->''"Janeway’s dilemma is whether she should make the decision for the entire crew to leave or to open the idea of settling on this planet to a vote. Unfortunately that blinding revelation comes 36 minutes into the episode and leaves no time to deal with it. But don’t worry we got to see a car floating in space so that’s ''compensation.''"''
-->-- '''[[http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2012/03/voyager-seasn-two.html Joe Ford]]''' on ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'', "[=The 37s=]"

A work of fiction sets up a moral dilemma or other painful choice, then finds a way to [[CuttingTheKnot resolve it without actually addressing the issue it raised]]. Say, Alice is seriously ill and Bob is considering robbing a local pharmacy to get the medicine she desperately needs. Then he wins the money he needs in the lottery, meaning that he (and the writers) never have to come down on the question of whether theft is acceptable for a good cause.

This trope is used for a number of reasons. It allows the show to resolve the tension without
#giving an unrealistically clear-cut or {{Anvilicious}} solution to an ambiguous problem, or
#alienating the half of the audience who would disapprove of the resolution if the characters did make the hard choice.
It avoids having to deliver a FamilyUnfriendlyAesop (who wants to be on record saying that theft might be okay if you're in dire straits?) And it lets creators [[OnlyTheAuthorCanSaveThemNow flex their godlike muscles]]: it's their story, and they don't have to write the DownerEnding that would almost certainly result for a RealLife Alice and Bob.

Expect this in works invoking ethnicity and/or gender tropes in ways that might otherwise be blatantly liable to charges of UnfortunateImplications, e.g. relating to MarsAndVenusGenderContrast. Usually, a Debate and Switch is pulled in one of the following ways:

* The antagonist is originally set up as doing something that falls in the moral (and legal) gray area, then [[JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope jumps off the slippery slope]] or is revealed to be a StrawHypocrite.
* Related to the above, if one party turns out to be partnered with or working for any kind VillainByDefault.
* The evidence points to the antagonist having committed a crime over the issue under discussion, then new evidence is uncovered that shows that the motive was actually more clear-cut.
* The protagonists are put into the morally gray situation, then TakeAThirdOption.
* The protagonists are put into the morally gray situation, then another consideration makes it much more black-and-white. The decision is made on that consideration, with the original considerations becoming moot. No Third Option necessary, just a Second Question.
* Before a decision can be made, outside events render it moot, such as a suspect dying in an accident while the antagonists are debating their guilt.
* Someone on either side is revealed to be lying about something (motive, true conditions, consequences, etc.), and lying automatically makes them the loser.

Compare ConflictKiller. See also SweetAndSourGrapes, where a character who selflessly sacrifices something they want is rewarded with... the exact thing they wanted in the first place.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* In ''Manga/InuYasha'', one of the driving points of the narrative is whether or not the eponymous character would use the [[AppliedPhlebotinum Shikon no Tama]] to turn into a full {{youkai}} (or maybe even a full human.) The point is moot since [[spoiler:Kagome destroys the Jewel at the end of the manga. Any wish would be 'wrong']]. Then again, quite a bit of emphasis is put on the fact that Kagome loves him just as who he is, making it ultimately a "BeYourself" aesop.
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' made a major plot point being the villain's plan to lock everyone in the world into [[LotusEaterMachine their own personal dream world that would give them their every desire]]. Whether or not this would ultimately be a good thing for a world that raises child soldiers is glossed over in favor of discussing how villainous the means of the people trying to set it off are using. Later on it's also added that the plan also slowly turns people into empty zombies, making the initial debate further removed by having the dream world be fatal. Likewise, once people are released their reactions are glossed over and no one expresses any interest at all over their dream worlds despite how easily traumatic it would be for many of them to see lost loved ones again thinking they were real. And then even ''that'' is rendered moot when [[spoiler:it turns out the whole thing is being manipulated to resurrect a BiggerBad whose goals are much less defensible.]]
* One episode of ''Manga/TheDaughterOfTwentyFaces'' deals with how the protagonists are supposed to be sympathetic when they're major thieves. The main character befriends a lonely little girl, who happens to be the daughter of the head of security for a museum holding the object the protagonists want to steal. In doing so, she learns how to sneak past the security guards and that *''Gasp''* stealing a priceless object from the museum could cause big trouble for the kindly security chief and his innocent daughter. Chiko's huge [[KickTheDog betrayal of her new friend]] is softened by the revelation that the little girl was actually evil at the end of the episode, and everything she said about her father was probably a lie.
* Done in ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'', [[{{Troperiffic}} of course.]] Is it right to stop [[spoiler:Chao Lingshen]], who is obviously not a bad person and seems to have a good motive? Negi spends so much time worrying about it that his students basically just tell him to shut up after a while, because if it was so important she ought to just ''tell'' him. Eventually, they decide it doesn't matter what they're doing is right or wrong, they just don't want [[CoolAndUnusualPunishment to be turned into ermines]] and [[spoiler:Chao]] hasn't convinced them otherwise. Some fans think it was [[ThePlan intentional]] in order to set Negi up for Fate, who also seems to have a good goal and bad methods. He notably worries much less about it, anyway. [[spoiler:[[FridgeBrilliance Which may have been why Chao set up the moral dilemma in the first place]].]]
* ''{{Anime/Monster}}'' does this, although it must be noted that the moral ambiguities it toys with have been debated for centuries and probably will continue to be debated for centuries after: Is all life equal? Do some people deserve to die? Is it right to kill a killer? Is evil irredeemable?
* ''Anime/FushigiBoshiNoFutagoHime'': Fine and Rein find out that Mirlo is in an ArrangedMarriage with a rather undesirable dimwit, and are out to break it up. Reviewer [=Al1701=] [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQQ4wqYiE9Y pointed out]] that this action seems short-sighted, since the deal for the marriage is in exchange for dimwit's father repairing the Waterdrop Kingdom's cloudmaker. [[spoiler:That is, until the whole ArrangedMarriage turns out to be a big ruse by the Moon Kingdom chancellor. Doesn't stop this from being one of the best eps of the whole series.]]
* ''Manga/{{Trigun}}'':
** In a flashback, we see [[FriendToAllLivingThings Vash]] trying to find a way to rescue a fly from a spider's web. His brother [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Knives]] solves the problem by crushing the spider. When Vash protests, he claims it was just practical and that if Vash wanted to rescue all flies, the spider would just starve to death, which is a valid point. Vash and their caretaker just say it's wrong though, and moments later Knives turns into an AxeCrazy OmnicidalManiac. It's a shame, because the series manages to turn Vash's goody-two-shoes character archetype into a well rounded and interesting {{Deconstruction}}. His opponent, not so much. This isn't so much the case in the manga, where it's revealed that [[spoiler:Vash and Knives are Plants that humans use for power]]; in this context, Knives sees the conflict between the spiders and butterfly as inevitable and synonymous to his own.
** There's a broader implication never really examined at all but nevertheless there in the special guns Vash and Knives have: [[spoiler:Knives' gun is basically an ersatz NeutronBomb: it wipes out all living things, leaving inanimate structures intact. Vash's gun is the much-coveted inversion of this, a device that wipes out all inanimate structures such as buildings and weapons, but leaves all living creatures alive. However, as shown in a couple of episodes, Vash's gun is not necessarily any more humane than Knives' is, as it also leaves the survivors devoid of shelter and starving.]]
* In ''Manga/{{Bakuman}}'', several older and less successful mangakas start submitting works for Jump, prompting a debate between Takagi and Mashiro over whether they should be given a chance for a comeback; Takagi doesn't think so, while Mashiro, whose uncle kept trying to get a series even after his contract was canceled, strongly disagrees, and Nizuma believes that writers should not be treated as disposable. It turns out that [[spoiler:Nanamine is using these mangakas as his way to try a second time with an improved version of his "system"]]. In the end, though, [[spoiler:Azuma, one of the manga artists Nanamine had used [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness and then discarded]] succeeds on his own]], perhaps making this a subversion.
