->''"I'm just a bad guy who gets paid to fuck up worse guys."''
-->-- '''Wade Wilson''', ''Film/Deadpool2016''

While EvilVersusEvil may be fun, it carries the risk of DarknessInducedAudienceApathy: people just ''do'' like having someone to cheer for, but if both sides are equally reprehensible, then there's really no point to it.

So that's where this trope kicks in. It basically means that the author is clearly trying to portray one side of the conflict as the better or more sympathetic one, so the audience can root for them. Since both sides are supposed to be villains, this isn't that hard. You just need to give your Lighter Black a little edge on the sympathy meter. The idea is to have the audience say "Yeah, Alice may be evil, but at least she's not half as bad as Bob!"

This can be done in many ways. Give your villain the SympatheticPOV. Have them PetTheDog, be a NobleDemon or invoke EvenEvilHasStandards. Perhaps they're simply a smaller threat to the world. Maybe their goals are, [[FallenHero or used to be]], [[AntiVillain somewhat sympathetic]]. Maybe they have many EvilVirtues. Or, when compared to the opposition, their cause still seems a little more "right" or their character "pure" than that of the enemy. Sometimes, Bob just needs to be stopped at any cost, and Alice happens to have that goal in mind, if only for selfish reasons. Since we want them to win, this may lead to a villainous version of RightMakesMight and PureIsNotGood.

Or maybe the villain is such a MagnificentBastard that it's easier to side with them. Especially if [[OmnicidalManiac their opposition is a threat to]] ''[[EvilVersusOblivion everyone]]''.

If they shoot way over the line, the character in question may end up doing a HeelFaceTurn. This is generally a trait of most Enlightenment fiction that believes RousseauWasRight.

See also BlackAndGrayMorality, ALighterShadeOfGrey, NominalHero, and ShadesOfConflict. An exaggerated form of this trope is EvilVersusOblivion.

Do not confuse this trope with LesserOfTwoEvils, in which case, there still isn't a side to root for. (Those stories usually involve a hero's P.O.V. and he's observing the two villains fighting each other.)



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Most of the villains in ''Manga/BlackButler'' are worse than [[VillainProtagonist Ciel.]]
* ''Manga/DeathNote'': [[EvenEvilHasStandards Even Rem]] [[LampshadeHanging agrees]], while Light Yagami may be a bastard he isn't as bad as [[spoiler:Kyosuke Higuchi]], though that's debatable as Light is genuinely evil and dangerous.
* ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam'''s [[TheBaroness Kycilia Zabi]] is a fascist dictator who holds that WeHaveReserves and once left a group of her own men buried alive in a collapsing mine. That said, she's not quite as awful as her older brother, [[TheEvilPrince Gihren]], a [[TheSociopath psychopath]] who aims to reduce the population of Earth to less than a billion and who murders [[spoiler:[[{{Patricide}} their father]]]] with a WaveMotionGun. This makes it possible, if just, to root for her as the two of them manouvere for position in the Zeon hierarchy.
** ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamZZ'' spoiler: [[spoiler:[[InvokedTrope Invoked]] by [[BigBad Haman Khan]] as she tries to [[EnemyMine convince Judau to ally with her]] against [[TheStarscream Glemmy Toto]]. Haman explains that she's just a conqueror who doesn't believe in the Zabi name she's using as a flag, but Glemmy does, and Glemmy will drown the Earth Sphere in blood because of it. Judau doesn't buy it; as far as he can tell, Haman and Glemmy are exactly the same, and he's not going to pick one above the other.]]
* In the ''Manga/{{Area 88}}'' manga and OVA, Asran's pro-monarchy forces are ''not'' the good guys. The Asran monarchy lives in luxury while Asran struggles with poverty and a poor educational system. Saki is willing to use nuclear weapons in the country's civil war. Many of the mercenaries at Area 88 are amoral or outright [[SociopathicSoldier sociopathic]]. However, members of Asran's monarchy have sympathetic moments, as do many of the mercenaries. To boot, the anti-government forces are depicted as much worse, committing [[ObligatoryWarCrimeScene atrocities against civilians]] and allying with Farina's mafia.
** In the manga, this shifts to {{black and gray morality}} when the pro- and anti-government forces [[EnemyMine both turn on Project 4]], a ruthless arms syndicate.
* ''Anime/DragonBallZ'':
** There's no denying that Nappa is a ruthless villain, but he seems to care for his comrades, as shown when he suggested the Dragon Balls be used to wish their fallen fellow Saiyan, Raditz, back to life; a suggestion Vegeta shoots down in favor of his own desire for immortality.
** Beerus, the God of Destruction and BigBad of ''Anime/DragonBallZBattleOfGods'' stands out amongst the Z-Fighters' RoguesGallery. Most other ''Dragon Ball'' villains, especially Frieza and Cell, are utterly sadistic, depraved monsters who kill and destroy whoever and whenever they want ForTheEvulz. Beerus, on the other hand, only destroys [[PunchClockVillain because it's his job]] (though he is prone to destroying planets for [[DisproportionateRetribution petty reasons]]) and is quite sociable and friendly when off the clock. He'll keep on delaying the clock, too, as long as you keep his stomach full of good food and keep him of the opinion that blowing up your planet will rob him of said food.
** To a certain extent, Cooler to Frieza. They're both ruthless [[GalacticConqueror galactic conquerors]] that like pummeling their opponent, but Cooler's less sadistic and more focused on just finishing off his opponent. Plus [[BenevolentBoss he respects his men]] as opposed to [[BadBoss ruling them through fear]] like Frieza.
** In ''Anime/DragonBallSuper'', Frost from Universe 6 plays a similar role to Frieza. While Frost [[spoiler: may be a crime lord and con-artist who profiteers off war like Frieza used to do]], he isn't a sadist. He is motivated mostly by [[spoiler:money and respect]], which although hardly noble, is a very "human" desire and leads him [[spoiler:to cultivate a VillainWithGoodPublicity in order to get the most benefit out of his crimes and even when found out he keeps his head about himself]], unlike Frieza who gladly slaughters anyone he comes across [[ForTheEvulz for kicks]] and revels in being the most feared being in the universe. It's how Frost achieves it that makes him evil. To his credit, however, he could have easily strong-armed a city into giving him a new base of power once he lost everything and/or tried to wage an universal war using what was left of his empire, but he instead lives on the streets and tries not to harm anyone despite his great power, even hiding from patrolling police officers when he could easily obliterate them with a flick of a wrist. When caught by the assassin [[ConsummateProfessional Hit]] with no chance to escape [[spoiler:(though not realizing Hit came with a different purpose than killing him)]], he choses to [[FaceDeathWithDignity silently accept his fate]] after a brief battle instead of [[RageQuit blowing up the planet]] like Frieza whenever ''he'' is forced against the ropes.
* ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'': Greed is still an antagonist and kind of a jerk, but he's leagues better than his fellow homunculi/siblings/former allies. He treats his underlings well and has their genuine respect and is not especially malicious.
* ''Anime/BlackLagoon'': the protagonists are pirates and smugglers who are quite willing to do all manner of immoral acts if the pay is right. They're still ''much'' better than most of their opponents, who include neo-Nazis, bloodthirsty cartels, and the other inhabitants of [[WretchedHive Roanapor]].
* ''Manga/AkameGaKill'': The Jaegars can be very ruthless, but they are not barbarians. They don't indiscriminately kill the Empire's citizens unless they suspect them to working with LaResistance. Every member at least have their own share PetTheDog moments. This is very stark contrast to Wild Hunt where they are willing to kill the Empire's citizens for any reason ([[ForTheEvulz even for fun]]). In fact, considering the state of [[CorruptPolitician the Empire's government]], the Jaegars come across as the [[NobleTopEnforcer the best possible hope of protection for the Empire's citizens]].

