American Idol: Simon Cowell had a completely literal Pet the Dog moment on Season 7...a contestant entered with a six-week-old Pomeranian puppy named Panda, who she handed over to the judges. Simon very quickly nabbed the little creature, and his next words were, "I'm going to steal your dog." He kept stroking that little puppy through the entire audition, and it took some coaxing to get Panda out of his arms again.
Ray Carling, who began his tenure in-universe as one of the least endearing human beings on the face of the earth, gets a fair number of these, starting in Season 1 when, despite holding views that could accurately be described as "everythingist," he's the only one in the station who has time for a traumatized young black woman who turns out to be a prostitute, a rape victim, and the key to the week's case. More recently he gets a hugeTear Jerker moment while talking down the episode's antagonist, a traumatized Falklands veteran, with a speech about how he came from a family of decorated military heroes, and everyone expected him to follow in their footsteps, but he was so terrified that he sabotaged his own enlistment interview... And later on he kisses Alex on the cheek. Awwww.
And what of the Guv himself, the hardened DCI Gene Hunt? He's had quite a few "pet the dog" moments in the Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes universe, including a particularly notable example at the end of series 1 of Ashes to Ashes where he rescues a very young Alex Drake from the site of an explosion. The way he lovingly embraces her like a father would a daughter as he's carrying her out? Awwww.
G'kar starts out as quite the JerkassSmug Snake. The first indication that he's not quite so bad of a guy is when he sends out Narn ships to rescue an impulsive woman who'd blatantly disregarded his advice, and follows that up with a pretty profound philosophical moment.
His counterpart (one might say opposite number, at least until later in the series) from the Centauri Republic, Londo Mollari, has many such moments. They're what keep Londo a sympathetic Tragic Villain throughout the series.
Toyed with in the miniseries. Doctor Gaius Baltar is shown to be a selfish, arrogant coward. When the opportunity to flee Caprica, under nuclear attack by the Cylons, comes down to a lottery, the chance to switch his number for the one drawn — by tricking the elderly woman whose number it is — falls into his lap... he is interrupted by Helo recognizing him before we find out what he would have done, and nervously tells Helo that the old lady has the winning number. Helo gives his own seat to Baltar because he's a famous genius scientist.
D'Anna Biers/Cylon Number Three rarely gets these moments (unless you count being nice to Baltar), but pets a dog affectionately on New Caprica.
Becker: The titular grumpy character showed his softer side frequently.
Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction: One of the stories during the last season had the famous outlaw Jesse James and his brother Frank help out an old widow pay off her mortgage using money they stole from previous robberies (and they give her the helpful advice to ask for a receipt when the debt collector shows up the next morning) after she let them into her home and served them dinner during a cold, rainy night.
The Big Bang Theory: Howard often gets picked on by the other main characters, mainly because he's the only one without a doctorate. In one episode, however, when he tracked down the guy who hacked Sheldon's World of Warcraft account, Sheldon tells him "Ive never said these words before, but good job, Howard!".
Blackadder Goes Forth: Captain Edmund Blackadder spends the entire series mocking Captain Kevin Darling at every opportunity. The final episode sees Darling reassigned to the trenches so he can take part in the "Big Push" alongside Blackadder and his men. You'd expect Blackadder to take the chance to laugh at Darling's fate but instead Edmund treats him with relative kindness, uses his title instead of mockingly using his surname and goes along with the visibly terrified Darling's claim that he volunteered for the mission.
In the pilot, Nucky Thompson seems to be a classic money grubbing sleazebag politician who is taking advantage of prohibition for his own financial gain, yet his concern for abused immigrant Margaret Schroeder seems completely genuine.
And then there's Nelson Van Alden, the inhumanly humourless and puritanical prohibition agent who, after destroying Lucy's dreams and crushing her spirit without even trying, inadvertently stops her from an old-fashioned abortion with the surprise gift of a record player.
Das Boot: Duval recognizes Margot while checking a bus that's leaving La Rochelle to Vichy France, but lets her go with little Anna because her name is on the death list and he doesn't want her shot.
Though the trope of Badass Decay originally bore the name of Spike, the character, despite also being something of a Magnificent Bastard, in fact exhibited signs of this from the start. More to the point, he was portrayed as being genuinely in love with his partner Drusilla (feelings that it would be difficult to interpret as genuinely mutual), and able to feel hurt and betrayed. In the end a combination of the two even led him to upset the Big Bad's apocalyptic plans. In the same season he had been introduced, no less. Furthermore, in connection to this it was soon routinely suggested that he held some kind of (twisted) affection for the main character(s), and possibly even the world at large. Though many more events (and many, many, more tropes) would be applied to him over the course of the show, the seed of his Badass Decay was visible almost from day one.
One particularly notable moment is in "Lie To Me" when he has Buffy at his mercy and practically gift-wrapped for killing, but gives up the opportunity because she's holding a stake to Drusilla's heart. Mind you, this is him at his peak Card-Carrying Villain days, even before Angelus shows up to one-up him in the evil department.
The definite Pet the Dog moment came in "Intervention", when Spike, knowing full well that Dawn was the interdimensional key Glory was looking for, is captured by Glory and viciously tortured for the information and did not tell her. This was the turning point in his Badass Decay where even Buffy considered him a reliable ally.
And there was his earlier moment when he used his chip (which sends electrical shocks through his brain if he hurts or tries to hurt humans) to show Tara that she wasn't a demon. He had absolutely no gain in doing this, and it also caused considerable pain to himself. Who'd have thought a punch in the nose would be considered a Pet the Dog moment?
He somehow manages to have a simultaneous pet the dog moment and Character Check in season 6; he's discovered to be a local demon-egg smuggler under the moniker of "The Doctor". However, the reason he's doing so is heavily implied to be to get Buffy money to support herself, her home and her sister without having to work her crappy fast-food job.
There was also his honest platonic affection for and respect of Joyce, Buffy's mother, whom he got on rather well with after their first meeting (when she hit him with an axe and told him to get away from Buffy).
The best example of that affection is in "Lovers Walk" where Spike, drunk and upset because Dru left him, proceeds to kidnap and threaten his way through the entire population of Sunnydale, except Joyce. From Joyce, he wants hot chocolate with marshmallows and a friendly chat.
Or in "Forever", when he leaves flowers after Joyce's death, without a card so Buffy didn't know it was him. Prior to this Spike had been trying as hard as possible to get Buffy to like him, but this action proved that he genuinely liked Joyce.
He also had genuine platonic affection for Buffy's little sister Dawn, and held a Papa Bear protectiveness towards her. The first 3 episodes of season 6 prove this; Buffy was too dead to be impressed by him protecting her sister, and he had no idea there were plans to bring Buffy back to life, yet still he protected Dawn to the best of his ability. Moreover, he gives her an Affectionate Nickname and scolds her for running off from him like a doting big brother.
In season 5, he also helps Dawn gather ingredients for a resurrection spell for Joyce, but makes it very clear he doesn't want Buffy knowing he had a hand in it. When asked by Dawn why he's bothering, he admits he simply doesn't like seeing Summers women "take it so hard on the chin".
The Mayor's treatment of Faith is a definite Pet the Dog. He was still an evil monster, but he did genuinely seem to care about her and was a lot better support for her than the Scooby Gang was.
For that matter, one could consider him to be herMorality Pet, at least until she becomes good again.
Out of all the villains who could get this, the rapist misogynist who murdered Tara, Warren Meers, gets one in Season 8 by jumping in and saving Andrew from a bunch of demons (using a repulsor gauntlet shield). Yes, it's as awesome as it sounds (note: he's still evil though, in fact, it's Amy who starts to want to help, Warren just likes Andrew).
Dracula has genuine fondness for Xander and considers Xander to be one of his dearest friends, to the point that he is enraged on Xander's behalf after Renee's death and tears vampire chumps to pieces like wet paper.
In "Older and Far Away", Halfrek seemed to genuinely care about Dawn's problems and thought she was doing the right thing.
The General allowing Dawn to get medical treatment during the battle against the demons in the Sunnydale sinkhole.
Burn Notice: One episode features the team conning a soft-hearted gangster with a fondness for greyhound racing. One indicator that he's not quite the villain he thinks he is comes from his story about the biggest bet he ever lost: A dog that crashed and broke its leg before the race even started. His response was to buy the dog and turn it into a pet.
Charite: Doctor Behring, usually a haughty and ill-tempered guy, gifts nurse Ida with an anatomy book after he's noticed that she wants to further her medical knowledge. It's the start of his romance with her.
