The Evils of Free Will

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"All these people running around willy-nilly, having their own opinions and making up their own minds! It's hideously chaotic and totally unacceptable!"
Dr Mindbender of G.I. Joe's action figure file card quote.
"Thoughtcrime does not entail death. Thoughtcrime IS death."
Winston Smith, writing in his diary in George Orwell's 1984.

There is so much suffering in the world, so much hate, inequality, and ignorance. So much chaos! But what if there were a way to solve these problems? Wouldn't doing so by any means be justified? Well it just so happens there is a bright side to these problems—though daunting, they all have one common cause and it can be "fixed." The cause? Free will.

The solution? Reeducation camps, a police state, censorship, concentration camps for those who resist the previous. The usual. If there's a Mad Scientist or mutant around, Mass Hypnosis and Mind Control are also handy options to turn everyone (that's left) into obedient Gullible Lemmings for the Big Bad to rule. In extreme cases it will include the destruction of individuality and the creation of a Hive Mind.

A subtrope of Utopia Justifies the Means and a quintessential Evil Plan to Take Over the World. Frequently justified by the Well-Intentioned Extremist Visionary Villain (or even Knight Templar) in a Just Between You and Me with the hero as being a small sacrifice. If it means no conflict, a quadruplication of the standard of living, the eradication of inequality, poverty, discrimination, and hate... isn't it worth it?

The typical heroic rejoinder is: "What would be the point? We might enjoy it, but we wouldn't be people anymore."

Of course, the villain will rarely mention why he deserves to be at the top of this new society as the lone person remaining with free will. If he does, expect him to justify it by saying he's the best qualified to decide what's best for everyone else. Regardless, if he succeeds he will create an authoritarian Dystopia or become the Hive Queen (well, King) of this new society.

The fact that there are significant philosphical arguments suggesting that too much free will may not be a good thing, and there are societies that value the group over the individual, are of no consequence to this trope. Post-industrial Western society absolutely values the rights of the individual above all else, thus media will always reflect this as a virtue, and anything different as evil, assuming any advocate must have a villainous motive and lust for power.

If this process merges everyone into one being, see Assimilation Plot. If the villain actually succeeds in creating this world, it becomes a Villain World. See also Thoughtcrime, Dystopian Edict and Nietzsche Wannabe.

Examples of The Evils of Free Will include:

Anime and Manga

  • Ultimately the plan of the British Library in ROD the TV Series. An interesting wrinkle is that the people instigating the plan also planned on being rewritten along with everyone else.
  • In a way, this is also Light Yagami's plan for the world in Death Note. Sure, people can be bad if they really want to... but it's always paid back by death, unrelenting and immediate. Anything that goes against Light's high standards - even being lazy - earns the dissident a heart attack and vilification for standing in the way of justice.
  • This is the singular objective of Gilbert Durandal, the Big Bad of Gundam Seed Destiny. His Destiny Plan involves using genetic determinism to decide the roles of each and every person living in the Earthsphere in order to prevent free will from causing people's differing ideas from causing any more wars. It's also a source of contention over the plot by many in the community, for various reasons.
  • A recent chapter of Naruto revealed that this is the ultimate plan of series Big Bad Uchiha Madara.
    • Well, sort of. He's not actually Madara, but the real Madara had the same plan before he died.
  • The goal of the Claw in Gun X Sword is to overwrite the mind of every human being with his own, so that everyone is the same and there can be no disagreement.
  • In Appleseed, mankind has grown tired of constant warfare and created biodroids to act as mediators, together with an AI to act as an overseer. The main conflict revolves around whether humanity is unfairly being suppressed in the Mary Suetopia, salvageable through the aid of the biodroids or are they the only stain left in an otherwise perfect society.
  • This is the purpose of the Superior Domination system in Toward the Terra. When humans had free will, they rendered Earth uninhabitable through reckless greed; the obvious solution is a computer-run police state In Space. The character arc of the Anti-Villain rests on his complex and fluctuating relationship with this trope.
  • This is basically what Schneizel el Britannia of Code Geass believes, and intends to have any revolting nation nuked by FLEIJA from the nigh-impenetrable floating fortress Damocles.
  • The Anti-Spirals from Gurren Lagann want to wipe out Spiral Energy from the world and destroy the free will, motivation, and emotions from humankind. However, they have a good reason for doing it: overuse of Spiral Energy will result in Spiral Nemesis, which will destroy the universe. It's just that they see terrorism, brainwashing, and scare tactics as the way to prevent it from happening.
    • It's also Fridge Brilliance if you watch the show. Their methods are underhanded and soul crushing because the opposition is powered by determination and bravery. Meeting them head on is with violence is like fighting a fire with gasoline.

