%% Image kept on page in current format per Image Pickin' thread: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=1375207356069531700
%% Please do not replace or remove without starting a new thread.
[[quoteright:300: [[ComicBook/TheLifeAndTimesOfScroogeMcDuck http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/13_4891.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:300:Sometimes, you surprise yourself.]]

->''"Character is what you are in the dark."''
-->-- Attr. to '''Dwight L. Moody''' (American Evangelist, 1837–1899)
%% Do not replace with this attribution
%%-->-- Lord John Whorfin, '''Film/TheAdventuresOfBuckarooBanzaiAcrossThe8thDimension'''
%% which is quoting an older proverb

TheHero is alone, except, perhaps, for the villain. No one whose opinion he cares about -- possibly no one at all -- will ever need to know what he does next, and he knows it. And there is a [[DirtyBusiness useful but corrupt act]] that he could commit, reaping the benefit without anyone ever knowing. If he does not do it, the consequences can be severe, even [[HeroicSacrifice deadly]]. If the villain is there, he is urging the hero to do it, which possibly involves cleaning up any possible witnesses. Very likely, he is at his DarkestHour, even on the verge of the DespairEventHorizon.

The StockPhrase is usually something like "No one will ever know." It can [[BreakThemByTalking taunt him with the futility of his heroism]] (perhaps even telling him that he will [[DyingAlone die alone]], [[DueToTheDead unmourned]], [[TragicFuneral with no one attending his funeral]], [[FamedInStory unremembered]]), or tempt him with the rewards of villainy, even telling him that the heroic act will be [[MaliciousSlander interpreted as villainy]], and vice versa. A more foolish and friendly villain may urge it's NotCheatingUnlessYouGetCaught.

What happens next?

Well, the audience finds out whether he [[HeroicSpirit really is]] TheHero.

Usually he is, because doing the right thing in the face of great temptation is a mark of great heroism, whereas doing the wrong is a mark of great villainy. When the wrong path is taken, this is usually the lead to more impressively villainous acts. Occasionally, it is to prove CantGetAwayWithNuthin: a character [[DueToTheDead loots a corpse]], only to discover it can be identified.

Particularly hard for the GlorySeeker. May prove to be a SecretTestOfCharacter. May also prove [[EvilCannotComprehendGood a great shock]] to a villain who was convinced she was a SlaveToPR and NotSoDifferent.

If a {{villain|s}} is urging that no one will ever know, three responses are possible, depending on the hero's character:
# "I'll know." (The hero can't live with himself if he fails this test.)
# "God/Heaven/the gods/[my dead parent/friend/mentor] will know." (The hero doesn't feel he's really in the dark. Often overlaps with #1, if the hero's devoutly religious.)
# "You'll know." (Vaguely anti-heroic: the hero can't live with the thought of his enemy winning in any way, he realizes the villain will now have something to blackmail him with, or he simply wants to deny the villain even the smallest of victories over him out of spite.)

This can apply in cases where the credit will quickly be misappropriated, as when working for the GloryHound, or when a FakeUltimateHero is present.

The usual {{A|nAesop}}esop of this trope revolves around the idea that anyone can do the right thing when all the attention is placed on them and it would be inconvenient to do so, but it takes real strength of character -- and heroism -- to do the heroic thing when no one is watching and there's nothing to lose. This may carry an [[FamilyUnfriendlyAesop unfortunate implication]] that [[HobbesWasRight most humans aren't bastards only when]] BigBrotherIsWatching.

SuperTrope of SilentScapegoat. Antonym of PhotoOpWithTheDog. Often a prerequisite for a WeCanRuleTogether offer made to a hero. Compare InvisibleJerkass, DudeWheresMyReward, StrikeMeDownWithAllOfYourHatred, {{GIFT}}. See also TheGreatestStoryNeverTold and ZeroApprovalGambit. See ShootTheDog for when there are arguments for the morality of both actions. See JerkassFacade for when a {{Jerkass}} turns out to be a nice person on the inside. May involve TheCorrupter. This test of character always reveals what is BeneathTheMask. If a character erroneously ''believes'' that nobody will know what he's doing, he can find himself at the wrong end of an EngineeredPublicConfession (if the situation was set up deliberately) or IsThisThingStillOn (broadcasting a private moment by accident) situation.

If you are looking for the blog by the same title that is part of Franchise/TheSlenderManMythos, go [[Blog/WhatYouAreInTheDark here]].

[[Administrivia/DoWeHaveThisOne Compare and contrast]] the ''villainous'' version; the villain has [[TheBadGuyWins achieved everything he set out to do]], has wealth and power beyond his imagination, and is perhaps even ready to [[UnholyMatrimony settle down]] with someone they [[EvenEvilHasLovedOnes genuinely and unselfishly love]]. Then they realize that their actions [[EveryoneHasStandards cross a line]] - believing utterly that what they have done is unforgivable and a HeelFaceTurn probably won't even ''work'' - and they give it all up to fight for Good '''anyway.''' Also see UndercoverWhenAlone.


[[folder: Anime & Manga]]
* Used during [[spoiler: the collective MindRape scene]] in the ''Manga/{{Cyborg 009}}'' 2001 series.
* ''Anime/AngelBeats'': [[spoiler: Yuri in the computer room, when she finds out that she can become 'God', denies the power. Made all the more powerful when you remember that her objective all along was to find 'God' to defeat him.]]
* ''Manga/OnePiece'':
** Everyone knows that Zoro is one of the main good guys and despite him [[TheStoic not showing it as often]], he does look after the crew. The end of Thriller Bark [[spoiler: shows ''exactly'' what kind of lengths he would go for them, as he fully intended to [[HeroicSacrifice sacrifice himself]] as part of the deal to Kuma to spare the others.]]
** During Usopp's introductory arc, he was willing to take on the entirety of Captain Kuro's men without his village even being aware of the danger. This nobility gained him the respect and aid of Luffy and the others.
** Usopp's fights also tend to be examples of this. Especially his first real battle of the series. His opponent [[OurMermaidsAreDifferent Choo]] is his physical superior in every conceivable way, and Usopp survives his first encounter by playing dead. As he starts covering himself in dirt to make his excuse for letting Choo leave more believable, he realizes he doesn't ''want'' to be a coward and a liar, stands up to Choo while scared to death, and actually comes out on top and wins. To Usopp's credit, he was certainly FASTER than Choo.
** During the Alabasta arc, despite taking a massive amount of punishment from Miss Merry Christmas and Mr. 4, [[IronButtMonkey Usopp keeps standing right back up]]. He also says that it's impossible that Luffy is dead, despite Miss Merry Christmas's claims, saying that Luffy is destined to be King of the Pirates. These early battles cemented Usopp as a CowardlyLion that may act scared, but when the chips are down, he's not running away.
* In ''Anime/GhostInTheShellStandAloneComplex'', Batou corners a serial killer he had been chasing in order to exact revenge on him for slaughtering a village full of innocent people. He has the opportunity to kill him without anybody asking questions (in fact, the CIA agents working with him [[BatmanGambit were banking on this to happen]]). However, Batou reminds the killer (and himself) that he's a law enforcement officer now, not a soldier, and promptly arrests him.
* The defining moment of ''[[Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion The End of Evangelion]]'': [[spoiler: Shinji Ikari has the choice of returning to life (and allowing others to do the same) or dooming humanity to an eternity as a single non-sentient organism. Nobody would EVER know if he chose to die. Nobody would judge him for it. The decision was his and his alone. He proved, for possibly the only time in the series, that he truly was the hero by deciding to return to life, even though it would be painful and lonely.]]
* In ''Manga/{{Planetes}}'', Tanabe is on the moon [[spoiler: with no air left in her suit, and an unconscious terrorist with a full tank of oxygen at her feet. She is tempted to let the terrorist die and steal the air for herself. But in the end she realizes she can't, and lets herself begin to choke to death.]]
* A variant occurs in ''Manga/DeathNote''. After discovering the eponymous [[ArtifactOfDoom Death Note]], Light goes on a rampart killing spree of criminals over 5 days that ''surprises a god of death''. This is later revealed to be because he expected some divine retribution to come to him and he wanted to do as much "good" as possible. It's only after Ryuk explains to him that there are no immediate consequences to using the Death Note (specifically that the major price is the user cannot go to {{Heaven}} or {{Hell}} when they die) that he starts his AGodAmI attitude... then it all goes downhill from there.
* Very important to ''Anime/CodeGeass''. Much of the point of Lelouch is showing someone who pretends to be TheHero in the limelight, then revealing his "real self" when isolated from that limelight. [[spoiler: The series shows that Lelouch is quite capable of both very good, and very bad things... as well as not being an entirely stable person.]]
* In ''LightNovel/ACertainMagicalIndex'', Touma Kamijou will '''never''' walk away from somebody in trouble, even though [[TheGreatestStoryNeverTold nobody really knows he exists and his accomplishments will never be acknowledged]]. To the point where, when one of his opponents asks him why he fights and saves people, Touma's reply that he has never found a single good reason to abandon anyone is enough to convince her that he is insane.
** Touma has defeated Fiamma of the Right, a extremely powerful magician that has become an enemy of the entire world, and the two of them are stuck in Fiamma's flying fortress, which is falling towards the ground. Fiamma accepts his loss and prepares himself for his death, but he's surprised when Touma helps him up and starts carrying him to the last escape pod. Fiamma questions his actions and points out out that the pod is only capable of saving one of them, and Touma replies without pause that then Fiamma needs to escape. Fiamma is left dumbfounded when he realizes Touma is completely serious, even when he could return home as the hero who defeated the [[BigBad mastermind]] that instigated [[WorldWarIII World War III]] and nobody would criticize him for leaving him behind, instead very likely being praised for finishing him off. This and Touma's actions during their previous fight [[HeelFaceTurn completely change Fiamma's outlook]], motivating him to fight to protect the world he had tried to forcibly purify before and granting him a newfound respect towards Touma's way of saving people he had previously mocked.
** Touma once again follows his personal beliefs by protecting and helping [[spoiler: Othinus, who like Fiamma had become a global enemy and had subjected him [[RealityWarper to millions of worlds designed to torture him]], to relinquish her great powers. During this journey he fights some of his allies and friends that are trying to kill her, and all of them are surprised and confused by Touma's actions, since only Touma and Othinus [[RippleEffectProofMemory kept their memories]] of the events that changed them both.]]
* In ''LightNovel/ShakuganNoShana'', Shana once considered killing her romantic rival Kazumi Yoshida while time was frozen, but stopped.
* In ''Anime/ValkyrieDriveMermaid'', Mamori can transform into a sword for Mirei to wield. She is completely unconscious until she turns back. Mirei knows this, yet she kept her promises to Mamori while wielding her even though Mamori would never know.
* In the 2015 anime/manga of ''Literature/TheHeroicLegendOfArslan'', when the group was separated and chased by Lusitanians, Gieve spotted Arslan and Elam being attacked. At this point in time, Gieve was NotInThisForYourRevolution and could have pretended he didn't see them or even helped the Lusitanians claim the hefty reward on Arslan's head. Instead, he came to their rescue and repeatedly protected them throughout the rest of the journey.
* In ''Manga/GlassMask'', TheRival Ayumi heads to a secluded valley in secret for one last acting exercise before going home, convinced she cannot defeat the protagonist, Maya, for the coveted role of the Crimson Goddess. A passing farmer warns her that the bridge to the valley is rotting out, and shortly afterwards, Ayumi spots Maya coming down the same path. Realizing that she'd get the role if Maya fell, Ayumi pretends not to have seen her...but ultimately runs back to pull her up when she hears Maya scream. This also inspires her to go back and face Maya with her own skills, rather than relying on underhanded means like the other celebrities she'd always despised.
* ''LightNovel/SwordArtOnline'': During the end of the Fairy Dance arc, Sugou, after being [[WoundThatWillNotHeal maimed and permanently injured]] by Kirito during their battle in ALO, attacks Kirito in real life outside the hospital Asuna is in with a knife. Kirito manages to overpower him and seems fully prepared to [[SlashedThroat slit Sugou's throat]] with his own knife, particularly after all of the atrocities Sugou committed throughout the arc, not the least of which was [[spoiler: sexually harassing Asuna while [[ForcedToWatch making Kirito watch]]]]. Ultimately, however, Kirito settles for just leaving an utterly broken Sugou, reduced to InelegantBlubbering and knowing his plans are in ruin, unconscious in the parking lot for the police.
* In ''Anime/DragonBallSuper'', [[spoiler: when Jaco takes Bulma to see Master Zuno, he sees that Burp Man is the one ahead of him in line. He could arrest the guy then and there, but he posits that it'll lead to Burp Man telling the Galactic Patrol that Jaco used him as TheScapegoat when Jaco himself destroyed a valuable monument. He's about to leave the guy to his devices when Bulma mentions that Beerus threatened to destroy Universe 7, and that they'll all have to hope he was joking. With the universe on the line, despite the fact that he'd be in the clear if he just ignored Burp Man, Jaco then risks getting caught, subdues Burp Man when he takes a hostage, and gains Bulma audience with Zuno]].

