->''"In a room sit three great men: a king, a priest, and a rich man with his gold. Between them stands a sellsword, a little man of common birth and no great mind. Each of the great ones bids him slay the other two. 'Do it,' says the king, 'for I am your lawful ruler.' 'Do it,' says the priest, 'for I command you in the names of the gods.' 'Do it,' says the rich man, 'and all this gold shall be yours.' So tell me -- who lives and who dies?"''
-->-- '''Varys''', ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire''

A Kingmaker Scenario occurs when two sides in a conflict are [[BalanceOfPower evenly matched]] and [[MeleeATrois the third one]] is unable to overpower the other two. The third power then becomes the "King Maker": while it cannot win itself, it can ally itself with one of the other two, breaking the stalemate and bringing victory to its chosen side ([[AwesomeMomentOfCrowning "crowning them king"]]). The term "kingmaker scenario" comes from the game theory and was most likely inspired by [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Neville,_16th_Earl_of_Warwick Richard Neville]] a.k.a. [[TropeNamer Warwick the Kingmaker]], who, while not suitable for the British throne himself (owing to a lack of RoyalBlood), installed and deposed two sovereigns in short succession during the UsefulNotes/WarsOfTheRoses.

In multiplayer games, a King Maker is a player who, while unable to win himself, is able (or forced) to determine which of the other players will win. This will usually end up being the one who the "kingmaker" likes more at the time. This scenario is disliked by players except in games where personal politics play a role in the game's outcome by design (such as ''TabletopGame/{{Diplomacy}}''), and a game where such a scenario occurs frequently is referred to as having the "Kingmaker Problem".

The kingmaker problem has roughly three degrees of severity, from worst to least-worst:
* The king-chooser who ''must'' declare another player the winner of the game without gaining anything for himself. Example: A rule that says "Award one point to the player to your right or your left" when both are one point away from winning. As this makes the game come down to "Who do I like more?", it's usually considered bad form in game design.
* The king-maker who ''may'' declare another player the winner of the game without gaining anything for himself. Example: A player who has no chance of winning can throw all his military might against another player so they are both weakened and can be scooped up by a third player, just to make the game end faster. While the problem is nearly impossible to avoid, the usual motivation behind it can be circumvented by not making players feel they have no chance at winning before the game is over.
* The king-breaker who ''may'' make it impossible or at least harder for another player to win without being in a position to profit from it. Example: A rule that says "Take one point from the player to your right or your left" when you're still trailing far behind them and the unhindered one will likely win. This is the least of the kingmaking sins and very hard to avoid because doing so also kills many completely fine game mechanics.

A more detailed examination of possible Kingmaker Scenarios can be found [[http://ynnen.blogspot.com/2005/08/king-is-dead-long-live-king-kingmaking.html in this article]], at least until the link dies. A subtrope of MeleeATrois. Compare XMustNotWin. The party that makes the difference may be VicariouslyAmbitious for one of the sides in the stalemate.

Compare and contrast OfferedTheCrown and UnexpectedSuccessor, when one or all of the involved sides decide to [[TakeAThirdOption install an outsider candidate to settle on]].

Since real-life examples tend to degenerate into a political Administrivia/ConversationInTheMainPage, '''[[Administrivia/NoRealLifeExamplesPlease they have been deemed unnecessary]]'''. [[noreallife]]



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In the fourth round of ''Manga/LiarGame'', Akiyama's group become this by having control of their own 5 man alliance and the Extras alliance.
* In ''Manga/RequiemOfTheRoseKing'' there are several scenarios with a king maker, who is the trope namer himself.
* During the Freeza Saga of ''Anime/DragonBallZ'', Vegeta tries to convince Krillin, Gohan, and Dende that they are in this position; they can't defeat Freeza on their own, but they ''can'' help Vegeta wish for immortality so that ''he'' can defeat Freeza. They're understandably reluctant, but end up going along with it - except [[spoiler: Guru passes away right before they can make the third wish.]]
* ''Anime/SengokuOtome'' has UsefulNotes/OdaNobunaga faced with UsefulNotes/TakedaShingen and UsefulNotes/UesugiKenshin. Both of them hold a part of the [[MacGuffin Crimson Armour]] that Nobunaga is trying to complete; [[YinYangClash being Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin]], they've fought 598 fights to 598 ''draws''. UsefulNotes/AkechiMitsuhide thus proposes that they join forces with one, claim the Armour piece of the other as spoils of war, and request the Armour piece of the first as payment. [[DefiedTrope Nobunaga takes away her glasses for even suggesting it]].
