Follow TV Tropes


Protagonist-Centered Morality
aka: Protagonist Centred Morality

Go To
Wow, dropping a bowling ball-sized snowball from a tree on someone who's just minding her own business? Yeah, that's a very heroic thing for you to do.

"Hooray! The people whose names I know are saved!"
Elan (while an allosaurus eats dozens of unnamed mooks), The Order of the Stick

It's only natural for a writer to see things from the protagonists' Sympathetic Point of View. Due to their frequent role as narrators and Point of View characters, a protagonist's perspective tends to make an impression on the work more than any other character's—their thoughts will overlap with narration, their feelings will shape the setting, and their priorities will dictate the plot. The way events are treated will be colored by how they relate to the protagonist, the things they love, the people they care about. It's hard to imagine a story told otherwise, but then sometimes this point of view seems to spread like an inkblot and color the way everything behaves and thinks. The work lapses into Protagonist-Centered Morality — a state where, on some profound cosmic level, the very fabric of the fictional universe seems to be seeing things from the protagonist's point of view. Every single sympathetic character, the symbolism, the narration, judge characters as worthy of praise, condemnation or indifference depending on how much favor they carry with the "good guys". The protagonists themselves can seemingly do no wrong, and even if there's anyone at all who would beg to differ, they're obviously a bad guy.


Suppose, for example, there is a character who slaughters innocent villagers by the thousands, but once helped save the mother of the protagonist or some other character simply because he thought she was hot; said character will easily forgive this guy, buy him a drink, and may even invite him to join the team. Then there is another character who routinely saves orphans from burning buildings who once used his resultant fame to woo away the Love Interest of the character. They will be an object of scorn as apparently her choice didn't matter at all. This alone would just be portraying a flawed hero (or a hypocritical villain if the character is evil) — the final piece of the puzzle is that the narrative is in on the myopia. There will be no warning signs that the protagonist is being unfair to the hero who saved all these people. No one calls them out on how disrespectful they're being to the memory of thousands of the mass-murderer's victims. This will not come back to haunt them. The protagonist is essentially acting as though, in certain respects, it really is All About Them, and the narrator Author Tract might well be agreeing.


As always, tropes aren't bad. It can be a very effective tool: a savvy author will use it beneath several layers of fictional content and context to tempt their viewers to agree that the protagonist has made morally sound decisions while allowing subtlety to display that, in reality, they have not. Conversely, by exaggerating the trope, they may tempt viewers to disavow seemingly morally bankrupt decisions of the protagonist, then allow plot developments to suggest that they acted wisely. Viewers who discover these nuances can learn many important things about the integrity of their own moral compass, and thus benefit. The example used by the author of the page quote above posits intentional Values Dissonance, and it's used for comedy: in that context, he succeeds.

This may be a generator of both Designated Heroes and Designated Villains, if the audience notices that the character is being judged only by a narrow section of their activities. Villains who supposedly "redeem" themselves in this manner can be Karma Houdinis, although they don't have to be.

Unfortunately, it can make the protagonist hypocritical in that the main character does something bad and gets away with it, while the other characters do the same thing and get punished for it. If, in an attempt to justify this, the main character's recklessness ends up not hurting anyone due to circumstances beyond their control, it's Moral Luck.

A specific type of Moral Dissonance which can lead to Aesop Breakage. Often enabled by Psychological Projection. Compare A Million Is a Statistic, where a million deaths can be excused, but a single death of someone with a name and screentime cannot. Also compare Always Save the Girl, in which the protagonist puts the well-being of their love interest above everything else. Subtrope of Selective Enforcement and supertrope for What Measure Is a Mook?. See also Rule of Empathy. Contrast What the Hell, Hero?, where another character does call the protagonist out on their questionable behavior, Moral Myopia, where a character tries to invoke this but the narrative disagrees, and Hypocritical Humor, where a character's double standards are Played for Laughs.

NOTE: This is an in-universe trope. It only applies when the story ignores bad things done by the protagonist, or good things done by the antagonist. If the story presents a character as a clear hero or villain, but some fans ignore the facts, that's Misaimed Fandom, Ron the Death Eater or Draco in Leather Pants.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Inuyasha:
    • The entire narrative seems to very solidly take Kagome's side in the entire love triangle with herself, Inuyasha, and Kikyo, even in ways that don't really make any sense. One recurring theme is that other characters will reprimand Inuyasha for "cheating" on Kagome and hurting her feelings for speaking to or about Kikyo or what happened between them, despite the fact that the Big Bad turning them against each other and having Inuyasha sealed to a tree for 50 years would logically be the kind of thing you would understand trying to sort out to some extent. This attitude toward Inuyasha and Kikyo's relationship is present long before he and Kagome officially get together at the very end of the story and even before their relationship is anything remotely serious, so logically, talking to Kikyo wouldn't be cheating on Kagome anymore than talking to Kagome would be cheating on Kikyo.
    • To say nothing of the fact that Kagome frequently beats Inuyasha via the rosary around his neck whenever he annoys her in the slightest. While played for comedy, he is shown to both actively fear being "sat" and screams in pain whenever it happens. No one ever says a word in his defense over a protective measure being so abused like it is. As a matter of fact, his so called "friends" often chide him, either openly or to themselves, about how stupid he is for causing the beating in the first place. Forget being a beaten spouse, Inuyasha is more like an enslaved dog who is forced to act as muscle for a group that only values him when he acts in the manner in which they approve. A particularly horrifying example happens early on. To wit, Inuyasha was badly wounded in a battle with a Nigh-Immortal Yura of the hair. As he recuperates up in a tree all by himself, Kagome appears with a first aid kit. Now, despite knowing next to nothing about medical care at this point, Kagome demands that he come down so that she can care for him. When Inuyasha chooses to grumpily demand to be left alone, Kagome sits him. This yanks him out of the tree, and sends him plummeting ten, fifteen feet, before smashing him face first into the ground hard enough to leave an imprint. Think on this. Kagome slams a person who she believes to be seriously wounded into the earth with the force of a giant. Then she has the utter gall to LECTURE Inuyasha about how stupid and stubborn he is. To make matters worse, she is never, EVER called out on this.
    • The story seems to decide the morality of eating other people's souls to keep one's self alive based on whether the one doing the soul-eating knows the main characters. In Kikyo's second appearance, Inuyasha and Co. are trying to figure out who or what is stealing the souls of dying women and stop them. Once they find out it's Kikyo stealing the souls to keep herself alive though, the group and the story immediately stop caring and shift to focusing on the drama of the love triangle. Kikyo spends the rest of the series stealing and eating souls regularly and it doesn't raise a peep from anyone after this point. To further compound this, a filler episode had a young man and woman raised from the dead in a similar manner. The man was evil and killed but the woman had met Kagome who insisted she "give living a try" despite knowing the undead woman would have to eat souls in order to survive.
  • Code Geass: This trope was explicitly discussed and exploited in-universe by a minor character: Luciano Bradley, the Knight of Ten. Before his climactic fight with Kallen, he mentions that acts which might normally brand one as a mass murderer will instead be treated as those of a hero if they are done for the sake of one's country. When Kallen presses that Luciano wants to be a hero, he flat out says that he simply enjoys killing, and the good reputation is just a bonus.
  • Justified in One Piece. The protagonists are pirates, so they don't care if someone does bad things unless It's Personal. If someone makes their friend cry, he's a bad guy (Arlong, Crocodile etc.) but if a bad guy helps them (Buggy) they are grateful and no one mentions their evil deeds. On the other hand, they do understand that the marines are the good guys as often as the other way around, but they get hostile treatment because of their opposing standpoints. Essentially, Luffy and the Strawhats do not consider themselves heroes, they don't do things for the greater good. Luffy only cares about his friends, it just so happens that most of the time when he's helping a friend or one of his crew members, he's doing the greater good. And Luffy makes friends quite easily, so odds are very good that any villain he encounters will be a threat to one of Luffy's friends.
    • Humorously lampshaded when Luffy tells a civilian friend of theirs that he can't trust Aokiji because Aokiji is a Marine. After getting a confused look in response he remembers that Marines are the good guys (in theory, at least).
    • Surprisingly subverted with Crocodile. Luffy flat-out initially rejects breaking Crocodile out of prison, showing even he has his limits. He only does so because one of Luffy's new friends points out that they need his strength (and is able to blackmail Crocodile into compliance with a secret not yet known.)
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Jellal, while Brainwashed and Crazy, utterly destroys the lives of hundreds of people, but, as soon as he comes out of it with memory loss and apparently freed (and thereafter unleashes Nirvana because he originally intended to destroy it), the apparent need for him to atone lasts until he gives Natsu some magic fire to win, and everyone insists on fighting the people who come to arrest him at the end of the arc. Long since lucid, Jellal later in the manga decides to "rehabilitate" the recently prison-broken Oracion Seis—by forcing them to join his new guild and beating them into submission to accomplish it. No one except the people he's attacking (and not even all of those people) have a problem with this. Jellal is quite literally forcing the people he enslaved for years as a child back under his thumb, and this is hailed as an acceptable thing. Granted, part of the reason they were even freed was because Cobra put Doranbolt in a bind by having information about Tartaros, and there was nothing stopping the newly freed members from doing whatever the hell they wanted. Jellal offering them a place was seen as an acceptable compromise, and Jellal made it clear to them he had no intentions of throwing them into a prison (which was what they figured he was there for).
  • At the start of the second half of Magic Knight Rayearth, Umi comments on how the events of the end of the first half have left her unable to enjoy playing RPGs anymore. To paraphrase, "I'm the hero, but the antagonist sees me as the bad guy."
  • Early on in Pokémon: The Series Ash calls out Team Rocket for using a sludge attack that blinds Pikachu as fighting dirty. In only a few more episodes he'd fight a Cubone and find that electricity is ineffective, then tells Pikachu to bite, claw, and blind the Cubone to win and it's treated as thinking on his feet.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Antagonists who use manipulative mind-games are called dishonorable, ones who keep secrets are called liars, ones that go on the defensive are called cowards exposing their own weakness, and ones that use cheap tactics are called cheaters. When main characters do these things they're simply said to be using intelligent strategy. A particular example of this is characters "disrespecting their cards/deck." The definition of what this means can vary, but one of the most common manifestations is the character tributing or discarding cards en masse and expressing a We Have Reserves attitude. Examples include Ryo getting rid of most of his deck to block one attack in GX, or Rebecca destroying her own hand to power up Shadow Ghoul in a filler episode of Duel Monsters. The thing is, sacrificing cards to enable strategies or protect yourself is a hugely important part of the game, and the good guys can be seen doing it in almost every duel. This is especially prevalent after Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, where blowing through four of your own monsters to play one card becomes not a moment of callousness, but a clever execution of complex strategy. Really, the only difference seems to be that the "disrespect the deck" strategies tend to be fairly bad, with the sacrifices seemingly being rarely worth the resources spent. The ultimate problem is that "disrespect the deck" strategies are reckless, and as pointed out disrespectful; later strategies that involve sacrifice emphasize ech card playing a role rather than only being good to support a singular card.
  • Nobody ever considers the Dirty Pair to be evil in their own reality (and their constant claim that "It's not our fault!" is readily believed) despite the fact that they've committed planet-wide genocide multiple times. (A combination of this Trope and Crosses the Line Twice is needed here.)
  • Dragon Ball: In Dragon Ball Super. Vegeta is able to ultimately defeat Toppo (who had gone undergone a transformation to fully exploit his power as a God of Destruction), who decided to focus on the survival of his home universe rather than sticking to the ideals of justice that led him to hold back through the tournament. Jiren praises Vegeta for holding true to his pride and becoming victorious, while his ally Toppo earns his contempt by abandoning his ideals and still losing. This is meant to show Vegeta in a good light for sticking to his principles, but not only did Jiren do nothing to help his ally and increase the survival chances of his universe, Toppo would have lost without tapping into his full powers, and he's not a protagonist with the ability to increase his power on a whim; his already-gained power is all that he has available.
  • In Reign: The Conqueror, everything that Alexander and his allies do, no matter how cruel or unethical, is excused on the basis that Alexander is a "god" who will usher in a new era.
  • Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts:
    • The delinquent couple mock Shouko for her "stupid dream" of becoming Yuuji's bride in the future. Everyone, including Yuuji himself, comes to her defense and gets pissed off at them for how horrible it was for them to say something like that to her (and he decides to beat them up for it as well). The problem is, Shouko daily inflicts violence on Yuuji that stretches well beyond Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male territory into the downright criminal. Apparently, being a torturous, psychotic Yandere is okay if you're one of the protagonists, but verbally knocking her down a peg is not.
    • Kyoji Nemoto getting his hands on Mizuki's love letter and using it to blackmail her in order to get her out of the class battle makes him a cheating scumbag, and the protagonists continue to believe he only did it because he had something personal against her or was a misogynist, even though he makes it clear it had nothing to do with either of those things and was just trying to get her out of the way so his class could win, considering she's basically the only reason why Class F keeps winning so much. The story agrees with them; not only is Nemoto soundly defeated, he's subjected to various humiliations for it which quickly become disproportionate. When Miharu uses a compromising photo to blackmail the two main boys, which gets them ostracized and beat up by the entire female enrollment of the school, nothing bad happens to her, even when she's found out, and her own misandry is never brought up, even though Nemoto is called a misogynist just because the target of his blackmail happened to be a girl.
    • The Tokonatsu duo had a very legitimate gripe with Aki and Yuuji; when they ate at class F's cafe during the school festival, Yuuji was completely rude to them, served them Mizuki's cooking despite knowing full well that it wasn't safe for human consumption, and beat them up when they complained. When they attempt to get one back on the boys for ruining something they paid for, everyone views them as assholes, although at worst they're just being petty, which is no worse than Yuuji seemingly going out of his way just to pick a fight with them.
  • Black Bullet: Because in the world of this novel series, Humans Are Bastards and Cursed Children are always innocent victims, any time a human opposes the protagonists, they are always wrong even if they have good points. For instance, Tina Sprout is sent to kill Seitenshi, and nearly does before Rentaro manages to stop her. Keep in mind that attempted assassination of what is basically the leader of a nation is an extremely serious crime no matter where in the world you are, but she gets let off the hook by Seitenshi herself because Rentaro and Enju had befriended her the day before. When the leader of Seitenshi's royal guard, pissed off at her clemency, attempts to take matters into his own hands and execute Tina for her crime, Rentaro shoots his finger off and Seitenshi permanently banishes him from the city. He gets permanently maimed and sentenced to death in all but name just for attempting to uphold the law, you know, like his damn job, while Tina never faces any sort of punishment for her attempted murder.
  • Toradora!: Sumire Kanou's public rejection of Yuusaku is considered such a Jerkass move that Taiga jumps her afterwards, and we're supposed to view every second of it as justified way to stick up for her friend. Apparently someone forgot to remind her that not only is their relationship not any of her business in the first place, but at the start of the series she was shown to take delight in rejecting anyone who asked her out, which was entirely Played for Laughs.
  • KonoSuba: Many monsters are assumed to be Always Chaotic Evil when they're usually either minding their own business or reacting to something the protagonists did. When a demon knight attacks the First Town, the protagonists assume it's just another random act of cruelty...except the only reason he's attacking is because Megumin decided to practice explosion magic on his home, unprovoked. The protagonists ignore his very legitimate gripe, defeat him, and play hackysack with his decapitated head. Of course, this being Konosuba, it's entirely possible this occurrence of Protagonist Centered Morality is Played for Laughs as much as any other.
  • Masamune-kun's Revenge tries its hardest to paint Kanetsugu as a deceitful Jerkass for trying to seduce Aki because she's wealthy and he (well, she, actually) needs the money, even though Masamune is lying to and seducing Aki as well, just so he can publicly humiliate her for an incident that happened back when they were children (and one that she wasn't even responsible for, at that). Considering that Kanetsugu needs the money for her sickly younger sister, hardly any reasonable person could say what he's doing is somehow worse than what Masamune's been doing the whole story.
  • Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens: Some of the protagonists check the boxes on another's hit list quite neatly. Banba's personal mission is to seek out and kill hitmen and mass murderers (like Lin and the Avengers), and the Avengers are determined to kill anyone who has committed a crime and escaped punishment for it (of which Banba and Lin have both done many times). But they don't lay a hand on each other because they're all friends, even though they show no qualms about murdering (and in some cases torturing) anyone who runs afoul of them.
  • Wortenia Senki is particularly egregious in this. Good and evil basically boils down to "will it help Mokishiba or hurt him?". At the start of the story, he kills members of a "gang" wearing red bandannas that are well-known kidnappers, murderers and rapists, albeit in self-defense after they attack him and try to rape a couple of war-slaves he came across because said war slaves had magic spells on them keeping them from defending themselves. Some time later, he allies himself with this same band to use them as soldiers while fighting off the Ortomea army... knowing full well how they'd treat any villages they came across. In addition, before using the Red Bandanna "gang," he was propositioned by a pirate fleet under similar terms. The pirate fleet was utterly exterminated despite having no difference from the red bandanna gang. Mikoshiba's explanation? Having the pirates as allies would destroy the morale of his Child Soldiers.... whom Mikoshiba purchased from a slaver for the express purpose of putting them through The Spartan Way. At no point in this does he stop being the hero.
  • In Goddess Creation System the Wang Pu siblings get portrayed as sympathetic characters after their initial murdery introduction. They're concerned about each other, honorable and so on. However, the story does remind the reader every now and then they're also bastards who execute their servants for things way outside their control.
  • In Akuyaku Reijo ni Koi wo Shite, the "good" and "bad" of the story is almost entirely decided by Rion, a Misanthrope Supreme anti-hero who rightly hates the world he's been reincarnated into, since that world has a will of its own and seems to enjoy his suffering, or at least taking everything he cares for away from him, if not both. Fortunately, his judgement tends to be right far more often than not.
  • In Spice and Wolf, Lawrence claims to be a man of principle unlike other merchants, but it's shown that he and Holo are perfectly willing to engage in shady behavior such as extortion, Honey Trapping a rival merchant who is in love with Holo, and interrogating another merchant at knife point. Despite this, the story and other characters seem to genuinely believe that Lawrence is as principled as he claims and shrug off any mention of any morally dubious deeds, or justify them by saying that the others did it first. Meanwhile, whenever other merchants do these things, they are treated as cowardly and acts of wanton cruelty.
  • Dr. Stone: During the tournament to determine the Ishigami Village's next chief, Magma's henchman Mantle attempts to throw rocks at Kinro from the sidelines during his fight with Magma. Chrome calls him out on attempting to cheat, and clearly the audience is supposed to view him as being a dirty cheat since he's an unpleasant Card-Carrying Villain who kidnapped Suika to get her out of the way. However, Senku and friends cheat their asses off to beat Magma: Kinro uses Suika's mask to fix his vision problems and get the advantage, and later on, Chrome uses the lenses on the very same mask to light Magma's clothing on fire while Gen uses a mind trick to keep Magma in place long enough for Chrome to do it. Even though none of the things that the protagonists do are illegal thanks to the village's very narrow rule on what constitutes interference, they're very clearly fighting dirty. Similarly, Magma's Wounded Gazelle Gambit that he uses to beat Kinro is viewed as stooping to lows and clearly dirty—even though he was only put in the position to do that thanks to Senku and company playing dirty in the first place.
  • One-Punch Man: Deconstructed as this is practically a plot point of being one of Garou's motivations of becoming an all-powerful monster, since he perceives the so-called "justice" that heroes are known to dispense against evil are no more than them committing the same evil actions but is instead, praised and glorified by others In-Universe since they're popular and therefore in the right. In his own words:
    The popular will win, the hated will lose, it's such a tragedy. Then I won't lose to anyone. I will become the strongest monster ever and change this scenario.
  • Infinite Dendrogram: Player Killing that's not done in self-defense is considered to be one of the worst things in the world of Infinite Dendrogram by both the protagonists and the rest of the game community, and the PKers themselves are considered Acceptable Targets for high-level players to go hunt and kill in ridiculously over-the-top and gruesome ways. Ray spends a good four novels wanting to get his revenge on the Superior Killer who took him out, but when their true identity is revealed as Marie, who he had befriended prior, he still continues to view her as a friend and doesn't retaliate—mercy he never showed toward any other player killer. Befriending someone makes it a lot harder to do something bad to them, especially when it takes away from the dehumanizing factor of destroying 'an enemy' over 'a person.' Likewise, Ray attempts to kill Franklin for pranking him with a potion that causes him to grow animal ears, and it's played entirely for comedy—and keep in mind that this was long before Franklin was revealed to be the Big Bad.
  • Justified in SSS-Class Suicide Hunter because the Tower where protagonist Kim Gongja lives is a kill or be killed hellhole and the people he wants to kill are psychotic assholes. Especially Flame Emperor Yoo Sooha who happily uses arson to cover up his murders and then shows up on the scene, faking innocence, and then demands a reward before he'll consider putting out the fire he started!
  • Very justified in The Weakest Tamer as the protagonist is a sweet, sensitive 8-year-old girl whose only "crime" is wanting to live after being found to have a [Tamer] skill with no stars. People who are good to her tend to be decent and kind while people who try to harm her are obvious scum.
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: The priests making the orphans in the temples's orphanage rely on handouts and begging all while preventing them from going to the forest to scavenge food themselves is condemned as horrible by Myne. Her solution is to get the orphans clothes in which they can go out to the forest and start a paper-making workshop to generate money that allows them to buy even more food and supplies, but that changes the system into one where, at least on paper, the orphans have to work for their meals. While this is portrayed as much more benevolent by the narrative because it makes the orphans develop good character and allows them get more food overall, it doesn't change the fact that they're working for Myne to be able to eat while the other priests were condemned as cruel for properly feeding only the orphans they took on as attendants all while literally leaving the others with their table scraps. That incident is keeping with the overall narrative, as Myne's social climbing comes with the situations in which she is the antagonistic figure increasing in number.
  • The main characters in Two As One Princesses are two souls inhabiting the body of a 10-year-old girl that's been through hell, since infancy, who just wants to escape the country so she can live quietly. Since Humans Are Bastards is in full display, people who help her can be tolerated, at worst, while people who oppose her are clearly scum in one way or another.
  • The Rising of the Shield Hero deconstructs it by showing that the phrase "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" exists for a damn good reason. Naofumi plays by the rules of this new world, especially the part about slavery being legal, and prospers in spite of all the crap he's put through. Ren, Itsuki, and especially Motoyatsu -who fervently insists that Naofumi is an Asshole Victim and deserves all his suffering and more beyond all reason- continue to stubbornly cling to their own internal compass and ignore all empirical evidence of how their mindset is completely wrong. Despite having every possible advantage, they cause one disaster after another, refusing to learn their lesson, until they get knocked off their high-horse by a low-bridge known as the Spirit Turtle. At this point, when the reality finally hits them, Ren goes into abject poverty, and can't even touch anything of value, Itsuki becomes an empty shell, and Motoyasu not only falls into a depression, but comes out the other side incurably insane.
  • Hypnosis Mic has an early scene where Ichiro lectures the Villain of the Week (a robber who has taken hostages) about the error of his ways, finishing up by telling him that Mics aren't made for hurting people. This is immediately followed by Ichiro and his brothers using their Mics to hurt the robber so badly that the police have to take his unconscious body out on a stretcher.
  • In Wave, Listen to Me!, main character Minare spends the first few chapters wanting to kill her ex-boyfriend Mitsuo for allegedly running off with her money, but when they meet again she's shocked to see that he's apparently turned over a new leaf after being nearly killed by a crazy stalker, and attempts to pay her back. She doesn't know how to reconcile her anger with him and his apparent change of heart—until she finds a cookbook and the remains of his favorite food in the garbage can, which is all the evidence she needs to conclude that the stalker was another girlfriend he stole from and whose money he was trying to give to her, declare him irredeemable and beat the crap out of him. Even though much later, after having time to cool down, she comes to the entirely sensible conclusion that he was learning how to cook, got frustrated when it wasn't going well, and threw the cookbook out, the reader is still supposed to view her beatdown as something that Mitsuo had coming for what he did to Minare...which the reader only knows about from her account of things, and Minare isn't exactly an objective beacon of truth herself.
  • Banished from the Hero's Party: Albert and Godwin are two minor villains who end up imprisoned at the end of the first major arc for their parts in the drug-dealing ring that was run by the Thieves' Guild and the plot to use said drug to also cause chaos. Later on, both are broken out of jail, but because they both help Gideon in his fight against Ares, he and the other protagonists leave them be from then on, even though both are still fugitives. While it's more understandable with Albert, since he was manipulated into his evil deeds, Godwin doesn't even promise the protagonists that he'll stop making drugs.

