Good Powers, Bad People
"The healing is not as rewarding as the hurting."—The Medic, Team Fortress 2
You should never trust anyone with "Bad Powers"; more often than not they're villains, and at best will be dark but not evil. Instead, you should completely trust that lovely person dressed all in white with the happy Light based powers, like granting life to the fallen and raining down beams of judgement from the heavens... which she's using to level that hospital of terminally-ill orphans and raise an army of undead from the rubble. Wait.
Believe it or not, good powers do not necessarily make you a good person. Whether it's the Empathic Healer, Barrier Warrior, someone with powers fueled by love, light, or other traditionally positive Elemental Powers, it's ultimately personality and choice that determine whether the character is good or evil. And boy, have they ever chosen to be evil.
Maybe they ask for money in exchange for healing, or outright extort villagers for payment in order to "solve their problem". Beyond this merely mercenary outlook, a Bad Person with Good Powers might use their powers for outright evil or to aid evildoers, or find a way of twisting their previously squeaky clean power (say, Psychic Surgery) into a squicky mean torture. Lastly, any Knight Templar with "Holy" powers might be so dogmatic in their belief that they twist their holy mandate into things like ethnic cleansing of "Exclusively Evil" races.
The opposite of Bad Powers, Good People.
- Rezo of Slayers studied up on healing magic and got himself a wonderful reputation in the search for a cure for his blindness before Jumping Off the Slippery Slope.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Father can heal people and repair things, but he views people as being so lower than him that he doesn't care about mankind and is in fact willing to murder millions of people to achieve his goal. Bonus points for white clothes and appearing surrounded in light in the second anime.
- There's also the Gold-Toothed Alchemist who knows medical alchemy, but is a Mad Doctor who loyally serves Father because it gives him a chance to do terrible things For Science!.
- In the first anime, Dante is an expert on medicinal herbs and constructive alchemy and taught Izumi. Who hijacks bodies and would likely have taken Izumi's had she not left first.
- The Doctor of Black Cat. He can heal people of injuries, even going so far as to reattach severed limbs. What does he do with this power? Serves as Creed Diskenth's primary healer and resident Evil Genius, going so far as to actually outdo his master in the scope of his depravity.
- Fran madaraki from Franken Fran is an Obliviously Evil version of this. She has implausible skills as a surgeon and considers saving lives her first priority. Unfortunately for her patients, she has no idea on what acceptable quality of life means. Her sister Veronica calls her out on this in chapter 14.
- Lance of the Elite Four in Pokémon Special. He has the power to understand the hearts of Pokemon, to heal them by laying his hands on them, and he's plotting the complete genocide of all humans on Earth.
- Yakushi Kabuto in Naruto is a medic; he is also the Dragon Ascendant to the first major big bad, "biologist" Orochimaru, and one of his specialties is using "healing" powers to kill. Both of them use a skill that at it's peak could be (and is, when Kabuto uses it) a Zombie Apocalypse. The Rinnegan is able to (among MANY other things) resurrect people without any real drawbacks, but the wielder of the Rinnegan is the Big Bad of an arc and loses it to The Man Behind the Man for the series.
- Spunky Knight has Delfas, who theorhetically could be the ultimate doctor due to his Healing Hands and mad scientist-level of technology in an RPG-like world, however, he uses such abilities to craft the ultimate sex slaves right down to being able to speed up a pregnant woman's gestation period with the intention of her giving birth on the auction block. To date, only Phaia was the only one to survive the process.
- Played with and originally played straight in Inuyasha. Sesshomaru gets Tenseiga, a sword that can heal instead of kill like Tessaiga does, to his dismay, playing this trope straight at first, but after getting his sword he gradually undergoes a Heel Face Turn.
Comic Books[edit | hide]
- Beyond the ubiquitous telepathy, individuals with a magical talent are rare in Elf Quest, but the most well-known sort among all tribes are healers. The series' Big Bad, Winnowill, is the most powerful healer alive; while most with this talent only know one way to apply it (lay on hands, subject feels better), Winnowill takes great pleasure in using her powers to twist and deform organisms, subjecting them to unimaginable tortures.
