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Necessarily Evil

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"When I hit bottom, I was crushing man's skull like sparrow's egg between my thighs... and I think, why you have to be so bad, Zangief? Why can't you be more like good guy? Then I have moment of clarity... if Zangief is good guy, who will crush man's skull like sparrow's eggs between thighs? And I say, 'Zangief, you are bad guy! But this does not mean you are bad guy.'"

A villain may believe that the Ends (involving a Utopia or the survival of the species) justify the Means, but either has in no way lost his conscience, or otherwise had a Heel Realization during his deluded time. He knows full well that what he's doing is evil and that heroes may try to bring him to justice for his crimes. He may in fact be counting on it, feeling it to be a just punishment for what he feels he must do. He may bear the heroes no ill will, and may instead commend them for trying to stop him.

Oftentimes, in the event that he succeeds in his goal, he will flat-out refuse to take part in his newfound paradise: the things that he did to create it are inexcusable in the new society.

This is the more Anti-Villain version of the Well-Intentioned Extremist. Likewise, the Knight Templar often sees themself as this. They will regularly Shoot the Dog and carry out a Zero-Approval Gambit. A Necessarily Evil villain is, by definition, AWARE that what they're doing is wrong. Otherwise you have a Tautological Templar.

He does what he has to do, because he knows that something far worse will happen if he doesn't. He knows he must pay the price for his deeds, but not before his goals are accomplished. What a Senseless Waste of Human Life... In some cases, said actions may be unnecessary towards that goal, and there may be a better option, but the character is either too far gone in morality or sanity to see the light. If they realize the suffering they caused, they could very well conclude that what they did was Not Quite the Right Thing and regret it for the rest of their life.

This trope inspires a tremendous amount of Values Dissonance in Real Life. Some believe firmly that certain immoral actions can be 'necessary', and others believe that thinking of evil acts as 'necessary' encourages amoral behavior and creates considerable unnecessary suffering.

The polar opposite of the Sociopathic Hero. See also I Did What I Had to Do and Token Evil Teammate. For mundane examples, see Cruel to Be Kind.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan thrives on people doing horrible deeds in the hopes of good outcomes.
    • Bertolt Hoover confesses to knowing his actions can never be forgiven and expresses remorse, but states he can't accept a Last-Second Chance because his mission has to be done. Since he's a Tyke Bomb clearly afraid of failing his superiors, how true this actually turns out to be is questionable.
    • Djel Sanes claims that all the torturing and murdering done by the Secret Police is necessary, to uphold the peace within the Walls.
    • The military commanders Erwin Smith and Dot Pixis are well aware their actions make them general rippers but believe they need to sacrifice that many soldiers for the sake of humanity's survival.
    • Eren Yeager himself takes up this role once Marley decides to declare war on Paradis Island, realizing that the Fantastic Racism in the whole world is so deeply ingrained, there's no way for his people and loved ones to be free and safe unless everyone outside the walls get exterminated.
  • In the back story of Battle Angel Alita: Last Order, this attitude is essentially responsible for the state of the world. Arthur, the leader of humanity After the End establishes a totalitarian dictatorship with the goal of ensuring that the catastrophe that nearly left humanity extinct doesn't happen again, mobilizing all of Earth's remaining resources to achieve spaceflight and colonize the stars. He recognizes this as evil, and potentially the wrong decision, and leaves behind a means to end the undying dictatorship he created.
  • Bleach:
  • Captain Bravo of Buso Renkin descends into this when he accepts the order to kill Kazuki before he completely Victorizes (A process they did not know could be arrested or reversed at the time). He even freely admits that this is a war crime that he will have to answer for once the war is over.
    Captain Bravo: I am going to terminate Kazuki and then defeat Victor. I will do my duty as Captain Bravo, the Warrior Chief. And then, as Mamoru Sakimori, I will pay for what I have done... by ending my own life.
  • A Certain Magical Index: An Anti-Magical Faction known as the "Church of Necessary Evil", or Necessarius, for short, practices magic of its own, seeing it as a necessary evil to defeat sorcery. Also, they do a crapton of bad shit, like wipe this one girl's memory. Repeatedly. To prevent her from becoming a goddess. And this whole situation was intentionally created... by them. In order to create an anti-magic weapon.
  • Code Geass:
    • Lelouch, The Protagonist, openly admits that he's doing reprehensible things in pursuit of noble goals (bringing down The Empire and making the world a better place for his Morality Pet sister). This is pointed out in an early second season episode where he engages in a short Break Them by Talking to Honor Before Reason Guilford about the best way to confront an overwhelming evil. In the end he has himself killed to create world peace; whilst he never explains (to the viewer) exactly why he did it, the implication is that it was as redemption for the sins he committed during the course of the series.
      Lelouch: What do you do when there is an evil you cannot defeat by just means? Do you stain your hands with evil to destroy evil? Or do you remain steadfastly just and righteous even if it means surrendering to evil? [...] In my case, I commit evil to destroy the greater evil!
    • In the latter parts of the series after Suzaku has his Heel Realization moment he attempts to kill his benefactor for the last year, and then helps his best, and probably only, friend in the world, become evil dictator of the world, then kill him. And having done that, he must sacrifice his identity as Suzaku and live as Zero for the rest of his life.
  • Amber in Darker than Black is leading a sort of La Résistance against The Syndicate, having learned that they're planning to kill off every single Contractor by destroying the Gate. Unfortunately, the only permanent solution for that is to have BK-201 seal the area around the Gate, which would wipe Japan off the map. Being a Contractor, she has no qualms about it, but when presented with another option, is willing to Ret-Gone herself to make it work.
  • Death Note: Light Yagami starts out this way, determined to sacrifice himself for the greater good. However, less than a week later he's squeeing over his promotion to Godhood. It doesn't keep him from occasionally toying with the concept of himself as selfless and self-sacrificing though, and in his climactic Motive Rant, he claims that his ascent to Godhood and becoming Kira was a purely selfless and altruistic act on his part.
    Light: This world is rotten, and those who are making it rot deserve to die. Someone has to do it, so why not me? Even if it means sacrificing my own mind and soul, it's worth it. Because the world can't go on like this.
  • Dragon Ball Super: How Zamasu initially justifies his plans of mortal genocide and every heinous act he commits, up to and including slaughtering the other gods as well; yes, what he's doing is evil, but as far as he's concerned, his actions are necessary to bring about a greater good. Eventually, he spirals and it becomes clear that his actions aren't about justice and order, but about ridding The Multiverse of everything he sees wrong and imperfect... which is basically everyone and everything but himself.
  • Dr. Kabapu from the Excel♡Saga manga claims to be this by seeking to destroy all Overtechnology left behind by the Solarian civilization in order to avoid the End of the World as We Know It repeating itself. However, it conveniently puts him in a position of power in Fukuoka City and sets him against his age-old nemesis Lord Il Palazzo, so it's less than clear whether his words, or Il Palazzo's for that matter, can be trusted.
  • Kiritsugu Emiya of Fate/Zero lives by this trope, although he is an extreme Anti-Hero rather than a villain. After his failure to kill one person his first crush, turning into a vampire destroyed the entire population of his home, he was willing to kill one person his father, continuing experiments that create vampires to ensure the destruction wouldn't spread. He lives by a harsh code of utilitarian ethics- killing the few to save the many. His ultimate goal is world peace, and he is willing to do anything to achieve it. As he himself says:
    "Even if I am to carry "all the evils of this world", it won't matter. If that can save the world, then I'd gladly accept it."
    • He has a breakdown at the very end of the series when his attempt to destroy the Grail causes far more destruction and death, realizing that everything he did was pointless — not "necessarily" evil at all, just evil. He barely avoids falling into despair by rescuing and raising the lone survivor of the disaster: Shirou, the hero of Fate/stay night.
  • Future Diary: This is how Yukiteru views himself, once he decides to actively take part in the Survival Game. Prior to that, the only people he killed were in direct self-defense. As he begins killing in order to win the game, he justifies it by saying that once he's become the new god, he can resurrect everyone he's killed and give them happy lives. Cruelly enough, he finds out far too late that even God can't bring back the souls of dead people. He doesn't take this news well.
  • Gundam:
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Treize Kushrenada and Milliardo Peacecraft start a war to show humanity just how senseless war really is. Treize actually goes so far as to commit to memory the names of every single one of his deceased pawns, to show that he doesn't take their sacrifices lightly.
      • In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz meanwhile, the Preventers are essentially seen as this. Relena and her supporters in the Earth Sphere Unified Nation know that even in a world without war, there would still be battles. And thus view the need for an armed military force both to keep potential hotspots from escalating into another conflict and keep the more military-minded members of her own government pleased.
    • Another example is the side of Mobile Suit Gundam 00's Celestial Being represented by the Ptolemaios crew. They are fully aware of the hypocritical and outright contradictory nature of their mission statement to end war through war, with some even admitting that they make for excellent terrorists. However, it turns out that the Ptolemaois crew is played for exactly the same reason; they themselves are rendered a hypocritical foe by the very same organization for whom they supposedly work. It works out, somehow.
    • The ECOAS special forces (aka, the "Manhunter" unit) in Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn are this. Compared to their Londo Bell counterparts, they have no qualms doing shady wetwork or questionable actions in getting the job done. But what stops them from turning out just like the Titans is that they are all well-meaning professionals to a man who are utterly aware that what they're doing is dubious at best, but nonetheless accept the necessity.
  • The Iscariot Organization in Hellsing. Their Badass Creed is them chanting how they will follow the disciple Judas in following God's plan through the means of sin and betrayal, and that they will march into hell to do battle with its demons when they die.
  • In Izure Shinwa No Ragnarok, the organization, Eucharista, had to create a battlefield for the warring gods and provide them with suitable human hosts in order to limit their destruction to a tiny island.
  • This is the attitude that the protagonists of Knight Hunters take toward their work as assassins. They kill criminals who are above the law in order to help protect the innocence of normal people, while acknowledging that they themselves are also criminals and murderers, and expecting to be punished for it someday. Even their voice actors, one of whom is the creator of the series, do not expect their characters to meet good ends.
  • Okiura from Kobato. is pretty clearly evil. He's with the yakuza, and using threats and underhanded tactics to force his own ex-wife Sayaka to shut down the preschool she's taught at all her life to collect on a debt she inherited from her father the former owner. That's Disney evil. It's later revealed that he's afraid that the yakuza will hurt Sayaka, and has been working from the inside to buy her as much time and safety as possible. He doesn't have the authority to call off the others, and he knows if she sells the building, she'll be safe. And better he shatter her dreams than the yakuza shatter her limbs. He does his best to appear cold and villainous in an attempt to push her into selling, and accepts that while he might be saving her life, Sayaka will probably never love him again.
  • Paul von Oberstein from Legend of the Galactic Heroes is a Necessarily Evil strategist who seeks to overthrow the Decadent Court of The Empire (which he belongs to), at any cost. At one point, he allows two million people to die in an atomic attack he was forewarned about, simply because having it happen would discredit the nobles and help Reinhard take control of the empire. He is fully aware that he must be Reinhard's Psycho Supporter and in many ways plays the 'lightning rod', letting the negative public opinion focus on himself instead of Reinhard.
  • Naruto
    • Itachi murdered his entire clan save for his brother Sasuke and lived out the rest of his life as a traitor hated by everyone in order to prevent a war. He planned to die by Sasuke's hand since the beginning.
    • Danzo considers himself this and is a deconstruction, claiming the ninja world must unite, and there's no time to do it morally. Some of his actions such as helping Hanzo out with Akatsuki as well as his approach to matters led to making problems much worse, most notably leading Kabuto to the beginning of his criminal career. Not to mention the fact that his actions drove Nagato into becoming Pain, who would level Konoha to the ground and kill over half the village's population in one fell swoop (granted, he revived them all but still, the people have to rebuild the village from scratch).
    • Nagato, Tobi, and Madara also considered themselves this to varying extents, all of them being Well-Intentioned Extremists who lean very heavily on the extreme side. All of them were manipulated, directly or indirectly, by Zetsu on behalf of the ''true' Big Bad, Kaguya.
  • Marder from Panzer World Galient gladly wears the "evil overlord" hat, for the sake of going back to his home planet and use chaos and destruction to wake up his compatriots from their extremely dull, boring and lifeless utopia.
  • Sailor Moon: Sailors Uranus and Neptune consider their actions necessary but not worthy of forgiveness. They are revealed to have pure hearts midway through.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann does this with both major villains. The Anti-Spiral, the main villain of the second arc and the Greater-Scope Villain of the first, oppresses civilizations across the galaxy and prevents them from growing. This is because, if left unchecked, these civilizations will harness Spiral Energy to grow without limit, thus creating a premature heat death of the universe known as the Spiral Nemesis. Lordgenome, the first arc's main villain, used to fight on behalf of humanity's growth, but after he learned about the Spiral Nemesis he aligned himself with the Anti-Spiral, oppressing Earth and forcing humanity underground. Under the Anti-Spiral's rule, if at least a million humans live on Earth then the moon will fall and destroy the planet; Lordgenome uses his Beastman army to stifle the human population, oppressing them to prevent this destruction.

