Created By: Goldfritha on July 17, 2012 Last Edited By: Goldfritha on January 9, 2013

Only My Might Makes Right

A Might Makes Right character thinks that defeating him is cheating.

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Trope

A Complete Monster has done whatever pleased him: murder, rape, kidnapping, leading a horde of barbarians to rampage over civilization. Might Makes Right, after all. And anything goes for tactics: ambushes, slaughtering men who came for parley, murdering hostages once you got what you were claiming them for, Blatant Lies. Anyone who objects to these tactics is weak and deserves to lose.

When he's been defeated -- by an ambush, by magic, by distance weapons, by someone deducing his strategy and compensating -- he's not only a Sore Loser. He's in a rage, because that's cheating. Winning by such trickery is not real might and therefore does not entitle you to win. Sometimes this complaint is about something he could not have done, but it can as easily be something that he feels free to do himself.

This does not include failure to conform to the The Laws and Customs of War or local equivalent, unless the character himself has not obeyed them. A Subtrope of Hypocrite. Usually It's All About Me, but sometimes (only!) Moral Myopia.

The Pragmatic Hero may be as unscruplous in his tactics, but doesn't whine about losing. An occasional Hero will, after a long stint of reliable problems, object to something new as "cheating", but that's just surprise, and perhaps, for a Na´ve Newcomer, a need to be told that this is Not a Game.

Examples

Comic Books
  • There was an Archie comic in which Reggie pretty much beats up Archie to win the right to date Veronica that night. Reggie then goes over to Veronica's and professes that it's survival of the fittest in this world, blah blah blah... Veronica then introduces Reggie to a member of the school wrestling team -- aptly named "Charles Bicep" -- who also expressed an interest in dating Ronnie. At the end, Reggie is spouting the likes of "What are we, barbarians?" "Why can't we be civilized!"
Literature
  • In Michael Flynn's The January Dancer, a pirate led a brutal rampage on a planet, but was ambushed on the way back, losing his loot. He spoke contemptuously of them -- they had ambushed him, he could have taken them in a fair fight.
  • Also, staple of Sword & Sorcery -- there warriors proclaim that a fair fight is when it's done without magic, or wizards get offended at being knocked out mid-spell, or both.
  • Von Roon the German Staff officer in The Winds of War who writes a metafictional history is very much like this.

Newspaper Comics Newspaper Comics
  • This Calvin and Hobbes strip.: Calvin explains might makes right, and Hobbes pushes him out of the way, to his outrage.

Video Games
  • Piston in the Borderlands2 DLC Mr Torgue's Campaign of Carnage goes through some ridiculous lengths to rig fights in his favor, trampling the rules underfoot. Not only does he constantly deny being a cheater despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, once you actually kill him, he has a chance of accusing the player of cheating.

Web Comics

Western Animation
  • In one of the Looney Tunes cartoons that has Sylvester the cat fighting the baby kangaroo (which he thinks is a giant mouse), a losing Sylvester says something like "How can I clobber you if you don't fight fair?!

Real Life
  • Interpretations of evolution that call it "devolution" when a creature loses (unneeded or costly) faculties, or lament on evolutionary ground that a larger, more able, stronger, or smarter creature is being supplanted by a smaller, less able, etc. creature. By definition, the most evolutionarily fit are those that survive.
  • Spartans surrendered to Athenians early in the Pelopossian War -- to the shock and horror of Sparta -- and justified it on the grounds that the Athenians had used arrows, which no warrior could be expected to fight.

Community Feedback Replies: 27
  • July 17, 2012
    JohnDiFool
    Literature: In the Chronicles of Amber, a champion of the Courts of Chaos, Borel, challenges the hero Corwin to a fair fight, but Corwin, being a Pragmatic Hero, has no time for such pleasantries and kills Borel after blinding him with his cloak.
  • July 17, 2012
    Goldfritha
    Err -- who complains that it's unfair? For that matter, it is unfair, if Corwin accepted on those terms.
  • Is this not covered by Moral Dissonance or Sore Loser?
  • July 18, 2012
    MorganWick
  • July 18, 2012
    MusikMaestro
    The name is truly horrible. It's too long, and is hard to understand. How about Cheaters Never Prospore (Unless It's Me)
  • July 18, 2012
    MorganWick
    ^And you accuse this title of being too long???
  • July 18, 2012
    MusikMaestro
    It doesn't feel right and the name is really confusing. You at least get the idea from this one.

