Cooperation Gambit YKTTW Discussion

Cooperation Gambit
Just because you have to destroy your enemy later now doesn't mean you can't cut a fair deal now
Better Name Needs Examples
(permanent link) added: 2013-10-27 12:15:20 sponsor: Bisected8 (last reply: 2013-11-27 08:46:59)

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"No, that's not ironic. Ironic would be if we had to work together to hurt each other."
Simmons, Red vs. Blue

Homer: All right, brain; you don't like me and I don't like you. But lets just do this and I can get back to killing you with beer.
Homer's Brain: It's a deal!

This trope is about making a deal with or helping the enemy or the opposition in order to further one's own goals. Often, the thought behind this is to give up a short-term advantage or benefit for a more longer-term or lasting one. The cooperation need not be mutual or completely honest, as long as the terms of the deal are honoured and no coercion is involved. Some hypothetical examples include:

  • Providing information to the opposition where they can find an important artefact, hoping that this can keep them distracted enough that you can find a more important or useful item.
  • Treating your prisoners well, and agreeing on prisoner exchanges, in the hope of your enemies treating their prisoners well as well, and that the enemy forces will surrender instead of fighting to the death.
  • Trading one important item for another. Both sides get what they want (or maybe deprive the other side of what they traded for) without the need for a battle (e.g. the heroes want that silly looking stone and the villains are willing to trade it for that rusty old sword).
  • Making a temporary truce on the understanding it'll be business as usual afterwards. Working together for a goal they know only one of them can obtain in the end (with the benefits of cooperating outweighing the risks of the other side snatching it first) is a common cause.

This sort of thing is never a Heel-Face Turn/Face-Heel Turn (although it can be part of a Hazy Feel Turn, especially if a Wild Card's involved) - the character or faction in question is still working towards their original goals. A low level hero or minion might still work against the boss's wishes (e.g. they let a prisoner go because they think they're more effort to keep imprisoned than they could get from holding them hostage...or maybe to keep their leader from Jumping Off the Slippery Slope), however. At its most extreme, a character might join up as The Sixth Ranger (either as a representative of their side or working on their own initiative).

Super Trope to Enemy Mine (where the "deal" in question is joining forces for the specific purpose of overcoming some sort of threat to both sides), examples of which belong on that page.

The Enigmatic Minion is especially prone to these with the heroes, while a hero attempting this might make themselves a Poisonous Friend (and someone of any morality might suffer a Neutrality Backlash). If both sides join forces, it might lead to Teeth-Clenched Teamwork. Compare Punchclock Villain/Punchclock Hero, Go-Karting with Bowser, Deal with the Devil, Villain Teamup and Pragmatic Villainy. Contrast Hostage for MacGuffin and Blackmail Is Such an Ugly Word (for unfair deals).


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     Anime and Manga 
  • In the Pokémon anime, Team Rocket have helped Ash and Co a couple of times to further their own plans. For example;
    • In "Pokémon Scent-sation!" they helped him sneak into an all-girls gym he'd been banned from by dressing him up as "Ashley" and posing as "her" parents. This allows them to plant a smoke bomb so they could break in later (although they let him assume they were doing him a favour for helping them when they were stuck in a tree).
    • On more than one occasion (the first being "Electric Shock Showdown") they cheered him on with the excuse that it'll mean Ash's pokemon will be stronger "when" they steal them (particularly in the Pokemon league episodes).
  • In One Piece, Trafalgar Law, (who previously considered himself a rival to the other Supernovas. The Straw Hats in particular), forms an alliance with the Straw Hats to defeat Kaido (one of the Four Emperors) by cutting the weapons supply from his client, Doflamingo. Turns out Law was really after Doflamingo himself. Kaido is merely his backup plan and he used the Straw Hats to destroy Doflamingo's weapons factory so that Kaido will punish him for it.

  • The Great Race. After Professor Fate and Maggie DuBois are kidnapped by some bad guys, Fate's minion Max joins forces with the Great Leslie to rescue them. Of course, being a villain Max betrays the heroes during the rescue.
  • The entire plot of Exam. All eight candidates are vying for the same job, but they agree to work together fully knowing only one can advance. Some are more genuine in their cooperation than others.
  • The premise of the Wuxia movie Warriors of Heaven and Earth is based around this sort of deal between a military officer named Lt. Lai Qi and his predecessor, Lt. Li (who deserted). It turns out that Li has sworn to escort a group of monks (and refuses to come quietly if he's not allowed to do so), so Lai Qui agrees to help him escort them on the understanding they'll resume their battle afterwards.
  • In Ocean's Thirteen, the group gets financial sponsorship from the villain of the first two movies in exchange for the profits. The main characters are happy with this deal, since it's not about the money this time.

  • One of the main strategies adopted by Mike Stearns in the 1632 books. The time-displaced Americans, for example, teach everyone they meet (friends, opponents, or enemies) how to make the antibiotic chloramphenicol. They know that any major production will require them to educate their workforce, and thus let in more radical ideas. Stearns also directly advises his political rival Wilhelm Wettin in how to build an effective political party that could rival his own.
  • In Jules Verne's Around The Worldin Eighty Days, the valet and the police inspector come to an agreement to help each other as long as Fogg is out of British territory - the inspector wants to arrest Fogg for a bank robbery, the valet is trying to help his boss finish his world trip.
    "Friends, no, allies, yes, but at the slightest sign of treachery I'll wring your neck."
  • In the Ciaphas Cain novel "For the Emperor", Cain's unit is stationed on a planet that's on the verge of civil war thanks to the Tau attempting to annex it. Neither side wants it to break out (yet), leading to a lot of this. Early on, a Kroot mercenary saves Cain from being beaten to death by Tau sympathisers. Much later, Cain helps a Tau ambassador get medical treatment and escorts him back to his compound (even having to order the guardsmen under his command to shoot some loyalists who wanted to lynch the Tau).

     Web Comics 

     Western Animation 
  • In the Futurama episode "Mother's Day", Mom has set off a Robot War (with a remote control that forces all the robots in the world to rebel) because it's the anniversary of the day she was spurned by Prof. Farnsworth. Her sons try to end the uprising and make her happy by tracking down Farnsworth and getting him to get back together with her.
  • Averted by Buzz Lightyear of Star Command; one episode has Zerg deposed by another villain and he spends it watching Buzz et al trying to fight the new threat without offering any help (apparently on principle).

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