Evil Cannot Comprehend Good

Even Evil Cannot Comprehend Good

Azula:The thing I don't understand is why. Why would you do it? You know the consequences.
Mai: I guess you just don't know people as well as you think you do. You miscalculated. I love Zuko more than I fear you.
Azula: No, you miscalculated! You should have feared me more!
~ Azula reveals that all this time, her friendship with Mai and Ty Lee are mere fake that fabricated by her fearmongings.
You're the weak one. And you'll never know love, or friendship. And I feel sorry for you.
~ Harry Potter expressing his pity on Lord Voldemort's incapability to feel love and friendship.

Even Evil Cannot Comprehend Good is a situational phenomenon where, an antagonist or villain is either confused with or unable to comprehend the kindness that displayed by the people, whether they are heroes or those whom they antagonized. Reasons of this are ranges from simply confused with understanding to disgusted/furious with protagonists or other people’s compassion toward each other. For instance, an evildoer was confused by the good doers who tries to protect their loved ones and innocent people that goes so far to the point that they ended up endangered their own lives.

Other examples includes:

  • The villain whom horrified that the heroes whom he/she already brainwashed/possessed able to regain their sense thanks to confrontation with the said heroes’ loved ones. This may led to either the villain him/herself’s downfall or worse, villainous breakdown that ironically result in his/her own death.
  • The evildoers may not know what either love or bond with friends or family, which made them vulnearable to the dark side.
  • The villain may have the hero/heroine cornered, but he/she suddenly did something that he/she never predicted

While this can made the villain became more evil and savage than those whom may retain redeeming qualities, became evil in this way can became the double-edge weapon for themselves as this can be serve as their weakness.

While being popularized by TV Tropes Terms, the elements of this phenomenon is not entirely based on that site: In some cases on how characters, either in real-life or fiction, turned to the dark side such as given only bad examples, mistreated/abused in their childhood without being loved, or in some extent, behave like spoiled brat whom mostly self-centered and had no qualm with the others' need can also resulting them unable to comprehend good or kindness from the others.



  • This is the worst flaw of Lord Voldemort, and the very key for Harry Potter to defeat him: Harry and Dumbledore learned that, from his families' backstory prior to his birth, Voldemort was born due to an impure love between Tom Riddle Sr. and Merope Gaunt, whom put Tom Riddle Sir. under either love potion or Imperius Curse. Behind his manipulative and fearmonging nature toward his Death Eaters, he himself unable to perceive feelings which either compassionate, love, or friendship.
    • In the first book, Quirrel sums up Voldemort's philosophy with the line "There is no good and evil; there is only power and those too weak to seek it." The line is said by Voldemort himself in the movie.
    • His inability to understand the meaning of "master of death" that stumps him. Voldemort considers it immortality because he cannot see the world beyond himself. Harry demonstrates that it is actually walking into death without fear. Ironically enough, this course of action ends with Harry's resurrection and Voldemort's downfall: Harry's own action in letting himself killed was the well-planned strategy for making Voldemort truly mortal for good as on the night when the Dark Lord failed to kill him due to the Sacrificial Protection, Voldemort's soul was heavily damaged by sins of his murders, and one of the piece of his soul was ended up in Harry's body that allow him to use Parseltongue and forming connection between their minds. With Voldemort using his blood to revive himself, the Sacrificial Protection effect on Harry, combined with the said piece of soul, amplifies his chance to resurrection after struck by the Killing Curse, which also held important role for Voldemort's own downfall.
    • When Voldemort challenging Harry to turn himself in and claiming that he will spare the other students of Hogwarts (or the pure-bloods, at least) if he does so, Harry points out that with this move, Voldemort made the exact same mistake again as he did the night he killed his parents: Forgetting the power inherent in a Heroic Sacrifice. Inherent in the challenge is the fact that he assumes Harry is using everyone around him as armor. It is incomprehensible to him that Harry's friends are fighting and dying of their own free will to protect someone else. Voldemort may understand intellectually that he can get what he wants from someone by threatening those they care for, but he doesn't understand why they behave this way.


