"When my journey began, I wanted only bloodshed, but along the way, when people saw me, they assumed I was a Jedi. And they needed my help. And... I gave it. I gave myself. It was right. It felt good. It was the only good thing I'd felt in so long."As self-evident as it sounds, Good Feels Good. The Hero says Keep the Reward because he has already received his reward; the knowledge that he has done good. Even if no one will know and no one will thank him, he will know and that's enough. This trait is common in the Ideal Hero, The Cape and other archetypes. Where the interesting part comes in is that bad guys are quick to find out not only that Evil Feels Good when using The Dark Side, but doing good deeds in accordance with the God of Good can be just as if not more pleasurable, albeit in different ways. The Mole may end up Becoming the Mask from the cheering crowds, the feeling inside that he is loved, and have made one or more others safe (and not having to worry about jail time!). Good can be headier than any evil banquet or wine, and won't leave a horrible aftertaste. The genuine love and admiration from the masses can seem a far more potent rush than the that he once felt from their screams of panic and pleas of mercy. The Power of Friendship itself can make a normally evil aligned character question or outright change his allegiances and alignment when he knows his boss cares less for him than his black cape, while his new friends will risk life and limb for him. Usually results in a Heel–Face Turn, and if part of an evil team, a falling out/civil war. May lead to a Redemption Demotion because Good Is Dumb, and while good feels good, its selling point is not predicated on giving out power. No less often, the bad guy will "resist" the temptation of good, or find he can't quit the Psycho Serum, much to his own dismay. May also lead to a Redemption Promotion because Good Is Not Dumb; Power of Trust facilitates teamwork and The Power of Friendship aids motivation. Turning good may also allow them to use Holy Hand Grenades or some other such 'good' abilities that were inaccessible when they were evil. It can be the litmus test for a video game's writing in particular. If the "good guys" inspire Video Game Cruelty Potential, something has Gone Horribly Wrong. See Pet the Dog, for when a villain does something nice and does seem to like doing it, but doesn't (usually) make a habit out of it. Compare For Happiness and Good People Have Good Sex. See also Power of Trust and Rousseau Was Right. Contrast Being Good Sucks, and No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. See also You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good. Contrast with Good Hurts Evil.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- The Team Rocket trio from Pokémon take pretty much every chance they can get to help save the world (mostly in the movies).
- Sailor Moon also employs this trope in just about every Defeat Means Friendship situation she runs into.
- Defied in Dragon Ball Z: Goku attempts to pull this trope with Captain Ginyu of the Ginyu Force, but the Captain is having none of it.
- Generally one of the main themes of the series Trigun, the only happy people are the good guys. This is best exemplified by Livio who is much happier protecting people than he was when he was a servant of the Eye of Micheal.
- Digimon Tamers: Impmon realizes this after his Redemption Promotion. Patching things up with his tamers and joining the fight against the D-Reaper made him happier than he'd been all season.
- In Fate/Zero, Kiritsugu Emiya spent his entire life being a "hero" who Shot the Dog repeatedly and earned no real satisfaction from it. In the end, he found fulfillment and peace simply by rescuing and raising a little boy, Shirou, who was one of the only survivors of the cataclysmic fallout of Angra Mainyu's release during the fourth Grail War. In a way, Shirou saved Kiritsugu too. It's deconstructed with Shirou though. He can only feel happy when he's helping others, leading to him obsessively try to save or help everyone and not caring about his own well being at all compared to others he is helping.
- Attack on Titan plays with this in many ways. Krista reaps the benefits of being the kindest person around, loved by everyone and selfless to the point it approaches a Deconstruction. Ymir criticizes her dangerous behavior for the sake of being loved by others, but after saving Bertolt agrees that it isn't so bad to "play goddess" sometimes. Reiner is a firm believer in this theory, and as a result is deeply admired by the others as a reliable and heroic "big brother". However, his childhood friend Bertolt implies he's actually a Heroic Wannabe prone to putting himself in danger. He, along with fellow moles Annie and Bertolt, end up becoming close to their human comrades and realize that Being Evil Sucks.
- An odd heroic example in Happiness Charge Pretty Cure: When Iona/Cure Fortune's repowered, she comes to realize that these powers don't run on hate or anger, but love and caring, and she enjoys that feeling.
- In Endride, Louise becomes the mask over time, feeding off the positive energy among the Ignauts and moved by the possibility that as a member, they could right the wrongs that happened to their family, leading to a Heel–Face Turn.
- The original run of the Thunderbolts!, who were a team of villains masquerading as heroes in the hero-starved post-Onslaught Marvel Universe. Baron Zemo's leading the whole team into gaining the trust of the public before really breaking their will... but most of the Thunderbolts really like being treated like heroes.
MACH-1: This hero thing... well, I'm starting to think it's contagious.
- MACH-1 (the disguised Spider-Man villain The Beetle) is surprised to discover that, after he and Spider-Man have been Back To Back Bad Asses, he can not take a gift-wrapped opportunity to frame the web-slinger for murder — a hero like MACH-1 would never do that.
- In a comics arc in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, after ex-mercenary Darca Nyl takes a dead Jedi's lightsaber and goes in pursuit of the Dark Jedi who killed his son, he is repeatedly mistaken for a Jedi by the people of various worlds. He is drawn into helping them, even at the cost of time he could have spent in pursuit, and in a textbook example, he finds that he likes it. "Lycan said to me, Men are not driven by altruism. I'll prove him wrong." In a later comic, though, he's bitter and isolationist again, because he tried to do good and be good and failed, because that's edgier.
- In Kurt Busiek's The Wizard's Tale, the hereditary but inept evil wizard chooses to cast a banish-evil spell from the Tome of Eldritch Lore. With the evil gone, he finds himself casting good magic and liking it very much.
