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Virtue Is Weakness

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"Honesty is fatal, it should be taboo
Diligence a fate I would hate
If charity means giving, I give it to you
And fidelity is only for your mate."
Mordred, "The Seven Deadly Virtues", Camelot

Compassion, generosity, mercy, honesty, honor, loyalty, justice, friendship, and love. It is by these values by which people are able to cooperate and society is able to function.

One way to show a bad guy really Kick the Dog is to express his distaste for these virtues. It's not that he absolutely can't comprehend good; he understands exactly what goodness entails, and views it as an unnecessary burden that would hold him back and a weakness to be exploited in others. Though it is possible for the bad guy to share both of these tropes, in that the villain may not understand it at first, but later on, might scoff at such a concept with ridicule.

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This is a very common subject of a Breaking Speech when the Big Bad is confronted by the hero. It's also common for the villain to give a short speech about this when the hero is confronted with the choice of killing the villain and refuses to kill him. The hero usually responds by it is from good where his strength comes and that it's through the power of goodness that a diverse species as humans were able to succeed. Depending on where the work falls on the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, the hero may be vindicated...or not.

Belief in this is a telltale sign of being The Sociopath, The Unfettered, or a Social Darwinist who sees empathy for others as a bad trait in favor of a literal struggle between life and death. This can be one of the Jerk Justifications for a character to be a Jerkass with a Lack of Empathy. The Unapologetic may justify themselves for not apologizing by believing that remorse makes a person weak. A lot of the time, this tends to be the rationalization of someone who thinks It's All About Me. Cynically interpreted, one who believes this can be seen as the Übermensch.

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For some explanation on why this view is wrong, see our analysis page.

