Benevolent Conspiracy

We are the Invisible Hand. We are the Illuminati.
We come before and after. We are forever.
And eventually... eventually, we will lead them into the day.
Morgan Everett, Deus Ex

The Conspiracy that secretly rules the world and manipulates the lives of the common muggles is, for a change, a force for actually good rather than evil, though perhaps not Lawful Good, depending on who runs the Government. Indeed, a Benevolent Conspiracy might actually be run by the Government, in order to discreetly fight against evil, or at least to protect the interests of the people they lead. (Which is probably not to say "the current administration"; these kind of secret conspiracies are looking to a longer view). One such goal of this conspiracy might be to work against a more powerful enemy without provoking an all out fight against them, or to prevent the populace from breaking out in a counterproductive panic by revealing things too them before they are ready.

Despite their intent a Benevolent Conspiracy can still be antagonists. Well-Intentioned Extremism is a danger for any viewpoint, and there's always the possibility of a Renegade Splinter Faction developing. It's even possible they just screwed up and designated the protagonists as enemies when they were really on the same side. And regardless of whether they're really the good guys they probably don't appreciate being revealed and will take steps to prevent it (though the truly good ones will probably just steal the evidence rather than Make It Look Like an Accident).

Contrast the Nebulous Criminal Conspiracy, which is very definitely evil. If run by the government it's likely a case of No Such Agency. Like a regular conspiracy, may be headed by an Omniscient Council of Vagueness. May overlap with an Ancient Order of Protectors, particularly when a Sealed Evil in a Can is involved, though they're more often an Impartial Purpose-Driven Faction.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga 
  • Hypnos in Digimon Tamers. Sure they're monitoring telecommunications of half the planet, but they're trying to counter other electronic espionage and criminal activities. Plus someone has to make sure the public doesn't freak out when digital monsters attack.
  • It's sort of implied that The Speedwagon Foundation in Jojos Bizarre Adventure is this, especially in Part III. Every time the protagonists run into some sort of trouble with the law, they just need to make a single phone call, and everything's fine.

     Comic Books 
  • In one two-part Amazing Spider-Man story during Eric Larson's run, Spidey teamed up with The Punisher to find out who was hording thousands of tons of cocaine but not selling it. It turned out that an agency in the actual U.S. Government (which one was not revealed) was behind this scheme. Worried that the economy's dependence on the Gold Standard might be a liability if gold were to lose value in a crisis, this agency was actually considering using cocaine as the new standard, reasoning that drugs always had value. While both Spider-Man and the Punisher knew this was a sick and misguided idea, they decided against exposing it; not only would it be hard for a judge to believe "a man in a mask like me and a walkng gun shop like you" as Spidey put it, knowing about such a thing would hurt - if not destroy - what trust remained in America's government. (However, they did destroy the cocaine. Letting the conspiracy continue was not an option.)

    Fan Works 
  • In the fanfic, Equestria: A History Revealed, the narrator's insane conspiracy ramblings aside, it is hinted that she discovers some inkling of truth behind the truth of the regime and alicornification in Chapters 11 and 12. However, the subtext behind the conspiracy clearly implies its purpose was for the greater good of Equestria, as it prevented the complete collapse of the nation after the defeat of Discord, and restored stability to the nation by creating a central leadership figure for the ponies to believe in.

    Film 
  • The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense from the Hellboy films (as opposed to the comics, where they worked openly). This is a secret organization that protects the world from supernatural dangers.
  • Men In Black: A secret agency on Earth, which started as a Government Conspiracy (but avoids them now, because "they ask too many questions"), covertly coordinates with alien governments to control alien immigration to and from Earth, as well as carefully controlling the importation of advanced alien technology.
  • The Magi in The Mummy Trilogy, a secretive organization actively works to prevent explorers from unearthing Imhotep's tomb, including outright killing innocents in order to keep the secret.
  • Indiana Jones: The Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword were/are a group sworn to keep the Holy Grail a secret and away from those who would misuse its gifts. They have little problem in trying to kill those who would seek the Grail as they are backed by divine will. Nor do they have a problem with dying themselves to keep it secret if they have to.
    Kazim (To Indy): Ask yourself, why do you seek the Cup of Christ? Is it for His glory, or for yours?

