"If half an onion is black with rot, it is a rotten onion. A man is good or he is evil."Good versus Evil. White hat versus black hat. The shining knight of destiny with flowing cape versus the mustache-twirling, card-carrying force of pure malevolence. The most basic form of fictional morality, Black And White Morality deals with the battle between pure good and absolute evil. This can come in a variety of forms:
— Melisandre of Asshai, A Clash of Kings
- Motivation: The villains never have a sympathetic motivation for their actions. There aren't any Well-Intentioned Extremists, and The Mole will show his true colors once he's unmasked. Rather, their intentions are entirely for the sake of Evil (and may involve taking over or destroying the world). Likewise, the forces of good never have any evil, ulterior motives for their deeds, as they do good because it's The Right Thing To Do.
- Choices: All major choices that the heroes are faced with are either unambiguously right or wrong. There are no real grey areas at all, and when a Sadistic Choice is presented, there's always a third option. Furthermore, the heroes will always make the right choice, unless they're about to learn An Aesop or pull a Face–Heel Turn.
- Characterization: The good guys are good, and the bad guys are bad. If there are any morally ambiguous or grey characters around (such as an Anti-Hero or Worthy Opponent), they will eventually shift firmly to one side or the other. They'll either switch to the side that matches their actual perceived alignment, or turn fully good or fully evil. Minor characters may maintain some degree of neutrality, but the major characters will all be on one side or the other. Occasionally there will be a short scene explaining the neutrality is inherently evil (or, very rarely, good). To avoid an Author Tract, some writers prefer to claim that being neutral is similar to supporting the stronger side. However, as the Neutral Neutral page on this Wiki will show, the reasons for being neutral number in the double digits, not including Lawful Neutral and Chaotic Neutral, or any combination thereof.
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Anime and Manga
- In Detective Conan no matter the reason(s) behind a crime; Shinichi/Conan will state that it is still wrong and the criminal must face the consequences for their actions.
- This trope is played straight in Digimon Adventure: While the kids and their Digimons represent virtues (Courage, Friendship, Love, etc.) their enemies (Such as Devimon, VamDemon/Myotismon and the Dark Masters) are evil incarnate.
- Dragon Ball Z: In every conflict, there's generally two sides: The Z Fighters (clearly good) and whoever they're fighting, who's clearly bad. Even though many characters may start out somewhat ambiguous, being an Anti-Hero or even an outright villain, they firmly cement themselves on the side of good before too long. Even Vegeta who spends the series in a Heel–Face Revolving Door settles into the side of good eventually. At no point is there ever a question as to whether the Arc Villain du jour is justified or anything but a villain. Averted with the TV special Bardock- The Father of Goku, which goes straight into Black and Grey Morality territory with Bardock and the Saiyans on the grey end and Frieza on the black end.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: This happens a lot over the course of the series, Phantom Blood with Jonathan and Dio being the most blatant, though other parts do share this mindset to an extent. Even Part 5, with the heroes despite being Mafia generally act more like cops against the clearly evil Big Bad.
- The Mazinger franchise (Mazinger Z, Great Mazinger, UFO Robo Grendizer, New Mazinger...). Except Shin Mazinger, where the good guys include various criminals, and the bad guy is unironically a bad guy, but holding back a bunch of even worse guys. Which is still within "black and white", but with a small twist.
- Dr. Hell is also consistently shown to not be the kind of Bad Boss who punishes his subordinates for being unable to beat the heroes. The only reason he locks up Baron Ashura in Mazinkaiser is because he went over the Doctor's authority on a matter, and he still was willing to let him fight when Ashura begged him to let him.
- The morality in these series is more greyish than it seems. Dr. Hell became mad after having endured years of abuse, insults and mockery from everybody -including his parents- since he was a little kid, and when he made a good action, he usually got beaten and scorned. Great General of Darkness wanted taking over the surface world because the Mykene civilization had been forced to live underground for millennia and he wanted his people enjoyed again things humans take for granted -such like seeing sunlight and breathing fresh air-. Emperor Vega began invading other planets because his own homeworld was dying, and several of his henchmen were Well Intentioned Extremists wanted establishing a benevolent dictatorship because they genuinely believed Earth people would be better off. And, frankly, humans in the trilogy often acted like utter bastards and forced the heroes to reflect about their motivations.
- Science Ninja Team Gatchaman: The heroes are (almost) completely good, while the villains are absolutely evil.
- A common element in Chick Tracts, the Christian protagonists are good while the nonbelievers are evil, or at least a Jerkass.
- New Gods justifies this trope by transforming a single planet into two purely good and evil worlds.
- Steve Ditko's Mr. A comic lives and breathes this trope, being Ditko's interpretation of Ayn Rand's Objectivism in vigilante form.
- The Question under Ditko was essentially a more marketable version of Mr. A. His Captain Ersatz Rorschach, however, deconstructs it to reveal Black and White Insanity.
- Children of Time. The series runs on Deconstruction and Reconstruction of multiple elements, Even Evil Has Standards, and there's one gut-wrenching case of Jumping Off the Slippery Slope. Nevertheless, the lines between Good and Evil remain painfully clear. The Big Bad and his Dragons are realistically Obviously Evil, and though the heroes' ethics are definitely put above the law, they are there and pretty strict.
- Elly Patterson of For Better or for Worse saw life in this matter in the fanfic The New Retcons. The two problems were that she could not handle anyone with different viewpoints form her, and that her ideas of what 'black' and 'white' are were so twisted that they might as well be Blue and Orange Morality. This, among other things, contributed to Elly losing her mind for about two years.
- In My Little Unicorn the unicorns are good, Titan is evil. There is no depth to any of the characters.
- Ojamajo Doremi Rise Of The Shadows: The Shadows are evil and trying to Take Over the World AND exterminate their light halves. Said light halves are good and only act to defend themselves.
- Dungeon Keeper Ami: The Dungeon Keeper world works by this trope, having only two sides for people to be on. The side of the Light Gods, which is Good, and that of the Dark Gods, which is Evil.
