Order Versus Chaos

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"According to the philosopher, Ly Tin Wheedle, chaos is found in greatest abundance wherever order is being sought. It always defeats order, because it is better organized."

Bored of the age-old battle of Good versus Evil? Want something new to spice up your setting and throw your readers in confusion? Fear not! Cosmological Forces R Us has brought you the brand-new dichotomy, Order versus Chaos.

Using it in a setting allows you to have two sides, in a similar way to Good and Evil, but without being so trite or preachy about it. While the most traditional works have assigned Order to Good, and Chaos to Evil, inversions of this are becoming increasingly frequent, wherever you find people dissatisfied with The Powers That Be. Often nowadays, you'll find a Chaotic Good band of rebels fighting against a Lawful Evil empire. In another interesting take on the subject, true goodness is seen as the balance between the two forces, and both Order and Chaos are portrayed as evil when they are taken to their extremes.

Order, sometimes called Law, is associated with civilization, authority, rules, protection, the status quo, tradition, and, when stretched to its extreme, mindless obedience to the law, fascism, and xenophobia. It's quite common nowadays to depict what happens when Order takes their laws and oaths just a little too far. When they have powers associated with them, it's often leadership, The Virus, Brainwashing, and the power to bind with rules and oaths. When used as a villain, he's likely to say "We Have Reserves."

Chaos is associated with change, Tricksters, free will, creativity, individualism, and, to the extreme, madness, savagery, solipsism, and selfish overindulgence. The powers associated with it are Shapeshifting, illusions, and matter transmutation. By nature, Chaos tends to be too disorganized to pose a serious unifed threat like Order, and may engage in an Enemy Civil War or find its members Divided We Fall. The forces of Chaos are the hardest to predict: Chaotic Good is considered by some to be the best of the Good alignments because it combines a free spirit with a kind heart, while Chaotic Evil is considered to be the most dangerous of the Evil alignments because Chaotic Evil does evil as it pleases, with nothing like moral codes holding it back.

They're sometimes Anthropomorphic Personifications, struggling with the whole world at stake, and don'tcha know, the hero's just the one that's got to pick between one or the other to serve. Or just simply not play favorites and keep them balanced. When they're not actual forces, they're broad themes represented by the agenda of specific groups of people.

Rarely is it brought up that by sorting the world into clearly defined categories of Chaos and Order, the trope inherently skews itself in favor of Order (or at least Balance). It's also generally vague as to why the forces of discord and chaos are regimented and disciplined enough to have actual Forces of Chaos. Of course, this only applies to absolute, cosmic-level order and chaos, not human individuals who tend toward one or the other.

When classifying people as one or the other, four factors tend to get elided into one:

  1. Whether they believe the universe to be ordered
  2. To what extent they support order in society
  3. How they conduct their lives.

In spite of the obvious fact that a hero who flies by the seat of his pants can nevertheless believe in an orderly universe and support his society more or less according to whether it is in harmony with the greater order, and an obsessive-compulsive character may be actually reacting to his belief that the universe is chaotic, and society no better.

See also Character Alignment, where this is a major factor. See also Alike and Antithetical Adversaries for other variants on this conflict. Can often be involved with the dilemma of Harmony Versus Discipline. Visually represented on a smaller scale with Slobs Versus Snobs.

Examples of Order Versus Chaos include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • One Piece has—at least as a background story so far—the war of the World Government and their policy of "absolute justice" against the free-spirited pirates. The World Government is portrayed as corrupt and pretty much completely evil, aside from a few story-prominent Navy officers who reject "absolute justice" in favor of their own brand of justice. The pirates, on the other hand, range from nice guys like Luffy to jerkasses like Buggy to dog-kicking scumbags like Arlong and Crocodile.
  • S-Cry-ed (anime version) casts the independent mercenary Kazuma as a proponent of Chaos and the military-mindset HOLY member Ryuhou as a Orderly Knight Templar who's confidently skirting the Moral Event Horizon. Most of Kazuma's potential Inner allies aren't all that good, and Ryuho's fellow Cape Busters run the gamut from easygoing to The Caligula. Then Conflict Killer Kyoji Mujo shows up, having suckered the mainland brass into thinking him a full-blown Knight Templar when he's really a Social Darwinist. At this point, if the two are left unattended for more than two seconds they start pounding on each other, but both agree that he's the biggest threat.
  • Tsutomu Nihei's Blameverse features this conflict prominently. In Noise, the main character is a cop investigating a cult who worship the power of chaos who are kidnapping children to use for human sacrifices in their bizarre Magitek rituals. When they kill her, she is ressurrected by a The Safeguard, protectors of order, but they turn out to be a pack of fascists who plan on disenfranchising & killing everybody who can't afford network implants & brainwashing the ones who do. Then in Blame!, we see the aftermath of this; the cult succeeded in throwing the world into chaos, but since they're so poorly organized their descendants, the Silicon Lives, don't amount to much more than a bunch of roving cyber-barbarians. The Safeguard doesn't fare much better, as their directives become so corrupted that they essentially believe that everything that's not them must be exterminated.
    • This is one of those few times in fiction where the reader is shown exactly WHY the Balance Between Order And Chaos is so important and makes it clear that although Order is necessary, if it taken too far from the median line between Order and Chaos, extremes become implemented without a balancing force. In fact this is even evident in the Schizo-Tech and Bizarchitecture seen in the manga, where widespread chaotic disruption results in the ever-growing expansion of the City, but the reason why that expansion continues is because the ordered directives of the builders demand logical progression and expansion. With no mediating force, one extreme inevitably bleeds into the other where neither are compatible for continued life.
  • Very much present in Soul Eater, which likes to play around with the concepts on a regular basis.
    • Mostly in the "pure chaos" results in total insanity with no control or direction, but "pure order" in fact amounts to nothingness where the chaotic nature of life is not present. You start to feel very bad for the Anthropomorphic Personifications who run the universe.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is very much about this trope: the good guys represent the forces of freedom, while the villains are the oppressors. However, every villain in the series is an Anti-Villain with reasons for their actions.
  • In Sailor Moon, Chaos is the Ultimate Evil, and every Big Bad is an incarnation of it. Sailor Cosmos or "order" is the only thing that can defeat them all.
  • The World God Only Knows has a variation of this in the second to last episode. Many students want to put a media room in the library, but Shiori, the student librarian, won't have it, preferring the library to be a place of quiet solitude for books to be enjoyed. However, she's too shy to actually say anything, so she locks up the library by changing the password on the keypad and makes a fort of books. Keima eventually gets in and just sits with her playing his game to show that they're not so different. In the end, however, it starts to become less and less Order vs Chaos and more Chaos vs Chaos as Shiori nearly passes out under a pile of fallen books. In the end Shiori comes to terms with the "chaos" that she knew the media room would cause, but still demands that no books be thrown away.
  • The overarching conflict in Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt is this, although it's played with a bit. The angels are Chaotic Good, though they're largely just selfish jerks who want to have fun heedless of the amount of mayhem they cause while protecting the city; by contrast, the Demon Sisters are Lawful Evil and make some attempts to improve the quality of life through tyranny and enforced conformity.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • The Invisibles had the good guys as agents of Chaos, fighting off the evil forces of eternal Order. The series often plays with these associations, as a member of the Outer Church (the Order side) tries to convince a bunch of outsiders they're the good guys by citing the story of Ahura Mazda versus Angra Mainyu (see below).
  • The original, Silver Age run of Doom Patrol had the team tending toward Good Chaos, as they were the rejects and cast-offs of society. Grant Morrison's later run kicked this into overdrive, with surreality as the order of the day, and characters like Crazy Jane (each of whose multiple personalities has its own superpower) and Danny the Street (a sentient transvestite boulevard). It also featured Evil Chaos in the form of the Brotherhood of Dada, and Evil Order as Darren Jones and the Men From N.O.W.H.E.R.E.
    • Granted, the Brotherhood of Dada wasn't evil so much as plain weird. In fact the heroes found themselves working to SAVE the Brotherhood of Dada in their second appearance and two of them even pointed out that the Brotherhood had the right idea
  • The DCU has the Sufficiently Advanced Energy Beings known as the Lords of Chaos and Lords of Order. Several previously-existing magical beings were retconned to fit in with this; Dr. Fate's mentor Nabu became a Lord of Order, the Legion of Super-Heroes' antagonist Mordru was revealed as a Lord of Chaos, and so on. Most portrayals of these focused on balance, especially Hawk and Dove, who represent, respectively, Chaos and Order and were created by a Lord of Order and a Lord of Chaos who had fallen in love and tried to find some happy middle.
  • The DCU also has Jack Kirby's Fourth World of the New Gods, where Order is represented by the oppressive tyrant, Darkseid, who demands absolute obedience and seeks the Anti-Life Equation, mastery of which will force any mind to submit to the will of he who wields it. He's opposed by the Space Hippies of New Genesis, who believe in peace and free will ("That is the Life Equation!") -- and his own son, who is essentially a personification of pure, primal fury.
    • Amazingly, though Kirby clearly spells this out several times, many writers who followed him Just Didn't Get It, and explicitly flipped around the Order and Chaos attributions of the two factions. This may be because it was most clearly stated in The Forever People, the least well-regarded series in the saga.
  • Marvel Comics' Crystar Crystal Warrior is about a war between the magical forces of Order and Chaos on the planet Crystalium. While the good guys are all allied with Order, and the demon lord Chaos is indisputably evil, it's worth noting that the Order wizard Ogeode recognizes that if Order were taken too far, it would be just as destructive as Chaos (his bosses don't like it when he talks like this); while Chaos's Dragon, Moltar, was railroaded into the job and clearly doesn't really believe in it wholeheartedly, either. Moltar finally does a Heel Face Turn at the very end of the series.
  • Doctor Strange villains Dormammu and Shuma-Gorath have both been described as Lords of Chaos. There is also the God of Chaos Chthon, the source of power for the Scarlet Witch, who is more of a general Marvel-wide villain; he created Chaos Magic which causes Reality Warping and other chaotic-style stuff, but he also represents conquest. The personifications of Chaos and Order represent more of a Balance Between Good and Evil.
  • Averted in V for Vendetta: V fights to bring down the oppressive government, but is careful to tell to Evey that it's law, rather than order, that he opposes. He also makes sure to explain that anarchy is not the same as chaos.
    • This is because in oppression a resistance will always exist, while in anarchy it will not, as there is nothing to resist.
  • According the comics, the Cenobites are order. In one of the more comedic stories, an obnoxious, lazy office worker spends all his time tinkering with one of the puzzle boxes, distracting his fellow employees and annoying his borderline Clock King boss, who easily solves the puzzle for him, summoning some Cenobites. The Cenobites prepare to take the boss to the Labyrinth, only to be told off by him; the boss says he only solved the puzzle because it was disrupting the order, productivity and perfectionism he constantly strived for, which the Cenobites are now doing. The Cenobites mull this over for a bit, eventually decide the boss is essentially "doing Leviathan's work" and decide to take the employee, who the boss had earlier described as "a gear that has become misaligned", in his place.
  • The theme of Jonathan Hickman's SHIELD is a war between science as a force for change (represented by Leonardo da Vinci) and science as a means of control (represented by Isaac Newton). The lead character, the son of Nikola Tesla, initially sides with Leonardo, before deciding both sides are wrong because they're locked into the idea there must be a war.


