Order vs. Chaos is used as an alternative to Good vs. Evil but oftentimes it gets simplified to Chaos Is Evil. In this case, Order Is Not Good either. Where Chaos has Bomb-Throwing Anarchists, Order has the Knight Templar. That's not to say that there are no good people on either side - but this trope is in effect whenever a good number of either sides are taking their "order" and "chaos" way too far. In this case, the work may present a third option in the form of Balance Between Order And Chaos.
The creators can present the two sides of the conflict as Dramatically Missing the Point, and the Good thing is to Take a Third Option, by balancing the two extremes. Too much "order" would result in a static and unchanging world. Too much "chaos" would destroy it.
This works out similar to Balance Between Good and Evil but with a crucial distinction. Namely, Good comes from the balance between the agents advocating conformity and the agents advocating individual choice, rather than some unspecified meaning of "balance". Creators can now use a Morality Kitchen Sink of characters in the conflict, as both sides believe their side is morally correct behaviour. Due to this, the story often is classified as Grey and Gray Morality.
- All Work vs. All Play (All Work favoring Order, All Play favoring Chaos)
- False Dichotomy, this work is averting the choice of Order or Chaos.
- God and Satan Are Both Jerks (God is usually representing Order, while Satan is representing Chaos)
- Golden Mean Fallacy: The opposite of this trope, where "balance" is the foolish choice.
- Shades of Conflict: How much weight to either side? Ten characters have ten opinions and all of them may be more or less correct.
- Psycho-Pass has the Sibyl System being Order and Shogo Makishima being Chaos. The Sibyl System has essentially removed almost all free will and individuality from society, and turned it into a "happier" version of Nineteen Eighty-Four where people have to be happy or calm, or else be arrested or killed just for thinking negatively once they step outside. Makishima despises the Sibyl System, and wants to free people from its control...but he also loves violence and the darker sides of humans, often finding ways to free people to commit the crimes they've imagined of but were forced to hide from the outside world in order to wonder about them. Oh, and Makishima also believes societal collapse is an admirable goal to work towards.
- One Piece: Pirates and Knight Templar Marines are two kinds of this trope. Pirates that aren't the Straw-Hats tend to terrorize and pillage, which is characteristic of them. However, some marines go to extreme measures to take down pirates and other criminals who go against justice. And they sometimes don't care if innocents get caught in the crossfire, either coming up with an arbitrary reason to convince others they were "guilty" or considering it a necessary sacrifice for "justice".
- Rurouni Kenshin: It's hard to say which side is better between the Isshin-Shishi and Shogunate. While the former group initially portrayed as freedom fighting, various characters such as Sanosuke note that power has only changed hands. Shishio seems to be a product of this. The Shogunate, wanting to maintain their order, opposed the Isshin-Shishi and their tendencies show with Knight Templar Saitou.
- Soul Eater: For a while, the series firmly held the stance Chaos Is Evil with the existence of Kishins and Witches with their Pull of Magic. Then, as the later chapters are published, everything grays. When Death the Kid is trapped in the Book of Eibon, the Great Old One of Power gifts him with... power. Kid, as a Shinigami, represents "Order" and when he temporarily goes mad, he takes it to the extreme, believing nothingness to be the ultimate form of balance and order. Later on, it's revealed the Madness of Order, which Shinigami like him and Lord Death have, has the potential to create a mechanical cycle of life and death in humans.
- Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt: The main characters are Sociopathic Heroes who cause wanton destruction wherever they go, while their rivals are enforcers to the Big Bad, who runs the city as its mayor and looks to Take Over the World.
- From The DCU:
- Prominent villains Lex Luthor and Joker embody these opposite extremes. Lex seeks to stand above humanity and control them like a God, while Joker is completely chaotic and does whatever he wants. Though funnily enough the pair manage to maintain a solid professional relationship. Sure, they insult, undermine and backstab each other a lot but that's the nature of the job.
- There's also the Lords of Order and Chaos, opposite ends of a Blue and Orange Morality scale who all consider themselves Beyond Good And Evil. Both sides have empowered both heroes and villains.
