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Moral Dissonance

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Jack Slate: They were judge, jury, and executioner, all in one nasty package.
Slowbeef: That is YOU!
Let's Play Dead to Rights: Retribution

Moral Dissonance is the result of having a hero who has a double standard and the narrative fails to address or even comment on it. It can include any unintentional Double Standard on the hero's part that becomes obvious to the viewer during a walk to the fridge. It's important to point out the hero isn't necessarily acting the Jerkass, Anti-Hero, or morally myopic villain, and may in fact be likeable and decent, but their actions simply don't line up with their rhetoric and no one calls them on it.


Usually results from using either an old Aesop or trope that's a genre staple with different values to those of the hero, usually resulting in a Broken Aesop. For example: Hero believes in giving the villain a Last-Second Chance and will go the extra mile to Save the Villain from his own devices regardless of previous backstabs and never consider killing him because If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him. The Punch-Clock Villain minions? Doesn't even flinch when he has to kill them because they inconvenience him. Since they don't have a name it doesn't really matter. This gets its own subtrope: What Measure Is a Mook?

With an Omniscient Morality License the old Mentor character, especially a Trickster Mentor, or in some cases, God himself if having Jerkass God tendency, can do anything because of their absolute knowledge over what will occur. Anyone else even approaching that level of arrogance would be smacked by the plot and smacked hard. Obviously Sociopathic Heroes are exempt as they are expected to act this way.


This is named partly for Cognitive Dissonance, the concept psychologists use to describe the tension one feels when holding two conflicting ideas or viewpoints simultaneously. In this case, it can be that the character seems to hold two incompatible beliefs - thus having literal cognitive dissonance - or it can be that they are acting against their supposed moral beliefs, for whatever reason. Moral, because the hero can be an All-Loving Hero and a Technical Pacifist while being very Immoral.

Compare Values Dissonance, where the cause is cultural. Also compare Felony Misdemeanor. Contrast Not So Different, where the double standard is noticed; What the Hell, Hero?, where they are expressly called out (though particularly infuriating if the person calling the hero out is treated as being wrong) and can even be a driving force of the plot; It's All About Me, where the villain actively holds this kind of double standard, and it's noticed; Tautological Templar, where another character also actively thinks he can do no wrong. Also compare with Moral Myopia if Double Standard is portrayed as wrong in-universe. For The Rival holding a grudge, it's Disproportionate Retribution. See also Protagonist-Centered Morality.


See also Jerk with a Heart of Gold who is at heart a good guy but often behaves badly.

Consider No Endor Holocaust, where often hero's actions should have had some negative effect, but doesn't because they're supposed to be the good guys. Pay Evil unto Evil differs in that you can only be ruthless towards villains.

Expect the Mary Sue to do this. Oh, so very often.

Note that this is about the internal inconsistency. The dissonance is on the part of the character, not the audience. The hero saying one thing and doing another is this. The hero making an argument for his actions that is considered unconvincing, or acting in a way that you don't consider moral is not this.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The Black Knights of Code Geass, particularly Ohgi, fall victim to this when they fall for both logical and moral incongruities put forth by Schneizel to turn them against Lelouch. Ohgi, despite believing that people should not be treated as pawns, nevertheless allows himself and the others to be manipulated by Schneizel in order to get rid of Lelouch. He probably thought of it as choosing the lesser of two evils. In the same scenario, Villetta Nu, while acting out of concern for Ohgi, leaves out a number of details (that she may or may not even have been aware of herself, given that it's likely all her information on it came from Emperor Charles and who knows how honest he was with her) that would have cast a favorable light on Lelouch, namely the limitations of said power, thereby needlessly (or maliciously) hurting the latter's case. And Ohgi, who claims that people should never be used as pawns, uses Kallen as one to draw out Lelouch, who he intends to sell out to Schneizel, as yet another, in exchange for Japan. On top of this, for all the complaints of Lelouch going AWOL during the Black Rebellion, Ohgi did the same a few episodes before the current predicament here on account of Villetta.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! cheaters like Bandit Keith, who had cards stashed up his sleeves to be able to draw cards he needs, and Espa Roba, who had partners on rooftops spying on his opponent's deck and reporting to him via earpiece so he could "psychically predict" his opponent's tactics, are always called out as such and often even punished by disqualification or worse. Characters who use the "Heart of the Cards", a mystical force that allows them to influence their draw and magically get the right card at the right time, are never called out as such and this is an accepted tactic even though the only real difference between this and Bandit Keith's tactic is the Heart of the Cards is magic while the other tactic relies on machine-aided sleight-of-hand.

    Comic Books 
  • The very first story with Catwoman (or 'the Cat' as she was known at first) has Batman sternly Break The Fourth Wall to remind the readers that crooks should never be admired and be fought at every turn. Four pages later he allows the Cat to escape (and deliberately foils Robin's attempt to stop her) for the sole reason that he finds her sexy - other than being a non-violent thief (who still put people's lives in danger by choosing a scumbag partner when she robbed a yacht) there are no other extenuating circumstances in favor of letting her go.
  • The most absurd version of this is One More Day. Spider-Man made a deal with Mephisto. You know, big demon guy? Makes deals with people and then screws them over? The deal in question? He wiped his and his wife's marriage from history, aborting their unborn baby in the process, just so his aunt who, even in terms of comic book aging is older than the Bill of Rights, can recover from a gunshot wound to live for a couple more years before finally kicking the bucket. And to add insult to injury, she only got shot in the first place because Spidey revealed his Secret Identity to the public, making the exact scenario he has been harping about for bloody years as to why he specifically shouldn't take off his mask. In other words, Aunt May was shot because of Peter's mistake and he was unwilling to take responsibility for his actions. And we were meant to think this act is heroic somehow. The Moral Dissonance? Spider-Man just about giving the Devil the chance to fiddle with Reality Warper powers instead of taking responsibility for her death goes completely against the saying "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility." (The most defining part of his entire character).
  • Avengers vs. X-Men: In the end, the Phoenix Five are punished, with Cyclops being regarded as a war criminal. Never mind the fact that they were, if not mind controlled, then heavily influenced, by the Phoenix and shouldn't be held responsible, but many of the people condemning them for their actions have also committed crimes while not themselves, but also Captain America's behavior during the whole debacle is very similar to the way Tony Stark acted during Civil War, which Cap was violently against. Cyclops happily points this out. At length.
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW) has the issue "The Good, the Bad and the Ponies", in which Twilight Sparkle refuses to use her magic to stop a gang of cattle rustlers who are terrorizing a town, claiming that using magic on sentient beings would be abusing her power despite having done so numerous times in the past. Even when the cattle rustlers step up their game by slapping her friends around and lighting some buildings on fire, and even after being called out on her behavior by Applejack she refuses. However in the finale when King Longhorn kicks down a "historic landmark", suddenly that's due cause for her to finally step up and do something. In other words, the "Princess of Friendship" is allowed to use magic to defend historical buildings, but not innocent citizens or even her friends.
  • The Punisher: Frank does not like it when other people go around killing criminals. Usually justified as those other vigilantes not putting in the extra effort it takes to ensure there are no civilian casualties.
  • In the lead up to Infinite Crisis, The DC Trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were each given a "sin" to show how far they'd fallen as heroic icons. Superman was revealed to have been aware of certain League members mindwiping Batman and other individuals, Batman had created a super spy satellite called Brother Eye to observe and monitor metahumans across the globe and Wonder Woman killed Maxwell Lord to stop him from mind controlling Superman. Of these three, Wonder Woman's "sin" was really not a sin at all, especially when you take into account that Lord was trying to start a war between humans and metahumans by making Superman go on a rampage and he wasn't even the first person Wonder Woman had killed. Despite this, the DC writers treated this with far more severity and scrutiny than either Superman or Batman's transgressions; Superman's knowledge of the mindwipes was never brought up in Infinite Crisis and Batman creating Brother Eye was pretty much forgotten about after that story. Yet, Diana killing Max became a Never Live It Down moment for her. Not helping things was the implication that Diana killing Max was only a big deal because he looked human.
  • Both Black Canary and Huntress have committed actions that would be considered unbecoming of a Justice League member. During Morrison's run, Huntress attempted to kill the super villain Prometheus after he tried to start World War 3 while Black Canary was revealed to have been part of the cabal of League members that mindwiped Batman and others in Identity Crisis. Huntress was booted off the League by Batman and hasn't served on a League roster since. Black Canary was made the League's chairwoman even after her actions were found out.

