Obliviously Evil

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth.

Some villains are convinced that their actions are acceptable or even helpful. These villains aren't justifying their wrongdoings. They aren't compelled by unnatural forces. They just don't comprehend that they're doing anything wrong. This can be achieved in several ways:

A horror trope (and occasionally a comedy trope in a Black Comedy), this can really freak people out if played right. It places the heroes into a situation where they can't even try to reason with the villain. It can also be used to underscore that the villain is indeed a tragic figure, as he or she (or it) may never have actually intended to harm anyone. Alternately, this can be used to make a creature sympathetic. You give it a valid reason for doing the things it does, and once it has that reason, it won't see what it's doing as wrong.

There are two basic requirements for a character to be this trope:

  1. They are dangerous. The character is quite capable of causing tyranny, tragedy, chaos, wanton destruction, etc., and has done so on numerous occasions. Contrast the Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain and the Minion with an F In Evil, who represent relatively minor threats to the protagonists.
  2. They have no idea that they're doing anything objectionable. In their eyes, their actions are either good or simply harmless. Even if they recognize that something is wrong, they won't realize that they are the problem. For example, a Sex Is Evil and I Am Horny character might sexually assault women and feel as if he's their victim. Contrast the Knight Templar, Well-Intentioned Extremist, and Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, who realize that others may object to their unusual methods, and the Minion with an F In Evil and Punch Clock Villain, who try to avoid Kick the Dog moments.

Some Kaiju are like this. They just wanted to build a nest and get some lunch, but they stumbled across countless strange structures and were suddenly under attack by tiny bipedal creatures. Such a character may qualify as a case of Non-Malicious Monster or Humans Are Cthulhu. May eventually come to a Heel Realization / My God, What Have I Done? moment.

Not to be confused with Obviously Evil. Compare Innocent Bigot for a much milder related trope. Also see Sliding Scale of Unavoidable Versus Unforgivable and Psychopathic Manchild.

Examples of Obliviously Evil include:

Anime and Manga

  • The Claw from Gun X Sword is a really unsettling example. Despite the fact he has a history of killing people, he comes across as a really nice old guy, and even after you actually watch him kill someone onscreen, it's still hard to see the man as a villain. Even his ultimate plan is arguably noble in intent, but it isn't until his Villainous Breakdown towards the very end do you even get the feeling he might actually be a Complete Monster, and even then, it's so brief that it's still hard to believe.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya, though evil might be a bit of a stretch.. All she wants to do is make the world a less boring place. Unfortunately, for the rest of us, she doesn't seem to comprehend that not everyone shares her sense of fun, and perhaps more importantly, doesn't realize that her mere subconscious thoughts have a serious impact on the world around her.
  • The Digimon Emperor from Digimon Adventure 02 was a Jerkass, but he genuinely thought the Digiworld was just a game, so there was nothing wrong with playing the bad guy. When he realized his mistake, he pulled a Heel Face Turn and became a powerful ally for the heroes.
    • Likewise, in Digimon Xros Wars, Yuu Amano was manipulated into thinking the digital world was just a game world where he could play to his full potential without actually hurting anyone. Finding out the truth hit the poor kid hard, but thankfully, the rest of the kids rescued him and were willing to forgive his mistake.
  • Hansel and Gretel from Black Lagoon may qualify. Children emotionally/physically/sexually abused into insanity, they see no problem with being cruel and sadistic murderers because, in their minds, that's how the world works.
  • Franken Fran...A mixed example because she does often do genuine good, but most people would probably consider a lot of what she does to be evil, even though she does it with good intentions.
    • Basically, Fran's biggest priority is preserving life at all costs. Unfortunately, she also doesn't understand the concept of a Fate Worse Than Death.
  • Reiji, the antagonist of Kodomo no Jikan, really doesn't understand how much harm he's caused. He's clueless as to how messed up Rin is, and honestly doesn't see anything wrong with their Squick-tastic relationship.
  • Death Note's Misa Amane. Unlike her boyfriend Light, she doesn't even try to rationalize her actions; it simply never occurred to her that murdering tens of thousands of people is wrong.
    • Or her love lust for Light distracted her. Mind you, she was killing people just to meet Kira before she even knew it was him. Her childishness, which is even greater than Light's, makes it hard to tell what really makes her tick.
  • Gluttony in Fullmetal Alchemist just doesn't seem to understand that there's anything mean about eating people.
    • Or entire sub-dimensions...
  • Russia in Axis Powers Hetalia doesn't seem to realise there's anything wrong with the way he treats the other Soviet nations; on one occasion, he asks Latvia why he's so small, receives the response that it's because he keeps pushing him down, and then tries to help by stretching him. He was driven to madness by Bloody Sunday.
  • Some evidence suggests that Puella Magi Madoka Magica's Kyubey is like this as a result of being a Starfish Alien with Blue and Orange Morality. It doesn't stop him from being a Manipulative Bastard, though.
    • He explicitly states that, for his species, emotions are a rarity akin to a mental illness; as a result, situations that would be considered a debilitating moral dilemma by human standards (such as subjecting a handful of girls to a horrible fate in order to protect the rest of the universe) are a simple matter of logic to him and his species.
  • One interpretation of Mao from Code Geass is that he honestly believes that the people he goes after deserve the punishment he hands to them.
  • In Dragonball Z, Majin Buu's first form, Fat Buu, doesn't really know that killing millions of people is wrong. He even turns an old man into milk as a gift for a small child because the child complimented him. Mr. Satan actually turns him into a good guy temporarily just by explaining to him that it's bad to kill people. Then, just as it looks like the Fake Ultimate Hero has actually saved the world, someone shoots Mr Satan and their pet dog. Buu doesn't take it well. Super Buu, in contrast, is capable of understanding morality perfectly.
  • The ELS from Gundam 00 a Wakening of The Trailblazer. Humanity defends itself from them because these flying hunks of living metal keep trying to absorb and transform humans. It later turns out that the ELS were not being malicious: they were simply trying to communicate with and understand humanity, and the most efficient way they knew to do so was to combine physical forms and share consciousness. Once the ELS realize why they're being perceived as hostile, they stop immediately, and begin finding alternate methods of communication.
  • The former page quote from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is in reference to Enrico Pucci, a priest who believes himself to be doing the will of God. Said will involves killing everyone, destroying the world, and then remaking it without the protagonists ever being born, in addition to making all people know exactly how their lives will unfold and how they will die. Supposedly, this would make a perfect world where humans would no longer use free will to hurt each other.
  • Jellal from Fairy Tail, in the arc where he appears. He seems to genuinely believe that he's doing the right thing, but what he's trying to do is bring the story's Voldemort back from the dead. That he kills one of his former friends, enslaves hundreds (albeit without them realizing this) and psychologically tortures his love interest before trying to use her as a sacrifice don't clue him in to the fact that he's on the wrong side. It does help that he was Brainwashed and Crazy at the time, but later chapters have painted this less as total control and more as giving him the motive and letting him handle the rest.
  • Ulquiorra Cifer (one of Sosuke Aizen's Espada) doesn't understand human emotion (nor does he show emotion). Sosuke Aizen in contrast, comprehends human morality but chose to abandon his morals long ago.

