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The Operative: I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin.
Every Dark Messiah and Well-Intentioned Extremist knows that Utopia Justifies the Means... but a few of them know that their own methods for acquiring such a utopia would make it impossible to sustain. Essentially, this trope occurs when a character building a Utopia with questionable methodology realizes (or is aware from the beginning) that they themselves would be unable to exist in the world that they are trying to create.
Depending on the character, this realization/knowledge can lead to an inevitable Heroic Sacrifice at the end, or to Jumping Off the Slippery Slope if not a full Face Heel Turn (the latter two are generally from the realization version). If the character continues to pursue the goal in spite of the fact that they themselves will not benefit from it, they are almost always a hero.
Distinct from Necessarily Evil in that their actions may not be "evil", only contrasting with the ideals that they are attempting to create: they could be perfectly heroic, at least from the perspective of the heroes. Oftentimes The Hero will pursue such a goal even after he becomes aware of this, to improve the world for the next generation/the Protectorate or True Companions/other stock hero motive here.
This trope is more frequent amongst heroes than villains, but a villain with No Place For Me There is completely possible; expect them to be an Anti-Villain, Well-Intentioned Extremist, Dark Messiah, Worthy Opponent, or any combination of the previous. Compare Heel Realization and Necessarily Evil, compare/contrast Utopia Justifies the Means. A Hunter of His Own Kind who isn't hypocritical may take this option too.
Anime & Manga
- Lelouch Lamperouge of Code Geass decides that, in order to bring about lasting world peace, he should take over as The Emperor and focus the hatred of the world on himself before having his best friend, disguised as his alter ego, kill him. It's partly because of this trope and partly because, by this point, he'd already been pushed past the Despair Event Horizon.
- Zechs Marquise and maybe partially his 'friend', Treize Kushrenada, count in Gundam Wing. The former leaves Earth because he is a warrior, and nothing but this, and he has no place in the peaceful world he helped create. The latter is up for interpretation whether it is this trope or redemption for the evil acts he did to achieve his better world.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Roy Mustang wants to overthrow President Fuhrer King Bradley and the military state, knowing fully that he, along with everyone who fought in Ishval, would be tried and likely executed for their unpardonable war crimes. In fact, he wants this to happen, feeling that is the only atonement for what he's done. Relax, it doesn't happen.
- A recurring theme in Batman: Batman's perfect world, one without crime, would have no need for the Caped Crusader.
- Justice League actually went on to show this in the two-parter "A Better World" -- the alternate Earth of the Justice Lords drove their Batman to build a trans-dimensional portal out of boredom, so the Justice Lords could cross over to an Earth that still had crime and help that world too. Well, that, or he was planning to betray the other Lords because he'd grown tired of their Knight Templar ways and wanted to see if another Batman could convince him that what he had been doing was wrong -- Lord Batman was sort of mysterious like that. In either case, he's the only one of the Justice Lords who gets away in the end.
- Similarly, in Infinite Crisis, one of the things that manages to convince Earth-Two Superman not to cooperate with what he believes is Alexander Luthor's plan to restore his "perfect" world is the current Superman's insistence that if he truly was Superman, then it couldn't have been a perfect world -- "A perfect world doesn't need a Superman".
- V from V for Vendetta (at least in the comic book version). One of the prominent themes of the comic was contrasting Evey's pacifism with V's use of violence to work for the greater good. At the end, V pulls a Taking You with Me, knowing that his violent ways would not fit in with the post-totalitarian order. He is replaced by Evey, the new "V", whose efforts are committed to creating things rather than destroying.
- Demongoblin, an enemy of Spider-Man, fits this trope. He and the goblins of his dimension had a vision of their wickedness and the wickedness of others. They've all gone to other dimensions to cleanse them of sin (which means killing most-to-everyone). Each of them will return to the home dimension when he's done cleansing his. Then they'll all kill each other and the winner will commit suicide.
- The Operative from Serenity was both the Trope Namer and the provider of the quote.
- V in V for Vendetta says as much to Evey at the film's climax:
"...the world that I'm a part of and that I helped shape will end tonight, and tomorrow a different world will begin that different people will shape, and this choice belongs to them."
- A common theme in Westerns, where the heroes are often strong, simple, violent men who are fighting in defense of a civilization which has no place for them. Among the more notable examples:
- Tom Doniphon in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
- Harmonica in Once Upon a Time in the West.
- Perhaps most famously of all, Ethan Edwards in The Searchers. At the end of the film the rest of his family are reunited while he stands alone in the doorway, unable to even enter their house, until he finally turns away.
- Older Than Feudalism: In The Bible, Moses could not enter the Promised Land because of his impiety at Meribah. He goes up on a mountain and looks out over the Jordan River into the Promised Land, but never gets to cross over.
- Similarly, King David was not permitted to build God's temple because he was a man of war, despite the fact that these were wars that God basically ordered and were widely viewed as necessary by the Israelites. The story goes that the man to build the temple needed to be a man of peace.
- Although not a villain, Bahzell's father Bahnak in the WarGod series is one of these. He's unique among his race, a largely barbaric people, for enforcing order, building infrastructure, educating his people, and generally trying to bring them up to the point where they can live in the civilized world again. Bahzell ruminates that although Bahnak is doing his best to unite his people and restore peace, he himself is such an ambitious warrior at heart that he could never be happy in the very world he seeks to create for his people.
