Not all fictional heroes are the sort of person you might expect to be a hero of a story. The idea that there is an "IdealHero" and there are "[[AntiHero Anti-Heroes]]" who deviate from the ideal has been around [[OlderThanFeudalism since classical antiquity if not earlier]]. Since then, writers have explored many types of {{antihero}}es, each of which lack one or more traits of an IdealHero.

An Unscrupulous Hero is an Anti-Hero who is a step further down the slippery slope from the KnightInSourArmor and PragmaticHero; where the former lacks the '''positive outlook''' and the latter the '''moral cleanliness''' of the Ideal Hero, this archetype combines and amplifies both, especially the lack of moral character part, while remaining ALighterShadeOfGrey than the antagonists.

Despite this, these heroes share one overriding heroic trait: unlike a NominalHero, they are heroes in the true sense of the word: when they have to take a stand on one side or another, they choose to fight for good for a morally positive reason, and aren't just helping the heroes for selfish reasons.

These characters tend to fall under two different categories:
* They are usually defined by [[DarkAndTroubledPast dark experiences]] that have made them cold and unforgiving, and due to [[CrapsackWorld the settings]] in which they exist, there will usually be no compunctions to using [[JackBauerInterrogationTechnique more extreme methods]]. They are as much about [[PayEvilUntoEvil payback (or any assorted type of catharsis)]] as they are the greater good, and their targets will be deserving of it, more likely than not. You probably shouldn't expect them to be mindful of collateral damage, though.
* They may be a little more selfish, but unlike a NominalHero, have a much stronger honor code that keeps them from becoming less sympathetic.

In terms of sympathy, personality, etc., these characters can vary widely. For some, their admirable motivation may be their only good trait; others may be highly sympathetic, having all the characteristics of a compelling Anti-Hero combined with the fact that they are willing to sacrifice for a good cause.

A heroic character on this part of the scale runs the risk of kicking one too many puppies and ending up a FallenHero if he can't get over his demons. Often found in conjunction with TragicHero and ByronicHero.

Compare with KnightTemplar and WellIntentionedExtremist. Compare and contrast with {{Nominal|Hero}} and {{Sociopathic Hero}}es (both of whom are more...well...[[CaptainObvious sociopathic]]). Also compare and contrast with the TautologicalTemplar and VisionaryVillain for villains who just ''think'' they're the good guys.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* In the OVA of ''Manga/DogsBulletsAndCarnage'', the leads all have shades of the first type except for Badou who's closer to a cowardly LoveableRogue. In the manga, they edge a little closer to NominalHero.
* ''Manga/{{Hellsing}}'' has [[BadassPreacher Father]] [[HolyHitman Alexander Anderson]], though he does have shades of a NominalHero. He mainly targets vampires and heathens, believing them to be an affront against God and danger to the innocents of the world. And he sometimes takes it a little too far with his AxCrazy attacks and BloodKnight beliefs, but he also adores children, acts like a surrogate father to his Iscariot followers, respects Integra's principles and NervesOfSteel attitude, and takes a stand against Maxwell when he starts killing the innocent survivors of Protestant England.
** Another mention goes to Anderson's Iscariot followers, most of whom he raised himself. Compared to Maxwell and his fanatical Holy Crusaders, Heinkel, Yumie, and the rest of Iscariot are under Anderson's [[EvenEvilHasStandards Even Antagonists Have Standards]] direct influence, which prevents them from committing similar atrocities against innocent but non-Catholic populations.
** The TV series' version of the protagonist himself could qualify... until he [[TookALevelInJerkass Takes a Level in Jerkass]] near the end.
* [[WellIntentionedExtremist Reiji]] becomes this later on in ''Anime/KuroganeNoLinebarrel''.
** In some ways, the protagonist himself also kinda fits.
* In ''Manga/DeathNote'' we have L, the HeroAntagonist to [[AGodAmI Light/Kira's]] VillainProtagonist. While L does try to capture Kira because he's a murderer, his main motivation is because he sees Kira as a challenge, and it's revealed that in general he only cares about cases he finds interesting, making him something of a NominalHero in this regard. Describing himself as "childish and hates losing," he is willing to resort to, among other things, kidnapping, torture, lying and invasion of privacy to get the job done. The series lampshades how NotSoDifferent he and Light are from each other fairly often. Still, L only reserves his justice for people he sees as evil, and to be fair his accusations seem to always be correct. Moreover, while L does order the deaths of a few criminals to help further the investigation, [[PragmaticHero these criminals were on death row anyway.]]
** [[spoiler:His successor Near]] is a mix of this and NominalHero.
* Shinji Weber of ''Anime/YuGiOhArcV''. He's part of the Commons, who are the poor, oppressed people in a class-based society. However, while he does seek justice for the oppressed people, he also wants to see ''all'' Tops punished, including innocent people who just happen to benefit from the system. He uses his time in the TournamentArc to incite a class war, and later starts riots. He also has no problem throwing innocent people under the bus to further his own agenda, and even uses Yuzu's [[NeverFoundTheBody "death"]] to prop her up as a martyr for his own cause, despite the fact that she wanted peace between the classes.
