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Pragmatic Villainy / Video Games

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Pragmatic Villainy in video games.

  • In Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, when Erusea deployed their drone army against Osea, the drones caused zero civilian casualties. When Osea launched a counterattack, their reckless assault got a number of civilians killed, which caused many nations to support Erusea over Osea. It's later shown that the Erusean Radicals did this purely to garner PR for their "bloodless" war rather than any real moral concerns. They have no qualms in continuing to use drones after the satellite network is brought down and the drones have lost the ability to tell friend from foe, killing enemies, civilians, and even other Eruseans from the Conservative party without restraint.
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  • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney: In the third case, the killer turned out to be smuggling a Borginian cocoon into the country, and killed an Interpol agent who was about to catch him. When accused of those crimes, he says that even if he managed to get the cocoon out of Borginia (which has extremely tight security and sentences smugglers to death), he would be hard-pressed to find a seller in the country in which the game takes place. According to him, he'd either risk being caught by Interpol, or his clients suspecting him of a sting operation. He's not wrong about this, but Apollo manages to prove that he had a relatively safe client- the Chief Justice, whose son is in the hospital with Incuritis, a disease that only the cocoon can cure. The Chief Justice would have much to lose if the scandal became public, so he naturally would have no reason to betray the person who sells him the cocoon.
  • Assassin's Creed
    • Governor Laureano de Torres y Ayala in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is shown to be against slavery, only because it will fuel resentment and rebellion in the long run, rather than seeing it as immoral.
    • For most playable Assassins in the series, killing civilians will give you a warning that "This ancestor did not kill civilians", and continuing to do so will saddle you with a Non-Standard Desynchronization. This does not include Shay Cormac of Assassin's Creed: Rogue after he becomes a Templar... but it does include Jack the Ripper in the DLC for Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, whose warning message is instead "Jack did not compromise his plans by killing random civilians". He's not opposed to killing innocents, but he has a plan, and if killing someone is going to make things harder for him, that's not part of the plan.
  • In a Batman: Arkham Knight prequel comic, the Arkham Knight impersonates Batman and murders criminals, trying to frame Batman for it and make it look like Batman has snapped. He avoids killing innocents, both because he wants witnesses to spread the word and because he knows if he killed them, it would be obvious he was an impostor. In the game proper, he argues to Scarecrow to just let him kill Batman instead of using mind games and death traps. Getting rid of the biggest threat now is worth more than making him suffer and giving him chances to survive.
    • Scarecrow also counts here, since making Batman suffer is his main goal. He couldn't care less about taking over the city, that's just the bait to lure out Batman. He wants to be the Hope Crusher that destroys Batman as a symbol of hope for the people of Gotham. Just killing him outright would make him into a martyr, and thus solidify him as a symbol of hope forever.
    • This game also shows why, in the comic books, The Joker is often not invited to play with the other villains. Without his involvement, all the other villains are able to effectively join forces and present a far greater threat to Batman than they ever could have individually.
  • BioShock: Frank Fontaine opened up soup kitchens within Rapture, not out of love, but to build a base of loyal supporters among the city's lower class.
  • The first couple of times you run into Graham Jones in Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow he is very friendly toward you and even helps you out. At that point in the game he thinks you're no threat to his plans and sees no reason whatsoever to behave otherwise. He also completely disregards the amnesiac bumbling around the castle. However, Yoko, an agent for the Church and a powerful witch, is dangerous enough for him to hunt down, and once he learns about Soma's strange powers, he changes his mind...
    • Similarly, Death tends to be this in any of the games he appears in where the castle is being ruled by someone other than Dracula. Especially in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin: he has no interest in fighting Jonathan or Charlotte because they are facing Brauner rather than his master, points this out when they challenge him, and decides to simply leave when they pose a threat to him. Pride be damned when he doesn't have a valid reason to put himself at risk against an opponent.
  • Conviction (SRPG): While Emperor Abyss has no problems killing clergymen who stand in the way of his goals, he disapproves of Angelii's massacre of Lassla, since the empire gains nothing from it and the villagers are still valuable laborers. He only forgives her after learning that the village champion betrayed the empire.
  • In The Council of Hanwell, the Council only uses condemned prisoners for experiments, refusing to use people who haven't yet had a trial. The Doctor gets impatient waiting for the justice system.