See also Straw Nihilist, who believes that good is pointless rather than a weakness (though it's not uncommon for many villains to believe both). Supertrope to Love Is a Weakness. Contrast Evil Virtues, where evil displays virtues/morals in order to be effective.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Death Note: When Soichiro chooses to try to arrest Mello rather than kill him with the Death Note as Light expected him to do, despite the fact that Mello had kidnapped and traumatized Sayu, Light is annoyed and openly declares it an act of stupidity. Light's way of thinking comes back to bite him hard when, later on, he mocks Soichiro in front of his former assistant Matsuda and, in a fit of rage, Matsuda shoots Light's right hand, preventing him from writing into the Death Note, and then shoots him four more times for good measure.
  • It's a common theme for the villains of One Piece to share this sentiment, some of the best examples are:
    • Don Krieg from the Baratie Arc considers sympathy, pride, and honor as signs of weakness and is willing to kill anyone in his crew for showing it.
    • Crocodile and few Baroque Works officers during the Alabasta Arc sees camaraderie beyond professionalism and a common goal as a sign of weakness. Crocodile and Daz Bones now softened their view a bit.
    • Pre-timeskip Bellamy mocks Luffy for believing in his dreams, and the present is all that matters, he gets one good punch in the face for it.
    • The Time-Skip shows Hody Jones laughing at Princess Shirahoshi for not hating him while knowing that Hody was the real killer to her mother the whole time, because that would go against her mother's wishes. Speaking of which, Hody and his crew would see any of their fellow merfolk and fishmen attempting peace with the humans as traitors.
    • Vinsmoke Judge aka Sanji's father, is a firm believer of this. He considers Sanji feeding common folk — "rats", as he calls them — to be disgusting, as "royalty should never serve commoners" in his mind. He's also not big on mercy, believing that those with power have a right to brutalize the weak. The worst, and possibly most self-destructive part? He considers being a chef a worthless profession, certainly not one fit for "royalty." All his children, bar Sanji, share this mindset. It would seem none of them have heard the old adage "armies march on their stomachs."
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Freeza has nothing but disgust and contempt for Goku for showing mercy to him, and even goes so far as to mock him for it point-blank. In Resurrection 'F', he says that Gohan choosing not to kill any of his Mooks actually makes him sick.
    • Vegeta is a firm believer of this, to the extent that during the Buu Saga, he let himself be enslaved by Babidi's magic because he wanted to rid himself of the feelings he had developed for Earth and his family. By the end of the series, he realizes otherwise and has embraced virtues like love and friendship, though he's still in the Good Is Not Nice camp.
    • The Saiyan race as a whole believe traits like compassion, forgiveness, love, and even family bonds to be weaknesses. They call it "going soft" and it's part of the reason Vegeta despises Goku for so long; he's a Saiyan who gained such power in spite of these "weaknesses".
  • InuYasha: During the later part of the series, Naraku states outright that just seeing Inuyasha and his companions show mercy to Kanna, who he had sent on a Suicide Mission to kill them, actually makes him sick.
  • Gilgamesh from Nasuverse has a complicated view on this as he's canonically mocked and praised virtue, which seem to vary depending upon the person he's talking to.
    • In Fate/Zero, Gilgamesh at first sees Rider as a fool for challenging him for the Grail, but ultimately comes to view him as a Worthy Opponent upon seeing the strength of his convictions and his bonds of loyalty and friendship with his warriors. He even goes so far as to spare the life of Rider's Master Waver simply because his loyalty to his Servant/king was so strong, praising him for it. As for Saber, while he mocks her desire he does find a fascination for her convictions and willpower, as well as her stubborn refusal to ever be his, which is why he's attracted to her.
    • In Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works], Gilgamesh defeats Berserker with ease because he wouldn't stop shielding Illya from his attacks. Gligamesh mocks him and says if Berserker had just abandoned the child to her fate and attacked him full force, he might have stood a chance. He also mocks Shirou and Rin for wasting time trying to save Shinji's life when killing him would have accomplished their goal faster (stopping him from being the host of the Holy Grail). In both these cases, he sees Illya and Shinji as beneath notice (Illya is an Artificial Human whose only purpose is to be the Grail, and Shinji is a pretty despicable human being) and wouldn't see why anyone would fight to save their lives.
  • Pokémon: During the Diamond and Pearl arc, Paul is firmly convinced that befriending one's Pokémon is a waste of time, and regularly abandons any Pokémon of his that he considers weak or doesn't meet his expectations. This bites him in the ass when Ash takes in a Chimchar he abandoned, raises it into an Infernape, and defeats him in the Pokémon league with it.
  • In Gate, Emperor Molto Sol Augustus shows contempt for Japan's policy of caring for and rescuing as many citizens as possible, unlike his Empire which doesn't care about "peasants" and will sacrifice as many men as needed to achieve victory. He declares that in spite of Japan's superior military might, their compassion is a sentimental weakness that can be exploited. The Empire fails to find a way to exploit it and loses.
  • Baccano!: Claire Stanfield has a weird inverted way of looking at this. Specifically, he believes virtues like mercy and compassion are strengths that only the truly strong are privileged to possess since they can afford to let them backfire without worry for themselves. And he's the strongest guy around.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman. Jim Gordon's sociopathic serial killer son James Gordon Jr. believes that empathy is a weakness.
  • The Big Bad in the first Blacksad comic book is a notorious Corrupt Corporate Executive who murdered his mistress in cold blood and uses his vast wealth to place himself above the law. When Blacksad tracks him down to exact vengeance, the bad guy taunts him that he wouldn't dare to perform a Vigilante Execution because Blacksad is held down by his moral scruples. The villain prides himself on being so cold-blooded that he would do anything for power and his own gratification. Blacksad blows his brains out, noting afterwards that he wouldn't have been able to go through with it if for not for this display of sheer haughtiness.
  • Usagi Yojimbo: "What fools, who mistake honor for weakness." Usagi usually gets called a coward when he refuses to fight, in this case in a duel for other people to bet on with an opponent who is clearly not on Usagi's level because the guy needs money for his family and unbeknownst to him his "agent" knows exactly how good Usagi is and doesn't want to share the winnings.
  • Judge Dredd: In a prequel story it is shown that Judge Fire tracked down two Dark Judges who had gone rogue, one of whom was a female colleague that he was infatuated with. When he confronts them, he kills her sycophantic subordinate on the grounds that "love is a crime".
  • This is a recurring theme among antagonists faced by Superman, such as Lex Luthor and General Zod. Many of them believe that Superman could Take Over the World if he wanted to since he's just that powerful (and several Alternate Universe stories show that they're right), but they believe that his moral code that makes him more of a protecting and guiding figure holds him back. This being Superman, his response to them is that he draws his strength from his love of his adopted home and humanity.
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    Fan Works 
  • Queen Chrysalis in ''Metamorphosis'' not only doesn't understand why Twilight still fights for them, despite all of them having cold-heartedly left her, but is disgusted at the fact.
    • The sequel, Directions after Trixie is freed from the Alicorn Amulet, Olive Branch laughs at the idea that she would feel remorse over it.
    • In the same story, Chrysalis in her second appearance gave Rarity a Shut Up, Kirk! speech on how the Mane Five got over their guilt in the wedding over the past year.
  • Sonata in Turnabout Storm mentions feeling pity for others (in other words, compassion) as a weakness. There's a catch though: She doesn't see it a weakness of character, but as one in a pragmatic sense. Continuing with her blackmailer schemes became difficult when she started to realize how much damage she was causing to others.
  • In I Against I, Me Against You, The Director tells Celestia this after he reveals his intentions to hold Canterlot hostage with the Mother of Invention
    Director: Perhaps now you see the cost of letting your conscience take precedence?
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: The original Falla had nothing but disgust and contempt for both Luna and Complica, her own sisters, for their Nice Girl attitudes; she even went so far as to send Complica to her death, deeming her a disgrace to the chronofly species for her kindness. Of course, as a whole, the chronoflies were a peaceful, reclusive race, with Falla as the main exception.
  • Kingdom Hearts 3: Final Stand:
    • A key factor in Orochi Mae's beliefs. In both How We Met and Radiant Garden Renegades chapter 5, he mocks Kaname to his face for his kindness and compassion; in the latter story, he goes so far as to commit suicide in front of him out of spite for said compassion.
    • The crux of Braig's beliefs. He even states as such in a rant to Sasuke in Re:Final Stand chapter 34, stating it's what he hated the most while he worked for Ansem and the guard:
      Braig: Always the same with you! Always about your pitiful loyalist ideals! I hate that about you most of all! I hated that about the guard, and I certainly hated that about Yamato and especially Kaname! Heck, even Sora is now getting on my nerves with all his talk about his friends being his power! People who fight for those other than themselves don't survive!
  • Pony POV Series: Makarov mocks Shining Armor for lacking the willingness to sacrifice his men to achieve victory.
  • Fates Collide: Jaune Arc nearly effortlessly blocks Jaune Alter's attacks, until Alter aims at Arc's injured horse. Arc blocks the attack but creates an opening that allows Alter to knock his shield away. Alter calls Arc stupid and says protecting others makes him weak.

