Many series with BlackAndWhiteMorality end up gradually getting more and more shades of grey as they continue on. What looks like a simple conflict between good and evil in the early installments gradually becomes more complex, and in the later installments there are many more gradations of morality. More often than not, the process is an unintentional side effect of exhausting the story possibilities of simple moral conflicts and adding less absolutely good or evil characters for variety's sake. In other cases, it's a deliberate statement by the creators about morality and conflict in general.

This can happen to entire genres: spy stories, war movies, westerns, superhero comics and so forth all incorporate significantly more BlackAndGrayMorality or GreyAndGrayMorality the longer the genres themselves are around. Also sometimes done intentionally as a means of averting or addressing ValuesDissonance in especially long-lived genres or works; the Western, for example, has changed as historical perceptions of the American frontier in popular culture have grown more morally ambivalent.

Compare CerebusSyndrome, DarkerAndEdgier and {{Grimmification}}, which can all sometimes involve this. However, plenty of works go through those tropes without shifting their basic moral scale. It may sometimes overlap with GenreDeconstruction if Black and White Morality is one of the key assumptions of the genre which the work is deconstructing. Contrast DebateAndSwitch, where a morally challenging issue is made into more of a Black And White one, or ignored.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* It's difficult for ''Manga/SoulEater'' fans to believe that the series used to be a comedy. Inclusions of MindRape, [[RapeAsDrama actual rape]], [[DealWithTheDevil deals with the voice in your head]], etc aside, the most triumphant example of this would have to be the point in the series where the Grim Reaper decides to wipe out a whole town because the Kishin just might be hiding there. [[GodzillaThreshold Eventually the Kishin could wipe out the whole world]], but the situation at just halfway through the story is that dire.
* ''Manga/OnePiece'' started out as a story about a cheerful crew of good-natured pirates who fight other, more hostile pirates and a corrupt government. A little before halfway through the story, however, we start seeing absolutely ruthless fellow pirates who demonstrate why normal people fear that word, as well as government people who genuinely have the best intentions for the populace at large. The backstory of Luffy, the protagonist, comes up around this point in the series and strongly hints that [[spoiler:he fights the government not out of a sense of justice, but for personal revenge]], totally unbeknownst to his crewmates. Meanwhile, some key people from the military have defected while some notable pirates seen before have allied with the government, each for their own reasons. Finally, there is a growing notion that this government only appears to do evil actions to prevent superweapons with [[EarthShatteringKaboom the ability to destroy the entire planet]] from falling into the hands of those who actually want to use it, most of whom are pirates, many of them acquaintances of Luffy. At this point, there are good and bad people on both sides and plenty of hard decisions people with power and/or fame must make.
* The Universal Century continuity of ''Franchise/{{Gundam}}'' underwent this as more series are written. The original ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam'' was [[BlackAndGrayMorality light-gray versus black]], with the Earth Federation being a well-intentioned government led by responsible people fighting against [[ANaziByAnyOtherName space Nazis]], even though there were heroes on both sides and a few blemishes on the Federation. As the series became more developed, the Federation became increasingly portrayed as a corrupt and incompetent institution that inevitably becomes a tool of the villains, requiring heroes (who are often rather deeply flawed individuals themselves) to mutiny against the Federation to set it right. The various Zeonic movements remain consistently evil, though their leaders are often more sympathetic than the Hitler-idolizing Gihren Zabi.

* The first ''Franchise/StarWars'' trilogy (IV-VI) had this. ''Film/ANewHope'' was like a comic book, with mostly clear-cut heroes and villains (except for LovableRogue Han Solo). In ''Film/TheEmpireStrikesBack'', we learn that Obi-Wan [[JediTruth lied]] to Luke about his father, leading to ''Film/ReturnOfTheJedi'' where Luke is told that he must kill his own father or the Emperor will win. The prequels end up being much greyer than the originals, with the heroes using ChildSoldiers and a slave army.
** The expanded universe runs the whole gamut. The first few novels are fairly light, only for subsequent ones to get darker. Then every couple of series there'll be a conscious effort to be lighter again, which in turn get darker etc etc.
* ''Franchise/PiratesOfTheCaribbean'' already starts off as GrayAndBlackMorality, but includes distinctly white characters such as Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. These characters gain shades of gray throughout the second and third movies. On the opposite side of the spectrum is [[spoiler:Barbossa]], who was mostly black in the first film but is just as gray as the other protagonists [[spoiler:after his resurrection by Tia Dalma.]]

* ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' starts off as a typical children's sci-fi with the Yeerks as evil and the Animorphs, and by extension the Andalites, as the good guys. This doesn't stick. Specifically, while some characters ([[BigBad Visser Three]] and [[EldritchAbomination Crayak]] stand out) are introduced at and stay firmly in "evil" territory, the Yeerks as a whole are revealed to be a nuanced race with a sizable peace faction, the Andalites are elitist and in some ways only barely better than the Yeerks, and the Animorphs have to go ''seriously'' grey before all is said and done.
* ''Literature/TheSagaOfDarrenShan'' series developed along these lines due to the CharacterDevelopment of the protagonist and narrator. While most of the adult vampires would admit that there was some good in themselves and the rival vampaneze, the story is told form Darren's point of view. The effect was that the act of taking blood went from a horrifying abuse of other people to everyday routine, vampire culture went from rigid and savage to traditional but noble, and even the Vampaneze, a branch of vampires who serve as the main antagonists, killing every time they had to drink blood and killing several of Darren's friends, went from being regarded as monsters to seen with a respect almost similar to that between diffrent countries or rival political parties.
* Karen A. Brush's children's book ''The Pig, The Prince, and the Unicorn'' begins as a classic Good vs. Evil Quest story, but as the naive protagonist (the titular Pig) finds out more and more about the opposing side as he journeys, at the end of his quest he's totally conflicted about whether to go through with it or not.
* The ''Literature/SwordOfTruth'' is an inversion. It starts out with a deep discussion of good and evil, right and wrong, and cause-and-effect, including black, white, and lots of distinct shades of grey. As the focus of the series switched to the war against the Imperial Order, it became a very us-against-them, black-and-white morality environment, to the point where the protagonists were doing things at the end of the series that they would have decried as evil at the beginning.
* The ''Literature/HonorHarrington'' series started out reasonably black-and-white, with the Star Kingdom of Manticore clearly the good guys going up against the bloated, expansionist People's Republic of Haven that has to expand to stave off economic collapse. The Havenites get even worse in some respects when a coup overthrows the government and the new leaders authorize policies that make the original regime seem downright benign in comparison (this is the series that named StateSec), but while that's going on, several Havenites were given rather deep characterization that showed that most of them were decent people who were rather powerless to improve things. At the same time, many Manties were introduced who were rather self-centered at the expense of others, if not downright evil; the same happened with most of Manticore's allies. Almost every faction, good and evil, has been deconstructed at some point to show that everywhere you go you'll find some bad people, some virtuous people, and mostly neutrals who are rather swayed by the people in charge. About the only groups still firmly at one end of the spectrum are the Masadans, or at least the men of power there, and those secretly in charge of the Mesan Alignment, both of which are decidedly evil.
* ''Literature/GalaxyOfFear'' has hints of this right at the start, where Hoole tells the protagonists that no, the Empire isn't a monolith of evil, but the early books still all have pretty black and white Imperial and Rebel representation. In the later books there are still loads of evil Imperials, and there's reluctance to really tarnish our heroes, but there's an Ineffectual Sympathetic Imperial and a cold but fair NobleDemon one. Some heroic characters are also forced into doing unheroic things, but a point is made that [[TearsOfRemorse these don't come easily to them]].

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' started with purely evil vampires but just one exception; over the seasons, the need for more interestingly human villains and the larger point about power the series builds to has grayer elements, like more humanly motivated vampires, and even relatively harmless but ostensibly "evil" demons. The SpinOff show, ''Series/{{Angel}}'', went still further into gray with the premises and universe Buffy originated.
* ''Series/{{Lost}}'' developed this in later seasons with the Others, whose motivations were pretty mysterious to begin with, but especially with Ben (the leader of the Others), who is pretty firmly established as a bad guy even though he constantly claims that he and his people are the "good guys" (and he's also a notorious liar). In later seasons, however, Ben becomes more sympathetic, due to both his FreudianExcuse and the fact that he's an interesting character. By the end of season five he's actually been ousted as the MagnificentBastard because of the fact that he's been manipulated by someone who appears to be more evil than he is (Jacob's enemy). Maybe. Unless Jacob is the bad guy, because Jacob is leading the Others, and they're bad...unless they're not. And of course, the island is frequently visited by people who are definitely worse than the Others, and Jacob is the sworn enemy of a guy who despite not starting as such, is said to be MadeOfEvil.
* ''Series/OnceUponATime'' eventually gives {{Big Bad}}s Rumplestitskin and Regina backstories that can give them a good argument for being TheWoobie, and ''Snow White'' commits a calculated, cold-blooded murder (albeit, it was a great case of PayEvilUntoEvil).
* ''Franchise/PowerRangers'' started out with wholesome community-minded teens vs evil [[EvilIsPetty petty]] space aliens. Around seasons six and seven it started having some villains that weren't wholly bad ([[Series/PowerRangersInSpace Ecliptor, Astronema]], [[Series/PowerRangersLostGalaxy Villamax]]) and some heroes that weren't completely good ([[Series/PowerRangersLostGalaxy the Magna Defender]]). The series has never completely stepped away from BlackAndWhiteMorality, but there's some shading to it now.
** ''Series/PowerRangersTimeForce'' was a radical shift. After Ransik lectured the Red Ranger about his origins, the Ranger was really troubled. You can seriously ask whether the Rangers are protecting innocents from monsters, or they are the armed force of a dystopian society destroying anyone not perfect. Doesn't help that the Rangers cryogenized the mutant instead of killing them, which the fandom interpreted as FateWorseThanDeath instead of mercy.
* ''Series/TerminatorTheSarahConnorChronicles'' starts out with Skynet being clearly evil and the Connors being clearly good, but the Connors' efforts to stop Judgment Day quickly make them NotSoDifferent from the robots they're fighting, to the point that they [[AntiHero openly admit to being terrorists]]. Their Graying Morality is really driven home in "Dungeons and Dragons", when Sarah [[IronicEcho repeats]] Kyle Reese's warning about the Terminators from [[Film/TheTerminator the first movie]]... but this time it applies to Derek murdering [[spoiler:Andy Goode]] in cold blood.

* BillyJoel's song "Shades of Grey" is about this phenomenon occurring in his RealLife.
* The song "Genuinely Bad" by Music/PrettyBalanced implies this with the line "There's a point at which you realize that nobody is all bad."

[[folder:Multiple Media]]
* Each iteration of the ''Franchise/StarTrek'' franchise seemed to get a bit "grayer" than the one before it; ''[[Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration The Next Generation]]'' was grayer than the unabashedly utopian [[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries original series]], ''[[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine Deep Space Nine]]'' was grayer than ''TNG'', and by [[Film/StarTrek the 2009 film]] Kirk's originally heroic archetypal traits straddle the line between heroic strengths and serious personal faults.

* ''VideoGame/HitmanBloodMoney'' has the first time 47 kills an innocent man, and he kills other innocent men later on, signaling a shift from the earlier games' morality.
* The original ''VideoGame/MegaMan'' series is fairly [[BlackAndWhiteMorality Black And White]]. The [[VideoGame/MegaManX sequel]] [[VideoGame/MegaManZero series]] get less and less so.
* In the ''Franchise/MetalGear'' series, [[VideoGame/MetalGear1 the first game]] is very straightforward: you are to stop the leader of Outer Heaven to prevent war. [[spoiler:Even though the leader turns out to be your commanding officer, it's very clear that you're supposed to stop him anyway]]. As the series goes on, it becomes less and less clear who, if anyone, is actually evil and not just a WellIntentionedExtremist.
* WordOfGod has it that this was intended to occur over the course of the first ''VideoGame/{{Geneforge}}'' game. Arguably, it's more subtly developed over the course of the series, as the rebels got more opportunities to make their arguments (and even took the spotlight in the fourth game.)
* ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquerTiberianDawn'' was very black and white, but by ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquerTiberiumWars'' the two sides are very very grey
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect1'' was a very clear-cut black-and-white sort of game, but ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' descended into the realm of BlackAndGreyMorality. ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' was comprised largely of very, very grey decisions, and even tried to make the {{Eldritch Abomination}}s a lighter shade of black.
* While many of the subplots of ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' are very gray and many of the characters are morally questionable, the central conflict is between humanity and horrifying parasitic near-mindless monsters that love rape, cannibalism, and slaughter. The expansion pack ''[[VideoGame/DragonAgeOriginsAwakening Awakening]]'' features those same monsters, but [[spoiler: some of them are not so mindless and evil, and one of them wants to stop his brethren from trying to destroy the world every few hundred years, albeit in a way that inadvertently caused the very invasion he was trying to stop.]] ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'' takes it further; the central conflict is between [[WellIntentionedExtremist factions of people who do bad things for good reasons]], most of the major characters are ''deeply'' flawed, and no one person or entity is the BigBad.
* ''VideoGame/BlazBlue'' already started with BlackAndGrayMorality, but most groups still get more nuanced as the story progresses. The mostly good Sector Seven gets more of its dirty laundry put out to air, revealing that [[spoiler:Kokonoe keeps [[NukeEm a loaded nuke silo]] [[BestServedCold as a "solution" for Terumi]] and [[UnwittingPawn aided Relius in making a core for Ignis]]]], and the upper management redeploying [[BloodKnight Azrael]]; the defecting Makoto and Noel are only onboard due to picking the lesser of two evils. Meanwhile, NOL Main Branch gets [[TokenGoodTeammate Litchi Faye-Ling]], and the Mutsuki house is unsatisfied with how NOL runs things and its leader Kagura Mutsuki is planning a coup.
* The opening scene of ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'' [[KickTheDog makes sure you hate]] TheEmpire - they're prepared to execute several carts full of prisoners, including at least one for a petty crime (and they proceed to chase him down and kill him when he tries to escape) and one (the PlayerCharacter) merely for crossing a border when they happened to pass by. As the game progresses, and especially if you join them, you come to realise that [[BothSidesHaveAPoint things aren't as simple as they seem on both sides of the civil war]].
* ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedIII''. Unlike the previous games, where the Templars were AxCrazy sociopaths and/or [[EvilOverlord megalomaniacal tyrants]] [[AGodAmI with delusions of godhood]], here most of the Templars Connor encounters are {{Well Intentioned Extremist}}s who genuinely believe they are doing the right thing and that Templar rule truly is the best course for the world. We also start to see cracks in the Assassins' claim as the "good guys" when [[spoiler:the Patriots basically stab Connor and his tribe in the back, and he is [[CategoryTraitor forced to fight them to avoid further conflict]]]].
* Almost every game in the Franchise/TalesSeries does this, with the story starting out like a typical BlackAndWhiteMorality ClicheStorm before eventually revealing the villains have understandable motives and occasionally the heroes may not be entirely good.
* ''VideoGame/SpecOpsTheLine'', a ContinuityReboot of the ''Spec Ops'' franchise, moved the series firmly into GreyAndGrayMorality territory (or EvilVersusEvil, depending on your interpretation), as opposed to the comparatively idealistic earlier titles.
* ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' was never blatant good vs evil - everyone, main characters included, have always been huge jerks at best, and "villains" were more prone to PokeThePoodle - but at least starts with clear protagonist and antagonist lines, with {{youkai}} causing trouble for selfish reasons and the humans going out to beat them up until they stop. Then ContinuityCreep and GoingCosmic happen, delving deeply into the nature of the relationship between youkai and humans. This is most apparent in the ExpandedUniverse; ''[[Manga/TouhouIbarakasenWildAndHornedHermit Wild and Horned Hermit]]'' is mostly told from the perspective of youkai and greatly humanizes them (for lack of a better word), portraying them as well-meaning and friendly, but still with a nasty streak that could come out at any time. ''[[Manga/TouhouSuzunaanForbiddenScrollery Forbidden Scrollery]]'' meanwhile is mostly told from human perspectives and portrays youkai as corruptive and malign influences that need to be kept separate from humans at all times (for the benefit of ''both'' groups), but all the most brutal and callous acts in the manga are performed by humans. And ''[[UniverseCompendium Symposium of Post-mysticism]]'' is a debate between the various powers jockeying to control Gensokyo, about the future of the region and the nature of human/youkai relationships, [[BothSidesHaveAPoint all having excellent points]] even if they're all ultimately acting from self-interest.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* ''WebVideo/CarmillaTheSeries'' Season 1 has the completely good RagtagBunchOfMisfits against the completely evil vampire coven, with one of the seemingly evil vampires being GoodAllAlong. Meanwhile the apparent villain of Season 2 is not as evil as everyone assumes, the apparent helpful character is a WellIntentionedExtremist, and the main characters [[NiceJobBreakingItHero make a lot of things worse]] and keep performing morally questionable actions just to stay ahead.