  • Crusader Kings game mechanics encourage this on the part of the Player Character. Randomly revoking vassals' titles or imprisoning or beheading people without a clear reason increases the chance of a revolt against your rule, but a king who is "good" by modern definitions doesn't tend to last long. Doing things like faking claims on foreign lands so you can conquer them and assassinating heirs (prepubescent children included) so that particular people will inherit are key components of gameplay.
  • Danganronpa:
  • Dawn of War features a number of examples.
    • In the first game's Expansion Pack Winter Assault, during the Disorder campaign, the forces of Chaos are in conflict with the Orks of Lorn V; when they discover the Imperial Guard and Craftworld Eldar are also on the planet and both searching for an ancient Emperor Titan, the leaders of both factions temporarily team up to deal with their mutual enemies, but this doesn't mean they've decided to stop fighting one another for good. Also takes place in the Order campaign, where the Guard and the Eldar team up to stop the Chaos Marines and the Orks, despite both sides knowing that their ultimate motives are mutually-exclusive and they will eventually have to turn against each other.
    • The page quote is from Chaos Rising, the first expansion to Dawn of War II. During an early skirmish with the player's forces, Big Bad Araghast the Pillager allows them to leave the battlefield with their lives. When his Dragon Eliphas raises an eyebrow at this, Araghast counters that it suits his purposes to do so — there's a traitor amongst the player's loyal comrades who has provided him with useful information, and he let them leave to continue making use of the traitor without blowing his cover. Eliphas has a nasty grudge against the player's forces, some of whom defeated him in battle during the Kronus campaign in Dark Crusade, but Araghast has no interest in indulging his enforcer's vendetta.
    • In Retribution, the Imperial Guard campaign features a sterling example when Sergeant Merrick yells at Lord General Castor for leaving a large number of Guardsmen to die during a disasterous battle on Typhon Prime while he and the good sergeant escaped along with Commissar-Lord Bernn and Inquisitor Adrastia; the good general replies as follows:
      Lord General Castor: Merrick, A guardsman's life is to die. My job has always been to send them to places where they can die. I am not afraid to spend them, but I never waste men. Because of their sacrifice, the Inquisitor now has the proof she needs. [...] Now, Sergeant Major, you may proceed with your attempt to kill me, but as I mentioned, I do not waste men if I can avoid it, and killing you for insubordination would be very... wasteful.
    • How Inquisitor Adrastia first warms Kaptin Bluddflagg to the idea of killing Kyras, who has no intention of endangering himself and his krew challenging a nearly Physical God. If he obliterates the sector, what's left for the orks to fight and plunder? However, she also fails the trope by screwing up the negotiations when, having promised him a fight against three Imperial regiments at a time and place of his choosing, she refuses to add her Nice Hat to the deal.
  • In the Deus Ex: Human Revolution "The Missing Link" DLC, you can find an email from the evil base commander where he claims he was informed that his subordinates are raping their female prisoners and demands that they stop or face harsh punishment...because this decreases the chance that they survive the horrific surgical procedure that turns them into Hyron Drones.
  • Dragon Age: Flemeth is a mysterious shapeshifting "witch of the wilds" and an Evil Matriarch besides, but she scoffs at the stories of her kidnapping and eating children. "Pah! As if I had nothing better to do!"
  • Dungeon Keeper: The Keeper might be a Villain Protagonist malevolent spirit out to drown the world in darkness, but it behooves it to be at least somewhat considerate of its evil minions: providing amenities and entertainment, keeping them away from creatures that press their Berserk Button, keeping the Training from Hell moderate, and never saying We Have Reserves. Creatures will leave or rebel if abused too much, and high-level minions are worth accommodating a bit.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In Morrowind, Master Aryon seems to be the Reasonable Authority Figure of House Telvanni. However, he's actually being 'flexible' because the stubbornness of the other Telvanni councilors leaves the House at a disadvantage to its numerous powerful enemies; his motives are entirely self-interested.
    • Skyrim:
      • The Thieves' Guild has a "no killing" rule, because leaving behind dead bodies draws attention and makes people more hostile (and getting rid of the bodies takes work and money), and they'd much rather be seen as a nuisance than a serious threat. Additionally, as they say, "a half-dead man can still make his payment, while a dead man pays no gold".
