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Balance Between Good and Evil
aka: Balance Of Good And Evil

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"I do not deny evil, nor do I believe that any human is completely free of malice. Everything must be in balance. As long as evil and good maintain an equilibrium in this world, there is no problem. Perfect balance is the key to everything."
Death the Kid, Soul Eater

Good and Evil have rules they must follow. These rules are usually towards overall self-preservation; no one side is allowed to "win" too much. The Big Good and Big Bad restrict their fighting to a Cosmic Chess Game rather than going at it in person, The Hero saves the Villain, and the villain invites the hero to dinner instead of death. If the balance is not maintained, very bad things will happen. What these things are varies depending on the story. Often invoked in-story via phrases such as, "Two sides of the same coin," "No light without darkness," etc.

Good winning includes: the universe becoming boring, society stagnating or collapsing from within from the absence of something to struggle against, or by declaring concepts such as free will or ambition to be evil.

Evil winning includes: the universe becoming boring, society tearing itself apart because it's made of Always Chaotic Evil creatures, The Heartless have nothing left to feed on, or Apocalypse Wow.

It may also take the form of a Space Whale Aesop where the current Big Bad must not be killed or else the universe will spawn a newer, even greater evil. This is used as justification for why the Big Bad needs to be sealed away instead of killed. Or somehow both Good and Evil are cosmic forces that maintain Creation, and therefore as bad as Evil is it must be allowed to exist or else everything ends. This is often the justification for a Divine Conflict.

A limited understanding of Eastern philosophy often results in this balance being confused with the concept of Yin and Yang, which is actually not about Good and Evil at all but rather about maintaining the balance between opposite but morally neutral forces like passivity and activity, night and day, male and female, or hot and cold.

There are several challenges to writing this trope believably, mostly because it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Works may employ it without examining it too closely, because balance is always good, right? Yet the actual implications are pretty horrifying. For example, if there's too much goodness and peace, would "balance" mean that one should allow a healthy dose of rape and murder in the world? The general line of reasoning is that if Good were allowed to triumph, there would be no one to check its power and it would become despotic, as it's otherwise a bit difficult to explain why a world of eternal benevolence, peace and prosperity is a bad thing — except, by definition, that would mean it had become Evil and was no longer Good.

Another line of reasoning is that since some evils are necessary to prevent something worse, then that extends to "Evil" in general. However, a "necessary evil" by definition has "Good" qualities, and it's those good qualities that are valuable. The moment a necessary evil no longer provides those qualities, or its destructive characteristics supersede them, there's no reason to tolerate it further.

For this reason, terms such as "Good" and "Evil" don't actually mean that when used with this trope, or have anything to do with morality. Human emotions such as "contentment" or "ambition" may be arbitrarily assigned to the "Good" or "Evil" side, when really there is nothing inherently good or evil about them. What they actually mean is Order Versus Chaos, Individualism vs. Collectivism or something similar — a philosophical disagreement in which both sides can be good and bad, and therefore having a check on one another prevents either side from indulging in its worst impulses.

You can substitute Light and Darkness, Heaven and Hell, Order and Chaos, Dreams and Nightmares, or any Yin and Yang for Good and Evil with the added bonus of making more sense — a balance between Order and Chaos is better than either extreme, whereas things being too good is an oxymoron. These especially hold ground when the work asks (or answers) the heady question if good and evil exist at all and, if they do, whether or not they are subjective.

Works as a Sub-Trope for Upsetting the Balance, in which a character upsets a more general type of balance. In other words, a balance that isn't necessarily tied to the type of balances listed above. Compare Evil Power Vacuum for the aforementioned incident where a greater rises up to take the place of one that had fallen.

See also Good Needs Evil.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bleach: Souls in the physical world and the spirit world need to balance out by being recycled. When people die in the physical world, their souls move to the Soul Society and vice versa. If a person becomes a Hollow they are trapped in their state, unable to move on until purified back into the cycle by a Shinigami's Zanpakutou. Only Quincies are capable of truly destroying a soul because the removal of a soul from existence destroys the balance of souls between worlds. As a result, the Shinigami tried to exterminate the Quincies to save the world. When the Quincies stage a revenge extermination on the Shinigami, their first act is to kill so many Hollows that the Shinigami are forced kill 28,000 souls in Soul Society, which forces those souls to reincarnate in the World of the Living to create a new balance between the physical and spiritual worlds.
  • Slayers runs on this heavily. The Top God is The Lord of Nightmares who is neither good nor evil. She made four worlds, each ruled and balanced by one Shinzoku ("godly race") lord and one Mazoku ("evil race") lord. Each group has its own set of generals and henchmen. The Mazoku will act and upset the balance of power when they can. The Shinzoku act against them to mantain the balance.
    • In the backstory of Lina Inverse's homeworld (The "Red World" according to Word of God), both its Mazoku and its Shinzoku lords split into pieces rather than outright dying.
    • In Try Lina's group outrights destroys another world's Mazoku lord, but since it invaded the world of another mazoku lord, any effect this had on the "balance" is best saved for WMG.
  • Magical Project S had re-establishing the Balance as its main goal, represented by a giant set of scales that adjusted themselves after every Sammy victory. note 
  • Ah! My Goddess: Multiple:
    • The Doublet System prevents gods and demons from slaughtering each other by imposing a Mutually Assured Destruction scheme on both sides. Small conflicts are allowed, even encouraged, but outright celestial warfare is forbidden. And in those small conflicts, the use of lethal force is strictly forbidden.
    • Hild, the leader of the demons, has tried to defy the Doublet System and shift the balance in her favor by inducing Face Heel Turns among the gods. Thus far she's been unsuccessful, and given the nature of the series it'll probably remain that way. It's later revealed that what Hild does care about is the balance and the reason she antagonizes the goddesses is that their presence in the Morisato home causes an imbalance that she needs to rectify. The real reason she does this is because of her daughter, the goddess Urd.
    • Hagall and her crew don't care about the balance and just want to increase the demons "market share". This quickly causes the world to erupt into hilarious chaos.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • The final arc of Dragon Ball GT is half this trope, half Phlebotinum Overload. Every wish made with the Dragon Balls produces an energy that is counter to the nature of the wish, i.e. good-natured wishes produce negative energy and vice versa. This energy was meant to dissipate between each use of the Dragon Balls, but due to the frequency of their use (on account of the Dragon Radar turning it into a trivial task to gather the Dragon Balls for a wish), there wasn't enough time for that to happen. This eventually led to the creation of seven dragons, born from the built-up energy. Because the majority of wishes were made by the heroes, the dragons were born from negative energy and therefore were evil, though one did have Noble Demon tendencies from the few wishes made by the villains.
    • Gods of Destruction (e.g. Beerus) enforce a balance between creation and destruction, destroying planets so that new ones can be created. Dragon Ball Super expands on this and reveals that if the Supreme Kai (essentially the god of creation) of a particular universe were to die, then the God of Destruction would die too (and vice versa) so as to preserve the universe's balance.
  • Transformers: Cybertron. Taking Unicron out of the equation resulted in an imbalance that caused a black hole that threatened to do in the whole universe (the multiverse in the comics.)
  • The setting of Mobile Suit Gundam 00's first season, with three global superpowers squaring off against each other. The opening narration even uses the phrase "zero sum game" (in Gratuitous English for the original Japanese version). Though none of the superpowers could be considered "Good".
  • Umi Monogatari has this as a crucial part of the series. The girls are told to destroy the force of darkness, Sedna, with a Spear of Light. As it turns out, the islanders' unwillingness to accept and deal with the sorrow in their hearts created Sedna. In the end the darkness is accepted by them and becomes one with the light.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica several characters come to believe in a a variation of this trope. Specifically, that bringing hope eventually creates an equal amount of despair, and every wish is eventually balanced by a curse.
  • Magi: Labyrinth of Magic: There appears to be some kind of twisted balancing act at play, as every major turning point in the war between the powers of light (hope) and darkness (despair) is promptly shat upon by an even greater cataclysm of the opposite element that balances things out with major collateral damage on the 'winning' side. Slay a tyrant and bring about The Federation? Accidentally drove your second-in-command to madness, creating a world-ending cult. Destroy the world completely and commit genocide on 99% of the world's population? Millions of planets throughout the universe are seeded / infested with new life, the cultists' forces have been reduced to ghosts and whispers. Save a city from tyranny and slavery? It's enslaved offscreen. Complete the total corruption of the empire that controls the entire east hemisphere? Successfully murdered in a bloody coup by a grossly underestimated prince. If there is a winning side, it's shadow (acceptance).
  • Invoked by Karla the Gray Witch in Record of Lodoss War, who justifies her constant manipulations to ensure no one faction attains dominance over Lodoss as preventing great suffering. In practice, her Insane Troll Logic makes her more Stupid Neutral, since she'll kill benevolent kings seeking to form wide-spread peace through treaties as well as brutal tyrants with dreams of conquest.

