When you're on the Planet of Hats for too long, someone's hat is going to fall off. The probability of this happening seems to be directly proportional to the flamboyance of the hat. That is, if Bob's planet is filled to the brim with Blood Knights, who proclaim "The greatest glory is to die in battle!" and "Only the strong survive!" over dinner, expect Bob to be a Pacifist.
There are a number of reasons why this happens:
So that the human characters can show their inherent moral superiority by demonstrating that they really care more about honor than the Proud Warrior Race Guy.
The biggest reason, however, is that real people don't come from the Planet of Hats, and when you've got an entire species who has only one character trait among them, there are only so many interesting stories you can tell before you've got to make the characters more complex.
Often happens to races who are Always Chaotic Evil, resulting in them having been Not Always Evil. May lead to an Enemy Civil War as those who reject the hat fight the ones who love it. Despite the fact that the Klingon Scientists Get No Respect, they may not believe this trope and choose to "rebel" in order to enable their peers to wear their hat.
This trope's name comes from the oft-(mis-)quoted line from William Shakespeare's Hamlet, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." Note that in Shakespeare's time, "protest" meant "proclaim solemnly or firmly" (which, in context "the lady" was suspiciously overdoing). That's almost the opposite of its modern western connotation, "dissent loudly", although it still occurs in "to protest one's innocence".note However, in this case, it works with either definition Using the example from above, Bob's warrior species "protests too much" by overly avowing violence, when all Bob wants to do is flirt with Alice the Granola Girl. It could also work with the modern definition, in that they are protesting against Bob's behavior.
Related to Cultural Rebel, Stop Being Stereotypical and Stereotype Flip. All of the Other Reindeer is a variant of this. Square Race, Round Class is when the character's job (not necessarily their personality) contrasts with expectations of their species. Rogue Drone is an instance of this within a Hive Mind. Compare Father, I Don't Want To Fight and Pro-Human Transhuman.
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In Bleach, you have several Arrancars that all stand out from the others, but out of all of them, Nel was the only one who could be rightfully called a pacifist. All the other Arrancars (save for the occasional) cherished fighting, and if it was for a goal or revenge, even the most levelheaded ones would go out for blood.
Elfen Lied: It's constantly stated that all Diclonii are genetically programmed to kill humans, though Nana is the exception.
Mewtwo subverts the idea that all Pokemon are loyal to and share a bond with their trainers. He regarded his cruel treatment by Team Rocket as evidence that humans torture Pokemon for their amusement.
Also Meowth. Even his teammates Ekans and Koffing tell him Pokemon are never bad, only their trainers are. However, Meowth either never had or no longer has a trainer and still has no difficulty committing criminal acts. He also hates the idea of being captured by a trainer (with a few exceptions of humans he would have chosen to serve).
Loki in The Mighty Thor. Frost Giants are mostly depicted as very big, very stupid, and typically Dumb Muscle. Loki is, on the other hand, a Magnificent Bastard, a powerful sorcerer, and is usually shown as slightly shorter than Thor (the horns on his helmet notwithstanding) and pretty darn skinny. While he is still very strong and durable, that is primarily in comparison to Earth Superheroes/villains, not Asgardians and other Frost Giants. Notably, Frost Giants are an Always Chaotic Evil race, typically existing to be antagonists to the Asgardians. Loki plays this straight 9 times out of 10 (the other times can be excused as Enemy Mine situations).
White Martians are the aggressive warmongering cousins of the Green Martians, not unlike the relationship between Star Trek Romulans and Vulcans. Miss Martian aka M'gann M'orz, looks just as fearsome as any other White Martian in her natural form, but she's a sweet girl at heart. Even the influence of her Bad Future evil self turned Enemy Within (long story) ultimately couldn't turn her evil.
In Shadows Of The PastWill says that while he doesn't hate humans like the rest of the Decepticons, he really doesn't care all that much about them outside of his immediate Earth family.
The Powers Of Harmony: The Changeling Princess Pupa firmly believes that Changelings and ponies can live in peace, unlike her sister Chrysalis and the rest of their kind, who happily enslave and feed off of them. This is a common interpretation of changelings, that most of them are evil like Chrysalis, but there are some who just want to live like normal ponies and not eat the love of other ponies... or at least would like to earn that love.
Inteverted in Reality Checks Nyxverse, it turns out that the majority of Changelings consider Chrysalis to be a rabble-rousing fool whose short-sighted attempt to conquer Equestria with a bunch of malcontent youths ruined the lives of those who were content to quietly hide among pony society. In fact judging from Flitter and her parents they aren't even evil.
In Crowns of the Kingdom, Hypatia is the one nice Dispiration, and she eventually convinces all the others to become nice.
Films — Animated
In An American Tail, Tiger is the one 'nice' cat who is a vegetarian and doesn't eat mice. He admits to eating fish. That makes him more of a pescetarian.
Lenny from Shark Tale pulls the same deal... except, it's specifically fish he doesn't eat, since he lives in, y'know, the ocean. This leaves the mind boggling as to what, precisely, he does eat...
Chomper from The Land Before Time is the only sharptooth who is seen befriending leaf-eaters and is the only sharptooth who lives in the great valley. As such, he prefers befriending leaf-eaters and generally doesn't associate with sharpteeth outside his family.
In Ronal The Barbarian, the titular character is a weak, thin guy who's relatively reluctant to combat and related activities. He comes from a tribe of super-strong barbarians whose favourite activities include combat, showing off muscles, training... you get the idea.
Jetfire: Tell me, is that robot civil war still going on? Who's winning? Sam: The Decepticons. Jetfire: Well, I changed sides to the Autobots. Sam: What do you mean, changed sides? Jetfire: It's a choice. It's an intensely personal decision. So much negativity... Who wants to live a life filled with hate?
Ker in Battlefield Earth. Handwaved with very Hollywood Science in the book — all Psychlos except him are evil because they have a piece of metal in their brains that connects their desire nerves to their greed nerves... or something. Which makes "Goodboy"'s murder of their entire species another Designated Hero moment. To be fair, he didn't know that all female Psychlos were sterilized before being sent offworld.
Naturally, this shows up sometimes in the Star Trek Novel Verse. For example, two of the alien characters in the Star Trek novella series Starfleet Corps of Engineers fit the trope. The first is P8 Blue the Nasat, who likes to "shake things up" and have adventures, in contrast to the rest of the Nasats, who are typically super-cautious, conservative, and hate taking risks. There's also Soloman the Bynar (formally known as 110), who received his name after his mate died, and he refused to return home and take a new partner as expected. But the trope is averted with the third alien character, Tev, who is very much the stereotypical Tellarite. This is noted by a human character, who in fact thinks Tev is the most stereotypical Tellarite he's ever encountered. Meanwhile, in Star Trek: Ex Machina, there's Spring Rain on Still Water the Megarite. Most Megarite females spend their lives sitting on beaches, doing little else, and consider travel to be "beneath" a female. Spring Rain On Still Water, though, prefers a more adventurous life, and believes her people's lack of interest in exploration or contact with offworlders is a dangerous trait in a culture. She has in turn been condemned by her matriarchs for "lowering" herself.
Dobby and Firenze in the Harry Potter series. Interestingly, in Dobby's case, you don't find out he follows this trope until two books later, when you encounter some house-elves still wearing their Happiness in Slavery hats. Leads to some Blue and Orange Morality, because, for most house-elves, "freeing" them (or even offering to pay them) is cruelty, because it essentially means firing them from the job they love. Dumbledore deals with this by keeping house-elves at Hogwarts, but treating them well and freeing and/or paying them if they should happen to want it.
R.A. Salvatore's Chaotic Good drow, Drizzt Do'Urden, so muchcopied and parodied. Which also demonstrated the dangers of this trope — derailing or blurring the original concept:
R.A. Salvatore: This will sound strange, I know, but I'm almost a bit saddened by the success of Drizzt. He was the "different" drow, but because of his popularity, others are emulating him more and more. Why does that make me sad? I fear for the integrity of the evil drow race as antagonist.
Drizzt's case later was partially self-deconstructed (Dark Mirror).
Also applicable to the surface-dwelling followers of Eilistraee, the only non-evil Drow deity. They convert "spider kissers", but it's not a "rebellion": Eilistraee chose to stick to her old ways (and keep followers there) despite the Face-Heel Turn of Araushnee-Lloth. Also, lots of ambiguousness ensued. They were pictured half as dangerous as other drow: paranoid, prone to gregarious overreactions and requiring constant supervision of alert semi-divine being to keep them on the right way — and then some questionedher dedication to Eilistraee (Silverfall).
In the War of the Spider Queen series, a few of the characters (notably the wizard) are set up to be possibly not-evil, but then spectacularly banish this notion by murdering friends and the like. Pharaun Mizzrym betrayed out of fear and felt bad about it, so he doesn't quite fall out of implied Chaotic Neutral, and Ryld Argith stays as nice guy as he can afford to be, to the end. Even so, neither character did jump out of the Drow ways.
How to one-up Salvatore on this trope, in the same setting? Two Words: orog paladin! Oh, and after he died Her Majesty faint-at-one-sight popular Zaranda I created the Loyal Order of Innocents (dedicated to Torm) and petitioned them to consider Shield of Innocence for a nomination as their patron saint.
One can find this reflecting different cultures of humans (Alderaanians compared to Corellians) as often as different species in Star Wars.
For example, in the Expanded Universe, Winter Celchu (a childhood friend of Leia's from famously-disarmed Alderaan) quickly came to favor military action against the Empire (and there had to be some Corellian actuaries.) Not to mention that in the EU, Alderaan only disarmed in the prior twenty years or so, making taking up arms once more fairly easy (one story even has it that all their war materials were put on ships that could be called home assuming this was necessary). For a more conventional example, after the Battle of Endor, Twi'leks were tired of being seen as a species of scheming male traders and their female merchandise, and the strong warrior tradition of the species came to greater prominence as the warriors became more vocal. Finally, it's noted that species that tend more strongly to the Planet of Hats (like the Ithorians) stay that way by kicking out troublemakers, so that members of the species encountered out in the galaxy are far more likely to be examples than those on the homeworld.
Note that in Star Wars (EU at least) "Hats" tend to be treated more as cultural stereotypes, usually mildly to extremely offensive to the given race, depending on the nature of the race (but not necessarily the accuracy of the stereotype) - i.e. Corellians, by and large, enjoy their reputation, while Voort SaBingring, the Gamorrean on Wraith Squadron, certainly does not enjoy his (though he is forced to admit that the reason he escapes his species' hat is due to being biochemically altered). Nat Secura is similarly shown to be distasteful of the attitude taken towards Twi'leks, as is Nolaa Tarkonaa (though she fits the scheming stereotype to a T).
Blotus the Hutt subverted the "Ruthless Gangster" stereotype of the Hutts, by having served 275 years as the Chancellor of the Republic, and is considered one of the most well-liked chancellors in its history. Then again, this was 9000 years before the movies. Hell, there was even a Hutt Jedi once, though he fell to the Dark Side, so that's kind of iffy.
During the New Jedi Order series, this was half of the point of the Edge of Victory duology - a chance to see a Yuuzhan Vong that wasn't a lunatic warrior. The books introduced Vua Rapuung (an embittered and vengeful but honorable ex-warrior who'd been burned by a love affair gone sour), Nen Yim (a Punch Clock Villain with enough redeeming traits she probably would have been an outright heroine had she not been raised in a culture that had no problem with using sentient beings as lab rats) and fleshed out the Shamed Ones, the Vong's oppressed slave caste who didn't give a damn about their superiors' genocidal ambitions. Before that we had Nom Anor, who was every bit as evil as his colleagues, but evil of a completely different flavor- he was a self-serving, cowardly Manipulative Bastard in contrast to their violentfanaticism.
The X-Wing Series invokes this more than once when it comes to Twi'leks. When Rogue Squadron visits Ryloth on a diplomatic mission, they meet with representatives of both the merchant and warrior castes. The latter laments the fact that Twi'leks are viewed as traders at best and slaves or criminals at worst, and accuses the former of playing into galactic stereotypes. Later, when a Twi'lek member of Rogue Squadron meets a fellow Twi'lek fighter pilot who had been a slave, she rebuffs his attempts at polite conversation, saying they had nothing in common.
To date, about three vermin in Redwall have pulled the Heel-Face Turn. The first, Veil in The Outcast of Redwall, smacked into Redemption Equals Death. The third, Romsca in Pearls of Lutra, also had to die for her chance at redemption (although to be fair, the scene was moving). Blaggut in The Bellmaker is the only named vermin character who had never seemed evil to begin with, probably because he wasn't bright enough to be a true threat.
There were also all the surviving rats on the island in Marlfox. At least, they seemed pretty happy and content to live without weapons and evil rulers.
Same thing seems to happen in Eulalia. Which also contains a hedgehog who starts out a spoiled kleptomaniac (though he does reform) and a downright rotten vole (voles could go either way in the Redwall books-a previous vole character was entirely indifferent to others, spying on his fellow slaves for the villains).
Surprisingly averted in the fantasy novel Villains by Necessity. The near-extinct Nathauan race is known for their cruelty, rampant destruction, and penchant for eating any sentient race (including their own). Valeriana, one of the protagonists, is from said race...she can't be as bad as all that, right? Wrong. When she arrives and her power is questioned, she looses a fireball as a demonstration, with total disregard for anyone or anything in the way. She then treats the party as if she's an Evil Overlord and they her subjects, and after her weakness is exposed she only agrees to rein in her more extreme impulses because the fate of the world is slightly more important...and only because saving the world means there will still be a world to terrorize six months later. That said, it's shown that her kind were capable of love.
The Judoon Commander in the Doctor Who novel Judgement of the Judoon. Over the course of the book he remains obsessed with justice and rather heavy-handed about delivering it, but he becomes less a Well-Intentioned Extremist version of the Old-Fashioned Copper, and more aware of how his definition of "justice" affects other people. He even develops a sense of humour.
This has happened to several draconians in the Dragonlance setting, most notably Kang and his regiment.
Gnimsh the gnome is one as well. He's the only gnome whose inventions actually work, and because of that, he's reviled by other gnomes since he "sets back creative development by decades".
There are a few gnomes whose inventions work. They're known as thinker gnomes(as opposed to the regular tinker gnomes), and they're sane.(Regular gnomes are supposed to be cursed by Reorx.) Similar are afflicted kender, the ones who survived Malystrx destroying Kendermore and now know fear. They are serious and not childish. One can play as either in the D&D setting, even though AT BEST there's a couple thousand of either.
In this case, the book implies this is because the particular character is more highly evolved than the rest of his race.
The Dragaera books have each "House" as a Planet of Hats, and in general, major characters are developed outside of their hat, or even contradict it.
Teckla are supposed to be cowardly peasants, but in the novel Teckla, Vlad meets one who is a rather insufferable revolutionary. Athyra, which has a Teckla as the viewpoint character, suggests that Teckla only seem cowardly out of necessity, because they're at such a disadvantage to other Houses.
Dragons are known for being militaristic and ultra-ambitious, but Vlad's partner Kragar is totally unambitious. He's also so completely ignorable that it became impossible for him to actually command troops, forcing him out of the house altogether.
As many of those Yeerks are quick to point out, if you get all of your initial information on what Yeerks are like from Andalites, then it may just be that some of that information is not entirely accurate.
Rhunön from the Inheritance Cycle is not like other elves at all. Rather than gracefully singing to plants, she works in a forge. Where most elves are polite, reserved, and evasive, she's somewhat crude, loud, and honest. In a series with Elves VS Dwarves in effect, she and Orik get along very well. In the third book, she states that she hates what the elves have become, comparing them to statues in how much emotion they show.
A variant occurs in the 1632 novels. The Hapsburg family are easily the most solid antagonists of the series, most opposed to the changes brought by the Ring of Fire. They are also known for being generally ignorant - perhaps alone among European rulers, King Philip IV of Spain makes little attempt to replicate up-time technologies. His brother Fernando, on the other hand, who was essentially the Spanish viceroy in the Low Countries, decides to crown himself King of the Spanish Lowlands, creating the Dutch Hapsburgs as a third branch of the family. He also arranges an unofficial peace with the USE. While he remains nominally a vassal of his elder brother, the Spanish Lowlands are effectively neutral, and he is working to the point that he will be able to openly oppose the Spanish Hapsburgs (and the Austrians, although they will probably be busy dealing with the imminent Ottoman invasion).
In Discworld, Cheery Littlebottom, the Watch's forensic department, is part this. She doesn't like many traditional dwarf activities like quaffing, mining and singing about gold, and she certainly doesn't like the fact that traditional dwarves aren't supposed to say whether they're male or female. She wants to wear earrings and makeup and a skirt, though shaving her beard is still out of the question.
Taylor Anderson's Destroyermen series has a violent race of Lizard Folk called the Grik who only care about the Hunt. Most of them are the mindless Uul. A few have grown to a level of maturity and intelligence to become members of the ruling class called the Hij. The Hij constantly seek out new prey for their hordes of Uul. The Hij care little for the Uul, using We Have Reserve tactics to defeat the prey. In the third novel, the crew of the USS Walker meets a Grik-like creature whom some humans have named Lawrence. Lawrence has striped coloring, unusual for a Grik, and is actually quite calm. He reveals that his people, the Tagranesi, who are of the same species as the Grik but are a different race. Unlike the Grik, the Tagranesi care for their young and teach them to be civilized and cooperative. They peacefully interact with the New British Empire and have even learned to understand and speak (to an extent) English. They still hunt but only for food and to kill dangerous predators. They also defend themselves against other tribes. They also never engage in cannibalism and consider the thought repugnant, unlike their Grik cousins.
