->''"Stay your blade from the flesh of the innocent. The goal of the assassins is to ensure peace in all things."''
-->-- ''Franchise/AssassinsCreed'', [[BadassCreed The Creed of the Assassins]]

Many villains are ruthless and uncaring about the world around them, perfectly willing to hurt innocents to further their gains, but it's not always this way. Sometimes, you'll run across a villain who, while just as greedy and self-serving, still makes sure not to hurt those around him, and is not willing to kill and destroy innocent lives just to get ahead. Offer them infinite power if they'd just kill a single innocent, and expect them to say no; of course, that doesn't mean they won't accept the infinite power if they could get around the whole "killing the innocent" part. These villains are some of the more human villains out there.

Generally, this is shown as villains trying to avoid harming people who aren't involved, and making sure not to kill innocent people. Unfortunately for our heroes, they don't count, so they can expect every weapon at these villains' disposal to be aimed at them.

This is a must for the HitmanWithAHeart an AntiVillain, NobleDemon, or AntiHero, a form of EvenEvilHasStandards, and is a SubTrope of sorts of AffablyEvil. See also ALighterShadeOfGrey, when something like this makes them look good despite [[PayEvilUntoEvil a total willingness to kill the guilty]], and PunchClockVillain, for villains who take this to the next level, and only act villainous because [[MoneyDearBoy it pays the bills]] (though it's not a given that they'll be like this). A BloodKnight may also exhibit this, although in their case it may be more down to innocents never putting up a good fight. Don't expect the OmnicidalManiac and PsychoForHire to adhere to this trope.

Some subtropes denote specific groups or classes of persons as off-limits:
* WouldntHurtAChild -- kids, because ChildrenAreInnocent.
* WouldntHitAGirl -- women. Expect this villain/antihero to be a WifeBasherBasher as well.
* WouldNotShootACivilian -- noncombatants.
* KickThemWhileTheyAreDown -- the injured or incapacitated.
* WouldNotShootAGoodGuy -- those whose opposition is [[WeAreStrugglingTogether honest but misinformed]].

Other common "off-limits" groups include [[TheMedic medical personnel]] (contrast ShootTheMedicFirst) and [[GoodShepherd clergy]].

May be a form of [[HeroicVow Villainous Vow]]. PayEvilUntoEvil is the kind of antagonism permitted to characters following this trope. The {{opposite|Tropes}} of YouCantMakeAnOmelette. This trope is generally ubiquitous in heroes so list villains and antiheroes here.


[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]
* In ''Manga/HunterXHunter'', Zeno Zoldyck is a ruthless assassin and has killed thousands of people in contracts over decades, but is completely unnerved when one of his stronger attacks ends up mortally wounding a civilian in the area and forfeits the job, mentioning he just killed someone unrelated to the job for the first time and is ''visibly upset''.
* Light in ''Manga/DeathNote'' thinks of himself as this; his stated intention is to kill all the criminals in the world to make it safe for innocents. But he's really bad at that in practice. As soon as he hears that L plans to stop him, he shifts right into "all who oppose me must ''die''" mode.
** He manages it alright during the Yotsuba Arc, where it's shown (as if we weren't already aware) that his morals when he doesn't own a Death Note are an almost direct lift from his father -- which brings them both into conflict with L.
* ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'': Just about every major villain to appear generally falls into this. [[spoiler:Chao]] took great pains to see that no one would be injured, and Negi is the only person that she actually fought seriously against. Later on, Fate has stated that he has no desire to hurt anyone except those who are actively opposing his plans, and that the only person he actually wants to kill is Nodoka, as her {{Telepathy}} makes her too dangerous to his plan. [[spoiler: It's actually a bit of a DoubleSubversion, as his ultimate plan seems to be erasing the magic world from existence, but he thinks that [[WellIntentionedExtremist he's doing everybody a favor.]] ]]
** Even the ''demons'' summoned in the Kyoto arc (not counting the Demon God); when they just think they're being sicced on "ordinary teenage girls" assure Asuka and Setsuna that they'll just beat them up; not kill them or anything.
* The two anti-villains of ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'', Greed and Scar fit this. Greed is greedy for followers, so he has no interest in harming innocents. Eventually, he actually tries to save people. This is a sharp contrast to the rest of his siblings. Scar starts off as a SerialKiller targeting only State Alchemists, generally those who fought in and committed genocide during the Ishvallan War, although he also tries to kill [[ChildSoldiers the protagonist]].
