Trope Workshop:Setting Alignment

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This is a Trope Workshop page, still under consideration for creation.
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Trope Workshop Guidelines

This is the concept of Character Alignment applied to an entire setting... with all the benefits and pitfalls described for that trope.

The two-axis plane used to determine tone of the setting:

  • Grim - Noble axis determines the people of the setting. They can generally be good (noble setting), or generally be bad (grim setting), or more balanced in between (neutral).
  • Dark - Bright axis determines the place they live in. Can be generally a very nice place (bright), savage and hostile (dark), or more balanced in between (neutral). Needs a better name - see Light Is Not Good and Dark Is Not Evil.

Compare Character Alignment.

[1] [2]


(almost) everything is nice, (almost) everyone is nice.
Common for children shows and sorts of utopia that treat audience like children.

Noble Neutral

The world is not that good, or just wild, but everyone is generally good.
Common setting for light Heroic Fantasy [1], or Protagonists Versus Environment plots.


The world is horrible, but the people are generally good. They cannot beat the darkness, but so long as they fight, they hold it at bay.
Common for Heroic Fantasy.


The world is very nice, the people not so much, but most won't do anything really bad until pushed.
Mostly used for argumentative political/philosophical Author Tracts, comedy leaning toward slapstick, dramedy[2], and/or twists of Noblebright in a more challenging direction.

True Neutral/Neutralboring

Reality is the standard. Risks to become boring [3] and/or to turn into kaleidoscope [4].
Quasi-real settings[5] have to try and stick close enough, while some others just don't move far from it.


The world sucks, the people don't seem to care all too much. A dramatic or nihilistic setting. The place for insignificant heroes who futilely rail against the popular villains, and defeat them, only for another to rise just as soon after. Can be depressing and as such risks Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy[6].
Common for Dark and other non-Heroic fantasy.


The world is mostly nice, but the people mostly are complete bastards.
See also: The Fair Folk. Or perhaps the sillier misanthropic fiction.


The world isn't very nice, but the people make it worse. The way misanthropists see the world.
Common for tragedy.


The world is nasty as it is, and the people make it even worse. There are no heroes, and those that try not only achieve nothing, but often make things worse, for themselves and others. Risks Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy[7].
Common for Villain Sue fiction. Occasionally used for Heroic Fantasy[8].

Examples of Setting Alignment include:

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Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

Comic Books[edit | hide]

Fan Works[edit | hide]

Film[edit | hide]

Literature[edit | hide]

Live-Action Television[edit | hide]

Music[edit | hide]

Myths and Legends[edit | hide]

Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

Oral Tradition[edit | hide]

Pinball[edit | hide]

Podcasts[edit | hide]

Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

Puppet Shows[edit | hide]

Radio[edit | hide]

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

Theater[edit | hide]

Video Games[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

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Web Video[edit | hide]

Other Media[edit | hide]

Real Life[edit | hide]

  1. there are many heroes, and the bad guys are simple, but the world itself still offers some challenge
  2. as the world is too mild to interrupt character drama
  3. without constant shaking along the Grim-Bright axis by dramedy elements
  4. if the shaking is applied along the Dark-Bright axis instead
  5. thrillers, etc
  6. all is dark and characters fail to save the audience's interest
  7. as it's a foregone conclusion that everyone is do-o-o-o-omed either way
  8. in "light shines brightest in darkness" way