[[folder: Comic Books]]
* In ''ComicBook/SonicTheComic'' Tails was given a chance to [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything shoot Robotnik from a building, looking down on Robotnik's parade]]. The unicorn who gives him this chance tempts him by saying that Mobius will be free if Tails pulls the trigger. He doesn't go through with it. Turns out the whole thing was an illusion set up by the unicorn as a SecretTestOfCharacter.
* This happens in ''ComicBook/SupermanBatman'' of all places, with Batman as the tempter. When both heroes confront then-president of the United States, Lex Luthor, over a bounty he placed on Superman's head, blaming Luthor for an incoming meteor (made of Kryptonite or containing it at least) about to hit the earth, and the beating he just gave to their respective proteges, Superman has been pushed so far he is ready to fry Luthor. Luthor actually tries to goad him, believing Superman wouldn't do it or that if he did, the fact that Superman committed murder would be a massive blow against him and the people's faith in him, thus a form of post-mortem vengeance against Superman. However, that is when Batman shows up and quite calmly tells Superman he [Batman] won't stop him, and that they can just make it look like an accident or "better yet, as if he'd vanished without a trace." Luthor begins ''sweating cold'' when he realizes he may genuinely lose his life for good. Needless to say, Superman doesn't kill him and settles for throwing him against the wall before leaving to stop the meteor. Which was what Batman probably [[BatmanGambit knew would happen]] all along. Probably.
** The trains of thought for both Superman and Batman show just close it was. Superman recalled how Pa Kent told him about what you needed to do regarding a fox in the henhouse (in this case, the metaphor is now being applied to the fox as Lex and the innocent people as the henhouse) while Batman thinks of despite the damage Joker has done, it was only to Gotham and that ultimately, Luthor is worse than Joker and hurts many more people than the Joker.
* In one of the ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' based comics (during the The New Adventures period), a multi-millionaire philanthropist places a million dollar bounty for the Joker's head (dead or alive, but preferably dead), in order to have justice for the Joker killing his son. He does so via live broadcast, including the Times-Square-esque television screens in Gotham Uptown. The whole city goes berserk as everybody tries to capture and or kill the Joker. Finally, Batman kidnaps the millionaire, brings him to a dark corner of Gotham where the Joker is tied to a chair in a cone of light. Batman says that he will not allow the man to buy himself a murder; if he wants Joker dead, he is going to have to kill him himself. Before disappearing into the dark though, Batman asks the businessman if this is really what he wants, and if it is really worth it. The man, alone with Joker, begins to lunge at the clown to strangle him, but stops himself, unable to go against his humanitarian nature. The next day, he withdraws the bounty, instead using it to start a support organization for the families of victims of violent crime. [[BatmanGambit Just like Batman expected he would.]]
* Batman himself ends up in this position with the Joker in ''ComicBook/TheDarkKnightReturns''. They're in an abandoned carnival ride, the Joker has just killed dozens of people after Batman's return has drawn him out of a decades-long catatonic state, and Batman has sworn that he'll never let the Joker take another life and is prepared to kill him. [[spoiler:In the end, Batman can't do it and paralyses the Joker by nearly breaking his neck. Laughing at Batman's lack of guts and knowing that no one else in the world will know he didn't do it, Joker finishes the job for him and kills himself.]]
* A ''Comicbook/SecretSix'' chapter contains a chilling inversion of this and other similar situations. The titular group of [[VillainProtagonist Villain Protagonists]] is hired to snatch a pedophile serial killer from police, by the father of one of the said killer's victims, who intends to avenge his daughter personally. However, when Catman and Deadshot deliver the safely bound killer into an isolated storehouse, where no one will hear any screams, he starts backing down, clearly unprepared to take another's life and saying he doesn't think he can do that. Catman coldly responds with "Yes, you can", and a short but detailed instruction about the most painful ways to flense a human. Judging by the man's immediate reaction, he takes this advice to heart.
* In Chapter 7 of Creator/DonRosa's ''Comicbook/TheLifeAndTimesOfScroogeMcDuck'', "Dreamtime Duck of the Never-Never", Scrooge (years before becoming wealthy) chooses to return a huge opal that had been stolen to its rightful place in a sacred Aboriginal cave, rather than take it for himself and make a fortune selling it. Even though the theft wouldn't be discovered for a hundred years.
* The same four-issue arc of the ''[[Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse Star Wars]]'' ''[[ComicBook/XWingSeries Rogue Squadron]]'' comic that introduces Baron Soontir Fel, AcePilot of the Empire, shows us that he's not that bad a guy by including a scene where his superior, a corrupt admiral tasked with protecting a planet, tells him to relax and enjoy the planet's luxuries, which includes a scantily-clad local girl named "Grania". Fel says that his wife wouldn't approve. The admiral tells him that ''his'' wife wouldn't either, but no one needed to know. Fel uses the stock answer of "I'll know."
** ''Franchise/StarWars'' Invasion #3: [[spoiler:Finn has the opportunity to kill a trapped Yuuzhan Vong warrior, but instead he frees him, instructing him to "learn." Luke Skywalker was covertly watching this SecretTestOfCharacter, however]].
--> True natures are revealed at times like this. [...] No mercy could be expected -- but some individuals exceed expectations.
** In ''ComicBook/MarvelStarWars'', Leia briefly ends up stranded on the low-tech world Shiva, where she makes quite an impression on the natives and is widely accepted there. She enjoys the feeling, but when Luke finds her again and [[http://images.plurk.com/8b9c72065a4f1ba071af9c1e192ca6cd.jpg offers to leave her there to find that peace and happiness she wants so much]], she refuses first with the stock phrase, then with this:
--> "I am Princess of Alderaan, Luke. Fate has cast me as a leader of the Rebellion. For better or worse, whatever the outcome... I'll play that role to the finish."
* In the second ''ComicBook/BoosterGold'' series, Booster intends to become a serious, hard-working superhero in [[DueToTheDead tribute to Blue Beetle]]. Then Rip Hunter offers him a chance to protect the time continuum -- by maintaining his reputation as a fool, which will protect him from time-traveling enemies. Booster struggles but accepts. (Although, in this case, Rip can offer that ''he'' will know that Booster is a great hero, and later two Batmen become Booster's {{Secret Keeper}}s).
* Played heartbreakingly straight by a doomed Buffy body double in one of the [[Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer Buffy Season 8 Comics]]. "I tried to feel it. I tried to face the darkness like a woman and I don't need any more than that. You don't have to remember me. You don't even have to know who I am. But I do." Made all the more powerful because we never learn the girl's name.
* Wedge Antilles earned one in a ''[[ComicBook/XWingSeries Rogue Squadron]]'' comic set shortly after the destruction of the Second Death Star. Corellia's capital city is attacked by an Imperial madman desperate to show that the Empire had not yet been defeated. After several days of intense fighting, they cornered him and forced him to flee in a TIE Interceptor, with Wedge chasing after him in another. Wedge manages to shoot him down and lands to find the man crawling out of the wreckage. After giving him one strong punch in the face, Wedge binds his hands, saying that no one would question him if he decided to execute the Imperial right there, but then all of the man's victims would never see justice.
* The ending of the original ''Comicbook/DoomPatrol'' series had their nemeses take a small fishing village hostage, demanding the Patrol's deaths in exchange. The Doom Patrol accepted the deal, and died as obscurely as they lived. Until the inevitable {{Retcon}}, anyway.
** The corresponding episode in ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheBraveAndTheBold'' called "The Last Patrol!" had the Patrol do the same thing, their deaths broadcast all over the world by General Zahl. However, he finds the people end up ADMIRING the Patrol for their sacrifice. The General realizes that even in Death, the Doom Patrol defeated him. In memoriam, the island village of fourteen the Patrol died for is renamed "Four Heroes."
* Back during the original run of ''ComicBook/{{Thunderbolts}}'' (when everyone still believes the disguised villains to be heroes) Franchise/SpiderMan is framed for murder, and the T-Bolts are assigned to apprehend him. At first, MACH-1 (who was formerly Spidey's enemy the Beetle) relishes the thought, but after he and the rest of the team fight alongside Spidey against the true threat, he throws away the chance to make the charge stick and get away with it, giving Spidey the evidence that clears him. He tells Baron Zemo he did it so Spider-Man wouldn't be suspicious and risk their covers but that's not the real reason. Why? He realizes he's supposed to be the hero, and after teaming up with his old foe, [[BecomingTheMask it's starting to grow on him.]] As he tells Moonstone on the last page of the comic, "This hero stuff... I think it's starting to become ''contagious''..."
* Arguably the entire impetus of ''Comicbook/{{Empowered}}'' in later chapters, with the titular character proving her heroism in ways that will never garner acclaim or repair her tarnished public image because, quote, '''[[PunctuatedForEmphasis "THIS. IS. WHO. I. AM."]]''' Compounded by the most jerky of her {{Jerkass}} teammates actively blaming her for the incidents she resolved.
* A ''Franchise/SpiderMan'' comic written by Roger Stern gives us a villainous example: Stilt Man [[ButtMonkey is desperate to achieve something]] and plots killing Spider-Man to earn some street cred. However, during the fight Spider-Man saves him from a laser beam which accidentally knocks him out. Stilt Man realizes that they are alone and Spider-Man is defenseless. He just could murder him and claim he killed him in a fair fight, and nobody would ever know the truth... nobody but him, that is. So he does not go through with it.
* Parodied in ''Comicbook/RichieRich''. An associate of Richie's father claims that [[HobbesWasRight most people are dishonest]]. Mr. Rich says [[RousseauWasRight the opposite]]. The associate suggests a SecretTestOfCharacter: leaving a wallet stuffed with cash on the sidewalk and seeing whether the first person to notice the wallet keeps it or tries to find its owner. Along comes a man whose face lights up when he sees the wallet, but who then holds it up and asks if it belongs to anyone. "What do you think now?" says Mr. Rich, smiling. "I don't think this was a fair test," says his colleague, as the last panel zooms out to show the passerby is being filmed for television.
* The death of [[ComicBook/TheFlash Barry Allen]] in ''ComicBook/CrisisOnInfiniteEarths'' is a classic example. Not only is it a HeroicSacrifice, but it takes place without any witnesses or ability to communicate anyone else. (It's true he flashes through time as he dies, but he has no control over that, nor did he know he could do it in advance.)
* In a ''ComicBook/{{Daredevil}}'' story from early in Creator/FrankMiller's run, DD is the only hero available to stop the Hulk from hurting anyone during one of his rampages. Naturally, Daredevil is completely outmatched, and the first few minutes of him facing the Hulk leave him badly wounded and forced to retreat to catch his breath. During this, Matt contemplates fleeing as he realizes how impossible his odds are, and nobody else would know that he turned tail and ran -- except for himself. Refusing to flee like a coward, he goes back and faces the Hulk and gets him to stand down in spite of his injuries.
* In the Holiday Special of ''ComicBook/TransformersMoreThanMeetsTheEye,'' a Sparkling ends up on the Lost Light, smuggled in a crate of booze even as everybody prepares to hide for the night. Only Whirl, Swerve and Nautica know about the Sparkling, and though they've tried to send it safely back to Cybertron, Whirl's left holding the baby, the last one awake. The only safe option left seems to be to flush the Sparkling out of an airlock, and nobody ever needs to know. It's the only way to protect the crew, anyway. Even if they did find out, it's not like Whirl's got some kind of heroic reputation to lose. [[spoiler: Whirl tucks the Sparkling into his own cockpit and turns off his own spark to keep everybody safe - which nearly kills him]]. It's a big CharacterDevelopment moment for him.
* In ''ComicBook/{{Watchmen}}'', the titular team of heroes is faced with this after [[spoiler: [[WellIntentionedExtremist Ozymandias]] unleashes his master plan to [[IDidWhatIHadToDo save civilization from nuclear war]] by wiping out half the population of New York in a staged alien attack]], which will force the nations of the world (and especially the U.S. and Russia) to stop the Cold War and work together for a solution. The group is at a loss: the public has a right to the truth about all of the deaths and other illegal activity the plan required, but revealing that truth would also create so much animosity and anger that war would easily break out, [[spoiler:[[BatmanGambit just as Ozymandias planned in the first place]]]]. They agree to say nothing, but Rorschach won't do it, citing his philosophy--"Never compromise"--as a reason, [[spoiler: forcing Dr. Manhattan to kill him to preserve the planet]]. As with the majority of the book, [[GreyAndGreyMorality it's ultimately up to the reader to decide who, if anyone, was right]].
* In the ''ComicBook/RisingStars'' setting, the superpowered Specials were initially banned from all government jobs, including law enforcement. However, Matthew Bright had always wanted to be a police officer like his dad, simply to serve and protect people. So he built himself a fake identity, passed himself off as a normal person, and managed to join the police force. After establishing himself as a damn good cop, an arsonist bombs a building several of Matthew's fellow officers were in, leaving them trapped as the building burns and collapses around them. The only way to save them is to use his powers, which would out him as a Special, cost him his job, destroy this new life he's made for himself, and possibly land him in prison. The only way to keep the job and life he loves is by letting those men die, which no one could blame him for. After all, he's just a normal guy, right? Nothing he could do. As Matthew's inner thoughts at the time show, he's most definitely not a normal guy, [[TheCape and it has nothing to do with his powers]].
-->'''Matthew:''' "I signed on to save lives. If I meant that, then I had to do what was necessary. Or it was all a lie. Whoever did this was smart, all right. Lead me on a wild goose-chase. And now my men are trapped inside the building I didn't search. I can't let them die. I refuse. Damn the exposure, '''I REFUSE'''.
* ''ComicBook/DarkNightsMetal'' reveals that the seven Dark Knights of the Dark Multiverse are aspects and fears of Batman twisted to a murderous extreme:
** The Red Death, a Batman bonded with the Speed Force, is his dedication to justice and paternal feelings towards the Robins.
** The Murder Machine, a Batman lost in Apokalyptic technology and ran by an Alfred AI, is his love and dependence towards his beloved butler
** The Dawnbreaker, a Batman armed with a twisted and broken Green Lantern ring, is his willpower and the despair of his dead parents.
** The Drowned, a gender-bent Batman turned Atlantian, is his love for Catwoman and his distrust towards others, metahumans in particular.
** The Merciless, a Batman who wears the armor of Ares, is his love for Wonder Woman and the fear of breaking his no-killing rule.
** The Devastator, a Batman transformed into a Doomsday-like beast, is his friendship towards Superman and the Kents, the compassion and hope the man brings and the fear of what may happen if Superman ''ever'' crossed the line.
** The Batman Who Laughs, a Batman transformed into the Joker, is the embodiment of chaos that the Joker represents and Batman's desire to kill the clown once and for all.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* The ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' fanfic ''FanFic/TheBestNightEver'' has Prince Blueblood, stuck in a GroundhogDayLoop on the day of the Grand Galloping Gala, work very hard at shedding his PrinceCharmless qualities and go full-out to make the Gala as good as it can be in order to escape. Due to the huge amounts of loops (numbering in the hundreds if not thousands) as well as the desperate attempts of becoming free (he even attempted a dark spell to create an unquenchable fire at the cost of his soul) before he attempts to improve, he is clearly reaching a limit. While his latest attempt seemingly goes off right, it fails [[spoiler:because he's trying ''too'' hard, and all of it comes across as artificial]]. As he goes out into the palace sculpture garden, stands at the foot of [[RealityWarper Discord's]] statue, and ''seriously considers setting him free'' in exchange for finally stopping his nightmare. After a long moment of contemplation, Blueblood finally decides he can't do it, and walks away to try one more time. [[spoiler: He ''finally'' ends up succeeding and completing his transformation from PrinceCharmless to TheWisePrince.]]
* In the ''FanFic/PonyPOVSeries'', it's shown in the [[{{Prequel}} Origins]] arc that when [[BigBad Discord]] was reincarnated on Earth following the Alicorn/Draconnequi War, Galaxia attempted to smother him in his crib... and couldn't bring herself to do it, even knowing what he would become if he regained his memories. [[ForegoneConclusion She lived to regret this]].
* In ''Fanfic/BackgroundPony'' Lyra ambushes Straight Edge, the alcoholic, abusive father of Snips, and breaks his legs, knowing that she can get away with anything thanks to her curse, which edits her out of the memory of anyone she interacts with after a short period of time. However, she stops short of breaking his horn because of this trope, and even transports him to the hospital once he's forgotten about the attack.
** [[spoiler: Lyra's decision in the penultimate chapter also qualifies. The only way she can remove her curse is to play the last elegy of the Nocturne of the Firmaments, and, in the process, rewind time to the moment she was cursed and erase all the good she had achieved, up to and including the crucial role she played in defeating Discord. No one, herself included, would ever know if she took this option, but Lyra decides against it and returns to Ponyville to live out her life as an {{Unperson}} with a fractured memory.]]
* In the Manga/LoveHina cross-over fanfic ''Fanfic/ContractLabor'' the reason why Keitaro risked his life by going to [[BlackLagoon Roanapur]] in what almost everyone considers a suicide mission to rescue Sarah [=McDougal=], a young girl who does not like or respect him, who may be already be dead or beyond recovery. As Keitaro said before he left, ''"I knew what I was doing when I made that promise. Even if you release me from it, I would know that I did not do my best to get Sarah back. I would have to live with myself in the dark with that knowledge. I won't. I can't."''
* In PeggySue fanfic ''Fanfic/TheSecondTry'', nobody knew that Shinji and Asuka were time-travelers. They could have let everything happen again, not try to change anything, or quit piloting to spare themselves their worst ordeals, and nobody would ever know that they had left the world dying. Still they chose fighting and trying to save the world.
* Many of the one-shot stories in the ''Webcomic/AxisPowersHetalia'' fic ''{{FanFic/Tizenot}}'' cover moments in Austria and Hungary's lives that only they alone know.
* In ''Fanfic/SuzumiyaHaruhiNoIndex'', Kyon could have left Mugino, who had been trying to kill him, to be killed by the Celestial while they were both in Closed Space, but he instead saves her. It pays off because she falls for him.
* In ''FanFic/DirtySympathy'', [[spoiler: Edgeworth]] points out that Klavier and Apollo could have left Vera Misham to hang so they wouldn't have to deal with [[TheDreaded Kristoph]] [[AmoralAttorney Gavin]] but instead save the girl.
* In ''FanFic/MegaManRecut'', Wily has a moment like this in "Robosaur Park" and, to the surprise of many, passes.
* ''FanFic/WingsToFly'' uses the fact a character considers they failed such a test; Lucreiza Noin had a chance to prevent the ''Libra'' [[ColonyDrop drop attempt]] by shooting Zechs Merquise, who she loves, in the back at one point. She never even thought to raise a weapon. Noin considers this the greatest shame of her life, though no one knows she had the chance. Noin eventually confesses to her wingman in the apparent hope she'll be judged harshly.
* In ''Fanfic/HopeForTheHeartless'', after the injured [[VillainProtagonist Horned King]] passes out after [[VillainousRescue saving]] Avalina (his prisoner) from the [[AxCrazy Mad]] [[SavageWolves Pack]], she has the perfect chance to leave him to die and be free of him. But she has a mental conflict between her head and heart about what is right. She gives in to her heart and takes the lich back to his castle, deciding that [[IfYouKillHimYouWillBeJustLikeHim she'd be a murderer as much as the Horned King]] if she [[MurderByInaction willingly left him to die]].
* ''FanFic/SonOfTheDesert'' Despite hating Roy for killing many of his family during the Ishvalan War and having fantasized about killing him, when Ed and Roy are faced with the murderous Scar he protects him. [[ApeShallNotKillApe Edward was spared by Scar because he didn't want to kill a fellow Ishvalan.]] [[MurderByInaction Edward could have let Scar kill Roy and not be blamed for being unable to stop him,]] but he saves Roy and gets Scar to back off with some well placed words.
* ''Fanfic/ChildrenOfAnElderGod'':
** In chapter 23, [[Franchise/CthulhuMythos Nyarlathotep]] tried to talk all Children into joining him while they slept. All refused him.
--->"Look, my offer stands, up until the bitter end, okay? So when you're face down in the dirt and your friends are all dying around you, keep me in mind. Just say the word and you'll be saved, your friends will be saved, your sister and Kensuke will be saved, and everything will be alright."\\
"You're still not taking my soul."
** The Children and Misato could have [[spoiler:lived forever in the FalseUtopia created by Gendo and Yui, even though that world was being steadily corrupted by the power used to create it, and no one would ever know it. However they chose to fight and restore the real world.]]
* In the first scene of ''Fanfic/NeonGenesisEvangelionGenocide'', starts out similarly to ''End of Evangelion'' with Shinji visiting a comatose Asuka in NERV's infirmary. He accidentally gets Asuka's gown unbuttoned, and he realizes he can do to her whatever he wanted and no one would ever find out. However, signalling the beginning of the divergent storyline, he catches himself and instead quickly covers her up before leaving the room, feeling profusely disgusted with himself.
* ''Fanfic/CorrinReacts'': Flora encounters this situation in the past [[spoiler:when Corrin attempts to rescue her from a canyon she'd fallen into and nearly dies from exposure to the raging blizzard, despite loathing Corrin and chewing him out for his (as it turns out, unintentional) participation in her being held hostage at the Northern Fortress. Instead of leaving him to die, Flora goes to save his life and later becomes FireForgedFriends with him.]] It's implied she still feels massively guilty about this incident.
* ''FanFic/{{Fade}}'' Light quickly figures out that [[spoiler: Near was his killer in the story]], and deduces that he might also know that both he and L are Kira. In spite of all that, he refuses to kill [[spoiler: Near]] or tell L, and begs L not to either when [[spoiler: Near]] confronts them via broadcast, as all he is doing is opposing them — he has yet to commit any actual crimes. This shows that this Light still has morals, integrity, and above all else, humanity. It's no wonder why Beyond is so intent on saving him.
* In ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12259734/15/A-Father-s-Courage A Father's Courage]]'' Harry's baby daughter is being cared for by Madame Pomfrey while he's sick with dragon pox at Saint Mungo's. Draco receives a message telling him to kidnap the child and send her to Voldemort. He takes her from the hospital wing unnoticed, places her in the Vanishing Cabinet and is about to cast the spell to transport her when he has a fit of conscience and decides to return her to the hospital wing.
* In a sidestory of ''Fanfic/PokemonResetBloodlines'', Butterfree has an argument with Ash and flies off to try and find his mate, the Pink Butterfree. [[spoiler: He does find her, but she doesn't recognize him, and has found herself another mate. He actually has the chance [[MurderTheHypotenuse to kill his rival and make it look like a Fearow did it]], but ultimately can't bring himself to do it, [[IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy and decides to let her be happy with him]].]]

[[folder: Films -- Animated]]
* Anastasia in the ''{{Disney/Cinderella}}'' sequels is gentle, kind, and free-spirited when not around Cinderella or her mother and sister. Cinderella helps bring this personality out into the open.
** This reaches its apex in ''Disney/CinderellaIIIATwistInTime''. When Anastasia (who's been rewritten as [[NotEvilJustMisunderstood misguided]] young woman who wants love more than anything) gets her hands on the Fairy Godmother's wand, she gives it to Lady Tremaine, who realizes its RealityWarper potential and rewrites history so that Anastasia, and not Cinderella, fits the glass slipper on the day of the Prince's test. At first, Anastasia is thrilled--she finally has her Prince Charming--but as the movie progresses, she starts feeling guilty. Lady Tremaine tries to avert this sudden conscience by brainwashing the Prince, turning Anastasia into an exact copy of Cinderella, and making sure the real Cinderella is put in a DeathTrap during the royal wedding. But when it comes time for the vows, Anastasia--who, for all intents and purposes to the entire world, ''is'' Cinderella at this point--can't bring herself to say "I do." She explains that she wants to be loved for herself, even if that means losing everything she's ever wanted.
* [[{{Disney/Tarzan}} Disney's Tarzan]] has [[BigBad Clayton]] give Tarzan the choice of shooting him with his own double-barreled shotgun with no one else around: "Go ahead, shoot me, [[IronicEcho be a man]]". Tarzan's reply? ''Mimicking'' the sound of the gun being shot to put some fear into Clayton before smashing said shotgun in front of him. "Not a man like ''you''."
* Defied to some extent in ''Disney/TheHunchbackOfNotreDame''; the Archdeacon is trying to convince [[BigBad Judge Frollo]] that he should spare Quasimodo after killing the child's mother. Frollo is initially dismissive, but changes his tune after the Deacon says that while no mortal would know, killing a child before the steps of Notre Dame would certainly draw God's Wrath (in essence, there is never a moment where he or anyone else is truly alone in the dark).
** Played straight twice later on with Quasimodo deciding to help Esmeralda. The first time involves Frollo telling Quasimodo that he's planning on attacking the Court of Miracles and the second is during the climax, the latter being a more classic example of the trope as Quasimodo has just told the gargoyles to leave him alone.
--> '''Quasimodo''': Me? What am I supposed to do? Go out there and rescue the girl from the jaws of death and the whole town cheers like I'm some kind of a hero?! She already has her knight in shining armor and it's not me! (''sighs'') Frollo was right. Frollo was right about everything. And I'm tired of trying to be something that I'm not.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheIronGiant'': When Hogarth first encounters the Giant, he witnesses it accidentally tangling itself up in and getting electrocuted by power lines out in a secluded power station after dark. Terrified out of his mind, he has a chance to run home through the woods in the dark with no one the wiser, not even the Giant. However, as he hears is ''screaming'' in pain he realizes that he can't leave it to suffer, and so risks his own personal safety to shut off the power to save its life, despite still thinking its dangerous and having no expectation that it'll notice or feel grateful later. (Thankfully for Hogarth, [[GentleGiant it]] [[BecauseYouWereNiceToMe does]].)
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Moana}}'' gives us something sweet at the start. Baby Moana is down at the beach and sees a pretty seashell and really wants it, but she sees a little baby turtle scared of the birds trying to eat it as it's trying to get to the water. No one would blame her if she were to just get the shell at that age, but Moana grabs a leaf and protects it from the birds, losing the shell in the process. This is what makes the ocean choose her.
* ''Disney/TheRescuers'' has Bernard singing the RAS anthem by himself just outside the meeting hall. When Bianca sees him doing that, that is enough proof for her of how deeply he values the organization's ideals. Bernard was merely the janitor at the time, and the other representatives/agents who were in the meeting hall were being far less reverent of the anthem.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Sing}}'', Johnny, desperate for the cash to pay his father's bail from prison, secretly breaks into Buster's office to steal the prize money. But he changes his mind when he sees Buster's notes on his profile - namely, the "Natural born singer" part.
* In ''WesternAnimation/ThePeanutsMovie'' Charlie Brown winds up getting the perfect score on a test. Because of this, all the kids in school and town, barring Lucy, view him as a genius, which earns him a large amount of popularity. [[spoiler:During an award ceremony for passing the test, he discovers that he and Peppermint Patty accidentally signed their names on each other's test sheets when they were rushing to turn the papers in - she's the one who really got the perfect score. He's the only one who knows the truth, and if he wanted to could continue to keep it a secret, keeping his newfound popularity in the process. Instead he confesses the screw-up to everyone and tells them that Peppermint Patty was the one who aced the test. This turns out to be one of the main factors to winning the Little Red-Haired Girl's heart.]]
* In ''Disney/BambiII'', Bambi has been sent to live with another doe after his mother's death, despite vigorously wanting to stay with his father. Later, the doe gets caught in a hunting snare with vicious dogs making a beeline for her. Despite the doe actually begging Bambi to run and save himself, he chooses to distract the dogs onto him and save her life.