    Comic Books 
  • Ozymandias in Watchmen constructs himself as Necessarily Evil in his final conversation with Dr. Manhattan, justifying murdering millions of people with his success in preventing further escalation of the Cold War and claiming 'he has made himself to feel every death'. He is never brought to justice for his acts and the comic does not judge either way, leaving the readers to make up their own minds on the subject. A throwaway comment that references the Black Freighter comic implies that, ultimately, he has availed nothing.
  • This is Jason Todd's original characterization and goal post-resurrection - he believes there is no way to stop crime legally, so he aims to control all the crime in Gotham instead and quell the worst the city has to offer on threat of death. Batman essentially counters that instead of saving Gotham by controlling crime, he's making things worse and driving the city into a gang war and, naturally, a fight ensued. Afterwards, Depending on the Writer, he either kept this characterization or descended into more insane revenge schemes (until the New 52 happened and he went back to being a hero).
  • Alter from Y: The Last Man, after dealing with internal discord in Israel thanks to an abrupt end to their conflict with Palestine, concludes an outside enemy is necessary to distract them and engineers a conflict with America. This is later revealed to be a cover for her real plan to be killed by Yorick.
  • Magneto, who over time has oscillated between hero and villain a few times, is perhaps written most convincingly this way. A classic example occurs in Uncanny X-Men #275 (written by Chris Claremont). Confronting a Russian colonel trying to kill him to avenge the death of his son (who died when Magneto sank a nuclear submarine 125 issues earlier), he admits he considers himself damned as well. And later he insists on killing world-threatening supervillainess Zaladane even though this means that he will now have to part ways with Rogue, with whom he had just started sharing romantic feelings. (See the Quotes sub-page).
  • Chris Claremont also insists that everything Mystique did before Irene's death was to prevent prophesied worse evil from taking place if she didn't.
  • Galactus, the Marvel Universe eater of worlds is needed for the survival of the universe... but only because if he dies, than something even worse will take his place. And unlike Galactus, it won't just drain some planets of life after giving its inhabitants a heads-up that their world's about to be eaten, it would just destroy everything in the universe. His role as a necessary evil became a very big problem (well, bigger than usual) when he ended up being teleported into the Ultimate Universe. The Ultimate version of Galactus is a Hive Mind being that isn't required like mainstream Galactus is, but mainstream Galactus was so trained to his job of eating planets, that he refused to listen to reason and set about trying to eat Ultimate Earth and other inhabited planets... after taking control of the Ultimate Galactus and making himself even more powerful!
  • In the DCU, Amanda Waller's original characterization. One storyline had the Suicide Squad being forced into disbanding. Amanda's response: hijack three of the prisoners who made up the Squad, offer them their freedom in exchange for their cooperation, brutally massacre the gang of thugs who had set in motion the disbanding (and who were preparing to release a flood of zombifying drugs onto the streets)... and then turn herself in to face trial. Going further, she refused to use her knowledge of American espionage to get a better deal, reasoning that they'd dig her out if they ever needed her again. She ended up spending a year in prison.
  • The ending of V for Vendetta features this trope, though it's the protagonist who realizes that he can't live in the utopia he's spent the entire book trying to birth.
  • In Cable & Deadpool, Cable endeavors to unite the world against a devastating enemy — himself. The idea being, with his powers spiraling out of control and becoming a threat, everyone would team up and kill him, and then feel guilt for doing so, as his public plan is to establish an island utopia. Later in the same book, he aids the revival of Apocalypse so the decimated mutant race would have an enemy to unite against.
  • The reason Wolverine is recruited by Iron Man and Captain America to join the New Avengers is that he would be able (and willing) to kill if necessary, whereas the rest of the team wouldn't.
  • Nick Fury, Marvel's resident Spy Master is often a jerkass who performs morally questionable, but necessary actions due to the grey world he lives in.
  • This is precisely why The Kingpin is still in business and also the reason why no one has made any serious attempts to get rid of him for good. If someone ever actually did kill him or ruin him so thoroughly that he had no hope of ever rebuilding his empire, the resulting power vacuum would lead to an innumerable amount of low-level crime lords fancying themselves the next Kingpin going to war with one another over his spot, and the carnage that would result would be far greater than Fisk could ever dream of causing himself. Or for that matter, would dream of causing, because that kind of mass carnage would hurt his profit margins. He knows this, Spider-Man and Daredevil know this... hell, just about everyone who could remove him from power knows this, and they sure as hell aren't about to disregard it. Hell, even the Punisher won't take a run at the Kingpin, which says a lot. It's not that Frank doesn't want Fisk dead, he just knows that he's already got his hands full and taking down Fisk is going to increase his workload exponentially.
  • Mephisto from the Marvel Universe often comes across as this. Hell is a necessary part of the universe. It inevitably corrupts any good person who tries to rule it, the exception being Noble Kale, who was the result of a centuries long gambit by Uri-El to get rid of Mephisto for good. Any attempts at reform fail, even Kale ruling hell benevolently got him kicked back to Earth by demons that wanted Mephisto back. And any other hell lord besides Mephisto tends to be worse. So for better or worse heroes will sometimes work with Mephisto to restore him to his throne since someone has to do the job as Lord of Evil and keep worse hell lords in check.
  • And Then Emily Was Gone: Bonnie Shaw takes the child of whoever makes a deal with him. He tells Hellinger that if he doesn't, the whole universe will collapse.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm: Doctor Strange is an incredibly ruthless Manipulative Bastard, a schemer without equal, who uses his time travelling and incredibly powerful precognitive abilities to arrange the entire plot of the series - with one or two notable exceptions, when someone manages to impede his powers. This involves making heroes and villains alike dance on his puppet-strings, even when they know that they're there because he's got them so thoroughly wrapped up, and a lot of blood on his hands - there's no end to the horrible things that he has done and has allowed to happen. Not only does this not make him particularly popular, he sadly observes that for all his good intentions and attempts at kindness, he is no longer all that different from most of the enemies he fights. The main mitigating factors are that he never wanted to be what he is (that happened largely because of a deal with the Time Stone - which could be a Deal with the Devil or Bargain with Heaven, depending on how you look at it), he's doing all of this to defeat Thanos, and that he's deadly determined that no one should turn out like him.
  • Code Prime: Optimus admits he doesn't want to fight Megatron and would gladly be willing to end the war between the Autobots and Decepticons peacefully, but so long as Megatron remains a power-hungry tyrant, that will never happen. Suzaku takes issue to this, due to believing that all violence is pointless.
  • Thunderhide in Equestria: A History Revealed fully understands that he is walking in the path of evil in joining Luna in the Equestrian Civil War, but sees it as necessary to accomplish his aims of political change. However, he chooses not to fully go off the deep end, treats his occupied cities well, and surrenders once he realizes the war is over. He even presents his point of view in the Trial at Fillydelphia, to explain how a pony of his esteemed position would choose to fall so low.
  • Black Rose's motive as the Big Bad of Visiden Visidane's Upheaval: Reckoning. Her plan is to play an "Evil™" mortal trying to take over Equestria and the Eternal Herd only to be stopped by the Elements Of Harmony, thus utterly dispelling any misgivings the Eternal Herd has about mortal ponies, allowing them to join forces with Equestria against a larger threat instead of trying to destroy both sides on the assumption they're one and the same. And if the Mane 6 fail, then after they are "slowly and painfully" destroyed, she'll play the tyrant to create a scenario that will force the Elements to realize their true potential and ultimately defeat her, allowing Equestria to be ready at last.
  • While Captain Jarvis in The Return sees himself as evil for what he does, really he is just Necessarily Evil, this doesn't really reassure him. A lot of what Willard International Consulting does could fall under this trope due to existing in a Grey-and-Gray Morality series.
  • In the Finale of Uplifted: Arrival, the quarians and the Wehrmacht provisional government reluctantly come to terms that they cannot spend the next few decades hunting down and killing the fleeing Nazis. So instead they make a deal with the highest ranking Nazi they permit to escape justice: They will be free to run so long as they make themselves useful to their bottom line. The Third World suffers for it.
  • In Only the Good Die Young, an angelic Xander is Resurrected for a Job to do this. The Sailor Senshi's plan to save humanity (by killing off anyone evil) will eventually doom it so Xander has to play the villain and stop them.
  • More sympathetic portrayals of Clu in TRON: Legacy fanfics will point out that the system really was falling apart under the strain of the Isos and Flynn's gross incompetence as a deity in the Betrayal comic, and that the Admin Program was given an impossible directive, which drove him somewhat insane.
  • In the Cuphead fan comic from DeviantArt, "Cagney Is a Carnation" by fuyuflowga, Cagney Carnation has lost everyone he cared for, and his friends have shunned him for signing his Soul Contract that the Devil has offered him in his attempt to save his adopted flower children, and he feels so unloved. When Cagney discovers that the sibling protagonists Cuphead and Mugman are being forced to do the Devil's bidding by taking the Soul Contracts from other inhabitants who have lost but don't want to work for him, the flower makes sure that the brothers won't have to go through the same fate he's been through. Although he wants to hand over his Soul Contract, he can't do it easily for fear that the boys will be denounced as the Devil's lackeys, so he instead has to fight them in a battle to the death, knowing that his death means that he'll be free from servitude to the Devil. He even goes so far as to murder Mugman in his effort to spur Cuphead to retaliate and destroy Cagney for the contract. (Both Mugman and Cagney get better after a hard battle.) In the end, Elder Kettle and Cagney commend the boys for having beaten the Devil and destroying the Soul Contracts (the flower moreso commending them for their battle for his contract), then cook up lunch and explain the situation afterwards. In an Earn Your Happy Ending moment, Cagney gets his friends and the flower children back, in which he has finally found love and his will to live again.
  • In Kimi No Na Iowa, the abyssals are under no illusions whatsoever that their vision of a better humanity free of the threat of Japan will be one built on genocide and much bloodshed in general and that they are no heroes.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Inside Out, this is how Joy views Anger, Fear and Disgust. While she considers herself the most important emotion and feels that things are going well when she makes up the majority of Riley's day, she understands and respects that Anger, Fear and Disgust, while "negative" emotions, exist to protect Riley from the various dangers in her life. The driving source of conflict in the movie is that nobody has any idea what Sadness is for other than making Riley miserable, causing Joy to do everything she can to marginalize her and limit her involvement in Riley's life, with disastrous results.
  • In Rango, the inhabitants of Dirt are threatened frequently by a large hawk with a metal beak. However, no one bothers to harm it, as the hawk is also keeping Rattlesnake Jake out of town, as even he’s scared by it. Rango ends up taking the hawk down, unaware of the status quo it was keeping, which allows Jake to start planning to head back into town.
  • Literal example in Wreck-It Ralph; a video game only works when there's a 'bad guy' to defeat. When Ralph, the 'bad guy' of his game, isn't there, the game is declared out of order.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Avengers: Infinity War: Thanos perceives himself as this. After watching an Overpopulation Crisis destroy his world, he’s firmly convinced that the resources of the universe are finite and that the only way to stave off similar disasters is to use the Infinity Stones to wipe out half of all life, giving the other half a chance to survive. He takes no pleasure in it, but he believes it must be done. Cut through all the flowery speeches however, and it becomes clear his real motive is to prove to the universe and himself that he was right about how to save Titan; that all the death and tragedy he’s suffered or inflicted weren’t all for nothing. Come Avengers: Endgame, a version of Thanos from an alternate timeline (one that hasn't had the chance to undergo Character Development) sees that the Avengers are attempting to undo his work and decides that since the universe is going to be ungrateful, then he will simply unmake the universe and remake it from scratch so that no one can remember what they've lost and only remember "what they've been given", thus creating a grateful universe.
  • The Controllers and Director in The Cabin in the Woods, who have to peform rituals involving killing teenagers with monsters to prevent the end of the world. The Controllers have become desensitized enough to run bets and enjoy some of the "entertainment" the ritual provides, though a little bit of their basic human decency still slips through, and tell their new recruit that even his training isn't enough to prepare him for the real thing. The Director is extremely, painfully aware of how evil their actions are, and regrets them deeply, but will do everything possible to see them fulfilled.
  • The main theme of The Dark Knight was Batman - and his perception in the eyes of Gotham City - becoming this. He hoped that Harvey Dent, Gotham's 'White Knight', would make him obsolete so no further evil of any sort would exist within Gotham.
  • Bane invokes the trope in The Dark Knight Rises, but could ultimately be a subversion. Despite his claim, he and Talia never had any intention of sparing Gotham, and even whether or not they agreed with Ra's al Ghul's assessment that destroying the city would make the world a better place is left ambiguous. Their true motivation was revenge on Batman. The League of Shadows as a whole certainly counts, though.
    Bane: I'm necessary evil.
  • In Kingdom of Heaven, Reynald de Châtillon remarks in a strangely somber and reflective mood for a man who otherwise seems to delight in slaughter and atrocity:
    "I am what I am. Someone has to be."
  • In Lord of War, Yuri labels himself as such at the end of the film because he's sometimes a middleman supplying weapons to conflicts on the White House's request that the politicians can't be seen to get involved in themselves. He's let go from custody and exits the movie a free man with gun running the only thing left in his life.
  • The death squad in Magnum Force. They kill known criminals with summary executions because to them, courts do not work. The screenwriter went to the extra effort of having the squad cause numerous collateral deaths in the process because otherwise it would have been much harder to get the audience to root against them.
  • The Midnight Meat Train: Mahogany and the conspiracy isn't butchering people on the subway for the fun of it. They're necessary human sacrifices to protect the rest of the city from the evil gods that dwell below.
  • Pitch (2009): Belial implies that the corrupting work of demons plays a part in God's plan.
    Belial: We all do His work, Jim. You'll learn that over time.
  • The Red Queen is this in Resident Evil (2002), going to any lengths to prevent a T-virus outbreak.
  • Saw: Jigsaw knows that torture isn't a good thing, but he believes it's necessary to teach people to value their own lives and better themselves. That is, if they survive.
  • 'The Operative' from Serenity is a textbook example. He describes himself as a "monster" and says that there is no room for him in the better world he is helping to create.
  • Mr. Glass in Unbreakable has spent his entire life being Necessarily Evil and looking for someone to counterbalance him so that his world will make sense.
  • Vampire in Brooklyn: Eddie Murphy's vampiric antagonist kills and then impersonates an Evangelical preacher, then finds events contriving to force him into making an impromptu sermon. Given his own evil and selfish intentions, it's little surprise when he chooses the concept of Necessary Evil as his topic and sets about convincing his congregation not to be so hard on the bad guys as, without Evil for comparison, no one would know what Good was.

