If you have to look along the shaft of an arrow from the wrong end, if a man has you entirely at his mercy, then hope like hell that man is an evil man. Because the evil like power, power over people, and they want to see you in fear. They want you to know you're going to die. So they'll talk.They'll gloat. They'll watch you squirm. They'll put off the moment of murder like another man will put off a good cigar. So hope like hell your captor is an evil man. A good man will kill you with hardly a word.
Do not mistake kindness for weakness.
The character isn't an Anti-Hero, Vigilante Man or even portrayed as Good Is Not Nice. He's a genuinely friendly, sociable, caring person, always looking out for his friends and family and trying to do the right thing. Such a character would have to be compassionate to his enemies, right?
Actually, no. Unlike the Good Is Not Nice character, someone who falls under this trope actually is a nice guy or girl. It's just that this niceness doesn't extend to giving free passes to the truly vile and horrific among their enemies. S/he is the reason why the villain should Beware the Nice Ones, especially since s/he isn't gonna wait to be angered or snap before the inevitable beatdown/killing begins. The Good Is Not Soft character will find them, will stop them and (if they're lucky) will kill them before they can hit that Berserk Button. Then they'll (usually) go home to enjoy dinner and settle in for a good night's sleep.
Maybe The Hero knows that the criminal will break out of the Cardboard Prison. Maybe the villain has placed the Ideal Hero in a kill or be killed situation and said hero kills for the greater good, taking on the moral consequences of their actions. Or it may simply be the Well-Intentioned Extremist needing to Talk to the Fist before they cross the Moral Event Horizon.
This trope has the potential to slide into or be interpreted asPay Evil unto Evil, if the hero's method of ending the villain's threat is excessively cruel. Different viewers will have different ideas about what qualifies as being excessively cruel to a villain. Even so, this trope will most likely lead to him being just as bad as the villain if taken too far.
This isn't an unusual trait of the Technical Pacifist. Common in Good Is Not Dumb works. If the character is a Jerkass rather than a Nice Guy, then they fall under Good Is Not Nice. Lawful Good characters fit this trope perfectly, especially if their duty is to reward good and punish evil. See also Anti-Hero and Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism. Compare Affably Evil where a villain instead of a hero has these personality traits. May result in the villain calling out a Not So Different speech when lampshaded.
The eponymous character of Lyrical Nanoha is one of the nicest people around and always tries to communicate with her enemies first. That does not mean she won't blast her opponents hard, if necessary, which may include students, friends or daughters. The fandom tends to refer to this behaviour as a kind of "Listen or be shot. Fail to listen, be shot again." mentality.
Dr. Kenzo Tenma from Monster is an excellent example. While a genius neurosurgeon, he's a humble, principled and compassionate doctor, loved by his patients. His only obvious flaw is his habit of manhandling those who offend his sense of justice. But when it becomes clear that he must go on a manhunt in order to save innocents from the monster he unwittingly unleashed on the world, he soon takes a level in Badass and becomes a fearsome vigilante.
YuYu Hakusho: Poltergeist Report is a spinoff movie that basically turns all the protagonists into hot-blooded shonen versions of this. Even the Jerkass or more annoying characters like Genkai, Hiei, and Keiko have shades of it or at least take a level in kindness.
Future Trunks from Dragon Ball Z is a Nice Guy that is very polite, and values life having come from a Bad Future where all the Z-Fighters have died. However, he's a Combat Pragmatist who is very serious in battle aiming to kill his opponents and even willing to fight his own allies if the situation calls for it. Such as when his father Vegeta wanted to aid Semi-Perfect Cell to become perfect. Trunks warns Vegeta that he will blast him to stop Cell but Vegeta thinks Trunks is too soft to shoot at his own father. Trunks proves Vegeta WRONG.
Luffy from One Piece. He's generally an oblivious person with a good heart, but has shown quite capable of taking on anyone, even his friends, if he feels they've done wrong.
In the first chapter, when Shanks and his crew approach Higuma and his mountain bandits, who have beaten Luffy up and are planning on killing him, one of them points a gun at Shanks' head, only for him to be unfazed and ask if the bandit would risk his life. Lucky Roux then quickly appears near the bandit and kills him with a headshot. The other bandits are shocked and outraged, but Ben Beckman says they're not dealing with saints and Shanks says that he can ignore being insulted, spat on and having drinks poured on his head, but he will not stand for anyone threatening his friends.
This is the usual attitude the followers of Moral Justice in the Marines show, notable examples being Smoker and Kuzan.
Celty Sturluson is — underneath her fearsome reputation as the Headless Rider of Ikebukuro — easily the most sympathetic and benevolent figure in Durarara!!. Nonetheless, her fearsomeness is fully justified whenever she's dealing with lowly street thugs.
Shunsui Kyouraku of Bleach is easily the friendliest and most laidback of the captains. Despite that, he will do his job, even the more violent parts, when it comes down to it. In his very first arc, after giving Chad an opportunity to run away from the fight, he cuts him down. He killed Starrk, who was actually a Reluctant Anti-Villain. And he pushes back against the Central 46 when he thinks they're hindering the Gotei's military readiness.
Touma Kamijou of A Certain Magical Index. He's compassionate to just about everyone, and many scenes show him helping out complete strangers who he just happened to pass by. He's also fairly upbeat despite his perpetual bad luck. However, threaten or harm someone on his watch, and he will punch your lights out. Even if you are a Physical God and World War 3 stands in his way.
The main characters of Everyday is Sunday are just two normal, well-meaning people who support each other when in trouble, but they won't hesitate to catch or get back at criminals who've done wrong.
Mari of Rebuild of Evangelion comes across as a rather nice and caring individual, especially in this setting, but she's also a Blood Knight that would put Asuka and Rei to shame.
Hanji from Attack on Titan is generally a sweet, friendly and funny person. But any senior officer of the Survey Corps is not someone to trifle with as the Female Titan found out and Pastor Nick learned the hard way.
The main crew of Snow White And Seven Dwarfs are either made up of those falling on the Anti-Hero end of the spectrum or characters who are this. They're great and honestly nice people, and Takeru in particular averts What Measure Is a Mook?, but that still doesn't mean that he won't blow you up if you attack his friends.
The titular Rurouni Kenshin is a Nice Guy and is known to go out of his way to help others. But if you manage to tick him off by harming innocents or his friends, you will be in a world of pain.
Spider-Man is an example in that he does want to help, being the Trope Namer for Comes Great Responsibility. That responsibility does not extend to his fighting style, which is fairly brutal. Some storylines revolve around him becoming more vicious, usually after donning the black suit.
Though its often mentioned that when dealing with people like Kingpin or Doctor Octopus or just everyday criminals, he has to decrease his strength considerably as he could kill someone with little effort.
Then came the day that he explained to Kingpin that his web-shooters in fact do have lethal applications, and he's been using them as non-lethal tools for his entire career entirely conscious of the fact. There is a remarkable difference between a faceful of webbing and a lungful or mouthful of webbing.
Some members of the X-Men fall into this category, those who are firmly idealistic or genuinely want to do good also use their mutant powers to shoot Eye Beams or Mind Rape.
Death from The Sandman is the best person you want to be with at a time of, well, death. A really sweet, caring person, she's also The Grim Reaper and when the need arises she can be really scary.
Nightwing is this trope straight up. He acquired his attitude from Superman, but he learned to deal with criminals from Batman.
Fantastic Four Ben Grimm "The Thing" both figuratively and literally, he is one of the 4's most popular member, and is good with kids. But if anyone dares to harm his family and friends he'll pummel them to paste.
Doctor Strange is noble and a good judge of character, which means he will often spare villains whose intentions aren't wholly evil, particularly when they merely got in over their heads. But for the irredeemable? He won't offer them the chance to try again. The only ones he spares are the ones he can't permanently De-power or kill.