    Comic Books 
  • In most superhero universes, a kind of balance applies, in that while superheroes rarely lose, villains keep coming back (or are replaced by new ones.) One would think that villains would just ally to bring down the heroes with sheer numbers, but this rarely works because villains can't trust each other for long, while heroes can.
  • In the Marvel Universe,
    • Adam Warlock got a hold of the Infinity Gauntlet, a MacGuffin that granted the user control over all of existence. His desire to become the "perfect" God caused him to subconsciously expunge both good and evil from himself completely. This backfired, as he became anthropomorphized; the evil side tried to take over the Universe and the good side tried to destroy it. Warlock also refused to kill Thanos, on the account that the Universe would be incomplete without him. This paid off later, when Thanos helped him deal with said good and evil sides, and eventually sacrificed himself to fix the Universe.
    • Galactus, the guy who eats a few billion people a month, was stated to be "necessary for the cosmic balance" by the sentience of the Marvel Universe, in "Trial of Galactus". There have been several, more detailed, explanations but whatever the case may be, keeping him around is the lesser of two evils.
      • He keeps an even greater threat in check through his feedings.
      • When the current universe ends, he will jumpstart the next Big Bang which will begin the next universe.
      • The life-energies he consumed radiated from him as he used his powers — or even just existed — and would thus "seed" other worlds with the energies needed for life as he passed them. For every world he consumed, several would eventually develop life.
    • Spider-Man: This is Mr. Negative's philosophy and the basic premise of his Split Personality.
  • In The DCU,
    • The Lords of Order and the Lords of Chaos fight an eternal war, with the winning side decided by repeating cycles. They used most of the magic-using heroes and villains as their pawns, and most people believed that Order was good and Chaos was evil, until both sides showed what's Beneath the Mask. (Chaos was overall pretty dangerous while Order was uncaring, making the DCU a Crapsack World.)
    • In Hellblazer John Constantine spends a lot of time fighting off demons, but he is nevertheless careful to prevent Heaven from striking any decisive blow against Hell. The idea seems to be that while Heaven and Hell are locked in eternal war, humankind has a certain amount of freedom from either side — but if one side ever won, the humans would be its slaves.
    • The Spectre:
      • The godlike ghost had almost lost faith in humanity because of the manipulations of his Evil Counterpart Azmodus, and was ready to fall under his sway. Then Spectre's friend, a preacher, told him to find out the truth for himself by looking into the collective souls of humanity. Even his other allies feared that this would only confirm the accusations... but The Spectre found that there was more light (good) than darkness (evil) in the human race- MUCH more. Cue Heroic Resolve and demonic asskicking. A Moment of Awesome for the series.
      • He once tried taking out Darkseid, only for the latter to rise in a skeletal form and begin reforming, stating that he couldn't be killed by the Spectre in this manner because he was a necessary evil in this universe.
    • Animal Man has a balance between the Red (animal life), the Green (plant life), and the Rot (death and decay). While the first story arc has the Rot and its avatar as the Big Bad, it's implied that any one of the three sides has the ability to grow beyond its means and become a threat.
    • Grant Morrison's JLA: Earth 2 explored this when both the Crime Syndicate and the Justice League try to affect the other's world, with both of their victories being rendered minor and short-lived due to this balance.
    • The Green Lantern comics have examined this trope at length ever since Geoff Johns introduced the concept of the Emotional Spectrum to the mythos. The Red Lanterns, Orange Lanterns and Yellow Lanterns (who wield the power of anger, greed and fear, respectively) can all definitely be considered "evil", while the Blue Lanterns, the Indigo Tribe and the Star Sapphires (who wield the power of hope, compassion and love, respectively) can all be considered "good". But it's also pointless to try to wipe out the "evil" Lanterns, since they simply channel emotions exuded by living beings—which will always exist, regardless of how many Lanterns are defeated. And regardless of their noble intentions, the "good" Lanterns are also ineffectual in many ways: the Blue Lanterns lack the willpower to affect change, the Indigo Tribesmen are emotionally distant recluses, and the Star Sapphires lack the self-control necessary to act with clear judgment. That's why the titular Green Lanterns are so important: they lie at the center of the spectrum, and their central emotion (willpower) simply gives them the courage and fortitude to fight for what's right. The green light of willpower is the only force in the universe that can give its users great power without clouding their sense of morality.
    • It’s been suggested that Lobo was born to balance out how sickeningly perfect and good Czarnia was. It worked a little TOO well
    • Wonder Woman: Several members of the Greek pantheon who have an opposite balancing number show up, such as Eris (strife) and Harmonia (harmony), and when any who traditionally had a balancing opposite in the myths show up without said opposite they are hugely dangerous and often have to be put down in order to stop them such as Nemesis whose opposite number Tyche doesn't appear in the DCU.
  • In Black Hammer, there is an explicit balance between the powers of Good and Evil which must be maintained. The breaking of that balance is what caused the heroes' predicament: Black Hammer killed the evil Anti-God during the Cataclysm, tipping the balance too far toward Good. The universe tried to correct this imbalance by bringing Anti-God back to life, which would mean the end of the world. To prevent this, the heroes banished themselves to another dimension where the balance doesn't hold sway, restoring balance by taking Good and Evil off the table altogether: so long as they never leave, Anti-God will never return.
  • Star Wars Legends: In the Distant Prequel Dawn of the Jedi, the predecessors to The Order known as the Je'daii invoked this and worshipped the light and dark sides of the Force in equal measure, only for their philosophy to fall apart the second it was tested by the Infinite Empire, resulting in the formation of the modern Jedi and the Sith.

    Fan Works 
  • In Betrayal Harry received three innate Animagus forms shortly after the final battle. One of them, a catlike creature called a Night Stalker, was assigned to act as a "balancer" between light and dark, which in practice meant that he was driven to subdue or kill people or beings who attempted to kill others. When Daphne Greengrass asked what would've happened had there been too much light in the world he replied that in that case, they would've been faced with an evil version of him which was driven to "bring the light down to a manageable level."
  • Justified in The Powers of Harmony: Harmony and Discord needed to work together to create life, and when they didn't work in balance, both suffered from Sanity Slippage, becoming logical extremes of what they represented. When Harmony was sealed away, Discord went completely insane.
  • Both Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Messiah and the Dead Fic Tilting the Balance reference "the Balance", a force that holds four elements — Light, Darkness, Dreams, and Shadows — in check so that their combined strength holds back the all-destroying Chaos. When any of the four become too powerful, its opposite number acts to counter it via Chosen.
  • An interesting take in the Jackie Chan Adventures fic Webwork, in that it's not the forces of darkness destroying the balance — Jackie constantly beating back evil has caused good to tip the scales so much that the governing powers of light and dark are forced to take drastic actions, engineering Jade's relapse as a Shadowkhan as part of a larger plan to renew the world's darkness.
  • A number of Buffy fics have pointed out that while the higher powers of evil in the BTVS world (i.e. Wolfram & Hart and the Old Ones) are obsessed with creating an apocalypse and destroying/conquering everything the so-called forces of "good", like the Powers That Be, seemed to be more interested in maintaining a balance between the two, to the point of opposing their own champions if they are doing too good a job destroying evil. A common theme among such fics is that if either side wins, the Powers That Be lose either their power or their influence over the mortal world.
  • Queen of All Oni: In the old days, the forces of Light and Darkness, with Good and Evil attaching to them, fought constantly, with evil always being able to bounce back quickly from a defeat or death. To stop this, the Eight Immortals set in motion the Grand Design, a manipulation of causality that ensured that champions of good would always arise to defeat evil, and that defeated evils would stayed sealed and out of the game. All this was designed to hinge on the reincarnation cycle of the Ben Shui order's Chosen One, who existed to maintain the various seals and the balance as a whole. However, since someone murdered the last potential Chosen One before they could take the role, and Jade (the current potential Chosen One) having fallen to darkness for so long, the Design as a whole is decaying, apparently beyond any hope of repair.
  • The Ultimate Evil: In addition to the established examples of this trope shown in Jackie Chan Adventures (like the Tiger Talisman and the world's balance), there is a new form of balance included: the concept of an "Other" (an abbreviation to "Other half of one's self"). Two people who are Others to each other strengthen one another by balancing their conflicting chis by touch because then their chis attempt to merge. If the Demon Sorcerers were to encounter their Others and bind them to themselves, they'd become cases of Physical Gods even more than they already are. The main character Valerie Payne catches Shendu's eye because she's his Other and eventually the target of his Villainous Crush, while Jade is later revealed to be Hsi Wu's Other.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: The spirit of Balance is bound by this. The more information they give the new generation of Bearers, the more they also have to share with the villain.
  • In Codex Equus, it is implied in lore that a balance between good and evil exists in Equus, and there are certain deities who are born to maintain that balance. Letting one side overpower the other tends to create disaster - too much Good would cause Equus to stagnate and become utterly unprepared to face future Evils, while too much Evil would essentially result in the destruction of everything, including itself.
    • The twin Deer gods, Belyolen and Temnobog, are living embodiments of this trope. They were supposed to be born as one person, but because Irminsul tried enforcing his twisted ideas of perfection by magically purging his then-unborn son of his darker flaws, he ended up with twin sons instead. Despite the other gods believing that Belyolen's natural compassion and radiance made him "superior" to the dark Temnobog, they're actually equals who embody Light and Dark, Good and Evil, respectively. They both share a unique elemental bond that causes power imbalances whenever one of them tries to gain an advantage, so they couldn't kill each other. They only get stronger when they work together because that is the brothers' purpose - to bring Balance to Deerkind. While Belyolen blesses his worshipers and protects them from evil, Temnobog works as the Bogolenya pantheon's chief punisher, using evil to test mortals and tormenting the souls of wicked people.
    • As it turned out, the overabundance of Good within the Elternteil pantheon was what caused it to splinter into the Bogolenya and the Hoyklan pantheons, because there were no "Evil" deities to keep it in check. The only evil god among them at the time, Temnobog, was emotionally abused because his family and peers believed that his mere presence would "taint" their benevolence, which caused Temnobog to genuinely become evil. This ultimately caused the compassionate Belyolen to rebel, calling everyone out on their blatant hypocrisy and complacent arrogance out of disgust and leaving home to form his own pantheon, so he could protect Temnobog and give him the love and respect he believed his brother deserved.
    • This trope is also the reason why King Strazha and his younger biological sister, Queen Vesna, were blessed by Temnobog and Belyolen, respectively - both Deer gods were impressed with their actions, and made the young rulers their divine champions to ensure that their kingdom, Bitaniya, prospers under the Balance of Good and Evil. While Strazha is the feared "Hoof" of Bitaniya, Vesna is the beloved "Heart" who counters her brother's harsh methods with her benevolence.
    • As the Alicorn god of Ponykind, Golden Scepter is essentially this trope since he embodies both Ponykind's good and bad traits. It's because of this that Golden Scepter has to constantly regulate his own actions and behavior with a "balance check" where he must know Good to do Evil, while doing Good requires knowing Evil. Favoring one side over the other will either lead to him becoming an incompetent puppet for his subjects to manipulate or a divine tyrant that would be eventually overthrown, the latter which happened to him and nearly ended his life during the Imperium era. Ironically, despite being an ancient god, this trope makes him more "human" than a large majority of the Codexverse's gods, and learning about the Good Needs Evil philosophy from Belyolen and Temnobog during one of his adventures was what allowed him to become a very successful ruler come the Fourth Age. It's also because he embodies Ponykind's dual morality that Belyolen and Temnobog have started respected and even befriended him, as in their eyes, he represents the god and ruler they could have been had their father, Irminsul, not tried to erase the flaws of his then-unborn son.
    • In the "Final Ragnarok" arc, the god Bogolenya is the result of the Primeval of Co-Existence, Symvíosi, fusing Belyolen and Temnobog together in order to gain a much-needed advantage over High King Ragnarøkkr, creating a balanced and incredibly powerful God-Emperor who embodied mortal Deerkind at its best and worst. The narration even notes that when he first appeared, his mere presence reminded everyone who witnessed it of Golden Scepter, who embodied mortal Ponykind's best and worst traits.
  • White Sheep (RWBY): The balance from canon is mentioned. However, everyone soon realizes that the God of Light has been stacking the deck in his favor. He broke his own rules by reincarnating Ozma, leaving behind the Relics, and empowering the Silver-Eyed Warriors, all so that if humanity did manage to redeem themselves, he'd get all the credit. Yang is able to use this to convince the God of Darkness to turn on his brother. Once he wins, he leaves the world as it is, declaring that it is reasonably balanced between the Grimm-hybrids and the Silver-Eyed Warriors, and doesn't need the gods interfering any more.
  • J-WITCH Series:
    • Midway through Season 1, the Oracle suggests that the creation of the sixth Auremere when Will cures Jade of being the Queen of the Shadowkhan is the Universe's way of strengthening the Forces of Light to meet the increased opposition from the Forces of Darkness, a result of Phobos and Tarakudo's Villain Team-Up. After seeing Jade's first transformation, Jackie has a similar theory that some Sentient Cosmic Force worked through the Heart of Kandrakar to create a new Auremere to restore balance.
    • Early in Season 2, when the relics containing the chi traces of the Demon Sorcerers become active, it's speculated that this is the universe's way of making the Forces of Darkness strong enough to balance the Guardians' recent increase in power from the Veil being brought down.

