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->''"In the end, there can be only one."''
-->-- ''The ArcWords of Franchise/{{Highlander}}''

The long-term plot of the program revolves around a group of characters whose numbers are being slowly whittled away by one means or another, usually by killing each other. In the case of some [[RealityShow reality shows]], this is a process of elimination intended to result in a single winner. In other shows, this is a dramatic device, designed to generate tension and conflict with which to drive the overall plot of an episode or StoryArc (if any); in these cases it is sometimes combined with AnyoneCanDie to especially heighten the resulting excitement, even when the apparent main character may be protected by ContractualImmortality. Compare GottaKillThemAll.

Does not apply to pure [[GameShow game shows]], as they have no overall storylines for the elimination to serve. Compare DwindlingParty, where it's less a competitive elimination and more a bloody murder spree.

Named for one of the [[CatchPhrase catchphrases]] that came out of the ''Franchise/{{Highlander}}'' franchise.


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Anime/MaiHime'' starting around its sixteenth episode (this arc was nicknamed "[=HiMElander=]" by fans, as a reference to ''Franchise/{{Highlander}}'').
* ''Manga/RozenMaiden'' has as a central plot element an informal tournament-of-sorts cheerfully called 'the Alice Game' wherein the magical doll characters have to compete for the Pinocchean prize of becoming the perfect girl -- by slaying all their sisters.
* The central plot of ''Manga/ZatchBell'' is that there are 100 demon children sent to the earth, with the remaining one being able to reign as king for 1000 years.
* ''Manga/{{Sekirei}}'' combines this trope with the HaremGenre, with human masters known as Ashikabi forming bonds with HumanAliens. There are OneHundredAndEight of them, and powerful Ashikabi are capable of forming bonds with multiple Sekirei, building a formidable BattleHarem that improves their chances of victory. This, however, is a cruel twist since it turns out the rule remains strictly ''one'' surviving Sekirei regardless of how many an Ashikabi has. Miya even calls out Matsu on encouraging harem-building, pointing out the cruelty of encouraging people to bond and fall in love, when all but one will have to die in the end. Ultimately, [[spoiler: Musubi decides to TakeAThirdOption through absorbing the souls of her comrades, allowing her to borrow their powers for the final battle. Afterwards, she uses her wish to restart ''all'' the Sekirei so that everyone can have a happy ending]].
* ''Manga/{{Bokurano}}''. And it's twisted as hell too. [[spoiler:Basically, we need to thin the alternate universes down to just one. So, let's have kids fight in gruesome giant mechs! Win, YOU DIE. Lose? EVERYONE IN YOUR UNIVERSE DIES. Look up "no win situation" in the book, you'll see this. Needless to say, this utterly screws with the child pilots' minds.]]
* ''LightNovel/{{Baccano}}'': While not explicitly stated in this is originally Szilard's and Czes's goal regarding their fellow immortals. The former was addicted to [[ForScience science]] and spinal fluid. The latter was a DoUntoOthersBeforeTheyDoUntoUs sort of guy. The rest have gone into hiding and become extremely paranoid of other immortals because of it. in the anime. In the novels, Maiza refuses to tell anyone else the formula for immortality due to an epiphany he had while imbuing his brother with the knowledge that the demon's rules encourage a "There can be only one" situation due to the paranoia of being devoured by their fellow immortals. Excluding the 1930's generation, he was mostly correct. Without exception, all 3 known times that [[spoiler: Ronnie]] has granted others immortality, one has always gone crazy and attempted to devour the rest (only the 2nd (the 1300's immortals) and 3rd times (the 1700's immortals) have been detailed, the first was only mentioned in passing in the novels when he lamented at how quickly they always turned. [[note]] (In the Novel Szilard's goal is only to allow people who worship him unconditionally as a god to be immortal and create an eternal kingdom that fawns over his every desire (he was regretful that he devoured Barnes since Barnes was the exact sort of fanatic that he WANTED to exist, and had let his anger over losing the formula yet again get the better of him) [[/note]]
* ''Manga/{{X1999}}'' does this with two groups of seven fighters, the Dragons of Heaven and the Dragons of Earth. The Dragons of Heaven fight to preserve the world, but if the Dragons of Heaven are all defeated by the Dragons of Earth, then the [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt world will end]].