* In ''Manga/{{Yu-Gi-Oh}}'', this came into play when Seto wrested control of [=KaibaCorp=] from Gozaburo. Seto formed a voting bloc with the five department heads, controlling 49% of the shares between them. Gozaburo holds another 49% himself, meaning that the remaining 2%, held by Mokuba, determined who would become the new CEO.

[[folder:Card Games]]
* This can come up in multi-player ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'' games. If one plays frequent games with more than two players, Kingmaker decks can become handy things to have...
** Especially common in the popular Commander format, which is intended to be multi-player from the get-go. It's a frequent occurrence where one player has the resource to defeat one other player, but not all of them, and is in a position to be defeated by any of those players regardless of who he or she takes out first.
** Since the game is resource-based and is timed on a turn-by-turn basis, it's actually not that uncommon for the kingmaker to turn the tables on his ally and claim victory for himself. (E.g: if the victor of the stalemate spends all his resources to beat the stalemate, leaving himself vulnerable to the kingmaker)
* This is at the heart of ''TabletopGame/ApplesToApples'', which switches which player is the "kingmaker" every round. The main strategy of the game is appealing to the judge's ideas of a given quality.
** Played properly, though, the judge doesn't know who played which cards until he picks the winner.
* In three-person TabletopGame/{{Kaiser}}, a player with the 5 and the 3 but an otherwise weak hand is in this position. In the standard four-person version, they're simply a support to their ally.
* The ''TabletopGame/VampireTheEternalStruggle'' CCG is designed around this. In multiplayer games, the rules dictate that a player can attack the player on his left on his turn, and '''only''' that player. In return, he need only defend himself from attacks by the player on his right. (Hunter > Player > Hunted, proceeding clockwise.) This leads to ''(and indeed, the game encourages)'' discussions, arguments, and deal-making among the players, as a player can offer not to attack his target, leaving the target free to devote resources to attacking his own target, or the player can offer concessions to keep another player off his back while he launches a full-fledged assault. In addition, when a player is eliminated, the hunting order skips over him to the next player, making long-term planning a must.
** Also relevant is that the rules specify a way for a player to withdraw from the game ''without'' necessarily losing, though not to reenter. In fact, the first player out of the game could end up as the winner (though that's unlikely). The possibility of players having in-game motivations other than to be the "last one left" makes the game even more political.
* It is commonly accepted that in {{TabletopGame/Munchkin}}, you need at least one other player helping you if you want to make the jump from level 9 to 10.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In the ''Manga/DeathNote'' [[SleazyPolitician Political]] [[AlternateUniverseFic AU]] ''Fanfic/ThoseWhoStandForNothingFallForAnything'' [[DudeWheresMyRespect L doesn't get the respect he deserves]] because he's openly gay but he has enough power and influence to greatly help Light's career.
* The basic plot of ''Fanfic/TheKeysStandAlone''. Everything seems to have stalled between the Power Groups competing to bring down the Black Tower, so the four are brought into the mix and told to throw their support behind one of the groups. The four aren't powerful enough to bring down the Black Tower themselves, but they have enough power that their support should tip the scales in someone's favor.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/TheGoodTheBadAndTheUgly''. Both Angel Eyes and Tuco know the name of the grave site - Blondie is initially disadvantaged as he only knows the name on the grave itself, but will eventually become the Kingmaker and the other two know this. After Angel Eyes finds out Tuco's half of the secret, the film spends a little time watching the two fighting over who gets Blondie. (He sides with [[spoiler: Tuco in the end,]] but out of choice. No-one gets to tell the Man With No Name what to do.)
* Inverted in the ending of Creator/GoreVidal's ''The Best Man'', in which two presidential candidates, played by Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson, are tied in their race for the nomination. [[spoiler:Fonda's idealist, unwilling to falsely smear Robertson's sleazoid as a homosexual in order to win, yet also unwilling to let Robertson win the nomination on the strength of allegations regarding Fonda's medical history, throws his support to the dark horse candidate who has been mired in third place throughout the balloting, who goes on to win.]]
* At the end of ''Film/TheChroniclesOfRiddick'', in the final fight between Riddick and the Lord Marshall, [[spoiler:he gets [[FlashStep caught in mid-teleport]] [[TeleportInterdiction and realizes that he's screwed.]] There are two places he can re-materialize from his teleport: at one of them, Riddick will kill him; at the other, Vaako will. He chooses to die by Riddick's hand, thus fulfilling prophecy that he will be killed by a [[LastOfHisKind Furyan]]. Since YouKillItYouBoughtIt is the Necromonger way, KlingonPromotion ensues, resulting in Riddick becoming [[AwesomeMomentOfCrowning the new Lord Marshall]].]]
