The Conscience describes a character type whose purpose is to act as the hero's (or other characters') conscience and moral touchstone, the person they consult to check that they're doing the right thing. Common when The Hero doesn't trust his own moral judgment.
Unlike The Heart, the role of the Conscience is not necessarily all emotion, and this role is thus available to a wider set of character types. In some settings, this character may be deeply religious and perhaps even a priest or preacher (of whatever religious system The Protagonist respects). His moral judgment is unlikely to be wrong, and is ignored at great peril.
Compare Morality Chain, where a character is kept on the straight and narrow against what would otherwise be his nature. Often one of the roles of The Consigliere. See also Good Angel, Bad Angel, which is about creating, out of whole cloth, an instance of this character and its Evil Counterpart instead of finding them in a more realistic way. Contrast The Corrupter.
Truth in Television, or so one would hope.
- Noi the lizard in The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer serves as an animal mentor and a conscience for Yuuhi. Noi is quite concerned about Yuuhi's desire to see the world destroyed.
- In Digimon Adventure 02, Wormmon is the conscience to Ken, the Digimon emperor who badly mistreats his loyal companion.
- Puck from Berserk tries to be this for Guts, calling him out on his less-than-heroic decisions and actions. Guts being Guts, however, he doesn't much care a lot of the time.
- Riza Hawkeye crosses this with Morality Chain for Roy Mustang in Fullmetal Alchemist, along with being his bodyguard and personal assistant. Part of her explicitly-stated job description is to make sure he achieves his goals only through upright means - and to shoot him if he strays from what they have agreed is the righteous path. Since they are extremely close, she's not keen on the shooting thing (though she'll do it if she must), so when the time comes for her to keep that promise she does her level best to talk him down first.
- Siegfried Kircheis serves as this for Reinhard von Lohengramm in Legend of Galactic Heroes and continues to serve as one even after his death.
- Death Note features a stark reversal of this trope. Light Yagami is the Villain Protagonist, but when he temporarily surrenders his memories of being Kira as part of an Evil Plan, he serves this function for Hero Antagonist L, who is willing to torture and imprison anyone he suspects of being connected to Kira.
- Kitty Pryde developed into this for the X-Men, doing her best to ensure the group's pro-mutant agenda doesn't take them into Well-Intentioned Extremist territory.
- Hellblazer: During Garth Ennis' run, Constantine suspects the First of the Fallen was intended to serve as The Conscience to God- a conscience that can be beaten up and thrown away at leisure.
- The Flash: Barry Allen, the second Flash, is this for the DCU and more specifically for Wally. He was called "Saint" for a while when he was dead, that means something, huh?
- In the argentinian comic book Dago, Enfeldt, the ruthless leader of a sect of fanatical lutheran Lanzichenecchi that are currently sacking Rome as part of the army of Charles V, is constantly followed by an unnamed mercenary who, while not depicted as any less evil than any other looter, act as a sort of voice of reason for him. He turns down a plan for a suicidal attack on the castle of the Pope, and tells Enfeldt to be happy with the takeover of Rome already and ease his fanatical zeal. Later, when Enfeltd chases Dago, the titular protagonist, into a burning building just for the sake of fighting him (as Dago has repeatedly thwart his plans while trying to defend Rome), the mercenary try to convince him to let go and get away, but it's rebuked, and leaves while cursing Enfeltd's madness. Enfeldt is killed by Dago one page later, and the mercenary is never seen again.
- Calvin and Hobbes: Although Hobbes will often accompany Calvin in his mischief, he serves as Calvin's moral compass on a many occasion. He tries, anyway.
- In the Persona 5 fanfic, The Evil Queen, Akira's Guardian Entity Arsene is his conscience. Akira wants nothing to do with the dangers of the Metaverse and Arsene, being part of Akira, calls him out on his cowardice and warns him that Makoto Niijima can only get worse unless they put a stop to her.
- In the Dragon Age: Inquisition fanfic Walking in Circles, Evelyn is this to Solas. Due to his past, he tends to be rather selfish and arrogant at times; but with Evelyn's influence and her constantly calling him out, along with his love for her, his behaviour has changed quite a bit. Eventually, he will help others not just for his own benefit, but because it's something she would do. After Wisdom's death, Solas becomes so consumed by his rage that he doesn't snap out of his state until he realizes that his actions have hurt Evelyn and caused her to fear him.
