Lawful Stupid

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
At least music piracy is down.

Also known as Lawful Anal, these people may call themselves Lawful Good, but seem to completely forget about the "Good" part. Rather, they lean toward such rigid adherence to the law that anybody who breaks any law, anywhere, for any reason, is the enemy. Even saying an unkind word to someone is an act of pure evil, and the Lawful Stupid can and will act as Judge, Jury, and Executioner. They refuse to hide from even overwhelming threats, and believe that letting evil win in any way (by, say, helping the villagers to retreat from the advancing dark army) is against their alignment. Naturally, they are too stupid to be evil; that is why they are called Lawful Stupid, not Lawful Evil or Lawful Neutral.

Woe be to the fellow party member who fails to live up to their almost obsessive-compulsive standards. If the thief so much as jaywalks, Mr. Lawful Stupid will insist on turning him in to the "proper authorities" (regardless of what alignment said authorities actually are), or perhaps even execute him on the spot. Then he'll berate the other members of his party for "condoning" the thief's behavior, and may turn on them as well. This makes this guy highly irritating as well as stupid for turning in his only allies, to the point where despite usually calling themselves Lawful Good, they look a lot like Lawful Evil, or at best Lawful Neutral. Or maybe Chaotic Neutral. For newbie DMs, the best solution is usually a blunt force object applied to the head of the offending character -- if not the player.

In tabletop roleplaying games, it's apparently such a common behavior for paladins (see Leeroy Jenkins) that it seems this is what everyone expects paladins to do these days.

In fact, it's so common that the Dungeons & Dragons Sourcebook Book of Exalted Deeds spends a good number of pages explaining how to be Lawful Good without being a total dimwit. The creators themselves got sick of it.

Basically, this trope is a Lawful character carrying the Idiot Ball because that is the Lawful thing to do. A truly Lawful Good character believes that a lawful, orderly society is necessary for good. He does not believe that rules can never be bent or that leniency is always wrong.

Also compare Honor Before Reason, which has a tendency to overlap with this if done badly. When this behavior is caused by faith, Belief Makes You Stupid is present. Compare and contrast Chaotic Stupid, Stupid Good, Stupid Evil, and Stupid Neutral, which are the Moral/Ethical Alignment: Stupid equivalent tropes for Chaos, Good and Evil. The Fundamentalist and Knight Templar usually fall under this alignment, and may eventually develop into Tautological Templar.

No real life examples, please; people in real life cannot be classified so simply.

Examples of Lawful Stupid include:

Anime and Manga

  • Post-Time Skip Rossiu from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann becomes a little bit too zealous in his task of upholding the newly created law, much to the very great annoyance of Chaotic Good Simon. For example, he believes the Grappal are far more advanced than the Gurren Lagann and keeps telling Simon that he must rely on his Redshirt Army instead of fighting himself, even though, this being a Super Robot show, it's bleeding obvious that Simon's Gurren Lagann is the most powerful mecha in the world.
    • Rossiu has every reason to believe that the Grappals are stronger since he does not know about the hocus pocus spirit of fighting energy source. His failure to realize that Simon is a war-commander type of leader and his backstabbing of Simon for what he feels is the greater good is what makes him "Lawful Stupid."
      • Even then, he wasn't doing it without reason. He was seeing how radically quick the people were rising up. More specifically, they were rising up at Simon, since they saw him as the cause of their approaching doom, and actually had the ability to attack the government. Rossiu's actions were pretty stupid in hindsight, given the genre, but in his position it's actually understandable. Besides, he actually went against the law to throw Simon in jail, so that he could calm the populous enough to listen to his plan.
    • Granted, it's less that he's stupid and more that he doesn't realise he's in a universe dominated by Rule of Cool.
    • From the same series, the Anti-Spirals are Lawful Evil Stupid: they insist on fighting their opponents on relatively equal terms to instill "Ultimate Despair" by always snatching victory from their opponents in the cheapest manner possible, despite the fact that their enemies continually achieve said victory with only the slightest chance of success. On the other hand, they aren't Genre Blind in the slightest and realise that in order to deny humanity its Rule of Cool powers they had to totally crush their burning spirit. After all, it worked for them countless times before, and they were just like us once...
  • Emily Sevensheep from Mahou Sensei Negima is not open to discussion with unarmed wanted criminals. It takes both Negi stripping her of her weapons and her boss telepathically contacting her for her to agree to discuss... for a time.
  • Detective Lunge, the Inspector Javert from Monster has fallen under Lawful Stupid a few times when he continued to pursue Tenma despite the existence of Johann being right in front of him.
  • Bleach: Subverted with Byakuya. At first he appears to be an example of this trope, willing to kill even his own sister just because the law says so. Then it's revealed that he was once so rebellious and caused his family so much chaos and embarrassment because of it, that he felt forced to make a vow to uphold the law no matter what. Unfortunately for him, his sister being sentenced to execution fell into the "no matter what" category. As soon as Ichigo helps him resolve that vow, he starts reverting (slightly, not completely) to his older personality and combines upholding the law with bending it if good needs to prevail over law. In other words, he now upholds the spirit rather than the letter which makes him much more flexible on which law/order he does and does not follow.
    • Soì-Fong is played straight with her first appearance:

Soì-Fong: "I have no interest in whether it is right or wrong. All I care about is executing orders as a captain of the Gotei 13. All who get in my way are my enemies. All enemies must be slain. That is all that matters. That goes for you too, Omaeda. Don't forget where your loyalty lies. If you get in my way, you too will become my enemy."

    • Yamamoto was also this. It was explained that captains were expected to obey the rulings of the Central 46 without question or hesitation. When Yamamoto's two favourite students rebelled to try and save Rukia, Yamamoto didn't allow his fondness for them to stand in the way of trying to kill them for their betrayal.
  • In Claymore, Priscilla was pretty much this in spades prior to her Awakening.
  • Parodied in Excel Saga, when the Daitenzin decide to perform as many acts of justice as possible, however insignificant, so they can take off their suits. They end up fighting litterers, extortioners, and other petty criminals with the full force of Sentai heroes.
  • The World Government is ruled by a bunch of arrogant nobles who are not only perfectly willing to ignore a prison breakout that freed more than one hundred highly dangerous criminals back into the world, they are willing to cover it up as though it never happened. While focusing nearly the entirty of their forces into one single place to ensure the end of the bloodline of a decades dead pirate.
  • This pretty much defines Suzaku Kururugi of Code Geass, who believes upholding the law is a better path towards change than revolution, even though said laws apply to a Darwinist government that would sooner keel over than give its so-called Numbers equal rights. Until, of course, his dark past and secret motive are revealed, and he more appropriately falls under Lawful Selfish.
    • During a hostage situation, Suzaku actually protests against hacking open a locked door to save someone because "it's against the rules."
  • The X-LAWS from Shaman King are all this. A group that vows to wipe out Hao and his allies. Okay, the only problem is that if you are not on their side your automatically considered an enemy. They refuse to work with others outside their group and tend to look down on anyone not in their team (mostly Marco carries this attitude). The X-LAWS says they do this to rid evil from the world and stop the killing. It is not as bad in the manga, but in the anime they take it to the extreme. Way to go ruining your chances helping other people stop the Big Bad.
  • Emiri Kimidori from Haruhi Suzumiya.
  • The 3rd-year Pandoras in Freezing after Satellizer unleashes a brutal Curb Stomp Battle on one of their peers. They try to justify their persecution of her in that the Pandoras are humanity's best line of defense against the monstrous, alien Novas, and that in battle, unit cohesion and the chain of command have to be maintained. What makes this truly stupid, though, is that none of them seem to care that the 3rd-year that Satellizer beat up had forcefully disrobed her and taken pictures of it, and was ready to have her male assistants rape Satellizer.
  • Played for Laughs in Ratman. The main character is tricked into signing a contract to act as an evil organization's super-villain, and never thinks that since the signature was made under false pretenses, its invalid. Not to mention just ignoring it even if it were legal. Thankfully, Jackal isn't really all that evil, so its not so bad.

