-> '''She-Force:''' You should use your powers for good.
-> '''Lightkiller:''' Yeah, yeah, right. So being able to plunge the world into complete darkness [[BadPowersBadPeople is an ideal power for a good guy]], [[LampshadeHanging right?]]
--> -- ''Series/NoHeroics''

[[TitleDrop "You Could Have Used Your Powers For Good / Evil"]] is a sentiment often expressed to the WorthyOpponent. Hero Bob wonders why Villain Alice, with her immense power, chose to do evil rather than good. If the evildoer is a [[ArchEnemy recurring character]], rather than a one-shot, this usually comes followed by a conversation about how they're NotSoDifferent and a HeelFaceTurn would [[GoodFeelsGood make her feel much better]] about her life.[[note]](Mind the RedemptionEqualsDeath)[[/note]]

Of course, the reverse can also occur, with Alice [[EvilCannotComprehendGood questioning why]] Bob bothers to protect these [[AllTheOtherReindeer ungrateful]] [[{{Muggles}} weaklings]] when he could just [[ScrewTheRulesIHaveSupernaturalPowers use his powers to take whatever he wants]]. If Alice succeeds in convincing him that EvilFeelsGood, Bob may become a FallenHero.

As the page quote illustrates, this is more appropriate for some villains than others. Usually they need to have [[GoodPowersBadPeople "good" powers yet use them for evil]]. Of course it's not impossible for a Bob to try to convince Alice that even with [[BadPowersGoodPeople "bad" powers]] she [[ComesGreatResponsibility has a great responsibility]] and she can be a good person. If Alice is a MadScientist, [[CutLexLuthorACheck cutting her a check]] while commenting how [[ReedRichardsIsUseless all her evil inventions are useless]] can have this effect.

Compare: RecruitingTheCriminal; WinYourFreedom and BoxedCrook, where a villain is ''forced'' into acting for good; CutLexLuthorACheck, where acting good would have obvious monetary benefits.

Contrast: ThenLetMeBeEvil, where villains ''attempt'' to use their powers for good, only for their treatment by others to cause them to turn to evil; ComesGreatResponsibility, ComesGreatInsanity, and ComesGreatPerks, where power changes a character's disposition all by itself.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* In ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundamZZ Gundam ZZ]]'', Judau Ashta says this almost word-for-word about the dying [[spoiler:Haman Karn]]: "Why didn't you use your power in a better way?!"
* In ''TigerAndBunny'', this is why Jake Martinez has contempt for the [[DifferentlyPoweredIndividual NEXT heroes]] of [[ShowWithinAShow HeroTV]] despite being a NEXT supremacist: in his eyes, they've turned themselves into dancing monkeys for the people that used to subjugate them, and are thus no better.
* In the manga-only Jinchu Arc of ''Manga/RurouniKenshin'', we have [[TheDragon Gein]] who fights using [[BambooTechnology giant puppets controlled from within]]. Kenshin tells him he should use his technological skills for good, to which his opponent retorts that that would be a waste of his talents, and that Kenshin might as well tell a master blacksmith to make shaving razors instead of swords.
* In ''LightNovel/ACertainMagicalIndex'', Touma often asks the bad guys, if they're relying on a DarkAndTroubledPast or FreudianExcuse to justify their actions, why they don't use their talents to make the world a happier place instead of lashing out at it.
* In DragonballZ, Piccolo severs Dr Gero's arm (Dr Gero being an android at this point) and crushes it, saying "It's a darn shame. You could've put this hand to good use! What a waste of technology!".
* In the final ''LightNovel/FullMetalPanic'' novel, Sosuke thinks this towards [[spoiler:the corpse of Leonard Testarossa]]: "Why couldn't you have done something else when you had so much power? You should have been able to find other options..."

