My Way or the Highway

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.


Examples:

Comic Books
  • In an Avengers Annual, Wonder Man, while shooting a film, actually can't remember this line, ruining a take.
    "We can do this my way or... um... you can hit the road!"
    "CUT!"

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?
Literature

  • In Anne of Green Gables, Marilla is very matter-of-fact in laying down the rules on taking Anne into Green Gables. After listening to Anne's explanation of why she is not in the habit of folding her clothes before going to bed, she plainly retorts: "You'll have to remember a little better if you stay here"; then, when Anne tells her she does not say her prayers before going to bed and gives a thorough explanation of why, Marilla tells her "You must say your prayers while you are under my roof, Anne" without further justification.

Music
  • In the chorus for the Limp Bizkit song "My Way," singer Fred Durst insists to do things his way—his way "or the highway."

Television

Western Animation
  • 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.

Real Life
  • 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.