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Black-and-White Insanity

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"It's so much easier to see the world in black and white. Grey? I don't know what to do with grey..."
Garrus Vakarian (after realizing what he was becoming and subverting it), Mass Effect 2

In Real Life, seeing the world in absolute Black-and-White Morality is considered normal for small children, but seen as a far less healthy trait in adults. A person who regards the people around them as entirely good or entirely evil has this. This type of thinking is called "splitting" in psychology, and it is a symptom of many real-life mental disorders.

Some authors have picked up on this, playing belief in Black-and-White Morality as a sign of the character being insane or at least mentally unstable.

While this is almost always done in settings that are not of Black-and-White Morality themselves, exceptions exist. In such cases, a Lawful Good Anti-Hero suffering from Black-and-White Insanity can be very disturbing indeed in the eyes of their fellow Lawful Good real heroes.

This trope is not about regarding everyone as either completely sane or completely insane (though that would be an example of this trope, especially if insanity is equated with evil).

A character suffering from Black-and-White Insanity is likely to reason in False Dichotomies, keeping their worldview coherent by applying huge quantities of Insane Troll Logic and meeting criticism with Abomination Accusation Attacks. Black-and-White Insanity might also be what makes a Well-Intentioned Extremist, well, an extremist, with particularly dogmatic or unhinged examples crossing into Tautological Templar. This kind of insanity is pretty much the characteristic of the Obliviously Evil Knight Templar. Character Development might lead to the insane one becoming a Troubled Sympathetic Bigot. A justice system that operates on Black-and-White Insanity believes that All Crimes Are Equal.

Compare Activist-Fundamentalist Antics, Wrong Genre Savvy, Windmill Crusader, With Us or Against Us, Moral Myopia.

Contrast Black-and-White Morality (for settings where the world actually operates in a way that makes this kind of worldview completely rational). A failed attempt at Black-and-White Morality will make the main character come across as suffering from Black-and-White Insanity. Contrast Grey-and-Gray Insanity for when a character's mental instability has to do with too much moral ambiguity as opposed to a black-and-white worldview.

