->''"I'm not the man that killed President Luthor. Right now, I wish to Heaven that I were, but I'm not."''
-->-- '''Franchise/{{Superman}}''', ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague Unlimited''

If being good were as easy as most cartoons make it out to be, everyone would be a saint. [[FamilyUnfriendlyAesop Truth is,]] sometimes Being Good Sucks. Doing the right thing doesn't always [[GoodFeelsGood feel good]], is hard to pull off, can be painful, sometimes even harmful, to yourself and others. Being good requires a HeroicSacrifice, [[IGaveMyWord keeping your word]], and thinking of others before yourself. It means swallowing your {{pride}}, [[WhatTheHellHero owning up to]] and apologizing for your mistakes. It means doing the above without expecting a reward (even a spoken [[ThinkNothingOfIt thank you]]), [[KeepTheReward refusing one if offered]], and most ego-crushing, [[NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished accepting the punishment for being good]].

The variations are endless, but below is a condensed catalog:
* Sacrificing your own happiness: It can be any type of happiness, be it [[ItsNotYouItsMyEnemies denying romance to protect]] the {{Love Interest|s}}, or where their quest ToBeAMaster is leveraged against a friend's life when the FriendOrIdolDecision comes along.
* Giving up your ambitions: Usually these are selfish or dark ambitions, and denying them ''helps'' the character in the long run. When a character wants {{Revenge}} for the murder of a [[FriendlyTarget loved one]] in a world where IfYouKillHimYouWillBeJustLikeHim, their giving up murder (though not necessarily forgiving the villain) will cost them dearly but ultimately be the right thing. However, this can extend to less dark goals, when AmbitionIsEvil. If the story deems the character's dream as "selfish" or bad, they have no choice but to give up.
* Good behaviour. Obvious as it is, being good requires ''acting'' good. This means sharing, [[{{Forgiveness}} forgiving others]], not killing people and generally acting contrary to one's impulses to be a JerkAss to those disliked. No matter how much they may wish or be tempted to do otherwise.
* Humility and honesty. Honesty is a big source of Suck when being good. It means that any wrong doing on your part (or your friends') must be revealed. Worse, it means denying ProtagonistCenteredMorality and obeying the law. The character may find that to do what is right means going against stupid laws, becoming a wanted man, separated from loved ones, with their "reputation" ruined.
* Guilt over bad deeds - and [[SamaritanSyndrome not doing enough good.]]
* Being good would require the character to [[GoodIsNotNice stop being nice]]. Often in dilemmas where the character has to choose to either [[ToBeLawfulOrGood uphold a moral standard or being kind to others]]. Whether it's being CruelToBeKind, [[BrutalHonesty telling an uncomfortable truth]], or [[WhatTheHellHero calling out your loved ones for their mistakes]], the character will have to put aside their nice attitude and [[ShootTheDog do what they have to do]] for the sake of doing what's right. [[WasTooHardOnHim The character will not enjoy this at all]]. This may cause other characters to hate and resent the hero for making tough decisions that he is morally obligated to do.
* Redemption: A character realizing that BeingEvilSucks will turn to the side of good, only to find out that it comes at a price since RedemptionEqualsAffliction. This means the character has to put aside their ego and acknowledge that they are in the wrong, accept their karmic punishment, and [[MustMakeAmends work to regain the trust and respect from others]], even if people [[ReformedButRejected aren't willing to forgive]] or [[ForgivenButNotForgotten at least forget]] what they've done.

At times, it can lock characters into StatusQuoIsGod, where success requires an evil action, making winning and staying good impossible.

On the other side of the fence, this crops up when EvilFeelsGood. Often applies to a HeelFaceTurn character, or a hero who laments that they have to save somebody they hate from a burning building, or they don't get to kill their most hated enemy, because that's the "heroic" decision.

In a CrapsackWorld, this trope applies to a great degree but being ''anything'' in such a world generally sucks.

[[OppositeTropes Contrast]] BeingEvilSucks.
Also, see DownerEnding, or, if you're lucky, EarnYourHappyEnding. Compare NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished, where the good action (rather than the process of being good) is what gets the characters in trouble. May result in someone expressing SympathyForTheHero. Contrast KarmaHoudiniWarranty, where trying to turn over a new leaf can bring down heaven's wrath. This is one way people become an IronWoobie or a KnightInSourArmor, depending on whether the suffering is taken with quiet dignity or grumpy complaining.

There are many instances in real life in which being good doesn't suck that much. Scientifically, deeds perceived as good entail social recognition and approval, and bad deeds entail reprisal. Justice is one of the fundamental evolutionary imperatives that allows human society to function coherently; we may not all be saints, but we're not all lawless murderers. Unless you're a VillainWithGoodPublicity It's usually more profitable to abide by society's rules, and even in that case you're best off being AffablyEvil.



* ''Franchise/{{Anpanman}}''. Sometimes feeding the hungry means getting your head chewed apart on a daily basis.
* ''Manga/FushigiYuugi''. Being the Priestess sucks. Either you use your wishes solely for the good of others (with the possible exception of making one specifically to get home safely) and put up with VirginTension in a CastFullOfPrettyBoys deterring your love life, or you are consumed body and soul by the Beast God you summon if you fail this SecretTestOfCharacter.
* ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'' :
** Sayaka's attempt at being TheCape backfires because the strain of fighting as a Magical Girl while not getting what she wanted causes her sanity to start leaking down the drain.
** [[spoiler: The ending also qualifies, as Madoka's tradeoff for saving magical girls from their inevitable fate was her family and friends (save Homura) forget she exists.]]
** [[spoiler: Thanks to Madoka, this is ultimately inverted. Magical Girls who fight the good fight are implied to be taken to MagicalGirl {{Heaven}} by Madokami when their soul gems tarnish.]]
* ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'': Jean comes to realize this after [[spoiler: joining the Survey Corps. Doing the right thing, in this case, involves giving up his shot at a comfortable life in order to regularly risk his life fighting Titans]]. He readily admits that it sucks, while remaining resolute in his decision.

