You are what you eat.
"We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.
There are villains that want your stuff, villains that want you to do what they want, villains that want you dead. This guy is nowhere near as wasteful. He wants what makes you you
, and he wants it for himself.
When he beats you, he will take your abilities
, your uniqueness
, your everything
and make them his own. He usually does this by literally absorbing or consuming you, though sometime he'll just take the pieces of you he likes and discard the rest. Either way, the more he gets, the stronger he gets. The stronger he gets, the more people he gets. This is his motivation.
This is a common attribute of zombies
; zombie hordes tend to become more dangerous the more zombies are in them, so by zombifying humans they are essentially adding that human's strength to themselves.
This trope is about the motivation (usually for villains)
. The article about the plot is Assimilation Plot
, oddly enough. Sometimes overlaps with The Virus
and/or All Your Powers Combined
. Distinct from Power Copying
as it requires death or injury to the other party. A form of Human Resources
, assuming the victims started as human. Compare Cannibalism Superpower
, You Are Who You Eat
and Unwilling Roboticisation
which describes methods for acomplishing this trope. The replacement by assimilation may be part of a plan to make things over In Their Own Image
He may fall victim to Assimilation Backfire
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Anime & Manga
- Akuma She has Kiki apparently targeting swingers to absorb the best physical qualities, (real or surgical) of the women to become an even more appealing Bitch in Sheep's Clothing. Yes, that means a/The Devil absorbed a blonde bimbo just for some implants and For the Evulz and yes, it's somehow supposed to be erotic horror.
- The Pict in Axis Powers Hetalia: Paint it White, especially considering their similarities to the Borg.
- Szilard Quates of Baccano!! routinely absorbs other immortals to gain scientific knowledge, and just 'cause he's off his rocker. All immortals have this ability, supposedly so that immortals who have grown tired of living have a way to commit suicide, but Szilard's the only one who uses it without consent in anything other than the most desperate of circumstances, even going so far as to make people immortal just so that he can absorb them in this manner.
- Aaroniero can devour dead hollows, gaining their strength and powers, unlike other Arrancar/Hollows who only gain strength.
- When Aizen was going through a series of level ups, he informed Ichigo that he was letting him live because he intended to return later on and devour him. Ichigo made sure that wasn't possible.
- There is a being capable of embedding fragments of his soul into others, the fragment absorbs all the knowledge, experience and power of the victim, which he benefits from the moment he recalls the fragment to his own soul. By additionally carving an initial onto such a victim's soul, that victim becomes a means for him to spread his soul to anyone that person comes into contact as well. Recalling soul fragments kills the affected victims. Yhwach was born incapable of moving and with not a single one of his five senses functional. This power enabled him to gain the ability to interact with the world, but he has to keep doing it to avoid reverting back to his original state.
- B't Raphaello from Bt X, fits this to a T.
- Dragon Ball Z:
- This was more or less the goal of Cell. He was created to be the ultimate fighter, but had to consume both Android 17 and 18 to assume his ultimate form. He later demonstrates the ability to learn the signature techniques of new fighters by absorbing their cells.
- Majin Buu has the ability to absorb anyone, assimilating them into itself and gaining a measure of their intelligence, power, and... uh, fashion sense. However, it is eventually revealed that this had an unintended side-effect: giving Buu the sentience to regulate his power and use it in the pursuit of intelligent goals. When Goku and Vegeta free his victims, Buu reverts to his original form, lowering his raw power level to a still-very-significantly-high level but removing all of his moral restraints. He goes on to destroy the Earth just because it is there, wielding his full power like a blunt instrument.
- Franmalth, one of the Nine Demon Gates of Tartarus, is a demon with this power in Fairy Tail. He can absorb people, body and soul, and claim their powers for himself. This renders him immune to magical attacks and direct contact physical attacks since he absorbs them too. His sole weakness is that he can't absorb something if it doesn't have a soul so Natsu beats him to death with a really big rock.