    Fan Works 
  • Knowledge Is Power, a Harry Potter fanfic: As in some of the author's other works, the canonical "pureblood supremacy is bad" message clashes severely with how the reader is supposed to be cheering for "Lord Potter" as he gleefully boasts about being better than everyone else because he had the right ancestry. Oops.
  • Ojamajo Doremi: Rise of the Shadows: Black Queen allows her minions, Evil Rin and the Shadow Ojamajos, to kill Majorin and the Ojamajos (who happen to be little girls) right in front of the Queen, and the event is treated as a Moral Event Horizon. When the Queen gets her Super Mode, she swiftly kills Evil Rin and the Shadow Ojamajos, the latter of whom also being little girls, and it's treated as being perfectly okay.
  • The Prayer Warriors could very well be the poster children of this trope alongside Protagonist-Centered Morality. Throughout the fic, they repeatedly condemn actions that the "Satanists" do only to turn around and immediately do just that. For example, in The Battle With the Witches they condemn science as "corrupting the young" but later use chemistry to take out poisonous plants that the Hogwarts students were planning to use against Christians. Another example is Good Girls Avoid Abortion is emphasized a great deal in the story, but it clashes heavily with the fact that the Prayer Warriors at one point wished that Osama bin Laden was killed at birth and then later wished that Molly Weasley would have a miscarriage.
  • Tales of Attornia, an Ace Attorney Transplanted Character Fic: Maya is suspected of destroying a town and is hunted for it by Phoenix. When he finally finds her he initially wants to kill her, but changes his mind after learning she's his mentor's sister and takes her alive claiming it would be wrong to kill her without trial. In the same scene Morgan(one of three survivors from said town) demands her to be killed on spot, but Phoenix claims she used him to kill Maya and executes her on spot, even though Morgan was perfectly willing to stand trial for this.
  • Various The Conversion Bureau stories have the ponies and the PER committing very questionable if not outright villainous actions. If questioned, they'll state that those opposed to them are dooming humanity for selfish reasons while they're saving humanity out of altruism.
    • Particularly in Chatoyance-verse stories where Princess Celestia outright states that she can do no evil and is saving humanity...even as she essentially obliterates Earth.
  • The Longest Road has a pretty bad case of this when handling the Celadon Gym issue from canon. Erika banning Ash from her gym for not liking her perfume? Horrible, she must be punished! Erika getting ousted from her job as a Gym Leader for being a lesbian? Perfectly okay, she deserves it! The writer later changed the story to remove Ash outing Erika.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Boiler Room: In the end, Seth convinces Chris to "do one thing right" and sign a ticket sale making one schmuck client good by stealing from another anonymous buyer on the market.
  • The Day of the Triffids: Masen returns to the chateau to find sighted convicts holding the blind women at gunpoint and sexually assaulting them. He gets Christine Durant and Susan into the truck and drives away, making no attempt to save the helpless women. Even Durant — who earlier had vowed not to abandon the others — never mentions the chateau incident again.
  • Red Nightmare: When Jerry is put on trial, we're meant to view him as totally innocent of anything other than being a dissident. No one on either side of the case brings up the fact that he committed a legitimate crime by vandalizing a museum. Of course, that hardly deserves a death sentence, but it's still awfully self-righteous of him to stand there and act like he has no idea why he was arrested. Obviously, vandalizing a museum is okay when it's a commie museum!
  • In Thor, Odin tells his young sons that a wise king doesn’t seek out war, but then doesn’t correct Thor when he tells him that when he grows up, he wants to kill all the Frost Giants just like his father. Odin is then completely surprised when as an adult, Thor starts a war with the Frost Giants because one of them called him a princess. An especially egregious example because his other son, Loki, was standing right next to them when Thor said this, and he’s an adopted Frost Giant (though neither Thor nor Loki knew this at that time).
  • Warriors of Virtue:
    • At the end of the movie, Ryan demonstrates his newfound virtue by leaving Brad stranded at the Treatment plant behind a torrent of water, leading the rest of Brad's 'friends' away while they mock the terrified jock. He says he's going to call the police and get Brad out, but even so...
    • Just so we're all clear on this point, the Warriors forgave Komodo, the insane, self-obsessed warlord, and offered him a place in their community even though he tried to kill them all and callously destroyed their ecosystem. Whereas a mere jerky football player is unworthy of your sympathy. To be fair, it's apparent he's no longer the same man, and doesn't even remember anything from before though.