Daetrin Haal of The Madness Season does not like to identify with vampire cliches, to the point where he refuses to transform into a bat, even when trapped underground where echolocation would really help him get around. During a number of flashbacks, he even has qualms against hunting humans for food, despite peer pressure from other immortals.
Rlain in The Stormlight Archive was the only Parshendi to defect to the side of the humans, and is quite possibly the only one left who hasn't evolved into a Voidbringer.
Live Action TV
Andromeda was for the most part able to sidestep the need for this among the Nietzscheans, as their "hat" was "Enlightened self-interest", which could be made to justify just about any action the plot required them to take. (Turn on my friends? Sure, if it's in my long-term interest. Not turn on my friends? Sure, if I think it'll be useful for me to keep on their good side. Sacrifice my life to save the universe? Sure, if it makes me posthumously famous and gets my kids all kinds of breaks in life.)
Interestingly, Gaheris Rhade, a Nietzschean in the series, was quite depressed at what a race of self-absorbed bastards his species turned out to be. In his own words, "Our people were meant to be living gods, warrior-poets who roamed the stars bringing civilization, not cowards and bullies who prey on the weak and kill each other for sport."
In a separate example from Andromeda, Rev Bem was a religious "Wayist", despite being a member of the Magog, nightmare-inducing plague of the galaxy. Apparently the religion was actually founded by one of his race, but very few of its members are.
Much time in Babylon 5 was spent showcasing how all the seemingly hat-like races are really more several individuals than anything else (well, at least the major races), meaning that this trope isn't really that applicable.
One big exception would be Vir, a Centauri who is pro-social reform and uninterested in status or advancement in society, while being genuinely interested in exchanging cultural ideas with other aliens. He later becomes emperor of what is presumably a less asshatty Centauri Republic.
The Centauri courtesan-slave Adira points out that not all Centauri engage in digging up dirt on others to gain leverage on friend and foe alike. Londo—her master—points out that such people tend to be at the lower rungs of Centauri society.note Londo eventually sees the error of the Centauri way, and engineers his own death to ensure that Vir gets the throne.
This trope apparently also applies to Kosh. It's mostly his words and actions that make the Vorlons appear as benevolent, though enigmatic Starfish Aliens. It later turns out that even though they appear to less advanced races in the form of "angels", they are not the forces of Good to oppose the Shadows forces of Evil. Instead they are really just using the younger races to prove that their ideology of Order is superior to the Shadows ideology of Chaos, while not having any actual interest in the well-being of lesser creatures. Kosh is the noticeable exception, as he constantly watches over people whom he believes to be important for the younger races to liberate themselves from the old ones, going so far as opposing his own government and sacrificing his life. Lyta comments after having Ulkesh in her head that she felt that unlike him, Kosh actually cared for the younger races.
Of course, we only ever meet Kosh and Ulkesh. Since the Vorlons are so damned opaque, we never know exactly how orthodox Ulkesh was or how unorthodox Kosh was. For all we know, the race as a whole could be somewhere in the middle, or even lean towards Kosh a bit.
We are all Kosh.
Considering the Vorlons later start destroying entire planets (with civilian populations numbering in the millions) it is very unlikely that most of them were like Kosh. If nothing else, their leaders certainly weren't.
Word of God is that Ulkesh was a better example of your typical (if such a word can be applied to them) Vorlon. Kosh was very much an outsider in his views on the younger races. Which makes sense. If the Vorlons take no interest in the affairs of others, as Kosh pointed out early in the series, what sort of Vorlon would become an Ambassador?
The Cylons in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica don't necessarily stand in for communists, but still exhibit a fierce collectivism, at least until two Cylons Caprica Six and Boomer end up becoming celebrities of a sort prompting the other Cylons, or maybe just D'Anna, to try to box them, but of course that fails and ultimately leads to a cultural revolution away from total uniformity and utter hatred of humans, the two aspects of Cylon culture that Caprica and Boomer challenged. So, semi-subverted?
Religion is a major element in the series, with the Cylons characterized by their faith in the One True God, while the Colonials worship the Lords of Kobol (basically the Greek gods). However, Adama (the military leader of the Colonials) and Cavil (arguably the Cylon leader) are both atheists. Similarly, the Sagittaron "hat" is a more fundamentalist form of Colonial religion (which also involves a rejection of modern medicine), but Dee, the most prominent Sagittaron character on the show, doesn't wear the hat.
In Doctor Who, the Cybermen are all emotionless, computer-controlled slaves... except for the one in "Doomsday", who manages to break her programming and stop the other Cybermen. She was already like a robot before she was Cybermanized though, so they might have just skipped a couple steps in her "upgrade."
And then from Torchwood there's Lisa, who , well... tries. She does try.
The Cult of Skaro has produced two of these. They are a select group of Daleks who exist to "imagine", to find new ways to assure that the Dalek race remains supreme. As such they have far more individuality than most Daleks, even their own names. First Dalek Sec merged himself with a human, and found that (even though the human in question was a bit of a bastard), he now feels empathy and knows that the Daleks are flawed. He intends to make them even more human than he has become, but is killed before doing so. Dalek Caan, on the other hand, is a pure Dalek who is driven mad (and given the gift of prophecy) when he flies unprotected through the time vortex. He sees the Daleks for what they are by observing their actions throughout time and space, and arranges for the (almost) destruction of the entire species to prevent them from destroying the universe.
The Doctor could be seen as one of these, as well. The Time Lords were described as being bureaucratic, self-important, deriding of all other species, and hesitant to interfere with the nature of time and accidentally cause a paradox. So, the Doctor decided to go nick a TARDIS and explore the universe, later deciding to use his powers to help people.
The villain of the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Return of the Living Dad turns out to be from the same race as the Time Tourists in "Delta and the Bannermen". His motivation is largely that he's fed up of belonging to a species that nobody takes seriously; the Navarinos are seen as so harmless that the Time Lords never even bothered to stop them having time travel.
Inverted with the Slitheen. At first, the characters just assume the Slitheen are an evil alien race — then the aliens explain that Slitheen is not their race, it's their surname, and that they're merely a single, renegade family. As far as anyone knows, the other Raxicoricofallapatorians are perfectly nice and normal.
The Goa'uld were presented as Always Chaotic Evil in the first season of Stargate SG-1. In the second, we got the Tok'ra, effectively La Résistance against the System Lords. Later still, we got an actual explanation, based on a piece of Applied Phlebotinum used by the Goa'uld, for why some of them become evil and others don't.
Which makes the early episode in which Daniel Jackson slaughters a tank full of Goa'uld babies even more of a Moral Dissonance than it was on first watching. And somehow he was never called on it.
The Goa'uld genetic memory. It transmits Evil too.
The sarcophagus! As immortality is evil - repeated use apparently screws with hormone levels and makes you keen on galactic domination. At least, that's posited in an episode after Daniel uses it a few times.
The Sarcophagus is the bit of Applied Phlebotinum. Interestingly though, the oldest of the lot Yu, is probably less evil than the other system lords, despite having more exposure to the thing than any of the others. Of course that may be because he's going senile.
To be fair, Daniel is the guy that indirectly saved humanity, the galaxy and so on several times, ascended (at least?) twice and Died For Our Sins in the process. And if during all this, he's not called on it by the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens which allow him (sort of) to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence, and he can even call them out, who are humans to actually call him out anyway? They didn't trust him when he became a Prior of the Ori, keeping his will and that almost ended badly because of it.
The Fifth Season episode, Meridian, explores this in great length. As Oma puts it "The success or failure of your deeds does not add up to the sum of your life. Your spirit cannot be weighed. Judge yourself by the intention of your actions and by the strength with which you faced the challenges that have stood in your way."
In Stargate Atlantis, the main characters run into a single good Wraith over the entire span of the show and the poor girl dies in that episode.
Not really: She isn't actually good. She was raised by a human man who thought he had "cured" her of needing to feed so she let him believe he had succeeded while she continued to kill humans. She does seem to want to avoid eating people if possible, but the point of the episode seems to be that it isn't possible. The repeated failed attempts to turn Wraith into humans seem to support this view.
Todd may be a better example. He may be a magnificent bastard, but he's at least willing to try to work with humans for mutual benefit.
The Klingons talk a lot — an awful lot — about how they are a Proud Warrior Race, but virtually any actual Klingon you might meet is almost certainly little better than a street thug. The most famous Klingon, Worf, knows this better than anyone, and it really disappoints him, having idealized his species while growing up in the Federation—and particularly because, though he could show his emotions more freely, he is otherwise already there: the ideal, moral, honorable, passionate Klingon warrior. Also true for various other species with Deep Dark Secrets.