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''ComicBook/{{Wanted}}'', Wesley and his allies are ever so slightly better than their opponents, which makes it possible to root for them. [[ProtagonistCenteredMorality Invoked by the author]], as the story's structure (a corruption of TheHerosJourney) is specifically modelled to make you root for the VillainProtagonist even though he murders, rapes and tortures his way through the issues and is a petty, smug sadist who obviously gets off on the evil acts he commits. In the end the only thing differentiating Wesley from the BigBad Mr. Rictus is that Wesley is evil 6 days a week, whereas Rictus strives to fill all 7 of them with bonafide supervillainy. By the end Wesley has to BreakTheFourthWall to remind the reader that, yes, [[CardCarryingVillain he's still a villain and proud of it]].
* ''Franchise/SpiderMan'': During ComicBook/{{Venom}}'s transformation into an an anti-hero in the nineties, readers were introduced to ComicBook/{{Carnage}}, Venom's [[EvilCounterpart eviler counterpart]].
* In ''ComicBook/XMen'' while ComicBook/{{Magneto}} is often portrayed as a ruthless villain, he wanted to [[WellIntentionedExtremist create a better world for mutantkind free from]] [[FantasticRacism human discrimination and persecution]]. This is a stark contrast to many other X-Men villains such as Sebastian Shaw, William Stryker, and Apocalypse; where these villains have more selfish purposes (and in the case of Stryker, genocide against mutants). And of course there is Magneto's [[EvenEvilHasStandards disgust of the]] ComicBook/RedSkull [[note]]The fact that the Red Skull is a Nazi who participated in the Holocaust while Magneto is a Jewish Holocaust survivor makes Magneto even more sympathetic[[/note]].
** ComicBook/DoctorDoom has some very similar traits. Certainly, he is [[InsufferableGenius a massive egomaniac]] with a GodComplex that could punch holes in walls and rules the nation of Latveria as a despot with armed Doombots on each corner and an enforced CultOfPersonality. At the same time, he keeps his word, provides an excellent quality of life for his citizens (Latveria's health and education infrastructure makes the United States look like a podunk backwater), and seeks to TakeOverTheWorld in order to make life better for everyone (admittedly at the cost of armed Doombots on each corner and an enforced CultOfPersonality). At least once, he's been replaced as Latveria's ruler by someone who turned out to be lacking those positive traits. The Fantastic Four have to deal semi-regularly with people who want to destroy the world for reasons that range from understandable but still kind of harsh (Galactus) to plain dickish and weird (Annihilus). And Doom ''also'' refuses to have anything to do with the Red Skull[[note]]mostly because Doom's mother was Romani[[/note]]. In the {{Cyberpunk}} Marvel 2099 universe, a re-awoken Doom was actually one of the heroes - his takeover of the United States was actually a positive development, with the corporations brought back under control, and he even made a HeroicSacrifice to deal with the Phalanx.
* In ''ComicBook/JohnnyTheHomicidalManiac'', the titular VillainProtagonist has next to no redeeming qualities, but he does have a MoralityPet (that he seldom actually [[PetTheDog pets]], try as he might) and seems to recognize that he's gone horrifically wrong... and when he's up against a [[CosmicHorrorStory universe-consuming]] EldritchAbomination, it's relatively easy to root for him.
** It helps, too, that Johnny is somewhat goofy and likable, mostly due to his CrossesTheLineTwice mannerisms and general [[PsychopathicManChild childish tendencies]], while the Monster Behind the Wall is never fun or wacky at all. Even though Johnny is clearly not forgivable, most of the readers would much rather have him running around.
* ''ComicBook/TheTransformersMoreThanMeetsTheEye:'' Mentioned in-universe. Sentinel Prime was, during his life, a violent, murderous, arrogant fascist who killed the guy before him to get the job. But, as Brainstorm notes, the last thing he did in life was fight the newly emergent [[BigBad Megatron]], so he gets to be remembered as a hero. Not so much with the readers, who're more likely to side with Megs, who at the time was trying to overthrow an oppressive regime with a fondness for [[KickTheDog kicking every dog they could find]].
* Lampshaded in the ''Magazine/{{Mad}}'' parody of Film/TradingPlaces, after the main characters ruin the Duke brothers.
-->"I know those two old guys were ruthless... but compared to these two sharks, they were damn-near lovable!!"
* ''ComicBook/{{Raptors}}'': Drago and Camilla are remorseless predators, but their love for each other and reason for wanting revenge against the other vampires for killing their parents makes them just slightly more sympathetic. Unlike their arch-enemy Don Miguel, they also don't make a habit out of hunting children or orchestrating the wholesale purge of humanity.

