"Then I will become the ultimate ruler of this wasteland engulfed with pandemonium!"The second and more despicable trope in the unholy trinity of villainous objectives. Some villains want to take over to bring about a better world, usually with the architect taking over to ensure paradise is brought about smoothly. Other villains want to take over just to make the world worse, with the architect actively trying to make everyone as miserable as possible. And some villains just want to take over. Sometimes the catastrophe you engineered to bring yourself to power was not all for the Greater Good, nor was it For the Evulz. Sometimes, it really was just to get you into power. Whether it is to eliminate the competition or to dissuade any future rebellion, you find that World Domination is hard to achieve without crossing the Moral Event Horizon, sometimes just because Evil Is Easy. Now, the world might turn out to be a better place with you running the show, but just to be clear — that's not why you are trying to do it. Nope — you sacrificed your friends and family, your fellow countrymen (and theirs), and perhaps most of humanity in the name of social advancement. It might turn out to be a Crapsack World — but hey, c'est la vie. Total global domination is the most common of all villainous goals. But with this trope, the Big Bad takes it too far.
— Arkham, Devil May Cry 3
They will, if they deem it necessary, nearly destroy the world in pursuit of this goal. Power and position are what they are after and they are not particularly fussy about the state of the world insofar as those ambitions go. Ideology and especially morality are secondary, which means examples of this trope are rarely portrayed in a sympathetic light. This is not to say that they will not care what society looks like after they take over, or that they will have no visions for the future. It simply means that power is their primary goal, and they will do anything to achieve that, even sacrifice whatever beliefs they may have. On the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, they tend to be very much on the Cynical side. In other words, they may suffer from Motive Decay when it turns out that the Utopia they promised to build has been sacrificed for the sake of their own personal power. For cases when the created Dystopia really is their endgame, more than power, see Dystopia Justifies the Means. For cases in which the despotism has positive side effects, see Pragmatic Villainy. See also Ambition Is Evil (this mindset requires a certain (read: very high) level of ambition) and Control Freak (which is essentially this on a smaller scale). No Real Life Examples, Please!
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Anime & Manga
- Berserk: Griffith only cares about acquiring power and achieving his dream of running a kingdom, and he will stop at nothing to achieve it, up to and including cracking open the Astral Plane and fusing it with the physical world, turning an already Crapsack World into a literal Hell on Earth.
- Dragon Ball Z:
- Frieza only cares about staying in power as "the strongest being in the universe" and will wipe out entire races to do so. That's why he seeks out immortality, so he can stay that way forever.
- Everything Cell does throughout the Cell Saga, which includes eating 600,000 innocent people and killing hundreds of others in cold blood, is solely so he can attain ultimate power. Once he does obtain this power and becomes perfect, his endgame is solely to use it to hunt down and kill every last human on Earth one at a time, savoring their fear and terror as he does so, and then go to other planets and repeat the process until everything's dead.
- Death Note: Though he starts out as a Well-Intentioned Extremist who wants to rid the world of all crime, Light Yagami is also in it to become the god of the new world he wishes to create; over time, Motive Decay results in him solely focused on feeding his raging God complex.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Father decides that his final evil master plan to bring a god and his power into his body is a fine trade for the 50 million+ souls of Amestris civilians.*
- In Mobile Suit Gundam, Gihren Zabi fully believes this. He's a Social Darwinist and Adolf Hitler-wannabe, but his own personal power comes first and foremost. To that end, he unleashes chemical weapons against the Earth Federation, turns his brother's funeral into a political rally, and cuts off his father, Sovereign Degwin, from all true political power, ultimately committing patricide. His sister, Kycilia, is more ideological than he is, but given her treacherous nature and desire for power, it's likely that she too subscribes to this, and like Gihren, there are few lines she will not cross, experimenting on Newtypes, authorising M'Quve's nuclear attack on Odessa, and shooting Gihren in order to usurp his position.
- Gihren's clone, Glemmy Toto of Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, also subscribes to this trope, nearly destroying Neo-Zeon in his attempts to take it over and reinstate the Zabi dictatorship. Haman Khan, ruler of Neo-Zeon, rival to Glemmy and one-time ally of Scirocco is no better; she had standards and ideals once upon a time, but after a bad run-in with Char Aznable and her own general disillusionment with humanity those seem to have gone the way of the dodo bird, and she'll do anything to reassert Zeon's rule of the colonies and the Earth Sphere.
