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Warrior Therapist

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"A man at war with himself places a deficit upon his focus. He is impatient, emotional, easily surprised. A man at one with himself has a clearer mind, sharper instincts. That man is ready to win. That man is ready to progress."

The Warrior Therapist is a master of combat who also took a few psychology courses to round out his education. How else can you explain their ability to perfectly guess their opponent's hidden desires, ambitions, marital status, and mother's maiden name just by watching them swing a sword at his head?

A good Warrior Therapist can deliver a life-changing motivational speech and kick your ass at the same time (see Defeat Means Friendship). An evil (or Terror Hero/Anti-Hero) Warrior Therapist will use their knowledge to intimidate and unnerve their foes, gleefully eroding their confidence and will to fight; sometimes to the point of breaking them entirely. A villain who suggests that he and the hero aren't so different, for example, is using the tools of a Warrior Therapist.

See also Talking the Monster to Death for another variation of this trope.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Bakuten Shoot Beyblade, the good guys are the first type. The bad guys are the second. Yeah. It was as much psychological as physical. No matter how much you've won, all it takes to throw off your game is a well-timed comment.
  • Gouhin from Beastars is a psychologist panda who operates in the back-alley market, where he captures out-of-control and meat-hungry predators to rehabilitate them. He advises Legosi to check if the latter's affection for Haru is truly romantic or really his predatory instincts in another form, and helps Legosi break into the Shishigumi headquarters to rescue her, giving a good fight against the lions.
  • Bleach: Kisuke Urahara is the Eccentric Mentor version of a Warrior Therapist. In his early training with Ichigo, EVERYTHING consisted of beating the crap out of him while spoon-feeding him some important tidbit about the facts of life and combat.
    • Subverted with Zommari who thinks he's this but utterly fails to understand Byakuya.
    • Ichigo Kurosaki shows that he is this in his battle with Gin Ichimaru stating, "I'm not saying I don't remember your blade. I'm saying I don't remember your heart. When you cross blades, you can tell a little of what your opponent's thinking. I'm not saying you can read their mind or anything like that, but you can tell what kind of resolve lies behind their blade, whether they respect you or look down on you. That kind of thing, you can tell. When I'm actually fighting, there's no time to think about it, so I don't usually realize until afterwards, but in general, the stronger the opponent is, the more of that "heart" seems to come across."
      • He shows it again after his battle with Aizen when he tells Kisuke Urahara that he believes Aizen was lonely due to his overwhelming power and skill isolating him from everyone else, and desired to find someone else like him.
      • This trait of his is reflected in both halves of Zangetsu, who seem built to teach Ichigo through combat. Black Zangetsu acts as an Old Master who urges Ichigo to maintain his resolve, the source of his spiritual power, and also gives tips like empowering his attacks by knowing their names. White Zangetsu, though being more of a Jerkass about it, nonetheless teaches Ichigo about the importance of having a killer instinct and embracing his more "negative" aspects.
  • Brave10 has a few:
    • Hanzo uses Isanami's Survivor Guilt against her and generally likes to mentally break his opponents while thrashing them around.
    • Jinpachi, during his battle with Anastasia, guesses his opponent isn't actually above it all and tries to talk through it.
    • Despite his broken speech, Sasuke tends to stoically offer sage advice to other teammates when they feel uncertain of their purpose while he's also kicking their asses.
  • Touma of A Certain Magical Index has a few of these moments, including in his fight against Kanzaki where he called her out on her treatment of Index, and Accelerator, twice. The first time was accidental, and he became a slightly better person by using Touma as an example, but the second time was deliberate. The results are Accelerator getting over his fears that he can be nothing but a villain. One of his skirmishes against Misaka, when she was trying to sacrifice herself against Accelerator in order to stop the Experiment, and he stopped her by not fighting counts as well. He is able to lecture Lessar 15 minutes straight about proper girl mannerisms that she gets worn out listening to it.
  • Destiny of the Shrine Maiden's Chikane counts. Although she's not always effective and resorts to more than words.
  • In Endride, the Rebel Leader Demetrio tends to trade in on this, and has successfully dealt out life-changing advice to Mischa and Louise, and attempted it with several others.
  • Food Wars! has its own version of the trope. Since the characters battle with food dishes, these battles often play out with the better dish overwhelming the loser, evoking something inside. The protagonist Soma clashes against the elite at his school, but where others are content to break their opponents completely, Soma tries to raise them up. Where the villains' dishes are often made with presumptions about Soma, absolute confidence in their own way of thinking, and vile intent behind their actions, Soma's own dishes tend to rock them to their core with his unorthodox techniques and perspective. Usually by giving them food-induced flashbacks to their own origins of cooking or events that traumatized them, Soma ends up reforming those who otherwise were on the wrong path, often gaining them as allies and friends.
  • Izumi Curtis, Ed and Al's alchemy teacher in Fullmetal Alchemist, specializes in this, to the point where smackdowns with a benign Breaking Lecture on the side are her principal teaching method.
  • Sagiri from Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku acts as this to Gabimaru, telling that his love for his wife gives him motivation to live, no matter how hard he may insist otherwise.
  • Inazuma Eleven: Gouenji spends some time furiously passing a soccer ball back and forth with Kidou, who is distraught and uncertain after his team is defeated by Zeus Junior High's team.
    • Also attempted by Natsumi to Endou when Kazemaru leaves Raimon in season 2.
  • Inuyasha: Shishinki, an enemy of Inuyasha and Sesshoumaru's father, is an evil example. He deliberately turns up while Sesshoumaru is emotionally vulnerable fully aware of what happened and why Sesshoumaru couldn't fully master Tenseiga. Inuyasha's arrival allows him to immediately realise the half-breed younger brother was chosen over Sesshoumaru to receive Tessaiga. Most of the fight consists of Shishinki insightfully exposing every single one of Sesshoumaru's fears over the meaning of the two swords and whether it's proof his father hated him. This culminates in the Awful Truth, causing an Heroic BSoD that lasts beyond the fight and takes a while for Sesshoumaru to recover from.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple has racked up a fair number of Heel Face Turns, even the Elder Master has commented on his ability. And Tanimoto has also reflected on it.
    • An interesting variation happens during his epic fight with Sho Kano from YOMI. Here they both act as Warrior Therapists to each other — Kano as an (anti-)villainous one and Kenichi as a good one. While Kano constantly points out to Kenichi how miserable Kenichi's fighting skills are compared to Kano's and concludes that the Ryozanpaku masters were "too gentle" to Kenichi, Kenichi counters by pointing out that it's exactly because of their kindness and love that he managed to persist in constantly improving his skills, while those in YOMI deeply in their souls actually hate martial arts.