  • Transformers film series
    • Sentinel taught Optimus that freedom is everyone's right, but ironically, he never understand the fact that this supposedly apply to every single life forms in existence including humans. By the time he betrayed Autobots by killed Ironhide, he has already brutally abandoned this belief and adopted Megatron's instead. The enraged Optimus, whom stated to him that he actually not betray his own Autobot comrade, but also himself.
    • Harold Attinger and the rest Cemetery Wind are too murderous and chaotic to realizing that there are good and bad aliens, and their actions are just as evil and extreme as the Decepticons(though implied already surpassed them). This also proved by them callously slaughtered innocent lives over the course of their actions(with the only known humans that successfully taking them down once and for all are Cade and his family), something that made them branded as terrorists by human government.
  • When James Moriarty and Holmes are playing chess at the climax of Sherlock Holmes: Games of Shadow, they are predicting whom would won when they start their brawl, and Moriarty believe that he had better advantage due to Holmes still sustaining his injuries when he captured him previously. But unexpectedly, he never predicted that Holmes would sacrifice himself to defeat him by causes both of them fall to their death, with Holmes himself somehow survives and fully healed by the time he sneaked to his home. 
  • Verna Sawyer of Leatherface and Texas Chainsaw 3D seemingly refuses to see her and her family as anything other than innocent victims of a cruel world despite all the murder and cannibalism they are responsible for. Also for all her talk about caring for her son, she is unable to see what he actually needs as opposed to what she wants for him, believing no one outside of the Sawyer family can truly care about him despite him being scared of her and their activities.  


  • Dr. Finitevus turned Knuckles into an insane and ultrapowerful villain and, as a security feature, made sure that the change could never be reversed without someone dying for it. That should do it, right? When he explained this, there was silence... for about a second, at which point everyone present started volunteering. Then the next time Finitevus ran into Knuckles, he honestly seemed surprised when Knuckles refused his offer of alliance; it did not seem to occur to the "good" doctor that Knuckles would hold a grudge over the brainwashing and the death of his father (who performed the above mentioned Heroic Sacrifice).
  • ?

Cartoon and Animated Films

  • Azula was furious when learned that Mai and Ty Lee are willing to betrayed her for sake of Zuko's safety in his and Sokka's attempt to escape from Boiling Rock. As Mai confessed that his love for Zuko that enable her to do such thing and Ty Lee agreed with her, Azula became snapped, reveal that all ths time, she actually blackmailed them to do her bidding.
  • Psimon: In Young Justice, he believed that he can pinned Miss Martian and her friends against beach other by exposing her alien nature to them. This unfortunately failed due to friendship between Miss Martian and her fellow Young Justice made the said heroic group accept her no matter what. To make matter worse for him, Superboy has already knew Miss Martian' alien nature long time ago.

Disney and Pixar

  • Beauty and the Beast: Gaston is unable to understand why Belle would choose the Beast over him. To him, love is just a convenient bargaining chip — or a distraction, or a function of physical beauty.
    • Gaston was also seemingly unable to understand why the Beast let him live at the end, if his final attack is any indication.
  • In Toy Story 3, Lotso obviously never expected Woody to return to Sunnyside that he turned into hell for toys to help his friends after he safely escaped, and snapped on Ken to choose Barbie over his loyalty to him.
  • Reason why Mirage decided to help Bob and Parr family against Syndrome was the said villain was proved too evil that he may lost the ability to value other people's life as he had no qualm in either attempt to killing Parr's family by shot their plane down or having killed many Supers.
    • Also, when Mirage calls Syndrome out for showing no concern when Mr. Incredible threatened to kill her in front of him, he looks confused, like he has no idea what he did wrong.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Judge Claude Frollo automatically assumes that gypsies are evil and does not believe Quasimodo's claims of Esmeralda being kind towards him. In general, Frollo doesn't understand the Bible's true message on compassion and that God never allows people to be tempted more than they can take.
  • In Hercules, Hades believed that Hercules will die as jumps into the Well of Souls as he tries to save Megara. However, Hercules's noble, heroic sacrifice allows him to save Megara and become a god, much to Hades's shock.
  • In Incredibles 2, Evelyn Deavor believed that her brother, Winston will fall in line with her as she tries to escape and leave the hypnotized diplomats and Supers to their deaths as the yacht heads straight towards the city at a high speed. However, Winston, disgusted with his sister's actions, jumps out of the jet and tries to stop her plan as best as he can.
  • 2003 Teen Titans
    • Slade aka. Deathstroke: As noted by Rob Hoegee in a feature on the Third Season DVD as well as by Robin in the very hard way, kindness and friendship is Slade's achilles heel. His inability to understand/anticipate Robin's willingness to sacrifice himself for his friends or Terra's residual loyalty to the team in the second proved to be his undoing. It's worth noting that when his opponent is Trigon, the literal embodiment of evil, Slade's plan really goes off without a hitch, largely because Trigon acts in exactly the ways he predicts.
    • Trigon: Like his pawn Slade, he has the exact same weakness. Trigon couldn't understand why, against all odds, with the world literally having ended in his dark reign, the Titans continue to fight him and why Raven, despite him being her father, stands up against him. This is ultimately his downfall as well.