- Superman: Lex Luthor has occasionally tried to conquer the world, and unlike Doctor Doom, he usually doesn't care quite so much that the world might be better off under him anyway.
- Also Mongul. He rules, or ruled, the planet of Warworld, where he held brutal gladiatorial games to distract the people from their miserable, impoverished lives under his dictatorship. Originally, he ruled his own homeworld, but was ousted by the native people for his despotic behaviour.
- In Transmetropolitan, Spider Jerusalem says that The Smiler has no reason to claim the presidency beyond the fact that he wants to be the President. He has no agenda he wants to push, he just wants to be in power. And he's willing to do anything, up to and including murdering his own closest people for extra sympathy ratings, to get there.
- Nemesis the Warlock: Torquemada unveils his back-up Weapon of Mass Destruction to destroy all extra-terrestrials at once in the final arc. He handwaves why he hasn't used it before by admitting to Nemesis that to secure his rule over Termight he needed to keep the Terrans in permanent fear and give them an enemy to fight.
- In the The Legend of Zelda fic Wisdom and Courage, Veran openly states that her ultimate goal is to conquer not only Hyrule, but all other lands, including the Sacred Realm itself. Of course, considering the fact that she completely destroys both Hyrule and Termina over the course of the story, it's obvious that any land she actually succeeds in conquering will be nothing but a barren wasteland. During the final battle, Zelda even points out that, despite all of her claims of wanting to avenge her fallen people, it's obvious that all Veran really wants is to gather power for power's sake, as well as using/abusing said power to kill as many innocent people and cause as much collateral damage as possible For the Evulz.
- Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness:
- This is part of the reason why Falla was passed over as the next chronofly queen in favor of Luna; as pointed out by their mother, Falla was "too focused on the power to use it properly." Indeed, Falla openly admits that she only wanted the position for the power, and is perfectly willing to sacrifice her own family to get it; despite destroying the entire chronofly kingdom and committing genocide of her entire race, sans herself and Luna, all Falla can think of is the crown, even though, thanks to her, there isn't even a kingdom to rule anymore!
- Babylon, the Big Bad of Acts V and VI. It's outright stated that all he wants is to conquer The Multiverse and rule over all worlds as their king. Considering the fact that his minions leave at least two human cities in ruin, and the fact that in Act VI chapter 38, before Complica's Reset Button attempt, he gives the vanguard of his army free reign to Rape, Pillage, and Burn to their heart's content, it's very clear that he doesn't care what condition the worlds he conquers are in as long as he's the one ruling them.
General Mandible: Don't you understand? It's for the good of the Colony!
Z: What are you saying? We are the Colony!!
- A few lines later, Mandible announces that he is the colony.
- The Lion King. Scar isn't interested in anything but being King, and he was quite happy to murder his brother, try to murder his nephew, and turn the Pride Lands into Mordor to do it, although it's implied in the musical that he regrets the last part, especially when it's actually going to cost him his kingship.
- The only thing Prince Charming did with Far Far Away upon conquering it in Shrek the Third was force everybody to watch a musical he wrote and starred in about what a great person he thought he was. Though to be fair, he only ruled it for a week at the absolute most. Perhaps if his mother was still around (and/or Shrek, Fiona, and their fairy-tale friends weren't around to depose him), he would have been able to come up with some kind of government policy.
- Rumpelstiltskin, the Big Bad of Shrek Forever After, takes it even further; in the Alternate Universe where he rules Far Far Away; the entire city is a derelict, rotting mess of a town, and both Shrek's friends and the ogre population are used as slaves.
- In The Prince of Egypt, Ramseses is portrayed as a more sympathetic version of this, refusing to be the "weak link" that would destroy their dynasty.
- During his Villain Song in The Princess and the Pea, Laird sings about how he doesn't care if his subjects are starving or overtaxed so long as he gets to be king.
Films — Live-Action
- You Only Live Twice features a plot to start World War III so SPECTRE (or their shady foreign backers) can rule the post-apocalyptic aftermath.