  • Night Watch:
    • This is the main plot of the Russian film. The eponymous group are the forces of good who stop the forces of evil (The Day Watch, to be the title of the sequel) from becoming too strong. The Day Watch does likewise, all because of a treaty between the two sides. The book series the film is based on makes it clearer; neither side directly acts on the Muggles, out of fear of giving power to the other side to maintain the balance. For instance, a Night Watch member has to get approval to cure a loved one's cancer, because doing so might give the Day Watch cause to go out and give someone AIDS. In truth, both the Day Watch and the Night Watch are one and the same; the power struggle between them is carefully monitored on the part of the Inquisition, which has all the real power. The Watches only exist so young Others' can satisfy their primordial alignment, the goal being to unite all Others, light or dark.
    • Another point is that the Twilight, the source of magic in the series, is capable of taking its own steps to restore equilibrium, should one side hold too much of an advantage.
  • The Star Wars prequel trilogy has a Jedi prophecy about Anakin Skywalker bringing "Balance to the Force". The Council had noticed that the Force had gone out of balance some 200 years before this, and by that point, the Galactic Republic was mired in corruption. The lines from the movies that make the viewer think the Jedi misunderstand the prophecy are set as true by Word of God. Anakin fulfills the prophecy at the end of the original trilogy, when he as a Sith finally turns on his treacherous master and proves the death of them both. In the Continuity Reboot, a new Dark Side order rises to replace the Sith, and in response the Force creates new heroes to oppose them.
  • In The Dark Crystal, balance is enforced de facto: The good urRu and the evil Skeksis are the separated good and evil halves of the same creatures, the UrSkeks. Whenever a good one dies, an evil one of equal stature instantly dies somewhere else in the world, and vice-versa. The UrSkeks' original plan was to rid themselves of moral imperfections using the Crystal, but instead they got split into two races, no doubt because of the balance between good and evil.
  • Mentioned in Little Nicky, although that movie dealt with the balance tipping to evil. In a neat twist, Satan was just as interested in maintaining the balance as God was. It was Satan's kids who were upsetting the apple cart.
  • A variant occurs in Avatar when Neytiri tells a praying Jake, "Our great mother does not take sides, Jake; she protects the balance of life." Fortunately for our heroes, she chooses to help the balance-respecting Navi against the unbalanced humans.
  • Epic (2013): The forces of the forest (good) and the forces of rot (evil). Rot is necessary for continued growth, but too much can doom the whole forest.
  • Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies: When Morgana tries to wish for there to be no evil in the world, the Djinn explains that he can't grant that wish, stating that "evil is one half of a perfect sphere". He explains that good can't exist without its antithesis, so she'll have to be more creative.
  • Rollo and the Spirit of the Woods includes a character who literally has giant scales to measure good and evil in the world. He asks the protagonists to work a peace between their feuding peoples and balance the scales. He says that if evil grows too strong, an eternal darkness will veil the land. This does happen temporarily until the scales are balanced again.

