"The man who is to be great is the one who can be the most solitary, the most hidden, the most deviant, the man beyond good and evil, lord of his virtues, a man lavishly endowed with will - this is precisely what greatness is to be called: it is able to be as much a totality as something multi-faceted, as wide as it is full."A character declares that they or their objectives should not be hindered by considerations about good and evil. Such "meaningless, fallacious false dichotomies" are for simple-minded beings, not for them. They often term them antiquated or childish propaganda, and may go on to question What Is Evil? This trope usually applies to villains, though very occasionally a hero may say 'screw right and wrong, I'm doing what I want.' Associated with The Übermensch and the Straw Nihilist, along with any other things Nietzsche-related. Other people who can claim this trope includes particularly megalomaniacal narcissists with delusions of godhood, sociopaths, scientists who do not let moral-societal opinions interfere with their quest for empirical knowledge, superpowerful beings corrupted by power, or just someone with Blue and Orange Morality. It can be a sign of an Eldritch Abomination and such creatures beyond standard human morality, thus very common in a Cosmic Horror Story and narratives where Nature Is Not Nice. The exact objectives of this character differ widely. Sometimes it is power, other times knowledge, or in the case of the Übermensch, his own values to replace traditional morality. In some cases their willingness to do anything to get there is absolute though some Ubermenschs may have a set of standards apart from the usual good/evil that they go by. In the case of darker villains holding to this philosophy expect them to suffer from Laser-Guided Karma. When suffering payback, the character rarely excuses the wrong done to them under the same principle. Compare The Unfettered. Villains whose strong point is not logic will sometimes use both tropes. Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught is a related concept, but it's more practical than philosophical. Not to be confused with the book Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche note or the unrelated game of the same name.
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Anime and Manga
- Huey Laforet from Baccano! is this trope via his several hundred year For Science! ambition. Everyone and everything in this world, including his own daughter, is nothing more than components of a grand experiment- ethics be damned. Even amongst his peers he is considered the creepiest of the lot.
- Sousuke Aizen from Bleach uses this to justify his depraved actions, claiming that distinctions of good and evil would merely limit his potential.
- A rare heroic example is Touma, the main character from A Certain Magical Index who considers good and evil to be mere shackles, and just does whatever he feels is right at the time. In the World War III arc, Touma even gives Accelerator some huge Character Development by telling him that his thoughts that he is a villain are just holding him back.
- Emperor Charles Zi Britannia of Code Geass fancies himself as this. He calls the war between the Black Knights and Britannia (to the rest of the characters the most important thing in the world) 'mundane matters'. He sees his attempt at killing god (the collective human consciousness), to bring forth a world unified in stagnation, as beyond such worldly concerns.
- Yato of Noragami is a god, and therefore does not care at all and has killed many people and shinki before.
- Gilgamesh from Fate/Zero describes himself as such. He is absolute. As a true king, justice is unnecessary to him. It is an interesting case as it is not necessarily considered an evil point of view, though Saber is disgusted. It might even be taken literally as even all the world's evil is unable to corrupt such an "absolute existence."
- Medaka Box: Ajimu, who has almost 13 quadrillion super powers is this, and states that life, death, love, hate, etc. is meaningless garbage. This is because she is under the delusion that she is a character in a comic book.
- The Lord of Nightmares from the Slayers continuity is Above Good and Evil, and creator of both. She represents the primal chaos from which all things emerge, and can side with creation just as easily as with destruction. Most people are only aware of her destructive side, and consider her the Dark Lord above the Dark Lords.
- Dragon Ball Super: King Kai describes Beerus, the God of Destruction, in these terms. When he tells Goku that Beerus tends to blow up a lot of planets, Goku immediately assumes that Beerus is a bad guy. King Kai responds that Goku's thinking about it the wrong way: Beerus's "job" and the whole reason for his existence is to destroy things, and his destruction of things is necessary for the upholding of cosmic balance across the universe. That said, Beerus's problem is the fact that he spends most of the time he should be working sleeping and when he's awake his reasons for destroying planets are more often than not petty or spiteful (like because someone didn't give him good enough food).
- Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V: Jack Atlas doesn't give a rat's ass about the Tops vs. Commons conflict or the Academia war (though he doesn't know about the latter); nor does he care about Roget's schemes. All he cares about are good and true duelists.
- Hades from Fairy Tail sees Magic in general as this, making no distinction between "light" and "dark" magic in his pursuit of the One Magic, the root of all. His life's work involves researching the works of the Black Wizard, Zeref and his main goal is to create the "grand Magic world" where all can use magic and anyone who can't doesn't need to live, to which he sees Zeref himself as the key to achieving.
- The Straw Hat Pirates from One Piece. For most of them, labels of "good" and "evil" generally don't matter. It's evident right from the beginning of the series, although various crew members took some time to get used to the label of "pirate".
Zoro: Pirates are scum! Who would want to be one?Luffy: Does it matter? You're known as an evil pirate hunter.
- ReadySetThink mentions how the Universe doesn't care abou pettyt human conflicts, and about morality as a whole
The universe doesn't care how many people you have killed (except if you believe in supernaturally enforced Karma I guess), so you getting arrested or killed shouldn't be objectively better than anyone else.
- Galactus, foe of the Fantastic Four, is a Planet Eater who often uses this justification; he (and other Cosmic Beings of the Marvel Universe) claim that he will one day do something that more than makes up for the uncounted trillions of deaths he causes, which sort of falls under Take Our Word for It, since you'd have to wait billions of years to find out what that is. Galactus has always been treated not as a villain, but as a force of nature who really is above good and evil and takes no pleasure in consuming worlds.
