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"And in the end the lesson was learned,

The Emperor knew you must suffer to be saved,

And he set out to save the world."
Fireaxe, Food for the Gods, "The Lesson Learned"

This character righteously murders and tortures people for their own good. No, not self-righteously. Righteously. After all, no horrors in life could possible compare to eternal damnation in Hell. Yes, he is really willing to go the extra mile to save their souls. Unless they are Always Chaotic Evil, of course: In that case he simply do whatever is in his power to exterminate them, up to and including finding a Final Solution.

If he showed up in Real Life, any reasonable person would consider him a Windmill Crusader or worse. But this is not real life. An in-story audience may or may not know it, but all his actions are completely justified. Word of God says he is not deluded, the threats he is facing are not windmills, and given the circumstances... he is actually doing the right thing.

Mostly an Undead Horse Trope.

Compare Heaven Seeker and The Soulsaver, who do not use so harsh methods, and thus can be good regardless of if the beliefs are justified or not. Also compare Psychopomp. Contrast Windmill Crusader, who might incorrectly believe himself to save souls, and Knight Templar, who may or may not actually save souls but either way isn't justified in his over-zealousness. Compare and contrast Heteronormative Crusader, who depending on the setting might be either a Windmill Crusader or a Soulsaving Crusader.

Please note that this trope depend on the audience being able to see the setting/universe from the outside, and that it thus cannot have any Real Life examples -- subverted or otherwise.

Examples of Soulsaving Crusader include:

Anime and Manga

  • An interpretation of Puella Magi Madoka Magica is that the title character becomes this, effectively killing people before they literally become monsters.

Comic Books


  • In the film The God Who Wasn't There, the Spanish Inquisition is briefly cast in this role. If they really kept all those souls out of hell, then it would be petty to whine about their systematic torture and murder of the people they in fact spared from a much worse fate.


  • The Grail Quest trilogy by Bernard Cornwell has several of these, one of whom is a primary antagonist in the second book.

Live Action TV

  • The Cybermen from Doctor Who fall into this, both classic and new series flavors. They are a particularly grim example, who save humans from disease and prejudice and mental weakness at the cost of robbing them of all emotion.


Tabletop Games

  • Done in Games Workshop's Warhammer and Warhammer 40000 (Recycled in Space), where the humanity must be protected through Inquisition.
    • But then again, in that universe, Chaos Gods were created by passion, and, well, zealotry is a passion...
      • Perhaps the Imperium is going to be destroyed by the birth of the Chaos God of zealotry, and then the Tau will take over...
      • The Tau are Scary Dogmatic Aliens who are made physically ill by the thought of not doing the right thing.
        • What they think is the right thing.
  • In Target Games' Mutant Chronicles, the Inquisition and its methods are a necessary evil to defend humanity from the forces of Darkness.
  • The player can potentially become one of these in Kult -- it's possible to enlighten people in a positive manner, but it's often easier to drive them over the Despair Event Horizon.

Video Games

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