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Playing With / The Dark Side Will Make You Forget

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Basic Trope: Good guy uses The Dark Side for good ends, Slowly Slipping Into Evil without realizing it.

  • Straight: The High Queen Alice uses the Artifact of Doom to defeat the Black Knight Bob, who was threatening to destroy her kingdom of Troperia. As time goes on, she starts using the Artifact of Doom less and less to defeat genuine threats to Troperia's stability and more and more to cement her own rule, until she becomes a ruthless tyrant whose rule is worse for Troperia than Bob's depredations ever were.
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  • Exaggerated: Alice strikes down Bob the Black Knight with the Artifact of Doom, but unbeknownst to her, You Kill It, You Bought It is in effect, so Alice immediately becomes the new Black Knight, with exactly the same goals and personality as Bob had.
  • Downplayed: Alice's justice becomes harsher and she's more of a jerk in her personal life, but she remains a fair ruler.
  • Justified:
  • Inverted:
  • Subverted: Alice uses the Artifact of Doom to defeat Bob, but then returns it to its can and rules Troperia as normal...
  • Double Subverted:
    • ... Until another villain passes the Godzilla Threshold. And then comes Charlie, who isn't quite as dangerous, but Alice still isn't sure she could win without using the Artifact of Doom. And then Diana, who could possibly be redeemed, but the destruction she'd wreak if the Heel–Face Turn failed would be just too much to risk. And then comes Evan, who's not that bad, but his attempted revolution against Alice would destabilize Troperia, and he's too strong for her to stand up against without the Artifact of Doom. This goes on until Alice is a full-on Blood Knight who uses the Artifact of Doom on anyone who complains about her because they're a potential threat.
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    • Alternatively: Alice only gets to use the Artifact of Death once before it's destroyed, but it doesn't matter. The artifact wasn't inherently corrupting beyond being easy to use for evil things, but the fact that Alice even thought of using it in the first place was a sign of her growing Knight Templar nature.
    • Sure, the Artifact of Doom has no magical corrupting properties, but its powers are designed for psychological corruption- they present a temptation to take the easy-but-evil way out and play on the wielder's worst flaws (say, someone with anger issues finds that they gain the most power in the heat of rage, and a proud person has powers that encourage putting themselves in the spotlight) and help them fulfill their most damaging desires. You're not automatically evil the instant you pick the thing up, but it sets up the circumstances for Jumping Off the Slippery Slope without the wielder noticing.
  • Parodied: When Alice uses the Artifact of Doom, it starts the "Dark force" background music. When she uses it to kill, a mailman delivers her a greeting card from The Evil Side. Alice wonders if it means anything, before asking her tailors to get her a Stripperiffic Red and Black and Evil All Over outfit.
  • Zig Zagged: Sometimes are means which matter, other times are the ends. Other time is just angst and after a while no one remembers that the protagonist ever did something bad.
  • Averted: There is no Dark Side, just Grey Morality.
  • Enforced: "Invincible Hero is losing popularity. How can we shoehorn some badassery without the audience complaining?" "Cursed pants?"
  • Lampshaded:
    • "This better not be one of those cursed swords I read about, you know, the kind that make you a bad guy, and stuff."
    • "Everything the Artifact of Doom is used for turns to evil. Everything it touches is corrupted or destroyed outright. Even if you start out a champion of justice, you will become a tyrant in time."
  • Invoked: Emperor Evulz ensured that the Artifact of Doom would fall into Alice's hands as part of a complicated scheme to cause enough chaos through her inevitable fall that he will be able to annex the Troperia easily, and no matter how bad he is he's going to be seen as a hero compared to Alice.
  • Exploited: Emperor Evulz knows about the Artifact of Doom's corrupting nature, so when he hears of Alice's victory against Bob with it, he subtly provokes her to use it more and more until she's evil, her people hate her, and she's too unstable to resist his takeover.
  • Defied:
    • Alice finds the Artifact of Doom... and promptly decides that there is absolutely no Godzilla Threshold whatsoever that would justify using anything so evil. She then throws the thing into a volcano.
    • Alice uses the Artifact of Doom, but makes sure to have ways to pull herself back if she starts going too far.
  • Discussed:
    • "You used to be such a good queen, but then you picked up the Artifact of Doom and now you're a tyrant. You're not 'you' anymore, Alice, and I'm scared that thing is the cause."
    • "You used the Artifact of Doom in the first place to save your people, Alice. Do you even remember that? Do you have any connection to the hero you once were?"
  • Conversed: "Remember in the legends the Blood Warrior of Hellesbe wasn't born that way. He picked up the Artifact of Doom and could never see the evil in what he was doing after that."
  • Deconstructed: Alice knows the perils of tempting her own dark side, but tries to rationalize it as The Needs of the Many. In the end she falls for the dark side, but is still considered a hero for sacrificing her morality for the sake of others.
  • Reconstructed: But it was a Senseless Sacrifice- Diana later finds out a way that could have stopped Bob, but by giving up on her morals too early, she damned herself to become a worse monster than Bob ever was.
  • Played For Laughs: "Can you please put down that Artifact of Doom? It causes a aura of doom and despair to hang around you and it's getting super annoying.
  • Played For Drama: Charlie knows what happened to Alice and as such is very reluctant to use the Artifact of Doom, but it's the only possible way to save his fiancée, Indira the Innocent (and no Gave Up Too Soon here, it really is the only way). Its corrupting effects, however, lead him into greater and greater acts of evil, until he ends up cutting down Indira herself in cold blood, leading to a My God, What Have I Done? realization that drives him to suicide.

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