Comic Books

  • This is Darkseid's intended use for the Anti-Life Equation.
    • In fact it's the only real use for it. Kirby defined really being alive as the ability to think and choose thus his ultimate bad guy wants the power of Anti-Life.
    • In Final Crisis he actually gets to try it out. And manages to enslave about three billion people on Earth by spreading the Equation through all forms of electronic communication. This comes close to Hive Mind; in his Badass Boast he speaks through his three billion new slaves. When he makes a fist to crush resistance, it is with three billion hands. When he stares into your soul to shatter your hopes, it is with six billion eyes. Now that is the Darkseid Jack Kirby created.
      • Just to drive the point home, those three billion, or half of earth's population he enslaved? He killed the other half.
  • Marvel had the Emperor Doom storyline. It was about Dr. Doom creating a giant Mind Control device using the Purple Man and actually taking over the world with it, without anyone (except Wonder Man) noticing, and turning it into a real utopia. It was interesting, first because there was an argument between the heroes about the rightness of stopping it, and second because Doom answered the "why should I be the one in control" question by literally removing his protective mask in front of the Purple Man and challenging him to try to control him. And it worked.
  • The Dark Judges in Judge Dredd present a particularly dark form of this trope - since all crime is committed by the living, life itself was outlawed in their universe, and now they seek to accomplish the same goal in Dredd's.
  • After killing his master Darth Krayt, Darth Wyyrlok sets into motion his plan for uniting the galaxy under the One Sith. How? By making everyone in the galaxy a Sith.
    • Actually, though, the Sith have Free Will as their number one doctrine, in contrast to the Jedi, who are all about self-denial.
      • The Jedi ideally chose self-denial freely, in service to others. Which is supported by Yoda's words in The Empire Strikes Back about the decision to become a Jedi requiring "the deepest commitment, the most serious mind". Of course the Old Jedi habit of training Jedi from infancy undercuts that, because deep committment and serious mind are qualities of maturity, the mark of an adult, not a child. Make of that what you will.
  • Deadpool went up against an wannabe alien messiah of the Lotus Eater Machine mold.
  • A mild version appears in the Squadron Supreme limited series. As part of their efforts to eliminate crime and war, the Squadron invents a behavior-modification machine and uses it (on a voluntary basis) on convicted criminals.
  • The Brain Drain in Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance promises to unite all of mankind and make all our lives easier by invading our minds for its sinister purposes.


  • Though a paradise with no crime and high living standards, Demolition Man has the ultra-PC San Angeles, where everything that isn't good for you, including the traditional method of sex, is illegal. Simon Phoenix put it best, "You're an evil Mister Rogers."
  • Equilibrium fits this like a Tetragrammaton Cleric's tailored glove.
  • If not played straight, then heavily alluded to in The Matrix series.
  • Serenity has The Alliance, or a least River Tam's interpretation of them, state "We're not telling people what to think. We're just trying to teach them how."
  • B-movie reviewer Scott Foy's review of the pro-Christian drama C Me Dance—in which a teenaged girl is graced with the ability to convert people to Christianity via her touch—points out that the film's heroes apparently believe in this trope, leading to most Unfortunate Implications.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is a horror movie, just one with a great big smile on its face that doesn't realize what it truly is. C ME DANCE is exactly like all those bodysnatching horror movies we've seen where someone gets taken over by an evil presence that can infect and impose its evil into anyone it comes into contact with. Sure, it's the power of Christ this time around but that doesn't make it any less sinister in its affront to the very notion of free will.