- The Sandman: Representatives from both Order and Chaos show up to try to claim Hell after Lucifer decides that he's done managing Hell and it's time to move on with his life. Neither comes off as better than the other: Order seems to suffer from quite a case of Creative Sterility, has slaves, and wants to make Hell into a more efficient realm, while the representative from Chaos incarnates as a psychopathic brat who threatens Dream with eternal war should he turn Hell over to anyone else, and later reveals that Chaos never really wanted Hell, but simply wanted to prevent Order from getting it.
- PS238: When the forces of Chaos and Order (resembling demons and angels) find a way back to the earth they were barred from, they turn superheroes against their own children.
- From Marvel Comics:
- Initially averted. Both Order and Chaos are good, or at least decent enough not to get in the way of things, most of the time, which compared to most cosmic beings makes them "good".
- Played straight in The Ultimates (2015), which casts both Order and Chaos as antagonists (with Order in the driver's seat). They both disapprove of Galactus' transformation into the "Lifebringer" and try to forcibly revert him to the status quo, playing into the hands of the comic's true Big Bad...
- Runaways: In the "Dead End Kids" arc, the team gets sent back in time to 1907, and finds themselves in the middle of a gang war between the Upward Path, who represent legal and religious authority, and the Sinners, who represent the various vices. The Runaways quickly realize that neither group would make good allies.
- Wheller presents us with Prince Zephyr / Overdrive, representing Order, and Prince Maelstrom / the "Siblings Nightmare" (it's complicated), representing Chaos. Even as Overdrive in the present, Zephyr imagines his ideal world as a machine, with all the sapient creatures in it (such as Ponies, for example) as cogs, incapable of free will and thus rebellion, and himself as the operator of the machine; while Maelstrom is a Type-5 Social Darwinist whose Chaos is intended to induce Strife which culls the Weak™ and allows the Strong™ to prosper. Both of them oppose Discord, their transformed father (as well as Celestia's and Luna's this time around, but that's too wide a tangent for this page) after his wife dies and he goes mad with grief, Maelstrom for the reasons above, and Zephyr because he's Order and Discord is Chaos. Both are eventually removed for a thousand years, Zephyr in the bodies of Monty Uhlan's family down to Monty himself, at some point taking the name "Overdrive" for some reason, and Maelstrom... somehow... splits into three as the Siblings Nightmare, who are all male (told you it was complicated), and both brothers become the first two Big Bads of Wheller's stories.
- This is the theme of Demolition Man: A cop is brought from the past to enforce order but quickly shows everyone that strict order can be just as evil as absolute chaos. In the end, the two leaders that represent chaos and order find they have to negotiate with each other in order find a good balance.
- In The LEGO Movie, Lord/President Business represents Order to a fault, wanting to keep all of the Lego realms separate and freeze them in place with the Kraggle so that their "perfection" can never be altered. Cloudcuckooland, a place with no rules, is initially presented as a preferable alternative, but main character Emmet ultimately finds a lot to admire in Lord Business' ambition and meticulous attention to detail mirroring Finn's reconciliation with his father. At the end, a more threatening personification of Chaos invades: the Duplo Planet aka Finn's younger sister.
- In Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion sagas, it ultimately does not matter if the Champion serves Chaos or Law. In the end, every manifestation of the Champion - and the Eternal Enemy - discovers his purpose is to maintain the Balance, a state lying beyond Chaos and Law, two states which in their absolute form only bring sterility and barren endings. And in less extreme forms, both excess Law and excess Chaos make for unpleasant societies, with the former leading to oppressive totalitarianism and the latter brutal lawlessness. The champion Corum goes one further - he is the unwitting servant of the Great Old Ones, who physically destroy all the Gods of chaos and law, demonstrating that Mankind doesn't need them and must make its own way.
- In the 5 books focusing on Merlin in The Chronicles of Amber, both the Pattern (the symbol of order) and its chaos counterpart the Logrus turn out to be sentient. They're both cold, inhuman forces willing to use the lives of its initiates like chess pieces as they try to win their battles with each other. The second pattern that Corwin created has far more empathy for human life, however.