- In Pre-Crisis Superman comics, Lex Luthor uncharacteristically does a good deed that saves an alien civilization. The people are so grateful that they rename their planet Lexor and hail him as a hero. Lex is startled by how good it feels. In the following years, he marries a Lexorian woman and at one point even tries to go straight and settle down there. Unfortunately, it can't last. He just can't leave his evil past behind him, and a fight with Superman accidentally leads to the destruction of the entire planet, for which Luthor blames Superman and comes to hate him far more than he ever had before.
- While Superman has a lot of the Comes Great Responsibility mantra going on, he also simply gets his jollies by helping people out. All-Star Superman suggests that Superman's enhanced senses make him perceive the sheer beauty of everything to where he feels and acts the way he does. When Luthor is able to gain those powers himself, he's overwhelmed by it to where he breaks down into tears.
- An unusual example comes in the form of PJ Maybe in Judge Dredd. He started out as a gleeful serial killer and identity thief, and at the end of the story, managed to become the mayor of Mega-City One. In order to keep up the farce, he had to do quite a lot of good work — and discovered he enjoyed it immensely, so much so that he now works to improve people's lives because he wants to. That said, he still loves to kill people, only now he tends to focus on the worst criminals.
- Damien Wayne started out as a homicidal Jerkass thanks to being raised by the League of Assassins and spoiled rotten since birth. He later finds fighting the good fight as Robin to be far more fulfilling than being the heir of a new world order. When push comes to shove, he ultimately chooses the ideals of the Batman family over those of Ra's Al Ghul. He's still kind of a jerk though.
- Batman himself started his career because saving other people from having to go through what he went through as a child made him feel better about his personal tragedy.
- In the final act of Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire, the Beemahs — bio-engineered living weapons who are, essentially, energy-weapons with legs — are shown trust for the first time, by the titular Buck Godot. All of their past associates treated them like wild dogs, using them against enemies but always keeping them in check with some weapon or threat. They find that they LIKE being trusted and respected, and respond by being as good as their word — and then some.
- In The Thing series, Nighthawk and Constrictor are among many trapped in Arcadia's Amusement Park of Doom. Nighthawk suggests that he and Constrictor, instead of fighting each other, work together to free the rest of Arcadia's prisoners. Constrictor is less open to the idea, since he's, y'know, a villain, but Nighthawk points out that he himself used to be a villain too.
Constrictor: I don't get it, Richmond. Why'd you switch over? Why risk your neck being a good guy?Nighthawk: Well, I could give you a song-and-dance about doing the right thing. But in all honesty... I do it because it's fun!
- Spider-Man always lives by the creed that "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility". In one story someone asked him "What comes with great responsibility?" All Peter had to do was point to the rest of the city.
- A specific Spider-Man example occurs in the finale of The Assassin Nation Plot. While Spidey's actions (which result in him stopping a terrorist plot aimed at destroying the National Archives, framing Symkaria for it, and possibly starting a war) do earn him a small compensation from the Symkarian embassy, his true reward is acknowledgement and gratitude from Silver Sable, Captain America, and a high ranking general; as caption on the last panel of the story says, "sometimes... that's enough."
- In the Superman story Wrath of Gog, the previously mindless engineered killing machine Doomsday has developed intelligence and emotions. He decides to experiment with these feelings by rescuing a kitten from a tree and returning said kitten to its owner, a young boy. Doomsday discovers that this act fills him with positive feelings. He then decides to see if the reverse is true, and obliterates both the kid and his kitten, only to discover that this doesn't make him feel good... He eventually goes on to be a great hero even wearing Superman's symbol after Superman is captured by Gog.
- In Mega Man, Dr. Wily is supposedly rehabilitated after Ra Moon's attack, but is actually scheming behind Dr. Light's back, and is planning on stealing Light's new robot Gamma after they finish work on it. However, right before the plan is about to go into effect, he hesitates, and reflects that the time spent working with his former partner to improve the world felt good. Unfortunately, his jealousy gets the better of him again, and his Robot Masters set his plan into motion.
- In Avengers #0, Deadpool, under orders from Old Man Steve Rogers, goes on a mission to get a canister of Terrigen Mists with the caveat of not killing anyone. As he performs this superbly, Deadpool notes that Steve is the only man for whom he'd do missions for free and, honestly, he loves being able to do this. Even if it would ruin his credibility if it got out.
- Megatron, of all people comes to this conclusion in The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye. He originally joined the crew of the Lost Light as part of a clever little legal scheme to get out of guaranteed public execution, only to find that he was happier teaching classes on the Knights of Cybertron and rescuing individual Autobots than he'd ever been as a world-conquering warlord with the blood of billions on his hands.
- Teen Titans fanfic Adaptation. The Teen Tyrants switch bodies with the Teen Titans, pretending to be them to the general public. Ravager finds pretending to be a superhero surprisingly pleasant, but ultimately remains committed to being a villain upon his team's return to their own bodies.
- Kin in the Naruto/TMNT crossover fic Teenage Jinchuriki Shinobi is much happier as a member of team seven in Konoha than as an agent of Orochimaru.
- The Transformers Prime fanfic "Transformers Prime: Time War". Knock Out, initially attempts to do good only so he'll be accepted by the Autobots. But when Smokescreen is about to be killed protecting him he suddenly realizes that risking his own life for someone else isn't so undesirable, and nearly gets killed trying to protect Smokescreen from Megatron.
- In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, ProtoMan discovers this when he cares for Nomad.
- In Friendship Goes Both Ways, Trixie uses a magic item to charm the Mane 6 and the rest of Ponyville into believing that she's their friend, hoping to take advantage of them. It's not long before she treats them with friendliness in return, and starts to feel ashamed of herself for tricking them. It turns out that the magic item never did what she thought it did, and the whole thing was engineered by Twilight Sparkle to see if this trope held true and if Trixie could be a nice pony if given a chance.
- In A Teacher's Glory Anko is portrayed as realizing this to get out of her Broken Bird Blood Knight personality. She realizes she enjoys having kids look up to her as a trusted authority figure, and to keep her edge and respect she cuts her alcohol intake, drops some weight, tightens her own training, and becomes more friendly and approachable.