In the episode "Chuck vs. The Wookiee" of this comedic spy drama, Sara, a near-total cipher, is seen feeding a pet fish, a nice hint of humanity. Then she's attacked by a masked assailant. During the struggle, a gun and the goldfish fishbowl are knocked to the floor. The assailant seems to reach for the gun... and instead rescues the goldfish, making this an instance of two characters petting the same dog.
There have also been a few scenes which have shown that Casey hasn't repressed all his compassion, perhaps most notably when he offered to help Sarah's Lovable Rogue father get his sentence reduced.
Colony: Snyder shows more empathy and kindness than other CTA officials. He's permitted the LA Bloc citizens more privileges while Proxy and got Bowman a pass into the Santa Monica Bloc to find his son as a reward for his help. As a labor camp warden, he was far less harsh than the head guard, and even rescued Bram prior to the destruction of the entire place.. Though still brutal at times and a traitor to the human race, he's head and shoulders better than most of the collaborators we see.
Cracker: Subverted Trope in one episode where a serial killer reveals to Fitz that he was going to drown a litter of kittens but decided not to because 'they hadn't done him any harm'. Fitz points out that none of the killer's victims had done him any harm either and that rather than making him sympathetic, the villain was just showing a kind of 'sick sentimentality'.
When he's not strongarming people, James Wesley tends to be good at this when it comes to helping Wilson Fisk, such as bringing Vanessa over to ease Fisk's anguish after Madame Gao threatens him.
After wiping out a Kitchen Irish meeting, Frank Castle adapts one of the dogs they used in their dog fighting rings, and tries to keep it from harm. When the Irish catch up to him and torture him, he only gives up the money he stole from them when they threaten the dog, but even then has anticipated this, by planting a bomb in the briefcase containing the money.
After arranging for Dutton to be assassinated by Frank Castle in his cell, Wilson Fisk decides to spend the time Dutton has left near him in the hospital bed so he doesn't die alone. Of course, it's as much an opportunity to indulge in Evil Gloating as anything else.
In season 3, Fisk devotes a considerable amount of effort to reclaiming a painting that Vanessa was fond of that was taken from him when his assets were seized after his arrest. When the new owner refuses to sell the painting even for several times it's monetary value, Fisk decides to pay her a visit, with the implied intent of threatening or killing her. However, when he hears the reason she's so attached to it-she was a Holocaust survivor, and the painting had been in her family for years before it was taken from them by the Nazis-he decides to let her keep it. Unfortunately, Agent Poindexter later finds out about this and, in a desperate attempt to impress Fisk, kills the woman and steals the painting.
Stick displays some genuinely fatherly affection towards Elektra when she is a child. He is the only one among the Chaste to show her kindness, while everyone else fears and is repulsed by her due to Elektra being a Black Sky. After she kills one of the students in self-defense when he tries to kill her, the Chaste sentences her to death and Stick saves her by delivering her to a wealthy Greek couple to keep her safe.
Deadwood: Al Swearengen is the camp's kingpin, a brutal pimp, highwayman, and murderer. He starts the series by stepping on a woman's throat and plotting a child's murder, but Pets the Dog a number of times throughout the show's run to almost become a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Beneath his unrelentingly caustic demeanor, he has a soft-spot for fellow orphans, and employs a handicapped cleaning woman as a way of looking after her. At the end of the first season he treats the debilitated preacher with kindness, and ultimately mercy-kills him. He also risks life and limb a few times protecting camp folk from Big Bad George Hearst.
Lieut. LaGuerta is initially introduced as the Pointy-Haired Boss, who netted the position through a combo of politics and luck and has a severe hate-on for Deb and an...interest in Dexter. Then, in an episode halfway through the season, a young Cuban boy is found at the site of one of Dexter's latest victims, and LaGuerta goes all maternal, looking after the kid and thinking of adopting him if the boy's uncle isn't found. This has not stopped LaGuerta from being any more devious than before (in Season 2, she sabotages her replacement by pursuing a clandestine affair with her fiancé).
From the very first episode:
Dexter: But if I could have feelings at all, I'd have them for Deb.
Doc Martin: Martin writes a prescriptionnote vitamin pills to the town's ranger, a traumatised war veteran. Later, he does the samenote with breath mints for a teenage girl who is suffering largely from being a teenager.
Morgaine, the evil witch and the main villain in "Battlefield". Morgaine cures Elizabeth's blindness. Admittedly it was because Mordred had all but drunk the bar dry and she probably felt obligated to pay them somehow, but restoring someone's sight is a lot better than some of the ways you could repay them when you're an evil witch.
Anthony Ainley once said he would liked to have done a scene showing the Master feeding some birds just to show that the character wasn't wholly Chaotic Evil.
The spin-off novel Harvest of Time included a scene where the Master helped the Doctor save a woman from undergoing a total collapse of her entire genetic structure, but while Jo speculates that this was because the Master isn't that bad, the Master states that he only did it so that his later evil actions will be even worse by comparison.
"Boom Town": Blon Slitheen has a nice chat with a young woman about family instead of eating her. It is subverted however, when the Doctor doesn't fall for it.
Blon: I could have killed but I didn't. I spared her life. The Doctor: I believe you. Blon: Then you know I can change! That I am changing! The Doctor: You let one of them go, but that's nothing new. Every now and then, a little victim's spared... because she smiled, cos he's got freckles, cos they begged. And that's how you live with yourself, that's how you slaughter millions, because once in a while, on a whim, if the wind's in the right direction, you happen to be kind.
Though as Blon immediately fires back, "Only a killer would know that." The Doctor doesn't deny it, and a lot of his actions can be interpreted in that light.
It's also worth mentioning that said villain's scheme would have ended up destroying the world, making her arguments even more hollow.
"Planet of the Ood": Despite his general jerkassery and attitude towards the Ood, which he sells as slaves, Mr. Halpen genuinely cares about his personal servant, Ood Sigma, and tells him to "join [his] people" while he still can.
"Spyfall"ambiguouslyzig-zags it. At the end, the Doctor receives a message from the Master in which he explains why he destroyed Gallifrey, making it clear that whatever he learned about the Timeless Child was more than enough justification for razing the planet, as they'd been lied to by their own people. He then pointedly does not tell her what that is, since that would be making it easy for her. "It wasn't for me."
Similarly, O'Brien is often so vile and petty she seems to be good for nothing except as someone to spread stress and misery among the cast, and then something like her devotion and care for Lady Cora will pop up and crap, there goes that budding love-to-hate villain.
Frank the Receptionist, who was generally a cynical, overweight, often prejudiced jerk but once had a heart attack; at the end of the episode, we discovered that he had a handicapped daughter who loved him very much.
Even further, it was revealed that Frank, usually so abrasive to everyone he works with, can't stop talking about how great they are and how much he admires them when he's at home, thus retconning in that he'd been petting the dog to some extent all along.
Dr. Romano was a real jerk in his first seasons, and kept many of those qualities throughout his stay on the show. However he had a number of Pet the Dog moments, such as when he told Benton's son Reese "look after your daddy" in sign language, or when he refused to give up on Lucy after she was stabbed. His love for Corday also provided him with several such moments. The most literal "pet the dog" moment however came when he called Corday into surgery and she was shocked to see who their patient was...
Corday: Robert, this is a dog. Romano: Correction Lizzie. This is my dog.
Everwood: Does it during the first episodes: Dr Abbott begins as an obnoxious almost misanthropic doctor, but then is revealed to be a very devoted father and husband; Bright starts off as a bully, but then he's shown to be a very sensitive person grieving over his friend's accident.
Petted the dog with an episode named "Pet the Bunny". Ray, when writing a premature eulogy for his father, recalled how he saw his moment of vulnerability... petting a bunny.
That wasn't the only time Frank petted the dog. When he found out his misogynistic buddies at the Elks Lodge were talking about Debra, he told them all off, albeit reluctantly.
In one episode, Frank actually holds Marie in bed to comfort her after a particularly abrasive conflict.
There was also a moment where he showed he really did care about Debra by taking the fall for her when Debra screwed up a Thanksgiving dinner, sparing Debra from yet another lecture by Marie. Right after that, Marie yells at Frankfor something hediddo.
Ezel: In a rare moment of complete selflessness, Kenan decides to leave his daughter Damla in peace after meeting her for the first time. Seeing that she is happy, successful, and loved, he ultimately chooses not to reveal his identity, which would doubtlessly bring her grief.