Kung Fu Panda
  • In Kung Fu Panda, Tai Lung is so arrogant that he does not understand that the secret to limitless power lies not within the Dragon Scroll, but within himself, hence why he's totally unable to understand the Dragon Scroll's wisdom. If there is no secret he's been fighting for, after all, he's been destroying everything he once loved for nothing, thus preventing himself from making a Heel-Face Turn.
  • In Kung Fu Panda 2, instead of questioning how Po was able to grab the cannonballs and throw them back at his ships, Shen is baffled how Po was able to attain inner peace despite facing the one who murdered his birth parents and wiped out his people. For years, Shen has allowed the day his parents banished him to be the thing that drives him to get what he wants and continuously ignores the Soothsayer's requests that he not let his past control him. The fact that Po attained what Shen had wanted for years, inner peace, by listening to the same advice Shen ignored, completely baffles him.
    • Shen generally has trouble comprehending that, unlike him, Po tends to not hold grudges. Earlier in the film, he carefully rehearsed his confrontation speech, expecting Po to angrily swear vengeance for his dead parents, only for the act to fall apart when Po just casually greeted him (but to be fair, Po was unaware that Shen killed his parents at the time).
  • In Kung Fu Panda 3, Kai cannot comprehend why Oogway turned on him and sealed him away, despite the atrocities he's committed.
    • In a more subtle way than the previous villains: Kai has no idea what to make of Po when he becomes a true Chi Master by coming to a realization of who he really is. Kai never reached enlightenment like Oogway did and his control over chi comes from stealing it, so the sheer power Po had from his realization and having Chi shared with him by his friends is something Kai can't understand.
How to Train Your Dragon
  • In How to Train Your Dragon 2, as Drago Bludvist sees it, dragons can only be controlled through intimidation and fear. Working with dragons, nurturing them instead of enslaving them, is unthinkable to him. Exemplified when Toothless overrides his Alpha's control to protect Hiccup. Since Drago's dragon army has no loyalty to Drago himself, they are quickly to side with Toothless and help him chase off Drago and his Bewilderbeast.
  • In How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Grimmel the Grisly believes that humans are superior to dragons and that Hiccup's desire to live among them as equals is an abhoration that could doom mankind. That and he's a hunter that delights in hunting dragons, Night Furies being his number one priority should any be found. This is soon proven to be his downfall, Hiccup's life being saved by the Light Fury after he frees her from Grimmel's control to save Toothless (performing a Heroic Sacrifice in the process) while Grimmel plummets to his death, the dragons he had enslaved all either drowned (due to being chained to his transportation harness) or having fled.


  • Plankton: A partial example. Because of his unfortunate upbringing and spending most of his life in bitter rivalry with Mr. Krabs, Plankton had a limited capability in understanding the concept of kindness, which was obvious when SpongeBob undo the damage they done on Goo Lagoon. Yet he is still has sympathetic side through his loving relationship with his A.I. wife Karen.