- One more recent explanation is that there is an Omnicidal Maniac Eldritch Abomination for which he is the seal, so if he doesn't get enough energy to keep the seal up, the entire multiverse gets destroyed - and the only great enough source of calories is planets.
- An earlier explanation is that he's the Big Crunch, and at the end of everything, he will explode into a Big Bang, creating the next universe.
- The part of him that is still Galan denies that he is this. In one storyline when he was depowered, Galan decided that he had to do his best to delay his inevitable merging with the Power Cosmic for as long as possible.
- The reason Galactus has Heralds is to find suitable planets for him to consume, but they also serve to warn the residents that Galactus is coming. In theory, this allows those who are able to leave to stage an evacuation. Except that some of his Heralds turn out to be more than a little crazy, such as the extreme nihilist Stardust (whose policy is to kill anyone who tries to flee).
- Another interpretation is that the Heralds are supposed to find him life-bearing but unoccupied planets to eat. This poses a problem (at least in the regions near Earth) in that there are at least three civilizations that span entire galaxies in the neighborhood, and interstellar travel is so easy that even Earth has multiple interstellar vehicles of local manufacture.
- X-Men foe Apocalypse thinks morality is beneath him, instead regarding himself essentially as "evolution incarnate". When Loki tried to organize a massive Villain Team-Up in the Acts of Vengeance crossover, he rejected membership outright since he didn't see himself as a supervillain.
- Roque Ja from Bone holds the "There is no good and evil, there is only power" philosophy. Unlike most others, he is actually neutral; he works for the bad guys for pay, but will turn on them if they insult him and he lets the heroes go so that they can defeat the Locust at the end.
- In Supergirl Volume 2 Barry Metzner -one of the teachers of the titular heroine- undergoes an experiment which transforms him into a mutated creature with great Psychic Powers but utterly devoid of humanity or compassion. He declares several times he is above of human laws and concepts of good and evil: " I am above such judgments as good, as evil! I am the judge! I am the ideal!"
Barry: Do not think me included in your laws, Supergirl — for I shall henceforth decide upon right and wrong! I am a law unto myself... and you shall all follow my commands... or suffer for your disobedience!
- Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen expresses this attitude. He just did not care about humanity anymore, until Laurie showed him the complexity and drama of human existence.
- New Gods: Darkseid likes to claim to be this, but it's quite clear that if he's not simply evil he's a pretty good facsimile thereof. One of the nicest things about Darkseid is that he's got a sense of honor (dark and twisted though it may be), which is more than one can say of most of his minions.
- Doctor Fate sometimes slips into this. Depending on the Writer he's concerned solely with maintaining the balance between Order and Chaos (in some takes on the character, he's actually a Lord of Order, so sometimes this isn't so much a matter of "balance" for its own sake and more a case of "we can't let Chaos win"). It's perhaps best seen in Young Justice.
- Word of Geoff Johns says that Nekron was intended to be this.
- Shockwave in the IDW continuity falls under the For Science! aspect. In The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye he was one of the few good higher class mechs and scientists, who strove to improve the lives of everyone and stop the energy crisis. He then had his emotions removed and his body mutilated by an enemy, he lost all of his empathy with it. Now Shockwave doesn't believe in good, nor evil, just logic. As such he feels no altruism nor malice. In The Transformers: Robots in Disguise he admits his goal is to create renewable energy and save the planet, all other mechs are raw materials or a means to an end. In The Transformers: Maximum Dinobots, Grimlock's cost him a few million years of his time, Scorponok's blown off a piece of his chest and the Humans have tried to blow him up; when he outmaneuvers all of them, he doesn't go for revenge or even kill anyone, he just leaves because he just doesn't care. His actions in the present have him creating an Ore which can resurrect cybertronians, and with it he turns life and death into mere data for him to manipulate.
- Shakara: When Eva Procopio confronts Overlord Cinnibar Breneka about how he could have gone from the greatest force of good in the galaxy to the greatest force of evil, he tells her that he has moved beyond such moral frameworks.
- The Bridge: Despite being an Omnicidal Maniac who completely rejects concepts like love, friendship, and mercy, Bagan proclaims that he's not evil, he's extinction, and extinction is inevitable. This is possibly the reason why he was able to shatter a chain that grows stronger the more evil the prisoner is.
- Harmony Theory: The murderer Charisma boasts to Rainbow Dash, "I'm not evil, hot stuff. And I'm not good, either. I'm just the best."
- Maim de Maim: Ryuko Kiryuin throughout the first half of the fiction was practically queen of this trope.
- Although in With Strings Attached we already knew that the concepts of “good” and “evil” did not exist among Baravadans, their attitude is codified in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World when the four enter Natives Quarter to interview the skahs about what happened over the last six years on C'hou:
Q: How do you feel knowing there are good and evil in the world now?A: Those are meaningless outworlder words. Sometimes the outworlders tell us we're being good or evil when we do certain things. Who cares? We don't listen when they say those stupid things.
- Shattered Reflection: Having the spirit of Grima, Fire Emblem Awakening's de facto devil, inhabiting her body can occasionally have this affect whenever Rose overindulges in the major power boost such an entity can provide.
- In Out of the Corner of the Eye, Francis White and Ephraim Waite respond to Uncle's declaration that the Mythos cultists are evil by saying that they're more amoral than anything else.
Films — Animation
- In Frozen, part of Elsa the Snow Queen's "I Am Becoming" Song "Let It Go" says, "No right, no wrong, no rules for me, I'm free!" She drops this when she returns to rule Arendelle properly.