* ''Comicbook/SpiderMan'': Spider-Man is the best of the good guys ''because'' he always has the option of walking away. He can just throw away his costume and live in obscurity whenever he chooses, but he doesn't. He accepts that the good he does is worth the price he pays and fights the good fight. It's slightly masochistic, really but [[ChronicHeroSyndrome it's not his fault.]]
* Comicbook/{{Daredevil}}'s life as both a crime-fighter and lawyer have caused tragedy in his life. Being good sucks but it really, really sucks when you fight crime with both identities in "Hell's Kitchen".
* The Comicbook/{{X-Men}} protect a world that fears and hates them. This is why The Brotherhood never wants for recruits.
* ''Comicbook/DoomPatrol''. The world thinks they're freaks, the other superheroes think they're strange, and they have the ''highest fatality rate'' of any hero team in the DCU. No less than three of the team's incarnations have died.
* ''Franchise/{{Superman}}''. Sure, he has better publicity than Spider-Man [[spoiler:except for the government conspiracy that wants to kill him and all of his people]] and most of his friends and family are still around (except for Pa Kent), but deep down [[IJustWantToBeNormal he really just wants to be Clark Kent]]. Like Spider-Man, he ''could'' just leave the Superman identity behind and live his life -- if he could ignore the screams for help his super hearing picks up ''[[SamaritanSyndrome every minute of every day]]''.
* This is one of the major themes of ''ComicBook/SinCity''. Every protagonist goes through crap and sometimes has to forfeit his life in order to do the right thing.
* Franchise/{{Batman}}: At any point he could give up his identity and live the easy life as Bruce Wayne. Instead he goes out, night after night, fighting everything from common thugs, to a MonsterClown to gods.
** Comicbook/{{Robin}} and the rest of the Batfamily tend to go through this as well. The recurring theme is generally about determination and staying true to your ideals in the face of the worse.
* John Constantine the ''ComicBook/{{Hellblazer}}'' is a KnightInSourArmor. When there's a time that he's being a goody-good shoes, the world fucks him. Not only that, his friends, that sometimes joins him in his goodly crusades, gets fucked too.
%%* The opening narration of ''ComicBook/ForeverEvil'' Issue 1, provided courtesy of Lex Luthor, takes this tone. This changes by the end of the issue when the Crime Syndicate takes charge.
* The ComicBook/{{Runaways}} have spent several years serving as Los Angeles' only significant superhero presence, protecting the area against aliens, monsters, and the occasional supervillain. And what is their reward? Tony Stark has repeatedly tried to shut them down, and once managed to drive them out of Los Angeles, not to mention repeated harassment by social services.
* A back-up story, "The Day the Strangers Came", in ''ComicBook/TheAvengers'' Volume 1, Annual #19 (July 1990), has a boy named Hubie with a severe case of HeroWorship who discovers the people staying at his parents' bed & breakfast are actually the Avengers. He rushes to tell his brother this, only to discover his brother is the leader of the terrorist group the heroes are trying to locate, and he's planning on nuking Los Angeles and New York City. With a heavy heart, he goes into the guests' room and confesses what he's learned. Then, as the radio gives a news report about the Avengers thwarting the terrorist threat, he sadly goes to his room, [[TearJerker puts away his super-hero costume, and takes down all of his super-hero posters]].
-->''He knows he did the right thing. And if he has to again, he will. It's just, now, he doesn't ''want'' to anymore.''
%%This is the best I can remember the narration boxes for the final scene. If anyone has a more accurate version, feel free to fix it.

* ''Film/{{Casablanca}}''. All three of the primaries make (or try to make) personal sacrifices for the greater good, and as often as not, it hardly matters. They all get a roughly happy ending, but none of them get what they want.
* ''Franchise/DieHard'': Over the course of all five movies John [=McClane=] has come to believe this trope. Despite saving the day all those times, his family life has fallen apart and he gets little respect at work. He continues to save the day simply because he's "that guy", as he puts it in his own words.
* [[TheIdealist Kaji]] from ''Film/TheHumanCondition'' tries his best to prove humanity good by being altruistic, but suffers continually as a result of [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin the title.]]
* Referenced in ''Franchise/StarWars'': "Is the dark side stronger?" "No, no. [[EvilIsEasy Quicker, easier, more seductive."]]
* In the original ''Film/{{A Nightmare on Elm Street|1984}}'', Nancy refuses Glenn's advances because they were there for Tina's benefit and needed to behave themselves. Later, Glenn hears Tina and Rod having loud, enthusiastic sex in the room above him. He sighs and says "morality sucks."
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Megamind}}'': Metro Man's belief in this trope led to him [[spoiler:fake his own death so that he could finally get a chance to live his own life]].
* ''Franchise/PiratesOfTheCaribbean'': Captain Jack Sparrow learned this lesson long before the movies began. [[spoiler:Though his father was a high-ranking pirate]], Jack tried to find legitimate work as a merchant in the East India Trade Company. Then one day he discovered his cargo was ''slaves'', whom he freed. His employer at the time Cutler Beckett branded Jack as a pirate and sank his ship. Ever since then Jack has tried his best to live for himself and only himself. Unfortunately he can't always ignore his conscience...and when he does follow it he usually ends up suffering for it.
* ''TheManWhoShotLibertyValance''. Doniphon sacrifices his OneTrueLove (and credit for killing the titular character) for the sake of winning US statehood of an unnamed Western state.

