Is anyone else getting tired of "Patriotic" villains who serve evil for dumb reasons?

My country, right or wrong. If right, to be kept right, if wrong, to be set right.

The second part of that phrase tends to be forgotten by some.

You know the type. He loves his country. He loves the people of his country. He loves the ruler of his country. But if serving his country’s ruler ever came at the expense of his country or its people, he’d follow orders. For no adequately explained reason, doing the legal thing is more important to him than doing the right thing. Even if millions of his people have died in wars fought for reasons only the rulers care about, and are still dying around him, even if his country’s ruler has outright said he aims to summon Not Satan and bring about eternal night and destroy the world. Even if you’re a protagonist with a huge army that could easily kill the final boss, and he could join you and help set his country right, maybe even take over afterwards…

Your army probably even already has somebody from the Evil Army Of Evil had all his crimes forgiven and was recruited mid-war! Maybe two, or three somebodies from that evil army! Why would they have nothing to say about an enemy general who would rather “die honourably” for team evil than risk death trying to oppose it? Why would they have anything positive to say about it?

It’s like the author wants a tragic scene where “war is bad” and you’re forced to kill someone “nice” on the enemy team so you feel bad, there might even be sad music playing, but if your only choices are to die at the hands of dictators or serve them or surrender to them or kill them, you must kill dictators, that is your moral responsibility, your obligation. It’s what separates you from the dictators and their pawns and their enablers. An argument could be made that a farmer in Devilsburg shouldn’t be beheaded for being a farmer when it was ruled by devil worshippers, as he had to feed his family one way or another, but can somebody in the Demon Corps of Devilsburg helping them kill babies and conquer other nations to steal the eight Destiny Stones and help Lord Darkhon destroy the universe really claim they’re innocent or “still one of the good people on both sides”? Dictators are nothing but words without order-following enforcers willing to get their hands dirty and die for evil causes. What is an army when most of its forces desert or join the resistance, and those who remain are too afraid to go after the armed friends and families of those who refuse to serve?

If the villain who serves evil because “He’s my king, what am I supposed to do, stop being a Monarchist?” is supposed to be seen as a hypocrite with a bad excuse for putting the whims of the King over the needs of people that should matter more to him than an old tyrant’s feelings, fine, let somebody come right out and say it. But if he’s supposed to be a flawed person doing bad things for flawed reasoning, at least one character should say it to his face so we can see what happens. When a hero goes along with it and says “You’re so noble and honourable, a true gentleman, right up until the end!” and lets him face death with a clear conscience after dying trying to kill humanity’s last hope for a better world, maybe even humanity’s last hope for there to be any world to save, it feels… off.
Somebody on the ground floor of a conflict between nations over water or land or resources can probably tell himself “I’m the hero of my own story” with a straight face. But when that country he’s killing for is cartoonishly evil, and ruled by cartoonishly evil worshippers of cartoonishly evil monsters? I don’t know, man. Feels like a bit of a stretch to pretend he doesn’t bear part of the blame of the nation he chooses to aid in its quest to conquer all, or worse, eliminate all.

Anybody here remember Advance Wars: Days Of Ruin aka Advance Wars: Dark Conflict? That game handled the idea of an evil enemy general better. You know, the old guy. He wasn’t even evil, he was just doing what was right for his country. You were working for the evil general against the good old man, it was great, and that evil general went and betrayed your trust and killed that guy for honourably surrendering with the expectation that his men (those who didn’t die fighting) would be spared and treated humanely. Then you turned on the evil general to protect the team blue people, it was great. Wasn’t the whole red team vs blue team conflict the fault of the evil general or evil doctor behind it all anyway? That worked. No jarring moment of crying over one dead soldier after cutting down hundreds while levelling up and quipping.

This trope CAN work if there are two countries that come into conflict for logical reasons. This trope CAN work if the whole point of the story is that the people on all sides of the conflict are people and the real darkness was the curse of hatred and the cycle of revenge and there is no objectively evil dark cult of doom out to destroy the world. This trope CAN work if the villain working for team evil is supposed to look like more of a coward than anybody who already swapped sides to join the hero. But after seeing so many stories try to recreate this moment without putting in the work to make it make sense, I have to wonder, why? Any named character you cut down in the name of saving the world from an evil cult’s objectively evil world-ending plans isn’t guaranteed more emotion and consideration from the viewer than the fifty-something unnamed grunts he had march to their deaths against you before you got to him and took him out to get the chance to spare any men and women under him.


