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Good Feels Good

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And it comes with free snacks!

"When my journey began, I wanted only bloodshed, but along the way, when people saw me, they assumed I was a Jedi. And they needed my help. And... I gave it. I gave myself. It was right. It felt good. It was the only good thing I'd felt in so long."

As self-evident as it sounds, Good Feels Good. The Hero says Keep the Reward because they have already received their reward; the knowledge that they have done good. Even if no one will know and no one will thank them, they will know and that's enough. This trait is common in the Ideal Hero, The Cape, and other archetypes.

Where the interesting part comes in is that bad guys are quick to find out not only that Evil Feels Good when using The Dark Side, but doing good deeds in accordance with the God of Good can be just as if not more pleasurable, albeit in different ways.

The Mole may end up Becoming the Mask from the cheering crowds, the feeling inside that they are loved, and have made one or more others safe (and not having to worry about jail time!). Good can be headier than any evil banquet or wine, and won't leave a horrible aftertaste. The genuine love and admiration from the masses can seem a far more potent rush than what they once felt from their screams of panic and pleas of mercy. The Power of Friendship itself can make a normally evil aligned character question or outright change their allegiances and alignment when they know their boss cares less for them than their black cape, while their new friends will risk life and limb for them. Usually results in a Heel–Face Turn, and if part of an evil team, a falling out / civil war. Such defection may come easier if the character in question is a Token Good Teammate.

May lead to a Redemption Demotion because Good Is Dumb, and while good feels good, its selling point is not predicated on giving out power. No less often, the bad guy will "resist" the temptation of good, or find they can't quit the Psycho Serum, much to their own dismay. They might also lose their Friend in the Black Market, otherwise they risk either slipping into old habits or having something get taken out of context, among other issues.

May also lead to a Redemption Promotion because Good Is Not Dumb; Power of Trust facilitates teamwork and The Power of Friendship aids motivation. Turning good may also allow them to use Holy Hand Grenades or some other such 'good' abilities that were inaccessible when they were evil. They might also gain a Friend on the Force since now they're working on the same team (but maybe not right away).

It can be the litmus test for a video game's writing in particular. If the "good guys" inspire Video Game Cruelty Potential, something has Gone Horribly Wrong.

See Pet the Dog, for when a villain does something nice and does seem to like doing it, but doesn't (usually) make a habit out of it.

Compare Smiting Evil Feels Good, For Happiness, Rightly Self-Righteous, and Sexual Karma. See also Power of Trust and Rousseau Was Right. Contrast Being Good Sucks, Good Is Boring, Good Hurts Evil, and No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. See also You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good!.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Team Rocket trio from Pokémon: The Series take pretty much every chance they can get to help save the world (mostly in the movies).
  • Sailor Moon also employs this trope in just about every Defeat Means Friendship situation she runs into.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Dragon Ball Super: Defied when Frieza is stuck in an Enemy Mine with Goku. During that time Goku attempts to convince Frieza to pull off this trope. However, Frieza just loves being a bastard too much, and mockingly declares going back to his evil ways at the end.
    • Played straight in Dragon Ball Z with Majin Buu, or at least the form presented to the audience, Fat Buu. Fat Buu was innocent and childlike, but having spent his life under Babidi's control meant that he didn't know how to be anything other than a feared monster. When he uses his Healing Hands on a blind boy and later a puppy he expects them to run away as soon as they can, but when they are instead grateful to him, he's obviously happily surprised. It's seeing Buu's interaction with the dog (who is later named Bee) that convinces Mr. Satan that this trope applies and that Buu can be talked down.
  • Generally one of the main themes of the series Trigun, the only happy people are the good guys. This is best exemplified by Livio who is much happier protecting people than he was when he was a servant of the Eye of Micheal.
  • Digimon Tamers: Impmon realizes this after his Redemption Promotion. Patching things up with his tamers and joining the fight against the D-Reaper made him happier than he'd been all season.
  • In Fate/Zero, Kiritsugu Emiya spent his entire life being a "hero" who Shot the Dog repeatedly and earned no real satisfaction from it. In the end, he found fulfillment and peace simply by rescuing and raising a little boy, Shirou, who was one of the only survivors of the cataclysmic fallout of Angra Mainyu's release during the fourth Grail War. In a way, Shirou saved Kiritsugu too. It's deconstructed with Shirou though. He can only feel happy when he's helping others, leading him to obsessively try to save or help everyone and not caring about his own well being at all compared to others he is helping.
  • Attack on Titan plays with this in many ways. Krista reaps the benefits of being the kindest person around. She's loved by everyone; her team calls her a "goddess" and a couple of them want to marry her. However, she's selfless to the point it approaches a Deconstruction. Ymir criticizes her dangerous behavior for the sake of being loved by others, but after saving Bertolt agrees that it isn't so bad to "play goddess" sometimes. Reiner is a firm believer in this theory, and as a result is deeply admired by the others as a reliable and heroic "big brother". However, his childhood friend Bertolt implies he's actually a Heroic Wannabe prone to putting himself in danger. He, along with fellow moles Annie and Bertolt, end up becoming close to their human comrades and realize that Being Evil Sucks.
  • An odd heroic example in HappinessCharge Pretty Cure!: When Iona/Cure Fortune's repowered, she comes to realize that these powers don't run on hate or anger, but love and caring, and she enjoys that feeling.
  • In Endride, Louise becomes the mask over time, feeding off the positive energy among the Ignauts and moved by the possibility that as a member, they could right the wrongs that happened to their family, leading to a Heel–Face Turn.
  • The main character of Inuyashiki, Ichiro Inuyashiki, was turned into a robot after his physical body was destroyed. In contrast to Hiro Shishigami, who had the same thing happen to him and used the abilities gained from it to become a serial killer, Inuyashiki uses the gifts of his robotic body to help others because the joy he finds in doing so makes him feel human.
  • MARRIAGETOXIN: What becomes Gero's M.O after he partners up with Kinosaki, moving away from his traditional assassin work into being more of a hero-for-hire on the latter's advice, on the logic that it will help attract women. As it turns out, this approach helps Gero realise that the world is filled with many more kinds of people than the scumbags he's used to dealing with, resulting in a much more fulfilling career path.
  • In The Seven Deadly Sins, Meliodas murdered alongside the other Commandments, and he enjoyed it, but he didn't have any deeper reason to fight. For this reason, he was confused by Zeldris, whose devotion to Gelda gave meaning to his life and growth. When Meliodas met Elizabeth he finally understood that feeling, and switched sides not long after.

