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[[quoteright:350:[[WesternAnimation/DespicableMe http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/despicable_me_m.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:He may be a VillainProtagonist who wants to TakeOverTheWorld, but he is an absolute softie to his daughters.]]

->''"All those times I said 'Kill all humans', I'd always whisper 'except one'. Fry was that one. And I never told him so!"''
-->-- '''Bender''', ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}''

Villains are evil. They kick dogs instead of petting them. What if they started petting one dog in particular, and thereby showed some kindness, sympathy, etc. other qualifies not part of their villainous persona? That dog is the villain's morality pet.

These can be used when a villain becomes popular enough that the fandom becomes sympathetic to them. Thus, the author(s) want to use them more often and in more situations. However, meshing them into the main cast can be [[BadassDecay dangerous and disappointing]] if it leads to a RedemptionDemotion. Some heroes wouldn't be quick to accept them, either. After all, they are ''villains''.

One method of doing this is presenting another character to [[FriendlessBackground befriend them]]. Ideally, this should be someone who could pose no threat or even be demanding, and depending on how the plot goes, the recovering villain becomes fond of this other character and may [[LivingEmotionalCrutch draw stability from their presence]]. The Morality Pet may even be somewhat pathetic (and will be told so), but has often gone through some anguish to which the recovering villain can relate secretly, or reminds the villain of someone they lost long ago. They're usually upbeat, though they might go a little [[TastesLikeDiabetes overboard sometimes]]. If handled poorly, they might become a SatelliteCharacter for the former villain.

This also makes for a convenient excuse to help the heroes if needed; an ex-villain can simply claim to have their own "[[IWasJustPassingThrough selfish reasons]]" and save face. Anyone messing with the Morality Pet can expect swift retribution from the ex-villain or antihero in question. If relationship with the morality pet is familial in nature, then MamaBear, PapaWolf or BigBrotherInstinct (as appropriate) is involved. Sometimes ViolentlyProtectiveGirlfriend or its male inverse if the morality pet is a love interest.

They are a living and recurring incarnation of PetTheDog, i.e. something to placate the audience regarding the hero's tolerance of the amoral character, while focusing on the true villains. (Unless they KickTheMoralityPet, that is, which leads their character arc in a different direction.)

This isn't just for villains, either. Despite sidekicks being less popular in comic books than they were originally, some writers pair them with {{Anti Hero}}es in an effort to humanize them.

Not to be confused with a magic-user's {{familiar}}, the creature type of which often reveals the kind of person who owns it, though if the magic-user is fond of the familiar and treats it well, it could very well be a Morality Pet.

If the Morality Pet dies or disappears and this causes the villain/anti-hero to revert back to their old ways, the Morality Pet was acting more like a MoralityChain, a similar trope often confused with this one. The difference between the two is subtle: A Morality Pet is a character who redeems a villain. The villain's affection for the pet starts them down the path of good, and even should the pet get hurt the villain will most likely behave as a hero (or anti-hero) in seeking their revenge or protecting the pet. By contrast, the Morality Chain keeps an otherwise anti-heroic character (such as a SociopathicHero) from going full villain. The loss of the chain would spell doom for any involved party, and likely anyone nearby as well. In a nutshell, a Morality Pet turns a bad guy good, a MoralityChain ''stops'' a good guy from turning bad. That said, the two tropes can certainly overlap, if the character redeems a villain and then also helps keep them from [[RedemptionFailure slipping back to evil]], they are both a Morality Pet ''and'' a Morality Chain.

Or to put it another way: The Morality Pet is a catalyst for a HeelFaceTurn, while the MoralityChain is an inhibitor of a FaceHeelTurn. In this sense, the two are actually OppositeTropes despite their close similarities.

Compare PredatorTurnedProtector, where their "pet" is the thing they're supposed to prey upon, and they act as full-blown protector rather than simply caring for/petting them.

Parent trope of LittleBrotherIsWatching.

* MoralityPet/AnimeAndManga
* MoralityPet/ComicBooks
* MoralityPet/FanWorks
* MoralityPet/{{Literature}}
* MoralityPet/LiveActionTV
* MoralityPet/VideoGames
* MoralityPet/WebComics
* MoralityPet/WesternAnimation