- Shin Getter has shades of this, as its massive Getter Ray reservoir allows it to fuse with anything - at one point it combines with a nuclear missile in mid-flight. Its implied evolution, the Getter Emperor, is a much more straight example, at one point absorbing a planet by flying into it.
- Alucard is another heroic example, for a given value of 'heroic'. Anyone he eats (and more importantly, drinks the blood of) has their soul absorbed into the totality inside Alucard, who can then summon them as a familiar and access their memories, form, and abilities. This appears to be an ability of "natural" vampires (as opposed to Millenium's Magitek-created copies), as Seras Victoria is later shown to be able to do the same.
- Aptom of the Lost Numbers, from Guyver, starts out as a shapeshifter who pulls a variant of They Look Like Us Now by imitating Sho's super-powered form. He gets defeated, his TrueCompanions are killed by Sho, and he gets shipped back to the lab for more experiments. The experiments give him the power to merge with people's bodies, rip them apart at the cellular level, and gain their powers.
- Naraku from MangaInuyasha absorbs other demons into himself to gain power. He tried it on both Sesshomaru and Koga, as well, but it didn't go so well. Minor demons like the generic snake thingies, on the other hand, get sucked up like spaghetti. It gets to the point where he actually has to start cutting some loose because some take up space without adding much to his strength.
- Katanagatari has Maniwa Houou. He can learn other people's abilities by grafting part of their bodies to his own. He did this to Maniwa Kawauso's arm and it's implied that he did the same thing to Emonzaemon's face. It is also implied that he could potentially gain immortality by repeatedly replacing his body parts like this. Additionally Maniwa Kyouken, who's ability is to take over other people's bodies might qualify. Once she gets a new body, her old body disintegrates to dust. She also absorbs the memories and fighting abilities of the woman whose body she steals and has inhabited 2,000 different bodies.
- In Naruto, several of the villains fit this, most notably Orochimaru and Kabuto.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: In a very rare heroic example, the mecha Lagann is capable of assimilating other mecha into itself, resulting in the mecha of the series in the finale, big enough to use galaxies as shuriken. This initially appears to fail, as the Lagann just stabs into the cockpit of the Gurren and almost kills Kamina. It's only because of the Spiral Power of the pilots that it works later on.
- Nrvnsqr (or Nero) Chaos is a vampire in Tsukihime whose main power is to incorporate the lifeforce of animals into his body, which is then made up of the chaos. He uses these animals to fight, and sends out progressively stronger and more legendary creatures as he his cornered by Nanaya Shiki.
- The ELS aliens in Gundam 00: A Wakening of the Trailblazer.
- The Pillar Men in Jojos Bizarre Adventure consume organic matter with a touch. At one point, one of them brushes up against an unlucky soldier and consumes half of his body. The worst part is that the Pillar Man didn't even notice what happened. That is how little the Pillar Men think of humans.
- From Creator/Marvel's more adult comics, there's The Terror, a living corpse whose body is continually rotting; he takes other people's body parts to rebuild himself, although these continue to decay. He gains their memories, skills, and sometimes even feelings; he has even been seen to give himself wings or a prehensile tail. He can even gain superpowers from the parts, although they have to be the parts that contain the powers (for example, he couldn't steal Cyclops' finger and gain optic blasts).
- The Makuta from BIONICLE have the ability to absorb other beings to increase their mass but have to oppress the other minds to ensure that they would still remain in control of their fused bodies.
- Green Lantern has Agent Orange, who absorbs the form and memory of those he kills, allowing him to create duplicates of them as subordinates. Having become the living embodiment of Avarice, he desires to own everything, including the very identities of his enemies.
- Recent promos for upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog issues state that the Iron Dominion will be "legionizing" our heroes. What that entails is thus far open to discussion, but considering this comes right off the heels of the Dark Legion (who are allied to the Iron Dominion) being installed with computer chips that allows the Dominion and their leader Lien-Da to mindlessly control them remotely (the former using Magitek), and, well... just say that there's room for one more Star Trek reference, in the comic.
