Good is not nice, polite, well-mannered, self-righteous, or naive, though good characters may be some of these things.
is when a villain is polite, friendly and genuinely kind, even while plotting evil. Good Is Not Nice is the inverse of that: a character who is morally slanted toward the good side but is rude, unfriendly, and mean.
He never kills anyone if he can help it
, nor will he allow people to come to any sort of harm by ignoring them. He's always willing to go out of his way to save the town and complete strangers
. When the call comes, he will answer it, usually with very little protest.
He will often help people in need with little promise of reward. In almost every way, he acts like an Ideal Hero
Except that he's asocial
and sometimes downright abusive toward most people he meets
. He may refuse to explain anything
. He may actively rebuke people who express gratitude
, and love
as well as offers of support if he's got a problem.
There are a few reasons a person may act like this:
Here are related tropes which are demonstrations as to how the good character isn't as nice as he appears to be:
- He may want to be selfish and arrogant, or just unbiased to either side, but his morality keeps on getting in the way, even if it's to his detriment. He may put on a Jerkass Façade to try to counter it.
- He really does believe he's better than everyone else, and ranges from Smug Super all the way to Arrogant Prick. After all, it's tough to be nice to people when you don't even respect them. However he still feels compelled to help these lower creatures on a regular basis.
- He's a natural loner. His sense of duty forces him to perform heroic acts, but he does not consider chitchat, or politeness, to be one of his duties.
- He may want to be a nice person, but believes that being nice doesn't always get things done all the time, and that doing good requires him to do harsh and cruel acts, particularly if he has to teach something. (This one may be an intermittent effect, applied only when necessary; contrast Beware the Nice Ones, where such outbursts result from break-down. On the other hand, emotional trauma can coincide with the realization that nice won't cut it.)
- He can't afford to let others get close to him because his enemies will use them against him.
- He or she might wish to be nice but lives so far outside normal human experience that she or he has no idea how to go about it; similarly, the hero might be autistic, or a non-human alien.
- The world he operates in has a somewhat cynical take on things, so Strict Good Guyism doesn't work - either in the eyes of the author or in a literal in-universe sense.
- He presents a harsh demeanor to intimidate enemies.
Note that when handled well, this can create an interesting, complex character. When done poorly, you can end up with serious Moral Dissonance
, a Designated Hero
and/or even an Unintentionally Unsympathetic
Compare Noble Demon
, who will likely fall into this if not too morally ambiguous. Often a Knight in Sour Armor
, Mr. Vice Guy
, Jerk with a Heart of Gold
, Jerkass Woobie
, or sometimes just a Jerkass
who does good things. The term Anti-Hero
is sometimes used to cover this trope. Sister trope to Creepy Good
. The Naïve Newcomer
may be surprised to learn he isn't the idealized hero everyone thinks he is
. This type of character will turn out to be a Hero with Bad Publicity
Why Light powers can be the Holy Hand Grenade
even when Light Is Good
Contrast Affably Evil
and Good Is Not Dumb
. If a character acts like this exclusively towards their enemies, you've got a case of Good Is Not Soft
versions of this trope may be strict, humorless and serious. In other cases, they will put much emphasis on "Lawful" more than "Good". Very common personality flaw for The Paladin
See also Hidden Depths
. Also see the Knight Templar
, who goes beyond merely not being "nice" into darker territory.
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Anime and Manga
- Yuu Kanda from D Grayman, who says often that he doesn't care about other people, but will save them and protect them, often after saying he was using them as bait.
- General Cross also falls under this one. He's brutal, but effective, and he genuinely does care about Allen when push comes to shove. Awww.
- Sanzo from Saiyuki is is a member of the highest priestly order in Tougenkyo and is on a mission from God... er, Buddha, to save the world. He has a knack for smacking down villains and convincing people to live again. He's also a bitchy, verbally and physically abusive Jerkass. Several main cast can fit under this trope, except Hakkai.
- The supposed hero Sunred in Tentai Senshi Sunred. He knows he's supposed to play the role of hero and does beat up villains regularly. Yet he's also a smoking, pachinko-playing jerk who mooches off his girlfriend and becomes (understandably) annoyed at Florshiem's attempts at "world domination".
- L from Death Note is on the trail of dangerous serial killer known as Kira. He's also a sugar junkie with practically No Social Skills and a very low opinion of most other people, who only takes up cases that interest him in order to fend off boredom. A frequently lampshaded fact is that he and Light are Not So Different.
- And then there's Near, who is even more Raised by Wolves and much less subtle in regards to snarking. There's endless debate over whether or not he used the Death Note to control Mikami's actions, so as to convict Light. Word of God also states that he "cheats".
- Soichiro, Light's father. Word of God states that he is the only truly good character in the series...notwithstanding holding two people (the first a civilian, the second his own son) at gunpoint, actually firing - even when it's loaded with blanks - at point blank range during the latter occasion, and later still making the trade for Shinigami Eyes and attempting to write Mello's name in the notebook, only failing to write it in full because Mello asks him if he's ever killed a person before, leading to a moment of hesitation which proves his undoing.
- Meta Knight in the Kirby anime acts as a Trickster Mentor to Kirby, training him and helping him, but being rather distant. Also notable: in his first appearance he speed-trained Kirby to wield a sword... by beating the crap out of him and pointing out all his mistakes. Other times he's cool and distant and generally only directly helps Kirby when his life is in danger.
- Togusa in Ghost in the Shell, as the rookie recruited from the regular police, is the only character who is actively trying to work within the law and respect the rights of criminals. The rest of Section 9 is not above using torture and murder, but the entire country is in such a corrupt state that even Togusa usually accepts that as a necessary part of their work.
- The entirety of Team Urameshi in YuYu Hakusho. Hiei is just plain evil For the Evulz (at least at first). Yusuke is an ass towards everyone he knows, but he genuinely cares about all of them, and his power spikes exponentially whenever they're in danger. Kurama is outwardly pleasant, but he's also a Deadpan Snarker of the highest order, incredibly fond of the Stealth Insult towards his less intelligent teammates, and (even by Hiei's admission), the most ruthless fighter on the team, a trait he demonstrates when he mercilessly executes most of his enemies even after they're defeated. By contrast, Kuwabara's a borderline Nice Guy, a Boisterous Bruiser with a soft centre.
- Both of them are generally heroic to a fault, but Fullmetal Alchemist's Edward Elric can be quite an arrogant jerk, in contrast to his more empathetic and polite brother Alphonse.
- If people are talking about Ed Elric, Roy Mustang shouldn't be exempt by any means either.
- Even more so Olivia Armstrong who is not only a jerk, but also a Social Darwinist and is still one of the good guys as well as an epic Mama Bear.
- Izumi Curtis thinks little of verbally and physically thrashing the Elric brothers if it means teaching them important lessons regarding Alchemy or surviving in general. Which pales in comparison to the terror she inflicts upon those who threaten them or her loved ones.
- In Bleach, all of Soul Society exhibits this trope from time to time. Incidentally, Kaname Tosen defected to Big Bad Sosuke Aizen because of this fact, believing the latter's planned world would be an improvement.
- Particular examples? They merrily employ Jerk Ass Mayuri Kurotsuchi, a truly sadistic Mad Scientist who's caused the deaths of many, killed subordinates, and beat up his daughter For Science!.
- Yamamoto. Has certain ideas about upholding justice and doing his job as a Soul Reaper. Can be extremely harsh in applying the law. For example, whether the order for Rukia's execution was legitimate or not he did not question the sentence. If anything, when questioned by Ukitake and Kyoraku, he emphatically supported the sentence in principle. His response to those Soul Reapers and humans who tried to save her was to order their deaths as well. He is, generally, not a terribly 'nice' person.
- Byakuya and Soifon deserve a honorable mention too.
- As well as Hitsugaiya, in regards to Yui Toyokawa.
- Hiruma from Eyeshield 21 will always take any chance to grab his endless artillery of guns and shoot his own teammates at any notice. However, he does care for every one of them, and will make sure that none of them get seriously hurt. Of course, his excuse is that because the Devil Bats is just such a small team, there are barely enough competent substitutes if anyone gets hurt.
- In Slayers Black Magician Girl Lina Inverse is mostly a self-centered, immature, avaricious and temperamental teenage girl with an advanced grasp on highly destructive Black Magic. And yet, she and her team is all that stands in the way of the various ravening monsters, mad wizards and nihilistic demons that pop up over the course of the series, some of whom try to destroy the world.
- Amelia Seyruun wants to be a "Hero of Justice" but is so naive and wrapped up in stereotypes and clichés she's barely aware of what that means. She tries to do things right as she understands it, but end up either too misguided or too self-righteous. And hits this trope straight. Lina may be a black mage rarely caring of anything including moderate collateral damage, but her reaction on the thought of Amelia with more destructive spells (in season 1, ep. 12) is a bad idea, and dumb-as-a-jellyfish Gourry see why. However, her father Phil is far more adequate despite having exactly the same Love Freak quirks and being even bigger Martial Pacifist.
- Luna Inverse (Lina's sister) is the Knight of Ceipheed — the champion and host of a Soul Fragment of their world's chief good deity. When foes caught Lina and put on her a circlet that zapped her with a weak lightning spell whenever she tried to use magic, she commented "Compared with what my big sister used to put me through... that was nothing". Though not without a reason note .
- Zelgadis, having been turned into a chimera by his Affably Evil bastard of a great-grandfather, fits this trope to a T, even more so than Lina. He wanders from place to place searching for a cure for his condition, often disregarding others around him; only when the world is in grave danger will he stray from his wandering ways, he does genuinely care about Lina and Gourry, and he may or may not have feelings for Amelia. He actually subverts this trope in the original novels, as he is more of a straight-up douche, and an extra story in one of the books reveals that he actually wants to forget about his friends.
- Anime-only character Filia is a bad-tempered Holier Than Thou priestess. In her defense, she appears to have been raised in isolation from the wider world (and has JUST left her home for the first time as TRY starts) and her main problems are due more to immaturity and naïveté than anything else.
- Asuka Langley Soryu from Neon Genesis Evangelion can be quite arrogant and obnoxious, yet despite claiming to pilot her Eva only to become famous ("prove (herself) to the world"), she risks her life on countless occasions to defeat the angels/save humanity and is highly honorable (she willingly puts herself in harm's way in episode 11 to square her debt with Shinji).
- Rei Ayanami also counts. A combination of being a loner, utter devotion to duty no matter how much it might suck and a rather cynical world in general make some of her attempts to be nice fall flat, especially with Asuka or Ritsuko.
- Ban Midou from Get Backers. He is the most condescending, arrogant, and insulting character in the entire thing. No one is safe from his snarking. It's even lampshaded in the manga, where the author even says that he makes unnecessary enemies and makes people hate him for his constant taunts and insults. Thankfully, if people stick around him and get to know him long enough, they eventually get used to it and like him. Ginji surely does, huh!
- Played with regarding Takeru from Digimon Adventure 02. While he is normally level-headed, nice, and affable, when something or someone presses his Berserk Button he can be far less pleasant. The most poignant angry moments had him leaving his partner Iori with no explanation to storm off to the enemy, coldly suggesting that they kill Dark Digimon instead of redeeming them, and physically beating up Ken/the Digimon Kaiser. He is also much more irritable and dismissive during such states. However, this is addressed in the series, with Takeru recognizing that these tendencies weren't exactly healthy, and with Iori being pretty conflicted about teaming up with him more than once and specifically, when they realize they're Jogress partners, but Iori doesn't know if they're up to the task, so he's more in control in the latter half of the series.
- Integra Hellsing; determined to protect the world from any threat, and perfectly willing to mouth off, insult, and snark at anyone who criticizes her, even the Vatican. And specially the Vatican. Bloody Papists.
- This trope is also one of the defining moments for her character. When Alucard and Seras are holed up in a hotel in Rio de Janeiro that is being swarmed by the SWAT team, which is under Millennium's control via promising immortality to the corrupt government officials in charge of the police force, there's no way for them to get out without killing innocent humans. Up until this point, Integra has scrupulously avoided this, but her hands are tied. When she receives a call from Alucard and he asks if she is willing to set him on them, she agrees. She even questions her decision after hanging up, asking Walter if she made the right choice.
