Carrion Crown: Kyle's
A neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. She doesn’t feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil-after all, she would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, she’s not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way.
Some neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run.
Neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion.
Neutral can be a dangerous alignment when it represents apathy, indifference, and a lack of conviction.
The “true” neutral looks upon all other alignments as facets of the system of many things. Thus, each aspect—evil and good, chaos and law—of things must be retained in balance to maintain the status quo; for things as they are cannot be improved upon except temporarily, and even then but superficially. Nature will prevail and keep things as they were meant to be, provided the “wheel” surrounding the hub of nature does not become unbalanced due to the work of unnatural forces—such as human and other intelligent creatures interfering with what is meant to be. Absolute, or true, neutral creatures view everything which exists as an integral, necessary part or function of the entire cosmos. Each thing exists as a part of the whole, one as a check or balance to the other, with life necessary for death, happiness for suffering, good for evil, order for chaos, and vice versa. Nothing must ever become predominant or out of balance. Within this naturalistic ethos, humankind serves a role also, just as all other creatures do. The may be more or less important, but the neutral does not concern himself or herself with these considerations except where it is positively determined that the balance is threatened. Absolute neutrality is the central or fulcrum position quite logically, as the neutral sees all other alignments as parts of a necessary whole. This alignment is the narrowest in scope. (1)
True neutral characters are concerned with their own well-being and that of the group or organization which aids them. They may behave in a good manner to those that they consider friends and allies, but will only act maliciously against those who have tried to injure them in some way. For the rest, they do not care. They do not wish ill on those they do not know, but they also do not care when they hear of evil befalling them. Better for others to suffer the evil than the true neutral and his allies. If an ally is in need, the true neutral will aid him, out of genuine love or because he may be able to count on that ally a little more in the future. If someone else is in need, they will weigh the options of the potential rewards and dangers associated with the act. If an enemy is in need, they will ignore him or take advantage of his misfortune.
True neutrals are offended by those who are opinionated or bigoted. A “hell-fire and brimstone” lawful good priest is just as offensive as a neutral evil racial supremacist in their eyes. They do not necessarily strive for philosophical balance. In fact, they may avoid philosophical considerations altogether. A true neutral may take up the cause of his nation, not because he necessarily feels obligated to do so, but because it just makes sense to support the group that protects your way of life. True neutrals tend to believe in lex talionis forms of justice.
However, a true neutral being with a highly philosophical outlook may hold that law, chaos, good, and evil are all necessary forces in the universe. But all are of equal import, and none should be allowed to take precedence over another, unless an imbalance should be perceived—in which case corrective steps must be taken until the balance is righted once again. Hence, the motives of a highly philosophical true neutral character are perhaps the most difficult for any other alignment to fathom, for such a true neutral being will usually act first to preserve the balance, second if he deems it his business, and third if it is in his own best interests. For these reasons, being nature’s mediators, true neutral characters should be diplomatic and tactful, but they may also come across as being strange and enigmatic until one gets to know them and their “world view” better. This is because some true neutral beings look far beyond the immediate situation to the overall balance of the cosmos. Most true neutral characters will, throughout their lives, tend more or less toward one of the other alignments, dependent upon their perception of the state of the world and what force should be balanced. Such a “deviation” will be temporary, until the true neutral being recognizes and modifies his actions in accordance with the new balance. For example, once the strong evil forces in an area have been conquered, and the balance restored, the true neutral character will stop acting “good.” In, addition, this attitude of balance will ordinarily be reflected in a true neutral’s choice of companions and should thus be demonstrated with reasonable consistency. As all things in the cosmos are equally important and necessary, life is as valuable as death to the true neutral being, because life is inevitably followed by death. In this character’s view, one’s time will come when it is supposed to come, and no sooner or later. (2)
True neutral is typically the most misunderstood of all alignments. One common misconception is thinking that true neutral characters seek a balance by deliberately following a certain alignment one day and an entirely different alignment the next. Such behavior makes true neutral characters unpredictable, and the cumulative effect promotes chaos more than anything else. True neutral characters tend to remain nonjudgmental and uncommitted to any moral, legal, or philosophical system beyond the basic tenets of their own society. Despite this fact, true neutral beings do not resent being into struggles involving different viewpoints. True neutral individuals do not lack interest, ambition, or passion—they value their own well-being and that of friends and loved ones. They may struggle passionately on behalf of themselves or others, as well as feel compassion for those they barely know. In fact, since most humans are true neutral, it is the alignment of the majority of people encountered in day-to-day situations. (3)
A true neutral character will keep his word if in his best interest. He may attack an unarmed foe if he feels it necessary. He will not kill, but may harm an innocent. He may use torture to extract information, but never for pleasure. He will never kill for pleasure, only in self-defense or in the defense of others. A true neutral character may use poison as long as there is an overwhelming need. He will help those in need if it is in his best interest and works well alone or in a group. He responds well to higher authority until that authority attempts to use the law to hamper his ability to pursue his own self-interest. He will follow the law unless breaking it is in his best interest and he’s reasonably sure that he will not be caught. He will never betray a family member, comrade, or friend unless the situation is dire. True neutral characters are indifferent to the concepts of self-discipline and honor, finding them useful only if they can be used to advance their own interests. (4)
Here are some possible adjectives describing true neutral characters: diplomatic, judgmental, enigmatic, aloof, distant, self-reliant, mediatory, even-handed, fair, indifferent, and impartial.
