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Technological Pacifist

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"Mr. Masterson! I have told my staff time and again, we do not make military robots or Headmaster Units that take over other military robots for... more military things!"'
Professor Sumdac, Transformers: Animated, "Headmaster"

A Technological Pacifist is a scientist, corporation, or organization that — no matter how smart they may be or how many other things they create — will never, ever design, produce, or sell weaponry or military products. Why they may do this may vary, but generally it's given that using their genius to make weapons would go against their core principles.

Of course, often whatever they create ends up getting used as a weapon anyway by someone who starts to Just Think of the Potential!; alternatively, they might make a Weapon of Peace that inevitably gets used for war.

Compare/contrast to Prime Directive for groups that have no problem making weapons for themselves, but simply refuse to share them with less advanced cultures.

The title comes as a pun on Technical Pacifist.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Astray has main character Lowe Guele, a mechanic who insist that mobile suits are not by nature evil, but get used that way by evil people.note  During the final showdown with original Big Bad Rondo Ghina Sahaku, Lowe even says that he can hear Rondo's MS crying about being used as an instrument of destruction.
  • Subverted in Yu-Gi-Oh!. When Kaiba took over his father's company, he changed it from a military manufacturer to a gaming company. However, the games he makes have been at times sadistic.

    Asian Animation 
  • Doctor H., the Supermen's non-biological father in Happy Heroes, is a mechanic who often invents non-weapon pieces of technology.
    Doctor H.: Why does it have to be a weapon? The same materials could be used to create things useful for people!

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: In one of the many Year One adventures, Bruce decides that his company will no longer manufacture weapons after he fights many technological threats.
  • When Iron Man was first created, at the height of the Cold War, Tony Stark's company was a proud part of the military-industrial complex. Over the years, writers changed that situation. They still have work for the military and S.H.I.E.L.D., pointing out that's where they get the funds for non-military projects and humanitarian work. After Stark Disassembled, it seems that Tony has gone full-on with this trope.
  • Superman: Wallace Luthor, Lex Luthor's grandfather, was a Technological Pacifist during World War I. He was persuaded to contribute to the war effort, and became convinced that the collapse of his company in the Wall Street Crash was his punishment.
  • Subverted in Watchmen. Ozymandias suggests after analyzing media outlets that war is approaching and that his giant corporation invest accordingly. His assistants protest that the company has never invested in armaments or weapons dealing. He responds that he was not speaking of weapons, but rather diapers, formula, and contraceptives, because people have more sex and children around war time. Not that he's any kind of pacifist in any case...

    Fan Works 

  • Batman Begins: William Earle takes over Wayne Enterprises after Thomas Wayne's death. The second sign that Earle is an unscrupulous jerk is when it's mentioned that he's expanded Wayne Enterprises into heavy arms manufacturing. (The first sign is when we hear that he's taking the company public.) Not just any weapons, either, but a device designed to vaporize people's water supply in the desert, causing them die of thirst. Although it is implied that the microwave weapon was commissioned by League of Shadows operatives that infiltrated Wayne Enterprises, you have to wonder what sort of company would even greenlight the construction of such a thing, knowing that it's a war crime waiting to happen.
  • In Danger!! Death Ray, the inventor of the titular Death Ray insists that it be used only for peaceful purposes. (A peaceful death ray. You heard right.)
  • Dr. Serizawa from Godzilla (1954) refuses to release any information on his Oxygen Destroyer until he's found a way to prevent it from being used as a Weapon of Mass Destruction. Ultimately, he commits suicide to ensure that killing Godzilla is the only time it can be used.
  • Iron Man Films:
    • When Iron Man starts, Tony Stark is the devil-may-care CEO of Stark Industries, a major military contractor, and proud of the weapons he makes. After being held in captivity, however, and seeing his weapons in the hands of terrorists, he has a moral crisis and announces that Stark's weapons manufacturing division will be shut down until he can develop full accountability for who's using them. What he doesn't know is that it's his second in command who's been double-dealing, and this develops into the movie's principal conflict. Tony also has no qualms in deploying the heavily armed Iron Man suit against said terrorists. However, remember that he doesn't seem to mind America using his weapons, he just doesn't want the terrorists using them.
    • He's gone full out with this by Iron Man 2, in which he does everything in his power to keep the Iron Man suit out of the US government's hands... except for Rhodey, who he trusts enough to use one.
  • Sort-of example: the Mad Scientist in Mystery Men makes weapons, yes, but everything is completely nonlethalsurreally so.
    "See now, this is why mad scientists are generally less desirable than your common or garden variety scientist."
  • In Real Genius, the kids at Pacific Tech are happy to work on professor Jerry Hathaway's laser research project For Science!, until they learn that it's going to be deployed in a CIA-funded Kill Sat. They then band together to sabotage the laser prototype's first test.
  • In The Rocketeer, the US military asks Howard Hughes to build a Jet Pack for them. However, he gets second thoughts after the prototype is stolen by gangsters (later revealed to be working for a Nazi spy), and it's seemingly destroyed. Seeing how potentially dangerous the creation would be, he opts out of rebuilding it. However, he is impressed when he finds out the pack not only survived, but was improved upon by the mechanic who found it.
  • The main character's father in Small Soldiers (who owns a toy store) doesn't sell violent toys. When the dad's away though, the son decides to sell a couple, little realizing that these violent toys have artificial intelligence...
  • The toy-making company in Toys doesn't make "war toys" (toy weapons), until the owner dies and his brother, who is a former military officer, inherits it. (He has an evil plan to make toys into weapons to be controlled by kids playing a video game.)

