It's time for the second TV Tropes Halloween Avatar Contest, theme: cute monsters! Details and voting here.
"Zhe healing is not as rewarding as zhe hurting."
You should never trust anyone with "Bad Powers
"; more often than not they're villains, and at best
will be dark but not evil.
Instead, you should completely trust
that lovely person dressed all in white
with the happy Light based powers, like granting life to the fallen and raining down beams of judgement from the heavens
... which they're using to raise an army of undead
Believe it or not, good powers do not necessarily make you a good person. Whether it's the Empathic Healer
, Barrier Warrior
, someone with powers fueled by love
, light, or other traditionally positive Elemental Powers
, it's ultimately personality and choice that determine whether the character is good or evil. And boy, have they ever
chosen to be evil. In many ways this makes them worse than villains with "bad" powers; whereas the evil applications of say, a death touch or the ability to summon demons are obvious, someone with "good" powers has had to sit down and carefully think of ways to use their naturally beneficial powers to harmful ends.
Maybe they ask for money in exchange for healing, or outright extort villagers for payment in order to "solve their problem". Beyond this merely mercenary outlook, a Bad Person with Good Powers might use their powers for outright evil or to aid evildoers, or find a way of twisting their previously squeaky clean power (say, Psychic Surgery
) into a squicky
mean torture. Lastly, any Knight Templar
with "Holy" powers might be so dogmatic in their belief
that they twist their holy mandate into things like ethnic cleansing
of "Always Chaotic Evil
This can be considered a form of What the Hell, Hero?
), with the evil of using powers to make money varying by writer
. To put it another way, it's like a personified version of a Crapsaccharine World
, as the initial vision of someone whose powers seem well-meaning belie more heinous intent.
The opposite of Bad Powers, Good People
Compare Yin-Yang Bomb
, Cut Lex Luthor a Check
, Light Is Not Good
, Power Perversion Potential
. Contrast No Cure for Evil
. See also Lethal Harmless Powers
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Anime & Manga
- The Doctor of Black Cat. He can heal people of injuries, even going so far as to reattach severed limbs. What does he do with this power? Serves as Creed Diskenth's primary healer and resident Evil Genius, going so far as to actually outdo his master in the scope of his depravity.
- Fran madaraki from Franken Fran is an Obliviously Evil version of this. She has implausible skills as a surgeon and considers saving lives her first priority. Unfortunately for her patients, she has no idea on what acceptable quality of life means. Her sister Veronica calls her out on this in chapter 14.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Father can heal people and repair things, but he views people as being so lower than him that he doesn't care about mankind and is in fact willing to murder millions of people to achieve his goal. Bonus points for white clothes and appearing surrounded in light in the second anime.
- There's also the Gold-Toothed Alchemist who knows medical alchemy, but is a Mad Doctor who loyally serves Father because it gives him a chance to do terrible things For Science!.
- In the 2003 anime version, Dante is an expert on medicinal herbs and constructive alchemy and taught Izumi. Who hijacks bodies and would likely have taken Izumi's had she not left first.
- Played with and originally played straight in InuYasha. Sesshomaru gets Tenseiga, a sword that can heal instead of kill like Tessaiga does, to his dismay, playing this trope straight at first. But after he starts actually using his sword he gradually undergoes a Heel-Face Turn.
- Yakushi Kabuto in Naruto is a medic; he is also the Dragon Ascendant to the first major big bad, "biologist" Orochimaru, and one of his specialties is using "healing" powers to kill. Both of them use a skill that at its peak could be (and is, when Kabuto uses it) a Zombie Apocalypse. The Rinnegan is able to (among MANY other things) resurrect people without any real drawbacks, but the wielder of the Rinnegan is the Big Bad of an arc and loses it to The Man Behind the Man for the series.
- Lance of the Elite Four in Pokémon Special. He has the power to understand the hearts of Pokemon, to heal them by laying his hands on them, and he's plotting the complete genocide of all humans on Earth.
- Rezo of Slayers studied up on healing magic and got himself a wonderful reputation in the search for a cure for his blindness before Jumping Off the Slippery Slope.