Nah. On the contrary, I think these kinds of villains are pretty cool.


I think it’s a really realistic and down to earth trope that stands apart from a lot of other cartoon-like villains. A lot of people fight to the end with their country regardless, because well, let’s be honest: suddenly leaving to go fight with the enemy is extremely unlikely to ever happen historically. The enemy will just imprison them for the entirety of the war or make them go work in a camp or something; it’s a natural assumption that the traitor 1.) won’t have any loyalty, 2.) just didn’t want to die, 3.) is not trustworthy (they’re the enemy!). And you usually aren’t going to trust an important soldier from the opposition army. Traitors never got it good anywhere they went, staying loyal to one’s country has always been considered the most noble behavior.




this is literally just The Samurai Trope

It’s the most pragmatic thing for them to do what they do. In reality, traitors have no honour no matter under what circumstances they betrayed their former allies. Even I thought the same as you before but when I match it with reality, it just doesn’t sit well with me.

We think like that because we’re seeing the world from third person’s perspective. We get to know both the villain’s and hero’s story but they don’t get to know each other everytime. Some villains don’t trust the heroes and more importantly they are worried about the most obvious result as stated above.

They think it’s better to die on battlefield than being imprisoned or becoming a traitor to his countrymen. I mean sure Marth wouldn’t have executed or imprisoned Camus because we know he’s da protagonist good and all. But Camus doesn’t know that he IS the protagonist. There’s no guarantee what he will do after the war is finished. You will neither be loved by the country you betrayed nor by your “new allies”. It doesn’t happen everytime that you get to rebuild your country your own way with help of some oh so gracious hero. These heroes mightn’t exist and even if they did, the chances are so little… that it’s not worth taking.

I apologise if that was harsh but that’s just what I think.


Jokes aside, it’s pretty realistic for there to be good-natured people on the other side of a war. But what are you gonna do? Ask every single person to betray their country? See if their backstory holds up?

There’s always going to be good souls on opposing teams. Plus, it’d be incredibly boring if every single enemy in a game was Muahaha evil.


This is such a strange and dare I say intentionally misconstrued reading of one of Fire Emblem’s oldest commonalities.

Yeah this is blatantly false. Giving a character an explanation for their loyalty based on traits such as pride, patriotism, or something else is not a flaw of a game’s story telling. It’s an intentional character flaw that is seen in the real world. People are not logic boxes and neither are stories.

Once again, a blanket statement with no examples and I assure you that there aren’t any. And even then, how is this a bad thing in context to a character who absolutely would take these actions?

And I assume all these characters are just… Supposed to view your stats? Yeah, that definitely isn’t a stretch.

because it often can be a tragic scene. Good people can be compelled to do bad things. People are not logic boxes and neither are stories.


and in the middle of battle Marth said to Camus
“you’re a bitch you know that?”

This isn’t storytelling. There’s something called interpretation and being able… You know, look at the text beyond what it blatantly says?

Characters, even main characters have the right to admire traits about people who have done bad things, to praise their loyalty or their strength, wishing that they were on the right side instead of having to kill them. Characters are not logic boxes and neither are stories.

This entire post shows a blatant disregard for story structure and disrespect to the very concept of good people being lead to do bad things in stories due to their own traits. It shows at least to me that you view stories, again, as a perfect logic box where everything and everyone has to act perfectly logical without any room for a character’s personality to lead them to action. This isn’t how we’ve gotten some of the most widely celebrated pieces of art. Macbeth didn’t become one of the most well recognized and well constructed literary texts in the world due to the main character’s logic. No, Macbeth made very poor choices that lead to his downfall. Just as with Romeo and Juliet, pretty much any story that is widely celebrated has characters who act based on their traits and characteristics instead of any logic that you may think is ‘obvious’.
Most often then not these ‘patriotic villains’ were intentionally written to have a pointless death, one that was easily avoidable. And that creates tragedy, people who should very well be on the same side needing to kill each other for one reason or another, it’s an extremely common plot point because it works so well to create tragic figures, from Camus and Marth in FE1 all the way to Edelgard and Dimitri in Three Houses. Different circumstances create different reactions from different people.


Nah, I love them for reflecting that just because an enemy group is clearly evil, not everyone within it is just as bad. The difference the Camus have from these other “good among the bad” is that instead of being clueless or just dumb, they are true to their oath. Which can look extremely noble and fair if done correctly by the writer.