* After ComicBook/{{Superman}} returns in the aftermath of ''ComicBook/FiftyTwo'', he chides Lex Luthor that, despite having said he could solve all the world's problems if Supes weren't around, he spent the year he was absent doing little of worth.
** This has been a recurring theme in Superman's ongoing feud with Luthor, even back when Luthor's motivation for opposing Superman was kind of stupid:
-->'''Superman''': My arch-enemy, Luthor, might have been the world's greatest benefactor! [[{{Narm}} But he lost his hair in an accidental explosion and blamed me for his baldness! In his bitterness he became Earth's most evil criminal scientist!]]
** The most extreme version of this might be in the climax of ''ComicBook/TheBlackRing.'' Luther gains the powers of a god and manages to create a state of temporary world peace...with the caveat that he cannot use them to harm people. Superman is standing ''right there,'' telling him how good of a thing this is, and that if Luthor just gave up his vendetta against him, Luthor could be the greatest hero of all time. Guess what happens. [[StatusQuoIsGod No, go on. I'll wait.]]
* In "The Reign of the Superman," Jerry Siegel's and Joe Shuster's illustrated short story (''Science Fiction'', January 1933), the depowered villain--an early version of what became the familiar heroic {{Superman}}--says at the end:
--> I see, now, how wrong I was. If I had worked for the good of humanity, my name would have gone down in history with a blessing--instead of a curse.
* In one issue of {{Spider-Man}}, Spidey tells [[NormanOsborn Green Goblin]] that with his intelligence he "could have cured cancer by now if [he] hadn't been wasting time with this Green Goblin crap!". Gobby's response? "I don't give a rat's ass."
* Volume 6 of AtomicRobo has Our titular robot facing off against [[spoiler: A automatic intelligence like him named Alan. Who had vast computing power and the ability to predict outcomes and determined that he could use the cold war to build himself a orion class spaceship. He did, but this made Robo realize something, with this ability and success, Alan could have used his power to stop the cold war, to bring about a more stable and peaceful world, when confronted, Alan only has one response, [[EvilCannotComprehendGood "I don't understand, why?"]] ]]

* In ''Franchise/StarWars Episode III: Film/RevengeOfTheSith'', Obi-Wan Kenobi laments to Anakin Skywalker when the latter turns to TheDarkSide, stating that he was supposed to destroy the Sith, not join them.
* WesternAnimation/{{Megamind}} is outraged when he finds out that Titan has turned to petty crime after being granted the power of a superhero. The {{irony}} is lost on [[IneffectualSympatheticVillain him]].
--> '''Megamind:''' I can't believe you. All your gifts, all your powers and you squander them for your own personal gain!
** Though Megamind has a [[ThenLetMeBeEvil good reason]] for being a villain.
* In ''Film/ScannersIITheNewOrder'', David Kellum says this to evil psychic Peter Drak when the latter attacks him telekinetically.
-->'''David:''' We can all work together! Protect each other. Put our powers to some decent use.
-->'''Drak:''' [[AxCrazy I like this use]].