  • July 28, 2012
    Goldfritha
    Because it's not about fighting honorable. It's about making excuses that while Might Make Right, somehow the other guy, despite winning, doesn't have Might.
  • July 28, 2012
    planswalker
    I'm having a hard time parsing out the edges of this trope where it's distinct from others mentioned.

    Is this about a guy who CLAIMS (actions or words) that Might Makes Right but when someone else comes along and overpowers him, he claims that what he did was "cheating"?
  • July 29, 2012
    TBeholder
  • September 18, 2012
    Goldfritha
    It's not Fighting With Honor because he has no honor. There is nothing he will not do without shame, to win.

    Only his foes can cheat in his own eyes.
  • September 18, 2012
    StarValkyrie
    That image doesn't illustrate this trope. The defeated villain accuses the winning hero of cheating, but the hero agrees with him (presumably sarcastically - but it still doesn't show this accusation is unfair).
  • September 18, 2012
    Goldfritha
    Ah -- yes it does.
  • September 21, 2012
    SharleeD
    Hypocritical Cheater might be a better title, particularly if it's left open to non-combat scenarios as well.
  • September 21, 2012
    Goldfritha
    I think it fails to convey that he doesn't consider it cheating. For that matter, since it's a Matter Of Life And Death, neither does anyone else. And that would rather imply that they do.
  • September 26, 2012
    Chabal2
    • Devotees of Khorne in Warhammer and Warhammer 40 K concerning magic, as their War God views magic as cowardly and despicable. That's right, the seven-feet-tall armored axe-wielding berserker Blood Knights consider it cheating and unfair when you don't attack them face-to-face.
      • Ciaphas Cain finds himself pursued by a psyker assassin, who has the power to turn himself invisible. When his blank aide Jurgen (walking Anti Magic) rushes in, the psyker finds himself completely visible, and is outraged at this before being dispatched.
    • Sillage: one story is based around a strategic AI Running Both Sides of a planetary war out of, essentially, boredom, pitting its robotic troops against the sentient natives (to which it anonymously delivers supplies so they can keep fighting). When Navis arrives, she and her allies eventually make it to the AI's command room, finding that it has reacted to their presence by building a robotic body to fight with. As the rebels start to win, it starts complaining that it's not fair, which really pushes the rebel's Berserk Button (that the whole Forever War his friends and family died in was just a game).
  • September 26, 2012
    MorganWick
    My Might Makes Right?

    My problem with the image is that it works just as well as a quote.
  • September 26, 2012
    TBeholder
    Also, staple of Sword And Sorcery -- there warriors proclaim that a fair fight is when it's done without magic, or wizards get offended at being knocked out mid-spell, or both.
  • September 26, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    Newspaper Comics
  • September 30, 2012
    Earnest
    Might I suggest Only My Might Makes Right as a name? The current one made me think "might when used for good makes right" rather than this trope.
  • November 25, 2012
    StarSword
    ^^Web Links Are Not Examples. It's fine to link the strip, but you need to explain it in the example as well.
  • November 25, 2012
    jatay3
    Von Roon the German Staff officer in The Winds of War who writes a metafictional history is very much like this.
  • November 26, 2012
    Chabal2
    This guy from Rare Candy Treatment combines it with Scrub, considering switching out for a type advantage or using items to be cheating.
  • November 26, 2012
    0blivionmobile
    • Piston in the Borderlands2 DLC Mr Torgue's Campaign of Carnage goes through some ridiculous lengths to rig fights in his favor, trampling the rules underfoot. Not only does he constantly deny being a cheater despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, once you actually kill him, he has a chance of accusing the player of cheating.
  • November 28, 2012
    DracMonster
    This is difficult to title.

    Hypocritical In Defeat

    No Rules Means No Take Backs

    The only probolem with Only My Might Makes Right is it kinda looks like dialogue.
  • January 3, 2013
    SquirrelGuy
    There was an Archie comic in which Reggie pretty much beats up Archie to win the right to date Veronica that night. Reggie then goes over to Veronica's and professes that it's survival of the fittest in this world, blah blah blah... Veronica then introduces Reggie to a member of the school wrestling team -- aptly named "Charles Bicep" -- who also expressed an interest in dating Ronnie. At the end, Reggie is spouting the likes of "What are we, barbarians?" "Why can't we be civilized!"
  • January 3, 2013
    SquirrelGuy
    In one of the Looney Tunes cartoons that has Sylvester the cat fighting the baby kangaroo (which he thinks is a giant mouse), a losing Sylvester says something like "How can I clobber you if you don't fight fair?!
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