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Pay Evil unto Evil
aka: Paying Evil Unto Evil

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"Men get arrested... dogs get put down!"
Rorschach, Watchmen

The dark, logical corollary to The Golden Rule.

So the character descends upon the settlement, burns their buildings, kills the inhabitants, takes their money and resources, and leaves, pleased that now he'll be able to buy that shiny new whatever-he-was-wanting.

Is this the new Big Bad? No! It's The Hero! ... oh wait, did you know that it was a settlement of bandits? A more Wretched Hive of arsonists, murderers, and jaywalkers never blemished a countryside.

Welcome to a special kind of morality where otherwise evil actions are considered okay because the victims deserved it. Like all tropes, this can played with any number of ways. It can be played straight, defied, deconstructed, or left disquietingly gray depending on the author. This one's very common with Revenge stories in general, since revenge at its core is a viciously personal case of Paying Evil Unto Evil, and when one is broken to the core by the suffering brought by the evil, even a desperate Revenge by Proxy becomes justifiable (or at least it will seem that way to the one taking revenge). Alternatively, the hero may use such tactics as part of a deliberate and calculated strategy to break the villains' morale.


Expect an extra heavy Villain Ball complete with kicking dogs by the Asshole Victim if the author especially wants you to know it's okay. The plot often uses this with a "people whom the law let get away" Karma Houdini combination. The villain may call out a Not So Different speech to the "hero" as a final insult.

This sort of character often gains an Inspector Javert opponent, whose rightness depends from case to case.

It is also a common and effective way to give a Sympathetic P.O.V. to an Anti-Hero in works with Black and Gray Morality. In darker Crime and Punishment Series, this is often the reaction of the police department to Cop Killers (to the point of becoming Police Brutality).

And should a person has trouble doing this on their own, they can always ask for a helping hand.

If a victim of evil, or a Badass Pacifist, chooses not to Pay Evil Unto Evil, they may decide to Turn the Other Cheek. How effective either response is will depend on where the work falls on the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism.


Contrast with If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him, The Farmer and the Viper, and Kick the Son of a Bitch (when the victim in question isn't recognized by the person victimizing them for the bad things they've done; the lines may be blurred in cases where the person inflicting harm was, at the core, just looking for someone to hurt and decided to use the victim's scumminess as an excuse to harm them). Depending on the depiction, Hell may also serve as an extreme example, where those who do evil are punished forever with various torments you certainly wouldn't call good. May overlap with Disproportionate Retribution.

See also Vigilante Man, Just Like Robin Hood, Bully Hunter, Serial-Killer Killer, Unscrupulous Hero, Wife-Basher Basher, Karmic Thief, and He Who Fights Monsters.

In real life, the sort of thinking behind this trope is called "retributive justice".


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    Anime & Manga 
  • 18if: In his journey across the Dream Land, Haruto finds that the Witch Mana has been killing people in her dreams, which has the effect of killing them in the real world. Thing is, Mana's victims are the same people who killed her family For the Evulz and got light sentences for being minors. When he catches up to Mana, he doesn't even attempt to stop her, he even helps her kill the last man when he attempts to fight back and even expresses his intention to use the dream world as a new way to kill people. Haruto even comes to the realization that killing those people is the only way Mana will get closure for her family's death.
  • Akame ga Kill! follows a group of assassins who only kill people who have proven to be guilty of crimes not punished by the corrupt government they live under, such as human trafficking, murder, torture, and human experimentation. They do not sugar coat what they do. They are murderers, killers, and sinners, and in no way, shape, or form are they the good guys, even if what they do is good. They are also perfectly willing to kill anyone they have to, including guards, servants, and relatives of the people they kill, even if they are loosely connected to the crime. They also only kill those they have been paid to, and many of their clients work themselves to death raising the money.
    • In the manga version, Everyone in the Imperial Capital gets to do this to Prime Minister Honest, the corrupt ruler of the Empire. They have him tied down and take turns ripping him apart one piece at a time, making Honest feel the pain of all the people he's made suffer under his reign. In the anime version, Leone brutally beats Honest to death herself, slowly and painfully.
    • Akame does this to Izou of Wild Hunt as he is dying from a wound she inflicted on him. Said katana wielder is a mass murderer was responsible for killing a fellow Night Raid member. So when Izou asks Akame to take his katana, she responds by cutting his chest open while he's down, brutally refusing his final request. It's very cathartic.
  • The titular Akumetsu's modus operandi. Corrupt politicians get buried in bridges, injected with tainted medicine, thrown off buildings, shot, or just hacked to death with an axe.
    • So much Nightmare Fuel. The last 'normal' Akumetsu he does involves entombing alive an old guy whose sin was apparently not being corrupt or evil or twisted but really liking highways, and building unnecessary ones with public monies. Not only that, the old guy doesn't even get the chance to go out in privacy, he has to deal with a camera and a smirking Akumetsu who's just going to have his consciousness copied into a new body when he dies, and so isn't actually sacrificing much. Good thing the yakuza weighed in at this point.
    • The axe guy, on the other hand, was repulsive in every possible way, and made a pretty good debut. Given our viewpoint character was the first-day-as-a-teen-prostitute girl he was making lick his sweaty feet when Akumetsu came in, we were so glad to see his head split.
  • Eren in Attack on Titan, when he kills the first two traffickers that kidnapped Mikasa. It establishes that Eren was never completely pacifistic, but the victims really had it coming to them. By the way, Eren was seven when this happened.
    I merely put down some rabid dogs. Sometimes they just happen to look like people.
  • In Baccano!, two separate gangs try to take over the same train independently, and neither side is worried about innocent casualties (the black suits were actually planning to kill everyone whether their demands are met or not). Claire Stanfield proceeds to kill them all in some of the most gruesome ways possible — but he remains one of the most popular characters in the series.
  • Berserk: Guts does terrible, terrible things to those he kills. Said things are The Legions of Hell, humans who sold themselves to the lords of Hell, or worse. It's hard not to cheer.
  • Bleach:
    • Mayuri, while barely qualifying as a hero, has a couple of moments. He kills Szayel by using him as a test subject for a drug that makes Szayel feel like he's experiencing a slow, agonizing death over centuries. Despite Szayel's torture of Renji and Uryuu and his forcible impregnation of Nemu, Mayuri feels Szayel's cardinal sin is to seek, and claim to have found, perfection — for which he believes a torturous death via an experimental drug is an acceptable way to die.
    • Giselle Gewelle is an abusive, sadistic troll who gleefully transforms people into her zombie slaves. Mayuri, using the blood of his Arrancar zombies, actually reprograms Giselle's zombies into his zombies, which then turn on her and impale her with extreme prejudice.
  • Bokurano has Chizuru slaughtering her rapists with Zearth's lasers. While they had it coming, she goes straight into Kick the Dog territory when she notices that one of her attackers is carrying his young daughter and vaporizes him anyway, presumably killing the kid as well.
  • After he stops killing clones en masse in a "level up" experiment, Accelerator from A Certain Magical Index pretty much decides on this when dealing with anyone he sees harming innocent people, usually ending in a swift or painful death, and he holds little remorse for it.
  • As Ogami Rei's motto states in Code:Breaker, "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, evil for evil".
  • In Code Geass, Lelouch has moments of this. The first and foremost example of this is how he turns a terrorist group into rebels with good publicity by convincing them to attack anyone who abuses power, as opposed to simply attacking the government and letting Britannian casualties fall where they would (as they had in the past).
    • Lelouch has an infamous line in the second series: "I commit evil to fight the greater evil!". However, he is willing to commit hypocrisy on this regard if it will serve the interest of his goal.
    • Charles zi Britannia doing this to V. V. by taking his code and leaving him to die may look like a case of Kick the Son of a Bitch, but it reveals itself as this trope upon the revelation that V. V. was the one who killed Marianne, and Charles was finally getting back at him for that and all of his other lies.
  • Death Note: Light Yagami murders dozens of people on a daily basis in spasms of Unholy Satanic Glee because they're criminals...or someone said they're criminals. It goes downhill from there.
    • L locks people up in solitary confinement and uses sensory deprivation on them for months on end in order to get a confession, and he has few qualms about letting a few dozen people die in order to catch his man (although when presented with a less objectionable option, he did accept it with enthusiasm of an undetermined sincerity level).
    • Teru Mikami believed this even without the super-temptation book of When All You Have Is a Hammer.... When he got one, he did something similar to Light.
  • Masaru and ShineGreymon from Digimon Savers finish off Kurata as he's pleading for his life. Normally, trying to kill someone who is begging you for mercy is a sign you're either a villain or at best, an Anti-Hero. However, when that someone is the biggest bastard in the history of Digimon, circumstances are different — all his friends cheered him on and told him to kick Kurata's ass.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Goku was merciless towards his enemies when he was a child. If you harmed his friends, someone he liked, or just got him mad enough, he paid it back with violent retribution, not really caring if he ended up killing or crippling the person. If you, god-forbid, actually killed someone he cared about, then your life was practically forfeit. He hunted down and killed Demon King Piccolo and all his children after they murdered his best friend, Krillin, and father figure, Master Roshi. Although Goku is much more chill as an adult, some of this attitude still remains. This can be seen with his fight against Frieza. Frieza's entire fighting style is torturing people to death by physically overwhelming them with his power and pushing them to utter despair by making them die knowing that they never stood a chance against him. After Goku becomes a Super Saiyan, he spends almost the entire fight toying with and brutalizing Frieza just as he had done to his victims. The only reason why Goku tries to spare Frieza is because he sees letting Frieza live with his pride shattered is the cruelest punishment possible.
    • His son, Gohan, wholly embraces this mindset after becoming a Super Saiyan 2. He didn't just want to beat Cell, he wanted to torture the Bio-Android to death and have him die in despair for the crimes he committed. It backfires when Cell decides to blow himself and the Earth up, which not only makes Goku sacrifice himself to relocate Cell, it lets Cell come back strong enough to challenge Gohan and kill Trunks on the side. And Gohan very much realizes it's his fault. Thankfully, Gohan turns it around when he manages to destroy Cell in the final battle.
    • After becoming mostly good, Piccolo takes up this mantle. He will kill his enemies without hesitation and will sometimes do it in a most brutal manner, such as cutting Doctor Gero's hand off and slicing Babidi in half.
    • Vegeta was essentially this trope incarnate during the Namek and Frieza sagas. When he wasn’t searching for the Dragon Balls to become immortal, he was assassinating Frieza’s henchmen left and right, who were every bit the asshole he was if not more so. Jeice and Android 19 stand out as some of his cruelest murders; while both deserved their fates, they spent their last moments begging for their life and running away in terror respectively.
    • When he returns to the future much stronger after the Cell Games, Future Trunks subjects the future Androids 17 and 18, two Robotic Psychopaths who rampaged across the Earth for twenty years killing whoever and whenever they wanted, to this. He even states outright that he's doing to them exactly what they did to Future Gohan, his mentor/surrogate brother: making them feel completely outmatched, helpless, and afraid before killing them.
    • The Tuffles were reduced to near-extinction by the Saiyans in the aftermath of the Saiyan-Tuffle war, forcing them to throw away their morality for survival and revenge against the Saiyans. As a result, the last two survivors of the Tuffle race, Doctor Raichi and Baby, are utterly dedicated to total genocide of the Saiyans as a necessary goal to the revival of the Tuffle race.
    • In Super, there's Beerus' execution of Zamasu. It is one of the cruelest deaths in the series, given how Beerus slowly atomized him to the point that Zamasu is left screaming in anguish, even with his head gone. However, given that Zamasu tried to kill his master and was happy to hear that his future counterpart has been murdering mortals in the future, it's hard to feel sympathy for him.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Scar's mission upon gaining his alchemic right arm from his brother is to use alchemy itself (stopping at the second out of the three stages, Destroy, so as to not go against his religious beliefs) to kill all the State Alchemists in vengeance for the mass genocide they committed against the Ishvalan people.
    • This is the comeuppance of Envy. He's slowly and methodically tortured by Roy Mustang, and despite him completely deserving the pain he goes through, it's still unnerving to see Mustang like this. Roy is ultimately subject to the What the Hell, Hero? treatment from all his nearby allies that shames him out of taking the final blow.
  • Togusa in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: 2nd Gig tries, but fails, to defend a woman from her cyborg boyfriend while off-duty. During the subsequent trial, the man's lawyer attempts to make Togusa look bad by claiming Togusa acted out of hatred for cyborgs. Following the trial, the lawyer and the convict get into a serious car accident, which is implied to have been set up by Section 9.
  • Goblin Slayer features the titular goblins, a One-Gender Race of violent, depraved sadists with no redeeming qualities who burn down villages and rape women to death, who in turn are brutally butchered by the dozens by the titular Goblin Slayer, who has no qualms with literally bashing in the brains of goblin babies just to ensure that none of them will live to consider avenging their families.
  • Hell Girl runs on this trope. For the most part, the people getting sent to Hell are Asshole Victims and are sent by someone they tormented.
  • Alucard in Hellsing (the TV version) fits... maybe until near the end. Not so much in the manga and OVA where he's a little less discriminating (as some hapless SWAT soldiers find out).
  • Invoked by Yuu from Holyland before he fights Taka in Masaki's stead. "All I know is that I will answer malice... with violence."
  • The premise of Kurosagi is about a man who commits fraud to cheat, humiliate and otherwise destroy people who had defrauded others first. Likewise, his Worthy Opponent is a large-scale swindler who goes after "rotten" companies that ruin its employees' lives.
  • In Mai-Otome, Tomoe was probably the most evil character in the series, up to arranging an Attempted Rape on Arika because she saw her as a threat to her True Love for Shizuru. When Tomoe finally joined the enemy, she was "rewarded" with Shizuru as a Sex Slave, a job which Shizuru not only wanted (because it put her where she needed to be for the Grand Finale) but thoroughly enjoyed while she had it. When it came time for the finale, Shizuru openly told Tomoe that, yes, she'd been using Tomoe the whole way, and maybe that would teach Tomoe not to play with people's emotions. If Tomoe had been an ounce less evil, that would have come across as undeniably vile behavior.
  • Thoroughly deconstructed in Monster, although it is played straight in the first couple of episodes when Tenma, in a fit of rage, declares that his superiors should die. They indeed do so, whereupon the trope is deconstructed since it is the audience, not the characters, who wholeheartedly approve of the act.
  • Overlord:
    • Ainz, after No Selling Clementine's attacks, grabs her and slowly bearhugs her to death as payback for her killing of the Swords of Darkness, especially torturing Ninya to death. Given her nature and actions, it's rather cathartic to see her helplessly struggle against her impending doom against an enemy she can't possibly defeat (something she herself enjoyed forcing on others).
    • Also applies to the soldiers attacking Carne Village who seemed to have no problem slaughtering unarmed civilians... until Ainz shows up and destroys them all.
    • Sebas' raid on the Eight Fingers brothel, in which he punches a man to death (said man was in the habit of beating prostitutes to death) and later disintegrates their enforcers in less than ten seconds. The surviving Eight Fingers are allowed to continue living as Nazarick's agents... after they go through a little light torture in the form of having their organs eaten by cockroaches from the inside, healed by magic, then having their organs eaten by cockroaches from the inside, healed by magic, and so on. After the ordeal, not only are they incapable of eating solid food, they wouldn't dream of disobeying Nazarick but also make sure no one else in their organization gives Nazarick cause to apply the same treatment to them.
    • Viciously subverted during the Invaders arc, where we're introduced to the Workers (adventurers who take on less legal but more rewarding jobs) and the entirely reasonable and sympathetic motivations for why they agreed to investigate a newly-discovered ruin called Nazarick. Unfortunately, Momon takes them at their word when they simply reply "Money" as their motivation, and what follows is a relentlessly brutal Mook Horror Show starring the laughably outmatched workers (even the Token Evil Teammate suffers a death that is merely humiliating rather than horrifyingly painful or sentenced to be tortured for what's left of their lives).
    • The Crown Prince attacks Carne when they refuse to let him in (so he won't see they now have goblins and ogres working alongside them). As he's already considered a waste of oxygen by his own allies, no one mourns when he ends up killed by a goblin army and Lupusregina.
  • In Pokémon, Ash and friends are normally perfectly content to allow the Big Bad to be quietly arrested, but in dealing with Grings Kodai, the Big Bad of Pokémon: Zoroark: Master of Illusions, they, and even the cops, arranged for him to watch as his Evil Gloating is broadcast live on his own TV station, pretty much forcing him to watch his public humiliation. While harsh for them, Kodai was an absolute sociopath who committed the anime's first true murder of a Pokémon and electrocuted a baby right in front of its mother with no remorse.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion ends with Kyubey being beat up to pulp after his experiment goes wrong, before becoming Homura's servant by the end of the movie.
  • Very occasionally done in Ranma ½. It's full of Jerkass characters, so there's rarely a shortage of asshole victims, but very few actually practice this MO, mind you. Ranma is the straightest example and once, he mastered the Hiryuu Shoten-Ha to use against Happousai. Mousse, Kuno, Principal Kuno, and Gosunkugi all charge into the battle to beat on Ranma; nice guy that he is, Ranma hesitates to use his new attack out of concern they'll all be caught in the massive blast. Then he remembers how the same four characters had earlier viciously ganged up on him when he was too weak to defend himself. He promptly launches the attack.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, the philosophy of Historical Domain Character Saito Hajime, "Aku Soku Zan", can be loosely translated as "Slay Evil Immediately". A great many evildoers that crossed him didn't survive the experience. Though he himself is more of a Noble Demon, not wholly on the heroes' sides. At the beginning of the series, he's a police officer with apparently a covert license to kill, offing a corrupt official. He's like a saner Kurogasa, really, without the nihilism. (The real Saitou spent a considerable period with the police, but he appears to have been quite an ordinary member of the force.)
  • In Saint Beast, purging angels is about the worst thing you can do to them, and Zeus does it to make heaven pure.
  • Kazuma in s-CRY-ed at times, particularly after Kimishima is killed and he decides to go wreck the nearest unit with a HOLY emblem on it.
  • Sword Art Online:
  • Lunatic from Tiger & Bunny is a big subscriber to this philosophy, and will even kill criminals who have already been arrested and/or imprisoned if he decides they're sufficiently heinous. On the other hand, his sense of honor is strong enough that he goes out of his way to protect Kotetsu when the latter is falsely accused of murder.
  • Tokyo Ghoul: Kaneki develops this mentality after enduring ten days of Cold-Blooded Torture at the hands of the psychotic Ghoul Yamori and escaping, starting when he beats Yamori into submission, eats his kagune, and leaves him to the mercy of the CCG.
    Kaneki: Remember, you're the one that tried to eat me first. So, you'll get what's coming to you... when I eat you instead.
  • In Toriko, Zebra of the Four Emperors was imprisoned for life for single-handedly hunting 26 different species to extinction. However, we later find out that they all messed up the ecosystems they were in, and quite possibly they were vicious, mindless living weapons sent there by an enemy. He doesn't exactly do this intentionally, though.
  • The basic premise of the assassin organization Weiß Kreuz is to commit sinful murders to "deny these evil beasts their tomorrows." (Almost subverted, however, since the organization is extremely indifferent, and barely better than the villains it sends our assassins to kill.)
  • Uchi no Musume ni Te o Dasu na!: In chapter 16, Hana explains that the Japanese government had Zenovia shot down, as she descended to Earth. After capturing her, government officials had her repeatedly gang raped by supervillains and extracted her ovum each time she was impregnated, until they had an army of super beings. Zenovia was eventually rescued and turned against all of humanity for what was done to her.
  • Zig-zagged in Yu-Gi-Oh!, especially in the early installments, back when the series was still intended to be a horror story and Yami Yugi was a dark avenger, taking on a variety of bullies and crooks on the behalf of Yugi and his friends, frequently with Penalty Games. It's ambiguous whether any of them died from the treatment, but more than one would be hospitalised. The adults are usually either too powerless to help, and the police don't seem to exist. This character habit is later toned down when the move towards tournament arcs takes precedence, and the character needed to evolve from an anti-hero to a generally mysterious hero. Bakura later points out in Millennium World that the Millennium Items themselves are a compass between good and evil, and can corrupt the people trying to use them to do 'justice' of any sort. The one exception to this treatment is Kaiba — Yami's second penalty game is designed to give him a spiritual rehabilitation, after some effort.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V plays with and discusses this trope. Several Anti-Hero protagonists follow this trope, and while the main character is morally opposed, he has a Super-Powered Evil Side that plays this straight. Occasionally when there's a particularly obvious example, the protagonists will usually have an inner monologue or talk with each other about what happened and how they think the situation should have been handled.

