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Avram: (gestures at Perchik and Mordcha) He's right, and he's right? They can't both be right.

Tevye: You know... you are also right.
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Alice is faced with two different opinions: Bob strongly believes in one thing, and Charlie in another. The easiest choice would be to simply pick a side—decide that Bob is right or that Charlie is right. But Alice won't do that. The second easiest choice would be to simply remain neutral and urge them to Agree to Disagree. But Alice won't do that either. And she will neither pretend that the two opposing views are actually the same thing, nor conclude that it's merely a matter of perspective. Finally, she will not engage in some extreme mental acrobatics, simultaneously but separately agreeing with both opposing views.

All that is left for her, then, is something much harder: to try her best to see both sides fairly, and value the merits of each side's arguments.

In Real Life, this process can be very stimulating and rewarding, and it is also necessary for people to truly coexist in a a decent manner. In fiction, it can serve to enrich the morality of the setting and avert Black and White Morality.

This trope might lead to an Author Tract unless it's Played for Drama - focusing on Alice's emotional reactions to the dilemma rather than the dilemma itself. When Played for Laughs, it often strays even further from the actual issue.

Contrast What Is Evil?, which is an aversion of this trope: The villain tries to invoke Both Sides Have a Point, but it is made clear to the audience that he does not, in fact, have any valid point whatsoever and the protagonist is also very unlikely to listen. This aversion is much simpler than playing the trope straight, and is thus far more common - especially in action stories where the audience wants to see big fights and will likely find a valid moral debate to be a boring disruption. Also contrast Culture Justifies Anything, where it's very likely that at least one side does in fact not have any valid point.

Not to be confused with Double Weapon, where both sides of your weapon have a point. Compare Grey and Grey Morality, Black and Grey Morality and White and Grey Morality as well as Rousseau Was Right and Good Versus Good. Characters stuck in this situation may decide to Take a Third Option. Beware of falling into the Golden Mean Fallacy, where a compromise is reached, but one side is flat-out wrong, and has no valid point after all.

Examples of Both Sides Have a Point include:


Anime and Manga

  • In Karakuridouji Ultimo, the protagonist Yamato learns he is the cause of an apocalypse in the near future. (This is part of the premise, so it's not really a spoiler.) Yamato chooses to avert this by finding every person in the world who would be involved in the event and understanding their points of view so that he can choose the best possible action once the time comes.
  • A lot of Hayao Miyazaki's films are based on this kind of premise. He dislikes the limiting assumptions of a lot of conventional media that evil exists and must be defeated by good.
    • Princess Mononoke is perhaps the best example of this, with every character having a reasonable explanation and motivation for their actions. San is harsh and violent - but only wants to protect her home, family and the natural world. Eboshi wants to kill the god of the forest - but is a benevolent leader, good to her people and kind to lepers and you can fully see why her people are willing to die for her. The protagonist Ashitaka is in the conflict and genuinely wants the best for everyone. Even if the consequences of their choices are ultimately negative, you can see why they did it.
  • In Sailor Moon, the conflict regarding Hotaru/Sailor Saturn aka the local Apocalypse Maiden reeks of this. On one hand the Outer Senshi are right on how Usagi/Moon is far too soft on her and has no real plans of how to deal with her situation. On the other, Usagi is also right on how the Outers may want to protect the universe, but their ONLY prospect course of action is to try killing Hotaru and they refuse tro believe that something else can be done.
  • Shakugan no Shana: The argument Shana and Kazumi have early in season 2 falls under this. Shana is correct when she says that Yuji can't afford to be in such a frail condition (which he ended up in after Shana and Kazumi overfed him accidentally), since the city could be attacked at any given moment. However, Kazumi is also correct when she says that Yuji has a life outside fighting Crimson Denizens, something Shana doesn't seem to understand. By the end of the episode, the girls reach a compromise; Kazumi will cut the portions she makes in half.
  • Ah! My Goddess: Urd and Skuld (Belldandy’s sisters) have a conflict in this anime. Urd wishes for Keiichi and Belldandy to take their relationship (which admittedly is pretty solid in itself) to the next level. However, her sister Skuld wishes for Belldandy to break up with Keiichi so that she’ll go back with her to Heaven, as that is how things used to be. Neither is portrayed as being in the wrong though, because Skuld loves her sister just as much as Urd does. Though in Skuld’s case, she basically settles on living on Earth with both Keiichi and Belldandy.
  • Dragon Ball: While Goku was not wrong to try to settle things with the Ginyu Force peacefully, Vegeta was not wrong to point out they were too dangerous to them to be left alive. Considering how strong Captain Ginyu himself was, he had a point. Both agreed that Frieza had to be stopped though. He was as vile as they came.
  • Umisho: Amuro Ninagawa makes sure nobody is around before she goes skinny dipping. But Momoko isn't wrong to find skinny dipping to be animalistic. Though on the lighter side of things, Amuro is surprisingly forgiving when Kaname shows up and sees her naked.