      • Which has a lot of Fridge Stockholm when you consider how constantly and gleefully the Ryozanpaku masters torture their shared apprentice. Which leads to more Fridge Horror when you realize that YOMI methods were even worse in their own way — deliberately indoctrinating a philosophy based on killing people into children.
  • The title character of Lyrical Nanoha starts almost every battle by asking what her opponent hopes to accomplish. Most of her enemies join her side by the end of the season unless they make a saving throw by answering that question intelligibly.
  • The Mobile Suit Gundam saga, with its love for staging prolonged dialogues during Humongous Mecha duels, has many, many examples, starting with the omnipresent Char Aznable.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack, the title character and his rival spend the last few minutes of their final battle (and their lives), discussing Char's oedipal issues.
    • The later spin-offs, such as Gundam SEED and Gundam 00 also do this a lot, one example being Gundam 00 during the final battle between Setsuna and Graham Aker. They spend a minute and a half arguing whether the Gundams contradicts their own existence and if Graham really is the distortion of the world, all while chopping each other's Humongous Mecha to pieces and eventually blow up (though they both survive and are repaired for season 2 (Graham even gets his upgraded, while Setsuna just gets Exia's head reattached (presumably through use of duct-tape)).
    • As mentioned, SEED does this as well, commonly with Kira and Athrun during any of their several duels.
    • The show's final boss, Rau Le Creuset pulls this off gloriously in the villainous fashion with two heroes (Mu and Kira) in sequence. Mu simply shrugs off Rau's words and accepts Rau as beyond redemption and a monster that must be destroyed. Kira's idealism results in him constantly trying to do a heroic version to Rau at the same time. It doesn't work, and only after Rau kills Flay does Kira go for the kill like Mu did. Until then, Kira v. Rau is a fairly straight recreation of Amuro and Char's aforementioned final duel in CCA, just substituting a different mental issue, making this double as a Shout-Out.
  • My Hero Academia:
  • The title character of Naruto is the good kind, but tends to be somewhat crude in his methods. It seems to work well, though — on more than one occasion, he's turned an enemy into an ally by means of a well-timed inspirational speech and a well-placed right hook. Fans call it the Talk no Jutsu.
    • He has an even better track record with turning allies of convenience into actual friends through Warrior Therapy. It seems the writers responsible for the Filler plotlines can't do drama without having him doing this.
    • Lampshaded with a conversation between the Sand Siblings at the Kage meet.
      Kankuro: It's useless, Gaara, not even Naruto could reach him.
    • Big Bad Tobi/Obito Uchiha, as Naruto's Evil Counterpart, is an evil one. Naruto eventually gets through to him too.
    • Other characters wield the same methodology to varying degrees, like Neji, whose supernatural vision and psychology training allow him to read significantly into an enemy's body language.
    • When Itachi gives his brother unconditional love, Sasuke himself asks for therapy from Senju Hashirama, the First Hokage.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
  • Dracule Mihawk from One Piece gives one of the best Warrior Therapy sessions ever in his first fight with Roronoa Zoro.
    • Later, parodied on a filler episode where Sanji is on the receiving end of a therapist session from Caroline, the stand-in queen of Kamabakka Island, who convinces him he's really a transvestite.
  • The titular character from the Orphen anime has potential for this and specially shows it in the sequel series Revenge when he deals with a Brainwashed and Crazy Majik via both speaking to the kid and blasting the shit out of him. He then manages to knock off the hat that keeps Majik under control and both defeats and fixes him..
  • Dr. Tofu of the Ranma ½ franchise is a LITERAL Warrior Therapist: He is both a chiropractor AND a martial arts master.
  • Rurouni Kenshin makes a specialty of this.
    • His second fights with both Aoshi and Soujiro, where he more or less mind-hacked (possibly) more powerful fighters with Heroic Willpower and virtue and wound up winning, are particularly prominent examples, but he does it a lot. His string of successes goes back to Sano, his second feature fight, whom he drew out, analyzed, beat up, and talked into giving up his self-destructive hatred and becoming friends, although the latter wasn't on his agenda and startled Kenshin.
    • He does this to Enishi while sitting still on a beach. There is some fighting, but mostly he just talks the guy into ripping out his own inner ear in response to emotional anguish. Yeah.
    • His fight with Han'nya and his first fight with Aoshi, too, just to a lesser extent. He didn't get into Soujiro's head the first time at all, which was what made the guy so creepy, and he never managed to reach Shishio, which sets him apart as a villain. Oh, and there's Saitou, whom he misanalyzes during their first in-series fight and never really gets anywhere with. Although Saitou doesn't correct Kenshin when he lumps him in with 'his friends' during the final beach fight with Enishi.
    • Hiko Seijuro. He did it both to Kenshin and to Fuji. Not in the nicest way.
    • Saitou Hajime is of the former type, using his uncanny powers of deduction and insight to pick apart his opponents' careful strategy and leave them easy prey for his own lethal attacks.
    • Sagara Sanosuke pulls it on a couple of guys, clearly in imitation of Kenshin but in his own style. Particularly his own Evil Mentor, whose Freudian Excuse is really quite impressive. Watsuki does a pretty good job drawing backstories from actual historical circumstances.
    • Another one is Miyoujin Yahiko who does it his enemy, albeit before the fight ends. He improves a lot during one-shot chapter.
  • Surprisingly, Sailor Moon manages to pull this off by the time the Stars season kicks off - it's how she manages to defeat Nehelenia and Sailor Galaxia. First she listens to Nehelenia's bitter Dark and Troubled Past, redeems her via offering her own life in exchange for the freedom of the other Senshi and Mamoru, and finally manages to give her a Last-Second Chance to do things over; then, at the end of the series she refuses to kill Galaxia and keeps talking to her kindly even after the massive Break the Cutie she has gone through, ultimately purging Galaxia from the evil within her and getting to her.
  • Shugo Chara!: Whenever Amu does her speech, you know the battle is over. NO exceptions.
  • This is also played straight in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, like in the final battle between the Chouginga Dai-Gurren-dan and the Anti-Spiral. This is taken to the extremes in the second compilation movie, where the battle is extended from approximately 10 minutes to a whooping 25-30 minutes of epic ass-kicking on a galactic scale.
  • Variable Geo: Yuka takes the concept to its apotheosis. As she absorbs her opponent's attacks, she senses whatever's troubling them, then purges them of those negative emotions by returning their Ki along with her own; simultaneously KO'ing them. Best seen during her match against Erina Goldsmith from 2:37-5:09 and her rematch against Damian (seen from 2:06-5:02).
  • Technically 'Duelist' Therapy, but used heavily in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds by the protagonist Yusei Fudo. Most of his duels in the first season tend to end up in a Defeat Means Friendship scenario, or just as a general means of befriending people in general, including Aki Izayoi, who has to go several rounds with Yusei before she gets over her many problems.
    • This trope also certainly applies to the protagonists of the previous series as well, and the one after it.