[[folder:Fan Fiction]]
* The entity possessing Naruto (implied to be the Kyuubi) in ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12330403/1/Conquering-Eostia Conquering Eostia]]'' wants to rule Eostia, but more so wants to claims the seven Princess-Knights along with Dark Elf Queen Olga and her guard Chloe. On the other hand, he's also fighting against Volt and his Kuroinu Mercenaries who want to turn Eostia into a living hell where all women are considered sex slaves and public property. In the end, the main differences are the (possibly) Kyuubi takes care of his slaves, has no interest in anyone but the nine mentioned, and [[EvenEvilHasStandards actually has a few morals]].

* In the two ''Franchise/AlienVsPredator'' movies, the Predators are this to the Aliens. In the [[Film/AVPAlienVsPredator first movie]], not only does this lead to an EnemyMine situation where the last surviving human character teams up with the last surviving Predator, but it's made abundantly clear that the Predators are ''by far'' the lesser threat, as the Aliens will cause global extinction if they reach civilization (which, as many of noted, [[TrailersAlwaysLie invalidates the famous tagline]] [[BlackAndBlackMorality "Whoever wins... we lose"]]). The [[Film/AliensVsPredatorRequiem second film]] is a bit better about this trope, with the Predator gruesomely killing a fair number of people without an EnemyMine in sight, but to the humans, it remains a significantly smaller problem than the Alien swarm in addition to the many EvilVirtues of [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy its species]].
** A lot of the victims the Predators kill in many of the films and video games are {{Asshole Victim}}s: either gang leaders, thugs, criminals, rapists, or child-abusers (this is evident in ''Film/{{Predator 2}}'' where the Predator was killing a bunch of gang leaders and their henchmen). The Predators follow a strict code of honor and even helped develop some of the greatest civilizations in history (i.e. the Aztec Empire, Ancient Egyptians, and the Khmer Empire). The reason the Predators are considered antagonists is because many of the protagonists in such works are law enforcement officers or military personnel (which the Predators consider to be {{Worthy Opponent}}s since many of them are capable of fighting back).
* In ''Film/FreddyVsJason,'' Jason is often read this way, since at least he's not a children-killing scumbag with pedophilic undertones who stretches out his victims' deaths out of sheer sadism. That and Freddy can go just about anywhere whereas Jason only sticks to his home place. On the flip side, Jason racks up a ''way'' bigger body count than Freddy does (which is actually Freddy's motive for fighting him-- he is killing kids Freddy has targeted), is clearly out of control, and is slaughtering teenagers by the dozen seemingly ForTheEvulz, so... Also, on a metaphysical level, there's the fact Freddy explicitly steals the souls of his victims, whereas Jason just kills people.
* Every character in ''Film/{{Conspiracy}}'' is a Nazi and have enthusiastically engaged in war crimes, so they're all evil. Yet [[AntiVillain Dr. Wilhelm Kritzinger]], while still a proud servant of the Fuehrer who's glad to oppress the Jewish people, is the only one appalled by the concept of complete extermination. This is a HistoricalHeroUpgrade for him-- the movie is about the Wannsee Conference which discussed details of the Holocaust, but the records (admittedly compiled by those in charge of the proposed measures) show that nobody objected to the genocide at the time, not least because it was already well underway-- the point of the conference was not to start the Holocaust, but to make sure it happened efficiently. Kritzinger ''did'' try to resign soon after, but whether and how it was related to the conference is anyone's guess. He was ashamed about the whole thing after the war though.