- "The Mysterious Stranger" from The Adventures of Mark Twain has the eponymous Stranger say, "I can do no wrong, for I do not know what it is."
Films — Live-Action
- The Dark Knight:
Joker: I'm an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It's fair.
- The Joker considers himself something like this. He seems to think that everybody in the world is a sick, twisted individual deep down, and that he's the only man brave, smart and sane enough to realize that. As such he commits and incites horrific acts to try and make people 'see the light'.
- Later in the film, Joker's words are "echoed" by Two-Face's apology of "blind justice".
- The Cenobites in the Hellraiser movies make this sort of argument when someone calls them demons. "There is no good or evil, only flesh." They also claim they would be "Demons to some, Angels to others," depending on your perspective. In the first and second movies Pinhead, who acts as their voice, explains that they only appear when somebody desires to summon them. They're scary, and torture people, but they only come when called. It's just what they do. Later movies tend to just make them straight-up demons, instead of otherworldly beings with alien perspectives.
- In In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, the Evil Sorcerer Gallian tries to destroy the Kingdom of Ehb in order to usher in a New World Order. When someone points out that he could show his merciful side by releasing the prisoners, he explains in a Large Ham way that he's beyond such petty concepts as Mercy, Good, or Evil. After he takes over, Good will be redefined in terms of power (i.e. the more the better). He is also insane, which he doesn't try to hide.
- The only reason he's even able to get this far is because Gallian and Merrick (and Merrick's daughter Muriella) are the last of the magi. Merrick is old and realizes too late that Gallian has Power Born of Madness.
- In Thirst, Tae-ju takes this attitude to vampirism, comparing a vampire killing a human to a fox killing a chicken.
- In Flash Gordon, the Emperor Ming toys with Earth to see if anyone there is smart enough to recognize that what is happening isn't natural. If they think it's natural, he deems them too primitive. If they determine that it is artificial, Ming decrees them a threat and destroys them. When asked why by Dr. Zarkhov, Ming simply replies, "Why not?"
- At least, this is what he tells Zarkhov when Klytus is about to mindwipe and program him as a Secret Police agent. The opening of the film implies that Klytus selected Earth more or less at random for Ming to torment.
- The Doctor from Amen.
- The protagonist in Lucy has her brain enhanced to the point where normal human ethics are ignored in favor of more pragmatic solutions. To keep herself grounded she seeks advice from a professor and keeps another character close as a "reminder" of her humanity.
- Beyond Good And Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche. In fact, one of the points of the book is criticizing philosophers for trying to tie Christian dogma into their philosophical consideration of morals instead of looking at it with a critical eye.
- In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel False Gods, Magnus the Red is determined to study the warp and gain power, because:
Notions of good and evil fell by the wayside next to such power as dwelled in the warp, for they were the antiquated concepts of a religious society, long cast aside.
- In C. S. Lewis's The Magician's Nephew, when Digory scorns Uncle Andrew for breaking a deathbed promise, Uncle Andrew scorns such things as fitting for boys but not him:
Men like me who possess hidden wisdom, are freed from common rules just as we are cut off from common pleasures. Ours, my boy, is a high and lonely destiny.
"All it means," he said to himself, "is that he thinks he can do anything he likes to get anything he wants."
- Of course, Digory promptly deconstructs the idea:
- Professor Quirrell says Voldemort is such to Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone:
Lord Voldemort showed me the truth. There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it.
- In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Blood Angels novel Deus Sanguinius, the triumph of the Chaos forces in Arkio is shown when he declares
There is no right and wrong, no black and white. Only the strong. . . and the weak.
- In Robert Anton Wilson's and Robert Shea's The Illuminatus! Trilogy, the Dealy Lama remarks that, "The reason I have lived so outrageously long is that I don't give a fuck for Good and Evil." In his case he's actually a pretty nice guy. He's just seen what happens when people get too taken with those concepts. And he invented them to begin with, 30,000 years ago, and got really disappointed when people misused them.
- In one Warhammer novel (part of the Konrad Trilogy), the wizard Litzenreich explains that Chaos is no more good or evil than fire is.
- Rhynn and Kwll are two elder gods in Michael Moorcock's Corum series. They claim to be above the divine squabbling, and are actually unbound by the Cosmic Balance. By the end of the series, Corum gets Kwll to slaughter the entire pantheon of Chaos. Then, for good measure, Kwll decides to off all the Law gods too.
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, there's actually a Jedi heresy called Potentium built around the idea that the dark side doesn't exist. Traditional Jedi suspect it was started by the Sith to corrupt them.
- Vergere took it even further, believing that not only is there no dark side, but that there's no light side either. As she sees it, the Force simply is, and morality doesn't enter into it at all.
- Gray Jedi are a milder example. They don't necessarily believe that good and evil don't exist, but Gray Jedi of varying backgrounds and species do reject the Jedi Council's dogmatic view of the Force and explore both the dark and light side.
- The Darth Gravid was essentially the Sith equivalent of a Gray Jedi: he sought to use both the light and dark sides. His apprentice, however, saw this as heresy and killed him.
- Dooku might be considered another example of this in that he seems to want the Jedi to open themselves to the dark side and rule the Republic unhindered by the Senate or any other corrupt bureaucracy, believing that the dark side could be used to positive effect if one was just in one's heart, especially as depicted in the Dark Horse comics.
Vimes had heard that good and evil were just two ways of looking at the same thing - or, at least, so said people traditionally considered under the category of "evil".