- And the confusion inspired by a champion of love and justice keeping a dungeon heart is one of Mercury's greatest strengths. Even the one outside group that believes she's not irredeemably evil wants to imprison her for eternity.
- Dungeon Keeper Of Love And Justice shares the trope, as a Recursive Fanfiction of the above.
- In Chrysalis Visits The Hague, this is subverted - Most of the ponies are adamant about the fact that Chrysalis is evil incarnate and they themselves are the defenders of all things harmonious. Suffice to say, the humans (Chrysalis' lawyer Estermann in particular) are quick to contest this.
Films — Animated
- The Disney Animated Canon uses this all the time. Pixar uses it pretty frequently too, though their villains are more likely to have sympathetic motivations.
- The true exception to "sympathetic motivation" is A Bug's Life, where Hopper says that keeping the ants under control is more important than just getting food from them.
- Hercules adds this morality in adaptation. Hercules, Zeus and Hera become purely good. Hades becomes purely evil. In the origional myths they were a lot more morally ambiguous. The only grey character in the movie is Meg. This is one side effect of being Hijacked by Jesus.
- In the Compilation Movie Once Upon a Halloween, a villain is plotting to do something evil while her magic mirror tries to talk her out of while showing her clips of various Disney movies. In the end the villain decides she doesn't want to go through her plan anymore, but the mirror kills her anyway for even attempting it in the first place.
- In Epic all Boggans are completely evil without any redeeming feature, while all the Leafmen and their allies are good.
Films — Live-Action
- The Box: Anyone who pushes the button is evil and must be used as statistics in supporting human extinction and anyone who doesn't push the button is good and must be enslaved. "Arlington Steward" even apologizes to the main couple, saying this is how it must be and it cannot be negotiated.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- Captain America: The First Avenger is one of the few Marvel movies to follow this morality exactly (in fact, aversions include this movie's own sequels). This is justified in-story through the Super Serum that created both Captain America and his enemy the Red Skull, as it enhances people's true qualities—good becomes great, bad becomes worse. Steve Rogers is an idealistic, friendly guy who just wants to do his duty for his country by fighting bad guys, and becomes a capable war hero. Red Skull is a bullying Nazi extremist too evil even for Hitler, is so narcissistic as to have a god complex, and becomes an Omnicidal Maniac.
- Thor: The Dark World: Thor and his allies (with the exception of Loki) are heroic paragons, and their Dark Elf enemies just want to destroy the universe for no real reason.
- Cats & Dogs: Dogs are good, and cats are evil.
- Gladiator. Maximus is a brave, noble veteran who initially wants to make Rome a republic again and later wishes to avenge the murder of his wife and son. Commodus is an insane, patricidal megalomaniac with a Caligula complex and a creepy fixation on his own sister.
- Ridley Scott's Legend (1985). The heroes are an innocent Princess Classic with Virgin Power and a group of forest inhabitants trying to protect the sacred unicorns who make life possible. The villain Darkness is a demonic Evil Overlord who rules over an army of evil goblins and cannibalistic pig-men executioners and wants to create an eternal night to bring about the end of the world.
- Schindler's List: It does not get much more blatantly evil than Amon Goeth and his Nazi buddies, and it definitely does not get more genuinely righteous than heroes like Stern and, eventually, Schindler. Played with in that the protagonist himself starts off as a knowing war profiteer and user of slave labor, but Schindler eventually becomes a better person when he truly realizes what is happening around him.
- It does throw in some grey morality however by showing both Jews who try appeasing or collaborating with the Nazis (in particular the ones who join the Ghetto Police), as well as Nazis who do not approve of the Holocaust (such as one Nazi official who almost breaking down in tears when he describes to Schindler what happened to boatloads of Jewish 'experimental subjects', or the Nazi soldier who loses his mind at the sight of the burning mountain of corpses).
- Star Wars: The rebels are good, The Empire is evil. Black And White Morality is enforced by the Force in the case of the Jedi. If Jedi aren't committed 100% to the Light Side, it's only a matter of time before they become insanely evil. Star Wars is in many ways a fairy tale (IN SPACE!) Only in George Lucas's canon however. In Star Wars Legends things aren't so black or white.
- Discussed in Vera Drake. When the truth comes out about Vera's secret profession (back-alley abortions) and Sid chides her for it, Stanley quietly accuses Sid of seeing the matter this way.
- Pacific Rim: The protagonists are good, well-intentioned and noble, the kaiju are Chaotic Evil monsters that cause nothing but destruction and mayhem.
- Independence Day definitely counts, The humans are all good, while their alien adversaries are given no motivation aside from stealing resources.
- Soldier of Orange: The Dutch resistance and their British allies are clearly heroic, the German occupiers and their fascist collaborators are clearly evil. Notably, this contrasts with Verhoeven's later film Zwartboek, which applies Black and Gray Morality to the same conflict.
- The page quote comes from A Song of Ice and Fire, which actually averts this as a series; the setting is rife with Gray and Grey Morality. The speaker, however, believes fervently in this. Just to drive the point home, a book later one character is handed an onion, half of which is black with rot... and he cuts off the rotten bit and gladly eats the rest. Apparently Melisandre's never faced a famine.
- Also deconstructed in A Wizard in Rhyme when a college student gets transported into a Fantasy Counterpart Culture version of France, where God and Satan are very real, saying damn really means you are sending said person to hell, and magic works on this principle. Being from our world, the rigid code causes a lot of problems as he adjusts.
- Taylor Anderson's Destroyermen series. The American/Lemurian alliance is good, the Grik and any Lemurians or humans who don't support the alliance are bad.
- The Dresden Files both follows and averts this.
- This series and main character clearly believe in right and wrong with committing certain actions like one human murdering another with magic strengthen the forces of evil and certain creatures like Fallen Angels and Red Court Vampires objectively evil.
- Averted in the wizards and muggles are, after all, human and have Free Will, and have difficulty knowing the right action. As a reformed murderer-by-magic, he knows one bad action won't necessarily condemn a soul to being evil.