      • Similarly, if you side with the Volkihar vampires, many of their side quests have you put down various non-affiliated groups of vampires, because the more advanced vampires in the castle don't appreciate their unsubtle methods and doesn't want the cattle (i.e. mortals) to get unduly spooked and possibly hostile. That, and they don't want to share.
      • Whether you side with the Volkihar vampires or not, you'll meet Valerica, Serana's mother, hiding in the Soul Cairn. She reveals the actions that she had taken to help prevent Harkon from fulfilling the 'Tyranny of the Sun' prophecy, which you'd initially think that she'd have been all for as a Vampire Lord herself. Her reasoning is that an event of that scale would drive all of the mortal races to fight back against them, and not stop until every vampire was snuffed out and the sun returned.
  • This is the reason why "professional" pirates in EVE Online hate the more Griefer-like rat bastard ones. A professional pirate will trap your ship and make you a simple offer - pay them or your ship and capsule will be destroyed. If you pay up, they'll let you go, otherwise they blow you up and loot your wreck. The rat bastards will do the same thing, except if you pay up they destroy you and loot your wreck anyway. The professionals hate the bastards because they make people far less likely to pay up, which is far more reliable profit than looting wrecks (as what survives a wreck is random). Quite a lot of people in Eve refuse to ever pay ransoms for their ships simply because they don't believe in "honest" pirates any more.
  • Fallout: New Vegas:
    • Mr. House is not a nice man and freely says that he desires to become the region's dictator (he prefers "autocrat"), but he has no interest in power without a purpose and his theoretical plans for the Mojave would certainly benefit mankind as a whole. Likewise, he's merciless in dealing with people who have earned his ire or even have a chance of standing in his way, but in personal interactions he's usually just sort of condescending, not showing any overt malice.
      • He's also smart enough to do something none of the other factions, Colonel Moore for instance, can figure out: Pay the Courier well, treat him/her with respect after performing a job well done, and in many of the endings, affording the Courier every luxury he can, if only out of fear of the seemingly one man/woman army bringing him down as well. Whereas others bluster, order, or outright threaten the apparent wasteland walking Titan, House (mostly) sticks to being straight up professional, and isn't afraid to offer praise for a job well done.
    • House is this trope all over. His views on holding power are simple: Why bother wasting resources on oppressing his subjects when he can appease them and profit instead? He wants to exterminate the Legion because they want to raze Vegas and are insanely brutal luddites, but he offers generous terms to the NCR if he defeats them. He wants you to stop the Legion from assassinating President Kimball because him being and politically ruined shifts the blame of the NCR citizenry away from Vegas, and he doesn't want you to kill Caesar because he would like the continued existence of the Legion to distract the NCR while he builds his power base (nonetheless if Caesar dies, House kind of accepts the world is better off without him anyway and moves on). He even pays you if you deal with the Omertas problem before he instructs you to do so, to not "disincentive your proactivity."
    • Father Elijah, a rabid Brotherhood fanatic, actually had some pretty sensible policies during his time as the leader of the Mojave Wasteland Chapter of the Brotherhood of Steel, including obtaining beneficial technology such as farming equipment and trading such technology with Wastelanders in order to gain their support. Elijah doesn't actually care about Wastelanders and is happy to sacrifice them if needed, but was smart enough to recognize that the Brotherhood was too small and insular to survive without support from their Wastelander neighbors (a fact which even his much more moral successor completely missed). ...Or not. His successor can be made to admit that the Brotherhood is doomed, but he's not willing to break the Codex like Elijah was. Elijah breaks the rules for what he sees as the greater purpose of his organization... both the ones that keep the Brotherhood from being outright evil, and the ones that have long since lost their purpose in the modern wasteland.
    • The Great Khans are a group of raiders that act like "professional" pirates. They're mainly hostile to the NCR, but tend to ignore locals of the Mojave, and are willing to peacefully trade, though the only thing they have to trade is drugs (though they will sell weapons to the Courier if he/she manages to get on their good side) and by the time of the game mostly keep to themselves at Red Rock Canyon.
      • You can also use this trope as an argument to convince the Khans' drug cooks to make medicines in addition to their regular drugs; a more diverse product line, plus customers who are less likely to die allowing for more repeat business, will give them more profits.