    Comic Books 
  • The original run of the Thunderbolts!, who were a team of villains masquerading as heroes in the hero-starved post-Onslaught Marvel Universe. Baron Zemo's leading the whole team into gaining the trust of the public before really breaking their will... but most of the Thunderbolts really like being treated like heroes.
    MACH-1/The Beetle: This hero thing... well, I'm starting to think it's contagious.
  • In a comics arc in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, after ex-mercenary Nyl takes a dead Jedi's lightsaber and goes in pursuit of the Dark Jedi who killed his son, he is repeatedly mistaken for a Jedi by the people of various worlds. He is drawn into helping them, even at the cost of time he could have spent in pursuit, and is a textbook example, he finds that he likes it. "Lycan said to me, Men are not driven by altruism. I'll prove him wrong." In a later comic, though, he's bitter and isolationist again, because he tried to do good and be good and failed because that's edgier.
  • One Star Wars: Droids tie-in comic features a rare Hutt who finds the life of a (relatively) Honest Corporate Executive to be oddly satisfying.
    Protocol Droid: Master Boonda ended his criminal ties several years ago. He finds his new ethics ... amusing.
  • In Kurt Busiek's The Wizards Tale, the hereditary but inept evil wizard chooses to cast a banish-evil spell from the Tome of Eldritch Lore. With the evil gone, he finds himself casting good magic and liking it very much.
  • Superman:
    • In Pre-Crisis comics, Lex Luthor uncharacteristically does a good deed that saves an alien civilization. The people are so grateful that they rename their planet Lexor and hail him as a hero. Lex is startled by how good it feels. In the following years, he marries a Lexorian woman and at one point even tries to go straight and settle down there. Unfortunately, it can't last. He just can't leave his evil past behind him, and a fight with Superman accidentally leads to the destruction of the entire planet, for which Luthor blames Superman and comes to hate him far more than he ever had before.
    • While Superman has the With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility mantra going on, his background as a hard-working, honest Kansas farm-boy means he also simply loves helping people out. In All-Star Superman he says that his enhanced sense means he perceives the sheer beauty of everything and the value and importance of events of other people's lives to a degree that other people simply can't imagine, and as a result, he can't imagine using his powers do anything other than help. When Luthor is able to gain those powers himself, he's overwhelmed by it to where he breaks down into tears.
    • In Red Daughter of Krypton, Supergirl joins the Red Lantern Corps after a rage-induced breakdown. Although she initially feels elated that she can vent and channel her fury and grief by striking brutally people who deserves it, she eventually decides that being a rage-fueled anti-hero does not suit her, and she feels better when she shows compassion and kindness.
    • In Wrath of Gog, the previously mindless engineered killing machine Doomsday has developed intelligence and emotions. He decides to experiment with these feelings by rescuing a kitten from a tree and returning said kitten to its owner, a young boy. Doomsday discovers that this act fills him with positive feelings. He then decides to see if the reverse is true, and obliterates both the kid and his kitten, only to discover that this doesn't make him feel good... He eventually goes on to be a great hero even wearing Superman's symbol after Superman is captured by Gog.
  • An unusual example comes in the form of PJ Maybe in Judge Dredd. He started out as a gleeful serial killer and identity thief, and at the end of the story, managed to become the mayor of Mega-City One. In order to keep up the farce, he had to do quite a lot of good work — and discovered he enjoyed it immensely, so much so that he now works to improve people's lives because he wants to. That said, he still loves to kill people, only now he tends to focus on the worst criminals.
  • Batman:
    • Damian Wayne started out as a homicidal Jerkass thanks to being raised by the League of Assassins and spoiled rotten since birth. He later finds fighting the good fight as Robin to be far more fulfilling than being the heir of a new world order. When push comes to shove, he ultimately chooses the ideals of the Batman family over those of Ra's Al Ghul. He's still kind of a jerk though.
    • Batman himself started his career because saving other people from having to go through what he went through as a child made him feel better about his personal tragedy.
  • In the final act of Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire, the Beemahs — bio-engineered living weapons who are, essentially, energy-weapons with legs — are shown trust for the first time, by the titular Buck Godot. All of their past associates treated them like wild dogs, using them against enemies but always keeping them in check with some weapon or threat. They find that they LIKE being trusted and respected, and respond by being as good as their word — and then some.
  • In The Thing series, Nighthawk and Constrictor are among many trapped in Arcadia's Amusement Park of Doom. Nighthawk suggests that he and Constrictor, instead of fighting each other, work together to free the rest of Arcadia's prisoners. Constrictor is less open to the idea, since he's, y'know, a villain, but Nighthawk points out that he himself used to be a villain too.
    Constrictor: I don't get it, Richmond. Why'd you switch over? Why risk your neck being a good guy?
    Nighthawk: Well, I could give you a song-and-dance about doing the right thing. But in all honesty... I do it because it's fun!
  • Spider-Man:
    • Spider-Man always lives by the creed that "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility". In one story someone asked him "What comes with great responsibility?" All Peter had to do was point to the rest of the city.
    • A specific Spider-Man example occurs in the finale of The Assassin Nation Plot. While Spidey's actions (which result in him stopping a terrorist plot aimed at destroying the National Archives, framing Symkaria for it, and possibly starting a war) do earn him a small compensation from the Symkarian embassy, his true reward is acknowledgement and gratitude from Silver Sable, Captain America, and a high ranking general; as the caption on the last panel of the story says, "sometimes... that's enough."
  • In Mega Man (Archie Comics), Dr. Wily is supposedly rehabilitated after Ra Moon's attack, but is actually scheming behind Dr. Light's back, and is planning on stealing Light's new robot Gamma after they finish work on it. However, right before the plan is about to go into effect, he hesitates and reflects that the time spent working with his former partner to improve the world felt good. Unfortunately, his jealousy gets the better of him again, and his Robot Masters set his plan into motion.
  • In Avengers #0, Deadpool, under orders from Old Man Steve Rogers, goes on a mission to get a canister of Terrigen Mists with the caveat of not killing anyone. As he performs this superbly, Deadpool notes that Steve is the only man for whom he'd do missions for free and, honestly, he loves being able to do this. Even if it would ruin his credibility if it got out.
  • Megatron, of all people comes to this conclusion in The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye. He originally joined the crew of the Lost Light as part of a clever little legal scheme to get out of guaranteed public execution, only to find that he was happier teaching classes on the Knights of Cybertron and rescuing individual Autobots than he'd ever been as a world-conquering warlord with the blood of billions on his hands.
  • In The Transformers: Combiner Wars, Waspinator and Sparkstalker both get roped into offering aid to Caminus after the colony was rediscovered and damaged by Menasor's rampage. Both were shocked by how nicely the Camians treated them and eventually made permanent Heel Face Turns as a result.
  • All-New Ultimates: Bombshell seems really enthusiastic about fighting bad guys. The reason she even joined Spider-Woman's team was to do good for once in her life.
  • Green Lantern: The Indigo Tribe is entirely composed of really bad guys under Heel–Face Brainwashing. But one member, their leader Iroque/Indigo 1, developed true compassion when the brainwashing was temporarily undone, being very repentant of her past crimes.
  • Level Up: After leaving med school, Dennis realizes that he felt good when he was saving lives as a trainee gastroenterologist. Even though he enjoys playing video games as a career, he doesn't feel fulfilled or like he's making a difference the way he did as a doctor.
  • Astro City: A major reason why G-Dog fights crime is because performing heroic acts gives him an overwhelming sense of joy and pride, thanks to the dog half of his nature.

    Fan Works 
  • Adaptation, a Teen Titans (2003) fanfic . The Teen Tyrants switch bodies with the Teen Titans, pretending to be them to the general public. Ravager finds pretending to be a superhero surprisingly pleasant but ultimately remains committed to being a villain upon his team's return to their own bodies.
  • Nobledark Imperium: When Asdrubael married Lady Malys and Commorragh threw in its lot with Chaos, many of low-ranking Dark Eldar and quite a lot of the alien pirates and mercenaries living in the city fled while they still could and tried to find new boltholes to hide in. One of the groups was a band of Sslyth pirates who ended up in Cherys, a system consisting of gas giants orbited by several Earth-sized moons that had been scouted by the Imperium for settlement and had an early space station built but had to be abanonded for 500 years after being isolated by Warp storms. The Sslyth decided that this seemed like an excellent new base of operations and set up shop, and had the good fortune of being mistaken for legitimate settlers by the first Imperial patrol to head their way, since there are a few old Sslyth enclaves in the Imperium. The Sslyth still deal in black market, weapon smuggling and back alley deals, but more and more find that having steady jobs and nobody shooting at them is actually really nice, and they actually make more money seeling processed resources through legitimate channels than using them to make ships and guns, and despite insisting that they're still pirates they've been finding to their increasing discomfort that they're falling more and more into the role of legitimate administrators and liking it enough that they're not sure that they'd want to go back to their old ways if the chance presented itself.
  • Teenage Jinchuriki Shinobi: Kin is much happier as a member of Team 7 in Konoha than she was as an agent of Orochimaru.
  • A Triangle in the Stars: Bill experiences this sometimes, particularly when he makes Steven dinner in Chapter Eleven. It doesn't last, and he doesn't understand. However, along a different kinda vein, in Chapter Thirty-Two, he comes to realize that hugs release a much higher euphoria than pain ever did. Even better, it lasts longer!
  • The Transformers: Prime fanfic "Transformers Prime: Time War". Knock Out, initially attempts to do good only so he'll be accepted by the Autobots. But when Smokescreen is about to be killed protecting him he suddenly realizes that risking his own life for someone else isn't so undesirable, and nearly gets killed trying to protect Smokescreen from Megatron.
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, ProtoMan discovers this when he cares for Nomad.
  • In Friendship Goes Both Ways, Trixie uses a magic item to charm the Mane 6 and the rest of Ponyville into believing that she's their friend, hoping to take advantage of them. It's not long before she starts treating them with friendliness in return, and feels ashamed of herself for tricking them. It turns out that the magic item never did what she thought it did, and the whole thing was engineered by Twilight Sparkle to see if this trope held true and if Trixie could be a nice pony if given a chance. She was proven right.
  • In A Teacher's Glory Anko is portrayed as realizing this to get out of her Broken Bird Blood Knight personality. She realizes she enjoys having kids look up to her as a trusted authority figure, and to keep her edge and respect, she cuts her alcohol intake, drops some weight, tightens her own training, and becomes more friendly and approachable.
  • Weiss Reacts: Velvet is actually a variation of this. She continues participating in pranks and antics not because she still has an interest in Weiss, but because she genuinely enjoys everyone watching her being happy.
  • In Black Flames Dance in the Wind: Rise of Naruto, Naruto gradually earns the respect of others from his work as a ninja (such as being pivotal in saving the village during an attack) and comes to find he enjoys being respected more than being feared. Word of God says an outside force will bring it to a grinding halt.
  • In Marionettes, Lightning Dust remarks on this when she fights side by side with Rainbow Dash to defeat Gear Shift.
  • Cinder Fall eventually comes to this realization in The RWBY Loops. Interestingly, she also realizes that Evil Feels Good. The obvious conflict between the two facts feeds pretty directly into her growing insanity.
  • Frieza's Heel–Face Turn in Frieza: A Simple Act of Mercy truly starts when he comes to realizes that being admired feels better than being feared.
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, resident Knight of Cerebus Belladonna Tyrian discovers that it feels nice to help people after she and her girlfriends team up with Ash's female companions to rescue him from Sabrina. They all seem to agree at least to an extent that perhaps they should try it more often, and not just with people they care about.
  • RWBY: Epic of Remnant: Angra Mainyu remembers helping Bazett and Caren during Fate/hollow ataraxia. He admits helping them and helping Gudako makes him happy.
  • Linked in Life and Love: When Raven returned to her Bandit Clan, took it over, and started reformatting it into a respectable mercenary company, she had a lot of problems with people who preferred the old ways. She mentioned clan members started coming around when they realized people were actually happy when they showed up, rather than terrified.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: The sequel, Picking Up the Pieces, introduces Night Blade's oldest sister Hidden Dagger. In chapter 21, when she carries out some negotiations with another businesspony to arrange a productive outcome for them that also helps the changelings as a whole, she mentioned that it was one of "most enjoyable rounds of business talk I have ever had".