- Many supernatural creatures like the Winter Fae, while evil by human standardsm operate by Blue and Orange Morality and are not considered objectively evil.
- It can be hard to remember that in the earlier books, the fights between literal agents of Heaven and Hell were much more commonplace. The books also imply (by way of Sanya) that angels and the like aren't really Good of themselves, but rather its their actions that make them Good, and that they'd still be Good if you replaced "angel" with "superpowerful aliens that look like angels". Despite that, even angels can be harsh and militaristic, with job descriptions such as "general" and "spook". Very evil is still evil and depraved, though. However, this is fairly true to the source material, and fits the Dresdenverse quite adroitly.
- Uriel does invoke this, assuring Harry that the Archangel likes Star Wars over Star Trek because of this trope, and because it makes him "feel young". Despite the fact that "Mr. Sunshine" existed since before Creation, given the way that the superpowerful beings of the Dresdenverse interact with time, this is a slightly bizarre statement.
- One particular entity born from evil is not condemned to never change. The Shadow of Lasciel, a Fallen Angel, resided inside Harry's mind for several years with his continued refusal to take up her coin. Originally she is just a carbon copy of the ancient and powerful fallen, but years of existing in Harry's malleable mind began changing her. When Harry finally nicknames her as "Lash" he inadvertently gifted her with a bit of his soul and gave her Free Will, making her realize she is now truly distinct from Lasciel and should Harry take up the coin, it would mean her "death" when the true fallen takes up residence. Lash chooses to sacrifice her existence to save Harry from a powerful psychic attack.
- Harry Potter starts out this way. Dumbledore is the Big Good, Harry and his friends are the heroes, the other students are generally nice except for the Slytherins, and Voldemort is the Big Bad. As the series goes on, it adds more shades of gray with turncoats on both sides, a corrupt government opposing Voldemort, heroes paying evil unto evil, and Harry discovering that his father and Dumbledore have...complicated backstories. It's still essentially a "Good Guys vs Bad Guys" story, with villains clearly inspired by WWII, and the hero and his two best friends who go through the whole story, including a civil war, without killing anyone ever.
- Inheritance Cycle: The Varden and Elves are good, The Empire is evil.
- Eragon tries to give this a significant amount of thought, as a number of characters point out that he's fighting because other people told him to, however right they may be. After a significant amount of angst, Eragon comes to the bizarre and defeatist conclusion that he has to cross the ocean to train the next generation of riders. He left behind civilization, everything he fought for, the chance to shape the creation of the next major golden age, and the chance to get into Arya's (the only woman for whom he could hold genuine affection) tight leather pants.
- The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion: Broadly speaking. The respective villains Sauron, Saruman and Morgoth are evil, and those who oppose them are good. On a closer level this is not so - Sauron, Saruman and Morgoth's Orcs are Always Chaotic Evil, but their human forces are not, which is lost on many a critic. More than one character notes how they must be manipulated or forced to do their will.
- Broadly speaking. See the quote at the top of Grey and Gray Morality. The Silmarillion in particular tends to be white, grey and black. (Surely people like Fëanor, his sons, the Noldor in general, Thingol, Túrin, etc. cannot be thought of as all black or all white.)
- Outside of the Silmarillion there are many other examples. Gollum, Lobelia and Denethor (in the book, the movie plays him as more of a straight forward villain) are anything but clean cut good or bad guys. Despite its lighter tone The Hobbit averts this a lot more than its darker sequel. Thorin is for the most part noble but also a greedy, proud jerkass who would risk a war to hang onto his gold while Beorn is kind and friendly but kills an Orc who had already surrendered and puts its head on a pike.
- Indeed, it would probably be best to say that Middle-Earth has Black-and-White Morality, but only as extremes- Eru and the Valar are pure good; Morgoth and his directly corrupted minions are pure evil; most of the non-divine characters lean strongly one way or the other, but aren't "pure". This ties in to temptation being a major theme of LOTR in particular.
- Averted in The Children of Húrin. Túrin is well meaning but also a morally ambiguous Jerkass who blows over the Moral Event Horizon when he murders a lame man in cold blood, his Lancer Androg is a serial rapist and murderer and the group's traitor, Mîm the Dwarf is a sympathetic Anti-Villain whose actions are motivated by the relentless persecution his people suffered from the Elves as well as Androg's cruelty. Even after his betrayal he inists that Túrin be released unharmed.
- Stieg Larsson's The Millennium Trilogy, like the works of the aforementioned Spillane, is a rather dark tale of good versus evil: the heroes are all noble and well-intentioned, and the villains are all pure evil.
- Catherine firmly believes this in Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey. She grows wiser.
- Redwall: If you're a mouse, otter, vole, badger, hedgehog, squirrel, or lapine, you're good. If you're anything else, you're evil. (Except for cats and birds - they're case-by-case. Voles can also go either way.) If you're a fish, you're dinner.
- The Sparra, being a Wacky Wayside Tribe, tend toward neutral.
- There were a few exceptions-one sea rat was nice, and horrified by his captain's evil deeds, and one shrew murdered his chieftain, then took off with the sword of Martin the Warrior.
- Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Almost all the good guys are handsome/beautiful, and the bad guys are either ugly as sin or ordinary-looking. The choices the characters make are unambiguously good or evil. The characterization of the characters is either good or evil.
- The Symphony of Ages series: Rhapsody and those who love her: Good. Those who don't love Rhapsody: Evil.
- Except for Michael has got the hots for Rhapsody and is evil.
- Sword of Truth: The heroes are good and noble, and always right, while the villains all Kick the Dog like they're in an international dog-kicking competition.
- In the Tortall Universe it's true that expressing any disdain for peasants is a clear sign that someone's a villain. In the first quartet, Song of the Lioness, you can tell who's good and who's bad by how friendly they are to Alanna. The rigidness starts to loosen in Protector of the Small (with some I Did What I Had to Do siuations), the hero of Daughter of the Lioness is a spymaster who gets her hands in all kinds of Dirty Business, and the Provost's Dog book have a kind of light-gray-and-black morality thanks to Police Brutality and The Needs of the Many—while Beka and her friends always try to do the most right thing they can, they face instituational limits.
