"Harbingers of evil, henchmen of Takhisis, warriors of corruption, men and women of honor.
Their goals are evil but their means, not so much.
A Noble Demon is a villainous character with a code of honor. He doesn't care that he has a bad image
— he may even actively cultivate and embrace it.
However, every so often a situation presents itself and he's just not willing to go the extra mile necessary
to be completely
evil. He'll topple your castle, but he'll do it right after everyone has cleared out first
. He'll sacrifice whole armies
to achieve his goal but he'll also sacrifice himself
if he must. He'll conquer your village but he won't cause more destruction than necessary
. He wants to kill The Hero
but he won't stab an enemy In the Back
. His ambition might be to Take Over the World
, or merely to uphold the evil side of the Balance Between Good and Evil
Some will be obsessed with explaining this behavior
so people won't think that he's gone soft
. Killing enemies or servants who have failed
but are loyal
is "a waste of resources
" and his inevitable newfound friends
are "tactically advantageous allies
A lot of this behavior is sometimes explained as the result of a complex they acquired when they felt weak and helpless,
and if shown enough love
, they may turn over a new leaf
. And while Noble Demons are generally far from nice, being noble
and powerful seems to imply they are above petty and malicious acts
, or at least uninterested in them.
A Noble Demon who's a Proud Warrior Race Guy
often comments that his enemies are (or have become) petty and cowardly and stain the name of their species
Often experiences Sympathy for the Devil
from the heroes, and may perhaps show Sympathy for the Hero
right back. If Eviler Than Thou
comes up, the Noble Demon will likely be on the less evil end. May also be the "grayer" character in A Lighter Shade of Grey
Compare the less villainous versions: Jerk with a Heart of Gold
and Jerkass Façade
beneath the facade, expect a Noble Demon's motives to include getting plenty of Villain Cred
See also Ambiguously Evil
and Lawful Evil
. Contrast with Card-Carrying Villain
who doesn't deny he's evil, but is much more willing to cross the Moral Event Horizon
. Also contrast with Faux Affably Evil
, whose kind acts only serve to benefit him
(though milder examples of this may still qualify). Villains lacking this trait will usually be Always Chaotic Evil
. Compare and contrast Nominal Hero
, a character who does heroic deeds for all the wrong reasons.
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Anime and Manga
- Kyouya from Ouran High School Host Club insists that he is an egotist with nothing in common with Sheltered Aristocrat Tamaki. Despite this, his long-suffering of Tamaki's antics, which includes wearing ridiculous costumes on a daily basis (as a female more than once), is noblity in itself. He says that it's all to keep Tamaki looking like a golden child, to the point where it costs Kyouya favor with his own father. That's a bit too self-sacrificing for the so-called Evil Lord, isn't it?
- Mahou Sensei Negima!:
- Evangeline A.K. McDowell, the vampire mage, constantly tells the rest of the cast how hideously and irredeemably evil she is, explicitly comparing herself to a video game Big Bad. So they'd better not be getting the wrong idea when she's saving their lives, making sure they're okay, giving them proper training, helping the resident ghost girl not be feared, etc. Though, given that she officially wants Asuna and Negi to be her video-game sub-bosses... Also, it might be that she simply took the "evil" name from the "good" mages, who don't necessarily seem all that good, compared to her. She just only cares about herself and the people she has chosen to care about. The rest, including the world, may go to scrapper.
- Wilhelm is a literal Noble Demon, despite the fact that he petrified Negi's hometown (because he's forced to do it by the person who summoned him), he drops all sorts of hints that the petrification isn't permanent, and goes out of his way to not hurt any of the girls when he fights Negi, and gives him some useful advice.
- Fate as well. He's a rather pleasant guy to be around, civilized, and willing to talk things out. Granted, he does have six young girls working for him. However, he justifies this when it is revealed that five of the six of them are each the sole survivors of destroyed villages that he just happened across, whom he'd helped without question. The sixth is just a battle loving, Psycho Lesbian girl who's creepy. When one asks how he forced them into it, he states that the girls volunteered of their own free will. He's saved 57 others. What did he do with them? Kill them? Torture them? Perform unspeakable horrors upon them? Nope. He gave them applications to prestigious boarding schools so that they could grow up into a successful life.
- Seto Kaiba from Yu-Gi-Oh!. The "noble" half is mostly due to his little brother, and the "demon" half is mostly due to his competition with his adopted father growing up.
- Likewise, it took Edo Phoenix, Kaiba's third Expy in GX, quite a while to reluctantly admit he had become more "hero" and less "anti."
- Father Alexander Anderson from Hellsing. His hatred and wrath, though often directed towards understandable targets like vampires, is still rather misguided and includes Protestants. But even so, he's displeased with the Holy Crusade's and Maxwell's actions, claiming that such arrogance, bloodlust, and genocide is an affront against God.
- Alucard could count as well. Or at least when he's under Integra Hellsing's direct influence. Just like Anderson, he is completely disgusted by Maxwell slaughtering millions of innocent civilians in London and doesn't waste any time in unleashing his familiars on Millennium's Nazi vampires and Maxwell's crusaders. There's a few other points in the series where he expresses disdain for artificial vampires who kill innocents to satisfy their own Drunk with Power egos or psychotic pleasures. Alucard usually mocks, tortures, and kills them in short order after that.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, there's Alit, one of the Barians, the only one with any sense of honor and fair play. (The others tend to regard him as "immature" and "childish".) He seems to consider Yuma a Friendly Enemy (a sentiment shared by Yuma) and has developed a crush of sorts on Kotori.
- Durbe of the Barian Emperors might be the original embodiment of this trope. While he showed in the battle of Saragasso that he will use any means to win, even using a dirty trick (which was part of Vector's plan), he only does so because of his noble intention in saving the Barian World, no matter the cost. He is also known to praise his opponents for their skills as he did with Shark (before knowing his true identity) and Droite (in the final battle on Earth). He puts an end to any unnecessary fights between the emperors, and trusts them and acknowledges their skills. Even his Chaos Number is named after this trope. His noble soul is shown the most during his final duel with Merag against Vector, Where he sacrificed himself to ensure Merag's Victory on the traitor. Might also overlap with Wicked Cultured and Anti-Villain.
- Dragon Ball: Piccolo tried to invoke this when he was defeated by the androids, right before going off to fuse with Kami. No-one really fell for it, though...it was kind of half-assed. It had been years since the trope could actually apply to him, and he'd become an outright hero by the time of the android saga whether he admitted it or not. Which is exactly why Kami was actually willing to fuse with him.
Krillin: Wh-what's that look on your face? Do you have a plan?! C'mon, tell us! We're your friends!
Piccolo: Friends?! Don't press your luck. When do you think I became your friend? I'm a demon! Don't you ever forget that!! I'm merely using you — to take over the world!! *flies away*
- Zelgadis of Slayers is self-serving but ultimately keeps coming back to the protagonists...no matter how much they tarnish his vaunted "cool and mysterious sorcerer-swordsman" image.
- There is also one true
demon Mazoku. "The power of the Monster race flows from... terror, anger, sorrow, despair." And he's still the most friendly and nice character in the series most of the time, despite his penchant for painful and infuriating pranks.
- The novels make this clearer. Xellos sets a city on fire, just to convince Lina to take action. He also blames it on an enemy, to make her even MORE active. This is one of the scenes that proves him a Magnificent Bastard. He definitely appears to be one, though.
- Kyouko Sakura of Puella Magi Madoka Magica before Character Development.
- It is even mentioned at one point that the souls are only borrowed, to be returned later.
