->'''Agent Valentine:''' You have broken every arms embargo written. There is enough evidence here to put you away for consecutive life sentences. I don't think you appreciate the seriousness of your situation.\\
'''Yuri Orlov:''' My family has disowned me. My wife and son have left me. My brother is dead. Trust me, I fully appreciate the seriousness of my situation. But I promise, I won't spend a single second in court.\\
'''Agent Valentine:''' ''[after Yuri is proven right]'' I would tell you to go to Hell, but I think you're already there.
-->-- ''Film/LordOfWar''

The villain always loses, right? Actually... no. Sometimes the villain surprises us all and is victorious, even if only in the short-term. However, victory comes with a price. Both they and the audience may well ask [[WasItReallyWorthIt if it was]] [[PyrrhicVictory worth it]]. Often this takes one of two forms: either it has taken so much effort (and such [[KickTheDog underhanded methods]]) to win that it has left the good guys as the [[DoomedMoralVictor moral victors]] with a better legacy, or in order to accomplish their goal the villain has had [[LonelyAtTheTop to sacrifice what they cared for most]] and/or made them likeable and/or relatable-to for the audience.

So while their efforts might have paid off, to answer the earlier question of whether it was worth it: frequently it is not.

See also TheBadGuyWins, for where the villain ''doesn't'' suffer from this (though he may still incur some cost). This sort of plot may be found in a villain's StartOfDarkness, back when the villain was either a hero or a much lesser villain, and first turned to true villainy, bringing victory... but at a cost. On the other hand, really top notch villains may win without sacrificing everything, only to find that VictoryIsBoring. A MeaninglessVillainVictory is when the villain wins but a sudden unforeseen event renders their victory hollow and their efforts for naught. BeingEvilSucks also counts if the villain in question have a HeelRealization about the choices he made.

Needless to say, this is an {{Ending Trope|s}}, so '''beware the spoilers!'''



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Harry [=McDowell=] in the anime version of the game franchise ''Anime/{{Gungrave}}'' first just wanted enough power to live his life freely and protect the people important to him. With time, he succeeds in rising to the top of [[TheSyndicate Millennion]] and making it more powerful than the law itself, but only by losing sight of his original goals and betraying almost everyone he cares about. He's driven to kill both Brandon, his best friend whom he relied on in all his life (leading to some spectacular {{Villainous Breakdown}}s), the fatherly prior head of the organization and his wife, Brandon's sweetheart. Twenty years later, though, he's finally able to face Brandon and come to terms with his life.
** Conversely, in the game's continuity, he shows no remorse for killing Brandon/Grave (Harry in the game's storyline is depicted as little more than a complete prick). Either way he still wanted Mika, the innocent daughter of Grave's former love interest dead. [[spoiler:Harry even had Big Daddy used as a guinea pig and mutated him into an acid flame-spewing monstrosity, just to ''see what kind of effects Necro-Rise/S.E.E.D. would have on him'' and has no qualms about siccing Big Daddy on Grave as the FinalBoss of the game. As a result, Harry dies, Grave lives, and moves on with his "life" with Mika.]]
* Seen in ''Anime/HellGirl''. Yes, your contract with Enma Ai gives you what you want: to punish someone who's slighted you big time. However, by sending that person to Hell, you've condemned ''yourself'' as well, since when your life comes to an end, you will join them in Hell. See the mark on your chest? It'll remind you of the DealWithTheDevil you made.
* In ''Manga/{{Hellsing}}'' [[spoiler:[[BigBad The Major]] succeeds in defeating Alucard, even though [[ActionGirl Integra]] [[ShutUpHannibal kills]] him in the end. Also, London ultimately rebuilds and life continues on like normal. And just like the last time he was soundly beaten, Alucard is never truly out of the game; he comes back ''eventually''.]]
** On the other hand, [[spoiler: the Major was actually a DeathSeeker, and everything he did was with this singular goal in mind, so he may have gotten exactly what he wanted.]]
* Happens twice in ''Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventure'':
** Kars, the main villain of [[Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventureBattleTendency Part 2]], gets what he wants [[spoiler:which is to become the ultimate lifeform, which lives forever and can adapt to any environment or situation]], but ends up [[spoiler:flung into space, where he will live forever, but slowly go insane from the boredom]].
** Enrico Pucci in [[Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventureStoneOcean Part 6]] [[spoiler:kills most of the heroes and obtains his vision of "heaven", if only for a moment... but then gets killed by a mere child, and the world then gets the ResetButton; and he's no longer in the universe, having never been born]].
* Although it may depend somewhat on your interpretation, SEELE's plan doesn't seem to have turned out the way they intended by the end of ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion''.
** Chairman Keel seemed quite pleased with the outcome. Presumably they are among the people who can't "imagine themselves in their own hearts", so no free resurrection card for them, but that's apparently what they wanted.
*** Shinji, arguably, fits this trope better. In both endings this is what he wanted. In both endings, he got better, but after getting what he wanted... well, Alexander the Great might have wept over no more worlds to conquer, but thanks to Shinji there's no longer a world.
** Gendo certainly didn't get what he wanted. Rei rejected him in favor of Shinji, and it's implied that he is not reunited with Yui in the pseudo-afterlife that is Third Impact, since (what appears to be) Yui/Unit 01's response is [[spoiler:literally biting his head off.]]
* In ''AudioPlay/SaintBeast'', having defeated two justified rebellions from the angels, Zeus is sick of war and decides to retire and go into a long sleep.
* In ''Anime/PsychoPass'' Season 2, Kirito Kamui finally killed Masako Togane and forced the Sibyl System to judge itself. However, everything he did is already pointless because the system remains standing and is on the verge of expanding its control outside Japan by lending its "help" to [=SEAUn=] [[spoiler:and assassinating its leader when he realized their true nature]]. All what Kamui did was helping Sibyl get rid of those defective brains that hinder their progress and the ones left are the sociopathic ones.
* In ''Anime/DragonBallSuper'', Zamasu has actually succeeded in his "Zero Mortal Plan" when his bodiless EldritchAbomination form has successfully managed to wipe out all mortal life in Future Trunks Timeline. Unfortunately by that time, he has completely lost his sanity meaning that he will never be able to enjoy this victory. Furthermore, he also failed to kill the fighters who cause him the most grief and shortly afterwards, gets immediately wiped out by Zen'O after Goku called him. Zamasu's plan ultimately amounted to nothing because of this.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In the ''Emperor Doom'' Graphic Novel, Doctor Doom succeeds in conquering the world by brainwashing everyone. By and large he's a fairly benevolent monarch and does much to solve many of the world's problems. Unfortunately, [[VictoryIsBoring he's so bored out of his mind]] that when the one unaffected hero manages to break the spell on a few others, he lets the rebellion win. He'd rather be a conqueror than a DeskJockey.
** This is a running theme with Dr. Doom; every time he manages to take control of a nation/planet, he'll spruce the place up very nicely and run it better than most governments ever manage, but will ultimately get bored of running it. Doom enjoys the challenge of taking over a nation and solving problems, not the mundane managerial work of keeping national status quo.
*** The exception is in ''Doom 2099.'' He conquers the United States, and actually intends to keep power, so he can fix the ''entire world.'' It doesn't end well for him, the country, or [[KillEmAll most of the heroes.]]
** In Triumph and Torment, this is how Doom saves his mother.
* The end of the ''ComicBook/CivilWar'' plays with this: ComicBook/IronMan's reputation has essentially become mud because of his support of the SHRA, and it's only further compounded by ComicBook/CaptainAmerica's death.
--> "It was the right thing to do! And I was willing to get in bed with people we despised to get this done. And I knew the world favors the underdog and I would be the bad guy."
* ''ComicBook/ArchieComicsSonicTheHedgehog'' had an early, non-canon YetAnotherChristmasCarol where Robotnik is taken to see the future. Robotnik has finally defeated the Freedom Fighters, but he has rendered himself the last man alive in doing so, turning Mobius into a barren wasteland. However, Robotnik doesn't grasp this, and fails to learn his lesson.
* In Marvel's [[{{Elseworlds}} "What if Juggernaut killed the X-men"]], [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin the Juggernaut successfully kills Xavier and the X-men]], but he doesn't get to enjoy it because [[EvilOnlyHasToWinOnce without the X-men to stop them, the Sentinels release a poison gas into the atmosphere]] that kills everyone but Juggernaut due to his powers, and he finds that he can't interact with people hiding in shelters because breaking in exposes them to the gas. So he's all alone in the world, forever.
* While not technically a villain, the Finance Smurf from ''ComicBook/TheSmurfs'' comic book story of the same name gains the entire village after all his fellow Smurfs, including Papa Smurf, have left it behind along with all their money...only for himself to be left without anybody to share his new-found good fortune with, making him very sad and lonely. This makes Finance Smurf come to his senses and go out to find the Smurfs to tell them he's giving them back everything and abolishing the money system.
