Villain Mistakenly Does Good YKTTW Discussion

Villain Mistakenly Does Good
The villain's evil deeds unintentionally end up doing as much or more good than the bad they do.
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(permanent link) added: 2013-04-06 12:39:52 sponsor: immortalfrieza (last reply: 2013-04-19 10:07:12)

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Have enough villains out to do evil deeds, and somewhere along the line even the most dastardly villain will end up doing some good for the world, possibly as much as the bad. This trope is when in the course of doing their evil, the villain accidentally makes the world a better place. Maybe the good guys burst in and stop the evil plan before it goes into the whole "Kill 'em All" stage, maybe the evil plan has benefits to the country/planet/galaxy/universe that the villain did not forsee, maybe the result of the evil plan's success is that the world/universe takes measures to prevent similar things from happening again, whatever it is, the villain had no idea that what they were doing might actually balance the books between good and evil a little.

This trope ONLY applies if the villain does good without wanting to. If the villain doing good involved taking steps to ensure they will become or stay Villain with Good Publicity, or part of a Gambit of some sort, it is intentional and thus Not This Trope. If the villain's evil deeds end up doing good, but only a much smaller amount of good in comparison to the bad that they do it's also Not This Trope. If the example is the result of Evil vs. Evil, it is also exempt, as it is all but impossible to avoid doing good in such a situation, such examples would be excessive and thus clog up this page.

Compare Anti-Villain, who is a frequent victim of this. If the villain does good because they unintentionally screw up their own plan, that's Nice Job Fixing It, Villain.

  • Lucky Luke: "Nitroglycerine" has Luke escort a train carrying a crate of nitroglycerin to pierce a tunnel in the Rocky Mountains, followed by goons working for the rival railroad. On seeing the train is almost there, they jump aboard and launch it at full speed. The train jumps the tracks and keeps going straight into the tunnel, where it explodes. All seems lost, until a herd of cattle comes through the tunnel, revealing the explosion carved a path right through the mountain, completing the job months ahead of schedule.
  • G.I. Joe: Retaliation Cobra's plan involves tricking the major world leaders into destroying all their nuclear missles, which the U.S.' supply is sacrificed in the bargin, in order to leave them victim to several of Cobra's KillSats in order to threaten them into handing the world over, and of course the Joes stop that part of the plan at the last second. As a result, the world of the G.I. Joes is now all but devoid of nuclear missles, potentially saving millions to billions of lives from the threat of nuclear war.
  • In The Dark Knight, the Joker wreaks havoc on Gotham City (nearly breaking Batman's will, and successfully breaking Harvey Dent's) in the service of a philosophical point about chaos and human nature. The Joker's rampage ends up hurting the mob worse than any of the peacekeepers: he killed several mob leaders as well as the last person who was willing to launder money for them, and he burned all their money. The sequel, The Dark Knight Rises, confirms that the police bounced back and successfully eliminated organized crime in Gotham.
  • Lampshaded in Goethe's Faust I, Mephistopheles says to Faust:
    Part of that Power, not understood,
    Which always wills the Bad, and always works the Good.
In the end, Faust does not go to Hell, so it can be argued Mephistopheles was right.
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