Comic Books

  • The Guardians of the Universe in Green Lantern. Especially evident in the build-up to Blackest Night.
    • Before they had their rigid programming undone in Brightest Day, the Alpha Lanterns as well. One went so far as to attack a Red Lantern that had been released from its cell by other Green Lanterns in order to hold off a Zombie Apocalypse. The Alpha gets destroyed by Black Lanterns soon afterwards.
    • Ganthet is the only Guardian who seems to realize their lawful stupid actions hurt them. Hence why he's the man. This is lampshaded in the latest cartoon series where he's one of the only Guardians who wants to own up to the accidental Manhunter massacre in the 'Forgotten Zone'...only for the council to banish him for proposing it.
  • Simply creating the Suicide Squad was a stupid move by lawmakers in DC's version of America. Convincing a team of super-villain inmates from Arkham to work for them? What was Amanda Walker thinking? Sure, they had Explosive Leashes to keep them in line (which worked about as well as any other restraint used on Arkham inmates) but anyone should have realized this was going to backfire. Badly. Even worse, Walker didn't realize that she'd be vulnerable to blackmail from any influential citizen with a lack of ethics who found out about it, and she can't put leashes on them.
  • In a Green Arrow story arc, a man who felt the justice system had failed summons a group of Literal Genie demons to enforce the law of his city. Of course, they twist their commands around so the slightest infraction allows them to slaughter with impunity.
    • Which leads to a Crowning Moment of Funny as Green Arrow, who is still Mayor of Star City, leads a group of people to confront the demons. They follow all of the traffic lights, stay on the sidewalk and make sure to avoid breaking any number of inane laws a city tends to accumulate.
  • Despite himself being a criminal, The Punisher is sometimes depicted as willing to kill anyone who breaks any law for any reason, even if the "criminal" is non-violent, begging for mercy, and just helped the Punisher. In one instance, he discovered that someone who had been his ally throughout the issue was a retired thief, and, as a sign of gratitude for his help, gave him a head start. This is Depending on the Writer, as older writers often showed him willing to let a criminal go if they gave him a reason.
    • While Punisher's lawful stupidity varies by the author, Solo whose motto is "while I live, terror dies" was woven whole from lawful moron cloth. He's shown in a solo story to shoot down a murderer, then turns around and gives the would-be victim he has just rescued his twisted reasoning why his previous actions have actually prompted the murder attempt to occur, then kills the guy himself for "creating terror". Marvel execs probably wonder to this day why he never caught on.
  • The Spectre falls under this trope from time to time, mostly because he is vengeance personified and thus prone to being tricked. Given his power, this is a very bad thing.
  • One of Spider-Man's foes is the high-tech Knight Templar Cardiac, whose goal is to punish folks who get away with horrible crimes because of this Trope. Even Spidey can't help but admire him a little.
  • Sam from Sam and Max Freelance Police is this, for laughs. He genuinely loves justice, but his ways of achieving justice are batshit insane and mostly an excuse to charge around, shooting at things.
  • From the Warhammer 40,000 comic Titan:

"Authority must be respected! Orders are sacrosanct! Hekate disobeyed! Better that-"
"B-better that this depot and every life in it had fallen than I had disobeyed your order?"
"As the Emperor is my judge...yes."

    • Theoretically justified as rigid and unthinking adherence to orders, no matter how cruel and/or suicidal they may seem, is one of the ways humanity survives in the extreme Crapsack World of 40K. The Empire doesn't have the motto "Better that a thousand innocents die than one guilty man go free" For the Evulz, they do it because in their setting any given guilty man might become capable of genocide.
  • A rule of thumb regarding S.H.I.E.L.D in Marvel Comics, if Nick Fury is in charge, it is both competent and ethical, otherwise, they are a bunch of corrupt extremists.
    • Case in point, the Civil War where Maria Hill was basically an Expy of Amanda Waller,
    • But that was hardly the first time S.H.I.E.L.D. had done something that idiotic. In the She-Hulk graphic novel, they used their authority to kidnap She-Hulk in order to subject her to experiments to make sure she wasn't as dangerous as the Hulk. (Fury objected, but he wasn't in charge at that point.) End result? An incompetent officer took control of the project, a swarm of mutated cockroaches hijacked control of the Helicarrier (this was the original one) the Helicarrier was destroyed, and they barely avoided a nuclear disaster due to the crash causing its reactor to become unstable. She-Hulk would have left them to their fates, but there was a town with innocent civilians that would have been destroyed too, so they were able to convince her to fix the problem. Still, they didn't learn...
    • Oh, yeah, they didn't learn. Another example of S.H.I.E.L.D. stupidity happened slightly after The Clone Saga in the Spider-Man one-shot Spider-Man: Dead Man's Hand, when they confiscated the Jackal's body and experimented on it. This led to an unscrupulous coroner who they clearly shouldn't have given the job to finding out the secrets of the Carrion Virus and turning himself into the third - and to date, deadliest - version of Carrion, who tried to unleash a biochemical weapon on New York to create a Zombie Apocalypse. (Sort of; the victims weren't truly zombies.) Spider-Man told Dum Dum Dugan to his face that "This would never be happening if Nick Fury were alive!" which clearly didn't help matters. Ironically, Fury was alive, but had faked his death, and Dugan knew that, but he couldn't exactly tell Spidey.


  • Colonel "Bat" Guano of Dr. Strangelove tries to stop Group Captain Mandrake from robbing a vending machine to get money for a pay phone. Given that Mandrake is trying to call Washington with the recall codes to stop the impending nuclear holocaust, Guano's attitude isn't really the most sensible. He does give in, but with the stern warning that Mandrake "will have to answer to the Coca-Cola Company."
    • He also doesn't believe Capt. Mandrake's story. Not that it completely excuses him, but it does offer some mitigation.
  • RoboCop is subjected to this in the second movie, in a deliberate bid by the evil corporation to make him so useless that they can justify scrapping him. They decide to make him a more positive social role model by giving him over three hundred new Directives that he's forced to obey, including "Pool opinions before expressing yourself," "Discourage feelings of negativity and hostility," and "Don't run through puddles and splash other pedestrians." Robocop realizes that this is impairing his ability to uphold the core three Directives and enforce the law to his best capacity and purposely electrocutes himself to short out the Lawful Stupid programming, something the bad guys didn't expect.
  • In Erik the Viking, the title-character lands on the mystical island of Hybrasil, where even a single drop of spilled blood will cause the entire island to sink. This results in their being completely nice and non-critical to each other in any way, in order to avoid any chance of an argument which could escalate into any accident. This is taken even to the point that their music is nothing but loud, chaotic noise and clanging-sounds, since no one will dare find any fault with it. Then, even when a drop of blood is finally spilled and the island begins to sink, no one will believe a word of it, but simply denies that it's happening, and they all go down with the island.
  • The Gamers: Dorkness Rising lampshades this with the Paladin refusing to let the party torture information out of an evil captive because his alignment disallows him.

Joanna: Can't he just go outside?
Lodge: Paladins can't let evil acts happen if they know about them. It's his alignment.
Gary: Yeah, they're Lawful Stupid.

  • The Jedi in the (prequel) Star Wars films.
    • An interesting inversion of the above, Anakin demands Palpatine stand trial, even though his "crimes" make him as Windu says, "too dangerous to stay alive." Its not an inversion of the trope, but an inversion of the idea that Jedi use this: Anakin is already converted at this point to Sith thinking, but applies a Jedi principle to further his own goals. Furthermore, it's Mace Windu that bends this conception that Jedi are Lawful Stupid.
  • CLU in Tron: Legacy. He's given the unfortunately-worded directive to "create the perfect system", which, being a computer program, he takes literally, destroying everything in The Grid that isn't perfect, and then planning to go into the outer world (the "real" world) to continue doing.
  • The Jerk: "You're not carnival personnel...! HEY! HE'S NOT CARNIVAL PERSONNEL!"
  • The titular Inspector in Inspector Gadget 2. At the beginning of the movie crime is so far down in the city he's busting old ladies for going marginally over the speed limit.
  • Zeus from the 2011 Immortals. Even though Hyperion is going around slaughtering innocent villages and destroying temples, Zeus still forbids the Greek Gods from interfering on pain of death and even kills Ares for pulling a Big Damn Heroes to save Theseus. He finally does get personally involved, but only because Hyperion had already unleashed the Titans and the Greek Gods get slaughtered/critically wounded in the ensuing melee.
  • Detective Jim Lipton, from Dead Silence. He is legitimately convinced that Jamie Ashen killed his wife based solely on the fact that Ashen gave her flowers prior to her death (it was their anniversary). He ignores the one real piece of evidence, ignores common sense, and actively breaks the law for the sole purpose of harassing an acquitted man, going so far as to attempt to arrest Ashen without cause and threaten him with a shotgun- again, without cause or provocation.
  • Society as a whole (or at least the prettified version above ground) has been deliberately transformed into a utopia of Lawful Stupidity in Demolition Man.
  • Die Hard: With the exception of Sgt. Al Powell, every LAPD officer, as well as FBI special agents Johnson and Johnson (no relation), is unhelpful to John McClane in his efforts to stop Hans Gruber, who takes complete advantage of their stupidity.