- Weiss Reacts: Velvet is actually a variation of this. She continues participating in pranks and antics not because she still has an interest in Weiss, but because she genuinely enjoys everyone watching her being happy.
- In Black Flames Dance in the Winde: Rise of Naruto Naruto gradually earns the respect of others from his work as a ninja (such as being pivotal in saving the village during an attack) and comes to find he enjoys being respected more than being feared. Word of God says an outside force will bring it to a grinding halt.
- In Marionettes, Lightning Dust remarks on this when she fights side by side with Rainbow Dash to defeat Gear Shift.
- The villain in Fanfic/Shadowchasers Ascension is a noble among The Legions of Hell, where Hell is described as a Crapsack World where power means everything. Dugan sums up the Trope in his final closing monologue:
Dugan: I once met a philosopher who said that if a sinner – any sinner, even one as evil and brutal as Charles Manson or John Wayne Gacy – were given a one-minute view of the torments of Hell, and then a one-minute view of the glories of Heaven, those two one-minute experiences would be enough for him to reject his wicked ways forever and seek a path to redemption.Most mortals don't get those views… The promise of eternal bliss for those who do good and the threat of eternal damnation for those who do evil… We are told of it by clergymen and others, but we kind of have to take their word for it. Blind faith is a very hard sell, and because of this, men are tempted by the forces of Hell.But as some Shadowchasers have seen, the plots of evildoers often persist long after being damned. Hell is a society as much as it is a place of divine punishment… A society built on betrayal, where friendships don't exist, and alliances end when they are no longer useful. A society where ascension is the only goal, and no trick is too dirty in order to climb to the top.And as much as we don't like having it hang over our heads, it's not going to go away……because it's not a perfect world…
- Cinder Fall eventually comes to this realization in The RWBY Loops. Interestingly, she also realizes that Evil Feels Good. The obvious conflict between the two facts feeds pretty directly into her growing insanity.
- In Schindler's List, Schindler tries to pull this on Amon Goeth. Goeth gives it a shot and quickly decides that evil feels better.
- The titular heroine in Amélie starts out as a lonely introvert who, after finding a cigar box of childhood treasures, locates their previous owner and gives the box back to him. She enjoys the feeling of helping someone else so much that she starts helping other people in similar ways.
- Ant-Man has the reformed thief turned hero needing to recruit some other thieves to help with the mission, leading to this exchange near the climax:
Luis: We're the good guys right?
Scott: Yeah, we're the good guys.
Luis: Feels kinda, kinda weird, y'know.
Scott: Yeah. But we're not done yet...
- In one Russian children's story the main hero fights a clique of bullies led by an evil sorceress (yep). After one of the "villains" fails an operation, his mistress condemns him to a terrible punishment: within a day he must commit... THREE GOOD DEEDS. Naturally, his cronies are dumbfounded by such severity and the delinquent himself can barely brace himself to serve his term. But after the first deed he suddenly realizes that doing good is not painful but pleasant, goes on a do-good spree and eventually defects from his gang.
- In one of the Dragonlance stories, Palin Majere, nephew of Raistlin, wonders why he should become one of the "white robes", the good wizards. And why he just shouldn't choose whatever order makes him feel good. After he does a good deed, the head of the White Order mentions that he found that doing good does help himself.
- Raistlin himself is some sort of subversion of this trope, since he saves people from threats and oppression several times but remains a very evil wizard. He says he just likes the idea of people owing him more than they can ever repay. It's also a case of very specific empathy; having endured suspicion and hatred for all his life, he is always a friend to the downtrodden and abused, but despises the happy and content.
- Happens occasionally in the Heralds of Valdemar series; When Skif, a thief, decides he'll be a good guy rather than returning to his thieving ways after being chosen as a Herald. Why? Because having a companion is just that awesome.
- An aging, retired black-market weapons dealer in Dean Koontz's second Frankenstein novel finds this happening to him, because his four hired servants are devout Christians who know exactly what kind of man he used to be, and rather than hate or fear him, they dote on and care for him with love and respect. Now he sincerely donates to charities and orphanages and considers the moral consequences of his actions.
"It's amazing. They've all been so nice to me for no reason, and after a while I sort of wanted to be nice to them.""How insidious.""It is. It really is."
- This is what happens to pretty much the entire D'Haran army in the Sword of Truth series once Richard takes over. Several times it's mentioned that the soldiers feel good to be fighting for a good cause as opposed to conquest (though at first, a few are mentioned as missing the gains of looting and pillaging). As General Tiramac puts it, "it just feels better to have a wizard here who's more intent on putting the guts back to a man rather than have them taken away".
- This was Socrates'/Plato's reasoning in The Republic for why we should behave morally — a truly good person has an ordered and balanced soul and is therefore better off no matter what the external circumstances. Aristotle put a few not-so-subtle Take Thats in Nichomachean Ethics against the idea that a good person impaled on a spike is happier than a bad one surrounded by wine, women and song.
- The following dialogue, attributed to Confucius:
"What is love?" one of his followers asked him."To love mankind, that is love," he replied."But what is it?""To hold dear the effort more than the prize may be called love. The joy of doing something not for the prize one would get in the end, but for the joy itself, that may be called love. To do good not because you are going to be rewarded for it in this life or in a life to come, but to do good because you enjoy doing good, that is to love good. Love is its own reward. Love makes all things possible. Love offers peace. When love is at stake, my children, yield not to an army."He thought for a while, then added:"A heart set on love can do no wrong!"
- Lara, The Mole in the X-Wing Series, finds this and The Power of Friendship surrounded by the pilots of Wraith Squadron, and very quickly starts Becoming the Mask.
One thing Lara understood was the expressions turned on her. They were the eyes of a group to whom she belonged. Not since her parents' loss had she seen that expression.
