FANDOM


WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic
"A good church man is always up in everybody's shit."
The Deacon, The Wire Season 4.

The Conscience describes a character type whose purpose is to act as the hero's (or other characters') conscience and moral touchstone, the person they consult to check that they're doing the right thing. Common when The Hero doesn't trust his own moral judgment.

Unlike The Heart, the role of the Conscience is not necessarily all emotion, and this role is thus available to a wider set of character types. In some settings, this character may be deeply religious and perhaps even a priest or preacher (of whatever religious system the Hero respects). His moral judgment is unlikely to be wrong, and is ignored at great peril.

Compare Morality Chain, where a character is kept on the straight and narrow against what would otherwise be his nature. Often one of the roles of The Consigliere.

Truth in Television, or so one would hope.

Examples of The Conscience include:


Anime and Manga

  • Non-Kira Light, in a stark reversal, serves this function for L.
  • Noi the lizard in The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer serves as an animal mentor and a conscience for Yuuhi. Noi is quite concerned about Yuuhi's desire to see the world destroyed.
  • In Digimon Adventure 02, Wormmon is the conscience to Ken, the Digimon emperor who badly mistreats his loyal companion.
  • Puck from Berserk tries to be this for Guts, calling him out on his less-than-heroic decisions and actions. Guts being Guts, however, he doesn't much care a lot of the time.
  • Riza Hawkeye crosses this with Morality Pet for Roy Mustang in Fullmetal Alchemist, along with being his bodyguard and personal assistant. Part of her explicitly-stated job description is to make sure he achieves his goals only through upright means - and to shoot him if he strays from what they have agreed is the righteous path. Since they are extremely close, she's not keen on the shooting thing (though she'll do it if she must), so when the time comes for her to keep that promise she does her level best to talk him down first.


Film

  • Jiminy Cricket is appointed Pinocchio's conscience in the Walt Disney animation.
  • In the movie Necessary Roughness Scott Bakula's character (Paul Blake) abandons the team. When Jason Bateman's character joins him.

 Paul Blake: You can't just walk away.

Jarvis Edison: You did.

Paul Blake: How did I end up with Jiminy Cricket?

  • In Ever After, Leonardo da Vinci might count as this for Prince Henry. He consults with him on important decisions and talks philosophically, looking to Leonardo to help guide him. And Leonardo's the one to call him out for the way he's acting near the end.

Literature

  • In the original book of Hammers Slammers stories by David Drake, Danny Pritchard ends up as Colonel Hammer's conscience, as Hammer's been too hardened by war to recognize when he's gone over the line.
  • In P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath, heroine Jame, who was raised among the Big Bad's minions, doesn't trust her own judgment as to right or wrong. During the first two books, Marc is the Conscience, her solid moral center; from halfway through book 3, Brier takes over the role, in a much sterner and harder-to-please way. Both of them inspire Jame's moral development.
  • Bunny Manders in E.W. Hornung's 'Raffles' stories. He always ends up helping in the burglaries, but never manages to do anything alone, and often prefers that they fail.
  • Cassie from Animorphs, though the others are not always willing to listen to her, and sometimes her ideas cause serious problems, like when she let Tom escape with the morphing cube to stop Jake from having to kill him.
  • Hermione in Harry Potter.


Live Action TV

  • Shepherd Book from Firefly.
    • Wash too. Quite often even though Book's vocation makes one expect it more.
  • Cordelia in Angel after she received the visions. She made sure Angel kept his focus on 'helping the helpless' rather then vengeance or making money.
  • House MD's Dr. Wilson.
  • Wilson from Home Improvement.
  • Daniel Jackson from Stargate SG-1
  • Eli and Lt. Scott from Stargate Universe might fit, though they are pretty ineffective.
  • Doctor Who According to Donna this is why the Doctor needs human companions, so they can stop him. Needless to say she's right: While traveling alone the Doctor ends up risking the future of human space exploration by saving a woman destined to die in order to inspire those that make it happen. The woman in question ends up committing suicide to save the future in defiance to what the Doctor has become.
  • Annie from Community.
  • Jiminy Cricket/Dr. Hopper from Once Upon a Time


Newspaper Comics

  • Although Hobbes will often accompany Calvin in his mischief, he serves as Calvin's moral compass on a many occasion. (Well, he tries, anyway.)


Video Games

  • Bill McDonagh has been described by the developers as acting as Ryan's conscience in Bioshock. The player arguably has Tenenbaum and Atlas who advise the player, Tenenbaum especially on issues like Little Sisters. Except they are both completely different characters.
  • Carth Onasi and Bastila Shan in Knights of the Old Republic are trying to be this for your Player Character.
    • The Player Character is this to Bastila, if they can convince her to turn back to the light in the end.


Web Comics

  • Digger acts as the newborn Shadowchild's conscience and helps it develop one of its own. This is very difficult since a) it's a sort of demon and b) it has absolutely no reference point for "good" or "bad" and c) they live in a world where things like Carnivore Confusion can be a really big problem.
    • And it looks like recent events have shown Digger did a good job. Of course, she needs a hug, now...
  • Freefall: Florence tries to be Sam's conscience. Very hard and frustrating job, but slowly Sam seems to be changing a bit.
  • Blackwing has appointed himself as V's conscience in Order of the Stick, whispering in his/her ear whenever a moral decision has to be made.
  • Laryk serves as Hawke's preacher and conscience in Fated Feather providing the only moral compass that exists outside of the Protagonist-Centered Morality. Her success was mixed; then, nonexistent.
  • Carrie sometimes takes on this role in Everyday Heroes.


Western Animation

  • In Gargoyles, there is an episode with a golem. The role of one of the characters in that episode is to guide the golem's actions and help it stay in the right.
  • Initially, it was Superman but it soon became The Flash in the DCAU Justice League.
    • To the point where the Cadmus storyline strongly implies that if Flash dies (particularly if he dies at Lex Luthor's hands), Superman will go crazy and kill Lex with his heat vision in a a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. When the moment actually comes where Superman believes that Lex has killed Flash, he comes very close to doing it, but in the end relents and says "I'm not the man who kills Lex Luthor. Right now I wish to God that I was, but I'm not." Luckily, Flash turns out to be alive after all.
  • General Iroh to his nephew Zuko in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  • Mac from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, though some of the other more moral characters fill this role occasionally.
  • Private of The Penguins of Madagascar is primarily The Heart, but assumes this role whenever Skipper and/or the others end up going too far. Though usually holding the moral high ground, he also tends to be rather timid when first voicing his concerns, gradually losing his patience as Hilarity Ensues.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.