  • Book of Swords trilogy by Michael Moorcock was the balance between the good (or at least sane) Forces of Law and the depraved Forces of Chaos, both of whom were under the domination of the Cosmic Balance. That war ended when the hero Prince Corum, an incarnation of the Eternal Champion who had spent his existence fighting to preserve the balance, unleashed two gods from outside the rules of the Cosmic Balance who went on to kill off both sides, freeing their subject worlds to grow and evolve without a pack of selfish gods interfering.
    • In The Quest for Tanelorn (last of the Chronicles of Castle Brass trilogy), the Cosmic Balance or at least a representation of it, is itself destroyed, with the narrative implying in places that it may be the belief in 'higher powers' in the first place that's holding mankind back from realizing its true potential.
  • Stephen King's novel Insomnia reveals that his Multiverse is ruled by four theoretically-equal forces: Life, Death, the Purpose and the Random. The Random is responsible for much suffering and chaos, and is the closest equivalent to Evil. Earthquakes that kill a hundred thousand people can be part of the the Purpose, but the higher beings of the Purpose are good and want to maintain balance. The highest being of the Random is the Crimson King, who was described as the embodiment of evil; he wanted to destroy everything and rule the hellscape that remained forever.
  • Roger Zelazny's works:
    • In Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming, there is an organized competition between the forces of Heaven and Hell over who will control fate for the next thousand years.
    • Played with in A Night in the Lonesome October, which involved semi-regular contests between "Openers" and "Closers" over opening a portal to ancient gods of wonder and terror. If a contest was a draw, or won by Closers, the world remained the same, maintaining the current balance. Much of the month of the contest was filled with players carefully feeling out each other's allegiance and angling for advantage without sending the contest up into premature fireworks — maintaining another balance, if a pragmatic one.
    • The Chronicles of Amber series of stories. The Pattern and the Logrus contest with each other over control of the Shadows between Amber and the Courts of Chaos. In the novel Prince of Chaos the Primal Pattern says that it and the Logrus are fundamental principles by which the universe is organized. The Pattern represents order, reason and sanity, and the Logrus represent chaos, feeling and madness. However, neither seeks the other's extinction, because they know that if either existed without the other it would lead to a dead end.
  • Eve Forward's Villains by Necessity: Good has thoroughly dominated evil, obligating the protagonists to restore the balance to prevent catastrophe. The Hero Antagonists have been brainwashing captured villains to make them good at the expense of their personalities. All of them are Knight Templars who don't realize that if the Light wins, the world will be destroyed, though even if they did it's stated they'd still feel duty-bound to fight Evil.
  • In The Saga of Recluce the Balance of Order and Chaos is a quantifiable phenomena. Order and Chaos are the basic components of the world, tightly bound together to create matter. Mages who use only Order or Chaos release an equal amount of the other component into the world. As such, the more an Order-mage creates, the more Chaos will be available for a Chaos-mage to wield. This poses the largest problem for Order-mages as Ordered creations are enduring while Chaos is fleeting; there is almost always a surplus of the latter. Chaos and Order are not Good and Evil, as illustrated by heroes throughout the series who wield one or the other, or even, in rare cases, both in equal measure. Absolute Order is death, as living things need to change, evolve and grow (a form of Chaos) but also need structure (a form of Order) or they will collapse. Usually only the central character is really conscious of it and strives to maintain the Balance, while the wizards on either side try to have *more* Order or Chaos, which usually backfires. Both Fairhaven and Recluce are destroyed, at different times, by Gray wizards. The Chaos Wizards wear white and their city is Fairhaven, while Order Mages wear black and Nylan is the Black City.
  • Christopher Pike's The Last Vampire series explains that God created evil, because without it people were complacent and couldn't become truly good.
  • Andre Norton's Witch World novel Horn Crown features good and evil prototypes of the gods. The evil ones declare, at the end, that they will win; the good ones merely observe that they know that the battle is unending.
  • In Good Omens, the forces of Good and Evil are trying to destroy each other, but Aziraphale and Crowley (an angel and a demon, both very low-ranking) have been working opposite each other for so long that they've become friends. They work to maintain the balance because it allows both of them to report successes to their superiors without anything really changing over time, which coincidentally allows them to keep working together on Earth. It's suggested that this may be the underlying idea behind the conflict in the first place, so that neither side ever wins permanently, but God's plan is so ineffable note  that none of the lesser angels or demons know this for certain.
    It's implied that halfway between good and evil lie humans, who in turn are capable of the better acts than angels and worse acts than demons. For either side to win would destroy humanity, free will, and the whole world. The free will part of this is what makes Adam realize that doing whatever he wants with the world isn't the right way to go about it, because what's the point of having friends if you can make them do whatever you want?
  • The Night Watch (Series) trilogy features a balance between the Light and the Dark, enforced by the Night Watch and Day Watch respectively, though it seems to be more of a ceasefire than an actual cosmic law.
    • There's an amusing scene in the first book where Anton, the protagonist and agent of the Night Watch, uses his magic to force an annoying street hawker to become more moral and is immediately called out on it by a pair of Day Watch agents. Anton tries, unsuccessfully, to persuade them that the hawker's quality of life will decrease as his morality improves, and thus he has not violated the balance.
    • As the series continues, it becomes more and more obvious that Light versus Dark isn't good versus evil so much as Utopia for everyone versus Utopia for few, among other things, Hitler was the Light Others' fault. As it turns out, higher ranking and/or older Others don't see a great difference between the two, the dark siders just place themselves higher than everyone else.
  • Louise Cooper's Time Master trilogy is Playing with a Trope. The trilogy opens thousands of years after the Gods of Order have banished the Gods of Chaos from the universe. At the end, the Gods of Order don't care at all about their followers, and the Gods of Chaos decide to establish a balance rather than banish the Gods of Order in revenge.
  • Fighting Fantasy
    • Creature of Havoc: A trio of evil(ish) witches want the eponymous creature to defeat the Big Bad in order to prevent too much evil from entering the world and thus upsetting the balance.
    • Dead of Night, an order of Stupid Neutral mages is duped by the Demon Prince Myurr into helping him stage a demonic invasion on the grounds that Good has become too powerful.
  • This is justified in Animorphs. The conflict between the mostly good Ellimist and the utterly evil Crayak is less of a traditional balance and more of a Cold War. Both sides would be happy to wipe out the other given the chance, and tried to in the Back Story. The consequences for both were catastrophic: their battle caused massive loss to the lives the Ellimist wanted to protect, and Crayak lost what little progress he had made in controlling the threads of reality. This led to the Ellimist and Crayak's current arrangement of fighting through proxies, with any final victory only taking place after eons of "playing."
  • In Amos Daragon, a person (the "mask wearer") is chosen to keep a balance on good and evil and both sides are more nuanced than they appear. The series is filled with Light Is Not Good and Dark Is Not Evil. There are plenty of "Dark" creatures which don't want to massacre humans, yet get hunted down for no other reason than they exist. In fact, the last couple books involve stopping a crusade to wipe out the creatures of the night. The protagonist's job is to stop the war between the gods, not kill all evil creatures.
  • This is built into the laws of reality in The Death Gate Cycle: good existing unchallenged long enough causes evil and vice versa, meaning that (by the standards of the cosmos as a whole) a rough equilibrium will always be maintained. The bad guys want to fix everything towards the evil end, as they feed off of mortal suffering.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • In Changes, Harry crosses over into the Nevernever to find himself in an idyllic flower garden and immediately starts telling Bob that he suspects that it is a darker and more dangerous place than it appears to be. Bob chides Harry for his cynicism and tells him that every time the universe creates a place of darkness, it creates an equal place of light, so not everything can be bad. Then the centipede the size of a freight train that multiplies into more centipedes when it gets hacked up attacks.
    • In Small Favor, the plot of the Denarians, human hosts who have accepted a Fallen Angel into their body in exchange for greater power and other perks, to kidnap Marcone as a ruse to kidnap The Archive is implied to have direct assistance from Ol' Scratch himself by him giving his minions Super-Hellfire to be able to possibly contain the Archive, so an angel is allowed to intervene by granting Dresden the ability to use Soulfire, the fires of creation itself.
      Jake the Janitor: You gotta think that maybe there's a matter of balance, here. Maybe one archangel invested his strength in this situation overtly and immediately. Maybe another one was quieter about it. Thinking long-term. Maybe he already gave you a hand.
    • In Ghost Story, the revelation that Harry's choices towards the end of Changes were partially influenced by a lie, e.g. seven words whispered by a fallen angel means that the other side gets to whisper seven words of Truth at a time of their choosing.
    • In general, supernatural forces of good take a hands-off approach, letting humans do anything but intervening to counter supernatural forces of evil in order to preserve free will. Mortals working for good are not subject to any such restrictions.
    • In a lower-lever version, the Sidhe Courts of Summer and Winter are all about balance. While Summer is considered the nicer of the two, Good Is Not Nice can always apply, and likewise with Winter being the darker, Dark Is Not Evil can work just as well. For half the year, one court grows in power as the other shrinks until the solstice. Most anytime one side aims to seek a gain, whether an item to retrieve or person to kill, the other side will respond in force to stop this gain. The potential danger for one side to gain a permanent and unmatched gain would result in either a new ice age if Winter won, or an expansion of unchecked growth (including not just plants and animals but also viruses like Ebola) if Summer won.
      Cold Days reveals that the balance maintained between Summer and Winter serves a larger purpose beyond just keeping each other in check: the Winter Court is the universe's front line of defense against the Outsiders, Eldritch Abominations that constantly seek to invade and destroy the world as we know it. Summer exists as a buffer between Winter and the rest of the world, both supporting the Winter fae in holding back the Outsiders and protecting the rest of the world from Winter.
  • The High House series by James Stoddard uses this, but substitutes good and evil with order and chaos (most likely because the author doesn't seem to have any problem with the presence of good overwhelming the presence of evil). Too much order is portrayed as tyranny and a lack of free will; too much chaos is portrayed as anarchy and a lack of personal safety. Arguably, this makes the books the perfect fantasy series for libertarians.
  • In Discworld, as in the England of our world, there are morris dancers who perform their ritualistic dance in spring with bells and colourful costumes to welcome in the summer. However, in order to balance this, there are also Dark morris dancers who use silent bells and black costumes, dancing in the autumn to welcome in the winter. In Wintersmith we see what happens when this equilibrium is disturbed.
  • Part of Rock's shtick in Warrior Cats is that there must be a balance between light and darkness, because without one the other would not exist.
  • Exists in The Girl Who Would Be King, with good embodied in the Bravermans and evil in the LeFevers. The families have been fighting for centuries, neither capable of ever winning.
  • This, combined with balance between Order and Chaos is the main motivation of Grundy from A Fable of Tonight series. Grundy brings order to the world with too much chaos and chaos to the world with too much order. However, because he is utterly evil, the only means of doing so he understands involve a lot of pain and suffering, because of which he is opposed by a force he calls the Adversary, who represents good and intervenies when his actions shift the balance too much for the other side. Despite being antagonistic forces, Grundy believes both he and his Adversary understand that one cannot ever kill another because that would upset the balance too much. He also believes that cutting him out of any world means that something else will take his place to preserve the balance.
  • The Quest of the Unaligned:
    • Good and Evil are inextricably entangled in the four forms of elemental magic. Only the most powerful magical artifact in the world can separate them, and then only for one person at the time, so getting rid of the Balance Between Good and Evil is not so much undesirable as impossible.
    • This is not to be confused with the Balance among the four elemental magics. That Balance behaves in the conventional way, where it is possible to tilt the Balance towards any one of the four, but doing so is disastrous. For example, a king and queen have become infatuated with wind magic, causing the Balance to tilt and the country to be plagued with droughts, earthquakes, tornadoes, and cyclones.
  • Star Wars Legends shows that the prophecy was just a bunch of noodles, as there are tons of Dark Jedi and Sith and other users of the Dark Side left.
    • Luke accepts this view during Apocalypse after his tag-team battle with Darth Krayt, against Abeloth. Cooperation between the Jedi and the Sith is the only way to keep Abeloth from destroying the entire Galaxy since the Ones are Dead, so the warring between them in the times when Abeloth isn't an immediate threat is a necessary side-effect.
    • In a way, Luke's reforms to the Jedi Order are about finding a balance between the Jedi's discipline and the Sith's passion- for instance, allowing members to marry and raise families, and encouraging individual self-education alongside more regimented learning.