* ''Manga/DeathNote'' poses the question: does [[UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans utopia justify the means]] if you plan on ending all crime by killing all criminals? Said question is rendered moot by the fact that the perpetrator, MagnificentBastard Light Yagami, goes from a WellIntentionedExtremist [[JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope into a]] VillainProtagonist with a [[AGodAmI god complex]] who kills all who oppose him. This is also present in [[ShutUpHannibal the way]] someone responds to Light trying to justify his actions.
** A lot of the morality debate is cut from the anime, and [[spoiler:the final debate between Light and Near]] is cut down to its bare minimum, including Light expressing his belief that he's not only getting rid of the criminals, but creating a society where people are free to do good. Near similarly believes that Kira is forcing his own views onto others under threat of death, "neither peaceful nor just," and asks everyone else what they think about it, to which they respond with tacit approval.
** There is considerably more examination of the ramifications of Kira's new world order in the manga. However, while the authors ultimately leave it up to the reader to decide whether ''Kira'' is morally justified or not, they note that ''Light'' was corrupted by having the power to kill at will and was no longer actually working toward his professed ideals.
** In ''[[AllThereInTheManual Death Note: How To Read]]'', the authors explain that this trope is a NecessaryWeasel because of the [[ShonenDemographic target demographic]]. Since they were writing for ''Magazine/ShonenJump'', the focus was on the plot-and-counterplot between Light and L, and not the question of whether Light's actions were right or not. They also state that if they were writing for a {{seinen}} magazine, the moral and social ramifications would instead have taken center stage and been thoroughly explored.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''ComicBook/TheWalkingDead'', after the misogynistic Thomas murders two of Hershel's daughters, Rick decides to implement a "You Kill, You Die" law and declares that Thomas should be hung. This decision is debated by others, but it comes to an end when Patricia lets him out, believing that he's mentally ill and not responsible for his actions. [[TheFarmerAndTheViper Thomas proceeds to strangle her]] and is shot by another of Hershel's daughters.
* In the ''ComicBook/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' Season 9 comics, Buffy learns that she is pregnant, and has to decide whether to have her child and raise it as a Slayer, knowing that the kid would be a target for her enemies. [[spoiler:In the end, she apparently decides to terminate the pregnancy, but soon it is revealed that what were seen as pregnancy symptoms were actually because Buffy's brain had been transplanted into a robot body, meaning that there was never any decision to make at all.]]
* [[SubvertedTrope Subverted]] with ''Comicbook/SpiderMan'' villain Cardiac: Spider-Man foiled his attempt to murder his latest target, a CorruptCorporateExecutive who escaped blame after a family died in an auto accident from his faulty brakes, but the guy suffers a heart attack and they send him to Eli Wirtham, the best heart surgeon in town. Problem is, Eli Wirtham ''is'' Cardiac, and he's being asked to save the life of the guy he just tried to kill. He knows he could do it and get away with it, but should he kill him? [[spoiler:He doesn't, or at least he tries not to; the guy dies anyway. But Eli can't help but wonder if he held back during the surgery even just a little, and if that makes him any better than the "indirect" murderers he hunts down as Cardiac.]]
* In Comicbook/CivilWar, a group of super-powered teenagers filming a reality show attack a group of villains, causing one of them [[NiceJobBreakingItHero to explode like an atomic bomb, destroying all of Stamford]]. Public hysteria ensues, and super heroes are placed in a difficult dilemma: with uncontrolled super-hero actions banned, heroes must sign the SuperRegistrationAct and work for the government, or be hunted down by all the government forces (including the superheroes that signed for it). The registration side won, and things stayed that way for a time. Well, and once the thing has lasted long enough, how do we return things to the way they always were? Easy: put a supervillain on top of the registration side, put all superheroes on the other side, and turn a topic of grey and gray morality into a topic of black and white morality.
* Similarly, with ''ComicBook/XMen'', [[SuperRegistrationAct Mutant Registration Acts]] are never given an actual debate. It's sometimes acknowledged that, hey, these are people with the power to level mountains just by opening their eyes and reasonable people might want some means of protection from the bad ones, but the Act is nearly always being pushed by bigots who are using it as the first step in wiping out mutantkind. Even when the promoter is ''not'' such a bigot, the specter of such information still being used ''by'' bigots to facilitate FantasticRacism remains omnipresent. The very first BadFuture plotline, ''ComicBook/DaysOfFuturePast'', revolves around the dark world created by enforcing mutant registration, where mutants are forcibly marked and herded into concentration camps, or even exterminated altogether. Animated depictions usually take away the moral ambiguity by portraying such a world as mostly being the fault of the [[AIIsACrapshoot defective programming]] of the [[GiantRobot Sentinels]] humans use to enforce the registration laws.
* The theme of [[Comicbook/MarvelNOW the second volume]] of ''New Avengers'' is the debate over whether or not it is ethical under any circumstance to destroy a planet, as numerous alternate Earths are revealed to be on a collision course with the main Earth, meaning certain doom, most likely for both, if they collide. [[spoiler:The first such planet is eaten by Galactus before the Avengers can decide what to do about it, and the second they ''do'' destroy, but it turns out to be uninhabited]].
* Defied in ''ComicBook/{{Champions 2016}}'' issue 5. The Champions encounter a small town whose influential sheriff is a majorly bigoted man. [[ComicBook/TheUnbelievableGwenpool Gwenpool]] drops in and causes her usual brand of chaos against the police. The team pulls her away and hits her with a WhatTheHellHero. She explains that she's more than certain that some type of supervillain is masterminding this; there's no way normal people could be so bigoted because [[MediumAwareness it's a comic book!]] [[ComicBook/MsMarvel2014 Kamala Khan]] explains that things aren't so black and white, and that normal people can be evil without the aid of supervillains. [[spoiler:Indeed, the man is heavily bigoted and is only brought down when [[TheDogBitesBack his beleaguered deputy finally blows the whistle on him]].]]
* In ''ComicBook/InhumansVsXmen'', the leader of the people being gassed to death by a chemical weapon Black Bolt released conveniently goes totally psycho at the last minute, meaning that Bolt and Medusa's victory over her [[note]]and their making a trophy out of her [[ItMakesSenseInContext diamond tears]][[/note]] is...fittingly?...heroic and triumphant. That was the writers' ''[[DesignatedHero intention]]'', at least.


* ''Film/XMenFilmSeries''
** In ''Film/XMen1'', Magneto isn't trying to KillAllHumans; he wants to turn the leaders of various nations ''into'' mutants. Now that's still ethically highly questionable, but... [[spoiler:oh, never mind, the process is fatal, and he won't believe this. And just to make sure Magneto has a firm grip on the villain ball, his "process" is powered by an unwilling Rogue, because he's not willing to sacrifice his own life for the cause when he can sacrifice somebody else's instead]].
** The sequels avoid the issue altogether by making him progressively more villainous. In ''Film/X2XMenUnited'', he does try to KillAllHumans (apparently unwilling to pass up the opportunity after the other villain nearly managed to Kill All Mutants), and in ''Film/XMenTheLastStand'' he even sees his fellow mutants as expendable pawns.
** In the third movie, this is also done with the debate about using the mutant "cure" versus protesting it. Plenty of mutants are shown benefiting from the cure, while just as many find the idea insulting. There are allies of the X-men who speak in favor of it and there are mutants opposed to it who form nice, organized meetings to figure out how to get their views heard. And then Magneto shows up and the rest of the movie has him and his violent followers as the main mutants protesting the cure. Also, he destroys the facility producing the cure and the mutant behind it is taken away. [[spoiler:And the very end of the movie heavily implies the cure isn't permanent, so the point is moot.]]
* ''Film/StateOfPlay'', so much so the main plot is made moot by the last 10 minutes of the film. And because of this the BigBad for the most part goes unharmed. Cal [=McAffrey=] clearly didn't know how to sort out the SortingAlgorithmOfEvil, or prioritize the SlidingScaleOfVillainThreat.
