Villain Ball or being hoist by their own petard; so long as they don't personally pull the trigger or push them off the building, everything is fine. A Murder by Inaction may also be fine. It's all fine as long as they don't do the killing themselves.
Sometimes, a Technical Pacifist may have an aversion to certain weapons due to their lethality (most often guns), preferring to fight with their fists and other blunt weapons that are less likely to kill someone. Other times, they employ swords or even bullets in ways designed to subdue their opponents in a non-lethal manner. Not only that but most other rules regarding Thou Shalt Not Kill are usually thrown out the window in the case of dealing with aliens, robots, zombies and/or monsters. Just as Beware the Nice Ones is for the Actual Pacifist, Good Is Not Soft is not an unusual trait for this character.
There is a villainous variant of the Technical Pacifist, often seen with the Corrupt Corporate Executive and the Worthy Opponent. In the former case, this is a villain who has no qualms about killing people, but doesn't like to get their hands dirty (or at least to be seen getting their hands dirty). So they have someone else do it instead. This invariably leads to the hero being locked in an Easily Escapable Deathtrap so that the villain won't get bloodstains on their suit. This tends to drop away when they're backed into a corner. In the latter case, the Worthy Opponent just refuses to use a gun because it's "not fair".
The Willing Suspension of Disbelief can be stretched in certain cases. Blunt weapons can still kill people, after all.
Contrast Actual Pacifist for somebody who genuinely doesn't hurt people, instead of hurting them less, and Reckless Pacifist for someone who refuses to kill, ever, but comes frighteningly close to doing so. Also contrast What Measure Is a Mook?, for the surprisingly common situation where the hero has qualms about killing the main villain at the end of the story after spending most of the plot casually blowing away the villain's minions. Compare Reluctant Warrior, who despite not wanting to fight, does fight and kills, much to their own regret. Compare and contrast Badass Pacifist, who is capable of completely defeating their opponents using only nonviolent tactics.
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- All Assorted Animorphs AUs: In the final battle of "What if they were telepathic throughout the series?", Rachel knocks many of the morph-controllers on the Blade Ship unconscious instead of killing them, including Tom. This results in the Blade Ship not getting away like in canon, and both of them being Spared by the Adaptation.
- In Power Girl fanfic A Force of Four, the heroes have managed to subdue the four villains. An Amazon suggests to kill them off, but Queen Hippolyta wants to exhaust all other options first.
- In the Supernatural/Stargate crossover series Tok'ra Apocalypse, Dean encourages the Nox to take a more active role against demons by arguing that they can use wards and exorcisms to protect themselves, thus preventing the Nox from violating their rules against violence as they aren't actually killing anyone.
- In fanfic Hellsister Trilogy, Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes actually try to imprison Satan Girl... then she is released, makes clear she won't stop until seeing Kara dead, and Supergirl is forced to fight to the death.
- In the Jackie Chan Adventures fic Queen of All Oni, Jackie, like his canon counterpart, counts as this. Also, when Jade is fighting Brother Light, he repeatedly throws her through the walls and down the hill (and at one point, through the roof), and when Jade complains during this he says he is a pacifist:
"I am a pacifist," White objected.
"Wha? Tell that to my bruises!" Jade shouted, pulling up her shirt to show her blue belly.
"Okay, they don't show up well since I'm blue, but trust me they're forming," Jade explained.
"I harm nothing, it is the objects you collide with that harm you," White enlightened her before flinging her away again.
- In the Fate/stay night Path of the King, Shirou is this as The Archer.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Supergirl crossover The Vampire of Steel, the Girl of Steel provides assistance to the Scooby Gang to deal with a Kryptonian vampire. Kara doesn't want to kill him, but at the end she is forced to agree Zol-Am's too dangerous to live and lends anti-Kryptonian tools to her friends. Prior to that adventure, she stepped aside when Buffy slew several vampires.
- Adam Jensen in Mass Effect: Human Revolution wants to be this and stick to non-lethal, but don't push him. Go far enough and he will take the kid gloves off. Go even further than that and he won't even feel bad about ending you.