** That is "end" in terms of "as we know it." The world will continue, but mankind will be wiped out. Or that is what some of the Dragons of Earth seem to think will happen. This is a rare series in that none of the villains are out ForTheEvulz or, mostly, ForTheLulz. Some are closer to that the former, though. At the end of the day, there's no character incapable of being seen as an EnsembleDarkHorse.
* Basic premise of ''Manga/FutureDiary'': God rounds up twelve not entirely well-adjusted individuals, gives them all limited precognition, and commands them all to fight to the death so that the last one standing can become the new God.
* ''Manga/TheLawOfUeki'' is based on this trope. Middle School Students are picked by God Canidates to fight against each other, and the last one standing gets a special talent of their choice.
* ''Manga/{{Pluto}}'' revolves around the title villain systematically hunting down and murdering the seven most advanced robots of the time. Gesicht's challenge is to apprehend Pluto before the same thing happens to him.
** This was also the plot of the original ''Manga/AstroBoy'' story that Pluto was based on, called "The Greatest Robot on Earth".
* Invoked by Metal Sonic in ''Anime/SonicTheHedgehogTheMovie'': "There is only ''one'' Sonic the Hedgehog." Metal follows this to the bitter end: After Sonic defeats him, he falls into a pit of lava. [[LastSecondChance Sonic tries to pull him out]], but Metal brushes his hand aside.
* ''Manga/PrincessResurrection'': Every new generation of Royals must kill each other off until only one is left to AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence.
* ''Manga/DeathNote'' Somewhat exercises that trope, with the ongoing battle between Light and L. Both of them are won't stop pursuing each other until one of them is dead. This is extended to the fact that Light is willing to kill Misa and his other followers to achieve his goal as god of the new world.
* ''Anime/MobileFighterGGundam'': every four years, the nations of the world participate in CombatByChampion, sending their strongest fighter in a [[HumongousMecha Gundam]] to [[EarthIsABattlefield Earth]] to participate in a giant tournament. The last Gundam standing wins leadership of the council of nations for the next four years.
* Mentioned in the ''Anime/CodeGeass'' OVA ''Nunnally in Wonderland'' when Anya (as The White Rabbit) tells Kallen (as The March Hare) that having two rabbits in the story is redundant and a brief fight ensues to determine who gets to stay as a rabbit.
* ''Manga/MutekiKanbanMusume'': Central theme of episode 5 A, ''"Be my stepping stone"'' The protagonist and TheRival (both of them {{ManChild}}s {{ArrogantKungFuGuy}}s) are trapped in a dead end between buildings and invoke this trope: To go out, they need to defeat the other and [[KickTheDog use her as a stepping stone]]. Even when the rest of the cast show up to help, they involve them in the game. Deconstructed when everyone is knocked out and the last one is ''too tired to escape''.
* ''Anime/{{Noir}}'' had "there can only be two", as Noir was a codename meant for a two woman team and there were three candidates. [[spoiler:The two who make it are Mireille and Kirika, who aren't interested in the 'prize' of being the top enforcers of a cult with a world domination bent]].
* In ''Manga/OnePiece'', Luffy is adamant that only one can become the Pirate King; just declaring your intention to do so will be enough to get him fighting.
* In the Creator/JunjiIto manga Tomie, whenever two versions of Tomie meet, they inevitably try kill each other, usually by getting someone else to do the dirty work. However, a [[FetusTerrible weakened or defenseless Tomie]] is low enough on the threat meter that Tomie may kill it herself.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''ComicBook/RisingStars'':
** There are 113 specials, and in the first issue it is revealed that there will only be one left 60 years after they are born. This becomes especially important when we learn that [[spoiler:whenever a special dies, his energy is transferred to all of the surviving specials, making them stronger.]]
** [[spoiler: Even more important as in this universe all superheroes are slowly using up the energy that gives them their powers. So if a character wants to remain super on the long run, his only choice is to...Well, you can guess the rest.]]
* Franchise/GreenLantern: Larfleeze is the only true Orange Lantern Corps member. Overcome by greed, they all fought until he was the last one standing. [[spoiler:Then Comicbook/LexLuthor gained a second orange ring, and the fight began again.]]