- The aptly named Doctor Who/Star Trek crossover comic Assimilation2 is about the two most notable sci-fi versions of this, the Borg and Cybermen, joining forces to do this.
- The Brood from X-Men reproduce this way, by injecting their eggs into unwilling hosts. This does not so much produce a juvenile hatchling as it does turn the unfortunate host into a Brood, which has all the memories and skills of its "parent".
- The X-Men also have/had the Phalanx, who infected targets with a techno-organic virus and brought them into their machine-like hivemind.
- The X-Men's own Rogue at times also qualified, as absorbing other people's memories and powers usually sent them into a coma. Cody Robbins never awoke from his.
- The Immortals in the Highlander series absorb the skills and memories of everyone they kill. Some of the nastier ones get off on this.
- The series explores the implications of this at one point, with a build up of all the evil absorbed from killing evil immortals eventually overpowering one guy, turning him evil, requiring some good immortal to defeat him (and thus absorb all that evil and become overpowered by it him/herself)
- The entire modus operandi of the alien entity in The Thing (1982). Also, quite possibly, the most frightening example.
- The Master Control Program, Big Bad of TRON, appropriates other (sentient) computer programs to obtain their functions. Clu in TRON: Legacy "rectifies" other programs, brainwashing them into becoming an army of Faceless Mooks.
- In Wreck-It Ralph, the Cy-Bugs can incorporate anything they eat into themselves even characters.
- Honeymoon: Bea is slowly being taken over by an alien intelligence and is impregnated with an alien parasite.
- The One in Animorphs, as well as Father from one of the prequels. (Coincidence? ...yeah, probably.)
- The Vord in Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series has elements of this. They start out as a Hive Mind with a caste system; most of them are Insectoid Aliens ranging from the size of a dog to a bear, but some are much smaller and capable of serving as Puppeteer Parasites to animate and control people. This is a permanent condition and turns the victim into zombies. However, over the course of the series they learned the value of intelligent slaves, so they began using a version of the local Functional Magic to cause Happiness in Slavery so people would serve them while still physically alive and well.
- A mix between this and Grand Theft Me is one of the abilities of The Cunning Man from I Shall Wear Midnight.
- Fate of the Jedi has Abeloth. Interestingly, when she absorbs Callista, Callista's feelings for Luke Skywalker cause her to fall in love with him too. This goes away when Luke manages to free Callista's spirit from her.
- The horror novel Full Tilt takes a more impersonal approach to the trope: if you die in the Amusement Park of Doom, your face appears somewhere—in a cloud, on a rock, even on a billboard—with a smile on your lips but a scream in your eyes. If you don't get out by sunrise, but you survive, you're enslaved for the rest of your (un)natural life, but you retain your memories and a certain degree of freedom. And if you're really, really unlucky, you go to the Works. (It's never clear what precisely is taken, but the Big Bad says at one point that as the park grows in power it comes closer to being real and all other realities come closer to being imaginary).
- Spore in Galaxy of Fear. It gives Tash a rather appalling We Can Rule Together speech.
"You will join me. You'll be a part of me. Didn't you want to become one with the Force? Isn't that what you told me? [...] The Force
is nothing. If it ever existed, it belonged to Jedi who died years ago. I can offer you something more. Join me, and you will join thousands, millions of others
. [...] You know, you're not strong enough to stop me. Not nearly strong enough. Once you're under my control, I'll make you my primary host. I will be you.
- In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Voldemort used Inferi, reanimated corpses, to guard one of his Horcruxes. These inferi overwhelm Harry and try to drown him. Harry suspects that he himself will become an inferi after he dies.
- In the Nightside novel Agents of Light and Darkness, a minor character in the story named Belle does this. She hunts down powerful creatures, taking contracts on them if possible, and incorporates their skin into either her leather outfit or herself. She has a personal power letting her preserve and use the magic of the skin's original owners. (Her last acquisition before showing up was a pair of boots made of the skin of a minor Greek god with speed-based powers.) She lasts as long as most antagonists in these books: just long enough to explain in detail how dangerous she is before offhandedly nullifying her.
