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White-and-Grey Morality

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"There really aren't that many evil men out there. It's mostly just good men working at cross purposes."

Near the very idealistic end of the many Shades of Conflict (only Good Versus Good is more), a setting with White and Grey Morality features no truly evil characters, but ranges through a spectrum of squeaky-clean heroes, slightly more sarcastic heroes, borderline heroes, Well Intentioned Extremists, and the occasional Anti-Villain at worst. Conflict is generated either through misguided ideals or simple misunderstandings, so there is often an undercurrent of "if only people would sit down and talk to one another, they'd find they're not so different after all".

Expect a great deal of dog-petting and Heel Face Turning, from characters only nominally "heels" to begin with. Someone will likely say Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers! at some point.

This does not necessarily imply that there is little conflict or that the conflict is lightweight. Two powerful forces working at cross-purposes can cause an amazing amount of destruction and mayhem even though both of them have good reasons for what they're trying to do.

Contrast Black-and-Gray Morality, where an Anti-Hero is the best you can expect from the good guys; because True Art Is Angsty, though, this trope is a lot less common than that one, at least among works intended for older audiences. If the antagonists only became so due to a negative influence from outside, this may overlap with Rousseau Was Right. In that case, the occasional villain may pop up, but they will inevitably be shown to be a victim of horrible circumstances that shaped them into what they became (rather than simply expressing a monstrous nature they always possessed). See also Rousseau Was Right, Both Sides Have a Point, Good Versus Good, A Lighter Shade of Grey, Grey-and-Gray Morality, and Morality Kitchen Sink.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Angelic Layer and Chobits lack any really evil characters. There are lots of less pleasant individuals, like the cheaters in the former and the outright perverts in the latter, but the closest things to villains in the storylines are concerned about victory like the protagonist or are interested in protecting other persocoms from the damage Chi could potentially cause.
  • In ARIA, the planet Aqua (formerly known as Mars) is populated by nothing but well-meaning, friendly people—or at least Neo-Venezia is. Every time someone seems to act in less than 100% positive manner it generally is only a matter of slight misunderstandings, which mostly get resolved quickly.
  • Astro Boy: While minor human crooks and such may be genuinely evil, the Big Bad Dr. Tenma and related characters are just Well Intentioned Extremists. If a robot is portrayed as a villain, it's always due to a misunderstanding. This is in contrast to the rest of Osamu Tezuka's work, where pretty much everyone but the main character is always a bastard. Especially Rock.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura has no true villains either; in the first arc, the Cards are portrayed more as mischievous beings than truly evil troublemakers and are all subject to Defeat Means Friendship, and in the second arc, even the Big Bad Eriol is quickly hinted (and revealed at the end) to be much more of a Trickster Mentor. All the intelligent characters are presented as decent people, which underscores the "Humans Are Good" part of the trope.
  • Digimon Tamers proves that, yes, you can have intense conflict without anyone who is properly "bad." Every Big Bad is actually trying to prevent threats to their worlds, and you can see why they consider the other side to be bad news. Even the final Greater-Scope Villain is just a program acting on its orders; see Gone Horribly Right.
    • It goes even farther back, actually. In Digimon Adventure 02, almost all of the main antagonists (Ken, Oikawa, Blackwargreymon, even Arukenimon and Mummymon) are revealed to possess sympathetic traits or motives. Most, in fact, turn out to be pawns of the true Big Bad, Myotismon, who is a straight-up Card-Carrying Villain.
  • In Fairy Tail, the majority of the major villains have reasonable and sympathetic motives. The first one is trying to release a monster so he can defeat it, which is the thing his teacher died doing; he merely wants to prove himself by surpassing her. Another notable villain was a slavemaster who spent 8 years building a tower to revive the most dangerous dark wizard in history because he was brainwashed into thinking it would bring about a Utopia. Both of these later pulled a Heel–Face Turn. Some later enemies, like the Oración Seis and Grimoire Heart guilds had guild masters and some members truly in the black morality pitch. However, most of the guild members were given sympathetic backstories and reasons for joining these guilds — like how Ultear's entire "evilness" is because of a misunderstanding in her childhood.
  • Godzilland: While the central Godzilla series swerves towards Black-and-Gray Morality, the morality spectrum is flipped in this light-hearted spinoff. Godzilla, Gojirin, Mothra, and the other Kaijus are clearly good guys, ranging from Jerk with a Heart of Gold to Nice Guy. Even King Ghidorah and Gigan are Godzilla's good friends too. The most antagonistic character is Mecha-Godzilla who serves as The Bully, but his motivation is that he simply wants friends.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya. There are pretty much no villains, aside from maybe, possibly Asakura Ryouko, and even then she's just a really, really, really far extremist. All forces are genuinely trying to create the world they think is ideal, and only very few seem too extremist for rationality. The Data Entity wants to just "observe"; the Organization wants to maintain the world as it is; the Time Travelers want to keep a Stable Time Loop. Haruhi herself isn't evil, just a Jerkass who wants a little more excitement, and Kyon just wants his peace. Even the Anti-SOS Brigade has somewhat stinted yet good intentions: Fujiwara wants to keep his race from being "slaves to time travel", Kuyou Suou just wants to communicate in the first place, Tachibana Kyouko just thinks the world is more ideal under Sasaki's influence, and Sasaki wants to figure out the truth behind everything. Not to mention the fact that it might even be better for Sasaki to become God.
  • Hybrid X Heart Magias Academy Ataraxia is a pretty surprising and unexpected example of this trope. Captain Kizuna Hida discovers the conflict's nature after realizing that his opponents weren't as bad as he thought. The conflict between Earth/Lemuria and the AU/Batlantis Empire is this. The people from Batlantis invaded because Genesis, the pillar that supports the heaven and earth in their world, is crumbling down and they need to steal lots of magic power to stop this and prevent the end of the world. Unfortunately, with few exceptions, they don't really care what happens to the world they are invading or the people that live in it. On the other hand the people from "Lemuria" just want to defend their world and rescue those that were left behind when they were invaded. At first they aren't even aware that they are fighting against other humans.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Steel Ball Run is founded on this. While people like Gyro and Lucy are good people (Johnny eventually comes around as well, though he's much grayer than most heroes), none of the main villains are really evil, per se. Diego wants to win because it's his job and to fulfill his dream of being wealthy to avenge his mother. Funny Valentine, on the other hand, wants the parts because he feels that they are too dangerous for anyone else, and he wants to use them to further the gain of his country and make his citizens' lives better. When the main villain is a guy that Jesus Christ himself approves of, you know this trope is in full effect.
  • The closest things A Little Snow Fairy Sugar has to a "villain" would be Joe Crow, who is not so much that as just a typical bully. Ginger is fairly callous, Basil and Cinnamon are rather mischievous, Greta is a rich snob and sees Saga as a rival, but everyone else in the show is usually super-nice to one another.
  • Little Witch Academia (2017) goes this way as well. Virtually no character is truly evil or even a complete Jerkass, while everyone else is good-hearted. Akko is an All-Loving Hero who uses her magic to make her friends safe and happy; in fact, her magic is created by her desire to make others happy. Even Professor Croix, the Big Bad, winds up undergoing a Heel–Face Turn by the end.
  • Lupin III:
    • In the anime, while the titular character and his gang are criminals, they wouldn't do anything really heinous, so even at their worst, the crew are Anti Villains. Their antagonist, Inspector Zenigata, is a Hero Antagonist, and their relationship can be described as an almost friendly rivalry, rather than confrontation between criminals and law enforcement. Whenever a serious bad guy comes up, Lupin and Zenigata usually ally against him — though they always resume their antics when the alliance is no longer needed.
    • Averted in the original manga, and how so. In the first ten volumes of the manga and at points in World's Most Wanted, Lupin was an unapologetic and reprehensible rapist, murderer, kidnapper, and arsonist. The very first volume includes scenes of Lupin raping a woman and murdering a police officer. The anime is of significantly lighter tone.
  • The Lyrical Nanoha franchise was like this until Force (or not):
    • The Evil Matriarch Precia Testarossa, whose villainy defined the original series, was, as Alicia reveals in Fate's Happy Place sequence in A's, has originally been a very kind and gentle person. But exactly because she was so gentle, her psyche couldn't handle Alicia's sudden death and she "broke". The Movie expands her character to be even more of a Tragic Villain.
    • A's is the example of this trope in the franchise. The only entity that can be considered villainous is NachtWal, a self-defense program of an ancient artifact, which was corrupted long ago under unrevealed circumstances, while the rest of the cast only attempt to do what they believe would be best for everyone and angst heavily about having to hurt others ("It was such a small wish..."). Basically, the Team Nanoha vs. Wolkenritter is a Good Versus Good conflict.
    • StrikerS seems to feature a straight-up Mad Scientist villain with Jail Scaglietti until The Reveal that he was made that way by a group of old men who spent their youth fighting to stop a senseless, centuries-long war and were desperately seeking a means to prevent such wars from breaking out in the future. There is also the fact that the "Doctor" has a very family-like relationship with his Numbers and not in a Pet the Dog way: even after seeing the error of his (and their own) ways, none of the Numbers turns their back on Scaglietti, continuing to see him as a parent figure.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing seems to like this trope, too, at least for most of the main characters. Save for the few like Dekim Barton, most of the characters desire justice and peace, even if their ways of achieving it are questionable, as pointed out by Relena Peacecraft. Fortunately, Everyone Lives except Treize Kushranada, who willingly dies by his own choice, and the world achieves true peace as Relena sees it. This way, Gundam Wing is a total opposite to the Universal Century series.
  • Momokyun Sword features a battle between the Celestial Maidens and the Oni Clan. While the Maidens are on the side of good and their main ally Momoko is the heroine, the Oni Clan is shown to not really be evil but a clan trying to restore their former glory and their main face comes in the form of Onihime, a young oni girl who while strong a strong rival to Momoko is closer to her friend than enemy. Even the oni king is shown to be a pretty cool guy.
  • Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit has a total of two human characters in it whose motivations and methods are presented as unsympathetic, and they're both one-shot. The main conflict is entirely caused by a misunderstanding by the traditionalistic/dogmatic anti villains, and the fact that their cause manages to come across as understandable when it involves child-killing speaks volumes for the tone of the series.
  • In My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! there are no genuinely bad people, at least among characters who actually appear. The closest thing to a 'villain' is a teenager who wants revenge on people who killed his mother, but only because a ghost is telling him to do it. The ghost itself wasn't a particularly bad guy either, just some dude who was trying to save his family but was killed for Knowing Too Much.
  • In Popotan, the most evil thing anyone ever did (in this case, Keith) was attempt to kill someone in order to prevent the sisters' secrets from leaking out to the general public (which he never tried again after Ai calls him out for it). There was also that ghost girl who puts others to sleep, but also for understandable reasons.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica. The characters split fairly cleanly into Idealists (Madoka, Sayaka, Mami, Nagisa) and Pragmatists (Kyouko, Homura, Walpurgisnacht and the witches, Kyubey). The latter group are the antagonists, but are often right (and in fact, Homura turned out to be the real protagonist of the story).
  • A lot of Slice of Life anime have no villains: Sketchbook, Lucky Star, Strawberry Marshmallow, Candy☆Boy, Azumanga Daioh, and others.
  • Star Driver is full of this. The Glittering Crux want to use the Humongous Mecha Lost Technology to achieve world peace (by force, but the force part is only implied and never stated outright.) Many of the Crux deplore loss of civilian life and go out of their way to prepare ways to get the innocent out of the way in the event if a crisis (such as keeping a luxury ship large enough to carry the population of a small island on hand). The only reason they're at odds with the heroes at all is the "force" part. Both parties are fully aware of this and even act as genuine friends when off of the battlefield. There are a total of two named characters who are portrayed as genuinely bad and unlikeable people in the whole of the series, which stands out for its surprisingly large cast.
  • Stellvia of the Universe is all about this. The heroines are kind and selfless while there isn't even a single negative character in the series — even the aliens are good. Or at least, they expressed regret after slaughtering a Keiti wing almost wholesale.
  • Towa no Quon: Although the group out to capture awakened children (dead or alive) is a very dark shade of gray, their ultimate goal is to protect the public. For now.
  • The Vision of Escaflowne qualifies. Even the Big Bad is eventually revealed as a particularly ruthless Well-Intentioned Extremist. The closest any character comes to "evil" is Dilandau, but s/he turns out to be more Brainwashed and Crazy than anything else.

