A specific type of Moral Dissonance
. It occurs when a character is classified as either good or evil based not on all
their actions, but rather, only their actions with respect to the protagonist. Often it won't matter, as the character in question will behave the same way to the protagonist as to everyone else, but what if there's a difference?
Suppose, for example, a character slaughters innocent villagers by the thousand, but then helps save the protagonist's mother. Or suppose a character routinely saves orphans from burning buildings, but uses the resultant fame to woo away the protagonist's Love Interest
. In some works, the acts which make the protagonist happy or sad will be treated as somehow more important than the experiences of all those background characters.
In short, a character is considered (by the other characters, by the story itself, or both) to be a good guy or a bad guy based solely on what they've done for the protagonist, rather than on their entire track record. The protagonist is essentially acting as though, in certain respects, it really is All About Me
, and the narrator might well be agreeing.
This may be a generator of both Designated Heroes
and Designated Villains
, if the audience notices that the character is being judged only by a narrow section of their activities. Villains who supposedly "redeem" themselves in this manner can be Karma Houdinis
, although they don't have to be