* Discussed a lot in ''Literature/NightWatch'': the protagonist constantly wonders if it is really worth being good if all he does is angst about not being able to do more. Even if he ''does'' do more, the terms of the Treaty grant the Dark Ones the right to do more harm to balance the good. For example, if he cures someone's cancer, the Dark Ones are allowed to give someone else a terminal illness. Some newer Light Others snap and try to give happiness to everyone. Who has to stop them? Their fellow Light ones. Additionally, the Day Watch has to give out licenses to vampires and werewolves, condemning random humans to either death or forced conversion.
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'':It's a fairly well-known fact that Granny Weatherwax is only good reluctantly. She has stated that she only became the Good One because her sister usurped her chance to be the Bad One. In ''Discworld/{{Maskerade}}'' Granny gets an entire speech about all the things she could do if she'd just ''let'' herself be Bad, but sadly admits that when you know the difference between Right and Wrong you ''can't'' choose Wrong.
* ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'': Harry Dresden's life would be one hell of a lot easier if he wasn't so prone to [[ChronicHeroSyndrome trying to save people]]. Additionally, if he was more amenable to [[DealWithTheDevil making questionably-moral bargains with supernatural nasties]], he could be a god by now.
** Harry lampshades how Being Good Sucks when he's lent a Rolls Royce just as the situation starts to hit rock bottom. He finds the car irrationally comforting because he knows there's no ''way'' he's driving to his death in a car that nice.
%%* ''Literature/NineteenEightyFour''
* In ''Literature/{{Ivanhoe}}'', Rebecca refuses to marry Wilfred of Ivanhoe because she was Jewish and he was Christian and crossovers were looked down on on both sides. Sir Walter Scot said specifically that he was trying to avert GoodFeelsGood because he thought teaching readers to be good for that reason was a FamilyUnfriendlyAesop.
* Played with in the Literature/StarTrekEnterpriseRelaunch novels, where the heroes have to acknowledge that being ethical often sucks, due to how ineffective it sometimes makes them. During this particular timeframe in the Franchise/StarTrek 'verse, the Federation doesn't yet exist, meaning that those who live by an actual code of ethics have it far harder than in later eras. The people of Rigel X and Adigeon Prime demonstrate the lifestyle that ensures prosperity in this era; selfish greed, piracy, and a general policy of closing your eyes to injustice. Indeed, TheLeader of the Thelasian Trade Confederacy in ''Rosetta'' almost pities humans for their appeal to ethics. In ''The Good That Men Do'', Archer and Shran acknowledge that currently the "good guys" are somewhat powerless; while at a slave market on Rigel X, there isn't anything they can do to help without bringing a worse fate down on themselves. As Shran is often a HonorBeforeReason character, he does it anyway.
* A recurring theme in ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'', such as [[HonorBeforeReason Ned Stark]], whose unrelenting efforts to do the right and honorable thing [[spoiler: ultimately result in his execution, the near-destruction of his family and all the many calamities that Westeros has endured since his death.]]
** Jon Connington was exiled in disgrace for failing to find and kill Robert Baratheon. He complained that he could have done no more later in life to a companion, who retorted that [[PragmaticVillainy Tywin Lannister]] would have simply burned the town to the ground and dug out Robert's bones.
* ''Literature/{{Airframe}}'': Towards the end of the book, the heroine is feeling this way. She's been investigating a strange near plane crash and has been trying to do the right thing throughout and all she has to show for her efforts are a couple of videos showing the terrifying ride, she's being hounded by reporters who sense blood in the water, and it turns out she's been set up to take the fall if the plane is discredited.
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justine_(Sade) The Marquis de Sade's most famous novel]] is literally subtitled ''The Misfortunes of Virtue.''
* ''Literature/TrappedOnDraconica'': Daniar wonders if her merciful nature is a curse because her enemies keep coming back to torment her.
* If one trope were to sum up Jean Valjean of ''Literature/LesMiserables'', this would be it. His first struggle, after getting out of prison, is to learn that being good is worthwhile. It's remembering that lesson in the years afterwards that proves the challenge. Time after time, he's presented with chances to escape the law and live the life that would best please him, but at someone else's expense - and, [[WhatYouAreInTheDark even though no-one would ever be the wiser]], he always chooses right, even if it means putting himself through hell to do so. [[DaddysGirl Having an adoring adoptive daughter takes the edge off]].

