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You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good!

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She-Force: You should use your powers for good.
Lightkiller: Yeah, yeah, right. So being able to plunge the world into complete darkness is an ideal power for a good guy, right?

"You Could Have Used Your Powers For Good/Evil" is a sentiment often expressed to the Worthy Opponent. Hero Bob wonders why Villain Alice, with her immense power, chose to do evil rather than good. If the evildoer is a recurring character, rather than a one-shot, this usually comes followed by a conversation about how they're not so different and a Heel–Face Turn would make her feel much better about her life.note 

Of course, the reverse can also occur, with Alice questioning why Bob bothers to protect these ungrateful weaklings when he could just use his powers to take whatever he wants. If Alice succeeds in convincing him that Evil Feels Good, Bob may become a Fallen Hero.

As the page quote illustrates, this is more appropriate for some villains than others. Usually they need to have "good" powers yet use them for evil. Of course, Bob can try to convince Alice that even with "bad" powers, With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility and she can be a good person. If Alice is a Mad Scientist, cutting her a check while commenting how all her evil inventions are useless can have this effect.

Compare Recruiting the Criminal, Win Your Freedom, and Boxed Crook, where a villain is forced into acting for good; also Cut Lex Luthor a Check, where acting good would have obvious monetary benefits. If the character listens to this advice, they're a Moral Pragmatist. See Mirror Character.

Contrast: Then Let Me Be Evil, where villains attempt to use their powers for good, only for their treatment by others to cause them to turn to evil; also With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility, With Great Power Comes Great Insanity, and With Great Power Comes Great Perks, where power changes a character's disposition all by itself. Also, the Stock Phrase: "Aren't you glad I use my powers for good than evil?", often humorously, and often for a mundane skill rather than an actual superpower.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Touma often asks the bad guys, if they're relying on a Dark and Troubled Past or Freudian Excuse to justify their actions, why they don't use their talents to make the world a happier place instead of lashing out at it.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • When Goku notices Captain Ginyu has a sense of honor, he tries to convince him to fight for goodness, but Ginyu refuses, saying that hurting and lording over anybody weaker than him is what makes him happy.
    • Piccolo severs Dr. Gero's arm (Dr. Gero being an android at this point) and crushes it, saying "It's a darn shame. You could've put this hand to good use! What a waste of technology!"
    • In Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F', Goku notes Freeza would make a perfect sparring partner and considers his obsession with revenge and world domination a waste of talent. Freeza retorts that this attitude is what makes Goku's mere existence intolerable for him.
    • In Dragon Ball Super, Caulifla points out that Saiyans were a natural fit for galactic heroes in their galaxy due to their talents, using this trope to contrast against the more barbaric approach of Vegeta, Nappa, and their ilk.
  • In Fairy Tail, Makarov praises the power of fellow Wizard Saint Jose Porla as they duel at the climax of the Phantom Lord arc, noting that despite his youth he was very much worthy of the title the Magic Council granted him and that he could have been an incredible role model for the youth and Magic world rather than the bad one he chose to become. Jose, overcome by his pride, jealousy and hatred of Fairy Tail, and own greed, can only see Makarov's words as an insult and lecture, refusing to surrender to Makarov until Makarov stops holding back and takes him and his Shade army out with Fairy Law, stating that the Magic Council will deal with his transgressions. Jose ultimately loses his guild and title as a result of instigating a guild war.
  • In the final Full Metal Panic! novel, Sōsuke thinks this towards the corpse of Leonard Testarossa: "Why couldn't you have done something else when you had so much power? You should have been able to find other options..."
  • Gundam]]
    • In Gundam ZZ, Judau Ashta says this almost word-for-word about the dying Haman Karn: "Why didn't you use your power in a better way?!"
    • In Gundam SEED Destiny, after fleeing from ZAFT, all of Athrun's fights with Shinn have him trying to convince Shinn to make a Heel–Face Turn. This culminates in causing Shinn to suffer a Heroic BSoD in the last episode, enabling him to disable the Destiny.
  • In My Hero Academia, Present Mic angrily calls out Kyudai Garaki for having Quirk replication technology and using it to enhance twisted monsters when he could revolutionize medicine by applying the hyper-regeneration Quirks he produces to health care.