    • In the novel The Truce at Bakura, the religion of the Cosmic Balance preaches that every bit of good fortune produces an equal misfortune somewhere else, and vice versa. Parents commonly choose one child to enjoy a privileged, educated life, and balance it by sending another into a life of deprivation and servitude.
  • Sword of Truth: Ann says to Richard at one point that she believes getting rid of the Keeper (who embodies death and is the main Big Bad in the early series) would not be a good thing, unlike the view other Sisters of the Light have. She explains that without the Keeper nothing would ever die. Very soon there would be no room for anyone in the world and they'd be left as utterly miserable immortals forever. She warns him never to tell anyone about her view, because many would consider it heresy and proof that she's a servant of the Keeper herself.
  • In The Platinum Key the Spirits of Jumboland don't usually interfere with mortal business, but Rhianna the Earth Spirit saves Aly from Tayk Wun, because she felt that Tayk Wun was a dangerously evil force that was threatening to upset the balance between good and evil. She used her powers to restore the balance.
  • The School for Good and Evil The good side has been keep winning.. for the past 200 years. Of course there is something wrong in background.
  • In The Sword of Good, the Lord of Dark is planning to cast the Spell of Infinite Doom, that will destroy the Equilibrium that holds the world in Balance. But "Equilibrium" is just the status quo, which is blatantly unjust, and the fact that those in power simply don't care. The hero's Sword of Good only comes into its true power when he turns on his former allies and resolves to help the Lord of Dark fix the world.
  • Discussed in The Stormlight Archive: the Vorin religion holds that The Almighty is innately good, so the universe balances his works by creating the evil of the Voidbringers. However, Humanity Is Special because their dual nature allows them to choose good and tip the balance. That said, there's no evidence of this being true, and the Almighty at least is very different from the Vorin understanding of him.
  • Ferret mythology in Tasakeru always ends badly if someone kills Death because of this trope.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • The Pattern operates on this. In theory, the turning from the Age of Legends to the Third Age being a World Sundering of the worst kind will mean that the turning from the Third Age to the Fourth Age will be a golden age of peace, for one example. Also, ta'veren cause effects that can be good or bad, but increase the amount of both, simply enhancing the chances of both of those things happening over neither of them. By Books 13 and 14, Rand notes that his Fertile Feet effect is due to the Dark One providing more than enough on the "bad" end of things, so he works as an agent of the Creator for the Pattern to give balance through good only.
    • Near the end of the series, Rand realizes destroying the Dark One would actually result in a world with everyone essentially brainwashed to be happy and good all the time, without any free will. Therefore he concludes the Dark One is necessary, and likely was created as the source of human evil by the Creator to provide free will. Therefore, he simply seals him back up instead.
  • Mermaid's Song: Most species find it easier to be evil than good. The Seadragons are the only species that has more good than evil, so their well-being is crucially important to maintaining the Balance, without which nothing could survive under the sea.
  • Mirror Dreams has the Kingdoms of the Void, divided into the kingdoms linked to Haven, which contain all good dreams, and the kingdoms linked to Nightkeep, which contain all nightmares. The balance between the two is stated to simply be the rules. The problem? The lords of Nightkeep aren't into sticking to those rules and have a tendency to keep attempting to take over Haven.
  • Averted in No Need for a Core?, for while evil is looked upon as the inevitable result of free will, it is not welcomed, and the creator deities have tilted the balance of the world to give benign entities an edge in luck, and malign entities a slight malus of bad luck. Not enough to violate the freedom to make their own choices, but enough of a subtle edge to make sure that evil is eventually overcome. But given that this can work on time scales relevant to immortal beings that created the world, it may not always be noticeable in the day-to-day lives of mortals.
  • The Scholomance: Balance is a major factor in how the magical world works. According to main protagonist El, the Principle of Balance states anything magical that upsets things too much will cause a countering effect. This doesn't just apply to good and evil, just everything in general. The primary example is El and her love interest, Orion. Approximately one or so years before they were born, a coven of maleficers slaughtered an entire year of students to gain enough power to escape the Scholomance. El believes that Orion, a dark wizard-slaying hero, was born in response to this, to save the lives of students in the Scholomance and pay off that "debt". In return, El was born in response to him, as a dark sorceress prophecized to bring death and destruction to the magical world (and certainly, her mother being a incorruptible and selfless Earth Mother didn't help). It's only in the third book that it's revealed to be the reverse: Orion is actually a half-maw-mouth Living Weapon engineered by his mother using the sacrifices of all those students who died the year before his birth, who is destined to lose control of his Horror Hunger and destroy the world. El is The Chosen One that the universe deliberately engineered to be born in order to stop him and to change the world and make it a better place by resurrecting the Golden Enclaves.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer,
    • Willow's resurrection of Buffy at the beginning of season six allegedly caused an imbalance that created an opportunity for the First Evil to become the Arc Villain for season seven (now that there's an army of Slayers, the balance must have snapped like an elastic band...or possibly been restored, since everyone acts like the First isn't a threat anymore somehow).
    • Whistler from "Becoming" Parts 1 and 2 identifies himself as an agent of the Balance, although some fans argue that he was an agent of Good who identified himself as Balance because he worked to counteract other "demons" who were predominantly evil. The canonical comics later establish that Whistler is a hybrid born from a forbidden relationship between an angel and a demon, so the Powers That Be decided he was uniquely suited to maintain balance between good and evil.
    • In Angel, it's implied that there is a balance imposed by one side. Evil demons, gods, and so on, are constantly trying to take over and/or destroy the world, and the Powers That Be only do enough to prevent it. Given how much they could do, it's clear they're only trying to stop evil from taking over and not defeat it permanently.
    • Jasmine, the Season 4 Big Bad, might be an overdue object lesson in why the Powers don't want to get too involved. Within a single episode, Jasmine casts all evil demons out of LA and puts a stop to all conflict... by taking away free will so that all anyone can do is think about how wonderful she is plus a few human sacrifices. When Angel defeats her, he gets unwanted thanks from the forces of darkness for averting world peace.
  • Charmed
    • This sort of thing comes up in Paige's introductory episode. There is a 48-hour window after a witch receives her powers during which she can be swayed to good or evil. When Piper demands to know who would make up such a stupid rule, Leo looks upward and Cole looks down, indicating that this is another of those balancing things The Powers That Be on both sides have agreed on.
    • The balance is preserved by a Mirror Universe — if good wins in one universe, evil wins in the other and balances it out. Traveling between them disrupted the balance and made the normal universe "too good" — the sun never sets, everyone is freakishly happy all the time, and even minor crimes like using your cellphone in a hospital are punished by mutilation. In the similarly-disrupted evil balance, the same sort of mutilation was enacted for such trivial niceties as saying "Gesundheit" when someone sneezed. Essentially, the point being made was that Good and Evil cannot tolerate the others' existence, and therefore in a world dominated by one, any act (no matter how minor) that runs contrary to the ideals of either is punished harshly. It is the mix of the two that provides tolerance and temperance.
    • This is also inverted by the Avatars, a third faction devoted to neutrality who want to create a Utopia by removing both good and evil (as well as anybody who gets into any sort of conflict for any reason).
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Enemy Within", Captain Kirk gets split into his good side and his evil side. In the end, it's shown why the pair need each other: Evil Kirk had the confidence to make decisions but was aggressive and cruel, stealing alcohol and attempting to rape Yeoman Rand, and was prone to panic when faced with the prospect of dying. On the other hand, Good Kirk had the wisdom and courage to conduct himself with calm dignity, but was too timid and indecisive to make the tough decisions necessary to serve as an effective captain.
  • Seven Days has a villain who has converted his asylum into a cult dedicated to preserving the balance with astrology. He thinks that this is tipped in favor of Good, so naturally he has guys committing random crimes to even things out. He's in the asylum for a reason.
  • Invoked in the Smallville episode Quest. A deluded religious fanatic thought that if he killed Clark Kent, the most powerful force of good in the world, then all the evil in the world would disappear.
  • Lost invokes the trope with a balance scale holding black and white rocks. After arranging for Jacob's death, the Man in Black throws the white rock into the ocean.
  • In the original run of Doctor Who, the Black and White Guardians are embodiments of this principle. In the Expanded Universe there is an Azure Guardian of Equilibrium.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers is said that this sort of balance is needed to keep the Morphing Grid stable. Of course, since it was Lord Zedd saying this, he put it at less "good vs. evil" and more "Zordon vs. him". It also explains why Zordon's second rule for the rangers is to never escalate a battle unless forced to by a villain.
    • This is further reinforced in Power Rangers Cosmic Fury regarding Lord Zedd's attempt to replicate his version of Zordon's Z-Wave, where it instead wipes out all that is good. Zayto, now a Morphin Master, and his teammates reason with him that Zedd will only bring harm to himself than good if he wipes out all good in the universe.
  • Babylon 5: the main characters think they are doing this at first between the "good" Vorlons (and the races under their influence) and the "evil" Shadows and their servitors, yet later in the series it's clear that both are kind of Well Intentioned Extremists and Abusive Precursors as they follow extreme opposite philosophies. According to J. Michael Straczynski the conflict between Order (the Vorlons) and Chaos (the Shadows) like in Babylonian cosmology was an important part of the series mythos.
  • Good Omens (2019): Aziraphale and Crowley are Heaven and Hell's, respectively, most active agents on Earth - and long-time friends. The two realize during the King Arthur years that all they're doing is thwarting each other, with the end result being neutral. They come to what they call "the Arrangement," where they either both do nothing (and tell their bosses they were thwarted by the other side), or occasionally one of them goes off to do both of their jobs to save them some time. Because of this, the vast majority of human history, for good and ill, is entirely the fault of humans.
  • Supernatural: God and his "sister" Amara were once the only two entities in existence to emerge from the primordial void before he built the rest of the universe. While Amara embodies destruction and God embodies creation, one cannot exist without the other, and either being killed by their sibling would cause a Reality-Breaking Paradox. However, they're not strictly Good vs. Evil, as they both have shown propensities for either despite claiming to be Above Good and Evil. When they separated, the universe was created, and while neither of them can die without screwing up reality, they can re-merge into one entity.
  • The underlying plot of the Kamen Rider Outsiders mini-series involves two opposing artificial intelligence that represent the "good" (Zein) and "evil" (Ark) in the unified Heisei-Reiwa Kamen Rider universe. Zein exists as a being of benevolence and all of humanity's positive traits that seeks to purge all evil in the world, which draw the attention of Ark and its creator, Gai Amatsu. In the light of Zein's presence, Foundation X began recruiting active villainous Riders or even revive villains that were dead at the end of their respective series to counteract Zein's influence. However, Zein also turned out to be nowhere as benign as it claims to be, as it enacts a witch hunt against every villainous Rider in existence before it can eliminate humanity and Take Over the World. In episode 4, that balance is ultimately broken when Kamen Rider Garren singlehandedly destroyed the weakened Ark. With the Ark completely off the grid comes someone far worse taking its place, which is none other than Zein itself.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Zoroastrianism has two equal Gods of good and evil but it's quite clear that in the end Ahura Mazda will triumph over Angra Mainyu, so Zoroastrianism isn't of the "balance for balance's sake" school of thought.note 
  • Manichaeism had the same idea, influenced by Gnosticism, with the material world being created by dark forces who trapped souls in physical bodies. Mani, the prophet that the religion was named after, had come to reveal the truth that would free people from this to reunite with God.
  • Mormonism teaches that this was a major reason for the fall of Adam and Eve. The Forbidden Fruit was placed in opposition to the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden because of the need for "an opposition in all things" (see 2 Nephi 2), and Satan was allowed to tempt them so they could make their own choices to know the difference between bitter and sweet (see D&C 29:39-41).
  • Contrary to popular belief, not present in Taoism or anything else that uses the yin-yang symbol. Yin and Yang represent harmony through complementary opposites like dark/light, female/male, earth/sky, etc. In such philosophies, morality is seen as a social construct rather than a cosmic absolute (like in Zoroastrianism). The closest thing to 'evil' in the Western sense is anything that disrupts harmony, i.e., not part of yin or yang.
  • Ancient Egyptian religion focused heavily on a balance between creation and destruction, worship being done primarily to keep the destructive forces (often translated as demons) from getting too out of control. It fits this trope since the biggest baddest destroyer, Apep, was evil and its primary opponent, Ra, was good.