The best stories are written based on truths. Tropes can be useful too. If everyone wrote their stories based on their personal experiences, you’d be surprised at how many people resonate with that and value your writing.


I think a great example of this trope done right is in Deity Device. I’ve never been short to compliment this hack but allow me to explain why lol


Marius is this trope in Deity Device. The greatness of his character though, to me, is the double downing of this trope. Not only is it his personal loyalty to the church that ends up being his crutch - it’s just that, it’s his crutch. He’s scared of being in love with someone he ‘shouldn’t’ be, he’s scared of letting down his peers, he’s scared of etc. At his center of being a military tough guy is a scared boy who is learning his whole life is a lie and instead of accepting reality he doubles down on it and dies for it.

It’s simple in execution but morally complex and that is the beauty of Deity Device. It’s classic Fire Emblem but with much more nuance and Marius is just one example. Highly recommend it!!


When a hero goes along with it and says “You’re so noble and honourable, a true gentleman, right up until the end!” and lets him face death with a clear conscience after dying trying to kill humanity’s last hope for a better world, maybe even humanity’s last hope for there to be any world to save, it feels… off.

That’s the thing though, it is the end. For as “virtuous” as the loyal knight of the empire is in their service, in the end they reach the logical endpoint of that loyalty: they die for it. You can decry how the death of the knight is framed by the hero as noble and honorable, but it doesn’t change the fact that the knight already got his eternal reward for serving his evil masters. The greater framing is that loyalty, extreme loyalty as to not defect when the country you serve is trying to summon Not-Satan and end the world, is nothing but blood in the water in the end. TheGhostCreator summed up most of my other thoughts extremely succinctly, so I won’t belabor the point here.

One last thing. I like this line from Fire Emblem: Three Houses for its brevity on the topic.

Gilbert: It is the way of knights to follow their master’s orders without argument. Lord Gwendel was a good man.
Dimitri: Now he’s just a corpse. Let’s go. Rodrigue is waiting for us.

EDIT: One other banger line from Warriors: Three Hopes.

Hubert: Yet surely the man was happy to die for his people. He must have felt as though he had fulfilled his set purpose in life.
Edelgard: That notion alone should tell you how warped the world has become. Still, right and wrong are spoils to be handed out by the victor of this war.


There are elements that could have some problematic implications depending on the nation/country/group they remain ultimately loyal to and how it is handled within the narrative but generally speaking it’s a trope much like any other, its in the individual use case that determines its’ efficacy. Some cases are going to feel better justified within their narrative than others, mostly based upon the amount of character development they received but that is no reason to avoid the trope entirely.

Another point I should’ve added is they can also serve the interesting narrative purpose of acting as a foil for other characters that do choose to switch paint colours by comparing and contrasting these two different viewpoints. Like Eagler and Wallace in FE7.

We could’ve got this moment if a certain screenshot LP had continued.


I have an issue with this tought. Someone being part of an army that’s controlled by an evil person, a dictator even, can just as likely be a hostage to the situation, following orders due to fear of being the next “Example”, for their bed in the barracks to suddenly just be… empty and for no one to know where they went or what happened to them after they disobeyed something they believed to be inmoral, fear is one of the strongest motivators for human behaviour.
Situations like this could be used to explore what being part of a nation with compulsory military service looks like when the leadership of said nation shows blatant disregard for the lives, properties or rights of others, even their own people.
More commonly than not these people would be victims, either to indoctrination, or to fear and circunstance.

I would much preffer situations like this to be used for exploring such themes, rather than be completelly ignored or framed in such a black and white fashion.

Edit: After re-reading and participating in this thread, Seeing how unanimous the response has been, i’d like to make it clear, atleast on my side of things, none of this is meant as an attack or a dogpiling against you, just my -hopefully our- thoughts on the issue at hand.


Eldigan is a prime example of someone who questioned his leader’s orders instead of blindly dying for his country.

And we all know how that turned out.

ahaaa love that vid, the designs are weirdly COOOL as well!!

and in the middle of battle Marth said to Camus
“you’re a bitch you know that?”
This isn’t storytelling. There’s something called interpretation and being able… You know, look at the text beyond what it blatantly says?

To slightly push back against a post I mostly agree with, I do think the FE series has an issue with how the lord characters react to the Camus archetype. Very few people in real life, when finding out that a person who fought for a oppressive and evil regime did so out of loyalty, have a newfound respect for the person. Much less find the person heroic because of their loyalty. Any person from history who can come close to be called a Camus tends to be very controversial if not outright hated figure for that very reason.

