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  • According to this trope, neither good nor evil is the ideal state because...well, that varies. Usually it's because without evil, good becomes too extreme and ends up doing things that aren't actually very good at all. Ignoring the fact that this is oversimplified bullshit (that's right, all "good people" are crazed zealots waiting to happen, suck on that, every religion ever), it's logically inconsistent. Extremism, especially of the cartoonish variety seen in fiction, is evil. It's evil. It's evil. So the lesson of this trope is that being too good is bad because when you're too good you're also not good enough, even though by being too goo-SCREW YOU. That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Face it: eliminating all evil from the world is nothing but a good thing, because, pay attention that is the definition of the word "evil." Saying anything otherwise isn't just a logical paradox of the most offensively obvious kind, it's also the worst lesson you could ever teach anybody: don't even try to be good, because good in its purest form is just a different kind of evil in disguise. Be neutral, because being neutral is good. OH WAIT...
    • Yeah, as it says on the main page, if having good and evil balanced is good, then there's more good than evil so they're not balanced. See Batman the Brave And The Bold with the villain Equinox, who wants to maintain this balance and is portrayed as a complete madman, and rightly so.
      • You're equivocating. A balance between good and evil is "good" in the sense of "desirable", not in the sense of "good and evil".
      • That would make sense if there was some other definition of "good" being used. Unless the side of "good" is being re-defined to something other than "the people who want what is best for everybody", then there's no equivocating.
    • It depends on the type of "evil". Usually this trope is used in a rather stupid way, but sometimes it has some truth to it. Greed is a good example as a type of evil that can be considered "necessary", as while it can cause problems, humanity has basically gained everything it has thanks to, well, wanting it.People go to work so they can have money to buy things, and society largely developed because people wanted more than what they had. Going to war is sometimes necessary and hatred can be used to help fight an enemy. In a lot of not too obvious ways, "evil" is a part of everyday life. I suppose in a series where evil is personified in the forces of darkness, permanently getting rid of them would require getting rid of what makes us human. This trope isn't as simple as most writers portray it as, but it does kind of make sense at a larger level.
    • Additionally, purging all evil in our universe is, according to most, philosophically impossible. Without getting too religious, it seems we live in an imperfect universe; pure goodness wouldn't "work." Though perfect goodness is something to be strived for, it's an unreachable goal. This doesn't mean we shouldn't try, but it does mean we can't delude ourselves into thinking we'll ever be "done" ridding the world of all evil--this kind of attitude is what leads to your Well Intentioned Extremists. Now, as to how much thought goes into the writing as far as this is concerned...
      • That would depend on exactly how "evil" and "pure goodness" is defined. Ridding the world of evil is physically feasible for some values of "evil". It would require universal transhuman brain modification though. Your mileage may vary on whether that would be a good idea or not.
      • A somewhat easier way to purge all evil from the universe would be the extinction of all life, because rocks have no concept of good and evil. Conversely, for the extinction itself to be neither good nor evil, it would take a natural disaster.
    • Taken from the actual page: "Sometimes this is justified with the universe becoming boring, there being nothing to struggle against leading to stagnation or collapse from within, ultimate good being repressive (no one can hurt anyone else and is always nice... because they have no freedom (possibly including one's own life choices or lack of free will), all are the same, ect.), or evil having attributes which are positive in moderation (selfishness, ambition). This can confuse people who confuse good (the opposite of evil) with good (the opposite of bad)." Nice way of completely missing the point of the trope though, page starter.
      • Seems the page-starter isn't the one missing the point; He/she seems to have the most problem, specifically, with the occasional argument that, without evil, good would turn on itself and become destructive and/or oppressive. The page-starter said nothing of the other arguments.
        • Indeed, the page started with "well, that varies", but it didn't vary at all. Just one point, and that's all. The usual reason for the Balance is the force that drives every plot everywhere: conflict. No conflict, no story.
      • "confuse good (the opposite of evil) with good (the opposite of bad)"- The problem is that evil is bad. Unless you're labeling something that is only bad when taken to extremes as "evil" (Oxygen is evil! We couldn't survive in a pure oxygen environment!) then it is a subset of "bad".