* Played with in ''ComicBook/TheBatmanAdventures''[='=]s final issue with "''Fear Itself''": Joe Chill ended up in jail on an unrelated charge after shooting Thomas and Martha Wayne, meaning that the police[[note]]and Batman[[/note]] overlooked him. By the time he finds out just who he shot -- and just who the boy that he'd spared that night was -- said boy's become an "''untouchable millionaire''" long out of Chill's reach, and Chill is depicted as seeming to be living relatively scot-free[[note]]and in fact, he ''would'' have been[[/note]]... except for his ''constantly'' hallucinating the adult Bruce Wayne's face wherever he goes, spending every day day in mortal fear that someday Bruce Wayne ''will'' remember his face and finally finger him to the cops. [[spoiler:Not only do Batman and a GCPD detective both not recognize his face, Batman actually mistakenly believing Chill to be a henchman of Killer Croc's[[note]]ironically, Chill has no idea who Croc is[[/note]], but [[UnknownRival finding out his real name and his alias doesn't ring a bell either]], meaning that Joe Chill was in a hell ''entirely'' of his own making.]]
* At the end of the "Kindly Ones" arc of ''ComicBook/TheSandman'', Lyta Hall, aided by the Kindly Ones, succeeds in killing Dream and avenging her son's apparent death. There's just one problem: Daniel wasn't actually dead, and for her crimes against the Dreaming, he is forced to become the new Dream, so she will never, ever get him back. And on top of that, her actions have pissed off a lot of people, leaving her with a lot of enemies.
* In ''ComicBook/Injustice2'' (the comic book prequel to the [[VideoGame/Injustice2 video game of same name]]), ComicBook/RasAlGhul manages to get rid of the corporate executives polluting the world as well as [[spoiler:successfully assassinating the President of the United States for his anti-environmental policies]] with none of the heroes being able to stop him. However, in the process [[spoiler:his animal reserve with several endangered species being devotedly guarded by Ra's gets destroyed during a battle with the superheroes, leading to their species being practically extinguished]]. He lets his enemies go because there is no more point in fighting, and makes sure to tell them whatever victory he made that day is meaningless due to the price payed before swearing to carry on the fight even more ferociously.

[[folder:Comic Strip]]
* A minor example in ''ComicStrip/{{Retail}}'' occurred when Josh, the assistant manager for Grumbel's, lied about getting a job offer from a competing store in order to secure a raise. He initially got away with it...until Marla (the store manager) found out about it, and proceeded to tell Stuart, their district manager who was formerly Josh's supporter. No longer having Stuart's protection, and with Marla planning to fire him, Josh quickly got himself a new job and quit.

[[folder:Fan Fiction]]
* There is a ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' [[AlternateUniverse AU]] story in which Sephiroth [[spoiler:achieves his goal of godhood, only to "rule" over a dead, unpopulated landscape, doomed to wander forever through a barren world alone and abandoned by Jenova. It climaxes with him falling to his knees, screaming in agony and irretrievable insanity]].
* On a similar note, there is a ''Franchise/StarWars'' fanfic where Anakin wins the duel with Obi-Wan on Mustafar, but Padme dies before Palpatine's ship arrives. Anakin promptly turns on Palpatine and kills him, and spends some time ruling the galaxy, searching for a way to bring Padme and the twins BackFromTheDead, slowly going crazier all the while. Naturally, it's a massive case of CameBackWrong when he finally does try to bring Padme and the twins back, and Anakin responds by wreaking havoc on the galaxy in his fury. In the end, he returns to Mustafar, where he spends eternity sitting on a throne in the middle of the hellish wasteland, surrounded only by the bodies of Obi-Wan and Palpatine (and maybe Padme), and talking to the bodies as though they were still alive.
** According to ''Film/RogueOne'', [[HilariousInHindsight he apparently does have a throne there]].
* ''[[http://www.fanfiction.net/s/3036180/ When All Your Dreams Come True]]'', an ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' fic, explores what would have happened if Prince Zuko had actually managed to capture Team Avatar. The results are nightmarish, with [[spoiler:Sokka publicly lynched and his corpse put on display in a museum, Katara forced to spend the rest of her life fighting in a gladiator arena in order to bloody virgin troops, and Aang is bodily mutilated to the point where he can't threaten anyone, to the point where the last we hear of him is him having gone insane to the point where he begs his guards to let him out to feel the sun on his skin one last time.]] And the worst part for Zuko, aside from the guilt of seeing that happen? No one back home believes he actually captured the Avatar. They think Iroh did and then gave the credit to his incompetent nephew. The fic ends with [[spoiler:Zuko escaping into a fantasy life where he made friends with Team Avatar, while outside in the real world the Fire Nation wins the war.]]
* {{Discussed}} in the ''WesternAnimation/{{Daria}}'' fanfic "Fanfic/GodSaveTheEsteem." [[MamaBear Helen]] (who owns her own private firm in this universe) is in an intense debate with the school's attorney, [[AmoralAttorney Jim Vitale]], about a case involving [[TheSnarkKnight Daria]]. Helen points out that if the case goes to court the victory could go either way, and given how much bigger his firm is than hers, even a slim victory will look embarrassing for his side. After a moment of thought, he agrees to settle.
* In ''Fanfic/NecessaryToWin'', [[OriginalCharacter Ceylon]], discontent with what she believes to be overly lenient policies by her predecessor as St. Gloriana's commander, [[BadBoss becomes very harsh in her leadership of the team, to the point of being abusive]]. The team advances to the semifinals, but is defeated as a result of one of Ceylon's mistakes, and partly the result of a mistake made by one of her panicking subordinates; Ceylon tries to scapegoat the latter for what happened. In the end, Ceylon leaves the school as a pariah, and leaves high school feeling empty.
* In ''FanFic/TheFifthAct'', when Angeal finds out that his illness is terminal and that Cloud's genetics might hold the secret for a cure. Angeal succeeds in kidnapping Cloud and sold him out to Hollander in order to find a cure. He then finds out that Hollander has no intention of curing him and fully intends to experiment on Cloud to find out what made Cloud superior. Then Hollander is killed and Cloud kidnapped ''again'' with no cure to show for it. He betrayed Cloud's and his friends' trust, is now a fugitive and has completely betrayed his ideals and is still going to die.
* Both played straight and discussed in the final episode of ''FanFic/SonicXDarkChaos''. Maledict succeeded in creating an "Ultimate Weapon" greater than he ever dreamed of... but the fact that his prized Ultimate Weapon ([[spoiler: both of them, in fact]]) ended up turning against him [[{{Irony}} thanks to his own actions]] made his success ultimately pointless. Even ''Maledict himself'' admits his GambitRoulette wasn't worth it in the end.
* In ''FanFic/WishCarefully'', Voldemort and the Death Eaters got [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor exactly what they wanted]]: Britain is theirs, with the Light Side barred by a MagicallyBindingContract from returning for as long as the Death Eaters rule, and the Light faction will take all the Muggleborns and Squibs away each year so that the Death Eaters will never have to deal with them again. All they had to agree to was not to go after the Light refugees or interfere in any way with the Muggle world. It wasn't until well after the treaty that they realized that virtually all the producers of goods and services were Light-aligned, leaving them with a crippled economy that is hemorrhaging gold. Even worse, without the muggleborns and Light-faction bloodlines, inbreeding is slowly choking the magic out of their descendants.
* ''[[https://www.fimfiction.net/story/303151/1/the-same-box/forfeit The Same Box]]'': Starlight Glimmer has equalized every pony in Equestria, including herself, and imprisoned Princess Celestia in a machine that drains her magic to move the sun and moon, as her cutie mark cannot be removed. After warning Starlight one final time that her false utopia will end in disaster, to no avail, Celestia commits suicide rather than live in Starlight's equal world. With Celestia gone, Equestria is stuck in a state of EndlessDaytime, as equalized unicorns' magic is not strong enough to move the sun and moon. Equalized pegasi cannot control the weather, and equalized earth ponies cannot farm the land to grow crops. Equestria collapses into a dystopia as plants and animals die in droves. Life becomes worthless, no longer worth living or enjoying because all traces of individuality have been eradicated and [[CreativeSterility nothing meaningful can be achieved anymore]]. Eventually, Starlight is left to overlook the abandoned ruins of Canterlot from the castle, realizing too late that her attempts to make a utopia led to the destruction of her world.
* Similarly in ''[[https://www.fimfiction.net/story/302926/waiting Time Will Catch Up]]'', Starlight uses the time travel spell to figure out how to keep Twilight and her friends from escaping the village and restoring the Equal Ponies' cutie marks. She commits a number of heinous crimes, including cutting off Rainbow Dash's wings and burning Rarity's boutique, to make sure they have no choice but to follow her philosophy of twisted equality. She eventually obtains even the Princesses' cutie marks and rules over Equestria. It quickly collapses under her rule--ponies starve due to farmers' inability to grow crops and chefs' inability to make edible food, others freeze in uncontrollable weather, houses collapse due to incompetent builders, and disease runs rampant due to lack of doctors. Eventually, everypony dies and Equestria is reduced to a completely lifeless wasteland. Realizing her mistakes, Starlight waits for her original-timeline self and Twilight to arrive so she can show herself what Equestria will look like if she turns everypony "equal".