You are correct that main characters aren’t always the moral center of the story, and can hold toxic or abnormal beliefs that aren’t reflective of what the author thinks is morally right. But Fe lords rarely have their moral compass questioned, and their growth is more about learning to do good things in a more effective way. I don’t think Fe 1 invites the player to critically examine the morality or value judgements of Marth, he’s a traditional fantasy hero who fights an evil empire in a game that only has so many text boxes. And many Fe games uncritically accept the notion that loyalty to a King or Country is a value in it of itself. The less said about how Fe8 treats Selena the better.

Reinhardt in Fe5 is my favorite Camus because there’s no character in his plot who is framed as always morally correct, and you have to take everything said about him in context with the personal biases of the characters saying it. The plot shows you both his best and worst traits, has the people in his life respond to those traits naturally, and it’s left to the player to decide what they think of this complex and human antagonist. He has people who both like him and dislike him for this loyalty, and it’s in a plot where the Lord is consistency shown to be immature in the way he views the people in the conflict. Reinhardt is the trope at it’s best, and I think it’d be wrong to pretend the Camus trope is always at it’s best.


He didn’t die because he questioned it. He died because he questioned too late, and put himself in to a position where he, despite commanding pretty much the entire surviving military might of his nation, was powerless. Eldigan failed where his son succeeded. Eldigan couldn’t even seriously confront his king; to do the right thing, Ares killed the man who was, in every sense, his father.

The issue is…

Reinhardt is the trope at it’s best, and I think it’d be wrong to pretend the Camus trope is always at it’s best.

… that this is 100% true. Eldigan’s a massive failure, eclipsed by his son; just as Quan’s failings are made up for by Leif, and just as while Sigurd was not the right man for his time, Seliph is the right man for his. But you get the sense playing FE4 that Eldigan’s loyalty is actually presented as some great thing, just as FE6 presents Brunnya’s death for quite literally nothing as noble, just as FE8 has Duessel and Cormag setting an example but falls over itself to say Selena is great too. Selena’s loyalty to Vigarde is understandable. It makes sense. It works. But the takeaway, at best, is: ‘what a waste’. She died and sent her men to their deaths for a cause that did not deserve their loyalty, and there is a dissonance between these actions and the way our supposedly right-thinking protagonists treat her (‘how many good people have to die?’ Well, a few dozen more thanks to Selena’s intransigence, so she’s forfeited her place in that as far as I’m concerned). And a lot of the dissonance often comes from that; this is not a personal choice, they are captains and generals, dragging others down with them. Evocative, when the narrative acknowledges and taps into it. I love the way Tauroneo, who otherwise mostly just receives abuse wordlessly from every boss from his recruitment to the end of the game, has to ask Bryce what it’s all for (unrelated, Tauroneo apparently has a boss quote with Ashnard and it’s lightly incredible; why the fuck does Ashnard have The Mechanic?). But at worst… you’re left with the always annoying feeling that the narrative really wants you to not find a character compelling, but to love them when they do not deserve it.


Either/Or Fallacy.

Not every story has to be entirely logical. Not every story with logic comes at the cost of emotion. Not every story with emotion comes at the cost of logic.

When a story tries to make me weep over the deaths of objectively evil servants of evil who go mwahaha right up until the moment they die, the lack of logic in the situation gets in the way of emotional payoffs that were not adequately set up. This setup can work, but it takes a lot of skill. And throwing an objectively evil force out to achieve objectively evil aims like world destruction ruins any hope of moral greyness.

People in my army that betrayed the evil army to join mine should have something to say about this. Characters personally wronged by the evil army should have something to say about the kind of person who’d rather die serving evil than risk his life fighting to stop it. In a franchise obsessed with letting you recruit baddies who often should go straight to jail, it’s weird that some baddies are arbitrarily denied recruitment when others aren’t, no?

To ensure the Chosen One saves the world from the objectively evil cult of evil, you must fight your way through hundreds of foes, and sparing those foes means taking out the enemy’s leader, and if I’m supposed to feel bad for that leader, he should have some good excuses for all of this.

Jonathan Joestar might cry over slain foes whose loyalty to their country’s ruler outweighed any other principles, or maybe he would hate these characters, but it’d be jarring if Joseph or Jotaro wept over that kind of foe. Some writers try to write their Lords like Marth and Jonathan Joestar and some don’t.