* In the 2009 ''Film/StarTrek'' movie, [[spoiler:Kirk offers assistance to the about-to-be-crushed-by-a-black-hole Romulan ship, whose crew committed genocide by destroying Vulcan]]. Spock objects to this. Before any actual debate could happen, Nero, the ship's captain, tells Kirk to go screw himself, thus giving Kirk all the moral cover he needs to hasten their inevitable destruction. Kirk even says to Spock that offering them a chance for survival is the logical choice.[[note]]Which it is, because it means they capture the criminals ''and'' get their hands on the ''Narada'''s juicy and powerful future-technology.[[/note]]
* ''Film/TheContender'': So, will Laine win the Vice Presidency despite the furor of controversy surrounding her? Will she prove to the world that the bending of the truth and exposure of someone's shady moral history should never be used for political gain and need not necessarily ruin your chances of a high-powered career? [[spoiler:Never mind, the girl in the photos wasn't actually her after all. Oh, and her main rival's a backstabbing liar.]] Crisis averted.
* Some see the whole movie of ''Fighting the Odds: The Marilyn Gambrell Story'' as this. The problem with this movie is that it brings up a lot of issues without actually talking about them. Particularly the complicated socioeconomic background of most of the kids.
* ''Film/CaptainAmericaCivilWar'': Peacekeepers must have permission to operate, and must answer for their actions, but they must also refuse illegal orders. Should Avengers submit to the UN or not? This is presented as the initial conflict, but it's later switched over by Bucky Barnes being accused of murder (for which he was framed, anyway).

* Creator/JodiPicoult:
** ''Literature/MySistersKeeper'' asks the interesting question of whether or not it is wrong to have a child (Anna) solely to provide blood/tissue/organs for a sicker child (Kate), then gets out of answering by [[spoiler:killing Anna in a car accident and having her kidneys donated to Kate anyway.]]
** ''Literature/HandleWithCare'' asks if it is okay to sue your doctor for not telling you about a disability, and if it is okay to abort a disabled child. [[spoiler:Claire wins the case anyway, and the child dies after they win.]]
** In ''Literature/SingYouHome'', it asks the question of whether or not LGBT parents should be allowed to have a family, and who gets things such as frozen embryos after a divorce. [[spoiler:Zoe and Vanessa get the embryos because Max (Zoe's ex-husband, who they are fighting in court) is in love with his sister in law (who he is planning on giving the embryos to) and doesn't want to see her happy.]]
** This happens in ''Mercy''. The whole thing is about the ethical issues of euthanasia and mercy killing, and it turns out that... oh, wait, it doesn't. Not only do we not get an overall view on euthanasia, we don't even get to find out the views of 90% of the ''characters''. It's the kind of 'debate' where people stand around chatting and occasionally eat a biscuit.
* ''Winds of the Forelands'' has at its center a smoldering racial conflict, and the BigBad is a leader of the oppressed race who claims he will liberate it. He's also a Hitler-esque tyrant who would make everyone's lives worse if he actually won, so it's up to the heroes to stop him and let oppression continue. Apparently, the only reason it even comes up is so the villain's followers can be portrayed as misguided rather than evil.
** Firmly averted in the SequelSeries ''Blood of the Southlands'', which focuses almost entirely on the racial conflict, with the closest thing to a real BigBad being killed early in the second book, leaving the remainder of the series to deal with the race war her actions set in motion, while the actual war is GreyAndGrayMorality.
* In ''Literature/TwentyYearsAfter'', d'Artagnan wants to kill Mordaunt, but not out of a sense of justice -- he is blinded by a desire for vengeance on [[SinsOfOurFathers the sins of Mordaunt's mother, twenty years ago]]. Athos, on the other hand, is tired of violence and wants to let Mordaunt go, in spite of his own terrible crimes. The dilemma is made moot when [[spoiler:Athos kills Mordaunt in self-defense [[BackstabBackfire after trying to save him]].]]
** Mordaunt was also hellbent on killing them all over his mother's death, d'Artagnan (along with Porthos and Aramis) simply want to save their own skins. Athos' reluctance was due solely to [[spoiler:Mordaunt possibly being his son.]] The debate is more "Is Mordaunt's revenging his mother's death just in the eyes of Providence."
* In David Isaak's ''[[Literature/DavidIsaaksShockAndAwe Shock and Awe]]'', one of the protagonists is an ex-special forces operator [[ItsPersonal with many personal grievances against Muslims, including]] losing her brother in 9/11. A mysterious billionaire offers her the chance to strike back with vigilante attacks, culminating in an audacious plan to hit Mecca with a dirty bomb. Along the way, she starts doubting whether she is really doing the right thing and thinking that maybe this is going too far. Before she gets a chance to work it out, however, [[spoiler:the billionaire is revealed to be in league with another bunch of terrorists, who take the radioactive material and try to use it on the US.]]
* In the ''Literature/PaladinOfShadows'' book ''Unto the Breach'', Mike falls for Gretchen, whose hand has been promised to another. He tries to force himself to perish the thought, but struggles with it, including thinking of pulling an UriahGambit. Eventually, though, [[spoiler:Gretchen gets KIA,]] sparing the trouble.
* Played for laughs in ''Literature/DirkGentlysHolisticDetectiveAgency'', when Dirk relates the tale of some physicists who attempted to carry out the UsefulNotes/SchrodingersCat experiment for real. When they opened the box, they discovered that the cat had got bored and wandered off somewhere.
* ''Literature/TheDispossessed'' by Creator/UrsulaKLeGuin can be read as a dramatized debate over the question of whether anarchism, represented by the "Odonian" philosophy practised on the planet Anarres, or liberal democratic capitalism, represented by the nation of A-Io on Anarres' sister-planet Urras, is better. Though the author clearly prefers anarchism, for most of the book the question is dealt with subtly, with the failings of Anarresti society and the successes of the society of A-Io both being shown. Then, practically out of the blue, A-Io massacres peaceful protesters by the thousand. Well, ''duh'', Anarresti anarchism is better than ''that''. The whole philosophical debate is tossed aside and replaced by Baddies Are Bad. In an interesting case, the A-Io's actions are understandable, though not justified - they remember what the last strike led to, and they are all out of moons to bribe dissidents with. It's also probably worth noting that, while massacres of striking workers weren't common in 1970s America, they were common in America at the turn of the century, so this could also simply be a case of Anachronism Stew, but it seems probable that A-Io is meant to represent an older US, as the US of the 1970s certainly also did not prohibit women from universities, for example-much the opposite.
* ''Literature/WarCrimes'' plays with this one. The decision of whether to imprison or execute the accused is rendered moot by an assault on the court, yet the jury goes on to answer it anyway.
* In ''Literaure/TheHungerGames'', Katniss’ major moral dilemma is whether she can kill equally innocent children in order to survive and come home to her sister Prim and best friend Gale. Yet, she never has to face this dilemma. She [[spoiler: only ever kills Careers, who are treated as AcceptableTargets]], and even none of these kills are calculated or cold-blooded. Katniss drops the tracker-jackers on the Careers, because they are hunting her, which [[spoiler: ends up killing Glimmer. She shoots Marvel, but as a quick reflex after Marvel kills Rue, and later kills Cato as a MercyKill.]] Katniss worries about having to kill Rue, [[spoiler: but Marvel does this for her,]] Foxface, [[spoiler: but then Foxface [[AccidentalMurder mistakenly eats the nightlock berries]]]], and Thresh after he saves Katniss’ live [[spoiler: but then Cato kills Thresh]]. The end momentarily subverts this when the Gamemakers renege on their offer to let two members from the same district live, and Katniss must either kill Peeta or be killed. But then Katniss [[TakeAThirdOption Takes A Third Option]] by [[spoiler: suggesting they both eat nightlock berries]]. This is then [[DoubleSubversion doubly subverted]], because [[spoiler: the Gamemakers blink and let both Katniss and Peeta live]], meaning Katniss never has to decide between killing an innocent or dying herself.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/LawAndOrder'' has refined this into an art form. Earlier seasons generally pulled it off better, relying on the debate being resolved with [[ChekhovsGun a previously-introduced detail]]. Later seasons used the AssPull with impunity, as every half-hearted ChewbaccaDefense became a brilliant legal strategy the [=DAs=] were too incompetent or ill-prepared to overcome until they picked up on the one fact they missed during all of their trial prep.
** One prominent example occurs during the first season, when a woman is on trial for bombing an abortion clinic. The moral issues of abortion are debated, even going so far as to polarize the main cast members (and, it's implied, the jury), but then the ADA pulls the rug out during cross-examination by pointing out that, by killing a pregnant woman, the bomber ''also'' murdered her unborn child. Cue one guilty verdict.