* The ''Literature/{{Parker}}'' novels by Richard Stark sometimes uses this. Parker, a VillainProtagonist, is an amoral thief. However, he is pragmatic. He would kill to get what he wants, but he would not do it if it was unnecessary because he knows that the police put more effort in hunting murderers than thieves. Some books like ''The Sour Lemon Score'' or ''Deadly Edge'', put him against complete psychos who rape and kill on a whim.
* In the ''[[Franchise/BattleTechExpandedUniverse [=BattleTech=]]]'' novel ''Bred for War'', [[spoiler:the assassin responsible for the death of Melissa Steiner-Davion in an earlier book]] gets this treatment. When a new "revolutionary" government takes over the planet he'd been thinking about going into retirement on, it turns out to be sufficiently nasty that even his disregard for collateral damage in leading LaResistance and his [[spoiler:leaving his local girlfriend to be captured and killed]] as a distraction can't quite quench the admiration for his [[MagnificentBastard magnificent bastardry]]. (It helps that he only reveals his real identity at the end of the subplot -- even to the reader.)
* In-Universe in ''Literature/VampireAcademy'', the Alchemists consider Strigoi, Moroi, and Dhampirs to be all "evil creatures of the night". But they are willing to concede that the latter two are a lighter shade of black. Allowing them to covertly co-operate.
* ''Literature/EzrasGamble'' is about BountyHunter Bossk and StreetUrchin Ezra Bridger fighting a criminal and a corrupt and murderous Imperial officer in cahoots with him. Bossk himself only comes across as evil in other ''Franchise/StarWars'' stories, not in this one. [[spoiler:Until the reward he promised Ezra turns out to be significantly smaller than implied.]]
* ''Literature/TheHungerGames'': While both Coin and Snow are power-hungry villains, what makes Snow a slightly better person than Coin is that if he makes a threat or promises to do something, [[IGaveMyWord he keeps his word on it]]. Coin, on the other hand, is willing to manipulate others and lie to order gain power. [[spoiler: This led Katniss to realize that it was Coin, rather than Snow who was responsible for the bombing of the Capitol's children and the death of her sister, Prim.]]
* Given that ''Literature/TheManInTheHighCastle'' takes place in an AlternateHistory in which [[CrapsackWorld the Nazis and Imperial Japan won]] UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, the novel is rife with this. To name one example, Reinhard Heydrich is the ruthless leader of the SS and it's pretty heavily implied that he's been responsible for several genocidal actions. And yet he's still a lesser evil compared to other factions jockeying for power in the Reich... [[spoiler:[[NukeEm who want to nuke Japan]]]].
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' has plenty of it, given it's set in a CrapsackWorld where [[NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished good people suffer]], [[BlackAndGrayMorality seemingly good people are questionable, and bad people are total bastards]]. The Clegane brothers are both {{Blood Knight}}s, but while Gregor ("The Mountain") is an AxCrazy {{Sociopath|icSoldier}} who rapes and slaughters for pleasure, Sandor ("The Hound") is a ProfessionalKiller [[NobleDemon with some standards]]. Cersei Lannister is [[GodSaveUsFromTheQueen a ruthless queen]], her [[{{Twincest}} brother\lover]] Jaime starts firmly black but after [[TraumaCongaLine suffering a lot]] [[TookALevelInIdealism turns out to be a better person than he seemed]], and younger brother Tyrion is a LovableRogue.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* By the third season of ''Series/BoardwalkEmpire'', VillainProtagonist Nucky Thompson had [[TookALevelInJerkass taken a level in jerkass]] and embraced his role as a gangster to a degree that he was no longer clearly the Gray in the BlackAndGrayMorality framework. So, he was given an opponent in Gyp Rosetti, a brutal sociopath with a HairTriggerTemper, against whom Nucky looks like a saint in comparison.
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'': Sandor is brutal, but unlike Gregor has some sort of morals. This only becomes more pronounced over time as Sandor begins to develop more of a conscience and feel more remorse for his crimes, whereas Gregor remains as monstrous as ever.
* Casual racism pops up quite a bit in ''Series/SonsOfAnarchy'', which is probably why the gang ends up fighting ''actual'' white supremacists. The blue collar, decidedly Un-PC Sons seem like paragons of liberal virtue in comparison to the brutal, bloodthirsty skinheads they battle throughout Season 2.
* In ''Series/{{Justified}}'', Boyd Crowder transitions from {{antivillain}} to outright villain as the series progresses. For all his machinations and bloodshed, however, he has sympathetic moments, as is far less {{sadist}}ic than his adversaries, who include his father, Bo (drug lord, casual killer and eventual mass murderer), the Bennetts (a clan of marijuana dealers who kill anyone who so much as questions their control), Robert Quarles (an [[FunctionalAddict Oxycontin-addicted]] {{serial killer}} and [[SerialRapist sexual predator]]), Nicky Augustine (a [[TheSociopath sociopathic]] [[TheStarscream starscream]] with a {{jerkass}} streak), Daryl Crowe Jr. (a murderous smuggler who had his own brother killed for [[YouHaveFailedMe screwing up a job]]), and the Mexican cartel, who skin their enemies alive. This works to Boyd's advantage in-series as well, as series' protagonist Raylan Givens will typically focus on the more evil villain of the season and leave Boyd more or less alone.
* In ''Series/FromDuskTillDawn'' the Gecko brothers are thieves and murderers, [[spoiler:but the vampires run [[TheCartel an international drug cartel]] and drain innocent girls by the container-full.]]
* As with the novel it's based on, this is all over the place in the live-action adaptation of ''Series/TheManInTheHighCastle'', due to [[CrapsackWorld the setting]]. ''[[spoiler:[[UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler Adolf frakking Hitler]]]]'' of all people comes across as this in comparison to [[spoiler:Reinhard Heydrich's faction, whose goals are by all accounts [[NukeEm a nuclear war with Japan]].]] Interestingly, the novel portrays [[spoiler:Heydrich's faction in the exact opposite manner; there Heydrich's faction is the only one that ''opposes'' nuking Japan. This may be a minor case of NotHisSled]].
* Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold from ''Series/OnceUponATime'' fits this trope throughout the series. While most other villains in the series either die or become active heroes ([[AntiHero Anti-Heroes]] at worst), Rumpelstiltskin holds his ChaoticNeutral position all the way through. He usually [[LackOfEmpathy keeps out of the affairs of the savior and her friends and family unless he benefits from them in some way]] (either through a deal or a common goal) or if the villain they face threaten him or [[spoiler:Belle]] directly, flip-flopping between AntiHero, AntiVillain and straight up menace throughout.
* In season 4 of ''Series/OrangeIsTheNewBlack'', three of the least-likable members of the prison staff in [[HeteronormativeCrusader Healy]], [[TheLoad Luschek]], and [[ObliviouslyEvil Coates]] turn out to be nothing compared to the majority of the new guards headed up by Capt. Piscatella. All three at various points of the season display at least a basic degree of concern for the inmates or remorse for their own misdeeds, in stark contrast to the likes of [[SociopathicSoldier Humphries]] and [[FatBastard Dixon]] who have absolutely no empathy whatsoever.

