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Quotes / You Cannot Kill an Idea

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"You can take my life. It doesn't matter anymore. [...] We fought for our dream and we lost, but you can't hold my people down forever. One day, we'll rise up again, and we will win. Go on. Shoot. What are you waiting for?"
North if Markus died at the freedom march, Jericho fails to win the Battle for Detroit under North's command, and Connor remained a loyal machine, Detroit: Become Human

"Did you think to kill me? There's no flesh or blood within this cloak to kill. There's only an idea. Ideas are bulletproof."

"We failed, Janet. But maybe someday, someone else will succeed."
Michael, The Good Place, "Jeremy Bearimy"

"Y'know, you can get rid of me. It's so easy. But the sweet thing is I'll never really be gone, 'cause I've got good ideas! And the thing about good ideas is they tend to kinda hang around like a bad fart."
Mina Loveberry in a rare villainous example of this trope, Star vs. the Forces of Evil, "Cleaved"

"The Devil is an idea. In all those civilizations, just an idea. But an idea is hard to kill. An idea could escape."
The Tenth Doctor, Doctor Who, "The Satan Pit"

Over time, any sentence uttered long and loud enough becomes fixed. Becomes a truth. Provided, of course, you can outlast the dissent and silence your opponents. But should you succeed – and remove all challengers – then what remains is, by default, now true.
Is it truth in some objective sense? No. But how does one ever achieve an objective point of view? The answer is you don't. It is literally, physically impossible. There are too many variables. Too many fields and formulae to consider. We can try, of course. We can inch closer and closer to a revelation. But we'll never reach it. Not ever...
And so I have realized, that so long as The Templars exist, they will attempt to bend reality to their will. They recognize there is no such thing as an absolute truth – or if there is – we are hopelessly under-equipped to recognize it. And so in its place, they seek to create their own explanation. It is the guiding principle of their so-named "New World Order"; to reshape existence in their own image. It is not about artifacts. Not about men. These are merely tools. It's about concepts. Clever of them. For how does one wage war against a concept?
It is the perfect weapon. It lacks a physical form yet can alter the world around us in numerous, often violent ways. You cannot kill a creed. Even if you kill all of its adherents, destroy all of its writings – these are a reprieve at best. Some one, some day, will rediscover it. Reinvent it. I believe that even we, the Assassins, have simply re-discovered an Order that predates the Old Man himself...
Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, Assassin's Creed II, "Codex"

"There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world. An idea whose time has come."
— Anonymous

"If you gun down the messenger
You guarantee that he will be made into a saint
A martyr of the free word."
Epica, "Martyr of the Free Word"

"Ideas by man and only that will last
And over time we've learned from the past
That no man's fit to rule the world alone
A man will die but not his ideas."
Ace Of Base, "Happy Nation"

"Your kind is always looking for villains. So much better to have something- someone -to fight than face the reality of it: that what you're fighting isn't physical; it isn't even metaphysical! It's an idea made real. You can't shoot fireballs at an idea. Ideas are like viruses- invisible, all-pervasive... invincible."
Freddy Beaumont, The Secret World

"It has been dead for a thousand years; but its idea is still alive. Have you ever fought an idea? It has no weapon to destroy, no body to kill."
Gowron, Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Rightful Heir"

"You can deny me all you want, but you can't deny Ben Sisko! He exists! That future, that space station, all those people, they exist in here, in my mind! I created it, and every one of you knew it, you read it! It's here! Do you hear what I'm telling you?! You can pulp a story, but you cannot destroy an idea! Don't you understand?! That's ancient knowledge, you cannot destroy an idea! That future...I created it, and it's real! Don't you understand?! It's real...I created it, and it's real! It's real..."
Cpt. Benjamin Sisko (as 1950s author Benny Russell), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, "Far Beyond The Stars"

"I'd expect you to say that; you never truly believed in us. Cerberus isn't just an organization or the people behind it. Cerberus is an idea. That idea is not so easily destroyed."
The Illusive Man, Mass Effect 3

You can destroy planets, but you can never destroy what I am, "friend".
Son Goku to Freeza, Dragon Ball Z

"You can put out the candle, but you can't put out the fire.
Once the flame begins to catch, the wind will blow it higher."
Peter Gabriel, Biko

"Even when your kind appears to triumph...Still we rise again. And do you know why? It is because the Order is born of a realization. We require no creed, no indoctrination by desperate old men. All we need is that the world be as it is. And THIS is why the Templars will never be destroyed!"
Haytham Kenway, Assassin's Creed III

"The open source movement gave every idea an army of researchers. They turned military secrets into public knowledge, and children's science kits into biowarfare labs. That's how the Jews became extinct, why China is full of zombies, and why red hair is a death sentence. Two-thirds of the world's population died because of bigotry, insanity, or ancestral hatred. Because of ideas. There's only one way to kill an idea: you have to kill every person who holds it."
Jacob Doe, Genocide Man

"I am the one thing you can never kill. I am Hope."
Kelsier right before dying, Mistborn: The Final Empire

"You can't fight ideas with bullets."
Leo Gold, Deus Ex

"What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient... highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it's almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed - fully understood - that sticks."
Cobb, Inception

"Cattle die, kinsmen die, you yourself will also die; but the fair fame never dies of him who has earned it."