    • It's the goal of Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V's protagonist Yuya to bring smiles to people with his duels, with mixed results. He originally starts off as simply being an entertainer with his cards, but after seeing the strife the dimensional war has caused, and his Xyz counterpart's dying words ask for him to make people smile, Yuya changed his philosophy to heal and help people with his cards. Ironically though, his first match after this new idea (dueling an angry kid who hates Yuya for having a childhood and fun, while he spent his life training) ends with his Superpowered Evil Side getting out and traumatizing his opponent and the crowd. Yuya not only fails to show the fun of dueling and help Isao get over his problems, but Isao pushes Yuya further away and runs.
      • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V has a tendency to deconstruct and subvert this trope, as Yuya tries repeatedly to invoke it and befriend people through duels, but usually fails. His successes have more to do with his opponent's backstory, personal goals, and personality than they do with Yuya, making him more of a catalyst for their Character Development than a straightforward Warrior Therapist.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman gets tons of opportunities to practice this, since most of his enemies are actual mental patients. Harley Quinn and Scarecrow, both former psychiatrists themselves, are particularly likely to fall victim to Bat-psychoanalysis.
    • Scarecrow can also use it back, though. (Harley can't.)
  • Deadpool: Parodied in issue #27, wherein Deadpool, on the recommendation of his psychiatrist, seeks out and picks a fight with Wolverine for just this effect.
  • Fantastic Four: At times, the Mad Thinker falls into this category, depending on who's writing him.
  • The Incredible Hulk: Dr. Leonard Samson, who treats Bruce Banner, X-Factor and the Thunderbolts, and is gamma-powered himself without turning into a mindless freak.
    • Since Talking Is a Free Action in comic books his fights with the Hulk are multiple-page slugfests with psychological analysis often being spouted the whole time.
  • In JLA (1997), the Justice League has a couple of these:
    • Martian Manhunter, because he's telepathic and empathic.
    • Wonder Woman, who doesn't make a lot of sense until you stop to consider that her lasso forces people to tell the truth, even when they're lying to themselves.
    • Doctor Fate is an interesting inversion, in that, while he's a psychiatrist (or was) in his civilian identity, he never plays therapist while in costume.
  • Spider-Man has done this as a way to help villains such as The Lizard or Vermin. More often than not, he actually uses this in a way that is normally reserved for villains or anti-heroes: he humiliates them verbally, making them reckless. It has been revealed that a number of his foes have actually suffered some mental trauma because of this, but many of them were crazy already.
  • Superman has spent a good number of his battles simultaneously talking and beating some sense into his opponents. It's turned more than a few villains onto a less destructive path.
  • Thunderbolts: Karla Sofen, aka Moonstone, is also a trained psychiatrist; she traded in her practice for the life of a supervillain (at least at first; things got more complicated later), but she's always on the lookout for psychological weaknesses to exploit in her enemies, and she's never quite so happy as when she's screwing with the minds of all around her.
  • A tactic sometimes adopted by The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, although in her case it's not a result of training or wisdom - just a desire to understand why the villain is 'being a jerk' and, if possible, Take a Third Option. It doesn't always work, of course: it depends on the villain.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Arc-Ved Protagonists:
    • Invoked in "Coming Right Back", where Yugi serves as this for a young Yuya.
    • Jaden tries to Invoke this in "Dark Fusion" as well, It doesn't work out.
  • Bird gives this trait to Taylor. She spends the first several arcs mainly attempting to befriend the various patients at Alchemilla. This is also a case of Fridge Brilliance, as her powers mean she is granted insights into their true natures, and is able to pick up skills at an accelerated rate- in other words, she picked that trait up from her own therapy sessions.
  • In The Dark Side of the Mirror Verse, the Reflections version of Starlight Glimmer is this. She, like the other Mirror Arc Villains, is a badass hero (according to Word of God), but she's also shown to be a mentor figure known for helping ponies reach their true potential. At one point, while fighting a bully, she takes time to inform him that his lack of discipline is getting in the way of his martial arts Special Talent while giving him a Curbstomp Battle.
  • Dragonball Z: Legacies has Vegeta (of all people) do this to Zangya in Chapter 33. After beating her in a sparring match, he dissects her sloppy fighting form and deduces that she is experiencing feelings of inadequacy from being unable to help Gohan as he lays comatose in the hospital from the heart virus. From there, Vegeta helps Zangya recognize and come to terms with the fact that she has fallen in love with Gohan.
  • In Lyrical Nanoha fanfiction Infinity, Nanoha combines it with Combat Pragmatist. She knows she had practically zero chance of defeating Tsukuyomi in direct combat, so she's digging personal information from her sister, Amaterasu, to practically force her conscience to acknowledge her. Arisa even lampshaded her talent for this earlier on:
    Arisa: We could sell tickets. Combat therapy. Nanoha will smack you around for five minutes, and then all your problems will just solve themselves.
    Fate: It's not that simple, Arisa. She also asks what you're trying to do, and then she offers to be your friend.
  • In Mega Man Reawakened, Wood Man is this. He helps Robert sort out his anger in the midst of battle.
  • In Origins, that Samantha Shepard is repeatedly expected to fulfill this role is part of what wears her down. She complains, but she does it anyway—even when she insists she's not trying to. She even lampshades it at one point, asking to be sent off to a place where nobody with issues or problems could find her.
  • In Reflections, Asch does this for Luke in the story's version of the Yulia City duel, in order to snap him out of his Heroic BSoD, which was far worse in the story than it was in the game due to the different circumstances of the fall of Akzeriuth. Namely, not only was Luke actually a bit less at fault for everything but due to Van and Luke being alone down in the mines when Van forces him to use Hyperresonance to destroy the control ring and Asch not telling anyone what Van's plans were and then getting temporarily kidnapped by Van as he leaves Luke to die down there, the party (Except for Ion and Jade) turns on Luke and actually blames him for what happened while not giving him a chance to explain anything, when ironically in canon they only reacted negatively to him trying to blame everyone but himself for what occurred and his treatment of them. It was so bad that Asch was afraid that if he didn't do something quickly, Luke would break irreparably, so he provoked Luke into a duel and talked things out with him telepathically.
  • Ted, the title character of The Rise of Darth Vulcan, specializes in the evil side of this. He's so good at it that he rattled Princess Celestia on one occasion, and he tries his hand at the trope's benevolent side in advising his Number Two.
  • A Star Trek: The Next Generation fanfiction once gave a Klingon Counselor to a starbase captain. (This was a bit of a Take That! to the character in question, who had once been highly against being commanded by Data for the reason that computers don't make good captains, just like Klingons wouldn't make good counselors.)
  • In Thousand Shinji, Shinji did this with Asuka. He challenged her to a duel, won, forced her to tell him of her troubles, and helped her to deal with her trauma.