- In Ushio and Tora, Tora is a tiger-like demon who seems like he'd be eager to eat Ushio if it wasn't for the magic spear he wields. However, the demon needs so little persuasion to help the boy fight various supernatural threats to humanity, you'd almost think Tora secretly enjoys being a defender of the innocent.
- Black Jack is a milder example, deliberately cultivating a Dr. Jerk reputation but still managing to be a pretty decent guy in the long run.
- Shiki from Kara no Kyoukai is a Blood Knight with a bit of Blue and Orange Morality who happens to take out threats to innocent people.
- YuYu Hakusho's Hiei fits this trope to a T. Not only is he a demon, but he keeps insisting that he's bad to the bone and cares about nobody, but his actions keep on betraying him. By the end of the series, he's loosened up enough that he actually admits to having friends and he gets emotionally close to a female demon with a past even more ghastly than his.
- Anything and everything involving Satan and his cronies as written by Go Nagai, including the infamous Devilman series. On the flip side, God is written as being anywhere from a Manipulative Bastard who enjoys toying with humanity to an unabashedly hate-filled cosmic entity who is offended by any life form that fails to prostrate itself before him, and alternates between mind-wiping the planetary populace or ejecting "sin-waves" over the surface, turning anyone with the slightest amount of impure thoughts into homicidal maniacs (the latter example comes from the latest reworking, Demon Lord Dante). The various Devilmen normally wind up fighting Satan's forces initially because he possesses humans in order to manifest on earth, and they can't get over the teachings they've learned prior. (Amon and Dante must be pretty weak mentally to keep getting overpowered by young boys like that.)
- In Bamboo Blade's Show Within a Show, Blade Braver, Shinaider fits the classic noble demon archetype. Much as Tama considers Red Braver her favorite, her Rival, Rin, is a fan of Shinaider.
- Saitou Hajime from Rurouni Kenshin is a cold-blooded killer with a limitless mean streak, but still firmly believes in worldly order.
- Darker Than Black has the Contractor November 11 who frequently references his utter amorality but is unfailingly charming, friendly and sometimes flat-out ethical towards his co-workers. At the end of the series, when making a Heroic Sacrifice, his fellow Contractors ironically (or perhaps accurately) attribute his extremely altruistic actions to this same amorality/rationality.
- Come to think of it, the protagonist, Hei, could also count as one of these, given the emphasis in the final episode of the first season on how he pretends to be the amoral, badass Black Reaper, but is actually a sensitive guy who is haunted by all of the killing and dubious acts he has to do.
- Greed from Fullmetal Alchemist is an extremely friendly example, being, by far, the least violent of the homunculi and a Benevolent Boss in contrast to his "siblings'" egregious use of You Have Outlived Your Usefulness. This quality is seen especially with the second incarnation of Greed. Toward the end of the series, he fights alongside the heroes and rescues people, which he justifies with having nothing better to do/his desire to take power for himself.
- A big part of the plot of the manga Devil and Devil involves the main character Sword desperately trying to avoid falling into this trope...and failing spectacularly. Notably, he was a powerful and vicious Blood Knight of a devil before being forced to occupy a human vessel to survive.
- Raoh of Fist of the North Star is mostly this with hints of a Utopia Justifies the Means Tragic Villain. Sure, he'll subjugate the people of the wasteland to his will, but if his men are ruthlessly torturing villagers, then he won't hesitate to trample them to death atop his horse Koko-goh. Additionally, Raoh sheds a river of Tender Tears when his weaker, radiation-addled brother, Toki, cannot fulfill his childhood promise to stop Raoh's ambitions. Raoh openly shows respect for the bravery of the heroes who fall in battle, and notably orders his men to give Juza a Hero's Funeral for putting up an exceptionally valiant fight against him. He sheds further Tender Tears when compelled to kill Yuria, the final step in his transformation to godhood, yet could not because even a tyrant like him was deeply moved with respect for her kindness and nobility. The fact that he doesn't even kill Yuria but prolongs her life in spite of her radiation sickness so she can live on with Kenshiro shows his Vader-like redemption from Noble Demon to affectionate older brother.
- Samurai Champloo's Mugen (at least at first) is a Chaotic Neutral vagabond who is open about not caring about anyone but himself and liking violence for its own sake. However, those same qualities make him unwilling to join with villains, scorning their self-importance and the idea of him following anyone. Moreover, despite his frequent complaints about her, he will always come to the rescue of Fuu when she is danger.
- Viral from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is quite honorable, despite always wanting to enact revenge on Kamina for tarnishing his reputation and pride.note Here are several examples:
- Just after the Hot Springs Episode, he not-so-politely asks the heroes to Please Put Some Clothes On and allows them to arm themselves before fighting him.
- When he confronts Simon and Yoko over Kamina's whereabouts, and eventually accepts Simon as his new rival, he agrees to a fair one-on-one duel.
- When said duel is interrupted by Cytomander, who takes Yoko hostage and orders Viral to perform a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on Gurren Lagann, Viral refuses and sheathes his axe, knowing that his honor cannot be regained that way.
- Madara from Natsume Yuujinchou is a powerful man-eating yokai who is next in line to inherit the main character's MacGuffin, and has repeatedly stated that he wants nothing more than for said main character to hurry up and die so he can claim it. Nonetheless, he follows Natsume around as a bodyguard and saves his life on numerous occasions. He usually gets very defensive when other yokai point out that he's essentially Natsume's servant, usually deflecting the accusations by claiming that the main character is his pet or his prey (hence why he'll beat the crap out of anyone else who tries to hurt him).
- Most of the mafiosos and camorristas in Baccano!! are Neighbourhood Friendly Gangsters at most. Luck Gandor, in particular, lives this trope, with both Firo and Claire separately remarking that, deep down, he's too nice to really be cut out for a life at the top of a Mafia family. He pushes himself to act cold and ruthless in order to be able to properly fill the role.
- Papillion from Busou Renkin is ruthless in his quest to become a homunculus, but this is just because he's sickly and dying, and wants immortality. Once he's become a homunculus, he's content to just observe, provide covert aid for the heroes, wear a disturbingly flamboyant costume, and, in the end, become an urban legend to schoolgirls. It helps that, due to his imperfect metamorphosis, he doesn't need to eat humans like other homunculi do.
- Ashuraman in Kinnikuman is this both literally (he is the prince of the Demon World) and figuratively (the reason for his loss and concurrent Heel-Face Turn in the Tag Tournament arc is because he's touched by the Power of Friendship). For that matter, his trainer, Samson Teacher, qualifies as this as well, planting the seed of friendship into Ashuraman through saving his life.
- Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple:
- Haruo Nijima is a very complex character. A "close" friend (of sorts) of Kenichi Shirahama, he is commonly referred to by various characters as an alien due to his likewise features: long pointed ears, sharp hooking nose, glaring eyes, and fanged teeth. He has even been known to be able to protude two arrow-headed antennas from the top of his head. As if that's not bad enough, he openly proclaims himself to be evil, and does nothing to discourage this belief amongst other parties. Worse, he dreams to one day rule the world (albeit not in a conquery sort of way); and to this end, he (somehow) formed a fighter group that he hopes would garner enough media attention to make his dream world conquest a reality. He is an ambitious power-grabber who relishes in bossing everyone around (mostly Kenichi). Despite this, as the key founder of the Shinpaku Alliance (which Kenichi and several other principal characters are part of), he seems to prioritize the well-being of his comrades more than anything else, and is not above resorting to being a living bait to lure danger away.
