Pay Evil Unto Evil

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

    Carnahan: What about the guys that were convicted of rape? Can we rape them?
    Stan: Rape the rapists; seems appropriate, punishment fitting the crime and all; go ahead.


    So the character descends upon the settlement, burns their buildings, kills the inhabitants, takes their money and resources, and leaves, pleased that now he'll be able to buy that shiny new whatever he was wanting.

    Is this the new Big Bad? No! It's the Hero! ...oh wait, did I forget to mention that it was a settlement of bandits? Right. So it's okay then.

    Welcome to a special kind of morality where otherwise evil actions are considered okay because the victims deserved it. Of course, this can be played straight, subverted, deconstructed, or left disquietingly gray depending on the author. Occasionally shares space with Evil Versus Evil... it's the Evil who only does this one that's supposed to be rooted for as opposed to the Evil that does this to innocents. This one's very common with Revenge stories in general, since revenge at its core is essentially Paying Evil Unto Evil.

    Expect an extra heavy Villain Ball complete with kicking dogs by the Asshole Victim if the author especially wants you to know it's okay. Also the plot often tries to justify this as "people whom the law let get away." Expect What the Hell, Hero? when lampshaded. The villain may also call out a Not So Different speech at the "hero" as a final insult.

    Sometimes this is done retroactively. If the hero does something incredibly horrible to someone, it will then be revealed that this person was really evil all along.

    Often gains an Inspector Javert opponent, whose rightness depends from case to case.

    It is also a common and effective way to give a Sympathetic POV to a Villain Protagonist in works with Grey and Black Morality.

    Contrast with If You Kill Him You Will Be Just Like Him and The Farmer and the Viper. May overlap with Disproportionate Retribution. When a character takes this Trope too far, it becomes Knight Templar.

    See also Vigilante Man, Exclusively Evil, Just Like Robin Hood, He Who Fights Monsters, Serial Killer Killer, Wife-Basher Basher, Nineties Anti-Hero, Lovable Rogue, Bully Hunter, Good Is Not Soft, Unscrupulous Hero, and Karmic Thief.

    Examples of Pay Evil Unto Evil include:

    Anime and Manga

    • Kenshiro prefers to let the villains that he punishes feel the agony of the victims they butchered as he sends them to the afterlife in Fist of the North Star, letting the punishment fit the crime. Since they are rapists and child-killers, you don't need to feel any guilt laughing at them as they beg like dogs for their worthless lives.
      • It was pointed out in the very beginning that Hokuto Shinken was never really designed to be used on so many people, precisely because it is so cruel.
    • Lina Inverse of Slayers uses this trope to justify blowing up bandits and taking their cash. Many in her world consider her worse than the bandits because of the resulting of property damage, to the point her friends are never too surprised when she actually does get in trouble with the authorities.
      • At the very beginning Slayers Revolution, she actually takes her bandit-hunting to the high seas, hunting pirates instead, because bandits are now quite literally on the verge of extinction and it's hard for her to find any more to hunt.
      • To illustrate the last sentence above, that series also begins with her being arrested for the crime of "being Lina Inverse," and no one sticks up for her. (It isn't as if they can deny the charge, though.)
    • Lupin III lives and breathes this.
    • Alucard in Hellsing is a perfect example (especially in the manga/OVA). He's a complete monster, and he acknowledges it, even reveling in it; sometimes he actively prolongs someone's death, just for the fun of it. However, Integra frequently tells him to destroy anything in his way, even though she knows his methods. Admittedly, fewer people would have qualms about doing horrible things to Nazis. Or Enrico Maxwell and his Iscariot agents.
    • Ranma ½ is full of Jerkass characters, so there's rarely a shortage of asshole victims. One particular instance occurs after Ranma has mastered the Hiryuu Shoten-Ha, which he's trying to use against Happousai. Mousse, Kuno, Principal Kuno and Gosunkugi all charge into the battle to take on Ranma as well; nice guy that he is, Ranma hesitates to use his new attack out of concern they'll all be caught in the massive blast. Then Ranma remembers how the same four characters had earlier viciously ganged up on him when he was too weak to defend himself. He promptly launches the attack.
    • Nami from One Piece, although not evil, stole from other pirates to pay off the ones who'd taken over her town and inducted her into their crew. She did not at this point consider herself a pirate, as that would have been giving in.
    • In Code Geass, Lelouch turns a terrorist group into rebels with good publicity by convincing them to attack anyone who abuses power and harms the innocent, as opposed to simply attacking the government and letting Britannian casualties fall where they would, as they had in the past. This is important in episode 8 where his group debuts as the Black Knights, as their opponent is a member of another Japanese resistance group who was killing Britannian civilians just to prove that Japan was still alive and fighting.
      • Lelouch has an infamous line in the second series: "I commit evil to fight the greater evil!" which more or less sums it up. However, he is willing to commit hypocrisy on this regard if it will serve the interest of his goal.
    • Thoroughly deconstructed in Monster, although it is played straight in the first couple of episodes when Tenma, in a fit of rage, declares that his superiors should die. They indeed do so, whereupon the trope is deconstructed since it is the audience, not the characters, who wholeheartedly approve of the act.
    • The titular Akumetsu's modus operandi. Corrupt politicians get buried in bridges, injected with tainted medicine, thrown off buildings, shot, or just hacked to death with an axe.
      • So much Nightmare Fuel. The last 'normal' Akumetsu he does involves entombing alive an old guy whose sin was apparently not being corrupt or evil or twisted but really liking highways, and building unnecessary ones with public monies. Not only that, the old guy doesn't even get the chance to go out in privacy, he has to deal with a camera and a smirking Akumetsu who's just going to have his consciousness copied into a new body when he dies, and so isn't actually sacrificing much. Good thing the yakuza weighed in at this point.
      • The axe guy on the other hand was repulsive in every possible way, and made a pretty good debut. Given our viewpoint character was the first-day-as-a-teen-prostitute girl he was making lick his sweaty feet when Akumetsu came in, we were so glad to see his head split.
    • Death Note: Light Yagami murders dozens of people on a daily basis in spasms of Unholy Satanic Glee because they're criminals, or someone said they're criminals... or because they were trying to catch him (and hence are 'evil').
      • L locks people up in solitary confinement and uses sensory deprivation on them for months on end in order to get a confession, and he has few qualms about letting a few dozen people die in order to catch his man (although when presented with a less objectionable option, he did accept it with enthusiasm of an undetermined sincerity level).
      • Mikami Teru believed this even without the super-temptation book of When All You Have Is a Hammer. When he got was efficient, and tidy, and horrible.
    • Bullying back the bullies (with some murder thrown in for good measure) is pretty much the reason why Lucy became... like that.
    • Roberta from Black Lagoon tried to be a good person, but once her benefactor that she admired was killed, she snapped. Really snapped. And went gunning straight for the people who were responsible.
    • In Mai-Otome, Tomoe was probably the greatest Complete Monster in the series, up to arranging an Attempted Rape on Arika because she saw her as a threat to her True Love for Shizuru. When Tomoe finally joined the enemy, she was "rewarded" with Shizuru as a Sex Slave, a job which Shizuru not only wanted (because it put her where she needed to be for the Grand Finale) but thoroughly enjoyed while she had it. When it came time for the finale, Shizuru openly told Tomoe that, yes, she'd been using Tomoe the whole way, and maybe that would teach Tomoe not to play with people's emotions. If Tomoe had been an ounce less evil, that would have come across as unforgivably vile behavior.
    • In Rurouni Kenshin, the philosophy of Historical Domain Character Saito Hajime, "Aku Soku Zan", can be loosely translated as "Slay Evil Immediately". A great many evildoers that crossed him didn't survive the experience.
      • At the beginning of the series, he's a police officer with apparently a covert license to kill, offing a corrupt official. He's like a saner Kurogasa, really, without the nihilism. (The real Saitou spent a considerable period with the police, but he appears to have been quite an ordinary member of the force.) Later on of course he gets to kill real nasties like Usui.
    • The basic premise of the assassin organization Weiss Kreuz is to commit sinful murders to "deny these evil beasts their tomorrows."
    • Ash and friends are normally perfectly content to allow the Big Bad to be quietly arrested, but in dealing with Grings Kodai, the Big Bad of Pokémon Zoroark Master of Illusions, they, and even the cops, arranged for him to watch as his Evil Gloating is broadcast live on his own TV station, pretty much forcing him to watch his public humiliation. While harsh for them, Kodai was an absolute Complete Monster who committed the anime's first true murder of a Pokémon and electrocuted a BABY right in front of its mother with no remorse.
    • Invoked by Yuu from Holyland before he fights Taka in Masaki's stead. "All I know is that I will answer malice... with violence."
    • After he stops killing clones en masse in a "level up" experiment Accelerator from A Certain Magical Index pretty much decides on this when dealing with anyone he sees harming innocent people. usually ending in a swift or painful death, and he holds little remorse for it.
    • As Ogami Rei's motto states "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, evil for evil".
    • In Toriko, Zebra of the Four Emperors was imprisoned fro life for single-handedly hunting 26 different species to extinction. However, we later find out that they all messed up the ecosystems they were in, and quite possibly they were vicious, mindless living weapons sent there by an enemy.
    • Happens in some hentai plots.
      • Sometimes is done TO the rapist. Others is done BY the rapist:
      • In Anette XXX two girls harassed and bullied her little brothers for all their lives. The two guys conspire to rape each other's sister.
    • In Saint Beast, purging angels is about the worst thing you can do to them and Zeus does it to make heaven pure.

    Comic Books

    • This is the justification of The Punisher who brutally guns down criminals. How this is received depends on where in the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism the comic he's appearing in is.
      • The Marvel MAX arc, "The Slavers". In it, Castle's fighting a group of war criminals turned human traffickers. That guy he douses with fuel and is about to set alight was one of the three ringleaders of the operation. Let's just say Castle spends the rest of the arc using other inventive methods to mete out payback.
      • Lampshaded in one comic where a victim that he left helpless in a gasoline doused house is screaming that he's no different from her. The Punisher turns back to the mansion with a grenade, calmly replies "Tell me something I don't know," and pulls the pin.
    • Jason Todd tended toward this attitude during his career as Robin. Since he came Back from the Dead Dead Sidekick, he's denied Batman's Thou Shalt Not Kill rule and considers himself Batman as he should be.
      • This is shown even more in Batman: Under the Red Hood. It starts with Joker beating Jason senselessly with a crowbar, and then killing him with a bomb. It ends with Jason beating Joker back with a crowbar, and then attempting to kill him with a bomb!

