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[[quoteright:204:[[Webcomic/EvilInc http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/heroesbuyevilinc_1951.gif]]]]
[-[[caption-width-right:204:[[EvenEvilHasStandards How are villains supposed to defend themselves from]] [[EvilLawyerJoke lawyers?]]]]-]

->''"There is power in control. There is wisdom in harnessing the strengths of your enemy."''
-->-- '''Commander Shepard''', ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' [[note]][[https://youtu.be/lX7HDcvw2pk?t=107 Paragon, Control Ending]][[/note]]

There's a NebulousEvilOrganization, often run by an EvilOverlord and chock full of [[PsychoForHire Psychos for Hire]] and legions of mooks. And then one day, either as part of an EvilPlan or out of [[EnemyMine dire necessity]], our heroes end up running it! Often they jump at the chance because now all those [[OffscreenVillainDarkMatter resources]] can be turned to good, or simply out of a belief that nothing else works: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

This is rarely an easy task, of course: the bulk of the conspiracy is still made up of evildoers and scum, and solo heroes may well end up with TrueCompanions who are all {{Poisonous Friend}}s. Sometimes the hero will even need to hide their real motives from their assorted underlings. This plot can also often involve the hero becoming [[TheManBehindTheMan the Man In Front of the Man]] and having to answer to TheOmniscientCouncilOfVagueness.

Most of the time, the plot is about the heroes risking corruption; occasionally, though, the hero is playing a BatmanGambit of their own, banking on either crippling the evil organization or genuinely making it a force for good.

This sometimes overlaps with MoleInCharge.

'''Spoilers ahead.'''



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Averted in ''Manga/AirGear'': Ikki is asked to take the position as leader of Genesis, but he turns it down.
* In ''Anime/CodeGeass'', Lelouch has been fighting Britannia's tyranny; later, he [[spoiler:succeeds Charles as emperor, and plays the part of EvilOverlord in a GenghisGambit for world peace.]]
* In ''VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry'', for several reasons, Battler ends up arguing for the Witches' side in Episodes 5 and 6 of the VisualNovel.
* ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagicaTheMovieRebellion'' has [[spoiler:a self-inflicted version taken UpToEleven with Akuma Homura - the evolution of DarkMagicalGirl Homura into a ''SatanicArchetype'' out of the belief she needed to do so in order to save her friend and probable lover. PlayedWith, in that it's also implied her motive was a ''misunderstanding'' (the conversation that convinced her to betray Madoka was with her pre-CharacterDevelopment NaiveEverygirl version who was trying to cheer her up) and it's made quite clear that part of it is still massively selfish (she links her own happiness to Madoka's safety so utterly she dismisses the idea of letting her be free out of hand).]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* For a while Comicbook/{{Daredevil}} ran the evil ninja assassins called the Hand.
* This is the entire premise of ''ComicBook/AgentsOfAtlas''.
* In ''ComicBook/SupermanAndBatmanGenerations'', Bruce Wayne accepts Ra's al-Ghul's offer of succeeding him as the head of the League of Shadows, then changes it from a legion of assassins into a benevolent superpower. This turned out to be fairly simple; it was just a process of taking the cover organizations they used to aid in their evil plans and making them legit.
* In ''Franchise/{{Superman}}: [[ComicBook/NewKrypton World of New Krypton]]'', General Zod is severely injured before he can unleash his plan to invade Earth. While he recovers, the supreme commander of New Krypton's military forces is ... Commander Kal-El. Kryptonian foreign policy suddenly becomes a lot more diplomatic; unfortunately, it's temporary.
* After "The five books of Blood," DC heroine [[Comicbook/TheQuestion Renee Montoya]] finds herself the leader of the [[ReligionOfEvil "Religion of Crime"]] that she had been hunting down for more than a year because she (accidentally) [[YouKillItYouBoughtIt caused the death of their previous leader]].
* In the MarvelUniverse, the Shroud set up a gang called the Night Shift. The other members thought they were preying on the organised crime gangs of LA so they could take over the city. Actually, he was just using them to shut down organised crime in LA.
* In ''ComicBook/TheSandman'', after [[{{Satan}} Lucifer]] quits, throws everyone out of Hell, and hands the keys over to Morpheus, God decides that Hell will be run directly by Heaven from now on and appoints two angels to be his overseers there.
** Later it's revealed that only one of these angels was properly good. The other was indecisive, having stayed impartial from the original War in Heaven and picking the winning side as soon as it came apparent. He develops some serious SmugSnake and HolierThanThou tendencies soon enough after taking charge of Hell.
** The good angel was also the one who had the courage to take the key to Hell. The other one whimpered, wailed, and even considered following Lucifer's example by rebelling against God before resigning himself to his duty.
* In the ''ComicBook/LeagueOfExtraordinaryGentlemen'', it was revealed that Moriarty was a member of British Intelligence who took over Britain's organized crime networks as part of a plan to keep crime in the country within limits. Unfortunately, he ended up BecomingTheMask, at which point he was stopped first by Franchise/SherlockHolmes, and then by the League.
* "Good" is a stretch in this case, but at one point ''ThePunisher'' took over a mafia family so use their resources to take even worse criminals out.
* In ''Comicbook/GhostRider'', Noble Kale takes over Mephisto's realm, which effectively put an end to Mephisto and Blackheart for good, or would have if {{StatusQuo|IsGod}} wasn't so prevalent in Marvel comics. So he was kicked out of hell by demons for being ''too benevolent'' for their tastes and later disappeared into comic book limbo while Mephisto and Blackheart returned.