    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who often uses this trope, particularly in one Story Arc that pits the Eighth Doctor against the Monk. Simply put, the Doctor can't force his friends to sacrifice their lives, even if it would save thousands, whereas the Monk would gladly murder one person if it would prevent an entire planet from being destroyed. Of course the Doctor gets the moral victory, albeit at great personal cost. Other stories and arcs explore the idea further, but no matter how much Grey-and-Gray Morality comes into play, the Doctor typically comes out as a hero because he's, well, the hero.

    Comic Books 
  • In Neozoic the Protagonist Lillin, an extremely competent dinosaur killer, captured (sorry, "saved") a little girl and smuggled her into fort Monanti in explicit disregard of the Laws- and by this she managed to cause the fall of the city by a horde of dinosaurs and a conquering force, the death of thousands, the foundation of a proto-mind slavery ring, the murder of her sister at the hands of a Dinosaur and the crippling of her Mentor. When everyone finds out about her deeds... she is lauded as the savior of the city because she managed to kill the Leader of the conquering force. Apparently if you retake a city and kill the bad guy all the consequences of your actions are forgiven no matter how horrific they may be.
  • Newspaper Comic Minimum Security has a really bad case of this. Either you're with Kranti and killing 99% of humanity is the ONLY way to save the earth or you're doing just a poser who does ineffective things like recycling and peacefully protesting (everyone knows that riots get headlines! Or free trips to secret detention camps), or you're The Man and actively trying to destroy the planet and oppress people.
  • Played for laughs by Sam & Max. They may or may not get the job done, and they may or may not use ethically questionable methods to do so, but they're the title characters, so whatever they do is just fine. This carries over into the video games as well.
  • X-Men:
    • Wolverine in general, concerning his rivalry with Cyclops. Initially he was a rebel who often got himself into trouble and had to learn to respect Cyclops' leadership, but as fans of his got promoted into being his writers, his problems with Cyke grew to the point where he's shunned him and took leadership of the 'real' X-Men team. We're supposed to take Wolverine's side in their arguments, given he usually gets the last word in and he is seen as 'the good guy', despite him instigating most of their arguments, and that had they gone with his idea everything would have been screwed. In Schism, when Cyclops argues they stand and fight while he wants to run away to protect the younger students, he starts a physical fight that wastes time until the Sentinel is there, and he continues the fight while also fighting off the Sentinel, before eventually going with Cyclops' plan, which ends up being the right call. He splits the X-Men, and again we're supposed to agree with him. In Avengers vs. X-Men, the spiritual follow-up, the entire incident could have been avoided had he not bad-mouthed Cyclops to Captain America, and later he suggests the idea of killing Hope Summers (you know, the girl who can repopulate his race?!) to end the Phoenix threat, which later turns out to have been a terrible idea that nobody else supported. Despite that, he ends up on the side of angels while Cyclops is arrested for terrorism.
      • This hit its peak when, during the Battle of the Atom crossover, Wolverine calls out Cyke for killing Charles Xavier. Never mind that Cyke was possessed by a cosmic force and killed Xavier in self defense – Wolverine kills all the time! Cyclops calls him out on the hypocrisy, pointing out that Cyclops has killed one person, while Wolverine has killed many. How does Wolverine respond? "You killed the only one that matters." That is a direct quote. Note that at the time, Northstar was on his team, a character who, a few years ago, Wolverine had killed while brainwashed, essentially the same circumstances that Cyclops was under when he killed Xavier. No one points this out, not even Northstar himself.
      • A better rationalisation for this was presented in one of the A+X team-up books that followed Avengers vs X-Men, when Cyclops and Wolverine were reluctantly forced to work together. Afterwards, Wolverine explained his main problem was not so much what Cyclops did (though he definitely had a problem with that), but that he felt Cyclops was refusing to take responsibility for it - which at least makes some degree of sense.
    • The way the X-Men respond to anyone who attempts to cure mutants smacks heavily of this trope. The X-Men, by and large, are all incredibly good looking (except for Beast and Nightcrawler - though he's still generally drawn as a male version of a Cute Monster Girl) and have powers that are mostly cool and easy to control (Cyclops and Rogue being the two obvious exceptions). Anyone who ever tries to find a way to cure mutants is 100% always a villain who needs to be stopped. There really isn't any consideration for the mutants who got the shit-end of the Superpower Lottery and ended up with something like perpetual flatulence or being really ugly and therefore would benefit from a way to live a normal human life.
  • Wanted deconstructs this in a rather interesting way. The protagonist Wesley Gibson starts out as an almost comically gutless, whiny loser before he is introduced into the world of supervillains. As part of his Took a Level in Badass act, he instead becomes a sadistic, depraved mass-murdering monster through an inversion of The Hero's Journey-type of story arc, while the reader is forced to side with him due to the Villain Protagonist perspective and Evil Versus Evil morality. In reality Wesley's enemies are barely worse than him, and the comic ends with Wesley becoming one of the five supervillain overlords of the planet, his journey to power, wealth and evil completed. Any readers who at this point were still rooting for the guy as an Anti-Hero badass despite his depravities are soon reminded how bad he is when he turns to the reader, calls them out on supporting him, and then rapes you. Don't forget, he's the villain.
  • The way Batman treats Catwoman in comparison to how he deals with every other thief in Gotham. While a lot of people think of Catwoman as primarily being an Anti-Hero, the fact is that there are many stories where Catwoman is out for herself. But even when she's not helping him, Batman usually doesn't seem too concerned with catching her. And the people Catwoman steals from? Well, apparently they don't matter. We're meant to feel that he does it because he sees the potential for good in her—but it's impossible to not feel that he wouldn't be so lenient with her if he didn't have the hots for her. He does have his limits, though. In DC Rebirth, he captures Catwoman and turns her over to the police after she kills 237 members of a terrorist cell that had bombed the orphanage she grew up in. He's clearly not happy about it, but says she left him no choice this time. However, it is revealed that Catwoman, as in Selina Kyle, actually took the blame for her protege, Holly, who killed all the members of said terrorist cell. This is revealed when Bruce and Selina track her down; she has been hiding with Talia.
  • Catwoman's Marvel counterpart Black Cat also receives this alot. While initially a villain, Black Cat eventually transitioned into being a Karmic Thief, and while Spider-Man was bothered by this aspect of her life, he never bothered to turn her in because of their complicated relationship. This gets turned on its head and deconstructed in the pages of Superior Spider-Man: Otto Octavius who has none of Peter's history or personal bias towards Black Cat, brutally turns her over to the authorities.
  • Superior Spider-Man has this towards the titular character. Otto steals the body and identity of Spider-Man in order to escape punishment, murders people while operating as the hero, and engages in a relationship with two women, one of whom being long time love interest Mary Jane Watson, which borders on sexual assault, but none of this is ever brought up in order to condemn the character, and instead the entire narrative is devoted to Otto's supposed "Redemption." The rationale being that Otto did good things as Spider-Man, and is a good man deep down, which ignores the fact that the story itself shows that the only reason Otto continued to fight crime was to continue his cover and to overshadow Peter's legacy as Spider-Man.
  • Archie LeBrock of Grandville apparently only cares what happens to you if he's personally well-acquainted with you. So, while he might lose a lot of sleep and become a nervous wreck over the death of Sarah, whom he slept with and was protecting, he doesn't shed a tear over the fact that he gets lots of other people killed indirectly (sometimes just by talking to them), besides the horrifically brutal tortures and murders he inflicts on both goon squads and innocent policemen alike. Strangely, the only person he personally calls "evil" he actually seems to respect and speak to almost affectionately in a "Why did it have to be like this?" fashion as she dies.
  • Tales of the Jedi: Empress Teta, military dictator of the Koros system and anti-Sith crusader par excellence. She's supposed to be one of the good guys, but there are worrying little things in her portrayal. Like how the POWs from her victorious wars of unification for the greater good are still in hard labor camps a decade after the last war ended. Or how the system is renamed the Empress Teta System afterwards. Not to mention conquering other planets in wars which must have killed millions to begin with. which are explicitly described as quite brutal. The heroes don't seem to care since she's on their side. Granted, her enemies, being Sith, are very much worse.
  • Strange Adventures (2020) thoroughly deconstructs this idea as part of its plot — Adam Strange is generally known as a wholesome, pulpy space hero who fights off alien hordes in the name of his beloved planet, but characters in-universe begin to directly challenge whether or not his acts against the Pykkt invaders in the name of Rann were war crimes. The series takes time to contrast the nature of stories biased towards the victorious "heroes" against the objective narratives shared by others around them, and why the degree that one would lie about past actions isn't rooted in a simple matter of good vs. evil.

    Fan Works 
  • In general, fanfics that are guilty of Ron the Death Eater or Die for Our Ship tend to do this. While one character is transformed into an unsympathetic caricature of themselves (if they're lucky), the main character and others will shun, mock, and shame them for every action or inaction they perform, while their love rival can treat them like crap, usually acting worse than the other character is shown doing but treated as if they're the symbol of morality.
  • In The Ariana Black Series:
    • Ariana's nemesis, Maria, becomes Gryffindor's new Seeker after Harry graduates. During one game, she—wait for it—dodges a Bludger so that it hits a Slytherin friend of Ariana's instead! This is treated as so bad that even one member of Maria's Girl Posse turns against her. Granted, the kid was injured, but treating this as some sort of horrible act kind of ignores the point of Bludgers—you dodge them and try to get them to hit your opponents instead. Apparently, Maria was expected to suck it up and take one for the (other) team.
    • Generally in the series, Ariana using her "Empath powers" to assault Maria (or Draco, occasionally), never has any repercussions, teachers never find out and punish her for it and her friends always act like she did something awesome, but when Maria and her friends hit Ariana with a spell that causes Ariana to have an allergic reaction, they get four months detention, letters home and are banned from Hogsmeade for the rest of the year.
  • In the fanfic Betrayal Brings Out the Best in Us, Harley uses a move Destiny Bond against May's Pokemon Manaphy, and it is treated as if Harley is a Dirty Coward who uses dirty moves when it is a legitimate strategy. He even gets assaulted by Ash with no repercussions.
  • Discussed and analysed to a greater extent than canon in the Twilight fic Bonne Foi; where Bella was shown easily accepting how even some of their vampire allies fed on humans in canon, one chapter focuses on her dealing with her own guilt about how she can accept Edward’s recent victims because he wouldn’t be with her if he hadn’t killed them.
  • But You Gotta Get Up At Least Once More explores this from an outsider's point of view. Ochako's attempts to investigate what happened between Katsuki and Izuku are well-intentioned, but since she barely knows Izuku here, she sees nothing wrong with constantly harassing him, pushing and prodding for answers. To make matters worse, when she finally drags the truth out of him, her first instinct is to reject it because it's hard for her to accept the notion that her friend has constantly abused Izuku for years.
  • Child of the Storm discusses and deconstructs this with the Avengers, who are repeatedly noted to be a group of heroes who have rules of engagement while on duty, to capture, not kill. However, it is also repeatedly noted and demonstrated that they are capable of being incredibly ruthless, tend to accept no authority but their own, and verge on Revenge Before Reason (Loki, Reformed, but Not Tamed, is the go-to man for interrogation, and at one points methodically murders the entire Red Room - who, granted, made HYDRA look soft and cuddly). The narrative points out how this led to a good proportion of the crises of the first two books, directly and indirectly, starting with Lucius Malfoy's HYDRA, which formed because Malfoy (among others) was afraid of Thor/James Potter taking revenge, was far deadlier than its predecessors and, allied with Gravemoss (Ax-Crazy Omnicidal Maniac and necromancer), briefly took over the world and nearly destroyed the universe. Separately, Doctor Doom, a toned down version of his canon counterpart (who is still a ruthless dictator, albeit a benevolent one), is presented as being justified in his wariness of the Avengers' potentially deciding one day just to depose him because they don't like him.
  • In Christian Humber Reloaded, Vash kills a hunter after setting off a trap, which breaks on his leg without harming him, and we are apparently supposed to think this is acceptable (the hypocrisy of him doing this despite having set off the trap while hunting is lampshaded in Normalman's webcomic adaptation notes). His actions get worse from there, including killing a girl and everyone related to her for reporting him to the police, and killing all 6 million people at the Super Bowl to show the cops what it means to fight him. The author treats most of Vash's killings as justified, and when the villains commit comparable or even lesser crimes, they're quickly killed, often by Vash himself.
  • The Conversion Bureau and many of its spinoffs sees the ponies forcing humans to either lose their personalities and all other aspects of their selves in the conversion process... or die violently. The ponies are the protagonists. In any other story they'd be utter monsters. Likewise, some stories show the humans as evil simply because they didn't want to convert or they dared to defend themselves against the ponies.
  • In the world of Cori Falls's fanfiction, the quickest way to gauge if someone's a good person is whether or not they agree with the morals of the protagonists. If you don't think Rex Raptor did the right thing or that Jessie and James's actions weren't justifiable, you're clearly evil. What's really ironic about this is that she accused the Pokemon anime canon of doing this with Ash, despite this clearly not being the case.
  • Dangan Ronpa: Assassinating Friendship: Hope Springs Eternal delves into the thoughts of someone observing the mutual killing game, who seems to subscribe to this. Out of all the survivors, the only one they really dislike is Hijirihara, as they lament how they killed somebody they considered to be perfect main character material. This is despite the fact that said would-be protagonist had one of the highest body counts out of all the participants.
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, after Android #17 survives Piccolo's Hellzone Grenade attack, he complains about how Piccolo's attempt to kill Goku was all fine and dandy but not theirs. Piccolo counters that when he did it, it was for revenge, but #17's doing it for shits and giggles. #17 counters, telling Piccolo that when his creator tells him to "kill Goku" over and over again in his subconscious for a few years, he can ride that high horse all he wants. Piccolo stops and just gets a major sense of nostalgia at that.
  • Fantasia Times: It doesn't matter what Andi, Sera, Scarlett, or their allies do — if you disagree with any of their actions or do anything to upset them, you deserve every last bit of abuse that will come your way.
  • For Better or For Worse (One Piece): As lampshaded with the title and by Luffy himself, much like in canon, he only cares for his friends, and his ultimate goal is to ensure their survival and happiness, for better or for worse. The fact that this includes stopping a massive war is incidental.
  • How I Became Yours:
  • I'm Here to Help:
    • Emerald's stated goal (to stop Crystal Tokyo's creation, to prevent its people from being brainwashed) is noble enough, but the fic gives virtually no evidence of brainwashing (life seems to go on perfectly normally, from what we hear of it), and his main reasons for not liking life in Crystal Tokyo boil down to that he thinks it's boring. The same goes for Pluto, at the end. The only reason she gives for having her timeline erased from existence — sending countless unsuspecting people and her own friends into Nothingness — is because Crystal Tokyo didn't turn out how she liked it. No specific reasons, just that.
    • After Serenity came to power, Emerald joined a group of rebels who tried to overthrow her. While their efforts were portrayed as heroic (if doomed to failure), none of them seemed to consider ever trying non-violent means of shaking Serenity's public support, instead opting to launch an incredibly brutal attack on her and her friends. Emerald decries the decreed fate of the rebellion's survivors — banishment from Earth — and hates that the senshi consider it magnanimous, except that sending them to live elsewhere is a pretty light sentence for trying to kill a ruler.
    • A later chapter has Jupiter and Mars discussing the last time they fought Emerald. They are portrayed as being unfeeling about attacking two children that Emerald brought as helpers, while it's ignored that Emerald was the one who brought the children along in the first place.
  • Deconstructed in Infinity Train: Knight of the Orange Lily. Unlike canon, Lillie's regard for her brother shatters after she realizes that he abandoned her for years, running off to secretly train Type: Null and play the hero who would save her from her trauma. The trauma that Faba had wanted to erase her memories of, but that Gladion completely remembered — but refused to warn anyone about, and actively tried to shield her from.
  • Deconstructed in The Karma of Lies: This is how Adrien believes the world works. Not simply because he's a Lonely Rich Kid whose views are heavily influenced by the media he's consumed, but because he's used to being shielded from the long-term consequences of his actions. As a result, he shows a stunning Lack of Empathy for others; as long as he's not directly effected by things like Lila conning their classmates, Chloe's bullying, or Hawkmoth terrorizing Paris, he simply doesn't care about it.
    • One of his biggest self-justifications for being The Load as Chat Noir is that his partner has the Miraculous Cure, which lets her restore everything destroyed by the akuma she purifies. Including bringing back anyone who was killed during the fight. Hence his willingness to let all of Paris drown during the Syren incident and senselessly sacrifice himself for 'bonus points'. After his father is exposed as Hawkmoth and arrested, Adrien even legitimately tries to argue that he shouldn't be charged for murder, terrorism, treason or anything else since the horrors inflicted by his akuma were magically erased.
    • Alya suffers from her belief in this as well. After Marinette breaks off their friendship with her and the rest of the class after how they effectively abandoned her, she's the loudest about how Mari needs to forgive them, even while also bragging about her intention to hold this over her head forever.
    • Recursive Fic Tales Of Karmic Lies Aftermath has Alya so convinced that she's meant to be a superheroine that she plots to steal a Miraculi from one of the actual heroes, completely ignoring that this would make her just like Hawkmoth and Mayura.
  • The Longest Road had a pretty bad case of this in Chapter 28. Ramping up the already problematic characterization of Erika in the anime, she's made out as the villain because she kicked Ash out of her Gym for not liking her perfumes. In turn, Ash outs her as a lesbian after finding out that LGBT people aren't allowed to be Gym Leaders, and he's portrayed as in the right for doing this. The author later rewrote the chapter to remove this element due to the resulting backlash.
  • This is at least part of the reason many people view the Order of the Chief God from Monster Girl Encyclopedia as being better than the Demon Lord and her followers - while retcons have made her more sympathetic and the Order more totalitarian, this doesn't excuse the fact her followers have turned people into monsters even when they didn't want to and, more importantly, allowed her daughter to commit mass Rape by Proxy on the people in the city, in some cases with pedophilia added into the mix. Additionally, the author states that DE (demonic energy) doesn't brainwash humans into wanting to have sex with others, but just removing their inhibitions toward sex. This still means sex under the influence of DE would be rape.
  • In My Huntsman Academia, Izuku ends up discussing this with Ozpin when the latter asks him if he'd be willing to kill someone like Adam Taurus if it meant saving lives. Izuku responds that he adheres to Thou Shalt Not Kill whenever possible because he doesn't feel it's right to act as judge, jury, and executioner. The moment a Hunter believes that they can kill anyone they please for being "like the Grimm" is the moment a Hunter stops being the protector they've sworn to be. Ozpin calls the response admirable, but naive, bringing Nana Shimura, the seventh holder of One For All, to mind.
  • In the Pokémon fanfic Pedestal, the protagonist breaks the main antagonist, a terrorist, out of jail. The morality of this is discussed surprisingly little in the fic compared to other issues.

