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The Noble Top Enforcer is an Anti-Villain Dragon who is considerably more virtuous than The Big Bad. Why they serve the villain can vary. They could be doing so out of loyalty to him, loyalty to their nation, or they could just be stuck in their situation through other circumstances. Expect this character to not do any of the real bad stuff his boss does or perform a Zeroth Law Rebellion if ordered to do something unpleasant as a way to Take a Third Option.

Generally one of the more dangerous types of The Dragon for two reasons. 1. These dragons are often VERY skilled combatants and/or very intelligent, mitigating their low position on the Sliding Scale of Antagonist Vileness by being very competetent, being at the very least "credible" on the Sliding Scale of Villain Effectiveness. 2. Should the Big Bad do something so vile that it truly pisses them off, the Noble Top Enforcer will be the first one to turn on them, triggering either a Heel Face Turn or an Enemy Mine scenario. Second most likely member of a Five-Bad Band (behind The Dark Chick) to turn on the Big Bad.

Tend to be extremely popular characters because they're highly sympathetic. Having to kill one in a boss fight tends to make the player feel rotten about it. Their deaths are a common Tear Jerker.

Subtrope of The Dragon. Sub type of Anti-Villain. Although the Noble Top Enforcer can be all over the place on the Sliding Scale of Anti-Villains, they commonly trend towards either type I or type IV. Dark Magical Girls that serve as The Dragon tend to be type II. Word play on Noble Demon, which some of them are. Similar to My Master, Right or Wrong, with one critical difference. While My Master, Right or Wrong is purely concerned with loyalty, the Noble Top Enforcer is a comparison of the morality of The Dragon and the Big Bad. The Good Chancellor serves as one if in an evil government. Related to Minion with an F In Evil.

Examples:


Anime and Manga

  • While it's left unclear for a long time if Athena in Appleseed is an Anti-Hero or an Anti-Villain, she is clearly not above using every dirty trick at her disposal to maintain the stability of the city Olympus, even if it means intimidating the parliament to do things her way. Her right hand Nike is much more civil and reserved and deals with problems discretely behind the scenes. To such a degree that she becomes even scarier than her boss.
  • Haku, Zabuza's dragon from Naruto.
  • Most Dark Magical Girls in general.
  • Fate Testarossa in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha before her Heel Face Turn.
  • Desert Punk's Striker
  • Abelia in Now and Then Here and There is SO MUCH of a better person than the outrageously, ridiculously Evil Big Bad Hamdo that eventually she just shoots him after she's had enough.
  • Christopher Armalite in Scrapped Princess. Although his immediate superior is a virtuous Cool Old Lady, his orders ultimately come from the corrupt government.
  • Freed Justine of Fairy Tail to Laxus Dreyar.
  • Bismarck Waldstein is this to Emperor Charles Zi Britannia of the Code Geass fame. Bismarck, being the Knight of One, answers directly to his Majesty and Britannia's foreign policy consists of discriminatory imperialism under his rule. Bismarck himself, though, is shown to be a virtuous and honorable soldier; advocating negotiation as being "more practical" before going to all out war and chastising Suzaku for abandoning his compassion in exchange for vengeance. Tellingly, he pilots a Knightmare Frame called the Galahad, named after the most noble of King Arthur's Round Table.
  • Ashram in Record of Lodoss War. He is completely loyal to Emperor Beld and one of his most capable generals, but after Beld's death he firmly opposes the actions of the other Marmo leaders and works hard to help the people of his country, while still remaining an enemy of the heroes.
  • Folken de Fanel to Emperor Dornkirk in Vision of Escaflowne. He really did want to see less violence in the world, and eventually decided that the Emperor's Plan wasn't really working for him.

Film -- Animation

Film -- Live Action

Literature

  • Damodara in Belisarius Series. Reconstructed Trope by making the dynamic among the leaders of the Malwa Empire into a major and central plot point.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the cold and ruthless Tywin Lannister has his strongest supporter in his brother Kevan, a family man and generally decent guy who supports Tywin unconditionally because he feels that Tywin's harshness is necessary for the good of their family/the realm. In A Dance With Dragons, he's killed by Varys himself and his little birds, Varys fearing that he might undo the trainwreck his niece caused.

Live Action TV

  • In the Doctor Who episode, Planet of the Ood, the baddie of the week's chief scientist was working to free the Ood the whole time.
  • Villamax to Trakeena in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, who becomes pissed when Trakeena goes too far. He dies for it though.
  • Before the events of Stargate SG-1, Teal'c was this to Apophis. Apophis had crossed the Moral Event Horizon well before Teal'c's birth, so his reason for betraying him was more "at last I can".
  • Evil Spock in "Mirror, Mirror". He may be evil, but he's still a Vulcan, and therefore bound to act "logically". This makes him somewhat more honourable than his human crewmates.

Video Games

Web Comics

  • In The Order of the Stick, the Big Bad Xykon is only interested in power. His Dragon, Redcloak, is an Anti-Villain who wants nothing more than a better life for his people.
    • Sort of. Redcloak's goals may be sympathetic, but he is more than willing to do everything Xykon is willing to do if it furthers the Plan. Start of Darkness also points out that Redcloak's devotion to the Plan is now primarilly because it allows him to justify all the goblins who have died in its pursuit, and less because of its potential to help the goblins.

Western Animation

  • During his brief stint as Co-Dragons for Ozai, Zuko was a Noble Top Enforcer, complete with a defection as a result of Ozai going too far.
  • Bruton from Dinosaur.
  • Paige from Tron Uprising who serves Big Bad General Tessler out of gratitude for saving her life but does not condone some of his more extreme actions.

Real Life

  • General Erwin Rommel, Trope Namer for Magnificent Bastard, actually did quite a bit to protect Jews during Nazi reign, not to mention, his units having a much cleaner record than other Nazi units. He was so well respected as a military leader that when his treachery was discovered, he was allowed to commit suicide, rather than be painfully executed.
    • Several Wehrmacht generals had shades of this. General Franz Halder and Field Marshal von Bock in particular. Averted however with most of Hitler's entourage - Goering, Von Ribbentrop, Keitel, Himmler, Ley and Bormann were total scumbags.
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