  • Astro City, as a whole, runs on this as part of its optimistic Reconstruction of The Silver Age of Comic Books. While there are villains and monsters and evildoers, their motives are frequently due to their own good intentions, and they are ultimately defeated by the optimistic heroes regardless. Many villains have pulled a Heel–Face Turn after realizing how pointless and self-destructive their current paths are.
  • The DCU: Most of the heroes are straight-up heroic and they do not commit morally questionable acts most of the time except Batman while most of the villains have redeeming qualities and sympathetic backstories.
  • In Season 9 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Drusilla returns, sane, and seeming to have pulled a genuine Heel–Face Turn. So just what is she up to these days? She encountered a demon that feeds on trauma (the reason she is so well), trained it to work only in that regard, and sets up a shelter for those who have been traumatized, willing to have the demon feed on them so the pain they feel goes away if they ask for it. Angel sees the whole thing as an abomination and Mind Rape, believing people must suffer for what's happened to them and that if they did not feel bad about (in his case, Angelus) there's no reason not to make amends. Faith, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have a problem with it since the people are going willingly. After Angel kills the demon, Drusilla goes back to being a vicious Slayer-killing psychotic.
  • Gaston Lagaffe. Gaston wants to sleep, have fun, protect the environment, etc., and the people around him want him to get his work done and obey traffic laws. If Gaston thought his actions through at all, there wouldn't be any problems, but of course he doesn't.
  • Most X-Men stories where the antagonists are humans or government forces. Barring genocidal maniacs like Reverend Styker, in most cases their motive is simply the belief that mutants should be accounted for in some way.

