Order Is Not Good

As laws of fictional universes go, Order vs. Chaos does exist. Enough of the time, to keep it nice and simple for the audience, Order is good and Chaos Is Evil.

However, there are a lot of stories here to tell that freedom and the moral hero are the true measures of goodness. So what if they're on the opposite side to those creating order? What if the lawmakers are restricting freedom and being corrupted by power? Or what if, simply, those in charge aren't really doing any bad, but their subordinates want a new kind of order? Order is not going to be presented as a bit of a hurdle, but to retain the simplicity of Black and White Morality by making the concept of Order not good, usually by making it not align with morals.

For smaller scale examples, society accepts some character types that 'go against the rules' and 'challenge the man' — like how All Girls Want Bad Boys and some people think that Good Is Boring.

This may deteriorate to Order being presented as a fascist state that either believes in The Evils of Free Will, or a Well-Intentioned Extremist ruler that believes the people are endangering themselves and a bit of genocide can work for the greater good (and they tend to promote it with an emphasis on the greater good for an attempt on good publicity). In these cases, the people may either suffer and know it but be generally unable to rebel, or be blind to the true state of affairs. The hero will be able to break free of either situation, by enlightenment and/or strength, and rescue their world. They may also sympathise with the order-bringers, because even though they are rule-breakers, they're the good ones. However, they will think that all the claims For The Greater Good spewed by the Order is hypocritical and inexcusable, no amount of merits can excuse that.

The force of Order may be known as 'Always Lawful Evil', and the heroes are Chaotic Good saviours, though both sides may be shown with Greying Morality — this is a specialty of the gritty films that like to use this trope, and so there will be either an Anti-Hero or Anti-Villain (and sometimes both in the same work, but this is less common). Despite so, sometimes Lawful Good characters will still exist in this kind of conflict. However, they're usually portrayed as someone who has good intentions, but is blinded by the propaganda of the bad order that they were instead causing more harm by following the law, and it is up to the Chaotic Good heroes to shove the truth about that order to the Lawful Good character, prompting them to become a Defector from Decadence and maybe shift into Neutral Good. In a way, this portrays Lawful Good as the least favorable amongst Good alignment, in a way that law and order are considered hindrances for doing good things.

In some cases, the fight may not be against the villainous Order, but a character may get some development by being from or going to an area rules by such means: everything may seem idyllic, but people are treated like mindless drones, freedom is considered a bad thing and curbed down, and the hero needed to get out of there or found a new world perspective to change/ground his personal morals by seeing the society. When the hero is fighting Order, he will pretty much never be wrong — in the most extreme circumstances an individual's rights are always more important than long-term world-saving goals, and after he's saved the day the hero will discover that this created an even bigger save that freed the galaxy, rather than screwing it over. This doesn't count in time travel plots, though, where they are almost guaranteed to make a mistake and ruin something by trying to free people.

The primary example of Order Is Not Good is The Empire, whose creed is often 'Bringing Order To [insert region here]'. The characters most likely to become the hero will often be Lovable Rogues, Gentleman Thieves, or Just Like Robin Hood. Though not required to be Chaotic, they often will be, with the Rebel Leader probably being the Big Good, and La Résistance only being shown positively. Conflicts like this tend to have heroes heavily Libertarian and villains being heavily Authoritarian.

There are also cases where Both Order and Chaos Are Dangerous, and God and Satan Are Both Jerks with Grey and Gray Morality. However, if this trope is in effect, even if Chaos is presented as a dangerous force, at the very least it will be shown as a more affable force and perhaps more fun instead of overly restricting.

Compare Light Is Not Good, God Is Evil, Satan Is Good, Liberty Over Prosperity, Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters. Contrast Passion Is Evil.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Fresh Pretty Cure!: The Big Bad of the series is Moebius of the Labyrinth, someone who dominates The Multiverse and turn his victims into Empty Shell, devoid of happiness and freedom and only exist to serve him, with every of their activities, fates and their lifetime decided by Moebius (though some like Eas eventually broke away, followed very late later by Westar and Soular). As it turns out, Moebius is actually a supercomputer made by the previously normal people of Labyrinth who wants to manage their heavy life with better, automated order. Unfortunately for them, Moebius' A.I. Is a Crapshoot and he took over.