Wonder Woman has always been an icon of kindness and nobility, preferring peace and diplomacy to war and aggression. Yet, of all of the members of the Justice League of America, she alone has never hesitated to use lethal force when it was needed, reminding everyone the Amazons are, at heart, still a Proud Warrior Race.
Miyamoto Usagi from Usagi Yojimbo is very nice and polite, and will try to talk his way out of bad situations before they turn violent. Some take this as a sign of weakness, but he is a samurai, as such he is a master swordsman and fully entitled to kill anyone who pisses him off, and he'll do it too.
Most of the protagonists in Fables have adopted this view, given the cynical nature of the setting and their desperate circumstances. While none of them are really cruel, there's very little any of them would not do for the safety and survival of their loved ones.
Nova: Richard Rider is one of the most idealistic heroes Marvel has, and a very firm believer of Thou Shalt Not Kill, for example when dealing with a violent assassin who is trying to catch him and re-assimilate him, he refuses to kill her, instead just knocking her out. However, he is not above killing when there is literally no other option, as Annihilus learned the hard way.
Robocop follows three directives: serve the public trust, protect the innocent, uphold the law. Nothing is said about not coldly blowing away killers, or not brutalizing a suspect before bringing them in.
Dirty Harry has no qualms about working outside the law or even torturing suspects, but he does try and lead a normal life.
Steve Rogers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is shown to be one of the nicest, sweetest people you would meet. However, when fighting HYDRA and the invading Chitauri he is merciless, including throwing HYDRA soldiers off airborne aircraft and hacking off Chitauri arms.
In addition to the examples of this trope taken from the novels, the film incarnation of Harry Potter is slightly more ruthless than his book counterpart - most clearly demonstrated from the exchange he shares with Umbridge in Order of the Phoenix before the latter is dragged off to an unseen fate by a herd of centaurs.
Bilbo Baggins is generally a friendly and polite fellow who prefers to use his wits to get out of a situation rather than use a sword. But when Thorin is about to be decapitated by an orc leader, Bilbo flings himself at said orc and kills him.
Frodo Baggins tames Gollum by pointing his sword at his throat, threatening to cut it if he does not release Sam.
Gandalf contemptuously knocks out Denethor with his staff when the latter starts raving for his troops to abandon their posts and flee.
A more subtle example: Aragorn, probably the most noble human character, sees Boromir pick up the Ring. He orders him to give it back to Frodo—with one hand on his sword, prepared to attack Boromir if the Ring's power takes control of him. Which happens near the end of the movie, when Aragorn isn't around.Elrond, on the other hand, is shown to have not been capable of friendly fire when the Ring hypnotized Isildur during the previous battle with Sauron.
Elves and Dwarves in general are mostly peaceful and noble, but against their mortal enemies, the Orcs, they are utterly ruthless and unforgiving.
Most of the Enterprise crew in the reboot Star Trekfranchise are friendly and decent people who would go out of their way to help others but they can and will break protocol, especially if it means protecting one of their own. And you're screwed if you piss them off.
After his offer to help Nero and his crew (who had kill hundreds of Starfleet cadets and officers, tortured Pike and destroyed Vulcan) was rejected, Kirk wasted no time ordering to fire on the Narada to make sure they don't survive.
Not to mention Spock being quite willing to kill every crew member on that ship to save Earth.
In the sequel, Spock loses it when Kirk died and proceeds to beat the living crap out of John Harrison/Khan, including brutally breaking their arm.
Sulu convincingly threatened Harrison to stand down with the experimental torpedoes. Although Harrison knew something about those torpedoes that Sulu didn't...
In Mirror, Mirror, the sweet Snow White convinces the Evil Queen to accept defeat by eating the poisoned apple that was meant for Snow, essentially committing suicide.
The titular character in the film adaptation of Madeline is this. She's quite friendly, if mostly a Deadpan Snarker, towards her classmates, and happens to smile at the good, and frown at the bad. However, she soon develops a hatred towards her new neighbor, Pepito, and even attacks him at one point. She's not afraid to confront Lord Covington over his plans to sell the "Old House in Paris", and also goes to confront the Big Bad after seeing him kidnap Pepito. And don't forget about her famous line to the tiger at the zoo.
Just about every Jackie Chan character fits this trope.
Dalton from Road House, who tells his fellow bouncers to always "Be nice, until it's time to not be nice."
In Godzilla (2014), while Godzilla does avoid killing humans on most occasions, he isn't against risking lives by damaging property if it means it will help him take down his enemies. For instance, his first appearance in Hawaii causes a tsunami that kills hundreds.
Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings. Sam begins to despair of Frodo's constant mercy toward the (in Sam's eyes) explicitly untrustworthy Gollum — until Frodo explicitly threatens to kill Gollum if he betrays them.
Sam looked at his master with approval, but also with surprise: there was a look on his face and a tone in his voice that he had not known before. It had always been a notion of his that the kindness of dear Mr. Frodo was of such a high degree that it must imply a fair measure of blindness.
The Culture is a hedonistic post-scarcity society whose citizens mostly live to entertain, educate and enlighten themselves and their peers and spread their beneficial lifestyle to others, but at the edge of their ethics are apocalyptically powerful starships and agents who will do any kind of dirty business to protect and expand the Culture's interests, and anyone who tries to harm them learns a fatally hard lesson in why it was a bad idea.
"You might call them soft, because they're very reluctant to kill, and they might agree with you, but they're soft the way the ocean is soft, and, well; ask any sea captain how harmless and puny the ocean can be."
Every few books it's mentioned that the key piece of advice among other societies regarding hostility toward the Culture is simply "Don't Fuck With The Culture." Inevitably this is ignored to personally horrific results.
The page quote above comes from the Discworld novel Men at Arms. Later in the novel (and in other Discworld novels featuring the City Watch), recurring character Carrot Ironfoundersson proves that he fits the trope very well indeed.
The Knights of the Cross of The Dresden Files are modern-day paladins who will do their best to persuade the Denarians, Demonic Possession collaborators, and victims to escape the thrall. If they do surrender, even if the Knights know the person is insincere, they cannot harm him anymore. If they refuse, though, the Knights have absolutely no compunction against killing them.
Harry to Denarian who just "surrendered": People like you always mistake compassion for weakness. Michael and Sanya aren't weak. Fortunately for you, they are good men. Unfortunately for you, I'm not''.
Karrin Murphy. She tries to be a By-the-Book Cop, with varying degrees of success, has a strong sense of Justice. If someone or something threatens her friends, her family, or the citizens of Chicago, she does not care if the one doing the threatening is a human, wizard, troll, faerie, or fallen angel, she will utterly wreck their shit.
From the last novel; innocent housewife Molly Weasley's cry of "NOT MYDAUGHTER,YOUBITCH!" right before she kills the powerful, insane sociopath threatening said daughter is an excellent example.
Hermione Granger as well. She's a generally nice and helpful girl, but she will not scruple to blackmail an amoral reporter, lure a sadistic teacher into a trap or disfigure (slightly) a traitorous teenage tattle-tale. She might also be quite vicious when scorned.
The desperate circumstances in Deathly Hallows drive several of the heroic characters to, among other things, resort to using the "Unforgivable" Imperius and Cruciatus Curses.
Neville Longbottom. He embodies the best traits of his house, is kind to everyone who will let him be, helps whenever he can, and doesn't seem to have the heart to hold a grudge. During the Battle of Hogwarts, he leads a group of students in throwing Mandrakes at the Death Eaters. Mandrakes, for the record, are plants with a massiveInstant Death Radius. That's right, tick Neville off and he won't play around or try to punish you, he'll bring out a magic nuke and kill you dead.
