Quotes / Black and Gray Morality

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    Anime and Manga 

When will you fools learn that there are no battles fought by heroes?
Talpa, Ronin Warriors

    Comic Books 

Ex-President "The Beast": My job is to keep the majority of the people in this country alive. That's it. If fifty-one percent eat a meal tomorrow and forty-nine percent don't, Iíve done my job.
President Garry "The Smiler" Callahan: I wanted to be the President so I could fuck with people!

    Film — Live-Action 

Phyllis: We're both rotten.
Walter Neff: Only you're a little more rotten.

You probably heard we ain't in the prisoner-takin' business; we in the killin' Nazi business. And cousin, business is a-boomin'.

How many people had I already killed? There were those six that I knew about for sure. Close enough to blow their last breath in my face. But this time, it was an American and an officer. That wasn't supposed to make any difference to me, but it did. Shit, charging a man with murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets in the Indy 500.
Willard, Apocalypse Now

That woman deserves her revenge, and we deserve to die... But then again, so does she. So I guess we'll just have to see, won't we?
Budd, Kill Bill

Michael Sullivan: He murdered Annie and Peter!
John Rooney: There are only murderers in this room! Michael! Open your eyes! This is the life we chose, the life we lead. And there is only one guarantee - none of us will see heaven.
Michael Sullivan: Michael could.
John Rooney: Then do everything that you can to see that that happens.

Will Munny: It's a hell of a thing, ain't it, killin' a man. You take everything he's got... and everything he's ever gonna have...
The Schofield Kid: Well, I guess they had it... comin'.
Will Munny: We all got it comin', Kid.

Ward: Just don't lose sight of whose rights are being violated!
Anderson: Don't put me on your perch, Mr. Ward.
Ward: Don't drag me into your gutter, Mr. Anderson!
Anderson: These people are crawling out of the SEWER, MR. WARD! Maybe the gutter's where we outta be!

Megan: Wait! You're my hero!
Wade: No, no, no, no, no. That I ain't.
Wade (narrating): Nope, never will be. I'm just a bad guy who gets paid to fuck up worse guys.

    Literature 
"The world isnít black and white, obviously, but once grey goes to a dark enough shade the difference is largely opinion."
Mina Davis, Asshole Yakuza Boyfriend

"It is the logic of our times,
No subject for immortal verse -
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."
— Poet and World War II Propagandist C. Day Lewis, "Where are the War Poets?"

We're here in Hell because we rebelled against the rules of Heaven. What would it look like if we started to make unreasonable rules and expect hellians to obey them?
Lucifer, Winner Takes It All

Legend: So where do you stand, then? Where do you see yourself in terms of the sliding scale of good and evil, heroes and villains?
Skitter: All of the above? None of the above? Does it matter? Some of us wear the villain label with pride, because they want to rebel against the norms, because itís a harder, more rewarding road to travel, or because being a Ďheroí often means so very little. But few people really want to see themselves as being bad or evil, whatever label they wear.

Malachi had to adapt his teachings to some who were sincere but mistaken. To them the Divine fire is disciplinary. "He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver."
But he also had to adapt his teachings to some who were wilfully and persistently wrong. To them the Divine fire is, in some sense, destructive- consuming. "The proud shall be stubble, and the day that cometh shall burn them up."
R. Tuck sermonizing on "The Divine Fire" note 

    Live-Action TV 

Ah, finally, the ultimate showdown between vaguely-evil and somewhat-ambiguous!

Lawmakers, lawbreakers; let us fight them all, why not.
Kerr Avon, Blake's 7 ("Shadow")

Being a spy, you have to get comfortable with the idea of people doing bad things for good reasons; doing good things for bad reasons. You do the best you can.
Michael, Burn Notice ("Broken Rules")

Cigarette Smoking Man: Look at me. No wife, no family. Some "power." Iím in the game because I believe what Iím doing is right.
Mulder: Right? Who are you to decide whatís right?
Cigarette Smoking Man: Who are you?
The X-Files, "One Breath"

On Earth, there is no poverty, no crime, no war. You look out the window of Starfleet Headquarters and you see paradise. Well, it's easy to be a saint in paradise, but the Maquis do not live in paradise. Out there in the Demilitarized Zone, all the problems haven't been solved yet. Out there, there are no saints; just people. Angry, scared, determined people who are going to do whatever it takes to survive, whether it meets with Federation approval or not!
Cap. Benjamin Sisko, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ("The Maquis Pt. 2")

If the only thing they are doing is torching Drexler's heroin, we shouldn't be trying to kill them, we should be sending them a fruit basket!

I think her bad guys are badder than my bad guys.
Echo, Dollhouse

The good guys are bad, and the bad guys even worse.
— Trailer for Line of Fire

    Music 

"Shadow and shade mix together at dawn
But by the time you catch them simplicity's gone."
—"Hero", David Crosby

    Tabletop Games 

There is no such thing as innocence — only degrees of guilt.

The Technocracy may wish to remake the world in its own sterile image, but at least at the end of the process there'd be a world left. The Traditions may squabble among themselves, but they squabble about what to do with the world - not how best to destroy it. The Marauders may be mad, but destruction is incidental to their attempts to create a more comfortable reality for themselves. The Nephandi, by doing the will of their Dark Masters, would destroy all - and they're cheerfully unapologetic about it.
Mage: The Ascension - The Book Of Madness

    Video Games 

Vladimir was one of those old-time bad guys with honor and morals, which made him almost one of the good guys. None of us was a saint.
Max Payne, Max Payne

"Evil is evil - lesser, greater, middling, makes no difference. The degree is arbitrary. The definition is blurred. If I'm to choose between one evil and another, I'd rather not choose at all."

    Web Original 

DS9 is honest enough to treat its characters as real people, not cardboard 'good guys' or 'bad guys.' For instance, Kira is a terrorist, not a 'freedom fighter,' regardless of the fact that we like her, sympathize with her, and are rooting for her to succeed... although it's not always clear that she's in the right.
Holly E. Ordway on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

    Web Video 

Although in retrospect, the path to whatever "Good" ends to these quests exist, your way there is always murky in the heat of the moment. The Witcher 3 punishes brash heroism and quick judgements. Playing a thoroughly-evil Gerald who makes this world worse than he started is probably gonna happen by accident, even if you have good intentions...the "Mature" rating on the the box actually describes what's inside.

    Real Life 

Vote for the Crook: It's Important
—Bumper sticker during Edwin Edwards / David Duke gubernatorial race, 1991

Vice is punished, but virtue is not rewarded.

Life — the way it really is — is a battle not between good and bad, but between bad and worse.
Joseph Brodsky

Goodness has only once found a perfect incarnation in a human body and never will again, but evil can always find a home there. Human nature is not black and white but black and grey.
Graham Greene

Votez escroc, pas facho! [translation: Vote for the crook, not the fascist!]
—Campaign poster in the French presidential election of 2002, between Jacques Chirac and Jean-Marie Le Pen.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Quotes/BlackAndGrayMorality