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* CHAOS was the top "evil" stable of Wrestling/NewJapanProWrestling before the establishment of the [[EvilForeigner gaijin]] group Wrestling/BulletClub (never mind CHAOS's own "outsiders") but they both get cheered when facing what was once Kojimagun. Wrestling/{{Minoru|Suzuki}} simply became that unlikable since taking over and making it Suzukigun.
* World Wrestling League Tercias champions Los Rabiosos consisted of two thugs who only cared about money and a whiny backstabbing hypocrite, which still made them better than Spectro, Kronya and Vassago, the murderous arsonists of Legio. However, Rabiosos would later get some PetTheDog moments through haciendo la diferencia while the later only got worse by [[VillainTeamUp picking up]] Mistress Glenda Lee and El Profe, turning it into BlackAndGreyMorality.[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* This is what ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' has instead of Good versus Evil, and is presumably what fans of the Lighter Black factions (Tau, Craftworld Eldar, the Imperium (specifically the Salamanders), Necrons) see in playing on the side of such horrible people; they're fighting against the very incarnations of cruelty (Dark Eldar), savagery (Orks), consumption (Tyranids) and, well, Chaos.
** The Tau were basically created to be this trope, despite FanDumb forcing them to get darker since their introduction. It says a lot about the state of the universe where the race with a "communist manifest destiny" motif, who openly seek to conquer the universe and make all other races part of their empire, who resort to violence if their efforts to subsume other races diplomatically fail, and who are implied (in a comment of dubious canonicity) to set up concentration camps and forced sterilization programs for races who resist, are still relatively good guys.
** The Imperium of Man: a massive VestigialEmpire choked with a TautologicalTemplar bureaucracy that preaches zealotry, ignorance, and militarism while completely disregarding the individual -- yet it's made up of humans just trying to survive in a universe where EverythingIsTryingToKillYou. Plus, at this point in the setting, the [[CrapsackWorld galaxy is so screwed up]] that [[TheExtremistWasRight fixing it might actually cause the apocalypse]].
** Most (non-Dark) Eldar default to this. Like the Imperium, they consider all other races to be worthless compared to their own citizens; unlike the Imperium, they usually don't [[AbsoluteXenophobe actively try to exterminate outsiders]] that don't get in their way, and mostly just want to be left alone. The Necrons who aren't utterly psychotic {{Omnicidal Maniac}}s are similar in that regard.
** Among the forces of Chaos, the Thousand Sons (especially Magnus) are sort of this. The Emperor kept secrets from Magnus, and his attempt to warn the Emperor of the Literature/HorusHeresy damaged the Emperor's secret work, and resulted in the Thousand Sons being forced to join the traitors. Afterwards, Ahriman managed to turn most of the legion to dust, leaving the Thousand Sons as a broken legion, just as engineered by [[ManipulativeBastard Tzeentch]].
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'', the triple-A MegaCorp Horizon (which appeared in 4th edition onwards) is a world-dominating mega corp that has a completely flat and transparent corporate structure, an extremely cheerful and public CEO, and focus on 'benign' industries like Public Relations and pharmaceuticals. Rather than make them the 'good guys' of the setting this has made them ParanoiaFuel; Shadowrunners are usually extremely smart(the ones that aren't don't live long) and the concept of a Mega with no skeletons in the closet that actually ''cares'' is scarier than eight of the other open [[PragmaticVillainy Pragmatic Villains]] on the Corporate Court combined (they still don't match [[TheDreaded Aztechnology]] though) because this only means they must be hiding something utterly depraved in there ''somewhere''... But nobody knows what it is.
** [[ArmsDealer Ares Macrotechnology]] is generally considered this trope in the shadows. It's not that Ares aren't doing shadowy, dirty business (they are) or that they give a hoot about making the world a better place (they don't), but Ares (perhaps due to their LovableRogue CEO or the fact that shadowrunners continuing to exist raises demand for their products) [[PragmaticVillainy tend to understand 'the game' between shadowrunners and corporations better than most]]. A run against Ares is a run [[FairPlayVillain where they'll play by the rules]] [[GentlemanThief if you play by them]]. If you get hired to do work on their behalf, odds are better than average that the Johnson actually intends to ''pay'' you at the end instead of backstabbing you.