    Comic Books 
  • This is the justification of The Punisher, who brutally guns down criminals. How this is received depends on where in the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism the comic he's appearing in is. But one thing's for sure. If he has you on his list, he will kick you when you are down. And shoot you. And throw a grenade on you. And push you in front of a moving subway train. And pull out all your teeth while you're tied to a dentist's chair. And run you over with his car, then back up and run you over again. And hook your balls up to a car battery, turn the ignition key until you've shit all over yourself, and then turn the key some more. If you're on his list, you deserve everything he does to you. So don't get on Frank's list.
    • The MAX arc "The Slavers" is one of the more infamous examples of this trope. In it, Castle's fighting a group of war criminals turned human traffickers who do horrible, horrible things to their captives. When Castle finds one of the three ringleaders of the operation, he douses the guy with fuel and burns him alive. Let's just say Castle spends the rest of the arc using other inventive methods to mete out payback.
      • The other two ringleaders (one of which is the fuel-doused one's son) were also disposed of in very graphic ways. The woman responsible for the more practical aspects (such as having the girls raped for twenty-four hours so they don't even think of rebelling) was thrown against a shatterproof window face-first multiple times till the window frame broke, making her do a swan dive many stories high. The son ended up getting drugged, dragged out into the wilderness, his stomach slit open, and hung from his own entrails on a tree branch. Then Frank WOKE HIM UP before letting him bleed out.
      • "It had been a long, long time since I hated anyone the way I hated them."
    • Lampshaded in "Welcome Back, Frank", where a victim that he left helpless in a gasoline-doused house is screaming that he's no different from her. The Punisher turns back to the mansion with a grenade, calmly replies "Tell me something I don't know," and pulls the pin.
    • Nicky Cavella digs up the Punisher's family and pisses on their bones, believing this will enrage Frank and make him easier to kill. Instead, Frank hits every Mafia operation even harder until Cavella is abandoned by his own troops, realizing how useless he is, and Frank leaves him to die over several days of a gutshot wound. During Frank's rampage, the city is torn between letting Frank do his thing and actually upholding the law, and settle for reburying Frank's family (Cavella gets taken out quickly after).
  • On the DC side of things, The Spectre is pretty much the poster boy for this trope. Depending on the writer, it's usually somewhere between "implied" and "outright stated, there on page 2" that the Spectre is the embodiment of the wrath of God, and he's usually more than willing to outright torture people that "deserve it." In the darker arcs, it's made clear that as far as the Spectre is concerned, everybody "deserves it" (in the "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" sense) and he's actually holding/being held back most of the time.
  • Played with Batman, surprisingly. His MO involves terrorizing criminals and pummeling them within an inch of their lives, but he (generally) refuses to kill, and he does indeed have a very strong belief in justice, and believes that you can't fix the system if you yourself are hindering it. Of course, this all depends on the writer. Sometimes he's a borderline outlaw who doesn't give a damn about the law, and will even beat the hell out of petty criminals. But other times he will having varying levels of tolerance towards certain criminals. Two contrasting examples would be Batman: No Man's Land and Noel. Particularly notable is the example of Joe Chill: On one occasion, Batman scared him to almost lunacy, and after revealing his secret identity to him, he brought his gun to him so he would blow his own brains out before the other criminals would kill him in retaliation.
  • Jason Todd tended toward this attitude during his career as Robin. Since he came back from the dead, he's denied Batman's Thou Shalt Not Kill rule and considers himself Batman as he should be.
    • This is shown even more in Batman: Under the Red Hood. It starts with Joker beating Jason senselessly with a crowbar, and then killing him with a bomb. It ends with Jason beating Joker back with a crowbar, and then attempting to kill him with a bomb!
      Jason: I'm not talking about killing Penguin, or Scarecrow, or Dent... I'm talking about him. Just him! And doing it because... he took me away from you.
    • Shortly prior to the end of his career as Robin, Jason encounters a rapist who had driven one of his victims to commit suicide. The rapist then fell to his death; it is heavily implied that Jason pushed him.
    • The Storyline Red Hood: The Lost Days has numerous examples of this trope. At various points in the book Jason poisons a trafficker, leaves a bomb maker tied to a large time bomb, douses the Joker in gasoline, and brutally murders each criminal he hires to train him.
  • Every time Magneto clashes with anti-mutant hate groups. Magneto is Jewish and survived the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp. The Red Skull is a Nazi. While working together during Acts Of Vengeance, Magneto decided to get some revenge on the Red Skull, beating the living crap out of him and leaving him in a Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere with some jugs of water and his own thoughts.
  • So according to Wikipedia, when Bart Allen ended his tenure as the Flash by dying, Wally West reappeared and took down Bart's nemesis Inertia. The punishment? Wally froze Inertia in time, but left his mind running. Then he stuck him on display in the Flash Museum, forcing Inertia to forever STARE at statues of Bart. How is that NOT cruel and unusual?
  • Marv of Sin City inflicts on various criminals horrible torture which would maybe even make Jack Bauer sick. He's kind of like Dexter in being a pretty messed up person himself. But when the Sociopathic Hero brutally tortures and dismembers the bad guys, few readers will shed a tear. Lampshaded in the film, when Marv remarks "I love hitmen. No matter what you do to them, you don't feel bad."
  • Rorschach from Watchmen has this as his MO, although he ranks sex along with murder on the scale of morality, and proceeds to break a guy's fingers just for calling attention to the fact that he is, uh, hygienically challenged.
    • To provide some context, he'd gone into an apparently-random dive bar to try and get information out of the patrons, and the crack about his hygiene was why he picked on that particular guy. (This worked about as well as you might expect.)
    • And in his monologues he implies that this is his standard method for gathering information: walk into some underworld dive, and break bones of random people until someone confesses something.
    • Rorscharch's shifting inkblot mask also symbolically adds to this, with his mask being a direct representation of how he sees the world: through an extreme filter of Black and White. In his words, "there is no bullshit grey", a crime is a crime no matter how small and must be rightfully punished.
    • Granted the guy is Ax-Crazy, so we're not supposed to think it's okay.
    • A clearer example is the incident that drives Rorschach Ax-Crazy. He tracks a child abductor to his home, only to find out that the abductor has murdered the little girl he kidnapped, chopped her into pieces, and fed her to his dogs. Rorschach responds by killing the guy's dogs, waiting for him to return home, throwing his dead dogs at him, beating him half to death, then handcuffing him in place and killing him as he screams for mercy and begs to simply be arrested (the method differs here; in the original comic, he burns the place down, frying the man alive, while in the movie, he simply splits the guy's head open repeatedly with the same meat cleaver as he growls, "Men get arrested, dogs get put down!")
  • In Miracleman, Johnny Bates performs his final transformation into Kid Miracleman while being raped by a bully, then spends about three seconds paying evil unto evil before paying evil unto just about everyone else.
  • One of the Ghost Rider's powers is the penance stare; he can cause a villain exactly as much pain as the villain has inflicted upon innocents. Usually, this ends up leaving the villain catatonic.
  • Daredevil does this to Bullseye when he attacks Hell's Kitchen again. His solution? Break his arms and impale him with a sai. Also functions as a Karmic Death after what happened with Elektra, who wields sai as her Weapon of Choice.
  • Back in the 1970s comics, Superman in his Clark Kent persona had a co-worker named Steve Lombard, who was a little bit of a bully, generally in the form of "practical jokes" such as using a fountain pen to spray ink all over someone's face. For reasons one hopes are obvious, they tended to backfire when he attempted to pull them on Clark (or anyone else when Clark was around). Not very high on the evil scale, of course, but without Steve's initial malicious intent Superman would have quickly come to look like a first-class jerk.
  • In American Vampire, you have Pearl's revenge on the Hollywood Coven. Not to mention what Hattie ends up doing to the vamps keeping her prisoner...
  • What is considered Cyclops' Moral Event Horizon by many is when he formed X-Force to do this. To provide context, following Decimation, the Purifiers had started a war against what was left of the world's mutants, almost all of whom had taken refuge in the X-Mansion. They started by attacking the children, brutally murdering many and causing a lot of pain to many more, driving Dust to question her faith. When Hope was born and people realized that she was the mutant Messiah, The Purifiers decided to kill her, so Cyclops formed X-Force and sent them out to stop them, any means necessary. The team basically goes around killing madmen who pose great risk to the rest of the mutant population or humanity in general. Once Mutant births start happening again and people start developing mutant powers following the death of Purifier leader Bastion, Cyclops disbands them so they can go back to the way things were. Many still consider this a dick move of his, but in retrospect, had he not done this, many more would have died and the Purifiers may have in fact killed them all. In-Universe, however, many still dislike him doing this, but that dislike mostly boils down to him not telling anyone about it and recruiting relative innocents (along with someone being actively rehabilitated) for the wetwork.
  • In the '90s Anti-Hero version, Morbius the Living Vampire uses this as a solution to slake his bloodthirst, figuring that if he needs to kill, he'll kill serious criminals.
  • V from V for Vendetta personally murders every single staff member of the concentration camp where he was imprisoned, as well as a few other people, and commits terrorist attacks against the fascist regime that has taken over Britain. The moral ambiguity does not go unmentioned, but the people who he kills are honestly very bad people.
  • Johnny the Homicidal Maniac likes to use this to justify his many, many murders—and the way he tortures his victims beforehand. Sometimes, it really is justified, in the cases of a paedophile and a rapist. Sometimes, it's because he got called a mean name or hates someone's tie. Sometimes, he accidentally grabs a legitimately good person and kills him anyway. He's not exactly sane, though readers somehow end up rooting for him anyway (or just laughing at the carnage).
  • Deconstructed in Green Lantern: Amon Sur fled from the Sinestro Corps War and went to the recently deceased Green Lantern Ke'Haan's home world, killing his family. The Green Lantern Laira, who was in love with Ke'Haan, killed Amon when he smugly surrendered. She is promptly arrested, because, bastard or no, she murdered a surrendering enemy in cold blood, and the Lanterns realized now that with the rings authorized for lethal force, they could easily abuse their power like she did.
  • In the Disney Ducks Comic Universe this is the modus operandi of Paperinik (Donald's superhero/antihero alter ego). Even if he stops well short of killing or crippling, Duckburg's entire criminal underworld is absolutely terrified of him because of the savage and humiliating beatings he inflicts whatever criminal is stupid enough to resist... And at the same time rely on him as a protector from anyone, hero or otherwise, that goes overboard, as Paperinik will then turn his attention on them.
  • The post-Infinite Crisis version of Checkmate began on this note, with the supposedly heroic organization, which included a Darker and Edgier version of the JLA eye candy character Fire, committing cold-blooded killings against the terrorist organization KOBRA. This is in fact a major plot element of the first story arc, as traditionalist characters such as the original Green Lantern tended to call Checkmate up on this. Afterwards, however, this aspect of the organization faded into the background and later issues tended not to focus on the "wet work" aspect of Checkmate.
  • The Transformers (IDW):
    • Deconstructed in The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers: The Wreckers fight Squadron X, a team of dangerous and deadly Decepticons, and defeat them. When Prowl tells them that they have to let them go because the battle was on a protected planet, Impactor walks into their cell, and shoots them all in the head when they're restrained. He's arrested and sent to a maximum security prison. His protege Springer testifies against him, and later when he tries to defend himself, Springer tells him "They deserved to die, but you didn't deserve to kill them." Roadbuster reveals that the team approved of his actions, but they were afraid of prison time, so they pretended to agree with Springer.
    • Further deconstructed in The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye by the same author. First Aid suffers an emotional breakdown after invoking this trope on Pharma, showing that the average person is ill-suited to such violence. Whirl engages in this from time to time, but it's always used to show how dangerously unhinged he is, such as when he brutally murders an unarmed gangster out of nowhere in retaliation for crimes the guy's bosses committed.
  • X-23's whole life has revolved around this:
    • This was also an incidental reason for her creation in the first place: While many of the Facility's clients for her services were certainly bad men (among the bidders shown in one conference are Mr. Sinister, Doctor Doom, and the freakin' Red Skull), many of her targets ended up being rather bad men (dictators, drug czars, etc.) as well. Sarah also uses her to track down and murder the serial killer who abducted her niece, while Rice sending her to kill Sutter crosses over with Kick the Son of a Bitch, as Sutter may not have abused her himself, but he sure as hell enabled everything.
    • Though she was bred to be an emotionless killing machine and racked up a body count in the hundreds by the time she was a teenager, she was also horrifically tortured and abused by the Facility, the organization which created her. Her mother, the geneticist who created her, finally had enough, and turned Laura loose against them. Dialog in Target X suggests that she slaughtered everyone in the installation housing her. This would mean not just the surgical head, (who Laura beat to death bare-handed over ten fucking minutes) guards and scientists, but the receptionists, janitorial staff. Everyone. Of course, this was an organization that performed human experimentation, sold Laura's services to people like the Kingpin, and were preparing to breed an army of clones to sell to anyone with the cash.
    • After her escape, Laura's cold detachment towards killing and torturing her enemies means she does this a lot when her friends and teammates are unwilling to do so themselves, which except when she's serving on X-Force (a whole team of X-Men like Wolverine who are willing to pay evil unto evil) is pretty much all the time. Not that she doesn't get called out on her methods.
  • The Authority has no problem going after villains using similar tactics, as among other things, the Midnighter smashed a ship into they invaded another universe's Earth and destroyed that countries Italy to cripple an invading force after an attempted invasion, and had a scene where Midnighter confronts the man who is implied to have raped Apollo and it's similarly implied Midnighter was going to use a jackhammer to return the favor.
  • Prior to the 2000s, the island nation of Genosha in X-Men was a brutal place that enslaved its mutant population and treated them horribly. This ultimately led to its downfall in the 1993 "Bloodties" event, when the malevolent Fabian Cortez was able to play on lingering resentment amongst the mutant populace - newly freed after "X-Tinction" - to provoke them to a bloody rebellion. When Magneto was given dominion over the still war-wracked island in 1999's "Magneto Rex", he sat back and encouraged the mutants to exterminate and expel all of Genosha's native human population, who had profited so much from the misery of its mutants.
  • In Infinite Crisis, the bad guys use the radiation-powered supervillain Chemo to reduce the entire city of Bludhaven to a bombed-out wasteland. Bludhaven just so happens to be one of the most corrupt cities in the US (even worse than Gotham), and its destruction is immediately preceded by scenes of how horrible virtually everyone in it is, including a panel of the mayor taking bribes from supervillains.