* Captain Jack Sparrow is in this position in ''Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanAtWorldsEnd''. Every other pirate has voted for themselves for Pirate King, and if he does the same, the result will be a deadlock and no one will be Pirate King. [[EnlightenedSelfInterest This is against his interests, so he gives one of the other candidates the vote needed to make them Pirate King]].
* This is the premise of the Creator/KevinCostner film ''Swing Vote''. The protagonist Bud's daughter attempts to vote on his behalf on election day, only for a technical error to invalidate said vote. When the two presidential candidates are tied in the election, the decision of who will become President of the United States falls onto Bud's shoulders.

* Criston Cole, the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard was literally called "The Kingmaker" in ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire''. He championed Viserys I's younger son Aegon II over his chosen heir, elder daughter Rhaenyra. This led to the Dance of the Dragons, a bloody civil war that tore the realm in half (including the Kingsguard itself) and led to the death of most of the Targaryen dragons. Aegon II won, but was ultimately succeeded by Rhaenyra's son, Aegon III.
** A variation happened in ''A Storm Of Swords'' when the Night's Watch was electing their lord commander. Their custom is when a lord commander dies, a voting is done every day until someone gets at least two third of the votes. The most popular nominees were Cotter Pyke and Denys Mallister, with Janos Slynt, a SmugSnake sent by the Lannisters, at the third place, continuously increasing in popularity. If either Mallister or Pyke would have resigned in favor of the other, Slynt would have immediately lost, and Sam Tarly goes to both trying to convince them to do so. Unfortunately both Pyke and Mallister have diametrically opposed ideas of what a lord commander should be, and viewed each other as unsuited to the position. At this point Sam decided to TakeAThirdOption and [[spoiler:he convinces ''both'' Pyke and Mallister to resign in favor of Jon, who wasn't even a candidate at that point, in order to keep Slynt from winning. They both urge their supporters to vote for Jon, and Jon promptly becomes the new lord commander.]]
** The series itself is rife with this (see page quote). A running theme in the ongoing civil war is for the noble houses to swing the balance of power by switching sides. As of the end of the fifth book, there is still one Great House that hasn't committed to any faction -- [[spoiler: House Arryn of the Vale, which Littlefinger has taken de facto control of.]]
** Most people believe Jaime Lannister assassinated Mad King Aerys as part of his father's power play. [[spoiler:Jaime had nothing to do with it. He had far better reasons to kill Aerys.]]
** And of course there's Eddard Stark who proclaims the rightful but unpopular Lord Stannis Baratheon king despite objections that this means war. It does and Ned and his men become the first casualties.
** Lord Mace Tyrell, Head of the powerful Tyrells, plays this part well. He supports Robert's youngest brother Renly in their attempted usurpation of the Iron Throne when they marry his daughter. [[spoiler:After Renly's death, he switches his support to the Lannisters so their candidate, [[TheCaligula Joffrey]], can marry his daughter.]]
** Former Kingsguard Ser Barristan Selmy wants nothing to do with kingmaking, as befitting an honorable knight of the Kingsguard. Unfortunately, he's such a great example of an honorable [[KnightInShiningArmor "True Knight"]] that any candidate for the throne would gain legitimacy just by having him on their side. His ''very nature'' makes him a Kingmaker whether he likes it or not (and he doesn't).
* The ''Literature/NewJediOrder'' series of ''Franchise/StarWars'' has one in the novel ''Destiny's Way''. The secondary plotline deals with the [[TheRepublic New Republic]] Senate and government trying to regroup and reorganize on Mon Calamari, after the capital of Coruscant fell to the [[TheHorde Yuuzhan Vong invasion]]. New Republic Chief of State Borsk Feyla died in a (successful) attempt to destroy military archives and data at the presidential residence to keep them out of Yuuzhan Vong hands, a case of RedemptionEqualsDeath in his case. As such the Senate needs to elect a new leader quickly. There are five candidates for the office: Cal Omas, Fyor Rodan, Talaam Ranth, Cola Quis, and Pwoe. Quis has no real chance to win, and Pwoe is [[TheQuisling widely despised as a traitor]] after he tried to illegally declare himself Chief of State and was only interested in [[DirtyCoward fighting long enough to surrender to the Yuuzhan Vong]]. He only gets [[EpicFail three votes]] in the end. As such, the election is really between Omas, Rodan, and Ranth. Omas is the good candidate, wanting to work closely with the Jedi, and get the meddling politicians out of the military decision making (something that led to the invaders making it as far as they have). Rodan meanwhile is shady, arrogant, and has an IrrationalHatred of Jedi. Ranth meanwhile knew he couldn't beat the other two from the very start, planning all along to build up enough support to play the kingmaker. The first few rounds of voting having Omas and Rodan neck and neck, with Ranth in third with a pretty strong voting bloc. However, it ultimately proves unnecessary. Omas eventually pulls far ahead of Rodan, and by the time Ranth drops out and endorses him, Omas is all but assured a win and a majority on the final ballot. Omas wins with '''[[LandslideElection 85% support]]'''!!