After Kelson's forces defeat Sicard MacArdry's Mearan rebels, Kelson denies Sicard's request for single combat, orders his archers to surround Sicard and his men, and calls for a bow:
"But you—you can't just cut me down like a dog," Sicard said weakly. "Indeed?" Kelson said, calmly laying an arrow across the bowstring. "Sicard, I can and shall cut you down precisely like a dog, if I must. For, like a rabid dog, you have ravaged my lands and slain my people. Now, will you and your men surrender, or must I do what I would rather not?"
Kelson goes on to tell Sicard that his surviving son is dead, and when Sicard still refuses to surrender, Kelson puts an arrow through Sicard's eye.
After Kelson Truth-Reads Loris and Gorony, he orders his guards not to converse with them or answer any of their questions, saying "I want them to sweat a little, wondering what I have in store for them." A week later in the great hall at Laas, Archbishop Cardiel and Bishop McLain swiftly pronounce Loris and Gorony guilty of the charges against them and surrender them to secular judgement. Kelson immediately orders them hanged right there in the hall.
In King Kelson's Bride:
Mátyás learns of his brothers' plan to kill Liam at his killijálay and comes up with his own plan: he has one of the four Moving Wards (magical guardians for the ceremony) murdered, making it look like a jealous husband was responsible, so Kelson can take his place.
Liam Mind Rips Mahael after the coup d'etat fails, then orders his guards to impale him him and the corpse of a dead co-conspirator outside the family burial ground ("that his ancestors may witness his shame"), with the surviving Teymuraz to bear witness in person. Liam specifies that this be done before the ceremony is over and later commands the bodies be left in place the full three days and nights the law requires.
The team members of Rainbow Six are pretty decent people. It's noted that all of them are family men (though the video games with the expanded roster subverts this,) get along well with each other, are Reluctant Warriors and love a non violent solution if one presents itself. They are also the Foreign Legion, an international special forces Badass Crew who slaughter terrorists when needed, the Friendly Sniper team plan and execute a gut shot on one who murdered a sick girl, John and Ding torture, and get angry enough to threaten not to help the Swiss next time there's an incident when they won't help after the team was threatened.
This can be considered the hat of the "ideal" Terran in Perry Rhodan, as usually exemplified by the eponymous protagonist, his more personal friends, and most anybody under his command. Especially earlier in the series when morality is a bit more black-and-white yet, humans as a species are traditionally almost always willing to get along peacefully or even be friends with just about anybody else — but they're also quite aware that they live in a universe where not everybody exactly likes them and so remain ready and willing to deal as decisively as necessary with obvious enemies as well. The Solar Empire didn't have one of the most respected war fleets (and some of the biggest battleships) in the entire galaxy for no reason and wasn't shy about using it in defense of itself and its allies either.
Patroclus in The Iliad is this — he's definitely the wiser one of his friendship with Achilles, practical, compassionate enough to comfort Briseis, faithful, skilled at healing, and (at least compared to other warriors) seems to be remarkably well-balanced. He also has plenty of wrath of his own, and is brutally efficient in battle, even vaunting over the occasional fallen enemy. (Most modern readers are likely to see Hector as the most definite good guy in the work, along with maybe Priam, so he might qualify as well.)
In Elmore Leonard's Pronto, Italian-born mafioso Tommy Bucks considers Americans to be soft and prides himself on being a hard man who can kill someone in cold blood without a second thought. US Marshal Raylan Givens is an honest American police officer and thus Tommy assumes that Raylan is ultimately soft. He holds unto this belief until the very end when he finally realizes that Raylan is quite willing and capable of just shooting Tommy dead in the middle of a crowded restaurant.
In Barrayar Cordelia ends up leading a small team of people into the capital to save Miles' uterine replacator. This ends up going not quite to plan, and she winds up confronting Vidal Vordarian in his rooms. She tells him to stop the war. He declines... so she has him decapitated, carries his head away in a bag, and burns the Imperial residence down behind her. She explains the expedition to her husband and his would-be allies as "shopping" and offers to show them what she bought. They become very cooperative.
It should be noted that Cordelia had been thought by the natives to be incapable of such a thing ( the Big Bad's final words are an attempt to say "you can't do this," trunctated in midsentence to "you can't." ), due to her background as being an immigrant from an extremely logical and civilized culture. When she learns that she has earned the respect of Barrayar's ruling elite, she is enraged that her actions should be considered more heroic than the less violent but considerably more difficult, painful, and tortuous ordeals that two other women had gone through. Her husband Aral also gets points for repeatedly killing people without hesitation in order to accomplish such goals as ending the sexual and physical abuses of a P.O.W. camp. His virtues are recognized by Emperor Ezar when making Aral the Regent, "you are the one man who I know, by the far flung ashes of Mad Emperor Yuri, who does not want to be Emperor."
A common trend throughout the Honor Harrington series. This becomes especially pronounced as the Star Empire of Manticore finds itself in conflict with the Solarian League. The League's the biggest baddest star nation around, and has been for centuries. However, their hardware is far behind Manticore and its contemporaries due to active warfare in that area for the past couple decades. The end result is that Manticore has been able to Curb Stomp Solarian forces even when horrifically outnumbered (which is what the League is best at). Nearly every engagement with Solly forces has thus followed a pattern:
When Manticorans and Solarians come into conflict, the Manticorans order the Solarian units to surrender. Solarian officers refuse with varying degrees of arrogance, prompting the Manticorans to recap their past total victories against Solarian forces, and (knowing how easily they can just destroy their enemies) do everything possible to make them surrender. Should the Solarian commander prove Too Dumb to Live, however, the Manticorans don't hesitate to blow the Sollies out of space. After Manticore and Haven sign a military alliance, the Havenites, who are no strangers to this trope, get in on the action.
Much like the page quote, Sir Aivars Terekhov summarizes this trope simply and concisely when faced with a Solarian gendarme brigadier who tries to use hostages groundside to prevent him from landing. The following quote comes shortly before Terekhov obliterates the brigadier and her ground base with an orbital kinetic strike, compliments of the Royal Manticoran Navy.
Why do people like you always assume you're more ruthless than people like me?
True throughout The Leonard Regime. There are several characters who are entirely selfless, but regularly kill their enemies.
Dr. Tachyon from Wild Cards is a very good example of this trope. He is a genuinely good and compassionate person, fiercely loyal to his friends and generally very nice and caring. But was raised as a prince in an aristocratic alien culture with cutthroat politics, and if you happen to be his enemy, don't expect him to fight fair or show any mercy. Even cold-blooded murder is not averse to him if it is necessary and morally justifiable.
Peeta Mellark from Hunger Games is a kind, gentle young man whose signature hobbies are baking and painting. This does not mean he will not kill to protect himself or those he cares about.
Percy Jackson in Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a caring guy. However, he is perfectly capable of doing deeds that scare even Annabeth to protect his friends.
In the final Protector of the Small book, Keladry orders her men to kill every member of an enemy scouting party because they're in enemy territory, so they can't hold prisoners and absolutely can't let anyone escape to sound the alarm. She's not happy about it, but she does it.
In the same book, Neal bespells an abusive man so that any strike hurts him, not the victim. Neal is normally a wisecracking healer, but as he's just had to heal a bruised and underfed servant of the man's, he wants to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Lady Sabine in Provost's Dog. Friendly and pleasant to Tunstall, Goodwin, and Beka, but she casually suggests that Beka kill Yates Noll, a violent man who beats his sister and tries to hit Beka for making conversation at the Nolls' bake stall. When Beka reminds her that this would be slightly illegal, Sabine's not even slightly abashed.
Sabine: Oh, I forgot—I'm in Corus again. They care about things like that here."
Live Action TV
CSI: Miami: Horatio Caine genuinely cares about crime victims. He's not so pleasant with those who committed the crimes.
"You murdered thirteen people. You're a killer. You enjoy death. I hope you enjoy yours."
"I lied. I cheated. I bribed men to cover the crimes of other men. I am an accessory to murder. But the most damning thing of all... I think I can live with it. And if I had to do it all over again, I would."