* At one point the main man SelfDemonstrating/{{Lobo}} died. Luckily, he can regenerate from a single drop of blood. Unluckily, there were several thousand drops of blood splattered across a battlefield. So, several thousand Lobos found themselves in one place -- and what followed was a awesome and horrifying deathmatch, until only one Lobo remained. The funny thing about this was that Lobo ''always'' had this power -- Vril Dox, Comicbook/{{Brainiac}} 2, suppressed it. It wasn't until Lobo was forcibly regressed to a teen that it came back.
* Franchise/{{Superman}}:
** In ''Comicbook/KryptoniteNevermore'', the [[EnemyWithout Sandman Superman]] tells Superman several times that they have to fight because the world is not big enough for two Supermen.
** In ''ComicBook/TheFinalDaysOfSuperman'', the Energy Superman considers himself to be the only true Superman and the ''N52'' and pre-''Flashpoint'' Supermen and Comicbook/{{Supergirl}} to be imposters.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In ''ComicBook/{{Supergirl}}'' story [[http://members.tripod.com/Dark_Mark/darkmark1.htm "Hellsister"]], Supergirl and Satan Girl fight each other for the last time. Supergirl offers to help her evil counterpart find her missing child if Satan Girl stops fighting, but Satan Girl rebukes they're doomed to fight until there's only one left.
--> sneered the dark woman.
* The main plot of ''Fanfic/LokiAgentOfDoomgard'' is this, even the Trope namer is referenced. It's a Comicbook/SecretWars2015 fic about main universe Loki trying to stop other Lokis from killing off other Lokis and the bodies just keep piling up.

* ''Film/{{TheBelkoExperiment}}'': In a twisted social experiment, 80 Americans are locked in their high-rise corporate office in Bogotá, Colombia and ordered by an unknown voice coming from the company's intercom system to participate in a deadly game of kill or be killed. ~Summary from IMDB
* ''Film/{{Highlander}}'', the [[TropeNamers trope namer]] itself, has immortal beings which can die only by decapitation, killing each other until the last one standing obtains all knowledge of the world and the right to spend the rest of his/her life as a mortal.
* ''Film/TheOne'' had a man jumping from dimension to dimension to kill off AlternateUniverse versions of himself, in order to gain power. This is noted to be a [[InvertedTrope bad thing]], however, as it's implied that if he succeeds it will [[ApocalypseHow destroy the dimension he's in]].
--> '''[[Creator/JetLi Yulaw]]''': After this, there will be only one.
--> '''[[Creator/JetLi Gabe Law]]''': I will not be the one, but neither will you.
* ''Film/HowIWonTheWar'' has a variation on this. When people are killed, they became a coloured (meaning they turn into red, blue, green etc.) version of themselves, but still can help. Only the main character survives at the end.
* In the (not nearly as awesome as it sounds) film ''Film/TheClonesOfBruceLee'', a MadScientist gets some DNA from the recently deceased Creator/BruceLee and makes some clones. Eventually he plans to TakeOverTheWorld. But for some reason his method of doing so involves only creating three Bruces, and then having them fight to the death because he only wants the best one.
* ''Film/TheKillingRoom'' (2009). Four subjects are locked in a room for a psychological experiment. They're then told only one can get out alive.
* The whole point of Kingsman training in ''Film/KingsmanTheSecretService''. The Kingsmen begin with eleven candidates and then put them through [[TrainingFromHell more and more rigorous training and tests]] until only one is left. This person is then inducted into the agency, because itís now obvious that pretty much whatever is thrown at them, they can handle it.
* The prisoners in ''Film/BreathingRoom'' are eliminated one by one as they either kill each other or are eliminated for not having discovered why they are there.
* This happens towards the end of ''Film/TransformersDarkOfTheMoon'' during Optimus and [[spoiler:Sentinel]]'s final battle:
--> '''[[spoiler:Sentinel Prime]]''': [[AGodAmI We we're gods once, all of us!]] But here, there can only be one!

* ''Literature/BattleRoyale'': Put a bunch of kids together and watch them kill each other, for fun.
* ''Literature/TheHungerGames'' is a ZigZaggingTrope: [[spoiler: With only a few competitors left, the Capitol makes an announcement that if the last two survivors are from the same district, they will be co-winners. Katniss and Peeta become the last two survivors, but the Capitol [[ScrewTheRulesIMakeThem revokes the earlier announcement]], and there will only be one winner after all. They decide to commit double suicide rather than attempt to kill each other, and the Capitol backs down, deciding that having two winners is better than not having any.]]