    Jason: I'm not talking about killing Penguin, or Scarecrow, or Dent...I'm talking about him. Just him! And doing it because...he took me away from you.

    • Every time Magneto clashes with anti-mutant hate groups.
    • So according to Wikipedia when Bart Allen recently ended his tenure as the Flash by dying, Wally West reappeared and took down Bart's nemesis Inertia. The punishment? Wally froze Inertia in time, but left his mind running. Then he stuck him on display in the Flash Museum forcing Inertia to forever STARE at statues of Bart. How is that NOT cruel and unusual?
    • Marv of Sin City inflicts on various criminals horrible torture which would maybe even make Jack Bauer sick. He's kind of like Dexter in being a pretty messed up person himself.
    • Rorschach from Watchmen has this as his MO, although he ranks sex along with murder on the scale of morality, and proceeds to break a guy's fingers just for calling attention to the fact that he is, uh, hygienically challenged.
      • To provide some context, he'd gone into an apparently-random dive bar to try and get information out of the patrons, and the crack about his hygiene was why he picked on that particular guy. (This worked about as well as you might expect.)
      • And in his monologues he implies that this is his standard method for gathering information: walk into some underworld dive, and break bones of random people until someone confesses something.
      • Granted the Guy is Ax Crazy, so we're not supposed to think it's okay.
      • A clearer example is the incident that drives Rorschach Ax Crazy. He tracks a child abductor/molester to his home, only to find out that the abductor has murdered the little girl he kidnapped, chopped her into pieces, and fed her to his dogs. Rorschach responds by killing the guy's dogs, waiting for him to return home, throwing his dead dogs at him, beating him half to death, then handcuffing him in place and killing him as he screams for mercy and begs to simply be arrested (the method differs here; in the original comic, he burns the place down, frying the man alive, while in the movie, he simply splits the guy's head open repeatedly with a cleaver as he shouts, "Men get arrested...dogs get put down!")
    • In Miracleman, Johnny Bates performs his final transformation into Kid Miracleman while being raped by a bully, then spends about three seconds paying evil unto evil before paying evil unto just about everyone else.
    • One of the Ghost Rider's powers is the penance stare; he can cause a villain exactly as much pain as the villain has inflicted upon innocents. Usually, this ends up leaving the villain catatonic.
    • Daredevil does this to Bullseye when he attacks Hell's Kitchen again. His solution? Break his arms and impale him with a sai. Also functions as a Karmic Death after what happened with Elektra.
    • Back in the 1970s comics, Superman in his Clark Kent persona had a co-worker named Steve Lombard, who was a little bit of a bully, generally in the form of "practical jokes" such as using a fountain pen to spray ink all over someone's face. For reasons one hopes are obvious, they tended to backfire when he attempted to pull them on Clark (or anyone else when Clark was around). Not very high on the evil scale, of course, but without Steve's initial malicious intent Superman would have quickly come to look like a first-class jerk.
    • In American Vampire, you have Pearl's revenge on the Hollywood Coven. Not to mention what Hattie ends up doing to the vamps keeping her prisoner...
    • What is considered Cyclops' Moral Event Horizon by many is when he formed X-Force to do this. To provide context, following Decimation, the Purifiers had started a war against what was left of the worlds mutants, almost all of whom had taken refuge in the X-Mansion. They started by attacking the children, brutally murdering many and causing a lot of pain to many, driving Dust to question her faith. When Hope was born and people realized that she's the mutant Messiah, The Purifiers decide to kill her, so Cyclops formed X-Force and sent them out to stop them, any means necessary. The team basically goes around killing Complete Monsters who pose great risk to the rest of the mutant population or humanity in general. Once Mutant births start happening again and people start developing mutant powers following the death of Purifier leader Bastion, Cyclops disbands them so they can go back to the way things were. Many still consider this a dick move of his, but in retrospect, had he not done this, many more would have died and the Purifiers may have in fact killed them all. In Universe, however, many still dislike him doing this, but it mostly boils down to him not telling anyone about it.
    • In the Nineties Anti-Hero version Morbius the Living Vampire uses this as a solution to slake his bloodthirst, figuring that if he needs to kill, he'll kill serious criminals.

    Fan Works

    • Nobody Dies has Rei (yes, that Rei) executing very cruel tricks on people who mess with her friends. Other than her love of blackmail, her most cruel thing was to film Kyoko Zeppelin getting it on with her ex-husband in a storage closet during the school dance then put the footage on Youtube. And Yui forbid taking it down. Why? The bitch ruined her daughter's happiest moment in life out of sadism. Rei had to be specifically ordered to leave Kyoko alone when it looked like as if she was regularly beating Asuka (even though no one liked this order one bit, Misato had to be physically restrained from issuing a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown). It helps that everyone is apeshit afraid of Rei and she knows it very well.

    Rei: Asuka is my friend and if you touch her... (psychotic grin) I touch you. 'Kay?



    • A common perception of Wydell's actions towards the Villain Protagonists of The Devil's Rejects. Yes, what Wydell did was to embrace He Who Fights Monsters to Anvilicious extremes, but, on the other hand, the people he was horrificially abusing and butchering were Complete Monsters with a years, if not decades, long history of torture, rape and serial killing.
    • In Dead Man's Shoes, the Anti-Hero Richard comes back to his town to take bloody revenge on the people who bullied his brother when they were younger, killing them brutally one by one. The film is interspersed with disturbing flashbacks showing what they did, any of which could explain the extent of Richard's fury, culminating in the most horrific: they drive him out into the country, literally torture him and abandon him with a rope around his neck that he uses to hang himself. The brother, who had appeared as a character throughout the film, was Dead All Along. However, whilst the bullies were indeed monstrous, we're not entirely expected to agree with Richard's actions - and in the final scene, Richard acknowledges that the things he's done have been terrible.
    • In Dogville, a woman on the run from the mob is reluctantly accepted in a small Colorado town. In exchange, she agrees to work for them. As a search visits town, however, they force her to do more chores within the same time, for less pay. The townspeople then start treating her like a slave, raping and abusing her. Unfortunately for them, she turns out to be the daughter of a mob boss - and the townspeople have lost all chance of her forgiveness...
    • The Boondock Saints believe in this. It's arguable whether their actions and success are a result of divine intervention or just plain dumb luck - but either way, you do not mess with the MacManus brothers.
    • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Blondie is only "the Good" because he shows some mercy (and most of his ruthless acts are retaliation...).
    • Speaking of Clint Eastwood, High Plains Drifter is an entire movie devoted to this trope.
      • If you find yourself in a movie where Eastwood's character doesn't have a name, you should probably run like hell.
    • Subverted (albeit in a rather Narmy way) in Attack of the Clones, where Anakin's massacre of a Sand People settlement (women and children included) is considered a very bad thing. The Sand People are presented in the film series as Exclusively Evil raiders, but the viewers are expected to understand that Anakin's Unstoppable Rage is the start of his path to the Dark Side. In the expanded universe, the Sand People are portrayed more sympathetically, supporting Anakin's grief over his actions.
      • Subverted more clearly in Revenge of the Sith... Tusken Raiders are portrayed as Exclusively Evil "as a group" but Nute Gunray and his minions are portrayed as evil "as individuals." However, Anakin's eagerness to kill them is portrayed as alarming nonetheless. There still does seem to be SOME trace of this trope present; Anakin's killing of Nute and his minions is shown on screen, whereas Anakin's massacre of the innocent children in the Jedi temple is not.
    • What Jigsaw perceives to be his modus operandi in the Saw series. Of course, when you're taking people who don't appreciate their lives and killing them with methods of steadily escalating atrocity, maybe the message doesn't come across so clearly.
    • Part of the premise of Law Abiding Citizen.
    • In Mad Max, Max gives Johnny the Boy a Life or Limb Decision, handcuffing his ankle to a wrecked vehicle and setting a crude time-delay fuse. It's all a part of his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
    • In John Wayne's The Cowboys, the evil guy is finally defeated by the young boys. Instead of just shooting him dead (as he deserved), the boys leave him attached to a horse by the ankle and send the horse off running, with him dragging on the ground.
    • Wild Wild West Dr. Arless Loveless is a racist bigot who is constantly making racial slurs and jokes against Will Smith's Jim West. He's also lost his entire body below the waist, so James West responds by making "short" jokes about him.
    • The protagonist of Grosse Pointe Blank uses this as justification for his career as a hitman. He comments that the files on most of his targets read like a demon's CV, and says 'If I show up at your door, chances are you did something to bring me there'.
    • The title group in Inglourious Basterds would be tried for war crimes and hanged for what they did in France. Such crimes include but are not limited to: murdering soldiers, beating them to death with baseball bats, scalping their corpses, permanently scarring survivors for life, shooting into crowds of unarmed citizens, and suicide bombing a crowded theater. However, it's all okay, because they're committing all these atrocious acts on the Nazis!
    • Much of X-Men: First Class is composed of Erik (later Magneto) doing this. He's Jewish, as a child he and his family are sent to Auschwitz, and a Nazi there (who we later find out is the mutant Sebastian Shaw) murders Erik's mother when Erik is unable to use his (latent) powers. As an adult, the first part of the film has Erik hunting down, torturing and murdering Nazis and their supporters. At the end of the movie he gives Shaw a very Karmic Death - the film clearly intends it to be a Jumping Off the Slippery Slope moment, but Shaw's such a Complete Monster that much of the audience is inclined to cheer Erik on for doing it, especially as there's also little reason to believe Shaw could be safely captured. And then the US and Soviet militaries try to murder the mutants who just saved them from nuclear war, and Erik turns their missiles back on them. Paying evil to evil is basically his personal philosophy, contrasting with Charles' pay-good-unto-evil-and-maybe-they'll-have-a-change-of-heart ethos (and influenced by the fact that Erik's seen a lot more of evil than Charles has at this point), and it's a substantial part of what ultimately separates them.
    • The book and movie A Time to Kill are about a father who kills the two men who raped his ten-year-old daughter, before they have even been brought to trial. He was afraid that they would be acquitted, despite being caught red-handed, because they were white and his daughter was black. It was set in The Deep South, after all. The daughter's father throughout expresses no remorse, even loudly declaring in court, "Yes they deserved to die, and I hope they burn in hell!"

    Lucien Wilbanks (to Defense counsel Brigance): If you win this case, justice will prevail. But if you lose, justice will also prevail. Now that is a strange case.