- Palpatine from Star Wars orchestrates a civil war (between two armies of "disposable" soldiers with plenty of civilians caught in the crossfire) and commits genocide on his way to becoming the evil Emperor.
- Darth Vader was never in absolute command, but he did some bad things for power, too. Vader wanted "to bring order to the galaxy", though, and once naively talked about trying to stop people from dying. Palpatine got him on board by convincing him that this will lead to peace, and he had to convince himself that the Jedi and the Republic were corrupt (not unjustified, even though Palpatine was the architect of much of this anyway). He is thus a very dark example of Utopia Justifies the Means, and he did not want power for its own sake.
- Toward the end of Nineteen Eighty Four, the protagonist has a conversation with a representative of the oppressive government, who asks him why he thinks the government has gone to such lengths to control people's lives. He says that he supposes it's because they're trying to do what's best for the people; the government representative laughs at him and says that really they did it because they wanted power for its own sake. This then shifts into Dystopia Justifies the Means when he gets onto how one man asserts power over another: "By making him suffer."
- The main character of Perfume envisions a world where everyone bows to his god-like sense of smell, and he's willing to kill anyone he has to, without remorse, to get it. He is on the verge of succeeding when he gets a taste of what it would be like, and decides that it's not what he wanted after all.
- In The Lord of the Rings Sauron started out motivated by Utopia Justifies the Means, but while his goal was always to create order, by the time the novel takes place he's suffered Motive Decay so that his fundamental goal was to perpetuate his own power. He did not, however, fall as far as the original Dark Lord, Morgoth, who went completely into Dystopia Justifies the Means—while cruelty was a tool for Sauron, it became an end itself for his master.
- Christopher Tolkein in his analysis of the The Silmarillion describes this as Sauron's whole motivation for taking over Middle Earth, unlike his old master Morgoth who became an Omnicidal Maniac who wanted to grind the whole world into dust (which still would not satisfy him because the dust would still exist) because he did not create it himself.
- In The Belgariad the evil god Torak believes that Dystopia Justifies the Means and wants a world bowing down to him in worship and making human sacrifices. His Dragon, Ctuchik, simply wants to rule the world and is willing to exploit Torak's religion to get what he wants.
- Littlefinger, of A Song of Ice and Fire, who has been specifically described as willing to burn down the Kingdom if it meant he could rule the ashes.
- Treadwell in David Weber's Path of the Fury has no real goal beyond becoming Emperor - he even plans on getting freely elected - and he has no qualms about committing multiplanetary genocide to get it done.
- In Doctor Who, the first part of a season finale, The Sound of Drums, ends with The Master taking over the world. His first order of business? "Remove one-tenth of the population."
- Then, in another season's first part of a finale episode, The End of Time, ends with The Master taking over the world... sound familiar? This time he changes everyone on planet Earth into himself, which effectively makes our species extinct.
- His main motivation here was never actually power, though—back when he had truly selfish motives, he usually focused on true immortality, to replace the limited Time Lord kind. He messes with Earth like that partly because it's fun, but mostly because it will hurt the Doctor. "Look, Theta! I can break your toys! Cry!"
- Game of Thrones: Varys comments that Littlefinger "would see this kingdom burn if he could be king of the ashes."
- Big Jim Rennie, of Under the Dome, starts to become this towards the end of the first season. It's made clear as early as the pilot that Big Jim wants more power over the closed-off town, though some of his actions throughout the season made him more sympathetic to viewers. However, his murder of Dodee the penultimate episode of season one, combined with his dialogue therein, is proof positive that he'd greatly prefer if the Dome never goes away, so long as he can continue to use mob mentality to manipulate the citizens of Chester's Mill.
- MVP's motivation for investing in TNA was to take ownership in a company after learning about and failing in the political aspect of wrestling. He became Operator Of Wrestling Operations and all was good but then he saw Donald Sterling lose ownership of his team, the Los Angeles Clippers, and realized being OOWO still wasn't enough control, he wanted control that he knew couldn't be taken away...
- Mage: The Awakening has the Seers of the Throne work to keep the population from achieving enlightenment, because that means mages out of their control.