- In Carpe Jugulum, the sophisticated modern vampires claim good and evil are just two ways of looking at the same thing. In the next book, The Fifth Elephant, there's a Call-Back in Vimes' internal monologue:
- In Making Money, a professor performing a necromatic rite (an insorcism, which make a dead professor happy and keep him out of their hair), argues with his students that who can say what is right and wrong? When they still argue, he offers to give them all A's. Whereupon one sees that it goes beyond mundane definitions of good and evil, in service of a higher truth.
- Bel-Shamaroth in The Colour of Magic, being an Eldritch Abomination, is described as "the opposite side of a coin where good and evil were the same side".
- In Susan Kay's Phantom, Erik loses all sense of good and evil after realizing how easy it was to kill his Gypsy captor, and regards murder as just another art to master.
- The Children of the Lamp series features the Tree of Logic, proximity to which will eliminate all senses of good and evil from a djinn (possibly a Muggle, but it's never fully explained). It's used in order to judge better, but it also eliminates all kindness, making the affected person a jerk.
- In Dorothy L. Sayers' Whose Body?, Lord Peter Wimsey finds this attitude a clue to the murderer.
He likes crime. In that criminology book of his he gloats over a hardened murderer. I've read it, and I've seen the admiration simply glaring out between the lines whenever he writes about a callous and successful criminal. He reserves his contempt for the victims or the penitents or the men who lose their heads and get found out. His heroes are Edmond de la Pommerais, who persuaded his mistress into becoming an accessory to her own murder, and George Joseph Smith of Brides-in-a-bath fame, who could make passionate love to his wife in the night and carry out his plot to murder her in the morning. After all, he thinks conscience is a sort of vermiform appendix. Chop it out and you'll feel all the better.
- Ruin of Mistborn is like this, claiming that good and evil have nothing to do with him, his counterpart Preservation, or his reason for wanting to destroy the world (it's not out of malice- it's because destroying worlds is what he does.) Vin disagrees. Strongly.
- G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday:
"First of all, what is it really all about? What is it you object to? You want to abolish Government?"
"To abolish God!" said Gregory, opening the eyes of a fanatic. "We do not only want to upset a few despotisms and police regulations; that sort of anarchism does exist, but it is a mere branch of the Nonconformists. We dig deeper and we blow you higher. We wish to deny all those arbitrary distinctions of vice and virtue, honour and treachery, upon which mere rebels base themselves. The silly sentimentalists of the French Revolution talked of the Rights of Man! We hate Rights as we hate Wrongs. We have abolished Right and Wrong."
"And Right and Left," said Syme with a simple eagerness, "I hope you will abolish them too. They are much more troublesome to me."
- The Dark Court in Wicked Lovely, as stated by Irial. Unusual in that they actually ARE above good and evil, due to Blue and Orange Morality.
Irial: "We are what we are, Niall. Neither as good nor as evil as others paint us, and what we are doesn't change what we truly feel, only how free we are to follow those feelings."
- In John C. Wright's The Phoenix Exultant, the Nothing agent declares it is above good and evil.
- In Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, Islington is so far beyond good and evil that it couldn't find it with a telescope on a clear night.
- The Childlike Empress in The Neverending Story is one of the rare heroic examples of this trope. She actually is Above Good and Evil rather than just using this trope to justify being evil. The Empress is in charge of preserving all fantasy creatures which includes vampires, demons, giant spiders, dragons, and trickster spirits just as much as unicorns and fairies. She sees all of her subjects as equally good and beautiful, and because of this, even the evil creatures are willing to help her representatives.
- A member of the Cthulhu Cult in Lovecraft's "The Call of Cthulhu" explains that the time of the return of the Great Old Ones will be when mankind has become as them, "free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and reveling in joy." It's no wonder only two of the dozens of members arrested for ritual murders were found sane enough to be hanged.
- In Adrian Tchaikovsky's Dragonfly Falling, a Wasp slave justifies herself on the grounds there is no good or evil, just people doing things.
- The Draka:
"The Draka will conquer the world for two reasons; because we must and because we can. And yet of the two forces the second is the greater; we do this because we choose to do it. By the sovereign Will and force of arms the Draka will rule the Earth, and in so doing remake themselves. We shall conquer and beat the Nations of the Earth into the dust and reforge them in our self wrought Image; the Final Society, a new humanity without weakness or mercy, hard and pure. Our descendants will walk the hillside of that future, innocent beneath the stars, with no more between them and their naked will than a wolf has. THEN there will be Gods in the Earth."
- It's worth noting that in the Draka series, Nietzsche immigrated there and his views became part of their philosophy.
- In G. K. Chesterton's "The Unmentionable Man" (in The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond) the Communist talks like this:
"No, no, no," cried Huss, beating on the table with his two fists. "Never, never, shall he lead the movement! Understand me! We are a scientific movement. We are not moral. We have done with bourgeois ideologies of right and wrong. We are Realpolitik. What helps the program of Marx is alone good. What hinders the program of Marx is alone evil. But there are limits. There are names so infamous, there are persons so infamous, that they must always be excluded from the Party."
- In Jim Butcher's Ghost Story, Lea says that evil is mainly an aesthetic choice.
- In John C. Wright's Count To A Trillion, Menelaus asks whether they are going to teach post-humans morals, and gets the answer that they would be above it — it would make no more sense than preaching monogamy to bees or veganitarism to lions.
- In Poul Anderson's "Time Patrol", the instructor, describing how the Danellians (our far future descendants) insisted on the founding of the Patrol, said they were neither benevolent nor malevolent, they were so far beyond us.
- In Dorothy Gilman's The Clairvoyant Countess, the Big Bad downplays it; when asked whether he used his powers for good or for evil, he chuckles and calls it a conventional question.