- After rejecting his Winter Soldier programming, Bucky Barnes in Infinite Coffee and Protection Detail embraces a "good-guy nonlethal" approach to dealing with villains, but his newfound ethics do not forbid Knee Capping an entire HYDRA base if necessary.
- Story Shuffle 2: Double Masters: As discussed in "Vivace", the Royal Assassinorum of Equestria does not, as a rule, take any beings life. After all, actually killing is simply a waste when you can instead excise those portions of your target's psyche which you do not find useful, leaving behind not a corpse but a new asset for Equestria's prosperity.
- Jesus generally preached pacifism and tolerance ("Turn the other cheek," "Love thy neighbour," etc) and is typically portrayed as one. Of course, pacifists usually don't scatter crowds of merchants with whips on account of their greedy ways. Or, to quote from Matthew 10:16, "Be as innocent as doves and as cunning as snakes."
- In Jewish law, there are very specific cases in which capital punishment could be used. When something doesn't fall into these cases, but the court felt that the defendant needed to die, they would use a sort of immurement, which technically wasn't execution, but resulted in the convicted's death.
- Yoshiaki Fujiwara is a great wrestler. He gave pro wrestling the Fujiwara arm bar and was a notorious ankle lock fisherman. But as good as he is at wrestling he doesn't like striking too much and hates being struck even more. He'd even let go of submissions if it meant a strike free wrestling match, unfortunately he has close ties to Minoru Suzuki, who likes slapping him around, leading to Fujiwara having to tap him at Genichiro Tenryu's retirement show.
- Dan Severn's problem in pro wrestling, and mixed martial arts. He's certainly not above hurting people with joint locks or ligament snapping. Even basic controling holds can hurt by moving people in directions they are adamant against going in. But there's some part of his psyche that says hitting people is wrong, so it takes him a while to work up the will to Just Hit Him.
- Silver Potato's girlfriend in Kaiju Big Battel, Anna Dramina, never starts fights and only fights if first attacked.
- Being a hippie, Daizee Haze abhorred violence but loved physical competition. So she took up wrestling, figuring she wouldn't have to hit anyone while sating her competitive side. Of course, if you're familiar with professional wrestling in her country you can guess how successful she was at maintaining this approach to matches, but it's okay. If opponent insists on striking they'll quickly learn a heart punch nicely transitions into most of her finishing moves.
- The Blossom Twins were peace loving siblings who happened to enjoy amateur wrestling. They quickly found out pro wrestling was much more violent, especially tag team wrestling.
- In Dungeons & Dragons, the standard rule for generic clerics has long been "no edged weapons", in a Fantasy Gun Control version of this trope. The idea was originally to reconcile the presumably "peaceful" nature of priests with the vagaries of an adventuring life, though it's worth pointing out that nobody has ever requested a "humane" bludgeoning over execution by guillotine or axe.
- This conception was actually inspired by a real world example and simply popularized by said roleplaying game.
- Although to be fair, Odo of Bayeux's use of the mace wasn't quite a "technical pacifist" position, but more of a cynical attempt to get in on the glory of the English Conquest yet still be considered a "holy servant of god." Basically, Odo was a Rules Lawyer.
- In 3rd edition, since increased customization allowed for followers of different gods (including gods of war) to specialize in different areas, this was dropped and it was made so that the average cleric only has proficiency in simple weapons—the kind anyone could pick up with basic training: clubs, staves, maces, and so on, but including edged weapons like daggers and spears, and ranged weapons like crossbows (as opposed to just slings as in previous editions). This reflects a relative lack of combat training (compared to fighters, barbarians, and so on). They can, however, use advancement opportunities to learn more advanced use of weapons, and priests of the aforementioned gods of war can even start play with significant skill in their god's favored weapon if they pick the right powers.
- This has been around since Second Edition AD&D at the least. While clerics were limited in their weapon choice to non-edged weaponry (in as much as one can call a morningstar a bludgeoning weapon), the various gods in the multiverse all had what were called "specialty priests," who had their own restrictions for armor, weapons, and magical items. A specialty priest of Lathander, for example, was restricted to a cleric's weapons and no armor heavier than plate, while priests of Eilistraee could use any weapon they liked.
