Playing With / Even Evil Has Standards

Basic Trope: Evil character crosses a line that another evil character considers to be too evil, even for them.
  • Straight: Somebody suggests killing a relative of the witness to a murder. The Mob Boss is horrified, and refuses to allow it.
  • Exaggerated: The bad guy has a very long list of things he will not do, to the point that he is ineffectual as a bad guy.
  • Downplayed:
    • The Mob Boss is willing to work with some more hardened criminals, but still disapproves of some of their most serious crimes.
    • A Jerkass has no problems with insulting people, but draws the line against physically harming them.
  • Justified:
  • Inverted:
  • Subverted:
  • Double Subverted:
    • Somebody suggests killing a relative of the witness to a murder. The Mob Boss says "No.", and, much later, when asked, proceeds to explain the Pragmatic Villainy reasons for not doing so. And then mentions that "Even if all that weren't true, it just isn't the proper thing to do."
    • When his underlings still don't do the dirty deed, he then applauds them, saying, "That was a test, and you passed. For future sake, women and children are a big no."
    • However, said innocent experienced a Fate Worse Than Death, and as such, he put him down for his own good.
    • When one digs down far enough, though, the Ruthless Foreign Gangsters ultimately turn out to share some standards that are universal across cultures.
    • The Mob Boss genuinely didn't know his subordinates and allies did not share his views and quickly cuts ties when he finds out.
  • Parodied: The bad guy has an "Evil Etiquette" book, and the worst villain is scolded by other villains.
  • Zig Zagged: Somebody suggests killing a relative of the witness to a murder. The Mob Boss says "No.", and, much later, when asked, proceeds to explain the Pragmatic Villainy reasons for not doing so. And then mentions that "Even if all that weren't true, it just isn't the proper thing to do." And then the guy dies anyway, and everyone thinks it was him, but then he finds and turns in the real killer, who was the guy he talked to. Mob Boss gave the order to kill as a Xanatos Gambit: Whether the witness dies or not, the Mob Boss has an excuse to punish the guy for an unrelated offense, but the witness' death is not the preferred outcome because they had kids to support.
  • Averted:
    • The villain doesn't give any damns about right and wrong at all.
    • The villain has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
    • The Mob Boss doesn't even consider turning on the worst villain.
    • Alternatively, nothing too heinous ever comes up.
  • Enforced: "We want him to be more of an Anti-Villain, so we need to give him a code of honor and a moral line he will not cross."
  • Lampshaded: "Don't fear, Bad Guy will not kill you. It would be too evil".
  • Invoked: "As main witness of Bad Guy crime, I suggest you to get pregnant, fast."
  • Exploited: The bad guy won't hurt a kid, so his rival sends child soldiers after him.
  • Defied: When somebody suggests the Mob Boss should turn a Complete Monster in to the police, the Mob Boss refuses, pointing out the monster is still good at what he does.
  • Discussed: "We're not dealing with some kind of comic book supervillain here. People, even if they're criminals, aren't going to immediately throw all moral standards out of the window."
  • Conversed: "I heard this movie has some interesting antagonists. Some of the villains are actually shocked when the main bad guy commits particularly heinous acts, and refuse to help the main bad guy any further afterwards. You should go see it!"
  • Deconstructed:
    • Implication and consequences of extremely amoral acts are shown, to the point that a pragmatic evil code is provided.
    • The bad guy only refrains from what is in his code. Everything else is fair game.
    • For all his standards, the villain still comes off as being somewhat of a hypocrite for all the other nasty things he does.
    • The bad guy pats himself on the back for not involving children in his crimes, but as the hero points out, he's still a drug-dealing gangster.
  • Reconstructed:
    • However, the code has several rules that are there simply for moral decency's sake, and are always followed.
    • The rule book is there to keep things in line so things don't devolve into Stupid Evil.
    • Villains with standards last longer because they are thrown into Cardboard Prisons, while Complete Monsters are killed outright.
  • Played For Laughs:
    "Just because I'm evil incarnate, doesn't mean I'm an animal!"
    • The person who suggested the thing Mob Boss would not cross the line to do was The Mole working for the good guys, who was Wrong Genre Savvy and did not know what to do next.
  • Played For Drama:
    • When the Mob Boss refuses to murder the witnesses' relatives, his associates are so frightened that they overthrow him and he is forced to go on the run from his own crime empire.
    • Alice gives Bob shelter after he comes to her telling her he is on the run from the mob. Alice assumes he is a witness, only to find out he did something so horrible even they were digusted.

Look, I may be a murderer, but I'm not gonna leave a troper in the lurch: here's a link back to Even Evil Has Standards.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/PlayingWith/EvenEvilhasStandards