- Word of God notes that the three Ravers, Co-Dragons to Lord Foul from the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant are like this, believing that by becoming immortal possessing spirits they transcended all moral restraints (their true, personal names- Moksha, Turiya, and Samadhi are a Bilingual Bonus reflecting their mistaken belief in their own enlightenment). Furthermore, Donaldson seems to consider this a trait of truly evil people in general, and notes that even Foul himself has shades of it.
- A variation in Sergey Lukyanenko's Genome. Peter "C the 44th" Valk is a detective-spesh and is, thus, incapable of feeling any emotion but love for the law. As far as he's concerned, the law is the absolute truth. He may understand on an intellectual level the need to occasionally bend the rules, but his specialization prevents him from acting in any way that is unlawful or letting people slide for moral reasons. While investigating the brutal murder of an alien princess, Valk reveals that her people have already declared war on humanity and will be in attack range in 48 hours. Alex, one of the suspects, claims to be ready to admit to the murder in order to prevent further bloodshed. Valk refuses to accept his insincere confession, as, in his mind, he would rather have the Empire fall than to act contrary to law. He also admits that the "confession" would probably not fool the aliens, who have ways of making people speak the truth.
- Nightblood from Warbreaker is either above good and evil or below it, depending on how you look at it. Completely amoral either way, which is a bit of a problem as it was created specifically to destroy evil. Being a sword and not a person, Nightblood has no idea what "evil" actually is (even its Detect Evil ability is flawed, as it mostly targets superficial destructive impulses and sufficiently clever bad guys don't seem to ping at all) and mostly just tries to goad its wielder to kill everyone in sight, just to be on the safe side. They might be evil - you never know! All in all, an object lesson in why trying to count on an inanimate object sharing human morality is unlikely to end well.
- Journey to Chaos: Neuro declares that his patron deity, Lord Death, is this. Explicitly, "Death treats all the same. From his position above good and evil, above chaos and order, only Death is truly fair; only Death is truly just". When Lord Death appears in person, he is apathetic to the concerns of mortals. The psychopomps and clerics that work for him are expected to emulate his example because they are not this by nature.
- Judge Holden from Blood Meridian criticizes morality as being "an invention of mankind for the disenfranchisement of the powerful in favor of the weak" and ultimately irrelevant next to "historical law." It's implied that this is why he survives the story (beyond the potential supernatural reasons): His total lack of a moral compass allows him to devote himself to violence without compromising his sanity, while everyone around him snaps.
Live Action TV
- Charmed had a group called Avatars with this philosophy. They are actually closer to the Knight Templar True Neutral variety, though.
- The Angel of Death calls out Prue on her initial belief that he's inherently evil because of what he does, pointing out that some magical beings aren't good or evil, they just are.
- In Doctor Who, John Lumic justifies his illegal creation of the Cybermen with "I am governed by greater laws, old friend. The right of a man to survive."
- The original Cybermen in their first appearance had an equally chilling statement about their reasons for their actions, delivered in an utterly inhuman voice: "We Will Survive."
- The Series 9 finale "Hell Bent" has the Doctor take this stance thanks to a Trauma Conga Line: He is betrayed by Ashildr and his own people, the Time Lords, which inadvertently paves the way for Clara Oswald's death. From there he is tossed into a lonely torture chamber, and with no one to help him through his anguish and rage, he is Driven to Madness. As The Unfettered Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, he becomes determined to take down his captors and undo Clara's death even though the latter act risks the safety of the entire universe. At one point he declares that he's no longer accountable to anyone. Thankfully, he has a Heel Realization, is able to move past his anguish with the help of a memory wipe that removes his key physical/emotional memories of Clara, and returns to his best self.
- Gary Mitchell from the second Star Trek pilot follows the A God Am I variety of this: "Morals are for men, not gods." Kirk points out moments later that his own actions don't fit the definition of God quite so much as Lucifer, and that in fact Gary Mitchell is behaving as one would expect a Fallen human being to behave given free rein.
- Q in Star Trek: The Next Generation has some kind of point to make generally but it doesn't make sense in any conventional morality, and he imposes his tests on Picard mainly because he can. He is another who trends towards Neutrality.
- One of the German episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus used this as a throwaway joke line in a sketch:
Waiter: Good day, madam. Good day, sir.Man: We want to eat, please.Waiter: Wonderful! A thousand welcomes to the Golden Post.Man: Ah. We hear that this is a restaurant that's typical of Bavaria and full of local colour.Waiter: Indeed, sir. This is truly a typical Bavarian restaurant. The food, the wine, above all the service, is traditional beyond good and evil!
- In Fringe, during the episode "Amber 31422", the other Walter Bishop, the inventor of the titular substance and U.S. Secretary of Defense, says to Broyles: "Nature doesn't recognize good and evil, Philip. Nature only recognizes balance and imbalance. I intend to restore balance to our world. Whatever it takes."
- Alpha in Dollhouse sees himself as this, to the point of explicitly referencing Nietzsche and referring to himself as the Ubermensch.
Adelle: We are all here because we've been morally compromised in some way. All except you, Mr. Brink. You are here because you have no morals. You see people's minds as toys for you to play with. I don't say this as a criticism, you've always taken good care of your things, but you're going to have to let this one go.
- Topher in the same series appears to be in this camp, at least at first. He's not mean-spirited, he just loves the science and doesn't care much about the human implications (he does get better later on).
- This is argued over in True Blood. A lot of vampires would agree with Godric's claim "There is no right or wrong. These are human notions. There's only death or survival." He himself renounces this idea finally.