* Raul re Flo, who is more or less an expy of the original [[UsefulNotes/WarsOfTheRoses Warwick the Kingmaker]], is also this in ''Literature/ArciaChronicles''. However, his nickname is "King of Kings".
* Subverted by Yrael from the ''Literature/OldKingdom'' series in the backstory. [[BigBad The Destroyer]] and the Seven Bright Shiners were evenly matched in their war over whether the world would exist and have life; Yrael was weaker than both sides on his own, but was enough that whichever side he choose would win. However, he refused to join either side, earning NeutralityBacklash from both; when the Seven eventually won and [[SealedEvilInACan sealed the Destroyer in a can]], they made Yrael SealedEvilInATeddyBear, and forced him to serve the [[BadPowersGoodPeople Abhorsens]].
** But played straight when the heroes have to try and re-seal the Destroyer and release Yrael from his RestrainingBolt, giving him the choice again whether to fight for or against the Destroyer.
* Invoked in ''Literature/MistbornTheOriginalTrilogy'' in the second book; knowing that one army will be marching on them they manipulate a second into showing up so they can play this role, though with the aim of weakening both enough that they'll have to retreat. The approach of a third army composed of barely controlled inhuman berserkers does throw their already risky plans off a bit though.
* ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'': The Summer and Winter Knights and Emissaries. The Summer and Winter Courts of Fairie are ''always'' evenly matched in power, but the Knights and Emissaries are mortal, and have the potential to tip the balance of power.
** [[spoiler: Aurora's Plan in ''Summer Knight'' was pretty much this. She wanted to end the war between Summer and Winter. She doesn't have the power to win the war for Summer, but she ''can'' give some of Summer's power to Winter, tipping the balance and causing Winter to win.]]
* One of the potential King parties, [[spoiler:Gaia]], in ''Literature/FoundationsEdge'' [[InvokedTrope engineers]] a kingmaker scenario. They very likely ''could'' have manipulated things to win without it (of the two other parties, only one of them was even vaguely aware of [[spoiler:Gaia]], and this was limited to deducing their possible existence from statistical analysis until evidence was deliberately provided), but they don't trust their own judgement as to which vision of the future would be best since they're inherently biased in favor of themselves -- so they manipulate things to create a MexicanStandoff between themselves, [[spoiler:the First Foundation and the Second Foundation]], with a single specific individual of near-preternatural intuition being able to tip the balance to any of the three factions. Whichever faction won the standoff would be able to gain a firm edge over the other two, and be set to have their vision be the dominant one.
* In ''Stupid White Men'', Michael Moore describes Ralph Nader in such terms when talking about the run-up to the 2000 US presidential election. Polls showed that Nader had approximately a whelk's chance in a supernova of winning the election, but those who did support him were overwhelmingly liberal, and his support was ''just'' high enough to push Al Gore into second place. Thus, if Nader was to drop out of the race and endorse Gore, Gore would have won; if not, victory would go to George W. Bush.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'': House Tyrell serves as this by supporting the Lannisters in the War of the Five Kings.
* Deliberately used in ''Series/{{Survivor}}'' - the eliminated contestants vote between the final two or three for the winner.
** This also frequently showed up as a result of the last Immunity Challenge when the show used a Final Two: with three players in the last vote before the finals, two would be forced to vote against one another (as they couldn't vote for themselves or the challenge winner) and cancel each other out; leaving the challenge winner free to choose exactly who they faced in the finals. The winner of the challenge would either choose a weaker opponent that they could crush, or they would ''be'' the weaker opponent no matter who they chose and become a Kingmaker deciding which player gets to beat them. The show has since made Final Three the standard specifically to avoid this situation, as having four players in the penultimate vote means everyone's vote matters.