Note: This trope is about characters who have a black-and-white worldview and are mentally unstable.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Seryu Ubiquitous from Akame ga Kill! sees everyone in the world as either completely good or pure evil. In her mind, anyone who supports The Empire she fights for is her staunch ally, and all those who dissent in any way or commit even the most minor crimes are villains to be mercilessly exterminated. Which is why Mine caps off her "The Reason You Suck" Speech to her with a simple "You're Insane!".
  • Eren Yeager, the protagonist of Attack on Titan. He reacts to Tragic Villains expressing remorse by exploding into a rage and stating they are inhuman monsters not allowed to feel emotions. When confronted by situations that are morally complicated, he tends to either freeze up or get angry. It makes his attempts to understand Annie's reasons for killing people all the more shocking. For whatever reason, he cannot simply dehumanize Annie as he does to other villains. However, given how ugly and bleak the world he lives in is, it's easy to see how he would develop such a mentality, and sometimes, he's downright on the mark. The "animals disguised as humans" he killed could hardly be called anything but. They killed Mikasa's father and mother (in her case, one of the gang objected, but only because she would've fetched a good price on the slave market) and planned to sell the child Mikasa as a sex slave. After the Time Skip, while he manages to grow out of it and understands what his enemies are doing, it doesn't stop him from also acknowledging that his kind is being threatened by what he has considered the entire world and deciding the only path forward is to genocide everyone outside the Walls.
  • Black Lagoon: When Revy finally pushes that iota too far with her obnoxious and belligerent cynicism and nihilism, an annoyed Fabiola goes on a blistering "The Reason You Suck" Speech calling out how Revy isn't actually a nihilist, just a pathetic loser who has let her Dark and Troubled Past completely consume her life and refuses to acknowledge the obvious truth that the world outside Roanapur is more good than bad, because otherwise she wouldn't have an excuse to indulge her selfish, materialistic ways.
  • In Claymore, Priscilla believes that she and the Organization sre absolutely good because they protect Humanity from the predations of the Yoma. Therefore, all those who oppose them — Yoma, but also traitors like Teresa — are evil, stemming from highly traumatic experiences in her childhood. Her beliefs are so entrenched that she can't even understand why she isn't winning against Teresa if she's the "bad guy". Once Teresa beats her, she completely loses it, throws herself at Teresa and awakens, becoming the very thing she hated so much — and the series' Big Bad, too. To complicate things further, one of the scientists at the organization has a theory about her black-and-white insanity: she had to develop such a twisted view of the world, or she would have awoken much sooner. The secret to cultivating a strong Awakening involves a contradiction of self-hate; Claymores hate Yoma, which are fueled by stress (and human entrails), but Claymores are part Yoma. Thus, the more they hate the Yoma and themselves, the more stress they develop, and the more inner power they can possess when they awaken. Priscilla in particular had the perceptive skill to realize that when she killed the Yoma that looked like her father, it actually was her father, then she resorted to cannibalism on her father's corpse to survive. From there, she deluded herself into thinking that she was raped by an evil Yoma, because it was less stressful on her than "your father was driven insane and wanted to kill you and eat you, and then you killed him and ate him and were driven insane''. Yeesh.
  • In Concrete Revolutio: Choujin Gensou, Earth-chan subscribes to extreme black-and-white morality. She views any improper behavior, even anything as innocuous as a white lie, as absolutely Evil, and she cannot even understand why anyone would willingly lie. Likewise, she cannot understand someone trying but failing to live up to a moral ideal — any failure to measure up is in her eyes a willful embrace of Evil. This attitude is shown to be at odds with a world filled with shades of grey and results in Earth-chan coming to hasty conclusions about who is in the right and taking actions that solve the immediate situation but don't actually address the underlying problem — for instance, trying to address the problem of pollution by destroying a factory's smokestacks and then flying away with the satisfaction of a job well done, not comprehending that the factory will simply fix the smokestacks and continue as usual.
  • All the main antagonists in Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School.
    • Kyousuke Munakata believed that if you associated with, helped, or even sympathised with someone from Ultimate Despair, you were part of their ranks. Regardless of if you were or not, the only suitable punishment was death. This was part of the reason why he hated Naegi so much (the other being that he helped criminals he was supposed to execute), and the reason why the actual mole hiding in the Future Foundation's ranks (his girlfriend Chisa Yukizome, who showed no outward signs of despair) went unnoticed by him for years.
    • Kazuo Tengan's method to crush Ultimate Despair's influence is to eradicate all despair, including any hindrances to his plan. He started the Killing Game to get the branch heads to cooperate on pain of death, and his solution to make sure no more innocents fall to despair again is to brainwash them into feeling nothing but hope. Ironically, Tengan was the one to call out Munakata for his extreme methods.
  • This tends to come up in Death Note a lot.
    • Light Yagami starts to shift into this as the series goes on. He sees himself and all the actions he takes as good, including killing hundreds of people. He also sees anyone who criticizes him as wrong, killing a man on live television for condemning him. Of course, the fact that Light thought "Kill every criminal" was a reasonable solution to the world's problems makes it pretty clear that he had a bit of this going on in the first place. Light's narrow views on morality is a big factor in his rapid Jumping Off the Slippery Slope early on. He learns that the Death Note is a genuine Artifact of Doom by killing two minor criminals, and recognizes that accident or not, this was an act of evil, and he's a murderer. However, Light soon embraces the role of Kira, convincing himself that as the self-appointed arbiter of right and wrong, everything he does is completely justified, and so those initial Accidental Murders were morally right all along.
    • Light's underling Teru Mikami is an even more extreme example, having believed that people are either good or evil by nature ever since he was a child.
  • Kabru of Delicious in Dungeon has elements of this. He has very strict ideas about good and evil and comes to conclusions rather quickly. He heard that Laios and Falin would bring money to support their former teammates who were injured. However, the former teammates went into shady business in the black market using that money, so in Kabru's eyes, Laios and Falin are responsible for perpetuating the black market on the island and are thus evil and not to be trusted. He also considers anyone who seeks to profit from the dungeon rather than focus on destroying it to be evil as well.
  • Dragon Ball Super:
    • This is Zamasu's primary problem. He has a very black-and-white view of mortals and gods. Namely, mortals are evil and need to be cleansed, while the gods are good, if not a bit lazy for not taking care of the mortals. His inability to understand that mortals can learn and grow, and the gods themselves are also flawed and need to learn from their mistakes is a point of tension between Gowasu and him. He eventually jumps off the slippery slope when Goku proves that mortals can overpower gods, and decides to murder everyone in Future Trunks' timeline to create what he sees as a truly just world. Once he's cleaved in twain by Trunks, he loses what little sanity and mind he had left and tries to kill everything and everyone, everywhere.
    • Toppo of Universe 11. His overall perception of Justice and what evil is are very skewed when you see his interactions with Goku. Even though Zen'o had already planned on destroying many of the Universes, which the Grand Priest had already told them, he calls Goku evil on the grounds that Goku has to be evil since he sparked the tournament idea. If anything, he should see Goku as good since he ensured that one of the lower level universes will be spared, and he ensured that every universe has a fair chance to try and make it so that that universe is theirs. Somewhat averted in the manga, in which he is understanding of Goku giving them this chance (only thinking him as strange for his desire for fighting).
  • Four Knights of the Apocalypse: Chion worships the ground Prince Tristan walks on after he saved him and respects the royal family and his fellow knights. However, he thinks everyone else is evil and should just die. He even attempts to murder the Knights of the Apocalypse, even though prophecy says they are supposed to be Tristan's teammates in saving the world. When Tristan stops him, he says he wants Tristan to be the only hero.
  • Hunter × Hunter: Gon is a case of this mixed with Blue-and-Orange Morality. His black-and-white views stop him from handling the fact that some of the people he considers 'bad' have redeeming qualities or do in fact care about others. The greatest example being when he confronts Pitou, who was in the middle of healing someone. It throws him into a mental breakdown as he is unable to accept that someone he hates can do good.
  • I'm The Only One With Unfavorable Skills, Isekai Summoning Rebellion: Yuto's classmates will make any excuse to justify their actions regardless of crazy it sounds. Miyamoto is fond of doing this, alternating between calling Yuto trash for being weak, a disease for not dying, and when he loses to him.
  • Akoya Seishu of Kengan Ashura was a police officer and a martial arts master who dedicated his life to "justice", becoming a vigilante who slaughtered criminals with his bare hands. Over time he slowly devolved into a psychotic Knight Templar Serial Killer and extended his brand of "justice" to his victims' families and any rival fighters unlucky enough to get in his way. He beats his lover and Morality Chain Hiyama for not giving him the results he wants as his Mission Control, and Adam Dudley accuses him of having "Dirty Harry Syndrome". Without Hiyama's influence, he quickly becomes a sadistic monster who deliberately tries to inflict a Cruel and Unusual Death on anyone who dares to stand against him. By the time of Kengan Omega he's been suspended from future tournaments for being too extreme even by the Association's low moral standards.
  • Martian Successor Nadesico has this in the form of the Jovians. An Aesop for you, children: don't mould the society of your Lost Colony around an old-school Anime series that espouses Black-and-White Morality, especially to the point that the colony forgets how reality is.