  • Twilight:
    • The fact that Bella is worth fighting for and dying for the Cullens and all the werewolves, but the concept of fighting to stop the vampires from eating anyone else is ignored. She is the only one they are willing to protect, because nobody could ever be as perfect as Bella. Everyone else is considered food whenever their vampire friends from out of town stop by.
    • She also thinks her father is creepy because he checks in on her at night, despite the fact that a) he's her father, b) he's a police officer, c) she endangered her life numerous times and his worrying is entirely reasonable, and d) her vampire boyfriend has been watching her sleep before they even started dating and oiled her window frame so that it doesn't squeak.
  • In the V. C. Andrews book Seeds of Yesterday (the final book in the Dollanganger series) the protagonist Cathy reacts with anger and disgust when she discovers her son and daughter-in-law's adulterous affair (the woman is married to her other son), and when she realizes the extent of her teenage daughter's promiscuity. Meanwhile, she's carrying on an incestuous relationship with her brother and acts as if this is perfectly acceptable and normal.
  • In David Eddings' The Elenium and the sequel books The Tamuli, we meet Kring, chief of the Peloi, a tribe of savage horsemen. In his first appearance, his troops have joined an allied army to fight a joint enemy. He asks about the army's policy on raping. He is told that it is not allowed and he sighs, saying it will be hard to explain to his men that they can't. Later, his fiancée talks about how she murdered men who attempted to rape her. He clearly shows how he thinks rape is wrong and he is glad they died. No one in the story seems to recall or mention that he was unhappy that his men weren't allowed to rape women earlier. Considering the time period The Elenium is set in, Kring might see a difference between taking a woman as a war trophy (as was commonly done long ago) and men simply setting upon a woman in the night, however. It could also be a case of Moral Myopia where he thinks it's wrong if a woman he cares about is involved, versus the anonymous strangers who he was asking about previously.
  • In the Dragonlords series by Joanne Bertin, Dragonlords are weredragons born as humans, usually very low class humans, who are considered semidivine by human society. A Dragonlord, talking to a noblewoman, says they're born low class so that when they make judgments on human conflicts they will pick whatever suits the people, commoners included, without regard for noble pride. A young Dragonlord who hasn't yet changed into a dragon - no one but the older Dragonlords even know what she is - is randomly attacked by said noble and almost blinded - and the older Dragonlord characters, upset, consider it an outrage because a human attacked a semidivine being, and it's repeatedly stated that they wouldn't be upset at all if she was the commoner she appeared to be. So rather than following noble pride, they're going on the pride of semidivine beings.
  • The Souls from The Host consider themselves peaceful, loving, and perfectly moral, despite the fact that their primary activity appears to be wiping out other sentient species. That is, the species still exists in a biological sense, but the individuals composing it are functionally dead. At best it's slavery on a grand scale, but since what happens to the individuals is closer to murder, "wiped out" isn't pushing it too far.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe. Details of the Clone Wars are revealed in the expanded universe to be morally dissonant. The Jedi and the Republic, the good guys of the Star Wars universe who supposedly outlawed slavery, use an army of mass-produced living slaves as cannon fodder for a war in which the soldiers have no stake. They're forced into live-fire training, killed if they don't meet the standards of the cloners, and deprived of even having names—all between the ages of 2 and 10, before the war even starts. When the fighting begins they're given no civil rights, no citizenship, no legal standing at all in the society they're fighting for. They're aging twice as fast as naturally born beings, and if they're too injured to continue fighting, they're left to die or euthanized. They were bound to serve for life or until old age inhibited their ability to fight, and any attempts at desertion were met with an assassin squad. This was commented on multiple times in the Expanded Universe; the clones had people fighting for their civil rights, citizenship, and legal standing in the Senate. Palpatine always obstructs them, however, and gets REALLY pissed when his attempts to create more cannon fodder are shot down. After all, clones getting equal rights would've disrupted his whole "use a cloned army of Manchurian Agents to wipe out the Jedi" plan. One comic had a group of horrified Jedi meet to find a way to end the war after they discover that the clones view themselves as cannon fodder. Palpatine sends an assassin to kill them.
  • Sword of Truth:
    • The tactically sound but morally questionable strategies employed by Richard's armies on his instructions.
    • Richard frequently slips into this in Sword of Truth due to his omniscient morality staying in play across books with highly disparate themes. The insistence that he is immune or opposed to destiny, especially, fluctuates between a technical distinction and a real moral position depending on whether the author wants to make a prophecy a major plot element in a given book.
  • The Eye of Argon; Grignr takes a soldier drunkenly kicking his wine over as a reason to lop the soldier's head off.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Season 5 of 24 has Tony Almeida attempting to kill Christopher Henderson, the man who'd earlier ordered the death of Tony's wife Michelle, and Jack is repeatedly trying to talk Tony down from doing it, saying he's going to get nothing out of doing it and he'll just be left empty, and of course since Jack is the main character he's supposed to be the one everybody should be siding with. It would have sounded a hell of a lot better if it wasn't for the fact that this is coming from the same man who's repeatedly had no problem killing someone in revenge, times including the Drazen family, Nina Meyers, the guy who assassinated David Palmer just a few hours before, and ironically Henderson himself later on in the season. They do need Henderson alive since they need to discover who he's working for in the current conspiracy of the season, and admittedly Jack at least does put his desire for vengeance on hold when said person he wants to kill is still needed by CTU to accomplish something in stopping the greater terrorist threat, but this is never brought up. The dialogue simply has Jack stating that revenge isn't the answer, which makes him come off as nothing but a total hypocrite.
  • In "The Stolen Costume", a season one episode of The Adventures of Superman, two crooks learn that Superman is really Clark Kent. His response: he abducts them and strands them on top of an isolated mountaintop. When they try to climb down, they fall to their deaths. That constitutes kidnapping and murder. There are never any consequences for this; in fact, the whole incident is never mentioned again.
  • Arrow:
    • Ollie preaches to the Huntress quite a bit about her blasé attitude toward killing, pointing out that he only kills when it's necessary and only after giving his target a chance to do the right thing. This is true when it comes to his high-profile targets, but he extends no such niceties to the mooks in their employ, dropping a half-dozen hired guards in a typical episode with seemingly little care whether they live or die from the grievous arrow wounds he inflicts. To hammer things home, it's established explicitly by Quinten Lance that "The Hood" and his vigilantism has put many people in the morgue, just in case there was any doubt about how he was operating.
    • Even though he was non-lethal, Roy Harper's attempts at vigilantism are repeatedly shot down early on, with Oliver even shooting him at one point to keep him out of trouble. Which, directly leads Roy into getting in trouble. Though Oliver stresses that Roy is untrained, Roy is shown to have been an adequately self-taught street fighter, had zero body count or a desire to kill. And Oliver happily took on John Diggle and Felicity Smoak to help his vigilantism, so it's not as if he believes in I Work Alone.
    • After Malcolm Merlyn came back, many characters wanted to kill him, especially when it was found out he killed Sara Lance. Yet despite Malcolm having been responsible for the Undertaking, as well as Oliver's origin story, and as a result was responsible for the deaths of Robert Queen, Tommy Merlyn, the aforementioned Sara, and a few hundred innocent people, Oliver refused to kill him or let others do so. Fine, but then he also refuses to take him down and hand him over to the police, either. Then he refuses to let him be handed over to the League of Assassins' custody to face his crimes. All of this he justifies because vengeance is hollow and you shouldn't kill someone out of revenge. How does this season end? With Oliver killing Ra's Al Ghul, after a lengthy war with him that was caused entirely by Oliver wanting revenge for Ra's nearly killing him after he protected Malcolm Merlyn.
    • Diggle was repeatedly shown as the Only Sane Man who repeatedly scolded the others for putting personal feelings before logic. Take for instance his repeated mistrust of Moira Queen and the extent he went through to get Oliver to see her involvement in the Undertaking, or how he repeatedly called Oliver and others out for any other blindspots they put over family and loved ones. When Diggle's brother Andy shows up, Back from the Dead, working for the badguys, he seems at first to remember this, but then gives Andy a second chance. Then when Andy starts acting incredibly suspicious, he refuses to accept the idea they shouldn't blindly trust him and should maybe at least take some steps to be safe, like keeping him out of the action, or not informing him of vital information. Diggle refuses because, despite his previous depictions, he's got a massive blindspot over his brother that ultimately results in the death of Laurel.
  • Babylon 5:
    • Minbari do not lie, being such an honorable, morally-superior-to-humanity kind of race. To get around this, they've made an art form out of evasiveness and stretching the definition of truth to the breaking point. They will lie to help another save face, so they could in fact lie all they want as long as they can come up with a vague justification (like the Minbari who lied to help implicate Sheridan in the murder of another Minbari).
    • The Vorlon and Shadows, whose ships are powered by Moral Dissonance to the point that they no longer even remember why they're doing what they're doing. That is, until they get called out on it.
  • In the Blake's 7 episode "Gold", the Seven decide to steal some gold from the planet Zerok, which isn't even part of the Federation (okay, they trade with them, but that's stretching the point). In the process they are responsible directly or indirectly for the death of at least fifteen security guards who were just doing their job, one of whom actually had his weapon lowered and could easily have been taken prisoner. Then, their ally Keillor kills a doctor who was trying to raise the alarm and they all treat this as a heinous crime. The stated reason that he wasn't armed doesn't really hold water. Apparently the moral is it's okay to kill innocent bystanders if they're carrying guns.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • For most of the series, the heroes operate by a strict code of not killing normal humans. That is, until the arrival of the evil priest Caleb in the last few episodes of the show, where it turns into more "Killing people is wrong, unless I really, really want to."
    • In Season 5 some of the Knights of Byzantium, an entirely human organisation dedicated to preventing the world from being destroyed by the Big Bad (albeit by killing someone close to Buffy) were killed by Buffy and the Scoobies. It's less don't kill humans no matter what and more only if there's no other choice.
    • In "Doppelgangland" after defeating an alternative universe vampire Willow the gang actually return her unrestrained to her home universe. While she's instantly killed they had no way of knowing that that would be the case. For all they knew they were sending a vampire back to kill other innocents just because it looked like Willow.
    • Leaving Spike alive at all after his chipping despite his continuing attempts at killing the Scoobies (and others) and working with Adam to try to destroy them. The same could be said for the demons and vampires and Willie's Bar. And Caritas in Angel. There's a lot of hypocrisy in those series.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Dragonfire": The Doctor and the story treat Glitz as a Lovable Rogue to the point that Mel happily goes off with him, despite the fact that he sold his crew into slavery and that his response to the deaths of dozens, if not hundreds of innocent people is angry that his ship got blown up.
    • "Father's Day": Several viewers suggested that Rose was rather Easily Forgiven by the Doctor for saving her father from his death, just one episode after the Doctor kicked someone off the TARDIS for trying to change history for personal benefit, just as she did.
    • The Tenth Doctor deposing Prime Minister Harriet Jones in "The Christmas Invasion":
      • The Doctor himself is perfectly capable of committing mass murder against hostile alien species, has done so on numerous occasions, and would continue to do so.
      • In deposing Harriet Jones, the Doctor is violating his own often-stated moral standards of not interfering with major historical events or "fixed points in time" as they're called in this series. We had it on no less authority than the Doctor himself that Harriet Jones was supposed to have three successful terms as Prime Minister and lead Britain into a Golden Age. That sure as Hell sounded like a "fixed point in time" if there ever was one. But then she decided to have the retreating Sycorax killed in "The Christmas Invasion", and Ten got mad. Keep in mind that the aliens had already shown that at least their leader was not above being forced to surrender but instead trying to stab his enemy in the back when they lower their guard, which greatly weakens the Doctor's argument about attacking a retreating species whom was already more than willing to hold a planet at ransom. Furthermore, everything that's happened since then in the Whoniverse in regards to the British premiership — such as Mr. Saxon (aka the Master), and then Torchwood's Brian Green — that the Doctor didn't just change history, he also changed history for the worse!
    • Another example is when Ten gets furious at his clone for wiping out the Daleks in "Journey's End". Despite the fact that earlier in that series he had wiped out the Pyroviles, a much less objectionable species, to save humanity and in the process killed 20,000 innocent people, though this was a fixed point in time. Even more ridiculous as the Daleks had come close to destroying the entire universe, had only temporarily been beaten, and were the only ones destroyed by the clone!
    • "The Beast Below": The Doctor, while very upset at the time, tells Amy he's going to drop her back home after she waited 14 years to travel with him because she messes up in a relatively minor way on her first trip. To make matters worse, she only did so to try and prevent him from making a Sadistic Choice. Adam did far worse!
    • Then again, years later the Twelfth Doctor decides not to interfere with a point in time that's in flux in "Kill the Moon", and let humanity decide its own fate — leaving his companion Clara in charge, believing that she/humanity can and will make the best choice under the circumstances. She does, but then chews out and temporarily abandons him, leaving him friendless, for not just taking care of things himself! So much for not sticking his nose in where it doesn't belong. (In general, Twelve gets called out a lot more often for his more morally dubious actions and attitudes than his predecessors.)