* Mikazuki Augus from ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamIronBloodedOrphans'' is a ChildSoldier who has no qualm on killing, he does not have the concept of mercy when it comes to [[DoubleTap disposing enemies]] [[KilledMidSentence when they're still speaking]], often [[TheNicknamer gives vulgar nicknames to enemies]] who managed to survive his encounters. And he remains [[TheStoic in an unnervingly calm mood]] all the time. Orga is the only one making sure Mikazuki is a hero, but whenever he enters the battlefield, it's clear the situation can no longer be solved peacefully.
* ''Manga/RurouniKenshin'''s {{foil}}, Saito Hajime. Vicious verging on sadistic, believes Kenshin's optimism to be foolishly deluded, and yet is utterly relentless in [[KnightTemplar punishing the wicked]] and doing what is right for his country. He also does (ahem) have shades of a NominalHero, though, as he's more of a {{Jerkass}} and sociopath than usual examples. The manga's Revenge Arc, though, makes him firmly the latter, considering what he did to Mumyoi.
* Eren Jaeger from ''Manga/AttackOnTitan''.
* Lelouch, exiled prince turned masked revolutionary from ''Anime/CodeGeass'', falls under this for most of the series, fighting for the freedom of the world from the Holy Britannian Empire but causing a lot of damage in the process... and dealing with a lot of issues.
* Stocking from ''Anime/PantyAndStockingWithGarterbelt'' falls into this category. While her attitude is largely the same as [[NominalHero Panty]], she's generally more levelheaded and shows more responsibility in missions than her. This is a major plot point in the last two episodes, where her efficiency [[spoiler:causes her to be PutOnABus. And the ending comes along and subverts this, with Stocking suddenly skewering Panty.]]
* Ryuko from ''Anime/KillLaKill''. While [[YouKilledMyFather her motives]] are self-serving, she's willing to help anyone if the AbsurdlyPowerfulStudentCouncil starts messing with them. This is actually an ExploitedTrope, since both times she's done this, she gets screwed over by them. The first time, it was a student who tagged along with her and Mako for No Late Day who wanted to steal [[ClothesMakeTheSuperman Senketsu]] from her. The second time, it was [[spoiler:Nui Harime]], who [[WoundedGazelleGambit pretended to be bullied]] so [[spoiler:she could get close to her and destroy Senketsu, whose parts were used to power up [[DragonWithAnAgenda Satsuki's]] {{Mooks}}]].
* ''LightNovel/TheAsteriskWar'': [[StudentCouncilPresident Claudia Enfield]] is technically one of the good guys but she does have quite a few skeletons in her closet. She makes no effort to hide that she engages in shady schemes and is willing to take advantage of situations. That said, she has a healthy respect for [[TheHero Ayato Amagiri]]'s stronger sense of morality and her actions in the greater scheme of things seem to protect him and Seidoukan as a whole.
* [[OracularUrchin Ran]] from ''{{Anime/Texhnolyze}}''. Ran is almost completely apathetic towards the lives on individual citizens of Lux and has no problems with being [[BrutalHonesty cruelly honest]] about the horrible things about to happen. However, she does regret all of this, wants to change it but can't and is really overwhelmed by being an 11-year old girl.
* Piccolo in ''Anime/DragonBallZ'' shows definite shades of this, including blowing up the moon to stop Vegeta and Nappa from being able to transform into Great Apes and distracting Super Buu by telling him to kill everyone on earth so that he could buy time for Trunks and Goten to train. (Granted, he did the latter knowing that [[DeathIsCheap they could be revived later on.]])

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Rorschach from ''ComicBook/{{Watchmen}}'' is basically a psychotic nihilist who's lost all faith in humanity and yet, he'll still [[VigilanteMan fight for his vision of justice]]. This is particularly evident in the story of Dr. Malcolm Long, who becomes "infected" with Rorschach's disorder after a CriticalPsychoanalysisFailure: while he begins viewing the world as cold and cruel, he also feels compelled to stop injustice and abuse whenever he encounters it.
* ''Disney Italy's'' Paperinik the [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Devilish Avenger]] has leanings toward this type of AntiHero. He is Donald's superhero (sort of) alter ego, but Donald initially created it to avenge himself against torts (real or imagined) he suffered, his main reason to fight criminals is that crime in general piss him off (assuming [[ItsPersonal they didn't somehow target Donald or Paperinik in the first place]]), and the most light-hearted stories still have him doing things like ''[[TorchesAndPitchforks sick a lynch mob on the Beagle Boys]]'' (they had organized a marathon with Paperinik's SecretIdentity as the prize to empty Duckburg and sack it. Once he found out they didn't actually know his real identity, Paperinik lured the citizens back in town and had them catch the BB in the act).