  • One of the running gags in the Discworld series is Leonard De Quirm's tunnel vision regarding his scientific creations: he's usually baffled (and occasionally horrified) when people suggest that his devices have (rather obvious) combat applications other than their designed purpose. For example, in Jingo, he's dismayed at Nobby's suggestion that the drill that allows his mini-sub to latch on to passing ships could be used to sink them instead with very little extra effort. Later, he finds that when he's sketching an enlarged submarine, his hand seems to, of its own accord, add weapons... He's also designed (though never built) actual weapons (of mass destruction, no less), but only as a hobby. He maintains that if they were ever built, no one would dare use them, which is why Lord Vetinari, having a much more accurate view of human nature, has Leonard more-or-less permanently imprisoned (not that he notices) — a good idea, considering that once the poor man designed what seemed to be a nuclear bomb in a Renaissance setting for the purpose of leveling mountains ("for mining purposes").note 
  • Harry Gant from Sewer, Gas & Electric refuses to let his company's robots be used for militaristic purposes, even going so far as not to sell them to the army as menial support personnel. Subverted in that this is only partially due to his pacifism: he also doesn't think military hardware is a "neat" enough idea to hold his attention (which is roughly that of an eight-year-old).
  • Whateley Universe: The mutant Jericho is working on Powered Armor, but it's for medics and EMTs to wear so they can help people in the middle of wars or superhero fights. Jericho himself, however, is a Combat Medic and has a BFG which he seems to have little compunction about using, as long as he's not shooting innocents.
  • The Wheel of Time: The Aes Sedai Magical Society has a magically binding oath "to make no weapon with which one man may kill another". However, it's of little importance by the era of the books because the art of magical Item Crafting is long forgotten, a single strong Aes Sedai can be a One-Man Army with the One Power alone, and the Aes Sedai have a legendary reputation for Loophole Abuse anyway.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Agent Carter, Howard Stark refuses to create inventions for the military, and tells Carter why. He once produced a serum called the Midnight Oil for military application. It didn't go against his principles, because it wasn't deadly in and of itself; it was supposed to allow troops to stay awake for long periods of time. However, it failed and instead turned test subjects psychotic. When Stark found out that General McGinnis stole the serum and used it on Soviet troops, he took a swing at McGinnis and cut ties with the military.
  • In a sketch in series 3, episode 2 of That Mitchell and Webb Look, the Mad Scientist Professor Death demonstrates his inventions to the US President and a military officer. These innocent creations include a Death Ray (a barcode scanner, which might also be adapted for delicate eye surgery) and a Laser Plated Armoured Scorpion of Death (a shop shelf-stacker - "the sting fires helpful bullets!"). However, when it is suggested that these machines might have military applications that would help the war effort, he is disgusted and attempts to smash the devices:
    "Noooooo! The Mind-Controlling Death Ants were created to help mankind, not destroy it!"
  • Thunderbirds has as its overall premise that International Rescue is kept secret because Brains and Jeff Tracy don't want their super-advanced vehicles used by the military. The only real recurring Big Bad, The Hood, tries multiple times to acquire photos and designs for the rescue vehicles, and he causes some of the disasters himself to get the chance. The odd thing is that most of the main rescue vehicles are heavily armed, and Expanded Universe materials confirm that Jeff and the boys are ex-US military personnelnote ; they're not pacifists as such, but apparently, they'd rather not start some sort of Lensman Arms Race.

