23rd Oct: It's time for the Second TV Tropes Halloween Avatar Contest! Details here.
"Good can't help but do a little evil."
— Tom Waits, "Spacious Thoughts"
"Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!"
— Jesus, as quoted in Matthew 23:24 (New King James Version), commenting on the methods by which the Pharisees attempted to please God
Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just!
— Paul, The Bible (New International Version), Romans 3:8
"Imagine. I now possess the power to end hunger. To abolish disease. To eliminate crime. To establish a perfectly content, perfectly ordered world — all under the benevolence of MY IRON WILL!"
"Wanting people to listen. You can't just tap them on the shoulder anymore, you have to hit them with a sledgehammer. And then you'll notice you've got their strict attention."
—John Doe, Se7en
"The doctrine which, from the very first origin of religious dissensions, has been held by bigots of all sects, when condensed into a few words and stripped of rhetorical disguise, is simply this: I am in the right, and you are in the wrong. When you are the stronger, you ought to tolerate me, for it is your duty to tolerate truth; but when I am the stronger, I shall persecute you, for it is my duty to persecute error."
—Thomas Babington Macaulay, Critical and Miscellaneous Essays
"It's beautiful here, isn't it? When you stay here long enough, you start to fool yourself into thinking this is how it's always going to be. Then you remember what this place'll look like when it's on fire and... you realize you'll do whatever it takes to keep from watching it burn again."
—Derek Reese, The Sarah Connor Chronicles
"He was just... well, like a lot of madmen. Somewhat accurate view of the problem, really insane view of the solution."
— Kid Radd
"Nox didn't have a road paved with good intentions as much as he had a slide greased with them."
"For more years than I can remember, I have stood, watch, preparing for a day I've long known was inevitable. The alien threat is real, and the world has suffered at the hands of these invaders. The world must be prepared. It was always be vigilant, and I will make sure it is, no matter what the cost. "
— Agent Bishop, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
"Why do they still call me a warlord? And mad? All I want to do is to create the perfect genetic soldier. Not for power, not for evil, but for good. Carlos Blanka will be the first of thousands. They will march out of my laboratory and crush every adversary, every creed, every nation! Until the world is in the loving grip of the Pax Bisonica. And peace will reign and all humanity will bow to me in humble gratitude."
— M. Bison, from the Street Fighter film.
"But the evil" answered Momus, "is that they hold for certain that they are in the light."
— Giordano Bruno, Lo Spaccio de la Bestia Trionfante
"No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks."
— Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
"With the best intentions? Some of the worst things imaginable have been done with the best intentions."
— Dr. Grant, Jurassic Park III
"A world at peace. There had to be sacrifice."
— Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, Watchmen
Redcloak: You have to understand. It was for the greater good.
Right-Eye: Good... never really entered into it...
"I say, we kill everything. There cannot be any evil if there is nothing existing."
— Lust, in a livejournal rp.
"Even when you think you're doing the right thing, you may be going about it the wrong way."
— Alfred Cranston, PS238
Zaibach: Kicking your ass for the greater good.
— Vision of Escaflowne Abridged, Episode 9
All contestants had benign intent that manifested in malicious behaviour. Only the best for society as a whole was ever considered. But only under the terms each contestant explicitly laid for himself.
—The judge, 10%+
Acceptable Collateral Damage: 90% of worldwide human population.
The best intentions invite the worst kind of trouble.
— Balthier, Final Fantasy XII
"The world is a mess, and I just need to... Rule it!"
— Dr. Horrible, Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
"Salvation comes with a cost. Judge us not by our methods, but what we seek to accomplish."
—The Illusive Man, Mass Effect 2
"It's truly regrettable that Devos' noble desire has somehow become so twisted that he's overseen the destruction of entire worlds. In another life, he could have been a hero."
— Captain America, on Devos the Devastator's mission to end war forever
Roberspierre: If it threatens France, it is my business.
Johanna Constantine: Yes, so I have seen. You will save France... if you have to kill every man, woman, and child within it to do so.
—The Sandman, "Thermidor"
"If you could take back a terrible mistake at the cost of a few lives, would you do it?"
"I removed the chance for compromise, because there is no compromise!"
— Anders/Vengeance, Dragon Age II
"I was taught it was my responsibility to bring the torch of knowledge to the wastes. I may have taken the torch part more literally than they intended."