    • Subverted rather well in The Magnificent Seven: Calvera, the movie's Big Bad, who corners the seven and lets them go by taking their weapons and riding them out of town. His justification? An old Mexican quote: "A thief who steals from another thief is pardoned for a hundred years." Of course, he assumed that they were just Hired Guns who'd skip town the moment they were paid...By the end of the film, Calvera finds his assumptions were very, very, wrong.
    • In Outrage, Robert Preston plays the father of a woman who is raped and murdered, by a man who ends up getting away with the crime on a technicality. After this incident causes his wife so much grief that she dies, he hunts down the man and shoots him dead, then calmly drives to the police station and turns himself in.
    • Taken is 90 minutes of this. In most other films, the protagonist doing things like jamming rusty nails into a villain's thighs and then leaving them to be electrocuted to death would be something that disgusts the audience into reviling said protagonist. But when said villain is a human trafficker who kidnaps teenage girls, addicts them to drugs and then sells them to be prostitutes and sex slaves and is planning to do so to the protagonist's daughter, you find yourself cheering instead.
    • Near the end of Star Trek: Insurrection, Picard has managed to keep the Son'a leader Ru'afo off his back long enough to trigger the self-destruct of the Phlebotinum collector. The Enterprise, the sensors of which have been depicted moments earlier as sensitive enough to identify a lone Klingon on an entire battleship, flies past the exploding collector and beams off Picard... but not Ru'afo, who must have been detected when the transporter operator scanned the collector to locate Picard. But it's okay to leave someone to certain death when he's plotted to destroy an entire race and killed a Starfleet admiral.
      • ... This is Star Trek. Large body counts shouldn't really be Moral Dissonance anymore.
      • Refreshingly averted in the 2009 Star Trek film. Nero has just spent the whole time running around slaughtering everyone in his path and blowing up a planet on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. That doesn't stop Kirk from offering to save him and his men when the Narada is being disintegrated into an artificially-created Negative Space Wedgie. Nero declines the offer, whereupon Kirk orders the Enterprise to hasten/ensure his passing.
    • This is the premise of the movie Paparazzi, and the film portrays the gruesome murders as okay because, hey, they were paparazzi.
    • While the main philosophy in Swordfish is the idea that a few innocent casualties are OK if you stop a greater evil, it is heavily implied that Gabriel Shear is a terrorist who only targets terrorists who are plotting against the U.S.
    • In Transformers: Dark of the Moon the Wreckers tore a Decepticon pilot limb from limb, said Con was vaporizing civilians for several seconds before.
    • In Let the Right One In, the bullies who have tormented Oskar throughout the movie are joined by the older brother of one of them who plans to force Oskar to stay underwater for three whole minutes in the school swimming pool -if he can't, they'll cut Oskar's eye out with a knife. After a minute of this, Eli crashes into the swimming pool through the skylight and literally rips them apart. The audience never considers Eli to be evil for doing this. She was saving Oskar's life and the bullies had previously shown themselves to be sadistic bullies who enjoyed hurting Owen simply because they could.
    • Teaser posters for the American film version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo feature the tagline "Evil Shall With Evil Be Expelled".


    • Robin Hood: Steals from the rich and gives to the poor. Goes up and down the scales with each retelling; sometimes it's anyone rich, sometimes it's clearly someone who has unfairly taxed said poor. If it was anyone rich, that may be because the folks that this lore was for probably thought all nobles were evil back then.
      • It's fair to note that that way of thinking was largely well-founded. Early Robin Hood stories had him nearly exclusively target clergy. Considering the way both The Catholic Church and later, The Church of England behaved back then, it's not surprising at all. He was later bowdlerised into a folk hero who robbed from the rich.
    • There is Reynard The Fox of the Beast Fables when he's not an out and out Heroic Sociopath; often times he pays for slights against him with brutal retaliation, abject humiliation preferably both at once. In one story, King Leo had three creatures try to catch him for crimes; Tybalt the Cat ends up getting half-strangled to death and one eye popped out by a priest and he's put down as a whiner for the rest of the story.


    • Admittedly, some of Carrie White's classmates in Carrie had treated her very badly. However, her vengeance on them was probably, in quite a few individual cases, well beyond what they had actually deserved.
      • And when she goes on to bring Armageddon to the rest of the town, well...
      • It's worth noting, however, that Stephen King never depicts her revenge as being justified; instead her actions are considered extremely disproportionate.
      • Her abusive upbringing hasn't really encouraged a sense of moral distinction.
    • Raffles is Affably Evil, but he still draws the line...while he's normally not one for murder, he comes close to killing a blackmailer, and after his return, has no remorse for inadvertently causing the deaths of some Camorra men who'd captured him.
    • Arguably Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights begins like this. When he returns to Yorkshire after Catherine's wedding, the first thing he does is swindle his alcoholic foster brother Hindley out of ownership of the house. While Heathcliff's later actions are inexcusable, many readers will argue that Hindley deserved what he got for having turned him into a servant and thwarting his love affair with Catherine in the first place.
    • In Tom Clancy's Without Remorse, John Kelly is an ex-Navy SEAL who falls for an ex-prostitute/drug mule and rehabilitates her, only to see her raped and murdered by her former pimp. He spends the next year hunting down and brutally executing the entire drug ring, working his way up the chain one pusher/pimp at a time. This comes to the attention of the CIA, who are simultaneously recruiting him for a Vietnam rescue mission; when they find out what he did, they arrange for his "Kelly" identity to die in an apparent suicide, and they give him a new identity as "John Clark". Much later in the series, the President of the United States pardons him.
    • The later Sword of Truth books feature, among other things, the hero leading a charge through peace protesters with, essentially, this justification (said protesters, it should be noted, were guarding an army of complete monsters, but Richard could have made an effort to Take a Third Option), and sending his army to attack cities and other settlements that are supporting the Imperial Order, basically a strategy of total war. The justification given is that it would be impossible to beat the Order in a straight up fight, since they're outnumbered 100 to 1. Richard notably orders his troops not to kill civilians if it can be avoided, but that they should still make them afraid of the D'Haran troops.
    • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Imperius and Cruciatus curses. When they're first introduced, it's stated that using these curses wins the caster a one-way ticket to Azkaban, and Barty Crouch is portrayed in a bad light for authorizing the Aurors to use the spells in exactly the same way the heroes eventually do. It's just a little disconcerting to see, for example, McGonagall tossing around the Imperius because she couldn't be bothered picking up two wands herself. The use is seen as somewhat morally ambiguous, and it functions as a slow buildup - with Harry having used two of the three "Unforgivable Curses" by the climax of the book, it's reasonable to expect he'd use the last one, the Killing Curse, to finish off Voldemort. He doesn't. Voldemort dies as a result of his own actions.
      • Gryffindors also take the opportunity to pay evil unto the oft-deserving Slytherins, James and Sirius bully the racist and dark-magic-obsessed Snape, and Hagrid and Fred and George punish Harry's bullying cousin Dudley with jinxes, although Arthur Weasley doesn't find his sons' behavior funny. Also, Sirius treats Kreacher quite nastily, an odd case as Kreacher is one of the most unlikeable victims in the series, but also served as one of the examples where the good perpetrator was seriously criticized for his bad actions, because Sirius is in a position of authority over Kreacher (Kreacher, as a house elf, is magically impelled to obey him).
        • Sirius' behavior is explained, but not justified, as the fact that Kreacher isn't just a complete asshole of a servant; he's also a reminder of Sirius' unhappy upbringing (including having physically punished Sirius on his parents' orders), and the fact that he's also a supporter of the backwards, bigoted values that upbringing taught makes him doubly so.
      • Hermione hexes the girl who sold out the DA, and in doing so left Hogwarts under the control of a sadistic teacher who tortured children, by raising pimples on her forehead which spell out that she's a traitor, and last for several months at the least. J. K. Rowling confirmed that Marietta's pimples faded but left a few scars. Hermione also lures said sadistic teacher into being attacked by centaurs, although admittedly that went further than Hermione had originally intended. She also blackmails Rita Skeeter for writing a false article that caused Hermione to be showered with hate mail. Don't mess with Hermione Granger - she's got a ruthless side.
      • Arguably how Harry decides to deal with Dolores Umbridge in Deathly Hallows, which also overlaps with Laser-Guided Karma.
    • The Sherlock Holmes story The Adventure of the Devil's Foot. Holmes lets the murderer go free when he realizes what a complete monster the victim was.
      • Conan Doyle uses this trope several times, when his sympathies lie with the criminal rather than the victim. Other stories that use it include The Adventure of the Abbey Grange (The murdered husband habitually battered his wife.) and The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton (because he knows who the killer is, why Milverton was murdered, and that he was a blackmailer of the vilest sort, he declines to even assist the police.)
        • Actually in The Adventure of the Abbey Grange, you could make a pretty fair case for self-defense.
        • In the Milverton case, Holmes himself was Paying Evil Unto Evil—at the moment the crime was committed, he and Watson were in the middle of burgling Milverton's house to get rid of his blackmail material. Holmes knows who the murderer is, but revealing her identity would mean revealing that he too was very much on the wrong side of the law.
      • Then there's The Speckled Band, where Holmes's actions mean that the murderer and would-be double murderer ends up getting Hoist by His Own Petard. He says he won't let it affect him too much.
    • Agatha Christie used this in her novel Ten Little Indians (and all of its other titles) and in all of its adaptations. The murderer who kills most (or all) of the villainous characters on the Island is a Hanging Judge who like Dexter is a psychopath who decided to only harm the guilty.
    • This plot is interestingly played with in the Ripliad novel Ripley Under Water. While the book follows a sort of Psycho for Hire terrorizing a murderer and career criminal, Ripley the "hero" is the murderer and career criminal and the story is told in a way that he comes across as a sympathetic victim while his tormentor is the villain of the novel.
    • One of this trope's best examples occurs in the Hercule Poirot novel Murder on the Orient Express. It turns out that the victim had been guilty of the kidnapping and murder of a small child years before. Poirot not only declines to turn the murderer over to the police, he offers a theory of how the murderer escaped the train which is as plausible as it is false.
    • In The Dresden Files, the perception of such things as a first step on the Slippery Slope is the main reason for the uncompromising reaction of the White Council to breaches of the Laws of Magic- sure, that guy you just killed may have been a bad guy, but killing with magic changes the soul, and they think it'll make you want to do it again... Whether this is justified or not is one of the major questions of the series—particularly as Harry himself murdered his Evil Mentor Jason Du Mourne prior to the series' beginning.
      • Harry Dresden does this in basically every book. Most of the time, it comes off as morally upright; Harry has been known to ask villains to surrender when said villain has summoned demons and sent them against Harry and his friends. In the third book, however, vampires kidnap his girlfriend and he torches the entire building—including quite a few of the bums and teenagers the vampires were keeping around as snacks. Harry angsts over this quite a bit, especially due to the "Law of Three" (anything you do with magic supposedly returns threefold). Michael reassures him with a quote that's on the quote page. It helps, to a point.
        • Beating Cassius with a bat, and several books later impaling the Red King's eyes before setting them on fire. Both had it coming to them, and the latter was a Complete Monster beyond description.
        • In a training camp in New Mexico two children were killed and eaten by ghouls. Harry called Hellfire and blew a hole through the floor of the cavern where he found them. He set the fat and nerves of the first ghoul on fire, like a candle, and threw it into the pit. He buried the second ghoul up to its neck, melted the ghoul's face and melted the sand around it into crystal, then poured orange juice from its head to a fire ant nest. He let the third ghoul go, minus an arm and a leg, to carry the warning.
    • In the third book of the Inheritance Cycle, the main character Eragon does some pretty heinous things. He wipes out what is apparently the last of a dying race, Mind Rapes a Jerkass from his hometown who stabbed his friends and family in the back (literally with one guy) and mercilessly slaughters a group of conscripted soldiers who were Just Following Orders. His feelings on each of the separate matters… vary.
      • He feels no guilt at all for wiping out the Ra’zac, seeing them as nothing more than a race of Complete Monsters. Which is not quite true. They’re undoubtedly evil, but that’s at least partially due to Blue and Orange Morality. The last ones death showed that it was at least capable of feeling sadness, but it showed no remorse for all the people it and its family had killed over the years.
      • His feelings on Mind Raping the Jerkass are… not a shining example of morality. The dude was an Asshole Victim and Knight Templar Parent who chose to betray his peers (and murder one of them) when his daughter didn’t obey him. But he pretty much got what he had coming to him at the hands of the Ra’zac. Eragon feels no guilt at all for piling the Mind Rape on top of the torture, starvation, and blinding he had already suffered.
        • However, he gave said Jerkass a chance improve his life and remove the Mind Rape, if he can genuinely change.
      • On the other hand Eragon does feel guilty for slaughtering the conscripted soldiers. Not enough to spare their lives, but he honestly regrets having to kill them. From his perspective, it’s somewhere between Shoot the Dog and I Did What I Had to Do, since the conscripts are magically bound to report his presence.
    • Redwall comes off as a rather well-done example. The fighters usually try to repel or turn the bad guys, not kill them outright. In fact, for the most part, the only deaths in the series are:
    • In The Saint stories by Leslie Charteris, the title character targeted criminals and other evil characters for justice, including sometimes killing them.
    • The Travis McGee novels by John D. MacDonald. McGee goes after the worst of the worst, and, though he's only supposed to get back stolen/defrauded property, he often ends up killing his targets.
      • Travis is quite aware of this trope and works hard to avoid it. The people he kills are people who are trying to kill him. He doesn't belong with this trope. In one instance, when he has to kill several people who are part of a terrorist group who would kill him in a second if he didn't agree to help them, he suffers a Heroic BSOD from having to kill them.
    • Artemis Fowl may no longer be a Villain Protagonist, but he still commits crimes against criminals.
    • In various parts of the Inferno, Dante kicks, beats, or swindles the damned souls, always with the approval of his guide Virgil. Justified (in the context of the poem, at least) in that the victims genuinely are damned souls who have been condemned by God for their sins, and pitying them would be an act of impiety.
    • Subverted in The Hobbit, which quite possibly was the most important act in the series. After getting away from Gollum using the Ring to become invisible, Bilbo has a perfect chance to kill Gollum for trying to kill and eat him after losing the riddle game... But chooses not to after realizing what a miserable life the creature had.
    • Played straight in Red Seas Under Red Skies. When Locke needs to commit a very public bit of villainy, he heads straight for the disgustingly decadent Salon Corbeau and sacks the city.
    • Chronicles of Amber describes his attitude at one point:

