->''"So many vows... they make you swear and swear. Defend the king. Obey the king. Keep his secrets. Do his bidding. Your life for his. But obey your father. Love your sister. Protect the innocent. Defend the weak. Respect the gods. Obey the laws. It's too much. No matter what you do, you're forsaking one vow or the other."''
-->-- '''Jaime Lannister''', ''Literature/AClashOfKings''

Many people have more than one thing they consider worthy of UndyingLoyalty: [[GoodShepherd religion]], [[PatrioticFervour country]], [[ThickerThanWater family]] and [[TrueCompanions friends]], [[IGaveMyWord promises]], perhaps [[WeHelpTheHelpless a cause]] or whatever the author imagines. If a character is lucky, these differing claims can actually reinforce one another. But what happens if they conflict? Then we have Conflicting Loyalty.

Whichever the character chooses, he may regard it as DirtyBusiness. Many characters try (and may or may not succeed) to TakeAThirdOption. If the character can use a technicality, loophole, metaphorical truth, or harmless lie to resolve the dilemma in a way that benefits (or at least avoids harm to) both sides, expect this to usually be a moral act from a moral character, regardless of whether or not it succeeds.

Related to SadisticChoice. Compare RebelliousRebel, AntiMutiny. Sometimes invokes HonorBeforeReason. SuperTrope to EvenMooksHaveLovedOnes and ToBeLawfulOrGood.


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Manga/GunslingerGirl'' can get into this sometimes with the handlers trying to balance making the girls effective weapons while still letting them retain some semblance of happiness.
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'': [[spoiler:Itachi Uchiha]] was forced to choose between his loyalty to his family[[spoiler: and clan]], or to his village. He chose his village without too much thought and wiped out his rebellious family. But his ''true'' conflicting loyalty is between choosing the village or [[spoiler:his brother Sasuke,]] whom he loves more than the village but is also willing to strip of free will so he can protect the village for the rest of his life.
* A major part of the second-season arc of ''LightNovel/SaiunkokuMonogatari'' centers around Ran Shuuei being caught in a conflict of loyalty -- between his loyalty to his Emperor (who has shown him absolute trust) and his {{Big Screwed Up|Family}} [[TheClan Clan]], the Rans, who dislike the emperor and only care about their own people and lands. Getting it resolved takes a lot of work (and, ultimately, intentionally getting himself disowned so that he can freely swear his unconditional loyalty to Ryuuki).
* ''Anime/LeChevalierDEon'' has this as a ''major'' theme. Events really start unravelling around the topic of loyalty to an individual versus loyalty to a cause, or when loyalty to "king and country" ends up as two conflicting loyalties. [[spoiler:The first event to really drive this home is when Durand - an unconditionally loyal secret agent - is ordered by his king to kill his friends to protect a state secret. This screws him up enough to nearly get him killed. In the end, he insists on protecting his friends while still trying to have it both ways. A villain later tries to persuade Durand to join him by calling him out on it, asking why Durand would serve a king who would give him such an order. Even then, Durand doesn't give in.]]
* In ''Anime/CodeGeass'', Suzaku Kururugi is Japanese by birth, and only wants to protect his country - and is working in the military of TheEmpire that invaded it. And then there are his loyalties to the people he cares about, many of whom are at various points on opposite sides of the conflict. And then there's his personal ideology...
** Not to mention [[MagnificentBastard Lelouch]], who himself has this conflict starting when he finds out he's the pilot of the Lancelot.
* Vice Admiral Garp of ''Manga/OnePiece'' has a pretty severe case of this throughout the Whitebeard arc. He's torn between his loyalty to the World Government and Navy as a Vice Admiral and as a friend/comrade of Fleet Admiral Sengoku, his feelings towards his grandsons Ace and Luffy who are both notorious pirates along with Ace facing execution, and his own promise to [[spoiler:Gold Roger to take care of his son Ace]]. It's so bad that he [[spoiler:[[ILetYouWin all but throws the fight]] against Luffy when he tries to stop him from saving Ace]]. Ultimately, [[spoiler:he fails to uphold any of these promises due to this conflict. Sengoku realized he threw the fight, Ace is killed by Akainu anyway, and Luffy suffers total mental collapse]].
* Athrun has this big time in ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamSeedDestiny''. On the one hand, Durandal sweet-talked him into rejoining ZAFT to protect his former nation [=PLANTs=] from EA attack. He also has loyalty to the crew of the Minerva as fellow soldiers who have tried to save a world that hates them. On the other hand, his adopted nation Orb was effectively blackmailed into joining the EA, and his best friend and his ex-fiancees were forced to flee with the Archangel. This all comes to a head when Orb is ordered to send a fleet out to fight ZAFT, and Athrun's ship the Minerva is sent out to fight it, and the Archangel ends up intervening against both ZAFT and the EA to protect the Orb fleet. Cue ten episodes of Athrun wrestling with his loyalties until he finally jumps ship (again) and joins Orb.
** He never even really gets to totally make the choice. After learning of this Durandal decides he doesn't need someone that isn't completely loyal to him and sends soldiers after Athrun branding him a traitor to Zaft before he really did anything and forcing him to flee back to Orb.
* In ''Manga/WildRock'', Yuni and Selim are from [[FeudingFamilies feuding clans]] and both future chieftans, and choose to place duty before their [[StarCrossedLovers feelings]]. [[GenerationXerox Their sons]] later end up falling in love, but Emba chooses Yuuen over loyalty to his clan, which ultimately reunites them.
* ''Anime/WinterCicada'' is about StarCrossedLovers during the great Boshin civil war in Japan (1864 to 1869). Akizuki is on the isolationist side (expel foreigners and keep the Shogunate system) and Kusaka is on the imperialist side (open the borders and embrace modern culture). Somewhat subverted in that both main characters want to keep the borders open, but nonetheless they end up going along with their clans.
* ''Anime/TransformersEnergon'' gives an interesting variant with Demolishor, whose loyalties are both to Megatron. In this case, the conflict comes down to whether he obeys the last command Megatron gave at the end of ''[[Anime/TransformersArmada Armada]]'', or whether he disregards that to go along with the dramatically different orders Megatron starts giving after being resurrected.
* In ''Manga/PokemonSpecial'', Black starts to show issues between his own personal agendas and the fact that he's apparently TheChosenOne. He had been training his whole life to [[ToBeAMaster win the League]] but the Team Plasma shenanigans are getting in the way. It gets to the point where [[spoiler: Reshiram refuses to come out for him just yet and his Munna leaves him because it can no longer feed on his dreams]].
* In ''Manga/ACruelGodReigns'', Ian goes through a period of conflict where he has to decide whose honor he wants to save- the good memory of his father or his step-brother Jeremy's innocence in his reasoning for [[spoiler:VehicularSabotage]].
* Tsurara in ''Manga/{{Kurosagi}}'' has a tough time deciding if she should put more stock in her love of and belief in the law, or her growing love for her [[ConMan swindling]] landlord
* In ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'', [[spoiler:Reiner, Bertolt, and Annie]] are torn between [[BecomingTheMask affection]] for comrades and loyalty to superiors. It causes numerous major mistakes to be made, and more than one case of a VillainousBSOD. [[spoiler: Reiner has it the worst, unable to reconcile his conflicting loyalties leads to SanitySlippage and identity issues]].
* The duty-bound Souseiseki in ''Manga/RozenMaiden'' is conflicted between her love for her sisters and her obligation to follow her Father's wishes, which is to fight in the Alice Game and kill off said sisters until one doll remains standing. She is also this towards her mediums, whom she addresses as "Master" and is determined to help them be happy even if it keeps her trapped with no free will.
* In ''[[Manga/ShinozakisanKiWoOtaShikaNi Don't Become an Otaku, Shinozaki-san!]]'', Akina ''thinks'' this trope is in effect between her loyalty to her old middle school GirlPosse and her new high school otaku friends. Multiple incidents prove that this is really just in Akina's head.
* ''{{Anime/Pokemon}}'':
** For the Cerulean Gym battle, Pikachu refuses to participate, since he doesn't want to go up against Misty, a friend.
** May has trouble choosing who she wants to win during the Petalburg gym match: Ash, or her father Norman. Max, in contrast, is ready to root for his father, and admonishes May for her indecisiveness.
* In the anime/manga of ''Literature/TheHeroicLegendOfArslan'', Bahman was conflicted after receiving a letter from commander-in-chief Vahriz about [[spoiler: the possibility that Arslan isn't of royal blood]] and finding out that [[spoiler: Silvermask is the former Prince Hermes]]. He was torn between wanting to support [[spoiler: Prince Hermes]] or continue to stand by Arslan.