Film[edit | hide]


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In The Cat in the Hat, there is a struggle between the fish (order) and the cat (chaos). The cat isn't strictly bad, since he brightens what would have been an otherwise boring day, but it's portrayed as a good thing when the house returns to order.
    • When the Cat returns in The Cat In The Hat Comes Back, the children greet him with hostility and make it clear that, fun or not, the chaos he brings is NOT welcome.
  • In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, McMurphy represents Chaos and Nurse Ratched represents Order. Chaos is definitely the good side here.
  • Catch-22—the protagonist, Yossarian, is Chaos; the military bureaucracy he's struggling against is Order.
  • In His Dark Materials chaos is good and order is evil. 'God' is the evil leader of a race that seeks to control and repress joy and passion, so the protagonists must Rage Against the Heavens.
  • The works of Michael Moorcock, especially the Elric and Corum series, where the Lords of Chaos and the Lords of Law pick Champions to fight for them. Neither Order nor Chaos are portrayed as very nice.
    • It's pointed out in the books: Chaos means that every possibility is allowed (symbolized by the eight-arrow symbol), but at the end, you'll just move back and forth and get to nowhere. Order (symbolized by a straight arrow) means that you have direction, but exclude some possibilities—in the worst case, all of them. An world gone too far in Chaos is one where shape cannot be maintained and horrible things will try to eat you. A world gone too far in law will eventually become a featureless white plane. And although Order has a superficial appearance of being Good, and Chaos of being Evil; the true Good is, in fact, the Balance, with Evil being the extremes of either Order or Chaos.
      • It's heavily implied, if not outright stated in several Moorcock stories that the true 'good' is in fact mankind finally growing up, taking charge of and responsibility for its own destiny, and ceasing to depend on 'higher powers' that it may actually have propped up itself in the first place. Corum's Swords Trilogy ends with both Law and Chaos banished from his world, and the final story of the Erekosë saga implies that Law, Chaos, and the Balance were destroyed.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire we have the Wildlings, who love their freedom, would never support the whole monarchistic system that is causing als the crap in Westeros, but have no real infrastructure or laws. On the other hand we have the Night Watch which is honour bound to protect the country from them.
  • Roger Zelazny's Book of Amber also had Order and Chaos, respectively embodied by the Unicorn/Pattern and the Serpent/Logrus, as the main cosmological forces of his multiverse. In the second series, they were rather insistent on main character Merlin picking a side, much to his annoyance. Too much imbalance was especially said to endanger the existence of the universe.
  • Part of the world's magic system of Modesitt's Saga of Recluce novels. His system is very complex but normally the Chaos side is evil. This is increasingly subverted in the later novels, but we have not yet seen an Order mage as a major villain. Ironically, the Chaos mages have (or had) a well-organized Empire, while the Order mages were generally either rebels or refugees for much of their history.
    • However, the Order mages aren't exactly pinnacles of goodness either. The sole country run by Order mages exiles anyone who isn't orderly enough, and the Order mages tend to cause lots of collateral damage when fighting the Chaos mages.
    • As presented in the earlier books, order mages tend to slowly become more dedicated to (and fixed in) their causes (good or evil), while chaos mages tend to become less so (and thus self-centered and increasingly amoral, but less capable of intentionally being pure good or pure evil). Later, the series seems to drift more towards making balance the only "real" good solution.
  • The Illuminatus! Trilogy seemed to portray Chaos as good and Order as evil.
    • To even understand the book, you have to have some mental grip on the concept of Chaos.
  • Nonfiction example: Hobbes's Leviathan is very pro-Order, characterizing totalitarianism as the only alternative to "the war of all against all".
  • A semi-viral unpublished novel called The Cloven Accord depicts Chaos as evil natural-disaster-causing demons and Order as a mind-destroying cult. The happy medium, the Ilyarians, appears to be extremely metaphysical hedonism. Uniquely, all symbolism inherent in these concepts is helpfully listed at the back of the book.
  • Mickey Zucker Reichert's Renshai series ties this trope to a modified version of Norse Mythology. Odin has been keeping the world as orderly as possible to delay Ragnarök. One of the main characters in the book decides the world needs a little bit more chaos. The efforts of other characters to stop him end up being counterproductive, tilting the balance the other way.
  • The Discworld makes heavy use of both sides of this trope.
    • The Auditors of Reality represent Evil Order (they want to destroy all life because it's untidy), and Death typically finds himself against them, though he's more of a Balancing force than Chaos. However, Kaos does show up toward the end of Thief of Time, in order to tip the balance in the battle between the Four Horseman against the Auditors.
    • There's Evil Chaos on the Disc in the form of the Elves and the Eldritch Abominations from the Dungeon Dimensions.
    • Vetinari, the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, represents Order in the human world; whether he is good, evil, or morally ambiguous depends on how you interpret the motives behind his methods. Vimes tends to support order as well.
    • In the constant competition between Fate and the Lady, it's the Lady (Luck—a chaotic factor interfering with Fate's order) who gets shown more sympathetically. Like all Discworld gods she has a tendency to see people as playing peices, but unlike Fate, she never sacrifices a pawn.