    In the mirrors of the many judgments, my hands are the color of blood. I am a part of the evil that exists in the world and in Shadow. I sometimes fancy myself an evil which exists to oppose other evils. I destroy [them] when I find them, and on that Great Day ... when the world is completely cleansed of evil, then I, too, will go down into darkness, swallowing curses... But whatever... Until that time, I shall not wash my hands nor let them hang useless.

    • In Shutter Island, one of the things that haunts Teddy is the massacre of the surrendered guards at the death camp. He basically says that it was sheer murder what they did, but the press called them heroes for it because it was Nazi's.
    • Jenna receives a lecture about the importance of doing this in the Great Alta Saga, but still refuses because, well, she's seventeen and has lived a fairly sheltered life up until that point. As a result, one of her best friends is killed.
    • Fully justified in The Godfather. While the two boys that savagely beat Bonasera's daughter are implied to get what they deserve in the movie, the novel goes into detail. It would fall under Extreme Melee Revenge, except that that requires the revenge to go well beyond what is deserved, and there's little doubt that these two deserved every bit of it. Skipping over the details, the young men are said to need several months of hospital care and extensive reconstructive surgery.
      • Brutally subverted in later chapters, when Michael goes to Sicily and sees the end result of an entire society dedicated to Pay Evil Unto Evil. This is a huge part of what drives his attempts to drive the Corleone Family into legitimate enterprises.
    • File this one under Older Than They Think: one of the stories in Rudyard Kipling's Stalky & Co (published in the 19th century) involves the hero and his Nakama taking on the school bullies... at the suggestion of their priest.
    • Lisbeth Salander from The Millennium Trilogy. She started this as a child, when being assaulted by a boy far bigger and stronger than herself, on a following day she took revenge by hitting him with a baseball bat. When her guardian rapes her, she has her revenge by incapacitating him with a taser, torturing him, and forcing him to watch the recording of her rape. She then threatens to make the recording public unless he arranges for her to have permanent control over her money. Finally, she tattoos "I am a sadistic pig, a pervert and a rapist" in large letters on his torso.
    • Retconned with Lestat in the Anne Rice The Vampire Chronicles novels where we find out later that the only people he's ever outright killed have been evil people of some sort.
    • In The Oathbreakers, from the Heralds of Valdemar series, Kethry works a powerful sorcery that gathers the combined rage of her mercenary company and uses it to punish the rapist/murderer of their former captain in a massively Karmic way. She specifically states that the magic is as close to evil as it's possible to get and she has to walk a very fine line between just retribution and cold-blooded vengeance, lest she fall to The Dark Side in the process.
    • A Song of Ice and Fire: the Mereenese Grand Masters welcome Daenerys by nailing a bunch of disemboweled slave children on columns beside the road with their fingers pointing to Mereen. Later, they end up the same way on the main square of Mereen.
    • In the Dale Brown novel Wings of Fire, Chris Wohl's killing of Pavel Kazakov, two stabs to the diaphragm that fill his lungs with blood, followed by a stab-and-slash to the throat, is vicious by any objective standard, but considering the evil scum he was doing it to...
    • In Rainbow Six, one of the Basque separatists kills a Littlest Cancer Patient on live TV. Homer initially isn't allowed to take the shot because of fears that the plan will be screwed up; when he does get to take it, he goes for a liver-shot that will make the separatist die slowly and painfully. Ding gives him a perfunctory dressing-down afterwards, but no one is really complaining.
    • Maybe not evil per se, but Extirpon's means of dealing with the scumbags he battles is pretty extreme, being a Reality Warper and all. Probably the best example of him crossing a line is when he slits a child rapist's throat and then makes a large container appear out of nowhere in the apartment. He promptly locks his victim in the container, then floods it to drown him. Turns out, the victim was the same guy that had drowned and later decapitated one of Extirpon's past lovers. This is after forcing the Mooks to cough up green mambas, which bite and kill them.
    • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: Overuse of this trope is a major cause in losing all sympathy for the Sisterhood. Vendetta has the Sisterhood capture the Chinese ambassador's son who drunkenly killed Barbara Rutledge and her unborn child in a hit and run, and was not punished due to Diplomatic Impunity. They punish him for this, by skinning him alive, and then shrugging it off afterward! He was a creep and not a nice guy, but he simply did not deserve that level of punishment! The author actually tries to justify all this by saying that the law is unable to punish criminals, and seriously expect you to cheer on the Vigilantes when they inflict terrible punishments on their targets! It's too bad you find yourself feeling sorry for their targets instead of the protagonists themselves!
    • In Robert A. Heinlein's The Number of the Beast, the Burroughs' discover an Alternate History United States whose justice system is based on "An Eye for an Eye". Someone who's careless driving ran someone else over and caused them to lose a leg has his leg staked out in the road and run over by a car and has to wait the exact time his victim did before medical help will arrive to help him -- step one of said 'help' being 'amputate the leg'. Murderers are killed, arsonists are burned to death and it is suggested that rapists are raped (somehow).

    Live-Action TV

    • Dexter is a serial murderer who only kills other murderers. He identifies himself as a monster though.
    • Omar Little of The Wire is a renowned stick-up man who only robs from people involved in the drug trade. The police pretty much turn a blind eye to this.
    • A mild version of this happens in the opening for the Firefly episode "Shindig," where Mal pickpockets the cash off a smug, proud, self-admitted slave dealer during a game of pool. The slave dealer isn't supposed to notice until he goes for his next round of drinks, but it turns out he's a very good drinker, and that leads to....
      • The entire series of Firefly is one big example. The main characters spend the entire first season robbing almost anybody, so long as that person is The Government, corporate supporters of the government, slavers, or anybody else not approved of by the main characters.
      • Mal probably puts it best in The Train Job, when he decides not to do the job he was hired to do and wants to return the money to his employer:

    Mal: "We're not thieves." Beat "But we are thieves. Point is, we're not taking what's his."

