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Playing With / Honor Before Reason

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Basic Trope: A character does something unwise in the name of honor or virtue.

  • Straight: Alice has the chance to ambush and kill Emperor Evulz for good, but decides against it because she finds sneak attacks dishonorable.
  • Exaggerated: Alice has a ridiculously specific code of honor, to the point where she's almost ineffective as a hero.
  • Downplayed:
  • Justified:
    • Alice doesn't like being dishonorable - she'd rather get killed.
    • Alice has built herself a reputation as an honorable person and she will lose that rep if she does something dishonorable, even if it is to literally save her life.
    • Alice is a Paladin or other person who gains their powers through honor.
    • Alice was shown a prophecy by the Oracle of Delphi, stating that if she becomes the Rebel Leader than her rebellion will commit so many atrocities that the UN will step in and arrest Alice for genocide and crimes against humanity. Her honor system is a way of saying Screw Destiny.
    • Alice watched Bob Jump Off The Slippery Slope by behaving dishonorably and doesn't want to risk becoming like him.
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    • Alice has already broken her vows once, in a fashion similar to the current predicament. It didn't helped her solve anything and it brought her a lot of pain instead. She doesn't thinks it's an experience worth repeating.
    • Alice swore an oath before her god(s) not to break the code of honour, and thus daren't risk divine retribution by being The Oath-Breaker.
  • Inverted:
  • Subverted:
    • Alice weighs the loss of honor from ambushing the Emperor versus the loss of life that Evulz has caused, and decides to ambush him.
    • Alice following her code to the letter causes her suffering afterwards, but turns out to be the right thing to do in the long run.
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    • Alice follows her code because it gives her good publicity and support from powerful people. Following her code is more beneficial to her in the long run. Once she doesn't need anyone's support anymore, she breaks her code hard.
  • Double Subverted: However, she gives up on the plan halfway through because it just feels wrong.
  • Parodied: Alice refuses to abandon American Customary Measurements, even when it would make her more easily understood, because of her patriotism.
  • Zig Zagged: Alice tries her best to adhere to a code of honor, but it's a semi-flexible one.
  • Averted: Alice has no stated code of honor.
  • Enforced: "Emperor Evulz is popular, so we can't just have him be losing all the time! Wait, I've got it..".
  • Lampshaded:
  • Invoked: Alice's predecessor was a murderous piratical Blood Knight of the highest caliber. To avoid being like him, she decides to create a code of honour.
  • Exploited:
    • "Alice will never break her promise. Therefore I will trap her and will rule the world! Hah, Hah, Hah, Hah, Hah!"
    • The Emperor knows no one in his Badass Army would abandon their buddy in danger even if they don't care a thing about him. He uses that to Take Over the World.
  • Defied: "I know it's dishonorable to sneak up on him and kill him. But I don't care. This is for the good of the world."
  • Discussed: "Emperor Evulz! Turn around, I want you to see this one coming!"
  • Conversed:
    "Alice had a clear shot at the Emperor, just one pull of the trigger and they'd be scraping his brains off the carpet, but she wouldn't shoot him."
    "Why not?"
    "Because she only saw the back of his head, and Alice never attacks a guy when he has his back turned to her".
  • Deconstructed:
    • Emperor Evulz repeatedly invokes Alice's code of honor, to the point where she's not able to fight back and he successfully kills her.
    • Ulysses gets sick of Alice's honor code, in which millions of lives could have been saved if she just killed Evulz, thus he decides to leave her to a horrible fate while saving the world his way.
  • Reconstructed:
    • Alice's code of honor is the source of her power.
    • Alice is strong, tough or skilled enough to afford a code of honor, which in turn builds up a myth around her of a warrior who has survived innumerable dangers without ever abandoning her beliefs or abusing any sort of tactical advantage.
    • Alternatively, Emperor Evulz cannot comprehend why Alice would choose to be so honourable to anyone, never mind her enemy, so he doesn't foresee Alice doing the noble, if stupid, thing. To him, Alice is more wild, unpredictable, and dangerous than any Combat Pragmatist.
    • Alice has a code of honor and lives by it most of the time, but is well aware that following it over her common sense isn't very smart. So she carefully considers when it's a good time to uphold her honour and when it's a good time to just forget honour and break the code. Also, there are some lines Alice, or any sane human being, won't cross, even if doing so improves her chances tremendously.
    • Alice has a code of honour and lives by it extremely strictly, but is capable of manipulating events so that she can avoid doing something she doesn't want to and still uphold her moral code. For example, avoiding killing Emperor Evulz while he's unarmed and defenceless, and ensuring that her Lancer Bob gets the kill. That way, Evulz is dead and unable to bring harm upon the world ever again, the day is saved, and since she didn't landing the killing blow, her code is upheld.
    • Alice's reputation for being honorable ultimately proves to be her strongest weapon—it keeps the alliance she's created from being too busy with infighting to oppose Emperor Evulz and ensure that his defeat will bring peace instead of just civil war among the various factions—more people may die in the process of defeating Emperor Evulz honorably, but this ensures that Evulz does get defeated and without a civil war following right afterwards.
  • Played For Laughs: Alice makes Bob fight Draco on his own, stating that This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself. While Bob is being smacked around about twenty feet behind her.
  • Played For Drama: Alice causing something bad to happen because she followed her code to the letter causes her to have a severe Heroic BSoD, possibly even make her abandon it altogether.
  • Played For Horror: Alice becomes a victim of violent treason and horrible death (e.g. the Red Wedding) because her enemies know she won't be a pragmatist.
  • Plotted A Good Waste: Alice betrays her people and forms her own movement when they do something that she considers sinful or dishonorable: namely not slaughtering Evulz's followers to the last, regardless on whether they had a choice to serve him or not. She declares war on both sides, undermining her enemies and former allies alike

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