- Hannibal: Hannibal views himself this way, stating that he's not evil. Will Graham is pretending to have a similar view to get close to him.
Will: "You can't reduce me to a set of influences. I'm not the product of anything. I've given up good and evil for behaviourism."Hannibal: "Then you can't say that I'm evil."Will: "You're destructive. Same thing."Hannibal: "Evil is just destructive? Storms are evil, if it's that simple. And we have fire, and then there's hail."
- Angel: The Blood Knight God of Gods Illyria states that he is "as moral as a hurricane. Empty, but for the force of [his] gale." His life's goal has always been "[t]o never die and to conquer all." In a rare non-villainous version, he works alongside the good guys because the bad guys pissed him off.
- A repeating theme in the Manowar song "The Power".
- British Post-Punk band The Pop Group titled their debut single "She Is Beyond Good and Evil".
- The song Beyond Good and Evil by Swedish metal band Grand Magus. It is chock full of allusions to this, for example: "Your black and white will lose to the grey", "You might be right but I'm not wrong"
Mythology and Religion
- Hinduism's Bhagavad Gita says that all good and evil is part of a great game going on within the being of one greater deity.
- In some interpretations of Buddhism, Good and Evil are among the illusions with which we wrestle, both distracting us from following the Middle Path and achieving Nirvana. However, since what comes around goes around, it is beneficial to be a nice person.
- Some strains of Deism, Pantheism, and Pandeism believe that our universe is a sort of experiment in generating all sorts of experiences, including good and evil ones.
- The Ogres of Warhammer. Or more precisely, they're below good and evil. They have absolutely no concept of morality at all, although they may believe in Might Makes Right. To give you an idea: in their culture, iron is viewed as more valuable than gold, because with gold, you can buy an iron weapon from a merchant and lose the gold, but with an iron weapon, you can kill the merchant and then have both the weapon and all of his gold.
- The Third-party Dungeons & Dragons book ascension (which allows you to play as gods and other super beings) has the Apostasy ability which makes one beyond alignment and thus immune to spells or effects that work based on alignment such as a paladin's holy smite or the Unholy Breath effect.
- The Powers That Be in Bleak World they seem pretty evil though, in fact they're probably the Darkness or The Caretaker.
- This is a major part of the Exhuman philosophy in Eclipse Phase. They believe that the Fall, the apocalyptic destruction of Earth in the fires of posthuman god-AI, proved that old-fashioned morality was obsolete, and only survival matters - so they reject considerations of good and evil in favour of survival and power. Firewall, it has to be said, is having none of it, and lists the exhumans as a potential existential risk because their survival-and-power approach invariably seems to end in someone screwing around with The Virus or stealing egos and ripping out the most interesting bits for themselves or modifying themselves into the ultimate predator and developing into a Serial Killer.
- In Seneca's Thyestes, Atreus claims that as a king, he can do what he likes, and in fact goes out of his way to make his revenge on his brother as cruel as possible. He pretends to extend Thyestes the olive branch, serves him a banquet, and then afterwards reveals that his [Thyestes'] sons were the main course. This sets the stage for the cycle of murder covered in the Oresteia.
- Many, many characters in Into the Woods, but at least the Witch admits it when she wants to give Jack to the revenge-seeking Giantess.
"You're so nice. You're not good, you're not bad, you're just nice. I'm not good, I'm not nice, I'm just right."
- The Elder Scrolls
- Most of the various forms of deity qualify. While the mortals of Tamriel often regard the Divines as outright "Good" and some of the Daedric Princes (Azura, Meridia) as well, scholars both in-universe and out among the fandom argue that the deities follow Blue and Orange Morality above mortal understanding, with none wholly good or evil. The "Good" ones only seem that way because what they seek to accomplish is generally beneficial or benevolent toward mortals, while the "Evil" ones are more likely to harm mortals with their actions. For instance, Mehrunes Dagon is the Daedric Prince of Destruction, but is no more "evil" than a tidal wave or an earthquake.
- The Morag Tong, a legal assassin's guild of Professional Killers in Morrowind, consider themselves to be this, as does the Dunmeri government which sanctioned them. The Tong has a set of strict rules and a code of honor in terms of performing executions, maintaining a policy of impartiality. They were sanctioned as an alternative to the destructive Allowed Internal Wars of the Great Houses, which weaken the Dunmer overall.
- In Sly 2: Band of Thieves, the Contessa says this about herself while pressing Sly to give her the MacGuffin. Sly points out that saying that makes her only less trustworthy.
- In the Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords there is Kreia. She insists that the Dark and Light Side are merely manners of perceiving the Force and that a true master walks a balance of the two. Much like Jolee, however, she too leans more heavily towards one school of thought: The Sith. She constantly urges the player to allow suffering to continue as it will help the survivors become stronger. In the end she returns to her Sith origins and becomes the final Big Bad.
- Kreia is True Neutral. Just take a look. While she doesn't approve of a Light Side PC going around and helping out every beggar and kitten she equally disapproves of a Dark Side PC going around and killing random people For the Evulz. If the PC decides to take the Dark Side route with the Jedi masters (read: kill them all) she'll give you a "Reason You Suck" Speech, as seen here She is a master manipulator and approves of the PC being one as well.
- She's less True Neutral and more Lawful Neutral with evil tendencies or even just Lawful Evil. Her alignment meter is probably more to hide The Reveal than anything. As for her disapproval of killing For the Evulz, it's more a case of Even Evil Has Standards. Still, the essence of the trope certainly applies since she is the largely above the comparative squabbling between Nihilus (Evil) and the Council (Good).