  • In Batman Begins, Liam Neeson's character Henri Ducard a.k.a. the real Ra's Al Ghul not only trains proto-Batman Bruce Wayne at the monastery of the sinister Brotherhood called the "League of Shadows", but also lectures him during training fights on the importance of overcoming his fears and making fear his ally, using it against his enemies. This evolves into full-blown Hannibal Lectures later on when they're fighting each other as enemies; Nietzsche Wannabe Ducard frequently makes snide comments about Bruce's emotional "weaknesses" (hope for a better world, compassion, and mercy) and claims that he and Batman aren't so different.

  • Used by Tavi in Codex Alera. In particular in Captain's Fury he manages to defeat a vastly superior (but mentally unbalanced) opponent in a swordfight by attacking her psychological weak points during a Blade Lock, allowing him to defeat her because Sanity Has Advantages.
    • This is one of the darker expressions of this trope. He uses what is in essence a Hannibal Lecture to ruthlessly assault her fragile mindset and then exploits the ensuing reaction by impaling her. It's especially dark because the weakness he exploits in her is something he shares. Tavi is almost Mary Sue-like in his compassion for the fallen and eagerness to make allies, so to see him dredging up someone else's worst memories to get the advantage of them in a fight, especially considering that he can only do so because he has the same problem, was jarring.
    • Also used by Isana in Princeps' Fury. She challenges Antillus Raucus to the juris macto and proceeds to wear down his mental walls and reasoning in order to get him to agree to a truce against the foes he's been fighting and commit his Legions to a greater enemy. She's very nearly killed before finally succeeding.
  • In The Emperor's Soul, Shai figures out a huge amount about the Blood Magic using guard her captors employ. After beating up his minions, Shai tells him that he should go back home because his girlfriend misses him and cares more about his company than the money he is making. Justified Trope in that her magic relies on understanding herself, and she needed to expand that to understanding others to reforge them emperor.
  • Ender's Game: Ender Wiggin specializes in knowing his enemies. Knowing them completely, at least as well as they know themselves. In the moment that he achieves this level of understanding, he naturally loves them. Then he destroys them. It's not good for him, emotionally. So he loses the 'warrior' part once they discharge him as Tyke Bomb grand admiral. Or so the narration and Ender keep telling us.
  • Fate/Zero:
    • Rider. Within one drinking contest/conversation on the right way to be king, he manages what took Shirou and Archer two weeks. Irisviel hits the reset button by telling her that even if she sucked as a king, at least she is essentially the embodiment of (self-sacrificing) ideals. Since this is a prequel, it's not like she's going to magically get better now right?
    • Shirou and Archer do this to each other during their match in the Unlimited Blade Works. However, the sheer mechanics of fighting your cynical future self over ideals is complicated. Would that be considered extreme introspection? Suffice to say there are pages upon pages of philosophical debate, and in the Nasuverse, your conviction equates directly to how much ass you kick.
  • In The Legend of Drizzt, Drizzt Do'Urden is this to Artemis Entreri and vice versa, except one is a Good Warrior Therapist while the other is an Evil one, obviously.
  • MARZENA: Although physically imposing, Marian only needs her mouth to dismantle anybody and make them do or think whatever she wants. Her most notable adversary is Helena, who is completely obvious to her attempts at making her talk (Gambit Fight of backstabbing ensues). Also there is Livia, who trains ordinary women into becoming spies and assassins, and emotionally supports them throughout their missions. She accurately guesses that Lauren's sister was the one getting more gifts at Christmas (no it's not her first time poking inside the head of people).
  • Second Apocalypse: Anasurimbor Kellhus is called the Warrior-Prophet for his superhuman fighting abilities as well as his ability to look into the souls of men simply by observing their movements and facial expressions. He can deliver stunning revelations and epiphanies after only a few moments of conversation. His abilities are purely mundane and rational, but he is able to pass them off as divine gifts and quickly gets worshiped as the newest manifestation of the God.
  • Timothy Zahn's Star Wars Expanded Universe books, which jump-started the fandom way before the second trilogy, had the inverted Science Fiction version of this. Grand Admiral Thrawn knew how a species would fight by simply examining their artwork. Specifically, he looks for conceptual blind spots and exploitable patterns of thinking. The first example we're shown is attacking a stronger strike force by using a chaotic attack from multiple directions that the enemy commander couldn't psychologically deal with in time, leading to him using a completely useless fleet formation and being effortlessly defeated. Zahn's fond of this character, as Talon Karrde is a more limited variant of the Warrior Therapist, capable of using his vast information-gathering empire and turbolasers where turbolasers alone wouldn't work.
  • Both Cordelia Vorkosigan and her son Miles from the Vorkosigan Saga make a habit out of this. Cordelia is actually so good at this that she is eventually able to drop the Warrior part entirely and rely entirely on her ability to emotionally dissect someone. The planet-ful of security guards might help. In Shards of Honor, while Cordelia is a POW, the sadistic enemy CO ties her to the bed and then turns loose his deranged orderly on her — and from this helpless position, she still manages to successfully diagnose and empathize with her own attempted rapist, to the point that he decides not to go through with it after all — and then turn right around and kill his commanding officer so that he can finally be free. She also passes this skill along to the Emperor Gregor, to the point that he uses it on her in Mirror Dance.
  • Tattletale, in Worm, wears down her enemies by slowly picking away at their psychological armor. It helps that she has superpowered intuition allowing her to acquire/guess all the information she needs at a moment's notice. She knows she can't physically compare with most other parahumans so she has to outwit them and crush their will to fight her. Several characters know not to listen to anything she has to say (whether that stops her or not).
  • Wulfrik: Subverted with the title character: while able to speak any language and is an expert at reducing his victims to gibberish-screaming madmen flailing at him, he gains no particular insight into his foes' mindset. Instead, whatever insult he uses is nearly guaranteed to be exactly the one needed to piss them off, like making "I banged your wife" comments to a Imperial baron obsessed with his wife's chastity.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Ahsoka Anakin is this to Ahsoka, confronting her with her paralyzing grief and guilt which is preventing her from fully connecting with those she loves, and with the Force itself. By casting her back into violent battles in the Clone Wars, and striking at her as Vader, he forces her to find her power and balance and reconnect to the Force. Now fully trained, she can't quit the fight, the consequences for her and for the galaxy at large would be catastrophic. But she doesn't have to be defined by war and violence, she is more than that. When she returns from her apparent trip through the World Between Worlds, out of the water, she is serene and smiling. Ahsoka robes herself in white rather than dark grey and trusts the Purgill, and implicitly, the Force, to take her and Huyang where they need to go.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Conversations With Dead People", Buffy tangles with a rather literal version of the trope - an Affably Evil vampire who had been a Psychology Major prior to being sired. He was at least as, if not more, interested in analysing Buffy as in fighting her. At one point they have a moment of truce: he sitting, she lying down, in the traditional shrink-session positions. He actually provides some rather helpful advice before getting staked.
    • Angelus - Angel minus his soul - has an uncanny knack for getting inside someone's head and using that to torment them. He considers Drusilla, who he drove completely and utterly insane before turning her into a vampire, one of his masterpieces.
    • Also in Buffy, the vampire Spike shows an extraordinary talent for analyzing the motivations people don't want to admit to. "Lovers Walk" - Buffy: I can't lie to myself... or Spike, for some reason. In "A Fool for Love," he implies that this talent was at least partly responsible for his having defeated two Slayers in the past. He points out two Fatal Flaws of Vampire Slayers: a) they instinctively reach for their weapon, whereas a vampire doesn't have to, and b) every Slayer has a death wish.
    • Spike knows exactly how to demoralise an enemy. He even uses this to his advantage when he has the chip that keeps him from hurting humans - he still knows the exact hot buttons that will make the Scoobies implode over the course of a day. Longer-term planning is still a bit beyond him, though.
  • This is the core of Criminal Minds, being that the main characters are an elite squad of criminal profilers, which in context means "forensic psychologists with guns." They're bought in by local law enforcement to psychoanalyze the villain of the week and predict his or her next move.
  • Sean Burns in Highlander. He was an immortal psychiatrist who helped other immortals — lucky thing since the immortal mind would be way beyond most mortal therapists. Unfortunately, Duncan took his head during his Dark Quickening induced Face–Heel Turn.
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent: Once an episode, if not more often. Det. Goren specialises in this trope and will talk master criminals from silence into confession by hitting the right combination of buttons. The show's name is criminal intent, and the focus was always more on the why than the who and how.
  • Lie to Me is in general an action psychology show. Its main character, Cal Lightman, is a tooth and nails sort of psychoanalyst/interrogator, combining interrogation techniques with the science of facial expressions he developed (in real life this science was developed by Paul Eckman). Lightman occasionally goes up against the odd Hannibal Lecter character and ends up winning the inevitable game of Xanatos Speed Chess that results.
    • And has his own Warrior Therapist in Gillian Foster, who was his shrink at the DOD before they went into business together.
  • Locke on Lost has shown warrior therapist tendencies, although he's more likely to restrain or intimidate someone than actually fight them.
  • Star Trek: Discovery: Admiral Katrina Cornwell is a psychiatrist by vocation. She deploys her professional skills (as well as more conventional martial badassery) in battle.
    • Star Trek's best-known therapists, Deanna Troi and Ezri Dax, don't have their military acumen foregrounded much, but they do have their badass moments (e.g. Troi impersonating a Romulan intelligence officer and Dax tracking down a serial killer).