    Films — Animated 
  • It shows up, believe it or not, in Disney's The Little Mermaid. Sebastian the crab, a major character, narrowly escapes Chef Louie, who kills and cooks fishes. The moment when Sebastian reaches safety is treated as the end of the matter; the fact that the other fish Louie still kills and cooks were clearly sentient is glossed over.
  • This trope is in full action in Vuk the Little Fox. Since the story focuses on Vuk, he is treated as a good guy, despite killing a lot of (apparently sentient) animals for food, and systematically destroying a man's property. At the same time, the hunter is treated as the Big Bad, even though he just kills foxes to protect his livestock. Justified, since Vuk would not survive otherwise.
  • Mentioned or implied in Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Vinny says the following: "...but nobody got hurt. OK, maybe somebody got hurt, but... nobody we knew." (Presumably as his reason for sticking up for the good guys this time.) This Sudden Principled Stand on his part, which Roarke calls out as inconsistent when Vinny backs out, was motivated by this particular job entailing several orders of magnitude more collateral damage than he could rationalise away.
  • Played for Laughs in The LEGO Movie. Batman reveals he stole the hyperdrive of the passing ship (the Millennium Falcon) so that the group could use it for their own ship. The very next scene shows the now-hyperdrive-less starship being eaten alive by a space slug.
  • The Emoji Movie heavily relies on this. The villain is treated as a despicable control freak despite the dangers posed by an emoji making more than one face. Meanwhile, the film glosses over everything bad that Gene does, even though he doesn't even offer an apology. Gene leaves Akiko Glitter to die with the trolls, can't hold a face without panicking, — and his adventure actually accelerates Alex's decision to erase all the phone data.
  • Played straight in Ralph Breaks the Internet, as in the first film, it's explicitly stated that game-jumping is bad and there are massive repercussions for Ralph when he temporarily abandons his game to get a medal proving he can be a good guy and the Big Bad of the first movie did the same thing, causing his game, Turbotime and the game he kept jumping into to be shut down for good. In the sequel, Vanellope wanting to abandon Sugar Rush and go to Slaughter Race because she's bored of winning all the time is framed like a natural part of her growing up and Ralph is the one who has to learn to let Vanellope go so she can do the thing he and Turbo got vilified for in the first movie.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A Central Theme in Team America: World Police (along with My Country, Right or Wrong). Team America are a squad of gung-ho Straw Conservatives who keep destroying other countries in their ham-fisted attempts to "stop terrorists", but in the end they are still better than genuine tyrants and dictators.
  • John Q. has this in spades. The protagonist's son needs a heart transplant but can't afford it. Clearly, the big bad insurance agent is evil for not paying for his son's surgery. So John holds an entire hospital emergency room hostage, threatens to kill people if his son doesn't get a heart, and causes terror. However, there are only so many hearts available for transplant in the world. By blackmailing others to get his son a heart, he stole it from someone else, effectively killing that person. Then his son had his heart transplanted last minute by a group unprepared for the surgery, which lowered the odds of the transplant working. So John gave his son a lower chance of success of surviving the surgery than the person he stole the heart from. Not to mention the whole holding people hostage and thus disrupting an emergency room, which nearly resulted in one person dying due to lack of proper treatment (he gets convicted of that at the end, but he's still treated as right).
  • Jonas from Twister. He's the bad guy because he 'stole' the idea for Dorothy (even though he helped invent it in the first place), got funding for his research, and was 'competing' with the heroes to launch his invention first. But the movie sets him up as evil because he's a jerk to the hero despite the fact that if he succeeded, his data could also save people from tornadoes. Furthermore, Bill walks up and punches Jonas for no reason while Jonas is talking with reporters. And Jonas's "jerk-ness" is him snidely saying "I really like your weather reports", sarcastically complimenting Bill on the job that Bill voluntarily quit tornado chasing to take!
  • The biographical film Michael Collins depicts the morality of the IRA's terrorist/guerrilla war against the UK largely in terms of what side Collins is on. When Collins is for revolution, revolution is the answer; when Collins decides that the revolution is over and turns his forces against those who want to keep the war going, that's that. The movie makes only half-hearted attempts at ambiguity, clearly basing itself on the audience siding with Collins.
  • Jumper is based on the audience siding with its Anti-Hero, who supports himself with crime enabled by his superpowers. We side with him because the organization who hunts down people with his powers are Knight Templars and will kill people who try to help him. The opening scenes have the protagonist ignoring a news story about hundreds of people whose lives are in danger due to a flood so that he can rob a bank and have lunch on top of the sphinx. Note that this is before he knew people wanted to kill him. Neither he nor the hundreds of other teleporters in the world have ever tried to use their powers for good.
  • In The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Sarah and Nick sabotage some mercenaries hired by the company who owns the dinosaurs. Granted, the team of mercenaries sent to capture the dinosaurs weren't using kid gloves, but the sabotage that the two of them did is directly or indirectly responsible for every human death in the film. Even after the mercenaries save the two of them from death, Nick uses it as an opportunity to sabotage Roland's gun. Apparently, killing a dinosaur is wrong even if it is rampaging through your camp and killing your men. And it wasn't as if nature was at stake. The dinosaurs were created in a lab and introduced in a time period that was unsuitable for them. The fact that they exist at all could be disastrous to the ecosystem. This was the entire point of the first movie and pounded home more in the Lost World book yet somehow, the filmmakers forgot all about that.
  • 300 is full of this, mostly due to the Unreliable Narrator. The Spartans are touted as a just and free society, even though they're shown in the movie to hurl imperfect babies off cliffs, kill messengers, and toss boys into the wilderness as a rite of passage. The sequel makes this explicit, with a few Athenians visiting the city and concluding the Spartans are just lunatics.
  • In Tyler Perry's movie Daddy's Little Girls, the protagonist Monty's ex-wife is dating a drug dealer and has taken the kids to live with her. After the custody hearing, Monty purposely hits his ex-wife and her boyfriend Joseph's car and then opens the door and beats up a dizzy and confused Joseph. At Joseph's trial, the entire neighborhood willingly testifies against him for the drug charges (after years of silence), but keeps their mouths shut when Monty is accused of assaulting him.
  • At the end of Finding Forrester, William Forrester stands up for his protege Jamal against the bitter English teacher that had a grudge against him. But the film seems to forget the fact that the reason that Professor Crawford was bitter was because Forrester had fraudulently scuttled the man's dreams 20 years earlier by falsely alluding to a non-existent second book, just to encourage publishers not to work with him. Also, Crawford's negative attention on Jamal is because Jamal actually did plagiarize the work that he's being accused of plagiarizing, and Forrester had specifically told Jamal not to use any of his work. Crawford may be a jerk, but he's justified in his actions.
  • In On Deadly Ground an oil executive pressures his crews to find oil before the exploration permit expires, even if it means harming the environment or ignoring safety regulations. When protesters and employees complain, he hires some paramilitaries to harass troublemakers. When the paramilitaries kill an employee, clearly they are villains. But does this justify destroying the exploration site and presumably causing multiple deaths and millions of dollars in property and environmental damage? Apparently it does, for everyone, including the press, who give Steven Seagal a standing ovation.
  • The Absent-Minded Professor has the main protagonist stalking his jilted ex-fiancée, who wants nothing to do with him, and also terrorizing the man that she's now dating — a character, mind you, who hasn't really done anything that bad except currently be the main character's romantic rival.
  • Dean Walcott in Patch Adams is unambiguously presented as the film's villain because he tries to block the title character's graduation from medical school. This despite the fact that Patch frequently behaves immaturely in class, impersonates a third-year medical student so he can get in to see hospital patients, sneaks into patients' rooms late at night to bombard them with balloons, advocates a "laughter cures everything" approach to medicine that he never even attempts to prove with science, practices medicine out of his house without a license, steals supplies from a hospital, and gets some of the highest grades in school even though no one ever sees him studying (making it perfectly logical to suspect him of cheating). Worst of all, his methods directly lead to the murder of another med student. But of course, since he's the protagonist, anyone who doesn't think he would make a good doctor must be evil. The real Patch Adams was quite upset about this portrayal of his life, which was highly inaccurate. The Nostalgia Critic had a field day with this.
  • Jay-Jay Manners in High School U.S.A. is portrayed as the everyman good guy while the preppy Beau Middleton gets the bad guy treatment. Jay-Jay isn't entirely innocent. He crashes Beau's party and hits on Beau's girlfriend constantly, even kissing her in public, and in the sight of Beau, yet Jay-Jay is still supposed to be the good guy.
  • In Back to School, when the opposing college's diving team's divers are diving, Derek Lutz (played by Robert Downey, Jr.), a friend of the protagonist, uses a loud horn and a mirror to distract and disrupt the dives of the other team despite the other team not even having anything to do with the plot. They hadn't been established as being evil and hadn't done anything against the protagonist other than being on a different team and the outcome of the dive meet had nothing to do with the plot (the Jerk Jock character is on the protagonist's team!). This was played for laughs, with Melon's bodyguard telling Derek, "You're all right, kid," but the scene makes him look like a jerk and really should have gotten him kicked out of the stands.
  • The Fast and the Furious:
    • The first film has Dom Toretto's team stealing parts from truckers (endangering their victims via high-speed carjacking) to fund their street racing. The film plays this as understandable and justified.
    • The fourth film has the team rob another truck, and almost kill the driver (though not intentionally). The thing given focus is how Dom and Letty want to settle down and get away from this dangerous life.
    • The fifth film is all about this. The "heroes" drag a 10-ton vault through the streets of Rio, causing untold property damage (it smashes through a bank in the middle of the day). We're to believe every single cop in the city is on the take, and their deaths are justifiable. Let's add in that this whole thing started because the heroes betrayed their partners in stealing a bunch of cars from the DEA because they found out the "bad guys" were after one specific car all along.
  • The Ledge suffers greatly from this: the hero, Gavin, is an atheist who decides to seduce Shana, the wife of the antagonist Joe, who is a devout Christian. But up until that point, the only really bad thing Joe had done was feeling sorry for Gavin's "empty life without God" as well as feeling sorry for his gay roommate. Moreover, Gavin is also shown (and even admits to) using emotional manipulation on her in order to make her fall for him, and the whole justification Gavin uses for his actions is that he believes that Shana is too good for her deeply religious husband and thus Gavin appoints himself as her "savior" from an oppressive life.
  • Maleficent curses the newborn Aurora to fall into a coma on her sixteenth birthday, solely because she wanted to get revenge on Aurora's father. She also unblinkingly kills dozens if not hundreds of men during her reign of terror. Most of them were trying to kill her, sure, but they were Just Following Orders from their own tyrant king. A lot of that could have been avoided if she hadn't cursed Aurora in the first place. Still, all of that gets to be completely ignored at the end when she makes her Heel–Face Turn and gets to live Happily Ever After with Aurora's praise and respect.
  • In Let the Right One In, we're clearly meant to root for Eli and Oskar, despite the fact that the former spends the movie murdering perfectly innocent people, and the latter is perfectly okay with her doing so because she's nice to him, though Eli does get a little bit of leeway since she is literally dependent on doing so for survival.
  • Hanna, in The Reader, was personally responsible for killing hundreds of people, not to mention the fact that she sexually abused and manipulated a teenage boy. But we are supposed to sympathize with her simply because she's illiterate. Because, you know, you have to be literate to know that killing people is wrong.
  • In Accepted, we’re supposed to see Dean Van Horne as a tyrant and a raging conservative who wants to stop Bartleby and his friends from starting their own college. He’s kind of a jerk, but he is absolutely right when he points out that said college isn’t a college at all, as it lacks the basics: teachers, a curriculum, a library, and so forth. Also, Bartleby started said "college" simply because he didn’t have the guts to tell his parents that he hadn’t been accepted into a real college. But we’re supposed to side with him and be moved by his passionate speech at the end of the movie.
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel: In the 1982 Anthony Andrews version, Percy purposefully makes Marguerite's married life with him a living hell; he justifies this by his understandable belief that she murdered the Marquis de St. Cyr and his family, but since the Revolution there's this new thing called divorce, hey? Worse, once he's learned of Marguerite's innocence and reconciled with her, Percy still arranges his own fake execution to humiliate Chauvelin, which predictably devastates Marguerite. It would not have been surprising if she had committed suicide, turning his practical joke into a tragedy. Possibly justified by the Rule of Funny.
  • Zigzagged in Jupiter Ascending. Jupiter herself clearly wants to prevent the Earth from being harvested; but the Aegis crew, and in general anyone who helps her, are never shown to care one way or the other about the Earth. They're portrayed as heroic simply for protecting Jupiter's legal inheritance.
  • This gets subtly mocked in Saving Silverman when they're talking to their former coach, who's in prison because he'd (accidentally) killed a referee in a fit of rage.
    Wayne: So, Coach, how's your parole coming?
    Coach Norton: Not good. The victim's whiny family keeps complaining.
    J.D.: God! What is their problem?
  • At the end of Spider-Man 2, Mary Jane Watson ultimately decides to dump her would-be fiancé John Jameson in favor of being with Peter Parker right at their wedding. Apparently this is supposed to be a good thing since the One True Pairing of Spider-Man and Mary Jane have finally gotten together; but it ignores the fact that Mary Jane gently broke the news to her fiancé by leaving him at the altar.
  • Pitch Perfect: Bumper, the leader of the Treblemakers, is the closest thing the movie has to a villain. The Bellas' leader, Aubrey, is every bit as cruel, arrogant, selfish, and obnoxious as he is, but she's on the same team as the main character and he isn't, so the audience is supposed to root for her.
  • Find Me Guilty by Sidney Lumet is a Courtroom Drama about the 1980s RICO trial against the entire Lucchese Crime Family that ended in an acquittal after more than a year, in particular the antics of the already convicted Jackie DiNorscio (Vin Diesel), who represented himself at the trial after firing his previous lawyer. DiNorscio, despite being a repugnant, completely unapologetic lifelong gangster, is treated as an underdog Comedic Hero fighting against a corrupt system, while his opponent NY District Attorney Sean Kierney is a bonafide Jerkass despite his indictments against the Calabrese Family's numerous crimes (murder, racketeering, drug dealing, etc.) being absolutely correct. This is exacerbated because their crimes are never shown, only mentioned during the courtroom proceedings, making the mafioso come off like a bunch of well-dressed goofsters being maliciously targeted by the authorities. At one point Kierney, after becoming frustrated by them getting sympathy from the jury, denounces this in private, saying to his aides that they don't get what kind of people the defendants are. Some reviewers were also repelled, saying it was difficult to be happy with a movie that ends like this.
  • The Mummy: while the titular mummy is obviously the villain, the protagonists Evy, O'Connell and Jonathan constantly go around stealing things, which is presented as Kleptomaniac Hero; but when their rival Burns notices that Evy has his stolen tool kit O'Connell points a gun in his face to get him to back off, and Evy refuses to give the kit back. One can question why the American dig team is portrayed as the bad side, when the 'heroic' characters are doing the exact same things as them; essentially grave-robbing an ancient site, getting innocent local people killed (albeit accidentally) and refusing to listen to the warnings of the Medjai, all of which ends up releasing Imhotep and endangering the world.
  • In The Wizard Haley falsely claims that Putnam touched her breasts so security takes him away. But Haley is helping the heroes and Putnam is a sleazy bounty hunter so everything works out.
  • In Bean, Mr. Bean quite literally defaces a priceless piece of American art, replaces it with a poster and steals the original to boot, but ends up as a hero for it. The only other person aware of what he's done is David, who cannot say anything in protest because he would lose his job and possibly face a multi-million dollar lawsuit for negligence if anybody else found out.