- Deconstructed in Warrior Cats. Hollyleaf starts out with her absolute trust in the Warrior Code, and believes that all who follow it are good, while those who don't are evil. After using the code to justify most of her actions, she learns that her very birth broke the code, and that someone she had respected had broken one of the code's core principles, but for a good reason. After learning this, Hollyleaf's mind was completely shattered, and she realized that her morality was flawed, leading her to attempt to murder her own mother, then flee from the Clans.
- Warrior Cats is at first an example of Greyand Gray Morality with ThunderClan and ShadowClan each having their good warriors (Firestar, Graystripe, and Yellowfang come to mind) and their bad warriors (Brokenstar, Tigerstar, and Darkstripe) but in the fourth series... Black-and-White Morality is in effect as the Clans go against The Dark Forest cats who are indeed evil. Also in effect during the fight with Blood Clan who are (with few exceptions) very black.
- Although the Discworld doesn't follow this in a meta sense, Granny Weatherwax is a firm believer in this. She refutes Grey and Grey Morality by insisting that grey is only white that's got grubby.
- The Chronicles of Narnia feature this. Aslan and all he stands for are good, his enemies are evil, and anyone caught in between who isn't clearly either when introduced simply hasn't chosen their side yet (or, worse, is already evil and just lying about it — Nikabrik the dwarf in Prince Caspian for example could be read either way).
- In Avalon: Web of Magic, villains are always Obviously Evil (think excessive shadows, gloating, and poisonous magic)- unless disgusing themselves- and trying to achieve inarguably selfish goals through crimes of the first degree (murder, thievery, brainwashing). Is it realistic? No. But it's fun. That said, the heroines are frequently tempted to do things they know are Evil (that's how the series' villains became villains to begin with), and their friendship is important in part because it keeps them morally grounded.
- William S. Lind, author of Victoria seems to think this way. You either support Retroculture and the Ten Commandments, or you're a 'Cultural Marxist' out to tear down Western Civilization from within.
Live Action TV
- Burn Notice, through and through. Westen and his allies are good, his antagonists are always evil. The villains of the week are almost always dog kicking assholes. If that wasn't enough the true antagonists, the shadowy organization behind the burn, has absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever. As for Westen's crew, they are always seen by everyone as perfect and never wrong, even though Westen himself has largely selfish motivations for what he does.
- There is the little issue of Michael accidentally getting Jesse burned.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff Angel both play with this. Each starts out as a clear-cut example, but later seems to drift to somewhere between this and Black and Gray Morality, with the protagonists usually doing the right thing, but not always, and most of the antagonists remaining dog-kicking villains. Also, despite usually being portrayed as good in the sense that they're well-meaning, the heroes of both shows often encounter situations that are portrayed as morally gray, leading them to disagree with each other on what the good course of action is. A villainous example would be The Judge from Season 2 of Buffy, who kills based on whether a target has humanity or not. Any vampire with sufficiently human traits—like interest in books, or involvement in romance—is a fair target to him, even if they're otherwise serving evil purposes.
- The 1992 movie that started the franchise, however, is black-and-white all the way (it was largely a comedy, after all).
- Charmed: You are either good or you are evil. Yes, you have to choose and then there's nothing in between. The only ones who don't follow this are the Angel of Death and the Avatars, but they are a class of their own, not something in between. To break it down: witches are good, demons are bad. More specifically, anyone who are allies with the Charmed Ones and they like them, they are good. Anyone else is bad. Even the neutral ones because you can't trust anyone who is neutral. Also, all witches after they first get their powers, must decide if they are good or evil within 24 hours and if they do something evil in that time frame, even if they were tricked into it and thought they were doing good, they are evil for the rest of their life.
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit deconstructs this for Stabler in the episode "Nocturne": he forms a rapport with the victim of a pedophilic piano instructor, but later discovers that the victim also abused children himself, at the original abuser's instigation. He finds himself being torn by his hatred of pedophiles and belief that pedophiles abuse because they were abused, themselves, is little more than an excuse, and his desire to help the victim.
- Lost: While it's unclear whether either character has purely good or purely evil motivations, the series has boiled down to an epic, eternal conflict between Jacob, the representation of white and seeming "good guy," and the aptly named "Man in Black," better known as the Smoke Monster, the representation of black and alleged "evil incarnate."
- Enforced in Once Upon a Time where doing something morally questionable, no matter what the circumstances are, will turn a good guys heart black; this only applies to the heroes, however, as the antagonists are more morally complex.
- Power Rangers and Super Sentai: Rangers and their friends are good; even the shady ones have an excuse: street-level hoods? Stealing to survive and help other homeless! Guy working with the mob? Screwed them all over to help an orphanage of Littlest Cancer Patients! Professional thief? ...Okay, that one was just glossed over, but he's probably one of those guys who's legitimately hired by companies to test security.
- Power Rangers Dino Thunder's Mesogog, while still black, was a particularly grey shade of black, as he is the sole villain of the series to not carry an evil business card. He was a dinosaur hybrid who wanted to wipe out us filthy mammals and restore dinosaurs to their rightful place as the dominant creatures, and so thought what he was doing to be right, although his methods and manner make it dark enough to still be evil. Its grey, but only in comparison to the villains whose goals are stated to be "to be as evil as possible, nyahaha".
- The grayest Power Rangers villain is Ransik of Power Rangers Time Force. He wanted to take over the world in the present, because in the future, the mutations that result on rare occasion from the genetic engineering process that normally allows for perfect Designer Babies for all are shunned to a degree that would make the mutants of X-Men count their blessings. Ransik's gang is gathered from the homeless mutants. He cackles as much as any past villain whose title is "Your Evilness" when causing mayhem, but he's got a reason for his hate and his motivation isn't simply greed or the evulz like many of the others.