  • While the authorities aren't seeking to create an entire world based on this trope, when prison is unable to reform Alex from A Clockwork Orange, he is subjected to conditioning that takes away his ability to commit violent or sexual acts, eventually driving him to a suicide attempt.
  • Oberon from John C. Wright's War of the Dreaming wants to relieve Earth of its evils, chaos, and agonies by applying this trope. Predictably, the heroes tell him to get stuffed.
  • Brave New World. In an inversion from the Demolition Man example, the populace is kept mindless, carefree and obedient by making sex and drugs readily available.
    • Not only are they readily available, but they're also consequence-free. They've engineered a drug who's only negative side effect is a shortened lifespan, and women are taught from a very young age to regularly use contraceptives. The population is also kept Brainwashed via Memetic Mutation and sleep learning.
  • The Goodness Gene.
  • 1984. The ultimate nightmare consummate dystopia, where you (if you're a Party member) are being watched, judged and scrutinized everywhere by Big Brother to the extent that you do not have privacy, and even the concept of free will is being phased out by the gradual introduction of Newspeak, a bastardized version of English where all thoughts that oppose the state are grouped together under the label of "crimethink," or in the common parlance, "thoughtcrime." Those who retain enough individual thought to question the system are strung along to believe they're rebelling against it, only to have their hopes (and their minds) crushed through torture and institutionalized Mind Rape.
  • In We, the name of the disease is imagination. The location of it in the brain has been discovered, and an operation has been devised to cure it.
  • And let's not forget Ayn Rand's Anthem. Very similar to the above We, where numbers and letters have replaced names, and there is no sense of self. The protagonists have never even been taught singular pronouns; it takes two thirds of the book for them to figure it out, to the point that it's an incredible relief when the narrator finally calls himself "I" and his love interest "she" instead of "we" and "they".

"We are one -- alone -- and only, and we love you who are one, alone, and only."

    • It's implied that the man whose execution the narrator witnessed was killed for using the words "I," "me" and "mine".
  • Candle by John Barnes focuses on the conflict between the last man on Earth with free will and the agent sent to bring him in. The agent narrates, so it starts off anti-free will yet oddly sinister ("You get the help you need, but you never know"), then passes through five different Shades of Conflict as more and more background is revealed. The eventual conclusion seems to be that Hive Queens are bad, but Mental Fusion is okay—which is completely contradicted in the sequel.
  • The guiding principle behind the dystopian "Community" in Lois Lowry's The Giver. The elders make everyone's choices for them, including their career and their spouse, because if people were left to their own devices they might make the "wrong" choice. To limit people's choices even further, they go so far as to make the population colorblind.
  • The Big Bad's goal in Snow Crash. What makes this especially odd is that free will isn't the natural state of humankind, but an ancient computer program written in the subconscious universal protolanguage of human thought, by what was effectively a Hive King for the human race, inspiring the Tower of Babel myth.
  • The idea is outlined in a story-within-a-story in The Brothers Karamazov called the Grand Inquisitor, where Christ comes back and is arrested by the Holy Inquisition for giving humanity free will, consequently allowing misery from the ability to sin. The Grand Inquisitor of the title accusing him wants to bring everyone into the church, and to indoctrinate them so fully that sin will no longer be possible, and he considers Christ an opponent as a bringer of freedom. He claims that Christ should have given in to the temptations of Satan in the wilderness, and used his power to make the world paradise again. Christ never says a word, but kisses him on the cheek, at which the Grand Inquisitor recoils, opens the cell door and tells Christ to leave and never return. This was part of the Nietzsche Wannabe Ivan's Hannibal Lecture to Alyosha, his monk brother.
  • In Matched by Ally Condie, the Society decides every aspect of your life based on statistics, what you eat (specific meals are given based on your height and weight), what job you have (based on what you are good at), who you marry, and even when you die (according to the Society, 80 is the best age to die because living to be less than 80 is not a long enough life and living after 80 leads to more age-related diseases).
  • In Freedom, the Major tells a captured Peter Sebeck that people need to be told what to do and that modern civilisation needs management by professionals.
  • One of the entries for Dignity in The Dictionary of Moments is about a situation where, originally, dangerous criminals were fitted with some kind of mind control implant which made them docile and obedient, but it worked so well that increasingly more people were fitted with them until everybody was, 'for the good of society'. Readable here.
  • In the Left Behind book Kingdom Come: The Other Light faction outlines in their If It's True manifesto that by God not allowing "naturals" to live past 100 years of age as unbelievers, then He is against mankind having the right to choose for themselves and thus is considered "evil". This is part of their clarion call to have their teachings be passed down to the next generation of its converts so that the generation that gets to confront God and Jesus Christ at the end of the Millennium will be "assured victory" when Satan is released. Unfortunately for the Other Light, it didn't turn out as they hoped.
  • In Across the Universe, Eldest declares individual thought to be one of the three causes of discord, and uses Government Drug Enforcement to limit it as much as possible.
  • In Chris Barfield's novel Hidden Histories, this is the ultimate goal of Christianity; the breakup of Christianity into so many different sects is just an argument over method, not over the ultimate goal.
  • This is the dark side of several "good" factions in Dragonlance, and the main point of disagreement between them and the neutral factions. (It's been demonstrated that this won't actually work—when the evil goddess Takhisis was banished from the world, the Church of Paladine effectively became evil by persecuting the neutral factions.)
  • "The World" of E. E. "Doc" Smith's Subspace Explorers was set up generations before the time of the story as the perfect serf planet: everyone is born, lives, works, and dies in a caste defined by their life-long work;[1] they have serial 'numbers'[2] instead of personal names; they live in barracks until welded into a breeding pair by dictate of their manager caste;[3] their entire language is trimmed to the barest bone, with no proper names and no words for concepts that they shouldn't think; the Company is their god, its Agents their rulers, and producing its Products their only reason for living; and throughout their lives their every word, breath and heartbeat is monitored by a device around their necks which can deliver a lethal electric shock if the Agents decide they are 'mal'.[4]

