Trophy hunting is the subject of intense debate and polarised positions, particularly in the current context of acute concern for iconic species such as rhinos, elephants and lions in the face of a surge in poaching and illegal wildlife trade. The controversy has sparked moves at various levels to end or restrict trophy hunting, including through bans on the carriage or import of hunting trophies. Although there is a pressing need for the reform of hunting governance and practice in many countries, calls for blanket restrictions on trophy hunting assume that it is uniformly detrimental to conservation; such calls are frequently made based on poor information and inaccurate assumptions. Like it or not, trophy hunting can demonstrably play a positive role in supporting conservation and community rights and livelihoods, but only where there is adequate governance and responsible management. Here I examine examples of trophy hunting around the world (good, bad, and ugly) to highlight and illustrate some key characteristics of successful programmes. Characteristics discussed include the distribution of benefits from hunting, the economic pressures on landowners, the impacts of corruption, the nature of tenure arrangements, and the transparency of benefit flows and other aspects of management.