The Federation as a whole, while fairly idealistic, is very capable of doing hard, even cruel, things when needed. Especially in Star Trek: The Original Series.
All the Kamen Rider series have protagonists who will not hesitate to pummel and Rider Kick the monsters of the week and their mooks to death. Special mention goes to Kamen Rider Amazon defeated his enemies not with fancy moves and cool weapons and kaboom endings to the fight, but by ripping the Monster of the Week apart with his bare claws and teeth and the serrated edges of his gloves. However, if you don't happen to be an evil monster, he's the nicest guy you'll ever meet. He's a Friend to All Children, Friend to All Living Things, and so forth. He once even saved a monster from being executed by his bosses for failing to defeat him! That monster became an ally for most of the rest of the series.
From at least the Sylvester McCoy version onward, the Doctor himself is this. He's sent some bad guys to rather harsh endings to protect the innocent, has put good people in the line of fire or done otherwise unkind things as part of various gambits, and has often had to make choices between bad and worse. These things heavily weigh on him, but if it's between the destruction of Pompeii and letting the Pyroviles take the whole world, it often falls to him to throw the switch.
While it has been a large part of the other Doctors in the series before and since, this trait has been deeply explored during the run of the David Tennant Doctor.
The Doctor: If I don't like your plan, it will end. Mr. Finch: Fascinating. Your people were peaceful to the point of indolence. You seem to be something new. Would you declare war on us, Doctor? The Doctor: I'm so old now. I used to have so much mercy. You get one warning. That was it.
One of the Doctors is explicitly described as this. The Ninth Doctor is a Good Is Not NiceJerkass who thinks he is better than everyone else. The Tenth Doctor is the complete opposite, fascinated by humanity and its foibles, genuinely caring and nice — and anyone who threatens them dies, no mercy, no second chances.
And then we have TheEleventh Doctor, who demonstrates a great deal of compassion and caring for his friends. But that doesn't stop him from trying to wipe out the Daleks, erasing The Weeping Angels from time, and tricking the Silents into ordering their own execution at the hands of mankind. The Eleventh Doctor practically Lampshaded this in the episode "A Good Man Goes to War."
Madame Kovarian: The anger of a good man is not a problem. Good men have too many rules. The Doctor: Good men don't need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many.
In the series four finale of Merlin, the sweet, gentle, friendly Merlin carefully and deliberately murders Arthur's Evil Uncle Agravaine in cold blood. Okay, Agravaine had just drawn a knife on him, but a) Merlin could have easily dealt with the knife without harming the man holding it, and b) Agravaine had just discovered Merlin's secret, and Colin Morgan's performance makes it very clear that Agravaine wasn't leaving that cave alive.
In the finale, Merlin single-handedly ends the Battle of Camlann by raining torrents of lighting down upon Morgana's army, forcing them into a full retreat despite outnumbering Camelot forces three-to-one.
In the first episode of series five, sweet, gentle, friendly Gwen swiftly sentences her servant to death for treason, though she later reveals she had no plans on actually killing the girl. It was merely a trap to lure her father to Camelot to obtain information about Morgana.
It happens again in the season finale. Only this time, she outgambits the accomplice and actually executes her.
Leroy Jethro Gibbs from NCIS. Thinking of threatening his family or his team? Bad idea. Gibbs was a Marine sniper. There is no mercy in a head shot from a mile away.
The Leverage team is all this, especially Nate and Eliot. If you've been royally screwed over by a Corrupt Corporate Executive, they will move heaven and earth for you. If, however, youare a Corrupt Corporate Executive ... Put best in the "Cross My Heart Job", where Nate calmly informs a man who kidnapped a woman's daughter to blackmail her into stealing a heart transplant from a dying 15-year-old how he will utterly destroy him if he ever tries anything like that again.
Nick in Grimm. Despite his more brutal and merciless ancestors, Nick himself is a fairly reasonable Grimm who follows within the law of what a good police officer would do, including having Wesen friends/allies. However, he begins to use his reputation as a Grimm to terrify several Wesen into giving him the information he needs and will shoot to kill to protect himself or someone else.
Faith of both shows has matured into this. A seriously nice girl, caring, and points out Even Evil Has Loved Ones. She's also up for maiming and killing human and demon alike, even her deadbeat father. In season nine after slicing off the arm of a gun toting gangster, then burning drug dealers alive she brings up the proper arrangements for their bereaved families. Even when she was introduced she proved to have what it takes: aside from being genuinely nice she would say a dumped Buffy is a good Buffy (because of how aggressive a fighter she was after Scott dumped her) before sabotaging Scott's future conquests on Buffy's behalf, then lending a kind ear to a pissed Xander before going behind Buffy's back to kill Angel, since for all Faith knew he was still capable of being the grand master villain of the series.
Buffy herself. If you're human and not cutting up dead bodies or killing children she's quite nice. If you are then she's all for prison, death, Prison Rape then death, basically having a soul makes such actions inexcusable.
When Angel is poisoned and Buffy learns that Slayer blood is the cure in Season 3 of Buffy, her rather scary initial plan is to force the psychotic Faith to him to feed on, dead or alive. When that doesn't work Buffy offers herself to feed on, which Angel absolutely refuses. So Buffy punches him in the face until the blows anger him enough to vamp out, then she makes him feed on her.
The Scooby Gang as a whole. They're all nice kids and Giles is a British Gentleman, but they've killed a lot of monsters.
Giles, very much so. Most extreme example? Smothering a wounded Ben to death rather than risk Glory coming back. Before doing the deed, Giles cryptically remarks, "[Buffy's] a hero, you see. She's not like us." He wanted to spare Buffy from doing it.
Wesley, from very early on in Angel and perhaps as early as his appearances on Buffy, shows he is willing to torture the bad guys to protect his friends. He's also the one who sends a whole bunch of optimistic villagers on a suicide mission because it's the most effective plan, keeps a girl in a closet for months while he's trawling the ocean for Angel, who tried to kill him, and shoots his father without hesitation to protect Fred. It turns out to be a robot but he didn't know that, and he still did it.
Angel. He actually is a nice guy most of the time, but he can switch to ruthless at the drop of a hat and he has a hundred years of doing extremely horrible things to people for giggles to draw on. It is also not a good idea to go after people he cares about.
Team Angel as a whole. Doyle is probably the softest member and he doesn't last very long.
Every member in Team One in Flashpoint are very likeable and friendly people off the field. Their first course of action is usually to talk with the hostage taker without any violence but they will not hesitate to pull the trigger on anyone threatening a hostage. And if someone threatens a team member...
John from Sherlock is one of the nicest people you could hope to meet and it's quite easy for people to take a liking to him, even if they've just met him. But he is willing to shoot you if you happen to piss him off or threaten someone he cares about.
On Justified this is a defining characteristic of US Marshal Raylan Givens and the other Kentucky Marshals. In the opening scene of the series vicious killer Tommy Bucks found out that when Raylan tells you to leave town in 24 hours, you do so or Raylan is more than willing to shoot it out with you in broad daylight. Two seasons later mobster Wynn Duffy found out that Raylan is more than willing to play Russian Roulette with him because Duffy would not answer questions about a cop's murder.
In the same vein Chief Deputy Marshall Art Mullen might seem like an old man with bad knees but if you really piss him off he will go "old school" on you with a phone book.
Deputy Marshal Tim Gutterson is a nice fellow who likes to joke around but in an instant he can turn into a Cold Sniper and put a hole in a hostage taker's head.
Deputy Marshal Rachel Brooks might have a chip on her shoulder about being a petite, black woman but when she is disrespected she will not hesitate to bring down men twice her size.