    • The Fiends have at least learned to stay out of Westside after their leader Motor-Runner decided that the local Super Mutant who protects the community there is more trouble than it's worth to kill.
    • In the final battle, Legate Lanius will only consider retreat if he's properly convinced/bluffed that he will face inevitable defeat, either through attrition, through an inability to support his army or even by convincing him that the NCR is setting a trap for him.
    • Colonel Moore is this. She is willing to put up with anything the Courier does because it will lead to winning the war, but she also makes sure to both slander the Courier and get Ambassador Crocker fired for doing things their way instead of hers (read: the Kill 'Em All method).
    • Gloria Van Graff is a completely ruthless bitch of a businesswoman who will do what is necessary to monopolize the weapons trade in the Mojave. She is also willing to work with the NCR to take down Caesar's Legion, because the NCR has a larger economy, and because she (unlike several other Mojave faction leaders) isn't delusional enough to think she will be the exception to Caesar's rule of killing those who outlive their usefulness.
    • The Garrets are willing to aid the Followers in fighting addiction in their customers, because addicts cause more trouble than they're worth and scare off the more profitable tourist clientele. Granted, this also may touch on Even Evil Has Standards since - bad reputation aside - they never do anything really bad in-game, and value a good reputation.
  • The Institute in Fallout 4 have a pretty high-minded and imperialist attitude regarding the Commonwealth (with them outright describing the region as "the last remnants of a dying past"), but they're still willing to accept the smartest of the Commonwealth's native Wastelanders into their ranks.
    • Speaking of the Institute, the Sole Survivor's Institute companion X6-88 will occasionally make remarks of this nature. For instance, he disapproves of the Sole Survivor performing illegal activities... not because he actually cares about Wastelanders or their laws, but because he knows it'll be harder for him to serve as your bodyguard when half the Wasteland is trying to shoot the two of you for being wanted criminals.
    • The Gunners might be an cult-like Army of Thieves and Whores with delusions of being professional mercenaries, but they leave MacCready alone in Goodneighbor since they don't want to risk going to war with the Commonwealth's biggest den of crime.
    • Of the three Raider gangs in the Nuka-World DLC, the Operators are ruthless Consummate Professionals Only in It for the Money, and the settlements they take control of are based around fleecing the innocent Settlers there of as many caps as they can possibly find while "taxing" them into what's essentially serfdom. Contrast this with the Disciples, who enjoy making modern art pieces out of Settlers' intestines, and the Pack, who are cannibals that regularly force Settlers to fight in one-sided duels to the death against Yao Guai.
  • Caster in Fate/stay night refrains from actually outright killing the victims she drains because that would draw even more attention, too much to cover up with a story about gas leaks.
  • Golden Sun:
    • Not so much a matter of avoiding morally reprehensible actions, but Agatio parts with his dignity in Golden Sun: The Lost Age and consciously plays the part of a dumb brute being manipulated by Alex because he knows that will get the job done, though he makes it clear that he's actually a Genius Bruiser and not fond of Alex's attitude.
    • Considering the events near the end of the previous game, Agatio also seems to be much more tolerant of Felix not directly following their plans than his predecessors were. Though he's pretty rough about reminding Felix what's at stake, he doesn't turn on Felix until Felix acts against him on behalf of Isaac, and even then he bides his time until Felix has finished his part and is no longer needed for the plan to succeed.
  • In Heart of the Woods, the Big Bad, Evelyn Fischer, would rather have Madison and Tara leave Eysenfeld rather than uncover something that would compromise her evil plans, she prefers not to take the risk of directly harming them. Instead, she tries to intimidate them into leaving, and when that fails, uses illusion magic to trick Madison into running after an illusionary Tara and freezing to death, (temporarily) disposing of a possible threat in a way that could plausibly be disguised as a natural cause of death. It isn't until the climax, when her plan is at its most crucial stage and the heroes are actively opposing her, that she takes matters into her own hands and tries to kill the heroes.
  • In Heroes of Might and Magic IV, after founding his own kingdom, the necromancer Gauldoth the Half-Dead gains a once-in-a-lifetime chance to invade his neighbouring nation while their armies are elsewhere and become the most powerful ruler in the world. Instead of doing this, he sends the invasion plans to the queen of said nation, telling his Number Two that whenever a necromancer gets too greedy, every living thing in the world allies against them. Instead, he's content on ruling his own little nation for all eternity, overlooked by everyone else.
  • The Agency of Hitman normally go after criminals and the like due to the fact that people pay more for world stability. Also, Agent 47 prefers not to kill anyone who isn't his target, since collateral damage isn't professional and it creates the risk of more witnesses (though he will kill witnesses if he has to).
    • In Hitman (2016), the ICA is hired to destroy a bioweapon that can kill target specific people via DNA, allowing anyone with the weapon and a sample of the target to kill them from halfway across the world. Despite such a weapon having potentially catastrophic implications in a moral, economic and geopolitical sense, Diana (and presumably the rest of the ICA) is more concerned that it would put them out of business.
  • Ares in Injustice: Gods Among Us helps the heroes stop Superman's Government since the lack of conflict has left the God of War with little power.
  • In Kingdom Hearts, Maleficent, of of all people, frequently demonstrates more common sense and practicality than any of the other villains. She may be using dark evil magic like the Heartless, but she's the one repeatedly reminding the other Disney villains that the Heartless are not a toy and relying on them too frequently tends to lead to going One-Winged Angel in a crazed fury.
    • In games taking place after KHII, when every other major villain is focusing on Kingdom Hearts, she gives up quickly because the clash between the heroes and Xehanort is the perfect distraction while she looks for the equally powerful Book Of Prophecies.
  • In Kuroinu, a pimp stops one of his Sex Slaves from anxiously biting her lip- because he wants to get the highest price possible when selling her, and that particular sort of injury makes her less attractive/valuable.
  • Count Arganan of The Last Story is very reasonable with the protagonist, Zael. When Zael is framed for kidnapping his niece, all it takes is an explanation from Zael's friend to get him out of jail, and later on, Arganan offers Zael knighthood and the hand of said niece in marriage, two things Zael has been hoping for. He does all this because he learns that Zael is The Chosen One and reasons that if he wants to use Zael's power to further his ambitions, it's better to just get on his good side than to try and threaten or force him into it.
  • Giliath Osborne from The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel is one of the most reasonable villains of the series who ends up using everything including getting himself killed by assassination to get the things that he wants in the long run (of course, Death Is Cheap for him so he comes back right away in the sequel and declaring that he wins the Civil War). Which ends up helping out the protagonists in the long run by killing the curse of Erebonia for good.
  • Lobotomy Corporation has the Fairy Festival, one of the potential Abnormalities you can obtain. The fairies are intelligent and ravenous for flesh, but they'll heal any employee that gets a Good result on them. However, they only do this because they are trying to protect and preserve their latest meal. If the employee they're healing tries to work on any other Abnormality besides them, they'll strip that employee to the bone out of fear that their food source is going to be eaten by another Abnormality.
  • Despite all the genuinely psychotic stuff going on in the titular setting of Maniac Mansion, including bloody chain saws in the kitchen, mad experiments, the kidnapped Damsel in Distress, and so forth, if you run into Edna she merely captures you and either calls the police or your mother. After all, there's no way anyone would believe the teenager's reasoning for sneaking in, and technically speaking he is trespassing.
  • In Mass Effect 3, Aria T'loak is a ruthless crime boss who ruled Omega until Cerberus threw her out. After you help her secure her position again, she turns around and throws every bit of support she can to you, because in her words "if the Reapers win, it won't matter where I'm sitting." Most of humanity's allies are far more conservative with their support- only the Krogan leader Urdnot Wrex and the Geth can potentially provide more support to the war than she can.
  • In the Storms of Zehir expansion of Neverwinter Nights 2, the player encounters the yuan-ti up to their usual tricks of infiltrating human society and conquering it from within. At the end of the campaign, however, when you are finally given a chance to confront one of their key leaders, she explains that her intentions are strictly non-aggressive. The yuan-ti have seen time and again what happens when they try to conquer human society by force, and have decided this time that it would be far preferable to strengthen humanity and rule over a prosperous puppet state from the shadows, instead. Much of the plot simply involves them setting up a thriving merchant empire which is mutually beneficial to the humans and the yuan-ti ownership alike.