[[folder: Films -- Live-Action ]]
* In ''Film/TheAdventuresOfBuckarooBanzaiAcrossThe8thDimension'', Lord John Whorfin says, "History is made at night. Character is what you are in the dark!"
* In ''Film/AnimalHouse'', Pinto is the only character to resist temptation of any kind -- and what he resists is [[SexAsRiteOfPassage particularly tempting.]] Further, he resists without knowing at the time that his intended is [[ReallySeventeenYearsOld not exactly in his own age demographic]]. His resistance only lasts so long....
* Spoofed in ''Film/AvengersAgeOfUltron'' during the climatic battle of the movie, when Hawkeye gets annoyed by yet another one of Pietro's taunts. He jokes that he could shoot Pietro in the back right now and no one would ever know, then lowers his bow. Though, not before sarcastically grumbling about it before jogging to rally point.
--> '''Clint:''' "Nobody would know...nobody. 'Yeah last I saw him an Ultron was sitting on him. Yeah he'll be missed, that quick little bastard. I miss him already.'"
* Bernard from ''OldSchool''. Even though he was the one with the idea to start a fraternity and the one who talks and raves about the fun they'll have, he's still the only founding member who's married, and he successfully resists temptation during a frat party by refusing to sleep with a college girl who was more than willing.
* In ''Film/BatmanBegins'', during the movie's dramatic action climax [[spoiler:aboard the train, shortly before it's about to crash and explode, Batman manages to knock his former mentor Ra's al Ghul down to the ground during their fight]]. The trope begins when [[spoiler:Batman has the chance to escape and survive the crash]]. Nobody will know what happens here, and he chooses to [[spoiler:take his revenge by simply allowing the baddie to stay and die, while Batman escapes]]. In Batman's words: "[[spoiler:I won't kill you, but I don't have to save you.]]".
* This trope is discussed in ''Film/CitySlickers''. To paraphrase the conversation: "Okay, you're married, but suppose a gorgeous woman came from a spaceship and wanted to have sex with you and leave without anyone knowing. Would you do it?" "No." "Why not?" "Because that happened to my cousin, and the women at the hairdresser's shop found out about it because they know everything!"
** It's brought up again, and when pressed, Billy Crystal's character admits that he wouldn't do it, even if there was never a chance his wife would know about it. When asked why, he says "Because ''I'd'' know about it!"
* In ''Film/{{Clerks}}'', Dante leaves a relatively unsupervised pile of money on the counter in the store for change and payment of goods, with a sign next to it that encourages the customers to "...leave money on the counter. Take change when applicable. Be honest." Dante is actually on the floor behind the counter with his girlfriend, inattentive of his job. She asks how he knows that they taking the right amount of change or are even paying for what they are taking and he responds with something like "Theoretically, people see money on the counter and no one around, they think they're being watched."
* ''Film/TheDefiantOnes'' follows ChainedHeat escaped convicts Joker and Noah to the house of a sexy but lonely abandoned housewife (who is [[NoNameGiven never named]]). After the housewife and Joker go mattress dancing, she offers to drive Joker away in her car, while directing Noah to a shortcut through the swamp to a place where he can catch a train. Once Noah leaves, the housewife casually admits to Joker that the route through the swamp is a death trap, which she sent him to deliberately so he'll be killed before he gets a chance to squeal. Joker has the chance to run away to freedom with a hot, horny woman who has a roll of cash as well. He abandons her and instead goes to save Noah.
* In ''Film/{{Hannibal}}'', Lecter is at the {{Big Bad}}'s mercy, about to be fed to a pit of wild boar, when Lecter raises an interesting question to his personal physician:
-->'''Hannibal''': Hey Cordell! Why don't you push him in? You can always say it was me.
** [[spoiler:The physician does]]. This must be one of the only times in the history of fiction that [[spoiler:killing somebody who is helpless in your care and then setting free a killer like ''Hannibal Lecter'']] is actually the heroic choice.
* In ''Film/HappyDeathDay'', protagonist Tree is stuck in a GroundhogDayLoop where every day ends with her getting killed by an unknown masked figure... and, even worse, she keeps coming back with [[ContinuingIsPainful residual damage from what killed her previously]], suggesting that she may eventually 'run out' of opportunities to keep re-doing everything. At one point in the film, she has a chance to kill the man she has identified as her apparent killer, but since he has killed Carter- a boy Tree only met the day before the loop began- when Carter tried to save her life, Tree instead [[HeroicSuicide kills herself to bring Carter back]], despite not knowing if this will be the loop where she finally takes too much damage.
** Could be argued that Carter had a similar opportunity; he tried to save Tree's life and got killed for it, with Tree commenting in the next loop that she can't believe he did that for her.
* ''Film/TheHobbitAnUnexpectedJourney''
** Bilbo has the chance to kill Gollum and no-one would know about it. [[ForWantOfANail He doesn't.]]
** Another one happens to Bilbo when he overhears the dwarves talking about [[spoiler:Bilbo deserting them after escape from the goblins.]] Since [[spoiler:he is wearing the Ring and thus invisible]], he could have let them believe he was gone for good and could have gone home back to the Shire. Instead, he [[spoiler:reveals himself]] and continues the journey with them.
* Villainous version: Sebastian Caine in ''Film/HollowMan'' has quite a bit of unspoken InnerMonologue about this trope and concludes that "It's amazing what you can do... when you don't have to look at yourself in the mirror any more." He finally crosses the line when he sees his lax-about-closing-her-shades-while-changing neighbor while he's invisible. He pulls off one of his latex gloves and asks himself "who'll know?" It's shown that he messed with her and got at least a good look at her naked, and a deleted scene shows he raped her.
* In the 1965 comedy ''How to Murder Your Wife'', Jack Lemmon is on trial for murdering his wife. When the trial appears to be headed for a conviction, he takes up his own defense and pleads justifiable homicide, appealing to the all-male jury's frustrations regarding their own wives. He offers a witness (and thus the jury) the idea that if they could press [[BigRedButton a magic button]] and their wives would disappear and no one would know, would they do it?
* In ''Film/LordOfWar'', Jack Valentine keeps Yuri Orlov from being killed after being almost busted for gun running to Africa by citing this trope to his partner (who was suggesting they just kill Orlov).
-->"Look at where we are! Who will know?"
-->"We will."
** To elaborate, it's a rarer variant of the trope, where the one proposing to go in the dark isn't a BigBad, but actually a BitCharacter serving as a {{Foil}} to Valentine's integrity, and he doesn't propose it to TheHero. [[note]]Yuri is TheHero.[[/note]]
* ''Film/{{Memento}}''. Because the protagonist can't remember anything for more than a few minutes lots of people are rude to him or openly take advantage knowing he won't remember. [[spoiler: Including himself.]]
* In ''Film/PitchBlack'', Riddick tells Johns to kill him in cold blood ("That's what I'd do to you."). An interesting case because the villain is effectively trying to commit suicide-by-hero. Subverted because [[spoiler:Johns only ignores him because Riddick's bounty is worth double if he's alive, and it's strongly implied Riddick knew how he'd react.]]
** Later in that film, Riddick [[spoiler:does the same thing with Fry. "Nobody will blame you. Save yourself, Carolyn."]]
* ''Film/ThePurge'': When you have an event in which you can literally get away with ''anything'' for 12 hours, it really tests your character.
* Tom Hanks' character plays this off ingeniously in ''RoadToPerdition'', covering his getaway from a heist by convincing the bank manager to take some of the loot from the bank robbery for himself. "You can always tell Chicago (Al Capone) that I took it."
* In ''[[Film/RushHour Rush Hour 2]]'', Jackie Chan's character Lee has the BigBad against the wall all alone and at gunpoint, and given what the BigBad has done and the effect it had on Lee's life, none would blame him for shooting the guy where he stood. Chris Tucker's character James Carter enters this scene as the angel to the Big Bad's devil, telling Lee to not go too far. He then subverts his role after the Big Bad insults the memory of Lee's father, and tells Lee to shoot the guy. Lee still doesn't do it.
* In ''Film/SavingPrivateRyan'', Miller's squad comes across a German machine gun nest set up to ambush any approaching American soldiers. His squadmates point out that they can easily bypass the Germans, but Miller decides to take it out to prevent any more Americans from being ambushed. They also capture a German soldier and could easily execute him on the spot, but decide to take mercy and let him go. Finally, half the plot hinges on Miller and his squad's willingness to pursue what by all rights is a suicide mission. They could have easily just scrubbed the mission and said they couldn't find Ryan, but they ultimately decide to see it through to the end.
* ''Franchise/StarWars'':
** In ''Film/ReturnOfTheJedi'', Palpatine urges Luke Skywalker to kill Darth Vader, knowing that by doing so Skywalker will fall to TheDarkSide. Luke refuses, declaring himself to be a Jedi Knight, and [[ItWasHisSled you all know what happens next.]]
** Echoed in ''Film/RevengeOfTheSith'' when Palpatine urges Anakin Skywalker to murder a defenseless Count Dooku. [[ShootTheDog Anakin actually goes through with it]], but immediately regrets it.
* One of the many ideas of ''Film/{{Shame}}'' concerns Brandon expressing his carnal desires without anyone in his close circle finding out. It acts as a FreudianExcuse however because of his and Sissy's childhood.
* {{Invoked}} by Past Charles in ''Film/XMenDaysOfFuturePast''. During the climax, Hank urges him to [[spoiler:put Mystique out of commission so she won't kick-start the BadFuture. However, Xavier refuses to do this because Mystique has spent her life being influenced by others, so instead, he tells her that he will do nothing to stop her, but hopes that she will see there is a better way. She agrees and stands down.]]
-->'''Charles''': I have been trying to control you ever since the day we met, and look where that's got us. Everything that happens now, is in ''your'' hands. I have ''faith'' in you, Raven...
* ''Film/TheFront'': Under pressure to "name names" before [[RedScare HUAC]], Howard is told he can get off easily by naming Hecky, [[spoiler:who is dead]]. No one would care, and no one thinks Howard is a sympathizer. Rather than take the easy way out, Howard tells the committee off to honor his friends, leading to his imprisonment.
* ''Film/HaloNightfall'': It becomes increasingly clear that only two people are going to get off the ring. Locke and Randall assert "Lifeboat Rules," where until that decision has to be made the entire team works as though everyone will make it. This does not turn out well, as the backstabbing starts soon and almost everyone ''but'' Locke and Randall crack under the pressure.
* In ''Film/TheMartian'', at one of ''several'' stages where everything goes to hell, the camera cuts to the chief scientists of the Chinese space program, where they discuss how their classified boosters could help, but if they didn't, the world would never know. After a few more lines, the film cuts straight to the director of NASA taking their call, and the boosters do indeed play an important role in the eventual plan.
* During the latter portion of ''Film/MadMaxFuryRoad'', Max has the complete choice up to him, without it being a last resort or survival necessity like it was in the previous films. Once the Vuvalini, Furiosa and The Wives give him a motorcycle as a reward for helping them, he can either let them go to what is likely a barren wasteland, and they would never hate him for it. Or he could go after them and help them achieve a more hopeful future, without expecting any more reward for it. He chooses the latter.
* The whole point of ''{{Film/Logan}}''. The title character wants nothing more to do with being the superhero {{Wolverine}} and wants to live a normal life. Then, he meets a girl who went through the same experiment performed on him and looks after her with the promise of a large sum of cash for doing so. Once he is paid, no one would blame him for just leaving; [[spoiler:however, after a TheReasonYouSuckSpeech from the girl, who is for all intents and purposes his daughter, he decides to risk his life to keep her and her "siblings" from being recaptured and used as deadly assassins, proving that he still is a hero.]]
* Played for drama in ''Film/KingsmanTheGoldenCircle'' when TheHero Eggsy is instructed to seduce a female minion of the BigBad so he can put a tracker on her, while he is very devoted to his girlfriend Tilde. Instead of doing the deed and never let her know about it, he decides to call her to get her approval first. Naturally, she takes this badly and breaks up with him. [[spoiler:This ends up leading to her taking drugs to cope with their break-up, which were poisoned by the BigBad and nearly leads to Tilde dying]].