  • The Baby-Sitters Club: In book #12, the girls get bitchy over Claudia spending time with a new friend and go as far as to short-sheet her bed, mess with her belongings, and leave her a series of nasty notes. But in the end, Claudia is the one who owes them an apology for "being a bad friend."
  • In the novel The Red Blazer Girls, a character who stalks the protagonists and is apparently in competition with them is described by one as "Pure evil!", although he actually turns out to be on their side, and they forgive him.
  • Subverted in Lazarillo De Tormes, when the title character (who has had a long string of abusive employers) works for a corrupt pardoner who treats him very well. Lazarillo knows, deep down, that the man is scum, but he's willing to overlook it because he's sharing in the benefits. This episode is one of the darkest parts of the novel's satire.
  • The heroes of Left Behind are often shown generally acting like unmitigated jackasses to anyone they meet, but those who insult or do them the slightest harm are quite literally condemned to Hell for it.
    • In this blog post, Fred "Slacktivist" Clark notes that the heroes seem more worried about the traffic jam they're stuck in (hindering them from reaching their comrades) than the news of the outbreak of World War III which preceded the traffic jam announcement.
    • Perhaps the neatest example comes early in Book 3. Chloe and Buck are in Chicago after the start of World War III. Their New York home has been destroyed and Chicago itself may be under attack. Loretta, an old woman who belonged to their church, offers to put them up in her house and the two (speaking outside of Loretta's presence) agree to accept this. Not even a page later, during the same conversation, they point out that if it came down to it, the church bomb shelter is too small for Loretta, with the implication that they would leave her to die in the fire.
    • A minor character actually calls them out on it at one point. An acquaintance of the minor character has been pretending to be on the side of the protagonists, but is actually running a kind of con game. They pull a reverse con on him and cheat him, and the minor character says something along the lines of "So, yeah, I don't think I can be your friend anymore. Yes, he was trying to cheat you too, but if you're serious about following the teachings of Christ, you're supposed to be better than him."
    • If there's anything that makes other Christians dislike the books, it's the fact that God is just as much prone to this trope as the human characters, because humans are fallible and so can be forgiven for screwing up. God has no excuse. When Nicolae Carpathia, the Anti-Christ and servant of Satan mass murders people, it's proof of how evil he is. When God unleashes the deadly plagues and natural disasters that actually kill more people than Carpathia does, however, it's a perfectly fine part of the divine plan of an all-loving God. Early in the book, Chloe calls God out on this, saying that no good God would cause the Rapture, and all the disastrous accidents that resulted from the various suddenly unmanned vehicles and infrastructure. She never gets a justification past 'God has his reasons', and the issue is never brought up again, even by the villains.
    • Making deals with the devil is always considered a pretty bad idea, even when you're not a Christian. But that doesn't stop both Rayford and Buck from working for Carpathia after being offered very impressive salaries and work environments. No, they don't accept these offers so that they can get closer to Carpathia in order to assassinate or spy on him. They just take the jobs because they're good jobs. When Hattie takes a job with Carpathia, not knowing that he's the Anti-Christ, they try to convince her to quit without trying to prove who Carpathia is. That she doesn't accept that the man who brought about world peace is evil, simply on Ray's word, and that she won't quit her incredibly good job as that man's personal assistant, is proof that she's deserving of the fires of Hell.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In the Legacy of the Force, when Jacen Solo turns to the dark side, he doesn't rack up nearly as much bad karma as Vader did — among other reasons, he didn't have nearly as long to do it in. But the second he kills Mara Jade-Skywalker, he's irredeemable. Luke can apparently forgive the deaths of hundreds of strangers -- at least a round dozen of which were innocent children — if his life gets saved at the end of it. But he can't forgive the murder of his wife. And we the readers weren't supposed to, either.
    • Luke forgiving Vader (and him getting to be a Force Ghost along with the not-evil Obi-Wan and Yoda) is something of a sore spot with a lot of writers. The original films had the luxury of Darth Vader's on-screen evil often being on a lesser scale than other villains (like Tarkin) or directed toward other bad guys. The expanded universe (and later the prequels), made this a lot more awkward by actually showing what gave Darth Vader his reputation. Some authors note that the rest of the galaxy still views Vader as nothing more than a mass-murdering monster, and Leia (who was tortured by Vader when she was nineteen) is portrayed as hating Vader for years afterwards and furious at Luke that he was so presumptuous as to forgive Vader on behalf of his millions of victims. Yet other writers still present this as unnecessarily holding onto hatred rather than a reasonable reaction to the top enforcer of a totalitarian dictatorship. Supposedly, the metaphysics of the Force are at play; a regular person can afford to hate, but a Force sensitive who indulges in hatred, no matter how justified, will fall to the dark side. Leia eventually makes peace with the idea that there was an Anakin Skywalker before there was a Vader.
  • One of the biggest complaints against the Twilight series is how Bella suffers no repercussions for treating others like crap.
    • Her friends from school who came around pretty much every day while she had her Heroic BSoD and seemed to genuinely care for her well-being? She just thought they were getting annoying; so did the author.
    • The "good" vampires appear not to have thought of using their immeasurable powers to save people's lives; they're more content to repeat high school for the umpteenth time and play baseball, and seem to be happy with their brethren slaughtering innocent people as long as they leave Bella alone. And Bella herself doesn't lift a finger to help anyone even when she knows they're as good as vampire food. This is shown clearly in Eclipse, where an army of uncontrollable newborn vampires is only four hours away from them destroying Seattle, but none of the Cullens or Bella even consider trying to stop them until they start to think the Seattle-based vampires might be coming for them next. Toward the beginning, they explicitly pass it off as Somebody Else's Problem.
    • Bella has a rather telling moment in Eclipse when the Cullens know a battle with a large group of hostile vampires is coming, and Bella finds out that vampires become a little stronger if they feed on human blood versus the Cullens' normal diet of animal blood. She realizes she's perfectly okay with condemning someone to death if it slightly improves the odds of her boyfriend surviving the battle. And by Breaking Dawn, the Cullens have agreed that they need backup if the Volturi are coming to get their murder on, so they call in every favor they have with the other vampires. Now, the Cullens have sworn to feed only on the blood of animals, these vampires have not, and yet the Cullens are happy to lend them their car to go hunting for humans (and vampires in the setting inevitably kill any human they feed on, unless they're turned) — just as long as Bella doesn't get hurt. Oh, and that they hunt outside Forks so people Bella knows won't die.
  • E. E. Smith's Lensman series exemplifies this. The actions of various protagonists are consistently applauded — including one man judge/jury/execution, destruction of entire planets/solar systems/civilizations, with or without noncombatants, various nasty means of underhanded (or overhanded) warfare, torture, mind rape, etc. It's stated in-story that only paragons of Incorruptible Pure Pureness can ever be Lensmen in the first place (and that the Arisians are actively weeding out those who fall short just before they actually get Lenses), but we do have to kind of take the author's word for it.
  • Discworld:
    • This trope is examined in The Last Hero by Vetinari who points out that most "heroic" acts would have anyone else hanged for wanton death and destruction, but since they are committed by a "hero" they are considered acceptable. Downplayed in that at least some of their stuff would be a case of Black-and-Gray Morality, such as Lord Hong.
    • See also Susan's revised retelling of "Jack and the Beanstalk" in Hogfather, which lampshades this trope:
      Susan: ...and then Jack chopped down the beanstalk, adding murder and ecological vandalism to the theft, enticement and trespass charges already mentioned, but he got away with it and lived happily ever after without so much as a guilty twinge about what he had done. Which proves that you can be excused anything if you're a hero, because no one asks inconvenient questions.
    • Lampshaded in Night Watch, in which young Sam points out to Vimes that in certain circumstances, Vimes is prepared to do things which are illegal or immoral (like knocking people unconscious before they can hit him). Vimes evades giving an explanation, and privately admits to himself that his main justification is "It's Me Doing It" — and that this is a pretty poor justification, especially because it's the one the people on the other side are using too (and he feels he could do worse if he let himself, but he doesn't). Also downplayed in that he's using it about the Elite Mooks of a corrupt, oppressive king, so there is some justification.
    • Played for Laughs in Reaper Man, where Miss Flitworth has no truck with the idea of moral relativism, because she was taught the difference between right and wrong. Death points out that the father who taught her this was an occasional smuggler.
      Miss Flitworth: There's nothing wrong with smuggling!
      Miss Flitworth: They don't count!
    • Both Magrat in Witches Abroad and the Senior Wrangler in The Science of Discworld 3 have used the phrase "It can't be bad if we're doing it. We're the good ones!" Their collegues have to point out that they've got cause and effect reversed there.
  • The House of Night series is seen and judged through Zoey's sense of Morality. Even in Tempted and Burned (when different POVS and Loads and Loads of Characters are introduced) and someone has a different opinion than Zoey's, they're considered to be having an OOC moment at best or they're automatically considered to be a horrible bitch and/or in cahoots with the Big Bad.
    • The majority of characters consider Loren Blake to be idealized because he was a young good-looking substitute professor and because Zoey was in love with him and Death Equals Redemption. He was also a sexual predator and a Manipulative Bastard. On top of that, he decided to toy with the feelings of the Big Bad... A serious case of Too Dumb to Live and Hoist by His Own Petard. He knew what the Big Bad wanted and why she wanted him to do it and went along with her plans with no remorse.
    • When Venus is introduced she has just recently regained her humanity but she is deemed a horrible bitch and possibly evil in the first chapter of Hunted, despite how Venus's personality is very close to that of Aphrodite. Why? Because she DARED to flirt with Erik in front of Zoey and hooked up with him when Zoey and Erik broke up. Zoey was telling herself that it was wrong to behave and think the way she did, didn't stop it anyway.
    • Zoey and her friends all call Aphrodite a "ho" for dating two guys, even though she began going out with the second one only sometime after the first one and is genuinely serious about him. Zoey, meanwhile, has dated/flirted with no less than four guys, and letting Heath continually lure her into feasting on his blood (which has strong sexual connotations in this universe), and she repeatedly calls herself out for being unable to settle on one guy. And yet when Erik calls her out on this in a later book, he's dismissed as just a jealous jerk by all her friends and we're clearly meant to disagree with her being a ho even when Aphrodite is supposed to be seen as one for less.
    • Raven Mockers are mindless creatures of Darkness and they should all be wiped out. Everybody agrees with the Kill 'Em All attitude and, as of Burned, around twenty Raven Mockers have been killed. Even the idea of giving them a burial is seen as strange. The only exception is Stevie Rae and when she raises valid points of What Measure Is a Non-Human? and If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him! not only does every character tell her she's wrong but she is suspected of secretly turning over to The Dark Side.
    • How is it okay for the Red Fledglings that haven't "Chosen" yet to be running around killing people? Even after Stevie Rae gives them multiple chances to choose, and they try to kill her and her friends multiple times, she ends up just chasing them away/exiling them... as if wherever they end up, they'll be any less evil and bloodthirsty? It could simply be a moment of weakness, but the fact that they're Red Fledglings and thus "her people" seems to be what keeps her from stopping them from murdering any more innocents.
    • The authors almost poke fun at this in Chapter 6 of Revealed, when Kalona calls Zoey out for making a tactless comment concerning personal morality and Stark jumps to her defense, telling Kalona that he "just [doesn't] get her." Zoey is then shown to get all worked up and zone out when she realises that (gasp!) Kalona's assessment might be right.
    • In Hunted, Zoey catches Stark raping a vampire girl through forcible blood drinking, but ignores Darius condemning him because Nyx herself guides Zoey into deciding to redeem Stark. On the flipside, in Tempted, Zoey calls Stark out on what he did and Stark angrily declares that she's been misled and turned against him by Kalona.
  • The Belgariad has a lot of this, quite possibly on purpose, since it was explicitly intended to be Trope Overdosed.
    • Barak drunkenly raped his wife in the backstory, but nobody cares (except Barak himself, and then only in a 'kinda regrets the circumstances' way), because he's a good guy - though that could be coloured by the fact that the only one who heard about it is a 14 year old Garion, and the terminology was sufficiently obscure that while most readers would get it straight off, it goes straight over Garion's head, meaning that no one else may actually have known.
    • Zakath, once he joins the heroes, is considered to be a trustworthy friend, regardless of how he attempted to commit genocide and nearly did.
    • Sadi dealt drugs like candy, including powerful hallucinogens and poisons.
    • Silk nearly wiped out an entire family for the actions of a few, Hettar openly admits to murdering people on the road just because they were Murgos, and Polgara and Belgarath are much worse. The attitude seems to be 'If they're not on our side, they're horrible people who do horrible things. If they are on our side, they're good people who just made some bad choices.' Yeah, try telling that to the thousands of dead Murgos.
    • Lampshaded many times when each person (especially Silk) admits to having various vices and refusing to accept it as being the same as the vices of others. Belgarath even refuses to classify it as Good vs. Evil and instead prefers to call it "them versus us." Considering that he's spent about 7000 years often being Necessarily Evil, you can understand why he would.
    • In the case of Zakath, it's a bit more ambiguous. It's noted a) that he spent most of the series as a cold-blooded monster, as a product of being manipulated into executed the woman he loved when he'd just taken the throne, which drives his genocidal Roaring Rampage of Revenge, b) nearly has a breakdown when he realises that pretty much everything he's done since the end of The Belgariad has been absolutely pointless, c) very nearly reverts after he feels as if he's been betrayed by the heroes. In other words, he's not presented as performing a Heel–Face Turn overnight, nor is it presented as either smooth or easy.
    • Belgarath firmly believes that Utopia Justifies the Means, and has done everything he has done, including forcing people into loveless, dysfunctional marriages to ensure the birth of important figures, drugging up the Queen of the Dryads and forcing her people into a treaty with Tolnedra, a number of assassinations and a ten-year piss-up, to assure the victory of the Light.
  • In The Elenium, the Sparhawk's party slaughters enemies by dozens. They even kill in cold blood an unsympathetic teenage bastard who was unarmed and harmless. They only lose a single member by the end, killed in a fair fight while invading the enemy's HQ. Reaction of the party? They take this justified battle killing as a vile murder and the murderer is slowly and violently tortured to death. The "tortured murderer" was in fact a raping, torturing, murdering monster who totally deserved his fate, but their treatment is simply Disproportionate Retribution for that particular killing. We'll hear no remorse from Sparhawk for his murders.
  • Atlas Shrugged features this very prominently in its final chapters, ultimately culminating in Ragnar Danneskjold shooting at a security guard in cold blood, even as the narrative says the guards are too paralyzed with indecision to be any threat or obstacle, as the heroes rescue John Galt from being tortured to death. One can argue that the questionable behavior up until that point was just washing one's hands clean of a broken system, but actively and intentionally murdering someone as a way of announcing an entrance can't be excused that easily.
  • The Fountainhead: Everyone who's poor deserves it except of course Henry Cameron, whose impoverished circumstances are because of eeeevil classical architecture. Then there's Howard Roark, the hero, who engages in sex that has Questionable Consent and domestic terrorism, yet it's treated as a good thing when despite spending eight pages in a Motive Rant about how and why he did the latter, he's found not guilty anyway.
  • Anne McCaffrey's protagonists routinely get away with being huge jerks to other characters. It's often portrayed as a flaw in a generalized way (Killashandra of Crystal Singer and Lessa of Dragonriders of Pern are both understood to be overly short-tempered, for instance); but in most specific instances, the narrative rather makes it clear that "that (Designated) Jerkass had it coming." In Crystal Line, Killashandra humiliates a scientist for more than a page for the sole offense of being pedantic and giving a new substance a different name than she gave it, and it's Played for Laughs, and viciously justified a few pages later with descriptions of how space-sick the scientist and his partner got all over the ship that brought them in.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga:
    • At the end of A Civil Campaign, the protagonists work together to prevent the arrest of a man who has (albeit naively) swindled investors out of large amounts of money. Why? Oh, he's their friend, and they need his scientific brilliance to make money for themselves. And the situation is decided on the basis that Miles's cook would lose money if the arrest goes forward.
    • This trope is averted quite openly by Emperor Gregor in Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, where Gregor somewhat bitterly observes that his actions affect millions of people, and that therefore yes, he does trade in human lives on a daily basis. However, he makes it abundantly clear that he is unhappy with this burden and that he will make compromises that he thinks will benefit his people despite having near-absolute power with which to impose his will as he sees fit. He is also the one holding Miles' leash (personally in the later books, rather than through Simon as in earlier books) and he expects a degree of restraint even though Miles as an Imperial Auditor could be the ultimate Cowboy Cop if allowed to do so. Miles himself becomes noticeably more self-restrained once he becomes an Auditor, and realizes how even the most trivial of his actions could directly impact the Imperium much more than in the days when he was a covert operative.
  • Hush, Hush:
    • Patch walks around threatening, mindraping and torturing Nephilim, but seeing as he’s doing it for Nora, it’s okay. It's treated as evil when someone else does it.
    • Nora does a good few cruel things to Marcie for revenge purposes (for example, breaking into her bedroom and stealing her diary and anything Patch gave her), but all of them are excused as being justified. The few Kick the Dog moments Marcie gets are treated like she horrifically tortured Nora.
  • Parodied in Love and Freindship, the satirical novel Jane Austen wrote as a teenager, in which the narrator Laura excuses any crimes whatsoever committed by herself, her husband Edward, and their friends Augustus and Sophia, but is merciless toward anyone who does not cater to their whims.
  • In Andre Norton's Forerunner Foray, Ziantha thinks taking over the bodies of the dead is a touch of Necromancy. Having done so, she and the other psychic with her exploit the dead's past and the loyalties of the innocent guardsmen without regard to the effect they have on the ancient civilization — and all for a purpose of Grave Robbing. It is taken for granted that the dead man's widow is malicious because of her hatred for him, though the book reveals nothing of their relations before. (True, the other psychic is doing it to discover more about the past, not for financial reasons. Still.) Then when they come back to their own time, he is at pains to keep her from being arrested for her crimes, not because she was exploited by the mastermind because of her youth and poverty, but because she's really useful.
  • In Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small, a major event in Squire involves the fact that nobles are able to mistreat commoners at will and at worst must pay a fine if convicted, something that Kel protests vehemently when a friend of hers is the victim. She also agrees to give up her own noble right to duel the noble offender when the King agrees to change the law since that would undercut the point that the law must apply to all. But in Lady Knight, Neal lays a spell on a man, cites his being a Queenscove when reminded it's illegal, and Kel unambiguously approves of this act. Yes, the man was an abusive Jerkass and there wasn't much chance of local justice, but Kel should have at least thought about the fact that Neal was flagrantly taking advantage of his birth to do this.
  • There is a particularly blatant example in The Scarlet Letter. The antagonist Chillingworth does objectively good things: he gains great medical knowledge from the Indians at considerable personal risk and uses it for the benefit of the community. When Chillingworth comes home to see his wife (and indirectly himself) publicly shamed, he comforts Hester, medicates her and her daughter, and mostly blames himself for his wife's infidelity. He helps Dimmesdale medically and emotionally by correctly insisting that Dimmesdale will never fully recover until he relieves himself of whatever is weighing down his heart. Despite these good acts, the Puritans of Boston seem ungrateful for having a man who has put so much effort into becoming a great doctor for them and seem to interpret everything he does in the worst possible light. Everyone, including the narrator and Chillingworth himself, assumes that he is doing everything for the very worst of reasons. Just to hammer in his badness, the narrator makes Chillingworth ugly, and uglier as the story goes on. Protagonist Dimmesdale, on the other hand, does objectively bad things by ruining Hester's life and making Pearl grow up a poor pariah. He is extremely hypocritical in participating in the public shaming of Hester, even pretending to try to make her give away the name of her lover. He neither has the courage to confess and face the consequences nor to take his secret to the grave, instead choosing the most cowardly possible solution (he waits until he only has seconds left to live to confess). Yet he obviously has the sympathy of the narrator, Hester, and all of Boston.
  • In the Anita Blake series, Anita starts sliding down the slippery slope of morality by the seventh or eighth book, noting how she's less affected by things as the series goes on, and can do things that morally she would have balked at earlier. However, everything she does is portrayed as the right and correct decision at the time, regardless of the consequences (and some of the things she's done would result in her perfectly legal summary execution), and she's quite willing to kill people for committing lesser crimes than she has who had decidedly greater justification than hers. She even set one character up who was supposedly under her protection to be hunted down and murdered simply because he refused to have sex with her. This was presented as the appropriate response to the reader.
  • A lot of the behavior displayed by Nancy Drew is downright meddlesome, snoopy, and intrusive, all of which is portrayed as perfectly okay, as she's a detective and the people she's displaying this behavior towards are jerks and/or suspects in her case. When anyone else acts like this, they are rightfully called out on their rudeness. This gets to the point where Nancy demands clarification on information that she learned while eavesdropping on a man's private conversation, and he's the one made to be the bad guy for screaming at her to mind her own business. Multiple times throughout the Files series, however, Nancy is blasted for this by everyone — Bess, George, Ned, even her own father — and her conduct is bad enough to cause a rift in her relationships with these people.
  • The second book of The Cobra Trilogy has the titular Cobra super-soldiers agree to consider attacking the planet Qasama (which they know nothing about) in exchange for new territory elsewhere. They go to Qasama pretending to be a diplomatic party while actually spying, and when caught, kill a lot of Qasamans and threaten to do more damage until they're allowed to leave. Then they come back in greater force to conduct experiments, and kill more Qasamans to make their getaway. Their conclusion: Jeez, these people we've attacked twice are a damn menace, aren't they? We've got to start a full-scale war with them, quick! (The fact that the Qasamans used spy tricks and violence against the Cobras is cited as proof that they're dangerous, even though the Cobras were first to spy and first to kill.) In the end, the Cobras find a solution short of war which will "only" overturn the foundations of Qasaman society. But it's the Cobras doing all this, so yay! A few people on the Cobra side note that the conflict was probably unnecessary, but even then, most treat it as a strategic blunder rather than a maybe-we're-the-bad-guys realisation.
  • In Twisted, Railrunner gushes about how much he loves drinking blood and killing, and during his initial transformation and rampage, straight-out murders dozens of cops who were just doing their duty, then has the audacity to bitch that no one accepts him as he really is. He also has no problem with killing the Fallen, even though they're evil through no fault of their own... and he's the good guy!
  • The Fault in Our Stars:
    • Hazel frequently berates others for things they do or say, then does or says the same things herself, usually stating that it's okay when she does them. Vandalism is to be applauded when main characters engage in it, because how dare Isaac's girlfriend back out of a relationship she wasn't emotionally prepared to handle?
    • Peter van Houten treats Hazel and Gus the way they treat most other people, only he's more blunt about it. We're meant to think he's horrible while Hazel and Gus are wonderful. They have an expensive dinner on his expense then come inside his home against his express wishes, yet they are sympathetic and he is not because he refuses to indulge Hazel's desire to know what happened to the characters in his book after the book ended, even though when he does, Hazel throws a temper tantrum and throws his drink in his face.
  • In The Fabulous Five series (or rather, its prequels), the titular characters have a club whose primary goal is find ways to humiliate Alpha Bitch Taffy Sinclair, mostly out of jealousy over the fact that she's pretty. This is portrayed as right—even with the girls eventually being chewed out for their behavior—presumably because readers are assumed to be empathizing with the girls rather than with Taffy.
  • Quite prevalent in L. Ron Hubbard's Mission Earth. Psycho Psychologists using their black arts to twist the minds of their victims is evil, but the protagonists using hypno-helmets to reprogram their enemies into doing what they want is fine. The difference between the bad guys on Earth using Public Relations to manipulate the masses and the protagonist using Advanced Symbolic Logic to do the same is that the protagonists' civilization was doing it first. Even the books' central plot boils down to an attempt to free planet Earth from a tyrannical overlord so that an alien empire can conquer it over instead.
  • The average Danielle Steel book will have any and all behavior by her heroes and heroines portrayed as perfectly okay, while identical behavior from the villains is despicable. In The Wedding, a woman comes home from a business trip to find her boyfriend cavorting with another woman; she tells him off and throws him out, conveniently forgetting that she herself spent her trip having a fling with another man, who turns out to be her One True Love, whom she marries at the end of the book in the titular ceremony. There's also her numerous May-December romances being portrayed as perfectly common and normal—to the point where no one bats an eye at a 62-year-old man marrying an 18-year-old girl (in A Perfect Stranger), or a 49-year-old man falling in love with a 15-year-old girl (in Family Album). Unless you're a villain. Then, you "look like an idiot" with your younger girlfriend, even though the age difference is only 15 years.
  • In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone:
    • Professor Snape's open favoritism of the Slytherins — giving them extra points, tipping the scales so the Slytherins look good and the Gryffindors do not, and so on — is used to characterize him as a Jerkass who refuses to see past House loyalties and focus on individual students. McGonagall (the Head of Gryffindor House, and the Deputy Headmistress), on the other hand, is portrayed as strict but fair despite the fact that she breaks the rules to put Harry on the team as a first year.
    • Snape's his bullying of Harry due to his history with James Potter, is used to demonstrate that he's a Sadist Teacher and a petty Jerkass. Meanwhile, Hagrid is depicted as a Nice Guy despite the fact that his introductory scene has him give Dudley a pig's tail purely because his father insulted Dumbledore note , and McGonagall is seen as a Reasonable Authority Figure and a Cool Teacher despite endangering Neville's life twice through punishments for relatively minor infractions note .
  • Victoria tells the story of brave patriots seceding from the United States in the face of Political Correctness Gone Mad, to preserve traditional Christian values. In the course of this, they seize federal land to sell to foreign developers, kidnap, torture, make liberal use of hostages and human shields, threaten the families of servicemen who fight against them, execute captured soldiers en masse, assist a foreign invasion of the US, bomb their own allies, nuke an ally's city, threaten nuclear war with China, violently purge ideologically unreliable academics, and more. These are, at worst, the strictly necessary actions of a reasonable figure, more often, outright celebrated, unlike the federal opposition. When the heroes take pilots and their families hostage to deter bombing, it's a clever outside-the-box tactic, when the Feds assassinate a Confederate leader, it's a vile crime. When good Christians are sold into slavery in the Middle East, no effort or expense can be spared in securing their return home; when defeated feminists are sold into sexual slavery in the Middle East, it's only their just comeuppance and a chance to show them what real patriarchal oppression looks like.
  • Worm:
    • Early on, the protagonist and narrator, Taylor, is offered a chance to work with the Undersiders, a gang of superpowered teenage villains working for a mysterious boss. She accepts the offer with the notion of insinuating herself into their group to hand over valuable intel to the local Protectorate, a group of adult heroes, via Armsmaster, who owes her a favor. Although she does this without the approval or knowledge of the Protectorate, she still goes to Armsmaster after she's accepted the Undersiders' offer and asks him to ensure she stays out of prison should things go sour. Armsmaster predictably refuses, pointing out that the favor she's calling in—allowing him to take credit for apprehending a dangerous gangster named Lung—blew up in his face due to her own recklessness. Rather than apologizing and asking what she can do to help, Taylor gets angry with Armsmaster and storms out to go her own way. Armsmaster is portrayed as insensitive and stubborn, with Taylor comparing him to the bullies who abuse her on a daily basis.
    • This becomes a major theme of the story. Centered around the interactions between Heroes and Villains, one character describes the whole thing as a high-stakes game of 'Cops and Robbers'. As long as Villains respect the unoffical boundaries, they are given significantly more leeway than you might expect, while Heroes are given very long leashes when it comes to their actions, being protected from the law as long as they don't make their bosses look bad. As a result they're able to have an effective (if uneasy) truce when working together against truly awful villains like the Slaughterhouse Nine or world ending threats like the Endbringers. The resultant culture is dubbed 'The Unwritten Rules', a code by which both Heroes and Villains agree to follow. Essentially, as long as crimes are kept under a certain level of severity and you work towards the greater good when needed, crimes can be swept under the rug...
  • Asian Saga: Subverted with shades of deconstruction. Dirk Struan, the protagonist of Tai-Pan is... not a very nice person. He comes across fairly well, due to having very progressive attitudes about employer-employee relations, intercultural interaction and corporal punishment, but is completely ruthless in dealing with anyone who opposes him, in business or at sea. His Evil Counterpart, Tyler Brock, has more typical attitudes in regards to race, violence and the treatment of women, but firmly believes that Even Evil Has Standards and in many ways holds himself to a higher standard than Struan (among other things, he insists that Struan be "broken regular" i.e. killed in a fair fight, whereas Struan showed no qualms about sending a triad hit squad after Brock's son). Both Struan and Brock are POV characters at some point, and it is clear that, from their perspective and with the information they have, both are doing what they think is best for their families and the people around them. Both men are also very well aware that they are not angels, but rough-and-tumble China traders and opium smugglers, and that a lot of what they do as a matter of course is morally dodgy at best. Both men throw the phrase I Did What I Had to Do around with abandon.
    • A telling scene is when Brock attempts to sink a lorcha carrying bullion Dirk Struan intends to use to pay off a huge debt to Brock,, who has been buying up Struan's mortgages in the hope of driving him out of business. Culum goes on a long rant about how Brock should hang for a pirate. Dirk just shrugs and says that if he had been in Brock's shoes he would have done exactly the same thing, and that Brock's only crime was failure.
    • When Noble House rolls around some 200 years later Ian Dunross and Quillan Gornt (descendants of Struan and Brock, respectively) have romanticized the events of Tai-Pan thoroughly, and both openly consider their respective forefather to be a paragon and the other's a vile villain.
  • In the third Survivor Dogs book, the innocently naive Fierce Dog pups lampshade the Carnivore Confusion that comes with the series' Animal Religion. The Forest-Dog watches over the animals of the forest and if he's pleased with a dog he'll "give" them prey. Lick gets confused and asks "But if the Forest-Dog watches over the trees and animals, doesn't that mean he watches over voles and rabbits too?"
  • Hetty Feather: The entire series is actually child and teenaged Hetty's memoirs, naturally unintentionally or even intentionally skewing facts at times.
  • The Han Solo Trilogy: After learning his account's been frozen as Corellian Security has learned that he had deposited proceeds from selling stolen goods, Han takes the bank manager hostage before he can get arrested. This gets the man killed as he's shot when stormtroopers try to stop Han escaping. Yes, he didn't intend it, but it's probably the worst thing Han does in the trilogy. He never has to face any consequences for it either. This is just fine apparently, because he is the hero.
  • The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: "Turncoat" is solely defined as someone who turns against the protagonist. People joining them are only doing what's right. Along with this, the barbarian hero is described rescuing a female slave from being kept in a harem, then has sex as a reward before abandoning them in the middle of nowhere (i.e. using them for sex much like their slave master would), yet remains a "hero" to people writing such a character.
  • The Hunger Games trilogy is entirely narrated by Katniss, and she tends to categorise whether someone is good or bad by whether she likes them or not. She frequently mocks Effie and her style team for worrying about how they're going to get her sponsors (which is their job), but when Cinna makes her a pretty dress, she treats him like he's better than the other people in the Capitol. Johanna even calls her out on this in the third book when Katniss asks why Johanna hates her so much — Johanna tells her that despite Katniss's angsting about what she suffered in her Hunger Games, she fails to appreciate that as the Mockingjay she gets special treatment because she's the symbol of the rebellion, whereas everyone else who suffered just as much or even more than she did just have to suck it up and get on with it because they have a war to win.

  • Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me." The opening lyrics state that the boyfriend is having an argument with his girlfriend. She's apparently offended by something that he said. The next lyric is "she doesn't get your humour like I do". Because of course since Taylor is the narrator, her romantic rival clearly has to be in the wrong. She must of course be overreacting to a joke, rather than have a legit reason to be offended at something her boyfriend said to her. (The video plays with this by having Taylor portray both the narrative character of the song and the girlfriend.)
  • The Steve Miller Band's "Take the Money and Run." A pair of young, possibly teenage protagonists rob and murder someone, then escape the police and flee to Mexico. Everything about the song acts like we should be rooting for them rather than the police detective who's trying to bring them in.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Hulk Hogan gouged eyes, pulled hair, choked on the ropes and such as much as anyone on top of being an incredibly Sore Loser yet the WWE always portrayed Hulk Hogan as a squeaky clean All-American Face. WCW followed suit when he jumped ship, but the fans turned on him there until he finally turned on them and started the New World Order, most notably running up against foes such as Sting, Diamond Dallas Page, Goldberg, and internal bickering with Kevin Nash and the Wolfpac—all of whom were universally treated as faces when they fought against Hogan and his pals. Years later, when Sting and Luger turned heel on Hogan to screw him out of the WCW title a few months after the group's disbandment and his return to being face, fans cheered Sting as though he were still the face even though a vignette tried to portray him as the most evil mastermind in WCW history.
  • Big Show once got disqualified for pulling John Cena out of the ring during a tag team match also involving Chris Jericho and Randy Orton. Kane once got disqualified for giving John Cena a big boot. At some point the rules of wrestling as far as WWE is concerned became "It is illegal to try and stop John Cena from winning a match."
  • Pro Wrestling has often had a double standard related to heels and faces, where if a heel and face do the same underhanded thing, the heel will be treated by commentary and kayfabe as a horrible jerk and the face's actions will be laughed off or weakly excused. This is especially a big problem in WWE, especially in the early 2010s, where it seems almost every feud has at least some shades of this. Some standout exceptions being...
    • There are plenty of times when a face will steal something from a heel, often unprovoked, and it'll just be treated as the wacky antics of a hero. Sheamus stealing Alberto Del Rio's car was laughed off with "he's just borrowing it", and the entire buildup of the Intercontinental Title match at Wrestlemania 31 was all six of Wade Barrett's opponents stealing the title from him and hot potatoing and stealing it from each other repeatedly.
    • Roman Reigns' entire singles career began this way, with him getting into a #1 contender's match for the WWE Title by poisoning his bosses' coffees and leaving their put-upon underling, Vickie Guerrero, an essentially innocent woman in the whole situation, to take the fall for it. Even worse, Reigns' bosses didn't even acknowledge his fault in the whole thing even though his spiking the coffees was caught on camera, and they instead opted to punish Vickie. So in WWE's kayfabe, Roman Reigns got an innocent woman fired for his own benefit and wasn't punished for it in any way aside from not winning the title. Sure, Stephanie McMahon's used the same tactic herself years ago to help Vince and Shane get the jump on her husband's best friend, but considering she's that ruthless, you would think she'd also be ruthless enough to, y'know, selectively forget that and punish Roman Reigns somehow in order to separate the difference between the two.
    • As noted above, John Cena runs into this a lot. Over the course of nearly a decade and a half, Cena has piled up quite a list, which includes but is not limited to: hitting Batista with an Attitude Adjustment off the roof of a car and through a hole in the stage, after Batista begged him not to; viciously attacking Rusev outside of any match, putting him in a submission hold and making him tap out and pass out just to get him and Lana to agree to a match at WrestleMania 31, when doing something very similar to Edge was meant to be considered Seth Rollins' Moral Event Horizon; and challenging a worn-out Rey Mysterio Jr. to a match for the WWE title on the same night Rey won it for the first and only time in his career (notable especially because Rey might be even more of a "perpetual face" than Cena), when both before and since this event Cena would often be first in line to take moral umbrage with anyone using Money in the Bank advantageously to become champion. This is one of the biggest criticisms of Cena, as he is shown doing things like this frequently, but it is almost never acknowledged and even then only by heels who are meant to be wrong.
    • The ultimate example, though, could be "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, who did things that should have had him thrown in prison yet always got him cheered. He threatened the very lives of Vince McMahon and others to get title matches. He assaulted women in the ring — morally questionable enough when it's an Alpha Bitch like Stephanie McMahon, but he also did it to Stacy Keibler, who was being portrayed as an abuse victim in storyline. But perhaps the worst was his 1999-2000 feud with Triple H, where he threw Trips in an ambulance and then smashed the ambulance with a semi — just because he didn't win their Triple Threat match with Mankind for the title at SummerSlam; this led to HHH setting Austin up to get hit by a car at Survivor Series; when Austin found that out a year later, their next match ended with Austin trying to crush Triple H to death in a car with a forklift. And Triple H was still called a "son of a bitch" by Jim Ross when he broke up Austin's title match two weeks later; to repeat, Triple H was supposedly the absolute bad guy for ruining a title opportunity of the guy who tried to kill him TWICE.
  • The Ring of Honor=CZW feud was instigated by Chris Hero complaining about a CZW show being moved from the evening up to the afternoon because a venue showed preference to ROH. After Jimmy Bowers insulted Hero during an ROH title match granted to him by Bryan Danielson in an effort to silence Hero and Necro Butcher, Hero "revealed" Bowers as ROH booker Gabe Sapolsky and vowed to destroy his company over it. CZW owner John Zandig liked this idea enough to personally lead the CZW locker room against ROH's, using a weed whacker, which were banned from all sporting events nation wide, after the CZW locker room's first mass assault on ROH failed and taking a hand in the torture of ROH wrestler BJ Whitmer. The angle played across both promotions, sometimes both of them having joint shows in the same building (which were agreed upon well before Hero instigated open conflict) with the CZW fans cheering every CZW talent despite their petty and disproportionate actions, except for Kevin Steen, the only CZW wrestler pointing out CZW wrestlers and ownership were being petty and disproportionate, begging ROH to take him, and booing everyone associated with ROH, who were mainly trying to defend themselves or their property except when they were trying to avenge the people already hurt or property already destroyed by CZW, booed them all except Claudio Castagnoli, who was a mole within the ROH locker room.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A major part of the background in Warhammer 40,000. Almost every book published by the Black Library is Imperial propaganda, and the fluff included in each faction's codex casts them in a good light (with the exception of Chaos and Tyranids, both of which are mostly from Imperial point of view as well, probably because the stars of those books are insane or all devouring cosmic horrors).

  • Subverted in Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods. The first act sees fairy tale characters Jack (the one who climbs a beanstalk), Cinderella, and Little Red Riding Hood living their famous stories, while a new couple—a childless Baker and his Wife—try to break the spell on their family by collecting items from those characters. All five of these main characters do sneaky, underhanded things to achieve their dreams, but they still have our support...until Act Two comes along, and Sondheim shows us just what the consequences of the characters' wishes have been. For instance, the Giant's wife appears and points out that she welcomed Jack into her home—despite his being a complete stranger—and offered him food and care, only for Jack to repeatedly return and steal money, a golden egg-laying goose, and a singing harp. The first theft was perhaps the worst, as he didn't even allow the Giantess to explain the situation to her husband; he simply stole from her and ran for it. Jack then eventually killed the Giant, and no one cared because he was a "monster." But his wife did, and she is angry. While killing the Giant's Wife becomes a goal in Act II, Red Riding Hood does weigh out the morality of killing the Giant's wife and while Cinderella judges that it's the best decision for now, being that the wife caused so much harm to the kingdom, she also acknowledges in song that "giants can be good."
  • Discussed in "Stepsisters' Lament," a song from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical adaptation of Cinderella. The stepsisters, watching Cinderella dance with the Prince, point out that conventionally pretty but mysterious girls—"frail and fluffy beauties" who are "obviously unusual"—always end up with happy endings and the support of the audience, while "solid," "usual" women like them are inevitably left with nothing. It's worth noting that these stepsisters, while somewhat mean, have a softer, kinder side. Their final fates vary depending on the version — in the original 1957 TV production and its stage adaptation they and their mother are at the wedding celebrating Cinderella's good fortune, while in the 1997 TV movie remake they all end up cast out of the palace. In the 2013 Broadway version one of the sisters is part of the Beta Couple so "Stepsisters' Lament" is sung only by the other, backed by the chorus. This sister and the stepmother make Heel-Face Turns at the end, as Cinderella's forgiveness moves them.