- In its various incarnations, Batman has played this trope straight, explored it from interesting directions, and frequently given the villains sympathetic moments and motivations (heroes who turn evil are, thankfully, very rare). Batman himself looks evil but is almost always a model of Incorruptible Pure Pureness; how sympathetic the villains are, however, varies by the medium. The 1960s TV series generally had straight-up Black and White Morality, with very few Heel Face Turns; the 1990s animated series was this way too, although it did provide the villains with more character depth. But the movies by Tim Burton, Joel Schumacher, and Christopher Nolan were far more likely to have Black and Gray Morality, with Batman Forever and The Dark Knight coming the closest to being pure black-and-white.
- Dick Tracy is always black-and-white - with some notable exceptions - reflecting creator Chester Gould's own rigid standard of societal values. The 1990 Warren Beatty movie adaptation was the same way: Tracy is a Cowboy Cop but almost never gets called out on it, and only about 20 percent of the many (MANY!) gangster characters seen in the film had any redeeming qualities.
- This was the general rule in pro wrestling from the 1920s all the way up until the 1990s, with the exception of a face sometimes cruelly retaliating because "the heel deserved it" (which was never portrayed as a bad thing). The "Attitude" Era and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) tweaked this calculus quite a bit, but the standard formula has never truly gone away. Even today, you are far more likely to see Good Versus Good or Evil Versus Evil than you are to see a feud with shades of gray/grey.
- In Mexican wrestling (known to the locals as lucha libre), there's no such thing as a tweener. One is either a good guy (technico) or a bad guy (rudo), period.
- In religion, this idea is often called (Manichean) dualism:
- God is good, Satan is evil (Christianity and Islam).
- Of Christian faiths, Calvinism deserves special mention. In Calvinism, human beings do not have free will to make decisions, and can only be capable of redemption through the grace of God. Thus not only are acts either good or evil, but human beings are, despite any attempt outside of God to be otherwise, evil.
- Ahura Mazda is good, Ahriman is evil (Zoroastrianism).
- Abba deRabutta is good, Ahriman is evil (Manichaeism).
- Devas are benevolent, Asuras are corrupted (Hinduism).
- During Ragnarok, the final battle is essentially between the forces of good and chaotic evil (Norse mythology).
- God is good, Satan is evil (Christianity and Islam).
- The Hollywood version of many mythologies tends to fit this; the real mores of such cases tend to be much more, subtle.
- Conspiracy Theories (a mythology of a kind) tend to follow this trope very well. The conspiracy is always purely nefarious and the people behind it are always blatantly trying to benefit themselves at the expense of the world. Anyone cast as resisting the conspiracy is a glorious hero deserving of the greatest reverence. If said hero has died, especially under circumstances deemed suspicious, then that hero is also a martyr killed for have gotten too close to exposing/destroying the conspiracy. There are never gray areas in conspiracy theories. Everyone in the know is either completely for the conspiracy or completely against it.
- In Blue Rose, your Character Alignment is either Light, Shadow or Twilight (neutral). There's a magic artifact used to make sure only light-aligned people get to become nobles in The Kingdom of Aldis.
- Most Dungeons & Dragons settings: People who go "ping!" on Detect Good are good. People who set off the paladin's slaydar are evil. (People who don't trigger either are either using Undetectable Alignment or are the resident shade of grey, the neutral alignments).
- Playable races (such as humans, elves, dwarves, and such) tend to be good, while orcs, goblins, and other 'monstrous' humanoids tend to be Always Chaotic Evil. There are plenty of exceptions, though, with a number of villains from PC races showing up from time to time. The occasional good orc or goblin may make an appearance as well (especially in Eberron, which subverts a lot of the common expectations about alignment and race).
- There is a Succubus Paladin created on the Wizards site a while ago that detects as Lawful, Good, Evil and Chaotic via the sundry detect spells. This is because Demon are MADE of Evil and Chaos, while Paladins are philosophically Good and Lawful.
- The RPG Over the Edge is very much Black and Grey Morality, but a drug in the setting called "Zorro" (short for "Zoroaster") induces delusions of black and white morality in the user.
- Talisman: The "Lightbearers" alternate ending in the Blood Moon expansion changes the nature of the normally free-for-all game into a cooperative one, where every player must choose a character of good alignment. The players cannot fight each other, and instead can assist each other in combat against the forces of evil, freely exchange items, and work together to win the game as a group before time runs out.
- In Torg in the sub-universe of the Nile Empire, based on pulp fiction tropes, everyone is either good or evil...until one of the evil scientists of the Nile Empire accidentally infects himself with a meme virus based on the plays of Anton Chekov and becomes the sub-universe's only Neutral character.
- Invoked in The Dark Eye by a kind of the Fair Folk, who decided to split into a "good" and an "evil" kingdom faring war against each other to learn more about human behaviour and values.
- Inspector Javert of Les Misérables provides an in-universe example since he has an obsessive, legalistic view of the world, with an extreme sense of right and wrong, such that his passion drives him to be lawful over being reasonable (even though he's free of hardly any actual, well, villainy otherwise).
Javert: I am the law, and the law is not mocked!
- It has always been the trait of the Command & Conquer: Red Alert series, where the Allies are good and the Soviet Union is evil. They are later joined by a new evil side, Empire of Rising Sun.
- Despite what the fandom would want you to believe, it's the same for the Tiberium-series games as well - the only morally grey thing GDI ever does in the series involve General Solomon apparently being The Man Behind the Man to a rogue Nod general early in their campaign in Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun; every other bad thing they've supposedly done has always either been Nod blaming their own massacres on GDI or reporters in their pocket just making shit up.
- Dragon Quest series uses this regularly. The heroes are good. A giant dragon and a badly skinned mage are evil. Many other villains are even beyond that.
- Psaro the Man Slayer subverts this partly. He hates humans because they harmed his girlfriend. But going into the arena and beating random fighters to death isn't that nice of a thing to do either. None of his underlings are ever good.