* Helena Bertinelli, the ''ComicBook/{{Huntress}}'', is a multiple murderer who shows no real regret for any of the people she's killed, and once even cracked a joke after killing a teenager who had been possessed by an EvilWeapon and wasn't really responsible for his actions. Her teammates or other heroes regularly have to restrain her from killing people and do not always succeed. Nevertheless, she is on the side of the good guys.
* [[ComicBook/{{Batman}} Jason Todd]], AKA Red Hood, formerly the second Robin. He's right on that line between a very unscrupulous hero and a fairly scrupulous villain. Like Huntress, he's happy to kill criminals as a first resort, but ([[WesternAnimation/BatmanUnderTheRedHood depending on the adaptation]]) he also believes that the best possible outcome, since ending crime for good is impossible, is for him or someone like him to take over the underworld and regulate it.
* Spider Jerusalem from ''ComicBook/{{Transmetropolitan}}''. Cynical or not, and crazy though he might be, he's a journalist because he cares about the truth, and a savage beating from people who don't appreciate it won't make him see otherwise. Unscrupulous in that there is ''[[TheUnfettered absolutely nothing]]'' he won't do to get to it, no matter what.
** Really, nine out of ten of the characters Creator/WarrenEllis has ever created, if not [[NominalHero Nominal Heroes]], fall here. Most of his main characters follow the basic template of 'violent, cynical, and snarky chain-smokers who still possess moral codes'.
* DependingOnTheWriter, John Constantine from ''ComicBook/{{Hellblazer}}'' could count. He's generally violent and anti-social, but when it's time, he'll stand up for most of the little people against the forces of heaven and hell.
--->''"He dances on the edge of the known like a [[CrazyAwesome crazy man]], pitting himself [[RageAgainstTheHeavens against Heaven]] and [[ToHellAndBack the Pit]], because he is John Constantine, and because he is alive."''
--->--'''Dr Occult to Tim Hunter on John Constantine''', ''"ComicBook/TheBooksOfMagic"''
** Even on the best of days, though, he still could qualify for Unscrupulous status as he has [[TryingToCatchMeFightingDirty zero scruples]] when fighting.
* If he's not being written as a NominalHero, ''[[ComicBook/SubMariner Namor]]'' tends to be this.
* Stephanie in ''{{ComicBook/Uber}}'' is a Allied scientist that worked as double agent with the Nazis to develop the titular super-soldier project. She had to commit sickening atrocities and horrifying human experiments to preserve her cover and provide the Allies a fighting chance. Even though she is devoted to defeat the Nazis by any means, she feels great shame and guilt over her actions.
* ''Radio/TheShadow'' is usually this. He'll not only kill criminals regardless of the immediate threat, but laugh madly while gunning them down. Then he'll do things like intimidate civilians into serving his cause (his RichIdiotWithNoDayJob alter ego? He's actually impersonating someone else he sent on an indefinite vacation [[note]] To be fair, some adaptations suggest that the guy was cool with it [[/note]]).
* ''Possibly'' ComicBook/DocSavage as well. Earlier works would have him take criminals away to a secret lab where he'd, ah... turn them into productive members of society. Surgically. This is probably a matter of ScienceMarchesOn, (readers of the time likely didn't fully understand lobotomies or their effects) but forcibly altering someone's behavior is still pretty out there by modern standards.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* Post-Winter Soldier Bucky Barnes in ''Fanfic/AintNoGrave''. Seventy years as one of the world's deadliest assassins made him both very good at violence and extremely desensitized to it, and seventy years of torture and dehumanization by Hydra left him with a lot of pent-up rage once he got back enough of a sense of self to realize what had been done to him, so his crimefighting efforts tend to be pretty brutal. However, he's a pretty nice guy - when his brain's cooperating - to his friends and innocent bystanders.
* [[WesternAnimation/{{Rango}} Rattlesnake Jake]] gets this portrayal in ''Fanfic/OldWest''. When he's hired by Sheriff Rango to keep Mud (the former town of Dirt) safe from mercenaries, the [[BloodKnight violent]] and [[TheSocialDarwinist antisocial]] outlaw agrees to work for the chameleon he respects begrudgingly only because he's been lately between jobs, and he's repeatedly frustrated by Rango's reluctance to simply finish off the villains. However, Jake [[IGaveMyWord respects his contract]], and as he's forced to keep [[DeterminedHomesteader Grace Glossy]] and her son safe, he shows [[PetTheDog nobleness under his rough shell]] and reveals himself to have experienced a {{dark and troubled past}}.

* Film/JamesBond in ''Film/LicenceToKill'', although he borders on SociopathicHero. As part of his RoaringRampageOfRevenge to take down drug lord Franz Sanchez and avenge Felix Leiter, he kills off quite a few bad guys in particularly terrible ways, like feeding someone to sharks and shoving another down a stone grinder.
** He's more clearly this in ''Film/{{Skyfall}}'', where unlike most NominalHero incarnations of him, has heroic tendencies (objecting to abandoning another wounded agent, for example) while of course, still womanizing and having a merciless demeanor.
