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Morality Pet / Live-Action TV

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  • 24:
    • Renee Walker starts out as this for Jack Bauer...then she cut a guy's thumb off with a jamb saw.
    • Some other characters such as Kim or Chloe can be this on occasion to Jack as well, with Chloe especially serving as this in the series finale.
    • After transitioning from complete Jerkass to one that still had a good side to him, Tom Lennox actually managed to be this to Vice President Noah Daniels.
  • Arrow: Oliver Queen started out as a hardened killer of bad guys who gradually turns into DCTV's Batman. He does this thanks to his sister, Thea. And his best friend, Tommy. And his ex, Laurel. And his bodyguard, Diggle. And his assistant, Felicity. And his friend, Barry Allen. Oliver is the Crazy Morality Pet Lady of television.
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  • Babylon Berlin: Wolter is a blunt, brutish, rough semi-thug who rarely cares about others' feelings—unless it's Emmi, his psychologically damaged wife. With her, he becomes an entirely different man: kind, gentle, patient and compassionate.
  • Babylon 5: Vir is pretty much Londo's Morality Pet, especially in seasons 2 and 3 as Londo becomes more and more tainted by the Shadows.
  • Borgia: Lucrezia to Cesare is the most prominent example, but Cesare actually has quite a few. His children, sometimes his mother Vannozza, and his wife Charlotte when he remembers her, are also morality pets to him.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel:
    • Dawn and Joyce fill the role for Spike. Spike values how they treat him. After Joyce dies, you can see that, as soulless bloodsuckers go, he's not all bad.
      • Buffy too in S7, after Spike gains his soul and seeks redemption. She used to be his Morality Chain in Season 5 and 6.
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    • Buffy serves as this for Angel. She inspired him to redeem himself and be a champion. She gives Angel this odd stability on his self-esteem and moral choices, particularly in the comics when Buffy convinced Angel to reject Twilight (a prophecy with many morally questionable implications)
    • Mayor Wilkins has this sort of relationship to his Dragon, Faith, who in turn regards him as a Parental Substitute. Cue Papa Wolf-fueled Villainous Breakdown when Buffy puts her in a coma.
    • Fred is this for Wesley after he goes ruthless and a lot more darker, even willing to kill his own father. She balances out his craziness with her sweet, more innocent personality.
      • Ironically, Wesley himself was one for Illyria, an Old One who possessed Fred's body and 'killed' her from the inside out., though he was a lousy role model himself.
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    • Cordelia is another one for Angel on his own show, helping keep him grounded and connected in a world he's largely disconnected from. Her spirit even came back twice and in both cases inspired him to do the right thing.
    • Angel sort of becomes this for Faith during her last stages of being evil. He convinces Faith to redeem herself because he could relate to her bad choices and served as a reliable friend when she had no one.
      • Ironically, a more matured Faith returns the favor (literally). After Angel killed Giles and committed deaths of 200 slayers because of "Twilight", Angel valued her because she was exactly what he needed: a friend to trust who could stop him from crossing lines.
  • Burn Notice:
    • Michael's mother and to a lesser extent his brother are his morality pets. His mother is a straight example. Nate is more complicated as he is useless and morally dubious but harmless and he frustrates Michael a lot. However the fact that he awakens Michael's Big Brother Instinct makes him this.
    • Michael's more pitiful clients tend to be this for Michael as well.
    • Michael is arguably Fiona's Morality Pet. She would be a lot nastier without him.
  • Charmed: Chris is hinted to be this for evil Wyatt.
  • Quico and Profesor Jirafales are likely this for Doña Florinda in El Chavo del ocho. Don Ramón's daughter La Chilindrina (along with El Chavo himself sometimesnote ) is definitely this for him.
  • Community:
    • Annie for Jeff.
    • This is rather ironic as in the first season finale, Jeff ultimately chooses Annie as a representation of both change and being oneself in comparison to Britta and Slater. Quite literally, Annie was the best of both worlds for Jeff.