Comic Books

  • Lenore from Lenore the Cute Little Dead Girl accidentally kills people and animals on a regular basis, but seems a bit too clueless to grasp what she's actually doing.
    • She realizes once what she had done throughout the comic, and is thoroughly shocked, while playing with a cute living girl. She ends up accidentally killing her by being too overwhelmed to pay attention to what she was doing.
  • Humpty-Dumpty from Batman: Arkham Asylum: obsessed with fixing objects he perceived as broken, he "took apart" his abusive grandmother to see what made her so mean, not realizing that she couldn't be put back together again. Not for lack of trying, of course - he stitched her back together with bootlaces.
    • From the same city: Harley Quinn will gleefully do anything that her "puddin'", the Joker, asks of her, regardless of who gets hurt. It's an unhealthy relationship, to say the least, and (this is the worst part) they wouldn't have it any other way.
      • It varies with Harley; sometimes, she's oblivious to what she's doing, sometimes, she knows exactly what she's doing and doesn't care. The Harley Quinn comic mixes both.
  • Jei, in Usagi Yojimbo. He views his actions as cleansing the world of sin, and even adopts an orphaned girl! That said, just as many of his victims seem to be innocent (or at least not actively evil) as not. Added to that, he obsessively hunts down Miyamoto Usagi, a virtuous and noble individual. Subsequent hosts of the darkness inhabiting him seem to have even more broken, warped views of the world's morality.
  • Bizarro in the DC Universe often has this problem, depending on which version you're dealing with. Often, he'll try to do good but have no concept of how destructive his own strength is and cause more collateral damage than help, or he'll actively blow things up because his "save/destroy" wires are crossed.
  • Bloodshot in the new Valiant Comics version began as a brainwashed puppet who was given false memories and made to believe that his black ops missions were justified.

Fan Works

  • A common trend in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Dark Fic.
    • Cupcakes: Pinkie Pie just wants to throw Dash a party! Specifically, a demented-serial-killer-murders-you party! Isn't it fun being maimed, killed, and eaten?
    • Fluttershy in Pattycakes doesn't seem to realise that psychologically and chemically mind-raping Dash until her spirit breaks and she becomes convinced that she's Fluttershy's baby is in any way unethical. Sure, she was breaking her own rules involving her mental regression serum - specifically, the one about only using it consensually - but she wanted to be a mother so badly and, well, regressed!Dash is so happy to be a foal again, how could that be wrong? And making Scootaloo run a course of insane "tests", well, Scootaloo will either come out of it happy and well-adjusted as Dash's new adopted big sister,[1] or she'll come out of it happy with her mind almost totally destroyed as her little sister! Win-win!
    • In Researcher Twilight, it eventually becomes perfectly clear that Fireshade is this.
  • No Regrets portrays the Axis Powers Hetalia nation cast as Humanoid Abominations who use their human populations as pawns in wars for the fun of it. Perhaps the best illustration is when Spain takes chibi-Romano on a tour of the dungeons of the Spanish Inquisition, and they casually kill a prisoner just because they want lunch - they don't even particularly like human flesh, it was just the nearest thing they had on hand. Throughout it all, they retain their canonical adorableness.