** Subverted when a man kills the insurance executive who vetoed an extremely expensive treatment for his terminally-ill daughter. During the trial, the insurance company reverses its position, putting her on the medication and giving strong credibility to the justification that the murder saved his daughter's life. But the judge refuses to allow the jury to hear about this, insisting the trial should be about [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge an eye for an eye]]. It ended on a "hopelessly deadlocked" hung jury, and it's strongly implied the [=DAs=] aren't going to bother trying again.
** "Scrambled": a woman is charged with FelonyMurder after she hires an ex-cop to break into a fertility clinic and destroy her eggs and he kills a worker who walked in on him. The case hinges on whether or not one's own eggs can be legally the property of someone else, for the purposes of establishing the predicate felony. Except during the break-in [[spoiler: the cop destroyed another couple's eggs too, but they didn't initially come forward to report the 'loss' for other reasons.]]
** Happens [[ZigZaggingTrope three times]] in "Progeny", another abortion episode. The killer uses the "preservation of life" justification of killing the abortion doctor to save a woman's unborn fetus. [=McCoy=] first points out that since the doctor's intended patient was really the killer's partner and her scheduled abortion was a ruse to lure the doctor out that her fetus was never in jeopardy. He then digs up evidence the defendant's motive was revenge against abortion doctors after he failed to prevent the woman carrying his child from getting an abortion. The defendant's spiritual advisor, a pro-life advocate who insists on making a jury debate the value of the "preservation of life" argument, claims he was the defendant's co-conspirator, having provided the gun and transportation for him to kill the doctor. On the stand, he claims the justification defense but [=McCoy=] asks him why, if he believes its morally right to kill abortion doctors, did he not just pull the trigger himself instead of giving the gun to the killer? The answer was that no matter how much he decried abortion, he still knew it was wrong to kill anyone, thus he did not believe in his own defense.
* ''Series/LawAndOrderSpecialVictimsUnit'':
** In one episode, a woman is believed to have drowned her baby because it had Tay-Sachs (which is confirmed). At the end of the episode, it is revealed that [[spoiler:she had had an affair and gotten pregnant, and killed the baby because she didn't want her husband to know. Even the Assistant District Attorney complains that the woman was convicted only "because I turned her into a whore"]].
** In another episode, what looks like a rape turns into a right to die debate until it turns out [[spoiler: the woman who runs the "lemme help you suicide" website entered into a suicide pact with someone and didn't fulfill her end of the bargain. The debate ''then'' becomes about whether that's murder, manslaughter, or something else.]]
** Another episode discusses whether it is acceptable to apply capital punishment [[DoubleStandard to a woman]], who by this point has already been proven to be a serial killer. [[spoiler:The woman hangs herself.]] (It should be noted that this pissed off the characters as well.) Even before this, the episode has already pulled ''another'' Debate and Switch by implying that the woman has been trying to support her son. [[spoiler:The boy isn't even hers; she had kidnapped him.]]
** A husband played by John Ritter cuts his unfaithful wife open and kills her fetus, claiming he was [[InsanityDefense enraged]] by the thought of her having her lover's child. The trial is not so clear-cut because killing a fetus isn't murder unless there's proof that it took a breath outside the womb. As he's on the stand, [[spoiler: Cabot presents him with evidence the fetus actually belonged to him and he killed his own child, prompting him to admit the baby cried before he killed it.]] Notably the episode ends before [[spoiler:the verdict is read; the viewer is meant to assume his insanity defense was rejected solely on the basis of the murder charge being provable.]]
** A young woman with Down Syndrome is raped and impregnated, but wants to keep the baby. Her elderly mother, however, wants to abort, feeling she won't be around long enough to provide for both her daughter and grandchild. The detectives are caught up in the family drama as they search for the rapist... and eventually they do find him, and it turns out he's filthy rich. As such, the police decide to plea bargain him in exchange for lifetime child support, so everyone's happy.
* ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'':
** The episode "Dear Doctor", the switch was an even ''bigger'' moral decision. Initially it's about whether to interfere in the natural arrangement of a pre-warp society (a stone-age species is kept in benign slavery by a more advanced one), but then it suddenly turns out that the disease that's been spreading among the dominant species (and for which the crew was helping to find a cure) is a "natural development" of their evolution (which may well "solve" the problem of the stone-age species' subjugation by killing their caretakers). So naturally, the crew decide to give them relief of the symptoms rather than a cure, in a proto-development of the [[AlienNonInterferenceClause Prime Directive]] (its most appalling application in the entire history of the series, which is ironic as it was intended as a justification for it). And then people wondered why the ''Franchise/StarTrek'' franchise took a breather.\\
This was actually the result of ExecutiveMeddling; in the original script Phlox refused a direct order from Archer to give the species in question the cure he had developed. The higher-ups were worried that a major conflict between the characters might upset the audience, so Archer's decision was changed at the last minute to agree with Phlox. Unfortunately this had the opposite effect as viewers began calling ProtagonistCenteredMorality.
** A better usage was in the episode "Affliction" in which Phlox and the Klingon Doctor Antaak have been tasked with finding a cure for the Klingon Augment Virus which is threatening to wipe out the entire Klingon Empire. Dismayed to see Antaak preparing to euthanize one of the infected test subjects with a lethal injection, Phlox interrupts him and an argument breaks out between them as Antaak insists that giving one's life to save millions is a most honorable way for a Klingon to die while Phlox contends that such a killing is ethically unthinkable. While they're arguing, their boss General K'Vagh pulls his disruptor, calmly shoots the victim, and tells them "Proceed."
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'':
** The episode "Haven" begins with Deanna Troi facing an arranged marriage. The episode is one extended debate over personal choice vs. cultural expectation which is soundly side-stepped by the plague ship from the B-plot suddenly having aboard it the woman of Troi's fiance's dreams (literally; he's been dreaming of her all his life).
** "[[Recap/StarTrekTheNextGenerationS6E7Rascals Rascals]]" had a subplot involving Miles and Keiko O'Brien's marriage being endangered by her having been reduced to a prepubescent girl by the NegativeSpaceWedgie of the week. He equivocates quite a bit when she reminds him that they're married and then asks him point-blank whether his discomfort over her shows of affection as a little girl means the end of their marriage. [[FridgeHorror That's a terribly good question, come to think of it]]... and one that Miles mercifully never has to answer since StatusQuoIsGod and child actors cost too much to be on ''Star Trek'' as anything other than guest stars. Another question they're also spared answering: what to tell their daughter Molly, who [[IWantMyMommy wants her mommy]] and doesn't understand that (approximately) twelve-year-old Keiko is still the same Keiko who gave birth to her.
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'': The episode "Dax". The titular character, a symbiont who lives inside of a Trill host, is accused of committing a crime. However, the crime in question was allegedly committed when the symbiont was bonded to Curzan, and it has since been passed to Jadzia. Since there is no way to remove the symbiont from Jadzia without killing her, the case becomes a question of whether or not it is right to punish Jadzia Dax for a crime committed by Curzan Dax. Both sides make strong points... Which are all rendered moot by the last minute revelation that Curzon didn't commit the crime in question, as he had an alibi that Jadzia wasn't willing to bring up (he was in bed with the victim's wife). The issue of whether or not Trill symbionts can be held accountable for their past host's actions is ultimately never resolved. It doesn't help that several episodes have been contradictory about the nature of Trill personalities and whether they have more than one in the same body.
* In the ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' episode "Scientific Method", it is revealed that the crew have been the subjects of medical experiments by an alien species (a thinly-veiled allusion to animal testing). Janeway finally manages to get the experiments aborted by [[spoiler:flying Voyager into a pulsar, which is stated to be nearly-certain death, which scares the aliens off and destroys one of their ships that doesn't get away in time. Of course, [[MillionToOneChance Voyager survives]]. The reason this is this trope is that Janeway is only acting that way ''because'' of the experiments of the aliens]].