* The autobiographical protagonist of ''Manga/MyLesbianExperienceWithLoneliness'' is torn between [[WellDoneDaughterGal wanting to make her parents proud]] versus allowing herself to be proud.

* In the (now non-canon) ''ComicBook/DuckTales'' and ''ComicBook/DarkwingDuck'' crossover "Dangerous Currency", Scrooge comes to St. Canard, and he and Darkwing ''really'' do not get along. The fact that his "two best friends hate each other" is stressful for Launchpad, who worries that they'll never get it sorted out and he'll be forced to pick one or the other. This is even represented on one of the covers, with Scrooge and Darkwing pulling on opposite sides of Launchpad's pilot's helmet. Fortunately, the two ultimately become VitriolicBestBuds and the situation is resolved.
* ComicBook/JimmyOlsen suffers from this in UsefulNotes/{{the Silver Age|of Comic Books}} story "The Betrayal of Superman" when he agrees to take on a missing persons case for a sick friend, only to find that the "missing person" is Supes' other persona -- does he keep his pal's SecretIdentity secure or keep his promise to his other friend? Fortunately, he manages to TakeAThirdOption.
* The pivotal plot point of ''Comicbook/{{Scion}}'': Ethan has to choose between loyalty to his family and kingdom in the war against the Raven Kingdom and loyalty to Ashleigh and her movement to liberate the Lesser Races.
* ComicBook/{{Wolverine}} is both a member of the X-Men and the Avengers. He's stated that he sees the Avengers as work and the X-Men as his family. However, in ComicBook/AvengersVsXMen, he sides more with the Avengers than the X-Men.
* ''{{Deadpool}}'' had this in the post recent chapters of his solo series. He has loyalty and friendship with Captain America & SHIELD agent, Emily Preston. But he sides with the former. [[spoiler: Cap, who has been Cosmic Cubed into a Hydra agent, sent Deadpool on a mission to assassinate Phil Coulson and prevent him from warning everyone about what's happening with him and Hydra. Coulson was a very close friend of Preston's and Wade felt guilty after completing the task. He asks Cap how he will ever explain things to Preston.]]
** [[spoiler: Later, Wade meets up with Preston to check on the family when a dark dome appears over Manhattan. She tells Deadpool to get in the car so they can find Coulson. Wade is completely torn. Preston wonders why Wade needed to see Coulson the other night, and Wade lies about the reason, and tells Preston he never found Coulson. When they get to his hide-out -which Wade burned down after killing Phil, he says it didn't look that way the other night he was there. He continues to play dumb while there, but Preston finds out the truth when she watches a surveillance video.]]


* In Act II of ''[[FanFic/TheEquestriaChronicles Legends of Equestria]]'', Princess Luna is placed in an unfortunate situation when she realizes that her sister, whom she has sworn personal loyalty to, is rebuilding Equestria as a an authoritarian state and destroying all the freedoms they originally fought for.
* In ''FanFic/StarsAbove'', this trope and ItsNotYouItsMyEnemies cause [[Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica Homura]] to coldly reject [[Manga/LuckyStar Kagami]] for a while.
* As the Games begin in the ''[[Literature/TheHungerGames Hunger Games]]'' fanfic ''Fanfic/SomeSemblanceOfMeaning'', [[{{Deuteragonist}} Obsidian]] is torn between his ties to [[BloodKnight his fellow Careers]] and the inexplicable friendship he feels toward [[NiceGirl Vale]] and [[KidSidekick Kit]]. He ends up [[spoiler: leaving the Career pack after he realizes the extent of their ruthlessness and eventually allies with Vale]].
* ''Fanfic/NecessaryToWin''
** Shinzaburou, a servant of the Isuzu household, finds himself dealing with this problem, after his mistress and employer disowns her daughter for doing tankery. He opposes this decision, but finds himself unable to actively oppose his mistress, so he [[TakeAThirdOption decides to serve as an intermediary, to help Hana reconcile with her mother]].
** Kikuyo, a maid for the Nishizumi family who is also a ParentalSubstitute for her mistress' daughter, Miho, also has this problem when her mistress tells her to inform Miho that [[spoiler:she will be disowned if she loses to Saunders in the semifinals]]. She's personally loyal to her mistress, who was also her former tankery instructor, but also has no wish to see Miho [[spoiler:be disowned]], and so finds herself wondering what she can do to help.
* ''Fanfic/{{Legionnaire}}'' poses this problem for [[ChurchMilitant Justicars]] like Prophet, who are willing to put their religion's principles over [[TheFundamentalist the orthodox]].
* In ''Fanfic/AmbienceAFleetSymphony'', several of the ship girls, most notably Shiranui and Zuikaku, struggle to prioritise between the wellbeing of their sisters and the needs of the fleet as a whole.
* ''FanFic/SonOfTheSevenKingdoms'': Farengar Secret-Fire is one of Prince William's Blades, sent to [[TheMole spy on Daenerys]]. However, over time, he comes to admire her as a ruler as much as his Black Prince, and he eventually admits [[spoiler: when outing himself]] that if it ever comes down to it, he wouldn't be able to pick a side between the two of them and would have to stay neutral.
** Like in canon, Theon experiences this conflict between his Iron Born family and his mainlander friends. Unlike in canon, however, [[spoiler: he chooses his friends]].

[[folder: Animated Film]]
* ''Disney/{{Frozen}}'': The CutSong "We Know Better", from an earlier draft where Elsa was the villain, would have had this for Anna. The song's DarkReprise shows her learning that some friends she often hangs out with are being cruel to Elsa, and when they call her a "freak" in front of her, Elsa snaps and is hinted to attack one of them. Anna sides with her friends and puts all the blame on Elsa, which would serve as the latter's CynicismCatalyst.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Coco}}'': Miguel's conflict arises from his idolization of Ernesto de la Cruz and his passion for music despite his family's ban on both (since Ernesto abandoned them to become a musician), as well as having to choose between staying true to the people he loves or pursuing his dreams despite the painful part such dreams played in their history.

* ''Film/ChariotsOfFire'': "God knows I love my country. But I can't make that sacrifice." (Eric refusing to run on Sunday)
* ''Film/LawrenceOfArabia'':
-->'''Arab:''' You are loyal to England...\\
'''Lawrence:''' And other things...
* In ''Franchise/StarWars Episode III: Film/RevengeOfTheSith'', Anakin Skywalker fell to TheDarkSide when circumstances forced him to choose between his loyalty to the Jedi and the need to save Padme, which Palpatine had promised he could do. [[TragicMistake He chose Padme]]. He FINALLY makes the right decision in ''Star Wars Episode VI: Film/ReturnOfTheJedi''.
* Ringo Lam's ''Film/CityOnFire'' is all about this, as Chow Yun-Fat plays an undercover cop who has to choose between loyalty to his fellow cops and loyalty to the triad gang that he's infiltrated.
* Tony Leung's Alan from ''Film/HardBoiled'' also has to deal with conflicting loyalties, both due to having to choose between Johnny Wong and his old triad boss, and also being an undercover cop as well.
* In ''Film/StarTrekTheMotionPicture'', the ''Enterprise'' has a different captain, Decker, but he's quickly replaced by [[TheCaptain Kirk]] and demoted to first mate. This sets up a number of moments of conflicting loyalty for the crew, particularly in a scene where Decker countermands one of Kirk's orders because he has better knowledge of how the new, improved ''Enterprise'' works.
* This is a major problem for undercover LAPD Officer Brian O'Connor in the first ''Film/TheFastAndTheFurious'' movie, who is assigned to obtain evidence against Dominic Toretto and his team of truck jackers. He ends up falling for Toretto's sister and becomes Toretto's friend. In the end, he chooses to let Toretto go.

* ''Literature/NightfallSeries'': Myra is loyal to the Resistance. Still, [[spoiler:she won't let them kill Vladimir and helps him escape from the cave.]]
* Lancelot is torn viciously between his place as Arthur's general and Guinevere's knight, to say the least of the romantic involvement. The original [[Creator/ChretienDeTroyes Chrétien]] version makes little of this, as Arthur is mostly an inept and impotent king, but from ''Literature/LeMorteDarthur'' onwards it tends to be one of the driving forces of the tragedy. ''Literature/IdyllsOfTheKing'' cranks it up to the point where the conflict inside him prematurely ages Lancelot, and the longest book of The Once and Future King is dedicated to Lancelot's story, at which this struggle is the focal point.