    Film — Animated 
  • The Incredibles
  • Titan in Megamind shoots down Roxanne's belief that there's good in everyone after she tries to reason with him.
    Titan: You're so naive, Roxy. You see the good in everybody even when it's not there. You're living in a fantasy! There is no Easter Bunny, there is no Tooth Fairy, and there is no Queen of England! This is the real world, and you need to wake up!
  • Nidhiki tells his old comrade Lhikan this in BIONICLE: Legends of Metru Nui after he throws down his weapons in surrender upon seeing Nidhiki hold Vakama over the lava forge, right before dropping him anyways as a last "screw you" for his and Lhikan's troubled past together. Luckily, Lhikan is still able to save Vakama with a well-timed kick of his shield that gets him to safety. He likely gets it from his Bad Boss The Shadowed One, who views virtues like friendship and honor as shackles that hold one back and are only good for manipulating others to his side (like promising to help someone find his Only Friend in exchange for services...while secretly keeping said friend imprisoned deep within his own fortress).
    Nidhiki: Compassion...was always your weakness, brother. (drops Vakama)
  • In Atlantis: The Lost Empire, the Big Bad Commander Lyle T. Rourke shows complete confusion and frustration when his crew felt remorse for condemning Atlantis to death and mocks them for it.
    Rourke: Aw, you can't be serious.
    Audrey: This is wrong and you know it!
    Rourke: We're this close to our biggest payday ever and you pick now of all times to grow a conscience?!