    • iCarly: In "iReunite With Missy", Missy broke Sam's cellphone on purpose and offered to buy her a new one. When Missy wins the 6-month cruise, given up by Freddie to get rid of Missy, Carly asks Sam how Missy could still compensate for her phone. Sam then reveals that she stole Missy's phone.
    • Michael of the TV show Burn Notice helps the victims of evil by assisting them in gaining protection against their oppressors. Sometimes, his methods involve conning and/or leading to the arrest of the villain, but often, his plots end with the death of the villain through his machinations/at his hands.
      • While Mr Chapel of Vengeance Unlimited doesn't kill, he can completely ruin the life of some of his "victims", including two that he had branded as insane.
      • Chapel often doesn't go out of his way to get people killed, it's a result of the show's formula. If people survived his scams it would quickly get around that he's not who he says he is. There are also times when he really is trying to make sure they die, though.
    • In Smallville, Davis Bloome was more or less forced into this; he has a choice between killing a couple criminals every so often and doing nothing (which allows his Super-Powered Evil Side to take over and massacre a bunch of innocents).
    • Happens all the time on Game of Thrones, where evildoers are punished in some of the most horrific - and often most ironic - ways possible. Some examples:
      • Ramsey is torn apart by his own starving dogs, the camera not even panning away conceal the gory details of his well-deserved end.
      • Viserys gains the "golden crown" he so longed for when he is executed by having molten gold poured on his head.
      • After seeing 163 slaves executed by crucifixion in Meereen, Daenerys conquers the city and executes its rulers the same way.
    • Happens a few times in Farscape, though they're usually forced into it by the bad guys. One example: In order to save D'Argo's son (and 9,999 other slaves), our heroes plan to rob a bank, justifying their actions by saying it's a "shadow depository", ie, where bad guys hide the stuff they steal.
    • Sledge Hammer! is a Cowboy Cop who doesn't hesitate to use the violent criminal scum's own violent criminal methods against them... to the consternation of Captain Trunk.
    • At some points in Sabrina the Teenage Witch, it can be argued that Libby was the victim of bullying from Sabrina instead of the other way around. After all, being a Reality Warper gives you an unfair advantage. However, Sabrina seems to be maturing past this - now most of her morally questionable uses of magic against Libby are based on trying to redress wrongs or make Libby a better person, instead of simply hurting Libby. Sometimes she even uses it to do something nice for Libby, even knowing that Libby will most likely never know about it and certainly wouldn't return the favor if she did. (For example, in "Sabrina Claus", she has to take over for Santa Claus and her gift to Libby is to use magic to make Libby's Annoying Younger Sibling be nice to her. Possibly still morally questionable, depending on how you feel about magically influencing the free will of a child.)
    • The main characters of Hustle only con the corrupt and the greedy. In one episode, they even call off a con when it becomes clear their supposedly evil target is reforming.
    • Leverage does almost exactly the same thing.
    • Done deliberately by a particularly Genre Savvy Benjamin Sisko when he's chasing down the traitorous Starfleet officer, Eddington. After Eddington poisons a Cardassian settled-planet with a chemical only dangerous to Cardassians thus forcing them to evacuate, Sisko, invoking Les Misérables since Eddington had called him Inspector Javert, forces Eddington to make a Heroic Sacrifice by doing the same thing to a human-settled planet occupied by the Maquis and threatening to keep doing it unless Eddington surrendered.
      • Sisko is particularly prone to this. The episode "In the Pale Moonlight" shows that Sisko is reluctantly willing to engage in bribery, extortion, and to work with Garak—a man who committed at least four murders during the episode (though Sisko does not know that Garak planned the murders)--to bring an early end to the Dominion War.
      • Speaking of Garak, he once tried to commit genocide on the Founders' home world by gaining access to Defiant's weapons systems. Had he succeeded, he may have averted the war altogether.
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Few mourned, and many cheered, when Dark Willow flayed Warren Mears alive. Those that refrained from cheering did so not out of sympathy for Warren, but concern for Willow.
    • Buffy Spin-Off Angel had a terrific example in Season 2. After coming across his archenemies from Wolfram & Hart being held hostage by Darla and Dru, Angel stands contemplative for a moment. Wolfram & Hart is an evil organisation with absolutely no qualms about murdering innocent people. Rather than save them, Angel locks the door and lets the vamps go to work. The formerly unflappable Holland Manners is terrified and begs, "People are going to die," to which Angel responds, "And yet somehow I just can't seem to care." Whilst harrowing in a sense, it doesn't stop seeing them get their karma from being wholly satisfying.
    • In Doctor Who continuity, the notorious Jack the Ripper met his end when his intended victim was Madame Vastra, a Silurian living in 1880s London. She introduced herself by describing the encounter:

    Vastra: Jack the Ripper has killed his last victim.
    Maid: How did you find him?
    Vastra: Stringy, but tasty all the same. I won't be needing dinner.

    • The most disturbing aspect of this exchange is that it appears Jenny (the maid) may have asked the question expecting that type of answer.


    • Played with in the ACDC song Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. The suggested recipients of the titular deeds are a lecherous teacher, an adulterous husband, and a nagging wife.
    • The Insane Clown Posse has a song called To Catch A Predator wherein the protagonist talks about his exploits in baiting pedophiles into coming down to his house, wherein he mutilates them and chains them up in his basement. The chorus sums up his motives nicely: "I'm probably gonna burn for this/Ain't no lesson to learn from this/There's nothing I'ma earn/But it sure is fun".

    Professional Wrestling

    • Certain faces are able to get away with heel-like tactics because they're using them on heels.
    • Used by Edge against Kane. Kane is known for being a sadistic monster that torments and tortures his opponents without remorse and, at his best, is a Noble Demon and at his worst, one of the worst Complete Monsters in all of wrestling. Edge proceeds to kidnap Kane's evil father (who'd himself been seen as a Complete Monster quite often) and torture and torment him and Kane. Just so happens to follow Kane being an even bigger Complete Monster than normal, it's almost as if the WWE wanted to make sure Kane had it coming.

    Religion - The Bible

    • The Book of Joshua tells how the Israelites conquered the land of Canaan and killed or enslaved the native peoples. It was justified by them evidently worshipping pagan gods, practicing child sacrifice and being sexually immoral.
      • It should be noted that sexual immorality and child sacrifice were HOW they were worshiping their gods, so the three charges are really one and the same.
      • Later, this punishment was applied to the Israelites themselves for the very same crimes.
    • Sodom and Gomorrah. The Ten Plagues. The Flood. Samson killing 3,000 Philistines. The slaughter after the Israelites were found worshipping idols (though this one's debatable, as God actually didn't give Moses any instruction to do that, and it may have had more to do with putting down a revolt.)
    • The (executed) command to kill every Midianite male (regardless of age) and every Midianite female who wasn't a virgin. (Presumably, the few who were virgins ended up concubines as instructed in Deuteronomy 21:10-14.) The Old Testament God was really into this trope.
      • One of the reasons King Saul lost God's favor was because he failed to slaughter all of the Amelekites, women and children included, despite God's decree that the entire nation of Amelek be wiped from the earth. The crime of the Amelekites? Their raider tribe was the first to attack the wandering Israelites.
        • Tradition holds that the Jews are still suffering due to this failure; certain Anti-Semites (Haman in particular) are alleged to have been descended from the Amelekites. (Some have also tried to tie Hitler to this line as well, though many called him "the second Haman" regardless.)
    • King David's daughter Tamar was raped by one of her brother's half-brothers Amnon. When David refused to take action, her brother Absalom ultimately took matters into his own hands and ordered his men to kill Amnon.
    • King David made Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, his mistress. When Bathsheba became pregnant, David called Uriah's troop back to the capital in the hopes that Uriah would sleep with Bathsheba so that the scandal would be hidden. Uriah was such a loyal soldier that he bunked down with his men instead, since it was unfair for him to go home when they couldn't. So David arranged for Uriah to die on the battlefield and took Bathsheba into his household. As punishment for his evil deeds, David's first son by Bathsheba fell ill and died after seven days.
      • David's punishment didn't end there. See Absalom up there? He later declared war on his father.
      • To add a further twist to the knife, Amnon's evil deeds mirrored David's own, which is evidently one of the reasons David felt he lacked authority to punish him, having been forgiven himself.
    • Moses sent twelve scouts into the land of Israel. Ten of them came back with a report that the people living there were unbeatable, and despite the protests of the other two spies, the Israelites formed a mob and turned on Moses and Aaron. After saving them, God decreed that the Israelites would never set foot in the Promised Land until after every adult—-except the two good spies-—who left Egypt had died. He then afflicted the other ten spies with a very painful and fatal illness.
    • In the Scroll of Esther, Haman plotted to have all of the Jews in the kingdom killed. Instead, he and his sons (who were never mentioned as having been part of the plot) were hung on the gallows he had built for the Jews.
    • Averted in the Book of Jonah; Jonah actually gets rather upset that God forgave the people of Nineveh. God explains that, unlike the people of Sodom and Gormorrah, the Ninevites took the warning seriously and repented sincerely, so He wasn't about to go killing a bunch of innocents along with the guilty when there wasn't any need.
    • In Chapter 34 of Genesis, Jacob's only daughter Dinah was violated by a Shechemite prince. Simon and Levi, her brothers, sat down with their father when the prince and his father came by offering a lavish bride-price. They lied and said they'd only agree to the marriage if the Shechemite men agreed to be circumcised like them, which they did. When the men were incapacitated after the surgery, Jacob's sons (without his knowledge) went into the Shechemite village and slaughtered every male they could find before bringing Dinah home (along with everyone and everything else they managed to plunder). Jacob called them out on this, fearing for his tribe's safety. Their justification was "Should we have let him use her for a whore?"
    • This was the idea behind "Eye for an eye" , if someone killed a relative, raped your daughter, or stole your cattle, you were allowed to kill them, castrate them, or take back what they stole and more.