  • In the manga-only Jinchu Arc of Rurouni Kenshin, we have Gein who fights using giant puppets controlled from within. Kenshin tells him he should use his technological skills for good, to which his opponent retorts that that would be a waste of his talents and that Kenshin might as well tell a master blacksmith to make shaving razors instead of swords. note 
  • In Tiger & Bunny, this is why Jake Martinez has contempt for the NEXT heroes of HeroTV despite being a NEXT supremacist: in his eyes, they've turned themselves into dancing monkeys for the people that used to subjugate them, and are thus no better.

    Comic Books 
  • In "The Human Flea" storyline in a Batman comic. A guy running a flea circus along with his grandfather is struggling financially. He ends up going off to rob various places to make ends meet using a flea costume, and a resin he created to allow him to leap great distances and evade both the police and Batman. When Batman finally catches him and listens to his story, Batman points out he could have patented the resin, sold it to the military, and made a fortune. He never thought of that.
  • Fantastic Four: As early as their third face-off, Reed Richards tells Doctor Doom he could use his scientific brilliance to benefit mankind. Shame Doom doesn't give two whits about mankind. Only DOOM matters! (And sometimes, Latveria. If he feels like it.) This becomes a running refrain between the Fantastic Four and Victor ever since.
  • Spider-Man:
    • In one issue, Spidey tells Green Goblin that with his intelligence he "could have cured cancer by now if [he] hadn't been wasting time with this Green Goblin crap!" Gobby's response? "I don't give a rat's ass." The tragedy is that once upon a time, when Norman was a good (or at least less evil) man, he fought desperately to cure his beloved wife's illness. By the time he finally had the money, tech, and know-how to make a real difference in the world, he had already let his callousness and greed take him over. And that was before he had an experimental serum blow up in his face and drive him completely insane...
    • During "Dark Reign" it is revealed Norman Osborn has discovered the cure for cancer... when he weaponizes it in an attempt to kill Deadpool.
    • Parodied in Spider-Man and the X-Men (as seen in the page picture):
      Sauron: With the DNA we liberated from the grave desecration you call a museum, I have perfected the saurianization process. You rice paper puppets will be given forms befitting Earth's dominant species.
      Spider-Man: You can rewrite DNA on the fly, and you're using it to turn people into dinosaurs? But with tech like that, you could cure cancer!
      Sauron: But I don't want to cure cancer. I want to turn people into dinosaurs.
  • Volume 6 of Atomic Robo has the protagonist facing off against an automatic intelligence like him named Alan, who had vast computing power and the ability to predict outcomes and determined that he could use the Cold War to build himself an Orion class spaceship. He did, but this made Robo realize something — with this ability and success, Alan could have used his power to stop the Cold War, to bring about a more stable and peaceful world.
    Robo: You could have helped them.
    ALAN: I don't understand. Why?
  • Superman: As with Doctor Doom, this has become a running refrain between the Man of Steel and his Arch-Enemy Lex Luthor.
    • After Superman returns during Superman: Up, Up and Away!, he chides Luthor that, despite having said he could solve all the world's problems if Supes weren't around, he spent the year he was absent coming up with new plans to destroy Superman because he was convinced that Superman's disappearance was an elaborate plot against him.
    • This has been a recurring theme in Superman's ongoing feud with Luthor, even back in the Pre-Crisis universe:
      Superman: My arch-enemy, Luthor, might have been the world's greatest benefactor!
    • The most extreme version of this might be in the climax of The Black Ring. Luthor gains the powers of a god and manages to create a state of universal peace and happiness... with the caveat that he cannot use his powers to harm people. Superman is standing right there, telling him how good a thing this is, and that if Luthor just gave up his vendetta against him, Luthor could be the greatest hero of all time. Guess what happens. No, go on. We'll wait.
    • In "The Reign of the Superman," Jerry Siegel's and Joe Shuster's illustrated short story (Science Fiction, January 1933), the depowered villain — an early version of Superman's original archnemesis the Ultra-Humanite — says at the end:
      "I see, now, how wrong I was. If I had worked for the good of humanity, my name would have gone down in history with a blessing — instead of a curse."
    • In the 27th issue of the comic based on Superman: The Animated Series, after a feud that's become de rigeur, and the latest, more-personal-than-ever plan comes close to killing them both, Superman snaps at Luthor and spells out how Luthor is a horrible person for wasting his genius on plots to kill Superman instead of using his gifts to actually benefit society. (On the page that follows, Mercy Graves, who was also in danger when it went wrong, noticeably doesn't seem to disagree, and is startled when her boss just angrily doubles down.)