* Kanone in ''Manga/{{Spiral}}'' has a strict rule to only kill Blade Children. [[spoiler: This is something that is used by Ayumu to help defeat him. Kanone has amazing reflexes, but he always makes himself pause for a moment to ensure he is not killing a normal human rather than Blade Children. So Ayumu takes advantage of that.]]
* While ''Anime/TigerAndBunny'''s Lunatic will kill criminals and attack people who aid criminals (like, say, heroes trying to prevent his assassinations), he won't hurt someone he sees as innocent according to his moral code. [[spoiler:So when he realizes that Kotetsu has been {{Unperson}}ed and framed for murder, he's the first to help him out]].
* ''LightNovel/ACertainMagicalIndex'': Accelerator, for all his sadism in combat, holds the attitude that innocents should be left out of the conflicts of "the dark side" of the world. His definition of "innocent" is pretty narrow, though. Attack him, however ineffectively, or just be involved in shady dealings, and you deserve whatever's coming to you, as far as he's concerned.
* In ''Manga/YuYuHakusho'', Younger Toguro mostly will not harm innocent humans or demons unless either they go against his master plan, they are contract kills, or they are fighting against him in a competition. But that's only if he's in his more human forms. If he's at more than even 70% power (meaning 70% demon), all bets are off, evidenced by his willingness (almost ''eagerness'') beginning at 85% power to vacuum the souls of apparitions in the bleachers of the Dark Tournament to feed his power even further.
-->'''Toguro (Human Form)''': "I only kill true fighters and job assignments. And you are neither. So run along."
* In ''Manga/KillingBites'', the fact that Hitomi feels guilty about killing [[spoiler:Nomoto (who had been nothing but compliant)]] [[WhatIsThisFeeling surprises even her]]. Being an anti-hero, though, she feels no compunctions about roughing up innocents who are unhelpful or just plain annoying.

* ''ComicBook/XMen'': DependingOnTheWriter, ComicBook/{{Magneto}} can be one of these. It's generally a given that he won't take a mutant life if he can help it, and, if he's one of his less megalomaniacal moods, will avoid attacking humans that aren't his targets or against him (in his other moods, ''all'' humans are his targets).
* Franchise/TheFlash's RoguesGallery is generally made up of people who probably wouldn't make a plan around shooting an old lady crossing the street. Explicitly stated a few times as something of a ''survival strategy''. They really don't expect superheroes to intentionally kill them, but they know being homicidal maniacs will bring more than just the (usually rather reasonable, and sometimes even {{friendly|Enemy}}) Flash down upon them. Many of them are also probably self aware enough to know that their issues combined with killing needlessly would probably land them somewhere like Arkham, and they know they don't want to be cooped up with the kind of people that wind up ''there''.
* DependingOnTheWriter, this can be the case with Comicbook/HarleyQuinn. During her solo series, she never killed cops, guards, superheroes or bystanders, usually leaving them knocked out or BoundAndGagged instead. When she did kill someone, it was usually made clear they were a "bad" person. Other stories, however, do show her taking innocent lives (or at least endangering them), usually at the behest of SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker.
* ComicBook/{{Deathstroke}} is another case of DependingOnTheWriter. During the controversial ''[[ComicBook/TeenTitans Titans]]'' issue where he murdered [[ComicBook/TheAtom Ryan Choi]], Deathstroke notably spared the life of Choi's girlfriend Amanda, stating that she had nothing to do with the battle.
* SelfDemonstrating/{{Deadpool}} criticizes a group of mercenaries who saved him from jail by killing everyone who was guarding him. When they insist it doesn't matter because they're just cops, Deadpool snaps back that they were only trying to protect their people (the town was currently infested with zombies... long story). And then he kills them all and goes on alone.
* [[ComicBook/IncredibleHulk The Hulk]] is like this. He may rage to high heaven and destroy an entire city, but he has never killed anyone deliberately... or even ''accidentally!'' [[NoEndorHolocaust Best not to think about the latter too much.]] Comicbook/{{Ultimate|Marvel}} Hulk is, quite graphically, as far from this as you can get. Then came the "Heart of the Monster" story arc in ''Incredible Hulks'' when he wound up in the Dark Dimension. Where ''no one'' is innocent. And his ex-wife and his worst enemies were there too.
* ''Franchise/SpiderMan''
** ComicBook/{{Venom}}, DependingOnTheWriter. Even during those times, though, even if he'd never hurt anyone ''he decided'' was innocent, it's hard to know who will or won't fit the criteria (due to his being AxCrazy, if less so than ComicBook/{{Carnage}}.)
** Demogoblin, a demonically possessed variant of the Green Goblin/Hobgoblin/etc. was out to kill all sinners in the world. His final death was saving a mother and child from a collapsing church.