Anime and Manga

  • Soul Eater:
    • Asura: Asura was confused why Maka, whom in spite of her odds against him during the final battle, is capable to defeat him, driven by courage alone.
    • Medusa Gorgon: According to Stein, Medusa was deemed both too evil and chaotic to understanding love which explain why she had no regret for turned Crona into living weapon. Even if she had any capacity for loving, she had wasted it for too long.
  • Gaara: As result of his father Rasa's misguided attempt to have him formed a bond with Shukaku (by lied to that his mother never love him and he wanted him dead), Gaara was so troubled to comprehend love that he was misguided to believe that his purpose in life was to kill people. When Guy stopped him from killing a beaten and defenceless Lee, he had no idea why Guy protected someone who "failed". Later on, after his loss at hands of Naruto, whom went too far to endanger his own life to save Sakura and Sasuke to defeat him as well as learned that Naruto was understand his burden as both of them are jinchuuriki, he eventually mellows and decided to redeem himself, and confirmed became good guy once saved Lee from Kimimaro, whom ironically he once tried to kill.
  • Naraku: Perhaps due to him born from hundreds of purely malevolent Yokais, Naraku privately expresses some confusion when Sango simply will not kill her little brother Kohaku, no matter what he makes him do. Not only that, he greatly disturbed and sickened by the fact that Inuyasha and co. show mercy to a loyal underling whom he just sent on a suicide mission to take them out. Even so, Naraku supposedly, and ultimately revealed to be an interesting subversion when Kagome points out that he is part human and couldn't possibly carried out his Manipulative Bastard antics if he did not understand the meaning of human bonds, which, on the one hand, manages to make him a great deal more terrifying as a villain than he would be if he simply didn't get goodness, since it means that he always knew exactly what his actions would do to the protagonists, but on the other hand revealed that his motivations had to go beyond mere lust for power. It is interesting that he was never really aware that the vestiges of humanity he tried so hard to get rid of were, in fact, as much of an asset to him as they were to the protagonist.

Live Action TV

  • Power Rangers:
    • Lord Zedd devises a plan to break up the team by capturing Kimberly and a civilian in Aisha's presence so quickly that Aisha can't do anything about it. His hope: That when the other rangers find out she did nothing will rebuke her for it and the infighting will commence. Instead they just work together to try to save them. This actually shocks Zedd.
    • Octomus The Master and Ten Terrors: Octomus and Ten Terrors (with exception of Itassis and Matomboo) do not comprehend the fact that goodness and courage are what allowed their foes to persevere against all odds. In fact, The leader of Morlock forces didn't account of them overloading their good magic into him to the point of him getting destroyed from inside out as expected.


Harry Potter: ...I'll have "power the Dark Lord knows not", it just means - love
Dumbledore: Yes - just love...
~ Professor Dumbledore and Harry Potter regarding what made Lord Voldemort literally weaker than him.
Oh, you can't be serious. (Audrey: This is wrong and you know it!) We're this close to our biggest payday ever and you pick now of all times to grow a conscience?! (Vinny: We've done a lot of thing's we're not proud of: robbin' graves, eh, plunderin' tombs, double parkin'... BUT, nobody got hurt! Well...maybe somebody got hurt, but nobody we knew.) Well, if that's the way you want it, fine. MORE FOR ME! P.T. Barnum was right.
~ Rourke expressing his disappointment after his team leave him in disgust and join Milo's side.
What were you trying to prove? That deep down everybody is as ugly as you? You're alone!
~ Batman to the Joker.
I thought by eliminating half of life, the other half would thrive. But you've shown me... that's impossible. As long as there are those that remember what was, there will always be those that are unable to accept what can be.... they will resist. (Iron Man: Yep, we're all kinds of stubborn.) I'm thankful, because now I know what I must do. I will shred this universe down to its last atom. And then, with the Stones you have collected for me, create a new one, teeming with life, that knows not what it has lost, but only what it has been given.... a grateful universe. (Captain America: Born out of blood!) They'll never know.... because you won't be alive to tell them.
~ Thanos vowing to destroy and then rebuild and take over the universe.
H-how did you... How did you do it? (Po: You know, you just gotta keep your elbows up and keep the shoulders loose.) Not that. How did you find peace? I took away your parents. Everything. I--I scarred you for life. (Po: See, that's the thing, Shen. Scars heal.) No, they don't. Wounds heal. (Po: Oh yeah. What do scars do? They fade, I guess?) I don't care what scars do. (Po: You should, Shen. You gotta let go of that stuff from the past 'cause it just doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is what you choose to be now.) You're right. Then I choose THIS!''
~ Lord Shen baffled how Po was able to attain inner peace despite the fact that Shen had "scarred him for life".

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