    • Also Pierce; Pierce has on several occasions noted that Annie is his favourite, and if anyone is likely to provoke a glimpse into his extremely well-buried nice side, it's her. Conversely, Annie will also be the first to defend Pierce to the others.
  • Criminal Minds: In a very dark example, Ellie Spicer becomes this to Billy Flynn, the most prolific serial killer and rapist to appear on the show. Killing Ellie's grandparents when her father, Matt, was a child, Billy develops a "grandfather complex" towards Ellie. Killing Matt, Billy kidnaps Ellie and tries to turn her into a protégé, treating her as the granddaughter he doesn't have. Sick as it may be, his treatment of Ellie is the only evidence that there might still be something human inside Billy; when the fact that what he's doing to her is bad is pointed out to him, Billy lets her go, than goes to his suicidal death. Also, Stan Wolcott is one of these for Vincent Rowlings in the episode "The Big Wheel."
  • The Defenders (2017):
    • Daredevil (2015):
      • Karen Page and Foggy Nelson are Matt Murdock's morality pets. Foggy's been best friends with Matt since they met in college, and even brings Matt's Daredevil suit to the precinct when he, Luke, and Jessica get arrested. Likewise, Karen has been the one person Matt has ever willingly shown his more vulnerable side.
      • Karen also is a morality pet for Frank Castle, who looks at her as if she were his daughter. In his own show, Frank freaks out when Lewis Wilson, a PTSD-riddled Army vet in Curtis's support group, begins targeting her.
      • James Wesley and Vanessa Marianna are Wilson Fisk's morality pets. Wesley is the only one in the syndicate to approve of Fisk's relationship with Vanessa, and Fisk is devastated after Karen kills Wesley. Likewise, Fisk's desire to protect Vanessa from his criminal activities, lead him to committing even more violent acts which she encourages.
      • At the same time, though, Fisk has an inability to keep his emotions in check when it comes to Wesley and Vanessa. Leland Owlsley uses this against him, giving Fisk an ultimatum to either let Leland part with half his money and out of the organization, or he'll have Hoffman reveal all of Fisk's criminal activities to the FBI. Fisk kills him regardless because he conspired with Madame Gao to poison Vanessa. Even though he does send men to kill Hoffman afterwards, Matt gets to Hoffman first.
      • Father Lantom helps convince Matt of his better nature, and prevent him from crossing the line into killing.
    • Jessica Jones (2015):
      • Played with for Pam, Jeri Hogarth's secretary and mistress. While Pam does have standards, she does encourage Jeri's more ruthless side.
      • Trish Walker functions as one for Jessica, and has been ever since Jessica gave her the confidence to stand up to her abusive mother. Even Kilgrave is aware that Jessica doesn't seem to love anyone but Trish, which is why he intends to leave New York together with Trish and make her his plaything, to torture Jessica.
    • Luke Cage (2016):
      • Mariah Dillard initially seems like she'll be one to Cottonmouth, albeit one that is in the grey due to benefiting off his corrupt dealings. Ultimately she proves she's actually much worse, which culminates in her murdering her cousin, framing his death on Luke Cage, and taking control over his criminal empire.
    • Iron Fist (2017):
      • Zig-zagged with Harold Meachum. For most of the show, Harold is nothing but a rude and dismissive toward Kyle. After dying and resurrecting again, he makes a genuine effort to bond with him, but this is when he snaps and beats Kyle to death with an ice cream scoop just because Kyle asks for vanilla ice cream. Given that the Hand's resurrection substance causes the subject to turn on their closest loved ones first, in an incredibly perverse way the fact that Kyle is the first person he kills after this resurrection proves that Harold did care for him like a family member all along.