- Though Psaro could be seen as sympathetic in some ways, as the death of his girlfriend drove him beyond insanity, causing him to force himself to evolve into a demonic monster who at that point doesn't even remember who his girlfriend is, and the only thing he knows in life is to destroy all humans for what they did to him, despite he doesn't even remember what that was, all he knows is that is his goal
- Psaro the Man Slayer subverts this partly. He hates humans because they harmed his girlfriend. But going into the arena and beating random fighters to death isn't that nice of a thing to do either. None of his underlings are ever good.
- Fire Emblem tends to play with this alot, even with its many morally pure Lords as its protagonists.
- In Tellius while Elincia is good, and Mad King Ashnard is evil. His steed isn't evil, just Brainwashed. But then there's Naesala, who's more morally ambiguous, as well as several Daein commanders who fight for Ashnard more out of a sense of duty for their nation then being outright evil. The sequel muddies this even further: Begnion, who helped Crimea fight Daein in the first game, turn out to be just as corrupt, and the initial protagonists are heroic Daeins. And while half the Begnion Senate are evil assholes, Hetzel is just a terrified old man (who saved Rafiel's life in the past) and Oliver has Blue and Orange Morality. Meanwhile, Crimea isn't as pure as it seemed in the first game either, with many nobles not happy at Elincia becoming queen.
- Fire Emblem Awakening play this straight more then any other game in the franchise; the Halidom of Ylisse worships Naga, a beautiful female dragon from an Always Lawful Good race, and is presented as pure and good while the desert theocracy Plegia is led by the Grimleal, who worships Grima, an ugly male dragon from an Always Chaotic Evil Race and is portrayed as utterly evil. An attempt is made early on to add some grey by saying Emmeryn's predecessor had made war on the Grimleal, however this is dropped, all Grimleal in the game never mention this, and are simply portrayed as Badguys who like being bad with no real motive.
- Fire Emblem Fates also plays this straight for the most part, though with more exceptions then its predecessor. The Kingdom of Hoshido is a prosperous nation that only wants to live in peace, and the Kingdom of Nohr by contrast is a Mordor esque country with bad crops and is trying to invade Hoshido with little to no provocation. This even extends to the main rulers of those kingdoms; with Queen Mikoto of Hoshido being seen as an icon of peace, serenity, and saint like goodness in general, and King Garon of Nohr being an Obviously Evil warmongering tyrant who isn't afraid to destroy anything that gets in his way. It's rather easy to see which kingdom is supposed to be the one in the right (indeed Garon is an antagonist in all routes in some form or another, however the real Garon is long dead at this point, and the Garon you deal with throughout the story is actually a familiar possessing his corpse trying to carry out the plan of the real Big Bad). Garon's children on the other hand, your adopted siblings, are all portrayed sympathetically no matter which route you choose, and obviously still care for your character even when you fight against them. In addition many of their retainers, and other Nohrian units for that matter, are more or less all portrayed as decent people who are simply fighting for those they pledged their loyalty to, with their support conversations in the Conquest route giving more depth to their backstory and motivations.
- Galaxy Angel: The Transbaal Empire is good; The Val-Fasq are evil.
- Subverted in Golden Sun: seemingly present during the first game, but the second game deconstructs it by having you play the antagonists of the first game, and having the final boss be the mentor from the first game.
- Gradius: Planet Gradius is good; Bacterion, Venom, and Salamander are evil.
- But what about the Gradian government? Before the Northern Cross War that inadvertently killed nearly of the Wreekians, the Gradius government avoided contact with them because they were primitive. After the Northern Cross War, the Gradius government didn't do much at all for the poor Wreekian survivors; they only wanted to use their ESP power. This would put the Gradian government on the grey morality.
- In the The Legend of Zelda, Link, Zelda, and their allies are good; Ganon and his followers are evil.
- Downplayed in some of the later games. In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, the villain we are introduced to is actually just a puppet to the Man Behind the Man, and is actually just a bit mischievous, but is at heart a nice guy who just suffered from loneliness.
- King Bulbin in Twilight Princess, Byrne in Spirit Tracks and Princess Hilda in A Link Between Worlds are good examples of bad guys who turn good over the course of their games. The Twili are a good example of Dark is Not Evil in the Zelda universe too, despite having been banished for hungering a bit too much for power.
- In The Wind Waker, Ganondorf reveals his true intentions. He is still a bit extreme about them, especially how he tries to achieve them, but he did it all for the sake of providing a better life for his people. He merely got swept up in the whole Triforce thing. Also, Skyward Sword seems to mildly deconstruct Ganondorf's Card-Carrying Villain status with the revelation that he's the reincarnation of the hatred of Demon King Demise, a curse on the original Link and Zelda who defeated him. This begs the question of whether Ganondorf could be considered a victim of You Can't Fight Fate, which is up to the interpretation of the player.
- Mega Man (Classic) and his friends are good, Dr. Wily and his robots are evil.
- New Worlds Ateraan has a God of Shadows and a Goddess of Light, niftily color-coded. However, those devoted to the former would likely call Light blinding and evil, so 'good' and 'bad' are not so easily determined.
- The Overlord (you) is evil, the heroes are (mostly) good. This is one of the few scenarios where you're supposed to prefer the black morality.
- In Pokémon Red and Blue and Pokémon Gold and Silver. The main character is good, Team Rocket is evil.
- The later core games avert this though, with the evil teams having more reasonable and sympathetic motivations. The exception is Ghetsis of Team Plasma, whose villainy neighbors Cipher proportions. Cipher from Pokémon Colosseum is far more evil than anything before them and a sight more evil than anything since, up until Pokémon X and Y gave us Lysandre.
- As its name suggests, Pokémon Black and White deconstructs it, with the main antagonist adhering to it then realizing in the end that no side can be truly right.
- Present in Riviera: The Promised Land. Which is very surprising, considering the rest of the series.
- Sonic the Hedgehog: Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles are good; Robotnik is evil. Shadow and Rouge border on the Grey morality, though.