Well known true neutral characters from film or literature include: The Watchers (Marvel Comics), Horace Slughorn (Harry Potter), and Tom Bombadil (Lord of the Rings).
Equivalent alignment in other game systems: Neutral (Warhammer).
The Ten True Neutral Commandments
A list of Ten Commandments for a true neutral religion may look like this:
1. You shall avoid lies.
2. You shall not kill the innocent.
3. You shall not murder.
4. You shall help the needy if such action aids yourself.
5. You shall honor those who honor you.
6. You shall follow the law unless breaking the law can advance you without harming others.
7. You shall not betray others unless your life is in jeopardy.
8. You shall aid those who aid you and harm those who harm you.
9. You shall not promote an extreme viewpoint.
10. You shall advance yourself without harming others.
Ten True Neutral Sins
Likewise, a true neutral religion may list the following as sins. This list is given in the order of least severe infraction to most severe.
1. Trying to persuade others to take a stance on a moral or ethical issue.
2. Failing to assist a friend or ally.
3. Killing for any reason other than survival.
4. Breaking your word to a friend or ally, unless life is threatened.
5. Needless torture.
6. Making a sacrifice for someone unrelated to you.
7. Refusing to kill when important to your survival.
8. Betraying an ally or friend, unless life is in danger.
9. Showing mercy to a dire enemy.
10. Taking sides in a conflict that doesn’t affect your survival.
The True Neutral Adventurer
The following two lists detail common actions undertaken during “adventuring” that are considered honorable and dishonorable for the true neutral alignment. An honorable action is one that is in keeping with the spirit of this alignment, while dishonorable actions tend to be those which bring shame to the character in the eyes of his or her alignment peers. Note that an action which is considered honorable by one alignment may be considered dishonorable by another alignment and vice versa.
The following actions are honorable for this alignment:
Defeating a superior opponent
Fleeing a fight with a superior opponent
Gloating over a victory
Perpetrate humiliating prank on enemy
The following actions are dishonorable for this alignment:
Allowing the enemy to attack first
Being taken prisoner
Convicted of a crime
Defeated by an inferior opponent
Killing a host who has provided you food or shelter
True Neutral and Society
A true neutral being…
Values his family, but will not heed their requests necessarily.
Will provide for friends, and expects to be repaid in some manner.
Does not seek positions of authority over others.
Fits in with their society.
Supports their nation.
Supports the law when advantageous to do so.
Is not concerned with politics, most likely.
Will keep his word, generally.
Will take risks if the benefits are great.
Will not aid family members in need if personal discomfort is required.
Will not betray a family member, unless the circumstances are dire.
Has few close friends and would never betray those he has, unless circumstances are dire.
Is generally well liked by his community, but normally will not seek to improve the community.
Will support his nation when profitable to do so, but will not act against his nation if profitable.
Believes people deserve the treatment they are willing to endure.
Is not concerned with those less fortunate.
Will not harm others for profit.
A true neutral government rarely influences the community. Those in power prefer to pursue their private goals. True neutral societies tend to adopt whatever government seems most expedient at the moment. A particular form of government lasts as long as the ruler or dynasty in power can maintain it. The people cooperate when it suits them. Such true neutral territories often act as buffer states between lands of extreme alignment difference (for example, between a lawful good barony and a vile chaotic evil principality). They shift allegiance artfully to preserve their borders against the advances of both sides in a conflict.
True Neutral and Other Alignments
True Neutral vs. Neutral Good
Neutral good and true neutral characters both believe that any means should be used to achieve desirable outcomes, but they disagree on exactly what types of outcomes are desirable. The neutral good character uses a variety of means to promote and further the cause of goodness, but true neutral characters are not interested in a selfless pursuit of beneficial results for others. Where neutral good characters are altruistic, true neutral characters are interested in their own affairs. True neutral characters will behave altruistically when it comes to friends, relatives, and allies, but for the most part will return the kind of treatment they receive from others. Neutral good characters, on the other hand, will behave altruistically even when dealing with others who are not friends or relatives, and may even forgive enemies that have done them grievous harm in the past (provided their enemy has truly mended his ways). True neutral characters will not extend the olive branch in such situations and may take advantage of their enemy’s weakness to protect themselves from further machinations. True neutral characters follow a morality of reciprocity. Neutral good characters follow the Golden Rule.