King Haggard: ...They are MINE! They belong to ME! The Red Bull gathered them one-by-one and I bade him drive each one into the sea! ...I like to watch them. They fill me with joy. The first time I felt it, I thought I was going to die. I said to the Red Bull, 'I must have them! I must have all of them, all there are! For nothing makes me happy but their shining, and their grace.' So, the Red Bull caught them. Each time I see the unicorns -- MY unicorns -- it is like that morning in the woods, and I feel young, in spite of myself!

  • The humans in Finding Nemo. Making things worse, all the things they do are stuff that humans in Real Life do normally.
    • Darla in particular- she doesn't understand that shaking the bag kills fish and she seems genuinely happy to get a new pet.
  • While Sid of Toy Story is a mean little brat, he does not understand that the toys he loves to mutilate and destroy are alive. As far as he can tell, he's just playing games. Or, to take it further, blowing off steam on "inanimate" effigies instead of actual living things.
    • Except for when he stole his little sister's doll, ripped its head off, and screwed on the head of a monster toy pterodactyl on it just to laugh as he watches her cry.
      • Yeah but who hasn't done that?
  • In The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington really didn't mean to cause chaos in the Real World by Subbing for Santa. It just that Jack's idea of fun and humans' idea of fun are somewhat different from one another.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Judge Claude Frollo. He is The Fundamentalist who kills Gypsies and advocates genocide on them, tries to drown deformed babies, as well as lusting after a Gypsy girl named Esmerelda, and declaring that he will burn down all of Paris to find her. He burned down half of Paris, for the record. Through it all, he thought of himself as a Knight Templar who was never wrong, and convinced himself that it's Never My Fault about anything. There were a couple points when he might have realized that what he was doing was wrong, but each point became an Ignored Epiphany in the end. That's insane for you.
  • Nurse Ratched, the dictatorial head nurse from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, is likely genuinely trying to help her patients and improve society. Or it has to do with her being corrupted by power and/or simply being a sadist. Possibly also an example of an Unreliable Narrator, which was much more clear in the book.
  • Many of the apes in Planet of the Apes didn't realize that the astronauts were sentient.
  • In the 2007 Film adaptation of Beowulf, Grendel has no problem killing humans because the sound of their parties causes him intense pain.
  • The title character of The Bad Seed puts the "Enfante" in Enfante Terrible, acting like a normal girl whenever she's not killing people. She's not sadistic in the least, and one character compares her Lack of Empathy to a blind girl not understanding the concept of sight. Some of her conversations with her mother indicate that she can't even predict how someone with empathy would respond to murder. This most emphatically does not make her any less creepy.
  • The various genocidal members of the Hutu tribe in Shooting Dogs seem to think they're doing the right thing, or are, at worst, a Necessary Evil.
  • Cloverfield, at least according to Word of God.
  • Zangief in the Street Fighter movie. He truly thinks that Bison is fighting against the oppressors, and is not the actual villain.
  • HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. While not directly explained in Kubrick's movie, the novel and sequel elaborate that he was programmed to be both completely truthful and keep the crew from the motivations behind the flight to Jupiter - and when the crew becomes inquisitive, he has to find a way to fulfill both. 2010 shows that HAL is not inherently ill-willed - he agrees to let himself be destroyed with the Discovery to save the Leonov's crew.
  • V'Ger in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and the alien probe in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home almost extinguish all life on Earth, both completely unaware that they are about to kill sentient beings. V'Ger actually does kill a lot of people, including some Klingons, the crew of Epsilon Nine, and Ilia, before realizing that they're lifeforms.
  • Fairy Godmother Lucinda from Ella Enchanted, through her unwanted "gifts."
  • The eponymous monsters in The Thing and The Blob (original versions and remakes). There's no proof either monster is malicious or intelligent ("mindless" might describe them) and it's likely both are just predators with no motive other than a drive to feed themselves.