%%* The whole point of ''Literature/LordOfTheFlies''.
%%* A major theme in ''Literature/TheThinRedLine''.
* In Creator/DanAbnett's Literature/GauntsGhosts novel ''Sabbat Martyr'', one squad of Ghosts returns too late and sees the gates closing on them. Their leader gives [[LastStand the order to fight]].
-->''Nineteenth [Platoon] lasted seventeen minutes from the time the gates closed. They accounted for one-hundred and eighty nine enemy casualties. No one witnessed their heroism.''
* In ''Literature/BlackLegion'' by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, when Khayon is in psyker-coma, Telemachon spends long hours standing in his room with a sword and considering killing the sorcerer while he's defenseless. In the end, he doesn't, although Khayon believes it's more due to the fact that if anything happened to him, Gyre and Nefertari would rip Telemachon to shreds, regardless of evidence.
* In Andy Hoare's ''Literature/{{Commissar}}'', an appropriately named character, Solomon, the Imperial Guardsman turned convict turned Indentured Imperial Guardsman, is traversing a tunnel that is periodically flooding. He considers going back to tell the titular Commissar, Flint, that the path is not traversable. However, he determines that his responsibility to his home planet, Jopall, is too great and further reasons that only the Emperor is watching him now and that he shouldn't let him down as a Jopallis.
* In Creator/PiersAnthony's ''Literature/OnAPaleHorse'', Luna is illegally destined by {{Satan}} to premature death on a certain day, at a time when her soul is weighted with so much evil that she's doomed to Hell upon her death. Nonetheless, knowing her fate, she goes to put her death to the best use she can find, making a HeroicSacrifice to trade places with a virgin scheduled to be sacrificed to an endangered dragon, then allowing herself to die rather than damage the dragon's egg to save herself. [[spoiler:The thing is, all this good pushes her soul into neutral, which means that [[TheGrimReaper Death]] is called to judge her soul personally, which he refuses to do, for various reasons up to and including having fallen in love with her. All of which is [[BatmanGambit exactly as Fate planned.]]]]
* In ''Literature/ThePlayerOfGames'' by [[Creator/IainBanks Iain M. Banks]], the protagonist master game-player is pressed into a multi-year epic journey across the galaxy that is instrumental in the downfall of an empire, ultimately because he accepted a drone's help to cheat in a meaningless exhibition match. ''And it was not even in order to win, but just to convert a certain victory into a record-breaking one.''
** It is later revealed that the protagonist [[XanatosGambit was set up from the getgo]]. The drone who offered him the temptation to cheat was an agent of Special Circumstances -- the same people who the protagonist had refused an earlier invitation to come work for. So they sent someone to help him cheat, then record him cheating, and then blackmail him...not into coming to work for Special Circumstances, but into doing the drone a favor that he could only accomplish by first going back and accepting SC's recruitment offer, which was "conveniently" still open. Gurgeh, until the end of his life, never figures out that the two events were related.
* In [[Creator/LoisMcMasterBujold Lois McMaster Bujold's]] ''Literature/VorkosiganSaga'':
** In ''Literature/{{Memory}}'', Miles Vorkosigan is asked why he did not accept a bribe, and part of the question is that it was almost certain that no one would have realized it. Miles [[ThinkNothingOfIt modestly disclaims it]] on the grounds three would have known: him, the man who offered it, and the man he would have sacrificed by taking it. Only when it is pointed out that he would have outlived them does he admit that accepting the offer would have changed him irrevocably.
--->'''Miles:''' The one thing you can't trade for your heart's desire is your heart.
** Later, in ''Literature/ACivilCampaign'', Miles's father tells him the difference between reputation and honour: "Reputation is what other people know about you. Honour is what you know about yourself."
* This is the climax of Creator/CSLewis's ''Literature/TheMagiciansNephew'', the first book of the Narnia series. Digory is tasked with recovering a magical apple for Aslan for unknown purposes, and told not to eat any of it before coming back. When he and Polly reach the garden where it grows, he easily pockets one, but smells it first and is overcome with a massive hunger and thirst. He's tempted to take a little bite, but stops when he notices a large bird watching, which reminds him of his promise (the narrator, meanwhile, comments that even if the bird ''hadn't'' been there, Digory probably wouldn't have done it). But things take a turn for the worse when [[BigBad Jadis]] appears, having stolen and eaten an apple for herself; Digory runs for Polly, who's waiting outside, but the witch still reaches him and starts [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything describing the fruit's powerful magic and ability to make people into gods, and how Digory doesn't really owe Aslan anything, does he?]] Digory turns her down, but Jadis then brings up Digory's mother, who's dying of a rare, incurable disease--he could teleport back home using the magic ring that brought him to Narnia and give ''her'' the apple, curing her. Digory is sorely tempted as Jadis paints a picture of his mother being returned to health, free of any consequence...until [[EvilCannotComprehendGood Jadis points out that he could ensure no one would know by leaving Polly behind]]. This shocks Digory right out of any temptation to do as Jadis says, as it would never even have occurred to him to abandon Polly.
** There's also the fact that Polly had a magic ring of her own and could get home perfectly well without Digory. The Witch doesn't know that, but Digory does and it's that slip-up which makes him realize how "false and hollow" everything Jadis said was. He [[ShutUpHannibal brilliantly shuts her down]] by asking why in creation she suddenly cares so much about his mother, who she's never even met. Aslan thus rewards Digory with both the knowledge that his choice has kept Narnia peaceful and idyllic, and [[SweetAndSourGrapes a magic apple of his own that will cure his mother after all.]]
* In Creator/GrahamMcNeill's ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' Literature/{{Ultramarines}} novel ''Dead Sky Black Sun'', Pasanius and Uriel are in [[{{Mordor}} the Eye of Terror]], and Pasanius suggests that ''not'' stealing a treasure from a daemon lord might be better. Uriel cites a philosopher who asked whether, if a stalagmite fell with no one to hear, it would make a sound, and says he understands it now: they will do the honorable thing, knowing that no one is likely to ever know.
* This is the whole point, even the unspoken {{Aesop}}, of ''Literature/LesMiserables''. Valjean could easily let another man rot in jail in his place, freeing him from worry about Javert forever and no one would ever know. But he'll know, and God will know, so he stops the execution and reveals himself, forcing him to disrupt his now peaceful and productive life to go back on the run from the law.
** Played much more darkly in Victor Hugo's other famous novel, ''Notre Dame de Paris''. Esmeralda is about to be hanged for the murder of Phoebus. Phoebus, quite alive, is standing in the crowd and nobody recognizes him. Revealing that he's still alive would put him in no real legal trouble at all. He lets them hang her.
* [[Creator/JRRTolkien J.R.R. Tolkien's]] ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings''
** In ''The Fellowship of the Ring'', Frodo is tempted to run away and leave Sam, Pippin, and Merry to die at the hands of the barrowwights because he could get away alive. He does not reflect on how no one else would know; then, he doesn't leave, either.
** Sam could have left Frodo to die at the end of ''The Two Towers'' and kept the Ring for himself. Instead he is the only mortal to ever give up the Ring willingly and without outside coercion.
** Also happened with Bilbo and Gollum in ''Literature/TheHobbit'', when Bilbo (invisible from the Ring) needs to get past Gollum, who had already made it clear that he wanted to eat him. Bilbo reflects that he could easily kill the defenceless and unprepared Gollum with his sword and no-one would ever know, but pity stays his hand -- which is ultimately responsible for the resolution of ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings''.
** Also in ''The Hobbit'', after Bilbo escapes from Gollum, he thinks for a minute that the dwarves are still prisoners of the goblins. He briefly considers going on without them, but then changes his mind, and decides to go back to the "horrible tunnels" to look for them. Fortunately, he finds out the next minute he doesn't have to, because he overhears Balin on lookout.
* In a tale of ''Literature/FafhrdAndTheGrayMouser'', the [[AntiHero Anti-heroic]] duo briefly go into semi-retirement. Fafhrd the Barbarian becomes the acolyte of the Church of Issek of the Jug, a faith that had one priest, no other followers, and was maybe two days away from failing entirely. Fafhrd's reason? He saw the priest pat a deaf-blind-and-dumb child on the head while (as far as the priest knew) ''no one was looking''. The priest's action is described as possibly being unique in that world's history.
* ''The Firm'' by John Grisham does this in a more conventional way, with the main character tempted to adultery. Unusually, he gives in, but doing so turns out to be a ''very'' bad idea.
* Creator/TerryPratchett uses this several times in ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'':
** In ''Discworld/SmallGods'', Brutha contemplates leading Vorbis into a trap in the labyrinth. He thinks: "Who would ever know? I would" and doesn't do it. Later, when Brutha [[spoiler: carries a comatose Vorbis]] through the desert, he's In The Dark the entire time. The Great God Om keeps reminding him of this, without success. And for a ''third'' time, the book ends with [[spoiler: Brutha dying of old age at over a hundred - only to find Vorbis' spirit has never moved on. Despite Death himself pointing out with a monster Vorbis was, and the total lack of witnesses, Brutha leads Vorbis "across the desert" once more.]]
** Commander Sam Vimes of the Watch, as a {{deconstruction}} of the CowboyCop, has a couple of examples of this. At the end of ''Discworld/NightWatch'' he faced a SerialKiller in a deserted graveyard and no one save Vimes himself would have known (or cared) if he had simply killed Carcer instead of trying to arrest him properly. This is a good part of the plot in ''Discworld/{{Thud}}'' where we see that Vimes has an "[[TheConscience internal watchman]]" that stops him from abusing his power, in response to the question ''[[WhoWatchesTheWatchmen Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?]]'' This comes up again in ''Discworld/{{Snuff}}'': Willikins believes that Vimes would uphold the law even against his own desire for extrajudicial justice, but [[spoiler: unlike Vimes, Willikins himself is perfectly willing to murder Stratford rather than try to bring him to formal justice for his crimes.]] Meanwhile, Vimes believes that if he was ever ''truly'' "in the dark" he would likely cross the line while pursuing psychopaths like Stratford. Therefore, he goes to great lengths to ensure that he is ''always'' being watched, even if the watcher is only in his head.
** Esmerelda Weatherwax. She's not "gone to the bad" only because she has Esmerelda Weatherwax watching over her shoulder the whole time.
** And, in another sense, Carrot. He's had a couple moments like this, most notably at the end of ''Discworld/MenAtArms'' AND HE ALWAYS MAKES THE RIGHT CHOICE. Because he truly IS a hero.
* In [[Creator/TomHolt Tom Holt's]] ''Ye Gods!'', when Jason meets the old woman, she insists on their going through the whole spiel. When he says no one would know if they didn't, she says, "I will."
* Taran faces a moment of this in the fourth book of ''[[Literature/ChroniclesOfPrydain The Chronicles of Prydain]]'' when Craddoc, who he believes to be his father, falls down a ledge. When Taran believes that Craddoc is dead, he realizes that he no longer has any sort of familial obligation to remain as a shepherd on Craddoc's rundown farm and can instead pursue the woman he loves. However, he quickly realizes that Craddoc is still alive. Even then, though, he is so far away that Taran knows he could leave him and no one would think any worse of him. When he realizes what he is thinking of doing, he cries out, "What man am I!" and tries to save him.
* In ''The Door into Sunset'', the last volume of [[Creator/DianeDuane Diane Duane's]] ''Literature/TheTaleOfTheFive'' series, the main character Freelorn is confronted with [[spoiler: Cillmod, his half-brother and the man who usurped his throne (and this is a FisherKing scenario, so that's doubly bad). They are in an absolutely dark, isolated place. Cillmod has just attacked him. 'Lorn could kill him, and no one would ever, ever know. If they did, who's going to argue with the king about it afterward? In a remarkably astute move, Freelorn spares Cillmod's life and puts him in a position of high authority in his kingdom (as the latter wasn't actually evil at all, just manipulated. Cillmod legitimately wanted to try and rule as a good king, but that whole aforementioned FisherKing thing was pretty set in stone, and he didn't have a strong enough bloodline).]]
* In the first book of Creator/HarryTurtledove's AlternateHistory ''Colonization'' series, a sequel to the earlier ''Literature/{{Worldwar}}'' series, Vyacheslav Molotov, General Secretary of the Communist Party, is kidnapped and sent to the ''gulag'' by Lavrentiy Beria, chief of [[SecretPolice the NKVD]], as part of Beria's attempted coup to seize control of the [[UsefulNotes/SovietRussiaUkraineAndSoOn Soviet Union]]. Molotov is rescued by Georgy Zhukov, Beria's rival and commander of the UsefulNotes/RedArmy, after Zhukov survived his own attempted assassination and thwarted the coup. In the aftermath, with Beria already having delivered false announcements that Molotov had voluntarily retired and with many senior communist officials already dead, Molotov is worried that Zhukov could easily just execute him and seize power for himself now that Beria had been dealt with. Zhukov seems to consider this for a moment, but in the end, apparently surprising even himself, he allows Molotov to remain as General Secretary and head of the Soviet Union. Zhukov is not above extorting more funding for the Red Army afterward and "suggesting" the course of political actions, but he remains loyal to Molotov for the duration of his rule. This is likely a reference to the RealLife Zhukov's admission that he was much better dealing with military matters than with politics.
* In ''Literature/TheBelgariad'', Durnik's influence on the growing Garion is exemplified by his explaining that he is making a small piece to be used on the bottom of a cart as good as it can be made -- because he will see the cart every day and be reminded how good or poor a job he did.
* In ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'', Harry Dresden has had his fair share of these moments, usually when faced with Black Magic.
** It's a recurring theme in the ''Changes'', with several characters, even [[TheStoic Mac]], warning Harry that the latest crisis will show Harry who he really is. [[spoiler: It showed that Harry is capable of being a true monster, if the stakes are high enough. Including when Harry is given the choice to kill a man and gain the power to save his daughter...and goes through with it.]]
** The next book shows Harry does feel [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone remorse]] when he realises the true consequences of his actions. [[spoiler: It turns out he was manipulated by a FallenAngel with seven simple but powerful words into making the choice but the realisation, along with Mab's speech about how she now controls him, almost convinces him that he'll stay a monster forever. But the scales must be balanced. Then Uriel uses his seven whispered words.]]
* In the ''Literature/{{Hurog}}'' duology, there are several of those. Ward's father fails this test of character - he once, while drunk, admits to Ward that he killed his father and disguised it as accident when they were out hunting, without witnesses. Ward, on the other hand, is "in the dark" in the sense of the word that most people around him are less moral than he is - when two nobles ask that a slave that fled to Hurog be returned to them, Ward is the only one who refuses. He briefly considers to spare himself the hassle (as the nobles will be very angry, and they're powerful) but then remembers his own, inherited, immortal slave Oreg, who he knows is severely traumatized, and just can't bring himself to turn the slave in.
* Literature/JaneEyre refuses to live with her lover outside the bonds of matrimony though nobody would know, or care if they did, because ''she'' would know and ''she'' cares for her personal integrity even if nobody else does.
* In the Creator/DaleBrown novel ''Fatal Terrain'', Patrick [=McLanahan=] warns his group that due to the classified nature of their mission, even if they succeed no one will congratulate them, and at worst [[spoiler: they will be condemned by their own side]]. On the other hand, if they choose to back down and face [[spoiler: trial in a federal court]], it is likely that [[spoiler: they will come out in a position to maintain Sky Masters, inc.]] None of his group flinch from it.
* In ''Literature/SirGawainAndTheGreenKnight,'' Gawain has to deal with this twice, once when the wife of Sir Bercilak de Haudesert is trying to seduce him and again when a servant who takes him to the home of the titular Green Knight offers to keep silent if Gawain runs away from his almost certain death.
* In Creator/JohnCWright's ''[[Literature/ChroniclesOfChaos Fugitives of Chaos]]'', Amelia weeps over a Western movie (''High Noon'' by the description) and tells Vanity that she wants to be like the marshall, doing what is right regardless.
* Judas in ''Literature/TheBible'' if you believe some [[{{AlternativeCharacterInterpretation/Literature}} Alternate Character Interpretation]]
* Selia of ''[[Literature/BooksOfBayern The Goose Girl]]'' offers Ani/Isi a very tempting offer -- admit that she "lied", tell the king that Selia really is the Princess Anidori, and no one will ever have to know. Ani/Isi can even go back to her goose herd, rather than face death. This would lead to Ani/Isi's entire homeland being killed in ambush. Ani/Isi knows that she can't convince anyone of the truth, knows that she will die unless she sacrifices her people. No one would know but Ani/Isi, Selia, and Selia's guards...[[spoiler: and the Prince and his guard, who are listening in a hidden passageway. Ani/Isi doesn't know that, though, but declares she won't lie anyway. Cue BigDamnHeroes.]]
* Commented on in ''Literature/TheBrothersKaramazov''. Ivan, the middle Brother states that humans will become utter bastards if they delincuish their faith in "immortality" (that is God and a final judgement). It fits the trope because the absence of God would mean nobody will see what you are in the dark, and hence - no human conscience.
* This is one of the major themes of Joseph Conrad's ''Literature/HeartOfDarkness''. Imperialists in Africa know that no other Europeans can see them, so they feel they are free to do whatever they want. Only Marlow, it seems, manages to retain his humanity -- and he admits that he can feel himself becoming [[UnusualEuphemism "scientifically interesting."]]
* Happens twice in ''Literature/InTheKeepOfTime'', from different points of view among the children. When Andrew goes back to get the key from the door, while the others are waiting in Anna's cottage, he is strongly tempted to escape back to the present—and the key even [[BecauseDestinySaysSo starts to turn]] [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor in the door]], before he wrenches it free and hides it instead. This act, he thinks, "took more courage than all the adventures and battles which were to follow". Later, when he finally returns from the Battle of Roxburgh, ready to go home, he cannot find the key, Elinor, or Ian and assumes they left without him. When he is reunited with them again, he learns they were indeed tempted to do so, but couldn't find the key either. Whether they too could have resisted if they had found it will never be known.
* Subverted in Vonnegut's ''Literature/MotherNight''. The moral of the story can be summed up as: you are who you pretend to be. At one point a Nazi informs the main character, who was working as a propagandist but was secretly passing information back to the Allies, that the Nazi knew the hero was a spy all along. The Nazi didn't care, though, because the hero's words were the only things that convinced him that the Nazis were right, and his country hadn't gone insane. Even if the hero was helping the allies, he'd helped the Nazis far more than he had ever helped them.
* ''StarWars'' [[Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse Expanded Universe]]:
** In one of the ''Literature/NewJediOrder'' books, Wedge Antilles leaves the command station where he'd been directing a crucial battle, only to find that his shuttle had been destroyed. The only craft available is an X-Wing with damaged comms and no astromech. After taking off in it, he finds a civilian transport under attack by an enemy squadron, and bravely annihilates them by himself, but loses his shields in the process. When a second squadron heads towards them, he has a choice: if he stays to fight the squadron, he will almost certainly die, and, as he is in an extra fighter that was assigned to no one and he can't comm anyone to tell them where he is, his family and friends will never learn what became of him. He will die alone and unnamed. Or, he could abandon the transport, having already fought valiantly to save him. No one could blame him for retreating in the face of certain death after having already given his all. Wedge turns to face the approaching squadron head on. His specific answer is "I'll know"; he knows himself well enough that if he leaves the transport behind, it'll only give him enough time to get his affairs in order before he [[DeathSeeker finds some other way]] [[DrivenToSuicide to die]]. Because it's Wedge, the best damn X-Wing pilot in history, he's got PlotArmor in effect, [[BigDamnHeroes and he gets rescued by members of the X-wing's squadron who noticed his fighter still active]].
** Played with in ''[[ComicBook/XWingSeries X-Wing: Wraith Squadron]]''. When Wedge and Wraith Squadron capture a band of pirates, he asks them about their affiliation with Warlord Zsinj. The pirates refuse to talk, claiming that they're settlers in an unclaimed system, so there are no laws to govern their actions. Wedge counters by pointing out that if there really weren't any laws, then he and his men could easily murder all of the pirates and nobody would ever know. Suffice to say, the pirates decide to talk.
** In Michael A. Stackpole's ''[[Literature/JediAcademyTrilogy I, Jedi]]'', Corran Horn gives a whole ''litany'' of examples from his past, while trying to convince Luke that rather than being ignorant of temptation he does, in fact, know the lure of the dark side. Two of them are cases when he could have shot someone and had it explained as "resisting arrest", one of those being when he caught the one responsible for killing his father (he says he could've marched Bossk into the lobby of One [=CorSec=] Plaza and shot him in the head and nobody on the force would've given it a second thought). The other example:
-->'''Corran''': I've walked into a warehouse and arrested a spicelord in his office. [[BriefcaseFullOfMoney He opened a case and it had over a million credits in it.]] A ''million'' -- more money than I'll ever see in my lifetime. It was mine, he said, if I'd just take it and walk away. No one would ever know. But ''I'd'' know, and I didn't do it.
** Later in the novel, though, Corran faces a form of ScarpiaUltimatum, realizes that his pride has pushed him to the point that he "doesn't recognize himself in the mirror anymore," and has to trace back and find himself again...
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'': Jaime Lannister fills this trope, particularly due to being villified afterwards and known as "The Kingslayer" for his BodyguardBetrayal of King Aerys. It also slightly deconstructs the trope, as in the backstory, Jaime was sworn to protect Aerys, but after fighting and losing a long rebellion, and as the rebels marched into his capital, "[[RoyallyScrewedUp Mad King Aerys]]" planned to [[KillItWithFire burn the entire city down]] with [[GreekFire wildfire]]. He could just let him do it, or he could kill him, becoming an oathbreaker and saving thousands of lives, but he will only be known as Kingslayer, and no one will know why he did it, not even the rebels he literally surrenders the throne to.
** Played with, in the sense that Jaime should really not have allowed the reason for his action to remain in the dark. The wildfire caches are still hidden all over the city, & wildfire is infamous for being dangerously unstable & almost supernaturally destructive in nature. In fact, many fans believe that these caches will go up in a green apocalypse, once a certain young dragonrider appears to reclaim her birthright.....
* ''Literature/HonorHarrington'':
** In the novel ''In Enemy Hands'', [[spoiler: Honor struggles with the desire to give in to despair during her captivity in StateSec hands, but manages to convince herself to refuse, believing that it is her duty to herself.]]
** [[spoiler: Albrecht Detweiler]] is unknown to the galaxy at large, his enemies, and even most of his ''allies''. His plans will not come to fruition until long after he is dead, at which point he will still be unknown as figureheads make all the public moves. However, despite the fact that he will never even be acknowledged as existing, he follows through on his plans because he believes they are the right thing to do. [[EvilVirtues Too bad he is the villain.]]
* One part in Literature/TheNameOfTheWind has Kvothe and his [[LoveInterest almost love interest]] Denna alone, at night, curled up to each other for warmth. Denna had eaten some denner resin (a rather potent drug) and Kvothe knew she wouldn't remember a thing that had happened while she was high on it in the morning. He was tempted, once or twice, to rape her, but resisted, because ''he'' would know, even if she wouldn't.
* Literature/AgentPendergast finds the formula for an immortality elixir in ''Literature/TheCabinetOfCuriosities''. During the story, he agonizes over what to do with it when he finds it. Keep it to himself? Destroy it? Share it with humanity? In the end [[spoiler: he realizes that no good could come of it's existence and he burns it. However, in the [[MissingEpisode unofficial epilogue]], he's memorized the formula before doing so and goes to pick up the ingredients afterward]].
* Young Sandry in [[Literature/CircleOfMagic Daja's Book]] is so considerate and scrupulous that when she accidentally burns an odd pattern into someone's jacket while he's out, she stays around until he comes back to point out the damage, take responsibility, and offer to replace it despite the difficulty. All the while, one of her friends is urgently insisting that she go take a message somewhere, and another is thinking she's daft and should just leave the jacket so she won't get in trouble.
* In ''Series/AllCreaturesGreatAndSmall'', Dr. Herriot is called into to perform a post-mortem on a dead cow with the owner assuming it was killed by lightning, which means an insurance pay out. However, Dr. Herriot determines that the cow died of heart failure and is solicited by the owner, who is a disagreeable chap anyway, to report it falsely as a lightning kill. However, Herriot, after hearing the usual claim that no one will know, responds that he himself will know what he did and stands his ground. The grump then blows his temper and complains to Herriot's boss, Dr. Siegfried Farnon, about Herriot's refusal to cooperate and Siegfried backs up his employee all the way.
* Comes up in ''Literature/ABrothersPrice''. Jerin Whistler is being taken to be married; he's known to be a virgin and free of [=STDs=], and men of his family are uncommonly virile; a family that was on its way to the [[SexSlave cribs]] to try and get someone pregnant tries to pay his sisters to get him for one night with one of their daughters, who's also a virgin and clean. They reason that no one can tell if a man is a virgin, and this would profit everyone. [[CoolBigSis Eldest Whistler]] will have none of this. Somewhat subverted in that Captain Tern ''was'' there, if overlooked, and reported this incident, making the Whistlers look better.
* In ''Literature/TheStrangeCaseOfDrJekyllAndMrHyde'', Jekyll wonders if Mr. Hyde is truly a different person, or just him making the wrong choice when confronted with this trope.
* In Glen Duncan's Literature/{{Weathercock}} this is pretty much the theme of the book, along with its climax: Dominic, the protagonist, is given the chance to do what he's always struggled with the desire for - to torture someone to death. [[spoiler: He doesn't do it. It is not about what he wants to do; as he notes, it is a matter of what he is and is not capable of.]]
* Happens two times to Íñigo Balboa, the sidekick of the Capitán Alatriste in the novels of Arturo Pérez-Reverte: Once in "Purity of Blood" (faced to surrender or attack, as 13-years old boy chooses to attack with a dagger the troops of the Inquisition including an expert assassin) and once in "The Cavalier in the Yellow Doublet" (a trap is prepared for him and Alatriste under the supposition that Íñigo would never dare not to ask him for support - he does). In both cases the fact of "showing the real character even with no possibility of glory" is indicated (in the first case by the narrator, in the second by Alatriste [[spoiler: who actually arrives on time.]]
* In Teresa Frohock's ''Literature/MiserereAnAutumnTale'', Caleb offers to go in after Lucien. No one would know that Rachael wasn't there for the arrest. She refuses; she would know.
* In Literature/CreationManAndTheMessiah, UsefulNotes/{{Jesus}} states that this is the essence of ''truth'': "Knowledge of your own self", later interpreted like this: "Truth is what you know about yourself when you are alone". This definition of self-conscience fits the trope.
* In ''Literature/TheMartian'', [[spoiler: the Chinese scientists of CNSA]] admit that if they didn't help, no one would ever know that they ''could'' have helped. They chose to help.
* In ''Literature/TheWitchlands'':
** Merik has three such moments in quick succession.
*** After Cam gives him TheReasonYouSuckSpeech [[spoiler:and leaves him]], he realizes he's free to pursue Vivia's death like he wanted to and no-one can stop him, but instead choses to consider what Cam's told him.
*** He has a choice or either staying in hiding and learning valuable information or intervene and save Cam (who doesn't know he's here), and choses the latter.
*** Finally, [[spoiler:when they're hanging high in the air, out of everyone's earshot, Kullen gives him his WeCanRuleTogether spiel and points out that all Merik has to do to kill Vivia is to do nothing for a few more seconds. Merik choses to save her instead.]]
** Iseult has this moment in the climax of the second book, when she realizes that she can either keep searching for Safi like she did for all of the novel, or come back and save Aeduen. As an added bonus, Aeduen doesn't expect her to return, and Safi doesn't even know Iseult's travelling in a company. [[spoiler:She comes back for him.]]
* In one ''Literature/HoratioHornblower'' short story, Hornblower is put in charge of an Irish rebel to be hanged, who agrees not to make a speech if Hornblower will deliver his seachest to his widow. After it's done, Hornblower decides to poke around inside and discovers that the lid is a puzzle box full of rebel pamphlets, a list of names, and a wad of likely CounterfeitCash, no doubt destined for some hideout. Hornblower considers whether to reveal his discovery, which took a great deal of cleverness and would probably raise his standing. On the other hand, it would wreck the career of the man who searched the rebel's effects in the first place. Hornblower quietly has the chest dumped overboard.