Comic Book

Film
  • The Star Wars first trilogy possibly popularized this term, whereas the story is about the heroic rebels under the La Résistance trying to free the galaxy from one of the most iconic Empire of the Galaxy led by the evil Palpatine that already put the galaxy in their order. The film's popularity entrenched in the minds of fandom that empire and order in general are heavily evil and dashing rebels tend to be good hero materials. The prequels and expanded universe novel, comics, games and TV shows subverted this however with a Lawful Good (if somewhat flawed) Jedi Order and Republic and the presence of Neutral and Chaotic Evil antagonists, and overall made it more of a Morality Kitchen Sink.
  • George Lucas (who is the father of the franchise above) directed THX 1138 in 1971, the story of a nameless production manager who goes rogue in a Big Brother Is Watching Dystopia. The populace is kept docile with psychotropics and sedatives in their food, and surveillance cameras and android police are everywhere.
  • Lord Business of The LEGO Movie is obsessed with everything meeting his idea of order. To that end, he has suppressed creativity, arrested and tortured anyone that makes any change he has not approved of, brainwashes the populace with mindless consumer products, and his Evil Plan is to use a superweapon to freeze the entire universe so no one will mess with his stuff. He is an exaggeration of The Man Upstairs, a father who doesn't want his son to mess around with his Lego sets and glues things in place to keep them "perfect".

Live-Action TV
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation introduced the Borg Collective: a society whose citizens have their brains wired together, creating a hardwired Hive Mind. The Borg live in their cube-shaped spacecraft, and cherry-pick other civilizations back to the Bronze Age. Until their second encounter with Captain Picard, the Borg had seemed an irresistible force. "Prepare to be assimilated. Resistance is futile." Interestingly for this trope, their main opponent is a far more benevolent form of Order in the Lawful Good Federation.

Tabletop Games
  • Dungeons & Dragons stance is usually Chaotic is no more evil then Lawful, with Chaotic Good being just as good as Lawful Good, Chaotic Neutral just as Neutral as Lawful Neutral, and Chaotic Evil equally evil as Lawful Evil. Many iconcis monsters like Devils and Orcs(later made into Hobgoblins) being Lawful Evil. Though sometimes the perception that Chaos Is Evil is played straight, mainly due to the popular fan perception.
  • In Planescape, all three of the "Law Dedicated" Factions showcase this, as Sigil is kind of a Crapsack World:
    • The Fraternity of Order, the least offensive, are essentially what happens when you combine a stereotypical data-crunching nerd, an Obstructive Bureaucrat, and a Rules Lawyer in a blender and then put the results in charge of the legal and judicial governing of the city.
    • The Mercykillers are a bunch of homicidal, hide-bound justice freaks — their name is to to be taken literally; they want to kill mercy in pursuit of purer delivery of justice. They're Sigil's jailers and executioners.
    • Perhaps the worst of the lot are the Harmonium, who actively crusade under the banner of Chaos Is Evil, but whom are made clear to basically disapprove of independence, free-thinking and anything that entails not being part of their narrowly defined group-think policies. Just on the ground level, it's bad enough that they have a strong continent of Dirty Cops who, amongst more mundane corruption exercise Fantastic Racism against the Indepsnote , up to and including beating them, imprisoning them under false charges, and even murdering them. But the rot goes all the way up, and even the Harmonium's current leader, who is The Paladin, will showcase some of the poison: if the party reveals this is going on to him, the offenders will ultimately get away with a slap on the wrist, because as far as the Harmonium is concerned, their only misconduct is acting without awaiting orders to do so first. More dramatic examples of their connection to this trope include the time when their barbarous "re-education" experiments caused an entire Lawful Good plane to break off from its neighbors and merge into the Lawful Neutral plane instead, and the little fact that they committed genocide on all the Neutral and Chaotic races on their homeworld. Including the Neutral Good and Chaotic Good ones.