- As his journey progresses, Dr. Kenzo Tenma from Monster becomes more and more unhinged, and less and less interested in following the basic precepts of civility. Evident even in the beginning of the series, where he is not above manhandling people in rather unwarranted rage, this escalates into theft, coercion, and all-too-frequent death threats. Of course, he is up against a sociopath with no qualms about breaking every moral law in the book just to get at him, so some of it might be warranted.
- Sakurako Sanjou from Hana Yori Dango is a Rich Bitch in Sheep's Clothing as well as very nasty when crossed. After her Heel-Face Turn, despite having a kinder disposition, she still remains spoiled and childish.
- Much to everyone's surprise, Eva turns out to be this in Umineko no Naku Koro ni.
- Setsuna F. Seiei, before his Character Development. Haunted by the tragedy in his childhood, he wants to prevent the same thing from happening again to other good people by destroying every single soldier with no remorse. During the first season, he's got a bad attitude, too, and has a strong desire for revenge.
- Kaiser Ryo of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX is this in seasons 1 and later in season 3. In season 1, he's a loner and not very friendly, but he's willing to risk his life for his friends and brother. Season 3 features a much darker Anti-Hero, but he's essentially one of the "good guys" and ends up sacrificing himself in order to snap Judai out of his Heroic BSOD
- Keroro Gunsou Natsumi Hinata is Earth's best of line of defense from her freeloading alien house guest. And she makes sure he knows that...a lot. In the most abusive ways she can think of.
- Possible interpretation of Shinigami in Soul Eater. Some of his methods of enforcing order are decidedly questionable (Asura, the witches (especially Kim and Angela), Mifune) they're just not half as questionable as what his fellow Physical Gods, or more appropriately their associated baddies, get up to.
- David of Blood+ also counts. Early on, he beats Kai senseless to teach him a lesson about the kind of world they live in, and forces Saya to fight and work with the Red Shield despite full knowledge that it's tearing her apart.
- Gen from Kekkaishi could be the posterboy for this trope. Masamori is a less obvious example, as he's outwardly polite, even while he's delivering a thinly veiled threat.
- Sakura and Sasuke from Naruto. While Sakura eventually had Character Development, Sasuke underwent a Face-Heel Turn.
- The title character of InuYasha is a prime example; he starts off motivated largely by self-interest, and while Character Development soon brings out his better nature, he remains a short-tempered, foul-mouthed Jerk with a Heart of Gold whose first solution to most problems involves violence.
- Much like Inuyasha, Kyo from Fruits Basket is a case of this, especially in the anime, where he doesn't go through the Character Development he goes through in the manga. Kyo is very aggressive and occasionally violent, especially with Momiji, but he still cares for Tohru.
- Guts from Berserk. In his backstory, he starts out as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, but after the traumatizing events of the Golden Age arc, becomes a cruel, cold-hearted psychopath who, nonetheless, is intent on avenging the deaths of his comrades and protect his now-insane lover from the demons who are constantly hunting both of them down. He does start to get somewhat better over the course of the series though.
- Piccolo from Dragon Ball. Even after his Heel-Face Turn, he is generally aloof and distant from the rest of human characters. Some of them consider him be to outright scary but Piccolo saves his softer side for Gohan. Not to mention he is quite ruthless in battle, such as severing Dr Gero's arms (though he had assumed he was an android) and bifurcating Babidi.
- Vampire Princess Miyu: She does what she can to aid humans, and occasionally feels regret for those she can't help, but in the end her job is to banish Shinma, not to protect or save people. She's not above using mortals as bait, if necessary.
- From Fairy Tail, the mages of Sabertooth are mean, arrogant Smug Supers who consider themselves better than everyone else in the Grand Magic Games. They're also a legal guild that hasn't resorted to any dirty tricks, like Raven Tail has, so they're technically good guys.
- Laxus Dreyar is the title guild's example of this trope after he returns.
- Killy from Blame!! since he shoots the Silicon Creatures indiscriminately.
- In Gundam Seed Destiny, Yzak sides with Clyne's faction while insulting Kira, Lacus's fiancé. It got to the point that Dearka had to mute Yzak's comm because the guy was shouting so many insults at his allies that people were confused as to which side he was really on. It really makes sense if you know their common past ( Yzak knows that Kira killed one of his friends and disfigured him due to War Is Hell, and he knows that when Lacus fights against a government, she's usually the on the good side. But he's not forgiving enough to speak nicely to Kira while doing the right thing).
- Tiger of the Wind in Monster Rancher can be ruthless and brutal in battle, often going for the kill in one-to-one fights. He is also arrogant and prideful which can lead him to clash with others.
- Zoro from One Piece. His reputation as a "Pirate Hunter" and his devastating skill with the swords has terrified people, including many of his crewmates. When fighting, he often sports a Slasher Smile and delights in the bloodlust of having a good fight. But he is unmistakably a good guy with a soft spot for his crew and has been known to go out of his way to protect/help out strangers, including a little girl and an injured man.
- Levi, the World's Strongest Man, in Attack on Titan is incredibly rude, coarse and insulting to many people around him and is rumored to be an infamous thug when he was younger. However, he genuinely cares for his men and humanity in general.
- Rosario + Vampire: Inner Moka generally fights to protect Tsukune, but is often annoyed when she's called forth to deal with such problems as the other members of Tsukune's Unwanted Harem fighting over him in the human world and nearly breaking The Masquerade in the process. What really sealed her as this trope is her defeat of Kurumu early on in the manga: to make sure she never tried to attack them again, Inner Moka fully intended to rip off Kurumu's wings and tail, and would have done so if Tsukune didn't talk her out of it.
- In Toward the Terra, Glaive Murdock is presented as an unsympathetic, arrogant jerk, yet he repeatedly takes a principled stand against orders he feels are immoral, pretending he didn't receive an order to kill retreating civilians and refusing to Colony Drop a colony full of hostages when attacked despite a standing order to do so. And in the end, he pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to take out the last Megiddo cannon before it can destroy Terra.
- Judge Dredd: It can be debated whether Dredd qualifies as good, but he definitely puts the interests of Mega-City One and its citizens before any other concern. However, break the LAW or commit offenses against the city and you sign your death sentence. He's killed BILLIONS of people for this.
- Batman is sometimes portrayed as this, Depending on the Writer. Often described with roleplaying terms as "Lawful Good doesn't mean Lawful Nice."
- Reggie Mantle from Archie Comics sometimes falls into this category. Some stories portray him as hating the holiday season because the Christmas spirit interferes with his natural desire to be rotten, while others portray him as actively taking precautions to make sure the victims of his pranks are only humiliated, without actually being hurt.
- Spider Jerusalem from Transmetropolitan is usually very fitting of this trope.
- There is an intentional tension between this and Affably Evil in Transmet. Warren Ellis makes some pretty clear parallels between the casually horrific behavior of Spider and the sheer corruption of Callahan. Spider's clear sense of vengeance drives his behavior as much as anything else. If taken too far this can put him on the edge of Designated Hero sometimes.
- Wolverine. He's a grump and very snarly to gentle or friendly approaches from his friends. But he has also a protective streak bigger then Canada: threaten those he cares for, and the offending party will be shredded three ways from Sunday, especially if they push it.
- The British-published Sonic the Comic by Fleetway paints the eponymous hedgehog as such. He's a hero and saves the day constantly, but if you're one of his allies? Expect to be belittled, verbally abused, and made to cater to his ego.
- The Golden Age Superman had no trouble with threatening crooks to get them to confess. He didn't kill people, but if criminals suffered Karmic Death (which happened a lot) he'd usually comment that they got what they deserved. In one comic he grabbed a doctor, ignored his protests, and flew him through a hurricane and two hundred miles cross-country so he could save a dying kid. This era was later referenced and deconstructed by Grant Morrison. Young Superman tries to beat a confession out of a corrupt media mogul, he succeeds in scaring the guy but what he gets is no way admissible in court.
- Green Lantern (off and on) Guy Gardner is a pretty good example of this trope. He's rude, crude, slightly sexist, and can be downright mean to certain heroes, but when the chips are down, you can count on Guy Gardner to fight with his all.
- Jack T. Chance is Lobo with a Green Power Ring with all that implies. Because of that, he's been ordered to only patrol and protect one planet while every other Lantern gets a whole sector. While he's crude, brutal and all around very 90s. He did genuinely want to clean up the Hellhole that was his world.
- And lately, the Guardians of the Universe have had this in spades.
- The female Dr. Light: Helping fellow heroes while looking down on them since 1985.
- Grimjack aka John Gaunt. His code of "Always Seek The Truth" can (and often does) hurt his friends, family, clients, random people on the street, etc.
- Gemini Storm. The heroine helps keep down the plague of monsters by viciously killing them and enjoying every minute of it.
- The Spectre is the Angel of Vengeance, tasked by God with punishing those murders, molesters, and miscellaneous malefactors that escape the justice of human hands. He is also one of the creepiest, most unsettling, and cruelest beings in the DC universe. Putting this into perspective: the Spectre needs a human host to do his job, and while the Spectre does dish out horrifically poetic justice to those who think they can escape the consequences of their actions, he doesn't do this to every Karma Houdini out there... which leads us to Crispus Allen, the Spectre's current host. Crispus was murdered, and the Spectre took no steps against the murderer... but Allen's son kills the man, leading the Spectre to punish the boy, with Allen helpless to stop him.
- Jack Knight from the '90s Starman. He becomes a better person - outside of being a superhero - as the series goes on but he's still a Jerk Ass Anti-Hero for a good portion of the early issues. Even at the end, he still shows signs of being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
- Pick a Hardboiled Detective from early Detective Comics, and you'll get this. Slam Bradley comes to mind best.
- In Minimonsters, Victor is definitely this.
- King Faraday is gruff, cynical, and jaded. He's also just as determined to help the common good as much as the Heroes in Spandex are, and shows this famously in New Frontier. ... by trying to arrest the Spandex Clad Heroes. But it's definitely supposed to be for a good cause.
- All Sin City heroes with the exception of Wallace, who was very polite.
- Spider-Man had his moments in his early teenage days. He would often act very cocky and could be a bit of a jerk towards fellow heroes at times. He mellowed out a lot more once he came into adulthood.
- This is even how the Uncle Ben incident happened originally. Several retellings (such as The Movie) try to make it more sympathetic, but really, he just let the thief go because it wasn't his problem. He learned the "with great power..." thing from what happened later, but it didn't instantly transform him into a perfect human being.
- He's still a much lighter example, relentlessly insulting and taunting the criminals he fights and at times even the people he saves.
- Prowl gets this treatment a lot in the IDW version of Transformers. He's an arrogant prick, a Manipulative Bastard, comes off as cold and unfeeling, seems to treat even people he professes to like as tools more than as comrades or friends, and sometimes does some morally-questionable things in the name of getting things done... but in the end of it all he's without a doubt a loyal Autobot dedicated to defeating the Decepticons, protecting the innocent, and reaching for the greater good overall.
- Several Autobots come off this way in the course of the IDW run of comics. Repugnus is underhanded, ruthless, argumentative, and more than willing to resort to violence, but he's an Autobot special operations agent who does jobs that those with more delicate morals could barely consider.
- The Wreckers by and large consist of violent diehards, mental jobs, or trouble cases with an appallingly high body count and casualty count, but they go after the most dangerous of foes that no normal Autobot team could hope to match. In particular, Wreckers leader Impactor coldly executes the entirety of Squadron X after their capture on a neutral world on the basis that the threat posed by a crack team of ten Decepticons outweighed the political technicalities that required the Wreckers to release their foes.
- The original Marvel run of The Transformers has Ratchet finally lose his cool at Starscream. Good is no longer nice when the hard-working doctor who turns into an ambulance throws "First Do No Harm" out the window and drops Starscream with a single rage-fueled punch, then crashes the starship he's on into Earth to try and kill four of the most dangerous Decepticons in the galaxy (Megatron, Galvatron, Shockwave, and Starscream) at the same time.
- Deconstructed (along with everything else) in Watchmen.
- When the Fantastic Four trespassed into Heaven in a bid to resurrect Ben Grimm, Johnny was struck by an archangel's Flaming Sword and noted that it hurt even worse than Hellfire.
- Depending on the Writer, The Hulk can be this; he causes a lot of collateral damage and can be an out and out Jerkass at times, but he'll go out of his way to save innocent lives and make sure no one dies during his rampages, and he's got one of the higher "save the world" count among the Marvel heroes.