** The Seska arc introduces a wildly complicated question when Seska reveals that she forcibly stole Chakotay's DNA and impregnanted herself with it, and later begs for his help when she and his son are in danger. How he's supposed to respond to that is agonizingly difficult. To the show's credit, they do spend a good deal of time dealing with these questions (Chakotay decides to try and get custody and raise him after the spirit quest version of his father makes the observation that the boy is essentially a ChildByRape), but they're ultimately rendered moot when it turns out that the child isn't actually Chakotay's after all. Seska dies, the baby's biological father claims him, and [[StatusQuoIsGod everything goes back to normal]].
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** Much of the episode "Boom Town", is dedicated to a debate on capital punishment, where the Doctor is put in the position of making the choice. [[spoiler:Before the Doctor has properly made up his mind, Blon Slitheen looks into the TARDIS and is turned into an egg.]]
** In the very next story the Doctor realises the only way to stop the genocidal Dalek fleet from wiping out everyone on Earth (and then moving on to other planets to wipe out their inhabitants too) is to send out a pulse that will not only kill all the Daleks, but also himself and everyone on Earth. The Doctor is saved from trying to decide whether it's moral to kill a load of people in collateral damage (when inaction will lead to their death anyway) to save everyone else when [[spoiler: Rose becomes an almost literal DeusExMachina and saves the day by effortlessly wiping out the Daleks without any further casualties]].
*** The Doctor does answer the dilemma [[spoiler: by refusing to use the Delta Wave]], he just gets a third option at the last second. This is emphasized by [[spoiler:how haunted he is by the decision he made the last time he faced this dilemma.]]
** On a later Doctor Who episode, "The Almost People", they spend a long time making it clear that the gangers are just as real as the people they're duplicating, and not just tools. [[spoiler:Helpfully, at least one of each pair dies before making it back to the TARDIS, smoothly avoiding any dilemmas when they get back to their families.]]
** The episode "The Beast Below" sets up an interesting moral dilemma by revealing that [[spoiler:the entire future-city of London is kept alive by a star whale, which must be tortured regularly in order to keep it from escaping. This brings up the moral issue of whether to free the whale, dooming the city, or continue torturing the whale. However, the issue is avoided when... it's revealed the whale wanted to help them anyway and it stays of its own accord because it couldn't bear watching children cry! Phew!]]
*** Less so than the above since they do come to a final response for the dilemma: the twist at the end means they didn't have to go through with it but they still came to a final answer. [[spoiler:He was going to fry part of its brain so it could still function to keep London alive and not suffer but would essentially become a vegetable]]
** In the Trial of the Timelord series, the Doctor wipes out an antagonistic race of aliens as per usual and is promptly accused of genocide. Instead of dealing with this issue, we get the revelation that his accuser is the villain behind everything.
** The episode "Kill the Moon" has the reveal that the moon is actually an egg of a gigantic space creature that is about to hatch. Clara, the Doctor and Captain Lundvik spend much of the episode debating whether or not they should destroy the creature to save the earth. They then decide to let humanity decide. While humanity votes to kill the creature, Clara overrules the vote on her own. The hatching of the moon [[NoEndorHolocaust causes no damage]] and the baby immediately [[StatusQuoIsGod lays another egg bigger than itself]].
* In an episode of ''Series/TheFortyFourHundred'', one of the returnees has the ability to heal genetic defects ''in utero.'' It is later revealed that this returnee is a Rwandan war criminal and the rest of the episode debates whether his ability to heal should preclude him from getting sent back to Rwanda to pay for his crimes. It is later resolved by revealing [[spoiler:that every genetic defect he fixes is taken into his own DNA, making him sicker. Either way, this man is assured a death sentence; it becomes a choice of whether he dies quickly via execution or slowly, but helping others along the way.]]
* ''Series/{{Angel}}'' Season 4: It's an interesting question whether the heroes should defeat Jasmine, who brought peace to the world at the cost of humanity's free will. The revelation that she eats people makes the debate moot. However, it is clearly still viewed as, at best, an ambiguous choice. As Jasmine herself pointed out, she was killing thousands to save billions, and the opening of the Season finale shows the characters themselves are pretty torn over it.
* Airing bravely (or perhaps coincidentally) in the midst of the Terri Schiavo debate's worst excesses, ''Series/MalcolmInTheMiddle'' had a plot requiring Hal to choose whether to pull the plug on a similar patient. In the end, [[spoiler: in a parody of this trope, Hal solves the problem with [[TakeAThirdOption a hitherto unconsidered third option]]. We never learn what this option is, only that it involved [[NoodleImplements Radio Shack and a hat]].]]
--> '''Hal''': "Once I realized how much he loved birds, the answer was so ''obvious''!"
* ''Series/PrivatePractice'' did this with an episode where the doctors were asked to sterilize a woman living in a relationship with her biological brother (the pair had met without knowing about their blood relation). Much screentime was spent by the cast agonizing whether or not they were encouraging incest by agreeing to the procedure or not. In the end, the question became moot when it was revealed that the brother had known all along, causing the couple to break up.
* ''Series/{{Smallville}}'':
** Season 8 introduced Davis Bloome, [[SuperpoweredEvilSide a.k.a. Doomsday]], who, due to his split personality, discovers he is responsible for the deaths of several people in Metropolis. At one point he is goaded into becoming Doomsday; under the other side's influence, he smothers the person, and Doomsday recedes, allowing him control. Once Clark and Chloe figure out that he's been killing criminals to keep Doomsday at bay, they have to decide if Davis is still a good guy making the most of a horrible situation or a horrible killer. [[spoiler: They seemed to be leaning toward the former, then he gained his freedom and [[JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope promptly hopped off the slope]] by [[MurderTheHypotenuse killing Jimmy]], cementing him as a bad guy.]]
** Clark in Season 9 was faced with the difficult question of what to do about the Kandorian refugees: should they try to pass as normal humans and live regular lives or acquire their rightful Kryptonian powers? Being normal left them vulnerable to paranoid humans who had no qualms about killing them off but under Major Zod's leadership, the empowered Kandorians were destined to conquer Earth. Clark gives them [[TakeAThirdOption a third option]]: [[spoiler: shaking their faith in Zod and using the Book of Rao to send them to another plane of existence where they can make a new start]].
* ''Series/BattlestarGalactica2003'':
** The series can usually be counted on to examine social problems at some length, yet fell into this trap in Season 4.5. In light of [[CrapsackWorld recent discoveries]] the policies of the Adama/Roslin administration are brought into question -- the two had fielded an "ends justifies the means" approach to getting to Earth, especially Roslin who followed her visions on blind faith. Even in the midst of the latest scandal, Roslin is irresponsibly letting the government get out of control without allowing another leader to step into power, and Adama is considering allowing the Cylons -- the same Cylons that nuked the 12 Colonies and then tormented the population of New Caprica for a year -- ''citizenship'' into the Colonial Fleet. While Adama may have justification for contemplating this move, the show is right to suggest it, as well as Roslin's childish behavior, deserves to be re-evaluated with care ... however, when Adama and Roslin's opposition turns out to be led by [[WellIntentionedExtremist Felix Gaeta]] and Tom Zarek, who summarily [[MoralEventHorizon attempt to kill many of our beloved characters]] and succeed at killing numerous secondaries, the writers opt for a [[StuffBlowingUp different approach]]. It seems that [[GreyAndGrayMorality getting our protagonists into tough spots]] was not on [[DeusExMachina the agenda]], after all.
** There's a recurring theme of WhatMeasureIsANonHuman, about whether the Cylons are really "alive" and had souls. But according to ''Series/{{Caprica}}'', the Cylons originated when a human's memories and personality are coded into a digital avatar. So basically, the skinjob Cylons have bodies molecularly indistinguishable from humans, and their minds are essentially human minds, and since ''Series/{{Caprica}}'' doesn't end [[DeusExMachina with a massive wave of amnesia]], the BSG characters should know this from history class. So they are as human as anyone else. Why the hell are even they considered [[YouKeepUsingThatWord robots]] by any criteria except [[ArtificialHuman Karel Capek's?]]
** That one seems to be more a case of deliberately dehumanizing them, i.e. refusing to acknowledge Cylons are or could be people (even ''bad'' people). It's hardly surprising given the wars both sides fought, and the Cylons having an artificial origin just made it easier.
