In Their Own Image

Yes... I, Grodus, will build a new world! A perfect, ideal world, made by me, about me, and FOR me!

So things aren't going too well for you. Maybe you want to turn over a new leaf. Maybe you want to start your life anew. Instead, maybe you don't want to half-ass it, you want make all life anew. Or, you could just be a Card-Carrying Villain. This trope is when a character gets the bright idea to go back to the beginning of time, or a foundational event in the timeline, because their mere presence or actions will cause For Want of a Nail to its logical extreme.

Usually the result is some form of Villain World.

Compare "End of the World" Special for when it is the protagonists who remake the world in their own image.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & manga 

    Comic books 
  • In an issue of The Incredible Hulk the Leader goes back to make everyone a gamma freak (they'll turn out Leaders, Hulks, or Abominations) and Hulk & the Avengers go back to stop him.
  • Sise-Neg from a Doctor Strange story in the Marvel Universe. Note that Sise-Neg is "genesis" spelled backwards.
  • In The DCU's Crisis Crossover Zero Hour, Hal Jordan as Parallax tried to go back to the big bang and reboot the universe the way he wanted it. This resulted in another Cosmic Retcon and a partial Continuity Reboot to several DC series (Hawkman and Legion of Super-Heroes, most notably).
  • The Anti-Monitor did this in Crisis on Infinite Earths after his original plans to destroy all universes were defeated by superheroes. He is stopped again, but random changes (most notably the elimination of all Parallel Earths) happened as a result.

    Fan fiction 
  • Fanfic version: In the Undocumented Features arc Twilight (no relation), Loki sneaks into the building containing the supercomputer Yggdrasil, planning on reprogramming it to grant him infinite cosmic power. However, Urd stops him.
  • In Fallen King, Pegasus's ultimate goal is to rewrite the world according to his rules.

  • In the Corwin part of The Chronicles of Amber series, the evil half-brother, Brand, seeks to re-create the universe to his own image by re-drawing the Pattern.
    • When the Pattern is damaged, there's some debate between various characters as to whether to attempt to repair it or destroy it and draw a new one, effectively rebooting the universe. Corwin actually does draw a new one when he believes the original is destroyed (it turns out it wasn't), which is revealed in the sequel series to have spawned an alternate universe.
  • In Sonic's UK book Sonic In the Fourth Dimension, a band of imaginary beings, the Mythos creatures, were facing Fantastic Racism. They attempted this in order to finally live in the "real" universe and have a place to call home. Instead, a compromise was agreed upon, and they could freely half of Fourth Dimension that they were just being persecuted in before, as the dimension is basically an infinite stretch of floors, corridors and offices.
  • Played with in Eric by Terry Pratchett. The not-really-evil conjurer demands Rincewind make him live forever, which means starting at the beginning of creation..... Mayonnaise ensues.
  • Subverted in the 2nd Dragonlance trilogy, the Twins set, when Tasslehoff ends up in the future, and manages to get to a pivotal point in time to avert said future. He makes Raistlin, who is altering the timelines, discard his plan to become a god by convincing Raistlin that Raistlin, even as a god, will NEVER be able to create life.
  • In The Wheel of Time, the Dark One would do this if it ever got free. During their final battle, it torments Rand by showing him two possibilities it might realize- the first is a dystopian hellscape ruled by the Forsaken, and the second seems normal enough... until it's revealed that the entire human race have had their sense of right and wrong and empathy removed, turning them into heartless sociopaths just like the Dark One itself. In both cases, history was rewritten so that no one realized anything was wrong. The second vision was so bad that Rand produced a world where he did this, by making it so that the Dark One had never existed. Except it turns out that the Dark One is necessary for free will, so that everyone in Rand's "perfect" world was only eternally good and happy because he'd essentially brainwashed them to be like that. Cue My God, What Have I Done?.
  • The Belgariad has The Prophecy, or rather the two prophecies, which are to some degree compatible (due to vague, cryptic, figurative language) up to a particular event. When this event (the meeting of Belgarion and the Maimed God Torak) occurs, they disagree on the outcome, and diverge wildly from there. It's implied that outcome of this even will rewrite all of history so that the prophecy with the correct prediction of the battle is spot on. Among other things, if Torak wins, Belgarion's "aunt" Polgara will become Torak's bride, and despite how much she hates and despises him now will have always loved him unreservedly. The Prophecies are implied to be living, sentient entities, not just a collection of sayings, which makes this example fit the trope even better.

    Live-Action TV 

     Professional wrestling 
  • Through the Prophecy, this was the Fallen Angel Christopher Daniels's plan for Ring of Honor.
  • Kevin Steen wanted to do this to the entire pro wrestling industry, starting with Ring of Honor and Chikara. He wanted to take Eddie Kingston along, who he already felt was "in his own image" but Kingston, being the first Chikara grand champion, kind of liked the place the way it was and had just starting learning to love ROH too.

    Video games 
  • Paper Mario series:
  • This is Bowser's plan, believe it or not, in Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel.
  • SHODAN, after having the player fight off the Annalids, tries to take control of the hyperspace module to rewrite the universe to her specifications.
  • The Dark Voice from Starcraft seems to fit this pretty well.
  • This is the point of the Reasons in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. Each Reason holder seeks to re-create the world according to their guiding philosophy. The only one who attempts this and fails is Yuko Takao, who believes that her God will tell her the Reason, failing to realize that she is meant to come up with it herself. However, the MC can still unlock it as an available ending. It's worth mentioning that her motivation is relatively unselfish compared to the others: she's only trying to undo her mistake by restoring the world to the way it was.
  • Cyrus, leader of Pokemon Diamond And Pearl's Team Galactic, attempts to use the Legendary Pokémon of Time and Space in order to remake the universe in his image, without "spirit".
  • In the Marathon series, this is the final resolution of any AI that goes Rampant - to escape the heat-death of the universe and shape the one that follows. To quote Durandal, "Escape would make me a god."

    Web comics 

    Western animation 
  • In an episode of Aladdin: The Series, Abis Mal gets his hands on a time travel device and decides to go back to the day Agrabah was founded, so that he could found it instead of the ancestors of the current Sultan. Instead, he ends up squabbling with his ancestor and not really getting anything done, before Aladdin shows up to take the time travel device away and set everything right.
  • In Justice League, this turns out to be the overarching scheme of Darkseid: He will discover the Anti-Life equation and use it to destroy reality itself, before commandeering the re-creation process and rebuilding it in his image and create a universe of perfect order and obedience.
    • One-off villain Lord Chronos tried this using his time-travel suit, a far cry from his original hobby of going back to steal objects no one would ever miss.
    • After being taken over by Brainiac, Luthor asks what the plan is after analyzing and destroying all worlds. When it turns out he doesn't have one, Luthor suggests they do this, and Brainiac acquiesces. As a result, Superman's "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight appeal fails miserably.
  • In Pinky and the Brain, the Brain once went back in time to make a world ruled by mice. He succeeded, but changed his mind when he ended up with a world full of Pinkies.
  • In the X-Men animated series, Apocalypse steals Cable's time travel device in the far future, and travels to a temporal center called the Axis of Time. He kidnaps psychics from all eras in history, and then uses their combined power to wipe out all reality so he can rebuild it to his choosing.
  • One The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron/Fairly OddParents special had Professor Calamitous planning to use Jorgen's powers to do this.
  • One episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy had Billy stranded back in time and fall in love with a cavewoman. When we get back to the present, everyone looks and acts like Billy.