- On a more serious vein, 90 percent of the antagonist Yami organization's One Shadow Nine Fists seems to consist of master-class fighters who are all Noble Demons in their own way. Special mention should go to Akira Hongo, the resident karate master who's code-named the "God Fist," as he is shown to respect the bond that should exist between a master and his disciple, who won't fight women or opponents who have injuries from previous recent fights and is even willing to team up with Ryozanpaku to help rescue the kidnapped Miu, if only because doing so will let him get revenge on "Demon Fist" Silcardo Junazard, the remaining 10 percent of the One Shadow Nine Fists, for tricking him into almost killing Kenichi.
- Saiga Furinji, Yami's One Shadow, may very well be this too, as it's implied that Hongo had to seek audience with him before joining forces with Ryozanpaku, and Saiga himself also joined the group (in disguise) to help in Miu's rescue. It's justified for him, though, since Miu is his daughter.
- Mujuro from Ninja Scroll saves the two protagonists from precariously dangling over a cliff, just so that he can challenge Jubei, the male protagonist, to an honorable duel. He notably gets the cleanest and quickest death out of all of the villains.
- Hyper Metal Sonic from Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie.
- Wamuu from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. He will not break promises or fight someone unable to defend themselves. If he hadn't sworn to obey Kars, he probably wouldn't have been a threat.
- Beezle from The Fantastic Adventures of Unico is an obnoxious little hellion and a Card-Carrying Villain, but he was raised by his father to keep his promises, to the point of swimming out into a stormy ocean (which is doubly dangerous for Beezle, as sea water is poison to devils) to save Unico from drowning.
- Hild from Ah! My Goddess qualifies. She's still evil, as proven by her efforts to make Belldandy into a demon or to break up Belldandy and Keichii just to see if she could piss the former off enough to do something evil, but Hild enforces an existence of somewhat-noble demons, demons that live by making pacts and are bound in an agreement to never kill goddesses (though they can still fight them). She genuinely loves her daughter, Urd (though that won't stop her from beating the crap out of Urd if Urd stands in her way), and is distinctly less evil than many in Niflheim, evidenced when those more evil revolted against her.
- In To Aru Majutsu no Index early villain Accelerator becomes this after his character development and Heel-Face Turn to Type IV/V Anti-Hero near the end of the first season. Although he secretly wants to be a hero, he still thinks of himself as a villain no better than the ones he now kills (and proclaims this loudly even to those he has rescued) since he doesn't believe he can be forgiven after slaughtering 10031 clones. Much later in the novels He ditches this trope and being a Card-Carrying Villain entirely and shifts to a Type III Anti-Hero, declaring that villainy was just not working out for him and instead moves to Beyond Good & Evil
- Impmon / Beelzemon is a weird example. He's prideful in his abilities, but as such, he's known for not attacking weak Digimon. The likely reason is that he feels it would be a waste of power, making this a subversion. Post-Heel-Face Turn he becomes a literal noble demon. Still, when compared to the other Demon Lords...
- Chrono from Chrono Crusade may count as a literal example of this, though it's more just Superpowered Evil Side.
- Big stretch, but perhaps Princess Cornelia of Code Geass. She serves as the primary antagonist in Season 1, and her arrogance, ruthlessness and xenophobia is tempered with valour and courage in battle, a genuine desire to rebuild Area 11 and return stability to it, geniune affection and respect for the men under her command, which is returned, and a soft spot for her younger sister Euphemia.
- Magneto may very well define this category, at least when he's on the Heel side of his Heel-Face Revolving Door. He only wants to protect his people and sees a war between mutants and humans as inevitable so he wants to strike first. He may even have a point or two about this, he just can't resist going several steps too far.
- This is the common characterization for Thanos the Mad Titan of the Marvel Universe, post-The Infinity Gauntlet.
- Hellblazer's succubus Chantinelle (Ellie) is less noble than extraordinarily unlucky. Having tried to seduce an angel and succeeded, she fell in love with him and bore his child, leading to his demise at the hands of other angels and her exile from Hell. John Constantine notes that she's not a bad sort considering what she actually is, to which she replies, "I don't think so, John...I think I'm just polite."
- Depending on the Writer, this is played straight or occasionally subverted with Doctor Doom. In the latter, he acts like he has a sense of honor, but will do anything to achieve his goals, up to and including sacrificing a woman who loved him to a demon.
- A literal example is Spider-Man's enemy Demogoblin, who was created due to a curse placed on the second Hobgoblin, who had previously made a Deal with the Devil. Through most of his career, the Demogoblin acted like a Sinister Minister, killing people who he believed were sinners, which usually included many Innocent Bystanders. However, in a battle with the actual Hobgoblin, he made a Heroic Sacrifice to save an innocent child who the Hobgoblin had deliberately put in harm's way, dying in the process. This made Spider-Man more disgusted with the Hobgoblin than he ever had been; in the end, the demon who his wickedness had spawned had been more noble he had.
- Another literal example was the Straw Man, a scarecrow-like demon and one of the Fear Lords: a group of demons who could feed on fear and conspired to conquer and rule the Earth. (The most notorious of them was Nightmare.) The Straw Man eventually double-crossed the others, aiding Doctor Strange to oppose Nightmare. (The reason behind this shift in allegiance isn't known, but it may have been part of its stated goal of taking vengeance upon a group called the Cult of Kalumai.)
- Neil Gaiman often writes to this trope. Denizens from Hell can often be bargained with (after all, being a demon is all about lying, backstabbing, betrayal, and personal gain) or reasoned with, and frequently have a code of honor by which they will abide, to the extent of helping out a protagonist. Lucifer in the earlier Sandman arcs is particularly representative of this trope.
- Etrigan. Despite the fact that he is literally a demon (and one of the nobility of Hell, no less) he more often than not finds himself on the same side as heroic figures like Superman.
- Lex Nova, a one off character from the 30 Days of Night comic, Bloodsucker Tales, fits this trope to a T. A completely batshit insane vampire who thinks he's a private eye and narrates his life out loud, Nova saves the town of Juarez from the various villains and only feeds on goats.
- Princess Lucinda from the reboot of Witch Girls Tales, so much. She has quite a sadistic side and a reputation as an evil princess...but for all her loudly-proclaimed villainy, she almost always seems to end up on the side of good, despite her rather Nightmare Fuel-rific methods — even by the standards of the setting, which is loaded with Body Horror transformations and remarkably casual murder. It's actually Lampshaded in one side comic, where it's noticed that unicorns will approach her, despite supposedly being amazing judges of character that never approach anyone evil. When someone suggests that this means she's just acting evil, she turns them into a frog for it.
- In IDW's Transformers Generation 1 comics, Thundercracker has some elements of this, expressing his distaste for the way his fellow Decepticons murder helpless humans because "the Decepticons are forged through combat, not slaughter". And though he doesn't defect, he eventually disobeys them outright to save humans and Autobots alike from a nuclear bomb, a means of victory he finds dishonorable.
- Cyclonus as well, he betrays Galvatron when he blows a hole in Cybertron, and opts to go along the Autobots when the war ends.
- Soundwave is also this as revealed in RID. Unlike most versions of the character, here he's portrayed as a deeply misguided person who, though working with the Decepticons, ultimately wants peace and believes that Megatron will bring equality to the galaxy. His idealism ends up turning against him when Megatron goes through a Heel Realization, causing a devastated Soundwave to feel betrayed by the one person he looked up to.
- Thunderwing in the original comic series. He's most famous as being the only Decepticon leader to gain the position through fair election.
- The Secret Six sometimes fall into this, though it's usually more a case of punishing the evil (with torture) than saving the good. One of the best examples is Deadshot's revenge mission to a North Korean political prison.
- The Sandman, a member of Spider-Man's rogue gallery, is often portrayed as rather heroic despite being a villain. He has a moral code and is not above teaming up with Spider-Man if the situation requires it.