Fate: How can you hope to win without sacrificing the occasional pawn?
The Lady: Oh, I never play to win. But I do play not to lose.

  • The Old Kingdom series has Charter Magic (Order) vs. Free Magic (Chaos), though the Abhorsen makes use of both.
  • Perdido Street Station has the Construct Council, a giant sentient colony of robots, avatar of Order and the superego, and the Weaver, described as "the dancing mad god", an Arachnomorphic Personification of dream, creativity, and the subconscious.
  • The Thursday Next books have the Hades family as Evil Chaos and Goliath Corporation as Evil Order. Thursday tends towards Balance
  • In John C. Wright's Chronicles of Chaos, the central conflict of the setting is that of Cosmos vs. Chaos. The children are caught in the middle; indeed, one consideration when thinking of escaping back to their parents is that they aren't certain the forces of Chaos are right, even though the forces of Cosmos have been holding them hostage.
  • In Gordon R. Dickson's The Dragon Knight series of books the forces of evil are constantly trying to upset the balance between "History" and "Chance."
  • In another nonfiction example, it was subverted by Pierre-Jospeh Proudhon's writings, namely by the statement "Anarchy is Order."
  • Louise Cooper's excellent Time Master trilogy, along with the sequel Chaos Gate and prequel Star Shadow trilogies. Another example of Good = Balance, and Evil = Extreme; although none of the factions are quite that straightforward, and the nature of the universe is portrayed as a pendulum constantly swinging back and forth between the two.
  • In Tamora Pierce's Daine novels the big bad turns out to be the goddess of chaos who fights against the other great gods. It's because of her that creatures like the stormwings got into the mortal realm
  • It also is known in The Icelandic Sagas which sometimes can seem to resemble the Western genre.
  • R.A. Salvatore's The Orc King has an interesting play on this; King Obould is motivated by bringing order to orcish society where as his rival Grguch firmly believes that chaos is the way of the orc and Obould should die for straying from that. This is demonstrated in parallel scenes where Obould subtly helps his generals plan for an assault with considerably more discipline and forsight than one would think an orc capable of(an attack he knew wouldn't happen, at that). Meanwhile, Grguch orders a raid on the orc's enemies without any planning at all, despite, when he's called on it, displaying considerable understanding of battle planning; he knows what to do but doesn't do it as he considers order and discipline contrary to what he believes orcs should be. The twist in all this, however, is how these two are percieved by the heroes. The Companions of the Hall have been fighting orcs for as long as they can remember, and are forced to chose between assisting the creation of Obould's stable kingdom, which completely disrupts their perception of the natural order, or Grguch's chaos, which is normal for them, but in practice will involve a long conflict that will surely cost many more lives before it is resolved.
  • In Elizabeth Bear's Promethean Age series the Fae are definitely Chaos and the Promethean Society Order and neither is presented as very nice. Subverted in that The Promethean Society was originally founded by Lucifer who is a Magnificent Bastard and the original rebel against Order.
  • Paradise Lost uses the standard notation where God is Order and Satan is Chaos. As a quirk of the way Milton wrote it, however, God is the stern version, while Satan decides in the first part to make the best of the bad situation he's been put in. Like many classics, the resulting work is still quite open to interpretation.
    • However, it also points out Satan's hypocrisy. While he claims to stand for freedom, he very quickly becomes a despotic tyrant who rules Hell with an iron fist.
  • In The Bartimaeus Trilogy, there is Grey and Gray Morality. As such, the most prevalent conflict is between the magicians' order and the djinn' chaos.
  • The Mistborn trilogy has the gods Ruin (chaos) and Preservation (order).
  • Depending on the writer and when it's not pure Blue and Orange Morality, the conflict between the Great Old Ones and the Elder Gods in H.P. Lovecraft's mythos can be viewed as order vs Chaos. The Outer Gods are also often associated with Chaos, being essentially not-really-anthropomorphic personifications of primal forces, hence Azathoth often being called the Nuclear Chaos and Nyarlatothep's epipthet "the Crawling Chaos".
    • In Lovecraft's own stories, however, both the Outer Gods and the Great Old Ones are portrayed as vastly beyond the scope of human concepts like order or chaos, or any human concepts at all, really.
    • Lovecraft's universe is a chaotic and amoral place where the primal laws of physics spontaneously form from the chaotic gibberings of the ultimate creator, Daemon Sultan Azathoth, a process described in the poem Azathoth.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Mordor and Sauron possess elements of both Chaos and Order, though Saruman (The Dragon) comes off as much more clearly Order. But on a smaller scale, this is played out in the race of Ents: male Ents loved the wilderness and forests, nature untamed, while the Entwives cultivated gardens and loved orchards and farmlands. The two genders drifted apart over the years, and the Ents have since lost the Entwives completely.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Babylon 5 had the Vorlons and the Shadows. Originally they were portrayed as Good vs. Evil (Vorlons projecting angelic images of themselves, shadows causing utter fear with their ships). Later, their millennial conflict is revealed as rival philosophies run amok: Order (Vorlons) vs. Chaos (Shadows), with the younger races being forced to choose a side or die. The idea was taken from Babylonian mythology, hence the name of the show.
  • Firefly: The chaos-loving Independents (which comprises Our Heroes) vs. the order-loving Alliance (the antagonists, responsible for a number of nasty things in the name of the greater good, but still more noble-minded and sympathetic than, say, the Empire from Star Wars).
    • Its All There in the Manual, but it gets better. First of all, the Alliance isn't all that order-loving; The "Eternal Prohibition" was left on Earth-That-Was, everyone was permitted weapons, and taxes were both the lowest of any government in history and actually treated as charity. A lot of Independents weren't all that nice; thugs and debt slavers right out of Charles Dickens. But before the Unification War, people were free to live where they wished, anywhere along the spectrum. It was when the war was declared that It Got Worse, and things degraded into Big Damn Heroes getting raped by the Knight Templar.
  • Siblings Justin(Order) and Alex(Chaos), from Wizards of Waverly Place. I don't think they could get more different than they are.
  • Quite a few pairs in House. Cuddy's job requires her to be the Order to House's Chaos. The fact that House needs to ask Cuddy for approval of his methods doesn't affect much at all since according to House, Cuddy can never refuse him for one reason or another. If she does refuse, he usually gets around this via a loophole either he, Wilson, or one of his fellows can find around policy.
    • House and Wilson might also be an example, but only in their methods of practice. Outside of their jobs, Wilson is willing to do a lot to entertain himself or House, including agreeing to a bet that required seeing who could keep a chicken in the hospital without getting caught.
      • Because Wilson also spends time mediating between House and Cuddy, he can be the Order (when trying to argue with House) OR the Chaos (when trying to argue with Cuddy). After a chaotic road trip that involved being pulled over, losing keys in the street, being arrested, and breaking the window at the funeral home where House's father's funeral was happening at the same time, House explicitly states that Wilson is attracted to the chaos that House brings into his life, and Wilson admits to it.
    • Earlier seasons had Foreman (Order, because he followed policy more in earlier seasons) and Chase (Chaos, because he agreed with House just to kiss-ass).
    • Pair Kutner + Defibrillator and anyone trying to deal with the subsequent mess. Or Kutner with anyone else really.
  • In Get Smart, the government spy agency the heroes belonged to was called CONTROL, while their enemies' organization was KAOS.
  • Classic Doctor Who had the Black and White Guardians, cheerleaders for chaos and order, respectively.
    • The new series and The Sarah Jane Adventures has The Trickster and The Pantheon of Discord. Though an opposite Order aligned group has not been shown. As they share some dialogue, some speculate that the two may be related, if not the same being.
  • Subverted in the finale of the third series of Primeval, where Helen claims the team's base, the ARC is "the beginning of the chaos." Of course Helen's morals aren't the most sound in the world.
  • In Yes Minister, Hacker tries to claim that the role of the government is to do good and fight evil. Humphrey dismisses that notion with a dry laugh, and explains that the government is actually there to maintain order amid chaos.
  • The Stone Cold Steve Austin / Vince McMahon feud, as this video sums up perfectly.
  • Even Sister, Sister had this! Tia and Tamera had very different personalities. Tia (order) was the neat, studious one, and Tamera (chaos) was the party girl.


