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Informed Kindness

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Let's say you're meeting two characters for the first time and you find out that one character is nice, but you find out the other character is kinda rude and unfriendly. Then the nice character (or other characters who have known the rude character) will tell you that the other character is really a nice person, often following up with explaining his rude behavior.

This is an Informed Attribute of a character who is said to be nice, although his actions show him to be anything but. This can be justified in many ways. The character may have a turbulent, yet healthy relationship with the rest of the characters. Maybe the character isn't too keen on socializing with others. Or maybe the character appears to be nice, but does have moments of anger. Whatever reason it may be, this trope can show that the story is focusing on the good of the character instead of the bad.

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On the downside of things, characters believing that the character is nice will appear to be too naive, especially if the rude character has absolutely no redeeming qualities. Should the character be called out for his rudeness? Shouldn't the rude character apologize for his abrasive behavior? In a strange sense, however, the character who was taken aback of their rudeness will find out that he does have a nice side. Of course, that's only between those two.

A form of Show, Don't Tell. This can be a way to best describe a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, a character with a Sugar-and-Ice Personality, a Good Is Not Nice character, or other characters who can be socially unapproachable at times. Often a Naïve Newcomer will become confused as to why people keep calling this Jerkass teammate "nice". This can be shown how the character is a Jerk Sue if the other characters ignore his/her mean qualities. Compare Villain with Good Publicity for another meaning of "informed kindness". Compare Designated Hero if the character is shilled as a heroic but his actions are anything but.

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Contrast Beware the Nice Ones. See also Horrible Judge of Character for those mistakenly believing this. Compare Bitch in Sheep's Clothing. Can be a form of Character Shilling. Can be Truth in Television.

Examples

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     Advertising  

  • Segata Sanshiro is described in-universe as being a "great hero", but this is a little hard to believe considering the fact that all he does is beat anyone who doesn't happen to play Sega Saturn senseless. It's better shown in Project X Zone 2 where he is a good friend (and sometimes even patron) of the various Sega characters and encourages those who are unfamiliar with him to pursue whatever path they choose with the utmost of seriousness.

     Anime & Manga  

  • Parodied early on in Hayate the Combat Butler: The yakuza loan-sharks bent on enslaving Hayate as settlement for his parents' debt are redundantly, near-exclusively and emphatically being referred to as "Exceptionally kind people".
  • Record of Grancrest War goes to great lengths to establish Marrine as a Tragic Villain who selflessly sacrifices her own happiness for the country's good...Except that she poison gasses a building full of innocent people, refuses to ally with people for the sole reason that they're more heroic than her, and tries to make a foreign warlord Emperor. In real life, people who've committed murder on that scale are very rarely contrite.

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     Comic Books  

  • In The Sandman, the Furies are not to be referred as such, it's better to call them the Kindly Ones: a Hecate Trio of witches who swore to get revenge on Orpheus for making them cry, which they achieved by having him killed by his father.
  • Wonder Woman comes off as this Depending on the Writer. She was originally intended to be the most compassionate and understanding member of the Justice League of America, and for a fairly long time she lived up to it. Than Kingdom Come happened. In that story, Diana was depicted as having become more violent and bitter as a result of her struggles, taking up a sword and being much more willing to kill enemies. This was intended to just be an element of the Bad Future, but Kingdom Come ended up being a lot of readers' first real impression of Wonder Woman and the "warrior" imagery caught on. Ever since than, writers have tried to portray both interpretations at the same time with predictably confusing and Narmful results; narration praising Wonder Woman for her kind and peaceful ways will be juxtaposed with her breaking necks or stabbing bad guys.