— Caesar, Fallout: New Vegas
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
— C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock
"And I want to conquer the world
Give all the idiots a brand new religion
Put an end to poverty, uncleanliness and toil
Promote equality in all of my decisions!"
—Bad Religion, Conquer the World
"My followers and I will not rest until the entire city has achieved equality. And once that goal is achieved, we will equalize the rest of the world. The revolution has begun!"
—Amon, The Legend of Korra
"Since Kira has appeared 6 years ago, wars have stopped and global crime rates have been reduced by over 70%. But, it's not enough. This world is still rotten with too many rotten people! Somebody has to do this! When I first got that notebook all those years ago, I knew I had to do it. No, I was the only one who could. I understood that killing people was a crime. There was no other way! The world had to be fixed! A purpose given to me! Only I could do it. Who else could have done it and come this far?! Will they keep going?! The only one, who can create a new world, is me."
—Light Yagami, Death Note
Kira Yamato: Commander Trieze...I don't understand you. Why did you start this battle?
Trieze Khushrenada: Right now, your heart is filled with sorrow.
Kira: It's not just me! A lot of people, their hearts ache because of this battle!
Trieze: That's good. That's exactly why I started this war.
Kira: Commander Trieze...
Trieze: Remember this, Kira...this pain is for changing the world. Now then, let's fight!
— Kira Vs. Trieze, Super Robot Wars Z2: Saisei-Hen
Raiden: All you want is power, at any cost.
Solidus: Jack, it's not power I want. What I want to take back from the Patriots are things like...freedom, civil rights, opportunities. The founding principles of this country. Everything that's about to be wiped out by their digital censorship.
There is no difference between what is right and what is necessary.
—A loading screen in Spec Ops: The Line
"The very moment that Man loses his imagination, he is doomed."
"It is unfortunate... but this is for the sake of protecting Earth from ... [Kali Yuga]."
"I have conceived it. A method by which Man might be spared. We have chosen. This is the solution that we have devised."
This is your first lesson. The Foundation is not evil. We do not torture people just because. We are against unnecessary cruelty. Which means somebody has to decide when cruelty is necessary. That somebody is us.
Every action I take, no matter how violent or cruel, is for the good of my people.
Doing the wrong things for the right reasons.
— Tagline to Worm
"When you wrap yourself in strong intentions, you don't really hear people trying to talk to you."
— Fate, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha
"I would remind you that extremism in defense of liberty is no vice!"
— Barry Goldwater, 1964 Republican National Convention Acceptance Speech.
"Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim."
— George Santayana
"Roosevelt saved capitalism by accepting a degree of welfarism. Johnson applied the same formulas, with less dramatic results. When Roosevelt’s experiments began to go sour, the Second World War disguised their inadequacy. I’ve often wondered if Johnson instinctively hoped to repeat the Roosevelt career: domestic reform, followed by the triumphant prosecution of a war."
"Picture this: Both these guys are working on the same school project. It's for Model UN and the teacher said "write a plan for how you would try and get world peace if you were in a high power government position." Raiden writes his project about how he would try and stop wars through peaceful tactics. Only perform violence when it's absolutely necessary, like the samurai of old. Armstrong presents his elaborate military plan that would make people change their ways to allow less violence in the future as well as put a stop to the current violence with his...'bigger gun' (for lack of a better term). Raiden doesn't like the violence, so he gets into a debate. He says "what about military costs and those orphans?" Armstrong says "The war makes jobs, which allows money to be used. Plus, the kids would get a job, food, and an education." Raiden knows he's right, but doesn't want to be wrong, so he simply yells "VIOLENCE IS WRONG!" Armstrong replies "But necessary." At recess, they get into a fight and Raiden wins. Armstrong admits he lost, but says he just wanted to get world peace with a solution that he knew would work, even if it was morally black. At the end of the day, Armstrong goes home and Raiden realizes he was trying to do good, but he made bad choices. So at the next Model UN meeting, Armstrong isn't there because he got pneumonia. Raiden has made it clear to himself that Armstrong had a good idea once he changed his views on it. So he combines some of his and Armstrong's ideas and starts using that new plan in the club's world debate. Does that make sense?"
— a You tuber describing the ideological conflict between Raiden and Armstrong in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance