Cueball: Well, you know what they say, the past is a foreign country-Take Over the World meets Time Travel. This is a character, very common in Comic Books and occasionally appearing in other forms of Science Fiction, who comes from a distant future, where the technology has advanced to the point where time travel is possible. Having found conquering his own time either too difficult or too easy, he travels back in time to the present, where he sets about using his advanced technology to conquer our world and become an Evil Overlord. Rarely does it occur to them that, if they were meant to succeed, history would already have recorded it, or that they might end up screwing themselves up by tampering with time; unless, of course, they live in a multiverse. Time Police exist to stop these guys. Sometimes this is combined with Those Wacky Nazis. For that, see Stupid Jetpack Hitler. See also Make Wrong What Once Went Right, the supertrope of time travel used for evil.
Black Hat Guy: -with an outdated military and huge oil reserves... hmmm...
Black Hat Guy: -with an outdated military and huge oil reserves... hmmm...
— xkcd looks at it from the other direction.
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Anime and Manga
- In Mahou Sensei Negima!, Chao Linshen is a subversion: the major antagonist for a huge portion of the story, bringing advanced technology from the future to meet her goal, she seems like this, but with two key differences: a) she doesn't want to conquer the world, just break the Extra-Strength Masquerade earlier than "scheduled" and thus prevent a tragedy, and b) she's arguably not even a Well-Intentioned Extremist, because she specifically avoids going to moral extremes to avoid becoming one: She doesn't lie, and doesn't kill: her army of robot minions are equipped with disarmament beams.
- Cell from Dragon Ball Z is a variant of this. He comes from an alternate future where he killed that timeline's version of Trunks and stole his time machine to travel back to a point where Androids 17 and 18 were still active, so he could absorb them and achieve his perfect form. He then uses his power to terrorize the world.
- In Sailor Moon, the Black Moon Clan traveled from a 1000 years in the future to conquer the present. And try to capture the present version of the Silver Crystal, as no one knows where the future version is.
- Marvel Comics has Kang the Conqueror, Rama Tut, the Scarlet Centurion, and Immortus. The catch is that these are all actually the same guy: he's traveled through time so often, and created so many Alternate Timelines, that there is now an entire Legion of Doom called the Council of Kangs made up entirely of his own iterations. Immortus, it seems, is the original Kang and the oldest, who is now a Boxed Crook: forced to spend eternity undoing the Continuity Snarl that is the Marvel universe thanks largely to him.
- The miniseries Avengers Forever is little more than an attempt to tie together all those threads. One issue was spent entirely summing up Kang's convoluted history.
- The Scarlet Centurion also appears in Marvel's alternate-universe Squadron Supreme limited series, albeit without the Continuity Snarl baggage.
- Also from Marvel comics, we have Zarrko the Tomorrow Man, who came from a perfect pacifist utopia but got so bored of it he decided to snatch a nuke from the past and take over. He and Kang know each other and don't get along; they've had time wars occasionally.
- Doctor Doom also occasionally plays this role, thanks to his invention of the Time Platform. He happens to be a proud descendant of the aforementioned Rama-Tut.
- In The DCU, the most notable examples are Epoch, the self-proclaimed Lord of Time, who comes from the year 3786 to regularly have his butt handed to him by the JLA, Chronos the Time Thief, a present-day crook who acquires time travel technology for the same purpose, and the Time Trapper, who is from so far in the future that he is one of these to the Legion of Super-Heroes, who live in the 30th century.
- Lesser known but equally badass are JSA antagonists Extant (a two-bit hero turned into a deranged incarnation of Chaos) and Per Degaton (a time-travelling Nazi).
- Two of The Flash's most powerful villains are minor examples of this trope. Abra Kadabra, a mad terrorist from the 64th century, uses futuristic technology to pass himself off as an Evil Sorcerer. Professor Zoom, meanwhile, is a criminal from the 25th century who uses future technology to become the Barry Allen Flash's Evil Twin and Arch-Enemy.
- In the DC One Million story arc, Vandal Savage, an immortal, evil Julius Beethoven da Vinci who has been alive since 50,000 B.C., manages to do this, when it is revealed that he is still alive in the 853rd century and has hatched a plot to send a deadly cybernetic virus backward in time to change the future.
- Also from The DCU, the Sheeda, a race from very far in Earth's future, thrives by plundering earlier civilizations. They succeeded in destroying one now-forgotten predecessor of Camelot but failed to destroy the present thanks to the Seven Soldiers.