* Sheriff Matt Morgan from ''Film/LastTrainFromGunHill'' is simply trying to execute his duty to the law; however, he has no qualms about threatening his former friend's son, whom he's captured and holding for rape and murder, among other dirty tricks.
* Hit Girl from ''Film/KickAss'' starts off a bit too ruthless to be this trope but [[CharacterDevelopment in the end]], fits, as almost all her victims are taken for granted to have at least been unsavory, if not evil.
** Big Daddy to some extent as well, since he's basically a tragic, overly vengeful Batman {{Expy}}.
* Captain Jack Sparrow in ''Franchise/PiratesOfTheCaribbean'': he will lie and reason with friends and foes alike if it means saving himself or gaining the upper hand in his XanatosGambit.
* Frank Bannister in ''Film/TheFrighteners''. He cons people by sending ghosts to haunt houses so he can come and "exorcise" them, disrupts funerals in order to promote his business, and is shown to be quite rude to the ghosts he works with; however at least he isn't like [[BigBad Johnny Bartlett]] who murders people for game. By the end of the film, Frank has become a better person.
* ''Film/TheBluesBrothers'', especially Jake. They mean well enough as they just want to save the orphanage they grew up in, but they're not above scamming patrons, acting like jackasses and endangering bystanders more than they really need to.
* ''Film/TheWorldOfKanako'': Akikazu is completely merciless. He abuses his family, threatens and beats up witnesses and class mates of Kanako, fights with everyone who is in his way and forces [[spoiler:Kanako's teacher]] to give him the location where [[spoiler:she buried her]]. He's still better than other characters in the movie.

* Despite being a straight up bad guy in the films, in the novel Denethor of ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'' starts off as a wise ruler dedicated to protecting his kingdom, though he treats his allies with suspicion and verbally abuses his son. Eventually, however, the combined stress of Faramir's coma and his despair from battling Sauron in the palantir send him JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope.
* Mr. Slippery from Creator/VernorVinge's novella, ''Literature/TrueNames'', is an out-and-out criminal hacker, in it for the fun, but when the chips are down, and the world needs saving, he's willing to save it. And not ''just'' because Federal agents have made him a deal he can't refuse--though that certainly removes any lingering doubts he might have had.
* The LightNovel ''LightNovel/FateZero'' gives us the adoptive father of ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'' protagonist Shirou Emiya, Kiritsugu Emiya. Unlike most examples in this page he still has his moral character however it is [[TheUnfettered how he channels it]] that makes him this.
* Felix Harrowgate of ''Literature/DoctrineOfLabyrinths'' is a wizard uses his powers to put the dead to rest, save a country from invasion, and take out {{Magitek}} machines before they can annihilate ''another'' country, all at considerable risk to himself. Unfortunately, he also says horribly cruel things for the sheer joy of it, repeatedly [[MindRape mind-rapes]] people [[spoiler:including his own brother]], and has a rage blackout in which he seriously [[BondageIsBad crosses]] the [[SafeSaneAndConsensual line]] with an anonymous sex partner.
* Pocket in Creator/ChristopherMoore's ''Pocket the Fool'' novels, beginning with ''Literature/{{Fool}}''. He is deeply cynical, sarcastic and bitter due to his childhood as an orphan and generally being treated like a slave by his master King Lear. However he is protective of [[MoralityChain Cordelia]] [[LoveRedeems whom he genuinely loves]] and has a sense of justice when it comes to other oppressed groups. That the latter also tends to go along with his acute sense of vengeance he finds very convenient.
* In ''Literature/TheFireRose'', Jason Cameron is pretty amoral. To the extent that he's a good person, it's because he takes CutLexLuthorACheck and PragmaticVillainy so far that they take him out of the "villain" sphere entirely; he's a philanthropist because that (used to) earn him street cred in his social circle, and because a well-fed proletariat work well and don't start riots. Likewise, he's known for fair business dealings because [[DickDastardlyStopsToCheat he doesn't need to do anything shady]], but he doesn't especially care that his apprentice and agent gets his rocks off on rape and uses his magic to rig cockfights, except that they show him to be [[EvilIsPetty a complete tool]] and unfit to be a Master. [[spoiler:At least he develops genuine feelings of love for Rose at the end.]]
* Commander Sam Vimes from the ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' series would be a textbook IdealHero except that, in his words, "in certain specific areas" (mostly [[CombatPragmatist fighting]]) he has no rules whatsoever. This is in stark contrast to his immediate superior, [[MagnificentBastard Lord Vetinari]] (an {{Antihero}} who takes whatever steps are necessary to protect the city), and his immediate subordinate, [[KnightInShiningArmor Captain Carrot]] (who is TheCape).