- Unbreakable Red Silken Thread: Arguably Cody's greatest impact on Heather and the reason their relationship has become so strong is his ability to steer her more negative personality traits when they get the better of her.
- The Bolt Chronicles: While Rhino often plays the role of advisor and confidant for Bolt and Mittens, in "The Blood Brother," the hamster crosses into this territory by shaming Bolt into recognizing his increasing intolerance towards Mittens:
"Just remember, Bolt," said the hamster purposefully. "I've always looked up to you in the past, and I really hope I can continue to do so in the future. In your heart, you know what needs to happen here."
- Jiminy Cricket is appointed Pinocchio's conscience in the Walt Disney animation.
- In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, in every scene with the Archdeacon he's trying to talk Judge Claude Frollo out of his more heinous acts by appealing to his fear of damnation. In the Archdeacon's final scene, Frollo ignores the Archdeacon's advice, and pushes him down a flight of stairs. In the novel they were the same character. This along with the Archdeacon's role in the movie, has caused viewers to speculate that at least metaphorically, they are the same man, with the Archdeacon representing Frollo's ignored conscience.
- To a lesser extent, the gargoyles serve as this for Quasimodo, twice being the catalyst to spur him into action after a Heroic BSoD.
- Riley Anderson from Inside Out has five; her emotions that live in her mind. Though as a downside, seeing as they just affect her mind, if she gets into any physical danger they can't do much to help her out of it.
- Maui of Moana has a living tattoo that acts as a conscience.
- In the movie Necessary Roughness Scott Bakula's character (Paul Blake) abandons the team. When Jason Bateman's character joins him.
Paul Blake: You can't just walk away.
Jarvis Edison: You did.
Paul Blake: How did I end up with Jiminy Cricket?
- In Ever After, Leonardo da Vinci might count as this for Prince Henry. He consults with him on important decisions and talks philosophically, looking to Leonardo to help guide him. And Leonardo's the one to call him out for the way he's acting near the end.
- Visas and Virtue: Chiune Sugihara's wife Yukiko, who urges him to do what he knows is right and issue visas for the Jewish refugees who are fleeing the Nazis
- In the original book of Hammer's Slammers stories by David Drake, Danny Pritchard ends up as Colonel Hammer's conscience, as Hammer's been too hardened by war to recognize when he's gone over the line.
- In PC Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath, heroine Jame, who was raised among the Big Bad's minions, doesn't trust her own judgment as to right or wrong. During the first two books, Marc is the Conscience, her solid moral center; from halfway through book 3, Brier takes over the role, in a much sterner and harder-to-please way. Both of them inspire Jame's moral development.
- Bunny Manders in E.W. Hornung's Raffles stories. He always ends up helping in the burglaries, but never manages to do anything alone, and often prefers that they fail.
- Cassie from Animorphs, though the others are not always willing to listen to her, and sometimes her ideas cause serious problems, like when she let Tom escape with the morphing cube to stop Jake from having to kill him.
- Hermione in Harry Potter constantly reminds her two friends which school rule they're breaking in their latest plan. This diminishes over the course of the series until she's the one suggesting the rule-breaking activity.
Ron: We're a bad influence on her.
- Legacy of the Dragokin: Wispy tries to keep Benji out of the trouble and tell the most responisble option.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: The blunt Ser Davos Seaworth is this to King Stannis Baratheon (which utterly confounds the toadies in his court). There is only one person who can truly get a sulking Stannis to pause and rethink his actions before he really gets himself into hot water.
- Mark Twain wrote a short story where a man's conscience is an evil little imp that exists solely to torment him about his every action (and we do mean every action: not giving change to a beggar is proof of selfishness while feeding a tramp promotes laziness). The man's conscience is eventually defeated when his beloved Purity Sue aunt drops by and reproaches him for several actions, causing his conscience to, aha, fall unconscious, letting him rip the thing apart bare-handed and Jump Off The Slippery Slope into villainy, ending the story with an advertisement for a clearance sale on all these homeless people he's got tied up in his basement.
- The Dresden Files:
- The hero Harry Dresden has done some dark things in his life. At the age of 16, he killed his adoptive father and mentor in magic after the man tried to brainwash Harry and sent a powerful demon after Harry. Since then, he has been fighting the darker urges of his nature, embracing the darker side of magic. One person who helps him stay off that path is Michael Carpenter, a genuine paladin. Michael is the one Harry will go to if he feels he is in a moral quandary and cannot find an out. In the fifteenth book Skin Game Michael shakes Harry from his self-imposed guilt trip over failing so many people by calling him out for being an arrogant and prideful man who sets his standards for goodness so high Harry fails to reach them. This moment and later when Michael calls Harry a good man is enough to lift his spirits.