Music[edit | hide]

  • Oddly enough, shows up perfectly in the country music song "The Reckless Side Of Me" by The Steeldrivers. "There's two angels sittin on my shoulders / All they ever do is disagree / One sits on the side of rhyme and reason / The other on the reckless side of me"
  • The Rush song "Cygnus X-1: Book II" is about this. It details a war between Apollo (who brings wisdom and order) and Dionysus (of love and chaos) that decimates the human followers. This is ended when the astronaut from Book I (at the end of the previous album) shows up and tells of how he has existed after plunging into the titular black hole. They dub him Cygnus The God of Balance as a result.


Religion[edit | hide]

  • This is a far more common dichotomy in ancient religions than concepts of "good vs. evil". Consider almost any ancient Pantheon (such as the Norse or Greek Gods) with flawed and often immoral dieties. They aren't exactly "good" in the sense of being moral and upright, but they represent elements of Order and human understanding and were almost always opposed to some rival group representing forces of Chaos and primordial nature. The Norse Gods fought the Frost Giants, the Olympian Gods defeated the Titans and Giants. Over time, and especially under the influence of medieval Christianity, Order became more associated with morality and the divine while Chaos became associated with evil, sin, (where applicable) the devil.
  • This is the central tenet of Zoroastrianism. Followers worship Ahura-Mazda, the embodiment of truth, order and justice—and oppose chaos and disorder (also known as the Lie). One of the offshoot sects, called Zurvanism, names the Lie as Ahriman, the brother of Ahura-Mazda, and holds that the two are always in conflict over the spirits of mankind. The two are both the sons of Zurvan (aka Time).
  • In Khemetic Orthodoxy, the god Set is considered to embody constructive chaos (the forest fire that allows new growth, for example) while the... thing... known as Isfet represents Chaos taken to its potentially universe-destroying extreme.
    • Order versus Chaos was the primary division in Ancient Egyptian religion, with the word Ma'et meaning not just order but also justice and rightness. The word Isfet meant both chaos and injustice. The Pharaoh was the "Lord of Ma'et" who upheld both social and cosmic order through his combined political and religious authority. Without this authority, the Egyptians believed that the primordial chaos which existed before Creation would overtake the world and dissolve everything.
  • Discordianism. What else could be expected when the Goddess is Eris, Goddess of Chaos? (Actually, Eris is Goddess of Strife. The Principia Discordia explains that the Greeks were somewhat "off" in their appraisal of Eris.)
    • On the other hand, the Principia recognizes the difference between creative/destructive order and disorder, advocating the "good" version of each. Although it generally prefers the "disorderly" method, as Discordians believe the world is far too organized already.
  • The Seelie and Unseelie courts of the Fae represent Order and Chaos (or Light and Darkness) respectively rather than Good and Evil, although that is how many modern fictional treatments align them. Both tend to be equally dangerous and unpredictable.
  • Many creation myths start with a primordial sea of chaos, from which gods and creatures are born that eventually bring order to the chaos and create the earth.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • The Old World of Darkness had three cosmic principles in its setting, especially shown in the Werewolf and Mage games: Dynamism/Wyld as Chaos, Stasis/Weaver as Order/Technology, and Entropy/Wyrm as corrupted destruction. Werewolf especially tended to picture Chaos as good, but mostly because it was the underdog of that fight. Mage had the technomancers of the Technocracy to act as Order, the insane Marauders as Chaos, and the diabolic Nephandi to serve as Entropy, with the Player Characters supposed to stand somewhere in between.
    • The cosmology in the Mage: The Ascension setting stressed the importance of the Unity of these three forces. When in balance, they feed into one other in a perfect harmony of creation, existence, and destruction leading to new creations. The Crapsack World nature of the WoD is a result of that balance having been broken in favor of stasis and corruption.
    • Incidentally, in the creation myth for Werewolf, the Wyrm was originally supposed to be the blessed end brought to all things that had fulfilled the purpose. Then the Weaver, who'd already been driven batshit crazy by trying to define the limitless Wyld, tried to define the Wyrm, which twisted it and turned its purpose towards unending corruption.
    • The Were-Spider source book details their more minute distinctions of each force in the way they determine their Auspice. Each were-spider has what amounts to a primarilly allignment with one of the three forces, and a secondary allignment which determined how they expressed it. An entropic-dynamic character then, would thus be concerned with spreading/serving entropy and destruction in as choatic a manner as possible, where-as a stasic-dynamic character might be more intered in creating and preserving new works.
  • In White Wolf's other Tabletop RPG, Exalted, traces of this are also present. The Wyld is a place instead of a force, but one which The Fair Folk inhabit as the representatives of Chaos. Order is represented by the Sidereal Exalted and their Celestial Bureaucracy, as well as by the Realm of the Dragon Blooded.
  • Dungeons and Dragons has a similar system of moral alignment for characters which opposes Evil to Good, and Law to Chaos.
    • In the original game, there were only three alignments: Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic. Lawful was frequently equated with Good and Chaotic with Evil, so it's not much of a surprise that future editions expanded the system into the nine alignments that we know today—which many people still have arguments about, in large part because of the popularity of Anti Heroes and Anti Villains in fantasy fiction. C'est la vie.
      • Even in the original edition, the Monster Manual had creatures defined as "Chaotic but good" or "Lawful but evil". This most likely led to the two-axis alignments.
      • Fourth Edition pared it down to Lawful Good, Good, Unaligned, Evil, and Chaotic Evil. Players have hotly debated whether this means that Lawful Good is somehow "more good" than Chaotic Good, or whether goodness means being naturally chaotic. Wizards' own article on the subject appears here. To summarize for those who don't want the link; Word of God is that Lawful Good and Chaotic Evil are explicitly not The Same but More of Good and Evil. They simply represent very specific, focused views of good and evil -- Lawful Good views law and order as being essential components to goodness, while Chaotic Evil is so psychotic and self-absorbed it goes beyond what even Evil considers appropriate. Even Evil Has Standards... at the very least, an Evil character recognizes that if they destroy the world, they lose everything they want. A Chaotic Evil character will happily destroy the world, just For the Evulz. (Note that this is a Flanderization compared to how it is understood in the nine-alignment system.)
      • The other alignments are also useful. A Dark Lord's just-following-orders minion or a heretic-burning priest is Lawful Evil (keep the rules whatever the cost to people.) A Thief character is Chaotic Good (screw the rules, be excellent to each other.)
    • In the older editions, the Blood War was a massive mashup between the demons and the devils on which kind of evil (pure rampaging destructive chaos vs brutal and cunning tyranny) should dominate the cosmos. Now it's just a personal vendetta between the demons and the devils—the devils want the Shard of Evil that created demonkind, the demons want the fragment of it they already stole back. Your tastes may vary, as although it now lacks much of the flavor of the original, it also eliminated the implication that it was the only thing keeping the endless hordes of demons from overwhelming the cosmos.

