You may have seen a chart like the above before. It’s an alignment chart, and it assigns alignments from Dungeons & Dragons to various fictional (or non-fictional) characters. I developed this one per a request from someone on Twitter…though I intentionally left out Light from Death Note because I couldn’t decide where to put him; a significant part of the story is basically his move from one alignment to another.
Now, alignment is a role-playing tool; it’s designed to give players a sort of guideline to consider when deciding their characters’ actions. It’s also a simplification of human behavior, so of course, it’s subjective and constantly-shifting. In other words, don’t take any of the alignment assignments above to be 100% fact…they’re just good examples of characters who tend to fit them.
How does alignment work? Basically you’ve got two scales: Lawful to Chaotic and Good to Evil, with neutral in the middle of each.
Lawful: Note that “lawful” does not necessarily refer to someone who only obeys official laws. Lawful characters feel that obeying a consistent order, set of rules, or moral code, whatever that code may be. Lawful characters will also generally choose to benefit a group over an individual. Think: honor, trustworthiness, and willingness to obey authority.
L-C Neutral: Aiming for or believing in a balance between law and chaos (or perhaps between predictability and luck) usually makes someone neutral on the law/chaos balance.
Chaotic: People who rely on chance and luck, believe the world is ultimately unpredictable, act on a whim, and who value the individual are often chaotic. They find value in both lying and truth-telling, in saving and destroying, etc. Think: Flexibility, unpredictability, and defiance of authority.
This distinction can become complex because one character might conceive of their action as “good” and another might think it “bad.”
Good: Think altruism, personal sacrifice to assist others, and a general willingness to get involved when one sees a perceived injustice.
G-E Neutral: Neutral can refer to several different types of people. A neutral person may specifically try to balance their good and evil actions; they may sometimes act good and other times act evil; or they may be unwilling to do anything significantly evil (like kill an innocent person) but also be unwilling to do anything good (like help save an innocent person).
Evil: Evil people may simply have no concern for the harm done by their actions (but are aware of them) or actively seek to harm others for fun or profit, or just because they can.
Again…these are a roleplay tool and an (over-)simplification, not a mathematical formula with absolute answers.