A better example might be Emma Swan, who while good is decidedly more pragmatic than her parents. In "Good Form", she, Regina, and Snow White are trying to convince a Lost Boy to help them. After playing nice fails, Regina mentions she could simply tear his heart and force him to help. Snow is horrified (it's wrong), but Emma doesn't just agree she holds Snow back so Regina can do it. She later makes it clear to Snow she will do whatever it takes to save Henry.
Laurel Lance in Arrow is generally kind to those around her and has made a career of helping those who need it most, but that doesn't mean she's going to let the bad guys get away with abusing people.
In The Originals, Elijah may be the kindest, fairest, and most honorable of his siblings, but mess with his family, and you might just end up with your heart literally ripped out of your chest.
Carter Grayson, the Red Ranger from Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue. He's a by the book fireman, determined to save people's lives, but he has shown to be one of the most agressive rangers in the franchise. In the first episode, he tried to run over the monster of the week with a geep and displayed a willingness to kill the Titanium Ranger durring his debut episode, before Ryan's Heel-Face Turn.
Religion and Mythology
In Norse Mythology, Thor is a Hot-BloodedBoisterous Bruiser who spends most of his time drinking, eating and killing giants. Thor is humanity's best line of defense against the giants, who would otherwise destroy the world of men, and the stories told about Thor indicate that he truly does care for humanity.
Though the argument could be said that this applies to almost all the Aesir. Yes they seem like a pantheon of berserker warrior types, but they are pretty honorable and if you interpret Ragnarok literally a lot of them sacrifice themselves to see evil devastated in the final battle for the fate of the universe. Thor is simply the most obvious example
Horus and Ra from ancient Egyptian religion. Horus is a vengeful warrior God who goes out of his away to avenge cosmic wrongs done against the universe. Ra routinely went to battle the evil serpent God Apep to stop the destruction of the world.
Any deity from the Hindu pantheon who represents the destroyer aspect. Most notably Durga who defeated a terrible demon, Kali who was known for her fury against evil beings, Shiva who is related to a number of incidents of unmitigated spiritual badassery, and Indra who famously slew the dragon-like Asura Vitra releasing all the waters of the world.
Hercules/Heracles of Greek lore. Yes he did a number of things as atonement for actions he committed under a supernaturally induced frenzy, but he genuinely fought for what was right.
Lugh of Celtic mythology. The king of the Tuatha De Danann earns a place here for vanquishing Balor and utterly devastating the rest of the Fomori Army.
Cuchulainn from Irish Celtic lore also falls under here. He is one of the most beloved Celtic heroes in mythology and a total badass to top it all off. He even managed to fight of an army tied to a standing stone while mortally wounded and died standing. According to some sources, a standing death was a true hero's death.
Marduk of Babylonian mythology who managed to slay the mad progenitor Goddess Tiamat, and used her body to create the world. He was also a deity of justice.
Tengri of Turko-Mongol religions falls under this. He was the God the sky and the storm and was directly responsible for punishing wrong doings on the earth.
From the Apache peoples of North America we have Fire Killer of Enemies and Child Born of Water who according to legend slew a number of terrible monsters that preyed on the human race.
Notably, God from the three Abrahamic Faiths. As noted throughout The Bible, He is compassionate to those in need, especially to those who turn to Him for council, aid and friendship. But He has no qualms whatsoever with punishing someone when they've done evil and are unrepentant of it. Jesus is the same way, though in His case, He directed it towards Satan, the corrupt merchants and moneylenders in the temple, and the manipulative Pharisees and Sadduccees.
Also from Abrahamic lore, the Cherubim. The Cherubim were not tiny, Cupid-like goodie two-shoes: they were God's soldiers. Their original appearance was very similar to those winged, human-headed, bull- or lion-bodied creatures depicted in Assyro-Babylonian art. (In Ezekiel's vision, they're described with four heads: lion, eagle, bull, and human male.)
The Archangel Michael is notably a patron of soldiers and policemen.
Mars from Roman religion was actually quite a different figure from Ares of Greek mythology. One of his nicknames was Mars the Avenger.
A not as widely known example comes from pre-Christian Armenian mythology. Vahaghn was a bit like the Armenian version of Thor and was known in legend as a slayer of evil dragons and is one of it's most beloved heroic figures. Just like Thor, he was also a thunder God.
Another one from Egyptian Mythology is Sekhmet. Holy crap, Sekhmet. The lion-headed Goddess who not only utterly wasted an attempted coup against the Gods by almost drowning the world in blood, she was also known as She Who Mauls and One Before Whom Evil Trembles. She is a vicious Goddess, but her rage is against evil.
BIONICLE: The Toa, though goodness and softness does depend on the individual Toa, they are all supremely powerful warriors dedicated to protecting the innocent. Best summed up in the 2006 storyline by Kopaka, fighting one of the Piraka.
Kopaka: Peace loving, not weak.
Transformers: Most versions of Optimus Prime tend to be this, especially if pushed too far. Even the original Generation One versions (both comic and animation) had their moments.
The moment that perhaps cements this more than anything else in many fans' eyes is the ending to Overlord, where a scientist forced his autistic brother to communicate with the geth, in the most barbaric way, then pleads with Shepard to allow it to continue. The Renegade option is to allow it but break his jaw and show disgust over his actions. The good one however is for Shepard to refuse, dodge shots fired at him/her, optionally smash the scientist's face in and threaten to kill him.
Shepard: "You even think about coming after your brother and this bullet will be waiting for you." note You can go full Paragon in this ending where Shepard's voice is barely suppressed rage, or take the neutral options where s/he doesn't bother holding back how pissed s/he is and lets him utterly have it.
Upon meeting Gavin Archer again in 3 as part of a team of ex-Cerberus defectors, Shepard makes it clear that even though they going to save him along with everyone else from the Cerberus forces assaulting the base, they still have nothing but utter contempt for him! Shepard also can mention that David is still safe and been rescued from Grissom Academy, but Gavin is still not going to get within a light-year of him!
Another example comes up in I Remember Me. If Shepard has the Colonist background s/he was attacked and nearly taken by Batarian slavers when s/he was sixteen. Because this becomes common knowledge Shepard is asked to talk to a girl who was taken by slavers and is Driven to Suicide. The Paragon ending has Shepard save her, then the officer who asked for help despairs the point in fighting if they can't even keep little girl safe.
Shepard: To make people who do these things pay. It's not the severity of punishment that deters crime, it's the certainty.
A Renegade Shepard, on the other hand, is a good demonstration of the sister trope, Good Is Not Nice, in that Renegade Shepard can be a real Jerk Ass yet no matter how bad s/he can be Shepard is still trying to save the galaxy.
In Lair of the Shadow Broker, the special Paragon solution to dealing with a hostage situation is to have Shepard do a Badass Boast mentioning either the Paragon or Renegade choices for two of the most extreme actions in the previous game and saying that the hostage taker had better have a better plan than hoping a hostage will deter you. Although the intent was to intimidate the hostage taker into letting their guard down so Liara could free the hostage, there's a strong implication that if it had really come to that, Shepard wasn't bluffing.
A full list for just Shepard showing how Good Is Not Soft would take all day, but here's his/her reaction to criticism for all the human lives lost when Shepard gave the order to save the Council during the Battle of the Citadel.
Liara counts as well. A curious, well meaning archeologist, her time with Shepard meant she Took a Level in Badass. After Shepard supposedly dies, Liara becomes obsessed with getting him\her back. During Redemption, she plays nice with shady characters like The Illusive Man, but fends off rape attempts by killing her attackers. After she hands Shepard over to Cerberus in the hope s\he can be brought Back from the Dead, Liara becomes an information broker where she taps her inner Dark!Willow and threatens to flay people alive. But the Good Is Not Nice facade is a weak mask and when Shepard finds her she all but breaks down over her obsession and feelings of betrayal to him\her.