True Neutral vs. Neutral Evil
Although true neutral and neutral evil characters are both primarily interested in their own advancement and welfare, neutral evil characters ruthlessly pursue their self-interest, even at the expense of others. The true neutral character will use any means to benefit themselves, but will not follow this philosophy to its extreme conclusion through an unrestrained pursuit of self-interest. The true neutral character understands that more benefit for the self can be garnered by behaving altruistically sometimes, especially when they have been the beneficiaries of the altruistic behavior of others. If someone treats a true neutral character well, they can expect that character to treat them well. The neutral evil character does not believe that one good turn deserves another, however. The neutral evil character will of course accept the altruistic generosity of others, and may even appear to return the favor on occasion. The neutral evil character will not behave altruistically for the benefit of others, only for the benefit of the self. Any actions which seem good are merely actions which the neutral evil character has determined will give him a greater benefit in the future, often to the detriment of their benefactor. If someone treats a neutral evil character well, they can only expect good treatment from that character as long as the current relationship offers the best advantage to him. As soon as the neutral evil character can benefit to a greater degree by betraying his benefactor, he will. True neutral characters see such behavior as detrimental to self-interest (and unfair to those who have helped them) and thus will not betray benefactors. Neutral evil characters have no such qualms about burning bridges if the reward is great enough.
True Neutral vs. Lawful Neutral
Lawful neutral and true neutral characters are similar in their morality. Both of these types will tend to return the treatment they receive from others. They differ in their outlook concerning legitimate authority and the structure of society. True neutral characters believe that laws should be followed as long as the law benefits themselves. They will also follow laws out of fear of punishment. If they can break a law which does not support their self-interest, and there is a good chance that they will not be caught breaking the law, true neutral characters may break laws. However, true neutral characters prefer to follow the law, because usually it is in their best interest to follow laws. Lawful neutral characters follow laws not only for their own self-interest, but also because they believe that one should always follow the law, even laws that run counter to self-interest. The lawful neutral character takes issue with the true neutral because the true neutral character will readily admit that he mostly benefits from the law, but he will not go out of his way to support the law. True neutral characters feel that lawful neutral characters are too obsessed with established laws and customs to realize that they may be better able to support their own interests by advancing personal freedom as well as law and order.
True Neutral vs. Chaotic Neutral
Chaotic neutral and true neutral characters have a similar moral outlook. They tend to follow a morality of reciprocity, behaving altruistically toward benefactors and egoistically toward malefactors. Their difference involves their outlook on laws and society. The true neutral character wants to work within the law and will observe most customs and mores because it it in their best interest to do so. True neutral characters don’t want to “rock the boat” but will on occasion if their self-interest is overwhelmingly served by breaking the law or flouting custom. The chaotic neutral character sees no value in laws, customs, or mores. A chaotic neutral character may appear to follow many laws, but does not do so because they believe in any inherent value to such systems. The chaotic neutral character believes in the pure freedom to pursue their own self-interest (and for others to pursue their own interests in the same manner). Although the true neutral character does not believe that the law should be followed all of the time, neither do they believe that laws are completely useless. They believe that chaotic neutral characters actually limit themselves by refusing to consider that sometimes self-interest can best be served by order in society. Chaotic neutral characters feel that true neutral characters limit themselves by paying lip service to laws and customs that they do not necessarily support.
How True Neutral Views the Other Alignments
The chart below shows how True Neutral views itself and the other eight alignments.
Strict and Idealistic
Practical but Idealistic
Lax and Idealistic
Realistic but Strict
Practical and Realistic
Realistic but Lax
Strict and Egoistic
Practical but Egoistic
Lax and Egoistic
Ethical neutrals view both lawfuls and chaotics as extreme. They see lawfuls as overly strict and rigid while chaotics are viewed as overly lax and inconsistent. Ethical neutrals feel that they take a practical approach to matters involving rules and regulations.
Characters who are morally neutral tend to see themselves as realistic. So-called “good” is actually an idealistic and naive philosophy in their eyes. Moral neutrals also eschew what they see as the radical egoism of darker, “evil” philosophies.
The Philosophy of True Neutral
True neutral is the philosophy that harmony and freedom are both important in society and that altruism and egoism are both legitimate ends. It is a philosophy of pure equitistic consequentialism. This philosophy holds that people should pursue a rational self-interest while balancing the needs of the state or social order with the freedom of individuals to pursue their own agenda. True neutral can also be associated with ethical equitism and skepticism. As the philosophical “average” of altruism and egoism, equitism holds that harm to others should be minimized when advancing the self and that harm to the self should be minimized when advancing others.
True neutral philosophers generally maintain that there is metaphysical balance in the multiverse and thus may support doctrines of soft determinism, pragmatism, conventionalism, and/or instrumentalism. They may believe in free will or choice. They could also embrace skepticism or suspend judgment on philosophical issues. They tend to be moral relativists, holding that values differ from society to society, from person to person; that they are conditioned by the peculiarities of the society in which they arise; that they are not universally applicable at all times or in all places; and that they are correct or incorrect, desirable or undesirable only relative to whether or not they conform to a common norm or to common acceptance.
The ideal government for this alignment is any social order that balances the needs of the state and the individual and allows beings to pursue their own interests as long as they do not violate the rights of others. True neutral beings want the benefits of the social order to be applied equally to all. Any form of justice that is fair and impartial is desirable.
(1) Gygax, Gary. Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide. TSR:1979. and Gygax, Gary. Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook. TSR:1978.
(2) Renaud, J.R. “Making law out of chaos.” Dragon (#163). November 1990: 74-78.
(3) Pulver, David. The Complete Druid’s Handbook. TSR: 1994.