      "Absolute control"? I saw a man so consumed by his own madness that he almost killed himself this time! How many fiendish plots and death-rays are there going to be, Luthor? How many billions of dollars are you going to waste? You were blessed with a brilliant mind. You could make the world such a wonderful place. [flies away] Stop wasting your life trying to destroy it.
    • In All-Star Superman, Supes confronts Luthor on death row and tells him he could have solved a lot of humanity's problems if he hadn't been so focused on beating Superman. Supes then challenges him to use his remaining weeks to help humanity. Luthor responds by spitting on the glass between them.
  • Batman Beyond: Near the end of the "Undercloud" arc, Maxine Gibson chews out Rebel One for using the Metal Men to try and raze Gotham in the name of resolving the issue of class struggles while disregarding how her actions make her no different from the scores of maniacs who have threatened Gotham City in the past. The last point Maxine makes is addressing that Rebel One could've used the resources she had access to by founding Undercloud to actually help people instead of turning the Metal Men into a killing machine and using them to slaughter a bunch of people just to make a statement.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Awakening of a Magus, Voldemort is really displeased at how Draco, instead of serving him and possibly becoming his heir, is wasting his potential by joining the Light.
  • Deconstruction in a The Conversion Bureau story called A Beacon of Hope. The Newfoal known as Socrates the Wise was a philosophy teacher with the ability to convince groups of people easily who preached against Equestrian values because of their Condescending Compassion, when Celestia ponified him and asked him to use his talents for the good of Equestria he suffered a breakdown and founded his own nation based on Deliberate Values Dissonance, and you've got someone who is inherently immune to this argument.
  • A Crooked Man: Johann tells Sinister that he could have been something else rather than becoming "a half-assed Nazi wannabe who could be carted out whenever a plot device was needed."
  • The Elites in Dear Diary note how Blair's skill and determined ambition could have made him a great trainer, had he not taken the path he did.
  • In the Episode 60 Epilogue of Dragon Ball Z Abridged Trunks has a brief moment of telling 17 and 18 how they could have ended up so differently, seeing how they ended up making a Heel–Face Turn in the 'prime' timeline. 17 and 18 just end up offended that he called them 'androids'.
  • In A Glad Day, Bulma tries to convince Jeice to let go of his hatred for the Saiyans and start a new family on another world. Jeice is similarly perplexed as to why Bulma has so much sympathy for the Saiyans and wonders why she didn't use her great intelligence to destroy them.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, Supergirl tells her old enemy Blackstarr she could have used her vast cosmic powers to help people instead of hurting them. Blackstarr replies she doesn't believe she is capable of making a difference.
    Supergirl: You’ve got powers that even I and Kal can’t command. You’re part of one of the greatest heritages on our planet, whether you admit it or not. You could use your abilities to help, rather than hurt. Instead of wasting them in this stupid battle... you could do something with them that could make your mother proud. And you could be a heroine.
    Blackstarr: No. That would be futile. All it would give us is the same inefficiency. The same world, divided among hundreds of worthless governments. The same disunity, and the same inability to bring man forward, into Overman.
  • Inverted in Honor Trip. Future Cell laments Cell is using his powers to protect the world the entire time he's fighting him, and can't seem to wrap his head around why Cell would want to go against his programming.
  • I Will Not Bow: In chapter 60, Kirito says something to this effect to PoH during their fight.
    Kirito: It's a shame you wasted your talents as a PKer, PoH. You could have done great things with the assault team.
  • J-WITCH Series: Inverted. When Hak Foo learns that his fellow Arrogant Kung Fu Guys in the Ice Crew were trained by the monks of the Zu Monastery who are among the world's greatest martial artists, he expresses a belief that they would be the most lethal of assassins if they weren't preaching about the way of peace.
  • Grace Monroe realizes this near the tail end of Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail. She created the Apex as a way to protect kids taken onto the Train to protect themselves. And by "protect', we should mean "raiding cars, burning things, stealing others, tearing families apart, wheeling denizens because they're lesser beings than humans and also torturing other passengers who ruin their fun" all because she's too proud to admit that she needs work and that she's a "master" of the Train. After Awful Truth upon Awful Truth about what the Train is like and what happens if you die on it — not to mention seeing the heroine of the tale die by her closest friend and the Apex not giving a fuck about it — she glumly admits that if she swallowed her pride sooner and thought about the children getting home, the Apex could've been a beneficial group to help passengers who were also separate for years.
  • Kara of Rokyn: In the "Last Waltz with Luthor" arc, Lex Luthor - quite hypocritically and myopically - criticizes Superman for squandering his power in battles with costumed super-beings instead of challenging the status quo and bringing about real world-wide change (and then Lex completely dismisses the fact that's exactly what Lex himself has done all along).