Her introduction in the third game has her being chased through an air vent by two Cerberus troopers. She drops out of the vent, then uses her biotics to immobilize the troopers in mid-air when they try to follow. And then executes both of them. A Double Tap for each of them.
None of Shepard's True Companions are soft, but not all are good. The "good" squad members would qualify for no other reason than anyone who follows Shepard winds unhesitatingly racking up an astronomical kill count, but others qualify for other reasons. An incomplete listing of the characters following this trope includes...
Fan favorite Garrus Vakarian is incredibly nice guy who genuinely tries to do the right thing. He was essentially a Cowboy Cop in Mass Effect 1 and in Mass Effect 2 killed so many crime lords in a Wretched Hive the population called him Archangel.
Kaiden Alenko and Ashley Williams both are loyal, decent Alliance marines who willingly follow Shepard into hell in the first game and show no compunctions about gunning down minions of the Big Bad and criminals. Despite later disagreements with Shepard and being poor judges of character, they remain firmly on the side of humanity and the Council, doing their best to protect innocent people.
Wrench Wench Tali'Zorah nar Rayya starts the series as a slightly shy, sweet-tempered girl on her Pilgrimage. In her first scene, she kills attackers trying to bring her down with an explosive and spends the rest of the series in the thick of heavy fighting.
Captain David Anderson shows these traits when he serves as a mentor and leader. The Expanded Universe shows he has no problem dealing with the bad guys with force, as he was also the first ever N7 (human special operations). In the third game, he not only leads the entire human resistance on Earth as an alien fleet tries to harvest humanity for many months, but then leads the ground forces which make the suicide run when The Enemy Gate Is Down.
Samara is a civil, regal, somewhat distant but unfailingly polite member of a strict monastic order. Her code of honor demands she gun down criminals (or snap their necks) in cold blood.
Jacob Taylor is a decent man working for a questionable organization. When he discovers his father has spent ten years living in a puerile sexual fantasy by forcing his crew to eat neurotoxic food, he has no problem seeing to his death or to his incarceration. "[After] what happened here, I should vent his head!"
Thane Krios is attempting to atone for a lifetime as an assassin, so despite good intentions he may not count as "good." He has absolutely no compunction about killing villainous wrongdoers and is introduced when he kills a crime lord and then prays for forgiveness.
Kasumi Goto is a master thief. That's literally the only negative thing you can say about her. She's nice (very sympathetic to the other characters, particularlyJack), kind (saved a little girl from slavers), friendly, and sociable, with her input on morally ambiguous decisions showing high morals. She's also a devastating Glass Cannon that uses stealth to stab enemies in the back, so skilled that Spectres consider her a Worthy Opponent and when mocked about her dead lover she goes into a quiet rage before taking out a crime king's invincible gunship. And the thieving part? Turns out she's now doing it from casinos and giving the proceeds to war victims. You can stop her, but letting her proceed is the paragon option.
The Expanded Universe anime film Paragon Lost portrays James Vega as a young, idealistic soldier - but a highly effective commando leading his squad against mercenaries and racers. By the events of Mass Effect 3, he has a slightly darker persona, but still remains loyal to the mission of saving humanity and the rest of the galaxy.
Steve Cortez is a nice guy mourning the death of his husband and a competent Alliance pilot. Since he never enters ground combat, many players overlook that he's a complete Bad Ass. Not only does he fly into a hot LZ in just about every mission (an act of great courage), but he scores an impressive number of kills in air-to-air combat. In "Leviathan" he finally did enter ground combat in a limited capacity. But in Citadel, he fights more directly. Maybe not as a squadmate, but he joins one of the other two teams, filled with your badass squadmates and holds his own. By a similar token, Jeff "Joker" Moreau, pilot of your Cool Starship, is a Deadpan Snarker with Hidden Depths who is quite personable. He seems positively ecstatic when his ship the Normandy delivers killing blows to enemy ships.
EDI, as an AI, can literally be inspired to modify her central directives towards what can only be called humanitarian virtues and loyalty. If this happens, she states that her overwhelming priority is no longer her own survival. Other things - people - are worth fighting for to the death.
Wrex becomes this if he survives the first game, becoming the leader of the krogan race. He knows that if the krogan do not make serious changes, then they are going to die out. He assumes his authority with violence if he has to and if others refuse to go along with the reforms, they're left in the dust.
By Mass Effect 3, Miranda has become this. She is willing to go to any lengths to keep her sister safe from her father and when she finally sees his greatest atrocity, Sanctuary, leaves messages to refugees to stay away from it at all costs. This doesn't stop her from murdering her father the second he lets her sister go.
Tekken: Jun Kazama is The Chosen One and pure as the driven snow. This does not mean however she isn't devilishly effective in a fight, possess a series of powerful moves...brutal even, or in no shape to punch out Cthulhu. Or go all Mama Bear. Or as the latest game suggests go downright demonic in the pursuit of good.
Her niece Asuka is another great example. Nice, friendly, gets along well with the likes of Lei (a cop) and Leo (very moral knight\soldier archetype,) and Bully Hunterextraordinaire aiming to take down her cousin Jin,hard. In fact when they first met she tries to revive him, then punches him into a wall because he was an Accidental Pervert.
Good is not Soft does not even begin to describe Angel. Of all the characters she is the closest to the Big Good, capable of Flight, shoots Frickin' Laser Beams, fights exactly like Kazuya or Devil, and will genuinely mess you up. With most people she's lovely, doesn't matter if they're good, evil, Darker and Edgier, Big Bad, whatever. With something like Ogre however she's downright frightening.
By the very nature of the series, most of the heroes in fighting games are this. Street Fighter? Chun Li, Guile, and Cammy as a good girl are very caring individuals, justice minded, Guile's a family man, and they are among the best fighters in the series. Tekken? See above. Mortal Kombat? You are expected to murder your opponent after a fight, with LiuKang turning into a dragon to rip them in half, Raiden electrocuting them until they blow up, Stryker blowing their head clear off, and they can do this to the other good guys.
Mariko "Spirit" Tanaka of Wing Commander is the nicest, kindest, gentlest creature in the series. Then she goes kamikaze on a Kilrathi held space station her fiancé is on.
Star Wars: Dark Forces Saga has Kyle Katarn, who through the course of the games was with the Empire, became a rebel, then a Jedi, fell to The Dark Side, gave up the Force, became a Jedi again for revenge, then began teaching others. His view of the Force and how to act is it's less about what you do, but how you do it. A good person for example can use bad means to achieve a good end, Good Is Not Soft in action.
Tellingly, Jedi Knight had a good and bad ending, dependent in part on what Force powers Kyle chooses. In Jedi Academy, Luke will praise Jaden if s\he chooses light side powers or a mix, or become concerned if more dark powers are chosen... but, perhaps because you're Kyle's apprentice, even if you choose entirely dark powers you will be able to choose the light side ending.
Knights of the Old Republic uses this trope along with Incorruptible Pure Pureness. The backstory of the first game has the Jedi believing that good has to be soft, even with the Mandalorians running rampant. Revan, Malak, the Exile and others disagreed, believing that Good Is Not Soft and defied the order to save the galaxy.
As far as characters go, Bastila believes that a single misstep no matter how minor will doom a person, yet the likes of Carth or Mission believe Good Is Not Soft and are portrayed as being more light sided than Bastila.
Between the two games, it turns out that the Jedi Masters take their own stance on Good Is Not Soft. While they are happy to let the galaxy burn, they also Mind Rape Revan and attempt to strip the Exile of her force powers.
The Jedi council's take on Good Is Not Soft also relates to their principles - believing there is a greater danger in jumping feet first into war, the council refuse to bend their resolve and be drawn into a fight with the Mandalorians, no matter how many innocents they slaughter. To the rest of the galaxy, Good Is Not Nice is the most charitable way to view this stance.