  • When first encountered in Mega Man Megamix, Duo seems to have this problem. He arrives specifically to kill Dr. Wily and all his robots but runs into Mega Man, who adheres to Thou Shall Not Kill and would rather bring Wily to the courts. Duo takes this to mean that Mega Man has turned evil, with his Robot Master brothers from the first game considered as still tainted by their prior programming, and attempts to kill them to get to Wily.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: As a member of the Harmony faction of dragons, Elma is a staunch believer in justice and making things right for everyone, but the lengths she can take this are a bit extreme even if often comedic. She'll reprimand children for not obeying crosswalk rules, pick fights with Chaos dragons even if they're not posing a threat (Her rivalry with the titular dragon maid, Tohru, is built on this), and once spent weeks trying to singelhandedly improve her workplace's conditions past any rational degree.
  • Flit Asuno winds up with this after Yurin's death in Mobile Suit Gundam Age becoming convinced that all Vagans are inhuman monsters that must be destroyed, even after the truth about their origins is revealed.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny: Shinn Asuka's greatest problem is his inability to accept shades of grey. He's not exactly insane as opposed to being highly unstable as, unlike other examples of the trope, it isn't even that he can't be introspective — it's that he just doesn't want to. By the finale though, he has definitely gone off the deep end, being willing to defend a Kill Sat about to destroy an entire country — one that he's decided to be pure evil simply because they're opposing his side (the fact that he was until recently a native citizen actually fuels this belief). Shinn's mess of anger issues are the root cause of this way of thinking; or rather lack of thinking. He's not an inherently bad kid, but he is too Hot-Blooded for his own good. Moreover, his "we're good, everyone else is bad" mentality is implied to largely self-enforced, so as to allow him to justify clinging to the vengeful anger that's kept him going all this time. This is because not only is that anger his best weapon in battle, but it's also the only thing he really has left to give him any purpose in life.
  • My Hero Academia: Hero Killer Stain believes that Heroes must possess Incorruptible Pure Pureness to be "real heroes" in his eyes, and that villains that commit any type of crime must be killed swiftly, circumstances be damned. The only heroes who meet his criteria are All Might and Izuku Midoriya, while he brutally slaughters and cripples other heroes for not meeting his standards. His appearance in the prequel series My Hero Academia: Vigilantes has him brutally murder villains who have already given up and pose no further harm, and this is before he became a villain. Needless to say, Stain isn't quite right in the head. Notably, at one point Stain, dismisses Tenya Ilida as a "fake hero" because he's more focused on his Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Stain than saving an injured hero. Ilida soon acknowledges that the Villain Has a Point and tries to do better; Stain is completely thrown off by this, unable to comprehend that one of the "fakes" could possibly want to improve themselves.
  • Najica Blitz Tactics: Episode 9 has Najica and Lila going to a nation named Gilda in the middle of a civil war, between Queen Metis, a dictator who thinks the country's dignity is what matters the most (that is, for her to keep living in luxury) and her daughter Athena, who leads La Résistance seeking to dethrone her mother and free her country. Athena's Humaritt, Elith, has been with her enough to follow Athena's beliefs in freedom and fighting with pride until the very end, but when Queen Metis decides to launch a full-scale raid to her headquarters, Athena realizes that they stand no chance and chooses to surrender to avoid sacrificing the lives of her soldiers. Elith has Athena's mindset so ingrained that she doesn't understand why she's surrendering and considers this an act of betrayal to her and even shoots Athena dead for it.
  • One Piece has the concept of "Absolute Justice", where law enforcers have a very strict black-and-white view of justice to the point where any deviation from the law in favor of piracy, is met with swift, harsh punishment.
    • Fleet-Admiral Sakazuki of the Marines will execute people who so much as know certain criminals. A ship full of refugees met a fiery end due to the fact that a criminal might have gotten aboard (treating criminal tendency there as though it were Mad Cow Disease, if you will).
    • Rob Lucci's philosophy of "Dark Justice" goes further in that things against the government don't need to be destroyed for the greater good, but because they are evil by nature of being against the government. He doesn't just think it's inexcusable for the soldiers he killed to be so weak as to get taken hostage or that killing Robin is necessary to maintain world order, he thinks the soldiers' weakness and Robin's existence are unforgivable sins.
    • In the eyes of Admiral Ryokugyu, you're either under the thumb of the World Government or a menace to society. There is no middle ground, even if you're an upright person.
  • The X-Laws of Shaman King are all this, Especially in the anime, when they bring their viewpoints to the extreme. While devoted to stopping the Shaman-supremacist and genocidal Hao, they had no qualms about killing two of his followers (Boris and Bill) who were already finished, and when Yoh saved the latter, they quickly branded them and his friends as Hao's allies and therefore evil (though Lyserg eventually joins them). Iron Maiden Jeanne, their leader, shows this as while truly noble and pious, she knows nothing of the world as she isolated herself from normal people's lives and believes her acts (even killing indiscriminately when her pleas for peace are not heeded) are for the good of the world. She and Marco eventually grow out of this and decide to help the heroes.
  • Sensui from YuYu Hakusho. Emphasis on "insanity". "Humans are good — Demons are bad." Sensui existed and killed by this creed. When confronted face-to-face with atrocities committed by humans upon demons instead of the other way around, he snapped so hard he formed six additional personalities just to deal with the trauma. He eventually settles into Humans are bad — Demons are grey, as he planned to Kill All Humans and die at the hands of a demon as revenge.
  • In Zetman, the Amagi corporation's heir Kouga idolizes Alphas, a Super Hero who fights For Great Justice, and tries to emulate him even into adulthood by having some of his father's scientists make him a power-enhancing superhero costume. For a while he manages to do more good than harm because he is not mentally unstable, just idealistic and naive. However, everything goes wrong when Hayami injects him with a bug from a clone of Ichirou that turns him into a delusional Knight Templar while he's under control.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • Two-Face is sometimes portrayed as having this as the root of his Split Personality. His original character concept was even more so. Originally, he was actually supposed to do good deeds when the coin landed unscarred-face-up. This is particularly obvious in his post-Batman: Year One characterizations, wherein the "good" persona believes in fairness and the hope of goodness in people, while the "evil" side sees unfairness and cheating everywhere. To quote his revised origin:
      "Harvey": Good boys don't do bad things.
    • Batman himself occasionally comes into this Depending on the Writer, usually in stories in which it's pointed out how close to insanity he often walks. The Joker in particular seems very fond of calling him out on this, most famously in The Killing Joke.
  • Grimjack: In issue #40, an early version of the Heterodyne Boys (the basis of the characters of the same name in Girl Genius, but specifically not the same guys, according to Studio Foglio) travel to an alternate universe with Grey-and-Grey Morality, where they end up killing the first guy they meet in a bar. They then proceed to conclude that he must have been evil, because where they come from, only evil people ever die. In their own universe, that is assumed to be true, but in the universe, they ended up in, that combined with their abilities essentially makes them a pair of Omnicidal Maniacs.
  • Logicomix: Frege is totally honest and devoted to truth and logic. Sadly, this devotion combined with Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance leads to Black-and-White Insanity in the form of a Straw Vulcan prejudiced against women and Jews. On the whole, this makes him a Troubled Sympathetic Bigot who is desperately trying to do the right thing.
  • Oxymoron: This is how Oxymoron perceives the world, since he's obsessed with contradiction. For instance, he murders a ganglord who has some Pet the Dog policies, since in Oxymoron's eyes there is no such thing as a bad man with some good in him or a good man with some bad in him. He also assassinates various public servants who were corrupt in some way.
  • Red Handed: Detective Gould sees all crime, regardless of the justification, as an intolerable evil. Many of the criminals in his city of Red Wheel Barrow are more sad than sinister, and in a conversation broken up among chapters of the graphic novel, another character tries to break the certainty of his worldview.
  • Spider-Man: In Web of Spider-Man, the Extremist has a black-and-white view of the world and is opposed to what he refers to as "The Grey" which tries to confuse the lines between them. He sees heroes as entirely good and critics as existential threats to the former, and so uses his powers of Invisibility, Intangibility, and Aura Vision to assassinate them. He's eventually defeated when he gets a literal look in the mirror and sees with his aura reading that his motivations aren't altruistic but rather motivated by a selfish desire to be special.
  • Superman: Subjekt-17 is essentially the living representation of Superman's nightmare of what could have happened if someone other than the Kents found him when he landed on Earth. The apparent last survivor of his race, Subjekt-17 was "raised" in isolation by a black ops government group and treated as nothing but a test project rather than a person with rights. Even after Superman is able to rescue him, Subjekt-17 appears to regard all humans as equally guilty of what he went through, content to let humanity suffer through the plans of Arion, even though his actual captors are now all dead and Superman serves as proof that not all humans are like that.
  • Watchmen:
    • Rorschach was meant deliberately as a comment on Steve Ditko's more fanatically Objectivist characters. This is clearly reflected in his Expressive Mask, where the black and white never mix. This also led to his death, as he refused to compromise and decided to tell the world the truth despite knowing it would only make all the deaths from the plan meaningless and will put the world on the brink of nuclear annihilation. Which is why Dr. Manhattan killed him in order to prevent him from doing so.
      Rorschach: No. Not even in the face of Armageddon. Never compromise.
    • Played with by Rorschach's Foil Ozymandias, who is just as bad, if not worse. Both Dan and Rorschach initially assume that Adrian must be insane, finding his description of his own master plan too ludicrous to believe. He assures them that he is more than rational. However, Adrian's views of the world are rather unrealistically binary. To him, there's the savagery of the past (and present) where chaos and unrest run rampant, and the utopian unity of the future where humanity's flaws will magically cease to exist. He is seemingly vindicated by the ensuing world peace brought about by his act of destruction, but Jon leaves him with a margin for doubt that the peace will last. Jon is eventually proven right in the sequel Doomsday Clock, but Ozymandias doubles down and refuses to admit he was wrong even as he tries to clean up the mess he caused.

