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Quotes / The Needs of the Many

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Anime and Manga

"There will always be some that cannot be saved. It is impossible to save everyone. If I have to lose five hundred to earn one thousand, I will abandon one hundred and save the lives of nine hundred. That is the most efficient method. That is the ideal..."
Kiritsugu Emiya, Fate/stay night

Comic Books

Look, my job isn't to make everything beautiful. My job isn't to make living life a good time. My job is to keep the majority of people in this country alive. That's it. If fifty-one percent eat a meal tomorrow and forty-nine percent don't, I've done my job. That is the absolute fucking limit of what can be done. Anyone who says otherwise is a con artist. My job is just to keep things the way they are. Everyone stays the same. I do the job. I keep the money coming. I provide the television and a few spare dollars and space for a fuck or two. You might not like that. You might not think that's the way a President should behave. But, you know... that's fucking tough.
President "The Beast", Transmetropolitan

Fan Works

Kara Zor-El: (shaking her head) Oh, Dev. I thought I knew you better than that. I thought you knew me better than that. If we don't step in to save people from the evil we're fighting, than what in Sheol are we fighting it for?
Dev-Em: Kara, you ever have a chance to read military theory and / or history? In case you don't know, commanders have to make decisions that will endanger some innocents, perhaps even kill them—
Kara: Not me. Not ever.
Dev: —Perhaps even kill them, to save the greater number and achieve the greater objective. You have to hold to the greater objective. You simply have to. There is no escaping that fact.

"He said the needs of the many must outweigh the needs of the few."
"They always say things like that," muttered Nee'Lix. "Funny how the people who make these decisions are never among the few."


Spock: Don't grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many...outweigh...
Kirk: The needs of the few...
Spock: Or the one.


"To save a family, abandon a man; to save the village, abandon a family; to save the country, abandon a village; to save the soul, abandon the earth."
Vidura quoting Kavya, Mahabharata

Cassie put a hand on my arm. "Marco, you know we'll try to help your mother, in whatever way we can."
"She's only one person." I shrugged off her hand and stood up. "And we're supposed to be saving the world, right?"
It was one of the lines I'd practiced the night before. It sounded more bitter and less cool and calm and in control than I wanted.
Animorphs #30: The Reunion

Agnieszka: If it were my mother—I'd try anything too.
Alosha: Then you'd be behaving like a child instead of a prince.

Live-Action TV

"Smallville needs you more than I do, Clark, go. (he hesitates) GO!"
Chloe Sullivan, Smallville, "Arrival"

Clark: What if something goes wrong? I don't want to leave you here.
Chloe: You have to. (Clark turns to leave)
Chloe: Clark... I don't know if I'm ever gonna see you again. (Cue Big Damn Now or Never Kiss)
Smallville, "Vessel"

Chloe Sullivan: Thanks for not giving up on me... I just hope that if it turned out that there was no other choice, you would choose to do the right thing... To do what's best for the world... and not for me. Know that I'd understand.
Clark Kent: Well, as long as I'm around, that's never gonna happen.
Smallville, "Legion"

"Clark, you're not here to save one person, you're here to save all of us."
Chloe Sullivan, Smallville, "Beast"

Chloe: I must have thrown a million green rocks away and I've never really saved you. Now, I can.
Clark: Chloe, listen to me, this is your life that we're talking about. Don't do this!
Chloe: Clark, if there's one lesson I've learned from you, it's that choosing the greater good is never a sacrifice.
Smallville, "Beast"

"Some must be sacrificed if all are to be saved. Because, if we fail in this, then none of us will be saved."
Image of G'Kar's father, Babylon 5, "Dust to Dust"

"We had to choose between the lives of millions...and the lives of billions. Of entire planets."
Delenn, Babylon 5, "Ship of Tears"

Palindrome: Of course it would mean certain death for everyone on board.
The Head: This is a tough one, Palindrome. But as you know, one of the responsibilities of those in charge is to order the sacrifice of the few, for the sake of the many.
Palindrome: Yes, sir.
The Head: Particularly when those in charge, are among the many.

Bryan: The director needs to be fired. I hate saying that anybody needs to lose their job...
Vinny: I would say he needs to be kicked in the balls and then fired.
Bryan: This man needs to be fired for seriously the good of TNA. Do it, I mean quit. If you're the director of TNA and you're listening to this right now, quit. Do it for the good of the business. Don't be selfish, don't think about just yourself and your family. Think about all these other people and their families. Just quit for the good of the business because you suck and you're hurting the product, horribly!
The Bryan And Vinny Show, Slammiversary 2007

Gunn: Those men you sent to create a diversion are going to get killed.
Wesley: Yes, they are. (beat) You try not to get anybody killed, you wind up getting everybody killed.
Angel, "Theres No Place Like Plrtz Glrb"


Lucie: Doctor, why didn't you press that button? I mean, one life to save millions? It makes sense.
The Doctor: Because... I used to be that guy.
Lucie: You mean, you're the Monk?! He was you all along?
The Doctor: No, but not far off. I was once a man with a masterplan. I'd seek out injustices, topple governments, all in the name of the greater good. I'd started doing the maths, you see...
Lucie: The maths?
The Doctor: This is how evil starts, with the belief that the ends justify the means. But once you start down that road, there's no turning back. What if you can save a million lives, but you have to let ten people die, or a hundred, or a hundred thousand? Where do you stop?
Big Finish Doctor Who, "The Resurrection of Mars", the Eighth Doctor does some reflection on the darker sides of his seventh incarnation.

Tabletop Games

"A thousand fibres connect each of us with our fellow Tau and along those fibres our deeds run as causes which come back to us as effects. Everything we must do must be in furtherance of the Greater Good lest we return to the Mont'au, the Terror."
— Tau commander Kais, Warhammer 40,000

For the Greater Good!
— Tau Catchphrase and battlecry, Warhammer 40,000

Video Games

"And I will watch over the ones who live on. Those who carry the memory of the wo/man I once was. The wo/man who gave up her/his life to become the one who could save the many."
Commander Shepard, Mass Effect 3


Western Animation

Jim: You're worse than Gunmar. At least he doesn't pretend to care about the world.
Merlin: I care. I do. I just see the bigger picture.
Trollhunters, "A House Divided"


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