* The ComicBook/TeenTitans foe Cheshire started off like this. One ''ComicBook/ActionComics'' story had her assuring a BoundAndGagged hostage that she had no intention of harming him, since she just needed him out of the way for a little bit in order to kill her real target.
* In [[ComicBook/ThePunisherMAX the MAX series]] at least, this is one of the reasons ComicBook/ThePunisher is an [[AntiHero Anti]] ''[[AntiHero Hero]]''. He takes great pains to avoid civilian casualties while he's gunning down dozens of {{mooks}}, and at one point he nearly kills himself because he thinks he shot an innocent. [[note]] The innocent was already dead, and the situation was set up so that he would think he killed her. Castle only realizes this when he exhumes the corpse after "seeing" her and compares the bullet wound to his weapon.[[/note]] The mainstream Punisher, [[DependingOnTheWriter depending on who's writing him]], is portrayed as trying to not kill innocent civilians or the superheroes who try to stop him. Of course, other writers have had him attempting to gun down jaywalkers. [[spoiler: And he did kill off his sidekick's girlfriend while brainwashed, though at an earlier time, being ordered to kill ComicBook/SpiderMan (an innocent) broke the brainwashing a different villain subjected him to.]] [[note]]In one of his earliest appearances, it's said that he had vowed to turn himself in if he ever killed an innocent. In the final story arc of his original series, he nearly goes through with it too after accidentally gunning down a family (it was later {{retcon}}ned that he wasn't the one who killed them).[[/note]]
** During the ''ComicBook/WelcomeBackFrank'' arc, Frank runs into a trio of vigilantes who use him as a role model. Trouble is, Elite's only interested in keeping filth (read:non-WASPs) off his streets, the Holy is a religious lunatic, and Mr. Payback unloaded a heavy machine gun on full-auto into a boardroom of CorruptCorporateExecutives... and shot a cleaning lady when the bullets kept going. So Frank just kills them all.
* Skurge the Executioner fought on the side of evil in an effort to [[LoveMakesYouEvil win the love]] of Amora the Enchantress. However, he was brave and noble, and never attacks anyone besides his target. In one story, [[ComicBook/TheMightyThor Thor]] realized the Skurge he was fighting was an imposter because the fake slapped a child in his path. In ''WesternAnimation/TheSuperHeroSquadShow'', he surrenders when he accidentally knocks a frozen solid Valkyrie off a building, where she would have shattered if Thor hadn't caught her.
--> '''Skurge''': (while using a heat blast to defrost Valkyrie) "My mad love for Amora almost cost an innocent's life!"
* In ''Comicbook/BlackMagick'', backmatter of the first issue shows that, though Aira [[TheWitchHunter has no compunctions about hunting and executing people that use]] BlackMagic, their members are taught that they cannot succumb to zealotry or paranoia: They have to make sure the witches they are executing ''are'' witches to be executed. They force themselves to watch the Catholic Church [[BurnTheWitch burn an innocent girl]] so that they know the risks of allowing themselves to convict an innocent.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''FanFic/{{Fade}}'': Light invokes this, as he knows that if he were subvert it for ''any'' reason, his likelihood of becoming like the Kira in the story increases. L, on the other hand, is worse than canon!Light in this regard. Whereas almost all the innocent people canon!Light killed were people opposing him, L has no issue killing random people off the street to achieve his goals.

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* In ''Disney/AladdinAndTheKingOfThieves'', Cassim reveals that he added this to the code of the Forty Thieves after becoming their leader.
* In ''WesternAnimation/BatmanUnderTheRedHood'', the Red Hood warns all of the drug dealers in Gotham to pay up to him and to not sell to children, before showing them [[DecapitationPresentation the heads of their top dealers in a duffel bag]].

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* Ken, Ray and Harry from ''Film/InBruges'' are very specific about never killing anyone who is innocent (particularly notable with Harry since he is otherwise quite [[TheSociopath sociopathic]]). At one point, Harry is very careful not to shoot in a crowded area, and both he and Ray adamantly refuse to fight with a pregnant woman standing between them. [[spoiler: When Harry believes himself to have accidentally murdered a child at the end, he immediately [[DrivenToSuicide commits suicide]] because he considers what he has done to be unforgivable.]]
** They ''mostly'' adhere to this. Given their {{profession|alKiller}}, it's more like never hurt an innocent without a "good" reason. ''Children'' are the main way it's played completely straight - [[spoiler:while the story is the result of Ray accidentally killing a child, and Harry commits suicide because he ''thinks'' he did, the child Ray killed was behind his target, a priest who just got in the way of Harry's business.]] Ray does assume he was following this fairly closely until he finds out about that, though.