    Fan Works 
  • Alternative Class Despair: As Munakata's sanity slowly snaps, he decides that anyone who disagrees with him or his methods for dealing with the Remnants of Despair must be a Despair, even said person is his own girlfriend. The idea that someone else could have a different, less murderous viewpoint but still be on his side simply goes over his head.
  • Avengers of the Ring: This concept serves as a good description of the antagonists' motivations in The Witch, the Wizard, and the Sorcerer sequel. The former Blue Wizards of Middle-Earth have set up an elaborate digital network in Sokovia in the belief that this will allow Dormammu to take the corrupt souls of Earth and leave the pure to rebuild. However, Strange and Gandalf each acknowledge that factors such as trauma and loss could drive even good people to temporarily give into Dormammu's influence if they are caught unprepared.
  • Beyond the Wall: To the villagers, everything inside Gaea's walls is good, while everything outside them is bad. To the point where they'll murder a filly without hesitation for trying to leave the village, because being outside the walls and beyond the reach of Gaea's love is considered a Fate Worse than Death.
  • Code Prime: Suzaku, as in canon, views the world in terms of Black-and-White Morality. Here, however, he starts to get progressively more unhinged and conflicted due to one of his enemies being Optimus Prime, who truly is a hero, yet is on the opposite side as Suzaku. This is further exacerbated by being on the same side as Megatron, who actively twists Suzaku into becoming a worse person. Fortunately, the influence of Euphemia and Dreadwing, along with being called out repeatedly, starts to get through to him; the SAZ Massacre (instigated by Megatron here) serves as the final blow, as Lelouch is able to get through to him afterwards.
  • Crimson Rising: While Adam Park’s police officer father isn’t outright ‘insane’, it is noted that he has very rigid views that mean he sees anyone who doesn’t obey the letter of the law as criminals, which includes the Power Rangers even though they have never hurt anyone.
  • Digimon Adventure 02: The Story We Never Told: Cody, even after the rest of the Digidestined accept that Ken is no longer the Digimon Emperor, continues to insist that the Emperor is planning something and Ken's still evil, right up until Ken is killed by Oikawa.
  • In Dominoes, Nakamori Aoko has flat-out issues that functionally boil down to this. Initially, this manifests in childish optimism, but her simplistic moral view gains an increasingly insidious subtext as the story goes on, to the point that she implies that an abuse victim and the surviving family of a murder victim (whose late victim was framed for four deaths and four dozen injuries) deserve their suffering and are unquestionably the bad guys if they stand against the ones who harmed them... because the ones who harmed them are the side she hero-worships and has joined, the International Super-Hero Association. By virtue of Aoko, her team, and the superheroes she idolizes inherently being the good guys, the people they hurt and oppress who dare to stand up to them must be the bad guys.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Duke Libasheshtan is so convinced that Keepers are all simply and purely evil, that when he sees incontrovertible evidence that Ami is good, he breaks down into a Heroic BSoD. But once he gets past that, he apologises to her and becomes a firm ally.
  • Feralnette AU: White Knight views the world this way, dividing the world into three categories: Villain, Knight, and Princess. This fuels his power: those cut down by his blade transform into one of the three, but an innocent person who happens to be nonbinary proves immune.
  • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail: Goh and Parker both slide into this during the second arc:
  • In Kage, Caleb is shown to harbor a black-and-white viewpoint bordering on this trope. From the moment of first meeting Jade (who's partially turned back into a Shadowkhan) when she appears by chance, he refuses to consider her to be anything but a minion of Phobos or a threat nonetheless even more adamantly than the Guardians or Elyon (due to her shadow powers, actions of her Superpowered Evil Side and Nerissa's manipulations). He also states that he'll have all the villages who supported Phobos punished, regardless of their reasoning. Jade lampshades this trope by comparing Caleb to comic book heroes who have no place for gray in their black-and-white viewpoint.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe fic "The Lost and Forgotten" features Peter Parker being forced to accept all memory of his existence being erased from the rest of the world by Seftis, a mysterious entity who warned Peter that the Avengers would die if they remembered him. However, when Seftis reveals that he did all this to stop Peter becoming a villain who kills Seftis and others in the future, Peter realises that Seftis is doing this because he saw himself become the villain in the future; Seftis is so consumed by the idea that his people are "good" that he couldn't accept that he turned evil on his own accord, blaming Peter for his fall rather than take responsibility for his own sins.
  • Marinette Dupain-Cheng's Spite Playlist: Remix has Alya, who slides increasingly into this mentality over time. In her case, this stems from the notion that if Marinette was telling the truth about Lila, that would mean that Alya pushed her former BFF away and refused to listen to her for no good reason... and in the process, also lost Ladybug's trust and her place as Rena Rouge. To avoid facing the idea that she made such major mistakes, she latches onto Lila's claims that Marinette was a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing all along, and so was Ladybug. When Adrien tries speaking out against Lila, she accuses him of being just as bad as his Childhood Friend Chloé, rejecting reality rather than owning up to being misled.
  • In The Marvelous World Of DC, the Spectre believes that all Magic Is Evil, but others recognise that the truth is more complex than that.
  • In Pokemon: Shadow of Time, Paul of all people has a version of this, as he considers anyone using a Shadow Pokemon to be just as bad as a Cipher Peon, acting as though Ash is the 'villain' when Ash's only Shadow Pokemon is Pikachu, who has shown no sign of being any more dangerous than a standard Pokemon.
  • In the Pony POV Series:
    • This was the reason D___t was really erased from existence: he saw gods as inherently tyrannical to the point of trying to wipe them all out to 'truly free' mortals. Even in the timeline we see where he won, he can't seem to comprehend how wicked his actions are, even when reality has been reduced to an empty void with disembodied souls floating with not rhyme, reason, or free will, as the concepts of those things are dead.
    • Nightmare Eclipse, the true Big Bad of Dark World has this problem. She has a very good reason for hating Discord (namely she's the original Dark World Twilight Sparkle who spent a thousand years his brainwashed, murderous Dragon and he took everything from her), the problem is she's developed the mentality of 'me and everyone associated with me is good, Discord and everything associated with him is irredeemably evil.' This includes Dark World itself, meaning she has absolutely no compulsions about erasing the whole thousand-year period and condemning everyone in it to Oblivion as part of her "Groundhog Day" Loop revenge scheme. She's this to such a degree that by the end, her and Discord's sides on the 'black and white' scale of flipped without her noticing: Discord has long since realized what a monster he was and would gladly stop being one, but Eclipse is forcing him to remain an Evil Overlord so she can keep punishing him over and over again.
  • Dumbledore in Princess of the Blacks series outright insists that either you're good and would never kill anyone under any circumstances or you're evil and have to be redeemed. Even someone like Voldemort shouldn't be killed in his book.
  • Prompt: Self Destruction: Chat Noir believes that those that help Marinette and stop Lila are good and those that fail to so are Marinette's enemies, a line of thinking that concerns Marinette herself. Just to emphasize the insane part, he applies this morality to himself. He sees his hero identity as good since he help Marinette exposed Lila and his civilian identity as Adrien as "evil" because his high road advice nearly led Marinette to be framed and expelled by Lila, despite not knowing how bad Lila was until after the attempt. Plagg calls him out on how unhealthy and insane that line of thinking is.
  • A significant plot point in Six Paths of Rebellion is Suzaku's inability to understand that Britannia can do evil and the Black Knights can do good. He even goes so far as to insist that the Shinjuku and Saitama Massacres were the Black Knights' fault. The tipping point where Suzaku goes from "refusing to understand" to "genuinely unstable" is when he insists the Japanese should prefer Britannia, which "gave them the SAZ where they could live freely" over Zero whom he considers "a monster made flesh" after the Black Rebellion succeeds.
  • The Tale of a Cat Most Curious: Team RWBY, especially Blake Belladonna and Yang Xiao-Long, see everyone who interacts with them in terms of "with us or against us," with anyone, even among their allies, who refuses to suck up to them and go along with their own wants and pride falling into the "against us" camp, no matter how reasonable or sympathetic their opposition to the team might be.
  • Discussed in Total Drama Nations. Dmitri tells Emma that she's applying this to all of the other contestants and that it is unhealthy to think that way. Emma, thinking that she is just being a hero, doesn't know how to react. The Insanity part of it comes later, once she starts hallucinating voices and attempts murder on three of her more villainous teammates.
    Emma: No. Dmitri's wrong. Sure, there may be a few neutral people in the world. But, especially in Total Drama, everyone can be split into good or evil.
  • In Why Am I Crying?, Scootaloo has a hard time accepting the fact that Diamond Tiara actually did nice things in her life, and that her kind-hearted teacher Miss Cheerilee was a cruel bully in her high school days, since those facts challenge her perception that all bullies are heartless monsters who are born pure evil and are incapable of change. She gets better.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Batman (2022), the Riddler is a Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist, being a Loony Fan of Batman who wants to clean up crime like he does but is too Ax-Crazy to care about collateral damage. In the climax he decides to destroy the city on the grounds that It Is Beyond Saving and targets the new mayor to that end, in spite of the fact that she's a force for reform like he claims to be.
  • Two-Face's condition is even worse in Batman Forever than it is in the comics, as his good side, if he even has one, seems to be an excuse at best. To emphasize the point, he has two henchwomen named Sugar and Spice, a pair of attractive women who are supposed to represent his good side (Drew Barrymore) and his evil side (Debi Mazar) in very sexy ways. However, Sugar, the one who is supposed to represent his good side, is just as evil as Spice. Two-Face's actions show that rather than having a good side and an evil side, he only has the evil side but becomes obsessed with wanting the world to be fair. He only looks to commit murders but everyone gets a coin toss for a chance to be let go. Made worse by scenes showing him repeatedly flipping a coin until it comes up the way he wants it to. This makes it seem less like this trope and more like an OCD-type behavior.
  • In Detective Story, Detective Jim McLeod views the world this way, even refusing to give a break to a man who embezzled a small amount of money despite the victim not wanting to prosecute. He tells them that he'll commit another crime and another until he's like the gibbering idiots they've also arrested. His world collapses when he finds out his saintly wife knew men before him, became pregnant, and had an abortion.
  • Friend of the World: Crazy Survivalist General Gore carries this flaw in every choice he makes.
  • God Bless America:
    • With his strict morality of right versus wrong, Frank Murdoch's reality crumbles. He comes across as being less capable of comprehending the world than Roxy Harmon, who easily exploits his insecurity to get him to embark on his misguided crusade. While he's a Windmill Crusader, she seems to simply be in it For the Evulz.
    • The television ranter, tea party members, and Westboro Baptist Church picketers Frank kills are also portrayed as suffering from this — either genuinely or simply pretending to get attention.
  • In The Ledge, Joe lives in his own personal world of strictly black-and-white morality. This gives a life that is very good but also very fragile. When reality doesn't conform to his over-simplified worldview, everything crumbles.
  • Overzealous mall cop Ronnie Barnhardt in Observe and Report suffers from this flaw, in addition to Bipolar Disorder.
  • In Revenge of the Sith, Anakin Skywalker slowly becomes more and more deluded that all opponents of Chancellor Palpatine are enemies of the Republic. This leads to him gradually being corrupted into Darth Vader and culminates in him declaring a With Us or Against Us to his former mentor. Obi-Wan retorts by saying "Only Sith deal in absolutes", which might also function as this trope.
  • In Silent Hill, Christabella and her cultists see the world in black-and-white, refusing to understand how horrible their own deeds are or that the hellish state of the world they live in is their own fault.
  • In Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, Chad keeps insisting on a black-and-white narrative with himself as the good guy and the hillbillies as the villains. While the belief is initially fueled by a series of highly unlikely misunderstandings, he continues to cling to the belief to insane degrees once the truth becomes apparent due to some latent trauma.