- The Swarm from Wild Cards. Also, the Righteous Djinn.
- In Those That Wake and its sequel, What We Become, the villains assimilate people, though in different ways.
- The Sobornost mind upload collective in The Quantum Thief-trilogy seeks to absorb all existing minds into itself in hopes of eliminating all death and uncertainty from the universe.
- The All-Defector, a monstrous and uncontrollable creation of the Sobornost seeks to go one step beyond and become the universe, due to its nature as a perfect mirror that becomes whatever looks into it, only (subjectively) better, and when it finds out about parallel universes it seeks to become all of them, as well.
- The Source of All Evil in Charmed, who possesses his victims and assimilates their personalities into himself, becoming more powerful and intelligent. The problem comes when after assimilating Cole Turner, his feelings for Phoebe and humanity makes him difficult to control. Eventually it backfires, because he can't hurt Phoebe or her sisters without Cole interfering and making him vulnerable to being vanquished again.
- Doctor Who:
- The Krillitane from "School Reunion" alter their DNA with DNA from races they conquer.
- The Abzorbaloff from "Love & Monsters" works on an individual level, absorbing individuals into his body.
- Despite this always having been a large part of their characterization, the new-series version of the Cybermen do this somewhat more markedly than the Classic Cybermen "upgrading" people by converting them into more Cybermen now being their main shtick — this being the intention of their very human (well, until the Cybermen forcibly "upgrade" him into the Cyberleader) creator. One group of Daleks wasn't above using humans as raw materials in a similar way, either.
- It was also a large part of their appeal in the black-and-white days (before they turned into camp men in suits with Darth Vader voices). "You belong to us. You shall be... like us."
- In the Eleventh Doctor episode "The Pandorica Opens", a mostly dead Cyberman's head actually says "You will be assimilated." The use of the phrase by the Cybermen in Doctor Who pre-dates the Star Trek use, as it was featured in the Cybermen's debut story, The Tenth Planet in 1966. It's likely an in-joke too. As River Song is examining transmitters in that same episode, the radio traffic of the Cybermen, which is audible in the background, sounds very much like the Borg Collective.
- In "Nightmare in Silver", the Cybermen are shown as even more like the Borg. Not only do is their Adaptive Ability significantly more Borg-like (sometimes they don't even lose a single Cyberman before adapting), but their new Cybermites are the insect-sized versions of the Borg nanites. A handful of them can turn a person into a Cyber-something almost instantly. This may have something to do with the fact that the new Cybermen are a joining of the original Mondas Cybermen and the Alternate Universe Cybus Cybermen.
- Sylar from Heroes, whereas Peter is more Mega Manning. Doubly so since Sylar can assimilate other peoples very identities, through a combination of a shapeshifting power that lets him copy anyone whose DNA he samples via touch, and a psychic power that lets him absorb memories via touch.
- The Borg from Star Trek are the Trope Codifiers, and the former Trope Namer. Oddly enough, the Borg as originally conceived and depicted in Star Trek: The Next Generation were a bit more modest on the whole "you will be assimilated" angle. The early Borg were only interested in taking all the technological prowess that other species possessed, not the assimilation of their members, as they bred all of their own offspring themselves. Even the assimilation of Picard in the "Best of Both Worlds" two-parter was carried out only for strategic reasons. It wasn't until Star Trek: First Contact that they were retooled to physically resemble decaying corpses, and just began to hostily assimilate entire civilizations into their collective.
- Debatable, since in "Best of Both Worlds" they do say "Your culture will be adapted to service us." While certainly their first appearance only reference technology they were after humans themselves the second time.
- It could be that the Borg were not interested in assimilating humans in general, simply because they did not really need more drones and it was much easier to annihilate anyone resisting and then grab the rest after the defenders were killed off. In Star Trek: First Contact the Borg were noticeably short on man power so they were probably just grabbing everyone they could to increase their strength.