* ''Film/InsideMan'': The robber running the bank job will not hurt anyone who doesn't force him to do so, kills no one, and is actually trying to bring down someone who ''did'' kill many innocents.
* ''Film/JohnQ'': The only thing the main character cares about is his son, and has no intention of killing anyone.
* In ''Film/{{Jumanji}}'', EgomaniacHunter Van Pelt is summoned by the game to hunt Alan, who rolled him up -- but, as it turns out, ''only'' Alan. Van Pelt can't or won't directly harm anyone else (and {{lampshade|Hanging}}s this), though he has no compunctions on collateral damage in the process of slowing Alan down, as long as nobody else gets anything worse than an inconvenience.
* ''Franchise/{{Predator}}'': The Predator species generally avoids killing unarmed opponents, since they considered it poor sport. This also includes weak prey such as pregnant women, children, and cancer-afflicted humans. Only when they actively pose a threat anyway do the Predators consider them fair game.
* Leon, ''Film/TheProfessional'', has very simple rules about his clients: "No women, no kids, that's the rules."
* ''Film/TheRock'': Francis Hummel he takes innocents hostage and threatens to launch a chemical strike at UsefulNotes/SanFrancisco, but he refuses to harm any of his prisoners and deliberately sabotages his own missile launch to avoid civilian casualties. And just before he takes over Alcatraz, he has a bunch of kids on a field trip and their teacher get out of the complex.
* ''Film/{{Scarface 1983}}'': One of Tony Montana's good traits. He blew the brains out of an assassin he was supposed to drive around because he was willing to kill the target's wife and children just to get him.
* In ''Film/Terminator2JudgmentDay'' John Connor tries to get the T-800 to do this by asking him not to kill anyone. The terminator [[ExactWords complies]] by shooting a security guard in the knees. When John protests the Terminator coldly responds "He'll live."
* In the ''Film/XMenFilmSeries'', as above, Magneto is usually like this. In ''[[Film/XMenTheLastStand Last Stand]]'' a family are trapped in their car when the bridge is moved, and once it is moved, Magneto notices them, frowning in surprise. The mother locks the door and he turns away smiling. He also seems not to toss that particular car, and with a couple of notable exceptions (Rogue and possibly the policemen guarding Mystique), most of the people he kills are cases of JerkassVictim (e.g. the security guard and Stryker). The exception is attempting to turn Stryker's plan in ''Film/X2XMenUnited'' around to kill all non-mutants, though [[AMillionIsAStatistic that was more impersonal]].
* Since the Jedi in ''Franchise/StarWars'' are peacekeepers this is a natural rule for them. They have respect and compassion for all life and frown upon hurting the innocent, unlike their {{Evil Counterpart}}s the Sith.
* ''Film/SilentNightDeadlyNight'': Billy goes on a rampage to punish those who are naughty, while leaving those who are deemed nice alone.
* In ''Film/TheStarChamber'', Hardin refuses to see two men die who are innocent of murder, although they're possibly guilty of others (it's shown they ''have'' committed serious crimes, though murder is not shown to be one.) Caulfield, on the other hand, argues they can't risk exposing themselves and have to pursue the greater good-plus as stated the criminals were guilty of ''something,'' in an impromptu debate on morality.
* Never outright stated, but implied in ''Film/JohnWick''. During the club scene, John avoids several shots at Iosef that would risk hitting bystanders or Iosef's HumanShield. Later on, when invading Viggo's stash of blackmail information, John shoots all the guards without a second thought, but lets the two helpless secretaries working there leave unharmed.
* ''Film/TheGodfather'':
** The film opens with Don Vito hearing the laments of a man who feels cheated by the justice system. Vito refuses the man's request to assassinate the men who crippled his daughter on the grounds that, as his daughter is still alive, it would be unjust.
-->''We're not murderers, in spite of what this undertaker says.''
** Michael Corleone is somewhat more lax in his standards of justice than his father, but at least in ''Part I'', his victims are still [[AssholeVictim all more evil than he is.]] [[spoiler:[[TookALevelInJerkass Less so]] in ''[[Film/TheGodfatherPartII Part II]]''.]]
* Zig-zagged in the ''Franchise/{{Hellraiser}}'' films. On the one hand, in the [[Film/HellboundHellraiserII second film]], the demonic [[OurDemonsAreDifferent cenobite]] Pinhead protects a psychiatric patient who was manipulated into summoning him via an ArtifactOfDoom, saying "It is not hands that summon us; it is desire." On the other hand, the cenobites generally don't mind doing horrible things to humans who slip into the "collateral damage" category.