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy:
    • Batman Begins has Ducard trying to talk Bruce into executing a criminal during his martial arts training, arguing that Bruce's compassion is a weakness that his enemies will not share. Bruce counters that that's why compassion is so important since it's what makes him different from his enemies.
    • In The Dark Knight, once Gotham's top crime bosses call a truce to take down Batman, they discuss the fact that Batman does not kill and how it is a reason to not really fear him at all. Batman later proves the mafia leader, Sal Maroni, wrong by dropping him from a non-lethal, yet quite painful height.
  • In Batman & Robin, Mr. Freeze zaps Robin, forcing Batman into a Sadistic Choice: "Chase the villain or save the boy." He concludes, "Emotion makes you weak. That's why the day is mine. I'll kill you next time."
  • This is more distaste for one virtue, but in The Karate Kid (1984), Sensei Kreese delivers a denigrating speech about mercy to his students.
    "Mercy is for the weak. We do not train to be merciful here. If a man faces you, he is the enemy. An enemy deserves no mercy."
    • This of course comes back to bite him in the rear. After a student is permanently banned from future competitions when he forces the kid to show "no mercy" in the climactic POINT SPARRING TOURNAMENT, followed by his vicious assault on his senior student for failure to win (and then his humiliating defeat at the hands of a most definitely merciful Miyagi), his students all leave him and the third film in the trilogy shows him bankrupt and ruined as a result.
  • In Man of Steel, Faora-Ul gives Superman a speech about this combined with rantings of social darwinism.
    Faora: You're weak, son of El. The fact that you possess a sense of morality and we do not give us an evolutionary advantage. And if history has proven anything, it is that evolution always wins.
  • Superman II. During the battle in Metropolis Superman spends a lot of time saving people from falling debris. General Zod shares an observation with his fellow villain Ursa.
    General Zod: This "Superman" is nothing of the kind. I've discovered his weakness. He cares. He actually cares for these people.
  • In Flash Gordon, as Flash is going to be executed, Dale is crying. Ming the Merciless and his daughter have this exchange:
    Aura: Look! Water is leaking from her eyes!
    Ming: It's what they call "tears". It's a sign of their weakness.
  • Various Sith in the Star Wars universe believe that the Jedi's adherence to their Code (which promotes self-control and peaceful conflict resolution) is what makes them weaker than the Sith themselves (who give lip-service to valuing freedom from restraints above all else while being just as dogmatic and order-obsessed in their own way as the Jedi).
  • In Downfall, Adolf Hitler gives a speech during one of the dinners in the bunker that he believes it is natural and right that the strong should kill off the weak, citing how apes bash in the skulls of smaller ones during fights. He calls compassion towards other people a "natural sin" and morality a human flaw. Although humorously enough, after giving this speech, he receives news that Himmler and his forces have surrendered to the advancing Anglo-American allies (who are certainly the "strong" in this situation) and flies into an explosive rage, calling him a traitor with no morals. A rather meta case of Moral Myopia.
  • In Alien, Ash expresses an admiration for the extra-terrestrial monster which is stalking and killing off the Nostromo's crew. He prizes it for being a remorseless predator who survives because it is "unclouded by delusions of morality".
  • The Third Man: This attitude is implicit throughout Harry Lime's speeches to Martins, especially on the Ferris wheel.
    Lime: Victims? Don't be melodramatic. Look down there. Tell me. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare?
  • In Blade, Deacon Frost taunts Blade about his humanity, and escapes from him in one scene by throwing a little girl into traffic and forcing Blade to waste time saving her.
  • In Blade: Trinity, Drake also taunts Blade about his humanity, and escapes from him in one scene by throwing a baby into the air and forcing Blade to waste time catching him.
  • In Jonah Hex, Turnbull uses Lilah as a shield. Jonah cannot bring himself to risk shooting her and surrenders. Turnbull mocks him, saying his inability to sacrifice anyone to achieve victory is his weakness.
  • In Godzilla: Final Wars, Ozaki holds back when sparring because he doesn't want to hurt his teammates and cares more about saving people than fighting the bad guys. His teammate Kazama angrily lectures him that his compassion is holding him back. Later, when Kazama is Brainwashed and Crazy, Ozaki defeats him without killing him. A grateful Kazama admits he was wrong before pulling a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • In A Knight's Tale, Adhemar calls William weak when he shows mercy to Sir Colville after the latter is injured during their second tilt.
  • Avengers: Infinity War: Love and compassion are not alien to Thanos, but he believes that they make people weak and get in the way of the "simple calculus" of what needs to be done. He reprimands Gamora for losing her unwavering will after her Heel–Face Turn and shows disdain for both her and Loki as they give in after witnessing the torture of their siblings. By contrast, he praises Peter Quill and Wanda for being willing to Kill The Ones They Love. He conquers his own weakness by tossing Gamora off the cliff.
  • The Postman: One of the Holnists' last law says "Mercy is for the weak", and boy does General Bethlehem live it out. He doesn't expect it himself at the end as a result, but then he's spared by the Postman. Then he tries to shoot the Postman after this, but is shot himself. This is all part of the Holnists' cruel Social Darwinist ideology.

