Lawful Good is the character alignment that is the most unambiguously heroic. These are the white hats, the caped crusaders, the knights in shining armor who fight for Truth, Justice, and the American way. They might not always be smart, and they might not always be nice, but you can always count on them to do the right thing…always.
A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. He combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. He tells the truth, keeps his word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished.
Although most Lawful Good characters are unambiguous, their conflicts are often quite complicated. This is because their dedication to the moral code is itself a weakness which an intelligent villain can exploit. Typically, this is done by putting them in a situation where they have to choose between being lawful (catching the bad guys) or being good (saving all the innocent people who will die in the process). A smart Lawful Good character, however, will come up with a third option that turns the ethical dilemma on its head, though it might require a heroic sacrifice.
Very often, these kinds of characters appeal to us because they represent some higher ideal which we wish we could follow. However, that’s not always the case, especially in more cynical works like A Game of Thrones, where the most lawful good characters also tend to be the most stupid. Ultimately, it all comes down to the bias of the writer; even when you’re trying not to be didactic, it’s hard not to use the Lawful Good character as a vehicle for some sort of message.
A shallow Lawful Good will be little more than a paragon for whatever virtue they’re meant to represent. A more nuanced Lawful Good will have some sort of a flaw (besides the backhanded ones), or some sort of internal conflict connected with their moral code to make them more human and relatable.
My favorite Lawful Good would probably be Sir Galahad from Le Morte d’Arthur, but mostly because of the sharp counterpoint he provides next to all the
thugs and criminals other Knights of the Round Table. Carter from Halo: Reach is a pretty cool Lawful Good, though he wasn’t my favorite (that would be Jorge). And even though he’s a complete idiot, Ned Stark is still the only adult character from A Game of Thrones that I found remotely likable.
In my own work, Jalil from Desert Stars starts out as Lawful Good, though he shifts to Lawful Neutral in the middle and up to Neutral Good by the end. In Bringing Stella Home / Sholpan, Lars and Narju definitely fall under this alignment, putting a lot of pressure on Stella to live up to their ideals. I explore Lars’s idealistic character a bit further in Heart of the Nebula, a direct sequel to Bringing Stella Home which I hope to release later this year. And in Star Wanderers, Noemi tends to fall under this alignment–though the story is not so much about saving the world as it is about saving each other.