- A reversal — Evil Feels Terrible, if you will — appears in the novel Death Star. The gunner who fired the superlaser that destroyed Alderaan, who had always wanted to fire the biggest gun, finds that following orders and actually getting what he'd wished for led to misery beyond his wildest dreams, a personal Moral Event Horizon. Unlike a lot of other doers of evil deeds, he can't justify it, can't either make it less of a crime or blame someone else, and is unable to sleep. When the Death Star is in range of Yavin he stalls desperatelynote , hoping that something will happen and he won't have to pull that trigger again. He gets that wish, poor bastard.
- In Allegiance, the five stormtroopers of the Hand of Judgment, on the run after their leader refused to kill unarmed civilians and then killed an officer in self-defense, find themselves still trying to follow the oath they swore to protect citizens of the Empire. They end up doing things like saving farmers from swoop gangs, taking out a corrupt security chief to get previous security people back in place, getting a man preparing to violently secede arrested, and very reluctantly helping Han Solo and Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa, although it probably helped that they thought those three were "normal" Rebels. At the end of the novel, Mara Jade saves them and tells them to keep their heads down, but when she leaves, they don't see how they can.
LaRone: We swore an oath to defend the people of the Empire. There are a lot of other dangers out there they need defending against.
Brightwater: Actually, I was kind of hoping you'd say that. For all the bumps and bruises, this hero stuff definitely helps you sleep better at night.
- The Force, in general, is supposed to feel like this. A particularly nice description can be found in I, Jedi:
Streen: "It feels like ten kilos of life in a five-kilo box. I can only feel a trickle now, like dust motes floating in a sunbeam, one by one, just moving through me, but it's just so right there's no describing it. It tickles a bit, feels like a first kiss, or the jolt you feel when the flux in sabacc just makes your hand better than what you were already betting."
It filled me up in an instant and I imagined it leaking from my eyes, nose and mouth. I wanted to shout and dance with joy because it was everything Streen had described. It was what I felt when Mirax first said she loved me. It was the scent of the perfume my mother wore, and the warm laugh my father used to have when he was proud of me. It was the hearty slap on the back from Wedge after a mission and even a touch of Whistler's triumphant serenades. It was everything that was good and right and positive and alive; and it was waiting for me to bend it to my will.
- A few pages on Corran, who'd asked Streen about it, opens himself fully to the Force for the first time.
- Moist von Lipwig in the Discworld books, specifically the end of Going Postal. Well, sort of: he's been running on adrenaline and dancing on the edge of collapse and loving the hell out of it for so long that he can't go back to being a simple confidence trickster; it would just be comparatively unexciting.
- Played with in the sequel, Making Money. Moist's job has become boring and his mood has deteriorated to the point where he is breaking into his own building because he can, and even carrying around a blackjack despite the fact the he loathes weapons. He starts acting heroically again after being tricked and coerced into a new job as the head of a bank. Seems that Moist would rather be a bad guy with an interesting life than a good guy with a boring one, but being a good guy with an interesting life is even better.
- Tiffany invokes this in The Shepherd's Crown in an effort to reform Nightshade, the Elven Queen. At the same time, she also explains the reasons behind the feeling: humans are more likely to survive if they help each other, so someone who gets good feelings from being kind has an evolutionary advantage.
- In The Stand, Harold is The Resenter, and decides to help out the good citizens of Boulder just so that they won't suspect he's The Mole. While doing so, he discovers that the good guys genuinely appreciate his help, and wonders if maybe he should just try Becoming the Mask. The usual Heel–Face Turn, however, is subverted when the Dark Side offers him
reallymildly kinky sex.
- After his Heel–Face Turn, Skeeter Jackson of Time Scout enjoys trying to be good. He really enjoys it when he gets to use his old skills to do good deeds.
- A Song of Ice and Fire, despite being a Crapsack World extraordinaire, has an unexpected instance of this in Jaime Lannister. He discovers, much to his own surprise, that he quite likes the feeling he gets from enforcing justice, protecting the helpless, keeping his word and preventing massive bloodshed. Inevitably, he is forced to Kick the Dog again before long, but (assuming he survives much longer) things are actually looking very hopeful for his further moral development.
- In Les Liaisons Dangereuses Valmont saves a local family from eviction in order to impress a pious woman he's trying to seduce. He finds the family's gratitude extremely pleasant. Valmont being Valmont however, he therefore concludes that since charity is a lot more fun than he expected, people who engage in it aren't self-denying at all, and therefore far less virtuous than he'd always supposed.
- In Spider Robinson's short story "Satan's Children", an aging hippie chemist who was attempting to create safe, non-addictive recreational drugs, discovered a formula he called TWT for "The Whole Truth". From his initial test group he discovered that TWT gave its users a desire to tell the unvarnished truth to others. After the experiment, most of his test subjects came back for a second hit, which he refused to give them. At first the chemist was afraid that TWT was addictive on the first hit, but he later realized that it was the truth that was addictive. It felt good to unburden, to shed all that karmic baggage. Even once the influence of TWT wore off, most of his test subjects were able to dedicate themselves to living honestly, and never looked back.
- The Burroughs story "A Junky's Christmas". On Christmas a Junky in the throes of withdrawal scours the street for his next hit. After he finally scores he hears screaming in the next hotel room. When he goes in he finds a man suffering from kidney stones and selflessly administers heroin to him. Although he's out of heroin for himself he doesn't, as one would expect, feel the pains of withdrawal—rather he feels a great surge of pleasure as if from heroin and attains "the immaculate fix".
- Crime and Punishment: Svidrigaïlov gives this a unique twist. An immoral pursuer of sensual enjoyment, Svidrigaïlov performs acts of charity not because he is good, but because he gets a sensual thrill out of doing good deeds. He's just as capable of getting his thrills from evil deeds, however.
- In the prison drama Oz, there's an episode where all of the inmates collect money to send inmate Bob Redabow's grandson to Disney Land before he dies of leukemia. Another inmate tries to talk Simon Adebisi, one of the most dangerous and vicious inmates in Oz, into robbing the old man of the money. He refuses, and says "'Cause sometimes it's good to be human."