    • Goes for everyone else, too: often the same characters Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like because it's interfering or even because having the ability to stop the crisis makes him too scary will stand silently by when he's actually doing some dark stuff.
  • The Flash (2014):
    • What establishes Griffin Grey as a villain is him kidnapping Harry Wells, which he did because he was dying and desperately wanted to find a cure. When Barry kidnapped someone (not a villain) for less understandable reason a few episodes earlier no one cared. Aside from that, in Season 1 Barry kidnaps a prisoner, forces him to be a whistleblower and when Barry is done with the prisoner, he leaves him as a fugitive (he was an Asshole Victim, but still).
    • In the Season 3 epìsodes with Gorilla Grodd, Barry is lectured by Iris and Harry that he shouldn't kill but be merciful and that he shouldn't ruin his purity. Except he was not so merciful with Atom Smasher and Sand Demon in Season 2, or Zoom in the finale.
    • Later, when dealing with the Thinker, Barry adamantly scolds rookie hero Ralph that they cannot kill him, because they're good guys and good guys don't kill. This is despite the aforementioned Zoom, Atom Smasher, and Sand Demon, as well as others they've killed in the past (Clyde Mardon, Savitar, Rival, etc).
  • On VH1's I Love New York, it's unforgivable to say something horrible about New York's mother Sister Patterson, but it's perfectly fine for her to insult a contestant's family members! There's a reason why Tango dumping her at the reunion show (because she insulted his mother).
  • Kirby Buckets: Did your sister play a gross prank on you? Unforgivable. Do you constantly make fun of her by drawing her as a hideous dinosaur with giant braces? Oh, that's perfectly fine.
  • The moral framework of Merlin (2008) was convoluted to say the least. Essentially, the show’s core conflict pitted an oppressed magical class against the powerful kings of Camelot, who enforced a genocidal regime against all those who practiced magic. The setup is that the protagonist Merlin must secretly use his magic to protect Arthur, The Chosen One who is destined to reign over a fair and just Camelot. Merlin gets this information from Kilgharrah, a prophetic dragon that Uther has chained up in the dungeons, who promises him that Arthur will lift the ban on magic and free Merlin’s people once he’s king. In light of the Grand Finale, two major problems emerge from this premise.
    1. The fact that Merlin blindly takes orders from the morally ambiguous Kilgharrah gets more and more exasperating at the series goes on. Among other things, the dragon holds back on vital information that nearly results in the death of Merlin’s mother, guns for the deaths of Mordred and Morgana before they’ve actually done anything wrong (and whose condemnation of them partially results in them becoming the antagonists that he initially warned Merlin against) and who at one point lays waste to Camelot once he’s freed from his chains, killing at least 76 people, and even taking a near-fatal swoop at Arthur.
      • Now, this wouldn’t be moral dissonance if Merlin acknowledged all this and cut ties with the dragon, but the bizarre thing is that no matter what Kilgharrah says or does, Merlin (and the narrative) continues to treat Kilgharrah as a font of wisdom and good advice. Even when his prophesies are flat-out contradicted by events, or when he clearly manipulates Merlin into doing something against his better instincts (which always leads to disaster) it’s simply ignored by Merlin, who continues to trust that Kilgharrah gives him sound information and guidance, calling him "old friend" on more than one occasion.
    2. Despite all of Kilgharrah’s prophesies that Arthur would be The Good King who lifts the ban on magic and allows everyone to live in peace and harmony – he’s not. Merlin and Arthur never actually get around to legalizing magic, much less integrating magic-users back into society, rendering all of Kilgharrah’s prophesies/Merlin’s efforts null and void. What we end up with is a hero who – instead of fighting the oppressive, genocidal regime he lived in – spent ten years actively supporting it, eliminating any threats to it, and protecting the two people who enforced it, in the hopes that one day things would get better simply because a manipulative, deceitful dragon told him it would. Since it doesn’t (at least not under Arthur’s reign, it’s confirmed by Word of God that Guinevere handled things much better after Arthur’s death), then all of Merlin’s methods in protecting Arthur and Camelot’s anti-magical stance are thrown into a highly questionable light.note  Also baffling is that Kilgharrah waxed lyrical about Arthur’s destiny as a fair and just king, even though he didn’t end up doing anything to improve the lot of magical folk, whilst simultaneously condemning Morgana as an evil witch, even though she was initially fighting for magical rights and was desperate to remove Uther from the throne – two of Kilgharrah’s own goals. You can’t help but feel that Kilgharrah was betting on the wrong horse, even though his frequent warnings to Merlin about Morgana’s imminent evil only resulted in Merlin isolating Morgana — one of the key factors in turning her against Camelot in the first place.
  • In Orphan Black, Paul seems to resent having been blackmailed into being Beth's monitornote . That does not stop him in the slightest from getting Olivier to help him cover up Helena's existence by threatening to reveal to the police that Olivier has outstanding warrants under his real identity.
  • Power Rangers:
    • In several incarnations the eponymous heroes are told (or even have it be part of their song lyrics) to only use their powers for defense. This explains why they never use the Megazord to stomp the monster before it grows (they won't risk the property damage until the enemy forces their hand) or why they never directly attack the villain's base (although they did so in Dino Thunder after they found its location). However, there have been more than a few occasions where they blew up the monster while it was helpless and in some cases practically begging for mercy. There's one particular instance in MMPR ("Two Heads Are Better Than One'') where the Red Ranger seems downright sadistic...
      Jason: Give up, birdbrain!
      Monster: (terrified squawks and "I surrender" gestures)
      Jason: Then we have no choice! (kills the monster)
    • In Power Rangers in Space, the Megazord goes completely medieval on Monster of the Week Clawhammer, who was attacking them, to be sure... but maybe ripping out his tendrils, kicking him repeatedly in the groin, and throwing him into lava was a tad excessive. Maybe whatever Clawhammer had done in the Super Sentai episode the fight footage came from was a lot more evil than his Power Rangers actions of simply being a literal Giant Mook. Even worse, Clawhammer was just a mindless alien predator that didn't even work for Astronema. Sure, you could blame Astronema for siccing the creature on the Rangers, but in the end, it was just someone who was dragged into the fight against its will. (As for the sentai version, the corresponding monster was created by the main villains, and was killed by being thrown into a volcano because he was made of a metal their weapons couldn't penetrate. Still no excuse for the tendril ripping and Groin Attack; it's not like he'd done something above and beyond the call of Monster of the Week nastiness. If there's such a thing as using excessive force against a monster trying to kill you, both teams used it that day.)
    • Later series have the Rangers being more likely to chase down and kill fleeing monsters that the original Rangers would have allowed to pull a Villain: Exit, Stage Left. Strangely, Power Rangers RPM isn't one, despite the higher consequences of letting a bad guy go free.
    • A horrible case in Power Rangers Wild Force. There Animus actually takes the Wildzords away because humans have polluted the planet (ignoring that the Orgs would probably win because of this and make the planet even worse). He does give them back eventually, claiming that it was a test for the Power Rangers but that ignores the fact that the Rangers had already been fighting the Orgs for quite some time before Animus did a thing to help them.
    • In season 2 of the original series, Bulk and Skull's efforts to learn the Rangers' identities result in several occasions of the heroes being complete dicks to them, maliciously destroying any evidence they got.
  • The BBC's Robin Hood often insists on a "no-killing" policy, telling his allies and enemies alike that he only kills people when absolutely necessary. This is a holdover from pretty much every version of the "original" mythos, where Robin did in fact insist on a strict policy of never killing, even in self-defense. In the BBC series, this alleged policy... is rubbish. By the end of the series, he has needlessly shot countless guards (often in the back), a mentally-deranged man who was holding his friend hostage (this was after trying to kill him earlier in the episode whilst he was unconscious), and a corrupt churchman who wasn't doing anything more threatening than just standing there making bitchy comments. The worst example is when he barges into a woman's bedroom to find that she's just killed her sadistic husband in self-defense. He grabs her around the throat and accuses her of murder, minutes after shooting dead an executioner who was just doing his job. The fact that the show had long since established Robin as a flawless archer means that all of these deaths could have easily been non-fatal injuries if he had so chosen.
  • Smallville is undoubtedly so full of them that one could spend hours yelling at the TV in frustration of Clark's repetitively poor and self destructive decisions. For example, he will often lecture other heroes, or Lois Lane, or earlier Lana, on how important honesty is, and in the case of the heroes, encouraging them to unmask themselves to their significant others, while causing huge problems and creating danger out the wazoo for his own while protecting his own secret. The entire Superman franchise is founded on this, however.
    • Apparently, it is not okay for Chloe to protect Clark's secret from Lana but it is okay for Lana to lock her into a freezing cellar to trick Clark into revealing his powers. She doesn't even know that he has Super Strength. She only witnessed his invulnerability (and she isn't even sure what she saw). She also does a lot of other stuff like holding Lionel captive, spying and almost killing Lex. Seriously, the only thing that stops her from being a complete unsympathetic villain is that Lex isn't exactly a nice person. She is still portrayed as Clark's perfect girlfriend.
    • A particularly infuriating example: Clark kicks Oliver out of the League for killing Lex, conveniently forgetting he had attempted to do the exact same thing. Twice. Even worse, Clark told Chloe about the first attempt, and Lana was there for the second. Not one of the three brings up this blatant hypocrisy, and opt to lecture him on how unheroic he's being instead. Because all ''true'' heroes break their own rules while enforcing them on others.
    • Lana having Lionel kidnapped and held hostage by a psychopath in retaliation for blackmailing her into marrying Lex despite knowing he did that for Clark's sake and had no other options. It was clearly done out of revenge, yet she insists she, in fact was protecting Clark knowing that isn't the truth.
    • The Justice League, especially Clark, treating Tess like family, despite her attempting to murder Chloe and Lana, and successfully murdering others, including Livewire, who was a mere car thief as opposed to the murderous supervillain she is in the comics, simply for defying her. Clark had personally promised Bette that Tess would pay for her crimes, only to forget that promise because he felt her heart was in the right place.
    • On that note, forgiving Ultraman, AKA Clark Luthor has to be the worst Moral Dissonance in the entire series, and that's saying something. To give you perspective on how evil he was, here's a quote summing him up in his own words: "It feels strange not to have blood on my hands before lunch." Even more baffling, he had done absolutely nothing remotely altruistic to redeem for the countless people he murdered, and showed no remorse for any of it. He even killed his world's version of Oliver Queen at the start of the episode he "redeems." Yet despite all that, Clark Kent feels he just needs someone to be nice to him to bring out the good he's chosen to ignore in his life of murder, and he gets away not only without any kind of punishment whatsoever, but apparently becomes Earth-2's greatest hero.
  • Stargate Atlantis has too many examples to list all of them here, but perhaps the worst is their treatment of the Wraith Michael. They kidnap him, subject him to medical experiments against his will to make him human, lost his memory, and mistrusted for reasons he didn't understand, and when his memories returned only to be rejected by the Wraith for having to been human. What happened when he tried to ally with Atlantis to perfect the retrovirus/biological weapon? They turn on him again first trying to turn him human again and then trying to kill him. Michael's crime to deserve this? He is part of a species that biologically is required to feed on humans (and only humans) to survive.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Sometimes, there's a moral double standard concerning faces and heels where faces can get away with things heels would be condemned for, such as assaulting non-wrestlers and cheating, even outside of the confines of the "Well, the heel started it" justification. A good example was at Backlash 2000 where The Rock and Triple H used very similar tactics but where Triple H was lambasted by Jim Ross on commentary for it (such as when he low blowed the Rock), the Rock was more or less given a pass whenever he skirted the rules (like low blowing Triple H) as acting "in desperation".
  • It's A-OK for Hornswoggle to get involved in other people's matches and wreck other people's stuff but when the heels finally put the little punk in his place we're supposed to believe they're the bad guys. Made even more disturbing when he interfered in that 8-diva tag match. He was trying to drag Layla under the ring and presumably have his way with her. Michelle saving her friend from getting raped by a leprechaun should get her a medal.
  • One Raw found Triple H at the mercy of Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch, when Brian Kendrick and Paul London (who were feuding with Cade & Murdoch at the time) ran out to rescue Hunter. How'd he repay London and Kendrick for the assistance? Pedigree to each of them, and the commentators just laughed it off and said they had it coming.
  • The Bella Twins switching before their Face–Heel Turn. The announcers called it "twin magic" and it was treated as fun and whimsical. Their feud with Jillian started because they pulled the switch on her in a match, unprovoked, yet Jillian was meant to have deserved it somehow.
  • In the spring of 2001, Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit were involved in a feud which included Benoit taking Angle's medals. Angle was a heel at the time, so everyone cheered. A few months later a heel "Stone Cold" Steve Austin would do the same exact thing, only this time it was Played for Drama.
  • AJ Lee was this trope cranked Up to Eleven in 2012, so much so that it started to come off as a Karma Houdini. A.J. emotionally manipulated CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and Kane for weeks on end, breeding needless animosity between them and putting their lives in danger at one point. She also accepted Daniel Bryan's marriage proposal, only to reveal at the last minute that it wasn't going to happen. After she was put in charge of the entire Monday Night Raw, she continued to do much of the above, plus acted as a petty tyrant who constantly put wrestlers she doesn't like (admittedly, they are heels, although it doesn't mean what it used to) into painful or humiliating situations just because she's offended by the word "crazy" (which these characters don't always use to refer specifically to her). Even CM Punk began calling her out for this behavior, only for the other "good" characters to simply dismiss him or call him out in turn. Through all of this, A.J. remained a de facto Face, with all of her Jerkass tendencies being handwaved as just A.J. being her naturally quirky self.

