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[[quoteright:350: [[ComicBook/BatmanAndCaptainAmerica http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/evil_standards_crop_1_2518.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:Because even when [[SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker you're psychotic]], you still have to protect the American way.]]

->''"I'll kill a man in a fair fight. Or if I think he's gonna start a fair fight. Or if he bothers me. Or if there's a woman. Or if I'm gettin' paid. Mostly when I'm gettin' paid... but ''eating people alive''? Where's that get fun?"''
-->-- '''Jayne''', ''Film/{{Serenity}}''

One of the easiest ways to highlight just how ''bad'' something or someone evil is: have an otherwise-remorseless villain reject it.

It's often to show that a new villain is ''really'' [[SortingAlgorithmOfEvil bad]] if even [[MorallyAmbiguousDoctorate Doctor]] [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Annihilation]] shrinks from it. Another way that it's used is to keep a villain safely on the "still sympathetic" side of the MoralEventHorizon; give him something that he simply ''will not do''. This can be strange if handled badly, leading to confusion and unintentionally edge into BlueAndOrangeMorality. Why, after all, should a criminal thinks shooting a [[NominalImportance particular single orphan]] be worse than killing every single orphan in the ThrowawayCountry, or a serial killer be upset by petty theft, or...?

The common uses are a killer or villain who spares a certain target, most often [[ChildrenAreInnocent children]], a villain who [[RapeIsASpecialKindOfEvil refrains from sexually-based offenses]], a villain who helps those who have helped him, or a murderer-rapist who WouldntHurtAChild, or [[SuspiciouslySpecificDenial a villain who might murder, extort, run protection rackets, run prostitutes, and so on, but doesn't deal in drugs]]. Therefore, it is fine for our hero to [[EnemyMine work with them]] when the need is great enough.

The trope title is frequently spouted by the NobleDemon, in order to justify his evil self-identification. The typical format of their declaration is usually along the lines of "I may be Y, but I am/am not an ''X'' Y!"

IGaveMyWord is another common variant, which may let the heroes agree to CombatByChampion. Some villains may maintain their standards through use of a [[HeroicVow Villainous Vow]].

Can lead to an EnemyMine if the evil is another villain. Can also lead to a PetTheDog moment. Can contribute to making an AntiHero or VillainProtagonist ALighterShadeOfGrey than their enemies. Can also make it so that a conflict [[EvilVersusEvil where both major factions are malicious]] [[ALighterShadeOfBlack has someone for the audience to root for]]. Generally will NeverHurtAnInnocent. In rare cases, a HeelFaceTurn can develop from the villain taking a RedemptionQuest as a direct result of the conflict (most likely from a HeelRealization).

In comedy, it's often used to frame a TakeThat against a real-life action (such as [[DigitalPiracyIsEvil digital piracy]]) or profession (such as [[EvilLawyerJoke lawyer]]) that the villain is "too good" to associate with; it's sometimes also played for laughs with ArsonMurderAndJaywalking, where the one thing that the villain objects to is something comically minor compared to their usual crimes. Contrast MoralMyopia, where the 'standards' apply only to the villain's allies and ArsonMurderAndAdmiration where the eviler one is the better. This trope is one of the distinguishing differences between most villains and TheUnfettered. If your story takes place in a MobWar where [[BlackAndGreyMorality one side is slightly better than the other]], it's most likely because the "[[NeighbourhoodFriendlyGangsters good]]" side has standards.

Compare and contrast PragmaticVillainy, when the villain's refusal to partake in the abhorrent act is far more selfish (or in the case of a group of villains against a single one, group-beneficial); EvilerThanThou, where the villain is dismissive of another villain for not being evil ''enough''; EvenMooksHaveLovedOnes, where minions defect to protect a loved one from their boss; DoWrongRight for cases where it's not what is done but rather ''how'' it's done that the villain has standards for; and FamilyValuesVillain for where the standards are very . . . old fashioned. Often the deal with many LawfulEvil villains, but sometimes not. Can occasionally be the cause of a BreakTheBadass moment, when the {{Badass}} in question is the bad guy.

See also HitmanWithAHeart, where this Trope may apply. (Not all characters who fit the ProfessionalKiller Trope are evil, but many are, and a lot do have scruples. They're particularly likely to have the EvenEvilHasStandards variant SelectiveSlaughter.)

Can even involve ConscienceMakesYouGoBack, SuddenPrincipledStand. See also EvilVirtues and VillainousValour, for good traits and virtues that villains commonly practice. The inversions of this trope are WellIntentionedExtremist and UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans, when it turns out that ''goodness'' is willingly crossing the MoralEventHorizon. This trope is a common trait in AffablyEvil characters. A subtrope of EveryoneHasStandards.


* EvenEvilHasStandards/AnimeAndManga
* EvenEvilHasStandards/ComicBooks
* EvenEvilHasStandards/FanFic
* EvenEvilHasStandards/{{Film}}
* EvenEvilHasStandards/{{Literature}}
* EvenEvilHasStandards/LiveActionTV
* EvenEvilHasStandards/{{Music}}
* EvenEvilHasStandards/MythologyAndReligion
* EvenEvilHasStandards/NewspaperComics
* EvenEvilHasStandards/PrintMedia
* EvenEvilHasStandards/ProfessionalWrestling
* EvenEvilHasStandards/{{Radio}}
%% Due to the controversial nature of whether or not evil people in Real Life have standards, it would only be GodwinsLaw.
%% No RealLife examples, please. This is an admin warning. Disregarding or removing it may result in an edit ban.
* EvenEvilHasStandards/TabletopGames
* EvenEvilHasStandards/{{Theater}}
* EvenEvilHasStandards/VideoGames
* EvenEvilHasStandards/{{Webcomics}}
* EvenEvilHasStandards/WebOriginal
* EvenEvilHasStandards/WesternAnimation
%% No RealLife examples, please. This is an admin warning. Disregarding or removing it may result in an edit ban.


[[folder: Roleplay]]
* Roleplay/ThisIsWar has Sion, who is a seemingly merciless sadomasochistic war demon who kills for no reason judge five other demons for ganging up on one person
* NationStates has Roleplay/{{Gregoryisgodistan}}, which in spite of being one of the most evil dictatorships in the Multiverse, despises gender inequality and all who support it.