This trope is the central premise of TNG episode "A Matter Of Honor", where Riker serves aboard a Klingon ship in an officer exchange program. They don't outright contradict their stereotype, but they're shown in a much more complete and complex light than they had been in TOS.
Also used with one of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's recurring background characters, a Klingon restaurateur of all things who is pudgy, tubby, and loves to serenade his customers with Klingonese folk songs while playing an accordion-like instrument. Not threatening at all. (Most of the Klingons we saw before were from at least minor nobility; this is about the only Klingon commoner we've met.)
Another good example would be the Ferengi from Deep Space 9. As time went on, several of the more ridiculous aspects of their civilization (particularly their treatment of women) were discarded by various characters (particularly Rom and Nog, the latter of whom eschewed a life of business for one in Starfleet).
This is most evident in the episode "Profit and Lace" where two Ferengi discuss the emancipation of women, pointing out the extremely obvious fact (even more ridiculous when you consider the Ferengi's 'hat' is 'rampant capitalism') that allowing women to make money allows them to spend money, and opens up all manner of new industries and opportunities for profit. (Creates more competition, though.) (It also shows that the Ferengi—or any other culture—will change in their own time and their own way, not by having change forced on them from outside.)
TNG episode "Suspicions" had a Ferengi scientist who notes that it's "almost a contradiction in terms" (presumably in that he's part of a scientific community that shares findings with no worry about "profit"; Ferengi tech does seem to be up to par with Federation tech throughout TNG...).
Quark zig-zags on this trope. He is a Small Name, Big Ego who regularly claims to uphold (and often does) the Ferengi values of avarice and misogyny, yet he frequently runs into pangs of conscience that tell him to do otherwise (like not screwing over his friends for latinum, or paying Pel to travel). Though Odo and the Federation frown on what he tries to get away with all the time, he also runs afoul of his Ferengi regulator by getting guilted into charitable, "hu-man"-itarian, and philanthropic activities, or taking "only" a 30% kickback on his employees' tips.
In the episode "The Magnificent Ferengi", we meet a Ferengi who finds more pleasure in fighting and hunting than in latinum. Quark and the others find him very strange for this, but they do acknowledge that he's a great warrior.
The changelings in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine are fanatically obsessed with order. Having had bad experiences with fearful species, they turned to enslavement, brainwashing, and domination. Odo was abandoned to infiltrate other species and learn their culture before instinctively returning to the homeworld. However, integrating into Bajoran society went horribly well and instead of wanting to dominate others, he devoted his entire life to justice. When he finally does return to his homeworld, he is shocked to find the rest of his species to be oppressive dictators and instead stays with his friends to help them defend against being conquered.
A strange example occurs in Star Trek: Enterprise. The Vulcans are characterized not only by logic and the silencing of emotion, but also by duplicity and paranoia, not unlike Romulans of earlier series. The Syrrannites are a rogue sect who strive towards the ideals of Surak, a legendary Vulcan pathfinder (in that, if Vulcans bothered with religion, he would be their Moses). They eventually come into such power that the hat changes, and henceforth all Vulcans are presented as wearing the rogue hat. So to speak.
The Vulcans in that series claimed to follow the teachings of Surak, but had "fallen", so to speak - they forgot what Surak had really stood for. T'Pol says that reading Surak's works were a life-changing experience for her.
Same Vulcan problem, different series: the "Take Me Out to the Holosuite" episode from Deep Space Nine, in which Capt. Solok's anti-Sisko crusade, supposedly in the name of logic, bears an odd resemblance to the behavior of a schoolyard bully. As many fans have noted, Solok's resemblance to the Enterprise-era Vulcans is far greater than to the more recent (timeline-speaking) incarnations.
Or perhaps not so strange if one bothers to look at how Vulcans were originally portrayed: in the episode where Sarek is introduced, the longstanding disagreement between him and Spock over Spock's decision to go into Starfleet is clearly more emotion than logic, and they get called out on it by the other characters. When Sarek proclaims his marriage to Amanda was "logical", he's clearly trying to get her goat (most illogical) and the rest of the cast (and her) recognize this. In the episode which takes place on Vulcan, the whole plot involves duplicity (in the name of logic) on the part of T'Pring and Stonn. The notion that the Vulcans in Enterprise were somehow "wrong" is based on Fanon and non-canon novels that accumulated over the years.
Another strange example are the El-Aurians, Guinan's people. Their hat is supposed to be that they're great listeners, but Guinan is the only example of this we've seen; the other two El-Aurians we've seen in major roles are Con Man Mazur from the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Rivals", whose ability to listen is an Informed Attribute (it gets mentioned, but he doesn't come across as especially perceptive) and Soran from Star Trek: Generations, who is far too busy being an Omnicidal Maniac.
Soran boasts of the El-Aurians' listening skills while practicing Cold-Blooded Torture on Geordi, so he himself may be unclear on the concept.
Although, it should be noted that El-Aurians abilities are partially empathic as well and Soran's choice of words to Picard indicate that he was aware of the death of his family in a fire. There are more ways to "listen" than just with words, after all.
The Cardassians are initially presented as the Planet of Secret Police, but as time goes on it's eventually revealed that they do have a history of democracy and political diversity to rival humans - they're just stuck in an ongoing cycle of poverty, dictatorship, military overspending... And all of the Cardassians we meet for the first few seasons are from the military, which is coincidentally the only reliable way to get fed. Imagine judging humans if the only country you landed in was North Korea. They end the series on another major disaster and it's left unclear whether the cycle will continue.
Angel, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. All vampires are evil except for him, because his hat, somewhat literally, fell off when he got his soul back. The same with Spike, although it took him quite a while to get into the real fight.
Lorne, aka The Host, born in a demon dimension where humans are cattle, everyone is a deathly serious Proud Warrior Race Guy, and there is no music (only dancing!). Lorne, on the other hand, hates fighting, loves humans, and has the power to read people's souls when they sing karaoke.
Red Dwarf includes a rather bizarre example. In the Series 6 episode Rimmerworld, Arnold crash lands on an alien planet and begins cloning himself in order to gain companions. Skip a few hundred years, and the planet's inhabitants wind up revering any and all Rimmer-like behavior, including cowardice, selfishness, and honest to goodness double-dealing two-facedness, with those who deviate from the norm being hunted down. Ironically, it's the original Rimmer who becomes an outcast because he's too un-Rimmer-like.
"Outcast" is putting it lightly. They tried to kill him, but he was saved by his Hard Light drive so they locked him up instead. After all, he was Dead All Along.
In Smallville, it is shown that most Kryptonians are cold and logical, and believe that You Can't Fight Fate. They tend to look down on the human race. It was even implied that Clark Kent had been sent to Earth to conquer it. Naturally, Clark decides to Screw Destiny and protect the world, embracing his love and compassion. Clark later meets Dax-Ur, Raya, a clone of his mother Lara, and Kara, who think similarly (the first three died, and Kara went to the future).
Played with in Supernatural with the demon Ruby. There are a lot of suggestions (particularly in the third series) that she has retained her humanity, particularly the capacity for empathy. Throughout the third and fourth series, the other characters bring this into question a lot.
There's also the question of the AngelCastiel, particularly his unquestioning obedience and how disconnected he really is from human suffering.
Eventually Cas goes rogue from Heaven and begins to slowly Fall into a human, firmly joining the Winchester group of True Companions despite remaining a weirdo. Then he dies. Then he gets better, with new and improved powers. Then he goes slowly over the deep end while trying to lead the pro-human side of the Second War In Heaven, and eventually betrays everyone in the quest for enough power to end all this suffering, and declares A God Am I...if we throw in the mid-Season Four brainwashing to sew his hat back on, this guy has spent three seasons (half the series) playing Three-Handed-Hat-Juggling.
Ruby turns out to be a subversion, however, when it's revealed that she's actually The Mole, and the whole thing was an act to gain the Winchesters' (particularly Sam's) trust.
Meg is probably the least demony of all demons. Though still clearly evil and enjoys the pain of others, she is willing to work with the Winchesters for her own benefit even though killing them would effectively take the target off her back. Most demons torture or kill without question which is why most of them wear Red Shirts.
Crowley seems better fit for human life as he is more civilized and always up for a good negotiation. This makes him similar to Todd from Stargate: Atlantis or Ba'al from Stargate SG-1. They're all bad but they at least give you time for a nice conversation before trying to kill you.