  • Arc of a Scythe: The Scythedom, an elite group who bring permanent death in a world where permanent death is otherwise eradicated. There are two justifications for its existence, a) the idea that life has no meaning without death and b) the fact that humanity would overpopulate to extinction without it, because every attempt at space colonization had failed. They only failed because Scythe Goddard sabotaged them.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: In Shards of Honor, Emperor Ezar sets up a massive interplanetary war and gets several thousand people killed, all to assassinate his son, a deranged sadist, and discredit his cronies, a batch of expansionist warmongers, thus averting the ascension of a madman to the throne and subsequent civil war.
  • Orson Scott Card likes this one:
    • The Villain Protagonist of A Planet Called Treason wipes out a subspecies because its illusion powers are too dangerous to leave in existence, but he knows full well that those he's killing include innocents who don't abuse their powers. Towards the end, only his certainty that it was necessary is keeping him sane.
    • Card also invokes it in The Worthing Saga with Abner Doon, who engineers the fall of The Empire, believing it has caused humanity to stagnate. He is compared to a gardener and humanity to a tree that must be pruned. Said pruning involves a galaxy-wide universal rebellion that almost certainly cost millions if not billions of lives, but all that happens offscreen.
    • This also turns up in Ender's Game, as Colonel Graff knows that the tactics he's using to shape Wiggin into a commander will probably have long-lasting psychological effects on the kid, ascribing to "They can punish me after it's done" mentality. They don't. The war crimes tribunal eventually agrees that it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Ender could have saved the world with less extreme training, and Graff is exonerated.
      • The entire point of training a commander like Ender is revealed to be an example: he's not being trained to defend Earth if/when the Formics/Buggers return for a third time, he's being trained to command the Human invasion and war of extermination against the Formic/Bugger colonies and homeworld. The military views it as this trope all along, and the rest of humanity by and large agree when the truth comes to light afterwards. Ender himself takes exception to the necessity of it and, writing under an anonymous pseudonym, reveals the true depth of the tragedy due to misunderstanding between these species. As a result, he is remembered as the greatest war criminal and mass murderer in all of human history, with his very name being considered a profanity thousands of years later.
  • Alan Dean Foster's The Man Who Used the Universe.
  • By some readings, Paul Atreides and Leto Atreides II in the Dune series, who both see the future. Leto II especially fits the trope: he merges with an alien species, becomes God of his own theocracy, crushes rebellions before they happen, and manipulates the genome for millennia in order to avert human extinction. Even his closest advisors repeatedly try to kill him and their eventual success is part of his plan. Sometimes, All-Loving Hero has to be a Magnificent Bastard to save you despite yourself.
  • The Wolves/Inhibitors of the Revelation Space Series wipe out intelligent life any time they discover it spreading beyond its original planet. (Even they, a kind of Mechanical Lifeforms, are only intermittently sentient when necessary to reach their goals.) It eventually turns out they are trying to keep intelligence from being wiped out forever when our galaxy collides with the Andromeda galaxy several billion years in the future.
  • A small-scale version is the killer in The Victorian Hangman, the executioner for New York, unemployed after NY switched to the electric chair. He traveled west and continued his practice of eliminating criminals. After executing an adulterer, a thief, and a card cheat, he realized he was the only criminal left in the area.
  • From the Black Library:
    • In Gaunt's Ghosts: The Guns of Tanith one of the Ghosts' less savory members kills an old man to keep word of their secret mission getting to the Blood Pact. Subverted by the thoughts of Hlaine Larkin in the same squad thinking 'There was quite enough unnecessary evil in the fething galaxy without deliberately adding to it'.
    • The Horus Heresy novels provide us with one person who joined the Heresy not because he believed the Emperor had betrayed them, but because he knew it was side with Horus and save everyone except humanity, or side with the Emperor and screw over the entire galaxy and everyone in it: Alpharius. The Drop Site Massacre, and all other events of the Heresy, were being done in order to break the back of Chaos.
    • In Dark Angels: Angels of Darkness, Brother-Chaplain Boreas delivers a very short speech regarding the value of human life in the grim darkness of the 41st millenium.
      "'Oh, I agree that battle and sacrifice result in death,' Boreas replied with a grimace. 'I understand that we live in a brutal universe, and that amongst the unnumbered souls of the Imperium, a few million deaths are immeasurably minute. The Dark Angels have purged worlds that are beyond all attempts at redemption, and we have done it with joy for we know what we do is for the security of the future. Truly it is said a moment of laxity spawns a lifetime of heresy.'"
  • Discworld:
    • Lord Vetinari strengthened the power of the guilds in Ankh-Mopork such as the Assassins' Guild and legalised others including the Thieves' Guild, thereby formally organizing the city's criminals. The guilds own monopolies on those crimes: as long as they ensure that all thefts and murders are committed by licensed members and adhere to certain standards (like avoiding bystander fatalities and robbing any one citizen only once a year), they are permitted an annual crime quota and enforcement authority. Why does Vetinari expect criminals to abide by this agreement? Half self preservation, half simply knowing where they live since they do openly do business. In later books, the Thieves are mostly in the insurance business (offering a pre-emptive payment option in lieu of annual robbery) and the Assassins are more a snobby boarding school and gentlemen's club than a bunch of cutthroats. But they will still act with extreme prejudice to defend their lucrative monopolies.
    • Prof. John Hix — of the Department of Necroman... sorry, Post-Mortem Communications — serves a Necessarily Evil function for Unseen University. UU has to have an official evil (but not too evil) necromancer on the staff in order to extend their monopoly on magic to include necromancy and other black magic... and with it the authority to fireball all freelancers. The post of Official Post-Mortem Communicator carries a lot of authority and respect on the University Council, as Hix is also tasked with determining when it is appropriate to use small amounts of black magic in the service of the greater good. His duties also involve saying impolite things that still need to be said and performing slightly evil deeds for the greater good (like knocking another wizard out to free them from possession).
    • In The Last Hero, the Silver Horde encounter the Card-Carrying Villain Evil Harry Dread, who's on good terms with them and as an evil overlord, has Contractual Genre Blindness. He recognizes there needs to be a villain in the story for the heroes to fight, and happily fills the role for the Silver Horde, since only they and he actually care about the hero's code anymore. And since the villain always escapes to cause trouble in the next story, he's always able to survive.
  • This is an Alternative Character Interpretation of Judas Iscariot in The Gospel of Judas, a Gnostic text dating back to the fourth century. In it, Judas is depicted as following Jesus's instructions when he turned him over to Pontius Pilate, in order to set in motion the events that lead up to Jesus's resurrection (though only according to the National Geographic translation, not to serious scholars).
  • Harry Potter: Snape carried this role in the latter half of the series as Dumbledore's mole in Voldemort's inner circle. He had to do Death Eater things such as kill Dumbledore himself to prove himself and maintain his cover. Dumbledore planned for that to happen because he believed it necessary.
    Dumbledore: Severus... please!
  • Jacen Solo in the post-New Jedi Order era Star Wars Expanded Universe, prior to Jumping Off the Slippery Slope. He convinced himself that he could become a Sith yet still work for the good of the galaxy. It didn't work out that way.
  • An inspirational tale that did the rounds about two captives who were being tortured into renouncing their faith. One night, the first man admits that if the tortures continue the next day, he will have no choice but to surrender. His friend spends the night mulling over whether to kill the first man so that the first man's immortal soul might remain saved — while he himself will be damned to hell for the murder - but at last realizes that it would be wrong. His choice was right, because the first man mercifully dies on his own in the morning before the torturers come.
  • Skirmish forces all of humanity into this position by way of Instant A.I.: Just Add Water!. Rather than revert to savagery, people must violently quell a Robot War.
  • Daemon: Sobol's plans for a new society require him to tear down the one that currently exists, ultimately causing global economic and social chaos. In the end, it appears that his actions are justified.
  • Varys in A Song of Ice and Fire claims himself to be this: "Why is it always the innocents who suffer most, when you High Lords play your Game of Thrones?" However, he is perhaps the most gifted intriguer and spy in the Seven Kingdoms, so his own motivations are incredibly clouded.
  • Ebenezar McCoy of The Dresden Files taught Harry about how magic is suppose to be about protecting life and respect for the laws of magic. Ebenezar is the Blackstaff, the only wizard on the White Council who has permission to break the seven Laws of magic, ranging from mind control to mass murder, when the "rules" are being used against the council and to prevent even worse disasters.
    • And it later turns out that the purpose of the Winter Court of the Fae is to protect our universe from the Outsiders, and the Summer Court protects mortals from Winter.
    • This is shaping up to be a theme in The Dresden Files. Marcone is a Noble Demon Don acknowledged by everyone, including himself, to be the Lesser of Two Evils, but he's still a drug-dealing, pimping murderer. He's just a drug-dealing, pimping murderer who is also a Friend to All Children and minimizes the harm done to innocent bystanders. If anybody is going to be running the Chicago Outfit, it's best that it be someone like him.
  • The Saga of Darren Shan: In the sixth book, The Vampire Prince, Kurda Smahlt and his plan turn out to be this.
  • In The Stormlight Archive, King Taravangian sees himself this way. When called on it by his Dragon Szeth, he fully admits that he's a monster, but that he's "the monster who will save this world".
  • Forever Gate: Leader of the Users attempts to convince Hoodwink the gols are this trope. In a nushell this is his argument: The gols do nasty things but without them our civilization would crumble.
  • The Hunger Games: President Coriolanus Snow's conversation with Katniss at the beginning of Catching Fire indicates that he sees himself and the Capitol as this.
  • The Riddle Master Trilogy: Deth is very much this. He will do whatever it takes to make sure that Morgon is capable of taking up the land-rule when he dies, including consigning him to a year of Mind Rape in Erlenstar Mountain.
  • Neogicia: Nox Lucans, the Psycho Sidekick to one of the setting's rulers, considers a lot of his actions to be this, as they have been called evil by allies that have been hurt by them.
  • The villains of Each Little Universe certainly want to claim that the harm they cause is necessary, in service of restoring the natural order that if left unbalanced could destroy the entire cosmos, but Orion in particular occasionally lets the mask slip and openly enjoys inflicting pain.
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four: If O'Brien is correct, the Brotherhood has no choice but to commit the most heinous of acts to defeat The Party.
  • Villains by Necessity: The book title lampshades that these villains have taken on the task of saving the world, so their being evil (aside from neutral Kaylana) is a necessity. Indeed, evil itself turns out to be. None but Valerie is more than just mildly evil either. Blackmail's even revealed to be a paladin who realizes their quest is needed.
  • Pact: most Practicioners hate diabolists, because diabolists deal in things like devils, demons, and other variations of the most malevolent Others. One diabolist in the series wrote a book on the ethics (such as they are) of the profession, and makes an argument that diabolists are Necessarily Evil, because someone has to bind demons and devils, and things would be a lot worse if these beings were free to do whatever they wanted. He is self-aware enough to acknowledge that most diabolists don't get into the practice for selfless reasons, and this argument of his is liable to fall on deaf ears.
  • Worm has "Doing the wrong things for the right reasons" as its tagline, and so explores this trope a fair bit:
    • Taylor, the protagonist, is certainly the most clear cut example. Initially purely a mole among her villainous friends, she comes to view villainy as the best way to achieve her goals. Entirely selfless goals.
    • Cauldron as a whole claims this. They have performed decades of horrific human experimentation, kidnapping, brainwashing, enslaving, murder, manipulation of world government figures, and consorting with criminals of all kinds. Their leadership did this because they have a future-seer on their staff who tells them that if they don't do these things, for the purpose of building up a huge population of superpowered parahumans across multiple worlds, humanity will most likely (90%+ chance) cease to exist within a few years. While their future-seer is among the most powerful to exist, they are not omniscient, and many characters insist that Cauldron's crimes aren't justified even in the face of almost certain multiversal extinction.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones: How most people see Varys (i.e. he's a dishonorable traitor, but his treachery serves a purpose), and even how he views himself from time to time. Compare his allegiance to Westeros as a whole to Petyr Balish's "Chaos is a ladder" speech.
  • This is how Chief of Police Unser views his arrangement with the eponymous bike gang of Sons of Anarchy. He allows them a more or less free hand in and around Charming and they keep drugs and other gangs out.
  • From Battlestar Galactica (2003):
    Tigh: Which side are we on? We're on the side of the demons, Chief. We're evil men in the gardens of paradise, sent by the forces of death to spread devastation and destruction wherever we go.
  • UFO (1970): Although the nature of the aliens is a mystery, their harvesting of human organs indicates they come from a Dying Race. Commander Straker suggests they view humanity not with malice but with callousness ("much as we view our food animals"). Straker later encounters a man with telepathic powers who is being controlled by the aliens. In the middle of their conversation, he suddenly blurts out: "We mean no harm to the peoples of Earth. Why do you attack us? We're fighting for existence... you must understand!"
  • Torchwood's Captain Jack Harkness, when he's not The Ace, a Lovable Rogue, or a Chivalrous Pervert, pretty much bases his entire character around being this. The best (worst?) examples are the episodes "Small Worlds" and "End of Days", and of course, the miniseries Children of Earth.
  • The Company from Heroes in Volume One.
  • Babylon 5:
    • The Shadows regard themselves as agents of evolution and the genocidal wars they wage on the galaxy as an effective form of natural selection and development drive for the Younger Races. The problem is that there never was a need for such accelerated development, and Shadows only enforce it to prove that it works.
    • William Edgars, who plans to use an artificial plague to institute a Final Solution on human telepaths, finds it to be a monstrous idea but the most expedient solution to what he considers an otherwise unsolvable problem.
  • Queen Mab from Merlin (1998) tries to pass herself off as this, but the other characters don't believe her, mostly due to her complete and utter amorality in the face of the pain caused by her actions. As emphasized in the novelizations, Merlin is also "necessarily magical" as he uses the magic of the Old Ways to create a society free of the Old Ways, and gradually becomes less and less welcome in the new society when the now predominantly Christian kingdom gets less tolerant of a wizard of the Old Ways.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The show included lampshading the overlap between this and Shoot the Dog in the season 5 finale when Giles explains why he is about to kill Ben (Glory's relatively innocent human host), because Buffy won't and shouldn't have to.
      "She's a hero, you see. She's not like us."
      "... Us?"
    • Everything Twilight does is to distract and hold back all the forces planning to attack the Slayer Organization.
  • In season 6 of Supernatural, Castiel becomes this after Michael has been locked up with Lucifer, and the only remaining archangel wants to break open the cage so Lucy and Mike can finish up their big fight, or even worse, become the new God. Faced with the prospect of death, or going along with these plans, Castiel was forced to Take a Third Option that had him trying to handle the slippery slope without jumping.
  • Allison Taylor does this in the final season of 24 by protecting the true masterminds behind the terrorist attacks earlier in the day and allowing them to go unpunished for the actions even after learning they were behind it all in a desperate attempt to secure a peace treaty between the United States, Russia, and another country.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • Gul Dukat believes his actions during the Cardassian occupation were this, and forms a major guilt complex over it.
    • Winn Adami believes many of her more extreme actions are this, when they're not completely justified and necessary.
    • Section 31 (which may or may not exist) are this to the Federation. They do all the horrific, underhanded things Federation ideals forbid but are necessary to its survival. If it exists, it may have been deliberately set up by the Federation at its founding to be this. Or it may not. The details are a little vague.
    • Given that they served on the most important location on the frontlines of the most brutal and destructive war in Alpha Quadrant history, pretty much the entire senior Command crew of DS9 had a moment or two of this. But none more than Sisko, who in "In the Pale Moonlight" takes decidedly non-Starfleet-like actions in secret that bring the Romulans into the war on the side of the Federation. Ultimately, Sisko is unable or unwilling to go far enough to succeed in his plot to trick the Romulans into joining the Federation/Klingon alliance. Fortunately, he's enlisted the aid of Elim Garak, who is both able and willing to succeed at the task no matter how evil the means.
      "But the most damning thing of all... I think I can live with it. And if I had to do it all over again, I would. Garak was right about one thing; a guilty conscience is a small price to pay for the safety of the Alpha Quadrant. So I will learn to live with it. Because I can live with it. I can live with it..."
  • Malcolm Merlyn from The CW's Arrow orchestrated The Undertaking, an endeavor shared between him and several of his colleagues, during the first season. Its purpose? To obliterate the crime-infested area of Starling City known as the Glades. His line of reasoning for this is to avenge his late wife Rebecca, who was murdered by a Glades resident. He also firmly believed that the city could somehow be reformed through this one act of eliminating the majority of, if not the entirety of the criminal element. And like most other examples on this page, he is genuine in his concern for the city.
    • Because what else were you expecting, Malcolm becomes the necessary evil for Oliver when the latter needs to solve his League of Assassins problem fast. His friends are not pleased, and the necessity of working with Malcolm quickly comes into question.
  • Dante from The 100 sees himself as irrevocably tainted by the forced harvesting of the 100's bone marrow, but supports it anyway when he sees no other option for his people's survival.
    Dante: After what I've done, they can be free, I can't. Deliverance comes at a cost; I bear it so they don't have to.
    • Clarke comes to see herself this way after she slaughters everyone in Mount Weather to save her own people.
  • In Kamen Rider Gaim, Takatora Kureshima (Kamen Rider Zangetsu) believes that the invasion of Helheim can't be stopped, and the best they can do is to save 1/7th of humanity's population via Project Ark. He certainly doesn't like the fact that most of humanity will have to die, but he prefers it to all of humanity dying. However, it's later subverted by the fact that the sacrifice isn't necessary at all; Takatora's inner circle was lying to him because they wanted to eliminate the "useless" portion of humanity, and once he finds out about another option that could potentially save everyone, he gladly abandons Project Ark in favor of it.
  • The Doctor from Doctor Who had to destroy his own planet to protect the universe — he harbours a lot of guilt about it but believes that it was the best option he could have taken. Later, it turns out that his future selves managed to prevent it happening, but he still spends hundreds of years believing he did it.
    • The Doctor actually has to take this kind of action a lot — one instance is the 'eruption' of Vesuvius, which was actually the Doctor and Donna stopping the Pyroviles from destroying Earth in "The Fires of Pompeii".
    • The Doctor is generally a pacifist and avoids war whenever possible, but throughout his life he has fought in more than a millennium of conflict — the Time War, which lasted about 400 years, and the Siege of Trenzalore, which lasted 900. He did so in both cases to protect innocent civilians, but is remorseful about the deeds he was forced to do.
  • In You, Me and the Apocalypse, General Gaines will do whatever it takes to ensure the survival of humanity first, his family second: deception, abductions, murder, treason - nothing is off the table. He will sacrifice his marriage, too. In the end he is trapped with a dozen innocents, an impulsive psycho, the Big Bad and an armed mook. More necessary evil awaits.
  • The Handmaid's Tale: Lawrence may be a part of Gilead's top government, but he doesn't seem to think too highly of them. He also shows June that he has to pick-and-choose who survives and who dies in Gilead. He eventually says that he's well aware of the horrific acts that he's guilty of, but saw no other way to save the human race through pushing up birth rates by brutal means.


