Dark Is Not Evil: Film

Animated Films:

  • The Gods of The Book of Life could count for this.
    • La Muerta is a Death God, a ruler of her own branch of the underworld and her face is paint evocative of that of a frickin' skull, her name translating to the feminine form of "death". Even then, she is displayed as being very benevolent. The realm she rules over - The Land of the Remembered - is a joyous and wonderful place, filled with endless fiestas where the remembered dead enjoy themselves senseless. Her body is made of sugar candy (her face paint resembling sugar skulls), with marigold flowers and lit candles surrounding her clothes.
    • While not necessarily "good", Xibalba isn't really all that bad either. His body is made of black tar, his physiology resembling that of a cross between a skeleton and a fallen angel, his colors primarily black and green with little red skulls for pupils. He rules over the Land of the Forgotten, an ash-filled wasteland where the forgotten dead stand around doing nothing but be miserable before crumbling to dust. He cheats in a bet with La Muerte (who, by the way, is also his estranged wife) so that he could rule the Land of the Remembered instead. He cheats, he lies, has little faith in humanity... but again, he's not all bad. When Manolo wins his challenge, Xibalba begrudgingly admits his respect for him and gives him back his life like he waggered, and even cheers him on in the battle of San Angel against Chakal. The whole time, Xibalba is shown to still love his wife La Muerte, even when she was still angry will him, literally melting by her touch, and by the end he apologizes to her for his transgressions'', earning back her trust as they kiss, letting loose fireworks.
  • How to Train Your Dragon: Toothless the dragon is completely black, uses the cover of night to his advantage, his breed is considered the scariest and most dangerous dragon of all, and is on two different occasions referred to as something unholy. The dragon hand-guide describes his breed as an "unholy offspring of lightning and death itself" and Hiccup's father calls him "Devil" in one scene. However, he's also one of the main characters, a "good guy," and freakin' adorable.
  • Pixar:
    • Gill from Finding Nemo is a sinister-looking Moorish Idol, but he actually helps Nemo and the other fish in the fish tank escape back into the ocean. The sharks are friendly as well, as long as they don't smell blood.
    • In Cars 2, Lemons are evil, but Otis, the beaten-up car seen in the Book Ends, is friendly.
  • Disney Animated Canon:
  • In Castle in the Sky the Spell of Destruction, considered a dark spell by the heroine Sheeta's grandmother, is what saves the heroes by destroying the bad guy's base.
  • The Bog King from Strange Magic is a complicated example. He certainly looks evil by being a scowling insect humanoid. While he does kidnap and threaten an innocent Fairy princess, he's doing it to recover a Love Potion which he wants to destroy both because he hates love and that he knows it's incredible dangerous. Once he and Marianne fall in love upon realizing that they are Not So Different, he's able to show a more tender side. By the time he performs a Heroic Sacrifice, its obvious that despite his monstrous appearance he'a good man.

Live-Action Films:

  • Tim Burton has based much of his career on this trope:
    • Batman of course
    • The citizens of Halloween Town from The Nightmare Before Christmas, are textbook examples. They even say as much in the opening song (see the quotes page). Even though they're all skeletons, Frankenstein-esque monsters, ghosts, vampires, a Mad Scientist, etc., for the most part they're just fun guys who love a good Halloween. The only one who's really evil is Oogie Boogie - and he isn't exactly popular with the others.
      • However, they did kidnap Santa Claus, and Lock, Shock and Barrel memorably sang a song about different ways to kill him. Of course, said children work for Oogie Boogie, and Jack hadn't meant for Santa to come to any harm...
      • The children also live in a land of zombies, vampires, living skeletons, and a reanimating Mad Scientist, so being dead doesn't mean ceasing to exist for them, obviously.
      • Oogie Boogie is actually from a completely different (and very dead) holiday, so he's not really from Halloween Town anyway, as one of the video games reveals.
      • This is pointed out in Kingdom Hearts, when Sora, Donald, and Goofy wonder why Jack would help them stop the Heartless. Jack explains that while the people of Halloween Town love scaring people, they don't want anyone to actually be hurt, like the Heartless do.