Fan Fiction

  • Renegade: Word of God is that the conflict between the Global Defense Initiative, the Brotherhood of Nod, and the Citadel is a variation of this. Specifically, that no one is really right, but everyone is wrong on certain points, which is what leads to their conflicts.
  • Team Probable: Kim wasn't wrong to question Grimm's decision to attack Gill with salt (it burns his skin, as he is a mutant frog), due to her refusal to sink to his level, but Grimm wasn't necessarily in the wrong to do so, as Gill's actions were indeed hurting people. And since he's still part human, this is ultimately not a lethal weakness.

Film

  • The entire film Fiddler On the Roof runs on this trope. Tevye is caught in the clash between the traditional world and the modern world. He's a really smart guy, but poor and uneducated. He tries his best to be fair and see both sides of the situation, with many inner monologues about "on the one hand [...] but on the other hand". In the page quote above he gets ridiculed for not simply picking a side when two guys who both have valid ideas stick to parroting slogans at each other instead of making more nuanced arguments for their causes.
  • The Social Network is done this way, and the characters themselves reach this conclusion: None of them is truly unsympathetic, and they all have more or less valid claims and complaints.
  • In Team America, both 'dicks' and 'pussies' have a point, according to Gary's (plagiarized) speech at the end. The 'assholes' on the other hand, just make everything worse for everyone.
  • X-Men 1 used this trope during the political hearing in which Jean Grey debated with politicians concerning mutants. Both sides brought up good points which was the intentions of the director.
  • Like X-Men above, the directors intended for this to apply to the Avengers debating the Sokovia Accords in Captain America: Civil War. On the Pro-Reg side, the Avengers are meant to defend the people. Signing the Accords shows that they're willing to listen to the people and it helps alleviate the growing fear that the general public has towards the Avengers by making them accountable to a larger entity (the United Nations in this case). On the Anti-Reg side, working with politicians will undoubtably bring in political agendas with it being likely that one Corrupt Politician will try and use the Avengers as tools for their agenda and that bureaucratic slowness is likely to hamper their response time.
  • Mace Windu and Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith follow this trope when it comes to killing Darth Sidious. Anakin wasn't wrong when he said that outright killing Palpatine ran contrary to both the Jedi Code and the principles of the Republic that believed that everyone should have a trial (though none of this is the only reason why he wanted to spare Sidious) but Windu was also right to say that Palpatine had such influence on the Republic that he would rig any trial and his sheer power, both political and Force-based, made him a galactic-level liability that needed to be snuffed out without delay. Order 66 made this all too clear.
  • Enchanted: Though Giselle and Robert do have their disagreements, neither of them are being portrayed as being in the wrong. This is because they're both very smart individuals. For example, while Giselle is naive, she is not wrong to think the world is wonderful. And while Robert is not wrong to think the world isn't perfect, he is in the wrong to think that it's a dystopia.
  • Secret of NIMH: While Sullivan was not wrong at all to tell Jenner that he shouldn't kill Nicodemus, Jenner at least did think his plan through, and he wasn't entirely wrong to want to stay at the bush they call home, since they had been living there for quite a while. (Nicodemus wasn't wrong to consider moving, however, as humans were coming that would put them in danger). Jenner made people think that Nicodemus' death was a complete accident (via a house falling on top of him), so both Sullivan and Jenner would be acquitted. Sullivan doesn't go through all the way with the plan though, because unlike Jenner, he actually has a conscience.
  • Jurassic Park: John Hammond is by no means a bad man, and his endeavor to create life is actually admirable. However, Robert Muldoon was not wrong to point out that Velociraptors were indeed extremely dangerous, hence not breeding them. The T-Rex was admittedly dangerous too, but it actually wasn't such a bad idea to have one in one of the cages (especially since it only escaped because Nedry cut the power), as in the event of an escape, one could stay safe from it by simply staying still. But unlike the T-Rex, you would most likely still be alive when a velociraptor decided to eat you. They don't exactly eat you head-first, as is the case of the T-Rex. Admittedly, future movies do show raptors can be tamed...but these velociraptors simply couldn't.
  • WALL-E: The title character isn't wrong to want to be Eve's friend, but Eve isn't wrong to focus on her mission, as it is very important and is a contributing factor to the survival of the human race (though the Axiom was a survivable home in itself). Eve eventually realizes how much she means to Wall-E and completely understands him, even if Wall-E made mistakes due to being new to the Axiom and stowed away in the first place.