    • The Punisher (2017):
      • David Lieberman in a nutshell is Frank Castle's. He has no ethical issue with Frank's methods and Frank doesn't stray too far away from his usual violent ways. But David and his family provide Frank with the first solid, human connection that he has been able to commit to in quite some time, and Frank makes more compromises with him in regards to his usual ruthless methods than with any other character. Hearing him say thank you to David or laugh at him is occasionally pretty jarring, given Frank's usual demeanor and standoffish behavior towards Matt and Karen. In fact, whereas Matt, Karen and Foggy had trouble throughout all of Daredevil season 2 getting him to cooperate with the system, Frank says he is willing to cooperate with Dinah Madani the instant that David exposes himself in a failed attempt to try to reach out to his son.

  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor tends to need companions to do this for him. As SF Debris noted, this was apparent from his earliest appearance in the Classic Series, when the First Doctor was ready to bash an injured man's head in to save his own hide and only stopped by the intervention by the human he'd previously disparaged for being a primitive in comparison to himself. A more understated example is Jo, who the Third Doctor's obvious nurturing of tends to soften his rudeness towards her and others. "The Deadly Assassin" veered into darker territory with the Fourth Doctor, which took place immediately after the departure of Sarah-Jane Smith and wherein the Doctor had no companion for the duration of the story, and he soon cheers up again after spending time with Leela and picking up K-9. The new series makes this dynamic more explicit — after he loses Rose and Donna initially decides not to go with him, she tells the Tenth Doctor to find someone because sometimes he "needs someone to stop [him]" from going too far, and when he stops taking companions he goes off the deep end.
  • ER Jeanie Boulet and John Carter might be the only people Kerry Weaver was ever consistently nice to without an ulterior motive and could genuinely call friends.
  • Firefly: Not a single member of the crew is too tough to be concerned about Kaylee.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Subverted with Arya and Tywin in Season 2. He does seem genuinely fond of her but it doesn't stop him from leaving her to Gregor Clegane, and probable death, once he leaves town.
    • In Seasons 3-4, it is played straighter with Arya and Sandor "The Hound" Clegane, who spares a farmer after she pleads for him to do so and gradually treats her with increasing respect. Noticeably, the point where Sandor clearly gets on board with killing Polliver, is when he suggests trading Sandor a chicken in exchange for being able to rape Arya.
    • Jaime isn't nice at all on his return to King's Landing, as evident when he forces himself on Cersei but Tyrion and Brienne bring out the best in him, and he's incredibly nice and generous to them. Myrcella is this for him in Season 5, with him going all the way to Dorne with only Bronn for backup specifically to rescue her, showing subtle disapproval at seeing her kissing Trystane and generally worrying a lot about her wellbeing. Sadly, she dies just after he admits he's her real father.
    • Podrick is one for Bronn, as he is one of the only people Bronn will do anything nice for without expecting any form of payback and when they are briefly reunited in Season 6, Bronn is delighted to see the young Squire is alive and well.
    • Shireen to Stannis. Unlike Selyse, who is maliciously neglectful of Shireen, Stannis seems to genuinely care for her (the few times he bothers to visit Shireen's dark tower room) and tries to connect with her, despite having a hard time with it. He also reacts with restrained Tranquil Fury when Selyse suggests beating her. Unfortunately, this doesn't stop him from eventually sacrificing her.
  • Glee:
    • Sue's sister, and Becky Jackson. It's kind of played with with Becky, as Sue is about as abusive to Becky as she is to other students, which is kind of the point, as Becky has Down's Syndrome, and Sue treats her, if not well, then exactly like she would any other girl her age, likely because of her sister.
    • Beth, daughter of Quinn and Puck, though she's more Puck's morality pet.
    • Brittany, for Santana, showing that the latter is actually capable of a deep interpersonal relationship.
    • Rachel for Jesse. He's a dick to pretty much everyone except Rachel.
    • A meta example — Ryan Murphy's other shows (Nip/Tuck, American Horror Story) are intensely dark and disturbing. If you buy Glee's hopeful and optimistic message of inclusiveness as sincere, the show itself becomes this.