    And what had the idiot done with his great powers? Had he taken over the planet, ended the stupidity of mobocracy or Communism or fascism? Had he unified the world under a common rule, ended war, hunger, and poverty?
    Hell, no!
    All he had done was dress up in an absurd three-colored costume and beat up on crooks.
  • Lost to Dust: Blake Belladonna tells Melanie and Miltia Malachite that they could do a lot of good if they became Huntresses instead of hired goons. They refuse, saying they don't feel like helping people and they don't want media attention.
  • In Mastermind: Strategist for Hire, Principal Nedzu briefly laments that it's a shame that Mastermind's skills and smarts are being used for villainy instead of heroism, and he wishes he could have met whoever Mastermind was before becoming a villain because Nedzu would have gladly taught and nurtured his brilliant mind.
  • Obito-Sensei:
    • Medical-nin Rin at one point muses that Sakura's very high level of Chakra control meant she could have become a medic of the highest caliber (as seen in canon) who would have saved a great many lives. Instead, Sakura channeled that control into pure fighting ability in this timeline, transforming her "scalpel into a sword", Rin admits this realization makes her uncomfortable in a way she can't fully process.
    • When Obito and Sasuke confront Mikoto about her part in the failed Uchiha coup, she tells Obito that for all of his skills and fame, his own lack of confidence kept him from taking the Hokage position from his teacher and using it to expand the Uchiha's influence.
  • My Mirror, Sword and Shield: A lot of people on the Japanese side are extremely disappointed by Suzaku, who is the first Japanese person to become a Knight of the Round and is part of the Emperor’s inner circle. A lot of people were hoping that Suzaku would be an Internal Reformist and advocate for Japanese rights or be The Mole for the Japanese resistance. To their disappointment, Suzaku is genuinely loyal to the Emperor and doesn’t do anything because as a time traveler, he knows that they will work it out on their own.
  • Rise of the Minisukas: The Minisuka "Prankster" declares she has learned how to teleport herself during her ordeal in the crazy forests surrounding Tokyo-3, and she will use her newfound ability to prank Rei. Her "comrades" are shocked and incredulous at her wasting her power like that.
  • RWBY: Fate Disaster: The Argonauts get attacked by a Demon God Pillar who boasts that it has achieved self-awareness and is no longer a slave of Goetia. The Argonauts are disappointed and comment that with its new self-awareness, it could have done something constructive, but instead, it is doing the exact same thing it was doing as a slave of Goetia.
  • The Vasto of White: From his own twisted point of view, Yamamoto comments it is a shame that Shirou's soul was turned into a Hollow, as he might have been an "unparalleled Shinigami".
  • In The Weaver Option, Taylor confronts and kills Drazhar, confirming he was once Phoenix Lord Arhra. She then thinks about how he and the rest of the Drukhari had all the tools and opportunities to make the galaxy a better place but instead chose to become one of its most depraved and vile scourges instead.

    Films — Animation 
  • Megamind: Megamind is outraged when he finds out that Titan has turned to petty crime after being granted the power of a superhero. The irony is lost on him. Though Megamind has a good reason for being a villain, while Titan is given every chance to take a path of good and rejects it. By the end of the movie, Megamind has understood this and actually does start using his abilities for good.
    Megamind: I can't believe you. All your gifts, all your powers and you squander them for your own personal gain!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Big Bad in The Famous Jett Jackson TV movie is told that, with his Voluntary Shapeshifting technology, he could make a killing in the beauty market. The guy merely gets angry at this and points out that he has decided to create his own world instead (by stealing famous cities from all across the globe).
  • In Scanners II: The New Order, David Kellum says this to evil psychic Peter Drak when the latter attacks him telekinetically.
    David: We can all work together! Protect each other. Put our powers to some decent use.
    Drak: I like this use.
  • Sherlock Holmes (2009): Inverted when Lord Coward, The Dragon to Big Bad Lord Blackwood, says it's a shame that Holmes became an enemy to Blackwood, stating he would have been a valuable ally.
  • In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan Kenobi laments to Anakin Skywalker when the latter turns to The Dark Side:
    "You were The Chosen One! It was said you would destroy the Sith, not join them! Bring Balance to The Force, not leave it in darkness!"
  • Summer of Sam: Inverted. The local mob boss (who unconvincingly claims to be a mere plumber) contemptuously tells the Italian cop Lou that he could have been a good "plumber" and expresses anger that he became a cop instead.

