->'''Kirk''': ''(watching the ''Enterprise'' burning as it falls across the sky)'' My God, Bones... What have I done?\\
'''[=McCoy=]''': What you had to do. What you always do. Turn death into a fighting chance to live.
-->-- ''Film/StarTrekIIITheSearchForSpock''

When the hero lets the BigBad go, or refuses to [[KillHimAlready off]] a dangerous character (thanks to the KarmicDeath scenario), he will sometimes be quite depressed that justice wasn't served. Invariably, his [[TheLancer Lancer]] will tell him, "You did the right thing". Invariably, this will never satisfy the hero.

A common subversion is to have the speech od this type, then have the hero say, "I was out of bullets," or other conveyance that he was un''able'', rather than un''willing'', to kill.

Also see IDidWhatIHadToDo.

Compare with NotQuiteTheRightThing in what either is or ''seems'' to be the right thing doesn't bring good results.

Contrast YouDidEverythingYouCould.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Said by Midori to Mai in ''Anime/MaiHime'' at the start of the [[ThereCanBeOnlyOne HiME Carnival]] arc when Nao reminds her of what happened to Alyssa, whose child Mai had destroyed. After she leaves, Midori told Mai that she had no choice, since Alyssa was planning to nuke the school from orbit (it was the only way to be sure). And the fact that they didn't know [[spoiler:what destroying a Child does]] at the time. [[spoiler:Unbeknownst to them, the victim was, [[AssholeVictim rather than anyone innocent, the head of the Searrs foundation responsible for the entire invasion]] and a conspiracy to control the [=HiME=] Star]].
* Near the end of ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'', Misato tells Shinji he did the right thing after killing the 17th Angel. Seeing as [[spoiler:the 17th was also the only person in the show who showed any kind of unconditional affection for Shinji, and Shinji was in truly desperate need of affection from ''anyone'']], this just serves to break Shinji even further and sends him over the DespairEventHorizon.
* In ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'', Kaien's last words to Rukia as she performs[[note]]In the manga, her sword is at her side, and she has to stab him as he's lunging at her. In the anime, he seems to fall on her sword[[/note]] a MercyKill on him as he is possessed by Metastacia. [[HeroicSelfDeprecation Rukia mentally disagrees with this]], as she believes that she ran away (on her and Kaien's captain's orders) because she was afraid to face him, came back because she couldn't bear the shame of doing nothing and stabbed him because she was unable to see him in pain, and [[MyGreatestFailure bears the weight of her guilt for years]]. While she earns Kaien's siblings forgiveness, she later learns that [[spoiler:Metastacia's body returned to Hueco Mundo and got absorbed by Aaroniero, with Kaien's body and memories along with it. Rukia realizes she could not even say she was freeing him by doing so]], leading her to once again question what she did and have a temporary HeroicBSOD.
* In ''Anime/GirlsUndPanzer'', Yukari has this opinion about Miho's decision to [[spoiler:abandon the flag tank in the finals of the last tankery tournament to save the crew of another one from drowning]], resulting in [[spoiler:her old school being defeated for the first time in a decade]], and her decision to transfer and give up tankery. She says that [[spoiler:the teammates Miho saved are]] likely grateful for Miho's decision, [[SugarWiki/HeartwarmingMoments and she is proven correct]].

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* An interesting case occurs in the ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' fic ''Fanfic/HowIBecameYours''. Katara gets this after bloodbending [[spoiler:Mai]] to death. From the author's perspective, it is the right course of action. Many viewers, however, disagree, as bloodbending, the primary function of which is to control the victim's actions, could have been used to merely incapacitate the victim, and it doesn't help that the victim was [[UnintentionallySympathetic more sympathetic]] [[DieForOurShip than the]] [[RonTheDeathEater author intended]].
* In ''Fanfic/PerfectionIsOverrated'', similar to the ''Anime/MaiHime'' example above, Mai tells this to Shizuru after killing Hitomi's child to save her and Natsuki results in [[spoiler:Hitomi's own]] death, saying that Shizuru, like she did back when she destroyed Alyssa's Child, chose to do what she believed to be right.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* Ezylryb sums it up well for Soren in ''WesternAnimation/LegendOfTheGuardiansTheOwlsOfGaHoole'' after the latter [[spoiler:kills [[BigBad Metalbeak]]]].
-->'''Ezylryb''': Soren...you did what was right. And you did it well.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* When Anakin ends up beheading Count Dooku in ''Film/RevengeOfTheSith'', he gets a bit bent up about it considering it wasn't the Jedi way. [[EvilMentor Palpatine]], however, ensures him that he did the right thing, since Dooku was far too dangerous. Of course, this might be NotQuiteTheRightThing, as this ends up being one step for Anakin in [[FaceHeelTurn turning to the dark side]].
* Dr. [=McCoy=] pretty much says this in ''Film/StarTrekIIITheSearchForSpock'' after Kirk [[spoiler:is forced to self-destruct the ''Enterprise'']].

* ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}''
** Twice, after the war. Jake's most heinous act by far was flushing the Pool ship's pool into space, which killed approximately seventeen thousand unhosted Yeerks. After the battle, Cassie meets with Erek, who is shocked and disgusted that Jake would do such a thing. Defending Jake, Cassie heatedly replies that Jake "did what he had to do":
-->'''Erek:''' I see. He feels guilty.\\
'''Cassie:''' No. Not guilty.\\
'''Erek:''' Then what?! He used me, blackmailed me, manipulated my programming to get me to crack the engine systems and take control of the ship.\\
'''Cassie:''' You drained the Dracon beams.\\
'''Erek:''' What did Jake expect me to do? I had given him control when he needed it. I wasn't going to enable him to kill.\\
'''Cassie:''' Jake had Rachel with Tom. Rachel and Tom are both... And the ship got away anyway. Thanks to you.\\
'''Erek:''' And I'm supposed to feel regret because Jake ordered his cousin to take out his brother and I wasn't going to let him kill everyone else on the Blade ship?! So, you too, huh Cassie?\\
'''Cassie:''' Jake did what he had to do.\\
'''Erek:''' Did he? Somebody flushed the onboard pool into space. Did he have to do that too? They were unhosted Yeerks. They were harmless!\\
'''Cassie:''' We needed a div--\\
'''Erek:''' A what? A what did you need? A diversion?! You're telling me you needed a diversion so Jake massacred seventeen thousand sentient creatures?! A diversion''?!
** Similarly, during the war crimes trial of Visser One, one of the Visser's defense lawyers says that Jake himself should be under indictment as a war criminal for his actions. Jake, who has been clinically depressed for some time due to guilt, is cut deeply by this remark. Cassie, Marco and Ax later tell him that his actions were, if not wholly moral, were completely necessary; furthermore, Cassie makes the case that "you can't equate the victim and the perpetrator" when it comes to war crimes.
** The book itself leaves things a bit more up to reader interpretation, and it's obvious that the characters saying so were significantly less sure of what they were saying than they would like to be.
* Inverted in ''Literature/EndersGame'', when Ender needs reassurance from Bean that he did the right thing in [[spoiler:completely ''crushing'' Bonzo]].
* Used by Slim at the end of ''Literature/OfMiceAndMen''.
-->'''Slim:''' You hadda, George. I swear you hadda.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Standard sitcom line delivered to a protagonist like the NaiveEverygirl who chooses to be nice to or understand The AlphaBitch, a favorite BrokenAesop.
* Said by the detectives to many a suspect on ''Series/LawAndOrderSpecialVictimsUnit'' who decides to cooperate and help nail the worst bad guy.
* ''Series/BabylonFive''
** Zack is acting as a double agent between the legitimate forces of government and the KnightTemplar forces looking to overthrow them. Just about everyone tells him he's doing the right thing at one time or another. He finds this less than comforting.
** In an earlier episode, a doctor kills an escaped prisoner in self-defense. Franklin tells her "You did the right thing," she replies "I did the necessary thing, this is not the same as the right thing."
** Londo tells Vir something similar to the doctor's response after he [[spoiler:assassinates Emperor Cartagia]]. Londo also notes that the fact that doing this made Vir sick to his stomach is proof that Vir's soul is far pure than Londo's own.
* In the ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'' episode "Bouncing Back", both Coulson and Simmons try to assure Fitz that he did the right thing in destroying Will once it was revealed he was a walking corpse possessed by Hive.
-->'''Coulson''': You did what you had to do. We both did. Sometimes there's no choice but the hard choice. That's the job.
-->'''Simmons''': [[HeroicSacrifice Will died saving me.]] What you did was kill a thing, a monster. You've been nothing less than extraordinary this whole time.

[[folder:Puppet Shows]]
* Stated word-for-word by Kermit the Frog, playing as Captain Smollet, in ''Film/MuppetTreasureIsland'' after Jim Hawkins lets Long John Silver escape with the treasure. Moments later we learn that out of the ''Hispanola'''s jolly boats, Silver took the one that was... unsafe.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps2'', you're given a SadisticChoice as Farid. [[spoiler:Either you shoot Harper to maintain Farid's cover, or attempt to shoot Menendez and get shot to death for trying.]] Choosing the former will have Mason tell Farid that he had no choice. Farid, still [[HeroicBSOD in shock]], is then led away by Salazar.
* In ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'', the loyalty missions sometimes offer the opportunity to say this on Paragon options (Renegade has less concern over morality or squadmates' feelings) when you talk your squadmates out of doing something you believe they will regret, such as in Garrus' loyalty mission, in which you can persuade him not to kill the teammate who betrayed him and led to the rest of their group's deaths. At the end of the game, [[spoiler:if you destroy the Collector base]], the rest of the group will unanimously approve regardless of how moral or loyal to Cerberus they are.
* ''VideoGame/{{Myst}}'' has two cases of this. One BadEnding is a subversion, where the person you help proceeds to [[EvilGloating gloat]]. The other one [[spoiler:involves you handing a needed page to Atrus's linking book to Myst so that he can deal with his sons' betrayal, and is played much more straight.]]
--> '''[[spoiler:Sirrus]]:''' Thank you, my friend. My dear friend. You've done the right thing. You '''''[[UnwittingPawn STUPID]] [[YouFool FOOL]]'''''!

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender''
** Said by Iroh to Zuko when he gives up on his latest crazy scheme to find Aang... an episode before the stress of doing something so against his {{Determinator}} nature drives him into a feverish frenzy.
** Later said by [[spoiler:Aang to Katara following her SwordOverHead moment with her mother's killer]]. Subverted, as it left no reassurance for her. [[{{Glurge}} She even questions why she did it.]]
-->'''[[spoiler:Katara:]]''' I don't know if it was because I was too weak to do it, or because I was strong enough not to?
** Aang reassures her himself.
** Iroh tells Aang that he did the right thing [[spoiler: by abandoning his training, possibly locking him out of the Avatar State]] in order to pursue his love for Katara. He mentions that, [[OldMaster in his experience]], [[LonelyAtTheTop power is overrated compared to love]].