[[folder:Fan Fic]]
* This is basically what FanFic/DungeonKeeperAmi is all about, by taking a through-and-through good girl like Ami and forcing to use the most hated powers of the land to survive. [[RuleOfCool In an Awesome Manner.]]

* The end of ''Film/EasternPromises'' reveals that [[spoiler: Nikolai is an undercover law-enforcement agent]], and is likely to (at some point in the future) end up running the organisation.
* In ''Film/TheChroniclesOfRiddick'', Riddick becomes the new ruler of the evil Necromonger army after he kills their leader, [[BlackAndGrayMorality although it's debatable just how "good" Riddick actually is]].

* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' features a variation where [[spoiler:Daenerys conquers a slave city using an army of slaves she bought and then freed, and then decides to settle down and rule rather than leave its people to starve. She then has to deal with the city itself, whose entire economy depended on slavery. Like most of Martin's works, institutional problems prove hard to fix from the top down.]]
* In ''Literature/SwordOfTruth'', [[spoiler:Richard [[strike:Cypher]] Rahl is given control of his ancestral nation of [[TheEmpire D'Hara]], as well as an entire legion of [[ColdBloodedTorture Cold Blooded Torturing]] [[BreakTheCutie Broken Cuties]], the Mord-Sith.]]
* In ''Literature/AtlasShrugged'', the looters eventually capture John Galt because they want him to be their new leader. He refuses.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Angel}}''. In Season 5, Team Angel are put in charge of the Los Angeles branch of supernatural law firm Wolfram & Hart. It doesn't work well, with our heroes finding themselves increasingly morally compromised and demoralized. Wolfram & Hart were fairly open about this being the point of giving them the job.
* ''Series/ThePrisoner'' episode "Free For All": Number 6 is elected to the position of Number 2, technically putting him in charge of the Village.
* In ''Series/{{Chuck}}'', [[spoiler: Mary Bartowski is right-hand man of Alexei Volkoff, head of Volkoff Industries.]]
* In ''Series/{{Torchwood}}'', Captain Jack was pressured into working for Torchwood Three back when it was still a conspiracy to seize alien tech for the British Empire and hunt down the Doctor. He was given the opportunity to reinvent the organization when [[spoiler: its previous leader went mad after seeing the future and killed everyone]].
* In ''Series/{{Arrow}}'', Ollie nearly ends up running the League of Assassins after the current Ra's al Ghul makes him his heir (in their duel, he'd handed Ollie a total CurbStompBattle but considered Oliver's ''survival'' proof of his worth.) Oliver is told that when he's officially in charge, his desires will be law, even if it's to become a lawkeeping force under the Arrow. What keeps him from taking over and trying to turn the League into HeroesRUs? Mainly, their tradition to destroy the hometown of a new leader in order to sever all past ties. Uh-oh.
* In ''Series/{{Supergirl}}'' the Department of Extranormal Operations was founded specifically to act as a counter to Superman if necessary, which evolved into a KnightTemplar organization that considered ''all'' extraterrestrials as threats, run by rabid bigot Hank Henshaw who saw its responsibility as protecting humans from aliens at almost any cost. When J'onn J'onzz secretly replaced Henshaw, he was obviously able to quietly adjust its mission and personnel to the point that when Supergirl became active the DEO aided her, and when he was outed as a Martian the majority of people within the organization took it in stride and cheered when he was formally re-instated as director under his true name. The DEO has since become one of the biggest ''protectors'' of law-abiding and innocent extraterrestrials in the United States.

[[folder:Mythology & Religion]]
* There is one train of philosophical thought that proposes this is how Heaven and Hell work. If God is all powerful, and if He created everything, and if He has a plan for everything, then logically Hell operates because God wants it to operate. And since God's plan predetermines everything that happens in the universe, this includes everything that happens in ''Hell'', too. Thus, God is actually running Hell[[note]]Technically Hell does not exist yet: people are to be sorted into Heaven or Hell on Judgement's Day and no earlier. But he ''will'' be running Hell[[/note]]. As well as every single evil organization, evil person, or evil action, ever. This oddity is known as "the problem of evil." Traditional Calvinism took it to the extreme of saying God had predestined everyone's fate, including what actions they would take to save or damn them, and that one could guess who "the elect" (i.e. those going to heaven) would be by their upright, successful lives, versus the damned having the exact opposite.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* In ''MagicTheGathering'''s ''Ravnica'' cycle, Jarad takes over as Guildmaster of the Golgari after Savra is defeated.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''[[VideoGame/HeroesOfMightAndMagic Heroes Chronicles: The Sword of Frost]]'' has [[TheHero Tarnum]] disguise himself as a [[EvilOverlord Nighon Overlord]] and lead its AlwaysChaoticEvil inhabitants to save the world.
* The ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' DLC "Lair of the Shadow Broker" ends with Commander Shepard and [[spoiler: Liara T'soni killing the Shadow Broker and Liara deciding to take over his organization and use it to help Shepard fight the Reapers.]]
** In the end of ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'', [[spoiler: one of the three options to stop the Reaper threat is to upload Shepard's consciousness to control them. The consequences of this are never shown though in the original ending, with the exception of the Reapers leaving. In the Extended Cut version of this ending, the resulting Reaper-Shepard consciousness has the Reapers repair all the damage they caused and vows to honor the sacrifice the human Shepard made by defending the galaxy.]]
* At the end of ''VideoGame/{{Outlast}}'', [[spoiler:Miles ends up becoming the new host for the Walrider, and is last seen during the ''Whistleblower'' DLC using his newfound powers to take vengeance on all the bastards at Murkoff who put him and the other inmates through a living hell.]]
* ''VideoGame/StarWarsTheOldRepublic''
** A Light side Smuggler is a Republic patriot and fairly honest person...who still gets to run most of the criminal underworld. Likewise, their companion Risha gets her own empire to run.
** A Light Side Sith Inquisitor will be one of the two most powerful people in the Empire by the endgame, and the closest they get to being evil is immense sarcasm.
* In the Open Palm ("light sided") ending of ''VideoGame/JadeEmpire'', the thief Sky takes up running his archenemy's criminal empire. Seems Creator/BioWare has a soft spot for this trope.
* A [[WhiteAndGreyMorality variation]] occurs in ''VideoGame/TalesOfTheAbyss''. The BigBad is actually a WellIntentionedExtremist manipulating a monster.
* [[Franchise/MortalKombat Sub-Zero]] went from being a renegade on the run from the Lin Kuei, a shady assassin clan from China, to becoming the clan's leader and changing its purpose to protecting Earthrealm from outside threats.
* At the end of ''[[VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft Wrath of the Lich King,]]'' the titular Lich King is defeated. But ''somebody'' has to be in charge of the hordes of ravenous undead crawling around the planet, or the effects will be worse than the original war. So [[spoiler: Bolvar Fordragon]] takes on the mantle of the Lich King, proclaiming himself the "Jailor of the Damned."
* [[MultipleEndings Depending on how you play]] Mike Thorton of ''VideoGame/AlphaProtocol'' can end up running Halbech... or all sorts of organizations really, at the end of the game.
* ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls''
** Throughout the series, you can choose to play as a good character, an evil character, or any shade of gray in between. If you choose to play as a "good" character, you can still rise to the top of multiple "evil" organizations, such as the Dark Brotherhood (an [[MurderInc assassin's guild]] doubling as a ReligionOfEvil) and the ThievesGuild (which has rules like [[ThouShallNotKill no-killing]] but is still a group centered around stealing the property of others). This also works in reverse, as you can be an outright evil character who murders unprovoked and steals everything that isn't nailed down, yet rise to the top of several "good" factions like honorable warrior guilds and temple organizations, as long as you don't kill or steal from your fellow members.
** In ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion Oblivion]]'''s ''Knights of the Nine'' expansion, a certain quest wipes away your infamy and is supposed to offer redemption for evil characters. You can be the most thoroughly cruel Dark Brotherhood assassin and head of the Thieves' Guild, but complete the quest and be seen as a virtuous, noble paragon.

* While ''Webcomic/{{Drowtales}}'' is a GreyAndGrayMorality, the Vloz'ress clan is pretty much the [[FantasyCounterpartCulture nation - equivalent]] of a VillainousHarlequin. After [[spoiler: the death of Sene'kha, the real power behind the throne,]] Lavova tries to take over, only to find EnsembleDarkHorse [[http://www.drowtales.com/mainarchive.php?id=1429 Kiel waiting for her]].

[[folder: Western Animation]]
* [[spoiler: Prince Zuko]] of ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' technically ends up in this role in the finale. While the Fire Nation is an evil, corrupt, warmongering empire, it's explicitly pointed out that this is because propaganda has raised everyone to believe its necessary, even good. They aren't AlwaysChaoticEvil. [[spoiler: Zuko]] himself spent about two and a half seasons realizing it was wrong, and eventually pulled a HeelFaceTurn. When the finale comes around and Team Avatar places him in charge, he's more than happy to rebuild the nation. Follow-up comics make it clear how very, ''very'' hard this is, especially when everyone has been conditioned to hate you ''and'' you're simultaneously trying to fix an entire nation while not being as authoritarian as your father (though canonically he survives, abdicates his position to his daughter, and is still traveling as an ambassador at ninety-three, as per [[WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra the sequel show]]).