* On ''Series/LieToMe'', a cop plants a gun on a teen he mistakenly shot while chasing another suspect. The FBI wants Lightman to withhold his findings and stand by as the teen (who was paralyzed in the shooting and subsequent fall) is falsely charged with attempted murder because the same cop is undercover, rooting out suspected terrorists within the ranks of the police. [[spoiler: Lightman proves that the cop misled the FBI: he'd already uncovered everything they needed to take down the terrorists but said nothing because he was angry about the friendly-fire death of his daughter in combat.]]
* ''Series/{{JAG}}'':
** A soldier in Iraq was charged with killing an unarmed, surrendering insurgent on camera. [[spoiler: Lt. Vukovic examines the crime scene and finds the insurgent was actually trying to detonate a hidden cache of explosives.]]
** Rabb debates breaking attorney-client privilege to inform on a client he suspects is selling stealth fighter-jet paint coating (privilege doesn't cover a planned crime, only a crime already committed). After breaking the privilege, he faces disbarment charges when the missing coat of paint is found on the base. Fortunately, his boss, Admiral Chegwidden does not have to censure him for making a difficult decision once [[spoiler:he finds out it was the client's son who stole the coating, validating his assumption while essentially making him wrong about the facts of what he reported and giving the admiral leeway to find he was not at fault.]]
* ''Series/TheDistrict'' had a white plainclothes officer shoot and kill a black armed undercover cop after he chased off some punks trying to rob him. The officer claims the undercover pointed his gun at him but the strong suggestion that race played a factor in his judgement call (and 2 previous unrelated incidents where a white cop mistakenly shot a black cop under similar circumstances) leaves many in doubt about his story. [[spoiler: Until the police locate one of the youths the undercover chased off, who confirms that he pointed his gun before getting shot, and everyone agrees they need to train officers to identify themselves sooner during tense situations.]]
* Subverted twice on ''Series/ThePractice'': On 2 occasions, one of the attorneys was defending an [[LongLostUncleAesop old friend]] for making a questionable judgement call, only to find out in private that the defendant had ulterior motives and was just using their friendship to get a good defense. As they were bound by attorney-client privilege not to disclose the new information, they still had to present the original argument with a straight face to the jury:
** Rebecca defends a childhood friend, an off-duty cop who shot an armed stranger he believed was going to rob a convenience store. She digs up dirt on the victim including a murder charge that was [[OffOnATechnicality dropped on a technicality]]. [[spoiler: The murder victim in that case was an old friend of the defendant's: he killed the suspect out of revenge, then planted a gun on him to make it look like a robbery.]]
** Jimmy defends an old school buddy who was being sued after he outed an HIV-positive subordinate of his out of fear he might infect other co-workers. [[spoiler: During their conversations, the defendant reveals that he was a homophobe who was glad that the employee's hostile working conditions prompted him to resign.]]
* On ''Series/JudgingAmy'', Amy has to decide on the custody of a boy in a coma. Lots of folks think the boy has [[HealingHands faith-healing powers]] and they touch him to get cured of their ailments. TheGovernment has raised eyebrows about the unsanitary conditions of the transfer of germs from visitors day in and day out but the public strongly believes in the boy's powers and Amy will catch heat if she rules in favor of the government's motion. TheGovernment, fearing the negative press, drops their motion, giving Amy no choice but to rule in favor of the family and taking all the political heat for it.
* The short-lived TV series ''First Monday'' about Supreme Court decisions used this trope regularly whenever the difficult decision of finding in favor of the constitution was made to seem like a defendant was getting OffOnATechnicality or a sleazy individual was getting away with something for which ThereShouldBeALaw.
** A doctor gives his patient's blood to a police investigator who couldn't get a warrant for the suspect's DNA, pitting the need to get a serial rapist off the streets against doctor-patient privilege. [[spoiler: The rapist's girlfriend gives the police a lawfully-obtained sample of his DNA in the form of his toothbrush.]]
** The CIA challenges the publishing of a book that contains confidential trade craft secrets that could potentially endanger the CIA's mission, but the publisher argues the First Amendment trumps the need for secrecy. The CIA also gets one of the justices disqualified from ruling on the case [[spoiler: because she would have ruled in their favor. The justices theorize the book is really full of BlatantLies meant to fool the CIA's enemies, and the court challenge was designed to drum up publicity for it.]] However, they can't know for certain if this isn't part of some bigger [[ThePlan plan]] by the CIA who ''wants'' them to think they're ruling against the CIA's interest so they TakeAThirdOption and [[spoiler: drop the case altogether, ceding to the lower court ruling.]]
* Parodied on ''Sparks'', when Alonzo Sparks has to go up against his old law professor, who made fun of his stuttering, even nicknaming him "Porky Pig". Nervousness causes his stutter to come back, until [[spoiler:the professor makes the mistake of pissing him off, which motivates him to speak perfectly. Midway through this closing argument, the judge gets word of another case that already made the decision, and says the whole thing is "moot", to Alonzo's protest.]]
* Frequently on ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'', usually in the form of whether to let someone who is doing bad things against their will (e.g., a werewolf) go, or kill them. The person usually dies or makes some sort of HeroicSacrifice by episode's end, which and in and of itself isn't unusual since if you're not one of the brothers your life expectancy is pretty low.In one case where the trope is averted (and a werewolf actually wanders off into the sunset) they both pause and look around expectantly as if waiting for the last body to fall from a closet, and you can't really blame them.
* [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyYx83iQCMM This skit]] from the Israeli skit show ''The Chamber Quintet'':
-->I don’t wanna hear about that [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shimon_Peres Peres]]; they say he’s a humanist and all that, but that guy ain’t got no feelings. Like after [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996_shelling_of_Qana that thing in Kafr Qana]]: he got the press and told ‘em, ‘I’m accountable,’ said, ‘The Hizballah are to blame,’ said, ‘We won’t stop the operation,’ and not a single muscle in his face moved, nothing, not even a hint of a facial expression, some moist in his eye, half a smile... C’mon, after all, 100 Arabs died just like that; show some joy! Show some joy, man! But nothin’, that guy ain’t got no feelings!
-->That’s why he lost [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_general_election,_1996 the elections]]!

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Averted in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'' - no matter what stance you take in the overarching Mage vs Templar plot points, even a [[TakeAThirdOption neutral]] Hawke has to [[MortonsFork pick a side]] once [[spoiler: Anders [[NukeEm blows up]] the Chantry]], who, whilst governing both sides contains one of the few {{Reasonable Authority Figure}}s in the game. There is absolutely no way to avoid this.
** In a way its still played straight. In the end, regardless of whether you sided with Templars or Mages, you still have to kill both Orsino and Meredith when the former uses blood magic to turn into a Flesh Golem and the latter goes insane due to her sword made of Lyrium.
** Until the aversion comes at the end, however, it's played straight when it comes to the complaints of the Mages. Their complaints are never actually seriously addressed, because most of their arguments are "disqualified" for extenuating reasons. Anders, their primary advocate, is possessed by Justice and is portrayed as irrational, with even freedom advocate Isabela mostly brushing him off, so players can conveniently write him off and ignore anything he says as the words of a crazy abomination. The strongest argument the Mages have, that the Templars treat all Mages the same way and are willing to punish the innocent along with the guilty, is brushed off by Fenris "shifting the burden of proof", and almost every Mage you meet is an insane blood mage trying to kill you. Well, at least pro-Mage players can have their points addressed with Merrill... oh wait, she conveniently turns out to [[spoiler:accidentally unleash a Pride Demon on her clan in Act 3. Well, never mind anything ''she'' says then.]]
** This trope is also played straight regarding Hawke's bickering mother and uncle. Leandra is furious that Gamlen didn't tell her he lost the family fortune, then used her new family's distress to sell her kids into indentured servitude to pay off his debts. Gamlen counters that she ''chose'' to leave the family fortune behind years ago, left Gamlen to take care of everything, turned up decades later only when she needed something, and is acting entitled and ungrateful for the help Gamlen ''could'' offer her. It raises interesting questions of how much Gamlen really owes her and how appreciative Leandra should be. Then Hawke finds out that Leandra's parents actually left her everything and Gamlen stole her inheritance, rendering his side of the argument completely moot.
