"When written in Chinese the word crisis is composed of two characters. One represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.
When one turns an unfortunate and unexpected set of events into a positive and/or fortuitous outcome.
Note that the Chinese word for "crisis"
doesn't actually translate as "a dangerous opportunity", but that doesn't stop heroes and villains alike from seeing one when this trope is invoked.
A crisis occurs. It might be quite serious or be a relatively minor event, and it might even be deliberately manufactured by a character in order to bring about this trope. Either way, the crisis makes things harder, scarier or tougher for everyone except one or more characters or groups of characters to whom it's not necessarily a bad thing, and who seem to not only persevere in the face of the adversity, but outright triumph. Sure, they may have to make sacrifices too, but that's an acceptable loss. Because now they finally have the chance they've been waiting for. Rather than respond appropriately to the crisis and nothing more, the character or group decides to use the situation to their advantage in some way.
While this tactic is commonly used by the Big Bad
or Magnificent Bastard
, it can also be played positively. The idea that meeting and overcoming a crisis can pave the way to greatness is a pretty common one.
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- This is the basis for a major plot in Watchmen. It was the one by Ozymandias.
- The Vultures in The Phantom are a criminal organisation devoted to doing this trope in the most cynical way possible: they watch for other people's crises and show up to rob everyone when they're vulnerable.
- In the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Senator Palpatine uses fear of the Separatist movement to gain emergency powers ala Julius Caesar. Although he more or less created the Separatist movement in the first place.
- In Super 8, the kids take advantage of a train crash and the soldiers in town in order to increase the "production values" of their film.
- Dr. Strangelove, General Turgidson suggest to capitalize on an underway unilateral first strike ordered by General Ripper -who anticipated Turgidson's response- and commit to a surprise full scale nuclear attack, but he is overruled by President Muffley.
- In Oliver Stone's W, Cheney and Rumsfeld view the aftermath of 9/11 and the subsequent War On Terror as a unique chance to end business left unfinished by Bush Sr.'s administration and start a policy of Empire-building in the Middle East.
Live Action TV
- If anything happens in Star Trek, the Ferengi will attempt to carry out this trope.
Rule of Acquisition #35: War is good for business.note
- In Kamen Rider Wizard, the secondary Rider, Beast, completely believes in this trope to the point where it has become a Catch Phrase for him.
- This is a main tactic of Petyr Baelish in A Song of Ice and Fire, by his own admission. He creates crises to upset the status quo and take advantage of opportunities that present themselves in the resulting chaos.
Manga and Anime
- In Code Geass, Lelouch accidentally orders Euphemia to commit genocide, and mere minutes later, grabbed the opportunity to use the incident to start a war.
- As it turns out in the Soviet victory scenario in Red Alert, the entire Russian war effort was a plan by Kane to expand the USSR, then topple it, and use the ensuing chaos to strengthen the Brotherhood of Nod.
- In the original Starcraft terran campaign, Mengsk uses the zerg invasion to help himself gain power.
- In Worm, this is for the most part averted in relations between supervillains and superheroes. In the event of an S-class threat, it's common practice to band together and take it down, to the point that it's standard procedure for when the Endbringers-massive Kaiju-like creatures that have destroyed entire nations-attack. When Armsmaster sabotages this truce for a shot at personal glory, therefore, it is both a perfect example of this trope and a Moral Event Horizon.