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Faith's heel face turn immediately follows an event where she switches bodies with Buffy. In doing so she becomes Buffy (or rather, her idea of what Buffy is like. She adopts what she thinks of as Buffy's Catch Phrase: "Because it's wrong"). Notice how Buffy is in no way affected by being in Faith's body. Bear in mind that Faith knows what is going on before it happens, and wants to stay "in disguise" long enough to make good use of it. Hence her attempt to act like Buffy, complete with practice session. After that, it's Becoming the Mask.
- The team originally stay together because they like working together and consider it more fun, going after bad guys because Nate insists they are the only people he would be willing to target. From the second episode when the team see how grateful the injured veterans are when their rehab center is given the money that the team stole, they start to transition into this trope.
- This trope is focused on in the season 2 premiere. After breaking up in the season 1 finale they all attempted to return to their previous criminal activities but none of them got any kind of fulfillment or enjoyment out of it. They were all very excited to be able to go back to helping people. Strictly speaking they still are leading lives of crime. It's just that it's good-guy crime helping those who the law fails or cannot help because of circumstances.
- In a NewsRadio episode, Dave and Bill are stuck in an airport in the Midwest. Bill begins mockingly acting as friendly as the locals, but eventually starts to forget he was being sarcastic, and it starts to feel good. "Do you mean this is how you feel all the time?" he asks Dave. "Except for when I talk to you," Dave admits.
- The Cylon Centurion (nicknamed "Cy" by Starbuck) in the one halfway-decent episode of Galactica 1980 came to this conclusion after becoming the Lieutenant's friend.
- Gaius Baltar of Battlestar Galactica is just about the most selfish and narcissistic person there has been, though he has improved considerably from how he used to be even, and after undertaking a series of charitable acts mostly out of a desire to regain standing, discovers that it actually made him feel good to do good.
- Possibly the entire point of My Name Is Earl, Earl starts doing good things for fairly selfish reasons (he wants bad things to stop happening to him) but fairly quickly finds out that Good Feels Good and starts trying to do the right thing for its own sake.
- Xena started out as The Atoner and then morphed into this. By the middle of first season, she's talking about doing good like it's heroin.
- Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: Karone, infamously (and formerly) known as Astronema, clearly feels much happier as a Power Ranger than as a villain. It probably helped that she was born good, but was kidnapped and then raised to be evil.
- Power Rangers Wild Force: Near the end of the series, Toxica and Jindrax decide to betray Master Org since they realize he doesn't care about them and decide to help the Rangers rescue Princess Shayla. Then deciding to call it quits on the feud between them on the Rangers. Jindrax remarks on how it felt good to help someone, while Toxica tells him not to get used to it.
- It is the reason why Heckyl stops waiting for the destruction of Earth and decides to help the Rangers fight it in Power Rangers Dino Charge.
- As of the fifth volume finale of Heroes, a freshly-turned Sylar seems to have finally settled on this — subduing Eric Doyle and tying him up for the police really did feel better than going the extra mile and killing him.
- In Kamen Rider Den-O, Momotaros originally wanted to cause havok like all Imagin. Then he came found out that being good meant he got to fight...a lot. Clearly for a battle hungry Imagin like him, this makes being good really fun.
- This is used by House to justify his indestructible misanthropy; because Good Feels Good, people only do good to feel better about themselves and not out of real moral convictions.
- In the season 4 finale of Charmed, this is the reason why the main characters don't give up their powers when the Angel of Destiny offers them a normal life.
Paige: We saved someone. It felt good. It felt... right.
- This was part of the reason why Kyra the Seer wanted to abandon the Underworld and become human; the other part was because the Avatars intended to wipe out demons to create their World of Silence.
- Former Jerk Jock Shun Daimonji decides to help out the Kamen Rider Club in Kamen Rider Fourze even though Gentaro notes that he's not going to get recognition for his efforts, but he'll know that he's doing something good. Shun's fine with that.
- In one episode of the Korean Banjun Drama, a conman hired a single mother and her son to pretend to be his family, in order to fool a cop who had been chasing him for years into thinking that he has reformed. By the end of the episode, however, the conman does truly start to care for his "family" and chooses to put his past life behind him and become a good father and husband.
- Person of Interest: Fusco complains that he was just getting used to being a good guy when Reese insists he go undercover with HR.
- An example from the last episode of Tomica Hero Rescue Force shortly before they run out of power, Maare, Saan and Shica grab from the corridor and ask him to save Maen It's not, everyone's just under the effect of a Scarecrow-style Fear Gas. Just before they're completely drained the three of them realise that "Saving lives ... isn't so bad after all,"
- It's revealed in the epilogue that the three of them join Rescue Force as repairmen and a Meido
- In Beetleborgs, the heroes eventually managed to steal the Astral Axe from the villains, and summon Boron in order to use him against the titanic monster Repgillian. While it eventually took more than Boron to defeat it, once they did defeat it, Boron decided that he liked fighting for the side of Good better than what he was doing before.
- Doctor Who:
- Done darkly by the Fourth Doctor, who saves the the world a lot and is usually very nice to people but apparently mostly because he thought being good was more fun than being evil. Having just been released from exile and being at the beck and call of the Time Lords, his primary personal motivation was to act with total freedom, have a great time, and get a ton of attention while doing it, and there was much agreement in the writer's room that if doing good things wasn't his idea of a good time, he'd have no reason to bother, and would have jumped headfirst into absolute darkness (which would have been played with in "The Five Doctors" had the actor agreed to be in it). In a sense, he was something of a goodness-hedonist.
