Created By: Wulf on September 7, 2010 Last Edited By: Wulf on November 12, 2010

You Could Have Used Your Powers For Good

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Also- You Could Have Used Your Powers for Evil

A sentiment often expressed to the Worthy Opponent. Hero Bob wonders why Alice, with their immense power, chose to do evil rather than good. If the evildoer is a recurring character, rather than a one-shot, this can sometimes lead to a Heel–Face Turn, although as we all know, sometimes Redemption Equals Death.

Of course, the reverse can also occur, with Alice questioning why Bob bothers to protect these weaklings when he could just use his powers to take whatever he wants. If Alice succeeds in convincing him that Evil Feels Good, Bob may become a Fallen Hero.

Compare: Recruiting the Criminal, when a hero brings in a villain to do some less-than heroic work, and Boxed Crook, when a prisoner is forced to use his powers for good.


  • In The Spectacular Spider Man, Spidey asks The Sandman why he chooses to do evil when he could just as easily be a superhero. At the end of the episode, Sandman ends up changing sides and making a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • In SaGa Frontier, after the final battle with Metal Black, Alkaiser says to the defeated villain that he could have used his powers for good.
Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • September 2, 2010
    Get Smart used this explicitly a time or two, often as part of The Stinger. "If only he would have used his [whatever] for niceness, instead of rottenness."
  • September 2, 2010
    In "The Reign of the Superman," Jerry Siegel's and Joe Shuster's illustrated short story (Science Fiction, January 1933), the depowered villain--an early version of what became the familiar heroic Superman--says at the end:
    I see, now, how wrong I was. If I had worked for the good of humanity, my name would have gone down in history with a blessing--instead of a curse.
  • September 2, 2010
    There was a YKTTW called You Can Put Your Skills To Use for a while. I will try to resurrest it, since it was a sister trope to this one.
  • September 2, 2010
    Compare With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility (or, Comes Great Insanity).
  • September 2, 2010
    See also: Boxed Crook, where the villain is forced to use their powers for "good". Also, Recruiting The Criminal and Win Your Freedom.
  • September 2, 2010
  • September 4, 2010
    Often found in Light Side vs. Dark Side fights in Star Wars, such as in KotOR, when Light Side Revan apologizes to Darth Malak for leading him down the Dark Side path, but reminds that it was Malak who chose to follow that path to the end.
  • September 7, 2010
    Five examples is pretty nice, but I'd like one or two more before launching.
  • October 17, 2010
    What, Star Wars was mentioned already but not Obi-Wan's "You were the Chosen One!" in episode 3?
  • October 18, 2010
    There's a possible variant of this in the Harry Potter series, where Voldemort can't understand why Dumbledore chose to use his powers for good. He considers Dumbledore to be weak and a fool for not 'taking what was his'.
  • October 18, 2010
    Often ties in to Evil Cannot Comprehend Good.
  • October 18, 2010
    The Harry potter example above can also apply to draco, but about harry. His hate for Harry seems rest partly on the fact that he wouldn't befriend him, and essentially go to the dark side, in the first novel.
  • November 11, 2010
    The Doctor: The scope of [The Rani's] imagination is breathtaking.
    Beyus: You sound as though you admire her.
    The Doctor: Not admiration, fascination. And sadness. If only the Rani could have redirected her incredible talents for good.
    --Doctor Who Classic, "Time and the Rani"
  • November 12, 2010
    Evoked in No Heroics:
    She-Force: You should use your powers for good.
    Lightkiller: Yeah, yeah, right. So being able to plunge the world into complete darkness is an ideal power for a good guy, right?