* ''Literature/JonathanStrangeAndMrNorrell'': This is Gilbert Norrell's attitude toward magic. In fact his chief concern as officially sanctioned magician is to make sure there are no other magicians in Britain.
* Creator/StephenKing's ''Literature/TheLongWalk'' (written as Richard Bachman). The last one to be alive is declared the winner.
* During ''Literature/GalaxyOfFear'', [[spoiler: Tash's clone]] pretty much spells it out.
--> "There isn't room in this life for both of us. And since I'm stronger - you'll just have to go."
* A dreadfully repetitive theme in ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire''.
-->'''Stannis Baratheon''': "One King means peace."

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* The various installments in the ''Series/{{Survivor}}'' franchise, as well as most other competitive reality shows.
* The plot-central Scions of ''Revelations'' both play this straight and (slightly) subvert it: the Final Battle will occur when there are exactly two of them, leading some people to try killing them off to speed things up, while others seek to save them in a RaceAgainstTheClock... but not all the Scions are known, and some of the claimants are bluffing, deluded, or already dead (no, really!). There is always a feeling that their numbers are running out, but it isn't clear until very late exactly how close things are.
* ''Franchise/KamenRider'':
** This occurs in ''Series/KamenRiderBlack'' on a smaller scale. A duel between two riders in a contest of who is to be God.
** The Rider War in ''Series/KamenRiderRyuki'' is probably the most well known example of this trope in ''Kamen Rider''. In this series, 13 Riders fight it out to the death. The winner gets to have his or her wish granted. The alternate universe version portrayed in ''Series/KamenRiderDecade'' turned this battle into a trial, in which the victor of the battle gets to determine wether the accused is guilty or not.
** Each of the 53 [[MonsterOfTheWeek Undead]] in ''Series/KamenRiderBlade'' is an immortal avatar of one of the species on earth. Once in every ten thousand years, they fight against each other to determine which species gets to rule the earth. In the previous battle, the Human Undead won, thus making humanity the dominant species. [[spoiler: It turns out that the battle taking place during the series was manipulated by the organization [=BOARD=]. Their plan was to create their own artificial Undead and having it win the battle, thus allowing the chairman of [=BOARD=] to recreate the world in his image.]]
** This occurs in the ''Series/KamenRiderDecade'' movie where Decade, having embraced his role as the Destroyer of Worlds, sets out to defeat every Kamen Rider.
** In ''Series/KamenRiderGaim'' it is slowly revealed that the only way to save the world from being destroyed is to claim the legendary [[ForbiddenFruit Golden Fruit]], which gives its eater godlike powers. Naturally, multiple factions start fighting over it, resulting in this trope. In the end,[[spoiler:Kouta Kazuraba and Kaito Kumon become the only two remaining riders worthy enough to claim the [[ForbiddenFruit Golden Fruit]] and fight to the death for the right to [[PhysicalGod rule the world with it.]]]]
* In the universe of ''Series/WizardsOfWaverlyPlace'', only one child per wizard family, ie: the winner of the wizard contest, is allowed to keep his/her powers and become a full wizard. Though the Russo family becomes an exception, 2 of the 3 kids get to keep their powers.
* Implied in season 6 of ''Series/{{Lost}}'', with the revelation that [[spoiler:several main characters are candidates to replace Jacob as protector of the island, but only one will be able to actually fill this role.]]
* This trope is most of Sylar's plotline in ''Series/{{Heroes}}'', in Season 1 especially, and in Season 3:Volume 4 when he [[spoiler:teams up with Danko to eliminate them all, there is also the lines]]
--> '''[[spoiler: Danko]]''': If we do this - if we succeed - you'd be the only one left.
--> '''Sylar''': Funny how that works.
* In the Season 10 premiere of ''Series/{{Smallville}}'', the old Lex clone states that "there can only be one ComicBook/LexLuthor" before using an [[KillItWithFire improvised flamethrower]] on the other clones.
* On the ''Series/{{Angel}}'' Season 5 episode "Destiny" [[spoiler: Lindsey and Eve]] deceive Angel and Spike into believing that the existence of two champion vampires with a soul is causing universal chaos.
