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Basic Trope: The heroes are unambiguously good, but the villains are morally ambiguous.

  • Straight: The good guys who serve the greater good are in conflict with the bad guys who do not border to completely evil.
  • Exaggerated:
  • Downplayed: The good guys are fighting against the bad guys who may be evil, but are really nice guys once you get to know them.
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    • A Lighter Shade of Gray: While the villains are still sympathetic, the heroes themselves aren't squeaky clean, yet they still have a higher moral ground.
  • Justified:
  • Inverted:
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  • Subverted: The villain was just lying about wanting to make the world better, even if it was through immoral actions & really did it For the Evulz.
  • Double Subverted: It turns out that although the villain was just doing it For the Evulz; there are certain lines (s)he won't cross because Even Evil Has Standards.
  • Parodied:
    • The conflict is said to cause philosophers headaches by the very nature of good and evil it's presenting, where as regions are divided on it and the conflict is causing them to split off into factions. The entire conflict is over one ice cream stand charging a little extra for sprinkles, just so with tax it would cost an even amount, while the other gives them for free with every cone.
    • The heroes are so good-hearted that it's so jarring while the villains are evil because people mistreat them for being freaky loners of society.
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  • Zig Zagged: The morality of the situation changes with every new revelation. The heroes always try to stay good, but it will be revealed their actions have caused harm, while those in the grey area never really change morality based on these facts.
  • Averted:
  • Enforced:
  • Lampshaded: "The bad guys don't look like they're bad guys. Meanwhile, the good guys are, well, good guys."
  • Invoked: The government decides to put a computer chip in everyone that makes it so that there's always some good left in their hearts, even when they turn evil.
  • Exploited: A manipulator uses the ambiguity to get the heroes to do things for him, using their moral views to get them to do actions that are worse than either side intended.
  • Defied:
  • Discussed: "Aren't villains supposed to be nasty and vicious? Oh well, at least the heroes are still kind and selfless."
  • Conversed:
    • Alice: "Why does it seem that this show only has no purely evil villains, while still having clear-cut heroes?"
    • Bob: "There are two kinds of people on this planet: people with good-hearts and aspirations with the knowledge to make their goals a reality, and people who are misguided, broken, confused, and in pain, but never truly evil."
  • Deconstructed:
    • The antagonists are totally sympathetic that the heroes don't seem to see any reason to punish them for their evil when it needs to be done. As a result, the villains defeat the heroes to make the world better in their own way.
    • Just because the villains have sympathetic qualities doesn't mean they will never be willing to turn from their villainy. This causes the heroes (and the audience) to lose sympathy for them and thus, the heroes win.
  • Reconstructed: After being morally pushed by the situation, the heroes realize that it doesn't matter if they are right, the way they go about it is still damaging to other people and it needs to be stopped before more people get hurt than helped.

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