** In the first season, the final three consisted of Rudy, who everyone liked, and two fairly-hated contestants. Richard Hatch threw the last immunity challenge, forcing the other hated contestant to be kingmaker, which in this case is a bad thing; she had to vote Rudy off (she would have lost the final vote against him), which made her even more hated, giving Hatch a close win. If Hatch ''had'' been kingmaker, he almost certainly would have lost the final vote no matter who he let through.
*** Hatch, however, only won due to a SpannerInTheWorks, in his favor...namely, one swing vote guy voted for him, for a...rather racist reason.
* ''Series/TheApprentice'' usually does a take on this in the final episode of the season - eliminated contestants will come back and work for the finalists on a big final project. In some cases, they do their jobs in an exemplary manner. In others... not so much.
** ''Series/HellsKitchen'' does this as well, with pretty much the same results except for the addition of a badass sous chef threatening to hunt people down if they ruin the finalist's chances.
* During the second season of ''Series/{{Jericho}}'', this plays out between the Allied States Of America and the remaining pieces of the United States Of America. Whichever side can convince the now-independent Republic of Texas to ally with them will be able to defeat the other.
* This is perhaps the best way to describe the latter act of ''Series/KamenRiderGaim''. Two of the characters express a disinterest in taking [[MacGuffin the Golden Fruit]] for themselves and would rather have people they trust grab it. In the end, they don't become kingmakers but rather the heroine of the show, with a little assistance from the local BunnyEarsLawyer. Though even then, she doesn't decide between two parties but rather ([[NiceJobBreakingItHero unintentionally]]) thin the number of potential people to three people and have the lawyer go from there.
* In an episode of ''Series/{{Just Shoot Me}}'', Jack takes a holiday and leaves Maya, Elliot, and Nina jointly in charge of the magazine. Maya and Elliot can't agree on anything, while Nina doesn't care one way or the other; this gives her complete control as the others spend the entire episode vying for her swing vote.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* One of the scenes in the sample campaign from ''TabletopGame/{{Nobilis}}'' is explicitly this. There's a miracle duel between two rival powers in the home base of the [=PCs=]. The GM's advice points out that, since the players are a handful of demigods of the same power level as the competitors, the winner is going to be the one who gets help from the [=PCs=].
* For the longest time, the Capellan Confederation in ''TabletopGame/BattleTech'' was viewed as sitting in this scenario. They were unlikely to make it to the top of the heap in a setting full of political intrigues and HumongousMecha when they were often plagued by both [[GodSaveUsFromTheQueen severely crazy rulers]] and the smallest army of the five Successor States. However, what they had was the ability to 'king' almost any of the other four houses by virtue of choosing who they fought. While such a fight could doubtless [[PyrrhicVictory reduce the Capellan Confederation to little more than a memory]], it would also weaken the enemy they fought enough for that nation's other foes to gain the upper hand. Flanked as they were by the Federated Suns and the Free Worlds League, throwing themselves fully at the Suns would result in the eventual victory of the Draconis Combine and the League, while spending themselves against the League would result in inevitable victory for the Lyran Commonwealth and by extension their Federated Suns allies. This UnstableEquilibrium ''almost'' fell apart during the Fourth Succession War.
* Quite frequently appears in ''TabletopGame/SettlersOfCatan'', where two players will be roughly equidistant from winning when a third rolls a seven. Seven allows you to steal a card from a player and put the bandit on any part of the grid to block production, which can be used to cripple a vital resource.
* Creator/WhiteWolf's ''Prince of the City'', based on their ''TabletopGame/VampireTheRequiem'' RPG was probably designed for this. The winner is the player who has the most Prestige and is not in Torpor at the end of the final round. This means that one player can have an insurmountable lead over the others in terms of Prestige, only to have every other player beat him into Torpor and hand victory over to number two. "Everybody loves him! He must DIE!"
* Common in ''TabletopGame/{{Risk}}''. The game will often devolve to a point where only some players have a chance at winning. To maintain fairness, the others are supposed to turtle up and defend as long as they can. Considering how much fun that tends to be (i.e. ''not at all''), many a losing player shortened their suffering by a suicidal charge that weakened himself and another player to a point where someone else can easily take over both territories.
* Creator/AvalonHill's ''Kingmaker'' is based on this trope. Set during the War of the Roses, each player controls a group of nobles, and tries to capture the royalty in each of the two conflicting houses. Once one of the houses is wiped out, the winner is the one with the most senior member of the surviving house. Neville the Kingmaker, mentioned above, is one of the stronger nobles in the game (though Percy is the most powerful).