    Fan Works 
  • Bill does this to Lars in Chapter Three of A Triangle in the Stars after one too many insults. Mainly by having the little cloud above his head shock his ear and then rain on the young man. Steven doesn't take it well, unlike usual witness examples to Asshole Victim and this trope, which surprises and confuses the demon.
  • Child of the Storm has Magneto, Loki, and Doctor Strange as the characters who are most willing to cross the line (Loki casually blinding Sabretooth, Magneto's creatively Cruel Mercy to the Winter Guard, and Doctor Strange's , though many of the adult characters - and even some of the younger ones - have dabbled in it. Wanda ends up melting Sinister - or one of his bodies, at least - alive when she catches up to him, and Asshole Victim or not, that's no small matter. However, it's portrayed as Dirty Business even when it's done for good reasons: in Loki and Magneto's cases, it's a demonstration that they're Reformed Not Tamed, in Doctor Strange's it's a demonstration that his air of harmless mischief is a mask for someone incredibly frightening, and in Wanda's, it underlines the recurring point that she's Not So Different from her father, not matter what she might like to think. It's also portrayed as extremely disturbing/a sign of imminent mental breakdown when one of the younger characters touches on it.
  • Mortality has Watson coldly interrogating a criminal for his friend's whereabouts, most likely killing the criminal and remorselessly killing Smith. Granted, he did torture Holmes with an inch of his life and gloat over the guy while he's dying.
  • Nobody Dies has Rei (yes, that Rei) executing very cruel tricks on people who mess with her friends. Other than her love of blackmail, her most cruel thing was to film Kyoko Zeppelin getting it on with her ex-husband in a storage closet during the school dance then put the footage on Youtube. And Yui forbid taking it down. Why? The bitch ruined her daughter's happiest moment in life out of sadism. Rei had to be specifically ordered to leave Kyoko alone when it looked like as if she was regularly beating Asuka (even though no one liked this order one bit, Misato had to be physically restrained from issuing a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown). It helps that everyone is scared shitless of Rei and she knows it very well.
    Rei: Asuka is my friend and if you touch her... (psychotic grin) I touch you. 'Kay?
  • In the fanfic ARSENAL, the three troubleshooters hired by Gendo to retake control of NERV are punished for the horrific actions they performed (the least of which being murdering dozens of civilians evacuating Tokyo-3 on the eve of an Angel attack) in horrifying ways. Quite a few fans were disquieted by their punishments, considering them too brutal.
  • Rose Potter has this philosophy in the Mary Sue fic The Girl Who Lived.
  • In Invader Zim: The Series, most of the villains end up switching sides or simply being defeated. However, the Irken Zoburg - a Mad Scientist with a long, long list of Kick the Dog moments - is dealt a Fate Worse than Death: he's crucified to a rocket and launched into orbit, where his pressurized armor will ensure he stays alive long enough to starve to death. This would be considered a Moral Event Horizon for the protagonist responsible, except that Zoburg's last act prior to this was to torture said protagonist's little brother to death (purely For the Evulz), so he's excused for taking his revenge.
  • The Immortal Game: Twilight Sparkle's brutal execution of General Esteem borders on the Moral Event Horizon, but considering that the latter willingly sold out the entire world to Titan, is the one who turned Twilight into Nihilus, and just confessed to killing and eating Spikenote , it was probably still better than he deserved.
  • The Nameless Passenger from the Pony POV Series is a Deconstruction of the this trope. It is out for Revenge on Discord and wants to make him pay for everything he's done and believes crimes can't be forgiven. This leads it to extend this belief to his minions, the majority of which are brainwashed or otherwise unwilling, and try to convince Twilight to kill them. It turns out she's actually Nightmare Paradox, Twilight's potential future Superpowered Evil Side and the true Big Bad of Dark World. She'd managed to Set Right What Once Went Wrong and decided before the Cosmic Retcon took full effect to go Nightmare and make Discord pay for all the suffering he'd caused her and her friends while torturing them for a thousand years by crucifying him with flaming chains then burning him to death from the inside out with Hellfire that burns hotter the more unrepentant sins the victim has (considering this was Discord in the first cycle, when he was at the height of his Ax-Crazy sadism, that's a lot). Unfortunately, by the time she'd killed him, she decided he hadn't suffered enough and to trap him in a "Groundhog Day" Loop Ironic Hell to punish him for all eternity, not caring how many innocents suffer and are erased from existence in the process (the entire population of Dark World several billion times over).
  • At one point in the Tartaros Arc in Fairy Tail, Kyouka captures Erza and subjects her to Cold-Blooded Torture in Chapters 365-366 and 368. Erza breaks out in Chapter 371 and at the start of Chapter 372, has a perfect opportunity to torture Kyouka back, but didn't. In a fanfiction that rewrites Chapter 372, she does. Sometimes with worse methods.
    • A fanfiction rewriting Chapter 321 has Erza giving Minerva the same treatment. Her methods of punishing Minerva for brutalizing Lucy, stabbing Kagura, and torturing Milliana involve dismembering Minerva, gouging her eyes out, and eating her fingers! She even violated Minerva with a sword!
  • Hit with a Decon-Recon Switch in The Wrong Reflection. Captain Kanril Eleya is in an Enemy Mine situation with the Klingon-Cardassian Allianc, which includes her own Mirror Universe counterpart. When Captain Kanril stops Dal Kanril's fellows from summarily executing some Terran POWs, Dal Kanril uses this trope as justification (the Terrans had committed atrocities against the Bajorans). Captain Kanril points out this just perpetuates the Cycle of Revenge—"what does doing the same thing to them solve?!"—and grants political asylum to the other prisoners... except for the one that really was guilty of war crimes.
  • Mass Effect door-stopper rewrite fic Of Sheep and Battle Chicken's Sara Ying Shepard, full stop. We are introduced to her using black-nano bio-warfare weapons against slavers. Her reaction to The Illusive Man suggesting co-operation with Aria to extract Archangel from Omega is "What part of sic semper sceleratus [Thus ever to criminals] sounds fucking optional to you, Harper?"
  • A New Chance Series: Latios has no pity for Pokemon poachers and seeks to brutally punish. However, this only scares the hell out of everybody, especially Ash, who has no such vengeful tendencies. Pikachu eventually tells him off when his desire for vengeance makes him forget how Ash would feel. Eventually, Latios disobeys Ash and murders a Pokemon poacher behind his back. Officer Jenny, horrified by all this, decides Latios is too dangerous to be allowed to roam freely, and had one of Latios' friends not erased her memory, he would have been arrested.
  • Pokémon Reset Bloodlines features Belladonna Tyrian, a girl whose main rule in life seems to be this. Case in point, she sets up an elaborate plan to kill the father of one of his girlfriends for having disowned her. She later encounters Ash, who questions this attitude, and she in turn asks him if he has ever felt anger over someone he cares about being hurt and a desire to punish that person. Ash then recalls the time he fought Paul and almost flew into a full-blown rage because he blasted Primeape into the sky possibly with fatal results, and he realizes they're Not So Different.
  • Shadow of the Dragon: In chapter 18, when Satome kidnaps Tomoyo and tries to rape her, Sakura shows up just in time, kicks him through a wall, and allows the Mirror card to castrate him with glass shards. While Sakura is left guilt-ridden over her part in it, considering he had tried to rape both Tomoyo and Sakura previously, and is confirmed to have raped seven different girls in the next chapter, you won't feel bad for him: Meiling states outright that even if it wasn't the right thing to do, Satome certainly deserved it.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness:
  • In Steven Universe: and the Hunters of Arcadia, Jamie explains to Jasper that Gunmar and the Janus Order’s hold on him is under a Might Makes Right principle and he is merely “[offering] them the same courtesy” when he admits to finding a way to keep Gunmar out of power.
  • The War of the Masters: The Moab Confederacy under First Minister Elizabeth Tran enacts a policy of torture and extrajudicial murder of its enemies, paying no heed to such niceties as international borders or the feelings of their primary ally the Klingon Empire while they do it. Considering this policy is mainly directed at Space Pirates and the Orion Syndicate and follows decades of raids against various border planets including pre-independence Moab, even some of the Starfleet characters sympathize. Though in Don't Say Goodbye, Farewell, Lieutenant al-Qahtani points out there's a practical problem with the policy, in that it encourages the slavers to dump their cargo to hide the evidence.
  • In contrast with the strict Thou Shalt Not Kill rule of the forest Clans, the city "Clan" BloodClan goes with this rule in Blood! Rusty AU. If attacked by enemies, they fight to kill and almost never leave survivors. Rusty is initially horrified at killing cats but quickly grows desensitized and begins to think the other cats deserved to be killed.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Incredibles: Mr. Incredible kills the villain by causing him to get sucked into his plane's engine. Granted, the villain had previously murdered a great portion of his fellow superheroes, nearly killed his family and tried to kidnap his baby son to raise as a supervillain sidekick, but it's pretty jarring that earlier, he had mocked Incredible for his inability to resort to murder. What makes it worse is that Mr. Incredible did it right in front of his whole family. It should be noted, however, that Mr. Incredible did not directly throw the villain into the engine. He threw a car at the plane, and the collision is what threw the villain to his death. The scene remains ambiguous on whether Mr. Incredible did it on purpose or not. Though he still tried to throw a car at Syndrome's face, so arguably it's still this trope. In the videogame adaptation it's even worse: even prior to Syndrome's Start of Darkness, Mr. Incredible had little to no problem with throwing minor thugs from the roofs of skyscrapers to their doom.
  • If Elsa from Frozen harms someone with malicious intent, it's pretty much safe to say they had it coming. Just ask the Duke of Weselton and his henchmen, who draw first blood and provoke her into an Unstoppable Rage against them. Not a particularly bright move on their parts, considering what Elsa is.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Batman Returns, Catwoman electrocutes Max Shreck to death with a taser in his mouth. She also beats up and slashes up the face of a mugger/rapist earlier in the movie on her first night out as a vigilante.
  • Kill Bill: This is kind of The Bride's thing.
  • In Goodfellas, Henry confronts a man who harassed and hit his future wife and pistol-whips him until blood starts flowing.
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 2 has the Lancer going that path when he answers to the proposal to spare the enemy's civilians.
    Gale: "That's a luxury we weren't given. It doesn't matter [that they are civilians]. Even if they are civilians just mopping floors, they are helping the enemy. If they have to die, I can live with that."
  • The Toxic Avenger:
    • Played straight with our hero, Toxie. He's one of the kindest beings you could ever meet, unless you are a villain. He has a girlfriend, eventual wife, that he is very devoted to. And he does things as big as saving lives to helping someone open a jar or cross the street. But if you're an enemy, he'll kill you in a way that makes Freddy Krueger seem nice. One example being he holds a robber down by the neck, pours milk and whipped cream into his mouth, then turns on the blender and blends his throat -making a human milkshake.
    • He saves Sweetie Honey in Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV from being raped by brutally killing the rapists. He rips out Tex's tongue, shows it to him, and throws it on Dex's face. As Tex screams in pain, Toxie lifts him up and breaks his neck by slamming him into a ceiling. Dex and Lex are then killed by Toxie using his trusty mop. Afterward, he goes to comfort Sweetie, asking if she's ok, telling her the men won't hurt her anymore, and holds her hand while offering to take her to his shack so she could call someone to take her home.
  • Little Sweetheart gives us an example of evil paying evil on to evil back and forth, or at least trying. Thelma blackmails Robert without knowing he was a bank robber, and later on, he roughs up the person he thought it was (her older brother) before the brother explains the truth. He then plans to scare the shit out of Thelma (but not harm her, she's only 9), but the cops get in the way.
  • A common perception of Sheriff Wydell's actions towards the Villain Protagonists of The Devil's Rejects. Yes, what Wydell did was to embrace He Who Fights Monsters to anvilicious extremes, but, on the other hand, the people he was horrifically abusing and butchering had a years-long, if not decades-long, history of torture, rape and serial murder.
  • In Dead Man's Shoes, the Anti-Hero Richard comes back to his town to take bloody revenge on the people who bullied his brother when they were younger, killing them brutally one by one. The film is interspersed with disturbing flashbacks showing what they did, any of which could explain the extent of Richard's fury, culminating in the most horrific: they drive him out into the country, literally torture him and abandon him with a rope around his neck that he uses to hang himself. The brother, who had appeared as a character throughout the film, was Dead All Along. However, whilst the bullies were indeed monstrous, we're not entirely expected to agree with Richard's actions — and in the final scene, Richard acknowledges that the things he's done have been terrible.
  • In Dogville, a woman on the run from the mob is reluctantly accepted in a small Colorado town. In exchange, she agrees to work for them. As a search visits town, however, they force her to do more chores within the same time, for less pay. The townspeople then start treating her like a slave, eventually escalating their abuse of her, up to and including rape. Unfortunately for them, she turns out to be the daughter of a mob boss — and the townspeople have lost all chance of her forgiveness.
  • The Boondock Saints believe in this. It's arguable whether their actions and success are a result of divine intervention or just plain dumb luck — but either way, you do not mess with the MacManus brothers.
  • Clint Eastwood:
  • Star Wars: This is most of Anakin's Dark actions in the prequels. In Attack of the Clones, he kills the Sand People who kidnapped, beat, tortured, and quite probably raped his mother. What keeps it from being justified is that he killed all of them, women and children included. He later takes down Dooku at the start of Revenge of the Sith, which would have been completely justified, except Dooku was almost-literally unarmed. The moral of this, however, is that this trope is a bad thing and is part of what leads Anakin to The Dark Side.
  • What Jigsaw perceives to be his modus operandi in the Saw series. Of course, when you're taking people who don't appreciate their lives and killing them with methods of steadily escalating atrocity, maybe the message doesn't come across so clearly.
  • Part of the premise of Law Abiding Citizen. Particularly when Clyde Shelton dismembers Clarence Darby, who killed his family.
  • In Mad Max, Max gives Johnny the Boy a Life-or-Limb Decision, handcuffing his ankle to a wrecked vehicle and setting a crude time-delay fuse. It's all a part of his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • In John Wayne's The Cowboys, the evil guy is finally defeated by the young boys. Instead of just shooting him dead (as he deserved), the boys leave him attached to a horse by the ankle and send the horse off running, with him dragging on the ground (which he deserved just as much).
  • Wild Wild West: Dr. Arless Loveless is a racist bigot who is constantly making racial slurs and jokes against Will Smith's Jim West. He's also lost his entire body below the waist, so James West responds by making "short" jokes about him.
  • The protagonist of Grosse Pointe Blank uses this as justification for his career as a hitman. He comments that the files on most of his targets read like a demon's resume, and says "If I show up at your door, chances are you did something to bring me there." This gets deconstructed for him when he discovers his last intended target is his former flame's dad, who is about to testify about faulty seat-belts killing people in accidents. It's enough to make him decide he wants no part of the business anymore.
  • The Inglourious Basterds would be tried for war crimes and hanged for what they did in France. Such crimes include but are not limited to: murdering soldiers, beating them to death with baseball bats, scalping their corpses, permanently scarring survivors for life, shooting into crowds of unarmed citizens, and suicide bombing a crowded theater. However, it's all okay, because they're committing all these atrocious acts on the Nazis!
  • Much of X-Men: First Class is composed of Erik (later Magneto) doing this. He's Jewish, as a child he and his family are sent to Auschwitz, and a Nazi there (who we later find out is the mutant Sebastian Shaw) murders Erik's mother when Erik is unable to use his (latent) powers. As an adult, the first part of the film has Erik hunting down, torturing and murdering Nazis and their supporters. At the end of the movie he gives Shaw a very Karmic Death - the film clearly intends it to be a Jumping Off the Slippery Slope moment, but Shaw's such a madman that much of the audience is inclined to cheer Erik on for doing it, especially as there's also little reason to believe Shaw could be safely captured. And then the US and Soviet militaries try to murder the mutants who just saved them from nuclear war, and Erik turns their missiles back on them. Paying evil to evil is basically his personal philosophy, contrasting with Charles' pay-good-unto-evil-and-maybe-they'll-have-a-change-of-heart ethos (and influenced by the fact that Erik's seen a lot more of evil than Charles has at this point), and it's a substantial part of what ultimately separates them.
  • The book and movie A Time to Kill are about a father who kills the two men who raped his ten-year-old daughter, before they have even been brought to trial. He was afraid that they would be acquitted, despite being caught red-handed, because they were white and his daughter was black. It was set in the Deep South, after all. The daughter's father throughout expresses no remorse, even loudly declaring in court, "Yes they deserved to die, and I hope they burn in hell!"
    Lucien Wilbanks (to Defense counsel Brigance): If you win this case, justice will prevail. But if you lose, justice will also prevail. Now that is a strange case.
  • Subverted rather well in The Magnificent Seven: Calvera, the movie's Big Bad, who corners the seven and lets them go by taking their weapons and riding them out of town. His justification? An old Mexican quote: "A thief who steals from another thief is pardoned for a hundred years." Of course, he assumed that they were just Hired Guns who'd skip town the moment they were paid... By the end of the film, Calvera finds his assumptions were very, very, wrong.
  • In the Made-for-TV movie Outrage! (1986), Robert Preston (yes, of The Music Man) plays the father of a woman who is raped and murdered, by a man who ends up getting away with the crime on a technicality. After this incident causes his wife so much grief that she dies, he hunts down the man and shoots him dead, then calmly drives to the police station and turns himself in.
  • Taken is 90 minutes of this. In most other films, the protagonist doing things like jamming rusty nails into a villain's thighs and then leaving them to be electrocuted to death would be something that disgusts the audience into reviling said protagonist. But when said villain is a human trafficker who kidnaps teenage girls, addicts them to drugs and then sells them to be prostitutes and sex slaves and is planning to do so to the protagonist's daughter, you find yourself cheering instead.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek (2009): Averted. Nero has just spent the whole time running around slaughtering everyone in his path and blowing up a planet on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. That doesn't stop Kirk from offering to save him and his men when the Narada is being disintegrated into an artificially-created Negative Space Wedgie (Spock, who was personally targeted by this revenge, finds the offer logical but hates it). Nero declines the offer, whereupon Kirk orders the Enterprise to hasten/ensure his passing.
    • Near the end of Star Trek: Insurrection, Picard has managed to keep the Son'a leader Ru'afo off his back long enough to trigger the self-destruct of the Phlebotinum collector. The Enterprise, the sensors of which have been depicted moments earlier as sensitive enough to identify a lone Klingon on an entire battleship, flies past the exploding collector and beams off Picard... but not Ru'afo, who must have been detected when the transporter operator scanned the collector to locate Picard.
  • This is the premise of Paparazzi, with a celebrity going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against a trio of cartoonishly evil Paparazzi who put his wife and son in the hospital, including orchestrating a Suicide by Cop scenario and directly murdering another one off-screen. The guy in charge of investigating all this even secretly roots for whoever's doing it (though he still has to bring him in because, of course, he's breaking the law,) and in the end the guy viciously beats the final paparazzi and manages to frame him for all the murders while he gets off scot free.
  • While the main philosophy in Swordfish is the idea that a few innocent casualties are OK if you stop a greater evil, it is heavily implied that Gabriel Shear is a terrorist who only targets terrorists who are plotting against the U.S.
  • In Transformers: Dark of the Moon the Wreckers tore a Decepticon pilot limb from limb, said Con was vaporizing civilians for several seconds before.
  • In Let the Right One In, the bullies who have tormented Oskar throughout the movie are joined by the older brother of one of them who plans to force Oskar to stay underwater for three whole minutes in the school swimming pool -if he can't, they'll cut Oskar's eye out with a knife. After a minute of this, Eli crashes into the swimming pool through the skylight and literally rips them apart. The audience never considers Eli to be evil for doing this. She was saving Oskar's life and the bullies had previously shown themselves to be sadistic bullies who enjoyed hurting Owen simply because they could.
  • Teaser posters for the American film version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo feature the tagline "Evil Shall With Evil Be Expelled".
  • The Dark Knight: Two-Face's entire M.O. becomes this after Rachel Dawes' death. As a Well-Intentioned Extremist, he starts out by shooting Det. Michael Wuertz.
  • In Dogma, as the Angel of Death, this was Loki's role. He throws down his fiery sword after disagreeing with God on who deserves to die and is cast out of Heaven. Upon Bartleby's finding a way back in, he returns to his role with gusto.
  • It's implied at the end of The Collection that Arkin is gonna return the favor back at The Collector himself after all the hell he went through due to said killer's hands after setting him on fire, finding out he escaped, learning his past, tracking him down thanks to his new knowledge and ambushing The Collector in his own home.
  • Played for laughs in True Lies when Harry is under the influence of a truth serum.
    Helen: Have you ever killed anyone?
    Harry: Yeah, but they were all bad.
  • Sartana does this to all the evil men he's ever encountered. The series even hints that he's a supernatural spirit of vengeance because of how often he takes down bad guys.
  • In Goldeneye, Valentin tells Bond a story about the Lienz Cossacks, who worked with the Nazi government against the Soviets during the Second World War, then helped the British against the Nazis when it became obvious the Nazis were going to lose. After the war, the British government handed the Cossacks over to Stalin, and many of them died in the gulags. Bond claims it was "not exactly our finest hour", and while Valentin agrees, he considers the Cossacks ruthless people who got what they deserved.
  • I Spit on Your Grave, one of the most infamous Rape and Revenge films of all time, is about a woman taking violent revenge upon her rapists.
  • Drive Angry: John Milton slaughters the cultists en masse and shows no mercy towards them, especially their leader Jonah King, whom he erases from existence with the Godkiller and uses his skull to drink some beer from. The villains are really bad to make this serviceable. These people are a baby-sacrificing cult, and King is a sadistic rapist, murderer and power-tripping maniac.
  • Unfriended: Laura Barns was Driven to Suicide after having a humiliating video of her uploaded to YouTube and suffering bullying and harassment. When her vengeful spirit goes after her tormentors, she drives them to Cruel and Unusual Suicides.
  • In Slumdog Millionaire, Salim's first villainous action is his cold-blooded Vigilante Execution of crime boss, pimp, and child-abuser Maman.
  • In I Shot Jesse James, Robert Ford shoots Jesse James, an infamous killer and outlaw, In the Back.
  • Discussed in The Hitman's Bodyguard. Darius Kincaid is a Professional Killer, but he only takes contracts on other criminals. He contrasts this with Michael Bryce, a professional bodyguard who protects rich underworld figures from their enemies, asking him which job is really the less moral.

  • Robin Hood: Steals from the rich and gives to the poor. Goes up and down the scales with each retelling; sometimes it's anyone rich, sometimes it's clearly someone who has unfairly taxed said poor. If it was anyone rich, that may be because the folks that this lore was for probably thought all nobles were evil back then.
    • It's fair to note that that way of thinking was largely well-founded. Early Robin Hood stories had him nearly exclusively target clergy. Considering the way both The Catholic Church and later, The Church of England behaved back then, it's not surprising at all. He was later bowdlerised into a folk hero who robbed from the rich.
    • There are also elements of a race/culture conflict (not just a class one) here: the common people were mostly Anglo-Saxon; the upper class and nobility were mainly Normans. It's understandable that someone who is taking revenge on people you regard as invading foreign conquerors is seen as a hero regardless of exactly how he does it.
  • Reynard the Fox when he's not an out and out Sociopathic Hero; often times he pays for slights against him with brutal retaliation, abject humiliation, and preferably both at once. In one story, King Leo had three creatures try to catch him for crimes; Tybalt the Cat ends up getting half-strangled to death and one eye popped out by a priest and he's put down as a whiner for the rest of the story.