- The collectible version of Illuminati offers the Power For Its Own Sake card, changing the goal of the game for its player into simple accumulation of power without regard for the conspiracy's ideology.
- One of the hats of Lawful Evil and sometimes even Lawful Neutral characters in Dungeons & Dragons and similar works: the goal is to be the one(s) in charge, and thus impose THEIR will into law. So maybe a few (thousand) innocents die along the way, and MAYBE an ancient civilization is burned to the ground, and okay so the entire plane has been thrown into upheaval because of who your backup army was and who your ultimate target was, but the point is you're the one calling the shots and things are going exactly according to YOUR plan.
- In BattleTech, the Succession Wars that followed the collapse of the Star League were a mass case of despotism. The rulers of each of the five Successor States wanted to be the ruler of a reborn Star League, and were willing to do anything to claim the title. The end result was 35 years of total warfare and war crimes that utterly devastated the scientific and technological base of humanity, leading to Lost Technology and a sharp decline in quality of life across known space, and ended up accomplishing nothing in the end beyond a total stalemate. Another two hundred years of war followed a brief interlude.
- Warhammer 40,000: While every person who falls to Chaos has a different motive (some genuinely want to reform the corrupt and dying Imperium, some want to make their lives better, some want to save their families...), in the end those who don't go insane pretty much all angle for ascension to daemonhood, becoming immortal and carving out their own corner of the Warp as their personal playground for eternity.
- In Hamlet when uncle Claudius poisons his brother the King and marries his wife. Aside from getting most of the main characters killed, he's not really a bad king.
- Macbeth, a loyal general that murders the King to replace him.
- And the title character of Richard III (in Shakespeare, no matter what you think of his Real Life counterpart) kills a great many people in order to become King of England, but is at a loss for what to do once he gets there (other than killing more people so he can stay there).
- Sonic the Hedgehog: Eggman seems to have this attitude towards his world conquest schemes. The Bad Future levels of Sonic CD are nothing but derelict, post-apocalyptic ruins, while in Sonic Lost World, when he makes his move after Sonic takes out the Deadly Six, he remarks that, while it's a pity that the Six have largely destroyed the world below, at least there's still enough of said world left for him to conquer.
- In Bioshock, for all Andrew Ryan's rhetoric about freedom, he certainly ended up resorting to a lot of totalitarian tactics. Up to and including political murder, kidnapping and slavery, and Mind Control. It's a pretty serious case of in-story Motive Decay.
- In Bioshock 2 we discover that he was also quite willing to subvert his economic views just as willingly to keep his powerbase from crumbling.
- This was also mentioned in one of the first game's audio diaries. His decision to put a presumed dead rival's business under government control (his control) prompted a formerly loyal aide to (unsuccessfully) assassinate Ryan.
- The novelization suggests Ryan's rhetoric was easily misunderstood: the core of his personal identity was that of the entirely self-made man who had never been helped by anybody and who had earned everything he could seize. In his view, freedom equated with survival of the fittest - which he clearly was. So as in a free society nobody could ever threaten his rule, threats were a sign outside forces were oppressing the people, including him. (He did also ridiculously screw up in assuming going underwater would minimize labor and lead to post-scarcity, of course.)
- The Shin Megami Tensei series has YHVH, who maintains the crapsack status of the SMT universe at large by involving everyone on his side, be it angel, Messian or whoever, in a Forever War with Lucifer out of an all-consuming desire to create a "perfect world" - a world where people can't do wrong. Not a world where they won't... they simply can't. A world where he can rule, forever and ever...
- The antagonists of Persona 5 all have this objective, to varying degrees, and they are willing to commit numerous atrocities and injustices in the name of protecting their positions or gaining more power. The most clear-cut example of this is Masayoshi Shido, a politician who seeks to become Prime Minister by absolutely any means necessary, up to and including destroying anyone who ever slights him or seems to pose a threat. His Palace is a Cruise Ship sailing over a sinking country, showing how his deepest desire is to stay afloat even if the entire nation around him is sinking.