* Franchise/ConanTheBarbarian. He's not shy of any activity where there is an opportunity for violence, wenches and loot. Theft, piracy, assassination, mercenary work, Conan will do it all. He never kills anybody who doesn't deserve it or isn't trying to kill him first, he keeps his word, and he will fight without pay for someone who engages his sympathies. Despite his string of casual romances with different women, he is quite respectful to all of them, and while he is happy to [[RapePillageAndBurn burn and pillage]], rape is ''absolutely'' out of the question.
* Thomas Cromwell, as portrayed in ''Literature/WolfHall''. He's a fair-minded businessman and lawyer, a good husband, is thoroughly determined to give his nieces, nephews, foster- and biological children a ''much'' better upbringing than [[AbusiveParents the one he got]], and is intensely loyal to Cardinal Wolsey, his patron and adopted father in all but name. However, he is rumored to have killed a man as a teenager, spent time as a mercenary on the Continent, and willingly engineers the execution of Anne Boleyn and her supposed "lovers" because of the role they played in Wolsey's downfall. So he is shown as a good man in most aspects, but tarnishes himself by his unwillingness to forget insults and willingness to serve the ruthless and capricious Henry VIII.
* John Rumford and the Christian Marines of ''Literature/{{Victoria}}''. To begin with, in their battle for their countries soul they employ kidnapping, theft, and hostage taking. Then they add torture, assassination, biowarfare on a massive scale (though to be fair, so do their enemies) and nuking an allied city which falls to rioters.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/TwentyFour'': Gives us Jack Bauer, Probably the most famous unscrupulous hero in popular culture.
* ''Series/BlakesSeven'': Avon probably averages out here, especially in series 1 and 3 where he's amoral enough to try and abandon Blake on a Hellhole planet but occasionally shows concern for the others, especially Cally. In series 2 he has enough PetTheDog moments to push him closer to GoodIsNotNice, but by the final series the stress of maintaining a rebellion he wants nothing to do with turns him into a NominalHero.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'': Can you believe that Doctor started like this? Yes. He's devoted to his grandaughter Susan and is disgusted by villains like the Daleks but aside from that his morals are loose at best, with his flaws ranging from pride and paranoia to outright moral cowardice in trying to abandon Barbara to die on Skaro rather than risk further exposure to radiation, as well as Ian and Barbara becoming his companions only after he trapped them within the Tardis against their will. But by the conclusion of the first three stories he gets over this and becomes a PragmaticHero.
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'':
** Arya ultimately has a good heart, but is fully capable of murdering without a second thought and goes to absolutely ghastly lengths to secure vengeance for herself and her family. The only thing that keeps her from losing much sympathy is the fact that her enemies are, almost universally, ''colossal'' assholes. Really, as of the sixth season, she's basically the Westerosi answer to ComicBook/ThePunisher: a deadly, terrifying vigilante who would amount to little more than a SerialKiller if not for the fact that her enemies are far, ''far'' worse and absolutely deserving of a grisly end.
** Even at his least villainous, Sandor has no qualms with ruthless actions that benefit himself.
* ''Series/{{Revolution}}'': Miles Matheson after the blackout became this. He helped to start a dictatorship because he wanted to bring peace and order, as shown in flashbacks in [[Recap/RevolutionS1E3NoQuarter episode 3]]. However, he became the Butcher of Baltimore, hurt Rachel (shown in flashbacks of [[Recap/RevolutionS1E17TheLongestDay episode 17]]), and handed Alec over to the Texans when Alec balked at assassinating the Texan president (shown in flashbacks of [[Recap/RevolutionS1E14TheNightTheLightsWentOutInGeorgia episode 14]]). He ended up leaving the Monroe Republic when Monroe went too far and Miles failed to assassinate him (elaborated on in the [[Recap/RevolutionS1E20TheDarkTower first season finale]]). He makes it clear to Charlie that he hurts people and he doesn't think twice about it. Later on, Charlie's influence causes him to become more of a Pragmatic Hero.
* ''Series/VeronicaMars'': The title character's intent is always to catch the bad guy, but her methods can range from manipulating an officer in order to steal evidence or eavesdropping on therapy sessions. Her motivation is almost always revenge rather than justice. She certainly enjoys her KickTheDog moments, but her targets [[KickTheSonOfABitch are always REALLY terrible people so the audience doesn't flinch too much]].
* Tsukasa Kadoya, the main character of ''Series/KamenRiderDecade'', is held in prophecy to be the Destroyer of Worlds, who will bring about an end to the Rider multiverse and kill all the Kamen Riders. He ''acts'' less "ultimate evil", however, and more "[[PokeThePoodle kind of]] [[{{Jerkass}} a tool]]" - he will troll and endanger other people to find and defeat the [[MonsterOfTheWeek bad guys of the fortnight]], although he'll throw himself into the firing line as well. Much of the series' mystery is "Is Tsukasa a JerkWithAHeartOfGold, or actually [[BigBad the ultimate evil]]?"
* ''Series/BreakingBad'' has [[spoiler:Hank Schrader]] become one in Season 5B. He spends that entire season [[spoiler:trying to bring Walter White down, who by this point has become a monster. However Hank's tactics to do so range from the morally questionable to downright illegal. He even at one point flat out says that, if a plan involving a cooperative Jesse should go wrong, that he doesn't care if Jesse gets killed.]]