* In ''Series/{{Community}}'' episode [[Recap/CommunityS1E23ModernWarfare Modern Warfare]] only the last man standing will receive the prize.
* In ''Series/TheFlash2014'', Zoom's goal is to be the only super speedster in the entire multiverse, so he murders anybody else who has super speed.

* [[UltimateShowdownOfUltimateDestiny "Good guys, bad guys and explosions / as far as the eye can see / And only one will survive / I wonder who it will be.."]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* When the Druid and Monk classes were first introduced to ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' (in the ''Greyhawk'' and ''Blackmoor'' supplements, respectively), the rules restricted the numbers of higher-level characters in the classes. If you wanted to advance to the upper echelons, you had to defeat one of the characters who already held that rank. At the highest levels, each class allowed only a single individual. This carried into the first edition of ''[[TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons Advanced Dungeons and Dragons]]''.
** The first edition of AD&D had much the same thing going on with Assassins. The highest two levels, 14 and 15 are reached by taking over an assassin's guild by killing the Guildmaster (a 14th-level assassin) and by [[KlingonPromotion finding and killing]] one of the existing Grandmasters in order to reach Grandmaster level (15th) yourself.
** A lesser example is the Green Star Adept PrestigeClass. You become one by using the fragments of a certain green comet to make a potion, and then you have to keep taking it until in the end, you transform into a living sentient golem. The problem is, there is only so much comet matter falling from the skies, so the relationship between individual Adepts is, to put it mildly, somewhat strained.
* The Wizards of High Sorcery in ''Literature/{{Dragonlance}}'' function the same way, although at least in the case of the White and Red robes murder isn't the best way to get to the top rank.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The ''Franchise/BaldursGate'' series basically revolves around the mortal children of the God of Murder, who he created before his death to inherit his power and become his successor. In the first game, one of his sons plans to start a brutal and bloody war to use all the fallen as a sacrifice in a ritual that will turn him to the new God of Murder. In the GrandFinale in the addon to the second game, all the remaining children start to hunt down and kill each other to absorb all the fragments of their fathers divine power and [[AGodAmI become a god.]] [[spoiler: The god in question actually planned for them to ''all'' die so their energy could be used to bring him back to life. Of course, this doesn't go quite as planned either... and the player character ''can'' take his powers at the end of it all. ''Without'' killing absolutely all the others, since Imoen can give up her share of the power voluntarily and Sarovok no longer has his after being resurrected.]]
* ''Franchise/ShinMegamiTensei'':
** ''VideoGame/DigitalDevilSaga'' had a concept similar to this, with indiviuduals replaced by entire tribes fighting each other for dominance. When a tribe's leader is defeated, the remainder of the tribe must swear loyalty to the victor, and this continues until only one tribe remains. The winning tribe then gets to ascend to Nirvana. This also stays true for [[Literature/QuantumDevilSagaAvatarTuner the novels]] as well.
** In ''VideoGame/{{Persona 3}}: FES'', the ex-SEES members discover that they can break out of the [[GroundhogDayLoop Time Skip]] by [[spoiler: assembling the eight fragments of the Key of Time, of which each of them possesses one]]. Naturally, a disagreement breaks out over how to use this power (more specifically, [[spoiler: whether to go back to the past or continue in the present]]); they solve it by [[spoiler: arranging a four-way fight, with the members all pairing off against one another]].
** In ''VideoGame/DevilSurvivor'', the King of Bel has the power to command all of demon-kind. To become King of Bel, a being with a fragment of Bel's original power must defeat all of his fellows and absorb their fragments as well. [[spoiler: The player character is one of them, the only human Bel. This gets him hunted by several powerful Bel demons... until he starts hunting them down instead.]]
** In ''VideoGame/ShinMegamiTenseiIIINocturne'', the Conception is supposed to work like this: formulate a Reason ([[InTheirOwnImage an idea for a new world to replace the dead one]]), gather enough Magatsuhi to summon a deity interested in backing your idea, destroy your opponents (anyone else who has developed a Reason and/or summoned their own patron) and finally confront Kagutsuchi with the blessing of your god to have your idea implemented, with the laws of reality itself changing to accomodate your wish. [[spoiler: There are a number of ways to break the game, though.]]