    Fan Works 
  • Bad Future Crusaders notably had next to no outright evil characters, with even malicious characters like Lightning Dust and The Princess having reasonable and even benevolent (if a bit extreme) intents behind their actions, and tons of Mooks being shown to be entirely decent folk who are Just Following Orders. The only two undoubtedly evil characters are Merrilay, a psychotic nihilist, and Twilight Sparkle, the Big Bad herself, and even they are examples of a Tragic Villain and a Fallen Hero respectively.
  • In The Bridge, most of the heroines and heroes are fairly selfless, kind, and noble; though some aren't always soft. The villainous forces they are fighting however have their morality all over the spectrum. While some like Legion and King Sombra are undoubtedly evil, there are others. Aria Blaze and Sonata Dusk are not above Mind Control and causing Hate Plague, but do earnestly care for their group somewhat. On an even more gray example, a group of four sympathetic villains working for the Big Bad all have very redeeming qualities and goals one might expect a hero to ask for.
  • Christmas with a Corduroy: Wendy, a free-spirited teenage girl, vs Lynda Pines, a nasty, overprotective parent.
  • The Rise of Darth Vulcan: The Mane 6 vs. Darth Vulcan. Darth Vulcan is undoubtedly a criminal, but underneath he's just a Jerkass who obtained the power of the Alicorn Amulet, and proves to be a Noble Demon, not killing anypony who didn't deserve it, keeping one's word, and keeping his Mooks well fed. The fact that he is the Villain Protagonist allows the reader to see things from his perspective. The Mane 6 are clearly defending their town from a dangerous criminal, and actually want to save Vulcan from a dangerous power that may be controlling him, but their mistakes are due to being out of their depth when dealing with someone like him.
  • The Mist Has Fallen is about the conflict between SHIELD wanting to know why enhanced teens suddenly appear everywhere in the country and if they're going to be a domestic threat, and the demigods trying to steer clear from noisy secret agencies and fade back into the shadows to peacefully live.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Book of Life, the main conflict is between Manolo and Xibalba. While the former is unambiguously good, the latter is not truly evil, just lonely. Chakal is the only true villain in the movie, and he gets little screen time.
  • Pixar:
    • Brave might fit for the "vicious animals are True Neutral" rule. Even if it's one hell of an Animal Nemesis who used to be human, he's clearly grateful to be freed from his cursed body and the pain that came with it.
    • Finding Nemo: Marlin may be overprotective, but he means well for his son, the titular Nemo. Dory herself is an airhead, but she's a genuine Nice Girl who does her best despite her disability. Dr. Sherman took Nemo because he mistakenly believed he would not be able to survive on his own with a deformed fin, and Darla is a "fish-killer" because she is a child who doesn't know any better. The other antagonists of the film are simply mindless predators, too overtaken by their instincts to think rationally.
    • Monsters University, as many a college film, is this instead of the Black-and-White Morality of the original. The two protagonists (flawed people themselves) are only trying to prove their value in front of both the Dean Bitterman who expelled them from their major, and the Jerk Jock posse with whom they are competing. The dean is just trying to do her job, while it's implied that the jocks are cruel for the same reasons Sully was at the beginning of the film.
    • The original Toy Story. The main toys, Woody and Buzz, have their own personal flaws to deal with, but at heart, they are good-hearted toys who manage to get over said flaws. Sid is a Jerkass, but he's otherwise just a regular kid who likes playing in an unorthodox way with his toys. Unfortunately for him, the protagonists are Living Toys.
    • In Toy Story 2, Al is also a Jerkass and a slob who resorts to stealing Woody to sell him for hundreds of thousands of dollars, but not before at least trying to buy Woody legitimately. Also, while Stinky Pete may be revealed to be a Manipulative Bastard near the end of the movie, he does honestly think he's doing what's best for Woody and the others and certainly has a genuine friendliness to him in spite of his villainy. Plus, he has the Freudian Excuse of being an unsold toy who resents being overlooked by children.
    • Toy Story 4 brings it back as the only antagonistic character being Gabby Gabby, who like Stinky Pete is a toy who never had a child in their life and thus performs some questionable things to make her ends meet, though she's overall well-intentioned and, unlike Pete, doesn't end the movie being deemed as bad.
    • WALL•E, absolutely. On one hand, the titular WALL-E is a friendly and lovable robot with a sense of curiosity, and EVE starts off as cold and demanding until she Took a Level in Kindness. On the other hand, the villain of the film is a robot that was doing exactly what it was programmed to do by programmers who themselves just had incomplete information, and all the humans soon fell head over heels in love with the world as soon as they were jerked out of their reverie and take responsibility to work to undo their ancestors' mistakes.
  • In Paranorman, the titular Norman may be a bit quirky, but at heart, he's a kind-hearted kid who inevitably saves the day. As for the antagonists, the wrathful Aggie was a young innocent girl who was tragically hanged by The Judges for being accused of witchcraft, and The Judges were not only remorseful for their horrific deed, they also want to help the hero to stop Aggie's destruction of the town and convinces her to find forgiveness for their actions.
  • A common theme of Hayao Miyazaki's movies. The antagonists are sympathetic and/or have reasonable motivations, while the protagonists are kind-hearted, or they mature to be so.
    • Princess Mononoke: Ashitaka is very much an All-Loving Hero, but both Lady Eboshi and San had valid reasons for their actions. The enemy samurais seemed to be bad, but then, you feel if they had been explained then they too would have fair motivations.
  • In Skywhales the alien tribe just want to have enough to eat and the skywhales are just animals driven by instinct.
  • Superman vs. the Elite: Superman is definitely a good guy, but the Elite, rather than bad guys, are at worst anti-heroes; they do display actually heroic intentions, and hurting Black's team-mates typically make him really angry. In addition, while the film does end on the side of Superman, his black and white views of the world are heavily questioned not just by the Elite, but Lois and the ordinary citizens who suffer every time a villain Superman has spared escapes and kills more people. Neither solution is perfect, but White is considered the better choice in the end.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • None of the villains from Ant-Man and the Wasp are truly malicious. Ghost is desperately trying to survive and is only trying to steal the technology to cure her condition, whereas Bill Foster, though something of an antagonist, is trying to support Ava in curing her problem and prohibits her from committing any malicious acts. Both of them side with the heroes at the very end once the protagonists actually agree to help Ava with her problem. The only character that comes close to villainous is Sonny Burch, but he's a borderline Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain and is too pathetic to be considered evil.
  • Arrival: Everyone in the movie is trying to do what they think is in Earth's best interests. Even though China begins to become hostile to the aliens and nearly wages war on them, it is because they misunderstood what the aliens were trying to tell them and thought they were trying to turn humanity against each other for their own ends. Once Louise is able to convince the Chinese general that the aliens are peaceful, he has the army stand down.
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind — although Roy Neary's wife and kids might not agree about the film having no villains given their distress resulting from his possession. The ETs originally come across as if they're auditioning for The Exorcist, scaring Gillian half to death and then abducting her infant son, although he wanted to go, and they do return him later.
  • Deadpool 2: Colossus's arc in the film seems to be learning that things are not as simple as his "The Paragon/Idealistic" idea of being a hero seems to be. Deadpool points out how unrealistic this kind of heroism really is and manages to get him to fight dirty during his battle with Juggernaut (to impressive effect) and even gets him to swear as a last request from a dying Deadpool.
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: E.T., the kids, and later, Keys are in the white, and want to help the alien "phone home". Almost every authority figure other than Keys is in the gray because they do not want to harm E.T. in any way, but they aren't above bringing out their guns when he and the kids escape.
  • Interestingly for an Alien Invasion film, Evolution's conflict is summed up as this. The heroes (a biologist professor, a woman's volleyball coach, a wanna-be fireman, and a fiery redhead) may be a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, but they're overall decent people who nonetheless saved the world from certain destruction. The military play an antagonistic role in the story, but they have good reasons to contain and study the aliens in the first place (even if their leader is a Jerkass, but that's as bad as he gets). And as for the aliens, they're just hungry and confused animals with no concept of morality, which doesn't make them evil, but their ravenous appetite and rapid-paced evolution make them a serious global threat.
  • Falling Down: The movie has an increasingly violent man angry at the world, vs. a cop with his own issues and who can deal with them maturely. There are some real villains in the Latino gangbangers and the Neo-Nazi store owner, but they're secondary characters and aren't part of the film's main conflict between Foster and Prendergast.
  • Forbidden Planet. Morbius: it implies that even the worst people have good intentions.
  • Kwaidan:
    • "The Woman of the Snow": Minokichi is shown to be a truly kind man, whose only flaw is breaking a promise he kept for a decade. The Yuki-onna is a frightening snow being who freezes people to death, but it's strongly implied this is just part of her nature and she's also a loving wife and mother.
    • "Hoichi the Earless": Hoichi and the monks are shown to be incredibly kind, with the former's only flaw being a tendency to keep secrets from the latter. The Heike are life-draining ghosts, but also deeply Tragic Monsters stuck reliving the trauma of their deaths.
  • Mean Girls, somewhat surprisingly given its premise. Even the worst of the mean girls turns out to be more of a Jerkass Anti-Villain than a straight-up bad person, and while the main character becomes a mean girl herself, she turns good again by the end of the movie.
  • The Rock starts like this. On one side we have marines and an FBI chemist who try to save the hostages and prevent a terrorist from killing thousands. Opposing them is Noble Demon Well-Intentioned Extremist who wants his men to be honored as they deserve and their families supported and tries to avoid casualties as much as possible. Later turns into The Good, the Bad, and the Evil situation when Hummel's group gets divided and some of them want to launch the missiles for real, when Hummel was just bluffing.
  • Basically everyone in The Terminal has good intentions, the conflict stems from Viktor Navorski's pragmatic goodness versus Frank Dixon's adherence to the rules.
  • Thirteen Days: Kenny, Bobby, and JFK are the most traditional heroes, being inspiring if pragmatic figures. The Soviets don't want a war to start either, but like the Americans find themselves forced into an escalating crisis which they can't stop by themselves. The greys are the military hardliners, but even they are Well Intentioned Extremists who believe they're doing the right thing.
    Ambassador Dobrynin: [To RFK] You are a good man. Your brother is a good man. I assure you, there are other good men. Let us hope the will of good men is enough to stop the terrible strength of this thing that was put in motion.
  • Tiger Bay has a Sympathetic Murderer (possibly an Accidental Murderer) being pursued by a Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist.
  • In Warcraft (2016), with the obvious exception of the Big Bad Gul'dan, all major orc characters are shown to have some redeemable qualities, and it's made rather clear they are invading Azeroth because their own world is dying, making their motivations sympathetic. Meanwhile, humans are overall portrayed as unambiguously good and just defending themselves against the Horde's assaults.