If you remain Light Side after defeating Bastila, she will express amazement that the Dark Side did not make her stronger, nor did the Light Side make you weak. This is foreshadowed by Juhani thinking the same thing. Malak will express the same, resigned revelation if you defeat him and offer to turn him back to the Light Side.
Juhani is a soft spoken Jedi and of all the characters is the most concerned about being light sided. That's because she did fall before. Quite kind, caring and helpful, she's also rather vicious and utterly pissed at what's been done to her, to the point of indulging The Dark Side unless talked around, then becoming frightened of what she could have done.
The Jedi Exile in the second game. Canonically light-sided, fought as a General in Revan's army during the Mandalorian Wars and afterwards was the only one to return to the Jedi Council to face the music. Was also responsible for giving the order to deploy the Mass Shadow Generator on Malachor V, wiping out every single living thing on the surface and in orbit, including most of their own fleet. Despite their obvious guilt, throughout the game the Exile can repeatedly argue why it had to be done, since it ended the War in one fell swoop.
Queen Talia is the Big Good of the Onderon questline and the light side choice. She also wants to execute her traitorous cousin Vaklu right in the throne room because she knows he's so popular that he won't be imprisoned and remain a threat. And while you can talk her out of it, you don't have to. You can stand by and watch without gaining any dark side points.
Most Republic characters are this way come Star Wars: The Old Republic, dancing on the edge of He Who Fights Monsters. Grandmaster Satele will admit that there are weapons that should never be used. General Garza will likely disagree. Supreme Chancellor Suresh started her life as an Imperial slave, and became governer of Taris only to lose it when the Imperials charge in and sabotage the rebuilding efforts and the only question there is how much of her policies are fueled by wanting revenge. Yet, all three in game are ReasonableAuthorityFigures the Republic players. Likewise, messing with Havoc Squad, the Barsen'thor, the Hero of Tython, or Ace the Smuggler is not the wisest policy if you value your lives. However, when your opponents blow up unarmed farming worlds, enslave all non-humans, kill or subject Force Sensitives to Training from Hell with no choice in the matter, and are led by an Ax-Crazy theocratic cabal surrounding a Eldritch Abomination Emperor who wants to devour all life in the galaxy so he can be a God, then the Republic's less-than-angelic tendencies are pretty damned justified.
In Myst, Atrus is an archetypal Absent-Minded Professor, creating Portal Books to fantastic worlds and living according to an extremely optimistic worldview, but after being betrayed and imprisoned by his own sons, and his library destroyed, when finally released he takes the books where the sons have been trapped and burns them! Then, in order to save his wife, Atrus goes on to create a trap book for his egomaniacal father.
Atrus: People talk about my sons, and the evil things they did, but still I remain strangely mute. I do not discuss my own actions that day, or the rage I felt when I burned the two Linking Books that had snared them.
The fourth game retcons this, by revealing that the sons were not killed when he burnt the books, but simply trapped in the prison ages for the next 20 years. At the urging of both his wife and youngest daughter, he eventually decided to see whether they had reformed in their exile and could be allowed to be freed, writing a special linking chamber into each Age to visit them in safety.
In one tie-in novel, he agrees to lead a slave revolt in battle, despite his reservations about warfare and his lack of military experience.
In Final Fantasy VII, although Aerith Gainsborough is very kind to most people and she can be very understanding, she doesn't hesitate to challenge anyone who gives her a hard time. She's ready to break into Don Corneo's mansion on her own without thinking of her own safety before Cloud stops her. After Cloud, Aerith, and Tifa break into Don Corneo's bedroom, Aerith threatens to "rip them off" if the Don doesn't tell them what they want to know. She isn't afraid to let Cait Sith know what she thinks of him when she learns that he's a spy. And of course, she isn't afraid to head by herself to the Forgotten City to summon Holy even though it's only logical that Sephiroth will most likely try to stop her.
Litchi Faye-Ling may be a doctor and a former medical officer at Sector Seven, but she still has a strong moral compass and an IQ above room temperature - when Hazama comes a-knockin', she is unafraid to sass at him and, when that doesn't get him to leave, draw Matenbo to evict him by force. While he does offer her the opportunity to join NOL in exchange for the chance to save Arakune after that fails, she doesn't believe he'll hold his end of the bargain one bit, and only winds up Forced Into Evil out of desperation over her own condition. Even when she is under the Librarium banner, she isn't afraid to chew out Relius over his badparenting (this, sadly, convinces him to set Ignis upon her and Carl). Litchi is not afraid to step into 'evil' territory, do things she didn't like and stain her already perfectly good image and reputation in order to pursue good deeds, that's how much 'not-so-soft' she is.
Makoto Nanaya is no different despite being an Intelligence Division Lieutenant (under Captain Hazama himself, at that) - it's sundry that her loyalties are more to her friends than any government. When Hazama tries to assassinate Jin in Slight Hope, she is swift to call him on it and, when negotiations fail, parry the knife and attempt to beat the shit out of him. When that doesn't succeed and Jin has to freeze Hazama to get them both to safety, this only changes her priorities somewhat - to save her friends from him. In her bad ending, she has the gall to call Relius out on sending a still-injured Jin to what appears to be certain death against Ragna the Bloodedge and, again, demand he step aside lest she knock him on his ass (for all the good that does her), and even in the good ending she has no hesitation in demanding an explanation from Hazama about all the crap he tried to pull.
In Galactic Civilizations the humans are seen by most races as very soft, as they are diplomats by nature and will always try to solve their problems peacefully. The resident warrior/bully race, the Drengin, pity humanity particularly, and decide to show the rest of the universe just how pitiful it is. They convince another race, the Xendar, to start a war with the "soft" race. Needless to say, humanity reveals that millennia of internal warfare have grown a very hard shell beneath the soft crust; it promptly mobilizes and curb-stomps the Xendar back to their homeworld. After the Xendar die altogether due to interference by the Drengin, Humanity disbands its army and goes back to being peaceful and polite with everyone as if nothing had happened. The Drengin decide it's a wise idea to leave the "soft" race the hell alone.
Sonic the Hedgehog may be the nicest character alongside with Tails and Cream, but anytime he encounters Dr. Eggman or any other villain, expect him to not only go start kicking their asses, but also say some snide and/or cocky remarks about them while doing it. Noticeable examples of this are when in Sonic Heroes, he cruelly mocks a defeated and despairing Metal Sonic, which is only justified considering how monstrous Metal was beforehand, and in Sonic And The Secret Rings, Sonic in his Darkspine form brutally seals Erazor Djinn away for being so irredeemably evil and then throws his lamp into a pool of molten metal for good measure.
Despite being Good Is Not Nice, Shadow the Hedgehog has shown to care for others, which includes his two teammates Rouge and Omega and his deceased surrogate sister Maria. When he fights against an evil foe, he has shown no second thoughts about using lethal force on them. The Black Arms learned the hard way that this also means no compunctions against genocide when dealing with exceptional evil. He also won't hesitate to fight the heroes if they get in the way of his current goals.
Kei "Edge" Nagase of Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War has this strange preoccupation, being a combat pilot, of not wanting to kill anyone and regreting Osea going to war with Yuktobania. Soft spoken, loyal to her flight lead (Bartlett and Blaze), and well liked by her team, she also comes across as very much a pacifist who would have much prefered to meet enemy pilots on airshow circuits rather than battlefields. That's the same Nagase who- after being shot down and forced to flee on foot- turns the table on enemy soldiers sent to capture her and ends up holding them at gunpoint, fights like a demon (literally in one case where the enemy pilots claim mythical demons had taken her over after she kills a good number of them in retaliation to the death of her fellow teammate Chopper), and punches out a higher-ranking officer whom she finds out to be a traitor. She might not like wars, but if she finds herself in one, she is ready and willing to sweep aside all oppositions in her quest to end it.
