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Don't raise your voice here. This is a sacred place. Now, you may not believe it and I may not believe it, but my God it's a useful hypocrisy.
Linton Barwick, on the Mediation Room of the United Nations, In the Loop

Leaders, especially ones for ideologically motivated organizations, are expected to have the ultimate dedication to this cause. Be they a Well-Intentioned Extremist, Knight Templar, or even Dark Messiah, this leader dedicates themselves to a cause and is willing to die for it, and at times suggests that the end justifies the means.

Then there's the Straw Hypocrite. This villain (and it usually is a villain) will exhibit their dastardly plot and expose their "good" cause as a smokescreen to some hidden agenda that the villain has. If this happens, then it may be part of revealing the Evil Plan or the hero discovering it on his own, but often it is to show just how flawed their painted-on ideology is. Any Gullible Lemmings or Black Shirts who worship or follow them will quickly disperse or switch sides.

Unlike a regular Hypocrite, whose behavior fails to square with his or her publicly expressed (and sincerely held) moral standards due to ordinary human weakness, the Straw Hypocrite does not actually believe in their cause in the slightest and merely uses it as a cover to another end. An Author On Board might even use the straw hypocrite to discredit the cause they're championing as nothing more than a boat for the evil to commandeer. In this case, they are a Straw hypocrite in the sense that they are not true believers and sometimes used as a Strawman Political for an author. Unfortunately, by exposing the character as disloyal to their cause, the author fails to properly address the cause itself.

The Straw Hypocrite is not always a tool for an Author Tract, though: well written, a Straw Hypocrite can make a great Magnificent Bastard or a credible and terrifying Complete Monster. Sometimes, his existence will be a used by an author who does NOT want to take sides in an argument; in this case, the ideology, philosophy, religion, or cause the Straw Hypocrite seems to embrace is not in itself "evil" or worthless, and the author may even allow a more idealistic/honest character to take over the political/religious/philosophical organization after the demise of the straw hypocrite to show that they just needed a leader who actually believes what he says. Finally, if the Straw Hypocrite is in an organization that is unquestionably evil (such as the Nazi Party) it can be shown that Even Evil Has Standards or set up a Conspiracy Redemption.

Depending on one's level of cynicism, of course, this may be regarded as Truth in Television.

Compare Straw Traitor. May be used as part of a Debate and Switch. An important leadership position in the Path of Inspiration or Scam Religion. Very common with Knight Templar types, to argue that the high standard they set is impossible (though ordinary Hypocrites are arguably even more common).

Please refrain from adding Real Life or Truth in Television examples in this page, as real people are not crafted for a specific purpose.

Examples of Straw Hypocrite include:


  • In in the second Naruto movie, has the main antagonist Haido. At first glance he seems like a humble man whose main goal is to gather the Gelel stones in order to create a utopia devoid of war. But he's really just a power hungry warlord who wants to rule the world and use the stones to wipe out anyone who gets in his way.
  • In Digimon Frontier :Island of the Lost Digimon. The human and beast digimon are at war with each other, and both sides have a leader of their respective side, who are in fact the same digimon who can slide digivolve into human and beast form. His ultimate plan is to have both sides kill each other so he can collect as many digi-eggs to revive an ancient digimon to conquer the digital world.
  • Charles zi Britannia of Code Geass, on the surface, promotes Social Darwinism. Later on in the series, it is revealed that all of his actions shroud his true, opposite intentions: to create a world without lies and equality via Assimilation Plot.
    • His son Lelouch co-opts the goal of the Japanese resistance of self-liberation against Britannia as a means of revenge against his father and create a gentler world for his sister, Nunnally. Subverted in that he finds that he really wants to liberate the world from Britannia's tyrannical and expansionist policy.




 Maria: How befitting of a holy man such as yourself. How can we possibly lift up the name of Elianto when his own Archbishop is so morally corrupt.

Vaticus: No…don't tell me…you actually think I believe in all that rubbish! This position, Archbishop; this was only a stepping stone on my way to the top. Everything I said, every charity I funded; I didn't mean any of it. I didn't care for any of it. I simply needed the people on my side.