* The central themes of ''Videogame/FinalFantasyX'' and its sequel, ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX2''. In the original, there is an active debate in-game about whether or not it's right to sacrifice people in order to temporarily bring the rest of the world peace. Near the end of the game, the characters find a workaround to the ViciousCycle, but it will still cause the deaths of ''two'' of the major protagonists. WordOfGod states that this was done intentionally, in order to show TheHero's growth from being selfish to selfless. However, in the sequel, a similar situation comes up and a character offers to sacrifice himself in order to defeat the BigBad of X-2. Yuna vehemently opposes this idea, stating that she is sick of watching friends die or fade away, and that she does not want to fight battles where "we have to lose in order to win." [[spoiler: Furthermore, the aforementioned sacrificed hero gains a chance to be reborn in this game, should the player meet certain requirements, providing no resolution to the overall debate.]]
* Done deliberately and with severe repercussions in ''Franchise/MassEffect''. In the second game, Tali's loyalty mission has you defending her from a charge of treason. In the course of seeking evidence of her innocence, you find a recording revealing that her father was responsible for the crimes she's charged with. She asks you not to use the evidence (which will render her father the worst criminal in quarian history), even though it means permanent exile from her people. You can either use it, withhold it and see her exiled from the Migrant Fleet, or TakeAThirdOption (with enough Paragon/Renegade) and shame the Admirality Board into backing down. If you ''don't'' take the third option, [[spoiler:it becomes far more difficult to make peace between the quarians and the geth, because you'll have given the warmongers on the board evidence to back their position, and removed the possibility of Tali acting as a voice of reason]].
** The geth/quarian conflict that occurs in ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' definitely plays out this way. Towards the end, you're forced to choose between one side or the other, with the side you don't pick [[spoiler: being completely and utterly destroyed, essentially leading that race to extinction]]. However, depending on your choices in the previous game and during the Rannoch arc in this one, you may get to TakeAThirdOption where both races survive and even make long-term peace. There's a bit of GuideDangIt involved in this, but generally if you keep picking options throughout the series that promote the belief that there can be peace between the two races, it's not too hard to unlock.
* ''VideoGame/PokemonBlackAndWhite'' rather infamously addresses the franchise's morally ambiguous practice of Pokemon training... by having a chiefly villainous organization spout about how wrong it is for trainers to use Pokemon, while they themselves readily abuse and battle with the creatures in a manner that is unashamedly hypocritical. By the end of the game, it is simply assumed by the core cast that all Pokemon are content to be raised by their trainers, and the sole unambiguously heroic member of the organization is PutOnABus, conveniently allowing the series to avoid bringing the issue up again.
* Near the end of ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAwakening'', [[spoiler: Lucina confronts [[PlayerCharacter the Avatar]] after s/he is outed as a ManchurianAgent for the BigBad. She then decides that in order to stop the BadFuture she came from from happening all over again, she has to MercyKill them.]] You're given the option to agree or disagree with her judgement, but the choice is largely meaningless, since [[spoiler: Lucina won't go through with it either way [[ThickerThanWater if the Avatar is her husband or mother]], and even if neither is the case, her father, Chrom, will convince her to stand down anyway.]]
* The endgame of ''VideoGame/BlazBlueChronophantasma'' starts off with this trope. [[spoiler:Ragna has just returned from the Dark War era with knowledge of how Kushinada's Lynchpin works, and moves to accost Kokonoe over the use of Celica in it, with both sides getting into a heated argument (Kagura joins in, but he doesn't like cute girls getting hurt, but that's neither here nor there). Interestingly, both sides reference the Dark War, and both have good reasons for their chosen outcome. Kokonoe's is purely technical: whereas Bloodedge's sacrifice froze the Beast for one year, use of the Lynchpin could have suspended it for three to five, giving more time to better articulate an effective armed response against it. Ragna's argument is from an emotional standpoint: the whole reason Nine worked so hard on making the Nox Nyctores was because she was trying to get out of sacrificing Celica in the first place, and if Celica had gotten sacrificed, she would have been consigned to a FateWorseThanDeath, with Nine crossing the DespairEventHorizon as a result. The argument ends by intervention from Rachel, who reveals that the Nox Nyctores Houyoku: Rettenjo was made as a workaround to fire the Lynchpin, and that it had been loaded recently... with former Imperator Tenjo's soul. This allows both sides to get what they want in the end: Kokonoe gets to fire the Lynchpin to impair Imperator Izanami's operations, and the gang get to keep Celica for the rest of her natural existence... or as natural as a chronophantasma gets, anyway. Another problem related to the debate -- that Celica's chronophantasma was evoked for this inevitable endgame -- is never addressed.]]
* In ''VideoGame/Persona4'', the Investigation Team confronts the true culprit [[spoiler:Adachi]], who outlines his beliefs on how Japanese society and life in general is complete crap. Specifically how people were separated into two groups as birth; those with a ticket to success (genetic good looks, a good voice, born into a good family, ect), and those who aren't. Those in the latter have no choice but to accept this fact, and work their asses off to make up for not having that "ticket", despite the entire world constantly pushing them down. Society accepts that this is "normal" and that this is how things are meant to be, so anyone who rightfully complains about it is pushed down as a whiner, resulting in the quiet, silent voices of the masses screaming out for a change that is never going to happen. This entire point is never tackled directly by the Investigation Team, who instead essentially tell [[spoiler:Adachi]] that his opinions don't matter, and that he should grow more of a backbone.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* In ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney: Justice for All'', Phoenix must make a decision at the end of the last trial: [[spoiler:whether his client Matt Engarde is innocent or guilty. Engarde really is guilty, but Phoenix pleading for a guilty verdict would mean that his sidekick Maya would be killed by Engarde's partner, who kidnapped her to get Phoenix to defend the asshole in the first place. However, saying Engarde is innocent would get Maya back, but an unrepentant monster would get away with murder. The player even gets the chance to decide the verdict, but no matter what you choose, Franziska von Karma enters the courtroom before Phoenix has a chance to say your choice and offers a SmokingGun. After using said object, it's clear to the court that your client is guilty, but you get to choose again the verdict. It doesn't matter once again, as Engarde will just plead guilty so he goes to jail and his betrayed partner can't kill him]]. After the trial, though, Mia tells Phoenix that whatever he (the player) chose before the SmokingGun arrived was what defined him as a lawyer. So, in a sense, the player can model Phoenix's code of ethics.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'':
** In the third season finale, [[spoiler:Aang spends a considerable amount of time agonizing over whether he can bring himself to kill Ozai in order to save the world. However, he avoids the whole thing by [[DeusExMachina using a technique that was never hinted at previously]] to make him unable to firebend anymore and makes it a non-issue. It should be noted however that Aang does come to the conclusion that there's no way around killing Ozai before he discovers the technique, it's just he never had to actually go through with it.]]
** The existence of Jet and the Freedom Fighters could have raised an interesting question about vigilantes and tough decisions in a wartime setting, [[spoiler:when Jet attacked an old fire nation man. However, he soon [[JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope jumps off the slippery slope]] by nearly flooding an entire village with allies still inside it.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/LegendOfKorra''
** The first season sets up a really interesting question about the premise of the setting, only to ultimately result in this. We're introduced to the Equalists, a group of non-bender [[YourTerroristsAreOurFreedomFighters revolutionaries]] who feel oppressed by the superpowered benders (and we're shown that powers are used [[MundaneUtility in practical contexts]] as well as combat, so benders would make it hard for non-benders to get jobs as much as it makes them easy targets). Korra doesn't do much to counter their beliefs at first, [[{{Jerkass}} being rude, arrogant, and horribly insensitive to them]] about how awesome bending is, then going on to proudly star in a major sport that requires you to be a bender. While the Equalists resort to greater and greater forms of domestic terrorism, the attitudes of the bender main characters (and bender politicians) only make it easier to understand why the Equalists are so upset. So how is this resolved? By revealing that the Equalists are [[spoiler: secretly led by a bender]]. While his motives are actually [[spoiler:pretty honest after all]], his defeat is still treated as a resolution to the problem, even though [[spoiler: his true identity as not just a bender, but a ''bloodbender'' (bloodbenders can turn anyone into a puppet or kill them outright, and even block the bending of others), only showed how right he and the Equalists were to feel at the mercy of the dangerously powerful benders]]. The most attention this is ever given is that a [[spoiler:non-bender president]] is installed off-screen between seasons.