* Avalon Hill's ''Third Reich'' has a mild version of this trope. The game takes place in Europe during World War Two and is balanced so that either side can win while the rules guide both sides into making decisions similar to what happened historically. The Italians are the weakest of the six playable factions but bear enormous influence the final outcome based on what they do in 1939 and 1940. A skilled Italian player can conquer Yugoslavia and Greece without German help and tie up half the British military while also remaining neutral.
* While not official, it is very common in a ''TabletopGame/{{Monopoly}}'' game for a player to just hand over all his savings and property to another and leave the game.
** In a more official capacity, sometimes a player who's ahead will be shut out of trades because the other players don't like said player; instead, they choose to deal with a second player who has a chance of winning. At least one Monopoly ''championship'' was decided in exactly this manner.
* The ShadowHunters board game has this as a basic mechanic. Players are devided between hunters, shadows, and neutrals, with specific roles being hidden at first. Hunters and Shadows win by finding and defeating the all members of the other side, but neutrals are not allied with either and each has their own objectives. Many of the neutrals have objectives that encourage them to play kingmaker. Examples include a neutral who wins if a player to one side of them wins, or ones that win just by surviving till the end of the game. There's nothing like seeing the 8 year old girl who's objective was survival, who spent the entire game collecting protective/healing cards and begging others to not harm her, suddently turn on the last hunter and brutally murder him just to end the game and ensure they win.
* In ''TabletopGame/CardsAgainstHumanity'', the Card Czar is always in this position. Since this person doesn't play a white card on this turn, they can't win the round; however, they're the one that picks the funniest card, and thus the round's scorer.

* In ''Theatre/{{Hamilton}}'', the Election of 1800 between Jefferson and Burr ends up being a tie. The people look to Hamilton and ask who he thinks should be the third President of the United States. Hamilton chooses [[spoiler:his ideological rival Jefferson over his old friend Burr.]] His reasoning is that [[spoiler:Jefferson at least ''has'' an ideology while Burr just wants power for its own sake.]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The Drinking game in ''YohohoPuzzlePirates'' can result in a Kingmaker Scenario when played with three or more players. It is possible (and not terribly uncommon) for two players to be one move away from a win simultaneously, while a third player is active with possible moves that would allow them to "steal" 20 points from either of the two leaders, allowing the other leader to win on his/her next move.
* Can happen in ''VideoGame/GalacticCivilizations II'' quite a bit, as the AI plays smart enough to make several-way-stalemates a common occurrence. Also, an empire facing military defeat will frequently surrender to one of the attacker's rivals to deprive the invader of their resources.
* ''Franchise/ShinMegamiTensei'':
** Part of the plot of ''VideoGame/ShinMegamiTenseiIIINocturne'': the Demi-Fiend himself cannot create a Reason (due to his demonic body), but he can choose to support those created by others. Whichever Reason he supports will succeed without fail ([[NintendoHard or as close as you can get in an Atlus game]]). The problem with this system: [[spoiler:There are six endings and only three Reasons. [[OhCrap The Demi-Fiend is not strictly required to support any of them.]]]]
** Occurs early on in ''VideoGame/DigitalDevilSaga'': the Maribel and Solids Tribes are at a standstill, so the Embryon's tactician suggests forming an alliance with the former to destroy the latter. He later acknowledges he would have done the same thing with the Wolves and the Brutes had the Wolves lasted long enough.
** ''VideoGame/DevilSurvivor2'' has the Protagonist being the Kingmaker for the entire cosmic scenario: it is, ultimately, his allegiance to a certain faction's plan (Tokyo's two potential plans, Nagoya's, Osaka's, or the Anguished One's plan) which breaks the stalemate and pushes said faction to win the right of recreating the world.
** ''VideoGame/ShinMegamiTenseiIV'' plays it more or less like ''Nocturne'', with the caveat that in the Chaos path, as Chaos philosophy invokes rule of the strongest, which you have proven yourself as by ensuring the destruction of Merkabah, ''you'' end as Mikado's new king.
* Kingmaker scenarios are fairly common in more open-ended roleplaying games, as they allow some player agency without having to account for every possible action the player might carry out.
** ''Franchise/DragonAge'': This is the Modus Operandi of the Grey Wardens. In exchange for unwavering duty towards fighting the darkspawn for a lifetime, the Grey Wardens have iron-clad treaties from almost every nation that demand drafting from ALL citizens - from the lowest criminal to the highest king, all crimes and duties are dismissed in the face of wardenship. In between Blights, Wardens are encouraged to avoid politics, as it's ended badly before, and the treaties are as binding "as a clever tongue can make them". ''During'' a Blight, however, their authority is theoretically absolute. In the first game, the Warden protagonist can decide the ruler of two separate nations:
*** In the Orzammar portion of ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'', you come into such a scenario, between the named-heir Pyral Harrowmont, and King's son Bhelen Aeducan. Makes for an interesting scenario when your origin is Bhelen's older sibling [[spoiler:or his new wife's sibling]]. Of course, no matter what your origin is, you can't become the ruler of Orzammar yourself.