Live-Action TV

  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine applies this to the Technician Versus Performer mentality. The whole show, Season 1 in particular, showed that both approaches to life are equally valid. Jake and Amy's bet was built around this trope and Jake (the Performer) only won by dumb luck.
  • One episode of Step by Step has fifteen-year-old Karen doing some modeling for the weekend, and Carol being an overprotective meddler who continually reminds the staff that Karen is "only fifteen" anytime they bring out a bikini or a gown that shows any skin. She ends up humiliating Karen during a shoot, for which Karen calls her out. After a talk with an older model, Karen apologizes and thanks Carol for being so overprotective. While Karen was well within her rights to be pissed since Carol did keep interrupting the shoots and badgering the staff to keep her little girl looking pure and innocent, her worries weren't completely unfounded: Karen was, at the time of the episode, a minor, and some modeling agencies do needlessly sexualize minors or force them into uncomfortable situations. Additionally, Carol would go on to learn a few lessons of her own about not smothering her children.
  • Supergirl:
    • Kara and Manchester with regards to Agent Liberty in Season 4. Kara argues that they need to be better than him and not sink to his level. Manchester fires back that, for all of Kara's optimism, the Children of Liberty will not change in their xenophobia, given that they've already had tons of chances to, and need to be put down. And both ended up being right in the end. Some Children of Liberty saw the light and abandoned the group but others remained monstrous xenophobes until the end.
    • In the Grand Finale, the heroes debate the merits of superheroes working for the government, noting that the arguments for and against this are equally valid thanks to the events of Seasons 4 to 6. Though they ultimately decide that it's in everyone's best interests for superheroes to work with the government.
  • V: The Visitors are invading Earth and planning on eating humans…but they’re not wrong to want food and water. And indeed, some of them did wish to negotiate with Earth. Diana’s actions are helpful for neither Visitors nor humans though. Hence the reason for her being (debatably) the most hated character on this show.

Jokes

  • The trope is reduced to absurdity in an old Jewish joke. Two Jews come to a rabbi to resolve a dispute and present their arguments; they also bring along a witness. The rabbi, after leafing through the Talmud for a couple of hours, finally says: "Shlomo, you are right. But, Moyshe, you are right as well". The puzzled witness asks: "But, rabbi, how can two men with completely different opinions be right at the same time? It's impossible!". The rabbi replies: "You know, Joshua, it turns that you are right as well!"

Literature

  • Felsic Current
  • The Sheriff of Nottingham is able to do this to himself in In A Dark Wood, Michael Cadnum's White and White Morality retelling of Robin Hood. Halfway through the book, he is able to recognize that although Robin Hood is an outlaw, he is also a good man. It isn't until the end of the book that he is able to find a point of reconciliation between this and his duty to uphold the law.
  • The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama use this trope as a cornerstone for much of its portrayal of the political landscape.

Tabletop Games

  • The later versions of Mage: The Ascension used this perspective. The Technocratic Union wants a stable and democratic reality where everyone is able to create miracles through technology. They have largely succeeded: the modern world with computers, airplanes and modern medicine exists by their design. Their opponents, the Traditions, prefer a more unstable (ahem, dynamic) reality with more personal freedom - a freedom of expression that includes rewriting reality itself rather then merely writing words. (The original version had this same conflict of interest, but hardcoded that the Technocracy's ideals made them Dirty Commies.)