- Dialogue between Locutus and Worf in Best of Both Worlds Part II indicates that the Borg do at this point intend to assimilate entire races.
: Worf, Klingon species, a warrior race
. You too will be assimilated.
Worf: The Klingon Empire will never yield.
Locutus: Why do you resist? We only wish to raise quality of life for all species.
Worf: I like my species the way it is!
Locutus: A narrow vision. You will become one with the Borg.
- In Deep Space Nine, it's shown that this is how some view the Federation. From their perspective, all they see is a bunch of Scary Dogmatic Aliens who travel the Galaxy, seeking out new life and new civilizations with the sole intention of eventually absorbing these new cultures into their own. After all, who wouldn't want to join the "glorious" Federation?
"You know, in some ways, you're even worse than the Borg. At least they tell you about their plans for assimilation. You're more insidious, you assimilate people - and they don't even know it."
- Yes had a weird (but not evil) variant in all the bands it absorbed along the way, incorporating their musical styles as well. Yes absorbed New Wave band The Buggles, then "Cinema" (which was originally supposed to be a new band with Trevor Rabin as frontman), and then "Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe", the last one being particularly notable as it was made up of former members of Yes, who were assimilated back into their own band.
Mythology and Religion
- The game Gargon is this plus Hide-And-Seek plus Tag!. Several people are chosen to be "It" and link arms, forming the Gargon, while everyone else hides. The Gargon looks for the hiding people, and when they're tagged, they become part of the Gargon. It lasts until everyone's part of the Gargon, or the Ref calls time.
- This is what the Maelstrom is like in Dino Attack RPG at its best. At worst it's an unstoppable Eldritch Abomination that could theoretically become capable of destroying the entire universe.
- The Hivebrood, an insanely complex Virus monster from the Basic/Expert/etc Dungeons & Dragons game system. Eating sentient beings lets them absorb their victims' know-how, spellcasting skills included. Don't know anything worth learning? Then they'll turn you into a Hive drudge-worker instead.
- Another DnD monster with this kind of ability: the cadaver golem, which can take bits and pieces of people to absorb their skills. It's a Discard and Draw situation, though.
- Played straight and subverted with the Illithids (aka Mind Flayers). They reproduce by putting an illithid tadpole into a victim's ear, which consumes their brain and turns them into an illithid. Subverted in that the new mind flayer does not retain any memories or skills from the host. Usually. They might sometimes tap their fingers in a particular way, or hum a tune the original person was familiar with. Doing so is considered a very bad sign, and they avoid it when possible. Played straighter with a Prestige Class that Mind Flayers can take that allows them to absorb skills and powers from the creature's whose brains they consume.
- There is also a drug that a host can take that offers a chance (no guarantees) that they will retain their identity and free will after being transformed, allowing them to keep their knowledge and skills as well.
- Formian Dominators are charged with bringing under Formian power anyone who is unwilling to join the Formians peacefully. Each one can control four or five beings at once.
- The Phyrexians from Magic: The Gathering. Memnarch and Olivia Voldaren have this as their abilities, first converting something into part-artifact/vampire (respectively) and then controlling it.
- From Warhammer 40,000, the Tyranids main goal, driven by perpetual hunger, is to eat everything they com into contact with. They would use your genetic material for its evolutionary advantages, and your flesh, and that of dead Tyranids, for the raw materials for creating more Tyranid life forms.
- Enslavers, a kind of noncorporeal alien, "possess" living creatures, and reshape their bodies into portals into the Warp to allow other Enslavers to pass through. The people they don't overtake in this manner are enslaved through psychic means to do their bidding, usually to fight other beings not under their control, and the worst part of it is that their "recruits" are aware of what's happening but not able to control their bodies. Previous, and perhaps retconned lore indicated huge incursions of these things into realspace nearly ended all civilization roughly 60 million years ago. Oddly, while most of the denizens of realspace consider them a real, if only occasional threat, it's not known whether Enslavers are sapient malefactors, or just animalistic beings acting on instinct.