  • In Night in the Woods, the Big Bad does some truly terrible things, but they do follow a very strict set of codes about what they allow themselves to do. The Cult of the Black Goat commits acts of Human Sacrifice to an Eldritch Abomination for the sake of saving their Dying Town, but they only sacrifice people who "won't be missed." To that end, the cult lets Mae and her group go because they have loved ones who would notice if they went missing, and because they hadn't done anything to personally wrong any members of the cult with the exception of Eide. Though, the cult even lets that go because Eide was trying to kill them, so it's an eye for an eye. Of course, who "won't be missed" is entirely up to them. Both Gregg and Bea call them out on this, especially once it's revealed that their friend Casey was one of the cult's victims.
  • "Good" choices in Overlord are often framed as this. For instance, after retrieving a village's stolen food supply, you're given the option to take it to feed your horde—but giving it back to the villagers instead increases their productivity (represented in-game by a higher respawn rate for the sheep you kill to feed your basic troops.)
  • PAYDAY: The Heist has this for the heist crew. They don't want to kill civilians because it will make the cops more aggressive against them and having no hostages gives cops less incentive to hesitate in attacking. In a gameplay perspective, you don't want to kill civilians because doing so delays your release from police custody, gives the team less hostages to barter your release with, and you incur a monetary penalty at the end of the level.
    • PAYDAY 2 gives you two more good reasons: untied civilians will now help up players with the "Stockholm Syndrome" skill (even giving them some ammo if the skill is aced), and police hostages can now be converted to your side - the ones with orange bulletproof armor in particular are really good meatshields because regular bullets cannot cut through their armor at all.
  • In Persona 5
    • After Ann discovers that the famous artist Madarame is selling counterfeit copies of his Magnum Opus "Sayuri", among other crimes, he plans on reporting the Phantom Thieves to the police, but decides to wait until after the exhibit is over to avoid the bad publicity. Unusually, this ends up working against Madarame in that it gives the Phantom Thieves enough time to change his heart, causing him to confess all his crimes on live TV. As a result, Madarame's reputation is completely ruined and he's sent to prison.
    • After the traitor in the party apparently succeeds in killing the protagonist, the traitor suggests to their boss that the other Phantom Thieves be left alone for the moment. As the traitor points out, having several high school students who were connected to the Phantom Thieves disappear would only arouse suspicion. Despite that, it's implied that the traitor does care about the Phantom Thieves to a certain extent, and would rather not have to kill them.
    • In Royal, the Traitor joins with the Phantom Thieves against their common enemy Takuto Maruki, the one who reshaped reality, since the person in question is too powerful for the traitor to defeat alone.
  • "The Practical Incarnation" is the name for the most evil of your previous selves you encounter in Planescape: Torment. Everything he did had a practical use, even if it ultimately resulted in horrible things like convincing a woman he loved her so her very soul would stick around and act as an oracle for him. He even leaves you with some very good, easy-to-follow instructions, so much the better to make sure you can carry on his work even after his death. May be regarded as a kind of inversion — rather than evil goals tempered in means by pragmatism, the Practical Incarnation has a neutral-to-okay goal made horrible by the pure practical pragmatism in the means.
  • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team, Team Meanies participates in Pokémon rescues because it earns them money and influence, which they would need if they want to take over the world.
  • In Portal 2, GLaDOS ends up thinking like this at the end of the single-player campaign. After all of the trouble she's gone through in two games, the evil AI finally decides to just let Chell go like she wanted. GLaDOS knows that if she keeps Chell around any longer, things are probably just going to keep getting worse. Though the return of the original Companion Cube and 'Want You Gone' present another possibility: GLaDOS lied about deleting Caroline, and invokes this trope to hide her true affection for Chell.
    The best solution to a problem is usually the easiest one. And I'll be honest. Killing you? Is hard. So you know what? You dangerous mute lunatic? You win. Just go.
  • Quest for Glory: Despite being a very dangerous and wicked spellcaster, Baba Yaga is a very passive force of evil in the world, and generally keeps to herself until she's provoked. Even then, she usually satisfies herself with curses and hexes rather than destroying her enemies outright: she only curses the Baron of Spielburg when he tries to run her out of the valley, and given the power she shows in the game, there's no doubt that she could have done much worse. And while she very well can devour the Hero if she desires, she ultimately leaves him off the menu; In Quest for Glory I she lets him live when he proves useful by running an errand for her (which comes back to bite her when you return and turn the tables on her with the magic mirror). By the time of Quest for Glory IV she's decided eating the Hero is altogether far more trouble than it's worth, and finds the various snacks the Hero brings her in exchange for her help and advice much more appealing, anyway. She even counsels you against getting involved with the Dark One when you ask her for one of the rituals, if you're a wizard.
  • Risky Boots from the Shantae gets a moment like this during Seven Sirens. Namely, she makes sure that the sirens don't kidnap Shantae, knowing that if they try to backstab her, Shantae can and will take down. This is in spite of the fact that if she was taken, Risky could have never had to deal with her again. This is also the reason she doesn't go all out in their fights this game.
  • Sleeping Dogs, Broken-Nose Jiang despises Big Smile Lee's prostitution and women-selling operations because she believes they are archaic and don't provide as much profit as white-collar crimes.
  • Constable Neyla of Sly 2: Band of Thieves, though only a "villain" in the sense that she works for Interpol and the protagonists are criminals, is aware that Sly's gang has a tendancy to bring down much more serious criminals and openly admits she's willing to slip him clues and even directly work with him for the greater good. Of course, this changes once it's revealed she actually is the game's Big Bad and was merely using you to get access to Clockwerk's body.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog's Dr. Eggman has willingly worked with Sonic and friends multiple times to prevent the world from being outright destroyed, including stopping his own grandfather's work in Sonic Adventure 2. Eggman's goal is world conquest, not world destruction. These traits are best exemplified in Shadow the Hedgehog, where Eggman is a possible "Hero" and "Dark" assistant, the only character in the game to be on both sides. Also, during an early cutscene, as Eggman watches a city being destroyed by the Black Arms, he gets increasingly more frustrated with their mindless destruction.
    Eggman: How can I take over the city and build the Eggman Empire if there is no city!?
  • In StarCraft's expansion Brood War, when Kerrigan is facing the UED, she gets in an Enemy Mine situation with Arcturus Mengsk, the guy who once betrayed her, and promises she will help him take his planet back from the UED in exchange for his help. Much to everyone's surprise , she does keep her word... because by doing so, she considerably weakens the UED's grasp in the sector. Once it's done, she promptly betrays him.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Knights of the Old Republic: Darth Revan was not a very nice person, but kept his atrocities to a minimum because Orbital Bombardment is bad for infrastructure and profit. When his former apprentice, Darth Malak, betrays him, all that goes out the window because Malak is an incompetent General Ripper; one of his first actions that the player sees is him ordering the total destruction of the completely-Sith-occupied Taris just to kill the player. Some Dark Side acts that the player can do are pragmatic, but most tend towards Stupid Evil.
    • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords separates Dark Side acts into either psychotic Stupid Evil actions or cunning manipulation. Kreia will essentially call The Exile a moron if they trend towards Stupid Evil, but will praise them for manipulation. The game also goes into further detail for Revan's motivations prior to the first game, describing him as a Well-Intentioned Extremist Anti-Villain.
    • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, the various Imperial characters, particularly Sith often tend to justify Light Side decisions this way. By the Rise of the Hutt Cartel expansion, Darth Marr and a Light Side Sith Inquisitor can both champion that the Empire should adopt Villain with Good Publicity as their public image, seeing it as the only way to help stabilise the Empire and repair the damage from the ongoing war with the Republic and infighting between Sith.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Bowser. At times he helps the Mario Brothers and other people, only because he wants to be the only one to take over the Mushroom Kingdom. Also, since his goal is conquest and not destruction, he'll assist the Mario Brothers so that others can't destroy what he wants to conquer.
    • In Paper Mario the Boos are forced into an Enemy Mine with Mario after one of their favourite victims, Tubba Blubba, is enchanted by Bowser and granted the power to eat them. After defeating him and freeing the Boos, Lady Bow relents that it's probably best they don't haunt Tubba Blubba anymore, unless he tries to take revenge on them again. She insists however that she's not sorry in the slightest for gleefully spooking him non-stop in the first place, and thought the big chicken deserved it.