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]
* ''Series/{{Smallville}}'': Clark Kent has had many hard decisions, but he always makes the difficult and right ones.
** Touched on in "Nemesis". SelfDemonstrating/LexLuthor is trapped in some underground tunnels rigged to explode. Clark and Chloe are sorely tempted to leaving him to die for what he did to Chloe and her mother before, but she reminds him that he doesn't get to choose whom to save, or otherwise he won't be [[TheCape Clark Kent]].
** When Chloe ran away with [[spoiler:Davis Bloome]] so she could keep Doomsday in check and protect Clark, seemingly forever, there was this exchange:
-->'''Clark''': But what about you, Chloe? Chloe, I'm gonna spend every second looking for you. I will find a way to save you!
-->'''Chloe''': [[TheNeedsOfTheMany Clark, you're not here to save one person, you're here to save all of us.]]
** Then...
-->'''Chloe''': I must have thrown a million [[KryptoniteFactor green rocks]] away and I've never really saved you. Now, I can.
-->'''Clark''': [[TearJerker Chloe, listen to me, this is your life that we're talking about. Don't do this!]]
-->'''Chloe''': Clark, if there's one lesson I've learned from [[TheCape you]], it's that choosing the greater good is never a sacrifice.
** She gets a small one in "Sacrifice" when [[spoiler:she clearly doesn't like her decision to save [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder Tess]].]]
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}''.
** Dean, Sam, Cas, Bobby and everyone else fighting to save the world get no reward and endure seemingly endless suffering for their heroism.
** The bad guys lampshade this. Meg Masters, a demon, is in the process of what could have been a HeelFaceTurn (if [[spoiler:she hadn't been killed by Crowley later that same episode.]]), and complains, "I'm... kinda good. Which sucks."
* ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|Reimagined}}'',
** Roslin, Tory, Tigh and Dualla [[spoiler:Help rig the presidential election so that Roslin wins. A Baltar presidency was thought by most intelligent characters to be potentially disastrous because his platform was for settling the fleet permanently on a less than ideal planet rather than find Earth.]] Adama finds out and [[WhatTheHellHero calls out Roslin on it.]] Despite her less than stellar moral record, she was a champion of democracy for much of the series (despite her veering dangerously close to authoritarianism at times), so this gets her to tearfully confess and [[spoiler:call off the fraud as a matter of principle.]]
** In the pilot miniseries, Helo gave up his seat on a Raptor ride off of Caprica to Dr. Baltar, thus condemning himself to an almost certain death, because Baltar was one of the Colonies' most brilliant scientists and thus Helo thought Baltar was more important to the human race's survival. The same Baltar who, unbeknownst to any other human, had given Number Six access to the Colonial defense mainframe, causing the holocaust in the first place. [[spoiler:It doesn't turn out that bad for Helo afterward, but in the Miniseries itself this is definitely the trope played]].
** Also during the Pegasus story arc. It was obvious that Admiral Cain was going to take over and completely undermine everything Adama and Roslin believed, and yet Adama was reluctant to do anything about it. (Probably because he had faced many of the difficulties she had.) Roslin has to practically order him to have her assassinated. [[spoiler: Both Adama and Cain make plans to off the other, but wind up calling it off. Fortunately, Baltar released a Cylon prisoner who really hated Cain, and she did the job.]]
* In ''Series/{{Firefly}}'',
** Simon got rewarded for rescuing his sister by having to live a life on the run for the rest of his life, where he periodically gets threatened with gunshots and being burnt to death.
** Mal and Wash get kidnapped and tortured for refusing to steal medicine from a planet where an epidemic had broken out. (Then there's the time and fuel they wasted without even getting paid.)
** In ''{{Film/Serenity}}'', Mal refuses to hand River over to the Operative, knowing he'll either kill her or send her back to the Academy for more [[MindRape Mind Raping]]. The Operative responds by [[spoiler: slaughtering as many of Mal's friends and associates as he can find, including Sheppard Book.]]
* In the ''Series/{{Buffy|The Vampire Slayer}}''-verse, the character Angel suffers from this. Once a horrific vampire, he was given a soul and forced to deal with the accumulated guilt of more than a century of evil deeds. In combination with his constant struggle against his vampiric urges, never-ending struggle against the forces of evil, constant loss of hopes for a HappilyEverAfter, he knows for a fact that the Senior Powers won't let him improve the situation.
* In ''Series/TwentyFour'', if Jack Bauer would simply let someone else worry about national security, he might have a good day. Being Jack Bauer, this will never happen.
* In ''Series/DoctorWho'',
** The Doctor has to deal with this all the time, in particular during his [[Creator/DavidTennant tenth incarnation]]. He's constantly trying to do the right thing, often though, his over objectivity causes more trouble than it seems worth (see what he did to Harriet Jones career - by ruining her career because she made a choice he considered immoral, he unintentionally paved the way for [[spoiler: the Master to become prime minister and turn Earth into a dystopia in a prequel to destroying it completely)]]. People also tend to get killed trying to save him leaving him with one hell of a GuiltComplex.
** Jack has a case of this in the Ninth run. When he goes into a suicide mission against the Daleks, he says that he was better off a coward.
* ''Series/HighwayToHeaven'': Jonathan the angel and his sidekick Mark Gordon both dislike the fact that [[GodIsGood they have to do God's will when they'd rather beat someone up]]. In one episode, Jonathan goes against God's will and beats up a group of guys for stealing a guy's lunch.
* ''Series/BlackAdder'': A Blackadder's Christmas Carol seemingly confirms this trope, showing the main character just how much Being Good Sucks and how improved his life and the lives of his descendants will be if he turns evil. [[spoiler: Then it goes and inverts it at the end by having Blackadder's newly acquired nasty behavior cost him a knightship and a large sum of money. (Although said behavior ''did'' finally get all of his leeching freeloaders off of his back, so that accounts for something.)]]
* On ''Series/{{Bones}}'', Booth's boss, the Deputy Director of the FBI has a teenaged daughter who's dying from lung cancer. Bones refuses to let it lie (as that's ''very'' unusual) and discovers that her broken leg the previous year was grafted not with a 20-year old donor's body part, but the bone from a 60+ year old woman who was riddled with cancer. On learning this, and that it doesn't in any way changes his daughter's death sentence, Booth's boss thanks them for the information, informs them that the FBI isn't his personal police force, tells them to hand the information to the appropriate agency, and walks back into his daughter's hospital room, fighting off ManlyTears.
* Jeff Winger comes to this conclusion in the season 4 premiere of ''{{Community}}'' after deciding to turn over a new leaf and abandon his self-serving ways.
* Shinji Kido in ''Series/KamenRiderRyuki'' tries his damndest to stop the other participants of the Rider War from killing one another. It does horrors for his emotional well-being. [[spoiler: Towards the finale, he even decides to outright participate in the Rider War]]. [[spoiler: Then, [[TheHeroDies he dies]].]]
* This has become the theme of the ''Series/GameOfThrones''. Many of the characters that try to do the right thing, end up suffering for it in the end. While the characters whom plot and scheme against others, typically get their way.
* In episode 1836 of ''{{Series/Sesame Street}}'', Mr. Snuffleupagus enters the New York Marathon, which only Big Bird is aware of, due to the [[FailureIsTheOnlyOption adults not yet]] [[NotSoImaginaryFriend believing in his existence]]. Eventually, Big Bird waits for Snuffy, who comes in last, long after the race ended, while Gordon and Susan agree to wait in their car, falling asleep by the time Snuffy shows up. Big Bird wants to wake them up so they can see Snuffy, but Snuffy tells Big Bird not to, since it's not nice to wake people up. Big Bird remarks, "it's not easy being good. Sometimes I wish I was a grouch."
* Earl Hickey on ''MyNameIsEarl.'' Making up for mistakes is not easy. Sometimes people are too angry with him for his former misdeeds to accept his efforts to make up to him, or are just plain selfish. Sometimes making up for list items (or even helping people ''not'' on the list!) costs every dime he has. [[spoiler: Although he always gets the money back eventually.]] Sometimes [[TheDitz (OK, most of the time)]] Randy doesn't understand what he's doing or why and/or screws up Earl's mission. Sometimes Earl doesn't know how to make things right, especially since the problem is usually a lot more complicated than it's written on the list.