  • Animorphs:
    • Jake, before flushing the Pool into space, decides that Yeerks are subhuman parasites who deserve nothing but cold, frozen death: "They could've stayed home, I thought. No one had asked them to come to Earth. No more than they deserved. Aliens. Parasites. Subhuman."
    • Also, Marco isn't very good at hiding the fact that he takes pleasure from killing Yeerks. In #19, he tells Cassie, "You don't make peace with parasites. You don't turn them around. You bury them." It eventually subsides, though, as part of Marco's Character Development; over the course of the series he becomes much less emotional, which makes him a more effective strategist.
  • Admittedly, some of Carrie White's classmates in Carrie had treated her very badly. However, her vengeance on them was probably, in quite a few individual cases, well beyond what they had actually deserved.
    • And when she goes on to bring Armageddon to the rest of the town, well...
    • It's worth noting, however, that Stephen King never depicts her revenge as being justified; instead her actions are considered extremely disproportionate.
    • Her abusive upbringing hasn't really encouraged a sense of moral distinction, especially when her mother was Ax-Crazy to begin with.
  • In Chrysalis, the Terran seeks to scour the Xunvir and their host worlds into total extinction and uninhabitability, just as they did to Earth. They try to retain a measure of their humanity, but after a crushing loss that decimates their army and nearly kills them, they find themself edging closer and closer to evil.
  • Raffles is Affably Evil, but he still draws the line...while he's normally not one for murder, he comes close to killing a blackmailer, and after his return, has no remorse for inadvertently causing the deaths of some Camorra men who'd captured him.
  • Arguably Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights begins like this. When he returns to Yorkshire after Catherine's wedding, the first thing he does is swindle his alcoholic foster brother Hindley out of ownership of the house. While Heathcliff's later actions are inexcusable, many readers will argue that Hindley deserved what he got for having turned him into a servant and thwarting his love affair with Catherine in the first place.
  • In Tom Clancy's Without Remorse, John Kelly is an ex-Navy SEAL who falls for an ex-prostitute/drug mule and rehabilitates her, only to see her raped and murdered by her former pimp. He spends the next year hunting down and brutally executing the entire drug ring, working his way up the chain one pusher/pimp at a time. This comes to the attention of the CIA, who are simultaneously recruiting him for a Vietnam rescue mission; when they find out what he did, they arrange for his "Kelly" identity to die in an apparent suicide, and they give him a new identity as "John Clark". Much later in the series, the President of the United States pardons him.
  • The later Sword of Truth books feature, among other things, the hero leading a charge through peace protesters with, essentially, this justification (said protesters, it should be noted, were guarding an army of monsters, but Richard could have made an effort to Take a Third Option), and sending his army to attack cities and other settlements that are supporting the Imperial Order, basically a strategy of total war. The justification given is that it would be impossible to beat the Order in a straight up fight, since they're outnumbered 100 to 1. Richard notably orders his troops not to kill civilians if it can be avoided, but that they should still make them afraid of the D'Haran troops.
  • In Fantastic Mr. Fox, the eponymous hero is nearly hunted down by Mr. Boggis, Mr. Bunce, and Mr. Bean for simply providing food from his family, which is by stealing. The three men decide to use heavy equipment to further succeed in eliminating the fox and his family, not to mention half the countryside of good land (and every other animal, as well)! What does Mr. Fox do? He and his children dig and tunnel their way to each of the three men's farms and steal from them, Stalag 13-style... while the three nasty farmers wait around the hole where the fox is supposed to pop up at!
  • Harry Potter:
    • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the Imperius and Cruciatus curses. When they're first introduced, it's stated that using these curses wins the caster a one-way ticket to Azkaban, and Barty Crouch is portrayed in a bad light for authorizing the Aurors to use the spells in exactly the same way the heroes eventually do. It's just a little disconcerting to see, for example, McGonagall tossing around Imperius because she couldn't be bothered picking up two wands herself. The use is seen as somewhat morally ambiguous, and it functions as a slow buildup — with Harry having used two of the three "Unforgivable Curses" by the climax of the book, it's reasonable to expect he'd use the last one, the Killing Curse, to finish off Voldemort. He doesn't. Voldemort dies as a result of his own actions.
    • Gryffindors also take the opportunity to pay evil unto the oft-deserving Slytherins. James and Sirius bully the racist and dark-magic-obsessed Snape, and Hagrid and Fred and George punish Harry's bullying cousin Dudley with jinxes, although Arthur Weasley doesn't find his sons' behavior funny. Also, Sirius treats Kreacher quite nastily, an odd case as Kreacher is one of the most unlikable victims in the series, but also served as one of the examples where the good perpetrator was seriously criticized for his bad actions, because Sirius is in a position of authority over Kreacher (Kreacher, as a house elf, is magically impelled to obey him).
    • Hermione hexes the girl who sold out the DA, and in doing so left Hogwarts under the control of a sadistic teacher who tortured children, by raising pimples on her forehead which spell out that she's a traitor, and last for several months at the least. J. K. Rowling confirmed that Marietta's pimples faded but left a few scars. Hermione also lures said sadistic teacher into being attacked by centaurs, although admittedly that went further than Hermione had originally intended. She also blackmails Rita Skeeter for writing a false article that caused Hermione to be showered with hate mail. Don't mess with Hermione Granger — she's got a ruthless side.
  • The Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot". Holmes lets the murderer go free when he realizes what a monster the victim was.
    • Conan Doyle uses this trope several times, when his sympathies lie with the criminal rather than the victim. Other stories that use it include "The Adventure of the Abbey Grange" (The murdered husband habitually battered his wife) and "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton" (because he knows who the killer is, why Milverton was murdered, and that he was a blackmailer of the vilest sort, he declines to even assist the police).
      • Actually in "The Adventure of the Abbey Grange", you could make a pretty fair case for self-defense.
      • In the Milverton case, Holmes himself was Paying Evil Unto Evil—at the moment the crime was committed, he and Watson were in the middle of burgling Milverton's house to get rid of his blackmail material. Holmes knows who the murderer is, but revealing her identity would mean revealing that he too was very much on the wrong side of the law.
    • Then there's "The Speckled Band", where Holmes's actions mean that the murderer and would-be double murderer ends up getting Hoist by His Own Petard. He says he won't let it affect him too much.
    • Another time Holmes himself attempts this is in the story "The Five Orange Pips", in which Holmes, after identifying the murderer, sends him the same death threat that had been sent to all of his victims. However, before Holmes can actually carry out the threat, the murderer dies in a storm at sea.
  • Agatha Christie used this in her novel Ten Little Indians (and all of its other titles) and in all of its adaptations. The murderer who kills most (or all) of the villainous characters on the Island is a Hanging Judge a psychopath who decided to only harm the guilty.
  • This plot is interestingly played with in the Ripliad novel Ripley Under Water. While the book follows a sort of Psycho for Hire terrorizing a murderer and career criminal, Ripley the "hero" is the murderer and career criminal and the story is told in a way that he comes across as a sympathetic victim while his tormentor is the villain of the novel.
  • One of this trope's best examples occurs in the Hercule Poirot novel Murder on the Orient Express. It turns out that the victim had been guilty of the kidnapping and murder of a small child years before. Poirot not only declines to turn the murderer over to the police, he offered a theory of how the murderer escaped the train which was as plausible as it was false.
  • In both the book and the film adaptation of Let the Right One In, a gang of teens finds out the hard way that the price of bullying a vampire's best friend is being literally torn to shreds.
  • In The Dresden Files, the perception of such things as a first step on the Slippery Slope is the main reason for the uncompromising reaction of the White Council to breaches of the Laws of Magic — sure, that guy you just killed may have been a bad guy, but killing with magic changes the soul, and they think it'll make you want to do it again... Whether this is justified or not is one of the major questions of the series — particularly as Harry himself murdered his Evil Mentor Jason Du Mourne prior to the series's beginning.
    • Harry Dresden does this in basically every book. Most of the time, it comes off as morally upright; Harry has been known to ask villains to surrender when said villain has summoned demons and sent them against Harry and his friends. In the third book, however, vampires kidnap his girlfriend and he torches the entire building — including quite a few of the bums and teenagers the vampires were keeping around as snacks. Harry angsts over this quite a bit, especially due to the "Law of Three" (anything you do with magic supposedly returns threefold). Michael reassures him with a quote that's on the quote page. It helps, to a point.
      • Beating Cassius with a bat, and several books later impaling the Red King's eyes before setting them on fire. Both had it coming to them, and the latter was a monster beyond description.
      • In a training camp in New Mexico two children were killed and eaten by a ghoul. He severed the ghoul that did it in half, set the fat and nerves of its upper body on fire, like a candle, and threw it down a mineshaft. He then returned to the captured ghouls who surrendered to him and told him where to find the children in exchange for being allowed to live, and buried one of them up to its neck, melted the ghoul's face and melted the sand around it into glass, then poured a trail of orange juice from its head to a fire ant nest. He let the other ghoul go, minus an arm and a leg, to carry the warning. In this instance though, it's established later that he was slightly Drunk on the Dark Side at the time (there was a fallen angel in his head influencing his actions and empowering his spells with hellfire).
  • In the third book of the Inheritance Cycle, the main character Eragon does some pretty heinous things. He wipes out what is apparently the last of a dying race, Mind Rapes a Jerkass from his hometown who stabbed his friends and family in the back (literally with one guy) and mercilessly slaughters a group of conscripted soldiers who were Just Following Orders. His feelings on each of the separate matters...vary.
    • He feels no guilt at all for wiping out the Ra’zac, seeing them as nothing more than a race of monsters. Which is not quite true. They’re undoubtedly evil, but that’s at least partially due to Blue and Orange Morality. The last one's death showed that it was at least capable of feeling sadness, but it showed no remorse for all the people it and its family had killed over the years.
      • In regards to the Ra'zac, they could never coexist with humans unless one of two things happen: either they would need to find a new food source, or the humans would have to agree that they are allowed to feed on humans.
    • His feelings on Mind Raping Sloan is...not a shining example of morality. The dude was an Asshole Victim and Knight Templar Parent who chose to betray his peers (and murder one of them) when his daughter didn’t obey him. But he pretty much got what he had coming to him at the hands of the Ra’zac. Eragon feels no guilt at all for piling the Mind Rape on top of the torture, starvation, and blinding he had already suffered.
      • However, he gave said Jerkass a chance improve his life and remove the Mind Rape, if he can genuinely change. The fact that he gets to live in a magical forest and the elves will tend to his every need changes this into Stupid Good.
    • On the other hand Eragon does feel guilty for slaughtering the conscripted soldiers. Not enough to spare their lives, but he honestly regrets having to kill them. From his perspective, it’s somewhere between Shoot the Dog and I Did What I Had to Do, since the conscripts are magically bound to report his presence.
  • Redwall comes off as a rather well-done example. The fighters usually try to repel or turn the bad guys, not kill them outright. In fact, for the most part, the only deaths in the series are:
  • In the Saint stories by Leslie Charteris, the title character targeted criminals and other evil characters for justice, including sometimes killing them.
  • The Travis McGee novels by John D. MacDonald. McGee goes after the worst of the worst, and, though he's only supposed to get back stolen/defrauded property, he often ends up killing his targets.
    • Travis is quite aware of this trope and works hard to avert it whenever possible; in almost every case, he kills strictly in self-defense and his narration usually remarks that It Never Gets Any Easier. In one instance, when he has to kill several people who are part of a terrorist group who would kill him in a second if he didn't agree to help them, he eliminates them all and suffers a Heroic BSoD immediately afterward.
  • Artemis Fowl may no longer be a Villain Protagonist, but he still commits crimes against criminals.
  • In various parts of the Inferno, Dante kicks, beats, or swindles the damned souls, always with the approval of his guide Virgil. Justified (in the context of the poem, at least) in that the victims genuinely are damned souls who have been condemned by God for their sins, and pitying them would be an act of impiety.
  • Subverted in The Hobbit, which quite possibly was the most important act in the series. After getting away from Gollum using the Ring to become invisible, Bilbo has a perfect chance to kill Gollum for trying to kill and eat him after losing the riddle game... But chooses not to after realizing what a miserable life the creature had.
  • Played straight in Red Seas Under Red Skies. When Locke needs to commit a very public bit of villainy, he heads straight for the disgustingly decadent Salon Corbeau and sacks the city.
  • Corwin of The Chronicles of Amber describes his attitude at one point:
    In the mirrors of the many judgments, my hands are the color of blood. I am a part of the evil that exists in the world and in Shadow. I sometimes fancy myself an evil which exists to oppose other evils. I destroy [them] when I find them, and on that Great Day ... when the world is completely cleansed of evil, then I, too, will go down into darkness, swallowing curses... But whatever... Until that time, I shall not wash my hands nor let them hang useless.
  • In Shutter Island, one of the things that haunts Teddy is the massacre of the surrendered guards at the death camp. He basically says that it was sheer murder what they did, but the press called them heroes for it because it was Nazis.
  • Jenna receives a lecture about the importance of doing this in the Great Alta Saga, but still refuses because, well, she's seventeen and has lived a fairly sheltered life up until that point. As a result, one of her best friends is killed.
  • Fully justified in The Godfather. While the two boys that savagely beat Bonasera's daughter to the point that "she will never be beautiful again" are implied to get what they deserve in the movie, the novel goes into detail. It would fall under Extreme Mêlée Revenge, except that that requires the revenge to go well beyond what is deserved, and there's little doubt that these two deserved every bit of it. Skipping over the details, the young men are said to need several months of hospital care and extensive reconstructive surgery.
    • Subverted in later chapters, when Michael goes to Sicily and sees the end result of an entire society dedicated to this. This is a huge part of what drives his attempts to drive the Corleone Family into legitimate enterprises.
  • File this one under Older Than They Think: One of the stories in Rudyard Kipling's Stalky & Co. (published in the 19th century) involves the hero and his pals taking on the school bullies... at the suggestion of their priest.
  • Lisbeth Salander from The Millennium Trilogy. She started this as a child when being assaulted by a boy far bigger and stronger than herself. On a following day, she took revenge by hitting him with a baseball bat. When her guardian rapes her, she has her revenge by incapacitating him with a taser, torturing him, and forcing him to watch the recording of her rape. She then threatens to make the recording public unless he arranges for her to have permanent control over her money. Finally, she tattoos "I am a sadistic pig, a pervert and a rapist" in large letters on his torso. She's also revealed to have set her abusive father on fire (hence aforementioned court-ordered guardianship), and in the book proper she simply sits and watches as the villain burns to death in his car after crashing during a Car Chase with Lisbeth.
  • Retconned with Lestat in the Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles novels where we find out later that the only people he's ever outright killed have been evil people of some sort.
  • In The Oathbreakers, from the Heralds of Valdemar series, Kethry works a powerful sorcery that gathers the combined rage of her mercenary company and uses it to punish the rapist/murderer of their former captain in a massively Karmic way. She specifically states that the magic is as close to evil as it's possible to get and she has to walk a very fine line between just retribution and cold-blooded vengeance, lest she fall to The Dark Side in the process.
    • Talia from the original Arrows trilogy did something similar. When she discovered a man who had raped and abused his stepdaughter, she used her empathy powers to trap him in the worst of his stepdaughter's memories, forcing him to experience what he did to her over and over. She did set things up so that it would end if he truly felt guilt for what he'd done, but the fact remains that she pulled an almost literal Mind Rape.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: This trope is common to cultures and religions on both sides of the Narrow Sea. The North of Westeros on both sides of the Wall even codifies it in explicit language — to deliberately not seek the active revenge of wrongs done to you is to anger the Old Gods and bring ruin to you and yours. This attitude tends to feed back into bloody cycles of violence without the Starks or other lords regularly stomping out fires.
    • The Mereenese Grand Masters welcome Daenerys by nailing a bunch of disemboweled slave children on columns beside the road with their fingers pointing to Mereen. Later, they end up the same way on the main square of Mereen. (In the TV series at least, her advisers suggest this may not be the wisest course, and sure enough it's later pointed out to her that one of the guys she did this had spent his life working to improve the lot of the slaves, lampshading the negative side of the trope.)
    • In A Storm of Swords, Vargo Hoat, leader of the Brave Companions, a foreign band of mercenaries whose whole strategy can be summed up as terrorize the smallfolk and inflict atrocity after atrocity on their enemies, finds himself abandoned by Roose Bolton and Tywin Lannister, the man whose son he maimed. He ends up being tortured to death, having his limbs cut off slowly and fed back to him over a span of weeks by the Mountain.
    • Speaking of the Mountain, Gregor Clegane. Another monster in Lord Tywin's arsenal, the 8-foot giant set off to rampage across the Riverlands, leading to more devastation at Lannister hands. Became infamous during the Sack of King's Landing, when he killed the infant heir to the Targaryen kings, then brutally raped and murdered the mother, Elia of Dorne. After defeating Oberyn, Elia's vengeful brother in a duel, he slowly succumbs to Oberyn's poisoned spear, which tormented him over the span of several weeks, leading to his exceptionally gruesome death.
    • In Dances With Dragons Wyman Manderly secretly kills three Freys and cooks them into three huge pies to serve to the Boltons and Freys, as vengeance for their role in the Red Wedding.
  • In the Dale Brown novel Wings of Fire, Chris Wohl's killing of Pavel Kazakov, two stabs to the diaphragm that fill his lungs with blood, followed by a stab-and-slash to the throat, is vicious by any objective standard, but considering the evil scum he was doing it to...
  • In Rainbow Six, one of the Basque separatists kills a Littlest Cancer Patient on live TV. Homer initially isn't allowed to take the shot because of fears that the plan will be screwed up; when he does get to take it, he goes for a liver-shot that will make the separatist die slowly and painfully. Ding gives him a perfunctory dressing-down afterwards, but no one is really complaining.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Overuse of this trope combined with Disproportionate Retribution is a major cause in making villains Unintentionally Sympathetic. Vendetta has the Sisterhood capture the Chinese ambassador's son who drunkenly killed Barbara Rutledge and her unborn child in a hit and run, and was not punished due to Diplomatic Impunity. They punish him for this by skinning him alive. He was a creep and not a nice guy, but he simply did not deserve that level of punishment.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's The Number of the Beast, the Burroughs' discover an Alternate History United States who's justice system is based on "An Eye for an Eye". Someone who's careless driving caused another person to lose a leg has his leg removed and has to wait the exact time his victim did before medical help will proceed to help him. Murderers are killed, arsonists are burned to death and it is suggested that rapists are raped (somehow).
  • North from Of Fear and Faith is a firm believer in this, often bringing him into conflict with Phenix, who is much more merciful.
  • Jack Reacher is a firm believer in this, which is the main thing that keeps him a sympathetic protagonist; while he frequently kills people in cold blood (Lee Child himself describes it as murder in interviews), they're all human traffickers, paedophiles, and serial killers.
  • Browns Pine Ridge Stories: Defied in the fourth story. The young Gary wants retribution for Ole Strawberry's Death, but his father quickly rebukes him stating that it is the duty of the Justice system to try and punish the offenders.
  • A politicized kobold gets to put the case against "delving and discovery" (i.e. dungeon raiding) in Tales of MU. Magisterius University does, of course, have a big D&D faculty.
  • Crime and Punishment - One of the antagonists of the novel, Porfiry, works as a police officer and interrogator, which usually would qualify as a good-aligned job. As you further witness this officer's tactics in catching criminals, you see him commit to bribery, thievery, death-threats, and psychological torture to force an admission. Furthermore, he seems to actually enjoy it, toying with amateur criminals like a cat torturing a wounded mouse. The justification, of course, being that the victim of this was a murderer, and therefore deserves it.
  • The Hunger Games: Discussed all the way through Mockingjay, and reaches its culmination when President Coin suggests either executing all Capitol citizens or forcing their children into the Games.
  • A large part of the Honorverse is a conscious deliberation on the concept, its reasons and outcomes, with the overall tone that it is somewhat satisfactory, but ultimately counterproductive approach, that might have its uses, but generally not worth it and is best avoided.
  • One Nation Under Jupiter: Diagoras pummels Odia after seeing the things she'd been doing at Camp Piety.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo operates on this trope. While the original novel presents the count's acts as heroics of a Magnificent Bastard, as some adaptations play them straight, pointing out that the innocent lives destroyed as collateral make the Count no less evil than the ex-friends he seeks revenge on.
  • Kvothe of The Name of the Wind is singled out for public embarrassment by a petty professor; Kvothe uses this to justify public magical assault of that professor.
  • The Crimson Shadow: Oliver justifies his stealing from rich merchants this way, as they've grown rich by collaborating with the evil King Greensparrow who rules over their people.
  • Karsa Orlong, a Villain Protagonist and walking Barbarian Hero deconstruction from the Malazan Book of the Fallen, is not an innocent boy scout himself, but he is quite fond of dishing out karmic deaths to paedophiles and slavers indiscriminately, since he finds their practices appalling. When he learns that the High Mage Bidithal raped Felisin Younger, he rips off his privates and shoves them down his throat.
  • Vorkosigan Saga has captain Negri, chief of Imperial Security, whose job was assassinating people who wanted to assassinate the emperor.
  • In Seabury Quinn's Jules De Grandin series, the title character often deals with various very awful people in truly brutal fashion. Like the Necromancer in one story who uses his undead slaves as concubines and later has themmurder a three-year-old. De Grandin ends up trying to arrest him alongside a local cop, but he "fell down the stairs and broke his neck." The officer adds "He had to do it twice, the first time wasn't enough."
  • Deconstructed in the Sophie Hannah novel The Carrier, concerning a mystery about why Tim Breary confesses to murdering his wife Francine, but claims he doesn't know why he did it. It turns out that it was actually Francine's caretaker, Lauren, who decided to put Francine out of her misery because Tim and his two best friends, Kerry and Dan, were endlessly abusing Francine, who had a stroke and was bedridden, unable to move or speak and justified it to themselves because of Francine's former Domestic Abuse towards Tim that culminated in Tim trying to kill himself. When Gabrielle, the story's protagonist and Tim's former Love Interest, discovers this, she realises Tim takes the fall for Lauren because he realises that he was basically torturing a victim who could not fight back and, regardless of her treatment of him, realises that he had no way of verifying Francine was the same person after having her stroke and that he'd become no better than his former abuser and thus, unworthy of Gabby's love.
  • Zack, the central character of The Mental State, has two approaches to dealing with bad people. If they are redeemable, he will impose a barbaric amount of tough-love on them until they see sense and hopefully pull a Heel–Face Turn. If they are irredeemable, he will simply delight in turning all of their friends against them and torturing them. Believing that it is better to let his victims suffer indefinitely, he only ever kills one person over the course of the story, and only because they were psychotic and well beyond the point of saving.
  • In the Sonja Blue series, Blue is a vampire-hunting vampire whose ultimate quest is to find and destroy the Master vampire who created her, and changed/ruined her life forever.
  • In Victoria, this is the philosophy of the protagonist, John Rumford. He and his fellow vigilantes do not object to tarring and feathering a corrupt judge, lynching Sociopathic Soldiers or otherwise paying the bad guys back in kind.
  • Project Tau:
    • Kata, when he kills Mason for taking him prisoner and reducing him to the level of an animal.
    • Averted with Tau, who does kill Dennison but doesn't take any real pleasure in it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Dexter is a serial murderer who only kills other murderers. He identifies himself as a monster though.
  • Revenge sees Emily Thorne bankrupting, humiliating, burning down the homes of and otherwise disgracing the various crooks who framed her father for terrorism.
  • Detective Chester Lake of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has a long-time grudge against a fellow police officer whom he knew was guilty of the rape of two illegal immigrants, but he could never prove it. When they're finally able to take him to trial, the jury is deadlocked and he walks. Chester goes and murders the man himself and puts up no fight when taken in.
  • Omar Little of The Wire is a renowned stick-up man who only robs from people involved in the drug trade. The police pretty much turn a blind eye to this.
  • A mild version of this happens in the opening for the Firefly episode "Shindig," where Mal pickpockets the cash off a smug, proud, self-admitted slave dealer during a game of pool. The slave dealer isn't supposed to notice until he goes for his next round of drinks, but it turns out he's a very good drinker, and that leads to....
    • The entire series of Firefly is one big example. The main characters spend the entire first season robbing almost anybody, so long as that person is The Government, corporate supporters of the government, slavers, or anybody else not approved of by the main characters.
    • Mal probably puts it best in The Train Job, when he decides not to do the job he was hired to do and wants to return the money to his employer:
    Mal: "We're not thieves." beat "Okay, we are thieves. Point is, we're not taking what's his."
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Mirri Maz Duur, having been asked by Daenerys to save her Dothraki husband Khal Drogo's life with her Blood Magic, instead performs a ritual that leaves him a Soulless Shell and kills the Khal's unborn son in Daenerys' womb. Mirri is a slave to Daenerys because Khal Drogo's warriors had massacred Mirri's village for plunder and amusement, during which she herself had been raped by three of the Khal's men before she was "rescued". And his son was prophesied to be even worse; "The Stallion That Mounts The World", the Khal who would spread the Dothraki's Rape, Pillage, and Burn reign from Essos to Westeros.
    Mirri Maz Duur: He would have been the Stallion who Mounts the World. Now he will burn no cities. Now he will trample no nations into dust.
    • Ramsay Bolton gets the ever-loving shit beat out of him by Jon Snow for murdering Jon's younger brother Rickon, raping his younger sister Sansa, and for all the sheer, utter hell and torture Ramsay has inflicted. Jon only calms down when he sees his sister Sansa, whose presence prompts Jon not to go too far — for both his sake and so Sansa can provide a Karmic Death to Ramsay, which she does by feeding Ramsay to his own dogs.
    • After witnessing evil men getting away with committing some of the worst atrocities in the series, Arya starts taking justice into her own hands. She clearly becomes a darker character every time she kills, but it's compensated for by the fact that most of them deserve it.
      • She makes a start on avenging Robb's murder in "Mhysa" by flat-out wrecking a Frey camp with Sandor and personally stabbing to death the Frey soldier responsible for desecrating her brother's corpse. This marks the first time she kills a person since the first season, and her first deliberate kill of an adult.
      • Later, she earns two more adult kills in "Two Swords": Polliver, the Clegane footman who killed Lommy and stole her sword, and one of his men. She kills the former in the exact same way as his most prominent victim, down to repeating his words during the deed. Later, in "Mockingbird", she murders Rorge, the prisoner who'd threatened to "fuck her bloody", without a second's hesitation, once he adds himself to her list.
      • In the Season 5 finale, she finally avenges Syrio (and Sansa, unknowingly) by brutally murdering Meryn Trant, who is revealed to be a paedophile who gets off on beating little girls.
      • In season 6, she gets revenge on Walder Frey for his part in the brutal massacre of her mother and one of her older brothers, Robb. She kills two of Walder Frey's sons and has them baked into a pie, which she feeds to an unknowing Walder — before Arya reveals to a horrified Walder that his sons are in the pie and she finishes him by slitting his throat. The first scene of season 7 has her pose as Walder and throw a feast for all the Freys, then wipe out the entire house with poisoned wine. It should be noted that Arya made a point of telling all the exclusively female servers and the young female guests there that they were not to be allowed any wine, thereby sparing innocents.
    • When Joffrey Baratheon and Tywin Lannister are murdered in cold blood, their killers clearly cross a moral line, but their victims are such Jerk Asses that it's hard not to cheer them on. Particularly the latter case, whose murderer, Tyrion, his own son, had finally retaliated after years of parental abuse and being sentenced to an execution by him from which he had just escaped.
    • Downplayed. When Robin Arryn throws a fit and destroys Sansa's snow replica of Winterfell, she slaps him so hard she knocks him to the ground. Although Sansa might have been the one who escalated the altercation to begin with, Littlefinger blithely remarks afterward that Robin had it coming his entire life.
    • Brienne does this, further evidencing the darker take on her character in comparison to that in the books, in which she had never killed a man before. She seems to have no issue doing this when a trio of rapist Stark soldiers confront her and Jaime on the way to King's Landing, absolutely wrecking two of them before killing the ringleader by driving her sword through his crotch, making a point of killing him as slowly and painfully as possible.
    Brienne: Two quick deaths. (castration)
    • Jaime Lannister gained infamy as the Kingslayer for stabbing Mad King Aerys, whom he was sworn to defend, in the back. No tears were shed over the pyromaniac's demise.
    • Daenerys Targaryen is a firm believer in this:
      • When Daenerys and her army march on the slaver city of Meereen, the city's Masters taunt her by crucifying a slave child at every milepost for one hundred and sixty-three miles. When she takes the city, a deathly calm Daenerys orders one hundred and sixty-three Masters to be crucified in the streets. However, it later turns out that at least one of the people she crucified had opposed the child-killings, which she regrets.
      • She rounds up the heads of Meereen's most noble houses in "Kill the Boy"... then has one of them burned alive and torn to shreds by her dragons, while the other noblemen are forced to watch. She doesn't even care who is innocent by that point... But then again, were any of them?
      • The Lannisters rob and loot the Reach of its wealth and food, and brazenly take out her allies. So she responds by more or less massacring their army with the Dothraki and Drogon, charbroiling most of the soldiers.
      • Daenerys's love of this trope takes a turn for the ironic in the series finale. After a series of traumatic events, Daenerys' long-tested sanity finally breaks and she goes on the rampage on the back of her dragon, destroying most of the city of King's Landing and massacring its surrendered population. Afterwards, her former advisor Tyrion Lannister talks to Jon Snow about her behavior. Tyrion lampshades that part of Daenerys's willingness to do what she did was because of her fervent belief both in this trope and in the fact that she is the hero, in her mind — and she won't stop killing until she realizes her perfect world. Tyrion urges a reluctant Jon that despite his love for Daenerys, he must kill Daenerys to save everyone else from her reign of terror. Jon pleads with Daenerys not to continue with the destruction but Daenerys justifies it as necessary and firmly believes it is the only way to build a better world. Consequently, Jon fatally stabs her to end her madness before she can cause even more death and destruction.
  • iCarly: In "iReunite With Missy", Missy broke Sam's cellphone on purpose and offered to buy her a new one. When Missy wins the 6-month cruise, given up by Freddie to get rid of Missy, Carly asks Sam how Missy could still compensate for her phone. Sam then reveals that she stole Missy's phone.
  • Michael of the TV show Burn Notice helps the victims of evil by assisting them in gaining protection against their oppressors. Sometimes, his methods involve conning and/or leading to the arrest of the villain, but often, his plots end with the death of the villain through his machinations/at his hands.
  • Jarod on The Pretender is fond of this, often putting villians in the same situation they did to someone else. Note that he puts them into a less lethal/physically harmful version of what they've done to one of their victims—- they just don't know it. In Jared's case, it's much more about inflicting psychological damage on them as they believe they're about to suffer the same fate of someone they've wronged before being taken in by the authorities.
  • While Mr Chapel of Vengeance Unlimited doesn't kill, he can completely ruin the life of some of his "victims", including two that he had branded as insane. Chapel often doesn't go out of his way to get people killed, it's a result of the show's formula. If people survived his scams it would quickly get around that he's not who he says he is. There are also times when he really is trying to make sure they die, though.
  • Smallville:
    • Davis Bloome was more or less forced into this; he has a choice between killing a couple criminals every so often and doing nothing (which allows his Superpowered Evil Side to take over and massacre a bunch of innocents).
    • In "Sacrifice", Zod gets a small one when he throws Waller about twenty feet but Clark stops him from killing her. Although the fans rooted for Zod on this one.
  • Happens a few times in Farscape, though they're usually forced into it by the bad guys. One example: In order to save D'Argo's son (and 9,999 other slaves), our heroes plan to rob a bank, justifying their actions by saying it's a "shadow depository", i.e., where bad guys hide the stuff they steal.
  • Sledge Hammer! is a Cowboy Cop who doesn't hesitate to use the violent criminal scum's own violent criminal methods against them... to the consternation of Captain Trunk.
  • At some points in Sabrina the Teenage Witch, it can be argued that Libby was the victim of bullying from Sabrina instead of the other way around. After all, being a Reality Warper gives you an unfair advantage. However, Sabrina seemed to mature past this - most of her later morally questionable uses of magic against Libby were based on trying to redress wrongs or make Libby a better person, instead of simply hurting Libby. Sometimes she even used it to do something nice for Libby, even knowing that Libby would most likely never know about it and certainly wouldn't return the favor if she did. (For example, in "Sabrina Claus", she has to take over for Santa Claus and her gift to Libby is to use magic to make Libby's Annoying Younger Sibling be nice to her. Possibly still morally questionable, depending on how you feel about magically influencing the free will of a child.)
  • The main characters of Hustle only con the corrupt and the greedy. In one episode, they even call off a con when it becomes clear their supposedly evil target is reforming. (That said, they still don't intentionally engage in any action that will physically hurt anyone, evil or not.)
  • Leverage does almost exactly the same thing.
  • Sherlock: The titular detective realizes that he has no other choice but to kill Magnusson for both John and Mary, but especially John since Magnusson knew he was a pressure point for him, and that he genuinely cared for him.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • Done deliberately by a particularly Genre Savvy Benjamin Sisko when he's chasing down the traitorous Starfleet officer, Eddington. After Eddington poisons a Cardassian settled-planet with a chemical only dangerous to Cardassians thus forcing them to evacuate, Sisko, invoking Les Misérables since Eddington had called him Inspector Javert, forces Eddington to make a Heroic Sacrifice by doing the same thing to a human-settled planet occupied by the Maquis and threatening to keep doing it unless Eddington surrendered.
    • Garak once tried to commit genocide on the Founders' home world by gaining access to Defiant's weapons systems. Had he succeeded, he may have averted the war altogether.
    • Though portrayed sympathetically, the show does not dispute that Kira (and the Bajoran Resistance in general) resorted to terrorism against the Cardassians during the occupation. Murder, bombings, and other acts of random violence were common, and they weren't choosy about their targets. Though Kira isn't proud of her violent past, neither does she apologize for it.
  • Chicago P.D. invokes the trope, with Voight and Al acknowledging privately that they have murdered at least one perp rather than arresting him. Averted in episode two when Voight plans to murder the drug lord who kidnapped Antonio's son. Played in full with the man who murders Voight's son. Other members of the unit have also become more physical than regulations allow, usually to elicit information on a case.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Few mourned, and many cheered, when Dark Willow flayed Warren Mears alive. Those that refrained from cheering did so not out of sympathy for Warren, but concern for Willow (except for those who thought Willow had already crossed the Moral Event Horizon by repeatedly mind-raping and raping Tara).
    • After Spike gets his Restraining Bolt, Buffy enjoys herself taunting him over his 'impotence' and beating him up for fun and information (until Spike declares he's fallen in love with her, and Buffy comes to the belated realisation that doing this to a Combat Sadomasochist is a sexual come-on).
  • Angel had a terrific example in Season 2. After coming across his archenemies from Wolfram & Hart being held hostage by Darla and Dru, Angel stands contemplative for a moment. Wolfram & Hart is an evil organisation with absolutely no qualms about murdering innocent people. Rather than save them, Angel locks the door and lets the vamps go to work. The formerly unflappable Holland Manners is terrified and begs, "People are going to die," to which Angel responds, "And yet somehow I just can't seem to care." Whilst harrowing in a sense, it doesn't stop seeing them get their karma from being wholly satisfying.
  • 24: If they're someone who's royally pissed him off or killed somebody close to him and there's no longer any need to keep them alive, Jack Bauer has absolutely no problem taking vengeance into his own hands. One particularly stand-out moment occurs in the final season where he's torturing the man who earlier killed Renee Walker, and the bastard refuses to break, even bragging about the murder. When Jack learns that the guy swallowed something that has some potentially crucial information he could use on it, Jack proceeds to cut the guy's stomach open and empty it to obtain what he swallowed. Even though what Jack's doing is horrible, for a total prick like this one can't help but at least smirk a little.
    • In the Live Another Day miniseries, there are two excellent moments of outright executing Big Bads who were no longer needed. Not in combat, not to stop them from killing someone else - if you're the kind of person who feels the need to shoot missiles into the middle of London to avenge your (equally horrible terrorist) husband, Jack Bauer sees no problem with sending you through a window to your messy demise.
  • CSI: Miami: Occasionally, Horatio Caine gives a little bit more "justice" than the law allows. In "To Kill A Predator", he gives a savage beating to a child predator for "Resisting Arrest" (when he was doing nothing but standing there). And in "Wheels Up", it's implied he does the same to an abusive boyfriend of the victim of the week; while the guy didn't kill her, a byproduct of that abuse (a healing fragment of a previous broken rib) is what ultimately killed her.
  • In Once Upon a Time, Snow White (of all people) pulls off this trope. Her wicked stepmother's even more evil mother Cora admitted to killing Snow's mom by magic, threw Snow's old nanny to her death right in front of her For The Lulz, and cheerfully admits her whole goal is to obtain the dagger of the Dark One so she would become a completely invincible force of power. Regina (the stepmother) has made Snow's life (and everyone else's) life a living hell for the last 30 years. So, when she casts a death curse on Cora's heart (she stores it separately) and tricks Regina into putting it back...Well, it's a little hard not to be both horrified at Snow's actions, but also believe the parties she paid evil unto richly deserved it.
  • This is more or less the plot of the first season of Arrow. Oliver Queen is trying to atone for his father's crimes by "cleaning up his list", and he's not afraid to kill in the process. Also invoked with "The Undertaking"; during the episode of the same name, the conspiracy group "Tempest" are shown in flashback psyching themselves up to go along with the plan to level the Glades and kill or drive off the low-income people living there by reminding themselves of the tragedies they have suffered at the hands of Glades residents, so as to convince themselves that, in terms of conventional philanthropy, It Is Beyond Saving. One member mentions his daughter was gang-raped until she was left catatonic when she made the mistake of visiting a nightclub in the area. The Big Bad of the first season, Dark Arrow, lost his wife because she was stabbed by a mugger on her way home from the free clinic she ran there and none of the people who saw her lying in the street bleeding out could be bothered to help in any way.
  • Person of Interest: In a flashback in "The Devil's Share", Detective Fusco, a reformed Dirty Cop who now works with the heroes, got his Start of Darkness when he gunned down a drug dealer in cold blood. Said drug dealer had previously killed an off-duty rookie.
    • The same episode ends with Simmons, the Big Bad who murdered Carter after she upended his whole corrupt organisation, arrested and in hospital, because the protagonists ultimately decided to do what Carter would have wanted instead of seeking revenge for her death. But who is this, waiting in the shadows of the hospital room when Simmons wakes up? Why, it's Elias, the mafia don whose life Carter saved last season. And here's his henchman Scarface, with a garotte.
    • Ex-assassins Reese and Shaw also somewhat fit this belief; though they generally try and avoid lethal force, they aren't exactly bothered when they do.
  • In The Walking Dead: Try to rape Carl in front of Rick and you are going to die painfully, he'll make sure to make it very painfully.
  • Deconstructed in The Blacklist. One of the villains of the week is a serial killer called the Deer Hunter who tracks down and murders abusive husbands and boyfriends. The Deer Hunter claims that she's doing this, as well as helping the abused women, but Liz calls her out and rips apart her whole Hannibal Lecture, pointing out that the real reason she's killing is simple bloodlust and desire for dominance, with the abusive men thing just being an excuse to help her sleep at night. The fact that the Deer Hunter killed one of the innocent women she was "protecting" in retribution for going to the police pretty clearly shows this statement to be correct.
    • Played straight earlier in the season, episode 7 of season 2, with Samar Navabi's execution of the Scimitar, a well known terrorist and murderer who only a few hours previous had kidnapped two of her teammates and, later, a completely innocent woman, after he taunted Navabi that she wasn't going to kill him.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor has been implied to have done this on occasion (to the point where he disowned an entire incarnation who he believed did it). In "Face the Raven", when he is betrayed and faced with the imminent death of his companion, the Doctor threatens to do this to the immortal Ashildr and a street of alien refugees (some of whom are innocents, all hiding from mankind) using a mixture of enemy races and paramilitary forces. Only a plea from his soon-to-be-lost best friend stops him carrying through with it.
      The Doctor: I'll bring UNIT, I'll bring the Zygons, give me a minute, I'll bring the Daleks and the Cybermen. You will save Clara, and you will do it now or I will rain hell on you for the rest of time.
    • The Doctor is subsequently forced to undergo Cold-Blooded Torture in a lonely, gigantic torture chamber in "Heaven Sent". In the Season Finale "Hell Bent" he has escaped, but he is also now an insane Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. When he confronts the party who captured and tormented him ( Rassilon, leader of the Doctor's own people) he shocks everyone by bloodlessly overthrowing him and banishing him and his underlings from Gallifrey to wherever they can find a home...if any such place exists at that point in time. Other characters who know him well accuse him of this trope and Disproportionate Retribution, with a side helping of No Sympathy for Grudgeholders.
    • Against the Family of Blood — who is implied to have taken over the bodies of innocent people and at best induced And I Must Scream on them, at worst killed them before inhabiting their bodies — the audience is shown through the very somber and withdrawn monologue of the brother — a 180° turn from his self-assured and victorious tone a moment ago — what the Doctor did to them, including dropping the mother into the event horizon of a collapsing dwarf star, trapping the sister in every mirror ever, and setting the brother, frozen in time, to watch over England's fields for all eternity.
  • It's hard to believe that Bulk and Skull were bullies after all the humiliation given to them constantly for about the five original seasons of Power Rangers. The good guys never used their powers explicitly other than dodge attacks, but they did laugh at them a lot in the freeze shot that ended episodes. They were pretty bad in the first season (both in the sense of not being nice, but also just not good at being bullies), but later on they got better.
  • Pretty much the mission statement of the characters of The Unit who are regularly depicted carrying out assassinations and murders against terrorists or anyone supporting them. Perhaps spotlighted by one episode in which one of the team suffers a crisis of conscience only to finally decide he actually enjoyed killing people, an attitude his superior officer states is actually necessary to do what they do.
  • In the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "A Hen in the Wolf House", Simmons plants her S.H.I.E.L.D. message pad in her HYDRA partner's desk, to avoid being outed as a spy, leading to said partner being dragged off for interrogation. While he was friendly to Simmmons, he's still a member of HYDRA who thought the idea of HYDRA using a weapon to kill millions of innocent people was "pretty cool".
  • Million Yen Women: After two of the women get killed, one of the remaining women cooperates with the former employee of one of the victims to take down the killer.
  • In the controversial House episode "The Tyrant," House and his team have to treat General Dibala, the dictator of a fictional African country, after he was struck with a mysterious ailment while in New York for a UN meeting. After he gleefully describes how he's going to kick off a genocide when he gets back home, Chase kills him by deliberately misdiagnosing him and prescribing a treatment he knows will be fatal.
  • Deconstructed in the penultimate episode of Season 10 of Supernatural, Dean massacres the Styne Family (or rather, their American Branch) in revenge for Charlie's death, but it's made clear that Dean is one step away from crossing the Moral Event Horizon as a result of how merciless and ruthless he was.
  • RoboCop: Prime Directives in part details Murphy's backstory before his transfer to Metro West and becoming a cyborg in RoboCop (1987). Before his transfer and meeting Lewis, Murphy was partners with a man named John Cable at Metro South, a partnership that ended when a call to deal with a dog causes them to chance upon The Motor City Mangler, a cannibalistic Serial Killer who targets young women. The cause for the partnership ending? After the Mangler took him hostage and tried to kill both him and Murphy, Cable grabbed his gun—and proceeded to shoot the Mangler dead.
  • Sabrina Spellman from Chilling Adventures of Sabrina uses her magic more often to punish those who do evil. So far, most of their opponents were bullys.
  • The Boys (2019):
    • Hughie's motivation throughout the story, to pay A-Train back for killing the girl he loved whatever the cost.
    • Butcher's motivation too. He hates Homelander with a fiery passion.