- This could be said of The Rogues because they have a code of "ethics" that they live by and consider themselves above killing women and children. Captain Cold is a particular stand out in this regard.
- Julius Caesar as depicted in Astérix. He isn't above tricking people, but within far more defined limits than Asterix himself, generally being more clever than he is deceitful. He always keeps his promises, treats people below his station and even his enemies with respect (even when they're really annoying), and is one of the few Roman politicians we see who isn't plotting to backstab everyone else, stealing money from the state, being completely ineffectual, or fantasising about getting the Gaulish magic potion and using it to kill their friends and become god-emperor. It should be noted that in no way is he a nice guy, though; he's still a colonialist tyrant who tries to have people executed, is delighted by various Villain of the Week characters with bizarre and horrible gifts, and is trying to destroy a culture's way of life simply because they're getting on his nerves.
- Iznogoud: Sultan Pulmankar is mostly known as a ruthless conquerer and a terrifying enemy, but he has a lot of rules (including always sparing his enemy's generals), is very affable to the Caliph when they are allied, and is shown to be a pretty good father.
- Diabolik may be the King of Terror, but he will not harm children (and in fact he likes them), has little tolerance for human traffickers and drug smugglers and zero tolerance for rapists and biological weapons, tries to avoid collateral damage (not that he cares when he has to cause it), respects those who give him a run for his money, and will always keep his word.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- The Dresden Files.
- Gentleman Johnny Marcone runs a cut-throat criminal empire, but he will not tolerate rape, and he likes for his business to be done cleanly. He is renowned for 'disappearing' any gangster who hurts/tries to sell drugs to a child. He is fine with Harry and works with him when their interests coincide, and, as of Ghost Story is funding La Résistance as a way of keeping the Fomor off of his territory. He also steals the Shroud of Turin to heal a victim of a shootout between his gang and another
- Subverted in Death Masks by Paolo Ortega, who does a very good job of appearing to be an honorable vampire who only does what he must out of loyalty to his Court, wanting duel Harry to settle the war between the Red Court and White Counsel even if he threatens Harry's loved ones to force him to do so. In reality he is as ruthless, pragmatic and evil as any Red Court vampire and just puts on the act for political advantages, as shown when tries to force Harry to lose the duel by continuing to threaten his loved ones and pulls out a gun when things don't go his way.
- Also, Lara Raith. Similar to Marcone, she has her own (albeit, twisted) sense of honor and integrity, as Carlos Ramirez states that her word is good, and will frequently work with Dresden when their goals coincide, to the point where she could easily be mistaken for one of the good guys. Until Turn Coat, where she thoroughly disabuses Dresden himself of the notion that she's a "good guy."
Lara: At what point did you forget that I am a vampire, Dresden? A monster. A habitually neat, polite, civil, and efficient monster.
- Proven earlier in White Knight, where she's heavily implied to be the one who gave Lady Malvora the plan to target the Ordo.
- Crowley of Good Omens is possibly the Trope Codifier: a demon situated on Earth whose assigned mission is to spread sin among humans and, in fact, was the original serpent who tempted Eve. However, six millennia of living with humans influences him to the point where he's become fond of humans and doesn't like the idea of them being wiped out in the Apocalypse - in fact, he actively tries to prevent it. There's also the fact that his best friend Aziraphale is an angel who's supposed to be his sworn enemy. Aziraphale could be considered a mild inversion of the Noble Demon, as while he sincerely believes in and commits himself to goodness, he displays decidedly un-angelic traits such as materialism, pettiness, and going on drinking binges with a demon.
- Aziraphale actively works against Heaven's plan to bring about armageddon just as resolutely as Crowley works against Hell's. The story implies that the actual differences between the two afterlives aren't as big as advertised, and that God isn't actually actively on either side.
- When you've spent 6,000 years on Earth with no other supernatural entities but each other for company, an Agreement is inevitable. Crowley is still Evil, but not too evil; and Aziraphale can be Good, but not too good. And they should probably thwart each others' plans once in a while for, you know, appearance's sake. And there's nothing wrong with the occasional cup of tea together. And Crowley's car is a much better means of getting around so it's surely OK to ride together once in a while, when necessary (although Aziraphale just cannot come to appreciate Crowley's taste in music).
- Not even Crowley can appreciate Crowley's taste in music. Any cassette left in his car for more than two weeks, no matter how soothing or classical, metamorphoses into a Best of Queen album, which was bad enough before Freddie Mercury starts giving him messages from the demon commanders of Hell.
- And living together in cottage somewhere in the South Downs just makes it easier to keep an eye on each other's misdeeds/good deeds; it's certainly not fraternizing, nothing friendly about that at all.
- And when Crowley rushes into a burning building without a second thought because he thinks Aziraphale may be inside...
- Crowley himself insists that the reason he ended up in the rebellion is simply because he hung around with wrong crowd;
- The demon featured in "The Friar's Tale" from The Canterbury Tales, while declaring himself motivated by purely evil intentions, expresses a willingness to act toward good ends by punishing members of the Corrupt Church of the day. He also avoids the Literal Genie behavior of other demons, only actually taking what people damn (e.g. saying "Damn you" to a person, animal, or object) when they truly mean it.
- The "demon king" Asmodeus from Jewish folklore is an excellent illustration, being portrayed as a wise and sometimes morally superior Worthy Opponent to King Solomon, as well as observant of Jewish traditions down to attending synagogues.
- This portrayal influenced the presentation of demons in Isaac Singer's short stories. A notable example would be the protagonist and narrator of "The Last Demon", who ends up with this distinction and acts as an Antagonist in Mourning after the entire town he tempts is exterminated by the Nazis. He ends up trapped without future victims, as his evil depends upon luring people away from good, making completely evil people of no use to him.
- Older Than Feudalism: Similarly, in the Ramayana, Ravana's brother Vibhishana is one. He makes a Heel-Face Turn and joins Rama.
- The A Song of Ice and Fire books by George R. R. Martin have quite a few theoretically villainous or antagonistic characters that act rather decently, at least to some people. These include Jaime Lannister, Sandor Clegane, Jaquen H'Gar, and Petyr Baelish, all of whom have acted decently towards protagonist characters when they didn't have to. Then again, the series tries to show all of its characters as three-dimensional and well-developed.
- Your mileage may definitely vary on Petyr Baelish; the only character he's kind to is Sansa, and that's only when he's not sexually harrassing her. His nobler moments come off as squicky to some. This is the problem with Petyr... you're never quite sure when he's donning any particular behaviour pattern (including this one) as a mask, even as a reader: heaven help the characters he interacts with.
- Jaime Lannister is probably the best example; his biggest evil act was the murder of King Aerys after swearing to protect him, but what most characters don't know (or conveniently forget) is that Aerys was a crazy son of a bitch, who, if he had lived just half an hour longer, would have ordered his capital city burned to the ground with wildfire, killing hundreds of thousands of civillians as well as the enemy. Jaime himself laments that he's loved by one for a kindness he never did, and reviled by thousands for his finest act—though, despite a sympathetic PoV and some heavy duty character development, he remained pretty unrepentantly demonic until A Storm of Swords.
- He also threw the young son of his host out of one of the higher windows of a castle, permanently crippling him. He becomes much more sympathetic when (two books later) we realise that he did it for the great love of his life (not a nice lady herself), that he had intended the child to be killed instantly, and that he is deeply remorseful for it, considering it his own Moral Event Horizon. By the time his PoV comes up, he has other things to worry about, so it's not looked at in great depth.