     Film  

  • The Room's protagonist, Johnny, is ostensibly an emotionally fragile Nice Guy who buys Lisa red roses often enough to be the flower shop lady's favorite customer, and would do anything for Lisa and seems to only want to make her happy. He also pays for Denny's college and tuition without asking for anything in return, and is constantly admired and praised by everyone (except Lisa) wherever he goes. This shilling is kind of undermined by some of the other kinks in his character, such as laughing at domestic abuse that landed someone in the hospital, his covert taping of Lisa to determine whether or not she was having an affair instead of coming out and asking her about it, shoving Lisa onto a couch at one point and later getting into a physical confrontation with Mark in front of all his party guests, and his destructive meltdown at the end where he completely trashes his apartment.
  • Played for laughs in The Departed: after Staff Sergeant Dignam gives an extremely rude briefing, his colleague, Ellerby unconvincingly says: "Normally, he's a very, uh... nice guy. Don't judge him from this meeting alone". Dignam isn't nice by any stretch of the imagination, but he's honest and dutiful.
  • In Godzilla (1998) the other characters frequently talk up Audrey as being 'too nice'. This is despite the fact that she rejected Nick's proposal in favor of furthering her own career, and also steals top secret information from him to give to the press, throwing him under the bus. While she is remorseful that her actions got him fired, it doesn't come across as the Out-of-Character Moment it's meant to be.

     Literature  

  • Played with in Discworld: Nanny Ogg will insist that her incredibly mean and evil cat Greebo (which once raped a she-bear), is "a big softie, really". Only once did she confess "between you and me, he's a fiend from Hell".
  • Subverted with Raymond Shaw in The Manchurian Candidate. The novel repeatedly states "Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life." Keep in mind that this is because his squad has been brainwashed into saying this anytime they're asked about him. In point of fact, he's something of a cold jerk and No Hero to His Valet.
  • Played deliberately in Lewis Carroll's long poem "Peter and Paul" from Sylvie and Bruno, in which the rich Paul agrees to lend his poorer friend Peter some money, never actually gives it to him, then starves him by calling in the loan. Paul is referred to as "noble", "kind" and "honest" throughout.
  • Twilight
    • Bella is frequently considered a very loving person who, in Midnight Sun, Edward starts to warm to because he thinks "All the other things added up to that whole - kind and self-effacing and unselfish and loving and brave - she was good through and through." Bella, however, spends most of her time mentally complaining about everything, seeing the worst in people (for example, believing the students at Forks have ulterior motives for befriending her, with no evidence), and insisting on having her way whenever she can.
    • Inversely, Bella seems convinced that the Cullens - Edward especially - truly are moral and good people. This is despite them being withdrawn from society, viewing humans as only just worth noticing, with moments like Edward declaring a newborn attacking Seattle as none of their business. While Carlisle and Esme are held up as rare instances of vampires capable of deeper love, neither apparently did anything to stop the other Cullens from killing humans in their past, nor do they protest loaning cars to human-killing vampires in Breaking Dawn, just so long as those vampires don't kill anyone they personally know. While Bella's opinion on the Cullens could be a case of Unreliable Narrator, Bree Tanner also considers the Cullens to be kind and selfless towards her after only knowing them for a very brief period of time (and despite them leaving her in the care of the only one of their group who repeatedly demands they kill her) and Stephanie Meyer wrote a lengthy rebuttal to a fan who brought up how the Cullens don't seem to care that much about their past victims.
  • Left Behind features a wide array of what the authors tell us are saved, admirable characters... who are every bit as selfish, smug, aggressively insecure, and generally unpleasant as when they were unsaved. Sometimes it's accidental little things and sometimes it's things like Buck threatening and blackmailing his former boss and Rayford getting people killed for being rude to him. And being rude to people who are about to die, and griping when fewer people die than he was hoping. At one point, a character walks into this trope by name by saying that all the adults who were Raptured were "very nice people" when the ones the readers have seen (Irene Steele, the former New Hope pastor) were actually shown as self-righteous, aloof, and insensitive. On the rare occasions the authors show signs of noticing, they deal with it not by making them nicer but by shilling furiously, which is about as effective as it sounds.
  • Ender's Game: We're told over and over that Ender is a good person, extremely empathic, and loves even his enemies. The reason we know this? Because he always feels bad after he brutally murders someone (which is damn near every other scene). His guilt is never strong enough to make him show even the slightest bit of restraint in the next confrontation, though. Just enough to mope about it for a bit and then keep doing exactly the same thing.