    It became egregious enough that wrote an article asking if she's unstable or power-hungry. Said article even singles out another fault; the night after SummerSlam 2012, AJ booked a rematch between Dolph Ziggler and Chris Jericho, and decided seemingly on a whim to put Ziggler's World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank contract and Jericho's job on the line. This was bad enough without adding (as the article explains) that she told Alberto Del Rio earlier in the night that she couldn't name him #1 contender for the World Heavyweight Championship because she didn't have jurisdiction over that title, as that was Booker T's territory on WWE SmackDown. Dolph won the match and Jericho went back to Fozzy, but AJ overreaching and almost screwing Dolph out of his dream chance was enough to rile up Vickie Guerrero, who never liked her in the first place, into campaigning to get her fired.
  • There's also plenty of this to find with John Cena and Sheamus. The most flagrant example in the former's case came in his feud against Rusev over the United States Championship. The story very obviously was that Rusev was an evil foreign heel and Cena was the All American Baby face, the rationale clearly being that anything that Cena did was good because Cena was the good guy. Which rang a little hollow, as Rusev was practically an anti-villain, whose most evil actions were clobbering a "soldier" plant who rushed him, winning his matches by beating up his opponents (which is how matches are supposed to be won), and talking trash in a wrestling ring (which is a traditional part of pro wrestling). The RAW after Rusev beat Cena at Fast Lane, when Rusev's valet, Lana, interfered in a match he was already handily winning, Rusev was walking backstage on his way out to the ring when Cena stopped him. Cena explained to Rusev that, in America, people have the right to free speech, but if Rusev said mean things about America, Cena would beat him up. Leaving aside Cena's complete lack of understanding of what a constitutional right is or how they work, what happened was even worse. Rusev did the usual foreign heel schtick of insulting America, Cena ran out and jumped him, beat him unconscious, and then put the unconscious Rusev in a submission hold until a crying Lana agreed to give Cena a rematch against Rusev, for the US Championship, at Wrestlemania. Note: Cena was ostensibly the babyface the audience was supposed to cheer for in this feud.
  • In a backstage segment on SmackDown in late 2007, Kristal Marshall was planning her wedding to General Manager Theodore Long and telling Torrie Wilson and Michelle McCool that she had chosen them as bridesmaids. Then Victoria (who was a heel for most of her WWE career, but highly respected by the fans for her wrestling prowess) showed up and expressed joy that she, too, might be made a bridesmaid. McCool promptly told Victoria that nobody would ever let her be a bridesmaid, which seemed excessively cruel. What made this worse were the Unfortunate Implications involved: Victoria could have already been seen as an outsider due to her large size (making her "fat" and "ugly" in the eyes of more petite Divas) and dark, vaguely "ethnic" appearance (part Turkish, Puerto Rican, and Italian, while Wilson and McCool are both blondes and even Marshall, who's black, has relatively light skin and almost blonde hair), making McCool's bullying arguably not only sadistic but a form of coded hate speech. This is only backed up by the fact that Victoria had been going through a gradual derailment into a Joke Character for years prior which showed no sign of stopping after this segment, and by the LayCool run over two years later in which McCool and Layla El would play the "callous bullying full of Unfortunate Implications" role straight as heels.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Whitewolf's Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game says the Blood elf Farstriders are Neutral Good but then goes on to say they lynch any troll they see, including the good Darkspear tribe! Afterwards Whitewolf says the Farstriders are the epitome of valiance and honor.
  • Marvel Super Heroes has in place of experience there are what is known as Karma points. which players receive at the end of every adventure chapter if they accomplished mission objective. Heroic characters lose karma by failing objectives or doing heinous things like killing (even villains, even by accident). In fact, characters will lose 'all' their accumulated Karma points if they kill someone, even a villain, even by accident. The game then makes a special exception for Wolverine in the Secret Wars adventure who "has no bad feelings about killing in combat. In this adventure, Wolverine suffers no Karma penalty for slaying an "Evil" opponent. Inform the player running Wolverine of this in his first fight. Wolverine will still lose Karma for killing heroes (including Magneto), or for letting innocents die." This exception effectively makes Wolverine a Game-Breaker character in this game as he doesn't need to follow the most important rule of it. Compare this with more conscientious heroes like Colossus and Cyclops who in the same adventure automatically lose 10 Karma points a day simply because they miss the people they love back on Earth. By making this exception the authors of the game have unintentionally rewarded Wolverine's Heroic Sociopathy and punished other heroes for having empathy!