    Tabletop Games

    • Warhammer 40,000 likes this one, though it must be noted that the setting already runs on Black and Grey Morality. The Imperium and Chaos both enjoy sacrificing innocents—the former sacrifice to the Emperor, the latter to the Chaos Gods, to name one example.
      • Some Chaos Space Marine players even use this to make their army out to be less evil. Saying the empire has to go for the better of mankind.
    • A published Call of Cthulhu (tabletop game) adventure, Digging Up a Dead God, has the players playing Nazis on an archaeological expedition. Given that it's CoC, and it's almost guaranteed to kill or drive the characters insane by the end, well... Most people would say there's no group more deserving of a horrible ending.
    • In Exalted, Green Sun Princes can use this as a loophole to act as something resembling heroes. The terms of their servitude to the Yozis state that they absolutely have to behave in an appropriately evil manner... but the terms say nothing about who they have to target. They can solely target people as bad or worse than they are, and as long as they're sufficiently villainous in dispatching them, it doesn't risk Torment. The net result being that they're no better or worse than any other Exalt, or totally deluded Complete Monsters, depending on the campaign.
    • The Grey Guard prestige class in Dungeons & Dragons is built entirely around permitting paladins to make exceptions to their code of conduct for the sake of fighting greater evils.
      • Dungeons & Dragons has had "Kill Evil and Take Their Stuff" as a motto for years. And sometimes it's not even that discriminating.
        • The Gothic D&D setting Ravenloft made this explicit with its "Powers Checks," a sort of Karma Meter. The severity of an evil deed was proportional to how good the victim was.
        • And with the Ravenloft Setting, Van Richten the resident Expert Monster Hunter strongly advises against indiscriminately slaughtering every creature that opposes them (Lycanthropes could be cured). And Game Masters are encouraged to curtail the 'Stab and Loot' mentality.
      • Interestingly averted in The Hobbit; early on Bilbo, Gandalf and the Dwarves find Elvish swords stolen by trolls, and the only person to have a legitimate claim to them relinquishes them (Glamdring belonged to Elrond's great-grandfather).
      • A politicized kobold gets to put the case against "delving and discovery" (i.e. dungeon raiding) in Tales of MU. Magisterius University does, of course, have a big D&D faculty.
    • Hunter: The Vigil has Aegis Kai Doru, a group of hunters who kill magic-users and take their artifacts so that it's easier to kill more magic-users (and sometimes werewolves). The book contains a lengthy section on how to deal with the Karma Meter in light of goals like that.
      • Forget about the Greek Indiana Jones. Hunters are the only people who can modify their Moral Code to justify about everything they do, as long as it's in the light of the hunt. The text example has "murdering someone" replaced with "letting a witch/warlock loose". This only makes paying evil unto evil far, far easier for them than other denizens of shadow.
    • BattleTech has the Word of Blake, who broke a centuries long Nuclear Weapons Taboo... on civilians. All the other factions in the Inner Sphere proceeded to break the same taboo and nuke them back.


    • In Electra, despite the fact that murdering your mother is admittedly bad, if the gods are on your side it's acceptable. Orestes and Electra feel particularly justified by the fact that Clytemnestra killed their father.

    Video Games

    • Sly Cooper stole from other thieves and gave to himself. He didn't seem to do anything with his money, though; it was mostly for bragging rights.
      • Compare Kaitou Saint Tail who only stole already stolen items to give them back to their rightful owners. She was honestly worried enough about this trope to pray to God before each mission to assure Him and herself she wasn't doing this for bad reasons.
      • Or compare aversion Lupin III, who has no self-illusions about what he does. He steals from everyone, it's just that bad people tend to have more money.
      • To paraphrase Sly on the subject, it's more fun stealing from master criminals in their heavily fortified lairs than from Joe Blow down the street.
        • To be fair to the guy, he spends most of the games stealing back things people stole from him - his familys book, the Clockwerk body, and his family fortune.
    • Most cases of Randomly Drops in Role Playing Games. So yeah, the guy you just killed had a nice shiny something; it's yours now! It was probably stolen anyways...uh...don't look too hard for the original owner.
    • A common video game trope, but especially visible in The Elder Scrolls. By III and IV, most of the game is spent slaughtering humans and taking their stuff, leaving their cold and stripped bodies behind. Slaughtering bandits by the hundreds makes you no more infamous than you already are, even when stealing a single key would give infamy points.
      • Lampshaded in the beginning of Morrowind. The local tavern owner at the starting town tells you that you're free to increase your skills on bandits, but if you try that on townsfolk it's called murder. He then points you in the direction of the closest bandit hideout. The guards will also tell you that outlaws legally have no rights, and you can deal with them as painfully as you want. Also lampshaded in Oblivion by the Countess of Leyawin: she says to go ahead and kill any outlaws you find and take their stuff: everybody on the right side of the law wins.
        • Truth in Television: the historical meaning of the term "outlaw" literally meant "outside the protection of the law". Killing outlaws is not murder, taking their property is not theft, do whatever you want to them. Medieval thought was that only people who were actually members of society would be given the protections of that society -- all others were to be treated as hostile invaders in a 'war' that had no Geneva Conventions.
      • Same in Mount & Blade. Attacking Travellers or Lords generally brings you in trouble with their government except if they're enemies to begin with, but all kinds of bandits, looters and raiders are free to be killed or knocked unconscious and then sold into slavery. They provide a good source of money and experience and most adventurers that have not (yet) sworn allegiance to a kingdom will likely spend all day bandit-hunting. It also happens between kingdoms, raiding, killing travelling farmers and merchants is ok as long as they belong to the enemy side, while of course every Calradian kingdom believes to be the only one with a justified claim to the throne, so the others are obviously evil impostors.
    • Aribeth's actions in Neverwinter Nights are more of pay evil unto very questionable, but the idea is there.
    • Tales of Vesperia - This is the source of all of Yuri's various instances of Crowning Moment of Awesome. Also, all the people he kills were Complete Monsters to begin with, and probably deserved worse.
    • In some games with a Karma Meter (Fable immediately comes to mind), killing Mooks gives Good points. Even unprovoked killings.
      • You can kill bandits while they're asleep and it's considered "Good", but killing their leader is "Evil".
        • Fable II solved the problem: killing bandits or anyone else in self-defense (if they're hostile, you're killing in self-defense) doesn't change your morality at all. Unprovoked killings (if you had to make them hostile by punching them in the face) are evil. Morality is much more static than fluid this time around.
    • In Mass Effect, many of the Renegade options the player can take involve Shepard, the main character, being a total bastard to other bastards. Several times, people are outright shot in the head or otherwise have their lives ruined, though they are usually very bad people to begin with.
    • In Fallout 2, killing bandits raises your Karma meter, which is fair enough. It also goes up when you kill drug dealers and pimps, which still makes sense. But killing 'prostitutes' also raises the Karma meter (not by much, but damn)! It's kinda funny that a character is revered as a great hero for killing masses of whores.
      • Jack the Ripper: Hero of the Wasteland!
      • Of course, the Karma boost from killing prostitutes is offset by the Karma drop you get from killing the mobs of civilians who start attacking you because you're publicly gunning people down in the street.
      • Fallout 3 provides good karma and good items for gunning down Evil characters, even if it's done in cold blood. Since the definition of evil is... rather loose... in the local universe, this can lead to some interesting interactions. Where stealing scrap material loses Karma Meter points, and taking a Ripper to a friendly NPC's head can provide points.
      • It's especially odd that you gain karma from killing Mr. Tenpenny for two reasons: One, that you can do it with no provocation and completely in cold blood and two, near as one can tell, if you convince the residents to let the ghouls in, you find out that Tenpenny does not condone the morally reprehensible prejudices he allows, he's just oblivious to them, though this may apply less to Megaton.
      • You can also slaughter the entire town of Paradise Falls, a town of slavers. Not only will you not be penalized, you'll actually gain karma for some of the people you kill.
      • Ruthlessly subverted in Fallout 1. Attempt to kill the enterprising businessman Iguana Bob, and the entire town - including the heavily armed Police Force, the local Mob and visiting caravan drivers - turn hostile and try to retaliate. Your karma meter is also penalised if you choose to spare Bob's life and instead blackmail him over his secret. The secret, I might add, that no one will believe, and over which they will try to kill you for acting directly!
      • Should be noted that in Fallout 3 you can also get a perk that gives you a bonus for killing good characters.
      • In Fallout: New Vegas, Vulpes Inculta butchers the town of Nipton for being a Wretched Hive filled with bastards willing to sell each other out after the citizens failed a Secret Test of Character he put on.
        • In fact Vulpes is so much a beliver of this trope wend you tell him his acts are unforgiveable he outright tells you to kill him if you truely think he's evil.
        • In Fallout: New Vegas's DLC Honest Hearts, this is Joshua Graham's plan for dealing with the invading White Legs tribe in Zion. Towards the people of New Canaan and the tribes they help, he's a man trying to atone for his past sins and prove that he is no longer the Malpais Legate. To the White Legs, he might as well still be, as evidenced by his general Kill'Em All policy, executing them on their knees, and stabbing their heads on pikes as examples.
    • Happened in Saints Row 2, although it's not so much as pay evil onto evil as pay evil onto greyness. Maero gets his revenge for unintentionally getting tattooed with nuclear acid set up by the main character by torturing Carlos and having the player Mercy Kill him. The main character gets him back by kidnapping his girlfriend, Jessica, stuffing her into the trunk of a car, and using it as fodder in a monster truck rally that Maero is in, with Jessica still in the trunk. She doesn't survive.
      • Additionally, near the end of the storyline dealing with the Ronin, Johnny Gat takes revenge for the murder of his girlfriend, Aisha, by beating, humiliating, and locking her murderer in the coffin and burying him alive. This game loves this trope. It's like playing as Belkar.
        • Let's put that into clearer perspective: Johnny is a kill-crazy psycho who would've killed Shojo without being given a reason, but at that moment was in mourning at Aisha's funeral in progress, and even gave Shojo a chance to leave. Shojo insisted on disrupting the service to scoff at and provoke Johnny, so I doubt anyone had any pity for him when he got put into the ground right then and there.
    • Agent 47 of Hitman is paid almost always to kill evil criminals or Complete Monsters of some sorts. The reason stated is that The Agency finds more profit in global stability than just being paid by random criminals to whack philanthropists.
      • At other times, though, it gets a little dicey: at the conclusion of Hitman: Contracts he assassinates a French police officer, as he believes that the man in question knows too much about him. Similarly, at the end of Hitman: Blood Money, Agent 47 is revived from apparent death during his funeral, and kills everyone present at the funeral, including an innocent priest and a journalist (although in fairness, the journalist had been provided with a great deal of information about him).
      • Officially he is sent to take down bad people, but anyone who compromises his identity to said underworld connections is also fair game.
    • This trope is the central premise of Bully, where Jimmy Hopkins, the new student at the worst school in the country, strives to stop the rampant bullying and create order between the cliques.
    • Nazis, bloodsuckers, and murdering thugs are the stock enemies of BloodRayne, and Rayne often expresses her satisfaction with slaughtering them in the most graphically gory ways possible.
    • In Escape Velocity, blowing up ships and conquering planets doesn't make you very well liked by the surrounding systems (unless it's by an opposing faction.) Meanwhile, conquering Space Pirate worlds and bases then demanding they pay you tribute; nobody cares (pirates attack you regardless,) and one of the few 100% reliable ways to boost your Karma Meter with every faction is to shoot pirates and take their stuff. Curiously nobody demands that the System Lord try to shut down said pirates.
      • Still, dominating entire worlds is such a notoriously evil act in EV that no matter who the planet once belonged to and where you are now, you'll always have to fend off Bounty Hunters.
    • Super Mario 64 has a mission called "Bully the Bullies" in Lethal Lava Land. You bully them by pushing them into the lava, which is essentially the only way to kill them. Perhaps a literal example, since this is exactly what they're trying to do to you (their shoves don't cause damage - just a little knockback and stun).
    • In Civilization IV, if an area remains in the shroud long enough, there is a chance that a barbarian civilization will form there. This will have cities, farms, etc. There's absolutely no way to make peace or trade with these groups, the only solution to the hostile raids is to wipe them off the Earth. Although occasionally if the city is large enough you can merely conquer them instead.
      • Some of the more extensive and complex mods allow these barbarian civilizations to eventually mature into "minor" civilizations, and then into full-on civilizations, enabling trade and diplomacy with them. However, they still need to be left alone long enough to reach that stage, and not everyone is willing to let new empires spring up on their doorstep...
    • God of War is this trope, thanks to some extreme characterization of the Greek gods.
    • Skies of Arcadia: The Blue Rogues fit the "noble pirate" archetype, and steal from two rigidly defined categories: 1) people who are extremely rich, with varying amounts of consideration for the potential for financial ruin and bodily harm given based on how moral the rich person is; and 2) Black Pirates. Category 2 fits under this trope as Black Pirates are sky pirates like Blue Rogues, but rob indiscriminately and tend to leave a trail of pain and suffering in their wake.
    • World of Warcraft-the Knights of the Ebon Blade certainly qualify.
      • To elaborate and clarify, the Knights Of The Ebon Blade are Death Knights, soulless quasi-undead killing machines that the Lich King so well designed that they literally feel pain unless they are killing something. Once they freed themselves from the Lich King's control, they didn't regain their souls and become moral warriors again. They just turned all of their power and malice back towards the Lich King.
    • Blood Omen features an odd play on this; the main character is the evil being payed unto evil; he was created and turned into a monster to be set on the Circle of Nine, a group of insane wizards that were slowly destroying the world.
    • In Overlord, you beat up seven alleged heroes who have fallen to the seven deadly sins thanks to the Big Bad, who was a hero before.
    • Lightning Warrior Raidy features an erotic version of this with the boss battles in both games. Raidy always encounters level bosses in the middle of sexually tormenting a kidnapped NPC in a variety of ways; if she loses the ensuing boss battle, the game over sequence features the boss subjecting Raidy to this treatment, but if Raidy wins, she gives them a taste of their own medicine.
    • In Might and Magic 2 characters who entered certain valleys could discover peaceful goblin villages. They could then choose to attack them and slaughter them all, likely leaving any surviving children who hid from your murderous rampage orphans who will vow vengeance upon humanity for your actions; but since they're monsters and you're heroes it's okay!
    • Alec Mason in Red Faction Guerrilla spends most of the game causing property damage in the hundreds of millions, bombing industrial centers and troop barracks, and breaking many, many people in half through sledgehammer-induced blunt force trauma. There's no disguising the fact that he's functionally a terrorist...except that he's facing off the oppressive, thuggish, and violent EDF, who harass and abuse workers, shoot miners with little provocation, who finally pushed the initially reluctant Alec to join the Red Faction after an EDF gunship killed his younger brother. The entire game really boils down to a Roaring Rampage of Revenge led by Alec Mason against the EDF to avenge Daniel.
    • Many sidequests in The Godfather 2 involve you dealing injury to the person or property of those who have done injustice against the quest-givers.