- Spunky Knight has Delfas, who theorhetically could be the ultimate doctor due to his Healing Hands and mad scientist-level of technology in an RPG-like world, however, he uses such abilities to craft the ultimate sex slaves right down to being able to speed up a pregnant woman's gestation period with the intention of her giving birth on the auction block. To date, Phaia was the only one to survive the process.
- While he normally just uses his power for pure destruction, Majin Buu of Dragon Ball Z is shown at several points to be just as adept at healing as he is at killing. He even manages to give sight to a boy who is implied to have been blind from birth.
- Beyond the ubiquitous telepathy, individuals with a magical talent are rare in ElfQuest, but the most well-known sort among all tribes are healers. The series' Big Bad, Winnowill, is the most powerful healer alive; while most with this talent only know one way to apply it (lay on hands, subject gets better), Winnowill takes great pleasure in using her powers to twist and deform organisms, subjecting them to unimaginable tortures.
- Hitman has a single-arc villain called Scarlet Rose, who has the power to make roses grow. She mostly uses it to horribly kill people by making roses grow inside their bodies.
- In Hellboy, a young man named Humbert T. Jones became known as the Miracle Boy who could heal anything with just a touch. As you would imagine, he became a worshipper of a Eldritch Abomination and caused the Frog men to come into being.
- Dr Light (AKA Arthur Light), a villain from the DC Universe, is a guy using a suit that grants him light-based powers. Turns out he also is a rapist and a villain so vicious that the Justice League ended up blocking his personality so he wouldn't be dangerous anymore. Ironically, DC also has a female superhero named Dr Light, who is pretty much a good guy and has fought her evil namesake on occasions.
- Similarly to Dr Light, the Living Laser from the Marvel Universe is a guy with the power, well, to turn into a being made of pure light. And he is pretty much a bad guy, one of Iron Man's enemies to be precise.
- Elixir, a healer on the X-Men, wavers between good and bad. A lot of his problems are caused by tragedies in his life, though, and getting drafted into X-Force was Wolverine's attempt to help.
- The "Stitcher" in Push. An icy aristocratic Englishwoman with the power to heal. She seemed to enjoy the pain the healing process caused, and when paid to, had no problem undoing the healing on Nick (they can reverse their repair by touch) and trying to kill him.
- In Star Wars, Darth Plagueis was supposedly able to "keep those he loved from dying". The fact that he still had people he loved after becoming a Sith Lord was unusual in and of itself, although an alternative is that Palpatine was lying in order to ensnare Anakin.
- This may be a bit of a subversion. To the viewers, this is a good power. To the Jedi, not so much. The Jedi belief in accepting death, avoiding love, and not getting too attached to any individual. Being able to bring loved ones back from death is something that goes against everything the Jedi aspire to.
- It's in the Expanded Universe book Darth Plagueis that who those he kept alive were: His test subjects.
- The killer in Midnight Movie is an empath who uses his power to track his fleeing and hiding victims.
- In Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, Semirhage (one of the female Forsaken) was a master healer, but got off on torturing people with it. Another evil healer in the series has a signature habit of using her talents to stop hearts and boil blood. Likewise, Graendal (another female Forsaken) is so good at Mind Control because she was a psychotherapist (though unlike Semi, she used to be a nice, if annoyingly ascetic, person).
- Perverted talent is rather a big thing among the Forsaken. Mesaana started out as an excellent teacher until she went bad (after being refused some kind of prestigious research appointment), at which point she used her talents to instruct children in acts that make the most fanatic of the Hitler Youth look like amateurs. Ishamael had an unrivalled knowledge of philosophy as it applied to the battle between Light and Dark, and used it extensively after joining the latter. While the ability to access the World of Dreams is used extensively by the Aiel Wise Ones for positive ends, the Forsaken Lanfear and Moghedien prefer to stalk people, give them nightmares, and possibly enslave people's minds... and Ishamael may or may not have used it to destroy some poor sap's soul.
- In Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle, the main character's mother is described as having once killed a dozen highly trained soldiers; her only weapon was knowledge of a healing spell. How did she do this? Well, she "healed" the assailants of everything that drove them to kill... and then slit their throats with their own daggers. This works because the Language of Magic runs on Exact Words.
