Berserk: How Griffith Became Lawful Evil in the ‘Golden Age’ Arc & Beyond

The dark fantasy tale of Berserk still stands as one of the finest manga series ever drawn, standing at the apex of the seinen genre thanks to its masterful combination of incredible artwork, a compelling and thematic story, gory action scenes and heartfelt, surprisingly complex characters. This includes Guts the mercenary and his commander turned enemy, Griffith.

Griffith is one of seinen's most infamous characters, an ambitious and ruthless man who seeks to establish his own kingdom and gain power at any cost. He can be described as a Commander according to the MBTI chart, and according to Dungeons & Dragons' moral alignment system, he is a Lawful Evil character. Griffith lives up to this archetype in all sorts of fascinating (and chilling) ways.

The Basic Tenets Of A Lawful Evil Character

griffith in front of band of the hawk from berserk

"Lawful" and "evil" aren't necessarily a contradiction. The Dungeons & Dragons chart has two axes, with good vs evil on one and lawful vs chaotic on the other, including neutral options for both. A Lawful character is one who acts according to society's laws and their own ironclad code of conduct, whether they use this code to perform good or evil deeds. Evil or not, they decide ahead of time what is right and wrong, then act accordingly. They're not the type to act spontaneously or improvise unless absolutely necessary.

A Lawful Evil character like Griffith in Berserk will certainly commit heinous acts to get what they want -- from torture and murder to exploiting others and acting selfishly -- but they are not completely brutal about it, nor do they act entirely by instinct. These characters will outwardly obey the rules and laws of the land while also working toward their own villainous goals, all within the framework of an orderly society.

These are not bank robbers or barbarians. Lawful Evil characters believe society can benefit everyone -- but only if the strong are rewarded and the weak are crushed. In the eyes of Good characters, these types pervert the natural order to promote villainy and achieve their own selfish ends, such as a crime boss or a corrupt politician. Such a trope may often describe wicked dukes or barons in high fantasy, or a dark wizard who keeps a tight rein on their own criminal empire that is craftily embedded in society.

Griffith As A Lawful Evil Character In Berserk

berserk griffith femto midland king

Griffith first presented himself in Berserk as a Lawful Neutral character early in the "Golden Age" arc, a mercenary army leader who fights for money and little more. Most members of the Band of the Hawk were roughly Lawful Neutral, obeying a code of honor and chivalry while also being loyal only to a generous employer who fills their pockets with gold coins. Beneath this facade, however, Griffith was cautiously Lawful Evil and kept his true nature hidden so he could manipulate and deceive his allies more easily. His Band would have fallen apart if he exposed the true depths of his villainy, so he bade his time and waited for the right moment to act as a Lawful Evil villain.

When Guts left the Band of the Hawk, Griffith's Evil side showed itself when he spontaneously seduced the princess, Charlotte, and got himself imprisoned by the king of Midland. This was one of Griffith's few Chaotic moments, but before long his Lawful side returned and he launched the eclipse massacre to fuel his ascension to godhood. Sacrificing the entire Band of the Hawk to become Femto of the God Hand, he was later reborn near the end of the "Conviction" arc. Then, during the "Falcon of the Millennium Empire" arc, Griffith formed a new, apostle-heavy Band of the Hawk to reunite the war-torn Midland and eject the invading Kushan forces.

Griffith brought law and order to the land and helped protect the people in Berserk, but in exchange he ruled that land with an iron fist, backed up by some of its nastiest monsters. He was trading one tyrant for another, all so he could unite the world into his own kingdom and realize his true ambitions at last. That's what Lawful Evil is all about, and Griffith won't let anyone -- not even his old friend Guts -- get in the way.

The Hashira of the Demon Slayer Corps in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
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