    Literature 
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish remarks that Eddard Stark's honorable nature is his greatest weakness even though he treats it as his armor. This comes back to bite Ned when Cersei Lannister and Littlefinger exploit that Good Cannot Comprehend Evil and capture him, leading to his public execution by the new king Joffrey.
    • This is a common belief that is passed down through the current Lannister family. Even the otherwise good-intentioned Tyrion considers honor to be a way to death.
    • It could even be argued that this is the central theme of the entire franchise.
  • Voldemort of Harry Potter considers love, friendship and anything related to compassion a weakness. And then does his darndest to prove his point by using these traits in other people as a weapon against them. Justified by his loveless upbringing and the fact that he is extremely powerful in areas of Black Magic that require you to genuinely want to hurt people, so being anything other than a remorseless sociopath would severely crimp his style.
  • Carcer, the Big Bad of Night Watch is basically convinced that morals and laws are just arbitrary lines in the sand that lesser people draw to pretend that they're safe, and hence, he can do whatever the hell he likes - he's a man who, if he wanted to know the time, would stab you to death and take your watch rather than simply ask you. Vimes doesn't take kindly to that way of thinking. Not at all.
  • The protagonist of The Secret Place by Tana French believes that friendship is a weakness. His point of view is partly influenced by the fact he grew up with people who wouldn't have supported his ambition to have a career in the police force. Not a villainous example, he does get some character development with regard to this attitude, too.
  • The Marquis de Sade and his characters often mocked or dismissed compassion, mercy etc. in favor of cruelty and killing for the sheer pleasure which it brought them, viewing the former as denying this for no good reason.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The A-Team, "Curtain Call". Col. Decker talks about how having one man wounded will make the A-Team's ability crumble as they try to save their injured member. He's right that it hampers them, but it doesn't stop them. Given that the "virtue" in question is loyalty to their injured friend, it overlaps with a platonic version of Love Is a Weakness.
    Col. Decker: [The A-Team] think as one, feel as one, and act as one. But with a wounded man in their midst, they cease to be that. The good of the unit becomes the good of an individual. And that will be their undoing.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Quentin Travers regards Giles' fatherly love for Buffy as a distraction and weakness, outright declaring it "useless to the cause."
  • Game of Thrones: Cleaving to virtues like love, honor, and justice comes at a very high price for several characters, but others use it to inspire Undying Loyalty from those around them.
  • In Lois & Clark, after Lex Luthor analyzes Superman through a series of tests of his strength and speed, he remarks to his servant that he has found the chink in his armor; the fact he has morals.
  • In The Big Bang Theory, once Sheldon Cooper realizes that his girlfriend Amy had been making him more compassionate and open-minded he goes and attempts to break up with her, realizing that she had been weakening the strength of his own values of stubbornness and complete disregard for others' opinions.
  • Discussed in the "A Scandal in Belgravia" episode of Sherlock, with Sherlock asking his brother is his lack of caring about others is a good or bad thing.
    Sherlock: Look at them. They all care so much. Do you ever wonder if there's something wrong with us?
    Mycroft: All lives end. All hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage, Sherlock.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Space Seed", when Marla McGivers asks to be excused from seeing her captain and the other officers executed, Khan comments, "I had hoped you would be stronger."
  • Doctor Who:
  • In The Flash (2014), while Leonard Snart/Captain Cold acquires a "cold generator" that allows him to hurt The Flash, he considers his real weakness to be his focus on saving people instead of beating the bad guy. Snart uses this to his advantage by derailing a train and forcing the Flash to save everyone, then attacking from behind while the Flash catches his breath.
  • Smallville:
    • Lionel Luthor believes in this wholeheartedly, and he has been teaching this to his son Lex his whole life. Lex initially tries not to follow and to be genuinely good at first, but later on, everyone's constant rejection of his attempts at goodness leads him to gradually embrace his selfishness and exploitation of others.
    • The events of the Season 8 finale, where his splitting Davis and Doomsday from one another leads to Jimmy's death at Davis' hands, leads Clark to adopt this belief. He states to Chloe afterwards that caring too much about other people limits his ability to save them.
    Clark: I've always tried to forget I was an alien or a creature. I've always tried to pretend I was human. I was raised to believe it was my Kryptonian part that was dangerous, Chloe, but I was wrong. It's my human side. It... It's the side that gets attached, the side that makes decisions based on emotions. That's my enemy. And Davis proved that to me.
    Chloe: So, because of some psychopath, you're gonna cut the rest of us out of your life? Clark... human emotion is what made you the hero that you are today.
    Clark: They're what's stopping me from being the hero I could be. It's what the world needs now.