  • In Codex Alera, Tavi comments on this effect to Senator Arnos... but takes it back when he realizes Arnos thinks A Million Is a Statistic.
  • Darth Plagueis: Inverted, unsurprisingly. Plagueis tells a crooked gambler and potential apprentice of Venamis that he would respect him more (and allow him to continue his scam unhindered) if the man was doing something more bold and far-reaching with the money, like funding terrorism.
  • In one of Mercedes Lackey's Free Bards omnibus collection of the Bardic Voices novels, a free bard and a guild bard both take this perspective: "it's a shame your talent is wasted complying with guild rules" vs "it's a shame your talent is wasted playing for commoners with no taste". Compared to most free/guild interactions, this is a show of respect.
  • Harry Potter: Inverted twice.
    • Voldemort can't understand why Dumbledore chose to use his powers for good. He considers Dumbledore to be weak and a fool for not taking what was his.
    • This can also apply to Draco Malfoy, but regarding Harry — and at first not regarding magical power, but regarding potential social status, which the Malfoy family tradition dictated should be used for putting others down to highlight one's own supposed excellence. In regards to magic, this is a stereotypical Slytherin's like Malfoy's attitude towards the school, which only teaches Defense Against the Dark Arts.
  • What Jesus pretty much tells the Antichrist in His "The Reason You Suck" Speech to him in the Left Behind book Glorious Appearing. This was a point of contention for certain readers since Jesus pretty much berated him for what God destined him to function as.
  • In the Sherlock Holmes story "The Final Problem", Holmes meditates on the career of one Professor James Moriarty, a wunderkind who wrote an acclaimed thesis which earned him a mathematics chair at his university, all at age 21. However, his tenure was marred by such vile rumors that he resigned in disgrace and wound up eking out a living as a tutor. This later proved to be an ideal front, as no one would have suspected this wizened old math teacher was involved in London's most intricate crime ring—much less the head of it. Later stories expanded on Moriarty's prestige, specifically his ground-breaking book Dynamics of an Asteroid, which should have squared him away in terms of fame and capital. Holmes took this story as proof that intelligence does not alter the potential for sadistic behavior; a similar observation is made concerning Charles Augustus Milverton, a rich aristocrat who spends his days blackmailing people for vast sums, only to spill the secrets anyway once they've gone broke.
  • Fëanor from The Silmarillion. He was the mightiest, most skilled, most puissant of all the Elven race... and the source of their greatest woes. His pride, Hot-Blooded nature and stubbornness lead to unimaginable tragedy. Manwë wept to think that he had fallen and didn't repent, no less than he wept for the Two Trees.
  • Jan Van Eck says this of Kaz in Six of Crows, remarking that with Kaz's intellect, he could have built great things as a member of the merchant class. Instead, he joined a gang and set his mind to cons and crimes. Than again, Jan ain't exactly a stunning example of good.
  • Gary Seven tries to make Khan into an agent in Star Trek: The Eugenics Wars. Khan's murderous tendencies, unpredictable nature, and ego shoot this down spectacularly.
  • In Warrior Cats: The Darkest Hour, after Tigerstar's death, Firestar reflects on how Tigerstar could have been one of the greatest leaders the Clans had known, but that he'd misused his skill and natural abilities in his quest for power and that it had eventually led to his end.
  • In the final book of The Wheel of Time, Rand doesn't get to say this to his previous incarnation's Rival Turned Evil Demandred to his face, but he does reflect sadly on how Demandred could—and should—have been a great hero rather than the Shadow's most feared general, and feels a certain amount of guilt over encouraging their rivalry and playing a part in driving Demandred to evil.
  • Played with in Terry Pratchett's Witches Abroad. Granny Weatherwax despises her sister for being evil... because it meant she had to be good! And she would have been much, much better at evil than her sister ever was... Her sister Lily, meanwhile, thinks she is using her powers for good. Which is one of the reasons Granny thinks she'd be better at it — at least she'd realize she was evil and could have had fun with it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Breaking Bad, after going through Gale's notes on Walt's technique, Hank (under the impression that Gale was Heisenberg) comments to the rest of the family that he could've used his talent to help humanity. Allowing his pride to get in the way, Walter responds to his Oblivious Guilt Slinging by telling him that the real Heisenberg was still out there.
  • One of the Breakout Kings is Lloyd, a Living Lie Detector behaviorist who despite his talent, has poor people skills. After accepting a deal to become a Boxed Crook, he calls his mother to explain the deal to her. Her only response is a sigh and "You could have been so much more..."