- Raistlin Majere of the Dragonlance books. An embittered, power-hungry Magnificent Bastard with a slew of Pet the Dog moments and a love/hate relationship with his twin Caramon.
- Also, the Knights of Takhisis, who modeled themselves after the Knights of Solamnia. They are Card Carrying Villains who follow an evil goddess but stress chivalry, respect for their enemies, and loyalty to their comrades in arms. They frown upon the backstabbing, self-serving ways of their predecessors, the dragonlords.
- The title character of The Bartimaeus Trilogy is a literal Noble Demon (he prefers to be called a "djinni," though; "demon" is rather rude).
- In Mikhail Bulgakov's novel The Master and Margarita, the Devil himself appears in the guise of a man named Woland, with an entourage of mischievous and ruthless pranksters who wreak havoc upon 1930s Moscow. However, his actions often serve the purpose of exposing the greed and hypocrisy of his victims, and the ordeal he imposes upon Margarita is designed to bring out her better nature, for which he rewards her and the Master. Some interpretations of this novel describe Woland's actions as inspiring good through instigation, rather than through example, as Christ does.
- Well, yeah, that's certainly one view, but Woland's a very complex and deliberately ambiguous character so much so that almost every critic you read is going to have a different take on him. At the end of the day, his motives are always pretty opaque and Margarita and to some extent the Master excluded everyone's a target, with some not-exactly-evil folks getting pretty traumatised by the end. Plus, it doesn't really seem that he's always doing what he wants to. It's both implicit and explicit that Woland has no real dominion over this world. He's more of a catalyst than a force in his own right — he sets up the situation, but ultimately can't force anyone towards anything they don't choose and which isn't in their character — and that he's ultimately answerable to a higher power and its bigger plan. He's pretty powerless and being as opaque and multidimensional as he is, we can't say that a souped up Woland who isn't held in check wouldn't just be a soulless jerk on a rampage. His whole behaviour could be explained as not being able to do anything — but and if he had more power and more free will, well...
- Rob S. Pierre in the Honor Harrington series is a ruthless Dolist manager who clawed his way up to become the head of the People's Republic of Haven. He did it mostly to fight off the other factions who would have done it anyways and been worse than him, and he actually has a plan to fix everything. It actually works, and when a democratic revolution after his death establishes a stable and free government, they owe his efforts at fixing the economy.
- Hrathen of Elantris. He's one of the top priests of the Corrupt Church, has a menacing (and largely accurate) reputation in his own right, and he's every inch the Magnificent Bastard, but unlike other leaders of his religion, he really does care about the spiritual wellbeing of his followers, derives no pleasure from unncessary destruction, and executes a Heel-Face Turn after his Ax-Crazy sidekick decides to pole-vault the Moral Event Horizon without Hrathen's consent.
- Damodara, a Malwa noble from the Belisarius Series, starts off as being a Reasonable Authority Figure (especially in comparison to his gratuitously evil peers) and insists that not ruthlessly executing subordinates for failures is purely a pragmatic thing to do. Later, after having been in command of the highly honourable Rajput army, even he has trouble convincing himself that his actions are those of a purely pragmatic nature.
- Sorceress Arachnia in Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms, before her Heel-Face Turn. Justified in that she was very lonely and was committed to the path of an Evil Sorceress mainly because The Tradition was pushing her along.
- Daemonhost Cheruabael from the Eisenhorn series demonstrates some shades of noble behavior, especially towards the end of the story.
- Roger Zelazny's Lord Demon had retired for a time before the story opened. Before that, he was known for hacking down armies with his sword.
- And in Zelazny's Lord of Light, the demon king Taraka not only helps the hero in his war, but develops (by possessing the Buddha) a sense of shame and remorse. By the end, he's only a demon in form and desire for power.
- Baron Balaz from Vampire Hunter D novel Pale Fallen Angel. He's a vampire, but also a protagonist due to his extreme sense of Honor Before Reason.
- Don Simon Ysidro from the Barbara Hambly novel Those Who Hunt the Night — despite being a vampire — has a distinctive sense of honor due to his nobility (noblesse oblige).
- Zoltan the Magyar from the Young Bond novel Blood Fever is a ruthless criminal working for the Big Bad, but he keeps his promises and ends up saving Bond from certain death.
- General Ashal from Jingo.
- Star Wars Expanded Universe: For a Sith Lord, Darth Plagueis surprisingly fits this trope. For one thing, when Plagueis takes Palpatine under his wing, he makes it very clear that, although he is going to make Palpatine's training a living hell, he will not attempt to continue with Darth Bane's legacy of backstabbing, and intended to share everything he knew to Sidious expecting that he'd do so in return. Unfortunately, Sidious still managed to continue the legacy.
- In his appearance in Galaxy of Fear, Thrawn comes off this way. He's cold and fairly callous and calculating, but he's also fair - when he thinks another character is responsible for the deaths of some of his men, he tries to find out the facts, and as soon as he's sure they didn't do it, he lets them go. He's also the only character in this series to really acknowledge that the protagonists are children - when Tash is rude, he crisply informs her that since she's a child, he won't take offense. This time.
- Any bounty hunter who follows the Bounty Hunters' Creed.
- Rikash Moonsword of The Immortals. He's only Daine's enemy at all in Wolf Speaker, where he's Genre Savvy enough to try to kill small animals venturing indoors, but he doesn't directly attack her, seems vaguely embarrassed when she finds out that he's friends with lonely Maura. Later he's more directly Daine's ally, and she trusts him, though he never lets up on the snark.
- Several characters in The Chronicles of Narnia follow the religion of Tash, who is basically that world's Satan, but are genuinely decent people who follow that religion only because they are brought up in it. Most notable is Emeth, an honorable Calormene soldier who is taken to Aslan's country (Heaven) at the end of The Last Battle despite having spent his life striving to serve Tash as faithfully as he could. Aslan explains that, just as evil done in his own name counts as service to Tash, he considers Emeth's pure-hearted and noble actions in Tash's name to be service to himself.
- There's also Alimash, Aravis' Calormene cousin, who Bree describes as a "worthy nobleman."
- The title character of Barry Eisler's John Rain series is a freelance assassin. However, he has rules about which jobs he accepts. He will not harm women or children and he will only target "principal actors", meaning he won't hurt a target's friends or family members to "send a message."
- Leto Atreides II from Frank Herbert's God Emperor of Dune rules the Galaxy as a tyrant for 10000 years to enforce peace.
- Imagine 1,000+ pages of characters constantly doing this, and you have Atlas Shrugged. Whether they're making a Heroic Sacrifice when being blackmailed with a Sadistic Choice, giving food and shelter and later a job to a homeless man, or devoting their life to (what they see as) recovering stolen wealth and returning it to its rightful owners, with no monetary or material benefit to themselves, they will find a way to rationalize it as being "selfish."
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe Boba Fett fits this trope nicely. He is the Consummate Professional, and while he will work for anyone who can afford his prices, he does have a code of honour and a sense of justice. His justice is just much more direct and no-nonsense. The "evil" in him comes from the fact that he believes order, no matter how it is achieved, is preferable to chaos; so he'll work for a genocidal xenophobic totalitarian faction like the Galactic Empire because he genuinely believes it's better than the alternative of chaos across the galaxy without a unifying power. But he has standards and acts on them frequently, refusing jobs that do not meet his exacting standard of justice or outright refusing to do things that he considers wrong, like sniping the clone of Starkiller when he was distracted kissing Juno Eclipse.
- Crowley in Supernatural doesn't want the world to end and helps the Winchesters to find Death (partially because Lucifer would wipe out demons as well, but also because the other demons ate his tailor...it makes sense in context) and gives Bobby back his ability to walk...Although there was a deal (well, pawning) involved in the latter.