Video Games
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn: As it turns out, the Goddess of Order Asheara is the Big Bad and wanting to create a world on her design, which requires the living beings in the world turn to stone. On the other hand, the resident Goddess of Chaos, Yune, is more personable.
    • In a less cosmic scale, during the prequel, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, the main antagonist force is the Daein country, led by the extreme Social Darwinist Mad King Ashnard, a completely evil man, in which the country ends up very chaotic where strength is admired. In the aftermath of the game, the more orderly Begnion, allies of Ike and the Crimea army, took over Daein to bring out order. Unfortunately, Begnion is full of corrupt senates that are equal or worse in evil compared than Ashnard that the people of Daein suffered from oppression from its order (some of them even considering Ashnard's reign better) until the sequel concludes. Thus, Begnion serves as the main antagonist force of Radiant Dawn. Also, the deity Begnion worshipped? The aforementioned Asheara.
    • Double-subverted in Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War. The antagonist Arvis strives to create an orderly, peaceful utopia/empire even at cost of killing the main character Sigurd, and succeeding at it. Once he's done his deed, he did his best to actually make his reign as Granvalle Emperor a peaceful and well-loved one. But thanks to a bit of miscalculation, he ended up watching the good, orderly Empire he built up spiraled down into a straight example of the trope, requiring a new liberation army led by Seliph to set things right and bring freedom and peace back to Jugdral.
  • Tales of Berseria: The Abbey led by Artorius Colbrande swore to rid the world of malevolence and brought order and reason into the world by upholding The Needs of the Many. However, a lot of its methods are questionable and completely curbs down freedom which is actually their end goals, they want to eliminate free will, which they believed to be the source of evil, these include liberal usage of a Slave Race (the Malaks) and using them as expendable tools, killing off daemons under the pretense that it's the end line for humanity and only swift death is the solution, hostile takeover of a local religion to be replaced by theirs, among others. The party, led by Velvet, are a bunch of Anti-Hero that has personal reasons to oppose them, but a lot of them boil down into 'Curbing their freedom to be their own person.'
  • Happens quite a lot in Blizzard Entertainment's main franchises:
    • Starcraft II Wings Of Liberty and to an extension Starcraft II Heart Of The Swarm has this dynamic, with Jim Raynor being the heroic dashing Rebel Leader of Raynor's Raiders helping people that were put under the tyranny of Dominion's Arcturus Mengsk's iron-fisted governmental order where he curbs freedom and truth that doesn't convenience him while claiming that he's doing it for his people's own good, though Raynor also has a major personal beef against Mengsk for this. Sarah Kerrigan (The Queen of Blades who controls the Zerg swarm that ravages the galaxy) finishes the job in the latter by personally killing Mengsk, allowing his son Valerian take over and subvert the trope come Starcraft II Legacy Of The Void, turning the Dominion into a force of good while keeping order.
    • Diablo III: While the orderly High Heavens are very unhelpful thanks to the de facto leader Imperius disliking humans, they are at most neutral. In the Reaper of Souls expansion, the previous leader of the High Heavens Malthael returns as an Ax-Crazy angel of death hell bent on restoring balance and order to the universe by killing everything that has a demon taint on it, including all humans, to ensure that the High Heavens win the Eternal Conflict and has the right to rule all creations. For that, the Nephalems kicked his ass. In addition, the Nephalems found out that the High Heavens were adamant to win over the Eternal Conflict so they could get the rights to rule all creation with their order, regardless of how much destruction on the world would be caused. Needless to say, they are not amused to the High Heavens in general, save for a few good ones (like Tyrael).
    • Overwatch: The Vishkar Corporation is obsessed with bringing order into the world and has rennovated their country India into a beautiful country after the Omnic Crisis. Their methods, however, are very shady, including plucking out a talented child from their poverty and molded her into their enforcer/cheerleader; one of the playable characters, Symmetra; as well as enforcing curfew, bombing rival companies and slavery on poor people without care of their welfare, as long as they can rennovate and bring order while claiming that they did it for the greater good. Even an indoctrinated person like Symmetra herself start to doubt if this was really the case, and when Lucio rebels against them and frees his people from Vishkar's rennovation, he's instantly hailed as the obvious hero, and Vishkar is obviously the villainous one. Unfortunately since Symmetra is still obsessed with order and sticks with Vishkar, she often gets considered as the villainous one when facing Lucio.