(4) Parlagreco, Carl. “Another View of the Nine-Point Alignment Scheme.” The Dragon (#26). June 1979: 23.
“Right and wrong are not what separate us and our enemies. It’s our different standpoints, our perspectives that separate us. Both sides blame one another. There’s no good or bad side. Just two sides holding different views.” — Squall Leonhart, Final Fantasy VIII
“I don’t want to carry anyone’s burden.” — Squall Leonhart, Final Fantasy VIII
Martin: “People gotta talk themselves into law and order before they do anything about it. Maybe because down deep they don’t care. They just don’t care.” — High Noon
Pompey: “I don’t get it…one second, you’re willing to let us kill him for an insult, the next, you’re helping him get back in the fight. Sort of inconsistent for Lawful Good, aren’t you?” Julia Greenhilt: “Uh, hello, Roy’s LG, not me. I’m True Neutral. I go both ways.” Pompey: “That is so hot.” — The Order of the Stick
Magev: “You’re deeply ambivalent.” Angel: “Well, I am and I’m not.” — Angel, “Guise Will Be Guise”
Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase Hakuna Matata! Ain’t no passing craze It means no worries for the rest of your days It’s our problem-free philosophy Hakuna Matata! — The Lion King, “Hakuna Matata”
“A live body and a dead body contain the same number of particles. Structurally, there’s no discernible difference. Life and death are unquantifiable abstracts. Why should I be concerned? " —Dr. Manhattan, Watchmen, successfully weirding out Rorschach
“I am not altogether on anybody’s side, because nobody is altogether on my side…” — Treebeard, The Lord of the Rings
Neutral Advisor: “Your neutralness, it’s a beige alert!” Neutral President: “If I don’t make it, tell my wife hello.” — Futurama
Zapp Brannigan: "What makes a man turn neutral? Lust for gold? Power? Or were you just born with a heart full of neutrality?! — Futurama
“We aren’t built to be cruel.” — Cameron, The Sarah Connor Chronicles
“I don’t know, and I have no opinion.” — Jet, Cowboy Bebop
Jack O’Neill: “Don’t worry, she likes us.” Daniel Jackson: “The Nox like everyone. It’s their way.” — Stargate SG-1
Adrian Veidt: “Jon? Right Wing? (laughs) If there’s one thing in the cosmos that that man isn’t capable of doing it’s having a political bias. Believe me… you’d have to meet him to understand. I mean, which do you prefer, red ants or black ants?” Doug Roth: “Uh…? Well, I don’t have any particular preference…” Adrian Veidt: “Exactly. Well, imagine how Jon feels.” — Watchmen
“Superheroes are on the side of “good.” Supervillains are on the side of "right"— er, I mean “evil.” Captain Oblivious is a superneutral. He just gets in the way for no good reason." — Mark Gottlieb, Return Of The Attack Of The Bombos
Lajoolie: “The League makes sure no one can hurt anyone else.” Oar: “No. The League kills certain people under certain conditions; that is all they do. They still permit a great deal of hurting to take place: I can attest to that.” — Ascending
Beatnik: You make the lie. You invent want. You’re for them, not us. Don Draper: Well, I hate to break it to you, but there is no “big lie”, there is no “system”. The universe is indifferent. Other Beatnik: Man…why’d you have to say that? — Mad Men
Shirahoshi: "But if you’re a pirate, Luffy… then aren’t you a bad person? Luffy: …Hm? …Mmmm… I dunno, that’s up to you to decide. — One Piece
“What I am is Kindred. How others choose to categorise themselves concerns me only where local customs are concerned. Individualism is a path frought with obstacles and sometimes, angry mobs, but for all its hardships, it is the only one worth taking.” — Beckett, defending the True Neutral path in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines
“I’ve met others like you, and they have always ultimately come to the same conclusion, and that is there is no person or group on this planet they can pledge loyalty to. If this is the path you must take, I can take you to where the trail begins…” — Caine, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines
“Really bad people are punished by society’s law. Really good people are punished by Murphy’s Law.” — George Lass, Dead Like Me
Prue: You are the ultimate evil. Angel of Death: No. I’m not good or evil. I just am. — Charmed
Never try an’ get a straight answer out of a centaur. Ruddy stargazers. Not interested in anythin’ closer’n the moon. […] They’re deep, mind, centaurs. They know things. Just don’t let on much. — Hagrid, Harry Potter
Opinions are like testicles. You kick them hard enough, doesn’t matter how many you got. — Varric, Dragon Age II
I’m actually pretty neutral about a lot of things. I’m like Switzerland with a penis. — Texts From Last Night
I am neither good nor evil. I am just a sword. Wield me as you will, master. — Chaz, Sluggy Freelance
I-have-seen-Good-and-I-have-seen-Evil. And-now-I-am-dead. I-have-been-Good-and-I-have-been-Evil. And-now-I-am-dead. Look-o-n… m-y… w-o-r-k-s… —Sargon the Sorcerer, Books of Magic
We’ve outsourced operations to them before, but don’t assume that makes us partners: it’s a mercenary thing, a contractual thing. Phoenicians don’t take sides- only Swiss bank transfers. —Kirsten Geary, The Secret World
In early day, or late at night, It’s not my problem, I’ll be alright, No price you name is worth the fight, But if I’m bored, then yeah, I might. —Unofficial Gray Lantern Corps motto
The Kaminoans from the Star Wars prequels seem to pretty much not care about the rest of the galaxy. They just want to clone, and research new ways to clone, and raise their clones, and…
Agent Sands (Depp’s character) in Once upon a Time in Mexico. He actually says “restore the balance” when he explains his purpose. It includes summarily executing cooks who are too good.