- Hitman has a single-arc villain called Scarlet Rose, who has the power to make roses grow. She mostly uses it to horribly kill people by making roses grow inside their bodies.
- In Hellboy, a young man named Humbert T. Jones became known as the Miracle Boy who could heal anything with just a touch. As you would imagine, he became a worshipper of a Eldritch Abomination and caused the Frog men to come into being.
- The "Stitcher" in Push. An icy aristocratic Englishwoman with the power to heal. She seemed to enjoy the pain the healing process caused, and when paid to, had no problem undoing the healing on Nick (they can reverse their repair by touch) and trying to kill him.
- In Star Wars, Darth Plagueis was supposedly able to "keep those he loved from dying". The fact that he still had people he loved after becoming a Sith Lord was unusual in and of itself.
- This may be a bit of a subversion. To the viewers, this is a good power. To the Jedi, not so much. The Jedi belief in celebrating death, avoiding love, and not getting too attached to any person. Being able to bring loved ones back from death is something that goes against everything the Jedi aspire to.
Literature[edit | hide]
- In Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, Semirhage (one of the female Forsaken) was a master healer, but got off on torturing people with it. Another evil healer in the series has a signature habit of using her talents to stop hearts and boil blood. Likewise, Graendal (another female Forsaken) is so good at Mind Control because she was a psychotherapist (though unlike Semi, she used to be a nice, if annoyingly ascetic, person).
- Perverted talent is rather a big thing among the Forsaken. Mesaana started out as an excellent teacher until she went bad (after being refused some kind of prestigious research appointment), at which point she used her talents to instruct children in acts that make the most fanatic of the Hitler Youth look like amateurs. Ishamael had an unrivalled knowledge of philosophy as it applied to the battle between Light and Dark, and used it extensively after joining the latter. While the ability to access the World of Dreams is used extensively by the Aiel Wise Ones for positive ends, the Forsaken Lanfear and Moghedien prefer to stalk people, give them nightmares, and possibly enslave people's minds... and Ishamael may or may not have used it to destroy some poor sap's soul.
- In Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle, the main character's mother is described as having once killed a dozen highly trained soldiers; her only weapon was knowledge of a healing spell. How did she do this? Well, she "healed" the assailants of everything that drove them to kill... and then slit their throats with their own daggers.
- In China Mieville's Perdido Street Station and other novels in that universe, there are professional magic users, thaumaturges, some of whom have impressive healing powers as well as the ability to perform transplants/surgery without risk of harming a patient. Unfortunately, this is a Crapsack World, and many thaumaturges with such powers are vile sadists. Instead of using their powers to heal, they play a role in the legal system, Remaking criminals as punishment for their crimes (i.e. painfully turning them into horribly disfigured biological or technological mash-ups).
- Used in Bones of Faerie. Liza must learn that the magic of the faerie is not evil in its nature, but how it is used.
- Done in great depth in the Dresden Files. However, its inverse is subverted: using powers for evil means you believe that's justified and it makes you believe even more that it's justified. That feedback reaction is why Warlocks are almost invariably killed, because having started down the wrong path, its incredibly hard to come back. There are only two known examples; an enigmatic Necromancer who used her powers to save people, and the Blackstaff, the White Council's super secret break-the-laws-of-magic enforcer.
- But as Harry keeps agonizing over, even mostly-good people can use good powers for evil, and start down that slippery slope.
- Additive and Subtractive magic aren't inherently good or evil in the Sword of Truth, but because nobody was being born with Subtractive magic, the only people who have it were ones who had made deals with the Keeper, and they are evil.
- Linderman from Heroes is a prime example of the "make money" variant, using said money to manipulate and control events in season 1. Oh, and if that's not evil enough, he's masterminding blowing up New York. His power: healing. (And cooking really well.)
- Gideon from Charmed is a healer and a well respected Elder. Unfortunately, he turned evil and tried to kill Wyatt and managed to kill Chris.
- In an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deanna Troi meets a man who is a quarter Betazoid, which makes him empathic like her (Troi is half Betazoid), and he uses that to win in political and economic negotiations. Troi calls him out on it, but he fires back that he's just using his natural abilities, that in his case all he's dealing with are property transactions, and that it is Troi who has an ethical problem because she uses her abilities to help her ship defeat enemy vessels and kill people.