  • Many of Piers Anthony's heroes are Lawful Stupid. Doing the "honorable" thing is more important to them than stopping the villain. If they were tricked into giving their word of honor on something then they will keep their word, even if it means allowing the villain to commit evil acts.
    • This was subverted in the Mode series, when the villain made a deal where he would let the heroes go free, if they agreed not to stop him. When the leader of the heroes accepted, he blindly believed the hero, because he knew that honor meant everything to him. Honor meant absolutely nothing to the main character and her super-intelligent psionic horse, who went along with the plan, and then betrayed the villain the moment they were out of his realm.
    • In the Author's Note to one of his books, Anthony defends his characters' Lawful Stupidity as being the right thing to do. In fact, the specific example he was defending was Grey Murphy's willingness to become the evil Com Pewter's servant (if he hadn't found a loophole in his contract), which was a particularly Egregious Warped Aesop since it wasn't even Grey who made the promise. It was his parents. Then it turns out that Grey's ultimate resolution to the problem is to reprogram Com Pewter against his will. Failing to honor promises you didn't make is wrong, but brainwashing is fine? Er, okay...
    • This makes a lot more sense when you read enough of Anthony's work to discover that he considers it normal for men to constantly struggle against the urge to rape women. Strict rules are good for keeping dangerous thoughts in line.
  • Eddard Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire is bound by an inflexible code of honor. His flaw wasn't his code of honor, but his belief that other people are better or more honest than they actually are and that they can be shamed into doing the right thing; he's willing to do the right thing, no matter how hard that may actually be.
    • His son, on the other hand, falls into this category towards the end.
      • This is arguable, since on the one hand you could say that he foolishly trusted Walder Frey's honor because he himself was honorable. (Plus, his mother kept harping on the honor of the laws of hospitality as if they were a magic spell, probably reinforcing this attitude.) On the other hand, he didn't really have any other choice at that point... he needed Frey and the Twins to have any potential chance of winning the war, and it was well established that he couldn't take the "less honorable" road of just going around or conquering the Twins not because it wasn't honorable, but because it wouldn't work.
    • Stannis Baratheon really is totally and stupidly inflexible. He wages a war of succession, tearing the kingdom apart to be king. He doesn't want to be king and would be terrible at it, but he's the rightful heir, so there no question in his mind: it has to be done. However, unlike Eddard Stark, he has a good grasp of people's intentions and capabilities. This generally serves to make him despise most of the people he associates with, because they're not as inflexible and duty bound as he is.
  • In Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, Rand al'Thor—and pretty much every other male good guy—has a completely pointless code of honour about not harming a woman, no matter how evil. Which is nonsensical, since every single chapter of the series shows that the women of that world neither need nor deserve protection. This even extends to when a woman is trying to kill him....
    • This is taken to such extreme that he lets his mentor and only true Aes Sedai ally GET KILLED because he refuses to kill his past self's psychotic former girlfriend (don't ask) when she becomes homicidal. Despite the fact that she is also threatening the woman he loves. As of the latest books, he has finally gotten over his along with the rest of his psychological issues.
    • Another example from the same series is Galad Damodred, a character described by his half-sister as a man who "does what is right, no matter who is hurt by it, even himself."
      • That said, it's amazing what he can justify to himself when it comes right down to it...

Galad: If you intend to be at Tarmon Gai'don, then you will have to fight alongside Aes Sedai.
* 1000 years old schism in the Forces of Good is resolved instantly*

  • Averted by the main character in Elizabeth Moon's The Deed of Paksenarrion, which was written explicitly as a guide to being a Paladin without being Lawful Stupid, because the author was tired of constantly running into Lawful Stupid paladins at conventions.
  • Eve Forward's Villains by Necessity has the Balance Between Good and Evil central to its plot—if it's not maintained, the world will be sublimated into either a big light blur or a big dark blur with a possible domino effect for other worlds—but supports this mostly by populating the side of Good with Lawful Stupid Knights Templar, with some Stupid Good lackeys for variety. This has the unfortunate effect of undermining the premise, since the "good" antagonists really aren't particularly good people, and the "evil" protagonists mostly aren't particularly evil either. Notably, one such Stupid Good lackey, the centaur bard Robin, eventually clues in and performs a Heel Face Turn to side with the "evil" protagonists, and the Black Knight called Blackmail turns out to be a legendary paladin who has sided with the protagonists for the sake of saving the world and in disgust at his former True Companions' Lawful Stupid behavior.
  • In some of the spinoff-Halo books, there is a small faction of The Covenant called The Governors of Contrition. While the normal Covenant place a large emphasis on the works of the Forerunners being holy, the Governors of Contrition take it to a huge extreme. They even consider The Flood (a plague that turns people into space-zombies) to be worth embracing because it was created by the forerunners (which it wasn't). Even the normally ridiculously dogmatic Covenant realize this is madness.
  • Arguably, Percy Weasley in Harry Potter, especially in the fifth and sixth books. Hermione also does this at times, particularly in the early books; for the most part she grew out of it by book 5 at the latest. Also, save for a few key members, the Ministry of Magic and the Wizengamot (the magical court system) are pretty much entire governing bodies of Lawful Stupid, especially under the Cornelius Fudge administration.
    • Also, Argus Filch. He only hates people that break the rules in Hogwarts.
      • Which, given his hidebound and unbending view of school rules (and his tendency to tack just about anything he can think of onto the list of Forbidden Items), is pretty much every single student at Hogwarts.
  • In one of C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower novels, Hornblower can save his ship only by lying to a French officer that Napoleon has recently died. To make the enemy believe him, Hornblower has to support the lie by taking an oath on his honor as an officer. He plans to resign his commission in disgrace at the next port, because he has permanently dishonored himself. Fortunately for him, he finds out, by Jove, Napoleon really IS dead, so the lie was the truth all along. In Forester's defense, he conveys the standards of that culture so vividly that the reader can believe in Hornblower's scruples.
  • Victor Hugo's Les Misérables has Inspector Javert, who is Lawful Stupid in that he holds the law so far above any common sense and morality that he chose to commit suicide instead of acknowledging that the hero, despite being a fugitive, was a good guy.
    • There are many ways to interpret Javert's suicide, including the exact opposite of the above. Javert holds such a rigid view of right and wrong, and has such a deeply ingrained repugnance for everything he sees as "wrong", that his suicide could be seen as the ultimate acknowledgment of Jean Valjean's virtue. The problem is, if Valjean is in the right, then that means that the dogged, obsessive pursuit of him by Javert was and has always been wrong. I.E. Javert kills himself because he cannot accept that he IS the thing he has spent his entire life fighting.
  • Cao Cao in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Three Kingdoms period? Arguably; either he is Lawful Stupid, a real master of PR, or simply awesome. In one instance, his troops are marching through wheat fields when Cao orders the men not trample the wheat, or they will be beheaded. Doing so, he wins the peasants' affections, since the peasants would like to eventually eat. Unfortunately, Cao's horse bolts and tramples some of the wheat in a panic. The law technically doesn't apply to Cao Cao. Accounts vary, but in one version Cao either goes to take his own life or orders himself executed. His men intervene and stop him, and Cao Cao instead cuts his hair in disgrace and shows it to the army. Either Cao Cao proved uncharacteristically Lawful Stupid at that moment, or he knew his men would spare him. Regardless, knowing their boss was quite willing to suffer such harsh discipline himself raised his men's moral and discipline greatly. Lawful Stupid or brilliant: could go either way.
  • In the Codex Alera novels, the Canim are bound by a strict set of laws, known as the "codes" that they must follow. The Canim, being savvy as to just how much those with less integrity would be willing to abuse the law, established a specialist caste known as "hunters" - spies and assassins whose purpose is to allow their lords to follow the spirit of the codes when someone else abuses the letter of the codes - allowing them to avoid falling victim to being Lawful Stupid.
  • An Eberron novel[1] averts this: The main character is a paladin, who is traveling with a prostitute. While she never stops belittling his beliefs, he keeps giving her calm and rational arguments as to why selling her body may be a bad idea in the long run. At the end of the book, the paladin and his warforged companion confront the employer who double-crossed them. The employer is unarmed, with no guards around, and happily turns his back on them, since he knows no paladin would ever kill a defenseless man in cold blood. The pair leave. As they exit the compound...

Guard: Hey, didn't you have a big axe with you when you came in?
Warforged: I left it with your boss.

  • Hollyleaf of Warrior Cats was turning into this before her death, or disappearence, according to some.
  • Eragon for the Inheritance Cycle could fall under this for his treatment of Sloan. The butcher betrays his village to some minions in hopes of freedom for himself and his daughter, only to be betrayed and subsequently held hostage and tortured for several months. After Eragon "rescues" him, he decides to punish the man further by preventing him from ever seeing his daughter again. Ignoring that she is all he lives for and gave up everything. It is a Fate Worse Than Death.
    • Except for the part where if Sloan acknowledges his errors (which he stubbornly refused to see) and changes for the better, his sight will be restored and he will be able to return to his daughter.
  • Aversion: The Ankh-Morpork City Watch. There's even an image macro lying around on the internet somewhere of one of Paul Kidby's illustrations of Sam Vimes, with the caption "This is how you play Lawful Good you bastards".
    • However Carrot is like this in Guards! Guards!. He arrests people for disobeying laws which haven't been enforced in centuries and tries to arrest the Patrician. He gets better though.
      • When normally Sergeant Colon is made Captain he goes through a bout of the same, although just clamping things (including buildings), rather than actually arresting. Colon is not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
  • In Death: An FBI agent named Jacoby comes off as this in Betrayal In Death. Commander Whitney even warns Eve to be careful, because this guy could try to hang her up on a technicality.
    • Eve herself can often sound like this, grumbling about minor offenses like picking locks or hacking computers despite often being in a "ticking time bomb" sort of scenario, but generally takes the pragmatic route of at least turning her head and pretending she doesn't see it when it becomes necessary. She's less Lawful Stupid and more Lawful Sulky.
  • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: Prosecutor Jack Emery certainly came off as this early on, but he dropped it by the book The Jury. Reporter Ted Robinson managed to hit a higher level of this than Jack did, and he didn't drop it until either the book Collateral Damage or Final Justice. FBI Agent Erin Powell AKA Honey Sweet was certainly this in Collateral Damage.