    Literature 
  • The NSA is portrayed as one in Digital Fortress.
  • The Foundation series, from Isaac Asimov:
    • The series initially presents the eponymous Foundation as being one of these: a hidden organization that, through it's machinations, is attempting to steer human society through the dark ages into a new prosperous age. Later on, the Second Foundation is somewhat presented like this.
    • And, of course, at the end of the series it's revealed that the robots from tens of thousands of years ago, who had seemingly disappeared from the galaxy, have been benevolently guiding humanity's path the entire time.
  • Isaac Asimov's short story "The Dead Past". The government is secretly trying to prevent anyone from developing a time viewer device (a device that can show the past). The protagonists disagree and not only develop such a device but distribute the plans widely. A government agent then explains to them the reason for the ban: such a time viewer could be used to spy on anyone, anywhere in current time. The widespread availability of such viewers means the effective end of personal privacy for the human race.
    • Of course, Asimov was an outspoken authoritarian, and thus never answers the corollary: the government has controlled the time viewer for decades, and admits to using it to spy on the protagonists. Personal privacy ended long before, it's just that no-one knew it save the government. Also, the government has similar laws against all unregulated scientific research-presumably enforced via chronoscope.
  • The Dresden Files: The White Council of wizards attempts to be this for humanity, although opinions are strongly divided as to how well it succeeds. In fact, the official party line's denial of the existence of an evil conspiracy in their midst (despite strong evidence) prompts some characters to form a Benevolent Conspiracy of their own, so they can act against the evil one without censure from their higher-ups.
  • In the Belisarius Series, the good guys who are movers and shakers of the Byzantine Empire begin their plans for dealing with the evil Malwa without telling the Emperor or Empress, the former of which being something of a paranoiac who sees conspiracies against him and doesn't really trust the titular general out of fear Belisarius' Cincinnatus behavior is just an act, and not for real. This is a downplayed version as Empress Theodora later joins them.
  • Safehold has the Brethren of Saint Zhermeau, with the goal to destroy the corrupt Path of Inspiration Church, and bring back the knowledge of humanity's true history. Also the Circle, which wants to reform the Corrupt Church from within.
  • the Order of Solomon in L Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter. Utterly ruthless about quenching all knowledge of the existence of magic — so people resort to trying to help themselves instead of groveling before evil beings to obtain power. The Scientific and Industrial Revolutions were possible only with their unflagging efforts.

     Live-Action TV 
  • In Babylon 5 the heroes and their supporters form what they call a "Conspiracy of Light" against The Shadows and their minions and pawns.
  • The watchers in Highlander. The greater good is writing a history book, but some members have their own agendas.
  • Stargate Command and its associated organizations, which fought and won three separate interstellar wars in defense of Earth without any Earthling not cleared being any the wiser. They've been known to protect the secret by simply beaming the evidence away, or by buying off a news company with the promise of an exclusive when the program goes public. Not to mention their diversionary tactic of backing a cheesy cable science fiction series about a secret government organization that roughly does exactly what Stargate Command does.
  • The Warehouse Agents in Warehouse 13 are a secretive millenia-old organization that finds and hides artifacts so they can't harm anyone and so unscrupulous people can't use them.
  • UFO: The organization known as SHADO (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defense Organization) uses land, sea and air units to intercept and destroy attacking/invading UFOs. It also acts to keep the alien attacks a secret, sometimes by erasing the memories of people who encounter aliens or UFOs.

     Tabletop Games 
  • The eponymous agency in Bureau 13 Stalking The Night Fantastic. It's a secret U.S. Government agency devoted to tracking down and dealing with evil supernatural forces.
  • The S.A.V.E. (Societas Argenti Viae Eternitata, or, The Eternal Society of the Silver Way) organization in Chill. It fights against dangerous creatures from the Unknown.
  • Delta Green. The eponymous group is an illegal organization inside the U.S. government that investigates and deals with Cthulhu Mythos related threats.
  • Firewall in Eclipse Phase is an inter-faction conspiracy dedicated to preventing the extinction of what's left of transhumanity at all costs.
  • The Task Force VALKYRIE from Hunter: The Vigil is a secret branch of the US military, created to fight against supernatural threaths and to enforce The Masquerade. Of course, they only appear benevolent from the mortal standpoint, the other critters of New World of Darkness don't appreciate them much.