  • Perhaps the most famous example, Lenny from Of Mice and Men kills mice and, later, someone's wife, by smothering them with affection; he doesn't really know what he's doing, because he doesn't realize how strong he is, and, though he was making progress over the course of the book, it still causes tragedy at the end of the story.
  • In The Divine Comedy, it is this quality which separates those who can be redeemed (and therefore go on to Purgatory) and those who are damned (and thus consigned to Hell). As one angel notes, even a single tear of remorse is enough to allow someone to redeem themselves, no matter how twisted they are...but there are a lot of souls in Hell anyway.
  • The Aesop from the second book of Sword of Truth is "sometimes the greatest harm can result from the best intentions", which seems to fit. Also, Emperor Jagang seems to believe that he's on the side of good despite being an obvious Complete Monster.
  • The Buggers in Ender's Game. They had no idea that a non-Hive Mind creature could be intelligent.
    • Well, Ender, too. After all, He didn't know all those simulations were real.
      • Especially since he only blew up the Bugger homeworld because he believed that the higher-ups would never put him in charge of actual ships if they thought he would actually go to such extremes.
  • The assassin Jonathan Teatime from the Discworld novel Hogfather does not seem to entirely understand that his actions (and he himself) are evil. As Susan Sto-Helit says when confronting him, "You were the little boy who didn't know the difference between throwing a stone at a cat and setting a cat on fire." Teatime is only an apprentice assassin. Not because he can't perform well, but because he is known within the Assasssin's Guild for lack of elegance on his assignments, which, in his case, means not only killing the target but nailing the target's head to the wall and killing his family, servants, and household pets on the way out for fun.
  • The hadals from Jeff Long's The Descent may be like this, though not much insight is offered into their mental life. They are portrayed, to some extent, as almost sympathetically dumb and not terribly malicious, and yet they are fond of inflicting gruesome, senseless violence for no reason. It seems to be a product of their living environment, the deep, world-encompassing caves that cause peculiar Lamarcian mutations to their inhabitants; humans who colonize these areas quickly either die or assume aspects of the Hadal way of life, including casual cannibalism and sadism towards outsiders. The Hadals have been known to initiate surface humans to their society as a gesture of goodwill, or to replenish their numbers - this involves months of gruesome mutilation and rape.
  • The Gentleman with the Thistle-down Hair in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is very much like this, stealing away people into Faerie in the belief that they'd be happier there, scheming to kill the magicians under the belief of their wickedness while speaking happily of massacring children, and making the life of his good friend Stephen Black a torment. As Stephen kills him, he admits that the Gentleman only meant to help him. In this case the strife is largely attributable to Blue and Orange Morality.
  • The Howlers from Animorphs don't know that they are massacring peaceful species in horrendous ways: it's all just a game to them and they actually have a playful disposition.
    • Dolphins are depicted similarly (and, in fact, the Howler mindset is directly compared to theirs), which means that this trope applies to them as well (at least in the Animorphs universe). This is Truth in Television, probably, as dolphins have been observed killing porpoises for fun. And orcas were once filmed killing a blue whale and leaving it to die without eating any of it at all. One would assume that they don't know that what they are doing is somewhat evil.
  • The "Chid" in Barrington J. Bailey's short story "Sporting with the Chid" are completely incomprehensible to humans. They're also instinctive surgeons with amazing biological engineering abilities, and when a trio of small time crooks ask the Chid for help, the results are appropriately horrifying.
  • In the short story "It's a Good Life", but not the Twilight Zone episode it inspired, there is an omnipotent child that causes problems because of things he doesn't understand. Everyone acts like everything is perfect to try and keep him from trying to help.
  • Mark Twain has an extended analogy wherein he describes interviewers this way:

The interviewer scatters you all over creation, but he does not conceive that you can look upon that as a disadvantage. People who blame a cyclone, do it because they do not reflect that compact masses are not a cyclone's idea of symmetry. People who find fault with the interviewer, do it because they do not reflect that he is but a cyclone, after all, though disguised in the image of God, like the rest of us; that he is not conscious of harm even when he is dusting a continent with your remains, but only thinks he is making things pleasant for you; and that therefore the just way to judge him is by his intentions, not his works.

  • The Michael Flynn story The Promise Of God takes place in a setting where using magic erodes away a person's moral sense, so every magic user has to have a chaperone to constantly ride herd on them and stop them from, say, solving people's problems by simply killing them.
  • Brian de Bois-Guilbert of Ivanhoe just can't seem to wrap his head around the fact that "Marry me, and I'll save your life; refuse, and I'll let you die" is something villains, not heroes, do.
  • Humans in Watership Down; keeping pests out of your garden and plowing up the ground for a new subdivision become the acts of evil gods.
  • Barry, the vicar-turned-demigod in Mogworld, genuinely believes that God wants him to "purify" the world by destroying entire towns, brutally murdering and torturing people, and enslaving all of humanity. It doesn't help that God (well...A god) actually did tell him to do this and gave him the power to accomplish it.

Live-Action TV

  • Maryann Forrester of True Blood. She uses her supernatural powers to control people's minds and bring a Zombie Apocalypse upon Bon Temps, and she ritualistically rends her victims and eats their hearts; she doesn't see what the problem is, and she does it not to be evil, but because she sees it as doing an honor to her god.
  • Wraith Worshippers from Stargate Atlantis.
  • Danny, the alien collaborator from the TV series V, is pretty much this trope. But oh boy does it set him up for a Karmic Death.
  • Proof that it doesn't have to be creepy: this is sort of the modus operandi of The Addams Family, who are genuinely nice people—who just happen to not quite realize that no one else shares their quasi-immortality, or finds torture, explosions, and other such morbid pastimes amusing. Of course, no one ever bothers to even mention the fact that they are rather more fragile than the Addamses.
    • In the original comics, the Addamses seemed to have a vague idea that other people weren't like them, but didn't fully understand it—such as Morticia giving a babysitter/nanny the "friendly advice" that she should keep her back to the wall at all times while working.
  • One of the killers in Criminal Minds was hallucinating that he was in a war zone and that his victims were members of the opposing army. In actuality, he was running around construction sites and his victims were innocent bystanders. In fact, a number of killers fit this trope by virtue of being insane or mentally disabled. Another good example is one murderer who comitted all his crimes while in a state of psychosis, then couldn't remember them afterwards. He was absolutely horrified when he found out what he'd done.
  • This is one of the most chilling aspects of The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Cameron has a tendency to execute people or leave them to die when she has no further use for them, because her internal logic prioritizes her mission to protect John Connor above all else. In a few instances, she outright executes people whose only crime was to potentially endanger John's life; for example, she kills a trio of burglars who robbed the Connors' house because they had accessed their identification and financial information, but that information would allow someone else to track them down.
  • The Borg from the Star Trek series have killed and performed Body Horror on countless species throughout the multiverse. From their perspective, conquering then modifying entities to become part of their Hive Mind is a great act of kindness. Scary thing is, those who have experienced this agree being part of a greater whole is quite joyous. They only object to forcing people to join.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Picard suggests this might be true of the Crystal Entity, that it does not discern its actions as wrong any more than a whale can discern preying on a school of krill as wrong. Unfortunately, any chance of peaceful communication with it is ruined by the vengeful mother of one of its victims, and it is destroyed before he can confirm or debunk his theory.