- In a reverse, Michael also sees Harry like this. Harry will do the darker path if it means pursuing a greater good. He will take burdens upon his shoulders Michael is thankful to God he never has to bear. In the short story "The Warrior," Michael is about to strike down in his hatred a man who tried to kill Harry, kidnapped Michael's daughter and strapped a bomb to her, in order to get two Holy Swords Michael and another paladin left in Harry's care, both believing it is God's Will they rest there. The man, a priest, believes they were deceived and God wants him to do these things to get the Swords back. Harry calls Michael out, saying Michael cannot kill him like that. If he has to be killed, Harry will do it, but Michael cannot be the one to strike him. This is enough to calm Michael down and shows the man mercy instead of wrath.
- John Rumford in Victoria is a downplayed example. Rumford is a rather hardboiled ex-military freedom fighter himself, but nonetheless often plays this role to the leader of the revolution, Colonel Kraft, arguing against his more ruthless policies. Rarely successfully, however.
- Angel: Cordelia after she received the visions. She made sure Angel kept his focus on 'helping the helpless' rather than vengeance or making money.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tara fits this role, especially in season 6. When Willow disregards Tara's advice, things tend to get...bad. She also plays this role towards Buffy, to some degree. Rather than being Christian, like most examples of this, Tara's a (spiritual, in contrast to Willow, who sees her magic as more of a tool) Wiccan.
- Community: Shirley Bennett tries to play this trope for the study group. It's frequently subverted, however, since Shirley tends to view "being the group's conscience" as "getting everyone to abide by her fundamentalist Christian beliefs through excessive self-righteous nagging whether they believe in them or not", and, even if she didn't, it's pretty clear that her tendencies towards being a rather selfish Hypocrite mean that she's not the best person for the role in any case. If anyone could be said to really be the group's conscience, in many cases, it's actually Annie (who is herself still pretty flawed).
- Doctor Who: According to Donna, this is why the Doctor needs companions, so they can stop him before he goes too far. Needless to say, she's right: while travelling alone, the Doctor ends up risking the future of human space exploration because he can by saving a woman destined to die in order to inspire those that make it happen. The woman in question ends up committing suicide to save the future in defiance to what the Doctor has become.
- Firefly: Shepherd Book is a Good Shepherd trying to steer the Serenity out of the darker shade of grey. Wash, too, but Book's vocation makes one expect it more.
- Game of Thrones:
- Davos lampshades his role as this in "Second Sons" when he points out that Stannis has come to him because he wants Davos to talk him out of his current course of action and that Stannis keeps him around because he needs someone to tell him when he's gone too far. He's left at Castle Black during Stannis's last campaign, and Stannis indeed does go too far in an attempt to ensure victory for his army. Emphasis on last campaign.
- Maester Luwin to Theon. Theon wants to listen to Maester Luwin, but believes he's gone too far to turn back.
- Barristan is Dany's voice of reason and essentially her mentor, guiding her to fair decisions and regaling her with fond stories of her family.
- House: Dr. Wilson to House. He reminds him to try and think of adhering to values like the "do unto others" thingie and the "keeping your promises" thingie, although that doesn't at all mean that he's never petty himself.
- Lucifer: In the second episode of the series, Detective Chloe Decker plays this role when she and Lucifer (playing The Corrupter) are talking to a man whose protege has turned evil, and said protege just tried to kill the man. Lucifer's bodyguard/bartender/servant handed the two guns only unknown to any but her, the protege's was unloaded. In a twist, while the man does fire his gun at the protege, Chloe's words about being able to change influence Lucifer to the point he saves the protege so the Detective can arrest him for his crimes.
- Revolution: You can almost see Charlie dancing on Miles' shoulder, telling him to be a good boy, as shown in the episodes "Chained Heat" and "The Love Boat". Funny enough, Miles seems to act as this to her at some points, as shown in the episode "Sex and Drugs".
