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Quotes / Punch-Clock Villain

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    Film — Animated 

"I relate to you, Ralph. When I hit bottom, I was crushing man’s skull like sparrow’s egg between my thighs. And I ask myself, 'Why must you be such bad guy, Zangief? Why can't you be more like good guy?' Then I have moment of clarity: If Zangief is good guy, who will crush man’s skull like sparrow’s egg between thighs? And I say, Zangief, you are bad guy. But this does not mean you are bad guy."
Zangief at the Bad-Anon meeting, Wreck-It Ralph

    Film — Live-action 

"I work for Vizzini to pay the bills. There's not a lot of money in revenge."
Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

Vitaly: She really doesn't know how you pay for all this?
Yuri: We don't talk about it. How many car salesmen talk about their work, huh? How many cigarette salesmen? Both their products kill more people every year than mine. At least mine has a safety switch. If those guys can leave their work at the office, then so can I.

Henchman: Should we take La Miranda tonight?
Carlos Santana: Nah, I don't like to work on the weekends. Tonight... it's karaoke!

"I realized they were stronger than we. Because they could stand that these were not monsters. These were men... trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love. But they had the strength—the strengthto do that. If I had 10 divisions of those men, our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral, and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling."
Col. Walter Edmund Kurtz, Apocalypse Now

Patrice: Please, understand... please try- [gunshot] Aah! ...there's a boat by the quay... please understand, it was all business. It wasn't personal!
Bryan: It was all personal to me. [five gunshots]

"Honor will not put food in my belly nor shoe my horse."
Bowen, Dragonheart

"I'm a soldier, not a monster. Even though sometimes I work for monsters."
Simon Gruber, Die Hard with a Vengeance

"At the same time as trying to lead a good life, I have to reconcile myself with the fact that, yes, I have killed people. Not many people. Most of them were not very nice people."
Ken, In Bruges

"People of Tolkien's generation had a problem identifying evil. They had no difficulty recognizing it, they had to live through it. But the puzzling thing was that this seemed to be carried out by entirely normal people. And indeed Tolkien, who was a combat veteran, knew that his own side did things like that too. The nature of evil in the 20th century has been curiously impersonal. It's as if sometimes nobody particularly wants to do it. In the end you get the major atrocities of the 20th century being carried out by bureaucrats. Well, the people who do that kind of things are wraiths. They've gone through the wraithing process. they don't know what's good and evil any more. It's become a job or a routine. You start out with good intentions but somehow it all goes wrong. So it's a curiously distinctive image of evil, and I should say it's also a very unwelcome one. Because what it says is, it could be you. And, in fact, under the right circumstances, or I should say the wrong circumstances, it will be you. When people say that this kind of fantasy fiction is escapist and evading the real world and so on, well, I think that's an evasion. It's actually trying to confront something that most people would rather not confront."
Tom Shippey, "J. R. R. Tolkien, Creator of Middle Earth" (The Fellowship of the Ring DVD extra)

Turner: ( after Joubert shoots Atwood, the Big Bad) Why?
Joubert: I don't interest myself in "why". I think more often in terms of "when", sometimes "where", always "how much".

"Until we understand that our enemies are also human we will never be able to defeat them. Yes, they are 'bad guys', but that's what they do, not who they are."
Maxwell Smart, Get Smart


"Down there are people who will follow any dragon, worship any god, ignore any iniquity. All out of a kind of humdrum, everyday badness. Not the really high, creative loathesomeness of the great sinners, but a sort of mass-produced darkness of the soul. Sin, you might say, without a trace of originality. They accept evil not because they say yes, but because they don't say no."
The Patrician, Guards! Guards!

It was much better to imagine men in some smoky room somewhere, made mad and cynical by privilege and power, plotting over the brandy. You had to cling to this sort of image, because if you didn't then you might have to face the fact that bad things happened because ordinary people, the kind who brushed the dog and told their children bedtime stories, were capable of then going out and doing horrible things to other ordinary people.

[Vimes] wondered if the man actually liked beating people to death. They often didn't think about it. It was just a job.

"Men like him would kill at their lord's command, rape when their blood was up after battle, and plunder wherever they could, but once the war was done they would go back to their homes, trade their spears for hoes, wed their neighbors' daughters, and raise a pack of squalling children."

"Lots of people in history have only done their jobs, and look at the trouble they caused."
Aziraphale, Good Omens

''The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid "dens of crime" that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.

"I don't give a shit about politics. I don't care who is in power, what party wants to make a balls-up of everything. But I know people like you. I have been meeting them all my life. You would serve Hitler, your type. Or Mussolini, or the OAS if it suited you. Or anybody. Regimes change, but bastards like you never change..." He was shouting, limping towards the man with the gun whose snout had not quavered a millimetre in the hand that held it.

I walked through the door, past the cold eyes of gang enforcers on guard duty, the sort of men who wouldn't balk at breaking bones and cutting up dead bodies before heading home to tell their daughter a bedtime story.
The Traitor God, by Cameron Johnston

'' "Massaraksh!" The prisoner wiped his tears with his shoulder. "Some threat!" He turned to the civilian. "But you, you're still a young man. You must learn to do your job coolly, officially — for the money. It makes an enormous impression on the victims of your inquisition. What an appalling state of affairs when you find yourself being tortured not by an enemy but by a bureaucrat. Take a look at my left arm. His Imperial Majesty's specialists sawed it off in three stages; and each order was accompanied by a lengthy official correspondence. Those butchers were just doing a disagreeable, boring, unrewarding job. While they were sawing off my arm, they cursed their wretchedly low pay. And I was terrified. I had to strain my willpower to keep from talking.
Strugatsky Brothers, Literature/Prisoners of Power