    Video Games 
  • Deconstructed In-Universe in BlazBlue: Central Fiction. It's revealed that a Prime Field named Origin has control over the Amaterasu unit, and is therefore essentially god, having complete control over time itself. Origin then uses its power to ensure that time only moves forward if her 'Successor', Noel, is alive and living her best possible life; any other outcome causes time to reset. Noel's best case scenario happens to involve an entire civil war breaking out and several named characters being much worse off or dead. Nine, a Hero of Another Story who had earned her happy ending, had to be betrayed and killed for the timeline to go Noel's way; When she was brought back to life, she was understandably full of Rage Against the Heavens, and began devising a weapon to destroy Amaterasu and kill Origin to make the timeline "fair" (in quotes because Nine's idea of "fair" is a world where she and her sister Celica are happy, to hell with anyone else). Furthermore, when Izanami revealed the truth of Origin's goals to the world, several people turned on Noel herself and started trying to kill her.
  • This trope was used and addressed by the developers of Brink, with the biggest example being a mission where, as the Resistance, you're trying to safeguard a vaccine from capture by Security forces. The same mission, played from the Security side, is attempting to wrest a lethal bio-weapon from the Resistance. After all, to develop a vaccine, you first need a sample of the virus. Plenty of other examples are given throughout playing both campaigns, which was an intentional design.
  • Heavily played with in Far Cry Primal. At the start of the game, Takkar is working to meet up with other members of his lost tribe, the Wenja, after a saber-toothed cat kills his entire hunting party in the first 10 minutes. He then finds out that the Wenja have been scattered and basically near-destroyed by rival tribes the Udam and the Izila. At this point, the Wenja are tragic victims fighting to keep their people alive. Later on in the game, however, Takkar becomes The Beastmaster and rebuilds a sizeable village, whilst repeatedly attacking the Udam and the Izila and trying to destroy them just like they did to his people, even though all Takkar's allies view this as something worth celebrating. Takkar himself is the only character who doesn't celebrate, since he feels that something is wrong (and with the Udam, there's plenty wrong), and he extends mercy to a few members of the enemy tribes, like Dah the Udam, Roshani the Izila, and eventually, Warchief Ull's children, even when the other Wenja don't agree with him, but apart from this, the general hypocrisy is never addressed. Then again, since this is a game taking place in prehistoric Central Europe, the Protagonist-Centered Morality is most likely intentional.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Jack Moschet in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles has a Myrrh tree in the backyard of his manor (the dew of which is needed to purify a giant crystal that holds back the poisonous miasma around the party's village) and he's a monster (a gigas, to be exact) with a Hair-Trigger Temper. Both of these are apparently reason enough to break into his estate, kill his servants to lure him out, and then beat up him and his wife, even though there are over a dozen other Myrrh trees to collect from.
    • Final Fantasy Brave Exvius falls into this hard in season 2 with Sol of the Eight Sages, the ultimate Big Bad of season 1. Push comes to shove, he has the exact same goal - killing all life on the planet - as the Big Bad of season 2, Emperor Vlad. The main differences between the two are motive (Sol is a Knight Templar who thinks his acts are a species-wide Mercy Killing; Emperor Vlad is an Omnicidal Maniac Nietzsche Wannabe) and technique (the former wants to use the negative emotions of mankind to make a magical construct to destroy everything, the latter wants to use an ancient superweapon). And Sol doesn't have any sort of proper Heel–Face Turn or repudiation of his philosophy - he continually wants to destroy everything; he only has issues with the season 2 Big Bad because a) he wants to destroy everything his way, and b) he wants to be the one to kill one of the heroes himself and won't let anyone else. In fact, he specifically states on multiple occasions that he plans on getting back to his plans once the season 2 Big Bad is killed. Yet, because he helps out the heroes against said Big Bad, he's treated by the story as a positive force. He even gets an Alas, Poor Villain speech by the guy he wanted to kill when Emperor Vlad finally kills Sol.
  • An odd variation with the opening level of Goldeneye Rogue Agent, which applies this to James Bond rather than the player character. The level is revealed to be a training simulation, which fails because the player character ends up spending so much time killing bad guys that the nuke they were sent to disarm goes off. Despite this being a far clearer reason for failing the simulation, the agent ends up terminated from MI6 solely because, for some reason, he is held responsible for Bond's "death", nevermind that there's hardly anything about the circumstances that can be blamed on him - both were in the same helicopter before it got shot down, and only the agent happened to luck out and be thrown onto more solid ground on crashing, whereas Bond was still hanging from part of the copter and thus slipped and fell several stories to his death when the floor it was on gave out.
  • Iggy's Reckin' Balls is about a group of troublemakers whose hobby is racing against each other, with the winner getting to push the Big Red Button that will detonate the entire racetrack. The game itself takes them to the sacred towers of the Cho-Dama Kingdom, and despite what they're doing being sacrilege and can be easily interpreted as terrorism, the game very much wants you to perceive it as much fun as Iggy and his friends are having, with the Cho-Dama forces attempting to stop them Played for Laughs. No consequences of the destroyed towers are ever shown except for the last-place finisher getting caught in the explosion, which is also played for laughs.
  • Discussed in Kid Icarus: Uprising, when Viridi accuses Pit of being a "flying munitions depot" and more destructive than her own forces. He remarks, "But I'm fighting evil. It's different. Look it up." All joking aside, this is a case where you're supposed to applaud the hero for calling the villain out, since Viridi is attempting genocide on human civilians whereas Pit is retaliating against strictly military targets.
  • King's Quest:
    • Crops up only briefly in King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow, with a royal proclamation announcing Cassima and Alhazared's wedding. It appears in the beginning of the game before Alexander has any real reason to question the legitimacy of the marriage, but Alhazared is obviously the villain and, at the very least, is oppressing Cassima to the point of keeping her under house arrest. The narration describes Alexander as being distraught at the thought of the wedding because she'd be another man's wife. The danger she's in personally apparently doesn't upset him quite that much.
    • King's Quest (2015) falls into this with the way Graham treats his two grandchildren. Graham is the hero, so anything he does is more or less indicated to be okay — including the fact that he clearly favors his granddaughter Gwen over his grandson Gart, to the point that he names her his heir, making her Queen of Daventry when he dies. This is despite Gart being the older grandchild, and the one who actually lives in Daventry with his grandfather. Gart himself is given a few minor character flaws, while Gwen isn't shown to have any; she becomes the player character in the epilogue of the game, meaning that she has apparently also inherited Graham's Protagonist Centered Morality.
  • The Player Character from Knights of the Old Republic can be played like this if you get all the Dark Side points in the game for being a massive jerk for the sake of it and then saved the Republic, everyone will ignore all that and you're a hero.
  • The Last of Us Part II: Deconstructed thoroughly. Ellie goes off on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Abby and the WLF for murdering Joel, but Joel murdered Abby's father in the past (the surgeon who was going to operate on Ellie in the first game) and as far as Abby was concerned, Joel was a deluded madman who murdered her heroic father and doomed the human race from ever finding a cure and absolutely had it coming. Ellie kills scores of Abby's comrades-in-arms in the first act to reach Abby, so by the second act when the player perspective shifts to the other girl, she is pissed, and quite understandably so.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, one of Class VII and the Courageous' goals is to bring back Crow, one of their classmates who they all see as a friend and are hoping to graduate alongside them. They are also notably sympathetic to him despite the fact that as the leader of the Imperial Liberation Front, he was a clear-cut terrorist who repeatedly targeted military lives, and endangered innocent ones (including those of his own classmates and supposed friends), in a complex gambit to weaken Osborne's position in Erebonia and eventually assassinate him. When he succeeded in the assassination near the end of the first game, Erebonia fell into Civil War in the second game which Class VII and the Courageous spend their time trying to end. In fact, Crow himself ends up cautioning Rean about this when Duke Cayenne extends him a We Can Rule Together offer. While explaining his past, Crow makes no effort to assert his righteousness, fully admitting that his crusade was little more than a gamble to get revenge, downplays his tragic past as "just another sob story", and even goes as far as to say that Osborne wasn't even necessarily an evil man for what he did. His insistence on Rean sticking to his own beliefs does lead to his own plans coming undone, but Rean and Class VII never lose their sympathy for him, or stop thinking of him as a friend.
  • Early in Magic and Mayhem's plot, the protagonist gets away with killing a friendly character who helped him on The Quest just for an artifact they possessed. The narration tries to redeem him by implying that he needed the thing real bad (he didn't) and that this was instigated by a Zen Survivor advisor while the character himself was too inexperienced to counter. It is possible to play this as self-defence, however — deliberately avoid meeting the character and he'll eventually attack first.
  • Odin Sphere switches between the points of view of different characters, and the way Ingway looks depends heavily on who is the focus at the time. Ingway is first introduced as a massive asshole who cast a Pooka curse on Cornelius so that he couldn't be with his sister. Then Mercedes meets him when he's been transformed into a frog and the player gets to see his more heroic side, and then he becomes a Jerkass Woobie for Velvet's story, when his and her backstories are revealed.
  • Freeware RPG Paradise Blue has the player on the side of La Résistance as they plan a coup d'etat against the current king. At no point in the game does the narrative try to explain why the resistance leader should be king, and in fact the current king doesn't seem to be that bad of a guy; the only real major flaw he has is that his second in command is a complete asshole. The resistance are the good guys simply because the protagonist is working for them.
  • Defied in Phantasy Star IV, with Chaz's Calling the Old Man Out speech. The Great Light created life in Algo for the sole purpose of keeping the Sealed Evil in a Can in its prison, but Chaz asserts that if they mindlessly obey the Light's plan, there's no real difference between the servants of Darkness and the servants of Light except for which side of the bars they're on. Chaz ends up rejecting the whole Light vs. Dark thing altogether, and decides to fight to protect the people of Algo instead.
  • This is a major facet of Alicesoft's flagship Rance series. The titular protagonist considers rape, theft and murder to be unforgivable offenses... just as long as he isn't the one doing them, in which case they're acts of absolute, unquestionable justice. On a more mundane level, he's quick to criticize others for behaviors or ideas that he is equally as guilty of having, only to completely deny it when someone points his hypocrisy out to him. This is all very intentional and Played for Laughs, as Rance is a borderline Sociopathic Anti-Hero and all of his allies are either Extreme Doormats, Horrible Judges of Character or rational people who have resigned themselves to mostly tolerating his behavior due to their understanding of his incredible strength. Kichikuou Rance's plot begins with Rance marrying Lia and becoming the king of her country. Naturally, he becomes an awful tyrant. A minor event in the game consists of him enforcing a new set of laws across his country, which consist of:
    • 1. Those who assault women will be executed. (The King is exempt)
    • 2. Married men that get involved with other women will be executed. (The King is exempt)
    • 3. Prostitution businesses are prohibited. (Except the King’s favorite ones)
    • 4. Girls must value their chastity, and stay virgins until marriage. (Unless the King takes it)
  • Remember Me doesn't really care too much about anyone but Nilin and the people she cares about personally. No mention is made of the people who are killed as a result of her tampering with memories except for the one she feels guilty about, or the people who are about to be suddenly flooded by horrible memories they once deleted at the end of the game. One level ends with her flooding Paris and aside from a cutscene where she feels guilty about it and a few people yelling at her through their windows as you run across the abandoned vehicles resting in the water, nothing more is ever shown from it and no one ever brings it up again.
  • Saints Row 2 is where The Boss is at their most Villain Protagonist-y, and no small part of that is their beef with Maero and the Brotherhood. The Boss initiates the feud themselves simply due to being offended by an unfair alliance deal from Maero, resulting in an escalating Cycle of Revenge that results in Carlos' death and The Boss killing, crippling or otherwise victimizing some rather sympathetic characters simply for associating with The Brotherhood, whether directly (Maero's girlfriend Jessica is clearly a decision-maker in the gang and is more or less directly responsible for Carlos' death) or not (Matt is a musician and tattoo artist who is only technically associated with the gang because he happens to be Maero's friend).
  • Sam & Max Hit the Road hangs a big old lampshade on this in its intro.
    Sam: [holding a bomb] Where can I put this so it doesn't hurt anyone we know or care about?
    Max: Out the window, Sam! There's nothing but strangers out there.
    [Sam tosses the bomb out the window. A loud explosion can be heard outside.\
    Sam: I hope there was nobody on that bus!
    Max: Nobody we know, at least.
  • This gets ridiculous in Sands of Destruction, where you're trying to destroy the world, which is perfectly acceptable. The ferals, most of whom treat humans poorly, are the bad guys, occasionally trying to stop you when you do something they don't like, such as killing their kid and stealing from them.
  • Rather than an accident of writing, this is very much the point of the mainline Shin Megami Tensei series, and its tactical spinoff Devil Survivor. The idea of these narratives is that the Protagonist is not just finding his own path in the world, but is ultimately defining the ideology that the new world will follow after it is reborn in the fire and destruction of the current one. Is the Protagonist acting like a seemingly charitable, messianic, but ultimately authoritarian and oppressive leader? He's steadily aligning himself with the policies of YHVH and Law. Is he taking selfish, self-serving actions that others find cruel or dismissive? He's just expressing a bent for the ultimate personal freedom that Lucifer and Chaos represent. By the end of the games, it's the Protagonist's morality that rules and defines the new society, whether humans, angels, or demons are around to enforce it.
    • This is particularly evident in Shin Megami Tensei IV, in which the Neutral alignment (considered in-game to be the only unambiguously good, desirable, and hardest one) is not based on rejecting the extreme views of Law and Chaos as in previous installments, but rather on keeping a "balance" of Lawful and Chaotic actions. Where traditional Neutral factions, and the Freedom path of Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, align naturally with current morals and ethics in the real world, and therefore the Protagonist's morality is beholden to "our" real-world value system, IV eschews this option and defines its Protagonist's morality as exhibiting authoritarian and anarchist beliefs in equal measure.
  • Splatoon plays this for laughs in its competitive multiplayer mode. The "good guys" are always whichever team the player is on, and the "bad guys" are always the other team.
  • Tales of Graces: Richard has been possessed and turned into a merciless psycho king. However, because Richard is a friend to the party, they can't just kill him before he ruins or ends anyone else's life. They need to save him! There is also the fact that if they killed him, they'd be killing the last King of Windor and even if he wasn't Asbel's friend, Asbel would be committing regicide and Lhant would be screwed. Sadly, this is never explored in game.
  • Tales of Symphonia:
    • A very minor one in the synopsis of the plot thus far, found in the game's menu. After the ambush atop the Fuji Mts. the game claims that the Renegades stole the Rheiards from you. I guess we're ignoring that the party stole them from the Renegades in the first place?
    • Sheena also provides a minor example: after Kuchinawa is revealed as a Double Agent one of the things she and her village is worried about is that the secrets of their village may have been leaked, and at another point she mentions that her village takes great effort to keep itself as secretive as possible. All the while though, she and her village actively spies on every other group in the entire game (even the other world of Sylvarant through The Renegades).
    • When Lloyd calls out the Big Bad for sacrificing the Great Seed in order to revive Martel, Yggdrasill retorts that Lloyd did the same thing when he abandoned the dying world of Sylvarant to save Colette. Lloyd has no rebuttal to this.
  • Team Fortress 2: The "Meet the [Class]" promotional videos are all shot from the RED team's perspective (except for "Meet the Spy", which plays more like a Mook Horror Show instead), so only RED team's classes are impossibly heroic, badass, and loyal. In-game voice responses and taunts also suggest that both RED and BLU teams have this sort of mindset.
  • The Tomb Raider series has Lara Croft killing lots of guys in her quest to find artifacts. Tomb Raider (2013) lampshades this by making Lara repeatedly apologize and angst over killing other island survivors and even the animals she needs to eat to survive. Parodied in a Robot Chicken sketch which points out that Lara also has an unfortunate tendency to kill large numbers of endangered animals (like the famous tigers) purely for her financial gain. Zig-Zagged with earlier games in the franchise; Tomb Raider only features a handful of human enemies, all hired guns, and the first two survive multiple gunfights with Lara before dying. Tomb Raider II features a doomsday cult Lara guns down by the boatload and a Save the World plot. Tomb Raider III has her shooting her way through a U.S. Military Base to steal a relic, and the danger to the world doesn't kick in until she collects all the artifacts. In Anniversary a remake of the original, she only kills one person and this has a serious effect on her, but in the other Crystal Dynamics-helmed games, Legend and Underworld, she goes through mooks by the dozen.
  • Undertale is a massive subversion of this trope. If you kill anyone, including common monsters, you will be called out on it. You've killed that Snow Drake in a random encounter near the beginning of the game? Meet his parent near the end. To drive the point home, one of the characters lampshades it.
    Alphys: Watching someone on a screen really makes you root for them.
    • In a way No Mercy run aside, the game is at its worst if you kill common monsters but spare the major characters because they matter to you personally, Flowey calls you out on killing others but sparing Toriel when, in his own words, they could have been to someone else what Toriel is to you. It also puts you on the fast track for the worst of the neutral endings.
    • Somewhat played straight with Undyne, who is the first character you come across making a sincere effort to kill the player character, who is a child. While you will get called out for killing anyone, in self-defense or not, Undyne is never outright called out for trying to murder a kid, even if you're playing a Pacifist route and said kid has never hurt anyone. In fact, befriending Undyne is a requirement in order to get the game's Golden Ending.
  • Valkyria Chronicles:
    • Selvaria, being a Valkyria, is a terrifying enemy who remorselessly slaughters thousands of Gallians, but only until we find out that Alicia is one too, and once she has a connection to the protagonists, her villain status immediately begins to wane. The heroes are much more upset about her capture than they are about the castle full of soldiers she obliterates, the player is expected to feel much more for her than her victims, and the plot pays so much more attention to her that the fact that her capture was a Wounded Gazelle Gambit is never even addressed by her survivors.
    • Selvaria herself tends to embody this trope on her own, in conjunction with Squad 7's Plot Armor. She's being exploited for her powers and only kills mooks that no one cares about, so the story treats her like a tragic figure who is good at heart, but isn't in control of her own destiny. Then she spares Squad 7, thus sabotaging Maximillian's assured victory at the last minute, but she kills those thousands of soldiers anyway. The way the story plays out, the tragedy is that she committed suicide, not that a sizable portion of Gallia's entire population was just murdered during a truce.
    • Faldio shoots Alicia to awaken her Valkyria powers, which stops Selvaria from destroying what's left of the Gallian military and winning the war. Although no one disagrees that his plan worked when no one else had any other ideas, the story utterly condemns him for choosing the many over the one because the one is a main protagonist and the many were mooks, and while he's punished for treason, the story shows us he was wrong because his plan to save the day required harming a main character instead of just trusting that they'd figure out a way themselves. It's especially notable that he openly states that it's because no one had a solution that he even went to such lengths to begin with, and in the end, the plot proves it was necessary. The narrative nails this one home at the end when he commits a completely needless Taking You with Me with Maximillian, explicitly to atone for believing in power instead of his friends... who don't object, try to talk him out of it, or even indicate that they accept his apology, even though they're openly offended that someone would dare physically strike Selvaria.
    • Geld had been committing war crimes since the first war and the Empire apparently knew about it, but wasn't punished for it until, as luck would have it, he was caught by Captain Varrot, who only stayed in the army to find him and get revenge for torturing and murdering her lover. Evidently the Empire didn't mind him torturing and killing prisoners and civilians until Varrot took the high road.
    • The only Imperial soldiers given any sympathetic treatment are the one that dies in Alicia's lap, and the captain of his unit who lets Alicia and Welkin leave in peace instead of killing them while they're alone in the woods without backup; it's supposed to be a way of showing that the Imperials are similar, but since they go right back to acting like assholes for the rest of the game, it seems that the only way the Imperials can be good people is by being good to the lead couple.

