A character is offered an uncomfortable, non-negotiable choice that boils down to two options:
- Agree or conform with the other party's choice of action, or;
- Get tossed aside and abandoned while the other party continues their choice of action anyway.
Unlike The Easy Way or the Hard Way
, there is no threat of coersion or violence; it may instead carry an implication that the person being offered this choice is expendable.
The favored Catch Phrase
of the Control Freak
, but may also be used by an older character to teach discipline, such as from a parent to their child (i.e. "My House, My Rules") or from a drill sergeant to a fresh recruit.
Film - Live Action
- Crow T. Robot's "Let's have a Patrick Swayze Christmas" features the line, "It's my way or the highway this Christmas at my bar-har-haaaaar."
- A common accusation of Bruce Wayne's Batman by Dick Grayson of Batman & Robin: "It's your way or the highway!"
- The Matrix: Switch says this to Neo. There is then a cutaway to the empty, rain soaked road outside the car. Subverted when Neo chooses the highway, and Trinity has to persuade him to stay.
- In The Pacifier, Vin Diesel's line was "We do things my way. No highway option".
- Used in Reservoir Dogs by Lawrence Tierny's character:
Joe: Here are your names: Mr Brown, Mr White, Mr Blonde, Mr Blue, Mr Orange, and Mr Pink.
Mr Pink: Why am I Mr Pink?
Joe: 'Cause you're a faggot, alright!
(Mr Pink and Joe argue about the name for a while)
Joe: Now listen up, Mr Pink. There's two ways you can go on this job: my way or the highway. Now what's it gonna be, Mr Pink?
- In the chorus for the Limp Bizkit song "My Way," singer Fred Durst insists to do things his way—his way "or the highway."
- A Kim Possible episode uses this as the title (and chorus) of a boy band's song.
- Drakken once tried the "my lair, my rules" variation on Shego. He backed down immediately when Shego lights up her plasma.
- Blossom and Buttercup use this on each other in The Powerpuff Girls episode "Three Girls And A Monster," fighting over using brains or brawn to bring down a giant reptilian monster. Neither is effective...Bubbles uses polite asking to bring down her beast.
- Dick Dastardly imposes this on Zilly when he tries to shirk out of a mission or on Muttley when he tries to weasel another medal for fetching Zilly.
Muttley: Rowr ruff wuff, urm, medal?
Dastardly: (sternly) No, you don't get a medal if you do!
Dastardly: But you'll get thirty days in the guard house if you don't!
- A network executive says this in the Ren and Stimpy episode "Who's Stupid Now?" when the duo are forced to change the dynamic of their show.
- Swedish expression "Management by Perkele" stems from this. It refers to Finnish management mentality ("either you do this or else"), which contrasts with Swedes' more discussion-oriented decision-making.
- The French Foreign Legion's unofficial motto is "march or die", do as you're told or get out.