Inverted Trope. Aeryn's mother's first appearance turned out to be, in light of her later actions, a pet the dog moment, which she very sorely needed.
Scorpius had a particularly interesting pet the dog moment in his third episode, when he takes in an orphaned girl: he embraces her, gives her a room aboard his command carrier, and states to his officers "we must know when to be strong and when to show compassion." However, it's subverted in that the "orphan" is a hungry carnivore in disguise, and it's implied that Scorpius has taken her in for no other reason than to use her as a minion.
More moments courtesy of Scorpius: when Sikozu was facing an execution, he helpfully supplied her with a password that allowed her to bluff her way out. Particularly interesting, considering that the two of them had never met before- and that he'd been "executed" less than a minute ago.
Commending Braca for obeying orders and taking part in mission that would have killed Scorpius had it failed.
During the two-part episode "Self-Inflicted Wounds", Pathfinder Neeyala has two Pet the Dog moments: firstly, she briefly comforts one of her crew-members before sending her on a suicide mission; the second is revealed to have spanned both episodes, in that her plan to sabotage Moya was intended to force Crichton and the others to escape aboard her own vessel and avoid death by wormhole when the Pathfinder ship left Moya. Ironically, this leads to her downfall when Moya's crew decide not to give up so easily.
Rygel gets a couple of Pet the Dog moments as well, namely in the season 2 finale when Aeryn dies he gives her his medallion, saying she is far more deserving of it, or after Zhaan dies, and he goes to steal her stuff, then admits he doesn't want it.
Throughout "Serenity", Mal is constantly and repeatedly shown to be a mean, cranky, selfish bastard.... until his touching scene in the infirmary with Kaylee that shows that he's not the "mean old man" he tries to be. By the end of the pilot, in spite of all the trouble it may cause him, he chooses to shelter Simon and River. As the series progresses, it becomes more and more apparent that Mal's JerkAss-ness is just a cover.
Jayne also gets his own Pet the Dog moments, such as when he watches Kaylee's operation in the pilot like a big, nervous Mama Bear, or when he is quite visibly shaken at the death of the mudder who gave his life to protect him in "Jaynestown", or when he frees River and Simon in the hospital in "Ariel" after escaping himself (although this one is slightly questionable, considering that Jayne's the reason Simon and River were in prison in the first place).
The Operative, of all people, gets a Pet the Dog instance, while he is killing a man. As the man is dying, the Operative comforts him with the knowledge that he did fine works, and made the world a better place, and is quite visibly affected as he watches the man die. When the Operative opts to let the heroes leave scot-free after finding out about Miranda.
Badger gets a kind of mild one in "Shindig". He pleasantly forces the crew of Serenity to stay on the ship while they know that Mal is probably going to be killed in a duel over Inara's honor. River comes wandering out to the cargo hold and Badger, who was completely unaware of her presence until then, demands to know who she is and why she's on board. After she fakes a Cockney accent and deciphers a number of facts about him (based on his appearance and demeanor), he lets her leave while declaring "I like her!"
In The Flash (2014), the season 2 pilot has Harrison Wells/Eobard Thawne leave a video-will for Barry, in which he confesses to Nora Allen's murder, allowing Barry's father to be a free man once again.
A French Village: Jean largely helps the Vichy French and Germans in rounding up Jews or resistance fighters. Once, however, after he falls in love himself with a Jewish woman, he helps two Jews to escape.
In the last episode of Season 1, The Hound, portrayed up to this point as a Would Hurt a ChildJerkass bordering on irredeemable, stops Sansa Stark from suicidal impulsiveness after her father dies, and gives her some brief advice and comfort.
In the second season the Hound is the only one to come back for Sansa Stark during the riot, saving her from being raped and in addition at the end of the episode "Blackwater" after he resigns form the White Cloaks, the Hound offers her the chance to escape with him. Everything taken into consideration, Sansa Stark is the Hound's Morality Pet and he cares a lot about her, despite being gruff to her.
He offers to take Arya to the Freys to meet up with her mother and brother despite the fact that he knows Arya would rather kill him. Then he saves her at the Red Wedding, despite having no reason to do so.
Despite incessantly snarking at Beric and Thoros over the course of his association with the Brotherhood, Sandor does his best to comfort Beric when Thoros succumbs to hypothermia during the wight-hunting expedition.
When he meets Brienne of Tarth again at the Dragon Pit for the first time in years he, almost congratulatory, tells her she'd come the closest anyone's ever come to actually killing him. And when Brienne tells him that Arya is alive, back home at Winterfell, and a more deadly fighter than either of them put together, he positively beams with pride.
She is ruthless and constantly scheming, but she loves her children more than anything, yes, even that child. In fact, it is because of this love a series of events was set into motion that started with Jon Arryn's death, and has continued to the execution of Ned Stark.
She comforts Catelyn after Bran "falls" from the window. Despite the incident happening because of her (though she wasn't the perpetrator) Cersei's sympathy for Catelyn as a fellow mother who had her child hurt seems actually honest.
She convinces Joffrey to do something nice for Sansa during "Lord Snow", referencing her own unhappy arranged marriage.
On the event of Sansa's first menses, she counsels her on how best to survive a marriage to Joffrey.
During Tyrion's wedding, she tries to divert a lecherous Joffrey away from Sansa. A somewhat weak and quickly abandoned effort but well-intentioned nevertheless.
She briefly comforts a nervous Melara during the flashback of her as a teenager.
Tywin Lannister does this to those who show some modicum of competence in the sea of idiots he regularly deals with:
While portrayed as a monster in the books, he has a few pet the dog moments during the Harrenhal arc when he unknowingly takes Arya Stark as his cupbearer, complimenting and sharing a few paternal moments and anecdotes with her that he would likely never share with anyone else, and she even manages to get a genuine laugh out of him with a joke she makes. He also reveals that he knows she is hiding something, but chooses not to do anything about it. He later tells her directly that he's taken a liking to her, though when she oversteps her bounds as his servant he sternly rebukes her. This is pretty thoroughly undone when he reveals that when he leaves he plans to leave her in the personal service of Gregor Clegane, his Ax-CrazyBrute, a notorious rapist with zero qualms against killing children.
Tywin's speech revealing why he never killed Tyrion as a child also humanizes him.
While he may treat Tyrion with contempt most of the time, he does occasionally acknowledge him, such as appointing him as the (acting) Hand of the King. Granted, it was for pragmatic reasons, but it was still a big sign of respect and trust, especially when there were other male Lannisters about... too bad that Tywin seemed to feel that he had to dial up the insulting afterward as if to balance that out.
He also mentions that when Jaime was young, he couldn't read because of being dyslexic, so he sat down with his son for four hours every night and struggled through the arduous process of teaching his son how to read:
Tywin: I taught my son Jaime to read. The Maester came to me one day, told me he wasn't learning. He couldn't make sense of the letters. He reversed them in his head. The Maester said that he had heard of this affliction, and said that we must just accept it. HA! After that I sat Jaime down for four hours every day until he learned. He hated me for it. For a time. For a long time. But he learned.
In "The Lion and the Rose", Tywin immediately rushes to shield Tommen from having to watch Joffrey's nightmarish death. In the next episode, he lectures Tommen on what it means to be a good king, gently coaxing him to tell Tywin what he thinks that means and Tywin carefully explaining why his suggestions are incorrect. He assures Tommen "I'm not trying to trick you", he wants to be sure Tommen understands what he's getting into so that he doesn't end up like his brother. Outside of his moments with Arya, it's about the only time we've seen Tywin actually act in a paternal manner.
Varys stops scheming for a moment to give Tyrion the only credit he'll receive for defending King's Landing from Stannis's invasion. He's also one of the few people to show respect to Sansa at her wedding, giving her his signature bow as she's walking down the aisle.
After four seasons of being a total asshole, Ser Alliser Thorne has a brief heart-to-heart with Jon Snow in which he admits a mistake and explains that he's an asshole due to the necessities of wielding authority.
Roose is actually quite nice to Walda, considering the way Ramsay was conceived and the fact that instead Walda seems rather pleased of their marriage. It's also clear that he's not letting Ramsay hurt her. How much this is due to the fact that Walda will give him a heir, however, will remain unknown.