Live-Action TV

  • The Jasmine arc from Angel. Jasmine would have made the world a happy, shiny place, at the expense of free will. And her daily meals.
  • In Charmed episode 12 season 7 "Extreme Makeover - World Edition," The Avatar want to create utopia by curbing free will. In the end, in episode 13 season 7, "Charmageddon," the evil side saves the day.
    • Also in Charmed, in season 2 episode 21 "Apocalypse Not" Leo explains why evil loves free will.
  • This has appeared a few times on Doctor Who.
    • A double subversion of this appeared in "Keys of Marinus" where the villains sought to break the rule of the Conscience Machine which enforced morality. The Doctor and his friends agreed that the Conscience Machine had to go anyway.
    • In "The Tomb of the Cybermen", Kaftan and Klieg from the Brotherhood of Logicians use this as the justification for reviving the Cybermen. They hope to use them as their collective Dragon and have the Brotherhood take over Earth.
    • Another Cybermen story "Rise of the Cybermen"/"The Age of Steel" plays with this.
  • The Borg in Star Trek: The Next Generation are amazed people aren't lining up to be assimilated. The Queen touts it as a blessing.
  • Diend's world in Kamen Rider Decade was ruled by an evil organization that had one rule - be extremely nice and accommodating to everybody you meet or you'll get abducted and forcefully brainwashed.
  • In the short-lived 1984 television series, The Tripods, based on John Christopher's science fiction trilogy, a teacher educates his classroom on the dark times before the Tripods came when humanity waged war and disease was rampant. Once the Tripods came and "saved" (enslaved) humanity with silvery caps removing their curiosity and thoughts of rebellion, holidays were held in each village where children past the age of sixteen are forced to be "capped", and become adults.
  • The Nebari from Farscape seem to work this way. Chiana repeatedly complains of the strict rules on her homeworld and gives the harsh treatment of non-conformists as the reason she and her brother ran away when they were young. Her first appearance even shows this, as she is a prisoner being carted back home for not conforming. And, because Moya is a magnet for bad guys, the Nebari do eventually show up and try to "mind cleanse" the crew.
  • The villain of the first season finale of Misfits uses this to justify Brainwashing the local teenagers into rejecting drink, drugs and sex, and turning them into pretty much a Holier Than Thou Cult. Although eventually she snaps and admits it's mostly revenge for being bullied for her beliefs.
  • Used as a Motive Rant by Dick's Evil Twin in 3rd Rock from the Sun.

"That's the problem with this planet. You've wholesale and retail, pink packets and blue packets, Republicans and Democrats and the party that crazy midget started. How they love their choices. Everyone has to have their own point of view. There should be only one point of view. MY point of view. I've got a message for these humans. The buffet line is about to close... forever!"

  • In the 1970's drama Children of the Stones , the Affably Evil Rafael Hendrick tries to make the people of the village of Milbury perfect by removing their ability to make mistakes.



Safe from pain, and truth, and choice, and other poison devils...


"Freedom of choice is what you got, Freedom From Choice is what you want."