* ''Series/{{Revenge}}'': Emily Thorne/[[spoiler:Amanda Clarke]], true to form as an expy of the Count of Monte Cristo, sets out to get payback against the people responsible for [[spoiler:supposedly]] the death of her father and the loss of her childhood. Ruthless as she is, most of her targets however are treacherous and indecent, particularly BigBad Conrad Grayson [[spoiler:who it turns out was part of the very terrorist ring Emily's father was accused of being in on]], making her takedowns all the more karmic and satisfying. Given that she [[ThouShaltNotKill never resorts to murder outside of self defense]], the only reason she falls under here rather than PragmaticHero is [[TheUnfettered the extremes to which she will go]]. She ascends to a KnightInSourArmor in season 4 after capping off her revenge on Victoria as she tries to make amends by living more honestly.
* ''Series/{{Farscape}}'' gives us Dominar Rygel of Hyneria, a [[ScrewThisImOuttaHere cowardly]], [[StickyFingers kleptomaniacal]], [[NobleFugitive dethroned monarch]] (only in the figurative sense - he still has a flying throne he uses for transportation) with [[ItsAllAboutMe shaky moral values]], and who is implied (and sometimes shown) to be capable of some [[DecapitationPresentation very]] [[MoralPragmatist dark]] [[TheJoysOfTorturingMooks deeds]]. However, he is still unquestionably a hero, and it is suggested that many of his more vile character traits are a direct result of his being dethroned, exiled, and tortured for cycles on end by a sadistic Peacekeeper.
* On ''Series/OrphanBlack'', [[TheOphelia Helena]] graduates into this through her HeelFaceTurn after the first season. She grows to love her newfound family and friends but nonetheless remains brutal and ruthless to her enemies.
* The titular ''Series/{{Lucifer}}''. He uses his [[ComboPlatterPowers massive array of powers]] to punish the wicked and truly [[PayEvilUntoEvil deserving]], but only by his standards and his methods. Lucifer is also a [[DeadpanSnarker snarky]] [[HandsomeLech womanizing]] [[ManipulativeBastard bastard]] who [[JerkWithaHeartofGold loves]] those close to him, but rarely shows it.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'': Sam started acting like this in season 6, becoming a hunter [[TheUnfettered without any moral lines he wouldn't cross]] to catch a monster, such as using a hapless sheriff as bait then executing him after he's been infected with TheVirus, and [[ShootTheHostage shooting a woman who was being used as a human shield]]. His actions sicken both his brother Dean and their grandfather Samuel Campbell, both of whom [[PragmaticHero may stretch the rules a bit]] but still have ''some'' standards. It's eventually revealed that this change in character is because [[TheSoulless Sam has lost his soul]].

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* [[Wrestling/DwayneJohnson The Rock]] is usually this type of hero, when portraying a Face. The basic characterization of The Rock is that his ego is completely out of control, and this trait remains no matter what "side" he's on. The Rock doesn't care about anything other than himself. The only things that change are whether or not he's willing to earn his victory with his own wits and skill or [[EvilIsEasy willing to take cheap and easy path to a championship]], and whether or not he cares about having the crowd on his side. However, both of these methods are also done to satisfy his ego; he does it just to prove he ''can'' do it.

* The [[TheEmpire Imperium of Man]], the [[OurElvesAreBetter Eldar]] and the [[TheGreys Tau]] of ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' are traditionally the "good guy" factions of the setting and better than the "bad guy" factions [[note]]that would be the [[ReligionOfEvil Forces of Chaos]], the [[OmnicidalManiac Necrons]], the [[BugWar Tyranids]] and the [[AlwaysChaoticEvil Dark Eldar]][[/note]], [[AbsoluteXenophobe but]] [[MagnificentBastard not]] [[ScaryDogmaticAliens by]] [[BloodKnight much]]. Pretty much the only thing they all have in common is that everyone is out to get them, they have ''some'' noble motives (if not exactly pleasant ways to achieving them) and no matter what horrid things they do, [[ShootTheDog they usually do it for a justifiable reason]], and the bad guys do far worse things than they could ever do anyway.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Ammon Jerro of ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2'' is literally [[DealWithTheDevil Hell-bent]] on saving the Sword Coast from the [[OmnicidalManiac King of]] [[LivingShadow Shadows]] at all costs. He goes so far as to stealing the most sacred relic of a extraplanar race of [[BlueAndOrangeMorality Holy warriors]], making several infernal pacts with various demons and devils of the lower hells, killing any who oppose him (knowingly or not), abandoning any allies if they do not pull their weight, and even razing entire villages if it means he has a better shot at defeating the King of Shadows. He's even the DiskOneFinalBoss. [[spoiler:That is until he joins you anyways.]]