- Then subverted when it's revealed that he can't actually get Sam's soul back and has been getting the Winchesters to do his dirty work, leading to Cas burning his bones and effectively 'killing' him.
- And THEN it turns out that he was working with Cas so they could get the souls out of Purgatory.
- Koragg The Wolf Knight in Power Rangers Mystic Force as well as his Mahou Sentai Magiranger counterpart Wolzard for that matter - constantly insisting on honor, and refusing to fight the Rangers as it would be "dishonorable to defeat a weaker opponent" (as a result of which, by the time he does fight them, they're too powerful for him to beat). It eventually turns out that his honorable side was an artifact of his previous heroic personality, before he was turned evil by a magic spell.
- Doctor Who:
- Jano in "The Savages" is the chief of a powerful high-tech civilisation that runs its technology through kidnapping and draining people from an undercaste. While he stringently regards them as worse than animals, the Doctor is able to snare him in a Batman Gambit by observing Jano's reasonable treatment of his men and dedication to his role of benevolent leader, getting him to implant a Soul Fragment from the Doctor into himself and causing him to have a Heel Realisation as a result of gaining the Doctor's morality.
- The Master is sometimes portrayed as a Noble Demon, often mentioning his friendship with the Doctor, or expressing regret at inconveniencing the companion, between stages of his plan to rule the universe and kill them both.
- The trope is subverted in the episode "Boom Town", in which the villain claims that her sparing of a journalist is evidence that she isn't evil, and the Doctor completely dismisses the idea, pointing out that it's just a rationale she uses to live with herself.
Margaret: I promise you I've changed since we last met, Doctor. There was this girl, just today, a young thing, something of a danger. She was getting too close. I felt the bloodlust rising, just as the family had taught me, I was going to kill her without a thought...and then, I stopped. She's alive somewhere right now, she's walking around this city because I can change, I did change. I know I can't prove it—
The Doctor: I believe you.
Margaret: Then you know I'm capable of better.
The Doctor: It doesn't mean anything.
Margaret: I spared her life!
The Doctor: You let one of them go, but that's nothing new. Every now and then, a little victim is spared. Because she smiled. 'Cause he's got freckles. 'Cause they begged. And that's how you live with yourself. That's how you slaughter millions. Because once in a while, on a whim, if the wind's in the right direction, you happen to be kind.
- Margaret then attempts to turn his own argument against him:
Margaret: Only a killer would know that.
Isn't that right? From what I've seen, your funny little happy-go-lucky life leaves devastation in its wake. Always moving on, because you dare not look back. Playing with so many people's lives - you might as well be a god. And you're right, Doctor, you're absolutely right. Sometimes... you let one go
- So apparently she's never heard of criminology?
- Saladin in "The Crusades" is treated as a more honourable figure then King Richard. He doesn't return Barabara from El Akir, but for good reason, pointing out he can't oppose one of his commanders during a war.
- In the transitory stages of his Badass Decay, this accurately describes the normal behaviour of Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, an escalation from his previous instances of Petting the Dog.
- Illyria, who is a literal demon king, has a tendency to give self-serving justifications for her helpfulness. Given the above Buffy example, this might be part of the reason why she gets along with Spike so well.
- It could also be that he's fairly resilient even by vampiric standards, so he's the only remotely acceptable toy she has on hand in what is otherwise a World Of Cardboard.
- There's plenty of benign demons in the Buffyverse, but Lorne goes above and beyond the call of duty. His club, Caratas (Latin for "sanctuary") was specifically designed to bring human and demonkind together peacefully.
- The Imagin of Kamen Rider Den-O are time-traveling spirits whose goal is to ravage the past in order to change the future, typically pulling cruel Literal Genie tricks along the way. However, the series introduces several Imagin who don't know their original goal or simply don't care for it; all of these Imagin end up as good guys.
- The singular best example is Kintaros, whose partner wished to become stronger. While most Imagin would beat up anybody stronger than their partner, Kintaros possessed the young man's body and underwent physical training using his extreme strength. Throughout the entire ordeal, Kintaros displays exceptional honor, courage, and compassion, and it's no surprise he ends up partnered with Den-O by the end of the two-parter.
- Stargate Verse:
- Todd from Stargate Atlantis may be a Wraith, but he's helped the humans out a fair bit with their various crises, some of which they caused in the first place. Todd is assumed to be killing and feeding from humans as usual when the Atlanteans aren't around (which is a necessity for any Wraith to survive). He did volunteer to be a test subject for an attempt to transform Wraith into beings capable of eating normal food, even if it didn't work out in the end. What makes him stand out is that he considers Atlantis too useful to destroy, given how often he's benefited from their temporary alliances against his real enemy (rival Wraith). The one time he did act against Atlantis was when he believed (wrongly) that they had betrayed him.
- System Lord Yu from Stargate SG-1. Unlike the other Goa'uld, Yu is known for keeping his bargains, probably the whole "Asian honor" thing. He also lets Teal'c go after capturing him in "The Warrior". Unfortunately, Lord Yu ends up going senile, meaning he can no longer be trusted to keep his bargains because he doesn't always remember making them.
- Grey from Choujin Sentai Jetman. As opposed to Radiguet, he believes in fair play and strangely has an extra devotion to Maria, because he likes her. He even gets pissed at Radiguet's plan to turn Maria into a vampire to become his queen, and pleads with the Jetmen to restore her humanity so she can die human, not as a monster. While he does fight Gai in his end, his reasoning for that boils down to just "I'm a warrior, this is all I can do". He died commending Gai for his victory and muttering Maria's name.
- Mr. Cataliades from The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries.
- Jade from Victorious may act like a bitch most of the time, but she pets enough dogs (or, should we say, Cats) to show us that she's actually one of these.
- Madan Senki Ryu Ken Do had Jack Moon, who while living by an ideology of "The Strong Rule and The Weak Obey" belived in a fair fight, he even refused at one point to revive his boss todestroy everything because it would violate his ethics as a swordsman, although his demonic nature would rear it's ugly head from time to time.
- In Charmed, the Council of the Cleaners is made up of two Elders and two powerful demons. Either both or one of them agreed with the decisions regarding at first letting the Charmed ones off free but at the cost of Morris' life (this was reversed before he was killed) and then agreed to punish Phoebe only for her trying to use magic to short-cut her path to finding a husband.
- In Merlin we have Morgause. When trying to kill the king of Camelot (a dude who drowns children) she puts everyone who might try to fight her immortal soldiers under a sleeping spell. While considered the villain, she actually doesn't do much of anything that is really evil, and has a lower body count than the heroes.
- Mike Ehrmentraut in Breaking Bad, a former police officer who works as a bodyguard/hitman for meth kingpin Gustavo Fring. All of his actions are ultimately driven by a desire for his next paycheck, but he also has a strict policy about providing for his family at all costs, and refusing to abandon former allies who have fallen into the hands of the law. Tellingly, his main conflict with Walt in Season 5 comes when Walt plans to orchestrate the assassinations of all of Gus' incarcerated agents to get out of paying them for their continued loyalty. Mike makes it clear that this crosses a serious moral line, and refuses to even consider going along with it.
- Proposition Joe in The Wire is a drug dealer, but unlike many of the other dealers in the show, he has no desire to dirty his hands with violence whenever he can avoid it, as it's bad for business. His Pragmatic Villainy makes him quite reasonable and sensible: "buy for a dollar, sell for two". He regards himself as a businessman and wants nothing to do with anything else attached to the drug trade.