- Kreia is True Neutral. Just take a look. While she doesn't approve of a Light Side PC going around and helping out every beggar and kitten she equally disapproves of a Dark Side PC going around and killing random people For the Evulz. If the PC decides to take the Dark Side route with the Jedi masters (read: kill them all) she'll give you a "Reason You Suck" Speech, as seen here She is a master manipulator and approves of the PC being one as well.
- In The King of Fighters Maximum Impact 2, Big Bad Jivatma invokes this trope in the Pre-Final Battle one-liner if you fight him with Kim Kaphwan:
I do not wish to be bound by notions of justice and evil.
- The villain in the second Gabriel Knight game says that he is above such silly distinctions such as good and evil, and that man should just embrace his animal instincts.
- In Final Fantasy X, Yu Yevon is described as this. He may have started off as a Well-Intentioned Extremist, but now he only exists to summon Sin.
- In Guild Wars 2 the Norn are this. As a race, they do not particularly care whether your actions are good or evil, merely that they are worthy of legend. They do understand good and evil, but are far more apathetic about it than the other races (generally speaking).
- Pious Augustus in Eternal Darkness. He states it clearly during Paul Luther's chapter:
Evil is nothing but a mere perspective that no longer concerns me.
- Though labeled an "evil" character (he does have his own strange sense of morality), Street Fighter's Akuma does not believe there is any merit in tagging one's self as 'good' or 'evil'. His ultimate goal is simply to be the most perfect example of a warrior, and that means anyone who has the might to stand against him will not be spared his full power, regardless of where they are morally.
Kim: Why do you not use such overwhelming power for the sake of justice?Akuma: There is no good or evil to strength! I seek only pure power!
- This exchange between Akuma and Kim Kaphwan at SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos pretty much exemplifies the above:
- The Grey Wardens of Dragon Age are the Grey Wardens for exactly this reason. They don't care if you're a prince or a commoner, a paragon of virtue or a mass murderer. If you've got the strength to withstand the incredibly painful and often fatal ritual of the Joining, thus gaining elevated skills and abilities with which you can fight the darkspawn, they'll accept you into the fold with no questions asked. Subverted if Loghain is made a Grey Warden and survives the first game. For all of their rhetoric, the Wardens never really accepted him as one of their own despite his ability because his betrayal at Ostagar doomed nearly all of Ferelden's Grey Wardens.
- in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance the protagonist and his named enemies show good amount of it, though for different reasons: Mistral plainly does not have strong attachments, Monsoon is a Straw Nihilist, Sam claims to have justice as his reasons, but has no issues with collateral damage or temporary teaming with bad guys to wait for a proper moment to strike back, Armstrong is Social Darwinist and Raiden is named Jack the Reaper for a reason. However, probably only Monsoon is the pure example of this trope, others do have a sense of right and wrong, even if it is not the same as the social norm.
- In RefleX, once the ZODIAC Ophiuchus is activated, it throws away the concept of good and evil and only believes in one thing; ZODIAC Annihilation.
- Sonic the Hedgehog: Sonic himself, surprisingly. It's laid out quite clearly in one of his theme songs, "It Doesn't Matter", that he cares little for the definitions of good or evil, or who is right and who is wrong in any given situation or belief; Sonic just follows his heart, doing whatever he feels is appropriate at the moment. Fortunately, his heart generally steers him in the direction of heroism, but there have been occasions where he's taken actions that clash with the "hero" perception, and he's generally completely unrepentant about them.
- Whoever wrote the opening cinematic of Fatal Fury seems to believe this—Certainly, they existed: Those blinded by ambition, those consumed with vengeance. But here, they do not exist; only winners and losers here. For here, THE MIGHTY RULE!
- Lord Brevon from Freedom Planet is undeniably evil. Very, very evil. And yet he likes to play himself off like this, justifying his mass slaughter, torture, brainwashing, manipulation of the three kingdoms of Avalice into going to war, and the theft of the Kingdom Stone that powers the entire planet as necessary to save his homeworld (a homeworld that, by the way, is only in danger because Brevon is a tyrannical interplanetary warlord who's ravaged entire star systems,) while pinning as much of the blame for his actions as possible on the heroes for getting in his way and forcing him to react. Torque eventually throws this right back in his face.
Torque: You think you're some kind of blameless force of nature, don't you!? That the rules don't apply to you!
- Undertale has the Anomaly AKA the player. After all, the world of Undertale is fictional and you aren't. That being said, if you choose a No Mercy run, the game will attempt to say that no, the Anomaly isn't.
- Bob and George: After he blows up the fortress:
George: Uh — is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Bob: Oh, you and your moral sense of right and wrong. When will you realize you're above all that?
George: Are you trying to recruit me to the ways of evil again?
George: Leave me alone.
- Tarquin in The Order of the Stick displays this trope here.
- In Sinfest, Monique on the topic.
- Karate Bears displays this in Sharing With Friends
- In Tales of the Questor the philosophy of Rosad the Monster-maker and his followers.
- The Sovereign of Sorrow in Captain SNES: The Game Masta is described as this once, but it's unclear whether this is because she actually is, or because the character speaking is simply a video game sprite with an incredibly simplistic view of what evil is.
- In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, Mitzi believes this, but as an assassin-for-hire, it's more along the lines of not being picky about who signs the paycheck. It's also part of the reason with her family problems with Doc, as his using Batman as a role model caused him to align himself on the Chaotic Good side instead of the family's True Neutral status.
- In True Villains:
- Sebastian comes to adopt this mindset after switching from Nominal Hero to Villain Protagonist.