[[folder: Religion/Mythology ]]
* OlderThanFeudalism: The Bible in general describes the path of righteousness as a narrow and perilous road, compared to the wide and easy path of sin.

[[folder: Tabletop RPG ]]
* ''TabletopGame/NewWorldOfDarkness'' is Scylla and Charybdis in RPG form. You can either be good and stick to your principles, which will likely get you killed or hurt badly (and there's no guarantee you can EarnYourHappyEnding in this CrapsackWorld), or, you can be a JerkAss who amasses power and lives longer at the cost of a laundry list of minor and medium sins... which usually ends with you either dead at the hands of a monster, or becoming one to stop it from killing you (or to stop the previously mentioned good guys from killing you).
* ''TabletopGame/PrometheanTheCreated'' is a aversion. Sure, there are ''even more'' obstacles in your way than any other supernatural. For one, ''[[HatePlague every living thing hates you by instinct]]'', but you can EarnYourHappyEnding - humanity, freedom from the pain of Promethean life and acceptance by Nature. There are ''rules'' for getting a happy ending. Just stick very, very tightly to being good.
* ''TabletopGame/ChangelingTheLost'' has Clarity as its Morality meter; at the very bottom of this meter are things like ''kidnapping'', because acting more like the True Fae that abducted you makes you more like them. This still applies if kidnapping someone because you can't ''explain'' why you need to get them out of their situation immediately since it doesn't make logical sense. Stealing a baby gets you that same degeneration roll, even if you're doing it because the Wild Hunt just burst out of the garden archway of a daycare playground.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}''
** Applies this to renegade Abyssals, who can't settle down or huge bursts of necrotic Essence will kill everyone in the area; they can't directly oppose their former patrons or they'll take enough lethal damage to cripple them or knock them unconscious; and people tend to be even more afraid of them than the normal Solars, because of the whole "sometimes looking like a skeleton and bleeding from the forehead for a caste mark" thing.
*** Fortunately, new rules have been provided which allows an Abyssal's Lunar Exalted Mate to ease their burden through ThePowerOfLove (or [[ThePowerOfFriendship friendship]], if that's how they roll). An Abyssal can freely commit "sins of Life" with their Lunar Mate (protecting their lives or having sex with them, for example), and the Neverborn are incapable of punishing them for it. If the Abyssal actually cares for their Lunar, they can even freely commit "sins against Death" for them with impunity -- which includes directly opposing their former patrons. This same update also included guidelines for how Abyssal Exalted can redeem themselves into free, untainted Solar Exalted, a process which Lunar Mates make much easier.
** Same thing applies to the Green Sun Princes. If they decide to go against the will of their Yozi patrons (which is usually "Make Creation such a shithole that it can technically count as Hell, which means we can get out of our prison"), they begin to accrue Torment that leaks out and affects others. In fact, the only way to bleed off Torment is to [[CardCarryingVillain perform cliched acts of utter bastardry]], however, [[PayEvilUntoEvil it says nothing about who you have to perform them on...]]
*** Unlike Abyssals, Green Sun Princes ''cannot'' be redeemed into normal Solars during life but the same difference means that if their essence was somehow delivered to Autochthon, the Unconquered Sun, or a similar entity after death, it could be purified in this manner.
** This is also a game mechanic for Infernal and Abyssal Charms. The former were specifically designed to avert BadPowersBadPeople by not being particularly malevolent in practice. You can use Infernal Charms to feed the hungry, force corrupt gods to do their damn jobs, protect your loved ones, bestow regeneration on loyal agents and turn into a benevolent counterpart to a hostile Exalt, while most Abyssal Charms boil down to "hurt people" and "be like the dead". GSP's who are serious about [[FaustianRebellion breaking out]] can [[AvertedTrope kick the snot out of this model]] around Essence 6. There's an entire keyword, Heretical, for Charms that revolve around flipping their patrons the bird, and one such Charm allows them to tell the will of the Yozis to go screw.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Deadlands}}'': Later settings, including ''[[AfterTheEnd Hell on Earth]]'', went so far as to codify how much Being Good Sucks for most of its [[MagicAIsMagicA Arcane Backgrounds]]. Templars, for instance, [[SecretIdentity lie to almost everyone they see about who they are]] and blithely pass judgement on everyone they meet. {{Muggles}} that aren't "good enough" are left to their own devices or even hunted, but, as ultimately [[AntiHero heroic souls]], they all know that the "hardest thing you'll ever have to do is walk away."
* ''TabletopGame/{{Ravenloft}}'' is a world purposely designed to make sure evil always flourishes and good never triumphs. The entire world is ruled by [[PowersThatBe the dark powers]] that put psychotic overlords in charge of each land. Even if you kill them, someone else will likely take their place. However, this is also a setting where being evil [[BeingEvilSucks isn't much better]], since the Dark Powers enjoy tormenting the aforementioned overlords even more than they enjoy tormenting the good guys.
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'': Paladins of first through third-edition generally suffer ''some'' degree of this trope: the frequency and intensity depend on how strictly your game group judges actions on the alignment spectrum. Sure, the benefits of the class are pretty sweet, but you CantGetAwayWithNuthin, and the rest of your group - even though you're not ''required'' to enforce LawfulGood beliefs on them - are going to have difficulty pursuing any evil, or even chaotic, goals.