    Film — Animated 
  • This is what sets the plot of The Bad Guys (2022) in motion. After Mr. Wolf helps a little old lady and she thanks him instead of being scared of him, he starts to wonder what his life would be like if the world actually liked the Bad Guys instead of being scared of them. It takes some work, but eventually the Bad Guys become good guys.
  • Despicable Me: Gru's Heel–Face Turn begins when he experiences this at the amusement park. After a Jerkass target shooting booth attendant rips off little Agnes, who hits the target but fails to knock it over, Gru (whom the Jerkass also insults, before learning he'd been Mugging the Monster) growls "My turn!", whips an absolutely freaking ginormous disintegrator pistol out of his Hyperspace Arsenal and not only destroys the target, but also the rest of the booth and most of the Jerkass attendant's hair, thus winning the prize for Agnes. ("Knocked O-VER!") The look on Gru's face as the girls react by showing true affection for him for the very first time is wonderful. Even Margo, the most skeptical one, pays tribute to his awesome moment When they arrive back home after a Gilligan Cut, Gru is laughing along with the girls and his Heel–Face Turn is complete.
  • In Klaus (2019), after Jesper gives a mean little brat coal instead of a present and comes up with the Naughty List lie, the other children start to do good deeds around town to prove to Klaus that they aren't naughty. This snowballs into the children doing good deeds because they want to. This in turn inspires their parents' goodwill.
    Klaus: A truly selfless act always sparks another.
  • Megamind: Although Megamind is a villain throughout much of his film, he's really only doing it because it's come to be expected of him and he's more of a Punch-Clock Villain. By the end of the film, his relationship with Roxanne Ritchie has helped him to see that it does feel a lot better to be good and he revels in the glow of having saved and become the protector of Metro City, even as everyone dances to Michael Jackson's "Bad".

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Schindler's List, Schindler tries to pull this on Amon Goeth. Goeth gives it a shot and quickly decides that evil feels better. This trope is the main reason for Schindler's own Heel–Face Turn though. Albeit, calling Oskar Schindler "good" is a stretch. But, as this is Nazi Germany, even showing the smallest amount of basic humanity is enough to earn you undying gratitude.
  • The titular heroine in Amélie starts out as a lonely introvert who, after finding a cigar box of childhood treasures, locates their previous owner and gives the box back to him. She enjoys the feeling of helping someone else so much that she starts helping other people in similar ways.
  • Ant-Man has the reformed thief turned hero needing to recruit some other thieves to help with the mission, leading to this exchange near the climax:
    Luis: We're the good guys right?
    Scott: Yeah, we're the good guys.
    Luis: Feels kinda, kinda weird, y'know.
    Scott: Yeah. But we're not done yet...
  • Justice League (2017): Batman gives The Flash a stoic pep talk when he's afraid he's not up for the fight they're about to get into, suggesting that he just save one single person:
    Batman: Don't talk, don't fight, get in, get one out.
    Flash: And then what?
    Batman: You'll know.
  • Superman: The Movie: Kal-El clearly feels this way after his first night out as Superman, and can't believe that his father's Virtual Ghost could have really anticipated that. Jor-El's gentle, wry response makes it equally clear that yes, he did.
  • Thor: Ragnarok: By coming to aid Thor and protect the Asgardians, Loki, the former Big Bad of Thor and The Avengers (2012), finally earns by authentic means the love and respect that he had always yearned for. In the denouement and The Stinger, he is at his most joyful in the films. It doesn't last.
  • Pretty much the most heartwarming moment in Liar Liar is when Fletcher finally realizes life feels a lot better when he's honest and caring to others, especially his son, rather than being a lying self-centered schmuck. Cue him running down the street screaming that he loves his son and hurling every cent he has on him at the same poor hobo he sounded off to earlier.
    "You know, this truth stuff is pretty cool!"