Roose raises his bastard son, Ramsay, entrusts him with command, eventually legitimizes him (Ramsay becomes his heir after Ramsay murders him and his baby brother, just to make sure he'll be the next Lord Bolton) and tells Ramsay he will always be his "firstborn" after the birth of a trueborn son by Walda Frey. However, this is subverted in that Roose treated Ramsay very poorly, did not include him in castle life while he was growing up, and only legitimized Ramsay once his trueborn son was gone, realizing Ramsay was all he had left. In HBO's featurette 'Bastards of Westeros,' GRRM states, "Ramsay gets nothing from Roose," and contrasts Roose as a 'dark counterpoint' with Ned, who loved and raised his bastard child, Jon, as one of his sons alongside his trueborn children at Winterfell.
As a reward for his "loyalty," Ramsay finally allows Reek a bath. Almost immediately subverted when Ramsay takes this opportunity to add as many disturbing overtones to this favour as possible, eyeing Reek up as if he wants to violate him in other ways. Subverted as it quickly becomes clear that it's just to manipulate Reek into helping Ramsay take Moat Cailin by 'pretending' to be Theon Greyjoy.
Subverted again with Ramsay with the death of Myranda. He seems to almost be genuinely sad for her death... but then he says it's good meat and that she should be fed to the dogs.
Locke paid and released the traveler who told him where to find Jaime and Brienne, rather than killing him and dumping him in the river, which he easily could have done.
Despite the clear animosity between them, he tells Ned that his father and brother were very brave and genuinely means it.
Jaime: He was very brave, your brother. And your father too. They didn't deserve to die like that.
Even though he was quite happy to mock Renly's sexual orientation just to get a rise out of Brienne, he shortly afterward expresses some very genuine empathy for them, with a subtle implication that he had his own relationship with Cersei in mind.
Jaime: I don't blame him. And I don't blame you. We don't get to choose who we love.
After he and Brienne are captured by Locke, he warns her that they most likely intend to rape her and then attempts to persuade her not to fight back so she doesn't get herself killed as well. When that fails, he ends up saving her himself by persuading Locke that she'd be much more valuable to him if she's alive and un-raped. Later, he jumps into a freaking bear pit, unarmed, to try and save her.
In "The Lion and the Rose", he gets an odd one in the sense that the dog is an utter asshole. When Joffrey is poisoned and dying, Jaime shoves several people out of the way and runs right to his side in order to try and save him. Somewhat tragically, it's no use. Granted, he's a member of the Kingsguard, so it could just as easily have been a matter of duty, but the fact that he calls him Joffrey and not "your grace" or "my King" seems to imply otherwise.
In Season 5, he sticks his neck out to prevent Bronn from being executed for striking Prince Trystane while they were trying to secretly rescue Myrcella, insisting that he, being Bronn's superior, was at fault and should be the one punished.
In Season 6, his first action upon arriving at the Riverlands (after taking Black Walder down a peg) is to order Edmure Tully bathed and fed. In the next episode, when Brienne offers him back the sword that he gave her, Oathkeeper; he gently declines, affirming that it's hers and always will be.
In season 7, he has the decency to give Olenna Tyrell a vial of poison to kill herself instead of bringing her to Cersei to suffer a Fate Worse than Death. Desconstructed when she reveals with her last words she was the one who killed his son and not Tyrion, making Jaime regret giving her a merciful death to begin with.
To Sansa, at her wedding. He's one of the only people present to visibly show her respect (he gives a little bow) as she makes her way through the wedding party.
He takes the time to comfort Tyrion even putting a hand on his shoulder regarding Shae's departure from King's Landing.
He's kind to his fiancee Lollys Stokeworth, albeit not particularly interested in her. He even comforts her when she complains about her sister's bullying. When he coyly implies he might kill her sister, it comes across as much as wanting to put an end to her tormenting of Lollys as it does trying to murder his way into inheriting the Stokeworth fortune.
He is delighted to see Podrick again in the Riverlands, and even goes so far as to give him some advice on the art of Combat Pragmatism. At one point when a conversation starts getting tense, Bronn gets Pod out of the room under the pretense of taking him to a tavern.
For all his sadism, Joffrey seems to have some genuine love for Robert Baratheon, going as far as praising him over Tywin for winning the war against the Targaryens... even if said love for his supposed father is what may have fueled his penchant for wanton cruelty. He is still a Jerkass towards his grandfather when he is saying that, but Robert's memory seems to be one of the few things he is willing to treat respectfully.
Myrcella Baratheon proves that the Lannister family evil isn't genetic by asking about Bran's condition and being genuinely happy to hear that he will live.
Tommen doesn't enjoy the notion of Robb being killed by his brother at all, saying as much in front of his mother and more importantly Sansa.
Tyrion occasionally has moments of these. He designs an adaptive saddle for the crippled Bran to allow him to ride a horse, gives friendly advice to Jon Snow, protects Sansa from Joffrey and condemns the massacre of Robert's bastards. In "The Lion and the Rose", he is the only person trying to cheer up Jaime (by spilling wine on purpose, to show that it does not matter, and then by finding him a trusty swordsman to train with), instead of kicking him while he's down.
He insists on seeing his daughter Shireen and spending time with her when he can, showing more care than his wife. In "The Lion And The Rose", he calmly, but instantly shoots down any notion of his wife's desire to physically "discipline" her for allegedly being unruly and ungodly. The look he gives after saying this has her immediately drop the subject.
Stannis: She is my daughter. You will not strike her.
He's one of the few people who recognize Jon Snow's qualities. In an effort to rally the North to his cause with a son of Ned Stark at his side, he gives the boy the chance of becoming Jon Stark so that Jon can reclaim his home, Winterfell, but Jon turns his offer down out of a sense of duty.
He always places more respect on Davos than Davos seems to do to himself, wanting him to realize just how good a person he is despite his past crimes and wanting him to know that his opinion is valuable.
At the last moment, Selyse completely breaks down and tries to save Shireen from being burned alive. However, in the end its too little too late, and she is only able to watch as it happens.
Salladhor Saan is likable but obviously not a good guy; though he does have softer moments, particularly with Davos who he considers a true friend.
Salladhor Saan: I am so sorry, my friend. I too have lost a son. There is nothing worse in this world. But, Davos, you were a good father. Davos: If I were a good father, he'd still be here.
Subverted with Balon Greyjoy. At the start, Balon almost seems to have a measure of legitimate affection for Yara, considering her his rightful heir and treating her with relative respect. As the series goes on, however, he makes it clear that she's just as expendable to him as Theon was.
Yara when she tries to pursuade Theon to come with her instead of foolishly staying in Winterfell.
Yara: Little brother, don't die so far from the sea.
Sue Sylvester is a complete and total Jerkass with few redeeming qualities if any, so when in one episode she lets a mentally challenged girl onto her prized cheerleading squad the "Cheerios" the viewers along with everyone in the show conclude she's about to do something despicable that goes far beyond the Moral Event Horizon, reinforced by the fact she's pushing the girl just as harsh as she treats her other cheerleaders. At the end of the episode Sue ends up paying out of her own pockets for the School's handicap ramps, which baffles Will and the Principal as they try and figure out her motive. It's revealed she has a sister with Down's Syndrome living in a home, who Sue visits and reads to regularly. She gave the girl a spot on the cheerleading squad because she knows she just wants to be treated like everyone else.
Her harsh treatment of Becky (i.e. the exact treatment all her other cheerleaders get) can also be seen as this, especially as Sue very rightly points out to Will that all Becky's ever wanted is to be treated like everyone else. By yelling at Becky the same way she would any of her other cheerleaders, Sue is doing exactly that - which Becky understands and is happy about.
Sue and Becky's mentor-student relationship is one of the strongest in the series. By the end of the show, Sue promotes Becky to Captain of the squad (which Becky well deserves), and Becky accompanies Sue in virtually all of her schemes and ideas. And again, Sue does it all while speaking to the teenager just as she does to anyone else.
Puck started out as a Jerkass, before Character Development made him out to be more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. So his strong desire to be there for Quinn and help raise her baby when he finds out she's pregnant by him initially comes off as an example of this trope.
Gokusen: In one episode of the live-action version, Uchiyama, a member of the dreaded class 3-D and juvenile delinquent, is seen taking care of a small puppy. Later, he almost gets expelled for beating the daylights out of another student from a more prestigious school. It would later turn out that Uchiyama attacked the seemingly straight-laced student when he caught him tossing stones at the puppy.
Deconstructed. Whenever the Wives are showing bits of kindness to their Handmaids, such as Serena Joy handing Offred a cookie, it's clearly just to stoke their own egos. Also, Serena's excessive kindness to Offred later is due to the fact that Offred might be pregnant with a child she could claim as hers and it's implied she took Offred out to parade her supposedly pregnant Handmaid around.