%%* A major theme in ''Theatre/AManForAllSeasons'', which provides one of the quotes above.
* ''Theatre/LesMiserables'': Valjean tries to feed his sister's starving child and gets 19 years of incarceration. At several points he faces a choice between helping someone or avoiding trouble for himself.

[[folder: Video Games ]]
* ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'': Kotomine feels this way. The [[Literature/FateZero prequel]] goes in depth into the reasons why as he desperately searches for ''something'' that he likes to do that isn't evil. Failing that, he looks for someone who was at least empty like he was, which is why Shirou interested him so much. In any case, he had to sacrifice his happiness, ambitions and act good when he ''really'' wanted to act evil but was in denial about it. He's still very honest, and he feels guilt! [[BeingEvilSucks This causes]] [[RageAgainstTheHeavens other problems.]]
%%* Dr. Freebird's wrestling with this is central to his storyline in ''[[VideoGame/TraumaCenter Trauma Team]]''.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics'' - Ramza's a WideEyedIdealist in a CrapsackWorld. Even after it's made very clear that he's going to spend the rest of his life (if not the rest of history) branded as a heretic, he remains determined to Do The Right Thing.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTacticsAdvance'' Marche knows that by getting his friends to come home to the real world means destroying their happinesses and he will be hated for it, but he does it anyway because it's ultimately the right thing to do for his friends' well being.
* ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'':
** The Followers of the Apocalypse have an ethos of providing medicine, food and education to anyone who needs it. In the post-apocalyptic Fallout-verse, this results in them being understaffed and forever running out of supplies.
** Companions Arcade Gannon and Veronica Santangelo, both idealists in their own way will not end up with satisfying endings. Arcade will see that an Independent New Vegas isn't as perfect as he wants it to be but does what he can to help others while other paths have him be disillusioned or wind up dead, either due to his Enclave heritage or due to being enslaved by the Legion. Veronica will either [[MyCountryRightOrWrong stay with]] the Brotherhood of Steel despite knowing that their current path will lead them to ruin or be forever traumatized by their zealotry after leaving to join the Followers. J.E. Sawyers states that one of the themes of the game is that in a world as harsh as the Fallout setting, the idealist is the one to be hurt the most.
** This applies to the Honest Hearts DLC with New Canaanite Missionary Daniel. If he succeeds in evacuating the Sorrows as he wanted, he'll forever question himself on whether or not he did the right thing. If they instead choose to [[TrainingThePeacefulVillagers stay and fight]] the White Legs, he'll be forever haunted by their loss of innocence.
* ''Franchise/MassEffect''
** No matter how nice [[AllLovingHero Paragon Shepard]] is and how many good things s/he does at his/her own personal risk, s/he still gets reprimanded and screwed over by the politicians of the Citadel Council and Ambassador Udina around every corner. No matter how strict of a Paragon you are, you still have to choose between letting the Council die, or allowing the human Alliance fleet to suffer heavy casualties. There is no ThirdOption, and no "reward choice" for being a good guy.
** In [=ME2=] and especially [=ME3=], it gets really bad, and there are conversation options that indicate Shepard is [[TheChainsOfCommanding feeling this trope quite heavily.]]
** On the plus side, there are some aversions to this - if you take the moral high road, Shepard ''can'' use this fact to shame the hell out of the people who call him/her on lesser sins.
* This is a huge part of the backstory of ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'''s Byakuren. Attempting to achieve piece and equality [[FantasticRacism between humans and youkai]]? [[SealedGoodInACan Enjoy your millennium in Makai]], traitor.
* Being the team's healer in a multiplayer or a MMORPG can often invoke this. You will have a lot of responsibilty in keeping your teammates in living condition and you'll often get the blame if something goes wrong, even if it isn't your fault. This is know as the Blame the Healer mentality. Besides that, you will often become the Nr. 1 on many enemy players hit list.