* Blanca's Wolf Bout {{Sidequest}} in ''VideoGame/ShadowHeartsCovenant'' is based around fighting the other wolves in the world to prove his strength. The last battle [[spoiler:is against Ernest, the man who told you about the tournament to begin with. He reveals that he was a hunter who wanted to isolate the strongest wolf in the world to test himself again. And he fights you in a fursuit. ]] Victory earns you Blanca's special moves and ultimately his InfinityPlusOneSword.
* The modus operandi of BigBad [[GodOfEvil Nemesis]] in ''VideoGame/BlackAndWhite'': he spends the game killing off all the other deities so he can TakeOverTheWorld.
* ''VideoGame/NoMoreHeroes'' revolves around Travis Touchdown, 11th best assassin in the United Assassins Association, working his way up the rankings by killing off the top ten one by one.
** Though one of the series's themes, which started near the end of the first game and is rampant through the second one, is that there will always be more assassins coming up from behind, so there will never really ''be'' "just one".
* This is the driving point behind ''VideoGame/UnrealTournament'''s Last Man Standing mode.
* Two of [[Franchise/MetalGear Big Boss's]] three clones claim "The world needs only one Big Boss!" The third clone, Solid Snake doesn't buy it.
** [[spoiler: When Big Boss reappears]] in VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4, he says "The world needs only one... [[spoiler: No, the world would be best without Snakes."]]
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OgYWLSrmlI There can be only one Prince of Darkness!]]
* ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'': If one melee-equipped Demoman defeats another such "Demoknight," he will sometimes scream "[[LargeHam THERE CAN BE OOOOOONLYYYY OOOONEE!]]... [-[[EyepatchOfPower Eye]]-]."
** This is essentially the typical outcome of any match played in Arena mode. There is no respawn and to win each team has to kill ''everyone'' opposing them. More often than not, the winning team has only one or two people still standing.
** Then there's the Highlander 9vs9 mode, named as such because there can be only one of each class on each team at any time.
* The whole point of ''VideoGame/TwistedMetal'' is [[AGodIAm Calypso]] staging an annual VehicularCombat tournament where drivers ranging from [[UnfazedEveryman ordinary dudes]] to [[AxCrazy complete psychopaths]] kill each other until only one emerges victorious and claims the grand price of one wish of whatever the heart desires. However, as tempting as wishing for anything is, [[BecarefulWhatYouWishFor there are]] [[LiteralGenie always]] [[JerkassGenie consequences...]]
* There are two Apostle candidates in ''VideoGame/DuelSaviorDestiny'', both of which can potentially become the Messiah who will remake the universe. One of them has to kill the other for them to become the complete Messiah. [[spoiler:Though there are loopholes: Claiming the Messiah Armor or sitting in God's Throne will also work.]]
* The Mahjarrat of ''VideoGame/RuneScape'' sacrifice one of their number in a Ritual of Rejuvenation approximately once every 500 years. As there are a finite number of Mahjarrat, eventually only one will remain.
* ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls''
** In series' lore, the [[CatFolk Khajiit]] are led by the Mane, an unofficial "head of state" for all Khajiit. The Mane is not a standard sub-species of Khajiit, but tradition holds that only one Mane may be alive at any one time, since the Mane is [[{{Reincarnation}} one entity reborn in different bodies]] with the passage of time. The veracity of this is unknown, but there has been no recorded instance of multiple Manes contending for power.
** The ''Dragonborn'' DLC for ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim Skyrim]]'' begins with the First Dragonborn, Miraak, sending his cult members to eliminate the PlayerCharacter for being a "[[NoTrueScotsman False Dragonborn]]" and an obvious threat to his power. The Dragonborn survives the attempt and journeys to [[GrimUpNorth Solstheim]], hellbent on hunting him down.
* In the war between the Pretender gods over who shall succeed as Pantokrator in ''VideoGame/{{Dominions}}'', only one can truly ascend to divinity and the rest must be destroyed or thwarted. Any alliance is but a temporary measure.
** There is an alternative introduced in ''4'', a Disciples game, where one Pretender on a team competes for ascension, and the others are disciples, who spread the dominion of the leader and are presumably awarded on their ascension.
* In ''VideoGame/FateGrandOrder'', Mysterious Heroine X is yet another Saber/Artoria Pendragon {{Expy}}. Her main goal is to kill all others who share her face, "Saberfaces". This includes Saber, Mordred, Nero, and Jeanne d'Arc.