  • Shin Megami Tensei has the Law faction, representing Order in the Order vs. Chaos conflict. The faction is often depicted as beings who seek to control others for the glory of YHVH at those who think an authoritarian ruler is needed for the people's own good. Unlike other examples, they also usually portray Chaos (represented by Lucifer) negatively as well, showing their common ideology being one of Social Darwinism. The result can be summed up as God and Satan Are Both Jerks and some levels of Grey and Grey Morality, but YHVH's badness kind of leads to the Law faction being more hated by the fandom and considered more 'evil' with some of their good traits usually not even considered.
    • Persona 5: The Big Bad of the game is the resident God of Order, Yaldabaoth (same being from the Gnostic bible), who takes advantage of the people of Tokyo's subconscious desire of wanting to be guided with an order without making their own decisions, being content with their orderly lives. It takes a group of Phantom Thieves led by the Protagonist, a group of people that takes their fates to their own hands and not wanting to be bogged down by the rigid order to break through his game and defeat him. Furthering this, most of the Phantom Thieves' Personas are modeled after rogue figures that rebel against the authority, with the Protagonist's ultimate persona being the ultimate rebel: Satanael, the angel that rebelled against God and ended up being known as the Devil.
  • Soul Series: The titular Soul Calibur at first was thought as a holy sword meant to bring order against the chaotic Soul Edge, which is pure evil. Unfortunately, its plan to bring order is to freeze the entire world to create a world of silence, and it sees humans as nothing but tools to manipulate. Naturally, even some heroes were pissed at this and abandoned it.
  • BlazBlue: The Novis Orbus Librarium (NOL) at first was presented like this, having brought order to the ravaged world, but went very tyrannical about it while also conducting a lot of dangerous experiments, curbing a rival federation that attempted to regain their independence (Ikaruga), and the hero is Ragna the Bloodedge, a rebel that destroys NOL facilities for his own personal reasons and has a bounty on his head. However, eventually double-subverted that NOL as a whole is a mixed bag, there are also genuinely good orderly people like Kagura Mutsuki... who eventually rebels against the current NOL to fix the organization. As it turns out, it was just that bad because it was manipulated by the Big Bad, Yuki Terumi, a thoroughly despicable scum.
  • Breath of Fire series: The overarching storyline of games 1-3 involves the Dragons' attempts to rise up and overthrow the world's deity, Myria, while Myria herself often manipulates factions to attempt to eradicate the Dragon Clan. The first game pits you against Myria with no explanation. The second game pits you against her remnant which formed a Religion of Evil. The third game has her revive properly, and it is only then that the player learns that she is a source of nurturing and stability for the world, and without her the chaos of nature would reign supreme. On the flipside, under her reign people have limited freedom.
  • Mega Man Zero: It's the story of Zero fighting the local government Neo Arcadia. It is a post-apocalyptic oppressive government,. While they strive on making an utopia, they're facing an energy crisis, and by the orders of its (generally incompetent) leader, Reploids (robots) are to be cut down in numbers systematically; they are also made into second class citizens despite their full conscience. The Resistance is made by Ciel as a shelter for protecting Reploids that are endangered by Neo Arcadia and those who choose to leave the city, which is where our hero Zero belongs to. It gets worse in the third game, where Dr. Weil usurped Neo Arcadia's leader and then makes the empire a living hell where humans now get the "Maverick" treatment that are usually used for Reploids, to the point that a few humans tried to flee the place for the Last Fertile Region Area Zero and Weil then tries to destroy said region.
  • Assassin's Creed: Two examples have come up.
    • For the most part, the Templars faction is the force of order in the verse and the main antagonist, apparently having conspiracies that make them behind many things in history.
    • The Instruments of the First Will, a Cult dedicated to Juno, is even worse, as they lack even the limited standards of the Templars, and instead want to enforce the reinstitution of slavery of mankind to the remaining Isu and are even more hateful of free will.