Tabletop Games

  • In Warhammer 40,000, some followers/demons of Nurgle are very happy and just want to hug others and make them a part of the family of grandfather Nurgle. They don't get why being rotting zombies with gaping weeping sores (among other things) isn't desirable to others. Nurgle is, quite literally, likened to a jovial grandfather. He's easily the nicest of the Chaos gods.
    • Then there's the arguable case of the Thousand Sons, who received so many 'gifts' from their patron god Tzeentch that they were beginning to turn from gene-boosted human sorcerers to gibbering monstrosities. Arguable because whilst the denizens of the Warp often appear genuinely clueless about the limitations of the mortal physique, assuming that Tzeentch acts out of ignorance is seldom a wise move.
    • There's also the Orks, who fight, maim, and kill their way across the universe because... it's fun. And it's what they were made to do. And all the other Orks are doing it. And it just feels right. They also have absolutely no fear of death, and consider a good enemy who can provide a hard fight to be a resource worth cultivating and releasing if captured; it's as close as they come to the idea of a friend.
    • This is apparently standard attitude for the Imperium, as in one Last Chancers novel one of the titular Penal Legion actually thinks that xenophobia towards humans isn't a very good reason for wanting to start a fight with a human, apparently forgetting the fact that the Imperium pillages and slaughters any alien species they come across, more often than not pursuing the race to extinction or very close to it.
  • In GURPS Aliens, there's a hivemind called Mmm. It is all life on its home planet. Depending on where in the timeline you are... Mmm is either an Eldritch Abomination casually slaughtering humans, or an innocent pacifist playable character. And no, it isn't that it starts out innocent and then become evil. The murderous phase comes first, before it comes to the Heel Realization that humans are individuals and that individual human lives are irreplacable, and thus have value. It was innocently slaughtering people because it was curious about what they looked like on the inside and thought that mankind wouldn't mind losing a few drones.
  • In 3rd edition of Dungeons & Dragons some creatures such as skeletons and zombies are "Evil", even though they are as mindless as automatons, insects and everything else that operates on instinct/program. Keep in mind that until 4th edition, Dungeons and Dragons had an objective morality (and ethics) system tied to game mechanics, so when something is "evil" in D&D (especially before 4th edition), that is not an opinion.
    • It happened as a part of "thematic" dumbing down, which also resulted in the opposite, association-by-guilt: sometimes spells were assigned to Necromancy despite not fitting its definition (magical manipulation of life/unlife force) just "because they are e-e-evil".