  • In one Russian children's story, the main hero fights a clique of bullies led by an evil sorceress (yep). After one of the "villains" fails an operation, his mistress condemns him to a terrible punishment: within a day he must commit... THREE GOOD DEEDS. Naturally, his cronies are dumbfounded by such severity and the delinquent himself can barely brace himself to serve his term. But after the first deed, he suddenly realizes that doing good is not painful but pleasant, goes on a do-good spree, and eventually defects from his gang.
  • In one of the Dragonlance stories, Palin Majere, nephew of Raistlin, wonders why he should become one of the "white robes", the good wizards. And why he just shouldn't choose whatever order makes him feel good. After he does a good deed, the head of the White Order mentions that he found that doing good does help himself.
    • Raistlin himself is some sort of subversion of this trope since he saves people from threats and oppression several times but remains a very evil wizard. He says he just likes the idea of people owing him more than they can ever repay. It's also a case of very specific empathy; having endured suspicion and hatred for all his life, he is always a friend to the downtrodden and abused, but despises the happy and content.
  • An aging, retired black-market weapons dealer in Dean Koontz's second Frankenstein novel finds this happening to him because his four hired servants are devout Christians who know exactly what kind of man he used to be, and rather than hate or fear him, they dote on and care for him with love and respect. Now he sincerely donates to charities and orphanages and considers the moral consequences of his actions.
    "It's amazing. They've all been so nice to me for no reason, and after a while I sort of wanted to be nice to them."
    "How insidious."
    "It is. It really is."
  • The Great Divorce: People in Heaven are vibrant and happy, while denizens of Hell are bored, full of themselves, and chase after trivial things (like attempts of one of them to smuggle one of Heaven's apples back to Hell).
  • Happens occasionally in the Heralds of Valdemar series; When Skif, a thief, decides he'll be a good guy rather than returning to his thieving ways after being chosen as a Herald. Why? Because having a companion is just that awesome.
  • This is what happens to pretty much the entire D'Haran army in the Sword of Truth series once Richard takes over. Several times it's mentioned that the soldiers feel good to be fighting for a good cause as opposed to conquest (though at first, a few are mentioned as missing the gains of looting and pillaging). As General Tiramac puts it, "it just feels better to have a wizard here who's more intent on putting the guts back to a man rather than have them taken away".
  • This was Socrates'/Plato's reasoning in The Republic for why we should behave morally — a truly good person has an ordered and balanced soul and is therefore better off no matter what the external circumstances. Aristotle put a few not-so-subtle Take Thats in Nichomachean Ethics against the idea that a good person impaled on a spike is happier than a bad one surrounded by wine, women and song.
  • The following dialogue, attributed to Confucius:
    "What is love?" one of his followers asked him.
    "To love mankind, that is love," he replied.
    "But what is it?"
    "To hold dear the effort more than the prize may be called love. The joy of doing something not for the prize one would get in the end, but for the joy itself, that may be called love. To do good not because you are going to be rewarded for it in this life or in a life to come, but to do good because you enjoy doing good, that is to love good. Love is its own reward. Love makes all things possible. Love offers peace. When love is at stake, my children, yield not to an army."
    He thought for a while, then added:
    "A heart set on love can do no wrong!"
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Lara, The Mole in the X-Wing Series, finds this and The Power of Friendship surrounded by the pilots of Wraith Squadron and very quickly starts Becoming the Mask.
      One thing Lara understood was the expressions turned on her. They were the eyes of a group to whom she belonged. Not since her parents' loss had she seen that expression.
    • A reversal—Evil Feels Terrible, if you will—appears in the novel Death Star. The gunner who fired the superlaser that destroyed Alderaan, who had always wanted to fire the biggest gun, finds that following orders and actually getting what he'd wished for led to misery beyond his wildest dreams, a personal Moral Event Horizon. Unlike a lot of other doers of evil deeds, he can't justify it, make it feel like less of a crime or blame someone else, and is unable to sleep. When the Death Star is in range of Yavin 4, he stalls desperatelynote , hoping that something will happen and he won't have to pull that trigger again. He gets that wish, poor bastard.
    • In Star Wars: Allegiance, the five stormtroopers of the Hand of Judgment, on the run after their leader refused to kill unarmed civilians and then killed an officer in self-defense, find themselves still trying to follow the oath they swore to protect citizens of the Empire. They end up doing things like saving farmers from swoop gangs, taking out a corrupt security chief to get previous security people back in place, getting a man preparing to violently secede arrested, and very reluctantly helping Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa, although it probably helps that they think those three are "normal" Rebels. At the end of the novel, Mara Jade saves them and tells them to keep their heads down, but when she leaves, they don't see how they can.
      LaRone: We swore an oath to defend the people of the Empire. There are a lot of other dangers out there they need defending against.
      Brightwater: Actually, I was kind of hoping you'd say that. For all the bumps and bruises, this hero stuff definitely helps you sleep better at night.
    • The Force, in general, is supposed to feel like this. A description can be found in I, Jedi:
      Streen: It feels like ten kilos of life in a five-kilo box. I can only feel a trickle now, like dust motes floating in a sunbeam, one by one, just moving through me, but it's just so right there's no describing it. It tickles a bit, feels like a first kiss, or the jolt you feel when the flux in sabacc just makes your hand better than what you were already betting.
    A few pages on, Corran, who'd asked Streen about it, opens himself fully to the Force for the first time.
    It filled me up in an instant and I imagined it leaking from my eyes, nose and mouth. I wanted to shout and dance with joy because it was everything Streen had described. It was what I felt when Mirax first said she loved me. It was the scent of the perfume my mother wore, and the warm laugh my father used to have when he was proud of me. It was the hearty slap on the back from Wedge after a mission and even a touch of Whistler's triumphant serenades. It was everything that was good and right and positive and alive; and it was waiting for me to bend it to my will.
  • Moist von Lipwig in the Discworld books, specifically the end of Going Postal. Well, sort of: he's been running on adrenaline and dancing on the edge of collapse and loving the hell out of it for so long that he can't go back to being a simple confidence trickster; it would just be comparatively unexciting.
    • Played with in the sequel, Making Money. Moist's job has become boring and his mood has deteriorated to the point where he is breaking into his own building because he can, and even carrying around a blackjack despite the fact that he loathes weapons. He starts acting heroically again after being tricked and coerced into a new job as the head of a bank. Seems that Moist would rather be a bad guy with an interesting life than a good guy with a boring one, but being a good guy with an interesting life is even better.
    • Tiffany invokes this in The Shepherd's Crown in an effort to reform Nightshade, the Elven Queen. At the same time, she also explains the reasons behind the feeling: humans are more likely to survive if they help each other, so someone who gets good feelings from being kind has an evolutionary advantage.
  • In The Stand, Harold is The Resenter, and decides to help out the good citizens of Boulder just so that they won't suspect he's The Mole. While doing so, he discovers that the good guys genuinely appreciate his help, and wonders if maybe he should just try Becoming the Mask. The usual Heel–Face Turn, however, is subverted when the Dark Side offers him really mildly kinky sex.
  • After his Heel–Face Turn, Skeeter Jackson of Time Scout enjoys trying to be good. He really enjoys it when he gets to use his old skills to do good deeds.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire, despite being a Crapsack World extraordinaire, has an unexpected instance of this in Jaime Lannister. He discovers, much to his own surprise, that he quite likes the feeling he gets from enforcing justice, protecting the helpless, keeping his word and preventing massive bloodshed. Inevitably, he is forced to Kick the Dog again before long, but (assuming he survives much longer) things are actually looking very hopeful for his further moral development.
  • In Les Liaisons Dangereuses Valmont saves a local family from eviction in order to impress a pious woman he's trying to seduce. He finds the family's gratitude extremely pleasant. Valmont being Valmont however, he therefore concludes that since charity is a lot more fun than he expected, people who engage in it aren't self-denying at all, and therefore far less virtuous than he'd always supposed.
  • In Spider Robinson's short story "Satan's Children", an aging hippie chemist who was attempting to create safe, non-addictive recreational drugs, discovered a formula he called TWT for "The Whole Truth". From his initial test group, he discovered that TWT gave its users a desire to tell the unvarnished truth to others. After the experiment, most of his test subjects came back for a second hit, which he refused to give them. At first, the chemist was afraid that TWT was addictive on the first hit, but he later realized that it was the truth that was addictive. It felt good to unburden, to shed all that karmic baggage. Even once the influence of TWT wore off, most of his test subjects were able to dedicate themselves to living honestly, and never looked back.
  • The Burroughs story "A Junky's Christmas". On Christmas, a Junky in the throes of withdrawal scours the street for his next hit. After he finally scores he hears screaming in the next hotel room. When he goes in he finds a man suffering from kidney stones and selflessly administers heroin to him. Although he's out of heroin for himself he doesn't, as one would expect, feel the pains of withdrawal—rather he feels a great surge of pleasure as if from heroin and attains "the immaculate fix".
  • Crime and Punishment: Svidrigaïlov gives this a unique twist. An immoral pursuer of sensual enjoyment, Svidrigaïlov performs acts of charity not because he is good, but because he gets a sensual thrill out of doing good deeds. He's just as capable of getting his thrills from evil deeds, however.
  • Renegades: As Nova infiltrates the Renegades to spy on them, she realizes that she enjoys helping people, something both she and her fellow Anarchist Ingrid are worried about.
  • DFZ: In the end, Nik admits that while he's mad at Opal in the short term for convincing him to give up sixty percent of seven million, he'll feel better in the long term. And that's certainly better than when he normally sells out, where he feels great at first for getting a bunch of money, but soon feels terrible.
  • Chance And Choices Adventures:
    • The usual reaction of people who spend time around the Williams family is to be quickly swept up in their positive attitude. In particular Ben, a member of the Butterfield Gang in the second book while being taken to Little Rock where he will surely be executed, chooses to repent and spends the trip listening to Bible stories, fishing, and talking with the others. He specifically mentions it's the best he's felt since he was a kid.
    • Also subverted from time to time. Notably, with fellow Butterfield Gang member Roy Butterfield, who becomes even more cold-hearted over the course of the second book, specifically because he sees how happy good people are and he hates it.
  • In Shadow of the Conqueror, Daylen reflects on this after giving Blackheart's skyship and money to Sain, describing the act of redeeming another life from evil as the noblest thing he's done in decades, and the first genuine joy he'd felt in just as long.
  • Wayside School: In the book Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom, the major jerk Kathy gets hypnotized into being nice. Eventually, it is undone, but she says she enjoyed being nice, so she'll continue it.
  • Not Even Bones: Nita initially feels this way after she finds the courage and compassion necessary to defy her mother and free the captive Fabricio. "She felt like someone had given her a particularly difficult test and she'd passed."