- In The Adversary Cycle this is done in a manner somewhat similar to Black and Gray Morality. Chaos wants to destroy all indigenous life on Earth To Create a Playground for Evil. Order opposes chaos... purely to win some unknown, possibly galaxy or universe wide conflict between the two, and doesn't give much of a crap about living creatures, including its own champion. But while order may ignore humanity and not lift a finger to help it unless chaos is involved, at least it's not looking to snuff it out either.
- The two masterminds behind Westerosi politics in A Song of Ice and Fire. Lord Varys represents order, and his goals are restoring order to the Seven Kingdoms by this, he means undoing Robert's revolution and returning the old dynasty to the throne. Lord "Littlefinger" Baelish represents chaos, and his goals are fomenting unrest and civil war and raising himself in society. Both are lethally dangerous, especially if your TV series counterpart is played by Sean Bean.
- In Discworld, the ultimate representatives of order and chaos (the Auditors of Reality and the Things from the Dungeon Dimensions respectively) are both menaces whose victory would destroy the Disc. The Auditors deliberately try to destroy life and especially intelligence because it's bizarrely unpredictable and messes up their filing, whereas the Things are simply too much crazy for the universe to contain.
- In the Dragon Knight books, the Dark Powers' constant goal is to tip the balance between the forces of History and Chaos, in either direction. The success of History would result in complete societal (and possibly temporal) stasis, while the victory of Chaos would shatter all authority and stability and leave the world a kaleidoscope of terror.
- Honor Harrington has the two main villains of the People's Republic of Haven and the Solarian League. The PRH didn't set out to be chaotic, but its constant disruption of leadership, ever more extreme ideology and habit of destroying anything that smells like tradition puts them firmly there. Meanwhile, the League's attempt to create a harmless legislature instead created a Vast Bureaucracy, which by the time of the story was hideously corrupt, fueled itself by economically plundering frontier worlds, and considered itself to be immovable and unstoppable.
- In The Lost Fleet, Geary comes to the conclusion that both extremes are dangerous to the user. The Alliance's old way of a fleet of unorganized lone wolves was plainly idiotic, but the perfect hierarchical order of the "bear-cows" they encounter later is little better because it eliminates all initiative, so they can never have any ideas better than the herd-leader's.
Too much discipline and too little discipline were two sides of the same disastrous coin, which could only purchase defeat.
- In The Invisible Library and sequels, dimensions dominated by the Fae are maddeningly unpredictable worlds run on personal whim and the Theory of Narrative Causality, while those controlled by the Dragons are rigidly physical places where nothing happens except because a dragon king has decreed it. The role of the Library is to maintain the worlds in the middle, where humans get to be something other than supporting cast, and stop the Fae or the Dragons getting too much power. It's also mentioned that high-chaos and high-order worlds affect the Language, the not-magic that give Librarians limited Reality Warper powers - in highly ordered worlds everything resists being told it's something other than it is, whereas in chaotic worlds everything is all too eager to change its nature and the problem is maintaining control. Both use more energy than in balanced worlds; in the orderly ones you have to push, and in the chaotic ones you get pulled.
- Post-apocalyptic Victoria warns against either extreme. While order is better, even totalitarian order—since chaos equals oblivion—, too much of it becomes oppressive and dysfunctional, stifling the human spirit. The heroes attempts to chart out a middle course between the dangers of disintegration (e.g., the New South) on the one hand and too-regimented authoritarianism (e.g., the Landwehr) on the other, as they struggle to preserve and rebuild what they can of the dream that was America.
- In Babylon 5 the Vorlons, representing Order, and the Shadows, representing Chaos, have been fighting a war for millennia and manipulating younger races into acting as their proxies. The series' Myth Arc concludes with the Babylon 5 races collectively telling them to take their war and stick it where the sun don't shine, refusing to fight for them anymore.
Sheridan: Now get the hell out of our galaxy!