  • Played for laughs in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, at the end of "Ted". Coming right after a discussed example, when Willow comments on how tragic it is that the original Ted's brilliance was turned to evil. Though this isn't addressed to the villain, and it's a might-have-been uttered when it's far too late for him.
    Buffy: Willow, tell me you didn't keep any parts.
    Willow: Not any... big ones.
    Buffy: Oh, Will, you're supposed to use your powers for good.
    • This foreshadows both the Buffybot and Dark Willow in later seasons.
  • Doctor Who uses this a lot. The Doctor's most common target is probably the Master, but the Rani and any number of villains of the week get it as well. For instance, from "The End of Time":
    "You're a genius, you're stone-cold brilliant, you are, I swear, you really are. But you could be so much more. You could be beautiful."
  • In an early episode of Farscape, upon witnessing a particularly impressive example of Peacekeeper engineering, Crichton expresses regret that the Peacekeepers couldn't have used their knowledge to do good instead of mercenary service- or, as Aeryn puts it, "To fulfill your vision of who we should be?" Of course, by the time Aeryn and the other members of the crew are inclined to listen to a word he says, Crichton's idealism has well and truly disappeared. Ironically it's later revealed the Peacekeepers originally were formed to do good as a peacekeeping force, but became corrupted over time.
  • Get Smart used this explicitly a time or two, often as part of The Stinger. "If only he would have used his [whatever] for niceness, instead of rottenness."
  • Played for laughs on The IT Crowd when Douglas gets a robot hand replacement and laughs maniacally as he wrecks his office with it.
    Moss: I would have used my robot hand for good!
  • In Jessica Jones (2015) the Big Bad, Kilgrave, has the ability to compel anyone to do anything he says. In one episode we briefly get a glimpse of the potential he could have had as a hero when he effortlessly stops a man taking his family hostage with a simple word and then commands him to hand himself over to the police. Jessica briefly muses over the fact she has a slim chance to teach him to use his powers to do an incredible amount of good in the world. However, she quickly dismisses this notion and knows that Kilgrave is too far gone at this point.
  • Kamen Rider Gaim:
    • Takatora says this to Micchy during their fight.
      Takatora: Why did you only learn from the dark parts of me? You could have shone brighter than I ever could!
    • Ryoma advises Kouta that's also along these lines.
      Ryoma: Abandon your captured family. Give up on the friend who betrayed you. Feel no guilt for the murder of your friend. If you could find the will to be ruthless, then you'd be freed from all your stress in an instant.
  • As the page quote shows, this is attempted in No Heroics, although the recipient, Lightkiller, seems to be a believer in Bad Powers, Bad People.

    Video Games 
  • In Diablo III, the Demon Vidian uses the evil variant, mocking The Nephalem over the fact that, by the time they meet him, they have amply demonstrated that they are powerful enough that they could conquer and rule Hell itself... and instead, they simply use their powers to protect the weak and serve as a lackey to a Fallen Angel.
  • Far Cry:
    • Far Cry 3: Hoyt claims that, as Jason has spent most of the game butchering and sabotaging his way across the Rook Islands for the sake of the Rakyat, he could have just joined Hoyt's mercenaries and have made a profit doing so. A.k.a. You Could Have Used Your Powers for PROFITABLE Evil. Jason, after seeing what Hoyt turned Vaas into AND what happened to his brothers and an entire populated Yacht, flips off Hoyt. Hoyt cuts off a finger. It's implied, during the ending, that Hoyt believed based on his knowledge of the "natives" that they were pirates under a twisted cult centered around Rook's royalty. He may have been right.
    • Far Cry 4 offers a "you could have used your powers for less evil" variant when Pagan Min remarks that rather than "joining the monkeys and throwing one's shit around" you could have simply joined and supported him instead, and succeeded in your quest of delivering your mother's ashes in less than an hour with considerably less bloodshed. Indeed he has one hell of a point: it turns out whichever rebel leader you side with is equally evil to the other and merely a different kind of evil than Min, and sure enough there is an Easter Egg ending found by waiting at the dinner table like Min tells you to... where you promptly go to deliver Ishwari's ashes and join Min in "shooting some goddamned guns".
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Edelgard says this about Miklan, the disowned elder son of Margrave Gautier who formed a gang of bandits and stole the Lance of Ruin, saying that an individual as talented as him could have accomplished much if he had not been judged unworthy of inheriting House Gautier due to not having a Crest.