[[folder:Audio Play]]
* In ''AudioPlay/TheElysiumProject'', Shay acts as this towards Mirage after their time together at Highmore Academy.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheBookOfLife'':
** General Posada really does love his daughter Maria. [[spoiler:And was distraught when it looked like she died]].
** La Muerte is the ''sole'' being in the world that Xibalba respects and shows his soft side to. He is literally putty in her hands. WordOfGod even stated that La Muerte knows she's the only one who can change him.
* In ''WesternAnimation/CareBearsMovieIIANewGeneration'', [[BigBad Dark Heart]] [[DealWithTheDevil manipulates]] a girl named Christy into helping him, but develops affection for her after she saves him from drowning. After accidentally harming her, his remorse is enough to not only help save her, but also [[spoiler:[[BecomeARealBoy turn him human]]]].
* ''WesternAnimation/DespicableMe'': Margo, Edith and Agnes for Gru.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Epic}}'': Mandrake, for his whole EvilOverlord shtick, really does care about his son.
* Tip to Oh in ''WesternAnimation/{{Home}}''. While the alien wasn't evil or even straight up jerk (or a JerkWithAHeartOfGold), he didn't know how to show any empathy towards other species, besides his own. Spending time with Tip allows Oh to learn.
* In ''Disney/{{Tangled}}'', Rapunzel becomes this for Flynn Rider. While he's not an evil guy, he still starts off showing very little concern for his cohorts (he abandons his previous two partners in crime to be arrested and, likely, executed). When he ends up dragging Rapunzel into dangerous situations though, he does whatever he can to take care of her, and ends up falling in love [[spoiler:and dying to set her free from Mother Gothel]].
* In ''Disney/TreasurePlanet'', Long John Silver has a literal Morality Pet called Morph, a cute bloblike alien that apparently represents his conscience. One could argue that Jim Hawkins himself is another Morality Pet for Silver.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Literature/TheBlindSide'': SJ for Michael.
* Minilla, or Minya, is this for ''Franchise/{{Godzilla}}'' in the Showa series. And especially in ''Final Wars'', when [[spoiler:Godzilla ultimately decides to spare the humans simply because Minilla asked him to]].
* In ''Film/GuardiansOfTheGalaxy'', Peter Quill is this to adoptive father and amoral SpacePirate Yondu Udonta. Several Ravagers note that Yondu immediately becomes "soft" when Peter's involved and even refused to hand Peter over to [[spoiler:his birth father, [[OmnicidalManiac Ego the Living Planet]]]]. Yondu's love for Peter is pretty much his only redeeming quality, and the one thing he does selflessly is [[spoiler:to sacrifice his life to save Peter from suffocating in space]].
* ''Film/HowTheGrinchStoleChristmas'' has Max be a literal one. Although he participates in his master's evil deeds, he makes the Grinch save Cindy from the machine in the Post Office. He even has his own Christmas party while the Grinch is down in Whoville... until his master interrupts him and throws him out.
* ''Film/TheHungerGames'': Prim, for Katniss and Buttercup; she is one of few people they show any kindness to.
* Harley, the Tennessee boy who helps Iron Man repair and recharge his armour, in ''Film/IronMan3'' is this to Tony Stark.
* His brother and mother are this for the [[HitmanWithAHeart protagonist]] of ''Film/LittleOdessa''.
* ''Film/{{Maleficent}}'' has a major one in Princess Aurora, who is wholly responsible for her [[HeelFaceTurn Heel-Face Turn]] in the later half of the movie, and a minor one in her servant Diaval, who, for all his undying loyalty to her, is a genuinely kind man(/raven) and has no qualms in calling her out on her cruel behavior.
* Pita for Creasey in ''Film/ManOnFire''. When Pita gets kidnapped, [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge all hell breaks loose]].
* ''Film/NonStop'': Were it not for Becca, a little girl who's on her first flight and rather scared of it, we would hardly see Marks acting like an actual human being as he helps her cope with her fear.
* Mass murderer Riddick managed to find a few morality pets in ''Film/PitchBlack'', Fry, Jack, and Imam. Of course, [[spoiler:Fry died at the end of Pitch Black,]] and [[spoiler:Jack (Kyra) and Imam died at the end of ''Film/TheChroniclesOfRiddick'', leaving Riddick with no more morality pets, and a whole empire of necromongers at his command!]] Be afraid. Be ''very'' afraid.
* ''Film/{{Predators}}'': Unlike [[AntiHero the rest of the cast]], Isabelle is clearly a [[GoodIsNotNice tough-minded but fundamentally moral person]]. So the fact that she persistently tags along with Royce -- and trusts him despite his erratic loyalties -- gives the strong indication to the audience that there may a [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold decent person somewhere under Royce's mercenary exterior]], as does [[PetTheDog his behavior toward her]].
* In ''Film/RepoTheGeneticOpera'', Marni acted as this for Nathan. When she died, the role was fortunately taken over by Shilo, who in turn became Nathan's MoralityChain.
* Chewbacca is pretty much Han Solo's Morality Pet. If he weren't so good at guilting his buddy, the ''Franchise/StarWars'' trilogy would have been over after one movie.
* Ira, who plays TheChick in a FiveManBand, for RetiredMonster Charlie in ''Film/SuicideKings''.
* Subverted in ''Film/SweeneyToddTheDemonBarberOfFleetStreet''. Mrs. Lovett seems to have a soft spot for Toby and treats him as a son, but when he confides in her he suspects Sweeney Todd is up to something awful, she locks him in the basement and plans to have Todd kill him later.
** Maybe played straighter with Sweeney and Anthony. He's a non-threatening, innocent young character, whose puppy love for Johanna might reflect the young Sweeney's for Lucy. Subverted by the fact that is hinted at in the movie and openly stated in the musical: [[spoiler:Sweeney's plan to get Johanna back involves murdering Anthony]]. Johanna may be Sweeney's real morality pet, but given that [[spoiler:he nearly kills her as well by accident]], being Sweeney's morality pet is not the best way to stay alive