- Firefly and Serenity end up implying this as a sort of Accidental Aesop. In the Core Worlds people are prosperous and live in relative luxury, at the cost of the Alliance controlling everything and being able to do virtually anything they can remotely justify—like experimenting on teenage girls and using an entire planet as guinea pigs in a social engineering experiment Gone Horribly Wrong. On the Rim the Alliance has little presence. Life is much harder and more anarchic, but you can always look your enemy in the eye and settle things the old-fashioned way. The argument seems to be that a healthy society needs both, where the strengths of each mitigates the flaws of the other.
- The setting has Gods of Law as well as the more infamous Chaos Gods. But they're not particularly popular in setting (and thus less powerful) because even The Empire considers them a bit extreme.
- One Well-Intentioned Extremist vampire count tried to turn humans undead, which would free them from the influence of Chaos once and for all.
- The Slann, giant frog-like servants of the Old Ones (who planted life on the world and opposed Chaos) to their best to follow their disappeared master's plans. Unfortunately, while they're the best chance the world has against Chaos, their morality is so far removed from human's they sometimes do more harm than good (rearranging some mountain ranges, which completely destroyed the Dwarf empire inside).
- Warhammer 40,000:
- This time there's the forces of Chaos and the Necrons. The Chaos gods need life to exist, manifesting in disease, mutation, rape and mass murder. The Necrons are trying to destroy Chaos by annihilating all sentient life in the galaxy.
- The Imperium represents Order in that despite the ever worsening decay, they refuse to change in any way. The Machine Worship cult that services their machinery forbids any form of experimentation (to them all knowledge was once held by mankind, and must now be found rather than discovered) and unknowingly worship one of the Necron's gods.
- The Eldar, Space Elves who have their own vendetta against the forces of Chaos and also represent (to a degree) the force of Order. However, they are incredibly elitist with prejudices against almost every other race out there for being inferior to them and are so dogmatic that they'll only listen to their own kind. But whereas the Imperium demonstrates a manifest destiny to conquer the universe at all costs, the Eldar are on an increasingly rapid descent from the greatness they once held (That is, until they brought about Slaanesh with their own depravity) and constantly struggle to survive.
- Players of Dungeons & Dragons who play Lawful Neutral or Chaotic Neutral characters have a tendency to slip into Lawful Evil or Chaotic Evil. Though Chaotic Neutral is often misinterpreted as being batshit insane.
- The Druids of Iron Kingdoms believe if chaos or order gets too powerful, the god of the other side will destroy the material world to stop the other from drawing power for their endless battle. Currently they are spreading chaos because the rule of civilisation and law has become too strong.
- In Mortal Kombat there are the realms of Orderrealm and Chaosrealm. Orderrealm's characters consist of the Knight Templar Hotaru who aided the Big Bad of Mortal Kombat: Deception, Onaga. Darius, a man rebelling against Orderrealm's establishment who set up the deaths of Dairou's family to get turn him against the Seidan Guard. And Dairou himself, a Hired Gun who is said to take jobs no matter how inhumane they are. From Chaosrealm there is Havik, who managed to help get Kabal back into the Black Dragon after he tried to reform, goes and aids Shao Kahn in his Deception ending, and is part of the Forces of Darkness in Armageddon. To say nothing of the Elder Gods, who have shown their share of questionable behavior, such as reviving Scorpion's clan as undead beings after fighting against Onaga in Deception.
- Shin Megami Tensei:
- The game has lawful vs chaotic alignments. The lawful alignment represents God, order, and security, and the chaotic alignment represents Lucifer, freedom, and war. At their extremes lawful characters want an elitist dictatorship ruled by God, with the few judged worthy of being alive under its rule doing nothing but worshiping Him for eternity. Extreme chaotic characters want a world of anarchy, unchecked vice, and endless war where strength is all that matters. You can also essentially say "screw everyone" and chose the Neutral alignment.
- Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey is perhaps this trope at its worst in the series, due to both factions wanting to achieve their goals by either forcing out any rebellious thought from humanity or reducing humans to their primal instincts via a Hate Plague. It's telling that the Updated Re-release added three more endings that tone things down.
- Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse ups the ante on this trope, to the point where choosing to go Law or Chaos results in No Final Boss for You and early bad endings. Though in an interesting play on this, the Neutral-aligned villain Krishna points out neither are dangerous in themselves but YHVH forcing order to be angelic and chaos to be demonic causes people to suffer.
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion — Shivering Isles has Sheogorath, Daedric Prince of Madness, and Jyggalag, Daedric Prince of Order. Sheogorath is as likely to treat you to a sumptuous banquet as he is to kill you in amusing ways For the Lulz, while Jyggalag's idea of order is to turn the Shivering Isles into a lifeless wasteland where nothing ever does anything. The trick is, they're the same guy: the other daedric princes thought Jyggalag was too powerful and cursed him into spending most of his time as Sheogorath. He changes back once every few centuries and depopulates the Shivering Isles, then turns back into Sheogorath and rebuilds the place. But then the hero of Cyrodil frees Jyggalag from the cycle and becomes the new Sheogorath.
- In the Soul Series, the Soul Edge is the central antagonist throughout the vast majority of the series. To combat its wanton murder, destruction and madness, many characters seek or wield its polar opposite, the Soul Calibur. However, in Soul Calibur IV, it's revealed that Calibur is just as bad, in its own way. While the Edge seeks destruction, death, and ever-lasting torment, the Calibur wants stability, peace, and ever-lasting calm... by freezing the entire world over so that nothing can move. And the fifth game shows that it's not above manipulation or possession of its host to get its way, either.
- Throughout the Metal Gear series, Solid Snake and his allies are constantly caught between two sides who represent these two extremes. On one side, terrorists such as Big Boss and Liquid Snake want to throw the world into never-ending war, believing that fighting to survive is the only way to be free. On the other side, Government Conspiracies such as the Philosophers and the Patriots want to destroy free will to maintain their power over world order.
- Dominic Deegan: In the "Storm of Souls" storyline when a cult devoted to chaos threatened to consume the world it initially seemed that Dominic was the "Champion of Order" to counter their "Champion of Chaos". But later it was shown that the founder of the cult was once the Champion of Order as a brutal tyrant who sacrificed dozens of people to create a golem from their souls. Rather Dominic is the Champion of Balance, like Acibek the gestalt golem who turned against his creator.
- In the concluded webcomic Indefensible Positions the avatars of order and chaos are wizards who took on the personas of Generals Grant and Lee respectively. When Grant is first introduced he is preparing a ritual involving Human Sacrifice of sexual deviants in an attempt to reduce perversion, and Lee thinks 9/11 was a good thing.
- In The 10 Doctors, the Tenth Doctor is given the choice of either siding with the White Guardian in establishing complete order or with the Black Guardian in establishing complete chaos. As both choices would lead to the end of the Universe as we know it, he, with a little help from his previous self, advocates a balance between order and chaos.
- The primary antagonists of Reboot, Megabyte and Hexadecimal, represent order (possibly tyranny) and chaos (possibly anarchy), respectively.
- Later on in the series, there is Daemon, who despite being Affably Evil, aspires to control the net. She later does battle with Hexadecimal, who having gone through a Heel–Face Turn, is fighting on the side of Mainframe.
- The contrast between order and chaos impacts the heroic side, too. Dot is more methodical and tries to solve problems through planning, while Bob is more impulsive and tends to lean towards the Indy Ploy.
- Exemplified in the second half of Legend of Korra by the last two primary antagonists. Zaheer is an anarchist whose powers are tied to spiritual freedom. He wanted to free the people from (what he considered to be) tyrants, believing that chaos was the natural state of the world. Kuvira is a dictator who's hellbent on bringing a continent under her heel. She wanted to protect people who were suffering in the absence of a strong government, believing that any disruption to uniformity had to be crushed. Ironically, Kuvira helped Korra bring down Zaheer in Book 3 and Zaheer helped Korra bring down Kuvira in Book 4. The title of the final book, as well as a major theme of the series overall, is "Balance", indicating going to either extreme is wrong.