*** This also applies to deciding Ferelden's ruler if your character isn't a human noble. Otherwise, there's also an option to marry one of the contenders for the throne yourself.
*** In ''Videogame/DragonAgeInquisition'', the mission to avert Empress Celene's assassination turns into a scenario where you decide who will rule Orlais by the end of the party. Note that choosing anyone other than Celene [[spoiler:means ''allowing'' the assassination to take place, with you stepping up to "avenge" her.]] In fact the situation ends up having ''four'' factions involved in addition to yours, two of which were trying to play kingmaker themselves (one openly and one in secret); the Inquisition's influence on the result is less about direct influence and more about what uncovered plots and counter-plots from the resulting mess they reveal to who.
* The major arc of ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'' involves deciding which power bloc gets dominion over the Mojave. The "kingmaker" in this case is ''[[OneManArmy a single individual]]'', although the main way you influence the war is by persuading other minor factions to join your chosen side (or destroying them so they can't join the enemy). There's also a subversion in that the player can supplant one of the major players and take power for themselves.
* ''VideoGame/Fallout4'': There are four factions with different policies for Synthetic Humans: Kill Them (Brotherhood of Steel), Free Them (Underground Railroad), Enslave Them (The Institute), and Who The Fuck Cares (Minutemen). Each has their own unique strengths and weaknesses, and those with more power are also more entangled / retarded, so the conflict has come to an even standstill. You can side with any of the first three and kill the other two, use the fourth to destroy the third yourself, or broker an alliance between the Brotherhood and Railroad with the Minutemen as ambassadors and murder the fuck out of The Institute.
* In VideoGame/MightAndMagic VII, you play as a quartet of new royals. Halfway through the game, you have to choose between allying with the side of light or the side of darkness. The side you ally with wins, because [[spoiler:one of your main quests is to tip the political balance in your favor by killing the other team's counterpart to the one who gives you the quest in the first place]], all for the sake of getting one more Control Cube. IF it were possible to not choose a side at all, you would then have to kill the leaders of both sides, and you'd never be able to repair the Heavenly Forge anyway or the portal to the Gateweb [[spoiler: (as you wouldn't know the location of the Lincoln)]]...
** The Human-Elf War can look like this, although your influence can both tip the balance to one side and change the nature of the peace (after a few relatively minor skirmishes and actions, or after a bloody war). [[spoiler: It isn't: if one has actively taken a side by doing the War-time quests, the option is opened to do something that will allow you to win and establish a Kingdom of Harmondale, either as a compromise after the early skirmishes, or after bloody warfare exhausting both powers.]]
** In VideoGame/MightAndMagic III, one of the quests is to give eleven (out of thirty-one) Orbs of Ultimate Power to the King of Good, Neutrality or Evil, which gives them theoretical governance over Terra and destroys the other two kings.
* The Darkling class in ''VideoGame/DokaponKingdom'' is made for kingmaking; they can't advance in the quest for gold, and only the player in last place can fall to darkness, but the class is designed for dragging ''other'' players down. Also, through an [[GameBreaker exploit]], the Darkling can be used to give overpowered equipment to another player with no penalty: Darkling gear vanishes when you stop being a Darkling, but only if it's in the Darkling player's hands. (In theory, a Darkling player could trade his equipment off to another player and then ask for it back when he comes out of it, but expecting the other player to follow through is a wee bit unlikely.)
* In ''VideoGame/MarioKart64'''s Battle Mode, anyone who runs out of Balloons when there are still 2 or more players left becomes a Mini Bomb Kart. They've officially lost that match but can drive right up to any remaining players and explode in their faces, then respawn in a few seconds to do it again.
* ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'':
** Near the end of ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIDaggerfall Daggerfall]]''[='s=] main quest, you come into possession of a powerful artifact which allows a person of royal blood or supernatural power to control the [[HumongousMecha Numidium]]. You cannot utilize it yourself[[note]]you can ''try'', but it causes a NonStandardGameOver with [[ApocalypseHow Tamriel-wrecking]] results[[/note]], but you can choose one of several Iliac Bay powers to hand it over to, allowing them to tip the balance of power in the region in their favor. (Later games reveal that, canonically, ''all'' of the possible endings happen in a MergingTheBranches scenario, thanks to a [[RealityWarper Reality Warping]] TimeCrash known as the "Warp in the West."