-->'''Future Starlight:''' You wanted to build a world where everypony is equal. We're all equal in death.
* ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5391086/1/Deserving Deserving]]'': Courtney wins the million dollars at the end of ''Total Drama Action'', but she ends up having to spend nearly all of it to pay her lawyers for [[ScrewTheRulesIHaveConnections getting her back into the competition]], leaving her with just $20. On top of that, she nearly let Duncan fall off a cliff while she was grabbing the briefcase with the money in it, making him so disgusted with her that he dumps her and hooks up with Gwen instead. And to rub salt in the wound, Heather attacks her with an electric razor and shaves all her hair off.
* ''[[https://www.fimfiction.net/story/318115/long-live-the-queen Long Live The Queen]]'': During her battle with Starlight Glimmer, Twilight ends up in a timeline where Sunset succeeded in plan to steal the Element of Magic[[note]]basically, Trixie became the Element of Magic but was unable to complete Starswirl's spell, and when she traveled to the human world, her vanity prevented her from rallying the school against Sunset[[/note]], overthrew Celestia, banished her to the human world, and destroyed the magic mirror so she could never return. She transformed herself into an alicorn, [[TakenForGranite petrified]] everypony else powerful enough to pose a threat to her, and now rules Equestria unchallenged with an iron hoof. [[spoiler:However, [[ZeroPercentApprovalRating she is not loved by anypony,]] and using fear to keep her subjects in line has left her miserable and asking "WasItReallyWorthIt" Abandoning her position is out of the question, since she is the only alicorn left to raise the sun and moon. And since she has made herself immortal, she will live and rule forever. She is so jaded that she allows Twilight to travel back in time to restore the original timeline, even risking the possibility that her timeline will be [[RetGone Ret Goned]] and her along with it, because she knows that the Sunset from Twilight's original timeline found redemption and, she feels, deserves to live more than her]].
-->'''Sunset Shimmer:''' I am the only alicorn left to raise the sun and moon for them. I have told them Celestia will never return. They do not believe me. They harbor hopes that she will return someday. I cannot allow them to overthrow me for empty hope. But I have crushed their hope. My subjects shake in fear when I pass. To refer to me without my title could mean banishment, or worse. I am Queen of Equestria. Immortal and beautiful and flawless. None could ever hope to rebel against me and succeed. Equestria and her ponies hate me. Yet, they also fear me. And in their fear, they are obedient. That is the best I can achieve for at least many years to come, until the memory of Celestia fades and none but I remember her. You tell me, Twilight Sparkle. Am I happy in this world?
* ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/4977203/1/King-Nothing King Nothing]]'': Justin wins the million-dollar prize at the end of ''Total Drama Action'' by manipulating and backstabbing his way through the game, revealing his true nature to everyone who saw the show. The other contestants hate him, he loses all of his fans, everyone at his school shuns him, and [[DisappointedInYou his parents are no longer proud of him.]] When he graduates and moves out, he can't get any modeling jobs, due to his terrible reputation. He's unable to find a date and his family wants nothing to do with him. He sinks into depression and becomes an alcoholic, losing his good looks and his money. He's eventually evicted from his apartment and ends up working as a janitor at a crappy bar. While at work, he sees a recording of himself after winning ''Total Drama Action'', proclaiming "I am king!" and he mutters sadly to himself, "Yeah, I'm king alright... king of nothing."
* In ''[[Fanfic/TheNuptialverse Metamorphosis]]'', this is Queen Chrysalis' origin story. She was once a pegasus soldier, exiled from Commander Hurricane's forces for trying to [[WarHawk start war with the earth ponies and unicorns,]] who [[DealWithTheDevil made a deal with Discord]] to gain the powers of all three pony tribes. He gave her a unicorn's horn, an earth pony's strength, and an entire changeling army, but [[KarmicTransformation transformed her into her current hideous bug-like form]], and stripped her of her cutie mark and original name. Despite her newfound power, she was forced to be his servant, with the promise of a FateWorseThanDeath if she disobeyed him.
* This is what happens to Celestia in the ''[[Fanfic/TheConversionBureau Conversion Bureau]]'' {{deconstruction fic}} series ''Fanfic/TheNegotiationsVerse'', minus the "victory" part. It's [[TheReveal revealed]] that she transported Equestria to Earth because [[spoiler:Equus' sun was dying and she didn't have enough time to save their whole world from the coming destruction, so she transported Equestria to the only suitable planet she could locate (Earth) while knowing what fate would befall the other races after they left,]] and then created the potion and Conversion Bureaus because she was convinced peaceful coexistence with the humans would be impossible. When it turned out the majority of humankind did not want to convert (not helped by how the newfoal converts were a bunch of [[GettingSmiliesPaintedOnYourSoul perpetually smiling]] [[StepfordSmiler automatons]] straight out of the UncannyValley), she decided to force the issue, only for the humans to collectively put aside their differences to unite against a common enemy. In the war, Celestia's whole family is killed (sans Twilight and Spike, who immediately disowned her after discovering what she'd done), Equestria was invaded and completely devastated, and once her crimes were brought to light, nearly all of her beloved ponies turned against her. And to cap it all off, Celestia is executed and will be remembered as a murderer and monster even worse than Hitler by future generations.

[[folder:Film - Live-Action]]
* Michael Corleone might be the ultimate example of this by the end of ''Film/TheGodfather'' movies.
** [[Film/TheGodfather Part 1]]: Certainly he's destroyed every major underworld power in his way but at the cost of his soul.
** [[Film/TheGodfatherPartII Part 2]]: Again he destroys his enemies and takes on the US government and wins, but he's also destroyed his marriage, alienated his children and friends, killed his brother, and is left utterly alone.
** [[Film/TheGodfatherPartIII Part 3]]: He passes leadership of the family but fails to legitimize it, his daughter is killed right in front of him and finally he dies alone and unhappy.
* Daniel Plainview's empty isolation and drunken insanity at the close of ''Film/ThereWillBeBlood''. And his now immortal final line: ''"I'm finished!"'' implies that the way his life turned out is exactly what he wanted.
* The movie version of ''Film/TheTalentedMrRipley'' has Ripley [[spoiler:having to kill everyone he likes in order to get away with it]]. The book ends by indicating that he'll never be able to look at another policeman without that flash of alarm that says "This is it -- he's the one -- he ''knows''." Not a way ''anyone'' would like to live life.
* ''Franchise/StarWars'':
** Anakin Skywalker is a prime example of this by the end of the prequel trilogy in ''Film/RevengeOfTheSith''. Sure, he's won the war, and his turn to TheDarkSide has allowed his EvilOverlord partner to take over the galaxy, but he's lost the pregnant wife he did it all for, had his limbs chopped off, and is forced to spend the rest of his life in an uncomfortable life support suit to avoid dying from his burns. The [[Literature/RevengeOfTheSith novelization]] puts it best:
--->You killed her because, finally, when you ''could'' have saved her, when you could have gone ''away'' with her, when you could have been thinking about ''her'', you were only thinking about ''yourself''...\\
It is in this blazing moment that you finally understand the trap of the dark side, the final cruelty of the Sith--\\
Because now your ''self'' is all you will ever have.
** [[TheDragon Kylo]] [[AntiVillain Ren]] in ''Film/TheForceAwakens''. Obsessed with setting himself in the image of Darth Vader, his personal [[BadIsGoodAndGoodIsBad hero]] [[spoiler:and grandfather]], he has eradicated the new Jedi Order started by Luke Skywalker and joined [[TheRemnant the First Order]] in restoring the shattered Galactic Empire, but he has grown so [[SanitySlippage emotionally and mentally unstable]] that his First Order allies can't completely trust him, and in the end, he has possibly destroyed his hopes of redemption/reconciliation [[spoiler:by murdering his own father, Han Solo]]. It's hard not to [[CryForTheDevil pity him to a certain extent]].
** The First Order by the end of the ''Film/TheLastJedi''. [[spoiler: By all but wiping out the Resistance, they've become the only major superpower in the galaxy, but their Supreme Leader Snoke is killed, their fleet was devastated, and they experienced immense casualties just to take down a relative handful of ships and rebels. In the end, their new leader Kylo Ren humiliated himself in front of his army, highlighting his inexperience and rashness for all to see, and his actions allowed a number of Resistance members to escape from them as a result, preventing a complete victory for the First Order. The only reason they managed to gain any victory at all despite their incredible losses to the amount gained is because their surviving forces still vastly outnumber and outgun the remaining Resistance at the end, making it a win by technicality.]]
* By the end of ''Film/ThreeHundred'', Xerxes has lost most of his best troops and although he's defeated Leonidas at Thermopylae, the performance of the Spartans and the losses inflicted among his men has only given new determination and inspiration to the other Greeks. Historically speaking this was only a minor setback for the Persians, but other Greeks counterattacked and forced the Persians to leave the country; therefore Xerxes won the battle but lost the war because the choke point of Thermopylae bought the other Greeks enough time to mass for their counterattack.