Captain Barbossa from Pirates of the Caribbean. He has enough respect for the traditions of piracy in the third film to cement his place in non-chaotic ground. Most of John Anderton’s temporary allies in Minority Report fall under this heading:
Rufus Riley and Dr Solomon Eddie are grey-market salesmen who are only interested in Anderton’s money, while Dr Iris Hineman has no interest in anything outside her Garden of Evil.
Rick Blaine starts out like this in Casablanca.
Captain Renault may be a better example. He seems to be having just as much fun when he’s collaborating with the Nazis as when he’s resisting them. He even flat-out says at one point that he “blows with the wind.” Due to never receiving instructions on anything from their state legislature, the New York delegates in 1776 never vote on anything, always abstaining. Courteously. In the end, they decide to sign the Declaration anyway.
Han Solo in his first Star Wars appearances. Some people might consider him Chaotic Neutral given his status as a Lovable Rogue; however he seems to really be putting profit ahead of everything else.
Luke Skywalker, as with many other young heroes in fictions, also starts as a True Neutral – a typical youngster serving his family at home until he meets Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Anakin Skywalker. He just as easily makes friends with the Neutral Evil Chancellor as the Neutral Good Obi-Wan. While he dislikes restrictions and laws, he still follows orders because it’s all he’s known. The only people he cares about are his immediate friends, and his goals are related only to solving an immediate problem (saving Padmé, avenging his mother, becoming the most powerful man in the galaxy). He skirts between good and evil, law and chaos, before finally settling on Lawful Evil.
Godzilla in some timelines is True Neutral, the Heisei series most clearly, simply wants to survive, then when he has his son, take care of him. However, invade his turf or hurt his son and you’re in trouble.
The Terminator is Type 10, a machine whose decisions are severely limited by its programming. Jules from Pulp Fiction can be seen as both Type 2 and Type 5.
Another Tarantino example: the Inglourious Basterds. A little band of Heroic Comedic Sociopaths who love killing and scalping Nazis—why? Because they’re mostly American Jews hungry for revenge and it’s just plain fun. Because they fight Nazis, they can’t be pure evil, considering they don’t work for Stalin either, but they’re far from being good. They also seem to have something of a moral standard and have some sense of honor, but Raine is entirely willing to violate direct orders if it suits him. Thus, their Good, Evil, Lawful, and Chaotic traits balance them out to type 12.
Martin Blank, the Hitman with a Heart from Grosse Pointe Blank. And by extention, Brad Hauser of “War, Inc.”".
Benny of The Mummy personifies the coward type. He sticks like glue to O’Connell in the opening until he can’t guarantee his safety anymore (he then shuts him out of his hiding place in order to save his own life). When he returns to Haminaptra, he does so only for profit, caring nothing about the people who have brought him there. When his life depends on being spared by Imhotep, his loyalties shift again and he helps him hunt down the very people who he was just working for – all for the promise of gold. In the end, he tries to cling to O’Connell again when Imhotep is gone and unable to save his life as Haminaprtra crumbles.
Jill Tuck, from the latter half of the Saw franchise. It’s made clear that she at least knew what her husband was doing to those he judged as “unworthy of life”. Though she never aided him in his tests, she didn’t do much to stop him, either, or try to turn him in to the police.
The Genre Savvy Handsome Lech Graverobber of Repo! The Genetic Opera. He’s a drug-dealer who opts to stay out of the main conflict throughout the movie and is probably the smartest character to do so. He even comes out alive at the end.
Broken Bird Shoshanna Dreyfuss of Inglorious Basterds.
The Driver of Drive. The Driver is pretty much the textbook example of this.
Big Daddy from Kick-Ass. His goal is to just take down Frank D’Amico for what he has done to his life. Red Mist is another example.
Dom Cobb of Inception. A fugitive who is on the run from authorities for apparently murdering his wife (and arguably did by manipulating her into waking up from the dream world and driving her insane). He readily accepts work from Lawful Evil Corrupt Corporate Executives, and breaks into peoples’ dreams for a living, but is a thief because circumstances force him to be. During the Inception mission, he wasn’t motivated by a desire to see justice done in stopping a powerful international monopoly from controlling the world’s economy; he just wanted to see his children again, and the business deal he made with resident Noble Demon Saito would have allowed him to see his children again. He is also quite manipulative, but genuinely cares about the people he loves, and watches out for his Fire-Forged Friends.
Kevin Mask in Ultimate Muscle entered the stage as Neutral Evil (beating up or killing humans and superhumans alike for kicks and joining the dMp to spite his overbearing father), but soon left for the True Neutral camp (only beating up worthy adversaries in the ring, but not shying away from dirty tricks and killing opponents). Come the Demon Seed arc, he appears to have completed the switch to Neutral – or at least Chaotic -Good (challenging the Devil Superhumans to save Meat, all for the good of humanity).