    Tabletop Games 
  • In certain versions of Dungeons & Dragons, it's actually allowed for a Lawful Good Paladin to commit an outright evil act like slaughtering an innocent civilian or destroying a village, without losing their powers, so long as it is for the greater good in the long term. And they apologize to their deity either before or after committing said evil act... And the icing on the cake: Both 3.5 and 5.0 actually have special rules that encourage Paladins to commit this kind of evil acts! In 3.5, there's the Evil Counterpart known as a Blackguard. In 5.0, there's special Archetype for a Paladin who breaks his sacred Oath, aptly named Oathbreaker, which comes with its own unique features. 4.0, on the other hand, simply ignores alignments for all purposes other than the already limited Roleplaying side of the game. At least 2.0 was consequent about this. You play a Paladin, you play Lawful Good or you permanently lose your powers! The Blackguard and Oathbreaker are so effective that some players are willing to pick the Paladin Class, behave nicely until they can get the Blackguard Prestige Class, and then commit the necessarily evil acts required to lose their Lawful Good alignment just so they can become Blackguards or break their Oath enough times to become an Oathbreaker.
  • The Blood War, the eternal conflict between devils and demons, acts as this. The forces of evil are actually much more powerful than their current influence suggests, but luckily they hate each other more than they hate the universe in general, so they fight. The forces of Good encourage the conflict to continue, because as long as the demons harry the devils, devils won't be able to impose their tyranny on the non-lower planes, and as long as the devils stalemate the demons, demons won't spill out into the multiverse and destroy it all.
    • 5e clarifiese that this is the reason Abbathor, the Dwarven god of greed, is tolerated as the Token Evil Teammate of the pantheon. As disreputable and annoying as he is, he also encourages change and improvement- something dwarves, who are somewhat inclined to stagnation, need.
  • This is how the factions in Warhammer 40,000 that aren't just in it For the Evulz operate, and most of the time they're correct.
    • The Imperial Inquisition. On a whim, every fully ranked Inquisitor in the service can have any individual pressed into service, commandeer vehicles (up to and including Space Marine Battle Barges) for their use, summarily execute anyone they deem heretical, torture people indefinitely, and call down Exterminatus: the complete destruction of the biosphere of a planet, if not just blowing up the whole damn rock. Their decisions are inviolate. One of the most famous phrases ever uttered by an Inquisitor is "A plea of innocence is guilty of wasting my time. Guilty." Why is this gross extremism necessary? Because if they weren't around, the taint of Chaos would spread unchecked throughout the Imperium, and within less than a dozen generations the whole galaxy would be rendered lifeless and/or sucked into a psychic-energy-powered void that is literally Hell. So, yes, horribly evil, but very necessary.
      • The perfect example would be Inquisitor Kryptman. He ordered the creation of a Galactic Cordon, and in the process caused hundreds of billions of deaths and more destruction than any set of events since the Horus Heresy - including the Reign of Blood, the Black Crusades, and the Armageddon Wars. He saved the galaxy, but was declared Excommunicate Traitoris for his methods. (What is a Galactic Cordon, you ask? He ordered Exterminatus on every inhabited planet in the path of Hive Fleet Leviathan so that it wouldn't be able to replenish itself on the biomatter of those worlds. Possibly evacuated those planets as best as the Imperium could in the time they had, but most ships are always busy keeping humanity alive.) And that was just part of his plan, which involves starting a Forever War between Leviathan and the ork empire of Octarius. The war still rages on, but the victor will come out magintudes stronger than before. Unless they manage to kill more of each other quicker than they can each reproduce, that is. Also, once one side or the other wins, the Imperium can swoop in and blow up their planets and stuff before the bio-matter can be processed by Tyranids or used as food for Ork spores to spawn more of them.
    • Except of that the information is written orwellian style from a pro-imperial standpoint so of course they are going to say it's necessary when they are covering their own asses no villainous extremist who isn't in it For the Evulz will see themselves as totally justified in their methods, even though reading between the lines there are far more humane methods of running the galaxy and more sympathetic members of the For the Evulz Faction EVERY FACTION in the setting is a Knight Templar that is too blinded by Black-and-White Insanity to believe that they are anything other than this and besides, the whole point of the setting is Evil Versus Evil or rather Complete Monster versus Complete Monster.
  • This trope is the title of a Savage Worlds book that allows PCs to play supervillains in world where aliens had successfully killed off all the superheroes.
  • In Exalted the Sidereals deliberately ended a golden age, caused the deaths of millions of innocents, plunged Creation into medieval squalor, threatened and murdered some of the gods themselves to go along with the new order, and spent the next millennium tracking down and murdering the innocent reincarnations of the world's greatest heroes. It was the only surefire way to save Creation from being utterly destroyed.