- Bowser's ultimate goal in all Super Mario Bros. games is to rule over the whole world. In most games, he aims to rule the Mushroom Kingdom by forcing Princess Peach to marry him, but in the Super Mario Galaxy series and Yoshi's Island DS, he aims to rule the universe. To be fair, in the RPG games, it's made clear he also has a weird crush on Peach. Anyway, New Super Mario Bros. U shows what he will do with the Mushroom Kingdom once he has it: Turn it into a classic World 8 Lethal Lava Land, much like his home kingdom.
- In Super Paper Mario, Dimentio wants to destroy all worlds, and replace them with "perfect new ones."
- StarCraft: Arcturus Mengsk let the Zerg kill off the oppressive Confederacy, so he could create his Terran Dominion.
- The agenda of the Illuminati in the first Deus Ex is to achieve global dominance by showing themselves as the only force capable of ending crucial problems. Problems they created for this exact purpose, including bio-engineered virulent disease, economical collapse, supporting terrorism and widespread narcotics use.
- This seems to be the primary goal of Handsome Jack in Borderlands 2. He plans to use an alien superweapon to conquer Pandora (and eventually entire galaxies) despite the fact that as the president of the most powerful Mega Corp. in the game he's already at a position of nigh-untouchable power.
- In World of Warcraft, one of the villain races of the fourth expansion, The Mogu, have this motivation. This in contrast to fellow villain races, the Sha who want to corrupt or kill everyone, and the Mantid who seek to become stronger as a race, via training from hell and the culling of their weak, to better serve their Old God Master. Nope, clearly they just want to be the ones in charge, and consider every other race to be unfit to rule and that they should be enslaved, even tough many of them have proven to be strong enough to fight them in equal standing. Even within their own society, this ideology is what drives them, and for a ruling dynasty to be replaced requires an aspirant to succesfully perform a Klingon Promotion on them.
- However it seems that the Mogu got this as an in-universe example of motive decay, because the founder of their empire, the Thunder King Lei Shen, had another justification to enslave other races and build his empire through unholy means, and his succesors didn't quite understand (willingly or not) what he was trying to do. See his entry under Blue and Orange Morality for more details.
- This is also why Kil'jaeden found Gul'dan a more useful pawn to control the orcs than Nerz'hul. While Nerz'hul had to be tricked and manipulated into attacking the draenai (because his main motivation was to protect his people), Gul'dan only wanted more power, so Kil'jaeden didn't have to mince words over what he wanted.
- Depending on your own motivation and how you treat the minor factions, choosing the Independent route in Fallout: New Vegas can go this way. The NCR, Legion and House all try to build a world according to their own vision, whereas the player may want to steal House's position and screw over the other groups simply because they want to be in charge.
- The Ur-Didact's primary goal is to restore the Forerunners' former glory, and ensure that they alone wield the Mantle of Responsibility. By eliminating not just the Flood, but humanity too. This is due in part of his Mind Rape by the Gravemind.
- The High Prophets of Truth, Regret, and Mercy commanded the Covenant Empire to wipe out humanity, because they found out that humans are the rightful inheritors of the Forerunners' legacy, and this revelation would shatter the Prophets' rule over the Covenant. They are willing to glass entire worlds to eliminate every last human, and have no problem in disposing of their own forces, or backstabbing each other.
- Resident Evil 6: Carla Radames' ultimate goal with the C-Virus outbreaks is simply to wipe out civilization completely and rule over the chaos that remains.
- Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening: Arkham's entire plot is nothing more than to steal Sparda's power for himself and become a god.
- The Legend of Zelda: Ganondorf's goal is to rule the entire world by obtaining the Triforce to give him the power to do so. Wind Waker later expands upon this: He originally envied the Hylians for their lush green lands while his people, the Gerudo, were forced to be Desert Bandits, so he devised a plan to take over Hyrule with the Triforce. But eventually, his lust for power overtook his original desires, leading to him commanding hordes of monsters and demons in his bid for power.
Midna: Traitors, ha! You want to know why none would call you king? It was your eyes, Zant. All saw it, a lust for power burning in your pupils... Did you think we'd forget our ancestors lost their king to such greed?
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: After defeating Zant, Midna outright spells it out for him that this trope is why he was passed over for the Twilight Realm's throne in favor of her: because he only wanted the throne for the power.