    Web Comics

    • In Looking for Group, Richard the Undead Warlock embodies this trope. He can turn the tide of pretty much any battle, is lord of his own legion of undead villagers (ones he most likely killed himself), slaughters indiscriminately, eats babies (even once being placed into a nursery by a woman mistaking him for a child after he was shrunk, which he is later removed from and asks why he had to leave the buffet with lamenting women in the background), and he would fit Exclusively Evil perfectly if not for the fact that he does have a few moments where a softer personality shows up, if only for a moment, and the fact that the majority of the slaughtering he does is to help the Heroes win the war against their Big Bad, even going out of his way to ensure the survival of his allies despite constantly saying that he's only along for the fun of killing. In one particular Crowning Moment of Awesome , Richard rescues Cale'Anon, cauterizing a mortal wound in his throat with fire to keep the elf from bleeding to death, carrying him down a mountainside, slaughtering a massively fat Black Dwarf, slicing the dwarf open, putting Cale inside it, sealing it shut again, and encasing the dwarf in a massive block of ice in order to protect Cale from a massive wave of hot lava that was rushing towards them from the mountainside, simply standing outside the block of ice and waiting for the wave to hit him rather than trying to save himself, as seen here
    • Reflected in Darths and Droids Episode 64:

    Qui-Gon: We'll have to find some money somehow. What's my character's alignment again? <...>
    GM: Lawful Good. In theory.
    Qui-Gon: Right. So if we rob people, we should make sure they're gangsters first.

    • Oasis from Sluggy Freelance adopts this practice when she becomes Podunkton's resident vigilante. Most characters in this storyline have at least a couple moments where they're uneasy about Oasis's casual attitude towards murdering criminals, but considering her history as a Brainwashed assassin and Yandere, this is still seen as a step in the right direction.
      • Plus they're all too terrified to actually do anything about it.
    • Being based on Dungeons & Dragons, The Order of the Stick addresses this. It's notable that usually the heroes don't go 'kill evil and take their stuff', as a general rule. They have a quest to kill a very evil person, and have to fight and kill said evil person's minions. When resident Heroic Comedic Sociopath Belkar mentions it, the others look at him strangely.
      • Recently an interesting case of values backlash has occurred. Many issues ago the party came across and slew a dragon that was considered Exclusively Evil due to what kind of dragon it was. Many issues after that, paladin Miko's wrath at them for slaying a dragon was softened when she found out what kind it was. Cue even more issues later when Varsuvius the wizard cast a spell that ended up killing hundreds of dragons at a single shot, sparking a morality debate all across the forums. Then came this comic, a Wham! Episode that (along with the following comic) showed the full (unpleasant) ramifications of V's actions.
      • The prequel book On the Origin of PCs had an interesting subversion of this: Roy and Durkon meet up when they're with an adventuring party that's supposed to wipe out a group of unruly orcs. Roy manages to deduce that the orcs are just rowdy music fans in town for a concert, and decides to spare them... much to the chagrin of his party, who wanted the XP. That's when he and Durkon decide they really need to part ways with the rest of the party.
      • Also an example of this in the prequel Start of Darkness; Since the goblin race is supposedly 'Always Chaotic Evil', normally good and honest paladins burn and pillage a goblin town without a second thought.
        • It's also noted that the goblins are justifiably angry because of this situation, so much so that their leader ascended to godhood after death. He is currently trying to gain the power of the Snarl (Via his mortal representative Redcloak, who has some of the Dark One's power via his trademark cloak) to use it to extort the more powerful gods into giving the Goblins a lot in life above EXP fodder. My point? The Paladins raid the goblins to protect the gate and to gain strength to do that better, and the goblins raid the humans to keep from being EXP fodder for life. It's a Two-Way-Vicious-Cycle of pay evil unto evil. They each attack the other because its what the other does to them and to ensure their own survival.
        • This could very well be Necessary Evil since Lord Shojo mentioned Soon Kim engaging in a campaign to eradicate anyone who could threaten the gate in order to ensure the stability of the universe. He must have continued this work, as the massacre in Start of Darkness happened during Shojo's reign if the timeline is to be considered.
    • Axe Cop devotes most of his time to cleaving the skulls of "bad guys". Justified, in that the author is six-years old.
      • Also, he can tell good guys from bad guys by their front kicks.
    • Goblins has done a fair job of pulling up the monster view of this trope. The start of the comic features a goblin "war camp", but it is eventually revealed that the camp was established simply to distract heroes and keep them from going deeper into the forest and discovering the village where the women and children live.
      • When the Fortuneteller confronted Forgath, she managed to point out to him the horror being inflicted on the goblins. For a brief moment, Forgath realized that their actions were even more evil than the goblins who had simply been arguing about various things in their camp. Then Fortuneteller ruined it...
    • Evil Inc. had Evil Atom mocked by his old partner Catspaw when he wanted to move from supper-villainy to corporate villainy - instead of superheroes who fight fair, he will have to deal with lawyers, Wall Street sharks and bureaucrats. Then again, he still is a supervillain, and as such can fight red tape with... uh... red tape (or blue, if he's really cheesed off).

    Web Original


    Angry Joe: Sometimes the best way to deal with a madman is to send in another madman...
    Linkara: That is a stupid plan!
    Angry Joe: A stupid plan, for a stupid man!
    Linkara: Are you high?!

    • In the Zero Punctuation review of Fallout: New Vegas, Yahtzee mentions that since he stopped stealing everything that wasn't bolted down, he can now kill bandits with a smug sense of moral supieriority...before taking all of their stuff.

    "Which isn't stealing! They attacked me first, making it mine by Internatinal Law of 'Go F*ck Yourselves".

      • Amusingly, Yahtzee's sarcasm is (probably unintentionally) also literally correct. The Fallout Wastelands have no laws, order, government, or police existing outside what few local enclaves of civilization might still exist, which means that property rights do not exist out there beyond the principle of adverse possession ('I took it, so its mine'.) At this point the only ethical question left is "Is it justified to kill these bandits?", and since they attacked him without provocation and intent to kill the answer is an unqualified "Yes".
      • It could be argued that a raider tribe is an independent micro-state and can thus proclaim sovereignty over unclaimed territory and make and enforce laws (including property laws and inheritance) within that territory. However, that also means that if they fight someone and lose, they've declared war and been defeated. Defeated nations, unless surrender terms were negotiated and a treaty agreed to, fall under the doctrine of unconditional surrender and forfeit all their property to the victor.