Video Games

  • In Immortal Defense, you're introduced to a group of quirky and lovable Points that represent your emotions, which you use to fight enemies. And they go on being quirky and lovable while you use them to commit genocide, betray a people who worshipped you, and kill millions of relatively innocent aliens while defending - BIG FREAKING SPOILER: - a rock in space that you've deluded yourself is your dead homeworld come back to life.
  • Super Smash Bros. Mr. Game and Watch, according to the trophy files, has no concept of morality or good or evil, hence him doing what the bad guys wanted for a while.
  • The yellow-armored Mooks in Haze are constantly doped into being cheerful, happy, and completely oblivious to the carnage they're wreaking, seeing everything in a warm, fuzzy glow, where people don't die, just fall over and disappear.
  • Shadow of the Colossus is a case of this, but then again, there is never any doubt that the Colossi would leave you (and the rest of the world) alone. You are the one going into their lairs and stabbing them in the head or armpit because of a deal with the devil.
  • Persona 4: Taro Namatame represents what the protagonist might have become had he jumped to conclusions about the Midnight Channel and the TV World that lead him to kidnapping people and abandoning them in a parallel world for their own safety. Not unsympathetic, as he is an Unwitting Pawn who eventually repents when shown that his attempts to help people actually endangered them. A tragically terminated relationship followed by heavy substance abuse might help explain his lapses in judgement, as well.
  • Strangely enough, Dr. Eggman of all people in Sonic Chronicles. Throughout the game, he exhibits no comprehension of the difference between good and evil, and seems to think that Sonic and friends are merely stop him because it's fun. It's Played for Laughs. This is at odds with his ordinary characterization, which ranges from Noble Demon to Card-Carrying Villain, depending on the depiction. Of course, this could just be Obfuscating Stupidity...
    • Most likely so, since putting the heroes at ease made it far easier for him to convince them to leave him alone while they went into the other dimension, giving him free reign to conquer the world unopposed. Which he did.
  • Unlike his teammates, who know what they're doing is evil and are proud of it, Pyro from Team Fortress 2 actually thinks he's being a friend to the BLU Team when he's actually killing them. Ironically, they seem to think that the Pyro is more evil than them.
  • Subverted in Portal, where GLaDOS at first seems to be malfunctioning, trying to maintain its original purpose while the tests have become a Death Course due to lack of maintenance. When you go off-track and destroy the first Personality Core, she reveals that she knows exactly what she's doing.
    • On the other hand, Aperture's founder Cave Johnson fit this trope like a glove. At first he saw himself as a brave entrepeneur, doing slightly questionable experiments For Science!! Then when he started to fall ill, he named his beloved secretary as the head of the company- whether she wanted it or not. He didn't seem to realise that she was terrified of the Brain Uploading process, or that the body he was putting Caroline into would turn her into the evil GLaDOS. The actor refused to even read the lines for that scene, but hers are in the game files and sound like she's being raped.
  • The shibito (literally "corpse people") in Siren fit this trope precisely. They seem like zombies, walking around with fatal wounds, but their motions resemble that of a marionette on invisible and intangible strings, they speak with a reverb in their voices, go about twisted parodies of their living existance, and they seem genuinely happy with their condition. They wish to spread this "happiness" to others, attempting to cheerfully slaughter any living person they can find.
  • System Shock 2: not Shodan, she's consciously hostile, but The Many. They invite you to join their Hive Mind as if that should be the most attractive invitation, oblivious to the insanity the Body Horror of 'joining' them has driven other humans into. A milder version would be the android assistant who attentively and helpfully approaches like a homing missile on legs.
  • In Dragon Age II, Knight Commander Meredith, the leader of the templars, has been corrupted by a bizarre artifact made of lyrium, a magical ore that has some strange side effects, causing her to give the templars an order to commit genocide against the mages.. It's not clear how much the idol is affecting her, but in the final boss battle, it clearly is.
    • Merrill from the same game could also qualify. She's hopelessly naive about the dark magic she casts, to the point where any of her actions that result in somebody's death (and, even on her best possible campaign, that's still a lot) come as a complete shock to her.
      • To be fair, none of those deaths were actually her fault. It was all just her clan being so afraid/resentful of her that it clouded their judgement and they didn't notice death coming right at them.
  • Pokémon Black and White: up until the very end of the game, N honestly believed that all Pokemon were inevitably abused by trainers and that the only humane solution was to separate them. When he finds out that not only was the entire Team Plasma operation a front for Ghetsis to get rid of any competition, but also that his entire worldview was deliberately misshapen and manipulated by Ghetsis and that he'd been wrong the entire time, he was...distressed, to say the least.
    • An interesting thing to note about N is that he was acknowledged as a hero by one of the two major legendary Pokemon of this generation. N was the hero of ideals while the player character, acknowledged by the other legendary, was the hero of truth. Also, unlike the player, who had to battle the legendary who sided with them, N simply befriended his legendary, like he did with every other Pokemon he fought with throughout the game. Another thing to note about N is that he didn't try to separate everyone from their Pokemon by force; he wanted them to recognize him as the hero of legend and willingly release their Pokemon. Sadly for him, however, a Plasma scientist that hacked into the storage system was preparing to release everyone's Pokemon regardless...
    • There's also Archie and Maxie, the villains from Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, who truly believe that it would be a great idea to flood the world or dry the oceans, respectively; admittedly, their original plans weren't quite that extreme, and once they realize that that's what they're doing, they both pull Heel Face Turns.
    • And to round off the Pokémon villains who seem oblivious to their own evil, Cyrus was so twisted by bad parenting that he decided the world would be a better place without that sort of emotional turmoil-- or any emotions at all, really. To this end he wants to mercy-kill reality and start over to rid the universe of human spirit, and while he understands that the player character would oppose that out of self-preservation, he thinks they're being naiive by insisting human spirit is a good thing.
  • Debilitas from Haunting Ground; he relentlessly stalks Fiona because he thinks that she's a new doll for him to play with, however, like Lennie from Of Mice and Men, his enthusiasm makes him dangerous to be around.
  • In Advance Wars Days of Ruin, both of Caulder's/Stolos' Opposite Gender Clone daughters, Penny/Lily and Tabitha/Larissa, arguably qualify as this. Penny is a small child whose mind is thoroughly broken from too many experiments and appears to think razing the landscape and blowing people up with tanks is just a fun game she plays with her family. Tabitha's older and crueler than Penny, but a good deal of her dialogue, (especially in the questionably-canon tactics segments) implies she doesn't really understand that testing her dear old dad's horrendous super-weapons in live combat on a rag-tag group of survivors just trying to live in peace is wrong.
    • In the EU translation, Dark Conflict, Lily is still presented as Obliviously Evil but Larissa is not: She is a Social Darwinist and enjoys picking on the weak and blowing up things out of her own volition.
  • Graf Michael Sepperin of Rosenkreuzstilette had no idea that his idea of fighting against the Empire and sacrificing innocents was wrong, even if it was just to build a new world for Magi and protect Iris. Tia knew she was right to take it upon herself to stop her colleagues. It's too bad that she did not know that her determination to stop the coup against the Empire was all part of Iris' plan to cause everything that happened to the point of Sepperin's defeat for her own amusement and to usurp God himself instead of Tia's initial belief that the Count was behind it all.