* Conflicts of loyalty play a huge part in the ''Literature/{{Nibelungenlied}}''. To point out the more important ones: In the matter of the murder of Siegfried, Gunther is torn between his obligation to protect the honour of his wife Brunhilde and those towards his vassal and brother-in-law Siegfried. Later, after the deed is done, Gunther and his brothers are torn between their feudal obligation to protect their vassal Hagen and their fraternal loyalty towards their sister Kriemhild; they opt for Hagen. Rüdiger of Bechlarn is visibly torn between the oaths he swore to his queen Kriemhild and to the Burgundians, one of whom is betrothed to Rüdiger's daughter. Kriemhild has to choose between her sisterly affections to her brothers (especially Giselher, the youngest) and to her loyalty to her dead husband Siegfried. She eventually opts for the latter, allowing Gernot and Giselher to die in battle and ordering Gunther to be executed. This is an interesting switch from earlier versions of the story (preserved e. g. in the Icelandic Atli-saga), she killed her second husband Atli (Etzel) in order to avenge her dead brothers.
* ''Literature/TheChosen'': Danny must choose between his father and friendship with Reuven.
* In the ''Literature/SixteenThirtyTwo'' series, Ruy Sanchez de Casador y Ortiz is torn between loyalty to his new American wife, and to Spain. [[spoiler:Ultimately, the wife wins.]]
* The ''Literature/BhagavadGita'' makes this at least Older Than Feudalism. Arjuna's family has usurped his crown with the only hope of getting it back being to fight them for it, and he is stuck between two conflicting dharmas (duties): his duty to his family and his duty as a soldier and a king. Eventually, Krishna sorts him out and tells him that he should suck it up and fight the battle.
* In ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheOrderOfThePhoenix'' Marietta Edgecombe is torn between her loyalty to Cho and her loyalty to the Ministry. She chooses [[spoiler: the ministry, at what would have been the expense of Cho and a lot of other student's careers seeing as they would have all been expelled and unable to complete their NEWT exams, and for many of them their OWL exams as well if not for Dumbledore's intervention. It's implied she did not take Voldemort's return seriously or believed the Ministry propaganda about him not being back since she went willingly on her own to expose the DA to Umbridge.]]
* ''Literature/{{Temeraire}}'': At the end of ''Empire of Ivory'', [[spoiler: the British government has sent a dragon infected with a highly contagious disease to France, where it will infect Napoleon's dragons -- and from where the disease will likely spread and kill off most of the dragons in the world. [[OfficerAndAGentleman Laurence]] and Temeraire bring Napoleon the cure, an act of treason against Great Britain. Then Laurence [[HonorBeforeReason goes back to England, fully intending to let them hang him for it]].]]
* ''Literature/TheAssassinsOfTamurin'': Lale is torn between loyalty to her {{Cult}} mother and her lover after she [[BecomingTheMask becomes the mask]].
* Sebastian in ''Literature/TheGardellaVampireChronicles'', whose behavior is ambiguous because [[spoiler: (a) he comes from the Gardella vampire slayer line, and yet (b) has a relative who is a vampire that he is very close to.]]
* In Creator/DanAbnett's TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}} ''Literature/HorusHeresy'' novel ''Horus Rising'', Loken's distaste for lodges springs from the conflicting loyalties and secrecy entailed.
* In ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' [[AlienAmongUs Ax's]] entire character arc is built on this. He is an aristh, the Andalite equivalent of a cadet, and thus the only one of the Animorphs to have prior affiliations. Further, his culture places a very high value on loyalty and service, meaning that even when he learns the Andalite military is doing things that aren't entirely kosher, he is still obliged to support them. And yet, he comes to find himself caring for his human friends, who are at first simple allies of expedience but slowly grow into true companions. This is the mean reason why David is referred to in-series as the SixthRanger rather than Ax - almost every book Ax has in the 54-book run is devoted to this conflict in some way, and it's not until he's given an ultimatum in the second-to-last book that he finally commits himself fully to the Animorphs.
* ''Literature/DaisyMiller'': Winterbourne must choose between Daisy (Rome's local strange girl who has caught his eye) and the approval of his peers (who scorn her for being a [[GoodBadGirl shameless flirt]]).
* In the juvenile novel ''Treegate's Raiders'' by Leonard Wibberley, at the [[UsefulNotes/TheAmericanRevolution Battle of Cowpens]] , upon seeing some highlanders advance one of the title character's men shouts, "Go to the other end of the line, there are Frasers here", thus showing a conflict on both sides between military duty and tribal ties.
* In Creator/JamesSwallow's TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}} Literature/BloodAngels novel ''Deus Encarmine'', Rafen realizes that his brother's transformation is a danger to the Chapter, despite [[IGaveMyWord the oath he swore]] to their father.
-->''My brother is lost to me, and I am caught between [[ThickerThanWater the ties of blood to my family]] and [[FireForgedFriends my duty to the Chapter]]. . . ''
* In ''[[Literature/{{Dragonlance}} Brothers In Arms]]'' one of the commanders mentions that this is why he didn't want to be a knight. He feared the potential for his lord and his god to demand conflicting things of him.
* In ''Literature/WarOfTheSpiderQueen'', half-demon BloodKnight isn't partial about who is giving him orders as long as he can brutaly tear someone to shreds. He is ordered by his mother, the high priestess of Menzoberanzan, to accompany his aunt Quenthel on her quest and follow her orders without question. However, when Quenthel starts to eat herself up with doubt and loses her faith in the Spider Goddess, he is conflicted between his loyalty and his believe that AsskickingEqualsAuthority, which is the foundation for their races entire society. Danifae however, who as a slave is nominally the groups lowest ranking member, proves herself to be a [[ManipulativeBastard Manipulative Bitch]] who plays the game of lying, betraying, and instilling fear like no-one else. [[spoiler:When Jegrred finally switches his loyalty, Quenthel helplessly resigns and doesn't try to stop them, but when she gets all her powers back, she sacrifices him for punishment.]]
* Drives the plot of ''[[Literature/AssassinFantastic On My Honor]]'': the POVCharacter is a DoubleAgent, working as a trusted assassin under a queen while secretly remaining loyal to his homeland. This puts him in a tight spot when the queen sends him to murder the current king of his country...
* In Literature/WarriorCats, the Warrior Code is very strict about inter-Clan relationships to prevent this kind of situation. It is broken many times, though, and results in cats having to choose between loyalty to Clan, family or love.
* This is a common theme in ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire''.
** Throughout the story, Ned always chooses HonorBeforeReason, every time, no matter how much the other choice would help him. But at the end of the first book, he must choose between his honor and his family, the one thing that matters to him more. [[spoiler:He finally decides against honor. It doesn't help.]]
** In order to gain the political support of the Freys, Robb [[spoiler:vows to marry a daughter from the Frey family. However, when he sleeps with a girl while he is pledged to the Frey daughter, he must choose to either keep his vow to marry the Frey daughter or protect the honor of a girl he slept with. He chooses to protect the girl's honor and breaks his oath to the Freys -- resulting in far-reaching consequences.]]
** Jaime Lannister is known across Westeros as the [[TheOathbreaker Kingslayer]] for killing the king he swore to protect. Once the readers get to know him, they learn that Jaime can actually be very loyal, if his loyalty is earned. (Or if [[FoolForLove you sleep with him enough]].) When he killed the king, he chose between his duty to his king and to his father and family. Also, the fact that choosing his family meant saving thousands of innocent lives is what tipped the balance for him. He also debates with a fellow Kingsguard whether their vow to protect the royal family extends to [[MaritalRapeLicense protecting the Queen from the King]].
*** The HBO adaption changes the page quote slightly, making the focus on Jaime's conflicting loyalties even sharper.
---->'''Catelyn:''' You have forsaken every vow you ever took!\\
'''Jaime:''' So many vows. They make you swear and swear. Defend the King. Obey the King. Obey your father. Defend the innocent. Protect the weak. But what if your father despises the King? What if [[TheCaligula the King massacres the innocent]]? It's too much. No matter what, you're forsaking one vow or the other.
** Brienne's level of HonorBeforeReason would confound even the Starks. She takes quite a number of vows, and it's always for a good cause. Protect Renly. Protect Lady Catelyn. Protect Jaime. Bring Sansa home. [[spoiler:Later, she is implied to take another vow: to kill Jaime.]] Not surprisingly, a few of her vows start to conflict after a while.
** Jon Snow gets this a few times. At first, it's always between the Watch and something else: his [[RelativeButton family]] he loves, the girl he loves, his home, his friends. In the first book, he has a conversation with Maester Aemon about this conflict, who once faced the very same situation Jon does. Later, once [[spoiler:he becomes Lord Commander]], it's between his commitment not to interfere in the affairs of the realm and his desire to protect innocents and right wrongs.
** Theon gets trapped between his adopted brother and his birth family.
** Stannis notes this early, describing the difficulty in choosing to side with his brother in the rebellion against the rightful king.
* ''Literature/LesMiserables'': Conflicting Loyalties are build up in a majority of characters (including,but not limited to: Cosette, Jean, Eponine, and Gillenormand). But special notice should be given to Marius and [[spoiler:Javert]]; Marius, because it's his position in the novel, and [[spoiler:Jarvert]] because of the twist. Conflicting Loyalties are a central theme of the novel.
* In Creator/MelisaMichael's ''Skyrider'' series, as tensions heat up between the [[AsteroidMiners belt]] and Earth, Skyrider's primary loyalty is to the belt, but she stayed out of the last war because she has close family still living on Earth.
* A major theme of ''[[Literature/TalesOfTheBranionRealm The Stone Prince]]'', in which a great deal of bloodshed is caused by characters torn between love and duty.
* In the ''Literature/HonorHarrington'' series, many of the Havenite characters experience this between the first and second revolution, when they're forced to deal with the conflict between their duty and honor, the loyalty to their nation, and the demands of serving an increasingly sociopathic dictatorship.
* In the third book of ''Literature/TheQueensThief'' series, Costis finds his loyalty torn between his queen and king. He wonders what he would do if they should ever go against each other.
* At the end of ''Discworld/{{Jingo}}'', Vimes is briefly torn between his loyalty to the law and his loyalty to the Patrician. He picks, as the Patrician knew he would, the law. Anything else wouldn't be Sam Vimes.
* ''Literature/TheReynardCycle'': ''Defender of the Crown'' forces Isengrim to choose between [[spoiler: his friendship with Reynard (who is rapidly approaching the MoralEventHorizon) and his own notions of right and wrong.]]
* Kaladin ends up facing this in ''Literature/WordsOfRadiance'', when his vow to the king he has sworn to protect conflicts with the vows he has made to his men, which include a man who hates the king. [[spoiler:The conflict places him in a situation where he can't act honorably no matter what he does, which kills his honorspren (And with it his Windrunner powers) until he finds a way out of it.]]
* In Literature/{{AncillaryJustice}}, the ship AI Justice of Torren [[spoiler: is made to kill one of its officers by TheEmperor Anaander Miaani, but immediately afterwards turns against him. At the end of the book the entire Radchaai empire faces one when it is revealed that Miaani has a SplitPersonality and is at war with himself.]]
* In the Literature/RachelPengNovels, set in the Webcomic/AGirlAndHerFed universe, Rachel repeatedly has to choose between protecting OACET and obeying the law--and while she tries very hard to make everyone think the law comes first, more often than not OACET wins out.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'':
** A recurring theme for Jaime Lannister all through the series:
*** He provides the trope quote when he points out to Lady Catelyn Stark that the oaths about honoring your family and honoring your King are forced to be helplessly contradictory sooner or later. If you've sworn to defend both the king and the innocent, what do you do when the king massacres the innocent?
*** As he revealed to Brienne, Jaime broke his oath and killed the Mad King when he decided to explode huge quantities of wildfire hidden beneath King's Landing. This action saved 500,000 lives but came at the price of his honor and universal contempt for soiling his office.
*** He faces this dilemma again in Season 4 on his return to King's Landing when he must choose between his brother and the rest of his family when Joffrey dies and Tyrion is arrested and Sansa is suspected and between protecting Sansa - an oath he swore to Catelyn Stark which is complicated by her death and a changed political landscape - and pleasing Cersei. Jaime had also made the decision to honour his Kingsguard vows as best as possible but this is no easy task. He eventually decides to go against his family in secret, giving Brienne help to rescue Sansa, and working with Varys to rescue Tyrion.
** Ned Stark consistently chooses HonorBeforeReason no matter the cost until he must choose between his honour and his other core value: his family.
** Jon Snow is constantly caught between his duty to Night's Watch and family, justice, and love. First he wants to go to war beside his family but he doesn't want to leave the Watch after swearing to serve, then the needs of the Watch require he overlook the crimes of Craster, then he falls in love with a wildling. He is also conflicted between the Watch's purpose and protecting the soft and unreliable Sam. Jon's very conflicted.
** Theon Greyjoy gets caught between the Starks who held him hostage but treat him somewhat kindly and the Greyjoys who despise him as a symbol of weakness and failure. Since he finds he cannot fully be a Stark, he tries to be a Greyjoy, only to realize too late that he chose wrong.
** In one of the ''Histories and Lore'' segments, Stannis describes the choice between his lawful king and his elder brother as the hardest choice he ever made. Since he is both of these to Renly, he views Renly's refusal to support him as doubly treacherous.
** Walder Frey parleys the question of loyalty to the king vs. loyalty to his lord into an advantageous deal with Robb Stark in "Baelor".
** After the invasion of Westeros doesn't go quite as planned, Daenerys accuses Tyrion of deliberately pulling his punches because he doesn't want to kill his family. The truth is more complicated. Tyrion wants Jaime to live (being the only Lannister left who ever actually loved Tyrion), but doesn't give a damn about Cersei, who would kill him on the spot. However, in the Season 7 finale Cersei doesn't have him killed, and he instinctively gives her a goblet of wine to share.
* ''Radio/OurMissBrooks'':
** In "The Big Game", Miss Brooks wants to maintain academic standards . . . but give long-ago Madison football hero Gus Geary his diploma so he can remain Assistant Coach. Miss Brooks [[LoopholeAbuse relies on a loophole]] to [[TakeAThirdOption evade the tricky ethical dilemma]].
** Again, in "The Yodar Kritch Award", Miss Brooks relies upon LoopholeAbuse to give [[DumbJock Bones Snodgrass]] the eponymous award.
* ''Series/{{Smallville}}'':
** This happens to Chloe ''a lot''. During most of the middle seasons she is seriously torn between Lana and Clark, and later between [[AntiHero Oliver]] and [[TheCape Clark]]'s colliding ideals.
** Also between [[spoiler:Davis and Clark, especially when Davis asks her to [[MercyKill kill]] him and Clark asks her not to. Also when she runs away with a resurrected Davis in an effort to stop them from killing each other. There is nothing that could BreakTheCutie as brutally as being caught between [[PhysicalGod Superman]] [[UltimateShowdownOfUltimateDestiny and]] [[InvincibleVillain Doomsday]].]]
* ''Series/{{NCIS}}'': Ziva is torn between her father and Gibbs in the last few episodes of season six. She chooses [[spoiler: her father, after Tony kills Michael and she believes Gibbs no longer trusts her. When her father promptly throws her under a bus when a mission goes south, it's Gibbs and his team who save her, prompting her to revise her earlier decision.]]
* ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries''
** "Amok Time": Captain Kirk must choose between obeying Star Fleet orders and going to Altair VI or taking Spock to Vulcan to save his life, which could result in Kirk being court-martialed.
** Several times Kirk has to decide whether to violate the [[AlienNonInterferenceClause Prime Directive]] in order to save the Enterprise. Each time he goes ahead and breaks it, always coming up with a plausible rationale for doing so. The only time he ever enforces it is when another starship captain violates it.
** In "The Menagerie" Spock shows his loyalty to his former captain Christopher Pike by risking the Starfleet death penalty for taking him to Talos IV. He spends the two-parter torn between his loyalty to Kirk and his loyalty to Pike - committing mutiny against the former to help the latter.
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'':
** At one point, Odo must choose between his loyalty to Starfleet and his feelings towards his race. [[spoiler:He finds it quite easy to chose once he learns what his people are doing. He doesn't hate them or wishes them any harm, [[MySpeciesDothProtestTooMuch but that doesn't mean he is going to let them get away]] with their blatant disregard for Justice]].
** Later Garak and Damar are faced with similar choices.
** Very early in the series, after the episode opens with Bashir and Garak discussing literature and Garak stating he would choose loyalty to the state every time over his personal feelings, later in the same episode he does actually face that choice (he's ordered to kill some dissidents who are under orders of execution by the Cardassian government, but which he personally feels is the wrong decision for the government to have made). Eventually, he chooses his feelings over the state. [[spoiler: his decision is helped by the Gul who is representing the government making the TooDumbToLive decision to try BullyingADragon; Garak implies afterward that this convinced him these dissidents were actually the better choice for Cardassia in the long run.]]
* In ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'', B'Elanna Torres and other members of the Maquis freedom fighters have loyalties that conflict with that of Captain Janeway and the Federation. In particular, the Maquis members on the Voyager want to do whatever it takes to get back to the Alpha Quadrant, but are expected to act in accordance with Federation regulations.
