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Morality Tropes
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."
Cicero

The world turns and the world changes,
But one thing does not change.
In all of my years, one thing does not change,
However you disguise it, this thing does not change:
The perpetual struggle of Good and Evil.
T. S. Eliot, Choruses from the Rock

What is morality? Morality is the system of good and evil and all the shades of gray that come in between.

Good always triumphs in the end, right? Well, not always. The Balance Between Good and Evil gives many villains loopholes to slip through and make their grand return. Furthermore, the presence of the Anti-Hero or Worthy Opponent blurs the distinction between good and evil, and in well-done cases, forces us to reexamine our preconceptions of right and wrong.

But what is especially interesting about the media is how it appears to favor evil in its works. Squeaky-clean heroes are either prone to stretches of unendearing, Knight Templar-style ruthlessness or hopelessly boring, while the villains inevitably have cooler costumes and powers. If they do a Heel-Face Turn, that coolness factor often goes bye-bye thanks to Redemption Demotion not to mention that once they turn good, they usually don't get to live very long, or if they do, they suffer. No wonder why, for many good-turned-evil characters, Evil Feels Good.

Some authors, it seems, can't stand any more of that preachy Anviliciousness and turn the tables on the end-all symbol of goodness, writing Rage Against the Heavens plots in which God Is Evil. Fans aren't immune to the siren song of evil, either; an alarming number of them insist on putting Draco in Leather Pants.

But it must be remembered that all tropes in this index refer only to good and evil as it appears in artistic media. In Real Life, good and bad choices are Serious Business.

Please remember that Tropes Are Not Bad and Tropes Are Not Good. This is merely a list of how many works in different media have confronted the issue of morality. There is no implication that any of the tropes listed below are either correct or incorrect about how they approach moral philosophy. Even moral philosophers still argue with each other about the correct way to approach moral philosophy!


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