Web Comics

  • Possibly Kharla'ggen from Drowtales, since it's been hinted that she just doesn't have the mental capacity to understand what she's doing, and just wants to play with her dolls.
    • And eat demons and consume their auras, the only thing that she proactively takes interest in as the theoretical ruler of her clan. Demons and dolls, those are the only real things to Kharla, or so it seems.
  • Digger: the skin lizards. They don't get why people are so intent on keeping their skin.
    • Values Dissonance plays a huge role in Digger. The hyenas practice funerary cannibalism, something which causes Digger some trouble (being a strict herbivore) and greatly confuses Shadowchild in its morality lessons (one of which had been "don't eat anything that talks"). After his Heroic Sacrifice, Digger allows the skins to take Ed's, because they had befriended him and meant to honor him by it.
  • Din and Jin from Las Lindas. They genuinely just want to have a good laugh at the other characters' expense, but their latest "prank" was not funny. At all.
  • In No Rest for The Wicked, the witch from Hansel and Gretel isn't eating children out of malice or hunger. She lived out in the woods with her children (named Hansel and Gretel) but they were slowly dying from sickness. Going mad with grief, she thought there was no place to keep her children safe...except 'inside'. When the townspeople started abandoning their children in the woods, she thought that the lost children were Hansel and Gretel, who 'escaped', and took them 'back in' again.

Witch: You two just think it's a wonderful game don't you ... always sneaking out somehow ... pretending to be different children? Even if you look different everytime, you can't fool me. In the end, it's always the same.

    • It Gets Worse when Red is pushing her into the oven and the witch starts to scream that they can't do this, she has children and no one else can care for them...
  • Depending on how the metaplot finally plays out, it's entirely possible that the PCs of Darths and Droids may end up, through simple carelessness and/or Genre Blindness, instigating or abetting each and every one of the evils that Star Wars Episode III ends with, including, but not limited to, the Galactic Empire, the Death Star, Boba Fett, and Darth Vader. So far, only Pete seems to realize this, but he's in it For the Evulz anyway.
    • Annie is also pretty clear on what she's doing, having intentionally written Anakin to be slightly unhinged and on the edge of sociopathy.
  • The Angelo's Kids religion from Our Little Adventure. They seem genuinely happy to carry out Angelo's wishes. They destroy entire towns, kill entire populaces, and pillage and loot, all because they believe in Angelo's vision of a perfect world.
  • Characterization Marches On makes it hard to say where the title character of Niels falls on the morality scale, but if this is any indication, he's certain that any good people he kills will be rewarded in heaven.
  • Thog, of Order of the Stick, seems to fall into the "stupid" category of this trope.
  • It's hard to say for certain that Kornada in Freefall is this, by "virtue" of his world revolving around himself - completely. At no point has he ever acknowledged or even appeared to consider how much harm his actions have caused. He simply wants more money, and he'll do whatever it takes to get that money, whether it's firing someone so he can retroactively blame them for sabotage if things go wrong, or leaving someone to drown rather than taking the time to save her, or destroying the minds of millions of robots as part of a plan to steal their funds. (It's not that he's good, either - he's never done anything to help someone that hasn't benefited him - but the concept of good and evil seems above his capacity to comprehend. The only distinctions he makes are fair and unfair, and it's only unfair if someone else has something he doesn't.)

Western Animation

  • This trope was applied when The Simpsons Montgomery Burns lost his fortune and Lisa convinced him to be "environmentally friendly". He honestly tried to do the right thing, but....
    • What's wrong with Li'l Lisa's Slurry? It's made of 100% recycled sea animal!

Lisa: You're still evil! And when you try to be good you become even MORE evil!

Ultron: I am trying to help you. My function is to instill peace and order. This is only possible if you stop functioning.

Ultron: I find no pleasure in this. It simply must be done.