- For fans of Rhapsody (...of Fire), it's certainly hard to read this trope without a certain Shadowlord of the Black Mountain leaping to mind. This is his theme. Listen to the lyrics closely. Noble Demon? Dargor's his name!
- The subject of "Black Wings" from Bone Machine by Tom Waits could be said to be a Noble Demon or an Anti-Hero. "He broke out of every prison" and "they say he once killed a man with a guitar string", yet "he once saved a baby from drowning" and "there are those who say beneath his coat there are wings".
- Fagin from Oliver!. He is a thief, who trains others to be thieves, and works with Bill Sykes, but deep down he doesn't like his life and wishes the things he does weren't necessary, and tries his best not to be too bad. This trope is exemplified in the song "Reviewing the Situation":
Fagin: though I'd be the first one to say that I wasn't a saint, I'm finding it hard to be really as black as they paint. I'm reviewing the situation; can a fellow be a villain all his life? ... I'm a bad 'un and a bad 'un I shall stay. You'll be seeing no transformation, but it's wrong to be a rogue in every way. I don't want nobody hurt for me or made to do the dirt for me, this rotten life is not for me, it's getting far too hot for me, there is no in-between for me, but who will change the scene for me? I think I'd better think it out again!
- This is The Undertaker when he's a Face.
- Low Ki lashed out at perceived slights that were not actually dealt towards him in Pro Wrestling Zero 1, was part of his fair share of rotten power stables in New Japan Pro Wrestling and often tended to be an asshole during matches. Besides referees though, he generally respected officials, seemed generally happy to be in both companies, graciously accepted his awards and though he mostly ignored the cheering of the crowds for him, didn't resort to too much Cheap Heat or anything to really disquiet them.
- Randy Orton's face run in 2010. The lyrics to his entrance music show that its no secret that he's extremly evil-minded. But the more his face gimmick goes on, the more he shows that he has standards regarding respect and earning your victories. Which was shown more than ever during the buildup to Survivor Series 2010, in which John Cena was the special guest referee in Orton's WWE title match with Wade Barrett. John Cena was a reluctant member of Wade Barrett's group, The Nexus, and Barret said that if Cena awarded Barrett the title, then Cena would be free from the Nexus, but if Randy Orton won, he would have Cena fired for violating Nexus orders. Orton was one of the first to point out that if Cena were to screw him over in the title match, while he would keep his job, it would make him the biggest phony in WWE and would be disrespecting everyone who ever won it by handing it over to a man who cheated to win it.
- Ivelisse Vélez in Valkyrie's first incarnation. The other members claimed they were wronged, claimed to be classy or were only in it for the money. Vélez was the only one completely open and unapologetic about the group's intentions and methods. She was also the most sacrificial member and eventually kicked out for refusing to take a dive.
- Whenever the devil in a Deal with the Devil plot is the literal Devil, classic works of fiction often portray him as this; in particular, those that make a deal with him get exactly what they ask for at the quoted price. Though the devil can be a Jerkass Genie when he feels like it, the thrust of most stories is the humans trying to wheedle their way out of the contract, not the other way around.
- In the Heroes Unlimited supplement Gramercy Island, there is the story of a demon who is given a human body and sent to the mortal world to redeem himself. He is promptly arrested for shoplifting food (he didn't know the local customs). While sitting in the interrogation room at a police station, he is asked if he's committed any other crimes. Not wanting to lie, he says that yes, he was directly responsible for the deaths of over three thousand people, many of whom he had killed with his bare claws...ed hands. "In fact, sixty of them were here in this city. Why do you ask, officer?" Attempting to arrest him, he defends himself by resuming his demonic form right there in the interrogation room. After the frightened cops drop 30 bullets into him without much effect, he apologizes and resumes his human form. The demon is then sentenced to one thousand years in prison, a sentence set to commensurate with the demon's extraordinary life span.
- Dungeons & Dragons has the Narzugons, or Hell Knights, which are Noble Devils. Unlike their scheming and manipulative brethren, Narzugons treat their foes with the utmost respect and courtesy, always allowing them the chance to surrender peacefully and always fighting fairly, which is far more than can be said for most other Devils. 4th Edition takes this even further by revealing that the Narzugons are actually the disgraced servants of the unnamed god Asmodeus slew in his ascension to godhood, and are now forced against their will to serve the Nine Hells. This may actually push them into full blown Anti-Villain territory.
- Talos of the Night Lords has been a thief and a murderer since childhood. He joined his Legion in their treachery during the Horus Heresy and has spent centuries killing and surviving using every underhanded tactic in the book. Yet he treats his useful slaves well, even kindly, and strives to live up to the (admittedly warped) ideals of his Primarch, in contrast to the rest of the Night Lords.
- From the same universe and its sister series several editions earlier, we had the Chaos God Khorne pre-Flanderization, whose servants generally fought with some degree of honor, and would frequently spare noncombatants on the basis of them not being Worthy Opponents. There were even cases of Khorne sending his daemons after servants who had offered him the skulls of noncombatants or other equally "unworthy" opponents. While this is no longer true of the vast majority of his servants, Khorne himself is still usually portrayed as honourable, and he refuses to allow his servants to use psychic abilities as they would be unfair. He is generally suspicious of Tzeentch, the god of sorcery and secrets, for the same reason.
- Warhammer has Abhorash and his Blood Dragon knights, who are basically a cult of martial vampires who have a code of honour which states that only cowards prey on the weak and defenceless, and so they travel around picking fights with worthy warriors and monsters and feeding on their blood instead. They're still bloodthirsty (metaphorically and literally), sociopathic undead monsters, but if you're a woman or child, they'll leave you alone.
- Many of the demons of Exalted. The general demonic mindset is alien rather than explicitly evil, so it's possible for them to have agendas that might come across as weird or scary while ultimately being well-meaning or even pleasant. Ligier, the Green Sun, simply wishes for Creation to share in the glories of Hell (and is often drawn into Creation by lowly people with great need, who he will offer his services as a smith to), Amalion only wishes to create beautiful things (even if they are beauties that break mortal hearts), Alveua wants to give everything a sense of order and purpose (albeit through forging their bodies into useful items), and creatures as low in the hierarchy as the neomah somply want to create children, albeit from flesh harvested from multiple donors (and can be summoned by the tears of parents mixed with the afterbirth of stillborn children).
- The Dark World monsters in Yu-Gi-Oh! are implied to be this by Word of God, despite the fact that they're all hideous demons ruled over by a certifiably insane king. Zure, Knight of Dark World is of particular note, referred to by his flavor text as an "illustrious knight" who "never oppresses the commoners." Yep, he's a literal Noble Demon.
- Sandoval from Oglaf is a wicked nobleman and serves as ambassador for the elvish country of Xoan. He'll use, screw, and kill anyone he feels like, typically in flamboyant fashion yet he usually spares innocent, virginal Ivan simply because Ivan is an innocent virgin. Sure, he'll toy with Ivan, but that's merciful and gentle coming from Sandoval.
- Mosp, of Sluggy Freelance, is an extremely literal example, what with being a demon and also very, very noble. Her nobility comes across slowly as a product of Torg's compassion for her, and leads to her epic Crowning Momentof Awesome. It doesn't end well for her.
- Ito, the God of Trust and Betrayal from A Moment Of Peace, steals dreams and crushes hopes for a living, and has prosthetic hands forged from moments of despair by crows that grew hands to strangle people. Despite all this, he seems to be a nice guy when you get to know him.
- Fuschia becomes a literal example post character development.
- Garland from 8-Bit Theater, although it's debatable whether he's noble or just stupid.
- The Demon from Friendly Hostility not only works as a nurse, but is also the Only Sane Man and the Nice Guy. Despite this, he's pretty cool with his family devouring human beings.