* Most of [[BigBad Simon's]] soldiers in ''Film/DieHardWithAVengeance'' follow this, as they go out of their way to take down police and civilians non-lethally, express concern over one of their disabled bombs being "found by some children", and Simon's infamous "[[EvenEvilHasStandards Of course not; I'm a soldier, not a monster]]" response when it's found out the "bomb" he left in the school was merely a distraction filled with corn syrup. Keyword being ''most'': one of his goons gleefully guns down a cop (and is immediately chastised for it), of course his [[TheDragon Dragon]] / [[UnholyMatrimony Love Interest]] is a batshit insane murderous KnifeNut, and [[spoiler:Simon himself will gleefully kill an innocent for getting in his way too much or [[ItsPersonal being friends with the "dumb Irish flatfoot who threw his brother out a window"]]]].
* ''Film/BatmanVSupermanDawnOfJustice'': Batman's moral code more closely follows this than a standard ThouShallNotKill belief system, as he doesn't seem to be concerned with saving criminals from collateral damage like explosions. The horrifying realization that Superman was RaisedByHumans and his adoptive mother is being used as a hostage over him (along with the fluke of both their mothers having the same first name) is what gets him to realize that Superman is an innocent and ''not'' a threat to humanity.

* ''Literature/ArtemisFowl'': When Artemis is accused of being just as bad as the current villain, he uses this trope as a defense.
* ''Literature/TheThrawnTrilogy'':
** Commander Thrawn tries not to kill anyone who isn't his enemy. He'll fire at Vagaari ships, which have [[HumanShield Living Shields]], saying that they are already dead; if the Vagaari's tactics don't kill them in this battle they will die in the next, and [[ShootTheDog stopping the Vagaari now will save more people in the long run]], but he's unhappy about doing this, and makes plans to avoid it in the next engagement. This may be an extension of his species' brand of [[MartialPacifist Martial Pacifism]], although Thrawn himself ignores their rules whenever they're inconvenient. He is deeply, deeply unhappy about what happened to the 50,000 innocents on Outbound Flight.
** In ''Literature/OutboundFlight'' he's about as non-evil as Thrawn gets. In later-set novels, while his plans and tactics show him to be ALighterShadeOfGrey and he avoids killing innocents when possible, he's very much more pragmatic.
** The stormtroopers who later formed the [[Literature/{{Allegiance}} Hand of Judgment]] got in trouble with the Imperial Security Bureau because at least one of them refused to shoot unarmed civilians, never mind that they were supposedly Rebels. This led to him semi-accidentally killing the ISB officer who confronted him with a blaster, which led to him and his friends deserting. That same stormtrooper, [=LaRone=], who aimed to miss ended up being the leader of the group; another of them explains how, ending with the fact that refusing to kill innocents gives him the moral high ground. Confused, [=LaRone=] says that he thought all of them did that, and he is told "I obeyed orders."
* ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'': One of the things that makes "Gentleman" Johnny Marcone a NobleDemon (despite being TheDon of UsefulNotes/{{Chicago}}) is the fact that he goes out of the way to ensure children never suffer the ill effects of his "business". If someone in his organization hurts or sells drugs to a child, God help them. In at least one instance, he goes out of his way to help Harry when he finds out that a child is going to be part of a ritual HumanSacrifice.
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}''
** ''Discworld/GoingPostal'': This is something Moist von Lipwig prides himself on. {{Subverted|Trope}} when Pump 19 tells him that Moist's cons and scams, while not hurting anyone directly, have caused harm equivalent to the murder of [[LudicrousPrecision 2.338]] people. This is brought home when he learns that a previous job of his working to defraud banks working with bonds and letters-of-rights made his love interest lose her job. In the TV adaptation, the number of people Moist "killed" increases to 22.8 and his fraud causes the bankruptcy of his love interest's family (and gave the book's BigBad the opening he needed).
** The members of the Assassins Guild could be argued to fit this trope. They would never kill (or ‘inhume’ as they call it) someone unless they are paid to do so and the victim (client) must have a sporting chance. They won’t take out a contract on someone who can’t defend themselves but if you can afford a bodyguard then you’re automatically deemed able to do so. They prefer to inhume their clients at their place of work or at home rather than the street. Although it’s accepted for them to inhume a client’s bodyguard or another assassin while performing their service, they wouldn't dream of killing an innocent maid who just happened to be in the house at the time. They are polite, efficient and will even clean up afterwards.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Dexter}}'': Dexter makes a point of only killing other serial killers. Even apart from the Code of Harry forbidding him to harm innocent people, he's disgusted by the idea that anyone could harm children, though for the most part he kills other murderers because it causes less trouble with the authorities when they go missing or turn up dead that out of any true condemnation of their activities, though that does occur on occasion.