"Basically, the Blood War is a conflict between an army of regimented, disciplined war mongers and a bunch of psychopathic murderers." (Fiendish Fortresses by Monte Cook)

      • In 4e, the equivalent of the Blood War is being fought between Bane, god of war and conquest, and Gruumsh, god of destruction and slaughter. Bane is a strategist who plays by the rules of war, while Gruumsh cares only for slaughter. Gruumsh covets Bane's position as god of war, and Bane uses the war with Gruumsh as a cover to make the other deities think he's distracted, occupied, and generally less competant than he actually is, though Gruumsh's unpredictability and bravado keeps the war much more even than Bane would like.
    • In the Basic/Expert/etc variant of D&D, the Sphere of Matter was generally affiliated with Law, and the Sphere of Energy with Chaos, with Time favoring Neutrality and Thought combining some of each. The four all generally team up to oppose the Sphere of Entropy, a nihilistic variant of Chaos that's looking to eliminate life of any alignment, however.
      • Curiously, that's how things are in Normal CD&D reality. In the alternate Nightmare reality, it's Chaos (a.k.a. Freedom) that's generally on the side of the angels, and Law (there called Stasis) that's considered a menace.
    • The Neverwinter campaign setting can get like this with the right Game Master and playing the cynical side of Idealism vs. Cynicism. One interpretation of the campaign is do you let Lord Neverember rule knowing that he might use Neverwinter as a stepping stone to conquer the northern lands, or do you dethrone him and risk the rioting that could cause Neverwinter to never recover from the disasters? Tyranny or anarchy, take your pick.
    • Two products from Lamentations of the Flame Princess, publisher of "Old School Renaissance" supplements for older D&D games, redefine Law and Chaos:
      • Carcosa defines Law as "sworn enemies the Old Ones" and Chaos as "servants and allies of the Old Ones".
      • Their flagship RPG, Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Weird Fantasy Role Playing (whew!) defines Lawful beings as (oversimplifying a bit) conscious pawns in a cosmic plan, and Chaotic beings as those touched by magic, a random and amoral force that could overwhelm our so-called "reality" in the blink of an eye. Notably all Clerics must be Lawful, and all Magic-Users and Elves must be Chaotic.
  • In Magic the Gathering, the conflict between White and Red is the conflict between Order and Chaos.
    • And then there's some of the Guilds from the Ravnica set, which explore the mixing of the two in some interesting ways. The Boros Guild, Red/White, could almost be said to have taken a page from the notebook of Sam Vimes, Order himself.
      • This is taken a step further in the form of the Rakdos Guild. The Rakdos guild is the black, red guild; more or less a self-indulgent and frequently psychotically violent chaos incarnate. It is revealed that the entire reason the other nine Guilds allow the Rakdos to exist is to show to the non-guild citizens what a world without the guilds would be like. Furthermore, when a guild wants something done on a large scale that just isn't possible within their respected roles of the guildpact, they often commission the Rakdos to sow a little chaos and do it for them. Or, in the case of the Dimir, they set things up so the Rakdos take the blame.
  • Warhammer 40000 typically defines itself as Order vs. Chaos (or rather, Order vs. Disorder, seeing as how one of the factions in the universe is called Chaos). There is no real Good vs Evil. Although there are some individuals who could be considered good, as a whole the sides are basically Bad vs Worse.
    • However, Order does come off as a slightly lighter shade of black most of the time. Normal racial divisions are the Imperium, Eldar, and Tau for Order, and Chaos, Dark Eldar, and Orks for Disorder. Necrons and Tyranids are both off to the side a bit, but as Necron lore becomes more developed, they seem to be leaning towards Order.
    • The C'tan are essentially the Gods of Order, as they're the complete antithesis of the Chaos Gods. The Chaos Gods exist in the Warp while the C'tan are wholly physical beingsn (well, energy beings, but they have no connection to Warp whatsoever) The Chaos Gods can substitute reality with their own, while the C'tan have mastery over the laws of physics, allowing both to do seemingly magical things. The followers of the Chaos Gods tend to end up controlled by their emotions and become more and more mutated untill they turn into mindless Spawn, while the followers of the C'tan had their minds tranferred into unchanging metal bodies and became the soulless and emotionless Necrons. The ultimate goal of the Chaos Gods is to consume the galaxy in chaos by turning it into a giant warp rift, while the ultimate goal of the C'tan is to seal off the warp, turning every sentient being into soulless cattle for them to feed on.
    • Warhammer Fantasy Battle had both the Chaos gods and the Gods of Law, the later being obviously so obscure that they not only are barely mentioned, but pretty much absent from the main plot, although their followers are known to be extremistic. There's also several other gods who are either rather neutral, or that side against Chaos, but are not considered Gods of Order.
      • The Chaos Gods themselves do not simply represent Chaos; they represent corrupted Chaos. All Warp gods are affected by the emotions of their worshippers and all four Chaos gods personify, in part, something much more positive than their normal nature- Slaanesh is the God of Love, for instance, and Tzeentch the God of Hope. The reason they are Chaotic Evil rather than Chaotic Neutral or Chaotic Good is largely because the Warhammer universe is just that screwed up. The fact that all the other factions are about as Ax Crazy as each other is what makes Chaos the worst faction of the lot in the first place. Its not that there is no Good and Evil in this setting- it's that Evil exists, and it has won.
    • Similarly to the C'tan mentioned above, in the Fantasy setting perfect order can be seen in the undead armies, the Vampire Counts and Tomb Kings, legions of mindless servants who thoughtlessly serve their masters in "the perfect, unending order of undeath."
  • Winterweir has one of its main setting themes as the conflict between the Celestials (Order) and the Demons (Chaos) with neither side being especially good.
  • FATAL. It stresses that neither is actually related to good or evil. It also calls Order "ethical" and Chaos "unethical" in the Character Alignment section. You may clap sarcastically whenever you like.
  • In Traveller the Intersteller Wars are very much a war between "order" and "chaos" . The Vilani Empire is about ten thousand years old and has done almost nothing new in thousands of years. Yet at the same time it has highly refined all it's techniques and technology and has a political system designed to keep order. It is sometimes oppressive but it holds thousands of worlds together. The Terran Confederation has a more or less democratic order and it has large numbers of only half-controlled Intrepid Merchants and Space Cossacks pushing in to the Vilani Imperium.
    • By the time that most Traveller campaigns take place the interstellar wars are ancient history, the Terrans defeated the Vilani First Imperium and founded the Second Imperium which collapsed after less than 500 years. The Third Imperium is ruled by a blend of Vilani and Terrans Solomani and is a little more balanced than either of the last two.
    • The Zhodani and Vargr are more extreme examples of Order versus Chaos. Zhodani nobles use their psionics to maintain a vaguely Orwellain police state while the Vargr have a extremely fragmented society where authority is based on "Charisma".
  • In Tekumel Order and Chaos are called Stability and Change, respectively. They are not exactly at war, but they are often opposed. Interestingly, they tend to mirror each other. There's a Stability Sun Deity and a Change Sun Deity, for example. Neither is necessarily good or evil.


TV Tropes[edit | hide]

  • The epic struggle between SPOON and FORKS could be seen as this kind of conflict, with SPOON being order, and FORKS chaos. PLATTER and KNIVES represent two kinds of neutrality: balance and indifference, in respective order.


Videogames[edit | hide]

  • In the Metal Gear franchise, Solid Snake would do battle against both terrorists (representing chaos) and politicians (representing law), both of whom threatened to destroy the world with their war with each other.
  • The Witcher series has the main protagonist, Geralt of Rivia, choose sides in a civil-war, which pits humanity (representing law) and the elves, dwarves, and halflings (representing chaos). The first game allowed Geralt to go neutral, but the sequel doesn't give him such an option.
  • Ultima VII Part Two The Serpent's Isle. In the backstory, the forces of Order and the automatrons and the forces of Chaos and their beasts fought a war in which Order ended up destroying the Chaos side. Both Order and Chaos in their extremes are portayed as evil, and Order may come the worst off. Balance is the right path.
    • The virtue system in Seprents Isle is quite different from past games. Unlike the Britannia virtues, based on Infinity, Ophedian virtues are based on Order and Chaos. The Virtues of Order are Logic, Ethicality, and Discipline. The Virtues of Chaos are Emotion, Enthusiasm, and Tolerance.
      • However, unlike the virtues of Britannia, Ophedian virtues are not good by themselves and must be practiced with its opposite counterpart to achieve balance, otherwise, wrongs are committed, called Banes. The Banes of Order are Ruthlessness (Logic without Emotion), Apathy (Discipline without Enthusiasm) and Prejudice (Ethicallity without Tolerance). The Banes of Chaos are Insanity (Emotion without Logic), Wantonness (Enthusiasm without Discipline), and Anarchy (Tolerance without Ethicality). The Order and Chaos counterparts combined together form the Principles of Harmony (Tolerance and Ethicality), Dedication (Discipline and Enthusiasm), and Rationality (Logic and Emotion).
      • Halfway through the game, the Banes of Chaos possess three major party members, which in turn annihilate the three major cities, which were guilty of practicing the Banes of Order. The three main cities were also notable in that they practiced bastardized forms of the three major Britannia Principles, Truth, Love, and Courage. Monitor practiced a bastardized version of Courage and the Bane of Apathy. With their courage just being merely words and not true actions, they were wiped out by the Bane of Wantonness when he sent goblin hordes to attack Monitor. Fawn, worshipped Beauty, a bastardized version of Love, which caused them to commit the Bane of Prejudice to anything ugly. The Bane of Insanity killed the city with plague and flayed the city's priestess alive (the Avatar restores her however). Moonshade (a bastardized version of Britannia's Moonglow, the city of Honesty) is a city of half-truths where the truth is only good when convienant. This leads them to commit the Bane of Ruthlessness. When the Bane of Anarachy arrived, he had the town's inhabitants kill eachother.
  • Ogre Battle, Ogre Battle 64, and Tactics Ogre's alignment system.
  • Order and Chaos have been divided into separate worlds in The Longest Journey. Although generally both sides try to leave each other alone, sometimes someone gets it into their head that their side is the superior.
  • The Thief games have the Hammerites, a particularly militant group of Knight Templars, as Order, and the Pagans, a demon-worshipping underground Cult of shamans and hippies, as Chaos. Neither are portrayed as particularly nice. The protagonist, interestingly, could be considered a representation of balance: he's a thief, but his livelihood hinges pretty heavily on the institutions of the society he lives in, and he frequently steps in to keep things from going all to hell.
  • Shin Megami Tensei has this. In fact, several of them have both a Light/Dark and an Law/Chaos balance going on, and unlike most examples neither side is shown to be better than the other, often becoming two types of evil depending on the game (Neutral is generally treated better and is the canon ending in all instances of direct continuations), but just has different trade offs for humanity and demons.
    • It returned as a major mechanic in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, up to and including several bonuses (extra attack combos, price discounts when recruiting demons) and losses (failed negotiations, harder to contact successfully a demon of opposite alignment) depending upon your stance on Order and Chaos.
  • Catherine has a version of this, where it's actually Commitment versus Freedom as represented by Katherine and Catherine, respectively.
  • The entire premise of Primal was this. Arella was the literal personification of order. Her polar opposite is Abbadon, who has begun to tip the balance of power towards chaos.
  • Grandia II portrays the two Gods of the story (Granas and Valmar) as personifications of Order and Chaos, both supposedly created by humans who leaned too far one way or the other. It spells this out, very briefly, and the characters do not comprehend any of the implications. A little robot makes the remark in question. You see, Granas and Valmar were some ancient civilization's scientific researchers, who jointly discovered how to transmute matter and energy at will, i.e. the key to utopia, and promptly became as gods. Their partnership broke up when they realized their ideologies were split neatly along the line described by this trope -- Granas wanted a perfect world full of happy people who never experience anything negative; Valmar insisted that life is made interesting by conflict... so he started one. The details are foggy, but we do find out that the war ended with Granas down for the count and Valmar (or at least his giant bio weapon) still hanging around. Gameplay ensues.
  • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (and Path of Radiance, the direct prequel) have Ashera, the Goddess of Order and Yune, Goddess of Chaos.
  • If the words of a certain traitorous Bishounen priest are any indication, this may well turn out to be the most primal conflict in the Suikoden series. There are many ways one could wax fauxlosophic about this, but so far most of the writing on the wall seems to be margin notes. For instance, the conflict that created the Suiko-verse was between two embodiments of protection and destruction. Refreshingly, the series chastises both extremes, showing the horrors of "true Order" (dharma, in the words of the aforementioned priest) at least as often as the horrors of "true Chaos."
    • Indeed, the Empire of Holy Harmonia, the possible Big Bad of the game series, lives up to its name as the embodiment of strict order. On the other hand, recurring Psycho for Hire Yuber is Chaos's standard bearer (oddly enough, the two actually end up on the same side in at least one war).
      • It's also implied that Pesmerga, whose sole purpose in life seems to be to eliminate Yuber, is Yuber's counterpart on the side of Order. The two look very similar (including their all-black wardrobes), have swords with the same name, and despite their human appearance are apparently immortal demons of some sort.
    • While Suikoden Tierkreis isn't connected to the main series, it pits the hero against The Order Of The One True Way, an empire with clear parallels to Harmonia, just nastier and with plenty of Nightmare Fuel.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles is based around this trope. The Daedric Prince of Order and his forces periodically destroy the Shivering Isles, the realm of madness, creativity, and free will. The main quest of the game? To stop them this time.
    • The original division between Aedra and Daedra was based on their preference for order or chaos. The differences have evolved over the centuries and often does come across as simply good/evil, though.
      • Especially in the later games. In the earlier games they were pretty much all bastards.
      • Even with the Aedra representing Order and the Daedra representing Chaos it gets confusing in the end, however. Remember, the universe token god of Order is a Daedra, not an Aedra, which makes it even more complex of an issue. And even still in the later games, most Daedra, save for Mehrunes Dagon and Molag Bal, tend to get Pet the Dog moments in the games.
    • The concept of order versus chaos is actually the creation myth of Tamriel. In the beginning there was Sithis: A realm of pure chaos where all things were transient. But from the innumerable creations arose one thing that was not destroyed, Anu. Anu was a being of Stasis, unchanging and immune to Sithis. So Sithis birthed Padomay, Change, who merged with Anu and created the universe.
      • You've got that all mixed up. Padomay birthed Sithis, not the other way around. (Sithis is the soul of Padomay) and you completely left out Anuiel, who is The contrast to Sithis and the soul of Anu. Also, Padomay and Anu did not merge, it's the interplay of Anu and Padomay that allow all the possibilities of the Aurbis. Finally, Anu came first. As for Aedra/Daedra, the simplest way to distinguish them is the Aedra sacrificed parts of themselves to create the mortal world, and the Daedra did not.
  • The main villains of the game Anachronox are revealed to be a species devoted to Chaos, who were sent back to a former universe by a species devoted to Order—though not much is made of this, since the sequel was never made.
  • Mortal Kombat has the Order Realm/Seido, and the Chaos Realm, who are constantly at war with each other.
  • Dungeon Master features a group of heroes sent on a quest by Lord Order to defeat Lord Chaos. Complete the quest as stated and Lord Order thanks you, then murders you. To win, you have to defeat them both by merging them back into the one human they were originally created from.
  • Very much like the example above, Faery Tale Adventure 2: Halls of the Dead evokes the "too much of either is bad" version. The Big Bad is ostensibly the personification of Chaos, but destroying him will only serve to allow Order to achieve a perfectly ordered state by encasing the entire universe in lifeless crystal. Destroying Order likewise makes the world uninhabitable, for the opposite reason. The correct solution is to unify them, bringing harmony to the world again.
  • Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning had two factions: Order and Destruction (since one of the races is Chaos). With Empire, Dwarves and High Elves on one side and Chaos, Greenskins and Dark Elves on the other. However, it has somewhat been criticised for making the Order side a bit too 'Good', although that could just be in comparison to the pure baby-murdering evil that is Destruction.
  • In Disgaea, it becomes clear that this is the true conflict, and the idea that it's Good Versus Evil is some sort of in-universe ideal decay that has happened over millennia. Evidence of this is found in the fact that OTHER demons will chastize demons they see getting "too evil", e.g. Raspberyl's declaring Mao's intent to blow up the Earth, an act for scum. Also in the first game Etna insists on teaching Laharl kindness in her own warped demon way, and this trait was something she admired in his father.
  • The fourth game in the Heroes of Might and Magic series has this and Good Versus Evil (though it's worth noting that Chaos hates "Life" and Order equally, and Life feels the same about Chaos and "Death.") Order is borderline good, but a spell to protect against that alignment references "what the self-righteous are capable of." Chaos . . . is just evil. Sorry.
  • STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl has the very aptly named Duty vs. Freedom, Duty being a highly disciplined paramilitary organization that believes the world needs to be protected from the Zone, and Freedom being a loosely run band of stoners and anarchists who believe the Zone's gifts should be shared with the entire world.
  • The famous Green Rocks of Sonic the Hedgehog, are called the CHAOS Emeralds. They wasted a perfectly bland plot in the scrapped game, 'Sonic X-Treme' which would have featured the Rings of ORDER.
  • This is one of the pairs of faiths in Lords of Magic. Order is represented by the standard High Middle Ages style humans, Chaos is represented by barbarians.
  • This is the most important conflict of the Dept. Heaven series, where order is represented by the gods of Asgard and chaos by the Underworld and its demons. Both sides are far and away on the "extreme" end of what these things represent, and woe betide anyone who gets in the middle. Gray and Grey Morality also applies; the Big Bad of the series is a proxy of the gods, and the most messianic character who's appeared thus far is a demon.
    • Riviera: The Promised Land has its hero Ein find a happy medium by telling both sides of the conflict where they can stick it if they're going to keep recklessly endangering the lives of ordinary mortal people in neutral territory for their own selfish warring.
    • Yggdra Union and Blaze Union both deal with mortal affairs more than the huge conflict going on in the background, but they go a long way towards establishing the powers that be on both sides as incredibly callous. The antagonist of these games was born to be one of Asgard's soldiers, and was punished horribly for refusing to go to war and asserting his free will despite being what was considered a subhuman class, then exiled to a mortal world—and then completely ignored, even as he started manipulating events on that world for the sake of revenge. (These games, by the way, are the one with the messianic demon.)
    • Knights in The Nightmare explains that the conflict between the forces of order and chaos has been so bad that a lot of worlds have neutral arbitrators to keep their fighting from damaging mortal worlds.
  • Lego Universe doesn't exactly have "order," but Imagination is a channeled chaos, pitted against the completely unfettered Maelstrom. The distinction is similar to that between building a tower of Legos out of bricks from a dozen different sets, and smashing the tower to bits.
  • Though it (possibly) started out as an Good vs. Evil affair, the revelation of Soul Calibur's true intent in SoulCalibur IV (to force the world into a state of peace and safety by crystallizing all its inhabitants) causes its conflict with Soul Edge to fall into this (because it slips into a "no matter who wins, we all lose" scenario). Fan theory suggests that this happened over the course of the series, rather than Soul Calibur having such a twisted objective from the start.
    • The closest we have to Word of God on the matter is that Soul Calibur was originally just as evil as Soul Edge, from whence it came, because Algol's Blue and Orange Morality gave its spirit no moral compass besides a directive to destroy Soul Edge at all costs. The sword's evil was eventually quieted and purged by its keepers (who are all long dead now), and is speculated to have re-awakened after Soul Calibur was temporarily trapped within Soul Edge. Unlike a lot of video game examples of this trope, merging the swords together is a very bad idea, creating a godlike Eldritch Abomination that is pure evil.
  • Portal 2 plays the conflict between Master Computer GLaDOS and whimsical AI sidekick Wheatley as less Evil vs. Good and more as the aspect of game theory that pits a perfectly logical, experienced player against a completely random one who has no idea what he's doing, what the rules are, what the win condition is, etcetera. The random player can win not because he's good at the game, but because he's so unpredictable that the logical player cannot anticipate his moves. In fact, later in the game, Wheatley does a better job of being an actual antagonist than GLaDOS ever did. Interestingly, the randomness doesn't always work in his favour because, well, it's random. Even his "triumph" would have meant that everyone lost by dying, instead of just him losing by being deposed.
  • In The Colour Tuesday, the Others keep everything in a state of mind controlled order so as to prey on humans. This makes the rebellious Alex a perfect candidate for trying to break the Others' control.
  • In World of Warcraft, the Titans aren't so much "good" as "ordered", and do some pretty morally questionable things in order to keep the balance. It's much the same story with the Bronze Dragonflight, who guard the timeline and are always making sure things happen, including some rather horrible things, because they're supposed to happen.
  • Kirby and Meta Knight often fall into this, with the former being carefree and chaotic (often causing a lot of trouble) and the latter imposing extreme order (often in an effort to counteract that trouble).
  • In Final Fantasy III, Order is not necessarily always good, and Chaos is not always evil. Balance is found in that world through light and darkness, but if either side gets too powerful, four warriors from the opposite side are chosen to wield their respective Crystals and restore the balance. In the game, you play as the Four Warriors of Light trying to balance out the forces of Darkness using the Light Crystals, but then you eventually learn that there were once Four Warriors of Darkness who balanced out the forces of Light using Dark Crystals.
  • In the first Mass Effect game, Sovereign claims that the Reapers "impose order on the chaos of organic evolution". Two games later, a downed Reaper says something similar, arguing to Shepard that harvesting organics and uploading them into new Reaper shells is the only way to "preserve" them. Otherwise, they will eventually create synthetics that have the power to destroy them. This turns out to be the purpose of the unthinkably old AI overseeing the whole cycle.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • In The Wotch, the heroine is specifically said to be an avatar of Chaos, and the villain an avatar of Order, despite being named Xaos (pronounced "Chaos").
  • This Dominic Deegan: Oracle For Hire strip sums up the basics of this conflict.
  • PS238 does this, complete with angels of order and demons of chaos—this, along with the fact that their conflicts are "mostly political nowadays", may be explained by the fact that PS238 is intended as a children's comic.
    • Nodwick, from the same author, once featured a split-personality god whose Orderly and Chaotic halves - and the worshippers of those halves - simply couldn't get along. Even Piffany, the ultimate Morality Pet, couldn't get them to work together for more than a week or two before the mayhem started again.
  • When faced with the moral quandary of whether to save his traitorous brother, Elan in Order of the Stick tries taking the problem as a Good vs. Evil scenario, but fails. Then he tries Law vs. Chaos. It doesn't work either.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court appears to be detailing a conflict of this nature, the Court representing order and Gillitie Wood chaos.
  • Indefensible Positions (a finished webcomic) is largely about a group of heroes dealing with a war between Idiotic Order and Idiotic Chaos Knight Templar demigods. The issue with having "Forces of Chaos" is referred to when one of the main characters says to the Chaotic demigod, "I will serve Chaos"—then adds under his breath, "but not you".
  • Last Res0rt dances around this with the Chaotic Djinni-si (a collection of vampires, shapeshifters, telepaths, and other things that go Bump in the Night) and the Orderly Celeste (a hybrid species of angels and demons who are "often" associated with the good side, even though they're collectively the Villain with Good Publicity).
    • Ironically, the main Big Bad, Veled, is a Celeste best defined as a force of Chaos and Evil.
    • Word of God also says that the bullethole-and-skull logo of Last Res0rt is actually named "Chaos". No clue what an alternate logo for "Order" might look like...
  • Most of the conflict in Juathuur boils down to this (with Meidar and Arvval on the order side, and Juar and Faevv on the chaos side).
  • In Apple Valley, most of the 'heroes' are of a chaotic alignment (it even says so on their character sheets), while a majority of the villians all belong to various orderly organizations. It probably doesn't help that the main character is the chosen keeper of The Apple of Discord, either.