The deconstruction of momentary kindness can also be found in the domineering, shock-prod-wielding Aunts. The Aunts sincerely congratulate and comfort Janine during the communal ritual of Birth Day. Later on, Aunt Lydia becomes genuinely dismayed after the disfigured Handmaids are barred from the fancy dinner with the Mexican delegation. Lydia protests that the disfigured handmaidens (mutilated under her own command) had earned recognition and rewards after all the pain they went through. Aunt Lydia is also genuinely horrified at Janine's suicide attempt, gets June to help talk her down, and is distraught at Janine's bedside later on.
The Wife of Emily's new Commander does seem to be genuinely nice — she offers to fake being sick, so that Emily doesn't have to be put through the Ceremony this month. However, as Emily points out, "You can't be sick every month."
Despite backing an ideology that is patriarchal in the extreme, Fred tries to let Serena speak before the council planning the coup. They unsurprisingly refuse.
Serena gives Offred a wind up ballerina from her childhood as a gift, which is a bit touching. However Offred notes it's oddly appropriate, as she's a girl in a box herself, wound up for other people.
This show is built upon the title character being one of the prime examples of a Jerkass, but a given rule for any protagonist Dr. Jerk characters is that they will be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. House may be mean, cruel and sometimes outright immoral, but he is still a doctor and his job is to save people's lives. One episode in particular had him treating a patient whose heart gave out and she needed an emergency transplant. House had deduced privately that she was bulimic, and had been using ipicac, a drug that caused heart damage. Both of these criteria would certainly void her chances of receiving a heart. House risked his medical license by lying to the transplant board that she had no psychological problems. Afterwards, she asked him why he risked so much for her. He replied, "You're my patient. Don't screw it up."
House also found a sick rat in "Hunting", treated it, named it Steve McQueen and kept it as his pet. In a later episode he asks his team to bring him a rat. Cameron replies that he already has one, and he indignantly informs her that [he is] "not gonna kill Steve!" Later on however, in "Euphoria", in a rather odd Pet the Dog moment, he subjects Steve to a poisonous environment in order to find out what disease is killing Foreman. (Both Steve and Foreman survive).
In season 5's "Simple Explanation" (and presumably in following episodes) House is genuinely grieved by Kutner's suicide.
"Merry Christmas, Cuddy."
In Wilson's Heart, there was one massive moment that silenced anyone who thought he didn't deserve Wilson's friendship: he agrees to try a procedure that could permanently damage his brain (the only thing that he thinks makes him worthwhile, remember?) so that he can try to save Amber. In a later scene, he puts Wilson hating him in the same category as his severe chronic pain, as a reason he doesn't want to go on living — we know he's been living with the pain for years, so this suggests that Wilson's friendship is essentially what's kept him going.
Three Words, One Episode: "The Socratic Method". In fact, he petted the dog so much in this one that Hugh Laurie was worried that they were making House too nice.
House isn't exactly the biggest fan of human contact, so it's kind of a big deal to see him hug someone (in "Sports Medicine", "Honeymoon", and a couple times during the Stacy arc of season 2). It's interesting that House has actually beenhugged about twice as many times, (such as by Chase in "Half-Wit", Cameron in "Words and Deeds" and the little girl dying of cancer, Andie, in "Autopsy").
In "Words and Deeds", he apologizes to Wilson for the whole Tritter fiasco. He may not care about what he did to Tritter for its own sake, but he is genuinely sorry that Wilson got caught up in the backlash.
In the season 3 episode "One Day, One Room" he takes a rape victim's case because she wanted to talk to him, despite the case being 'boring' as there was no mystery/puzzle involved.
In "Here Kitty", when Debbie jumps onto his laptop, presumably screwing up whatever he'd been working on, he pets her instead of the more expected action of shoving her away. On the other hand, he also carried her around in a bag for most of the episode...
There was also the moment in "Fetal Position" when he realised the baby was more than just a fetus when the baby reached out of the womb and grabbed his finger.
A literal realization of the trope was in episodes at the end of Season 3 with Wilson's dog, Hector.
Then in 'Wilson,' Wilson says he's going to have surgery to donate an organ to one of his patients against House's wishes. House tells him that he's not going to come because "If you die,...I'm alone." Once Wilson is in the surgery room and about to go under, he sees House watching him from above. House the last one he sees when he blacks out and the first person he sees by his side when he wakes up.
"Help Me" is pretty much an episode-long Pet the Dog moment for House.
The way he reacts to Wilson's cancer. In "The C Word", he takes care of Wilson during the chemotherapy, going without his pain medication to make sure Wilson has enough, and not even reacting when Wilson starts lashing out at him in his pain and frustration. In "Moving On", he spends most of the episode all but begging Wilson to do the chemo so he doesn't lose him, and then finally accepts Wilson's decision and plans the trip of a lifetime to make the most of Wilson's remaining time. And in "Everybody Dies", he fakes his own death, giving up his life as he knows it pretty much for good, so he can spend Wilson's last months with him.
Even before Wilson's cancer, Season 8 definitely gave him more of these after fans and creators felt that crashing his car into Cuddy's house took his less-likeable qualities to the extreme. After he gets out of prison, he's again shown bonding with abuse victims, intentionally being an ass in Park's disciplinary hearing so that the board would sympathize with her and go easy on her, firing Thirteen to encourage her to live what life she has left to the fullest, and letting Adams go on a smashing spree when her divorce is finalized.
In House of Anubis, Victor tends to get these when the students are in life-or-death situations. While he is capable of being mean and apathetic at times, he also does care for their well-being deep down. His best moment is probably giving up his last tear of gold, that he had been after all season, to save a dying Joy.
Subverted Trope by Barney. Barney, who normally plays the role of the petty, womanizing, suit-clad jerk, was revealed to have formerly been a meek, loving hippie-type in an embarrassing old video. When asked to explain by his friends, he demanded that each of them tell an embarrassing story about themselves in return. After they did, he revealed that he had once deeply loved a hippie girl named Shannon. She eventually left him for a suit-wearing womanizer, prompting his stark personality change. Barney also told of how he recently visited Shannon, finding out that she was single again, with a job as a teacher and a beautiful kid. He mused on how that could have been his life in apparent sadness, while his friends comforted him. However, he then revealed that he greatly preferred his current life, and that in addition to tricking everyone else into telling embarrassing stories about himself, he had had sex with Shannon upon their reunion (even producing a cell phone recording of the incident when his friends didn't believe him).
Barney does not always subvert this trope — his willingness to travel to San Francisco to persuade Lily to come back to Marshall is a clear Pet the Dog moment.
As is the way he cheers up Robin in the third season episode when her old boyfriend comes to town and manages to destroy her self-esteem, despite her being much more successful than him. Sure, he got laid in the end, but just this once it didn't seem intentional.
In the episode "Single Stamina", after stubbornly refusing to support his brother's upcoming gay marriage (because he opposes all marriage in general), Barney suddenly softens and has a change of heart at the news that the couple's going to adopt a baby boy. Later, alone at the reception, he talks to his new infant nephew saying how he'll be there for him.
On It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, each member of the Gang is normally a completely amoral Jerkass who waltzes over the Moral Event Horizon line like it doesn't exist (see: getting a priest rehooked on crack after destroying his life once before). But each of them has at least one moment of kindness throughout the series:
Dennis will very, very, very rarely treat Dee with kindness, or team up with her to accomplish some scheme. He's also revealed to be fiercely loyal to Mac and Charlie. At the end of Season Twelve, he gets the biggest Pet the Dog moment of all when he meets his infant son and decides to move to North Dakota to raise him, rather than leave the child abandoned like he was as a baby.
Dee once agreed to be the surrogate for Carmen, a transgender woman, and her husband. While she did plan to write the kid off as a tax break, it's still remarkably charitable of her. Dee is also the only member of the group who will treat Charlie nicely; in "The Gang Breaks Up", she and Charlie spend time together, and she helps him fight his neuroses and perform beat poetry.
Mac, despite often teasing Charlie, is probably his closest friend in the group. In one episode, he encourages Dennis and Dee to give him a proper birthday party when the siblings want to give up. In another episode, he's willing to call them out for their exploiting the welfare system when they don't need it.
Charlie is probably the nicest member of the group in general (although that's not exactly saying much). He genuinely enjoys spending time with kids and wants to mentor them. As mentioned above, he has a unique relationship with Dee—he does like her deep down and only joins in Mac and Dennis's teasing out of peer pressure. Notably, he's the only person who can give her constructive criticism without coming across as completely rude.