* Sylar in ''Series/{{Heroes}}'' has made it clear that he doesn't just kill people for fun - only if he needs their powers. On the other hand he has also made it very clear that he ''does'' enjoy killing people - even continuing to mutilate his victims after figuring out how to replicate their powers without doing so and commentating that he almost forgot what fun it was. Apparently the thrill of it is not enough to go after ordinary, and therefore useless, people though. In season 1, when Sylar first comes to the [[spoiler: (incorrect)]] realization that he is the bomb that will blow up UsefulNotes/NewYorkCity and kill half the population, he goes through utter turmoil, asking Mohinder for help. According to him, he only kills because he sees it as an evolutionary imperative that he acquires new powers. He only kills evolved humans who have powers he wants. He does not want to kill 4 million regular humans. [[spoiler: He eventually gets over it after (inadvertently) killing his mother.]]
* From ''Series/TheWire'', Omar Little, badass {{Gayngster}} extraordinaire, has a code of honour that includes only robbing [[KarmicThief other criminals]] and never stealing from or harming anyone who isn't a part of The Game. "[[EvenEvilHasStandards A man got to have a code]]."
-->'''Omar:''' Don't get it twisted, I do some dirt too, but I ain't never put my gun on nobody who wasn't in the game.
* Boss Hogg in ''Series/TheDukesOfHazzard'' never hurts innocent people. Sorrell Booke, the actor who portrayed him in the series, only agreed on the condition the character wouldn't do certain things. Hurting innocents was the most known item on the list.
* In the ''Series/DoctorWho'' episode [[Recap/DoctorWhoS33E3ATownCalledMercy "A Town Called Mercy"]] The Doctor finds a town besieged by a cyborg gunslinger who keeps supplies from arriving and demands one occupant. When confronted by The Doctor, the cyborg confesses his strategy is to prevent others from getting in the way. Eventually, however, the gunslinger concedes that he needs to take a more direct approach [[spoiler: which he re-evaluates on realising he is pointing his ArmCannon at a child. He leaves the town without harming anyone.]]
* ''Series/TerminatorTheSarahConnorChronicles'': Cameron, being a good robot, is expected to avoid hurting innocents (although her definition of a non-innocent is [[WhatTheHellHero sometimes called into question]]). However in one episode a bad robot is attempting to "kill" Cameron, and the fight continues in an elevator, but suddenly both combatants -- including the bad robot -- suspend their battle when an innocent bystander briefly boards the elevator. Possibly that had more to do with preserving the {{masquerade}} than anything else, at least on the other Terminator's part.
* In an odd move for a character who is essentially a [[SlasherMovie Slasher]], the Red Devil from ''Series/ScreamQueens2015'' is very strict on who he kills, limiting himself to members, pledges and employees of Kappa Kappa Tau. As long as you have nothing to do with KKT and avoid direct confrontations [[spoiler: (e.g., trying to usurp his place as mascot, like Coney; or directly challenging them to a fight, like the Dickie Dollar Scholars)]], you will likely survive a run-in with the Red Devil. For example [[spoiler: he knocks out Pete when he catches him snooping in the dean's office, but just does the equivalent of letting him off with a warning]].
* In a non-violent example, [[ManipulativeBastard Malcolm Tucker]] from ''Series/TheThickOfIt'' states that he never targets "real people", although his actions at one point inadvertently cause [[spoiler: Mr. Tickell to commit suicide.]]

* OlderThanFeudalism: In the ''Theatre/{{Antigone}}'', Creon stubbornly insists on punishing Antigone even when it's clear that this will do more harm than good, but relents from punishing Ismene once he realizes there's no evidence she was involved in her sister's crime.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* This is one of the main tenets of the ''Franchise/AssassinsCreed''. Altair's disregard for innocent lives and arrogance led to him being stripped of his rank within the Assassin Brotherhood. In-game, harming civilians will cause the player to desync, since none of the playable assassins killed civilians. Averted with Shay Patrick Cormac of ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedRogue'', who as an Assassin turned Templar has no such compunctions.
** While being able to kill civilians in ''Rogue'' makes no sense at first, given that Shay leaves the Assassins precisely to avoid innocent bloodshed, it starts to make sense when you remember that [[spoiler:Shay unwittingly caused the Lisbon Earthquake, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people, which is what caused him to leave the Brotherhood]]. He has, in a way, already killed civilians, so the Animus doesn't desync you if you do it.