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Jimmy Jacobs is the evil variant, although he was trying to save Jon Moxley from a self-destructive path when he assaulted him. The problem being that since Jacobs is evil, he tends to do more harm than good no matter how well-meaning his intentions. His more malicious acts include turning TaDarius Thomas against his Tag Team partner ACH, alienating Adam Page from Page's friends, corrupting a lovesick Delirious into his personal minion, turning Delirious's own tag team partner MsChif against him when Delirious overcame Jacobs and then going so far as to turn MsChif against husband Michael Elgin for the hell of it. Some of this lead to a well-deserved dressing down from Austin Aries, whom he failed to get into the head of and lost his girlfriend Lacey to. Jacobs didn't learn his lesson though, as he later preyed on Eddie Kingston and turned him against his "home promotion" Chikara as part of an Evil Plan to destroy the company.
  • Sami Callihan is an obsessive, egotistical, Darwinist madman with a poor sense of reason. Dave Finlay decided to help him overcome his faults, the only way he knew how when Callihan arrived in EVOLVE. Callihan remained insane but did end up on a less self-destructive path thanks to Finlay's efforts.
  • This trope's subversion kicked off the feud between Will White/Bill Black and Bill Nye, Science Guy. Nye is not a psychologist or therapist in any sense but does know how much they are paid and couldn't resist the urge to pad his income when White came to Nye for help regarding his dissociative personality disorder. White didn't actually know what kind of disorder he had though, and Nye, operating well outside his field of expertise, misdiagnosed him. Black then took revenge on Nye for "ripping him off" since his problems did not go away but went a little too far, leading to a Cycle of Revenge.
  • Leva Bates challenged Jessicka Havok at SHINE 4 with intent to save her (and the company from Havok's arm-breaking rampage). It didn't work(Havok would undergo a Heel–Face Turn but Bates being involved was coincidental). She later diagnosed Kimberly as a narcissistic psychopath, though Bates was not being supportive when she made it. Bates returned to her altruistic ways while attempting to free Su Yung from the enthrallment of Sweet Saraya, but once again failed as saving Yung's life from the less sympathetic Havok took priority.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Savage Worlds, a generic action-oriented RPG, the Intimidation and Taunt skills can be used in combat to gain a temporary but significant edge over an opponent or even render them functionally incapacitated. A good Warrior Therapist can basically induce a Heroic BSoD or Villainous Breakdown at will.
  • Averted by Wulfrik the Wanderer of Warhammer, who was given the gift of tongues to challenge the greatest warriors on the planet no matter their language. While the challenges he issues are pretty much what you'd expect from a ten-foot-tall evil Viking, Warp magic causes even the crudest insult to infuriate the target so they immediately run over to shut him up, and in their anger often make big mistakes when dueling him.
  • Space Marine Chaplains in Warhammer 40,000 don't do as much as much insult their enemies (a large amount of them don't speak at all during battle anyway) as they use their faith in the Emperor to deliver a Rousing Speech or two and give spiritual advice to the members of their chapter. The Dawn of War version is closer, can recite the Litanies of Hatred at an enemy to break their morale.