[[folder:Mythology and Religion]]
* Barnabas was this to Saul/Paul when the other disciples questioned Saul's HeelFaceTurn. See Acts 9.

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* [[Wrestling/JakeRoberts Jake "The Snake" Roberts]], had Damien, his favorite of the many snakes he owns. Jake was never shown as anything but kind to Damien. In 1991, [[Wrestling/JohnTenta Earthquake]] [[{{Kayfabe}} squashed]] Damien. The feud against Quake was Jake's last as a face (he shortly thereafter had a FaceHeelTurn when he interrupted [[Wrestling/RandySavage Randy "Macho Man" Savage]] and [[Characters/WWEDivas Elizabeth]]'s [[{{Kayfabe}} wedding]] at ''Wrestling/{{SummerSlam}} 91'', and sicced a cobra on him), and in a bit of FridgeBrilliance, one can look to Damien's squashing as his StartOfDarkness.
* Wrestling/XPac was briefly Wrestling/{{Kane}}'s morality pet in the late 90s.
* In Wrestling/{{WWE}}, long-running ForeignWrestlingHeel Wrestling/WilliamRegal was assigned by Eric Bischoff to baby-sit and team with his "special" nephew [[Wrestling/NickDinsmore Eugene]], a mentally-challenged man who was, despite his handicap, a capable wrestler. Regal quickly grew fond of Eugene, to the point where Wrestling/TripleH's cold, cynical manipulation of Eugene served as a catalyst for a rare HeelFaceTurn for Regal.
* El Generico/Wrestling/SamiZayn is Kevin Steen/Kevin Owens' in both Wrestling/{{Ring of Honor}} and Wrestling/{{WWENXT}}... until his inevitable [[FaceHeelTurn Face-Heel]] [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder Turns]] in both promotions, of course. Since this is [[NiceGuy Sami]], Kevin is, of course, EasilyForgiven after this happens.
* When Wrestling/{{WWE}} wants to put Wrestling/AlbertoDelRio through a HeelFaceTurn, their formula is simple -- have a heel assault his loyal manservant, Ricardo Rodriguez, and have Del Rio make with the RoaringRampageOfRevenge against the jerk who did it.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Archangel Dominic in ''TabletopGame/InNomine'' is often depicted as an insane KnightTemplar. One person's rather popular {{fanon}} solution to this was to give him a [[http://www.sjgames.com/in-nomine/articles/New/netanya.html kitten]] to soften his image. This more or less worked for a large portion of the fandom.
* In ''Xantcha serves /MagicTheGathering'', Xantcha serves as Urza's anchor to morality and to sanity.
* Subverted in ''Children of the Night'', a supplement for ''TabletopGame/VampireTheMasquerade''. In it is a character profile of Velya the Vivisectionist, who [[MayflyDecemberRomance fell in love]] with a [[{{Squick}} 10-year old girl]] and made her into a vampire. The source of his infatuation with her was her blatant sociopathy, and willingness to manipulate her family into insanity and murder. [[FromBadToWorse But that's not the worst part]]. Even though she was as evil as they came, Elaine Cassidy wasn't mentally equipped to handle vampiric life beside one of the most cold and calculating inhumans in the world, and quickly went batshit insane, ultimately falling to [[EnemyWithin the Beast]] during the 1950s. Velya's response to his "wife's" degeneration was to [[BodyHorror graft her body into his torso]] in order to keep her out of trouble until such time as he could find a cure. Worse still, not only have his efforts been completely in vain, but the connection between the two allows Elaine's Beast to influence Velya, gradually driving him insane.

* Archie, from ''Theatre/{{Thirteen}}'' is actually an aversion of this. Archie uses the fact that he is terminally ill to [[ManipulativeBastard manipulate everyone around him to get him what he wants]].
* The eponymous character in Verdi's opera ''Theatre/{{Rigoletto}}'' will simply be a small-minded, vengeful court jester, if not for his daughter Gilda.
* In Creator/WilliamShakespeare's ''Theatre/TitusAndronicus'', the otherwise cosmically evil Aaron goes to great lengths to protect his baby son/morality pet.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* Tsugumi of ''VisualNovel/{{Ever17}}'' was probably coming off a little too strong on the {{jerkass}} and a little weak on the BrokenBird. Plus they needed a way to suddenly make her get along better with Takeshi, so they introduced Chami the Djungarian Hamster. He's named Chami because he's charming.
* HGame ''Gibo -- Stepmother's Sin'' has the main charactter, Yusuke, doing pretty much everything he can to get into his stepmother's pants. However, he also has a stepsister, Shiina. In order to get the better endings (here defined as ones where you don't turn into a total bastard), you need to treat Shiina well, making her into one of these. Even when he's being a dick, Yusuke still refers to Shiina in kind terms.
* Not that Dr. Irie from ''VisualNovel/HigurashiWhenTheyCry'' was a villain, but Satako Houjou was an influence in changing some of his priorities.
* Maria from ''VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry'' acts as the pet for Beatrice.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* The ''entire Crew'' act as this to Nights to some degree in ''Roleplay/{{AJCO}}'' -- her genuine love for them is her most redeeming feature and is what sets her apart from A_J, who really couldn't care less about her employees. Within the Crew itself, [[TokenGoodTeammate Blu]]e acts as one to [[TokenEvilTeammate Krauzer]].
* At no point in his rampages has Machinima/ChristianBrutalSniper ever killed the RED Spy.
* [[RobotBuddy ED-E]] plays this role to [[VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas The Courier]] in ''Machinima/CouriersMindRiseOfNewVegas''. The Courier can be quite a JerkAss (and who wouldn't be [[ButtMonkey with the kind of life he's leading?]]), but will typically do the right thing if ED-E bugs him about it.
* [[LoveInterest Penny]] and [[OnlyFriend Moist]] in ''WebVideo/DoctorHorriblesSingAlongBlog'' definitely acts as morality pets.
** Moist manages to invert this in one scene, where his suggestions for evil acts are [[EvenEvilHasStandards too overboard for Dr. Horrible.]]
* ''WebAnimation/{{Dreamscape}}'': Dylan, and to a lesser extent Aseir, are the only ones Jenna will show any sort of niceness to, and even then, its more akin to a {{Tsundere}}.
* ''WebAnimation/DSBTInsaniT'': Averted with Spoon towards Dave. Even though Dave spilled out his insecurites to Spoon, he has no issues with abusing him.
* [[OurDemonsAreDifferent Spiro]] of the Fellowship of ''Literature/TheQuestportChronicles'' pulls a HeelFaceTurn and is banished from the demon homeland after refusing to kill a [[FluffyTheTerrible Demon Bunny]].
* In ''Franchise/{{Noob}}'':
** The relationship between Gaea and Golgotha is closer to a perpetual LickedByTheDog situation. Gaea combines DirtyCoward, ManipulativeBastard and TheScrooge, yet she and Gologotha seem to have never stopped being ChildhoodFriends and Golgotha not only actively seeks her company, but has quite a [[BigBrotherInstinct Big Sister Instinct]] towards her.
** A straighter but downplayed example so far only revealed in the webseries storyline is [[spoiler:Judge Dead]] in regards to [[TheCracker Tenshirock]]. Tenshirock was an AntiVillain from the start, but the reveal of the relationship changes Tenshirock from some guy who has nothing better to do with his free time than messing up a MMORPG in an attempt to have people stop playing it to [[spoiler:a father trying to win back the affection of a son that had started to hate him for reasons unknown to him]].
* Wiki/SCPFoundation:
** SCP-085, who acts as this for ''the entire foundation''.
** SCP-053 acts as one for SCP-682 as she is the only being that 682 hasn't killed and actually ''protected'' her from the personnel who went in to separate them.
* Danya, ''Roleplay/SurvivalOfTheFittest's'' BigBad, is occasionally revealed to take time off from his commitments running the Act (including making the announcements) and going home to see his family. The obvious love and affection he has for his wife, young daughter and grown-up son serve to humanise him somewhat. Most members, however, still loathe him. They also fully ''support'' his activities, giving him even more motivation to act like a monster.
* In WebVideo/ThomasSanders' ''Sanders Sides'' videos, Patton is this to... everyone. At the start, he's the only person [[TheFriendNobodyLikes Virgil]] will admit to liking, Logan will try to curb his usual haughtiness for Patton's sake, and even Roman will try to be more considerate with him.