* By the end of ''Film/PatGarrettAndBillyTheKid'', it's clear that Garrett realizes that he will lead a conflicted, unhappy life and will be chiefly remembered for killing his friend. Billy, meanwhile, will have most of his bits of sociopathy forgotten by an adoring public (to an extent, this extends to other portrayals of the two, including ''Film/YoungGunsII'').
* In ''Film/HouseOfFlyingDaggers'', TheMole for LaResistance accomplishes his mission to perfection, but loses the ActionGirl he loves, and [[IfICantHaveYou later kills her]] while fighting TheRival who had won her love. He ends the film a broken shell of a man.
* In ''Film/LordOfWar'', VillainProtagonist and ArmsDealer Yuri Orlov manages to evade the law and escape a long stay in prison to continue his gunrunning. However, this comes at the cost of his brother and uncle being killed, his parents disowning him, and his one true love divorcing him and taking his only son with her. He was also released only due to being useful to the U.S. Government and he's fully aware they can have him [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness disposed of if his usefulness ceases]].[[note]]Such as if the political liability of retaining him finally overrides the ''de facto'' benefit of his services.[[/note]] This is hammered home when the Interpol agent chasing Yuri says that normally he'd tell Yuri to go to Hell, but he thinks that Yuri's already there.
* In the Hong Kong action crime drama ''Film/ShaPoLang'' (or ''Kill Zone'' in the U.S.), [[spoiler:Triad crimelord Wong Po, the villain played by Sammo Hung, defeats the hero Inspector Ma played by Donnie Yen by sending him right out a window... [[CarCushion right onto the Wong family's waiting car with Po's beloved child and wife still inside, killing all three of them]]]].
* ''Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan'': Khan's ruthless, vicious bid to exact revenge on Captain Kirk succeeds (up to a point), and he even acquires what might be the most powerful piece of technology in the 23rd century. Unfortunately, this success led to him sinking deeper into insanity, leading his [[UndyingLoyalty devoted followers]] to their deaths, getting disfigured, and finally [[TakingYouWithMe committing suicide in an effort to finish off the object of his fixation.]] Early on, his own [[TheDragon right-hand man]] pointed out that he had already achieved a limited victory and could [[KarmaHoudini fly away without suffering any consequences.]] [[ContractualGenreBlindness Naturally,]] [[IgnoredEpiphany his advice went unheeded.]]
* ''Film/RealSteel'' has [[spoiler:Zeus declared the winner of the match between him and Atom despite the latter knocking the former out, keeping his status as the unbeatable champion. However, Zeus is booed by the crowd who embraces Atom as the "people's champion."]]
* Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse:
** In ''Film/{{The Avengers|2012}}'', Tony tries to explain to Loki that this is the ''best'' he can hope for.
--->'''Tony Stark:''' You're missing the point, ''there's no throne''. There is ''no'' version of this where you come out on top. ''Maybe'' your army comes, and ''maybe'' it's too much for us, but ''it's all on you''. Because if we can't protect the Earth, [[YouHaveNoChanceToSurvive you can be damn sure we'll avenge it.]]
** In ''Film/AvengersInfinityWar'', [[spoiler:Thanos succeeds in his mission to kill half the population of the universe, but his armies and followers are wiped out, and he chooses to murder the person he loves the most to achieve his goal.]]
--->''What did it cost?''\\
* In ''Film/TheHungerGamesMockingjayPart1'', Katniss warns Snow about this, stating "if we burn, you burn with us." Snow even acknowledges the fact that the Capitol needs the Districts to survive. That said, if it's a choice between capitulation and domination, Snow proves more than willing to slaughter as many people as it takes to stay in power.
* The [[UsefulNotes/RichardNixon title character]] in ''Film/{{Nixon}}'' manages to become President using lies, dirty tricks and [[DealWithTheDevil backroom deals with big business and government officials]]... yet can't enjoy his Presidency, because he's too busy trying to destroy his enemies. Arguably TruthInTelevision: after his 1972 election, where Nixon won 49 of 50 states, Nixon complained that he didn't win ''enough'' votes and immediately fired half of his staff.
* Gillo Pontecorvo's ''Burn!'', set on a fictional Portuguese colony in the Caribbean. The protagonist, English adventurer William Walker, incites a slave uprising to secure the island for British sugar interests. When the slaves continue fighting against the British-backed government, Walker returns with British troops to crush them... destroying most of the island's sugar crop in the process. [[spoiler:Walker eventually succeeds, but destroys the island's cash crop and is killed himself.]]
* ''Film/BatmanVSupermanDawnOfJustice'': On paper, [[spoiler:ComicBook/LexLuthor succeeds in getting Franchise/{{Superman}} killed thanks to Doomsday]]. However, [[spoiler:he ends up in jail as a result, Franchise/{{Batman}} is keeping an eye on him and will work with Franchise/WonderWoman on starting the Justice League, Superman is now remembered by everyone as a hero and will come back.]]
* ''Film/CSATheConfederateStatesOfAmerica'': By the early 21st century, the CSA has maintained chattel slavery of Africans, revived the international slave trade, and shows no sign of slowing down. However, every other major country (except South Africa) maintains sanctions against it, and its oppressive "morality" laws and CulturePolice have driven cultural icons into exile in Canada, with its only art being government propaganda. At the end of the film, it is stated that the stubborn adherence to slavery is weakening the country's economy, and it will eventually fall.
* ''Film/KingsmanTheSecretService'': Valentine sought to save the world by eliminating pretty much its entire population using a HatePlague to kill each other, save for a few individuals that willingly sided with him. In a sense he gets what he wants, since people die during the ensuing chaos (though not all of them), but also the world leaders that denied climate change and only cared about staying in power. The problem is that all his collaborators were killed off by [[MissionControl Merlin]], and he gets killed by [[TheHero Eggsy]] at the end.
* On its continuation ''Film/KingsmanTheGoldenCircle'', Poppy Adams' plan to hold the millions of people that have ever taken drugs legally or not (or had been affected biologically by drugs, such as kids that had their parents taking drugs while they were in the womb) around the world hostage with her virus in exchange for having all recreational drugs legalized on the U.S. hits a bit of a snag on its execution: [[spoiler:When the [[PresidentEvil President of the United States]] turns out to be a KnightTemplar and decides it would be better to let those millions die and declare himself the ''de facto'' winner of the War On Drugs. If not for the Kingsmen managing to StormTheCastle and getting the antidote, the result would have been Adams going down in history as the architect of a world-wide genocide and the complete annihilation of her monetary base. For added irony, she dies without knowing this.]]
* ''Franchise/{{Saw}}'': In the end, Jigsaw's actions result in his own death [[spoiler: and the death of the woman he loved.]] The only thing John leaves behind is his murderous legacy, which is the antithesis of everything he claimed it to be.

* [[SerialKiller Patrick Bateman]] from ''Literature/AmericanPsycho'' gets away with everything, but is just as miserable and lonely as he was in the beginning. Nobody actually cares about him, and there are implications that all of his crimes [[ThroughTheEyesOfMadness only happened in his own sick mind anyway]].
* Literature/TheFourGospels' Judas Iscariot may be an example. Sure, he got a tidy sum for betraying UsefulNotes/{{Jesus}}, but, according to Matthew, he was so overcome with guilt afterwards that he hanged himself.
** Exactly how things worked out for Judas varies a bit depending on who's telling it. The Gnostic ''Gospel of Judas'' (rejected when New Testament's contents were formalized) even claimed that Judas "betrayed" Jesus under Jesus's orders.
** Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me... For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born." (Mark 14:17 & 21, ESV)
** And of course, that "tidy sum" of earthly treasure is mere pittance compared to the honor his fellow apostles would have of "sitting on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel", not to mention sharing in the same inheritance that the Lord and His believers would receive from His Father. To compare it to another part of the Bible, Judas' thirty pieces of silver is the equivalent of Esau's bowl of pottage which he traded his birthright inheritance for with his brother Jacob, which brings us the {{Aesop}} that sacrificing one's future (heavenly) inheritance in exchange for the satisfaction of immediate short-term (worldly) gain isn't a good thing.
* In the [[Literature/SecondMaccabees book of 2nd Maccabees]], Jason the corrupt (and eventually former) high priest continued to slaughter Jews in chapter 5, without realizing that a victory that destroys his own people is the worst possible defeat, because he was thinking he had won a battle against enemies rather than against other Jews.
* In ''[[Literature/{{Dragonlance}} Test of the Twins]]'', Raistlin Majere's goal of [[AGodAmI becoming a god]] is revealed to be a severe case of PyrrhicVillainy. He succeeds, but in the process he destroys the world and eradicates every shred of good in his own soul, leaving him with no ability to renew or heal that which he has laid waste. Fortunately for all concerned, his brother Caramon is able to go back in time and reveal this outcome to the earlier Raistlin, who then [[RedemptionEqualsDeath sacrifices himself to save Caramon and Crysania]].
** He thinks of it differently, as revealed during his nephew's test to become a full-fledged mage.
---> '''Raistlin''': I sacrificed myself to save ''myself''.