- In Sherlock, Molly Hooper gradually becomes this to Sherlock over the course of the series. Despite her often quiet behavior, she's probably the only person in the main cast outside of Watson who is capable of calling out Sherlock on his bad behaviour and getting him to feel ashamed, admit that he was wrong and apologise for his actions. Despite some amount of tension rising from these standoffs between him and her, Molly's emotional honesty ultimately helps foster their friendship and improve Sherlock's behaviour to others. And she is the only one outside of John to call him out on his complete and utter stupidity for doing drugs, while slapping him in the face, and getting him to feel like a complete (if not utter) moron for doing so.
- In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Alice", B'Elanna Torres acts in this role to Tom Paris when he is dealing with Alice (the ship that has control of him) as The Corrupter.
- Supernatural: Sam was usually this to Dean initially, but in later seasons as Sam became his own antithesis it's more often than not Dean who warns Sam whether what he's doing is right or wrong. Bobby also acts as this to both of them.
- In The Walking Dead, Michonne has become this to Rick, often reining him back from making hasty decisions that will result in violence or death. Despite shrugging off others, Rick actually listens to Michonne's advice and will change a plan of action if she's firmly opposed to it.
- Frankie Avalon's late '50s tune "Conscience" deals with a lothario who sets out to win young girls' hearts only to break them, until his conscience butts in and tries to dissuade him.
- "The Return Of The Son Of Monster Magnet" on Frank Zappa's Freak Out starts off with Zappa playing the voice of Suzy Creamcheese' conscience.
- On John Zorn's Concept Album Spillane built around the Mike Hammer novels by Mickey Spillane actor Robert Quine voices Mike Hammer's conscience through an Inner Monologue.
- In an early 60s hit, James Darren battles with his conscience on whether or not to break a girl's heart in the aptly titled "Conscience".
- David Blaine is this for Criss Angel in Interstitial Actual Play. In his backstory during his time as Yen Sid's student, Criss sought out Darkness to become stronger and David tried to save him. Criss banished him, so now David exists inside Criss' heart as the voice that keeps him in the Light..
- Jerry Springer: The Opera Jerry is haunted by his "Inner Valkyrie" who admonishes him for profiting from the misery of others
- Bill McDonagh has been described by the developers as acting as Ryan's conscience in BioShock. The player arguably has Tenenbaum and Atlas who advise the player, Tenenbaum especially on issues like Little Sisters. Except they are both completely different characters.
- Knights of the Old Republic: Carth Onasi and Bastila Shan are trying to be this for your Player Character, presenting two slightly different flavors of it. Carth is the first "real" party member you get, and more or less takes the job on himself, arguing for Light Sided actions and being loyal to the Republic and its ideals. Bastila is aware of what your character is, and has been ordered by the Jedi to be your Morality Chain due to the Force Bond that's present, and (usually) arguing for options that reflect the Jedi's interests and ideals, which are not always the same as the Republic's. The Player Character, however, can repay the favor to Bastila, if they can convince her to turn back to the light in the end.
- Spec Ops: The Line:
- Adams is this in Walker's recon squad, and is the one who urges his captain to prioritize rescuing civilians about to be executed over freeing a mission-critical ally. By the end of the game, though...
- Konrad oddly enough acts as this for the later half of the game. The rogue colonel frequently lambastes Walker over the radio for killing his men and putting his trust in a CIA team that does not have Dubai's best interests at heart. And in the end, not only is Konrad proven absolutely right, it's also revealed that this voice on the radio was the product of Walker's mental breakdown - Konrad literally was Walker's conscience, trying to get him to stop his misguided mission and take responsibility for the things he'd done in pursuit of it.
- Between each chapter in Until Dawn, a psychologist called Dr Hill has a session with the player where he questions your choices and actions. While it seems he has no involvement in the plot aside from interacting with the player, It's eventually revealed he does have a very important role in the story. He's a psychotic delusion of Josh's therapist and an internal part of his mind that's trying to stop him from going crazy from grief from his sister's death and to get Josh to abandon his little revenge scheme.
- The Elder Scrolls: Clavicus Vile, the Daedric Lord of power, trickery, and bargains, has Barabas. He holds a significant portion of Vile's power and takes on many forms, most commonly appearing as a Big Friendly Dog, while typically acting to balance out the Daedra's wilder impulses. In Oblivion, when Vile tasks the Hero of Kvatch with retrieving the sword Umbra, Barbas does his best to convince them otherwise since he foresaw that it would bring chaos and destruction to Vile's realm. (He was right.) In Skyrim the two are separated after having a falling-out and Barbas asks the Last Dragonborn to help resolve it, all while warning them not to make any deals with Vile. At the end of the quest Vile will try to convince the player to kill Barbas' mortal form, which would banish him back to Oblivion for a few centuries and give Vile the full use of his powers without having a conscience to listen to anymore.