* [[ProfessionalKiller Zevran]] from ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' qualifies, if the player can gain his loyalty. He can be recruited after he tries to kill you; he swears to help you end the Blight if you spare him. He advocates the use of poison, rather enjoys his profession and is one of your more [[TokenEvilTeammate ''morally ambiguous'' companions]]. With that in mind, he is also [[UndyingLoyalty fiercely loyal]] to your PC if you can get his affection high enough and is nowhere near as bad as his former employers, [[ColdBloodedTorture the]] [[ChildSoldiers Antivan]] [[MurderInc Crows]].
** The player character can be played as an Unscrupulous Hero. You can lie, extort, steal and murder your way through Ferelden, all in the name of stopping the Blight (or ForTheEvulz, depending on the player). Given that you are the only thing standing between Thedas and [[ApocalypseHow total annihilation]] via darkspawn, [[GodzillaThreshold anything goes]].
** By [[VideoGame/DragonAgeInquisition the third game]] Leliana hates it but takes this view herself: given the threat no act is too vile, her loyalty is such that nothing is off limits. The Inquisitor has to intervene to keep her from continuing down this dark path.
* ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'''s ruthless mercs (and long-suffering P.A. Miss Pauling) may not have consciences, but they are capable of human affection, which is more than their ironically named business rival, [[spoiler: Gray Mann,]] can say...
* The Third Street Saints have become this by the time ''VideoGame/SaintsRowIV'' rolls around. The Saints were gangbangers, super stars, and a terrible choice for the presidency, but they are also the only ones who were able to defeat the interplanetary empire of the Xin and save the future of humanity.
* Midna in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'' may be this, especially at the beginning. Even when she had no sympathy for those who lived in the light, she still fought for a righteous cause. She loves the people under her rule and wanted to save them. Plus, her dispassion for the people of Hyrule is no different from a government's lack of interests in another nation's politics. She may not have cared about saving the world of light ([[CharacterDevelopment at the time]]) but she sure as hell didn't want to worsen the situation either.
* ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaLordsOfShadow2'' is mainly about Dracula's [[spoiler: development from a NominalHero, who is only 'good' because he's fighting SATAN, into one of these (kinda). Admittedly not much of a jump, as although he does get some PetTheDog moments regarding his family, he never stops being utterly ruthless, and the mountain of tragedy he's gone through over the centuries never leaves him entirely. The main development is that while his desire for vengeance on Satan and Zobek certainly remains at the forefront of his motivations, it becomes clear as the game goes on he really just wants to be at peace with his family, and in the end, Marie and Alucard forgive him and help him find his peace.]]
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics'': [[spoiler:[[TheChessmaster Delita]]]] is an embodiment of this trope, also [[spoiler:[[WellIntentionedExtremist Izlude]]]] may be taken into account after the events in Orbonne Monastery.
* ''VideoGame/{{Uncharted}}'': Samuel Drake of ''A Thief's End'' is a harsher, colder version of his younger brother Nathan. [[spoiler:When he puts a gun on Nadine Ross' head, he threatens to shoot her and Nate pulls him at the last moment setting the shot in the air, proving that he was indeed going to murder her. Then Rafe reveals that he's a manipulative liar, whose only redeeming virtue is that he genuinely does love Nate.]]
* In ''VisualNovel/ApolloJusticeAceAttorney'', Phoenix Wright has been out of the law business for the better part of a decade. When met with an opportunity not only to identify a murderer but [[spoiler:get back at the person who drummed him out of the work in the first place]], he does so by [[spoiler:relying on the tactic (evidence forgery) that was originally responsible for derailing his career]]. At least this time he did it for the right reason ([[spoiler:since the evidence necessary to convict the killer was taken by said killer at the scene]]), as opposed to being on the wrong end of it ([[spoiler:where the tainted evidence was used to sabotage his case instead of provide a falsified advantage]]). Still, it's certainly not something he'd ever have resorted to otherwise.
* ''Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog'''s well known AntiHero, Shadow the Hedgehog, is this. He fights for the greater good, but he'll go to extreme lengths to do what he feels is right, regardless of anyone else's opinions and those who gets in his way are just as much of an enemy as the villains to him. He has also occasionally sided with the villains such as Eggman and Black Doom when he viewed it necessary.
* ''VisualNovel/{{Sunrider}}'' has Admiral Harold Grey of the Solar Alliance. Grey is the player’s biggest ally in liberating the Neutral Rim from PACT, but he’s not waging this war out of the kindness of his heart and he does shady things in the name of victory. Some examples include hiring mercenaries to do his dirty work, covering up civilian deaths caused by his soldiers’ heavy-handed actions, and threatening to nuke an unaligned planet into oblivion unless a PACT fleet withdraws from the system (an act which sees his PACT counterpart [[NobleTopEnforcer Veniczar Fontana]] call Grey out on being NotSoDifferent). That said, he does have some standards: if you call him out on the aforementioned cover-up, he’ll admit that it goes against everything he stands for and will promise to open a public investigation (while simultaneously chewing ''you'' out for your idealism). He also realizes that the [[DoomsdayDevice Paradox Core]] is too dangerous for anyone to possess and has it destroyed, [[spoiler:but not before secretly reverse-engineering it so that he’ll have a planet-killer missile on hand as a weapon of last resort]].