- Done much less ironically by the Eighth Doctor, a big-eyed Cloudcuckoolander who laughs and snogs his way around Earth, clearly having a lovely time being a genuinely nice person for a change. He gets a lot Darker and Edgier in the Expanded Universe, though retains this essential part of his nature - unlike the apparently harmless but very judgemental Fifth Doctor or the sweet but fundamentally selfish Fourth Doctor he really is just that nice a person, and he loves that about himself. This part of his personality is what causes his eventual death, as not everyone trusts him to be kind as much as he trusts everyone else to be kind.
- On the first Thanksgiving episode of How I Met Your Mother, Ted and Robin find Barney at a soup kitchen, serving dinner to the homeless. Barney even states that the feeling of giving a hot, nutrious meal to someone who needs it feels so good it's like getting a "soul boner". Granted, he was doing court-ordered community service, but he was still doing it and was very goot at it.
- In one episode of Friends, Joey insists that all good deeds are selfish because people only do them to feel better about themselves. Phoebe thinks it's too cynical and tries to prove him wrong. She donates a large amount to PBS (an organisation she hates) so that she feels bad about her good deed. However, she spoke with Joey who was a celebrity taking donators' calls on a TV fund-raiser, and Phoebe's contribution helped him to earn a spot in the broadcast which he really wanted. Phoebe is happy that she helped him which ruins her plan.
- In one episode of Taxi, Reverend Jim, having claimed a sizable inheritance from his father, revealed that he sometimes liked to give a thousand dollars to a deserving stranger, simply because he enjoyed the feeling of generosity. To prove his point, he gave each of the other cab drivers a thousand dollars each to give to someone whom they felt was deserving, ranging from family to total strangers. By the end of the episode, the other cabbies realized that Jim was right and Good did indeed feel good.
- Played with, but ultimately averted in The Flash (2014). Eobard Thawne, as Harrison Wells, admits that he has come to enjoy helping the Flash save the day, but it doesn't prevent him from going ahead with his plans.
- In Seinfeld, Jerry puts a spin on this:
Jerry: That’s the true spirit of Christmas; people being helped by people other than me.
- This is a major theme in Pink Floyd's music, especially The Dark Side of the Moon, Animals, and The Wall, all of which describe what happens when the trope doesn't come into play. "Pigs on the Wing (Part 2)" flat-out says it:
You know that I care what happens to youAnd I know that you care for me tooNow I don't feel alone or the weight of the stoneNow that I've found somewhere safe to bury my bone'Cause any fool knows, a dog needs a homeA shelter from pigs on the wing.
- Avenue Q has an entire song about this. (The Money Song). Somewhat subverted in that the reason why the characters are doing good deeds is to get things for themselves. Princeton wants to start a Monster School (which he thinks is a stupid idea) so Kate will be so happy that she'll take him back; Nicky wants to find Rod a boyfriend so he'll let him live with him again. As the chorus goes, "When you help others/You can't help helping yourself/Every time you do good deeds/You're also serving your own needs/When you help others/You're really helping yourself."
- Parodied in one Sunday strip of Dilbert. Dilbert offhandedly mentions that he donated a few hundred dollars to charity. Dogbert gets fired up and mocks Dilbert's supposed altruism, claiming that he only did it to make himself feel better. Dilbert agrees, saying he feels pretty good. Dilbert then asks how much Dogbert donated, and Dogbert admits he donated a thousand dollars, which is why he's so torqued.
- Subverted in Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin is about to hit Susie with a snowball, and Hobbes simply tells him that some philosophers say that true happiness comes from a life of virtue. Calvin tosses the snowball aside and decides to try it out. He then spends the rest of the day cleaning his room, doing his homework, making a card for Mom, shoveling the walk for Dad, setting the dinner table and taking out the trash. He ultimately decides he's not satisfied, and goes out and hits Susie with a snowball anyway, and walks away with a big grin on his face declaring that one day, he'll write his own philosophy book.
Hobbes: Virtue needs some cheaper thrills.
- Slo Feng originally just fought for fame but eventually learned the value of being a hero in Kaiju Big Battel.
- The Bible discusses this quite often. Obedience to God and his commandments will result in a believer choosing to do charitable acts not because it's what they've been commanded to do, but because it's what they want to do. There will likely be no earthly reward for such behavior, but the believer will find joy and contentment in helping others and knowing their work has not gone unnoticed by God. And it will end in eternal happiness with God and all His saints.
- Still, is the primary feeling of doing "good" satisfaction without Him? It's the demonic poison of pride. But He does give you the satisfaction of a happy conscience — it's just you shouldn't stop at that, because, as many saints state, the dearest deeds to the Lord are when you are lazy or not willing to do them, and still persist.
- Occurs in Warhammer of all places. A particularly detested Elector Count was challenged to a duel by a wandering Champion of Chaos. The Count was defeated, to which the womenfolk started cheering wildly. Feeling obscurely pleased, the Champion left the town unscathed.
- The big point of Dead Inside. The game was designed to, in the creator's words, invert the "kill people and take their stuff" behavior of other RPGs to "heal people and give them stuff." The feeling of gaining a new soul point is like a rush of warmth and energy, one that can make a person dizzy and excited from the experience. Good literally feels good.
- The Dungeons & Dragons Splat book The Book of Exalted Deeds includes an Exalted Spell (as in, a spell only usable by Exalted characters, the purest followers of Good) called Vision of Heaven, which shows someone a brief glance of Mount Celestia, the afterlife of virtuous soul. If shown to an evil person on a regular basis (along with other forms of therapy) these visions can aid in attempts to redeem the character (there's a whole chapter dedicated to this in the book). The idea is, basically, to show him what sinners ultimately are denied; it can work wonders.
- In The Lion in Winter by James Goldman, King Henry II talks about the frequent wars between England and France during the Middle Ages:
"Since Louis died, while Philip grew, I've had no France to fight. And in that time, I've discovered how good it is to write a law, or make a tax more fair, or sit in judgment to decide which peasant gets a cow. There is, I tell you, nothing more important in this world. And now the French boy's old enough, and I am sick of war."
- Trauma Center, you can't go wrong when a game lets you play as a surgeon!