Live-Action TV

  • The Ancients, infamous Neglectful Precursors from Stargate SG-1, would rather let the galaxy be conquered by Scary Dogmatic Aliens (who would then promptly turn on them) or have all life eradicated by replicating killer robots, than violate their Obstructive Code of Conduct of non-intervention. They are also very fond of their Disproportionate Retribution, such as wiping out an entire planet full of people because their leaders were using a weapon a renegade Ancient gave them for conquest or letting Anubis keep his Ascended knowledge and use it to terrorize the galaxy as some kind of twisted punishment for Oma Desala.
    • Part of this may be due to the fact that most of the Ancients have been "ascended" for many thousands of years, existing in a bodiless state without desire or connection to current events. This has made them lose all sense of scale or conventional morality, since most of them simply don't remember what it was like to be human.
  • To be frank, most Trekkies consider the Prime Directive one of the stupidest concepts ever conceived. Picard allowing the deaths of millions by adhering to it in Pen Pals is viewed as the worst thing he's ever done, while Kirk transporting sperm whales from the past (violating it) is seen as one of his best. (Even if the movie itself wasn't too good, it can't be denied that he prevented The End of the World as We Know It by violating the Prime Directive numerous times in that story alone.) To give just a few examples:
    • Kathryn Janeway of Star Trek: Voyager has occasionally been Lawful Stupid. Several times she has refused to take an opportunity to get the ship home because it would require going against the "values" of the Federation. This isn't always a bad thing, mind—the Federation was envisioned as a near-idealistic society, so it would have some values worth keeping to—but it grated on some viewers after a while. And, of course, if she had, the show would have been over. Was lampshaded in an episode, where a holographic simulation shows the Maquis taking over Voyager, because of their frustration over Janeway's Lawful Stupid tendencies. In "Madame Captain's" defense, though, the Prime Directive seemed to require Lawful Stupidity of Starfleet officers.
    • The Next Generation was not immune to Lawful Stupidity. For example, Picard and Worf regard violating the Prime Directive (or using subterfuge to intervene without violating it) worse than letting a species go extinct when their planet is about to blow up. See the episode involving Worf's human adoptive brother.
      • Also of note is the episode where only at Data's strong insistence do they decide to trouble themselves to help from another planet about to explode.
    • Enterprise manages to one-up the above examples, as they doom a whole sapient species to death by genetic defect, despite having already developed the cure (they just decide not to distribute it). They do this because Archer envisions that there will be some directive against it in the future.
      • Except that in the specific case being mentioned the real reason he refused to distribute the cure was because a second sapient species on the planet would be doomed if he did so. Given the choice between not interfering and dooming a species which was already doomed, or helping them and dooming the species that would otherwise live, and lacking a reasonable third option of transplanting the former species, he reluctantly decided that non-interference was the only reasonable choice. Sadly, despite specifically stating this all on-screen, many viewers still don't get it.
        • Except that the other species was in absolutely no danger. It wasn't the choice between one species or the other, it was a choice between genocide and PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE. In fact, by not saving the more technologically developed species, Archer and Phlox have doomed the other species to a slow, agonizing death since it's stated in the episode that the former spends a lot of resources supporting the latter. Without the first species, the other will have their food and shelter collapse, leading to massive death.
      • There is no way of knowing what would have happened had the genetically defective species been given the chance to survive. Phlox and Archer say that they're trying not to play God, but that's precisely what they do. Phlox is a doctor; his job is to save people. Instead, he lets an entire race die out in order to serve the idea that evolution is an almighty force and to fight it would be the ultimate crime.
      • The episode is not helped by it's mangling of evolution. Phlox claims that evolution somehow 'selected' the more intelligent race to die off to make room for the less intelligent species. Given that evolution is not in fact, a deity, this claim is absolute nonsense. More importantly, the entire way that evolution works is by allowing the weak to die off. The reason the first race 'needed' to die off was because they were supporting and helping the second race, preventing natural selection. Archer and Phlox were allowing the first race to die off completely, so they could stop helping members of the second race from dying off. There is a reason Social Darwinism is a rejected social policy.
    • The flaws in the Prime Directive show up many times in Star Trek: Lower Decks, where Mariner has gotten in trouble frequently for well-intentioned violations of it. In "Crisis Point" she gets in trouble for "interfering in a political dispute", where the "interfering" in question was liberating a sapient Slave Race that another species literally treated like cattle. ("Screw the Prime Directive!" she blatantly says.)
      • There's also a comic book adaptation that is a clear Self-Deprecation to point out how insane the Directive is, where the crew encounters a race called the Qvanti who have adopted a more extreme version of it - the race is divided into two factions, one scientifically advanced and another primitive (called the Yentoa) with the advanced faction attempting to protect the primitive brethren by killing any other race who so much as speaks to them. While the implication is quite clear, it turns out the advanced faction are a bunch of Straw Hypocrites who enforce this law to hide the fact that they have been deliberately hindering the Yentoa's advancement in order to easily subjugate them.
  • Peter Petrelli ("Adam is my friend. I can't let you hurt him.") of Heroes.
  • Earl from My Name Is Earl can fall into this with regards to his list. One memorable example was when he learned that his winning lottery ticket from the first episode that funds his list would have been bought by someone else. He promptly gives the other man all of his and Randy's savings, leaving them destitute. Then he promises to give the man even more until they're even, even though the man and Randy both think he's given enough. When he sells his car for cash to survive on, he even wants to give the man that money! The man has to reveal that he doesn't deserve the money and insist that karma wants Earl to have it before the status quo is restored.
  • In Doctor Who, the Doctor can seem to veer wildly between Lawful Stupid and Stupid Good on occasion, particularly in the new series; he can ruthlessly dispatch and / or punish relatively minor foes or those who break his rules based on a belief in "no second chances" (such as leaving Adam stuck with a piece of futuristic technology in his head for attempting to profit from futuristic technology, or denying Britain a 'golden age' by manipulating the ousting of Harriet Jones from office after she ordered the destruction of a fleet of defeated alien invaders, something which went against the Doctor's efforts), whilst at the same time demonstrating an at-times almost boggling level of compassion and attempts at mercy towards foes whose sins have been much, much worse (such as attempting to forgive and / or rescue both The Master and Davros, each genocidal maniacs with raging God complexes and an overall body-count well into the billions by this point). It's worth noting that those in the second group tend to be long-time recurring foes with Joker Immunity.
    • Also, he wouldn't have left Adam or Harriet to die, either. And in the case of the Master, he can't bring himself to see the Second-Last of His Kind self-destruct, while in the case of Davros, it's part of the story that he's trying to be less of a "no second chances" guy (as contrasted with Doctor-Donna).
    • In the Master's case, it's something of a Fate Worse Than Death... which the Doctor demonstrated that season he's more than capable of doing. The Master would rather die than be the Doctor's prisoner This is proven by the fact he opts to die rather than to regenerate.
    • The Judoon (rhino space police basically) are described by the Doctor as logical but stupid. They follow the law closely, but tend to overreact, and wouldn't think of checking the same floor twice. Physical assault is punished with death with no chance of trial. They have also threatened to kill someone for playing music too loudly in The Sarah Jane Adventures. This is, of course, Played for Laughs.
  • Dwight Schrute of The Office. He tends to be as extreme about this as you can get away with in an office environment taking even the slightest vestments of authority way too seriously and reporting minor infractions. This in turn is what makes it so satisfying to see Jim go all Bugs Bunny on him.
    • Angela is like this too, but a little less stupid than Dwight. Naturally, it was the basis of a romance between the two.
    • Jim occasionally uses this as the basis of a prank. For instance, he tells Dwight that the rules against wasting valuable office time mean that Dwight must not cease working even for a second, and gets out a stopwatch to drive the point home. Dwight is hoist on his own petard (to the point of peeing in a coke bottle at his desk), because he can't bring himself to admit that that rule, if taken to its literal extreme, would indeed be stupid.

Jim: Dwight has not stopped working for a second. At 12:45 he sneezed while keeping his eyes open, which I always thought was impossible.

  • Inspector Sledge Hammer! is this trope. He is a Trigger Happy Knights Templar Cowboy Cop who blew up an entire apartment building to deal with one sniper on the roof and once tied a guy to the hood of his car and drove said car around the parking lot at high speed just because the guy was speeding. Possibly a subversion, however, when you realize that Hammer has no qualms about ignoring laws against Police Brutality and excessive force...
  • In one episode of Charmed there was a "good" and a "bad" universe. However, due to some events even the most minor of infringements of law or courtesy would lead to a horrible punishment in the one supposed to be good.
  • In one sketch of The Kids in The Hall, Kevin refuses an offer of has from a drug dealer on the street and proceeds to tell the police parked near by. In an aside to the audience, as the police frisk the dealer in the background, he explains how right he was in turning them in, not to mention turning his parents in for once having a pot party. Turns out the dealer is clean - he planted the drugs on Kevin, and Kevin ends up arrested.
  • While the antagonists in Firefly run the gamut, Agent Dobson from the pilot takes the cake. Throughout the episode he claims the moral high ground; that the crew's crimes won't go unpunished...even after shooting an unarmed woman, trying to make a backdoor deal with a criminal, bludgeoning a priest who was trying to help him, and holding a mentally unstable girl at gunpoint as a hostage. Not to mention trying to overtake an entire spaceship crew alone. And, of course, all of this was done without understanding why Simon was a criminal, other than he'd stolen Alliance property.