* Celesto Morgan, of ''Webcomic/DominicDeegan'', is the appointed Champion of Chaos and Destruction. While he views himself as a champion of freedom and destroyer of tyranny and evil, his actions frequently show him to be almost as destructive as the things he fights, such as his battle with The Infernomancer in Lynn's Brook, in which he killed more people than the man he was there to stop. He has also been the vigilante executioner of two, up until that point {{Karma Houdini}}s in the story and has become HeWhoFightsMonsters against the Beast.
* [[SmugSnake Vriska]] from ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'' would embody this trope were opinions on her not split further than the San Andreas Fault. [[AbusiveParents Forced by her lusus to become a]] SerialKiller from a very young age, she soon grows to embrace the role and [[KillerGameMaster kills thousands of trolls through FLARPing.]] Her EstablishingCharacterMoment is throwing one of her players off a cliff with MindControl ''because she can''. She then goes on to try and establish a [[FoeYay caliginous relationship]] with him - only he doesn't return her feelings, so her "courtships" come off as [[BastardGirlfriend abusive, even for the twisted culture she exists in.]] Later she even goes as far as [[spoiler:turning [[BigBad Jack Noir]] into a PhysicalGod just so that she can have some impact on the story and murdering said caliginous crush for having the guts to stand up to himself.]] And yet through all this, she has every intention of defeating [[BigBad Jack Noir]] and spends much of her time assisting [[TheHero John]] on his quest, [[spoiler:developing romantic feelings for him as time goes by.]] In her mind, she is following the footsteps of her powerful, infamous and morally bankrupt ancestor, but at crucial points proves she is either too cruel or ''not cruel enough'' to play that part.
* Norah and Paige from ''Webcomic/AgentsOfTheRealm'' are underplayed version, both being fine examples of JerkWithAHeartOfGold.

[[folder:Web Originals]]
* ''Literature/{{Worm}}'' gives us [[spoiler:Armsmaster]], who arranges the death of multiple "villains", including a fifteen-year-old girl he ''knew'' to be TheMole, in order to give himself a chance to defeat [[spoiler:Leviathan]] in a one-on-one fight.
** Many heroes in Worm are unscrupulous, but special mention should go to Taylor Hebert/Skitter, who in only her second week ''carved a man's eyes out'' (they grew back). Some other highlights of her career include shooting an unarmed man kneeling in the middle of a street, kidnapping a PRT Director, murdering one of the greatest superheroes in the world, taking over a city, and murdering an infant. The sad thing is, all of these happened in a situation where they were arguably the only or best option, or at the very worst [[ItMakesSenseInContext understandable.]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheDreamstone'' juxtoposes this with the SugarBowl Land Of Dreams (yes, odd). While usually sweet natured and borderline messianic, the heroes seem completely apathetic to the fact most of Zordrak's mooks are harmless cowards TrappedInVillainy, and often take sadistic pleasure in punishing them or taking their retaliations outside self defense [[PragmaticVillainy compared to vice versa]], mostly all on the principal of [[FelonyMisdemeanor trying to give them bad dreams]]. Later episodes made them more passive, like something in PragmaticHero territory.
* In ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'', Buford may [[CardCarryingVillain boast about being a schoolyard bully]], but when Phineas and Ferb need help, he can always be counted on.
* Jerry in ''WesternAnimation/TomAndJerry'' depending on the episode. Without getting into his [[DisproportionateRetribution sadistic nature towards Tom]], he is generally a FriendToAllLivingThings. But he's definitely not above using violence for reasons other than self-defense or protecting others (often as vengeance for a legitimate wrong, but occasionally, because he's bored). Often when his actions are unambiguously unheroic, especially when unprovoked, we get a rare LaserGuidedKarma victory for Tom.
* In ''WesternAnimation/ElTigre'', although Manuel Rivera is usually on the good guys side, that doesn't stop him from doing mischevious things from time to time.
* WesternAnimation/BugsBunny is a very similar case to Jerry's. He acts against others mostly when provoked or attacked ('''mostly''') and damn if he doesn't enjoy giving those he goes up against [[DisproportionateRetribution their sweet dose of punishment]], but he's otherwise a friendly and nice individual.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'', Brock Samson and Dr. Venture, despite being self-centered individuals, fall here on their best days when they show some regard for human life and collateral damage. Usually though, [[HeroicComedicSociopath not so much...]]
* The Justice League in the world of ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeagueGodsAndMonsters'' skirt between this and PragmaticHero. They have no qualms about killing, but will stray into even more questionable stuff like invading a foreign embassy to get at terrorists, or contemplate taking over the world as benevolent tyrants. And they ''still'' come off looking pretty heroic.