Fred Lou from Outlaw Star. His business policy is “Don’t ask questions” and (with exception to Gene, who he’s in love with) “Don’t take credit.” There’s even a scene where Fred calls in to alert Gene about the Kei Pirates’ arrival. How does he know they’re on Sentinel? Because he sold them their weapons. Twilight Suzuka also falls into this trope, mainly due to her wavering between Lawful Neutral and Chaotic Neutral in the series and her apathy. She adheres to strict codes about assassination, but is willing to twist the letter, if not the spirit, of her code when it suits her purpose. She travels with the Outlaw Star and is a loyal crew member in crisis, but in everyday life walks alone from the others, neither contributing money towards the expenses, nor racking up further expenses.
Guts from Berserk is so burned out with all the political maneuvering and demonic atrocities that mark his world that he no longer cares about good, evil, law, chaos, or anything outside his own survival and the well-being of his True Companions. Back when he was with the Band of the Hawk, he was closer to Lawful Neutral due to his respect for Griffith, but that’s long gone now thanks to the events of the Eclipse. In addition to all of that, he also has to contend with a Chaotic Evil Superpowered Evil Side that acts as his Enemy Within
Aoshi Shinomori of Rurouni Kenshin.
Kino of Kino’s Journey is interested in traveling and observing the world. Period. She’s pretty adamant about not interfering; it takes some pretty special circumstances for her to do so. She once listened to a man explain to her how he killed a woman’s family and then decided to become The Atoner and protect her… Kino then passively watched as said woman shot him dead. She makes company with villains and heroes, and contemplates what drives both. Do not, however, think that this means she’s submissive; she will kill anyone who attacks her or stops her travels without hesitation and without remorse.
The Data Overmind from Suzumiya Haruhi, which seeks the maintain the status quo so that it can monitor the series’ eponymous character. Yuki, the android interface which it uses to interact with the show’s characters initially follows this alignment as well, but as she develops a more independent personality, she drifts more towards Neutral Good. Also, Sasaki from the same series. How close she is to becoming Neutral Evil is anyone’s guess. And then we have Kyon of course. Sure he saves the world and genuinely cares about the Brigade members, Yuki the most. But then again, he also likes to be a cynical jerk. Above all of course is his sheer apathy to everything.
Dracule Mihawk from One Piece doesn’t seem to really care about anything short of finding someone who can surpass him in swordsman skills. He takes a passing interest in Zoro and Luffy, which is why he doesn’t kill the former after their hopelessly one-sided duel; as for Luffy, during the Whitebeard War saga he decides to attack him without holding back just to see if fate will really somehow miraculously save his life despite his best efforts.
Crocodile starts out somewhere in the Neutral Evil range: posing as a legitimate businessman and government-sanctioned “hero” of a country his secret organization is working to overthrow, so that he can found a new military regime (also, superweapon). After his defeat, he passes on an opportunity to escape prison out of sheer disinterest, only to escape later on by joining our heroes to fight in the War of the Summit, wherein he was on the side of exactly no one: He started out wanting to take Whitebeard’s head, rebuffed an offer to join forces with Donquixote Doflamingo, and then saved both Ace and Luffy, just to spite the Marines. What he’s up to next is anyone’s guess.
Shizuru from Mai-HiME started out as a Type 2 Neutral, taking a relaxed approach to everything (her official bio states that one of her pet peeves is “being rushed”) but eventually became Neutral Evil when she received her powers and felt that violence was the only way to keep her from being separated from Natsuki.
The Gundam series has many great examples.
Anaheim Electronics is probably the quintessential example. THE mobile suit manufacturer in the UC-verse, they sell their products to anybody willing to pay for them, and often end up supplying multiple opposing factions in the same conflict. Oliver May of MS Igloo is probably an example, too. In spite of being a sentient, aware young man toward everything happening in the forces of Zeon, he could do very little to change the course for them. Lalah Sune counts as a Type 7 True Neutral.
Wu Fei Chang in Gundam Wing, after a Freak Out, starts attacking everybody in space who possesses weapons regardless of what side they’re on. Treize Kushrenada is probably another good example, though he uses one assassination or the other to serve his purpose, he mainly uses his charisma and intellect to legally governing the OZ organization and whose ultimate plan was to start a war so terrible that would make both Earth and the space colonies give up war forever while giving up his own life in the process. The ORB Union from the Cosmic Era timeline established themselves as a neutral nation. They allow naturals and coordinators to live in their country, and they have a non-discrimination policy to ensure coexistence. Their national motto also reflects their global-political standings; “ORB will not attack another nation, will not allow another nation to attack them, and will not intervene in the conflicts of other nations”.
Gundam 00 is filled with this. There’s Celestial Being, a paramilitary organization created to eradicate war, they will attack any nations or factions who they see causing tensions. CB founder Aeolia Schenberg and members Lockon Stratos (the first), Sumeragi Lee Noriega and Feldt Grace are true neutrals of types 5, 13, 9 and 6 respectively. Regene Regetta of the Innovators is a type 2 & 13. Then there’s Ordinary High School Sweet Hearts Saji Crossroad and Louise Halevy. They spent most of the first season as Type 10 True Neutrals being Innocent Bystanders until their heart-breaking Wham Episode.