    • Who's to say that a Balance Between Good and Evil is good? It's right there in the name that it's not.
    • The idea that the page starter doesn't like: that without evil, "good guys" will become evil, doesn't actually seem to appear very much. I read through the page, and I only found one example of that, with only some of the good guys going bad. I don't know why they felt to make such a big deal about it, but I don't think it's really that bad a trope. It's just a way of preserving enemies for good guys to fight, which is what most stories are about.
    • Well, now you see, Good and Evil =/= Good and Bad. We say 'Good and Evil' for this trope because of the limits of the language(or at least that's how it should be); we don't have a word for the concepts that this trope is supposed to embody, 'Good' being a placeholder for 'A force which adds; benefits positively,' while 'Evil' is a placeholder for 'A force which subtracts; benefits negatively.' The 'Balance' comes from the fact that too much of something is bad, and too little of something is bad. We say 'Good' for the 'positive' force, and 'Evil' for the 'negative,' because we think that more is always better. Which is simply not true. They are both beneficial. Let's use some examples, using things pulled from last someday's headlines. For one example, food: the 'Good' force gives, which is good, while the 'Evil' takes away. This seems bad, but consider: what happens when you dump fish food into the tank? For another example, cancer: Again, 'Good' gives, while 'Evil' takes away. In this example, 'Good' seems oxymoronically bad. However, hard as this may be to accept, this is not necessarily so. Like all forms of illness, cancer is a part of evolution, which eliminates poor genetic material from the breeding pool. But that's just my interpretation of this trope, and if I choose to ignore the examples due to gross misuse of the conept, well by gummmit, that's my choice!
    • It comes down to this: the one and only way to achieve good, only good and nothing else but good is by taking away choice. You can't have a world of only good unless you take away the freedom of everyone capable of committing evil acts. This is where the association with extremism/totalitarianism comes in "good without evil". You need evil in order to achieve pure good. Otherwise, you just can't do it, even if you lived in a perfect paradise where everything went right for everyone and everyone got what they wanted, there'd still be at least one sick fucker that did it for the EVULZ.
    • In most fiction, Good and Evil are freaking physical forces, unlike the subjective interpretations in the real world. Confusion comes from similar but different definitions of what most people mean when they say "good and evil" and what fictional writers mean when they say it. Of course, the entire fantasy concept of Good and Evil is nonsensical anyways.
  • I think that what we need to remember is that in many Fantasy worlds, Good and Evil are not a point of view or subject to cultural bias or interpretation. Rather in these worlds, Good, Evil, Law and Chaos are fundamental forces of nature. (Instead of gravity, electromagnetism, strong nuclear and weak nuclear, I guess.) Remember, in D&D sentient races, Orcs, Goblins, Elves and Dwarves were not the product of evolution; they were the product of their respective Deities saying, "Hey, check this out!" <Poof!> So that being said, "preserving the balance" literally means maintaining the "appropriate" level of each building block of the universe. Orcs are Always Chaotic Evil because their creator said so. Destroying them is, by definition, a Good act. From that perspective, a Neutral character would say, "Go ahead and defend yourself against the Orc raiders, but don't invade their village and burn it to the ground." I could go on, but I think you get my drift.
    • I think the confusion and complaint here is just over the terms. If a world of absolute Good isn't actually "good", then it doesn't make sense to call that force "good". Instead, we'd probably call it Light, and throw in some Light Is Not Good and Dark Is Not Evil to help explain the reason for the balance. It's sort of like saying that someone can be "too healthy": it doesn't make any sense, as healthy is, by definition, absolutely positive. Now saying someone's "too clean" would make sense, because excess cleaning can weaken the immune system and make you more vulnerable to getting sick. It's kinda the same way with "balance of good and evil". While it doesn't make sense to say there can be "too much good", it's fixed by just understanding it to really mean "balance of light and darkness".