      • Jack actually did tell Lock, Shock, and Barrel not to send Santa to Oogie. To actually trust them to keep their word, however . . . . .
        Jack: And one more thing... leave that no account Oogie Boogie OUT OF THIS!
    • Corpse Bride also plays on this trope. The undead are jovial and friendly both to each other and to mortals, while a lot of the mortals themselves are jerks.
      • They are also more colorful whereas the mortals appear in what can only be called 'the Tim Burton palette'.
    • Beetlejuice is yet another example. It features a sympathetic ghost couple who try to scare off a new family that moves into their house with the intent of giving it a massive makeover. The couple meet various other undead people along the way, some hideously disfigured. The dead are all portrayed as eccentric-but-decent people, with the sole exception of the film's eponymous antihero, Betelgeuse, who's really more Chaotic Neutral.
      • The Animated Adaptation is considerably Lighter and Softer, although it also plays into this trope. Lydia is a Perky Goth who enjoys horror movies, insects, rainy days, and other creepy things, and she's a very nice person. Similarly, the Netherworld ranges from freaky to downright bizarre, but very few of the ghosts there are actually malevolent.
    • His version of Alice in Wonderland has Chessur, an unbelievably unsettling version of the Cheshire Cat, although he is among the good guys. To a lesser extent, the Mad Hatter and the Ugly Cute bear/hyena/reptile like Bandersnatch (originally a bad guy, then changing sides); in the end, the Red Queen's minions also stop being in her side. Yes, that includes the creepy card soldiers.
      • Meanwhile, the pretty and bland people of Alice's world are almost all shown to be hypocritical, boring, domineering, or shallow.
      • The White Queen fits in weirdly here, though. Her dominion seems to be dead things, even though she's perfectly nice, so it kind of makes sense.
    • The ENTIRE moral of Edward Scissorhands is this. The town starts to judge him by his appearance of being scary and 'monstrous' when in fact he is the most human character in the movie, being caring and downright innocent...
  • Jacob's Ladder features grotesque... things, that terrorise the protagonist throught the movie. They're actually trying to help him accept his death and ascend to Heaven.
  • Part of the twist ending to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, in which Mad Scientist Caligari is actually a perfectly kind psychologist, his sleepwalking hitman is just a harmless loony, and the hero turns out to be a paranoid psychopath. Although it is notable that after The Reveal, Cesare and Caligari look a lot less dark, and Francis looks a lot darker. Since Tim Burton gets all of his ideas from Caligari, this makes perfect sense.
    • ...Unless, of course, you see the very rare removed footage, which pulled a Double Subversion and twisted this back on again, by revealing in a Mind Screw moment, that the "kind psychologist" really IS Dr Caligari.
  • Guillermo del Toro's works:
    • Santi, the Creepy Child ghost in The Devil's Backbone.
    • It turns out that the faun of Pan's Labyrinth is entirely trustworthy.
    • The Orphanage, the intentions of the other children weren't quite as macabre as originally thought, as they were trying to let her know something crucial.
    • As if the Hellboy movie hadn't already the eponymous demonic protagonist, the sequel also introduces several magical creatures that, for most part, just want to be left alone. A notable example is the Angel of Death, which is pretty weird and macabre looking, but helps nonetheless.
  • The vampiric Daywalker Blade is not only dark, he's black.
  • The Man in Black, from The Princess Bride dresses like a villain, even acts like one in places (more in the book than in the movie), and is eventually identified as the murderous Dread Pirate Roberts - but at the end of the day it's all subterfuge, because he's really the presumed-dead hero Westley.
  • This trope and its reverse are essentially the entire plot of Clive Barker's Nightbreed - it's the humans who all act monstrously. Especially the one played by David Cronenberg.
  • The titular character of Darkman has a Nightmare Face and always dresses in gloomy black like a classic villain stereotype. Yet, his main goal is to fight the worst city criminals.
  • Firefox - In this movie, an American pilot steals a super-advanced Soviet fighter jet and is pursued for the last third of the movie across Europe by his Cold War counterpart. The American is in all black, and the Soviet is in almost pure white. (Does it make you the bad guy if you're performing grand theft aero for LIBERTY?)