* Sweeney Todd is a murderous barber who slashes his customers' throats and has them baked into pies. But in ''Theatre/SweeneyToddTheDemonBarberOfFleetStreet'', we root for him because he wants revenge against the corrupt HangingJudge who falsely transported him for life in order to get at his beautiful wife, as well as having some rather [[WifeHusbandry skeevy designs]] on his daughter when she comes of age.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'': Part of "Heaven's Feel" seems to be solely dedicated to making the players like Kotomine more, with several EnemyMine and PetTheDog situations and most importantly, an utterly epic fight where he holds his own against Matou Zoken and his Servant quite well. In "Fate", Kotomine is portrayed as fairly simplistic with no motives beyond EvilFeelsGood, and in Unlimited Blade Works he takes a backseat to the conflict between Shirou and Archer. Only "Heaven's Feel" fleshes him out at all, but in doing so it makes him into a much more complex character than when he was portrayed in simple black and white terms.
* ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic II'': In the Dark Side Ending, Kreia will say that the PC is not a Sith. Not really. Presumably, she considers them a Dark Jedi instead, i.e. someone who uses the Dark Side for their own advancement rather than submitting to the Sith Code and philosophies.
* This is the case in ''VideoGame/DisgaeaHourOfDarkness'' (Laharl the wannabe EvilOverlord vs. an OmnicidalManiac). ''VideoGame/{{Disgaea 2|CursedMemories}}'' and ''VideoGame/{{Disgaea 4|APromiseUnforgotten}}'' have more heroic protagonists while ''VideoGame/{{Disgaea 3|AbsenceOfJustice}}'' is mixed (Mao wants to slay his father, the Overlord, for trivial reasons and the rest of the cast have more heroic goals [[spoiler:plus the real villain already made Mao do it and surpressed his memories)]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Blood}}'' has no good guys. On one hand you have a cult trying to summon a dark god, murdering anyone they want to and experimenting on the rest. On the other side you have one of their failed projects, a sadistic [[EverythingsDeaderwithZombies revenant]] named Caleb who was one of those cultists and also is murdering anyone he feels like. At least Caleb is fighting to avenge his wife [[spoiler: and best friend]] and has a [[DeadpanSnarker sense of humor]].
* [[KnightTemplar The Scarlet Crusade]] vs the [[NightOfTheLivingMooks Scourge]] in ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft''. [[spoiler:At least until Wrath of the Lich King]].
* ''VideoGame/GodOfWarSeries'' is an interesting example. On one side, the Gods of Olympus, famous for toying with or outright squashing humanity when they feel like it, but also the sources of wisdom, love, agriculture, and even the Sun itself. On the other, a completely psychotic killer who thinks nothing of slaughtering anybody in his way, but with basically sympathetic motives for bringing war against the gods, and who ultimately [[spoiler: grants his enormous power to humanity after bringing down Olympus]]. In the end, which side is Lighter comes down to the viewer.
* ''VideoGame/ScarfaceTheWorldIsYours'' follows the original film in this. Sure, Tony is wiping out the gangs and the enemy gangsters all the way up to Sosa, who watchers of the film would have known was not a nice person, but he is still putting drugs on the streets of Miami.
* VideoGame/{{Drakengard}}. Among your plucky group of heroes are an {{Ax Crazy}} mute soldier whose sister loves him more than is socially acceptable, a vicious red dragon, a batshit crazy elf who eats children, a religious patriarch who never passes up an opportunity to call for genocide against [[WhatMeasureIsANonHuman all other intelligent species]], a blind pedophile, and a child cursed to never grow up. However, they're care bears compared to the Grotesqueries, hideous {{Humanoid Abomination}} who wish to unmake creation through the efforts of their possessed minion Manah, a six year old girl who delights in ruining lives left and right because her mommy never loved her enough.
* In ''VideoGame/BlazBlue'' we have the BigBadDuumvirate, [[ArchNemesisDad Relius]] [[MadScientist Clover]] and [[FauxAffablyEvil Hazama]] / [[AxCrazy Terumi]] [[{{Troll}} Yuuki]]. Both of them are seemingly caught in a "How far beyond the MoralEventHorizon can you go" contest, but despite the fact that they are pretty much evenly matched as far as accomplishments go, Relius is still a lighter shade of black than Hazama is. First and foremost because most of his atrocities were committed in order to [[ForScience satiate his own scientific curiosity]], and secondly because he is [[PragmaticVillainy pretty pragmatic in his villainy]]. Compare to Hazama who [[CardCarryingVillain doesn't even pretend]] [[ForTheEvulz to have a rationalization]] for all the shit he does and often goes out of his way to ruin people's lives JUST BECAUSE... His behavior is sort of [[JustifiedTrope justified]], though, because Hazama/Terumi avoids getting [[{{Retgone}} erased from reality]] by anchoring his own existence in the world [[GodNeedsPrayerBadly through people's hatred of him]]. It's ultimately DoubleSubverted, though, because he really ''does'' get off on pushing people beyond the DespairEventHorizon. The fact that there are good reasons to suspect he's the 'verse's own take on {{Satan}} doesn't help his case, either.