    Video Games 
  • Action Taimanin: Aside from commanding and fighting, Kotaro Fuuma has also shown some psychological wit, being able to analyze and deconstruct Toyo Momochi's actions and motivations and snap Misaki Sengen out of her Chronic Hero Syndrome-induced anxiety while the latter is confined to the hospital and views herself as unable to perform any good deeds.
  • Hakumen, of all people, takes up this role, at least in regards for his younger, time-displaced self, AKA Jin in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift.
  • You can choose to be a Jerkass to your companions in Dragon Age: Origins, but helping them through their various issues rewards you with stat bonuses for them, the occasional unique (and sometimes useful) item, and in Zevran's case, taking the effort to be friendly and supportive of him will avert his Face–Heel Turn later in the game. The "Warrior" part comes into play since a few of your companions' Personal Quests, specifically Morrigan, Shale, and potentially Leiliana, involve combat. In Morrigan's case, you have to fight a freaking DRAGON. The "Therapist" part usually comes in the conversations you hold with your companions right after the quests are completed. You can actually make Alistair and Leiliana more cynical people right after their quests, depending on what you say to them.
  • A uniquely literal example comes in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim during a quest for the Daedric Prince of Madness, Sheogorath. The player character is sent inside the mind of the long-dead Emperor Pelagius the Mad, where you must do battle with his self-doubt and paranoia to render him sane.
    • As quest-giver and player character are sociopathic adventurers, 'sane' means 'stop hating yourself and hate everyone else'. Which ironically would have resulted in less slaughter while he was still alive.
  • Several Final Fantasy villains are good at this. Kefka gives a nihilistic speech before you face him, talking to Seymour about his "spiral of death" plan is a core feature of the battles with him, and Sephiroth gave Cloud a mental breakdown. He only ever talks while fighting in newer titles.
    • And Golbez from Dissidia Final Fantasy acts as the therapist for the heroes. Meaning he is simultaneously backstabbing EVERY other villain in the franchise and the god of discord. All to make sure his younger brother Cecil survives. Best. Brother. Ever.
    • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII sees Lightning act as this for Noel Kreiss, who has fallen into an obsessive depression over the last five centuries. He's submitted himself to a prophecy that seems to guarantee his happy ending if he kills Lightning, despite every fiber of his being saying that's wrong. After a warm-up duel, Lightning plays up on her status as Bhunivelze's savior, an "inhuman agent of the divine", in a bid to provoke Noel's old iron-hard resolve; it works, and Noel finds the strength to smash the Oracle Drive and abandon that emotional dead end.
  • Tharja from Fire Emblem: Awakening is a strange example. She's Yandere, a Stalker with a Crush, as well as a Jerkass, most of the others in the army consider her Creepy Good at best, and yet, in her supports, she is willing to listen to other people's problems and traumatic pasts without judging them for it. While much of this ear-lending is done out of self-interest, mostly to advance her curses and hexes, there's no denying the positive effect it has on troubled characters such as Lon'qu and Libra.
  • Kain R. Heinlein of Garou: Mark of the Wolves fame enjoys picking at his opponents with his victory quotes.
  • In the Valhalla DLC of God of War Ragnarök Tyr takes it upon himself to act as this towards Kratos by inviting him to take on the Trials of Valhalla (which has him fight through visions based on his past, including the Greek Era games as well as personally challenging Kratos himself, reasoning that for guys like them combat can help them resolve their issues by letting their bodies get some workout while their mind works out the rest.
  • Due to the incredible importance of the target's emotional state to their plans, in Kingdom Hearts "Ansem," as well as most of Organization XIII have this as their M.O.
  • This is an informed ability of the Handmaiden and Echani culture in general in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. The Exile on the other hand (if Light side), manages to help each of their Force-sensitive companions through their respective traumas and lead them in the ways of the Jedi.
  • Yone the Unforgotten of League of Legends is an indirect variant of this. He's a demon hunter, and many demons he encounters are "azakana", very literal "personal demons" that latch onto individuals, instilling and feasting off their negativity in order to become physical threats. Yone slays them by identifying their evils and their true names, cleansing the hosts in the process.
  • Mass Effect's Commander Shepard, when played as a Paragon, can end up spending about as much time counseling people as he or she does fighting. Renegade Shepard, meanwhile, is far more likely to just shoot people, but can sometimes act as a much more cynical variety of Warrior Therapist. Either way, bullets appear to be quite integral to their therapeutic method.
  • The Player Characters of the Persona games from Persona 3 onward derive power from friendships they make in their everyday lives (called "Social Links" in Persona 3 and Persona 4 and "Confidants" in Persona 5). The setting of these games happens to be a big Dysfunction Junction, so unlocking your truest combat potential demands that you be capable of dealing with your friends' personal issues.
  • In Planescape: Torment, Dak'kon, in addition to being a formidable swordsman, is a mystic and teacher. If the player character's stats are high enough, you can end up analyzing and teaching him.
    • You can also discover that one of your previous incarnations is the one who taught him most of what he knows to begin with.
  • In Psychonauts you are a literal example as you go into people's heads and fight their nightmares, inner demons, and the "censors" in their head, which are meant to keep a mind orderly and remove anything unnatural from the mind (including you).
  • Sengoku Basara: Magoichi becomes one for Mitsunari if you side with him in her story in the third game. Since she's someone Mitsunari can't intimidate, he is forced to talk to her about his problems. She eventually finds that beneath the Ax-Crazy, Revenge hungry man with No Social Skills, Mitsunari values his allies (betrayal is a Berserk Button) but the lack of people skills makes it very hard to see.
    • In the fourth game, Kenshin tries to play this to Matabe in the latter's drama route. Unfortunately, Matabe is too much of a broken wretch of a man for this to work, especially when it comes to his second most-hated enemy. As such, Kenshin's last words are him lamenting his failure while Matabe laughs wildly to himself.
  • Gouken comes off this way in his victory quotes in Street Fighter IV.
    • Same goes to Rose, Guy, and, surprisingly, Sagat.
    • Zangief parodies this when he meets Abel as he believes that Battle is Therapy and is the perfect remedy for the man's amnesiac melancholy. Poor Abel is dumbfounded.
    • Ryu showcases this:
      "No need to speak. Your fists told me everything I need to know about you."
    • Gen becomes a benevolent one upon taking a level in kindness.
  • Neku Sakuraba from The World Ends with You gradually becomes this as a result of his Character Development and acts as such towards Shiki and Beat, helping them to resolve their various self-worth issues with his own brand of encouragement.