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the prison drama Oz, there's an episode where all of the inmates collect money to send inmate Bob Redabow's grandson to Disney Land before he dies of leukemia. Another inmate tries to talk Simon Adebisi, one of the most dangerous and vicious inmates in Oz, into robbing the old man of the money. He refuses, and says "'Cause sometimes it's good to be human."
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Faith's heel face turn immediately follows an event where she switches bodies with Buffy. In doing so she becomes Buffy (or rather, her idea of what Buffy is like. She adopts what she thinks of as Buffy's catchphrase: "Because it's wrong"). Notice how Buffy is in no way affected by being in Faith's body. Bear in mind that Faith knows what is going on before it happens, and wants to stay "in disguise" long enough to make good use of it. Hence her attempt to act like Buffy, complete with practice session. After that, it's Becoming the Mask.
    • Even a soulless vampire, Harmony, is very briefly affected by this when she tries to join up with Angel's team. Regrettably, she finds that vampire cultists are much better at accepting her for the vicious killer she is.
  • Leverage
    • The team originally stay together because they like working together and consider it more fun, going after bad guys because Nate insists they are the only people he would be willing to target. From the second episode when the team sees how grateful the injured veterans are when their rehab center is given the money that the team stole, they start to transition into this trope.
    • This trope is focused on in the season 2 premiere. After breaking up in the season 1 finale they all attempted to return to their previous criminal activities but none of them got any kind of fulfillment or enjoyment out of it. They were all very excited to be able to go back to helping people. Strictly speaking, they still are leading lives of crime. It's just that it's good-guy crime helping those who the law fails or cannot help because of circumstances.
  • In a NewsRadio episode, Dave and Bill are stuck in an airport in the Midwest. Bill begins mockingly acting as friendly as the locals but eventually starts to forget he was being sarcastic, and it starts to feel good. "Do you mean this is how you feel all the time?" he asks Dave. "Except for when I talk to you," Dave admits.
  • The Cylon Centurion (nicknamed "Cy" by Starbuck) in the one halfway-decent episode of Galactica 1980 came to this conclusion after becoming the Lieutenant's friend.
  • Gaius Baltar of Battlestar Galactica is just about the most selfish and narcissistic person there has been, though he has improved considerably from how he used to be even, and after undertaking a series of charitable acts mostly out of a desire to regain standing, discovers that it actually made him feel good to do good.
  • Possibly the entire point of My Name Is Earl, Earl starts doing good things for fairly selfish reasons (he found out about the concept of karma and thought that if he did good things then bad things would stop happening to him) but fairly quickly finds out that Good Feels Good and starts trying to do the right thing for its own sake.
  • Xena started out as The Atoner and then morphed into this. By the middle of the first season, she's talking about doing good like it's heroin.
  • Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: Karone, infamously (and formerly) known as Astronema, clearly feels much happier as a Power Ranger than as a villain. It probably helped that she was born good, but was kidnapped and then raised to be evil.
  • Power Rangers Wild Force: Near the end of the series, Toxica and Jindrax decide to betray Master Org since they realize he doesn't care about them and decide to help the Rangers rescue Princess Shayla. Then deciding to call it quits on the feud between them on the Rangers. Jindrax remarks on how it felt good to help someone, while Toxica tells him not to get used to it.
    • It is the reason why Heckyl stops waiting for the destruction of Earth and decides to help the Rangers fight it in Power Rangers Dino Charge.
  • As of the fifth volume finale of Heroes, a freshly-turned Sylar seems to have finally settled on this — subduing Eric Doyle and tying him up for the police really did feel better than going the extra mile and killing him.
  • In Kamen Rider Den-O, Momotaros originally wanted to cause havoc like all Imagin. Then he came to found out that being good meant he got to fight...a lot. Clearly, for a battle-hungry Imagin like him, this makes being good really fun. Of course, the fact that he turns out to be a Bruiser with a Soft Center who develops a genuine fondness and respect for the protagonist Ryotaro helps too.
    • In Kamen Rider Fourze, Shun Daimonji's turn from Jerk Jock to The Big Guy is completed when he helps the Kamen Rider Club fight off a monster. Gentaro asks him to join, saying that Kamen Riders protect people from the shadows and so they won't be getting any acclaim for their deeds; Shun responds "I can live with that."
    • In Kamen Rider Build, the title character Sento explains to his more selfish friend Ryuga that he saves people not because he expects to be rewarded or even praised for it (in fact, like Spider-Man he's a Hero with Bad Publicity), but because of the satisfaction he gets out of helping those in need.
    "It puts a smile on my face, you know. Helping people. Not that you can see with the mask on."
  • This is used by House to justify his indestructible misanthropy; because Good Feels Good, people only do good to feel better about themselves and not out of real moral convictions.
  • A similar logic applies in The Good Place, in which Good Feels Good is one of Tahani's main motivations (along with the associated fact that good looks good to others). She is condemned to the Bad Place as a result.
  • In the season 4 finale of Charmed, this is the reason why the main characters don't give up their powers when the Angel of Destiny offers them a normal life.
    Paige: We saved someone. It felt good. It felt... right.
    • This was part of the reason why Kyra the Seer wanted to abandon the Underworld and become human; the other part was because the Avatars intended to wipe out demons to create their World of Silence.
  • In one episode of the Korean Banjun Drama, a conman hired a single mother and her son to pretend to be his family, in order to fool a cop who had been chasing him for years into thinking that he has reformed. By the end of the episode, however, the conman does truly start to care for his "family" and chooses to put his past life behind him and become a good father and husband.
  • Person of Interest: Fusco complains that he was just getting used to being a good guy when Reese insists he go undercover with HR.
  • An example from the last episode of Tomica Hero Rescue Force shortly before they run out of power, Maare, Saan and Shica grab from the corridor and ask him to save Maen It's not, everyone's just under the effect of a Scarecrow-style Fear Gas. Just before they're completely drained the three of them realise that "Saving lives ... isn't so bad after all,"
    • It's revealed in the epilogue that the three of them join Rescue Force as repairmen and a Meido
  • In Beetleborgs, the heroes eventually managed to steal the Astral Axe from the villains, and summon Boron in order to use him against the titanic monster Repgillian. While it eventually took more than Boron to defeat it, once they did defeat it, Boron decided that he liked fighting for the side of Good better than what he was doing before.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Done darkly by the Fourth Doctor, who saves the world a lot and is usually very nice to people but apparently mostly because he thought being good was more fun than being evil. Having just been released from exile and being at the beck and call of the Time Lords, his primary personal motivation was to act with total freedom, have a great time, and get a ton of attention while doing it, and there was much agreement in the writer's room that if doing good things wasn't his idea of a good time, he'd have no reason to bother, and would have jumped headfirst into absolute darkness (which would have been played with in "The Five Doctors" had the actor agreed to be in it). In a sense, he was something of a goodness-hedonist.
    • Done much less ironically by the Eighth Doctor, a big-eyed Cloudcuckoolander who laughs and snogs his way around Earth, clearly having a lovely time being a genuinely nice person for a change. He gets a lot Darker and Edgier in the Expanded Universe, though retains this essential part of his nature - unlike the apparently harmless but very judgemental Fifth Doctor or the sweet but fundamentally selfish Fourth Doctor he really is just that nice a person, and he loves that about himself. This part of his personality is what causes his eventual death, as not everyone trusts him to be kind as much as he trusts everyone else to be kind.
  • On the first Thanksgiving episode of How I Met Your Mother, Ted and Robin find Barney at a soup kitchen, serving dinner to the homeless. Barney even states that the feeling of giving a hot, nutritious meal to someone who needs it feels so good it's like getting a "soul boner". Granted, he was doing court-ordered community service, but he was still doing it and was very good at it.
  • Discussed in the Friends episode "The One Where Phoebe Hates PBS". Joey insists that all good deeds are selfish because people only do them to feel better about themselves. Phoebe thinks it's too cynical and tries to prove him wrong. She donates a large amount to PBS (an organisation she hates) so that she feels bad about her good deed. However, she spoke with Joey who was a celebrity taking donators' calls on a TV fund-raiser, and Phoebe's contribution helped him to earn a spot in the broadcast which he really wanted. Phoebe is happy that she helped him, which ruins her plan.
  • In one episode of Taxi, Reverend Jim, having claimed a sizable inheritance from his father, revealed that he sometimes liked to give a thousand dollars to a deserving stranger, simply because he enjoyed the feeling of generosity. To prove his point, he gave each of the other cab drivers a thousand dollars each to give to someone whom they felt was deserving, ranging from family to total strangers. By the end of the episode, the other cabbies realized that Jim was right, and Good did indeed feel good.
  • Played with, but ultimately averted in The Flash (2014). Eobard Thawne, as Harrison Wells, admits that he has come to enjoy helping the Flash save the day, but it doesn't prevent him from going ahead with his plans.
  • Ultimately reconstructed in Lucifer (2016). In "St. Lucifer", Lucifer finds himself surprised to feel really good when he turns down a drunk and distraught Chloe, so he seeks to feel the same rush throughout the episode by doing good actions, and innocently belittles the victim's altruism by saying he only did it to feel good himself. However, none of his attempts succeed, as he's only doing them for his own self-interest. He does manage to feel that rush again at the end of the episode, when he genuinely does good by putting away the episode's murderer and donating to the victim's charity, thus learning that genuine good really does feel good. From here onwards, Lucifer tries to follow his own sense of right and wrong.
  • Deconstructed rather darkly in Jessica Jones Season 3. Making the world better feels good. Making the world permanently better feels incredible. At least, according to Erik Gerben.
    Erik: It's like the whole world just changed.
  • In Seinfeld, Jerry puts a spin on this:
    Jerry: That’s the true spirit of Christmas; people being helped by people other than me.
  • In the fourth season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Nathaniel realizes that constantly being mean has left him miserable and alone, and decides to start being nicer. He finds the experience surprisingly enjoyable.
    "Oh, my God. What is this feeling I'm having? Did I just do a good thing? I think I did. Wow! That feels great."
  • Arrow. Subverted when Oliver Queen shows Helena Bertinelli how his own vigilante justice as opposed to her Roaring Rampage of Revenge can feel good. She claims to agree, but what she actually likes is working with a man she thinks is a kindred spirit. On discovering they are Not So Similar, she rejects justice and embraces revenge.