- 'Gav', the protagonist of Nukees, is an aspiring dictator-of-the-world, with a passion for gigantic weapons of destruction - and everything nuclear. But he's also helped his friends out of any number of tight spots, while constantly trying to cover it up so as not to lose his villainous reputation. The most notable example is probably when he saves a Damsel in Distress, but makes it look like he was trying to rape her instead...
- Errant Story's Jon Amraphel likes to think he's a cold-blooded assassin Anti-Hero ("I kill people for money. I'm officially a not-nice person"), but gets called on it several times for all the times he Wouldn't Shoot A Girl and helped them escape, even setting them up with foster families.
- Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures has a fairly obvious example in Abel.
- Abel is pretty unambiguously good, he just tries to push people away. Fa'lina is perhaps a straighter example, running a school that teaches horrible things like torture, yet simultaneously seeming to really care about people (even strangers) and wanting to help protect them. Its not entirely clear whether she is simply crazy, has a deeper agenda, or is actually good and merely allows evil things in her school because otherwise should couldn't protect more cubi.
- Spondulio Wealthmonger from Unwinder's Tall Comics is considered "the most charitable person alive" by everyone. But Spondulio would be the first (and only) one to remind you that he's thoroughly selfish to the core, and that his many acts of kindness are actually the side effects of elaborate plans to make himself fabulously wealthy.
- Jerak, who is a demon, from Planescape Survival Guide is convinced that he remains evil, even after helping the good guys eats rather significantly into his profit margins. His (also demonic) compatriots, Grull and Winnie, don't seem to mind alignnment shifts as much as he does.
- The cast of Something Positive are a cynical, mean, and sometimes violent and sadistic bunch of people who always look out for their friends.
- Malack of The Order of the Stick is a vampire, dark cleric, and loyal right-hand man to a brutal warlord. He is also cultured and cordial, and he goes out of his way to offer truces and compromises to fellow cleric Durkon because he doesn't want to have to resort to violence against someone he respects.
- And ultimately, his last gift to Durkon after turning Durkon into a vampire is to spare Belkar and leave him alive.
- Many of the trolls in Homestuck are this when they are first introduced, in the "Hivebent" arc. Their culture explicitly endorses being a violent psychopath, and most of them have no problem with this (having been raised with it) and wish to grow up to work as soldiers for The Empire. However, all but a few of them are fairly kind and compassionate, and the aforementioned few who actually are violent are clearly treated as wrong by the others.
- In the Whateley Universe, Carmilla is noble and a demon. She's one of the protagonists, and yet she is directly descended from both Cthulhu and Shub-Niggurath, and is supposed to take the mantle of The Kellith, to wipe humanity off the face of the earth and repopulate the planet with the seeds of The Great Old Ones. She's refusing to do so.
- Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog has a textbook example in the from of the title's Mad Scientist, a generally nice guy who wants to make the world a better place...but he's so cynical that he believes that this can only be accomplished by taking it over through classic supervillainy and rebuilding it according to his ideals.
- Played with in Tales Of MU with Vice-Chancellor Embries. He's a "noble" dragon, employed by MU as their ace in the hole against the campus being razed to the ground again. He does, however, have an unfortunate habit of eating his secretaries. As Professor Hall says, "Few people mistake a noble dragon for a nice one more than once."
- Subverted in The Return - while demonic and of nobility, when Dark Star wants to "topple your castle", she'll use artillery, and then go in the ruins and personally kill anyone left.
- Agent Washington from Red vs. Blue qualifies, at least late in Revelations. His brand of villainy is less out of genuine malice, and more out of desperation to get out of prison. As the bad guy, he's quite nice to hapless Doc, at least as nice as his personality allows.
- The Thing That Shatters The Sky from Critical Hit: A Major Spoilers Dungeons and Dragons Podcast offers to provide the Torqeltones safe harbor on the moon in gratitude of his liberation so they can live in happiness as his plans destroy the World. He seems unphased when they talk of choosing to fight him instead, telling them to weight their options carefully and consider whether the glory of taking down a void god is worth the perils of facing one.
- This is the way his antagonists saw Erwin Rommel. Particularly once he was safely dead.
- He also consistently ignored orders to deport or kill Jewish soldiers and civilians, which made him practically unique among the German command of the time. Under his command, the Afrika Korps were not accused of any war crimes. His unit treated prisoners of war relatively well and generally fought a clean war, in stark contrast to other units.
- Some interpret Albert Speer as one of these, when he isn't seen as a Token Good Teammate within the Nazi Cabinet. He was never directly involved in the dirty Nazi business; he mostly designed impressive buildings to suit Hitler's tastes. The closest he got to inflicting direct damage on anyone was increasing German war production in the last years of the war, but even that was tempered by the fact that when he got the order to destroy everything, he refused.
- On the other hand, he was high enough in the Nazi ranks (as a minister and as a personal friend and confidant of Hitler's) that while he was rather vague on many of the details of the Nazis' horribleness, he knew enough to know what not to ask and where not to look. Still, he was well aware of the use of forced labor—but as it turns out, he never cared for that policy (he preferred to employ German women instead) and when he saw a labor camp he was horrified and insisted that conditions be improved (partly out of a desire to increase production, but partly out of genuine concern), although his orders were overridden. Of course, he still wanted Hitler to conquer the world—or at least Europe—and so he got his 20 years in prison.
- Erich von Manstein and the rest of the regular German military of World War II (the Wehrmacht) might fit this trope. Stories were put about (after the war was over and the western Allies suddenly needed West German support against the Warsaw Pact) that the German army conducted itself honorably and nobly most of the time. Post-Cold War historical research shows that the regular German army and its leaders were, for the most part, neither as moral and noble as they portrayed themselves to be, nor as vile as anti-fascist propaganda had drawn them.
- Another one from World War II was US Air Force General Curtis LeMay. He was infamous for deliberately bombing civilian targets during the Pacific war, but did it all in an attempt to prompt a quick surrender in order to spare as many American lives as possible. He remarked that once the war was over, he would accept being arrested for war crimes without a fuss if it came to that (it didn't). However, even Noble Demons have standards, and LeMay was known to be disgusted by the even more brutal General Thomas Power (who was the inspiration for the original General Ripper).
- Christian tradition frequently portrayed Saladin as such, essentially transforming him into an Islamic knight. It's worth noting that when Dante wrote the Inferno he placed Saladin in the circle of Hell that's normally reserved for virtuous men who died before Christ. Coming from a devout Catholic, that's quite the compliment.
- Many Americans view Confederate soldiers from the American Civil War as Noble Demons. Though they seceded from the United States and fought to preserve the institution of slavery, Confederate soldiers still get a monument at America's Arlington Cemetery. It is traditional for the President to send a wreath to this monument once a year.
- Edward Hyde (not that one) viewed Oliver Cromwell as this. He provides the quote for the Anti-Villain page: "As he had all the wickedness against which damnation is denounced and for which hell fire is prepared, so he had virtues which have caused men in all ages to be celebrated."
- Tecumseh is viewed as this by many Americans. He fought against the United States in Tecumseh's War and the War of 1812 yet the Americans gave his name to several ships, towns, and people. People named after Tecumseh include two Civil War generals, William Tecumseh Sherman and Napoleon Jackson Tecumseh Dana.
- Spanish Conquistadors saw the Native Americans quite close to the image of "demons" ("savages and idol-worshippers") and fought them just as savagely, yet after fighting the Mapuches led by Lautaro demonstrated respect for their valour in Alonso de Ercilla's La Araucana, which became the most popular war-story of the Spanish Golden Age.