    • This Troper (different from all above) agrees with the Fantasy world interpretation, and thanks the writer for making that excellent point. However, to the response right above this post, I think you may be suffering from some confusion on the terms as well. "Balance of Light and Darkness" doesn't really work in this case either. Light and dark are also on a completely separate spectrum from good and evil, suffering under the same assumption as Chaos and Order at times. What's worse is that you actually linked to Light Is Not Good and Dark Is Not Evil, both of which are about those very mistakes. Admittedly, there probably isn't any term that can properly illustrate 'Good-but-not-too-Good', aside from the understanding of the fact that Good is a word made entirely from a human perspective when we are dealing with concepts that are supposedly much bigger than that. Come to think of it, I think that makes things a little clearer. When we talk about good and evil in terms of being balanced, we are either talking about how one person has the capacity for both or that "Good" and "Evil" are actually totally different from the human understanding of those terms. Most likely, "Good" and "Evil" are two arbitrarily determined forces (Heaven and Hell tend to pull this off quite well, often having angels/demons who run the whole moral spectrum but stick to a series of ideals determined by their faction).
      • I just gave a perfectly good real-life example for you: a person can't be "too healthy", but they can be "too clean". Or if you like, you can't be "too well-fed", but you can be "too full". The English language has absolutely positive terms, and relative terms that are only positive in moderation. Almost everyone here is mistaking "good" as an absolutely positive term for "good" as a relative term. Ironically, if you had understood what I was saying, you would've realized I was supporting the exact same point the person you were agreeing with made, that there's a major difference between absolute and relative terms of "good", even in the real world.
        • I can't think of any other context where "good" is used that way, nor does calling it "good as a relative term" actually explain what it means. That's the real problem: An abstract concept of "good" is being used for this trope, but it's never being defined or explained.
    • If I may toss out an opinion: the alignments are names improperly. So your argument is correct, but unnecessary. 'Evil' is caring about yourself and not others, in other words, being selfish. 'Neutral' (on the good/evil axis) is caring about yourself and others to the extent that you will not actively hurt them, in other words, your average person. 'Good' is caring about others more than yourself, which could be called altruism or charity. This makes a balance make sense--caring too much about everyone means you can't hurt anyone...which means you won't kill the innocent little kid, but neither will you kill the mass-murdering psycho. This is being too Good, not too good, the latter having no in-game mechanic. And Evil is suddenly not only not evil, but not bad--if you only care about yourself, you can make progress work very quickly. This is why Lawful Evil can be so effective at turning everything on it's head. Your alignment is your intention--which isn't necessarily whether you do good, it's whether you are Good. Good people can do evil things, as clearly letting that mass-murderer who has confirmed s/he will kill again live when you are the only one who can stop him/her is.
    • It should be kept in mind that the Spanish Inquisition, in and of itself, was a "good" act, conducted by people who genuinely believed they were exterminating abominations, and the same seems to have applied to some of the lower-ranking Nazis. In a more fictional example, a Heel Face Mind Screw is perfectly "good," and societies in which such things are possible and practical have been written as Utopias, but many of us consider it abhorrent due to a strong belief in free will. When considering such things, a True Neutral individual (something I proudly classify myself as) can in effect have the moral high ground over a Lawful Good one.
      • The fact the people who carried out the Spanish Inquisition thought it was good does not mean it was. And the fact that you bring it up means you are recognizing that it is generally regarded as evil. And it probably means you are in fact taking it for granted that it is evil even if for some odd reason you prefer not to use the word evil.
  • This troper tends to think of it the way they put it in Dragonlance: there are three basic types of morality: Good (white), Evil (black), and Neutral (red). However, the terms apply, for simplicity's sake, in name only. What the three factions really refer to are: Control (white), Ambition (black), and Freedom (red). The characters discuss several times throughout the series how if any one of these gains too much power, than the world is plunged into chaos. When there's too much ambition, people devolve into greedy, power-hungry monsters. When there's too much control, the world devolves into a totalitarian dictatorship. And, of course, too much freedom leads to anarchy. In Amber and Blood, Rhys puts it like this: "A man who stares at the sun too long is as blind as one who walks in pitch darkness." In the case of this trope, "Good" only refers to one part of what makes a "good" or ideal person. You need all three in order to avoid a total crapsack world, hence the balance.
    • Once again, if they don't mean "good" and "evil" when they say it, they shouldn't use those words. A balance between "light" and "dark", chaos and order, control and ambition, etc., would be a different trope, and should be labeled as such. Don't just spin some equivocation fallacy on us instead so that you can end up with a cool-sounding phrase.
      • Isn't the trope meant to cover that? The page says, "You can substitute Light and Darkness or Order and Chaos for Good and Evil with the added bonus of making more sense linguistically".
        • The very fact that they admit that it makes less sense to use the trope as written and labeled should be very telling. We're talking about a balance between good and evil, and if they (like almost every defender on this page) have to add semantic ambiguity to make it even have a semblance of being viable, they should change the name of the trope to reflect that. Besides, what we've been talking about here is the trope played perfectly straight and literal, as it is in many tales.
  • Good and Evil are subjective, man-made concepts, for cripes sake. They mean NOTHING from an objective point of view. What is good to one person is evil to another. Because everybody has different opinions on what good and evil constitute as, to accept other people, you have to accept or at least tolerate certain things you constitute as 'evil', and thus, a balance is there. To try to forcefully erase what you conceive as evil would be an evil act to anyone who viewed that evil as a good or merely neutral, because you enforcing your subjective views unto others, which is obviously heading into Well-Intentioned Extremist territory, so yes, anybody that tries to take away all evil from this balance would be an evil act, at least to the people who value it as a good, and maintaining this balance and accepting evil would be considered good, at least by anyone who considers tolerance for other's opinions to be a good thing.
  • What happens when good weighs too heavily on the scale? Do we get to see the epic struggle of the evil empire attempt to kill off/corrupt enough good people so that balance can be maintained and then cheer for them?
  • Good is Balance, Evil is Imbalance. You can't possibly have too much balance, but you can have too much imbalance. A balance between good (small g) and evil (small e) is Good (big G) while imbalance of the same is Evil (big E). I think that's pretty clear from the Trope description, really. The first posters up there are completely missing the point. It's the balance that's Good, not necessarily the good. Basically, moderation is good, extremism is evil. Coming at it from another direction, opposition is necessary to give things context. If there is a positive there has to be a negative, if something is desirable something else must be undesirable by definition. Accepting this as true means that evil is necessary. The balance of good and evil doesn't necessarily mean it's an equal balance, by which I mean, one unit of evil can be many times as heavy as a unit of good, so to speak. A square inch of gold is much heavier than a square inch of earth, after all. Also, who's to say that good turns to evil when the balance gets too far towards good? If anything it's far more likely that evil would spontaneously be created to balance it out. We're talking about universal forces after all. And if extreme good does become evil, it's predicated on the concepts that a: human beings are flawed and b: choice is necessary for goodness. The only way to get the world in a state where it would be that good would be to eliminate the flaws by eliminating choice. Going back to opposition, a perfectly good society would be a completely zombified society, because without the contrast of evil there can be no good. There would be no spectrum, we'd all be locked to one state. Everlasting euphoria is everlasting numbness... yeah. I could go on for a long time.
    • So it's an Argument for Moderation fallacy?
      • The really annoying part about that idea. Is that it implies that evil is the one force that is absolute (seeing how someone can be so good their evil yet at the same time can't be so evil their good).
  • There's no reason for evil to exist. Natural disasters. Viruses. They're forces of nature. Do you call them good or evil? No. They're freakin' inconvenient, but so what? If Superman was just saving cats and stopping dams from bursting, that's all well and good. Batman doesn't NEED the Joker. Good doesn't NEED Evil. Evil is nothing more than Goodness spoiled. We don't have an idea of evil unless we have an idea of what GOOD is, because, as I said, Evil is parasitic, it is something good gone HORRIBLY wrong. Free will is something that is good. And people can FREELY choose to do good things or things that don't really have a moral label to them. I mean, take eating or drinking or cleaning your teeth. Are those really "moral" or are they just good for your body's upkeep? What we're discussing here is matters of the spirit. So, I repeat...Evil cannot exist without Good. There shouldn't need to be a balance. The only reason there IS one is because Good is just so damn patient and kind and compassionate that, in its infinite mercy, it tries to allow Evil to see the light and finally, one day, freakin' GET that it can't win. As Superman put it in "What's So Funny about Truth, Justice and the American Way", he said he'd keep beating an enemy over and over again until they got it...and he'd do it "Without melting anyone into slag for kicks".
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