Playing With: Even Evil Has Standards
: A bad guy has lines even he won't cross, and detests those who do.
- Straight: A drug dealer beats a rapist to death with his own S&M paddle, because Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil.
- 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.
- The drug dealer 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.
- The line in question is rather serious for obvious logical reasons, such as specifically targeting the innocent children of opponents for death (and thus bringing up Pragmatic Villainy concerns).
- The Villain is a Well-Intentioned Extremist and really does have standards and adheres to them religiously, even though he does other horrifyingly evil things in the name of his cause.
- This also foreshadows the Harmless Villain making a Heel-Face Turn.
- The Villain may be evil, but he's not devoid of humanity.
- Whenever the villain has an Even Evil Has Standards moment, it's because the irredeemable action is a reminder of pain he's suffered, or the reason he turned evil.
- The villain commits his misdeeds to get rich, so he gets angry when another villain threatens to destroy the world. After all, there's no point in having illicit money if you don't have anywhere to spend it.
- The character in question is a Villain with Good Publicity, who cannot indulge into pointlessly evil antics, because that would inflict terrible damage to his public image. So, his standards are bound to pragmatism, not morality, but in practice the overall effect almost the same, as he cannot tolerate those lacking good judgment.
- Morality is subjective. What some find noble, others consider terrible.
- 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."
- Parodied: The bad guy has an "Evil Etiquette" book, and the Complete Monster 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.
- The villain doesn't give any damns about right and wrong at all.
- The Mob Boss doesn't even consider turning on the Complete Monster.
- 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!"
- Implication and consequence 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.
- 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 gang member. And for all his standards, the villain still comes off as being somewhat of a hypocrite for all the other nasty things he does.
- 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:
- 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.
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