- Justice League Elite:
- Naif Al-Sheikh is a sexist, elitist asshole, but he's also usually honest and works to hold his team to high standards.
- Manitou Raven dedicates almost every waking moment to the team, but he also alienates his wife to the point where she hooks up with Green Arrow just to try and get a reaction out of him.
- In Holy Terror, the Fixer shows no compassion at all to any of the terrorists, shooting them, breaking their spines and blowing them up.
Film - Animated
- The eponymous ogre of the Shrek films, who initially just wants to be left alone in his swamp. Then he agrees to rescue a princess in exchange for clearing out the exiles in his swamp, and things spiral from there.
- Basil of Baker Street, from The Great Mouse Detective, is condescending and rude. Children coming to his office to say their fathers were kidnapped are told "I have no time for lost fathers!" Of course, this turns out to be because he's focused on trying to apprehend a local crime lord named Professor Ratigan, whom ironically happens to be very Faux Affably Evil, the polar opposite of this trope.
- In Bambi, The Great Prince of the Forest is a borderline abusive parent and an entirely aloof father. The 2006 gives him Character Developement, however.
- Kerchak from Tarzan also counts.
- Quite the literal example from Wreck-It Ralph: while the arcade game characters fulfill "good guy" and "bad guy" roles while the game is being played, offscreen their actual personalities greatly vary. Many "bad guys" are nice, gentle people while various "good guys" or "innocent bystanders" are mean, condescending and/or Innocently Insensitive (Felix...). Or in the case of Turbo, who was the main protagonist of his game, psychotic, attention-obsessed, spiteful, murderous and insane.
- God in The Prince of Egypt. See the Religion and Mythology section.
- Shifu in Kung Fu Panda is unquestionably on the side of good, but is irritable, harsh to his students and insulting towards Po.
Film - Live Action
- The Man with No Name from the Dollars Trilogy is a classic example of this trope.
- Ace Ventura is a send-up of this sort of character, whether intentionally or otherwise. He talks out of his backside, is inherently immature and even sociopathic, but losing someone he was trying to save drives him into seclusion in a monastery. Said someone was a raccoon...
- Hancock starts off like this. He goes out of his way to help people in need and stop criminals, and he also doesn't commit murder, with one possible exception right near the end of the movie. He's also an alcoholic with a short temper who isn't afraid to use his powers to intimidate people he doesn't like.
- From the first Prophecy movie, regarding biblically correct angels:
"Did you ever notice how in the Bible, when ever God needed to punish someone, or make an example, or whenever God needed a killing, he sent an angel? Did you ever wonder what a creature like that must be like? A whole existence spent praising your God, but always with one wing dipped in blood. Would you ever really want to see an angel?"
"I'm an angel. I kill firstborns while their mamas watch. I turn cities into salt. I even, when I feel like it, rip the souls from little girls, and from now till kingdom come, the only thing you can count on in your existence is never understanding why."
- Bernie La Plante played by Dustin Hoffman in Hero. La Plante is an unscrupulous thief who nevertheless can't help but do good deeds like rescuing people from a crashed airliner.
- A major theme of the Dirty Harry series, where the title character is portrayed as frequently doing cruel but justified things. Summed up with a remark he made after punching someone in the face to make it easier to stop him from committing suicide.
"Now you know why they call me Dirty Harry. Every dirty job that comes along..."
- Also a theme of the Star Wars series. More general examples include the strict Jedi code and the lengths the well-intentioned pro-republic characters are willing to go to in order to keep the galaxy together. (For example, an army of clones whose genetics are modified to make them obedient, as a means of crushing the separatists, was created, and Mace and Yoda didn't object at Palpatine's announcement of this.)
- In addition, in the novelization for Episode III, Kenobi and Yoda make quite clear they have nothing against sacrificing anyone, including each other, if it would end the war a day earlier.
- Lean on Me portrays Joe Clark as on several occasions being willing to do the right thing when the right thing isn't exactly nice. He expels hundreds of "troublemakers" at a time to improve the school for the better students, orders the school's doors "chained and locked" on being told that someone from inside the school let an expelled student into the school building, and fires a teacher for picking up trash during the school song for which everyone was told not to move.
I cried "my God, why has thou forsaken me?" and the Lord said "Joe, you're no damn good. No, I mean this! More than you realize, you're no earthly good at all unless you take this opportunity and do whatever you have to." And he didn't say "Joe, be polite."
- The titular Batman from the 1989 film definitely qualifies.
- The Avengers, with only Captain America as the exception. Tony Stark is an arrogant, conceited Jerk Ass with problems with authority, but his goal is to make up for his past failures. The Hulk is a raging monster who cannot tell friend from foe during his temper tantrums, but just because he doesn't like you doesn't mean he won't protect you. Thor still has shades of being a Boisterous Bruiser who smashes first and asks questions later, but he follows his heart and demonstrates Undying Loyalty to his family, friends, and to Earth itself. Hawkeye and Black Widow are agents (and former criminals) who won't hesitate to do what needs to be done. Also, Black Widow is duplicitous and very rarely shows anything real about herself. That doesn't stop the two of them from being loyal to each other and to their comrades. And Nick Fury, who employs every single dirty trick to meet his ends. Fortunately, his ends are preserving worldwide freedom.
- Similarly, the Guardians of the Galaxy. Their members are Star-Lord (womanising, cocky thief), Rocket (a bad-tempered thug raccoon who spends his spare time making bombs to blow up moons), Gamora (a cold-blooded assassin raised by Thanos, of all people) and Drax the Destroyer (who gets introduced trying to kill someone in prison, and seems genuinely surprised being a hero means you can't kill people for annoying you). What a bunch of a-holes. They do have their own exception, though, in Groot (though even he's perfectly willing to impale bad guys and smile about it). And they do save the galaxy, when they have to.
- John Rambo. He may be on the good guys side, but the mountain of corpses and Ludicrous Gibs he leaves in his wake proves he's not exactly the nicest guy around.
- While Thorin in The Hobbit is unmistakably one of the protagonists, he can often be incredibly stubborn, proud, harsh, and quick to criticize, as well as discriminating against all things elvish.
- Well, he is the stereotypical Dwarf.
- Gamera: Gamera is the Friend to All Children and a walking, turtle-shaped natural disaster to everyone else.
- Spider from Elysium.
- Chuck Hansen in Pacific Rim. The Australian may be doing everything in his power to protect and save humanity from the Kaiju, but don't expect him not to insult or sneer at the people around him, especially if he believes they're incompetent or just not worth his time. The only person he's truly nice to is his English bulldog, Max.
- Action Hero Snow in Lockout is snide, sarcastic, and deeply cynical throughout the movie. He's also constantly rude to the woman he's trying to save, including cutting her hair against her will and punching her to make her pass for a male prisoner.
- Non-Stop: Air Marshal Marks is definitely the good guy, but he has no qualms about roughing up suspects, which does little to endear him to anyone. The crew can barely tolerate him and the passengers think he's borderline psychotic.
- A Brother's Price has the Whistler family. Those in charge are Good Parents, but taking away all privileges (which includes private property) from an inobedient child is decidedly not nice.
- Arlen Bales, otherwise known as the Warded Man from The Warded Man and sequels
- Granny Weatherwax is practically the poster girl for this. In fact, it's her catchphrase. She was supposed to be an evil witch, until her "good" sister turned evil in her place. She resents her for that.
"I'm not saying she's not basically a nice person—" Magrat began.
"Hah! I am. You'd have to go a long day's journey to find someone basically nastier than Esme," said Nanny Ogg, "and this is me sayin' it. She knows exactly what she is. She was born to be good and she don't like it."
- It is mentioned that she feels that the distinction between "Right" and "Wrong" is more important than merely "Good" and "Evil". One one occasion in Maskerade she takes some pleasure in stitching up the wounds of a gang of would-be muggers using a handy sewing kit. The experience appears to be have been rather distressing for the patients.
"Let's do some good."
- To a degree, many other Discworld witches. Miss Treason intentionally dresses up the evil witch appearance even though most of it is Boffo novelty items, and can only really do her job because people fear her.
- There's also Sam "This is how you play Lawful Good you morons!" Vimes.
- Vimes is a pretty definitive one, but what about Vetinari? He's the archetypal Magnificent Bastard, ascended his position with the help of 'a few mysterious murders' and in some of the books comes this close to being an antagonist...but on the other hand, he's turned Ankh-Morpork into a smoothly-running machine with a large and efficient police force and a thriving economy. Nice? Hell, no. Good? Hmm... He also arranged things so when he dies, everything goes to hell. It makes sure he won't be assassinated, but all men are mortal, and Vetinari is a man. On Discworld.
- Even Carrot qualifies at times, such as when he kills Dr. Cruces in Men at Arms, and upbraids Colon at the end of The Fifth Elephant.
- Micah E. F. Martin's The Canticle gives us Jonathan Servitor, a merciless inquisitor serving a Corrupt Church that's all humanity has standing between it and the ravenous legions of the dead. Needless to say, sometimes he gets his hands dirty.
- To some extent, all good guys in Dora Wilk Series are not nice (except for Joshua), but Baal definitely takes the cake. He is on heroes side, but he has no problem with scare tactics, torture or almost-Mind Rape if he believes the other guy to be bad enough to warrant it. Long story short, there is a reason why he's called the Crimson Prince.
- Flannery O'Connor spawned a quote that often comes up to describe this trope; it is most commonly repeated through the form in which Walker Percy paraphrased it, when she wrote that, "tenderness leads to the gas chamber". It's a rather shocking way of pointing out that trying to be nice without first being good is a fast road to becoming a very dangerous kind of person.
- The Sword That Speaks, Kheiko, from Phenomena sometimes forces Alk to kill. Serves as one of many Break the Cutie moments for Alk.
- Jake from Animorphs grows into this over three years of leading a small force of hardened guerrilla fighters, with a serious case of "I Did What I Had to Do."
- Harry Potter:
- Severus Snape, while devoted to Dumbledore's cause and atoning for Lily's death is acerbic, strict, and apparently despises Harry, while trying to protect him all the time.
- Then there is Harry Potter himself, who spares Peter Pettigrew's life only to condemn him to what might be a Fate Worse Than Death at the end of Book 3. "He can go to Azkaban. If anyone deserves that place, he does."
- In the later books he performs two out of three ''Unforgivable Curses', the Cruciatus and the Imperius - effectively torturing and mind-controlling people. Of course he only did that to people who really, really deserved it, when they hit his Berserk Button.
- The exact extent to which the Big Good Dumbledore is a Manipulative Bastard is up to debate, but the fact itself is certain.
- Then there's Sirius Black, who himself used to be a bully to Snape when they where growing up, gave him the nickname "Snivellus" and even attempted to feed him to Remus Lupin while transformed into a werewolf. Even into his thirties, an age when most adults would put behind their childish grudges, he still is quite rude to Snape and calls him Snivellus a few times.
- Sirius also never misses the opportunity to yell at or bully Kreacher, his House Elf. In the movie adaption of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Kreacher's screen time was cut quite a bit but we do get to see Sirius' outburst of shouting "Kreacher! That's enough of your bile! Away with you!". Given that Kreacher is a two, perhaps three-foot-tall house servant and Sirius is twice his size and a wizard to boot make the scene a little disturbing. But despite all his flaws (perhaps exacerbated by his twelve years of mind rape in Azkaban and an abusive upbringing), he is still capable of feeling immense affection and loyalty, acts of great bravery and kindness, and is staunchly on the side of the good.
- In the books, James and Sirius's arrogant attitude to people they dismiss is used to Deconstruct this trope, showing what is likely to happen if a person, who is otherwise good, displays Moral Myopia or Moral Dissonance to a few others. Their condescending treatment of their friend Peter Pettigrew, admittedly a Dirty Coward, led the latter to never feel like a true friend but a toady, making him seek out, what Sirius admits, "the biggest bullies of the playground", making him a perfect traitor to Voldemort. Hermione herself points out that House Elfs show loyalty Because You Were Nice to Me, which means that Sirius' treatment of Kreacher, despite not being prejudiced against house-elves and being sympathetic himself, led to his death.
- Max Pesaro from The Gardella Vampire Chronicles.