  • In Jesus Christ Superstar Judas considers his betrayal of Jesus to be this in order to keep his movement from getting out of hand and destroying the Jewish people. To a lesser extent this is also true of Caiaphas although there's also a large amount of self interest mixed in in his case.
  • The big twist at the end of Urinetown is that the Evil Overlord Cladwell was right the whole time and the revolution that overthrows him makes everything so much more awful than it was under his draconian rule.
  • Ulysses is played like this toward the end of Jon English's Paris. He was like this to an extent in the original The Iliad, but it's made explicit that the wooden horse was a case of this in the musical.

    Video Games 
  • Fable III:
    • Logan views his actions as these in order to fund an army and prepare Albion to deal with an Eldritch Abomination called the Crawler.
    • You have to be this to get the bad-karma ending, otherwise known as the one that doesn't involve everybody you know and love dying. Unless you feel like playing the Lute for ten hours or going into real estate. Have I mentioned you're the king/queen?
  • In Chrono Trigger, the Disc One Climax Boss Magus turns out to be this. After you defeat him (but not immediately), he can join your party and become the Token Evil Teammate.
  • Kessler, the Big Bad of inFAMOUS, is The Protagonist Cole McGrath's future self. In the future he was the world's most powerful conduit, but when the world needed him most, he vanished, following which the world got blown to hell by the real villain. Feeling guilty for not stopping it, he uses his powers to travel back in time in order to accelerate the development of the Ray Sphere, which gave him his powers, and to shape his past self into the kind of person who would be capable of saving the world by killing the only woman he ever loved and destroying half the city. The sequel reveals that this backfired, though, since the villain also got his powers from the Ray Sphere. Woops.
  • Ammon Jerro in Neverwinter Nights 2. Not only does he deal with devils, and other deadly creatures of the lower planes in order to get what he needs done. True, he's trying to save all of the sword coast. But at the same time he kills his granddaughter, and several other people whom are really not all that bad. They just happen to get in his way. Though he does have a Villainous Breakdown when he realizes who Shandra was, and spends the rest of the game trying to atone for what he's done.
  • For the most part the Overlords are this to the world. They seem to save the world (so they can take it over) from the other (worse) evils and Fallen Heroes. Rose states that the Balance of Good and Evil will mean that during the times when Light Is Not Good and becomes too powerful, Darkness is required to triumph.
  • According to the manual, Gill from Street Fighter III. Like all Street Fighter canon, it's... complicated.
  • Bian Zoldark and Maier Branstein in Super Robot Wars Original Generation. When they realized that the government was preparing to surrender to the coming alien invaders, they launched an attempt to Take Over the World, in order to give mankind the means to fight back against the invaders, remove those who wanted to collaborate, and finally, ensure that the heroes were strong enough to spearhead the counterattack. Tragically, a lot of their minions had different plans. Most of which involve 'kill the heroes, take their place'. Which may have been Bian and Maier's back-up plan.
  • Seraph Lamington in Disgaea allowed Vulcanus to run amok, and later justly but "excessively" punished Flonne for a relatively minor sin by turning her into a flower. He was however willing to, and counting on, being defeated by the protagonist. It is revealed in the good ending that he was plotting with the ghost of the Netherworld's ruler to use a Batman Gambit and force Laharl to grow up and become kinder, so they will unite both kingdoms. In the good ending, Laharl spares the Seraph's life, and he returns Flonne to life as a fallen angel (with cute bat wings and red trim), which was part of his plan all along assuming Laharl passed the Secret Test of Character - Not that that matters anymore, now that she's his right hand angel now.
    • Valvatorez, the protagonist of Disgaea 4, is a strange sort of Punch-Clock Villain who sees his job of being an evil, human-terrorizing tyrant as a very important public service - If he isn't going to Scare 'Em Straight, who will?
  • Knight Bewitched: Although Uno kills villains who are immune to the law, he admits that he can't consider himself a good person because murder is still murder.
  • Wild ARMs 2 has Irving Vold Valeria, who formed both the heroes and the villains as a two-tiered plan to gather information as well as global resources in order to stop a sentient dimension from swallowing their world. The villains could use whatever tactics they wanted; and the heroes would be able to get the combined support of the world's governments who wanted them to stop the villains.
  • In Suikoden II, Jowy seems at first to be simply a Face–Heel Turn or a Rival Turned Evil, when he betrays the city of Muse to the Highlands, assassinates the Mayor, and opens the gates to the invaders. It turns out, however, that he only did it because he knew that the only way to stop the monstrous Luca Blight, was from the inside - and so, he sold out Muse in order to gain Luca's trust, so that he could later betray him, bringing about his death at the hands of the hero. However, by the time Luca dies, Jowy has already married Luca's sister, and he thus becomes the ruler of Highland... and thus, he is responsible for the nation, and feels compelled to win the war. At the very end of the game, he is gambling on The Hero killing him, so that he can use his life-force to seal the Beast Rune that Luca unleashed earlier... whether it actually ends that way, however, depends on a few things...
  • In Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, you are required to ally yourself with either Team Aqua or Team Magma (depending on which game you are playing) in order to oppose the other Team. This does not mean that the Team you are allied with isn't evil, however; they are simply not currently involved in any world-threatening plans while the Team you are opposing is clearly doing something worse. This was changed to the opposing Team beating their rivals to the punch within the remakes.
  • Claudia Wolfe from Silent Hill 3. She acts cruel and evil to the protagonist and orders the murder of her father...but Heather eventually finds her diary, which is filled with entries about how much she's sorry for having to put Heather through all this, and only feels she must do it to bring the birth of paradise for Heather and everyone—everyone, that is, except Claudia herself. She believes in Hell, by the way. She believes that she deserves to go to Hell for committing the necessary evil to save everyone else, meaning she absolutely embodies this Trope. Heather stops whatever the result would have been, but Claudia's intentions are definitely well intentioned and self aware.
  • One possible interpretation in Knights of the Old Republic is that Revan waged war against the Republic in order to toughen them up and force them to become more militaristic to prepare them for future conflict that Revan alone foresaw. The second game has the other theory that it was to prevent societal collapse, or that it was all part of a plan to prepare for another enemy, which Revan left after the previous war to find. This is supported by Kreia's question about Revan's "fall" in KOTOR 2: "Did Revan truly fall? Or did he do what was necessary to prepare the Republic?" It is implied through the game's plot that the enemy Revan "prepared" the galaxy for were the True Sith, featured as the main baddies in Star Wars: The Old Republic.
    • Kreia herself is a walking example of this. No one is going to call her warm or friendly, and she detests pity, mercy, or compassion. But she also detests needless cruelty or brutality just as much. Her whole endgame? Break the Force itself to put an end to the constant religious war between the two primary Force-wielding schools. She believes the Exile is proof of her theory that living beings can live independently of The Force.
    • If you're going to bring the Star Wars Expanded Universe into this, the original Heir to the Empire trilogy portrayed Grand Admiral Thrawn as a ruthless warlord but a competent and at times even caring commander. The later books set him up as someone attempting to prepare the galaxy for invasion, which came with the Yuuzhan Vong.
  • Trias the Betrayer from Planescape: Torment is a Fallen Angel who betrayed his kin and made a compact with the lower planes. He actively works towards shifting the balance of the planes towards evil in return for the command over an army of devils should he succeed. Trias plans to use this army to attack the gates of heaven themselves. While he's expecting both this army and himself to be defeated, his hope is that such an act would be enough to rouse the celestials of the upper planes to take a more hands-on approach in the war against evil instead of doing what he saw as being Achilles in His Tent while evil was allowed to run rampant.
    • This is why the Practical Incarnation is the "Practical" Incarnation and not the "Evil" Incarnation. He did some absolutely horrific things over the course of his existence, most infamously convincing Deionarra that he loved her, solely to betray and kill her in such a way that her ghost could be useful to him later. But in the end, every horrible thing he did, every horrible thing, was a necessary stepping stone for his future incarnation, the Nameless One, to complete his journey and finally end his immortality. He never did anything needlessly terrible... it's just that everything he did was to his benefit first and usually only.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn:
      • Sephiran acts affable to the end, and loyal to one of the heroes even while he is fighting the others. Can't be talked out of fighting the heroes, yet is happy upon defeat.
      • The following pattern is pretty common in Fire Emblem, especially in the endgame of Radiant Dawn:
        "I can't allow you to pass!" [grueling battle] "Thank you for killing me, please move onward!"
    • Several side materials for Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War depict Arvis of Velthomer as one. The guy wants to create a utopia free of prejudice and racism, so he joins force with the Loptous clan, which he loathes, to take down fellow lords and unite Grannvale into a single country. Naturally, this does not work, and he becomes heavily guilty as he grows Older and Wiser and realises his plan has backfired horribly.
    • In part two of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Edelgard views their actions of declaring war on the Church of Seiros as necessary to change the continent of Fodlan. They also view working with "those that silther in the dark" as necessary to ensure their victory against the Church as well, and once they’re done with them, they intent to get rid of them next.
  • In Final Fantasy X, Seymour Guado fancied himself as this and committed his innumerable sins because he genuinely felt that the world would be better off in the peace of death.
    "I will destroy Spira; I will save it''."
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics:
  • Everyone in Iji: The Tasen invade Earth because they're being hunted to extinction by the Komato and think that Earth would be a nice place to hide. The Komato general justifies his campaign by saying that the folks back home will settle for nothing less than total annihilation. Iji calls bullshit on both counts. And if you play in the standard action adventure style, they'll retort with a "Not So Different" Remark.
  • Tales of Legendia's Stingle is a Punch-Clock Villain. He does it support his ill daughter.
  • Wallachia in Melty Blood. Turns out he was trying to prevent the end of the world, but every solution he came up with just made things worse. He became a Dead Apostle in order to get the power to hopefully avert it.
    • Speaking of the Nasuverse, we have Emiya Kiritsugu, from Fate/Zero and Fate/stay night, who is more than willing to shoulder all the evils in the world in order to save everyone. He did shoulder all the evils in the world, but didn't completely save people from them.
    • Fate/Grand Order introduces the Evils of Humanity, also known as the Beast class Servants. While all of them are Beasts of the Apocalypse and manifestations of the evils of mankind, the Seventh Lostbelt indicates that they are actually needed for the Human Order to function. The inhabitants of the Lostbelt, sapient dinosaurs known as Deinos, are explicitly shown to lack any of the evils the Beasts represent. This makes them perfected being, but also leaves them completely stagnant, as they have no need to grow as people. This is why, despite their similarities to Fairy Britain, their Lostbelt has not transformed into a Lostworld - they just exist contentedly with no higher aspirations.
  • Yuan in Tales of Symphonia may be this or a Well-Intentioned Extremist. It doesn't show him acting guilty for what he does, but then again, he doesn't show much emotion at all and the storyline doesn't focus on him enough to give him a chance.
  • Being a fairly nuanced RPG, Dragon Age: Origins allows you to behave like this in any number of situations, justifying a great deal of evil as necessary to destroy the darkspawn.
    • Loghain definitely feels this way about what he's done by the end of the game. Doesn't change the fact that he's a wee bit unhinged at this point... Though if you recruit him, he becomes The Atoner.
    • In the sequel, Anders stands out among a city of Well-Intentioned Extremists as one of the few who acknowledges that the actions taken to reach his goals are inexcusable. He doesn't blow up the Chantry because he thinks it's the right thing to do... but because things have gotten so hopeless and the stalemate between the templars and the mages has remained deadlocked for so long that he sees no other option.
