"Hope is what makes us strong. It is why we are here. It's what we fight with when all else is lost. "In worlds where everything is dark and everyone operates in a Black and Gray Morality, a hero is suddenly introduced and is portrayed as genuinely good, selfless, and noble when all other so-called heroes operate in a more Grey and Gray Morality. The hero's arrival is usually portrayed as a sudden spark of lightheartedness and hope. The character may even be a Plucky Comic Relief, providing some tension-reliving humor and levity into the dark and miserable world. Such a character gives an unexpected and almost out of place light to the media, and stands out against their fellow "heroes" and villains as being incorruptible and perhaps even Purity Personified. This can also include characters that have been around for a while (and are not suddenly introduced), but remain incorruptible even when the medium turns dark and other heroes fall or turn. Opposite of a Knight of Cerebus. Compare to Hope Bringer and Lighter and Softer. Can potentially be an instance of Mood Whiplash.
— Pandora explaining the importance of hope even in the darkest of times, God of War III
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Anime & Manga
- Attack on Titan:
- Sasha Braus, though starting off as more of a comic relief, quickly shows her goodness when all the others give up hope. Though she too feels fear and even lets it get the best of her sometimes, she is selfless in her cause and only wants to protect others, only saving herself so she may save others later.
- Historia Reiss, originally introduced as Krista Lenz, is a tragic character with a Dark and Troubled Past, being the illegitimate child of a now all-but-extinct evil royal bloodline. Despite her hating herself for her family name, she only seeks to help others, and cares little to nothing about herself.
- Black Butler:
- Elizabeth Midford, Ciel Phantomhive's fiancée, is a chipper and bright ray of sunshine among all of the dark, brooding anti-heroes and bloodthirsty villains. She wants everything to be bright and cute, much to her dark fiancée's displeasure. However, she is also a skilled swordswoman and will fight to defend those she loves, though she'd rather not do this.
- Prince Soma Asman Kadar helps out the others whenever he can, and holds a respect and care for Ciel and Sebastian that surpasses his royal heritage. Though usually used as a Plucky Comic Relief, he does aid Ciel in investigations and competitions.
- Soul Eater: Despite a dark comedic tone, there are very few incorruptible heroes, though Tsubaki Nakatsukasa is the exception. While the other heroes can be kind and friendly, they are also shown to be capable of great cruelty and violence. Tsubaki, on the other hand, wouldn't hurt a fly unless it was for the safety of those she cares about, and remains pure even after the series gets darker.
- Death Note
- Soichiro Yagami, despite being a bit stern, is the voice of reason within the Kira Investigation Group and always helps set the group back on track if they begin to stray morally. Even when it seems that the only way to progress is to do something wicked, Soichiro will fight it or look for another way, only showing force as an act or when he has no choice.
- Touta Matsuda, while a bit of a comic relief, is pure in his sense of justice. He seeks to end Kira's seemingly endless cycle of killing and to give all those lost the justice they deserve. He is the ever-optimistic pawn in the system, but nonetheless will fight for what he believes in, only becoming violent when more lives are at stake.
- Armageddon Force: While all the other heroes and villains have no qualms about taking a life, the vampiric Johan will only kill those who mean to kill, and will not harm the innocent. He despises violence and will always look for another way. When he must fight or even kill, he first prays to God for forgiveness.
- The Bartimaeus Trilogy: Ptolemy was a magician and one of the first to research and come back alive from the Other Place. He created Ptolemy's Gate before his death, a way for people to travel back and forth between the Other Place. Even though Ptolemy dies before the series begins, he is one of the few unquestionably good characters in a world of people with questionable moralities.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: Eddard Stark is a voice of reason and a man of honor and virtue in a world where there are few. Even with the world against him, he remains incorruptibly good, never letting the evils of the world seduce him.
- "Alice of Human Sacrifice": The evil Wonderland Dream manages to corrupt others and give people the chance to live out their most sadistic fantasies. However, the pair of twins that make up the Fourth Alice are charming, intelligent, and so pure that the Dream fears that they may restore goodness to it. Fearing their potential for good, the Dream kills them both and turns them into aspects of its world.
- My Life with Master: Used as an actual gameplay mechanic; the game's setting is thoroughly Gothic Horror, initially dominated by Fear over Reason, but the Game Master may introduce up to two "Innocents", i.e. NPCs who are so morally pure, their mere presence brings out the best in people. Mechanically, this means that any Innocent who is present during a scene temporarily raises its overall Reason ranking, making it easier to resist Fear, but if one of them is killed or traumatized, the global Fear score permanently goes up.
