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.

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.

What you lookin' at? You all a bunch of fuckin' assholes. You know why? You don't have the guts to be what you wanna be? You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your fuckin' fingers and say, "That's the bad guy." So... what that make you? Good? You're not good. You just know how to hide, how to lie. Me, I don't have that problem. Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy! Come on. The last time you gonna see a bad guy like this again, let me tell you. Come on. Make way for the bad guy. There's a bad guy comin' through! Better get outta his way!
Tony Montana, Scarface (1983)

"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?"

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!

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

Sometimes, life seems so complicated. Nothing is truly good or truly evil. Everything seems to be a shade of grey. And then you spend some time with a man like Dukat, and you realize that there is really such a thing as truly evil.
Capt. Benjamin Sisko, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, "Waltz"


"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."

    Real Life 

Vice is punished, but virtue is not rewarded.

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.