    Western Animation

    • Common in children's shows for the main characters with special powers to torment bullies. Hey, they deserve it, right?
      • It's hard to believe that Bulk and Skull were bullies after all the humiliation given to them constantly for about the five original seasons of Power Rangers. The good guys never used their powers explicitly other than dodge attacks, but they did laugh at them a lot in the freeze shot that ended episodes.
        • They were pretty bad in the first season (Both in the sense of not being nice, but also just not good at being bullies), but later on they got better.
      • Danny Phantom sometimes got a What the Hell, Hero? or Not So Different speech for messing with the bullies in his school with his ghost powers. This rarely lasted more than an episode.
        • The first of these amounting to a B-plot aesop about judging people. The ghost of the week showed up while Danny was getting his revenge on the Jock/Bully Dash, and jumps to the conclusion that Danny is the bully, irresponsibly using his powers to torment an undeserving victim. Ghost proceeds to expel Danny to a Ghost Zone area with the main plot being Danny trying to escape, while the B-plot had Possesed!Danny subtly using his powers to help and befriend Dash, who didn't act so terrible while this was going on.
    • On Avatar: The Last Airbender, Katara uses this logic to defend her theft of a Waterbending scroll: "Stealing is wrong... unless it's from pirates." She conveniently forgets this two seasons later when she chides Toph for her gambling schemes, and Toph replies, "Hey, I only cheated because he was cheating. I cheated a cheater. What's wrong with that?" The kids never learn any Aesop contradicting this.
      • To be fair, in the pirates example Katara is reclaiming stolen property that she is the rightful owner of.[2]
      • Katara wasn't even complaining that the scams were wrong, but that they were likely to attract attention from potential enemies. She's absolutely right.
      • It may technically be a subversion as they eventually start scamming people who weren't cheating, and they still get away with it.
      • This was also implied to be what Katara used to justify the use of Bloodbending—a technique explicitly played up to be terrible and bad and ultimate evil yadda yadda yadda—on a Fire Nation soldier because she thought he was the one who murdered her mother in cold blood. Only it wasn't him it turns out. Oops.
        • The episode which introduced bloodbending itself actually plays with this trope. The definitely-evil waterbender who created the technique forces Katara to learn it despite her hesitation about the moral consequences:

    Katara: I don't know if I want that kind of power...
    Hama: It doesn't matter whether you want it. The power exists. They tried to WIPE US OUT, Katara. This is war and you have to use whatever weapons are available to you.

    • Regarding The Southern Raiders, Katara hunts down Yon Rha initially intending to kill him. She does not do so, but only because she decides he is a detestable, pathetic piece of work who is Not Worth Killing.
    • While her motivation being purely personal revenge does put a fairly gray context on it Yon Rha is still a military officer of the nation that is at war with Katara's home nation, that she's been a military combatant in the name of for the past several seasons by this point.
    • Matrix, from the third and fourth seasons of ReBoot, tends towards this. Immediately after his age-up, he was a Type IV Anti-Hero who believed that all viruses should be eradicated. Later in the season, he cooled down a bit, even sparing Megabyte's life at the end.
    • In The Fairly OddParents, Timmy eventually wishes Vicky was young enough for him to be her babysitter so he could get his revenge, doing the exact same kind of things she did to him to her. Now if Vicky had actually been the same person she was as an adult, it'd have been well deserved...but it feels awful because she's at an age where she wasn't evil and is just a poor five year old girl. This further backfires when Vicky gets Cosmo and Wanda due to how bad Timmy made her feel and uses them to take her own revenge on him. Ultimately, Timmy learns his Aesop and decides, before returning her to normal, giving her a great day.
    • The Simpsons seems considerably fond of this trope. "22 Short Films About Springfield" ends with a grown man Nelson made fun of pulling down Nelson's pants, ordering him to walk down the street with his pants down, telling everyone on the street that now is their chance to make fun of Nelson, and everyone in town pointing and laughing at him at the same time. And then Bart and Milhouse pour ketchup and mustard on Nelson's face.
    • Very much the subject of Batman: Under the Red Hood. The villain, Red Hood, who is actually Jason Todd, the 2nd Robin is trying to prove to Batman that his code against killing is inadequate and he can be a better crime-fighter by just murdering criminals.
    • Terry does this often in Batman Beyond, clearly not having the same moral code his mentor does. A good example of this is the episode "Final Cut". Mutro Botha (a notorious and unrepentant assassin) is marked by fellow assassin Curare, and seeks help from Batman, the one man who was able to outfight her. Terry at first refuses to help and is unswayed by his claim she'll go after him next ("Thanks for the warning," says Terry before turning to leave) and only agrees to help once Botha reveals he has a bomb planted in Gotham. Ultimately, Botha is still taken down by Curare, who uses a poison that reduces him to a vegetative state. Max is upset about this, but Terry gives a brief argument on the justification of the Trope:

    Terry: Listen, Max, ever hear the expression 'live by the sword die by the sword'? Mutro was an assassin, he made his own bed.

    • The Powerpuff Girls did this occasionally, notable times being "Beat Your Greens" (where they defeat the invading Broccoloids by eating them) and "Getting Twiggy With It" (when they initially want to punish Mitch for abusing Twiggy by letting Twiggy eat him).

    Real Life

    • As referenced in the page quote, Prison Rape is often considered more acceptable, in the eyes of guards, fellow prisoners, and the general public alike, when done to rapists, especially those who rape children. In practice, however, not everyone in jail for rape is actually guilty anyway. So often times a consequence of this approach is that more non-rapists get raped. Oops.
    • Typically evil things such as murder or theft can be instead lawful or, in rare cases, morally obligated. Lethal force in self-defense or the defense of others is the most obvious.
    • The original meaning of "outlaw" was a status inflicted on criminals (by means of a "Writ of Outlawry"), which allowed anybody to do whatever they wanted to them, as they were "no longer protected by law." Expect this argument to be brought up in any debate on the treatment/interrogation of "enemy combatants."
      • To this day the Geneva Convention provisions regarding POWs apply only to prisoners captured from an enemy force that is itself in compliance with the Geneva Conventions. Indeed, this is intended to be the primary enforcement mechanism for the Geneva Conventions -- you obey them because otherwise you will not be protected by them if you yourself are captured. This situation is complicated somewhat by individual nations making provisions in their own legal codes that enemy prisoners are to be treated in X fashion regardless, or by separate treaties such as the UN Convention Against Torture.
    • On that note Pirates were dubbed Hostis humani generis (enemy of mankind). Of course, nations were happy to hire "Privateers" who were essentially pirates that would only prey on ships belonging to nations you didn't like, so having one ally in mankind did have its advantages.
    • Secret agents have been said to have jobs basically consisting of performing criminal acts outside their state's borders, justified by how the agents of their enemies are doing the same to their state: Trespassing, breaking and entering, theft, fraud, blackmail, kidnapping, murder...
    • There have been interviews with Mob hitmen in which they defend themselves by saying that they only killed other gangsters. This is, however, demonstrably false.
    • The Real Life sport of "mugu baiting." The objective is to string along a 419 scammer, getting them to waste as much time and money as possible and utterly humiliate themselves in their attempts to complete the scam, before finally breaking off contact. Embarrassing photos and emails will often be posted on baiting websites as trophies.
      • Don't forget a lot of 419 scams start off with "I'm the former dictator/corrupt official of [Insert Horribly Misgoverned Country Here] please help me get my embezzled wealth out of this country before it gets taken back by the people I stole it from." Certainly, the people who fall for this are more stupid than evil, but it's clear that even if the offer was legitimate, you'd still be willingly assisting the recovery of blood money.
    • While serving in Afghanistan, Prince Harry was reported to have worn a baseball cap with the slogan "We do bad things to bad people" on it. The phrase is a common unofficial slogan for armed forces regiments.
    • The motto of the CRASH anti-gang squad that was at the heart of the 1990's Los Angeles Police Department Rampart scandal: "We Intimidate Those Who Intimidate Others."
    • The traditional punishment for child molesters in some Native American cultures is reputed to have been: stripping the offender naked, coating him in tar, seating him on a log, nailing his offending organ to the log, handing him a dull knife, and then setting the log on fire. Either he castrated himself very slowly, or else he was burned alive. Either way, the punishment was considered appropriate to the crime.
    • Some arguments for the death penalty basically boil down to this trope: "These criminals have given up their right to live, therefore we conclude that killing them is the right thing to do."
    • The legal defence of Provocation can lower a Murder to a Manslaughter. That is, if someone provokes you by scaring, insulting, or belittling you to the point you kill them, your sentence will more than likely be halved.
    • The Romans were particularly fond of this trope. Pirates, rebels, and the worst kinds of criminals were crucified. That is, they were tied or nailed to a cross (yes, the same kind Jesus was executed on) and left hanging there until they were too weak to lift themselves into a position where they could breathe. It took days, and carrion birds would sometimes get an early start, since the victims were unable to fight back. It was so horrible that the Latin word 'cruciare,' for 'torture' is derived from the Latin for cross (crux) and is where we get the word 'excruciating'... and Crucio, incidentally.
    • It was well known in the latter stages of World War II that Waffen-SS units tended to have fewer prisoners taken alive if they came up against Canadian units (after the murder of Canadian soldiers in Normandy) and American units (after the massacre of American prisoners at Malmédy). There are also reports that German troops, especially if they were wearing SS uniforms, tended to have low survival rates if found in the vicinity of recently-liberated concentration camps.
    • The Dachau Massacre is what happens when American soldiers run into a concentration camp that hasn't yet been abandoned by its guards, one of whom had the stones to kill an unarmed prisoner in plain view of approaching American soldiers.
    • When Osama bin Laden was killed by members of SEAL Team Six in 2011, there wasn't much complaint when it turned out he'd basically been executed by a government hit squad that wasn't particularly interested if Osama would be alive for trial, even by people usually critical of American military action or mistreatment of prisoners.
      • See above re: warfare. The enemy military headquarters is considered a legitimate target for commando raids.
    • Lynch mobs, at least when the person was genuinely guilty. "String em up!" being the catch phrase. Sort of justified during the Wild West when waiting for a circuit judge could take over a season and the natives are too angry about a murder/robbery/whatever to care about waiting.
    • The killers in the racial murder of Stephen Lawrence, where the only motive for the murder was the fact that Stephen was black, had constant abuse shouted at them when they were in the public eyes. The policemen leading the killers (who would ordinarily have arrested the shouters) didn't seem to mind (since it deflected a little blame for their taking so long to solve the case).
    • The so called lex talionis or mirror punishment was enforced in ancient Israelite, Roman, Celtic, Germanic and many other cultures. It is still on the books of a few modern Islamic countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia (it is almost never granted). Known as Qisas, it was last invoked in 2009, when a woman blinded by a vitrol-thrower successfully demanded the same to be done to him (she pardoned him before the sentence was carried out).
    • Amusingly, the National Hockey League can feature this. Some chippy pest on the other team rough up your star player? Start a fight. Same guy "accidentally" ran into your goalie? Start a fight. Some guy dares to wear a different color shirt than you on your ice? Start a fight. "Enforcer" type players are pretty much paid to pay evil unto evil.
    • The death of Muammar Gaddafi can pretty much be summarized entirely as this.
    1. though this turns out to be a final spiteful lie
    2. As the only living waterbender of the Southern Water Tribe, she is by default the chief waterbender and thus the legitimate custodian of any of the tribe's waterbending instructional materials.