- The rarely mentioned Khrave are a race of mind-eaters (or rather mind-overwrites), enslaving other beings to their own ends by rewriting the minds of other species. The detailed effects of this particular process aren't quite clear.
- Warmain Excrucians in Nobilis absorb traits of those they deem worthy of killing, and express those traits in future appearances.
- Dragon Ball Multiverse: Zen Buu attempts this with Broly, but is thwarted by the efforts of U16 Vegetto, Gohan, Bra, and the Namek that pushed the button to send him back because he didn't think leaving Broly in their universe was a good idea.
- Later played straight with Xeniloum's armor.
- And he says he did that in his universe with one of the musicians at the Figrindan orchestra.
- MSF High has the Legion, who are unique in this in that they're actually good guys nowadays. A big plot point is that Legion retain characteristics from the old life, or are exactly the same (however, they've still been compared to both the Borg and the Flood). They do have a hive mind, however.
- The Akinator will successfully guess the character you're thinking about, then use your answers to add to its own knowledge of this character. Or if he fails to best you, he'll still increase his knowledge anyway.
- This ends up being the goal of Missingno during The Entity arc of Atop the Fourth Wall, to absorb all existence into itself.
- Mr. Popo does this to Blue Popo in Dragon Ball Abridged in a video advertising their visit to Youmacon 2010.
Mr. Popo: Okay, I'll bite, what the hell is this?
Oh. Hello, my crass counterpart. I'm Blue Popo, and I...
Mr. Popo: No.
Blue Popo: Pardon?
Mr. Popo: Prepare to be assimilated.
Blue Popo: Whatever do you me... [black tentacles infiltrate his blue color] No! No! No! Kami!
Mr. Popo: [laughs]
- In Ben 10: Omniverse, Malware is a mutant Galvanic Mechamorph (a being of living technology), who can permanently absorb other devices in order to upgrade himself, as opposed to the rest of his kind, who can upgrade existing technology (though it is implied Malware can do this as well, but chooses not to). Before an upgrade, however, he caused anything he absorbed to corrode, even OTHER MECHAMORPHS!
- In the original Ben 10 series, we have Dr. Victor, who can take control of technology under certain circumstances (justified in Word of God info, as he is revealed to come from a Frankenstein monster-like race).
- The Brains in Futurama seek to copy and store a record of everything, then destroy it, thus preventing anything new from happening and having complete, universal knowledge.
- Cyborg!Trina in the Grojband episode "Ahead of Our Own Tone".
- Brainiac in Justice League had a similar motive to the Brains, but once fused with Lex Luthor, it/he/they decided to go full A God Am I and replace everything In Their Own Image in one master stroke.
- Alpha from Men In Black: The Series used to provide the page picture. He was the original head of MIB but now hunts aliens for body parts to make himself more powerful. The first time we see him, he's still humanoid but has a small arsenal of Combat Tentacles concealed in his body, and he only gets freakier from there. Interestingly, he moves away from this trope during the last season, modifying himself using robot parts instead.
- The Bugs from Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles do this to the most badass lifeforms on each planet they conquer.
- The Game Master from Teen Titans wanted to assimilate the gathered heroes' various powers. He manages to absorb all but Robin; who ironically has absolutely no powers and thus nothing to give him. He then proceeds to have his butt handed to him on a platter.
- In Transformers Animated, Lockdown, a bounty hunter who takes a "prize" from each of his targets (and, quite often, whoever stands between him and his targets), is the Humongous Mecha version of Alpha.
"I remember you... EMP generator, right? I'm not good with names and faces, but I never forget a trophy."
- The Spirit Drinker in X-Men seems to be this, though it was pretty much a hungry beast, and once the souls are fully consumed, they're just gone. The Phalanx, on the other hand, do assimilate people. In fact, the animated version actually said "Resistance is futile; you will be assimilated."
- Retroviruses directly integrate their own genes into the genetic code of a host cell in an attempt to turn it into a factory for more viruses, which sometimes inherit DNA from the original cell. This actually contributes significantly to the speed of evolution, and some of the "junk" DNA originated from retroviral infections.