- In China Miéville's Perdido Street Station and other novels in that universe, there are professional magic users, thaumaturges, some of whom have impressive healing powers as well as the ability to perform transplants/surgery without risk of harming a patient. Unfortunately, this is a Crapsack World, and many thaumaturges with such powers are vile sadists. Instead of using their powers to heal, they play a role in the legal system, Remaking criminals as punishment for their crimes (i.e. painfully turning them into horribly disfigured biological or technological mash-ups).
- Used in Bones of Faerie. Liza must learn that the magic of the faerie is not evil in its nature, but how it is used.
- Done in great depth in The Dresden Files. However, its inverse is subverted: using powers for evil means you believe that's justified and it makes you believe even more that it's justified. That feedback reaction is why Warlocks are almost invariably killed, because having started down the wrong path, its incredibly hard to come back. There are only two known examples; an enigmatic Necromancer who used her powers to save people, and the Blackstaff, the White Council's super secret break-the-laws-of-magic enforcer.
- But as Harry keeps agonizing over, even mostly-good people can use good powers for evil, and start down that slippery slope.
- Additive and Subtractive magic aren't inherently good or evil in the Sword of Truth, but because nobody was being born with Subtractive magic, the only people who have it were ones who had made deals with the Keeper, and they are evil.
- In H. Beam Piper's Paratime universe, narco-hypnosis can be used by those who are trained in it, like Dalla Hadron, for things like retrieving lost memories or easing grief over a loved one. It can also be used by agents for intertemporal criminal gangs to program assassins.
Live Action TV
- Linderman from Heroes has the power to heal, but his goal is to blow up New York. He usually uses his power to manipulate or control people by giving, withholding or revoking healing.
- Gideon from Charmed is a healer and a well respected Elder. Unfortunately, he turned evil and tried to kill Wyatt and managed to kill Chris. He didn't so much turn evil as become a Well-Intentioned Extremist—Wyatt was set to become the Evil Overlord of Earth in the future, after all.
- In an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deanna Troi meets a man who is a quarter Betazoid, which makes him empathic like her (Troi is half Betazoid), and he uses that to win in political and economic negotiations. Troi calls him out on it, but he fires back that he's just using his natural abilities, that in his case all he's dealing with are property transactions, and that it is Troi who has an ethical problem because she uses her abilities to help her ship defeat enemy vessels and kill people.
- Lost Girl features a Dark Fae who's a Landwight. They are nature spirits who take over a plot of land, and anyone who eats the food that grows there will gain incredible good luck. Being a Dark Fae, though, means that this Landwight has no compunctions about using humans as plant food.
- This is one of many potential elements of Exalted. There's absolutely nothing preventing a person from becoming exactly this, and in fact, there are mechanics that make it a likely conclusion for most, as exalts fall prey to power and hubris.
- Or starting that way. Even Solar Exaltation has as its only requirements that the human in question be (usually) physically fit to wield power, inclined to use the full power granted by Exaltation, and not want the complete destruction of Creation. You don't have to be at all good - just usable.
- One of the possible weapon enchantments in Dungeons & Dragons is "merciful", which causes a weapon to deal a little more damage, but all of it nonlethal. Some sourcebooks recommend merciful weapons as torture devices, since they still hurt but don't leave scars or cause lasting harm. And the enchantment requires the Cure Light Wounds spell.
- And if the party hasn't got a cleric, expect healers to charge for their help or ask favors. Death Is Cheap, but Raise Dead is an expensive spell. Sometimes good clerics will do this "at cost."
- Belial, the father of the lady of the fourth hell (Fierna), was originally known as Belial the Merciful and appeared to use his healing powers for good. What he was actually doing, and still does do, is torturing and raping people then healing them and repeating the process until he had cracked their minds and made them his willing slaves.
- One of Ravenloft's Darklords, Sodo, had this as a side effect of his Dark Powers' Provided Curse: take a guy (or doppelganger, in this case) who loves murdering via strangulation with his own hands, then make his touch not only healing, but also one of the few minimum-risk means to resurrect someone. (The victims usually come to thinking they woke up from a nightmare)
- With some work, a healer can be built that creates a pool of the elemental plane of positive energy on the material world that not only heals someone past full but eventually causes them to explode from life energy.
- Where in earlier editions paladins and clerics were expected to stay within the boundaries set by alignment and the strictures of their faith on penalty of potentially losing their powers by straying too far, 4th edition does away with this by making being invested with the power to work divine magic very much a one-time event that the god(s) in question can't then simply take back at whim. This makes it entirely possible for divinely-powered characters to eventually stray from their faith in any direction while keeping (and possibly expanding on) their old powers, at least until their former fellow followers take sufficient exception to do something about them in person.
- In Magic: The Gathering a major Big Bad, Yawgmoth of Phyrexia, was once one of the greatest healers in existence.
- In the prequel tie-in book that his origin is covered in, we find that he was actually a great surgeon, not someone using healing magic, and the distinction is made clear from very early on. That being said, surgery is still (usually) considered a healing art.
- He was also a con-man, prone to introducing plagues specifically so he could heal them, and prone to fishing for sympathy based on the fact that surgeons were persecuted as scapegoats for a recent war. If he was a typical surgeon, they probably were responsible for starting the war.
- In Warhammer has Aekold Helbrass his special ability is the breath of life, and has the ability to heal himself and others around him. The catch is he's a champion of Tzeentch, who kills people with devotion and glee.
- Genius The Transgression has Thulian Revanchists, who have access to the improving and healing Axiom of Exelixi. No Cure for Evil Does not apply.
- Redcloak semi-lampshades this at the bottom of this Order of the Stick strip. "Healing? No, they're going so they can zombify our dead. We're the bad guys, remember?" The moment where the 'good' powers of a cleric are used, however, are seen later when the clerics turn out to be entirely competent healers.
- Like all clerics, Redcloak has the ability to heal people (though evil clerics can do so less readily than good ones). In one strip he mentions that he will have to heal his captive O-Chul...so that he can survive his daily session of torture.
- Miko Miyazaki, a Paladin from the same series, is overzealous, prejudiced, and dangerously violent when given even a suspicion of wrongdoing.
- Rich Burlew describes a group of people in Start of Darkness as "good people who do bad things". He is likely referring to the Paladins' attempted genocide of the goblin people, as well as Redcloak (who ends up becoming much more malevolent by the end of the comic) and his band of goblins.
- Kore from Goblins is a paladin, which is supposed to be a paragon of Lawful Good behaviour. And yet he routinely exterminates anyone from a "monstrous" race he comes across whether or not they are harming anyone or even if they themselves are innocent. He even puts down people who have associated with monstrous races to prevent them from developing sympathies with them. Word of God has stated repeatedly that Kore is a paladin, and there's a reason he still has his powers.
- He uses Lay On Hands to heal Chief - in order to torture him, so Chief's screams draw the other goblins out of hiding. That said, his magical aura is a little... unusual.
- Penny Arcade shows how it's done.
- True Magic has the Priests of Lucideus, the Light Bringer. They stole the his power and began a reign of terror over the land. And set people on fire.
- The Bitka Spirit Father from Dominic Deegan - the most powerful wielder of the Akta, a force for life and healing, among the orcs of Maltak. He's also a fanatical xenophobe.
- Her Imperious Condescension from Homestuck has the ability to extend life. She is also... well, herself.
- In that vein, the attributes given to players don't always correlate very well to what they do with those powers once they have them, and can in fact be subverted depending on the player's class. Vriska is a sometimes sadistically cruel hero of light (although the term appears to be synonymous with luck in-universe), and her light-aspect dancestor Aranea goes from being basically good-hearted and harmless to being a Well-Intentioned Extremist. Of course, those pale in comparison to Eridan, whose class as a prince combined with his use of the hope aspect mean that he uses bright-and-shiny powers to destroy hope.
- Cheesecake, a member of the Vandolls from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, uses the Power of Love to burn out the brains of men, and then follows this trick up by feeding on their souls.
- Worm uses this along with all the various related tropes to drive home its divorce between powers and the person's moral nature. Probably best seen in Bonesaw of the Slaughterhouse Nine who is young, cute and has implausible science powers in seemingly any biological field. She can perform impossible surgeries and even bring the dead back to life if their body is intact, unfortunately she has no apparent sense of morality and her idea of fun and interesting is...bad. Very bad.
- Panacea is terrified that she is doomed to become this despite -or perhaps because of the psychological strain of- her massive healing powers.
- Cytherea, at Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe. As the avatar (or reincarnation or something) of Aphrodite, she has the powers of the goddess of love. Which she uses to manipulate men, get herself out of trouble when she gets caught doing bad things, avoid work, cheat in her classes, etc.
- Umineko no Naku Koro ni has an example of this: Bernkastel, aka the Witch of Miracles, who can make ''anything'' happen as long as the possibility of the event occuring is greater than 0. She starts out seeming to be good, or at least neutral. Then she reveals her True Colors, and reminds the audience that she never said that her miracles had to be good or bad. Guess which ones she favors?
- Kirei Kotomine in Fate/stay night is the Big Bad of two routes and mostly responsible for the third. He's in it For the Evulz, throws swords around, kicks puppies, tries to use the Token Mini-Moe to destroy the world and is a member of both the Church and the Magi's association, which is apparently a supreme heresy for both organizations or something. Oh, and the only magic he has any talent for whatsoever is healing wounds, as well as possessing the ability to exorcise unnatural entities. He's very good at healing people. In fact, he saves Sakura's life in Heavens Feel because he knows she's essentially 'pregnant' with the devil and that if he saves her, Shirou will probably protect her and then she will unleash Angra Mainyu on the world and destroy it.
- Adventure Time : One episode sees baby piglets (in cute costumes, no less) using magic wands that fire glitter and rainbows. They happen to be very, very, evil.
- Similarly to his comic counterpart, Dr. Light in the Teen Titans animated series was a villain who while not a rapist, still had no problems abducting a super-powered teenager in one episode to exploit her as a power source for one of his machines. As to add to the irony, he also suffered a traumatizing experience when he was victim of Mind Rape... by Raven, who is a Half-Demon with a case of Bad Powers, Good People.
- The Star Sapphire Corps in Green Lantern: The Animated Series started out as a group of beautiful women dressed in pink who use the Power of Love. Except their conception of "Love" is to imprison their true loves in giant crystals so they won't get hurt by the outside, and put a Mercy Kill on people whose true loves are already dead. Fortunately, they get better.
- Zig-zagged with Michael Morningstar in Ben 10: Alien Force. In his first appearance, he uses light-based powers characterized by a gold colour. He turned out to be a villain, but he actually gets his energy by draining energy from schoolgirls, turning them into zombies in the process. After the girls turned against him and devoured most of his energy, he is left with dark energy-based powers. He does get back the golden version whenever he drain enough energy from something, though.
- The Legend of Korra:
- Unalaq, from season 2, has a natural affinity with spirits and specializes in a Waterbending technique used to purify and appease spirits. He also happens to be the Big Bad of this season, trying to fuse with an Eldritch Abomination so he can basically become The Antichrist.
- Airbending is the least offensive and most spiritual of all the elemental abilities. Most airbenders are naturally pacifists. Season 3 gives us Zaheer, who shows us what airbending can do in the hands of a determined villain. And it's quite horrific.
- Master Brightmore in Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters, while not evil, is the least sympathetic of the Duel Masters, despite being the Master specialized in Light Civilisation Creatures. He turns evil at the end of season 1.
- Dark-mirroring Shining Armor and Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, The Great and Powerful Trixie is briefly able to use Barrier Magic to temporarily banish Twilight Sparkle, thanks to the power of the Alicorn Amulet.
- Played with in Grossology with Kid Rot. Since everything he touches withers and dies, he initially believes himself to be a good guy with evil powers. However he soon learns whatever he rots becomes a hyper effective compost that causes plants to grow at a ridiculously fast rate and realizes his powers are quite good given the possibilities of this. Then the source of his powers, a parasite spreading throughout his body, begins to alter his mind and turn him into a psychopath, landing him firmly in this trope.