  • Witch Hunt, a TV movie set in the 1950s (a sequel to Cast A Deadly Spell), with the caveat that magic was real and wide spread, had as the orchestrating villain a politician who planned to use a Super Registration Act and later more fascist means to control the "magic problem" for the non-magical. Once he double crosses a magician accomplice, the magician casts a spell that makes him vomit his dark side out, which happily and angrily details his disgust for the non-magical voters being so easily swayed by fear, and how he'd slowly shift his fearmongering to other groups to keep and gain political power. In front of a live campaign speech audience. Both he and his evil vomit twin are arrested.
  • The leaders of Libria in Equilibrium preach that Prozium, an emotion-inhibiting drug, would save humanity from having another World War. They aren't on it, however. The head of the government is revealed to indulge in art and literature that would get regular citizens executed.
  • Ultraviolet had the Evil Surgeon General who hunted all vampires to near extinction with active genocide, be not just a vampire... but the first one! He manipulated public fear and hysteria to rise to power. However, he was too effective; with most of the vampires killed off, he needed something to keep people in-line. So he was working on an anti-human virus that would require constant treatment that only he could provide.


  • Lord Voldemort, of Harry Potter fame, champions the cause of pure-blooded wizards over "Mudbloods" and Muggles. By all appearances, though, he's just a sociopath trying to stave off his own death. And he himself is only a half-blood--his father was a Muggle.
    • He seems to have been genuinely hateful towards those groups, whether it made sense or not. Voldemort being a half-blood was probably a reference to the similar rumours about Hitler being part-Jewish.
      • In the fifth book, Delores Umbridge spent much of her time lecturing everyone about how "the Unforgivable Curses are BAD". Toward the climax, however she threatens to give Harry a dose of the Cruciatus curse to get information. When Hermione lampshades the hypocrisy of this statement her basic response is "I make the rules so I don't have to follow them."
  • In Andrew Vachss' Dead and Gone, the lead villain pretends to be a Nazi/White Supremacist in order to enlist the aid of a White Supremacist group to help him carry out his revenge on the Anti-Hero Burke, who had him sent to prison for being a pedophile. While giving his Big Villain Speech he reveals that he has been manipulating the skinheads and that he really thinks they are all retards for believing in Nazi ideology. He is, of course unaware that Burke is broadcasting this back to his henchmen.
  • Happens in the recent Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Outcast (no, not Jedi Outcast). The leader of the Baran Do underground movement turns out to have a few hidden elevators that can be used to get back up to the surface at any time. But what if there really were a bunch of people who liked living underground? Would Luke and Ben be justified in changing that?
  • In Edmond Hamilton's Star Kings, when the heroes are brought to the villain, he tells the one who brought them about how they will soon crush their oppressive enemies... Blah blah blah. After the guy leaves, he asks the hero "how did you like my little speech?", and at his amazement, explains that he's no idiot, and such speeches are only useful for mindless fanatics. But since that's the main driving force of his conquest... Well, he has no choice.
  • In Dan Simmon's Endymion and The Rise of Endymion, the Catholic church is run by a bunch of Straw Hypocrites, until The Messiah topples them and puts some genuine believers in charge.
  • There's a pages-long speech in The Diamond Age about contrasting Straw Hypocrites with the regular Hypocrites described above (those who sincerely believe in a principle and are just too weak to live up to it.) It's partly Author Tract but entirely justified by the plot, since it's a subtle way for the Chessmaster to let Hackworth know that a: his crime has been found out, and b: he can be forgiven... at a price.
  • In the third season of Stationery Voyagers, one judge gets Oceanoe (and later all the Voyagers) banned from visiting the country of Braldon, simply because they refused to openly endorse sodomy and gay marriage. He brands them a "threat to the cause of tolerance" in this way. Yet, he allows taxpayers to foot the bill for a party he throws for political show "in the name of tolerance" with the very same Crooked Rainbow organization that has proven itself violently (even terroristically) intolerant of the Voyagers existing, let alone disagreeing with the idea of endorsing their lifestyle.
  • Played beautifully in Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn. Sirius makes a colony on Titan, claiming it is completely within their rights, despite the fact Earth is within the same system (there is no clear precedent). Unfortunately for them, they had trouble explaining by what right they removed an Earth colonist from another moon of Saturn, so an interstellar conference ordered them to get out.
  • Radio Free Albemuth's distant, unseen antagonist, president Ferris F. Fremont, uses a Joe McCarthy-esque Communist hunt to distract America from the fact that he is - in fact - a secret member of the Russian Communist party, and is selling U.S.-produced food and goods to the USSR dirt cheap.