* Acknowledged in ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' when [[spoiler:Roy dies and is interviewed in the afterlife]]. He passes because even though he isn't always a paragon of LawfulGood, he always tries, rather than accepting an "easier" alignment that would require less work. This means he gets to go to [[{{Heaven}} the true afterlife]] while his jerkass father is stuck outside the gates.
* ''WebComic/MagickChicks'': After being transferred to Artemis Academy, forces conspire to try to reform [[BlondesAreEvil Melissa]] - from having [[http://www.magickchicks.com/strips-mc/tis_but_a_trifle strange dreams]] about a mysterious little girl, to ending up with a magic wand that seems to [[http://www.eeriecuties.com/strips-ec/stupid_magick_stick act as her conscience]]... whether Mel wants it, ''or not''. But she's [[HeelFaceRevolvingDoor determined to fight their influence]] as the realization that she's begun to change [[http://www.magickchicks.com/strips-mc/quite_popular literally sent her running!]]
** It's even invoked in the comic's tagline: "Being ''good'' never felt SO '''BAD!!'''"
* ''StartOfDarkness'': Xykon explicitly argues this to a Professor X {{expy}} as a reason he's turning towards evil. Why the hell should Xykon ''protect'' a world that hates and fears him? The real reason is because he's a dick.
* At the beginning of the ''Webcomic/SamAndFuzzy'' NMS revived arc (when Devahi starts working for them), Sam and Fuzzy are dispatched to take care of a problem that involves megalomaniacal gerbils and some really sinister wine. When, at the end of the job, Sam tries to take the wine with him, the owner of the restaurant who hired him stops him, because even though it's opened, and partially drunk, and incredibly dangerous, it's still gotta be worth at least as much as he's paying Sam to save his sorry hide. Sam walks out, with the wine but sans pay, commenting that doing the right thing sucks. Sam ''always'' tries to do the right thing, and it ''always'' sucks for him.
* Big Ears from ''Webcomic/{{Goblins}}:'' puts it best.
-->'''Big Ears''': "Imagine the worst thing that's ever happened to you. Now imagine that it's not just happening to you, but to everybody you care about. That's what evil feels like."
-->'''Chief''': "Blaah! That sounds unbearable, why would anyone want to become a Paladin?"
-->'''Big Ears''': "So others don't have to."
* James the TokenGoodTeammate of ''{{Webcomic/Roommates}}'' sacrifices, protects, let's his beloveds go if necessary, is humble, prone to [[HeroicSelfdeprecation self-depracate]] etc. and seems to be as close to an IdealHero as it is possible in the setting... but he will never get the recognition or a happy ending because this is a MetaFic so for good to have ''any'' real reward you need to be TheHero and he isn't. He is determined to be good despite this and [[EarnYourHappyEnding Earn His Happy Ending]]... or at least occasionally [[DrowningMySorrows drink until he forgets]].