  • The murderer in And Then There Were None suffers from this trope. They explain in a confession letter that even as a child, they were self-aware enough to realize that they lacked all emotion and capacity for empathy, but had also been "cursed" with an extremely strong sense of right and wrong. As they grew older, they gradually became obsessed with the notion of killing someone, but this trope prevented them from simply choosing a random target—it had to be a person who had done something genuinely evil to justify the deed. The murderer then hit upon the idea of choosing Ten Little Murder Victims who had committed "untouchable" crimes—things that, while definitely deadly, the law couldn't prove or punish (such as not giving an elderly woman her medicine or berating a pregnant young woman to the point where she killed herself). This way, the murderer got to experience the rush of killing while also administering their own twisted sense of justice, including executing himself afterward; after all, he was a murderer multiple times over.
  • Avesta of Black and White features perhaps one of the most extreme examples in fiction. Everything in the universe is defined by their Avesta, which is basically their moral alignment of either Good or Evil and makes someone act a certain way, with both sides locked in a Forever War and are fundamentally incapable of reconciling or seeing the other's side. As a result, extremist black-and-white thinking is not only encouraged but is basically the very framework by which the universe operates.
    • To put things into perspective, the character Alma has the unique ability to make her Avesta appear as though it belongs to the other faction allowing her to act as The Mole. But this also means that she has to be careful around her own allies as they might attack her on pure instinct even though they know intellectually that she is on their side, and that's before even getting into how hard the ability is on Alma herself psychologically. The Good vs Evil conflict is simply so fundamental of a building block of their universe that an ability like that is downright unthinkable for anyone to endure.
    • One moment that really nails this down is when the demon lord Kaikhosru sees through Alma's attempt to assassinate him, and instead of killing her or anything of the like, he makes her one of his mistresses and is even willing to compromise with her and show kindness. The other Good characters can't believe their ears upon hearing this and are thoroughly convinced that there must be some greater evil behind those actions. Basically, the guy acts in ways that run completely counter to everyone's understanding of morals as any kind of moral grayness is treated as straight-up Blue-and-Orange Morality in this universe.
  • Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye suffers from this trope, thinking that the entire world of adulthood is filled with phonies and that children should be protected from the real world's corrupting influence. He eventually realizes the extent of the overprotectiveness to which he would be subjecting children but ends up in the mental hospital nonetheless.
  • A Certain Magical Index: Oriana Thomson wants all morality to be reduced to black and white so that nobody has conflicting ideas about what is good and evil.
  • Played with in the Discworld books. Granny Weatherwax is accused of having an overly black-and-white view of the world in Carpe Jugulum, but as she explains to Mightily Oats, in her opinion, "gray's just white that's got grubby."
  • Doctor Who New Adventures: This trope was the reason why the Seventh Doctor has to fight his counterpart from the Land of Fiction — known as 'Dr. Who', and allegedly based on the Doctor from some of the early comics — in the novel Head Games; Dr. Who is only capable of seeing things in black and white, such as destroying the aliens who were threatening humans on an alien planet just because they looked like monsters (in reality, they were the native population objecting to being oppressed), considering the Doctor 'evil' for destroying an alternate Earth and allowing an entire solar system to be destroyed (which the Doctor had to let happen to preserve the universe and the Web of Time, respectively), and even trying to kill Queen Elizabeth II as the representative of the poor state of the modern British government.
  • Fate/Apocrypha: Atalante Wouldn't Hurt a Child, and thus is horrified when she finds out that Jack the Ripper is a little girl. To make matters worse, Jack is really an amalgamation of the souls of hundreds of unloved, unborn children, driven to murder due to their hatred and rage for their lot in life. Jeanne decides that the only thing that can be done is to exorcise them so they can be free from their pain and go to the afterlife. Even after Jeanne explains this, and even after Jack thanks her before passing on, Atalante condemns her and makes it her mission to kill Jeanne. As far as Atalante is concerned, even if it was a Mercy Kill, Jeanne killed those children, and that makes her evil. Also, after the encounter with Jack, Atalante has a black material sticking to her arm, actually a remnant of Jack composed of souls of unborn children who demand vengeance rather than being happy for passing away. Jeanne misses exorcising that one, and Atalante lets that material stick with her since she considers her failure to save the children something that needs punishment. The result is that her hatred to Jeanne is amplified to insane levels.
  • In Flatland, the ruling caste enforces a Black-and-White Morality worldview to the point where they outlaw color, enforcing the world to literally be black and white. Their excuse for this draconic law is that it's needed for preserving the sexual purity of their women.
  • Most of the human antagonists in Heretical Edge think this way. The hardline faction is convinced that everything supernatural and non-human is pure evil and inimical to humanity. They're very, very wrong.
  • In Iron Druid Chronicles, the Hammers of God have very clear lines on what constitutes good magic (i.e. the faith type they practice) and what is evil magic (i.e. pretty much anything else). And deal with practitioners of "evil" magic As the Good Book Says... (i.e. Suffer not a witch to live). Though in Staked it's revealed that Atticus managed to make them see the error of their zealotry and to allow some grey to creep into their worldview.
  • Javert from Les Misérables has no room in his worldview for moral ambiguity. No matter how minor your crime was, if you break the law at all, you are evil in his eyes. He chases down Jean Valjean for twenty-one years because Valjean broke his parole. Javert's case of Black-and-White Insanity is so strong that when events force him to confront his worldview and his worldview creates a moral dilemma he can't solve, he is overtaken by despair and throws himself off a bridge into the Seine.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The priestess/sorceress Melisandre of Asshai is convinced that everything she does, including burning people alive or using magic to fake the appearance of a prophecy coming true, is all in the name of the greater good. This is probably best exemplified when she speaks to Davos Seaworth. She asks if he is a good man or an evil one, he says that like most men he has both. Her response:
      If half an onion is black with rot, it is a rotten onion. A man is good or he is evil.
    • Davos reflects the metaphor right back at her: when he delivered his ship of much-needed supplies to the besieged soldiers of Storm's End, many of the onions were half-rotten, and eagerly eaten nonetheless.
    • Try telling Cersei Lannister that fawning sycophants do not make great allies. Or that criticism aimed in her direction does not automatically make the person who came out with it a deadly enemy who must be put on the "future accident" list for her peace of mind. Well, she doesn't always do that: she also verbally abuses and belittles them enough to actually make them loathe her enough to become active roadblocks to her various plots and plans. If you are not her child, her twin, or a Yes-Man, she just doesn't see why she shouldn't abuse and discard you whenever she wants to, as you're simply never going to be worthy enough to be truly on her side.
  • Star Wars: Lost Stars: After the destruction of his homeworld, Alderaanian Imperial officer Nash Windrider slowly descends into this, as he doubles down on his fanatic loyalty to the Empire in order to cope. He justifies Alderaan's destruction and the deaths of his family by believing anything the Empire does is necessary for a utopian future and anyone who fights against it is absolute scum.
  • In The Stormlight Archive, Nale divides people into law-obeying and law-breaking. In his eyes, only the law-obeying are allowed to live in peace; the law-breaking, regardless of the severity of their crime, must be punished with death, because to spare them is to invite recidivism.
  • This is shown in Villains by Necessity, a world in which the forces of light finally won a decisive victory over darkness a hundred and fifty years ago. By the time of the story's present, the heroes of the world run about unchecked and have no qualms hunting down Non-Malicious Monsters, brainwashing villains and robbing them of their free will, and committing genocide on Always Chaotic Evil races. They believe their actions are acceptable since they're "on the right side" but the Villain Protagonists of the story note that they seem more concerned with "Black and White" than "Right and Wrong".
  • In Warrior Cats, Hollyleaf believes that the warrior code is the utmost right and that it must be protected at all costs. When she learns that her entire existence goes against Clan tradition, she becomes justifiably insane.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • Galad has a comparatively minor case of this; he's described as "always doing the right thing, no matter who it hurts" and has very strict ideas concerning what right and wrong entail. This leads him eventually to join the Children of the Light, an organization (in)famous for this kind of thinking. In the later books, he begins to lighten up, at least a little, especially after people he respects challenge his worldview and point out how even the best-intentioned person can be simply wrong, even working from the best information that they have. On the plus side, because he's now influential in the Children, his lightening up is taking the organization with him.
    • As a whole, the Children of the Light. Quite a few of them smell rabid to wolves.
  • Discussed in The Witchlands when Caden accuses Safi of this after noting that her power (she's a Living Lie Detector) lends itself for neatly arranging people into "true" and "false", stating that she's too focused on it to see the reasons behind truthfulness or falseness. Safi retorts by telling him that she can't do that because everybody lies.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffyverse:
    • The Watchers Council says all demons are evil. Of course, this is first disproved by the vampire with a soul Angel, and then the soulless vampire Spike, who actually goes and gets a soul for love. Not to mention Clem, a demon so non-evil that not only does Buffy trust him with Dawn, but Dawn is able to push him around (and he comes to Buffy's birthday party). Not to mention that the Slayers themselves have powers that are demonic in origin.
    • Angel showed the Council's position to be nonsense, with scores of non-evil demons appearing. Even many of the demons they fight are "evil" not in a Legions of Hell apocalyptic way, but in a career criminal, thug-for-hire way.
    • Connor. The sad fact is that he never really adjusts to our world. Angel is a killer; therefore, he should die. The world is harsh and cruel; Jasmine made it a paradise, so she must be good. He considers himself above Angel Investigations in this respect, accusing them of fighting empty battles and helping to maintain the status quo.
  • Cobra Kai: A lot of the series conflict, especially in the second season, stems from the fact that Daniel LaRusso refuses to view Johnny Lawrence and the Cobra Kai dojo as anything but a Villain by Default Thug Dojo due to his experiences in the original The Karate Kid trilogy. Even though it's clear Johnny genuinely wants to make his version of the dojo better than Sensei Kreese's and the students, one of whom is a family friend Daniel has known for over a decade, are all bullied outcasts who just want to learn to defend themselves, Daniel considers them an evil that needs to be destroyed for good. As a result, his methods to oppose the dojo veer into Tautological Templar territory and his own group of students become convinced that they're the "good guys" and anything they do to the Cobras is fair game.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Melisandre believes in a constant struggle between the good force of Light and the evil force of Darkness. Consequently, anything that doesn't align with the Lord of Light is evil and must be destroyed because if half an onion is black with rot, it's a rotten onion.
    • Queen Daenerys Targaryen shows signs of this during her Slave Liberation, particularly in Meereen, when she starts dealing out vengeful punishments to the ruling class with the rationale that it is justice because they deserve it because they are evil, with no thought to how much or little the individuals involved were actually responsible for. Jorah is eventually able to talk her down, reminding her that he used to be a slaver himself. More subtly, there is her mounting paranoia that has come in as a result of being betrayed and used all her life by Viserys, Illyrio Mopatis, Mirri Maz Duur, the Qartheen, and later the fact that Jorah was initially a spy, which has hardened her stance. She still persisted at first in thinking of Robert Baratheon as The Usurper and remains in the dark about the kind of person her father truly was, believing that the people who deposed him were evil and without cause. By Season 5, however, she has come to be aware of her father's insanity, with Tyrion Lannister — now a trusted advisor — informing her of why Jaime killed her father. Now, Dany openly refers to her father as terrible. By Season 8, she's slid back into this, and eventually it gets her killed because it would have turned her into almost as bad a tyrant as her father.
  • Gotham: At first, Nathaniel Barnes was apathetic at best to anyone who broke the law in any way. But then he transforms into the Executioner, a maniacal Knight Templar killing everyone he can who did literally anything he considers even slightly immoral (although he claims to only kill criminals, he's quite happy to kill anyone who even speaks about him unflatteringly).
  • The Good Place: The Afterlife works like this. Only the most outstanding high achieving philanthropists reach The Good Place, and everyone else goes to The Bad Place. There's also no middle ground; actual evil people, jerks, and people who were nice but not enough, all go to The Bad Place, all based on an arbitrary point system (you lose points for being French and gain points for being vegan as long as you're not pushy about it). The system gets called out all the time for this fact; Eleanor often makes comments on the fact that while she wasn't good, but she wasn't evil either and there should be a "Medium Place" for people like her. Then, in Season 3, we find out that the standards for getting into the Good Place are so high that nobody has gotten in for over 500 years. This Easy Road to Hell has come about because globalization starting from the Age of Colonization has caused modern life to become so complicated and the world so interconnected that nearly any good act can be dragged down by several unintentional bad ones no matter how pure your motivations are. For example, buying your grandmother a bouquet of flowers for her birthday can lose you points if the CEO of the flower company sexually harasses his secretary, the cell phone you used to place the order contains minerals that were mined using slave labor, the flowers were grown with pesticides, and the shipping process to deliver the bouquet to Grandma dumps a bunch of pollution into the atmosphere. None of the Powers That Be see anything wrong with the system and when the protagonists manage to make Gen realize how unfair it is, her first instinct is to try to Restart the World instead of changing the system.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Satoru Tojo from Kamen Rider Ryuki is a Heroic Wannabe with a habit of killing off his close acquaintances and dismissing the other Riders in the Rider War as unworthy of being 'heroes'. Notably, it's his presence and conviction that what he is doing is right that causes protagonist Shinji Kido to seriously take into consideration that the participants of the Rider War are not simply made up of bad people wanting to do bad things and that there are a lot of gray areas to be considered.
    • Shijima Gou from Kamen Rider Drive has all Roidmudes classified as pure evil, and most of time, he is pretty close. Enter Chase, their Noble Demon top hitman. As if that was not bad enough, Gou soon learns that his sister may be in love with Chase. He loses a few marbles afterwards.
  • Monk will try to prosecute people for letting their dogs pee in the street, having an uneven number of buttons undone on their shirts/sweaters, or wearing mismatched socks because such "crimes against the universe" will "invariably" lead to crimes like Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking. And don't even get him started on nudists...
  • Virginia in the North and South (U.S.) miniseries is against slavery. Fine. Believing that everyone from the southern USA is Always Chaotic Evil? Not so fine. And it keeps going downhill from there, with her ruining her own life and arguably becoming more of a liability to her cause rather than an asset.
  • Oz: Clayton Hughes only sees things in terms of black and white, which is made worse by his inability to take responsibility for his actions, resulting in him seeing everyone who doesn't agree with him one-hundred percent as evil. It ultimately results in him being radicalized and becoming a self-righteous madman.
  • Lena Luthor in Supergirl (2015) has this as her Fatal Flaw. In Lena's eyes, you are either truly good or irredeemably bad, no middle ground. Even if someone she considers good uses less than squeaky clean methods (herself included), she will find the intentions justified. However, if anyone dares to lie to Lena or betray her trust, they will be little to no chance of Rebuilt Pedestal for the transgressor in question.
  • In Supernatural, most spirits have a bad case of this. They see anyone who happens to be their target as completely evil and deserving of death or some other horrific fate, no matter what the victim had actually done; all that matters is making them suffer. The most straightforward example of this is Bloody Mary, who would kill anyone with a Dark Secret that involved someone's death, but this results in her going after people who only feel responsible for a death since, in her eyes, they’re guilty (to elaborate, the man who likely killed his wife and the girl who apparently killed a child in a hit-and-run accident are just as "guilty" to Mary as the girl whose obsessive controlling boyfriend committed suicde after she left him).
  • Police commander Howard "Bunny" Colvin from The Wire bemoans how police adopting a black-and-white mentality and an increasing determination to never compromise or question the "War on Drugs", regardless of its obvious failings, has changed being a police officer for the worse throughout his career. In one frustrated speech, he says that police officers are being turned into wartime soldiers, and outlines what he sees as the differences between the two. (According to him, one protects a community and the people within it, while the other kills their enemies.) He goes on to add that this has only succeeded in turning the very community that police are supposed to protect into their enemies.
    I mean you call something a war, and pretty soon everyone is going to be running around acting like warriors. They gonna be running around on a damn crusade, storming corners, racking up body counts. And when you at war, you need a fucking enemy. And pretty soon damn near everybody on every corner is your fucking enemy. And pretty soon the neighborhood you're supposed to be policing, that's just occupied territory... Soldiering and policing, they ain't the same thing.