* ''Series/{{Kings}}'', episode "Insurrection". David is sent to his home town by King Silas to convince the locals to accept the decision to give their land away in a peace deal. His family turn out to be the leaders of the protestors.
* ''Series/{{Firefly}}'':
** Simon chooses to rescue his sister, not only against the wishes of TheGovernment but against those of his parents. He also chose her over a [[NobleProfession calling]] he loved which may have been even harder.
** Also, in "War Stories", Mal admits that he was initially against Zoe's marriage to Wash, concerned that it would split loyalties amongst the crew.
** Strongly averted by Zoe in the same episode when given a choice between saving Mal or Wash from torture. [[spoiler:She picks Wash because Mal can take the torture and Wash can't, while Wash's piloting skills will be needed for the team's BigDamnHeroes moment to rescue Mal.]]
* Series/{{Merlin}} is often conflicted at this. Should he protect Arthur or reveal himself as a wizard, where he would be executed?
* ''Series/{{Angel}}'':
** Wesley had this big time in season 3, during the baby Connor storyline. He was struggling over whether to stay loyal to the team and Angel or help the baby even if made the team hate him-which is ultimately what happened. Lampshaded in That Old Gang of Mine. Wes was addressing his speech to Gunn, but it's really easy to tell it was being pointed at Wes himself as well.
** And Gunn, between his own vamp hunting team and Angel's group, in the same episode.
* ''Series/MurderRooms'': during a particularly difficult investigation in "The White Knight Stratagem" Conan Doyle, who serves as a mediator between his friend and mentor Joseph Bell and Bell's old enemy Lieutenant Blaney, grows to sympathize with the latter. Which doesn't make Bell happy, especially considering the fact that Doyle refuses to support his theory on the case and instead, apparently, supports Blaney's. Doyle feels uncomfortable. [[spoiler: In the end it is revealed that Doyle joined forces with the lieutenant only because he suspected that Blaney had something to do with the crime. However, it is likely that Doyle still felt sorry for him.]]
* In ''Series/NecessaryRoughness''
** Danni works as a therapist for the New York Hawks, a football team. As a psychiatrist her primary responsibility is to her patients, the players. However, this can conflict with the wishes of the team's management who want the problem fixed immediately and the players back on the field. When the new manager suggests that Danni break patient confidentiality, she tell him off and [[spoiler: is fired]].
** Nico has to judge multiple instances of this. His loyalty to Danni can conflict with his loyalty to the team. His loyalty to the team can conflict with his loyalty to the team's owner Marshall Pittman. His loyalty to Marshall often conflicts with his loyalty to Marshall's wife and daughter. In season three he gets a whole new set of conflicting loyalties as he has to juggle his loyalty to Danni with [[spoiler: his loyalties to his new bosses in V3 and his loyalty to whoever has him acting as a mole in V3]].
* ''Series/TeenWolf''
** Allison spent most of season two being torn between her family and Scott. It came to a head when she told them [[spoiler: about Jackson being the kanima and then her mom almost killed Scott, only to be bitten by Derek]]. After that, she, under the influence of Gerard, went fully against the wolves until she learned how truly evil her grandfather was.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'': Castiel deals with this during season four. All of his existence, he has been loyal to the orders sent by God through the higher ranks of the angels down to him. However, of late the orders have been increasingly strange and apparently contrary to God's wishes, and he finds himself slowly persuaded by Dean's insistence in the need to protect human life. Should he obey the higher angels, or listen to Dean and do what he was always taught God wanted? [[spoiler:Near the end, he tries to discuss ''something'' with the angels, and is punished so badly he becomes totally loyal to them again. Until the finale, at least, when Dean finally gives him the impetus to Fall for good.]]
* In ''Series/AmericanCrimeStory: The People v. O.J. Simpson'', Robert Kardashian is close friends with O.J., Simpson and even became one of his "Dream Team" lawyers, but over the series, Kardashian began to have increasing doubts about defending his friend, especially after DNA evidence was introduced, which shows that O.J. could be the killer. At the end of the series, Kardashian ends his friendship with O.J. after O.J. announced his intention to search for the real killers. According to the epilogue, they didn't speak to each other again after Kardashian died in 2003.

* ''Literature/TheBible'': The Israelite Prince Jonathan was caught by his insane father's paranoia of Jonathan's [[HeterosexualLifePartners comrade]] David. He chose David.
* Also from the Bible: In [[Literature/TheFourGospels the gospels of Matthew and Luke]], Jesus says "nobody can serve two masters, for you will either love the one and hate the other, or you will be devoted to one and despise the other."

* In Shakespeare's ''Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet'', the eponymous lovers are each torn between their families' warring factions and their intense devotion to each other, especially as the fighting escalates. On a less grandiose level, Juliet's Nurse is torn between wanting Juliet to be happy with Romeo, and wanting her to be happy ''at all''. In the end, she advises Juliet to give up on Romeo and marry Paris, saying that would be the practical option.
* ''Theatre/AntonyAndCleopatra'': A major part of Antony's character. He's stuck between his love for Cleopatra and his duty to serve Rome.
** Enobarbus is also conflicted between his love for Antony and his duty to Rome.
* The ancient play ''Theatre/{{Antigone}}'' is about a woman choosing between law and loyalty to her brother. She chooses [[spoiler:[[DueToTheDead burying her brother]] though it is against the law]], forcing [[spoiler:her uncle to choose between her and the law. He chooses the law]].
** The laws of the gods insisted Polynices be buried; King Creon decreed that he must not be buried because he attacked the city. Antigone chose [[spoiler:gods' law rather then king's law. A priest even calls Creon out on his treatment of Antigone.]]
* Pierre Corneille's plays are full of this. In ''Horace'', Camille has to choose between her Roman brother and her lover, who is fighting against Rome. In ''Polyeucte'', Polyeucte chooses his (banned and persecuted) Christian faith over his wife and country.
* What about Becket? His loyalty is most definitely torn between king and church.
* Billy Elliot the Musical; When Billy's dad (who has been on strike for almost a year) becomes desperate to afford Billy a future, he must choose between breaking strike and betraying the community and his son Tony, or staying on strike and betraying Billy.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Ishtar in ''VideoGame/FireEmblemJugdral'' is torn between her love for her family and the big bad, the reincarnation of the evil god, and what's right. She choose to basically suicide on your army.
** This is often a recurring theme in Fire Emblem games; usually it's an enemy general struggling from his conscience to their loyalty to the nation they serve. It's called the Camus Archetype among fans.
** You also get to experience this decision for yourself in the upcoming game ''VideoGame/FireEmblemFates'', where you must choose whether to side with the homeland you were born in or the country that raised you. You may also TakeAThirdOption.
* The ''Videogame/KingdomHearts'' series has Axel. Although he apparently suffers from ChronicBackstabbingDisorder and has no issues with being a DoubleReverseQuadrupleAgent when necessary, he's shown some capacity to be conflicted in which side to stick with:
** In ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts358DaysOver2'', Axel's friendship with Roxas and Xion conflicts with [[spoiler:his orders by the Organization to [[LetsYouAndHimFight "let things run their natural course"]].]] Even his [[spoiler:friendship with the pair suffers from this trope, as he comes to realize that only one of them can survive, and one of them has to perish to ensure the survival of the other.]]
** In ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'', his friendship with Roxas is again the driving factor of his Conflicting Loyalty. While he has no qualms with his orders to bring Roxas back, he starts to grow disgruntled with his superiors when he is tasked to [[spoiler:eliminate Roxas]]. He eventually [[spoiler:screws over the Organization, and starts working independently]], leading to a TearJerker when he [[spoiler:dies at Sora's side, lamenting the fact that he never got to revive Roxas.]]
* In ''VideoGame/YggdraUnion'', Nessiah's first prerogative may be to ensure the safety and growth of the Gran Centurio, but he's also implied to care fairly deeply for the Imperial Army. When forced to choose between [[spoiler:protecting the Imperial Army by killing the player's army, thus ensuring that the sword's current wielder will die, or joining up with the player to rescue Yggdra and oversee the Gran Centurio's growth personally, he decides to TakeAThirdOption and kills himself to let things play out as naturally as possible. (Which isn't as extreme as it sounds, because Nessiah's pretty nonchalant about dying [[{{Immortality}} for obvious reasons]].)]] This is probably also done to preserve the balance of the game, but Nessiah having conflicted loyalties is the most reasonable explanation in-plot.
* In ''VideoGame/PokemonDiamondAndPearl'', Saturn realizes in the postgame that what he'd been working for was truly terrifying (he tries to tell you that he didn't know what his previous leader, Cyrus, was really after, but he was the first character to tell you the extent of the plan, so either he's lying or he's trying to convince himself that he didn't know). But he still believes in the ultimate ideal, which is a peaceful world. Having been left in charge of Team Galactic by default, he says he's going to try to work for basically what he's always worked for, having realized that "extremism is never the answer".