  • Heroes:
    • In the fourth episode of season 3, a kid named Noah, who is apparently Sylar's son is the most distilled version of the Morality Pet ever seen for future!Sylar. He claims to have curbed his "hunger" for him. When he dies, Sylar explodes.
    • This show has quite a few: Nikki has a son that she throws herself into the action for to protect. More significantly, HRG has a surrogate daughter which leads him toward a straighter path than if he didn't have a daughter.
    • Heroes writers apparently believe Sylar is in desperate need of a Morality Pet. At the end of Season 4, Peter arguably applies, when he and Sylar are trapped together in the episode, 'the Wall', although it could be argued that Peter wasn't the impetus for Sylar's change of heart; Sylar's reformation was already underway. Too bad, but I think I see some Badass Decay in Sylar's future.
    • Whatever else Nathan Petrelli may be, you can't say he doesn't love his little brother.
  • House has Wilson. Most of the time.
    • The writers tried to set up Cameron as one in the earlier seasons, but it didn't really take and she eventually turned into a self-righteous hypocrite who only thinks she's a Morality Pet.
  • Jericho: In season 2, Heather is a textbook example of that to Major Beck.
  • In Kamen Rider Decade, Natsumi and Yuusuke act as Tsukasa's moral compass.
  • Kamen Rider Ryuki:
    • Convicted serial killer Asakura Takeshi saves a little girl and protects her from monsters in an apparent Pet the Dog moment. It turns into a Kick the Dog when Asakura reveals that he cares nothing for her and was just using her as monster bait. Then back to a Pet the Dog when he ends up waiting outside her hospital bedroom to see if she gets better, even after she has no more use to him.
    • Before Character Development hits, the slimy "super lawyer" Kitaoka's only redeeming characteristic is the mutual respect between him and his Battle Butler, Gorou Yura.
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid presents a convulted example in Nico Saiba and Taiga Hanaya. Their relationship is a mutual one, because they need to balance each other out. Nico easies Taiga's jerkish tendencies and he treats her irresponsible attitude. Sometimes, she hates him for making her care about his suicidal ass. Sometimes, he hates her for her casual flipping off whatever Cthulhu passes around, causing him constant stress and worry.
  • Kamen Rider Build: Sento and Misora inittially had to work hard on keeping Ryuga from either slipping off the slippery slope or getting himself killed by doing something stupid in anger. Ryuga eventually repayed the favor by acting like Sento's moral compass when he hesitated and by being immensely protective towards both.
  • Kirby Buckets: Dawn, Kirby's nasty older sister, usually acts like a nice, regular teenager when she's around Belinda.
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent: Gwen Chapel is this for Nicole Wallace. She goes so far as to ultimately give Gwen up because she realizes that there's a very real possibility that the same instinct that drove her to murder her toddler years earlier will resurface and cause her to hurt Gwen.
  • Lucifer (2016):
    • Chloe for Lucifer. She literally brings out his humanity, and is able to talk him down from seriously hurting the criminals they catch.
    • Trixie is one for Maze.
  • M*A*S*H:
    • Charles' little sister Honoria appears to be one to him. He is a complete pompous jerkass to everybody else but his love for her inspires him to stick up for a soldier who stutters. Later, it is revealed Honoria stutters. The few times we see him addressing her via tape recording, he speaks in a much gentler, softer voice than to anybody else.
    • B.J. is frequently this to Hawkeye as well, in contrast to Trapper, who was purely The Foil. This is somewhat subverted, however, in that 1) Hawkeye doesn't always listen to him and 2) B.J. can be in need of a restraint sometimes himself (such as when Hawkeye has to stop him from punching out a patient in "Rally 'Round the Flagg, Boys" or when he has an emotional breakdown in "Period of Adjustment.")
    • Also subverted with Margaret and Frank in that, though Margaret is the only person (besides Frank's mother) he is shown to care about, he is just as terrible and nasty with her as he without, though possibly a little saner.