  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures: Delma is one of the ONLY qualified universal psychologists in the world setting, as most "creatures" would rather murder everyone in a five-mile radius than talk about their centuries-long angst. Her secret is that she graduated from fighter college and went on to get a graduate degree in psychology; if her patients decide to act out with deadly lasers, she can just fall back on her Morningstar training.
  • Flipside's Maytag demonstrates early on in the comic that she can do this to people.
  • Considering its massive cast and the way most of them interact with each other, Homestuck has a few of them:
    • Almost half the cast is playing a therapist in Homestuck but by far Karkat, and to a lesser extent John, is the best.
    • Rose claims that psychology is one of her hobbies and makes attempts at psychoanalyzing her friends early on, but as it turns out she's either not very good at it or has since lost interest.
    • As the Sylph of Light, this is pretty much Aranea's main ability; she can heal others by helping them see how to heal themselves. This isn't always a good thing.
  • Bob from The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! pulls this, most notably on Galatea (repeatedly) and on Gosh the Butterfly of Iron.
  • Mob Psycho 100: Mob develops into one as he comes to terms with his powers and how they should be used. For him, the challenge is not whether or not he can kick an opponent's ass, but rather if he can talk some sense into them before going berserk himself.
  • Captain Landon of Schlock Mercenary delivers a surprisingly good speech to bring Sergeant Schlock out of his Heroic BSoD when they need him to lead a raid against some enemy boarders.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: The God-Emperor Incubus is an evil example of this trope. In his case, his Dream Walker abilities gives him a shortcut to discovering psychological buttons to push, though he also suffers a handicap in that his sociopathy means he's incapable of fully understanding the things he finds in there. During Breaker of Infinities his one attempt to actually use his abilities positively to inspire his never-give-up attitude to his student only succeeds at the opposite and drives the recipient into a Heroic BSoD.