- Rather interestingly done in Metal Gear Solid, after beating Psycho Mantis - during his Final Speech he reveals a secret passage (and apparently implanted the locations of claymores in the next area in Meryl's head), and quietly admits it "feels nice to help someone else for once" before dying.
- In Baldur's Gate II: Throne Of Bhaal, you can get your evil brother and former Big Bad Sarevok to join your team. While he's utterly evil, you may, through proper dialogue choices and much showing of genuine respect and decency, convert him to the cause of good for real. After which he does admit that indeed, Good Feels Good.
- Knights of the Old Republic allows a Light Side player several opportunities to reform Dark Jedi he encounters back to the Light Side via a healthy mixture of kind words and some gentle slaps with his lightsaber. This earns you allies as well as a chance to give a huge Take That! to all the Sith gibberish of a philosophy. Arguably the best instance of the trope is when you and one particularly asshole Sith-wannabe are both captured by an insane old Sith and are subjected to a torture/quiz in "Better you than me" style (you answer wrong - you suffer, you answer right - HE suffers). If you are persistent enough in wrong answers, he is eventually released and is free to go, essentially leaving you to your doom. In a Crowning Moment of Awesome he instead uses Force to release and revitalize you, and together you proceed to slash the shit out of the old crook. BUT WAIT, It gets better! Although you cannot talk the Big Bad out of the fight, still after you defeat him, he repents. Kind of.
- This certainly is the basis of Super Robot Wars Advance. Your character is sent as a spy from an evil organization, melding with the good guys, thus having to act good, in Lamia's case, or just plain forgot the evil part and got swept up with doing good, in Axel's case. When it comes to betraying the good guys just as planned... Good feels better than Evil, so they end up having their official Heel–Face Turn.
- Spike notes this when you destroy the machine that covers Flower Fields with clouds.
- In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, poor Vivian was clearly in a situation where Being Evil Sucks. As one of the Shadow Sirens, her sisters treated her like garbage, and always dumped the blame for their mistakes on her. Then, as fate would have it, she met Mario, and because he couldn't tell her his name due to Doopliss' spell, the two formed a brief partnership, and for the first time in her life, someone was treating her decently. When she did find out who he was, the choice was between staying with someone who was treating her nicely or going back to two rotten sisters who were treating her like dirt. What other choice could she make?
- In Jade Empire, you can encounter a mummified noble who is destined to be unable to return to the wheel of life due to the depravity he was known for in life. If you convince him to donate his liver to save a dying little girl, his spirit appears once she is saved and tells you that he has learned that Good Feels Good and that because he has learned this lesson, his spirit will be allowed to pass on (once the problem that has trapped all ghosts in the mortal realm is solved, that is).
- Dragon Age: Origins:
- While Zevran never really gets out of the "assassin" mindset unless he is romanced, he will (at a high enough approval rating) admit that helping the Grey Warden to stop the Blight and save Ferelden is the best thing he has ever done with his life.
- While preparing to defend Redcliffe from a Zombie Apocalypse, it's possible to convince the greedy and selfish bartender Lloyd to join the fight. If he survives (which he might not considering he has no armor and only wields a dagger), he mentions that it felt good to help and will offer you a magic ring in thanks for sending him out since his fellow villagers respect him now.
- Mass Effect is well-known for encouraging this in players.
- In the second one, you get emails from people you help, including people you helped back in the first game. Even a serial killer you inadvertently helped escape sends a heart-felt "thank you".
- There's the Paragon/Renegade scars in Mass Effect 2. If you consistently make Paragon decisions, your facial scars will slowly fade. If you make Renegade decisions, they will slowly get worse.
- Some characters in the Mass Effect universe go through this - Jack, if you romance her as a Paragon, and even Zaeed starts to realize that there is more to life than killing people for money.
- Throughout Mass Effect 3 you will hear about various Crowning Moments of Awesome (Mostly last stands) by people you met over the course of the series. Most of them are people you saved in Paragon actions. The feeling that you created heroes with your own heroism is a mighty one.
- In the Demon Path of Soul Nomad & the World Eaters, Raksha performs a full Heel–Face Turn since he likes the attention of being a hero.
- If you earned Good Karma by the first Train Mission in inFAMOUS, the people who initially blamed Cole for the blast and referred to him as a terrorist cheer for saving all the people. Cole calls them hypocrites, but admits that that the good he did made him feel good.
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword features Gratitude Crystals, which are generated from the gratitude people feel when you help them. Each time you get some, the text box lets you know that "helping people feels good!"
- In Star Trek Online, Captain Kagran of the Klingon Defense Force is your usual honor-bound, glory-seeking Klingon and his General Failure actions have gotten many people killed in the Iconian War. However, when time travel dumps him two weeks before the Iconians are seemingly wiped out and he comes to learn that they weren't that bad at all, he has a massive change of heart and seeks to protect them. When you complete the mission, he tells the Player Character that the blood and violence way is not the answer and he wants to seek change for his people.
- In Dominic Deegan, after Jacob saves Luna from a possible Fate Worse Than Death, he realizes that he has been wrong about... basically everything and decides that he should remake himself and his life.
- In Misfile, Ash gets this feeling during the race where he was forced to win a race for every racer from his town.
- Belkar in The Order of the Stick realized that "I can do exactly what I always do-murder people horribly-but because I killed the people everybody else wanted me to kill, I get presents instead of prison time." The group is slightly worried about this.
- In Sinfest,
- The angels rhaposodize about it -- right next to Satan's booth.
Satan: Could you do that someplace else?Angels: Virtuuuuuue!
- The effect of the power drink Grace.
- Fuschia doesn't want to appease Satan because she wants this trope and to feel better about herself.
- When Lil' E looks longingly at the angels and wonders what it feels like to be a force for good, Tangerine assures him that it's great.
- The angels rhaposodize about it -- right next to Satan's booth.