  • This is a major theme in Pink Floyd's music, especially The Dark Side of the Moon, Animals, and The Wall, all of which describe what happens when the trope doesn't come into play. "Pigs on the Wing (Part 2)" flat-out says it:
    You know that I care what happens to you
    And I know that you care for me too
    Now I don't feel alone or the weight of the stone
    Now that I've found somewhere safe to bury my bone
    'Cause any fool knows, a dog needs a home
    A shelter from pigs on the wing.

  • Avenue Q has an entire song about this: The Money Song. Somewhat subverted in that the reason why the characters are doing good deeds is to get things for themselves. Princeton wants to start a Monster School (which he thinks is a stupid idea) so Kate will be happy enough to take him back, while Nicky wants to find Rod a boyfriend so he'll let him live with him again. As the chorus goes:
    When you help others
    You can't help helping yourself
    Every time you do good deeds
    You're also serving your own needs
    When you help others
    You're really helping yourself

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Parodied in one Sunday strip of Dilbert. Dilbert offhandedly mentions that he donated a few hundred dollars to charity. Dogbert gets fired up and mocks Dilbert's supposed altruism, claiming that he only did it to make himself feel better. Dilbert agrees, saying he feels pretty good. Dilbert then asks how much Dogbert donated, and Dogbert admits he donated a thousand dollars, which is why he's so torqued.
  • Subverted in Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin is about to hit Susie with a snowball, and Hobbes simply tells him that some philosophers say that true happiness comes from a life of virtue. Calvin tosses the snowball aside and decides to try it out. He then spends the rest of the day cleaning his room, doing his homework, making a card for Mom, shoveling the walk for Dad, setting the dinner table, and taking out the trash. He ultimately decides he's not satisfied, and goes out and hits Susie with a snowball anyway, and walks away with a big grin on his face declaring that one day, he'll write his own philosophy book.
    Hobbes: Virtue needs some cheaper thrills.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Slo Feng originally just fought for fame but eventually learned the value of being a hero in Kaiju Big Battel.

    Puppet Shows 

  • The Bible discusses this quite often. Obedience to God and his commandments will result in a believer choosing to do charitable acts not because it's what they've been commanded to do, but because it's what they want to do. There will likely be no earthly reward for such behavior, but the believer will find joy and contentment in helping others and knowing their work has not gone unnoticed by God. And it will end in eternal happiness with God and all His saints.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammerof all places. A particularly detested Elector Count was challenged to a duel by a wandering Champion of Chaos. The Count was defeated, to which the womenfolk started cheering wildly. Feeling obscurely pleased, the Champion left the town unscathed. Considering the fact that a Chaos Champion worships either a bloodthirsty warmonger, a plague making harbinger of decay, a master of mutations and manipulations, a sense freak who teaches that you should do anything to make yourself feel better and perfect or all four at the same time and trying to bring about the apocalypse due to this should tell you how unusual this was.
  • Dead Inside is designed to, in the creator's words, invert the "kill people and take their stuff" behavior of other RPGs to "heal people and give them stuff." The feeling of gaining a new soul point is like a rush of warmth and energy, one that can make a person dizzy and excited from the experience. Good literally feels good.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Exalted Deeds includes an Exalted Spell (as in, a spell only usable by Exalted characters, the purest followers of Good) called Vision of Heaven, which shows someone a brief glance of Mount Celestia, the afterlife of virtuous soul. If shown to an evil person on a regular basis (along with other forms of therapy) these visions can aid in attempts to redeem the character (there's a whole chapter dedicated to this in the book). The idea is, basically, to show him what sinners ultimately are denied; it can work wonders.
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse: This happens to the character Absolute Zero. While he was always on the heroes' side, he started out as a cynical, depressed Punch-Clock Hero whose sole motivation was to pay off the containment suit that allowed him to survive outside a tiny, boring refrigerated room. However, the rush of helping people and finding genuine friendships with the Freedom Five — a team he was so unwilling to join it took him two years in a box to accept the offer — led to him continuing to fight with them after Wraith paid off the suit for him, and even became a teacher in the RPG timeline.

  • In The Lion in Winter by James Goldman, King Henry II talks about the frequent wars between England and France during the Middle Ages:
    "Since Louis died, while Philip grew, I've had no France to fight. And in that time, I've discovered how good it is to write a law, or make a tax more fair, or sit in judgment to decide which peasant gets a cow. There is, I tell you, nothing more important in this world. And now the French boy's old enough, and I am sick of war."