    Web Original 
  • Caduceus Clay, from the second campaign of Critical Role, is a (Grave Domain) cleric of the Wildmother, whose family is responsible for maintaining a graveyard at one of her holy sites. This office has given him experience counselling people and while he's a bit of a country bumpkin, he has almost supernatural insight into people, which he serves with kindness and cups of tea. (In D&D stat terms: high Wisdom, low Intelligence.) He is not a frontline fighter and will seek peaceful solutions where possible but is not a pacifist (as Nature is often violent) and knows his way around offensive spells when he isn't being the party's main healer.
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Nappa claims that he majored in Child Psychology (WITH A MINOR IN PAIN!) and goes on about how the values of healthy communication... right before pounding the crap out of the guy he was talking about because they had interrupted him while he was talking to Vegeta.
    • On a less literal note, Vegeta becomes something like this, though only to himself. During his finale of Episode 10, he remarks about the possible reason behind his Tranquil Fury, and later on, after revealing the depths of his humiliation to Cui and then blowing him up to ensure that he would never tell anyone of it, Vegeta says that he loves therapy, and later on deliberately represses the memory of Dodoria's revelations. Considering that his anger seemed to have broke in Episode 18, his self-therapy doesn't really seem to be working very well.
  • Tyrian Callows from RWBY is a textbook evil version. He plays up his Ax-Crazy nature to hide it, but he is extremely perceptive and aware of others' motivations, often more than they are. He taunts Mercury about the fact that his tough act is just a facade to hide his trauma and fear, and he's the only member of her faction to realize that Salem is on a Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum. When put into a Mêlée à Trois with Qrow and Clover, he exploits Qrow's feelings of betrayal and Clover's Undying Loyalty to Ironwood to make them more focused on each other than him, and when they're yelling at each other about their broken friendship he stabs Clover In the Back with Qrow's weapon, killing him and leaving Qrow too devastated and weak to chase after him.
  • Dr. Gomez from Speedball's XCOM: Enemy Within is a literal Warrior Therapist, originally introduced as XCOM's resident therapist before becoming a squaddie in her own right. She uses her knowledge of psychology to counter the Thin Men's attempts at psychological warfare.

    Western Animation 
  • Iroh of Avatar: The Last Airbender is a good master of this, offering advice on how to improve and find his enemy's way in life even as he fights them. When he gives up on talk and gets to fighting, that's when you know you're in trouble.
    • To the point that when he's mugged, he teaches the mugger a better stance and fixes him a cup of tea in "Tales of Ba Sing Se."
      Mugger: Give me all your money!
      Iroh: What are you doing?
      Mugger: I'm mugging you!
      Iroh: With that stance?
  • Spellbinder of Batman Beyond is another villainous example. He was an actual psychiatrist who turned to villainy because he felt undercompensated for dealing with unruly teenagers while their parents paid their garbage men more money. He uses illusions and his knowledge of the human psyche to manipulate people by giving them what they think they want and what they want to believe. In one episode he frames Terry for murder by showing Commissioner Barbara Gordon an illusion of Terry beating Mad Stan to death. When he is eventually discovered and captured, he calls her out for being an Inspector Javert towards Terry, an accusation that seems to leave an impression on her.
    Spellbinder: You were so ready to believe the worst. It was easy.
  • Justice League:
    • The Martian Manhunter seems to act as this for Justice Leaguers who need help. Wildcat in particular was seen being sent to him on Superman's suggestion after he believed he had killed the Green Arrow in a fight since he had become addicted to ring fighting in an underground tournament run by an evil, greedy woman, who encouraged him to kill. Wildcat stated that talking to the Manhunter and trying to work through his addiction would easily be the hardest thing he'd ever done.
    • Batman frequently employs tactical psychological manipulation of his opponents in combat. The best example of this occurs when he pulls it on himself—or rather, his Justice Lord counterpart pulls it on him, eroding his will to fight in the middle of an intense battle by pointing out that in the totalitarian alternate universe of the Justice Lords, a random petty crime would have never claimed Thomas and Maria Wayne's lives.
      • The Justice Lord Batman has it turned back on him when after seeing a random citizen utterly terrified by the authorities over a minor thing that shouldn't have been an issue, Batman sarcastically comments that "Mom and Dad would have loved it here, don't you think?", which forces Justice Lord Batman to realize his parents would have been ashamed at the man he'd become.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: In The Inner Fight Mariner is being even more self-destructive than usual, to the point of picking a fight with a much bigger Klingon, who happens to be Ma'ah. They fight to a draw before the weather forces them to shelter together, and Ma'ah winds up talking Mariner through her issues. They become friends and allies after this, so you could argue that Mariner was just practicing Klingon diplomacy.
  • Star Wars Rebels: In "Trials of the Darksaber," Kanan must train Sabine to use the eponymous weapon, so that she can bring the Mandalorians over to the rebel cause. However, she is reluctant to do so and doesn't want to commit to the training. With some reverse psychology, Kanan is able to get her to confront her demons and learn why she left Mandalore.
  • Slade of Teen Titans (2003) is the master of the evil version of this skill, just like in the comics.
  • Black Canary in Young Justice (2010). Not only is she the team's trainer, she is also their therapist and had individual sessions with all of them, as seen in "Disordered" to help them deal with the events in "Failsafe".


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Warrior Psychologist


Carmilla Teaches Vaggie

Carmilla attacks Vaggie to show the flaws in the way she fights, both physically and psychologically, teaching Vaggie that is better to fight to protect someone you love rather than with bloodlust.

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5 (21 votes)

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Main / WarriorTherapist

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