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Arya: You're fine with murdering little boys, but thieving is beneath you?
The Hound: A man's got to have a code.
Whether someone is a villain, geek, jerk, pervert, etc. -- one often finds those things that can only go so far. These characters find that when they're in a situation where they would cross a certain line, they don't do it. Or they get disgusted at those who do cross that line.

A Super-Trope to Even Evil Has Standards, Even Nerds Have Standards.


Examples:

Anime/ Manga

  • In Magi Labyrinth of Magic, Ka Kyoubun attempt to make King Sinbad marry Princess Kougyoku, his superior, by making it look like King Sinbad had violated Princess Kougyoku is failed because of his henchmen, which he promises promotion, can't stand Princess Kougyoku cries.

Comics/Comic Strips

  • Even the Internet has standards as this Garfield comic strip.

Fan Fiction

Live Action TV

  • In Will and Grace, Lionel thinks Karen is a hooker when he first meets her:

 Lionel: You don't have sex for money?

Karen: No, I do not! For jewels, for furs, for mixed securities, like a lady! But for money? How dare you!

  • Charlie from Two and A Half Men is a Casanova, but on one occasion, he almost slept with a woman who may be his half-sister. They didn't know then, and their mothers told them barely on time. Charlie's reaction was to say he draws the line at incest, but his possible half-sister's reaction...she was willing to continue.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Stannis is pressured to sacrifice his daughter by Melisandre, a Red Priestess whose God demands human sacrifices in the form of fire. With his army stuck in the snow miles from his enemy and the situation getting desperate, he eventually agrees, allowing his own daughter to be burned alive in front of the entire army. The snow does thaw, but half his men desert with all the horses, leading him to be defeated in ensuing battle. Even for the jaded people of Westeros, watching their general murder his young, terrified daughter is far beyond their ability to tolerate.
    • Sandor Clegane aka the Hound provides the page quote. After finding out that he declined to make off with some gold when he had the chance but rode down a peasant boy early in the series, Arya darkly observes to the Hound, "You're fine with murdering little boys, but thieving is beneath you." The Hound retorts, "Man's got to have a code." Then, at the first opportunity, he robs a kindly farmer which causes Arya to point out that he said he's not a thief, and the Hound simply tells her "I wasn't." He also justifies his theft by claiming the farmer was too soft and wouldn't survive anyway. Sadly, he was correct with that dark observation. It is very notable that when he later finds the corpses of the farmer and his daughter, he feels profound guilt for what he did to the point of personally burying their skeletons despite the freezing weather at the time.
    • A city watchman refuses an order to kill an infant girl, leaving Janos Slynt to do it himself.
    • Tyrion is so disgusted by Janos Slynt's actions that he revokes his title and banishes him to the Wall, though he also has the personal motivation of getting rid of a lackey of Cersei who back-stabbed the previous Hand of the King. Tyrion, while a member of the closest thing to a "villainous" faction in this series (at least before he joins Team Daenerys), fits this trope rather than Even Evil Has Standards due to being a good person at heart.
    • Zigzagged with the hired killer Bronn, who recognizes Joffrey as a vicious sadist, is horrified by what Tywin did to Tyrion's first wife and openly shares Tyrion's disgust for Meryn Trant's mistreatment of Sansa and calls him out for brutalizing those who are weaker than him, yet also declares that his only quibble with murdering an infant girl would be his payment for doing so.
    • Maester Wolkan is visibly horrified when Ramsay drives a dagger into his father's heart, and then when he asks to send for Lady Walda and her son. Wolkan knows full well what's about to happen.
    • Jaime Lannister has several:
      • He knocks down a soldier who unceremoniously stabs Ned in the leg during his duel with the latter. When talking with his father in "You Win or You Die", he comments that this act made him spare Ned's life as killing him in this situation wouldn't be "clean."
      • He also feels contempt for rapists. So what the fuck was that in "Breaker of Chains"?
      • The reason he killed Aerys — he wanted to burn down King's Landing with wildfire.
      • Unlike his father, sister, and his son, he has no problem with homosexuality and even sympathises with them, given his own affection.
      • He defies Cersei's wishes by having Brienne find Sansa and take her to safety so that Cersei can't harm her, and gives up his sword Oathkeeper to her for that purpose.
      • The Season 6 finale implies he's horrified to see the mass murder and destruction Cersei has wreaked upon King's Landing and their own family.
    • Varys:
      • The Black Magic practiced by the Lord of Light religion disturbs him, and the thought of a follower of that religion sitting on the Iron Throne terrifies him.
      • He's visibly disturbed when Joffrey decides that he will behead Eddard Stark there and then. After all, he did do his best to help Ned when he could.
      • His opposition to Littlefinger is due in no small part to his awareness of how Littlefinger will happily watch the realm burn so long as it allows him to advance, and he is visibly disgusted by just how low Baelish will go.
      • He is visibly appalled when Joffrey announces that he plans to serve Robb Stark's severed head to Sansa at his wedding feast. Heck, not just visibly; he outright breaks his normal effete facade and insistently reminds Joffrey that Sansa is now his aunt by marriage. It isn't clear if he's appalled by how hurtful this would be to Sansa herself, or shocked that Joffrey's so bat-shit insane that he would do this in front of the entire court and not consider how bizarre this would appear to the lords of the realm (though probably both).
    • Despite his love for violence, even Robert is speechless when he learns the Mad King had been saying "Burn them all" for hours before his death.
    • Say what you will about Selyse's treatment of Shireen, but she breaks down when her daughter is burned alive and screams for her help and unsuccessfully tries to prevent it.
    • Matthos is visibly disgusted when Salladhor expresses his intent to claim Cersei as his concubine.
  • How I Met Your Mother: Barney, despite being obsessed with sex and advocating it on almost any occasion, considers it valid when one of Robin's boyfriends breaks up with her due to a bedroom thing she tried. Robin being Barney's own ex, he knows exactly what thing it is, and it's implied it even made him uncomfortable...
    • Though it's never stated outright, it is clear he is also above sleeping with underage girls.
    • While very much the "love 'em and leave 'em" type, Barney becomes visibly upset when he confronts a jilted ex-lover and can't seem to remember her, declaring he was never thought himself so base as to sleep with a woman and forget her. Somewhat subverted as the woman he was talking to was not actually the jilted ex, which is why be couldn't place her face.
    • Outside of the above, it's practically a running gag for him to claim some kind of standards, only to break them.
  • In Dexter, complete Jerkass Quinn shows up at a party thrown by his ex-girlfriend, Deborah, and he has some anonymous slutty girl with him. He acts drunk and stupid enough to annoy everyone at the party, but the slutty girl doesn't mind, until she finds out that she's only there to make Deborah jealous.
  • The Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew watched but refused to riff on Child Bride as it was worse than Manos and the subject matter disgusted even them.