- Usually averted from Sonic Adventure onward. Chaos is a legendary beast who caused the destruction of a whole ancient civilization, and almost that of the modern world as well, but he's actually the protector of the Chao and guardian of the Chaos Emeralds and has no evil on his heart, he just got consumed by rage when an ancient tribe hurt the creatures he was defending in its lust for power. Gerald Robotnik programmed the ARK to destroy the Earth and made a deal with Black Doom that would result in humanity being attacked and conquered by an alien race, but it's revealed that he wanted to help everyone by creating the Ultimate Life Form and just went insane when his beloved granddaughter got killed by the government's army, and that he actually created the Eclipse Cannon to warrant that humanity had a way of stopping the Black Arms when they arrived and attacked. Solaris seeks to destroy time and space, but he's actually a good deity who went insane after being experimented on. Emerl is a robot designed as a weapon of mass destruction, but gains a kind and heroic personality through the game as a result of hanging around Sonic and his friends and copying their traits, and keeps this one until the end, even after his programming makes him go berserk. Merlina, who is Sonic's guide and ally in Sonic and the Black Knight, is revealed to be the Big Bad at the end, but her intentions and motivations aren't evil.
- Played straight in more recent mainstream titles. In Sonic Unleashed, Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations, Eggman's silliness masks an ever growing competence culminating in Generations with him actually maintaining full control of the Eldritch Abomination he unleashes. Also in Unleashed, Dark Gaia is very much evil, while Light Gaia (AKA Chip) is very much good.
- Star Fox and the Cornerian army are good. Andross, Anglar Emperor, and their armies are bad. The Aparoids were created solely to be The Virus, and were nothing but evil and trouble.
- Super Mario Bros.: Mario is good, Bowser is evil.
- Played straight in the main series; in both Super Mario Galaxy games Bowser is as one-dimensionally megalomaniacal as ever. Probably because their one attempt at giving him more "complexity" was Super Mario Sunshine, which included narmy voice acting ("How dare you disturb my family vacation!") and introduced, Bowser Jr.
- Also played straight by the one-off villains in the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi series. Okay, not quite Count Bleck, but Fawful, Dimentio, the Shadow Queen, Cackletta, and the Shroobs are portrayed very much to the extreme end of the evil scale.
- Played with in Touhou. On one hand, the series as a whole follows White and Grey Morality at worst, with copious amounts of Dark is Not Evil and Not Always Evil, preventing the series from having any true villains. On the other hand, the interactions between youkai and humans in the games are laced with Blue and Orange Morality, with the youkai attacking and sometimes even eating humans because, well, that's what monsters do... and the humans in turn exorcising youkai, even harmless ones, because, well, they are monsters. note On the third hand, the character Eiki Shiki possesses the ability to "distinctly judge anything to be Good or Evil", meaning that she sees the world in Black And White Morality. As she is the resident Judge of the Dead whom decides the ultimate fate of every deceased soul in Gensokyo, she gets a lot of mileage out of this.
- Valkyria Chronicles tries to avert this trope, but ends up shooting itself in the foot because everyone on the Gallian side who isn't morally upstanding gets murdered and the only Imperials who might have been decent people also die. By the end of the game, Darcsens and non-aristocrat Gallians are good... and everyone else is dead.
- In the first two WarCraft games, the Orcs are evil and the humans are good. There is some attempt to muddy the water in Warcraft II with the trolls allying with the orcs to end their persecution at the hands of humans and elves, but it's still clear who is in the right. By Warcraft III and World of Warcraft, while there are still undeniably evil forces like the Burning Legion and Scourge, it becomes less clear whether the Alliance or the Horde has the moral high ground.
- Yggdra Union starts off with a princess fleeing from The Empire and raising an army to fight back against them. This later gets subverted, as the Empire isn't actually evil and is fighting for what they believe is true justice as well.
- Bravely Default: Edea Lee, due to being a naive teenager who was brought up believing the lies she was told by her home country, initially believes there are only heroes and villains. Her Character Development is all about making her realize the other shades of morality in between.
- The Human Noble Origin in Dragon Age: Origins is pure Black and White Morality. You play as the younger child of Teyrn Bryce Cousland, who is betrayed by Arl Rendon Howe, out of jealously and greed. He is completely ruthless, exacts completely undeserved violence on women and children, and seizes your family lands to become a petty tyrant. Your family, however, is Always Lawful Good, and beloved by the Kingdom of Ferelden.
- Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse dispenses with its parent series' Grey and Gray Morality by the addition of an actually noble faction of demons who seek coexistence with humans, Danu and her fairies. Notably, the normal Law and Chaos sides, plus the Divine Powers, are portrayed completely normally for an SMT game, but nobody even considers joining up with them on the basis that the worst person on Danu's side is Dagda, who's more of a cynical Jerk Ass than actually evil. Admittedly, Dagda is planning on killing most sentient life to remove the spectre of divine oppression.
- Axe Cop. Very evident as it is written by a six-year old. There are good guys (who can do anything they want), and bad guys (who don't need to do anything bad apart from being bad to be such).
- Falcon Twin's Evan views the world in this manner, in keeping with the teachings of his church. This causes considerable friction with the rest of the party's Black and Gray Morality.
- In Game Over Tales: Crouching Ostrich, Hidden Vulture, the ninjas' only aim is to kill the "dragon rider", whose main reason to kill the ninjas is to not die.
- Sonichu functions in this way: Villains are rarely given any motivation beyond taking something that belongs to Sonichu or Chris Chandler or conquering something important to them, and Sonichu and Chris fight mainly to reverse this damage. Slaweel Ryam, in particular, fights Chris merely because she dislikes him. As the characters in the comic are reflections of the author's real-life struggles and the author has a huge ego, he cannot bear to give significant flaws to any of his heroes or redeeming traits to any of his villains.
- Parodied in the Sluggy Freelance Torg Potter parodies (of Harry Potter, obviously), where the wizards casually talk about people being good guys and bad guys, including the bad guys proudly identifying as such. You're supposed to have bad guys, apparently — even among students, where they are all sorted to the Wunnybun ("Slytherin") house. Gandledorf ("Dumbledore") even explains the Wunnybun students need to be treated badly enough to remain antagonistic because if treated well, they might become good, and then his paperwork would get all messed up.