  • In The Andromeda Strain, the conflict between the Wildfire team and the titular Andromeda Strain goes like this. The Wildfire team consists of Science Heroes trying to stop (or at least reduce) the dangers of the Andromeda Strain, and despite the latter's dangerous capabilities, the Andromeda Strain is an alien species of single-celled organisms that are simply following their biological code of survival.
  • A Christmas Carol: No character in the book is completely evil, except maybe Old Joe. The story is about a mean-spirited miser needing an attitude adjustment, which he eventually gets from three ghosts who are trying to teach him to care about others. Which he eventually does.
  • In Doctor Zhivago, most of the characters are treated sympathetically in one way or another, even the ones who come closest to being "villains": Komarovsky has some Pet the Dog moments in spite of all his manipulative seediness, and the two main communist characters, Strelnikov and Liberius, are portrayed as Well Intentioned Extremists swept up in the fervor of the Revolution rather than malicious murderers.
  • Rosemary Sutcliff's The Eagle of the Ninth portrays the main antagonists, the tribesmen of the North, in a sympathetic light. This is lampshaded in a conversation between the heroes while staying at the tribesmen's camp.
  • A lot of Orson Scott Card's writing, particularly in Ender's Saga, deals with the idea that no one is really evil, and it's all a matter of perspective. Usually. For instance, the Formics are discovered to have attacked humanity because they have a Hive Mind and didn't know each human was individually sentient. On the other end, the Descoladores of the later books are either seeking outright planetary conquest or are just too alien to comprehend. And the Big Bad of the Ender's Shadow spinoffs, Achilles, is most definitely evil.
  • D. D. Webb, the author of The Gods Are Bastards, has repeatedly expressed their dislike for totally evil characters (or, worse, totally evil races) in fantasy fiction, which is why the Bastardverse doesn't have any.
  • Grent's Fall is more about differing opinions and poor rulership than flat-out villainy; no viewpoint characters are outright evil.
  • The majority of books written by Timothy Zahn don't have many evil people at all. He doesn't really set up along the good guys and the bad guys. The Empire is not all bad. The New Republic is not all good. Other people have their own allegiances. Plenty of antagonists on any side are doing what they think will be best in the long run. He does have some actually unambiguous villains, but most of them at least have solid reasoning behind what they're doing. No one ever wakes up and decides to be evil.
    • In the Hand of Thrawn Duology, after all the bad blood Supreme Commander Pellaeon signed a peace treaty with President Gavrisom.
    • Zahn's non-Star Wars fiction tends to have a lot of this as well; The Conquerors Trilogy in particular features a galactic war caused by essentially a misunderstanding. The humans' standard "greet the unknown aliens" transmission is sent via radio, which causes varying degrees of pain for the non-human side of a First Contact scenario, and thus the aliens understandably interpret the greeting as an unprovoked attack. There are at least four, possibly more, distinct factions involved, none of whom act unjustifiably throughout the course of the brief but intense war that follows.
  • Honor Harrington certainly does feature many an irredeemable villain — and some truly, deeply unambiguous conflicts— but it's also at constant pains to point out that this trope is in play most of the time. In fact, the first part of the series (with the Manticore/Haven war) really only has five or so really evil characters, right at the top of the enemy food chain. The many dozens of other Havenite enemies given names and faces all tend toward My Country, Right or Wrong at worst.
  • The Last Dogs: After showing some Black-and-White Morality through the first two books, Max comes to believe in this trope in the third book: to him, while there are plenty of good pets out there, he knows that there are pets that turn bad due to not having their owners with them anymore (as is the case of Belle the collie). He also comes to believe that, despite his personal war with Dolph, not all wolves are Savage Wolves.
  • The Martian: Being a Robinsonade, the real antagonist is the harsh nature on Mars. The closest thing to a human antagonist is an Obstructive Bureaucrat at NASA whose only crime is being more risk-averse than the rest of team Watney, and the head of the Chinese space program who somewhat apologetically insists on some rather hefty favors in exchange for a rocket booster team Watney needs. Personally, he was quite willing to hand over billions of dollars worth of space tech with nothing to show for it in solidarity, but if he had the Politburo would have had his wedding tackle on their watch-chains.
  • The Master and Margarita had this exchange:
    Pontius Pilate: And now tell me: why do you always use the expression "good people"? What, do you call everyone that?
    Yeshua ha-Nazri: Yes, everyone. There are no evil people in the world.
  • Played with in the novel Miracle Monday, where Superman faced The Devil's agent on Earth. While the demon was truly evil (we get to read his thoughts to confirm it) Superman himself holds this belief, and it's because of it that he ultimately wins.
  • In The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side by Agatha Christie, both the victim and the murderer are sympathetic, but both have fatal flaws that collectively bring about the tragedy. Heather failed to recognize how her actions would destroy Marina's happiness, and Marina poisoned her in a fit of rage without thinking.
  • Almost every character in Brandon Sanderson's works is revealed to have "good" (or at least sympathetic) motivations for their actions, though he does include a handful of genuine villains for contrast. Perhaps the most spectacular example is the Lord Ruler of Mistborn, who in life is portrayed as pure evil but is gradually revealed after death to be a very human figure who basically had unlimited power dropped in his lap and did the best he could with it while it slowly drove him mad. One of the major themes running throughout all of Sanderson's novels is that "evil" is usually a lot more complicated than people realize.
    • Ruin, which actually caused the Lord Ruler's very existence, is an unapologetic Destroyer Deity who literally embodies chaos, entropy, and a branch of magic that uses Targeted Human Sacrifice to give powers to the resulting Human Pincushions. Originally, however, he was "a kind and generous man" known as Ati. He was only corrupted after becoming a Deity of Human Origin and subsequently being bound to the essence of entropy itself.
    • Heavily Inverted by Odium. He was an awful person (known as Rayse) even before millennia of being influenced by "God’s own divine hatred, separated from the virtues that gave it context".
  • Many Tom Clancy novels feature something like this, especially those which deal with full-scale war, like Red Storm Rising. Usually, the deal is that good, patriotic souls from different countries will struggle with each other because of the actions of one or two people (usually politicians) who are motivated by pride, fear, or ignorance. Although some villains might be delusional beyond reckoning, For the Evulz types are exceedingly rare.
  • James White's Sector General space hospital series, a deliberate attempt to write Science Fiction with both tension and a murder deficit. Any aliens who may be trying to kill you have just been misinformed. Subverted with the Etlan Empire, who appear to be kind, compassionate people but are in fact deliberately spreading plagues among their own people to raise money for a fraudulent charity appeal. Even then, the ordinary people clearly are as nice as they seem to be (even if they don't trust aliens), and it is only the government who are corrupt — and the story of how what had started out as a genuine charity appeal degenerated first into inefficiency, then misappropriation of funds, and then outright persecution, is all too believable. Considering how many bizarre and alarming-looking alien species have turned out to be just misunderstood, it is striking that White made his first real villains Human Aliens.
  • Four Sherlock Holmes stories involve this: "A Scandal In Bohemia", "The Man with the Twisted Lip", "The Noble Bachelor", and "The Yellow Face". In each case, it is revealed that there is no villain, and the apparent victim turns out to be the morally gray character.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe is at different places on the morality scale Depending on the Writer.
  • These Words Are True and Faithful: The good guys are good. The bad guys haven't thought things through (Cassilda), let their hearts (or other body parts) rule their actions (Ernie), behave in manners that at first seem shocking but are ultimately harmless (Michael), or could plausibly blame at least some of their issues on overly indulgent parenting (Danny). The only unambiguously evil character is Pastor Mandeville.
  • Most of Edgar Pangborn's antagonists are misguided rather than evil, but that doesn't prevent them from occasionally causing horrific tragedies. Example: Tiger Boy, in which the semi-wild title character and a friend he meets are killed due to the belief that he is a demon.
  • The Vampire Diaries veers between this and Grey-and-Grey Morality. Countless times, characters are introduced and seem just so mean but often turn out to have genuine motives behind their actions.
  • Ursula K. Le Guin's work tends to feature this; in fifty years of publishing, only one of her stories (The Word for World Is Forest) features any character she described as "purely evil"

    Live Action TV 
  • The Brazilian fantasy drama Deus Salve O Rei revolves around two kingdoms, Montemor and Artena, being at odds with each other after decades of cooperation. Both are ruled by benevolent and good monarchs at the start of the story, and they want what is best for their own kingdoms and neighbors, but a series of events beyond circumstances put them in conflict with each other.
  • Kamen Rider Ghost is one of the few Kamen Rider to have no truly evil villains. All of the antagonists are Well Intentioned Extremists to varying degrees and the heroes are able to talk just about all of them into turning good in the end, including the Big Bad even after he jumps off the deep end. The only villains who don't turn good are the Gammaizers, but they're AIs gone haywire rather than people.
  • Once Upon a Time starts out as Black-and-White Morality, but as it has continued its run, it has drifted ever closer to White and Grey Morality, giving even its most monstrous characters sympathetic backstories that give them Freudian Excuses or sympathetic motivations, and giving Character Development to at least one of them that results in her becoming vastly more sympathetic. Now we have many villains who are tragic and heroes that are flawed.
  • Scrubs: The conflict between Dr Cox and Dr Kelso was initially depicted as straight good versus evil, but as Kelso became a more sympathetic character it evolved into a battle between Dr Cox's compassion for the individual patients, and Kelso's cold but pragmatic "greater good" approach, e.g. giving a spot on an experimental drug trial to a rich man rather than a poor one in order to get a donation to fund prenatal care for low-income women.
  • Star Trek:
    • Most of the five series heavily favored this trope. The show tended not to have very many truly evil people and the ones that seemed to be would get fleshed out or retconned later to be more sympathetic. Typically most people could be reasoned with and almost everybody was just looking out for their own if they weren't motivated by nobler intentions. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine skews furthest from this trope with the Federation becoming a bit greyer and the Dominion being darker than is typical of the other series.
    • The Next Generation-era Ferengi averted this, as they were universally motivated by greed, embodying the worst of crony-capitalism on a show that tended to favor socialist utopias. Deep Space Nine, despite being overall darker, pulled the Ferengi into the gray range, even introducing a number of social reforms during their run and having the Alpha Quadrant be saved by a Ferengi.
  • Super Sentai:
    • Engine Sentai Go-onger has the Gaiark, who, while they are the antagonists and at first may resemble your typical evil empire or something of the sort, are actually intent on polluting the earth to create a place for their world's inhabitants to live, away from the dictator Yogoshimacritein. In the end, the two remaining ministers sacrifice themselves to save the other Go-Ongers and stop Yogoshimacritein. So while it was a horrible way of doing things, they had their mechanical hearts in the right place.
    • Avataro Sentai Donbrothers: Compared to other seasons' Black-and-White Morality, Donbrothers takes liberties with motive and character flaws. Most of the Donbrothers are only fighting because they've been forced to and as a result can barely work together, though they are still good people deep down that eventually adjust to both their mission and each other. The Noto meanwhile aren't evil-doers but pragmatic vigilantes that have neither sinister intent or morality dial, protecting Humans to preserve them as a resource rather than caring about well-being; their willingness to kill Hitotsu-Ki rather than save them being the main reason the Donbrothers oppose them too.
  • Being a kid-friendly show, Tetsuwan Tantei Robotack has friendly heroes and an Affably Evil villain duo who aren't all that evil apart from trying to steal the show's macguffin. The other villains in the show are also sympathetic and well-intentioned, with the amount of truly evil characters behind few-to-none.
  • The Vampire Diaries veers between this and Grey-and-Grey Morality. Countless times, characters are introduced and seem to be mean but often turn out to have genuine motives behind their actions.
    • Anna seemed to be a sinister vampire using Jeremy for her own ends — until we found out about her mother, and her Becoming the Mask.
    • Damon seemed to just be trying to make his brother's life a living hell, and then his history with Katherine was revealed, and his gestures of humanity to Elena.
  • The West Wing:
    • Most of the antagonistic politicians wanted what was best—they just had different opinions of what was "best" for America. At worst, they tended toward stupid corruption, greed, and tendency to stretch the truth. There were actual evil people like the Western Terrorists, but they mostly stayed off-screen and seldom lasted long.
    • Even corrupt characters often had redeeming qualities. Russel, for instance, is probably the morally second-worst person on the show who isn't one of those briefly appearing or off-screen terrorists mentioned above, but even he won't let the president bomb the wrong country on the mistaken belief that they'd developed atomic bombs of their own in The Warfare of Genghis Khan and is disgusted at hearing on the news about a woman in Turkey being executed for adultery in King Corn. The worst non-terrorist character is Robert Ritchie, who even goes so far as to not seem to feel any sympathy when he hears about a secret service agent being killed in the line of duty ("crime...boy, I don't know"). Aside from some terrorists and homophobic activists, Ritchie's the only complete villain on the show. Even the Christian right are portrayed as low and mean, but not pure evil.
    • For a discrete moment of Rousseau Was Right, see the end of "Evidence of Things Not Seen": the egg stands on its end.