     Live Action TV  
  • Angel: In "Sanctuary," Faith remarks that Buffy was the only person in Sunnydale who was there for her and tried to be her friend. As shown throughout Buffy Season 3, even before the events of "Bad Girls" and "Consequences," Buffy generally treated Faith more like a commodity than an actual friend, picking a fight with her on their very first patrol together, having to be talked into including her on several different gatherings, and dumping all of her responsibility for Alan Finch's death onto her, all of which contributed to Faith's Face–Heel Turn.
  • In Breaking Bad, characters have a tendency to say that Walter White is nice, a good, decent person, etc. If you pay attention, however, from the beginning, you'll notice that all of Walt's kind-seeming actions are either forced for the sake of manipulation or for that of a facade, or him trying to fulfill his role as a parent. Never does he go out of his way to do anything nice for anyone. As the series advances, he goes downhill from there, both retroactively as we discover his backstory, and by Jumping Off the Slippery Slope.
  • In BBC's Robin Hood, Kate gets shilled as "kind and compassionate" after insisting that Isabella her romatic rival be left to die at the hands of her psycopathic husband.
  • Charmed:
    • Prue is said to be a selfless and moral person who spent her teen years being a Team Mom to her sisters. She spends most of the first season forcing her advice on Phoebe, complaining about her job, sniping at Andy and reminding her sisters of everything she's done for them. Prue does eventually mellow out in the second season, and the show starts playing up that her sisters resent her endless nosiness in their personal lives.
    • Around the fifth season, Piper tells Phoebe that she doesn't have a mean bone in her body. This is after several episodes of Phoebe blaming Cole for everything that went wrong in her life, completely ignoring her own actions and refusing to take responsibility.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Daenerys has this at least In-Universe: Missandei, Grey Worm and, to a degree, even Varys constantly tell people that she is a great queen with a sense for justice, Jorah Mormont more than once states she has a "gentle heart". Except this is the very same queen who feeds men to her dragons, commenting that they very well "could all be innocent" of the crime she accuses them of, brings hundreds of thousands of raping and killing warriors into her native land so that they may raid the country and people and burns defeated enemies alive because they refuse to bow to her. Daenerys even has this on herself, as she keeps telling that she will "break the wheel", meaning the social structure that suppresses many people in favor of few others, but at the same time she conquers lands, destroys fleets and ground and kills hundreds of people in order to become queen - thus, their superior.
    • Rhaegar Targaryen's noble qualities of The Wise Prince are only ever told to the audience by people like Barristan Selmy and Jorah Mormont. While he never abducted and raped Lyanna Stark as Robert suspected, he still endangered the realm for his own personal desires, as well as humiliating Elia and endangering her children by annulling his marriage to her. Also, in the end, he still fought for his mad father, not against him.

     Video Games  

     Web Comics  

     Western Animation  

  • In The Proud Family, Dijonay reunites with her old friend Lacieniga for the first time in years. Dijonay tells her current best friend Penny that Lacieniga is the best person ever, but Lacieniga only proceeds to do nothing but selfishly disrespect Penny. Penny calls Dijonay out on her judgement saying that it's possible her old friend has changed, but Dijonay doesn't see any of it.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode, "Giant Squidward", the townspeople ask Squidward if he is a friendly giant like the one in a little boy's storybook. When SpongeBob and Patrick tell them that he is and ask him to name instances, Squidward yells at them.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine
    • In a "A Bad Day for Sir Handel". Peter Sam and Sir Handel arrive to the Skarloey Railway with Sir Handel complaining about leaving the railway they previously worked at and insults Skarloey. Peter Sam rebukes him and tells Skarloey that he's a nice person, he's only a bit homesick. The narration then states that Skarloey felt sorry for Peter Sam.
    • Peter Sam says the same about Duncan in "Home At Last" supposing that he probably does mean well, but is rather rude and careless. While we do see shades of his softer side in the following episode, the current story has Duncan act like a thoroughly arrogant Jerk Ass.
    • In the episode "Kevin's Cranky Friend", Salty reminds Kevin that despite Cranky's nature, he has a heart of gold, and he was good as his word when Cranky took the blame for causing Kevin to fall off the sea.

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