  • Azure Striker Gunvolt: The Sumeragi Group is pretty much the de facto government in the series, especially regarding Adepts, but also in military, technological advancements, economics etc. They work on maintaining a peaceful country (implied to be Japan) where humans and Adepts can live in peace despite the Fantastic Racism, but unbeknownst to most people, they also like capturing certain Adepts and perform hideous experiments on them and making Adepts' lives endangered in general, which is the concern for QUILL, an organization devoted for protecting Adepts from Sumeragi Group's clutches. Our hero Gunvolt is an Adept and member of QUILL, who are tasked to stop the Adept higher-ups of Sumeragi called the Swordsmen; a good number of them are Sumeragi's enforcers, while at least 2 of them (Elise and Stratos) are actually victims of their experiments and abuse. Their leader, Nova, also revealed that they plan to use the power of the Muse (i.e the powers of your Adept companion, Joule) as a catalyst of controlling Adepts worldwide; Gunvolt is understandably against this. Note, however, that Nova throws his point that without Sumeragi to keep the Adepts in line, nothing will prevent Adepts from abusing their powers and destroying the world. In one supplemental material, this apparently has happened; Adepts' shenanigans really has torn the world apart and it's by Sumeragi's efforts that they can keep at least one country in check. The second game even introduces new Adept villains who use the downfall of Sumeragi as their starting point of their Kill All Humans plan.
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the Shivering Isles expansion exaggerates this by having the realm of madness be invaded by Knights of Order, whose vision of order is turning the whole place into a desolate lifeless wasteland, filled with gray crystalline structures. The player works with Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness, in order to stop this from happening. The Knights of Order leader, Jyggalag, is the Daedric Prince of Order and has something to do with Sheogoroath: the other Daedric Princes turned him into Sheogorath to stop his power because he threatened to control everything.
  • Implied and defied in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Dracula claims that his actions were no different with the actions of the order humans call 'religion'. However, Richter tells him that he's full of crap about it, because in this verse, the religious order are actually good.
    Richter: You steal men's souls and make them your slaves!
    Dracula: Perhaps the same could said of all religions.
    Richter: Your words are as empty as your soul!
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us: Superman's Regime is an absolutely totalitarian and brutal government that aims to impose peace through fear, and has made countless of victims across Earth and beyond (many of them were his former allies). It still acknowledged as a force of order that managed to end warfare and conflict, to the point the Greek God of War Ares is extremely weakened with no more strife and violence to feed him, allowing mortal heroes to kick his ass. When the Regime is toppled, balance is completely ruined and the order enforced by the Regime crumbles with supervillains coming out of the woodwork to fill in the power gap. In the sequel, Brainiac invades Earth and the Lords of Order, Powers That Be who watch over balance, allow it to happen because it will restore order to Earth - even though Brainiac will harvest all valuable contents and destroy what is left, and attempting to stop him will trigger a potentially worse disaster in the horizon. In his Mirror Match, Doctor Fate shows doubt and anger at the Lords of Order abandoning humanity while the other Fate sticks to their will.
  • The factions in Smite are split on Order and Chaos. Order is presented with bright blue colors, more pleasant scenery and an angelic Titan, but according to the backstory, the Order side is made to subjugate mankind who were drifting away from giving prayers to the Gods, to restore the order of old. Chaos values the freedom and protection of mankind, but is represented with red color, dark scenery and a fiery, brutish Titan. And according to the supplemental materials like the comics, more virtuous deities like Athena are on the Chaos side...

Webcomic
  • The 10 Doctors takes this approach to the White Guardian, who in the series was generally depicted as benevolent, or at least as clearly better than the Black Guardian. The webcomic points out that a total victory by Order would be just as bad as a total victory by Chaos, and underlines it by saying that the White Guardian approves of the Daleks, because they represent an attempt to impose order and uniformity on a chaotic universe.
  • Corey Messer's Furry Webcomic Plush and Blood focuses on Fox and Grey, two of the last resistance fighters against President Brown and his Broken Circle party. Brown maintains a Stepford Suburbia by brainwashing a percentage of citizens into Hive Mind social agents. The peace that results, in Brown's mind, justifies his ironclad rule.

Western Animation
  • In Disney's Aladdin: The Series, this trope is used with Mechanikles, the Grecian Mad Scientist. His "Orderly" nature manifests itself through the combination of his Neat Freak and Super OCD traits, and many of his schemes are aimed at making the world "neater". This leads to him attempting to, among other things, burn Arabia to the ground in order to melt the deserts into an enormous expanse of glass, destroy the Rainforest of Thundra from which originates all the rain in the world, and boil the oceans to steam-clean the world, which would have resulted in the destruction of all life on the planet.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/OrderIsNotGood