  • Interestingly for a Melodic Death Metal band, Arch-Enemy's the conflict between KHAOS and the government CAN be this Trope. On one hand, KHAOS is portrayed as heroic, while on the other hand, the government's morality depends on the listener's view.

    Myth and Religion 

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The feud between Místico and Atlantis in CMLL. Atlantis had become a Rudo against Mistico. Mistico represents orphans, the poor, the sick, and unseen of society. Mistico also continued to wrestle cleanly and mentored the Super Sky Team Power Stable in the ways of righteous wrestling. Atlantis had turned his back on clean wrestling, his partners, and all of his fans except for the young boys, the only future of the industry in his mind, who he was still nice to and claimed to be doing it all for. Eventually Atlantis realized the error of his ways and made amends.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In a world full of unique dragons The dragons in Epyllion are either good-hearted, or antagonistic by outside reasons, but never evil by choice. Becoming corrupted by the Darkness is never a good thing, but it is often unavoidable or sympathetically motivated. (PCs can gain a shadow even for getting hurt in battle, concealing their identity, or ignoring a friend's advice, among other things.) Nobody is irredeemable, and it's expected that PCs will often move into the Darkness and out of it.
  • Until recent editions firmly set themselves into the more fitting and iconic Black-and-Gray Morality setting, this was ironically the case between the naive, but swiftly learning Tau Empire and the jaded, hardened Imperium of Man from Warhammer 40,000. However, the optimistic and idealistic the alien Tau were found by, at least by some members of the fanbase, to be too idealistic and utopian to fit into the settingnote . The Tau have since been "greywashed", and while they do fit the setting's equivalent of the The Federation, some recent fluff has stated that they may use concentration camps and "re-education" policies on worlds where the Imperium's xenophobic policies are too ingrained. The relationship between the Tau and the Imperium are further complicated by practices of Realpolitik and outright alliance by certain planets, though the official position is that the Tau must be exterminated someday.

  • No one's completely bad in Hamilton (except for maybe King George III, and historically, he was more crazy than anything). The antagonists sincerely believe they're doing the right thing. Even Aaron Burr, who ends up killing the title character, is portrayed as being a conflicted, complicated man, but ultimately a good one who genuinely regrets what he did. Everyone's just doing the best they can under the circumstances, with mixed results.
  • An important theme in Lady Windermere's Fan. The woman whom the titular character thought to be irredeemably wicked makes an enormous self-sacrifice for her, forcing her to re-evaluate her worldview. Although evil is a subject discussed numerous times, especially by Lord and Lady Windermere, there turn out to be no wicked characters in the play; just a misguided but well-meaning and good-hearted woman and a redeemable antagonist.
  • A number of William Shakespeare's comedies, such as A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, Love's Labour's Lost, The Taming of the Shrew, All's Well That Ends Well and The Merry Wives of Windsor involve this. The protagonists, regardless of how quirky they are, happen to be pretty decent people. The antagonist, if any, is an Anti-Villain or Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain.
  • All eight characters from Dear Evan Hansen fit into this. Going from Zoe and Heidi, who, despite some flaws, are mostly seen as good people, to characters like Evan who, despite original good intentions, eventually messed up an entire family's life.