Live Action TV

    1. Brother Cavil is posing as a human priest in the human fleet (and in the Caprica resistance), but he's actually a Cylon abusing his position to orchestrate destructive acts.
    2. He's talking to Chief Tyrol to give him counseling and talk him down from his fear that he, like his girlfriend, is a Cylon sleeper agent. Cavil assures him he hasn't seen him in any of their super secret meetings... because Cavil reprogrammed Tyrol to forget his life as one of the five creators of Cavil and the bio-Cylon race.
    3. Among the Cylons, Cavil advocated the destruction of humanity for its sins in enslaving the robotic Centurions, while he did just the same, and memory wiped his creators and put them in the colonies, while lying like a dog to his siblings. The war being a genocidal temper tantrum in an attempt to become the "favorite son."
  • House versus Vogler was lined with this from the start. Vogler wanted to eliminate House's department because it's by far the most expensive one in the hospital, but only treats one patient a week. House catches on to this game very quickly, and spends time exposing Volger for someone who may have noble desires but is still just a businessman looking for a new market to venture into.
    • House's patients sometimes espouse a cause or adopt an attitude to mask a secret, eg. an AIDS sufferer who embraces a life of hedonism to mask guilt over his part in his mother's death, an environmentalist who hides his waning enthusiasm for the cause, and, in a rare example of noble straw hypocrisy, a patient's late father who allowed his son and his black wife to believe he was a racist in order to hide a horrible secret.
  • On Glee Quinn is president of the celibacy club and an extreme Christian. She ends up getting pregnant by cheating on her boyfriend with his best friend.
  • On Justified Boyd is the leader of a White Supremacist group even though he really has nothing against black people. He likes to rob banks and blow things up and his position gives him access to weapons and fanatical accomplices who will not testify against him if caught. After he gets shot and his gang sent to jail, he claims to have found God and starts his own church among the low level criminals and drug addicts of the county. Both the cops and his criminal family believe that he is using this to build another criminal gang. The cops try to figure what his 'master plan' is and his family wants in on the 'action'. In the first season finale we learn that he really believed what he preached and was simply applying the same methods he used as a criminal to try to do some good in the community
  • Ethan Zobelle from Sons of Anarchy is initially presented as a white supremacist who is trying to run the Sons Of Anarchy out of town. His white supremacist right hand man thinks this is because they are selling guns to latino and black groups. However Zobel has no issue with dealing with said gangs - he is seen buying guns from the Mayans, a latino gang. In fact, Zobel is an FBI informant who is trying to kill the gun trade in the town altogether.


  • Jesus He Knows Me by Genesis is about an unscrupulous televangelist:

 I believe in the family with my ever loving wife beside me

but she don't know about my girlfriend or the man I met last night


Won't find me practising what I'm preaching, won't find me making no sacrifice

But I can get you a pocketful of miracles, if you promise to be good, try to be nice

God will take good care of you, just do as I say, don't do as I do



  • In the Superman serial The Clan of the Fiery Cross, the Grand Scorpion is shown, near the end of the serial, to be one of these. In his own words, "Don't tell me you actually believe that 'pure American' hogwash! Riggs, I thought you were smarter than that."

Tabletop Games

  • Either Averted or Subverted, but definitely twisted almost beyond recognition in Genius: The Transgression: The Phenomenologists believe that whatever you believe is true, and from this principle they created a very flexible philosophy. If it's in their interests a Phenomenologist will be an extremely devout Catholic and believe every word of the Christian dogma they preach, then the next day they might be an agnostic Zen Buddhist who thinks Catholicism is mostly nice but wrong. At no time are they actually "lying". They seem to be actually incapable of comprehending why most people find this odd.
    • Why yes, if you have suspected, they are all completely insane.
    • The Directors can be like this but for them it's played straight.