Lastly, Azadistan first princess Marina Ismail. Being an Actual Pacifist, she spent the whole second season as a Type 7 True Neutral. Asemu Asuno, whose main concern as a young soldier is to become stronger so that he can defeat his X-Rounder former friend in battle, even disregarding the rules of his father’s military at times. Near from
Death Note. Although he tries to emulate the Lawful Neutral L, it is obvious that he doesn’t have anywhere near as much of a sense of justice. Indeed, he’s only chasing after Kira because he’s the guy who chases after Kira, and ethics and motivations have nothing to do with it. Ryuk, and apparently the Shinigami in general. He leans a little towards Chaotic Neutral due to him dropping the title Artifact of Doom into the human world just because he’s bored and wants to see what will happen. Other than that, though, he just watches what happens, and makes it clear that he has no sense of loyalty or emotional attachment to the person who finds the notebook (Light, in this case), and rarely interferes with anything. Still, Ryuk doesn’t seem to be evil or overly malicious, and he has enough decency to call Light out when he’s emotionally abusive to Misa.
Genkai of YuYu Hakusho holds a tournament to determine her successor, and is willing to train whoever wins, even if it is an assassin or a demon. In the Dark Tournament, she admits that she is not a champion of justice, but she fights against those she dislikes, which includes her former teammate Toguro.
In Code Geass, there’s Lloyd Asplund, C.C. and Diethard Reid. Nathan Mahler from Blood+ is Diva’s chevalier but he is completely apathetic to her organisation’s plan to replace humanity with chiropterans. Not only does he refuse to take orders from Amshel, he often prevents other villains from killing Saya despite the fact that Saya is the major threat to Diva’s plan. The only thing he is concerned with is the happiness of Diva, which in the end turns out to be completely irrelevant to her plan to turn all humans into chiropterans. Throughout the series, Nathan remains as a distant observer to how the two queens of vampires struggle against each other and where that struggle leads to.
Golgo 13. Duke Togo seems to live by one single rule: if someone meets his hefty fee and explains their motives for wanting another person dead, Golgo 13 will put a bullet in said person’s head in a laughably improbable manner. As long as you do NOT double-cross him, of course Benny from Black Lagoon. Ultimately, he isn’t willing to cross the line entirely into the villain territory occupied by most of the rest of Roanapur, but he’s certainly no charity case either and merely associating with Revy is probably soul-staining enough to keep him off the straight and narrow.
Rock, as of El Baile de los Muertos, has become this. Roberta fits this before and after her breakdown. So Touma from QED, who prefers to laid back than getting involved in cases. But Kana makes him do it anyway. Record of Lodoss War has the fourth variant down pat in the form of Karla, whose goal seems to be the preservation of balance—when two kings clash in the battlefield and one falls, she quickly blasts the other from afar.
Fai D. Flowright, or however you choose to spell it from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. While he bears no actual malice to any of the main characters—and, indeed, repeatedly demonstrates that he’s grown close to all of them—the fact remains that he knows a hell of a lot more than they do about what’s on from the very beginning of the series and doesn’t say anything because he’s technically working for the Big Bad. He becomes Neutral Good when all of his dirty secrets come out and his friends help him move beyond his many, many personal issues. Clone!Syaoran belongs here too. It’s true that he does a large number of absolutely horrible things once he appears on the scene, but this is less due to him being “evil” and more because he’s a moral-free construct programmed to complete the task he was made for by any means necessary. He also performs a Heroic Sacrifice-slash-Heel Face Turn for the protagonists when he attacks his creator Fei Wong Reed, demonstrating that he’s developed a heart of his own. Hei and, in fact, most Contractors in Darker than Black.
Haku of Naruto typically defines his existence as serving as the Neutral Evil Zabuza’s tool and assisting in his evil doings, but unlike Zabuza, has a conscience and has, on at least one occasion, rendered his opponents unconscious to avoid having to kill them. Konan of the Akatsuki fits True Neutral as well.
Lambdadelta from Umineko No Naku Koro Ni seems to be the fourth variety seeing as she does whatever she can to make sure both sides are equal or close to it like in episode 6 where she throws popcorn to prevent one character form killing/denying another Most of the characters in Ranma ½ are Chaotic Neutral (with the more villainy-inclined being Neutral Evil), but Cologne is True Neutral, after an initial stint of behavior that can be seen as Neutral Evil. While initially entering the series in an attempt to make Ranma marry Shampoo, she basically gives up after that first story and more or less settles for watching the madness with every sign of joy at the entertainment, occasionally chipping in with aid for either Ranma, Shampoo or Ryoga Hibiki.