- The Vow of Peace feat from the Book of Exalted Deeds essentially states "feel free to massacre undead, they don't count" and "nonlethal damage (read: beating people up) is acceptable". Also, if an enemy surrenders, agrees not to fight you again, and breaks his word, you are not required to interfere if your allies kill him.
- 4th Edition's Shielding Cleric counts as well. You're not actually harming the enemies yourself—the Technical part comes in when you're leaving them stunned and with vulnerability 20 next to Shanky McRogue...
- Taking it one step further is the feat "Pacifist Healer" which significantly increases the power of the Cleric's 'go to' healing class feature, but in return, permanently disallows them from damaging bloodied opponents, or wind up stunned themselves. Aforementioned non-damaging attacks are fair game.
- This conception was actually inspired by a real world example and simply popularized by said roleplaying game.
- GURPS has the Reluctant Killer disadvantage, which keeps a character from lethally attacking a recognizable person. The character can still use deadly force on: people wearing masks, people he can't see, occupied vehicles, anything that looks like a monster, and blips on a radar screen. Along with a number of other Pacifism variants, ranging from Cannot Kill to Total Nonviolence. Even beyond that, the highest level of pacifism requires you to stop other people from doing anything that might hurt another person for any reason.
- Jadeclaw (and presumably other Sanguine Productions games) has the Pacifist flaw at three levels: "Cannot take a life," where the player cannot do anything that they 'think' will kill someone. If they "mortally wound" an opponent, they may not leave them untreated. "May only fight in self defense," which includes the previous caveats, as well as an inability to attack anyone until you, personally, are attacked. And last, "Total non-violence," where the most you can do is block, dodge, or parry.
- Whenever pacifism is an option, Min-Maxing does this. As one poster puts it — "Pacifism. A commonly taken character trait. Confers +200 to revolvers."
- Even the ludicrously deadly Paranoia has provisions for the occasional bring-them-in-alive scenario, such as tanglers (which fire sticky constricting cords, merely immobilizing the target unless they hit the neck) and stun guns.
- Magic: The Gathering: The Sun Empire in the Ixalan block holds that the greatest warriors don't kill. Feeding people to dinosaurs, on the other hand, is outright encouraged. And since some of them can magically command dinosaurs, this is little more than killing with a living weapon.
- There was an RPG with a merchant in the Middle Ages, who was the most technical of pacifists. He would say, "I'm a pacifist! I won't hurt you, but my friends will." (I.e., if the person he was talking to didn't do what he wanted.)
- LEGO claims to never produce war toys. This is only true in a certain point of view, because they still have lot of toys featuring conflict like Indiana Jones and Star Wars and produce a wide array of guns. LEGO probably stretched this statement to a critical point by releasing the "Green Army Men" set. It is part of the Toy Story line and includes four "plastic soldiers" with additional weapons and a jeep. The guns certainly aren't fitting (wild west rifles) and the figures are all-around green, but you only need to swap hands and head with yellow or flesh ones and you have a Vietnam-war era colored soldier, who you can pit against period accurate Soviet soldiers obtained from the above Indiana Jones set. There is also some kind of undergroundmarket around military LEGO. Sites like Brickarms and Brickforge sell custom-made LEGO-compatible elements, resembling authentic guns and rifles like AK-47s and bazookas to arm your figures. They are in no way affiliated with LEGO other than that their products are compatible with each other, but it's entirely possible to substitute the custom-made elements with similar official parts and build Cold War dioramas. The "Exo Force" sets were entirely about a war between anime-styled humans and robots.
- Nailbat in AntiBunny has no qualms with crippling people, and is even implied to use torture once, but always insists on leaving them still breathing.
- Dr. Staph of Awful Hospital is the type who'll have the idea to turn her bottle of alcoholic antiseptic into a Molotov cocktail. But she'll then hand the bottle over to her friend, Maggie, to ignite and throw.