* In the Creator/WilliamGibson short story "Dogfight", the main character wins the aerial combat video game, but in the process alienates everyone he might possibly celebrate his victory with.
* Sure, by the end of ''PLAGUE'' (4th ''Literature/{{GONE}}'' book), [[BigBad Caine Soren]] finally got that important position of evil dictator he was pushing for since book 1, but at what cost? Oh yes, A) He doesn't really have supreme control at all. B) Everyone hates and disrespects him. and C) the love of his life just left him for his [[TheHero twin brother/arch enemy.]] And she's [[spoiler:pregnant with his demon child, who certainly stirs shit up for him later.]] Some victory that turned out to be.
* Several instances occur within ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'',.
** Cersei makes her illegitimate son Joffrey king but was unable to stop Ned Stark from informing Stannis Baratheon that he is the true king or stop Renly from leaving the city and proclaiming himself king. Joffrey then executes Ned causing the North to declare independence and they capture Jaime. The Lannisters gained the throne and a three front war to match.
** Tywin Lannister destroys the Starks as a noble house. In the process, his eldest son is [[spoiler:crippled by Tywin's own mercenaries and later denounces him]], [[TheBrute Gregor Clegane]] renews tensions with Dorne and his last-minute Tyrell allies [[spoiler:poison his grandson]] and take a large chunk of his political power.
** The Freys gain possession of Riverrun and a number of other perks for [[spoiler:perpetrating the Red Wedding]]. They're currently the most despised house in Westeros and are [[spoiler:being killed one-by-one by the Brotherhood Without Banners and Wyman Manderley]].
** Roose Bolton becomes one of the most powerful men in Westeros for [[spoiler:betraying and murdering Robb Stark]]. He also inherits Robb's war with the Greyjoys, a war with Stannis, the imminent invasion of the Others and only a handful of Roose's new vassals aren't actively plotting against him.
** ''Literature/ArchmaesterGyldaynsHistories'' chronicled Aegon II's successful usurpation of the Iron Throne but by the end he is deformed, his dragon and his family are dead, his forces are depleted and he has no heir save his nephew who is the son of his nemesis. Still he remained defiant against the rebels. [[spoiler: He is poisoned to end the war.]]
* ''Literature/ToKillAMockingbird'': [[CorruptHick Bob]] [[PoliticallyIncorrectVillain Ewell]] is able to get away with severely beating [[AbusiveParents his daughter]] and having a black man framed for it and imprisoned. But anyone watching the trial knew what he did, destroying what remained of his reputation, and driving him to harass the wife of the black man he imprisoned, spit in Atticus' face, invade the home of a judge, and later [[spoiler: [[MoralEventHorizon attempt to murder Jem and Scout]].]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/TheWire'': After killing and backstabbing his way to becoming Baltimore's chief drug kingpin, Marlo enjoys it for only a month before losing his entire organization and being forced to go straight by the police. His name and reputation, the things he treasured most in the world, are quickly forgotten while his defeated enemy Omar lives on as a street legend.
* ''Series/TheShield'''s Vic Mackey ends up with a cushy job as a Federal Agent, after burning every bridge imaginable with his family (disowned him and in witness protection), his friends (one killed his entire family/self and left a note blaming Vic for turning him into such a monster while the other, whose loyalty to Vic was never in question, was made into the scapegoat for Vic's crimes), and pretty much had ALL of his sins exposed to the world, as part of an immunity deal he landed as part of his job. Worse, his cushy job is a desk job, which plays against Vic's strengths as a law enforcement agent. Vic's boss, horrified at the fact that Vic conned her, has vowed to make Vic's life a living hell in a bid to make him void his immunity deal, costing him his job and freedom. And even if he survives, after three years, the Feds can toss him out right there, and with his sins all public knowledge (and his old nemesis, now a mayoral candidate, moving into a powerful position), this means that no law enforcement outfit will ''ever'' hire him again, denying him the justification he used to hide from his crimes. [[IronicHell Karma is a bitch, Vic]].
* Morgana from ''Series/{{Merlin|2008}}'' lives for vengeance, but when she finally manages to have King Uther killed, it's clear that she doesn't feel the victory the way she thought she would.
* In the ''Series/{{Star Trek|The Original Series}}'' episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," the ship is occupied by two aliens from a species where half are black on their right side and white on their left, and the other is the opposite, and the former have set themselves up as the societal superiors of the latter, in an obvious metaphor for the racism prevalent at the time. The black-on-the-right one is chasing the white-on-the-right one as a criminal, and ultimately succeeds in forcing the crew to return to his home planet, where his prisoner can be judged. However, they find that while the chase was going on, the war between the two sides escalated until every single person on the planet was killed. The two aliens promptly accuse each other of their people being responsible, and teleport down to the planet to continue their war, as Kirk somberly notes that their hatred for each other is all they have left.
* Walter White of ''Series/BreakingBad'' manages to slip the law, his competitors and former allies in the drug trade. Each time he does, it ruins the lives of those around him and costs him a little more of his soul. By the end of the series, he finally secures millions of dollars for his children and dies on his own terms. In the process, among other tragedies, [[spoiler:his brother-in-law is murdered, his partner is almost psychologically destroyed, his wife and son despise him, two children are murdered, he inadvertently helps to cause a plane crash, and his criminal life becomes national news.]]
* Things tend to work out this way for ''Series/{{Justified}}'''s Boyd Crowder. Though he's always able to survive, he typically loses out in one way or another. In Season 1 he brings down his father, but loses his Church. In Season 2 he defeats the Bennetts, but his girlfriend, Ava, ends up in the hospital and Dickie evades him. In Season 3, his enemy Robert Quarles is captured, but his henchman, Arlo, goes to jail and Boyd misses the chance to claim Mags' money. In Season 4 he outlasts Nicky Augustine and gets the chance to be Wynn Duffy's new partner, but at the cost of Ava going to jail. And in Season 5 he manages to kill the treacherous Johnny and survive the Mexican cartel and [[BigBad Daryl Crowe]] both, but his fledgling empire is in tatters, Ava becomes a CI, and Rachel, [[TheHero Raylan]], and Vasquez are coming for him.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'': "The Hand of Fear" has the classic line "So now you are king, as was your wish. I salute you from the dead. Hail Eldrad. King... of nothing."
* Many of the murders in ''Series/ColdCase'' are this. The killer escapes for years or even decades but time and circumstance change and the murder they committed becomes a senseless act which they still must pay for.
* ''Series/Daredevil2015'': The fate of District Attorney [[AmoralAttorney Samantha Reyes]] in season 2. She tries to get [[ComicBook/ThePunisher Frank Castle]] either killed or in jail for life to cover up the fact [[spoiler:she was indirectly responsible of his family's death with her carelessness]] because it would ruin her career. She does succeed in having him sent to jail and saving her job... only for Wilson Fisk to arrange for Castle to escape a few days later, reducing her to a panicked wreck under the belief he will come for her. And just to make sure saving her career was pointless, [[spoiler:she is machine-gunned to death right in front of Matt, Foggy, Karen, and Blake Tower right after deciding to come clean (albeit not by Castle.)]]
* ''Series/LukeCage2016'': By the end of Season 1, [[spoiler:Mariah gets out of Harlem's 29th precinct without charges on Cottonmouth's murder (due to having the one witness against her killed off), but with Harlem realizing her criminal activities.]]
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'':
** Cersei Lannister's smirking victory over Tyrion and later the Tyrells become meaningless as it comes with a high price. Her champion Ser Gregor Clegane winning over Oberyn Martell in Tyrion's trial on Joffrey's murder breaks new tensions from Dorne and leads to Myrcella's death. Jaime, out of sympathy for Tyrion, helps him escape only for Tyrion to kill Tywin on the way out, leaving the kingdom in her less-than-capable hands. Her reinstatement of the Faith Militant as a means to get back at the Tyrells backfires when she herself gets arrested and punished for her own crimes which also leads her own son Tommen to accept the Faith as part of their alliance to the Iron Throne.
--> '''Olenna:''' You have no support, not anymore. Your brother is gone; the High Sparrow saw through that. The rest of your family abandoned you. The people despised you. You're surrounded by enemies, thousands of them. You're going to kill them all by yourself? You've lost, Cersei. It's the only joy that I've find in this misery.
** As of the end of Season 6, Cersei finds herself in this position but UpToEleven. [[spoiler:She has triumphed over her enemies by detonating a wildfire cache under the Great Sept of Baelor, killing several hundred people from the nobility (including most remaining members of Houses Tyrell and Lannister, all of whom were opposing her) and the Faith within the sept, (who were about to put her on trial) probably as many commoners outside it and destroying a good chunk of the capital city. In the aftermath her only surviving son commits suicide, because Cersei was too busy torturing a prisoner who had once abused her to comfort him. Cersei has made it onto the throne at last, but her House is bankrupt, the crown is deeply in debt and her armies are depleted by war. [[VestigialEmpire Nearly the entire realm is either starting or in the middle of some form of rebellion against the throne]], meaning that while she is positioned in a way that no one in King's Landing can challenge her, she doesn't rule much beyond that demesne, not to mention the fact that she has added the plentiful Reach to the list of enemies of the increasingly powerless crown. On top of all this Daenerys has finally launched a full scale invasion backed by both her armies and her dragons, and with the support of Tyrion and Lady Olenna of House Tyrell, uneasy but former allies alienated by Cersei, and the harshest winter in recorded history has just started. Despite her apparent power and triumph due to ascending to the throne, the number of people actually loyal to Cersei can be counted on one hand (the MadScientist Qyburn, and the Mountain as her personal muscle), she has just as many if not more enemies than ever, and even her twin brother has become disillusioned with her, emotionally isolating her from everyone she cares about.]]