  • In Bad Religion lyrics, this trope is implied to be one of the main problems with people and society.
  • Billy Joel:
    • In his song "Shades of Grey", while he notes his own departure from Black-and-White Morality and how much easier it was, he also cautions in the vein of this trope:
      And the only people I fear
      are those who never have doubts
      Save us all from arrogant men,
      and all the causes they're for
    • This is also exemplified in the title character of his "Angry Young Man".
  • The video for the Insane Clown Posse song "Chris Benoit" touches on this in the form of a Rubix cube that arranges itself from evenly checkered to solid black or white on each side, representing the titular wrestler's descent into the insanity that led him to kill his family. The use of chess pieces and dice also add to the Black versus White theme prevalent in the video.
  • The Monkees also did a song "Shades of Grey" with the same theme, but without the caution aspect.
  • Vocaloid producer Nem has a song called "Super Hero". In it, the title character, Kagamine Len, chooses to become a superhero like his idol on a cartoon show in order to administer justice. Over time, he finds the real evil lies in the government and tries to destroy the system for the greater good.
    I'm a superhero!!
    The time has come to change the world
    Call me insane? Call me a murderer?
    You're the ones who are evil!

    Terrorist, you say? That's outrageous!
    Hey, where do you think you're taking me?!
    I protect everyone, this town, this world, and you!
    I'm your great and noble hero!!
    This wasn't the way it ended on TV....
  • In Hitoshizuku-P's song "Karakuri Burst," Kagamine Len states that his views of morality are separated only by 'black and white'.
  • R.I.P's "The Monochrome Mentality", is all about this. vflower and Gumi both claim that an unnamed character is either pure evil or pure good respectively, and Maika bemoans this line of thinking.
    The monochrome mentality
    Is what made this nightmare start
  • Downplayed and Discussed in Poets of the Fall's "Nothing Stays the Same," as the singer describes wallowing in absolutist thinking in darker, depressive moments.
    And black and white thoughts have all bowed to me
    As I've walked through their unlit corridors
  • The Black Metal band Deathspell Omega discusses this trope extensively in a 2019 interview, in which they argue that good and evil are not as clear-cut as people wish to believe, and suggest that their musical and lyrical output is intended as a counterargument to this belief:
    "It acts like a mirror and some may, predictably, not like what they see –- if they see anything at all –- because it contributes to shatter a myth that’s so central to stability both on an individual and civilisational level: the impervious necessity to believe that what we do is just, that we are just, that good and evil in intent and deed are as distinct as night and day. That what we do is condoned either by God or whatever man-made order that’s taken precedence –- whose exceptionalism is of course indisputable and acts like a secular religion. Those who missed the religious nature of the ideology of progress, nationalism, Marxism, basically any discourse based on a human collective from an essentialist point of view, up to Milton Friedman’s approach to capitalism and the potential of a good narrative to befuddle the masses, Pied Piper of Hamelin-style –- haven’t been paying much attention to their surroundings. In short, one of the questions emerging at the end of the process reads as follows: how much have YOU already surrendered to the Devil? How many of the depicted mechanisms have YOU unconsciously made your own, thus how infected and corrupt are YOU? People often greatly overestimate their innocence –- the louder the virtue signalling, the higher the odds –- but it takes a frank and courageous character to admit to that."
    • They also argue that humans' intrinsic necessity to believe that they are good and that humanity is intrinsically good has, in some sense, enabled untold horrors such as war crimes, genocide, and the degradation of the environment:
      "Lucid in some regards –- Saint-Simon, Adam Smith, Herbert Spencer, Auguste Comte all knew that there had to be a derivative to man’s innate aggressive impulses and promoted industry as a means of channeling it and transforming this sinister energy into material progress for the collective. Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle, author of La Marseillaise, wrote a chant to the glory of industry and productivism. Instead of conquering other people or other nations, man ought to conquer nature -– to subjugate the natural world under his yoke. These murderous impulses were neither amended nor negated, simply directed at another target. However, as Spinoza wrote, Deus sive Natura (God or nature). Twice, man committed the highest of crimes: by waging an absolutist war against nature and, therefore, against life itself. And, secondly, by severing the bond to nature and forging an anthropocentric worldview that places man above everything else and, therefore, can be used to justify just about anything –- no matter how short-sighted or ill-advised -– so long as it appears to serve mankind’s interests. Extracting man from the natural order, by intent if not in effect, was a sign of hubris which remains literally without equivalent and whose resulting devastations will know no equivalent either. Listen carefully enough and you’ll hear demonic snigger.

      Within years, an astute observer would’ve noticed what Günter Anders later called the ‘promethean gap’ between, on the one hand, ever-increasing technological prowess and, on the other hand, the astounding lack of moral progress of the species – feelings Anders so aptly named ‘promethean shame’. In parallel, as industry rapidly became an extension of mankind’s deadliest impulses directed toward his contemporaries, ideologies giving man the role of the Demiurge flourished and, predictably, ended in horrors on a scale that breaches the confines of imagination."
  • Elvis Costello's "Complicated Shadows" skewers this mentality.
    Well, you know your time has come
    And you're sorry for what you've done
    You should've never been playing with a gun
    In those complicated shadows
    Well, there's a line that you must tow
    And it'll soon be time to go
    But it's darker than you know
    In those complicated shadows

    Tabletop Games 
  • Beast: The Primordial: Heroes represent the dangerous end-result of mixing this trope with Ax-Crazy; they are defined as Knights Templar who will seek out and destroy all Beasts, even those who choose pretty innocuous methods of sating their Horror Hunger. In fact, Heroes see the universe in terms of "me as good; Beast as evil" that they easily slide into delusions of Protagonist-Centered Morality, allowing them to effortlessly justify anything they do to themselves as being for The Needs of the Many.
  • Genius: The Transgression: The Oracles have this as their defining character flaw. They've rejected any sort of possible nuance or greyness in morality, and act on very old and simplistic moral philosophies, being quite proactive in righting all the supposed wrongs they find. And no matter what you say, they always think they're the ones in the right.
  • Magic: The Gathering: This is White's main flaw, which is why Knight Templars are fairly easy to create. A specific example were the Loxodons from Mirrodin (metal-covered anthropomorphic elephants), which were mentally incapable of accepting the concept of moral shades of grey. The white phyrexians that took over Mirrodin were even worse in that regard.
  • In Nomine: The Archangel Dominic has a habit of seeing the world in extremely stark moral absolutes, with no room for ambiguity, shades of gray, or subjectivity. As far as he's concerned, everything can be sharply separated between Good and Evil, Right and Wrong, True and False, Dominic's side and the wrong side.
  • Planescape:
    • The Harmonium and Mercykiller factions tend to be extremely dogmatic, and are often presented as draconian monsters — the courts often had to throw out cases where someone was arrested by the Harmonium for minor infractions like membership in a "wrong" faction. This came from being in a setting where belief is power and strong belief is more power, leading factions to resort to dogmatic extremism to get and keep their power.
    • In an interesting subversion, it's suggested that, for creatures who are born from and composed of the pure force of Good (or Law, or whatever), to cease to see the world in the black-and-white terms of their alignment is a sign of mental instability. The main example are a group of celestials (beings of pure Good) who conspired to keep the fiends (demons and devils) wrapped up in their Enemy Civil War by running arms to both sides. Some seemed to be close to losing their grip from seeing things in shades of gray. In other words, shades-of-gray is a healthy and mature view for mortals but unhealthy for immortals, and black-and-white absolutism is the reverse.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Pretty much every single sentient being is afflicted by this, due to Fantastic Racism. Except the Always Chaotic Evil ones. Of course, this being Warhammer 40000, the only mistake most of them make is assuming there's a "white".
  • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar: Some Stormcast Eternals can slide into this over time; unfortunately, the process that allows them to come Back from the Dead when killed in battle has the side effect of shaving off a sliver of their humanity each time. Those who've gone through the process many times — and that number is growing as the war against Chaos continues — slowly lose the ability to discern shades of grey in morality, ruthlessly hunting any who stray even slightly from Sigmar's doctrine. Sigmar himself is quite depressed about this, but views it as Necessarily Evil until he can figure out how to fix it.

  • This is Inspector Javert's Fatal Flaw in Les Misérables. As an officer of the law, he views all criminals — regardless of their crime — as evil and all those who uphold the rules, including himself, as good. As such, he spends the better part of twenty years hunting down Jean Valjean, a man who, despite stealing a loaf of bread to save his starving sister and nephew, served his time and repeatedly proves himself just, compassionate, and caring. But Javert cannot let go of the image of Valjean as an inherently corrupt person, and so develops an unhealthy obsession with capturing Valjean and exposing him as a villain. This leads to a total breakdown when Valjean has Javert at his mercy and chooses to set him free instead of seeking revenge. The notion that an "evil" person could do such a kind action is too much for Javert to take, and he's ultimately Driven to Suicide as he realizes that his total Black-and-White Morality is, and always has been, foolish.
  • In the Mrs. Hawking play series, Mrs. Hawking herself falls into this trope over the course of several plays. We first see it in Part III, Base Instruments: after a suspect in a murder investigation lies to her, she immediately considers that suspect the most likely culprit...even though she was the one who hired Mrs. Hawking to begin with. This worldview gradually gets worse as the shows progress — in Part V, Mrs. Frost, her entire crimefighting career grinds to a halt because of her non-stop obsession with the title villain, and in Part VI, Fallen Women, she refuses to believe that any marriage could possibly be happy because of how self-serving and controlling men are, despite her maid Mary's protests to the contrary.
  • In Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, the titular character ends up falling into a twisted version of this trope to support his philosophy. He "reasons" that there are only two kinds of people in the world — the manipulative and destructive upper class and their poor, downtrodden victims. As such, he decides to murder anyone and everyone who crosses his path — it will be karmic justice for the former and a sweet release for the latter.

  • Tuyet from BIONICLE. She's a Lawful Evil character, who wants to take over the Matoran universe because she genuinely believes she could make it a better place. However, an Alternate Universe shows that this would mean brainwashing all the other Toa into Knight Templars, and killing anyone who poses a potential threat to her position as Empress.