On Farscape, Scarrans are generally aggressive, tyrannical, and utterly ruthless... except for Naj Gil, the Peacekeeper test-subject encountered in "Fractures." Acting as The Big Guy to the Similar Squad of fugitives, he wasn't exactly the most sociable of the group, but he was definitely the calmest of them; apparently spending time being tortured and surgically abused by Peacekeeper weapons scientists did a lot to dispell the usual Scarran arrogance. He gets bridge-dropped in his second appearance.
While we don't see many Nebari during the show's run, what we do see suggests that Chiana was very atypical. The other Nebari are militaristic and devoted to the state, while she is a criminal and a trelk. One episode reveals that she and her brother Neri were secretly infected with a disease and allowed to flee Nebari space, since they would sleep around and infect many members of enemy races.
Religion and Mythology
On the topic of demons, Lucifer, the Big Bad of Christianity. Was an angel before he became, well, the Big Bad . Angels being a race whose "hat" is pure good and unquestioning loyalty to God, then some decided to say "Screw that, I wanna BE God." He's also a trope in and of himself. Even when you look at it from the point of view of his being a "demon" (which he isn't… he's still an angel, just a fallen one), he's got a pretty good rep in a lot of areas for not being one of the really violent, icky demons.
Islam has the reverse: Satan was of a different race from the angels (the jinn, whence we get "genie") made of living, smokeless fire, who like humans have free will. Satan refused to bow to Adam when God created him, cursing that God created a creature of "dirt" (Satan, being a fire creature, viewed himself as more "pure") and led most of the Jinn against God. However, many of the Jinn returned to God over time, what with prophets and their messages trickling down to wherever they reside (frequently not Hell.)note And very frequently inside your living-room wall. This is part of the reason the Qur'an's basic message about jinn is more or less "yes, they exist, yes, they can be anywhere, now would you please stop worrying about it?"
Classical Mythology gives us Chiron, the only good Centaur. Almost all of the other Centaurs were vicious, self-serving brutes, but Chiron was a wise healer and teacher of Heracles, Theseus, and Jason. His accidental death at the hands of Heracles resulted in his transformation into a constellation (either Sagittarius or Centaurus). Chiron was not actually related to the other centaurs, although he looked like them. They were the children of Ixion, a mortal king, and a cloud that he mistook for the Goddess Hera, and were a punishment for his lust. Chiron was the son of the Titan Cronus. There was one other civilized Centaur—Pholus, who depending on what myth you read was either an unusual but ordinary Centaur or (like Chiron) not actually one. Pholus died in the same incident when he pricked himself with the arrow that killed Chiron while preparing Chiron's body for burial.
Previous editions of Dungeons & Dragons noted that Always Chaotic Evil needn't mean Always, just 'The exceptions are less than one millionth of the overall population' (in the case of the Modrons, that exception is almost surely of the same alignment as the common Modron, ruleswise, but still). Merely usually Chaotic Evil races (such as the Drow) would have a fairly significant portion of the populace having other alignments... such as Neutral Evil.
A designer once mentioned in regards to Cambions (half demon-half human Always Chaotic Evil types) that if you say one in one hundred Cambions aren't evil, that's the one they'll meet.
When Eberron was designed, they figured this trope was inevitable and threw most alignment restrictions out the window.
Nusemnee, introduced in a supplement on dead gods, is the daughter of Zehir, evil god of poison, and who is a devil, became good aligned. She was a goddess of redemption.
One of the D&D Fight club characters is a Succubus Paladin named Eludecia. She is redeemed through The Power of Love and grows to become a powerful force for good. The main version is a heroic individual, but the same article provides stats for her assuming she falls back to evil somehow.
The "Book of Exalted Deeds" had a mind flayer who'd learned the error of its ways and chosen to fight for the good guys. Presumably it eats the brain of one convicted serial killer per month, or something.
Due to the vagueness of the randomly-rolled origins in Gamma World, you can easily refluff your character into one of these. And earlier editions did have playable versions of the monster races.
Goblins in Magic: The Gathering are often used to comical effect for their sheer stupidity (as the flavour text on most goblin-related cards shows). And then in the Mirrodin block we're introduced to Slobad, a goblin who was outcast from his tribe for being too smart.
This is actually depicted even earlier in the Kyren goblins of Mercadian Masques...who are actually running the entire city of Mercadia. As the flavor text of one card puts it: "Mercadia's Kyren goblins are the opposite of Dominarian goblins: they're smart and cowardly."note As opposed to dumb and headstrong
New Phyrexia has a straighter example in Urabrask the Hidden, the Praetor of red mana. As a result of belonging to the colour of individuality, freedom and emotion, he's marginally nicer than the other Praetors (he favours 'non-interference' over You Will Be Assimilated or Final Solution on the matter of the Mirran survivors).
Somewhat trivially used in the first edition of Talislanta, where the Tanasian faction in Cymril wear the Hat of being Wizard-Guys In Green And Yellow. Their city is made of green and yellow glass, they dress in green and yellow, they're humans who have yellow-green skin. In contrast, the Pharesian sect are Cymrillians who got sick of the color green, left their homeland in disgust, and dress in multicolored garments while painting their bodies with every color but green. Later editions played it more realistically: the monochromatic color-scheme is just a demonstration of Cymril's excessive conformity, which is what the Pharesians really hate.
Warhammer 40,000 has Tau Commander Farsight. He and the forces under him broke away from the Tau Empire and formed their own faction, the Farsight Enclave, because they refused to go along with the Brainwashing for the Greater Good that the Ethereal caste are implied to practice.
BIONICLE: The Brotherhood of Makuta are the main enemies in the series. They originally were supposed to be the protectors of the universe, but they reneged and sided under Teridax. The ones who, initially, protested were all hunted and killed. Krika is one of the few of the new order who's considerably less evil, granting mercy and offering the heroes escape to stop the Plan. It's implied he misses the time where he and his species were heroes. The original leader of the brotherhood, Miserix, while brutal was loyal to Mata Nui and didn't take his overthrow well, after he's rescued for prison, he really wanted to go after Teridax. It was noted that he, like all Makuta, was selfish, but he would never let his self-interest rule his destiny.
In most party-based RPGs, the player character and his crew of supporting characters are adventurers, children, or otherwise unemployed, making the party's characters being exceptions to their various social norms somewhat justifiable. After all, it's not the typical, productive members of a civilization capable of settling down and learning the racial trade that are going to tend to hare off into the sunset looking for magical fairy treasure.
In Baldur's Gate, the Player Character itself is a child of the God of Murder, and although you are allowed to follow in Daddy's footsteps as a force of evil, the game mostly expect the player to want to be a hero and act in a nice way. The PC's half-sister, Imoen, is in the same circumstance as a Child of Bhaal and is distinctly on the bright and cheerful side of Good. All your other Brothers and Sisters, however, are Warlords and Mass-Murderers to a man/woman/elf/drow/fire giant/dragon/half-dragon/werechincilla....
On the other hand, the first game shows that the murderous Children of Bhaal have actually been hunting the less power-hungry axe-wielding ones, and so the ones that the player gets to meet are the "cream of the crop". This is especially true for the Throne of Bhaal expansion, where most of the Bhaalspawn are met.
In a Brick Joke, we do actually get to meet a relatively peaceful, non Ax-Crazy Bhaalspawn- During the Shadows of Amn, a man in a bar yells, "A Bhaalspawn? Here?" And seemingly explodes/ teleports. In the Throne of Bhaal, we learn that his Bhaalspawn ability is that he teleports whenever he gets really scared. Unfortunately, to "help him," the Big Bad removes his ability to be afraid. Which would be great- Except the city he's in is under siege by a Bhaalspawn who wants to kill all his siblings. A Side Quest involves helping him out, although it's possible the teleportation scrambling magic killed him- According to the end game, you and Imoen were the only one's left alive, so they probably got him somehow.
In the same game, one of the potential NPC's who can join your party is Viconia, an member of the evil drow race forced to flee from her home in the Underdark and live in exile on the surface. Despite an otherwise perfect setup for a 'hatless' existence, she specifically states that she is still power-hungry and a murderer and spends most of her time trying to convince the PC to give in to their murderous nature in order to exploit their godly power. And yet, if you enter into a romance with her, at one point she reveals that the reason she was exiled in the first place is because she was verging on being a paragon of morality among her kin - that is, while she was perfectly happy to murder and kill in the name of her evil religion she didn't want to sacrifice children on the grounds that they were worthless as sacrifices, and only represented unquestioned subservience to her spider-goddess rather than a valuable offering. If you continue the quest to its completion, you find out that she loved her brother (love supposedly an emotion alien to the vicious drow culture) and will eventually renounce her evil ways for the love of the PC, dropping her firmly in this Trope.
A reoccurring joke in the Baldur's Gate series is references to, and eventually the appearance of, Drizzt Do'Urden - another drow who forsook his evil birthright to champion goodness and justice. He is the archetype within RPG systems as being the one exception to an overwhelming Always Chaotic Evil situation.