    Video Games 
  • One particular example in World of Warcraft tends to portray graverobbers as villainous, but the players robbing the corpses of freshly killed soldiers, and in some cases, civilians, is considered OK.
    • Of course the guys (Consortium Ethereals) sending the players to kill said graverobbers (Shaffar's Ethereals) are outright graverobbers themselves and are blatantly stated to be sending the players to eliminate the competition. Additionally, at least one graverobber hangs a lampshade on the double standard:
      Adventurers are such hypocrites! Like YOU just FOUND your weapon on the side of the road!
  • Dragon Age II, the player has the option of hunting down mages or diplomatically talking them into returning to their confinement; equally unfortunately, the option to actually free them only appears once or twice. Hawke is either a mage or sheltering his/her mage sister through most of this. The dissonance is probably intended, and Hawke does get called in this by Anders if s/he is a mage and is opposing Anders' efforts to free mages.
  • Fallout 3:
    • The game has two side quests where you can help people with romantic complications. In Girdershade, Ronald Laren wants you to get him a full case of the rare Nuka-Cola Quantum so he can woo his neighbor Sierra, a die-hard fan of the stuff, and (he hopes) convince her to put out for him (even if you do so, she's such a Cloud Cuckoolander that she completely misunderstands his advances and nothing comes of it). This gives you bad karma. In Rivet City, Angela has the hots for young, celibate acolyte Diego, who has his heart set on becoming a priest and needs to stay celibate to qualify and be fully ordained. To "help" them, you have to provide Angela with the pheromones of a mutated ant queen which will make her literally irresistible for long enough to seduce Diego into a one-night stand... and once it wears off, he's kicked out of the priesthood and married off to Angela. Your "helpful assistance" nets you good karma. Help a man give a woman he likes a gift that respects her interests: evil. Help a woman drug and date rape a man, destroying his dreams because she wants him no matter what: good.
    • There's also the Tenpenny Tower mission. Roy Phillips and his followers are being denied permission to buy apartments because they're ghouls, and Alistair Tenpenny (owner of said tower) hates ghouls. As he storms off, Phillips makes various death threats against Tenpenny, and one of the three solutions to the quest is helping him murder everyone in the tower by unleashing a horde of ghouls into the building. The main reason the inhabitants don't like ghouls is because they think they're all mindless, murderous zombies, which is both a common stereotype in the Capitol Wasteland and is perfectly justified by Phillips' reaction. Similarly, even if he weren't a ghoul, he's willing to murder everyone in the tower (which includes the Retired Badass and kindly old man Herbert Dashwood) because they wouldn't let him buy/rent a room. For each of the other solutions, you convince the tower's inhabitants to give Roy a chance, and they let him in and give him a room... a few days later, he's murdered all the human inhabitants, and proved their bigotry right again. And if you kill this man who has proven himself to be a psychotic murderer and get caught, Three Dog declares you to be a monster and a bigot and gain bad karma. If the player convinces the Tower residents to let Phillips and his followers in, and kills him while not getting caught, his followers settle down and no further violence occurs, showing that he's the main cause of the conflict in the first place.
      • Making all of this even worse, Tenpenny Tower's owner Allistair Tenpenny has a questline where he asks you to detonate the atomic bomb in the town of Megaton because it's blocking his view; the game considers him Very Evil for this, putting him on par with slavers and cannibals. If the Ghouls take over the tower, Phillips will also want to nuke Megaton... but the game still considers him Good. Throwing it into even sharper relief, Tenpenny specifically wanted to evacuate Megaton's residents beforehand (it's his agent that Tenpenny hired for the matter that doesn't care for the residents), whereas Phillips is gleeful at the idea of wiping "that smoothskin shithole" and all its residents off the face of the Earth.
  • As Yahtzee points out in his review of Dead Rising 2, the game refers to one of its main antagonist groups as "looters," but at the same time, the player is encouraged to break open ATM machines and acquire wealth to buy Zombrex (from those same "looters"). At the very least it can be said in Chuck's defense that his motivation for looting is solely to acquire Zombrex for Katey and to aid survivors (or weapons to aid in his survival while finding Zombrex and saving survivors) while the "looters" appear to simply be in it to sate their own greed or For the Evulz.
  • A particularly infuriating example in Chrono Cross: early on, you hear about the dwarves inhabiting Hydra Marshes in Home World. Later on, the Hydra is killed by humans, which kills the marshes and drives the dwarves out. Some time later, your party goes to Water Dragon Isle and discovers the dwarves are slaughtering the fairies to give themselves a new home. When you finish off the dwarf chieftain, he calls Serge out on the death of the Hydra, asking why humans can't just live in harmony with other species - never mind that the dwarves just massacred the fairies!! One dwarf actually says: "You do not cherish the treasures of nature as we do!" while the ground nearby is littered with the corpses of the fairies they just slaughtered. After you stop the dwarves, do the surviving faeries thank you for saving their lives? Nope, they blame the whole mess on humans for having driven the dwarves out of their swamp in the first place, as opposed to the dwarves who were committing genocide for the sake of stealing someone else's lands. The dwarves even give their big speech about nature, immediately after their battle tank is defeated by the party.
  • In Touhou: Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, when Rumia points out to Reimu that she had seen humans working at night, Reimu explicitly says to Rumia that she can have them for dinner if she really wants. That's not really hero-like since Reimu's job is about fighting youkai to protect humans. As revealed later down the line however, there is a good reason for this behavior. Reimu's job is not to protect humans from youkai, rather she is a sort of manager of balance as well as an enforcer for Gensokyou's hidden rules that normal humans are not privy to.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: When Jedi become player characters in an MMORPG, a certain amount of Moral Dissonance is probably inevitable. Yoda said that a Jedi would use the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack, but in TOR, one routinely sees Jedi hunting down and slaughtering beings that pose no threat to them whatsoever, just so the Jedi can gain experience to advance to the next level.
  • The Paladin in Quest for Glory IV refuses to smash open a cabinet because it's dishonorable to vandalize other people's property. However, he is quite willing to burn down the entire building that the cabinet is in, because it's a monastery to an Eldritch Abomination.
  • Mass Effect 2: The paragon option has Commander Shepard condemning looting as immoral. This is so at odds with gameplay, which all but requires taking everything of value that isn't nailed down (even in the very apartment said looter were busy clearing), nor penalize it with the Karma Meter, it's almost funny. As a Citadel SPECTRE, Shephard does have legal authorization to perform "on the spot requisitions" if it will assist in their missions, but this is never given as a reason. Mass Effect: Andromeda puts Ryder in a similar position, except they're called out on it.
  • In Chillingo's Modern Command for IOS and Android, your counter-terrorist organization battles terrorists and dictators to stop them from conquering the world. Nice... but your group often fights by bombarding the enemy with poison gas and napalm rockets (the best and most advanced missile in the game has an ionically-charged incendiary warhead) plus you can use the occasional nuclear strike and ion beam satellite. Your group is also conquering the world and one source of income is charging protection money on the countries you liberate.
  • The quote at the top comes from a playthrough of the reboot of the Dead to Rights franchise, Dead To Rights: Retribution, where the protagonist, Jack Slate, is decrying his new enemy, the militaristic GAC police squad, as monsters for not doing arrests or interrogations and just running in, shooting everyone and everything. Only one problem: that completely describes Jack. Even when Jack towards the end of the game decides he is going to play by the book and arrest his enemy, he does so by mowing through dozens of attackers in ludicrous fashion just to get to him. It can be heard here.
  • As Awkward Zombie pointed out, the good guys in the Advance Wars series (pre-Days of Ruin, anyway) are quite cheerful and moral, often lambasting the bad guys for their lack of respect for life... and then turn around and, with their usual casual air, have "practice battles" with each other that appear to use live ammo, sending their own men to a pointless battle just because the good guys want to settle a bet or because they're bored.
  • During the climatic alignment choice in Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse there is a case of Heel–Face Brainwashing involved regardless of choice made. The context for each side however varies a bit. In the Massacre route Dagda revives and brainwashes Flynn into being subservient to Nanashi. This is treated as a despicable act by all who sees the end result. In the Bonds route Danu recreates Dagda in such a way that he is subservient to her while killing the original. This is treated as the right thing to do with no one questioning the act and it is promptly never mentioned again.
  • The Assassins are really prone to this in the Assassin's Creed series. Though claiming to be a secret society devoted to achieving peace through individual freedom and personal responsibility, over the ages they found themselves siding with expansionist and dominating powers in their goals to stop the Templars, such as brokering a truce with Ottoman Empire in Assassin's Creed: Revelations which in turn sent Wallachian assassin Vali cel Tradat and the Shia Turkman Shahkulu into the arms of the Templars. This is discussed in Assassin's Creed: Rogue when Shay asks Liam how can the Order support France during the Seven Years' War while at the same time they have slaves in Haiti, which contradicts with their creed.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: One of the quests for the Thieves Guild involves taking down a rival Guild known as the Summerset Shadows; a big deal is made of how they murder their marks and rob the dead, which is used to make them look eviler than the Thieves Guild (who enforce Thou Shall Not Kill), to the point black market seller Niranye is disgusted by them and happily sells them out to the Guild. Of course, this being a fantasy RPG, your own character probably is killing and robbing the corpses of his enemies on regular basis when not on Guild business, it not robbing ancient tombs, with nobody battling an eye at this. They only care if you kill someone on the clock.