* This is the {{Big Bad}}'s plan in ''The Citadel'' DLC for ''VideoGame/MassEffect3''. [[spoiler: He/she is a clone of Commander Shepard who plans to kill and replace him/her.]]
* In ''{{VideoGame/Yakuza}}'', Kazuma Kiryu, "The Dragon of Dojima", is considered TheParagon and all-around biggest badass of the criminal underworld, leading to at least one rival per game being driven by jealousy or ambition to defeat him and become the next "Dragon", frequently with the TattooedCrook sporting dragon tattoos of their own just to emphasise this trope[[note]]And just for completeness sake, two have carp tattoos, referring to a legend where a carp that swims to the top of a waterfall becomes a dragon [[/note]].
* The premise of ''VideoGame/LordsOfTheRealm2'' is that five nobles are warring over a SuccessionCrisis. Alliances can be made, but are inherently temporary; if you and your AI ally are the only nobles left standing, the AI will immediately break the alliance, citing this trope.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'' involves seven mages who summon spirits of heroes to fight each other in a deadly conflict known as the Holy Grail War. The last spirit standing gets the Holy Grail, which grants a wish. (Killing a mage is a good way to get at the spirit they summoned.)
** And it's ''really'' only one because [[spoiler:humans can't touch the Grail, so the Servant does it. And then ''they'' get sucked in and turned into fuel like the others for the wish of the Master. By this point, nobody really remembers the mechanics of how it works anymore because no one's ever won. Well, technically [[LightNovel/FateZero Kiritsugu]] won the last one, but that didn't count.]]
* ''VisualNovel/KajiriKamuiKagura'' has the Hadou Gods. Constantly expanding sentient cosmic forces, who will devour each other until only one is left to become the Godhead, should they ever clash against each other.

* Parodied on ''Webcomic/AnsemRetort''. Season Six started with the casts of various reality shows being brutally murdered. Upon finding out they're the only cast left, Axel declares, "WE'RE THE FUCKING HIGHLANDER OF REALITY TV!"
* Spoofed in the ''Franchise/HarryPotter'' parody comic ''[[http://piratemonkeysinc.com/ms1.htm House Sparklypoo]]''. The members of the titular house discover to their horror that they're losing their [[MarySue specialness]]. Their teacher suggests that it's because each of them is supposed to be the best, but obviously only one person can be the best at anything. Cue massive throwdown as the Sparklypoos try to kill one another in order to regain their special powers, culminating in the destruction of Sparklypoo Tower by an errant [[{{LightNovel/Slayers}} Dragon Slave]].
* R2-D2's player from ''Webcomic/DarthsAndDroids'' claims that if he were to clone himself, "We'd fight to the death, and the winner would be the new me."
* In ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'', this is possibly subverted; while Lord Tedd is supposedly out to kill the "weak Tedds," Nioi insisted that he was misunderstood, and it is clear from various hints that he has a FreudianExcuse lurking in the shadows. Unfortunately, due to the KudzuPlot, he's been PutOnABus, so it'll be some time before we find out ''why''.
* In ''Webcomic/ImpureBlood'', [[http://www.impurebloodwebcomic.com/Pages/Chapter001/ib001.html this was the rule]] of the GladiatorGames. Roan lasted for years -- and finally escaped.
* In one arc of ''Webcomic/{{Vexxarr}}'' where Minionbot's OS was accidentally copied into a repair drone the two of them tried to destroy each other to the point where all that was left of either was their heads, then they were subjected to a SplitPersonalityMerge and the drone head crushed. Later [[SapientShip Carl]] forced his backup copies to fight one another to the death to determine which AI was the most paranoid and ruthless on board, and for his own amusement.
* ''ComicStrip/{{Nodwick}}'' had a ''Highlander'' parody issue, in which this trope was naturally a major plot point.
* In ''Webcomic/CharbyTheVampirate'' Rose sister Rosemary has this reaction upon meeting Rosemary Petrucci, ultimately subverted as the other Rose Sisters prevent her from attacking. [[spoiler: As an elite Petrucci is immortal anyway]].