[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender,'' Zuko suffers a HeroicBSOD after setting Appa free from captivity to help Aang, symbolically ending his quest to capture the Avatar.
* The ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'' quote above comes from a scene in which Superman compares himself to his KnightTemplar EvilCounterpart from another dimension, and he ''won't'' reduce SelfDemonstrating/LexLuthor to a splatter across the nearest building for the loss of Franchise/TheFlash. Since the League rescued Flash immediately after that, he could take pride in retrospect at showing how strong he ''really'' is, deep down.
* In the ''KimPossible'' episode "[[Recap/KimPossibleS3E4BadBoy Bad Boy]]", Drakken is depressed when he figures out that [[ItMakesSenseInContext becoming evil again for the greater good]] will mean no more playtime with Rufus.
* ''[[Disney/TheEmperorsNewGroove Kronk's New Groove]]'' has Kronk, the MinionWithAnFInEvil. Despite how much he feared his father for not being successful, he gave up a good home, and a girlfriend so that his friends would not be harmed or have bad lives due to his desires. [[spoiler: Subverted as he gets a thumbs up from his pop and his girlfriend back]].
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Animaniacs}}'': The amount of abuse [[BadlyBatteredBabysitter Buttons the Dog]] gets while protecting little girl Mindy not to mention the thanklessness and misunderstanding of the dog's owners, who OncePerEpisode think the dog is disobeying their orders, is only rewarded at the end by Mindy patting the bruised and battered canine on the head and saying, "[[CatchPhrase Silly puppy!"]]
** In TheMovie ''WesternAnimation/WakkosWish'' every character's wish comes true -(except [[TheChewToy the Mime]]). Buttons' wish is to finally get recognition for his actions by his owners. [[ThrowTheDogABone He receives a large bowl of raw steaks.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AdventuresOfTheGalaxyRangers'': Shane Gooseman was already questioning his purpose as a TykeBomb and unwilling to accept unnecessary casualties during SuperSoldier training. Because he decided to stay loyal to his creators during the riot, he is considered a traitor by his brethren and was forced to accept a deal where he became a HunterOfHisOwnKind. As Killbane aptly pointed out, he's considered a ''slave,'' neither human or Supertrooper.
* In one episode, WesternAnimation/{{Doug}} finds an envelope with a large amount of money and decides to turn it in at the local police station. His friends and his sister Judy give him a fair amount of flack for it until the thirty-day waiting period is up; since no one has claimed the money, it is now legally his. Just as he's adding it up, a CoincidentalBroadcast airs about a little old lady who is missing the exact same amount of money. Reluctantly, he returns the money to her, whereupon she rewards his honesty with ''[[DudeWheresMyReward a pack of spearmint gum.]]'' At least Judy takes him out for a milkshake as a sign of implicit approval of his honesty.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Daria}}''
** The title character of is usually too [[TheCynic cynical]] and [[BrilliantButLazy lazy]] to try doing something good, but when she does, she usually runs into this trope, with her efforts proving ineffective ("The New Kid") or only partially effective ("Fizz Ed," "See Jane Run").
** [[LovableAlphaBitch Quinn]] runs into this in the GrandFinale: she confronts her friend about her alcoholism, but this creates a rift in their relationship without having any apparent effects on her drinking.
* ''WesternAnimation/GoofTroop'': PJ lives his entire adolescence with this trope as its message. At best, he gets someone to console him, fix things for him, or make up with him after they or someone else maliciously or carelessly hurt his feelings or made things difficult for him. Most of the time he has to seek a resolution himself and sometimes has to resort to passive-aggression or violence in order to achieve the right results. Otherwise, his somewhat selfish friend and extremely selfish father always have the upper hand over him, meaning that he spends most of his time doing other characters' bidding. He's not only treated as an ExtremeDoormat, but also a (sympathetic) NoRespectGuy and TheDragAlong, and has been actively ''slandered'' by a talking hat before. He ''eventually'' [[EarnYourHappyEnding get a happy ending]] in the second movie.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'': Goliath's Clan constantly put human lives above their own. Their reward is being called monsters, having objects thrown at them and sometimes an organization with full military troops seeking to either kill them or capture and dissect them. On the other hand, they have a fanclub and the humans that ''know'' them, such as Elsa and [[FriendlyEnemy Xanatos]] think otherwise.
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'': Kyle always tries to do the right thing, even if it doesn't get him rewarded or gain happiness. It becomes more apparent when Cartman, a sociopath at the age of 10, is involved because despite Kyle hating him with all his heart, he could never let Cartman suffer from his own stupid actions and wants to at least see him do the right thing once in his life.
* The titular character of ''WordGirl'' finds a hard time in having fun due to her crime fighting.
* ''WesternAnimation/ThunderCats2011'': Lion-O was looked down upon by both his own people and others for showing mercy to the other races of Third Earth, and when he tries to do the right thing, it's often at the expense of either his own safety or happiness. At the very least, Lion-O's actions are shown to have positive effects in the long run despite the hardships.
* In the season 2 premiere of ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'', Discord gives {{Breaking Speech}}es to each of the Mane Six about how much friendship either sucks and how it's better off to be selfish in the end, right before inverting their personalities to be contrary to their normal selves.

[[folder: Real Life ]]
* [[http://www.paradoxicalcommandments.com/ The Paradoxical Commandments]] outright state that every attempt to be a good person will be met with failure and resistance, and that this should in no way stop you from doing good. Doing good, even though it's hard at times, [[KnightInSourArmor adds to your virtue]].
* Oskar Schindler, [[GuileHero due to his way with people]], managed to shelter over 1200 Jews during the Holocaust by claiming they were "essential workers" at his enamel factory. He saved all of them from suffering and death. Unfortunately this bankrupted him, and he lived on charity from the people he saved.
* Applies to witnesses to crimes who want to testify, but fear retribution by the criminals or their associates. You could go into witness protection, only to lose everything you have to live a completely different life.
* [[http://denver.cbslocal.com/2012/01/28/2-students-face-expulsion-for-sharing-an-asthma-inhaler/ Two girls were suspended]] and faced expulsion when one had what looked like an asthma attack and the other shared her inhaler.
* Anytime anyone sacrifices their own life to save another. Sure, dying so that others may live is perhaps one of the most selfless things that anyone can do, but you still have to ''die''.
* It's a well-known (and [[TearJerker sad]]) fact that kids who are bullied at school often get in trouble for retaliating in self-defense. Now, go ask somebody who has tried to interfere and protect a victim from being bullied. Chances are they got in trouble along with the victim. It's also not unheard of for kids who try to defend a victim from their bullies, only to become the next target.
* Many victims dealing with [[DomesticAbuse spousal]]/[[AbusiveParents parental]] abuse who [[TheDogBitesBack retaliate against said abuser]] (especially physically in self-defense) will often find themselves facing the charges, while the abuser ends up the one interpreted as the victim by the authorities.
* [[http://now.msn.com/living/0416-ohio-hs-grad-ban.aspx This high school student]] was unable to graduate because he missed 16 days of school. Those days were spent caring for his cancer-stricken mother. Fortunately, the decision was reversed.
* Being a Whistle Blower at your job. You will be thanked and given a small reward, but good luck ever finding another job. A person can also face criminal charges depending on which company or organization they blew the whistle on.
* One of the few reasons why sexual harassment at the workplace usually goes unchallenged. Sometimes, if the person who is doing the harassing is a vital employee to the company whereas the victim is just some new guy/girl or desperate for their job, it's not too unheard of for the company to just fire the person complaining about the harassment.
* If you're an altruistic person you'd better avert StupidGood behaviour, otherwise, you might get exploited for all you're worth by freeloaders.