  • In Ghostbusters: The Video Game, Ray feels this way about Ivo Shandor, who developed tech on par with the Ghostbusters decades ahead of them, but used it for destructive purposes.
    Ray: You can't deny the pure genius of Shandor. It's a pity that it was all used for evil. If he'd just channelled some of it for good... the things he could've done.
  • In GoldenEye, during the finale on the Cradle, Janus delivers the "for evil" version when he chides Bond for choosing to side with "the pen-pushers" instead of joining him.
  • In Half-Life 2, as Gordon Freeman is relentlessly making his way up through the portal reactor chamber to sabotage Dr. Breen's escape attempt, he will be met with the exclamation: "If only you had harnessed your boundless energy for a useful purpose!"
  • In Jade Empire, you can tell this to the Big Bad. He responds by claiming that he would find that a waste of his talents.
    The Player Character: You were a great teacher. Your skill was wasted on evil ambition.
    Master Li: I am not satisfied with helping others surpass me. I quickly tired of elevating my brother, and I will not learn to serve you.
  • In Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires' Conspiracy, Katrielle says this about the Big Bad, Lord Adamas (in reality, Katrielle's assistant Ernest Greeves), who concocted a revenge plot against the Seven Dragons for supposedly causing his family to fall into financial ruin since she believes that there are better uses for his talents. She's well aware of what he can do since he was her assistant for the entire game.
  • In Mass Effect 3, a Commander Shepard who follows the Paragon route invokes this whenever they talk to the Illusive Man (the Renegade options have the same gist, they're just blunter). In the Citadel DLC, the Mysterious Figure aka Shepard's evil clone gets similar treatment. James is, like everyone else, horrified by the truth behind Sanctuary, but still acknowledges the end results were impressive. After the mission is over, he'll muse "[The Illusive Man]'s crazy, but damn imagine if he was on our side."
  • Mega Man
    • In Mega Man 11, Dr. Light is shown to feel this way about Dr. Wily. The game's backstory elaborates on the beginning of their feud and Wily's subsequent Start of Darkness, revealing that as university students, Light petitioned their school to stop Wily's research on boosting robots' speed and power output. Light himself is shown to feel guilty about this fact, and at the end of the game, he makes a plea with Wily to work together again and combine Wily's power boost engineering with Light's AI study. Wily of course rejects the plea, leading Light to lament that Wily's ego has consumed him.
    • In the ending of Megaman Battle Network 3 White And Blue, a data version of Tadashi Hikari respects Dr. Wily's abilities as a scientist while lamenting his Face–Heel Turn. This is justified because they worked on the Soulnet together, so he knows what Wily would be capable of if he used his skills for good. In the NA version of the sixth game, Wily does end up turning back to good to work on improving Internet security.
  • If you contact Otacon after defeating Psycho Mantis in Metal Gear Solid, he laments that Mantis could have used his exceptional psychic powers for good if he didn't have the shitty life that made him Ax-Crazy. If his backstory is true, allegedly he was an FBI investigator; that is he did try to use his powers for good until he got too far into the mind of a killer and became just like him.
  • Pokémon: Frequently Inverted, as members of the various evil teams will often comment how the player's skill and strength could have made him/her a powerful ranking member of their organization.
  • In SaGa Frontier, after the final battle with Metal Black, Alkaiser says to the defeated villain that he could have used his powers for good.
  • Shantae and the Pirate's Curse: At the end, once the Pirate Master is defeated and the two's Enemy Mine is over, Shantae tries to urge Risky Boots to the side of good this way. Risky declines and compares it to when Shantae was dressed and acting like a pirate: she's capable of acting like a good guy but deep down she's just not a good guy and never will be.
  • Often found in Light Side vs. Dark Side fights in Star Wars.
    • Such as in Knights of the Old Republic, when Light Side Revan apologizes to Darth Malak for leading him on the path to the Dark Side, but reminds him that it was Malak who chose to follow that path to the end.
    • And Kreia delivers a somewhat twisted version of this trope to a Dark Side Exile during the climax, in a combination with You Have Failed Me, What the Hell, Hero? and "The Reason You Suck" Speech. Notably, it's not so much because you could have followed the Light Side instead of the dark side so much as the whole part that you have severed yourself from the Force, made a comeback, and still not realized any of the implications behind it. If the Exile is Light Side the speech gets delivered to the Jedi Council instead — just before she kills them all for sticking to their outdated dogmas even in the face of evidence that life without the Force is possible and they are wrong.