  • Parodied in the Cool Kids Table game Star War when Ackbar tells the Jedi that the prophecy about bringing about balance in the Force clearly meant "wipe out all the Sith so that only the light remains".

    Professional Wrestling 
  • This is Taeler Hendrix's rationale for rejecting the Ring of Honor code, more or less. She believes good vs evil is the greatest story ever told and happily embraced her inner villain to ensure the story never came to an end.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This trope is a core element of the ur-Role-Playing Game Dungeons & Dragons.
    • One part of the Druid's job description in the early editions of the game is "Keeper of the Balance", a reference to both the balance between Good and Evil, and the one between Law (Order) and Chaos. To facilitate this, Druids had to be Neutral in alignment in the original basic set. In the later editions, they only need to be partially neutral; the alignments are the nine combinations of [good, neutral, evil] and [law, neutral, chaos]. In the basic game, neutral was one of the three alignments, along with law and chaos.
    • It's stated on occasion that the gods won't interfere directly much, because doing so will inspire opposing gods to step in and add their own influence.
    • Concordant Killers are outsiders that are part-celestial, part-fiend, supposedly created by gods of Neutrality to preserve the cosmic balance. Their ability to overcome any non-True Neutral outsider's defenses with their attacks makes Concordant Killers master assassins, and they'll work for any patron, but collectively track their kills to ensure that they don't favor any one alignment over another.
    • In the D&D 4th edition core setting, the balance between good and evil is maintained by the primordials, a group of god-like eldritch abominations who are at war with the gods. The war's mostly cooled off, but could flare again at any moment. Because of this, the good gods and evil gods are loath to battle each other; the evil gods know that if they were to slay their good counterparts and take over the cosmos, they'd rule for about five minutes before the primordials swarmed them. Likewise, the good gods know the villain they slay today could be the ally that would have saved them from a primordial tomorrow. Not all the gods play by these rules, and some are even likely to come down on the side of the primordials when the fight starts up again, but for the most part the looming threat keeps the peace between them.
  • The Dragonlance campaign setting's backstory shows us why this whole balance business is necessary. After a hero wielding the eponymous weapon defeated and banished the evil goddess Takhisis, things improved quickly, but with no real bad guys to fight, the Church of Paladine began persecuting anyone who wasn't good enough. Then, their Pope-analog decided that to purge evil from the world completely, he needed to become a god. The gods' answer to this was to throw a mountain down on Ishtar, causing the Cataclysm, sending Ishtar to the bottom of the sea and reshaping much of the world. The gods then disappeared from the world. In short, if there's no Evil, some of the Good becomes Evil to compensate. If there's too much Evil, then the Evil turns on itself and kills itself off. It's a kind of self-maintaining balance. There are also forces of Neutral that work to maintain that balance, most visibly the neutral gods of the pantheon and the red-robed wizards of the Towers of High Sorcery.
  • Eberron: Subverted. At the beginning of the universe, everything was in balance. The three Primordial Dragons came together to create the world, which would be balanced between them. Then Khyber murdered her brother Syberis, and Eberron bound Khyber in her coils while creating the world. The most immediate side effect is that there are far more demons and fiends (the children of Khyber) in the mortal realm than there are angels and celestials (the children of Syberis); the first age of the world was the Age of Demons, with immortal fiends running rampant over the world, toying with mortals while the celestials tried and failed to fight back. Eventually, the couatl, the native celestials, sacrificed the vast majority of their number to create the Silver Flame, which mortals could use to fight evil. This sets up one of the most core themes of Eberron; the world needs heroes, and they are empowered by the great forces of the world rather than those forces being able to handle everything themselves.
  • The Greyhawk setting has the Circle of Eight, an order composed primarily of wizards and lead by Mordenkainen to maintain (Mordenkainen's vision of) the balance. Keeping Evil around is required to keep Good working together and on the ball, lest they start with the infighting as mortals are wont to do. No, not all good guys are on the same side on Oerth by default — they need someone on the outside pushing them together.
  • Planescape:
    • The Rilmani are living embodiments of True Neutral, much like how Devils are the embodiments of Lawful Evil or Aasimon (angels) are Made of Good. The Rilmani are concerned with balance because "Good" and "Evil" (and Law and Chaos) aren't just points of view, but very real metaphysical forces that compose the multiverse. Too great an imbalance has serious cosmological implications. It would be like tinkering with the fundamental forces in particle physics.
    • One example of such cosmological implications can be found on the plane of Outland. It's the True Neutral plane said to be the "hub" of the Great Wheel of the multiverse, and as such borders all of the Outer Planes. In a great circle equidistant from Outland's center are a series of portal towns with links to a particular outer plane, which is obviously a great boon for merchants or adventurers looking to travel around the Great Wheel without a high-level spellcaster's help. The problem is that if the overall Character Alignment of one of those town's populations reaches a certain tipping point, the town and everyone in it spontaneously vanishes from Outland to merge with its parent plane, which can be very unpleasant if said plane is one of the Lower Planes. As such, the merchants and others interested in keeping the portal towns on Outland try to work to make sure there's a bit of darkness in Ecstasy, some light in Hopeless, a bit of order in Xaos and some spontaneity to Automata.
  • The characters in Legend of the Five Rings tend to frame themselves as good and the forces of Fu Leng as evil, and The Powers That Be seem to want a balance between the two, however this seems to be a case of Unreliable Narrator or Values Dissonance.
    • The Samurai clearly represent the extreme of Order, while the Oni represent Chaos. Interestingly, a being called the Lying Darkness wants to destroy all reality, and it has been overtly stated that this is NOT good or evil. Based on this it's not unreasonable to assume that their definitions of Good and Evil are just Order and Chaos from the POV of Knights Templar.
    • The side of Good are the Oracles of the Four Elements, and the Evil side has the Dark Oracles. Exempt from this is the Oracle of the Void, who's considered neutral...until the then-current Oracle married the Emperor, at which point The Powers That Be considered her to have chosen Good, and thus chose someone to become the Dark Oracle of the Void — and she was not happy about it...
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse
    • In the game's mythology, the major source of conflict both in the game and throughout all of reality was the corruption of the force of balance known as the Wyrm. The Wyld (chaos) and the Weaver (order) would simultaneously work to conceive new things and give them form, respectively, and the Wyrm (entropy) would destroy those things whose time had passed in order to provide raw materials (and space) for new things to be created. Eventually, sick of having everything it made torn apart and destroyed, the Weaver entangled the Wyrm in its web, driving the Wyrm insane and turning it into the force of evil and corruption instead of balance and natural decay.
    • The Kitsune (werefoxes) had appeared in a book before the release of Hengeyokai, in which they took on a considerably different role; they were cast as the agents of the Balance Wyrm, and were purported to take that responsibility very seriously. Aside from the short write-up in the back of an unrelated sourcebook, though, they never appeared in other material in that form before being retconned into the tricksters of the Beast Court (where the were-snakes filled the roles of Balance Wyrm's agents).
  • Magic: The Gathering has a rather perverse version of this on the plane of Innistrad. The human population believes that the angel Avacyn is the savior of humanity who has prevented them from being wiped out by the variety of monsters in their world. Only a few people know the truth that Avacyn's actual purpose is to maintain balance so that vampires don't exhaust their food supply.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has a form of this in the backstory, where a war that spanned the galaxy between the Great Old Ones and the the Necrontyr had escalated, then died down, then escalated again when the Necrontyr encountered the C'tan and transformed themselves into the Necrons. When the Great Old Ones pitted their psychic technology and biological technology against the Necrons' new, incomprehensible hi-tech...well, the details are sketchy, but what's certain is that the Great Old Ones lost and presumably went extinct, and the Necrons overthrew the C'tan and went into hibernation. Interestingly, when the war surged up again, it was just a pretense put forth by the Necron known as the Silent King in a bid to unify his race just to overthrow the C'tan.
    • When all was said and done, this war decimated the galaxy and the Warp, being a sink for the psychic energy of emotion and souls, turned from quiet and peaceful to becoming a violent, psychotic plane infested by daemons born from the its raw negative energy. And thus Chaos was born.
      • Weirdly, Chaos also turned into Evil balancing Evil. Chaos has coalesced itself into an unknown number of greater entities, including the high pantheon of four Gods, who are all rivals and are locked in a constant war called the Great Game, that by its nature can never end. If one god makes gains against another, he would lose eventually lose them due to retaliation or another god making headway against him. If one god makes substantial gains, the others would team up against him until a semblance of balance was reasserted. One side can't win, because victory would mean the Warp would stop churning with violence and thus the end of Chaos; one side can't lose because it would always have enough strength to reassert itself; no side would stop fighting due to surrender or agreement to peace because that's fundamentally against their nature. It's said that if they turned their attention from one another they could easily conquer realspace, but it's only a very powerful mutual threat or the promise of drowning the galaxy into the Warp that can get them to stop fighting just long enough to team up.
      • And then there's Tzeentch, who actively plot against himself in addition to the other three Chaos gods (and the Eldar gods, and the Necron gods, and the Emperor, and...): because he's the personification of hope, his final victory against the others would leave him with no one to plot against, and thus defeat his own purpose for existence. So, all his long-running and convoluted plans-within-plans require some of the others to fail in order to work.
    • Then there's also the Emperor, who works to keep Chaos at bay from realspace, and humanity in particular. The Imperium has stayed stable, although not making any meaningful progress in any sense, for ten millennia. It's not a balance of Good and Evil by nature, but more by awful circumstances that hasn't changed in much meaningful ways for as long as the Imperium as we know it stood.