In the 2nd game, an Ogre Mage named Madulf and his followers, a few Gnolls and other Ogres, are initially blamed for the attacks on the village in Umar Hills. You can kill them...or you can listen to his side of the story. Madulf explains that he and his men were just tired of fighting and arrived here hoping to live in peace. They are also in the same boat as the villagers since his men are also being killed by the same dark force. Madulf and his men just want to be left alone and allowed to trade goods in the village in peace. Helping them to do just that nets you a hefty amount of experience.
Neverwinter Nights has another long list of NPCs who seem to be the only exception to their races' normal behaviour. Daelan Red Tiger is a Half-Orc Barbarian who is not a psychopathic thug (even though he's Chaotic Good and obsessed with honor), Grimnaw is a Dwarf who has neither a battleaxe nor a beard, Linu Lanaeril is a clumsy Elf, Haedraline is an Old One who does not support Queen Morag's resurrection, and the Player Character can be just about anything you want, from an Intellectual Half-Orc to an Elven Barbarian.
The Shadows of Undrentide expansion features Xanos and Dorna as your companions. Xanos is an intellectual Half-Orc Sorcerer, whereas Dorna is a Dwarven Thief, and she has little interest in Dwarven culture.
The Hordes of the Underdark expansion keeps up the trend. Deekin the Kobold bard is apparently the only literate and adventurous member of his species; Nathyrra is another Good drow; and Aribeth is a Paladin who is not utterly prudish and takes several opportunities to flirt with the PC.
Nathyrra is both the proof of, and the exception to the Trope. Although she is a Good member of an Always Chaotic Evil, she is also one of the followers of Eilistraee, a Good Goddess forbidden to be worshipped by most drow but still manages to garner a reasonably sized following, a good deal of whom are met in the game as NPC's. She does have an evil alignment, but this seems to be just a way to give her the Assassin specialisation.
In the vanilla campaign, you can find an intellectual orc who serves as an advisor to a fire giant leader. He gets offended if you comment that he's "quite well-spoken for an elf".
Hagspawn are ugly, often violent brutes with none of the magical power their hag mothers have... except for Gannayev, your hagspawn companion in the Mask of the Betrayer expansion pack, who is instead a handsome Casanova with the ability to enter and travel through people's dreams (a power which he uses to get laid even in his sleep). It's a Justified Trope in this case: Instead of his mother raping and then eating his father as is usual for hags, the two were actually in love.
Umoja the Druid from Storm of Zehir, is a hilarious Large Ham rather than being obsessed with balance like the typical druid. In the words of writer Annie Carlson "I made him SPECIFICALLY to be easygoing and not to be all "blah blah blee bloo balance" all the time but to just be awesome".
Belueth the Calm, also from Storm of Zehir, is a Neutral Evil aasimar, a cold, hard-hearted mercenary and professional thief. Aasimar, humans with good-aligned extraplanar beings in their ancestry, are usually good-aligned and often attracted to paladinhood.
In Dragon Age: Origins, the Architect is a darkspawn who seeks to end the Blights that the rest of his species cause. Unfortunately, he has no comprehension of morality and thus is willing to kill millions to make this possible, making him more of a threat than the rest of his kind. This trope can be played straight by one of his subordinates, who, if spared, walks Thedas helping people in need, while inadvertantly spreading the Blight.
In Dragon Age II, this is part of Bartrand and Varric's Sibling Yin-Yang. Bartrand is obsessed with reclaiming his family's place in dwarven nobility, while Varric has been soured on nearly every dwarf stereotype and thinks anyone who chooses to live underground is nuts.
If a Mage, Hawke frequently shows their irritation towards Apostates who resort to using Blood Magic and consorting with Demons.
The Grand Oak, from the first game, is a Sylvan that, unlike its highly aggressive brethren, is perfectly civil and will help you reach the heart of the forest if you retrieve his acorn for him. He also speaks in rhyme and jokingly calls himself a "poet tree".
Super Mario RPG introduces Monstro Town, a hidden village run by an elderly Toad lady for "reformed monsters." Surprisingly, Bowser himself is perfectly okay with several of his Mooks defecting and staying there.
The Paper Mario series further expands on this trope by introducing whole communities of Goombas, Koopas, etc. that are a part of and allied with the Mushroom Kingdom instead of Bowser. A handful of these monsters team up with Mario in each of the first two games and end up fighting members of their own species.
In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the Twili are a peaceful race who are content with life in the Twilight Realm. With the exception of Zant, who felt like an insect trapped in a cage, and wanted freedom for him and his people.
According to Queen Oren in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, River Zoras are technically allies of the Hylians but are usually very territorial and will attack anyone inside said territory despite her giving them orders NOT to attack Hylians. This also explains the River Zoras' hostility compared to the Zoras of the post-Ocarina of Time console games.
The same game features a timid Hinox who will give Link money for leaving him alone. Demand too many Rupees, however, and he'll get angry and attack.
Urdnot Wrex of Mass Effect, at first glance, appears to be another typical krogan. However, it turns out that a long time ago, he tried to convince his people to give up their warlike tendencies and just focus on breeding and survival after their last disastrous war. He wasn't very successful, and now is just another bitter, angry krogan mercenary who signs up with Shepard for the money. Later on in the game, however, Wrex reveals that he's stayed on with Shepard for so long because he felt that by joining Shepard, he could finally fight for a cause more valuable than just credits.
Also in Mass Effect 2, Legion is an odd case. His role in the story fits this trope. He's the one geth you meet who doesn't worship the Reapers, and doesn't want to kill all organics. But he's actually the first representative we've seen of the main-stream geth culture. The geth that Shepard has been fighting all along are a splinter faction Legion refers to as "heretics."
Yet again in Mass Effect 2 could be the batarian you meet at beginning of Mordin's recruitment mission. While nearly all batarians we have met up to this point have been A) criminals, B) slavers or C) all of the above, this one is simply a normal guy afflicted with a plague, and is verbally thankful to Commander Shepard. It has actually been noted that due to the dictatorial Batarian government, few people outside of Batarian space actually meet an average Batarian citizen.
Mass Effect 3 confirms the same is true of most batarians. From the refugees we see from Khar'shan - the batarian homeworld which was destroyed by the Reapers - most are very pleasant, and they are revealed to be a deeply spiritual people with their own pillars of faith. Most are more than happy to talk to Shepard and receive aid from him/her.
Matriach Aethyta, who works as a bartender in Illium, is extremely dillusioned with how her people prefers to spend their golden years being sexual playthings or mercenaries instead of serving the Asari republic meaningfully, such as strengthening their military and expanding their scientific knowledge. She even mentions how she was mocked by other asari for the "absurd" idea of studying and building their own mass relays. So now, she tends bar.
She is even a double.... "Protester", since she is also half krogan. Although she does seem pretty violent sometimes, she is often shown as being not, too, as in the example above.
Liara is at the age when you're told that most asari are out in the galaxy whoring it up and/or shooting it up. Instead, she's initially happy to be a solitary archeologist and researcher. It's unknown if this is related to who her "father" is revealed to be: Aethyta. Asari are also commonly stereotyped as sexually promiscuous, and Liara's a virgin as of Mass Effect 1, though according to her just how prone to promiscuity asari are tends to be exaggerated by other species.
A sidequest on Illium in Mass Effect 2 can end in you sending a crime boss evidence that some of his people are stealing from him. You are later met by a meticulously polite krogan who wishes to pass on his employer's thanks, and a small compensation for your help.
Elsewhere in the same game, you meet several krogan scientists and a krogan mechanic. While the scientists' opinion of their lots in life vary (one is enthusiastic, another simply laments that he's not able spend his time researching better ways to destroy things), the mechanic has a Badass Boast that without skilled technicians like him, there is no krogan might. And of course, the entire krogan arc in Mass Effect 3 is made of this, by allowing Shepard to learn what the krogan used to be like, and could be like again.
On Illium you find an Asari and her Krogan boyfriend who are "taking a break" as she's unsure whether he just wants to be with her so he can have kids. The Krogan, Char, is trying to woo her and show that he really loves her... by reciting his poetry. Despite being a little corny it is a really sweet love poem. Both Shepard and the Asari comment on how unusual this is
You can later find them on Tuchanka where you find out that a few of the other Krogans aren't to happy about her being there... and Char genuinely doesn't seem to care, whereas most Krogans would have responded by headbutting anyone who bad mouthed their girlfriend
Unfortunately, they reappear in Mass Effect 3 - the Asari is a shopkeeper on the Citadel who gets some background chatter about Char with a racist customer. She mentions that he is deployed. You can find Char's corpse and a farewell message to his 'Blue Rose of Illium' while entering the Rachni nest with Aralakh Company and deliver the message to his girlfriend.
The rachni queen is a member of a race famous for bringing the galaxy to its knees in a scuttling tide, who claims she wishes only to live in peace, far away from the rest of the galaxy. She's telling the truth, and it turns out the hat in question was installed on their heads by either the Reapers or the Leviathans.
And more recently, Eludecia the Succubus Paladin from Wizards' D&D Fight Club.
There's also Nordom from the same game, who's a rogue modron.
Robot examples in the Sonic the Hedgehog series: E-102 Gamma and E-123 Omega both overcame their evil programming and turned against Doctor Eggman. Gamma freed the other E-series robots and then sacrificed himself to free the Flicky inside him, Omega joined Shadow and Rouge and still fights against Eggman.
In Star Control II, green tentacle alien Admiral ZEX is the only member of the xenophobic VUX who doesn't find humans repulsively ugly. In fact, he finds them "attractive". However, it could also be that he finds them as repulsive as the rest of his race, and is just sexually aroused by ugly things...
The Spathi have the Black Spathi Squadron, a band of rogue Spathi who, unlike the normal cowardly Spathi, wander space "performing brave and hostile deeds". They're never actually encountered in the game and are mentioned only in rumors; their existence is denied by the Spathi authorities.
This happens to Proud Warrior Race Guy Orlok The Eternal in Universe At War: Earth Assault as he abandons the Hierarchy and starts a rebellion against them.
Darkspear and Revantusk trolls from Warcraft are sociable, loyal to the orcs and hate gave up cannibalism due to devotion to the Horde in sharp contrast to the other trolls who are cannibalistic and xenophobic. The latter is somehow even able to get along with, or at least tolerate, their ancient enemies the high/blood elves.
Another example would be Eitrigg, an Orc who left the evil Horde as he saw that they have abandoned the Proud Warrior Race Guy ways and have become Always Chaotic Evil under demonic influence. He later on returns to the Horde after they have become good again under Thrall's leadership.
The Darkspear/Revantusk-Blood Elf relations are a testament both to how atypical those tribes are and how far blood elves have come from being a race on the brink of extinction to where they are now.
Several of the undead who joined the Argent Crusade seem to feel this way about the Forsaken, most notably Leonid Barthalomew.
Tsukihime clearly established that once you've been bitten by a vampire, there's no turning back, you're boned, and the guy who bit you will now be a horrible bloodsucking monster. See: Satsuki, Arcueid. Six months of story time later, we have Melty Blood where Sion was bitten three years ago and is still almost entirely normal. In at least one route she even actually turns into a vampire after biting Wallachia but after getting beaten up for a bit she decides it's not really that much worse than it was before and she can still resist drinking blood and viewing people as lunch. She then leaves and goes back to work. Wait, what?
Justified Trope: Satsuki is actually pretty normal, as long as she is not under Roa's direct influence. Furthermore, Wallachia isn't a true vampire, and didn't have a physical form. Thus, it allowed Sion, who is also a powerful mage, to take great lengths to prevent herself from turning fully. Furthermore, note that Shiki himself managed to resist possession by Roa for a long period, and Sion was not 'drained/revived', like Satsuki was. In Short, there's a TON of circumstances that explain Sion's issues. (Note also that Satsuki regains most of her normal personality when she's playable.)
Llyud from Final Fantasy XII Revenant Wings, who apparently "exhibits a curiosity not commonly found among the Aegyl, for which he is regarded as something as a curiosity himself.", and sides with the Sky Pirates.
One of the underlying realities of Touhou is that life in (and under) Gensokyo has turned a lot of its more volatile residents into examples, yielding, at its worst, a tense understanding between humans and youkai.
Possibly because a certain miko goes around beating offenders up until they stop offending.
Most of the Demons in Devil May Cry are absolutely evil bastards. Except for Sparda, who turned against his own kind to save the Human race, married a Human woman, who then gave birth to his twin children. One of whom, Dante, became the main protagonist of the series. His brother Vergil… kinda the opposite happened with him. The animated series features a demon that Dante has been contracted to kill who has fallen in love with a human. When Dante encounters him in the alley, he asks Dante about his parent's relationship to validate the possibility of love in a demon.
A minor example of this occurs in Final Fantasy IX with Vivi's grandfather Quan, who abandoned the swamps inhabited by the Qu race after becoming disenchanted with the traditional gourmand ways. Seeking new ways to taste food, Quan thought of attempting to fish the Mist from the sky and eat it, but eventually realized the importance of imagination and sharing one's experiences and memories after he catches Vivi instead. Teaching Vivi gives Quan a new perspective on life and eating, which he eventually shares with Quina and Quale. Quale, who used to be Quan's student and is now Quina's teacher, was himself fairly upset with Quan's deserting the traditional gourmand ways, but seems to come around after Quina starts grasping Quan's teachings.
This actually ties in rather beautifully with the driving themes of the game when you think about it. Consider that the main theme of the game is, ostensibly, that "Life is precious not because of how long you live or how important you think you are, but because of how you choose to live it and what you do with the time you have". Quan's rejection of the shallow ways of most of his people - which basically consist of simply eating, and cooking for one's own self - enabled him to learn something deeper, giving him a unique individual strength and character which he shared with Vivi and later shared with Quina and Quale. Quina himself/herself is seen giving the same lesson to the Qu working in Alexandria's royal kitchens during the Epilogue.
Ralgha nar Hhallas (Hobbes to his friends), who turns against the Kilrathi and fights for the Terrans in Wing Commander. Subverted in the third game, when he is revealed to have been The Mole.
Rakeesh Sar Tarna from the Quest for Glory series; his fellow Liontaurs tend to be arrogant hotheads who think humans are inferior, while he himself is more even-tempered and noble. This also extends to his wife and children, but not his brother Rajah.
In Dungeons & Dragons Online, Drow are unlocked as a player race after you get 400 Favor (Or you pay for them). Chaotic Evil isn't a valid alignment for PCs, so every PC Drow you meet will be Chaotic Neutral at worst. Of course, the game is set in Eberron, so it's somewhat justified.
So subtly used in Spyro 2: Gateway to Glimmer that you're likely to miss it unless you know the mythos. The ending level after defeating Ripto is Dragon Shores, which is manned by several friendly and cheery Gnorcs. Gnorcs, for those that weren't aware while playing it, were the enemies in the prequel to Gateway to Glimmer, the first game in the series. This example is not only subtle, but indecisive; the Gnorcs in the first game were all created from gems. Does this mean that the Dragon Shore Gnorcs are the rogues to the overall horrible Gnorc race, or is Gnasty the rogue to the overall amiable Gnorc race?
The Grey Order from League of Legends, represented by Annie in-game, are a group of Noxians who decided that "being incredibly evil" wasn't much of a basis for a system of government and left to study dark magic.
Paarthurnax from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the leader of the Greybeards. During the Dragon Wars, he was the top lieutenant of Alduin, but had a change of heart and instead chose to aid the Ancient Nords, teaching them the Thu'um and thus allowing them to turn the tide against the Dragons. Despite being the closest thing in the game to a Big Good, he tells the Dragonborn that he still has the innate desire to destroy and dominate as all Dragons do and has to constantly fight to keep his urges in check. He lampshades that the same is true for the Dragonborn as well.
Skyrim also have a handful of Altmers who dislike the Thalmor for various reasons. One of the Legate in the Imperial Legion, who is an Altmer, mentions a story on how Altmer refugees who were openly against the Thalmor were killed by them and his reason being in Skyrim and joining the Legion is to keep an eye on the Thalmor. An Altmer shopkeeper in Windhelm even offers to use her black market contacts to help smuggle the local priest and priestess of Talos out of the city should the Thalmor ever come by.
Also in Skyrim, the Nords are portrayed as being mistrustful of magic at best, then you meet a few Nord mages who go against the general Nordic rejection of magic.
Faryl Atheron, a dark elf in Windhelm, works at a Nord farm and complains of his fellow Dunmers' "harping about injustices."
Orcs have a reputation of being warriors, and you can meet some old ones while traveling who wish to challenge you to combat so they can die a good death in battle. However, the librarian of the College of Winterhold is an orc who takes his job quite seriously.
With the many playable species, each with their own hats, and full moral choices, it's common for your character to act in a manner unbecoming of what others expect.
Only 1/3 of the playable races can be played on both the Republic and Empire, with the rest being exclusive to one side. However, if you complete a character's story for one race, you can unlock that race for yourself, regardless of class or allegiance. This can result PurebloodSiths and Chiss, overwhelmingly Imperial races, becoming light-sided defenders of the Republic, and pro-Republic races like Mirialan and Miraluka becoming some of the most dangerous Sith ever seen.
On the other hand, it's entirely possible to play a Pureblood Sith as a Light-Sided individual despite still being a Sith Lord.
