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The Soft-Hearted Warrior

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"I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend."
Faramir, The Two Towers
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War is almost as old as the human race. And there are many types of people who fight. Proud Warrior Race Guys, Warrior Monks, even, when the situation calls for it, the Technical Pacifist.

War often demands a calm, cold exterior. And for some warriors, that exterior is something they carry with them the whole of the day. Not this person. The Soft-Hearted Warrior knows how to relax, off of the battlefield. When the helmet comes off, expect them to have smiles for loved ones, a hearty laugh for their fellows, and to be of good cheer to the people they've protected.

No time for The Stoic, brooding about how War Is Hell. The Soft-Hearted Warrior knows that they're fighting to protect something, and they take the time to appreciate it. Don't expect them to subscribe to No Place for Me There, because that place is exactly what they're waiting for.

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This trope can be equally applied to male and female characters alike. If there's a Retired Badass in town, expect him or her to have this as a part of their characterization.

Though a Bruiser with a Soft Center, a Martial Pacifist or a Reluctant Warrior may fall under this trope, it is just as possible that they are a dedicated member of the armed forces who knows how to leave the violence of the battlefield behind when they're at home.

There is strong overlap with A Father to His Men, but this trope covers more than commanding officers, such as enlisted personnel and solitary warriors. Compare and contrast All-Loving Hero and its parent trope, Ideal Hero, the far more idealistic (and less pragmatic) versions of this trope.

It isn't that they aren't impacted by the horrors of war, but that family and friends help them keep life in healthy perspective.

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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Claymore. Teresa of the Faint Smile exemplifies this after she meets Clare. She tends to be light-hearted and gentle whenever she's with Clare, and her death impacts Clare to the point where she demands to become a Claymore.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Maes Hughes is an amicable man with a big heart and immense love for his family and strangers alike. He's almost always seen showing off pictures of his beloved wife and daughter—but he's also a decorated veteran of the Ishvalan war, a high-ranking member of the military, and spends his days at work investigating his fellow soldiers with an unwavering loyalty to bettering Amestris.
  • Antares, from Galaxy Express 999. He's carrying around bullets from various wars on various planets. But he also makes it a point to look after the orphans on Titan, and is friendly and jovial... once you prove you're not a machine man, that is.
  • Violet Evergarden. The eponymous heroine of the series is a former Child Soldier, who now serves as an "Auto Memories Doll", someone who writes letters for someone else. Rather than dictation, her duty is to figure out the essence of what a client is truly trying to say, and express that in the letters she writes. So intuitive is Violet at this task that she becomes the most requested "Doll" of her agency. But when danger threatens, she demonstrates that she can still hold her own in a combat situation, although she now tries to adhere strictly to Thou Shall Not Kill.

    Comic Books 
  • Captain America is a patriot, through and through. And a skilled fighter of no small measure. He's also been known to deliver many a You Are Better Than You Think You Are speech, and once brought Jubilee, a vampire at the time, to fight some Nazi Vampires. Not, as she initially believed, as an object lesson on what could happen to her if she went rogue, but instead as an example to the others as to how much better they can be.
  • Superman: Superman is widely considered the World's Strongest Man and is both feared and renowned as the most ferocious protector of the Earth. Though he will never back down from a fight if one is necessary, Superman greatly prefers other methods of helping or defending others. Called the "Big Blue Boy Scout", he will even perform such mundane good deeds as helping the elderly cross the street, reading books to orphans, delivering food or supplies across the world, and, of course, rescuing helpless kittens from trees.
  • Wonder Woman: The Ambadassador from Themyscira, Diana is an Amazon warrior princess that was trained to be the strongest and fiercest of her kind. She is more than willing to put down enemies if there are no other alternatives, but she much prefers helping and healing those that will listen. This is symbolic with her Lasso of Truth, which is not only capable of binding foes but will repel illusions and Mind Manipulation and force the bound person to reveal the truth — even uncomfortable ones.

    Fan Works 
  • Inter Nos, Natsuki and Shizuru both have this going for them.
    • A veteran of combat, Shizuru is always kind to her troops, even to the point where, when she has to discipline them, she makes it clear she believes them better than their transgressions. She once had to have two soldiers flogged for theft. After an impassioned speech by her, they were both begging tearfully for their punishment. She also serves as a member of the Senate at home, and will frequently buy gifts for her bodyguard/mistress. And when she learns that a corrupt governor is illegally selling citizenship, she does not inflict the standard penalty of flogging, particularly in cases where the newly minted citizens bought it for the ability to get grain discounts to feed their families. And for wealthier individuals, she simply resorts to land seizure, and not all of their land.
    • Natsuki, in the heat of the first battle depicted in the work, is described as having an utterly bored look on her face when she's slaying enemy soldiers. But she's also shown fawning over puppies and is delighted to receive a panther cub as a gift, who she dotes on like a mother. And Shizuru reflects on the fact that when she's had a hard day, Natsuki will hum songs to her to help her relax.

