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Villains Wiki
♪Now take Sir Francis Drake, the Spanish all despise him.
But to the British, he's a hero and they idolize him.
It's how you look at buccaneers that makes them bad or good.
And I see us as members of a noble brotherhood!♪
~ Long John Silver in Muppet Treasure Island.
I'm not evil, I'm nuanced.
~ Kevin Levin

The "Grey Zone" is for morally-ambiguous individuals, partners in crime, families, teams, cults, gangs, imperialists, hostile species, corporations and organizations. They can be On & Off villains, Anti-Villains, Anti-Heroes, and Protagonists. It could also be a combination of these.

The main characteristic of a person or group in the "Grey Zone" is that some will consider them dangerous, criminal or "evil" while others may see them as good, scapegoats, or fighting for the right thing (even if their methods are wrong).

Some characters in fiction are deliberately designed to be in the Grey Zone and it is up to the reader, viewer or audience in total to decide if they are a "hero" or a "villain". As a result, each reader or viewer will probably have a different view of the character. V and Ozymandias are two classic examples.

Many grey zone characters are enigmatic. The enigmatic element can range from Lovecraftian horrors who possess alien morality (e.g. SCP-2521), characters whose personalities and motivations are either ambiguous or completely unknown (e.g. The Entity and Cartoon Cat), to characters whose identity is unknown and open to interpretation (e.g. Third Killer).

The most unique case about grey zone characters is that they aren't beholden to good nor evil and they can also be responsible for keeping both moralities in balance, namely both good and evil. However, on the other side of the coin is that they can seek to redeem characters as much as benevolent characters do and they can also seek to put an end to ongoing conflicts and peacefully end them.

On very rare cases, characters who are truly neutral also do exist and, examples of that are personifications of Death, Truth from Fullmetal Alchemist, and Zen-oh from Dragon Ball Super.

HIGHLY IMPORTANT: Villains that are Pure Evil can NEVER be in this category, for they remain completely irredeemable, whereas the Grey Zone belongs to morally ambiguous characters. Neutral alignment Pure Evil villains should instead fall under Neutral Evil. Even if "grey villains" commit crimes heinous enough to cross the Moral Event Horizon, there is usually an understandable reason behind said act. For instance, in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Severus Snape murders Albus Dumbledore on the Astronomy Tower, but then it later turns out that Dumbledore was already dying from the Marvolo Gaunt's ring curse anyway and begged Snape to give him a mercy killing.

Also, relatable villains such as tragic characters can count unless they are simply evil (Eren Yeager, Kaneki Ken, Reiner Braun). Furthermore, redeemed villains do not necessarily count unless said character was morally ambiguous before their eventual redemption (e.g. Catwoman, Kuvira, and Ajunta Pall).

See Also

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