  • The LDS Church believes that Lucifer planned to do this. While Jesus offered himself as an atoning sacrifice to allow those who sinned to be resurrected and have a chance of returning to Heavenly Father, Lucifer offered to ensure that everybody would get back to heaven in return for all of the power and glory. He planned to do this by taking away people's free will and prevent them from being able to sin. When his plan was rejected he and his supporters refused to back down and after the War in Heaven, were banished to the outer darkness, where they continue to try and upset the Plan of Salvation.
    • Somewhat ironically, most Satanic sects reverse the roles, with Satan being the advocate of free will and God being the overbearing authority trying to stamp it out.
    • This trope is at least referenced in just about every sect of Christianity. If there was no free will, The Devil would never have rebelled, and Adam would have never eaten the Forbidden Fruit. In fact, there wouldn't be a need for the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
      • On the other hand, the reason that there is free will is the fact that God created it that way.
      • In fact, one interpretation is that, because an all-knowing God would obviously know that the existence of free will would lead to evil, He obviously considered the existence of all evil in the world to be an acceptable alternative to a world without free will.
      • Most of these examples are Newer Than They Think; The Bible itself mentions nothing in regards to free will (as it wasn't a topic largely considered), so all interpretations are largely based on Thomas Aquinas works.
    • Another interpretation is that God created free will so that mankind would have the choice to follow Him or not. He could have not put the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden in the first place, but if He hadn't left that door open, wouldn't Adam and Eve technically have been living in enslavement, even if it was enslavement in paradise?
    • Read the Book of Job, and it gives an interesting view on Satan as a tempter whose sole purpose was to tempt the faithful and then denounce them as a test of faith, and he was given that role by God. It was seriously implied that God was in command of both Good and Evil, thus being beyond such.
      • That of course is just one possible interpretation of that book.

Tabletop Games

  • In Exalted this is the motivation of She Who Lives In Her Name, the Principle of Hierarchy: to eradicate free will and everything else in the world that has no place in her ideal hierarchy. After their defeat and imprisonment, the other Yozis seem to be developing tendencies in this direction as well. The main exceptions are Isidoros, who as an incarnation of strength has to understand self-interest, and the Ebon Dragon, who finds it more satisfying to shaft and corrupt people if they fall of their own will.
  • The Seers of the Throne have strains of this. Their goal is to keep the Sleepers from Awakening if they won't throw their lot in with their divine masters, the Exarchs... whose very goal in ascending was to make sure that magic was theirs and theirs alone. As they realize examination of the Fallen World can lead to revelations of the Supernal, and thus Awakening, they strive to make sure that humans don't question their lot in existence. Popular methods involve encouraging anti-scientific attitudes, encouraging highly dogmatic religious thought, and spreading enough paranoia to keep the Sleepers on their toes.
  • The ultimate goal of Necrons in Warhammer 40,000 is to cut away the connection between the Warp and realspace. While this would prevent the Chaos Gods and the daemons from interacting with the mortal world, it would also prevent interstellar travel and communication, and destroy the souls of all sentient beings, depriving them of their free will and turning them to cattle for the Necrons' C'tan stargods.
    • The Imperium of Man is hardly better. Mental, scientific, and religious stagnation is official government policy, enforced by genocide if - sorry, when - necessary. Thought begets heresy.
  • Bromion, a Lord of Order present in the official Champions setting, wants to destroy all life on earth because it is confusing and messy and most importantly chaotic.

