|“||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.|
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). These villains try to act evil, but they have some positive and redeeming qualities.
Some characters in fiction are deliberately designed to be in the Grey Zone and it is up to the reader or viewer 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 is a classic example of such a character, so is Ozymandias.
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 and purely neutral also do exist, and examples of that will be the personification of Death, the Living Tribunal from Marvel Comics, Truth of Fullmetal Alchemist, or Zen-oh from Dragon Ball Super.
Villains that are Pure Evil can never be in this category for they remain completely irredeemable whereas the Grey Zone belong to morally ambiguous characters. 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 killed 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.
Relatable villains such as Tragic characters DO NOT count either if they are simply evil. Furthermore, redeemed villains do not necessarily count unless said character was morally ambiguous before their eventual redemption.
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