Frank probably gets the most of these throughout the series, which is odd, considering that he's done some horrible things in the past. Over the course of several episodes, he mentors Dee in boxing (and even tries to get her out of a dangerous fight to protect her), encourages Charlie's music ambitions, and demonstrates the strongest moral code of the Gang—there are some lines, like "diddling" kids or dealing drugs, that he absolutely refuses to cross.
''JAG: In "Shadow", When Grover first notices Meg suffering a claustrophobia attack, his first reaction is to try and comfort her, before he goes back to taunting her. Meg is able to exploit this by convincing him to let her play games on his computer, giving her a chance to take it away from him.
Jessica Jones (2015): Cruelly subverted by Kilgrave. After getting injured in a bus accident, he steals an ambulance driver's kidneys. He does make sure the poor ambulance driver gets a machine to keep him alive and money to keep him comfortable... after he's suffered a massive stroke that will forever leave him near-paralyzed and eternally under the thumb of his creepy, domineering mother. When Jessica meets the driver, he writes a note begging her to kill him.
To be slightly fair, he may have intended this as a genuine attempt to mitigate his actions, but he's so lacking in empathy that he completely failed to recognize what he was actually doing to him.
Shuuichi Kitaoka aka Kamen Rider Zolda normally is a self centered and arrogant lawyer. But on one occasion, he secretly pays for the surgery fee for the mother of a little girl. Despite the fact said girl ruined his sneaky plan kill The Hero.
Zig-Zagged with Blood Knight Takeshi Asakura. During one episode, he saves a girl from being eaten by Mirror Monsters. It later turns out he was using her as bait so he could kill said monsters for their energy. But the episode ends with him still watching outside the hospital to see if the girl is all right.
Souji Tendou, the title character in Kamen Rider Kabuto is a bit of a jerkass, who does not waste any second in showing his huge god complex to other characters. But he does show his softer side from time to time. Mostly when he is around his sisters Jyuka and Hyori. He also has a soft spot for Arata Kagami, whom he sometimes secretly helps.
Kaito Daiki, Kamen Rider Diend from Kamen Rider Decade is an egotistical thief, but does take on a big brother role to the young Asumu when Asumu's mentor Hibiki rejects him.
Leave It to Beaver: Beaver has accidentally ruined Wally's new suit and is so afraid of the consequences, he's crying. Eddie Haskell sees him... and decides to convince Wally to wear casual clothes at the party, all so Wally won't be mad at Beaver.
Life with Derek: Every episode is set up so the title character can do this at the end.
Even though they were the de-facto villains, both Harriet and (prior to 1980) Nellie Olesen got their episodes where their more admirable, softer sides got their time in the limelight:
For Harriet, the audience got to sympathize with her when a quack doctor sells her a magic powder to help cure her appendicitis (it doesn't, and she must rely on Doc Baker to save her life). All the times Nels and Harriet fought and Nels did the right thing and left her, Harriet's emotions showed and that, even though she henpecked her husband, she really did rely on him for emotional support (and grudgingly, so did he). In one instance where Nels left her and (unknown to her) nearly had an affair, Harriet began getting lonely. In 1981, Harriet rallied the women of Walnut Grove to demand the same rights to own property as men.
Nellie's soft side came front and center in 1977's "Here Comes the Brides," when this time, she — not Laura — got to court the cute new guy at school. It turned out this "change of pace" episode did more than teach Laura "you can't win 'em all," but showed that even the Alpha Bitch Nellie had her redeeming values.
Sawyer has had several Pet the Dog moments, including some literal dog-petting when Vincent was the only one who'd have anything to do with him after his con involving the guns. Other moments include offering to babysit/read to Aaron for Claire and offering his fish biscuits to Kate when they were imprisoned by The Others.
Also, Ben Linus is genuinely fond of his adoptive daughter Alex.
Shades genuinely expresses his condolences to Cottonmouth after Pop is killed in the crossfire of a botched hit on Chico.
When Mariah is arrested and orders the mass murder of all her henchmen who might testify against her. However, she explicitly spares Sugar, whose wife once loaned her clothes after she survived Bushmaster's attempt to kill her by burning her home down.
Played for Laughs when Lois thinks she's just a monster and then does something responsible.
Even Ida gets one. Ida's probably the closest you can get to monster in the series, abusing her children, trying to sue Lois, manipulating a man to marry her with mood elevators, doing all sorts of psychologically abusive things to her grandchildren. Her Pet the Dog moment comes from when all of a sudden, Ida looks out the house, notices a car heading in Dewey's direction, then dives in the way and loses her leg to save him.
The Mandalorian: In The Stinger for season two, Bobba Fett and Fennec Shand attack Bib Fortuna's palace and kill his Mooks. There's a terrified Twi'lek slave girl chained to his throne, but Fennec merely shoots her chain, freeing her, and then motions for her to run away.
Major Winchester gets one when he tries to give a group of Korean orphans a bunch of candy for Christmas in "Death Takes a Holiday". He deliberately works to ensure no one knows about it.
Unlike Major Burns, Major Winchester was envisioned as a Worthy Opponent from the start, so he has his share of Pet The Dog moments:
In one episode, he learns that a patient whose fingers were damaged is a concert pianist, and helps him to see that despite his impairment, he's still a musician because it's not about the hands but rather about the mind.
In another, he stands up for a soldier who is picked on for stuttering, and later gives him a copy of Moby Dick as a push back against the patient's notion that his stutter makes him unintelligent. It's later revealed that this one is personal for Winchester because his beloved sister also stutters.
Of course, Burns had his moments, too. In one episode, he continuously teased Hawkeye over a patient that was not recovering. However, after they found the cause, a tiny wound Hawkeye hadn't seen during the first surgery, Frank responded with a very sincere "anyone could have missed that." The way Frank responded to Margaret's marriage probably counts, too. (Well, at least in the immediate aftermath...)
A very literal example: In another episode, Major Houlihan is secretly feeding a dog that is hanging around the camp. When she overhears some nurses saying that it was killed, she is visibly upset. After Hawkeye notices it, and tries to console her (he had seen her sneaking food to it) she tries hard to deny that she cares, playing up her hardened military image and saying that in a place where people die every day such things don't matter... Only to fall into his arms, sobbing.
Margaret gets several of these, especially in the middle of the series as the writers began to soften her into a more sympathetic character. The first is probably in "Mad Dogs and Servicemen", when she takes care of Radar (who she doesn't usually get along with at this point) when he has to have preventative treatment for rabies.
Masters of Horror: In the episode "The Screwfly Solution", a literal one is given to the Energy Being aliens who engineered the genocide of the human race. After the aliens at the end extract brain matter from several of the men, they are shown playing fetch with the group's dogs.
Merlin: Morgana is shown to genuinely care for Aithusa, the young dragon who saves her life and subsequently becomes loyal to her
She also has a few with Mordred in series 5:
In the first episode she reacts quite emotionally when she is reunited with him.
Later, despite the fact that he literally stabbed her in the back, she seems not to really want to kill him at the Cauldron of Arianrhod and genuinely seems hesitant when he gives his "Such hatred as yours will never triumph" quote.
In the finale she is shown grieving at Mordred's grave after his death.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Dr. Forrester invents Nummymuffin Cocobutter, the most sickeningly cute pet imaginable which he will use to distract the rest of the world and take it over. He eventually gets sucked into his own evil plan and ends up just fussing over Nummymuffin along with Frank.
Pearl had some of these as well; one of the most famous was her neighborly chat with Mike at the beginning of Time Chasers.
The New Statesman: Alan B'Stard, Conservative MP and all-round asshole is willing to do anything, and we do mean anything, to further his own ambitions. As an example, B'Stard orchestrated The Falklands War to drive up the price of corned beef. He is, however, genuinely complimentary and supportive of his transgender accountant Norma, and gives her the self-confidence she needs to transition.
The second season of the American version gave regional manager Michael Scott, initially modeled after his English counterpart as an unsympathetic egomaniac, a few very poignant Pet the Dog moments early in its run, when the character tears up at "Office Olympics" day, and is shown to genuinely care for children in the Halloween episode. Later seasons write Carell's character to be much more likable.
A notable moment when Pam is showing her paintings at a local art show. Everyone trashes her work as mundane and unexceptional, but when Michael sees it he offers actual sincere praise for it.