    Video Games 

  • In the Bayonetta series it's less about Good and Evil, and more about Light and Darkness being in balance, due to Light Is Not Good and Dark Is Not Evil being in full effect here. Despite this, the angels of light do decide to say screw it to the balance in the first game in an attempt at a power play to obliterate the Trinity of Realities so they can remake it in their own visage. In the second game the balance is actually shown to be off due to the events at the end of the first game, causing natural disasters on Earth, and both angels and demons attacking indiscriminately.
  • Castlevania: Far from a mere vampire, Dracula is the Dark Lord, an equal opposite to God. In Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, a cult seeks to resurrect him after his final defeat not because they worship him, but because they believe that in order for God to be perfectly good, there must be a being of perfect evil to stand against him. Whether this is true isn't known, but in the good ending one character speculates that if a Dark Lord is needed, then the universe will provide; no one person has to be evil.
    • In the reboot, Dracula masters the opposing powers of Void and Chaos, implied to be the true source of Light and Shadow magics, turning him into an unkillable anti-heroic guardian of Earth, mainly by killing anyone and their family who threatens the balance or just pisses him off. This ends up extending to Zobek and Satan, as Dracula becomes ruler of the Earth to prevent further divine/infernal intervention.
  • The Darksiders series: The Charred Council is charged with keeping Heaven and Hell "balanced", at least until Man can stand toe-to-toe with them, and are granted significant freedom on how to do so. Unfortunately, they've gone uncontested for so long that they turned corruptnote , and now seek to throw the universe into Chaos so that they may stay on top.
  • Diablo series:
    • The necromancers of the franchise base their actions on the notion of a Balance. The novels attempt to (not always successfully) play with this. In one book, the villain is a necromancer who points out that all the necromancers do is fight evil, which doesn't adhere to the concept of a Balance. The hero of the book, another necromancer, continues to fight him, but doesn't bother to explain why he's wrong. In another book, the Balance is interestingly defined not as Good and Evil, but Good and the absence of Evil. It's explained that light and dark are not necessarily good and evil, and while the balance tipping to evil would mean torment, the absence of evil would lead to stagnation. One additional point to consider that the Balance is sometimes portrayed (though not described as) not as being between good and evil, but making sure that neither the angels or the demons of the series gain too much of a foothold in the world, as both are jerks. It just so happens that at the time of the second game, the "evil" forces are much more overt in screwing with mortal reality, and only one angel is bothering to do something.
    • In-game materials and the guidebook make it clear that necromancers are True Neutral or Chaotic Neutral. It's just that when the world is completely full of Always Chaotic Evil demons, and there are not one but three hellkings running loose, True or Chaotic Neutral is right there side by side with Lawful Good.
  • The villain in Drakengard embodies the balance and so it follows that the only person capable of defeating it also embodies the Balance Between Good and Evil. Luckily, the protagonist is just Anti-Hero enough to do that.
  • In the late 80's rpg Dungeon Master, the backstory is that a magical experiment gone awry separated The Grey Wizard into Lord Chaos and Lord Librasulus (obviously an order counterpart). The protagonist, the Wizard's now ethereal apprentice, has to guide a group of heroes to obtain the Firestaff (which caused the incident) for Lord Librasulus. However, on the way you find several scrolls about how dangerous the staff is in the wrong hands, how neither order nor chaos is truly balanced, and so on. If you take the staff back to Lord Librasulus, he rewards you... with death. Instead you have to complete the original experiment, then use the staff to trap Lord Chaos and fuse the two sides together into a balanced whole again.
  • In Final Fantasy III, both Light and Darkness are shown to be capable of world-ending devastation: long before the events of the game, the world stood to be annihilated by a torrent of light, and four Warriors of Darkness rose to combat it. This time, it's darkness that threatens to overwhelm the world, with four Warriors of Light to oppose it. In the end, both the Warriors of Light and the Warriors of Darkness join forces to defeat the Cloud of Darkness, who despite her name does not embody darkness itself, but rather annihilation and oblivion. It's implied (and in some adaptions outright stated) that the flood of light in the distant past was also her doing.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: According to Word of God, Sophia is a deity that demands balance in all things. She is neither benevolent nor evil, and will actively aid either one depending on which currently has more power or influence. Her theme song, "Equilibrium", demonstrates this as the lyrics tell the story of a girl who lost her father in a war and was then beaten by her grief-stricken mother. Praying to Sophia for help, the goddess told her that in order to restore balance, the girl had to kill her mother. She did so, and then Sophia said the balance still needed correction, requiring the girl's suicide. And once again, the girl obeyed.
    • Final Fantasy XIV riffs on Final Fantasy III's plot in Patch 3.4: Soul Surrender. As it turns out, the Warriors of Darkness who have been doing the bidding of the Ascians were in fact once another world's Warriors of Light: having defeated every evil which stood before them, they inadvertently unleashed a tide of overwhelming light that threatened to consume their world and consign all its inhabitants to a Fate Worse than Death. The later Shadowbringers expansion revolves around visiting their world and fixing things by becoming its Warrior of Darkness, which turns out to be just the same sort of heroic things you did as the Warrior of Light on the Source but under a different flag. The "Sin Eater" enemies you fight in several dungeons and trials of the expansion even heavily resemble the Voidsent of the rest of the game, which are essentially demons created after a different world succumbed to a similar flood of darkness.
  • Flip Dimensions: All worlds in Lily's mind are supposed to have a Hero and Dark Lord, and if this balance is broken in too many worlds, the worlds will be temporarily destroyed. When the fictional worlds are rebooted without their original Dark Lords, new ones appear in their place, since Lily wants her stories to have antagonists to balance out the protagonists.
  • Get in the Car, Loser!: Deconstructed. The Divine Order claims that defeating the Machine Devil and its cult before date indicated by the prophecy is a disruption of balance and therefore nothing should be done until then. However, this just means the cult gets 10 years to freely murder innocents and spread their hateful ideology. Thus, the party is justified in taking the Sword of Fate early to fight back. When it looks like the balance is tipping in favor of the party, the Divine Order outright helps the Machine Devil Cult in the final battle.
  • In Immortal Souls, the supernatural Isis Corporation serves as a mediator between the hordes and gangs of shadow creatures that attack the humans and the holy warriors that protect the humans, doing whatever is needed to keep the two forces evenly matched. They attack the former only as needed to keep them from doing major damage and overrunning things, and the latter only in self-defense and when needed to remove any major advantage they happen to gain. The normal humans themselves are treated as collateral damage.
  • In Infernal, the introduction in the manual states that Lennox is hired to "restore the balance between Good and Evil", and although the concept of balance isn't made too explicit in the actual game, that's more or less how things end up — Lennox's actions do indeed prevent either heaven or hell from using Wolf's mind-control machine (which is the only course that leaves humanity free).
  • Jade Empire
    • The bad guys stole a goddess' power to end a major drought. But because of the need for balance, while the Empire has water in abundance, another land goes thirsty. The Emperor has drained the goddess' corpse like a vampire to make himself immortal, at the cost of preventing the dead from entering the afterlife, driving them insane.
    • One of your followers is a good demon named Chai Ka who exists in the mortal realm by inhabiting the body of a little girl. He's been charged by the heavens with aiding you in your quest. An evil demon named Ya Zhen also inhabits her body, put there intentionally by the Celestial Bureaucracy, and the reason given is always the need to "preserve the balance". One more cynical observer claims that nothing gives the heavens more pleasure than watching mortals deal with just these sorts of problems.
  • Kingdom Hearts
    • One of the first lines in the first game is "the closer you stand to the light, the larger your shadow becomes." Essentially saying that nothing can exist in the world of light without also adding to the darkness.
    • Birth by Sleep tried to do something about the balance between light and darkness, as light was waaay too powerful for universal safety. In doing so, Master Xehanort jumped off the slippery slope, and ended up causing mass suffering to millions, as the darkness grew in strength. The main problem with Xehanort is that the universe was already balanced, with light in the Realm of Light and darkness in the Realm of Darkness. Xehanort tried to balance the two in the Realm of Light alone which would throw everything out of whack.
    • Also in the same game, The Fairy Godmother, in a conversation with Aqua seems to be a believer in this, in that one creates the other (Cinderella's "light" creating Lady Tremaine and the stepsisters' "darkness") and you can't have one without the other. This is to encourage her to find a solution to Cinderella's problem that doesn't include "killing the evil step-family", which would be a disproportionate response (after they step up their game by summoning an Unversed to outright kill Cinderella, Aqua steps up to kill it).
  • La Pucelle: Tactics has a goddess of light (Poitreene), goddess of dark (the fallen angel Calamity), and another supernatural being in charge of keeping things in balance (Hermes).
  • In The Longest Journey
    • The worlds of Stark and Arcadia are the order and chaos halves of what was once one world. They are kept from reemerging destructively by the Guardian of the Balance; said guardian's absence triggers the events of the game.
    • One of the villains had his chaotic essence separated from him, turning him into a cold-hearted and purely rational being while the swirling chaos was released to terrorize Arcadia. It also turns out that he's the next Guardian, whom the villains caught and separated in an attempt to control him, and before you can have him take up his proper job you have to reintegrate both sides. Once you do that, he becomes a surprisingly Nice Guy.
    • And in the final part of the trilogy, it's revealed that existence itself has been unbalanced from the very beginning, because the Dreaming (Creator) won the initial victory over the Undreaming (Destroyer), and spent eons sealing them away to keep them from destroying absolutely everything. At the end, the events of the game cause the Dreaming to accept merging with the Undreaming. On one hand, this further balances the multiverse and it's implied this is what causes the CrapsackWorlds of Stark and Arcadia to finally begin to pull themselves together. On the other hand, this means that absolutely nothing will ever exist forever; not the worlds, not the stories, not even the dreamers themselves.
  • In MARDEK, this (in the variant of Balance Between Light and Dark) is the argument of Clavis and Qualna make against Rohoph, who is more on the side of bringing good to his homeworld. It is also a recurring theme in that chapter, as balance in general seems to be crucial to the peace between reptoids and Sun Temple priest, the Elemental Crystals to Belfan (the planet you're on), and the governments of both Belfan and Anshar (where Rohoph and Qualna are from). The irony is that though the Governance de Magi is villainous, Rohoph's Knight Templar tendencies are no better. Indeed, Qualna comes off as an Only Sane Man, killed by a light-obsessed fanatic.
  • Discussed in the Mata Nui Online Game, where the sleeping "god" Mata Nui represents Creation and his evil "brother" Makuta represents Destruction. Turaga Nuju tells the player the two forces work in tandem and that the world is in constant flux. The Makuta itself also says as much when it finally appears, arguing that no matter what the Toa do to stop him, he cannot be destroyed "for he is nothing". The game developers compared Makuta to people taking apart their Lego toys to make something else — a necessary act of destruction that allows for creation. And in the game, Makuta is indeed made up of discarded Bionicle pieces that coalesce into whatever it wills. This portrayal of Makuta was however abandoned outside of the game. Other media presented him as an egomaniac villain who was not a primal force of the universe, but was still powerful enough to cause whatever destruction he wanted and indeed expressed the belief destiny isn't about "good and evil" so much as "creation and destruction".
  • Deconstructed in Mortal Kombat 11. Kronika, the Big Bad, believes in preserving balance between her two children: Cetrion commanding the forces of virtue and life, and Shinnok in charge vice and death. When Shinnok gets taken out of the picture, she goes to extreme measures to correct it. However, Raiden points out the "balance" just amounts to both sides fighting each other senselessly for eternity, and nobody is better off because of it. In Geras's ending, he points out that Kronika's endless attempts to create the perfect timeline have driven her to insanity.
  • In the Myth series, the balance between good and evil is maintained by alternating which side rules the world as part of a great cycle. As of the events in Myth II: Soulblighter, the good guys seem to have finally broken the cycle.
  • Nexus Champions from the Nexus War series chase this trope as a never-ending quest. Their powers get stronger the closer they are to absolute moral balance, but anything they can actually do with that power tilts the balance away in one direction or the other.
  • In Overlord II, Rose, the Overlord's mother states that when one force gets too powerful another must rise to stop it, meaning that Darkness is occasionally needed to triumph when heroes eventually fall from grace. That Darkness is You.
  • Primal features a balance between Order and Chaos, in which Order mostly functions as Good and Chaos functions as Evil; the game's plot involves the balance being tipped towards Chaos, requiring the protagonist to even things back out.
  • The entire plot of Realms of the Haunting has this as the backstory. The Soulstone keeps balance within the universe, and for every good creature produced or act committed, a contrasting evil counterpart is done as well and vice versa. The plot is set in motion when Florentine removes the sword Eternity from the Soulstone thus inhibiting it's powers, and the player character Adam is brought by prophecy to "Restore the Balance" as Florentine is tipping the scales too far towards Evil.
  • In RuneScape, there are three major gods. One of law, one of chaos, and one of balance. Law and chaos aren't necessarily good, but neither is balance.
    • Further complicating this, the god of balance, Guthix, created the Guthixian Edicts (which are this trope) to prevent a repeat of the god wars, which lasted 5000 years, and would’ve gone on longer if Guthix himself didn’t directly intervene and forcibly end it. To do this, crusades or religious wars aren’t allowed, forcing anyone who would attempt to instead convert peacefully. The part about balance not necessarily being good means that no side can directly stop problems arising by followers of different gods (such as the law-aligned White Knights being one opportunity away from staging a coup, or the chaos-aligned vampires kidnapping humans for blood tithes), instead needing to rely on mercenaries.
  • Played with in Secret of Evermore, where, after defeating the Big Bad, the hero learns that he's destroyed the balance between good and evil and that he needs to get himself and the others that came from his home universe out of the world of Evermore before it collapses.
  • This is what kicks off the plot in Shining Soul as the defeat of the Big Bad in the last game has left Light stronger than darkness; thus causing a sudden resurgence in evil.
  • Many of the games in the Shin Megami Tensei series are a never-ending struggle between Order And Chaos, with YHVH's forces seeking to eradicate free will and bring about a uniform utopia where every being devotes their existence to worshipping him, and Lucifer seeking to bring about a Might Makes Right society where only the strong survive. In all the games exist an option to reject both sides and go on the Omnicidal Neutral path to protect humanity from these encroaching outside forces.
  • Sonic Unleashed: Dark Gaia and Light Gaia (Chip). They are primordial hyper energy organisms that have existed since the dawn of time. Dark Gaia is the incarnation of darkness, night, and destruction, while Light Gaia is the incarnation of light, day, and rebirth. Since birth, they have been in an eternal conflict with each other over Earth, where they maintain a cycle of destruction and rebirth of the planet. It was speculated that both Dark and Light Gaia are manifestations of the planet's desire for a balance between light and darkness. As per its purpose, Dark Gaia sought to destroy the planet that spawned it. In opposition to that, Light Gaia sought to protect the planet from Dark Gaia. Thus began an endless conflict between the two entities, forming a continuous cycle of destruction and rebirth of the earth over the eons. In this cycle, Dark Gaia would incubate in the earth's core for millions of years, gathering negative energy from the world to mature while sleeping. It would then awaken during the time of awakening as Perfect Dark Gaia and break the planet apart before trying to destroy it. Each time, however, Dark Gaia would be defeated by Light Gaia, who would rebuild the world and return Dark Gaia to dormancy, thus restarting the cycle. If Dark Gaia succeeds its mission, all life on the planet will perish, and the dead planet will enter a deep slumber until Light Gaia's arrival.
  • Soul Series: Soul Edge was originally too evil to simply exist by itself, so Algol created Soul Calibur to act as its balance from a fragment of the cursed swordnote  Unfortunately, creating a holy sword from a cursed sword causes the holy sword to think that "Balance Between Good and Evil" really means "freeze everyone so no one can hurt one another ever again". It is kind of a "balance" but in functional terms all you get is a world of carnage or a world of nothing, neither of which help the people caught in the middle.
  • Tales of Berseria: The four elemental Empyreans want to help humans progress, while the Empyrean of Suppression, Innominat, wants to crush all free will. The problem is that the elemental Empyreans are so powerful that when they are awake, their mere existence destabilizes the world; Innominat is needed to suppress their power and keep the world stable. Thus the world is locked in a vicious cycle; the elemental Empyreans work for centuries to help human civilization prosper, then Innominat is summoned to devour Malevolence and force the elemental Empyreans to sleep. Once all the Malevolence is gone (because it's produced by human emotions and Innominat has suppressed that), then Innominat returns to slumber and the elemental Empyreans awaken again. By the time of the game, Innominat has found a way to break this cycle and rule humanity forever by having a "farm" filled with trapped dragons, immortal monsters that will produce Malevolence for him to feed on. When he is finally defeated, the elemental Empyreans inform the heroes that without him, they will end up destroying the world. They find a loophole by empowering a malak with massive power, creating a new Fifth Empyrean who can suppress the elemental Empyreans without crushing human freedom.
  • The Keepers of Thief give "the balance" as the reason they try not to interfere. This turns out to be more than just talk: after a major blow is dealt to a force of Chaos in the first game, a force of Order gets uppity and becomes the major villain in the second.
  • Defied in Ultima IV, where the main goal of the game is to prove that good can still exist even in the absence of evil.
  • According to Bartleby, The Omniscient Big Good of Wizard101, it would be disastrous for The Spiral if Light/Order or Shadow/Chaos (as well as their respective personifications, Grandmother Raven and Grandfather Spider) gained a significant advantage over the other.