  • The Ice King from Adventure Time seems to fall under this.
  • Elmyra from Tiny Toon Adventures really loves animals, but is unaware of the torture she puts the animals through.
  • The dragon in the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Dragonshy" isn't a bad dragon, "you just made a bad decision," says Fluttershy.
  • A possible interpretation of the monarchs's behavior of the Fire Nation in Avatar: The Last Airbender, especially Fire Lord Ozai.
  • Baljeet in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Cranius Maximus". He's not trying to kill all life on Earth by eliminating the atmosphere, he's just been driven partially insane by his newly-enhanced intelligence, and figures it's the easiest way to see the universe better.
  • Pretty much every akuma victim in Miraculous Ladybug; none of them are truly malignant until Hawk Moth's curse amplifies their negative emotions to sociopathic levels.
    • Special mention goes to Chloé, the Alpha Bitch of the school, who's mean attitude has caused a majority of the grudges that result in akuma attacks. Unfortunately, this is no longer an accident, as Hawk Moth is starting to depend on her bullying while choosing targets. Unfortunately for Chloé, this also has led to her almost being a victim of Laser Guided Karma several times, and survives only via Ladybug's intervention.
  • Stitch from Lilo and Stitch doesn't know that his destructive actions end up hurting people. When David points it out to him what he has done, Stitch changes his ways.

Real Life

  • Many Nazis were just regular people who wanted to support their country and show patriotism. In fact, the population that didn't know the true aspect of what was going on was so prevalent that entire resistance movements, such as Die Weisse Rose, were created not to directly fight against the government, but to inform German citizens as to what was really going on. That said, the vast majority certainly saw the harassment, discrimination, and violence against non-Aryan people, suggesting that not a few didn't want to know what the full extent of what was going on.
    • As for the perpetrators themselves, many of them unflinchingly realized torture and mass murder because they thought the wholesale extermination of "Untermenschen" was a moral imperative.
  • Cats. House cats frequently kill smaller animals (rodents, birds, lizards), not because they're hungry, but because it's fun. Worse, they frequently don't kill their prey, at least not immediately. This actually comes from how they teach their young to hunt on wounded prey and it allows them to play with the animal longer. But hey, they're cute.
    • All carnivorous and omnivorous animals are examples.
    • This is particularly sobering in the case where the victims are endangered species. In the case of dogs, a dog could kill a severely endangered animal like a kiwi, and it'd be standing there wagging its tail. Tragic.
    • Quite a few herbivores. Hippos, cape buffalo, and quite a few other animals can and will rip a human being to pieces.
  • Diseases caused by microrganisms. They have no intelligence to know what they are doing (they're not even multicellular, or, in the case of viruses, possibly not even living), they are simply doing what their DNA or RNA tells them to do. In fact, with most diseases, it is not the microrganisms that cause the disease, it is the toxins they produce that cause harm.
    • As far as viruses go, the viruses themselves do not destroy your cells. In fact, a virus is just a protein container with some DNA or RNA inside. The virus will bounce around until, by chance, it happens upon a cell that it can bind to (the structure of the container determines which cells it will bind to) and inject your cells with its DNA or RNA through diffusion (a passive action, using mere physics). Your cells then begin to read and follow the new instructions that was just injected: to create a bunch of viruses until the cell explodes, thus causing it to kill itself. That's right, viruses cannot replicate on its own; your own cells do the job for them. The hundreds or thousands of brand new viruses will then repeat the process. You're lucky that your immune system is efficient.
    • Some viruses lyse cells, as do some bacterial phages. Many viruses are quite capable of integrating themselves into their target's genome, such as any prophage. A great deal of the human genome is viruses which just moved into our chromosomes and found it a nice way to get copied (and do nothing else).
      • This is why HIV is incredibly deadly. Those bind to your immune system. With no protection, anything can enter your body, and your body can't do anything about it.
    • Ironically, this makes the virus a failure of sorts. A really efficient parasite does less damage to its host, and according to the Red Queen theory in evolutionary theory, over time successful parasites tend evolve to do less harm so their hosts are more likely to thrive. A more severe parasite puts hard selective pressure on its host to develop a defense. Rhinoviruses (one of the big groups behind the common cold) rarely do significant harm - and are therefore far more successful at getting into the next generation.
      • A particularly good example of this in action would be syphilis. As recently as a couple centuries ago, syphilis was not just virulent and hard to get rid of, but also a severely disfiguring disease. But syphilis is also sexually transmitted, and sexual partners are very frequently selected solely on the basis of appearance. Mutant varieties of syphilis which did not disfigure their hosts turned out to have a reproductive advantage over those which did, and by the 20th Century the disease became known mainly for how hard it was to get rid of, not the damage it did to its sufferers' appearance.
  • Cancer cells. Similarly to microbial pathogens they don't know what they are doing to their host, all they do is replicate and spread like crazy. What really makes them qualify is the fact that they are basically your own body cells which have suffered damage to their DNA, and as a result lost all inhibition to replicate and become selfish jerkasses on a cellular level.
    • Our own immune system is not free of flaws either. Its job is to protect our body from all sorts of pathogens, cancer and toxic proteins - but in case of autoimmune diseases it goes way too far and attacks some of our own body tissues as if they were foreign bodies. The results often aren't pretty. There are medical drugs which can dampen the immune system and reduce the damage, but the cost for that is an increased susceptibility for infections.
      • Basically the same thing happens after organ transplantation. However, as this usually requires having one of your own vital organs utterly destroyed, having a new functional organ but a weaker immune system is clearly the lesser evil in this case.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremists in general tend to be this.
  1. Stockholm Syndrome is a real bitch, isn't it?