Video Games

  • In The Amazon Trail 2, one location has you talk to an oil executive and a native from the area. The executive wants to drill for oil, and the native doesn't want the environment to be spoiled. Now while the game has a bias to the native, the game will only reward you if you listen to both characters about the issue.
  • This is the Paragon resolution of post-loyalty mission conflicts between members of The Squad in Mass Effect 2.
  • This is a major reason why choosing to side with the Quarians or the Geth is such a difficult decision in Mass Effect 3. The Geth simply wish to live in peace to create their own destiny, but their Quarian creators tried to wipe them out after they gained sentience and are still hellbent on destroying their creation, forcing them into the arms of the Reapers. The Quarians on the other hand never intended to create artificial intelligence and tried to shut their creations down hopefully before more units developed AI, and when the Geth retaliated they killed 99% of the entire Quarian population, forcing the survivors into exile and poverty and becoming victims of Fantastic Racism and unfair treatment throughout the galaxy. It is unsurprising that many players choose to Take a Third Option and save both races at the climax of the Rannoch arc.
  • Persona 5: Ryuji and Morgana fall under this during their fight in September; Morgana chews out Ryuji for letting his popularity of the Phantom Thieves get the better of him, which he has, to the point that he's lost sight of the group's real goal. Ryuji, however, retorts right back that Morgana's acting for his own benefit too, which he is, since up until this point he was only with the group because he saw it as his best chance of becoming human.
  • The Templar/Mage conflict in Dragon Age II is the epitome of this trope. The Mages are horribly oppressed by the Chantry's Templars, imprisoning them to keep the city safe and treating all Mages as dangers. At the same time there are a lot of Mages who seem to turn to Blood Magic and the like, due to the weakness of the Veil in the area. Better safe than sorry?
  • This is what drives a lot of the Grey and Gray Morality in the Geneforge series, with even the more "evil" factions such as the Takers or Barzites making the occasional valid point.
  • The civil war subplot in Skyrim is all over this: The Stormcloaks are correct in that their traditional religion is being unjustly oppressed, the Empire caved in in order to end the Great War, and that it's become a decrepit, corrupt entity. The Imperials are correct in that the Stormcloaks are full of xenophobic assholes, Ulfric used a traditional excuse to justify murder and attempt to seize power, and that if the Empire starts to come apart it will be easy pickings for their enemies.
  • There's something of a Deconstruction in KotOR II. Inside Ludo Kressh's tomb, the player is faced with a series of illusions. In one of these, the player's companions are about to attack Kreia, (the player's mentor) and the player must decide who to side with. However, if the player answers "I won't attack you, but I won't stop the others from attacking you either", Kreia exasperatedly scolds you and everyone present tells you that "apathy is death".
  • Soren and Titania in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance butt heads a few times as the former's cynicism clashes with the latter's idealism. Ike, the hero, always takes both their viewpoints into consideration and is able to form a decision via compromise.
  • Runescape: Zamorak isn't wrong to note that the gods have different ideologies, which inevitably brings them into conflict with each other. Hence the God Wars. But while Saradomin isn't necessarily wrong to consider him to be evil (he has indeed done things that could considered him to be evil), Zamorak isn't wrong to consider him a hypocrite, as Saradomin has a dark past.
    • It's mostly averted with Bandos though. Though he wasn't wrong to point out that a God Wars occurred because the gods simply couldn't put aside their differences (which indeed might make one think that peace is impossible), his foe Armadyl wishes for there to be peace in Gielinor (which can actually be achieved, as his ensuing victory proves), and he correctly concludes that Bandos does not care about his followers, which is less than can be said about Armadyl himself. Bandos more or less wants Gielinor to be destroyed, so Armadyl destroys him instead. And Bandos is proven wrong that in order to get what you want you have to be strongest. You simply need to have the most support.
  • Resident Evil: Derek Clifford Simmons isn't wrong to question Leon and Helena seemingly not doing anything about Carla Radames. However, Leon and Helena aren't wrong to have someone else take care of her while they handle Simmons, as he had done truly horrible things, not least deciding to have the president murdered, simply because the president was making a controversial (but understandable) decision.
  • Bully: It can be considered wrong for the nerds to take inappropriate pictures of Mandy, but she's shown to be conceited. And the jocks have made them their primary target of their bullying. And Beatrice likely wouldn't object to Mandy being humiliated. Jimmy does help Mandy in the end though. He is a decent boy at his core despite first appearances. He more or less wants the four factions to make peace, after all.

Web Comics

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 God: I LIKE TO DANCE IN MY UNDERPANTS T-REX

T-Rex: He says - there's some merit to both sides of the issue?

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Web Original

  • There Will Be Brawl: While Meta Knight was never wrong to want to do something about Kirby (he threatened to destroy everything the world holds dear, and had basically already did that to Dreamland), he could have chosen to save Dreamland with King Dedede instead of going after him, as the latter explained to Luigi. King Dedede was not wrong to be upset about Meta Knight's decision, though they both more or less agreed that Kirby should be punished.