- Doki Doki Literature Club!: As the experience darkens and characters are killed off or revealed as villains, the Player Character remains hopeful that things will work out, and does his absolute best to ensure that everyone, even the victims and villains, feel good about themselves and stop whatever tragic or sinister plans they have.
- Bendy and the Ink Machine: While most of the cartoons are villainous and trying to kill Henry, Boris the Wolf is the exception, being a friendly, calm cartoon character that helps Henry in his quest to atone for past sins. Though he's cowardly, he shows that he is possibly the only good cartoon in the studio.
- God of War III: Unlike the violent gods or the wrathful Kratos, Pandora is hopeful, kindly, and seeks to restore hope to those who have none. Instead of harboring vengeance against those who have wronged her, she wishes them to realize the error of their ways and only wants peace for her warring world.
- The Last of Us: Deuteragonist Ellie will fight to defend herself and those she loves, but mainly only wants to survive and bring help to those around her, whether it is physical or emotional. She helps protagonist Joel through the zombie-infested world, and will share her commitment with any allies that wish to help her too.
- Slender: The Arrival: As Slender Man stalks Oakside Park, killing and corrupting everyone and turning them into Brainwashed and Crazy killers, protagonist Lauren seeks to help her friend Kate by any means she can, even if it means facing the horror of Slender Man face-to-no-face or even giving her life to stop the monster's rampage.
- Sonic Forces: The titular and iconic Sonic the Hedgehog takes the role in this darker entry in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. After Dr. Eggman takes over the world, then captures Sonic and locks him away, most of Sonic's friends form a resistance to try and fight back, but start to lose hope that they will succeed. Sonic eventually escapes from captivity, and despite having been apparently been tortured for months, he still keeps up his attitude and optimism, and helps the resistance fight, giving them newfound hope and strength.
- TinkerQuarry: Many of the Living Toys in the Dollhouse are, or have become, psychotic killers. Those who aren't are generally gloomy and serious, or completely oblivious to it all. Whiskers and Skid are the two main exceptions to this rule. Despite all the horrors going on, they remain sweet, friendly, and very optimistic, and provide lighthearted moments in what would otherwise be a completely dark storyline. However, this trope is subverted if you take the "bad" route and steal the Essence from Sera, one of the more violent toys (Skid and Whiskers were friends with her previously, and aren't aware that she went bad). Skid and Whiskers are nice to you until they find out that you have Sera's Essence. They believe you to be the monster, and waste no time trying to kill you. After the battle, they despondently run away before being captured later and used to create a monster... needless to say, all of this can be averted if you play just as nice as they would.
- Marble Hornets: As everyone else makes morally questionable decisions in their battles either for or against the evil Operator, Jay Merrick seeks to uncover the truth about the monster, helping as many people cope and deal with the situation as possible. Though many people reject his help or even attack him for his involvement, Jay continues his noble quest until it claims his life.
- SCP Foundation:
- SCP-208, or "Bes", is a friendly, jovial man who literally radiates an aura of friendliness and good feelings, and only wants to help make other people feel good, especially when faced with the evils of the Foundtion's enemies.
- SCP-999, appropriately named the "Tickle Monster", is a sentient orange goo that only wants to spread laughter and joy by tickling people, and has yet to fail in its task, even against Eldritch Abominations like the wicked SCP-682.
- The man within SCP-1287, whoever he was, just wanted to give people the chance to see loved ones they had lost again by toughing their names on the SCP-1287 monument, even if it meant sacrificing himself.
- SCP-2295, the "Bear With A Heart of Patchwork", is a cuddly teddy bear that uses cloth and stitches to create and/or repair entire organs and body parts, which it then uses to save as many lives as it can. All of its patchwork organs work perfectly, and it asks for nothing in return.
- Sausage Party: While everyone else is perverted, violent, and swearing up a storm, Barry the hotdog is the innocent straight man of the pack, and is often bullied by other heroes and villains for it, until he finally stands up for himself and proves himself a worthy addition to the team.
- The Secret Of NIMH: No matter how dark, cruel, or dangerous the people or world around her gets, Mrs. Brisby remains hopeful, optimistic, and grateful. Even when faced with the violence of both her enemies and allies, Mrs. Brisby continues to push herself forward and is ready to sacrifice herself for the safety of her children.