** In ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim Skyrim]]''[='s=] CivilWar questline, you get to be this for whichever side you choose to support. By leading that side to victory (essentially being an unstoppable OneManArmy), their leader (Elisif for the Imperials, Ulfric for the Stormcloaks) will be placed on the throne.
* In ''VideoGame/CrusaderKings II'', rival claimants to a contested throne don't always have their own landed titles, so they'll often depend on the backing of a powerful noble within the realm to lead Factions to enforce their claims. These nobles frequently end up being Kingmakers both figuratively and literally, at least when their faction wins.
* Something of an inversion happens in ''VideoGame/StarControlII'': There is a war raging between the two most powerful races, and a victory by either side would be very bad for the rest of the galaxy. At several points in the game, the player can get another faction to attack the leading side in an attempt to even out the fight. It doesn't change the outcome, but it does prolong it, which gives the player [[TimedMission more time]] to find [[TakeAThirdOption the third option]].
* In ''VideoGame/{{Worms}}'' it's possible to reach this point in a multiplayer match. If three players each possess only a single worm, an attack which eliminates one enemy will all but ensure the other enemy claims victory.
* Similar to the Skyrim example, the ''VideoGame/{{Geneforge}}'' series involves a number of Kingmaker plots. In each game, the factions present are in relative deadlock that the player character can tip.
* In ''VideoGame/SengokuRance'', warmongering Takeda House has gotten itself tied up in a war with both Uesugi House and Hojo House. Its resources are spread too thin, but if you attack either Uesugi or Hojo, Takeda will ''instantly'' conquer the other. This is especially problematic on later playthroughs, as Uesugi and Hojo are both home to one of the heroines whose plots you can follow for an alternate ending. You can attack Takeda itself, but that will only convince it to turn on you almost full-time, and they have four endgame-level generals, a blitzkrieg strategy and a unique cavalry unit. Good luck with that!
* The final choice that determines the climax of ''VideoGame/{{Lunarosse}}'' is this. Do you side with Corlia or Yliandra to determine who wins the ten-year-long war and rules Lunarosse? [[spoiler:The smart thing is to align with neither. This opens up a new area where you can proceed to the best ending.]]
* ''VideoGame/Killer7'': The Smiths are hired to take out Matsuken, the leader of a significant 10 million US voters, before he can rig the elections. 10 million is technically less than 1% of the vote - BUT since the state elections are near-tied, if Matsuken herded them all into a single small state and had them vote he could win the election for whichever kiss-ass the Japanese favor. [[spoiler:And then you find out this was all a big distraction so nobody would realize the Ministry of Education has been swapping out ballot machines]].

[[folder:Web Original]]
* LetsPlay/TheRunawayGuys:
** They encountered a kingmaker scenario with the ''Mario Party 4'' board "Koopa's Seaside Soiree". NCS was at boo, and could steal from Jon, netting Chugga the win, or could steal from Chugga, netting Jon the win. [[spoiler:He stole ''coins'' from ''the '''AI''''', denying Chugga the coin star -- so, indirectly, he stole from Chugga.]]
** They also did a game of ''VideoGame/FortuneStreet''. LetsPlay/{{Chuggaaconroy}} wound up having no hope of winning, so he devoted his efforts into making sure the close game between LetsPlay/NintendoCapriSun and LetsPlay/ProtonJon went in NCS's favor... or rather, making sure it didn't go in Jon's favor.
* A nearly-identical situation happened in WebVideo/SteamTrain's playthrough of ''VideoGame/FortuneStreet''; in this case, Ross played kingmaker and helped Arin beat Suzy.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/ExoSquad'', the [[SpacePirate Pirate Clans]] become the kingmaker in the Neosapien War, since despite their military strength being too small to beat both Exofleet and Neosapiens, their allegiance proves crucial for either side to win the war. [[spoiler:From the moment Simbacca allies himself with Winfield in the first arc of season two, it becomes clear that Exofleet is going to win (as long as the alliance persists).]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'', Findlaech seemed to be a Kingmaker, or at least Duncan saw him as such (and ordered him murdered so that he couldn't raise his son Macbeth to the throne).
* In ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime'', Starscream manages to find himself in such a scenario. He has [[spoiler:the keys to reactivate Cybertron]], but he has no army to enforce his will or any ability to play this to his political advantage. So he's forced to pick a side. [[spoiler:He picks the Decepticons]].