*** What certainly doesn't help is that the only non-bender main character is non-powered in much the way that Batman is (in other words, they [[spoiler:have a massive fortune and one-of-a-kind brilliant mind that allows them to compensate for a lack of superpowers in a way that cannot be easily imitated]]).
** Second season had more minor versions of this. [[spoiler:Unalaq]] wanted a balance between the human and spirit realms, which Korra would [[spoiler:eventually let happen anyway]], but since his methods involved deception, manufactured civil wars, and unleashing an [[spoiler:avatar of chaos]], little actual debate was had on the matter. Similarly, Vaatu's nature called into debate the methods Korra usually used to solve her problems (namely, force), by being [[spoiler:a being made from and empowered by concepts like aggression and violence (which gave Avatar Wan no other option other than to [[SealedEvilInACan seal it away]])]]. So, after [[spoiler:being brought low]], Korra has a spiritual journey to find a way to beat him... which ends up just being to [[spoiler:beat him into submission like every other villain]].
** Third season has the [[spoiler:Red Lotus]], a group of anarchists who have some legitimate concerns with the various leaders of the world. In fact, the one leader they manage to [[spoiler:assassinate]] is an Orwellian tyrant. The fact that they're extremists (to the point where they didn't even think about the consequences of [[spoiler:a power vacuum]]) allows the characters to mostly ignore even the points they ''do'' have (including against the leader they ''themselves'' hated). This is [[AuthorsSavingThrow somewhat offset]] by a [[HannibalLecture conversation]] the leader has with Korra in [[spoiler:the next season]].
** The fourth and final season follows up the events of the previous season by tackling the struggle of rebuilding a war-torn nation. [[spoiler:Kuvira]] desired to rebuild [[spoiler:the Earth Kingdom]] and it is later revealed that she was the ''sole individual willing to take on the task.'' Her methods are heavily based on military rule, with one of the protagonists being revealed to have been working for her during the time skip. In addition, she refuses to give up her leadership when the other nations wish to re-install a member of the royal family, believing that such an action would undo the past three years of work (which considering the behavior of individual they wished to install, could have very well been the case). The notion of whether any of the actions that [[spoiler:Kuvira]] is undergoing could be validated is ultimately rendered moot, when it is revealed halfway through the season that she [[spoiler:is building a WeaponOfMassDestruction and has established re-education camps]].
* The second season of ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeagueUnlimited'' raised some serious questions about how much power a league of superheroes should be allowed to have, and whether or not the U.S. government was justified in trying to restrain them, but those questions were more or less pushed aside when it turned out that [[spoiler: Lex Luthor was secretly provoking the conflict with sinister intentions... and ''Brainiac'' was manipulating ''Lex'' the entire time. WordOfGod admits that this was due to not wanting to come off as too much of an AuthorTract... considering ''Civil War'', it's hard not to say they may have had a point. At the least, they had Green Arrow try to provide an 'answer'.]]. WordOfGod stated they couldn't think of a way to resolve the plot on it's own, so they had a ConflictKiller happen.
** The last season of the series shows the League has been given military garrison and regularly has checks from members of the US Government now, and the members of the group agreed they need limitations (like the not keeping a super-zappo-laser on the Watchtower). So yeah, the show didn't skirt the issue and found a reasonable solution - [[CreatorProvincialism at least for the Americans.]]
** From the ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'' episode A Better World we have Batman debating with his Justice Lords counterpart whether the [=JLords'=] fascist regime is "right". After some back and forth, [=JLord=] Batman argues "We've made a world where no eight year old boy will ever lose his parents because of some punk with a gun!", prompting [=JLeague=] Bats to concede. Then in a later scene, [=JLeague=] Batman manages to change his counterpart's mind... by appealing to [[WellDoneSonGuy his daddy issues]]. [[VillainHasAPoint The writers admitted that this was because they couldn't come up with a compelling rebuttal.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' often fluctuates between [[SpoofAesop Spoof Aesops]] and serious ones, with the latter occasionally falling into this. "Best Friends Forever," for example, satirized the Terri Schiavo case and the heated debate over whether to remove her life support, with Kenny standing in for Schiavo. The debate is magically "resolved" when the characters hear an excerpt from the last page of Kenny's will, which all but states the intended Aesop outright: "It's wrong to show people in a vegetative state on national television."
* ''WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyond'': Shriek temporarily released a high-pitch frequency pulse throughout Gotham, causing chaos by making speaking incomprehensible and threatened a repeat performance using a more powerful pulse that would kill everyone unless Batman gave himself up to him. Terry wrestled with the morality of sacrificing one life for many, versus the loss his friends and loved ones would experience, and the disgust of sacrificing himself for the [[UngratefulBastard ungrateful]] populace of Gotham, who [[AllOfTheOtherReindeer side with Shriek and insist Batman was at fault and should give in to his demand]]. [[spoiler:Terry figures out Shriek is using two giant towers as a tuning fork and confronts him at his base of operations, destroying the towers in the process]]. Bruce asks him at the end if Terry would have given himself up had he not figured out where Shriek was and Terry [[spoiler:evades the question, telling him to focus on their repair of the batsuit.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/SupermanTheAnimatedSeries'': Superman ends up on a planet where Kryptonian criminals Jax-Ur and Mala have taken over the native aliens and ruling them like gods and executing anyone who protests their rule. The two are cordial to Superman and try to paint a picture of them improving the aliens' lives via technology and industry but Superman learns from one of them, Cetea, that the pair were about to execute the former leaders of their planet. Despite Cetea's plea for help, Superman is hesitant to take them on directly because Jax-Ur and Mala have been cordial to him and of the damage & destruction that would ensue from a Kryptonian vs. Kryptonian brawl. This is resolved when Cetea, recognizing that this isn't his homeworld, leads Superman to [[spoiler:a secret factory for an invading robot army that will be sent to Earth upon completion]] and when [[spoiler:Jax-Ur and Mala take Superman into deep space to send him into a black hole, and he fights them there, ending up with both of them getting sucked into the hole]]. He [[LampshadeHanging points out the trope]] at the end, noting that the aliens re-taught him the lesson that evil triumphs when good men do nothing.
* Happens in ''WesternAnimation/Ben10AlienForce'' with the first appearance of Alien X. The main characteristic of the alien being that it has godlike power but can't act in even the slightest manner (like walking) if it's internal personalities disagree to do so (which they near always do). When Ben is added into the debate it means he'd logically become all powerful because every one of their deadlocks would be broken with what Ben decided to do but then they suddenly start agreeing... to do nothing in opposition to anything Ben says. When Ben calls them out on this, saying that the compassionate personality should want to save lives and the aggressive personality should want to punish evil, compassion starts crying and they completely avoid responding to Ben's complaint.
* ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' [[PlayedForLaughs plays this for laughs]] at the end of one episode, where a supervillain [[TrappedInTVLand escapes into the world of television,]] inadvertently causing TV to literally rot people's brains. The apparent danger of watching too much television is pointed out by Robin at the end of the episode... except if it weren't for Beast Boy's extensive knowledge of TV, they would never have stopped the villain.
-->'''Raven''': So... there really isn't a lesson here.\\
'''Cyborg''': Yep! [[SpoofAesop It was all completely meaningless!]]\\
Cue EverybodyLaughsEnding.
* ''WesternAnimation/GravityFalls'' has this in the episode "The Last Mabelcorn." When a heart-reading unicorn named Celestabellebethebelle declares Mabel impure of heart (and then gives her a few reasons), her reasons are ignored and she is thereafter the villain of the episode because she made Mabel cry. Though Celeste does make some rather callous remarks along with her points, rather than addressing the legitimate parts of her criticisms or showing why Mabel is a good person despite her flaws, the episode concludes with Celestabellebethebelle being revealed as a fraud and the rest of the unicorns as "jerks" who are all actually terrible people with no ability to rightfully judge Mabel at all, thus dodging the issue of her comments' relative validity entirely.