    Video Games 
  • Handsome Jack of Borderlands 2 operates off of the reasoning of "Hyperion = good, everyone else = bad", completely disregarding everything good his enemies have done and his own moral bankruptcy. Even when recalling a story of scooping out someone's eyes with a spoon, he'll still recall the story as if they were some kind of insane savage because of the fact that they weren't Hyperion, and laugh about the incident like the guy brought it on himself and started it when in reality it sounds like the guy was trying to defend his kids from Jack.
  • The Crimson Court DLC for Darkest Dungeon added new bosses to the game, one of them being a prime example of this trope: the Fanatic. Obsessed with destroying the Crimson Curse, he shows up in random dungeons to attack parties containing infected heroes and is completely unconcerned with whether or not the people he burns at the stake are themselves infected; anyone with the Crimson Curse, to him, is evil, and anyone who aids them is abetting that evil. Even the Ancestor, a man whose obsessive pursuit of Things Man Was Not Meant To Know is responsible for much of the crap you have to clean up in the game and which led to him shooting himself in the head while an angry mob broke down the door to his room, thinks the Fanatic is little more than a rabid animal that needs to be put down.
  • Dragon Age II:
    • Anders becomes more and more obsessed with the Mage/Templar issue of Kirkwallover time. And as he's starting to lose the battle against the Spirit of Vengeance, he becomes more and more hostile to those he perceives as pro-Templar or just generally an enemy of mages, including those in Hawke's party. He seems to struggle equally with the idea that mages can do wrong. No matter how many blood mages you encounter in Kirkwall, Anders will always assume that accusations of blood magic or wrongdoing on the part of a mage are Templar lies until confronted with direct evidence. When you encounter the conspiracy between mages and Templars in Act III, Anders is completely shocked and disbelieving that the prime driving force for attacking Hawke was Grace, a mage they had previously rescued.
    • Fenris believes that all mages are evil, period. Interestingly, he's aware that it's a bad idea to overgeneralize the innocent many based on the actions of a guilty few. But reminding him of that will cause him to rationalize that bad magic is so tempting that all innocent mages will eventually become guilty. Unlike Anders, Fenris never quite acts on his belief beyond insulting the mages in the party, and Fenris will sometimes apologize for being rude if it's pointed out to him. Fenris will even help mages if Hawke points out their treatment could be considered a form of slavery; as a former slave himself, the one thing Fenris hates more than mages is slavers.
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake: Barret's worldview in a nutshell. Shinra is bad, everything they do is bad, everything and everyone connected or associated to them is bad, and everything is Shinra's fault. While it is true that a lot of Midgar's problems can be tied back to them, Barret often employs Insane Troll Logic to explain why things are their fault. Someone works for Shinra to provide for their family? Stupid asshole. Monsters nesting in the city's train system? Shinra's fault for allowing it to happen. And of course, him bombing reactors and killing people to "stop" Shinra is good, even if it's clear to everyone else that isn't the case. Cloud even lampshades this by nearly name-dropping the trope. It's implied that Barret forces himself to view things this way, because he would otherwise crumble under the weight of his actions otherwise.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: The main flaw with Myste, a character from the Dark Knight questline, is his utter refusal to look at the big picture when it comes to killing people in wartime. Myste hates the fact that the Warrior of Light has had to kill people in order to save Eorzea. However, Myste ignores all context, justification, or explanation as to why the Warrior killed people, saying that "murder is murder" and it's not an excuse. He uses this even on people from the Garlean Empire who were planning to Take Over the World, and even on the Knights Twelve of Heavensward who were perpetuating an oppressive government. The fact that the Warrior of Light doesn't feel good about any of the blood on their hands doesn't matter a whit to Myste, which Myste uses as proof that the Warrior is a monster. It's revealed late into the Stormblood Dark Knight quest that Myste is an Enemy Without of the Warrior of Light's Guilt Complex over needing to kill people.
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, this trope is a huge part of Dimitri's Character Arc. While his moral compass can accurately distinguish what is right and just, his standards for irredeemable evil are far too strict. To him, war, self-defense, or ideology are just flimsy excuses villains use to justify murder, so there's no point in understanding or empathizing with their position. Unfortunately, this outrage extends to even himself, so he's an unforgivable bloodstained monster for fulfilling his princely duties and for taking joy in killing others. Only on the Azure Moon path does he come to terms with the complexity of killing and learn how to forgive both others and himself.
  • Count Vulgar... uh, Veger from Jak 3 certainly qualifies. His vision of the world boils basically to: anything related to Light Eco — good, anything related to Dark Eco — bad. Even if the person unwillingly (though he was against it) pumped by Dark Eco is a hero that defeated the Metal Head leader. Predictably, the war goes to hell after Jak is banished, which probably contributed to his demotion by Ashelin.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, Atris has a simplistic sense of morality: everything is either completely good or completely evil. This caused her to turn on the Jedi Order, whom she previously saw as perfect and infallible, when their actions during the Mandalorian Wars and Jedi Civil War challenged these notions, leading her to secretly plot to recreate the Jedi Order according to her values — where any Force-sensitive would be killed for showing even the slightest sign of turning to The Dark Side. By the time of her final confrontation with the Exile, it's clear that Atris' inability to reconcile morally grey actions has caused her to snap and turn to the Dark Side.
  • Heavily implied with the apparent Big Good Rohoph in the MARDEK series, due to the Violet Crystal's influence. Qualna calls him out on it and gets a Fate Worse than Death for his trouble.
  • Mass Effect: As per the quote above, this is played with for Garrus Vakarian in the first and second games, both of which portray him as someone who thinks along these lines before he finally mellows out in the third.
    • In the first game, he was someone who saw lawbreakers as people who needed to be put down, with his entire reason for joining Shepard to stop Saren being simply to kill the latter on principle. His introduction has him risking a civilian's life to snap-kill a thug, and his backstory reveals that'd he'd once advised a transport of civilian hostages be destroyed in order to stop one criminal, willing to write them all off as necessary losses purely because they were in the way. Shepard can choose to reinforce or reprimand this behavior, but it won't change who he is at his core; only get him to accept another way of doing things is possible.
    • In the second game, he's slid further into this after seeing all the political hogwash on the Citadel in response to (or rather denial of) the Reaper threat, heading to Omega purely because of how easily he could find lawbreakers — and he not only didn't hesitate to kill anyone who broke the law (be they legally-enforced or just unspoken edict), but he sometimes gave them rather cruel or ironic deaths in line with what crimes they committed. As before, Shepard can work to either encourage or discourage this behavior, with a Paragon Shepard (who themselves arguably classes as a Lawful Good Anti-Hero by this point via association with Cerberus) being particularly disturbed by Garrus' more ruthless behavior.
  • Mortal Kombat 1 (2023) has Havik/Dairou, a member of the lowest caste of Seido, the Realm of Order. Brutally punished by Seido's ruling caste for a petty crime, Havik has developed the mentality of the world being divided into the oppressors, who need to be overthrown, and the oppressed, who need to be liberated wherever they realize it or not. Attempts by other characters to reason with him get nowhere because he's so adamant in his beliefs that he even accuses Johnny Cage of being a tyrant.
  • The King of Shadows in Neverwinter Nights 2 is the immortal guardian of the Illefarn Empire and his sole purpose for existing is protecting it. He views everything as either part of the empire or an enemy to it, with anybody who attacks him being slotted into the latter category. Since most people want to kill him (for the obvious reason that he’s a Humanoid Abomination whose very presence is inimical to life), he thinks that the entire world is an enemy of the empire. It should be noted that the empire in question no longer exists; it collapsed centuries ago, but the King is so deranged and duty-obsessed that he genuinely thinks it still stands.
  • Zealot Angels in Nexus games fall into this trope with frightening regularity, although it's hard to tell whether Namm (their patron god) is immune to it as his PR says or the worst example.
  • "Black Mask" Otherwise known as Goro Akechi, The Heavy in Persona 5, actually mocks the concept of justice for not being morally clear enough when you confront him. As far as he's concerned, his enemies, his allies and even all of society should be thrown into chaos as recompense for the crimes and injustices they've ignored.
  • Persona 5 Strikers:
    • While all the Monarchs have this to a certain degree, this is one of Akane, the fifth Monarch's flaws, even before being turned into one. After her father Zenkichi stopped investigating her mother's murder, Akane began to see people in two ways: law enforcers and their supporters are evil and those who fight against law enforcers (like the Phantom Thieves) are good. There is no middle ground for her. Although, prior to being brainwashed to become a Monarch, she was at least willing to listen to Makoto's advice. However, this flaw soon became magnified to extreme degrees. She rejected Zenkichi's legitimate reasons for backing off the case and began acting like Konoe, down to parroting the latter's goals and exact words and refused to listen to any reasoning from the Thieves due to being influenced by Konoe without realizing it.
    • Akira Konoe has this as his greatest flaw, due to being what the Thieves would be if they didn't have each other to pull themselves back from the brink. He believes that he's a hero and that it is his duty to root out Japan's corruption. Therefore, whatever he does in pursuit of that goal is heroic (even if it involves using EMMA for mind control via stealing desires), and anyone who opposes him must be a villain who should be dealt with by any means necessary, even if they're the Phantom Thieves and are dismantling Jails because having one's desires stolen can ruin one's life (such as people bankrupting themselves to buy Alice merch or Ango's book), and the Jails trap the Monarchs within their own trauma. There's a reason that his themed sin is Pride.
  • Planescape: Torment: Vhailor, the Sixth Ranger, is a haunted suit of armor who's the patron saint of the Mercykillers, a faction of Knight Templar Bounty Hunters who believe in punishing evil at any cost without mercy (hence the name). Through sheer force of will alone, he cheated death by becoming the embodiment of justice. This would be great if not for the fact that his personal definition of justice is batshit insane, as the slightest misstep in conversation with him will make him turn on half the party. Even in a universe where good and evil are actual physical forces as real as gravity and magnetism, Vhailor's fanaticism renders him close to non-functional and the rest of your party consider him equal part crazy and terrifying.
  • Pokémon:
    • N and Team Plasma from Pokémon Black and White (appropriately enough) have this. If you're not in support of their insane Cartoonish Supervillainy, then you're a cruel and abusive Lillipup-kicking Pokémon trainer! It turns out that Team Plasma's claim to having this is merely a cover-up for their true motives — to Take Over the World. N turns to be the true Plasma King. The only one who wants to Take Over the World is Ghetsis. N even all but invokes the idea by name:
      "Many different values mix together, and the world becomes gray... That is unforgivable! I will separate Pokémon and people, and black and white will be clearly distinct!"
    • In Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, Ghetsis and his loyalists pretty much ditch their "Pokémon Liberation" facade and become a full-blown terrorist organization aiming for world domination, while N is still interested in freeing Pokémon, but more specifically freeing them from Pokéballs. As the end nears, he begins to question if people and Pokémon really can live alongside each other.
    • It's also worth noting that N was specifically manipulated by Ghetsis in order to think this way. Interestingly enough, he also notes that some trainers (like the player character) are okay, but he still believes that the overwhelming majority are so abusive that it's more worth it to separate all trainers from their Pokémon anyway. While he's still questioning things in the sequels, N ultimately seems to have accepted things the way they are, at least.
  • Ishida Mitsunari in Sengoku Basara. He defines 'good' as his master, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. If you are a fellow servant of Hideyoshi, he will (grudgingly) tolerate you. If not, you are a vile sinner who will be beaten until you become a servant of Hideyoshi at best or killed in the most gruesome fashion imaginable for the 'sin' of disobedience. It doesn't help that he's quite a Horrible Judge of Character.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: By the end of any of the games in the main series, both the Chaos and Law factions will have degenerated into this. Don't much care for a World of Silence? Then get thine ass hence, for thou art a greedy, war-mongering Jerkass who placeth his own whims before the needs of thy fellow man's! Think that a world of Social Darwinism where Might Makes Right isn't your thing? Then FUCK YOU, you goody-good, backstabbing peace-lover!
  • Angela Deth in Wasteland 3. She was dispatched ahead of Team November to Colorado but upon seeing how the morally gray Patriarch administrated the region she almost immediately went rogue and started plotting against him despite the fact that the fate of their entire organization and community hinges on his support. General Woodson flat-out warns the player that she's incapable of thinking past Black-and-White Morality and not to let her interfere with their mission, but if you fail to get the Golden Ending she instigates a coup that wipes out half the Rangers. She shows no regard whatsoever for the consequences of her actions, with her insistence on maintaining her perceived moral high ground regardless of how it affects others making her not much better than the Well-Intentioned Extremist she seeks to depose.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • FreedomToons: Dr. Mac has a rather bad case of this because he views the world exclusively through a power+prejudice ideological lens. He actually argues that a survivor of a terrorist massacre is an evil racist... because he's white, so he can never be victimized. Meanwhile, any group or idea endorsed by his team has to be wonderful by default, facts be damned.