    Live-Action TV 

"I am not the enemy. To be the enemy, I must have some personal stake in what happens to you. I'm not interested in that at all. I'm here to do a job, nothing more. You are a name, a file, and a case number. That is all. I have no desire to inflict pain but I will do so, when and as it is required."
Interrogator, Babylon 5

Programmer: If you're not holding us hostage, then open the door and let us out. The staff are terrified!
Doctor: That's the same staff who execute hundreds of contestants every day.
Programmer: That's not our fault, we're just doing our jobs!
Doctor: And with that sentence, you just lost the right to even talk to me. Now back off!
Doctor Who, "Bad Wolf"


"'Once ze rockets are up, who cares vere zey come down?
Zat's not my department', says Wernher von Braun"
— "Wernher von Braun", That Was the Year That Was

"They say he didn't take no crap from the State Line Gang
What the hell they talking bout?
I'm just a hard working man with a family to feed"
Drive By Truckers, "The Buford Stick"

"Crazy madmen on a leash
Or young men who lost their way?
Grand illusions of the Reich
May seem real at times
Panzers on a line form the Wehrmacht's spine
Lethal grand design
What about the men executing orders?"
Sabaton, "Wehrmacht"

    Tabletop Games 

"For some, working for a subsidiary of Pentex is simply a way to get a paycheck - an apathetic belief that suits the Wyrm's plans perfectly."
Werewolf: The Apocalypse Core Rulebook (Revised)

"I get my crime over the first thing in the morning, and then, ha! ha! for the rest of the day I do good—I do good—I do good!"
Sir Despard Murgatroyd, Ruddigore

    Video Games 

"Look, I was told to walk in a certain pattern, over and over, until something interesting happens! [Beat] WELL I DON'T SEE YOU GETTING A JOB!"
Some Mook on His Phone, Saints Row IV

"I'm not a "crazed gunman", Dad, I'm an assassin! ....Well the "difference" being, one is a job, and the other's a mental sickness! ... Put mum on the phone."
The Sniper, Team Fortress 2, "Meet the Sniper"

Beat: Quit screwin' with us!
Kariya: Um, villain? Screwin' with you is my job.

Spider-Man: You again?!
Silver Sable: Down, boy, my contract with Trask expired 10 minutes ago.

"Stop fighting back! You're gonna get me fired!"
Hyperion Engineer, Borderlands 2

Reno: All right, Corneo. This'll be over quick, so listen up. Why do you think we went to all the trouble of teaming up with those guys to get you? 1. Because we were ready to die, 2. Because we were sure of victory, or 3. Because we were clueless.
Don Corneo: Two!!! Number Two!!!
Reno: All wrong. (Corneo falls to his death.) The correct answer was....
Rude: ...because it's our job.


"I would rather you not see it as personal. I am a professional."
Abner Vanslyk, Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name

"It's a shitty world. So I make a sem or three shoveling some of it."
Mathis Quigley, Unsounded

    Web Original 

"In addition to that, [German villains] tend to come with a certain kind of flair…but, most crucially, you can rely on them to be very, very evil 24/7. Well, perhaps not really 24/7, but 9-5/4, plus 9-noon on Fridays. They are unionized, after all. In their off time, they’re not necessarily evil…although they can still be quite annoying, in a gratingly arrogant way, even when refereeing a Junior League game on a Saturday."
— The rant for The B-Movie Comic,

"Most JRPGs eventually have you storming the evil king or wizard's castle, which is usually a wide, torch-lit stone building filled with red carpets, suits of armor, padlocked wooden doors, prisons, and miles of empty hallways. The core of Final Fantasy VII's evil empire is a modern corporate skyscraper, complete with bustling suits, overworked secretaries, vending machines, break rooms, conference tables, etc. Now this is the kind of place I'd expect to find the evil despots of today."
Pat R.', "This Game Are Sick"

    Western Animation 

Mirror Master: Gentlemen, we live in brutal times. Last week, to make ends meet, I was reduced to hijacking a tractor trailer full of sports cars.
Captain Cold: That is so beneath you. At least knock over a bank!
Trickster: Gotta visualise!
Captain Cold: "Visualise"? What the heck does that mean? If I don't "visualise" a mortgage payment soon, the wife will have me bagging groceries for a living!
Justice League Unlimited, "Flash and Substance"

"We've got it great here. And for the first time in my life I'm actually good at my job. My team is way ahead of the weather machine and germ warfare divisions."
Homer Simpson, The Simpsons, You Only Move Twice

Finn: Oh, give us a break, Chan. We're not even working for any Forces of Darkness this week.
Ratso: Yeah, we're on vacation.
Jackie Chan Adventures, The Good Guysnote 

    Real Life 

"As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me. They do not feel any enmity against me as an individual, nor I against them. They are only doing their duty, as the saying goes. Most of them, I have no doubt, are kind-hearted law-abiding men who would never dream of committing murder in private life."
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn

"I was never an anti-Semite. ... I personally had nothing to do with this. My job was to observe and report on it."
Adolf Eichmann

"When in the summer of 1941 he [Hitler] gave me the order to prepare installations at Auschwitz where mass exterminations could take place, and personally to carry out these exterminations, I did not have the slightest idea of their scale or consequences. It was certainly an extraordinary and monstrous order. Nevertheless the reasons behind the extermination programme seemed to me right. I did not reflect on it at the time: I had been given an order, and I had to carry it out. Whether this mass extermination of the Jews was necessary or not was something on which I could not allow myself to form an opinion, for I lacked the necessary breadth of view."
Rudolf Höss, Commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp

"Stormtroopers in particular, I think, have been an underexplored area, and I've always taken the view that many of them are honorable professionals who end up being evil in the movies mainly because their leadership is corrupt, from Palpatine on down."

"Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority."
Stanley Milgram, "The Perils of Obedience"


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