Dwight Schrute (assistant TO the regional manager) is portrayed as a very unlikable (outside of humor value) character. Pet the Dog is subverted (TWICE) and played straight when he sits with a tearful Pam. He first takes off his jacket, making it seem like he's going to give it to her, but then just says "It's hot in here." He offers her a handkerchief and says he'll stay with her in a genuinely kind moment, putting his arm around her shoulder. Then he says, "You must be PMSing pretty bad." It's here
Another Dwight example is when he rescues his worst enemy Jim from getting beat up by pepperspraying the attacker. This is after Jim has spent every office day making things as inconvenient for Dwight as possible. Dwight refuses any thank you gift Jim offers, saying that he just did his duty (which drives Jim crazy).
Once Upon a Time: Both Regina and Rumplestiltskin have their moments, including a literal example of petting the dog between Rumple and Pongo:
Belle: I didn't know you were such a dog person.
There's also Hook saving Aurora's heart when it was about to fall into the abyss. Granted, he ripped it out first, but it still counts. It even prompted some Ship Tease.
Ron gets too many to list. Despite the fact that he continuously says that he dislikes people (even once expressing glee at the idea that one of the workers at city hall may have died but then becoming upset when he realized it was actually Lil Sebastian), his behavior towards fellow antisocial Deadpan Snarker, April, tends to be like that of a proud father. He always looks out for his coworkers. When Ben and Chris talk about firing Leslie, he says that he should be fired in her stead because "no other department has a Leslie Knope." When Chris makes Tom sell his shares in the Snakehole Lounge, Ron stands up for him defending him for pursuing his "goofy dream." He even offers Andy a "Ron Swanson Scholarship". That's right—he offers to pay Andy through college from his own pocket. The crown jewel of all of them happens in Season 4's Christmas episode, though. Ron enlists the other members of the Parks Department to come up with a gift for Leslie that can help equalize the years of thoughtful presents they've all been getting from her. In the end after her campaign managers abandon her, he and the rest of the department offer to take their place. It's Ron's idea, and it's glorious.
In spite of years of insisting that he doesn't care about his employee's personal lives, and in fact takes pride in knowing nothing about them, the prospect of losing April, she's mad at Andy and is contemplating taking a job in Indianapolis to spite him, he intervenes and saves their relationship.
April showing her loyalty to Ron and love for Andy count. In the episode where she and Andy get married, she shows that she cares deeply for Leslie. She gets a lot of them in Season 4, including showing her concern for Ben's feelings after Leslie and Ben break up. At the beginning of one episode, she wishes for Chris's happiness to go away. In the middle, of the episode, Millicent dumps him, effectively making her wish come true. At the end of the episode she offers him three movie tickets (inviting him to come to the movies with her and Andy) and a hug. Even though she hates Ann, one episode has her setting Ann up with Tom because she genuinely thinks Tom makes her happy. She even tries to keep it a secret from Leslie because she knows about Ann's probable embarrassment. D'aww.
Ben initially comes off as a bit of a jerk, but even after Leslie yells at him three times in a single episode, he calmly takes her out for a drink. The episode Freddie Spaghetti starts out with him proposing that Leslie be fired, but in the end not only does he not fire her, he saves Leslie's impromptu concert by getting Freddie to perform. Soon, he becomes the sort of character that doesn't need pet the dog moments.
If you think you've gone too far with Pet the Dog, you can always remind the audience of why the character needed it in the first place. They did it with Arnold Rimmer. He started out as a petty control freak with neuroses up to his eyeballs; in fact, for many of the early episodes, he fulfilled the role of the antagonist. But now and again the writers slipped in a moment of humanity, such as when he learned of his father's death, or a moment where he wasn't quite so self-centered as usual. Then they showed us what he could be like as a hero (the dimension-hopping Ace Rimmer: What a guy!), and let him show the occasional backbone ("Better dead than smeg"). By the time he left the cast, he was almost, shall we say, a decent human being. So Lister missed him, which was revealed through a... um... dream. And Kryten figured out the best way to cure Lister, as shown in this clip (or look up "The Rimmer Song").
The novelization of the series made this even more explicit when Rimmer creates a double of himself from an old computer backup, and it's eventually revealed (even to Rimmer himself) that he has changed, and the "new/old" Rimmer is a far bigger jerk.
Not to mention that the entire story begins with Lister refusing to surrender his pregnant cat Frankenstein.
The show itself would go on to show how far Rimmer's come in "Back in the Red." The whole crew of the Red Dwarf has been rebooted, and the gang gets help from their ol' pal Rimmer. Just like the old days, huh? Nope. Trusting a Rimmer who's still in day-one form proves to be an exceedingly bad idea. The guy's middle name is Judas for a reason.
Though even this Rimmer has his moments, such as his returning to the disintegrating Red Dwarf in the season 8 finale. He had the opportunity to stay in the opposite universe Red Dwarf, were he was captain. Also, he would have suffered no ill effects from the alternate universe. But once he found the way to save "his" ship ( or so he thought) the first thing he did was to rush back to his ship and crew to save them.
Revolution: Captain, no, Major Tom Neville has been shown to do this toward some people, like when he gave mortally wounded Fletcher a suicide flask to die quickly with in episode 2, like when he ordered that bully Private Richards to give Danny water in episode 3, and like when convinced his wife Julia Neville to leave the Monroe Republic with him in episode 13. The same goes for his son, Nate Walker/Jason Neville, who saved Charlie's life from that rapist Trevor in the pilot episode, gave the power pendant back to Aaron when he begged for it back in episode 5, and finally refusing to call in an air strike on the rebel base in episode 11.
Dr. Kelso has a real fondness for his dog, Baxter. This is because, as he says, Baxter is "the only creature in my life that never disappointed me". Kelso is also shown to genuinely love his son even though his son can't hold down a job or a boyfriend. And he ends up liking the young son of a man needing surgery, as well. Yeah, Kelso gets a lot of these moments.
These effectually form half of Kelso's character, maintaining that his Affably Evil demeanor has an aspect of self-sacrificial necessity. He accepts being seen as a miserly bastard to keep Sacred Heart going. The Dog petting is just to remind us.
The Janitor has had a few as well, particularly when he once spent a day keeping a patient company.
The pilot does this with Bob and Perry: the former starts off being very easy-going while the latter's virtually an ogre, but near the end of the episode it's shown that while Kelso cares little (apparently) about the interns or patients, Cox is actually 'the good guy'. All throughout the show, Cox is shown as an incredibly insensitive or cruel character to his job-mates, his sister and his wife, but he cares a lot about his patients and his son.
Jordan also gets more than one — talking about the abortion she got years ago, saying how much she loves Cox, staring down at Jack with a loving expression... awww...
The titular character describes himself as a "high-functioning sociopath" and ridicules Watson for considering him a hero. That doesn't stop him from hating his brother for (allegedly) upsetting their mother, or seriously losing his composure when Watson is in danger.
And in "A Scandal in Belgravia", he realizes just how insulting he was being to Molly, apologizes, and kisses her on the cheek.
Smaller but very deliberate examples: when (he believes) he is being asked to choose who he thinks is the best man in history, despite his enthusiasm for scientific discoveries and intellect above all else, he chooses a man who opened a lot of orphanages. Later on, he shows very obvious disgust towards a man with a white supremacy tattoo. All this whilst repeatedly claiming to be a sociopath.
"His Last Vow": Sherlock getting John out of a bonfire, stopping himself from being clinically dead, AND OUTRIGHT killing Magnussen, to stop the guy from blackmailing Mary and keeping both John and Mary safe. In front of everyone, John included.
The writers tried many, many times to humanize Vic after his reprehensible murder of Terry Crowley in the pilot episode. This included his friendship with junkie prostitute Connie, a paternal need to protect children wherever and whenever, and the love he has for the members of his Strike Team and his family. This is then thrown right back in the audience's face by series creator Shawn Ryan in the final series of episodes, because for all the good Vic did in Farmington and for his family, he still committed a long list of serious crimes and alienated everyone who ever got close to him.
Shane Vendrell "kidnapping" Vic's family (in order to protect them from an Armenian mob hit) was meant to garner sympathy after he killed Lem (who Vendrell believed would turn the whole Strike Team and their criminal acts over to the Feds) at the end of Season 5.
Mob boss Tony Soprano is an inveterate dog-petter; his love of animals is frequently played up as one of his few signs of true humanity, as well as his protectiveness towards not just his children but, as long as they're young enough, others'. In one episode he loses it and kills one of his best-earning lieutenants for apparently killing a racehorse by arson (who did so for purely financial reasons) — the same racehorse Tony sat up with all night when it was sick.