- Everything the Grandmaster from Strider does is only to satisfy his inmense overblown ego and ambitions of godhood, humanity be damned. He took over the world, but felt entirely unsatisfied because he wanted everyone on the planet to accept his rule, something practically impossible due to those who openly opposed him and those who weren't civilized enough to understand him. So what did he decided to do? incinerate all life on the planet, the "Sons of Old Gods", then use his life-creating powers to repoblate the planet with a new human race which would all worship him as a New God.
- And then, it gets worse. At some point his plans succeed and, 2000 years later in Strider 2, the world is inhabited by a new, artificial humanity which worships him as their Creator. What does he do once he awakes in this world, after a two-millenia sleep? He finds its corruption and decadent state so beyond repair that he simply decides to destroy the planet and leave to find a new planet to start the process all over again.
- In DEFCON - Everybody Dies, you play as a Non-Entity General in a nuclear command center at the start of an escalating war. Your goal is to ensure the communists/capitalists/whatever die in a nuclear fire, leaving your country as the only power left in the world. In the "Diplomacy" mode, everyone is in an alliance at the start as it breaks down, leading you to backstab your allies. "Genocide" scoring grants points to whoever has the highest bodycount, without the usual score penalty for losing your own cities.
- A rare main character example in Threads of Fate with Mint's main goal being world domination. She never elaborates on what she would do with the world, but we do know she wants to go back to her former princess life and get back at her sister for taking her place as the heir.
- Street Fighter III has Urien, the younger brother of Gill. While Gill is a Well-Intentioned Extremist, Urien simply wants to acquire power for himself and rule over the world with an iron fist.
- In Sinfest, Monique declares she will do this.
- In The Order of the Stick
- Elan's father Tarquin believes in this, despite paying lip service to the notion of people needing a strong orderly society imposed on them for their own good. He maintains a rotating system of brutal puppet states in constant war, with himself and his allies as The Man Behind the Man for disposable Decoy Leaders, just so he can live the high life until some hero finally kills him.
- Daimyo Kubota is a pretty extreme example: he schemes to take Lord Shojo's place as ruler of Azure City, even after the city falls to Redcloak's army and is evacuated — apparently a now meaningless title is still worth killing for to him.
- This is the motivation of Fire Lord Ozai of Avatar: The Last Airbender, in contrast to his Well-Intentioned Extremist grandfather Sozin. To drive the point home, he relinquishes the title of Fire Lord to his daughter Azula and declares himself the Phoenix King.
- Unalaq from The Legend of Korra is also driven by lust for power. He underhandedly got his brother banished from the Northern Water Tribe so he could become chief, and later manipulated said brother's daughter, the Avatar repeatedly in order to further his goal: to become the Avatar of Vaatu, spirit of evil, and rule the entire world.
- The Earth Queen is the complete opposite of her father, being a greedy tyrant who taxed her citizens to oblivion to fund her lavish lifestyle, undid all the progress that her father did (believing that Aang openly exploited his weak-willed nature) and is not above exploiting her power to create a secret army of airbenders. Her tyranny is ended by Zaheer, who as a Bomb Throwing Anarchist is the most unlikely type of person to be intimidated by her.
- Eric Cartman from South Park performs all sorts of heinous acts for the sole purpose of uprooting his own ego by taking control of either the school or the hometown, whether it's manipulating fear-induced, religious devotion in order to make $10,000,000 in "Probably", slandering segments of the student body to become class president in "Dancing With Smurfs", or making money off of crack babies in "Crack Baby Athletic Association".
- The Sonic SatAM incarnation of Dr. Robotnik flirts between this and Dystopia Justifies the Means. While the "Blast to the Past" two-parter showed that Robotnik took pleasure in the polluted wasteland he was about to create, in the present, he seems to be mostly concerned with being the one ruling over Mobius.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic gave us Nightmare Moon who wanted to rule because she felt unappreciated, Discord who wanted to rule so he could tear shit up, and Queen Chrysalis who wanted to rule to feed herself and her subjects, and then it gave us Tirek who firmly fit this trope. He wanted to drain the magic out of every single pony in the world, both making him absurdly powerful as well as giving him full control over weather, seasons, plant life, and basically everything the ponies do (since they can't do it any longer). He seemed to have no grand plans above and beyond "Get power, get control, ????? PROFIT!!!"