    Video Games 
  • In Baldur's Gate II: Throne Of Bhaal, you can get your evil brother and former Big Bad Sarevok to join your team. While he's utterly evil, you may, through proper dialogue choices and much showing of genuine respect and decency, convert him to the cause of good for real. After which he does admit that indeed, Good Feels Good.
  • Dicey Dungeons: After the Jester becomes a contestant, Lady Luck taunts them by saying they should already know how stacked the odds are against them, but they state they're just happy to be on the good side for once.
  • Dragon Age: Origins:
    • While Zevran never really gets out of the "assassin" mindset unless he is romanced, he will (at a high enough approval rating) admit that helping the Grey Warden to stop the Blight and save Ferelden is the best thing he has ever done with his life.
    • While preparing to defend Redcliffe from a Zombie Apocalypse, it's possible to convince the greedy and selfish bartender Lloyd to join the fight. If he survives (which he might not, considering he has no armor and only wields a dagger), he mentions that it felt good to help and will offer you a magic ring in thanks for sending him out since his fellow villagers respect him now.
  • In Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future:
    • The crystallized trait of Compassion spread joy to the dolphin who found it. At first, he wanted to keep it for himself alone, but as he stayed around it he found himself thinking of others more and more. By the time Ecco arrives, an entire pod of dolphins has gathered around the trait, all enjoying it with each other.
    • The "Man's Nightmare" arc ends this way. The Earth is poisoned irreversibly and dolphins are almost extinct, but even then they still have family and culture worth living for. And courtesy of The Hero, they also know they have helped all they can to replace their timeline with a better one.
  • Elohim Eternal: The Babel Code: Joshwa is conflicted when he helps find a manna source for the Cainites. He admits that it feels good to do a good deed for them, but all his life, he was taught that the Cainites are the enemies of all Idinites and that showing mercy to them goes against the Kosmokraters.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: Despite expressing Heroic Fatigue in numerous dialogue options, the Warrior of Light clearly enjoys helping others and putting smiles on people's faces. In the sidequest, "Mum is the Word", the Warrior helps reunite a mother and her son after a civil war reduces their home to rubble. At the end of the quest, Galla, a member of the city's guard, remarks that it's moments like these that convinced her to sign up and that a good deed is its own reward. A beaming Warrior agrees with a nod.
    Warrior: Seeing their smiles makes it all worthwhile.
  • If you earned Good Karma by the first Train Mission in inFAMOUS, the people who initially blamed Cole for the blast and referred to him as a terrorist cheer for saving all the people. Cole calls them hypocrites but admits that the good he did made him feel good. This is why inFAMOUS 2 starts with the Good Karma path of its predecessor as canon. Sucker Punch made the first game with the presumption that players will follow and prefer the Bad Karma path but in reality, the majority of players liked being The Hero instead.
  • In Jade Empire, you can encounter a mummified noble who is destined to be unable to return to the wheel of life due to the depravity he was known for in life. If you convince him to donate his liver to save a dying little girl, his spirit appears once she is saved and tells you that he has learned that Good Feels Good and that because he has learned this lesson, his spirit will be allowed to pass on (once the problem that has trapped all ghosts in the mortal realm is solved, that is).
  • This is the motivation of Braum in League of Legends - he's one of the friendliest champions, even having encouraging words for his enemies, and he's clearly having an amazing time doing it. It even extends to his players; some commenters have noted that Braum just feels good to play because instead of terrifying your enemies in a cloud of vicious birds or attempting to destructively analyse random people you spend your time popping out of nowhere to plonk that massive shield in the way of a skillshot and delivering upbeat and encouraging lines.
    Braum: Sometimes icy heart just need warm smile!
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks: The Force Gems sustain the eponymous Spirit Tracks and restore the railways that were originally installed to seal Malladus. Every time Link helps a character in a sidequest, the gratitude he receives from them crystallizes into a Force Gem and a few previously-vanished tracks are restored.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword features Gratitude Crystals, which are generated from the gratitude people feel when you help them. Each time you get some, the text box lets you know that "helping people feels good!"
  • Mass Effect is well-known for encouraging this in players.
    • In the second one, you get emails from people you help, including people you helped back in the first game. Even a serial killer you inadvertently helped escape sends a heartfelt "thank you".
    • There's the Paragon/Renegade scars in Mass Effect 2. If you consistently make Paragon decisions, your facial scars will slowly fade. If you make Renegade decisions, they will slowly get worse.
    • Some characters in the Mass Effect universe go through this - Jack, if you romance her as a Paragon, and even Zaeed starts to realize that there is more to life than killing people for money.
    • Throughout Mass Effect 3 you will hear about various moments (Mostly last stands) by people you met over the course of the series. Most of them are people you saved in Paragon actions. The feeling that you created heroes with your own heroism is a mighty one.
  • Rather interestingly done in Metal Gear Solid, after beating Psycho Mantis - during his Final Speech he reveals a secret passage (and apparently implanted the locations of claymores in the next area in Meryl's head), and quietly admits it "feels nice to help someone else for once" before dying.
  • Paper Mario:
  • Sonic Chronicles: When circumstances force Dr. Eggman to join Sonic and his party in their quest, he’s increasingly surprised by how enjoyable he finds adventuring and helping people to be, admitting to Tails that he finally understands why the heroes do it. It doesn’t cause him to actually turn good mind you; he still betrays the party the second it becomes beneficial, tricking them into leaving him behind when they go into the Twilight Cage so he can restore his robot army while they’re trapped in there. Just because he mildly enjoys being good doesn’t mean he likes it more than being evil.
  • In the Demon Path of Soul Nomad & the World Eaters, Raksha performs a full Heel–Face Turn since he likes the attention of being a hero.
  • In Star Trek Online, Captain Kagran of the Klingon Defense Force is your usual honor-bound, glory-seeking Klingon and his General Failure actions have gotten many people killed in the Iconian War. However, when time travel dumps him two weeks before the Iconians are seemingly wiped out and he comes to learn that they weren't that bad at all, he has a massive change of heart and seeks to protect them. When you complete the mission, he tells the Player Character that the blood and violence way is not the answer and he wants to seek change for his people.
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic allows a Light Side player several opportunities to reform Dark Jedi he/she encounters back to the Light Side via a healthy mixture of kind words and some gentle slaps with their lightsaber. This earns you allies as well as a chance to give a huge Take That! to all the Sith gibberish of a philosophy. Arguably the best instance of the trope is when you and one particularly asshole Sith-wannabe are both captured by an insane old Sith and are subjected to a torture/quiz in "Better you than me" style (you answer wrong - you suffer, you answer right - HE suffers). If you are persistent enough in wrong answers/refuse to answer, he is eventually released and is free to go, essentially leaving you to your doom. He instead uses Force to release and revitalize you, and together you proceed to slash the shit out of the old crook. BUT WAIT, It gets better! Although you cannot talk the Big Bad out of the fight, still after you defeat him, he repents. Kind of.
  • A number of the options in Sunless Skies that reduce terror are based on helping others for no reward, such as clearing debris that might be a collision hazard to other engines or making sure that dead sky-farers get decent funerals. Your engine's crew is happy that in a universe inhabited by monsters beyond human comprehension and full to the brim with frozen void, it's still possible to do right by others.
  • This certainly is the basis of Super Robot Wars Advance. Your character is sent as a spy from an evil organization, melding with the good guys, thus having to act good, in Lamia's case, or just plain forgot the evil part and got swept up with doing good, in Axel's case. When it comes to betraying the good guys just as planned... Good feels better than Evil, so they end up having their official Heel–Face Turn.
  • Trauma Center, you can't go wrong when a game lets you play as a surgeon!


    Web Animation 
  • In Dr. Crafty's "I Need a Hero Academia" Part 2, Crafty explains to the Class 1-A students that Nurse is secretly his hero; his motivation to help her in the past saved his life. On a night where he contemplated suicide again, he heard Nurse crying for help from an open grave. She had violently fallen apart from a fall, shocking Crafty so much that he became deeply invested in saving her life; in the process, his suicidal thoughts vanished entirely. He never thanked Nurse for her indirect help, but he wants to make up for it today by saving her from Mindstein's captivity. Crafty's thankfulness only grows in Part 4, where he learns that Nurse and the stranger who supported him through his depression before that night were the same person.

    Web Original 
  • The Salvation War:
    • A demon herald Memnon, after his defection to humanity, contemplates how nice it feels to have superiors who care about him, appreciate his abilities and praise him for his achievements instead of constant cavils, threats, and general neglect he received from his masters in Hell.
    • Similarly, "Drippy" in the later books feels the same way— the camaraderie between him and his squadmates, especially once he realizes they've accepted him as one of their own, makes him feel better than anything he had back in Hell.
  • Red Panda Adventures:
    • In The episode "Red Panda: Dead or Alive", the Red Panda explains to Kit that he started being a superhero as a lark; something he did mostly to see if he could. That changed as he started making a real difference to the people of Toronto, a difference he feels he could never have achieved if he lived his normal life a thousand times over. It's from that point he truly became a hero for the sake of being a hero.
    • Mr. Amazing is a superhero, a Superman Expy introduced in the later half of the series. The Red Panda eventually discovers that the amount of power he can utilize is capped, meaning that once he uses up all that he has, he will die. He tries to encourage Mr. Amazing to walk away and live a long life, but Mr. Amazing, having just saved a trapped little girl, cites this trope as his reason to continue despite the risk.
      Mr. Amazing: It was in that girl's eyes when she saw daylight again. It was in her mother's tears, and the expression on the face of every man and woman there. They felt their lives touched by a miracle. And every single one of them will have hope in their hearts that they didn't have before. If I can do that for a week, a month, a year... and I choose not to so I can live to be a hundred? No. Not me, buster.