** Also averted in ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedIVBlackFlag'' where, when you sink civilian fishing boats, the game just states that Edward Kenway did not kill civilians without desyncing. Justified in that he only joins the Assassins' Order later. In a later mission, however, Edward has to sneak through an Assassin village without killing any of the Order guards.
* ''VideoGame/{{Hitman}}'': It varies. While Agent 47 is very much into PayEvilUntoEvil, he only cares about his contract, and will kill innocent people if he's paid to. That said, for the sake of professionalism and avoiding unwanted attention 47 canonically avoids killing civilians and at most will simply knock them out.
* ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'': Lancer, mostly, [[BloodKnight because innocents are no fun to fight]]. He still 'silences' Shirou when the latter ends up causing a masquerade violation, but clearly [[DirtyBusiness doesn't like having to do it]].
* In ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'', [[KnightTemplar Justicar]] Samara's code prevents her from ever hurting an innocent person, even if she must allow a criminal to escape in order to prevent it. Apparently, this tenet of her code is overridden if that innocent person poses any threat to the Justicar herself or attempts to impede her investigations, though Samara is willing to exploit loopholes in her code to take alternate options when she can. It's more like they're no longer "innocent" [[WellIntentionedExtremist if they are impeding the work of a justicar.]]
* In ''VideoGame/TheGodfather: The Game'', while you can freely indulge in VideoGameCrueltyPotential while free-roaming, some missions ask you not to kill innocents. Inverted in one contract hit, where you need to [[LeaveNoWitnesses ensure there are no witnesses]] for the Respect and monetary bonuses - guess what?
* In ''VideoGame/ScarfaceTheWorldIsYours'', Tony says that he cannot hurt civilians when he attempts to shoot one. However, he can still punch them and run them over with a car.
* ''VideoGame/{{Thief}}'': Garret may be a thief and an outlaw, but he does not look kindly on harming innocents. Oh, the player may still [[VideoGameCrueltyPotential do it]], but it's considered a bad mark by the game.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Borderlands 2}}'', Krieg's [[SplitPersonality personalities]] have a simple agreement: the psycho side of Krieg [[PayEvilUntoEvil can kill as many evil men]] and [[DeathWorld savage beasts]] as he wants, so long as he stays his wrath from the innocent. If the murderous side does harm an innocent, the moral half of his mind will take control and force them to immediately commit suicide.
* The Gerudo race in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime'' are an all female race with their only male being [[BigBad Ganondorf]]. They are DesertBandits that will steal from people, but they absolutely refuse to rob and/or harm women and children. Ganondorf, who is the leader of the Gerudo, has no problem hurting and stealing from anyone, which includes women and children. Nabooru, the 2nd in command of the Gerudo, is absolutely disgusted by Ganondorf's lack of moral code and is willing to help Link overthrow him.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In the inn scene of ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'', the assassins who are after the king of Nowhere try to avoid hurting anyone who is not involved. Too bad they think that Roy is the king of Nowhere, due to WhosOnFirst problems.
* In ''Webcomic/SchlockMercenary'', [[http://www.schlockmercenary.com/2001-08-16 Tagon]] is faced with the choices of revealing [[spoiler:the Gatekeepers are copying people using wormhole gates and then interrogating the copies, killing the copied people once the interrogation is finished]] and starting a war that would lead to the end of galactic civilization, or remain silent and let [[spoiler:the gate clones]] continue to be killed, both of which result in massive loss of innocent lives.[[note]]Admiral Breya suggests [[TakeAThirdOption a third option]], when Tagon discusses the choices with her.[[/note]]
* Silvah of ''Webcomic/{{Inverloch}}'' is extremely reluctant to harm Lei'ella because he can effortlessly defend himself and he doesn't feel any enmity towards the Severed elves. He only stabs her when Raul points out her limited sense could still unravel their EvilPlan, but he's clearly pleased when he senses that she's been healed and refuses to go back and finish her off. The plan itself is not to directly kill anyone, either, despite being motivated by YouKilledMyFather. [[spoiler:Rather, it's to turn the elves mortal and magicless like other races.]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Dr. Horrible of ''WebVideo/DoctorHorriblesSingAlongBlog'' is this way, at least at first. He refuses to fight a hero in a park because children play there (well, that and he doesn't have time to fight every "poser in a parka"). He also tells a room full of civilians to flee before he tries to off the hero, Captain Hammer. Plus the fact that he never really crosses over the MoralEventHorizon completely shows that, even after [[spoiler:getting a seat on the Evil League of Evil]], he still has problems with truly hurting innocents.