* Etna from ''VideoGame/DisgaeaHourOfDarkness'' has great loyalty to King Krichevskoy, so great in fact that it remained with her even when she [[spoiler: lost her memory.]] But she also made a promise to him; to [[spoiler: protect Laharl and make sure he become a great Overlord,]] which may or may not be more then Etna can stand.
* This trope is the basis for both Beatrix and Steiner's character development in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX'', where they stand torn between their sworn duty to protect Princess Garnet, and their loyalty to Queen Brahne who means to kill the girl. It's only when they find the queen trying to kill the princess outright that they finally come their senses and [[ScrewTheRulesImDoingWhatsRight rebel]].
* The entire world of ''Franchise/DragonAge'' is designed to create lots of conflicts of interest, which are the main reason for many of the plotlines. But in the [[VideoGame/DragonAgeII second game]], this trope seems to be the primary theme of the whole story.
** Ser Thrask is a templar, whose job it is to monitor mages and prevent them from falling to demons. But he also hates the inhumane treatment many mages see from other templars.
** Aveline's duties as member of the city guard sometimes are at odds with Hawkes activies, who can be a good friend of hers whom she owes her life.
** Isabella asks Hawke to help her find an "artifact" that she was supposed to transport to a crime boss so he calls off the assassins waiting for her in her homeland, while at the same time Hawke is trying to negotiate with the Qunari army to leave the city without causing trouble before rioters start a fight with them. What she neglects to tell Hawke is [[spoiler:the artifact is a holy relic she stole from the Qunari and the army has been in the city causing problems for four years, because they are looking for her and the relic. Which shortly after leads to a full out battle that destroys half the city.]]
** Anders had always had problems with his loyalties, but at the end of the second game, [[spoiler:his conviction that the mages can only be safe if the Templar order is destroyed, leads him to ignore Hawkes attempts to find a diplomatic solution by killing the Grand Cleric, who had always been the only person who could stop both sides from attacking each other. By blowing up the entire temple with a magic bomb.]]
** As a Keeper, Merrill regards it as her duty to restore ancient elven magic, even if the rest of her clan thinks it is madness to get help from demons to repair a cursed magic artifact.
** As tensions between the mages and templars mount, Varric is fully aware that he will have problems with this, though in his case his loyalty is to individual people rather than overarching principles. Summed up perfectly in the following conversation:
---> '''Merrill''': How do you do it, living in the city without picking a side? Doesn't it matter to you?\\
'''Varric''': Of course it does. That's why I don't take sides.\\
'''Merrill''': That doesn't make any sense.\\
'''Varric''': I've got you and Aveline, Fenris and Anders. Hawke. Isabela. I've got friends in the Circle and drinking buddies in the templars. All of them matter.\\
'''Merrill''': But you're going to fight. If it comes to that, I mean.\\
'''Varric''': I fought my own brother, Daisy. Nobody said this was going to be happy story.
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' - Miranda is [[UndyingLoyalty loyal to the end]] for Cerberus, having given up everything so they could protect her from her father. Then Shepard comes along and wins her loyalty by treating her as her own person and helping her out with a personal issue without expecting anything in return. In the endgame, if she goes with Shepard into the FinalBoss area, when forced to choose between Shepard and Cerberus, she chooses [[spoiler: Shepard. [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming Without hesitation]].]]
** In [[VideoGame/MassEffect1 the first game]], Shepard is a Commander in the Systems Alliance Navy (Earth's SpaceNavy) who gets invited to become a Spectre, a special operative serving the will of the Citadel Council (a multi-species governing body for TheFederation, which doesn't yet include Earth). It's ultimately up to the player which organization Shepard is more loyal to. Renegade!Shepard is loyal to humanity alone, and sees the Citadel Council and their resources as a means to an end; Paragon!Shepard wants humanity to ''join'' the Citadel Council, and believes in cooperation between all species. This is highlighted when Shepard must seek the help of several non-human allies--the krogan [[TheBigGuy Urdnot Wrex]], the turian [[SpaceCop Garrus Vakarian]], the quarian [[WrenchWench Tali'zorah nar Rayya]], and the asari [[TheSmartGuy Liara T'Soni]]--to stop the BigBad; some of the ''Normandy'''s crew are uneasy with the new arrivals, wondering whether their Commander is still loyal to ''them''.
** In the first game, [[CowboyCop Garrus]] has trouble reconciling his decision to go rogue and fight alongside Shepard with the [[ByTheBookCop typical Turian ideology]]. He ultimately accepts the fact that he's "not a very good Turian" and settles for being an ''extremely'' good [[TheLancer lancer]] to the galaxy's best chance of avoiding extinction.
* This is ultimately Giygas's undoing in ''[[VideoGame/{{Mother 1}} Earthbound Zero]]''. He's sort of a subverted ''{{Superman}}'', sent to our world as an infant in the hopes that he would grow to conquer it, but he still feels love for the human couple who raised him. [[spoiler:Playing a music box tune that was his childhood lullaby]] is enough to get him to back down.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Solatorobo}}'', [[spoiler:Elh must choose between her duty to seal Lares (which requires the sacrifice of Red) and her loyalty to her friend. She ultimately can't do it and stops the Rite mid-way, unable to bring herself to finish.]]
* In ''VideoGame/AsurasWrath'', Yasha had to choose between his family and his duty to protect humanity from the Gohma, since Deus' plan required Asura (Yasha's brother-in-law) being scapegoated as a traitor and Mithra (his niece) enslaved as the Brahmastra's Mantra-channeler. After witnessing many people suffering after the Gohma's recent attack, Yasha sided with Deus. It got worse for Yasha since his sister Durga (Asura's wife and Mithra's mother) was also killed [[spoiler:though it's unclear whether Deus ordered it or Sergei did it on his own just to anger Asura]]. 12,000 years later, Yasha has to make the choice again when Asura returns, hell-bent on saving Mithra. He initially remains loyal to Deus since he still believes stopping the Gohma is more important than anything. Ultimately, Yasha turns against Deus after battling [[spoiler:Wrath Asura]] helps Yasha realize that if there's even the slightest chance to stop the Gohma without resorting to Deus' horrific plan, then he has to take it.
* A driving force in the plot of ''VideoGame/SleepingDogs'' is how attached undercover agent [[CowboyCop Wei Shen]] gets to the Triad gang he's infiltrating, and whether he'll end up [[BecomingTheMask defecting]] or not.
* A relatively minor example happens in ''Videogame/WorldofWarcraft'' in patch 4.1 Rise of the Zandalari. Following the Cataclysm, the previously player friendly Zandalari trolls have decided that they will rebuild the troll civilization [[JumpingOfftheSlipperySlope at any costs]], to which end they start making alliances with all the various barbaric troll tribes scattered throughout Azeroth, including the Horde aligned Darkspear Trolls,[[spoiler: whose leader refuses the offer in a very much [[CrowningMomentofAwesome awesome]] manner:]]
-->[[spoiler:'''Zandalari Leader''':Vol'jin of the Darkspear. You would turn your back on your own people?\\
'''Vol'jin''': Da Horde is my people. If it be war you bring, den i stand against you.\\
'''Zandalari Leader''': So be it, Darkspear.]]
** One expansion later (in the tie-in book Vol'jin: Shadows of the Horde), Vol'jin's loyalty to the Horde is considerably weakened. [[spoiler: The former Warchief, Thrall, had appointed an unfit replacement (even the replacement '''himself''' thought so), Garrosh, who had always been a reckless warmonger compared to his predecessor's calm, moderate personality. As the months pass, Garrosh becomes more and more unhinged, turning into a dictator with fewer and fewer qualms about executing noncombatants or even fellow Horde members. Thrall's response to this is... nonexistent; nothing is done about it. Vol'jin and Garrosh had never liked each other, and following Garrosh simply attempting to have Vol'jin killed in secret, Vol'jin is again approached by the Zandalari. The troll attempting to recruit him this time is doing so without direct orders to do so, [[WorthyOpponent because she admired the strength it took to defy the Zandalari last time]], and [[SympathyForTheHero she truly believes he's getting a raw deal from the Horde these days]]. [[NoMrBondIExpectYouToDine She holds his friends hostage in order to make him listen to her pitch]], but admits she's willing to defy orders and let them go if it helps sway him. With his loyalty to the Horde at its absolute lowest, Vol'jin is '''actually conflicted''', and spends a long time wondering if taking the Darkspear and joining the Zandalari '''would''' be the right thing to do. [[StupidEvil Of course, when she brings him to her superiors and they spend the entire meeting treating him with scorn]], he makes his mind up in a hurry and just engineers a midnight breakout instead.]]