  • In Captain SNES: The Game Masta, Max Force labels people who disagree with him about just about anything as "druggies" and attempts to shoot them down. Once he is convinced someone is a druggie, no force in the world can convince him otherwise. When he fails to shoot his target, he comes up with insane excuses as to why he didn't actually miss; he was just aiming at something else.
  • Girl Genius: As far as Othar Tryggvassen (GENTLEMAN ADVENTURER!) is concerned, Sparks can be divided into the ones who are responsible for the deprivations Europa is under and who must therefore die, and the ones who are prepared to join him on this crusade (who must also die, but will be left to last, just before himself). The amount of doublethink this requires is illustrated when Tarvek is horrified that girls with the Spark were being killed by the Geisterdamen, and Othar assumes that the fact Tarvek is not a Complete Monster is entirely down to his influence, while at the same time reminding Tarvek (and the readers) that he would have been quite prepared to kill those girls himself.
  • Goblins: Kore the Paladin is nominally Lawful Good, a requirement maintaining his paladin status. However, he believes certain races of monsters are inherently evil, and that anyone who comes into contact with an evil creature becomes "infected" with evil themselves, which can only be cured by death. This includes people who merely come into contact with evil creatures, people who are kidnapped by evil creatures, and even people who might potentially sympathize with evil creatures... and no, children are not exempt. The scariest part? Kore still retains his paladin magics, which means that either the divines who guide the church agree with and/or tolerate his philosophy, or there is something very wrong with heaven. (It's neither; he's cheating the alignment requirements via captured souls.) It eventually turns out that demons "cursed" him a millennium ago; it's not confirmed if that is the main cause of his insanity, but it probably prevented him from getting psychological help.
  • The Order of the Stick:
  • Irina Tepes from Rasputin Catamite hacks up people in the name of God, and is absolutely convinced that her activities are virtuous.
  • In Remus, the partisan climate of the US devolving into this on both sides was the driving force behind the less-than-stellar state of affairs.
  • Glinda comes off like this in the "Kings War" arc of Roommates when she goes to war against an evil, greedy, glory-seeking villain who fools people into thinking that he changed and got his hand on a magical kingdom, but villains are villains and heroes are heroes, period... In her own world, she might be justified (OZ is not the land of great moral ambiguity), but because the comic is a Morality Kitchen Sink, that villain happens to be a Lawful Good ex-Hero Antagonist who is also the Token Good Teammate of the main cast. When she explains her reason, it boils down to: "There are heroes and there are villains, and you are a villain, so you must be opposed."

    Web Originals 
  • On the Dream SMP, since the Pogtopia arc, when his mental health took a massive hitnote , Wilbur's worldview has been cleanly split in half, between "heroes" and "villains". This is most clearly shown in how he treats both Dream and himself.
    • In Pogtopia, Wilbur initially considered himself the hero, and Schlatt the villain. However, after hearing that Schlatt was planning to hold a festival in Manburg meant to be a nice event for his citizens, Wilbur realized that taking Manburg back from Schlatt wasn't as morally white as he'd first assumed, leading him to come to the conclusion that Schlatt was the hero and he was the villain. Even when the festival turned out to be a front for Tubbo's execution, Wilbur had already leaned so hard into becoming the best "villain" the server had ever seen that he didn't even consider walking back on his stance.
    • After regaining Ghostbur's memories, Wilbur was initially furious at Dream because of his treatment of Tommy in exile, and even outright told Tommy that he would've murdered Dream on the spot if he'd been there instead of Ghostbur. However, after being saved from the Afterlife by Dream, he seems to disregard the horrific abuse Dream put Tommy through and outright proclaims him a hero, giving a long speech about how his quest for power wasn't for power's sake, it was to prevent the rest of the server from filling the power vacuum Wilbur left behind. The first part is later retconned, as when Tommy mentions it, Wilbur is unaware of what Dream did to him… and then rapidly shifts to trying to murder him once he finds out.
  • Worm: Panacea aggressively categorises capes as heroes and villains with no grey area, to the point that she continues to view Skitter as an irredeemable villain even after the other breaks her back protecting a civilian shelter from Leviathan. Furthermore, in the Slaughterhouse Nine arc, she actively sabotages the Undersiders even though they're the main force opposing the SH9 and save her life multiple times, just because they're "villains". Her adoptive sister Glory Girl and foster mother Brandish (who's the reason they are this way) are just as bad if not worse, although Brandish has a Freudian Excuse: She and her sister were kidnapped and held captive when they were young. Brandish started seeing her kidnappers as not really that bad... which is when they announced that they were going to kill her and her sister. That betrayal caused her to Trigger and colored her view of everyone she met later, making her absolutely incapable of trusting anyone even distantly associated with villainy (which unfortunately includes Panacea, as she's the daughter of a supervillain) because they remind her of her kidnappers.

    Western Animation 
  • Arcane has Jinx, a trauma-filled girl/woman/child who turns on her sister after she discovers that the latter has been working with an enforcer due to her black/white perception of allies and enemies. She also turns on her adoptive father for this same reason.
  • Near the end of Avatar: The Last Airbender, especially in the finale, Azula begins to adopt this mindset, seeing everyone as being either completely for her or a complete traitor to her — most notably, the end of "The Boiling Rock, Part 2" after Mai and Ty Lee turn on her. Parodied when she banishes one of her twin handmaidens, convinced one is loyal and the other is treacherous, despite the fact that she can't tell them apart. They themselves can't decide who's supposed to leave as a result.
  • In Gargoyles, this trope, combined with Never My Fault, is Demona's Fatal Flaw.
    • She despises humans and believes that every last one of them is nothing more than a cruel, hateful monster, although she is at least self-aware enough to realize that a few select people are capable of good deeds; for example, when Brooklyn argues that Elisa is a decent person, Demona claims that she's simply the exception that proves the rule. While Demona's tragic past does justify this belief to an extent, and she's often proven right about humans given their horrified and violent reactions to the gargoyles, flashback episodes reveal that she has always carried extreme hatred in her heart, despite the rest of her kind realizing that humans are fundamentally different from them and need to be treated as such. It's also shown that her initial dislike of humans came from the gargoyles having to share their home with humans (who were willing to cooperate with the creatures, especially because gargoyle physiology means they can only move during the night) based on a flimsy "we were here first" argument. It also becomes increasingly clear that Demona bears the centuries-old guilt of betraying her entire clan and leaving almost all of them to die while saving herself, and thus clings to the belief that it is the fault of humans because it protects herself from having to deal with her own culpability.
    • Demona's relationship with Macbeth also proves that she suffers from this line of thinking. He was one of the few humans who she actually liked and trusted (albeit extremely reluctantly), as he showed her nothing but respect and honor for her skills as a warrior. However, when one of Macbeth's allies suggested betraying the gargoyles, Macbeth remarked that he'd think about it — even though it was clear he would never do so and only made that claim because, in his own words, "a wise king considers all options". However, in Demona's eyes, anything other than a complete and violent display of loyalty to her was a sign of treachery, and so she turned on Macbeth with a hateful vengeance.
  • Gravity Falls has Rumble McSkirmish from "Fight Fighters". A character from a fighting game played by Dipper, he comes to the conclusion that Robbie, Dipper's romantic rival, is evil and killed Dipper's father. When Dipper admits he lied, Rumble decides that Dipper is a villain as well and beats him too.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: Dr. Emilia believes humans are inherently good and mutes are inherently evil, and thus works to create a "cure" to devolve mutes into normal animals so humanity can go back to being the dominant species of Earth.
  • The Owl House: Belos/Philip operates under the assumption that all witches and demons are inherently evil and must be eradicated, and that all humans are inherently good and must be protected, but can be corrupted through association with witches, at which point it's best to Mercy Kill them. He's so committed to this line of thinking that on top of the genocide of the Boiling Isles he spent 400 years planning, he murdered his own brother for falling in love with a witch, and was fully ready to turn 14-year-old Luz to stone for sympathizing with witches.
  • Star Wars: The Bad Batch: Saw Garrera believes the Empire is bad (which it admittedly is) and anything he does to it is therefore good. Anyone who disagrees with him on his methods, regardless of why (like, for example, his plan being needlessly destructive) or even how minor that disagreement, is a hinderance who isn't willing to do "what's necessary". By the time of Rogue One, this attitude has led to Saw being a broken, paranoid wreck hiding in the wilds of Jedha, having managed to piss off any potential allies outside his small group of loyalists, and is no longer able to see that an Imperial pilot could actually defect, believing it to be a plot and having the man tortured.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Jasper strongly believes in Homeworld's rigid Hive Caste System; every Gem is built for a purpose, and anyone who can't fulfill that purpose (such as "off-color" Gems) or won't (like the Crystal Gems and other rebels) deserves to suffer. This also applies to herself; her desperation to defeat the Crystal Gems after constantly losing to them drives her to increasingly erratic behavior, to the point that she ends up corrupted near the end of season 3.
    • Bismuth sees the world as Crystal Gems = Good; Homeworld Gems = Evil. Her view goes to the point where she creates the Breaking Point, a weapon meant to render gems Deader than Dead, and when Rose (and later Steven) protest, she attacks them, as she sees anyone trying to show mercy to the Homeworld Gems as just as evil. She gets better after Steven un-bubbles her and explains the truth about Rose Quartz being Pink Diamond. Feeling terrible about what she tried to do to Steven, she reconciles with the other Gems.
    • White Diamond suffers from this trope in a bad way, because in her mind, there's only one good thing in all of creation: herself. To her, anything and everything she thinks of or believes is a wonderful idea because she came up with it, and anyone who dares to question her logic or judgment is obviously a broken, misguided idiot. White thus combines this trope with Condescending Compassion by brainwashing those who disagree with her into becoming colorless extensions of herself, with no will or personalities of their own (they even begin talking in White's voice). In her eyes, totally eradicating another sentient creature's mind is actually a good thing, because getting to be an extension of the universe's most ideal specimen is the most wonderful fate possible. Once Steven and Connie manage to prove White wrong about something and thus demonstrate that she isn't perfect, she has a Villainous Breakdown that releases her victims and forces her to confront her own flaws.


Video Example(s):



In her own standards, she turned bad people into coal and good people into fairies who follow her orders.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / BlackAndWhiteInsanity

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