Video Games

  • Soul series:
    • Taki is a shinobi dedicated purging demons, as well as anything that's related to Soul Edge. On the other hand, she draws the lines on the following:
      • When it comes to the titular Soul Calibur, she really doesn't like the idea if both Soul Edge and Soul Calibur were to clash, where it leads to calamitous results. This is justified in her ending in Soulcalibur IV, she prevents Siegfried from his Utopia Justifies the Means MO gone wrong.
      • And, the reason why she was unable to defeat the demon Arahabaki who possesed Natsu? She could not bring herself to kill the infant Natsu at that time, since then, she sealed the demon within Natsu and trained the latter to atone for her guilt.
    • Patroklos might be a self-centered brat blinded by his own sense of justice, he's riled up finding out Pyrrha's experience of abuse at the hands of Tira. Also, he really condemned Elysium's objective to have Pyrrha killed.
    • Setsuka spent her years getting revenge on Mitsurugi for her master's death, until she comes in full circle that it won't bring her master back. In one of her endings in Soulcalibur III, she warns a child who attempts to kill one of the enemies in the temple not to become like her. Before Soulcalibur V, she warns Patroklos about the consequences of dedicating his life for revenge, he refused to listen.
  • Persona 3: Hidetoshi Odagiri is a stickler for the rules who spends weeks, if not months, tracking down a smoker who left a cigarette butt in the boys' bathroom. That being said, he doesn't agree with the school's planning on expelling the smoker, and gets into an argument with a teacher who becomes suspicious of the female protagonist's behavior, thereby costing him a deal that could have earned him a recommendation.
  • Persona 5:
    • The Phantom Thieves of Hearts, despite stealing the "hearts" of corrupt adults to make them confess to their crimesnever kill anyone. This becomes a plot point when Goro Akechi, a detective on the Thieves' case, notes that while he doesn't approve of their methods, he points that they have never killed before and ergo, someone else must be behind the murders of the principal of Shujin Academy and Kunikazu Okumura. Upon finding out the identities, he proposes an alliance to solve the case due to the desperation of the police making them resort to drastic measures, something he can't abide. Painfully subverted since not only does he sell you out, he's the one that has been murdering people and used the whole thing to try and get close. The Thieves outsmart him and end up confronting him in Shido's Palace.
    • Related to the above, early on, Ryuji hates Kamoshida, for physically abusing his team, overtraining Ryuji until he broke his leg (thus ending his career as a runner), and having the track team shut down. That said, when Morgana suggests that Kamoshida might die if his heart is stolen, Ryuji seriously reconsiders it, believing that going around secretly doing whatever he wants would make him no different. Of course, after Kamoshida rapes Ann's friend Shiho and causes her to try to kill herself, Ryuji decides to take the risk to see Kamoshida brought to justice, saying he doesn't care what happens to him anymore.
    • Morgana insults and looks down on Ryuji so often that one can only assume he enjoys it, but he draws the line at rubbing salt in the wound; when Ryuji gets the team caught with his lack of an indoor voice, Morgana says that they made "a crucial mistake, but not a critical one" and they'll just have to recover from there on. After all, Morgana still remembers from April's forays that Ryuji was scapegoated for the fall of the track team, so he doesn't say anything that implies Ryuji might have brought this new team to an end. 
    • The Phantom Thieves also refuse to steal the hearts of targets whose crimes are too minor. During Mishima's Confidant, the protagonist refuses to change the heart of a famous actor just because of some rumors about his involvement with an idol singer (especially since Mishima's suggesting it to make the Phantom Thieves more famous), or do the same to Akiyama, an old acquaintance of Mishima's who bullies him. The latter suggestion even causes the Phantom Thieves to consider changing Mishima's heart, although they decide against it after his own Shadow has an epiphany.
    • While Sae Niijima is a borderline Amoral Attorney who prioritizes winning cases over actually pursuing justice, to the extent that she's willing to twist the truth and manipulate evidence to make innocent people look guilty, she's disturbed by the Police Brutality that was visited upon the protagonist and seems legitimately concerned about him when he nearly blacks out at a few points. It's also implied that for all Sae's cynicism, she hasn't yet crossed the line into actually forging evidence. It's a plot point in that she has a Palace and ties into events with Goro Akechi, since he points out she may start falsifying evidence in her attempts to find the Thieves. They do infiltrate her palace and her sister, Makoto, talks some sense into her.
    • In the Wheel of Fortune Confidant, Chihaya sells worthless Holy Stones to people for 100,000 yen (roughly $1,000 USD), albeit because she believes that people can't overturn fate without their power. However, when a woman in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend comes to her, asking to buy another one, Chihaya, instead suggests that the woman break up with him.