  • Played with in the AC/DC song Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. The suggested recipients of the titular deeds are a lecherous teacher, an adulterous husband, and a nagging wife.
  • The Insane Clown Posse has a song called To Catch A Predator wherein the protagonist talks about his exploits in baiting pedophiles into coming down to his house, wherein he mutilates them and chains them up in his basement. The chorus sums up his motives nicely: "I'm probably gonna burn for this/Ain't no lesson to learn from this/There's nothing I'ma earn/But it sure is fun".
  • "I Remember Larry" by "Weird Al" Yankovic is about a guy reminiscing on the increasingly cruel pranks played on him by his old neighbor... and the final verse has him recalling how he broke into Larry's house, dragged him bound-and-gagged into the middle of the woods, stuffed him in a plastic bag, and left him for dead.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • Book of Joshua tells how the Israelites conquered the land of Canaan and killed or enslaved the native peoples. It was justified by them evidently worshipping pagan gods—by practicing child sacrifice and being sexually immoral. Later, this punishment was applied to the Israelites themselves for the very same crimes.
      • Around 400 years prior to the conquest, Noah has made a prophecy in Book of Genesis in which Canaan, the descendants of Ham will be cursed for Ham exposing Noah's nakedness, while Shem covered his nakedness and shame and will one day become Canaan's conqueror. It is up to debate whether the prophecy of punishments is for a case of Sins of Our Fathers or for their unrepentance even with hundreds of years given.
    • While staying in the borders of Shechem, a city-state, the son of the lord of the city raped Dinah, a daughter of Jacob who was visiting with some of the town girls. The two fathers hammered out an agreement between them so that the two would wed to try and put the situation behind them. Two of Jacobs elder sons, Simeon and Levi, however, took offense to the rape and slaughtered the entire male population in retaliation. When confronted by an irate Jacob, who was worried about other city states sending out warriors to kill the entire clan, Simeon and Levi pretty much told him to screw himself.
      • "Should he treat our sister as a harlot?!"
    • Sodom and Gomorrah. The Ten Plagues. The Flood. Samson killing 3,000 Philistines. The slaughter after the Israelites were found worshipping idols (though this one's debatable, as God actually didn't give Moses any instruction to do that, and it may have had more to do with putting down a revolt.)
    • The (executed) command to kill every Midianite male (regardless of age) and every Midianite female who wasn't a virgin. (Presumably, the few who were virgins ended up concubines as instructed in Deuteronomy 21:10-14.) The Old Testament God was really into this trope.
    • King David's daughter Tamar was raped by one of her brother's half-brothers Amnon. When David refused to take action, her brother Absalom ultimately took matters into his own hands and ordered his men to kill Amnon.
    • King David made Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, his mistress. When Bathsheba became pregnant, David called Uriah's troop back to the capital in the hopes that Uriah would sleep with Bathsheba so that the scandal would be hidden. Uriah was such a loyal soldier that he bunked down with his men instead, since it was unfair for him to go home when they couldn't. So David arranged for Uriah to die on the battlefield and took Bathsheba into his household. As punishment for his evil deeds, David's first son by Bathsheba fell ill and died after seven days and Absalom declared war on him.
    • Moses sent twelve scouts into the land of Israel. Ten of them came back with a report that the people living there were unbeatable, and despite the protests of the other two spies, the Israelites formed a mob and turned on Moses and Aaron. After saving them, God decreed that the Israelites would never set foot in the Promised Land until after every adult—-except the two good spies-—who left Egypt had died. He then afflicted the other ten spies with a very painful and fatal illness.
    • In the Scroll of Esther, Haman plotted to have all of the Jews in the Persian Empire killed. Instead, after Esther exposes Haman's plot, he and his sons (who were never mentioned as having been part of the plot) were hung on the gallows he had built for the Jews.
    • Averted in the Book of Jonah. Jonah actually gets rather upset that God forgave the people of Nineveh. God explains that, unlike the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Ninevites took the warning seriously and repented sincerely, so He wasn't about to go killing a bunch of innocents along with the guilty when there wasn't any need.
    • In Chapter 34 of Genesis, Jacob's only daughter Dinah was violated by a Shechemite prince. Simon and Levi, her brothers, sat down with their father when the prince and his father came by offering a lavish bride-price. They lied and said they'd only agree to the marriage if the Shechemite men agreed to be circumcised like them, which they did. When the men were incapacitated after the surgery, Jacob's sons (without his knowledge) went into the Shechemite village and slaughtered every male they could find before bringing Dinah home (along with everyone and everything else they managed to plunder). Jacob called them out on this, fearing for his tribe's safety. Their justification was "Should we have let him use her for a whore?"
    • And this is what the Lord says: If the innocent must suffer, how much more must you? You will not go unpunished! You must drink from this cup of judgment! For I have sworn by my own name," says the Lord-Jeremiah 49:12
    • Averted in the Book of Proverbs. Chapter 20, Verse 22: "Do not take vengeance against evil, but wait for the Lord and He will avenge you."
    • And strongly condemned by the New Testament. As the Trope Namer for Turn the Other Cheek, in The Four Gospels Jesus preaches nonviolence, even remonstrating Peter for attacking a Roman soldier to defend Him.
  • The idea behind "an eye for an eye" was to limit what you could do in response to someone who wronged you. According to Hammurabi, the guy who codified the idea in the first place, this was to prevent the old-fashioned method of redressing a that, in the old, bad days, if someone did a wrong to you, whether it was murder a loved one, rape your favorite daughter, steal your cattle, or insult you, you and your strongest male relatives would go out and kill the offender, then slaughter their entire clan before they could do the same to you. So, by making the law "an eye for an eye," you cannot take more than what you lost.
    • This comes into play in The Godfather. Vito refuses to kill the boys who attacked Bonasera's daughter because she was not killed. As Vito himself puts it, "that would not be justice." He does have his men brutally beat the boys and put them in the hospital, though.