    Music 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer: As the Chaos Space Marines say it best, "Sanity... is for the weak!" Given that one of their gods is a literal embodiment of excess in every way, shape and form, they actually gain favor with him (her? It's complicated.) by corrupting the virtuous and the faithful. The others aren't much better, like the Chaos god of disease, plague and love being very generous with his gifts of boils and pestilence, while the god of backstabbers, mutants and sorcerers is hope incarnate. And then there's Khorne, who was the god of martial valor before becoming an enraged berserker who doesn't care if his followers, their enemies or non-combatants shed blood in battle note .
    • "Mercy is a sign of weakness" is a common motto/thought of the day in 40k. In the video game Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, it can be found engraved on the butt of artillery shells.
    • The Dark Elf society is revolved wholly around making sure the Druchii are as ruthless as possible to not only the slaves but to their own kin as well. Anyone caught showing even the slightest act of compassion towards others often find themselves with a knife to their back as their society is a brutal martial society where mistreated slaves serve as labor so they focus on killing better.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Mercykillers from the Planescape campaign setting are zero tolerance on injustice. Their credo is that 'mercy is for the weak, and the merciful should be punished'- they preferred to exact brutal, final punishments for criminals, and viewed mercy as a weakness to be purged from the multiverse.
    • The Drow generally hold this belief, thanks in part to a goddess who thinks Chronic Backstabbing Disorder is the only way to live.
  • This is one of Black's traits in Magic: The Gathering. It rejects all virtues that won't help it reach it's own personal goals and ambitions; Black isn't necessarily evil, but it doesn't care about morals.

    Theatre 
  • In Camelot, Mordred sings a song called "The Seven Deadly Virtues", saying that courage, purity, honesty, humility, diligence, fidelity and charity are "ghastly little traps" fit only for those more foolish than he.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • When told that the titular character of Nomad of Nowhere saved his soldiers from a forest fire, Don Paragon's first intent is to exploit the Nomad's moral compass to help capture him.
  • If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device: Episode 26 begins with a monologue on the matter by the Emperor. Back during the times he was personally leading humanity to the stars, he found that compassion and empathy were hindering his progress, to the point of being directly opposed at times. So he got rid of them, even if it meant no longer being human, so he could be the leader humanity seemed to need. But now, the galaxy and humanity itself are crueler and worse than ever, so he realizes he desperately needs them back, because it's now more than ever that humanity needs a little, well, humanity to stop circling the drain to oblivion.