"'They can't get inside you,' she had said. But they could get inside you. 'What happens to you here is forever,' O'Brien had said. That was a true word. There were things, your own acts, from which you could never recover. Something was killed in your breast: burnt out, cauterized out.

"When some theorize about the Nazi Germany winning World War II, they imagine the Nazis dominating the globe and surviving forever. This is entirely possible; it could've happened had the situation been right. Who knows? But as we see time and time again in human history, empires and countries fall. Even if they do not collapse, they change ideologies. Politics and societies evolve from one generation to the next. Even if Nazi Germany won the war, this doesn't mean the Reich that Hitler oversaw would survive forever. The 1940's German Reich that we think of certainly couldn't survive forever. So what is the biggest effect of a Nazi victory in this alternate timeline? Ideology."

"Ideology shapes mankind. It shapes our beliefs, our morals to an extent, how we see ourselves as people on this Earth. The gods we worship, the politics we think, not in the current time but those few ideas are able to stick and, through the butterfly effect, define what we think it means to be human. The writings of Marx affected millions of people across the globe, either by force or by inspiration. Each idea is stuck at a crossroads whether it should survive or not. Fascism is no different. Forever legitimizing this political experiment in this alternate world, at least to the inhabitants. When the Nazis lost World War II in our timeline, the most important part was the death of the ideology. The Nuremberg trials gave evidence to the atrocities that Nazism spawned, Hitler's war brought death and destruction to Germany, no mass resistance ever occurred to defend Hitler's legacy."

"In this alternate timeline, this never happens. If the Nazis manage to maintain a successful nation until Hitler's death, the ideology he spurred would be immortalized. The best comparison is with the founding fathers and the United States. American politics is diverse, but no matter what, there is never a politician or mainstream figure who disagrees with the ideas of the founders and the constitution. This is because the ideology has become a part of the culture in the United States. As the founders died, they became more than men, but idols to look back on and emulate. The politics of each party is its own way of interpreting the words of the constitution. Not to compare the founders to the Nazis, but the same logic would still apply. If all went well for Nazi Germany, decades after Adolf Hitler's death, even if the Third Reich collapsed, there could be major differences between fascists and Nazi parties."

"He would remain an idol to these alternate people throughout the world. As generations are born and can't remember a time before the Nazis, the ideology is normalized in the eyes of the people. Now this isn't to say the world would be Nazi, yet this would show that Nazism would play a much larger role in mankind's future than in our timeline. Marx's ideas are emulated and debated today among communists. In this alternate timeline, as more people are born into this Nazi-influenced world, their own ideas on Fascism might be shaped by the times they live in. A dark alternate spectrum of political thought based around fascism. As the centuries would move on, people would look back on the war in ways we don't even know now. In our timeline, centuries from now, World War II will remain a defining moment in mankind's history. This single conflict shaped the economic, social, and political changes that shaped our modern world. It will only grow more influential in the centuries to come, as the actions we make today influence the decisions of our descendants. World War II could've been the end to entire cultures. It already devastated so much of the globe, but it very well could've been worse, becoming a new chapter in human history. One not led by Nazis, but one led by people inspired by Hitler and have an influential say in the globe."
Alternate History Hub discussing this trope, What if Nazi Germany Won World War II?

"I know you've come to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man."
Last words of Che Guevara, attributed.

Tokath: I know that there are those among you who may question what I'm about to do. And you would not be wrong to do so. I have questioned myself. I have spent the night considering my decision, challenging myself to justify whether it is right. And I have reached the conclusion that it is absolutely necessary to put this man to death. What we have built together would be destroyed by this man. And I cannot allow that to happen. I give you one last chance to accept our way of life.
Worf: Those are eloquent word, Tokath, but the truth is, I am being executed because I brought something dangerous to your young people. Knowledge. Knowledge of their origins. Knowledge of the real reasons you are here in this camp. The truth is a threat to you.
Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Birthright: Part II"

Put him up against the wall
Shoot him up with pentothal

Shoot him up with lead
You won't call back what's been said
Put him in the ground
But one day you'll look around

There'll be a face you don't know
Voicing thoughts you've heard before
Bruce Cockburn, "Maybe The Poet"

Jerome Valeska: Good ol' Gordon. Always playing by the rules. That's why I'll outlive you. That's why I'm loved, 'cause I don't give a damn about the rules.
Jim Gordon: It's a long way down. You sure you'll outlive me?
Jerome: Oh, I'm sure, 'cause I'm more than a man. I'm an idea, a philosophy. And I will live on in the shadows within Gotham's discontent. You'll be seeing me soon. Au revoir!


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