  • Brought up in one Gone with the Blastwave strip. See, one of the main characters reprimands the other for making speeches about what's moral, while still finding the deaths of others amusing. The other soldier denies this accusation, but almost falls to the ground in fits of laughter when his companion points to a couple of legs sticking out from beneath the rubble of a ruined building... The moral of the strip turns out to be: If you find the deaths of others to be funny, don't reprimand others for their lapses in morality.
  • Drowtales has an episode where the protagonist Ariel, despite eventually growing to oppose the institution of slavery, evolve some sort of morality and turning to a Designated Hero, visits a surface colony (i.e. a Hermione village massacred and taken over) and has sex with her crush. During the blissful after-sex sleep they are woken up to a counterattack by desperate Hermione raiders coming to save their kin imprisoned in buildings who will be sold to slavers. The attackers are defeated, mocked and vilified for trying to save their kin from a lifetime of slavery while Ariel cheerfully ignores the villagers showing the Hermione captives who will be sold to slavers later on. To the earlier episodes where Ariel started to change into a hero challenging decadent oppression of the nobility, it looked like an episode to show how human subspecies were pitiful compared to Drow.
  • In Terinu, the main cast shoot down attacking Galapados warriors with no remorse, even blasting a breeding facility without a qualm to cover their escape. An act that is immediately inverted when the Galapados leader contradicts the Big Bad's orders to go after them, in order to save the dying Galapados clones.