    • Meredith verges on this a few times as well, though it swings back and forth between this and Knight Templar given the Sanity Slippage means one moment she's insisting the templars are entirely in the right, and the next she seems more regretful and willing to acknowledge some of her methods for controlling the mages are inhumane. Sometimes within the span of a few seconds.
    • The Mages' Circle is guilty of this as well; they actually are harboring Blood Mages and Abominations, firstly because the evidence of their existence would be all the Templars need to oppress them further or outright purge them, and secondly because if the Templars decide to do that anyway the Circle will need all the power they can get on their side. Their necessary evil comes to the same logical conclusion at the same time as the Templars'.
    • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, Cassandra states after her personal quest that she always saw the Rite of Tranquility as a necessary evil. However, learning the real history of the Rite, the conditions of the Circles, and the beginnings of the Mage-Templar war, have left her questioning just how necessary it was.
    • Her partner Leliana very much subscribes to this trope: kill a traitor? You'd be hard pressed to talk her out of it. Cut out the tongues of slanderers? This and threatening The Inquisitor's family is her stock in trade. Kidnapping the children of The Inquisition's enemies? A valid tactic. Using an assassin's remains to scare off threats? This is actually one of her prouder funny moments. She hates herself for these actions but firmly rooted in Dirty Business unless you take action.
  • Tales of Vesperia:
    • Duke is the poster boy for this trope. His Entelexeia friend Elucifur was betrayed and killed by humans right after Elucifur helped them win the Great War. When the Adephagos eventually showed up, his solution for it was to destroy it using the energy absorbed from the life force of humans, including himself, effectively wiping humanity off the face of the planet but saving every other life form. Unusually for the final boss, the party manages to talk him out of it at the end of battle and he ends up helping them.
    • The Hero himself Yuri Lowell views his acts of vigilante killing of some reprehensible people as this. He comes around before the climax against the Big Bad after seeing just how far this could take him. This is half the reason he's able to convince Duke to trust in them and talk him out of destroying the world; he's able to empathize with his viewpoint.
  • Master Mattias in Luminous Arc 2, who seems to continue his reign of terror of killing people to fuel Rega the demon sword with their souls, after being released from being sealed by Fatima and Josie. He's actually preparing to stop the Beast Fiends at their source and sealed them away, plus the souls inside Rega will be released after it's used for the plan.
  • In Rockman & Forte: Mirai Kara no Chousensha, R-Shadow reveals to Mega Man that the reason he's come from the future to destroy him was to stop the problems that Wily has caused at its roots by destroying all of the robots of the past.
  • In Jade Empire, Sagacious Zu claims that he viewed the actions of the Lotus Assassins — killing political opponents and terrorizing the citizens of the Empire — as necessary to preserve the authority of the Emperor and the stability of the Empire. When they started targeting women and children purely as punitive action against their husbands/fathers, however, it got too much for him.
  • Metal Gear:
    • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty: Solidus Snake knows his and Dead Cell's actions are wrong and likely being manipulated by outside forces, but it's what he feels must be done to free America from the Patriots. Ironically, this makes the player character an agent of the Greater-Scope Villain.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: In order to save the world, The Joy had to be perceived as a traitor and die by Naked Snake's hands. Needless to say, this caused some nasty emotional trauma to him, and differences in interpretation of her will ultimately made things worse for the next half-century.
  • Act 3 of the FreeSpace 2 mod War in Heaven has the Fedayeen faction. They view themselves as monsters and psychopaths who have no place in their relatively peaceful society, and are expected to carry out atrocities without hesitation, while still recognizing that they are atrocities. They use any means at their disposal to secure the survival of the United Earth Federation, because their defeat will (supposedly) signal the extinction of the human race, and maintain there's no room for morality when the stakes are that high. Judging from what we've seen in the story so far, they may have a point.
  • Many of the Renegade decisions in the Mass Effect games can come across like this.
    • Saren Arterius, The Dragon of Mass Effect, believes his terrible actions such as attacking a defenseless colony, researching living weapons, and betraying the Council are absolutely necessary for the future of the galaxy. Tela Vasir, a Spectre in Mass Effect 2, provides this justification for her ruthless actions such as bombing an office building with many civilians inside. She combines this with "Not So Different" Remark and Shut Up, Kirk! if a Paragon Shepard - who is working with the terrorists of Cerberus - calls her out on it.
    • In Mass Effect 3, Paragon Shepard appears to view working with Cerberus in Mass Effect 2 as a necessary evil: (s)he hates what they stand for and what they do, but they were literally the only people in the galaxy who were actually listening about the Reaper threat and taking it seriously. During the events of Mass Effect 2, (s)he had nowhere else to turn when things needed to get done, in large part because the Illusive Man drove away anyone else who might have helped Shepard.
    • Mordin Solus was one of scientists in charge of the project to "update" the genophage biological weapon to keep the fertility rate for krogan extremely low. He justifies this as a choice between "genophage or genocide", reasoning that if the krogan can replenish their population, they will once again try to conquer new worlds and go to war with the rest of the galaxy. The Council races would probably win, but if a second krogan war happened the krogan would probably be wiped out entirely.
      • A paragon Shepard can help convince Mordin to have a change of heart, as he is genuinely moved by the suffering of krogan desperate to have children and carry on their culture. Depending on other choices, he might also have confidence in the new generation of krogan leaders to be less warlike. In Mass Effect 3, he can even wind up giving his life in a Heroic Sacrifice to cure the genophage and save the krogan.
    • From a certain point of view, the Reapers themselves are this. They wipe out technologically advanced species on a regular schedule so that they don't wind up creating an even more dangerous form of synthetic life that completely extinguishes organic life in the galaxy for good. The memories of the destroyed civilizations are preserved and younger races are allowed to take their place in time.
  • The titular Kamui fighters are considered this since they use the inhumane Brain Uploading technology, but they where necessary due to the ZODIAC's laying waste to the earth at the time.
  • Balthazar in Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal. He is one of the Five, a group of Bhaalspawn convinced by the Big Bad to exterminate their siblings, ostensibly in exchange for a chance to serve as the lieutenants of Bhaal, the dead god of murder, when he is resurrected by the deaths of enough of his children. When you confront him it turns out he has other plans - he intends to eliminate the other members of the Five and as many Bhaalspawn he can find, the Big Bad (who is the only one who can resurrect Bhaal), and then kill himself, ensuring that Bhaal's chance to return dies with him. The player has no choice but to fight him, and he verbally regrets the player character death as a "necessity."
  • The plot of Shadow Hearts: Covenant expands on the motivation of the first game's antagonist, turning him from a Well-Intentioned Extremist into something more like this trope. It turns out Albert Simon was desperately trying to stop Rasputin and the secret society Sapientes Gladio from potentially destroying humanity in their bid to take over Europe through occult means.
  • In the World of Warcraft short story In the Shadow of the Sun (available for reading on the official website), Lor'themar Theron admits to being this in his personal journal.
  • The Big Bad of Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall is willing to loose an insane dragon upon Berlin, infected with a magical virus that will spread across the globe and cause a worldwide draconic genocide because of the threat they cause. He seems to deeply regret his own actions but claims they are necessary to save metahumanity from inevitable subjugation by dragonkind.
  • The true Big Bad of Tales of the Abyss believes that the Score is harmful to humanity and wants it gone. To this end he wants to destroy the entire world and replace all of it with a perfect replica, due to replicas being Immune to Fate. At least one member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad wants the same thing and follows the Big Bad because of it. Ironically his actions as the Big Bad forces the main party to save the world from the Score.
  • Blackwatch from [PROTOTYPE] may be a small army of sociopaths, but their brutal tactics are necessary to prevent The End of the World as We Know It. Or so we're told; in practice they aren't any better than the Marines at achieving their goals without the protagonist's help, and they mostly just make things worse by constantly interfering with said protagonist's efforts to help them. The second game drops the pretense and makes it clear that putting an unaccountable gang of blood knights and mad scientists in charge of things isn't going to save the day.
  • In League of Legends, Gangplank, the Saltwater Scourge, was retroactively seen as this to the pirate city of Bilgewater. While Gangplank is a cruel monster, everyone in Bilgewater was afraid of him so his presence kept the extremes in line. As soon as word spread that he was "dead" after he was killed, the entire city was thrown into chaos. His "killer", Miss Fortune, had to lament the fact that even though her vendetta against him was paid, she also really screwed up the power dynamics and stability in Bilgewater, and the only way it could be resolved is by taking control of the ruthless power vacuum left behind, putting her on a road to being just as cutthroat and dangerous as he was.
  • Dracula/Gabriel Belmont in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 believes himself to be this; on top of feeling like he had no choice to become evil in the first place, he considers himself a necessary evil in that, due to his overwhelming power and presence, his existence keeps greater evils at bay.
  • Colonel Zarpedon and her Lost Legion, the obvious antagonists for most of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, use "[killing] thousands to save millions" as a slogan. They've got a point, too, although they don't try very hard to make anyone understand it.
  • Senran Kagura: In Estival Versus, when Miyabi and Homura are discussing what it means to be evil to them, Miyabi's answer boils down to being evil so that good has something to strive being stronger than, so that when true evil emerges, they are strong enough to face it.
  • In Horizon Zero Dawn, the main villain was originally intended to be this; GAIA, the AI responsible for reseeding Earth's biosphere after a Robot War, was, by her very nature, dedicated to the preservation of life above all else. However, since a biosphere is extremely delicate, the slightest issue would make it unusable. If that happened, HADES would step in to do what GAIA couldn't; Wipe the slate clean. The reason they become the villain is simply that they were put into action when it wasn't necessary.
    • A recording of General Aaron Herres admits that Operation Enduring Victory, the fight to stop the Faro robots until Project Zero Dawn can provide the weapon it needs to stop them and win was a lie. He and the other leaders knew extinction of life on Earth was inevitable, and so they knowingly threw people into a hopeless battle, mobilizing them with false propaganda and promises of victory just to buy time with their lives so Zero Dawn could be completed for recreating the biosphere and humanity after extinction..
  • Jin Kazama in Tekken 6 purposefully started World War 3 to awaken an ancient Egyptian demon that is only summoned when humanity is in grave danger in order to defeat it and destroy it once and for all in hopes of ridding himself of the Evil Gene that turns him into a demon.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • Blake's Evil Former Friend Ilia Amitola makes it clear she hates hurting people and isn't a fan of the extreme methods the White Fang use to further their cause, but feels it's necessary because they've tried everything else and humans either actively hate Faunus or stand back and let the hate happen. She ultimately decides otherwise and pulls a Heel–Face Turn when Blake asks her what her parents would think of what she's doing.
      Ilia: There's no such thing as innocent! There's no right thing to do! Only what's best for us! There's the humans that still hate the Faunus, and there's the others who stand by and let the hate happen! But you know what snuffs out hate? Fear. I don't like hurting people. But I'll tell you this... it's gotten us results.
    • Ironwood deconstructs the trope. By his own admission, any act, no matter how unethical or immoral, is necessary if it helps fight Salem. However, Ironwood arrogantly and stubbornly believes that only he knows what the "Greater Good" is. His refusal to consider any other alternatives, combined with his callous disregard for anyone he deems unimportant, results in his policies harming the people he should be protecting while enabling Salem's Divide and Conquer methods. By the end of Volume 7, he has become no better than Salem, perfectly willing to let half his kingdom die so he can put the other half under martial law to safeguard the Relics, violently lashing out at anyone who disagrees with him.