- In C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia series, the narrator points out that many who haven't been to Narnia don't believe something can be terrible and wonderful at the same time. They are wrong. We are repeatedly warned that Aslan "is not a tame lion." As the beavers tell us in the first book, he's "good", but not "safe." There is this encounter, from The Silver Chair, in which Jill Pole, a girl from our world, encounters Aslan without knowing anything about him except that he's a very large talking lion:
"Do you eat girls?" she said.
"I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms," said the Lion. It didn't say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
- Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice and Sir Thomas Bertram from Mansfield Park by Jane Austen — Both are principled and responsible, but also stiff and distant.
- Darcy goes beyond "stiff" to "plain rude" once: when first seeing Elizabeth, Darcy says within her hearing, "She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men." Ouch.
- Aaron from Pocket in the Sea gives his best friend a roughing up and, it is suggested, a concussion to prevent him from asphyxiating himself.
- Nicholas van Rijn from Poul Anderson's Polesotechnic League stories is a greedy, sloppy, cynical, womanizing corporate executive. He also constantly saves his employees from death and disaster, often with an elaborate Batman Gambit that involves using evolutionary psychology to psychoanalyze whatever alien race is giving their interstellar trading company trouble. He is also merciful towards his enemies and tries to create win-win situations for them.
- Sherlock Holmes was often arrogant, self-absorbed, callous, and rude; subject to many theories about Asperger's Syndrome and bipolarism.
- The Night Watch.
- The main character Anton embodies this trope to a T. Especially during that section of the first book where all bets are off.
- Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time has quite a bit of this. Rand al'Thor, and to a lesser degree Perrin Aybara, want to be good and nice, but end up growing more bitter and reclusive as the series progresses. And then there are all the jerkass women, who are "good" only because they oppose the Dark One. There are also the Aiel, who oppose the Dark One, to their last breath, but have a massive superiority complex over all Wetlanders. In later books a few of the characters get annoyed with their attitudes but say nothing because they need them for the Last Battle.
- The Malazan Book of the Fallen verse by Steven Erikson and Ian Cameron Esslemont has many good-guy characters who are very disillusioned and grumpy. In fact, most of them are either this or wangsty, or both.
- In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Ghostmaker, the angel (or hallucination) that appears to Larkins inspires him to carry out his mission alone, despite his terror, but that includes prying out him the truth of his panic-stricken flight and demanding that he carry it out.
- Richard of the Sword of Truth books. Pick a book, especially a later book. He is 'good,' but has a nasty habit of killing people who disagree with him
- The other heroes are worse. Richard will only kill you. Cara will torture you first. As for Kahlan...
(after Verna orders an assassin who just killed one of their friends to be tortured by Cara)
assassin: "Mother Confessor! If you're so good as you claim, then show me mercy!"
Kahlan: "But I have, I am allowing you to suffer the sentence Verna has named, and not the one I would impose."
general: "The others we captured?"
Kahlan: "Cut their throats."
- The Lord of the Rings
- Frodo tells Gollum that he must obey him, because if not, Frodo will put on the Ring, and order Gollum to jump off a cliff or the like. This astounds Sam, who had always assumed that Frodo's goodness made him soft, and reduces Gollum to whimpering terror.
- Gandalf fits this trope perfectly, enough that it's alluded to be a general stereotype of wizards. He has quite a temper, he hates explaining himself, and he's also something of a Deadpan Snarker. But he's also the Big Good.
Gandalf: "Dangerous! And so am I, very dangerous: more dangerous than anything you will ever meet, unless you are brought alive before the seat of the Dark Lord!"
- Aragorn fits this trope too, especially when he appears for the first time, berating Frodo and getting him scared. As he puts it himself, 'I look foul and feel fair'.
- Also Denethor, who is willing to sacrifice anything for Gondor, although this depends on how "good" you consider him to be.
- The Silmarillion:
- Both Fëanor and Fingolfin fit the bill. Though where Fëanor is concerned, "good" may be debatable. He goes pretty Ax-Crazy there after awhile.
- The best example from The Silmarillion is undoubtedly Celegorm, however. He's borderline the Token Evil Teammate. He boasts such great feats as: being the only elf we know of to ever try to commit rape (on Lúthien), plotting to have Finrod (his first cousin on his father's side) killed so that he can take his kingdom, actually encouraging the Second Kinslaying as a direct result of failing to get Lúthien. And yet, after all that, he is still unquestionably, absolutely, utterly against Morgoth.
- Roland from The Dark Tower series. He desires to be kind, and whenever he has an opportunity he demonstrates it. But he always ends up in situations where he must hurt, even sacrifice those he loves for the sake of his mission. It bothers him.
- Stated fairly well in The Dresden Files, when Charity is dressing Harry's cut even though she dislikes him.
"I hear they make antiseptics that don't hurt these days. Charity used iodine."
- And Harry himself, at times.
Harry: 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.
- Even demonstrated by the Knights themselves in the same scene. When Harry leaves the room, the Knights are standing calmly in the hall, knowing full well what Harry was doing and choosing not to intervene. After all, they aren't out to judge or punish someone for taking a baseball bat to an evil bastard's knees. And they take gleeful delight in the look on the man's face when he realized what Harry was about to do, as well as Harry's parting shot: he left the man a quarter to call for an ambulance, assuming he dragged himself across the parking lot to a payphone.
Sanya: Payphones cost more than a quarter these days, Harry.
Harry: I know.
- Ebenezar McCoy, who once pulled a decommissioned Soviet satellite out of orbit to punish a vampire duke who tried to cheat in a duel against Harry.
- And in Changes, during the attack on Chichen Itza, Ebenezar kills two hundred enemy gunmen with a few gestures of his staff. He is the Blackstaff, who has an unique license to kill and use Black Magic in defense of the Council, after all.
- Morgan is not nice, or even going after the right person. However, he's loyal to a fault and his motives are most definitely Lawful Good.
- Mab, and the Winter Court in general. Normally, with The Fair Folk, Summer (Seelie) fae are seen as the 'good guys' and Winter (Unseelie) are the 'bad guys.' However, Blue and Orange Morality means sometimes nice isn't good. On the other hand, Winter are downright scary, and more likely to make threats and send things to eat your head over some offense. However, most of the fae who are on the hero's side are Winter, and in the most recent book, Mab's Training from Hell makes Harry a lot more Badass (yes, there are things out there that require Harry to be even more badass than usual. Run.) and it turns out that Winter protects the human world from The Outsiders.
- In the opening chapter of Charles Williams' Descent Into Hell, one of the amateur actresses remarks that nature is "terribly good". Playwright Peter Stanhope breaks in with "You do mean terribly?", and later notes that "The substantive contains the adjective, not vice versa. The good contains terror, not terror good." This leads into the next chapter where Pauline encounters the doppelganger, which proves to be indeed "terribly good".
- The main character in Brian Stableford's Hooded Swan novels is practically a pacifist who abhors violence and will almost always step up to do something heroic if he's called upon, including sacrificing his own life if it saves others, but he's abrasive and sarcastic, doesn't get along with anybody and either resents, insults or condescends to people trying to be friends to him, including the alien symbiote inside his mind. He even seems blind to his own heroic nature, the first person narrative is full of rationalizations of why he's no hero.
- In T.H. White's The Once and Future King, Sir Galahad is detested by most of the knights he comes into contact with, because he is far too good to be merely polite.
- The Baroness in Thackeray's The Virginians remarks: "...Let me tell you, sir, that angels are sometimes not very commodes à vivre. It may be they are too good to live with us sinners, and the air down below here don't agree with them."
- In the Circle of Magic series, Tris. It's even lampshaded by her student in Shatterglass, which makes her blush. Aw.
- Another Circle of Magic example would be Dedicate Initiate Crane. He's a Jerk Ass to everyone, even the people he speaks reasonably politely to. He kicks hard-working, earnest helpers out of his laboratory for so much as having a loose thread on their clothes. (The reasoning was justified, in that they were working with the pure essences of an incredibly virulent and thus far incurable disease. The manner in which he dismisses them, however, was not.) He automatically believes the worst of everyone, even his university friend Rosethorn. And yet he has, on more than one occasion, worked himself almost to the point of collapsing from exhaustion in an effort to find the cure for a plague and save people from dying.
- In the Tortall Universe (also by Tamora Pierce), this is frequently explored.
- Bernabus, Drust and later Grubbs from The Demonata series love this trope.
- After undergoing some major Character Development, Scorpio from the later Revelation Space novels is one of the more altruistic characters, but he's definitely not someone you should piss off.
- In the Left Behind series, God goes all out with His judgments during the Tribulation in order to bring as many people to salvation as possible before sending Jesus to finish off the hardened moral rebels which comprise the bulk of the Global Community army sided with the Antichrist as well as those who didn't accept Him as savior. However, this is not to say that God enjoyed doing this.
- Wedge Antilles is said to have cold-space lubricants for blood. He will take aside and verbally tear his subordinates apart if, say, they're too cocky or they've done something wrong. One of them who was called out at length for folding up whenever he's given any responsibility says "Every time I hear one of your 'motivational speeches' I want to beat you to death." Despite that, Wedge is a Reasonable Authority Figure of the highest caliber. Gain his trust, prove that you've learned and changed, and he will back you to hell and back. To people who haven't just screwed up, he can be very kind and understanding - but he can also be very cruel if someone steps out of line and endangers the squadron, the mission, or civilians.
- Ii-chan, the main character of NISIOISIN's Zaregoto novels, fits this trope to a tee.
- Allanon of Terry Brooks's Shannara series is manipulative, shadowy and secretive. He frequently resorts to threats and bullying, is perhaps the king of Figure It Out Yourself, and uses people like sock puppets. He's also seven feet tall, sports a Black Cloak, and is mistrusted by the vast majority of those who meet him. He's the Big Good.
- Quite a few characters in Honor Harrington fit this to a T, particularly the title character, a naval officer who is a skilled marskman, expert tactician, and unbelievably dangerous in hand-to-hand combat.
- Another noteworthy example is the President of Haven in the later books. One of her cabinet members is tampering with the official communications between their government and Manticore, hoping to game the situation so that he can take power when the current leader falls out of favor. He comes to the startling realization that he's been running with the Idiot Ball after she declares war on Manticore instead of bending over backwards to avoid it. He particularly should have seen that coming considering that she started her political career as a cell leader in a violent left-wing revolutionary organization in the Legislaturalist days, and says so in a mental comment to himself when she does blow up.
- Stated succinctly by Aivars Terekhov when he comes with a task force to the rescue of a planet rebelling against a dictatorial government, combined with a dose of Evil Cannot Comprehend Good. The people he's addressing have several seconds to contemplate his message before the building they're in is vaporized from orbit.
"Why is is that people like you always think you're more ruthless than people like me?"
- The good guys (if you can find them) in A Song of Ice and Fire, being feudal lords of a war-torn kingdom, generally fall here. The nicest of the main characters are the various members of the Stark family, who are kind enough to personally execute criminals rather than keep an executioner on staff.
- Stannis is also an example of this, at least at first.
- Herald Alberich of Heralds of Valdemar. His successor Kerowyn has a bit of it going on, too.
- Alberich is more in the mode of Drill Sergeant Nasty (having been an officer in the army of Valdemar's enemy Karse before gaining a Companion), as is Kerowyn (who was a mercenary). They're among the few Heralds who had prior military experience before gaining Companions, and it shows.
- The In Death series: Eve Dallas is good, but she is not nice. Roarke seems nicer... until you get on his bad side.
- Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: The Sisterhood/Viglantes. Each member did start out as nice, but the minute they form this group is the minute they dive into this trope. Reason 6 is certainly a factor for this, although reason 2 may possibly apply as well. The first 7 books are all about them getting Revenge on the people who wronged them. The last 13 books are all about trying to get back to their normal, everyday lives. Unfortunately, this trope gets cranked Up to Eleven so much that some of the villains actually become Unintentionally Sympathetic!
- From the Laundry Files by Charles Stross, we get Angleton, head of the Counter-Possession branch and protagonist Bob's sometimes-boss (matrix management at work). He takes a personal interest in Bob's career, makes sure he's given the best of care when he needs it, and is inhumanly effective at managing the titular occult intelligence agency to protect civilians from the Cthulhoid horrors lurking around the edges of reality. He's also scary as hell and has been known to very ruthlessly deal with anyone who tries a boardroom coup. Angleton is eventually revealed to be an Eater of Souls who was indoctrinated to pass for human in the 1930s; given the ramshackle nature of the spells that were supposed to hold him in place, Bob is sure that he's here as The Fettered voluntarily, and sides with humanity against other super entities of his own accord.