    Web Original 
  • In many Go Animate "Grounded" videos, a character can do whatever they want regardless if it's unlawful or if it would get someone grounded/arrested as long as it's done towards the troublemaker. For instance, in this video, Caillou pulls out a lightsaber and threatens to kill his teacher with it. In response, one student pulls a gun on Caillou. In another video, Caillou gets his sister arrested for littering. She escapes jail and returns home and gets him grounded.

    Western Animation 
  • In Beast Wars, when Blackarachnia eventually joins the Maximals, she strenuously objects to having her Predacon shell program removed on the grounds that it would make her something other than what she is. Come Beast Machines, she herself reformats the Vehicon general with Silverbolt's spark despite him giving the same objection. He doesn't take it well. Though these two things sort of explain each other. Blackarachnia still has Predacon programming, thus allowing her to be an unrepentant Hypocrite. She wants Silverbolt back so she's going to get him back (there are numerous other issues that also cloud the whole thing, such as whether Blackarachnia was self-aware before she was reformatted as a Predacon, while Silverbolt was undoubtedly a person with a personality before being reformatted into a Vehicon.)
  • South Park:
    • In "Toilet Paper" the boys feel guilty about letting Butters take the blame for what they did. They have no such qualms in "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs" when they attempt to blame Butters for writing the book when they think it'll get them in trouble and when they blame Sarah Jessica Parker's death on him.
    • In "The Biggest Douche in the Universe" John Edward is declared a douche because he is holding back humanity's progress through false hope and lies and telling people how to live their lives. Yet one season later in "All About Mormons" Stan is declared an asshole for insulting Gary's religion which he himself admits is likely false on the basis that it provides good moral lessons.
    • In "With Apologies to Jesse Jackson", Stan learns that it's impossible for a historically privileged group like white people to truly understand the experience of a historically oppressed group like black people, and therefore it's okay for words like "nigger" to be off-limits regardless of context because they serve as an unpleasant reminder of the harsh realities of racism. Two seasons later in "The F Word", he and the rest of the boys teach the adults of the town that using the word "fag" is okay as long as it's not used in a hateful way toward gay people, because the meanings of words change all the time. And it has nothing to do with the fact that Trey Parker and Matt Stone use the word like punctuation and don't want to take the trouble to re-learn their habits.
    • In Butt Out, it was okay that tobacco companies rely on addicts to get their products to make a profit since they're making the choice to buy the product. In Freemium Isn't Free, micropay games were condemned for exploiting people with addiction problems to make money and is compared to the alcohol industry.
  • Parodied and lampshaded in the Time Squad episode "Ivan the Untrainable".
    Larry: You can't just kidnap people from history and treat them like some kind of pet!
    Tuddrussell: Well, what about Otto?
    Larry: Ooh... Well, you can't keep kidnapping people from history...
  • In the Hero Factory episode "Invasion from Below", Hero Natalie Breez discovers that the beasts are only attacking the city because a drilling operation has disturbed their nest, and that they are actually sentient, sapient beings. After Breez makes peace with them, a stray gunshot fired by an stepped-on weapon causes the beasts to attack again. This time, the Heroes don't bother with reasoning, instead they kill them all, unhatched eggs included. The end of the episode finds our Heroes celebrating and being celebrated, with Breez joining in on the party.
  • Admittedly, not THAT much dissonance in Pichas adult comedy The Big Bang when the intergalactic hero who was sent out to stop nuclear war on Earth pushes the red button himself for scorned love. Since that "hero" is a complete twit, we almost expected something like that coming...
  • The heroes of The Dreamstone are placed as being rather messianic and good willed. However their feud with the Urpneys is almost completely reliant on them having No Sympathy, disregarding them being Press-Ganged and murdered by Zordrak and gleefully using Disproportionate Retribution at every turn (this all being on the principle they try to give them bad dreams, no less). Later episodes try to tone this down (or at least justify it from their side) but their attitude, especially towards Frizz and Nug, still leans far more into Pragmatic Hero territory than the narrative suggests.
  • The Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy cartoon "Talk It Up, Pup" has Augie refusing to talk to Doggie Daddy for 24 hours after he calls Augie out on strikes to end a little league baseball game, believing that nepotism should have prevailed on his behalf. When Doggie Daddy's attempts to get Augie to talk land him in the hospital, Augie still stays silent—until the 24 hours are up.
  • Hank in King of the Hill is regularly taken advantage of by dishonest business men. One episode has him use Khan's manic depression to his advantage. He convinces Khan to stop taking his medication in the hopes that his "manic" bouts will let him finish building a grill in time for an event at his job, knowingly leaving his friend in crushing depression the other half of the time for his own benefits.


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