    Literature 
  • The Lord of the Rings: Faramir, while captain of the Rangers of Ithilien, seeks only to defend his people from Sauron's forces, and has no love of violence.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who, the Christmas special, "Twice Upon a Time", Captain Lethbridge-Stewart is calmly trying to explain to the German in the bomb crater with him that he has no desire to shoot him. He's also willing to lay down his life for a complete stranger.
  • M*A*S*H gives us Colonel Sherman T. Potter. Regular Army, served since World War I. Potter served in combat in the first World War, then became a doctor afterwards. While he no longer serves in a combat role, there's no doubt about his ability to stay cool under fire. One time, Radar woke him to report that they were dealing with rocket fire, only for Potter to listen a moment, then announce, "It's ours" and attempt to go back to sleep. But he also has a soft side that shows through fairly regularly, particularly whenever he talks about his wife, Mildred. Or his horse, Sophie. He also knows how to allow his people to unwind from time to time without sacrificing their readiness.
    • The episode "Tea and Empathy" gives us Maj. Ross, of the British Army. On his first visit to the 4077, he seems to be breathing fire and berating his injured men. So, when he returns, Hawkeye fears he's going to try to quick march the injured soldiers out of the hospital, only to find that he's delivering the mail to the men, and listening to them read their letters. He explains to Hawkeye that his first appearance at the camp was a sort of "Cruel to be Kind", stating that only a madman would lash out at a wounded man without cause, so if he's acting that way, his men believe they're going to be okay because he believes they're going to be okay.
  • Stargate SG-1 gives us several...
    • Jack O'Niel: Lost his son before the series began, and throughout the entire series just wants to stargaze and fish when not on duty at the SGC. On top of that, any time the team is around children, his soft nature comes out. From giving Cassandra a Dog, to teaching a child destined to have their nanites removed how to be a child in the first place, Jack is an exceptionally caring officer. Just note that this love of children also means that if you threaten one, he will risk a life sentence in the deepest hole the US Government can find to bring you down.
    • Major General George Hammond: Knows how to play the political game like a politician, is quick to reprimand his troops when they make a mistake, and just exudes authority with his very presence. But the most important people in his life are not the men and women under his command, and it's not the officers and politicians above him... It's his Grandkids. He took the job at the SGC before the program kicked back off because it was a fast track to retirement, and when the Goa'Uld invaded his SGC, he damn near took it personally and has since been there every time a team steps through the gate.
    • Samantha Carter: The woman that knows more about astrophysics than almost everyone in the SGC, wrote the current dialing program, can shoot the swinging rope hanging a heavy log from 70 yards away with a P90, can build Naquida Generators in her sleep, and can win a hand-to-hand fight with a Village Chieftain. Despite this, she never misses a birthday for Cassandra, goes to bat for a cadet that was about to be expelled, and relishes every chance she has to do something new and exciting.
    • Teal'c: Built like a brick outhouse, can crush a man's fist like it was nothing, and not afraid to shoot first and ask questions later as the need arises. But like O'Neil, he adores kids, especially his own Son, Rya'c. He also enjoys a round of golf and watching television when not Kelnoriming.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy XIV
    • The Warrior of Light is a One-Man Army said to fight like a demon on the battlefield. They've slaughtered more Garleans than anyone can count, brought low Physical Gods and Eldritch Abominations, and slain the otherwise immortal Ascians. But when they're not fighting, they can often be found funding orphanages, rebuilding settlements ravaged by war, and helping anyone who asks nicely enough.
    • Raubahn Aldynn is the general of the Immortal Flames, one of the three largest military organizations in Eorzea. He's a proud warrior of Ala Mhigo who won a thousand battles on the bloodsands of Ul'dah's coliseum as well as a battle-hardened war veteran. But he's also a jovial and friendly man to his compatriots, a Father to His Men, and a proud and doting father to his adopted son.
  • Mass Effect: Paragon Shepard is an unstoppable badass in a fight, but seeks peace and cooperation whenever they can and tries to avoid violence whenever possible. S/he also inspires others to be better than they think they are and unite the galaxy, even being basically the one person who's willing to give the rachni and geth a chance.

     Web Animation 

  • RWBY: Pyrrha Nikos is a powerful, competent fighter. She was also one of the friendliest, delightful people you could ever hope to meet.

    Western Animation 
  • One segment of the Æon Flux shorts, aptly titled "War", we see a man wielding a sword take out a gun-toting soldier who had entered their compound. A small child pokes her head out of a door, and the swordsman smiles at her, gently caressing her hair, before ushering her off to safety again as an alarm begins blaring through the base.
  • The titular Samurai Jack will show no mercy to a foe once engaged, but is kind and soft-spoken when not fighting, and still has a love for the beauty of nature.

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