- In The Salvation War a demon herald Memnon, after his defection to humans, contemplates on how nice it feels to have superiors who care about him, appreciate his abilities and praise him for his achievements instead of constant cavils, threats and general neglect he received from his masters in Hell.
- Similarly, "Drippy" in the later books feels the same way— the camaraderie between him and his squadmates, especially once he realizes they've accepted him as one of their own, makes him feel better than anything he had back in hell.
- Dr. Drakken and Shego from Kim Possible really enjoyed being good during their Heel–Face Turn episodes. Shego even went so far as to almost confess her friendship with Kim.
- Emma Frost undergoes this in Wolverine and the X-Men.
- Discussed Trope in the He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special, when Skeletor saves the lives of two children from Earth:
He-Man: He saved you?
Skeletor: Yes — I guess I did! I wish I knew why!
He-Man: Well, I think you're starting to feel the Christmas spirit, Skeletor. It makes you feel... good!
Skeletor: I don't want to feel good! I like to feel evil!
- Similar to Skeletor is Mr. Burns in The Simpsons:
Smithers: It feels good to be helping people, doesn't it, sir?
Mr Burns: No. It feels weird.
- In one episode of The Snorks a two headed monster (one head was good, the other bad) was the antagonist. Then one of the cast nearly got trapped in a dangerous situation, and the two-headed monster saved her, though the bad head didn't seem to realize this. After receiving gratitude from everybody else the bad head realized that it liked the way helping other people made it feel and stopped being bad.
- This may be the reason why, in Transformers Generation One, Autobot recruits tended to outnumber those for Decepticons. Watch the old commercials if you want proof. One example is a commercial that introduced six new Autobots(Smoescreen, Tracks, Hoist, Inferno, Red Alert, and Grapple) only introduced two Decepticons (Durge and Thrust.)
- Samurai Jack; As shown in "Jack Tales", children in Aku's dystopia once believed Evil is Cool, and would depict him in their cosplay-style games as one would a hero. Then stories of Jack's heroics became more common, and children who once loved depicting Aku were jealous of whoever played Jack in these games, as he was no longer depicted as the good-guy. Playing Jack was much cooler.
- Jackie Chan Adventures: After his Heel–Face Turn, it didn't take Tohru long to decide he liked helping people a lot more than being a Dark Hand thug. (One reason he did so initially was - aside from almost getting killed when Valmont told him to fight Shendu - was because Section 13 "serves donuts every Thursday". All jokes aside, however, he really told Valmont off when the criminal came to the heroes for help, telling him that Uncle was a far better boss than he ever was.)
- Gargoyles has this moral in "High Noon."
- In "Walkabout", former Pack member Dingo admits that he really enjoyed playing the role of a hero back when the Pack were actors. The events of the episode convince him to try being a real one.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
- Discord figures this out once he's released by Princess Celestia and the main characters and is accepted by Fluttershy as one of her friends.
- This is the core of Pinkie Pie's character. Her Smile song exemplifies her ethos quite well.
- It would be easier to make a list of MLP villains that don't come to eventually realize that using their powers/talents to do something useful for others is more fulfilling, if for no other reason than powerful and pissed-off magic users aren't out for your hide.
- Whenever the title character of Wander over Yonder helps somebody, it gives him a feeling that starts down in his left toe, rises up through his guttyworks, makes his heart all warm and toasty, floats up past the dangly thing in his mouth -err, uvula- and ends up at the top of his head!
- On Goldie & Bear, this is the reason why the Big Bad Wolf's ("Big Bad") brother, Phil, who used to be even worse than Big Bad, became good. He was planning to fill up the wishing well with sand, but ended up rescuing a family of mice that was trapped in the well and found to his surprise that it felt good. So he just kept being good.
- Simple question: Who tends to get more sympathy and support from the fans in most works of fiction, the heroes or the villains? Well, there you go.
- From a logical perspective, empathy is a large reason (though far from the only one) for the existence of this. Empathizing with the people you help allows you to imagine the relief, appreciation, comfort, etc. of the people that you help when they receive it. When empathy becomes an internalized mindset and behavior, helping people (or just doing good deeds) becomes so natural and desired that one won't even consciously think about why one does it, unless one has to explain it to others.
- Ashoka, an ancient emperor of much of India, was originally a conqueror, waging wars that killed hundreds upon thousands. That was until all the dust settled, and he realized he felt really, really, bad. He then converted to Buddhism, became a vegetarian, and spent the rest of his life striving to improve the lives of his subjects and spreading Buddhist teachings.
- Might just be Truth in Television, if some studies about altruism are any example.
- If this were not Truth in Television, pretty much every charitable institution that either A) relies on volunteers or B) relies on donations would cease to be.
- Would be subverted in some cases, in that self-righteousness (ranting, raving, etc) is also a natural high, but this is less about altruism and more about doing things to make yourself feel better.
- This trope is likely the reason for the phrase Random Acts of Kindness.
- Immanuel Kant posited that an act of pure utilitarianism (the greatest good for the greatest number of people) should not depend on any kind of reward — you should do good because good is good. If you derive any gain from your act of kindness — monetary gain, preferential treatment, basic gratitude or even a feeling of satisfaction, then you are acting on gain, not pure goodness. Consider how many people would actually want to adhere to such exacting standards.
- This trope is likely the motivation behind the creation of open-source software. The authors don't expect to get anything for their efforts, but other people (who may not have their coding skills) find their software useful. Knowing your software has helped someone out must make you feel good.
- This seems to the ultimate point of this Cracked article by David Wong. Trying to increase your own happiness by seeking power in all its forms will only make you miserable. Real happiness can be obtained, paradoxically enough, simply by helping others while not thinking too much about our own happiness.
- Discussed a lot by Doug Walker, who realizes that some consider him a Extreme Doormat for the way he acts, but doesn't care because he just really likes being nice.
- This trope is also part of the reason TV Tropes itself, The Other Wiki and all other collaborative online resources work — people feel good about contributing and knowing other people are reading and appreciating their work.