    Video Games 
  • The Assassins in Assassin's Creed try to stop the Templars from installing a One World Order. On the other hand The Templars have many Type III Anti Villains and seem to think that Utopia Justifies the Means but they have some questionable methods of reaching their goals (starting World War II for example) and they believe that Humans Are the Real Monsters.
  • Morgan Everett tries to portray the Illuminati as this in Deus Ex. To be fair, they really come across as one when compared to the more immediate and malevolent conspiracy at hand, set in motion by their spin-off organization Majestic-12. Deus Ex: Human Revolution, however, doesn't portray them quite as kindly.
    Everett: You and me, JC. We'll rule the world in secret, with an invisible hand, the way the Illuminati have always ruled.
    JC Denton: Don't you think it's time we end the tyranny — for everyone?
    Everett: There's such a thing as a compassionate conspiracy.
    • In the "Join Illuminati" ending, Morgan and JC are rebuilding the world - however, Morgan reminds JC they have to do it through proxies.
  • The Keepers from the Thief series. They're more apathetic than benevolent, but they're (in theory) dedicated to preserving Balance of Power. They just decided that not interfering was the best way to do it.
  • X-COM and XCOM: Enemy Unknown have the player as the head of the military division of a secret global initiative to defend planet Earth from invading aliens. Complete with a surprisingly affable Omniscient Council of Vagueness to report to.
  • The Star Cabal in Star Wars: The Old Republic style themselves in this way, seeking to curb the Jedi and Sith Orders in general and their tendency towards massive, mutually destructive wars in particular. However, over the centuries, it has grown less noble; not only has it Jumped Off The Slippery Slope in a big way, its members have grown less concerned with keeping the peace and more concerned with how their access to massive resources and information on virtually everything in the galaxy can be used to improve their lives and/or bring down their enemies. After bringing down the Star Cabal, the Imperial Agent has the opportunity to use their Black Codex and "disappear" — erasing themselves from all records and becoming untraceable — in order to become a Benevolent Conspiracy of their own within the Sith Empire.
    • At the end of the Yavin IV arc of Shadow of Revan, there's a more-or-less official Benevolent Conspiracy formed between Satele Shan and Jace and Theron Malcolm, with the Player Character's involvement. They're an actual Republic joint task force investigating the reborn Sith Emperor but their real goal is basically to act under the Supreme Chancellor's nose if need be. The Chancellor isn't all that happy about this, but when the Supreme Commander of the Republic Army, the Grandmaster of the Jedi Order, and one of their most senior spies, who are coincidentally(?) husband, wife, and son, want to go off and conspire together there's not much you can do about it.
  • The three secret societies that the player can join in The Secret World generally have good intentions. The Templars are very up front about their desire to defend mankind against occult threats. The Illuminati are more self-serving, but there's no way to get ahead and to the top of the pile if the whole planet has been destroyed. The Dragon have a more enigmatic end goal, involving a study of chaos theory and universal mathematical principles, but they still send agents to intervene in occult crises and protect humanity.

     Web Comics 

     Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation isolates and contains threats to human survival or "normalcy". They're definitely a darker interpretation of this trope: in this universe, sometimes one's choices boil down to committing atrocities, or seeing humanity go extinct, and the SCP Foundation is ready and willing to commit those atrocities.

     Western Animation 
  • In Transformers Prime, Team Prime and the US government secretly work together to defend the Earth from Decepticon invasion. The Autobots also share their advanced technology with humanity in exchange for a safe home and logistical support in defending the human race.
  • In South Park: In "Mystery Of The Urinal Deuce, The Government didn't start 9/11, but they created the 9/11 conspiracy movement. They did it because they don't want to appear as a nation weak enough to let such an attack happen, the movement giving them an illusion of power to some.