Video Games

  • Megumi Kitaniji from The World Ends With You. His O-Pins brainwash everyone so that there will be no differences. In a strange twist, he has a sympathetic reason for trying to do this, as the Composer has decided to erase Shibuya if it doesn't change. Fortunately for everyone involved, the Composer changes his mind at the last minute and Shibuya is spared.
    • Kitanji is not, however.
  • Sheng-ji Yang of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri strongly believes in achieving this. For the most part, he comes off as a tyrant, but his goals are rooted in legitimate Eastern philosophy, have a distinct Utopia Justifies the Means flavor, and are extremely similar to Transcendence, leading to quite a bit of Alternate Character Interpretation.
  • Both the city of Hallifax and the commune of Glomdoring in Lusternia. Hallifax are Crystal Spires and Togas communists, who attempt to convert their enemies with reasoned debate and advanced super-science. Glomdoring is The Lost Woods and populated by The Fair Folk, who want to seed their corrupted forest through the rest of the known world, and brainwash the remnants of society (or, if that fails, kill them all). Neither tolerates dissent. (Magnagora does not fit here, despite being more overtly evil - they encourage dissent, believing it will make the usurpers stronger than their forebears when they rise up.))
  • This is pretty much God Is Evil's (and by extension the Law alignment's) catch phrase in the Shin Megami Tensei series. His idea of a perfect society is a paradise where people can't do wrong... not won't do wrong... can't.
    • Similarly, this is the very basis of the Reason of Shijima in Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne. Its founder, Hikawa, believes that the world should be subsumed into absolute, perfect, and peaceful stillness, where individuality doesn't exist and all are one with each other and with God. The irony is that he was originally a member of the Cult of Gaea, the Chaos-aligned sect for whom free will is the most important thing.
    • In Devil Survivor, most of the Angels are actually pissed that God is treating the lockdown as humanity's Last Second Chance rather than immediately revoking their free will.
    • In Strange Journey, Zelenin becomes an Unwitting Pawn capable of brainwashing anyone deemed worthy of living in their 'utopic' World of Silence.
  • The Templars in Assassin's Creed have the elimination of free will as their number one goal. Of course, this involves brainwashing the entire human race and establishing a dictatorship with the Templars in control.
    • If you complete The Truth puzzles in Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, it turns out that capitalism was engineered by the Templars to enslave humanity, with television serving as a method of indoctrination and control. However, it turns out that Generation Y is not only becoming immune to its effects, but is beginning to rebel against the subtle control the Templars have instituted with the Free Market and Wall Street.
  • In Tales of Symphonia this is the solution of the Big Bad. In order to prevent the discrimination of Half-Elves everyone will be turned into angels without thoughts or emotions.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, this is the stated goal of the Patriots, according to the Colonel/Rose AI, to the point that they outright tell Raiden he "doesn't deserve" to think for himself.
  • In BioShock (series) 2, this is the Big Bad Sofia Lamb's main belief. As a collectivist, she believes that true good can only come from people destroying their sense of self to work for the benefit of the whole and that individuality (which she sees as a genetic disorder inherent in humanity) is the true root of human evil. This belief goes very deep, actually, and by the end she's ready to kill her own daughter and all of Rapture rather than let them live under the "curse" of selfdom.
  • In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, Cyrus believes that Spirit is the cause of all suffering, so he rejects it himself and tries to destroy it in everyone else. ...By capturing the origin deities of emotion, wisdom, and intellect, and later planning to destroy the entire freaking universe and just start over.
  • Gavin Magnus, the Big Bad of Emilia's campaign in Heroes of Might and Magic IV, blames free will for the destruction of the old world.
  • The Qun in the Dragon Age franchise preaches that the only choice that matters is the choice to excel in your Qun determined role or to die. Those that do not submit to the Qun are "bas"—things—and unworthy of respect. Those that leave it are "Tal'Vashoth" and are considered worse than dead as living insults to the Qun. Despite the implicit lack of free will in this code, the sequel shows many people in Kirkwall willing to convert to the Qun even though the Qunari aren't actively preaching anything. After living in Kirkwall for so long, the order the Qun offers seems very compelling.
    • It should note that the Qun technically doesn't think Free Will is evil as much as it is nonexistent.
    • Neither does the Qun think that Free Will is evil, nor that it is nonexistent. They believe that chaos and selfishness are evil, and that everyone should work together in their struggle to reach a better future without such flaws. They do, however, like any other religion in Thedas, follow the concept of "join us or die (or in their case be made a mindless working drone via poison and whatnot)", atleast in times of war.
    • Technically, the Qun does allow for choice - so long as your choice is within your role. For example, a warrior has no choice be anything but a warrior, but that warrior can choose how to do his job.

Web Comics

  • Schlock Mercenary works with this concept via nigh-omnipotent ship AI Petey. On the one hand, he's running around grabbing up villain groups and conscripting them into positions trying to help out innocents and stop bigger villains (kinda reminiscent of The Stainless Steel Rat). On the other hand, he points out that he wants to preserve free will, and in service to that ideal is refusing to take certain steps that would be more efficient than his current methods. He even talks this over with the strip's resident moralist, Theo Fobius.
  • The Legion from MSF High play with this trope. The Legion war ended specifically because the Legion realized they disagreed with this concept, but seemed to be using it.
  • In Planescape Survival Guide, the original conflict of the creator gods stems from the argument of allowing free will into the "perfect", ordered Multiverse.
  • Played for Laughs in Girl Genius. Klaus should have known what sort of answer he will get from DuPree.