  • Sylvanian Families is generally this trope. Everybody is nice, except the two fox families; the Slydales and the Renards, who like playing pranks on people. If there's any antagonist who does anything more extreme than playing with matches or spraining your ankle, it's probably them playing a harmless trick on somebody.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • Surprisingly for an Assassin, and especially such a prominent one, Ratonhnhaké:ton (or just Connor for short) from Assassin's Creed III internalizes the Templar's ideals in order to understand his true duty as an Assassin. (It helps that the Templars in this game as represented by Haytham are far less rabid and more logical and well-intentioned, even if they are all major Jerkasses.) Connor never buys into the Templar propaganda, since his strong moral compass centers on his belief in freedom (which the Templars explicitly hate), but he never disregards them either. Typically, he acknowledges the wisdom in the Templars' dying words but refuses to apologize for the deed on the grounds of the Templar in question being an irredeemable asshat.
      • Notably unlike Altaïr and Ezio, Connor seriously believes in a rational collaboration between Templars and Assassins on common goals, even briefly convincing Achilles of the soundness of the idea. Though it makes more sense as to why when in Rogue it is revealed he got his entire Brotherhood wiped out for not considering it at the time. This takes on greater resonance at the end of the game when Minerva said that it was her hope that humanity could put aside their differences and collaborate to avert the catastrophe. Juno fomented this conflict for her own ends, which means had Connor succeeded he could have been the Spanner in the Works.
    • Assassin's Creed: Unity: Arno himself believes in seeking peace, avoiding extremism and partisanship, and the likes of Mirabeau and Master de la Serre are looked at with respect for their similar pragmatic approach. While the Revolutionary Templars, the renegade Assassin Bellec and the revenge obsessed Élise are seen as self-destructive.
  • BioShock:
    • In one of the many endings for BioShock 2, the child you have been taking care of grows up to realize that there is no "evil", only "pain." This is the nicest possible ending, discussing how your Player Character strove to protect innocent children caught up in the carnage of Rapture, but always forgave and spared those who wronged you in the past or got in your way in the present. Following your example, she saves the last of the children and in the end, forgives her mother for all the terrible things she did to her, telling you that not only can she and the little girls you save live happily now, but they opened the door for her mother to do so as well.
    • The Splicers. They're desperately addicted to ADAM, which is basically Fantastic Steroids, and are usually desperately seeking it. They also have largely joined the so-called Rapture Family just to find a way to better their livelihoods — at this stage, they've pretty much hit rock-bottom anyway so they've nothing else to lose. Mark Meltzer admits flat out that if their leader hadn't had his daughter kidnapped, he'd feel sorry for them.
  • In Blue Revolver, the titular organization is dedicated to enforcing the regulation of Magitek devices, as poorly-built devices can release "junk data" (i.e. pollution) that can endanger people and the environment. Mae, one of the protagonists of the game, is a Gadgeteer Genius who makes a lot of powerful devices that are very dangerous but does not seem to understand that aspect, causing said organization to hunt her down while she retaliates in self-defense. In her ending, she's apprehended and promised a career as a device technician in exchange for her compliance.
  • Chronicles of Tsufanubra features some genuinely morally depraved characters, but only in the backstory. Everyone in the present-day conflict is either doing what they think is best in light of what those earlier characters did or is being manipulated.
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy and its prequel Dissidia 012 at first tell your typical Order Versus Chaos story with the Big Bad Chaos summoning some of the most sinister villains of Final Fantasy to battle their heroes serving the Big Good Cosmos. However, the backstory reveals the conflict to be this trope. Chaos is a literal Designated Villain, as he and Cosmos agreed to war with each other as part of a pact with Cid and Shinryu, and Chaos was the one hesitant to participate at first. As for Chaos's forces, they variably have no interest in the war, are fighting for personal reasons, are Brainwashed and Crazy, or are Anti Villains who try to help the heroes win. The only villains who are totally and unambiguously evil are The Emperor, Ultimecia, Kefka, and Exdeath, but of them, Ultimecia has a Freudian Excuse, Kefka has the Alternate Character Interpretation that he's too insane to know any better, and Exdeath is a Made of Evil Eldritch Abomination that simply does what he does.
  • In Dungeon Siege III, just about every major villain up to and including the Big Bad is a well-intentioned extremist or has a Freudian Excuse.
  • Dynasty Warriors generally holds to this in its modern installments with the exceptions of Dong Zhuo, Lu Bu, and Yuan Shao. Every one of the major factions is comprised of largely sympathetic people attempting to end the chaotic wars of the terminal years of the Han Dynasty and produce a better future for the greater good of all. However, they disagree, frequently in very lethal ways, about what sort of future it should be and how it should be achieved.
  • Endless Sky: It is difficult to find any true villains in the main quest. The Free Worlds are honorable and violence-averse, as is the Republic Navy. Their government is more self-interested but still reasonable. The pirate factions, despite a few bloodthirsty warlords, are mostly just people who want to live free of government (in the story, at least), and even the Syndicate has enough of a conscience to feel ashamed when the war they started spirals out of control.
  • In Ensemble Stars!, while many of the characters have done questionable things in the past, and some even do over the course of the story, all are ultimately treated as sympathetic, helped by the Rotating Protagonist structure ensuring that everyone gets to give their point of view eventually. Even the main story, which does focus on a specific four protagonists and has a more typical "protagonists vs antagonists" story structure, exudes this: while the destruction of the student council's grip over the other students is treated as straightforwardly good, it's made clear that Eichi truly believed that he was doing the right thing at first, and genuinely underestimated how badly his actions would affect others (particularly the Oddballs), and after he is defeated admits that he's starting to feel genuine friendship for the protagonists.
  • Fire Emblem
    • In Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, the back half of Part III focuses on the conflict between the Laguz Alliance (morally squeaky clean heroes seeking justified retribution against Begnion for the massacre of their people and the murder of an ambassador sent to demand an explanation) and the Kingdom of Daein (the last game's antagonists who are willing to do some pretty shady things to win a war they got dragged into by Begnion on pain of total destruction). Fortunately, Part IV sees them get to set aside their differences and team up against the true villains of the game.
    • Fire Emblem Fates ultimately has this as the core of its conflict, despite setting itself up superficially as Black-and-White Morality. The Kingdom of Hoshido is a prosperous Wutai nation led by a peaceful queen, while Nohr seems glory-seeking and seeking to conquer Hoshido for their own gains. But as it turns out, both sides no matter what path you choose are sympathetic, with the King of Nohr being Dead All Along and turned into a shallow parody of his former self through Demonic Possession through the game's true villain, Anankos, who's psychotic misunderstanding of humanity through his degeneration led to much of the cartoonish hamminess of Garon being invoked due to literally being possessed, and him hiring other people with the secret goal of destroying both kingdoms — which is literally within Anankos's plans. And no matter what path you choose, even the Golden Ending, innocent people WILL be hurt and both sides are framed as the victim in this. Both paths that aren't taking the third option are ultimately valid too; Birthright has you side with Hoshido in an unambigously heroic path to defeat Nohr, while Conquest has to discard what seems logical to side with your family and try to save them and Nohr from the inside, and while Corrin in that route is an Anti-Hero, they still have very firm goals in spite of such. Either way, Fates is a game that seems black-and-white, but the game goes out of its way to subvert and reconstruct itself to making both sides sympathetic.
  • F.I.S.T.: Forged in Shadow Torch: There are clear-cut heroes, but there isn't a single clear-cut villain in the game. Rayton is a Knight in Sour Armor because while he's rough around the edges, he puts his life on the line to save those in need, with the thieving Flip and members of the Rat Gang being the only secondary characters who could be considered morally-ambiguous. Even Cicero and the Duke of the Rat Gang are both Well-Intentioned Extremist types, as the former wants to evolve Torch City to preserve all of furkind, while the latter wants to destroy Cicero and the Legion (though he also wants to take over Torch City himself).
  • The indie RPG Heartbeat has a generally squeaky-clean, if occasionally neurotic, cast of heroes (including a Plucky Girl as the game's heroine), with the only shades of grey being that some are former villains. Meanwhile, the villains range between misguided heroes, Punch Clock Villains, dumb beasts, and people involved in misunderstandings, while the Big Bad, though malevolent, is shown to be hurting just as much as anyone else and ultimately gets redeemed. The only character to be truly evil is recurring antagonist Yorshk, who is also responsible for some of the game's Bad Endings.
  • Hero Core: The game initially starts off as Black-and-White Morality, with Flip Hero protecting planet Earth from Cruiser Tetron and his forces, but collecting all ten core computers throughout Tetron's base reveals a somber example of this trope: Tetron and Flip Hero are weapons built for a war that ended long ago, but unlike Flip Hero, who outgrew his programming and fights to protect Earth and its inhabitants, Tetron tries to destroy Earth because he is trapped by his programming and thinks the war still exists. After the final battle, Flip Hero frees Tetron and his army from their endless conflict by mutual death out of mercy. Even The Living Warmachine from Annihilation Mode is treated with sympathy by The Hero for a similar reason: a destructive yet tragic weapon that needs to be put to rest.
  • Unusually for an Alien Invasion game, Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds has a case of white vs grey. The humans are fighting for their home and way of life, and the martians are only fighting because their home and way of life is dying. This does, however, lead to some rather nasty Fridge Logic in that whichever race you play as, you are dooming the other to extinction.
  • Mega Man:
    • In Mega Man X4, X and Zero are unquestionably good guys who want to maintain the peace between humans and reploids, but who are both willing to fight if necessary, while General and Colonel are just misguided well-intentioned extremists who want to gain their independence from the human world. Of course, they tend to resort to fighting before trying to reason.
    • Used tragically in Mega Man Zero. In the midst of this rebellion, barring the psychopaths (Copy X, Elpizo, Omega, and Weil), no one on either side is truly evil. The Zero series has some of the most sympathetic antagonists (Harpuia being #1) in the whole franchise.
      • Even Copy X and Elpizo are simply Well Intentioned Extremists, fighting for a goal (protect humans and reploids respectively). Sure, their methods would result in mass death of the other but it's far more sympathetic than Omega (Ax-Crazy Blood Knight Berserker) and Weil (Egomaniacal Card-Carrying Villain).
      • Even Weil himself had justifiable intention at the start; given that reploids (especially Mavericks, be they virus-infected or politically-charged) were responsible for many tragedies in history, he was not pleased when the solution to that was to give the reploids anti-virus program (Cyber-Elves) and call it even. His methods to enforce the notion that reploids are by default dangerous if not controlled resulted in the cataclysmic Elf Wars, and the punishment he got for that drove him more and more unhinged.
