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Good Is Not Nice

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"Good is not nice, polite, well-mannered, self-righteous, or naive, though good characters may be some of these things."
Dungeons & Dragons, The Book of Exalted Deeds

Affably Evil is when a villain is polite, friendly and genuinely kind, even while plotting evil. Good Is Not Nice is the inverse of that: characters who are morally slanted toward the good side but are rude, unfriendly, and mean.

They never kill anyone if they can help it, nor would they allow people to come to any sort of harm by ignoring them. They are always willing to go out of their ways to save the town and complete strangers. When the call comes, they will answer it, usually with little protest. They often help people in need with little promise of reward. In almost every way, they act like ideal heroes.


Except that they are asocial and sometimes downright insulting toward most people they meet. They may refuse to explain anything. They may also actively rebuke people who express gratitude, friendship, love, and/or offers of support when they are faced with problems.

There are a few reasons these people may act like this:

Note that when handled well, this can create an interesting, complex character. When done poorly, you can end up with an Unintentionally Unsympathetic character or even a Designated Hero.

Compare Noble Demon, who will likely fall into this if not too morally ambiguous. Often a Knight in Sour Armor, Mr. Vice Guy, Jerk with a Heart of Gold, Jerkass Woobie, or sometimes just a Jerkass who does good things. The term Anti-Hero is sometimes used to cover this trope. Sister trope to Creepy Good. Naive newcomers may be surprised to learn they are not the idealized hero everyone thinks they are. The hero's meanness will result with him becoming a Hero with Bad Publicity.

Why Light powers can be the Holy Hand Grenade even when Light Is Good.

Lawful Good versions of this trope may be strict, humorless and serious. In other cases, they will put more emphasis on "Lawful" than "Good". This is fairly often used as a personality flaw for The Paladin. Chaotic Good versions will often see politeness and good manners as useless rules and are only concerned about doing good.

See also Hidden Depths. Also see the Knight Templar, who goes beyond merely not being "nice" into darker territory.

Contrast Good Is Not Dumb. May overlap with Good Is Not Soft, but the key difference is that a character can be nice but ruthless, which makes them Good Is Not Soft, or they can be mean but not necessarily ruthless, making them this trope.

See also Affably Evil, a trope that could be called "Evil Is Not Mean." Contrast both with Faux Affably Evil, for when the villain is a far bigger asshole than any hero under this trope while acting superficially nice.

This is what the Knight Templar and the Obliviously Evil tend to think they are.

For your convenience, here are tropes which focus on the types of good guys who aren't nice as well as actions that demonstrate it:



Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Mean Is Not Evil, Good Is Edgy, Jerkass Hero



He's a popular superhero, but acts like a Jerk Jock.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / GoodIsNotNice

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