- Hark! A Vagrant parodies this trope as it's used in classic literature with the character of Goodman Brown. Anytime Goodman sees another character doing something remotely bad he chalks them up as purely evil. He gets called on it, but ignores them.
- In The Fear Mythos, the character "Achromatic Morality" demonstrates this perfectly — the clue's in the name. In her words, "there are two sides. The side that I am on, which is righteous; and the side I am not, which is monstrous."
- This was mostly avoided in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, but was especially enforced in the Golden Age campaign, which was set during World War II and featured Those Wacky Nazis as villains (along with supervillains who were evil for the sake of being evil and mobsters).
- Subverted in Avatar: The Last Airbender. At first, the set-up seems to make the Black and the White quite clear: the Fire Nation is the Always Chaotic Evil Empire embarking on a campaign of world conquest, and those who fight against them are good. Then the writers seem to spend the remainder of the series picking this stark divide to pieces in every direction, with an abundance of quite likable and sympathetic Fire Nation characters and an abundance of utterly loathsome Earth Kingdom and Water Tribe characters. The Fire Lord and his daughter remain the clear bad guys, and Team Avatar the clear good guys, straight until the end, but beyond that the series drifts closer to Grey and Grey Morality than almost any other children's show you could name. If anything, the war itself functions as a Greater Scope Villain after it spirals out of Fire Lord Sozin's control, driving characters on both sides to ever greater extremes and deeper into ethical compromise as they struggle to survive.
- Some of the main characters, primarily Katara, come close to crossing the line more than once.
- Zuko alone is a subversion. It seems like the moral the show's trying to send is that life isn't so straightforward and it's important to remember that. Even Azula, the magnificent bitch, gets sympathy. After being betrayed by her friends, abandoned by her father, and given way too much power for her to handle, she has a mental breakdown that all stems from a perceived lack of love from her mother.
- Ben 10 is mostly this trope, but the main hero's character flaws can push it slightly into Black and Gray Morality at times.
- Captain Planet was famous for this trope. The bad guys were not only bad, they tended to put together their absurdly complicated plots strictly For the Evulz. Abiding by the EPA's regulations probably would have been cheaper than some of the crackpot pollution schemes these guys concocted.
- Kim Possible and friends are undoubtedly the good guys, but it's her foes that really exemplify this trope. Every one of them describes themselves as an evil villain, sometimes worrying if they're being evil enough. Evil supervillainy appears to be a whole subculture in their world.
- Samurai Jack. The eponymous main character is good, and Aku is evil. Aku is literally the Japanese word for evil.
- South Park occasionally parodies this by taking what is often considered a real life example and reversing the roles. One example is the rainforest episode, where the rainforest is shown solely as a Death World where Everything Is Trying to Kill You, and the loggers destroying the rainforest are invariably kind, hospitable, and heroic, with the episode ending on the lesson that "Rainforests are evil and need to be destroyed".
- Another example is the smoking episode "Butt Out", in which tobacco companies are portrayed as affable, proud of tobacco's role in building America, careful to ensure that customers are fully warned about the dangers of smoking, and perfectly fine with not living to old age. The anti-smoking activists are greasy, Wormtongue-esque characters who regularly make up evidence against smoking, try to murder a ten year old boy in the name of some of said evidence, and are overly rude to smokers, even when they're in a place where they're completely in their rights to smoke.
- Transformers: Autobots are good, Decepticons are evil (except in Shattered Glass, where it's the other way round).
- Though in Transformers Animated some of the Autobots are selfish, corrupt, or incompetent, though not in the main cast. Sentinel Prime,we are looking at you. Likewise, while "sympathetic" might be stretching the portrayal of the Decepticons as a whole, they are at least clearly motivated (most of them want to reconquer Cybertron, but some have other motivations).
- And in the IDW comics Continuity, the conflict has its origins in Gray and Grey Morality, as the Decepticons were a group that were rising up against the corrupt government that preceded the Autobots.
- Many Transformers continuities play with and partially subvert the idea, going right back to the Marvel comic series in the 1980s. It is always with individual characters though so the trope is played straight for the overall factions even if the individuals within the groups don't necessarily all adhere. Also, the trope is played painfully straight whenever Unicron is involved, usually with "Unicron = BAD Those who fight him = good"
- The new book Exodus also establishes a whole lot of gray in the origins of the war and looks like a subversion, but later on plays this trope straight. Sort of.
- Wander over Yonder plays this for laughs. Wander is clearly "good"—he loves to help people out, adventure and is genuinely cheerful and Sylvia, while snarky, also has fairly good intentions. Lord Hater is a Card-Carrying Villain who see himself as evil and wants to rule the galaxy. He's also a skeleton in a robe, if the "he's the bad guy" message wasn't obvious. On the other hand, instead of frightening, he's an incredibly insecure Psychopathic Man Child. Craig McCracken has stated that the dynamics between Wander and Hater are not so much "Good Vs. Evil" as it really is "Love Vs. Hate."
- All of the main characters of Xiaolin Showdown explicitly refer to themselves as good or evil. While there is a decent bit of switching sides, (in fact, all four of the monks have been evil for some period of time, though for different reasons), once a character turns good/evil they will be very good/evil. For example: Good!Jack is nothing but hugs and rainbows to the point where he weirds everyone else out, and Evil!Omi is a hyperactive Blood Knight who loves to cause destruction and get in fights.
- However, the examples with Omi and Jack are justified; both of those examples occurred when they travels to the Yin-Yang world through the Yin Yo or Yang Yo. Without having both (forming the Yin-Yang Yoyo), one leaves behind their good chi. When Omi went to rescue Master Fung, his good chi remained there, leaving only pure evil with Omi. With Jack, because he had the Reversing Mirror, his evil chi was left behind, becoming pure good. Later iterations presented it as a dynamic flip.