The world we live in is the furthest thing from black and white because some of the choices people make have many complexities. Imagine if someone stepped on a poisonous insect of an unknown species, and it died. Was it the right choice because it was poisonous and could have endangered people or was it wrong because the creature was simply taking a nature walk and had not caused any harm?
Then, what if we learned that the poison from this specific species could have been filtered and made into a medicine for diseases? Would the choice still be right or wrong? As we grow and evolve, we realize there are only pros and cons of circumstances. People are people, and they have their own rightful justifications to things, but someone else could see it as wrong.
On the other side of the coin, there are people who are unreadable, meaning that you cannot tell if the choices they make or the actions they perform are for the right or wrong reasons. It is unclear whether they stand for something or if they are against it. That is where the black and white world we have familiarized ourselves with merge to become a gray area.
A plethora of movies, TV shows and other media outlets exhibit morally ambiguous/gray characters, and most of the time, those characters steal the show whether we are rooting for them or not. Audiences tend to gravitate to these characters because not only are they the real stars, but they portray humanity in a spine-chillingly, realistic way.
According to Taylor and Francis Online, “Moral judgments regulate the degree of character liking, the hopes and fears viewers have for characters, and the overall feelings that individuals possess at the story’s resolution. Thus, cognition and emotion are highly interrelated, as they interact to impact enjoyment.”
An example of a morally gray character is Jinx/Powder from “Arcane.” I will not say too much, but throughout the show, she goes through an identity crisis based on a traumatic event that happened in her childhood.
What makes her interesting is her constant battle with herself and how despite everything happening around her, she does not choose a side. She either acts on her own accord or goes with the people who find her the most useful, which makes her a loose cannon.
Another example would essentially be all of the characters from “Breaking Bad.” Everyone in the show made good and/or bad choices, and the beauty of that is they did not explicitly explain why they made said choices. Everyone either fell under lawful, neutral and/or chaotic good and evil or they simply did not. It really encapsulated what a human being would do in a dire situation.
Human nature is complicated, and it is never what it seems. These special kinds of characters allow audiences from all ages to see first hand the true depiction of humanity. In addition, audiences finally see a realistic character without them being a tragic hero or despicably evil.
On the contrary, a morally ambiguous character can be a tragic hero or despicably evil if there is added depth to their decision. There is always a reason for our choices, and no one ever makes a decision without having an idea and thinking it through. That is what comes with being human: attempting to summarize complexities but understanding at the end of the day, it is what it is.