Mythology and Religion

  • King Arthur was so determined to bring about this new Rule of Law idea that he let himself be used by evil people in the guise of upholding the law. This includes Mordred, his bastard (in both senses of the word) son, who is seeking to get Arthur's wife killed for infidelity.
    • ...she WAS having an affair with Lancelot, and if he allowed himself to make exceptions based on friendship, the entire legal system he had spent his entire reign creating and implementing would have been brought down by his own hypocrisy, bringing back the idea that 'Might Makes Right'. (To put it another way, would anyone be happy if a leader of a country pardoned a criminal just because they were family, and then kept trying to get others to think of the laws as impartial and just?) He was forced to choose between the woman he loved and the greater good of his kingdom. It's hardly Lawful Stupid, as he had no way of knowing that the end result would be the fall of Camelot.
      • You can argue that it still counts, as that law is rather unreasonable. Arthur slept with one of his half sisters and had a child. If the King can't be subject to punishment, how is it fair to kill the Queen? It would also mean that Mordred wins.
  • From Hindu Mythology: Daksha hated his son-in-law, Shiva, for living a rather chaotic lifestyle. Shiva doesn't mind that until his wife, Shati, committed suicide in grief of her father defiling and mocking her beloved. Shiva was infuriated; he later killed Daksha, then revived him, with a goat's head as punishment.


  • A recurring Bob & Ray character, police officer Rorshack. In one episode for instance, he loses some change, believes that he's been pickpocketed, has the entire city cordoned off, and orders his fellow officers to detain anyone walking the streets and to shoot anyone who doesn't comply.

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • This trope is often specifically addressed in various Lawful Good religions, where it's spelled out that protecting the innocent and doing good is more important than upholding the letter of the law.
    • One of the stupidest versions can be found with this lovely mechanic of the first edition Cavalier. As a result of the code and the desire for battle, cavaliers cannot be controlled in battle situations. They will charge any enemy in sight, with this order of preference:

1. Powerful monsters (dragons, demons, giants) serving enemy leaders.
2. Enemy leaders.
3. Opponent cavaliers of great renown, and enemy flags and standards.]]
4. Opponent cavalry of noble or elite status.
5. Other opponent cavalry.
6. Opponent elite footmen.
7. Opponent camp and headquarters.
8. Opponent melee troops.
9. Levies or peasants.

  • The Paladin's Handbook had many Lawful Stupid rules. For example it's unthinkable for a paladin to retreat from battle unless his side is severely outmatched (at least outnumbered 2 to 1). Thus using such tactics (such as retreating to continue the fight on more advantageous terms, to trick the enemy side into committing some tactical error, or for whatever strategic reasons) are clearly against a Paladin's ethos. What to do if he's just ordered to disengage without an explanation?
  • The same book also forbade Paladins from associating with evil characters, failing to realise that a) It's not because the guy is evil that he can't serve good (by helping save the world for example); b) That the mere presence of a Paladin will limit how much evil the evil party member can do; c) That the presence of a paladin leading by example could perhaps lead said evildoer to abandon his evil ways and turn neutral or good. The Paladin's Handbook even suggested Paladins should avoid associating with a party mostly composed of neutral characters. The book insisted that Paladins could only stick around such groups for as long as absolutely necessary, and then that they should part ways ASAP.
  • Though likely the whole point of the "Can't knowingly associate with an evil character" rule for Paladins is to keep a rules-lawyering player from just telling the Neutral Evil rogue to do whatever evil acts they themselves want to and reaping the rewards of it. ("Hm, I can't start torturing random people in this town to see if they're hiding the smuggler we want to catch, I'm a Paladin. Babyeater, you do it.") In this case it's morality as loophole closure.
  • Kelemvor Lyonsbane, the god of the dead in Forgotten Realms. He's supposed to be a good guy, and an improvement over his predecessor. And indeed, he does not go out murdering mortals for the pleasure of it; he instead sees to it that all pass in their time. But then there's this wall in his domain, called the Wall of the Faithless. Whomsoever dies without having worshiped a god (even just paying lip service, though they get their own punishment, as being False) has his soul merge with the wall, slowly and painfully destroying him until there's no mind or personality left. People who live in areas where there is no religion featuring gods to worship are bound to end up there—even if they have no other option. You can give money to the poor, make clothes for the orphans, be the nicest person around, and if you do not worship a god, you're just another brick in the wall in the end.
  • In Kelemvor's defense, he originally did try to tear down the Wall of the Faithless and instead instigated a program of rewarding every dead soul who passed to his realm for their behavior in life. This eventually led to hundreds of people forsaking their former worship of the gods and hurling themselves suicidally into danger simply because they now knew they could be assured of a reward for being good from Kelemvor. As Ao had recently altered the gods to depend upon worship for their powers and sustained existence, Kelemvor was unintentionally starving the entire pantheon of their power, and they united as one to force him to reinstate the Wall.
  • The point here is the way Forgotten Realms is set up, there are no areas where there are no gods! Even if you somehow eradicated a whole bunch of gods, simply thanking "Lady Luck" would be enough to avoid this fate. To add to this there is an overbeing called Ao who would be responsible for creating/appointing gods to fill in this vacancy, or for letting existing gods move into the space.
  • Another Lawful Stupid moment from Kelemvor is present in Neverwinter Nights 2 -- Mask of The Betrayer. He claims he can't deal with the spirit eater curse because it would be overriding another god (this appears to be a moral rather than physical issue), never mind that said god is more or less dead, but Kelemvor is said god's successor. Basically, he is refusing to do his own damn job. How does this guy get away with "neutral"?
  • This is a stereotype coming from lots of bad publicity for Helm, God of Duty & Obedience, Patron Deity of Watchmen and Guardsmen. A tendency to fall into this has been a particularly common accusation of both Helm and his faithful ever since the Time of Troubles, when Helm's response to Mystara's attempt to force her way back into the Planes was to destroy her immediately, further damaging the already-strained power of magic and creating the hitherto unknown phenomena of Dead Magic Zones and Wild Magic Zones.
  • Paladins of Tyr and Torm, the gods of justice, duty and honor in the Forgotten Realms, are reminded to oppose laws that can be shown to be unfair or oppressive, and not to enforce them.
  • Lampshaded in The Prince of Lies. The god of thieves, Mask, expresses surprise that Torm is willing to participate in a covert plot to undermine Cyric: "I always figured you for a storm-the-front-gates-in-broad-daylight sort of strategist!".
  • Planescape describes "lawful over good" approach as a characteristic of entire plane of Arcadia (between LG and LN). It's primary plane of influence of the Harmonium faction. AD&D Player's guide to the Planes:

... the Harmonium believes that peace is a better end than war. [...] If it takes thumping heads to spread the truth, well, the Harmonium's ready to thump heads. Sure, there may not be peace right away, but every time the Harmonium gets rid of an enemy, the multiverse is that much closer to the universal harmony it was meant to have.