Web Original


Western Animation

  • While Glenn Quagmire of Family Guy does a lot of perverted things, there are some lines he won't cross, like sleeping with Meg when she's desperate for affection.
    • Though in a more recent episode, she turned 18 (and thus became legal), at which point Quagmire immediately and shamelessly starts seducing her, and almost sleeps with her, before Peter and Lois stop it in time.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, Perry the Platypus had thwarted many of Dr. Doofenshmirtz's Evil Plans, no matter how silly they would get. But when his scheme was learning whale speak, just so he could insult a whale for stealing his girlfriend, Perry left in disgust, considering it to not be evil enough to warrant him wiping the floor with Dr. Doofenshmirtz.
  • In the Rugrats Movie, Tommy is more willing to put up with Dil's brattiness than everyone else, due to the fact that he happens to be his older brother. But when Dil among other things selfishly hoards his baby bottle for himself, Tommy eventually has enough and nearly gives Dil away to the monkeys. This causes Dil to regret his actions and he becomes a MUCH better younger brother.
  • Beavis and Butthead
    • Even the title characters has standards, Butthead can’t stand male nudity, especially if Beavis (his honourary brother) is naked.
    • David Van Driessen maybe a hippie, but you’re asking for trouble if he finds out about “inappropriate” touching.
    • Buzzcut may dish out abuse on the boys but its okay if he’s is THE ONE dishing it out, anyone else… GAME OVER.
  • Throughout the series of Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy, the kids of the cul-de-sac often had their issues with the title characters but they lived in fear of Eddy’s brother. At the film, when it was revealed that Eddy’s brother is abusive toward Eddy; the children including the Kanker Sisters were all disturbed at it.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Pizza Delivery", after Spongebob and Squidward go through hell and high water trying to deliver a pizza to a customer, the customer chews Spongebob out for forgetting his drink (a drink he didn't even order). Squidward, who doesn't like Spongebob at the best of times, is infuriated by the guy making Spongebob cry and ends up telling the customer he can have his pizza "on the house".
    • In a later episode, Mr. Krabs is willing to sell Spongebob's soul to the Flying Dutchman for all the money the ghost has in his pocket at the time, a mere 62 cents. Squidward, who'd normally be happy to be rid of Spongebob, is absolutely disgusted with Krabs for doing so, especially since the entire reason the Dutchman offered said money to Mr. Krabs for Spongebob in the first place is because Spongebob stuck up for Krabs to save him from the Dutchman, and flat-out tells him that he should be ashamed of himself for doing so.
    • Speaking of Mr. Krabs, he's normally so obsessed with money and profits that he doesn't care about his employees, but when Squidward's rival Squilliam comes to town with the express purpose of humiliating him, Mr. Krabs reveals that even he doesn't like the snobby Squilliam, and offers to help Squidward turn the Krusty Krab into a gourmet restaurant to "wipe the floor with him."
    • As the series went on and on, Mr. Krabs went from a well-rounded character who cared about money a little too much to a character who hardly cared about anything except money. But the one thing that no amount of money could change his mind over is the love that goes into making Krabby Patties. In one episode, he barely hesitated to sell the Krusty Krab to a corporation for an obscene amount of money, but after coming back and finding out that they used synthetic goo to make the burgers on a conveyor belt, he sabotaged their operation and didn't hesitate to spend every cent they gave him to buy the restaurant back, even when he only needed half.
    • SpongeBob of all people, despite being a happy-go-lucky, nice guy, has his limits. "Can You Spare a Dime?" demonstrates that his kindness shouldn't be pushed too far as Squidward and ultimately, Mr. Krabs found that out the hard way.
    • In "Sportz?" Sandy is appalled upon finding out Squidward setting up a game where he has SpongeBob and Patrick hurt each other using her sports equipment just to get back on the two for annoying him. Squidward learns the hard way when Sandy beats him in his own game.
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