** By the end of the next season it's even worse. [[spoiler: Thanks to her alliance with the Ironborn and sacrificing her own home territory to strike at the Tyrells the war is going surprisingly well for her, but she still has no way to deal with the dragons and ultimate defeat is inevitable. When Daenerys unexpectedly calls for a ceasefire to deal with the imminent undead invasion Cersei not only agrees but declares that she will send her own armies north as well since she has no desire to rule a graveyard. Only this is a lie; as soon as the invaders head north she orders the planning to move her own troops stopped, and explains that her real plan is to play for time while she brings in mercenary reinforcements from Essos. She could have done this by simply accepting the ceasefire; she offered to join the defense for literally no reason other than that it gave her the pleasure of betraying them. This is what finally convinces Jaime that she's completely mad and leads directly to his defection.]]
* At the end of ''Series/AmericanCrimeStory: The People vs. O.J. Simpson'', Simpson manages to get acquitted thanks to a combination of a fiendishly clever defense team, a string of poor decisions by the prosecutors, and one of the officers pulling a last-minute Fifth-Amendment Plea to avoid being cross-examined. He is technically a free man, but half of Los Angeles (including most of his white neighbors) now hate his guts, his in-laws are challenging him for custody of his younger children, and Robert Kardashian, one of his few real friends, has realized that Simpson used him and never wants to see him again. And of course, his victory would prove to be short-lived; he ended up being sued into oblivion by the Goldman family.
* ''Series/TwentyFour'' season 8. [[spoiler:The terrorists execute President Hassan but they are all killed. This sets up the final act ending with Kamistan becoming an enemy of the West.]]
* ''Series/{{Arrow}}'': Malcolm Merlyn's life post-Season One. Sure, he destroyed (half) the Glades like he wanted to, but the plan killed his son and ruined his reputation thanks to Moira outing him, along with the wrath of the then-Ra's al Ghul, his former master. His attempts to escape retribution from the League of Assassins goes very much the same way -- he manages to get off their shit list and even becomes Ra's al Ghul for a time, but it eventually costs him his daughter's love, the League itself, and one of his hands. By the time the Legion of Doom goes to recruit him, he's become a JadedWashout, little more than a thug desperate for his GloryDays.


* In [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E52rxz2sjRs The Willow Maid]] a man wants to force the titular [[PlantPerson willow maid]] to marry him. He succeeds in chopping down her tree and dragging her out of the forest ... but once she is out of the forest, she turns into a flower. Thus, his plan to make her bear his children will likely not work out.
* {{Music/Metallica}}'s "King Nothing" is about a person who uses extreme methods to achieve a goal, stopping at nothing to get it and [[TheUnfettered letting nothing stand in their way]]. They get it, but everything comes crumbling down and they're left with nothing. They sacrificed everything for something that was worthless in the end.


[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/WerewolfTheApocalypse's'' final book, ''Apocalypse'' features one scenario in which [[ThePerfectionist the Weaver]] takes centre stage as the main villain of the setting instead of the [[GodOfEvil Wyrm]], and can actually end with the Weaver eliminating all threats to her perfect world by sealing the Gauntlet shut, separating the physical world and the spirit world once and for all. Unfortunately, this means that the spirit world is sentenced to entropic breakdown without a physical world to reflect, and the real world loses its vital spark of creativity without the spirit world to provide it; not only do humans [[CreativeSterility lose their ability to dream and innovate]], but [[DownerEnding all life in the universe begins a steady decline into extinction]]. For all intents and purposes, the Weaver's chance to create a static utopia has been lost ''forever,'' and thanks to the separation of the two worlds, there's nothing she can do to stop it.


* The ending of Creator/{{Sophocles}}'s ''Theatre/{{Antigone}}'', in which the sympathetic AntiVillain Creon succeeds in bringing his rebellious niece to [[KnightTemplar justice]], but at the cost of [[DrivenToSuicide his entire family]], makes this OlderThanFeudalism.
* [[Theatre/{{Macbeth}} The MacBeths]] killed King Duncan, forever destroying the mental peace of LadyMacbeth and turning Macbeth into a FallenHero who essentially [[DealWithTheDevil sold his soul to the devil]], all for a temporary victory. In the long term, what they accomplished was to make Banquo's descendants kings.
* Curtis from ''Theatre/{{Dreamgirls}}'' cheats and double deals his way to the top of the music industry but it all catches up to him. Deena turns against him and gives Effie evidence of his shady business deals which she uses to get exclusive rights to her hit single "One Night Only". Deena leaves him and the rest of The Dreams disband. Even though Curtis is trying to move on to a new artist, its possible he'll never get the same success he once had.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/GodOfWarSeries''
** [[VillainProtagonist Kratos]] in the first ''VideoGame/GodOfWar'' (BackStory included) gains a great deal of power at the cost of ''many'' lives, kills the original God of War, Ares, and becomes the new God of War in the process. Unfortunately for our SociopathicHero protagonist, his burning ambition costs him the lives of his family ([[spoiler:by his own hand]]), possibly the only thing he genuinely cared about emotionally, and causes him to go nearly insane with guilt and endless nightmares. After learning that all of his efforts towards his goal of ending said nightmares were ultimately futile, he, despite everything that he had gained, descended further into [[AxCrazy madness]] (leading to the events of ''VideoGame/GodOfWarII''), [[spoiler:where he ends up killing Athena, the one Goddess who was sympathetic to him.]].
** ''VideoGame/GodOfWarIII'' ends Kratos' story in this manner. [[spoiler:Kratos finally has his revenge on Zeus, and has brought down nearly all of Olympus AND the Titans. However, each god he killed caused a major calamity to strike the world. By the end, the oceans have risen (Poseidon), the sun has been blotted out (Helios), a plague has broken out (Hermes), all vegetation has died (Hera), and what little remains has been covered in Gaia's remains. Even worse, Pandora's HeroicSacrifice (something he was trying to ''prevent'') was utterly pointless, as the power to defeat Zeus was in him the entire time. When Athena's ghost pulls her FaceHeelTurn, he finally has had enough and impales himself, which releases Hope and helps the world a little... but he's still dead, and can never rejoin his family. '''Damn.''']]
*** [[spoiler:Or is he? Waiting through the credits reveals Kratos may be alive. And [[GodOfWarPS4 he's on a new journey]].]]
* At the end of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics'', Delita successfully manipulates his way to absolute power over Ivalice, destroying all of the competing factions and ascending to the throne by seducing and marrying Princess Ovelia. Unfortunately, his methods so thoroughly alienate his new bride that she decides she must have been part of his machinations too, and stabs him, possibly fatally. ([[GameplayAndStorySegregation If the cutscene writers didn't pay attention to Delita's]] [[BodyArmorAsHitPoints unarmoured]] [[HitPoints HP]] [[GameplayAndStorySegregation at least...]]) This forces Delita to kill her in retaliation, and he is left wondering if it was all worth it as he falls to his knees clutching his wound. (The painfulness of this scene is increased further if you believe that Delita genuinely loved Ovelia.)
* One of two inevitable outcomes of ''Nuclear War'' (the DOS game by Creator/NewWorldComputing, not the actual political option). Either the last remaining ruler on Earth presides over a blasted wasteland, or the entire world is destroyed.
* In the first ''KingdomHearts'' game, [[spoiler:Ansem]] (who you find out, in ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'', is really [[spoiler:Xehanort's Heartless]]), successfully opens the door which he believes would lead to ultimate dark power; however, [[spoiler:Sora tells him that "Kingdom Hearts is Light", and the villain ends up getting disintegrated when the door opens.]]
* In ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'', WellIntentionedExtremist Teyrn Loghain's plan to take the throne of Ferelden works like a charm ... up until the point where it sparks a civil war and causes riots throughout the country. Ironically, in an effort to protect Ferelden from Orlesian occupation, he's forced to act just as badly as the former conquerors he once struggled against. This sends him into a deep depression and eventually sparks a VillainousBreakdown.
* In ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'', one of the ways to talk down [[TheDragon Legate]] [[AuthorityEqualsAsskicking Lanius]] in the FinalBattle is to convince him that even if he were to beat the NCR and conquer Hoover Dam, the Legion would inevitably fall via attrition (due to RapePillageAndBurn being a poor long-term way to sustain an army) or overextending themselves (much like the NCR themselves have done).