  • In William Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, Angelo stands for chastity and virtue, and therefore, wants to execute Claudio for accidentally getting Juliet (no relation) knocked up. However, Angelo then proceeds to attempt The Scarpia Ultimatum on Claudio's sister, Isabella, who is a nun in training, and it also turns out that he has an ex-girlfriend somewhere.
    • Not necessarily a straw hypocrite: Angelo is pretty distraught to find himself unable to live up to his own ideals, and continues to apply the same rigid standard of morality and justice to his own transgression.
    • Isabella is also an example: she is generally viewed disfavourably by the audience, as she values her chastity more than her brother's life and tells him that he deserves to die for his sin. Then once the Duke of Vienna proposes marriage to her, she does not protest in the least (although this can be interpreted different ways by different directors). There are theories that Measure is an attack specifically on the Catholic Church, which, as you probably know, emphasizes chastity in its clergy.
  • In Moliere's Tartuffe, the title character is one of these. He claims to be a devout Christian, but the play is pretty clear that it's all an act. When he reveals his hypocrisy, there is a stage direction that reads: "Speaking as a villain" (Moliere added that particular stage direction so the Jesuits couldn't claim that he was specifically accusing them of hypocrisy, but even so, lots of devout Christians were outraged at the play.)
  • Caesar in Shaw's Androcles And The Lion admits that the practices of the religion he nominally leads are meaningless.

Video Games

  • Mass Effect has shades of this, both of which come one of the sequel's DL Cs, Lair of the Shadow Broker. It's revealed that the annoying reporter that you have the option to punch in both interviews, despite having anti-alien views, is in a relationship with an asari. The Illusive Man, leader of the fanatically pro-human terrorist group Cerberus, apparently frequently hires alien prostitutes.
    • To be fair, it's not that Cerberus is anti-alien, just pro-human. At least, so the Yeoman Kelly says. Whether this is true in practice may vary.
      • Its a mix of both really some members are just pro-human others are anti-alien.
    • Then on Mass Effect 3 they ally themselves with the Reapers! ...After apparently being subject to Reaper indoctrination. Last this troper checked, being mind controlled didn't qualify as a form of hypocrisy.
    • The reason was they want to find a way to control the Reapers themselves, even if it means getting its members indoctrinated.
  • Team Plasma of Pokémon Black and White have this. They claim that humans are abusing Pokemon by putting them through battles. They not only have Pokemon of their own that they battle with, they also repeatedly kick a Munna in order to make it produce Dream Mist, all the while yelling about how they'll free Pokemon from the abuses of humans. In fact, the team's leader, Ghestis, only wants to "liberate" Pokemon from their trainers so that he will ultimately be the only one with any Pokemon. The only significant member of Team Plasma who actually seems to genuinely believe in the Team's alleged purpose is N, who apparently actually does free his Pokemon between battles, and typically only uses Pokemon found in the wild near each battle location.
    • There's no confirmation that everyone in Team Plasma fits this category, however - some of those who don't free their Pokemon like N may simply be taking a more pragmatic approach, but there's no denying a fair few definitely count.
  • Pokémon Platinum/Diamond/Pearl: Cyrus is the embodiment of this, as he Tells everyone he's going to create a world for Team Galactic, but it's only for himself. And the fact that he claims that emotions is bad, but he throws a hissy fit in the end of Platinum
    • YMMV With Cyrus in reguards to emotions since what he really seems bitter about once being defeated isn't just being defeated, but that he is himself bitter and there is nothing he can do about it.
  • In Grand Theft Auto Vice City, Tommy is tasked in one mission to covertly photograph a fundamentalist politician in the act with a porn star, because said politician is trying to have pornography outlawed (or restricted, at least).
    • In Grand Theft Auto IV; Bryce Dawkins, the fiercely anti-gay and "family values" oriented deputy mayor of Liberty City, cheats on his wife with Niko's Camp Gay war buddy Bernie Crane.
  • Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls: Monaca Towa is proven to be one later in the game. While she initially seems to want a paradise for children, leading a group known as the Warriors of Hope, she truly only wants despair, desiring to turn Komaru Naegi into the new Junko Enoshima.