  • That is, until the Hardheads managed to slip the whole layer into Mechanus. And got La Résistance including proxies of Arcadian gods who weren't too happy about having to re-create their domains, surprise.
  • Somewhat averted in the Greyhawk campaign setting. The predominantly Lawful Good followers of the god Heironeous in what became the kingdoms of Furyondy and Nyrond seceded from the Great Kingdom of Aerdy rather than be subject to the increasingly Lawful Evil nature of its government and favored god Hextor. That said, Lawful Stupid remains the favored alignment in the Theocracy of the Pale.
  • The core rules try to avert this for Paladins. The Player's Handbook states clearly, that when a paladin is faced with a dilemma between Law and Good, the paladin will choose good every time.
  • In the first edition at least, the penalty for an intentional Chaotic act was losing your Paladin abilities until you atoned (by spell or quest) whereas the penalty for an intentional Evil act was permanent loss of Paladin status.
  • In Third Edition, the penalty for committing an intentional Chaotic act was... technically nothing at all, if the act does not count as a gross violation of the Code of Conduct - excepting that, the only penalty for it was the risk that if you kept it up, you'd slip into Neutral Good (which would make you into an ex-Paladin). The penalty for committing an intentional Evil act was becoming an ex-Paladin, no alignment-change necessary.
  • Elder Evils, a book from the 3.5 edition of Dungeons & Dragons, features a canonical example of a Lawful Stupid alignment in the form of Obilgatum VII, an extraplanar robot who wants to free the sentient Weapon of Mass Destruction/Eldritch Abomination Pandorym. Is it because Obligatum is a Omnicidal Maniac? No, it's actually because the dumbasses wizards who called the thing to the material plane in the first place were somewhat deceptive. Obligatum is a kolyarut, one subbranch of a clockwork race called the Inevitables, whose sole function of existence is to keep the multiverse running according to law. His specific division enforces major contracts. The wizards in question made quite a major contract with Pandorym, then broke it by imprisoning it for umpteen aeons and preventing it from completing its own end of killing all gods, or even returning from whence it came.
  • All Inevitables cleave very close to this trope actually. There's even one Inevitable that will kill you for living too long, should you do so by unnatural or extreme means (such as becoming a lich or sacrificing many other lives for your own protection).
  • Further hammering it home, the reason Obligatum has the numeral for "seven" as part of its name? It's the seventh itineration of the Obligatum kolyarut—six Inevitables before it have been created for the express purpose of freeing Pandorym. Even though four of those were directly destroyed by agents of the gods (two were destroyed by adventuring parties who crossed swords with Obligatum for different reasons), Obligatum just keeps getting resurrected, and it's implied that even if the party wins, yet another Obligatum will be made to try and free Pandorym. If that's not Lawful Stupid, what is?
  • A lot of Celestial beings fall under this trope. They are considered the opposite of demons from the hells. Demons are flat-out evil and selfish, merely doing things for their own gain, even if it means leaving a mountain of corpses behind them. Celestials on the other hand, are usually so Lawful Stupid that they can be just as destructive. In fact it can be difficult to differentiate their self-proclaimed "Lawful Good" from "Chaotic Evil" at times. Even worse is that players in the middle of these conflicts tend to fall towards evil just protecting themselves from said beings.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has a few examples of this.
    • Many Chapters of Imperial Space Marines suffer from this. Some of them decry any form of stealth as cowardice; others refuse to retreat even when strategically or tactically viable out of a sense of martial pride; and others still refuse to field psykers, work alongside aliens, or even ally with anyone else at all because of deeply-held suspicions and prejudices. The Space Marines' holy book, the Codex Astartes, actually discourages this sort of behavior and contains all sorts of useful and varied tactical advice; however, adhering too closely to the Codex Astartes can cause a Chapter to enter Lawful Stupid territory from the other direction.
      • The Ultramarines are probably the number one victim of Accentuate the Negative because of this. The Codex Astartes was not considered a document of holy significance in Guilliman's time. In fact, the Emperor specifically tried to promote atheism throughout the Imperium; what's more, Guilliman in fact discouraged this treatment, saying that CA is flawed and is just a book of advice on how to wage war as Astartes. Marneus Calgar came to the conclusion, upon reflection, that he was being Lawful Stupid and that Guilliman never intended for the Codex Astartes to be this way. So, in conclusion, in the grim darkness of the far future there's always room for Character Development.
        • They at least have a good reason, in that as the most prominent descendants of Guilliman they are poster boys for the book, whether they want it or not. Thus how much others heed the advice of their Primarch even as "good general guidelines" directly depends on how much the Ultramarines adhere to it and succeed.
      • At least until it was retconned in the fifth edition Space Marine Codex.
    • The Monodominant faction of the Inquisition mix it with Gung-Holier Than Thou and are, as a group, fanatically devoted to the letter of Imperial law and dogma, to the point that they are considered xenophobic and reactionary even by the xenophobic and reactionary standards of the Imperium. Monodominants fervently believe that only genetically pure and religiously faithful humans deserve to exist, and that everything else - aliens, daemons, heretics, malcontents, traitors, and mutants, up to and sometimes including the psykers that the Imperium needs in order to continue functioning - needs to be killed with fire. Other Inquisitors tend to consider the Monodominants bombastic, closed-minded, and self-defeating, and note that their pogroms and witch hunts tend to bury more answers than they uncover (and, less importantly, tend to kill a lot of innocent people in the process). The Monodominants usually respond by loudly accusing their detractors of heresy and attempting to kill them (with fire).
    • Another great example of Lawful Stupid space marines comes from the later Dawn of War Expansion Packs. In Dark Crusade the Space Marine Blood Ravens and the Redshirt Army Imperial Guard both have orders from their superiors to claim the planet resulting in two armies fighting "for the Emperor" against each other. The Guard fighting for their homeworld, the marines willing to obliterate them to be on the safe side regarding heresy and mutants. Soulstorm tops it by also adding the Church Militant Adepta Sororitas.
    • Dawn of War 2: Chaos Rising gives us a unique example of a Lawful Stupid Space Marine inside the Blood Ravens Chapter: Honour Guard Captain Apollo Diomedes. Although he is pure, he is singularly bent on obeying Chapter Master Kyras (who is corrupted by Chaos). He transmits and defends Kyras' order to stop defending Blood Raven recruiting worlds against the Black Legion incursion. He then goes on to label Gabriel Angelos and the player as 'renegades' of the chapter when they don't stop. (Un)fortunately, his Lawful stupidity does not come without consequences in two of the three possible outcomes for him: the two bad endings have him either (a) die to Heavy Bolter fire from Avitus or (b) become corrupted by Apothecary Gaelan. If the player completes the relevant mission's sidequest and frees Apothecary Gaelan from demonic possession, Apothecary Gaelan lampshades this by saying "[Captain Apollo's] pride blinds him."
    • Gabriel Angelos is not impeccable himself. When the people who have been guarding an Artifact of Doom for centuries tell you that destroying it is not a good idea, you should probably listen to them however rude and unconvincing they are and not smack it with your hammer.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Battle gives us Lord Mazdamundi of the Lizardmen, who has ruled that all species have to go back to within the boundaries set for them 20,000 years ago by a race who disappeared when Chaos first came to the Warhammer world. Part of this involves putting all of the elves back on Ulthuan—high elves, dark elves, and wood elves. The main downside to this? High elves hate dark elves, dark elves hate high elves, and wood elves hate everybody. The culture of the elves would be reduced to burning ruins within a year. Throw in the fact that Elves are manning many of the ex-Lizardmen anti-Chaos wards outside of Ulthuan... yeah, this makes standard Lawful Stupid look clever.
  • Blood Bowl is not immune to this either, it has this in the form of the teams Bright Crusaders and the appropriately-named Heroes of Law, both aiming to set a good example by not breaking any rules of the game in trying to achieve victory. Because of how prominent cheating is in the game and the natures of most teams, they tend to not win very often at all. Blood Bowl is, after all, a game in which even the ones who make the rules cheat, and death is extremely common among it's players, so sticking to the rules is basically suicidal.
  • In Hunter: The Reckoning, several groups of hunters seemed to fall exclusively into the realm of Lawful Stupid (Zeal) or Stupid Good (Mercy).
  • Friend Computer in Paranoia. It at least has the excuse that it's also bugnuts insane.


  • The titular pirates of The Pirates of Penzance are so extraordinarily Lawful Stupid that they're barely even pirates by the time of the play. While they have no problem kidnapping young ladies they feel the need to marry them before any ravishing takes place. They refuse to attack forces weaker than them because it's dishonorable. Not to mention the startling number of "orphans" they run into. In fact, at the end of the play, they stand down from battling with the Major General's men after being ordered to yield in the name of Queen Victoria, and "for all our faults, we love our Queen."
    • Frederick is the embodiment of Lawful Stupid, as the subtitle "The Slave of Duty" indicates. He rejoins the pirates and betrays the Major-General and Mabel to them, just because of a technicality in a contract that was signed on his behalf when he was a small child. Especially when you consider the fact that the contract was arranged by accident in the first place. His hearing-impaired nursemaid was supposed to apprentice him to be a pilot, not a pirate.
  • Inspector Javert, from the musical (and yes, the book as well) Les Misérables, is rapidly approaching the embodiment of Lawful Stupid by story's end. Once a criminal, always a criminal is his mantra. He not only attempts to arrest the highly successful and well-loved mayor of a town (all-around hero Jean Valjean) for the heinous crime of a parole violation years previous, but his attempted method of arrest scares a gravelly sick woman TO DEATH. This is, by the way, the same woman he arrested for hitting a man, despite having just watched the man beat the everloving crap out of her.
    • Then again, this WAS 19th Century France.
    • Also 'just witnessed'? In most (read 'all') productions I've seen, he comes on after Fauntine retaliates, and neither she nor her attacker are visibly wounded. The other prostitutes wouldn't want to scare off a customer, so they would likely back the man, and in any case, it's a basic he-said-she-said situation. Who is he going to believe, in that situation?


Video Games

  • One rather cruel example can crop up if you have the paladin Keldorn in your party in the D&D-based game Baldur's Gate II. If you accept his offer to visit his home, you'll find that his wife has been cheating on him out of loneliness and concern for their children, as Keldorn is always off crusading. The most obvious thing to do is to let him follow the "lawful" path and report his wife's infidelity to the authorities, which results in her permanent incarceration, the execution of her lover, and his two daughters hating him forever. Keldorn himself is more than happy enough to take a "good" alternative that involves talking with the lover (who willingly steps down if Keldorn faces him) and reconciling with his family—although this causes him to leave the party.
    • The game has a traditional example in Anomen, who vies for paladinhood and won't shut up about how far above everything else this places him. Compare:

Anomen: A dank cesspool of base corruption if ever there was one. Why, if not for the Order, the Gods would surely smite man for such sins!
Keldorn: Where men gather, a bustle of chaos ensues. I would save them all, if I could.