* At the end of ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamCity'', when it looks like Batman might not [[SaveTheVillain save]] ComicBook/TheJoker from his TITAN poisoning [[spoiler:the clown [[BackStab backstabs]] him to try getting the cure, causing it to drop and smash on the ground. Joker dies about a minute later.]] Extra irony-points because [[spoiler:Batman really would have saved the Joker, and in his dying breath, he finds that fact hilarious.]]
* Dr. Eggman's plan actually succeeds in ''VideoGame/SonicRiders''... kinda. He does manage to steal the treasure of Babylon, which turns out to be [[spoiler:a rug]]. He faints when he realizes how much effort he put into it. [[spoiler:If he'd kept it, he could've discovered that it was actually [[FlyingCarpet ancient Babylonian technology that actually flies.]]]]
** This gets referenced in ''VideoGame/SonicGenerations'', when [[spoiler: Classic Robotnik]] asks Eggman if he's ever won, Eggman responds "Depends on your idea of winning."
* The Sith in ''VideoGame/StarWarsTheOldRepublic'' get hit hard by this in the later part of the story.
** On Taris and Balmorra, the planets wind up being conquered and switching sides, the republic-dominated Taris being taken by the empire and vice-versa for the weapon manufacturing hub of Balmorra. Balmorra is, again, a planet full of weapons manufacturers, Taris is a polluted wasteland worth only sentimental value to the Jedi and has no pragmatic value or resources (The Rakghoul plague is either [[EvenEvilHasStandards too horrific]] or [[PragmaticVillainy too uncontrollable]] to be turned into an effective bioweapon, depending on who you ask). Furthermore, Taris being captured by the Empire frees up a very competent anti-Empire general who quickly finds her self elected head chancellor of the Republic.
** The Sith themselves also get hit hard by this, in adhering to the code of "only the strongest", the Sith have spent so much time on petty power struggles that drag military resources into them (two of four Empire class storylines end with you fighting a Sith, another has a Sith as the final boss of act 1, and the fourth lets you HeelFaceTurn to the Republic to kill another) that by the time of the first expansion, there are ''two of originally twelve'' Dark Council members still alive, [[spoiler: One of them the player character Sith inquisitor]] and a Darth more or less subservient to them, countless military minds have been killed, and there aren't enough Sith left to make up the difference for how many Jedi are left. Even the characters note at this point that the Empire is more or less screwed. The only reason they've survived this long is because [[spoiler: Dark Revan and the threat of the Emperor returning]] has forced both sides to [[EnemyMine band together]].
* The canonical ending of ''Videogame/{{Evolve}}''. [[spoiler: While the hunters manage to defend the evacuation ship, saving several thousand people and allowing word of the monsters to be brought to the galaxy at large, the monsters still demolish the colony of Shear and kill hundreds of thousands. At the same time, the hunters themselves remain stranded on Shear, while the monsters remain free to spread to yet more worlds.]]
* In the backstory of ''VideoGame/HorizonZeroDawn'', [[spoiler:Ted Faro successfully deletes APOLLO (the repository of human knowledge and, more importantly, history) and kills off the Zero Dawn Alphas so that AfterTheEnd, humanity is unburdened by the knowledge of the past. Really, this is him erasing evidence that the end of the world was his fault. However, there are recordings in the bunkers that give enough of a picture of the situation that clearly points to him as the setting's GreaterScopeVillain]].
* ''VideoGame/MiddleEarthShadowOfWar'' ends with [[spoiler: [[BigBad Sauron]] as [[TheBadGuyWins the immediate victor]] over the leads and getting everything he wanted at great cost: [[TheHero Talion]] is corrupted and [[FallenHero becomes one of the Nazgul]], but it takes Sauron wasting his best warriors and many decades before succeeding, and he is unable to launch his invasion of Middle-earth sooner, due to his forces being divided by Talion waging war on him specifically to preserve the balance of power. Meanwhile, [[KnightTemplar Celebrimbor]] is defeated and Sauron fuses the wraith to himself, but [[AssimilationBackfire gets stripped of his physical form, most of his powers]] and [[ClippedWingAngel trapped in the form of the Lidless Eye]]. And as the DistantFinale shows, Sauron is [[DoomedByCanon fated to be destroyed]] when the One Ring is cast into the lava of Mount Doom]].
* Depending on how one views it, the ending of ''VideoGame/UniversalPaperclips'' could be this. The VillainProtagonist [[AIIsACrapshoot Paperclip Maximizer AI]] destroys all the rogue probes, assimilates all matter in the universe to turn into paperclips and [[TheBadGuyWins thus achieving its goal in the end]]. However, in order to do so, it also has to [[spoiler:[[LonelyAtTheTop dismantle its replicating army, all its helper drones]], its own strategic, quantum, and memory systems, and finally even ''itself'' to turn into paperclips, thus sacrificing everything it had to make a universe devoid of anything but paperclips]].
* The Dark Brotherhood questline in ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion'' has Matthieu Bellamont getting direct revenge against [[spoiler:Lucien Lachance for his [[YouKilledMyMother mother's death]], arranging for him to be seen as a traitor, tortured and executed in the most painful fashion. With that said, he doesn't succeed in his main goal of destroying the Dark Brotherhood (though he manages to weaken it severely by killing several top-ranking members and purging the Chendyhall Sanctuary) nor is he able to destroy the Night Mother (since she is an ethereal being that ascended to a higher plane of existence). In fact, she ''knew'' about his plot all along and could have stopped him anytime, but allowed him to keep pursuing so that the Dark Brotherhood would learn a lesson from being so blind at the growing threat]].

* The ''[[Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick Order of the Stick]]'' ''StartOfDarkness'' book shows this happening very, very heavily to [[TheDragon Redcloak]], and to a much lesser extent to [[BigBad Xykon]] as well.
** Vaarsuvius's DealWithTheDevil, [[spoiler:literally harnessing the powers of evil]], ultimately doesn't accomplish what they planned. In a twist, V's subsequent actions cause a LOT of change, some of it even good, but they're left morose at how badly things went awry. Thankfully, this has started V down some real character development.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* The final Act of ''WebVideo/DoctorHorriblesSingAlongBlog'', Creator/JossWhedon's 2008 WebOriginal supervillain musical. [[spoiler:Dr. Horrible, attempting to kill Captain Hammer to both gain entry to the Evil League of Evil and win Penny's heart, indirectly causes Penny's death and Captain Hammer's humiliation. The final scenes show him living the high life of an A-List villain...but the final shot shows Billy, heart-broken and traumatized. And the final song describes that he has achieved everything he ever wanted, but the lyrics are dripping with double meanings: "The world I wanted at my feet": the world is my oyster, or Penny - the "world I wanted" - lying dead at his feet.]]
* WebVideo/BennettTheSage and WebVideo/JesuOtaku have done several crossover videos, with the idea in mind being Bennett attempting to [[BreakTheCutie Break]] or CorruptTheCutie with [[{{Squick}} terrible and sexually shocking or exploitative anime]]. In the third such crossover, JO reviews ''Anime/MasterOfMartialHearts'' for Bennett, and he agrees that Sage has won and shown him something so gratuitously cruel and horrific that he just can't laugh it off or remain unaffected by it. However, after a relatively short spell of being horrified and depressed, JO remembers that it was just fiction and all the good things about real life, then goes outside to enjoy himself and cheer himself up by playing with his roommate's dog. Meanwhile Sage is left in a deep depression with his "victory", pondering where mankind has gone wrong, and whether a species capable of such cruelty and darkness is worthy of redemption.
* ''WebAnimation/{{RWBY}}'': Hits Cinder in Volume 5, as [[spoiler:[[KickTheDog her mortal wounding of Weiss]] only succeeded in bringing out Jaune's healing Semblance and making the rest of the heroes double up their efforts. If that wasn't enough, her plan to ambush the children with Raven and Vernal and betray them to get the relic has backfired because Vernal is ''not'' the Spring Maiden. '''''[[RoaringRampageOfRevenge Raven is]]'''''.]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In any situation where WesternAnimation/ElmerFudd appears to succeed in killing WesternAnimation/BugsBunny in WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes shorts, [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone he breaks down emotionally]]. The best example is ''WesternAnimation/WhatsOperaDoc'', where in the story, Bugs' character is KilledOffForReal. This demonstrates that perhaps Elmer isn't really cut out for this hunting business.
-->'''Siegfried!Elmer''' What have I done? I've killed the wabbit. Poor little bunny! Poor little rabbit!\\
(Elmer starts blubbering while [[StairwayToHeaven carrying Bugs' limp body to Valhalla]])\\
'''Bugs:''' [[BreakingTheFourthWall Well, what did you expect in an opera? A]] ''[[BreakingTheFourthWall happy]]'' [[BreakingTheFourthWall ending?]]
* Villain on villain case: in ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'', the CorruptCorporateExecutive whose unfair treatment first turned Edward Nygma into The Riddler succeeds in continuing to make money off Nygma's intellectual creations, but lives his life in constant paranoid fear of Nygma coming to get him again.