    Video Games 
  • In The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, Zurin Arctus, the Underking, was one of these (at least in the version of his Multiple-Choice Past that is implied to be most accurate); he created the Numidium, an enormous golem, to serve as a Weapon of Peace and was horrified when Tiber Septim started using it as an offensive weapon to forge an empire instead. Later games retconned this in various ways.
  • At the beginning of Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Nick Fury is pissed at Tony Stark for withdrawing Stark International from making weapons and the like.
  • The Sirta Foundation in Mass Effect doesn't produce any weapons out of ethical concerns. They will, however, produce Biotic Amps that can give a user the ability to kill people with their mind, as well as omni-tools that can be used to shut down people's brains. Well, they aren't technically weapons, now are they? They also produce the medi-gel that you will mostly use to allow your teammates to continue blasting the hell out of everything in their path.
  • In Portal, the founder of Aperture Technologies got his start creating shower curtains for the military. When he came upon the idea for the portals, he apparently thought their primary purpose would be as shower curtains (or so the only known sources say).
  • Rex, the protagonist of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, is a Salvager, who delves into the Cloudsea to retrieve the lost technology within it for resale. Out of his idealism and his distaste for armed conflicts, he makes a point of skipping over any weaponisable technology, even though the growing tensions between the Ardanian Empire and the Kingdom of Uraya would have made this profitable for him. Vandham, leader of the Garfont Mercenaries, picks a hole in Rex's philosophy by advising him that militia don't only require weapons to function; they also need a range of other kinds of technologies for logistical, transportation and administrative reasons, as well. As such, even if Rex wasn't supplying armies or mercenaries with weapons, he had no way of guaranteeing that he wasn't indirectly supplying them in other ways.


    Western Animation 
  • DC Animated Universe:
    • The Batman: The Animated Series episode "Blind as a Bat" marks Bruce Wayne's first, last, and only time developing anything for the military. After the troubles that stem from that, Bruce declares that Wayne Corp will never develop weapons again. This comes up in several later episodes, but most notably in the Superman: The Animated Series crossover "World's Finest", when Lex Luthor and Bruce work together on a tech project developing robotic spider drones. Lex tries to sell Bruce on military applications, but Bruce forcefully and authoritatively shuts him down.
    • In Batman Beyond, Derek Powers secretly uses Wayne Corp to develop weapons, conventional and biological, and then sells them to Kaznia. Bruce is disgusted when he finds out, and him taking back control of his company becomes a minor plot thread for the series.
  • In Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Stark International under Howard Stark is an example of this. When he dies and Corrupt Corporate Executive Obadiah Stane takes over, this policy naturally goes out the window; Tony's fury at the "corruption" of his father's company — and not a little of his own engineering work — is a recurring theme throughout the season, as his distaste towards working with S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003): O'Neil Tech from Fast Forward is a large corporate empire that has weapons manufacturing prohibited by its charter — and an Evil Uncle who secretly uses the company to build them anyways behind everyone's back.
  • Sumdac Systems from Transformers: Animated, as the quote from the top of the page shows. However, they do produce a police robot that appears to wield quite dangerous weaponry, and Sumdac himself built the Dinobots (though to be fair, Megatron was pulling the strings on that one; he never meant for them to breathe fire). To drive the point home, when the company is taken over by a Corrupt Corporate Executive, one of the first things he does is hire a villain from a previous episode (who tried to blow up the city, no less) so that he can make military robots for him.