** Eventually Relius in ''Chronophantasma'' turns out to be capable of being portrayed as an extreme version of WellIntentionedExtremist. All three main bad guys (Imperator, Terumi, Relius) aim for destroying the Master Unit Amaterasu which can cause a genocidal damage to the current world and resets it, but it turns that Relius... [[spoiler:does so because he's frustrated that the world never progresses and prevents advancement of his goal of creating the Perfect Doll. While he is still pretty selfish that he only cares for his own project, his intention can be portrayed at being beneficial for the rest of humanity trapped in depressing loops. If he completes the project, he could either leave humanity alone, or try to inject the Perfect Doll for humanity, which in his twisted mind, may have a chance to be considered a beneficial improvement for overall humans (though probably other people will not agree). This is in comparison of Terumi who just wants the world to be his playground of evil and filled with despair for his own greed, and the Imperator, being Izanami, who just wants everyone to die and make the world empty.]]
* ''Franchise/BaldursGate''
** In ''VideoGame/BaldursGateII'', you are given the choice between supporting the [[TheSyndicate Shadow Thieves]], a thieves' guild you've probably already done some sidequests for, and a rival guild led by a lady called Bodhi that contains vampires that attack people in the streets at night. If you visit their guildhalls neither of them seem terribly 'good', but at least the Shadow Thieves don't decorate with giant pools of human blood and fill their halls with mindless thralls they feed on.
** In all the three parts (BG 1, BG 2 and BG 2: ''Thone of Bhaal''), the protagonist can be evil but will still be potentially sympathetic due to being the PlayerCharacter, and will also be the lesser evil compared to the major villain of each story and their destructive plans. In ''Throne of Bhaal'', the prophecy behind much of the games' plot is revealed to contain the clause that, no matter what path the protagonist chooses if they should triumph over their antagonists in that storyline, the results of their losing would always be worse.
** [[TokenEvilTeammate Viconia]] is a drow and a [[DownplayedTrope downplayed]] case of MySpeciesDothProtestTooMuch in that she's evil aligned, just not ''that'' evil. The typical drow, especially those you meet in the Underdark arc in ''Shadows of Amn'', are so evil that Viconia looks good aligned in comparison.
* Common in the ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAuto'' series. More often than not, as bad the VillainProtagonist PlayerCharacters are, they're still usually better than their antagonists.
** ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoSanAndreas'': CJ and every criminal organization he associates with (Grove Street Families, the Varrios Los Aztecas, and the Triads) are NeighborhoodFriendlyGangsters who oppose the drug trade and work to stop the sale of cocaine all across the state. The BigBad, [[DirtyCop Officer Frank Tenpenny]], has not only been largely been giving the coke-dealers more power for his own benefit, but he's deeply corrupt and is set to kill everyone who could possibly expose his crimes. Including his own partners.
** ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoV'': Michael is a bank robber fresh out of retirement, Franklin is a former small-time [[{{Gangbangers}} Gangbanger]] turned big-time bank robber and assassin, and Trevor (who's by far [[TokenEvilTeammate the most evil of the three]]) is an AxCrazy drug dealing PsychopathicManChild. Despite this, all three of them have redeeming values, [[MoralityPet Morality Pets]], and PetTheDog moments that can instill some sympathy. That's more than can be said about their antagonists: Steven Haines, a corrupt FIB agent who engages in some incredibly irresponsible InterserviceRivalry with the IAA for the sake of his career, and Devin Weston, a CorruptCorporateExecutive with close ties to PrivateMilitaryContractors known for committing human rights violations all over the world.
* If you play as a rogue in ''Videogame/NetHack'', the Assassins' Guild becomes the lighter shade of black to the Thieves' Guild. You're on the eviler side.
* In [[VideoGame/PokemonRubyAndSapphire Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire]] you got two gangs competing with each other: Team Magma, who want to expand the landmass to further develop civilization and Team Aqua, who want to expand the oceans so Pokemon will have more places to live. One of the teams will resort to kidnapping, robbery and awakening dangerous OlympusMons to further their ideals, while the other, while not really sympathetic towards you, will help you defeat them. Which team is the lighter shade of black depends on which version you're playing.
* {{VideoGame/Wizardry}} has the typical D&D [[CharacterAlignment alignments]] and the manuals use this reasoning to explain the presence of such people in the party: "''Evil characters are not really evil when compared to some of the things they fight in the Maze. They are self-centered, and always want to know "what's in it for them." Evil characters help old ladies cross the street for a small fee."''
* In the lore of {{VideoGame/Overwatch}}, Hanzo Shimada is the heir to a powerful yakuza clan, groomed to be such from the day he was born. He also killed his brother (or so he assumed), but it's heavily implied that Hanzo didn't want to go through with it and he spends the rest of his life trying to atone for it. Hanzo is definitely a rude asshole, a ruthless assassin, and a morally ''dark'' gray character, but he also despises his family for what they made him do.
** He also denies joining up with [[BigBad Talon]], though whether this is based more on his morals or his pride is still up for debate.