* Agents in the ''WebOriginal/ProtectorsOfThePlotContinuum'' generally try to either recruit non-Sueish bit characters or let them assimilate into the canon. They also tend to do their best to [[WouldntHurtAChild save]] [[ChildrenAreInnocent Sues' kids]].
* WebVideo/TheNostalgiaCritic has a breakdown when his anger over ''WesternAnimation/QuestForCamelot'' makes him accidentally kill Film/MaryPoppins, Creator/DickVanDyke and MickeyMouse.
* Deathstroke, the BigBad of series one of ''ComicBook/{{Nightwing}} The Series'' (found [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o297A1wmys0 here]]), has this as one of his redeeming traits. In his EstablishingCharacterMoment, he forces his way into Senator Hamilton Hill's re-election fundraiser and starts a fight with his bodyguards, then appears to take aim at a singer across the room only to shoot an armed guard behind her, allowing her and the rest of the party to leave unharmed. Later, when storming a nightclub to kill a target, he scares everyone out, bar one man that [[BullyingADragon tries to hit him with a glass bottle]] and gives Nightwing the opportunity to leave (which he naturally doesn't accept). [[spoiler:It later turns out that his superiors ordered him to murder children, and this is one reason why he is so hellbent on revenge]].
* In ''WebAnimation/{{RWBY}}'', [[spoiler:Blake]] defected from the White Fang terrorists upon realizing that they would kill civilians. She describes this trope as the difference between activism and terrorism.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'': A non-villainous example appears in "[[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS1E5GriffonTheBrushOff Griffon the Brush Off]]". Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash have a fun day pulling practical jokes on their friends in Ponyville, except for Fluttershy, whom they leave undisturbed because she's too innocent and sensitive for their pranks.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Phantom 2040}}'': Poignantly, TheDragon cyborg Graft stopped a fight he was winning when a kid got endangered.
* Sandman in ''WesternAnimation/TheSpectacularSpiderMan'' was never truly malevolent, he was just in the villainy game for the money, and hoped having powers would finally get him the "big score" he always wanted. In episode 18, he helped save the passengers of a ship about to explode. A ship he was trying to rob until his fight with Spidey started a fire.
-->'''Spider-Man:''' Sandman, stop! You... [''watches Sandman place the crewmen he'd grabbed into the life rafts''] ...saved them?
-->'''Sandman:''' I was just in it for the bucks. I never meant for this to happen.
* [[BadassNormal Red X]] from ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' seems to follow this principle--and it even applies (in a general sense) to the heroes. He's perfectly willing to [[CurbStompBattle curbstomp]] them and [[YouFightLikeACow taunt them about it]], but he's [[AntiVillain not trying to kill them]] and refrains from [[KickThemWhileTheyAreDown attacking them when they're down]]. Similarly, he's quite happy to [[GentlemanThief steal expensive items from corporations]], but when a [[MadScientist supervillain]] threatened the city with a [[DisintegratorRay disintegrator cannon]] and ComicBook/{{Robin}} almost fell to his death, Red X chose to [[BigDamnHeroes save Robin's life and help him defeat the supervillain]] rather than make a clean getaway.
* Non-villainous example happens in the ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'' episode "[[Recap/JusticeLeagueS2E9And10HeartsAndMinds Hearts and Minds]]". While the Flash and Kilowog are searching John's apartment for his lantern battery, they're interrupted by John's rather paranoid landlady "armed" with a mop. Since Flash would clearly hurt her if he made any resistance to her "attacking" him, all he can really do is block her blows with his arms until Kilowog finds it so they can leave quickly, apologizing on the way out.
* ''WesternAnimation/XMen'' cartoon had Magneto take this role twice. The first is when he constructed an orbital safe haven for mutants and armed it with enough nuclear missiles to wipe out all life on Earth. Even he however, is disgusted when he finds that Fabian Cortez fired off one of the missiles at Earth with the intent of kill normal humans simply because he hates them that much. Later in the end of season four during a VillainTeamup with [[OmnicidalManiac Apocalypse]], he works with and then turns on him when he finds that Apocalypse' plan involved wiping out the whole of reality so he could recreate it in his own image, berating him a plan that would kill "the innocent along with the guilty." Even Apocalypse' minion Mystique turns on him by that point. Magneto [[WrongGenreSavvy expected]] [[MeaningfulName Mr. Sinister]] [[GoodCannotComprehendEvil to also have standard regarding the plan]]. He didn't. In both cases, Magneto having standards prompts a HeelFaceTurn.