    • Oddly averted with Radar. You'd think he would be one of these given his loveable farmboy-naif personality, but the various jerkass/antagonist characters (Frank, Charles, Col. Flagg) not only consistently treat him like crap but seem to make an express point of doing so. Even Margaret never quite warmed up to him like she eventually did with Hawkeye and co.
  • NCIS: Gibbs is all about business and tough love with almost everyone, except with Abby, whom he kisses on the cheek and gives hugs, massages and occasional roses, among other things. No, they're not screwing. It's a father/daughter relationship. He also acts significantly warmer towards children (stated to be because "when they lie, they don't have the guile to get away with it") and his father.
  • Once Upon a Time: Henry is this for Regina/The Evil Queen. In season two, Belle and his son, Baelfire/Neal is this for Gold/Rumplestiltskin. In season three, Henry also becomes this for Rumplestiltskin.
  • Orphan Black: Kira serves as this for Helena. It's implied she plays a similar role for her mother, Sarah.
  • Power Rangers: Several villains in have morality pets that show them capable of love and kindness and may even try (intentionally or not) to cause a Heel–Face Turn, but the only one who actually succeeded was Nadira from Power Rangers Time Force, daughter of the Big Bad, Ransik. He showed during the series that he was willing to put his hatred aside for her happiness, and pulled a Heel–Face Turn entirely when she jumped into the line of fire after twigging onto the Cycle of Revenge.
  • Revolution: Emma Bennett in the episode "Home" acts as this to Sebastian Monroe of all people. While she wasn't able to get him to stop trying to kill people, he did prove that there is a measure of humanity left in him and that he doesn't enjoy being a Big Bad guy. Her death really got to him, and the fact that she had given birth to his son and sent him away some time ago eventually causes him to experience a Heel Realization.
  • Rome has Eirene, Titus Pullo's vulnerable, doe-eyed slave and later love interest, whom he rescued. Unfortunately, Pullo's a Sociopathic Hero (though played for drama more than comedy) and his idea of expressing love for her is a little...warped.
  • Salem: Isaac for Mary.
  • Scrubs:
    • Dr. Cox and Jordan seem to have a morality pet in their son, Jack, and their daughter, Jennifer Dylan. The main character, J.D., might also count as one.
    • In a strange way, Dr. Cox is something of a Morality Pet for J.D. Rather than in the traditional sense, J.D.'s interactions with his mentor sometimes force him to really think about whether he's more interested in playing by the rules or saving lives, and which is the "right" choice when the two diverge.
    • The Janitor has one in Elliot (or "Blonde Doctor" as he would call her) in the more traditional sense.
  • The Secret Circle:
    • Melissa for Faye.
    • Interestingly, Diana for Cassie.
    • Also, Adam for Cassie. Adam prevents Cassie from going over the edge, especially in regards to her Dark Magic. Adam, along with Diana, is one of the few people who can actually get through to Cassie.
    • Diana for Charles.
    • Cassie for Jake.
    • Melissa for Nick.
  • The Shadow Line: Has Joseph Bede's Alzheimer's-afflicted wife. It makes it a lot easier to root for a wholesale cocaine dealer knowing that's he's only involved in One Last Job to pay for her treatment.
  • Sherlock:
    • John Watson for Sherlock. Sherlock sees him as a friend; indeed, John is the only person Sherlock sees as a friend. John's presence humanizes Sherlock somewhat, forcing into question Sherlock's self-diagnosis of "high-functioning sociopath". When John's life is threatened in 'The Great Game', solving what Moriarty is up to becomes second to making sure John is all right. Moriarty even refers to John as Sherlock's "little pet".
    • Also, Mrs Hudson — Sherlock may not count her as a friend, per se, but he is openly affectionate with her in a way he never is with anyone who is not John.