    Pro Wrestling 
  • This is pretty common in general. If an individual or faction, especially a heel, is known for tormenting their opponents in a certain way (breaking a certain bone, setting them on fire, spray-painting them in order to humiliate them after the match, 5-on-1 attacks, etc.), chances are that it's going to happen to them before the gig is up. And semi-major heels are generally free game to humiliate and torture without earning the ire of the audience.
  • One of the big things that "Stone Cold" Steve Austin is known for is harassing, sabotaging, and generally torturing his opponents (usually heel in these cases), often using their methods. (stalking and setting booby traps for DX, putting The Undertaker up on the cross, trying to kill HHH at Survivor Series 2000, etc.)
  • At LLF's fourth Anniversary show Polly Star, who had been voted "bitch of the year", ended up on the receiving end of her usual strategies in the second fall of her hair vs hair match against Nikki Roxx after having dominated the first, culminating in the fans roaring in approval when Roxx hit Butt-Monkey referee Mulato (known for his bias against foreigners) in the groin with a pipe and Star took the blame, giving Roxx the third fall by disqualification.
  • Used by Edge against Kane. Kane is known for being a sadistic monster that torments and tortures his opponents without remorse: a Noble Demon at best, one of the biggest heels in all of wrestling at worst. Edge proceeds to kidnap Kane's evil father (who'd himself been seen as a monster quite often) and torture and torment him and Kane. Just so happens to follow Kane being an even bigger monster than normal, it's almost as if the WWE wanted to make sure Kane had it coming.

  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Daigo poisons his stepmother to death after years of being abused by her. Then, after receiving his superpower, he uses it to murder a man that he finds beating up his girlfriend. While these two actions have some justification behind them, he's quick to fall down the slippery slope, using his newfound power to kill innocent people for the sake of his goal.
  • In Survival of the Fittest, Well-Intentioned Extremist Lenny Priestly kills Viki Valentine and runs off into the woods, leaving Gabe McCallum and Steve Digaetano to mourn her. Next time they meet, Gabe shoots down Lenny's sister, Elizabeth Priestly in a fit of rage, despite Steve's best efforts. Now that Lenny's been rid of his Morality Chain and decided to go on a suicidal Roaring Rampage of Revenge, it's clear that Gabe has pretty much fucked up here.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech has the Word of Blake, who broke a centuries long Nuclear Weapons Taboo...on civilians. All the other factions in the Inner Sphere proceeded to break the same taboo and nuke them back.
    • The ilKhan Bret Andrews of Clan Steel Viper instigated the Wars of Reaving, which pitted the Clans against each other, and killed the Star Adder Khan N'Buta in a fit of rage. This was the last straw for the Clans, and the Star Adder saKhan Banacek killed Bret, and the remaining Clans annihilated the Steel Vipers.
  • A published Call of Cthulhu adventure, Digging Up a Dead God, has the players playing Nazis on an archaeological expedition. Given that it's CoC, and it's almost guaranteed to kill or drive the characters insane by the end, well... Most people would say there's no group more deserving of a horrible ending.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has had "Kill Evil and Take Their Stuff" as a motto for decades. And sometimes it's not even that discriminating.
    • The Grey Guard prestige class is built entirely around permitting paladins to make exceptions to their code of conduct for the sake of fighting greater evils.
    • The Gothic D&D setting Ravenloft encourages DMs to curtail the 'Stab and Loot' mentality, and downplays this trope with the use of Powers Checks (a sort of Karma Meter). It's merely downplayed because said checks are easier to succeed at if you actually paid evil unto evil (Disproportionate Retribution is still a very bad idea). Within the setting, Van Richten, the resident Expert Monster Hunter, strongly advises against indiscriminately slaughtering every creature that opposes them (Lycanthropes could be cured). Ironically, he himself has done this at least once: his origin story includes setting flesh-eating zombies on the tribe of Vistani who kidnapped his son and sold him to a vampire for their own personal profit. (He paid for that one for most the rest of his life, though.)
    • The Book of Exalted Deeds, the Good-themed companion to the Book of Vile Darkness, was notorious for this. For example, the Book of Vile Darkness contained several poisons, with notes that using poison is an evil and dishonorable act. The Book of Exalted Deeds then contained several "ravages" - even nastier poisons, some with dramatically horrific effects - and notes that they are fine for Good people to use, because they only work on Evil beings.
  • The basic focus of Pathfinder, as with its D&D precursor, is to visit unfortunate ends on evildoers, then abscond with their gold and magic items. However, using spells and actions considered evil on evil targets is still itself considered an evil act, so there's still a line before becoming a villain yourself.
  • In Exalted, Green Sun Princes can use this as a loophole to act as something resembling heroes. The terms of their servitude to the Yozis state that they absolutely have to behave in an appropriately evil manner... but the terms say nothing about who they have to target. They can solely target people as bad or worse than they are, and as long as they're sufficiently villainous in dispatching them, it doesn't risk Torment. The net result being that they're no better or worse than any other Exalt, or totally deluded monsters, depending on the campaign.
  • The HERO System supplement Dark Champions is built around this.
  • Hunter: The Vigil has Aegis Kai Doru, a group of hunters who kill magic-users and take their artifacts so that it's easier to kill more magic-users (and sometimes werewolves). The book contains a lengthy section on how to deal with the Karma Meter in light of goals like that.
    • Forget about the Greek Indiana Jones. Hunters are the only people who can modify their Moral Code to justify about everything they do, as long as it's in the light of the hunt. The text example has "murdering someone" replaced with "letting a witch/warlock loose". This only makes paying evil unto evil far, far easier for them than other denizens of shadow.
    • Elsewhere in the Chronicles of Darkness, the Free Council of Mage: The Awakening have a particular line in this. The Council's Badass Creed has three key principles: "Democracy seeks the truth, hierarchy fosters the Lie"; "Humanity is magical; human works have arcane secrets"; and "Destroy the followers of the Lie" ("The Lie" refers to the barrier between Sleepers and magic). That third one can cause certain issues, however. Because the Council are a radical order with sympathies for mages outside the Pentacle, and they have looser definitions of what behaviour is and is not acceptable in many issues, it's easy to get away with Black Magic within the Council if you only use the darker arts on the Seers of the Throne - whereas Left-Handed Legacies that concentrate on mistreating Sleepers are punished harshly.
  • Warhammer 40,000 likes this one, though it must be noted that the setting already runs on Black and Gray Morality. The Imperium and Chaos both enjoy sacrificing innocents — the former sacrifice to the Emperor, the latter to the Chaos Gods, to name one example.
    • Generally speaking, though, those who run the Imperium want their citizens to die fighting, even if victory on a given field is impossible, so that they can take down as many Renegades, Xenos, or Heretics as they can with their last breaths. Though they do regularly sacrifice hundreds of Pskyers a year to give power to the life-support-reliant Emperor, many of them would've threatened humanity had they been allowed to live.
    • The Forces of Chaos, on the other hand, sacrifice innocents in order to grant the favor of the Dark Gods so they can go on world-molesting crusades, or in particularly evil moments, for fun. However, some Chaos Space Marine players use this to make their army out to be less evil, since the Emperor himself did some pretty nasty things while establishing the Imperium, and that the society itself is very oppressive. From that perspective, the Imperium has to go for the better of mankind.
    • The Horus Heresy, as the titular novels show, can really be seen as the Traitor Legions doing this to the Emperor for all the crap he did unto them first. Notable examples include snatching Angron away from a Last Stand and leaving the closest thing he had to a family to die (whilst having ample options for saving them all), slaughtering an entire world just to emphasize his demand that Lorgar Stop Worshipping Me, and refusing to listen to Magnus's warnings about the building Civil War and siccing Leman Russ and his followers onto Magnus's world.
  • In the Planescape campaign setting, one of Sigil's factions (gangs united by a common philosophy) are the Mercykillers (nickname: "The Red Death"), militants who believe The Multiverse is inherently flawed with sin and that perfection can only be obtained by purifying your sins through just punishment. As their name implies, they do not believe in the concept of 'mercy' and any evil is to be punished, violently. They run Sigil's prison system and deal with executions. Crossing them is generally considered a poor idea.
    • The spin-off game Planescape: Torment features Vhailor, a member of the Mercykillers considered fanatical even by his faction's standards. His belief in Justice (capital letter included) is so strong it's allowed him to postpone his own death because there are still lawbreakers to punish.
  • Zigzagged in Deadlands, in that, whilst some "Gray Hats" are so dark it's outright stated that it's a matter of when, not if, they will become villains themselves, the game still lets some surprisingly dark characters play the good guys.

  • In Electra, despite the fact that murdering your mother is admittedly bad, if the gods are on your side it's acceptable. Orestes and Electra feel particularly justified by the fact that Clytemnestra killed their father.
    • And Aegisthus had killed not just Agamemnon but (years earlier) the latter's father Atreus. And Atreus himself had it coming, seeing how he'd pretended to pardon his brother Thyestes only to trick him into eating his [Thyestes'] own sons. Aigisthus was raised to avenge the half-brothers he never knew.
  • In Hecuba, the title character learns that Polymestor, to whom she and Priam had entrusted the care and safety of their youngest son, killed him for the gold when Troy fell. She lures Polymestor and his two sons into a trap, kills them, and then pokes out his eyes so that his sons' corpses are the last thing he sees.