    • Super Paper Mario's Dimentio is perhaps one of the darkest-ever takes on this trope. He repeatedly helps the heroes from behind the scenes... but is actually far worse than the main villain, only doing this to be able to weaken said villain enough so that his Artifact of Doom can ultimately be stolen for Dimentio's own ends. In the end, he even decides to subvert this trope altogether by using the last of his power to attempt a multiversal Taking You with Me out of sheer spite.
  • Lord Djibril in Super Robot Wars V berates Emperor Julio after his attempted public execution of Ange ends in a colossal failure, implying that he never approved. Since the existence of Dragons is exposed publicly and various organizations and nations (particularly ZAFT, the Orb Union, the Celestial Being and even the Earth Federation) take military action against the Founding Nations afterward, he was more than correct.
  • Tarzan: Untamed: Oswald Gardner tries to get his henchman Mr. Wolf to stop from killing Tarzan because "he must be reserved for study".
  • In Tweety and the Magic Gems for the Game Boy Advance, Sylvester is one of the six playable characters who participates in the quest to find the five Magic Gems that reverse the curse that turns Tweety to stone. If Sylvester achieves a goal at the end of the game, he explains his reason for participating in the quest; he can't eat Tweety if he turns into a rock.
  • Warframe:
    • Many of the Corpus hate Nef Anyo with a passion. Not because of his horrifyingly exploitative worker policies, violence against civilians and Tenno, or his blatantly rigged gladiator games, but simply because he has a tendency to spend a lot of money chasing sunk costs. The Corpus only care about money.
    • The same can be said for Alad V, whose actions have attracted the wrath of Tenno more than usual. In fact, despite being stripped of his rank in the Corpus, getting contaminated with the Infestation on purpose in order to control them, actually getting cured of that, and finally being on the run from Sentients for conspiring against them, he's still the same old ruthless negotiator he's always been. He claims he couldn't feel any richer or safer than he was before, despite being in a much humbler standing now. Why? Because The Lotus owes him a favor, which is something that neither his old position as Director or its paycheck, let alone his stint as an mouthpiece for the Infestation, could even come close to let him afford. "A rare commodity" indeed. It saves his life when the Shadow Stalker and his Acolytes come after him, forcing the Tenno to save his ass all while he continues to belittle them.
  • In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Gaunter O'Dimm will gladly help Geralt several times, even warning him to not try to discover what O'Dimm really is, for his own sanity. This isn't because he's a nice guy, since he's the Witcher equivalent of the Devil himself; rather, it's because he needs Geralt sane and effective so he can help O'Dimm collect on his contract with Olgierd. At the end, if Geralt sides with O'Dimm and lets him win, he'll tell Geralt information to help him save Ciri in the main game's ending... but that is so that Ciri will survive to defeat the White Frost, which threatens to destroy O'Dimm's favorite playground.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • A Cataclysm quest has one Dreadlord criticizing another for using blood ink in love letters to a Succubus simply because Night Elf virgins aren't easy to come by and he's wasting a valuable resource.
    • In Northrend, players are sent to infiltrate a group of pirates to take out their captain. When the first mate figures out what the player is up to, she pays them to do it herself as her captain attacking both the Alliance and Horde will only see them all dead.
    • The Twilight Prophet (Archbishop Benedictus) didn't wield Xal'atath despite it's immense power because he knew it'd consume him should he fail or simply abandon him when he needed it most.
  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon: When Ichiban and his consorts confront Ryuhei Yoshino, patriarch of the Seiryu clan, about his subordinate running a scam that involves euthanising the elderly and skimming money from their pensions and families under the guise of running a nursing home, Ryuhei immediately punishes the subordinate involved. However, he does this not because of any moral objections, but because the subordinate has proven himself both treasonous (in keeping business from the boss) and incompetent (in letting Ichiban get into the Seiryu clan's inner sanctum). He also outright states that he does not consider this a favor, and blames Ichiban for costing him a subordinate.
  • Yandere Simulator has plenty of Video Game Caring Potential for Villain Protagonist Ayano to engage in her quest for Senpai's heart; rather than, say, Murder the Hypotenuse, she can pair her rivals off with other love interests or befriend them and convince them to stop pursuing Senpai. Taking this route doesn't make Ayano any less of a sociopathic Yandere; it's simply less messy and risky than murder.


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