- Lost Girl features a Dark Fae who's a Landwight. They are nature spirits who take over a plot of land, and anyone who eats the food that grows there will gain incredible good luck. Being a Dark Fae, though, means that this Landwight has no compunctions about using humans as plant food.
- This is one of many potential elements of Exalted. There's absolutely nothing preventing a person from becoming exactly this, and in fact, there are mechanics that make it a likely conclusion for most, as exalts fall prey to power and hubris.
- Or starting that way. Even Solar Exaltation has as its only requirements that the human in question be (usually) physically fit to wield power, inclined to use the full power granted by Exaltation, and not want the complete destruction of Creation. You don't have to be at all good - just usable.
- One of the possible weapon enchantments in Dungeons and Dragons is "merciful", which causes a weapon to deal a little more damage, but all of it nonlethal. Some sourcebooks recommend merciful weapons as torture devices, since they still hurt but don't leave scars or cause lasting harm. And the enchantment requires the Cure Light Wounds spell.
- And if the party hasn't got a cleric, expect healers to charge for their help or ask favors. Death Is Cheap, but Raise Dead is an expensive spell. Sometimes good clerics will do this "at cost."
- Belial, the father of the lady of the fourth hell (Fierna), was originally known as Belial the Merciful and appeared to use his healing powers for good. What he was actually doing, and still does do, is torturing and raping people then healing them and repeating the process until he had cracked their minds and made them his willing slaves.
- One of Ravenloft's Darklords, Sodo, had this as a side effect of his Dark Powers' Provided Curse: take a guy (or doppelganger, in this case) who loves murdering via strangulation with his own hands, then make his touch not only healing, but also one of the few minimum-risk means to resurrect someone. (The victims usually come to thinking they woke up from a nightmare)
- In Magic: The Gathering a major Big Bad, Yawgmoth of Phyrexia, was once one of the greatest healers in existence.
- In the prequel tie-in book that his origin is covered in, we find that he was actually a great surgeon, not someone using healing magic, and the distinction is made clear from very early on. That being said, surgery is still (usually) considered a healing art.
- He was also a con-man, prone to introducing plagues specifically so he could heal them, and prone to fishing for sympathy based on the fact that surgeons were persecuted as scapegoats for a recent war. If he was a typical surgeon, they probably were responsible for starting the war.
- In Warhammer Fantasy Battle has Aekold Helbrass his special ability is the breath of life, and has the ability to heal himself and others around him. The catch is he's a champion of Tzeentch, who kills people with devotion and glee.
- Genius: The Transgression has Thulian Revanchists, who have access to the improving and healing Axiom of Exelixi. No Cure for Evil Does not apply.
Web Comics[edit | hide]
- Black mage of 8-Bit Theater has his hadoken spell, used much like a small nuclear warhead, powered by ...love! Arguably it drains love out of him and the nearby area while casting it purifying his evilness in the process - making it a spell only cast by black mages.
- Redcloak semi-lampshades this at the bottom of this Order of the Stick strip. "Healing? No, they're going so they can zombify our dead. We're the bad guys, remember?" The moment where the 'good' powers of a cleric are used, however, are seen later when the clerics turn out to be entirely competent healers.
- Like all clerics, Redcloak has the ability to heal people (though evil clerics can do so less readily than good ones). In one strip he mentions that he will have to heal his captive O-Chul...so that he can survive his daily session of torture.
- Miko Miyazaki, a Paladin from the same series, is overzealous, prejudiced, and dangerously violent when given even a suspicion of wrongdoing.
- Rich Burlew describes a group of people in Start of Darkness as "good people who do bad things". He is likely referring to the Paladins' attempted genocide of the goblin people, as well as Redcloak (who ends up becoming much more malevolent by the end of the comic) and his band of goblins.
- Kore from Goblins is a paladin, which is supposed to be a paragon of Lawful Good behaviour. And yet he routinely exterminates anyone from a "monstrous" race he comes across whether or not they are harming anyone or even if they themselves are innocent. He even puts down people who have associated with monstrous races to prevent them from developing sympathies with them. Word of God has stated repeatedly that Kore is a paladin, and there's a reason he still has his powers.