    Video Games 
  • Alice: Madness Returns: After Alice finds out that Dr. Angus Bumby has been trying to erase her memories of the housefire that killed her family because he caused it, as well as discovering that before he set the fire he crept into her sister's room and raped her, AND has been selling young children off into human trafficking with no remorse after wiping their mind of all memories, AND was trying to do the same thing to Alice, what does she do? Push him in front of a train, of course.
  • Batman: Arkham City: The game spends quite a bit of time showing that The Penguin is a Sadistic Bad Boss who throws people in a shark tank and puts both living and dead people on display in a museum for shits and giggles. When Mr. Freeze, who was one such "exhibit," breaks free and gets his Powered Armor back with Batman's help, he gets his revenge by immediately crushing Penguin's hand, which Batman had earlier broken, underfoot until Batman forces him to back off, and then locks him in one of the display cases. It's quite satisfying, really.
  • The demon Marduk from Sacrifice takes this trope to spectacular extremes. He was created as the embodiment of evil by an (unknown) higher power, and charged with punishing anyone evil enough to summon him by destroying their entire world. He describes his task as destroying "all that is a reflection of myself".
  • Dishonored lends itself to this very well. Main characters in both games are set upon by gangs, overzealous religious authorities, and amoral aristocrats, and while murdering EVERYONE will net a player the worst ending, the main targets of each level are open to both Laser-Guided Karma and alternatively straight-up murder depending on the player's choice.
  • Sly Cooper steals from other thieves and gives to himself and his friends. He doesn't seem to do anything with his money, though; it was mostly for bragging rights. It's also the ancestral family trade; the fourth game Thieves In Time shows that his family has been stealing from other criminals from at least the Ice Age onward.
    • Compare Kaitou Saint Tail who only stole already stolen items to give them back to their rightful owners. She was honestly worried enough about this trope to pray to God before each mission to assure Him and herself she wasn't doing this for bad reasons.
    • Or compare aversion Lupin III, who has no self-illusions about what he does. He steals from everyone, it's just that bad people tend to have more money.
    • To paraphrase Sly on the subject, it's more fun stealing from master criminals in their heavily fortified lairs than from Joe Blow down the street. There is no honor in breaking into Mr. Blow's house, because it's too easy and he won't have any valuables worth the time and effort.
      • To be fair to the guy, he spends most of the games stealing back things people stole from him - his family's book, the Clockwerk body, and his family fortune. Sly's gang usually donates their money to charitable organizations.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Played straight throughout the series. A good portion of the games are spent slaughtering enemy NPCs and taking their stuff, leaving their cold and looted corpses behind. Doing so won't make you infamous in the slightest. This is even Lampshaded early in Morrowind. The local tavern owner in the First Town tells you that you're free to increase your skills on bandits, but if you try that on townsfolk it's called murder. He then points you in the direction of the closest bandit hideout. The guards will also tell you that outlaws legally have no rights, and you can deal with them as painfully as you want. Also lampshaded in Oblivion by the Countess of Leyawin: she says to go ahead and kill any outlaws you find and take their stuff: everybody on the right side of the law wins.
    • Oblivion has an "Infamy" tracker which goes up when you perform "evil" acts. Becoming the leader of the Thieves' Guild or Dark Brotherhood naturally cause it to go up. However, slaughtering bandits, necromancers, and the like by the thousands won't increase your Infamy in the slightest, even when stealing a single key gives infamy points.
  • Same in Mount & Blade. Attacking Travellers or Lords generally brings you in trouble with their government except if they're enemies to begin with, but all kinds of bandits, looters and raiders are free to be killed or knocked unconscious and then sold into slavery. They provide a good source of money and experience and most adventurers that have not (yet) sworn allegiance to a kingdom will likely spend all day bandit-hunting. It also happens between kingdoms, raiding, killing travelling farmers and merchants is ok as long as they belong to the enemy side, while of course every Calradian kingdom believes to be the only one with a justified claim to the throne, so the others are obviously evil impostors.
  • Aribeth's actions in Neverwinter Nights are more of pay evil unto very questionable, but the idea is there.
  • Tales of Vesperia - This is the source of all of Yuri's various instances of Moment of Awesome. Also, all the people he kills were cruel to begin with, and probably deserved worse.
  • In Portal 2 Wheatley pulls this during his descent into villainy when he turns GLaDOS into a potato.
  • In some games with a Karma Meter (Fable immediately comes to mind), killing Mooks gives Good points. Even unprovoked killings.
    • You can kill bandits while they're asleep and it's considered "Good", but killing their leader is "Evil".
      • Fable II solved the problem: killing bandits or anyone else in self-defense (if they're hostile, you're killing in self-defense) doesn't change your morality at all. Unprovoked killings (if you had to make them hostile by punching them in the face) are evil. Morality is much more static than fluid this time around.
    • Lucian is such an evil and vile character Rose is urging you to do this. Yes, you can, or if you wait too long, the series bastard Reaver does it for you. Pay evil unto evil indeed.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild:
    • During his travels, Link can encounter Bokoblin camps, where they’ll happily dance about and chat among themselves. He can then slaughter them all, harvest their body parts, and raid their camp for their weapons, food, and loot before going on his merry way. Granted, the Bokoblins are also minions of Calamity Ganon who will immediately try to kill Link the moment they see him.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Many of the Renegade options the player can take involve Shepard, the main character of the first trilogy, being a total bastard to other bastards. Several times, people are outright shot in the head or otherwise have their lives ruined, though they are usually very bad people to begin with. Or very annoying reporters.
    • Mass Effect 2:
      • This is how Garrus operated during his career on Omega. While he at least took pains to prevent civilian casualties, it's telling that most of his Shadow Broker dossier lists particularly ironic kills of assorted gang leaders, drug dealers, gunrunners and serial killers.
      • Two of your other squadmates present contrasting viewpoints on it. Mordin Solus, a black ops agent-turned-MD, comments in response to a helper criticizing him for his nonchalant killing of several gangsters that threatened his clinic on Omega with the comment, "Lots of ways to help people. Sometimes heal patients; sometimes execute dangerous people. Either way helps." In contrast, assassin Thane Krios is known for praying for his own soul after assassinations, and remarks to Shepard that "Removing evil from the world is not the same as creating good."
    • Mass Effect: Andromeda occasionally presents Ryder with similar options, such as a Quick Time Event to kill an already-disarmed kett boss mid-sentence during a cutscene. Also, after Sloane Kelly arrived on kett-occupied Kadara, she and the other Exiles butchered the kett on-planet; your first sight after docking in Kadara Port is of a kett head on a pike.
  • The Fallout series:
    • Ruthlessly subverted in Fallout. Attempt to kill the enterprising businessman Iguana Bob, and the entire town - including the heavily armed Police Force, the local Mob and visiting caravan drivers - turn hostile and try to retaliate. Your karma meter is also penalized if you choose to spare Bob's life and instead blackmail him over his secret. The secret, I might add, that no one will believe, and over which they will try to kill you for acting directly!
    • In Fallout 2, killing bandits raises your Karma meter, which is fair enough. It also goes up when you kill drug dealers and pimps, which still makes sensenote . But killing prostitutes also raises the Karma meter—not by much, but damn! It's kinda funny that a character is revered as a great hero for killing masses of whores. Jack the Ripper: Hero of the Wasteland!
    • Fallout 3 provides good karma and good items for gunning down Evil characters, even if it's done in cold blood. Since the definition of evil is... rather loose... in the local universe, this can lead to some interesting interactions. Where stealing scrap material loses Karma Meter points, and taking a Ripper to a friendly NPC's head can provide points.
      • It's especially odd that you gain karma from killing Mr. Tenpenny for two reasons: One, that you can do it with no provocation and completely in cold blood and two, near as one can tell, if you convince the residents to let the ghouls in, you find out that Tenpenny does not condone the morally reprehensible prejudices he allows, he's just oblivious to them, though this may apply less to Megaton. (Also, please note these "morally reprehensible prejudices" turn out in this specific case to be fully justified.) The problem with this quest is that while the resident's "morally reprehensible prejudices" do become justified, your killing of Roy Phillips is not due to him being flagged as a "Good Karma" character despite being an utter bastard when you learn the truthnote  Thanks a lot Three Dog!
      • You can also slaughter the entire town of Paradise Falls, a town of slavers. Not only will you not be penalized, you'll actually gain karma for some of the people you kill. Possibly justified in that almost nobody in the setting likes slavers.
      • This trope is also played 100% straight, in Fallout 3, New Vegas, and Fallout 4 in the case of Raiders. The laundry list: Kidnapping, banditry, torturing people literally to death, desecrating corpses to the point they aren't always recognizable as human any more, and sexually assaulting the people they capture—just to name a few. Oh, and to even be considered for joining their ranks? You have to prove you're at least as bad as they are. No wonder waltzing in and methodically murdering every last resident of a Raider camp, then stealing everything that isn't bolted down, is never considered a bad thing.
      • There are limits to what you can do to Raiders in Fallout 3 without accruing negative karma, though. Specifically, enslaving them with the Mesmetron.
      • It should be noted that in Fallout 3 you can also get a perk that gives you a bonus for killing good characters. It's also one of the few games that punishes either side of the karma line. If you're evil, the Regulators come after you; if you're good, criminals start hiring the Talon Mercenaries to hunt you down. In a roundabout way, you are "rewarded" for being Good by having Talon hit squads to kill you with their mid-level gear of Combat Armor... which is much better than the Regulator's "Cowboy" gear of leather dusters.
    • In Fallout: New Vegas, Vulpes Inculta butchers the town of Nipton for being a Wretched Hive filled with bastards willing to sell each other out after the citizens failed a Secret Test of Character he put on. In fact Vulpes is so much a believer of this trope, that if you tell him his acts are unforgiveable, he outright tells you to kill him if you truly think he's evil. (Which can be a Bullying The Dragon moment for him if you started with the Mercenary Pack with the overpowered grenade launcher and armor for that point of the game.)
      • The Legion destroyed the NCR garrison at Searchlight by opening casks of radioactive waste being stored there, turning the soldiers into ghouls. The leader of the survivors asks the Courier to destroy the Legion slaver camp and ferry terminal at Cottonwood Cove in retaliation. If you chose to do this by dumping a truckload of radioactive barrels onto the camp, he will comment on the irony of it, even more so if you are a girl.
      • In Fallout: New Vegas's DLC Honest Hearts, this is Joshua Graham's plan for dealing with the invading White Legs tribe in Zion. Towards the people of New Canaan and the tribes they help, he's a man trying to atone for his past sins and prove that he is no longer the Malpais Legate. To the White Legs, he might as well still be, as evidenced by his general Kill 'Em All policy, executing them on their knees, and stabbing their heads on pikes as examples.
      • Annoyingly, the gameplay in New Vegas still gives you positive karma for killing evil people but stealing loses you karma proportional to the in-game value of the object unless the entire faction you're stealing from is evil (which is pretty much just the Powder Gangers, Fiends, and assorted raiders—but not the Legion).
    • Not a part of the gameplay of Fallout 4 due to the absence of Karma Meter, but still present in various storylines and NPCs:
      • Pickman has a lovely art gallery in downtown Boston. An art gallery full of paintings done in blood, dismembered body parts, and corpses. It turns out Pickman is a serial killer; however, his target of choice are the murderous and bloodthirsty raiders, a faction known for laying waste to anything they come across. If you save Pickman from the raiders and let him go free, not only will he give you a knife as a thank you present, but raider corpses will turn up at random in the Commonwealth with his signature notes on them.
      • In Wasteland Workshop DLC, you can use cages to capture the Gunners and Raiders and then shove a pet Deathclaw to let them duel each other.
  • Happened in Saints Row 2, although it's not so much as pay evil onto evil as pay evil onto greyness. Maero gets his revenge for unintentionally getting tattooed with nuclear acid set up by the main character by torturing Carlos and having the player Mercy Kill him. The main character gets him back by kidnapping his girlfriend, Jessica, stuffing her into the trunk of a car, and using it as fodder in a monster truck rally that Maero is in, with Jessica still in the trunk. She doesn't survive.
    • Additionally, near the end of the storyline dealing with the Ronin, Johnny Gat takes revenge for the murder of his girlfriend, Aisha, by beating, humiliating, and locking the man who ordered her murder in the coffin and burying him alive. This game loves this trope. Let's put that into clearer perspective: Johnny is a kill-crazy psycho who would've killed Shougo without being given a reason, but at that moment was in mourning at Aisha's funeral in progress, and even gave Shougo a chance to leave. Shougo insisted on disrupting the service to scoff at and provoke Johnny, so I doubt anyone had any pity for him when he got put into the ground right then and there.
  • The main villain of Condemned: Criminal Origins is a serial killer who hunts down and kills other killers with their own methods.
  • Normally killing when in cold blood in Red Dead Redemption II gives a hit to your honor but there are a few times when it will actually give you a boost. There are three encounters with the Klan where you can kill them for a gain in honor each time (though they kill themselves by accident if left to their own devices). A stranger mission involves helping a man who Arthur thinks got his house foreclosed on because he got screwed over by the railroad company, he's actually an old slave catcher who gives you an honor boost for killing at the end of the mission. There's a eugenics supporter in the Hub City of Saint Denis whom you can kill in broad daylight for an honor boost with absolutely no consequences, even with police officers standing on every corner. If you decide to put him on the back of your horse for a more creative death outside his street corner (such as feeding him to an alligator or dropping him into a canyon), no one wil stop you either and you get an honor boost when he dies.
  • Agent 47 o f Hitman is paid almost always to kill evil criminals of some sorts. The reason stated is that The Agency finds more profit in global stability than just being paid by random criminals to whack philanthropists.
    • At other times, though, it gets a little dicey: at the conclusion of Contracts he assassinates a French police officer, as he believes that the man in question knows too much about him. Similarly, at the end of Blood Money, Agent 47 is revived from apparent death during his funeral, and kills everyone present at the funeral, including an innocent priest and a journalist (although in fairness, the journalist had been provided with a great deal of information about him).
    • Officially he is sent to take down bad people, but anyone who compromises his identity to said underworld connections is also fair game.
    • Absolution definitely cements 47 as one who personally embraces this philosophy: sure, he gunned down Diana Burnwood (except, not really) at the start of the game, but the rest of the game has him going rogue to save Victoria from both the ICA and Blake Industries, while still willing to murder their key figures to protect her.
  • This trope is the central premise of Bully, where Jimmy Hopkins, the new student at the worst school in the country, strives to stop the rampant bullying and create order between the cliques.
  • Nazis, bloodsuckers, and murdering thugs are the stock enemies of Bloodrayne, and Rayne often expresses her satisfaction with slaughtering them in the most graphically gory ways possible.
  • In Escape Velocity, blowing up ships and conquering planets doesn't make you very well liked by the surrounding systems (unless it's by an opposing faction.) Meanwhile, conquering Space Pirate worlds and bases then demanding they pay you tribute; nobody cares (pirates attack you regardless,) and one of the few 100% reliable ways to boost your Karma Meter with every faction is to shoot pirates and take their stuff. Curiously nobody demands that the System Lord try to shut down said pirates.
    • Still, dominating entire worlds is such a notoriously evil act in EV that no matter who the planet once belonged to and where you are now, you'll always have to fend off Bounty Hunters.
    • The third game features a story example. The Auroran preamble discusses a disgraced Heraani warrior named Turo'mar, also known as "The Claimer" or the Tharakoodesh, who kills those who attack the innocent. He leaves the headless corpse behind with the message,
      Thus die those who attack the innocent. Death's harvest is rich with the blood of cowards, and the virtuous have the strength to reap it. The claimer is here. Take heed...
      • It also features the so-called Pirate storyline. It centres around you leading a renewed Association of Free Traders, who only pirate actual pirates (they do, however, smuggle things).
  • Super Mario 64 has a mission called "Bully the Bullies" in Lethal Lava Land. You bully them by pushing them into the lava, which is essentially the only way to kill them. Perhaps a literal example, since this is exactly what they're trying to do to you (their shoves don't cause damage - just a little knockback and stun).
  • In Civilization IV, if an area remains in the shroud long enough, there is a chance that a barbarian civilization will form there. This will have cities, farms, etc. There's absolutely no way to make peace or trade with these groups, the only solution to the hostile raids is to wipe them off the Earth. Although occasionally if the city is large enough you can merely conquer them instead.
    • Some of the more extensive and complex mods allow these barbarian civilizations to eventually mature into "minor" civilizations, and then into full-on civilizations, enabling trade and diplomacy with them. However, they still need to be left alone long enough to reach that stage, and not everyone is willing to let new empires spring up on their doorstep...
  • God of War is this trope, thanks to some extreme characterization of the Greek gods.
  • Skies of Arcadia: The Blue Rogues fit the "noble pirate" archetype, and steal from two rigidly defined categories: 1) people who are extremely rich, with varying amounts of consideration for the potential for financial ruin and bodily harm given based on how moral the rich person is; and 2) Black Pirates. Category 2 fits under this trope as Black Pirates are sky pirates like Blue Rogues, but rob indiscriminately and tend to leave a trail of pain and suffering in their wake.
  • World of Warcraft-the Knights of the Ebon Blade certainly qualify.
    • To elaborate and clarify, the Knights Of The Ebon Blade are Death Knights, soulless quasi-undead killing machines that the Lich King so well designed that they literally feel pain unless they are killing something. Once they freed themselves from the Lich King's control, they didn't regain their souls and become moral warriors again. They just turned all of their power and malice back towards the Lich King.
    • Demon hunters certainly fall into this trope as well. They fight demons by using their own demonic magic against them, even to the point of having physical traits like horns. The difference between the demons and the demon hunters is that the former wouldn't stop at nothing to destroy all creation, while the latter would sacrifice everything to save it, even if it means to be tormented by the demons they hate for eternity while borrowing their power to slay other demons.
    • Warlocks also fall into this. They wield corrupting fel magic, but they wield it in defense of Azeroth (especially against demons and the Burning Legion) and try their best to not become corrupted by it.
  • Blood Omen features an odd play on this; the main character is the evil being payed unto evil; he was created and turned into a monster to be set on the Circle of Nine, a group of insane wizards that were slowly destroying the world.
  • In Overlord, you beat up seven alleged heroes who have fallen to the seven deadly sins thanks to the Big Bad, who was a hero before.
  • Lightning Warrior Raidy features an erotic version of this with the boss battles in both games. Raidy always encounters level bosses in the middle of sexually tormenting a kidnapped NPC in a variety of ways; if she loses the ensuing boss battle, the game over sequence features the boss subjecting Raidy to this treatment, but if Raidy wins, she gives them a taste of their own medicine.
  • In Might and Magic 2 characters who entered certain valleys could discover peaceful goblin villages. They could then choose to attack them and slaughter them all, likely leaving any surviving children who hid from your murderous rampage orphans who will vow vengeance upon humanity for your actions; but since they're monsters and you're heroes it's okay!
  • Alec Mason in Red Faction Guerrilla spends most of the game causing property damage in the hundreds of millions, bombing industrial centers and troop barracks, and breaking many, many people in half through sledgehammer-induced blunt force trauma. There's no disguising the fact that he's functionally a terrorist...except that he's facing off the oppressive, thuggish, and violent EDF, who harass and abuse workers, shoot miners with little provocation, who finally pushed the initially reluctant Alec to join the Red Faction after an EDF gunship killed his younger brother. The entire game really boils down to a Roaring Rampage of Revenge led by Alec Mason against the EDF to avenge Daniel.
  • Many sidequests in The Godfather 2 involve you dealing injury to the person or property of those who have done injustice against the quest-givers.
  • While the Suikoden series is famous for the Grey and Gray Morality of most of its villains, Suikoden V gives us Salum Barows, who is a corrupt and self-serving politician who incited riots, stole a national treasure, and tried to coerce the Prince into making his own nation just to assassinate him later. While he's left humiliated during the game, he's still around and could cause problems in the future. There is great catharsis when Sialeeds blasts him with the Twilight Rune.
  • This turns out to have been the Big Bad's motivation in Ace Attorney Investigations 2. No player really mourned Di-Jun Huang's double after finding out what he did. You even kinda admire the Big Bad for helping put Blaise Debeste behind bars. On the other hand, the assassin Sirhan considers threatening Patricia Roland's family as a case of this, but to the player it comes off as Kick the Son of a Bitch since at the time they don't know she was involved in a presidential assassination and falls into the Deconstruction category as Patricia is driven flat-out insane from being Properly Paranoid to the point where it's hard not to feel sorry for her.
  • In Gone Home the reason the house has been ransacked turns out to be that Sam pawned everything of value she could get her hands on to finance her elopement with her girlfriend, which she feels completely justified in doing thanks to her parents' passive-aggressive reaction to her coming out as a lesbian (though the years of implied Parental Favoritism toward her older sister Katie may have also had something to do with it).
  • Homeworld's Fleet Intelligence very calmly states that the captain of a captured vessel was apparently tortured to death, with good reason: He was part of the fleet responsible for devastating Kharak.
    Fleet Intelligence: The subject did not survive interrogation.
  • Heavily implied, though never confirmed in Hotel Dusk: Room 215, in regards to Robert Evans. Dunning is told that he'll never have to deal with Robert again at one point six months prior to the game. Kyle theorizes that his ex-partner Bradley, who knew Robert was a member of the organization that killed Bradley's sister Mila and kidnapped Dunning's daughter Jenny, killed him in retribution.
  • Borderlands is basically this: you go out, you slaughter an entire town, grab the loot. Repeat. And you are the good(-ish?) guy, but you're only ever put up against psycho bandits or amoral corporations who've both done significantly worse.
  • In StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, basically the entire plot is motivated by Kerrigan's desire to personally end the life of Manipulative Bastard Arcturus Mengsk for a shocking variety of crimes against her in particular and the sector in general. (Short list: he fed her homeworld and four billion citizens to the zerg invasion, betrayed her in the same battle, leading to her being infested, tried to kill her multiple times, tried to capture her for experimentation when she was de-infested, and claimed to have executed her lover.) Even the composer can't argue with the necessity; the track for the final battle is fittingly titled "He Had It Coming".
  • In one of the Ork's after-action epilogues in Dawn of War: Soulstorm, the Orks deliver some measure of karma on the captured Dark Eldar by inventing a new sport which involves trapping the Dark Eldar warriors in their own slave cages and seeing how far they can throw them in the moon's reduced gravity.
  • Leliana of the Dragon Age series subscribes hard to this. Torture and rape leads to her executing the guard captain responsible, and her personal quest involves hunting down the woman who betrayed her and even if let go Leliana does not let this drop. She tries to kill The Warden if The Urn of Sacred Ashes is defiled, and that's just the first game. The second she can be seen eliminating threats to Thedas and her reputation for this trope has her both revered and feared.The third can begin with her threatening assassination of the Inquisitor's family and murdering the son of a magister maddened with grief, and it gets better when she tries to go behind Josephine's back and plot murder on those who threaten her, or should the Duchess die take up the offer of her remains performing community service by warning off other threats.
  • Dr. Luis, the antagonist of South of Real, spent the entirety of the main character's childhood experimenting on his own adopted children. Sure, Luis was trying to weaponize the kids and use them to stop The End of the World as We Know It. And sure, he's become a Death Seeker by the time the game rolls around. But there's no reason to forgive him, whatever his reasons. And there are no consequences for taking him out either.
  • In Soul Nomad & the World Eaters, Trish has this adoptive father named Hawthorne that she looks out for. At one point, the bandit queen Shauna kidnaps him, and when Trish finds them again, Shauna proceeds to grill him on his past before slitting his throat in full view of Trish. While one can't help to feel for the girl, it'd be easier to sympathize with Hawthorne if Shauna hadn't revealed via said interrogation that he was a serial rapist of the worst kind, of whom Trish would have been the latest victim. And this is in the Normal path; she's too late to stop the rape in the Demon Path.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim features a vampire assassin first met while she is retelling a story about how she used a man's apparent sexual attraction and desire for her to lure him in before killing him. With the context being that she has the body of a ten year-old girl.
  • Haunting Starring Polterguy: Poltergeist Polterguy thinks the best thing is to haunt the Sardini Family's houses to teach them a lesson.
  • You can do some truly brutal things to the bad guys in Wolfenstein: The New Order, but you're doing it to the magitech Nazis who took over the world. And trust us, they haven't made it a nice world, either.
    • After the halfway point of the campaign, Anya will read excerpts from her cousin Ramona's diary, which states that soon after her boyfriend was summarily executed by Nazi soldiers, she started picking up random Nazis and leading them to their deaths, and at one point she becomes pregnant, and once aborts the "Nazi" baby and continues her killing spree like nothing happened.
  • This is an alternate version of Superman's philosophy after he was tricked by The Joker into nuking Metropolis and killing his own wife Lois Lane in Injustice: Gods Among Us. He vowed to no longer stand by and watch, and except for Batman, most of the Justice League supported this policy of abandoning the Thou Shalt Not Kill rule, transforming them into the Regime. But as time went by, this policy slowly made them Not So Different from the criminals and villains they fought for so long. By the end of the game, the Flash begins to realize how far Superman has fallen after noticing the corrupt Man of Steel kill Shazam in cold blood just for questioning his policies post-Metropolis. In the sequel, the Regime's Well-Intentioned Extremist stance on crime hasn't changed despite most of its members defecting to other factions, on the run or being incarcerated, and they plan to restore their tyrannical order once Brainiac is dealt with.
  • This is the LAST thing you'd expect from the Sonic the Hedgehog series, let alone its titular character, but Sonic actually does step into this in Sonic and the Secret Rings. In the ending, Sonic forces Erazor Djinn to grant his three wishes (Which were the antithesis to what Erazor wanted, and it's implied that it physically hurt Erazor when Sonic used Erazor's lamp to force the genie to grant said wishes), with Sonic's third wish being for Erazor to be sealed away in his lamp forever. To go one step further, Sonic then throws said lamp into a pit of lava. If Erazor Djinn hadn't proven himself to be utterly irredeemable, this would definitely come off as uncharacteristically cruel for Sonic.
  • Hell is bad, but the Doom Slayer is worse, as DOOM (2016) demonstrates. The game's backstory outright states the Doom Slayer has been brutalizing and butchering the demons such an ungodly length of time that they are collectively pissing terrified of him. Being demons of the classic 'corrupt mortals, scourge worlds, spread suffering' variety, they deserve every bit of violence they receive at the hands of one spectacularly furious man.