    • In Mega Man ZX and Advent, the protagonists Vent, Aile, Ashe, and Grey are good guys who want to protect the innocent from Mavericks, while the majority of the enemy Mega Men overall have well-intentioned goals (Atlas wants humans and Reploids to grow strong, Thetis wants to protect the environment and especially the ocean from pollution, Aeolus wants to erase conflict, Serpent wants to rule the world and guide it as a "shepherd", and even Master Albert wants to make a truly better world with new life and protect it) with the exception of Siarnaq (who doesn't seem to have a motive) and Prometheus and Pandora (who just want revenge on Albert). The problem is that the enemy Mega Men want to use Model W to achieve their goals, and it's twisted each of them to desire mass death.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4 reveals that most of the villains were actually good people whose plan to make the world a better place did horribly go wrong. Most events of the series were actually the villains' attempts to use whatever means necessary to correct their mistakes.
  • Ori and the Blind Forest initially paints itself as a very literal Black-and-White Morality story, with Ori, Sein and the Spirit Tree being the good beings of light and Kuro being the evil being of darkness, but then you find out that all of Kuro's actions are the result of the Spirit Tree accidentally killing Kuro's children when it spread its light over the whole forest to try and reunite with Ori, turning the game into the story of a fatal but well-meaning mistake causing a very pissed-off and grieving Mama Owl to destroy everything out of blind rage.
  • Persona 4: The protagonists are unambiguous heroes who investigate a series of murders while helping people along the way. If the player is feeling extra kind, this altruism is greatly shown in Yu Narukami, who never ignores anyone's pleas for help, no matter how trivial they are. The antagonists are mentally unstable and need help, but they are ultimately doing what they think is best. The only exception is Adachi, the actual murderer, but even then, that character feels remorse later and admits that they have a lot of issues and deserve to be in prison. This is especially odd considering the usual MegaTen game out-Grimdarks just about everything.
  • Despite having a dark entity known as Sulphur, Phantom Brave certainly fit into this. Most characters, at worst, act like Jerkasses who cheat off Marona and treat her as trash. Some of who have selfish motivations does have a particular reason for being so. For example, Walnut, a Kill Steal bounty hunter, have a mindset of caring about money because he is trying to fund medicine for his sick little sister. And some who fell into the path of darkness is mostly due to tragic circumstances, such as Sprout, who lost his family to Sulphur. Regardless, everyone is Easily Forgiven by Marona and those who were treating her like trash came to realize she's the only hope of defeating Sulphur and realize her kindhearted nature, started treating her an actual human being, and rally to aid her. In the end, Marona's "treat everyone with kindness" favors her.
  • Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire fits pretty neatly here. The Heroes are trying to Save the World from Groudon and Kyogre, who will destroy the world if one of them is awakened. All the villains are sympathetic and well-intentioned, and realize the error of their ways in the end. One of the villains, Archie, is incredibly friendly even before his Heel–Face Turn, friendlier than even some rivals.
  • Snake Pass: On the White side, Noodle is a friendly vegetarian coral snake who averts Snakes Are Sinister while slithering away from danger. On the Grey side, the main antagonist (or rather, the closest thing to one) didn't mean to ruin the gates; it was simply trying to go back home.
  • The Tales Series in general does this, as well as Grey-and-Gray Morality. The heroes often have their flaws and may even do some less than moral things, but generally have their hearts in the right place, while the antagonists are often Anti Villains and Well Intentioned Extremists who are also good people at heart.
  • The Touhou Project series:
    • There are many Designated Villains who are unilaterally revealed to be Good All Along or at worst a neutral entity by the time the game ends — in most cases, your character has a tea party with the Final Boss following their defeat. Bad Powers, Bad People is averted. The only things in the series that could be considered evil at all are the Saigyou Ayakashi, more popularly known as the Cherry Tree of Doom, from Perfect Cherry Blossom (it hypnotizes people into languishing to death under its leaves, and then eats their souls), and the final boss of Subterranean Animism, who flat-out threatens to nuke all of Gensokyo and even then the latter turns out to be under the influence of a temporary but bad case of power induced crazy on top of being much, much more stupid than evil.
    • From Phantasmagoria of Flower View, there is Medicine Melancholy (Little Sweet Poison), a tsukumogami doll who hates humans and would attack anyone trespassing her territory. Also, she is one of very few youkai who almost breached the peace treaty in Gensokyo by attempting to spread poison across Human Village. While Medicine is indeed dangerous, calling her "evil" is a bit stretch, though, as she is more "immature" and "shallow" than malicious, since she is still relatively young for youkai standard and barely knows anything about life beyond her territory. Turns out she is capable of socializing and making friends as shown in her ending scene.
    • Downplayed in Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom in which the villains are way more on the darker side. You have the Lunarians attempting to kill humans so as to make a place for them to live while Junko, the game's Final Boss is attempting to launch a full-scale genocide against the Lunarians in her revenge. While the Lunarians are justifiably running away from death, Junko readily gives up her plan upon meeting the player, though this is due to realizing she would lose if they were to fight and in the Extra Stage, she readily puts an end to her own plans... until she can figure out how to destroy Lunarians without interference from the heroes. She is among the really evil characters in the franchise, though she at least has a sympathetic reason, namely, her son was killed by a Lunarian Goddess.
  • Underrail is surprisingly quite a nobledark game: the setting is a bonafide Crapsack World (a nuclear apocalypse rendered the Earth's surface uninhabitable, pushing the remnants of humanity into underground subway systems) and most people are either unhinged or just unsociable. But provided you have the right skills, you can resolve a lot of conflicts quite peacefully, and give most people a good ending.
  • Undertale turns out to work this way, assuming that you're doing a Pacifist Run. On that kind of playthrough, you're basically an All-Loving Hero who finds creative ways to end conflicts without a shred of blood. The Random Encounters are just scared, and can all be placated non-lethally. Toriel just wants you to stay in the Ruins where you're safe and tries her hardest to avoid killing you in her boss fight. Papyrus really does want to capture you to facilitate his long-delayed entry to the Royal Guard, but he's just too kind-hearted to follow through (which, incidentally, is why his entry to the Royal Guard is being delayed). Undyne refuses to accept your mercy because she is either righteously angry over the monsters you've killed or simply determined to take your SOUL so the barrier can be destroyed, but even she can be made to relent (and if you don't kill anyone, even befriended). Mettaton genuinely does want to kill you, but only to prevent the barrier from being shattered, since step 2 in that plan has always been "destroy humanity", and if you overcome him, he decides you're strong enough to prevent it yourself. And Asgore, the creator of that plan, did it in a fit of grief and very obviously doesn't want to go through with it now that his head is clearer. Even Flowey turns out to be a Jerkass Woobie who is only an asshole because he died long ago, Came Back Wrong, and now literally has no SOUL. When he briefly regains one in the Golden Ending, he shatters the barrier himself and apologizes for everything he did. The only unambiguously bad character is The Fallen Child, and even that's not completely certain, since it is implied in the Golden Ending that they wanted to help the monsters of the Underground, but, through a Freudian Excuse, went about it in a less than merciful way, and it's only your action in a No Mercy route that drives them to become the Greater-Scope Villain and irredeemably evil.
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: The Skellige succession crisis. Hjalmar and Cerys are both exceptional candidates for the throne of Skellige and the island kingdom prospers under the rule of either, but in the event that neither are helped by Geralt, Svanrige becomes king through the manipulations of his scheming mother... and he turns out to actually be a decent king himself who ends up uniting the islands, though through considerable force and ruthlessness.
  • In World of Warcraft the Alliance/Horde conflict is meant to be Gray-and-Grey Morality, but sometimes comes across this way due to the Alliance being more superficially heroic, and the Horde having more evil-themed quests in general.
  • While Xenogears appears to have a Black-and-White Morality setup with a band of plucky rebels fighting against The Empire of Solaris, ultimately anyone doing bad things is just proven to be manipulated by the servants of Deus, a sort of cross between a crazy computer system and Giant Space Flea from Nowhere. The leader of the empire, Emperor Cain, is initially seen as the Big Bad but is actually on the heroes' side for the most part. Another recurring antagonist, Kahran Ramsus, is a sympathetic character forgiven by the heroes and even comforted by them after his defeat. One of the two real villains, Krelian, who serves Deus, is actually just misguided rather than truly evil and the hero even forgives him at the end, though he refuses to forgive himself. The two warring nations are shown to be full of mostly good people and make peace. The entire theme of the game in fact seems to be that the goodness of humanity can triumph even in a Crapsack World. The only truly evil characters in the game are minor villain Bishop Stone/Stein and the other true villain, Miang Hawwa, an artificial human made by Deus.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: For the white, the protagonists are mostly clear-cut heroic, and remain so. For the grey, none of the world's major powers are depicted as wholly good or wholly evil, not even The Empire of Mor Ardain (which is set up as a typical evil empire at first, but it quickly turns out their worst actions were committed over dwindling resources and were carried out behind the emperor's back), and the main villains, the Organization of Torna, turn out to have a Freudian Excuse for their actions. There are only three truly villainous characters in the main story, and among them, Bana is Laughably Evil, Amalthus has a Dark and Troubled Past, and Malos is only evil due to Amalthus' influence.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney: Occasionally Phoenix comes up against cases where there are no 'bad guys', just sympathetic people who screwed up big time.
    • Turnabout Big Top in Justice for All gets a lampshade hung on it by Maya, as the victim was a Benevolent Boss, the defendant is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and the killer is a Sympathetic Murderer. Acro originally wanted to kill Regina Berry for causing the Deadly Prank that put his brother Bat in a coma and himself in a wheelchair, and, more importantly, for treating it casually- which she only did because she is extremely naive. His death trap hitting Russel Berry and framing Max was legitimately accidental, as Russel had responded to his note in place of Regina and a series of coincidences made it look like Max was flying away from the scene (which was in reality Acro reeling up a large bust of Max, with Max's cape snagged on it, to his room), and Acro went along with the frame job in a Moment of Weakness caused by realizing that if he was put in jail, then there would be no one to visit Bat in the hospital.
    • Turnabout Reclaimed is another example. It's one of the few cases where there actually isn't a murder, even in the backstory. The victim's death was a genuine accident. Marlon Rimes inadvertently caused it while trying to kill Orla the orca, but he also tried to save the victim and only tried to pin it on the orca because he (falsely) thought the orca was responsible for his girlfriend's death (she actually died of a heart defect). He's utterly horrified when he finds out the truth.
  • Kanon. Not counting everyone who drove Mai away in the past, the worst we have are the Demons, who, despite their destructive behavior, mainly wanted to show Yuichi said past of Mai's and how they came to be so that he can send a message to her that her constant battle with them can end as soon as she stops fighting. In general, everyone in the show is mostly good, even though a few of them (such as Makoto and Kuze) are Jerkasses in some way or another.