[[folder:Web Originals]]
* ''Roleplay/SurvivalOfTheFittest''. It's based off ''Literature/BattleRoyale'', therefore this should also be fairly self-explanatory. For those of you not in the know, the idea is that an island full of students are to kill each other until there is only one survivor.
* The ''[[http://lifepoint1.com/change/kazahana/ Kazahana Family Mass Battle]]'' web collaboration by Lifepoint One Entertainment focuses on a family whose first head has decreed that the legacy of his fortune be sealed, and passed onto a direct descendant of his own blood, 600 years after his death. One of the Kazahanas, unsupervised by the others, sowed his seeds far and wide, and 600 years later, there are now hundreds of Kazahana descendants, and with only one of them destined to claim the fortune, the stage is set for a bloody and violent battle.
* Being based on ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'', ''Roleplay/FateNuovoGuerra'' follows this convention, though exactly how long until one is left is vaguer, as the 'seven mages' limit has been removed.
* The first season of ''Roleplay/ReEvolution'' used this trope.
* Creator/ShackTactical has "[[DeadlyGame The Game]]", where a large group of civilians have been poisoned, [[PoisonAndCureGambit and will only be given a dose of the cure after they kill their "quarry"]], another random civilian who is also poisoned. If they fail to kill their target, the poison kills them. Once they do kill their target, they get enough of the cure to prolong their life... and a new quarry to kill. Meanwhile, that person could be [[ParanoiaFuel the quarry of one or several other civilians]] who are equally desperate to live, and equally willing to kill in order to keep living. Rinse and repeat until only one civilian is left standing. [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKiay-EN-20 Here's a short clip of The Game]] to give you an idea of what it's all about.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* How Leonard of ''WesternAnimation/UglyAmericans'' regenerated after Mark accidentally killed him. Though it wasn't supposed to be that way, the regeneration urn holding his pieces together broke.
* ''WesternAnimation/AquaTeenHungerForce has [[http://video.adultswim.com/aqua-teen-hunger-force/nice.html this bit]].
* ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'''s MissionControl Wade says this to Rufus after it becomes apparent that, thanks to some brain-enhancing machinery, the naked mole rat might be smarter than him. Wade must take his role as the SmartGuy very seriously.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' episode [[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS4E1PrincessTwilightSparklePart1 Princess Twilight Sparkle Part 1]], Princess Luna declares herself the only princess in Equestria before becoming Nightmare Moon.
* This is why Foop fights Poof in ''WesternAnimation/FairlyOddParents'', believing there can be only one fairy baby in the universe. However, FridgeLogic dictates that without Poof, Foop can't exist either. This comes up in the special "Timmy's Secret Wish".
* Roger on ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad'' believes that Christmas cheer works this way.
--> '''Hayley''': Wow, great sweater, Roger.
--> '''Roger''': [drunkenly] Thanks, I totally sniped it from a guy on eBay. I not only stole the sweater, I stole his holiday spirit and that made my holiday spirit grow stronger. Because, that's how it works, right? Like "Highlander"? There can be only one?
* Drax in ''WesternAnimation/GuardiansOfTheGalaxy2015'' states that there is only one "Destroyer", and it is him, not an empty suit of armor. Drax quotes this trope during his battle with the Destroyer Armor in episode 13 "Stuck in the Metal With You".


[[folder:Real Life]]
* United States Presidential Campaigns. This show lasts for over a year, with plenty of suspense and commentary. The losers get to make tearful speeches, either endorsing the winner at the convention, or conceding defeat in the general election. A nonlethal example, the ConsolationPrize usually being either a Cabinet postion or the lecture circuit depending on whether or not one's party wins. Sadly, the election does not involve the candidates dueling each other with swords...
* The Roman Emperor Diocletian chose to divide it into two parts (east and west), each ruled by an Augustus (Diocletian in the east, Maximian in the west) assisted by a Caesar, who would, on the death of the Augustus, take his place and appoint a new lieutenant-emperor. This system meant there would always be at least four people with imperial rank. It worked well initially under Diocletian, but, within a generation of his death, the whole thing was back under the control of a single emperor (Constantine the Great) via forcible removal of the others.
* For unexplainable reasons, the human race is constantly trying to find "the best X of all time", all the time.
* Tournaments. Any kind. Sports, Chess, Video Games... The whole point is to keep pairing people/teams up until only one remains and is declared the winner.