Kasumi Tendo is generally considered to be Neutral Good, mainly because she is totally non-violent and very docile (not to mention Word Of God describing her as a “saint” because of her lack of violent behavior and active malice). However, niceness does not equate goodness (hence the existence of the Affably Evil (where someone manages to be very nice despite being a villain), Faux Affably Evil (where someone is a villain, even a Complete Monster, yet still manages to be good-humored and pleasant) and Good Is Not Nice (where someone is unpleasant, yet still a fundamentally decent person) tropes) and it’s legitimately possible to see her as a sweet-hearted and gentle True Neutral of types 2, 10 or 12. Simon starts off as this in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Perhaps because his big brother actually sweats Chaotic Good, it doesn’t last very long.
Anti Villains Coyote Starrk and Tia Harribel from Bleach. Switzerland and Liechtenstein from Axis Powers Hetalia. Switzerland is a Type 12 (shoots and yells at people when they disturb him, mostly, and hides his care for others except for his younger sister) and Liechtenstein is a Type 2 (sweet and gentle like a Neutral Good, but doesn’t necessarily go out of her way to help others). This actually becomes a plot point in Paint it White where their very neutrality (among other things) actually saves them from the Alien Invasion going on elsewhere. They even spend an intimate, seemingly quiet picnic for most of the movie, totally unaware of the mess outside. Some fanworks portrays Austria post-WW 2 as a reluctant example of this trope (given how Austria was essentially forced into it as a Cold War buffer in real life). In the series themselves, he seems to be more Lawful Neutral: he objects to Maria Theresa’s orders and isn’t thrilled when Germany comes for him under instructions, but follows them anyway. Sesshomaru from InuYasha falls here after his Heel Face Turn.
Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion. While he saves the world on a regular basis, he has no idealic reason for doing so (like the Neutral Good Misato or Chaotic Good Kaji). He’s only interested in being an EVA pilot because his father told him to and he sees it at a way to get recognition from both his dad and the people he works with. He very nearly quit the job twice for no other reason then the fact that the terror of being a pilot wasn’t worth such a long-shot of a reward. In spite of having very selfish motivations, he manages to keep a layer of sympathy by having a truly terrible life and having not even wanted to be an EVA pilot in the first place. Pretty much all of the Angels fall into True Neutral. They don’t express any malice or sadism towards humanity, they simply follow their one objective: to unite with Lilith. The fact that it will destroy the world is merely a byproduct of that union.
Kowru Nagisa, especially, holds no malice. Truth, the closet thing that the Fullmetal Alchemist-verse has to a deity, is best understood as this alignment. He has no active involvement in human life, neither rewarding the good or punishing the bad. However, if an alchemist infringes upon the laws of nature and comes before Truth, he upholds the laws of Equivalent Exchange by taking an organ or limb from them (which he does with sadistic glee) but in exchange, they gain the ability to do alchemy without a transmutation circle.
Finally, while he’s certainly a jerkass, Truth ultimately shows just enough benevolence to not fit any evil alignment. As is stated in the series, his purpose is to discourage the humans to try to enter the domains of God. He can also be seen as the Anthropomorphic Personification of the world (which is how he describes himself if asked). Neither good nor evil, but a representation of the natural laws of the universe, which of course take no sides. Yoki, a former Corrupt Bureaucrat is also True Neutral, but in a different way. He’s a coward that initially acted cruelly to subordinates, but ends up being brought low and eventually figures out that he won’t get his ass kicked so often if he acts like less of a jerk. He’s not evil, good, lawful, or chaotic enough to be anything but True Neutral.
Hohenheim, SLust and Sloth of the first anime also count.
Re-L Mayer and later on, Raul Creed of Ergo Proxy. Thorfinn of Vinland Saga. Chloe & Mirelle of Noir. Apparently Shiki Ryougi of Kara no Kyoukai fame,as a strong type 3 and 12. Perky Goth and Knowledge Broker Undertaker from Black Butler.
Charden Flamberg of Black Cat. Unlike his comrades, he has genuine reasons for hating Chronos and follows the Big Bad to do so. But, he leaves when he realizes that Creed’s ego has taken over. Papillion of Busou Renkin. He doesn’t want to kill humans and burn the world to ash, but, he’s not going to help anyone out unless he gets something out of it.
Yuko Ichihara, the Dimension Witch of xxxHOLiC and Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle.
Wild Card Kai Hiwatari of Beyblade.
In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Kyubey is one of these. Despite behaving in an extremely creepy manner at all times, he’s only watching for the wellbeing of the universe, even though during the main plot that causes a huge amount of death and suffering. After the finale it can be seen that he keeps the same personality, but behaves in a much friendlier manner. But that’s not because he changed, he still has the same goal, it’s just that in the new universe the most straightforward way of achieving it looks friendlier.
Homura and Kyoko also qualify, albeit for different reasons. Homura’s motivation is protecting Madoka and she gives little thought to the lives of the other Puella Magi or the victims of Witches. As for Kyoko, well, she just doesn’t care, plain and simple; everything she does is to prevent herself from becoming a Witch, not because she is concerned with the well-being of humanity.
Roger Dunstan, his doji Milleiu and Fushimi Agari from Karakuridouji Ultimo.
The eponymous Lain Iwakura from Serial Experiments Lain.
Also, Ai Enma, the Hell Girl. Two from Texhnolyze: Ichise, who has an obsessive drive to survive and doesn’t care who’s side that he’s on & Doc, who wants to research and experiment with Texhnolyzation.