    Web Comics 
  • At some point in Girl Genius, Gilgamesh Wulfenbach complains that every time he tries to be reasonable or show compassion, other people see it as weakness and attack him, forcing him to beat them up instead (in the process of doing exactly that). Then it clicks for him that the same happens to his father.
  • In Kill Six Billion Demons, this is part of the catechism of the God-Emperor Mammon, who had his entire clan assassinated during his rise to power because "I didn't need them anymore."
    "Know this! The great dragon paid three hundredweight in silver to rid himself of earthly ties. But a burden a hundred times that did he cast off in blood. Ia! Such is wisdom!"

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!: In "A Jones for a Smith," Stan expresses the view that people should solve their own problems and asking for help of any kind is a sign of weakness; when Hayley starts choking on a piece of turkey sausage, Stan goes so far as to forcibly hold Francine back from helping her, leading to Hayley nearly dying.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Ozai refers to Aang's unwillingness to kill him his as weakness and tries to exploit it to kill Aang back. Of course, Aang uses his newly-acquired Chi-bending to render Ozai unable to firebend.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "The Return of Harmony", Discord manages to emotionally break the mane six (right before hypnotizing all but Twilight) by explaining how the virtues represented by the elements of harmony are weaknesses. Specifically, honesty causes others to know things you don't want them to know, laughter hurts the feelings of the one being laughed at, kindness opens yourself up to being abused by others, generosity prevents you from getting the things that you want, loyalty means nothing when you can't be in two places at once and have to choose between two loyalties, and in general harmony is pointless as its own elements lead it to collapse on itself.
  • In the short Education for Death, Hans' teacher is horrified when he expresses sympathy for a rabbit killed by a fox in a story. Instead, he claims that the fox is to be admired and the rabbit hated because according to the Nazis, Might Makes Right. After being the class fool for a day, Hans becomes a fanatic who screams that he wishes the rabbit would die. He eventually grows up to become just another mindless Nazi robot in whom is "planted no seed of laughter, hope, tolerance or mercy."
  • David Xanatos, from Gargoyles had to ally himself with the heroes to save his fiancee, and after succeeding Xanatos said that love was his only weakness. Goliath is sick to hear this.
    Xanatos: So now you know my weakness.
    Goliath: Only you would regard love as a weakness.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): In the episode "Requiem," Shredder outright tells Splinter that he views Splinter's compassion as a weakness Shredder himself lacks.
    Shredder: Your weakness is that you care about others. I have torn all weaknesses away and become all powerful.
  • The Powerpuff Girls: The episode "Bubblevicious" does this for laughs (Bubbles is out to prove that she can be "hardcore") with a Shout-Out to the Karate Kid example listed above:
    Small Harmless Dog: Bubbles.. have mercy..
    Bubbles: Mercy is for the weak!! [WHAM]

    Other 
  • People on the internet often use the term "virtue signaling" to disparage anyone that claims to have done anything good, as opposed to the commonly-accepted definition of wanting credit for saying the right things on social media while not doing much actual good offline (e.g. pushing a hashtag to show your support for homeless vets without giving any time or resources would be considered virtue signaling, volunteering at a homeless shelter and saying that you do would not be).
  • Adolf Hitler is on record saying that humanitarianism is a form of stupidity, as he wanted to eliminate all the "inferior" races of the world and populate it with pure-blooded Aryans. Then there's his approach to geopolitics. He saw everyone else as land-grabbing empires who would turn on each other if they smelled weakness; for example, he expected the US to gobble up British possessions in the Americas if the homeland fell, and the British to do the same to French colonies in Africa. This, of course, didn't happen.
  • Unfortunately, this is often the way it works out in real life just by default, as people who are The Sociopath and the like don't have any of the moral constraints that the rest of us have to stop them from just doing what every they deem necessary to gain as much power as possible. Which isn't to say that things SHOULD be this way, just that they often are.

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