Romulans and Remans siding with the Romulan Republic are this, tired of the backstabbing and treachery of old and would rather help reunite with their Vulcan comrades.
Federation players can play as Klingons with the reasoning that they'd rather not continue on with the Klingon Empire's constant bloodlust.
Players can encounter the Gorn aiding the Orion Syndicate on Nimbus III. When a Gorn player confronts them, they declare that they've strayed from their path by siding with the Klingons.
With the recent Season 8 addition, players can now add the Voth to their Duty Officer roster, the reasoning being that they believe that their long-held Doctrine, which made them Holier Than Thou, is a load of dino dung.
Downplayed with the Breen bridge officer you can get from playing the "Breen Invasion" story arc during featured episode events. Tran may have defected from the Breen Confederacy to whichever side you're on, but it's because he focuses on the "Proud" part of Proud Warrior Race Guy and believes his commanding officer's tactics, which include terror attacks on Deferi civilians, to be dishonorable.
Omega Xiz, and later Harp, from Mega Man Star Force are from the invading Planet FM, yet work with and empower humans rather than taking control of them like all the others who came to Earth. Except that it's later revealed that Omega is actually from Planet AM, which was destroyed by FM-ians, leaving Harp as the only genuine example.
Mosp, a Dimension of Pain demon ultimately betrays the demons in order to defend Torg. This is kind of an iffy example, however, as flashbacks reveal that Mosp was originally a human who was turned into a demon (though some Epileptic Trees believe this holds true for all demons).
Alt-Riff. As a citizen of the Dimension of Lame, he's supposed to be completely good/nice. However it's eventually revealed that one of his inventions accidentally killed his dimension's Torg. He then set about kidnapping Torgs from other dimensions to try and make things right.
On their airship cruise, Dominic and Luna in Dominic Deegan meet Brian, the chubby, fun loving Necromancer, who is also enjoying his vacation. He later turns out to be the immortal, quasi-divine First Necromancer, using the appearance he had in his youth as a disguise.
Thanks to Grey and Gray Morality, Drowtales deliberately deconstructs this. Instead of the Drow (and everyone else) being a Species of Hats it uses viewpoint characters who pretty much all have both flaws and things you can admire them for.
Jerak the Quasit Imp and his Succubus and Balor pals (Winnie and Grull) of Planescape Survival Guide gradually shifted to good partially due to the "corruption" of too much interaction with mortals while trapped on modern Earth. Jerak still insists he's evil, while in the middle of rescuing the main heroes.
Starscream: What's going on? You called in a medical emergency but gave no details.
Dreadmoon: Thrust decided to taunt The Fallen. The Fallen got a shot at us, but Thrust took the brunt of the blast.
Starscream: You used her as a shield, didn't you?
Dreadmoon: I'M A DECEPTICON! IT WAS A REFLEX!
Slightly Damned has Buwaro, and to a lesser extent, Sakido, who may well be the only demon who prefers hugs to blood. Although Buwaro was raised by an angel, brain damaged by an injury to his egg and repeatedly being hit in the head with a falling rock so he has reason to be different.
Phix of Wapsi Square is the only sphinx who refuses to kill demon-infested humans.
In Prophecy Of The Circle there's (unnamed as of now) a tek with black stripes on his face, who seems to be pretty amiable towards the tikedi and was even shown to help them on one occasion, while all other tekk seem to fly into a rage and try to attack any tikedi they notice.
Tem in Steampunk'd is obsessed with reminding people that dark elves aren't a culture of sociopathic murders anymore.
Which would require less protesting if they weren't, in fact, still sociopathic murders.
Ethan: Coup? I thought you said the last exchange of power was bloodless.
Tem: It was!
Guard: I've never had to choke as many politicians with my bare hands. Progressive politics is hard work.
In Homestuck, according to Word of God, the Dersites will always have at least one minion who follows this trope, and in a regular session, this Dersite essentially acts as an alternate questline to take down the Black King. In the main session, this is the Wayward Vagabond, who openly hates the monarchy and wants to create some form of democracy in its place.
Downplayed with Agrippa Varus of Terra. Like the rest of the Azatoth species he's a definite Proud Warrior Race Guy and not to be trifled with. However, as the son of a diplomat raised in frequent contact with other species, his emphasis of PWRG is on the "honorable warrior" connotation rather than the "Blood Knight asshole" aspect. He also doesn't treat members of other races with anywhere near the Fantastic Racism exhibited by other Azatoth.
All of the Outcasts of Tasakeru have gone against their cultures to some degree, from simply being a pain to deal with (Faun), to violation of their species' most ingrained laws (Zero, Hanami).
Dark General Cobalt in Sailor Nothing comes from the Yamiko: A race of The Heartless who are low-functioning sociopaths that are mostly incapable of higher-order thought and planning beyond satisfying their nearest base needs. Cobalt is still a sociopath, but lacks the homicidal urges of the rest of his species and considers himself Surrounded by Idiots because of it. In his more lucid moments Cobalt thinks it's because the person he 'spawned' from was such a bitter loser that he wasn't repressing much inner darkness in the first place.
Dinobot seems obsessed with the idea of Predacon honor in Beast Wars...but he's also the only honorable Predacon in the entire series and he pulls a Heel-Face Turn in the first episode. Everyone else is some combination of cowardly, treacherous, power-hungry, or loyal to the point of idiocy. Though we're only seeing a handful of Predacons to begin with.
He's still pretty treacherous and power-hungry, though, not to mention a bloodthirsty cannibal who only defected to the good guys' team because his bid to take over the bad guys failed. He's just believes 'the strongest should rule' in a literal sense. Sure, Dinobot believes in a fair fight, but he's a nasty piece of work right up till the end.
Basically, Dinobot is an "orthodox" Predacon whose view of the others in that particular group range from "lazy" to "incompetent" to "threat to the species." Entering a full-time Enemy Mine scenario with the Maximals not only makes sense to surviving crashing on ancient Earth, but to making sure this bumbling assortment of scrap he got there with don't win.
One episode of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command dealt with one such example in the Hive MindLittle Green Men. He was derided by the rest of his species for being an "Independent Thinker". Going by the pilot episode, there's at least a cultural basis for this derision; when the Uni-Mind (which enables the LGMs' Hive Mind) gets stolen (and thus no longer unites the minds of the LGMs), the LGMs turn into utter morons; apparently, only a few individuals actually specifically know any given thing, and the others know it by being connected to the ones that do. On top of that, they're completely uncoordinated without the Uni-Mind's "my best friend is also my right arm" factor.
An episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog featured an alien robot who, instead of conquering planets, decided to whittle wooden reindeer.
In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Dragon Quest", Spike has an identity crisis and joins the Great Dragon Migration to learn more about what it means to be a dragon. After a few rough spots, he starts to bond with a bunch of unruly teenage dragons and seriously considers staying with them to learn more about being a dragon. Spike changes his mind when they try to goad him into smashing a defenseless phoenix egg. Spike decides that he's fine with being a pony at heart if being a "real" dragon means being a Jerkass. It should be noted we don't meet any other dragons up close and for we all know, these were the draconic equivalent of juvenile delinquents.
There was also the dragon that the group met during the second episode; his mad thrashings were creating severe turbulence in a river they had to cross. Expecting some insane beast, it turns out he's just a particularly fabulous dragon that is having a breakdown because his mustache was ruined; an on-the-spot fix made him so happy he actually helped the ponies across the river (though Steven Magnet is officially a sea serpent, which may or may not be a dragon subspecies. If he was, one would think Fluttershy would have been terrified). Any other time an adult dragon is encountered, they tend to be more or less speechless and would rather be just left alone with their giant pile of gold and gems.
Fluttershy can be seen as one of these as well, as her special talents (good with animals / nature) are usually the domain of Earth Ponies, and frequently seems to forget that as a Pegasus, she can fly.
Actually a double subversion since he originally agreed with his species obsession with strength but later believed strength used for good is what's good.
Lion-O in ThunderCats (2011) is the only Cat in Thundera who don't see the Lizards as purely enemies, but as victims grown desperate from years of being oppressed. Indeed, Lion-O is treated like an outcast for that and also believing in the myths of ancient technology (which turn out to be very real). He also is one of the few Cats who sees how misguided Thunderan society is, valuing pride and power over kindness and mercy towards enemies to prevent a cycle of hatred. The only Cats who really come close to Lion-O's view are Kit, Kat, and Panthro, who are shown to get along with Dogs, another rival race of the cats, as well as Pumyra after Lion-O does some convincing. While it's not clear if Cheetarah shares this view as well, she does show a willingness to trust in Lion-O's judgement. Tygra, however, sticks to the old ways for the longest time, thanks to his upbringing. Grune may also count, since he can work together with the Lizard general Slithe.