  • Ladyhawke. Knight errant Etienne Navarre dresses in all-black armor with red flourishes, and turns into a wolf at night. His lover Isabeau wears a fair amount of black herself; by contrast, both the Big Bad (the Bishop of Aquila) and his Dragon wear white.
  • Men In Black: They are "Men In Black" but also Earth's "best, last, and only defense against the scum of the universe". Lampshaded in Will Smith's music video.
    The good guys dress in black, remember that / Just in case we ever face to face and make contact.
  • The made-for-TV-movie When Good Ghouls Go Bad features this. The eponymous ghoul may look scary, but he's what's left of a harmless (and actually kind of cute) goth kid who just wanted to show off the statue he made of his mentor. D'aaawwww.
  • In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne's motivation to make his persona dark and frightening is explored via Super Hero Origin story.
    • The Dark Knight Saga deserves special mention as, probably more than any adaptation, it places a huge emphasis both on just how dark of a character Batman is, but also on how morally good and selfless he is.
  • In The Beastmaster, Dar encounters a group of bat people who eat their prey by dissolving them with corrosive liquid and drinking them up. However, they are far from evil, in fact getting a Big Damn Heroes at the end by saving the city from The Remnant
  • The Nega-Scott from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World looks downright evil, red eyes and all. However, he turns out to be a nice guy once Scott confronts him. The two even make plans for brunch.
  • At the end of Gladiator, Maximus wears his standard all-black armor for his final confrontation with the evil Commodus, who wears all white. Of course, Commodus is invoking the opposite trope by dressing in white, since he's casting himself as the heroic one.
  • Jetfire from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is an elderly Decepticon-turned-Autobot who turns into a sinister-looking fighter jet, specifically the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.
  • Star Wars has Badass Mace Windu. His fighting style, Vaapad, focuses on channeling his inner rage and bloodlust into strength and speed. He is able to go berserk on bad guys without losing control and falling to The Dark Side.
    • Played With in Return of the Jedi. Luke Skywalker wears an all-black costume throughout the film, having learned Darth Vader is his father. But towards the end, Luke resists the temptation of the Dark Side, and when his shirt is unbuttoned, it's revealed to be white underneath all along. Just about every depiction of him in the Expanded Universe has him in some variation of that costume.
    • From the prequel trilogy, Anakin Skywalker started this way before he turned to the Dark Side.
  • Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
  • Oblivion (2013) :
  • Several of The Fair Folk who appear in Pan's Labyrinth are very creepy-looking, but they're not made out to be especially malevolent. The Fairy Guides are quite helpful, and the Faun is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. The Pale Man, and humans, of course, are presented as Light Is Not Good.
  • Zig-zagged in Godzilla (2014). While Godzilla is potentially as dangerous to humanity as the Mutos (if not more so), he also serves as a Destructive Savior. It is notable that Godzilla does not go out of his way to destroy stuff like he usually does.
  • While in Maleficent, the titular character herself zig-zags between this and Dark Is Evil, her black clad, black haired, black eyed servant, Diaval, is one of the most gentle and caring characters in the film. Maleficent ultimately becomes this trope, as she pulls a Heel-Face Turn.
  • Nightcrawler from X2: X-Men United, looks like a dark blue demon but is strongly religious and helps the good guys.
  • Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe lives in a black jacket and drives a black car, but runs the Big Good organization of SHIELD.
  • Played with in Under the Skin. Through most of the movie, the aliens play up Dark Is Evil to its maximum, but the protagonist gradually develops a conscience and reveals her true form at the end, well past the Heel-Face Turn. This form is a black skinne dhumanoid with yellow eyes, something that lived up clearly to her previous malevolence, but has affected her development of empathy.
  • In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, District 13 looks decidedly more ominous and militant than the Capitol, but are presented as the good guys.
  • Captain Thunderbolt wears an all black outfit typical of a villainous Wild West gambler, but only steals from the wealthy Ranchers to feed the poor settlers.
  • Dark Angel: The Ascent: Demons are not inherently evil beings, but more or less the jailers and torturers of Hell who have been given the job to punish the wicked. They're part of the same cosmic order as the Angels of Heaven, and pray to God.