Sophitia Alexandra may be Purity Personified and one of the most unambiguously good characters in the Soul Series, but her fighting style is quite brutal and she is certainly not afraid to fight dirty, including moves like Groin Attacks and Neck Snaps. And while she is an Apologetic Attacker, she does so with an air of confidence and dignity. She is genuinely sorry she has to hurt her opponents, but she is not going to let anything stop her.
Most of the main cast in Final Fantasy X. Of the seven heroes, Auron and Khimari qualify unquestioningly. You could make really strong arguments for Wakka, Tidus, and Lulu, and even Rikku and Yuna have their moments.
Most of the Vault Hunters from Borderlands and Borderlands 2. Even though a few of them lean towards being a Heroic Sociopath, for the most part they're doing their level best to protect those on Pandora who can't protect themselves. They're also some of the most unambiguously badass people on the planet, who think nothing of mowing down hordes of bandits, dangerous wildlife, or robots.
Xian Mei and John Morgan of Dead Island would make Chris and Jill fall to their knees in reverence. They are committed to helping everyone, very sympathetic to the victims of the outbreak and caring to those caught up in the outbreak. They are also capable of slaughtering half the population of Banoi and Palanai with ease and turn bloodthirsty when coming across those irredeemably evil.
There was once a teenage boy who travels through worlds, helping out people in need and befriending them in the process. He is also openly rude to any villain he encounters throughout his journey, and more die at his hands than get arrested or escape. He's also not afraid to fight any women and children who work for or are villains. His name is Sora.
The Assassins in Assassin's Creed are this. Their ideology is based around free will and self-determination, and they're generally good guys. However, as you might guess from the name, their Modus Operandi is assassinating the key people on the other side.
Linkara from Atop the Fourth Wall is generally a nice guy, but is perfectly willing to commit cold-blooded murder on his enemies. In fact, he's done this so much that he started to turn evil, possibly subverting the trope.
Chaka of the Whateley Universe: she's cheerful, considerate, happy-go-lucky... and she kicked Montana's butt when he crossed the line with her friend. When she had to deal with Lycanthros, she broke half his ribs and smashed his face in with moonsilver.
Pendorians are kind, generous people who never consider using force to impose their will on other cultures. They also react badly to things like Pendorians being kidnapped. One kidnapping was mentioned to have ended in the destruction of a city. Another caused an interstellar war aimed at killing everyone connected to the kidnapping.
Sam: Fear vs. Hope. Hardly an even match. Max: That's because you think of hope as something light and fragile. My version of hope has calluses and dirt under the fingernails and isn't above bringing brass knuckles to a fight.
Kim Possible, a Disney character no less, is really caring and helpful, even more so as she matures. She has tried to reason with the villains at times, but most episode has her resorting to her fists to resolve problems.
Optimus Prime of Transformers Prime is one of the nicest, most purely heroic characters imaginable. He's also a giant alien war-machine and willing to brutally kill an opponent who has proven irredeemable. It doesn't matter if you used to be his friend. It doesn't matter if you used to be his mentor. It doesn't matter whether you're a human he could easily crush in a fair fight, another Transformer he's on roughly equal footing with, or even a god-like being like Unicron. Once you've crossed that line, nothing else matters any more. You're going down, and going down HARD.
This is a trait shared by many Autobots (and Maximals) throughout the Transformers franchise, both figuratively and literally. Optimus just tends to embody it best. When your race has "war machine" as a species trait, you tend to be ready when push comes to shove.
In the G1 cartoon, during a flashback to his first meeting with Megatron and being rebuilt into Optimus, there is a scene where he just blasts holes into 'con after 'con after 'con. In Transformers: The Movie, Optimus literally runs over one Decepticon and blasts several others before he confronts Megatron.
Alpha Trion qualifies for this as well, for rebuilding him. After all, he knew warriors would be needed, so when two of his friends were injured, he didn't just rebuild them as they were - he rebuilt them as Badass Decepticon-slayers. Imagine waking up in the hospital with an Arm Cannon in preparation for the next time you ran into the guy who put you there.
King Sombra's case is very similar to Discord's in nearly every respect. Bonus points for the method with which he is dispatched upon his return (he is the first and only antagonist in the show to be Killed Off for Real).
The Mane Six are like this too. Twilight Sparkle might be the among the most diplomatic and patient members of the cast, but threaten her friends or loved ones and you better be prepared to face weapons-grade magic. Applejack and especially Rainbow Dash, being the most athletic members of the group, tend to waste little time in putting their considerable physical abilities to use despite their respective level-headed and fun-loving natures. Even Fun PonifiedPinkiePie (who becomes abruptly terrifying when her Berserk Buttons are pressed and wields a cannonnote a party cannon, mind you, but a cannon nonetheless in combat), sweet and timidFluttershy (whose Mama Bear instincts manifest in the form of a superpower called "the Stare"), and the sophisticated, ladylike Rarity (who was kicking angry manticores in the face by the second episode) will gladly step up to the plate if you pose a large enough threat.
The original My Little Pony TV Specials demonstrated this trope at times as well. The series' first villain, Tirak, was straight-up killed — though "obliterated" might be a better way of putting it — by the Rainbow of Light. Their weapon of choice might be a Care Bear Stare, but The Care Bears these ponies ain't.
Lion-O from ThunderCats (2011) would seem to be soft compared to other Cats, since he is the only one willing to try and convince his enemies to stand down and show them kindness. However, this kindness does not extend to their bosses, such as when he defeats the king of the rats Ratar-O without hesitation. He also doesn't let his compassion get in the way when innocent lives are at stake, such as blowing several Lizard fighters out of the sky in the season finale.
Miss Martian from Young Justice is generally a decent, heroic person who genuinely cares for her team-mates. However, she's not above mentally assaulting enemies that really get on her bad side; as Psimon learned in the episode "Image". In season 2, she becomes even more ruthless to her foes.
Mook: I like to watch the crocodiles eat 'em. It's fascinating. *Terry fights them off, the same mook going into the water with them* Terry: You're right. It is fascinating. (Scream Discretion Shot)
In Avatar: The Last Airbender , most of the Gaang fit this, being a team of heroic True Companions who seldom hold back when all hell breaks loose. Note that at the climax, every single one of Gaang's friends was urging him to kill the Big Bad, and when Zuko pulled his long overdue Heel-Face Turn, Katara openly threatened to kill him if he ever looked like he would hurt Aang, and she clearly meant it.
Iroh also fits this trope to a T. He's a kind old man who puts up with his nephew's Jerkass behavior, gives tea to random strangers... and cheerfully maims people who stand in his way.
Avatar Kyoshi. Though definitely good, she did not believe in Thou Shalt Not Kill and never hesitated to give an enemy what was coming to him. Like a soldier, if an enemy needed dealing with, he got dealt with and that was that, no regrets.
It should be noted that Thou Shalt Not Kill was Aang's own personal conviction(Part of his background as an airbender), and not an aspect of The Avatar. In fact, each and every previous life he accessed while meditating on the misty island was agreed on the point of doing what's best for the planet even though it might be unpalatable to his ethics.
For that matter, Aang himself. Pacifistic, vegetarian, friendly, and bends Ozai's soul to take away his firebending so he can't be a threat again.
The titular character of The Legend of Korra is this. If you're her friend she's fun and joking, if a bit egotistical. To enemies she's a terrifying Blood Knight, more than willing to give a complete beat-down, and its pretty clear that she would have been willing to kill at least one of her opponents if she hadn't been...interrupted.
While they're not like this in all incarnations in the 2003 version of TMNT certainly fall into this territory, they have no qualms about killing but are generally pretty nice to their friends and even when they bicker with each other you can still tell they love each other.
In The Dreamstone, the Land of Dreams, despite being a Sugar Bowl in every other regard, is actually far more prone to violence than the Urpneys, and can be rather brutal (if not sometimes borderline sadistic) towards those that try to steal their stone, willingly or not.