- The Future, one of the five heads of the Fraternity in Mark Millar's Wanted, is a Conqueror From The Future clearly based on Kang and his crew. Only crossed with Nazis.
- Max Bubba in Strontium Dog, who travels back to the end of the eighth century and sets about wrecking the timeline in order to get revenge on the future. It's unclear just how aware he is that he's wrecking the timeline.
- In the Judge Dredd / Strontium Dog crossover "Judgment Day", an Omnicidal Maniac sorcerer with a thing for zombies who was being hunted by Alpha travels back to Dredd's time to destroy the Earth with his undead hordes and erase Alpha's timeline.
- The Disney comic "The World Begins And Ends In Duckburg" features a villain from the future who comes and turns off all electricity. (An Aesop follows about not relying on modern technology.)
- Futur10n from The Incredibles comics.
- Also from the DCU, Xotar the Weapons Master, a criminal from the 120th century who fought the Justice League of America. His first attempt (the JLA's second ever appearance, in The Brave and the Bold #29) actually addressed the history problem: Xotar had found a fragmentary old historical document mentioning that he had traveled to 1960 to defeat the Justice League. The story ends with the document being written, revealing that with all the missing portions in place it is an account of his unsuccessful attempt to defeat the Justice League.
- Two separate future versions of Brainiac have pulled this, the more successful being the 64th century native Brainiac 13, who nearly conquered the entire 21st century universe in Our Worlds at War.
- Vampirella: Professor Benjamin Quatermass originates from a timeline 100 years in the future when humanity has abandoned the Earth's surface for floating cities. In a variation, he invades the past to make sure that his ancestor will invent time travel technology, allowing for the incredibly complicated series of events to ensure that he'll control all timelines.
- In Runaways, the Yorkes are a subversion; they came from the distant future to plunder the past, but during an unexpected detour in 1983, they made contact with the Gibborim, who conscripted them into a plan to remake the world, which kinda rendered any plans they might have had to conquer the world irrelevant, as the world would have ceased to exist in 2003.
- In Star Trek: First Contact, the Borg, realizing that they're having a lot of trouble assimilating The Federation, travel back in time to prevent the Federation from being formed (and assimilate the Earth in its more vulnerable past). It initially succeeds, as a new timeline is created where the Earth is populated by Borg drones, but the Enterprise was protected from the changes due to being in the wake of the Borg ship's "temporal vortex". The Enterprise follows them into the past and sets history right.
- In the 2009 Star Trek film, after being sucked back in time, Nero decides to get "revenge" on Starfleet for not averting a oddly powerful supernova in time to save his home planet. Of course, Starfleet has no idea what he's talking about.
- In Stargate Continuum, Ba'al uses a time travel device to reverse the fallen fortunes of the Goa'uld empire and take the galactic throne for himself. He prevents the SGC from ever coming into existence so Earth will be defenseless when the Goa'uld fleet finally comes and then eliminates all the rival factions one by one before invading Earth.
- In Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, the villains first travel back to the present and trick the heroes into helping them erase Godzilla from existence, then summon King Ghidorah and have him ravage Japan, thus allowing them to take over. Fortunately, they didn't succeed in erasing Godzilla permanently.
- In Soon I Will Be Invincible, the minor villain Polgar, mentioned in passing, is a direct Shout-Out to Kang the Conqueror, right down to the hero Blackwolf's erroneous belief that he is actually a future version of Villain Protagonist Dr. Impossible (a reference to the previously held belief that Kang was a future version of Doctor Doom).
- Inverted in Robert A. Heinlein's "By His Bootstraps". The main character is brought from the present to the far future and becomes the world's "diktor" (dictator). Apparently the people from the future have become too soft after encountering Eldritch Abominations.
- An inversion also occurs in Poul Anderson's short story Flight to Forever where it's mentioned that the tyrannical Earth Directorate of the 23rd century attempted to take over Earth in the 24th century after being overthrown by a rebellion of Martian colonists in their own time. They were defeated at great cost, which made time travelers permanently unpopular.
- Happens after a fashion in Harry Turtledove's The Guns of the South: the time-traveling Afrikaners initially just try to change history, but turn their advanced weapons against the Confederate States when the latter, lead by President Robert E. Lee, starts moving to treat blacks fairly rather than keeping them as slaves and treating them as sub-humans, the way the AWB wants them.
- S.M. Stirling has a deep affection for this trope and uses it often in his works:
- In Drakon, the last novel of The Draka, an evil Draka scientist from the 25th century of their timeline is tossed through a wormhole to the 1990s of our timeline and tries to take it over.