* This gets inverted in the ''Literature/HarryPotter'' series, where Voldemort [[EvilCannotComprehendGood can't understand why Dumbledore chose to use his powers for good]]. He considers Dumbledore to be weak and a fool for not taking what was his.
** This can also apply to Draco Malfoy, but regarding Harry -- and at first not regarding magical power, but regarding potential social status, which the Malfoy family tradition dictated should be used for putting others down to highlight one's own supposed excellence. In regards to magic, this is a stereotypical Slytherin's like Malfoy's attitude towards the school, which only teaches ''Defense'' Against the Dark Arts.
* What Jesus pretty much tells the Antichrist in His TheReasonYouSuckSpeech to him in the LeftBehind book ''Glorious Appearing''. This was a point of contention by certain readers since Jesus pretty much berated him from [[YouCantFightFate what God destined him]] [[EvilAllAlong to function as.]]
* Played with in Creator/TerryPratchett's Witches Abroad. Granny Weatherwax despises her sister for being evil...because it meant ''she'' had to be good! And she would have been much, much [[GoodIsNotNice better at evil]] than her sister ever was...
* Fanor from ''TheSilmarillion''. He was the mightiest, most skilled, most puissant of all the Elven race... and the source of their greatest woes. His {{Pride}}, HotBlooded nature, and stubbornness lead to unimaginable tragedy. Manw wept to think that he had [[FallenHero fallen]] and didn't repent, no less than he wept for the Two Trees.
* In the final book of ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'', [[TheChosenOne Rand]] doesn't get to ''say'' this to his previous incarnation's RivalTurnedEvil Demandred to his face, but he does reflect sadly on how Demandred could- and ''should''- have been a great hero rather than the Shadow's most feared general, and feels a certain amount of guilt over encouraging their rivalry and playing a part in driving Demandred to evil.
* In the ''SherlockHolmes'' story "The Final Problem", Holmes meditates on the career of one Professor James Moriarty, a wunderkind who wrote an acclaimed thesis which earned him a mathematics chair at his university, all at age 21. However, his tenure was marred by such vile rumors that he resigned in disgrace and wound up eking out a living as a tutor. This later proved to be an ideal front, as no one would have suspected this wizened old math teacher was involved in London's most intricate crime ring -- much less the ''head'' of it. Later stories expanded on Moriarty's prestige, specifically his ground-breaking book ''Dynamics of an Asteroid'', which ''should'' have squared him away in terms of fame and capital. Holmes took this story as proof that intelligence does not alter the potential for sadistic behavior; a similar observation is made with regard to Charles Augustus Milverton, a rich aristocrat who spends his days blackmailing people for vast sums, only to spill the secrets anyway once they've gone broke.
* In one of Mercedes Lackey's Free Bards novels, a free bard and a guild bard both take this perspective: "it's a shame your talent is wasted complying with guild rules" vs "it's a shame your talent is wasted playing for commoners with no taste". Compared to most free/guild interactions, this is a show of respect.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/DoctorWho'' uses this a lot. The Doctor's most common target is probably the Master, but the Rani and any number of villains of the week get it as well.
--> "You're a genius, you're stone-cold brilliant, you are, I swear, you really are. But you could be so much more. [[FoeYay/DoctorWho You could be beautiful.]]"
* ''Series/GetSmart'' used this explicitly a time or two, often as part of TheStinger. "If only he would have used his [whatever] for niceness, instead of rottenness."
* As the page quote shows, this is attempted in ''Series/NoHeroics'', although the recipient, Lightkiller, seems to be a believer in BadPowersBadPeople.
* One of the ''Series/BreakoutKings'' is Lloyd, a LivingLieDetector behaviorist who despite his talent, has [[InsufferableGenius poor people skills]]. After accepting a deal to become a BoxedCrook, he calls his mother to explain the deal to her. Her only response is a sigh and "You could have been so much more..."
* In an early episode of ''Series/{{Farscape}}'', upon witnessing a particularly impressive example of Peacekeeper engineering, Crichton expresses regret that the Peacekeepers couldn't have used their knowledge to do good instead of mercenary service- or, as Aeryn puts it, "[[ShutUpKirk To fulfill your vision of who we should be?]]" Of course, by the time Aeryn and the other members of the crew are inclined to listen to a word he says, Crichton's idealism has well and truly disappeared.
* Played for laughs with in ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'', at the end of "Ted".
-->'''Buffy''': Willow, tell me you didn't keep any parts.
-->'''Willow''': Not any... big ones.
-->'''Buffy''': Oh, Will, you're supposed to use your powers for ''good''.
** Coming right after a discussed example, when Willow comments on how tragic it is that the original Ted's brilliance was turned to evil. Though this isn't addressed to the villain, and it's a might-have-been uttered when it's far too late for him.
* [[Series/KamenRiderGaim Takatora]] says this to [[spoiler: Micchy]] during their fight.
-->'''Takatora''': Why did you only learn from the dark parts of me? You could have [[LightIsGood shone brighter]] than I ever could!