    Web Animation 
  • In the Zero Punctuation review of Fallout: New Vegas, Yahtzee mentions that since he stopped stealing everything that wasn't bolted down, he can now kill bandits with a smug sense of moral superiority... before taking all of their stuff.
    "Which isn't stealing! They attacked me first, making it mine by International Law of 'Go F*ck Yourselves".
  • Red vs. Blue Reconstruction: Agent South Dakota caused the death of her brother North, and shot Agent Washington in the back and left him as bait just to save her own skin. She's finally cornered by Washington (after Caboose shot her) who shoots her in the head, and disposes of her body by burning it, burying it, and blowing it up. She totally deserved all that.

    Web Comics 
  • Pretty much the standard response for Chuck a.k.a. Weapon Brown. Among his more notable accomplishments is tearing off the cybernetic limbs off his old tormentor Croc, brutally beating and torturing him for a bit, then shoving him ass-first onto a flamethrower and firing it, and cutting out Dr. Van Pelt's tongue and watching her try to beg for mercy without it.
  • In Looking for Group, Richard the Undead Warlock embodies this trope. He can turn the tide of pretty much any battle, is lord of his own legion of undead villagers (ones he most likely killed himself), slaughters indiscriminately, eats babies (even once being placed into a nursery by a woman mistaking him for a child after he was shrunk, which he is later removed from and asks why he had to leave the buffet with lamenting women in the background), and he would fit Always Chaotic Evil perfectly if not for the fact that he does have a few moments where a softer personality shows up, if only for a moment, and the fact that the majority of the slaughtering he does is to help the Heroes win the war against their Big Bad, even going out of his way to ensure the survival of his allies despite constantly saying that he's only along for the fun of killing. In one particular Moment of Awesome, Richard rescues Cale'Anon, cauterizing a mortal wound in his throat with fire to keep the elf from bleeding to death, carrying him down a mountainside, slaughtering a massively fat Black Dwarf, slicing the dwarf open, putting Cale inside it, sealing it shut again, and encasing the dwarf in a massive block of ice in order to protect Cale from a massive wave of hot lava that was rushing towards them from the mountainside, simply standing outside the block of ice and waiting for the wave to hit him rather than trying to save himself, as seen here.
  • Reflected in Darths & Droids Episode 64:
    Qui-Gon: We'll have to find some money somehow. What's my character's alignment again? <...>
    GM: Lawful Good. In theory.
    Qui-Gon: Right. So if we rob people, we should make sure they're gangsters first.
  • Oasis from Sluggy Freelance adopts this practice when she becomes Podunkton's resident vigilante. Most characters in this storyline have at least a couple moments where they're uneasy about Oasis's casual attitude towards murdering criminals, but considering her history as a Brainwashed assassin and Yandere, this is still seen as a step in the right direction.
  • Being based on Dungeons & Dragons, The Order of the Stick addresses this. It's notable that usually the heroes don't go "kill evil and take their stuff", as a general rule. They have a quest to kill a very evil person, and have to fight and kill said evil person's minions. When resident Heroic Comedic Sociopath Belkar mentions it, the others look at him strangely.
    • An interesting case occurs across nearly the whole comic's run. Early in the comic, the party comes across a black dragon, considered Always Chaotic Evil due to its chromatic nature, and Vaarsuvius kills it. Shortly afterward, paladin Miko's essentially confirms it's okay to kill black dragons. Much later, however, the vengeful, grieving mother of the dragon attempts to kill Vaarsuvius's children. In retaliation, Vaarsuvius casts a spell that kills everyone related to that dragon. V later learns that the spell murdered hundreds of innocents, including the defenders of one of the gates holding the world together. The overall message being, no, you shouldn't just kill things because they're listed as "evil" in the book.
    • The prequel book On the Origin of PCs has an interesting subversion of this: Roy and Durkon meet up when they're with an adventuring party that's supposed to wipe out a group of unruly orcs. Roy manages to deduce that the orcs are just rowdy music fans in town for a concert, and decides to spare them... much to the chagrin of his party, who wanted the XP. That's when he and Durkon decide they really need to part ways with the rest of the party]].
    • Also an example of this in the prequel Start of Darkness. Since the goblin race is supposedly "Always Chaotic Evil", normally good and honest paladins burn and pillage a goblin town without a second thought. This starts Redcloak on his quest to control the god-destroying, soul-eating Snarl, which later leads to him conquering those paladins' city. In essence, the Paladins raid the goblins to protect the gate and to gain strength to do that better, and the goblins raid the humans to keep from being EXP fodder for life. It's a Two-Way-Vicious-Cycle of pay evil unto evil. They each attack the other because its what the other does to them and to ensure their own survival.
    • Exploited by Haley when she has to fight her old fellow Thieves' Guild members. She remarks first that she knows everyone there, so this will be difficult ... then realizes...
      "...everyone I grew up with is an asshole. That's George at the top of the stairs. He beats his wife. Full attack!"
  • Axe Cop: The title character devotes most of his time to cleaving the skulls of "bad guys". Enforced in that the author is six-years old. Also, he can tell good guys from bad guys by their front kicks.
  • Goblins has done a fair job of pulling up the monster view of this trope. The start of the comic features a goblin "war camp", but it is eventually revealed that the camp was established simply to distract heroes and keep them from going deeper into the forest and discovering the village where the women and children live.
    • When the Fortuneteller confronts Forgath, she manages to point out to him the horror being inflicted on the goblins. For a brief moment, Forgath realizes that their actions are even more evil than the goblins who had simply been arguing about various things in their camp. Then Fortuneteller ruins it...
    • Minmax also throws Dellyn Goblinslayer through the bar window before picking a fight with him. Then immediately at the end of their fight, Goblinslayer is stabbed to death by Kin, whom he spent his time raping.
    • An alternate universe Dellyn killed Kin and tortured Forgath to death. Minmax found a magic orb that let him see what happened to them, and then tortured Dellyn with the exact same methods in one go. Dellyn made it through all of Kin's torture and six of Forgath's before dying.
  • Jessica tries to do this to Tess in Bittersweet Candy Bowl, using the "fact" that she's a whore (a rumor created by Tess two years before the present time; Jessica was, in fact, a virgin) to seduce Tess's love interest Paulo, going on a date with him and finally having sex with him in the bathroom of a dance club. It backfires on her though, as she gets no satisfaction out of it and in the end feels like a whore - a real one.
  • Ame from Heart Core hopes to gather food for both herself and her sister by tearing out the hearts of a couple of would be muggers/rapists, thinking that there would be no consequences if she only harvested and killed criminals. She was wrong, leading to both a demonic demon hunter and a paladin being assigned to find her.
  • In Strong Female Protagonist, a webcomic dealing a teenage ex-superhero (Allison, aka Mega-Girl) wrestling with questions about the efficacy and ethics of traditional superheroism, Moonshadow is of this view, and takes to killing rapists who escape justice under the law. Allison admits she'd like to Pay Evil Unto Evil sometimes, but recognizes it's wrong.
  • Girl Genius: What Colette does to Beausoleil after he murders her father is undeniably brutal, but there's no question that he deserved every second of it.

    Web Original 
  • This is the rationale everyone has for setting Dr. Insano on The Nostalgia Critic in Kickassia. Notably, Spoony and Linkara disagreed. Spoony because he WAS Insano, and Linkara...well:
    Angry Joe: Sometimes the best way to deal with a madman is to send in another madman...
    Linkara: That is a stupid plan!
    Angry Joe: A stupid plan, for a stupid man!
    Linkara: Are you high?!
  • In the Bridge to Terabithia movie review, the The Nostalgia Critic doesn't generally like bullying but also is against using violence to respond to bullying. That said, when the bully in the movie made a joke about the protagonist's best friend dying tragically, the protagonist lost it and attacked the bully and the Critic approved.
  • The Kindness of Devils: Hardestadt Delac and his allies almost always kill the villains—sometimes in very brutal fashions. That being said, nearly every major villain is a Hate Sink and/or someone who desires to kill thousands, millions, or eradicate all life on earth. Whenever these villains perish, it's nothing but cathartic.
  • Speaking of Spoony, The Nostalgia Chick raped him two years after he raped her because she wanted revenge.
  • In Worm, Shadow Stalker repeatedly attempted to kill Grue for no other reason than that his powers countered hers, had killed before, attempted to give the same treatment to Skitter before the Undersiders caught her, and in her civilian identity, tormented and bullied Taylor almost to the point of suicide and gave her a Traumatic Superpower Awakening. So, when Regent mind-controlled her into ruining her relationship with her family and faking an attempted suicide, sending her to Juvie for violating her probation, nobody really minded. Later, Regent permanently enslaves the mass-murdering supervillain Shatterbird, and treats her in ways that his more moral teammate Skitter finds extremely discomfitting, but he and Tattletale argue that, since Shatterbird has murdered entire cities worth of people, she deserves whatever she gets.
  • Legatum:
    • The Green Wanderer has Marrox encountering a werewolf raping another werewolf. He doesn't even attempt to subdue her; he immediately creeps behind the rapist and snaps her neck.
    • The Road to Hell... has Harvon and Shurrmvin banding together to start a rebellion in Kosslivo. Chapter 7 shows them and their four allies massacring an entire battalion of (mostly) unarmed orcs who just got done slaughtering a peaceful community of ogres.
    • Scrambled Egg has Sonya and Tanya seeking out criminals and other sinners in the world and slaying them in an attempt to bring peace in the world.
  • Done fairly goofily in this annotation to Skippy's List.
    Skippy: I examined my options carefully. I didn’t own a suit. I certainly wasn’t going to buy one. I wasn’t particularly interested in renting a tux. Well, technically I was allowed to wear a dress. A female interrogator in my unit offered to let me borrow a pretty green sequined number that she owned. The way I figured it, if my chain of command was going to spend an evening making me uncomfortable and awkward, the least I could do was return the favor.
  • Whateley Universe: This is the official school policy for someone who violates the Accords (the agreement establishing the school's neutrality and establishing the rules about protecting the student body) in general, and especially for anyone reckless enough to dare attack, threaten, or blackmail a student's family in order to get at the student and/or the school.
    • In 2006, when an evil cult tries to blackmail a student by threatening the families of her friends at school, Headmistress Carson calls the alumni association, and suddenly all of the superhero alumni are looking the other way while the supervillain alumni take action (one of whom, Dr. Diabolik, stated that a 'measured response' to this would be 'something on the order of orbital bombardment'). By the end of that week, the group was almost entirely liquidated and their assets taken as booty.
    • Prior to this, the last case of something like this occurred in 1996; the Serbian terrorists responsible were made the senior project of that year, and of the members of the group still living, every last damn one of them was on life support...and profusely grateful to be in jail.
    • Outside of the Whateley school policy, there is also the Syndicate, which has very precise rules on where the actual lines are. Cross those lines, and not only will a supervillain be unable to draw from the world's largest bevy of resources, but they'll get explicitly targeted by those with those resources — such as when Dr. Diabolik went after the Purifier. The Syndicate also doesn't typically interfere with grudges between two parties, but that's a different kettle of fish.
  • In the test logs for SCP-682, a "guest researcher" notes that 682 was friendly toward 053, a young girl who usually makes everyone around her incredible hostile. Instead of going to the obvious conclusion, that 053's anomalous properties affected 682 differently, that 682's warped world view made it see 053 as a friend, or that 682 attacking the girl would only hurt it in the long run, the guest researcher instead tested to see if other children might have a similar effect on it. They don't. Dr. Clef throws the guest researcher into 682's chamber personally.

    Western Animation 
  • Danny Phantom sometimes got a What the Hell, Hero? or Not So Different speech for messing with the bullies in his school with his ghost powers. This rarely lasted more than an episode. The first of these amounting to a B-plot aesop about judging people. The ghost of the week showed up while Danny was getting his revenge on the Jock/Bully Dash, and jumps to the conclusion that Danny is the bully, irresponsibly using his powers to torment an undeserving victim. Ghost proceeds to expel Danny to a Ghost Zone area with the main plot being Danny trying to escape, while the B-plot had Possesed!Danny subtly using his powers to help and befriend Dash, who didn't act so terrible while this was going on.
  • On Avatar: The Last Airbender, Katara uses this logic to defend her theft of a Waterbending scroll: "Stealing is wrong... unless it's from pirates." Toph later uses the same rationale for cheating in a crooked gambling game: "Hey, I only cheated because he was cheating. I cheated a cheater. What's wrong with that?" The kids never learn any aesop contradicting this.
    • This was also implied to be what Katara used to justify the use of Bloodbending — a technique explicitly played up to be terrible and bad and ultimate evil yadda yadda yadda — on a Fire Nation soldier because she thought he was the one who murdered her mother in cold blood. Only it wasn't him it turns out. Oops.
      • The episode which introduced bloodbending itself actually plays with this trope. The definitely-evil waterbender who created the technique forces Katara to learn it despite her hesitation about the moral consequences:
      Katara: I don't know if I want that kind of power...
      Hama: The choice is not yours. The power exists... and it's your duty to use the gifts you've been given to win this war. Katara, they tried to wipe us out, our entire culture...your mother!
    • Regarding "The Southern Raiders", Katara hunts down Yon Rha initially intending to kill him. She does not do so, but only because she decides he is a detestable, pathetic piece of work who is Not Worth Killing.
    • Similarly, in The Legend of Korra, "The Revelation" episode shows Amon Debending the Leaders of the gangs in the city. These people have used their bending to make the people fear them, and he's giving them what they deserve. Ultimately though, this is a subversion, and is really a Kick the Son of a Bitch, as he's willing to take the bending away from anyone for having it, regardless of whether they're good or evil. He debent the gangsters first so more people would see him as the good-guy and follow him.
  • Matrix, from the third and fourth seasons of ReBoot, tends towards this. Immediately after his age-up, he was a Type IV Anti-Hero who believed that all viruses should be eradicated. Later in the season, he cooled down a bit, even sparing Megabyte's life at the end.
  • In The Fairly OddParents!, Timmy eventually wishes Vicky was young enough for him to be her babysitter so he could get his revenge, doing the exact same kind of things she did to him to her. Now if Vicky had actually been the same person she was as an adult, it'd have been well deserved... but it feels awful because she's at an age where she wasn't evil and is just a poor five year old girl. This further backfires when Vicky gets Cosmo and Wanda due to how bad Timmy made her feel and uses them to take her own revenge on him. Ultimately, Timmy learns his Aesop and decides, before returning her to normal, to give her a great day.
  • The Simpsons seems considerably fond of this trope. "22 Short Films About Springfield" ends with a grown man Nelson made fun of pulling down Nelson's pants, ordering him to walk down the street with his pants down, telling everyone on the street that now is their chance to make fun of Nelson, and everyone in town pointing and laughing at him at the same time. And then Bart and Milhouse pour ketchup and mustard on Nelson's face. Although you can't really say they are doing it to punish Nelson or out of a sense of feeling morally superior to him. Just before that, they had been pouring ketchup and mustard on passing cars.
  • Miss Martian in season 2 of Young Justice gains a disturbing habit of mind raping her opponents to gain information, leaving them catatonic. While she justifies herself with this logic, it becomes harder to defend once it's revealed she tried to do something similar to her boyfriend Superboy, in order to make him forget that he had a problem with her behavior. And it proceeds to bite her in the ass hard in 2x10, when she lobotomizes Aqualad for killing Artemis, and in the process finds out that he is a Reverse Mole who faked Artemis' death to bring her undercover with him. She mindraped one of her closest friends, and most likely doomed Artemis' cover as well. Cue Heroic BSoD.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Putting Your Hoof Down", the episode involves Fluttershy smacking a bunch of jerkass ponies who attempted to take advantage of or abuse her. This is subverted in that Fluttershy's collision with the jerkass ponies she came across is considered a very bad thing. Her neighbors might have been unfair to her, yes. But her desire to get her assertiveness and her eagerness to fight back with others who push her around is portrayed as alarming nonetheless. Also, fans are expected to understand that her Unstoppable Rage is extremely disproportionate and results in her playing some serious Jerkass Ball.
    • However, there does seem to be some trace of this trope present. Her sticking up against Mr. Greenhooves is considered understandable while the sticking of the mailpony in the mailbox is not.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Anytime Meatwad gets his revenge on Master Shake counts as this. Whilst he can get pretty disturbing about it, it's kinda hard to feel sorry for Shake given the crap he puts Meatwad through.
  • In the Courage the Cowardly Dog episode "The Shadow of Courage", a nasty old rich guy has just fired his butler for saying he can't just buy the moon. Then the old man has a heart attack, and the butler just walks away whistling jauntily instead of answering his pleas for help, leaving his former employer for dead.
  • The Powerpuff Girls: In the episode "Gettin' Twiggy with It," when Mitch Mitchelson is allowed to take Twiggy, the class pet hamster, home for the weekend only to cruelly torture her; this leads to Twiggy getting mutated by radioactive waste after Mitch flushes her down the toilet, after which she promptly goes after Mitch for revenge. Having known that he would mistreat Twiggy and personally been there when he flushed her, the girls are so disgusted with Mitch that they're fully prepared to just let Twiggy eat him, even catching him and trying to personally throw him to her. When Mitch begs them for mercy, however, they opt instead to place him in a giant hamster wheel and have Twiggy chase him in an endless cycle.
  • South Park:
  • Mr. Pickles features an evil dog that brutally murders or captures and tortures bad people.
  • In the Steven Universe episode "Bismuth", Steven accidentally releases Bismuth, a Gem who was kept bubbled in the pocket dimension in Lion's mane. Bismuth seems friendly, and as the Crystal Gems' Ultimate Blacksmith provides a few upgrades to the team's equipment. But then Steven learns why Bismuth was bubbled in the first place: Bismuth wanted to use her new secret weapon, the Breaking Point, to shatter the Diamond Authority and anyone loyal to them. Since shattering is a Fate Worse than Death to Gems, Rose Quartz was against it, and the two came to blows. When Steven is naturally against the Breaking Point as well, Bismuth snaps and attacks him.

Alternative Title(s): Eye For An Eye, Pays Evil Unto Evil, Paying Evil Unto Evil


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