  • Girl Genius:
    • Othar Tryggvassen, Gentleman Adventurer! is convinced that all Sparks are a menace to the world and seeks to eliminate all of them, ending with himself. Read his rant.
    • Also in the same comic, Klaus Wulfenbach took over Europe and rules it with an iron fist to prevent Sparks from running wild and terrorizing the populace with pointless wars; it is implied (and later proven) that his rule is the only thing keeping all of Europa from looking like a post-1918 Western Front with a twist of Gaslamp Fantasy.
  • In the Thog Infinitron, the aliens that gave Thog his powers finally realize their mistake, and decide they must destroy Thog to hide their mistake, even though they admire him.)
  • Eerie Cuties: Tia Darkness is a pint-sized demoness who feeds on misery and discord. The inverse, is that displays of kindness, friendship, and happiness, can cause her to become physically ill. In extreme cases, it threatens to make her fade out of existence. Meaning, in all likelihood, she has no choice but to sow discord in order to sustain her existence.
  • In El Goonish Shive:
    • Abraham views his oath to kill the spawn of the Dewitchery Diamond this way. To his credit, the Dewitchery Diamond usually spawns highly dangerous beasts or monsters. In this case though, he has a crisis of conscience when he realizes that what the Diamond spawned this time was an innocent young girl... but ultimately decides that because he swore that oath, he must go through with it. Nanase eventually snaps him out of this by pointing out that he swore that oath with the intention of protecting innocent people: Ellen is an innocent person, so while killing her might fulfill the letter of his oath, it would violate the spirit of it. Abraham concedes the point and backs off.
    • Arthur, head of the Men In Black who uphold The Masquerade about magic, describes himself and his job like this. He believes in freedom for all, but also believes that some information should be hidden because it's just too dangerous for the general public to know about. He also strongly objects to the idea that his actions should ever be considered "good" in the grand scheme of things: Necessarily Evil is still evil, and to call it anything else is a trap that will lead to even greater evil.
  • This is how Vriska sees herself in Homestuck. She justifies her constant abuse and even sacrificing her teammates as being "for the greater good". Sometimes it seems she actually is right, but most of the time her "helpfulness" is ambiguous at best.