    Web Animation 

  • Everyone in Broken Telephone is doing what they believe will be best for the greater good. Even the hired assassin, who's there to kill a terrorist.
  • Ursula Vernon, creator of Digger, has complained that she can't seem to come up with a real villain, since all of them have reasons for what they are doing and believe that they're doing the right thing. Admittedly, some of them admittedly think it's the right thing because they're doing it, or that the ends will justify the means, but no one so far is truly evil. Well, no one except Sweetgrass Voice.
  • El Goonish Shive has no major character who does things For the Evulz. Save one bad eggnote , there are no really evil characters in the comic; all of them so far have either been misguided or acting off their own sense of what's right rather being downright evil, and most of them have been relatively reasonable when the heroes point out the problems with what they're doing. The Abominations are a glaring exception, but they're presented as "monsters" rather than characters, and we still don't know Voltaire's motives.
  • Freefall forgoes villains in favor of lots of geek-tickling tech-talk. Even the Corrupt Corporate Executives tend to be simply narrow-minded and incompetent rather than willfully malevolent. It's just that they're not smart enough to figure out that A.I.s have become sentient and still think that they're just products. It doesn't help that some of the A.I.s agree.
  • One of the things Gunnerkrigg Court is known for lacking "proper" villains; Coyote is more of a general version of The Trickster, Ysengrin is simply insane, and Reynardine is... who knows? Tom Siddell confirms this in an interview: "There are no outright evil characters, for example, just situations in which a character might act in a way perceived to be evil." For example, Jack was just some variant of gone nuts from the whole Zimmyham experience or high on his new creepy powers — he gets better afterwards.
  • A Miracle of Science has no real villains. The Big Bad is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who actively avoids civilian casualties and even the Venusian Mafia is mostly just selfish.
  • Sleepless Domain: The world operates primarily on this type of morality, and almost no major characters are outright malicious or unsympathetic. And while the Big Bad is the only real exception, being responsible for multiple magical girl deaths, even that is hard to judge without knowing more about her and her motives — there's a strong indication that even she honestly believes what she's doing is the best solution.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: 90% of the time. Finn and Jake are our adventure-seeking heroes who battle monsters and baddies to save the day, and they help people along the way, as Finn's motivation for his Chronic Hero Syndrome is that he doesn't want people to feel helpless like his infant self. Their enemies are less evil and more morally challenged, Obliviously Evil or just simple jerks. The Ice King and Lemongrab are good examples of this: the former is an ice wizard who has an obsession with kidnapping princesses, however it's out of loneliness and his Jerkass moments come from not realizing the social impact (due to an incredibly tragic backstory). The latter is a crazy Control Freak who puts people in dungeons for little reason, but it's because he was born utterly nuts instead of being a cruel person. Even Marceline's Dad, who's basically the Devil, is semi Affably Evil and loves his daughter. There are exceptions who definitely stand out, but they're few and far between.
  • Bojack Horseman plays with this. Overall, morality runs on Grey-and-Gray Morality with occasional Black-and-Gray Morality. However, many characters are still portrayed as likable, sympathetic, and human, even if their perceptions are eschewed and their actions range from unpleasant to unforgivable.
  • The Dreamstone generally portrays things this way narrative-wise. While Zordrak is as evil as they get, he is usually too petty and ineffectual to do anything himself, and his Urpney army mostly consists of sympathetic minions Just Following Orders. The Land of Dreams is generally portrayed as a Sugar Bowl (though their occasional fondness for Disportionate /Misplaced Retribution may lean them more as A Lighter Shade of Grey).
  • Droners remains an optimistic children's show at its core, so characters range from heroes with flaws at best to rude or cynical jerks at worst, but nobody appears to be truly malevolent.
  • Gargoyles: When the Magus, Princess, and Tom arrive at Avalon, the Weird Sisters tell them to turn around because their king has decreed Avalon off-limits. The Magus, Princess, and Tom are portrayed as being completely justified because their lives, and the lives of the unhatched gargoyles were in grave danger, but the Weird Sisters were obeying a lawful command and they never attacked anyone except the people who invaded their home. The only thing keeping it from being a case of Good vs. Good is that the Weird Sisters are portrayed as manipulative, having no regard for mortal life, and team up with a Card-Carrying Villain to attack the Avalon clan.
  • While Iron Man: Armored Adventures has its share of villains, the large majority of its antagonists are either various Types of Anti-Villains (including two of the Big Bads) or Punch Clock Villains.
  • Kim Possible has the recurring villain Señor Senior, Senior. He had (quite likely) built his fortune legitimately: he turns to evil as a hobby (subverting Evil Is Not a Toy), seeing how closely he can mirror a classic Big Bad complete with setting up death traps for the heroes to escape from. In one episode, Sr. Senior, Sr.'s fortune is stolen by a swindler, and he tries to get it back by robbing businesses owned by the person who scammed him: meanwhile, Kim attempts to stop him. She is stopped by his son who turns him in, and Kim settles for Senior earning his money back through the reward money that he'll gain for his capture.
  • The overall moral scheme of The Legend of Korra, as each of the main antagonists has a legitimate point and are overall genuinely well intentioned, if ruthless about their methods, as well as other human traits. One episode has Toph advising Korra to learn from her enemies; as they have good points, they just lack balance. The exceptions are Unalaq, Hou-Ting and Vaatu.
  • Legends of Chima: On one end you've got the Lions who are the paragons of good and keep the other tribes in line by distributing Chi, and the Eagles and Gorillas who are kindly scholars and spiritualists but are quick to ally with the Lions. On the other end, you've got the Crocs who are lead by a prince being manipulated by his sister, the Ravens who are master con men, and the Wolves who are savage and will seize power if deemed necessary. The other tribes fall somewhere in between.
  • Moral Orel: Orel is a genuinely good kid with Incorruptible Pure Pureness. While Moralton has many horrible people (including his own parents), lots of them are sympathetic, most of whom have their own Freudian Excuse. His parents both had issues with their own parents. While Miss Censordoll is pretty awful, she has one of her own (it's hard not to feel bad for her when you learn her mother removed her reproductive system). Reverend Putty is a bit cynical and jaded, but he has his own Pet the Dog moments in regards to Orel and his daughter Stephanie. Joe's a brat who bullies Orel and beats up kissing boys but he's afraid of growing old and didn't know his own mother.
  • Unsurprisingly present in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Moments after the climax of the second episode, the goddess of darkness, who is effectively the Big Bad of the ponies' entire mythology, runs crying into a hug with her sister and counterpart day goddess. Who instantly forgives her. Indeed, the worst villains in the first season were Gilda from "Griffon the Brush-Off" and the Great and Powerful Trixie from "Boast Busters", who were both realistic Jerkasses rather than deliberately kid-friendly villains, neither of which learned their lessons in their respective episodes. This changed with the season 2 premiere "The Return of Harmony", which featured as its antagonist Discord, a trouble-making Reality Warper with a cruel sense of humor. note  Some of the show's conflicts even border on Good Versus Good, like the Dragon from Dragonshy, who was just trying to sleep until Dash kicked him in the face. Averted by the phenomenally dark King Sombra, Lord Tirek and later on, Cozy Glow.
    • The episode "Bats!" from the same show sets up a conflict between Applejack and Fluttershy. Applejack is the grey morality, wanting to exterminate and/or drive off vampire fruit bats from her farm because it will destroy her crop and her livelihood. Fluttershy is the white morality, wanting to create a reserve on the farm for the fruit bats, arguing that the seeds the bats drop will eventually produce stronger, better apple trees. Applejack initially wins the argument, but events swing it back around to Fluttershy's side anyway.
    • For a long time, a popular fan interpretation of Queen Chrysalis was that she was merely a Well-Intentioned Extremist who only preyed on the ponies out of concern for her species' survival and that if a better option was presented she would take it. It eventually turns out to not be true; not only does she relish in making others suffer, but she's deliberately keeping her own people starving and forbidding them from attempting any peaceful resolutions, just so she can maintain her authority. When a far healthier method of survival presents itself, she rejects it because she refuses to admit defeat, and flees instead.
  • Phineas and Ferb: On the "white" side, Phineas and Ferb are short on flaws, as are many of their friends. On the "gray" side, While Candace is often the antagonist, she's neither evil nor truly spiteful — only impulsive and a bit high-strung and has shown on occasion that she genuinely cares for her brothers. Buford is a card-carrying bully but is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who is clearly friends with his "victims". Even the Big Bad Doofenshmirtz is quite Affably Evil, loves his daughter dearly, and is an absurdly Friendly Enemy to Perry. His attempts to take over the ENTIRE! TRI-STATE! AREA! come across as more pretending to be evil to get attention than the evil acts of a power-mad lunatic. Suzy Johnson appeared to be a straight Jerkass in her first appearance, but later episodes revealed that she's a sweet girl whenever Jeremy's not around. The only really unpleasant recurring characters are Doofenshmirtz's parents in his tales of his Hilariously Abusive Childhood.
  • The heroes of Steven Universe are generally flawed but very moral overall. The antagonists are generally either Anti Villains with clear reasoning for their actions, extremists who are opposed because of their methods, or unable to control their actions. The few who aren't tend to be petty jerks who are more of a pest than a threat.
  • The first season of Super Friends. There were no supervillains (with the possible exception of the Raven, who put Superman on trial), just Anti Villains who were all doing the utterly wrong thing for what they felt were the right reasons. In the end, they always Saw the Light, Repented for their Wickedness, and never even went to jail.

Alternative Title(s): White And Gray Morality, Gray And White Morality, Grey And White Morality