Created By: immortalfrieza on April 6, 2013 Last Edited By: immortalfrieza on April 19, 2013

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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Trope
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.

Comics
  • 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.
Film
  • 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.
Theatre
  • 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.
Community Feedback Replies: 18
  • April 6, 2013
    capsaicinfinity
    Is this covered by Nice Job Fixing It Villain?
  • April 6, 2013
    immortalfrieza
    Close, but not quite. Nice Job Fixing It Villain is when the villain unintentionally screws up their own plans, really only involves the hero and the villain themselves rather than the city/country/world/etc. at large, and Nice Job Fixing It Villain doesn't necessarily mean that the villain ended up doing good at all. However, this trope is when the villain does good in the process of completing their plans without a hitch.
  • April 6, 2013
    MrL1193
    So would this essentially be Nice Job Fixing It Villain combined with Gone Horribly Right (or just the villain version of the latter)?
  • April 7, 2013
    immortalfrieza
    Perhaps, it doesn't quite fit either of those 2 really.
  • April 7, 2013
    MetaFour
    Film:
    • 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.
  • April 9, 2013
    immortalfrieza
    Good one, hell, I never noticed this before. This kinda thing is what I had in mind.
  • April 10, 2013
    chabal2
    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.
  • April 12, 2013
    MokonaZero
  • April 12, 2013
    Chabal2
    No, that's more the villain not understanding how to be evil instead of accidentally doing good.
  • April 16, 2013
    immortalfrieza
    Ok everybody. We need a few more examples if this is going to make an actual page.
  • April 17, 2013
    jokerisland
    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.
  • April 17, 2013
    Noaqiyeum
    How is this different from Nice Job Fixing It Villain?
  • April 17, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ Read the second post.
  • April 17, 2013
    immortalfrieza
    @jokerisland That might work as a possible lampshading moment.
  • April 18, 2013
    Arivne
    ^^^^ @jokerisland: Goethe's Faust Part 2 first came out in 1832, so it is well past our Handling Spoilers policy's Statute of Limitations and does not need to be spoilered.
  • April 18, 2013
    FuzzyWulfe
    The Dark Knight example could also be Hoist By His Own Petard if you consider Joker being a plan by the mob. This is likely going to suffer from problems delineating where Nice Job Fixing It Villain ends and this one begins. It's already looking like people are seeing it as The Same But More Specific. Also, don't forget that Tropes Are Flexible.
  • April 18, 2013
    Noaqiyeum
    Yes. I think it makes more sense to expand Nice Job Fixing It Villain.
  • April 19, 2013
    Leaper
    ^^ Devil's advocate: what's wrong with the delineation in post 2?
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