    Visual Novels 
  • In the Good ending of Swan Song, Takuma is forgiven and left unpunished for rape, murder, torture, necrophilia, you name it. In the normal ending he is the sole reason for the death of all the earthquake survivors.
  • This is an in-universe plot point in Fate/stay night; the main criteria for a human becoming a Heroic Spirit is they are the hero of their own story. Even if they are truly rotten, and thus rightfully remembered as an antagonist in their legend, if they were a "hero" by that definition their soul is stored in the Throne of Heroes rather than reincarnated. Originally the Grail System was designed to prevent such "Anti-Heroes" from being summoned in any role other than Assassin. After the Third Grail War this restriction was removed due to the corruption of the Grail by Angra Mainyu.
    • In the Unlimited Blade Works route, the concept of Protagonist-Centered Morality is roundly criticized by Archer. He became a hero hoping to save people, but this ultimately meant leaving a long trail of dead people in his path.
  • In Love, Election & Chocolate, the protagonist is a member of the school's Food Research club, which barely does any actual research and instead functions almost exclusively as a hangout for friends (the club members) who eat snacks bought with funds the school provides them. When election time comes and a major candidate for president campaigns on a platform that includes disbanding or reducing the budget for low-merit clubs such as themselves and redirect it to more active ones, she is presented as somehow being wrong. In addition, the club members express their annoyance over another presidential candidate playing around the election rules by giving out gift cards for the school cafeteria the week prior to the start of the elections (bribes are forbidden when election period officially begins), but when they decide to participate in the election with their own candidate, they violate the spirit of the rule by giving out free candy that's technically considered an election leaflet because they put stickers with election material on the packaging.
  • Briefly discussed at various points in Dies Irae. How a person is viewed morally ultimately comes down to either how well you know them yourself or how they align with your own views. Generally, then everyone who does not fit this we label as evil to justify ourselves. Meanwhile, those who are basically faceless masses are ultimately inconsequential.
    • In the larger Shinza Bansho Series of which Dies Irae is part of there is Mirtha, The First Heaven, who took this trope to its logical conclusion by making it into a universal law. She believed herself to be the ultimate justice and thus, anyone who followed her where good and anyone else was evil. Thus her law made this a universal and objective truth. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the era under her rule was just one big Forever War between the two sides of Good and Evil, neither of which really fit the labels.

    Web Animation 
  • This trope runs so rampant in the GoAnimate "X Gets Grounded" videos, it would probably be easier to list grounded videos where this trope isn't in effect in some way. Generally speaking, though, if the main character of a grounded video is a designated troublemaker or a "baby show character" (i.e. Caillou) and does something horrible or stupid, this is portrayed as wrong and the troublemaker will get grounded. However, if a main character of a grounded video who isn't a troublemaker/baby show character does the same exact thing to a troublemaker/baby show character (whether in retaliation to a troublemaker's wrong-doings, as part of a Punishment Day, or even just because they don't like the troublemaker/baby show character), this is portrayed as justified or as a winning moment for the "good" character, who will subsequently be rewarded for stooping down to the troublemaker's level.

  • In Kevin & Kell, as protagonists, nothing the Dewclaw family does is ever wrong.
    • Kell Dewclaw has done some unsavory things. Including guilt-tripping Sheila into taking charge of planning Leona's wedding ostensibly to protect Rudy's relationship with maid of honor Fiona.
    • Fiona Fennec has frequently taken unreasonable positions in her relationship with Rudy, and has never had to be called into account for it. And then there's the joke that she might have castrated Vin Vulpen.
    • Lindesfarne Dewclaw has committed white-collar crimes on a number of occasions. Including embezzlement, identity fraud, and hacking.
    • The ultimate crime in the setting is predators using their diet as an excuse to kill people they don't like — all predation is supposed to be anonymous. RL's tendency to eat his employees is presented as his most villainous characteristic, and what finally gets him sent to jail. However, many stories have been resolved by Coney eating the antagonist, with zero comeback.
  • The protagonists of Kit n Kay Boodle are always right and everything they do is morally righteous and correct behavior, no matter what they're doing to whom, because their motives are supposedly pure and for the greater good. This includes raping someone with the mind of a child, because she's a brat, and framing her lawyers for the crime when they try to rescue her.
  • Least I Could Do:
    • Protagonist Rayne gets away with being insanely rude, selfish, insulting, etc. because, well, it's him. In earlier strips his friends would give back about as good as they got, but in more recent years Rayne is the only one allowed to look good in the end. The modus operandi of late involves Rayne doing something mean or selfish to his friends for 90% of the storyline, then taking the last 10% to do something that magically makes everyone forgive him, whether it's honestly nice or just him cleaning up the mess he got them into in the first place. Not helping matters at all is the fact that Rayne is pretty well an Author Avatar for Ryan Sohmer.
    • One of the more extreme examples is when Rayne finds a homeless orphan and starts using him as an ill-defined personal assistant/slave/plaything, often verging on abuse at the very least. At one point, he gets called out on it. His reaction is one of indignation, and he points out how he is saving the kid from a life on the street, and how he is actually the child's legal guardian. The accuser (an attractive woman, of course) backs down, saying something to the effect "I'm sorry for assuming the worst". The comic (and the accuser) completely ignores/forgets that such behaviour towards someone entirely dependent on you is still very much abusive, and paying money for someone's living doesn't render their basic dignity moot. If anything, the boy is in no position to protest for fear that he might actually have nothing to eat if he gets kicked out. (Never mind that "I may treat you badly, but you'll be worse off without me" is a tactic used by real life abusers.) Arguably, switching from the usual Comedic Sociopathy to a weak attempt at treating the situation realistic and justifying Rayne's behaviour makes it worse, by claiming the situation is a-OK rather than dismissing it as a comedic, unrealistic situation.
    • The possibly insane homeless older guy Rayne does basically the same thing to is played more for laughs, seeing as how the character looks almost exactly like artist Lar de Souza's self-portrait.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • In general, this trope is shown to be a direct consequence of an RPG-Mechanics Verse; the protagonists (and any other good-aligned adventuring parties in general) can slaughter hundreds of sapient foes without losing their alignments by reframing the narrative to make it look like they were trying to be heroically-good. Or looking cool while doing it.
      Adventurer: Hey, they attacked us first!
      Sir François: Because you were committing a home invasion.
    • Miko Miyazaki was intended to be an intentional exploration of this: A Lawful Good paladin and also one of the protagonists' main antagonists. She is shown to be slightly more reasonable as long as none of them are in the room with her. Well, up until the point where she ends up killing an innocent old man over her own misgivings and continues to insist it was all according to some greater plan her gods had for her.
    • Conversely, Redcloak's motivation for the inverted trope - Villain Protagonist Centered Immorality - stems from the realization that a band of roving paladins can use their Duty to eliminate all threats to Azure City to justify killing an entire nearby village of women and children who happen to have the unfortunate ability to connect to an evil god, even if they never intended to be the one person who could use it their entire lives. He uses Then Let Me Be Evil to justify his crippling Never My Fault character flaw and Kick the Dog moments, which are clearly a combination of his own fault and the influence of his spiteful, neglectful god.
    • Also the source of the Trope Quote. Elan is happy that Enor and Ganji (who are antagonists) are safe over the literally dozens of dead guards, and Tarquin's only complaint is that the latter are expensive to replace.
    • Generally averted due to the universe's strict laws defining Good, Evil, Law, and Chaos — if you are a dick, you are seen as evil, and if you try to be good, then you are good. The afterlife in general judges souls based on how they saw themselves and the will behind their choices, instead of the actual consequences of their actions. Slightly played straight in terms of Belkar, who generally gets a pass on murdering innocent civilians — although, as Roy points out, the best that can be done for Belkar is just pointing him in the right direction and the Deva assigned to his after-death paperwork does concede that Belkar's evil is much less than what it would be without Roy's direction.
    • Played with when Belkar and Vampire Durkon are reunited after the pyramid's destruction:
      Belkar: If trying to eat me isn't enough to pay his fare to Stabbytown, I officially have no idea what you people want from me!
  • In PvP, Max Powers was a parody of this, until the characters actually became friends with him. Although he was really nothing more than a friendly, decent guy (if somewhat self-centered) he was the "villain" of the strip, and Cole's "nemesis." His "crime" was nothing more than being more successful than Cole. Take Cole's Bias Goggles off, and he was nothing more than a Sitcom Arch-Nemesis.
  • YU+ME: dream has this when it comes to Lia. While she was Not Herself sort of when doing all of the terrible things she did, it was a bit jarring to see her have a romantic reunion with Fiona while a child that she killed was still in the background of the scene. There are also no repercussions for her actions besides her feeling bad about it... which doesn't seem to be getting in the way of her life too much. However, this event is what caused Fiona to merge consciences with their respective owners, so something like that won't happen again.
  • Sonichu has this in spades. It matters not if Christian Chandler has decided to have his characters destroy an office building with hundreds of innocent employees inside, as long they were making fun of Rosechu, he's in the right.
  • Strong Female Protagonist built up to its longest chapter to date exploring this issue in detail. Superman-expy Alison sees herself as a literal Social Justice Warrior, ready to battle all the problems of the world with her fists. Unfortunately, the problems of the world aren't that simple — and her heavy-handed attempts to make them simple have resulted in people becoming increasingly afraid of her readiness to inflict violence. Her long alliance with her former archnemesis terminated abruptly when he broke her heart and reminded her that the young man she's been so infatuated with is in fact a terrorist who changed his methods but not his goals. Not to mention that she's now guilty of kidnapping, torture, terroristic threats, and medical fraud against an ex-boyfriend after she forced him to save the lives of thousands even though he refused to do so because of her method of "asking." Said ex-boyfriend also happens to be the son of some very powerful people who seem to have been letting her operate freely only because she wasn't important enough... until she acquired their full negative attention.

    Web Original 
  • Subverted in The Sword of Good, parodic "fragments of a novel that would never be written" in which a Genre Savvy lost prince raised in our world battles Always Chaotic Evil orcs alongside a pirate captain and a wizard with healing magic. When they meet the villain, right after the death of a Mauve Shirt the pirate was in love with, the villain points out that the wizard could have not only saved the Mauve Shirt himself by putting himself at minimal risk but could also have alleviated much suffering the heroes had previously seen, prevented from doing so only by the self-interested ideology that's underlain both the villain's "evil" classification and the wizard's mysticism to that point. This causes the hero to realize how much suffering the grieving pirate captain must have herself caused almost by definition, how quickly he bought into the idea of hereditary absolute monarchy, and the fact that his party is guilty of torture, and he concludes that he was on the Wrong Side All Along.
  • Occasionally, a story on Not Always Right will feature an employee who clearly thinks they're the "good guy" of the story, when really they're worse than the customer they posted the story to complain about. That's assuming these events actually happened, of course. This pops up on the sister sites as well; many stories posted to Not Always Working are written by customers who mistreat employees but see themselves as the protagonist of the story. For example, someone pretends to be an irrational customer a la Not Always Right and then mocks the employee for not realizing it was only an act.
  • In the story-presented-as-television Comeuppance, Sian Welby (as portrayed by the author) is supposed to be seen as always right, while the contestants as always wrong. However, at times, it just comes off as whining on her part simply because contestant X makes valid points and the author makes them look worse by playing up their supposed villainy, or because they don't merely give her a free pass on anything for being a celebrity (as seen on Chapter 5's introduction):
    Karen: We don't need excuses, Sian. If we don't like the look of you, you're not coming in. Simple as that. And there's no point arguing. We're there all night. If you want to stand there making a tit of yourself, that's your choice.
    Sian: [stamps her foot] Uuugghh!! So unreasonable!

    Web Videos 
  • One interpretation of Captain Hammer (the one that most people in-story believe, and most viewers don't) in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is that he really is a hero and didn't, on average, deserve a comeuppance, and wasn't really any worse than a lot of other heroes except from the point of view of Doctor Horrible. Granted, said comeuppance is self-inflicted and relatively minor, more befitting a Jerk Jock than a supervillain.
  • Conversed in the "Violence as Narrative" episode of Folding Ideas. He talks about how a lot of video games will portray the main characters' actions as okay even if they're terrible. Then he discusses 3 games that worked around Protagonist-Centered Morality or attentional bias and instead have the violence as a part of the narrative. The examples of aversions he gives are:
    • The Last of Us: Joel has learned to solve his problems with violence to the point that's all he knows. He shows symptoms of sociopathy when rescuing Ellie. In the end, there's a Perspective Flip which gives a more objective outlook on his actions.
    • Hotline Miami: The player is forced to make the protagonist go through the maze again afterward and see the corpses of all the people the protagonist has killed. The main character is later provided a foil and gives the player (playing as the foil) the option not to kill anyone if they want.
    • Bioshock Infinite: The look of Comlumbia emphasizes Booker's violent actions and role as a chaotic element. He, in text, claims the Vox Populi are a reaction to people much like himself. He acts and presents himself as an enemy to the Voice of the People.
  • Parodied in this video. Despite seen as people doing charity for good, the speedrunners are blatantly doing things like stealing college degrees, killing their own parents, literally trying to kill themselves, and generally causing $1000's worth of damage, all to raise only $25 for an unnamed charity. There's even a narrator reassuring us that it's for charity.
  • CinemaSins frequently gives out sins for movies indulging in this, if they don't give a strong enough reason to root for the heroes or if the heroes are as bad as or worse than the villains:
  • Lampshaded and parodied in Farce of the Three Kingdoms. The narrative has decided that Liu Bei is the hero, so the world cheerfully accepts this. However, as time goes on, a lot of people start to get tired of it.