* Often found in Light Side vs. Dark Side fights in ''Franchise/StarWars'', such as in ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic'', when [[spoiler:Light Side Revan]] apologizes to Darth Malak for leading him on the path to the Dark Side, but reminds him that it was Malak who chose to follow that path to the end.
** And Kreia delivers a somewhat twisted version of this trope to [[spoiler:a Dark Side Exile during the climax]], in a combination with YouHaveFailedMe, WhatTheHellHero and TheReasonYouSuckSpeech. Notably, it's not so much because [[spoiler:you could have followed the Light Side instead of the dark side so much as the whole part that you have severed yourself from the Force, made a comeback,]] and still not realized any of the implications behind it. If [[spoiler:the Exile is Light Side]] the speech gets delivered to [[spoiler:the Jedi Council instead -- just before she kills them all for sticking to their outdated dogmas even in the face of evidence that life without the Force is possible and they are wrong.]]
* In ''VideoGame/SagaFrontier'', after the final battle with [[WorthyOpponent Metal Black]], Alkaiser says to the defeated villain that he could have used his powers for good.
* In ''VideoGame/JadeEmpire'', you can tell this to the BigBad. He responds by claiming that he would find that a waste of his talents.
* Members of the various evil teams in the ''{{Pokemon}}'' games will often comment how the player's skill and strength could have made him/her a powerful ranking member of their organization.
* In ''VideoGame/TheForceUnleashed'', the mortally wounded Shaak-Ti tells Starkiller, "You are Vader's slave, but your power is wasted with him. You could be so much more." Starkiller eventually does pull a HeelFaceTurn.
* In ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'', a Commander Shepard who follows the Paragon route invokes this whenever they talk to the Illusive Man (the Renegade options have the same gist, they're just blunter). In the ''Citadel'' DLC, the Mysterious Figure [[spoiler: aka Shepard's evil clone]] gets similar treatment.
* ''FarCry3'': In an inversion: Hoyt claims that, as Jason has spent most of the game butchering and sabotaging his way across the Rook Islands for the sake of the Rakyat, [[CutLexLuthorACheck he could have just joined Hoyt's mercenaries and have made a profit doing so]]. AKA, You Could Have Used Your Powers For PROFITABLE Evil. Jason, after seeing what Hoyt turned Vaas into AND what happened to his brothers and an entire populated Yacht, flips off Hoyt. Hoyt cuts off a finger. It's implied, during the ending, that Hoyt believed based on his knowledge of the "natives" that they were [[NotSoDifferent pirates under a twisted cult centered around Rook's royalty]]. He may have been right.
* If you contact Otacon after defeating Psycho Mantis in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'', he laments that Mantis could have used his exceptional psychic powers for good if he [[FreudianExcuse didn't have the shitty life]] that made him AxCrazy.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Florence from FreeFall knows enough electrical engineering to bypass most security systems. And she's honest. What a waste of talent, as Sam puts it.

[[folder:Web Originals]]
* Parian and Panacea from ''Literature/{{Worm}}'' get this treatment from both sides because they are attempting to stay neutral.
** Also, Legend to Skitter in response to the latter's BlackAndGreyMorality in [[http://parahumans.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/snare-13-7/ Chapter 13.7]]:
-->'''Legend''': There can be. You could do whats right.
-->'''Skitter''': [[IDidWhatIHadToDo Speak for yourself.]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/AvengersEarthsMightiestHeroes'', Henry Pym says this to Graviton upon his defeat. Made ironic because Graviton is a possible case of ThenLetMeBeEvil.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheSpectacularSpiderMan'', Spidey asks [[spoiler:the Sandman]] why he chooses to do evil when he could just as easily be a superhero. At the end of the episode, [[spoiler: Sandman]] ends up changing sides and making a HeroicSacrifice.
* ''WesternAnimation/HeManAndTheMastersOfTheUniverse1983'': When He-Man and Skeletor are forced to work together, He-Man asks Skeletor if he's ever considered using his great power for good. Skeletor retorts by asking him if he's ever considered using his great power for evil.
* In ''WesternAnimation/ThunderCats'', after Lion-O narrowly defeats [[BloodKnight The Demolisher]], Lion-O tries to persuade Demolisher to join the good guys and put his great strength and skill to use doing good instead of pointless fights (The Demolisher fights any strong opponent, not caring about their alignment). Demolisher gets very offended and leaves the planet. Lion-O comments that it is a shame that such a fine warrior would waste his talents like that.

''You could have [[SugarWiki/TheOtherTroper used your troping powers for good]], but what did you make?''

''[[JustForFun/MadeOfWin Something]] [[SubvertedTrope even better]].''