- In Island in the Sea of Time and its sequels, the entire island of Nantucket is tossed back in time to the Bronze Age. Most of the residents try to keep themselves to themselves, but the villainous William Walker gathers a group of followers and commences to conquer Europe.
- In Conquistador, a WWII vet and his buddies find a portal to an alternate universe version of California that Europeans never discovered. They use their access to modern weaponry and resources to create their own pirate kingdom and make themselves rich.
- "Mozart in Mirrorshades" by Bruce Sterling and Lewis Shiner is set in an alternate eighteenth century which is being exploited for resources by corporate overlords from the future.
- Henry Kuttner's "Endowment Policy" has a variant: a person tries to set his own past self as the world dictator.
- Doctor Who is full of these. The two most prominent examples are the Master, who is the Evil Counterpart to the Doctor's time traveling alien, and the Daleks, who are Cyborg aliens. Both want to conquer the universe... in all time periods, past, present, and future.
- Arguably the most prominent new series example appears in the form of the Toclafane who are later revealed to be the mangled remains of humanity from the far future, having traveled into the past with the help of the Master in order to escape the end of the universe.
- In Star Trek: Enterprise, the crew of the eponymous ship, who operate in the 22nd century, become embroiled in a "Temporal Cold War" between an entire race of Conquerors From The Future called the Sphere-Builders (who come from the 26th century) and a variety of forces opposed to their plans to change history (mostly from the 29th century).
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Time's Arrow", Mark Twain believes Data is this trope.
- The villain Tempus from a multi-part episode of Lois and Clark
- The villains from year 2500 in The Girl from Tomorrow ponder this, but decide conquering each nation individually would take too much time compared to taking over their One World Order led by a Mega Corp..
- Jeffrey Sinclair in Babylon 5 is an heroic inversion, having come from the future to be a defender against conquerors.
- Fringe: as revealed in the Bad Future shown in "Letters of Transit," this is the mission of the Observers.
- Ransik, the Big Bad from Power Rangers Time Force travelled back from the 30th century to 2001 for this purpose. In fact, his first dialogue in the series is "If I cannot rule the present, than I shall rule the past!".
- As with its parent series, Big Finish Doctor Who features quite a few of these. One of the more subtle examples of this trope appears in "Singularity," in which the new-age cult known as the Somnus Foundation is secretly being run by individuals from the far future; having found a way to transmit their minds backwards through time, the Sleepers have taken over the bodies of people in the 21st century and are using the cult in order to track down more compatible bodies for their brethren to take over - with the eventual intention of kickstarting a psychic singularity and transforming the human race into a Physical God powerful enough to change history. For added unpleasantness, the body-snatching process leaves the minds of the unfortunate victims trapped in the Sleepers' own time, condemned to live out the rest of their lives in the Sleepers' original bodies. It's eventually revealed that the Sleepers are actually the last remaining members of the human race, having transported themselves into the past in a desperate attempt to escape the Heat Death of the Universe.
- This is the goal of the Architects of the Flesh from the 2056 juncture in Feng Shui. Because of the way that the setting works, the Buro are not doing this just to satisfy a megalomaniacal urge, but because changes in previous junctures on the part of their enemies can lead to their downfall in a critical shift, just like what happened to the Four Monarchs.
- Empress Istvatha Víhan in Champions is from another dimension but has time travel abilities which she uses to their fullest to let her conquer other dimensions.
- According to the Dungeons & Dragons supplement Lords of Madness, the Illithids (or Mind Flayers) hail from the terrifyingly distant future, when the last suns were burning out and their empire was falling to a slave uprising. They escaped this by creating a psionic maelstrom that hurled the surviving Mind Flayers eons into the past, just a few centuries before the current D&D setting. The plan was to get a head start on conquering the universe and study the "lesser" civilizations to avoid falling prey to the problems that ended their first empire, though this was derailed somewhat when their new Gith slaves revolted and destroyed much of the Mind Flayers' advanced technology and magic. The Mind Flayers are still supremely confident that they'll win in the end - after all, they did it before, and it helps that they're implied to be distantly descended from humanity.
- Chrono Trigger:
- Played straight with the player's party when they travel back to the Middle Ages, or even Prehistory, to try to avert a Bad Future in which an interplanetary parasite destroys the world. So you have a gun-slinging Gadgeteer Genius and her Robot Buddy from even further in the future turning the tide of a Medieval conflict, and teenagers wielding magic during time periods when only nonhumans were thought to be capable of it.