- The Gods each embody an ideal — Stability, Knowledge, Fear, Silly Antics, and so on — and show no interest in matters of good or evil. The God of Progress sponsors both The Paladin, a renowned hero, and Malanor, the First Vampire, whose Necrocracy overran most of the world in a reign of darkness.
- In The Gamer's Alliance, the Godslayer considers itself above other creatures, sees gods as relics of the past which must be wiped out, feels good and evil are needless concepts, uses its acolytes to spread prosperity and a new world order, and wishes to increase its knowledge by any means necessary. In its views the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, even if that means sacrificing many innocents along the way.
- The Warlord, from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, is a traveler from the future who came back to the present because he was bored. He didn't like the way things were going in his time, and he changes historical events at a whim. He considers himself "beyond" such petty concerns as right and wrong.
- Altair, according to the Grand Unifying Guesses: "(Altair) serves a higher power now. One that transcends the notions of race, gender and any concept of good and evil."
- In Atop the Fourth Wall, the Entity aka Missingno, is directly stated- by the protagonist, no less- to be a being beyond good and evil.
- In the Wisecrack Edition video "The Philosophy of Dragon Ball", Jared points out that the Dragon Balls and the powers they possess represent the Buddhist concept of "Emptiness", the idea that they have no inherent meaning, including inherent good or evil, but simple stores of energy that can be used for either, not unlike the blank scrolls from Journey to the West.
- Wan Shi Tong, the knowledge spirit from Avatar: The Last Airbender lands on the True Neutral (technical) pacifist side. He didn't care that the Gaang was looking for knowledge to stop the Fire Nation from destroying the world. To him, one war was the same as the other and the sides and reasons didn't matter. All that mattered to him was collecting knowledge and keeping that knowledge from falling into the "wrong" hands (read: anyone who actually wanted to use said knowledge). He went so far as trying to trap them in the hidden library once he discovered Sokka trying to smuggle out info on when the Day of the Black Sun would occur.
- The Gaang tried to argue with him based on their having good intentions and a desire only to protect people. Not gonna work on someone like this. They should have tried to argue that he has a responsibility for the damage already done by those who have used his knowledge. By allowing some people to access his library, Wan Shi Tong is at least partially responsible for how that knowledge was used (ie almost destroying the entire balance of the world). An argument along those lines might have swayed him to help them or even just let them leave before sinking the library.
- Another argument that might have held more weight with Wan Shi Tong would be to point out that his own beloved library would be among the things a victorious Fire Nation would have destroyed.
- It wasn't that Sokka wanted to take and use information, it's that he wanted to take and use information to fight a war. The owl was fine with them looking around, and didn't seem to mind Sokka nicking things too much, until he heard Sokka say candidly that they were going to destroy the Fire Nation when they're at their weakest.
- X-Men — in the appropriately-named "Beyond Good and Evil" four-parter, Apocalypse declares he is "not malevolent. I simply am." Eventually, after nearly destroying the world more than once, he starts to wonder if they actually have a point about the whole "malevolent" thing. He goes right back to destruction after that, though.
- A mad scientist supervillain in Mighty Max. He turns his de/evolutionary ray gun on himself to increase his evolutionary level. The first time, he turned into a large brained psychic. When he returns for another episode, he turns it on himself again and turns into a multicolored orb of "pure thought". He uses it a third time and starts babbling about "ultimate knowledge" and "hearing the music" before flying off. Wise fowl-man Virgil proclaims that he has "evolved towards the infinite, far beyond such primitive concepts like good and evil", which is funny considering Virgil is firmly on the "good" side.
- The Wizard Merklynn from Visionaries. His only desire is to see magic restored to its former prominence. As such, he doesn't care one way or the other about whether or not his agents are good or evil, so long as they perform the tasks he gives them. At the start of the series, he would also bail out whichever side needed his aid, in order to keep his agents in play (setting captured Darkling Lords free, for example). However, after one too many attempts by Darkstorm to steal his power, Merklynn decided to start letting the Darkling Lords get themselves out of trouble. He also became friendlier to the Spectral Knights over time, and took action against legitimately evil sorcerers.
- The Sociopath is usually the natural version of this trope. Sociopaths are not "evil", per se; their social conscience is just weak ("socio-" = social, "-path" = disorder), so they have the ability to easily disregard good and evil when they feel like it. A sociopath does not always base actions on good and evil; some sociopaths can be harmless, good, or even heroic, but their quality of goodness hinges on whether they personally want to do what happens to be needed, or whether they see a benefit to being good. If you have a sociopathic friend, sometimes the only way to persuade them of anything contrary to what they want is through cold hard logic based on best individual benefit, stripped of ethical relevance. And that's assuming they're rational people and they agree with you.
- Career diplomats and intelligence officers often develop a version of this trope where good and evil fade into nothingness before nation.
- And those are the good ones. The bad ones replace Nation with Promotion.
- Several Christian philosophers, most prominently C. S. Lewis, invert this trope and speak of people being below good and evil of certain kinds, because they lack the ability to go right and therefore cannot go wrong either. As Lewis puts it (somewhat paraphrased) "It is not the ordinary selfish man that one makes an Inquisitor or a Hitler from, but the great saint or the great patriot."
- This is the essence of real-life Just Following Orders. Since you effectively give up your right to conscientious objection (at least in the U.S. and Canada) when you join the military, if you're told to do something and it's a lawful order you're doing it whether you think it's a good or evil act. That said, thanks to certain unpleasant events in recent history, many modern militaries do qualify that this obligation only applies to lawful orders, and that indeed claiming "We were Just Following Orders" for participating in unlawful acts is not a sufficient defense.