    Web Animation 

  • RWBY: In the fairy tale "the Story of Two Brothers," the God of Darkness and the God of Light are perfectly balanced; the God of Light creates something, and the God of Darkness destroys it. They eventually got tired of this and decided to work together to create something: Humanity. The gods agreed to a set of rules in order to maintain a balance between themselves. The exact rules are not spelled out, but the God of Light refuses to resurrect a mortal woman's lover because it would upset this balance. The woman, Salem, upsets this balance anyways by tricking the God of Darkness into resurrecting Ozma (after the God of Light refused), setting off a chain of events that resulted in the human race being annihilated, the gods abandoning the world, and Salem becoming Ozma's eternal enemy after humanity eventually returned.

  • In Dominic Deegan, early on, the viewers are made to believe that Order equates to good and Chaos to evil (the main character even believes he is supposed to be the "Champion" of Law for awhile). We find out later, though, that neither is more inherently good than the other and both can be used for good or evil deeds; the main character is tasked with protecting the balance between them. It helps that there's no cosmic axis of Good v. Evil to complement that Law v. Chaos one; instead it's Creation v. Destruction.
  • Parodied in Terror Island with the Unity.
    Blue Unity: Imagine that the two halves of the universe rest on a giant seesaw.
    First Folio: OK.
    Yellow Unity: We hope that has made everything clear to you.
  • Averted in Darths & Droids. It was prophesied that the chosen one would bring balance to the force. That is not a good thing. [1] [2]
    • This is a reference the the fan theory that Anakin brought balance to the Force by equalizing the number of Sith and Jedi, thus bringing it into numerical balance, as opposed to the "order instead of chaos" balance George Lucas says the prophecy refers to.
  • Sins
    • There can only be seven Sins and seven Virtues. Any more would cause The End of the World as We Know It. When the Tarots show up, the universe gets out of whack.
    • We also get glimpse of what happens when there is one too few in Marlowe's arc, as that also triggers an Apocalypse level world ending events, everyone was lucky they fixed it before things went into Brain Bleach territory.
  • In Homestuck, cherubs serve this function, which promotes the development of civilizations that can play SBURB and thus allow the universe to reproduce itself. Things start going off the rails when a young cherub is given a copy of SBURB, since cherubs were never meant to play SBURB themselves.
  • Averted in Goblins. When the heroes (who are more or less good guys) happen upon a kind of inter-dimensional nexus where they witness their counterparts from other realities, they notice that most of those doubles look really evil.
    Kin: The multiverse is predominantly evil.
    Forgath: What? I was always taught that good and evil are balanced.
    Kin: Nope. Evil is winning.
  • The authors from L's Empire are like this, although they refer to it as the balance between "conflict and resolution" rather than "good and evil" (and they invariably side with good when it comes to resolution).
  • The whole reason the Sailor Moon Cosmos Arc happens is because Usagi tried her damndest not to acknowledge this exists. When she finally acknowledges that good can't exist without evil, and hope can't exist without despair to counter it, she ascends to godhood and becomes Sailor Cosmos.
  • There's some sort of a "game" going on in Kukuburi, although every character in the know is either wantonly cryptic or too pressed for time to explain. All we know for sure is that it has two sides, The Perpetual Machine (Him) and the Balance (Her, the Dreaming Mother, the Laughing Bird).

    Web Originals 
  • Bishop Barron always likes to point out when movies portray Good and Evil as complete equals in need of balance, which is usually followed by a Shout-Out to the Force from Star Wars. The problem Barron has with that morality is that it either ignores God or reduces Him to a magical tool that people can manipulate.
  • Parodied in College Saga. The antagonists in the movie are Evil Vegetarians who plot to kill off all meat-eaters. At the end, the hero says "I have found my healthy balance" and bites into a hamburger with salad.
  • How to Write Badly Well recommends using this trope in the article Base Your Plot on Unsupported Assertions.
  • The Paw Dugan Top 9 Videogame music composers review (part 2) shows at the end a Light Paw in balance with a Dark (evil) Paw.
  • Aerodactyl (a.k.a. Lord Amber) is the god of this, according to Twitch Plays Pokémon lore.
  • In the Whateley Universe,
    • Bladedancer has been given the mythical sword Destiny's Wave and is expected to be the "Handmaid of Balance." All that's known is that previous Handmaidens have killed good men and bad. (A king who was making a Utopia, someone creating an army of demons.) Chou has, at least once, been assigned to kill an innocent person.
    • In the Merry stories, it's explicitly stated that the forces of Heaven and Hell are careful to maintain a stalemate instead of engaging in an all-out war that might allow other interested parties to take advantage of any resulting moments of weakness. That's Satan's side of the story (God is ignoring Merry despite her technically being one of His knights, quite possibly because her soul already belongs to Sara/Kellith), but he does come across as reasonably honest in their conversations, if still not exactly nice.
  • In the Balance plays with this with the hero being offered a choice between order, chaos, balance, excess, meta-balance, etc.

    Western Animation 
  • In Jackie Chan Adventures, stronger enemies appeared after the first season because the heroes destroyed (instead of "sealing away") the villain of the first season. This kept happening until that first villain was revived and consequently sealed.
  • In The Venture Brothers, evil is unionized, in the form of the Guild of Calamitous Intent; they have arrangements with the various law-enforcement agencies in order to secure non-interference, with the price of accepting certain restrictions on their activities, thus creating a sort of ersatz balance. When one side violates the agreements, retaliation by the other side is swift and brutal.
  • Aladdin: The Series: A pair of supernatural brothers in the Far East, named Yin and Yang, could merge into a dragon. Depending on who was in charge when they merged, they would either become a malevolent dragon or a benevolent dragon.
  • The Fairly Oddparents: It has been confirmed that there is one evil anti-fairy for every good fairy that exists. Why it took a full season from Poof's birth for Foop to be born is unknown.
  • Yin Yang Yo!: early on season 1, Yin and Yang got rid of their worst traits, Yin's bossiness and Yang's agression. Master Yo then said that everybody needs their good and bad traits to be complete, much to everybody's (viewers included) confusion. However, this action also led to the birth of Yuck, and Yin and Yang found that their bad traits helped them into being better warriors (Yin's bossiness helped her to come up with plans and strategies, and Yang's aggression gave him the motivation to fight).
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold—the villain Equinox was created by the Lords of Order and the Lords of Chaos in order to keep the balance between them. However, the job was so great that he went rogue, with the ultimate goal of destroying the universe and remaking it according to his own ideas of "balance."
  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Mortis arc introduces The Ones, who are living embodiments of the Force. While the Daughter represents the Light Side, the Son represents the Dark Side and the Father is the balance between both sides. While on the surface it might seem a fairly standard case of this trope, with both the Father and Son expressing the sentiment that there's no light without dark, upon closer investigation of the story it becomes clear it's a deconstruction. The Father might claim to be the Balance, but in reality, all he does is keep the selfish Son leashed, because the Daughter, who's selfless, doesn't want to upset the Balance of the Force and the Galaxy in the first place. Father refuses to see this, due to his emotional attachment to both his children, and instead tries to use this trope to rationalize letting Son live, despite knowing the repercussions of Son getting free. In other words, Father himself is being selfish, both towards the Son, by imprisoning him against his will, and towards the Galaxy by letting a selfish creature who'd wreak havoc on it live. Father then tops off his mistake by dragging Anakin into it, hoping to push the responsibility of keeping Son in check onto The Chosen One. Anakin's own selfish refusal to accept said responsibility results in Son seizing the opportunity to rebel, unintentionally killing Daughter (who takes the blow meant for Father) in the process, which even Son is upset by. Balance is ultimately restored by Father commiting suicide, thus sealing away Son's power (since the Force is created by life, if all life is destroyed, there's no Force and no Dark Side), allowing Anakin to mortally wound him.
  • Star Wars Rebels introduces another force of balance—the Bendu, a giant creature who lives on Atollon and describes himself as "the one in the middle" of the light and dark sides.
  • In the South Park Imaginationland trilogy, Imaginationland is divided between Good characters and Evil characters who were minding their own businesses on their separate territories. However, then a terrorist cell attacks Imaginationland to destroy collective imagination. Their plan is to manipulate the Good and Evil characters into war and wipe each other out. The story strays and it becomes a blatant Good vs. Evil battle with full support of the Good characters, who win the war and even those who were killed are resurrected, including Strawberry Shortcake, against the terrorist's posthumous plans. Neither the Good nor Evil characters were responsible for starting the war.
  • In the backstory of Xiaolin Showdown, the Xiaolin Grand Master Dashi spread the Shen Gong Wu across the world after sealing Wuya away in a puzzle box so that they could maintain the balance between good and evil. When Jack Spicer released Wuya from the puzzle box, her presence caused the balance to shift, reactivating the Shen Gong Wu and triggering the conflict throughout the series.

Alternative Title(s): Balance Of Good And Evil, Balance Between Light And Darkness, Balance Between Order And Chaos, Balance Between Heaven And Hell


Phineas and Ferb

And thus, the universe is balanced.

How well does it match the trope?

4.47 (15 votes)

Example of:

Main / ABloodyMess

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