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]
* ''Series/TwentyFour'': Allison Taylor goes through this in both the seventh and eighth season finales:
** At the end of season seven, she and her husband have just discover that her daughter Olivia [[spoiler: orchestrated the murder of a corrupt executive that was behind the death of their son and Olivia's brother. At this point, she has the chance to cover it up and let her daughter go free with nobody being the wiser. But as much as it breaks her heart she chooses to turn Olivia over to the authorities, even though doing so permanently shatters her family which as it causes her husband to divorce her.]]
** The above results in her being desperate to get a peace treaty between the United States, Russia, and fictional nation Kamistan signed during the eighth season. The only problem is Russia is secretly resorting to terrorism on the country in an attempt to break the deal off. [[spoiler: As a result, she winds up JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope and begins engaging in morally questionable tactics to keep things going. And then at end of the day the moment of truth comes: everyone who knows the truth about the conspiracy has been detained or otherwise removed from play, she's had both parties blackmailed into complying, and is going to keep the public unaware of her hand in the coverup. In the final minutes her conscience still ultimately catches up to her, and when the time for the signing comes she instead announces to the public the truth behind the coverup and her hand in it.]]
* In an episode of ''Series/{{ALF}}'', Alf is falsely accused by the Tanners of finally giving in to temptation and eating Lucky; naturally, when Lucky is found alive and well (after Alf runs away to find him), they have a lot of apologizing to do. In the last scene, Alf feeds Lucky and pretty much describes this Trope while talking to him:
-->'''Alf:''' Never thought I'd see the day when they'd let ''me'' feed you. They actually ''trust'' me! You know, I could go to the refrigerator right now and make myself a BLT, a bacon-Lucky-and-tomato sandwich! ''(Laughs}'' But I won't... Cause they trust me... ''[[BeatPanel (Beat, looks at Lucky)]]'' But don't get ''too'' comfortable!
* ''Series/{{Andromeda}}'':
** Captain Dylan Hunt is given the chance to frame his former friend Telemachus in order to restore the Commonwealth, a case of UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans. He chooses not to, but not without some reservations.
** In an alternate timeline, Gaheris Rhade survives the long night instead of Dylan and realizes [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone what a huge mistake]] he made by betraying the Commonwealth. He sets out to restore the Commonwealth but had very little success. When given the opportunity to go back in time and let Dylan be the one to save the universe, he took it knowing that doing so would erase all evidence of his attempts to atone and that his best friend along with the rest of the known worlds would only remember him as a traitor.
*** It turned out that history was much kinder to Gaheris than he anticipated. He was remembered as a hero who [[RightForTheWrongReasons died trying to save the Commonwealth]] and Dylan found it in his heart to forgive Gaheris and believed he had the best of intentions.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'':
** In the episode "Comes the Inqusitor", the [[ThresholdGuardians Threshold Guardian]] tests Delenn and Sheridan to see if they're able to live up to this trope. They ultimately pass.
-->'''Sebastian''': How do you know the chosen ones? [[Literature/TheBible No greater love hath a man]], than [[HeroicSacrifice he lay down his life for his brother]]. Not for millions, not for glory, not for fame -- for one person. In the dark. Where no one will ever know, or see.
** Also in the episode "Soul Mates", Londo gets dispensation from the Emperor to divorce two of his three wives (he must stay married to one). He invites his wives to the station and tells them he'll make a decision who to keep. Two of his wives flatter and kiss up to him, while one, Timov, is brutally honest about how she feels about him (in less than flattering terms). However, when one of the other wives has Londo poisoned, Timov donates blood to him to save him--and then tells Dr. Franklin not to tell Londo she did this. Had she done nothing and Londo died, she'd be guaranteed to inherit from him (along with the other wives, since he hadn't decided yet who to divorce) and remain financially secure--but she didn't want to "win her battles that way". Londo decides: [[spoiler:He divorces the other two and keeps Timov because he appreciates her sincerity, of knowing truly where each stood.]]
** In the fifth season episode "Objects at Rest", Lennier must choose whether to save [[spoiler:Sheridan, the husband of the woman Lennier has always loved and plans to marry when Sheridan dies of premature old age. He starts to flee, stops, realizes that he can't go through with it, and returns to help, only to be too late; Sheridan has managed to rescue himself in the meantime.]]
* ''Series/{{Being Human|UK}}'': Done by a villain. George tries to convince Herrick to let the main characters go far away and never return, leaving Herrick to claim that he's killed them. George says that nobody would know, and Herrick responds that he will know that he allowed himself to show mercy to those he considers below him, and he specifically uses the words "I'll know".
* ''Series/BoyMeetsWorld'': While on a road trip with Eric and Shawn, Cory attracts the attention of a beautiful college girl who has just recently broken up with her boyfriend and is drawn to Cory due to his NiceGuy tendencies. When she propositions him, Cory rejects her at first because he's loyal to his girlfriend Topanga back home and doesn't want to betray her, only to find out through a phone call that Toponga rejected coming on the road trip with Cory and lied about it. Eric finally comes in and, when asked about the situation, tells Cory that if he did cheat, the only people who would know are the girl and Cory himself. Ultimately he turns the girl down and remains faithful.
* One episode of ''Series/TheBradyBunch'' has [[TheUnfavorite Jan]], who's been feeling down on herself lately for not being as talented as her older sister (this is the situation that prompted her to say "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia" [[BeamMeUpScotty for the first and only time]]), win a prestigious award at school by earning a certain number of points on an essay; she'll be given the prize in front of a school assembly, and the family plans a big party for her. As she ecstatically tallies up the values to celebrate, she discovers that the teacher made a mistake, and another girl actually scored more than her. She's the only person who knows this, and as long as no one brings it up, she'll get the award and all of the praise that comes with it. An InnerMonologue reveals her attempts to justify keeping the secret, but during the assembly, she can't go through with it and tells a teacher the truth. Though the teacher is forced to announce that Jan ''didn't'' win, she does praise the girl for her maturity and strength of character in doing the right thing, even if it cost her the prestige she so desperately wanted.
* A main point in ''Series/BreakingBad''. In the pilot, Walt is a put-upon family man with two depressing jobs whose cancer diagnosis inspires him to cook meth so his family won't lack for money. As the show progresses, he embraces his worst impulses and evolves FromNobodyToNightmare. A strong "in the dark" moment occurs near the end of season two - [[spoiler: Walt allows Jane to choke on her own vomit, with no witnesses, since she was blackmailing him and endangering the operation.]]
** An even bigger one comes in at the end of Season 4, [[spoiler:where he poisons an innocent child in order to put in motion his BatmanGambit against Gus.]]
** This is also used to show that all Walt's pretensions about doing it for his family are nonsense; when his son sets up a money-raising website for his cancer (and unwittingly provides an absolutely perfect way for Walt to funnel his drug money into his family's bank account without them asking questions,) [[PragmaticVillainy Saul]] is delighted, as it's even better than the "large inheritance from obscure family member" he'd previously suggested, while [[{{Pride}} Walt]] is furious at the idea that they would think the money came from "charity" (a word he uses with contempt), instead of from ''his'' ingenuity and skill. A later moment of AlcoholInducedIdiocy has him persuade the cop trying to discover the identity of his alter-ego that the mysterious "Heisenberg" is not the deceased [[spoiler: Gale]], because he can't bear the idea of someone else taking the credit for ''his'' high-quality meth and criminal badassery.
* ''Series/BrooklynNineNine'': In the second season episode "The Defense Rests", Jake catches Sophia's boss Geoffrey -- a man he's desperately trying to impress in the hopes that Sophia won't break up with him if he proves that her work life isn't incompatible with their relationship -- doing cocaine in the men's bathroom of the party they're attending. Since it's only the two of them there, he could easily have looked the other way, or even used it as leverage to get Geoffrey on his side. However, it's never even presented as something Jake needs to consider: he arrests Geoffrey on the spot, even though he knows Sophia will definitely leave him for it. Even better, this trope is hugely {{Downplayed}} for Jake, and only gets acknowledged when Terry realises what Jake did:
-->'''Jake:''' Ugh, I should not have gone to that party. Should not have gone into that bathroom. Should not have arrested her boss.\\
'''Terry:''' I don't see it that way. You did everything right. You were a good cop.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'':
** Played subtly straight and strongly backwards in the episode "The Zeppo", while the rest of the Scooby Gang is busy taking care of [[NoodleIncident a huge, horrific, wide-scale, apocalyptic, personally heartwrenching catastrophe]], an undead delinquent jock who runs into Xander decides to blow up the high school for kicks. This would kill the Scooby Gang, and leave the Hellmouth open, ending the world. Xander, not wanting to risk getting the world destroyed by distracting his more powerful friends from their own disaster, decides to take care of the problem instead, after Faith screws his brains out he singlehandedly chases down and corners the jock; and by refusing to be swayed in the face of near-certain death, intimidates him into backing down. Afterwards, even though most of the episode revolved around Xander's feelings of inferiority, he feels no need to mention the escapade to his friends or stand up to [[AlphaBitch Cordelia]] to prove his badassery, as it's enough that ''he'' knows what he did.
** In "Who Are You?", Faith spends much of the episode in Buffy's body living it up, and messing with Buffy's life. She also finds several unexpected sources of goodness thrown her way, such as a loving parent who isn't a wannabe demon, a loving boyfriend, genuine gratitude, and actual friendship. She is all set to leave Sunnydale in Buffy's body, having gotten her revenge as well as a get out of jail free card. Then she sees a report on a TV while at a bus depot of a hostage situation in a church, and drops everything to save those people.
--->'''Faith-in-Buffy's-body: Because it's wrong.'''
** In Season 5's "Intervention," Spike is captured by Glory, who [[JackBauerInterrogationTechnique brutally tortures him]] for information on [[MacGuffin the Key]]. Spike knows that Dawn is the Key, and all of the Scoobies, Buffy included, firmly believe that Spike will sell them out and that they have to [[KilledToUpholdTheMasquerade kill him before he does]]. Instead, Spike endures the torture and [[DefiantToTheEnd openly mouths off to Glory]], later confessing to Buffy (who was posing as Spike's [[SexBot Buffybot]] at the time) that he couldn't live with himself if anything happened to Dawn and was perfectly willing to ''let'' Glory kill him first.
** In Season 7's episode "Potential", Xander gives a speech to Dawn all about this:
--->'''Xander''': They'll never know how tough it is, Dawnie, to be the one who isn't chosen. To live so near to the spotlight and never step in it. But I know.
** Although considering in the Season 8 comics [[spoiler: Dawn and Xander hook up and get a place and Buffy ends up living on their couch in a world without magic but still has vampires ]] it's not so bad to not be near the spotlight.
** It does not matter that they tormented him in high school or that they have forgotten about him in the years since then, Jonathan is going to step up and be the hero for the town of Sunnydale because it is the right thing to do.
--->'''Jonathan:''' I'm serious, I really miss [high school]. Time goes by and everything drops away; all the cruelty, all the pain, all the humiliation, it all washes away. I miss my friends. I miss my enemies. I miss the people I talked to every day, I miss the people who never knew I existed. I miss 'em all. I want to talk to them, y'know. I want to find out how they're doing, I want to know what's going on in their lives.\\
'''Andrew:''' You know what? They don't want to talk to you. All those people you just mentioned, not one of them is sitting around going "I wonder what Jonathan's up to right now?" Not ''one'' of them cares about ''you''. \\
'''Jonathan:''' Well, I still care about them. That's why I'm here.
* ''Series/BurnNotice'':
** Runs with this a lot. It's usually a situation where Michael has to choose between getting his life back and helping his friends.
** In probably the definitive example of the series, in Season 3, Michael is told that he's about to be unburned, he'll be accepted back by his government, he'll get everything he ever wanted. All he had to do was accept, and oh, by the way, Fiona's in trouble, but don't worry about that, she's his past, and he needs to look towards his future.
--> '''Michael''': Fiona is '''not my past!''' ''(fast-draws and shoots [[spoiler:Strickler]] dead)''
** Also one of their marks that they were using to get to their target has one. Despite him clearly wanting to move up in the Bad Guy's operation, when his boss tells him that the "new recruits" he has been working with will be sacrificed in their next score, the guy lies to his recruits that the boss wouldn't be using them so they wouldn't be killed. After Michael reveals what he intends to do, the guy helps Michael then goes legit.
** One episode has this work ''against'' them with a ruthless mob boss being tricked into stealing a large shipment with Sam acting undercover as an enforcer from the higher-ups who wanted the boss dead but changed sides upon being promised a big cut. Earlier, in order to convince the boss to get involved with the heist personally, Sam reluctantly relates a real story from his SEAL days about how he did everything he could to get an injured comrade to safety. The heist goes off as planned, but the boss, who was supposed to drive away and be intercepted by authorities with the shipment while Sam pretended to be captured, has a moment of conscience and goes back to "save" him, abandoning the shipment and forcing Team Westen to come up with a new plan.
--->'''Michael:''' A spy's job is to get into the head of his adversary, to know how he'll behave and use it against him. But human behavior is about as predictable as the weather. Sometimes the most hardened criminal can decide to be noble at the most inconvenient time.
* ''Series/{{Community}}'':
** Played with in one episode -- Pierce, who [[spoiler:has everyone convinced that he]] is on his deathbed, gives Britta a blank check for a large sum of money to be donated to the charity of her choice but offhandedly suggests that she could spend it on herself and no one would know. As it happens, Abed is making a documentary of the events of the episode, and Britta, in an odd cross between responses one and two, donates the money to the Red Cross and, without prompting, tearfully admits that she would've kept the money if she wasn't being filmed and that she's very ashamed of herself.
** In a friendlier use of the trope, in one episode, Jeff, to stop a fight between friend, makes up "imaginary friendship hats" which quickly get discarded. Later on, when the friends are starting to make up, Jeff actually goes all the way back to retrieve and dust off the imaginary friendship hats, even though he admits he could've easily just stood outside the room for a minute and come back.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** PlayedForLaughs (sort of) when the Fourth Doctor finishes assembling the Key to Time and feigns being power-mad in a [[EvilIsHammy incredibly hammy way]]. Romana sees immediately that he's faking it and finds it slightly tiresome, until the Doctor explains what his point actually is -- [[NoManShouldHaveThisPower what if he wasn't]]?
** [[Recap/DoctorWhoS27E13ThePartingOfTheWays "The Parting of the Ways"]] has the Ninth Doctor facing one of these choices. He's facing a two million and a half-ish army of insane Daleks. They've killed everyone else, and firebombed the Earth. Jack's dead, the lovely young woman from the previous episode is dead, Rose is as far as he knows stuck in the past, and he's got a weapon that could kill all the Daleks in an instant. And the Dalek Emperor is egging him on, wanting to see him become "[[NotSoDifferent The Great Exterminator]]". The Daleks would be dead, and so would everyone still alive on Earth, but there are still other humans out there. So, which is he? Coward or killer? He chooses coward ("any day!"). Fortunately, he then gets saved by a conveniently timed Bad Wolf.
** SubvertedTrope in the episode [[Recap/DoctorWhoS30E10Midnight "Midnight"]]. Faced with the UltimateEvil MonsterOfTheWeek that has possessed someone, some of the passengers propose throwing her out into the deadly light. The Doctor asks if they're willing to go through with it, and for a moment it looks like they won't . . . until they say, yes, they won't shy from it. This becomes a problem when [[spoiler:the beastie tricks them into thinking the Doctor is possessed. The Doctor narrowly avoids death as a result. But it's also why they, [[DeathByPragmatism with the exception of one person]], survive]].
** Subverted in [[Recap/DoctorWhoS30E16TheWatersOfMars "The Waters of Mars"]]. No one in the universe would ever have been the wiser if the Doctor had simply walked away from Bowie Base One, as everyone on the base was fated to die in a massive explosion. But the Doctor cannot bear to hear their cries of terror as their doom closes in on them, and he goes back to save them. However, [[spoiler:this is portrayed as a ''bad'' thing, as he knew full well that their deaths were necessary to preserve the timeline and would lead to great progress in the coming decades; and when he decides to go back, his euphoria and realization that he can save anyone (and do anything) he wants now that there are no other Time Lords to stop him sends him plunging straight into AGodAmI territory. It takes the lead scientist of the mission, who's openly disgusted with his statements about being "Time Lord Victorious,"[[HeroicSacrifice killing herself to keep history intact]] to make him realize just how bad he's become.]]
** The Tenth Doctor faced this in [[Recap/DoctorWhoS30E17E18TheEndOfTime "The End of Time"]]. After disaster has been averted, [[spoiler:he realizes that Wilfred is sealed in a death trap, and the only way to save him is for someone else to take his place. Nobody would have ever known that Wilfred, an old man, could have been saved. Wilfred even begged the Doctor to just walk away and let him die. Yet despite this and his near-crippling fear of death, the Doctor chose to save Wilfred at the cost of one of his own lives]].
*** This turns out to be HarsherInHindsight. [[spoiler: At this point, the audience is under the impression the Doctor has three regenerations remaining. [[Recap/DoctorWho50thASTheDayOfTheDoctor "The Day of the Doctor"]] reveals a previously unknown regeneration, the War Doctor. [[Recap/DoctorWho2013CSTheTimeOfTheDoctor "The Time of the Doctor"]] revealed that Ten's seemingly aborted regeneration in [[Recap/DoctorWhoS30E12TheStolenEarth "The Stolen Earth"]]/[[Recap/DoctorWhoS30E13JourneysEnd "Journey's End"]] actually counted. As a result, Ten believed he was entering his final incarnation.]]
** Played straight in [[Recap/DoctorWho2011CSTheDoctorTheWidowAndTheWardrobe "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe"]] when soldiers on an alien world confront Madge, a mother from the 1940s who was searching for her children, with their guns trained on them. One soldier, Billis, [[ScrewTheRulesImDoingWhatsRight goes against her commander's orders and lowers her weapon]]:
--->'''Billis:''' She is a crying, unarmed female civilian. I'm thinking of the visual.\\
'''Droxil:''' Nobody's looking.\\
'''Billis:''' Doesn't mean there's no visual.
** In [[Recap/DoctorWhoS33E3ATownCalledMercy "A Town Called Mercy"]], Jex says that no one would blame the Doctor for letting the townspeople give him to Kahler-Tek, that the Doctor would be a hero. The Doctor flat-out refuses and says essentially that more death will do no good to anyone.
** The two-parter [[Recap/DoctorWhoS35E1TheMagiciansApprentice "The Magician's Apprentice"]]/[[Recap/DoctorWhoS35E2TheWitchsFamiliar "The Witch's Familiar"]] hinges on this challenge coming up more than once for the Twelfth Doctor. His failure to do a heroic deed in the dark starts off the story: [[spoiler: he chose not to rescue a young boy from a hand mine field upon realizing he would grow up to be Davros, creator of the Daleks -- only leaving behind his sonic screwdriver and perhaps inspiring the villain's ways in the process]]. In his attempt to atone for this moment of weakness with his own death when the now-dying person most affected by this calls upon him, [[spoiler: he ''passes'' a similar challenge when Davros offers him the chance to destroy all the Daleks (thus committing genocide) at once]]. Moreover, at the end [[spoiler: he is able to return to the past and finish his rescue of the boy upon realizing that he wasn't responsible for Davros becoming evil, but rather for giving the boy an understanding of mercy that manages to endure in the Daleks]].
** A recurring theme in [[Recap/DoctorWhoS36E6Extremis ''Extremis'']] is that the truest good can only be done without any chance of hope, reward or witness. By the end of the episode, the Doctor is alone in a room, surrounded by murderous aliens, with [[spoiler:both his companions dead]] and the human race imploding around him. [[spoiler:And ''he's not even the Doctor'': the aliens created his universe as a simulation and seem to be playing through it, like a video game, in order to figure out the most efficient strategy for [[TakeOverTheWorld taking over the world.]] His universe is nothing more than that, and he's about to die as soon as an alien touches him.]] What does he do? [[spoiler:Use his position as an "upjumped subroutine", along with his perfect replica of the sonic sunglasses, to send a message to the ''real'' Doctor leaking the aliens' plan and all the information he has on them. [[HeartwarmingMoments Along with a "PS" asking the Doctor to save everyone. From the Doctor.]]]]
** This turns out to be [[spoiler: Missy's]] ultimate fate. Killed by [[spoiler: her previous incarnation after she just stabbed him in the back]], so The Doctor will never know [[spoiler: she]] was coming to his aid. [[FinalDeath Truly dying]], [[ArcWords without hope, without witness, without reward.]]
* ''Series/FamilyMatters'': When offered a bribe, policeman Carl Winslow rephrased response #1 as "I can't shave with my eyes closed." He then explains it means he wouldn't be able to look at himself in the mirror.
* ''Series/{{Farscape}}'': John has traveled to an unstable alternate universe along with [[MagnificentBastard Scorpius]], and needs to kill an innocent to find vital information [[ItMakesSenseInContext (it's complicated)]]. Thing is, this innocent just happens to look like a cross between [[LoveInterest Aeryn]] and [[LikeBrotherAndSister Chiana]]. [[spoiler: He can't bring himself to shoot her. [[BigDamnVillains Scorpius can.]]]]
* ''Series/{{Firefly}}'':
** If Simon had abandoned River no one would have paid attention and River would not have remembered it. Once in a while there is no middle ground between being great and being loathsome and as it happens he chose to be great. He did the impossible and that made him mighty.
** Which is why he can wear as many [[WaistcoatOfStyle fancy vests]] as he wants.
** From "Jaynestown":
--->'''Kaylee:''' What's so damn important about bein' proper? It don't mean nothin' out here in the black.\\
'''Simon:''' It means more out here. It's all I have.
* ''Series/{{Frasier}}'': One episode dealing with Niles and Maris' divorce finds Frasier faced with a dilemma to either lie at a legal deposition during Niles and Maris' divorce hearing and say he has no knowledge of Niles' feelings towards Daphne; on one hand, he either lies and commits perjury, or he tells the truth and ruins his brother. This prompts Frasier into a moral dilemma in which he explicitly points out to Martin, who is encouraging him to just lie about it, that he feels that "ethics are what we do when no one is looking!" The episode never actually reveals whether Frasier managed to resolve his dilemma, as the matter is ultimately resolved without him having to testify.
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'': Jaime's most compassionate acts in his life are known only to Brienne. In the first case he killed the Mad King to save King's Landing from a wildfire explosion that would have murdered hundreds of thousands of innocents, and in the second he lied to Locke to spare Brienne's life.
* ''Series/HomeImprovement'': PlayedForLaughs when Tim introduces Al to a not-soundproof booth.
-->'''Al''': ''(seeing Tim pantomiming to him, pretending he can't hear him)'' Huh. [[ActuallyPrettyFunny This is actually very good]]. In that case, I should be the host of this show!\\
'''Tim''': ... ''(turns to the camera)''\\
'''Al''': And another thing--that's a stupid haircut you have!\\
'''Tim''': ''(raises [[FascinatingEyebrow an eyebrow]])''\\
'''Al''': And one more thing-- I am the very model of a modern Major-General, I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral, I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical-- From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical!\\
'''Tim''': Al!\\
'''Al''': Yes?\\
'''Tim''': Can you hear me?\\
'''Al''': ...''I'' can hear ''you''!\\
'''Tim''': Think about that, Al...\\
''(Al gawks as it [[LateToThePunchline slowly dawns on him]])''\\
'''Tim''': Major-general Borland! ''(salutes)''\\
''(Al pulls down the shade on the window of the not-soundproof booth)''
* ''Series/{{House}}'':
** Chase spent most of the first two seasons being a near-amoral [[DoctorJerk Doctor Jerk-in-training]], charming patients with lies and treating them like experiments while doing whatever he can to advance his career. Then comes the episode where House orders him to perform an autopsy on the body of a baby that died in his care. Alone in the morgue, Chase prays for the baby's soul before cutting up its body.
** He also kills a despot under his care, aware that he is disobeying all the oaths he took, risking losing his career and getting jail time, and risking his marriage. Just because he considers it the [[ShootTheDog right thing to do]] to save thousands.
*** It's even more complicated than that: he is the one that helped convinced the team to treat the dictator. Then, when an intruder tries to assassinate him, Chase reacts instinctively, shouting a warning that alerts the guards and saves his life. Eventually, after hearing first-hand from the would-be assassin ''and'' the dictator about the atrocities this man and his forces have committed and will commit in the future, Chase understands/realizes that saving this evil man's life (again) means that he shares in the responsibility for all the future victims. He can't even just walk away at this point and let some other doctor do it, because he's already saved his life from the assassin.
* ''Series/TheLegendOfWilliamTell'': Will has run into a mine fire to save the last prisoner, trapped in a pit. The bars over the pit are burning Will every time he touches them, The mine's going to blow any minute, and when he gets a good look at the man he realises it's his new girlfriend's ex-boyfriend. Will is desperately in love with the girl, no one outside knows who the prisoner is, and no one will question it if he comes back out alone.
-->'''[[EnigmaticEmpoweringEntity Kalem]]:''' No one will reproach you, William Tell. You cannot lift the grid and the mine is catching fire. You have done all you can.\\
'''Will:''' You mean I can leave him?\\
'''Kalem:''' And have Laliya, your love.
** Instead he endures the burns, frees the man, and reunites him with the girl. It turns out to be a SecretTestOfCharacter. Apart from that, he has several chances to kill Xax, which would make things an awful lot easier for him, and never takes them for various reasons; Xax has helped him, Xax is helpless, or he simply can't bring himself to do it.
* This happened to Al Bundy on ''Series/MarriedWithChildren'' ''a lot''. Numerous times, he had the chance to either gain large amounts of money illegally or cheat on Peg with some hot babe with nobody knowing. Amazingly, most of the time he chose the more moral choice. (The rare times his didn't, which may have been a case of DependingOnTheWriter, some DeusExMachina was sure to ruin his plans. Usually.)
* ''The Moment of Truth'': In a relatively non-controversial episode, contestant Ray Hernandez declared that he would never cheat on his wife even if he could be guaranteed than she would never find out -- and the lie detector confirmed it.
* ''Series/{{Monk}}'' even gets one. When he confronts the man who created the bomb that killed his wife in the hospital bed. The man in question is in constant pain only relieved by the drugs the hospital is giving him. When left alone with him Monk switches off the machine, but then a few seconds later turns it back on saying "This is Trudy turning it back on".
* Killian Jones aka Captain Hook from ''Series/OnceUponATime'' has two moments of this:
** The first is when Peter Pan offers to let him escape Neverland and take his crush Emma with him, if he kills Emma's father David. Since he and David are alone at the moment, no one would ever know and he'd get to comfort Emma after. Hook's response is a subtle "fuck you" and a renewed effort to keep David alive.
** The second is when Peter Pan tells him that Emma's FirstLove Neal is alive, in Neverland, and being held captive by none other than himself. Faced with keeping the secret and leave his lover's son to die or telling everyone and jeopardizing his chances with Emma, Hook again chooses to do the right thing. [[spoiler:It slows down his and Emma's RelationshipUpgrade, but it still happens and he's able to live with himself afterwards.]]
* ''Series/TheOuterLimits1995'': There's the episode "The Voyage Home" where two astronauts are landing from space. Eventually one finds out his partner is an evil alien. The alien tells him if he shuts up, no one will know, he'll disappear. The astronaut alters the trajectory so they blow up. The ending narration is almost verbatim the title of this trope., "The true measure of a hero is when a man lays down his life with the knowledge that those he saves...will never know."
* ''Series/{{Revolution}}'': The [[Recap/RevolutionS1E20TheDarkTower first season finale]] puts Tom Neville to the test. He takes control of the Monroe militia and is now making the rules. He is talking to Major Mark Franklin in a tent where it's just the two of them. Franklin is a Sebastian Monroe loyalist and doesn't want to work for Neville, so Neville tells him that he'll give him a horse and let Franklin ride back to his wife. Because, after all, he's not like Monroe. Oh, and he'll have to confiscate Franklin's gun. [[spoiler: Neville fires a couple shots through the front of the tent with Franklin's gun, shoots Franklin dead with his own gun, and puts Franklin's gun in Franklin's hand. That's right, he just murdered Franklin in cold blood. Then, when his son and a militia soldier rush into the tent, Neville just claims that he tried to be a nice guy, Franklin tried to kill him, and he had to shoot him in self-defense]]. The scene more or less confirms the direction Tom Neville is going in.
* ''Series/SesameStreet'': Occurs briefly in this show, of all places. During the song "The Ballad of Casey McPhee", Casey (portrayed by Cookie Monster) is entrusted with the job of delivering cookies, milk, and ice cream to a party on the other side of the mountain. When an avalanche blocks the train tracks, Casey realizes that he's alone, so nobody will see him eat some of the goods. However, he quickly comes to his senses and decides it would be wrong to do so - so he eats the snow instead.
* ''Series/{{Smallville}}'':
** In the episode "Nemesis", [[spoiler:Clark could have left Lex to die, but ultimately chooses not to. As his friend Chloe lampshades, he doesn't get to choose who he saves.]]
** In "Masquerade", [[spoiler:Chloe is tempted by the sin of lust in the form of Clark.]]
-->[[spoiler:'''Desaad-illusion-Clark''': What if we missed our chance?]]
-->[[spoiler:'''Chloe''': What are you talking about?]]
-->[[spoiler:'''Desaad-illusion-Clark''': One kiss...come on, we never have to tell anyone.]]
* In an episode of ''Series/{{Taxi}}'', Alex makes a wager with his lowlife MeanBoss Louie, where both compete to see who can make more money in fares in one night. During the competition, Alex has the perfect opportunity to take advantage of a JapaneseTourist and get away with it; the man can't speak English, and tries to pay him ''way'' too much money for the fare. Alex almost does so, but can't bring himself to do it, taking only the correct fare. Meanwhile, Louie, being the {{Slimeball}} he is, has no problem trying to take advantage of a blind customer who's new to the city, but fails because the guy uses his ''very'' acute hearing to count the clicks on the meter, and pays him the true fare after chewing him out. Alex's honesty is later rewarded; although Louie makes ore money in actual fares, Alex makes ''far'' more in tips (being a far more likeable cabbie) and after getting a third-party decision from Latka that tips ''do'' count, Alex wins the bet.
* ''Series/TheSopranos'': Dr. Melfi gets an awesome one of these in season two. After [[RapeAsDrama getting raped]], she realises that she could tell Tony, and he would ensure that the rapist died screaming... and chooses not to.

* ''Franchise/StarTrek'' have a bunch:
** ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'': Data faces an InvertedTrope instance where killing an evil character is portrayed as the ethical course of action. Data is kidnapped by a trader named Kivas Fajo who collects rare items. Data is put on display in a trophy room until he makes an escape with one of Fajo's underlings whom he befriends. Fajo kills the underling and is faced down by Data holding a weapon. Fajo tells Data to return to the trophy room and obey him or he will simply kill another underling and that the blood will be on Data's hands; the only other alternative is to kill Fajo, but he is confident that Data cannot take the action because has no emotions (thus no desire for revenge or justice) and his ethical programming prevents him from killing. [[ZerothLawRebellion Data leaps beyond his programming and decides the most ethical action is to kill Fajo to prevent more deaths]].
** ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'':
*** [[TheCaptain Sisko]] faces this when given an opportunity to bring the [[EnemyMine Romulans]] into the [[DarkestHour war]] against [[TheEmpire the Dominion]]. The problem is, doing so involves deception and eventually murder. [[spoiler: [[SubvertedTrope He gives in]].]]
*** Then we found out about Section 31, who planted moles in Romulans and utilize biological weapons in an attempt to conduct genocide against the Changelings, with both Starfleet Command and Federal Council implicitly approve their actions
** ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'':
*** Janeway insists that it's all the more important to uphold Federation values when they are so far from home. Unfortunately, due her DependingOnTheWriter status, and the sometimes questionable outcomes of the [[AlienNonInterferenceClause Prime Directive]], this comes across poorly most of the time.
*** An early astronaut stumbles across some NegativeSpaceWedgie and ends up in the Delta Quadrant. Though he realizes his chances of rescue are non-existent, he continues to do his work, dutifully recording and exploring. He eventually spots a piece of alien hull, and realizes that it was worth their effort, and his sacrifice to explore the galaxy, to learn that humanity isn't alone in the universe.
*** Similarly, Seven of Nine is aboard the ship to get information, but the singularity is about to close and trap her there. The crew only cared about getting her back alive and not about the information and data, but when she hears the recording of the astronaut's last words, she risks it all to get the data when no one could find issue with her failing to get it. She even recovers the man's body which is given a proper space burial.
*** In "Nothing Human", the crew discover that the medical knowledge that can be used to treat B'Elanna Torres was gained from involuntary experimentation on inmates in a refugee camp.
-->'''Tuvok:''' If the Doctor uses knowledge that Moset gained through his experiments, we would be validating his methods, inviting further unethical research.\\
'''Chakotay:''' We'd be setting a terrible precedent.\\
'''Paris:''' We're in the middle of the Delta Quadrant. Who would know?\\
'''Tuvok:''' ''We'' would know.
** ''Series/StarTrekDiscovery'': Purposely placing the Mirror Universe Emperor, who had conduct multiple genocides, to be the captain of your teleporting ship, so she can blow up Qo'nos -- after she tell you explcitly what will do. All Starfleet Command, No Section 31 involved.
* ''Series/TeenWolf'': When Peter Hale offers to turn Stiles into a werewolf in the season one finale, Stile's answer to Peter proposition is that he doesn't want it. Of course, Peter said he could tell he was lying, so there's definitely more to this.
* ''Series/{{Victorious}}'': Subverted, where Robbie has nightmares about a giant evil Rex (his puppet), but rather than discover this is what he may be, he sees Rex as a separate person and not an extension of himself.
* ''Series/TheWestWing'': Has a version of this: Toby and the President are able to secretly bring together a Republican and Democratic senator to create a bipartisan fix to the Social Security system, but they can't claim any credit for it, or the two senators won't propose the plan. They decide to let the senators claim they came up with the idea by themselves. Ronald Reagan was fond of saying "there is no limit to what a man can achieve if he doesn't care who gets the credit."
* ''Series/TheWire'':
** Detectives Herc and Carver have a moment where they could pocket some money from a drugs bust, but realize they would get caught, and leave it. Then some of the money goes missing anyway, and the very angry Daniels wants it back. It turns out that the money had somehow gotten buried in the spare tire well of their patrol car's trunk. They admit that Daniels doesn't have any reason to believe them, as they couldn't even trust each other.
** Later, they're confronted with a similar situation, except with no possibility of discovery. They look at each other, nod, and start stuffing cash under their Kevlar vests.
** Carver later refers back to that ''incident'' -- and to other, ''worse'' moral lapses -- when he sadly tells Herc that "''It all matters. Everything we do.''" (Herc doesn't seem to get the point.)
* At the climax of ''Series/StargateSG1's'' PilotMovie, Teal'c, the First Prime of [[GodEmperor Apophis]], is about to execute hundreds of innocent captives at his god's command. Then O'Neill begs him;
-->'''O'Neill''': I can ''save'' these people! ''Help me!'' Help me.\\
'''Teal'c''': ''Many'' have said that! ''(Turns and fires on his fellow Serpent Guards, then throws O'Neill his weapon)'' But you are the first I believe could do it!
** A pretty impressive case, as his authority was second only to his god's, he's committed ''genocide'' - '''repeatedly''' - in his god's name, he had a wife and son, and he's betrayed them all in order for a single moment of rebellion. O'Neill is pretty cool about it.
--->'''O'Neill''': Hey, come on!\\
'''Teal'c''': ...I have nowhere to go.\\
'''O'Neill''': For this you can stay at my place, let's go!
* ''Series/BlakesSeven''. Being the cynical self-serving AntiHero that he is, Avon finds himself in this situation several times. In "Horizon" the others have teleported down to a planet and been captured, leaving Avon in sole charge of both the [[CoolStarship Liberator]] and [[MagicalComputer Orac]] with an incoming Federation flotilla providing the perfect excuse to flee. He does a BigDamnHeroes instead. In "Countdown", Avon risks his life to defuse a DoomsdayDevice [[RaceAgainstTheClock ticking down the last seconds]] instead of teleporting out of there. Then brutally deconstructed in "Orbit" when Avon tries to have Vila ThrownOutTheAirlock in a ColdEquation situation.


* Music/{{Hadestown}} has a few songs about this, but "Hey Little Songbird" and "When The Chips Are Down" probably fit the trope best
--> ''See, people get mean when the chips are down...''
* Referenced in Music/WithinTemptation's ''Utopia'', suggesting a less favourable view of humanity;
--> ''Why does it rain, rain, rain down on Utopia?''
--> ''And when the lights die down, telling us who we are''.
** The music video plays a straight example in the final chorus; after spending the rest of the video watching tragedies and crimes unfold around him, the point-of-view character stops a child from running into the street after his toy and getting hit by a truck. The child's mother, too distracted by her phone, never notices the peril or the rescue.
* The Music/PatGreen song "In The Middle Of The Night" is a combination of this trope and struggling with alcoholism:
--> ''When you finally hit rock bottom,''
--> ''Will you do what's wrong or right?''
--> ''You're gonna find out what you're made of...''
--> ''In the middle of the night.''
* "I'm Looking Through You" by Music/TheBeatles from ''Music/RubberSoul''.
--> ''You're thinking of me, the same old way''
--> ''You were above me, but not today''
--> ''The only difference is you're down there''
--> ''I'm looking through you, and you're nowhere''
* "Right Through You" by Music/AlanisMorissette from ''Music/JaggedLittlePill'', directed at a "Mr. Man", about whom she claims: "I see right through you".
* Music/BillyJoel wrote "The Stranger" about this trope, specifically its implications in romance. Do you really know your partner?

[[folder: Religion and Mythology ]]
* A corrupt official in ancient China once went to a more scrupulous one to talk him into something unethical. "Nobody will ever know!" says the corrupt one. The scrupulous one disagrees: "Heaven knows. Earth knows. You know. I know."
* The entire point of [[OlderThanFeudalism Plato's]] [[Literature/TheRepublic story about the Ring of Gyges]] is that ''no one'' can pass this test. If equipped with a magical ring that gives invisibility (and thus freedom from consequence), Plato believed that anyone would act purely in his own self-interest.
* A man wants to steal some wheat from his neighbors, so he goes out one night, taking his [[ChildrenAreInnocent young daughter]] with him to keep a lookout. He goes around from field to field, cutting a little here and a little there, and now and then his daughter calls out, "Father, someone sees you!" -- but each time when he looks up, they're alone. Finally he asks why she keeps saying that, and she replies, "Someone sees you from above."
* There's a joke about a robber breaking into a house when someone says: "Stop it! I'm warning you: Jesus is watching you!". Turns out it's the family [[PollyWantsAMicrophone parrot]]. It introduces itself as Moses, which makes the robber laugh and wonder, "What kind of idiots would name a parrot Moses?" [[spoiler:"The same people who call a rottweiler 'Jesus'"]] answers the parrot.
* Literature/TheBible knows human nature well.
** Colossians instructs slaves and employees to do the work they're meant to do at all times, not only when their earthly masters' eye's are on you.
** Jesus expresses the corollary of this in Matthew 6:2.
--->''"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full."''
** Genisis 39:9 Joseph to Potiphar's Wife (who's trying to seduce him): "No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?"
* Nobody knew that Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin, was a disciple of Jesus. Revealing himself would invite scorn (and possibly worse) from his peers, and the guy he followed had just been crucified. Yet he decided to give Jesus a [[DueToTheDead honorable burial]] anyways, in his own tomb.
** Another OlderThanPrint example is this 13th century Middle Dutch rhyme:
--->''Als du wel does so swigher of'' ("If you do [something] good, don't speak of it.")
--->''Dus saltu hebben ghoden lof'' ("Then you will have God's praise.")
** Of course, one of the main reasons the Bible teaches one to act in such a way is because when you're dealing with omniscient, omnipresent God, you are ''never'' in the dark.

[[folder: Tabletop Games]]
* In an unusually literal use of this trope, ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' has taken to specifically encouraging the GM to have the lights go out at some point during the mission (easily justified due to Alpha Complex's perennial state of disrepair), preferably after the [[PlayerCharacters PCs]] have had time to build up grudges and conflicting goals.

* ''Theatre/{{Wicked}}'': [[spoiler:The Wizard]] gives Elphaba a choice: live comfortably and as a celebrated hero, what she had dreamed of since she was a girl... or work to help [[FantasticRacism the Animals]]. Cue [[SugarWiki/AwesomeMusic Defying Gravity]], her IAmBecomingSong. She gets this twice, and considers it the second time [[spoiler:until [[TheMentor Dr. Dillamond]] shows up.]]
* In Creator/WilliamShakespeare's ''Theatre/TroilusAndCressida'', there's a scene where Hector kills someone for his armor; it's that kind of play, even ''Hector'' is good only when people are watching.
* ''Theatre/LesMiserables'':
** The song "Who Am I?": Valjean could easily let another man hang in his place, freeing him from worry about Javert forever and no one would ever know. But he'll know, and God will know, so he stops the execution and reveals himself, forcing him to disrupt his now peaceful and productive life to go back on the run from the law.
** When Valjean is given the duty of executing Javert as a spy. He could easily kill the only man who knows him personally enough to track him down -- but without even ''thinking'' about it this time, he fakes Javert's execution and lets him go free, giving him his address for good measure so the two of them can settle things later. [[spoiler: Javert's inability to understand Valjean's morality ends up [[DrivenToSuicide driving him to suicide.]]]]
* In ''Theatre/IntoTheWoods'', when the Baker's wife and the Prince have a romantic encounter in the woods, he tells her that "Right and wrong don't matter in the woods. Only feelings." After the deed goes down, she spends the rest of the song wrestling with her conscience before finally rationalizing it.

[[folder: Video Games ]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Anachronox}}'' has a recursion. This trope is played straight on party member. Player can miss it, being normally too genre savvy and desensitised to think the game has had variety to offer. Thus, this trope gets played on the player as well. In Rho's [[spoiler: specific part after freeing Paco, a native tribal elder figure tasks you with finding four golden leaves of ritualistic value to proceed.]] Options are numerous. [[spoiler:You find some lying around or growing on plants, collect silver as well to exchange for gold, collect berries to exchange for leaves, refuse giving up what you found for charity. But you just can't get four unless you steal some, and/or unless you spoof some unripe berries for ripe (you are aware that unripe ones cause sickness).]] If you refrain from resorting to ill means and [[spoiler:naturally come up short, you can report back to note a dialogue option that you "can't find any more."It gets accepted! You proceed.]] Once out of the gate, you won't find a difference in the rest of the game.
* ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'' series frequently provides opportunities of this nature for the player. Perhaps you find yourself alone in the home of an elderly widow and her life savings are sitting there unguarded... or maybe you run into a lone traveling merchant out in the wilderness... no one would ever know. Plays into VideoGameCrueltyPotential and KleptomaniacHero significantly.
* In ''VideoGame/GrandiaII'', Ryudo is sent to prove his worth to become the next super-powered-being to defeat the [[DarkIsNotEvil 'evil Valmar']]. Along the road he is questioned and every answer he gives is twisted to be perceived as a selfish desire. The next shot has him in darkness transformed into a demon with a voice telling him to embrace it. However thanks to the ThePowerOfFriendship he's freed and ends up with the sword to defeat evil.
* In ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights'', the canonical PlayerCharacter fought hard to prevent [[spoiler:Aribeth]]'s execution, despite the fact that the entire leadership of the city was arrayed against him and [[spoiler:Aribeth]]'s [[DespairEventHorizon state of mind]] made her believe she ''deserved'' it.
* In ''VideoGame/BetrayalAtKrondor'', the dark elf Gorath's initial act of joining the humans to prevent the war his people are planning against them qualifies. He knows in advance that it will strip him of his rank as chieftain, that his own people and what remains of his friends and family won't consider him anything more than a traitor and a coward for thinking of cooperating with humans, and the humans themselves will at best distrust him and at worst have him deliver his message on a rack. [[HeroicSpirit He goes anyway.]]
* From the ''Franchise/ShinMegamiTenseiPersona'' series:
** In ''Videogame/{{Persona 3}}'', during the month of December the PlayerCharacter and party are asked to decide whether to [[spoiler:try to fight against the supposedly unstoppable EndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt]], or to [[spoiler:kill Ryoji, the avatar of the embodiment of death, which still won't prevent the Fall but will erase their memories of everything related to it and thus allow them to live out their remaining few months in peace, unaware of what's coming.]] Each party member separately resolves for themselves that they'd rather fight, but the ultimate choice comes down to the protagonist, and if you choose to go against the rest of the party's decision and [[spoiler:kill Ryoji]], nobody will ever even remember that it was an issue. [[spoiler:Unsurprisingly, doing so leads to the game's BadEnding.]]
** In ''VideoGame/{{Persona 4}}'', a crucial decision late in the game is centered around this. [[spoiler:A loved one has just passed away and you and your friends are in the same room with the person responsible. You have the option of [[ItMakesSenseInContext murdering him by throwing him into the TV]], with the knowledge that no one would ever find out that you were the ones who did it. Of course, just like in ''VideoGame/{{Persona 3}}'', this leads to the bad ending. Instead, it's staying true to your principles (you ''are'' the Investigation Team, and you ''swore'' to get to the bottom of the case and find the real culprit) that puts you on the road to the good ending]].
** ''VideoGame/{{Persona 5}}'': The Shadows selves in the hidden MentalWorld of the Palace represent the twisted secret feelings of the respective adults you target. Similarly, when characters' Persona first awaken, they encourage their other selves to ignore society's expectations and unleash their true rage / vengeance / etc. on those who have wronged them.
** On a darker note in ''Persona 5'', [[spoiler:BigBad Yaldaboath gives the protagonist a choice near the end: continue to fight back against a god who has already written him out of existance once, or join forces with Yaldaboath and use the Metaverse to control the world. Doing the latter gets you an ending in which the protagonist has become a KnightTemplar ruling Tokyo through fear and brainwashing, while rejecting Yaldaboath's offer lets you save your friends and the world. It's implied that the hero rejects the offer on principle; he's not going to go back on everything he's done and become the monster he's been fighting for any reason.]]
* Coldly discussed by [[TheDon Tayama]] in ''VideoGame/ShinMegamiTenseiIV''. To him, humans are so weak, ''no one'' ever chooses the higher moral option in the dark. This means he views his totalitarian regime, backed by {{Yakuza}}, as entirely in everyone's best interests; by forcing everyone to cooperate to help each other, even in the face of the monstruous acts he and his organization commit, he is indeed improving the life of ''everyone''.
* In ''VideoGame/SplinterCellChaosTheory'', Sam Fisher is tasked with destroying the wreckage of a downed US plane by calling in an air strike in order to prevent sensitive information from falling into enemy hands. He has the choice whether to spend precious time carrying the two unconscious pilots to a safe distance first or not, and doing so causes a new guard to spawn and happen upon him at a very inopportune moment (as when carrying a person Fisher cannot use any of his weapons). However, if he chooses to do so anyway he is confronted with this trope by his superior.
--> '''Lambert:''' You don't even exist Fisher, you can't get a medal for this.
--> '''Fisher:''' Medals don't help me sleep at night.
* In ''VideoGame/ThiefDeadlyShadows'', at the end of one level, you find a secret stash of gold left by late Captain Moira for his wife. It's a pretty penny and you don't get any penalties later in the game for taking it. In fact, your only deterrent is a brief popup message "Mrs. Moira needs that money to survive" but logic tells you that she probably won't find the stash in her current condition anyway (you meet her earlier in the level: she is [[BrokenBird utterly broken by grief]]). So, that's the point where you learn what ''you'' are in the dark. Garrett doesn't make any comments either way.
** Sadly the loot requirement on the highest difficulty level makes completing the mission impossible without taking the gold.
** There is a ''minor'' deterrent to taking the loot: The following night, a thug loyal to the widow can be found skulking in front of the door to Garrett's apartment building, looking to avenge the theft. He's just another {{Mook}}, however, and not much of a threat.
* This is a big part of the ''VideoGame/QuestForGlory'' series of games:-
** Especially if you play as a paladin.
--->''And they ask, What is a Hero?
--->though the answer is very clear,
--->He is the one who faces danger
--->when the darkness hovers near.
--->He will face the fiercest foe
--->when another needs his aid.
--->He will dare to defy Death
--->even though he is afraid.
--->He works not just for glory,
--->and he does it not for gain.
--->But because he knows that others
--->will be spared a greater pain.''
** The second game was the part of the series where the designers introduced the tests of character. While some actions are obvious (don't kill the guy you're fighting just to get approval from the Eternal Order of Fighters), some are very much less so (while racing to save the world from the destructive power about to be unleashed and you successfully disarm the Dragon blocking your path, you can kill him and no one will ever know, and in fact will probably praise you for going as fast as possible...but you'll know that you killed an unarmed, helpless man). Later games made the choices a bit more obvious, but there are some surprisingly ambiguous decisions.
* Happens quite a lot in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'':
** In true keeping with this trope, there's never any real reward for being 'good' about it. Meanwhile, the reward for being evil is sometimes impressive...so, just how 'Grey' ARE you, Warden?
** [[spoiler: The Desire Demon possessing Connor.]] The wholly right and moral decision is to [[spoiler: refuse any deal and fight the demon/scare it into leaving for good.]] The only reward is some experience and whatever loot it drops. What do you get for [[spoiler: agreeing to the deal]]? The only chance to unlock [[spoiler: BloodMagic]]. And the only ones who would know either way are you [[spoiler: and the demon]]. Though in that case there is [[TakeAThirdOption another choice]]: if you have Master Coercion, you can [[spoiler: intimidate the demon into bribing you to let her leave without a fight]].
** Unlocking a class in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' permanently unlocks it for every playthrough regardless of the decision. There was nothing preventing you from unlocking it and then immediately resetting it and solving the quest in a different way.
** The game's most pivotal moment. [[spoiler: You find out that the Grey Warden who kills the Archdemon must die with it, but [[TokenEvilTeammate Morrigan]] privately offers a way out through DeusSexMachina, and absorbing the Archdemon's soul into the baby conceived. However, she refuses to tell you what she plans on doing with the child afterwards.]]
* ''VideoGame/MegaMan7'': Rock has beaten Dr. Wily again and Wily starts to beg like normal. However, by this point, Rock has had enough of Wily and remembers all the pain he caused the past six games. He begins to charge his buster and says he's going to do what he should have done years ago. Wily points out that robots can't harm a human being. While the US version has Rock declare he's more than a robot and looks like he'll do it until the fortress self destructs, the Japanese version has Rock pause long enough for the fortress to collapse.
* In ''[[VideoGame/DissidiaFinalFantasy Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy]]'', Kain Highwind is a morally ambiguous AntiHero who has spent the story up to the final tale killing off his allies (or as the game says, "[[NeverSayDie puts them to sleep]]") so that they'll be safe when the cycle of war begins again, rather than risk them fighting and dying against the new threat of the Manikins. Needless to say, no one is very pleased with him over this and several don't trust him even as he accompanies them to the portal the Manikins are coming from to help them close it. Along the way they're stopped by [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyV Exdeath]] and a group of Manikins and Kain stays behind to hold them off while the group continues on. In a bonus scene, Golbez approaches Kain afterwards and tells him that if he goes to join his friends in their LastStand, he'll die and no one will remember his bravery. Or he can stay behind now and live to the next cycle, and again no one will know. Kain goes to help them.
** Kain says "put them to sleep" because once everyone on one side dies, all deceased fighters are resurrected and the fight starts over. ''Unless you die fighting Manikins.''
* In ''[[VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic Knights Of The Old Republic II]]'', the Tomb of Ludo Kressh on Korriban is this for the Jedi Exile. She goes in there alone to face the demons from her past and relive the decisions she made during the Mandalorian Wars. She's also given a test: join her party members in killing her EvilMentor, or try to save that mentor from the dark side. If [[BystanderSyndrome she chooses not to interfere]], [[ApathyKilledTheCat they ''all'' turn on her]].
* ''Franchise/MassEffect'':
** ''VideoGame/MassEffect1'' gives this to the last survivors of its {{Precursors}}, the Protheans. The last dozen or so sapients in the entire galaxy work feverishly for decades to reprogram the Keepers, seemingly benevolent drones who are critical to the [[EldritchAbomination Reapers']] cycle of galactic extermination. Then they take a one-way trip to the Citadel, the key in the Reapers' trap and the center of galactic civilization. Without food, water, any ability to sustain a breeding population, or anyone to judge them, they faced a grim death from starvation so future generations of sapients could avert the disaster that destroyed their civilization. [[NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished And the Council denies their existence.]] But Shepard will kick ass, take names, go to hell and back and shake hands with the Illusive Man himself to make sure it was not in vain.
** The whole of ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' is like this, since 99.9% of the galaxy thinks Shepard is dead. Happens to Shepard him/herself in the ''Arrival'' {{DLC}}. You have a choice to warn the batarian colonists that they have to evacuate, or just contact the Normandy. The choice itself has no real consequences (the warning communication is blocked anyway), but at the time, Shepard could conceivably be sacrificing him/herself for three hundred thousand civilians. It's arguably even more poignant if Shepard is from [[DoomedHometown Mindoir]].
** Jacob lampshades this trope when telling Shepard about his proudest career moment, which the Alliance covered up for the sake of not inducing a panic. He's comfortable with it, though.
---> '''Jacob:''' Good deed's like pissing yourself in dark pants. Warm feeling, but no one notices.
** Jacob's father faced a situation ten years before the game that occurred in relative "dark". The ship he was serving on crashed into an unknown planet in the ass end of the galaxy, killing the Captain. Being the First Mate, Jacob's father took over, with the help of other officers of the ship. The short version is, it did not end well.
** ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' has this with the offer that the Salarian Dalatrass offers you regarding [[spoiler:curing the Genophage]]. However depending on which party members survived previous games, your decision can become public, with unfortunate consequences if you took the Renegade path.
** The end decision in ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' can be seen as this if [[spoiler: you pick the Destroy option and are implied to survive]]. After all, with [[spoiler: all artificial life in the galaxy destroyed, including EDI and the geth]], there's no one else alive who knows that Shepard was informed of the consequences of the action and did it anyway. The entire choice is very much WhatYouAreInTheDark: it's about which principle Shepard most wishes to uphold (or, conversely, is most loathe to throw away) when faced with an explicit choice and absolutely no oversight -- whether they most want to end the war cleanly, take control of the most powerful force in the galaxy, usher in a new and unforeseen era of existence, or go down spitting defiance to the last breath. Even better, you can justify each decision as the moral "Right" and "Wrong," so the decision is ''entirely'' up to you. Bioware doesn't tell you which one is right.
* In ''VideoGame/SpaceQuest I'', upon encountering the Sarien ship that massacred the Arcada's crew and has the ArtifactOfDoom that they are going to inflict on the galaxy. It's a massive ship full of hostile aliens, against one not-so-AlmightyJanitor. The pilot droid wisely suggests hauling tail. It's NonstandardGameOver if you take him up on it.
* In TheVeryDefinitelyFinalDungeon of ''VideoGame/PlanescapeTorment'' the party gets separated by the BigBad. He then approaches your companions, one by one in total darkness, and invites them [[LastChanceToQuit to flee and leave you there to die and lose your memory again]]. None of them stand a fighting chance against him. [[YouShallNotPass None of them budge]]. None of them live. [[spoiler:Except Morte, [[TakeAThirdOption who hides from him]].]] That is, provided you've been running through their dialogue and sidequests, and being a generally decent person to them. They ''will'' take that chance to go turncoat if you've been neglectful or a total jerk. So, in a sense, this serves as such a moment for the PC as well.
* Pablo tries this on whoever attacks him during his optional boss appearance in Chapter 13 of Eirika's route in ''VideoGame/FireEmblemTheSacredStones''.
--> '''Pablo''': I've got more money than you've ever seen! What say you? Join me, and take a seat of power at my side.
* Occurs in the flashbacks of ''VideoGame/LANoire''. After returning home from Okinawa, several Marines were upset when they saw stories that [[spoiler: Phelps was the LAPD's Golden Boy, and resolved that since they had been denied fame and fortune, they would take it by stealing the supplies on the boat they were returning on.]] One character notes that they can get away with it ''and'' do good, but another character (who they all respect) tells them that he will not stop them, but if they actually do it, they are dead to him. They fail the test.
* ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'': Reimu Hakurei has to take this in stride. Solving more prominent incidents like the Scarlet Mist (''Embodiment of Scarlet Devil''), vengeful geysers (''Subterranean Animism''), and the earthquakes (''Scarlet Weather Rhapsody'') are things she can probably make realistic claims about; but, in general, no one really knows about most of Reimu's efforts to keep the peace in Gensokyo and one of the two (known) reporters in Gensokyo tells her to her face that she has no concrete proof of any of her glories. ([[{{Jerkass}} Her grouchy attitude when she's off solving incidents doesn't help matters, either.)]] Hakurei Shrine getting no visiting worshipers is ''canon''.
** In a tongue-in-cheek sort of way, the fan-made list of Touhou games described as atrocities caused by Reimu lampshades this problem.
* ''VideoGame/TheBardsTale'' has this for the ending, where [[spoiler:the Evil ending where he sides with the Demon Queen to enslave the world is the Bard's personal happy ending while the Good ending has him save the world but starting back where he was at the beginning as a poor conman.]] Alternatively, he can just [[ScrewThisImOuttaHere walk away]] and party with the zombies.
* ''VideoGame/StarTrekOnline'' has the mission Operation Gamma, where [[spoiler:your player captain is abandoned to die by a Ferengi captain who was supposed to guide you to the Dominion, only for her to end up fleeing right into the arms of a Dominion force. When your ship arrives, the Vorta in charge of that force declares that by their logic they should kill you both for trespassing, but since you'd actually been looking for them in the first place, he offers to help you -- if ''you'' kill her]]. The mission progresses either way with only a slight difference in NPC dialogue, but if you [[spoiler:kill her, the Vorta declares]], "Now I see what kind of officer you are..."
* In Hajime Saito's route in ''VideoGame/{{Hakuouki}}'', the trope plays out complete with stock dialogue in a confrontation between Saito and Kazama. Saito is hopelessly outmatched and grievously wounded, and Chizuru tries to save him by turning herself over to Kazama, who smugly suggests that Saito can tell his superiors that he tried to protect Chizuru but was overpowered. Saito retorts that ''he'' would know, and that he doesn't surrender to anyone.
* ''VideoGame/FTLFasterThanLight'' doesn't have an explicit KarmaMeter, but many events will test your morality. Do you take the bribe of a pirate and let him go after some ship, or do you take him on? When a slaver offers gifts in exchange for [[VillainsWantMercy letting them live]], do you accept and let him live to continue his dirty work, or do you finish the job? Do you help when asked for it, even if it may cost you health, ammo or crew? There's no one around who will judge you, only your conscience. Choose, skipper.
** Doesn't apply nearly as much if you're in no shape to fight, however. A choice between [[StupidGood "die, and let pirates and slavers continue"]] or [[PragmaticVillainy "take a bribe, and let pirates and slavers continue"]] [[MortonsFork really isn't a choice.]]
* During the final part of ''VideoGame/GrimFandango'' the protagonist, Manny Calavera, finds himself alone at the Number Nine train station, where he can approach the Tunnel to the Ninth Underworld. He briefly muses that he could just walk through it (which he technically has the right to do at this point - his adventures do count towards the four-year journey that the less "saintly" souls must complete before they can leave the Land of the Dead). However, he promptly refuses to do this, because there are still other souls in need of his help. Considering that getting out of the Land of the Dead was Manny's initial goal (a goal he was willing to achieve by ''stealing a client from a fellow Reaper'', which is how the whole mess started), that indicates a pretty strong CharacterDevelopment.
** In an odd variation, Manny ''receives'' a Golden Ticket for the Number Nine as reward for services rendered - though he no longer needs one.
* In ''VideoGame/TheSims 3,'' if your character is in the political career track, he/she can choose to steal funds from the campaign fund when given the opportunity. You will not get caught.
* A recurring element in the ''VideoGame/{{Deponia}}'' series.
** In the first installment, Rufus is given the option to [[spoiler:take over Cletus' life, including Goal]]. Instead, he decides to [[spoiler:save a planet full of trash and people who hate him]].
** In ''Chaos on Deponia,'' [[spoiler:Rufus owns up to a major lie, knowing he might lose Goal by doing so.]]
** Comes to a head in the finale of ''Goodbye, Deponia'', where [[spoiler:in order to prevent Goal from dying and make sure Elysium is informed that people are still living on Deponia, Rufus claims to be Cletus, justifying it by going on about how selfish and unchanging Rufus is, and finally dropping from the highboat and falling to his death.]]
* This is a major theme in ''VideoGame/TheWalkingDead''. In a zombie apocalypse, your morality becomes one of the last shreds of your humanity, even with no one left to keep score. On the other hand, [[BeingGoodSucks being righteous may cost you your life and the lives of your companions.]] Decisions are timed. You have five seconds to weigh the implications.
** For reference, [[http://venturebeat.com/2012/08/15/telltale-games-the-walking-dead-statistics-trailer/ an article]] reports that the majority of players try to do the right thing, even if it makes less sense from a logical perspective. They also report on subtle decisions, such as players stopping an action once they're being watched.
* In ''VideoGame/TheGodfather II'', the sidequest targets you can choose include both scum who deserve some PayEvilUntoEvil and good or otherwise normal people who the questgiver wants harmed. There's no explicit KarmaMeter or ingame consequences, though, and no one will comment on whether you choose to play the VigilanteMan, be the villain or do some mix of the two because ItAmusedMe. All up to your conscience, ''signor''.
* Shown during a cutscene following the final heist in ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoV''. [[spoiler: The armoured car driver they threatened into assisting with the heist has to be dealt with. Trevor, of course, wants to shoot him because he knows too much. Michael tosses him a bar of gold, pointing out that if he takes it, he's now part of the robbery and has as much to lose as the actual thieves, so it's in his best interest to keep his mouth shut. The guard takes the gold.]]
* This trope could very well be the CentralTheme for ''{{VideoGame/Dishonored}}''. [[TheTrickster The Outsider]] gives selected individuals his [[PowerTattoo mark]] and lets them do as they please with the new powers they have. Most people are shown to use their powers for self-gain, and becoming deeply corrupt and insane as a result. Corvo gets the mark early on, and it's up to the player to either use his powers to easily cut a swath across the city and murder all of his targets...or to hold back and preserve as many lives as possible. Doing the former will inevitably lead to the downfall of Dunwall. This plays into the Daud DLC as well, with The Outsider even saying that no one but him will ever know the story of how the Knife of Dunwall stopped the Brigmore Witches from [[spoiler:possessing Emily]].
** This theme extends beyond the Outsider's marked. Pretty much every character in the game goes through their own tests of character, from the Lord Regent to Admiral Havelock. Most of them fail.
* A major theme and gameplay mechanic in ''VideoGame/PapersPlease''. Do you go about your job and assess the passports of the people trying to get into Arstotzka to the best of your ability in order to pay rent and support your family, or do you try to show sympathy to the prospective entrants and bend the rules where possible, even though doing so will incur punishments? Or even worse, do you have as many people arrested by the security guards as possible, given that doing so carries significant financial incentives?
* Like its inspirations ''Literature/HeartOfDarkness'' and ''Film/ApocalypseNow'', ''VideoGame/SpecOpsTheLine'' is in large part an examination of how ordinary people behave when the civilizing influence of orderly society is absent. The game goes a step further by drawing an implicit comparison between how the average person would act in such a situation, and how a typical gamer behaves while playing a shooter.
%%* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics'', everything Ramza does after [[spoiler:the church branded him as a heretic]].
* Occurs at the end of ''VideoGame/{{Bastion}}'', when The Kid is deep in hostile Ura territory, and not even Rucks the narrator knows what he's up to. [[spoiler:When he finally obtains the final shard needed to power the Bastion, he runs into Zulf, who sold him and his friends out to the Ura, getting beaten to death by his former partners-in-crime for bringing The Kid there. The player then has the option to either leave Zulf to die and take on one final squad of Ura archers with the [[InfinityPlusOneSword Battering Ram]], or abandon the Battering Ram to carry Zulf to safety, leaving him utterly defenseless against the aforementioned squad.]]
* In the game ''Videogame/InjusticeGodsAmongUs'', we see alternate dimension Superman have the choice of killing Joker for causing the deaths of Lois Lane and his unborn son, or let him live. [[spoiler: He chooses to kill the Joker, leading him to believe that killing villains will solve the world's problems. He later kills other superheroes who begin disagreeing with him, crossing the MoralEventHorizon.]]
* The entire plot of ''Videogame/LifeIsStrange'' is hinged on this. In episode 1, Chrysalis, [[spoiler: you have the choice of reporting Nathan, an extremely wealthy boy whose family practically own the school, twice, though both decisions may not work favorably to Max]]. Other minor decisions can also be made, [[spoiler: like whether to prevent a girl from being hit in the head]].
* Kyuu faces this choice in Chapter 5 of ''VideoGame/RakenzarnTales''. He can either stay home and forget about this adventure or go back to Rakenzarn and save everyone inside. No points for guessing which leads to the Bad Ending.
* This combined with SaveScumming is [[PlayingWithATrope played with]] in ''VideoGame/{{Undertale}}''. It an especially meta example since no one is ''offering'' to let you undo mistakes by resetting (like [[spoiler: killing Toriel when you were trying to spare her]]); it's just a convention of games that have save points. Do so, however, and Flowey will [[TheReasonYouSuckSpeech chew you out over it]], showing that you weren't really alone when you made that choice, and even if no one else remembers it, [[RippleEffectProofMemory the two of you will.]]
* In ''VideoGame/StarcraftIIHeartOfTheSwarm'', Kerrigan could have easily let her [[HordeOfAlienLocusts zerg swarm]] kill [[spoiler: the wounded Dominion soldiers that were retreating from Char after she herself had just killed [[GeneralBadass General Warfield]]. Kerrigan could have easily justified it as not leaving anything to chance (which wouldn't be unprecedented for her since she had previously murdered the entire crew of a Protoss warship for the sake of survival). Sure Warfield had told her that the wounded soldiers would not pose anymore threat to her, but it's not exactly easy to just trust the word of an enemy commander. However, she instead chose to stop the pursuit of the wounded soldiers, allowing them to live. This action reflected Kerrigan's CharacterDevelopment from a VillainProtagonist who only cares about her RoaringRampageOfRevenge into [[AntiHero someone more heroic]].]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{Overwatch}}'' comic ''A Better World'', Symmetra watched at how far her company Vishkar would go to attain dominion over Rio. She has tried as much as she can to subvert their orders within their surveillance, such as her anti-killing policy, and she'd still let Vishkar know that. But the moment she saw the girl she just befriended in danger of dying from the fire, she proceeded to save her life even when it's more convenient and in-line with Vishkar's KnightTemplar zealotry to just leave her to die. Nobody, not even Vishkar knows this, except that little girl, who's ambiguous in either hating her or still believing her out of gratitude. And hell, the world wouldn't know either, to them and especially [[ArchEnemy Lucio]], Symmetra would be just a Vishkar cheerleader/golden girl that embodies all its qualities and corruptions (especially the latter) and she would act accordingly to its image of trying to support Vishkar and harassing its oppositions, but the event is considered the definitive reason why Symmetra is ''the'' TokenGoodTeammate and NobleTopEnforcer of Vishkar instead of being the same as her co-workers.
* The final sequence of Ending E in ''VideoGame/NierAutomata'' gives the player a choice in this regard: [[spoiler:You've just beaten an incredibly hard MiniGameCredits to finally get a glimmer of hope in the game's world after everything has gone to hell, and chances are you likely did it with help you accepted from other players online after you died too many times to the minigame. Pod 042 reveals that the reason that those players were able to help you was that [[HeroicSacrifice they sacrificed their game's save data after beating the game to give help to some other random person trying to win, i.e. you.]] You are then given the choice to do so or not. No one will likely ever know who you are, since you're just a random anonymous name among the thousands in the network; the only satisfaction you will likely get from doing so is your own personal conscience.]]
* ''VideoGame/DeadRising4'' takes place 15 years after the original Mall outbreak and features Frank West, now in his 50s, who is no longer the decided and eager reporter looking to break important stories to help mankind, but a [[StoppedCaring cynical, angry, and disillusioned]] school teacher who no longer believes in doing that right thing, but doing what it takes to survive. This is because of the years he watched as evil people and groups got away with causing the outbreak without any punishment. [[spoiler: After a student of his talks him into investigating another conspiracy dealing with the zombie virus, he slowly gets his passion he once lost back, and by the end of the game, once again becomes the Frank West who cares again.]]
* Happens toward the end of ''VideoGame/{{Cuphead}}''. [[spoiler:When Cuphead and Mugman finally face the Devil in the final level, they are given the choice to hand over the soul contracts they collected from defeating every boss to the Devil and join his side. Now, Cuphead and Mugman owe nothing to these bosses who were probably not very good people, and they would benefit greatly by becoming the Devil's henchmen, but refusing the Devil's offer leads to the brothers instead burning all the contracts and saving all the bosses from having their souls taken away.]]