- In Derek Robinson's WWII novel Piece of Cake, the Ensemble Dark Horse is Moggy Cattermole, an Ace Pilot who has no qualms about shooting down enemy Red Cross planes, or strafing German air crews in rubber dinghies, or bullying his fellow pilots...But he's still one of the good guys.
- Made very clear in the Young Wizards series, especially in A Wizard Abroad. The Powers and their tools might be good (except for those like the Lone Power which gets complicated) but that in no way means that they're safe.
- Discussed by British statesman Lord Chesterfield in Letters to His Son #98, contrasting Cato the younger (who had this reputation) with Affably Evil Gaius Julius Caesar.
- In The Secret of Platform 13, the northern part of the Island is inhabited by harpies, hags, hellhounds and other creatures who, while not evil, are naturally unpleasant to other kinds of people. They actually serve as the Island's police force; apparently they don't need a jail, since spending a bit of time alone with these folks with reform anybody.
- The narration also notes that Nanny Brown "wasn't a particularly nice woman, but she loved babies," and seems to have done a good job raising Ben.
- In Phoenix Rising and the rest of the Jason Wood universe: how Khoros operates. He misdirects and uses everyone mercilessly. Though he usually is courteous.
- Zanna Martindale from The Last Dragon Chronicles.
- Justin Oliver from Heroics, a teenaged superhero who does legitimately want to help people but is also extremely prejudicial and rude to pretty much everyone.
- In Piers Anthony's Xanth series, the "Good" Magician Humphrey is usually rude to people who come to him for Answers (his specialty). He sets three challenges to slow down all but the most dedicated ones and then charges a year of service (or an equivalent Magic item) per Answer.
- Hoyt McCoy from The Prophet of Yonwood.
Hoyt: I am not particularly neat or clean; I am certainly not what anyone would call normal. But I am as good as anyone else.
- The Shadow counts. He may fight crime...but don't expect him to win any Citizen of the Year Awards due to his nasty and downright frightening demeanor.
- Jayfeather from Warrior Cats may be one of the most important heroes in the third and fourth story arcs, but his temper is notoriously short.
Bumblestripe: [shrugs] He snapped at Hazeltail for getting in the way, hissed at Cherrypaw for trampling on Ferncloud's moss, and ordered Foxleap and Toadstep to fetch comfrey. So I guess he's okay.
Live Action TV
- David Eugene Edwards' lyrics for 16 Horsepower and Woven Hand are heavily inspired by The Bible (see the Religion section, below). Thus, the overwhelming majority of fans find Edwards' portrayal of a supremely good God rather frightening, even though Edwards has has insisted that he isn't trying to write "dark" lyrics.
- David Byrne's song "The Gates of Paradise" is either an example of this or of Knight Templar. It's unclear how sincere the song's narrator is when he sings:
And the laws of Man are not the laws of Heaven,
and the Angels' breath is like the desert wind,
and terrorists are acting out of love, sweet love,
to bring us home again.
- A fair amount of wrestlers who are fan favorites can definitely come across as this, most especially in Darker and Edgier programming like the Attitude Era. Expect them to not only be ruthless competitors in the ring, but also expect them to intimidate referees, pick on interviewers and commentators, trash-talking their opponents, or even get into fights with other fan favorites who are just as edgy as they are. In short, they're faces who act like heels.
- A study of his matches reveals that even superface Hulk Hogan would often pull out heel moves or tactics to fight and win, even in his original 80's glory days: he was fond of back rakes (a heel move), and more than once defeated his foe by throwing 'bad powder' into their face.
- Sting could be considered this, since he is a face, but kind of a jerk.
- "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. A foul mouthed, beer chugging, asshole who hates his boss and fights for the good guys.
- Cheerleader Melissa is capable of being nice, but usually is not. She'll usually tease and taunt her peers and all but physically dissect her opponents, going well beyond the means to get a three count, and that how she's been known to treat people she likes and or respects. What she reserves for people she really doesn't like often requires them to be lead out on stretchers and yet she's spent a good deal of her career getting audience approval.
- Randy Orton. His past times include performing his finisher on women, punting a lot of people in the head hard enough to hospitalize them, and trying to kill John Cena with pyrotechnics during a match. These days, his attitude hasn't changed much, but he's just decided to use his violent tactics on Heels.
- Hell, recently he punted all of the New Nexus, Chris Jericho, RKO-ed R-Truth into a table twice, kicked Christian in the nuts because he spat in his face, and has a street fight with him on the next episode of WWE SmackDown!. Lets remember that a street fight is a no holds barred match that can take place anywhere in the arena, and Randy Orton has actually tried to use fireworks to kill an opponent. And he REALLY doesn't like Christian.
Religion and Mythology
- The Bible: God is always good, according to Himself and His prophets (His victims always never get a voice in the Bible), but even they have to admit He isn't always nice. This trope also applies to Jesus, despite how He is perceived in modern times. For example, when the temple had been turned into a literal den of thieves, He started overturning tables and drove out the money changers with a whip, and His public debates with the Pharisees frequently utilized scathing (if not also well-deserved) insults that left His opponents the laughingstock of bystanders.
- On that note, Traditional Christian Sects (Catholicism, Orthodoxy, some Protestant sects) are all over this trope. Telling your coworker when he asks if you think he is going to hell for rejecting God? That's not nice. But being nice would be lying. Paradoxically these Religions also impose social strictures that require you to put a value on personal dignity in social engagements, (particularly relevant to western civilization would be chivalry), so sometimes it is hard to decide where one should stop being nice in order to do good.
- There are plenty of examples in the Old Testament where God provides some pretty harsh punishments to the wicked and sometimes the innocent. A good, well known example being the Ten Plagues of Egypt, the last of which involves killing thousands of innocent Egyptian children.
- There are also times where God also gives His followers hardships in life if it is only to test out their faith in Him, much like what He did to Job. Of course, He will make it better in the end since He has sovereign control over everything in the universe.
- This could also be applied to His use of death as a tool. Assuming that He has the capacity to judge any soul the moment it dies (Christian canon attests to this), He can call up someone's number whenever He wants, as the Book of Job calls to attention. Under this interpretation, "Let God sort them out" isn't wrong then because God 'can't' sort them out, it's wrong because when a person does that without specific judgement, they're presuming the right to non-defensively kill another- something a human doesn't have.
- Some methods of preaching can be considered this. While some of it may be encouraging and heartwarming, some of it can be very blunt and reprimanding, especially if it deals with humanity being on a low moral scale. With that, preaching is used to scare others straight into the path of righteousness.
- Just a number of biblical figures in The Bible are this. There's Nathan who harshly rebukes David for committing adultery while leading Uriah killed in war, there's Elisha summoning bears to attack a group of young men for mocking his bald head, Samuel chastising King Saul for sparing only King Agag of the Amalekites and their animals, and there's the Book of Psalms which a lot of verses involve David praying that the sinners will be mercilessly punished by God.
- Angels. When God decided that a city shall be visited by an angel and not a prophet, it's because the overwhelming majority of the inhabitants of that city had continuously committed vile actions, in which case the angel brought utter destruction to them. Should have listened to the nice guy who sided with the poor and the downtrodden... (The first thing most angels say is, "Fear not!" That implies that angels are scary.)
- Odin in Norse Mythology is quite explicitly a lying, manipulative bastard who does very little for humanity as a whole in the short term. He's also doing all he can to avart the end of the world as long as possible and be as prepared for it as possible if he can't stop it, to the extent that he just doesn't have the time or manpowernote to deal with lesser matters, like being anywhere near nice.
- The Gods and Heroes in Greek Mythology. Like Heracles who was the symbol of the typical Greek hero, he's also a Boisterous Bruiser uses is super strength to do what ever he feels like doing, and has slain numerous monsters with his own bare hands, plus he had a lot of affairs with plenty of...people in his run.
- His father Zeus who is Big Good in Greek Mythology, who cheats on his wife Hera, and strikes lightning bolts, or cast curses on people he doesn't like, weather they deserve it or not.
- High Elves in Warhammer Fantasy. True, they are the most noble faction in the setting and have saved the world many times in history, but this doesn't change the fact that they're a bunch of arrogant, uppity and haughty bastards who patronise humans, shun their Wood Elf cousins and hate pretty much everyone else.
- As are the human domains, Empire and Bretonnia. And they are supposed to be good guys.
- Lizardmen combine this with Blue and Orange Morality. They're continuing the Old One's plan before they up and left, which is to reset the world to the way it was. They're the foremost enemies of Chaos, and many of the targets of their genocides are irredeemably evil creatures like the Skaven. Word of God has compared them to Lawful Neutral.
- Chaos. The main protagonist civilization or empire, the Revs/Union (depending on time period) really don't deny being bad people who kill, conquer, and convert googolplexes and googolplexes of innocent people on a daily basis, they simply point out that their enemies — the Archons and their servants — kill far more than even that, and are working tirelessly to ensure the destruction of ALL life and existence in ALL multiverses. They need an endlessly vast army to combat this, plain and simple, and however they get it, it's justified because of the alternative. The Revs/Union explicitly carry an allegiance to the cause of cosmic Good, but that doesn't spare from their wrath anyone who has to be destroyed in order that many more may survive and be free.
- In the table-top RPG In Nomine, many of the angels would fall into this category, most notably the Seraphim, who are blunt as a brick to the head (except when they decide to tie the truth in knots), have egos the size of California, and generally find humans annoying, and the Malakim who are serious hardcore Proud Warrior Race Guys. The only groups of angels that could be considered unequivocally "nice" from a human perspective are the Mercurians.
- In Seraphim's defense they 'are' the angels of Truth, which can be painful at times. Plus the thing that really annoys many of them is the self depreciating lies that people tell themselves. Lying to yourself is one thing but even the most loathsome demons have the good sense to tell themselves 'happy' lies. Malakim don't need to be Proud Warrior Race Guys, in fact the Archangel Laurence (who most Malakim not under Hostile A.A.s point to as their role model) is somewhere between a Knight in Shining Armor and a Knight Templar depending on how Grey and Gray Morality you want your game. Actually the most Proud Warrior Race Guy in the game is Michael and he's a Seraph.
- Dungeons & Dragons paladins, especially those who veer towards Knight Templar or the Lawful Stupid end of the scale.
- In 3.5, the Book of Exalted Deeds directly says that good does not mean nice.
- Complete Scoundrel introduces a Paladin Prestige Class called Gray Guard that is this trope. The illustration even shows a Gray Guard strangling a necromancer. A Gray Guard is a paladin who fights dirty, and can turn his lay on hands ability into a variant on the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique. Imagine Bryan Mills from Taken with a sword and a not-so-shiny armor.
- The Always Lawful Good metallic dragons are just as egotistical and arrogant as their Always Chaotic Evil chromatic cousins. All dragons, good or evil, in D&D believe they are the most awesome creatures in existence and boy does it show. They're not exactly wrong.
- Even good gods are quite apt to find a tough test for their followers — a textbook example is being sent to find a specific flower in Fire and Brimstone Hell and bring it back. Immortals of Mystara are divided only by Sphere of influence and not Character Alignment, so they have even less obligations on this side.
- Lathander is one of the most benevolent deities in the Forgotten Realms, but God help you if you're a necromancer.
- The cake goes to Rafiel — he's a caring guy in his own way, but plays with his Shadow Elf (prototype of drow!) followers The End Justifies The Means hard enough to convince everyone else he's the exemplary case of Light Is Not Good (which is a part of his plan too).
- There is also Ben-hadar, the ruler of Good-aligned water elementals. His gruff demeanor usually causes him to be perceived as an arrogant, selfish boor, so he has few allies, and most say he truly pushes the limit of what can be called "good". This is emphasized by the fact that he feuds with two other good-aligned elemental lords, Chan and Zaaman Rul (who view him as an isolationist with a repugnant personality) and maintains truces with both the yugoloth lord Cerlic and the Slaad Lord Rennbuu. Still, he opposes evils like Bwimb, who sought to pollute the Elemental Plane of Water, and maintains strong alliances with a few good entities, including Queen Morwel or the eldarin, Deep Sashelas, Eadro, Persana, and the enigmatic Water Lion.