    • In The Force Unleashed, the mortally wounded Shaak-Ti tells Starkiller, "You are Vader's slave, but your power is wasted with him. You could be so much more." Starkiller eventually does pull a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Discussed in Undertale, should you meet certain conditions by the last area of the game ( kill Papyrus, who's the easiest boss in the game to Spare). Sans, the brother of Papyrus, alludes to his awareness of your power to save and reload the game, and asks you: "if you have some sort of special power... isn't it your responsibility to do the right thing?" If you answer yes, he will then ask why, despite what you claim to believe, you still killed his brother. If you answer no, he'll say he won't judge you for it..."you dirty brother killer."
  • In World of Warcraft, one of the whispers of the Old God Y'Shaarj mocks you for still following other people's orders like a lap dog after all you've done for Azeroth. It intends to make you succumb to your pride and feed it.
    Y'Shaarj: All that you have accomplished, all that you have won, he he he he. Yet still you lick the boots of kings.

    Visual Novels 
  • An unusual example in Double Homework. Dennis, standing nearly naked in the snow, tells the protagonist that they could have cooperated for a mutually beneficial outcome, instead of getting them both on the kill list of Dr. Mosely/Zeta.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes:
    • Wasp does this in a tongue-in-cheek manner during her first encounter with Whirlwind, telling him he could have used his cyclone-generating powers to mix drinks or cool people off instead of petty theft.
    • Hank Pym says this to Graviton upon his defeat. Made ironic because Graviton is a possible case of Then Let Me Be Evil.
  • The Batman: Batman doesn't hide how pathetic he thinks Cluemaster is; having obsessed over kidnapping people he wanted revenge on from a game show he lost as a child all because he refuses to admit he gave the wrong answer to a question he insisted on, instead of using his talents and intellect to do some actual good like his former competitor did.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, Spidey asks the Sandman why he chooses to do evil when he could just as easily be a superhero. At the end of the episode, Sandman ends up changing sides and making a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983): When He-Man and Skeletor are forced to work together, He-Man asks Skeletor if he's ever considered using his great power for good. Skeletor retorts by asking him if he's ever considered using his great power for evil.
  • Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures: In "Escape to Questworld", Race Bannon points out Surd could've used his abilities to help mankind and Surd asks why he should care.
  • In the Oh Yeah! Cartoons short "Super Santa: Vegetation", Santa tells Dr. Carmine Miranda that he could've used his horticultural knowledge for good when confronting the villain.
  • In the Origins Episode of Miraculous Ladybug, it's stated that the source of Hawk Moth's powers, the Butterfly Miraculous, was intended to transform people into heroes by empowering them.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Not mentioned, but the main reason why the Mane Six end up bringing in the Heel–Face Turn-inflicted Starlight Glimmer into the fold in the Season 5 finale — despite her misguided ways, she's an incredibly powerful unicorn and with her unhinged and friendless, the Mane Six just couldn't possibly let her go.
    • In fact, what with the general theme of redemption through friendship, this has happened repeatedly throughout the series. Notable examples include Fluttershy being charged with bringing Discord around in Season 3 — they could've just kept him petrified, but if his powers could be used for good, it'd be of great benefit!
    • And earlier on in Season 5, even Diamond Tiara demonstrates that when redeemed by friendship, she can use her powers for good — even though that power happens to be a potent talent for manipulation and blackmail.
  • Teen Titans sees Cyborg infiltrate the HIVE Academy as The Mole, where he quickly rises in popularity amongst the student body. When Cyborg finally breaks ranks after it looked for a moment that Brother Blood had successfully turn-coated him via More than Mind Control, Jinx (who developed a crush on his disguise) has this exchange with him.
    Jinx: You could have been one of us.
    Cyborg: I could have been a lot of things.
  • In ThunderCats, after Lion-O narrowly defeats The Demolisher, Lion-O tries to persuade Demolisher to join the good guys and put his great strength and skill to use doing good instead of pointless fights (The Demolisher fights any strong opponent, not caring about their alignment). Demolisher gets very offended and leaves the planet. Lion-O comments that it is a shame that such a fine warrior would waste his talents like that.
  • In Young Justice when Aqualad finally blows his cover as The Mole, his father Black Manta is left agape and asks how he could betray him like that. Aqualad retorts that, despite being conflicted and having genuinely come to admire Black Manta's noble qualities, he simply cannot be on his father's side so long as the man continues to waste his talents on villainy.

Alternative Title(s): You Could Have Used Your Powers For Evil