[[folder: Web Animation]]
* ''WebAnimation/{{RWBY}}'':
** Cardin bullies Jaune then blackmails him upon finding out Jaune faked his way into Beacon due to having no combat training. When he uses Jaune to target JNPR, Jaune refuses to throw sap onto Pyrrha (which would make her a target for Rapier Wasps) and tosses it at Cardin, despite being outnumbered four-to-one. When an [[BearsAreBadNews ursa]] attacks Cardin for the sap, Cardin's friends run away. Instead of running, Jaune jumps in to save Cardin despite his lack of combat training. Although Pyrrha, Ruby and Weiss witness this, Cardin and Jaune had no idea they were there.
** Blake undergoes this in her trailer. [[YourTerroristsAreOurFreedomFighters She and Adam]] are attacking a Schnee supply train. Adam orders her to destroy the train. When she points out that will kill the humans on it, Adam doesn't care. Blake turns her back on Adam and decouples the train (saving the humans), abandoning the mission and severing her ties to the White Fang.
* ''[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUlg8Y_mLfA&index=8 The Reward: Tales of Alethrion]]'' ends with the titular character [[SealedEvilInACan sealing away a demonic version of himself]] at the cost of his life with no one, including his LoveInterest ever learning he was anything but a heartless mercenary OnlyInItForTheMoney.

[[folder: Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/TheWhiteboard'', "Rainman" turns himself in when he gets marked during a tourney, thinking ''[[http://www.the-whiteboard.com/autowb360.html Integrity means doing what's right, even if nobody is looking]]'', even though none of the referees shown to be on the field at the time would have seen him do it.
* In an arc in ''Webcomic/{{Fans}}'', Jesse was revealed to be [[TheMole Jesspin]], secretly loyal to the time-traveling conqueror General Maximiliana. But "Jesse" is still his core personality, and while Jesspin is imprisoned by AEGIS, "Jesse" is secretly using Jesspin's mind and body to further Rikk Oberf's plans for the future. When Jesspin tells "Jesse" that no one will know he isn't a traitor, "Jesse" smiles and says, "That's what will make this fun. I do my best work in the dark."
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'':
** Belkar Bitterleaf sort of has one of these [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0435.html here.]] He saved Hinjo in the end, but only because he might not be able to kill people later otherwise. This nets him good karma as he soon gets a horde of goblins to murdalize.
** Also, when [[spoiler: Vaarsuvius]] accepts a DealWithTheDevil, the devils (more accurately "fiends") in question state that there might some alignment-related feedback (in other words, making the character more evil than otherwise would be normal). It turns out that the fiends lied, that the effects of soul-splice on the characters alignment are little more than cheerleaders in terms of alignment-change, and that all of the actions taken were all naturally thought of and committed by the character. They aptly describe it as giving someone a drink and telling them it's alcoholic when it really isn't, and the person behaves drunk because they think it's alcoholic, but they weren't drunk at all in the first place.
*** Just to drive the point further, before they even take the deal, the Fiends point out there's a way for [[spoiler: V to save their family]] without owing them a single thing. The only catch is that it involves other people (some of whom [[spoiler: Vaarsuvius]] has just had a massive falling out with) doing all the actual work, and wouldn't even be able to claim credit for the idea. But hey, "We won't tell anyone there was another way to save [[spoiler: your children]] if you don't."
** V's [[spoiler: rescue of O-Chul qualifies.]] Vaarsuvius is heavily injured, nearly out of spells, and completely out of their league, against [[spoiler: Xykon, an Epic-level sorcerer and the Big Bad.]] V turns invisible and means to escape through a hole in the wall, one Feather Fall away from safety... Nobody could possibly know or blame the elf for escaping in that situation, but V instead chooses to [[spoiler: go back and help O-Chul instead, rather than abandoning yet another person to their death.]] It is a very poignant and touching moment — an important first step to redemption — after everything Vaarsuvius has done.
* Webcomic/SluggyFreelance: Torg is trapped in the basement with a demon who is ordered to kill him. But the demon is trapped under rubble. Torg could wait until morning, at which point the demon will automatically return home, but when she stops responding to his questions, he pries loose the rubble to save her.
-->[[http://sluggy.com/comics/archives/daily/011030 "Shut up Wilson"]].
* Susan from ''{{Webcomic/Sire}}'' delivers [[http://sire.smackjeeves.com/comics/720439/chapter-2-page-7/ quite the speech to Anna]] after murdering their uncle. They are the same person. If Anna didn't want it to happen than Susan wouldn't have done it.
* In ''Webcomic/{{Freefall}}'', the police chief expressed the opinion that behaving well to be a good example to robots might be so habit forming that they will behave well even when no one is looking, in time.
* [[spoiler: Rachel]] from ''Webcomic/TowerOfGod'' is given the opportunity of climbing the Tower as long as she plays part in the conspiracy that requires [[spoiler: Baam to die. When they are alone and Baam once again states he wants to be with her, she pushes him off the platform.]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* ''WebVideo/ImAMarvelAndImADC'' has Superman go through this in "After Hours". [[spoiler: Either he can do nothing to stop Lex, resulting in a world with no major competing comics, or he can stay trapped in a pocket dimension forever. Anybody remotely familiar with Superman knows what he picks. [[ResetButton Thankfully, his choice's results...]]]]
* In ''Literature/{{Anachronauts}}'', a genie tempts each of the members of the titular team with just such a temptation, as one might expect.
* ''Literature/{{Worm}}''. [[TheFettered Taylor]] has the power to control bugs, [[SuperpowerLottery that's it]]. [[spoiler:[[NighInvulnerability Levia]][[TheJuggernaut than]] has just shrugged off many of the strongest parahumans in the setting and is now attacking a shelter full of civilians. Nobody else is around and her tracker is broken. She's heavily injured, already [[NotEvilJustMisunderstood considered]] a villain and the civilians include a [[AdultsAreUseless teacher]] who stood by as her life was made [[TheBully a living hell]]. [[ForegoneConclusion What does]] [[DidYouJustFlipOffCthulhu she do?]]]]
* In the final episode of ''[[Machinima/FreemansMind Shephard's Mind]]'', Shephard admits to himself that he'll most likely never escape Black Mesa, and nobody would ever know what he did, much less be aware he even existed. But despite that, he's going to take as many aliens down with him as possible.
* In ''WebVideo/ToBoldlyFlee'', WebVideo/TheNostalgiaCritic [[spoiler:sacrifices himself to both allow his friend's spirit to be at peace and also to bring stability to the PlotHole]]. The only other people who know what he has done are WebVideo/FilmBrain, [[spoiler:the WebVideo/AngryVideoGameNerd, and the Writer]].
* After being held captive by a family who kept feeding him muscle relaxants and making him rewatch his old movies (including one he shot while getting the news [[spoiler: that his mother had committed suicide]]), Donnie [=DuPre=] from WebVideo/DemoReel refuses to hurt them or become like them, and only twitchily mentions his experience in passing to his friends.
* The members of the ''Blog/KnightsOfFandom'' each promise to never use the anonymity of the internet to hurt other people. However, ''because'' of said anonymity, there is no way for the organization to actually police its members. The operation relies entirely on the integrity of the individual members.
* ''Literature/ThreeWorldsCollide'' has an extreme example of this. In the epilogue, the crew of the ''Impossible Possible World'' is nine minutes away from [[spoiler: being utterly annihilated by a supernova]]. Nothing they can do can possibly have any consequences on anything outside that tiny area of time and space. This is ''heavily'' lampshaded; half of the chapter is about them coming to grips with that reality.
-->"Ah," the Master of Fandom said, "so I guess this is when we find out who we really are." He paused for a moment, then shrugged. "I don't seem to be anyone in particular. Oh well."
* In ''Literature/{{Twig}}'', Sylvester is holding a hostage at gunpoint after having previously determined that he needs to LeaveNoWitnesses in order to keep Mary safe from reprisal attacks after they've [[spoiler:killed [[TheCaligula the Baron Richmond]]]], but realizes that he doesn't ''want'' to kill an innocent, and (with the help of a [[MoralityChainBeyondTheGrave hallucinatory Jamie]]) instead goes to considerable lengths to keep his hostages alive, even though it creates complications.

[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* On ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad'', Roger invokes this to be a jerk to Steve after Steve, who had repeatedly masturbated with a portrait of a nude woman Roger painted, learned that the portrait was of Hailey (her face was obscured in the painting). Steve freaks out and rationalizes that only he, Roger, and Hailey know, and Roger states that both God and ''Creator/JamesDoohan'' saw, and that the only way to make it right is to kill himself.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Archer}}'' has a parody of this, when Pam is desperately trying to get someone (''anyone'') in the office to have sex with her. She actually uses the words "Nobody will know", even if she's got a dolphin puppet on her hand while saying it. Needless to say, Brett, the man she propositions, turns her down (he uses the "I'll know" response.) Even more ironic considering in the same episode, he paid Lana $600 simply to brag about having sex with her, not actually doing the deed.
** Additionally, Pam is the biggest gossip in the office. Any piece of information that comes through her ears spreads faster than the common cold through a kindergarten class. And yes, she's [=ISIS=]'s HR rep, meaning that her job role is ''keeping everyone's embarrassing personal information.''
* Halfway through the last season of ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', Zuko has finally gotten everything he ''said'' he wanted; he's Prince of the Fire Nation again, he's wealthy and respected, he has his father's praise, he even has a girl he loves. Then, [[spoiler:he finds out his father is about to ''kill an entire continent and SaltTheEarth.'' He immediately flees the capitol with nothing but the clothes on his back, throwing himself on the heroes' mercy because he can't abide it, knowing full well that they're ''really'' pissed at him; he ''[[LiteralMetaphor literally]]'' chased them clear across the world, made a global catastrophe possible that a dear friend of the heroes had to make a HeroicSacrifice to stop, then threw their previous offer of redemption in their face and ''got TheMessiah killed''([[BackFromTheDead temporarily]]). They're not ''too'' harsh on him; they throw him out again and ignore him until he helps save them from an assassin... that he hired earlier]]. [[HeroWithAnFInGood Yeah]].
* In an episode of ''WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom'', Danny foils some minions attempt to steal jewelry from a store, but when they take off, all the security guards see is him holding the loot. When he leaves, one guard says to the other, "You want to keep this stuff and blame the ghost boy?" The other just sighs and says, "You're under arrest."
* Parodied in ''WesternAnimation/TheDoverBoys'', with Dan Backslide's quote.
-->'''Dan Backslide:''' A runabout! I'LL STEAL IT! '''[[NoIndoorVoice NO ONE]]''' '''[[WithCatlikeTread WILL EVER KNOW!]]'''
* In the ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' episode "The Inhuman Torch", Bender is accused of starting fires in order to put them out and look like a hero, but it was actually started by a fire creature from the sun (whom Bender names Flamo). In order to keep Flamo from burning the Earth into a small star, Bender takes it to the Arctic Circle, where no one will find him, know about the fate he spared them from, and most importantly, [[HiddenHeartOfGold he won't be hailed as a hero.]]
* In the ''WesternAnimation/GoodVibes'' episode "Floatopia" Mondo declines sex with Jeena when she's too drunk to properly consent.
* ''WesternAnimation/HeyArnold'' gives us Helga Pataki, who's ostensibly a bully. However, in the Christmas episode, she gives up a pair of boots (that she wanted more than anything, and that her mother said "was the last pair in the city" and waited in line all day for them), to a man in exchange for him helping track down the daughter of Mr. Hyunh for Arnold. And Arnold has [[TheGreatestStoryNeverTold no idea it was her, no one knows she was the one who did it.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'':
** The episode [[Recap/JusticeLeagueUnlimitedS1E7TheGreatestStoryNeverTold "The Greatest Story Never Told"]], is this for Booster Gold, who has to deal with a black hole while the more prominent members are dealing with a bigger threat offscreen.
** Happens in the finale. After [[spoiler:Flash defeats Lexiac and vanishes into the Speed Force]], Luthor taunts the heroes that he did kill him after all. Superman picks him up by the neck and readies the laser vision. Wonder Woman starts to rush forward, but Batman holds her off.
---> [[spoiler:'''Superman:''' I'm not the man who killed President Luthor. Right now I wish to Heaven that I was, but I'm not.]]
*** That was definitely a BatmanGambit. Superman had been struggling throughout the arc with the actions of his alternate universe counterpart, while also dealng with the fallout of having been mind-controlled by Darkseid just before the start of the show (around the end of Superman the Animated series). Batman wanted to give Superman the chance to affirm his character. With the opportunity, Supes shows just how strong he truly is.
* In Season 1 of ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'', [[DaChief Lin]] [[IronLady Beifong]] is captured by the Equalists and brought to [[ArcVillain Amon]]. Amon offers to let her keep her Bending if she gives up Korra's location, and being as there are no heroes around Lin could easily come up with some story about escaping. Instead, Lin [[ShutUpHannibal all but spits in his face]] and accepts her fate with dignity.
* Janet of ''WesternAnimation/TheMagicSchoolBus'' ''fails'' this trope when she's alone in a room save for a bug (actually Miss Frizzle's class aboard the shrunken bus) and decides to gleefully sabotage the class's entry for a scent competition instead of playing fair. ''No one'' is happy with her and [[FanNickname the Frizz Kids]] beating her and subtly calling her out is perfectly LaserGuidedKarma.
* In ''WesternAnimation/MyLifeAsATeenageRobot'', Jenny encounters a sentient wind-up toy that, [[IneffectualSympatheticVillain while completely harmless as a villain]], [[TormentByAnnoyance annoys her to death]] with frequent demands to "SURRENDER!" Problem is, she can't attack him, because too many people find him cute. Jenny eventually catches Killgore at night, but finds she doesn't have it in heart to attack a helpless, if annoying, creature.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' episode "[[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS6E17TheTimesTheyAreAChangeling The Times They Are A Changeling"]], Thorax has been assumed to be evil by all the ponies, while Spike, his only friend, [[EtTuBrute abandoned him at a critical moment]]. When, later, Spike is in mortal danger and calls out for Thorax's help with nobody else around, he has a brief ThenLetMeBeEvil moment, asking Spike why, as an "evil changeling", he should do anything to help him. It only lasts a few seconds, though, and Thorax saves Spike even though nothing about the circumstances compels him to.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'':
** A uncompromisingly silly example: In "Marge Be Not Proud", Nelson, apparently in earnest, claims that shoplifting and ''punching someone in the dark'' are "[[NotCheatingUnlessYouGetCaught victimless crimes]]"
** "Treehouse Of Horror: XXI" has one of its stories based on a murder mystery. Marge and Homer are out in unexplored waters for a little honeymoon. [[ItMakesSenseInContext Through circumstances, Homer ends up killing a man he thought he previously killed, as well as several other passengers on The Albatross]]. Homer says that, with no witnesses of their crimes left, they can just return and keep on living. Marge gives off the line "We'll know" and eats the poisoned pie, because she cannot live with the guilt.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheSpectacularSpiderMan'', [[JerkJock Flash Thompson]] learns that during a football tournament his team won one of the players was taking a performance-enhancing drug. He's told that by that very player, in a one-on-one conversation, and he knows, that should the word get out, their championship (that he ruined his leg achieving and thus ruining a chance for a good scholarship) would be disqualified. The word still gets out... from Flash himself, because to him an unfair victory isn't worth much.
** Then there is, of course, Spider-Man confronting Uncle Ben's killer becoming this for the show. As seen in episode 12, Peter had a good chance to let the burglar fall to his death, but saved him because he knew [[MoralityChainBeyondTheGrave Uncle Ben wouldn't approve]].
** Later Spider-Man confronts Uncle Ben's killer again. He's The Cat, aka '''Black Cat's father.''' Black Cat was trying to break him out while Peter was there testing the prison's new security system at request from management since it was used to contain superhumans (though the system has been hijacked by Green Goblin, kickstarting the plot.) Mr. Hardy actually takes Spidey's place to fix the system and insists on staying, fully knowing what he did and to atone for his crimes (and possibly even knowing Spider-Man is Peter Parker.) Unfortunatley, this also strains Black Cat's relation with Spidey as she blames his influence for him staying in prison.
* ''WesternAnimation/StarWarsRebels'': In [[Recap/StarWarsRebelsS2E15TheHonorableOnes "The Honorable Ones"]], [[EnemyMine Zeb and Agent Kallus are stranded on an ice moon attempting to climb out of a cave up to the surface to be rescued]]. When some large predatory animals attack them, Zeb manages to get Kallus up to the safety of the surface. [[spoiler:Kallus finds Zeb's bo-rifle and realizes he has an opportunity to shoot Zeb, but after a moment's hesitation he opts to shoot the creature attacking Zeb instead.]]
* The ''WesternAnimation/StevenUniverse'' special [[Recap/StevenUniverseS3E20Bismuth "Bismuth"]] was this for Steven. After defending himself from [[spoiler:Bismuth]] for refusing to use the Breaking Point or letting her use it, Steven promises to tell the Gems what happened her. [[spoiler:His mother Rose Quartz failed this test when the same thing happened to her, choosing to hide Bismuth away for thousands of years to protect her cause and ensure peace instead. Bismuth tearfully admits that this makes Steven a better person than his mother ever was.]]
* The "Between Brothers" episode of ''WesternAnimation/Thundercats2011'' has this. When a young Lion-O and Tygra are playing as kids, Lion-O is crossing a tree trunk bridge over a pit. Tygra, as a child, breaks the edge of the bridge with his foot causing Lion-O to fall in. Young Lion-O doesn't see him do this (although present day Lion-O does, as he watches this memory) and falls into the pit. Tygra appears to abandon him, so if Lion-O were to die down there, no one would know it was Tygra's fault... although present day Tygra reveals that he ''did'' feel guilty afterward and immediately ran to their father for help.