    Web Original 
  • Dino Attack RPG:
    • This is how General Evil initially viewed himself, explaining why George Ogel agreed to be called "General Evil" while serving under his brother. Despite genuinely believing that his beliefs were correct and ultimately for the greater good, he was aware that his morals would be considered "evil" by the general populace. These beliefs faded away after the incident which left his body scarred, after which it became personal.
    • Dr. Rex most likely knew that dooming his own species to extinction would be an act considered "evil", but in his delusions created by the Darkitect's manipulations, he believed that this was for the greater good of the universe.
  • The SCP Foundation is a single giant example of dog shooting, doing what's necessary, and protecting you from things you don't need to know about. The Ethics Committee makes sure that every evil that they do is necessary. Any scientists who Kick the Dog without a good reason (and no, For Science! is not a good reason) are punished appropriately (read: killed).
    • SCP-231 is contained by Procedure 110-Montauk, which is never described in detail, but the details we are told aboutnote  make it clear that what they are doing is subjecting an innocent young woman to a horrifically traumatizing procedure (which has to be traumatizing or else it won't work, so they have to keep wiping her memory of it every time she starts becoming desensitized to it), because if they don't, she will give birth to something undisclosed which poses a serious threat to everyone in the surrounding area and possibly life as we know it. An Easter Egg hidden on the page questions how necessary this evil actually is.
  • She-Beast of the Whateley Universe describes the international supervillain Dr. Diabolik like this, including talking about the thousands of people who have died in his efforts to advance the human race. She may be giving him more credit than he deserves though, since she is his daughter.
    • Now that we have seen him attack the entire city of Cincinnati, we know the truth. She didn't give him enough credit.
  • Several of the students in the experiment feel this way in Pyrrhic, as they are being forced to kill each other, so justifiably they can murder others to save themselves. DeQuan feels this way about plotting with Ryan to kill Joshua because of what he did to Chase.
  • In Rainbow Dash Presents: Captain Hook The Biker Gorilla (a parody of Rainbow Factory), Surprise is completely aware killing the foals is wrong and even admits staying up wondering what Pony Hell looks like and what her parents would think of her if they knew. But she sees what they are doing as necessary too and spends the episode trying to convince her new manager, Rainbow Dash, this. It's later revealed that it wasn't necessary after all.
  • Hellsing Ultimate Abridged: Anderson and his posse give a Badass Creed about how they are a necessary evil in episode 5.
    Anderson: Who are we?
    Iscariotis Soldiers: The necessary evil!
    Anderson: And why are we necessary?
    Iscariotis Soldiers: To purge the world of evil worse than man!
    Anderson: And why are we God's chosen few, ordained to undertake this unholy task?
    Iscariotis Soldiers: Because no one else will!
    Anderson: (brandishes bayonets) And because it's fucking fun! AHAHAHAHAHHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAMEEEEN!

    Western Animation 
  • The Shame Wizard from Big Mouth is the embodiment of shame and is always there to spread guilt amongst the main cast and all the other students in their grade. However, as he rightly points out in his song, without shame, things would devolve into a chaotic mess. Andrew himself also realizes that shame helps everyone reflect on their wrongdoings and gives them the chance to learn from it.
  • In the beginning of the Woody Woodpecker short Ration Bored, Woody himself flat out admits that he is a necessary evil. Given the context under which he said that, he could have meant it as a joke.
  • In the DC Animated Universe:
    • Amanda Waller saw Cadmus as a check as against the Justice League falling from grace.
    • The Justice Lords. They see themselves as being able to accomplish what the Justice League cannot.
  • Wonder Man in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes; the only reason he is acting as a member of the Masters of Evil is because their Black Magician Girl, the Enchantress, is the one casting the spell that allows him to stay alive, meaning he can only stay alive if he does what they say. Other than that, he has absolutely no interest in being a supervillain.
    • As it turns out, this was all a lie on The Enchantress' part. After The Masters of Evil broke up, there was nothing keeping him alive, except himself.
    • Kang the Conqueror seems to be an example of this. He came to the past to prevent an intergalactic war from destroying the Earth. Unfortunately, saving the Earth entailed taking it over and killing Captain America.
  • In The Flight of Dragons, this is stated to be the divine purpose of Ommadon, the Red Wizard of Fire and Darkness; his evil gives his benevolent brothers something to oppose and define themselves against, and without him they would be weak, flickering, purposeless beings.
  • Dr. Zoidberg's view on his people's brutal conquest and enslavement of Earth in Futurama after the Earthicans attempt to punish him for eating their flag on "Freedom Day." He felt this would teach them to actually value their freedom over mindless conformity. Fortunately he has a Heel Realization when the Decapodian Occupation Force killed his lawyer Free Waterfall, Jr., who had been the only man to actually defend his right to eat the flag.


Video Example(s):


...I'm a Necessary Evil.

After being caught and arrested, Yuri informs Jack that he will be released since that while he is an Arms Dealer that breaks international laws to deliver weapons to Warlords and Tyrants; unfortunately the customers he supplies them to are mutual enemies with other powers that the U.N. are fighting against, and that the US Government ships out more firearms than he does and do not want to be seen associating with making deals with the same Warlords unless Yuri is contracted to do it in their stead.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / NecessarilyEvil

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