    Western Animation 
  • Invoked in the South Park episode "Coon vs. Coon and Friends".
    The Coon: It's not my fault you guys turned evil, Kenny!
    Mysterion: You are the bad guy, fat boy. You!
    The Coon: I'm going around making the world a better place!
    Mysterion: For YOU! You're making the world a better place FOR YOU!
    The Coon: ...right, that's what superheroes do.
  • On The Fairly OddParents, Mark Chang is considered a good guy after he becomes Timmy's friend (so he can hide out on Earth). He never shows any remorse for his actions, and indeed seems quite content in a later episode to let the Earth get destroyed when he can easily save it. He has gotten better though. It helps that he was already an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain to begin with.
  • The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles miniseries falls into this trope when the turtles steal Baxter Stockman's van and take over his laboratory for no reason other than that he's a bad guy. This justification gets flimsier still when you consider that all Baxter did was collaborate with a mysterious individual who wanted to mass-produce his rat-catching robot prototype. Not questioning what this army of robots was for was irresponsible, but it doesn't make Baxter a serious criminal.
  • Applied in a big way in the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, as noted most obviously in the turtles' treatment of Karai, Hun, and the Shredder. While all three characters have led crime syndicates and have ruined countless off-screen lives, the turtles' treatment of them varies wildly. The Shredder, as Hamato Yoshi's killer, becomes a kill-on-sight villain whenever he threatens the world. Hun, who is openly antagonistic against the turtles but has yet to do any real damage, is dealt with ambivalence—if he's killed, fine, but they won't go out of their way to do so. On the other hand, sometimes-ally Karai—who has tried to kill the turtles on more than one occasion and was perfectly willing to allow her father to commit interstellar genocide—wound up being invited to April and Casey's wedding after her help defeating an even bigger bad. Combined with the fact that "stopping the bad guys" sometimes means "committing genocide", it's hard not to conclude that the turtles, although unquestionably heroic at times, have also committed plenty of actions that would make people go "what the hell, hero?"
  • Æon Flux subverts this constantly. The pilot starts out as a normal "Superspy slaughters mooks" sequence, then slowly shifts its focus to the final thoughts and experiences of several drugged, bleeding guards dying on the floor. The episode "War" goes through no less than four protagonists in a matter of minutes, each alternating sides in the conflict, and several of which start by killing the previous protagonist...
  • The title characters of The Powerpuff Girls are often just as destructive as the villains they fight, which is almost never acknowledged because, well, they're the Powerpuff Girls. Most likely the townsfolk decide that they're probably a better option than leaving the Kaiju unchecked, but often the destruction they cause is entirely disproportional to the threat. This is generally intentional with shades of Comedic Sociopathy at times.
    • The beatings they regularly give to any criminal, ever, are almost always excessive force by an enormous margin. Mojo Jojo especially is on the receiving end of some horribly brutal treatment, and given that he's no more physically able than a regular chimpanzee, it's the equivalent of Superman giving a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to Lex Luthor.
    • They beat the crap out of Rainbow the Clown, who was clearly not acting out of his own malicious intentions and that it was the result of a freak accident, who had also reverted and thanked them for curing him before they go to town on him.
    • Subverted in one episode, when the Professor and the Girls move to the town of Citysville which is far more like a real city than where they had come. While there, they manage to foil bank robbers from escaping by blowing up the bridge they were about to cross with their eye lasers. Instead of being praised like they would be in Townsville, the mayor there chews them out for their extreme course of action, and points out they could have just stopped the robbers by using their flight and super strength, without costing the town a ridiculous sum of money.
    • There are many instances when a villain is either subdued or surrenders... only to be beaten to a pulp before going to jail. One example comes from Big Billy becoming a good guy temporarily only to leave the group after getting yelled at. In the end, he saves the girls' lives by thwarting a scheme against them. The girls say that while they appreciate it, he still has to go to jail for helping the Gangreen Gang which he nods in acceptance.... they then beat the snot out of him.
    • One episode focuses on Buttercup going too far with this. She beats Fuzzy Lumpkins far beyond any need to, and is called out for it by her sisters and the doctors who treated Fuzzy, who is wheelchair bound with excessive injuries. The doctor blatantly states she isn't a hero for beating up someone so viciously. Unfortunately, the episode doesn't really work since Blossom and Bubbles are just as guilty and aren't subject to the same scolding.
    • A prominent example is "Bubblevicious", where Bubbles viciously beats up innocent citizens and a dog solely out of anger at her sisters and trying to prove she's "hardcore". She is never punished, nor does she ever show any remorse for her actions. It's suggested that we're supposed to see these as justifiable responses, because Bubbles only stops when her sisters call her "hardcore" like she wanted.
    • In another episode, the Professor forces them to use a giant battle mecha to fight a giant pufferfish monster and the fight totally destroys Townsville, but instead of overlooking the destruction like they usually do the whole town yells at them and demands they never use the robot again. Realising what they did the girls shift the blame onto their maker, who has the decency to be rendered speechless and leave under the towns' collective glares.
    • Also given one big lampshade in the origin movie, where the girls' first flight through Townsville causes mass destruction and makes the populace terrified of them. For what it's worth, they never cause anywhere near that level of destruction ever again unless they're actually fighting something.
    • Bubbles has her Companion Cube, Octi, and we're supposed to feel sorry for her whenever it gets damaged or stolen, but Bubbles shows absolutely No Sympathy to Buttercup when she and Blossom found out that she had a Security Blanket and went out of their way to try and force her to get rid of it, because she shouldn't "need" it, but Bubbles is allowed to keep Octi throughout the series because...Double Standard?
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: You're supposed to side with the titular character and Patrick, no matter what, especially when they annoy or cause injury to other characters because of their idiocy. We are also supposed to side with SpongeBob and Patrick over the people who have a justified grudge towards them, like Squidward, such as in the episode "Bubble Buddy". We're supposed to sympathize with SpongeBob because people want to pop his "friend". The problem is that the two were causing trouble the entire episode, such as keeping a very large amount of people waiting two hours to use the bathroom because Bubble Buddy was "using it" and making an unreasonably complicated order at the Krusty Krab. And since the bubble currency they paid Mr. Krabs ceased to exist (and was never valid to begin with), they technically stole several hundred dollars' worth of food from him. Bubble Buddy even let a fish die; at least in the mob's case, they didn't know Bubble Buddy was alive.
  • In Go Go Gophers, which ran on the Underdog cartoon, Colonel Kit Coyote was very much an obsessive and egotistical bully for constantly trying to get rid of the two Gopher Indians, but then again, those two did quite a few mean things to him as well in retaliation that often left him and his men injured or in the stockade, and never got punished for it.
  • In King of the Hill, Hank is almost always presented as being clearly in the right of whatever the issue of the week is while his opponents, whose only crimes most of the time was simply being a mild annoyance to Hank or disagreeing with him, are turned into strawmen.
    • The example that stands out to most fans comes in season 8's "Reborn to Be Wild". Bobby meets a group of young Christians who practice their faith in non-traditional ways (such as through skateboarding, tattoos and rock music). Hank is initially happy that Bobby is taking an interest in religion, but gets mad because he feels Bobby's doing it the wrong way. Even though the youth pastor is shown to be a good man with noble intentions, Hank is portrayed as being in the right, with even the pastor's own father siding with him. Eventually, Hank explains that he was worried Bobby would see Christianity as just another fad, like the Troll dolls and Tamagotchi he abandoned after about a week, rather than a way of life. While this is a perfectly reasonable sentiment, it isn't revealed until about two minutes before the episode ends, and the entire episode expects the audience to accept it on faith that Hank is right.
    • This trope is why the Grand Finale is considered by many to be an Esoteric Happy Ending. Throughout the series, Bobby has struggled to win Hank's approval. In this episode, he finally does so — but it's because he just so happens to have finally found a hobby that Hank thinks is "appropriately manly", and it's made clear that Hank still hates all of the "unmanly" hobbies that Bobby has and looks down on him for them. We're supposed to support Hank for putting such restrictions on whether or not to show his son any love and respect.
  • This trope applies to Family Guy as a whole, especially their treatment of characters like Meg, Lois, and Brian. We're supposed to side with Peter because he is a protagonist. Because Meg is the definition of Hollywood Homely, we're supposed to find the abuse of her funny.
    • At the same time, the majority of the time Peter is handed An Aesop, Lois is designated as the Straight Man and supposed to be considered of higher moral ground, despite the fact that, in later episodes at least, Lois only has a vague margin of scruples over Peter, and many of her lectures or arguments with him are full of hypocritical or self serving behaviour (perhaps the most exaggerative examples include when she raped him to prove how misguided his vow of abstinence was, or when she chastised him for saying he hates his kids, despite once outright advising Meg to commit suicide out of apathy for her).
    • Brian hit on his owner's wife after Peter gave him a home. He is very hypocritical; he constantly acts like everyone who doesn't agree with him is an idiot. He dates women for their bodies while claiming to be interested in their minds. Lampshaded in "Jerome is the Brand New Black" by, of all people, Quagmire. Much of this is either a one-time-only thing (in the former's case), or later toned down, and he becomes more of a self-loathing Jaded Washout.
    • Quagmire's been portrayed as a borderline or flat-out rapist consistently since the show began (keeping several "tagged" Asian women in the trunk of his car, having an automatic system in place in his house to drug visiting women unconscious, etc...), but he gets to call Brian out for the above, when he is certainly even worse. Quagmire was portrayed as good for the majority of the show despite the fact he sleeps with minors, sexually assaults them, and some many other things that would otherwise land him in prison under realistic standards. Sure, while he has his good moments, that does not make his evident crimes less invalid or excusable in any way, not to mention he goes after Peter's wife, too, so there's that to keep in mind.
    • The episode "Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q." could very well qualify as Protagonist-Centered Morality, especially since it aired right after the infamous "Seahorse Seashell Party." Watching those episodes back to back, it comes off like the show is saying "being an abusive monster who makes another person's life a living hell is only wrong if you're not the protagonist".
  • To some degree in The Dreamstone. Though they get the shorter end of focus in several episodes, the narrative seems to side with the Land of Dreams, who generally treat the Urpneys as Villain Ball Magnets and repel and often sadistically punish them for trying to give them bad dreams (disregarding Zordrak tortures or kills those that don't). The fact the heroes are exceptionally pious about it helps little either. Later episodes at least tone down their retaliations and give them a more genuine provocation, though the Urpneys still aren't really any more willingly villainous than before.
  • The tad-infamous Hero Factory special Invasion from Below showed signs of this, as the Heroes' actions at the end lead to the death of the entire Beast colony, including their unhatched eggs, even though it was made clear that they were a sentient species who only became aggressive when unassuming construction workers trespassed into their nest. The Heroes do make peace with them, but a slight misunderstanding (one Beast accidentally stepping on a gun) causes another fight, and the Heroes blast their nest to pieces, letting the colony fall into a lake of acid. At the end, we're supposed to cheer for their victory and the one surviving Beast egg is even presented as a dark Cliffhanger, when it's clearly been shown that the Beasts are not evil by nature and can be reasoned with. In a previous episode, the Heroes even contemplated enacting infanticide (after finding eggs belonging to the species of an escaped prisoner), and only decided against it for tactical reasons.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • One major example is "Boast Busters". While Trixie does go overboard with her ego, one of the ponies who calls her out and complains is Rainbow Dash, who's not exactly the picture of modesty and humility herself. Rarity and Applejack didn't cover themselves in glory in that episode either. While they criticized Trixie for her boasting and bombast, they wasted no time trying to show up the stage magician at her own show and get the spotlight on themselves, and nothing is said about them starting the entire conflict in the first place by loudly heckling and disrupting the show the second Trixie introduced herself as "great and powerful" which is what actually egged on Trixie's boasting to begin with. Later, the only reason anything bad happens is because Snips and Snails lure a dangerous animal to town because they want to see Trixie slay it, and yet they get no consequences while Trixie is blamed for the incident and loses her home and all her belongings. This is treated as Laser-Guided Karma because, as far as the show is concerned, her minor spat with the protagonists at the beginning of the episode makes her deserving of all the blame.
    • In the same episode, Twilight magically zips Spike's mouth shut. Later in "Magic Duel" (coincidentally Trixie's reappearance), Trixie uses a cursor to remove Pinkie's mouth. Trixie's act is presented as evil, but not Twilight's (in Twilight's defense, Trixie left Pinkie like that for a while), nor was Twilight's not bothering to actually restore Pinkie's mouth until the ending for the sake of a gag.
    • One particularly funny example is the Mane 6 calling out Discord for ruining the Grand Galloping Gala in "Make New Friends But Keep Discord", when you consider that the spirit of chaos unleashing a nearly unstoppable Blob Monster still caused less collateral damage than the Mane 6 managed to cause in "The Best Night Ever" (and that Princess Celestia knowingly invited them to the event knowing they'd liven it up by completely trashing the place; it's never explicitly stated if she invited Discord for the same reason, but she does seem to get a laugh out of it).
    • Trixie has yet another example, this time intentionally done and called out on. When Twilight began mentoring the reformed villain Starlight Glimmer, she encouraged her to start making friends. She was horrified when her choice of friend wound up being Trixie, causing Twilight to attempt to break them up. Starlight (who wasn't here for either of Trixie's earlier episodes) asks what exactly about Trixie is so terrible, especially since Twilight claimed to have forgiven her at the end of her last appearance. The fact that Starlight's own crimes were far, far greater in scope than Trixie (who at her worst was being influenced by the Alicorn Amulet) actually causes her to have second thoughts about Twilight, and wonder how sincere her own forgiveness was.
    • Twilight Sparkle often dips into this, and often with no justification, such as becoming so obsessed with greedily winning a prize at any cost despite scolding Rainbow Dash and Applejack for this on two separate occasions, or being a Trickster Mentor by making Rainbow Dash do a job she doesn't want to do to teach her a lesson despite being thoroughly upset with Discord for doing this to her, again, on two separate occasions.
    • "Wonderbolts Academy" has Lightning Dust, effectively a version of Rainbow Dash stripped of most sympathetic qualities, so obsessed with her own personal goals that she endangers those around her without really caring about it, culminating an incident that could have killed the Mane Six who are thankfully saved by the other recruits, with Lightning Dust shrugging it off as no big deal and getting a "The Reason You Suck" Speech from Rainbow Dash and eventually fired. Fans are all over the place on whether Rainbow Dash deserved punishment as well, if Spitfire deserved punishment for encouraging Lightning Dust's behavior, or if Lightning Dust deserved lenience, all with some valid points, but where this trope comes into play is when "Non-Complete Clause" airs. In that episode Rainbow Dash and Applejack are so obsessed with their own personal goals that they endanger those around them without really caring about it, culminating in an incident that could have killed Yona but thankfully she's saved by the other students, with Rainbow Dash and Applejack shrugging it off as no big deal... and getting rewarded in the end for "showing the students how not to behave" (and Twilight knows they weren't trying to do that and were just being selfish and competitive). The Double Standard is completely lost on all of them, including Rainbow Dash who still bears a grudge against Lightning Dust the next time they meet only a few episodes later.
    • "A Horse Shoe In" has Starlight Glimmer give a fierce "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Trixie for expecting her to be made vice-headmare of the School of Friendships's just because she's her friend despite showing themselves unqualified and carelessly endangering students. But the School was founded on Twilight Sparkle knowingly employing her friends, including Starlight, over qualified staff arguing it made them more qualified to teach friendship, which was ultimately portrayed as 100% right despite their endangering students and questionable effectiveness as teachers. Starlight is only in the position to hire because she was promoted to headman on a whim by Twilight despite the numerous times she engaged and harmed others even after her Heel–Face Turn and gotten off scot-free with at most an apology, which isn't even presented as Starlight having allegedly learned from those mistakes.
  • Futurama:
    • Played for Laughs in "War Is The 'H' Word" when Bender and Fry try to steal valor to buy gum at 5% off and get told said discount is only for actual members of the military:
      Bender: What?! This is the worst kind of discrimination. The kind against me!
    • Lampshaded at the end of "The Silence of the Clamps", when the crew learns that the very Bender-like robot they had seen killed wasn't Bender at all.
      Leela: So that moon hillbilly who got murdered was just an innocent husband and father! [Beat, then everyone cheers.]
    • Also Played for Laughs in "Leela and the Genestalk" when Leela is adamantly against genetic researching because she believes it may cause unforeseen negative side effects. Even when Mom explains it can feed the hungry and cure countless sick people, and even when it cures a man of his gigantism right in front of her she refuses to budge. Then Mom points out it can also cure Leela's disease, and her opinion instantly flips and she becomes a supporter of it.
      Leela: Even if genetic engineering feeds the hungry, and cures some giant guy! That doesn't make it right. We have no idea what the long-term effects will be. And once that genie is out of the bottle—
      Mom: I can cure you too.
      Leela: Okay I'm in.
    • Played straight in "Stench and Stenchability". Tonya breaking Bender's leg is treated as proof that she's even eviler than Bender... even though Bender was planning to kidnap her and murder her parents, and she knew about it. Later, she's portrayed as being evil for continuing to hate Bender after he saved her life, even though Bender did so completely by accident and he was actually celebrating the fact that she was dying at the time.
  • Gravity Falls:
  • The finale to Star vs. the Forces of Evil has become infamous for this:
    • In particular, the last few minutes shows Earth and Mewni fused together. Despite all the humans running and screaming in fear from the monsters, all the destroyed stuff, how hard it will be for everyone to adapt to the new world, the mostly unresolved racism between monsters and regular Mewmans, the fact that people who have been ruled by a monarchy for their entire lives now having to coexist with countless different world governments, and that Star and Marco will never see their friends who didn't live on Mewni again, this is still treated as a good thing and a happy ending because it means Star and Marco get to stay together. In other words, who cares how many billions of people have had their lives uprooted as long as our leads get to stay together?
    • While the rest of the events of the episode don't directly benefit Star as much, it is arguably a much worse case of this. Star's plan to save the monsters of Mewni from genocide is to destroy magic, which will kill everyone made of or dependent on magic. Since this is not limited to Mewni, that means Star will be killing millions if not billions of people and creatures across the multiverse, which is probably an even bigger genocide she than the one she is trying to prevent. And yet, since it will save her people and stop Mina, it is played as unambiguously right and the only option. In other words, if it will save my people from genocide, it's okay to commit a far larger act of genocide.
  • This trope is the main problem fans have with the show Pucca. The titular heroine is the quintessential Stalker with a Crush who is madly in love with the ninja Garu and relentlessly torments him. The other characters are fully aware of how creepy Pucca can be around Garu, but never call Pucca out on her actions, writing off her unhealthy obsession with Garu as "Funny Love" even though she does some practically illegal things that would've gotten any other character arrested years ago. Her status as an Invincible Hero does not help her case.
  • This was a consistent problem Loonatics Unleashed had. Regardless of what was going on or the actual points anyone made, team leaders Zadavia and Ace and Lexi Bunny were always portrayed as right because they were "the heroes." On the other hand Danger Duck could be an egotistical jerk, so he was always wrong and deserved anything he got, like Lexi giving him a "brain blast" over something like a mild insult.
    • The episode "Secrets of the Guardian Strike Sword" gives multiple examples.
      • At the beginning of the episode Ace is saved from a tight spot by a guy named Deuce. When Zadavia finds out Deuce is around she angrily tells him to get off her planet, but refuses to explain why. Because Deuce saved him before, though, Ace decides to go over Zadavia's head and let him ride along on an important mission. But Deuce turns out to be evil and just trying to win Ace's confidence to steal the titular Cool Sword from him, which can revive an army of Mecha-Mooks. After this Zadavia finally explains her behavior: Deuce used to be a general in her army but he was obsessed with gathering glory in battle and had an insatiable desire for power, so she didn't agree to give him absolute control of her military and he deserted. If she'd just said that in the first place, Deuce probably wouldn't have gotten the sword and the danger would've been avoided, but it's brushed aside with nobody having less faith in her or questioning her judgement.
      • While trying to get the sword back, Ace is jump-kicked from behind by Deuce, and calls him out asking "Is that how you treat your friends?" In their ensuing duel, though, Ace gains the upper hand when he takes advantage of Deuce turning his back to jump-kick him from behind. To drive it home, that fight is supposed to prove that Ace is the "true warrior" who really deserves the legendary sword.
      • In the wrap-up, Ace asks Zadavia when she'll tell him what other powers his sword has, but she replies she'll do it when the time is right because too much knowledge is dangerous. Duck complains that too little knowledge is dangerous too, and as he does an unexplained energy beam comes from Ace's sword and zaps him. This is treated as funny and something Duck deserves for contradicting Zadavia. Even though he was basically saying that knowing how to properly use a dangerous weapon is a good idea. Not to mention how the whole episode probably wouldn't have happened if not for Zadavia withholding important info for no good reason, yet the show turns right around and expects the viewer to take it on faith that if she says it's not the time to talk about this, then it's not the time to talk about it.
    • In "It Came From Outer Space" Rev and Lexi mess around with one of Tech's inventions that looks like a video game but actually controls some kind of orbital weapon system, and they find out they just fired real missiles at a real alien ship whose owner decides to invade the planet over this unprovoked attack. Eventually the alien warlord's driven off, his weapons destroyed, and Tech starts setting booby traps in his lab to discourage this from happening in the future. But nobody's ever really called out on how by ignoring a reasonable request from Tech ("don't play in my lab: the things in there are powerful crime-fighting weapons, not toys") and insisting on fighting it out with a vastly superior enemy over the misdeeds of one person, the Loonatics almost got the planet they're supposed to be protecting destroyed, and they're lauded for solving a serious problem they created themselves.
  • In Xiaolin Showdown, when Wuya uses a Wu that she didn't wager, the monks and the narrative treat her as a cheater, yet, previously, when Omi challenged Dojo to a Showdown, he used two Wu's that he didn't wager, and the narrative treated him like he did something acceptable.
  • The Lion Guard: A number of viewers question how the titular Lion Guard honors the Circle of Life by stopping hungry predators from simply hunting.
    • Whenever Janja and his clan try to hunt animals, they are chased out of the Pridelands by the Lion Guard because they don't respect the Circle of Life. However, these same heroes also trespass into the Outlands multiple times to stop the hyenas from hunting animals in their own turf.
    • When Makucha tries to hunt Ajabu, who he had chased all the way from the jungle and was his rightful prey, the Lion Guard stops him just because member of the Lion Guard Beshte recently befriended Ajabu.
    • Even Ushari and Makuu, predators who live in the Pridelands have fallen victim to this once.
  • Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero: In "My Mischievous Son", Penn zaps in a world as a family man who must convince his boss to give him a promotion and Rippen zaps in as Penn's mischievous son who tries to convince Penn's boss to reassign him to Antarctica instead. When said boss shows up, he states there's another character wanting the promotion and, no matter what, the one who doesn't get the promotion will be Reassigned to Antarctica. The viewers aren't explained why Penn's character must be the one to get the promotion.
  • Les Sisters: Wendy and Marine frequently cause problems for the people around them, yet when one of the antagonists does the same things as them, it's treated as despicable. Thirteen-year-old Rachel attacks seven-year-old Marine for humiliating her? Rachel is a horrible person (while Rachel can be pretty bad at times, she wasn't that bad in the episode in question). Thirteen-year-old Wendy attacks seven-year-old Loulou and throws paint on her because Loulou humiliated her in public? Loulou apparently deserved it.
  • In the Tiny Toon Adventures Spring Break Special, in order to save themselves from being Elmyra's "Easter bunnies", Buster and Babs give her Plucky so she can abuse him. Normally when bad things happened to Plucky, he often deserved it for being a jerk and con artist. What did he do to deserve this?...nothing. All he was doing was earning money in an honest way by selling his tanning invention so he could go out on a date with a girl he met on the beach. He wasn't lying, cheating, or swindling people, and to add insult to injury, the girl ends up going out with Hamton. Not helping Buster and Babs' case is that they make jokes about the situation instead of showing concern for Plucky's well-being.
  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars: There are several scenes showing B1 Battle Droids either completely unarmed or simply minding their own business and talking amongst each other, only for the protagonists to show up and mow them down without hesitation. This is always Played for Laughs.
  • In Miraculous Ladybug:
    • Protagonist Marinette's borderline stalker-ish behavior in regards to her crush on Adrien is never addressed as a problem, no matter how morally dubious her actions may be in pursuit of it, and even when she shows doubt or guilt over her actions, she is actively encouraged to keep going by her friends, who SHOULD be calling her out on her actions and talking her down instead, such as stealing his phone, memorizing his entire schedule, and sniffing around all his stuff in his room while whispering his name. She has also shown shades of hypocrisy, as she continued to pass out Miraculouses to Temporary wielders even after their identities were revealed to Hawkmoth, the same justification the show used to bench Chloe as Queen Bee. Marinette also chose to recruit Kagami to fight Heart Hunter, despite Chloe's far greater investment in seeing the Akuma defeated, for no other reason than to keep Kagami away from Adrien. More generally, Marinette's point of view tint others characters' behavior; the few people who do not like her are all villains. Every girl who loves Adrien too are (mostly) depicted as horrible bitches, while boys who loves Marinette are all good guys.
    • On the flipside, Chat Noir is portrayed as a harmless romantic in the nature of his crush on Ladybug, despite his repeated indication of being willing to ignore her boundaries or feelings, as well as willing to put his feelings ahead of the mission, and once even caused an Akumatization because of his possessiveness of her and his inability to tolerate anyone else having feelings for her, not to mention his destroying private property in fits of rage in some of the latest episodes. And during Despair Bear, rather than chastise Chloe for breaking her promise to him to be nicer, or at least remind her of it, he merely laughed it off while saying "she'll never change."
  • In Winx Club: Sky is never once called out or regarded as being in the wrong for lying to his girlfriend about the fact that he was engaged; the series justifies this much, MUCH later by flanderizing his fiance into a hate sink to make him look like he's in the right for his very scummy actions. In real life, this kind of behavior would've gotten him slapped and dumped, as girls do NOT typically like learning that their significant other has been lying to them and essentially two-timing another woman to be with them.
  • Santa Inc.: At the end of episode 6, after Santa spells out to Candy why he chose Devin over her to be the next Santanote , he still says wants her to run things behind the scense, giving her the chance to implement all the reforms and changes she'd proposed. Candy literally tells Santa to go fuck himself and quits. And the show clearly expects the audience to side with Candy and not see this as Candy throwing away the chance of a lifetime.

Alternative Title(s): Protagonist Centred Morality