  • Keiichiro Wachizuka of the Last Blade series of fighting games. As a member of the Shinsengumi during the Meiji era, he often let his personal morality, a relic of the age of Samurai, get in the way of his better judgment... which wasn't that good to begin with. He's also an Arrogant Kung Fu Guy who seems to think he's never wrong.
  • Cecil of Final Fantasy IV starts the game off this way, slaughtering mages in Mysidia under his king's orders. He spends the rest of the game becoming The Atoner for it, even rebelling against his kingdom.
    • Cecil's more of a Lawful Coward. He clearly isn't fooling himself and it's more that he lacks the courage to disobey orders he knows are wrong in the beginning than it is about merely upholding the law.
  • Beatrix and Steiner from Final Fantasy IX are supposed to be Lawful Good, but instead come off as lawful stupid. Beatrix helps The Empire destroy two cities, and massively damage a third simply because the Queen is an evil nutcase. Steiner wants to return the Rebellious Princess who wants to escape her evil mother, and doesn't seem to notice the whole evil nutcase part. It's only after the Queen attempts to kill her own daughter does Beatrix even think of rebelling, and only after the Queen nearly does so does she actually rebel.
  • Adell from Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories constantly insists on fair fights and keeping promises. This would be all well and good if it wasn't for one teensy weensy little fact: everyone within a 100 mile radius is a Genre Savvy hellspawn willing to milk this for all its worth. Rozalin spends quite a deal of time wondering how this kind of behavior hasn't killed him already. Of course, his attitude actually leads him to achieve heroic victory, so WHO is the Genre Savvy one in the end?
    • To some people, Seraph Lamingtont of Disgaea 1 can come off as Lawful Stupid or Stupid Good. This is all a lie, as Lamington is a grade-A Chessmaster. Archangel Vulcanus, on the other hand, is either bona-fide Lawful Stupid or just flat-out Lawful Evil.
  • Lord Theodore, head of the Knights of Mirsaburg in Romancing Sa Ga: Minstrel Song, is Lawful Stupid to the core. Sure, the corrupt nobility deserves his scorn, but Theodore is utterly convinced that he's the only one who's right, ever. He clings so rigidly to his idea of chivalry that at one point, he jails and plans to execute one of his most loyal knights... because they were slashed in the back. After all, the knights never run away, and even though he was clearly ambushed by monsters, without a witness to vouch for him, Theodore automatically assumes that he broke his vow and should die for cowardice. In fact, when the enemy pulls a Fake King plot, it works well mainly because it seems perfectly in-character for him to declare war on one of his allies just because she disagrees with him.
  • Vhailor, the Animated Armor who can join your party in Planescape: Torment. If he discovers that any members of your party have a chaotic alignment, he will try to kill them. If he discovers that you have ever done anything bad to another person in your (very long) life, he will try to kill you. Toward the end of the game, if you attempt to redeem the fallen angel Trias and Vhailor is with you, Vhailor will kill him, thus releasing a fiend bound to charitable acts until Trias' demise. In his defense, though, Vhailor is a member of the Mercykiller faction, a group of Knights Templar who are basically designed to carry the Lawful Stupid mindset to its logical extreme.
    • If you ask him if HE is just...he comes perilously close to a Logic Bomb. And, you CAN logic bomb him to death.
  • Mass Effect 2 initially sets the asari Justicar Samara up as Lawful Stupid: on the way to recruiting her, the player hears a lot about the Justicar's Code and how it requires Justicars to act in Lawful Stupid fashion, and the police officers in the area are anxious to get her off their planet before her Code compels her to kill someone. When Commander Shepard actually meets Samara, however, she proves to be a subversion, as she's been a Justicar for centuries and is perfectly capable of maneuvering herself and her Code to avoid being forced into stupid behavior. On the other hand, she is very blunt about the body-count she'll accept, acknowledging to Shepard that the Code is a black-and-white set of rules in a grey world. Furthermore the code itself averts this, as there is a clause in it that allows a Justicar to swear allegiance to someone for the duration of that person's quest, and follow their morals. It is deliberately intended for when a Justicar decides it is best to aid a Greater Good cause, without oathbreaking.
    • Paragon Shepard is a big and very refreshing aversion of this trope. S/he respects the politics of the galaxy until they start to get in his/her way. If Udina locks down his/her ship s/he will participate in hijacking it in order to stop the galactic apocalypse among other examples. It's one reason why Paragon Shepard is just as Badass as Renegade Shepard.
    • In the third game, if Samara is alive at the end of the Ardat-Yakshi temple quest she'll decide that her code compels her to kill her last daughter since there is no longer a temple for her to stay in and Ardat-Yakshi (basically asari Vampires that kill with sex) are not permitted to live outside. However, she can't go through with this and will try to kill herself because the Code demands that a Justicar kill herself for failing to live by the Code unless Shepard steps in. In that case however, both Shepard and her daughter Falere will convince her that Falere will remain on her own free will, which she'll accept.
  • Basically, the entire reason the Belmont clan ever had the Vampire Killer to begin with is because way back in Lament of Innocence, their idiot ancestor went tearing off to go storm a vampire's castle with no weapon, because he'd quit the army and didn't feel right taking his sword with him.
    • Not exactly. It's because Leon's weapons were stripped from him after resigning from the knighthood. Reason? The knights and church couldn't be bothered to help him rescue Sarah from a vampire because they apparently find fighting heretics more important. Leon was then all "screw you all, I'll do it myself".
  • Ser Cauthrien, a brave, honourable female knight who is The Dragon to the main (human) antagonist Loghain in Dragon Age. Although she is aware of most of the awful things done by her master, including betraying the King and the Grey Wardens at Ostagar, she keeps trying to justify him because of her misguided sense of loyalty and duty, and will eventually attack the protagonist, who seeks to stop Loghain's plans. She can be talked out of her unwavering loyalty, but more likely you'll have to kill her.
  • The Arishok in Dragon Age II will even cop to it if you call him out.

Hawke: I see a man willing to start a war on principle.
The Arishok: What would the Qunari be without principle? You, I expect.

  • Grand Maestro Mohs from Tales of the Abyss is both Lawful Evil and Lawful Stupid. He wants to start a war and get hundreds of people killed just because the Score says so, conveniently overlooking the fact that the Score is, at best, a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
    • Mayor Teodoro of Yulia City is, too, and apparently most of the Order of Lorelei. For example, after the destruction of a major city, the mayor refuses to believe that a nearby city might be in danger, because only one of them was said to be destroyed in the Score, laws of physics or common sense be damned. He won't even send someone to go look and make sure.
  • Hotaru from Mortal Kombat is fanatical about order. He even joins the Dragon King just because that would bring about more order.
    • What's more, his entire race and home realm are also fanatical about order, leading to constant turmoil over people with different levels of rigidity fighting for power in a totalitarian realm.
  • The guards in The Elder Scrolls series will track you down and attempt to fine or imprison you for any crime, and will attempt to kill if you refuse to comply. In Oblivion they say the same phrase and have the same reaction whether you murder somebody in cold blood or steal a sweetroll.
    • Thankfully averted in Skyrim. If your bounty is low enough, you can easily get away with simply a slap on the wrist for picking up something that happened to be owned by somebody else if you just pay off the relatively small bounty. In some cases they won't even take you with them the keep, and will simply let you go immediately after paying off your bounty and giving them your stolen goods, and they have a lot more forgiving attitude than the guards in Oblivion. Compare the reactions of the guards to paying off your bounty in Oblivion to the corresponding responses in Skyrim, and it is clear the guards in Oblivion want you to rot in a prison cell for a minor theft, while the ones in Skyrim at least commend you for being smart enough to cooperate with them. Also, if your crime is miniscule enough, you can talk them into just letting you go your way with a simple "don't do it again".
  • Aldaris, the resident Obstructive Bureaucrat of StarCraft, epitomizes this trope. As the Zerg were overrunning the Protoss homeworld of Aiur, Aldaris was more concerned about arresting Tassadar (the one person who was capable of killing the cerebrates and Overmind) and executing him for associating with the Dark Templar, rather than about fighting the Zerg invasion.

Web Comics

  • Miko Miyazaki in the webcomic The Order of the Stick is part Lawful Stupid, part Knight Templar, and occasionally parodies both. This strip is a good example of the former. It does have elements of subverting Honor Before Reason, since the whole thing was largely to get the ogres into a compressed area, but it would have been a much better plan if she would have told the others what she was doing.
    • Hinjo, and apparently most of the other paladins of the Sapphire Guard, are aversions, as they act normally, rationally, and without being condescending. They also don't like Miko, and she is sent on away missions so they don't have to deal with her ("often for months at a time"). Hinjo does have his moments of self-righteousness from time to time, but he's mostly a decent, rational and practical man.
    • Although it doesn't apply to Roy, this strip has Elan and Belkar refer to him as such.
    • In this strip, Celia the sylph pretty clearly delineates the difference between Lawful Stupid and Lawful Good.
  • Mentioned in The Wotch: Anne, you have permission to strike before the heroic banter next time.
    • Oddly, Anne's powers are actually chaos-based.
  • From Goblins, but in quite a different flavor, you have Fumbles, who becomes so desperate to "make things right" (after he does something very, very wrong) that he lets his sense of justice completely overthrow his sense of survival. And get it in a headlock. And while Fumbles starts off with the idea that he can do it without involving the rest of his team, the comic is very good about showing that his actions have long-lasting consequences, and affect everyone he cares about, in large part because they also care about him.
    • And also from Goblins, Big Ears the paladin manages to avert this nicely, which is rare for a paladin, as they are usually flanderized into one of these if they don't start out as one. He instead follows closely what a lawful good paladin should be.
    • Which is horribly contrasted by a dwarven paladin who somehow retains all his paladin powers (including immunity to injury by the artifact axe big Ears acquires) basically killing everyone he comes across for no other reason than being 'tainted' by contact with evil and has no problems cutting down children and crippled, blind goblins incapable of harming anyone.
      • Note also that lampshaded as something VERY...VERY wrong.
  • DM of the Rings lampshades this when the players refuse to act in this manner. Possibly a Take That at Aragorn refusing to be Lawful Stupid in the movie and killing the Mouth of Sauron rather than let him continue to demoralize the army and/or the people who complained about him doing so.
  • Steven of Daily Grind reveres with unwavering Lawful Stupidity the by-laws of the secret society that raised him from orphanhood. Even after it turned out that he was the only member who took them seriously and the rest were variously crooks and dupes so that he had to kill off everyone else (as stipulated in the by-laws for this situation) and restart the society from scratch. He's only Lawful when the law in question is the by-laws, however. On the rare occasions where the by-laws do not dictate what to do, he's an almost likable Neutral Good.
  • Agent Ben and Agent Jerry, The Men in Black from The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob.
  • In Freefall, Florence Ambrose and Mr. Kornada are sympathetic and hostile/comedic portrayals of this, respectively:
    • Florence is a Bowman's Wolf, a genetically engineered life form (or "Biological AI") based on the Red Wolf, and so comes with a potent cocktail of genetic programming that can mess with her normally law-abiding, honest, ethical nature and reduce her to just a puppet if she is given a direct order by certain people in positions of authority.
    • In comparison, the human Mr. Kornada is a Corrupt Corporate Executive and a walking stereotype of the "manager as an idiot who doesn't really have the faintest clue what he's doing, but doesn't care as so long as the "rules" are being followed". Florence actually has to trick him into saving his own life because he's so Lawful Stupid that he refuses to let the fact that a hurricane is tearing the building apart around him prevent him from holding a pointless meeting (the only ones attending being himself and two robots who want to throttle him, but who are prevented from doing so by the Aasimov Laws). He's not only offended to hear that Sam won't abandon Florence to die to ensure he gets there on time, he then goes on to fake a heart attack in order to force the robots to hijack Sam's ship to be sure that he gets his way.
      • He has since upgraded to Stupid Evil, starting up a scheme to spread a program that would effectively lobotomize every robot who installs it, which apart from the genocide implications would utterly destroy the newly terraformed planet's infrastructure and economy. He would do this in order to steal their money!