- Heart of Mad Rat Dead is literally The Heart of the Mad Rat/Heart duo. Frequently, he comes to admonish Mad Rat whenever he believes the rat is going too far. Ultimately, it is thanks to Heart that Mad Rat becomes a better person.
- DSBT InsaniT: Amber tries to coax the more abrasive characters, like Alex and Killer, into being nice and doing the right thing.
- Digger acts as the newborn Shadowchild's conscience and helps it develop one of its own. This is very difficult since a) it's a sort of demon and b) it has absolutely no reference point for "good" or "bad" and c) they live in a world where things like Carnivore Confusion can be a really big problem.
- Laryk serves as Hawke's preacher and conscience in Fated Feather providing the only moral compass that exists outside of the Protagonist-Centered Morality. Her success was mixed; then, nonexistent.
- Freefall: Florence tries to be Sam's conscience. Very hard and frustrating job, but slowly Sam seems to be changing a bit.
- A curious inversion at the same time. Sam is a member of a species of invertebrate scavengers with a Blue-and-Orange Morality. While Florence urges Sam to be more honest (which often strikes Sam as being genuinely immoral), Sam returns the favor with attempts to teach her to be more rebellious and challenge authority figures who are corrupt, criminal, or simply would look hilarious with pie on their face (It Makes Sense in Context).
- Ménage à 3:
- Gary occasionally comments on other characters' unthinking amorality, and may also act as an unintended damper on their behavior; he has, rather unfairly, been labelled "the human cold shower".
- During her first appearance, new Only Sane Woman Peggy suddenly if briefly acts as a Conscience. She doesn't repeat the function very often, but the next time she rips into Zii for hurting Sonya is textbook.
- Blackwing has appointed himself as Vaarsuvius' conscience in The Order of the Stick, whispering in their ear whenever a moral decision has to be made.
- Ruby in Sticky Dilly Buns only actually gets to lecture Dillon seriously a couple of times, but there's a definite sense that after that, having her around reminds him that he should consider the consequences of his actions. She's well suited to the role, also offering Zii a polite moral nudge at one point, although her messed-up relationship with her sister Amber makes her less convincing when she gets moralistic in that direction.
- In Gargoyles, there is an episode with a golem. The role of one of the characters in that episode is to guide the golem's actions and help it stay in the right.
- In Hey Arnold!, the titular character often acted as this to any other characters, to the point where he was the kid that everyone went to for advice. In one episode, the characters even became annoyed with him, but after their actions made their situation worse, they realized how much they needed Arnold to help them.
- In the Justice League, it was initially Superman but it soon became The Flash. This is a plot point in the Cadmus storyline where it strongly implies that if Flash dies (particularly if he dies at Lex Luthor's hands), Superman will go crazy and kill Lex with his heat vision in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. When the moment comes where Superman believes that Lex has killed Flash, he comes very close to doing it, but in the end relents and says "I'm not the man who kills Lex Luthor. Right now I wish to God that I was, but I'm not." Luckily, Flash turns out to be alive after all.
- Kyle is often the one placed in this unenviable role in South Park as he's often stuck playing the voice of reason as well as the conscience in a show featuring Eric Cartman. While he can at times be a bit of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold at times, he's usually the one trying to do the right thing.
- General Iroh to his nephew Zuko in Avatar: The Last Airbender, steering him away from revenge and toward personal enlightenment.
- Wilt from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends is the straightest example, though some of the other characters embody aspects of the trope. Wilt will insist on a straight-laced following of the rules to the letter; Eduardo will not go along with anything he believes is wrong regardless of what the rules say (but is also naive and easy to dupe); Mac will bend or break rules he doesn't agree with for what he perceives to be the greater good (though occasionally "the greater good" is "whatever Mac wants for his own selfish reasons").
- Private of The Penguins of Madagascar is primarily The Heart, but assumes this role whenever Skipper and/or the others end up going too far. Though usually holding the moral high ground, he also tends to be rather timid when first voicing his concerns, gradually losing his patience as Hilarity Ensues.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Spike often attempts to provide common sense to Twilight Sparkle when she is more apt to ignore her own in favor of book smarts.