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: The Giant Mook Mongo becomes this — a really short flashback vaguely explains that he won't kill any more as a Hand Wave for why his boss has him capture the hero instead of kill him.
- Celia from The Order of the Stick is probably a fantasy version of this. She won't compromise her anti-killing principles to save a friend's life, but she has no issues cheering on her teammate in battle, or blasting a guy with lightning for screwing with her.
- Lightbringer starts off as an Actual Pacifist due to his parents' belief, but becomes this trope when he realizes that true pacifism won't help anyone in the crime filled Pharos City.
- Thomil of Juathuur. His dead girlfriend, Neilli, was an Actual Pacifist.
- Bob and George: X. Or so we are told.
- Larima Torbern of Pacificators tries very hard to be an Actual Pacifist, but sometimes the situation forces her to become this. Either way, it annoys her sister Taffe.
Taffe: You dont need to fight. All you need to do is just end the fight.
Larima: Oui, I can do that.
- Decoy Octopus from The Last Days Of Fox Hound has never actually killed a single person, and doesn't even know how to use a gun. It's discussed when he's forced to "face the souls of every man he's killed" by The Sorrow and, upon finding themselves in an empty limbo, points out that being a master of disguise means subtlety and avoiding confrontation are his thing. However, he has acknowledged that just by associating with the likes of Psycho Mantis and Revolver Ocelot, he is technically complicit in mass murder.
- Rusty and Co. has Dorylis, a Cleric who can invoke Disaster Dominoes to subdue undesirables and generally cause a lot of hurt without actually being involved in a fight.
- Awkward Zombie often makes fun of how the Metal Gear series keeps track of kill counts. To avoid penalizing the player for not rescuing every enemy soldier, the game only counts direct kills. So in this strip, Big Boss exploits this loophole by dropping an unconscious soldier in front of a moving tank, and in this strip, wonders if a nonlethal takedown that accidentally kills his victim (tasering someone who then falls down a cliff) still counts as nonlethal. Taking the cake is this strip, where shooting down a helicopter with a rocket launcher still counts as nonlethal because since the pilot's body never appears, it's possible that they escaped.
- The titular protagonist of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog shows a strong aversion to violence and lethal force throughout the movie, with his laser weaponry being more non-lethal. Even when he finally has to carry through with his order to commit murder, he hesitates heavily. This ends badly. Averted with so-called superhero Captain Hammer, who has no problem using more than excessive force when the situation completely fails to warrant it.
- Mahu: In "Second Chance", the Galactic Commonwealth is a state which seeks to explore and keep good relationships with other galactic nations. Still, it is quite ready to go to war against any power which might put its citizens and territories into danger.
- In season 8 of the Hermitcraft Server, Mumbo attempts to be this In Name Only. After having garnered a reputation for killing a lot (to the point he says his middle name is Killsalot), he wishes to get through the season without killing any mobs. This only means he can't kill them directly. He even manages to find out a way to make a Blaze Farm without killing any of the Blazes himself. At the end of the day, his only pre-requisite is for his statistics to be clean of murders, which very easily may change in his advantage at any moment.
- Kazina, from the MSF High Forum, was a perfect example of 'Tropes Are Not Good'. He decided to be a pacifist, got a tranq gun, called it a day.
- In The Story of Anima, this is how Kit, Hayden and Ada operate.
- Red vs. Blue: After Locus pulls his Heel Face Turn, he decides on this philosophy to do some good in the galaxy. Not that this makes the Reds and Blues less wary of him, or several goons kneecaps less shattered.
- Ruby Quest: Interestingly, its heavily implied that Ace of all people is something like this. Prior to being corrupted by the CJOPAZE he was just an orderly and was not to harm any of the patients or staff. Even after he was corrupted, he still strictly follows those rules; while he has intimidating looks and will restrain anybody he's ordered to, he never seriously harms or kills the people he "attacks". Even as the protagonists are escaping the Metal Glen, he still refuses to hurt them and only tries to detain or slow them.
- The Call of Warr: Gravesite's not absolutely opposed to killing, but refuses to let his unit kill unless he deems it absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, Prince doesn't quite agree with this viewpoint.