Web Originals[edit | hide]

  • In AH Dot Com the Series, it was revealed at the end of the fourth season that the multiverse is the stage for a continuous cosmic war between the Hub Lords (Order) and the Alien Space Bats (Chaos), which continues even through successive Big Bangs and Crunches and new universes being born.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Codename: Kids Next Door had the Delightful Children From Down the Lane and their Father as Evil Order, and more widely, the adult world in general. Interestingly, the KND could themselves be highly Knight Templar-ish, erasing the memories of their own operatives once they got "too old".
  • To quote The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, "The world has almost completely fallen into order. It's up to us to restore chaos." Eris, the goddess of chaos, is a recurring character. The one time she was ever calm, life was becoming so routine that it might as well not exist. However, her plans are as chaotic as she is, varying from pranks to antagonizing people to massive upheaval of all life, and involving everything from brainwashing dolls to giant flying babies to giant alien zombie lobsters.
  • Aeon Flux is all about order vs. chaos to the point of being a gender-flipped version of Moorcock's Cornelius stories, with Aeon as chaos/Jerry and Trevor as order/Miss Brunner.
  • Re Boot has a case of Evil Versus Evil, as Hexadecimal is The Queen of Chaos and Megabyte represents Order in the form of tyranny. Daemon represents an even more extreme form of Order: oblivion.
    • Though Hexadecimal isn't exactly "Evil"...she just IS. She'll do whatever pops into her head. Megabyte is a scheming power hungry megalomaniac... Hex is a a force of nature. Which perhaps explains why, even when she was chained up, he was still scared of her...
  • In The Simpsons, Bart is Chaos while Lisa is Order. In one of the Simpsons comics (Issue 111) the kids represented them even.
  • On Batman: The Brave And The Bold, Equinox has the powers of both Order and Chaos Magic. Eventually it's revealed that the Lords of Order and the Lords of Chaos made a deal, tasking him to keep balance between the two forces. Finding his impossible, he decided to restart the universe from scratch.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is weird about this trope. In place of standard Order, it has "Harmony," which emphasizes unity and compromise rather than strict discipline. Opposing it is "Disharmony," which is occasionally referred to as Chaos, but in practice is more like arbitrariness. Discord, its primary representative so far, acts according to random whims, but he flies into a rage whenever a Spanner in the Works impedes those whims in any way, rejecting any chaos other than his own.
    • The fan works typically make more use of this than the TV show itself, most notably in the background characters. You have the obviously chaotic ones, or at least the ones most closely associated with any form of chaos (those usually being Derpy Hooves, Vinyl Scratch/DJ Pon-3, and Lyra Heartstrings), and you have their opposites, the ones portrayed as the more level-headed, orderly ponies (respectively, those usually being Doctor Whooves or Carrot Top/Golden Harvest, Octavia, and Bon-Bon). More often than not, you will typically find them serving as foils to each other in many a fanfiction, fan comic, or fan video.
  • Subverted in Phineas and Ferb. Candace thinks of herself as representing order but her own behavior is at least as chaotic as the boys. Played straighter with the OWCA versus the whimsically evil Doofenshmitrz.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Although naming historic examples may be a bit controversial, science does give us an interesting subversion in the thermodynamic property of Entropy. Entropy is sometimes defined as the amount of disorder or chaos in a system. However, a "chaotic" system (of molecules, for instance) is hypothetically uniform. In other words, an arrangement of molecules equally spaced out so you could make a grid out of them is more "chaotic" than a random or haphazard arrangement of molecules.
    • The idea here is that the uniform arrangement is the way the universe naturally behaves, so a random or nonuniform arrangement must have been unnatural, i.e. made that way. A system being "made that way" brings to mind "order", so the opposite is logically chaos. Needless to say, this clashes with the typical idea people have of order being the same thing as uniformity.
    • Wait a minute, if the molecules are equally spaced and staying that way, isn't that a perfect crystal at zero temperature? And doesn't a perfect crystal at zero temperature have zero entropy?
      • Even in a perfect crystal, there are still vibrations. Also, it's not in a thermodynamic system, so thermodynamics do not apply. Entropy in statistical mechanics (which is to thermodynamics as GR/SR are to Newtonian dynamics) is actually the most likely configuration. It is what, outside of some external ordering force, any statistical system is likely to default to.
  • Real life asymmetric/guerilla wars tend to be this trope. Although the chaos is usually less of a choice than in most fiction, and more of a necessity, born from a lack of options.
  • This is what sometimes happens to Anarcho-communist organizations, and it also happens to other organizations, such as WikiLeaks. The Love And Rage Network, for example, did what other Anarcho-communists call great things, but some of the most powerful, central collectives wanted to turn the network into a federation, meaning a more centralized, formal organization. At this point the Love And Rage Network was pretty much toast. The Crimethinc Ex-Workers collective produced a lot of material, such as Rolling Thunder and Recipes for Disaster, but they've expelled the traveler kids and announcement contains a lot of unfamiliar words and phrases and some quite frankly ominous nonsense. Anarcho-communists sometimes complain about how just being a delegate somewhat makes someone into the boss of the others, that alleged "consensus decision making" involves a cabal working in secret on a proposal for eight months and then having the public rubber-stamp it by offering them 45 minutes to discuss the proposal, and some are reportedly working on "branding" (read: doing the ad-agency thing to) Anarcho-communism. Anarcho-communists have had an extremely bizarre relationship with other forms of anti-capitalism during the entire history of both Anarcho-communism and other forms of anti-capitalism both existing. For example, Anarcho-communists report that other people that consider themselves to be Anarcho-communists work in some collectives because they are considered to be "the only game in town", where Marxist Party members are assigned fellow non-Party collective members to "work on". Party members show up to vote in the collective's decision-making process, to work on non-Party fellow collective members, and that's pretty much it - the bulk of actual effort is done by non-Party collective members. Anarcho-communists have also unfavorably compared the Lower East Side Collective to the Borg. The conduct of Anarcho-communist organizations sometimes becomes more Marxist. For example, there's these little red or black fists in their symbols, and their words become more strewn with exclamation points, Marxist glittering generalities such as "revolution" and "the People" or even "the Proletariat", jargon, drawings (read: cartoons) of people shouting, and just generally more passionate (read: excitable) and uptight. In the Spanish Civil War, something similar happened: the Marxists got into a power struggle inside the Republican side against the Anarchists. That which are admitted to be the Nationalists won. Even in Marxism, the same thing happened: the Mensheviks were the part of the Marxist movement in Russia that passed for Left-libertarianism, and then the Bolsheviks won a power struggle and cracked down on them. Something like this also happened to WikiLeaks, according to Wikipedia: WikiLeaks now spies on private persons with which they presumably have no quarrel, they have become more closed to the public, by which I mean they've abandoned the "edited and discussed by anyone" model and taken up the traditional "this is what we have to say to you, now take it or leave it" model. WikiLeaks also became more centralized, and ironically or hypocritically, more secretive. I'm not saying right now becoming a workplace dictatorship is or is not the destiny of all of anti-capitalism and of whistle-blowers, but apparently it sometimes happen.