Web Original

  • Stormwolf of the Whateley Universe. He's so busy being 'Lawful Good' that he isn't protecting a group of freshman girls who just managed to avoid being beaten, mutilated, and/or murdered in four separate attempts (one by a mutant ninja assassin) in one night. And he won't let the girls go get payback, either. Even though the girls know who attacked them, and who hired the attackers.

Western Animation

  • Silverbolt in Transformers: Beast Wars is another example of how it's possible to get by with being Lawful Stupid by being stupid lucky (not as an alignment, just "lucky to the point of absurdity"). For instance, he actually helped Blackarachnia open up a tunnel leading to the in-stasis Autobots from the original cartoon.
    • Of course, Blackarachnia descends from the Autobots, so it's not like helping her was dangerous (as she'd eliminate herself if she harmed the in-stasis autobots). Shit hits the fan when Megatron finds the tunnel already dug out for him. Still, Silverbolt is definitely Lawful Stupid.
  • The Gargoyles are usually quite reasonable, but one time, Goliath, faced with a mighty opponent, decided to use the Eye of Odin. The Eye magnified his power to truly awesome levels—but also magnified his nature, that of a protector and guardian, to the point where he was willing to deceive his charges by pretending there was danger when there wasn't, to ensure they stayed somewhere safe rather than moving on, even if they had nothing that could be called a life.
  • In a different sense, Alien X from Ben 10 Alien Force—a being capable of warping time and space, but whose thought pattern has been (and in some ways still is) strangled with debate between two diametrically opposed entities to the point at which the being cannot even move until a decision can be reached. Until Ben came along, they had no tiebreaker. And they're not very good at listening to him.
  • Omi from Xiaolin Showdown is Lawful Stupid in regards to promises. At one point, Omi has to team up with one of the Big Bads to stop a race of unstoppable spiders. They do this by combining two Mac Guffins that work together to give infinite knowledge to find a way to stop them. Before doing so, the Big Bad makes him promise to only look for the way to stop them and specifically not to look for "the way to destroy evil forever". In the end, he mentions he "peeked". In later episodes the main group finds themselves in a desperate situation and begin telling him they want him to use the secret. He holds firm that he cannot because it would go against his honor as a monk even when all 3 of them think it would be better to do it anyway but he still refuses. The end result is as part of the Big Bad's plan, this divides him from his friends and causes him to go against their safer wishes of not listening to the villain. He ends up temporarily locked in an aggressive mood from this and pledges his allegiance to the villain. Once he returns to normal, he stays with the villain because he made that promise (ignoring his friends' cries of "he wasn't himself").
    • It turned out that not using the secret to destroying evil was the best choice in the end, as the Big Bad pulled a Batman Gambit that would've resulted in Omi destroying good forever.
  • Hego from Kim Possible. He hides his identity with glasses and a tie, talks on and on, giving the enemy the chance to attack, and follows the rules of hero/villain interaction to the T, even lecturing the other heroes on the 'proper' way to do things while they were all in danger from the villain. By about halfway through his introductory episode, the heroes completely understand why his little sister turned evil.
    • Even the other brothers find him annoying. Even when he turned evil he still acts like this, much to Electronique's nerves. Hego stayed behind when his brothers are out on vacation. He was so lonely and wished he went, he's beginning to think something is wrong with him.
  • Alder & Dash from Casper Scare School.
  • Hugh Test from Johnny Test.
  • Officer Yates from South Park.
  • The Venture Brothers's Office of Secret Intelligence (or at least Colonel Gathers) has a code of never killing women or children no matter what, even though they're secret agents with a license to kill. (although it's really a good thing)
    • The Guild of Calamitous Intent's byzantine ruleset for "arching" constitutes a subversion; the fact that the rules limit the ability of villains to cause real damage is intended by the Sovereign, who understands that turning dozens of megalomaniacs with lasers loose on the world wouldn't be good for anyone.
  • There was an episode of Dexters Laboratory in which The Blue Falcon (Not that one) brought in Dynomutt for repairs. Dexter instead builds a competent crime fighting robot instead of a comic relief sidekick, that's willing to open fire on innocent people jaywalking or littering.
  • There's an episode of The Batman where Joker decides to do this. He only attacks people breaking laws, and then use Joker gas on them.
  • Zapp Brannigan from Futurama is hypocritically Lawful Stupid, with extra emphasis on his stupid part. On the other hand, you're not supposed to like him much anyway.
  • Bubbles in the "Bubblevicious" episode of The Powerpuff Girls. She managed to make a litterbug hit the ground before the gum wrapper he tossed. She basically rampaged her do-good behavior throughout Townsville and her crusade got her captured by Mojo Jojo. In another episode, the mayor uses a hot-air balloon and a spring-loaded boxing glove to take the law into his own hands. He goes mad with power in less than a minute.
  • Charlie and Charlie from the French cartoon Mummy Nanny make all other dumb cartoon cops look like geniuses by comparison. In the first episode, after losing their patrol car, they commandeer the vehicle of the Obviously Evil bad guys and order the Big Bad to follow the suspects' car. He does exactly what they told him to do, but then they order him to stop and ticket him for speeding, letting their suspects get away.
  • Casey Jones, in the 1987 TMNT animated series.
  • Mr. Herriman from Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends.
  • Darkwarrior Duck from the Darkwing Duck episode, "Time and Punishment" is a Knight Templar who imprisons people for life without trial (on the grounds that no jury will question him) for staying out past curfew.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Back To The Woods", when James Woods steals Peter's identity, he gets Joe to arrest him for it. Woods presents Joe with his fake identification and he buys it, even calling him Peter. Lois hung a huge lampshade on this.
    • And in "Thanksgiving", Joe tires to arrest his son for going AWOL in Iraq.
  • On the Phineas and Ferb episode Quantum Boogaloo, O.W.C.A. can't do anything to fight Doofensmirtz because they all swore an oath to obey him.
  • In the Men In Black series, episode The Worm-Guy Guy Syndrome, Kalifadik enforcers come to Earth to teleport alien fugitives to life imprisonment for any violation, no matter how minor.
  • Maria Hill from Avengers Earths Mightiest Heroes, who commands SHIELD after Nick Fury disappears, is prone to this type of behavior (much like her comics counterpart). While it's understandable that she wants the Avengers to work for SHIELD, she tends to spend more time antagonizing them than actual villains.
  • Numbuh 86 acts like this in spades in the Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation: E.N.D.", believing that every member of Sector V are scheduled to be decommissioned due to computer-issued orders, even though she knew from personal experience that they are not the right age (for example, she and Numbuh 1 have been going to school together since at least Kindergarten). Numbuh 86's incompetence is a big part of her character, sadly...
    • She does this again in "Operation: C.A.K.E.D.-5"; Numbuh 19th Century is finally revived - mostly unharmed - after being frozen in ice cream for almost two centuries, and he's barely on his feet for a minute before Numbuh 86 comes in, taking custody of him because he's technically about two centuries older than the mandatory retirement age. While Numbuh 86 is, in fact, operating within protocol, she doesn't even let Numbuh 19th Century tell them valuable information about a recipe that might help defeat the Delightful Children, info he would lose if decommissioned. Of course, Numbuh 19th Century is as big a jerk as Numbuh 86 and his incompetence may have caused the disaster that froze him (and 500 other Operatives) so it's very hard to tell who to side with here.
  1. Possibly the book "Bound by Iron" but not 100% sure[please verify]