- The Salamanders chapter in Warhammer 40,000. Absolutely relentless in battle, a chapter of Scary Black Men ( their skin becomes "onyx black" as they undergo the Space Marine transformation due to a genetic flaw) with Red Eyes, Take Warning and a Kill It with Fire fighting style. However, the good part here is from how they actually care about the people they protect and find the thought of harming civilians disgusting, even punching out another chapter master for even thinking of it. Amongst this Knight Templar Warrior Race, this respect for innocent lives is only shared by Chapters like The Space Wolves, The Raven Guard and The Ultramarines. The Salamanders and Ultramarines are the closest thing this universe has to Lawful Good and the Space Wolves are the closest thing to Chaotic Good.
- It's not actually that uncommon. The Celestial Lions are another notably humanitarian chapter, as are the Iron Snakes and presumably many of the other Ultramarines-derived successor chapters (and the majority of successor chapters are of Ultramarines stock). The majority of the first founding chapters at least try to keep civilian casualties to a minimum.
- On the opposite end of the spectrum you have the Black Templars. Definitely the good guys from the Imperium's standpoint, the hardest working and most pious Space Marine chapter. They have fought a crusade against aliens for 10,000 years, but they are willing to do things like sacrifice millions of human lives to kill an alien psyker that stood in the Imperium's way.
- In one story we see a Black Templar attack from the perspective of a simple human farmer when the battles over his farm is destroyed and he prays that they will never come back because they scared him more than the Orks they had fought. He even pitied the Orks for being in such a Curb-Stomp Battle
- The Adepta Sororitas are described as "shining examples of all that is good about humanity" by numerous Games Workshop sources. Even what are unequivocally the nicest of the Sisters, the Sisters Hospitaller who are beloved across the Imperium as saints for their tireless (and almost always selfless) medical work, will gladly torture a heretic for information and then kill them in a very painful way.
- Actually, everyone who you could consider to be "good guys" in the setting are not nice.
- To simplify things about the setting, the Imperium is the Designated Protagonist Faction, and, Depending on the Writer (or whether it's a novel or background material), its members can range from being genuinely holy crusaders to being truly monstrous. Or both at once.
- The Eldar as a whole generally fall into this trope if you get past the Values Dissonance. Their race is dying, and they're out to preserve their society and their people; they are the only faction in the setting to which a non-zero number of casualties is an unacceptable number. However, their goal is to preserve Eldar life, and they won't give a rat's ass if it turns out that they need to kill untold numbers of anyone else to save a few of their own.
- In the fan setting Brighthammer 40,000, this is the defining trait of the Lords of Order, the Mirror Universe counterpart to the Chaos Gods. They're as unarguably good and benevolent as their Canon counterparts are evil and malevolent... but they're still ultimately alien manifestations of raw human emotion that can be truly dangerous if offended or treated carelessly.
- Magic: The Gathering: White is usually the "good" color, but they're not always very nice.
- For example, the Boros Legion of Ravnica are the police and army and use a combination of White and Red mana. They're generally the ones most concerned with justice and keeping the citizens safe from lawbreakers or other such groups (such as the Cult of Rakdos). Their defining quote comes from the card Boros Charm: "Practice compassion and mercy. But know when they must end."
- Urza. In the process of trying to save his world from an invasion, he causes multiple cataclysmic events and blatantly manipulates evryone he comes into contact with.
- John Adams in 1776 definitely fits. He's an early promoter of the cause of independence ... and so obnoxious, abrasive, rude, arrogant, and snarky that he's even detested by most of his friends.
: (referring to the Declaration of Independence): Why don't you write it yourself John?
John Adams: I am obnoxious and disliked.
Benjamin Franklin: That's true John.
- Lampshaded by the Witch in a kind of reverse way in Into the Woods
You're so nice
You're not Good
You're not Bad
You're just nice
I'm not Good
I'm not nice
I'm just right.
- From the same musical, this trope is almost directly quoted by Little Red Riding Hood in "I Know Things Now."
And take extra care with strangers
Even flowers have their dangers
And though scary is exciting,
Nice is different than good.
- Elphaba in Wicked could be considered an example of this.
- Leo Frank in Theatre/Parade may be the lead protagonist but he starts out as cold and looking down at the Southerners around him.
- Squall from Final Fantasy VIII. He gets better, but still never becomes a paragon of niceness. Another Final Fantasy example is Shadow from VI.
- First appearing in Five Nights at Freddy's 2, The Puppet will viciously attack whoever makes the mistake of letting him out of his box. However, it is revealed in the sequel that he was actually the Big Good all along, and was nevertheless a bit cranky from being stopped from trying to save the souls trapped in the Animatronics.
- Gene from God Hand is a snarky, somewhat childish demon-hunter. His female protectee and love interest also shows traces of this trope.
- The Sonic the Hedgehog series has a number of these kind of characters:
- Shadow the Hedgehog after his Heel-Face Turn. His heart is in the right place, but he is aloof and apathetic which makes him come off as cold and uncaring towards people. His ego and violent tendencies also rub others the wrong way.
- Knuckles The Echidna is this. Even if he's on the side of good, his hot-temper and hostile demeanor can make others find him difficult to get along with. Despite this, he can be friendly, at least as long as he's in a good mood.
- Blaze the Cat started off as a cold and antisocial loner, but it only took Cream's influence for her to accept others, at least slightly.
- Zero from Mega Man X. He was Good Is Not Soft for the first three games, but after he has to kill Iris, he goes through a Heroic BSOD and adapts a Jerkass Façade.
- Baird in Gears of War is a complete Jerk Ass but he's still a loyal member of Delta Squad.
- Harpuia in Mega Man Zero. He's an honorable, well-intentioned Hero Antagonist, but the only people he's nice to are his siblings.
- Cody from the Final Fight series, as he appears in the Street Fighter series. After defeating the Mad Gear gang, he went on to pick fights for no good reason until he got himself thrown in prison. Even then, he not only continued to pick fights, but would break out of prison for no reason other than boredom. While his former ally Guy believes he still has a sliver of good in him, Cody will just shrug and continue being a dick.
- Yuan from Tales of Symphonia is snarky, impatient when the heroes need things explained, apparently changes sides without warning... and is doing everything in his power to save the world from the Big Bad. No matter who's in his way. In fact, it's a little iffy to label him "Good", except that he ends up (somewhat reluctantly) on the party's side, when it becomes clear that they actually might succeed... and that they're the only ones in the world with a chance.
- Asch from Tales of the Abyss takes this trope Up to Eleven. He works as a Double Agent in part of helping out the heroes by keeping them in the loop of the Big Bad's plans. The problem is, he is a verbally abusive, ill-tempered Jerkass who prefers to work alone. His fiancé isn't one to be spared from his wrath, either, even if she is the only one who can draw an ounce of anything resembling compassion from this cold individual.
- Considering he's essentially a sociopath, that he allegedly killed small animals as a child and scavenged corpses from battlefields, and that he's the Mad Doctor who invented fomicry, and that he's the one who suggests Luke kill himself to dissipate the miasma, Jade Curtiss should count too. He also spends the better part of the game mercilessly snarking at people, even in their most mentally tender moments. He's really brutal to Luke after Akzeriuth, and he's not much nicer to Guy after finding out about the circumstances of Mary's death and Guy's condition. He's much more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold than Asch is, though, but you still have to look really hard to find it.
- Doctor Magnusson from Half-Life 2: Episode Two is temperamental, impatient, and arrogant. He's also capable, in his own way, of showing genuine gratitude.
- Some players actually find it surprising and a little heartwarming that the guy thanks you, because they know it took an almost superhuman effort for him to admit that he's grateful.
- The Brotherhood of Steel in Fallout are some of the purest good guys in Fallout 1 and 3, and neutral in the other games. With some exceptions, they're also arrogant bastards who are more than willing to let innocents die in the pursuit of their long-term goals for the revival and salvation of humanity.
- New Vegas however has them gunning down unarmed humanitarians for daring to think about taking in a former member, and attacking anyone with any tech higher than a lightbulb This led to them starting a war with the other Good Is Not Nice faction, the NCR, because the NCR actually wanted to use their technology to improve the lives of citizens. By the events of New Vegas, the NCR has killed off most of the Brotherhood.
- This is a plot point; the Brotherhood had suffered Motive Decay by the time they declared war on the NCR, becoming too elitist and forgetting who they were supposed to be helping.
- Mind you, you can play your Player Character like this too, save everyone, but be a dick about it.
- The New California Republic is a post-war federation with a democratic government, a strong military, safe territories, and a very high standard of living by post-apocalypse standards. They're dedicated to the ideas of liberty, justice, and rule of law. However, their military can get heavy handed in their efforts to put down their enemies, their government is corrupt, and they do many morally questionable things over the course of the games, including hiring mercenaries to terrorize Vault City (a racist, slavery-based city state), dealing with the Bishop crime family in order to annex New Reno, hunting down Enclave members who never took an active part in the Enclave-NCR War years after it is over, using 'enhanced interrogation' on prisoners, and occasionally shooting surrendering enemies. They're still by far the nicest faction in the series.
- In the Honest Hearts DLC, we have Joshua Graham, the former Malpais Legate (now a good guy again). While he truly cares for the tribals he's sworn to defend, he is a completely over-the-top Papa Wolf who will (and has) gone to great lengths to prove that fucking with those under his protection will result in the Wrath Of God killing the hell out of you. However, depending on how things play out, you can either encourage him to take this to it's logical, ultraviolent conclusion, or help him temper his ultraviolence for a good cause with a little mercy.
- The first game gave us Set, leader of the Necropolis ghouls. Set is a massive Jerkass and openly contemptuous of everyone who is not a ghoul. However, as a leader his rule is quite righteous and just. He doesn't take violent action against those who oppose him, provides his town with clean water, allows outsiders to roam freely during daylight hours and refused to hand over the non-ghouls he claims to hate to the Big Bad. All in all, his track record is far better than that of most wasteland leaders.
- Solid Snake of Metal Gear, especially in the first game, where he's a flirtatious asshole who bluntly tells you he can't be bothered getting to know you. In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, he ends up doing some very douchey things for very good reasons.
- Raiden becomes this as of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. He genuinely wants to protect the innocent, and has a very soft spot for Child Soldiers forced into fighting like he was. But he won't hesitate to dice other cyborgs to bits. He goes into full-on Knight Templar mode when he finds out about the children who's brains were removed and put into VR training to become cyborg soldiers against their will, evoking his Jack The Ripper persona and massacring anyone who stands in his way, including (albeit corrupt) police officers to stop the bad guys and rescue the children's brains.
- Fate/stay night Archer, Archer, Archer. Almost all of the above examples apply to him. The constant switching of sides really muddies the issue of whether he's 'good' or not for a while. As a matter of fact, he's s Wild Card.
- Some of your allies in the Suikoden series can come off as complete jerks who you nonetheless respect because they're good at what they do. Shu and Zerase immediately spring to mind.
- Cenarius from Warcraft III is shown to be rather rude, arrogant, and threatening so the player will be more eager to kill him.
- The Night Elves' are another example. Rather than informing Grom that he's trespassing on their land (which wouldn't have stopped him), their solution was to launch a series of aggressive raids on the orcs. In fact, night elves' attitude in WC3 was generally "shoot first, ask questions later".
- Maiev, leader of the Wardens, got an increasingly concentrated dose of this in The Frozen Throne. She was utterly obsessed with capturing Illidan, her efforts gradually becoming more and more fanatical as time passed.
- Freaking Marietta from the Dept Heaven series. She's a Jerkass Knight Templar who spends much of Knights in the Nightmare kicking little puppies, killing you, imposing Sadistic Choices, and flat-out denying that Meria has any right to be alive at all. The only way to get her to be even slightly kind to you is to jump when she tells you to, no matter how much it grates. She's also a guardian of order and has extremely strict good intentions, sort of. To the surprise of no one, by the time of Riviera: The Promised Land she's already become a Fallen Hero.
- Jimmy Hopkins from Bully IS this trope.
- Jaheira from the Baldur's Gate sequels, where it otherwise looks like she's not living up (down?) to her obligatory druidic True Neutral alignment, is still a blunt know-it-all with no patience for people who don't happen to see things her way or who happen to annoy her through no fault of their own.