* {{Webcomic/Homestuck}} has The Midnight Crew, who are only considered heroes during "Operation Regisurp" in the Troll's Session, due to their alliance with the protagonists. Later in story, they're only considered heroic at all because their rivals, Lord English and the Felt, are worse. They still casually murder people and given half the chance would become just as dangerous as Jack Noir and the agents under him in the Kid's session.
* Zala'ess Vel'Sharen in ''{{Webcomic/Drowtales}}'' is by no means a particularly nice person, since in the process of vying for the title of Empress among her sisters participates in {{Matricide}}, pulls a UriahGambit on an (adopted) child, politically manipulates several clans into helping her and deliberately and secretly sabotages a duel that causes one of her sisters to die. And yet compared to her eldest sister Snadhya'rune, who's an outright [[TheSociopath sociopath]] who views people as things and Sarv'swati, her [[TheCaligula brutal and tyrannical]] second eldest sister, she seems downright reasonable and displays some humanizing qualities like honest concern for her children.
* ''Webcomic/{{Lackadaisy}}'' is about a gang war between two booze joints in the 20's USA. The eponyous Lackadaisy gang is mostly presented as a group of good friends and underdogs who got into organized crime due to circumstances or for some of them out of desperation, while the rival Marigold gang is a group of experienced and hardened criminals who seem to enjoy their job way too much and have very few (if any) redeeming qualities.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* The [[FishPeople Kua-Toa]] of ''WebVideo/TalesFromMyDDCampaign'' are divided into two factions: The Illud and the Deluvians. Both are [[SlaveryIsASpecialKindOfEvil slavers]] and believe themselves to be the MasterRace, but the Deluvians worship the AxCrazy goddess of slaughter and want to butcher all the civilized races, while the Illud worship a neutral god of storms, and may be content with just enslaving all the civilized races.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/Ben10UltimateAlien'', Sir George vs Diagon. George might be a [[FantasticRacism anti-alien]] KnightTemplar leading a whole faction of CapeBusters, but he is still better than the [[MindRape Mind-Raping]], MultiversalConqueror EldritchAbomination that is Diagon. However, later episodes show that he, unlike Driscoll and the rest of the knights, was not so bad after all. Once the Diagon arc kicks in he's pretty much a good guy who also protects the world, but he and Ben were at odds with their views on non-earthly beings until a bigger threat forced Sir George to get over it and work with the team.
** Also, Charmcaster vs. Adwaitya. [[spoiler: Charmcaster is hardly is a saint, but Adwaitya is way, ''way'' worse: she may have done more damage than he did temporarily (though one could argue that regardless of what Spellbinder claimed, wiping out all life in her realm in one go is still more benevolent than Adwaitya's systematic killing over the ages) but is called out on it and becomes a FriendlyEnemy afterward for the most part; by contrast, Adwaitya was power-mad and unrepentant to the end.]]