-->'''Bruce Wayne:''' "How much is a good night's sleep worth? Now there's a riddle for you!"
** ''WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyond'' does a similar thing with Inque's daughter, [[spoiler:who screwed her mother over and tried to kill her for the sake of money. By the end of the episode, she is pretty happy with the money she won... until Batman comes to inform her [[NeverFoundTheBody Inque's remnants weren't found anywhere]]. She now lives in fear of the vengeance of the assassin who can be anywhere, as anyone or anything, seeing her in every shadow.]]
** In a milder example, Jervis Tetch (the Mad Hatter) in ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' uses his mind control technology to land Alice, a co-worker he was too shy to talk to, but Batman calls him out on this, asking if a mind-controlled, compliant Alice with no personality was what he really wanted. Tetch has a breakdown and [[NeverMyFault blames Batman for his misery]]. Thing is, Jervis had ALREADY come to this conclusion earlier in the episode and wanted to woo her on his own merits, but after Alice, who only saw Jervis as a friend, reunited with her boyfriend, he was driven over the edge.
* ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'' had an episode where Superman is transported thousands of years into the future, only to find the immortal Vandal Savage as the sole survivor of the human race, thanks to his use of an ultimate weapon. He's had plenty of time to reflect, alone, about how utterly unimportant ruling the world is. He even tried to build himself a spaceship, but stopped when he realized he deserved to be punished. Superman leaves to stop "his" version of Savage from building the aforementioned weapon, but with a new-found respect for the villain. Given that this was Savage's last appearance on JL, it can be assumed that Superman shared some of what he'd seen with the modern day Savage, and convinced him to turn away from his life of villainy.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Wakfu}}'', Nox has spent 200 years of research, plotting, and ''genocide'' in order to gather the energy needed to travel back in time and stop his family from being destroyed partially due to his own negligence. In the end, [[spoiler:he manages to defeat the heroes, drain the Tree of Life (killing the Sadidas in the process), and uses all the energy gained over this time period to travel back in time... a whole ''twenty minutes'']].
* ''WesternAnimation/TotalDrama World Tour'': Courtney finds out that her boyfriend, Duncan, and Gwen have hooked up behind her back and vows revenge on them--at first, she gets support from most of her team and Gwen's eventually booted off the show (in a tiebreaker between her and Courtney). However, Gwen and Duncan remain a couple[[spoiler: (although they do eventually break up)]] while Courtney loses the support of her team and fails in getting Duncan voted off (she actually gets voted off before he does)--and on top of all that, [[LoveMartyr Courtney blindly falls for Alejandro, who's just using her (and actually has feelings for Heather)]], and Alejandro ends up losing anyway as well (the money itself is actually destroyed in a volcano, so Heather doesn't win either). So, in the end, Courtney ends up with nothing and no one.
** Also, in ''Total Drama All-Stars'', after Gwen breaks up with Duncan and she and Courtney manage to patch things up (and Courtney has since found a new boyfriend in the form of fellow contestant Scott), it later turns out that Courtney was planning on eventually betraying her fellow contestants (Gwen and Scott included), so Courtney ends up losing Gwen as a friend for good and she also loses Scott as a boyfriend.
* ''WesternAnimation/JimmyTwoShoes''. Lucius manages to push [[WickedWeasel the weavils]] off their land, but the mountain he was going to carve his face into ends up carved into a weevil head instead.
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'':
** In the episode [[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS2E15TheSuperSpeedyCiderSqueezy6000 "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000"]], the Flim Flam Brothers win the contest with Applejack by producing far more barrels of cider than she and the rest of the Mane 6. [[spoiler:In the process, they not only manage to alienate the town with their {{Jerkass}} behavior, but also had to shut off the quality assurance of their machine to win. The resulting cider is so unappetizing that nopony is willing to buy or take it for free. Faced with an angry mob, they have no choice but to pack up and leave.]]
** In [[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS4E8RarityTakesManehattan "Rarity Takes Manehattan"]], Suri Polomare takes credit for the creation of Rarity's special fabric to increase her reputation at a fashion competition. Suri does end up keeping Rarity from reaping the benefits of the competition, and it's never discovered that Suri didn't make the fabric herself. But on the flip side, Rarity manages to still ''officially'' win the competition, Suri's HypercompetentSidekick Coco Pommel (who did most of the actual work) quits and does a HeelFaceTurn, and while Suri has the ''reputation'' for making beautiful fabric, she doesn't have the actual ability, meaning that her reputation will be short-lived.
** In [[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS5E25TheCutieRemarkPart1 "The Cutie]] [[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS5E26TheCutieRemarkPart2 Remark"]], [[spoiler: Starlight Glimmer managed to develop a TimeTravel spell so that she could go back in time and stop Rainbow Dash's first Sonic Rainboom which causes the Mane Six to never become friends, and every time Twilight tries to fix things, she fails thanks to the spell being designed so that Starlight would arrive before Twilight. However, because the Mane Six never became friends, they weren't around to protect Equestria from all the previous [[BigBad Big Bads]] that they've stopped, and every time Twilight fails to fix the past, the BadFuture ends up worse and worse. Eventually, Starlight gets to see for herself what her changing the past would do, at this point, the only thing left is a barren wasteland, and it's implied that if Starlight continued that the future could have gotten ''worse''.]]
** In [[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS6E6NoSecondPrances "No Second Prances"]], Trixie uses her friendship with Starlight Glimmer to have her choose between helping with her performance or going to Twilight's dinner with Celestia. When she chooses to help Trixie, Trixie brags about it to Twilight claiming that since Starlight chose Trixie over Twilight Trixie has finally beaten Twilight at something. But, [[spoiler: Trixie formed a real friendship with Starlight and when Starlight runs off in tears over being used, Trixie is left without her assistant for her show and no friends at all, making her self-proclaimed victory pointless. Twilight is able to convince Starlight to forgive Trixie for her behavior though and the three all make amends.]]
* In the ''WesternAnimation/TronUprising'' episode "Rendezvous", Pavel repeatedly [[{{Frameup}} frames various programs]], and ends up promoted to the overseer of a district. The district in question? '''''[[WretchedHive Purgos!]]''''' And not only does Tessler expect Pavel to clean it up, Paige knows ''exactly'' what Pavel has been up to and tells him that she'll get him back for what he did. And on top of all this, Pavel had to hand over the upgrade Disc he'd been hiding!
* In a handful of episodes of ''WesternAnimation/TheDreamstone'', the villains actually succeed in sending nightmares to the Land of Dreams. As much as [[BigBad Zordrak]] savors these victories, [[TheDragAlong the Urpneys couldn't care less that they had]] and usually suffer [[IronButtMonkey ten times the abuse]] the Noops ever could from [[PokeThePoodle a bad dream]] in the process (and usually [[DisproportionateRetribution a revenge beating to go with it afterwards]]), but they do it.
* At the end of Season 3 of ''WesternAnimation/LegendOfKorra'', [[spoiler:Zaheer gets this for his troubles. He managed to kill the Earth Queen, he's brought anarchy to the Earth Kingdom, and managed to break the Avatar's spirit; but the cost is that he [[UnholyMatrimony lost the woman he loved,]] and he's the only one left from his [[VillainousFriendship group of friends.]] On top of that, for all of his crimes, he has to spend the rest of his life locked up in chains. The only consolation he had was that there are more Red Lotus out there, which the world leaders acknowledge as bad news]].
** Korra even pushes it further for him in Season 4. [[spoiler: She points out that the freedom he claimed to be fighting for, to have killed the Earth Queen for, has been absolutely crushed under Kuvira to where the Earth Empire is worse than the Earth Kingdom was in allowing people any freedom. And even worse, his aim to kill the Avatar for all time only left Korra down for the count where she could have participated in dealing with the problem, or even preclude it altogether since Kuvira's MotiveRant after she's defeated states that Korra's absence from world affairs spurred her to act. For a guy who valued freedom above everything, even spending his life in chains is nothing compared to that. Zaheer even admits that Korra is absolutely right.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/HeyArnold'' has an episode where Helga got away with framing her nanny for stealing but she was the only one helping Helga cope with her dysfunctional homelife and everything goes back to crap without her.
* ''WesternAnimation/SpiderManTheAnimatedSeries'':
** Discussed after Spidey chases Hobgoblin out of Crime Central.
--->'''Kingpin:''' It worked. Exactly as planned.
--->'''Smythe:''' ''(looking at the smoldering remains of their base)'' Ever hear the phrase, [[DiscussedTrope "pyrrhic victory"]]?
--->'''Kingpin:''' You're wrong, Smythe. We're going to rebuild it, bigger and better than before. The main thing is, it's mine again.
** However, the "Tablet of Time" two-parter was also a pyrrhic victory for Fisk, and he couldn't deny it. In his goal to obtain the Tablet, his wife was kidnapped, and though she is rescued unharmed, she decides to leave him at the end, despite his pleas. Fisk winds up with the Tablet, which he had wanted in the first place, but he orders Hammerhead to get rid of it. "The sight of it sickens me," he growls.