Western Animation

  • Done on The Simpsons in the episode "The PTA Disbands" when Principal Skinner and Mrs. Krabappel are trying to convince the parents at a PTA meeting of their respective positions. Mrs. Krabappel argues that Skinner's budget cuts are harming the education the parents' children are receiving, and that they need the resources to do their job. The parents are inclined to agree with her until Skinner points out that the school is on a very tight budget as it is, and for the school administration to get what the teachers are asking for they'd have to raise the parents' taxes. That gets the parents complaining about taxes being high enough as it is, and the debate between Skinner's and Krabappel's positions ends up going back and forth. The episode ends by Skinner and Krabappel deciding to Take a Third Option and rent out the school's cloakrooms to the prison system to raise extra money, although the writers don't provide an answer to the taxes vs. education quality debate.
  • South Park uses the Golden Mean Fallacy a lot to find a middleground between two opposing sides, ultimately arguing that each side is partially correct.
  • The animated TV adaptation of The Lorax does acknowledge that a lot of people would lose their jobs if the Thneed factory shut down.
  • Optimus Primal and Dinobot usually but heads over this in Beast Wars over if a problem needs a Maximal or Predacon approach. It usually boils down to both approaches are effective in their own right and neither one is inherently better. For all the times that a problem has required Maximal calmness to solve, an equal number of problems have needed Predacon bluntness.
  • Discussed in Season 3 of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The Republic, rightly, denounces the Seperatists as being led by a Sith Lord and engaging in large scale acts of war, noting that they announced their intent to secede by declaring open war on the Republic when they could have gone about it another way. The Seperatists are also right to brand the Republic as horribly corrupt and in the thrall of Mega-Corps with them really not doing much for their beleaguered member planets.
  • Jerry and Rick in the Rick and Morty episode "The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy". As Rick says, Jerry always falls back on the Wounded Gazelle Gambit to squirm out of any consequences but Jerry was right to say that Rick manipulated events to sabotage Beth and Jerry's marriage.
  • While Littlefoot's mother in The Land Over Time is understandably worried that the dinosaurs might choose to fight each other over their differences, Littlefoot doesn't believe so, and in a way, Littlefoot's mother is proven wrong. But there is a dinosaur that is a threat to everyone...the Tyrannosaurus Rex. So she's never entirely wrong.
  • Kim Possible: Gill and Ron ironically turn out to be this. While Ron's naivety angers him, he had every reason not to swim in water that was most likely contaminated, though nobody expected that Gill would become a mutant. And Gill never stopped for one second to think that Ron might be luring him into a trap when he used a speedboat and decided to leave the camp (thereotically) using Lake Wannaweep, though Ron would decidedly be at a disadvantage in such an environment, because Gill is basically a frog or a fish.
    • Admittedly, James and his friends should have been nicer to Drew Lipsky when he came up with the idea of creating the perfect robot woman. But truth be told, trying to create the perfect robot wasn't such a great idea. He gave them an obsession with being perfect...and unfortunately, Dr. Drakken wasn't perfect. So the Bebes decided to turn on him.
    • Teen Titans: Beast Boy could afford to be more serious...but Raven could afford to be more funny. They are both hilarious in their own ways though, truth be told.
  • Family Guy:
    • In "The Simpsons Guy", Peter Griffin and Homer Simpson, in a thinly veiled debate about The Simpsons and Family Guy, arguing about Pawtucket Patriot Ale (Family Guy) being based off Duff (The Simpsons). True you can't just slap a new label on an iconic product and call it your own [1]. But at the same time, if the icon is clearly long past its prime and its attempts to change fall flat, can some people really be faulted for preferring the imitator? [2] Though Fred Flinstone, the template Homer and Peter was based on, thinks both beers, and thus both shows, are a pale imitation of his favorite beer.
    • Both sides of the statue debate in "Pawtucket Pat". Discounting some moments of strawmanning liberal and conservative talking points, both make valid points about the statue. The liberals correctly argue that Pawtucket Pat was a horrible racist and a thief who shouldn't be glamorized but the conservatives are not wrong to say that Pat, aside from helping found Quahog, cannot be judged by modern sensibilities. Though the Native American tribe whom Pat stole from argues that neither side has a point. They say that the liberals are overreacting to their ancestors' sins while the conservatives are simply Never My Fault reactionaries to the liberal's actions.

Real Life

  • This is the reason some people prefer to use the Golden Mean Fallacy when considering controversial topics like "Which political party really is worse for the country" or "Evolution vs. Creationism" and so on.
  • It's also why political power can and frequently does swing back and forth between different parties in democratic countries, as voters decide they like one party's policies at one time and then decide to switch to another party's policies later on. Sometimes parties who win elections and form governments end up plagiarizing parts of their opponents' platforms in order to broaden their own appeal in the electorate.
    • Similarly, in the Canadian 2011 election, the arguably most centered party (Liberal) was squashed out in favour of the NDP, which is, for the most part, more to the left, and the Conservative party, the right-most major party, which was already strong beforehand. It's up to debate how much of this was because of Jack Layton, and how much it was because of the poor showing of the Liberals (including the fact that they didn't claim Both Sides Have a Point).
  1. the "They Copied It, So It Sucks" complaints Simpsons fans make about Family Guy
  2. the argument Family Guy fans make about The Simpsons‍'‍ Seasonal Rot and We're Still Relevant, Dammit! episodes
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