It's never outright revealed if said lieutenant actually was responsible for the horse's death. Tony's love of and affection towards animals is one of his most redeeming qualities, so it's entirely possible it was just the horse incident that set him off, but it could also be that it was the last straw, Tony being sick of dealing with the bastard, and he used it as an excuse. But in any case, the guy'd had it coming since he'd murdered the stripper.
Though ironically, after spending his time on the series being an irredeemable jackass, Ralph was finally showing signs of heading towards redemption after his son was seriously injured, which occurred in the exact same episode in which he died.
It also serves as a way to reveal more information about the character. Sociopaths tend to have more affection for animals than people. In fact, the series makes the same comment toward the end, when Melfi's shrink shares new studies with her which state that although affection toward animals and small children may seem like it humanizes sociopaths like Tony, therapy actually does very little other than train them to better imitate normal people and thus become more deadly. Tony's supposed love for children is pretty shallow considering he's murdered plenty of people with young children and sent a group of thugs to terrorize a group of drug addicts who were squatting in a house even though there were young kids living there.
On a more villain-based note, over the course of the series, recurring antagonist Gul Dukat tries to blackmail Kira into letting him station a garrison on the station in exchange for helping them out of a crisis only he can fix, betrays the entire Alpha Quadrant to the Dominion, unleashes the Bajorans' demons to fight the Propets, and corrupts the leader of the Bajoran religion over to his side, but he also believes in Sisko when the possibility is raised that Sisko may be involved in certain conspiracies, believes Sisko's version of events when the Defiant is stolen by the Maquis, and basically sacrifices his entire career to be a father to his illegitimate, half-Bajoran daughter. Producers have stated that their goal with Dukat was always to make his villainous moments worse by reinforcing the idea that Dukat can do the right thing but so often chooses to act solely in his own self-interest instead.
In one particular moment, while chasing down the stolen Defiant, Dukat seems genuinely sorry that the mission has required him to break a promise he had made to take his son to an amusement park for his birthday. Whatever his faults, Dukat does seem to truly love his children, even if he sometimes tries to convince himself he doesn't. In the same scene, he also expresses regret that this may contribute to his son developing a negative opinion of the Federation.
Taken: In the final episode "Taken", after Allie leaves with the aliens, Captain Walker asks General Beers whether they should pick up Charlie and Lisa, who are only about 30 feet away from them. Beers replies, "They must've slipped away in all the excitement. I don't see them anywhere." Walker then says that he doesn't see them either.
Despite Kate's awful attitude towards werewolves, she is a loving aunt to Allison.
Great example in "Lunatic." She comforts a sobbing Allison over her boyfriend - right after making Allison taze a teddy bear.
In Top Gear UK, at the end of the American Road Trip challenge, the trio are genuinely horrified by the level of destruction brought to New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina and decide to abandon their plans to sell the cars off in a final challenge in favour of donating their cars to local charities for free. Notable as the trio had spent the majority of the episode being rather condescending to American people and their culture, and the Alabama hillbilly incident likely didn't help their views on them either.
The Twilight Zone: In the 2003 revival, the episode It's Still a Good Life shows us that Anthony has grown up and is still mentally a child, considering people who hide things from him to be "sneaky people", bullying the townsfolk, and wishing away people to the cornfield (this, we find out, includes his own wife). In spite of this, he seems to love his mother and his daughter as much as he is capable of. In fact, his daughter is the only one who does not fear him at all, because he never threatens or harms her.
Upstairs Downstairs: In the relaunch, Hallam's mother comes across as imposing and annoying, butting heads with her daughter-in-law, shipping the Cute Mute orphan Lotte to an asylum, and sending Hallam's sister, who had Down's Syndrome, to an asylum and telling him that she died. We find out at the end of the season that Hallam's mother truly loved her daughter and took care to send her to a place that were she was kept very comfortable and happy. She also sent Lotte to the same place, foreshadowed when Hallam wonders how in the world his mother would know of a "good" asylum to send Lotte to.
Damon offering to erase Jeremy's memory in "Haunted".
And later insisting on erasing the sheriff's memory rather than killing her, despite the fact that the person in question is on vervain, so it will take a few days before Damon can actually do it, during which time he'll have to keep her in his house. "You're my friend."
Actually Caroline eventually wiped her mother's memory, but not before it seemed that she accepted what her daughter was and was prepared to have a relationship with her despite it.
Klaus actually manages this when we find out that the reason he's keeping Stefan around is because he considers him his only friend. Of course, Klaus being Klaus, this involved far too much blood and murder.
In season 2, when the Sheriff is called on Duncan and Veronica breaking into the household of some abusive parents, it is expected the Sheriff - usually an incompetent Jerkass - will arrest them and not believe the parents are abusing their daughter. Instead he pretends to arrest Duncan and Veronica, goes back to the household and investigates the parents. He also indicates his own father was abusive.
Season One's "Hot Dogs" serves as something of a Pet the Dog moment for that extraordinaire, Aaron Echolls. Okay, not many Pet the Dog moments involve beating a man to a bloody pulp, but still, this guy loves his daughter.
Merle Dixon has a few moments of this in AMC's series. He's a sociopathic, shockingly racist and sexist dick, but upon being informed of Amy's death, he notably pauses before saying that she was a nice kid and that he's very sorry. Also, he's visibly horrified by the sight of the Governor acting like he's going to rape Maggie. Oh, and don't mess with his brother Daryl. Ever.
Negan has a soft spot for kids. When Carl infiltrates his base and guns down several of his men, Negan is clearly impressed. Not only does he treat Carl as a guest in his home, but he also refuses to lash out when the boy threatens him, even sincerely apologizing for hurting his feelings when he forced him to remove the bandage covering his missing eye. After he takes Carl back to Alexandria, he makes him spaghetti and spends the afternoon sitting on the porch drinking lemonade and babysitting Judith.
Weird Science: Chett played by Lee Tergeson in the Weird Science TV series is not quite as hopeless a jerk as in the movie at the worst of times, but is usually somewhat of an antagonist, so the trope isn't all that strong. But he completely breaks what appeared to be his role before his nice-guy image was at all fostered when he walks by a bunch of kittens on the sidewalk and can't resist fawning over them. Much like the nazis, he likes teh kitties apparently.
When They See Us: Matias Reyes, due to seeming remorse and empathy for Korey, confesses his guilt in the rape. This ultimately results in the boys finally having their names cleared.
When Dennis "Cutty" Wise asks Avon Barksdale for a donation of $10,000 to start a boxing gym as a means of youth outreach, Avon proceeds to erupt into incredulous laughter at the proposal. Once the laughter subsides, Avon reveals that he's laughing because after all the build up and talking, he was shocked at Cutty only asking for $10,000, and promptly donates $15,000 instead.
Additionally, Wee-Bey Brice, drug dealer and assassin, owns multiple tanks full of pet exotic fish, and talks about them with the same fondness that any other dedicated pet owner would. Even after he's incarcerated he continually makes sure that his wife and son are taking care of them properly. More importantly he lets Bunny Colvin adopt his son to give him the chance that he never had, recognizing that his soldier's life and gangster mentality has got him nowhere.
On the side of the Law, we have Bill Rawls, the superior officer to our Cowboy CopAnti-Hero, Jimmy McNulty. Rawls had been established as a vindictive, spiteful jack off whose Establishing Character Moment featured him flipping McNulty off with both fingers, but after Kima is shot and put into critical condition, McNulty blames himself for getting her injured. Rawls then takes McNulty aside and tells him that, even though he hates his guts, he's not going to stand there and let him beat himself up over something that wasn't his fault. "Shit went bad," he says. "She took two for the company. That's the only lesson here."
Even Marlo Stanfield gets this in the fourth season. After it's established that Marlo is an amoral killer who wants to be the king at any cost, he gives a group of students (which include Michael, Kenard and Dukie) $500 each, and has his lieutenant Chris Partlow make sure they're cared for and have clothing and books for school. This leads to a subversion - Michael refuses the money, and stands up for himself in front of Marlo, leading to the kingpin eventually bringing Michael in as a part of his organization.
Jay Landsman portrays himself as the ultimate company man, vigorously pursuing Rawls' needs for better stats. However when one of his detectives brings in Bubbles for accidentally killing his friend with tainted heroin, he shows compassion and has him released. Given that Bubbles tried to hang himself in the interrogation room, he notes that no punishment will ever equal what he will put himself through.
Wizards of Waverly Place: Alex has several, especially with Justin but also with Harper when she helped her at Gigi's "loser party". Also when she helped an old lady cross a street.