Western Animation

  • South Park adores this trope.
    • The head of the Church of Scientology privately admits Scientology is just a global scam to get at people's money. Similar accusations have been made against L. Ron Hubbard in real life.
    • Cartman gloms on to Political Correctness Gone Mad in "The Death Camp Of Tolerance," advocates for stem-cell research in "Put That Fetus To Good Use," and becomes The Fundamentalist in "Probably." All for his own selfish purposes.
  • According to Word of God, an Aborted Arc in Moral Orel would have revealed that the Evangelical Christian Miss Censordoll had used voodoo to make Clay shoot Orel.
    • Hell, half the cast of that show.
    • Did Not Do the Research. Most Vodou adherents are also practicing Catholics, seeing the loa and the saints as one in the same, and Bondye and God the Father as the same being. There's a saying in Haiti that the nation is 90% Catholic and 100% Vodou.
      • Actually, Catholicism is only one part of Christianity, and many sects of Christianity believe that only their sect is the "right" sect, and that all other sects will go to Hell for getting it "wrong". [1] So this trope still applies.
        • And the fact that the whole town is very anti-catholic in the first place (to a point where using the necronomicon to rise the dead is veiwed better than reading form a Catholic bible)
    • Even disregarding the voo doo aspect, Censordoll was already a Straw Hypocrite. When Oral campaigned to get eggs boycotted, she went along with it because she felt it would help her image, even though she loved eggs to the point of obsession (and also because she figured she could secretly keep the mayor from ever banning them). When Oral succeeded, she was forced to buy them illegally.
  • The teachers in Danny Phantom, the only reason they gone with Sam's vegetarian food idea is so they can have all the meaty food for themselves.
    • Though it is implied that the teachers didn't even wanted to do Vegan Week in the first place and only did so because Sam just wouldn't leave them alone about it. As Sam herself said, "I finally wore them down."
  • Ted Wassanasong from King of the Hill is a prime example. He possesses great wealth and a large manor, including an Olympic-size pool. When he sees it, Khan has a smaller version of the pool built in his backyard, in an attempt to imitate Ted's success. Yet when Ted finds out, he labels Khan a banana who has lost touch with his Laotian roots, deaf to the fact that he is far more wealthy than Khan ("Sure, I own all these.... things, but they don't own me"). He convinces Khan to give up his material possessions and participate in a local Laotian militia, claiming it is the only way he can be a real Laotian. In reality, Ted only wants the militia so he can make them parade down mainstreet on a "Laotian Pride Week" he's trying to get the city to start. And even then, he only wants the holiday so he, as a Laotian, would gain a sizable boost in social status. Khan eventually wises up on this and calls him out at the end of the episode.
    • In another episode, Ted, in an attempt to improve the social status of Arlen, and his own by association, has the sale and cooking of all trans-fat food banned in the city, claiming it will make the population thinner. Hank and Buck wind up illegally selling the food around town, and Hank is shocked to find Ted is an eager customer. When Hank calls him out on this, noting how the food ban was his idea in the first place, he smugly replies how he, unlike the common masses of Arlen, has the self-control needed to not overindulge and can therefore eat as much as he wants. It later comes to light that all the members of the city counsel side-step the ban they themselves put in place, and Hank is able to repeal it by blackmailing them.
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door the Vespinaccians who's goal is to spread the glory of spinach. But not one of them even like spinach, and their king only did all that just so he doesn't have to eat it.
  • Hayley Smith of American Dad has occasional shades of this, a lot of her liberal views seem to be put on solely to outrage her republican Control Freak father, often when she is made to go fully through with her communities' views and actions, she immediately attempts to bail out.
  1. When they started anyways, only the real die hards believe that if I understand right