- Balthazar from Throne of Bhaal may the Token Good Teammate to the Five, who's plotting their downfall, but he still seizes control of a city and rules it with an iron fist to do so, while not lifting a finger to stop the mercenaries he hired from bullying the townsfolk.
- If You choose to play non-lethal in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Adam is Essentially Batman with cybernetics.
- Hakumen from BlazBlue: One of the six legendary heroes who stopped the Black Beast. Is a dick. Not a total one, though.
- Godot in Ace Attorney. He's an outright jerk to Phoenix Wright in court, and the three 'targets' of his prosecuting are a sweet but hapless young woman, a sweet but hapless young man, and a sweet but secretly conspiring with him young woman. However, all of his actions in the final case were either to avenge Mia, take down Dahlia, or protect Mia's sister Maya.
- Edgeworth post-Justice For All is an even better example, as his commitment to the truth doesn't always manifest itself in the most sympathetic ways. More than once in the series people have begged him not to say what's on his mind because of the damage it would do to the subject's mental state, but he goes forward anyway because the truth is never something to be turned away from.
- The moral choices in Mass Effect can be either "Paragon" or "Renegade" - and a Renegade Shepard can be a real ass.
- In Dantes Inferno the eponymous character has the choice to either "Absolve" or "Punish" the Legions of Hell he battles as a Finishing Move. The bright and shining Absolve-based finishers aren't all that much less brutal than their scythe-based Punish counterparts.
- Captain America takes a dose of this in Marvel Ultimate Alliance.
: Captain America. I'd salute, but I think my arm is broken. Cap
: Don't be an idiot. Tell me what Doom is up to, or I really will break your arm. Arcade
: You wouldn't do that, that'd be torture. Cap
: After what you did to Jean Grey
, it wouldn't be torture, it'd be justice. Now tell me what Doom wants before I do something you'll regret.
- The Warden in Dragon Age: Origins can be a good example. He or she can always choose the more Lawful Good options and save as many innocent people as possible while still being a Jerkass Deadpan Snarker to everyone they meet.
- The Grey Wardens in general fit this trope. While they seek to save Thedas from the Blight, they use rather questionable methods to do so. In particular, they refuse to tell their recruits about the risks associated with becoming a Warden until after their induction, when it's too late to back out, and are willing to burn down Blight infected villages to prevent the Blight from spreading.
- Sam Fisher of Splinter Cell, according to the manual, he has a strong belief in justice and freedom, as well as a dark sense of humour, a disturbing knowledge of ways to hurt people, and the scariest voice ever.
- Reimu Hakurei of Touhou, Shrine Maiden of Paradise, preserver of the Great Boundary, tasked with defending the denizens of Gensokyo from any threat. Also beats the everloving crap out of anyone in her way (including those who didn't have anything to do with what's happening) and has no tolerance for any disturbances, regardless of cause or motive.
- Miranda of The Legend of Dragoon. She's the First Sacred Sister of Mille Seseau, a combination of princess, general, and priestess for the people of her country. She's also chosen as the White Silver Dragoon, the holiest and gentlest of dragoon spirits. Too bad she's a raging bitch. She gets better as the game goes on, but her cynical business-first attitude puts her in stark contrast to her predecessor, Shana.
- In Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer, Kaelyn the Dove is a just, noble half-celestial that tries to do good whenever she can. However, she is obsessed with destroying the Wall of the Faithless, and is willing to do anything to tear it down.
- Malo of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess claims that even though he can't be a hero, he seeks to end the corruption and inflation in Hyrule Castle Town by bringing heroic business deals, but often acts blunt towards any unfortunate soul who crosses his path, insulting Link if he doesn't buy anything from his shop.
- From the same game, there's Midna, at least up until the first half of the game.
- Golden Sun games love this trope, the biggest example being the twist in The Lost Age that the "bad guys" we hunted down in the first game were trying to save the world. Several subplots involve other characters with good intentions but questionable methods.
- Some of the Daedra from The Elder Scrolls games may qualify as this. Daedric lords such as Azura, Meridia, and possibly Nocturnal have reputations for being less malignant and more beneficial to humans than the other lords. However, they aren't necessarily nice. Azura is described simultaneously as being cruel, but also as wise and encouraging her worshipers to love themselves as much as they love her.
- Jun Kazama from Tekken is generally portrayed as pure, however the second Tag game and the animated movie shows she's Not Good with People. Case in point, Tag 2 allows a trick to select win poses, one being a positive one, a high five, a fist bump, ect. Even with someone who Jun should like she's pretty aloof. It also helps that she's Unknown,, who does something most find rather uncomfortable should you lose to her.
- Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII starts out this way, mainly because since her parents' deaths, she has had to put her emotions aside and thinks of everything like a strategy. She manages to soften up significantly after several events where her attitude causes others pain (mainly when Odin is first summoned, when she has a flashback about her last words with Serah, and when she realizes she has encouraged Hope on his revenge path).
- Wess from Mother 3. Constantly berates his son Duster for everything he does wrong. However, the two of them were the ones whose job it was to retrieve the Hummingbird Egg from Osohe Castle, and he does help Kumatora save Salsa from the even more abusive Fassad.
- Fable 2 invokes this by having a Pure/Corrupt alignment scale in addition to the regular Good/Evil scale for player characters. Your character can become corrupt by doing morally reprehensible, but not per se "evil" actions (like drinking too much, having multiple spouses or charging too much rent), while remaining fundamentally good. The title for being both Good and Corrupt at once is "The Decadent". Conversely, a character can also be Pure Evil and obtain the title "The Fanatic" (Pure Evil is not what it sounds like, that would be the Corrupt Evil alignment, which awards the title "The Ghoul").
- In Telltale's The Walking Dead:
- You can play Lee Everett as this by picking the more snarky and dickish dialogue options, but picking the more moral actions when they are presented.
- Kenny genuinely cares about everyone in your group, excepting the members who get on your nerves. However, from Episode 2 onwards, he does a lot of Jerkass things, mostly out of pragmatism, though some out of pure anger.
- Despite being a prime example of Dark Is Not Evil, Oswald from Odin Sphere can still be cold and ruthless when the need arises. He is feared and hated throughout Erion for being a heartless butcher, after all.
- Marshall Yatish of Wildstar, good lord. If you are a "baddie" and threaten his people or innocents, be prepared to be horrifically murdered, your comrades butchered, your camp burned to the ground, and your corpses strung up as a warning to any present and future "baddies." Keep in mind he is a 3 foot high alien rabbit armed only with a spear.
- The player character of Dishonored, Corvo Attano, even when played as a pacifist, will show no mercy to his primary targets. The fates he inflicts on them range from physically branding them as outcasts, to having them sent to work in their own mines for the rest of their lives, to handing them over to a stalker who plans to keep them as his sex prisoner. Mind you, they deserve it, but death almost seems a more merciful act at times.
- The Order of the Stick: Roy to a certain extent, who, while being Lawful Good, enjoys verbally lambasting his friends and enemies a bit too much and is even berated for it by several other Lawful Good characters.
- The paladins of Azure City are pragmatic in general, cunning to the point of underhandedness when necessary. (Yes, even Miko.)
- Miko is socially inept, Lawful Stupid, and eventually jumps off the slippery slope, but she's unfailingly courageous and eager to save innocent bystanders.
- The deva who evaluates Roy's case rather easily intimidates Eugene from interfering.
- Haley has her moments, too. Those who read her origin comic may get Mood Whiplash when they see her friends again. She kills most of them without hesitation, and in many cases without them even having the chance to surrender or speak in their own defense. Mind, they're there to kill her, too.
- The same can be said, albeit in different ways, of Durkon. He's Lawful Good to the core, and weeps tears of joy when he realizes that he'll be going home to his people as a corpse. He also has Charisma as his dump stat, so even when people can understand his accent, he comes off gruff.
- Girl Genius. After Gil delineates how Zola is fairly innocuous and in danger — an idiot, but not malicious — he is questioned about whether her lack of malice is important. Producing an intimidating burst of rage that if he let every idiot die, there would be few people left alive.
- Girl Genius is pretty fond of this trope - practically all of the "good" characters are able to slip into "Evil Demented Genius" mode at a moment's notice. Agatha, Gil and Klaus would be the best examples — and are at each other's throat half of the time.
"Oh, I see where this is going. [...] I'm
the bad guy, because, for whatever reason, you
didn't tell your nasty little friend
who you are
, and now she's sad
. So you're mad at me
she's all sweet and teary and needs rescuing
, and I'M
the evil madgirl with the death ray and the freakish ancestors and the town full of minions and the horde of Jägers
and the homicidal castle full of sycophantic evil geniuses and fun-sized hunter-killer monster clanks and goodness know what else
)...And you know what? I CAN WORK WITH THAT!"
- As an even earlier example — albeit with a good touch of Beware the Nice Ones — here the very first time Gil realizes this and achieves a crowning speech of awesome (If such a trope exists?):
"I am sick to death
of this! What do I have to do
?! I just took down an entire army of war clanks, and still
get treated like a halfwit child!
, I try to be reasonable
. To be fair
. I try to talk
to people. And no one ever
takes it as anything other than weakness
. [...] Because nobody ever takes me seriously -
unless I shout and threaten like a cut-rate stage villain.
Well, you know what?
I can do
crazy. I really can
. And it looks like I'm going to have
to. [...] And show you idiots
what kind of madboy you're really dealing with!
...Oh. Oh, no. This must be how my father
feels - all the time!
- Mike from It's Walky! has this in him. He comes off as a total Jerkass until he sacrifices his life to save Joyce at the end. He also does several other heroic things before then, but that's the kicker.
- When he shows up in Shortpacked!, some of the horrible things he does end up forcing other characters to confront bad aspects of themselves, making them better people overall.
- Master Fei from How I Killed Your Master
- Raven, from El Goonish Shive, is a strict disciplinarian, quite caustic and doesn't suffer fools gladly. And will fight monsters or wizards to protect his students.
- Gilgam in The Water Phoenix King is the embodiment of this. Being Really 700 Years Old is only part of the reason; it mostly seems caused by post-war disillusionment and depression, though he was probably always sarcastic and irreverent (he was a lawyer, after all) and being the Only Sane Man (in his mind, at least) doesn't help.
- Keroff's unnamed lieutenant in Crystal Sun refuses to empathize with Keroff, the main protagonists, or anyone really, in the name of doing what appears to immediately benefit the majority.
- Aeris from VG Cats. She tends to very bluntly berate Leo for his stupidity, but often times it's for his own good. (Here's an especially classic case of this.) She's also implied-but-not-shown to hit Leo from time to time, but it's presumably based on a similar principle.
- This varies from strip to strip though. Occasionally she will become so enraged by Leo's antics that she will go back in time to erase him from existence completely. He gets better though.
- In Impure Blood, Elnor bluntly tells Roan that Fantastic Racism will continue if he doesn't act civilly.
- Rikk in Fans get a rather epic moment that screams this trope when he is laying the smackdown on Keith Feddyg. It's an interesting moment, as most of the time Rikk is easily the kindest and most level-headed character in the comic.
Rikk: Your kind always underestimates ours. You mistake good manners for timidity. You mistake self-control for passivity. So self-controlled are we that sometimes we won’t retaliate when you harm us. But if you – ANY of you – harm our loved ones – we will come at you like fanged, slavering beasts from the darkest of LSD nightmares. Believe it.
- Angels in Slightly Damned canonically tend toward good. What little we've seen of their society could be generously called a hyper-conformist borderline fascist state.
- Homestuck has a couple of examples:
- Karkat Vantas is the Alternian equivalent of the descendent of the troll version of Jesus, and Karkat himself is very, very heavily on the good side, being very devoted to his friends to an almost Team Mom-ish level at times. It is also almost impossible to have a conversation with him that does not involve him yelling colourful abuse on you.
- Also, Terezi, who is obsessed with JUST1C3 and who has no pity for evil, considers herself this. However, by earth standards, the Alternian justice system wouldn't exactly be considered good. Terezi herself is much closer to human morality, though, and would still qualify.
- Vriska also at least sees herself this way:
VRISKA: I only ever wanted to do the right thing no matter how it made people judge me
VRISKA: And you don't have to 8e a good person to 8e a hero.
VRISKA: You just have to know who you are and stay true to that.