- Inverted in the case of Magus, who turns out to be from the ancient, magically- and technologically-advanced Kingdom of Zeal. An encounter with Lavos during the destruction of Zeal sent him thousands of years into his future, into the Middle Ages, where he used his sorcerous might to become leader of the Fiends while they waged war on humanity. That said, Magus is less interested in conquest and more focused on summoning Lavos so he can have his revenge.
- The DS Updated Re-release adds Dalton, a fellow Zeal refugee, who after being beaten by the player party wound up in the game's present time via the Dimensional Vortex. After being defeated again he swears to raise an army and have his revenge on the heroes. It sounds like an empty threat, but those who played Chrono Cross now have their answer for how Porre turned from a mellow little village into a technologically-advanced empire that conquered Guardia, the home kingdom of Chrono Trigger's three main heroes.
- Chrono Cross adds another example as well as a subversion in the game's backstory. A time experiment in the year 2300 sent the research facility of Chronopolis tens of thousands of years into the past, while also summoning an equally-advanced civilization of evolved Reptites from an alternate timeline where Lavos never wiped them out. These Dragonians wanted to eradicate humanity and conquer the world for their own nature-friendly civilization, but Chronopolis was able to defeat and subdue them, then laid low for millennia, carefully manipulating events to prevent any Temporal Paradoxes that might threaten its future existence.
- This is the plan of Spectre in the first Ape Escape, travel back to various points in history (from the dinosaurs onwards) to try and make monkeys (or chimps, or whatever primate they were supposed to be) the dominant species, not humans.
- Metal Slug XX has this as its main plot, with a time portal depositing high-tech soldiers and weaponry to aid Morden.
- Quint, an evil version of Mega Man (Classic) from the time just before Mega Man X's awakening, or possibly an alternate timeline, travels back in time to menace his past self in the second and fifth Game Boy games and the WonderSwan game Mega Man & Bass: Challenger from The Future.
- MOTHER 3: Inverted by Porky who traveled from the past and conquered a post-apocalyptic future with a primitive rustic society.
- Sunrider: Inverted by Crow Harbor, an ancient Ryuvian warlord from two thousand years in the past. Having accidentally transported himself into the present in a failed attempt to alter the outcome of a battle in his favor, and having broken his time machine in the process, he decides to conquer the galaxy and rebuild the Holy Ryuvian Empire.
- Onimusha 3: Demon Siege features a rare inversion as the villains from the distant past use time travel to take over the future: specifically Nobunaga Oda uses a magic portal to send demon hordes from Japan to invade modern day France.
- In the Mega Man cartoon, Vile and Spark Mandrill came to the past to steal some Dr. Light's new Lightanium energy rods, so they could sell them in the future. Unfortunately for them, Mega Man X went back to the past to stop them.
- In the old Superfriends cartoon, the Legion of Doom subvert this by attempting to conquer the future... in the episode "Conquerors of the Future."
- The Legion of Super-Heroes cartoon: in a reversal of the basic setup of "31st-century heroes summon 21st-century Superman to help", the second season has a 41st-century Superman clone summon the 31st-century heroes to help against the warlord Imperiex. Both the Superman clone and Imperiex remain in the 31st century (their past) for the rest of the season. (Note that this only applies to the cartoon Imperiex, not the comic character he was based on.)
- In the Justice League three-parter "The Savage Time", Vandal Savage sends a laptop computer and a complete history of World War II to his 1930s-era self, so that he may use the advanced technology and foreknowledge of history to take over the Nazi war machine, defeat the Allies, and conquer the world.
- Parodied in Dave the Barbarian, where a nerd that works in a zipper factory gains access to a time-travelling zipper and then makes himself ruler of Udragoth through supplying the citizenry with video games.
- Parodied in The Simpsons when Nelson appears as a futuristic gun-toting cyborg in the kids' Cowboys and Indians game.
Bart: That's no fair, Nelson! They didn't have the Kill-matic 3000 back then!
Nelson: Hey, records from that era are spotty at best!
- Subverted in Sabrina: The Animated Series: Sabrina goes back to ancient Rome with Gem and the two wind up in front of Julius Caesar. Gem tries to intimidate him with a flashlight, but he's less than impressed.
Caesar: Ooh, a mini-lantern. Spooky.
- Inverted in an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold where Gorilla Grodd travels to the future following the end of the world which is inhabited with intelligent primates who he takes command of using Lost Technology from his own time.
- Kang the Conqueror from The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! came to the past to take over the world. However, he only did this to save his timeline from being destroyed.