Trope Talk: Pure Of Heart

Trope Talk: Pure Of Heart

Welcome to the new year! Let’s kick off the 2022 Trope Talks by unpacking a surprisingly complicated trope that may or may not be meaningless depending on who you ask and how consistent the writers decided to be that week!

Who’s your favorite pure of heart character and what’s your favorite case of “how the heck is THAT guy pure of heart?!” Drop a comment and discuss!

Scheming Weasel Kevin MacLeod (
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43 Responses

  1. Jonsku 666 says:

    Trolley problem: *Exists*

    Pure of heart character: “Just stop the trolley. Derail it or something!”

  2. Keaton Trains Hard says:

    squeezing in the “hot of bod” joke with Krunk killed me

  3. William Reely says:

    “Purity of heart is more often a metaphysical assessment than a practical one.”

    *Laughs in Kingdom Hearts*

  4. MillyMitsubachi says:

    I absolutely LOVE seeing this trope get played with, just because of all the loopholes it leaves open for abuse. One plot point I really liked was a bit in one of the Kingdom Hearts games: the protagonist is one of those Incorruptible Pure Pureness types but is notable for 1)very specifically NOT being the chosen one in the story; it was meant to be his rival, who actually ends up joining and being corrupted by the villains for a while before getting pulled back from the brink, and 2) his pureness actually makes him a perfect candidate as a meat puppet for the villain because unlike his formerly corrupted friend, he has no natural defenses or coping mechanisms for dealing with dark powers and emotions. The rival ends up being the one to pass the character test and become the “master” after saving the protagonist. Even better being the hero doesn’t resent this at all and celebrates it because he knows how much his friend has gone through to get to this point. It was ridiculously heartwarming.

    • Chicken Nugget says:

      Y’know once you get past all the stupid stuff Kingdom Hearts does genuinely have good writing at times.
      but it does also have that Terranort cutscene in the Keyblade graveyard where everyone except Riku, Goofy, and Donald is now an Idiot, before going into plot spaghetti again.

  5. Hasatanel Belial says:

    YJ Harm: “But it never said anything about needing to be good.”
    TFS Vegeta: “Oh, I am pure of heart. 100% pure BADASS!”

  6. Weirdo says:

    The pure of heart trope really reminds me of the old saying: The path to hell is paved with good intentions.

    • Revolutionary Barret says:

      The One Piece World Government is how that road looks like. A facade that looks like “good intentions” and is built on the corpses of good people.

    • Jason Reed says:

      A really good disection of that saying is in the episode “Forced Perspective” of Andromeda Acendent (S1E15).

      First its opening quote is “Humans say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Why? Do they think their is a shortage of bad ones?”

      And then i have to heavily paraphrase a conversation from just before the climax in context of 1 character wants to assassinate a dictator and the other wants him to fin a better way:
      Trance:”Dylan, you’re trying to control whats going to happen here, but you can’t. The only thing you can control are your own intentions. All the rest is just a roll of the dice.”
      Dylan: “then how do we imporve things? … Because intensions aren’t enough”
      T: “But they’re a start. … You can’t quite control whats going to happen. There are so many different paths, but your intentions can help determine where your going to end up. So if you start with good intentions, you have a better chance of ending up with good.”

      I had to find the script and cut out a couple sentences that muddy the point without full context.

      But basically the point is that you can never accomplish good if you start with bad intentions. So even though the road to hell is paved with good intentions you still have to start with them to have any chance of a good ending. Because bad intentions will surely lead you there.

      I understand the intent of the daying is as a warning that merely having good intentions isn’t enough, and you must actually think things through before acting or you can make things worse. (See the cobra effect and unintended consequences)

    • Sorain1 says:

      @nonoyo bizness Okay, I love the subtle reference to Dante there. Salesmen _are_ basically betraying you if they’re sketchy.

    • nonoyo bizness says:

      @Ethan Gonzalez Pretty sure it’s an old dirt road.

    • nonoyo bizness says:

      “The Road to hell is not paved with good intentions, as is commonly thought, but rather, with frozen door to door salesmen. The younger demons often go ice skating there on weekends. “

  7. Fireblade Entertainment says:

    I really enjoy it when a characters purity is tested against their own self, when they have some VERY evil parts of themself they supresse cause they know its wrong but that spark of goodness at the center of their self shines throught their morally dubious to evil shell.

  8. William Koch says:

    There’s one thing I’m surprised you didn’t bring up here, the fact that in reality it is extremely rare for us to have full knowledge of the consequences of our actions. Nearly everyone makes the decisions they think are for the best. Their priorities of what counts as the best can vary significantly; people can be selfish and think the best is what will benefit them the most, they can be self centered and think of what benefits their loved ones as the best, they can be utterly selfless and there’s a lot of variety within that of every they can value, but people will almost always make significant decisions with the idea of what they think is best as their guide, that doesn’t really change from person to person, what does change is that it is rare to have good information, and impossible to have perfect information on the consequences. Even if you’re informed of potential consequences, they will rarely be accurate. If you’re told that pushing a button will give someone a lethal electric shock, and it doesn’t, does that make the decision to do so any more moral? If you’re told that by pulling this lever you save ten people tied to the tracks, but kill two on the train when it derails, but unbeknownst to you there are actually a hundred people in the train, does that make the decision any worse? Judging from consequences isn’t insignificant, but intent has to matter too, the eternal debate has been over how much each should be weighed, and I honestly believe there is no answer to that question.

    • walrusgumbo says:

      The late seasons of “The Good Place” discuss goodness in the face of your argument in depth. It’s really fascinating stuff.

    • Daniel Lin says:

      Moreso, nothing, even forces of nature might not have full knowledge on a decision’s outcomes. In my opinion, morality discussions are all bottlenecked by the idea of “mistakes” or “accidents”. A spontaneous, unintentional change in event that may not be predicted nor attributed to any responsible cause. Which completely invalidate the agency of whatever topic is discussed, even when precautions are a part of that discussion. The nature of mistakes dictates that the accidental event must be unintentional, by any agent.

    • MrInternetHermit says:

      @Sergio Bocanegra That’s why I said either almost or extremely common instead of always. Those stories do exist, but they are definitely not the majority.

    • Sergio Bocanegra says:

      @MrInternetHermit well plenty of stories have the characters only know half of the context and them actively trying to learn more

    • MrInternetHermit says:

      That’s because in fiction, characters are almost always [or at least very extremely commonly] written with either complete knowledge or no knowledge.

  9. Mini_Squatch says:

    “magical vibe detector” now im imagining a gandalf-esque wizard wielding a staff like a baseball bat, vibe checking would-be-heroes by smacking them upside the head.

  10. Joshua Jarvis says:

    “Something to discuss over something alcoholic and fancy” ah yes, pure of heart and impure of liver.

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