- Daemon's Matthew Sobol deconstructs this to some extent. Since he is dying anyway, he knows that he won't be around to see the new society he is hoping to create, but is still willing to pay the price of becoming the Complete Monster he believes will be necessary to cause the change. He succeeds but since his death is what started the sequence of events he hoped would change the world, he would never know if it had been worth the price.
- The short story Not Fade Away by Spider Robinson is about a man. He is described as a muscular human being, and viewed as hideous by the narrator, containing such grotesque irregularities as an excess of musculatur, primitive senses, and bilateral symmetry that leaves a blind-side. He's a Warrior, the last of his kind. Humanity grew, bonded, and merged with every other form of life. He and his fellows fought each other, with nothing else to do. They hoped, with the discovery of a Malign Bonding in another galaxy, to have an enemy... but they CURED it. So now he is the last. And the narrator? An enemy. Actually the last of the Healers, healing, by killing (and dying with), the only being left in the universe who needs healing. Each is leaving a universe he no longer has a place in.
- The Elric Saga's eponymous character, Elric of Melnibone, often fights for Law despite his deep connections to Chaos. In the end, he literally makes a better world, destroying his world utterly (though it was already pretty close to destroyed, he and friend Moonglum were apparently the only non-mutated people left) and replacing it with a new world ruled by Law. He is the last survivor of the old world, Moonglum having sacrificed himself to provide energy for making the new world. And there is no place for him in the new world - he's almost immediately killed.
- In Mage: The Awakening, many Banishers hold the opinion that all magic is inherently evil. This means that they hold to the belief that they would need to destroy themselves in order to create a world truly devoid of magic (although there are those who hold out hope that it might be possible for them to be rewarded by being freed of their magic).
- The Guardians of the Veil believe in a Messianic figure who will close the Abyss and save the world who they need to prepare the way for, and that not only will this figure not be a Guardian, but when the time comes the figure will need to judge them for their sins (the implication is that, whether they are forgiven or condemned, the Guardians themselves will cease to be).
- Claudia of Silent Hill 3 is happy to stain her own hands with blood and cause The End of the World as We Know It as long as her idea of "Paradise" can happen, but she's more than aware that she herself is too sinful to enter said Paradise.
- Pravin Lal from Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri has this realisation despite being one of the most heroic characters:
- "Yes, he would kill for peace. And that was the problem."
- In the Baldur's Gate expansion pack Throne of Bhaal, Balthasar is on a mission to kill all of the Bhaalspawn. Since he is one himself, his final plan is to kill himself once all of the others are dead. In fact, he planned to use a ritual suicide to ensure Bhaal could never be resurrected.
- Kreia from Knights of the Old Republic is well aware that destroying the Force will eliminate her along with the endless Jedi versus Sith conflict that periodically burns the galaxy. She's perfectly happy with it, and actually delighted that Exile is able to not only prove her theories, but become strong enough to kill her.
- The very end of The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker has King Hyrule use the Triforce to grant hope to Link and Zelda. He also decides to have Hyrule washed away by the ocean... permanently. After fighting Ganondorf, Zelda tries to convince Hyrule to come with them to a new land, but he refuses, having realized he is just as tied to Hyrule as Ganondorf.
- In Starcraft II, Jim Raynor believes that it's his duty to take down Arcturus Mengsk and the Terran Dominion and it's up to people like Matt Horner to make something better of the world.
- This is actually a crucial thematic and characterization point for the series: Tosh believes that, after they take down Mengsk, another 'Mengsk' will take his place, and the next day another one after that. He is still loyal to Raynor, he and his Specters are just out for revenge against Mengsk. Still, Tosh openly challenges Matt's belief that he can actually create "A better tomorrow". Raynor actually reaches Tosh and Matt with the above declaration, which is the third option to the dilemma, providing a way forward for both the cynical "devils" of the past and the idealistic "free thinkers" of tomorrow.
- At the end of the Resistance campaign in Brink, Chen, the Resistance leader, opts to stay behind on the Ark and give up his seat on the plane the Resistance was using to look for land to someone with "less blood on their hands."
- At the end of the Act Raiser games, humanity no longer needs the Master, and worship of him slowly fades away. His temples are abandoned, his statues crumble, and he is forgotten.
- Used on a small scale, and with a bit of a twist, in the original Fallout game. Your main motivation for everything you've done in the game is to safeguard the Vault you grew up in, first by securing their water-supply, and then by wiping out a major threat to the continued existence of unmutated humanity. However, at the end of the game, as you return to the Vault, you are blocked at the doorstep by the administrator of the place. He outright tells you that you have no place there anymore - you've become too much of an outsider, too much of a warrior, to fit into the peaceful, bottled piece of civilization that Vault represents. How well you take it depends on your choices so far, but the end result is always the same - turning your back on the tiny world you helped save, you wander back out into the dangerous wasteland...
- Othar Tryggvassen, Gentleman Adventurer! of Girl Genius is on a one-man crusade to kill every Spark and end the threat they pose to everyone. However, he's a Spark as well, so he plans to end the crusade with himself.
- "I suppose that in any well-ordered society people like us would be locked up or shot. But then you would have to get people like us to do the locking up and the shooting." — Jim Morris (US Army Special Forces)
- On a species-wide scale, the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement.