Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side. [...] There is no crime, absolutely none, that cannot be condoned when ‘our’ side commits it. Even if one does not deny that the crime has happened, even if one knows that it is exactly the same crime as one has condemned in some other case, even if one admits in an intellectual sense that it is unjustified — still one cannot feel that it is wrong. Loyalty is involved, and so pity ceases to function.
A trope whereby some in-universe group moral standard is portrayed as being hypocritical because the morality of actions depends entirely
upon the identity of the actor(s). If it's us
who do it then it's clearly justifiable and excusable
— though it's not a good thing just because we do it
. If others
were to do it (especially
if it harms us!) then it's clearly unjufistied, inexcusable, and evil
. Protagonist-Centered Morality
is the trope for when it's not the creator's or narrator's intention
to portray the group moral standard as being hypocritical, but it can be seen that way anyway.
The originating group may be royalty
, a Proud Warrior Race
, The Beautiful Elite
, Scary Dogmatic Aliens
, a close family
, or fervent nationalists/patriots
, but the attitude is all the same: they are justified in taking anything and delivering Disproportionate Retribution
upon anyone who would take anything from them. Lack of Empathy
is on full display; everyone else is a nonperson, subhuman
, fair game. (Some may realize that non-members will attempt retribution, even if they deem it wrongheaded; others, however, are shocked at attempts at punishment
If you ever accuse them of being evil and demand that they justify their actions — if they even feel any need to justify something to an outsider — don't expect any remorse about their Dirty Business
, or even admissions of villainy, whether regretful
. These are likely to spit at you that they do not subscribe to your idea of "evil"
. After all, they claim, how many good men would speak against murder as the ultimate evil — only to, if they found out a loved one committed it, make excuses for them
and let them get away with it if they could? What's more, how many do-gooders actually feel remorse for all the minor evil minions
they kill to save the world? How many so-called "heroes" will laze in their tents
and turn a blind eye to the villain's actions
, ignoring the treatise of evil being allowed to exist by their inaction, until he makes the mistake of hitting their Protectorate
It is the most common cause of Curious Qualms of Conscience
. It's also likely at the root of many if not most Double Standards
In a very generalized sense, this line of thinking could be said to be behind every
criminal act, petty or otherwise. People who are otherwise quite reasonable can decide they need that stolen money just a bit
more than people who "earned" it, that it was okay for them to physically assault an asshole they didn't like (because he was totally asking for it!), or to take the law into their own hands and murder someone who had wronged them. It'd be a crime if anyone else did it, but they needed
to do it.
See also Species Loyalty
, Ape Shall Never Kill Ape
, A Million Is a Statistic
, Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters
, Moral Dissonance
, Never My Fault
, It's All About Me
, The Right of a Superior Species
, Tautological Templar
, and Would Be Rude to Say "Genocide"
. Super Trope
to Revenge Myopia
. Likely to be at best a "gray" in Black and Gray Morality
, Grey and Gray Morality
, or White and Grey Morality
. When the writers seem to wholeheartedly privilege the protagonists this way, it's a case of Protagonist-Centered Morality
. The Cannibal Tribe
may employ this to avoid self-depopulation while also refusing to abandon cannibalism.
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Anime & Manga
- In Y: The Last Man, "Ring of Truth", 355's archenemy Anna Strong sends a couple of her lieutenants to kill her and she (355) quickly dispatches both of them. This triggers the Mama Bear in the arch-villain, who then proceeds to attack the heroine in full on moral outrage and revenge mode.
- Batman villainess Poison Ivy frequently reacts this way to her beloved plants being pruned. Gaia save you if you use weed killer. Meanwhile, she kills one or two humans per appearance.
- Lewis Prothero in V for Vendetta had worked in a death camp with no remorse, but was very protective of his dolls.
- One of the Irish mercenaries in Sin City gets angry at Dwight for killing his fellow mercs... despite the fact they were trying to murder Dwight.
- Example from Superman's rogues gallery - after Kryptonians destroyed Amalak's homeworld, he went on a centuries-spanning rampage, killing any and all Kryptonians he could find, even those who had nothing to do with the genocide of his people. He didn't mind innocents getting caught in the crossfire either.
- The X-Men villains the Children of the Vault are pretty open about their ethical beliefs:
Rogue: So it's a crime to kill your people.
Rogue: But not to kill mutants or humans.
Cadena: That's just pest control.
- The man who had Catman and Cheshire's son kidnapped in Secret Six calls Catman out on this. He bluntly states that their son could never have had a happy life growing up with Cheshire and/or Catman since both of them are murderous criminals. He also notes that neither of them have the right to play the victim card since Cheshire is a mass murderer who nuked a country and Catman doesn't care about that. Catman is forced to concede these points, and he decides to leave his son to his new life and tells Cheshire that he is dead so she won't try to look for him herself.
- Speaking of Secret Six, Deadshot invokes this trope to Lady Vic, a fellow assassin who once threatened Deadshot's daughter in order to get him to stand down. "A job is a job. And I would have done the same thing. No, we ain't clear."
- A humorous example was Howard the Duck's enemy Doctor Bong, who years after his conflict with Howard, attacked She-Hulk, thinking she was a bad influence on his five genetically-cloned offspring that he was raising as his sons. (He thought she was causing them to find violence attractive; sure, fighting her is going to prove it isn't, right?)
- Art Spiegelman's Maus tells the story of his father Vladek's survival of the Holocaust, and the horrors his endured for being a Jew. Yet as an old man, Vladek thinks nothing of acting racist toward blacks.
- Back when the Apartheid government was still in power in South Africa, several storylines in Bloom County addressed it. (Portraying it in a negative light, of course.) In one such storyline, the strip's resident Jerkass Steve Dallas (who was not particularly racist, but really didn't care about the issue) had to bail his sister out of jail after she and her sorority had been arrested in an anti-Apartheid protest that had turned violent. After listening to her reasons for doing it, Steve scolded her by pointing out that her sorority refused to admit blacks; something she was unable to reply to.
- Lampshaded in the Back to the Future fanfic Back To The Future Prequel by Doc, who wonders how Hank can care so much about Doc accidentally hurting his sister while being completely unconcerned about threatening Marty.
- The Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S example is lampshaded in Relationships Series when Lindy (gently) reminds Nove that Cinque's injuries happened because she attacked on Scaglietti's orders, but that people can forgive her because in her heart, she now understands this and regrets it.
- Natsuki, who has no pretensions of being a paragon of morality, admits to this in Windows of the Soul, regarding Umi Tsuda, the fiancee of a First District member Shizuru had killed, and who, in the fic, tries to kill Shizuru. Natsuki admits that what Shizuru did to Umi's fiancee was terrible, but while she understands why Umi would seek revenge, she cannot agree or sympathize, simply because if Shizuru took away someone close to Umi, Umi is now trying to take away someone close to Natsuki.
- Chatoyance's The Conversion Bureau stories have the ponies and PER doing very questionable if not outright villainous actions. At the same time, they excoriate humanity for doing the exact same things. Even if those actions are done in defense of humanity.
- An old MLP:FiM Dark Fic called The Glass Salvo has Equestria declare war against humanity for being too violent and bloodthirsty. Never mind that the Equestrians launch a totally unprovoked attack against Earth to do so.
- Checker Monarch, the villain of Getting Back on Your Hooves is perfectly willing to exact a convoluted plan to ruin Trixie's life (in retaliation for Trixie trying to be happy because they're sisters and Checker hated sharing the spotlight with her in any way) that runs the risk of financially ruining the Apple family, because doing so won't cause any trouble for her. A little later she is enraged (a later attempts to seriously wound or kill Rainbow after a Villainous Breakdown) at Rainbow Dash's ruining said plan by failing to act according to Monarch's predictions, despite Dash's being a completely unwitting pawn in the whole affair. Specifically, she expected Dash to lash out at filly-aged Trixie. Bear in mind that Checker Monarch is, very intentionally, a complete sociopath.
- In Perfection Is Overrated, some of the SUEs follow this ideology, caring about those they care about while being willing to inflict suffering and death on everyone else for the sake of their goals and the former groups- and this is them at their most moral. The only exceptions are Mariko and Hitomi (who has no morals or people she cares about).
- Escape from the Hokage's Hat: Danzo doesn't want anything bad to happen to Konoha. He has zero problems doing this to other villages to ensure this. Kakashi preaches that you don't abandon your allies or you are worse than trash yet when Sasuke does just that (and is promptly hit by Laser-Guided Karma) he mopes about everyone hating Sasuke for it.
- Dead or Alive 4: The Devil Factor: When Dante reveals his fratricide of Vergil to Ayane, the latter, despite having wanted to kill Kasumi for years, finds herself nauseated at that information. Indeed, her hatred of Kasumi actually begins to waver at that thought.
- The Lunaverse:
- The Apples have this about their monopoly. They see it as okay to do whatever it takes to maintain their stranglehold at others' expense and Luna help anyone who dares get in the way. Applejack at least seems genuinely clueless about why it's a bad thing and appears convinced that they couldn't survive without it, but Apple Bloom is decidedly hostile whenever someone brings it up.
- Discussed in Carrot Top Season. When Trixie tries to dissuade Carrot Top from helping look for the foalnapped Apple Bloom, CT guilt-trips her by saying that she wouldn't have the same attitude if it were Dinky who fell victim.
- In A Midsummer Night's Dream chapter 9 the griffon ambassador expresses displeasure about not being told about the arrival of Midsummer Night and its pilots. Yet when Celestia reminds him of his own nation's similar obligations to inform Equestria of unusual activity, he tries, however clumsily, to worm his way out of it.
- Renegade Reinterpretations explores this with regards to canon's portrayal of Morinth, suggesting that 'If Bioware hadn't tried to play the emotional anvil by having Morinth's only victim with a face be apparently the only young, pretty, white, harmless, nice virgin girl on the pit of vice and sin that was Omega, and instead let it be some Omega crime boss who caught Morinth's notice for his inner-fire, most people would find the exact same character a lot less evil.'
- Legacy Of The Rasengan:Naruto: A angry Naruto calls Sakura out on this. He points out that for all the times he and other people have tried being good friends to her, Sakura just keeps brushing them off for Sasuke. He also angrily points out how she never thinks of how her actions affect the people around her but doesn't care as long as she impresses Sasuke, which isn't helped by the fact that the reason he's chewing her out is because she impulsively broke into Naruto's apartment and stole his scrolls (even in context it isn't justified).
- Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness:
- In Act III chapter 24, when Apoch and Astreal regain consciousness after getting beaten up by Inner Moka, they're instantly terrified at the sight of her and scream about how she's going to kill them. As Inner Moka points out, they have little room to talk since they almost killed Yukari beforehand.
- The original Jovian and Jacqueline who served as Hokuto's Co-Dragons absolutely thrive on pain, violence, and mass destruction... as long as they're the aggressors, not the victims. Case in point: in Act IV, Jovian had previously killed the original Apoch in cold blood during Act III and spent several chapters of Act IV going on a massively destructive rampage through Tsukune's hometown alongside Jacqueline For the Evulz, but in Act IV chapter 28, the minute Apoch and Astreal successfully kill Jacqueline, Jovian completely drops all pretense of playfulness and starts spamming Wave Motion Guns at the Ezranas in an Unstoppable Rage.
- After accepting her role as Dark's guardian angel/mother figure in Act VI, Arial insists that Mizore isn't good enough for Dark in part because Mizore doesn't respect her; considering the fact that Arial had previously nearly murdered Mizore in a jealous rage, stole her engagement ring right off of her hand, and is continuing to be a complete Jerkass to Mizore despite all of her attempts to reason with her and win her approval, Arial has literally done absolutely nothing to deserve any respect from Mizore.
- The summary of My Little Unicorn: if Starfleet does morally questionable acts, it's cheered upon and never acknowledged (except for Ace Ray), if Titan or the others does morally questionable acts, they deem them immediately evil.
- The Executioner: Mack Bolan notes this tendency in one novel. A team of Mafia hitmen is sent to murder undercover cop Leo Turrin, but instead find their advance team dead. Bolan listens to them ranting and raging about how Leo will die a slow and agonizing death for this "treachery", reflects on the hypocrisy involved, then proceeds to slaughter the lot of them.
- Played for laughs in the Discworld novels: Nanny Ogg is proud to admit that one of her children was stealing lead off of the opera house roof because "It isn't a crime if an Ogg does it."
- The same goes for the Ogg clan in general. While Nanny Ogg will stand for (and encourage) fighting, backstabbing and general competition within the family, the second anyone from outside the family tries this against them there'll be trouble.
- In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novels First & Only and Ghostmaker, the Jantine Patricians and Sturm and Gilbear, respectively, regard non-aristocratic troopers — such as the Ghosts — as cannon fodder and disgusting.
- A Patrician general directs artillery fire where he knows Ghosts are, killing hundreds of them, after they captured in a day a fortress the Patricians had tried to storm for months.
- And if Gaunt was a normal Commissar he would have shot them all (which he can, he can kill a Lord General, as long as he has a good reason).
- In William King's Warhammer 40,000 Space Wolf novel Space Wolf, the Grimskulls were deeply embittered that the Thunderfists captured their settlement, enslaving their women and children. They went off, licking their wounds, and were lucky enough to find another settlement which they could overrun, killing all the men and enslaving the women and children, which they regard as a god rewarding their perseverance with a prize. They recovered there, and went back for revenge on the Thunderfists for their terrible crime.
- In one The Dark Tower book, witch Rhea sends her pet viper up a tree to drop down and kill Roland. It tries, but Roland's too quick and blasts it out of the air. Cue Rhea screaming with rage at him for killing her pet, while Roland quite rightly points out that she's the one who sent the snake to his death.
- Repeated with marginally more sympathy in the last book, since Mordred is a sentient being and Roland's son, and dying of food poisoning. He's still a vampiric werespider trying to eat Roland on the Crimson King's orders, though.
- In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Gods of Mars, the therns are horrified by the fate of thern women taken by black pirates (deduced by their never taking men alive).
"Is it not a just retribution?" I could not help but ask.
"What do you mean?"
"Do not the therns themselves do likewise with the poor creatures who take the voluntary pilgrimage down the River of Mystery? Was not Thuvia for fifteen years a plaything and a slave? Is it less than just that you should suffer as you have caused others to suffer?"
"You do not understand," she replied. "We therns are a holy race. It is an honour to a lesser creature to be a slave among us. Did we not occasionally save a few of the lower orders that stupidly float down an unknown river to an unknown end all would become the prey of the plant men and the apes."
- Extremely common, and explicitly acknowledged, in The Sword of Truth. According to the heroes (and therefore by extension Terry Goodkind himself), as long as the other guy started the fight, then everything you do to put him down is justified. In fact, they claim, it would be immoral of you not to be completely merciless in utterly destroying someone who's attacked you. If you leave them alive, they'll just go off and attack someone else, and then it'll be your fault. It also gives you free rein to destroy everyone connected to them, because it's their job to defend those people, and by attacking you they've made them targets.
- Discussed in the Mario Puzo novel Omerta. A mob boss and his daughter are arguing over whether the death penalty is right or not. While she takes the typical view that no one has a right to kill anyone else, he shoots back that they don't have a right to grant mercy either if they haven't been affected by the offender's crimes.
- In Guy Gavriel Kay's novel Tigana: Brandin comes down with an epic-scale case of this. Punishing a person for killing his son? Would have been relatively OK. Punishing the country that was on the other side in the battle where his son fell? Not so much. Erasing the country's name from history and exiling or enslaving its population, for killing his son, in a battle that only happened because he was invading? Welcome to this trope.
- It's also noteworthy that Brandin's favoured son was leading an army to kill the people that happened to kill him. And that he does get revenge against the man who killed his son. He just keeps going!
- Harry Turtledove's World War series has The Race, a race of lizard-like aliens who come to Earth during World War II to add the planet to their empire. Because their kind are so slow to change, they think everyone and everything should fall within their own standards. For example, they refer to Earthly religions as superstitions, but believe in their own version of Heaven as fervently as any human true believer. Later in the series, they pitch a fit when some mice accidentally get set loose on their home world and start causing ecological damage; when a human points out that they intentionally brought their plants and animals to Earth which are causing quite a bit of damage themselves, their response is "That's okay, because we're the ones who did it."
- This is actually a frequent theme in all of Turtledove's work. You'll often have a character revile the actions of the others side when his side is doing the exact same thing. And just in case you missed it, he'll helpfully point out that the character doesn't notice his own hypocrisy.
- This is the Race's hat. One of the main Race characters is a "landcruiser" (i.e. tank) driver who revels in the thought of rolling along in his impenetrable armor and obliterating the savage Tosevites (their word for humans). Then a sniper kills the tank commander (who is looking out of the hatch), causing the driver to throw a fit at this injustice. It's perfectly ok for the Race to kill while invading, but not for the damned savages. Another lizard is a "killercraft" (i.e. fighter/bomber) pilot, who loves shooting down the comparatively slow and weak human aircraft and bomb the living shit out of humans. When he's finally killed by a nuke exploding nearby, his last words are "Not fair!"
- Their justification for why their own Emperor-worship is different from Tosevite superstitions? Their entire species, as well as the two races they conquered, have believed this for tens of thousands of years. If they were wrong about their afterlife, don't you think they'd know by now?
- This, naturally, happens in reverse too. A secret attack by Americans destroys several colonization ships of the Race with thousands of peacefully-sleeping colonists aboard. After the truth is exposed, the Race retaliates by nuking Indianapolis. The person who revealed the truth is reviled by everyone for being fair. Everyone else's attitude is that Species Loyalty and My Country, Right or Wrong are what he should have followed, not unbiased fairness.
- Despite generally portraying the bad guys as acceptable targets, there is a moment in The Lord of the Rings (just before he first sees an "Oliphaunt") when Sam witnesses an enemy soldier from the south being killed in battle by Faramir's men. For a moment he wonders whether the man was truly evil or was he forced or fooled into the war, and whether he had a family and what his name was. Sam is glad that he couldn't see the dead man's face. This different attitude probably comes from the soldier being a human rather than an orc.
- Averted much earlier in the book, when Gandalf and Frodo discuss Gollum:
Frodo: He is at least as bad as an orc, and deserves death.
Gandalf: Deserves death? I daresay he does. And many that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be so quick to hand out death in judgement.
- The difference between attitudes towards orcs and humans arises several times during the books. In the aftermath of each great battle the surviving humans who fought on Sauron or Saruman's side are given the opportunity to surrender and be taken captive, treated with respect and eventually sent back home unharmed, and their dead are given decent burial, while the orcs are killed to the last man and burned in pyres. If they're ever given the option of surrender, we don't hear of it.
- A couple of orcs actively engage in a case of it in The Two Towers. The orcs from two different strongholds come to check the path through Shelob's lair after Frodo and Sam fight her, and Frodo is apparently killed by her sting. When the leaders get together and talk things over, one scornfully condemns Sam leaving Frodo behind as "a regular Elvish trick." However, a few minutes later that same orc tells about how one of his men was stung by Shelob and they came across him still alive and captive in her webs sometime later... but didn't even try to rescue him because it wasn't worth the time, effort, or the risk of earning Shelob's wrath. Both orcs get a good laugh out of the story without ever drawing a connection between the two incidents.
- In a story from The Case-Book Of Sherlock Holmes, a man conceals his sister's natural death so he won't lose access to her fortune until after he cleans up at the horse races. He defends his actions to Holmes, insisting that he did nothing that was disrespectful of the dead, even keeping his sister's body safe within the family crypt. Nobody points out that he'd first had his servant drag a body that was already in the tomb from its rightful resting place, burn it in the stove piece by piece, and then throw the ashes out with the trash.
- In Robert E. Howard's "The Phoenix on the Sword", Conan the Barbarian is shocked that the ghost of Epemitreus comes to him when he is an outlander and a barbarian; he helps Aquilonia. Epemitreus explains that Aquilonia's fate is tied to Conan. OTOH, what Epemitreus is doing is helping, so arguably isn't something an outsider could demand by right.
- In "Shadows In Zamboula", the locals hide when their cannibalistic slaves rove for prey and don't care about the foreigners who get caught.
- The Ilse Witch in The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara wants revenge on the Druid, Walker, for supposedly killing her family (her Evil Mentor actually did it). She can't understand how anyone could want to help a murderer like Walker. And is totally oblivious to the number of orphans she is creating in her quest for revenge.
- Explicitly spelled out for Senna of Everworld. She sees no problem with selling out the main four characters to Hel, but when her mother sells her out to Merlin, she...doesn't take it well.
- Pretty much the stock in trade of the Yuuzhan Vong. Jedi kills one of your family? Foul, heretical murder that demands vengeance in the name of the gods, usually in the form of slaughtering their friends, family and everyone they ever met. This is a direct result of their psychopathic religious teachings, and they get better. Eventually.
- The Chinese and Russians in Dale Brown books. To them, it's perfectly fine to throw their weight around,commit atrocities and break treaties. If the Americans remotely try to stand up for themselves? It's imperialist aggression! If Pat McLanahan shows them the error of their ways they whine like babies throwing a tantrum.
- Done various times in Honor Harrington books. For example, in Echoes of Honor, a State Sec general eagerly anticipates a deadly vengeance on Hades's prison-breakers for killing his comrade and friend, wilfully ignorant of the atrocities the wardens have committed.
- Explicitly stated as a fact of official policy by the Solarian League. A prime example is the reaction to the destruction of Admiral Byng's ship. "Who cares if he just destroyed three of their battleships who didn't even have their shields up! They just attacked one of US! This is an act of WAR!!"
- Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: This definitely happened in the book Payback. When three men wearing presidential gold shields give Jack Emery a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, Jack goes to his girlfriend Nicole Quinn and gives her a What the Hell, Hero? speech. He basically accuses her of bringing this on him just because he snooped around on her business and tells her to go to hell. She in turn gives Charles Martin the same type of speech for calling in those men on Jack. Charles responds by pointing out that she only cares because they beat up her boyfriend, and that she wouldn't care if they did that to someone she didn't know. She ends up admitting that he has a point.
- Vlad Tepes in Count and Countess. As a kid, he was fairly ethical, but as an adult, he seems to live by a bizarre code of standards that changes to fit whatever mood he's in.
- In Jane Austen's Love and Freindship, Sophia and Laura's concern extends solely to those they approve of — those, in fact, who act like characters in a novel. They abuse Sacred Hospitality by persuading a man's daughter to run off with a fortune-hunter and steal from him with clear consciences.
This discovery she imparted to me; and having agreed together that it would be a proper treatment of so vile a Wretch as Macdonald to deprive him of Money, perhaps dishonestly gained, it was determined that the next time we should either of us happen to go that way, we would take one or more of the Bank notes from the drawer.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone bring us this gem:
Neville: You can't go out, you'll be caught again. Gryffindor will be in even more trouble... I won't let you do it. I'll — I'll fight you!
Ron: Neville, get away from that hole and don't be an idiot —
Neville: Don't you call me an idiot! I don't think you should be breaking any more rules! And you were the ones who told me to stand up to people!
Ron: Yes, but not to us.
- In Griffin's Daughter, Sadaiyo is convinced his younger brother Ashinji is the source of his unhappiness. Without him around, the people (and more importantly, their father, Lord Sen) would give him the love and honors he "deserved." Completely oblivious to the fact that the people hate and fear him because he's The Evil Prince.
- A Song of Ice and Fire definitely has a lot of this with many of the different factions, in fitting with the Gray and Gray Morality of the Crapsack World. Possibly the best example of this is the exiled Daenerys Targaryen. She is fiercely loyal and kind to those she cares about and tries really hard to be a good ruler. However, she still wants to return to Westeros and reclaim the throne because she considers it rightfully hers, and wrongfully taken from her father. Never mind the fact that her father was widely known as the "Mad King". The only instance where her conviction is shaken a little is when she confidently declares that she holds Ned Stark and Tywin Lannister equally responsible for the Lannisters' slaughter of her brother's infant children. This is because "If a child is set upon by a pack of hounds, does it matter which one tears out his throat? All the dogs are just as guilty." But then she hesitates when she remembers that one of her dragons killed a child, and that by her own standards she is responsible for that. Note that in this world of feuding nobles who get huge numbers of peasants killed for their honour or ambition, this counts as a moment of extreme self-reflectiveness, and few of the other characters (even the "good" ones), ever seem to truly consider the damage they cause unless it affects members of their own family or people under their protection.
- The Host: To the Souls, having the host gain control of them and thus erase their identity is considered a Fate Worse Than Death. The Souls doing this to their hosts is, of course, nothing of the sort. This comes with the territory for a race of puppeteer parasites.
- The Fairy Godmother: Alexander starts off with a severe case of "anything a noble like me does is fine". Trying to trample a crippled old woman under his warhorse's hooves? A reasonable tactic. Being transformed by the not-so-crippled, not-so-old Godmother he just tried to kill, and dragged off for lessons in being a decent person? She's obviously a peasant, which makes this totally unforgivable. She quickly breaks him of this thought process.
- In Poul Anderson's "Time Lag", though they justify it because they are overpopulated, Chertkoi seizes planets without the slightest concern for the inhabitants. Bors derides the people of Vaynamo both for trying to negiotiate and trying to fight back. (Though he does show some signs of Evil Cannot Comprehend Good, since he wonders why they do not seize the Alfavala land for their own use.)
- The Count of Monte Cristo has this as a trait of Edmond. The Vampire Count Of Monte Cristo takes it up to the eleven.
- In Gifts, Ogge Drum steals two valuable cows from Caspromant, which Canoc Caspro politely but incontrovertibly calls him on when visiting Drummant (he has to "steal" them back anyway when the visit goes sour). A year or so later, Ogge attacks Caspromant for the "theft" of the cows.
- In Tanya Huff's Smoke and Mirrors antagonist Creighton Caufield expresses the disgust over protagonist Tony's homosexuality that one might expect from a moralistic person from the early-20th Century. Indeed, he explicitly states that "Homosexuality is against the law of nature". The fact that he's the ghost of a necromancer who feeds off the energy generated by tormented captive souls as part of a bid to become a Lovecraftian Eldritch Abomination somewhat undermines his claim to rectitude however.
Live Action TV
- In the series Doctor Who, River Song enters a brief state of this in Series Six. She states that being forced to kill The Doctor would cause her to suffer more than the rest of the entire universe when reality and time itself collapsed. The Doctor snaps her out of it.. To be fair, she did feel tremendously guilty over what she's being forced to do, to the extent that her older self tried to shoot her in a moment of rage, despite the fact that River knows better than to interfere with her own timeline so blatantly.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer the Mayor, normally too upbeat to be overly concerned about the deaths of others, goes into a rage when Buffy critically wounds Faith.
- Who, for that matter, thinks killing humans is wrong. Unless it's someone who's tried to kill Angel, then she'll go through said boy toy if that's the only option she has left. Then tell Willow that killing a multiple murderer is wrong.
- Bear in mind that Buffy was not attacking Faith out of revenge, but because Slayer blood was the only cure for the poison that Faith had infected Angel with.
- Captain Crais of Farscape swore a blood oath to kill John Crichton for "intentionally" killing his younger brother. The circumstances were such that his younger brother accidentally collided his ship into Crichton's shuttle as the latter was expelled from a wormhole; the collision itself was harmless, but caused Crais' brother to hit a nearby asteroid while spinning out of control. Interestingly, despite Crichton, Aeryn, his XO, and numerous other people telling him Crichton is at worst guilty of involuntarily causing his brother's death, Crais has said he doesn't care. In the first Season Finale, he admits he was mostly concerned for his rapidly waning career.
- This is how the Cardassians viewed the Bajorans (and likely everyone else) in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Gul Dukat in particular claims that it was obvious that the Bajorans were inferior technologically, culturally and socially, and that their biggest problem is that they would not just accept their role. He also seemed to be very shocked and angry when Cardassians were killed by Bajoran terrorists, but was significantly less concerned with the lives of the Bajoran slaves on Terok Nor. Admittedly he claims (and it's likely he is telling the truth, given his Pet the Dog moments) to have improved conditions for the slaves, but he seemed pretty clear on the whole "Bajorans need to learn their place, they only bring suffering on themselves by not acquiescing" mentality.
- His one-time subordinate Damar gets called on this near the end of the series. After learning the Dominion has killed his wife and son, neither of whom were part of his rebellion, to punish him, he is outraged that they could be so cruel, bemoaning "What kind of people would murder innocent women and children?" Kira simply parrots back "Yeah, Damar. What kind of people WOULD DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT?". The look of guilt and shame on Damar's face as he recognizes the parallels to the occupation of Bajor is enough to almost make her apologize for reminding him of the truth.
- Supernatural: Dean's attitude towards the possibility of Sam turning into a monster or otherwise being abnormal: he's perfectly willing to kill strangers who might go darkside, but simply refuses to do so with his brother even when presented with clear indications of this happening, because he (pretty literally) couldn't bear to live without him.
- In season seven, a Kitsune who saved Sam in the past had managed for years to get by without killing humans by working at the morgue. When her son gets sick, she is forced to go vigilante on the lowest scum of society to tap their brains and nurse him back to health, but when he's healthy again she stops instantly. Dean still kills her under the logic 'You killed once, you'll do it again'. No one, not even Bobby points out about all the times they had to kill monsters to save a loved one. Hell, to kill the Queen of the Monsters, Dean had to kill a Phoenix for its ashes. Unsurprisingly, Sam, barely holding on with Lucifer (or at least a convincing hallucination) messing with his head, eventually tries to make Dean feel better by agreeing he did what he had to.
- In the Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) episode "Resurrection Ship Part II", Chip-Six is enraged that the Colonials will "murder" thousands of inert spare Cylon bodies when they destroy the eponymous Resurrection Ship. "God will never forgive this sin." She of course doesn't seem to care that the Cylons had murdered billions of living, breathing humans when they nuked the Colonies.
- Caprica-Six's Baltar hallucination actually calls her out on this: that Cylons are awfully fast at glossing over the genocide they committed and accuse humans of horrible crimes while preaching their god's love.
- Later, in the beginning of season 3, Cavil whines like a bitch that, after being left to die slowly by the people he had rounded up en masse to be shot to death in cold blood, he had to crawl over to a piece of shrapnel and sever an artery so he could resurrect, which caused him to suffer a migraine. Never mind the fact that, as a Cylon, he's directly responsible for the deaths of several billion people, none of whom have the luxury of resurrection, migraines or no.
- Despite some improvement in this area, the Cylons display this trope a lot. Cavil saying they were even and 'No harm done' after granting the fleet a temporary reprieve (Adama's replying being You completely annihilated our race and destroyed our civilization), D'Anna saying how humans don't 'respect life the way we do', Cylons complaining about torture by humans despite horrific medical experiments among mundane torture they have committed, and on and on and on.
- Cavil (again) takes the cake when his motivations are all laid out late in Season Four. Cavil believes he can convince the Final Five of the righteousness of his desire for revenge, painting it as a human versus Cylon conflict, despite: 1) The Five created Cavil and the other humanoid Cylons because they wanted peace with the humans. 2) The Thirteenth Tribe is many centuries and generations removed from Kobol, and the Five don't have the emotional baggage that Cavil does. 3) The humanoid Cylons of the Thirteenth Tribe enslaved their Centurions, and thus are guilty of the same crimes Cavil won't forgive the humans for. Cavil is incapable of noticing any of this, and is only 20% successful in his attempts at conversion. To top it all off, he enslaves the Centurions as well.
- Aaron Doral exemplifies this trope. He regards humans with nothing but venomous disdain and reacts with disgust when suicide bombers kill Cylons and Cylon supporters. He views Them as savages who "Lack nobility". He then holds a gun to Baltar's head and forces him to sign a document that will allow Cylons to conduct mass executions of innocent civilians in retaliation.
- Babylon 5:
- The Minbari were very bitter at John Sheridan for nuking the Black Star (one of their warships) during the Earth-Mimbari war, calling it cowardly. Granted, using a distress signal to lure the Black Star within nuking range could be considered dishonorable, but it's kind of hard to feel badly about the Minbari's one major defeat of the war for a few reasons.
- Sheridan actually was trying to call for help, the minefield was a precaution in case the Black Star got there first. The ambush was just a convenient use of it.
- The Minbari had technology way above what Earth could muster allowing them to make turkey shoots out of any space battle.
- The Minbari did not take prisoners and the Black Star was only closing in specifically to finish Sheridan off.
- The two species were engaged in a genocidal war caused by a diplomatic incident which highlighted both sides' crummy First Contact protocols. All in all the Minbari don't have much of a case for Sheridan being anything other than a good commander.
- This is actually invoked near the end of the movie, but it's easy to miss because of the Minbari's tendency for slightly flowery dialect-Delenn openly discusses the ridiculousness of claiming to be undertaking a "holy" war as the Minbari grow very close to Earth. The other council member she's talking to, who has previously been incredibly war-mongering about the entire situation, is visibly tired and dejected with it by this point but can't bring himself to admit it. Later, Delenn tells the Vorlons that everyone is so tired of the killing that even he would stop if there was just some reason to give everyone for doing so, meaning Moral Myopia is, indeed, a hard thing to overcome even when you're aware of it, and having an excuse to do so is far easier than admitting you're suffering from it.
- The Vorlons and Shadows also have a pretty dim view of anyone who isn't like them. It's extremely bad in their case, because they don't even remember why they're doing what they're doing anymore, they just want to prove they're right and the other side is wrong.
- Bester definitely qualifies. In Season Five, he seems to take "The Corps is Mother, The Corps is Father" seriously, and (at least seems) to show fellow teeps genuine fatherly tenderness. When mundanes are involved, however... He even gleefully justifies his attitude by pointing out that normals are far more numerous than telepaths ("Mundanes breed like rabbits" are his exact words), so the death of a normal is no big deal.
- Interestingly the Centauri seem to be less guilty of this than some. Mainly as they don't claim they're virtuous in the first place.
- They do when the subject of the first Narn occupation comes up. As far as they are concerned, they were helping the savage primitive. G'Kar, who watched his father be executed for resisting the occupation, is quick to call bullshit on this.
- In "Midnight on the Firing Line," the first regular episode, Londo asks G'Kar how the Narn can justify attacking a peaceful Centauri farming colony. G'Kar responds "Curious, we asked ourselves the same thing when you invaded us. The wheel turns, does it not?"
- Not that G'Kar is immune to this either, especially in the first season. Sinclair and Sheridan are just as quick to call him out on his "they started it" attitude. Getting over this is in fact a major part of his Character Development.
- In the fourth Blackadder series, General Melchett is utterly enraged when Blackadder cooks and eats his pet pigeon, and sentences Blackadder to death in a comically ridiculous Kangaroo Court. However, in another episode, it's revealed that he ran over Lt. George's pet rabbit when George was a child and is completely callous about it, both when it happened, and when he talks about it in the present.
- And, of course, there's the obvious Moral Myopia involved regarding Melchett being driven to self-righteous fury over the death of a pigeon while callously sending hundreds of thousands of men to their deaths in the mud and trenches every day driven home in the last episode when Blackadder at last goes over the top with his men to die.
- Melchett again, this time on the topic of spies. British spies are loyal, heroic men serving their country and all deserve medals. German spies are cowards who use underhand tactics and deserve to be hanged
- One that stands out in Noah's Arc is based on Ricky's protectiveness of Noah. Ricky makes it clear that if Wade so much as looks at another guy, he'll have Ricky to answer for. Yet when Noah cheats on Wade, not only does Ricky not call Noah out on it, he actually is upset with Wade over leaving Noah for that.
- Jeff accuses Duncan of this in the pilot of Community. See quote page. Since Jeff himself is also a near-perfect example of Moral Myopia at this point, he's also being more than a little hypocritical.
- Smallville: Lex Luthor. If it happens to him it's unforgiveable. If he does it to someone else, it's business as usual.
- And not just him either, in fact this can be considered pretty much the underlining basis of the series. The heroes actions can usually be broken down into one of two categories. Either the hero does something horrible “Because They Had to”, but will react with revulsion when the villain does the same thing (Oliver Queen). Or the villain will do something sending the hero into a Knight Templar-like revenge only to turn around and do the same thing (Lana Lang, Tess Mercer).
- David Brent of The Office loves making fun of people, but can't stand when anyone does the same to him. He tries to make up reasons why what he's doing is okay, but what other people are doing is hateful and mean.
- Mossad Director Eli David on NCIS is a prime example of this. Send agents on illegal missions to spy on his allies, murder their civilians and government agents, and try to kill their law enforcement officers when caught? He's just doing what he has to do. Kill one of his agents in self-defense when they resist lawful arrest? It's an outrage that must be paid for in blood!
- Also Paloma Reynosa. Years before the show, Gibbs killed her father. Naturally, she wants revenge, same as her brother in the Mexican justice department. That said, her father was a drug dealer who killed Gibbs' first wife and daughter, she's aware and doesn't care, and her revenge would involve killing everyone associated with Gibbs before killing Gibbs himself.
- In the Burn Notice episode "End Run," the Arms Dealer Brennen, whose entire M.O. consists of I Have Your Wife, is shocked and appalled that Michael would send an assassin to kill his daughter if he doesn't leave Michael alone. (Michael hadn't really done that, being The Hero and all, but he bluffed well.)
- In Breaking Bad, Walt personifies this trope. He is very protective of his family but is willing to lie, cheat, manipulate and even commit murder when he or his family is threatened. This is embodied in Season 3 when he forces Jesse to murder Gale (who, despite being a meth cook, was completely innocent and harmless) so Walt became too important for Gus to kill. Season 4 ends with him poisoning and nearly killing a child to carry out an elaborate murder of Gus, which was Walt's crossing of the Moral Event Horizon.
- The gangsters in The Sopranos could rival the Cylons for this trope. Most are willing to commit multiple murders to protect Their own, even when They have committed terrible crimes, such as Tony protecting his cousin from the New York families and putting his friends in danger even though his cousin murdered one of Their men (though that was only because Tony wanted him not to suffer, which he almost certainly would have at Their hands). It reaches its peak in Season 3 when the bosses admonish Tony for beating up Ralph after Ralph had just brutally murdered a twenty-year old stripper who was pregnant with his child. The sole reason is because she was not related to him and thus not important in Their eyes. Ralph then acts personally offended and demands an apology and compensation, completely ignoring the fact that he just killed a completely innocent girl in cold blood.
- All in the Family: This is how Archie judges himself. In his mind it is totally okay to lie and cheat just to get his way and he'll take great offense at being called on it, to the point where it seems he's forgotten he's lied in the first place.
- On Glee many characters fall under this trope at one time or another but none more so than Finn. He cheats on Quinn with Rachel, he's just confused. Quinn cheats on him with Puck, unforgivable. Rachel cheats on him with Puck, it's the worst thing anyone could do. He facilitates Quinn cheating on Sam with him, he just has unresolved feelings for her. Someone outs Karofsky, horrible nightmare scenario. Finn outs Santana, it was for her own good.
- 24: In the penultimate season, Jack confronts former agent Tony Almeida with the fact that everything he's done to get Alan Wilson in revenge for the death of his wife endangered innocent lives and all he's doing is glorifying her death. Then in the final season after Renee Walker, whom he'd just started to become intimate with, is killed as part of a Russian coverup and the President betrays him by refusing to expose it since she needs it hidden in order to preserve a peace treaty, Jack snaps and winds up following the same path Tony does. He takes it upon himself to murder the conspirators in revenge and begins endangering innocent lives by drawing them out in the open. Oh, and he nearly starts World War III because of it. Yet during most of this even after admitting that he is just in this for personal revenge, he attempts to justify his actions by stating that in in a world this fucked up his way is the closest thing to a right way.
- In an episode of Stargate Atlantis, the Genii have taken over Atlantis during a powerful storm, during which the city was evacuated. Commander Acastus Kolya personally shoots two Atlantis guards upon arriving, even though the original plan called for capturing them. When Sheppard kills two of Kolya's men sent to kill him, Kolya is outraged, even though Sheppard says they're even now. Kolya replies that he doesn't see it that way and pretends to shoot Weir. Basically, this is the Genii's hat. They believe they are above anyone else and that the ends justify the means. During their first encounter with Sheppard and his team, Teyla ends up leaving one of the Genii to die aboard a Hive-ship after he kills several trapped people to accomplish the mission. Naturally, the Genii don't give a shit about what he did, only what Teyla did. However, later on, the new Genii leader does get on friendlier terms with Atlantis after they save a number of his people (including his sister) who are dying of radiation poisoning.
- It happens to the main characters too. A season finale involves a preemptive strike on the Asurans using powerful nukes that devastate much of their planet. The Asurans almost immediately retaliate by striking at Atlantis. Needless to say, the main characters are pissed off at this.
- Not exactly like that: The ships the Asurans were building, were intended to attack Earth (it is even specifically stated as such by Shepard), and while the main characters were against the decision wich was made on earth, they acknowledged the preemptive strike was the only viable option. Their objection to the Asuran retaliation came more from the surprise that Asuran have actually survived, and while not without merits ("we only attacked you cause you were going for Earth") it does come off rather hypocritical.
- In Crisis Francis Gibson is betrayed by his CIA superiors who threaten his daughter. So he has others' children kidnapped as part of an Evil Plan to expose the government's corruption.
- Meta-example: Music/TLC's hit single "No Scrubs," a lyrical litany of reasons to reject a man (first and foremost among them being if he cannot afford his own vehicle, forcing him to "[hang] out the side of his best friend's ride"), was followed up with "Unpretty," which complains about how men make women feel bad about themselves for petty and shallow reasons.
Mythology and Religion
- In general, the Greek gods would rain retribution down on mortals (or each other) for things they would cheerfully do themselves. As one example, Zeus was famous or infamous for his many infidelities, yet would savagely punish anyone who so much as looked at Hera (or any of the other major goddesses.) The goddess Calypso later called Zeus and the other male Olympians out on this not that it did any good.
- In The Bible, Laban and his family see nothing wrong with cheating Jacob out of Rachel, forcing him to work 20 years for them, enriching themselves on his labour in the process, and Moving the Goalposts ten times. But when Jacob prospers despite their attempts, they think he's stealing from them and get angry, leading to God telling Jacob to get a move on.
- Also from The Bible, the prophet Nathan manages to force David to see his own crime (sending Uriah out to be killed in order to steal his wife) as others see it by retelling the story of his own deeds to him in disguised form. Until The Reveal prompts a "My God, What Have I Done?", David's righteous outrage at the cruelty of this horrible guy Nathan's just told him about is an example of moral myopia.
- The famous "First they came..." poem by Martin Niemoller:
First they came for the communists,
And I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
And I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
And I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me,
And there was no one left to speak out for me.
- Hulk Hogan (and just about every face wrestler during the WrestleMania era of the WWF): When they engaged in rulebreaking and the same behavior to defeat rulebreaking wrestlers, Gorilla Monsoon usually portrayed it as "turnabout is fair play." Also, several male wrestlers beating up Sensational Sherri when she tried to interfere in Randy Savage's matches. When the heels broke the rules, they would be called every bad name under the sun, particularly by Monsoon and Vince McMahon.
- During a classic Saturday Night's Main Event promo, Hercules – during his early heel run – once cut a sly promo suggesting the above ... the good guys get away with bending or breaking the rules, but when he (and his rulebreaking friends) step out of line, they are harshly condemned.
- John Cena to ridiculous lengths. The long version: Money in the Bank ladder matches main event pay-per-views and are even called historic events—but only when, and explicitly because, John Cena is in them. A babyface attacking another babyface whose championship he wants or vice versa, or who he's otherwise understood to be in a rivalry with anyway, is only considered a Face-Heel Turn on the part of the attacker—when the babyface attacked is either a part-time legend or John Cena, and the attacker of course is neither. When someone calls to attention how another man has been disingenuous and egocentric at times, the whistleblower may have a point—unless the person they're questioning is either John Cena or one of Cena's friends, in which case their complaints are rarely even worth addressing. A former WWE Champion whose heel turn was facilitated by a systematic campaign of disrespect needs to finally accept that the show is not about him…when the person saying this to him is John Cena. The short version: WWE portrays everything Cena does as just and everything that anybody who opposes him does as unjust.
- Pretty much every race in Warhammer 40,000 but special mention must go to the Eldar. One of the most common ways their ability to see the future is used... is to ensure billions of humans, Tau, and pretty much any other race, die instead of risking the lives of a handful of fellow Eldar. The War for Armageddon, multiple novels, and one recent video game were all the result of Eldar manipulations.
- A recurring issue of traditionalist Clan warriors in the BattleTech universe, who readily consider their Inner Sphere opponents 'barbarians' for using actual tactics and concentrating fire instead of engaging in 'honorable' duels against foes with vastly superior war machines. Which of course only reinforces their conviction that these people need to be conquered for their own good.
- In the First Succession war, the new Coordinator ordered the execution of 90% of the civilians of Kentares, as revenge for the "assassination" of his father the previous Coordinator...who had been visiting the world while his forces were still in the process of conquering it in the first place and ended up simply falling victim to an enemy sniper.
- When combined with Dunbar's Number, this really helps explain the horrors of Exalted's First Age. An ever shrinking group of people whom they view as "people" combined with ever worsening insanity are not the best things to give someone who has god-like power.
- Then there's Kimbery. Did she hurt you? It was For Your Own Good. Did you hurt her, even by something as minor as failing to live up to her ridiculously high expectations? You're a horrible monster and deserve her hate.
- The Primordials technically can't suffer from Moral Myopia, if only because of their status as Eldritch Abomination. Malfeas absolutely loves beating the crap out of others, but he finds himself unable to forgive anyone who do the same to him. It takes serious Cthulhu-equivalent of mental fracture to make him even consider that people don't like being curbstomped to hell by a god-monster.
- Vhaeraun, the drow god of thieves in Forgotten Realms, who thinks of himself as a liberator. His writeups specifically point out that he emphasizes cooperation among his followers and considers it justified to commit all kinds of crimes against others in pursuit of his goals—but if someone else does the same to them, he's furious.
- In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, the Ratkin (wererats) have no moral qualms about killing excess humans and wiping out human society. However, when the Garou slaughtered them en masse and tried to wipe out their society, they were enraged.
- Similarly, the Ajaba (werehyenas) consider it their duty to kill old and weak humans. However, when the Simba king Black Tooth orchestrated the Ajaba genocide, they were furious and swore revenge.
- Europans in Rocket Age seem to think they have the right to push around the rest of the solar system and get incredibly angry any time anyone attempts to push back.
- In Mother Courage and Her Children, Eilif kills a few enemy peasants, steals their cattle to feed his regiment, and is lauded as a hero. He does it again during peacetime and is hanged as a bandit.
- William Shakespeare did this several times. In Henry VI, the Yorkists kill Queen Margaret's son (after she'd killed the Duke of York and let one of her allies kill his son); in the next play (Richard III), she considers the deaths of Queen Elizabeth's husband and both her sons to just barely match her loss. Similarly, in Titus Andronicus, Titus kills one of Tamara's sons, and she... goes quite a bit farther in avenging him.
- In Dm C Devil May Cry, Mundus is absolutely pissed when Dante and Vergil kill his unborn heir and flat-out asks why Dante did it. Never mind that Mundus himself brutally murdered Eva right in front of Dante, subjected Sparda to a Fate Worse Than Death, and has been trying to hunt down and kill Dante himself ever since.
- In Trauma Center, the Big Bad Nietzsche Wannabe Adam believes that medicine goes against the "right order" of the world and unnaturally prolongs human life. Yeah, sure. This coming from the guy who made himself immortal through his own man-made viruses. Nothing unnatural about that, right? He justifies this by claiming he has placed himself outside the cycle of nature, not giving and not taking anything from the world...
- In ADOM, one of the toughest opponents towards the end is the Cat Lord, who will attack you if you've ever killed so much as a single feline during the entire game so far. If you're not a druid, you'll have been attacked by hundreds of wild cats and cave tigers and whatnot by this point. (This is effectively a bonus challenge to not to kill any felines, since if you don't, the Cat Lord will give you an awesome ring. It's still actually better to kill and eat him for stat boosts, provided you have a way of getting rid of bad karma. And provided the corpse drops.)
- In Half-Life 1, you overhear a couple of soldiers complaining about the dozen or so scientists they slaughtered not putting up a fight (despite them not being trained and likely thinking the soldiers are there to rescue them). Later the soldiers express their outrage at Freeman for having killed so many of them (despite them trying to kill him and his coworkers). Lampshaded in Freemans Mind:
- Intentionally used by the Eldar in Dawn of War, especially in the sequel. They actively sabotage and kill Imperial troops, but will whine like unholy mothers if you defend yourself - screeching about how you could have spent the time fighting Tyranids. Bastards.
- In the sequel, they try to sacrifice a number of Imperial planets (with trillions of inhabitants) to the Tyranids to protect their own Craftworld (an artificial space habitat). When you are stopping them, they will yell at you for being a stupid idiot. After all, what is a dozen human worlds in comparison with just one Eldar Craftworld? This is very common behaviour for Eldar, and indeed just about every faction in the source material.
- Niko Bellic in Grand Theft Auto IV, who has a small circle of people he considers family. These people are sacred; harm any of them, and you can expect to die very painfully. Anyone else is fair game, casually killed in the cause of "I need money". When he finds the man who betrayed eleven of his friends to their deaths for a thousand dollars, he gets called out on this.
- Conrad Marburg in Alpha Protocol. In Rome, circumstances can lead to him shooting an unarmed woman — your friend and possible love interest — in the back, right in front of you. His attitude could be described as flippant if the guy emoted very much. In the subsequent boss battle, if you kill one of his men, he'll go completely berserk, leave cover, and try to beat you into the ground with his fists.
- In fact you can call him out on his double standards, and depending on your previous relationship with him he'll either flee to kill/recruit you at a later date, or have a total breakdown and abandon his escape plan to have a second shot at you.
- In Sam & Max Hit the Road, the following exchange occurs during the intro, after the Freelance Police realize they forgot to get rid of a time bomb during the opening credits:
Sam: Max, where should I put this so it doesn't hurt anyone we know or care about?
Max: Out the window, Sam. There's nothing but strangers out there!
(Sam chucks the bomb out the window, whereupon it explodes)
Sam: I hope there was nobody on that bus.
Max: Nobody we know, at least.
Max We punish people who do it who aren't us.
- In City of Heroes, it is not uncommon for crazy cultists who are in the process of sacrificing random people they kidnapped to shout "Intruder! How dare you disturb us?!" when a hero arrives in their underground temple to save the civilians.
- This trope is endemic to Touhou, and rather perplexing considering Gensoukyou is regularly portrayed as a paradise. It ranges from small, rather insignificant details (for example Sakuya being annoyed that Reimu and Marisa are invading Koumakan, her home and place of employment, but sees nothing wrong with herself invading Eientei) to massive, potentially horrifying things (for example youkai eating the human residents of Gensoukyou is abhorred, but abducting humans from outside of Gensoukyou and eating them is perfectly fine).
- World of Warcraft:
- D.E.H.T.A. is horrified at the cruel treatment that the wildlife of Northrend suffers at the hands of Nesingwary's hunters, and respond by sending the players to kill the hunters. They seem fairly reluctant about having to kill Ned's pet rhino Lunchbox along with him, but show no qualms about killing the rest of the hunters, and will attack any player who approaches their camp covered in animal blood, even if the player killed the animal in self-defense. You can also trade with them for items and buffs, using hunter's ears as currency.
- Many of the conflicts between The Alliance and The Horde often seem to boil down to this. On the Isle of Thunder, Taran Zhu berates Jaina Proudmoore and Lor'themar Theron to stop their fighting so no more retaliations will happen, citing that each reaction is seen as a new hostile action by either side. There are still dozens of other focal points of war and contention between The Alliance and The Horde, however, where each cries foul over the other's actions.
- This applies to multiplayer games in general, when the other guy kills you with a certain weapon or tactic it is "cheap", or "noobish", but when you use it somehow it is now okay. Logical fallacies abound.
- The term for this behavior is Scrub.
- Anders in Dragon Age II never misses a moment to admonish Merrill for the use of blood magic and consorting with demons, certain that she would end up causing harm to herself and others. However, he turns a blind eye to the fact that he himself willingly chose to become an Abomination, allowing the Spirit of Justice to inhabit him, only to accidentally corrupt it with his anger into a Demon of Vengeance. Merrill on the other hand, has avoided this danger since she treats all spirits as dangerous, without dividing them into "good" and "bad" ones.
- Anders ultimately makes everything that Merrill did pale in comparison. While Merrill endangered her own life and soul, causing the death of her mentor who tried to protect her, Anders partakes in a deliberate and succesful attempt to incite a World War between the Mages and Templars.
- Fenris is another example. He hates slavery, but because he thinks Mages are dangerous he thinks the mages don't deserve their freedom. The only reason Fenris comes off as more sympathetic than Anders is because, unlike the Anders example, Fenris never actually commits wrongdoings because of his moral myopia, and in fact, if Fenris sides against you in the endgame, pointing out that he would be helping Meredith sell mages into slavery causes him to come back to your side.
- Portal has the inimitable (we hope) GLaDOS, who in the sequel is very upset that she was killed in the first game... after spending at least half of it trying to kill you.
- Tales Series:
- In Tales of the Abyss, we have Arietta the Wild. "You shot fire... at my friend! I'm really going to make you pay now!" Um, sweetie, your friend tried to snatch him off a roof, presumably to be killed. The fire was self-defense. Granted, she at least has an excuse, having been raised by monsters, and so not really having a chance to develop much empathy for other people.
- She also holds it against you for killing the liger matriarch and her cubs, despite the fact that the first things the cubs would do (and this was explicitly stated) is raid the nearby village and eat every human in sight.
- Then again, the whole incident was Mieu's fault in the first place: the young Cheagle accidentally caused a fire in the forest where the ligers lived and forced them to recuperate at the Cheagle Forest. Luke even lampshades in a skit that if Mieu hadn't done that, they wouldn't have been forced to kill the liger matriarch, and later get Arietta to bear a revenge grudge on the group in the next dungeon.
- Forcystus from Tales of Symphonia once put a bloody end to an army of humans responsible for genocide against Half-Elves. By the time we see him, he is a Desian Grand Cardinal and he punishes the death of a few of his soldiers by burning down the hero's hometown and turning a helpless old woman into a monster and forcing two of the protagonists to kill her in a boss fight.
- This could apply to the Desians as a whole. They're allegedly inspired to join because of the persecution half-elves suffer at the hands of humans, but treat the humans in their custody as little more than cattle, slinging around "inferior being" as a synonym for "human."
- Dhaos from Tales of Phantasia does not approve of humans building a mana cannon (and for a good reason), but that doesn't stop him from blasting people to smithereens with laser beams, or possessing and controlling them.
- Then again, he's more concerned with the ridiculous amount of mana drain the canon does on the planet. He doesn't really care about the existence of weapons in general.
- Chrono Cross tries to be anvilicious about a Humans Are the Real Monsters moral, but this falls flat on its face when the Dwarves start preaching how humans are ruining the environment and treating demi-humans like second-class citizens, when they use steampunk tanks and you find them commiting genocide on the pixies; In fact, even the pixies blame humanity for their losses, "forcing" the dwarves to attack them, despite no attempts on the dwarves part to find a peaceful cohabitation. the fact no-one calls them out on this has caused a good bit of annoyance.
- Played straight in so many ways in Final Fantasy Tactics with Algus (along with many others), who while not evil, is plays the Blue Blood to a "T" and has a very low opinion of commoners.
- Septerra Core: The Chosen suffer from this trope. Azziz said it best to Maya about the Chosen's attitude towards other people, "No, my dear. They hardly notice us at all. We are like ants to them."
- In Prototype 2, the first Orion Super Soldier you fight calls James evil for killing his friend when said person was most likely just another dog-punting Sociopathic Soldier like so many Blackwatch men, and what's to say the Orion wasn't the same before his improvement?
- Heller himself is also a major example of this; he is tearing apart the entire military (and possibly civilians as well,) primarily as a Roaring Rampage of Revenge on Mercer and Blackwatch for causing the disaster that he thinks got his daughter killed, with The Virus-caused Zombie Apocalypse Mercer's spreading and the indiscriminate violence towards civilians and Sociopathic Soldier tendencies of Blackwatch being of secondary importance.
- Mercer too. In the original game he wakes up amnesiac and determined to get to the bottom of what happened to cause the outbreak in the first place... by hacking away mercilessly at Blackwatch and the Marines. The Marines are legitimately are trying to save Manhattan, and Mercer spends a significant amount of the game sabotaging their efforts in order to get at Blackwatch and Gentek. And in a comic series bridging the two games, he decides to destroy humanity based on his view that they are self-centered and unworthy of continued existence... despite the fact that he was just as self-obsessed and violent as any of them.
- In Fallout: New Vegas, Caesar's Legion will hate you and call you a murderer if you kill Vulpes Inculta, whom you encounter when he and his squad are finishing up on their complete destruction of the town of Nipton and all its inhabitants. Vulpes will also accuse the citizens of Nipton of being treacherous, depraved and morally bankrupt, when his elaborate execution by lottery is stomach-turning in its sadism. (And their demonstration of depraved treachery, by luring several NCR soldiers in with offers of sex and fun and then killing them, was his plan to start with.) Your reputation will only drop further as you keep murdering the honorable four-man execution squads the Legion keeps sending after you, squads that have no problem attacking and killing civilians should there be any around when they find you.
- Kratos of God of War has never once showed any compunctions against killing people brutally if it'll get him closer to his vengeance, or launching full campaigns of war even if they displease the gods. But the source of most of his angst stems from how he was tricked into killing his wife and daughter (while he was out massacring a village in Ares' name), and his personal war against Olympus in the second and third games happened after they tried to kill him for his excessive warmongering.
- In Dynasty Warriors for Ma Chao. Cao Cao kills Ma Chao's father for attempting to assassinate him? He is a villain and must die! Wang Yi's clan is destroyed by Ma Chao's rebellion leaving her a woman with vengeance and nothing else? Well, that's too bad, but he can't die yet.
- In Mega Man Zero 3, Copy X accuses Ciel and La Résistance of being extremists for not giving up the alternate energy system she had developed. Never mind that not only was Copy X the one who started the mass extermination of Reploids in Neo Arcadia but he also had no qualms about destroying an entire human residential district with a missile holding Omega, just to get the Dark Elf.
- Due to how the game engine in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura works, your good-aligned allies can come across as this. If you provoke a good-aligned NPC into becoming hostile (such as by botching a pickpocketing), your allies will immediately attack them, but your good allies will chastise you for this. Even though you had no intention of attacking them and might not even be fighting yourself.
- In Halo Dr Halsey was arrested by ONI and charged for her methods in creating Spartan IIs, which are indeed appalling as it involved kidnapping children and placing them in Training from Hell and dangerous augmentations. But Halsey does care for her Spartans and her work ensured humanity's survival. Her methods were nothing compared to ONI's methods in creating Spartan IIIs, most of whom were orphaned children forcefully conscripted to be Spartans, and treated as elite cannon fodder who died much quicker.
- Of course, this being ONI, it was more to get her out of the way and punish her for some personal slights against the one in charge than any moral issue.
- No where is this more evident than the mind of Admiral Margaret Paragonsky, the Director of ONI who authorized both Halsey's arrest and the SPARTAN-II and SPARTAN-III Programs. When Halsey goes behind Parangonsky's back to replace the kidnapped SPARTAN-II's with flash-clones that would eventually die to prevent their parents being tormented by their disappearance, it condemned 75 sets of parents to watching their children die slowly is and is an unforgiveable crime. When Parangonsky commits actual treason by going behind Fleet Admiral Terrance Hood's back to instigate a Civil War among the Elites he's trying to negotiate a meaningful peace with, it's about trying to neutralize a threat.
- Invoked by the developers of Game Dev Tycoon: the cracked version includes in-game pirates who will steal your product, and it has been observed that real-world pirates are complaining about it.
- Valkyria Chronicles values its cast only as much as they are relevant to Welkin and Alicia. This becomes most readily apparent when Selvaria obliterates the entire Gallian army with a Suicide Attack... and the story treats Selvaria's death as a tragedy, while the thousands of people she kills are completely ignored by everyone.
- In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, the terrorist Dolzaev calls Raiden a murderer for killing Mistral, upon which Raiden calls him out for the hypocrisy of saying such while being involved with Desperado.
- Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time: Le Paradox fully expects his various partners and flunkies to help him in his Evil Plan, but whenever they ask him to return in kind, he blows them off.
- This is more or less Handsome Jack in a nutshell in Borderlands 2. As a narcissist, he seems incapable of caring for anyone else but him. He's even convinced that forcing his daughter Angel to be his personal supercomputer and force-feeding her Eridium until she literally can't live without it was honestly him being a good father.
- Dead or Alive: The Mugen Tenshin Clan has shades of this. Raidou, the Big Bad of the first game, had previously raped Ayame, the wife of his brother (and then-leader of the clan) Shiden, stolen their most sacred technique, and put Hayate into a coma, and the clan decides to just move on and forget it ever happened. However, when Kasumi decides to do something about Raidou herself and ditches the clan, she is immediately declared a traitor and Marked for Death.
- In Doom, the Arch-Vile is Hell's healer. It screams "why?" as it dies, because it has no idea why you wanted to kill it. After all, it surely can't be those deadly fire spells it was attacking you with. Though, to be fair, it could instead be asking its Hellish creator why it was allowed to fail.
- During the not-so-backstory of Max Payne 3 you become the target of the ire of a mid-class mob boss for killing his son. The same mob boss, of course, who probably murdered many to get in his position and likely commits a number of atrocities, even if by association, on a daily basis. And said son was waving a gun in Max's face and would have killed a innocent bystander for standing up to him had Max not gunned him down.
- In Kid Icarus: Uprising, the gods talk a good game about humans causing nothing but pain,suffering, and war, but this calling out becomes moot- especially in the subject of the nature Goddess Viridi, who decides to wipe out an entire sect of civilization with her Reset Bomb to pave the way for a human-uninhabitable nature haven. Some of these people do get called out on this, but sometimes it's never even addressed.
- RWBY: Ironwood has no faith in Ozpin's ability to protect humanity because he doesn't understand what's driving Ozpin's behaviour and thinks Ozpin is hiding something. Even though Glynda points out that Ozpin has experience Ironwood lacks and that Ironwood has a hard time trusting people, Ironwood secretly reports Ozpin to the Council, undermining Ozpin's authority and career in the process. His justification is that he has both the will and the resources to protect humanity and that Ozpin should therefore be trusting him.
- There was an inversion of this in RPG World; after Rabble-Rouser kills Olaf, his girlfriend nearly kills him, which causes Hero to go berserk and activate his Chosen One Power of Friendship, killing her. This is Lampshaded:
Cherry: Rabble just killed the viking guy. She's understandably pissed.
Diane: Well, yeah, but she's a bad guy.
- In one arc of Rip And Teri, an assassin is after Rip. He poisons Teri (and Rip doesn't know if it's going to kill her or not) and then, as Rip is rushing Teri to a hospital, the assassin and his burka-clad wives attack the pair. In trying to survive, Rip takes one wife hostage, claiming "A wife for a wife!" and apparently hoping this could make the assassin stand down. But the wife bites a false tooth, unleashing a virus that would kill anyone in a ten-yard radius (including her). After Rip and Teri get away, the assassin bids his dying wife good-bye, then tells his other wives that they'll mourn later - they have to finish the job. And, for added menace: "A wife for a wife." Because, y'know, it wasn't like you accepted a contract against Rip and he was only trying to defend himself and your wife killed herself during the battle - it's all his fault!
- Subverted by Belkar in The Order of the Stick, who in spite of only caring about himself (and his cat) finds the idea of acting like this nothing but ridiculous ("I almost got through that with a straight face!"). See here.
- Redcloak from the same comic is a straight example: As the "good" races in the world kill his kind (goblinoids) freely for experience, he feels at a liberty to treat them the same way while fighting for the liberty and rights of his own people.
- The elves fighting Redcloak's occupying force are little better; the commander casually pushes a captive hobgoblin to his death while remarking the only good goblin is a dead one and his subordinates kill a civilian goblin couple, but when the commander encounters Redcloak personally he flies into a rage and charges him, swearing vengeance for every elf that was slain. Redcloak kills him and the majority of his team almost instantly, considering saying anything to them a waste of time.
- There's a twofer in #372: first, Redcloak calls out Miko, whose paladin abilities remove her "natural" fear reaction, when she calls the lich Xykon unnatural (he even uses the word "myopic"); and, by Fridge Logic, Redcloak also qualifies as "unnatural" despite calling himself "all-natural" immediately afterwards, since the Crimson Mantle has drastically reduced his aging. Lampshaded by the comic title.
- Belkar briefly objects to having a vampire who used to be Durkon in the party.
I just don't trust the idea of using a horrible bloodthirsty savage to fulfill our goals while we — oh, I get it
- In Thistil Mistil Kistil, one of her master's sons is annoyed that Hedda is running away from a nasty form of Human Sacrifice.
- In Doc Rat, the carnivores regard their eating intelligent herbivores as morally unproblematic, and any objections from the prey are the problem. One indeed got indignant after her fox husband brought home baby rabbits, and the rabbits' father came by to beat him up.
- Kevin & Kell is very similar; indeed, on this very wiki, Doc Rat is likened to a "less brutal variation" of K&K's Carnivore Confusion.
- Carnivore kills a herbivore? Just part of nature, and the carnivore is unlikely to to even reflect over the fact that they just killed a fellow sentient being. Herbivore kills a carnivore? It's murder, and the herbivore will face prison time. Even most herbivores will think nothing of someone getting killed and eaten by a carnivore... unless the victim was a friend or relative, of course.
- This is as much a case of Blue and Orange Morality as Myopia.
- In Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures this is a big reason why adventurers (typically a Beings-only class) are licensed, despite the fact that they often end up indifferently persecuting all Creatures they encounter; Creatures don't regard Beings as having any rights and so they are free to slaughter and devour them at leisure, with any attempts at legal recriminations by the Beings resulting in an offending creature getting a slap on the wrist at best. So Beings take matters into their own hands by empowering members of their species-class to slaughter Creatures with equal impunity.
- From the Creatures' perspective, they're to some extent the ones calling the Beings out on this — because the latter in turn have no trouble killing and eating "mere" animals, either, and from the Creature point of view how clever food happens to be doesn't make a difference in whether or not it counts as food in the first place. (It's also worth noting that despite all differences, Creatures and Beings are not currently at outright war with each other and manage to coexist quite peacefully in places, and individual outlooks on both sides will vary considerably.)
- In Men In Hats, Aram tells Gamal that he's going to do only good deeds for a week, then pokes Jeriah in the face with a stick.
Gamal: And moral relativism hits a new low.
Aram: The key question here is, of course, "Good for whom?"
- Batman: The Animated Series: The Joker: "You killed Captain Clown. YOU KILLED CAPTAIN CLOWN!!!" (Captain Clown was a mindless robot, while Joker's current plot is driving an entire city insane.)
- In Popeye Meets Ali Baba, when Wimpy is stealing food behind his back, Abu Hassan remarks "Must be thieves around here."
- In a Famous Studios cartoon, Popeye is the butt of several increasingly cruel April Fools Day pranks brought on by Bluto. Whenever Popeye got angry, Olive would accuse him of not having a sense of humor. Bluto later played a prank of Olive and set Popeye to take the blame. Suddenly, it wasn't very funny.
- Spider-Man Unlimited: The High Evolutionary is made of this. He states that he rebuilt Counter-Earth society so eliminate greed, selfishness, hate, etc. However, it's incredibly clear that he doesn't mind any of these things so long as humans are the victims and not the aggressors.
- Averted in Invader Zim - the Irkens as a whole think of non-Irkens as nonpersons, but the Tallest at least have no problem throwing their own kind out of an airlock when it pleases them. Come to think of it, Zim seems to think anyone who isn't him is expendable for the sake of his mission, as shown in "Hobo 13" where he sacrifices his entire training squad (including fellow Irken Skoodge) in order to complete his training.
- In the Star Wars: The Clone Wars Padawan Lost arc, a Trandoshan hunter gets righteously pissed when his son is killed during a hunt of kidnapped Jedi younglings.
- This is justified due to Values Dissonance. Trandoshans are a Proud Warrior Race whose religion literally demands that they kill their way into Heaven. Every corpse a Trandoshan brings back from a hunt adds more "points" to his soul's worth, guaranteeing him ever-increasing rewards in the afterlife. But, conversely, if one of his would-be victims were to kill him, that would be not only humiliating but a grave moral disgrace, resulting in the hunter being "zeroed" (losing all his points) and most likely being sent to Hell.
- Likewise, the Zygerrians consider any culture that could be defeated by them as naturally weak, and any culture who would be conquered as deserving of being enslaved and quashed by their own. On the other hand, they consider the Jedi's conquering of their old enterprise an insult to their culture and an intrusion on their very way of life. The viewer's plight for their lost empire is... limited.
- In The Simpsons April Fools' Day episode, "So It's Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show", Bart, in retaliation for a series of mean spirited April Fools pranks pulled by Homer, finally pulls one over on him, only to accidentally send him into a coma. After Bart confesses to the prank, Homer wakes up and strangles him. This is just plain wrong, because Homer pulled some harmful if not potentially deadly pranks, including duct-taping Bart's eyes shut and putting milk in the fridge that had been next to a furnace for six weeks yet never apologized. Father of the year material he ain't, that's for sure.
- Similarly in "Fear Of Flying", the patrons of Moe's bar play a sequence of increasingly brutal practical jokes on their publican, all of which he takes in good humor (such as lighting his clothes on fire and HIDING A COBRA in the cash register which repeatedly bites him). Lastly, Homer plays the innocuous "Loose Salt Shaker Lid" gag on Moe and immediately gets chewed out by his friends and barred from entry. Of course, this is the joke.
- Lisa's always being very Holier Than Thou. When the family goes on a ranch holiday though, she gets a crush on an older boy. She hears him talking to a 'Clara', and promising her the first dance. When she meets Clara, she misdirects her down a dangerous trail. Later she finds out Clara is his sister and only then does she go to help her. The boy rightly calls her out for this.
- In the American Dad! episode "A Jones for a Smith", a crack-addicted Stan ends up ruining Steve's family-to-family dinner date with the family of the latter's new girlfriend, and ultimately spoiling the latter's chances. After kicking the habit, Stan insists that Steve, who is still without the girl and livid over it, will forgive him for it. Consider that just earlier in the season, Stan said that it would take time to forgive Steve for piloting a drone without his permission. Then again, this isn't too surprising considering that Stan tends to be an arrogant jerk.
- In King of the Hill anytime something embarrassing happens to Hank, Peggy will tell anyone who will listen about it to the point that random strangers will give him advice. Imagine her reaction if he did this to her. In another example Peggy got a job at the Alamo Beer company during a time where there was no stock of Alamo in their local supermarket. Peggy told Hank exactly how to get his favorite beer without telling him that it was tainted. Despite this Peggy claimed that Hank betrayed her trust while continuing to allow him to drink the tainted beer.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Of all the ponies to call out Trixie for being a showoff in Boast Busters, it's Rainbow Dash who does it first. The same pony who is very quick to remind everyone around her just how awesome she is.
- Discord is a Reality Warper who turns Equestria into a World Gone Mad, brutally breaks and brainwashes the main characters, drives everyone insane, and generally does whatever he wants to For the Evulz with no remorse or sense of morality...and yet prior to leading the main cast in a trap via a maze, he calls Princess Celestia out for turning him to stone for doing the previously mentioned things.
- In "Twilight's Kingdom, Part 2", Tirek still shows signs of being bitter with his brother for betraying him, despite the fact Scorpan had already tried reasoning with Tirek to stop him, but has zero problem stabbing Discord in the back for his own selfish hunger for power.
- Regular Show: "Under the Hood", Rigby is painting Park Avenue's TV room:
Rigby: You painted all over our whole park.
Park Avenue: Yes, but it's different, you know? It's what I do! My stuff is good, you’re only making a mess!
- Metallo in Superman: The Animated Series should really hate Lex Luthor for Brain Uploading him into a cold, unfeeling metal body after he was infected with a rare virus. Instead he goes after Superman for capturing him and placing him in the jail where he was infected. By the end of the episode, he finally goes after Luthor. In later episodes, though he is after Superman and no one else, out for revenge over his past defeats.
- This was averted in the video game Shadow of Apokolips where Luthor hires him to attack Superman, but Metallo opts to attack Luthor directly.
- Cartman from South Park: In the Coon and Friends Trilogy, Cartman starts to think the rest of the organization turned evil just because they kicked him out and sees himself as the hero because according to him, heroes make the world a better place for themselves.
- Dave the Barbarian, in the episode "Shrink Rap" when Dave has helped Quozmir resolve his issues with his mother:
Fang: I love a happy ending.
Candy: Happy ending? They're going to destroy half the continent!
Fang: Yeah, but not the half we live in.
Candy: Good point.
- In the episode of Megas XLR where the heroes meet some space pirates:
Pirate: We don't like cheaters. Unless it's us doing the cheating. Then it's OK.