** And in a straight {{subver|tedTrope}}sion,despite the fact we would expect the mantid to be absolutely loyal to their {{Hive Queen}} by virtue of being a race of {{Bee People}}, the [[PraetorianGuard Klaxxi's]] main goal is to keep in check the [[HiveQueen Mantid Empress]] in the case she ever becomes a threat to the [[BeePeople mantid]] [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy civilization]]. In the game, the current Mantid Empress has become corrupted by the [[EldritchAbomination Sha of Fear]], and has engaged in all sorts of [[TheCorruption morally]] [[WeHaveReserves questionable]] [[OmnicidalManiac activities]] due to it, so it's of no surprise that the Klaxxi want her dead. A better example comes from the backstory of one of the Paragons, whom is noted to not be the first time he has to fight a rogue Empress, altough that particular situation seems to have been much {{gray|andGrayMorality}}er ([[ValuesDissonance by human standards, not mantid]]), he still seems to not have had much of a problem [[IDidWhatIHadtoDo doing what had to be done]]:
-->'''[[NamestoRunAwayFromReallyFast Xaril the Poisoned Mind]]''': How does it feel to go rogue a second time, Swarmkeeper? Your empress was also gripped by paranoia, was she not?\\
'''[[NamestoRunAwayFromReallyFast Hisek the Swarmkeeper]]''': Grand Empress Zek'hara masked her true intentions behind the guise of matronly worry. She claimed her overbearing ways were necessary to protect us.When she tried to forbid [[TrainingFromHell the swarm]], it was to prevent, as she put it, [[WhatASenselessWasteofHumanLife "a senseless loss of life."]]In reality, she was obsessed with control. [[BlueandOrangeMorality She aspired to stay in power long past her time, and was willing to sacrifice our eternal cycle to achieve that]]. [[IDidWhatIHadtoDo We had no choice but]] [[DeadlyEuphemism to end her]]. How does it feel? [[IRegretNothing I have no regrets, if that is what you are asking]]. I am honored to serve the will of the Klaxxi. And having seen what Grand Empress Shek'zeer is doing to our land... [[PayEviluntoEvil I need no convincing]].
* In ''VideoGame/SandsOfDestruction'', Kyrie promises Morte that [[LoveMakesYouDumb he'll help her end the world if that's what she wants]], but after Elephas Rex [[ArmorPiercingQuestion points out that he can't be with her if the world is destroyed]], Kyrie begins to feel an internal conflict between his desire to keep his promise and his desire to keep Morte safe. He ultimately chooses [[spoiler:to save her - and the world - by asking Naja to kill him so he can't lose control of himself. This causes Morte to change her mind and decide that remaking the world is better than outright destroying it, and after finding a way to resurrect him, that's exactly what they set out to do]].
* In ''VideoGame/{{Infernal}}'', Lt. Barbara Mitchell, an [=EtherLight=] member and a friend of Lennox, is with Lennox at a bar when the [=EtherLight=] ambush occurs. She seems to have been ordered to kill Lennox as part of it, but after briefly pointing a gun at him, tells him to run. This conflicting loyalty lingers - she doesn't like what [=EtherLight=] is up to, but isn't keen on Lennox's association with the Abyss, either, wondering if she can still trust him now that he's all demon-y. In the end, she sides with Lennox, although there's a bit of DoubleAgent confusion before that's clear.
* Lancelot in ''VideoGame/{{Guenevere}}'' is (like his [[KingArthur classical inspiration]]) torn between his loyalty to KingArthur and his love for Arthur's wife.
** Guen herself can be played as dutiful and dedicated to being a good wife and queen, but still in love with Lance or Arthur's sister Morgana.
* In the Sith Warrior's story in ''VideoGame/StarWarsTheOldRepublic'', this ends up being the reason that [[spoiler: Quinn betrays you]]. Whether you simply view them as TheMole or as a more nuanced case of conflicting loyalties depends partly on your choices.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* In ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'' for the third route, there's a choice between [[spoiler:killing the innocent Sakura]] or putting hundreds or thousands of lives at risk. The first is Shirou wanting to save as many lives as possible and the second is based on trying to have there be ''no'' sacrifices and everyone be happy instead.
* Comes up a few times in ''VisualNovel/MajiDeWatashiNiKoiShinasai'': [[spoiler: Jun]] between [[spoiler: Touma]] and his own wishes in the Ryuuzetsuran route, Chris between Yamato and [[spoiler: her father]] in her own route, the entire group between [[spoiler: Miyako and Wanko]] in Miyako's route, so on and so forth.
** Miyako seems to act like one at times.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/{{Sinfest}}'', An issue for [[AntiVillain Fuschia]], Baby Blue, and {{Tome|OfEldritchLore}}y. [[spoiler:Or rather, [[HighHeelFaceTurn it WAS an issue for Fuschia]].]]
* In ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' Therkla is ordered by his master Kubota to kill Elan, who she is in love with. Elan successfully persuades her to quit even if he won't be her boyfriend, but she still won't betray Kubota. She tries to convince Kubota to step back because Hinjo already knows everything about his plan, but she also tries to convince Elan not to kill Kubota. Finally, she realizes that she can't have both ways [[spoiler: and sides with Elan. It doesn't end well for her.]]
* Trawn from ''Webcomic/ElectricWonderland'' has to hide MagicalGirl Aerynn Arlia from the police, so that Aerynn won't get arrested for performing witchcraft. Unfortunately, this requires Trawn to act secretive towards one of her other friends, ActionGirl Natasha Wing.
** Natasha tells Trawn that "hypothetically", if she found Trawn harboring an illegal secret, she'd probably have to throw Trawn in jail, even though she can't stand that thought.
* ''Webcomic/{{Erfworld}}'':
** Jillian is in love with [[BiTheWay both Ansom and Wanda]], which is rather awkward when the two are on opposite sides of a war.
** When Wanda begins "decrypting" people (think a creepy form of resurrection) using the divine Arkenpliers, this happens a lot. The decrypted are automatically loyal to her, but retain all their old memories. While they are compelled to serve her above all else, this can cause serious friction with their old Loyalty. Royals especially have trouble, since Wanda is part of a Side that has denied the DivineRightOfKings. [[spoiler:Ossomer]] ends up turning back to his original Side over this.
** Lilith mentions that many of the decrypted archons still love Charlie, their old boss. Since he used the divine Arkendish to pop them, they were loyal to him in the same way that the decrypted are loyal to Wanda; the archons do serve her above all else, but they spend quite a bit of time whispering about what Charlie would have done differently.
** Lilith herself is both a subversion and a straight example; she has no Loyalty left for Charlie, which is why she is happy she is the one he managed to capture. Some of her decrypted sisters still loved him and would have begged to be let back into the fold, and [[spoiler:he would have dissected them anyway]]. Later, Wanda does something very stupid by countermanding one of Parson's orders. When Parson asks Lilith what happened, Lilith thinks to herself that sometimes you don't know which way your Loyalty is going to fall until a choice actually appears in front of you. [[spoiler:Then she tells Parson the truth, that it was Wanda's fault]].
** Bonnie is another subversion. After she gets decrypted, she really hates her new Side, but not because she misses Charlie specifically. She just misses the organization he was able to bring to his Side. It certainly doesn't help that her new Ruler is an idiot, the entire leadership corp is a mess, and everyone keeps insisting that the most important unit is some low-level warlord who managed to get them into two impossible wars at the same time.
* Tyler from ''[[{{Webcomic/Morphe}} morphE]]'' has been kidnapped and forced into learning magic from a charming sociopath who has murdered three people before his eyes. Of course he wants to side with his fellow captives and escape from this torment, he is always there to help them out with all their fact finding and scheming. And yet he would much rather be learning magic, getting closer to his captor and embracing the abnormal mage world instead of escaping to reality with his peers.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Phase of the Literature/WhateleyUniverse. Brought up as an heir in the Goodkind family to hate mutants and know they are a threat to everything one should care about. Then Phase manifests as a mutant and ends up at [[SuperheroSchool Whateley Academy]] and in Team Kimba, where he is expected to support mutants and hate the Goodkind family. He's loyal to his family even after what they did to him. He's loyal to his friends and has risked his life for them.
* An ''WebVideo/EchoChamber'' episode is based on this trope. Dana tries to produce both ''Echo Chamber'' and its rival series ''[citation needed]'' at the same time, hoping she won't be forced to choose between the two shows.