    • Greg Lestrade is this to Sherlock on some level, too. He is just about the only person at Scotland Yard that Sherlock actually likes, and whenever he calls the police, he either calls Lestrade directly or asks to be put through to him. Greg has also come over to 221B Baker Street a couple of times for purely social events, and he was one of the three people that Moriarty targeted for assassination to coerce Sherlock into committing suicide (with the other two being Mrs. Hudson and, of course, John). He is also one of the first people to whom Sherlock reveals himself to be alive upon returning to London, with Sherlock only visiting John and Molly before him.
    • Molly Hooper has gradually morphed from Sherlock's personal Chew Toy (from Series 1 and the beginning of Series 2) to another Morality Pet (from the end of Series 2 onwards). She was the first person the typically remorseless Sherlock ever apologised to for his cutting deductions, and he's started being downright sweet to her since she helped him fake his own death.
    • As of Season 3, Mary Watson counts as one as well.
  • Skins: Effy was this for Tony, since his relationship with her was the only sign that he had any empathy at all during the first season. Although, Effy was much more than a Morality Pet and perfectly capable of carrying her own stories, so this example isn't one-dimensional as the trope description might suggest.
  • Smallville:
  • Stargate SG-1: Daniel Jackson and to some extent the whole team for Jack O'Neill. Daniel, enthusiastic, morally upright, slightly gullible civilian, seems to bring out the nobler side of the grouchy, hardened, ex-black ops O'Neill, who can be pretty ruthless when left to his own devices. Though the stances were reversed on one occasion.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Tora Ziyal is this to her Cardassian father, Gul Dukat during seasons 4, 5, and 6. Though since Dukat goes insane after she is killed and eventually becomes the Bajoran antichrist, this could also be a Morality Chain.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: Harry Kim is this at the beginning for Tom Paris, though it quickly fades into a more balanced friendship. The first time we see Tom genuinely being nice, he's defending Harry from Quark's attempt to scam him, and Harry manages to get through Tom's defenses when he refuses to be driven away by Tom's past. It's the first sign that there's more to Tom Paris than meets the eye.
  • Supernatural:
    • Dean is this for Soulless Sam in Season 6.
    • Castiel acts as this for Meg in Seasons 7-8. This starts when Castiel is severely depressed after absorbing Sam's mental illness in season 7, and while he is being mind-controlled by the angel Naomi in season 8. It comes to a head in season 8, episode 17 when Meg dies to buy Castiel and the Winchesters some time. She refers to Castiel as her "unicorn."
  • The Vampire Diaries:
    • Gives evil vampire Klaus one in the form of Caroline.
    • Elena is this for Damon. On occasion Stefan, and lately Jeremy, fulfill this function but it's really all about Elena. Depending on the viewer's interpretation of Damon, Elena may in fact be his Morality Chain.
    • Stefan also gradually represents this to Katherine after she's turned human by The Cure and dying from old age. Her feelings for him inspire her to want to be a better person and earn forgiveness.
    • Matt becomes this for Rebekah in season 4.
  • The Walking Dead gives us an interesting example. After being on the road for almost a year after his defeat in the previous season, The Governor adopts a little girl and her family. He genuinely wants to change his ways, but he quickly becomes worse than ever in the things he does to protect them. An odd case where the morality pet actually makes a character worse.
    • A more straightforward example is Daryl, who plays this role to his older brother, Merle.
  • Deconstructed in The Wire. D'Angelo Barksdale seems to think it's too late for him to get out of the game, but starts to see a bit of himself in a younger and equally disaffected dealer, Wallace, who's traumatized by witnessing Brandon's brutal torture and murder. D'Angelo tries to help the kid get on the straight and narrow — however, other members of the gang see Wallace drifting away and interpret it (accurately, as it happens) as a sign he's a snitch. Wallace's murder drives a wedge between D'Angelo and Avon, and foreshadows his own murder when he too expresses a desire to put "the game" behind him.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: Arguably Harper and/or Justin, for Alex.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: Gabrielle plays this role for Xena.

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