[[quoteright:300:[[Literature/TheBible http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/eve_apple2.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:300:Mmmm ... it ''does'' look like such a delicious apple ...]]

Ever since the dawn of humanity people have wrestled with their ethical dilemmas - to [[AsTheGoodBookSays eat that delicious fruit]] despite God telling you not to, to [[IfYouKillHimYouWillBeJustLikeHim kill someone who has threatened you]], or to [[CowardlyLion help someone at the possible cost of your own safety]]. There's no choice more eternal and more obnoxiously inescapable as the moral dilemma, and that's why it's been featured in every kind of media ever created. [[SpaceWhaleAesop Even the ones that wouldn't normally apply]].

'''The main kinds of moral dilemmas are:'''

[[index]]
* SadisticChoice: Having to choose between two immoral actions.
* IfYouKillHimYouWillBeJustLikeHim: Having to choose between killing a villain or sparing him.
* ToBeLawfulOrGood: Having to choose between the law and personal morals.
* FriendOrIdolDecision: Having to choose between someone you care about and your mission.
[[/index]]

Naturally, the 'right' choice (if there [[AboveGoodAndEvil is one]]) will vary depending on the [[SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism tone of the work]], the [[CharacterDevelopment character in question]], the [[ShadesOfConflict morality involved]], the [[WhatTheHellHero reactions of the characters or audience]], the [[ValuesDissonance morality of the culture]], and much, much more. To say that the possibilities are endless is an understatement (even if you TakeAThirdOption).

Of course, that's not to say that not all those possibilities are equal. A MoralDissonance can result when a character is hailed for making the 'right' choice when it wasn't right at all. Or a dilemma can seem false and contrived when a character agonizes over killing the BigBad but had no such problem [[WhatMeasureIsAMook killing random Mooks]]. Or the audience themselves might [[BrokenBase dispute the character's decision]] and wish they did something [[CompletelyMissingThePoint 'more awesome/badass']]. Or the character might make a choice that's completely OutOfCharacter to their previous characterization.

Unsurprisingly, moral dilemmas are rich with {{Aesop}}s. There's always a lesson to be learned if someone [[GoodFeelsGood makes the right choice]] - or makes the [[NiceJobBreakingItHero wrong choice and screw themselves over]]. There can be an {{Aesop}} to be learned just by the moral dilemma itself; obviously someone wouldn't be torn over whether or not to cheat unless they thought cheating was okay on some level.

And since there's always a lesson to be learned, moral dilemmas are major turning points for character development. A hero character that ultimately chooses to do something immoral may shift into an AntiHero or go [[JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope jumping off the slippery slope]] entirely. A villain who chooses to do the right thing can be elevated to a NobleDemon or even [[HeelFaceTurn redeem himself]] - because sometimes EvenEvilHasStandards.

Expect a [[GoodAngelBadAngel good angel and bad angel]] to appear on a character's shoulders to debate the dilemma.

Moral dilemmas may also not apply to people who consider themselves [[{{Ubermensch}} above such petty things]].

'''No examples please! Place examples in the specific moral dilemma trope itself.'''
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