VRISKA: So I'm going to keep fighting for people the only way I ever knew how.
- ARCHON has this in spades. Elves for instance are described as having rebelled against their original creator because they didn't want to harm innocents, yet Arglwydd has little issue with Kill It with Fire tactics and Badass Preacher Offeiriad is content to slaughter a town when they go feral and try to kill him.
- Captain Hammer from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is a Superhero who's apparently saved the city numerous times over. He's also the world's biggest Jerkass; he only even seems to do the hero gig to earn the adulation of others and thus feed his insufferable ego, and, upon discovering the secret identity of his arch-nemesis, decides to gloat and continue dating the girl of the villain's dreams just to make him squirm instead of simply arresting him for his crimes. The first time he's ever actually hurt in the commission of his heroic duties, he runs like a scared child and spends months in therapy.
- In Survival of the Fittest, Adam Dodd circa v3. Whilst he's supposedly the good guy of the series that doesn't stop him acting like a a complete prick to more or less everyone.
- V4's Aileen Borden seems to fit this trope so far. Being a Deadpan Snarker and somewhat of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold from the beginning, she tends to snark her way through events in the game, and does from time to time get annoyed with her allies. However, despite this, she genuinely wants to get as many people off the island as possible, gets worried about her team mates when they go missing and is relieved when they show up again, and gets upset at Announcement time, especially if someone she knows is named. Shame about her being a Unwitting Pawn to Aaron Hughes...
- Corporal Erik Mahren, range officer at Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe. Coarse, angry, and clinically insane after the horrors he experienced in a Black Ops group for the U.S. Defense Department, he acts like a Jerk Ass to the students. Except he'll do anything to keep students from being hurt on his ranges, and he was willing to be brutally ripped to pieces to save a teenage girl from killing herself.
- Mandana, the Queen of Goodness from Elemental Goddess is the adopted mother of the main characters (all six of them) and was/is a Magical Girl. However, she's a royal bitch who acts rude and bitchy towards everyone she meets without any provocation, even a random person who simply said hello and asked about her day, she opted to skip out of the bill at a restaurant rather negotiate or pay, and she acts more like a thirteen-year-old Alpha Bitch rather than the forty-year-old "embodiment of virtue" that she's supposed to be.
- Nyx Crossing: The natives help the group in episode 4, but in doing so, they severely injure one, tie them all up, go through their things, and abandon them before helping them.
- The Angry Video Game Nerd, but he briefly showed some compassion in the Battletoads review by letting Kyle Justin sit on the couch.
- And in the R.O.B. episode, he single-handedly defeated R.O.B. so that all the games in the world weren't limited to Gyromite and Stack-Up.
- The Nostalgia Critic may be a Psychopathic Manchild with a Dark and Troubled Past, but God help you if you were to hurt a child.
- Demo Reel. Carl Copenhagan and Quinn both have terrorist backstories and little patience for stupidity, but become part of the Lonely Together family by the end of the second episode.
- The Silver Order from Tasakeru exemplifies this trope. They feed, clothe, and shelter, and provide aid for vast numbers of Sankami's citizens in their credo to "protect life", but Gods help you if you fall outside their definition of "life"...
- Worm applies this trope to almost every hero that we get to know, but usually in a way to emphasize that they are only flawed humans with incredible abilities and more attention paid to them than normal people. It doesn't help that most people acquire powers by going through an incredibly traumatic event. The heroes who gain powers from Cauldron fall even harder into this trope.
- Armsmaster/Defiant is probably the most prominent example. He's arrogant, abrasive, unempathetic and socially-maladjusted. He's willing to take advantage of a truce to engineer the deaths of villains who are at least temporarily his allies in the name of the greater good. And yet he genuinely cares about helping people and doing the right thing, and he proves willing to at least try and improve on his interpersonal failings despite continuously falling short.
- On Tumblr, this is how anti-whitewashing, anti-cultural appropriation blogs see themselves. These blogs exist to call out Unfortunate Implications, support diversity in fiction and educate people about the negative sides of cultural appropriation, but they are generally known in the community to be rude and condescending in their responses to people sending them questions (even if most of these are Innocently Insensitive).
- In Madness Combat we have Jesus (aka Jebus). His title in episode 5 is "The Savior", he wears a supernatural halo, controls life and death (primarily in the form of zombies), tries to bring justice to the wicked, opposes the satanic Auditor, and only fights against the protagonist Hank on the grounds that Hank is a dangerous criminal guilty of murdering law enforcement officers. However, his method of "Justice" is more or less Judge, Jury, and Executioner.
- Weiss Schnee of RWBY is a metaphorical and literal Ice Queen and Academic Alpha Bitch who has bigoted opinions on Faunas (with a good Freudian Excuse thrown in though) and generally speaks to others with a snarky, derisive tone. She's still one of the good guys, however, and she's not quite nice yet but she's getting there. Yang would also count: she's the resident Team Mom, but her occasionally terrifying Blood Knight tendencies would raise a few eyebrows with some people, not to mention, to paraphrase Word of God, her idea of teaching someone how to swim is shoving them into the deep end, but at least being ready to jump in if need be.
- Slag, from the original G1 Transformers, is incredibly mean and nasty, will even attack his own comrades if they irritate him . . . and an Autobot. No one is even sure why he is even an Autobot at all, though it is implied here and there (memory fails as to specifics) that it is loyalty to his Dinobot teammates that keeps him around.
- Hell, all the Dinobots with the exception of Swoop and Sludge. None of them really like Optimus Prime for starters. Grimlock himself would gladly pull a Starscream if he could get away with it.
- Cross-universal consensus on this is that the Dinobots consider Optimus "soft", which usually results in Prime demonstrating this trope on Grimlock's head. That doesn't mean they consider a tyrannical dictatorship under Megatron or wanton murder to be good ideas.
- Lampooned in The Simpsons episode "In Marge We Trust", where this Trope even applies to martyred Saints:
Reverend Lovejoy: Hmmm. I'm a shepherd without a flock. (looks skyward) What have I done to lose them?
St. Eleutherius (comes to life in a stained glass window, surrounded by a bright light): The real question is: What have you done to keep'' them?
Reverend Lovejoy (gasps) St. Eleutherius of Nicomedia!
St. Eleutherius: That's my name, don't wear it out.
St. Bartholomew: To inspire men, you must be brave. I introduced Christianity to Mongolia. It didn't take, but it was worth a try.
St. Lucian: Tell us, good Reverend, what great deeds have you done to inspire the hearts of men?
Reverend Lovejoy: Well, I had the vestibule recarpeted.
St. Donickus (angry): I've appeared in over eight thousand visions, and that's the lamest reply I've ever heard!
Reverend Lovejoy: Oh, now please, I, I thought saints were supposed to be friendly.
St. Donickus: You ... you're just lucky God isn't here.
- Sentinel Prime from Transformers Animated. He's technically a good guy, but is also a Jerkass who hates organics and is willing to work with Lockdown in order to defeat the Decepticons
- Primus, God-ancestor of all Cybertronians in Transformers who is in the background of every subseries and universe, exhibits this quite well. His goal is to ensure that the multiverse is still here tomorrow, and will often make life quite difficult or unpleasant for mortals in the process if it is necessary for the greater good.
- Scrooge McDuck of Disney comics (such as ones by Carl Barks and Don Rosa) and adaptations such as DuckTales will never resort to illegal or underhanded means to make money (The one time he did, he ended up haunted by a zombie for several years - and Donald got chased as well several decades afterward.), but neither will he donate a single penny to charity. He'll give you a (really low-paying) job at the drop of a hat, though.
- Donald Duck too. Especially when he's put in a blatantly heroic role, such as the Kingdom Hearts series. He might be selfish and temperamental, but when you get right down to it, he's nothing if not loyal to his friends.
- Blinky Bill and his friends are sometimes considered to be worse than the Dingos. Considering that he was "toned down greatly" in the cartoon, compared to his literary incarnation, he must have been a real Jerk Ass in the books...
- Mr. Krabs from SpongeBob SquarePants can be quite the greedy, selfish jerk, even risking the lives of his fellow employee's just for the sake of making a quick buck, but is still considered a good guy.
- There was a cutaway gag in Family Guy where Peter encounters Kenneth, the bad-ass mail clerk with a heart of gold. Peter is then told by another employee that said clerk donated half his paycheck to orphans with diseases.
- From Avatar: The Last Airbender, post-Heel-Face Turn Prince Zuko has shades of this. He's only slightly friendlier than he was in the first season. There's also Aang (when he gets pissed, he turns into a cold, ruthless Creepy Child with Glowing Eyes of Doom and the Voice of the Legion), Katara (who has shown a nasty, vengeful side when someone wrongs the people she loves), and Toph (a Deadpan Snarker who cons several Fire Nation citizens and sinks a zeppelin full of Fire Nation soldiers in the finale).
- From the Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra, we have Lin Beifong, daughter of Toph and chief of the metalbending police. She can come off as overly harsh at times and appears to be a total hardass. However, she is unquestionably a good person who is trying to keep the peace and protect the innocent. This is made only more clear by her Heroic Sacrifice in episode 10 which cost her her bending.
- The spirit Raava can also be considered this: whenever Aang went on his rampages in ATLA, Raava was probably 'holding the controls.' This includes annihilating the Fire Navy, as well as her apathy towards Wan in "Beginnings."
- South Park has this in spades. Usually Kyle or Stan fits this, particularly when Cartman is the antagonist.
- The Big Damn Movie, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, has "Ze Mole." A huge Jerkass to everyone, who spews obscenities about God frequently, and goes on about how childish and naive the other boys are, but he still joins the boys to help Terrence and Phillip in the name of freedom and dies in the process. He does get better thanks to the Reset Button, though he's never had a major appearance since.
- On Invader Zim, Dib is the Hero Antagonist who wants to save the human race from an evil alien monster. And he often makes it clear that he will enjoy taking part in that alien's autopsy.
- The Legend of Zelda portrays Zelda as considerably unaffectionate; one episode has Link distinguishing between the real Zelda and the fake one by setting up a kissing contest in which Zelda's evil twin eagerly kisses him whereas Zelda herself slaps him in the face. Link assumes the real Zelda to be the one who slapped him.
- Raphael in all incarnations of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He's cool but rude. (As he himself puts it, "I don't do nice!")
- Casey Jones is like this in roughly half the incarnations. (For the other half, he's more a Knight Templar.)
- Skipper from The Penguins of Madagascar is supposed to be the main protagonist, but he's pretty coarse and violent even on his comrades.
Alligator: That looks as if it could be violent.
Skipper: If done correctly.
- Huey Freeman from The Boondocks. Although he has good intentions in building a greater American society, he is quite cynical, pessimistic, cantankerous, and has been labeled — not unjustifiably — as a "domestic terrorist".
- Benson from Regular Show. He may be constantly angry and constantly threatening to fire Mordecai and Rigby, but all he's really doing is his job. Plus, he's actually pretty friendly when things aren't out of hand.
- Batman: The Animated Series: Detective Harvey Bullock, though especially in the episode, "A Bullet For Bullock". He may be an oafish, uncouth, unpleasant cop who doesn't like the dark knight, but he is one of the few decent, completely uncorrupted cops in the Gotham PD.
- Spinelli from Recess is hot-tempered, cynical, and has a violent streak, but is still a good friend to the rest of the main characters.
- Hefty as the Smurf Of Christmas Future in The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol leaves Grouchy in the Bad Future where all the Smurfs are captured to be chased after by Gargamel and Azrael.
- In varying degrees, almost any hero on the Justice League except for Wally, J'onn, and in Unlimited, Dove. Especially Hawkgirl.
- In Samurai Jack, the Scotsman is Jack's closest ally and probably the closest thing he has to a friend in the future world. He's really not nice. In fact, he's downright rude.
- Major Monogram from Phineas and Ferb. He's dedicated to fighting the forces of evil, but he's not a very nice person, especially to Carl, his unpaid intern.
- Chad Dickson, f.k.a. Numbuh 274 was so devoted to the cause of the Kids Next Door that he willingly turned traitor and smeared his good name in order to serve as a spy. That does not detract from the fact that he became a jerk as his jealousy for Numbuh 1 consumed him. Eventually, he is so driven by his envy that he tries to kill Nigel in his final appearance on the penultimate episode of the show, despite still being loyal to the organization as a whole.