Western Animation

  • Megatron the Predacon came to this conclusion somewhere between the end of Beast Wars and the beginning of Beast Machines.
  • In The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror" story "Time and Punishment", the first alternate timeline Homer arrives in has Ned Flanders ruling the world like this. Those who resist are taken for "Re-Neducation".

Flanders: Now, in case all that smiling didn't cheer you up, there's one thing that never fails: a nice glass of warm milk, a little nap -- and a total frontal lobotomy!

  • Dante's Inferno: An Animated Epic: God's willingness to give all those around him free will is what led to Lucifer fall from heaven and grant him ever-increasing power in hell as most souls on earth damn themselves to everlasting suffering rather than ascend to Heaven.

Dante: How could God allow this?
Virgil: God allowed free will, even for his angels. It was Lucifer who devised such torment.


Real Life

  • 'Social Engineering' can sometimes be seen like this.
  • The example that essentially served as the origin for this trope was Thomas Hobbes' philosophical treatise, Leviathan. In his work, Hobbes argues that humans have a default "state of nature" where they are ruled by their selfish impulses, and are automatically inclined to seek their own betterment over anyone else. Thus, Hobbes' argument is that in order to avoid total destruction and chaos, people must give up their freedom to a leviathan (powerful ruler) who can use his authority to overrule humanity's impulsive tendencies and provide long term security in exchange for some freedoms. Most villains who subscribe to this trope, particularly those of the Well-Intentioned Extremist variety, tend to to present their ideas as something of an extension of Hobbes original argument. They almost always also believe they should be the ruler (or loyally serve someone who thinks this).
  • Very many despots of the utopian variety have put this trope into operation, often on a grand and horrible scale. Stalin, Pol Pot, Chairman Mao, and the leaders of The French Revolution spring readily to mind, but they are really just the tip of the iceberg.
  • This is still an entirely modern phenomenon among people who are perfectly aware of how many times it has failed before but still believe that Utopia Justifies the Means and that you can change human nature. Often they will blame the failure of past attempts on the very people said regime was keenest to wipe out. Common targets of this game of Blame-the-Victim and try again are the Jews, Christians (see above), and minorities. For example, Amnesty International, of all people, have played host to the rantings of men such as the psychologist Nicholas Humphrey who, in a lecture entitled "What Shall We Tell The Children" (which Richard Dawkins has openly and lavishly praised), managed to trample over everything Amnesty stands for:

"Freedom of speech is too precious a freedom to be meddled with..... And since I am sure of this in general, and since I'd expect most of you to be so too, I shall probably shock you when I say it is the purpose of my lecture tonight to argue in one particular area just the opposite. To argue, in short, in favour of censorship against freedom of expression, and to do so in an area of life that has traditionally been regarded as sacrosanct. I am talking about moral and religious education. And especially the education a child receives at home....parents (have) no god-given licence to enculturate their children in whatever ways they personally short, children have the right not to have their minds addled by (religion). And we as a society have a duty to protect them from it. So we should no more allow parents to teach their children to believe, for example, the literal truth of the Bible, or that the planets rule their lives, than we should allow parents to knock their children's teeth out or lock them in a dungeon. That's the negative side of what I want to say. But there will be a positive side as well. If children have a right to be protected from false ideas, they have too a right to be succoured by the truth. And we as a society have a duty to provide it."

    • The comparisons from here on in get worse and worse as he continues to argue that freedom of speech should never ever be compromised....except to suppress ideas he disagrees with. The full speech is one long Author Tract about how we should implement utterly draconian Soviet-style anti-religious policies banning parents from bringing up their children in their own beliefs in favour of forcing them to bring them up in his.

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  1. which also defines the scope of their training, education, entertainment, and social interaction
  2. actually strings of letters
  3. whereupon they pump out new workers as fast as possible
  4. glosses as 'maladjusted', 'malcontent', 'disaster', 'disastrous', 'bad', 'incorrect', 'invalid'...