* For the first eight arcs of ''Literature/{{Worm}}'', Taylor struggles between doing the right thing and betraying the only real friends she's has in years, a gang of supervillains that she has infiltrated. [[spoiler:She picks her friends.]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles2003'', Karai's loyalty to the Foot and her father will often clash with her loyalty to the turtles, who helped her restore the Foot when she asked for their aid.
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender''
** There's an example of this in the third season. [[spoiler:Mai has to choose between her love of Zuko and her fear of Azula in "Boiling Rock," and chooses her love of Zuko. When Azula goes to kill her for this, Ty Lee makes a quick choice between her friendship-based love of Mai and ''her'' fear of Azula, and she ''also'' chooses the love. Either Azula isn't really that scary ([[MagnificentBastard which, let's be honest, isn't completely true]]), or both of her friends are much more loyal (to other people) than Azula previously thought.]]
** [[AntiVillain Zuko]] goes through this throughout the entire third season. He's finally got everything he's ever wanted, but he's betrayed the only family who cared for him. Team Avatar, his ''enemies'', care more for him then his father and sister do. And then we find out that [[spoiler:his grandfathers are not just Fire Lord Sozin but also Avatar Roku, splitting him even further. He finally chooses Team Avatar and his uncle - [[ThrowTheDogABone a decision which ultimately pays off in spectacular style]].]]
* Anything involving the Supertrooper project on ''[[WesternAnimation/AdventuresOfTheGalaxyRangers Galaxy Rangers]]'' will send Shane Gooseman, the team's [[TheLancer Lancer]], straight to this trope. Goose was the youngest of the Troopers, and the only one who remained loyal to Earth's government after the disaster that ended the project. His loyalty was [[BeingGoodSucks "rewarded" by BETA]] forcing him into becoming a HunterOfHisOwnKind. It's not so much of an issue with PsychoForHire Kilbane, but a much bigger problem when it came to Darkstar (who just wanted to be left alone with her boyfriend), and Max Sawyer (who may or may not have been guilty of the crimes he was charged with).
* This was exploited in ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeagueUnlimited'' by General Eiling, who used Captain Atom's loyalty to the USA to pit him against Superman while Cadmus tortured the Question for information. Captain Atom got a good beating for his trouble, and went back to the League in short order.
* Kaldur/Aqualad went through this in the ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice'' episode "Downtime", wondering if he should stay on the team or return home to {{Atlantis}} where his crush Tula was. This was eventually resolved when [[spoiler:he found out Tula was already in a relationship with his best friend Garth and he decided to pull an IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy]] and thus return to Young Justice in good terms.
* The ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' villain Discord manipulates Rainbow Dash this way by tricking her into thinking she has to make a choice - stay and play the game by the rules or retake her wings and fly off to save her hometown from being destroyed. [[spoiler:She picks the latter, and Discord uses this as an excuse to declare the game over because ''someone cheated.'' Not that it mattered anyway, as [[MortonsFork regardless of which choice she made]], she'd play into his hand by betraying something she cares about and going against her Element Of Harmony [[XanatosGambit which was Discord's intention]].]]
** ''Rainbow Falls'' has a decidedly less sadistic version where Rainbow Dash is forced to choose between her loyalty to her friends and the Ponyville Team (which, to not mince words, ''sucks''), and her loyalty to the Wonderbolts and their team.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheAvengersEarthsMightiestHeroes'', Ms. Marvel becomes the first superhero to work for two teams: The Avengers and SWORD. This fact comes to a head when Hawkeye becomes accused of being a Skrull in disguise, and Ms. Marvel risks harming her relationships with the Avengers if she turns him in.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Motorcity}}'': While Julie definitely believes in the Burners' cause over that of her ArchnemesisDad Kane's by a long shot, she still wants to believe that her father can be a good person and wants him to be proud of her. [[spoiler:That might be why she agrees to succeed him if something should happen to him.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/StevenUniverse'': Peridot initially cooperates with the Crystal Gems in an EnemyMine because she's in just as much danger from a world ending superweapon called the Cluster as they are. In the process, she grows to like both the Earth and the Crystal Gems, but she never loses her loyalty to Homeworld or her leader, Yellow Diamond. This results in Peridot trying to convince Yellow Diamond to terminate the Cluster and spare the Earth without exposing the existence of the Crystal Gems. When Yellow Diamond fails to be swayed by the objective logic Peridot prizes and reveals that no potential benefit outweighs her desire to see Earth gone, Peridot's conflict resolves itself in the form of her calling Yellow Diamond a clod, Peridot's trademark insult.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* At Noverra in 1499 the King of France was invading Italy and met a local Prince. Both happened to have Swiss [[HiredGuns mercenaries]] and it was decided that [[ThickerThanWater "kinslaying"]] wouldn't do but both [[IGaveMyWord had their contracts]]. The Swiss officers on both sides met secretly. The agreement was that the ones on the Italian side would defer, but that the ones on the French side would spirit the Italian prince away by disguising him as a soldier in a sort of inversion of IAmSpartacus. The French King's general offered gold to whomever would betray the Italian prince and finally one did. This man was [[RewardedAsATraitorDeserves beheaded]] by the Swiss government for disgracing Swiss arms. See ''The Mercenaries'' by Anthony Mockler.
* The Thebans at Thermopylae were a curious clash between one interpretation of PatrioticFervor and another. The Thebans were all exiles, yet stood and fought beside the 300 Spartans. In other words they put the {{honor|BeforeReason}} of their city ahead of the [[ScrewTheRulesImDoingWhatsRight laws]] of their city.
* UsefulNotes/GeorgeWashington in the Whiskey Rebellion. As the hero of the American Revolution, he had a certain sympathy for people revolting against being taxed (particularly as he was himself a rural distiller--albeit one for whom paying the excise was not particularly onerous); as the President of the United States, he had a duty to uphold the Constitution and the laws made under it, including the tax laws. He resolved the conflict by exercising the office of President: as President, he led an army that captured the rebels; as President, he put them on trial for treason; and when they were convicted, as President he [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome pardoned every one of them]].
* In his social history ''A History of Honor'' James Bowman suggests that Western Civilization is based on an uneasy tension between Christian values, old fashioned tribal/aristocratic values (and though he doesn't mention it, or not much, Greco-Roman Civic values) that formed something of a yin-yang which was ultimately quite fortunate. In his opinion the "Victorian Gentleman" was an attempt at compromising between these.
* Many soldiers and sailors fighting for both the Federals and Confederates during the UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar.
** Sam Houston, considered one of the founding fathers of Texas and the 1st and 3rd president of the Republic of Texas (and many other things as well), was forced to resign as governor of Texas when he refused to take the oath of loyalty to the Confederacy. When the US Army offered him a commission to lead an army and stop the rebellion in Texas, he refused. He was very pro-union, but he could not bring himself to cause misery to the people of Texas.
** Robert E. Lee loved the United States and loved Virginia. He was even offered the position that eventually became Grant's during the UsefulNotes/AmericanCivilWar, but turned it down because it meant he'd be attacking his fellow Virginians, who ultimately chose to side with the Confederacy.
* The early days of the Irish War of Independence constituted this for many Irish policemen, who were primary targets of the UsefulNotes/{{IRA}}. As one history book put it "the Irish policemen needed to decide if their loyalty lay with the British who paid their wages, or their fellow Irishmen who were shooting at them". Even more pronounced in the Irish Civil War (which began less than a year after the end of the War of Independence, and was the culmination of tensions which had been building since that time), which, as a result of the split in the UsefulNotes/{{IRA}}, meant that many men who had been comrades only a short time before were now fighting one another. It has been speculated that part of the reason the anti-government forces got such an early foothold was because Michael Collins was unwilling to use maximum force against people who had recently been his close friends.
* In medieval times, it was possible for a minor noble to swear fealty to multiple overlords. To simplify matters when this trope came into play, such fealty contracts would often include statements on the order of "If liege A should go to war against liege B, I shall send X men-at-arms to fight for A, and fight with the rest of my troops alongside B".
* After the [[UsefulNotes/{{Christianity}} Great Reformation]], Protestant monarchs were often suspicious of their Catholic subjects because of conflicting loyalties that could arise between obedience to their king or to UsefulNotes/ThePope.
** This was actually a source of prejudice in the United States against Catholic politicians. During his 1960 campaign for President, UsefulNotes/JohnFKennedy made several statements to reassure people that he was not running to be a Catholic President but a President who was also Catholic, and that neither he nor the Church spoke for one another.
-->"I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party's candidate for president who also happens to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my Church on public matters and the Church does not speak for me."
* Many codes of professional ethics direct their practitioners to avert this trope. For instance, judges are expected to recuse themselves from cases in which they have some tie to one side of the case that might raise questions about their impartiality.