- He uses Lay On Hands to heal Chief - in order to torture him, so Chief's screams draw the other goblins out of hiding. That said, his magical aura is a little... unusual.
- Penny Arcade shows how it's done.
- True Magic has the Priests of Lucideus, the Light Bringer. They stole the his power and began a reign of terror over the land. And set people on fire.
- The Bitka Spirit Father from Dominic Deegan - the most powerful wielder of the Akta, a force for life and healing, among the orcs of Maltak. He's also a xenophobic, fanatical Complete Monster.
Web Original[edit | hide]
- Cheesecake, a member of the Vandolls from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, uses the Power of Love to burn out the brains of men, and then follows this trick up by feeding on their souls.
- Cytherea, at Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe. As the avatar (or reincarnation or something) of Aphrodite, she has the powers of the goddess of love. Which she uses to manipulate men, get herself out of trouble when she gets caught doing bad things, avoid work, cheat in her classes, etc.
- Adventure Time : One episode sees baby piglets (in cute costumes, no less) using magic wands that fire glitter and rainbows. They happen to be very, very, evil.
- While Airbenders from the Avatar series were always shown to be peace-loving, pacifistic monks which their fighting style emphasized, it wasn't until The Legend of Korra where we finally saw what potential air powers had under a ruthless villain. Anarchistic terrorist Zaheer uses a more brutal style of Airbending against his opponents, using it to damage and hurt others while airbending was primarily used for evading, incapacitation, and crowd control. One noteworthy demonstration is Zaheer killing the Earth Queen via asphyxiation, by removing all air from her body.
Video Games[edit | hide]
- Killer7 plays with this trope, as the two main supernatural antagonists are both basically "Gods". However, Kun Lan, armed with the "good" power of life, uses it to create heaven smiles, hideous monsters used as living bombs, while Harman Smith, armed with the "evil" power of death, uses this to empower his assassins to destroy manifestations of evil in the world (said heaven smiles.)
- The ending implies that the two sometimes switch which of them is "good" and "evil", which leads to the other tropes.
- Tech User, Techmaster and Dark Witch enemies from Phantasy Star IV are known to heal their allies in battle.
- In Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword one of the bosses you face is a light magic user by the name of Kenneth an ex-bishop who denies the existance of all gods.
- The "evil bishop" character archetype has been in use for a while. In Path of Radiance, Oliver uses light magic exclusively and is probably one of the most repulsive villains in the game.
- Villainous priests and bishops in the Fire Emblem games tend to be "skewed" iterations of the classic healer, switching out normal light magic for variations that steal HP, or poison. They also use Berserk or Sleep staves rather than healing ones.
- It's worth noting that Oliver undergoes a..bit of a Heel Face Turn in Radiant Dawn, wherein he joins Ike and instead defends the Herons. Essentially, he's a Joke Character, really, and this doesn't exactly excuse him from the stuff he did. Meanwhile, the other Begnion senators fit this trope a lot better, especially Lekain. The only exception is Hetzel, who thinks the Begnion senators passed the Moral Event Horizon but was too afraid to step up and fight against them.
- The "evil bishop" character archetype has been in use for a while. In Path of Radiance, Oliver uses light magic exclusively and is probably one of the most repulsive villains in the game.
- In Fire Emblem the Sacred Stones, Riev is clearly this trope. Despite that he obviously looks evil, has been excommunicated from his country for practicing demon worship, is The Dragon to the Big Bad, yet when you fight him both times (one of which is actually optional), he uses Aura, a high level white magic tome.
- Marisa Kirisame, one of the two main characters in Touhou, is a Kleptomaniac who fires Kamehamehadokens powered by love.
- It's hinted that her counterpart, Reimu Hakurei, isn't much better, as she threatens to use her holy powers as a shrine maiden to burglarize both the village of Mayohiga and Satori Komeiji's house in Perfect Cherry Blossom and Subterranean Animism, respectively.
- Those two are reasonably decent people. A better example would be Yuuka, the flower youkai, who is, depending on the game, anywhere from extraordinarily creepy to an outright Omnicidal Maniac.
- Yuuka's also something of a subversion of the Superpower Lottery. In a world with people with elemental control, mind reading, ability to kill humans instantly...Yuuka Kazami, with the power to manipulate flowers, is often mentioned as the most powerful being around.
- Sanae's SHe Who Fights Monsters tendencies are a distinct contrast with her power to cause miracles.
- Bah, miracles are just probability manipulation. They aren't automatically good OR bad: a miracle for you might not be so good for your enemy.
- The Scarlet Crusade/Onslaught in Warcraft 'verse are also fond of healing their torture victims to prepare them for the next session.
- Sir Zeliek of the four horsemen of Naxxramas is also an example - sort of. It's really more good powers, good-person-controlled-by-bad-person. So by extension, it's Zeliek's good powers being used by a bad person (the Lich King).
- Arguably, any healer in an evil organization (unless they use shadow based heals such as Dark Mending, like most undead healers tend to do) is one of these. While there tend not to be a lot of true evil paladins around (though some pseudo-paladin knockoffs do exist) except in the aforementioned Scarlet Crusade, evil priests, shamans, and druids with holy or natural based healing power are present for most evil races and factions.
- Note that the Warcraft universe uses both the Lowest Cosmic Denominator and All Myths Are True systems, so it's especially true that Light Is Not Good. The Church of the Holy Light is almost Buddhist in its lack of belief in a personal god; the holy powers of priests and paladins is channeled via meditation and inner peace rather than the involvement of God. Anyone can use the Light's power, even really horrible people like Knight Templars who are long past the slippery slope of morality, as long as they have the necessary training and sincere belief.
- Dungeon Keeper let you cast Heal on your torture victims. Nothing breaks a do-gooder's spirit better than the knowledge he can't just bear the torture until he dies from it.
- You can also bless them with resistance to damage and increased speed... both of which are likewise not blessings in that situation.
- Exdeath is the Barrier Warrior of Dissidia Final Fantasy. He's also the villain of the game he originates from, using his barriers here to block almost any attack and subsequently counter with his own attacks, which would otherwise be exceedingly slow to execute. He's quite firmly Neutral Evil, what with his desire to send everything to THE VOID.
- Breath of Fire Dragon Quarter plays with this. The final Scripted Battle is against Chetyre, the dragon trying to keep people from leaving their underground society. If enough turns go by, he uses Kaiser Breath against you, a power that was the hero's signature attack in the second, third, and fourth games.
- The Medic from Team Fortress 2 can heal his teammates, make them invincible and cure them of most ailments. He does this out of sheer bloodlust and his desire to kill everyone.
- Genlock Emissaries from Dragon Age have three Creation-school healing spells in addition to their stock of Black Magic.
- In Guild Wars, we have General Bayel. He is very Obviously Evil, of course, especially given his backstory, but when you see him in cutscenes, you'll notice he's got caster weapons. When you fight him, he actually is a monk. A smite monk, but a monk nonetheless.
- There are also a lot of enemy monks as well, such as margonites, demons, Mursaat, and White Mantle.
- The Four Seraphim, and the angels in general, in Tales of Symphonia.
Visual Novel[edit | hide]
- Umineko no Naku Koro ni has an example of this: Bernkastel, aka the Witch of Miracles, who can make anything happen as long as the possibility of the event occuring is greater than 0. She starts out seeming to be good, or at least neutral. Then she reveals her True Colors, and reminds the audience that she never said that her miracles had to be good or bad. Guess which ones she favors?
- Kirei Kotomine in Fate/stay night is the Big Bad of two routes and mostly responsible for the third. He's in it For the Evulz, throws swords around, kicks puppies, tries to use the Token Mini-Moe to destroy the world and is a member of both the Church and the Magi's association, which is apparently a supreme heresy for both organizations or something. Oh, and the only magic he has any talent for whatsoever is healing wounds. He's very good at healing people. In fact, he saves Sakura's life in Heavens Feel because he knows she's essentially 'pregnant' with the devil and that if he saves her, Shirou will probably protect her and then she will unleash Angra Mainyu on the world and destroy it.
- Of course, she's still better than the other guy who uses love-powered attacks...