- An unfortunate characteristic of nationalism in many countries in the past. Virtually every country, usually with force, has behaved this way toward ethnic minorities in some manner. To what extent remains a very contentuous subject even now.
- The Real Life head of the Standard Oil Corporation of New Jersey, Mr John D Rockefeller Sr, referred to the process of using trusts to take control of independent oil companies as assimilation. Absorbing competitors into his monopoly was promoted as being more benevolent than driving them out of business. Possibly the Ur Example.
- The Falcon programming language is this trope applied to language design. It purports to have integrated six different paradigms, and seem to have the overall philosophy that "if it exists, we want it".
- C++ does the same thing, although it's attracted something of a hatedom for it (in fairness this is because several of the features it has absorbed are mutually contradictory). Programming languages tend to be criticized for doing this because it can end up impossible to use all of the language to do what you want, or to constrain and focus your thought process.
- Besides trying to murder every single Jewish person they could find, and to turn Eastern Europe into a German colony and the Slavs into a Slave Race, this trope is essentially what Those Wacky Nazis wanted to do to the "Teutonic" states of Western and Northern Europe (Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, etc.): force their inhabitants to accept the Nazis' racist dogma and to integrate them directly into the totalitarian society of the Third Reich.
- This is a basic tactic of any military empire. As an empire grows, its army must grow to defend the new land, and the only way to do that is to get the people you just conquered to join your army. This allowed tiny backwater settlements like Rome and Macedon to conquer the known world simply by doing it one nation at a time and getting a larger army every time. Some of the greatest generals of all time, such as Pyrrhus of Epirus and Hannibal, won every battle they fought but ended up losing the war because they couldn't get the allegiance of the local people.
- The extent of this depends on the empire. While the Romans might have assimilated the people their own attitudes and culture changed little. Compare that to the Normans who went from (essentially) mead drinking Vikings to wine drinking Christians in a generation, became the ruling class of a hefty swathe of the world and ended up being both among the most enthusiastic crusaders at one end of Europe and on such good terms with their Muslim citizens at the other that the most extravagant cathedral of the era boasted that its decoration had been done by skilled Islamic craftsmen. The Romans assimilated the people, the Normans assimilated themselves.
- What happened to the Normans also happened to the Mongols: they conquered vast swathe of the world and end up inheriting the culture of the conquered people. This happened in China, Central Asia, and the Middle East. The Khanate horde was eventually dissolved, since the now-settled Mongol-descendants are no longer interested in obeying the words of some tent-dwellers from half a world away.
- The United States of America. The national motto of "E pluribus unum" means "out of many, one"; the Statue of Liberty says "give me your tired and hungry, your huddled masses." Only instead of going out to aggressively incorporate other peoples (early days notwithstanding), citizens of other nations are invited and encouraged to add their culture to the national gestalt. Hence, "the Melting Pot." Inevitably, there are some who don't agree that this is a wholly good and desirable thing.
- The European Union boasts a similar moto (In varietate concordia "United in diversity"), and since its inception 22 states (23 if you count East Germany) joined the 6 founding members in a -so far- bloodless process of assimilation of new territories and people that multiplied its population by three and its surface by four. Just like the US, the assimilation process (called "enlargement") is a subject of much disagreement and debate among Europeans.
- This wiki. It doesn't matter if you stopped in here for a moment just to read a couple of pages on a lark; eventually, you're going to be tempted to add an example to one of them. And then another. And another. And another. Before you know it, you'll have launched a dozen tropes through YKTTW, created at least one page for a film, book, or series, and participated in one debate where ninety percent of the conversation is entirely in Wiki Words. But don't feel too bad. If it likes you, it rewards you by pushing you towards new media in which you previously had no interest. As masters of your time and attention go, TV Tropes is kind.
- This was also a defining characteristic of Habsburg Austria until the end of World War I, which often expanded and consolidated its territories through diplomacy, marriage and conflict.