    Western Animation 
  • In Aladdin: The Series, the heroes meet a boy prince who has the magical ability to control the weather. Because his bad moods cause storms, his people do everything they can to appease him. The only thing that makes him happy is when Jasmine reads him bedtime stories, so he forces her to stay with him. Jasmine's friends try to rescue her, but she realizes how badly people will suffer if she leaves, so she volunteers to stay. When he sees how unhappy she is being away from Aladdin, the prince lets her go. When he sees how happy she is to be reunited with Aladdin, he realizes how good it feels to make other people happy and resolves to make as many people as happy as possible from that day on.
  • Dr. Drakken and Shego from Kim Possible really enjoyed being good during their Heel–Face Turn episodes. Shego even went so far as to almost confess her friendship with Kim.
  • Emma Frost undergoes this in Wolverine and the X-Men (2009).
  • Discussed Trope in the He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special, when Skeletor saves the lives of two children from Earth:
    He-Man: He saved you?
    Skeletor: Yes — I guess I did! I wish I knew why!
    He-Man: Well, I think you're starting to feel the Christmas spirit, Skeletor. It makes you feel... good!
    Skeletor: I don't want to feel good! I like to feel evil!
  • Similar to Skeletor is Mr. Burns in The Simpsons:
    Smithers: It feels good to be helping people, doesn't it, sir?
    Mr Burns: No. It feels weird.
  • In one episode of The Snorks a two-headed monster (one head was good, the other bad) was the antagonist. Then one of the cast nearly got trapped in a dangerous situation, and the two-headed monster saved her, though the bad head didn't seem to realize this. After receiving gratitude from everybody else the bad head realized that it liked the way helping other people made it feel and stopped being bad.
  • This may be the reason why, in The Transformers, Autobot recruits tended to outnumber those for Decepticons. Watch the old commercials if you want proof. One example is a commercial that introduced six new Autobots (Smokescreen, Tracks, Hoist, Inferno, Red Alert, and Grapple) only introduced two Decepticons by contrast (Dirge and Thrust.)
  • Samurai Jack; As shown in "Jack Tales", children in Aku's dystopia once believed Evil Is Cool, and would depict him in their cosplay-style games as one would a hero. Then stories of Jack's heroics became more common, and children who once loved depicting Aku were jealous of whoever played Jack in these games, as he was no longer depicted as the good-guy. Playing Jack was much cooler.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: After his Heel–Face Turn, it didn't take Tohru long to decide he liked helping people a lot more than being a Dark Hand thug. (One reason he did so initially was - aside from almost getting killed when Valmont told him to fight Shendu - was because Section 13 "serves donuts every Thursday". All jokes aside, however, he really told Valmont off when the criminal came to the heroes for help, telling him that Uncle was a far better boss than he ever was.)
  • Gargoyles has this moral in "High Noon."
    • In "Walkabout", former Pack member Dingo admits that he really enjoyed playing the role of a hero back when the Pack were actors. The events of the episode convince him to try being a real one.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
    • Discord figures this out once he's released by Princess Celestia and the main characters and is accepted by Fluttershy as one of her friends.
    • This is the core of Pinkie Pie's character. Her Smile song exemplifies her ethos quite well.
    • Even when Sunset Shimmer was Reformed, but Rejected, she still considered it an improvement over being evil.
    • It would be easier to make a list of MLP villains that don't come to eventually realize that using their powers/talents to do something useful for others is more fulfilling if for no other reason than powerful and pissed-off magic users aren't out for your hide.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "F.U.N" somehow manages to both avert and double subvert this trope by way of a Heel–Face Revolving Door. SpongeBob proves at being successful at reforming Plankton by becoming his friend, with Plankton flat-out mentioning that he likes the tingly feeling of being good. However, once Karen reinforms Plankton about the mission about stealing the Krabby Patty, Plankton does a Heel–Face Door-Slam, but this isn't shown until SpongeBob finds out about the Krabby Patty that Plankton stole. Plankton at first reaffirms that he enjoyed being friends with SpongeBob, but then reveals he was lying, saying, "Being evil is too much fun!"
    Plankton: Wait. I don't understand this. I feel all tingly inside! ...Should we stop?
    SpongeBob: No! That's how you're supposed to feel!
    Plankton: ...Well, I like it!
  • Star Wars Rebels: "Path of the Jedi". When Yoda questions Ezra, he admits that being with the Ghost crew and helping people makes him feel alive, as he hadn't for a long time as an orphan on the streets looking out for only himself.
  • Steven Universe:
    • In "Too Far", after Peridot insults Amethyst and comments that she feels "smaller" as a result, she later heroically saves her from the oncoming drill bit and apologizes for the accidental encounter, admitting she has much to learn about friendship from the Gems.
      Steven: How do you feel?
      Peridot: Big.
    • Implied in "Change Your Mind". After Steven finally got White Diamond to realize he was his own person and not an incarnation of his mother, he's finally able to convince her to accompany him and the other Diamonds back to Earth to help restore the corrupted gems. At first, White is extremely uncomfortable with being on Earth, but once Steven's plan works and the corrupted gems return to normal, her expression warms, and she shows an earnest smile rather than the condescending one she usually has. She, Blue, and Yellow Diamond leave Earth on good terms with Steven and the Crystal Gems.
  • Whenever the title character of Wander over Yonder helps somebody, it gives him a feeling that starts down in his left toe, rises up through his guttyworks, makes his heart all warm and toasty, floats up past the dangly thing in his mouth — err, uvula — and ends up at the top of his head!
  • In Goldie & Bear, this is the reason why the Big Bad Wolf's ("Big Bad") brother, Phil, who used to be even worse than Big Bad, became good. He was planning to fill up the wishing well with sand, but he ended up rescuing a family of mice who were trapped in the well and found to his surprise that it felt good... so he just kept being good.
  • The whole idea of "Pay Happiness Forward" from Shelldon in which Connie's school project that she chooses is that she does two favors for two people with the idea that instead of returning the favor to her, each of them instead does a favor for two other people.
  • In "Hum Bug" from Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends, Spiderus poo-poos the idea of the "Dream Bug," and reneges on his deal with Bounce to deliver berries to Eunice Earwig, who has sprained her ankle, for her solstice morning breakfast. After having a nightmare, his wife Spindella asks him if he's even done one good deed, and he says there's still time and leaves to deliver the berries. He returns home and has a dream in which is praised to the heavens for being so helpful. That morning, when he wakes up, he finds that his dream is real — Bounce and Eunice are outside the home and Eunice is delighted at his good deed and invites him and Spindella to her breakfast.
  • Carmen Sandiego: Part of the reason Team Carmen fights the good fight against V.I.L.E. is because they simply enjoy doing good. Shadow-san, in particular, is clearly a great deal happier with Team Carmen than he ever was as a member of the V.I.L.E. faculty.
    Carmen: Righting the world's wrongs. It's our jam.
  • Avengers Assemble: Screaming Mimi/Songbird, who two episodes prior had assumed Hawkeye was only pretending to be a good guy as a scam, comes to feel after a few weeks of being a Thunderbolt that it's better than being a villain. The rest of the Thunderbolts agree with her, if to a much lesser extent, and turn on Zemo. Songbird's redemption gets her made an Avenger (and understands good enough to decide when faced with To Be Lawful or Good to go with "good").
  • The Cuphead Show!: While he usually enjoys being evil, the season 3 Christmas Episode "A Devilish Christmas" sees the Devil wanting to get on Santa's Nice List to get a toy train from him. After Santa turns the Devil into Santa for a night (It Makes Sense in Context) he gifts his Arch-Enemy Cuphead a toy train and at first agrees it feels good. However, after Santa rejects his wish for the train as he already get a better gift, the experience of doing good, the Devil decides it sucks.
  • Work It Out Wombats!: In "Hopping Helpers," the wombats felt good after they helped Gabriela, so they decide to become the Hopping Helpers and help everyone.

    Real Life 
  • Simple question: Who tends to get more sympathy and support from the fans in most works of fiction, the heroes or the villains? Well, there you go.
  • From a logical perspective, empathy is a large reason (though far from the only one) for the existence of this. Empathizing with the people you help allows you to imagine the relief, appreciation, comfort, etc. of the people that you help when they receive it. When empathy becomes an internalized mindset and behavior, helping people (or just doing good deeds) becomes so natural and desired that one won't even consciously think about why one does it unless one has to explain it to others.
  • Ashoka, an ancient emperor of much of India, was originally a conqueror, waging wars that killed hundreds upon thousands. That was until all the dust settled, and he realized he felt really, really, bad. He then converted to Buddhism, became a vegetarian, and spent the rest of his life striving to improve the lives of his subjects and spreading Buddhist teachings.
  • Might just be Truth in Television, if some studies about altruism are any example.
    • If this were not Truth in Television, pretty much every charitable institution that either A) relies on volunteers or B) relies on donations would cease to be.
    • Would be subverted in some cases, in that self-righteousness (ranting, raving, etc) is also a natural high, but this is less about altruism and more about doing things to make yourself feel better.
  • This trope is likely the reason for the phrase Random Acts of Kindness.
  • Immanuel Kant posited that an act of pure good should not depend on any kind of reward — you should do good because good is good. If you derive any gain from your act of kindness — monetary gain, preferential treatment, basic gratitude or even a feeling of satisfaction, then you are acting on gain, not pure goodness. Consider how many people would actually want to adhere to such exacting standards.
  • This trope is likely the motivation behind the creation of open-source software. The authors don't expect to get anything for their efforts, but other people (who may not have their coding skills) find their software useful. Knowing your software has helped someone out must make you feel good.
  • This seems to the ultimate point of this Cracked article by David Wong. Trying to increase your own happiness by seeking power in all its forms will only make you miserable. Real happiness can be obtained, paradoxically enough, simply by helping others while not thinking too much about our own happiness.
  • Discussed a lot by Doug Walker, who realizes that some consider him an Extreme Doormat for the way he acts, but doesn't care because he just really likes being nice.
  • This trope is also part of the reason TV Tropes itself, The Other Wiki and all other collaborative online resources work — people feel good about contributing and knowing other people are reading and appreciating their work.
  • People are more likely to like you if you ask small favors of them rather than do small favors for them, with the reason being it simply feels nice to do something good for someone and be thanked for it.
  • This is, apparently, a basic aspect of human psychology. Doing good for goodness sake feels good because of the chemical reaction inside the brain.
  • As pointed out on the "The Anti-Nihilist" page, Nietzsche did point out that charity can help make life feel like it sucks less.


Video Example(s):


To Where and Back Again

Starlight Glimmer manages to convince the changelings that they can survive not by stealing love from other creatures, but by sharing love with them. And after witnessing Thorax undergo a magical metamorphosis into a more colorful and powerful changeling, the rest of the hive (sans Queen Chrysalis) follow suit.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / HeelRaceTurn

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